Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beeep!... R-i-i-i-i-ing.... buzzzzzz.... waaaaah!.... -> misc. incessant background noise>

It is hard for me to believe that I haven't posted to this blog since January.  While I can try to understand in hindsight the reasons for the delay, just the mere passage of time in relation to that last post seems bizarre.

As I reflect on the fact that I have not taken the time to post, I am beginning to realize the impact on every other part of my life.  Life is busy, is it not?  But what about it is taking up the time? 

This blog might be seen as merely a placeholder to represent the amount of time I am dedicating to studying and meditating on God's Word.  That's correct, you are most likely coming to the correct conclusion.  Yes, it is becoming more clear with each passing day where I have prioritized spending time with my Lord and my God.

Backing up a few steps... I am the father of two now.  We have an 18-month old little boy and a 2-month old little boy.  So, yes, they do require a considerable amount of my "home time", but honestly no where near as much as my wife puts in with them.  When I get home from work in the evening of each weekday I try to interact with them as much as possible.  If I get home @ 6pm, and my oldest goes to bed about 8-8:30, then it's really not that much time.  After he's in bed, the littlest one may need attention from one of us for maybe another hour or two.  After about 9:30 most evenings, my time is not constrained by parental concerns.  Perhaps I may then do some kind of chores-related task on the occasional evening, but in reality I probably collapse into a pile of meat and clothes on the nearest piece of furniture.

There's my problem - at that point of collapse.  What do I do with that time?  Well, honestly, I've managed to knock out several dozen (and I do mean several) episodes on Netflix of the following: Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Ax Men, and Numbers.  Occasionally, I think I even fit in some documentaries and movies.  Yep - real mind, spirit, and character building stuff there.

Oh, I really do want to shift the blame for my lack of discipline to the reality of the many digital distractions today.  As the title of this post suggests, not a day goes by that there isn't just an incessant mess of noise and distraction from waking up to going to sleep.  Even the nature of my job requires that I have that cell-phone plastered to my hip 24/7.  [By the way, if you're thinking of going into tech support/customer service - I'd seriously consider the costs.]

I could so easily take the easy way out here and say that all of the important things that are distracting me from the Ultimately Important things are to blame, and how can I fight the (sometime legitimate but usually and mostly  inconsequential) drag of these things on my time and attention?  Mowing the lawn needs to be done.  Giving the boys a bath needs to be done.  Tending the garden kinda needs to be done.  Driving 45-minutes each way to work absolutely needs to be done.  There are just so many things, to which any young (am I just flattering myself there?) husband/father can attest, that cannot be ignored.  But I'm just kidding myself if I say that all of my "free" time is spent in these.  There is quite an abundance that is spent either in front of a TV or at the computer.

Jesus was busy while He was here.  Yet, He always kept His priorities straight.  He did what He came to do, and He glorified His Father while doing it.  But He also found time to be alone.  When He was alone, He wasn't watching TV, taking a nap, playing games, or fishing - at least as far as I can determine.   When He was alone, He was spending time with His Father... in prayer.  [Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; John 6:15]

It just goes to show where my priorities are being placed.  While my Lord commands me to follow Him [Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; John 10:27; John 12:26], I instead follow my own desires and my own heart.  He says that following Him means denying oneself.
And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?    

Now, there it is.  The difference between my knowing about this command and knowing this command: applying it to my life each day.  Something I have been so bad at putting into practice.

In case there is another husband/father reading this, and you're going through the same struggle between professing your faith and living it, let me just close this post with a few thoughts that I plan to also keep in mind.

1.  Do not use "my time with God" as an excuse to slack in my marriage, or my duties around the house.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
A commentary on Eph. 5:25 says, this: "Thus, husbands are to love their wives in a self-sacrificial manner, following the example of Christ, who “gave himself up for” the church in loving self-sacrifice. Clearly the biblical picture of a husband laying down his life for his wife is directly opposed to any kind of male tyranny or oppression. The husband is bound by love to ensure that his wife finds their marriage a source of rich fulfillment and joyful service to the Lord."
2.  Remembering that just because something is a "good thing" doesn't mean it's the "best thing".
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ
Something that I've learned in the past few years:  just because something isn't a sin, it doesn't mean that pursuing it is the best course of action.  As an example, I love to camp.  I love to go camping in the woods and just enjoy the quiet times, and relax.  I do not believe there is anything inherently sinful about camping.  However, pursuing "camping as a style of life" would probably not be the best use of my God-given gifts and abilities.  Deciding here and now to shun all of the distracting digital and modern conveniences, even with the supposed intent of spending endless hours in prayer and devotion to God, could most likely be analogous to taking my light out of the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16) and putting it on my nightstand so that I can better read - let everyone else find their own light.

God gave me an amazing wife and two beautiful little boys.  He also commands that I put Him first.  Part of putting Him first is honoring the gifts He's given to me, the many blessings that I have done nothing to deserve, but have received entirely through His mercy and grace.  This means being a husband and father that gives Him glory, while living in a world and amidst a culture that denies His existence.  Retreating defeated to a monastery so that I can quench my own guilt for not devoting my whole life (including my free time) to Him is not God-honoring or glorifying to Him.

It's time I "man up" and start being the kind of man that God has called me to be.  That includes, but is not limited to, ceasing to make excuses for my lack of discipline and redeeming the time to His glory.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

    “Awake, O sleeper,
        and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
(Ephesians 5:1-17 ESV)