My Marriage Got Hacked: 4 Questions to Un-Hack Your Marriage

My wife and I were having a discussion the other day about a specific social media post we see all too often. It says something to the fact of,

Sorry everyone. My account somehow got hacked. Ignore any messages from me. 

Some people get legitimately “hacked.” And that is something to NOT take light of. It happens to thousands (if not millions) of people. “Hacking” is what happens when an outside entity tries to get gain unauthorized access to a system. Simply said: an outside source wants to work and manipulate its way inside to wrestle control from you.

What I find, more often than not, is the circumstance doesn’t constitute “hacking.” The person authorized someone/something. It could have been done by simply clicking a link and/or ignorantly agreed to allow access to their personal social media account by the game/forum/article he/she was checking out. In other words, you granted permission to something and didn’t realize how much access, liberty, and control the entity was going to take.

Do you see the difference? One situation is about something trying to get inside that doesn’t belong. The other is something that doesn’t belong but has been granted permission to come inside.

That’s when the litany of social posts come. Frustration. Embarrassment. Anger. All of it brewing out of the misunderstanding that you were “hacked.” When in reality, you may not have had an external “hostile takeover” but an unanticipated result from a guest you invited in. Don’t be surprised by the fruit of what you’ve given access to.  Don’t be freaked out when you see something happen from what you allowed in.

There is so much truth to grasp, not just in our social media experience, but in our marriage. I wonder how many relationships are inviting unanticipated and/or unnecessary challenges, not because of the natural differences between a husband and wife, but by the “entities” that have been authorized access. To name a few,

  • If you listen gossip, don’t be surprised when bitterness starts to gain access.
  • If you entertain envy, don’t be surprised when contentment dies.
  • If you indulge in isolation tactics, don’t be surprised when the “feelings” of love begins to wain.
  • If you foster cynicism, don’t be surprised when you can’t discover hope.
  • If you allow pornography, don’t be surprised when intimacy begins to deteriorate.
  • If you entertain unforgiveness, don’t be surprised when trust never gets rebuilt.

Perhaps before we have a response that says, “I don’t know how this happened but ________ has been going on,” we should turn inward. It’s easy to pick off the “fruit” of what you are seeing. It’s a who other thing to get to the roots of what is creating the fruit. Ask yourself:

  • Did I allow this inside?
    • Change begins with humility. And asking this question isn’t about dealing with things on your own but approaching every marriage situation, not with the assumption that “it’s got to be someone else” but from a place that says, “it could be my fault” or “I may have played a part in this.”  Humility is what causes our lives to be pliable in the hands of the Lord. The “we” of the marriage is much easier to shape if the “me” is contrite enough to approach it.
  • Where did the issue get access?
    • It’s easier to understand the depth an unhealthy marital issue or habit if you can identify the source fueling it. What is feeding it? Where is it happening? How did it start? Think of it like a boat taking on water. It’s pointless to get the water out of the boat if you do nothing about the leak. Find the access point and, together, deal with it.
  • What can WE do to move out of this?” 
    • Again, marriage issues are “we” issues.  The point of starting with “personal” humility is for both the husband and wife to have shapable hearts that will work with each other and for the health of the marriage.  Even in a case for which one spouse has some personal issues to navigate through, he/she shouldn’t feel like they’re doing it alone. As scripture says, the “two become one.” Make sure there is a sense that “we are moving forward together” and not “you need to do this.”
  • How do WE guard ourselves? How do WE grow from here?
    • They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Don’t just go about your marriage “business as usual.” Grow forward by making some tweaks and changes. When you see bad “fruit,” picking the fruit off doesn’t deal with the root issues. So stepping back and developing a plan of attack is paramount to marital maturity.

We can continue to defer our marriage issues as getting “hacked” as if someone/something has invaded our marriage and brought the lack of health we are experiencing. Sometimes there are just natural differences between husbands and wives that are needing to be worked through. Many times, we need to step back into humility and see that there may be the potential of something being the fruit of what we allowed access into our relationship.

Love you all. Praying for husbands and wives today as you work through, together, some root issues and see greater marital health grow.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.

Repairing My Social Media Reputation: 4 Simple Rules of Social Media

It won’t take long to know me before you realize that I’m a huge fan of social media. Almost daily you can find me active on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. I do have LinkedIn but no idea why (does anyone actually use it?).

Yes, you can fill me in on all the bad and the stuff you don’t like (or I can just read your posts to get that). But I see an awesome opportunity with it. Call me optimist or idealist, but just because people abuse a privilege doesn’t mean we necessarily throw it all out. Some of the misuse, I feel, simply comes with zero to no thought of, or any type of vision for it.

Personally, something happening in me a few years back. The more social media I did, the more “personal rules” formed in my head. For example, if you use the word “go” at the end of your post, I utterly refuse to comment out of some weird pet peeve I have with that (“What is your favorite restaurants…go”).  Or if you constantly post cheesy Christian memes that say something to the fact of “If you love Jesus, like it and share it,” you may get unfollowed (not unfriended). One of my favorites, the people who want to hijack the fun thread by sucking the fun out with criticism or negativity. I remember posting about my staff and I having fun and someone came in to proclaim “this is why the lost are not hearing about Jesus.” I’ve learned to delete the negativity and move on.

Then I noticed something else. Some notifications stirred stress while others brought an immediate smile. Why was that?  The social media reputations of people preceded their posts. Some people have built up a trust (or lack thereof) and anticipation for what they had to say.

So I sat back and begin to form a set “personal social media” rules to guide me and help (or even repair) my social media reputation. I love the smile that comes to my face when others post and I want to bring the same thing. So here are the four:

Inspire a Heart – Hebrews 3:13
Every morning, I like starting off with something “inspirational” that will encourage and/or challenge someone. Usually, these are born out of my journal postings, study, and reading. There’s no rhyme or pattern as they are just thoughts, I feel, the Lord is developing and working in my life.  As silly as it may sound to you, keeping this in front of me has challenged me to continue to journal, process thoughts, and work hard at bringing them to a simplistic form (144 characters or less).  In the midst of a world of constant media that facilitates no hope, I want people to know where they can find some sort of encouragement every morning.

Bring a Smile – Proverbs 17:22
My daughter and I talk about how much we enjoy “finding the funny” in life. From moments in stores to the stuff that happens every day in our home, I learned a long time ago from my Canadian grandfather to “find the funny.” It seemed that he had a way of looking at the serious world us in a different light.

People think authenticity is reason enough to be negative in the name of “being real.” I feel negativity is a lazy and takes little to no effort. I see authenticity as reason enough to connect to others about how human you are. I don’t care about my “title.” My heart is to help bring a smile to someone.

Social media is a chance to say, “I bet I’m not the only one who’s done this.”  Some of you worship the image of yourself that you’ve been trying to create to people on social media. I’m about smashing idols. Be humble to share mistakes. Be open about the silly things that happen. Find ways to add to someone’s joy and amusement. It’s amazing that, in the midst of your humiliating authentic where people will connect and open up. Why? Laughter connects and heals hearts.

Give some hope. – Colossians 1:27
People should be able to see Christ in me and the hope of glory. It means my attitude and character needs to be seen in my postings. Whether my posts are about sports (most of them I leave on twitter) or about my beliefs, people are watching me and getting a glimpse of Christ. It doesn’t mean I’m ultra serious, but it does mean that I am a steward of my social media reputation. The question I ask myself, “in the platforms I express myself, is Christ being expressed?”

I am determined that believers can be Joshua’s and Caleb’s (Numbers 13-14) standing up in a world of hopelessness and be the voice of hope. I think that our statuses and posts can inspire Kingdom characteristics (Galatians 5:22-23). It shouldn’t be our only voice of evangelism but is a tremendous place for people to get a glimpse of the Christ in you and the hope of your glory.

Distinguish between public to private. – Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 19:11, Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Peter 4:8
Just because social media is a form of community doesn’t mean all conversations need to exist there. I’ll admit, there are some subjects I won’t breach on social media because it isn’t the proper platform to express myself and/or handle the emotions behind the issue. In the words of the great social media guru Kenny Rodgers,

“You’ve got to know when to hold them. Know when to fold them. Know when to walk away. And know when to run.”

It’s maturity to know when to direct people toward private conversations instead of threads. It takes wisdom to say, “Hey, let’s continue this conversation over coffee (or at worst, a private message).” You cannot see it as an act of cowardice but a place of stewardship. Far too many threads explode out of the lack of conversational tone or ignorance over the issues and past conversations.

In the words of the great theologian Uncle Ben (Spiderman’s uncle),

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Can we reclaim social media? Can we redeem the opportunity we have at our disposal? I think with the access we have, we can not just develop community but be a source of refreshing to those we’re connected to.

Let’s make social media great again and trump the negativity (too soon?…Anne told me to put that).

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

Social-Media Church: 8 Reasons why you should encourage your congregation to post while you preach.

I’m a proponent of social-media.  Like it or not, it’s here and we have an opportunity to utilize it as an amazing tool for our preaching. The words “Hear, O Israel” in Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God wanted his instructions to have the maximum reach.  He didn’t want anyone to miss out on what he was saying.  Why can’t we have bigger vision for our sermons by being strategic by encouraging social-media during the message? 

Here’s a few thoughts on why you should be okay with people on their phones/tablets during the message (and yes, I know I’m using Deuteronomy to support social-media): 

1. People remember more when they write/type something down.  People tend to process more of what they write down (I’ve heard people remember 85% more of they hear by writing it down).  Therefore, while they’re thumbs are frantically flying across their screen, they’re focusing on what was said.  And yes I recognize they could be missing the next few words of the message.  But think about this: We’re upping the percentage of retention. Why wouldn’t we ask them to tweet/post?  Why did God tell the Israelites to write down the greatest commandment in Deuteronomy 6? He didn’t want them to EVER forget it.  Why wouldn’t we want the congregation to have the same approach?

2. Social-media networks are VERY frequented locations. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” God told Israel, when it came to the greatest commandment, to write it down in the place where their family and their guests passed by every day.    People have to process what said while they’re thumbs are frantically flying across their screen.

3. Our memory isn’t as good as we think (at least for most of us).  We only have so much room to work and everything battles for space in our minds. I think of when people ask me to say a “happy birthday” or “happy anniversary” from the pulpit.  It’s a crapshoot with a mind that is so tuned into a sermon. I forget those requests all too often.  Often, I tweet/post and forget. It’s not till there’s been a favorite, retweet, like, share, etc. that gives me a reminder of what I posted.  God had Israel “bind them as a sign on your hand” as if to say, what ever you do with your hands, you’re going to get a reminder of what I said.

4. Reminds me, as the preacher, to keep things simpler. You hear it every Thanksgiving.  “I’m not sure what I ate but it was good.” If we give people too much info, they might feel fed, but they won’t know what they ate because there was so much.

I will put my main points into twitter frequently.  It’s not to necessarily post them.  It’s to see if they fit into 144 characters (with the hashtag). Long sermons might sound really spiritual, but they’re not more effective.  Having short, memorable (tweet-able) statements have a greater capacity for sticking in a persons memory as they walk away from the service to retain, talk about, and live out. How can you help people remember so that they “shall be on your heart” (*their heart)? Make them tweet-able.

For some help, Preaching Rocket does an excellent job constantly doing blogs and video-casts about developing “Sticky Statements.”

5. Gives a place to revisit. This is a bit like #2.  As a teenager, I started taking sermon notes. Part of it was to stay awake (it’s okay to admit). The other side was to re-read and retain.  More often than not, the bulletin cover was accidentally lost, thrown away, or left in my pocket and gone through the wash.  Encouraging posting/tweeting gives an easily accessible place to revisit over and over to get that one or two main points of a message. (Unless you’re like my wife and post EVERYTHING from a message.) Writing them “on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” was a place to revisit over and over.

6. Social-media, like it or not, is what our younger generations use to communicate to each other. Part of me says, I’d rather have them in church tweeting and listening than sitting at home tweeting and not here.  The other side says, give them something to tweet about. I give my kids permission to tweet during the service.  90% of the time it’s about the message.  The other 10% is this:

Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” To a generation who, literally, tweets/posts while they sit in the house, walk by the way, etc…why not give them something to tweet about? Even better, mom and dad, why not talk with them about what they tweet after the service.  Take the message to the next step with them. 

7. Make it fun and interactive. Some people make church anything but fun.  We’ve challenged people to do selfies during congregational greeting, pictures of their families sitting in the same row, and groupies of the people who sit around them.  It’s fun.  But behind the fun is getting people to engage with others around them.  I’ll Instagram from the front row shots of missionaries speaking or videos of the worship team. People will post weird things I say.  It keeps it light and fun and, again, more engaging for people. 

8. Keeps the conversation going. When you encourage people to post, where do their posts go? On the Facebook wall and Twitter feed (not to forget Instagram and Snapchat).  I see it every Sunday.  People from the congregation start interacting with each other on the fun and the serious stuff.  Even better,  people who do not attend church start engaging in the points.  Think about it: a 40 minute (ish) message goes on longer (and perhaps more affective) because of social-media and a pastor’s careful heart to make things “tweet-able.”  Use hashtags to help meld together the posts and you’ve got yourself a social-media conversation that can go on all week.  Again, the words “Hear, O Israel” in Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God wanted his instructions to reach everyone.  Opening up the conversation that you began on Sunday to the entire social-media network world is a great (and free) way to reach people you will never see and/or interact with.  

I’m a preacher who loves to preach.  I’m also a preacher who always wants to be better at my craft.  If God has given you any gift/ability, then you are called to be a steward of that gift.  Sometimes being a steward is stepping back to take a new look at what you have (or what you are doing). Perhaps if worked hard to give better quality and less quantity mixed with more engagement, we’ll have better effectiveness with our craft to our communities and beyond.  Don’t stop growing in this.  Don’t stop learning.  Don’t stop letting God stretch you in proclaiming the Gospel.  

Preach the Word.  Use words.  Use tweets.  Use pics. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

2 Minute Marriage Devo – Day 4

Welcome to our 2 Minute Devos. This month we are in our Annual Marriage Series at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God and we’re going through devotions for couples. Take the time to read through the passage of the day and listen to the 2 Minute Devo.

Psalm 101:3

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.