Well, it finally happened . . . Pastor James is now blogging, and this is what he has to say.

There are times when being old has its advantages. When you hear what you didn’t want to hear, but confess that you couldn’t; or when you see what you didn’t want to see, but pretend that you didn’t. Really, anytime that you can play dumb purely because of your age, then your age becomes an advantage. However, in today’s world where the internet wields such an enormous influence on our lives, playing dumb may not be the wisest course of action.

If you are old enough, you will remember “party lines.” Even as I write this, I am struck with the multiple uses of this expression: there is the political application that implies blindly supporting the position of the party – even if it means being wrong; don’t forget the 1-900 phone craze, so people without a life can call a phone number and waste their money talking to other people who don’t have lives either. The party line that I am talking about (and that some of us old people remember) is the phone line. Those party lines worked something like this . . .

Before national phone service had advanced to the point that everyone could have their own personal phone line (even before cell phones), in many parts of the country, groups of families shared a common phone line and the only way to distinguish phone service was by a selective ring: one long and two shorts; one short and two longs, etc. When your combination rang, you knew that the call was for someone in your household. The advantage of such a system was simple: it was cheap. Everyone on the party line paid less money for the convenience of having a phone at home. Were their disadvantages? Oh, yea! Everyone who shared that line had to share access to it. When one person was on their phone, no one else could make or receive a call (obviously this was before “call waiting” or “voice mail”). Those old enough to remember those days also recall the “old ladies” who could talk for hours about nothing while tying up phone service for everyone. Quite often they were just killing time gossiping or talking about the latest episode of “As the World Turns” or “The Edge of Night,” as though those people and events were real.

Even though land-line party lines are a thing of the past, there remains a remnant of it. It is now called Facebook! The dates, names, places and times have changed, but other things have remained the same. It has become today’s party-line. Facebook is basically a virtual meeting-place for people (with nothing better to do) to spend all of their time writing (talking) about other people, places and events. And while not literally holding a phone system hostage to meaningless prattle, these individuals nonetheless invite others into their time-wasting, character assassinating, production robbing experience. When the Apostle Paul wrote,

“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:11-14)

he could not have possibly imagined the invention of party lines or Facebook. Yet, at the same time, he did understand the redemptive use of time for any generation of believers. We would do well to appropriate this principle in the use of our time now.

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