Friday, July 29, 2011

How Do You Deal With Distractions?

           Anyone following this blog may have noticed that Wednesday’s post was not there. That’s because I got a little distracted. It’s tough writing what amounts to a sermon a day, but when I started this process that was my goal. (I could be in over my head. In any case, I am in the deep end of the pool.) So, if you are following me here I want to apologize for being late and virtually nonexistent Wednesday. With your comments and encouragement I’ll do my best not to let it happen again.  Feel free to comment on the posts. (What is God saying to you? Does my life in some ways reflect your own experience?  Are these posts at all valuable, or am I, in fact, talking to myself?)

            I cannot really talk about what distracts you mostly because I don’t know who is reading this, but I can talk about what distracts me. We can examine what the Bible has to say, and with any amount luck at all we should be able to apply God’s Word to our situations with great success. You’re right. Luck has nothing to do with it. God promises that His word will accomplish the task for which it has been sent. There is a high price associated with disregard for God’s plan for our lives.

Psalm 73:27-28 “Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” (NIV)

            The way I see it, distractions in my case follow three basic patterns: 1. someone draws my attention away from someone else, 2. something becomes troubling or worrisome, or 3 something I find entertaining and amusing steals precious time away for important activities. Let me deal with them in order.

            Human existence, Christianity itself, and the ministry are each about relationships. Relationships involve people. People require time commitments. But, I recognize within myself a tendency to nurture and develop certain relationships more than others. The key to my dealing with this distraction is evaluating not what I am gaining from the time spent in the relationship by what I am giving to the other person. My relationship with God is reflected in my relationships with people.

Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (KJV)

Philippians 2:2-4 “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (KJV)

Romans 14:19 “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” (NASB)

            The only way I can deal with the distractions caused by people is changing the way I value the individuals. They really are not a distraction are my responsibility. Spending time with people becomes a “call to discipleship”. However, dealing with worry may not be so cut and dried. Especially in today’s economy with my decision not to return to teaching and focusing my life on ministry this is becoming a real issue for me. I have found passages from Philippians chapter 4 lend themselves to combating this distraction.

Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (KJV)

Philippians 4:7-9 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (KJV)

This Third form of distraction is my Achilles heel. This one gets me every time. Entertainment and amusement has attracted me since childhood. Flashing lights, a catchy tune, a good storyline, anything exciting or different will stop me in my tracks. (If you listen to Michele the story does not have to be that good. They just have to make a movie out of it.)

Psalm 101:3-4 “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.” (KJV)

Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (KJV)

            The Bible directs us, teaches us and corrects us if we read it with understanding and devotion, but accountability holds us to a standard even above our own willpower. So the way I deal with distractions is making a commitment to meet every week with Christian brothers I trust. Please find trustworthy people within your circle of friends and share your heart with them. They will challenge you to be more than you can be alone. The experience will sharpen, encourage and equip you to fulfill your calling with boldness.

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