Convenient Confusion

what-to-do-3-1239436-1598x1065Whey my boys were younger, they were quick to say, “I’m sorry” when they messed up. Sometimes, they said it for the millionth time about the same mistake. When this happened, my response sounded something like…

“I know you’re sorry, and I forgive you. I will always forgive you. But being sorry really means little for you if you do nothing to change your behavior.”

Now that my boys are teenagers, I still expect them to repeat mistakes from time to time in some areas, but I also realize progress should exist. They love Jesus, but they’re certainly in training still in so many ways. I have to constantly keep telling myself…

“Progress over perfection.”

Unfortunately, many adults act much like teenagers at times, though there should be marked maturity well beyond that found in most teenagers. These adults live in convenient confusion and believe saying “I’m sorry” stands on its own without being followed by a changed life.

I’m certainly guilty. I’ve relied on my words to carry me a bit much too at times. Yes, I too have been conveniently confused, thinking that filling my life with learning and knowing stuff somehow means trusting Christ. The truth is, though, trusting Christ really means doing what He says. It means following His directions and not pretending to be confused over what God’s Word says.

James addresses this very topic in James 1:22-25.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.”

Let’s consider these truths from a few other perspectives:

“No man is better for knowing that God, in the beginning, created the heavens and the earth. The devil knows that and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. Nobody is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell, there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.” (A.W. Tozer)

”It is not enough to hear the Word; we must do it. Many people have the mistaken idea that hearing a good sermon or Bible study is what makes them grow and get God’s blessing. It is not the hearing but the doing that brings the blessing. Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them! If you think you are spiritual because you hear the Word, then you are only kidding yourself.” (Warren Wiersbe)

“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts I do understand.” (Mark Twain)

Consider the following questions for self-evaluation to know where convenient confusion might be plaguing you.

  • What am I hearing from God and not putting into action?
  • How might I be sinning by pretending to be confused?
  • Have I stopped listening to Him in some area because I know I’m not obeying?

As you consider these answers, actively look for ways to move from being a hearer only to also being a consistent doer. What might some of those ways be for you?

 Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Addiction, Avoidance, Distraction & Technology

texting 2Electronic Fellowship

In a hallway between the sanctuary and fellowship hall at my church sits a pew where most Sundays a half dozen teens fellowship with their cell phones, Ipods and Kindles. During service, their fellowship continues, and many adults join in the fellowshipping with their Ipads and smart phones too.

This electronic fellowship ceases – sort of – during worship but returns fully at sermon start, continuing until the “stand and pray.” Sure, some may use their devices for Bibles, but I’m pretty sure doing so involves less thumb movement.

I realize the caution needed here regarding law and rules and judging others, so let me turn this on myself. I leave my cell phone at home on Sundays and Wednesdays when I go to church because if I don’t, I’ll fellowship with it instead of fellowshipping face-to-face. No matter how much I say I’ll leave it in my bag, the temptation to check it usually wins out at some point.

And yes, I’m even tempted during the sermon (sorry, Pastor) to check messages. I’m simply better focused on connecting with the body and hearing from God if my handheld device gets alone time at home while I’m at church.

But I can’t help but wonder…

Do so many teens stay on their devices while at church because they don’t want to talk to other people? Or, are they simply that addicted to texting or gaming or whatever they’re doing? Do the adults on their devices during the sermon simply have an addiction to staying connected? Or, are they using them to distract themselves from what they know they need to hear but don’t want to hear because then they’ll have to change?

For my part…

I know it’s addiction since I sometimes just can’t seem to resist the lure. It’s avoidance too, because some days my introverted self finds my cell phone much easier to connect with than the people around me. And while I’m at it, I’ll admit that its also distraction. After all, mindlessly surfing the Internet is a great way to not deal with life and forget about mistakes.

Beyond the Church Walls

Certainly, this is not a church-specific problem since this particular challenge with technology exists abundantly outside the church walls too. And unfortunately, our obsession not only allows for easy avoidance and distraction, but it is also creating some serious social issues with far-reaching impact.

According to Psychology Today, a prolific use of technology causes…text 3

  1. Isolation – We feel socially isolated because we end up substituting or mistaking electronic relationships for physical ones.
  2. Unhealthy substitution – Reading LOL in no way lifts your spirits like hearing a person’s laughter. Likewise, electronic confrontation limits effective resolution since emotions rarely come across as accurately when written as when experienced in person. These types of substitution limit the necessary human contact relationships need to deepen and grow.
  3. Loss of etiquette – Many people say online what they would never say in person. Likewise, electronic communication allows for avoidance of difficult situations simply because ignoring and sidestepping is easier electronically than face-to-face.

These are just some of the challenges presented by over-use of mobile devices, challenges that happen when we choose electronic communication too often over face-to-face connection. And, unfortunately, this causes us to become increasingly uncomfortable experiencing and expressing true emotion but at the same time craving it to the point of desperately seeking it out even more and usually in the wrong places.

In closing, consider the following quote by Jonathan Safran Foer in “How Not to Be Alone.

“Technology celebrates connectedness, but encourages retreat… My daily use of technological communication has been shaping me into someone more likely to forget others. The flow of water carves rock, a little bit at a time. And our personhood is carved, too, by the flow of our habits.”

DISCUSSION: Weigh in on how you see addiction, avoidance and distraction with regard to the use of technology. Please offer any solutions and bring in any relevant Scripture application.

How Being a Christian is Like Going to Disney

About 5 years ago, my oldest son (now 13) asked, “Mommy, what’s Heaven like?” My answer, though not very spiritual, had the intended impact. I asked him, “Well, nobody knows for sure, but what’s the best place you’ve ever visited?” Without hesitation, he said, “Disney World.” I then said, “Heaven is way better than Disney World.” He’s never forgotten that conversation.

Obviously, I never forgot it either. During our last visit to Disney this past November, God showed His presence at “the happiest place on earth” by revealing several ways that being a Christian is like going to Disney.

Unending Sights

A week is not enough. I’m not sure how many visits would be enough to see all there is to see at Disney. A lifetime is not enough as a Christian to see all that God has for us to experience. I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and God still shows me something new daily. Thank God for eternity where we can see it all!

Variety

If you find Disney boring, let me just say that you’re missing out. Find that inner child and just enjoy! Just like Disney is anything but boring, so too is being a Christian. If you’re a Christian and you’re bored, can I gently say, “You’re missing something”? Have faith like a child, and let the Holy Spirit lead you to a place of excitement and variety like nothing earthly can offer.

Something for All Ages

Watching people of all ages experience Disney is one of my favorite parts of going there. Adults become like kids again, and kids welcome them with a “what took you so long” and “there’s so much to do” enthusiasm. It’s also one of my favorite parts of being a Christian. Young learning from old, old connecting with young, and fellowship with all ages. Cliques and favorites can lead to disunity. Being open to the mingling of all ages can open the door to tremendous variety and joy in the family of God.

Fast Pass Available

For the more-popular rides at Disney, there is what’s called a Fast Pass available. This allows you to schedule a time to come back to the ride, skip the long line, and get right on. So what do you do in the meantime? Go on rides with shorter lines. Get something to eat. Rest. Whatever. Personally, I don’t know why people don’t use the Fast Past more. Jesus is the Fast Pass to Heaven. No waiting. No lines. No scheduling. No requirements or expectations save one: Believe on Him as Savior and Lord.

Hidden Mickeys

By far, finding the Hidden Mickeys is my favorite part of going to Disney. My oldest son and I stay away from rides that aggravate our motion sickness. So while my husband and youngest son go on the more rigorous rides, my oldest and I search for Hidden Mickeys. You need a guide to find them, and finding them brings renewed enthusiasm and excitement for finding more. (Note: The Hidden Mickey in this picture was in the cement, on the ground, next to a ride in Magic Kingdom. To give you an idea of its size, you could sit a pop can on it and hide it.)

God’s Word is filled with hidden truths in the sense that you need to spend time reading the Bible to find them. Even connections to Him in the world come through knowledge of Him through His Word. Even more than with Hidden Mickeys, discovering the truths found in God’s Word brings renewed excitement and enthusiasm for being a Christian. And like the guides showing where to find the Hidden Mickeys at Disney, God’s Word guides us to His truths when we take the time to follow the directions.

Are you expecting to hear from God in any place and at any time?

This post may not seem very spiritual to some people, but I hold tightly to my belief that God is an Everyday God who can and does speak to us in every aspect and detail of our lives. Even a trip to Disney can stimulate the imagination and bring renewed excitement to living life as a Christian.

Are you looking for God everywhere you go and in everything you do?

  Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Essential Elements of Vision Therapy

Many optometrists do not recognize when someone needs vision therapy. In fact, a person with vision problems often passes an eye exam. This happened with my son, and we did not realize it until one of his teachers suggested we check into vision therapy.

Elements of Vision Therapy

Before a patient begins vision therapy, an eye therapist does an assessment. Then, a doctor specializing in vision-related problems reviews and interprets the results. He  creates a treatment plan with goals and expectations. Next, patients attend in-office therapy. Patients also have tasks to complete at home.

This process works well for our spiritual lives too. It can correct and prevent vision-related spiritual problems like double-mindedness, lack of or wrong focus, and absence of alertness that plague our spiritual lives.

After asking the question, Do you Need Vision Therapy, proceed to implementing the necessary elements.

Elements of Spiritual Vision Therapy

  1. The basics serve as a vision evaluation for our spiritual lives. They include regular fellowship, daily Bible study and prayer. These create the core of our spiritual health. Stopping regular practice of any of these habits leads to blurred spiritual vision and even blindness. (Colossians 4:2, 3; Acts 2:42)
  2. Consultation with a seasoned saint provides the insightful observations to help adjust spiritual progress. In addition, regular accountability keeps our blind spots from creating havoc. Talking out problems is often all that’s needed to find a solution. (Galatians 6:1, 2)
  3. Expert advice comes through a variety of sources. Some struggles need the experienced vision of a pastor or Christian counselor. Regularly reading Christian books also provides preventative as well as problem-specific advice.
  4. Practice involves not just taking in the Word and hearing from God, but also “going into all the world” and practicing what God plants inside of you. (Mark 16:15)
  5. Continual reassessment helps see The Danger of Routine and Habit in Our Prayer Lives. Every area of life benefits from regular assessment. Check with the Holy Spirit daily in prayer and make a point perform regular personal assessments.

One final connection between vision therapy for the eyes and spiritual vision therapy lies with the power of choice. Individuals must decide whether or not to participate in the recommended therapy. The eye doctor makes the vision therapy plan clear. God also makes the plan of action clear for preventing spiritual vision problems. Both require commitment and follow through  vision to improve.

Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader