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Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Spiritual Formation Moment From Dan Wilt

Shut The Door On Your Device
A Spiritual Formation Moment

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me....

John 10:27

My phone usually sits across the bedroom from me while I sleep. 

These days, I often keep it in another room other than our bedroom at night, at my wife's request. But I can't only blame her for the forced device dismissal from our sacred space. 

I might lean toward believing all that hooey about the health risks of mobile phones – you know, those murky reports about phones emitting a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation that can be absorbed by body tissues located near the phone? You know, that nonsense.

But I'm not actually sure that radiation is the most dangerous thing about my beloved device. It's what it whispers to me, every single morning of my life, since it has come to live in our house.

No sooner have I woken up than I hear that familiar, excited whisper emanating from my gadget wherever it may be. Even if it is set nightly to "Do Not Disturb," the voice cuts through.

"Good morning, Dan. Guess what? While you were asleep emails came in from all the worlds you care about. Work emails, friend emails, and other emails you've subscribed to are waiting for you to open them. Don't you want to be in the know, as soon as you possibly can today? Things have been going on, open your apps!

Also, texts! I have random texts for you that people decided to send after your crazy 9:30 pm bedtime (and by the way, what's this bad habit you've gotten into where you aren't you looking at me every night for an hour before you go to bed? We need to break that little cycle; I have pretty lights to emit into your eyes!).

And there's more! Our magical friend the Internet has been absolutely abuzz with activity while you slept! News, commentary, opinions galore, and uber-cute pictures of little piglets prancing around in tutus – they're all awaiting your presence to see them, read them, watch them, and hear what they have to say."

And the battle for who will get my eyes and ears first at every sunrise begins.

C.S. Lewis said something about the listening battle we all face each day, before the dawn of mobile phones, and offered a suggestion as to how to handle it. 

“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”

A mentor of mine, John Wimber, once said, "You can't watch TV all the time and expect to hear the voice of God." With Lewis and Wimber's wisdom circling around me, I've come to a resolve.

My device is dangerous, every morning of my life.

In fact, what I do in light of that blood-red revelation may be one of the greatest acts of spiritual resistance against the powers of the age that you or I could perform today.

Here it is:

I don't allow my phone deliver to me all those outside voices, or to provide a trigger point for all my inner voices to become active, first.

I don't look at any messages from the outside world on my phone until after I have worked out, sat in stillness with Jesus, journaled, read something enriching and edifying, and done my focusing, morning examen.

In fact, on occasion, I even power down my phone. Literally (I know this is hard to believe), I turn. it. off.

The whispering stops as I learn to handle the informative power of my phone, rather than the informative power of my phone handling me. A new virtue emerges in the place of my first order impulse, as I learn to face down my fomo (fear-of-missing-out) and not open those apps.

And my heart is quieter, more focused, more attentive to the voice of my Shepherd, more ready to be present to the cultures in which I will represent Jesus, when I succeed on this battleground every morning.

A Prayer

Spirit of God, the wild animals brought to my door by my phone each morning are attractive to me, I confess. I can rationalize listening to them, but in reality my tech impulse and addiction have taken over. I want to play with those wild animals, interact with them, or at least face them out of sheer curiosity to see if their messages all contain happy thoughts and hopes realized, or burdens to bear. But I choose to keep the door closed on my phone, at least today and tomorrow, until you gain the best of my morning attention once again. You've only given me one life to live, and waiting an hour or two to be in the know is worth re-learning the virtue of starting my morning hearing Your voice before all the others.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Summer Sabbath- Week 1 Reading and Reflection- You Are My Wonderful Child

Summer Sabbath Devotional 2013 - Linda Foster
Intro to this summer’s devotional: This year’s Summer Sabbath devotional, I want to take a very simple approach. We all have so much to read and look at during the day. I don’t want this to be one more thing that you only have a chance to glance at because it is just one more thing grabbing your time. To this end, I want to keep it short and simple, but my prayer is that it would still have an impact on your spirit and heart as you quiet your life to hear God. We have focused on two main questions regarding scripture ‘what is this scripture saying to me?’ and ‘by the grace of God, how am I going to respond?’ So I will look at the scripture verses in light of these questions every week.
“You are my wonderful child whom I love. You make me very glad.” Mark 1:11 To be a true and serious follower of Jesus, I need to wrestle with two questions.
  1. 1.    Who do I say God is?
  2. 2.    And who do I say God says I am?
How I answer these two questions really form the foundation of my identity as I live and breathe it daily.   So looking again at Mark 1:11, what is God saying here and what am I going to do about it? This verse in Mark makes clear who God says I am. When God looks at you and me, as His believing children, He sees us, not as our broken selves, but as we are in Jesus Christ.  God looks at us and says, you are my dear, dear child, I love you, and you delight my heart. He sees us through the eyes of Jesus’ sacrifice. It is like seeing a child in rags and filth, but in your mind and heart all you can see it that child fully as they were meant to be: clean, innocent and happy. So what God says here in this verse is pretty clear. But is His the only True voice in my heart? Do the things I say to myself about myself line up with that? Do I agree with who God says I am? For me, the answers are:
  • No.
  • No.
  • No, not really.
God is saying He claims me as His child; he loves me with a deeper, purer love than I have for my own children. God is saying He adores me, that I bring joy to His heart. Hopefully, you are farther down this road than I am, but for me, this is hard to fully grasp, let alone live it out. But too many things compete in my heart for me to fully believe this truth. I want the approval of others, not just God. Then there are the broken ways I see myself, seeing all the ways I constantly fall short of who God says I am. And possibly worst of all are the things I say to myself about myself that contradict God’s word. So if this is what God is saying to me through His word, what by His grace am I going to do about it? I want to agree with God. I want to line up my heart and mind with His. So I am going to pray daily, and more than daily, as often as it comes to mind and heart. I am going to pray that I would have His grace to see this ‘too good to be true, can’t comprehend, blows my mind, would change my life if I could grasp’ truth. I am going to pray it until I can believe it with more than just my mind. I am going to pray it until the truth of it begins to impact my life and the life of those I touch. I am going to pray it until the cows come home. Until the day that I can say and know without a doubt that I am His beloved child whom He loves completely and without reservation, and that seeing me God feels joy.