Archive for the ‘Distraction’ Category

Sometimes when we wake up and begin our day we are drawn to spend a few minutes with God hoping to hear a word from Him. We are refreshed and maybe even focused on how God might use us in someone’s life that day. It may be in a few minutes or a little later in the day when something happens that causes us to forget that word from God, and for the rest of the day we are trapped in a tangled web of seemingly continuous distractions.

David woke up one day in the springtime and had made a decision he never thought would have such repercussions. In 2 Samuel 11, David decides to stay home from battle and instead sends his men to confront the enemy. Later that day he sees a woman bathing and the story goes way downhill from there. He forgot that our enemy is always plotting our downfall. He forgot that he was living behind enemy lines.

The context of Jesus’ life was one in which he was always aware of being behind enemy lines. He was alert to the strategies satan uses to destroy us. Take a look at Matthew 12:14 & 15, John 7:1 and 10: 39 & 40. We need to watch out for those things, some good and some not so good, that cause us to easily forget where we are living. A wrong perspective can lead to a tragic decision that opens the door to immeasurable consequences.

How long does it take for the enemy to get you off track from what really matters?  Why not get with someone and talk about how to live in a world controlled by an enemy who never goes to bed?

Driving a car while texting can cause us to run a red light or fail to slow to the 25 mph posted speed limit or even worse… Our enemy has any number of strategies to cause us to take our eyes off of the prize. Some are so obvious like an affair, taking the change out of the tip jar or “relaxing” with the new video game for 3 hours. But he is more subtle than we imagine. After all, he has a few years on us.

So he just distracts us, and our understanding of life and how it is to be lived becomes distorted. It doesn’t happen overnight but day be day it is reinforced. Our normal seems to have changed from what we would not be caught dead being involved in to a more consistently accepted practice. The damage the enemy does today comes wrapped in deceptive packages that appear as good, right, or normal accepted ways of looking at life.

Regardless, while we become absorbed in these distortions we miss the freedom we long for and the resulting peace that comes from living as God created us when all of this started. Remember, satan was the voice in the dark alley selling a lie to our original parents. They bought it as do we much too frequently.

1 Peter 5:8 will never be found in the “upcoming events” section of the local newspaper, it will not be tweeted nor will there be a U Tube video of how he sneaks up and destroys life. And 1 John 2:15,16 reveals  a built in design flaw of satan’s strategy that is not easily seen unless we take a daily walk with Jesus.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

Weapons of Mass Distraction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flirting with Disaster (film)

Flirting with Disaster (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes our relationship with God resembles someone who wants something on their own terms. It’s sort of fun to listen to worship music and then go to that movie you wouldn’t invite your grandmother to come to with you. The Tuesday Bible study group is great because it’s interesting discussion and they serve great snacks but you always forget where you put your Bible as you prepare to go the next week. What the spank is going on here?

We’re just flirting with God! But at least we’re showing up at the study and we have 3rd Day on our Pandora play list. God did not speak us into existence so we could check into him every now and then. Flirting is a common game played by people who really have no intention of developing a meaningful relationship with a person. It’s just fun we say. Flirting can lead to disaster between two people but what about with God? What happens when we occasionally give God some attention? This “beyond extremely shallow” relationship with God, like the game we play with people, will not give us the freedom and full life Jesus promises us.

The people showed up one afternoon to listen to Jesus, they might get a free meal, but what they got was a description of what it really meant to follow Him and all but a handful got out of there as quickly as they could. Seriously look at John 6:47-67 and 8:31&32 and think about whether you are flirting with Jesus. If we act on what Jesus says, then and only then will we know the truth about who God is, how we can make life work, and be set free from the traps of the enemy.

Flirting with God is like partial obedience, in which you are only willing to go so far. In 1 Samuel 15 there is the story of Saul and what his “flirting” resulted in. Don’t settle for anything less than an uncompromising relationship with God.

Time

Time (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER)

We have calendars on the wall, on our laptops and phones. They record where and when we are supposed to hang with Bill or Claire. Our concerts, football games, kid’s soccer games increasingly take our time. Our hobbies, personal recreation time and movies all garner a high priority. The August 7-13 Boise Weekly publicatiion had at least 75 happenings for the week. I stopped counting at 75. There is nothing wrong with any of these things unless…

A focus on developing a meaningful relationship with Jesus and helping others learn how to also walk with God and how to pass that on to others allows us to have the time to do what Jesus said life is all about. To not miss the trip God promises to be better than the “Dirty Deck Party Weekend”, we have to get our “life focus” right. It doesn’t mean we can’t dance with our buds but we’re gonna make time for God and others. The problem is we like play rather than war and believe me it is a battle to really make a difference in someone’s life.

2 Timothy 2:3 and 4 in the Word on the Street reminds us to “…use your gifts God’s given you since you connected with the Liberator, Jesus…Tough it out with us…Trained combat teams don’t get sucked into the daily soap opera of normal life. And verse 17 adds “keep on track with your training. You’re convinced, so carry on focused.” The truth is we don’t really believe there is a war that our enemy wages 24/7. And if we do, it is easy to believe it is for others to fight, not us because it might alter our lifestyle.

But if God always has our best interest in mind and loves us and Jesus always told the truth, to not enlist in this battle means we will miss the most significant trip of our life. We’ll have to live with knowing we poured our life down a rat hole if we don’t make time for what really matters.

Success

Success (Photo credit: aloshbennett)

I imagine you have said it yourself or your kids have said it one too many times. You are only 30 minutes in the trip that is going to take several hours and you or they ask “are we there yet?” Our questions and thinking always reflect what we believe is important or how we are putting the pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

A church (which is made up of a bunch of people) is successful not when you can’t find a seat, or the new building is now completed or the number of programs has exceeded the number of days in a typical month. The criteria for evaluating success should not be how many but rather what kind. Are people learning how to be real (honest) with each other, involved in consistently sharing life together, and is their life arousing curiosity from those who intersect their life?

People all over the world are looking for people who will be up front with them, genuinely care about spending time with them and who are figuring out how to eliminate the attractive and myriad distractions that choke the life out of them.

The Thessalonians were impacting people all over the place. They had become the daily headlines in the newspapers. If it were today, word of their changed lives would have gone viral on the internet. Twitter wouldn’t have had enough room to list all of the tweets about how they were focused on what really mattered. Check out 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Get some coffee or a beer with someone this week and talk about this.

change

change (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I remember a time in my life when I would drive into the gas station and an attendant would come out and I would say “fill it up.” The attendant would proceed to fill my car with gas. Most of us can’t remember ever saying that.

Our culture increasingly entices us with the “must have” or “next thing” to fill or complete our life. We find ourselves saying without words, “fill me up.” Maybe we are fearful that if we spend more time thinking about God or reading the Bible He will do something in us that will change the lifestyle we have concluded is really normal and comfortable. So, without reservation we continue to buy in to the next gadget, something that will improve the appearance or our home or the latest fashion that is sure to turn eyes our way.

However, God is more persistent than we can imagine to continually pull back the veil from our eyes so we can see who He really is, what He expects and what is best for us. But just like a kid who challenges their parents who seem to have “unreasonable” expectations of them, we pursue what our culture presents to us in such an alluring way and we are not really convinced God is telling us the truth.

Psalm 46:10 and Isaiah 66:1 and 2 are a couple of verses that most of us might wish were not included in the Bible. Who has time to “be still” when “Widespread Panic”, “Sun Valley on Ice” or the endless Casino events are a short drive away. Oh, and the golf course is almost always open. Whenever God speaks to us something is going to change and we will avoid that by chasing something else that captures our focus. A lasting truth that has helped me is to realize that God always loves me and has my best interest in mind. Jeremiah 29:11 is still in the Bible.

Don’t tack on time with God, but build time with Him into the fabric of your schedule. It will change something for you but God knows what He is talking about.

Success Is Certain

Success Is Certain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The accomplishment of anything is only relevant if the matter pursued is defined correctly. A baseball player could be considered successful by getting a hit every three times at bat. A business person who closed a deal 75% of the time might be successful. What about raising a teenager, loving a spouse or mom and dad, as an employee or making disciples…? How success is defined is critical but equally critical is what it costs to succeed.

If the definition is to win, nothing else matters. Neglect of God’s priorities easily gives way to not only playing the game but in winning the game. But what if success is bringing out the best in your opponent and has nothing to do with winning?

It is never a matter of how many show up at our Christian meetings, but rather are they increasingly following Jesus? A person’s motivation and direction in life are critical components of success. Both come with costs.

Comparisons of athletic teams, economic achievements or appearances miss the point entirely. The widow who gave a couple of pennies gained the compliment from Jesus and consider Apelles in Romans 16:10 who was a “tried and true veteran in following Jesus.” Pain, confusion, frustration, darkness and failure are all costs to learn how to do life God’s way, but if we learn and live life God’s way the cost is worth it. If we achieve anything other than living as God intended, the cost is too great.

Mark 8:36, Luke 18:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:12 should cause us to carefully examine how we use our time and resources while on the planet. Would Jesus look over to the Father as he sees you or I and say “sweet, they’re getting it?”

EXPLORE   A deeper look at 2 Corinthians 5:17 shows that when we choose to follow Jesus we are not some genetically modified person but rather we are completely new. The ways we thought about life no longer work when Jesus is our life. Colossians 3:1-3 gets to the point even more by driving a larger nail into our former bucket list lifestyle by telling us to focus on what really matters and not to get caught up in the pursuit of the beautiful cultural lifestyle that ends up in the junkyard. It is true that God has put into each our our lives diverse passions that when pursued honor him. But that is the point-they should bring honor to him.

CONSIDER   What does it really look like to say that Jesus is your life? Do you curl up on a couch with a Bible and read it 24/7? Is there room for passion of any kind other than prayer? What about the coffee shop you want to add to your “coffeelogy” list? How do you determine what to spend your money on? What are the larger temptations that tend to win as you deal with this? What is the root motivation that keeps you giving into these temptations and not experiencing what matters most to God?

LIVE   Take some time to see if Jesus or anything else is your “bucket list.” Get together with a friend or two who seriously want Jesus to be the priority of their life and discuss how this should be lived out in our culture. When Jesus is your life it affects how you use your time, finances and energy. What is on God’s heart is not “tacked on” but is rather “built into” your lifestyle.

Cover of "The Bucket List"

Cover of The Bucket List

The Lamborghini Aventador was revealed at the ...

The Lamborghini Aventador was revealed at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show: http://www.autoviva.com/lamborghini_aventador_lp_700_4/version/30376 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We may not work at our job seven days a week, but in our fast paced culture we manage to almost completely fill up the rest of the days with projects that are stealing something more valuable from us than we can imagine.

Most of us don’t know how to slow down, and to stop is really way too our of the box for us. We can’t imagine taking several hours each week to just think, take a leisurely walk or drive, or put on scuba gear to examine a world we rarely experience. Out dictionary is getting smaller because amazement and overwhelming wonder are disappearing from our experience. We simply don’t have time to be challenged by God to consider what he has done in our world.

When we speed through life in Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 style why should we be surprised that we are ready to punt life several times each week. Our worship is dramatically affected when we don’t take time to experience God through what he spent at least six days putting together.

We might as well get some scissors and cut out Psalm 8:3-9 and 46:10. We simply don’t have time to deal with this.

Why not look for something every week that causes you to stop, stare and think or causes you to drop to your knees. Don’t take these words out of your dictionary.

Noise or distractions-we don’t want them and don’t need them but they are everywhere. So let’s drive to Denver and buy some of those Bose head phones to eliminate noise or any distraction. Last Friday we drove to south Denver from Loveland which is normally an hour drive. The noise from traffic and the thousands of distractions and more than one accident on I-25 left us almost wishing we were on a tractor in the middle of a 1 million acre farm in eastern Colorado.

But you can’t usually find that farm and you have to make trips to IKEA even when it is south Denver. So, how do you keep the noise and distractions at bay in everyday life? Noise and distractions are thieves that rob us of the life God intended. We need Bose head phones or…something else.

What is it that will allow us to focus on what really matters in the midst of the noise and distractions that surround us? Psalm 46:10 is not only a challenge but also an essential lifestyle decision we must make in our world of fast pace everything.

What are you willing to change in order to live free from the ever pursuing marketing schemes of the enemy to provide everything that never satisfies? For extra credit check out Luke 10:38-42; 12:14-21 and Colossians 3:1-2.

Bose retail store located in Century City, LA, USA

Bose retail store located in Century City, LA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)