4 Reasons to Anticipate the Return of Jesus

4 Reasons to Anticipate the Return of Jesus

Does your typical day have an eschatological focus? Do you long for the return of Jesus? As we go about daily routines, too often our lives become routine. It seems as if there is a missing purpose at times to simple conversations in the community and other less-than-glorious responsibilities like changing diapers or mopping the kitchen floor. Are you anxiously anticipating the return of King Jesus or do you find yourself reading your Bible and doing life disconnected from the precious promise that Jesus will return? Consider these four reasons why you should anticipate the return of the King of the Universe.

Anticipating the Return of Jesus Impacts How We Worship

As John the apostle worshipped God on the Island of Patmos, he longed for the return of Jesus. In the second to last verse in the Bible, we find these words, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). As we look back at the promises of God’s redemptive plan and consider our place in that timeline of history—the thought of Jesus’ return should shape our worship.

When we sing songs in public worship that include phrases about Jesus’ return, it should cause our worship to be heightened. The thought that Christ could return today is a humbling thought, and to be singing and worshipping him and contemplating his return should make our worship of God more rich and meaningful. Charles Wesley penned the words to his carol titled, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”—we see that we are to consider the Old Testament saint who was longing for the coming of their Deliverer. However, by the end of the short hymn, we see that there is an eschatological focus for us today:

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

What about the Lord’s Supper, is your focus when you remember the body and blood of Jesus merely focused on what Jesus did in the past or do you also long for his return? Remember what Jesus said about observing the Lord’s Supper? He commanded that his followers would remember his sacrifice and anticipate his return (1 Cor. 11:26).

Anticipating the Return of Jesus Increases Our Confidence That the Righteous Judge Will Judge Sin

All through the Psalms, we see the Psalmist pleading with God to judge sinners and law breakers. Notice the language of the Psalmist as recorded in Psalm 69:3, “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” This is a common pattern that we see repeated all through the Psalms as we have before us the raw emotions of desperate people who long for God to bring judgment upon the wicked.

As we live in this broken world filled with sin—we too long for the day when Christ will return and judge with perfect and precise justice. On that day, the eternal Judge will judge judge everyone rightly and sin will be no more. When this judgment takes place, the celebration of sin and all of the ripple effects of sin will be brought to a sudden halt. There will be no mistrials, no mistakes, and no person who can make an accusation against the sovereign Judge who judges in perfect righteousness. Every ounce of injustice that we endure in this life will be completely satisfied in Jesus. For that reason, we should join John the apostle by saying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Anticipating the Return of Jesus Provides Renewed Zeal in the Area of Missions and Evangelism

Do you often consider the simple conversations that you have on a daily basis? What about that person that you talked with on the subway this week? What about the Uber driver that you talked with last week? What about the person in the coffee shop who talked with you as you waited on your Frappuccino to be served? The God who rules the Universe also directs the steps of us all—and there is no “chance” conversation that we have in a single day.

If we anticipate the return of Jesus—it will change how we look at such conversations, friendships, family connections, and work relationships. We will look at people through an eschatological lens and our conversations will suddenly have a much deeper purpose. We should not look at people as “projects” or opportunities for notches in our evangelistic belts, but a proper anticipation of Jesus’ return will cause us to engage in disciple-making at a much deeper level.

Furthermore, as we anticipate the return of Christ it will often redirect our priorities to be less self-focused and more Kingdom-focused. Why would we pile up resources to use for our own pleasure and temporal joys when the world needs to know the true joy of Jesus Christ? Longing for the return of Christ doesn’t make you hate taking vacations, but it will certainly prevent you from wasting your resources without any care for the lost world that is perishing around you.

Anticipating the Return of Jesus Causes Us to Long for the Day When All Things Will Be Made New

Life is full of broken roads. We have all walked difficult paths and experienced the effects of sin. We all stand before caskets of friends and loved ones with tears streaming down our faces. We know what it’s like to say good-bye to people we love. Have you experienced the feeling of loneliness and pain when the doctor provides you with a troubling health report? Such broken roads are difficult to walk—and yet we must endure as we anticipate the return of Jesus.

We live in-between the already and the not-yet reality of the rule of Jesus. While Jesus has defeated death and paid for the sins of all of his people, we still live in the world of brokenness and sin. Such reality is heavy and burdensome at times. But, we live with hope of a Christian that Jesus rules today from heaven’s throne and that he will one day return in visible victory for the whole world to see. When Christ returns—all things will be made new.

At the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis depicts the lion (Aslan) walking off into the sunset. Lucy runs to the balcony and sees him walking away and with a sad countenance, she is comforted by Tumnus who says, “We’ll see him again.” Lucy responds, “When?” Tumnus reassures her, “In time…you mustn’t press him, he isn’t a tame lion.” Lucy responds, “No, but he’s good.”

We can live each day with the reality that Jesus is not a tame Lion—but he is good. When the Lion of the tribe of Judah returns he will make all things new. There will be no more death, no more tears, and no more pain for the former things will have passed away. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

3 Reasons Why Younger Christians Should Attend the Funeral Services of Older Christians

3 Reasons Why Younger Christians Should Attend the Funeral Services of Older Christians

When was the last time you attended the funeral service for a young person?  The funeral home was most likely swarming with people of all ages—young, old, and middle aged.  This is the typical pattern for such funeral scenes.  However, it’s not terribly uncommon for you to walk into the funeral service for a 90-year old church member and find the funeral home nearly empty.  Where is the disconnect?  Where are all of the young people from this person’s local church?  Sure, school is in session and work is not stopping for the majority of the church—but what message are we sending to our children when we check them out of school for the funeral service of a 16-year old who died in a car accident but we miss the funeral service of a 90-year old man who finished his course well for the glory of God?

In our present culture, it’s almost as if we expect the older generation to die—so attending their funeral isn’t really that important.  As we consider such matters, I want to urge you to reconsider the importance of being present for the funeral service of older Christians in your local church.  Sure, you may have to miss work and your children may have to miss some school on that particular day, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Children Need to Hear Godly Eulogies

Far too many funerals contain ungodly music, shallow meaningless stories, and often shower praises upon people who were rather ungodly and loved the world more than God.  The word eulogy is derived from a Greek origin “eulogia” meaning praise.  The English word means—high praise.  Your children will attend far too many funerals that do not honor God and do not have Godly eulogies.  Your children will witness people receiving high praise who certainly do not deserve it.  Our culture is notorious about lavishing praises upon the dead even if they didn’t deserve it.

As young people grow up in our spiritually confused culture, they will hear people being praised and preached into heaven who had no desire for God in this life.  With all of the confusion that abounds, young people need to hear solid eulogies that make sense (Rom. 12:2).  They need to hear older people highly praised for a life well lived for the glory of God (Ps. 116:15).  As they sit and hear good eulogies that are directly connected to verified lives of older saints who go before them in death—it builds up and strengthens their faith.  The children in the local church need to hear examples of faithful saints who served and invested their lives in the ministries of the local church. They need to hear 1 Corinthians 6:11 testimonies that emphasize the past tense of loving sin contrasted with a present tense love for God that never ended.

Children Need to See Faithful Church Members Finish Well

Voddie Baucahm, in his book, Family Driven Faith, shared some startling statistics.  He said, “70-88% of teens, who profess Christianity, walk away from their faith by the end of their freshman year of college.” There are many factors that lead to such tragic statistics, but one thing to remember is that children from a very early age need to witness older Christians finish their course well—persevering to the end in the faith (Phil. 1:6).  Children will see too many people enter the church and drop out, fall away, and prove their faith wasn’t genuine (1 John 2:19).  Young people need to see real Christianity put on display in relentless and faithful perseverance (Luke 13:24; Heb. 4:11).

Sure, it’s a horrible tragedy when a student is suddenly taken in a car accident.  Such funerals are worthy of attending and can provide numerous teaching opportunities.  However, consider the value of putting before your children faithful older Christians who refused to deny the faith, stayed the course to the end, and died as faithful followers of Jesus after walking with Jesus for many years.  That’s worthy of missing a half a day of school—right?  Young people who are bombarded with a constant stream of the trivial and temporary need examples of faithful people who looked beyond this life to a city whose maker and builder is God (Heb. 13:14; Heb. 11:10).

Children Need to Learn to Honor the Seniors

As a pastor, it grieves me to see many church plants that look like a Millennial coffee club rather than a local church.  Where are the aged?  Are they needed to plant churches too?  Younger Christian parents—you want your children to have other examples to imitate in the faith besides you (1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 6:12; Heb. 10:36). I’m afraid that we often devalue the older generation in our local churches.  We place a great deal of emphasis on youth, young families, and reaching the younger generation while at the same time overlooking the goldmines of knowledge and wisdom who sit near us on the Lord’s Day during worship (Job 12:12).  Sure, they style their hair differently (what hair they still have) and wear clothing that is not suitable for the younger generation, but they have a treasure chest of experience as older Christians to share with the church—if we allow them into our lives.

One way to teach the younger generation the importance of missing the second half of the school day to attend the funeral of an older church member is by spending time with such members before they die.  Look for ways to teach young people to honor seniors beyond pressing them to read and understand 2 Kings 2:23-24. Look for opportunities to overlap in life, ministry, worship, and fellowship (see Titus 2).  Consider bringing such church members into your home for lunch after church and providing intentional opportunities for your children to know the older generation in your church.  Face it, when we want our children to excel in a specific sporting event—we often put good examples before them on YouTube or ESPN. We should desire for our children to learn to value the older Christians in our local church in such a way that they will cherish the opportunity of honoring them on the day of their funeral.  The next time a 90-year old faithful Christian within your local church dies—take the day off and take your children to the funeral with you.

Football: America’s Leading False god

Football: America’s Leading False god

Fall is quickly approaching, but prior to the changing of the leaves on the trees will come Friday night lights.  If the Christian life is the pursuit of God— countless families are on a relentless pursuit of football.  Obsession is an understatement.  Fanaticism is normal.  The sport of American football is perhaps America’s leading false god.  Some 36.2 million children in America play organized sports.  Out of that number, approximately 1.2 million boys play organized football in America.  The game is played by young children in recreational leagues, middle and high school, college, and if you’re good enough—you can suit up and play on the Lord’s Day.

In case you’re wondering, I have no axe to grind when it comes to the game of football.  I enjoy the game itself and I’m coaching my son’s flag football team this season.  I was recently asked about this very issue in a pastoral questions and answers session, so I thought an article would enable a more full response. I am concerned with how passionate people can become over a game—far more so than they are about the gospel and their service for the Lord.  When 7 of the 10 Commandments are frequently broken on an average NFL game—we should take note.  Consider the way football changes the lives of so many people throughout America—even those within the church who profess to be children of God.

Football Determines Schedules

In many towns throughout history, athletic leagues looked to the calendar of the churches in town prior to organizing their events so that they would not overlap plans and regular worship schedules of the local church.  Today, local churches are looking to the athletic leagues as they plan their yearly schedule to avoid overlap with the local football or baseball teams.  In today’s culture—stadiums are overflowing while churches are empty.  Many families have replaced the worship of God with the worship of football.  In many ways, athletics as a whole has become an idol.  Football has emerged as perhaps the largest false god among the group.

Not only the schedule of the local church, but football drives the schedule of the family who has children who participate in the game of football.  Consider how many things are shuffled around to cater to the football schedule.  In many cases, families are brought to a crossroads decision—will “little Johnny” go to church on Wednesday with the rest of our family or will he go to football practice or a game at the local school?  Will “little Susie” attend the church’s gathering or the football game as a cheerleader?  These are real decisions that are being determined on a regular basis by professing Christians.  Such decisions are vital and will have a lasting impact on the spiritual lives of children and families.

Football is the Highlight of Sunday

After a long week of football practices, games, and maybe one church service on Sunday morning—the average evangelical family makes their way to the lunch table.  Typically, the family gathers for the meal with the roar of the first of many NFL games on Sunday as the familiar background to the conversation.  Conversation around the table is broken up as the father points out the long touchdown pass to the wide receiver.  This may not be true of all evangelical families, but in the American south—this is quite the normal Sunday for Christian families (see David Platt’s vivid description).

Following lunch, the men of the house typically gather in the living room where they binge on every possible NFL game throughout the day.  They flip back and forth through various different channels to keep up with the latest scores, the latest standings, and eventually land on ESPN late in the day before the evening games begin.  In many cases, the family is too tired from a busy week to attend church, so they agree to rest and enjoy family time which involves more games in the evening.  However, they know that Monday is coming—so they agree to get to bed before midnight in order to be rested for a long day of work followed by Monday night football.

When you view a list of the most viewed television shows from history, 19 out of the top 20 are football games.  Specifically—the Super Bowl.  What day are those games played?  Sunday.  It also happens to be one of the least attended worship gatherings for churches across the nation.

Football Confuses Priorities in Life

What is the purpose of Sunday?  Certainly the Christian and the non-Christian would give different answers to this question, but how is that question lived out in life?  Why is the Christian family more consumed with football than Jesus—especially on the Lord’s Day?  This is a cutting question that must be addressed individually.  One answer will not suffice to cover the entire population of Christian football families needless to say.  However, anytime something is out of balance in life—whatever is causing the imbalance will likely confuse the priorities of children who are watching and playing.

I was recently made aware that a local church not far from where I serve organized an entire service around the beginning of football season—complete with a football theme.  A football celebrity was invited to speak, the pulpit was draped with his jersey, and the entire service was about overcoming trials and never giving up.  The Word of God was replaced with the word of a celebrity.  Churches today are frequently inviting players, coaches, and team chaplains to speak in church services.  After all—it draws a crowd!  This is one more clear mark of a downgrade in evangelicalism.

Christian children need the gospel more than football.  No amount of physical discipline on the football field can replace the spiritual discipline of deep rooted gospel discipleship, preaching, and teaching.  No amount of physical perseverance in life can replace the need for spiritual perseverance in the gospel.

When fathers spend a large amount of time and large sums of money on football, equipment, tickets to the game, tailgating expenses, and spend very little energy in the body life of the church—such a testimony speaks volumes about the god the father worships.  Either God is perceived as boring and irrelevant or the children of the family are left to discern if their father is actually worshipping the god of football rather than the God of holy Scripture.

Israel had to be warned over and over again about bowing to the false god of Baʿal.  American Christians in our day must be warned about bowing to the false god of football.  Eric Liddell may not have been a football player, but he did run fast.  Priorities matter.  Character matters.  In short—God matters.  The gospel is essential.  It is my prayer that you will make gospel-focused decisions as you approach the upcoming football season.  Charles Spurgeon said the following in a sermon in 1863:

O ye sons of men, think not that God is blind. He can perceive the idols in your hearts; He understands what be the secret things that your souls lust after; He searches your heart, He tries your reins; beware lest He find you sacrificing to strange gods, for His anger will smoke against you, and His jealousy will be stirred. O ye that worship not God, the God of Israel, who give Him not dominion over your whole soul, and live not to His honor, repent ye of your idolatry, seek mercy through the blood of Jesus, and provoke not the Lord to jealousy any more. [1]


1. Charles Spurgeon, “A Jealous God” — Sermon 502, March 29, 1863.

 

Dear Christian Student

Dear Christian Student

Can you believe that school is already starting and now the summer of 2017 is another page in the history books?  This is the ebb and flow of life, and it moves swiftly.  As you begin this new school year, it’s important to remember that this year is gift from God—one that you should not waste.  As a Christian on your school’s campus, take time to consider the following points as you kick-off this new school year that should be viewed as an opportunity.

Remember—Light Is Not For Hiding

As a Christian student, you are to shine as a light on your school’s campus.  Never forget that a city on a hillside cannot be hidden, nor do people hide lamps beneath baskets in their homes.  Light is intended to shine into the darkness and that’s God’s will for your life.

Matthew 5:14-16 — You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Look for open doors to communicate the gospel to your friends during this school year.  God did not create you by accident, save you by chance, and place you on your school campus through a random process of evolution.  You were created by an all-knowing and sovereign God for a purpose.  God saved you for his eternal glory and placed you on your school’s campus during this year of human history for a divine purpose.  Don’t hide your light at lunch, in the locker room, or in the science classroom (even math points to God).  Look for opportunities to build good friendships with Christian teachers and other Christian students as a means of working together to reach your campus for Christ.

Theology Matters

All of those stories you were taught in Sunday school and sermons that you sat under have prepared you for this moment.  Your theology of creation will be tested this year.  Will you have an answer?  As you study biology and physical anatomy, it is very probable that your theology of human sexuality will be called into question.  Will you have an answer?  You see, it’s vitally important that you never disconnect the whole of your life from the center of Sunday’s sermon.  Never lose sight of the fact that your worldview (how you see the world) is very much connected to the sermons and lessons from a typical Sunday and family devotions in your living room.

Theology matters and everything you believe about God, life, marriage, and family will be tested throughout your education process.  This year, something you believe about your God and how he saves sinners will be questioned.  It’s important for you to have an answer and to be prepared to have unplanned theological conversations in the hallway or over lunch with friends who simply don’t understand.

What If You Never Graduate?

Every school has been marked by tragedy at some point in the school’s history.  I can tell you stories of people that I once knew who never made it to graduation day.  It may happen to someone at your school this year.  It could happen to you.  Even the young are capable of dying.  So, what if you never make it to your graduation ceremony?  How will you be remembered?

Will your friends recall your bold unwavering stance on the gospel?  Will your reputation point to Jesus Christ?  Guard your reputation and remember that your character matters.  Everyone has a legacy to leave behind, and far greater than any statistic in the world of athletics is a faithful Christian testimony.

You only have one life to live—no reset buttons—don’t waste this school year.  A wise old preacher named Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said:

A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.

 

Is It Sinful to Use Profanity?

Is It Sinful to Use Profanity?

What differentiates one word from another – making one word a profane word while another is considered normative?  Why is one “four letter word” different from another one?  It’s not always based on the precise definition of a word.  Instead, it’s based on how that word has been used in the culture.

Profanity Abuses Vocabulary

Grammar matters.  How we employ vocabulary is important in spoken word conversations, social media conversations, and in more formal written forms.  The use of profanity often involves ripping a word out of its context and intended usage.  For instance, it’s possible to take a word intended to convey a really dark and horrid meaning and use it for something that’s far less worse than its original context.  This happens when people use the word hell in the improper manner.  When people say, “I had a hell of a time last night at the party” they’re intending to mean that they had a really good time.  We can be sure of one thing, hell will not be a fun or delightful place for anyone to find themselves.

To be damned is a really horrible thing.  To consider what it means to be damned by God is a bit overwhelming just by looking at the vocabulary words often associated with the judgment of God in Scripture (agony, darkness, fire, smoke, punishment, torment, weeping, gnashing of teeth, pain, and more).  To be damned by God is to be cut off and sentenced to the eternal flames of hell where a sovereign God unleashes His holy wrath upon guilty sinners.  Therefore, to use the word damn in a slang manner in response to accidentally spilling your glass of water at the supper table is to completely miss the true meaning of the word.  This misuse takes something like the damnation of sinners which is so woefully beyond comprehension and raises it up to the level of spilling a glass of water at the supper table.

One additional example would be the way in which people use the name of God in vain through common everyday conversations.  This is a common error that occurs when a person takes the name of God and flips it so that it’s used in a negative manner.  People do this often with the name of God.  When someone is frightened and they exclaim, “O Jesus, that scared the life out of me”— that individual is usually speaking to someone other than Jesus when making that statement.  In other words, when one friend makes that statement while speaking to another friend, the name of our Lord (a glorious name that’s above every name – Acts 4:12) is being improperly substituted as a slang term.  This same type of thing can show up in the use of text messages where people use OMG to refer to something really bad or really funny, when that certainly isn’t the proper usage of God’s name (Ex. 20:7).

Whatever your opinion is regarding the use of profanity, it’s clear that profane words often distort the proper definition and intended use of a word.  It would be wise to make sure we’re using vocabulary properly in order to preserve the true meaning of such words.

Profanity Provides a Cultural Identity

Beyond the abuse of vocabulary is the cultural identity that’s attached to the use of profanity.  This is where we move beyond morality to Christianity.  The followers of Christ have been called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of God’s grace (1 Pet. 2:9).  We should strive to base our lifestyle decisions on Scripture and move beyond the realm of cultural morality.  Therefore, when we teach our children to refrain from using swear words (cuss words, profanity), we typically try to teach them why based on Scripture—not just because mom and dad said it.

  • Christians should seek to be identified with Christ rather than the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  • Christians should not be people who use filthy or foolish language.  Notice that Paul places this this warning in the same context where he issues warnings against sexual immorality.  Ephesians 5:4 says, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
  • Christians should maintain a certain appearance that honors Christ.  Titus 2:10 says, “not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”  On this subject, see also 1 Thess. 5:21-22.
  • Christians should not be rude people.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reads, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  • Christians are called to build people up with language rather than tearing down with corrupt word choices.  Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

In our home we have a profanity filter on our television that (most of the time) prevents foul language from entering our living room.  It’s not that Kari and I are seeking to be overly protective of our children or sheltering them from the real world.  In fact, the propensity to use foul language is certainly in our children from conception, they simply haven’t learned the grammar until they grow and develop their vocabulary.

From time-to-time, my children will tell us that one of their friends used a “bad” word.  We as parents try to explain why this is not wise and then point them in the right direction from a biblical context.  Our goal is not straight and narrow moralism.  Many people go to hell everyday who were morally decent and spoke with a clean tongue.  We want so much more for our children than acceptable morality.  We want them to grow to love Christ and to reflect the love and glory of Christ – not just with their worship and service, but also with their choice of vocabulary.  We want our children to pursue holiness rather than the crudeness of our culture.  While we know that the tongue cannot be tamed (Jm. 3:8), it’s our duty as Christians to exemplify a life that honors Christ, and that includes the way we speak.  We must remember, our choice of language reveals much about the contents of our heart (Lk. 6:45).

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Look Up, Listen Up, and Enjoy Life

Look Up, Listen Up, and Enjoy Life

This past Monday, I returned home from a lengthy trip to a remote section of the Colorado mountains.  I spent 12 days with my father and two other men on an elk hunting trip where we were packed high into the mountains by horseback, dropped off at 11,000 feet of elevation, and left there for the next 8 days to make camp and survive.  The entire process was challenging.  We hiked 7 miles up the mountain while the horses carried our gear.  We had to collect water from a nearby lake on top of the mountain and prepare it for consumption.  We had to cut firewood and use it in the wood burning stove to provide heat and for cooking.  Although I learned many lessons about life during this trip, I learned one important life-lesson—look up, listen up, and enjoy life for the glory of God.

One of the most challenging aspects of the trip was the fact that our only form of communication was an InReach GPS device.  It was capable of sending text messages, but we had no other form of communication.  No FaceTime, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Gmail, no Internet, no cell phones, and no politics.  We went the entire time without hearing the voices of our wives or children.  That, by far, was the most challenging part of this entire trip.  Although a true challenge, it was a good digital-detox.

What I noticed during our time together was that we spent time looking at one another in conversation without the constant barrage of interruptions that we have learned to tolerate in our connected culture.  When was the last time you considered the amount of time you spend looking down at a device rather than into the eyes of people in your presence?  When was the last time you carried on a conversation with people without being a distracted listener due to technology?

As our trip came to an end and we hiked back down the mountain, by the next morning we were within cell coverage once again.  Our phones started to ping cell towers and download all of the missed text messages and e-mails from the previous 10 days.  As we traveled 30+ hours across the United States back to Atlanta, I couldn’t help but notice the vast number of people on the road who were sitting in the passenger seat scrolling down social media outlets on their smart phones.  Many of these people were missing majestic mountain ranges and beautiful scenery (except for the time on I-70 through Kansas – not much to see there).  When was the last time you found yourself passing through beautiful mountains, interesting cities, or simply sitting at your family gathering staring at your phone rather than enjoying the world and people around you for the glory of God?

When we consider that the average American adult spends 5.6 hours per day on a technological device (smart phone, tablet, laptop, desktop), it’s apparent that we are living life through the screen.  What exactly are we missing?  Who are we offending?  What people in our lives are we neglecting?  Is technology really that important to us?  I may have learned about the physicality of elk hunting in extreme primitive conditions on the mountain in Colorado, but it revealed just how connected I am to technology.

It was a difficult challenge to be without cell phone coverage for that length of time, but it caused me to consider how terribly unhealthy it can be to be a normal functioning American citizen with a smart phone.  We should all rethink how distracted from reality we are today.  What are we missing?  What sunsets, birds, flowers, and precious moments are we missing due to technological distractions?  Look up, listen up, and enjoy life for the glory of God.  There’s a big world out there and you don’t need a smart phone to experience the high definition views.  Just look up!

*The picture in the heading was taken on my hike down the trail in Colorado on my final day.  No filters, no e-mail distractions, no social media interruptions, no notifications popping up to remind me of an appointment.