Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Disasterous Distractions

So a few Friday nights ago I went to bed with the intention that I was going to get up early and get a lot done on Saturday. So, my alarm went off around 8, and I oh so graciously hit the snooz. Then about 10 o'clock I finally peeled myself out of bed.

After finally getting ready for the day I sat down at my desk to get some things accomplished. The first thing on my list was to e-mail one of my professors. So I logged on to my e-mail account and what do you know?! An e-mail from Mom. I opened it and watched the funny youtube video of the cat...which of course brought up related videos. And I of course decided watching one more wouldn't hurt. At the risk of being viewed as a girl with a cat obsession, I'll admit this went on for an hour!

Finally I came to my senses and logged off my e-mail. I looked down at my list of things to do and realized I never e-mailed my professor (which was the whole purpose of getting on my e-mail).

As well as a good chuckle, this story gave me a thought. How easy it is to get distracted! I'm not just talking about getting distracted from lists of things to do. So often I get distracted from doing what God asks of me. Whether He asks me to trust Him, have a particular mindset, complete a certain task...it's easy to get distracted!

I love reading 2 Timothy. As Paul's last piece of literature, I can't help but know his words of are infinite importance. Not only are they God-breathed, but they are Paul's last words to Timothy (my intention here is not to belittle the inspiration of God but to emphasize another often overlooked thought). Last words are usually pretty important. Paul could have wrote anything, but he chose the words that make up the book of 2 Timothy.

One of the first things Paul writes is an encouragement to Timothy to be faithful. He writes in verse 7 of chapter 1 "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Aha! Self-discipline! My first problem.

Paul goes on to write in verse 14 "Guard the good deposite that was entrusted to you - gaurd it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." That list of things I had to do on Saturday was far more important than watching worthless videos of cats. Even more so, what God has revealed to me, His requests, are MUCH more important than the many things that distract me from following His guidance. Good thing I have the Holy Spirit - a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline!

Paul continues in chapter 2 to encourage Timothy to endure hardship like a soldier, to compete according to the rules as an athlete, and to work hard like a farmer. A distraction would be seriously disasterous to any of these. Think about it. A soldier might miss his target if his eye is caught by something else. A runner might lose his footing if he doesn't keep his eyes forward. A farmer might ruin all his crops if he fails to care for them while being distracted for a period of time on another project.

Similarly, think of the detriment being distracted from God's precious plans could have on a believer. Any distraction not only interferes with God's plan, it also allows room for us to get our priorities out of line. Paul urges Timothy to "flee the evil desires of youth" (2:22) so he won't become a "lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God" (3:4).

I'd like to share a story called "The Devil's Convention." It's a very good illustration of just how disasterous distractions can be.

Satan called a worldwide convention.
In his opening address to his evil angels, he said,'We can't keep the Christians from going to church.' 'We cannot keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.' 'We cannot even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to their churches; let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that relationship with Jesus Christ.'

'This is what I want you to do angels ... Distract them from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!'

'How shall we do this?' shouted his angels.

'Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,' he answered. 'Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow.' 'Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children.' 'As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work!' 'Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. Keep the TV, VCR, CDs, and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.' 'Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogues, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes.' 'Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what is important, and they will become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!' 'Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week'. 'Do not let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies instead.' 'Keep them busy, busy, busy! And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions.''Go ahead, let thern be involved in soul winning; but crowd their lives with so rnany good causes they have no tirne to seek power frorn Jesus.'

'Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.'

It will work! It will work!

It was quite a convention. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there.

...Do you see how disasterous distractions can be? And it's hard not to fall accustomed to them. Especially when "everyone else is doing it." Fortunately, Paul directs Timothy there too. In chater 4 verses 16-18 Paul discribes a time when NO ONE came to his defense. NO ONE was going against the grain as he was. But he says "the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." I've come to realize that sometimes God asks us to do things we're not comfortable with. And often times this requires going it alone. Or so it would appear...How easy it is for me to forget that the LORD is standing at my side.

Paul knew Timothy wasn't perfect. And, thankfully, God knows we're not either. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:13 "If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself." Be encouraged! You're going to get distracted. I'm going to get distracted. But the Lord will stand at our sides forever! He will remain faithful.

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