Pastor's Blog

Weekly Habit #2 - Curate Your Media

 

Stories are powerful.

Jesus often used the power of story to make a point.

The story of the Good Samaritan answered the question, “Who is my neighbor?” My neighbor is the one in need. The story of the Prodigal Son illustrated why Jesus associated with broken people. The Father’s heart longs to forgive and restore.

Every Sunday, when we gather for worship, it is our goal to rehearse the grand story of Scripture.  It is the story that reminds us of God’s grace extended to us in Jesus. It is a story that empowers us to then go out into the world to be a blessing to others.

The other day, Bonnie and I were watching a PBS special on story telling. Each storyteller would take seven minutes to weave their tale and exercise their craft. A good storyteller can captivate your imagination and shape your heart and mind.

Stories are powerful.

Our world is filled with stories. Because of technology, we don’t always select the stories we want to consume. Instead, stories have a way of selecting us.

Stories select us when we are indiscriminate with how much media we consume. In fact, social media is designed to make us consume more and more. It prompts us to respond. It even knows which stories we gravitate to and so it keeps inviting us back.

The habit this week is to curate your media intake to a limited amount of time. And with that limited time, be selective in what stories you choose to shape your heart. 

For some, this habit will be quite challenging to put into practice. But give it a try.

Be intentional with the stories you choose to shape your heart. Look for stories that cause you to see our broken world for what it is and look for stories that inspire you to be a person of hope.  Look for stories that cause you to see the beauty of God in all that he has made.

Decide on how many hours you will give yourself to consuming media. Then track it. This exercise will help you be selective.

If you are looking for suggestions, I would recommend this article to start. The 15 Best Films About Faith from the 2010s.

Weekly Habit #1 - One Hour Conversation with a Friend

One of the topics I discuss when doing pre-marital counseling is the topic of conversation. It is always interesting to observe the different ways men and women approach conversation.

Men tend to feel that conversation requires a destination. In other words, there must be a purpose or a goal or a desired end to the conversation. Otherwise, why even bother talking?

But here is what women tend to understand about conversation. Conversation does not require a destination.  Instead, it is an essential ingredient to relationship. As Mortimer Adler put it: “Without communication, there can be no community…That is why conversation, discussion, or talk is the most important form of speaking or listening.”

We were made for relationship. We were made for friendship. It is part of what it means to be created in the image of God.  God is Triune. God is three persons and yet one. For all of eternity, God has existed in perfect community – friendship.

The first time we discover that something is “not good” in God’s creation is when Adam was alone. There was no one found who was suitable for him. That is when God made Eve and brought him to Adam. Friendship. Relationship. 

And yet, there are so many things in our isolated culture that values individualism that make it difficult to build the kinds of relationships we desperately need. We are busy. We are distracted.  We have been fooled into thinking that the number of “friends” and “likes” we have on Facebook is equivalent to the number of true friends we have in life. 

And yet, truth be told, we remain unknown, lonely, and isolated. This is to our detriment.  Studies have shown that loneliness reduces life expectancy to the tune of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Without relationship we have no one to bring to the light our struggles and temptations, leaving us vulnerable to the things that easily tempt us. 

The bottom line is this. We need genuine friendship, and this requires conversation. Because this level of relationship is uncommon to us and even counter cultural, we need to be intentional about it. Hence, WEEKLY HABIT #1 – One Hour Conversation with a Friend.

Make this part of your weekly routine. Schedule for it. 

Ask someone to consider meeting with you weekly just to catch up. You can either sit down with someone “eyeball to eyeball.”  Or you can do an activity together, and during the activity you can talk. 

Make it a goal to share something with that person that gets past the surface and into your heart.  Express interest in the other person and what is happening in their life. 

Try it for a month! You will be the better for it.

Daily Habit #4 – Scripture Before Phone

Justin Earley is encouraging us to read Scripture first thing in the day before we do anything else.  At the very least, do this before checking your phone or looking at your emails or scrolling social media or watching the news.

Why?

It is because all these things have a way of shaping how we view ourselves – our identity.

Turning to Scripture before scrolling through my emails reminds me that I am loved by God before I do anything. My emails are calling me to perform and to earn my value in this world.  God’s Word is reminding me that in Christ I am loved.

Turning to Scripture before consuming the news, I am reminded that no matter how bad things seem to be, we serve a God who is in control. This brings me peace even when things seem to be rather chaotic.

Turning to Scripture before getting caught up on social media, I am reminded that I don’t have to keep up with appearances and trying to impress others. Instead, I can be authentic and transparent, and God is at work in my difficulties.

What is the biggest temptation for you? Is it email? Is it news? Is it social media? Consider why you might be drawn to those things first thing in the morning.

I really like the way Justin Earley talks about the value of reading Scripture before we start consuming these various forms of media. This is not just an encouragement to read your Bible.  Instead, it is a reminder of the ways our habits, how we start our day, does indeed shape our outlook on life.

Earley makes this point by saying: “Once we know who we are in God, we can turn to the world to offer love. But when we don’t, we will turn to the world looking for love. That makes all the difference.”

So…if it is not your habit to begin your day with Scripture, give it a try.

  1. Find a quiet space and make it “your space.”
  2. If you need a place to start, start with the Psalms. Or, start reading through the Gospel of John. Go at your own pace.
  3. Pray back to God what it is you are hearing him say to you through his Word.

Allow God’s Word to shape your identity that puts you in a position to love those around you.

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