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Media Distraction: Rabbits and Lizards

25 Feb

My maltipoo, Roscoe, has a short attention span when it roscoe_whereistherabbitcomes to two words. No matter what my furboy is doing—even sleeping!—if I say either “rabbit” or “lizard,” he stops what he’s doing, cocks his head, and then look toward the back door or a nearby window.

Roscoe wonders, I think, “What am I missing? Is there a rabbit out there? A lizard?”

I have to admit I’m a Roscoe when it comes to the daily news and social media. No matter what I’m doing, it doesn’t take much to distract me these days.

“I wonder what’s happening on Facebook?”

“What’s up in the news? What am I missing? 

Rabbits and lizards. Sad, huh?

The worst thing about media distraction is, it takes up a lot of precious time. 

Time that can never be reclaimed (Psalm 90:12).

  • Time with the Lord in prayer.
  • Time reading or memorizing scripture.
  • Time with family.
  • Time writing about things that matter.
  • Time sharing the Gospel.
  • Time working hard with purpose.
  • Time to be creative.
  • Time to rest my heart and mind—away from all the stressful voices that disturb my peace and joy.

Now I am, by nature, a woman with a lot of curiosity. It’s not that I’m nosy; I just love learning about things. And I’m not condemning these things per se: the Internet and media are sources for learning. (Even though I need to be careful to weigh what we learn against the truth of scripture.)

My rule of thumb is: The news and social media should enhance our lives, not become our lives.

But the enemy of my soul would like to keep me more curious about and loving the things of this world rather than the things that count for eternity—my relationship with God, people with souls, and the eternal Word of God. It’s a pretty powerful scheme (2 Corinthians 2:11). Part of his strategy in my life is getting me addicted to media.

The recent Presidential election kept me glued to my television. I was constantly turning my head, checking out what the most influential talking head of the hour thought about the candidates and how their platforms lined up with world issues. In the process, I got caught up reading a lot of things that made for nastiness and division.

I foolishly thought that would all stop after November 2016. But it didn’t. The nastiness and division continues. And Christians are caught up in it too. Christian friends who share similar doctrines have parted ways over political and social “preferences.”

Have we no respect and civility? Have we forgotten love?

Jesus said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Paul said we’re to outdo ourselves in honoring one another (Romans 12:10).

And if a Facebook friend suddenly feels like an enemy? Jesus said to even love our enemies and pray for them! (Matthew 5:44)

I’ve learned I do not need to comment on every negative post; and I’m asking the Lord to help me discern when to share and when to stay silent (Proverbs 26:4-5).

It’s silly to end up in pointless quarrels with people who just want to debate (2 Timothy 2:23-24). But there are also times we need to speak up to expose weak, unbiblical thinking in the church. We need to speak truth while letting love reign, and pursue, with godly wisdom, what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding (James 1:5; Romans 14:19).

And sometimes, we just need to step away from the constant distraction of media and social media—so many voices—and seek the Lord and listen for His voice.

We need to focus on what is of “first importance”—getting out the freeing Gospel message and living in light of it (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We can’t afford distractions.

We’ve got to learn how to deal with those pesky rabbits and lizards!

How can you let media enhance your life without letting it control (or become) your life?

~ Dawn

 

 

 

 

Oh, Those Questionable Choices!

15 Jan

I love the Prego® Spaghetti sauce ads. A recent one, “Questionable Choices: Hair Style” made me laugh as the woman in the commercial says, “I wonder what other questionable choices I’ve made” and then she recalls a few outlandish hairdos.

Ah yes,  I remember some of the over-the-top hair styles from the past! (I had so many good hair role models!)Poodle_CollegeHairdo_LOLwithGod

  • Remember “big hair”?
  • Remember the “beehive”?
  • Remember the “hair flip”?
  • Remember the “Farrah”?

My personal favorite was the “Split-level.” I wore a sad, curly version of that in college. It was a short, poofed-up bob in the front with long hair cascading over my shoulders. (No, I will not post a photo of me … but I looked a lot like this French Poodle to the right!)

Yes, I made lots of questionable hair choices.

And some questionable money choices.

And questionable food choices, like:

  • Taking a perfectly good bowl of simple Greek yogurt and “confusing” it with honey, chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips!
  • And eating half a bag of potato chips. Not a mini bag … a big family-sized bag.
  • And eating half a carton of raspberry sherbet, because I wanted to clear out the freezer for a diet. (HUH?)

I discovered recently an important concept: I might have waited far too long to eat healthy. Now, with an itsy-bit of hope left, I’m beginning to eat green, lean and clean—trying to regain my health. The jury’s still out on whether I’ll be successful.

I am living out that convicting Dutch proverb, “We grow too soon old and too late smart.”

The decisions that bother me most are my past questionable spiritual choices.

Most of my ministry days I’ve promoted good, wise, godly choices. But that doesn’t mean I’ve always lived them. The sorry truth is:

We can uphold and promote truth to others while failing to live purely by truth ourselves, but sooner or later our fleshly hypocrisy will catch up with us.

I think it’s sad that:

  • I’ve promoted peace while living with anxiety;
  • I’ve promoted rest while working unreasonable hours;
  • I’ve promoted joy while struggling with depression; and
  • I’ve promoted love while protecting my own agenda.

Before you judge me too harshly, what have you promoted while … doing something else?

I understand I’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, but I know there are four things I can do to live a more authentic life.

1. I Can Keep It Real.

I can make an intentional effort to tell the truth about my own life. I can be honest, not telling people I’m living one way while living another.

God never lies, and He expects me to be truthful too. I’m not to deceive others about my spiritual state.

I can honestly say I am pure, holy, loving, wise, etc. . . . in Christ. But left to myself, I’m a mess. Authentic people do not excuse their sin; they confess it (1 John 1:8-9).

The process of personal sanctification (progressively becoming like Jesus) is the work of God in us that begins at the moment we trust in His Son.

But we don’t sit around like a lump on a pickle. All our doctrines can be right, but people need to see the changes – the practical side of Christianity.

Consider these words:

“People who equate orthodoxy with authenticity find it hard to even consider the possibility that, despite the correctness of all their doctrinal positions, they may have missed the deepest reality of the authentic Christian life. But we must never forget that true Christianity is more than teaching—it is a way of life.” ~ Ray C. Stedman

We will make progress in becoming more like Christ as we rest in and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the Word of God, and as we become Jesus’ disciple (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:17-18; Luke 9:23-24). Basically, the Lord must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30). “We are now children of God,” John said, “and what we will be has not yet appeared” (1 John 3:2).

I will be totally changed, but I have not “arrived” yet. Neither have you.

2. I Can Live a More Others-Focused Life.

My authenticity must, at its roots, include a desire to help others who are caught in the the miserable muck and mire of sin. It’s not only “there but for the grace of God go I,” but a more brokenhearted, “Let me share how the grace of God is rescuing me … and He can rescue you too!”

In my testimony of grace, I can explain how I am realizing the consequences of my questionable choices, and how choosing God’s ways is a far better way to live.

In the midst of this choosing, I must remember I can choose nothing apart from God’s Spirit working in my life. He says, “… apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:4-6). (I have nothing but praise that He is always working in my life!)

3. I Can Seek and Embrace God’s Wisdom.

“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). I must seek God and “fear” (honor, revere, worship) Him. Again, I cannot hope to live the “Christian life” apart from having a proper relationship to God.

And neither can you.

God’s wisdom will keep us from foolish pride and all the questionable choices that come from fearing man—wanting to impress people more than living for the Lord and His Kingdom (Proverbs 29:25).

When we hide God’s Word in our hearts (memorization, meditation) we will have greater resources and “light” to make wise decisions (Psalm 119:105) and not sin (119:11). It’s an intentional choice!

Bible study will help us recognize godly wisdom as we “rightly divide” the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Knowing and obeying God’s truth can bring us freedom (John 8:31-32). We are to take every thought “captive” to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)—not entertaining foolish thinking—and control our thoughts and behaviors (Colossians 3:1-6; Philippians 4:8-9) because of who we are in Christ.

4. I Can Remember the End Game.

In the words of an old songwriter, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.” It’s true! I’m headed for eternity with my Father God.

As a biblical Christian, knowing that this life is a journey to my heavenly home and that I will someday stand to account for my life (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10), I understand my future reality should dictate the choices of my present reality.

If we remember this is not all there is, we will be motivated to examine and consider our ways and turn to the Lord (Lamentations 3:402 Corinthians 13:5).

As we seek and rely on the Lord, He can enable us to make less questionable choices and more God-honoring ones!

Which of these four points would help you make better choices today?

Dawn

 

 

 

 

Cutting Out the ‘Pork’ in My Life

26 Apr

I have to admit it. I live in California, but I sat in a Southern-style porkulescent stupor one Saturday afternoon, watching several segments of the hit series “BBQ Pitmasters.” On each show, three “grillmasters” competed for the opportunity to go on to win $50,000 as Pitmasters Grand Champion in the finale.

The result of my lazy afternoon? The power of suggestion was so strong, my hubby and I ended up at Phil’s BBQ for dinner!

Beyond the competition, one of the things that intrigues me are some of the names of BBQ teams. Here are a few (of the nicer ones) I can mention, along CutThePork_LOLwith some BBQ restaurant names:

  • Piglicious
  • American Piggers
  • Heavenly Hawgs
  • Dixie Pigs
  • Pig Pickins of America
  • Barbecutie
  • Pork Palace
  • Church of Swinetology
  • Pork-O-Holics
  • Smoked Encounters of the Third Swine
  • Bubba’s Barbeque and Sushi Bar (This restaurant in Alabama apparently didn’t make it. Can’t imagine why.)
  • And my favorite …. Aporkalypse Now

I recently heard a Republican say on television, “We need to cut the pork in Washington.” He wasn’t suggesting we get ready for a barbecue.

To “cut the pork” is to chop out government money spent on projects meant to help officials political careers — to give them political advantage in some way. I totally agree with that.

But this blog isn’t supposed to be about political statements. It’s a devotional. So …

Let me just say this. I think we need to “cut the pork,” spiritually. I know I do.

I don’t know about you, but I think I spend wa-a-a-a-ay too much time thinking about things that will improve my appearance, help my latest cause, or make me more acceptable to or popular with my friends. It’s all about self.

Self-image. Self-absorption. Self-gratification. Self-promotion.

If I cut the pork, spiritually, it means I need to get back to what is important. To spend my life — my time, talents and treasures — on things that really matter.

Not on the self stuff, but on stuff that really matters.

What really matters?

In other words, cutting the pork, spiritually, means getting back to the basics.

It involves courage, not allowing the pressures of the world to conform me to its mold. It means using discernment, because others (even well-meaning Christians) may suggest priorities and “opportunities” that God has not planned for me. It includes intentionality, spending my life wisely, purposefully, biblically.

Does this resonate with you? Do you need to cut the pork too, and get back to what God originally called you to do?

 

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