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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Miranda Writes: An Idle Mind Is . . . Healthy?




by Omar Miranda



My grandmother always used to tell me, “Omar, an idle mind is the workplace of the devil!” Of course, this meant that for ADD me, if I wasn’t on-task doing some kind of chore or something else my grandmother wanted me to do . . . I found something naughty to do. Well, my grandmother was right about my propensity to get into trouble, but ha-ha, recent research shows that she was wrong! I’ll tell you, not her—I’m still afraid of her, and she’s only four foot three
Anyhow, I just read the findings from a recent study showing that too much texting may make youth shallow. If you’re interested, here’s the link so you can look it up yourself: http://teens.webmd.com/news/20120203/can-too-much-texting-make-youth-shallow.

While less texting would be great news for your parents, pastors, or anybody else challenged to get and keep a teen’s attention and keep cell phone bills under the cost of the gross domestic product of a small South American country, the real benefit is that less texting means more pondering. What? Don’t know what I mean? Let me explain a little more about the findings of the study, how it relates to our Christian life, and how we can apply it to our relationship with God.

The researchers basically found that young people ages 18 to 22 who texted more than 100 times in a day “were 30 percent less likely to feel strongly that leading an ethical, principled life was important.” The eggheads theorized—and I agree—that everybody (especially teens) need downtime during their day. This downtime is important because it gives people time to think about or reflect on the things they’ve done, said, and thought during the day; time to be still and rest their brains. Eggheads, I mean researchers, believe that when the brain is in this default mode (almost like a car that’s on but not moving), it provides valuable time to think about life. That downtime is crucial, and distractions, such as frequent texting, can keep it from happening like it needs to.

One of our key founders, Benjamin Franklin—who incidentally felt very strongly that our national bird should have been the turkey—also felt very strongly that an individual should set aside a certain portion of every day to think deeply about how they had treated their fellow humans and how it stacked up to their own goals, mission, and vision. But what’s happening more and more in this hurried, crazy-busy world is the simple fact that we’re all too busy, and if we’re taking away those little vacations of quietness and stillness in a sea of going-ness, well, the results aren’t good, and now we have evidence of this. Now, don’t get me wrong. The researchers didn’t say that teens who texted a whole bunch didn’t think about stuff; they just didn’t think deeply about stuff. In fact, the word they used for the hyper-texting teens’ thinking was “shallow.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be called a shallow thinker. In fact, I don’t want to be called a shallow anything. Last, the researchers said that heavy texters seemed more materialistic and less concerned about inward growth—harsh, but true!

So what can be done about all this, why is this important for our Christian life, and how can we apply these things to our Christian life?

Well, the first thing that needs to happen is that we need to make time to do . . . nothing! That’s right! It’s important that we schedule downtime. If you’re an overtexter—I believe I just made up a new word; somebody please call the dictionary people—you’ve got to work real hard to take breaks from the texting. Ask a trusted friend, parent, or adult to hold you accountable. Set a time you’ll put the cell phone down, get off the computer, and turn off the TV, MP3 player, or whatever electronic or other thing you’re connected to, and focus, I mean really focus, on connecting with God and what He means to you.
Jesus, in the midst of His most productive time during His three-year ministry on earth, took time to, well, be with God. The Bible records times when after a crazy-busy day of tending to other people, He took time to be by Himself and hang with God—sometimes He would do it all night! The point was that if Jesus saw the importance of taking time to be still and reconnect, shouldn’t we?

Believe it or not, the Bible has a lot to say about making sure that we not only take time to slow down and be still, but also focus our minds and attention not only on what our lives are about, but on who they’re about as well. Jesus made it very clear that we need to be careful to have the right focus in our lives. In Mark 8:36, 37 He says, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (NLT).¹

When I used to do martial arts, I was taught all about meditation and how to empty my mind or focus on some nonsensical word with no meaning like “OOOHHHMMMMM” to focus my mind on everything . . . and nothing (I promise, I’m not making any of this up). But the whole purpose of real meditation is to focus your mind and attention on something related to the goodness of God. I find it interesting that when the word “meditation” is mentioned, Christians freak out and think about it as a dirty word. But what you need to remember is that God invented meditation. Satan took it and twisted it into what we see in today’s martial arts and movies, such as the Star Wars blockbusters (“Luke, empty your mind . . . stretch out your feelings”),  but the original purpose of meditation God’s way is medication.

You see, the right kind of focus is medicine for our souls and heals us from the damage that this world does to us. God’s meditation isn’t about emptying your mind, but instead about choosing to focus your focus on God and all that He is. David says in Psalm 119:55, “Even in the night I think about you, Lord, and I obey your Law” (CEV).² Later on in this chapter, he again exclaims, “I deeply love your Law! I think about it all day. Your laws never leave my mind, and they make me much wiser than my enemies. Thinking about your teachings gives me better understanding than my teachers, and obeying your laws makes me wiser than those who have lived a long time” (verses 97-100, CEV). Then again in the same chapter, David is so excited about God, he can’t even sleep, saying, “I lie awake at night, thinking of your promises” (verse 148, CEV).

You can choose to focus your mind on God and His Word in some simple ways: read one verse a day and purposefully choose to think about it and what God is saying to you through it all day long. If you’re like me, you need to be a little more focused on how you do that. Because of my ADD and resulting brain damage from all the foolish foolishness I used to do, I have a hard time memorizing scriptures I haven’t read a bazillion times over, so I like to write new Scripture passages on 3” x 5” index cards, and then I buy one of those little metal circle connector dealies (again, another Omar-ism) and just carry it around with me. When I have some downtime at a stoplight, in the grocery line, or just wherever, I pull out the card and read it, and then I either just think about it or talk to God about what He wants me to learn about it. Either way, I draw closer to God by purposefully thinking about Him and His Word.

Whether you choose to give your mind a break and let it “idle,” or focus your mind on God’s Word during your downtime, I know you’ll be rewarded with choosing to live a life that is balanced on loving Him more, knowing Him better, and doing His will.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

  ¹Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
    ²Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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