Being All In Is The Only Way

When was the last time you were fullhearted in anything?

Halfheartedness seems to be the default mode for the modern American person. We have our laptop out while watching TV, our phones out while watching our kids games, music in while reading a book, and screens on while we eat. Do we ever just fully devote ourselves to a task or an event or a project?

The Christian life is not a life that can be done halfheartedly. Jesus’ command to take up a cross, no our cross, and follow him is not a call for halfheartedness. It is a call for fully devoted surrender and sacrifice that starts to require our entire self – from our thoughts, to our use of our body, to the choices that we make.

Yet, we try to get by with a halfhearted faith.

selective focus photo of dog

Photo by Aloïs Moubax on

We let other people pray for us, we open God’s word just on occasion, we substitute blogs and podcasts for real Christian community, and we fill up our time with endless distractions that have zero eternal significance. Dallas Willard says, “When we are halfhearted in our faith, we are halfhearted in our thinking. And the halfheartedness defeats the whole project.”

Do we ever practice loving one another or being generous or sharing the impact God has made on our life? If you are like me, generosity and love and sacrifice doesn’t come easily and it won’t come at all if I remain halfhearted in my commitment to Christ. My life of following Christ requires all of me.

This world needs halfhearted followers of Christ like I need a hole in my head. You can be distracted while watching TV or brushing your teeth but when it is time to live this Christian life, commit your everything to it. This is why I write this blog, so that readers can Grow Up to a fullhearted faith and leave their halfhearted ways behind them.

Why I Kicked My Smart Phone Out of The Bedroom

When I awake, the struggle begins.

I use an old clock radio for my alarm so that I can get my phone out of my bedroom and  tucked in a corner somewhere. I am trying to avoid beginning the day with mindless scrolling through the overnight feeds, sport scores, and news happenings.

My success or failure at this temptation usually sets a tone for the rest of my day. Will I approach information in an intentional way that is helpful to my growth, work life, keen interests, moral values or will I just fall headlong into consuming the surface of headlines, articles, and updates? Will my notifications be all that I read and take in or will I choose that which has redeeming value and feeds my soul? Will I seek a dopamine quick hit of distraction, outrage, and reaction over a long approach of growth, progress, and formation? All of this plays out in the first five minutes of my day.

man holding phone grayscale photography

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

In Life Without Lack, Dallas Willard says:

When we get up out of bed in the morning, among our first thoughts should be this: Lord, speak to me. I’m listening. I want to hear your voice. This is not because it’s a nice way to start the day but because the only thing that can keep us straight is being full of God and full of his Word. If you do not do something like this, you do not have the option of a neutral mind. Your thoughts cannot be empty. As the old saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum. If you are not entertaining God’s truth, you will be entertaining Satan’s lies.

On those days when I begin with prayer, meditation, scripture reading, and essential Christian reading and study, I have a well to draw on the rest of the day. I have lessened anxiety, a more focused heart, I can fight off whims and base distractions. The things I end up paying attention to on these good days turns out to be closer to what really matters. Not just for me but for those around me and those I am responsible for throughout my day.

Where we place our minds really is our first freedom and the path that determines how our days and weeks will go.

Are Our Digital Lives Damaging Our Spiritual Lives?

Technology Use, Southampton City College

Technology Use, Southampton City College (Photo credit: jisc_infonet)

It must be trendy to discuss the ubiquitous nature of technology and personal connectivity. A new term has even been coined for it – connection addiction. I saw this term first as a part of the headline for Newsweek’s latest cover story. Just a few months ago, The Atlantic cover story asked, ” Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”

A few years ago, I grew fascinated with the spiritual ramifications of all of this connectivity. I am convinced that the church needs to address this issue for the spiritual health of its members. I have included some of my writings on the topic below. I would encourage discussion. More to come.

  • The Ever Connected

Modern people are finding it harder and harder to unplug themselves from their electronic devices. Consider these recently documented findings:

– International studies tell us that “people would rather lose their wallet than their cell phone.” [i]

– Two thirds of 8,000 respondents in a 2009 poll go to bed with their cell phone nearby and refuse to switch them off because they are afraid “they’ll miss something.” [ii]

– an average working parent spends twice as long dealing with email as playing with his or her children [iii]

The Results of all of this Connection

Some people may be proud of their connectivity and ability to multitask but according to a 2009 Stanford study those people who are exposed to multiple streams of information have trouble paying attention, have poor short term memory, and can not switch from one task to another effectively.

Clifford Nass, a Communication professor who helped conduct the study, states that habitual digital multitaskers are “suckers for irrelevancy” because “everything distracts them.”[iv] Who would have thought that we would become addicted to distraction?

[i] Fahmy, Miral. “People would rather lose wallet than cellphone.” Reuters 4 Sept. 2009 [Singapore] . Web. 26 June 2010.

[ii] Stone, Brad. “Breakfast Can Wait. The Day’s First Stop Is Online..” The New York Times 10 Aug. 2009. Web. 26 June 2010.

[iii] Honoré, Carl. In praise of slowness: how a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed. p. 9. HarperCollins, 2004. Print.

 [iv] Gorlick, Adam. “Media Multitaskers Pay Mental Price, Stanford Study Shows.” Stanford University News 24 Aug. 2009. Web.

5 Ways To Control Your Thought Life

My last post was on the importance of thinking about God. Today, I offer up five exercises that can help you turn your distracted mind into one that


attention (Photo credit: gordonr)

regularly thinks on God.

1. Count Your Breaths – Distracting thoughts are like a buzzing mosquito that keeps flying around your head. You try to ignore it but it keeps hovering and forces you to give it your attention. We have to find ways to swat these thoughts that are insignificant and annoying. One way to begin doing this is to count our breaths. If we can make it to 10 without losing track than we are getting closer to being able to focus on one thing – preferably God.

2. Take a Walk – I can focus better when I am moving. Sit me down in one place and a thousand things cross my mind but being active brings added concentration.

3. Finish Something From Start To Finish – Experts like to call this the information age but what it should really be called is the distraction age. I have trouble writing this blog without wanting to check my email or Twitter. In many ways we are all addicted to distractions. If we want to focus our mind more on Christ, then we need to develop the skill to overcome this addiction. Make a habit of finishing a task before indulging in common distractions such as texting, TV, and social media.

4. Set Your Watch – We all fall into a task or role that occupies our minds and allows us to be carried away. Sometimes this is good but is it good for us to go hours without thinking about God? Try setting your watch so that it beeps regularly. Every time it beeps, focus your mind on Jesus.

5. End The Day With A Blessing Inventory – As you fall to sleep, review your day and think about all of the good things that God provided for you.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. ” Colossians 3:2

The Addicts Among Us

Addictions are for street people and celebrities and psychopaths, right?

I admit that I am an information addict that was really messed up by the internet. No, I didn’t stay up until 5 a.m. every night playing online games and I didn’t neglect my family, at least not abusively.

Part of what makes me decent at my job (I am an Academic Librarian) is being a generalist, or someone who knows a little bit about many topics. So what do you think the web does to a person like me? In the internet, I see endless possibilities to learn something new or to stay up to date with many things. But that is just it – endless possibilities. There is no way to make the flood of information stop unless you choose to make it stop. In the infographic below, Rasmussen College details the rise of media use among young people and research about media addiction and multitasking.

The stat that struck me was the amount of time people change windows or check email per hour. There is no good reason to be changing your screen that many times an hour unless you were looking for something to distract you. I know, I have been there. As tiny as the rush may be, we get little highs from online distractions and the internet becomes a distraction machine not a useful and enjoyable tool. We are all becoming addicted to distractions.

Jesus discusses distraction when he is at the home of his friends Mary and Martha. He explains to Martha, who is busy with preparation for the meal, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42) I am taken by the words “few things are needed – or indeed only one.” How hard is it for us, who, as the data below shows, are taking in three ti

mes as much information as we did in 1960, to discover what is needed and even the one thing that Jesus talks about through the downpour of information around us?

Perhaps 2012 is the time for us to radically change our digital and information habits. Distraction is an enemy of the Christian life and is slowly becoming an idol to many people.

See a recent post for ideas on limiting distractions and taming technology.