THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

November 20, 2013

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I have to be honest: there is something that has been bothering me so this may come off as being me on my soapbox or ranting. Perhaps this is more of a commentary to get you to think. But I believe that it has become a real issue; and that is the obsession with cell phones, iPads, and Facebook.

People have become so dependent and consumed by these things that they have taken over their life, in so many ways. For instance, when is the last time you had dinner with someone and everyone was focused on enjoying the people they were with, with no cell phones being used -- no texting, no answered calls, no checking Facebook, no posting comments or pictures on Facebook, etc? That is a rarity nowadays.

I had an acquaintance suggest that she was considering putting a basket by her front door and everyone would have to put their cell phones in it when they come to her house to visit; that way everyone would have to focus on conversation and each other, instead of their phones. I'm not sure that's a bad idea! Of course, fewer people would probably want to come visit if I did that; and probably wouldn't be too happy with me if I confiscated their phone when they came in.

What bothers me even more than that is people posting on Facebook and texting during church. Are we so dependent and obsessed with posting comments or having conversations through texting that we can't give God a couple of uninterrupted hours of our time? Comments will be made about how great the worship is or how great the altar service and I'm thinking, "Why are you on Facebook posting instead of participating and seeing what God wants to do in your life and what He has for you?!" And most times I'd guess that the texting or checking emails is not because of a life-threatening or "on call" work situation. Our lives are consumed by wanting to give and receive information immediately and not waiting.

In my opinion, not only is it disrespectful to God when we are on our phones, iPads, and Facebook during church, but it's disrespectful to the pastor, worship leader, or Sunday School teacher. They have prepared to lead the congregation in worship, teaching, or preaching yet there are those who are distracted and not paying attention; and no, we aren't really focusing and listening if we're on our electronic device.

One thing Jon and I noticed when we were in Celle, Germany was that you never saw anyone walking around or eating dinner with their cell phones out. Dinner was a time of socialization and relaxation and you would see people conversing with one another and enjoying time together. When I was out and about during the day, walking around the old town center, I don't remember ever seeing people walking around texting or on their phone. Everything seemed to move at a slower pace and the people seemed less stressed and more relaxed. Jon and I both noticed the lack of public use of cell phones while we were there.

Can you imagine if Jesus had of come in our day and time? Imagine, as He was teaching and performing miracles His disciples on their cell phones taking pictures and posting to Facebook? Would they have been posting, "Great word of teaching from the Messiah today!" As they set down to dinner would they have been setting there texting their wives, or taking pictures of their meal and posting on Facebook, or answering phone calls: "Hold on there a minute, Jesus, I have to take this call!" Would they have been playing online games on their phones or iPads while they were all sitting around eating or visiting? If so, I imagine they would have missed out on a lot of what Jesus was teaching and doing.

Hmm.... just a thought.... but if Jesus had been teaching and saw people taking His picture to post online or texting, I wonder what His reaction would have been? Would He have reacted as He did with the moneychangers in the temple? Would He say, "That's okay! What you have to post or text to your friends is much more important that what I have to say! Answering that phone call while we're in the middle of a conversation is fine -- I can wait -- go ahead, while I sit here and you leave our conversation to talk to someone that must be much more important than Me." Would Jesus give you thumbs up and say, "It's okay. I know you can multitask and listen to Me while you're checking Facebook and texting."

A while back I was listening to a minister speak about this subject. A couple examples he gave with the obsession people have with their phones were these: He was sitting in a restaurant eating and at the table next to him were four people eating together; all on their cell phones texting. His tongue-in-cheek observation was -- perhaps they were sitting there texting each other! The second example was this: He was at a funeral recently and the lady who had been asked to sing was sitting on the platform of the church. In the middle of the funeral her cell phone rang -- and she answered and sat up there having a conversation with the person on the other end. We read that and think, "Oh that's extreme! I would never do that!" But it shows how desensitized we've become as a whole.

I honestly admit that many times Facebook sucks up a lot of my time. And I admit that it's become an obsession for me. The commandment to not put other gods before the one true God comes to mind. No, I don't bow down and worship Facebook, or my iPad, or my cell phone, or my laptop. But the amount of time I spend on those things consumes much more of my day that anything spiritual. In fact, I will check Facebook for new post or check my email before I even think to read my Bible or pray. So am I putting those things as priority in my life before God? I admit that most days I'm more interested in what my "friends" have to say on Facebook than what God may want to speak to my heart. So yeah, perhaps I have allowed those things to become idols to me.

There are so many ways that our time and attention can be wasted. Jon and I generally turn the TV on each evening and spend 4-5 hours sitting there watching it, even when there isn't anything on it that we want to see. And truthfully, a lot of the programming nowadays really isn't worth taking up our time and is not something we'd watch if we could physically see Jesus sitting in the room with us. Jon and I have said that we're going to start taking at least one night a week where we turn the TV off and don't watch it at all. And we can do it, because when we go to Lampe we never turn on a TV or watch a movie. But it's not something we've achieved yet or made a habit. It's so easy to get in a rut and become complacent, and watch programming that has language or lifestyles that are ungodly; little by little, watching shows that we know we really shouldn't be watching.

I've had to stop and take inventory of myself. Perhaps it's something we each should do. If we are feeling spiritually dry or empty or not as strong in our relationship with God as we once was, what's the reason? If our relationship with our family and friends isn't as strong as it once were, what's the reason? Have we become so distracted by "things" that they take up more of our time and attention than God or our family does? Have we allowed Facebook, our cell phones, our iPads, our computers, our TV to become gods to us, where they have priority over God and family? Do we ever sit down and have uninterrupted conversations with our family and friends, without having some type of electronic device in our hand? Do we go to church and give God our full attention?

I know that I need to make some changes in my life and get priorities in order and allow God and people to be my focus. I'm not saying I'm giving up Facebook, TV, my cell phone, laptop, or iPad.... but they need to be used in the proper perspective. I don't want any of those things to be idols in my life. I desire that my relationship with God, family, and friends be my priority.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Technology is pretty great. With my phone, I can check the weather forecast, look up the meaning or spelling of a word, find historical information, call people, or just send a message. But it's also a leash for me. My employer's customers can contact me any time they want. They call or leave messages insisting on responses day and night.

It's interesting how something that seems so great can tie us down.

ON THE MENEWE:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

1 2/3 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups chocolate chips

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup melted butter

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl mix together all wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour mixture into a greased 10x14 sheet pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

My sister and I were painting my niece's nursery for her. She is expecting a baby girl in January -- Jovie Marie. Janee' picked up her 4-year old, Jax, at pre-K that afternoon and he wanted to help us paint. So Grandma Janie gave him a paint brush and showed him how to dip the tip in the paint bucket and was letting him paint pictures on the wall that we hadn't yet painted. Janie was cutting in the corners and around the ceiling and floor, while I was using the roller. Jax painted flowers on the wall and a picture of his mama. In another area he painted a picture of himself. We asked, "Now you know that we're going to have to paint over it, don't you?" Sure! I painted every other area and waited until last to paint over his artwork. When I got to the picture of him I asked, "Jax, is it okay if I paint over your picture?" Sure! He was busy doing other things and happened to look up about the time I got finished. "Aunt 'Retta, what are you doing? Why did you paint on top of my picture?" I quickly figure out we had a communication issue going on! When I said "over the picture", Jax thought I meant up above the picture, not on top of it. Jax's daddy painted a mural on his bedroom wall a while back, and I'm sure Jax thought he was doing the same for his baby sister!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

It's hard to listen while you're planning something you think needs to be said. - unknown

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org