This is kind of a bomb-shell post in many ways!
It’s certainly a very humbling post to write as essentially it is a confession of weakness. I am a flawed man with a dangerously addictive personality and I am very aware right now of my failures and my frailties. However, I am also a man who is firmly gripped by and grateful for the matchless grace of God. Some of you are going to read this and think I’m a pleb. That I’m being stupid. Impetuous. Over-reacting. Others are just not going to get it at all. Still others, primarily those who know me, will be understanding, supportive and, I hope, prayerful.
So what’s this all about?
In short – I’m unplugging to plug back in!
I’ll start from the top…
We don’t have terrestrial TV in my house. I haven’t had TV since the late 90’s. Why? Because as a single young man living on his own I wasted too much of my life watching utter junk on TV. Especially late night junk that involved way too much flesh and fornication than was good for my soul. I tried to hit the off button. Sometimes I actually did. More often than not though, I just sat there – a weak-willed man wallowing in filth. For me, I was only ever going to be free if one of 2 things happened – I cut the cable or cut off my right hand! Thankfully, I am typing this with both hands. But the TV had to go! It was one of the best decisions of my young Christian life. My mind was free, my sleep was deep. I had slammed the door in Satan’s face and it felt good! Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think TV is wrong. Far from it! But for me this was, and continues to be, the right thing to do!
Was it defeat? In a way, yes!
Was it also victory? Absolutely!
I think I had to just be brutally honest with myself. To confront my weaknesses and to face my frailties. Romans 12:3 says:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
I was not the super Christian that I so wanted to be. But after killing my television, neither was I falling into sin like a lemming plunging off a cliff every night. Self-denial is the key to developing self-control, and is only possible by raw self-awareness. I am weak. But there is divine power for those who can own that!
However, just because Satan didn’t get to destroy me back then, it was certainly not the end of his sinister strategies to take me out of the game. Slam the door in his face and you can guarantee that he’ll soon be trying to force his way in through the window. He had failed to seduce me away from Jesus. So he employed an altogether different strategy – distraction!
Fast forward a decade and my introduction to the iPhone. Oh my days! What an epic bit of kit. My emails, calendar, news and sport, my ENTIRE music collection, internet wherever I go, epic camera, sat nav, games and videos for the kids, BBC iPlayer…
…but SO dangerous for a man with an addictive personality!
Add into the mix my introduction to the world of Twitter and things got…out of hand. Ask those closest to me and they will tell you that I have long struggled to find a healthy balance between connecting with people on Twitter for mutual encouragement and edification, and placing WAY too much value on retweets, follower counts, positive/negative comments etc., as well as finding it hard not to get sucked into all sorts of hype, as well as creating much of my own! My good friend, James, has often questioned whether I would, could, or even should be a Twitter quitter. And with good cause, I mean check out what I typed into my Notes app a year ago:
Why quit Twitter?
- I attach too much value to it.
- I give too much time to it.
- I receive too much hurt from it.
- I have fewer authentic relationships because of it.
- I have been too misunderstood through it.
- I have had enough of it!
However, it’s one thing to acknowledge these things. Taking radical action is something completely different! Suffice to say – I didn’t take any action…until now!
A few weeks ago I posted this article about an amazing opportunity to combat human trafficking in Cambodia by donating your iPhone for the purposes of capturing information that can be used to shut brothels, prosecute pimps and rescue young girls who have bee sold into sex slavery. I posted it hoping that others would donate their iPhones. However, not for the first time, God was about to tell me to be the answer to my own prayers!
At first I dismissed the idea of being separated from my precious iPhone – I mean, how else could a busy man like me keep up to date with emails? How could I share photos of all the great things I’m involved in? How could I instantly tweet those inspirational thoughts that the world simply can’t live without? But then the soul searching really began and as I battled to be honest with myself – here’s what I came up with:
- Back in the day the FIRST thing I used to do when I woke up was reach for my Bible, read scripture and pray. Today I reach for my iPhone, check email, Twitter, Instagram and the news (in that order).
- Back in the day when I had spare time I would read a book, write lyrics or pray for others. Today I put my hand in my pocket, pull out my iPhone and waste time browsing or engaging in pointless banter.
- Back in the day when I was with them my family they had me to themselves. Today there’s so often a 3″ screen that comes between us.
- Back in the day those I was with would have my full, undivided attention. Today they do…until my iPhone beeps or I remember I should have sent that email or I just have to see how many likes that sunset photo I took earlier now has.
- Back in the day I didn’t care what people thought of what I did or what I said. Today I’m permanently obsessed with, even governed by, the opinions of others.
- Back in the day when things were hard my first port of call was to pray about it. Today the first thing I do is tweet about it.
- Back in the day I loved to meditate on Scripture. Today I procrastinate on Twitter.
- Back in the day I was a devoted disciple. Today I am a distracted disciple.
But this is what clinched it for me – I don’t think I have EVER been as close to Jesus since having this technology in my pocket as I was before. That might sound dramatic, but I know my heart and I know my life and I know that it’s true. And I know that as a man who loves Jesus and wants to lead his family, church and community to Jesus – that can’t be allowed to remain the case.
So I’m taking evasive action!
First things first I have ordered an old school Nokia 3310 (aka Brick) mobile that does phone calls, texts and not a lot else! Once that arrives I’m shipping my iPhone off to Cambodia in the name of freedom, justice and Jesus!
Secondly, no camera phone = no Instagram. So you’ll just have to guess how beautiful the sunsets in Trevethin are from now on!
Finally, I’m going to stop using my Twitter account this weekend and delete it completely next week. No offence to my 2000+ followers, I’ve made some genuinely amazing friends on there, received huge encouragement through it and, by God’s grace, been used to encourage others. But enough is enough. Jesus is better and I just want to be living for Him. For His glory. For His smile. Twitter doesn’t help me to do that. It distracts me and pushes me down the pathway to pride.
So it has to go.
Let me qualify all that with this statement. I don’t believe that either smartphones or social media are inherently sinful. Not at all. They can be, and often are, used to the glory of God. But they CAN be used destructively by Satan and so, as Christians, we need to be wise and courageous in how we use them:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (1Corinthians 6:12)
For me, like with the TV thing, I believe that drastic action is necessary for the sake of my walk with God, my relationship with my family, the example I set my kids and my sharpness as a pastor. So please do pray for me in these coming days. Pray that the fruit of this decision will be all of those things I just mentioned, because that will make this a godly and worthwhile sacrifice!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
God bless you guys.
All for Jesus
PS – I’ll still be blogging here and the Twitter accounts for Hill City Church (@hillcitychurch) and the Courageous men’s conference (@CourageousCMC) will still be fully functioning – so please continue to subscribe / follow them.