Dear Boys, Teach Your Brain To Think Positively. It Matters For Your Health

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Dear Boys,

I want to share a story with you about a time when I was working to build a business to allow me to stay at home with you.This business took me far out of my comfort zone and stretched me in ways I didn’t really want to stretch. But you were worth it.

Large and looming fears took great liberty to whisper into my mind. An inner dialogue formed an inner critic, which sounded like this. What if I fail? What if people think I’m stupid? What if I’m wrong? I’ll never be able to do this well. I’m not cut out for this kind of work. I don’t have these skills. I can’t. What if.

These thoughts formed patterns and habits I failed to recognize initially. What was I focused on? Me. Who was I not focused on? God.

When fear speaks with confidence to us, it has an ability to shift our focus to ourselves when our focus needs to be on God. The chattering of fear silenced the words of God that would shift my focus from me to Him.

A habit doesn’t take long to form, but habits can be broken. Negative thinking patterns are habits that must be broken. We must learn to train our brain to think positively.

2 Cor 10:5  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

We take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

Our thoughts don’t have to control us, and if we let them have their way, they will create patterns that will lead to poor health mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

We hear our inner voice more often than we hear anything else all day long. It accompanies us on everything we set out to do. Depending on its intent, it can be our biggest encourager or our biggest foe.

Brian S. Borgman, in Feelings and Faith, says “Martin Lloyd-Jones’s words on preaching to yourself are truly a classic. “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?…..You must take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, you have to preach to yourself, question yourself…then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done and what God has pledged Himself to do. (Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression 20-21)(Borgman, Feelings and Faith p 142)

This is the key. You teach your mind to focus on Who God is. When your mind wants to ponder your circumstances, you take that thought before it can lead you down the dusty familiar path. You turn it back to God. You tell that thought who is boss. It will not bully you any longer.

Here’s how you do this. You fill your mind with God’s scripture and you fill your mind with thanksgiving, praise, and positive thoughts. Truly, your life will change. Your health will improve in ways you’ve not imagined.

During the time I struggled with my fears creating negative thinking patterns, someone gave me self-talk tapes. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard of. And utterly boring.

I popped the tape in as I set about cleaning the dishes and doing laundry. Internally, I laughed and scoffed at the absurdity of what I listened to. I imagined that awkward, embarrassing moment someone would drop in for a surprise visit and discover me listening to these tapes. Nevertheless, the tapes played on.

A monotone, sleepy voice repeated, “You are strong and capable. You can do great things. You are strong and capable. You can do great things. You are strong and capable. You can do great things.”

You see, I didn’t stop what I was doing and listen to this tape. It simply played in the background. Our thoughts do the same thing. Often, our thoughts simply play in the background, and we are oblivious to what they are creating in our minds and souls.

The tape ended and I continued about my day. I couldn’t seem to purge the lines from that tape or that voice. Each time a fear based or negative thought entered my mind, I heard that monotone, sleepy voice telling me I was strong and capable and could do great things.

What if I didn’t imprint a sleepy voice telling me how great I was and instead sewed in God’s Word that tells me I’m not strong and capable, but He is, and that through Him, I can do all things because of His strength.

What if God’s Word playing on repeat was the very thing that would teach my brain to stop creating negative paths that led to fear and poor health and began to create brand new pathways to life and healing?

We can learn how to speak to ourselves in a way that tells fear to go to sleep. We need to train that inner voice to speak truth and life, not fear. We need to bathe ourselves with the words the Lord speaks!

Like those self-talk tapes that told me I was strong and capable, I needed to speak God’s Word over and over again into my daily rhythms. We don’t need to listen to self-talk tapes to tell us how great we are. We have God’s Word which tells us how great He is, therefore through His power, He can do great things through us.

Breaking through these fears is not a matter of believing in ourselves and believing we can do anything we set our minds to. That is what culture says. Instead, it’s believing in a mighty God who can move mountains. It’s believing in a God Who chooses the weak and humble, the poor and broken to work through so that all who see this work will give Him the glory. The glory is His. He uses our willingness to face our fears in order to take what we have to offer and use it for His purposes.

Negative thinking is typically rooted in our fears. When we think negative thoughts about other people, it is usually our own insecurities (fears) at play. When we can’t see how our current situation can ever be better, it’s often because fear is causing us to not trust God or focus on anything that we can’t see.

Research shows that we create neural pathways in our brains by the thoughts we think. These pathways become like deep grooves, train tracks. Each time we think these thoughts, the grooves get deeper. Sometimes we don’t realize how deeply ingrained our thoughts have become. How they have shaped the person we are and how we respond to life.

Most negative thinkers don’t even realize they are negative thinkers. It’s become normal.

I want you to be aware of your thought life because it directs everything. God is an amazing Creator and has designed a brain that can be remapped and retrained. Even if you tend towards negative thinking, you can retrain your brain to think positive thoughts and create new neural pathways.

The easiest way I know to do this is through God’s Word. Reciting and preaching it to yourself. Because that is truth. Preach truth, and you won’t believe the lies your mind will try to tell you.

Focus on Who God is, and you are less likely to focus on the difficult circumstances you walk through because you know the One holding your hand.

Question the thoughts in your mind. Call them to the challenge. When you find they are negative, replace them with a positive immediately. Focus on God, not you. Life is not about us. It’s about Him. Keep your mind off you and on Him, and you will be amazed how your thinking changes, and ultimately how your health strengthens.

Lamentations 3:22-27 The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,  For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,“Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth.

Love,

Mom

Devices are Destroying the Family and Stealing Childhood

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I’ve written quite a few posts on electronics. The first one I wrote I thought would be my last. My passion for encouraging families to guard their children and protect their time has only intensified.

If you are a parent who feels like electronic devices have taken over and kidnapped your family, you are not alone. I met a women recently who made mention to how much my boys play outside. She assumed they were younger than they actually are. I get it. You almost never see pre-teens outside anymore. How sad! Her comment to me was, “I wish my boys would play outside, but all they do is sit on those stupid video games.”

Here’s what I wanted to say but feared opening my mouth since we literally were meeting for the first time, “You are the parent, and they are the children. The parent sets the boundaries, rules, and limits. Not the kids. If you don’t want them playing video games after school, set a limit for weekends only.”

There is a part two to this statement. Josh McDowell is notorious for saying, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” Herein lies the real issue. If your child spends hours on a device of any kind, his relationship with you suffers. It steals time that is yours. Quality time is critical to building relationship, so if that suffers, and you place your rules around something that’s become an addiction, that is when the fight back begins.

The majority of the parents that I talk to about the video game addiction are frustrated with it, yet they feel powerless to the drug. And drug is what it is. I don’t want to waste writing space on the science, but do spend some time researching the effects on the brain, the pleasure center in particular, when your child is playing video games or feasting on social media.

Would we ever offer our kids cocaine? A cigarette? How about heroine? Never. But at the youngest of age, we place a drug in their hand to appease them. To make them happy. To entertain them. To make our lives easier. Babies in shopping carts playing games on an iPhone. Lost to the real world before they’ve ever had a chance to discover and experience. Taught to get their demands for constant entertainment at the first peep they make. Taught they don’t need to learn self-control because we will just occupy you so you don’t need any self-control.

Kids at a ballgame watching their brother or sister play, sitting with a circle of kids playing video games. Heartbreaking. They can’t handle boredom. They don’t care to cheer on their sibling. They want to be entertained. The parents don’t want to listen to the whining, so they give in. The kids are happy and quiet. After all, they are learning games.

A generation of kids at stake to be the most selfish, self-centered generation we’ve ever seen. And we will be to blame. Because we fed this diet to them. We are creating the monster.

Kids are losing their wonder for the world. Their attentions can’t be held for long anymore. It takes more and more to excite and entice them. Like the effects of pornography. A child in the real world has a hard time looking around and finding wonder. Instead, they complain it’s dumb, it’s boring. Then they begin to tell you about their Minecraft world they created.

Video games and electronic devices are the most innocent looking destroyer set on our families. It’s not just about our kids. It’s about us too.

What grabs my attention first thing in the morning? Do I turn to my husband and give him my eyes or do I reach for the phone to see what I missed while I was sleeping? Do I go to my kids to spend the first few minutes with them or do I try to sneak in a few quick articles or see what everyone is doing?

When we go to bed at night are we connecting as a family? Or are we all in our own private worlds connecting to imaginary worlds or people we rarely see face to face?

And at the end of it all. At the very end of my life, will I be satisfied with how I trained my kids or how I spent my days?

I’ve said almost everything in the posts listed below. Each looks at a different aspect. Some speak to the parents, some to the kids. Here’s the deal- whether we like it or not, this electronic addiction is destroying families. When our kids are little, we don’t see the trap we are setting. It’s destroying creativity, free thinking, critical thinking, time, relationships, empathy. And the list goes on.

I will never look back and wish my kids had played more video games. I know that for certain. But if I allow the addiction to set in, I will regret the time the devices stole from us that we will never get back and the parts of their person that changed because of what held their hearts.

A Letter To My Boys (The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics)

A Letter To Me (and all moms) What We Need To Remember When We Open The Screens

A Letter To Husbands From Your Wife (Why You Need To Put The Screen Down)

5 Benefits Of An Electronics Fast

Exploring Limiting Electronics With Kids

Why Shutting Off Electronics Is Good For Kids

How To Rob A Childhood And Miss The Sacred Of Parenting

Dear Kids, A Little Secret About What Electronics Is Stealing From You

Mom, You Are Always On Your Phone!

Dear Kids, The Real Rules You Need For Owning Devices

When Moms Unite Over Electronic Devices

 

When Moms Unite Over Electronic Devices

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“Hey, can I talk to you about something?”

“Sure,” I answered my friend. Our boys have been friends for years. We walked to the parking lot together to leave the earshot of others.

“Here, let’s sit inside the car where it’s warm.” We jumped in the front seat of my minivan as I became keenly aware of the crumbs on the seat she now occupied, the greens powder stained smoothy cup, and the strips of paper and debris left behind from the boys. I really should clean this van more often. 

My friend began to tell me about a recent sleepover experience our boys had. I let go of the pesty thoughts of my dirty car. Her son went to the sleepover with an iPhone. None of the other boys had devices. When she talked to one of our other friends, she realized that her son having that phone had become a distraction to the boys that night.

“I realized that it wasn’t fair to the mom hosting the sleepover that she had the added responsibility to then monitor what was happening on my son’s device that could impact the other boys. And our son knows his limits, but what if my son’s device ended up being used in a way that exposed other boys to something harmful or dangerous?”

She went on to tell me how she and her husband discussed the issue at length and came up with an idea. Our boys are at this interesting age where they don’t need phones at all. However, many middle schoolers have them anyway. So then there is this issue of who has one and who doesn’t. Who feels cool and who doesn’t.

We’ve discussed with our boys that we will never make decisions to do something so that they fit in. That would be us modeling peer pressure decision making. Giving our kids something to be like everyone else rather than giving the why’s behind our decision and praying for hearts in agreement.

My friend said, “What if we parents determined our boundaries together so that there is always a common agreement on the electronic issue and no fears about what will go on at each house.”

I felt speechless momentarily. The fact that no one approached my friend to oppose her in any way. No one came to her and expressed upset over her son bringing a device. She, on her own, felt genuinely sorry about how the device impacted or could impact that time the boys have to simply be boys and wanted to be proactive about it.

I kept thinking to myself, “What a picture of humility.” Many parents wouldn’t be so willing to step forth when not approached to admit they felt they’d done anything wrong. Then to take it a step further and say, “Let’s fix this going forward, too.”

She said, “I don’t want any of our boys to feel like they don’t want to go to one house because they have limits that other houses don’t have.”

Again, speechless. This has been something I’ve prayed about for a long time. Steve and I are 100% ok with the boundaries we have in our home with devices. And we’ve never had a boy come here that complained about our rules either. In fact, they get so busy playing ping pong or foosball or riding bikes, shooting baskets, or whatever that they don’t seem to miss it at all. But there is still this little fear that my boys’ friends would prefer to go to someone else’s house where devices have no limits.

She continued, “I think we should let all the boys know that if they bring phones or devices, they are given to the hosting parent when they arrive. That way they are free to be boys. If they need to call or text their mom, they can come get their device. But other than that, the hosting parent will keep them safe.”

This eliminates the need to interrogate the parent each time we send our kids to each other’s houses. We have all come to the same agreements with regards to uses and protections.

My friend talked to several of our other friends. Not one person pushed back. Every single mom expressed gratitude and felt a sense of relief.

It took away that awkward conversation we have to have each time we send our kids away. I’ve discovered that simply telling my boys to remember our rules apply away just like at home isn’t enough. Without establishing our boundaries with other parents, we are putting our kids at risk. Many families allow their children full internet access. We do not. The times I’ve failed to have this discussion with the parents, I’ve regretted it.

My friend approaching me about this issue, establishing these boundaries and rules to protect all of our boys, left a deep impression on me. I was struck by her ability to look beyond her own kids to the other children. She took ownership without being challenged. How rare today to see this modeled. And what a relief now at least for this group of boys to know that we are all on the same page and have the same house rules. They are free to just be boys for this brief window of time. Far too soon, they will be in high school and beyond where the boundaries will shift again.

And for the boys….it seemed to relieve them of pressure we didn’t even realize they carried. Free of the device, free of the stress it brings in disguise.

 

 

 

Christian Idolatry on Instagram & Beyond

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A little alarm has begun to sound in my heart at times I’m scrolling through Instagram. Never when I am viewing a picture of someone I know, but almost without fail each time I see a picture a christian public figure or “celebrity” posts.

It’s the comments I read from followers on these feeds that scares me. Here’s a few:

I’m sooooo jealous!

So perfect and beautiful! 

I would give anything to hang out with you!

I would die if I ran into you. Love your ministry!

We worship quick and easy.

What alarms me is how as worshippers, we are setting up some of our favorite people to fall. Rather than solely looking to these people as communicators of God’s truths, we are looking to them as the objects of our worship. Idolizing. Wanting to know where they bought their jeans. And oohing and ahhing over their hair and the big names they know. We don’t even realize we are doing it.

Do we become so devoted to the person teaching the Word of God that we begin to forget they are fallible? They are human. Sinful like us.

Do we begin to take their words as gospel truth? Do we take off our hats of discernment and believe everything they speak?

Most importantly, do we spend more time worshipping them than praying for them? The enemy seeks to devour those who will teach the Word of God. When we as believers forget to cover them in prayer and take it a step further and shift our focus from worshipping God to worshipping the communicator, we are helping to lay the trap.

Andy Stanley came under quick fire for careless statements he made from the pulpit. I appreciate the boldness of people like Voddie Baucham who were quick to rebuke teaching that is in error. The thing that saddened me was how quick people were to do two things: 1) Lash out harshly and unlovingly 2)Look past the error in what he said because they are fully devoted to him as a person.

While I appreciate Andy’s apology and explanation, I still feel he left much unspoken. On a friend’s Facebook page, I commented “While his response and apology are nice, the bottom line is that it’s not the church’s role to raise kids with a deep faith….it’s the parents job. To suggest that parents should attend a church based on what their children need in a youth ministry is unbiblical. Church is where we go to worship God and fellowship with believers, not to get served and entertained. Still feel much left here unaddressed. At the same time, he’s a pastor….human, prone to mistakes.
Our role is to recognize what doesn’t align with God’s Word, forgive, and move on. I imagine being in his position is not easy at all!”

God’s Word says a few things about raising our kids in faith, and a thriving, large youth group is never mentioned. Deut 11:19, Deut 6:7.

Once when our boys were very small, we were looking for a church. We shared with a friend our list of requirements we wanted met. He listened patiently before correcting me. “You know, the church’s role is to preach to the believer, to equip the believer to go out and make disciples. It is not the role of the church to raise your children to love the Lord. The church will equip you to make disciples of your kids.”

His correction sent me to the scriptures myself.

When a christian public figure or a pastor or anyone teaching God’s Word speaks and something in our spirit feels poked, we need to go to God’s Word. It’s a dangerous place to believe everything as truth and not compare it to the Word of God.

That is only one issue. The issue that is saddening my heart is how we as believers are aiding God’s gifted servants to fall into the traps laid by satan by our hearts of worship misplaced.

I appreciate the humility of Andy Stanley in quickly apologizing and taking ownership.

Our pastors and christian communicators need our faithful prayers more than they need our worship. They need to be encouraged by us not flattered by us. Flattery is dangerous. It’s a trap satan places that will whisper to the pride and ego in each of us.

My challenge to us is to not raise these people up higher than they need to be risen. When we are lavishing our praise for these public figures each time they post a picture, we are flattering them not encouraging them. Encourage your pastor or favorite christian public figure by telling them how God used them to show you something. They need the encouragement. They don’t need the empty flattery, though if we are honest, we all like the flattery.

I’m not at all saying the Andy Stanley issue has anything to do with what I’m seeing on Instagram. The point I want to make is this. Be careful what we worship. Test everything with scripture. Pray and encourage, don’t idolize.

Satan is a deceiver and manipulator. He wants our leaders and communicators of the Word to fall. Let’s lift up those the Lord has called and equipped to proclaim His Word. Let’s be careful not to pour out words that will inflate them and set them up for a fall. The most loving thing we can do for those in the public eye for the Lord is to pray for them and encourage them.

 

 

The Storm is Coming- Are You Prepared?

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I woke up this morning with one word the Lord gave me. Renew.

Sometimes God’s voice is my alarm clock. There are mornings that I have audibly heard my name called out. I look around, and no one is there. I rise and meet with the Lord. At this point, you are like, “She’s creepy, hit x, move on.” But don’t, please. I’m not crazy. Or creepy. I promise.

It took me 5 years to fall in love with my morning quiet times. The way God speaks to me has changed over time. Or maybe it hasn’t, it’s just I actually hear Him now. I’m learning. It’s always a learning process.

I don’t normally blog on Fridays. I planned to write today’s post and save it for next week, but I feel compelled to share this today.

I woke up with the word renew. For the first 5 minutes I lay in bed letting that word marinate. The first verse that came to mind was Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I continued through the morning routine. I had my quiet time, the word renew took a seat on the back row. I checked the weather. 100% chance of rain. My boys become enraged when they see that. “No one but God can give a 100% chance on the weather He commands.”

As the time approached carpool pick up, my voice took a sharp turn at drill sergeant. This always affects Andrew, who takes his mood cues from those around him. If he thinks you are pleased with him, he will do anything you ask. If he is unsure or thinks you are mad, he becomes your enemy, fighting back at whatever you dictate to him.

“Mom, stop talking mean to me,” Andrew said through semi-clenched teeth.

“I’m trying to use a nice voice, but no one is listening to me!”

“Mom, look at the sky!” Jacob stopped packing to leave and simply stared in awe. I followed his gaze, hands releasing the grip on backpack zippers.

The rush hushed. The shrill stilled. The Creator got my attention.

Renew.

Moments before Jacob drew my attention to the sunrise outside, I showed the boys a picture on Fox News of a sunrise captured in Michigan that looked like a cross.

Renew.

The boys left for school. I posted on Instagram the sunrise. I scrolled through my social media feeds and found myself mesmerized by the sunrises I saw posted all over the world! It seems the Creator got the attention of many today. Why today were we all drawn to the sunrise? We’ve seen many a sunrise, right?

Renew.

Isaiah 40:30-31

Youths may faint and grow weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
31 but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint.

Have you ever studied about the eagle? Years ago in a Bible study we talked about the eagle in relation to this passage. I just started The Armor of God by Priscilla Schirer. In her study, she reminds us of the eagle. Just yesterday I listened to her talk about the eagle. It’s no coincidence. Here’s why….

The eagle was created to thrive in the storm. The eagle has the ability to use the winds of the storm to rise above the clouds. It soars above the storm. Doesn’t escape the storm, but rises to new heights. The eagle locks its wings in place and actually finds rest in a storm as it is able to glide….to soar. It doesn’t hide. It rises above the storm.

If you really want to be wowed by the eagle, read this.

God tells us that when we trust in the Lord, we will RENEW our strength. We will SOAR on wings like eagles. We won’t escape the pain, the hurt, the disappointment. But we will rise to new heights above the clouds and the storm that rages. The eagle gets excited for the storm because it knows where it will fly when the storm comes.

Today, I woke with Renew in mind. I checked the weather. 100% chance of rain. Jacob drew me to the sunrise God painted that literally stopped everything. I scrolled through social media. The world seemed to proclaim His majesty. Everywhere I turned I saw gorgeous sunrises.

But there is a 100% chance of rain. This sunrise didn’t look like a storm.

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Renew. Eagle. The storms coming. Get excited. We soar to new heights.

Within minutes the sunrise faded, replaced by nothing but gray clouds. The sky that stopped His children across creation today has a different look right now. A storm is predicted.

I sat with this verse from Isaiah and I knew why the Lord woke me with renew. I knew why He showed me His sunrise then showed me the clouds. I know He is telling me to remember to trust in Him and Him alone.

A storm is coming, but He is still God. 

In this space I don’t write a lot about what I’ve been studying. Mostly I write about what God is showing me and speaking to me. How I see Him in all of life.

You can’t deny the world we are living in has turned so far from God it is shocking. Culture is something I never imagined it would be. Never.

Yet God still reigns. The world isn’t falling apart. God’s plan is falling right into place. We are seeing it. We are about to see things happen that we never imagined we’d see. I believe with every fiber in me that it is time to wake from our apathy. To let go of our comfortable lives and live boldly for Him.

It’s time for us to be renewed. Renewed in our hearts, our minds, our walks. It’s time to renew our minds, get out of the patterns of this world. To see what is happening around us. To get on our knees for this nation and our leaders.

Every moment is an opportunity to renew. He will renew us when we trust in Him.

Our world will soon see unimaginable events taking place. We don’t know times and dates. But we know the storms are coming. Believer, trust in Him. The storms are coming. Be prepared. Get on your knees for the lost. Cry out to God for this nation and His people. Renew. Get ready to soar to new heights. Trust only in Him. He will renew us.

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Dear Kids, The “real” rules you need for owning a device

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Before I share today’s post, I need to preface it. The most read post on this blog hands down times 1000 is A Letter to My Sons, The Real Reason I Say No to Electronics. Having been read millions of times, this post showed me something. That our family is not alone! We are actually surrounded by thousands and thousands of families just like us. Families who value time and true, authentic relationship. Who want to make the most of the fleeting moments we have and realize how this digital age has the power to suck the moments away before we know what’s happened.

That being said, we’ve always known that there would come a time when our boys would begin to interact more in the electronic world and we would face new challenges. Our middle son saved his money for a year in order to purchase his own iPod touch. I’m grateful for all the years leading up to this point of laying the foundation.

Zachary asked us to give him rules and boundaries. The thing he has learned about himself is how easily he is sucked into the grips of a device. Of course we planned to give very firm and clear boundaries, but I found it interesting he recognized his need.

Before giving him the new family rules, I wrote him this letter because really, rules are pointless if he misses this point.

 

Dear Zachary,

You asked me to give you boundaries, rules, and guidelines for using your new iPod touch. Before you asked me that, I planned to give you clear boundaries, but the fact that you recognize your need for them shows me you are mature enough to begin to enter a world I would keep you from forever if I could. But I can’t because this is the world we live in.

Before I give you the rules for using your device, I want you to understand something else. You can have rules, you can be dedicated to keeping the rules, you can try harder to keep the rules than you’ve ever tried in your life, but without self control and discipline, you will fail miserably at keeping the rules.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

Rules without self control are nothing more than bait to failure. The rules will mock you and pressure you. They will torment you and tempt you to give in. The rules will wear a mask of protection, but they will whisper to you that a little longer isn’t a big deal. Or looking at this is no big deal. Or playing one more round just this one time won’t hurt anything.

In our own strength, we are powerless. We are weak. If we convince ourselves that we are strong enough to face temptation on our own, we are fools.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The first “rule” I want to give you is this. Admit you are weak. Admit that you are not strong enough to hold a temptation in your hands that has a power you underestimate. When you admit you are weak, submit to God’s leading, ask for His strength. Understand that this device and this connected world has the power to enslave you. You will need wisdom, strength, and self-control. These come from God alone, they do not come from within you.

The real “rules” you need to own a device:

  1. Recognize your human weakness to face temptation apart from God. It’s easy to look around at the world and see everyone owns a device and think, “What’s the big deal.” That is what the enemy wants you to think. What you hold in your hand can be used for good or evil. Understand its power and seek God’s strength. You will be faced with temptation repeatedly.
  2. Know yourself. Know your personal weak spots and temptations. Pray for God to guard you from temptation. To give you the strength to face temptation and flee.
  3. Guard your eyes. What you allow in with your eyes finds a path to your heart. Protect your heart. Guard it closely. Allow nothing in that would seek to separate you from God or bind you with shame.
  4. Understand that “life” through a device is not life at all. It’s not true life. Texting and interacting with friends online may be fun, but life was designed to be fully lived together with each other. Don’t replace real relationship with a counterfeit offering.
  5. It’s all about self control. And you can’t create your own self control. Try it for any amount of time, and you will quickly realize just how powerless you truly are. Self control must be practiced. Ask God to give you extra doses of self control. Practice it in all areas of your life. When you practice self control in all areas, it just gets easier.

Zachary, it’s really all about denying yourself. You see when you have that device in your hand, you will gratify your own desires. Repeatedly. The more you gratify your own desires, the harder it is to follow Jesus. This is why self control is the most important “rule” I can give to you.

It’s more than a device. It’s more than electronics. It goes to a deeper spiritual level than you yet know. So know this, ask God for self control. Ask Him to help you turn from your own desires and selfish ways so you can follow Him.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

I know you asked for rules. And those are coming, but before we focus on the rules, I want to give you something of greater value. Something with true power. Something that will give you what you need to keep the rules with joy.

5 verses to pray for self control to navigate the electronic world you are entering.

  1. Proverbs 25:28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
  2. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
  3. Titus 1:8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
  4. Titus 2:12 Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
  5. 1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

I love you, and I know that with God guiding you, you will navigate this new territory with wisdom and strength. Remember, it goes deeper than what you realize. I’m cheering you on as God grows you in new areas to learn to trust Him and rely on Him to strengthen your faith.

To follow Jesus in big ways, He sometimes starts us in small areas. Follow Him each time you pick up that device. Guard your eyes and your heart, pray for self control and strength. Choose wisdom over foolishness.

With all my love,

Mom

Zachary chose to have a verse inscribed on his iPod. “I can do all things through Christ.” I don’t believe in coincidence. God knows this is the reminder he will need each time he picks up that device. With Christ we have the power to do anything.

 

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How We Can End the War On Christmas Right Now

merrychristmas

I’m ready to put it to bed. This idea of a war on Christmas. It’s only a war if we let it be a war.

Now, satan, he loves to watch us get in a tizzy over this holiday. A holiday that, by the way, we created.

We created Christmas. We are fighting the world to keep the Christmas tree and the words Merry Christmas. Jesus wasn’t born under a Christmas tree. He never declared we greet each other with Merry Christmas. We are fighting to keep ideas and traditions that I can’t for the life of me imagine Christ desiring us to fight for.

We are falling right into the hands of satan’s plans.

Christ can’t be removed from Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of His birth. Jesus overcame the world on the cross. John 16:33.

It’s impossible for the world to remove Christ. The world will try, the world is trying, the world will continue to try. But have you read to the end of Revelation?

The war will end. He wins. He won on the cross, but there is coming a day the entire world will know who wins. So why are we fighting over a holiday that celebrates His birth?

Instead of fighting against the world to keep Him in Christmas, we need to fight a different battle. We need to fight for the world that is blinded by the enemy. That’s where the true battle is waged.

It doesn’t matter if someone says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. What matters is that whatever they say, we show love. We don’t scowl, cross our arms, stomp our feet, and huff ‘Merry Christmas’ as we storm away.

We don’t demand to have Christmas our way. 

Pride demands to have its own way. Humility places love over the need to be right.

Jesus is the ultimate picture of humility. Lowered Himself to be born a baby to one day willingly hang on a cross. For us. So we could have eternity with Him.

He wasn’t born so that we could have Christmas adorned with trees, singing carols, decked out halls, and shouting Merry Christmas for the world to see.  He was born to die so we could have eternity with Him.

Oh, church.

Is there a more humble birth than to be born to a common family, wrapped in swaddling cloths, placed in a manger because there was no room in the inn? When you are the Son of God!

Is there a more humble death than to hang on a cross and cry out to God to forgive them for they know not what they do??

It’s overwhelming.

Our humble Savior.

If we want to keep Christ in Christmas, it begins with taking the humble position. It’s not standing up straight and arguing to the world around us that this is our holiday and how dare they take it from us.

We are called to LOVE the world.

God is love.

If we want to keep Christ in Christmas, we love the world in a radical way.

If a company removes Merry Christmas, it means nothing. Not one single thing. Jesus never said this world would honor and adore Him. Why are we surprised?

We are fighting the wrong battle.

When a secular company doesn’t recognize Christ at Christmas, why are we aghast?

Love them. Love them. Love them.

Love wins.

We better love this world in such a radical way that they will come to know the One who gave His life for them.

Jesus was unconventional. Let’s follow Jesus. He never did things in the ways we would expect.

There is an enemy blinding our world. We must be the light. We are here for such a time as this. We can’t fall into the trap the rest of the world is falling into. Not at Christmas. Not at anytime.

Let’s rise up together. Then together, let’s sink. To that lowly position. The one that doesn’t demand to be heard, to be recognized, to be seen.

Christ doesn’t need us demanding Christmas trees and Merry Christmas greetings to make Him known.

They will know Him by our love.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:35

Let’s do it different this year. Let’s CHOOSE to not be offended. Let’s CHOOSE to show love. Let’s CHOOSE to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world rather than demand a Merry Christmas from them.

Maybe we take it a radical step further?

When the world races and fights to complete shopping lists, we stroll among them, be with them, but we serve them, we love on them. Let’s put ourselves in the middle of the chaos and shine a light. Smile, hold the door open, pick up the last item only to place it in their hands, wave them into that last parking spot and choose to walk the distance along the way chatting with others not so lucky in the parking lot.

Love them to smothering pieces. I believe love grows. I believe the more you love, the more you love.

I believe that when we ask God to help us to love others, He delights to say yes to that. But do we dare? Are we afraid, perhaps?

People often say be careful what you pray for. Yes, God delights to make our hearts bent to Him. If we ask Him to help us love others, watch out.

We never know how our small acts impact eternity. There is an actual war. If we had eyes to see what is happening in the spiritual world, I can’t imagine we wouldn’t fight a different fight. I believe we’d stop fighting the silly battles and we’d fight unconventionally. With love.

Merry Christmas. Season’s Greetings. Happy Holidays. Whichever you choose, say it from the heart, smother it in love, deliver it for Christ.

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