Clogged Filters + Victory Over Sin (alt. title: I Went A Week Without My Phone)

Bored? Pull out your phone and browse Facebook.

Lonely? Pull out your phone and send a quick selfie-snap to your list of Snapchat friends.

Doing something cool? Better pull out your phone, grab that photo, and post it on Instagram post-haste because if your friends don’t know you did it, was it really worth doing?

Home alone? Put on a movie, of course, or watch an entire season of whatever TV show strikes your fancy.

Let me tell you a little story. A couple of weeks ago, I was a counselor at a girls camp where there were no electronics allowed. I have to admit that when I first heard that I was a little shocked and actually nervous about what I’d do without my phone for seven long days. …And that was my first clue that maybe my phone had become more than a necessity.

Well, do you want to know how that week went? I actually cried the first night because I couldn’t text any of my family or friends and tell them how nervous I was about the week at camp. I had to opt for what felt, to my embarrassment, like second-best: talk to God about it. But the next morning, and for the rest of the week, I experienced freedom. I enjoyed what was around me. The quiet of nature. Talking to my girls. Talking to God. Reading my Bible. Just thinking. And let me tell you this: I was more aware than I had been in a long time of a few things: 1) the spiritual needs of the people around me 2) my own dependence on God 3) the voice of the God’s Spirit. At the end of the week I didn’t even want to see my phone again because life had been so real and rich without it, I had seen quick answers to prayer and had seen God work in crazy ways.

At first I was surprised – why would I feel like I was hearing the Spirit more when I was away? What was the difference? What had been wrong before?

We all have filters in our minds. Imagine a water filter – when that filter is clean, lots of water comes through without any trouble. But as the filter becomes clogged with minerals and junk, the water is hindered from flowing through and might even come through a little messy. Our mind-filter is constantly processing through what we feed it. We feed our minds every minute of the day, via the music we listen to, the movies we watch, the people we talk to, and perhaps most prominently through the social media we ingest. I realized that every day I was – yes, feeding myself the word of God, conversation with God, and some good music. But more than that, I was feeding myself the random things that came up on Facebook, or Instagram. I was swallowing whole the emptiness of certain music, movies, valuable moments spent in worthless talk. And that all was clogging my filter, making me dull to the spiritual realities of this earthly life, making me less sensitive to the Spirit of God, making priorities less than eternal. I was getting frustrated at my inability to walk in love and victory, all the while shutting the door to the opportunity to do so.

I think you all know that this doesn’t mean I’ve burned my phone and will never watch a movie again. It just means my eyes were opened to the fact that my filter was pretty clogged with some junk I had unknowingly been feeding myself, and I need to be careful in the future as to what I’m feeding my mind. It’s a good rule of thumb to skimp on the secular things and feast on the sacred things. Think…really think about the condition of your filter right now. Is water flowing clear through without hinderance? Or maybe not so much?

What are you feeding yourself?

We can’t complain about not being victorious over sin when we give it access into our minds countless times every day via social media.

We can’t complain about not hearing the voice of God when we are quenching it with the junk we feed ourselves daily.

This week, if you are bored, read a book. If you get lonely, have a conversation with a wise and trusted friend. If you go on a grand adventure, turn your phone on airplane mode and really invest in the people you’re with, and enjoy the scenery. If you’re home alone, play the piano, or call a friend, or maybe even read your Bible and pray. You’ll be surprised and delighted to find that life is more enjoyable that way.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” -1 Timothy 6:6-7

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

I could write for awhile on this, but there are a couple of people who’ve articulated what I’d want to say really well…I highly recommend a quick read-through of both of these short articles:

You Might Not Want To Go To Heaven by Matt Walsh (powerful article on our perception of heaven and how unprepared most of us are to spend an eternity doing something that we hardly spend an hour a day doing now)

Consumed by Nathan Streyle (I just met this guy randomly the other night and really recommend this article he wrote on practically making room for God to speak and work in our lives…he’s also going on a mission trip soon and there’s an opportunity to donate if you follow the link)

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a sermon to myself

this is first and foremost addressed to me who needs to hear it the most. 
and then you guys – I pray that it will encourage and build someone up for life
don’t be afraid of the unknown
because your unknown is God’s known
there is no reason to fear
He who has already gone BEFORE you
has paved a perfect way
and He lives INSIDE of you
and will walk through it with you
there is nothing in life that is too big for God to handle.
He knows what is going to happen
and how it’s going to happen
and He’s not going to let you go through it alone.
He is with you now and He will be with you then.
He is forever faithful and He is forever with you
because
He doesn’t view you based on your performance
but based on the perfect, spotless, righteous blood of Christ.
get outside of yourself.
do you know that your body is not going to last?
I’m not saying go have some weird out-of-body experience
but I AM saying that life with God exists outside of physical circumstances.
your life, your joy, your attitude, your words
are defined by HIM
and not by some momentary affliction.
life isn’t all about you
it’s about Him.
a thought life that is saturated with self will lead to death
but when you learn to take every thought captive and direct it unto Jesus Christ
life comes.
perspective makes all the difference, friends.
do you go to Him when you’re scared?
do you go to Him when you’re bored?
do you go to Him when you don’t know what to say or do anymore?
the world passes on
but God is always there
to be more specific, EMT school will be over in 5 1/2 months
but God won’t be
the scary stuff only lasts for a little bit
but He lasts forever
just keep your eyes on Jesus
and invest in what cultivates a greater love for Him
Jesus would never allow His disciples to be in a panic.
the one great crime on the part of a dicsiple, according to Jesus Christ, is worry.
whenever we begin to calculate without God we commit sin.
// chambers
and there in the deepening twilight
I seemed to be clasping a Hand
and to feel a great love constraining me
stronger than any command
then I knew, by the thrill of sweetness,
’twas the hand of the Blessed ONe
which would tenderly guide and hold me
till all the labour is done
so my thoughts are never more gloomy
my faith no longer is dim
but my heart is strong and restful
and mine eyes are unto Him
// holness [quoted in separation & service by hudson taylor]

questions to ask yourself . . .

but the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
james 3:17

what if we truly evaluated
every decision
every word
every thought
every action
according to the wisdom that is from God?

is it pure?
unmixed in motive for God?
above reproach in every way?
exciting reverence in those around you?
without trace of the world?

is it peaceable?
promoting unity?
bringing peace with it?
not provoking others to ungodliness?

is it gentle?
suitable?
fair and equitable?

is it willing to yield?
ready, willing and immediate to obey?

full of mercy?
reflecting the unending mercy of God?

full of good fruits?
will it bring good fruit, bad fruit, or no fruit at all?

without partiality?
is it partial to one person or persons or is it pure in that it is only for God?

is it without hypocrisy?
authentic, sincere, real, not brought on through a facade?

imagine if you worked these questions into how you lived (spoke, thought, acted)? this wisdom is readily accessible . . .

if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
james 1:5

reality check.

my journal entry from this day last year. . . 

november 14th, 2013
saying yes to something is saying no to everything else. 
do I have a pre-decided yes to whatever I need to do or give up so that I may know Christ?

interestingly enough, today – November 14th, 2014 – this very thing is weighing heavy on my mind.

whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
[luke 14:33]

I know – I know that He is worthy. And I know that there’s a cost.
but in luxurious America we don’t really experience that cost.
that doesn’t mean the time won’t come when we will have to leave everything.
when we have to give up not just the comforts and conveniences, but people we love.

I don’t want something that gives me pleasure, but steals glory from God.
I don’t want there to ever be a limit to my obedience.
I don’t want to hold back someone I love from going because I’ll miss them.
I don’t want to hold back myself from going because I’m afraid of transition.
if that’s my mindset, something is wrong.
in light of eternity, what matters?
that we are happy or that He is glorified?
obedience to Him leads to Him being glorified.
may He change our hearts so that we are happy when He is glorified through our obedience,
no matter the cost. . .

He is worthy. Worthy of me, worthy of them.

and the more we forsake, the more we sacrifice, the more we give up for His sake
– the more we will realize how precious Christ is.

unless you reject earth, there can be for you no heaven.
[jim elliot]

for the soul that has it’s gaze fixed on Christ, sacrifice is not a drudgery.
and there’s no reason to be afraid of what He might call you to.
do not shy away from full abandon to Him.

and so we abandon it all.
no reason to fear
simply because He is God
and it’s He who called
and if we believe
if we love Him
we’ll obey.

every moment there’s a choice.

whoever will be my disciple must
deny himself
take up his cross
and follow me.
matt 16:24

if you take up your cross, there is no doubt to you that you will die.
you are taking up your method of martyrdom.
a cross takes all your strength to carry –
you cannot hold anything else
when you’re carrying a cross.
it takes your whole life.
it’s a life of dying.

for HIS life.

is it worth it?
it is worth it.
He is worth it.

there is freedom, joy & LIFE found in denying yourself and taking up your cross.
because that is when you can truly follow.

every moment there’s a choice.
are you in?

Today last year, one of my dearest friends, Michelle, gave her life to God. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more glad or elated when I heard those words, “I decided to follow Christ” come out of her mouth. Michelle, this is for you. I am blessed, inspired, and convicted by the way you gave & give yourself fully to Christ. Keep pursuing Him with everything you have. . .more this year than last year, and more next year than this year. I love you.

IMG_1260

I like to imagine. . .

I’m in the throne-room of God.

Nothing else exists. Just God. And me.

I behold Him. And He is holy, holy, holy.

I am not.

This God who loves is also a God in whose presence sin will not stand. Sin cannot dwell with holy.

I am condemned to death.

I fall on my face, weeping.

There is nothing. Nothing I can do. I’m hopeless.

My tear- stained face turns up again to see Him coming toward me.

“No”, I cry, feeling that this would be the end.

Anything, anything to get His love, His approval, His smile.

And then another voice. “She’s with me,” He thunders.

Jesus, ready, stands to save me. 

I feel myself pulled up by strong hands. Planted on my feet. A robe thrown around me.

“She’s with ME,” He says again.

Something is different.

I look to God. He smiles. He holds out His arms. I am welcomed.

“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me.”
Psalm 49:15

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look, to see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the JUST is satisfied
To look on HIM – and pardon me.

to love God.

to love God.

that is the call of Christianity.

It’s not about academics. It’s about relationship.

God is not after what you do. He’s after you.

I’ve felt the pressure to always have something intelligent to say. I’ve felt like I can’t say anything unless it includes a Greek word and it’s snazzy definition. I’ve felt like I have to fit into a certain mold of academic pursuit of God. But in reality? That’s not where God’s heart is at.

What kind of husband would tell his wife, “Okay honey, I want you to study what my name means and when anyone asks you what I’m like, tell them that.” No. . .no, no, no. The wife studies the character of her husband because she loves him – not because she needs a good intelligent answer to provide anyone who asks.

It is a joy to study a person you love. It is a joy to talk about their character, their deeds, just them. It is absurdly ridiculous for any Christian to feel obligated to study God’s word purely for the sake of academics and his own intelligence. It should, however, be completely natural and our greatest joy to expound upon our God simply because we love Him and we see His virtue.

The first commandment? Love God. Love Him. Love Him. And while that can and likely will include the more academic facts, that is certainly not all that this pursuit entails.

Loving God is knowing God as He is and enjoying Him as such. Friends, we are free to pursue God like this. In fact, that’s the whole idea. So let’s. 🙂