I have often struggled with the differences between personal holiness and external appearances of holiness.  I guess you could call it "self righteousness".  You see, there's the person I am, and the person I want to be.  It's an age-old struggle, but for me it began at a young age.

I grew up with a group of people in a particular denomination where the APPEARANCE of doing right was seemingly more important than personal holiness.  It was as if the "public image" of the person was more important than God's opinion of the person.  Sure, I heard Jesus died for my sins, and rose from the dead to give me eternal life.  But I had to work to earn his merit, favor, and grace.  And if I had to work for it, so did others.

It was during those formative years as a young Christian that I learned to very easily point my finger at other people and look down my nose at them for their sins.  Theirs were ugly, but mine were acceptable; They needed to repent, but I was worthy of forgiveness.  After all, I was a nice guy and "did my best."  I suppose we all "did our best", but in God's economy our best is never good enough.  If it were up to us to perform, we'd fail every time.  Thankfully, in God's economy He invites us to receive forgiveness by His grace alone. 

This crowd of finger-pointing believers was quick to put on a smile or the appearance that everything was OK in their part of the world.  We'd "amen" in church, but in houses behind unlocked doors we were different people.  We were concerned about our appearance and reputation, rather than our holiness.  Sadly, those formative years had a profound and lasting influence on my life as a believer.

When I moved away from home and became entrenched in a new career, I was introduced to another world that contained girls and alcohol.  And I indulged.  During that time, the pointy fingers were suddenly pointed at me.  And it burned.  I hated it!  I turned my back on God for about three years, and I swore to myself, "When I return to the Lord, I will NEVER be 'that guy' again.  I will NEVER point my finger at others, because I've been where they are.  I am no different from them."

And so it was.  I was a faith-product of the 9-11 attacks.  I was one of the millions who fell to my knees in repentance.  I re-committed to Christ.  I was more emboldened than ever to live for Him, and to share with others the true "non-finger-pointing" gospel of Jesus Christ.  But in so doing, not only was I NOT pointing my finger at others, I had grown to not really examine my own life.  I hoped the gospel would change others, but accepted compromise in my heart.  My "socially acceptable" sins were creeping their way back into my life.  And like a colony of ants that bore out the center of a strong, large tree, taking it to the ground, I sensed that very thing occurring in my own life.

I have read a TON of books ABOUT the Bible, prayer, personal holiness, and Christian living, etc.  But I failed to be IN the Bible itself.  I have failed to model the behaviors I believe are most important as a Christian husband, father, and role model.  And the tree is finally crashing down.  Maybe that's a good thing, because it allows me to be at my lowest, my weakest so God can be at His strongest.

Social media is not to blame.  I am.  I have commented on peoples' "status" or pictures that were what I thought to be funny at the time.  As it turns out, they were offensive and off base for what one would expect from a Christian man.  They were apparently hurtful and derogatory, but I didn't recognize it.  I guess it goes to show you just how far away from the "center line" I had gone.

So, freeing myself from FB will be a liberation to me, I believe.  It has become a time-waster and a distraction to me.  And if it entices me to lust or cause offense unawares, then I need to do something about it.  I cannot change FB, but I can change me.  I pray that God would once again grant me His favor and grace and forgiveness and mercy for all of my self-righteous behaviors.  I hope He will take this fallen tree and shape it into a piece of furniture that is most helpful and useful to others, and most glorifying to Him.  I pray that He would start me on the road to personal holiness and away from external appearances of righteousness.

Thank you all, my friends.  I love you.  Please pray for me in this journey I am on. 


  1. thank you for your honesty

    1. You are welcome. And thank you, Marian. You have always been a tremendous source of encouragement to me! I truly appreciate friends like you.

  2. It's hard being honest with ourselves, letting God show us our sins, but you are in a good place to grow. I've been there. It's painful at times but it is well worth it.
    For me, in the beginning things often seem like a sacrifice (like giving up FB) but in the end I wonder why it seemed so hard.

    I don't use FB, but I've had many friends say it has gotten in their way of serving God and their family. I've also had friends fast from FB and in the end realize they needed to give it up for good.

    Great post, you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
    I do a Monday Series on "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, you might like it. We discuss the cost of following Christ and how difficult it is.

    1. TC, thank you so much for the support and encouragement! I'm already enjoying the freedom and liberation, believe it or not!

      I will check in on your series. I've been to the church website before, but I noticed you didn't offer podcasts at the time. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to sit in front of a computer at great lengths to listen on-line. So....hint, hint, hint.

      PS, I LOVED that book. I should read it again!

  3. I understand the course of action you have taken and support you!

    I too have been thinking about fb recently. It occurred to me that it remains an opportunity for outreach, hence my main reason for keeping it. How else could I share quotes, Scripture, and ideas with others who might otherwise not read or ever think about such things.

    1. Brother Ben, I understand completely. I'm certainly not passing judgment on others who continue to use can certainly be a useful tool. Sadly, for me it becamse a time-waster. I'm hoping that I've gained some blog followers who were FB friends of mine after posting some of my links on FB. Maybe they'll continue to read that which they wouldn't, and might ingest some of the gospel message. Keep on, brother!

  4. I think that getting out of Facebook because it's a time waster is a good reason to jettison it, but I'm not so sure about the other stuff. I've found that there is very little that people post that I find of interest, and have switched to checking it a couple of times a day with a fast scroll through the feed to see if something catches my eye. Many times nothing does. I switched to that method because like you, I just saw it as wasting too much time to meticulously go through the hundreds of posts in a given day, particularly when it turned out to be nothing of interest.

    When you say that you were commenting on statuses that you thought were funny, and they weren't, and that's one of the reasons you're giving up Facebook... Is it possible you're rationalizing giving it up by telling yourself that it's for personal holiness, when really it's more to preserve your external appearance? If you're posting things you later feel are inappropriate on a status or a wall, others see that, and it can tarnish their view of your "external appearance" in their eyes. By getting rid of Facebook, it allows you to more easily maintain an external appearance of holiness, while your internal personal views and perception of humor remain the same. I'm not saying that's absolutely the case in your situation, but am curious if you explored that as a possibility for your motivations. (Don't feel like you have to answer this if you don't want to. It's more rhetorical than anything else.)

    How much of an influence do you think your job plays in your sense of humor? Let's face it, people employed in the criminal justice field tend to have a sense of humor that is a little outside the mainstream at times. My guess is that it is some sort of coping mechanism to deal with all of the horrible stuff that needs to be dealt with in that line of work. I just hate to see you beating yourself up over a sense of humor. I understand why you are, but it still pains me to see you sweating something like laughter, which is some of the best medicine you can get.

    1. E-dizzle,

      Thanks for weighing in, bro.

      It's not that my sense of humor is something that I want to jettison...just some of what I think is funny that may be off base. I love laughing. I love comedy. I agree, laughter is the best medicine. It is a feel-good medicine, indeed. But I also need to use it carefully.

      You bring up a point that was on my mind prior to posting, because the irony is that the line between personal holiness and external appearances is quite fine.
      My thought is this: personal holiness ought to dictate how I handle myself in public (and in private, I might add). It ought to flow from within me in my interactions with people on a public scale. Sadly, it doesn't always do that, because I am still a sinner, though saved by such great grace! For that reason, I'll never perfect that endeavor.
      But on the flip side, if my behavior is off base on a public scale, wouldn't it be good for me to examine my motivations into WHY it's off base? That's where I am in this season. There are some things in my life that I want to change. I've been using FB way too much, as well as Words with Friends, and have NOT been in the bible not just a little, but hardly at all. And that impacts my outward life.

      Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement, bro. Your friendship means much to me.