Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Taming the Social Media Monster {Distractions, Part 2}

Have you prayed about recognizing any distractions that are negatively impacting your spiritual life? If not, please read THIS POST and then come back.

(Note: Though this post primarily addresses social media, you may be distracted by something entirely different: TV, phone/computer games, novels, constant busyness, etc. This is for you, too!)

For several months I sensed something was off. I felt spiritually blah. My heart felt dull. My prayer life, once a source of deep joy and satisfaction, was rote. And brief. And I truly didn’t want it to be that way.

Thank God for January and the discipline of fasting. Only this year—big surprise—it felt like my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to fast. But out of obedience to the Lord and to support my church and pastor, I committed to fast.

Then I sensed a pull to give up social media in addition to my regular fast. For 21 days. I couldn’t figure out how to do that because I have a Facebook ministry page where I post daily prayers. And I always engage with the precious women there. But in the end I realized I had to obey the Lord no matter the cost.

Are we willing to obey the Lord regardless of the cost?

Community is good. We need each other. Being socially engaged is a good thing, but at what cost? Where do we draw the line? Because the crushing demands of social media availability, etiquette, responding and engaging will eat us alive if we’re not wise and completely led by the Holy Spirit.

The truth is daily choices steer our lives.

With that in mind, here are 7 Keys To Tame the Social Media Monster:

1. Take time to prayerfully evaluate your social media life. Include a time of prayer (and even fasting!) as you consider your schedule, what God may be requiring of you, and what you can realistically balance. Be brutally honest. Is God first? I dare you to check your computer history and add up time spent on social media. Shocked? Then move to step two.

2. Acknowledge there might be an issue and that your social media choices have probably interfered with your spiritual life. Social media is like a strong rip current. We swim out and before we know it we’re hundreds of yards from our beach towel on shore. Until we look up, we don’t realize how far we’ve coasted, simply because we allowed ourselves to be carried with the current.

3. Take Charge of Your Time - Just being aware of the need to establish wise time boundaries is a huge step forward. We want to honor God with our lives and be wise stewards of the time He has entrusted to us. Schedule prudent boundaries and ask God for grace to stick to them. Consider choosing only one social media avenue in which to engage (or at least one daily). Consider joining forces with a like-minded friend for accountability.

4. Choose to Put Your Spiritual Life First, No Matter the Cost – Rearranging priorities is not easy, but it’s very doable. And it’s always a choice. Putting God first means He is the first thing you think about in the morning—not Facebook. This means establishing and protecting our regular time for Bible reading, worship, and prayer. Every. Single. Day. Even if that means all our Facebook friends have to wait to hear our exciting news.

5. Understand Your Purpose – (1)To obey God and please Him, not people. Galatians 1:10  (2)To know Him more, Philippians 3:8-9 not know more about what everyone else in the world is doing. (3) To be about the Father’s business Luke 2:49.

6. Schedule Regular BreaksJesus often broke away and went up into the hills to pray. We would be wise to do the same by taking regular breaks from life’s modern expectations and demands. This will give us fresh focus, fresh, balanced perspective, and fresh ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us.

7. Pray – Apart from Him we can do nothing. Ask God to help you break habits that are interfering with your spiritual life. Ask Him to give you a willing heart, wisdom, and grace to walk in balance and self-control. Ask Him to shift your priorities, bring your heart into alignment with His, and to bring the healthy, permanent change He desires.

Please don’t get me wrong—social media is not inherently bad. In fact, a lot of good happens on social media. But if we’re not intentional, focused, and wise, we can end up in a place we never imagined—far from the One we love, spiritually weak, and totally distracted.

With willing hearts, God’s grace, and self-control, we can make wise daily choices that steer our lives in the direction that the Lord desires, that profit us, and that encourage and bless those around us. And we can walk in freedom from the things that entangle us, completely in tandem with Jesus.

Lord, help me evaluate the role of social media in my life. Help me to take charge of my time, put You first daily, understand my purpose and take breaks when appropriate. But mostly, help me to make wise choices that steer my life in the right direction and honor You. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why Facebook and I Are On A Trial Separation {Distractions, Part 1}

It happened slowly. In minute increments. Hardly noticeable.

So at the beginning of the year when I sensed God leading me to fast not only certain foods, but social media, I could hardly imagine the shocking reality I’d soon face.

In the first few days I pried my white-knuckled self away from Facebook, truth began to dawn. And the truth is I had no clue that social media had cut in on my dance with the Lord. Over and over. Like a swarthy, impeccably dressed gentleman, Mr. Social Media tapped, and I waltzed off with him.

And soon I was spiritually distracted.

In all honesty, I was clueless. Because I stayed off social media on weekends. With great relief, I might add. But during the week, I felt compelled to engage on my Facebook ministry page because my heart is for this prayer-based community to thrive and for women to be blessed. My heart was right, but the cost was too high. Because nearly every time I took time to respond on my ministry page, I got sucked back onto my personal Facebook page. 

And when you give Facebook an inch, it takes a mile. So though we aren’t divorced, Facebook and I are separated. And I’m honestly not sure if it’s going to work out for us.

Maybe you aren’t distracted by social media (though I suspect it’s an issue for many of us, and this short series on distractions primarily addresses social media). Maybe for you it’s addictive phone apps/games/computer games. Or TV. Or novels. Or maybe it’s simply busyness. None of which are inherently bad or wrong.

But whatever it is, if we’re having a hard time controlling it that can only mean it is controlling us.

For you are a slave to whatever controls you. (2 Peter 2:19)

When we allow anything but the Holy Spirit to control us, we’re in trouble. It will infringe on and negatively impact our spiritual priorities, and we’ll find ourselves teetering on the brink of a spiritually distracted lifestyle.

A life where our hearts become dull. Where we become engaged with many things and people rather than with God. Where our brains are so full of non-essential information we can’t think straight, let alone hear His voice. Where our gaze is captured by something besides the Lover of our souls. Where we yearn for something so much that it trespasses on our time with the Lord. And we often rationalize it, promising ourselves we will get to God later.

And this, sweet friends, is how an idol forms. I know, I know. The word idol is so Old-Testament. And yet in 2015, there exists more sparkly, enticing, interesting distractions than ever. Each one with the potential to capture our gaze and make us long to spend time with it. Each one able to crowd our lives. Each with the capacity to drown out His still, small voice.

Each one with the ability to take God’s place in our hearts.

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:21)

If our minds and hearts are so overwhelmed and overstimulated by non-stop social media engagement, ceaseless bits of information we invite in every day, or by our own out-of-control interests/activities/relentlessly busy schedules, then chances are we won’t have the desire, focus, or room in our hearts for Him.

Scripture tells us our lives are to be imperceptibly entwined with His. And it’s what He whispers to my heart over and over. 
For in Him we live and move and have our being; (Acts 17:28)

The beauty of this verse is that when we live and move and have our being in Jesus, we walk in tandem with Him. Our hearts are riveted by His Word. And we’re focused on and in involved with His current purposes for us in this season of our lives.

As 2015 dawned, God enabled me to recognize the distractions at work in my life. My heart has felt convicted and challenged by the Lord to make wise changes. Changes that free me to accomplish what He desires in this season of my life. Changes that will enable me to hear Him more clearly. Changes that connect my heart more deeply to His.

My hope is to help you do the same. Join me on the 2nd Tuesday in April  for Part 2 of this series on distractions (my new blog posting schedule is the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays each month). Your assignment, should you choose to accept it {cue the cool Mission Impossible movie music} is to pray this week and ask God to pinpoint and help you recognize distractions in your life.

Lord, open my eyes so that I recognize distractions that have slowly encroached in my heart and life.  I don’t want anything to take Your place in my heart. I want to be about my Father’s business. I want to live and move and have my being in You. Speak to my heart this week and pinpoint specific areas of distraction. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

And for those of you wondering, though my personal Facebook page and I are currently separated, my hope is that perhaps we can eventually try again, with wisdom, concrete boundaries, and great grace. (My ministry page is still active, however, with pre-scheduled prayers posted daily 5 days a week.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Pray For Your Kids (A FREE Prayer Printable!}

Motherhood has always been a hard job. And maybe it’s just me, but it seems like our culture is making it harder than ever to raise wise, godly kids.

And so, I pray.

Yes, my kids are older. But I still pray. And I also have grandkids now, so my prayers won’t be stopping any time soon.

It grieves me to see so many kids struggling against the powerful tide of our culture and all of its distractions and enticements, and the enemy’s plans to annihilate the faith of our next generation.

And so, I pray.

Praying for our kids is the single most important thing we can ever do for them.

Could you use some help in the praying-for-your-kids department? I’ve created a powerful, Scripture-based prayer printable for you called Essential Prayers for Your Kids. And it’s completely FREE.

A gift from my heart to yours, one mom to another. To get your free Scripture-based prayer printable, just CLICK HERE. Or visit my Free Resources page. 

Leave me a comment and I will pray for you and your kids today.

Happy Praying!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dangerous Ground

We've all done it: compared ourselves to others. Whether we compare our bodies, our families, our jobs, our callings, or where we are on the journey, the temptation can be so subtle we barely recognize it. But it's dangerous ground we would be wise to avoid.

Comparing ourselves to others does a lot of things--none of them good:

It creates pressure - When I read certain writers whose flowing, beautiful words evoke deep passion, sometimes I'm tempted to try to emulate their style. But the pressure to be someone else makes me miserable and in the end I always fail. We don't need the pressure of trying to be something and someone we're not. When we're true to ourselves, there is no pressure.

It leads to frustration - Nothing squelches our ability to fulfill God's specific destiny for our lives like comparison, and that is frustrating. He has equipped us for every good work, but only when we're following His plan for our lives--not when we're trying to be like someone else. When we pursue the Lord and His plan, frustration is alleviated.

It fosters insecurity - And insecure people don't get far. Insecurity prevents us from maturing, because it partners with fear to hold us back. But when we instead strive to know God's unique plan for our lives, we grow in both ability and confidence.

It makes us feel small - We've all experienced a moment when we felt pale and insignificant in the shadow of another. But the truth is we are exactly who God created us to be, and it grieves the Holy Spirit when we think of ourselves as less than all God's word declares. Instead of standing in someone else's shadow and allowing ourselves to feel small, let's dwell under the shadow of the Almighty, confident in our identities and giftings as God's daughters.

It breeds competition - Comparison turns our hearts into scales--we're constantly weighing what others have and we don't. Remember, this is a race to the finish of our own God-given destiny, not a race to beat someone else. We can cheer each other on, pray for one another and remember that we're on the same team!

It robs us of our unique identity - There's no way we can become all God intends for us to be when our eyes are on others. When we keep our focus on the Lord and His plan for us, we can grow and excel in our own individual style.

Every one of us possesses a valuable, God-given destiny. As we choose to trust in God, focus on Him, and obey His direction for our lives, then He is honored. And we are anchored to the One who holds our destiny. This frees us to authentically pursue His calling on our lives, while authentically cheering on our sisters. When we resist the urge to compare ourselves, we avoid dangerous ground and demonstrate the belief that our own callings, however small or grand they may feel, hold value.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. (Galatians 6:4)

Comparison Prayer:  Father, help me to clearly perceive and respect my own God-given destiny, resist the urge to compare myself, and avoid the dangerous ground of comparison. When I am tempted to compare, I will instead cooperate with Your Holy Spirit by paying attention to my own work, and I will joyfully cheer on those around me. Thank you for the good plans You have for me. Enable me to honor You and fulfill my God-given destiny without comparing myself to others. In Jesus’s name, Amen. 

  • FREE CHAPTER ~ If you would like encouragement to pray for YOU, you can read Chapter One of Prayers for a Woman’s Soul for FREE! To get your free chapter, PLEASE CLICK HERE.