Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Dominate Your Devices

"Are you using your device? Or is your device using you?"
~Denzel Washington

Last week, I broke my fast with some inspirational videos. One of the videos opened with an interview with Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, talking about our phones. The quote above filed its own place in the filing cabinet of my mind.


Many people (including myself) have fell victim to this nagging need to keep our phones on us at all times. Even before we make a mad dash to the bathroom, some of us grab our cell phone (I'm guilty!), which brings me to this question:
Do I control my devices, or do my devices control me?


**DISCLAIMER**  THIS IS NOT AN ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA/SMARTPHONE RANT. This blog is my written testimonial of how I personally overcame social media/phone addiction, and to bring awareness.  Social media, when used responsibly and with good intentions, can be a wonderful tool!  The key is to use it RESPONSIBLY. 

About five years ago, my uncle and aunt wanted to have dinner with me and my mother before they got back on the highway to head home. They bought dinner and came by my mom's house.  We all gathered at the kitchen table to have dinner.  To be honest, that was the first time, in a long time, that I sat at the table with family to eat dinner.  Usually, each person would find a spot near the television and eat.  I found myself grabbing my phone before sitting down to break bread with my family.


My uncle, aunt and mother ate and talk, while I ate and scrolled. 
Suddenly, I had a check in my spirit: Put that phone down.


Photo courtesy of Google
**Not my photo**




"Am I boring to you?"


My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) asked me that question while we were riding in the car.  As he drove, I scrolled through Facebook.  I didn't realize that he noticed, much less bothered him.  That question struck a chord with me; it made me realize that the time dedicated to spending time together, I gave away to social media. 
The irony is this:  there was a time when I felt the same way my husband did.


A guy I dated years ago scrolled away and texted others while I sat next to him on the couch. He was physically there, but he was mentally (and spiritually) elsewhere. One other time during our conversation, he would occasionally look up at me from his phone to respond, then look back at this phone. While he listened to me talk (at least I guess he was listening), his eyes, for the most part, remained glued to his phone's screen.  And the very same way he treated me, was the way I treated my boyfriend (now husband) during that drive. The phone and all of its glorious apps had my undivided attention. That was a slap-in-the-face reality check. 





Photo courtesy of Google
**Not my photo**


I remember seeing a cartoon of two pictures, side by side, of a family sitting on the couch. 

One picture was from 1950s era I believe, where the family were sitting together, watching television or listening to the radio.  The other picture, however, pictured the family in today's era. They were all sitting together, but each person was on their phone or tablet, oblivious to one another. Even the family dog had a tablet, much to my amusement. It's a sad, yet accurate depiction of many people today.  I've noticed how there are many children under age four who can operate a cell phone before they are potty trained!  No judgment, just an observation.

I believe there is a hidden agenda to create an addiction to and dependency upon technology.  There is almost an app for everything--from creating a budget, to tracking your ovulation, to losing belly fat "fast!"  First, smartphones. Now we have "smart TVs." We have an invisible chain linking our wrists to our phones and we thirst for WiFi.  I gave my android another name: "Glorified Tether."


There is this "thing" that triggers our brain to think, "Oh, let me check Facebook; let me see who liked or commented on my post."   There are several scientific studies as to why many are so dependent upon social media and phones. One of contributing factors to social media addiction is called DOPAMINE. The following is an excerpt from this article.

"Physiology: Brain Chemistry Leaves Us Craving More “Likes”

Neuroscientists are studying the effects of social media on the brain and finding that positive interactions (such as someone liking your tweet) trigger the same kind of chemical reaction that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs.
According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes, when you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical messenger called dopamine along a reward pathway, which makes you feel good. Dopamine is associated with food, exercise, love, sex, gambling, drugs … and now, social media. Variable reward schedules up the ante; psychologist B.F. Skinner first described this in the 1930s. When rewards are delivered randomly (as with a slot machine or a positive interaction on social media), and checking for the reward is easy, the dopamine-triggering behavior becomes a habit."  For more information, click this link from an article posted by Harvard University.

Privacy and safety are things of the past. Many post their whereabouts with the "Check In" feature on Facebook, tagging their physical location. Every move, every post is tracked. When we download an app, in order to utilize the app, we must give the app "permission" to access our contacts, photos, microphone and more. The question is, why?

The scariest thing I've noticed, which was a major contributor to my decision to depart from the social media scene, is how an ad would pop up on my social media pages after having a discussion about the very thing being advertised! I recall talking to my husband on the phone about some granola bars we both enjoy. After getting off that phone call, I logged into Instagram. During my scroll, an Instagram ad, for that exact brand and flavor of granola bars, was in my feed!  I didn't even know that company even had a social media page and following! It was one of the freakiest, most intrusive moments I'd ever had. I felt some kind of way after seeing that. It happened again after a conversation about potato chips.  Same brand and flavor that was discussed, was an Instagram in that same time frame.  These are the moments where I miss the simpler times before Internet and androids. 

After my departure from social media, I felt this huge relief. Relief from taking, filtering and posting the perfect selfie that gained the wrong attention more often than not. Relief from the need to know what was going on with the 1,000+ "friends" I had. Relief from being bogged down from the negativity and schism that trafficked my pages. Relief from having my peace disturbed. 

As I reflect upon how life was prior to the year 2000, I realized that these things available to us now are simply modern conveniences; they haven't made life any more enjoyable. In fact, it crippled and decreased real life, person to person interaction and connection. It created more frustration because the self-esteem of many are now dependent upon a Like and the Love button. Social media is so prevalent to where some people believe things aren't valid until it's posted.  Here's an example: You're in a relationship? It ain't "real"
until you post about it and change your status from Single to In A Relationship/Engaged/Married. You're running a business? You "gotta" have a social media page.  Most of my clients were actually gained through real life connection and interaction; not an Inbox. 


God's original plan and purpose for mankind was to dominate the earth (Genesis 1:26, 28). We are supposed to have dominion; however, we've allowed things to have dominion over us. Take your rightful place and dominate your device. If you are having trouble being attached to your phone and/or social media, ask God to help you in that area. With the help of the Lord, you can break that addiction. He will help you for He is our present help!

Check out this video.


I hope and pray that you were inspired.


Shairon 


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

GRUDGES

Have you ever seen something so powerful, yet so disturbing at the same time?

Well, I have.

A couple of days ago, I was cleaning out my email. I came across one email advertising the new movies that are either coming to theaters soon or are already playing.  In the email, there was a movie poster promoting a new movie entitled, The Grudge.  The image was truly disturbing.  As I tried to quickly click away from that email, I got a revelation about grudges.

In the movie poster, all you see is a wall and the back of a man's head.  It appears as if he's holding his head in frustration; but from within his hair, there are fingers in a grip position, as if a hand is growing out of his head and gripping the back of his head.  Really creepy photo and yet, it captures the true essence of a grudge. (You can Google it: "movie the grudge")

By definition, a grudge is "to dislike or feel angry toward someone for something; to be unwilling to give or admit." It's like that thing has arrested the mind and heart of that person--to not be willing to let go or forgive someone.  It's like the movie poster--a third hand with a vise grip on your mind.
That grip from the grudge stops the flow of love and forgiveness within you.  The grip from the grudge diminishes your peace.

Photo courtesy of Google
**Not my photo**

What does the Bible says about grudges?  Well, it says plenty.

Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG says, "Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you."

Quickly and thoroughly.  Forgive quickly so that the grudge of hurt, bitterness, anger, etc. will not take root. Roots are pretty tough to dig up.  If you pull a weed and neglect to pull it up by it's root, the weed will grow back.  Therefore, it must be uprooted.  We forgive thoroughly, meaning, don't forgive partially.  Don't forgive for one thing while holding on to another grudge against that person.  Forgive entirely just like God through Christ Jesus forgave us thoroughly.

Proverbs 19:11 TPT says, "A wise person demonstrates patience, for mercy means holding your tongue. When you are insulted, be quick to forgive and forget it, for you are virtuous when you overlook an offense."

I know some of you are like, "Forget?!  I can forgive, but I can't forget it!"  No judgment; I've said and thought that, too.  However, we serve an awesome God who can wash away those memories you've been harboring.  Serve an eviction notice on those negative thoughts and grudges.  Give those things and that person(s) who hurt you over to God.  All it takes is a made-up mind and a sincere desire to be free from all grudges and negativity.  Do you know that even your offering will not be accepted if you are holding a grudge or if you know someone who has a grudge against you? 
Read Matthew 5:23.  Forgiveness and letting go are pretty big deals with God.  After all, He forgave us and our filthy selves.

Some of you may be saying, "But you don't understand what they did to me!  How can I forgive them?"  One time, I heard Heather Lindsey say, "forgive by faith."  Make that your prayer and confession, and ask God to help you!  Here's another nugget:  pray for them.  Like, earnestly, pray for them.  Pray for their mind, their heart, their soul.  And of course, ask God to infiltrate your heart with His healing touch.  Don't pray for them to "get got."  Pray for God to have mercy upon them. 
Jesus is our greatest example to follow.  The very ones who ridiculed Him, spat upon Him, beat and mocked Him, while He was dying on the cross, He asked God to have mercy upon them.

Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."
Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them.  The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, "He saved others. Let's see him save himself. The Messiah of God--ha!  The Chosen--ha!"
(Luke 23:34-35 MSG)

They were taunting Jesus while He was dying on the cross. They were gambling on His clothes while talking smack.  Jesus didn't ask God to open the ground and swallow them up; He asked God for forgive them.  What display of grace and forgiveness!

Here is a sample prayer:

Father God, in the mighty name of Jesus,
Thank you for another day of grace and mercy.  Father, I come to you with a heavy, broken heart. 
I know your Word tells us to forgive, and I ask for your help.  Help me to forgive ____________.  Lord, I thank you for helping me to forgive, and by faith, I have forgiven them.  Lord,  you instructed us to love our enemies, so Father, help me to love ___________.  Just like you looked beyond my faults, help me to do the same.  I thank you for healing my heart, my mind and soul.  My mind is renewed in the things of Christ.  I am no longer bound by grudges.  Thank you Lord, for setting me free from grudges and negativity.  This I ask in Jesus' name, amen.


Here are some additional Scriptures on grudges to read in your spare time:
Proverbs 10:12
Proverbs 15:1
Matthew 5:23
Philippians 4:2 MSG

Do not forsake your peace; pray, forgive and let it go.

In His Love,

Shairon 

** For information on my editing services and doTERRA essential oils, or if you would like to book me for essential oil classes and/or speaking engagements, visit my newly updated website! SLT Inspirations LLC

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Buried for Breakthrough!

Good afternoon and Happy New Year 2020!

I am looking forward to seeing all that God has in store for His people this year!  I'm looking forward to phenomenal testimonials about breakthrough, seeing harvests from seeds sown in years prior, and much more!  If you've read my year-end blog, "Bold, Without Bounds," you'll see my testimony of an answered prayer.  After almost a year of severe writer's block, God released a new flow of writing in me.  

Today is day one of Heather Lindsey's Journal Challenge. This is my third year participating and I'm so excited to see what God will reveal over the next 20 days (it's a 21-day challenge). The point of this journal challenge is to create a lifestyle--a daily habit of spending intentional time with Jesus through prayer, Bible reading, reading a faith-based book and journaling.  We journal our thoughts, whatever downloads we get from Scripture, whatever Holy Spirit whispers to us, etc. This is a vertical encounter--dedicated time between yourself and Jesus.  I believe there was a study done that shows that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I believe that's why this challenge is 21 days long.  However, the goal is to keep the ball rolling after the challenge is done.

In the midst of reading Heather's email about day one, she said something so profound, which resulted in God giving me the title of this blog post (Thank you Jesus, thank you Heather!): 


"What happens when you press through? You GROW...
when you press through, you will see results in your life."
~ Heather Lindsey

Of course, in this context, she was referring to pressing through with being committed to this challenge. Being committed to creating intentional time between yourself and Jesus, ultimately seeing the results of God's word being quick and active in your life. However, I had a vision of a small, teeny tiny budding plant breaking through fertile dark soil. Before it can break through the shell of the seed and ultimately through the soil, there are stages of germination a seed must go through. I think that it is safe to say that virtually everyone over age 10 knows that planting takes time. You will not plant a seed and see a fully-grown rose or tomato in that same day or week! If you do, that's terrifying because it simply goes against nature. 

I do not want to create a lengthy blog post on botany and then expound upon the spiritual parallels, so I will condense it as much as I can.  And I think I found a great segue to bring this "already-long-enough" post on home.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, germination is "the sprouting of a seedspore, or other reproductive body, usually after a period of dormancy. The absorption of water, the passage of time, chilling, warming, oxygen availability, and light exposure may all operate in initiating the process."  All of these factors are parts of the initiation process.  It takes a few steps just to start the process of germination before it can even sprout.  For further reading, go hereWhat stood out the most is dormancy. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines dormancy/dormant as "not doing anything at this time: not active but able to become active." 

I'm sure the revelations are rolling in right now! Most times, we have to be still and know that He's God (Psalm 46:10).  It may seem like you're not being productive or not moving forward. Maybe you are in a state of dormancy to prepare for spiritual germination. In anything you're endeavoring to obtain, there is a process.  Sometimes, it is short; more often, it's lengthy but necessary.  I never heard of a kindergartner going straight to the 12th grade. I never seen a woman conceive a child then immediately gives birth to a full-term, seven-pound baby; there's a growing process in between. Same in the spiritual. As newborn babies in Christ, we are fed the milk of the Word; then we grow onto spiritual maturation, where we receive transformation and revelation. We go through, to get to!

Buried for breakthrough.  I would say that the first thing that comes to mind when we hear "bury" or "buried" is something that's dead.  But in some cases, that's not so. Ever heard of "buried treasure"? The treasure is buried because someone is trying to hide it.  Why hide it?  Because that thing is precious and valuable.  So, if you feel like you're buried, it's not because you're dead; it's because you are precious and valuable.  God got you "hidden" for a divine purpose.  There is isolation (separation; set apart) before elevation.  A seed is separate from other plants, placed in the soil.  But in a matter of time, that budding plant breaks out of the shell of that seed and is elevated above soil!  Look at the picture below. The budding plant comes out hunched over; however, as it grows, it gains its true color, straightens up and stands tall!

Photo courtesy of Google.
**not my photo**


The pressures of life may be weighing you down--bills, relationships hanging on by a thread, issues at home and/or at work, business struggles, marriage problems, health, dealing with the challenges of growing children, etc. Just know that all of these things are working together for your good.  At the risk of sounding like a song, it is all making you wiser, stronger and so much better (thank you, Marvin Sapp). It is through the nourishing water, light and power of God's Word that helps us break through and burst forth, flourishing in all of His goodness, grace and mercy.  In the natural, a seed needs water and light to grow. In the spiritual, Jesus is our "living water" (John 4:10, 14) and the "light of the world" (John 9:5).
We may come out hunched over and scarred, but before you know it, you will stand tall to tell everyone, "I made it!"

If things seems to be heavy (pressure of top soil), or at a stand still (period of dormancy), it's not because you are dead; you are buried for breakthrough!

I pray that you were encouraged!

In His Love,

Shairon 

Scripture references: 1 Peter 4:12-13, Romans 8:28

** For information on my editing services and doTERRA essential oils, or if you would like to book me for essential oil classes and/or speaking engagements, visit my newly updated website! SLT Inspirations LLC

**For information on The Journal Challenge, click here.