“Can you hear Me now?By Jason Hooper

“Can you hear Me now?
This question was made famous several years ago through a clever cell phone advertisement promoting the promise of more consistent coverage with clear connection leading to quality communication. Many of us, when we hear that phrase can still picture these commercials today.

While this advertisement was directed at potential cell phone customers, many of us have also experienced a similar daily example of this type of issue from time to time while attempting to log on to the internet to work, shop, communicate and connect online. The root issue behind this weakened wifi signal for many of our mobile devices and computers is simply a limited connectivity because of the heavily congestion digital world in which we live. 

While the potential of our day is unprecedented, the distractions warring against that potential and propagating the misuse of privileged access to the world around us is also unprecedented. I heard it said recently that 90% of what we call typically identify as warfare in life and in the church is simply distractions that we choose to engage and embrace.

To properly partner with the present potential of technology and connectivity it is both helpful and healthy to recognize when we find ourselves having too many devices and distractions pulling us into too many directions. Unneeded Distractions can often lead to unnecessary destruction. 

Death by Distraction
Distraction simply means to have one’s thoughts, affections or attention drawn away. Isaiah tells us in chapter 26 verse 3, that God “…will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” That word “stayed” means to be fixed upon and committed to at all costs. God promises peace to those whose minds are stayed on Him, fixed upon Him and what He calls Truth as we live with daily commitment to the disciplines and directions found in His Word while following the Spirit's leading in every area of our life. 

Distraction may not appear painful at first, but when left unchecked it can lead to various forms of destruction resulting in a lack of focus, loss of vision and hope deferred. Proverbs 29:18 tells us, "where there is no vision or no prophetic revelation, people perish casting off restraint and self control as they live a life absent of divine focus (paraphrased from the NKJV, NASB, AMP, ESV and NIV translations of the Bible). 

I personally love to study all forms of history, especially Church history. It has been said that those who do not know know history, or have failed to learn the lessons it provides are destined to repeat it.

Thankfully in God's great grace and mercy we never fail God's tests in life we just keep getting to take them over and over until we pass. When we seek to learn the invaluable life lessons of those who have gone before us paving the way in their day for our day, we can actually enter into the promoted places in life and God that they were believing for and pressing into (See Hebrews 11:39-40).

Along with Church History, I have also always been intrigued by Military History, studying past civilizations, their leaders and the methods they used to protect those things near and dear to the valued cause of their country and it's corresponding comforts.

With this vein of study, I stumbled upon a mid-evil form of torture commonly referred to today as being drawn and quartered (or separated into four parts). Interestingly this form of capital punishment leading to dismemberment was often commonly called “Death by Distraction” in it's day. 

If someone was sentenced to “Death by Distraction” they would be forced to have each of their four limbs tied to four different horses pointed in four different directions. Once securely connected to each of these soon to be destructive lines of distraction, the horses would sent in different directions tearing the proposed perpetrator apart from the inside out. 

As hard as that is to read (and if you are visual person like me ... to picture with your mind's eye) this painful history lesson has obviously apparent application to today's overly connected society along with it's daily habits and disciplines or lack thereof. How many of us to day find ourselves too easily distracted and too often disconnected from those core values in our life that we say matter most?

Often times in this place of distraction, we are simply allowing things to matter more that do not matter most. How many of us have experienced what felt like dying a slow death as we allow our minds and hearts to be drawn away from the Lord?

Throughout scripture we see the invitation and reward of seeking God with our whole heart, not allowing our lives to drift with the tides of distraction that often lead to misdirection and an absence of God’s promised peace for those who keep their hearts and minds stayed on Him. 

"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:12-13

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” 2 Corinthians 16:9a

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8

Trouble Connecting?
Not too long ago we, as a family, were experienced some prolonged internet issues at our house and we tried everything to fix it. We bought different routers, we changed passwords, we removed and then added all of our devices back online one by one to see if there was one particular “device” that was creating the continued lack of connection and inconsistent bandwidth strength. While this was a time consuming and frustrating process, I gleaned a valuable insight and lesson from it. 

Throughout this process, the Lord began to show me that although we have been given incredible tools and devices that have unlimited potential to help us create and connect in new and better ways, these same incredible tools can also (if we are not careful) weaken the more important signals and transmissions in our lives as they tirelessly tie up our much needed bandwidth in a way that bogs down our hearts and minds (similar to how it does our devices).

It is in those times we need to do a hard restart as we reboot our personal and spiritual points of connectivity. Once the Signal (God's Voice and the leading of the Spirit) becomes strong and clear in our hearts again, we can then begin to add activities ("devices") back online one by one to see which devices or activities are really producing life for us and for others as opposed to those which taking life from us.

Restarting A Heart that Hears
We've all experienced that dreaded computer crash when working on an important document, drafting an important email or as we are attempting to finish up our online Christmas shopping!  When this happens, we are often also given the choice to restart or reopen what we were previously working on or engaged with.

Most of the time, I am so relieved to see this message and the second chance it provides, but at times it also often gives me caution as I realize there was probably something (or a multitude of things) at work in the background of my operating system creating an unnecessary systems drain while creating various operating issues within my machine and that is, of course, not something  any of us would want to restart or reopen. 

In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul encourages us to not be ignorant of the devil’s “devices” and while we know that the devil’s devices are aimed for your head and your then your heart, sometimes what you hold in your hand could be wrongly empowering an unnecessary issue within your own soul causing you to give away some of your most valuable resource - your time and your focus to things that really don’t matter a whole lot in the bigger picture of your life. 

When that is the case, it is best to unplug a few things so that you can reset and restart some daily habitual disciplines (Matthew 6 is a great place to start). Then as your signal strengthen returns, you choose to be intentionally mindful about what to empower and bring back online.

It has been said that any time you endeavor to incorporate a new task or discipline, you have an 85% success rate. However, as soon as you add a second thing that success rate drops down 30%. Herein lies the wisdom in bringing one activity back online at a time so you can recognize what "devices" tend to pull on you and your bandwidth in a way that causes other areas of your life to suffer. 

It’s like a friend of ours says, “We must never allow something to matter more that does not matter most. When we do, we find ourselves only doing as well as life appears to be going in that moment.” Meaning if your heart isn’t fixed on Him, it's about to be broken by someone or something else because your hope and your trust have been deposited in the wrong places. 

This is what happens when we allow our hearts to be pulled into a place of worry (distracted by so many things) living by what we see and out of a place of worship, where we are living our life based on what God says (For we walk by faith, not by sight - 2 Corinthians 5:7). Interestingly, the Greek word for Worry (Gr: 3309 merimnao) actually means to be anxious, distracted and to divide into parts (which sounds a lot like “Death by Distraction!”). 

God wants all of us and while He is always ready to receive the part of us that we are willing to give, His desire is always for our whole heart and our whole life so that we can experience the abundant life of Jesus in a way that makes us whole and causes us to live a life of overflow! Today is a great day to realize the parts of your heart that have been divided and distracted by other things, weighed down by the cares of this world and surrender those areas of your heart to His thoughts toward you and about you (see Jeremiah 29:11) as you choose to restart your heart’s commitment to the Lord’s Word, Will and Ways in a posture of Worship. 

Pastor Jason