Candy Crush Madness

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It all started with an innocent question asked by a friend.

“Do you play Candy Crush?”

I don’t like to waste a lot of time playing iPad games, but I do enjoy a half hour in the evening to wind down and I was in need of something new and fresh. I thought I’d check into it.

At first, I sailed through the levels, enjoying the challenge of moving the little candies into rows of three. It reminded me of the original Bejeweled game, which I loved and no longer exists (to my knowledge). And so, about a week ago, Candy Crush became my game of choice.

As I moved up in levels, it became increasingly harder to pass. And if you failed so many times, a message would pop up, telling you that you would have to wait for so many minutes before playing again.

But, lo and behold, this could be avoided by paying for extra lives. Or extra treats to help beat the levels. Only $.99.

Now, I like to play games but I’ll be darned if I am paying anything to beat a level. That seems almost dumber than gambling. At least in gambling there is a slight chance to come away with more than what you put in. Apparently there are plenty of people who do pay, however. A website claims that Candy Crush makers rake in almost a million per day from people who pay to play.

So, if I wasn’t going to pay, how was I going to beat this thing? Well, at first I figured out that if I changed the date on my iPad, I could continue playing. It would fool the game into thinking that my “Life” stash was full again. Great. Now I could just play.

But, alas, I got to a very, very difficult  level. I just kept playing and playing the same board, all the while telling myself how utterly ridiculous I was to waste time on this. But, finally, I passed that level and then went onto the next level. I passed that one after only a few tries.

And then I got to one that truly appeared impossible.

I kept playing and playing and the screen, offering the little treats for only $.99 became more and more appealing. Just once wouldn’t hurt, right?

Failed again.

Surely, I can get this. I continued to waste time trying to beat a level that I am still not sure it was even possible to beat without paying anything.

And then I realized something.

I had been fully sucked in. And I decided to escape while I still could. (How in the world would I explain Candy Crush charges to my husband??)

And, so I exited the game, deleted it from my iPad, and chose to move on with a more productive use of my time.

But my time spent on that game showed me one thing.

It showed me just how we get sucked in to sinful habits.

You see, at first it doesn’t cost much. There is a great deal of satisfaction and no payment–

~One cocktail or beer relaxes us and helps with our conversation skills.

~A few minutes looking or listening or thinking about something ungodly doesn’t seem to hurt a thing and gratifies something fleshly inside of us.

~A few minutes at a gaming table is all great fun.

~An evening spent playing video games is a fun evening with friends.

~Eating a pastry that is loaded with calories just melts in your mouth.

That first taste doesn’t cost us anything and the rewards are great. But, if we aren’t careful–if we aren’t self-controlled–we can get caught up in the rewards and we need more and more to yield the same feelings of satisfaction. That is what addiction is and it can happen with almost anything.

I think it is clear that there isn’t any sin in having a drink or a delicious pastry. There is no sin in spending the evening playing video games (if it is a video game that is not dishonoring to God in any way). But if we become compelled to have more and more, we will get caught in a web that becomes almost  impossible to escape from.

Self-Control. A highly under-rated character trait that has almost disappeared from our world. I can tell you that it is one that I struggle with daily.

But if we don’t cultivate self-control in our lives–if we aren’t even aware of the battle– we will, at the very least, end up wasting our time on unimportant, trivial things, or, at the worst, end up destroying our family, our health, or our very lives.

And, so it is good-bye to Candy Crush for me. It is so not worth it. Glad I found out before I wasted too many of the few precious hours that make up my life.  Now…to apply that same philosophy to a few other areas of my life that need some work!

 

The Danger of the Internet

498072_28853113Did you think I was going to talk about pornography when you read the title? Pornography definitely is a growing and serious danger in this culture where absolutes barely exist in the mind of most and the internet make it very, very accessible. It has destroyed thousands–maybe tens of thousands–of marriages.

Or maybe you read the title and you thought I was going to talk about the danger of online buying and how now, at the press of a button, we can buy almost anything our heart desires, as long as we have a big enough credit line. This, too, is a danger and we need to be on guard to be good stewards of the material possessions God has put in our care.

But I think one of the biggest dangers and most deadly for many Christians is the temptation to compare. You see, when I was growing up, I didn’t know (or need to know) what was going on in anybody’s life outside my family and close circle of friends. Oh, I might have heard about someone’s exciting job promotion or dramatic weight loss through the grapevine, but it wasn’t part of my everyday existence.

But, alas, came the birth of Facebook and suddenly people are posting all that is good about themselves. We want to present our best side to the public and so most of us post about the good things we are doing and the exciting, positive happenings of our lives. And, of course, this is the natural thing to do, and I am not saying it is bad (please be sure to understand that).

Blogs and Pinterest are also danger zones in this temptation for comparison. We see the amazing, incredible creations of others or the business accomplishments they have had or the homestead they have created or the amazing interior decorating or even the huge amount of followers they have and we grow dissatisfied and envious.

It is very, very tempting to compare and become unhappy when we dwell on what we can’t do or don’t have. We have to be so careful to keep a proper perspective if we are investing our time in viewing these sites, because envying isn’t doing anyone any good (and it is also a sin! Exodus 20:17).

God has given each of us certain gifts and talents. He has given us each different body types. We have been blessed with different types of families. We have different tastes in style, food, and hobbies.

Some husbands are romantic. Others are not.

Some kids do fabulous things for Mother’s Day. Others do not.

Some people have the resources to take fantastic vacations. Others do not.

Some people are naturally thin. Others are not.

Some have kids who always win awards. Others do not.

Some have amazing, interesting jobs. Others do not.

Some are amazingly talented and crafty. Others are not.

I have occasionally found myself envying someone on the screen. I have to catch myself and make an intentional decision to be happy for them. This is not always easy for me (am I alone here?) as I try to tell myself that they certainly have their own struggles and that the grass is not always greener on the other side. And, as a Christian, it is my job to rejoice with them! But sometimes it is hard. Especially if it is an area I am struggling in. God continues to work in my heart in this area.

You see, it is a heart issue. We need to learn to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11) and then, and only then, can we visit Facebook or Pinterest or any other site with an open heart to learn something or to rejoice with others, instead of being filled with that dreaded sense of envy and jealousy.

 

This is linked up here :)

What is your phone voice?

1353144_47874028 (1)Yesterday, I called a water park to ask a question before purchasing tickets online. When I finally got to a real person (don’t you just hate those recorded voices that make it take a zillion years to reach a human?) I was pleasantly surprised to hear a cheerful voice pick up the phone. I proceeded to ask my question and a couple of others, since she was so friendly, and then hung up, very pleasantly surprised at the conversation and given a great first impression of this park I had never been to.

 I compare this to a couple of local companies I work with for certain things. When I call to place an order, I always hope that I don’t get a certain person on the phone. I know that if they answer, they will make me feel like I am inconveniencing them by placing an order. I will get off the phone determined to find a new company from which to order. Thankfully, there is another person who works in each of these companies who makes up for the rudeness and keeps it bearable to work with them. I can say unequivocally, however, that if they would lose the one contact that I have that is friendly and kind, I would find another place to take my business.

We keep this in mind as we run our own landscaping office. Thankfully, we have two of the sweetest, kindest secretaries you will ever meet and if you talk to them on the phone you will immediately get the impression that they are so glad you called. Even when someone calls to berate or criticize, they manage to keep their cool. This is nothing we have done as bosses, but is a reflection of the Lord’s work in their lives.

So what does this have to do with you? I think sometimes we forget the importance of the first impression we give when we answer any phone. Whether it is our home phone, our cell phone, or the phone at our place of employment, we have a responsibility to be an extension of the love of Jesus.

We immediately have a positive start to any relationship when we answer the phone with grace and kindness. And we immediately have a negative beginning when we answer with annoyance or impatience. We can make someone feel like they are important or we can make them feel insignificant. It is our choice.

What is your phone voice like? When a stranger hangs up the phone after a conversation with you, what is their impression? In this world of technology I think we sometimes forget that our kindness and love must extend to our phone conversations, our texts, and our Facebook messages. Let’s show the love of Jesus Christ in all aspects of our lives.

 

My journey with CQTS

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It all started over a year ago.  Maybe it even goes further back than that. When you find out you have a condition, it is hard to know when it really started.

I think it started when I purchased my iPhone and downloaded a dictionary.

Suddenly, my iPhone seemed a necessary study tool to have by me during quiet time.

And then my iPhone was joined by the very helpful iPad with all of its wonderful Bible Study tools.  How amazing to have maps and commentaries and Bible dictionaries at my finger tips all for a few dollars.

And, so, I settled into a nice little pattern of having these tools beside me.

Until one day I realized: I had a classic case of CQTS:

Compromised Quiet Time Syndrome

While these two little gadgets did help me with Bible study, the disadvantages were many. You see, each time I would hear a little ding that I had a text, I would click it…immediately. If I saw a little notification number, I would feel the need to check it…immediately. Until one day, I realized that these helpful little gadgets had become very large hindrances in my walk with God.

Basically, I was telling God to hold because I had something more important to do.

I had spent at least the last five years telling my kids not to text while studying –it’s too distracting. I knew the danger of having a phone nearby. And, yet, here I was, doing what I had told my kids not to do. But instead of studying science or math, I was studying God’s Word. How pathetic was that??

And so I knew I had to find the cure for this condition. And guess what? The cure is quite simple, really–

Leave my iPhone and iPad on silent and far away from me during quiet time.

That’s it.

And so my healing from this syndrome continues. Some days, I forget to put my phone on silent and I can’t resist checking it. And some days, it is more difficult than others not to compulsively check what’s going on in the rest of the world and I fail. But I am definitely moving the right direction.

I know there are many who can’t relate AT ALL to this, but I am quite certain there are at least a few out there who CAN. I have seen the phones that barely leave the hand or the pocket, even in forty-somethings. We have become a culture that has put our texting and internet life before face-to-face relationships. I had become a person who had put those things even before God.  I am quite ashamed to admit that.

But, thankfully, my God forgives me (over and over and over again) and I am healing. I am glad to say I am better today than I was a few months ago.

And I realize: iPhones and iPads can be wonderful tools–but they are tools, not gods. It’s time many of us stop idolizing our gadgets and start making our relationships with God and people our top priority.

 

Basic Principles for Digital & Social Media

Social Media Collage

Yes, I realize it’s Friday and not a normal posting day. However, I came upon this today and I just couldn’t wait until Wednesday to post it. This is good stuff! I found it in The Berean Call Newsletter. What a great reminder!

Basic Principles for Digital & Social Media

Excerpts from: Biblically Handling Technology and Social Media by Biblical Discipleship Ministries

 The speed at which technology has advanced in just the last decade is incredible! We are literally reeling with all the “new.” With so many innovations happening so quickly, it is easy to carelessly accept what is going on around us without mentally taking a step back and evaluating our Christian response to the times in which we live. In 1 Chronicles 12:32, the Bible talks about how the children of Issachar . . . were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. We should accept this challenge to understand the times in which we live and learn how we, as Christians, should respond to our culture in a way that reflects a biblical worldview….

 The danger in mindlessly copying the world’s ways or responses is that we can easily be led into carelessness, foolishness, and sinfulness, often even becoming enslaved. Where are you today? Have you become a slave of texting, Facebook, YouTube, a blog (or other people’s blogs; maybe you are a blogaholic!)? Or rather, have you learned how to make these cultural trends your servants–making sure that you remain their master? Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Rom. 6:16).

 All that God has provided, including these devices, can be tools for ministry. Tools usually have an intended use. As believers, our intended purpose is to be focused on doing all we do to further His kingdom. We are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20); therefore, let us use whatever we have to serve Him well, giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed (2 Cor. 6:3)….

 Consider the following principles to help you better glorify God and thus be a good ambassador for Him.

Don’t Be Rude – Show Respect For Others

One way that you can be distinctively different from the world while using any kind of device is to think of others more highly than yourself (Phil. 2:3-4). When God’s people make the conscious effort to stop putting “me” first, they are less apt to be rude and more able to think of others’ needs and feelings above their own. We have to remember that it can become uncomfortable for a person to try to communicate with someone who is constantly checking a phone or texts, using an iPod or Bluetooth ear bud, or is unable to look away from her Facebook page for even a minute to look directly at the one who is speaking to her. Being inconsiderate (rude) with our devices and social media sources can be especially discouraging for those who are less involved with the newest electronic and digital trends (e.g., those who didn’t grow up in the technology generation–many elderly and even some middle-aged people). Don’t allow yourself to use anything in a way that could make others feel inferior….

 [The Scriptures say]: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Mk. 12:31); andFinally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous (1 Pet. 3:8)….The Lord Jesus always treated people as important-more important than Himself. We need to be concerned about practicing the principles He has given us for loving others (see 1 Cor. 13:4-8). Specifically remember the principle that love is not self-seeking. We must train ourselves to die to our selfish desires as the Apostle Paul encourages in 1 Corinthians 15:31: I die daily….

Don’t Be Excessive

Remember the Fruit of the Spirit and exercise temperance (self-control) (Gal. 5:22-24)! Don’t forget to let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). Take a minute to re-evaluate your life and consider how much time you are spending in the Word, witnessing, serving (within our families, churches, or communities), compared to the time spent on a phone, MacBook, iPad, MySpace, blogspot, video game, or any Internet activity.

Don’t Be Possessive Or Too Dependent

Remember these Biblical admonitions: Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:4). Ye shall make you no idols (Lev. 26:1). Consider taking certain days to “fast” from your devices or media, replacing that time with a renewed focus on improving your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ so that you do not allow idols into your life.

Don’t Be Secretive

If there is something about your text messages, voice messages, phone numbers on your call log, song selections on your iPod or Mp3, content of your social network or blog, YouTube selections, or your Internet browsing choices that would embarrass you if someone in an authority position (parent, grandparent, spouse, church leader, friend) in your life knew about it, or that you would become defensive concerning, it is a very good sign that it is something that would not honor the Lord (see Prov. 10:17)….

 Each day when you pick up your phone or portable media player or log into your social networking account, ask God to help you use them in ways that will please Him. Allowing a parent or spouse to have the password to your personal media or entertainment options will help keep you accountable. Applying scriptural principles to your use of technology-based systems and social media is a great way to guard yourself from being in bondage to them. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? (Gal. 4:9).

Communicate With A Purpose

Incorporating “yourself” into your social network or blog in a God-glorifying manner for example could be posting that you had specifically prayed for something and the Lord answered. Instead of talking about your achievements, talk about your latest ministry or witnessing adventure, mission trip, or family day. Share about the blessings and the challenges that the Lord gave you through those activities. Talk about the people you spend time with and the character qualities that you like in them. Use media options to glorify the Lord by having a true meaning to your posts. Ask the Lord to give you a redeeming purpose for your blog, Facebook, and YouTube posts, or personal websites. It is important to once again stress that we as Christians need to be distinctively (yes, even radically) different in the way that we use whatever the world promotes or the culture deems acceptable. The strength of the choice is in your hands. By God’s grace, you do not have to allow anything to have power over you (2 Cor. 12:9-10).