This has been a long, prayerful decision in our home. Back in January, we participated in the Daniel Fast, a 21-day time of prayer and fasting based on Daniel's fast in the Old Testament. Since I was still in my first trimester and queasy 25 hours a day, rather than follow the diet like Tevie did, I (we, really) gave up TV. It was a really outstanding time in our home. We read a couple books, played games together and stayed up later than we usually do just to talk and spend time together. Since then, "cutting the cord" has been on our hearts.
Before January I would have told you we don't watch much TV... but turn it off for 21 days and you realize just how often you're drawn to pick up that remote. We decided after the fast that rather than sit and watch mindless TV for hours we would just watch our favorite shows and keep it off the rest of time... guess how long that lasted?
I have battled a spirit of fear my entire life. As a tiny girl, my dad would take me to bed, sing me a song, and hand me my red Wilderness Explorer flashlight equipped with a compass and whistle that I could blow if I got scared and needed him or mom (NOTE: It was not really a Wilderness Explorer flashlight, but if you haven't seen UP, you should rent it today.). I never needed the compass... this little chicken wasn't leaving the safety of her home compound. :)
For a few years I have blamed this spirit of fear on what we watch. I have been an avid CSI: watcher since it's very first season and if you watch that one you have to watch the fifteen spinoffs it's had. Add to that my love of reading a good murder mystery and you have one wild imagination. I started reading Sue Grafton novels at about 10 years old and am currently up-to-date on every Janet Evanovich novel... and I am ashamed to admit that those spook me sometimes!
We've stopped watching the scary shows and I have cut-out mystery books from my reading repertoire. So, you can imagine my frustration when I was still scared all the time. My imagination created people in the house, the cat scratching would become someone picking the deadbolt, and I couldn't walk into a dark room without feeling my chest tighten... oh, how I wish I was exaggerating. After I learned I was pregnant my fears became even greater. What if someone were to break our front door- made of plated glass- and come in and kidnap the baby? We couldn't put his crib near a window because a tornado may come through our neighborhood and he could be sucked out a window. I know you're laughing as you read this because it's absolutely ridiculous, but I kid you not, this was how my mind worked on a daily basis. Satan had me in the grips of a very tight stronghold.
And it was when I realized that, that this was not a natural fear, this was a stronghold that satan was using to keep me from placing my faith in God. As long as I was fearful, I doubted God's ability and strength. I began praying and praying and praying for freedom from this.
Last week my sweet husband spent an amazing 72-hours with the Lord on a Walk to Emmaus. I am ashamed to admit that I hoped all week something would happen and wouldn't be able to go because I could not bear the thought of being home alone for 3 nights. I do not sleep when he isn't home. Thursday night after dropping him off I came home and tried to settle in for the night. My best friend called me and talked to me until 11pm, I hoped at that time I was tired enough that I would sleep. I tossed and turned all night with every light in the house on and both dogs in the bed.
Friday evening I attended a meeting for the women's Emmaus I'm working in May. At the end of the evening we gathered at the alter to pray and I immediately began to worry about going home... in the dark... by myself. At that moment, THE moment satan began to make me fearful, our spiritual director, Brian, an authentic, loving, passionate man of God looked at me, called me by name and said that God has shown him I battle a spirit of fear... Are you speechless? Because I sure was! Actually, I started sobbing. Brian spoke 1 Timothy 1:7 to me, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity but one of power, love and self discipline." I can't tell you the relief I felt because 1) a roomful of godly, loving women and men were praying for me but 2) because Brian spoke such truth into my life. I was so comforted to know that God knew the fears of my heart, He knew how strong satan's grip was. Now I laugh because God had shown me that scripture a thousand times but I am stubborn and chose to ignore because it didn't apply to my fears. Just like He did a thousand times with the Israelites, who wouldn't listen to him, he sent a man of God in one prophetic moment to share a word from His heart that would reach the hearts of His people. I am so thankful for Godly, obedient people in my life. Thank you, Brian, for speaking what God has laid on your heart even though it didn't make sense to you. Needless to say, I slept beautifully that night and every night since. I know that satan will always tempt me with fear but I have been freed from the stronghold he chained me with for so long.
So what does all of that have to do with turning off the TV? It's one of many ways we are striving to be serve God on a deeper level. Without the temptation of TV we will spend more time reading and studying and more time together. Based a numerous things I have read lately and studied about child development in college, we had decided we didn't want the Little Man watching TV before age 2. That meant we'd have it off while he was awake, and if we have it off while he's awake, why pay all that money for a few hours of entertainment? We can watch all of our favorite shows, should we still want to, on the internet, Tevie can check scores and watch games online and anything worth watching will eventually come to Netflix so we'll catch it there. This also helps us protect our hearts and minds from the awful stuff that's considered acceptable programming.
Aside from that, and our biggest reason for making this decision, we now have $50 extra each month to donate to Kingdom Work. Did you know that according to Feeding the Orphans, $25 feeds one orphan three meals a day for one month? Just by shutting off our satellite, we're able to feed TWO children in Ghana, Africa for a MONTH!
Of course the worldly party of me thinks, "What are people going to say about me? We're shutting of our TV, turning off data plans on our phones and cutting back wherever possible... this makes me look so weird!" This quote from Radical reminds why this is the way to live.
As the American dream goes, we can do anything we set our minds to accomplish. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we combine ingenuity, imagination, and innovation with skill and hard work…. But…the dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability…. Even more important is the subtly fatal goal we will achieve when we pursue the American dream. As long as we achieve our desires in our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory… This, after all, is the goal of the American dream; to make much of ourselves. But here the gospel and the American dream are clearly and ultimately antithetical to each other. While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.
God is able to do much with what we consider little. It's hard for me to sit a plush pew, in a newly renovated sanctuary knowing there are millions of orphaned children around the world... knowing that nearly 30,000 died yesterday from curable illnesses and starvation. And I let it happen because I don't have the money to give... because I'd rather watch Food Network than give food and Living Water to children who lay down each night thirsty, starving and ill. That excuse is unacceptable to me now. We are continually purging the excess from our lives in a radical way... I hope you don't look at our radical way of living as crazy... I hope you join on this path. It's straight and narrow, often rocky, but the destination is better than we could ever dream.
Finally, because I can't say it as well as David Platt, here some quotes from chapter 6 of Radical (can you tell God is using this book to convict me?! It's good stuff!).
"We don’t sell [our possessions] or give them away because they are sinful…. We sell them and give them away because Christ in us compels us to care for the needy around us."
"Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more.
The truth is, there will continue to be millions and millions of people who do not hear as long as we continue to use spare time and spare money to each them. Those are two radically different questions. “What can we spare?” and “What will it take?"
The logic that says, “I can’t do everything, so I won’t do anything,” is straight from hell.
The lesson I learned is that the war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that: a war. It is a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more luxuries, to acquire more stuff, and to live more comfortably.
Ultimately, I don’t want to miss eternal treasure because I settle for earthly trinkets. “Where your treasure is,” Jesus says, “there your heart will be also."
Don't forget to cast your vote if you like what you read here: