The Distraction of Entertainment

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 18:  A Costco custome...

In the previous articles in this series we discussed how we have neglected our mission field because we have gotten too comfortable in our life here, in the culture.  We think nothing of this problem but when we look at Scripture and it says that to be partakers of the things of this world makes us enemies with God, then we have to ask ourselves if it is time to give up the things of this earth to pursue God.

I know what many of you are thinking. At the suggestion of having to do away with some of your toys, your fun stuff, you will get all defensive. “But God wants us to enjoy our life” or “Don’t be so legalistic, we have freedom in Christ!”

I know you are thinking this because it is what I am thinking. My flesh wants to fight this thought. I see others enjoying their life here and I want to enjoy it too.

I am not saying that we are supposed to live in total depravity of everything fun. But would that really be a bad thing?

The closer I draw to Jesus the less I care about entertainment and the more I want to just serve Him. It doesn’t become a slave relationship where I can’t have any fun for fear of being struck by lightning; it becomes something where I love serving God so much that to think of spending my time playing games or watching tv just feels like such a waste in comparison!

You may think this is crazy talk, that I am still just denying myself the entertainment that our culture feels it is so entitled to, but when we get to heaven and stand before God, are we really going to be proud of all that time we spent in entertainment? Will we be proud that we spent 7,000 hours of our life watching television and movies, or another 20,000 hours playing video games?

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:1-3

The only time we find entertainment important in our lives is when we are not close with God. The more we focus on the things of God, the less time we want to spend on entertainment.

Think about when you were dating. When you start out getting to know each other and falling in love with each other.  Did you just spend all of your time staring at the tv? Is that how your relationship developed?  Sure you go to the movies and sometimes watch shows together but a majority of your time is spent talking, and interacting together.  This is how you got to know each other.

You fall in love with that person and want to spend all of your time with them. Just because you would rather spend time with your boyfriend or girlfriend instead of watch tv does not mean that you are depraving yourself of entertainment, does it? The entertainment truly doesn’t matter to you in comparison.

It is this way with God. The more we fall in love with God the less we care about the things of this world, the less we care about what the culture cares about.

So focus on heaven, focus on Christ, and focus on our mission here on Earth!

But beware, this world, satan, your flesh, will fight against you and distract you and make you lose that focus.

let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. – Hebrews 12:1, 3

The Problem with Getting too Comfortable

In the previous article we discussed how we do not need to go to other countries to do missions, but that our mission field is right here, where we live and work and spend our day to day life.  But we don’t see the area we live in as our mission field.

Why is that?

Taylor Mansion
Taylor Mansion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think the main reason we see this as not being our mission field is because we have made this our home. We have put a lot of time and effort into making this a safe and comfortable place to live where we can sit back and relax from the stresses of life.

But our citizenship is in heaven – Phillipians 3:20

We have forgotten that the earth is not our home.  As Christians our residence is in heaven, not on earth.  Our time on earth is just a temporary stopping point where we focus on our mission before heading home.

We are citizens of heaven, not of earth, not of the U.S., not of the middle class lifestyle, but of heaven.

But instead of living for the mission we forget about it because we get comfortable and distracted in the business and entertainment of our day to day life.

When I was in the Navy I would travel for weeks or months at a time.  Being away from my home was tough.  I missed my wife and my home, but I was there for a mission.  Sure I had a little bit of fun when I could, but my main focus was to do my mission for the military while I anxiously awaited the day I could return home to the one I love.

It should be like this for us.  We should be anxiously awaiting our return home, to see Jesus, the one we love more than any other.  We should not distracting ourselves and making our lives here comfortable enough that we do not care about the mission, about Christ, or about heaven.

Peter urges us to treat this life as travelers just passing through and to avoid the lifestyle of those around us.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh – 1 Peter 2:11

Abstain from the passions of the flesh?  That’s no fun.  God gave us these passions to enjoy ourselves with while we are here, didn’t he?  The problem with our culture is that we are all about the passions of the flesh above all else.  They become our obsession, but when we accept Christ we are told to deny ourselves and not let our flesh, our desires, or our passions become our master.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, – 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Our home here is supposed to be nothing more than a tent.  And by tent I do not mean we are only supposed to have structures made with fabric sides and zipper doors.  It means that what we have here is temporary, something we can throw away and lose if we are called to, not something we attach ourselves to that keep us grounded where we are.

Why are we so determined to purchase homes when they just tie us down?  Renting a place many say is throwing away money, but if you are not sure that God wants you to stay in that area then renting frees you up to just go when God calls you elsewhere.

Again, I am not saying that it is wrong to buy a house, but what I am saying is look at how our lifestyle decisions effect our ability to fulfill our mission.  It just shows where our focus and our treasure really is.

Paul even goes a step further and says that everything he gained in this world is now considered a loss, garbage even, in the mission for Christ.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ – Phil 3:7-8

Your car, house, cell phone, computers, clothes, all of it is nothing more than garbage compared to us knowing Christ!  How do we even try to compare the importance of the mission that we have to save those who are lost with our toys and gadgets?

So why do we obsess over this garbage so much?   Why is it so hard for us to believe that we are citizens of heaven?  Why are we so determined to settle down and make our home here on earth?

We will look at that more in our next article.

Don’t be discouraged.  These articles cover some deep topics that are close to our heart, but our God is gracious and merciful.  Keep reading to the end. 🙂

New Year goals, what is it that really matters?

Written by Jon Zenor

As we draw near to the end of 2011 a new year dawns before us.  Many people see the new year as a new chance to get things straight in their life.

As I sit down to write out what my goals will be for this next year I can’t help but think of a quote I heard a few months ago.

I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter. (William Carey – Missionary to India, 1761-1834)

Are you afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter?  You should, or at least I have been.  Every single thing we do we will be held accountable for, and for every single thing we don’t do.  Our culture has made it a point to make the body of Christ ineffective and lame.

I’ve heard a million words, sermons, and read books: (and) I’m accountable to God for everything I have. Every moment of my time, every dime of my money. (Leonard Ravenhill)

Entertainment

I just started watching some new TV shows on Netflix that I want to finish and I started playing a new game, Star Wars: The Old Republic (an MMO which promises to require a lot of my time).

All of this time I spend on entertainment makes me wonder, am I trying to succeed at things that do not matter?  If I get a max level character in Star Wars and beat all the bosses, and if I finish all the TV shows I am currently watching then months of my year are gone.

Star Trek the Next Generation is one show I want to finish, all 178 episodes. At 45 minutes per episode (yay for Netflix being commercial free!) that is 8010 minutes of my year, or 133 hours, which is about 5 and a half days.  5 and a half days of my year gone, just with one tv show, and there are many other shows I want to watch, and games to play.  Another 5 days for Star Trek Voyager, half a day with Firefly, and before you know it just in watching 3 tv shows I have used up nearly 2 full weeks of the 52 weeks I get to live this year. Sleeping for 7 hours per night is 15 weeks, and working approximately 250 days this year is another 12 weeks.

Just between work, sleep, and a couple of tv shows I only have 23 weeks worth of time left…

Our church, the army of the Lord, is found laying down sleeping on the job because we spend most of our time sitting in our comfortable couches watching sports and tv shows and playing computer games.  The world is out there perishing, needing people to help them and bring the gospel message, while we sit around not caring.

This goes back to the quote… am I trying to succeed at things that do not matter?  I am applying this to entertainment but it applies to everything we do, our jobs, relationships that may be dragging us down, time wasted on the internet, games played out with friends while our family is at home without us… the list goes on.

I once confronted someone about entertainment and got the response “but we all need entertainment.” Do we?  Do we really need entertainment?  I suppose if our only alternative is to sit around with nothing to do, then yeah, we need entertainment.

But consider this quote from one of my favorite preachers, Leonard Ravenhill.  He said “The devil’s substitution for joy is entertainment.” Think about that quote for a moment.

If we were busy doing something for Christ, for the lost, we would no doubt feel the joy of Christ in our life.  At that point, I believe, we wouldn’t miss those TV shows or sports.  We wouldn’t care because we would know that we are serving the kingdom.

I am not saying we need to be working twenty four seven and never do anything to relax, what I am saying is that the more time we choose to spend in entertainment the less time we spend doing something godly and holy; something productive.

Christians, we have a savior who gave up everything to become a man, why? So he could be entertained or provide us entertainment?  No, so he could serve and save us.

Do something that matters

I want to challenge each of you.  If you are a Christian, I challenge you to make it a goal this year to put God first, to sacrifice your entertainment time to read the Bible, pray, read a book about becoming a disciple (check out our book reviews for some great suggestions!), or have family time by watching something that is wholesome and edifying instead of the garbage we let in the house from mainstream cable.  Realize that the only thing worth living for, the only thing worth attempting to succeed at are things that are going to last for eternity.

I’m sick to death of the so-called Christianity of our day. What’s supernatural about it? When do people come out of the sanctuary awed and can’t speak for an hour because God has been in glory there? Dear God, as soon as they get out, they’re talking football, or sports or something or there’s going to be a big sale downtown or somewhere. We are not caught up into eternity! (Leonard Ravenhill)

Do you realize your neighbors are speeding down the road to hell while you sit there watching your football games?  While I am sitting on my computer leveling up my Jedi Knight in Star Wars, my neighbor is struggling with sin and needing someone to share the love of Christ with them, someone to take the time to pray for them.

Brothers and sisters, what are we doing on this earth if we are not living for the kingdom?

Call up local churches or the police department and ask what kinds of needs are in your community that you can pray for and help out with.  Find the nearest homeless shelter and go help them out.  Do you knit? Knit them some scarves to help keep the homeless warm.  Just go do something; which may mean you have to turn off that TV.

If you are not a Christian, I plead for you to realize that your sin is greatly offending a mighty and holy God.  The one who created you and gave you life, love, the power to think, he is hurt by every “little” sin we do. It is time for you to get right before God, repent and turn from your sin and follow God!  The journey isn’t easy or comfortable, but it is awesome!

Let twenty twelve not go down in the history of your life as just another year that flew by faster than before with nothing significant to show for it.

Everything else is meaningless

When you face God on judgement day, how many characters you got to max out in a video game is not going to matter, how many football games you watched and cheered for will not matter, what tv shows you watched will not matter.  What will matter, is what you did with the resources God gave to you, your time and money.

The writer of Ecclesiastes ends his book by saying “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless. … Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” ( Ecclesiastes 12:8, 13 NLT)

Do you have as much passion for Jesus as you do for football?

Written by Jon Zenor

Have you ever seen a person who is fanatical about football? They sit in the bleachers in a blizzard with nothing covering them but pants and paint.  What is it that makes a person go to such lengths to show support for their team?

It’s passion, or in this case extreme passion.  But you don’t have to have an extreme passion for something to make it number one in your life.  Most football fans don’t go to those extremes, but they do spend as much time as they can involved in the sport.

A football fan spends hours a week watching football, even throwing parties to get others together to watch the game.  You talk about it all day at work, spend time looking up news on how well various teams did that week and on trades or injuries.  You wear jerseys that show support of your team, even if they lose all the time.  You even create your own fantasy teams.

Your life, as a football fan, is consumed by football.  There is not anything wrong with being a fanatical fan at all, I just have one question for you.

How does your passion for Jesus — your Lord and Savior, your creator, the one who died to have a relationship with you — compare to your passion for football?  It may not even be football for you, it could be video games, baseball, programming, martial arts, planes, motorcycles, or any number of things that consume your every thought.

Jesus must come first!

Matthew 13:44 says “the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

As Christians Jesus must come first in our life.  Not because it will please God, but because God deserves it, it is the least we can do, and the Bible says we must do it.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62

It is even written in the Ten Commandments when God says to Moses “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)  Leonard Ravenhill reminds us that “Anything you love more than Jesus Christ is an idol, I don’t care what it is!”

If you think that is harsh look at what Jesus himself said.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26

Jesus is saying that your love for Him MUST be first in your life, and nothing goes above that, not your own life, and not even family.  And if you think this is selfishness on God’s part, just remember that He is God almighty, the creator, the one who holds all of existence in his hand, you are just a created thing, a sinful man who rejects God every chance you get.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here.  I am not saying all entertainment is bad and you should do nothing but read the Bible and sing praise songs.  What I am getting at is that when we become a Christian, a Christ-follower, we are saying we are putting God first in our life, above everything, including entertainment.  Where you spend your money and how you spend your time show what is first in your heart, Jesus or something else?

Imagine the impact YOU could have

Imagine what the impact would be like in the lives of those around you if you treated Jesus with as much time and energy you spend on football.  You would go to work talking about what God has done in your life, sharing the gospel, talking about God and what is going on in the church.  You would let the world know that Christians are not just hypocrites that live like the rest of the world but they are actually out there doing things!

You would remind them that when disasters happen and the government has its hands tied to help, like FEMA did when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it was our churches that were out there giving food and aid to the people.  In fact, instead of going to football games you would go on a missions trip to somewhere that needs the help and help others.

Instead of looking up news for football stats you could look up what news there is on martyrs around the world and pray for them.  Every week I get an email from Voice of the Martyrs with information on those being put in prison, who are losing their homes, who are being outcast from their families and beaten because they are the ones on the front lines putting Jesus first in their life.

You would attend church no matter what the weather was like outside, or how much air conditioning worked or how comfortable the chairs at your church were.  Your focus would be more on fellowship and worship than on comfort.

We don’t even need everyone to do this, just you.  If just you would start putting Jesus first in your life, and having a passion for Jesus, then you alone could change a huge part of the world, everyone you interact with.  Those that look up to you would catch that fire and it would spread.

Del Tackett of Focus on the Family, teacher of The Truth Project, said if just a few of you would really believe what the Bible says is true, you would change this world for Christ.

Being a Christian is not a game or a hobby. It is not something we do just once a week.  Being a Christian is a life long commitment that changes your daily life, putting God first in everything you do.

When you don’t have the passion

If you find that you do not have the passion for Christ that you should there is hope for you.  The first and most important thing is to test your salvation, make sure you are saved.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” – 2 Corinthians 13:5

Study the Word of God, what does it mean to be a Christian?  This is an important enough topic to spend the time studying for yourself.  When I went through this last year it took me a couple of months of searching scripture, comparing what I was reading to my life, and most importantly praying, a lot.  Being saved is not based on works, but if you are saved, if you do have Christ living in you, then you cannot help but manifest the fruit of God living in your life.

A major thing that will get in the way of a Christian’s passion for Jesus is sin.  If you are living in sin then you will not be passionate for God, you can’t be.  You will avoid the Word of God, and the things of God.  Search your life for any unrepentant sin and repent of it, turn every area of your life towards God.

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. – 1 John 3:4-6

Jesus wants all of us, not just our leftovers

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:38

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Jesus wants, and deserves every part of you to follow Him.  He knows that we are most satisfied personally when we are bringing glory to Him, it is what we were created for.  Don’t waste another day putting garbage in the place of God in your life.

When I do not want Jesus to return yet… Time is still running out.

by Jon Zenor

Have you ever had the thought that you wish God would not come back anytime soon?  I have…

Not for any worldly reasons, because I want to stay and enjoy my house or my stuff or do more stuff in the world that I want to do.  Not for anything like that.  But because I want to do more for God before that time.

Well, more specifically because I do not feel like I do much now for God and I want to make my life actually mean something in the eternal realm.

If you do have these same thoughts that I do you have to realize something.  God is not delaying his return until you feel like you are ready.  Jesus is coming back at a set time, and our involvement in the kingdom is not going to hinder or speed things up.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.  (Matthew 24:36-47)

The facts are this.

Jesus is coming back, could be tomorrow, could be 20 years from now, but soon.  We were saved for a purpose, to glorify God, and God wants us to help those in need, but Satan paralyzes us with every tactic he can throw at us, sin, entertainment, work.

What should we be doing?

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:21-22, 26-27)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; (Matthew 28:19-20)

We have been given a job to do here, to help those in need, to spread the gospel message.  The more we make ourselves busy with the things of this world, the more we become of this world, the less we will want to do for God.

Face it, doing what God wants us to do we know is the right and better thing to do, but it is so much harder to do.  We all really want to help out those in need, but not during the football game. Maybe after this tv show, or just let me finish this one level in this game.

We all get sucked into things we would rather be doing and it takes us away from the important task we were sent here for.

We do not have long to live

We do not have much time in this world.  Either because Jesus is going to come back soon or because we could die.  James 4 says “what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  Don’t waste that little amount of time we have.

I am convinced that as we get older every day passes by faster and faster.  You plan on doing something you know you should do, but you put it off just one day.  And somehow, before you know it, that one day has turned into a month, then a year is gone, then another year.

Last night I had a dream.  The tribulation was obviously starting, the world breaking out in war and natural disasters, Christianity was outlawed, and I was watching the news unfold thinking of all the stuff that I had the opportunity to do to help others, to witness to others, but now it was too late.

At work the other day we had a conversation about people some of the guys knew, who died or lost their children when they went in the hospital for a very routine procedure (such as a girl getting tubes put in her ears) and ended up dying from it.

We just never know how much longer we have left to do the things we know we should be doing.

But we do know that with every day that passes, we have one less day to do those things.

Courageous – Movie Review

In 2007 while browsing through a Christian bookstore I found a movie that touched my life.  The movie was Facing the Giants.  I resisted the movie at first because it is a football movie, and being a geek means I am not really much of a sports fan.  But I gave the movie a chance, and I am glad I did, that movie touched my life and encouraged me to put God first once again in my life.

Sherwood Pictures, the group that created the movie, just came out with another movie this month in theaters called Courageous: Honor Begins at Home.

The Message

The message of the movie is an important one.  It focuses on the man’s responsibility to his children and wife, and how important that relationship is.  The men in the movie are like any of us, imperfect fathers from all walks of life.  Men who suck at being a father and men who are doing a good enough job.  The men get to a point in their life where they decide “good enough” is not really good enough, and they seek to change.

Stephen Kendrick, one of the movie’s producers stated the mission they have for the movie during an interview.  He said “We want to challenge men to forgive their dads, their dads wounded them, or provided poor example for them. And them seek God as their father and then step up to spiritual leadership. We can change the world if we can get dads to step up and disciple and lead this next generation.”

Story Elements

The story is very engaging and emotional for all audiences.  There is action, humor, tragedy, and redemption.  The characters are very believable and the actors are good.  Despite the fact that this movie is made by a church congregation, it has all the elements and look of a Hollywood blockbuster, but with a strong Christian message.

I went to the movie during a weekday so there were not a lot of people there, maybe a dozen or so sitting all around me.  Throughout the movie, in every direction, were people laughing, and even sobbing.  (I was too, but don’t tell anybody)  That tells me the entire audience really engaged and connected with characters and the story in a deeply emotional way.

Go see it!

Courageous, I would say, is an epic film.  You need to see it.  The message given make this far exceed any entertainment available today.  It will encourage families to take a more courageous stand in their family, even if it is not easy.  It will encourage men to want to do the right thing in their marriages and with their children, and will show them how it is possible.

And while you are at it, go see Sherwood Picture’s other movies available on DVD.  Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof.

Courageous, the book

After seeing the movie, get the book.  There are two books, The Resolution for Men, and a companion book The Resolution for Women.  I have The Resolution for Men at home sitting at the top of my book pile, so I will be reading it soon.  As soon as I finish it I will write a review for you guys.  However, based on the quality of Biblical work Sherwood puts out I would say you do not need to wait for my review to get the book and read it.

If anybody has read The Resolution for Women, please write a small review and send it to us.  Email it to Info@EternalTruthMinistry.com.

What are your thoughts?

Have you seen the movie yet?  What are your thoughts?  Post a comment below telling me how this movie has impacted you and your family!

Living Rich with God’s money

In my previous article I addressed some questions that come up when talking about money and saving and what God has shown me about each question. In this article I will briefly explain how I am being led with my money.

The Goal, The Plan, The Purpose

Last year God gave me a goal to work on for finances. He wants me to cut my living expenses by at least 35%. I did not know why or how to do that when I am currently living paycheck to paycheck. This goal has been on my mind since, and I have done what I can to make it happen but without much luck.

Finally, after about nine months of praying over this God gave me the plan (Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover) which I just started. I am not fully aware of the purpose of this goal other than to free up the resources God has given me to manage to help others. It is pretty clear in the Bible that this is required of all Christians, to help others with what God provided. Beyond that, I do not know why God wants me to make such drastic changes in my life.

Don’t worry, focus on God

Luke 12:21-24 has some words of warning and advice for us here.

“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!

This passage tells me to not worry about your money, God gives and takes away, it is all His. If He chooses to use you for a storehouse for a year or a lifetime, awesome, if not, awesome.

Realize that it is all His, and you are just the steward, realize that money is nothing, focus on a relationship with God, that is what matters. Everything else just gets in the way. Want to save money? Sure, just make sure you are doing it for the Lord and following Him, not trying to make yourself secure. Only God knows the future, you never know what will come up where the money God has given you to manage could be used in a huge way if you were to just save a percentage of it now.

Want to give away every dime and rely on faith for your retirement? Awesome, just make sure it is from God so you are not left broke wondering what happened and God says “I gave you all the resources you needed and the abilities to work, you were not responsible so I took them from you.”

Whatever you do, do it for the Lord.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line, what counts is not how much money you have in savings, how much you make, how much you give away. What matters is your attitude towards God and towards your money.

I know someone who makes a lot of money, and gives a lot of money, yet his life does not show devotion to God. God isn’t pleased with our giving, He is pleased with our obedience to Him through our relationship with Him.

Repent of your greed (we all have it to some extent), and follow God. As you draw closer to Him your desires will become His desires. You will want to save and give away what He tells you because you are close to Him. Just be cautious of the greed and the pride that can sneak in and distract and destroy.

Word of Warning

One last word of warning though. Do not just assume that God wants you to build up wealth and spend money on yourself to live comfortably and have nice cars. In America we have the mindset that we deserve the nice cars, big houses, big screen TVs and game systems. Before you buy anything for yourself, or before you start putting most of your money into retirement, pray, and sure you use God’s money the way God wants you to. God may not have called you to that life of comfort you want to live in.

Removing Distractions does not make more time for God

Last week I took up a challenge to go 40 days without TV or xbox in order to remove distractions from my life and to draw closer to God.

I am currently on day 5 and I have already learned something.

Getting rid of a distraction does not mean you have more time for God. Removing a distraction from your life is like removing a cup of water from a bucket. As soon as you remove that water, more water floods the space you just freed up and in a split second you cannot even tell you removed any water in the first placce.

Removing a distraction from your life just gives you more time for other distractions. Sure I spent more time this week playing with my son Malikai, relaxing with some music with Danae, and reading a lot of books, getting the house ready for company, which we can all agree are much better than watching tv. But my main purpose of doing this challenge was to draw closer to God.

Your flesh, and Satan, have a lot of proven ways to keep you distracted from God. If you want to take a challenge to go without something in order to spend more time with God, you must not only remove the distraction, but commit yourself to actually spending more time with God.

There is a war going on, your flesh wants to keep you focused on the flesh and the things of the world, and Satan wants to keep you focused on anything but God and the Bible. Declaring to fight by removing something from your life isn’t as easy as you may think.

It takes some dedication and discipline to spend that extra time with God above and beyond what you already spend every day. So if you want to take on this challenge, go into it prepared with a battle plan.

Why I am leaving PC gaming…

I have been playing PC games for years…okay…12 years to be exact.  I have greatly enjoyed the time I have played them; however, that time is coming to an end.  No, I am not quitting video games…as a matter of fact I still plan on playing a lot.  Anyways, time to stop boring you with my rambling and get to the point.

Why am I leaving PC gaming…?

MMORPGs…

Well, a lot of reasons actually.  For the last 12 years, since I got into PC gaming, I mostly played MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games).  There are rather large problems with MMORPGs.

First, they are timesinks, meaning they consume a LOT of your time to be fun and to unlock the full potential of the game.  Second, they support addictive properties that can pull in just about anyone, and get you to play hours every day; while you neglect your family, friends, and other responsibilities.

Third, since most never have any completion, they have to attract you with what is called “Carrot on a Stick” tactics; this means they tease you with the next best thing (weapon, armor, mount, dungeon), only to get to the next best thing after that.  Basically, chase the carrot on a stick, once you finally reach it, here is another.  Don’t get me wrong, fun is fun, and some of them are fun, but in the end, they all go to this tactic.

Fourth…ehh, I could keep going, but I bet I am starting to bore you.

Pause!

Another reason I am leaving PC gaming is due to most PC games being mostly online, you have no pause functionality.  Pause is important in so many ways, but instead of putting them all here, take the time to think about how a pause button could be useful to you in any situation.

$MONEY$

So many people argue that PC gaming and console gaming end up costing the same amount in the end, and I have ready multiple articles backing it.  However, in my own research, and in my own situation, this is not true by any means.

In order to keep my computer up to date and playing the current games, I need to spend $200-400 a year on new hardware.  And you still have the buy the games to play on it.  In the last 3 years I have spent roughly $1200 upgrading a computer I spent $1500 four years ago.  So in four years that is $2700, not counting games.

In the last 2 years, including the price of the console, I have spent roughly $800 on my Xbox 360 AND games!  If I added 2 years of games onto that, (I rarely buy games new) I may have spent $100-$150.  So, we are comparing $2700 to $950.

And we are not done!  In order to play multiplayer games, everyone I want to play with must have the game as well.  2 of the main people I play with are my wife, and my brother, and my brother doesn’t have a job, so I must purchase his games for him.  This means if we all want to play a new PC game, that is $180 for me.  Most Xbox 360 games have up to 4 player split-screen multiplayer.  That means buying one game, and being in the same room with the other players.  Double win in my opinion.

Plus, I am also maintaining both of their computers, but figuring that in would just make the PC gaming cost crazy.

Being a better person?

I don’t know about you, but when I get off a PC game, I don’t just get right off the computer and spend time with my family; more likely I check forums, facebook, and do other web activities.  Before I know it, a 2-3 hour gaming session just turned into 4 due to forums and facebook.  When I play my Xbox 360, most of the time after a maybe 1 hour gaming session, I instantly go to my family or to something I need to get done.  This greatly improves your chances of getting the house clean 😀

I have noticed time spent with my family, and getting other things done greatly increased since lowering my PC gaming time.  Not only that, but it is easy to get your family involved with the Xbox 360 than it is with a PC game.

Being a better person…in Christ! ^_^

Don’t get me wrong, Christians gaming is not wrong.  Nor is Christians playing games for countless hours of the night.  When it is wrong, is when it interferes with your family, your friends, and your walk with God.  I openly encourage gaming, now and probably always will.  As a matter of fact I am a member of a very large Christian gaming clan called Tribe of Judah ( http://toj.cc ).

Gaming is not only a good form of entertainment, but it also provides a wonderful way to have fun with friends and family.  (In my opinion, it is one-hundred times better than spending time watching TV.)

Stepping away from PC gaming will give me a lot more time for God, and Bible study.  I will be able to focus more on who I should be in Christ, and have more time to help others.

Overall

I am leaving PC gaming because (for me) it is unhealthy, time consuming, inconvenient and expensive.  And my friends and family will benefit from more time with me. 🙂

Are distractions keeping you from being as close to God as you could be?

“Our blessings have become a curse. They attract us. They take too much of our time and concern.” – Leonard Ravenhill

One of the most powerful tools Satan is using to attack the church and keep Christians crippled in America today is distractions.

Let’s face it, life in America is distracting. We have TV and xbox and iphones and the latest gadgets, cars to repair soccer practice to take the kids to, work. We try to squeeze spending time with the family in there, but even that is mostly taken up by staring at the television together.  None of these things are that bad, but they tend to distract us from what truly matters; our relationship with God.

We have enough free time to spend a couple hours watching a movie a couple times a week or just vegging out in front of some mind numbing sitcoms and playing Black Ops to all hours of the night, but we struggle to give God just fifteen minutes of our week according to the Barna Group’s research.

What are you going to do when you get to eternity, if you can’t stick in an hour with God down here? In God’s name, what are you going to do in a million years in God’s presence? Expect some reports from earth about football or something? – Leonard Ravenhill

If something is preventing you from being as close to God as you should be it needs to be removed. Fat keeps a runner from running as fast as they could, so runners work hard to trim off the fat. This fat trimming increase their speed and makes them healthier which makes them a better runner.  Likewise we need to trim off the fat of the American dream and the fat of distractions in our life so we can run the spiritual race as best we can.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2

Starting today I am taking a 40 day challenge to cut TV out of my life. This includes Netflix, xbox, or even youtube on my iPhone. I will replace much of that time with reading and praying and listening to praise music. I will provide periodic updates to let you know my progress during this challenging time, and hopefully it will encourage you to take up a similar fast for God.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. – Psalm 119:15

Exceptions

So nobody accuses me of cheating I will have just a few exceptions here.

  • My wife and I started a tv show on netflix, we have about 15 episodes left and Netflix is getting rid of it on June 1st, so I will finish the series with my wife (only that show and only when watching with her)
  • Xbox just for working out – using the game Your Shape: Fitness Evolved
  • Sermons on Youtube – Many of the sermons I listen to are provided on youtube, but that is all I will watch there

Start the Countdown

So now I start my count down, forty days of no television, netflix, xbox games, or watching videos online. Forty glorious days of drawing closer to God with one less distraction in my life.  On June 26th I may not even want to go back to watching TV. 🙂

“No man is greater than his prayer life.” – Leonard Ravenhill

Will you join me with your own challenge? Is there something God has been tugging on your heart to get rid of?  Comment below and let me know what challenge you want to take on.