Friday, January 15, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 15


As moms, we all want to build good nutritional habits in our children for their long-term physical health. However if we tell our children to eat their vegetables, while they watch us binge on junk food, our example will speak louder than our words.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

When I see a small child, unable yet to talk, swipe through her mom’s phone, I wonder what habits we are allowing our children to form. Do our children see that we always have time to check email but not time to read them a story?

Do our children even have a chance to form healthy relationships with media? This scares me. Our generation is facing a challenge that our parents didn’t face. And with our children, we don’t get a chance for a rematch.

When I turned sixteen, I never considered getting a phone, but my oldest daughter just got her driver’s license and, of course, considered a phone to be a necessary accessory.

I’ve been dreading this for years. Do we cave to the expectations of society and get our teens their own smartphone with full capabilities to hold the world in their hand? Is a phone necessary for their safety? Will the phone bring temptations that a teen isn’t capable of handling? Can I use this the phone as a teaching and training opportunity? What expectation am I setting with my oldest child that will be carried to her siblings? I’ve certainly wished that I could have thrown all these decisions on Ed.

Maybe in ten years I’ll have answers to these questions. And maybe that is what is difficult, we can’t go to the older generation and ask, “How did you handle phones and teens?”

We don’t have the benefit of years to see the results, but we know that the default setting on phones is to trap our children. We must be aggressive in addressing the pitfalls. While I don’t know the answer of successful training for our children, I think it includes deliberate teaching, good examples, and accountability.

Today’s Challenge: Think about the example you are setting for your children. Would you want your child copied you?

Thursday, January 14, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 14


In my research on technology, I came again and again to the need for accountability. Because of the addictive and manipulative nature of phones, many people say it is impossible to get victory over our phones without accountability.

Smarter people than me, whole teams of them backed with billions of dollars, are purposely manipulating technology to make it addictive. This isn’t a reason to feel like a victim; it should be motivation to help each other evaluate and control our phone use.

But accountability is scary. Can I trust this person to be confidential? Do I really want to tell someone how I fail? Can’t I be strong enough to battle this on my own?

Is accepting accountability weakness? NO. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brene Brown

Today’s Challenge: Ask someone to hold you accountable for your internet use. This could be your husband, a close friend, sister, or a mentor—someone who will ask hard questions and not allow excuses. It could be informal, someone that occasionally asks you how you are doing, or formal with regular meet-ups. You can even set up an app such as Qustodio or Covenant Eyes that emails a report of your internet use to your accountability partner.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 13


In years past, Mennonites were tested during times of war to demonstrate nonresistance. They struggled to love their enemies during times of persecution. They often lived among people who hated them.

Today, our test may be to live out the principles of the Sermon on the Mount even when on social media. We must speak the truth in love when we disagree instead of proving our point with arguments. We must love our enemies instead of mocking them.

Rather than slander someone who sins, we must seek to obey Matthew 18. Slander is not necessarily speaking an untruth, but the goal of slander is to hurt, not to heal. Jesus called us to love and bless and pray for and do good to those who have done evil. This doesn’t mean ignoring the evil, but fighting evil with Jesus’ love.

A few years ago a minister at our revivals preached on Matthew 12:36. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

Idle refers to careless words – word spoken without thought. The minister applied this verse, not just to the words we speak, but all words. Sometimes we write, text, post, link, or share words that we would never speak to someone’s face. Spoken words vanish into the air in an instant, but God said that we will give account of each word. How much more will we be accountable for the words we write on social media that can be read, reread, and shared?

Today’s Challenge: When I think of this topic, I hurt so much I can’t even think of a challenge for today. So I’ll simply ask you to consider this question. Do my words (spoken, written, shared) push eternal souls toward God or away from God?

Note: In a few days, I’m going to ask you to get your phone out of your bedroom. So if you use your phone for an alarm clock, purchase an alarm clock today to get ready for this challenge.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 12


Have you ever used Philippians 4:8 as your guide for online reading?

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.”

We can’t see the defiled and think on the ugly and believe lies without it affecting the health of our souls. Not that we need to stuff our heads under the bed and only think about rainbows and fluffy kittens (or dust bunnies); sometimes the truth will be uncomfortable. But all online reading needs to be done with discernment through the lens of Scripture.

The internet is immensely helpful, and I value it for research. But Google remembers what I’ve read online and will continue to give the same kinds of information in future searches. This is helpful when searching for a local restaurant, but less helpful when seeking unbiased information. I need to be aware of how gullible I can be and how my bias can make accurate research difficult.

Today’s Challenge: When you read online, pause to ask questions such as “How do I know this is truth? Can I verify this data, research, or statistic? Is this opinion being stated as a fact? Does this person have the qualifications to teach on this subject? Does this line up with the truth of God’s Word?”

Note: I wrote this 31-Day Phone Challenge over a month ago, but, as some of you have mentioned, current events make this even more needful. What would change if all the believers in the US spent more time in prayer for our country than we spent reading the news or sharing our opinion?

Monday, January 11, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 11


Most of us would not eat dinner out of the garbage can. It might contain some morsels of good food, but when it is mixed with garbage, it becomes defiled.

But what are we feeding our mind online? There is lots of good information online, but it is mixed with lies and deception. Unfortunately, anyone can write anything online. Many people purposely or unintentionally spread misinformation.

When I first got email, I forwarded an interesting email to friends. You can probably guess what happened. I found out the email was an urban legend. After a few similar mistakes, I learned to check one of the online sites such as to fact check. But it is hard to remember. A funny gif, viral video, or disturbing meme is so easy to share. It is almost impossible to avoid rumors, gossip, and outright lies online.

Social media doesn’t care about accuracy. They care about clicks. And the more sensational and controversial the post or video, the more it is remembered and shared—even if it is not true. Outrage gains our attention—and the goal of social media is to grab, and keep, our attention.

We must compare what we read and hear to God’s Word and to reliable information. But if we are spending far more time on social media than in God’s Word, how will we know truth?

Today’s Challenge: Read Psalm 1. How can we be like that well-watered tree? How can we avoid being wind-blown chaff?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 10


I don’t even want to address this topic. And I won’t say the word since I don’t want my blog flagged. But the statistics of evil online use in our society is appalling. And that includes Mennonites. Some of you have men in your life who have battled this addiction. But I’ve talked to women who are frustrated that sermons are always pointed to the men, because they too struggle with using sensual media, whether in images, movies, or books.

Satan tells us that we can indulge in sin in the privacy of our phone, and it won’t hurt anyone, but nothing is hidden from our all-knowing, omnipresent God. Someday everything done in secret will be revealed. Our browsing history is a permanent record before God unless we cleanse it by the blood of Christ.

James 5:16 gives us a battle plan. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Ignoring sin will kill you, just as ignoring cancer or signs of a heart attack doesn’t make it go away, but only allows it to become worse.

Victory can be found in Christ if we confess, repent, and become accountable.

Today’s Challenge: Pray for courage to confront the areas of your life that need changed. Confess any sin God reveals, and then tell someone about it.

I tell my children that if anyone asks you to keep something a secret (not talking about birthday surprises) then that is the thing that you need to tell your parents. And the same is true for us adults. If Satan is encouraging you to hide something from others, that is the thing that you need to reveal in order to break sin’s grip on you. Begin to pray that God will give you a trusted person to be accountable to.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 9


Social media can bring a sense of inadequacy. With the “like” button, we can compulsively check our score – to see how we measure up to others.

Of course we are usually comparing our worse day with the carefully curated display of our friends’ lives. One friend sent me a photo of a pretty plant in her dining room, then zoomed out to show me the whole room, which was a disaster. That kind of honesty isn’t often posted on Instagram.

Many studies have shown that the use of social media brings a lower self esteem and higher rate of depression. Depression rates increase with the more time that is spent on social media, especially for teens.

2 Corinithians 10:12 says that those who compare themselves are not wise. Most of us can quote the verse, but how are we living it? Do we continue to visit sites that feed our struggle with comparison? Some of us struggle with jealousy more than others, and your envy trigger will likely be different from mine, but do we knowingly put ourselves into places that I know will breed discontentment?

I need to be honest and say “When I get on this site, I struggle with fear (or envy, or discontentment, or anger, or…)” and then proactively take steps to avoid those emotions. Maybe the first step is to admit it to a friend. Then be willing to delete apps, unsubscribe, or delete what is not building the fruit of the Spirit on your life.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22

Today’s Challenge: Start a thankfulness list. (And yes, this list can be on your phone.) You could even give yourself a challenge such as “I won’t get on Instagram until I’ve added to my thankfulness list.” Ask a friend to hold you accountable. At the end of the week, you can even check your phone tracker to see how many times you were on social media to see if you met your thankfulness goal.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear says that the best way to start a new habit is to bundle it with a habit you already have. So if you want to start a new habit, such as be more grateful, connect it to a habit you already have, for example, social media. If you stop and give praise to God every time you reach for your phone, your spirit will have a greater lift than the dopamine that social media can give.


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