Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Are SmartPhones producing Stupid People?



         Recently I have gotten into a grove of eating right and exercising more. I am committed to walking 5 miles a day and riding my bicycle at least once a week. It's been over a month now that I have done this and I've made some interesting observations of myself and others and I guess the culture as a whole. 

 Observation #1 Do I really need to take my cellphone with me everywhere I go? I tend to take it everywhere just in case.  I don't need to talk to others, text them or even use a fancy gps app, but yet my habit is "just in case" someone calls or I need others or they need me I better take it along. I believe I'm addicted! Are you? 

  Observation #2. Am I that important that I need to be accessed on my smartphone all day long?  Answer: NO.  The more accessible I am to others and they are to me the less I seem to get done anyway and the more distracted I can get from life in front of me.  

Observation #3 People use their smartphones everywhere like in Grocery stores, in restaurants, at airports and unfortunately while driving in their cars. Do you?  For those who say no, then good for you, but for the majority of Americans that is not the case. 

Other Examples:  A week ago I was in a high school speaking to the principal when I observed an interesting encounter. An 18 yr old girl who had her cellphone taken away during class ( because using it is forbidden )  choose to have her cellphone back and drop out of school verses having her relative pick up her smartphone after school or the next day.  I guess in her world everything precious revolved around that phone. She weighed out the value between immediate cellphone returned or finishing high school.  The cellphone won her heart over finishing her senior year and graduating. Which was smarter, the phone or the girl? 

A week earlier when I was landing on the runway in Boston I observed an entire plane of people getting out there phones to make calls. It was as if all the addicts at once were pulling out their phones and taking a hit or shot to get their fix. I know I'm not the only one who has a smartphone issue, but I am glad I am starting to see more then ever all it's negative impact on the culture and my own life. 

I read this article in the Wall Street journal the other day and here is one quote. " More than 80 percent of Americans use smart phones, but apparently they compromise our sleep, reduce our social awareness, and make us stupid."  I must admit I agree with that quote. I remember when I use to memorize more numbers and things, but with a Smartphone it can remember it for me which in turn causes me to have to do less with my own smart brain. 

For years I have tried to get my wife to have a cellphone. She has used them on occasion, but she has not had one and is rarely accessible by one. I do believe she is smarter for it in more ways then I ever realized.  She reads more, she is more focused, she is less distracted and she is accessible by our home phone or through other people in our family.  She's a Smartwife while I the husband posses the smartphone.  

Drive thru's now have posted signs that read like this "do not use cellphones while in the drive thru". As well as bank lobby's also have the same signs among other places. Using your cellphone in public places slows the lines down and people talk on them instead of being focused on ordering food, banking, etc. If you really think about it, using a cellphone is usually rude in public places and it's the result of trying to do multiple things at the same time. 

About 9 years ago before the smartphone revolution stormed our culture I was at a luncheon with some businessmen. One of them mentioned that when 12 year olds had cellphone he realized it was time to dump his. I did not get it then, but I get it now. Businessmen get more done with less distractions and with more focus. So when more people have access to calling more people then a business persons phone was typically gonna ring more. Several smart friends I've known over the years have disciplined themselves to realize they could do more if they could be accessed less. Some changed their habits and others dumped the phones to a emergency phone only for the glove box. 

     Our culture and the American people have come to expect immediate results in everything and that also includes access to each other's lives.  But there was a day when we would leave a message and maybe wait a day or two or longer to get a return call. 

Just because one device can do it all from knowing the weather to a instant flashlight does not mean everyone needs one. Maybe if we dumped the smartphones we would all spend more time with the people around us, get more done and be more focused and be smarter for it. 

Does the average smartphone user put limits on themselves and their phones? Probably not!  People now think less and focus less. While our phones are getting smarter,  the people are being dummied down. Have you ever walked into a business to buy something or to get served only to discover the employee was on their personal cellphone texting or starring at there smartphone with a lost in space glare? 

 I still have my smartphone, but I am coming to realize its time for me to be smarter about how and when I use it. I certainly do not want to be out witted by a stupid mindless device. Do You? 



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

1500 @ Your Door!

What do you do with 1500 people at your front door? 

"As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was". (Mark 1:29-34 NIV)

"The whole town gathered at the door." This sentence might sound like a figure of speech, but it's actually a fact. First we need to think about what happened in town before they got to the house and we need to ask ourselves what was the town like. In 2000 I was in that ancient town of Capernaum and it is right off the shore of the sea and now it's a tourist site of ruins. Back then however,  it was a small fishing village and estimates say it has a population of about 1500 people. 

     In our county in Florida there is a small town between county lines in the middle of nowhere as some folks say. It's rural, depressed in economy and  It has a store and a gas station and not a whole lot more then that. However it has about 1700 residents that call it home. When something happens in a small town of 1500 -1700 news of it travels fast. So when Mark's gospel says the whole town gathered at the door that must have been some sight to see.  

     When I was in a small African village this past Feb 2013 in Senegal West Africa I saw a small village show up for an outdoor movie.  What started off as maybe 50 people ended up well over 300 people. In just a few short hours news of something different or unexpected must have traveled fast. We had been digging a well all day and then news traveled that we were going to show a film that night.   

   There are several things about this historic encounter I enjoy about Jesus and his followers. First is they went to the Synagogue. This implies they had their priorities in line with God's concept of a day of rest and worship. The miracles did not start flowing in this village until the Sabbath day and and that evening after worship. This speaks to my spirit that we need a day of rest with God's people and when we rest and worship and listen to God's Word our faith to receive God's grace is quickened.  It was after the teaching of Jesus with His Authority of Scripture that we see one miracle after another.   The miracles went from Church to home and home to village. I presume the 1500 people were not in the synagogue on the Sabbath evening service. When I was in those ruins I would estimate enough room for maybe 200 maximum. 

      The fishing village of Capernaum had a kairos Day. The kingdom of God was at hand in the worship service, then the anointing of the moment flowed to the home of Simon and Andrew and by the time the rest of the town of 1500 heard about what happened at church they found our Savior and his disciples at home probably trying to have a nice relaxing meal.    

In this story I see how Jesus did not tell them to go away because he didn't eat dinner yet, but rather he began to minister grace, hope and mercy from the Father into as many lives as he could possible touch. And this 1500 at the door happened after sunset in the dark with maybe some good moonlight.   In this encounter I don't see the disciples praying and healing people with Jesus, but I envision them watching Jesus , observing and possibly being the crowd control folks as they (like the entire town)  were probably as bewildered with Jesus and the constant flow of miracles as anyone. So if 1500 people showed up with diseases and demons after dark for help I can only imagine it was a long night. The crowd eventually disappeared and Jesus seems to have gotten a little sleep. However, scripture tells us before Sunrise he slipped away alone to pray.  

What a day in Capernaum!! It stated in the outflow from the day of rest and worship and attracted the whole town to one door. 

After Jesus left that town I wonder how many were in synagogue the next Sabbath seeking God with a renewed appreciation of grace.  The greatest lesson I believe was likely for those disciples who witnessed something they later were to do themselves in years to come.  

The lesson for me is to go with the flow when God shows up. In summary I see an evening of worship on the beginning of a Friday night sabbath ( where a few unexpected things happened ) followed by a relaxed dinner in a home before some sleep. However, when arriving at the home for dinner someone is sick and grace flows again. Followed by a nice meal and fellowship before an unexpected knock at the door comes. After ministry at the door starts it just seems it never ended until maybe 4 or 5 hours later when the crowd drifts off to get some rest and Jesus finally crashes for maybe 3 or 4 hours.  Are we willing to let God redirect our plans like God redirected theirs? 1500 at the door is certainly a kairos moment of kingdom encounter that still speaks to hearts today including mine. 

   


Monday, October 21, 2013

Submit!

Get Real
Get Aligned 
Get Going 


Our vision statement is simple, but it's packed with purpose, scripture and challenge. 6 words and  3 assignments! Starting with a spiritual encounter and ending with a sense of continuing commission.  Along the way to fulfilling any vision statement is what every truly born again believer will face and it's called resistance. Sometimes the resistance is within and other times the resistance is external, but indeed resistance. The book of James is filled with lessons on how to overcome those urges and walls of resistance that attempt to shut down the grace of God desiring to keep flowing through us to others. 

So let's unpack this short scripture to bring light to our daily lives.  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV).  The prior verses mention the desires, urges and challenges that can come up in our daily lives, but eventually James brings us to this verses of how to be an overcomer. The first word is key to the entire Word of God. Submit !!!!   Submission to God is always a formula for success. When Jonah resisted submission he ended up getting thrown overboard. When Saul resisted God's mighty move in the book of acts he was eventually struck down on the road to Damascus. Resisting God is not a good formula, but submitting to God is excellent advice. 

          When people are hooked on any addiction they are submitting to it and resisting God. When folks know what they ought to do and do it not, the scriptures reveal that to them it is sin. So the key to success always is submitting to God first and "with His power" then they are able to resist the devil and he will flee from us. Sometimes we get it backwards even though with good intent and then we still find we are powerless to overcome. If we resist first before submitting to God we may not be able to overcome, but the promise here today is submit and resist and then comes the fleeing of the devil. 

Keep submitted and you shall succeed. 

BlessinGet Real
Get Aligned 
Get Going 


Our vision statement is simple, but it's packed with purpose, scripture and challenge. 6 words and  3 assignments! Starting with a spiritual encounter and ending with a sense of continuing commission.  Along the way to fulfilling any vision statement is what every truly born again believer will face and it's called resistance. Sometimes the resistance is within and other times the resistance is external, but indeed resistance. The book of James is filled with lessons on how to overcome those urges and walls of resistance that attempt to shut down the grace of God desiring to flow through us to others. 

So let's unpack this short scripture to bring light to our daily lives.  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV).  The prior verses mention the desires, urges and challenges that can come up in our daily lives, but eventually James brings us to this verses of how to be an overcomer. The first word is key to the entire Word of God. Submit !!!!   Submission to God is always a formula for success. When Jonah resisted submission he ended up getting thrown overboard. When Saul resisted God's mighty move in the book of acts he was eventually struck down on the road to Damascus. Resisting God is not a good formula, but submitting to God is excellent advice. 

          When people are hooked on any addiction they resist God. When folks know what they ought to do and do it not, the scriptures reveal that to them it is sin. So the key to success always is submitting to God first and "with His power" then made available we can resist the devil and he will flee from us. Sometimes we get it backwards even though with good intent and then we still find we are powerless to overcome. If we resist first before submitting to God we may not be able to overcome, but the promise here today is submit and resist and then comes the fleeing of the devil. 

Keep submitted and you shall succeed. 

Blessings to you! Lgs to you! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BURDENED

Burdened
I am a pastor and have been my entire married life in one role or another. 
I started in 1989 and now it is 2013. I started as a youth pastor in FL and now 
I am a senior Pastor in Florida. Things have changed. When I started Christians attended church services and functions as their regular routine to be with other believers, now if it fits into their agenda they will try to make it. When I started if there was a missionary, special guest or revival services people showed up excited, expecting , now you have to convince people why they should change their schedule for something beyond the regular services. When I started people wanted to pray and enjoyed praying; now very few will pray with others and hardly any tears are ever shed.
   When I started drug addicts were those who purchased them illegally from the drug dealers, now drug addicts are those hooked from their doctor’s prescriptions. When I started teenagers played outside, liked to go do stuff with the youth group and now if they have nothing better to do they might attend a youth function. When I started out
children and teens came with their parents, now grandparents try to bring their grandchildren if their parents will let them. When I started destroying your secular rock and roll records and cassettes was a sign of coming out of the world, not following the latest secular groups is considered the cool thing to do in the world.
      When I started people brought their bibles to church, now they leave them home. 
When I started people enjoyed small groups, now many avoid them. When I started
accountability meant letting someone know why you would not be at church, now accountabilty is none of your business. When I started sex outside of marriage was sin, now living with anyone is acceptable. When I started homosexuality was a shameful way to live, not it’s just another way to live. The culture has shifted, the church in American has 
declined but the Hope of Good News remains the same, but I am burdened.
I hope you identify more with how it was then how it is. If so, Praise the Lord, if not, then I'm burdened for you. I am burdened for our country, our culture and our churches.
I am burdened for our children, young parents and our communities. We need each other, we need to pray, we need we to repent and we need revival.
"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will healtheir land." 2 Chronicles 7:14