Looking down at my meal as I got ready to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner I saw a full plate. As I looked at my plate I reflected on how much it was a representation of my life; full. What makes the plate of my life full is not the things of this world but the presence of God in my life and family. Our lives are full when we have a hunger for God and have a desire to spend time with God. Our lives are blessed when we understand that God’s Word brings such strength and power to our day and that we recognize our time in prayer as the most important time of our day. Our plates are full when we realize that we are fortunate to have an extended family that worships with us, prays for us and goes with us through the difficult seasons of life. Our plate is full when we understand that the most important thing that we can leave for our children is a spiritual legacy. A legacy that is built on the powerful name of Jesus and the absolute necessity of being filled with and living a Spirit led life. Do you have a full plate? Don’t look at your material possessions, but what really matters, your relationship with God. If you have a life that knows about Jesus and His work on Calvary, your plate is full.
I need new shoe strings. It’s not that I can’t afford them, it’s just that I haven’t taken time to go to the store. So, I deal with frayed shoe strings that get in tangled knots. Instead of taking a few minutes to make the purchase I find myself spending extended time trying to untangle the knots. What a picture of life. There are so many aspects of life that become complicated, not because God doesn’t have the solution but because we refuse to bring our difficulties to Him. Instead of saying, “God I’ve got a mess or God, this is broken,” we sit for hours, weeks and months trying to untangle, get the “knots” out, by our self. Jesus said, “come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden or overwhelmed and I will give you rest,” in essence just give it to me. How many times do we find ourselves wanting to talk it out with a friend or even worse, trying to fix it our self. Our lives will have areas that get frayed and there will be complications. Just like the solution to my shoe strings is to go to the store and buy a new pair of strings, the solution for our tangled and knotted messes is Jesus. Have complicated situations in your life that’s bringing stress? It’s time to simplify, take them to Jesus. He specializes in taking care of knots and tangled situations.
Moments of opportunity. If we miss them we may miss a life changing experience. They don’t come in neon lights, they come in common every day moments. They come disguised as an opportunity to make a difference in a life, to impact your child with an encouraging word, to take your marriage to a new dimension, to see a dream come to life or to take your faith and spiritual life to another level. Be careful not to miss your moment. Elisha hands king Joash a bundle of arrows and says, “strike the ground.” Joash, oblivious to the opportunity, strikes three times and misses a chance to utterly destroy Israel’s enemy. Agrippa, hearing Paul’s persuading testimony, says, “Paul, you’ve almost persuaded me to be a Christian.” As far as we know, Agrippa never became a Christian, he misses his moment. You never know when a moment or a season of opportunity is coming to an end. It calls us to live with spiritual awareness every day. Too many times we find an excuse instead of opportunity. We look at moments and think it’s too expensive or difficult but it may be too expensive or costly not to act. The woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years hears that Jesus is coming to town. Rather than making excuses, reasoning why she shouldn’t, she chooses to seize her moment of opportunity. In that one moment, her entire life is changed. May I suggest we follow her lead. Seize your moment!
This is the time of year we marvel at Falls colors. Fall, God’s personal fireworks show. Leaves. Red. Orange. Yellow. Brown. Green. It’s even amazing the number of shades of red, orange and yellow there are. No two trees, even if they are the same variety, have the same color. Watching the spectacular colors begin to appear here in central Indiana I began to think how everything that God creates is unique. Every leaf has its own personal pattern, every snowflake has its own distinctive design and as Psalm 139:14 says, “each one of us are fearfully and wonderfully made.” One of the things that concerns me when someone comes to Christ is when they lose their color, their personality. Why is it that so many become beige and bland? Jesus’ disciples were as full of color as a Fall in Indiana. Simon Peter, egotistical and arrogant. James and John were called the Sons of Thunder. Thomas was chided as a doubter. Simon was a zealot longing for the overthrow of the Roman Empire. Spirit filled and Spirit led but individuals. I would suggest that Jesus likes our personality. It’s what makes us impactive. It’s what makes us distinctive. It’s what makes us effective in His Kingdom. He didn’t want twelve cookie cutters. He wanted 12 cast of characters. Coming to Christ should change your heart, not your personality. I like to put it this way, you be you or UBU.
When it comes to praying and understanding how God answers prayers there are two principles that we must keep in focus. Faith and endurance. Faith causes us to pray. Faith believes, ask and dreams that anything is possible with God. Faith knows God delivered a nation out of bondage in one night, that God parted the Red Sea, saved the Hebrews and destroyed the Egyptian army. Faith knows God shut the mouths of lions and stopped fire from burning three Hebrew men. Faith knows that Jesus healed the sick, opened the blinded eye and deaf ear, gave the lame the ability to walk and fed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Faith knows God brought a young girl, a young man and Lazarus back from the dead. Faith knows that in our situation that God can heal, deliver, change anything or anyone and answer any prayer we pray. Endurance is the ability to wait. Endurance is the ability to not lose faith, get bitter or angry when the answer doesn’t come in our time or the way we expected. Endurance never doubts or wavers. Endurance stays the course when it hurts, when it gets hard or when we don’t understand. Endurance prays, prays and prays some more. Endurance never gives up. Endurance always believes. Endurance says there is no other option. Ask God to put faith and endurance in your spiritual life and you will go from, “can God, to God can!”
Have you ever been asked, “what assets do you have?” The question often comes up when we’re getting a loan or making a major purchase. We answer with information about our bank accounts, cars, homes and maybe a retirement account. But are those really our assets, the things of value? If we take an honest look at what is valuable I would suggest the two greatest assets are our souls and our families. Jesus told a parable of a rich man who he called a fool because he had stored up worldly assets and had failed to see the value of his soul. Jesus also said, “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.” Solomon built the Temple, homes, gardens and zoos. His fame was known throughout the earth, yet at the end of his life he said in Ecclesiastes 12, “fear God and keep His commandments.” In other words, things don’t really matter, it’s all about the soul and how you are with God. Secondly, we must value are our families. Paul told the Corinthians, “follow me as I follow Christ.” Our children will follow who we are, what we value and the example we set. As the quote that was on our exit door said, “preach always, if necessary use words. Today I encourage you, guard your most valuable assets. Your soul and your family.
Back to School Service. It’s the day we take time out as a church community to pray over our students. A prayer cloth is given to each student to remind them that God is surrounding them. We hope they leave today knowing that they can be a person of great influence in their school. Though the challenges are great, the God that is with them is greater. This time that our kids are living in reminds me of Daniel. He was a young man, in a foreign land, that faced amazing adversity yet Daniel 6:3 says, “Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.” What an amazing statement about this young man. In the midst of a dark world, devoid of God, facing the temptation to blend in, Daniel elected to stand out. He was a leader among leaders. While many around him were talented, gifted and intelligent, Daniel stood out because of His excellent Spirit. Where did it come from? His time spent in devotion with God which created a strong faith in God. To every student, stand out! Stand out by having excellent character. Stand out by going the extra mile. Stand out by having the best spirit. Stand out by living out your faith. Stand out and see where God might take you.
The Dukan Diet. The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. The Keto Diet. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Nuitrisystem. So many diets, so many options all because so many of us have become what we eat. Too much sugar, too much starch, too many carbs, the list could go on and on. Our lives have been consumed by diets and fads all because of the fact that we simply need to be more disciplined and need help. Really it should be pretty easy, stay away from processed foods, sugars and eat a lot of stuff that comes from trees and the ground. What is true of the flesh is also true in the Spirit. Paul says all that is of the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Jesus said they that hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be fed. He calls Himself the “Bread of Life” and says that “all that come to Him shall never thirst again.” Basically, God says if we want to be spiritually healthy, if we want to have a right heart that it takes staying away from the world, pursuing Him, reading His Word and spending time. Getting worldly, carnal or feeling spiritually drained? Maybe it’s time to go on a diet. Get in His Word, get on your knees and get refilled with His Spirit.
Throughout the Bible we see the eagerness of God to be with His creation. It was God that came down to heaven in the cool of the evening to be with Adam and Eve. It was God that initiated the conversation with Moses about building a Tabernacle in the Wilderness and when it was finished, God that came down in power the moment it was completed. Solomon and his builders put the final touches on Solomon’s Temple and before there is a dedication or a festival, God comes down with such power that the priest could not stand and the pillars of the Temple shook. Over and over we see a simple principle. Build something for God to live in and He will come. The principle remains the same today. Build our lives, have a hunger and thirst for God, and He will come. He longs to dwell in us. We are called “the Temple of the Holy Spirit,” (1 Corin. 6:19) which means that He longs to dwell in us. Simply make room, build a place in your life for Him and He will come.
Under Construction. It’s a sign that we hate to see when we’re traveling. Whether we’re headed to work or on a trip we know it means long waits and rude drivers. See the sign on a building and you know there’s temporary lights and walls and plenty of dry wall dust. While we hate to see those “Under Construction” signs, they are a sign of life and progress. It means something is growing, there is expansion going on or improvements being made. While we hate the process, we love the results. Whether a road with smooth pavement, a new shopping environment, or spacious addition, they all bring expectation and excitement. We’re willing to except that in real world life, we’re often less accepting when it comes to the human factor, but the fact is, we are all under construction. In reality, we should all have signs, maybe t-shirts, that say, “pardon our mess, under construction.” God hints at it in Jeremiah 29:11 when He says, “I know the plans I have for you.” Plans, that means a project, that construction is coming! Paul puts it another way in Philippians 1:6, “He who has begun a good work in you shall perform it.” What is Paul saying? You’re not finished yet. You are in process. So, pardon my mess, put on a hard hat and help, stop judging me in the middle of my construction. God is in the middle of making something awesome.
There are two moments in the Bible that scare me. It’s not when Pharaoh is pursuing Moses, David is facing Goliath or the Hebrew Children are being thrown into a fiery furnace. The first moment that grabs my attention is found in 1 Kings 22 when Josiah comes to the throne and looks to restore the love for God in his nation. As the priest are going through the Temple they discover a scroll, the Word of God. What we learn is that for years, likely generations, they had been operating in ritual and tradition. They had simply learned how to go through the motion, operating without Gods Word. The second moment that overwhelms me is Jeremiah 3:16; it is the last time the physical Ark of the Covenant is mentioned. Tradition says that Jeremiah was so concerned about the state of his nation and their lack of passion for God that he took the Ark and hid it in a cave. If true, that means for over 600 years those who ran the temple operated without the presence of God. Operating in ritualistic and judgmental tradition without the presence of God. That scares me. What happened in these two moments can happen in any life or society. We cannot afford to ever learn how to do church, live for God without His Word or His presence. Traditional, ritualistic and performance-based religion is the greatest danger we face. Ask God to give you a hunger to know Him.
Reading the book of John, a phrase caught my attention in the second chapter. It was the story about the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle. What caught my attention was the phrase, “Jesus was invited also…” It made me wonder, how many events had taken place where people didn’t invite Jesus. And why hadn’t He been invited? Were people unaware of who He was? Did people feel like He was irrelevant? Maybe He wouldn’t be interested in attending. We don’t know the scenario, the names or relationship but what we do know is someone said, “lets invite Jesus.” What a novel idea. Inviting Jesus. Whether a wedding, a day at the office, into a marriage or any other of life’s events, inviting Jesus is a good idea. Little did the bridegroom know he was going to miscalculate the number of guest and face potential embarrassment. The good news, he had invited Jesus and whether its turning water into wine, healing a blinded eye or forgiving sin, Jesus can take care of the problem. Let’s take the example of this nameless bridegroom and invite Jesus into the everyday events of our life. Who knows when we might need Him and if He’s in the room, anything can happen.
Weeds. You don’t have to plant them, water them or care for them in any way. They just grow; anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I planted a garden and now I’m attempting to grow a garden. I’ve pulled weeds, tilled soil, bought garden soil, planted plants and kept them watered. This week I walked out to my garden and in just a few days the weeds had grown larger than my plants. What I’ve come to understand is that I have to be intentional about my garden. I have to regularly water it, pull the weeds and protect from insects and animals. What’s true in the natural is also true in the spiritual. It takes nothing for the cares of life, temptation and sins take over our life. They just show up. To have a spiritual life we must be as meticulous as we are with a garden. The soil of our soul must be enriched with the atmosphere of prayer and praise. We must plant the Word of God in our heart and keep it in our heart. David said, thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. We must be committed to staying filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the power that fuels our spiritual growth and brings out the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. Be intentional, as Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, “be filled with the Spirit.”
The purge. It happens in the Hudson home a couple times of year. We go through the entire home and we purge the closets, cabinets and garage. We get rid of stuff that we haven’t worn, stuff we haven’t used and things that have become obsolete or broken. Sometimes it’s hard. There is sentimental attachment. Sometimes we struggle because we remember what we paid for some things instead of what they’re worth. Regardless, each time there is a purge a lot of stuff leaves the house. After the purge there’s a since of clarity. We feel like we’ve streamlined life. There’s a sense that we’ve made it easier to access the things of value and importance.
David had a purge moment. It was the moment he realized he had things in his life that had taken him far from God. When Nathan brings an awareness to David about the junk and clutter in his life David goes to purging. We find it in Psalms 51. Here are some of the purging phrases David uses. Have mercy. Wash me. Purify me. Create in me. Restore to me. Deliver me. After the purge David’s life is different. He is broken and humble. He is a contrite man of worship. His trust is more solid and his faith stronger. Let me encourage you, do a summer purge. Get rid of junk in your heart, spirit and attitude. You will be amazed by how clean and streamlined your life will feel.
Bill Gaither’s song, “A Few Good Men,” is an amazing song that all men need to hear as we celebrate Father’s Day. The chorus says the following.
Men of compassion, who laugh, and love and cry.
Men who face eternity and aren’t afraid to die.
Men who’ll fight for freedom and honor once again.
He just needs a few good men.
Today, those words to that song have never been truer. Men were created for challenges, adventure and difficulty. In most churches today, men are the minority. It’s understandable why. Our songs and our messages have went soft. We’ve went from All Hail the Power of Jesus Name and The Old Rugged Cross to sloppy wet kisses and butterflies. Our messages are more about the love of God than the power of God. The return of manhood must start in the church. As men we need to go back and take a look at what God created a man to be. For example, Abraham, the Father of Faith. He was rugged. He fought for his wife and land. He bickered with his nephew over sheep. He stood up to the challenges of his day and built a family. He walked with God, taught his son how to worship and built a lineage that last until today. That’s a man who lived an adventurous and challenging life. Father’s Day 2018. Let it be the beginning of men who are men. Men of faith. Men who live for the challenge. He just needs a few good men.
Today graduates are closing one door and opening of another. Year after year it has been the daily grind of school. Making friends, complaining about lunch and wondering if you could make it to graduation. Today they stare at a future that is as broad as the horizon. It can be a bit overwhelming. So many options. So much uncertainty. And, if we admit it, a little bit fearful.
To navigate these upcoming challenges and the life that lies ahead there are three priorities that can make the journey easier. First, we must pray and read our Bible daily. Second, we must seek out wisdom from people whom we admire and have successfully walked the journey. Finally, we must take chances. Enjoy the journey. Dream big! Moses likely never dreamed that one day he would lead a nation to freedom. Joseph couldn’t have imagined that he would be second in command over a nation. David, from a hillside, likely never thought, my name will be a name that will be remembered throughout history. What will these graduates stories be? Only God knows. For our graduates it all begins today. One word. One sentence. One paragraph. One chapter at a time until their story is written. Pray that they write well.
Pot holes, chug holes, crater. Does it matter what we call them? They seemingly are a part of rites of spring in central Indiana. We try to avoid them. We swerve. We dodge. Invariably though, we hit one. There is no sound like the thud of tire hitting a pothole. Hit one and you’re praying that the hubcap stayed on and your tire isn’t flat. But a pothole does more. It damages the balance of the tire and knocks your car out of alignment. Hit one and in a moment a round tire is an egg making the ride anything but pleasant. Hit enough and when you let go of the wheel, your car can make a left or right turn without you even turning it. So, what do we do? We get to our local tire store or mechanic.
Much like central Indiana and potholes our spiritual lives have seasons, moments in life that can knock us out of balance or alignment. We’re traveling along and suddenly, bang, we hit a hard spot in life. Unexpectedly our life is out of order and our walk with God is going the wrong way. Again, the question, what do we do? Just like you would take your car to get repaired, we get our self to church. We get to an altar. Hit your knees. Cry out to God. Get realigned and refilled with the Spirit. Be confident. God can realign you and get your life in balance.
Garden hoses. They are made of multiple materials, come in any color you can imagine, and depending the length, can cost anywhere from $10 – $150. The thing is, no matter the color or the material, unless it is hooked up to a water source it doesn’t have much worth. Attached to a water source it fills buckets, gives water to flowers, keeps grass green and washes cars. A garden hose is not the source, simply the conduent. It is an iconic symbol of a Christian life. We live and breathe, not by our own ability, but God in us. To live an effective and successful Christian life, to have a marriage and home that is filled with calm and to be a person who impact others with the gospel we must be people who allow God to flow through them. It’s only when we are attached to Him, being a conduent that he flows through, that we have impact. Regardless of how talented, how distinguished our degree or impressive we look, we are simply an unattached garden hose if we don’t have His Spirit flowing through us. How do we do it? It happens when we ask God to get us in alignment. We must be aligned with His Spirit. His will. His plan. Get attached to the Spirit and let Him flow through your life.
It appears that spring has finally sprung. The grass is turning green. Flowers are beginning to pop and trees are starting to sprout their leaves. Winter is gone and it’s time to get out in the yard. It’s time to trim some trees, prune some branches, move some plants and plant new flowers. It’s time to freshen things up, clean some things out and get ready for the warmth of a new season. What if we did some spring cleaning in our spiritual life? What if we trimmed back some of the things that have gotten out of control in our lives? Pruned back some negativity and attitudes so new growth could bloom? What if we allowed God to move some things out of our hearts and put some new things in? Imagine what our hearts and souls might look like? David understood he needed a spring time. After a hard season in life, David’s prayer was, “create in me a clean heart, renew in me a right spirit.” What was he saying? Make my life happy, joyful and invigorating again. What a great prayer! Spend some time over the next few weeks in your devotional time thinking about what you want life to look like. Then as you are on your knees and in the Word, ask God to make you new again.
Have you ever felt like you had so little to offer? Ever felt like you got the short stick when it comes to gifts or talents? Have you ever disqualified yourself? You are not alone. When God called Moses at the burning bush, Moses gave God four reasons for why he was not qualified. When Elijah asked for a cake, the widow said we have enough for my son an myself and then we’re going to perish. When Jesus is teaching a multitude of people when the disciples come to Jesus saying you need send the people away, we’ve searched, and all we have is five loaves and two fish. In each case God said just give thanks for what you have and give it to me. It’s the biblical principle of multiplication. God asked Moses, what do you have? Moses says, all I have is a stick. God said, that will do. The widow says all we have is some meal and oil and the prophet blessed it by the power of God and oil and meal never run out. When the disciples brought the sack lunch to Jesus, He gave thanks for what was provided and then He multiplied it. The principle is simple, focus on what you do have, acknowledge and give thanks for what God has provided, give it to Jesus and let him multiply it.
The Last Supper. It was Holy but at the same time it was human. Artist render it as Holy, we view it as Holy and it was, but there was so much humanity in the moment. As the disciples entered the room they had failed to follow the custom, to make sure guest feet had been washed. Setting in the room, the conversation was not about scripture or sinners, but about who would be on the right and left of Jesus, who would be important. Jesus enters, and without condemnaiton or judgement, takes a basin of water and towel and begins washing the feet of those that in less than 24 hours would turn on Him. One would betray Him, another would curse Him and nearly all would abandon Him. Though He knew their future, He washed their feet, broke bread and had communion with them. Twelve very imperfect men; men looking for power and position and men that had faith but would fail, and yet, Jesus by His actions was saying, take this communion, because you believe in me and undestand you need me. Communion is not about your perfection, but His. It’s about understanding, acknowleging and saying, I believe in and need the work of Jesus in my life.
As the drought has taken over here in central Indiana I’ve watched how trees responded to the lack of water. Basically, there has been four responses. Some have dropped their leaves to protect the leaves that remain, others have held their leaves but reserved more water for the base causing the top leaves to begin the change color, then there are those who have held water in reserve and have been able to protect all their foliage; no leaves lost, no color change. Finally, there are trees who didn’t have any moisture reserved, they lost their color, lost their leaves, became brittle and died. What made the difference? All had ample rain through most of the year and all enjoyed a very mild August. If the trees didn’t have someone watering them it came down to two major factors, preparation and location. Some trees absorbed enough water for the dry times and some trees were planted close to a water source. If those two factors weren’t in place then leaves fell, color changed and sadly, in some cases, some died.
In many ways, our Christian life mirrors the seasons of life. There will be times of extreme heat and cold, there will be times where there is plenty of rain and times of drought. How we survive those seasons is largely dependent on two issues; our preparation and where we have planted ourselves. Recalling the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins in Matthew 25, it’s important to remember that they all were virgins, they all had lamps and they all had oil. The difference was preparation, five anticipated and prepared for the potential of a delay or problems and the others didn’t. Often the difference between those who survive spiritual droughts and those who don’t is simply being prepared. The second great issue to surviving spiritual drought is staying near the life source. In John 6, when things got hard for the followers of Jesus, many stopped following him, after they departed Jesus turned and asked His 12 Disciples, will you also go away? I love Simon Peter’s response, “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” We must understand that regardless of how bad or difficult life gets or how dry our faith becomes; Jesus is still our life source.
Feeling dry, burnt out and weak in faith? Every storm has its end; every battle comes to a close. Be prepared for the whole journey and remember it often doesn’t go the way we have it planned Stay close to Jesus, He provided mana to the children of Israel for forty years in the wilderness, bread to Elijah, oil that continued to a poor widow and food for 5000 men plus women and children with one little boys lunch. He is your life source! You will survive!
Month of the Family 2017. Preparing the keynote for the month one man’s life came to mind, David. It was not David’s talent, skills, ability or accomplishments that grabbed my attention, it was David’s hunger and desire to know God and be in His presence. That hunger, desire and passion brought him a lineage that would bring the savior. Acts 13:22 says, “…I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.” David didn’t seek fame, education, riches, kingdoms or even to reach lost souls, David sought the heart of God. David longed for a relationship with God, to know Him, His heart. He searched for Him, wrote songs and sang about Him, and prayed to Him with a desperate desire to know Him and to be in His presence. That kind of life brings blessings, favor and possibilities for generations that follow in your lineage.
My desire is to have a legacy that seeks God. If I could ask anything of God it would be that He would give me the promise that me, my family and my lineage would have the following four passions in our Spiritual DNA until eternity. First, that my lineage would pursue a relationship with Jesus with all their heart, mind and soul; that they would have hunger for a relationship with Jesus, to know Him, not religion or doctrine, but Him. That they would desire His presence, to know Him more than anything or anyone. Second, that they would have a passionate desire for prayer and the Word of God; that prayer and reading the Word would be about knowing Him. Third, I would ask that my lineage would have a knowledge, desire and passion to be filled with His Spirit with evidence of speaking in a language they do not know. That unknown language confirms in a way that no religion or man can that God has come inside of them and will, if they allow, transform them and translate them when the trumpet sounds. Finally, that my lineage would always believe as the Hebrews of the Old Testament were taught, “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]!” (Duet. 6:4 AMP). That God is the Father, He is a son, He has and is a Spirit and His name is Jesus who has all power and authority. To understand, that through the name of Jesus, anything they ask is possible by the power and authority that is in His name.
What will your lineage look like? Will it be filled with people who were educated, great in sports, that had good jobs, lived in a nice home and drove expensive cars or were simply good people? My challenge this month is that you take on the responsibility of leaving a spiritual legacy. A legacy that will lead generations to eternity in Heaven. Return to God, make His house your highest priority. This month begin a new journey, fill your life and home with prayer, spiritual songs and seek Him with all your heart, in so doing you may leave a legacy that last until eternity!
My normal mode when writing for Connect is to write something inspirational, but this month I felt led to write about an issue that nearly every person and family is dealing with, our obsession or in some cases, addiction to cell phones. The National Safety Council says that 82% of Americans believe we have an addiction to our cell phones. These numbers should be of great concern and we must be aware that digital devices are impacting our children, families, marriages and society in profound ways, some are obvious, while others will be unknown for years. Digital addiction knows no boundaries; it respects neither rich or poor, educated or uneducated, age, ethnicity nor Christians or non-Christians. Our digital devices have silently seduced us into it grips of self-absorption and because we may be in the same room, office or car with children, family or co-worker, we have been deceived in believing we are connected and building relationships.
When psychologist asked children how they felt about their parents being on their phone an overwhelming majority disliked it. When asked to describe their feelings, they used the words sad, mad, angry and lonely. Some called their parents cell phone the “stupid phone” while others said that their parents phone gave them the sense that they (kids) were “boring.” Our current teenagers are called “screenagers” and millennials are referred to as the “always on” generation because many never turn off their devices. It will be years before we will know the full effect digital devices impact have had on their lives, families and society. It doesn’t take research to see the impact of cell phones on families. The family meal used to be the place of connection. Research has shown that families that ate just one meal together on a regular basis tended to have kids that avoided drugs and alcohol, were better students and had a better chance at success in life. Obviously, those statistics are now skewed. Go to any restaurant and look around. What you will observe at table after table is that where there used to be conversation, there are now faces buried in cell phones; sitting together but totally disconnected. Likewise, it is having a profound impact on marriages. The bedroom, which was once the safe place, the place for romance and intimacy, has become just another internet café or office to work from. One recent study
shows that there has been a strong decline in intimacy in many marriages. Research has concluded that much of it is due to the fact that the privacy and intimacy of the bedroom has been invaded by digital devices; that instead of spending time together in the evening, many couples end their night with thelast communication being a text, on a social media app or doing business work in bed. Studies are also showing that in many relationships the first thing people do in the morning, before showering and before having breakfast, is go for their cell phone. Without realizing it, we are sacrificing the most important relationships in our lives; our spouses, children and family, all in the name of being connected. Below are a few questions that psychologist said to ask to see if you are obsessed or addicted to your phone.
- Are you constantly checking any of the following: text, tweets, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Do you find yourself mindlessly passing time staring with your smartphone even though there might be other alternatives or more productive things to do?
- Do you find yourself putting smartphone request; text, email, social media ahead of meeting the needs of those closest to you?
- Do you seem to lose track of time and others when on your cell phone?
- Do you sleep with your smartphone on, under your pillow or next to your bed regularly?
- Do you find yourself viewing and answering texts, tweets, and emails at all hours of the day and night, even when it means interrupting other things or not being involved with others?
- Do you feel reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?
- When you leave the house, you always have your smartphone with you and you feel ill-at-ease or uncomfortable when you don’t have it.
- When you eat meals, is your cell phone always part of the table place setting?
- Is your cell phone the last thing you look at before going to sleep and the first thing you look at when getting up?
- When your phone rings, beeps, buzzes, do you feel an immediate and/or intense urge to check for texts, tweets, or emails, updates, etc.?
- Do you find yourself mindlessly checking your phone many times a day even when you know there is likely nothing new or important to see?
If you find yourself answering “yes” to many of these questions, please pray and ask God to help you take control of your device or devices. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Take back your life, don’t be subtly mastered by your device. The most important people in your life are not those that you are connected to on social media or those who are texting or emailing. The most important people in your life is the spouse you said, “I do” too, the kids at your feet and sitting with you in the family room, those who are around your dinner table, riding in your car to practice or to the store. The most important message you can send every day is not the one from your cell phone but the message you send in your bedroom, the dinner table, family room or car. Put away the device, take back your family and take back your life!
Moses was a man born with divine purpose. When Egypt calls for the slaughter of all Hebrew boys, his life is spared, and instead of death, he finds himself growing up in the home of the Pharaoh. His passion for his people becomes his downfall when he kills an Egyptian who is beating a Hebrew and it might appear that his purpose is over as he flees to the wilderness for his life. Confused and dismayed, he is unaware that he is still in God’s divine plan. The loneliness of the wilderness will develop him as a man and is preparing him for more than he can understand in the moment. It is there in the wilderness God calls him to his life’s purpose, to bring God’s people to a land of promise. He will return to Egypt with a clear vision, will experience the miraculous and in one night six million Hebrews leave Egypt. The journey will not be easy, the Egyptians will pursue, people will get disgruntled, but Moses now knows his life’s purpose; save a generation, bring a people to the land of promise. People will rebel, get frustrated, have fear and complain about him, but regardless of what they think or say, he understands his purpose, his calling, he will not be deterred.
While not all of us are called to save a nation I believe we all have divine purpose. Your life here on this earth is not an accident, it’s not trivial, it has a destiny. Will there be frustration, hardship and difficulties? Yes. Will there be people who will ridicule and mock your choices and decision? Yes. But, if you understand your calling, your divine purpose, nothing can deter you from what God has set in your heart. I encourage you today, hang on to those things that God has put in your heart, those dreams, impressions and visions. You may not be sure where you are in the process, but know this, if God has put it in your heart, if you will stay the course, He will do something great through your life. You have divine purpose.