Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Caesar of Leisure Part II

Welcome back friends to Part II of my blog “The Caesar of Leisure” Last time I talked a little bit our obsession with leisure and how it was robbing us of time we could be spending at the feet of our Lord and Savior and time that could be spent with our loved ones in fellowship. This week I will be talking a little bit about some more aspects of leisure that we have to keep checked. One of the biggest trends we see in our culture that even encompasses TV and internet is Busyness. We are always busy doing something and with the invention of the Internet and Television we stay busier than ever. One thing that keeps us way too busy as parents is the false ideal our culture promotes about keeping our children involved in a lot of organized activities. We as a culture are so obsessed with getting our children involved in more activities and events then we have time for. Now again these things are all good but when we try to do too much or feel we have to get our children involved in every activity out there we have the tendency to let these activities dictate our schedules, and I feel we, as well as our children suffer from it.

Trevin Wax writes in “Holy Subversion “Parents taxi children from one event to another, focusing all their leisure time on dance classes, organized soccer, Little League, or music lessons. Many times the children are as unhappy with their hurried lifestyle as the parents, and if given a choice, would simply want to go home”

Does this sound like your family? I know sometimes my schedule can be kind of hectic. So what’s the take away? Well I think we need to prioritize or lives and put some of these activities on the back burner. You should ask yourself how these activities are going to interfere with going to church. How will they fit into family time? How will they fit into personal time? Again these are just observations but it’s something you see all the time. Remember a Christians life should be grounded in the Cross not leisure!

I believe the way to accomplish this is to structure your free time. We need to prioritize our leisure activities so that it’s clear that Jesus is on the throne of our lives. We should make time for daily bible studies and prayer; we should share meals together instead of going our separate ways to go finish watching a TV show. We also need to plan moments of contemplative solitude. Trevin Wax writes “The constant barrage of noise and entertainment today can effectively drown out the voice of God to us, so that even when we open the scriptures, we are too distracted to hear what God has to say.” Trevin also writes “A spiritual discipline that keeps my life centered on Christ is the practice of praying briefly three or four times a day at certain hours.” These are just a few ideals to help us get our focus back on the Kingdom and not on things of this world. How do you spend your free time? I know I waste too much time! God Bless..

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Caesar of Leisure Part 1

Friends for the past week I have been reading this awesome book by Trevin Wax entitled “Holy Subversion”. The premise of this book is about how Christians should be living their lives and what they need to subvert in their lives to really live for Jesus. The term “subverting” in this book refers to “undermining” or “Pushing” something back down to its proper place. Another term Trevin uses in his book is “Caesar”. Caesar of course comes from back in the days of the Roman Empire. During Jesus ministry the Roman Empire ruled most of the known world and the leaders of the Romans were referred to as Caesar, named after Julius Caesar.

The early Caesars had been declared “divine” shortly after their deaths and before long the Caesars began accepting that title of worship during their lives and expected to be treated as such. Everyone under the rule of the Romans were forced to bow down and confess Caesar as Lord. So when he talks about the Caesars of today he is talking about anything we put up as idols and worship instead of worshiping Jesus, these include money, power, sex, self, success and leisure. The Caesar I would like to talk about is one that is dear to my heart “Leisure”

It’s funny that I chose this topic because my brother and I have had many discussions on this topic and I have always came back with my balance theory. That theory meaning you should balance your time with God, family, work and friends. Trevin Wax devotes an entire chapter of his book to this subject and I will be quoting a lot of it. He writes

“We can enjoy the fruits of our labor, admire beautiful art, soak up the glory of creation, and play sports and games for recreation. Yet leisure is all to ready to leave its proper place in our lives and steal the throne. Instead of being a friend to a hard worker, leisure often morphs into a taskmaster that squeezes the life out of us. Just as the early church rejected the addictive entertainment of the Roman games, subversive communities of faith will encourage believers to consciously monitor their media intake. In order to subvert the Caesar of Leisure, we must begin thinking seriously about our free time, structuring our time in order to show that God is our first priority, and focusing our leisure time on people instead of the newest distractions of our entertainment culture”

Does this sound familiar? I will be the first one to tell you I have been bowing to the Caesar of Leisure. I posed this question during our monthly men’s ministry meeting while discussing starting a book study “are we spending as much time in the Word as we are on Facebook” ? This was in response to a question of do we have the time for a book study. What are some other things that fall into the category being a Caesar for our Leisure?

How about TV? We might as well go for the jugular here. Trevin talks a little bit about the good ole Television set and its impact on American culture. John Piper also writes in his book “Don’t Waste your Life” “Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you’re watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels”

Now before you go out and start giving away your TV sets and cutting the cable off like some people have been proud to announce to the world that they have done, sit back and think of ways that you can use the TV to bring the family together and not drive apart. One of the biggest issues with TV that Trevin brings up is the fact that everyone has their own TV and the family no longer spends time together watching it. Again I have this issue in my house as well. With today’s incomes and the low cost of TV’s it’s easy to provide every member of your house to include the dog a TV, and I’m not saying that your family must watch TV together all the time but it is something that at times should be done together. So what is the answer?

Trevin suggests one way would be to practice “intentional TV watching”. That would be getting a movie the family would enjoy watching together and making it a family event, or watching a favorite TV show that everyone enjoys. Some of my fondest memories as a child was watching the “Walton’s” with my family. We had one TV and it was in my Aunt Kay’s room that she shared with my mother (yes we were poor) but that one night a week we would all pile up on her bed and watch what was going on with John Boy and Marry Ellen. My job was to make the popcorn for everyone. But that’s what we did back then and we loved it. My brother Tony and his family do something like this as well. They have a DVR and during the week record a lot of shows they like to watch as a family then on the weekends get together for some family time and catch up on the latest shows they like.

These are just a few solutions for subverting the TV idol. Remember you have more control over television than you know. You have the ability to record multiple shows at once while watching another. Use this to your advantage. Is there is a good show on and dinner is ready? Well record the show and sit down with the family and eat together and when you do get a chance to watch it you can fast forward through the commercials. Well this is all I have for this segment but on part 2 I will be talking about video games, sports, an overbooked calendar and about spending some quite time with God. I will leave you with EPH 5:15-17 ESV “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” Peace and Blessing…Chris

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Death of a Coal Miner

Friends the recent tragedy at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia has been headline news around the world and for people who have lived in mining communities it has really hit home. I am proud to say that I come for a mining family. My father briefly worked in the coal mines and was actually part of a mine rescue team back in the 60's, my grandfather Barnette was a miner, worked as a federal mine inspector and after retirement owned a mine with his sons. My grandfather on my mother’s side was not so lucky. When he was just 38 yrs old he was killed in the mines trying out a new piece of equipment. Below is an article my aunt Barbara wrote in memory of her father. Please continue to pray for the families of those who lost love ones and pray for those who do this dangerous job everyday. God Bless

Death of a Coal Miner
Cebert Dean Murphy
born June 17, 1918 died October 30, 1956 in a mining accident in Vivian W. Va.

Cebert with joy in his face told his wife Agnes, that when he went to work that night, he was going to get to operate a new machine called a “Continuous Miner.” This was a far cry from the time he had to work on his knees because of the low ceiling to load coal with a shovel. Cebert was like a little boy with a new toy...he explained to Agnes that a Continuous Miner cut and loaded coal simultaneously. It would now be possible to cut and load a ton of coal in a matter of seconds. For safety sake, it required an operator and another man behind him to let the operator know when he needed to back out for the roof to be supported with timbers; once the machine cut and loaded a large amount of coal, the operator would back out and timbers would be installed to support the roof.

Cebert left home that night a very excited person. Before entering the mines, he fills the bottom of his lunch bucket with fresh water that the mines supplies. As he opens the top of his lunch bucket to get out some bubble gum--he notices that his daughters, Kay and Barbara had packed two salami sandwiches and they had also put in a fried apple pie that his wife had made that day. He took out the bubble gum, unwrapped it and placed it in his mouth. He now chews bubble gum when he works in the mines because it cuts the taste of the coal dust. A lot of men preferred to chew tobacco, but his youngest daughter Lizzy thought that chewing tobacco was nasty and had packed bubble gum in his lunch bucket instead of the tobacco. He smiled to himself thinking of “Lizzy.” With her dark sparkling eyes, he knew that he could never turn down any request from her. She was his youngest and very dear to his heart. He admitted to himself that he did spoil her. He admired the way that she stood up to him. He placed his goggles on top of his helmet and tested his light going to his helmet to make sure that it worked. Turning the light off, he then placed the helmet connected with a cord to a battery light on his head and hooked the battery pack to his belt. With his lunch bucket in one hand, Cebert got onto the electric tram along with the other men that were working the hoot owl night shift. The electric tram took the men to their designated work location. After being on the job for two hours, he was involved in a fatal accident which cost him his life.

Cebert came back home resting in a coffin. The man who was his “spotter” either didn’t get his attention or he didn’t hear him, he went too far and a very large piece of roof fell on the machine and crushed his head--the only part of his body that wasn’t enclosed in the seat of the machine. He was killed instantly. He left behind three sisters, two brothers, a widow, an enlisted son in the Air Force, and three teenage daughters; ages sixteen, fourteen, and eleven. Cebert died doing what he enjoyed most--playing with a new toy.

Barbara Murphy Winter, ex-resident of Anawalt