Tag Archives: TV

In Search of Contentment, Pt. 3

Materialism is one of the new-era gods of the Western culture. The website becomingminimalist.com reports from various sources the following staggering statistics:

  • “There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
  • The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
  • And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
  • While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (S. Department of Energy).
  • The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).
  • British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph).
  • 1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).
  • The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes).
  • The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually (Forbes).
  • While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).
  • Nearly half of American households don’t save any money (Business Insider).
  • But our homes have more television sets than people. And those television sets are turned on for more than a third of the day—eight hours, 14 minutes (USA Today).
  • Some reports indicate we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago (The Story of Stuff).

Apparently if you are not content, you are in company with most other Americans.  Could it be said that greed, commercialism, and materialism are some of the biggest sins in America?  Perhaps.  Wanting more is advertised on a daily basis.  Coveting is preached in the public square.  Just glance at any commercial or ad.

The broad way of discontentment seems kind of crowded.  The Lord has the “straight and narrow way” for the Christian to walk in life.  It is not crowded.  Very few people have walked it.  Paul walked it.  Peter, James, John, and Timothy did, too.  The way of contentment is not traveled by many, but every Christian should set the course of his life on this route (Matthew 7:13-14).

If we could find that Jesus is sufficient, it would surely help us to have a spirit of contentment.  Christ alone is sufficient for salvation.  Jesus said in John 6:51: I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Satisfaction is also found in Christ alone.  Psalm 91:16 declares, With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.  Since the Christian has eternal life, I think that qualifies for a long life!  Because of the life we have in Jesus, we can be satisfied in and by Jesus.

From A to Z – what more do we really need?

We are affirmed in Christ.

We are becoming like Christ.

We are called in Christ.

We are delighted by Christ.

We are edified in Christ.

We are full in Christ.

We are growing in Christ.

We are holy in Christ.

We are immortal in Christ.

We are justified in Christ.

We are kept by Christ.

We are loved by Christ.

We are married to Christ.

We are new in Christ.

We are one in Christ.

We are perfected by Christ.

We are quickened in Christ.

We are redeemed by Christ.

We saved, safe, and secure in Christ.

We are taught by Christ.

We are useful to Christ.

We are valued by Christ.

We are whole in Christ.

We are exonerated by Christ.

We are yoked with Christ.

We are zealous in Christ.

 

Please read on to PART 4…

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Screen Suggestions for Students

Screen Suggestions for Students

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Philippians 4:5

Screen suggestions for students, well, perhaps more for the parents of students.  All of us have noticed the exponential leap of digital devices creeping into our lives.  I like the new devices.  The digital things, screens of all sizes, and new tech can be terrific.  But at some point, we can have too much of a good thing.

Paul was telling the believers at Philippi that moderation should clearly be part of their lives.  We can go overboard – even with good things.  Balance is needed in every area of the Christian life.  If we are not careful the stuff we have will control us!

Here are some ideas to help moderate the tech stuff of life:

  1. Ensure your child gets a full night of rest, have a media basket for all the cell phones and connected devices to rest at night.  The temptation to communicate, surf, and feed possible addictions become less when a device is not accessible at night.  Even if music or other things are used on a device to help a child go to sleep, it seems like a short-sighted fix.  We should avoid being dependent on anything or anyone other than Jesus and His Word.
  2. Increase your child’s GPA; get rid of the smart phone.  With an increase of smart device use, the need for learning and knowing stuff for yourself tends to decrease.  A study came out recently suggesting that students learn better from print on paper books.  Even the talented people who create these devices and software do not allow their kids to have much screen time.  They buy their kids printed books.
  3. Work on social skills.  When children are visiting your home, have a phone basket for the phones to go in.  Have you noticed that with all the social media that people are actually less social in real life settings?
  4. Teach your children the sacredness of worship by instructing them to not play on devices while at the church building.  Turn them off.  A print Bible has less possible distractions than a digital one.
  5. Some have gone back to flip phones or what I call “dumb phones.”  These phones revert back to the whole reason for a phone to begin with – calling and texting.  It is good for children to know how to use devices without letting those devices control them.
  6. We do allow our kids to have “tablet time” but it is limited with time increments and we do not only monitor, but we know all of the programs that we have installed on those devices.  Parents cannot be too careful in guiding their children to enable and equip them for making right decisions.
  7. Much of these principles can be applied to video games and screens of any size as well.

I hope these suggestions will help you find a healthy balance.  Do you have several others?  Post them here and they may be re-posted for others to see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stops and Steps

Stops and Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31

 

“The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.”  —George Mueller

With summer break it is easy for parents to disengage, to go into autopilot and to lesson expectations for their children.  Taking a break is not the same thing as being lazy.  While taking a break is good, we should still have some basic Christian and family life expectations in our homes.

Here are some ideas for students this summer:

  • Take a break from school work, but keep reading the Bible.
  • Take a break from classes, but still attend Sunday School.
  • Take a break from Physical Education, but still exercise prayer and discernment.
  • Take a break from academic teachers, but never stop learning how to live from your parents.

Here are some ideas for parents this summer:

  • Keep structure in the home. While a little more relaxed there should still be a bedtime and wake up time and normal times for meals.
  • Communicate expectations concerning chores. Each child should have several jobs in the home that help you, that add value to them, and gives them a purpose and a role to fulfill in your home.
  • Have limits on media. Vegging out in front of a TV or a small media device for hours on end is unhealthy. Cultivate real people interaction.  Give play time outside.  Try a new sport.  Take a hike or a bike ride. Have friends come over to do more than play video games.  Get a ball and enjoy the weather.
  • Get several interesting books from the bookstore or the library and except your child to read 1 or 2 books during the summer months. Ensure the mind stays sharp!

My prayer is that you will have a safe, fun, and God-honoring summer break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teach the Tongue

Teach the Tongue

Powerful.  Life Changing. Incredible.  Sometimes, not saying anything is priceless!  How many times do our words, though seemingly innocent, get us into trouble, or hurt other people?  How many times do our words encourage, edify and help those around us?  How many Christians are really living like Proverbs teaches.

As the school year winds down, finals are administered, and teachers get a restful summer break, what have you and I learned during the school year.  When a family has school aged children the year seems to revolve around the school session schedule.  So, for this year, what have you learned?  Have math skills increased?  Has science and history been your thing?  How much better is your handwriting?

More importantly, what character traits have grown?  What spiritual steps have been taken this year?  What decisions for serving the Lord have you made?

Recently, our family was reading though proverbs and the following 2 verses stood out to me personally.

  • The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Proverbs 16:23
  • Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.  Proverbs 17:7

What have you taught your mouth?  Taught what?  The wise man or woman, son or daughter, will teach his mouth to say only good things.  Not always will be win this battle, but again, the wise teacheth his mouth.  His lips are guided with learning.  No-one wants to talk the fool, or speak foolishly.  Verbal discipline is a requirement and expectation for the Christian life.

Notice how to not become a fool in Proverbs 17:7.  Excellent speech will not result in a person being a fool.  One paramount, pinnacle lesson each person must learn is the value of their words.  Empty speech, useless conversation, angry words, and bad themes to talk about are not worth talking about!   There are some things we should not waste our breath on!  Here are some ideas to help these verse be true in your life.

  1. Teach or control your mouth.  Take a breath before you speak.  Pray for God to help you say the right things to the right people, the right way, with the right attitude.
  2. Keep learning. Be around good speaking.  Avoid listening to cursing, gossip, or evil communication.  Be aware of the impact of social media and the “Friends” you follow have on you and your speaking.  The people we listen to and look to will inform our mind which in turn impacts what we say or do not say.
  3. Expect more.  Don’t allow negative, selfish, and evil speaking in your home.  Have excellent speech.  Make or create time to talking at the dinner table, in the car, and on the porch.  The more excellent speech that is expected, the least likely you and your children will be in becoming a fool.  Don’t allow useless talk in your home.
  4. Be upfront.  Notice how verse 7 says a person with lying lips will not become a prince.  It is not likely that a lying person is ever truly successful and like a prince in life.  It is less likely than a person who says good things to turn out to be a fool.
  5. Set down the phone.  I read recently that teenagers spend more time on their cell phone than they spend time with their parents. Texting, facebook, twitter, Instagram, video games, snap-chat and more has not increased real life talking!  Learn to set the phone or device down and carry on a real conversation with someone.  Teach yourself good conversation habits.

Make application in your own home and in your own life-stage.  How are you doing?  Have you taught your tongue yet?  It is an area that we must continue to learn and grow in.  We never arrive with our words.  Keep growing in excellent communication!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Tears.  Sorrow.  Raw Emotion. Real Life.  Death.  Death is the cause of so much heartache, hurts and pain.

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote Ecclesiastes 7:2 as God directed him, and the emphasis is interesting; There is a priority of attending funeral services and visiting with people who just lost a loved one to the throes of death.  This singular scripture goes as far to say that it is better to go to a funeral parlor than to a fun party.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is better to go to a funeral home.  Not fun – but needed for a proper perspective on life.  With life being devalued today, kids killing each other, and the news filled with reporting of one violent event or another – it makes me wonder – Has today’s modern child (an adults) been to enough funerals?

Probably not.  Many people avoid taking their children to the funeral home.  With good intentions of “not scarring the kids” or preventing them from seeing or hearing something disturbing, many well meaning parents, grandparents, and guardians find other places for their kids to be during funerals.  In fact – lots of adults avoid funerals as well.

Think of it this way; If a teenager has only known about death from a movie or video game – death cannot seem like real life.  He has no basis or foundation for understanding the depths of pain, the wrenching of the loss, or the changes in life that death causes for those who remain.  The seriousness of death is not something on his mind.

Since God says that it is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party – it should cause us to consider our priorities, teaching moments, and how to best place an emphasis on the value of life. Because death is in the future of every man God says being present with the corpse and with those grieving – will cause a person to “lay it to heart.”

We do not “lay it (death) to heart” enough because we avoid thinking about death.  Many don’t even talk about it.  But if a person thinks about death in a proper, Biblical way – it will cause him to make better choices in life!  When a person thinks about death – He will live better!

For example, here is a Fox News Headline from April 7, 2018: “Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 65 years by Judge Sibley Reynolds for “felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft,” FOX8 LIVE reported.”

“Smith smiled and laughed while being sentenced at the Elmore County courthouse. He had turned down a plea deal that would have recommended he spend 25 years in prison on the charges.”

‘I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,’ C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney, said. ‘We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.’”

“Judge Reynolds said Smith seemed to show no remorse for his crimes during the trial and did not apologize. He also overhead the teen say, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

Laughing.  I don’t have time for this?  What?  Here is an 18-year-old who apparently has never considered the gravity of life and death.  He is an example of the modern teen who believes life is ego centric and the purpose of living is to have a constant party – just have a good time.   Can I suggest that it would be better to take your kids to at least one funeral annually than to throw an ego centric, all out birthday party for them every year?  That is not intended to be a morbid thought.  Funerals in their proper context will help you and your child live better and make better choices.

No one likes tears.  Sharing in grief is not a fun thing or easy thing to do – but it will make you a better person.  When teaching your family about death, consider the age of your kids.  Find an age appropriate time to talk about and attend a funeral service.  Consider things like is it closed casket, a cremation, a memorial, or a graveside service?  Was this person a Christian?  What was our connection to this person?

Besides emotional “closure” and other similar benefits, going to the funerals and being present when a person’s life is summarized in a 30-minute speech will cause several good things in your life.

  1. Funerals cause us to ponder the brevity of life. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  2. Funerals cause us to consider the priorities of life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
  3. Funerals cause us to examine and “correct course” in future days.  Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

The Apostle Paul, not doubt attended many funerals in his lifetime for Christian’s who were persecuted and killed for their faith. As he “laid to heart” the matter of life and death he said in the last letter he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” The only way to run the course of life and finish well is the make right choices today.  The only way to make right choices is to have Biblical values instilled in our life.  Knowing the brevity and value of life is a major part of this plan.

Help yourself and help your kids; Develop a priceless value on human life – by considering the gravity of death by attending a funeral. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Window to the Heart

The Window to the Heart

Starvation. Hunger. Disease. Devastation. Death. Jeremiah’s heart was broke.  As he was looking around at the war-ravaged city of Jerusalem he saw pain, sorrow and suffering.  His eyes perceived the damage the Babylonian siege had caused.  His heart was impacted by what he saw visually with his eyes.  It is against this background we have this verse: Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city. (Lamentations 3:51)

In the middle of Jeremiah’s lamentation, he shares a universal truth that can be applied to every area of life.  IF you are blessed with eyesight, the application of this verse can change your life.

What we look at impacts our heart.  What we gaze upon influences our brain.  What we stare at informs our decisions.  The human eye can be the window of the heart. Here are several examples:

  • If I constantly “window shop” my heart will grow discontent with what I do not have – yet.
  • If I continually scroll through Amazon, my heart will desires things I may never truly need.
  • If a look at a beautiful person is nurtured and cuddled in my mind, it could become lust in my heart. Longing for someone that does not “belong” to us is sin – according to Jesus.
  • If I watch lots of TV or are constantly online, my eyes will see thousands of commercials that are designed to “pull at my heart strings” to cause me to buy their product. I tend to chuckle when I see doctor commercials: “Get sick so you can see me.” Or funeral home ads: “If you die, we can help!”
  • Media studies suggest that Americans see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads each day. (redcrowmarketing.com) “Mine eye affected mine heart” is a truth believed by advertising agencies. They have believed it for years.
  • Have you ever become hungry after seeing a commercial for a restaurant, soda, or chocolate?  It could be be after all your meals for the day, but the impact of the eye affects your heart – and your stomach.

What are you looking at?  Who are you looking to?  Where you keep your eyes focused is eventually where your heart will lead you.  That is why it is paramount to keep your eyes on Jesus.  As Hebrews 12:2 says, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Keep you focus on Jesus.

  • Do you find yourself unsatisfied in life? Look to Jesus.
  • Do you find yourself “wanting more” things this world offers? Get your eyes off the stuff and look to Jesus.
  • Do you find yourself without direction and purpose? Stop looking at the wrong things and get your eyes on Jesus.

Let what you look at impact your heart to cause a better view of Jesus.  Clean up the windowsill of your heart.  Guard your eyes.  Be disciplined with the TV.  Direct the eyes of your kids. Set Jesus in the window of your life (your eyes) and let your heart follow Him.

Find contentment in Jesus.

 

 

 

Making Time to Pray

Making Time to Pray

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.                   1 Peter 4:7

When faced with a big decision or fraught with a new diagnosis, we can start to pray like we never prayed before.  But why wait to pray?  There is much to pray for every day.

Between work and play – we need to make time to pray.

In the verse above, the word “sober” has to do with clear thinking.  Then the word “watch” is used and says we are to “watch unto prayer.”  It means to abstain from wine.  Abstaining from alcohol helps keep the mind clear.  It is a word that when applied indicates having clear attention.  While alcohol clouds the mind, we must be clear headed to pay attention to prayer. The Lord wants us to have a clear mind and level-headed thinking so we can give time to praying.

Most American Christians are too distracted to make time to pray.  For example:

Recode.net says American spend 5 hours watching TV every day. In comparison:  Media and Methods reports the average American spends only five hours per year reading books.”

The A.C. Nielson Co says that “TV viewing began to rise in the 1960’s. It is approximately the same point in time that the Standard Achievement Test scores began to decline. This time frame is significant because the first generation to cut its teeth on TV began taking SATs in the early 1960’s.

Spin.com says Americans listen to 4 hours of music each day.

In many ways, we are “entertained out of our minds!”  Our minds are “clouded- full of entertainment.”  No wonder we do not take the time to pray like we should.  The stats above do not even factor small screen time (cellphones, tablets, etc).

Be sure to “Watch” unto prayer today.  Decisive action and a definite plan to pause and pray can be taken in your life today.

Make some time to pray – today.