Stephen Sanders

Audio/Video Editor at Salem Web Network

Are Facebook Prayers a Bad Idea?

Have you ever logged into your Facebook account and seen a post like this on your News Feed?

When I see posts like this, I wonder if the person who posted it is truly sincere… or if somewhere deep down they want to be the first person on Facebook to tell the world about the news.

There seems to be a fine line in our Christian culture sometimes between asking others to pray for people and gossip. With social media giving us the power to spread news faster than ever before, it’s a good idea to stop and consider just a few things before we post prayer requests on Facebook.

Does the whole family even know yet?
Can you think of a more shocking way to find out that something horrific has just happened to someone you love than reading it in your Facebook news feed?

Is there a better way I could share my sympathy?
Call them. Visit them. If you have no other way of reaching the person besides Facebook (which, let’s face it, that’s extremely rare), shoot them a private message.

Is there a good time to pray for them publicly?
Eventually, there’s a good chance from the immediate family will post something in the Facebook News Feed. I usually take that as a good time to show my public support.

Follow Stephen Sanders on Twitter @1stephensanders

Proverbs 21
9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

The “Contentious Woman” mentioned in verses 9 & 19 is the type of wife who insists on being a difficult person for her husband to live with. She starts arguments with her husband absolutely impossible for him to win. Why? Well, mainly because she isn’t arguing because she wants an answer or a resolve to a certain situation at all. It’s because her goal is to perplex him so that she has the upper hand in the relationship. Nothing this man says is going to be of any relevance because it isn’t about him giving her the right answer.

It’s about one thing: control.

I’d imagine that if you confronted this woman about her behavior, she’d probably try to start an argument with you as well. She’d lie or manipulate you however she needed to, not to be right, but to leave that conversation making the other person feeling as though they’ve been conquered… making herself feel better about herself because she justifies her own self worth by how in control she is.

Basically, she’s the kind of person that pretty much no one wants to be around. The people that do surround her are either (A) just like her or (B) stuck with her.

So, I guess you are wondering why I’m talking so much about this person. Why does she inspire me so much? Well, not for the reason you may think...

She intrigues me because I have a tremendous fear that my daughters will turn out to be like her. After all, if a woman is like this, it’s probably not her fault. Her dad was probably not reliable at all and didn’t take the time to love her and protect her from harm. In my head, I picture this guy who just works too much and never spends time with his daughter unless it benefits him in some way. Maybe he left her and her mother because they weren’t as important as other things in his life.

He probably never just sits and listens to her dreams and aspirations or the seemingly pointless things she rambles on and on about. He probably ignores the inner promptings he gets to spend more time with his daughter and, instead sticks his nose in a video game system or whatever new gadget he paid too much money for that he finds more amusing/important than his little girl.

I can see this dad in myself sometimes and it’s scary. It’s so easy for me to become wrapped in my emotions and needs. I so desperately want all three of my daughters to grow up knowing how to love others and be confident in the person God created them to be. If they aren’t, I realize that I’ll have no one to blame but myself when I find myself embarrassed at who they’ve become.

Dads, make your daughter a top priority in your life. I mean, don’t just say she is. Make her a top priority. She’s worth every bit of inconvenience and drama you feel like she causes you. There are very few things in your life that should be more important than her. Treat her like the lovely young woman you want her to be someday.

I mean, I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d bet money that by sacrificing more of ourselves to make sure our daughters are happy and secure will someday be looked back on being some of our greatest accomplishments. And all of these things we work so hard on right now (like our stupid toys and meaningless jobs) will mean absolutely nothing when we’re old and our little girls have grown up and become forced out of our everyday lives.

Follow Stephen on Twitter, @1stephensanders

Okay, so it’s been a few weeks since “Noah” hit the big screen. You’ve probably heard rumors of strange things like “rock monsters” and feathered dogs… Noah losing his mind and trying to kill his family… the heavy handed environmentalist messages… how Aronofsky’s “Noah” is an atheist plot to taint our sacred Scriptures, etc..

Sure, some of this stuff is true. I’ll be the first to admit this is a weird movie. But now that the “flood waters have descended” a bit (see what I did there?) let me give you a few pointers if you are a Christian and are still trying to decide if you want to see this movie.

“Noah” is a Sci-Fi Movie

A fair amount of Christians went to this movie on the weekend it opened with only the theatrical trailers to go by. Paramount Pictures took a really clever approach when they decided to remove the controversial elements from the ads. The average person went into this expecting Russell Crowe as “Noah.” some other big name stars, and maybe a few  mind-numbing special effects of the Noah story they’d grown up hearing about. There wasn’t a hint of anything controversial because they knew some Christians wouldn’t give it a chance if they did.

Aronofsky’s “Noah” is a sci-fi movie. If you go into it expecting that, you probably won’t be as stunned the 1st time you see rock monsters.

Rock Monsters

I’m not going to try and defend the rock monsters. They’re really freaky and weird. A lot of people won’t see the rock monsters as anything but Hollywood trying to make the Bible more exciting. I can’t necessarily disagree with those people; maybe that really is the case.

But if you ask me, I thought they were, really, really cool! I felt they were symbolic of the assistance and protection God gave Noah in completing this task he’d given him to save the world. I liked them! So much, in fact, that I may have prayed for my own pet rock monster a few times since seeing this movie… or not. You’ll never know...

Noah Isn’t Perfect… and Neither Am I

The best thing about this movie is the way Aronofsky chose to depict Noah. We don’t read a lot about Noah’s personal struggles in the biblical text, so a movie is the perfect way to use our imagination on this matter. I don’t want to give anything away here, but you’ve probably heard that Noah tries to kill his family. Well, yeah… he kinda does, but that’s not how the story ends.

Before I saw this movie, I don’t think I’d ever considered just how much stress Noah was under during this time. I mean, God was hitting the reset button on Planet Earth and Noah was the only one God was communicating with! What pressure!

And sure, God empowered and equipped him with everything he needed, but surely Noah had his struggles, right? I mean, he wasn’t some robot, mindlessly completing his task (no offense, robots) as he and his family sang praise songs and ate Goldfish™ in the ark while the rest of humanity suffered. He was a real man in one of the toughest situations anyone has ever been in.

The story of Noah has a lot of blanks. This movie fills in those blanks in a way that might offend some, while inspiring others. I, for one, was mesmerized by the beauty of this film.

My Personal Takeaway

Because of this movie, I’ve spent a great deal of time reading my Bible and thinking about this story. I’d never taken the time to make this story personal at all because it is so far fetched. I mean, I will never have to be in Noah’s shoes, so why would I have ever needed to put myself in them?

This movie has brought me closer to Noah, as well as other Bible heroes like Moses, David… even Jesus, who were all faced with tremendous tasks and struggled logically and emotionally with God’s commands. Many of them didn’t do things right the first time.They all had pressure from those around them to do things logically instead of obediently. It’s easy to assume that they were more empowered than I am, but I don’t think they were. All of these people had their flaws just like I do.

In my opinion, Aronofsky’s “Noah” is one of the most gripping and inspirational movies I’ve ever seen. I’ve done a great deal of processing since I’ve seen it, will definitely see it again (maybe even on the big screen) and had no problem overlooking a few things I found to be weird or even unscriptural. I might be wrong about these assessments, and if I am, oh well, it’s just a movie.

Comment in the box below if you have any questions or concerns about Aronofsky’s “Noah.” While I won’t be encouraging any debates, I’ll gladly do my best to share my opinion with those who are considering watching this movie.

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Also, here's a video movie review for "Noah" that I produced for

Two Sides of the Same Coin

For a long time, I’d automatically associated “rich Christian” with “false gospel.” But recently, I’ve come to discover that there are two types of “rich Christians” in America.

One one hand, I’ve encountered those who take great pride in their material things. They claim God has blessed them and their expensive cars, homes and clothing are a sign of that “blessing.” Many times, this mindset goes hand in hand with pressure from church leadership to tithe and give regularly to avoid a curse in ones finances. It’s a very shallow way to view God because it insists that “if I do _____, then God will do _____” and vice versa.

A quick perusal of Matthew 5-7 tells us that this is anything but the case. When Jesus called someone “blessed,” it actually meant “to be envied.” But isn’t it interesting how so many of us in America automatically associate “blessing” with “material things?” There are many warnings throughout the New Testament. 2 Peter 2 and 1 Timothy 4 are just a couple resources on that topic.

On the other hand, I’ve encountered those who are wealthy, yet humble. They don’t played games with God or try to be someone they are not. They are just wealthy… for whatever reason. And with those riches, they make big things happen; they make the light of God shine in the world around them through their sincere generosity.

From what I’ve experienced, there doesn’t seem to be any manipulation from the church leadership with believers of this nature. They give freely as the Holy Spirit leads them, and God moves through that unselfishness. It reminds me a lot of the accounts of the church in Acts 2.

There’s something so graceful and effortless about a church environment like this:

-It allows the needs of the people as a whole to get met.

-Intimate worship happens between everyone involved.

-Those involved grow closer to God and are able to experience His unbiased love.

It’s the kind of church that most of us, maybe even all of us, so desperately want to be a part of.

Are you becoming frustrated with the state of the American Church like I have been from time to time? Be encouraged and know that the same quality of Christian community that existed in New Testament times is not just a thing of the past. It really does exist… and may even be right around the corner from where you live.

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About Stephen Sanders

Stephen Sanders is the Audio/Video Editor at Salem Web Network, a husband and a daddy. He's a proud native of eastern Kentucky, a musician and lover of many different styles of music, a fan of sports (both real and fantasy) and, most recently, an avid reader of fiction novels.

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