Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Gospel and the Smart Phone

Dannah Gresh: We live in a day when electronic devices affect life on every level! Jaquelle Crowe challenges us to see that as an opportunity!

Jaquelle Crowe: The way we use technology is not neutral. We have a responsibility to use tech as tools, not toys.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgmuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for December 12, 2019. I’m Dannah Gresh.

The truth of God’s Word is extremely practical, and we want our teaching on Revive Our Hearts to be practical, too. So today we’ll talk about how the gospel intersects with our use of electronics. I don’t know, Nancy, about you, but I certainly need this practical conversation!

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: In fact, over the last few days you and I have been having a running conversation by text about how the gospel affects our use of electronics. I know that the Lord has been doing a fresh work in each of our lives in that area.

So, like the “iron that sharpens iron” in Proverbs 27:17, we need to explore with each other how the truth of God’s Word shapes our day-to-day life.

Dannah: We need teaching from our pastors on these practical issues. But Nancy, I think it’s really helpful, as a woman, to hear some of this life-on-life teaching from other women.

Nancy: I’m so thankful, Dannah, that Revive Our Hearts is here day after day offering this true, reliable, practical help for women as we look at God’s Word together. And all of that’s possible thanks to listeners who appreciate this truth and who want it to continue. Without that support from our listeners, this program . . . well, it wouldn’t even exist!

Dannah: I would not like to imagine a world without Revive Our Hearts! So if you appreciate this program as much as I do, if you’re challenged by it and you want to see it continue, would help us at this especially important time? Here in December some friends of the ministry have offered a matching challenge. That means they’re doubling every gift as a part of our end-of-year matching challenge.

Nancy: And that challenge ends on December 31. So would take some time to ask the Lord how He would want you to support this program? Then you can help meet this challenge by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. 

Dannah: Okay, Nancy, I think I need to start today’s program with a confession. Ready?

Nancy: Um, sure.

Dannah: Here goes. I sometimes spend way too much time on Instagram.

Nancy: Oh, Dannah! Not seriously! 

Dannah: Uh-huhh. You mean you don’t? You never had that problem?

Nancy: Me?! Ever? [Dannah laughs] Oh, why did you have to bring that up?!

Dannah: Because I think it’s something that we should talk about on the program today.

Nancy: I’ve got to tell you, ever since I started dating Robert . . . He is just so intentional, and I love this about him! He challenged me about this when we were dating. He would say, “The throne before the phone!”

Dannah: Oh, I just did a “throne-before-the-phone” challenge for my heart.

Nancy: You did?

Dannah: Yes, in fact we were doing the Lies Young Women Believe Bible study online last fall, and one of the teen girls said that in the comments. I felt so convicted that I tried it for a week, and it was really transforming!

Nancy: Yes.

Dannah: But I feel like every now and then I need another heart check, because if I’m not careful, an innocent little “let me check my Instagram account”—or Pinterest or Facebook, whatever it is—turns into thirty or forty minutes. 

Nancy: Or more. 

Dannah: Yes, and then I’m too busy to have my time with the Lord that morning.

Nancy: Too busy or too scattered. I find that the more I check into social media, my laptop, my email—all that stuff—it gets really hard for me to get back to the Word and have a quiet heart when I do.

Dannah: So today we’re going to take a heart check—for you, for me, for all of us. We have a special guest that’s going to help us, because she’s developed a tool that may redirect the way we use our social media. Her name is Jaquelle Crowe . . . at least that’s her name as we’re recording today.

Nancy: And by the time this airs, her name will be Jaquelle Ferris. Jaquelle . . . that part’s not changing!

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris: That’s right, I will still be Jaquelle!

Nancy: Jaquelle, we’re really glad to have you here on Revive Our Hearts over the last few days, and have been delighted to get to know you. It makes my heart so happy to know that God is raising up younger women like you who love Him, who love His Word, who are passionate about their walk with Christ and are sharing it with others. It just gives us hope about what God is doing in the next generation.

Dannah: And we hope that maybe some of us can approach social media differently! You’ve written a book called This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years. I was shocked when I was thumbing through this book to find out that you did not have a Facebook account until you were eighteen years old!

Jaquelle: I was so weird! 

Dannah: That’s so old!

Jaquelle: It’s true! Yes, I know.

Dannah: That’s like almost retired from Facebook!

Jaquelle: It’s true, yes. Not that many young people even use Facebook anymore.

Dannah: That’s a true thing.

Jaquelle: But, hey, it’s handy for keeping in touch. That was something that was very intentional that my parents and I sat down and talked about together. I remember being fourteen/fifteen, talking about it, and we just talked about the fact that it wasn’t really necessary for me at the time.

We talked about what would be the reasons for having it. We talked about the potential dangers of it. 

Nancy: When you say, “We talked,” did they talk? Or did you talk with them?

Jaquelle: They talked and asked questions, and I asked questions and also talked. So all of us talked together.

Nancy: And your friends were getting it by that time?

Jaquelle: Yes, I probably had a mix of some friends who had it, some friends who didn’t. I was an email kid. I love to keep in touch with my friends through email.

Nancy: You are an old soul!

Dannah: Yes, that is a little weird.

Jaquelle: Admitting that is a little strange. Yeah, teenagers don’t really use email anymore. And I don’t use email that much, so that was something. I had ways of communicating with my friends. And this was something that even though I didn’t have a Facebook account until I was eighteen, my parents sought to create ways and opportunities for me to fulfill all the reasons that I’d want to have Facebook—staying in touch with friends, being able to connect with new people, all those things.

Dannah: What an important thing! Not to just take something from you, but to make sure they were proactive about giving you tools that would let you achieve the things that your heart wanted to achieve.

Nancy: So do you remember, what were some of the reasons they didn’t encourage you to get a Facebook account until you were a little older?

Jaquelle: There was the element of having a public presence before—not being ready, but giving yourself more time to prepare for that. I think that’s something that we don’t always recognize, that the things that you say online will be with you forever.

There are things that your potential future employer will check out. There will be things that your potential future spouse will look at. Even things that are deleted, they’re still on the Internet forever. So when you start a social media account, you have a platform of some sort. Even if it’s just your friends who see it, that’s still a platform.

With a platform comes responsibility, so my parents wanted to do the hard work of laying the foundation that would allow me to use any kind of platform well before they just handed me the platform and said, “Okay, be good with this, do this.” 

Dannah: That’s really good. Was there any sense that you didn’t want to go along with this decision? Or were you completely onboard?

Jaquelle: The conversation started because I had an interest in getting a Facebook account, but the more that we talked about it, the more it made sense to me. And like you what said, they provided other things. 

They did not say, “Hey, we want to take this away from you because we’re mean and we want control over your life!” But, “Hey, we just see that there are maybe more wise opportunities and avenues for you to still have these desires and longings met while at the same time preparing you for when you do want to pursue social media.”

Nancy: I love that your parents considered this a process and a dialogue and a conversation. They didn’t just say, “No, you can’t have a Facebook account until you’re eighteen; you’re too young to have a Facebook account.” I know a lot of parents who are trying to protect their children from things that could be dangerous or unwise or that they’re not ready for.

But just laying down the law and saying, “Look, that’s the way it’s going to be,” whether it’s about social media or any other thing that their kids are interested in. But it’s how they engaged you in the process. It means that they must have worked really hard with you to cultivate relationship and trust and to say, “We’re in this together!”

Jaquelle: Absolutely! And this is something that came out of their discipleship of me, so it wasn’t just a “one and done” conversation: [Jaquelle:] “Hey, I want Facebook!” [Parents:] “No! You can’t have Facebook!” That’s not how it went. It went over months and even years as we talked about, “What is the purpose of social media?”

Using social media well is something my dad is very passionate about. So over the years it just became a long conversation.

Dannah: You know, that’s really encouraging to me. I hear from moms all the time who don’t really want their children to be on social media, but the peer pressure is so great that they cave in. And the risks of caving in are nothing to ignore. 

The average teenager is spending nine hours a day in front of a screen! Add that up. Nine times seven; somebody do the math (because I’m really bad at it!). Nine times seven is . . .

Jaquelle: Sixty-three. 

Dannah: That’s how many hours the average teenager today is engaging on—generally—social media. Sometimes the boys are more prone to be on gaming apps or their gaming.

Nancy: But in the course of a week, that’s a lot of time.

Dannah: Over the course of a week! When you think about, What should be coming first in my life?” Okay? Have I spent time with my family? Have I spent time with God? Have I done my personal grooming? Have I done my chores? Have I done my studies, my homework? Where do you get sixty-three hours to be on a screen?!

Jaquelle: Well, a big thing is the smartphone. The smartphone is with us all the time. The smartphone is so easy to turn on in any of these quiet moments in our lives—the five minutes here, the five minutes there. It’s easy to have all of our friend interaction be online. 

Dannah: That friend interaction online is happening when real, live, in-the-flesh friends are sitting at the table with you, right?

Jaquelle: Yep. Or we’re apart but we don’t want to get together. It’s easier to text.

Dannah: It makes me sad. Even women our age, Nancy . . . I’ll sometimes go out to lunch with a group of women, or I’ll be at a Christian gathering with lots of tables of women, and I just see them sitting there ignoring each other while they’re on their phones!

Nancy: I’m embarrassed to say I’ve done that. It’s highly habit forming. We’re not going to say the technology is bad or wrong or that phones are bad or wrong. They’ve enabled us to do many wonderful things. But there is something about the sense that this is controlling us rather than us controlling it.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: So it’s not just the teens that we’re talking to.

Dannah: No.

Nancy: And I know, Jaquelle, that you’re working on a new book on technology and social media for teens, but we all need this. We need help with it!

Dannah: Yes, we do! And the risk is that it’s affecting our interactions. It’s affecting our friendships, and it’s affecting our emotions.

Nancy: It’s affecting our mental development, too. There are so many studies now about the physiological, the mind, the brain activity, the learning, the ability to read. There are a lot of changes taking place in our whole makeup as the result of—now years—of attachment to these smartphones.

Dannah: And it really is attachment. There’s a big download of dopamine, which is the feel-good chemical, every time we find out that we’ve been “liked,” or a post has been approved, or we hear the ding. That sound that means, “Oh, somebody’s talking about me or to me!” That’s attaching us these little computers and inhibiting our ability to attach to real, live friends.

So, I don’t really want to spend the whole day talking about how bad it is, because, again, you said it’s not bad. We do see some correlation of depression and anxiety rising as we’re becoming more addicted to phones. Today we want to talk about solutions and how we can do a heart check on whether or not we’re using this tool well.

In that book that you’re working on right now, Jaquelle, you have a really neat concept that helped Nancy and I when we were talking with you over dinner. It was like an immediate heart check. What is your concept that you’re going to be introducing in that book?

Jaquelle: So the concept is that the way we use technology is not neutral. We have a responsibility to use tech as tools, not toys. 

Dannah: Wait, say that again.

Nancy: Because that went by really fast.

Dannah: Technology is a tool, not a toy.

Jaquelle: Yes.

Nancy: Now does that mean you can’t have fun with it?

Jaquelle: Absolutely not. It means that there is more to technology than just using it for selfish pleasure. So many people expect my generation, especially, to be addicted to technology, to be apathetic toward their use of technology, to just not really care. 

But I think we can call my generation, your generation, all Christians to a higher standard in that we can engage with tech in meaningful, gospel-motivated ways, but that starts by having a social media heart check and changing how we view it.

Dannah: I’m really burdened, as is my husband (it’s kind of his soapbox), that the opportunity to even present the gospel through social media is being decimated by the way Christians are showing up on social mediums. We are ruining our testimony before we even begin to talk about Jesus . . . and sometimes it’s when we are talking about Jesus!

Nancy: Well, it’s easy to rant when you’re communicating with people that you don’t know—you don’t really know them, you don’t see them, you’re not in their space. And Dannah, you and I have both experienced this a lot (you probably have too as well, Jaquelle). Just comments on posts that we put up about our ministries.

We are open to people disagreeing with us, challenging us. We always want to be learners, but some of the things that people post are just plain mean, unkind, vicious, dogmatic, opinionated, proud. You think if that person were sitting at the dinner table with you, would you talk to them that way?

Dannah: Exactly.

Jaquelle: Right.

Nancy: Would you be rude, dismissive, even if you didn’t agree with the person? If we were in person we would probably talk differently to these people than we feel the freedom to do when it’s in that distant social media land.

Dannah: We would talk with some kindness. Instead, we get very, very argumentative. And the Bible is really clear. God’s Word says over and over, “Do not quarrel and argue.” It says it in multiple verses. (see 1 Tim. 2:8; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 3:2) 

I think that that argumentative attitude we sometimes have on social media is becoming a barrier, the lack of kindness is becoming a barrier to the gospel. It’s not allowing social media to be a tool for it.

Jaquelle: Yes. So often screens can disconnect us from engaging with people the way that we would in person when, really, we have an opportunity through screens to interact with and engage with more people than ever before, to be kinder to more people than ever before. And, instead, we hurt people!

Dannah: I’m wondering, doesn’t Matthew 18 still apply when we’re on social media? When we see someone in our church or someone in our social circle that’s a little bit off-kilter spiritual or emotionally . . .

Nancy: “If your brother sins against you,” Matthew 18:17 says, “go . . . [to] him . . .” 

Dannah: “Go to him!”

Nancy: Not, “to the whole world!”

Jaquelle: Not, “to Twitter!”

Dannah: We are just bypassing that. Like maybe when we see something they post and it’s questionable to us and we don’t like it, we should be private messaging them, not like putting out there a three-step plan why, “You’re just a terrible person!” Right? Doesn’t it still apply, Matthew 18?

Jaquelle: I think absolutely. There’s this weird dynamic when it comes to social media and people having platforms and posting things publicly to engage with. But it’s a strange world, in that we are still called in whatever we say, however we interact with people, to treat people as people. We’re to see people the way that Jesus sees people and not try to go in and fix them. We’re to love them and care for them as fellow image-bearers of God.

Nancy: I think there’s another area where we need a heart check when it comes to social media—and we’d include in there texting and different ways of messaging. But how much of what we’re doing on this is just meaningless? It doesn’t matter; it doesn’t count. It’s useless! Ephesians 4 talks about putting away all useless conversation.

Now that doesn’t mean that every conversation we have in person or on social media has to be de-e-e-p, you know, meaningful. But I wonder how many of us are going to look back on things we wrote or pictures we posted.

Dannah: How many pictures of my breakfast do you need to see? 

Nancy: . . . or of me?

Dannah: Right, right . . . or of me. Yes, we just keep posting our selfies. That I think is the heart check that I most need: how much of this is just a mindless use of my time? If the Lord is telling me to be a good steward of my time and if He’s telling me that I have purpose and a mission in life . . .

I don’t know that a lot of the things I do on social media are unkind or sinful in the sense of outright committing sin, being unkind. I’m pretty careful in that respect (mostly because many unkind things have been posted to me, and I know how that feels!) But I am very guilty of being mindless about just spending too much time on things that don’t matter!

Jaquelle: So, actually, this habit that we’ve developed . . . We pick our phones up and we don’t have anything to do on them. We have no purpose whatsoever . . . and the time just goes!

Nancy: It makes you wonder what the Lord might want us to be doing with that time. How fragmented and fractured are we becoming in our ability to carry on meaningful conversations with people or with the Lord?

Dannah: Yes, or even just being available when someone does need us later in the day. For me, that mindless time on social media ends up being . . . I feel rushed to do the urgent and important things that were on my to-do list for the day—whether it’s cooking for my family or taking care of the home or whatever.

Suddenly I’m stressed out and I don’t have any margin in my life for when a friend calls and says, “I’m in crisis!” Like, “I used my ‘crisis time’ today on Instagram and Pinterest.” I want the Lord to look at my day and find that I was faithful with how I used it.

Jaquelle: Right, because it’s so easy to waste time on social media. And that’s where the difficulty comes in.

Dannah: Here’s a big heart check area: many times I see that Christians are political spokespersons before they are Christ’s ambassadors. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t right and wrong political opinions, things that line up with God’s Scripture and things that are very opposed to His Scripture. 

But I think Paul in his letter to Timothy (which these are his last words) says, “Here’s the urgent stuff I need to say because I don’t have much time with you.” One of the things he says in 2 Timothy 2:23–25 is, 

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” 

That “gentleness,” it’s not saying you can’t have an opinion. It’s saying, “Be careful how you do this. Be gentle. Win them with patience.”

Nancy: Breathe grace in and breath grace out. We’re making a statement and an impact for the gospel in how we communicate with each other, how we express our opinions, whether what we’re posting or texting or communicating. Is it about me? Is it about you? Is it about Christ? What is it about? Why am I doing it?

We’re just saying there needs to be—for all of us—some more intentionality. I feel a little bit in this conversation like we’re sounding like a bunch of old folks. 

Dannah: But Jaquelle’s not an “old folk!”

Jaquelle: No! I agree!

Nancy: But that’s why I’m looking at you, Jaquelle. I’m saying, your generation has never known a day of their lives without screens and social media. Some of us can remember some quieter, simpler days, in a way. Not that we want to go back to the “good old days,” because they had their issues, too. 

But how in a world that operates this way, this is our language of today, without throwing out the language of our culture in our day (and whatever new ones are going to come out by the time this program airs) can we be above reproach? How can we be gospel-centered? How can we be Christ-centered, careful, wise stewards of the technology?

Jaquelle: Oh, so many ways! I think one of the biggest things is what you have both just said so well—intentionally. Especially my generation, technology is all we know, the way that we use our smartphones. It’s very easy to be unintentional, because it’s just part of life, it’s another appendage.

We need to change our thinking to say, “Hey, we actually want to use social media in a way that honors God. Hey, we actually don’t want to waste all of our time.” This is a huge place that this starts. And a way that this has happened most in my life is through accountability. So, accountability from my parents (I have godly parents), accountability from my church, accountability from mentors—older women who are willing to ask me hard questions about specific things that I post or how much time I’m spending on social media. Accountability.

Dannah: Now, there are even apps that help you with the accountability of the time you spend. And that’s a real eye-opener. Then you get to the end of the week and you’re like, “I spent seven hours on social media? No, that’s not going to happen this week!” So, yes, that’s a really big deal, the accountability.

Jaquelle: And it’s scary. Accountability has kind of been undermined and maligned in our culture. My generation is very afraid of accountability, because we think it’s people being judgmental of us and hypocrisy, trying to point out all the flaws in our lives without recognizing any of those in their own. But accountability is really an act of love.

It’s a response built out of a desire to not see us fall off the cliff, to see us not make the same mistakes that they’ve made or that they’ve seen. Accountability is absolutely something born of love.

Nancy: But I have to invite that into my life. I have to want that. I have to see the value of it. I have to feel like I need it. It’s one thing for me to say, “Jaquelle, your generation needs accountability on your social media use!” I can’t make your generation want that, but I can model the value and the benefit and the beauty of it by welcoming it into my own life.

Jaquelle: Absolutely.

Dannah: And that’s kind of the point of our conversation today, because we need that accountability. We’re hoping that you do, too, and that you take some of these things that we’ve talked about today to heart, to do a heart check. As you said, Nancy, “The throne before the phone!” That’s probably the best heart check of all, right?

Nancy: Thank you, Robert Wolgemuth! And he lives that consistently, and I see the sweet fruit of that in his life. You could say, “Well, he’s older. His generation isn’t the tech.” Listen, he enjoys social media and news and politics and these things as much as anybody, but I see the beauty in his life of starting the day in the Word, on his knees, seeking the Lord.

I find when I don’t do that, my heart is so fractured, so fragmented, so distracted, so distractible. I don’t have a quiet heart. I don’t think as well. I’m scrambled; I’m frantic. I think the constant stimulus of what I get off of my phone is, in many ways, more harmful than helpful. So I see him use the phone in a way that is really helpful, and it’s motivated me to want more of that!

Jaquelle, I’m so thankful that you’re writing this book on technology and social media for teenagers, and I hope it will be available soon. But in the meantime, the book that you wrote when you were eighteen years old is the one we’ve been letting people know about this week. It’s called This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.

And that includes everything—social media use, relationships, view of church, personal disciplines, use of time . . . all of those things you talk about. We’re making that book available this week to anyone who makes a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, so we can keep discipling each other and women in this country and around the world in these truths of walking with God. 

We’re making the book available for a donation of any amount, and encouraging you to take your copy of this book and ask God to show you a teenager that you can give it to, to invest in the next generation. 

Dannah: Yes, your daughter, your granddaughter, a girl in your church. You never know how that might just be life-changing. I know a girl whose life was changed because someone had the courage to walk up to her and say, “I don’t know why, but I bought you this book at a conference.” So just follow the Lord; ask Him.

You can make that donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Nancy: And Jaquelle, thank you so much for joining us on the broadcast this week. You’re Jaquelle Crowe as we’re looking at you today, but by the time this airs you’ll be Mrs. Ferris. 

Dannah: Yay!

Jaquelle: That’s right. Thank you so much for having me.

Nancy: We bless you. We encourage you. We’re so thrilled to see what God is doing in your life! And our prayer is that through your ministry—now as a “Mrs.”—God is going to continue to use you and make you fruitful for His glory, for all of your life! 

Jaquelle: Oh, amen! Thank you!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages you to love enough to put down your phone. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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