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 Pexels.com

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.

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How to Handle Technology

"Technology has exceeded our humanity"

Image by Toban Black via Flickr

Here are three steps to manage technology so that it does not become a detriment to your spiritual life.

1. Refuse to feel behind. No one wants to feel as if they are out of touch or behind the times. The truth of the matter is no one is completely up to date on technology. Even the person with the most advanced smart phone may not have a Blu Ray HD/3D Television with web capability. Make technology something that makes your life easier and more enjoyable but if you find yourself chasing after fads, you will quickly be stretched thin and constantly wanting. Be satisfied with what works.

2. Always choose relationships over technology. If you have a habit of texting during family dinners or checking Facebook more than twice an hour then you might be choosing technology over relationships. The people in front of you need your attention and time, especially if you have kids. Studies have shown that parents often spend more time handling email than time with their kids.

3. Read scripture slowly. The information overload of the internet era has made us all masters at skimming and scanning online material. We are losing the art of reading for deeper understanding. How is that going to affect our reading of scripture? Will we lose the ability to concentrate for long periods of time on God’s word? How are we supposed to fully consider and take in God’s word if we have no experience with meaningful reading.

Good Words

Tweet: @louiegiglio There are no insignificant roles/jobs. Everything (but sin) can be done as worship to Jesus, making everything

oxforddictionary.com

we do matter.

 

Article: Information overload can have a negative impact on our decision-making.

Quote: “Our need for Christ does not cease with our believing.” E.B. Warfield. HT: Conversations Journal

Lyrics: Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit.
Blessed is the lamb whose blood flows.
Blessed are the sat upon, spat upon, ratted on

– Blessed, Simon and Garfunkel

Website: Stickk. An incentive and accountability method to achieving change. Great for setting goals such as memorizing a scripture a week.

‘Society’s Policy’ Can Damage Your Christian Life

The Seven Storey Mountain

Image via Wikipedia

“We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.”
Thomas Merton (The Seven Storey Mountain)

The Merton quote above paints a stark picture of a society that is addicted to falseness and superficiality.  Do you agree with his assessment or is it an overstatement? What can we eliminate from our lives to help break this addiction to artificial desire and “synthetic passions?” Maybe then we will experience the God whose existence is rich, deep, unfathomable, powerful, and unceasing.

One thing that we can do is simply eliminate the amount of information clutter in our lives. I find that the more information that is flooding my way the more jumbled and distracted my mind becomes and the more susceptible I am to the falseness that Merton describes. Here are a few things I do to limit my information intake:

1. Take a real lunch break – I am such an information junkie that I could spend my entire lunch break surfing the web and reading countless web sites but it leaves me disjointed and jumbled. I try to get out of the building, take a book of fiction, and just disengage for a while.

2. Listen to more music – instead of listening to news as I get ready for the day I listen to a CD, instead of listening to sports talk radio in the car I listen to my MP3 player. It really helps at the end of the day when I need that “cool down” period to move from work mode to family mode.

3. Keep the Sabbath – I try to get all of my “honey dos” and errands done on Saturday so that Sunday is open for worship, rest and time with family. We have to unplug from the “tyranny of the urgent” and just be for a time.

Has any of our discussion over the last three days given you some thoughts on what you will be intentionally eliminating from your life next week? Again, I will be going on a Sports Fast from Monday through Sunday. I would encourage you to pray about it and make it an activity that God is involved in from the very beginning. I would also caution you to be wary of choosing something that is too big and too difficult. If you have not had much experience with fasting you will want to start small and make it doable.

Eliminate to Illuminate

If I am not careful, my stack of books to be read can grow by the day. I have never met an interesting website that I didn’t want to subscribe to. If I enjoy a blog or writer I am never satisfied with reading just a few things by them, I have to read their entire body of work. If I find a workout or nutrition program interesting, I want to follow it to the letter even though half of what is being asked doesn’t apply to me or requires too much money or time. Call me obsessive compulsive, a nerd, or even crazy, but what it really comes down to is that I consistently and foolishly think that I can add infinitely more to my life and that somehow that is a good thing.

The truth is, the only effective way to change is by first eliminating all that is a distraction, a burden, or time waster. No one followed Jesus without sacrificing something, maybe even something that was good. Even if we have many Godly things in our lives or Church activities that fill our schedule, we may need to cut some of these things out of our lives so that we can make room for God in an intentional way.

Over the last few years, I have stopped following every sport that showed up on Sports Center and streamlined the teams and events that I will let myself get fanatical about. I have tried to keep the list of books that I am reading at one time down to two so that I can take notes and fully consider what I am reading. I have stopped checking email obsessively and have become okay with emails gathering in my inbox or going unanswered. I no longer feel the need to read a magazine from cover to cover. I have been known to take whole months and devote them to one area of interest or activity instead of being thinned out by trying to keep up with multiple interests.

I mention all of this to possibly help you realize that if you have visions of including more prayer in your life, or reading through entire chapters of the Bible, or being more consistent with your Spiritual Enrichment Workout, you are going to have to eliminate something that you currently do. Piling on things to your already busy schedule cannot be sustained and will only lead to frustration and guilt.

So I would like to propose an exercise to be done starting next Monday and lasting one week. For this activity, I will be going on a Sports Fast where I will not read about or watch sports for one week. I will instead, try to use any extra time or mental storage space for meditating on God, spending time with my family, or praying and reading scripture. Your biggest distraction may not be sports. It may be political talk shows, or Facebook, or reality TV, or People magazine, or iPhone apps. Whatever it is that is teetering on becoming an obsession with you and it is getting in the way of  what is truly important you must eliminate it for one week.

My posts for this week will talk more about fasting and will be designed to prepare us for our upcoming Week of Elimination.