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Levi Lusko - Among Thorns


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Well, we are so glad to have those of you who are with us on the internet, on the TV, archive, just amazing to have all of our campuses which are in Bozeman and Billings and Kalispell, Whitefish, Missoula, in addition to those who are in Helena, Salt Lake City, Polson, all of our churches. But we also have network sites. Those of you who are North Dakota, Lethbridge Alberta, Great Falls Montana, but then to think that beyond that there's people who are watching on the internet, listening to this message jogging on the treadmill later. We're glad to have you. And we're kicking off a brand new series of messages that we're calling Feature Creep, Feature Creep, Feature Creep. Exciting, it's always exciting to start a new series.

Now, of course, I know in telling you I'm going to be preaching on this theme Feature Creep that the first question that we should probably get to is, what the heck is Feature Creep? What the heck is Feature Creep? Let's arrive at this working definition for something that's been nicknamed feature bloat or feature-itis. Feature Creep is the tendency of companies to constantly update and add new features which inevitably leads to complex products that are confusing and hard to use. Feature Creep, the way companies seem to need to release not better versions of what they have, but the same version, with, oh, and there's also this. But wait there's more. It now does this too. I remember the first time I really experienced this where a product remained fundamentally unchanged but some minor feature was added.

Like I remember when I had a Walkman. Remember the Walkman? And then my Walkman that I would have on the outside of my belt, oh yes. And the water resistant version, yellow, with all the seals with little plastic plugs. On the water, because if there's one thing I need to do is listen to my Walkman in the rain, water resistant Walkman. And then remember that when it got to the Discman... Do you remember the Discman with the 5 second skip protection, then the 7 second skip protection, the 25 second? Now it has the 25 second because if you were walking with your Discman on the outside of your belt, which is something we did back in the day routinely. Children please Google it. This happened. You would skip. The disc would skip and wobble, playing on the inside. And so you need to have skip protection. So it would read ahead and memorize it. And if you skipped it, it was good.

But this thing was murder on the batteries. Remember how bad it was on the batteries? You could actually turn off the skip protection because a pair of AA batteries would last like 15 minutes with skip protection to the max and so just constantly new features. And this is the world we're living, right? I mean you think about like some of these things you see that they're adding now. Like is that really necessary? I read recently that 70% of Americans every time they use their washing machine, they use the exact same setting. 70% of us is always just turn it on, really just wet and spinning is kind of the big need in my life right now. But it's like, do we need all these different options? Like I was looking at our washing machine like, I don't even know, permanent press, delicate. I read that they're now selling new washing machines with a freshen up setting. For those of us, you don't want clean clothes. We just want fresh clothes, right?

I suppose that would be appropriate here at this church we've got to have fresh clothes. Could you just freshen them up? Spit you out in Salt Lake City and that's how you're able to, or the toaster, the toaster, like in your entire life, have you ever used anything but maybe two different of the 50 options on your toaster, right? But they got to have the bagel setting, got to have the warming setting, the slightly brownish setting, right? It's like really what I need is just a hot metal on my bread for a moment. And I'll tell you when my pop-tarts ready, thank you. I'll tell you, right? I've never let a toaster run its course in its own way. Yeah, it's probably good enough by now. I'll be taking you. Thank you very little. But they have to keep doing this. They have to keep, there's a vested interest the companies have to offer, now it does this. Because otherwise you would get one of everything in the world and then you wouldn't need to buy it again. And so then all of the sudden, oh, your old one? That's crap. Well you've got to have this one, right?

David Pogue in his 2006 Ted Talk really brought this concept of Feature Creep to the public's attention when he on stage, in front of a captivate audience, he opened up a computer and had it up on the screen. And he showed what happened when you opened up every single toolbar in Microsoft Word. This is what happened. There was approximately a half an inch left for the app to do what it was invented to do. Right, Microsoft Word exists so we can type things. But when you open up every new bell, every single whistle, which has been introduced over the course of, you know what? This is outdated. Because what we really need is a tiny animated paperclip to jump up from the bottom and talk to us. That's what we really need. That's really Feature Creep. Everyone say Feature Creep. And it kind of creeps out over time. These things just slowly get introduced, little by little, they show up. And our problem is the fact that we, at times, accept this because we equate more features with a better deal. More features, Oh, man, I'm getting a better value. Look at how many different things this can do. Do you need it to do that? No. Will you ever? Are you ever likely to utilize that? Well, no, but it will always be there in case, right?

Oh, man, my new car can read my Twitter feed to me. That's fantastic. That's really, really something to think about. I have this brand new device and guess what? I can watch live TV while I'm playing video games. Oh, OK, so while you're doing one pretend thing, you need to watch shows of pretend people doing other pretend things, like that's really necessary. But they have to come out with these new features, otherwise no one is going to buy it. We'd all have approximately one of everything. And it would last us a lot longer. Here's what this looks like over time. And I want to show you kind of an intense example of this. I think about the Swiss Army Knife. This is a very classic Swiss Army Knife. In fact, if you go to the Swiss Army website, this is what's under the classic page, right? And you have scissors. You have a knife. You have a file. You have a pair of tweezers. And you have a toothpick. That's a classic Swiss army knife, a classic thing to need in case of a problem. But then they were like we need a more robust version of this.

So, eventually, this is what started to happen. Every year, well now we have one that also has this, and now we have one that also has this, and taken to it's just ultimate extreme, you end up looking like this. Now this does not exist. This is the beauty of the internet for you, by the way. But this is the epitome of feature creep. And this exact version does not exist. But they do offer one on their website, I found. It's called the XAVT multi-tool. And it has 80, look at this, 80 different things that they say it can do. The Swiss Army website says this product has 80 essential features, essential would be the key descriptor. Now I imagine most of you can't read to find out about the pharmaceutical spatula. But if there's ever been an essential thing, it's a pharmaceutical spatula. That's essential. It's essential. I wonder if you understand the definition of the word essential. That's an essential, the pharmaceutical, the altimeter, you have a barometer. A barometer is an essential detail, right?

You think about all these things. But my favorite one, if you look at the very bottom of the 80 essential details, approximately right here is the lifetime warranty, the lifetime warranty. Which will be perfect for when they come out with one with 81 features. So you won't need the lifetime warranty of the trash model that only can do 80 things. Because now that they figure out the 81st, you get the idea. And this is what our lives can become. Our lives can soon get bloated with quote unquote necessary features. And we're here to say death to Feature Creep in our souls, death to feature, to just oh and now I need this. And now I have to have that in my life. I've got to add this on. This is now essential. That we get bloated with things, with more options, more features, doing more things, not necessarily because we're supposed to, but because, I guess, you just have to.

And year by year, we mistake value and new features. Now what I've done is I've written one sermon. I, generally speaking, write multiple sermons, and we string them together, what we call a message series. But this one I've approached differently. I only wrote one sermon. But I'm going to preach it to you over the course of three different weeks. And so what that means is today you'll get one third of a sermon, and you'll have to keep coming back if you want to get the whole thing. And so if you feel a little frustration at some point in this message, you like, I don't feel like you're telling me anything. Well you've got to keep coming back to get it all. This going and be one third of a message. But this is a message that I'm entitling Among Thorns, Among Thorns. That's this installment of the Feature Creep message. If you have a Bible, please turn with me to Mark chapter four, Mark chapter four. And as you're turning there, I'll just sort of spill the beans a little bit on our goal.

A lot of people, they will wait until the new year begins to make resolutions, to take inventory of their life, and go, whoa, yikes, that's a little out of control. And I don't want that. And that's a problem. And this is a little bit of an issue. And so we then in the new year, we resolve to live differently with the coming time, with this kind of reset, this natural built-in opportunity. And that's fine. That's great. And then others of us, we have this other practice that we do. And it's in the spring time. It's as new life is coming out of the ground. It's as birds are chirping. It's as we're kind of coming out of winter hibernation a little bit, right? We have this thing we do. It is called spring cleaning, spring cleaning. And we kind of assess our lives, oh, the invigoration of summer's ahead of us, and it's like, let's kind of clean up here. And that's fine too. But I'm going to even back it up a little further. We're not doing any spring cleaning here. We're not doing any new year resolving. We're doing some fall pruning. We're going to hack back some things in our lives going into the winter.

What, do I need this now? Is this necessary now? Is this something I want to carry into the future? Now we're going a little bit deeper. And our desire throughout this series, Feature Creep, is to come to a place where our lives are simpler, our lives are better quality, and our lives are just of a more pure, beautiful quality. That's the heart. Is that your desires? Is that what you want? Come on, simplicity and beauty and quality is what we're after in the Feature Creep series. Mark chapter four, a little context, Jesus is in a boat, and a whole ton of people are on the shore. And he cast out from the shore a little bit in his boat, so he could speak to all the people who are up on this cascading hillside. And he's speaking to them, one of his most famous stories he ever told, a parable, which is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

In these parables he would hide heaven in earth. And this is one of his more famous ones. It's been referred to as the parable of the sower and the seed. And what Jesus does in this story is he describes the way anytime God's word is preached, so it's happening right now, any time God's word is preached, the reaction it will have entirely depends on the condition of the heart that receives it. It's not a reflection of whether or not God's word is true. When God's word is goes out, when the gospel of Jesus goes out, the impact it will have long term is entirely dependent on the condition of the heart. Much like if you were throwing seed out, it would land on certain soils, and whether or not you get a bumper crop or not, it's not the seed's fault. It's the soils fault, OK? And so he gives, of course, the wayside soil.

The seed lands by the wayside. And the birds come and eat the seed up. And then he talks about the ground that has rocks in it. A lot of rocks shallow in the soil. And so this stuff springs up quickly, but the moment the sun comes out, tribulation shows up, it's withered up because it doesn't have roots. This little seed was not trained for the trial that it was not yet in. And so that's one of the seeds. And then the final, the good news seed, is that there is some seed that's sown among good soil, where it goes down. That's why I'm praying for your heart as God's word goes out this weekend that you would be like, hey, I'm ready to receive God's word.

I want to see him change my life, expectation determines experience, so I'm fighting away the birds. I'm picking away the rocks. I want God's word to go down and produce, I don't even want just a 30 increase. I don't want just a 60, I want to see a 100-fold increase on what's God's going to speak into my heart. And I'm sure that's your heart as well. But in the midst of all of that, he gives he gives this statement. This is verse 7. He said, and some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. And it yielded no crop. And then when he explained the parable in verse 18, he said, now these are the ones sown among thorns. They are the ones who hear the word and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Father, I pray that you would speak to us through your word. We don't want what's happening here, we don't want what's happening in our relationships with you to be unfruitful. We want all the fruits of the spirit, the love and the joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness. We want to be mature. We want to grow. We want to become all that you have destined for us to become. We want to do all that you've planned for us to do. And so we want to have the kind of hearts where that is possible. And we pray by the power of your Spirit that is exactly what would happen, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.


What the thorns did to the wheat that was planted, the seeds that were planted, in this story, I believe is precisely what Feature Creep can do to us. In fact, in the J.B. Phillips translation, that's exactly what we find. We find him saying of these things that they can creep in and choke the life out of what they have heard. And it produces no crop in their lives. It's possible for a multitude of weeds, a multitude of thorns, to exist in our lives that would take the good intention we have of living for God, of living in this relationship with Jesus, and it could creep in and choke it out. Let me give you my entire message in just a nutshell. Or I should say, rather, the entirety of this third of the message all summarized in just one statement. A crowded heart is the enemy of a fruitful life. A crowded heart is the enemy of a fruitful life.

Now let's get to know these weeds a little bit. He describes three different weeds, or three different thorny plants that could grow up and choke out what God wants to do in our hearts. The first of which I'm kind of describing as a dampening apprehension, a dampening apprehension. In the text, the first one he describes is the cares of this world, the cares of this world. And if you're not careful, just the cares of this world will have an impact on your life that dampens your zeal for God. And it will work this way, you'll be apprehensive. And the word cares describes a state of your heart that's full of worries and fear and anxieties, or really being apprehensive. When you're apprehensive, you're kind of nervous, you're kind of worried. There's kind of a turmoil and an anxiety to you. And he's describing these sorts of things that we would think about, and, by the way, we think about them a lot.

The Journal of Psychology says that the average American spends about 116 minutes a day thinking thoughts of anxiety and fear and anger and nursing grudges and replaying slights that were done to you. So a lot of our day, about two hours a day or 1.9 hours, technically speaking, are spent really in a state of mind that is trying to choke out the word of God in our hearts. That a lot of times what is going on in our minds, what's going on, what's being replayed in our hearts, spinning around and around and around, is doing its best to undermine what God wants to happen in our hearts, what God wants to happen in our lives. Now what I've learned about being nervous is that it can be one of two things. I describe one form of nervousness as butterflies, butterflies. And that's a good kind of nervous, by the way. The excitement, I believe that as you follow God, as you do what He's called you to do, you are constantly, you had better get used to the butterflies. Because if you're going to soar with wings as eagles, let me tell you something there's going to be butterflies in your stomach. If you're going to step out, or God's wants you to step out, if you're going to share your faith with someone who doesn't know Jesus, who maybe you've never even met.

Let me tell you something, there's going to be butterflies. As I was moving with my wife to Montana about 10 years ago to start this church. There were butterflies in our stomach. When we opened up Fresh Life in Billings, when we opened up Fresh Life in Missoula, come on. We were stepping out in faith. And there were butterflies. There were butterflies when we took the bold step of faith to upgrade all of our cameras to HD so the signal would be good when we stepped out to broadcast on television. Let me tell you something. It's every single great thing God's ever done has been marked by butterflies. So let me tell you something. When I'm saying that there can be a nervousness that's going to strangle out the good things that God wants you to do, that does not mean you're going to live a life free from nervousness. I would say far from it. Those who did the most for God were constantly full of just the edge of your seat kind of excitement, kind of a, I don't know if this is going to work. If God doesn't intervene, it sure won't.

So there's going to be butterflies. But I'm not talking about butterflies. I'm talking about the other kind of nervousness. And that's the kind that I'm calling battery acid, battery acid. This isn't just nervousness of I'm doing something. Because I believe there's a grace on you as you follow the call on your life. There's a grace you can lean into. So in the midst of your butterflies, you can say, you know what, for your glory, for your name. I'm scared, but I'm going to move forward anyway. I'm terrified, but I'm going to keep going. I'm scared to death, but I'm saddling up anyway. John Wayne, I'm going for it. That's courage. It's feeling fear, but doing it anyway. But the battery acid is different, you see. And the test is can you pray for God's grace in what you're thinking of.

Can you lean into God's peace in what you're thinking of? The battery acid, I have found, in fact, I'll just spill the beans a little bit. I this past week had a battery acid, kind of nervous, cares of this world type of a moment where I realized it wasn't as I was in the will of God. It was because I saw a ton of my friends all at an event that I didn't know about and hadn't been invited to. And have you ever had that happen to you where you see something like, oh, that's, whoa, oh, they're all there, whoa, oh, hope that was great for them, right? And this kind of like, why wasn't I invited? And I wonder why? You ever been there? Where you start thinking these kind of the fear of missing out type of thoughts and their having fun without me. And they must not really like me. And then all of a sudden, it's junior high again. And you can't, in those moments, say I'm thinking this kind of a thought in the will of God because it's self-seeking, it's self-serving, it's pity party, it's me and my. It's Eeyore.

So that's battery acid. If God can't bless it. If you can't say, God, in this kind of thinking, because the kind of thinking that God wants to bless is where it's going to help someone else, not help your own stature. It's going to lift someone else, not lift you up. And so if you're in a moment of battery acid, well you need to repent. You need to turn from it. You need to take that thought captive. You need to get a verse stuck in your head. You need to say, I'm not going to worry about me. I'm going to go try and bless someone else. I'm going to text someone else right now who may not be invited. And I'm not going to tell them, did you know that they didn't... you're going to tell them, hope you're doing good. You came to my mind. I'm praying for you. You see what I'm saying? That's just a better way to live.

Now let me just tell you something. The battery acid kind of thinking does not help your life. That's why Jesus put it this way in Matthew's gospel. He said, can all of your worries, can all of the cares of this world, at a single moment to your life? No, they don't. The things that we worry about, our worrying doesn't do anything to change the situation. And it doesn't make us live longer, it makes us live shorter. Study after study after study has found that stressful, nervous type of thoughts actually have a negative impact on our health. And stress, the cortisol that comes from it, living there can lead to heart attacks, depression, strokes, shrunken brain tissue, memory loss, higher susceptibility to cold and flu, loss of sexual appeal, and sudden death. So let me just say, let's not live in the battery acid. Lets live on a higher level. Let's focus on God and try and build up people. It's just a better way to live. Because while I was stuck in that low level thinking, do you know what? I did not feel a great sense of God's with me and God has my back.

You see what I'm saying? But the moment I began to give my cares to God and to take away these kind of thinkings from my mind, let me tell you something, immediately I felt a spiritual zeal. I felt excitement. I full a freshness and a lightness to my step as I began to exalt Jesus. So the apprehensive way of thinking is going to have a dampening impact on your soul. It will be a wet blanket to you being on fire for God. And so cast those cares on Him. Worrying gives nothing but takes much. All right, the second kind of weed that we need to identify is this, destructive ambition, destructive ambition. In the text he talks about the deceitfulness of riches. The deceitfulness of riches can have a negative impact. It will creep into your life and have a negative impact on God wants to do in your heart.

Now let's be clear. Money is not being identified and singled out as a bad thing here. It's not the problem. He doesn't say riches sneak in and smother the good plants. What does he say? The deceitfulness of riches, so money then isn't the culprit. The problem is the lies that money tells us that we can believe. All right, let me just put it this way. The lies that we believe about money is the issue here. Because money is an inanimate object, right? It's like is it good or bad? Well is a brick good or bad? Well did you throw it at somebody's head or build a hospital? Because there's a whole world of difference there, OK? So money is neutral. So the deceitful of riches is the lies we believe about money, namely, if I had this, I would be happy, and I'm not enough without it. If I had this I'd be happy, and I'm not enough without it. And perhaps the 144.000 odd commercials that the average American is exposed to in regular intervals has something to do with that. Because the basic plot line of every commercial is person with product is pleasure, person, product, pleasure, person, product, pleasure.

So we're like, oh, man if I had that product, well I'd be as happy as he is in that commercial. I'd be driving up the faces on Mount Rushmore in my tundra, right? Wait, hold on a second. Why is it like when these cars are driving through the cities, there's never any traffic. There's never any kids screaming in the backseat. They never show the guy filling up that tundra at the gas station, right? Interesting enough, it just seems like green lights all the way. The streets are wet, the trash has been all collected, so person and product is pleasure. So if I was the person, and I had the product, then there would be pleasure. We believe these kind of lies about riches. We believe these kind of lies about money. But let me just tell you something. There is no pot of gold at the end of these sorts of rainbows. And if you're not enough without it, you will not be enough with it. That is true for every accomplishment. That's true for every possession. That's true for anything in life that you look to and you pin your happiness upon.

Paul told this to Timothy. He said, but people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction for the love of money, not money, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people craving money have wandered from true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. Now none of us want to live a life this feels like being pierced through with many sorrows. But this is what happens when we pin our success, when we pin our worth, when we pin our identity on possessions. And, by the way, you don't have to have money to love money. You can think, though, when you don't have it, or when you have it, you'll think, if I only had more of it, well then I'd be happy, if I was at this level, if I was in this bracket, if I could do this, if I could afford this.

The easiest thing to think in the world is if I had more I would feel better. But that's not true. And the stories and statistics about those who have come into sudden money and their happiness, or so-called happiness, being virtually no different, or much worse in the wrong direction, right? They say that two years, when asked two years after winning the lottery, the majority of people are no happier, or not significantly happier than they were before they came into all of this money. But all of us secretly think if tomorrow we woke up with millions and millions of dollars, well we would be super happy. Listen to Solomon, one of the wealthiest persons to ever live, what he had to say on the subject. In Ecclesiastes he said, he who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance with increase. This also is vanity. When goods increase, guess what? They increase who eat them. He's saying, "mo money, mo problems". It's a classic quote. Tale as old as time.

He says, so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? The more you get, the more you'll want to get. That's your reward. And then you have to worry about how to keep it. And then more people show up in your life with a handout. More people will want from you. And the cost of maintaining this exorbitant lifestyle, this house that you have now managed to pay the down payment, now you have to keep paying for. The house that you paid, now you've got to pay the security, now you've got to pay the dues. You just don't think about what it takes to keep up with a lifestyle that you pinned all of your happiness upon. Trust me when I say this, while you're looking for more, you're missing out on what you have, and you're missing out on who you're with. While you're looking for more, you're missing out on what you have, the enjoyment of it, and you're missing out on who you're with.

And so what you need to understand about money, because maybe some of you are thinking right now, well you know I'm working so hard to get more. I want more because I want a better life for my kids. I would suggest that your kids need more of you more than they need more of more. I'm just saying. They just need time with you. What good is it if you're funding a lifestyle for them that's at this level because that's what you didn't have, but they don't have you in their life. And that's what they crave. And that's what they need. They need the most important things first. So that's the second weed. It's destructive ambition. But he mentioned a third category of weeds that could creep in and do damage to what God's doing in your heart in your life. And it's this, divided attention, divided attention. Or as Jesus put it, the desires for other things, other things. So we've identified lies that money tells us. An a lie is not a good thing. And cares of this world, and that's a negative kind of nervousness. And that's not good. Jesus prohibited us from worrying because that's just shows we don't trust Him. Because anything that's not done out of faith is done out of sin.

So we can't say that's good. But this would be a category entirely of good things, entirely of good things, desires for other things. And the word desires, by the way, was used by both Jesus and Paul. Jesus used to describe how much he looked forward to the Lord's supper when he went to the Last Supper with his disciples, with great desire I have looked forward to this. And Paul talked about the desire to go to heaven using this exact word. So this is a good word, desires. But it could be applied to things that could become bad. How? Listen to me very carefully. When good things crowd out ultimate things, they become bad things. When good things crowd out ultimate things, they become bad things. So what he's saying, is in this third category, there could just be things that are fine. Things that are very good that could all of a sudden take place of the thing that's the most important thing of all. And that is when it becomes a huge problem.

So what sorts of things could this be? Well I think sports for sure. Sports, our love of sports, could crowd our love for God. Or love of boating or love of skiing or club soccer or anything that's a great thing, that's a great thing, but if it crowds out the ultimate thing, it becomes a problem thing. It's something that has creeped in, and when we weren't paying attention, and maybe at the beginning it wasn't so much as what it is now. But all of a sudden, this thing now, it's taking us away and taking our eyes off of what is ultimately the most important thing. That's our commitment to follow Jesus and grow. And we're seeing it crowd that out. I think, certainly, our devices. I think, certainly, these things that we have in our hands. I was reading a study that was done to determine how many times we touch our devices every day, OK? This is crazy.

So they said, how many?.. And they counted. They put a ton of these devices out. They gave them to people and tracked them. And they counted the touches, every time you swiped the screen. They counted every time you clicked something. They counted every time you tapped something, OK, so tapping and typing and touching and swiping. They did not count checking your phone, just compulsively, just turning it on just to see if you had been texted or to see what time it was. So those did not even count, OK? So those are not even an issue, unless you unlocked it, unless you went to the screen and then began swiping and tapping it. Would you believe the amount of times on average we look at and touch, swipe is 2.617 a day? 2.617 touches of our phones per day, not including the times where we just looked at it just to see, oh, my phone. There it is. Oh, my phone. There it is. Oh, my phone. Still no texts, OK. Oh, my phone. Those don't even count, but 2.617 times a day. But they said the top 10%, the top 10% was double. For the top 10%, all across the board, the top 10%, it was over 5.000 times a day. OK, so that's just our phones.

Now let's broaden it a little bit. Because the day we're living in, which is unlike any other day that's ever existed in humanity, we are not just surrounded by screens called phones. But also by screens called computers and also by screens called television and also screens called video games and also screens called Kindles and all sorts of other devices that have screens. Nielsen just recently put out this shocking study that on average, every single day, Americans are watching screens, or actually watching any kind of media, which does include radio, and listening to music, so this is any kind of media, of 10.3 hours per day, 10.3 hours per day of media, which is up one hour from last year. So in only one year's time, it's gone from 9.3 to 10.3 hours a day. But they say if you take away the music side, which is only audio of radio and just listening to music, it just goes down to seven where you're actively in front of some sort of a screen. So seven hours a day, which to be clear, that adds up to about 49 hours a week, seven hours a day, 49 hours a week.

Now Let's do some math here. Because if you think about it, just working this out a little bit, there's 168 hours in a week. OK, so every week we get 168 hours. And if you work a job, that's probably 40 hours going to your job. Or if you're at school, somewhere around 40 hours to work or to school. And then you think about the time you spend sleeping, which we're not going to ask you how much sleep you actually get. But I will say that the same things have been found about stress in your life, the lack of a proper amount of sleep leads to all of those same sorts of things. OK, so if we get seven hours of sleep, that's 49 hours that we will spend per week sleeping. Then if you add up cooking meals, getting dressed, hygiene, you're talking, they say roughly, about 21 hours per week. Because it's three hours a day. I'm a lot less because I save a lot of water by not showering super regularly. It's a European way of approaching it, #dryshampoo, product placement over. So 21 hours per week that we will spend on those sorts of things.

Now what is left after we do this math is 58 hours per week. OK, so 58 hours is all that's left. But what I just told you is the most of us will spend 49 with screens, OK? What does that mean to you and to me? That means that all that's left here to here is nine hours for our marriages, for our walks with God, for serving other people, for our children, for our sports, getting exercise, taking care of our bodies, of being alone, of being just on a walk. Any other things is going to come out of this nine hours. Or it's got to cut into one of these other categories. Now there's a clear choice if you have to cut into one of them, it probably wouldn't be sleeping. That's oftentimes the choice we make. It's oftentimes not where it should be. This to me smacks of Feature Creep. This to me smacks of a problem.

And I know it's a problem in my life. Blaise Pascal, he put it this way, all men's miseries derive from the inability to sit still in a quiet room. Long before David, the psalmist put it this way in Psalm 46, he said, be still and know that I am God. I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the whole world. What the devil knows that you need to know is that distraction deals with concentration. He doesn't have to talk you out of anything. He just has to talk you into doing more things. And as he dilutes your concentration, it eliminates the focus that God wants you to have on what's most important. His only tactic isn't to get you to say no to God. He doesn't only just come in as the bird swallowing up the things. He doesn't just come in the form of trials to get you to shake your head and walk away, thinking that God isn't good, or God isn't all powerful.

He also will get you to say, yeah, yeah to God. Yeah to being in a group, that's great. Yes to reading my Bible, yes to more time with my wife, yes to taking my kids out one on one, and the devil will say, yeah, that's good. You should do that, but you should also... and he'll just get us to keep adding and adding and adding and adding things that don't actually matter. Things that don't move the needle on our happiness. Things that are actually causing us to be more nervous and to be more stressed out and to be unsafe, texting while driving, doing things that are not... he just gets us to say yes to more things. And that's how he deals with what we've said yes to in the most important way. And if you're not careful, this will happen to you.

William Barclay put it this way. We're going to close with this. He said, it is easy to pack life with such a multiplicity of interests that there is no time left for Christ. The more complicated life becomes, the more necessary it is to see that our priorities are right, or Jesus will get pushed onto the sidelines. Now, you and I, we can't do anything about the fact that we live in a world where we are among thorns, all of us. So if we're going to live with them around us, we should at least know their end game. If we're going to let them into our heart, if we are going to let our hearts become crowded, you need to understand this about these weeds. They're desire, verse 19, is to choke what God's doing in your life.

Choke is not a mellow word. Choke is a very aggressive word. You choke someone to suffocate them. You choke someone to smother them. You choke someone to asphyxiate them. These horns don't mean to coexist with us peacefully. They are not going to play nice. And so what you need to understand is that it is a crossroads we are where it is either death to Feature Creep or it is death by Feature Creep. Now that's a problem to which you're saying, man, is there a solution? Yeah, come back to church next weekend.
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