There are many positives to the whole world of the internet, but one of the huge downsides has been how it has made so much that is negative, and in particular pornography, so much more freely available. There was once a time when you would have to go to a shop to get hold of pornography, running the risk of being seen etc, but now if you've got access to a computer then you can get hold of pornography without anyone else knowing.
Paul writes to the church in Philippi "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things" (Philippians 4:8). Meanwhile Jesus sets the bar incredibly high when it comes to Christ followers, setting a grace standard which takes us way beyond the law when He says "I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
I know this is an issue which can affect both men and women, but I particularly want to speak to the guys in Kerith in getting us to set the bar high in what we look at on the internet or on TV. For the married men let's choose to delight in our wives, to honour them and cherish them in all that we look at. And let's have a generation of single guys who take purity seriously, and choose not to conform to the standards of those around them but are preparing themselves one day to be outstanding husbands. Sometimes this will take an active choice. I've said before that I've struggled in the past with what I watch on TV when I've been away from home staying in hotels, so I now make the decision that when I'm away in a hotel to put the remote control in a drawer and make the decision just not to watch it. I also hold myself accountable to the elders for what I watch and look at, and from time to time will ask the other elders how they are doing on this issue. You need to be in some similar accountability relationships, and if you're in a place where you're struggling right now you need to find a safe person you can share it with.
There are other ways the internet can pull us down. Simply wasting hours going from one YouTube clip to another isn't a productive use of our precious time. Similarly if you want to you can find huge amounts of negative stuff about pretty much any well known Christian figure you'd like to name. Don't rely on what some anonymous nutter has to say about Mark Driscoll, Bill Hybels, Billy Graham or anyone else out there - it's just a waste of time and will leave you discouraged.
So what is the alternative. Well make sure that you listen to and watch things on the internet which will build you up. Get the YouVersion app on your smartphone and sign up for a daily Bible reading plan, getting God's word into you every day. Listen to Podcasts, read Blogs and sign up for Tweets from some of the Christian leaders out there, and instead of reading what some nutter thinks about them make your own mind up. I recommend anything by Tim Keller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, John Piper and Craig Groeschel, but there are loads of other people out there putting out great stuff. I particularly enjoyed this Q&A session between John Piper and Rick Warren - outstanding. Even some dead people like CS Lewis have Twitter feeds dedicated to them which are full of daily inspiration. And more locally you can follow my wife, our Act For Justice group, our CAP centre, Serenje developments, Ken and Ann Bothamley, Michael and Esther Ross-Watson and many of our staff on Twitter. Why not add some comments about who you've found it helpful to follow.
Tomorrow we'll get on to some stuff on how we actually use social media in terms of what we create, but before we can do that we need to be sure that we're taking the right stuff in. Hopefully this will have helped you to do that.