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When your mind and emotions have been hijacked by a screen, when you’re constantly distracted throughout your day, it becomes incredibly difficult to hear from God. Is it possible that God is trying to provide some clarity, but you’re too busy staring at a screen? You can miss the ways He’s directing you, guiding you, and leading you.
Aaron Brockett • Screen Time • Romans 12:1-2
Series: Screen Time
Message: Glowing Rectangles
Pastor: Aaron Brockett
Study Guide (PDF)
Alright. Well, I want to welcome everybody across all of our campuses today. If you’re joining us from North, Downtown, West, anybody watching on a screen of some kind, I want to welcome those of you in our p.m. services and our Northwest crowd. How are we doing? You guys good? Let me hear from you. Good to have you today.
Before we get rolling, we’ve got some real exciting news to share with you. Many of you know that next Sunday is the grand opening of Traders Point’s fifth campus, our Midtown campus in Broad Ripple. We are super excited about that. In fact, we are starting portable at Glendale Seventh Day Adventist church and the team is there right now doing a soft launch, just trying to get all of the kinks worked out before next weekend. So they are there right now. And we’re really excited about it.
And something that we really want to share with you, and many of you probably already heard on the news—we have purchased a facility at the corner of Broad Ripple and Keystone Avenue, it’s the former Marsh grocery store (say that 10 times fast).
We are really excited about this location. We feel like it’s going to be a real strategic location in our city. We want to use this facility for ministry seven days a week for the community and the city. So here in the coming months we’ll get to work on renovating that building and move in to it roughly a year from now, so 2021. Really excited about that.
Also, just want our West campus to know that work continues on. We are building them a building from the ground up. I’ve looked at renderings of the inside and the outside. It looks amazing. And West campus, just want you to know how proud I am of you. Can we show some love to our West campus? They set up and tear down every single week. Over 1,000 people get together in the middle school. It’s amazing what God is doing there.
Can I just say that here, at the beginning of the year, I’ve been doing some reflecting and I just want you to know that I’ve never been more excited and more humble to be a part of what God is doing here than I am right now. It just seems like I can’t go anywhere without somebody stopping me in a store or a restaurant and just sharing his or her story with me. And I always want to hear it.
Can I just tell you that there are always some common themes? There is always pain and there are always tears and there is always joy and there is always redemption—how God worked in his/her life to turn things around. And things still aren’t perfect, but he or she is growing closer to him. And it’s amazing what he’s doing here.
I just don’t want us to go on autopilot. I want us to continue to lean in, because I believe that some of the best stories are yet to be told in 2020. Do you believe that? I hope that you do. I really hope that you do.
So I’m excited about this first sermon series. I’ve been praying about this series for a number of months. We’re just simply calling it Screen Time. It’s a short, three-part series. So if you have a Bible or a screen with a Bible on it (that’s kind of ironic) get to Romans 12, verses 1 and 2. That’s going to be the same passage that we’re going to study every week of this series.
You might think that it’s a little bit unusual to come to church and to spend three weeks talking about screens, because, after all, what does the Bible really have to say about this modern piece of technology? I don’t recall reading anything about iPhones or iPads or flat screens anywhere in the pages of that ancient text. I don’t think that the disciples were face timing and text messaging each other. Jesus didn’t have an Instagram and he wasn’t on TikTok. Although, I’d follow him if he opened up a TikTok.
One of the things that I think that many of you have already come to know, and I hope that others of you will is that when you really open yourself up to the wisdom that is found in God’s word, it has an incredible ability to speak into certain areas of our lives that we never anticipated it to.
The Bible says of itself that it is sharper than a double-edged sword and that it can penetrate into our lives this life-changing wisdom that we need and that we’re all looking for. David said that God’s word is a light unto his feet, it just illuminates the next step that you’re going to take.
And I love that because he didn’t say that God’s word is like the light of the sun, illuminating everything, he said it’s a like a lantern that lights the next step you need to take, because God wants you to walk by faith. He didn’t tell us everything that we could know in the Bible. He told us what he wanted us to know. Just enough wisdom to illuminate the path, the next step of faith that you need to take.
I love what it says in 1 Chronicles, chapter 12, verse 32. It’s one of my favorite verses in the Old Testament. It’s talking about the leaders in a tribe of Israel. And it says, “There were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”
In other words, these leaders, these influencers they paid attention to the times in which they lived so that they could know the way to go. And I think that we need to employ the same kind of wisdom today. I think that it is important for all of us to at least be reminded—some of you already know this—but to be reminded that all of us are products, to a certain extent, of the times in which we live.
Meaning that if all of us lived 200 years ago, you’d still be you, but you’d be a different version of you. You’d be a different expression of you. You’d be wearing a different set of clothes, you’d probably have a different hair style, you’d talk a little bit differently, you would listen to different things—that would just influence the way that you thought and the way that you behaved, because all of us, like it or not, are products of the times in which we live.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s not necessarily a good thing. But it does mean that we need to pay attention to the times in which we live. We need to always be asking the question: How much are the times in which I live dictating the way that I live?
I think that there are one of two extremes that we can fall into. I’ve fallen into both, by the way. So I’m an expert on both.
We can fall into one side that just receives everything that the culture gives us. We just kind of devour it. We consume it. We reflect it. We become enamored by it. Here’s the word. We become conformed to it, like a mold, and we just don’t even really think. We just kind of take it all in.
The other extreme, though, and a lot of Christians can easily fall into this one, is that we become fearful of the culture, angry with the culture, annoyed by the culture, put out by the culture, so we sort of separate ourselves from it, we isolate, we don’t want to be contaminated. We judge at a distance.
And I think it is important to know that Jesus doesn’t want us to fall into either one of those extremes, but to thoughtfully engage in the times in which we live.
I love how Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, one time said—some 150 years ago. He said, “Take your Bible and take your newspaper and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
Now, that’s not some sort of dogmatic statement. What he’s saying there is take the wisdom that is found in God’s word and use it to lovingly engage, to thoughtfully engage in the times in which we live.
Now today most of us are not reading our news from a paper, but we’re reading it from a screen of some kind. I just want to note that I’m preaching this a message from a screen, alright? And these screens have become much more to us than just a source of information or entertainment.
Most of us, if we’re being honest, we’ve developed a love affair, of sorts, with our screens. They’ve become a friend, a counselor, an advisor, and a personal assistant. They are the things that we run to when we need some comfort or some help. Many of us, it’s the very first place that we go when we are looking to make sense of the world in which we live.
Do you know that 22 years ago Google wasn’t even a word? Now it’s a verb. If you want to know anything about anything, you just google it—from medical questions, to questions about your spiritual life, to where’s the nearest Chipotle, it’s just like google it.
There are 5.6 billion google searches per year, which breaks down to 63,000 google searches per second. Screens have become central in our lives. They are influencing us in ways that few of us could have imagined 20 years ago.
So, my 17-year-old son is on a trip with his school this week out west—at the Grand Canyon doing some hiking, and in Utah doing some snow skiing. They left really early Monday morning. So, Sunday night we’re in his room running through the checklist of things that he needs to pack for a trip like that.
There were a number of items on that checklist that you might imagine for a trip like that. Things like a sleeping bag and hiking boots and a jacket and clean undies—he almost forgot those. We’re just running through the list.
And then there were a whole bunch of items on that list that wouldn’t have been there 20 years ago. Things like: Do you have your smart phone? Do you have a charger for your smart phone? And if you need some cash you can load up Apple Pay. And make sure you face time and text us to tell us what you are doing and how you’re doing. And be sure to turn on your little locater thing so that that way we can track you on that creepy parent stalker app, because we want to know where you are at all times.
And I just had this flash back of 23 years ago. I wasn’t much older than my son now when I landed an internship out on the west coast. So I drove all 2,000 miles out there that summer. And I was just reminded of what I had and didn’t have in the car.
I drove 2,000 miles out to the west coast by myself with no GPS system, no iPhone, no phone of any kind, no iPad, no laptop, no credit cards. The only thing that I had was a bag, $300 in cash, and one of those big paper road atlases. Do you remember those? Those things doubled as a windshield visor; you know? Because they were big enough to block the sun from your whole windshield. I don’t know how we navigated with those things.
I did have a discman, alright. So you played your CDs on the discman and you had a tape converter, because I didn’t have a CD player in my car. So you plugged in the tape that was connected to a wire connected to the discman that you held on your leg so that way when you went over a bump it didn’t skip. And if you are under the age of 25 or so, google it. You missed out on some great times.
It’s amazing how much technology has advanced and how quickly it has advanced. And, listen. Much of it is good. In fact, one thing that I want to be really clear on is that I’m not demonizing screens or technology in this series. So much of it is really, really good. I wouldn’t want to do without it.
I mean, I’m so thankful for these three ladies in my life: Roomba, Alexa, Siri. I’ve got them speaking to me in a British accent. It’s amazing. Except for Roomba. She’s pretty quiet. But the others do, and I love all of the modern technology—so much of it.
And I really do think that the men and the women who invent and innovate this technology, I think that most of them—not all but most—have good intent. I think that they are trying to make our lives better and easier and more productive.
But it’s all advanced so fast and come up on us so quickly. I think that we need to stop—especially here at the beginning of a new year—and just simply ask the question and reflect on it a little bit, how much of it is really good for us? Do we really even know what these glowing rectangles are truly doing to our minds and our hearts.
I think that we’re beginning to see some signs of it. I don’t want to blame the epidemic of anxiety and depression on screens, but I do think that they have contributed to it, because most statistics show that anxiety and depression, the cases of them have increased with the introduction of screens. So I think that there are some things that we at least need to give some thoughtful attention to.
I stumbled across this article this past week from Business Insider with a pretty ominous title: “Silicon Valley Parents are Raising Their Kids Tech Free” and that should be a red flag. The article goes on to talk about how the very people who develop the technology that all of us consume on our screens, they don’t really want their own kids to have it.
In fact, one engineer said it this way, “You can’t put your face in a device and expect to develop a long-term attention span.” What he is saying is that these programs that they are developing on screens are designed to distract us all day long. So, that is actually limiting our ability to focus on anything meaningfully for any period of time.
Another tech said this: “Tech companies know that the sooner you get kids, adolescents, or teenagers used to your platform, the easier it is to become a lifelong” addiction. He says a habit, but it is and addiction. And I think that should get our attention.
Experts are saying that there are a whole bunch of smart people who are working non-stop in a room in Silicon Valley somewhere trying to figure out how to keep you and me distracted so that we keep our eyeballs on a screen as much as possible. Why? Because that is how they stay in business. That’s how they make their money.
But it’s influencing the way that we think and therefore what we will do. There is a church word for that. It’s called discipleship. And our screens are discipling us whether we realize it or not, whether we use that word or not. So here’s the question that I think all of us need to thoughtfully ask of ourselves, our families, and for those who we care about. It’s:
How is all of our screen time affecting us emotionally, relationally, and spiritually?
And next week we’re going to talk real practically about some ways that we can power down some of these screens, even temporarily or at least to be proactive about them. And then on the third week we’ll talk about how we can follow Jesus more effectively in the digital age. I don’t think the answer is to throw everything out, and I don’t think that it’s going away anytime soon. I just think that we need to be more thoughtful about how we engage with it, just like the leaders in the tribe of Israel—understand the times in which we live so that way we know the way to go.
So, we’re going to look at these same two verses in Romans 12 over the course of these three weeks together and I want to encourage you to commit these verses to memory. I don’t think that it’s going to take you very long to do it and maybe you could do this with your family around the dinner table, maybe your life group, maybe your roommates, maybe some close friends—just commit these verses to memory.
What I want you to know is that Paul is encouraging us to be intentional about the way that we live our every day lives, including part of those lives that we don’t necessarily see as spiritual, but everything is spiritual.
So I want to read this passage together, starting in verse 1. He says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
Now, I want us, at all of our campuses, to read the next sentence only out loud, because I think this is really the meat of the passage. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And then he goes on to say, “Then,” once you do that, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Now one of the things that I want you to see, first of all, in this passage is that Paul doesn’t say in view of God’s wrath. You know, in view of God’s anger because you know he’s always in a bad mood and he’s disappointed with you and so because of that you ought to change your habits and your behavior and your screen time. Paul doesn’t say that. Paul says: No, no, no. My motivation for what I’m about to tell you is something very, very different.
And I think that’s an important distinction and I think it’s important for me to point out before we begin a conversation like this, because many of you grew up in an environment, whether it was at home or at a church of some kind, in which there was some sort of behavior modification—for me it wasn’t screens when I was growing up, they weren’t invented yet, but there were other things we just put in the category of behavior modification.
So maybe for you it was the clothes that you wore. Or maybe it was the length of your hair, if you were a guy. Or the length of your skirt if you were a girl. Or, for me, it was the music that I listened to. Like, when I was a teenager, high school youth group, the number one thing that we talked about was music. In fact, I remember this series that we went through as a high school youth group. It was called “Hell’s Bells”. Some of you remember. Right?
It was all abut how rock music is from the Devil and if you play it backward there are these hidden messages, and you need not to listen to it because this is what they will be playing in hell. And I remember it backfired on me and my friends because we were like, “Really, that sounds awesome.”
So, what can happen, especially with a subject like this, I’m just very well aware of it… For many of you fear, and guilt, and shame were weapons that were waged against you. So a parent or a teacher or a pastor came at you with this disposition, “I’m going to get you to change your behavior and your choices and your convictions and what you believe, not because you want to, not because you see the need to, not because you see a loving and gracious God, but because I want you to feel scared and guilty. And it didn’t work.
Instead of introducing the love and the grace of Jesus, they just tried to scare the hell out of you. And it didn’t work. And using fear, guilt, and shame is never a very effective way to change our behavior and it’s never been an effective way to begin or sustain a relationship with God.
See, fear and guilt tend to result in one of two extremes. Rebellion and brokenness or self-righteousness and legalism. And by the way, give me a church full of rebellious, broken people any day over the self-righteous and legalistic. That’s who Jesus was always going after, and the reason why is because I don’t love the people in the other camp, it’s just that the people in the rebellious, broken camp have a tendency to be a whole lot more open to the gospel of grace than the other.
So, I want you to take a breath, if you walked in here and you would kind of find yourself going, “Man, I came out of a past where fear and guilt and shame over behavior modification was used against me.” And you walked in here and you sat down and you saw that we’re doing a series on screens, “Awesome.” And shame on the person whose phone rings in the middle of one of these messages, right? You thought, “Great, buckle up for a three-week guilt trip.” I just want you to take a breath, that is not the tone of this.
If you’re in the other camp, maybe you walked in here or one of our campuses, you didn’t say it out loud, but you thought it, you thought, “Three-week series on screens, how pathetic. Just another church trying to be cool, trying to give in to the ways of the world in order to attract a crowd.” You just take a breath. That’s not the motive for this.
So, what is the motive? What’s the motivation for us to spend three weeks thinking and talking about how to honor God in this area of technology and screens? That’s where I want to take you back to verse 1. Paul says:
in view of God’s mercy
That has to be where a conversation like this begins. Paul says: Listen. I’m getting ready to talk about an area of your life that you think is personal. I’m getting ready to talk about an area of your life you might be a little bit defensive about, because it’s something kind of private. So, I just want you to know that it is in view of God’s mercy that I want to talk about this, because God is so loving and gracious. I want to talk to you about this area that you might feel defensive about.
And this is what he has been doing all through the book of Romans. Romans is hard-hitting followed by incredible truth in love. So in Romans, chapter 3 Paul says that we are all in the same boat. Every single one of us are all sinners in need of the same grace. Chapter 6, he goes: The wages of that sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through his Son, Jesus. Chapter 8: There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And then in verse 35 he poses this question:
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?”
And he answers himself down in verse 38. He goes, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow,” someone needs to hear that part especially today “—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He goes: Listen. When I say in view of God’s mercy that’s what I mean. It’s in view of that. Now, in response to that offer your bodies as living sacrifices. It’s not because I’m trying to guilt you, shame you, or make you afraid, but out of response to a loving and gracious God who has given everything for you, and he wants the best for you.
See, the word living is really important, because in the Old Testament system sacrifices were dead. He says: No, no, no. No longer needing to offer a sacrifice on the alter. He goes, your life, your living an everyday ordinary life is the sacrifice now.
I like how The Message paraphrases these verses. It says, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:” because you can’t do it on your own, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life,” if Paul were writing this today, he would say: your scrolling, swiping, texting, liking, downloading life, “—and place it before God as an offering.”
Take every area of your life and put it on the altar, so to speak. We take this posture. We say, “God, this is yours too. God you have jurisdiction over this screen and anything that I look at, or consume, or take in, or am entertained by, or contribute to, God I want to lay it before you. And my motivation isn’t out of response to guilt and shame, but out of the mercy that you’ve so graciously given to me.”
And this is where we have to begin a discussion about screens, which is, by the way, where we would begin a discussion about any area of our lives that we consider personal and off limits like money or sexuality, “I’m going to give God this area of my life and rather than me being conformed to the times in which I live, I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I know the way to go.”
One of the most embarrassing eras in the history of Christendom, I think that most of you would agree, is a time during the Medieval period called the Crusades. There were a lot of Christian warriors who went out and they began to fight and to conquer lands in order to protect what they thought was theirs and to advance into other territories.
And there are a whole bunch different, mixed up reasons for all of that that I don’t necessarily have a whole bunch of time to get into. I’ll just admittedly say, it’s a black eye in the history of the church. It’s easy to look back on that and go, “Man, what in the world were they thinking?”
I was doing some reading this last week that these Christian warriors were know as the Knights Templar and they would oftentimes be baptized in the church before they would head off to battle. And the church allowed them to be baptized with their swords, but they would hold their swords up out of the water as they were being baptized. And it was a way for them to say, “God, you can have me, but this is off limits. I don’t really want you to have a say in what I do on the battlefield with this sword.”
We live in a different time, different era, but I wonder if any of us are doing something similar with our screens and our smart phones. We just say, “God, you can have me, you can have this, but God, who I am online and what I download and what I consume and what I contribute to and what I say in the little comment box, God, that’s not part of the deal.” And I think God, gently but directly by his Spirit is saying: No, it’s part of the deal.
So, last Sunday we had the most people show up at all of our campuses that we’ve ever had on a non-holiday weekend. It was crazy. We had Brian and Jennea Welch here to share their story. And tons of people were here. And it was a great day. So many people found help and hope.
But it came at a cost. Traffic was a nightmare. Can I get a good Amen? I know you’re thinking it. And many of you pulled onto the lot and there weren’t parking spaces and traffic was congested trying to get out and in. We had over 300 people both services here at Northwest in the morning just parked, not in parking stalls, they were just parked in the grass or wherever they could go. And it was just really congested. I always hate hearing that. I know that dozens of people just turned around and left, they couldn’t find their way in.
But there were some Christians who forgot who they are online. And they said things like, “Well, pulled in to my church and all of the Korn fans are there, and I can’t find a parking spot to get into my church.” They were upset about it.
Look. I get it. I hate the fact that there weren’t any parking spots available, but I just want to think, “Really, that’s the first thing and the only thing that you’re going to say. And did it ever dawn on you that maybe somebody was here who isn’t normally here and maybe they were going to find help and hope, and they were going to meet Jesus that day? That that could happen. And somebody’s eternal destiny might be altered, but that’s the first place you’re going to go? You know, you could come back. We do have service later in the day, you know?”
Now, I want to be fair. Not everybody did that. Some people used their screens in a really redemptive way. I had a number of people say, “Couldn’t get in and what a great problem. I sat in my car and I watched the service from my screen, and I worshipped from my car.” Those are people who get it.
So listen. I think we especially have to remember this in 2020, because there’s an election coming up later in the year. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it. It is going to prove to be one of the most contentious, divisive elections probably in the history of our nation. I’m not looking forward to it.
And we’ve got to remember who we are online, because it’s not a physical battlefield, it’s a digital battlefield and it’s not a sword, it’s a screen. And I don’t want Christians 1,000 years from now looking back at 2020 going, “What were they thinking using their screens that way?”
Verse 2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” See, conform is that you’re just reflecting what’s being downloaded into you. Transform is, “No, I have a say in this. I’m intentionally going to concentrate on what I read and what I look at and what I download into my mind.”
See, it’s saying that whatever you’re exposed to the most is what you’re going to think about and what you think about is informing who you become. And if that is true, and I believe that it is, that has incredible implications for how we use and interact with our screens.
There is a guy by the name of Tristan Harris who worked as a programmer for Google before he began to feel really convicted over what he was contributing to. So he quit and he founded his own organization. I love the title of it. He calls it Time Well Spent. And he’s done a pretty well know Ted talk. You can google it if you want to. It’s about 20 minutes long. It’s worth a listen. He brings out some really interesting insights. But I want to read something that he said. He said,
These things [referring to screens] are a slot machine. Every time I check my phone I’m wondering, “What did I get?” The developers want to shape the thoughts, feelings, and actions of people. They want you to use it in particular ways and for long periods of time, because that’s how they make their money. The idea should be that these things make the best use of our time, not just constantly grabbing our attention and distracting us.
And I think that’s the worst part about it. If it’s constantly distracting you and grabbing your attention and pulling you away to other places, that’s not healthy.
My alarm went off on my screen this morning at 6 a.m. and so I reached over, turned it off, and I had a notification from Netflix. They were encouraging me to watch another episode of The Office at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. And I thought to myself, “That’s not how I want to start my day, but yet they think that’s how I should start my day.” And I thought, “No, no, no. I don’t want some programmer in the Silicon Valley dictating the hours and the minutes of my day.”
See, the current generation, this current generation over the course of their lives will spend close to 14 straight years connected to their screens. One study shows that 60 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds don’t go one hour without checking their phones. And those of us over the age of 34, if we’re being honest, would say that we’re right there with them.
Seventy-four percent say that their phone is the last thing they see before they go to sleep at night and the first thing that they look at when they wake. The average person touches their smart phone 2,617 times per day. Heavy users touch their phones 5,427 times per day.
Smart phone separation anxiety is a real thing and it is said to be increasingly becoming a wide-spread problem, researchers tell us. And there’s a term for it. It’s called:
and it’s used to describe the feeling of panic or stress that some people experience when they are unable to access or use their mobile phone. And the fear has little to do with making phone calls, because we don’t use our screens for phone calls really. It has everything to do with the fact that these screens have become an extension of ourselves. They are no longer an accessory. They are an appendage, and it’s affecting us emotionally and spiritually and relationally.
The CEO of Netflix recently said this. “Our biggest competitors are Facebook, Youtube, and sleep.” And it’s kind of funny and then it’s not funny.
I took my daughter to go see a movie last night and she went to the restroom so I’m standing outside waiting for her. And I look around across the lobby of the movie theater and all of these people were huddled up in circles all over the theater but none of them were talking to each other. They were all looking at their screens. And I just thought, “What’s happening?”
It’s beginning to feel a lot like we no longer own these devices but maybe they own us. So we’ve got to ask, “Am I being conformed or transformed.” And if I’m being honest, this is me, personally, my own life, I don’t know that I like the answer to that question.
See, there are so many good things that can come from technology and our screens. We have access to more information than we’ve ever had in the history of mankind. The only issue with that is that all of that information has access to us and it’s creating tons of anxiety and depression, because it’s too much for us to process.
The producers of all of these apps openly and admittedly say that the way to keep your attention is to go lower on the brain stem, which is where outrage and emotions lie. So if they can keep you angry or depressed, then they can keep your eyeballs on the screen more. So we want and we need to renew our minds rather than to be conformed to a certain way of thinking.
Paul finishes up the passage. He says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Now, here it is right here, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is,” in other words the way that God is guiding and leading you, “—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
He loves you and he cares for you and his mercy is all over your life. So when your mind and emotions are hijacked by a screen, being conformed to the patterns of this world without even thinking about it, when you’re constantly engaging throughout your day, it becomes incredibly difficult to connect in meaningful ways with the people you love and it becomes incredibly difficult to focus, think, and hear from God. That’s why this matters. And that’s what that is saying.
So, is it possible that God, right now, is trying to get your attention and he’s trying to direct your path? He’s trying to bring some clarity to your life and your relationships and to your marriage and to your parenting, but you’re staring at a screen and your constantly checking and scrolling and swiping and you miss it—you miss all of the ways that he is directing and guiding and leading you.
Next week we’re going to talk about some ways that we can just power down, even temporarily, but intentionally so that way we can declare that these things don’t own us. We own them.
And, God, we know that you’re speaking, and we want to listen. So can we just take a minute right now to just stop and to shut off the screen, turn them over, do what you need to do—hit the do not disturb button. Maybe the most spiritual thing you could do for the rest of your day is just hit your do not disturb and say, “I just need a 24-hour period of time where I’m not distracted by a screen.”
Some of you right now, this is what is killing your marriage and you need to wake up, because instead of meaningfully connecting you’re just laying in bed both of you looking at a screen. This is what is causing distance. You’re losing your teenagers right now because they’re running to the screen to get information when they really need to be having a conversation with you.
Some of you, your anxiety and depression are through the roof because you’re just taking in way too much information to process and you just need to stop and breathe. And may the prayer on our lips today just simply be, “God, would you speak? We’re listening.”
Father, we come to you right now and we pray that over the course of these next three weeks that you would have a green light to speak into an area of our life that some of us might be a little bit defensive about because we’re addicted to it, we’re dependent upon it.
And, God, we don’t want screens to dictate how we think and live. We want to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. God, not all of it is bad, but not all of it is good. So we need your wisdom to know the times in which we live so that we know the way to go. God, I pray that you would give that to us.
So we just want to take a minute to just invite you into this place and to spend some moments with you so that we can be transformed. And we ask this right now in Jesus’ name: Amen.
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