Are we addicted to our smartphones

I wonder how many of us have been asked the question “are we addicted to our smartphones?” If so what would our answer be? Would we have the courage to be honest with ourselves and say yes?

One of the things that frequently amazes me is watching groups of people sitting in a restaurant together ignoring each other and staring at their smartphones. Sometimes I see two people in a restaurant, who are obviously out on a date, and instead of talking to each other they are both engrossed in their smartphones.

Last week Apple at their Worldwide Developers Conference spoke about ways to make people use the iPhone less. They are going to introduce features that will show how long we spend doing various things on our phones. Google have also been talking publicly about this too.

Why are we obsessed with constantly looking at our smartphones? Why is there the constant need to keeping checking social media updates? Are we afraid of missing something? Will our lives be worse off it we are not looking at our smartphones?

I remember the BBC speaking to some school children about their use of social media. It was suggested to them that they switched off their smartphones for an evening.  The feeling was if someone did this they would not know what everyone was talking about the next day at school, as they were usually discussing what was posted on social media the previous evening.

Six ways to break our addition to smartphones?

    1. Switch off notifications on your smartphone – it’s not compulsory to have notifications switched on! If we switched them off our phones would not constantly keep going off. We therefore would not have the urge to check what the latest notification was?
    2. Switch off your mobile data on your smartphone – again it’s not compulsory to have this switched on. If it’s not switched on then you will not be able to check what’s happening on-line. If anyone wants to contact you they still can by text or a phone call.
    3. Switch on aeroplane mode on your smartphone – this is my favourite! No-one can contact you if you switch this on. You can still take photos on your phone and you will save battery life too. I always use this when I go to bed so that I will not be disturbed!
    4. Have short breaks from using your smartphones – Richard Madeley wrote last Saturday in the Daily Express that “starting today (9 June) I’m switching my phone off at weekends.” If a weekend seems too much why not try an evening per week?
    5. Stop using your smartphone – Simon Cowell said last week he has not used his phone for 10 months and he felt the better for it. Maybe for most of us this is a bit extreme and not practical but it’s an interesting observation from him.
    6. Practice self-control – Ultimately it is all about self-control. Will you let your smartphone dominate your life? The apostle Paul when writing to the churches in Galatia listed self-control as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23). God has given us the means to beat this addiction (or any other one). We need to seek Him for the fruit of self-control in our lives.

 

Knowing how to find the answer

I arrived at church and upon seeing me a member of our congregation hurried over and asked me if I knew how to copy a dvd over to another dvd. (He had a dvd containing some footage of someone who had recently died and he wanted to pass a copy of this onto the surviving spouse). I replied that I would email him some links to show him how to do this.

This is where I let you into a little secret. I didn’t actually know how to do this myself! However, I was confident that I could find out quite easily. So I did what I normally do in these situations and typed the question into Google “how do you copy a dvd to another dvd in Windows 10?”

Immediately a number of links came up including a You Tube tutorial on how this is done. I had a quick look at the various links and choose five that I thought were appropriate and emailed them across. I was not sure whether he would require further help so I awaited his reply to see how he got on.

Not long after I got a reply saying that he had downloaded the software required and had successfully copied the contents of the dvd to another dvd. He was very grateful for the links that I had sent him and expressed his thanks that I had assisted him.

I found this quite a strange scenario. I’m always happy to help people who ask for my assistance with computer problems they are experiencing. However in this situation all I did was type the question he asked me into Google. Whilst I didn’t actually know the answer to his question I knew how to find the answer.  I wondered why he had not done that himself and concluded that perhaps the thought had not crossed his mind.

Just as my fellow Christian was seeking an answer to his technical question there are others who seek answers to the important questions of life. Why are we here? What is the point of life? What happens after we die? Why do people suffer?

You could certainly Google those questions if you wish however my answer to them would be to point you to a bible verse in Isaiah which was instrumental in Charles Spurgeon coming to faith in Christ:

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)

I’m not suggesting that you will never have any further questions if you turn to Christ. However as believers we can trust these words of Jesus:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

 

 

 

Reading Whole Books of the Bible

Permit me to ask you a question? Do you ever sit down and read whole books of the Bible straight through?

There are of course many different ways in which we can read the Bible e.g. a chapter at a time or a section of the scriptures each day. Some people like to focus on one particular verse and meditate on that. Whilst others might like to study a theme e.g. love and focus on verses in which that is mentioned.

Over the last few months I have increasingly become convinced of the importance of reading through whole books of the Bible and when possible doing this at one sitting.

You might be someone who, as mentioned above, prefers to study a chapter at a time. My suggestion to you would be to read the whole book through a few times before you start your study to get an overall high level view of the book. For example if you decide to undertake an in depth study of 1 Peter read it through every day for a week before you commence your study.

If we take the New Testament letters, they were written to either churches or individuals and often address specific problems that were being faced. By reading straight through the letter at one sitting we can get a feel of the whole letter. It is very unlikely that the original recipients of the letters would not have listened to the letter being read straight through.

When we read a book straight through it is harder to take verses out of context and apply a meaning to them that was not the original intention of the author. We see the context in which these verses were written and how they form part of the narrative of the book.

If someone writes me a letter (or email) I would not read half of it today and the other half tomorrow. So why would I not apply this to my Bible reading?

I know not everyone finds it easy to sit down and read. I am not an avid reader myself but if I find an enjoyable novel then it’s no problem for me to read 50 pages at one sitting. If I can do this with a novel why should I not do this with my Bible reading?

For anyone who has never read straight through a book in the Bible at one setting there are plenty that can be read in about 20 minutes, e.g. Galatians or Ephesians.

Why not make it your ambition to try and read straight through individual books of the Bible and see how it enhances your reading of scripture.

No One Likes Change

Let’s be honest we don’t really like change do we? Most of us are normally quite happy with the status quo and like things to remain exactly as they have always been.  We like what we are comfortable with.

I’m reminded of the character Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory who always has the same food on a set night each week e.g. Monday night is Thai takeaway, Friday night is Chinese takeaway etc.  If anyone attempts to change this routine then they meet fierce resistance from him.

I find myself worryingly adopting similar tendencies when I visit local restaurants. In each restaurant I always have a favourite that I select each time I visit. If a restaurant removes my favourite item from the menu it throws me into total confusion! In fact I stop going to that particular restaurant. How dare they change the menu!

CHANGE AT WORK

There have been many changes in the working world over the last few years. The world of work has changed beyond recognition during the time I have been working.  When I first started work we did not have PC’s. We recorded the number of transactions we did by hand in a big ledger. I wonder what today’s young people would make of that.

I remember a number of years ago when I first encountered spreadsheets. Back in those days we used Lotus 1-2-3 and my initial reaction was resistance to them. One of my colleagues was very good at writing formulas in Lotus 1-2-3 and I was not. This was a change I did not like!

Now fast forward to the present day and I really enjoy working with Excel spreadsheets and trying to find quicker ways to complete tasks! I couldn’t imagine a world without spreadsheets now.

Technology has brought many changes to the workplace over the last 20 years. I suspect that there will be many more to come. How will I embrace these changes? Will I be willing to change and be adaptable or will I yearn for a return to the old ways?

CHANGE AT CHURCH

The following story of a conversation between a new vicar and a church warden illustrates the problem we have with change in churches:

Vicar: “How long have you been coming to this church Fred?

Church Warden: “I’ve been coming here for over 20 years.”

Vicar: “You must have seen a lot of changes over those 20 years.”

Church Warden: “Yes I have and I have resisted all of them!”

This year my church will be merging with one of our sister churches to form one new church. Both churches currently have very different styles of worship. The plan is to hold two services which will reflect the differing styles of worship that both congregations have at present.

Both churches at the moment meet for worship at 10am. However, going forward that is going to have to change, probably for both churches, as we will need to fit in two services during the morning. I personally like worshiping at 10am. It’s very convenient for me! I would rather we kept worship at 10am but that is unlikely to happen and I will have to accept this change.

We are in the process of advertising for a leader for our new merged church. Whoever gets this position will be responsible for ensuring that this merger goes ahead and planning how this is done.

There will no doubt be a number of changes over the forthcoming months and years. Some of these changes will be well received and some I expect will probably be resisted. What will my response be going forward? Will I resist every change and long for a return to the ways things are now? Or will I embrace change and prayerfully accept changes including those that I do not like?

As Christians we must always be open to embrace any changes that God wants to do in us. In John’s 15: 1-2 Jesus says

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Jesus will prune the branches. Change is both good and necessary.

Change is for us. Don’t let yearnings for the past hold us back from change