Watch what you watch!

December 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm 6 comments

As a pastor of Gracepoint Davis Church, one of the big challenges I face is the long winter break — not for myself, but for the many college students who are home with a lot of time on their hands and a lot of media at their fingertips.  College ministers are familiar with the winter break blues, where many students come back with regrets, shame, and guilt after having wasted loads of time.

Well, I read a little book a while back (Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, edited by C. J. Mahaney) that had a bunch of good questions to ask before one goes out for a movie, pops in a DVD, or connects to the Internet.  I’m sharing some of it here for your edification: (pp. 57-58)

Time Questions:

  • Am I skipping or delaying something important in order to watch this now?
  • How much time have I already spent on media today?
  • How much time have I spent surfing the Internet? How much time have I spent blogging or maintaining an online presence through social network sites?
  • In the last week, how much time have I spent on the spiritual disciplines, building relationships, or serving in my local church compared to time spent consuming media?
  • After investigating the time to view this, will I look back on it as time well spent?

Heart Questions:

  • Why do I want to watch this program or film? What do I find entertaining about it?
  • Am I seeking to escape from something I should be facing by watching this?  Am I seeking comfort or relief that can be found only in God?
  • What sinful temptations will this program or film present?
  • Do I secretly want to view something in it that’s sinful? Am I deceiving myself by saying, “I’ll fast-forward through the bad parts”?
  • Similarly, am I telling myself, “I’ll just visit this web site once, and I won’t click on any other link I find there”?
  • Am I watching because I’m bored or lazy? If so, what does that reveal about my heart?
  • Am I watching simply because others are? Am I trying to be relevant or to fit in?
  • How have my online relationships impacted my face-to-face relationships? How has my online activity impacted my soul? For better or worse?
  • What motivates me to create and maintain a blog, MySpace, or Facebook presence? Am I attempting to impress others? Am I being prideful, slanderous, deceitful, or self-righteous?

Craig Cabaniss, who wrote this chapter in the book, adds: (p.59)

After reading these questions, you may get the feeling that practicing discernment is a lot of work.   It can be, but it’s worth the careful deliberation because the goal is lofty: discerning what pleases the Lord. By asking these sorts of questions, we may find that although a certain program is acceptable, spending the time to watch it may not be beneficial. Think about Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians: “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up” (1 Cor. 10:23).

I want to thank Craig for reminding all of us the importance of spending our precious time on things that build up (rather than break down).  Let’s all spend this winter break on things that pleases the Lord!

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:8-10]

Entry filed under: About Life, Leadership Lessons, Ministry Lessons. Tags: , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dennis  |  December 22, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Hello Pastor Jonathan! Thank you for sharing this! Another tangible way to make the most out of our time can also be to limit the internet through filtering software. I have one younger brother who was very encouraging in that he said that he wanted to limit the amount of time he was on the internet so using SafeEyes, he limited his internet usage to just an hour or two during the day for the break. That was very encouraging and something that really challenged me to make the most out of my time and to concretely battle against complacency.

  • 2. Gene  |  December 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you Pastor Jonathan for these words of wisdom. I definitely need to discern about what pleases the Lord especially when I’m given so much time. It’s definitely true that when I’m in a situation in which I feel like I have so much free time, there is always that temptation to wastefully use it for my own pleasures and comforts. I was struck and convicted by Galatians 6 in that I need to stop sowing to the flesh and instead sow to the spirit. I will commit to at least doing some of the concrete things you suggested in the email. Thank you Pastor Jonathan once again for these words of encouragement!

  • 3. EHsia  |  December 23, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Thanks for this sharing Pastor Jonathan. Those are some really hard hitting questions for all of us to consider in this media-driven world. I will definitely be sharing this with my students here in SF.

  • 4. echow  |  December 23, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Thank you for this post Pastor Jonathan! It’s very timely as there are so many people going back home for winter break, and this is definately useful for all of us who will be going back home for Christmas!

  • 5. jennchen  |  December 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Pastor Jonathan 🙂 These tips are especially useful over the long break we students have!

  • 6. md  |  December 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    thanks for sharing from Mahaney, p. jonathan. you’re right. its so easy just to watch a movie and zone out and not think and waste time. there’s definitely a lot of ways in which i can use my time in a more edifying way. nothing wrong with some movies, but i find that being with people and doing something active is fun and can be more fulfilling.


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About Joong “Jonathan” Lee

This weblog contains thoughts & reflections as I pastor Gracepoint Austin Church (previously at Gracepoint Davis and Berkeley Churches) and engage in various ministries.


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