Social Media Fame Will Not Ease Your Emotional Pain

A Bing search today provided an ironic set of results for celebrity Selena Gomez. She became the first person to reach 100 million Instagram followers AND checked herself into a rehab facility to deal with depression and emotional issues. One would think that someone who has so many fans would have no reason to suffer emotionally, yet this is not the case, as social media followers cannot provide the same emotional support to deal with serious problems in life. As a celebrity, Gomez probably realizes this and understands the difference between fans and friends. However, those of us who do not have fame may feel that if we could just have 1,000 social media followers then our voice could be heard and we would be important. Such is an illusion. There is far more value in a few people who truly love and support you than many times that in “followers.”

Gomez likely is suffering additional problems brought on because of celebrity. If we think fame will solve problems, it will probably only magnify our problems and may create new ones. Many business, sports, and entertainment stars have achieved their goals and received the riches and accolades they desired only to discover a nagging question: “Is this all there is?” The book of Ecclesiastes emphasizes the futility of the things in this life bringing our life meaning; however, we can be satisfied with work and achievement if we have it in perspective. There are famous people who do not care about fame who are able to handle its rise and fall with grace.

From my understanding, Selena Gomez has gone through some significant challenges that would impact anyone’s emotional state. It is wise that she is seeking help to deal with these issues and hopefully she will find strength and encouragement to get through this difficult time. It is good that she is turning to people and not drugs or alcohol. I understand the treatment is from a Christian perspective so I hope, and will pray, she can find God’s wisdom as a strength and guide.

5 Reasons I Don’t Get Freaked Out During an Election Year

  1. God rules in the affairs of men. I vote. God decides.
  2. My citizenship is in heaven. I’m sojourning through this world of kingdoms that rise and fall like the tides towards a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God.
  3. Our founding fathers gave us a country with a balance of powers so no one person can destroy this country in a few years–it has to be a group effort.
  4. I’d rather spend an hour in prayer or study than the same hour listening to biased talk radio or learning the tip of the iceberg of hundreds of issues that pass like fads. I was a political junkie and news addict for years but it didn’t change anything. I stay informed but not obsessed.
  5. Legislation can criminalize behaviors but not create morality. I’ve witnessed the ability of the gospel to make a holy man out of a wretched sinner and change the immoral into modest, responsible, righteous individuals. Reform begins within.

Reflections on the Alabama Tornadoes and How To Help

by Russell Poe

Wednesday just felt like things were going to be bad. The ferocious winds of the morning that destroyed a house a few miles away reminded me of the hurricane winds I witnessed many times in Florida. The weather reporters seemed more nervous than usual. Nothing prepared us for the ferocity of the storms, the continual reports of new tornadoes in various locations, and the early reports of devastation. The strangest moment was listening to the account of the tornadoes sweeping near where I preach (about 45 minutes away) as I sat on my deck in the sunshine having just witnessed a tornado system pass by a few miles away only an hour or so before.

I grew up in Fultondale, preached for five years in Northport/Tuscaloosa, have directed summer camps at Children’s Harbor near Alexander City, and live just north of Warrior (all cities in Alabama). All of these locations were seriously damaged in the tornado and straight line wind damage last Wednesday, April 28, 2011. Our own small town suffered damage and we were without power for over three days and without water for about a day. Though we suffered some electrical system damage to one of our house circuits, some friends of ours down the road suffered serious damage to their house. The tornadoes in our area passed a few miles either side of our house so we happily accepted the inconvenience of lost power and water to loss of a house or life.

Over the past two days I have passed through several of the communities damaged by the storms and seen the videos and pictures of damage in other areas. The devastation to areas that I knew so well is shocking and hard to grasp. It is one of the few disasters where everyone I know was affected directly or knew someone who was. Many of the communities destroyed were working class or low income areas where the normal challenges to living day by day have now intensified. The government and aid agencies are responding quickly but I think most people are wanting to know how they can help. Here are some ideas:

Donate and/or Volunteer

There are professional organizations who have the personnel and organizational ability to coordinate relief quickly to these areas. Some good sites for coordinated efforts to respond to this disaster are:

Serve Alabama (Governor Bentley’s Alabama Tornado Relief Fund)
Federal Emergency Management Agency Helping Others Site
American Red Cross (Or text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to give $10)
Local Media (WERC and MyFoxAL)

Pray

The people here need your prayers for those who have lost loved ones, homes, and are trying to recover. Remember the rescue crews and utility crews as they try to save lives and help the communities rebuild. Pray for opportunities for the gospel to reach those who are lost who, because of the events of the past week, are reconsidering their relationship with God. Pray for the other states that were affected and the communities recovering.

In Alabama we are accustomed to tornado watches and warnings during the warm months. Several times a year we  journey to the basement–our safe place–to wait out the threat. I believe the average Southerner probably knows more tornado related weather terminology and can interpret a weather map better than the rest of the world. Sometimes we can become complacent, but most of us have been close to or in a tornado and have developed a healthy respect for the power of these storms. This week, our appreciation for the power of the storms and the power of everyday people helping others rebuild after a disaster grew exponentially.

Michael Jackson: A Cautionary Tale

Michael Jackson had fame from youth, earned incredible millions, considered the greatest in his work, adored by millions–all the things that so many people seek. Yet he was haunted by his troubled youth, insecure and unhappy with his appearance, failed in marriage, lost his millions and accumulated excessive debt, fought addiction to painkillers, and was dubbed Wacko Jacko by the public and media that formerly praised him.

MJ is an American Tragedy and cautionary tale. Fame and fortune will not bring you joy or fill a void in your soul. Some of the happiest, content, and noble people you will meet live simple lives unnoticed by the cult of personality and insignificant to Wall Street or Hollywood Blvd. Yet they are genuinely loved and love sincerely, are content with what they have, take joy in the simple pleasures in life, and follow the wisdom taught by God. They are men and women of whom the world is not worthy. They care not that the world doesn’t know them only that God knows their name and it is in His Book of Life. Some will scoff at this simplicity yet by abandoning these simple things many live tortured, miserable, and unsatisfying lives as they strive to catch the wind. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” He loses eternal joy and loses himself along the way.

Be content with who you are, who you love, and what you have. “What your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Trust and serve the one who created you because His word can guide you through the rocky shoals that lay waste to the lives of those who do not seek His help, guidance, and strength.

MJ had great opportunities and talents but got lost along the way. He could not find joy and contentment because he looked in the wrong places. I mourn his death–not of a pop icon but of a tragic life that could have been so different.

I hope your life story has a happy ending. You will write it by the actions of today. If you live a contented life with God, you will have greater riches than Michael Jackson ever enjoyed in his life and your death will not be a tragedy but a victory.

Speaking at FC Lectures

Hey guys. If any of you will be attending the Florida College lectures, I am teaching the Wednesday teen class (Be an Example in Faith, Love, and Life) and would love to see you there. Young people have a great opportunity to positively influence the world as they become like Jesus. A great example of godliness in an ungodly world can be a magnet for those who are searching for meaning or are dissatisfied with worldly things. Let your light shine and glorify God.