Thursday, March 19, 2009

Daily Devotions

At my monthly clergy roundtable at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, we went around the table sharing what we did in our personal devotional time, what works for us. One of our group made this observation:

"Are we close to God because we have this comforting (devotional) activity or because we love God? We can become selfish in our spirituality. We should have a daily devotional time for God and not for what we get out of it. We need to stay dependent on God, not on our devotional habits."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taming the Tube

TV consumes a lot of our time. It has been called the “plug-in drug.” I wondered what the Bible might have to say about all the time we spend in front of the tube. I discovered some principles:

-Proverbs 15:14 advises, “A wise man is hungry for truth. The fool feeds on trash.”
-In Psalm 101:3 we read, “I will set no unclean thing before my eyes.”
-And in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable or praiseworthy, think on such things.”

All television is “educational”; it expresses a (sometimes subtle) worldview that may well be quite different from the values we hold. The more we watch, the more we’re influenced. A 4-year old child was told by her mother, “It’s past your bedtime.” Dancing in front of the TV the child called back, “Mom, it’s not bedtime; it’s Miller Time!” Many TV shows push the envelope of decency. What was unthinkable ten years ago is commonplace today. How will things be ten years from now? Not a pleasant consideration.

What should we do to tame the tube? Here are some suggestions...

-Have a family night without TV. Play games, do craft projects, get out the photo album, have a sing-along, tell stories—creative and constructive activities.

-Make a log of what you watch for a week; this will help you decide if TV takes up too much of your life and help you make changes.

-Regulate what you watch. Get a TV guide and circle what you intend to watch, and watch only that. Regulate how much you let TV into your life.

-Watch TV with your kids; don’t use it as a babysitter. Tell your children that they can watch an hour of TV for every hour they spend reading.

-Keep it off during family mealtimes (another good rule is to let your answering machine get the phone during meals).

-Record the programs you want to see and view them when the time is right.

-Watch actively—discuss the shows, ask questions like, “What is this program trying to make me believe?” “What is this show’s viewpoint on sexuality?” “What is the characters’ basis for morality?”

-Turn off the sound during commercials. Lessen their influence and annoyance. Hurray for the mute button!

-Write to stations and sponsors to support good programming and to “vote against” harmful shows.

Consider your home a sanctuary and your TV set a guest. Your home is a refuge, set apart from the onslaught of negative influences of society. If a guest in your home were to tell dirty jokes to your children or use God’s Name in vain, encourage them to drink beer, or describe acts of graphic violence, you’d ask this visitor to stop or leave. Why should TV be any different?

Our need to unwind and be entertained is legitimate, but we have to be careful how we meet that need, by not watching whatever happens to be on. We should make better use of our precious time.

I heard someone complaining recently about having to go to church and I thought, “What a small investment in a person’s week.” I wondered how many hours this person spent watching television every week, compared to the time spent in worship, reading the Bible, and in prayer.

Be in control of your free time, and don’t become a couch potato!

Friday, March 6, 2009

a mild rant...

When I send my sermons out by email, people gain the text of my message.

They lose:
-The verbal and non-verbal energy of the delivery;
-The satisfaction of receiving the Bread and Cup; they've missed an important meal!
-Fellowship, connecting & encouraging--they need ours, we need theirs!
-A structured, intentional focus of dynamic praise to our worthy God (corporate worship).

Which would you prefer: a “love letter” or to spend time with & in the presence of your beloved? “Where two are three are gathered in My Name, I am in their midst.”