"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!'"
June 19, 2019
I saw a post that someone shared on Facebook that read, "I respond to text messages in my head. Sometimes weeks go by before I realize that I didn't respond in real life." Funny, right?! But there is so much truth to this statement!
I have recently had conversations with Jon and my sister regarding how message overload has affected our society. We are so inundated with constant messages, to the point, that people no longer truly pay attention or respond.
Driving down the highway, we see advertisements on one billboard after another. Most stores have some type of signage out front or signs in the windows letting consumers know what their sales are. Almost daily we receive some type of advertisement or flyer in the mail. When we shop, we are asked for our email address so advertising can be sent to us. We are having our yard fertilized and treated this summer and each time the company comes out, they stick one of their advertising signs in our front yard. Anytime there is an election, you see signs everywhere you look from those running for office.
Doctors' offices now communicate with us online with test results, appointment reminders, etc.
Instead of communicating through conversation, people now prefer to make plans or schedule events online. Gone are the days of writing letters; and few people send cards anymore. Christmas cards are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, people just post a "Merry Christmas" message on Facebook.
On top of all of this, everyone has cell phones nowadays and keep them readily in hand. We don't want to miss any messages or texts that may be sent our way. Emails are regularly checked. So anytime our phone dings, we immediately check to see who is contacting us; whether it be in the middle of conversations, during church, while eating a meal with loved ones, during work, while out with friends, in the middle of family gatherings, when driving (even though we know it's dangerous and we shouldn't do so!), during times of worship and while having devotions, etc. I think in many ways, we've forgotten how to sit down and enjoy time visiting with one another, uninterrupted. My goodness, something may have happened on Facebook that we'll miss if we don't check it every few minutes!
We have message overload!! It has got to the point where we are so bombarded everywhere we go, everywhere we look, and on our own electronic devices with constant messages; so that they no longer really have any significance and people forget or feel no need to respond.
Jon recently went into a fast food sandwich place that had a sign on the front door saying that their oven wasn't working so they wouldn't be able to serve hot sandwiches. He hadn't paid attention to the sign himself, and noticed that everyone who came in while he was there hadn't read the sign. The guy working there had to tell every single person what the sign in the window had said; and some left without ordering food. He and his co-worker were talking about the fact that we are so overloaded with advertising that people no longer take the time to pay attention to what signs say.
I planned an event a while back and had posted a message asking if anyone could volunteer to set up tables due to Jon's back hurting. It took two days for anyone to respond to the message about helping with the tables. I was beginning to think that no one was going to help. I also posted a message asking for people to please sign up for what food they would bring. Three people answered shortly thereafter..... then nothing. I thought, "Okay! This is not going to be nearly enough food, if this is all that is going to be brought; which means I need to cook a lot more myself!" I get it! I am a planner and I want to have all of my ducks in a row and know that there will be more than enough food. It doesn't have to be perfect, but I don't like waiting until the last minute. Not everyone else is like that. Finally, I posted another message asking people to please respond; which they did that time.
I have failed to reply to emails or messages, due to busyness or thinking that I had when I had never actually responded; or perhaps I failed to hit "send". Perhaps I'm in the middle of something at the time and think about what my answer will be, but never actually send it. I think everyone does that from time to time. But I really think the source of the issue is our society being so heavily overloaded and bombarded with constant visual messaging -- whether it be through technology or advertisement.
In many ways, this can be applied spiritually. We become so overwhelmed with the busyness of life and everything going on and being pulled in so many different directions that we "think" we're spending time with Jesus and responding to Him, but then realize, "Oh! I responded in my head, but didn't in real life!" We have the best of intentions, but don't always follow through.
We may read the verse of the day on the Bible app on our phone, but never take the time to really sit down and read God's Word and meditate on it. We pray "on the go", but never take time to really stop what we're doing (putting our phone and iPads aside!) and communicate with Jesus and quietly sit and listen to what He has to say to us.
If we want to live the life of an overcomer and truly have the power to resist temptation, we have to have God's Word firmly in our heart.
Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You."
The only way that we can hide God's Word in our heart is by reading and meditating upon it. And we can't truly do so if we are on Facebook, responding to texts, reading messages, checking emails, have the TV or radio on, etc. We have to find that private place, our prayer closet, and shut ourselves in with God and put everything else aside for that moment of time.
Matthew 6:6 says, "But whenever you pray, go into your innermost chamber and be alone with Father God, praying to Him in secret."
Jon and I both enjoy having alone time sometimes. Don't get me wrong, we thoroughly enjoy each other's company and spending time together; but we also like having the occasional time to ourself. It's not time where we go off and do things with others, although we do once in a while. But it's our own private time where we can just be all by ourself and not have to talk to anyone; we can do whatever we want -- whether it be watching sci-fi shows for Jon or sewing or reading for me. We don't work during that time; but we relax and take a few hours to recharge and enjoy the quiet or nap or whatever we choose to do. Afterwards, we're excited to be with each other and ready to be around other people. That is important time for us both, and we each realize that about ourself and about one another.
When we take the time to be alone with God, it's a time that we recharge and soak in His presence and hear what He has to say to us. We need that in order to be fully effective in His kingdom and in the lives of those around us.
During the years of Jesus' ministry, He often would go to the mountain all by Himself to pray to the Father. He was around crowds and the disciples and family and friends all the time. But He recognized the importance of taking time to spend with His Father, without anyone else being there with Him. He gave us that example to follow.
So in the crazy, busy world where social media is so prevalent and we are inundated constantly with calls, texts, messaging, emails, advertising, etc...... we can't allow that to become more important to us than taking the time to put all of that aside and spend with Jesus.
I first got to know Loretta in church. I was getting to know a lot of people there, too. I enjoyed visiting with Loretta more, but it was hard to get to know her well when we were often interrupted, and there were many other conversations going on at the same time.
I talked with Loretta often. At first, I was able to join conversations with her and others (her sister, for example), and simply listen in. I was able to get to know a little about her that way. But all those things she and her sister knew about each other already never came up, so I never learned those things. In fact, I was missing out on all the most basic things about Loretta that way. So I started asking her questions, and sharing myself with her at the same time.
We didn't really get to know each other till we sat down to visit together with just the two of us. We were able to share more about ourselves that we didn't want to share with everyone else. We could hear each other well, and clearly. We were able to talk for long enough to get deeper into a topic than we could when we were just about to start the service or leave for home.
I'm sure Loretta made it very clear: we have to have one-on-one time with God. Without it, we just can't get to know Him as well as we should. We can't simply join in a group, and can't passively listen in. We have to converse with God by ourselves and for ourselves.
Loaded Baked Potato Salad
8 potatoes, cubed (half peeled or half with skin)
2 teaspoons salt
6 slices bacon, diced and crisply cooked
6 green onions
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
16 ounces sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
Cube and boil potatoes with salt; drain. Crumble bacon and slice onions (including tops). Combine sour cream, pepper, and mayonnaise; add to potatoes. Add bacon, onions, and cheese (reserve some of each for the top). Mix with potatoes. Pour into a baking dish. Top with reserved cheese, onions, and bacon. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until cheese melts.
Jon and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this week. Overall, we have had an extremely blessed life and have got to experience things that neither of us dreamed possible. God has been a good, good Father! I can't wait to see what lies ahead for us.
There will be many chapters in your life.
Don't get lost in the one you are in now. - tobymac#speaklife
We love you!
Loretta & Jon