Thursday, December 28, 2017

We Can't Tackle Everything Alone

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?" - Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

This has been quite a week. I am in the process of driving coast to coast from Washington State to North Carolina. 

When I first found out about this move, I thought "Cool! A cross country road trip. I can handle this!" I've driven across Washington and into Canada a few times and figured this would probably be similar, but just for multiple days in a row and with a car load of stuff. I could do it myself, right? But my mom insisted on coming. At first I didn't think it seemed necessary, but after the first 12 hours on day 1, I was glad for the extra support. Each day we travel, I am even happier for the help and company. 

Lesson learned: we really aren't made to do everything ourselves. It's ok to accept help, even when you don't think you need it. From the help and support from my mom to the kind gestures and encouragement from friends, I couldn't do this road trip alone. 

Remember to thank God for the people He has placed in your life, and do your best to be a help to those around you, too!

Friday, December 22, 2017

You don't need a white Christmas.

I have to admit, I am rather surprised. I woke up a few minutes ago to discover a sudden (and reasonably large) dumping of snow. After checking the forecast, it appears we are in for a white Christmas this weekend! How exciting!

In a way, it seems somewhat funny that whoever chose the date to celebrate Christmas picked December. Did nobody travel back then? Possibly. I don't know. But the more I think about it, the more December feels like it makes sense.

It is the darkest time of year- immediately after the winter solstice. Christ came to save us from the dark forces of sin. It also is when many places are likely to get snow, which is an amazing visual reminder of purity. Freshly fallen snow is so beautiful and overwhelmingly white. It is reminiscent of our forgiveness that Christ came to make possible.

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - Isaiah 1:18

I know these parallels can't work in every region of the world at once. Nevertheless, that is what today in my little space in Washington state reminds me of. Perhaps your place in this world can make you think of another truth of God right now. After all, as Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

So, look around you. Look outside. Take in God's creation. Which of His truths are you reminded of today?

Friday, December 15, 2017

How to Be Excited About Knowing God

Over the past two years, I have made a lot of friends over the internet. Tim and Victory, in the above photos, are two of my earlier internet friends. Something I've noticed in common with every friendship is this: we get excited about meeting each other in person. When we realize there will be an opportunity to meet face to face, we often become a lot more involved and enthusiastic about getting to know each other. We'll talk more often, we'll call each other, and as a whole get much closer than we previously had been. 

I've come to realize that it can be similar in our relationship with God. Sometimes we feel far away from Him and we begin to lose sight of the fact that as Christians, we WILL indeed someday be with Him. When we forget about the reality of a future with Him, it is easy to put our relationship with Him on the back burner. 

Recently, I was struck by a deep realization, remembering the reality of the perfect worship and time with God that will happen in my future. Suddenly, something clicked in my mind and this truth feels so much more real than it once had. Since then, I've experienced a heightened interest in studying passages that reveal things about God's personality and work. 

If you're going to be with God forever someday, get to know Him! Put yourself in a place where you will live with excitement about this coming reality!

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me." - Proverbs 8:17

"... giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:12-14

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Over-Glamorized Life of Creatives (Aka: beware of envy!)

There tends to be this idea that the life of people who work in entertainment and media production is glamorous. Over the past year, I've been learning that this is not at all the case. Yes, media creation can be fun. Yes, it can feel really cool to have an audience and get compliments on your creative work. But the life of those who produce media and music is not all glory, fun, and sparkles. That is just the part we get to see.

In reality? My friends in video production spend more time tediously editing footage, hunting for inspiration, and keeping up with sponsorship connections than they do acting and filming. My friends in the music industry have endless practice sessions and constant nights sleeping in rented tour buses and hotel rooms. It takes an entire day for the team to set up for concerts and then they might stay up half the night loading crates into trailers in the rain. The writers in my life have to devote huge amounts of time to marketing their work while they hope and pray it sells enough for them to make a few dollars. And me? I just spent a solid six hours editing a single podcast episode and am about to start hunting down web links for the show notes.

It's easy to assume someone's life is all fun and games when you look at the surface. It's easy to envy someone when you make assumptions. But as Christians, we are to break away from envy.

Galatians 5:19-21 states envy in the list of lifestyles that are displeasing to God and uncharacteristic of His children:

"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Not only that, but envy even has the potential to drive one into poor health, according to Proverbs:

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. - Proverbs 14:30

What or who do you envy? Is it truly worth it?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Why I Hate Selfless Love.

I’m going to risk sounding like a bad Christian and start off this week’s devotional by saying this:

Selfless love sucks.

It takes your resources, your time, your energy. It can range from being mildly inconvenient to downright painful. It means we have to be aware of how our words and actions affect others instead of blurting out everything we feel in a moment. It means we should care for others when we’d rather focus on taking care of our own burdens.

It also means we need to be more like Christ - which sounds pretty ideal until we realize how much hardship and rejection He went through. Do we really want to go there? Nowadays, society won’t judge us for focusing our time and energy on ourselves or for simply chasing what makes us feel good. So why bother?

It is now December, and the answer is basically staring us in the face. The lights I keep driving past may just seem like fun and festive decor to most, but to those who believe in Christ, they should also be a reminder. A reminder that the Light of the World didn’t just sit up in Heaven enjoying Himself.

God’s creation had (and still has) turned against Him. If I were Him, I’d be inclined to say “Well, that was stupid. Screw humanity. I’ll just chill up here while they suffer for rebelling against my design.” But, God isn’t made in my image (thanks be to Him for that!). So, instead, Christ exercised selfless love. He confined Himself to a human body. He chose to help society’s hopeless and looked down upon sinners rather than taking on a glorious political position or snubbing everyone like the “good” people did. He was despised, rejected, and even betrayed by those who said they loved Him.

What does He do in return? He takes on the punishment of damnation so that our debt is paid and we can be adopted into His family and have the ability to love Him.

Selfless love sucks.

But, it was given to us by Christ. So let’s pay it forward. And backward. And everywhere in between. Let’s selflessly love Christ by following Him and His Word no matter what. Let’s selflessly love others because that is what Christ did and wants us to do, too. It won’t always be a warm fuzzy feeling, it may mean we’ll get dirty or uncomfortable or worse.

It won’t be like a Hallmark Christmas flick, but it is the best way we can celebrate Christmas both in December and throughout the year.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” - John 15:9-17

Friday, November 24, 2017

What Happens When You Help?

Most people who want the concert experience spring for the expensive backstage passes, the meet & greet tickets, and the front row seats. Me? I have to admit, I didn’t show up at the Winter Jam show with any of that in mind. In fact, my only goal was to visit an out of state friend who was running one of the merch booths.

After a few minutes of loitering beside her table, she asked: “Wanna just be my volunteer?” “Sure, why not?” I replied, putting on one of the red crew shirts. Heck, she had gotten me into the show for free. Of course, I would help her out! As it turned out, I still got to take breaks and enjoy the best parts of the show. On top of that, however, the other staff members appreciated my willingness to help out so much that they let me tag along into places that the average showgoer or volunteer would never end up.

Looking back, it was one big line of positive chain reactions. I was willing to drive for two hours and pay to go to a show so I could visit my friend. She snagged me a free ticket to make it easier. I was excited to be there and was more than happy to help her and the crew out. The crew was excited to have my assistance, so they didn’t mind me tagging along for dinner and loading the tour bus.

None of us had high expectations of what the others could or would do for us. We were all simply willing to do things for each other. This is how good things happen.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
   and one who waters will himself be watered.
-Proverbs 11:25

Friday, November 17, 2017

Examining Each Other

God’s working can be really ironic sometimes. Yesterday morning, part of my Bible study time involved a brief part about judgments. It quoted Matthew 7:2-5, in which we are told that we ought to fix our own issues before looking at the issues of those around us.

Shortly thereafter, I was messaging a friend of mine. At one point I made a remark about his tendency to procrastinate. Pausing for a moment, I shook my head at myself. “Like I’m one to talk, seeing as I should be working on a project right now”, I added. He replied “Who has the speck and who has the plank? Because I feel like I could have either one.”

Isn’t that just the way it goes? We read a biblical truth, nod our head in agreement, then promptly forget it. Then, God tosses the lesson right back at us again.

Today, let’s focus on our own issues rather than those of our neighbor. On top of that, let’s thank God that He is patient with us in our ever-so-slow process of growth in Him!

“For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” - Matthew 7:2-5

Friday, November 10, 2017

What happens to Christian loners?

Christians aren't meant to be loners.

I've heard this stated before. I know that the Bible says we should not neglect to meet together. I just never realized how important Christian fellowship is until recently.

About six months ago, the Bible study group that I had been a part of quit meeting. At the time, it didn't seem like a huge deal. Attendance had been way down anyway and it meant I had a free night to work on my projects. Besides, I was still attending church on Sundays. Over time, however, I began to sense myself feeling increasingly dissatisfied, distant with God, and truth be told, a little lonely. Looking back over the times in my life when I felt closest to God, it hit me: those were the times I was closest to other believers. I was surrounded by people who were actively pursuing Him, and they were taking me along for the ride via our discussions.

Something I've found along the way is that there is a difference between just hanging out with someone who happens to be a Christian and having meaningful fellowship. I've spent a lot of time around Christian people these few months. We watched movies, attended church, did craft projects, and had superficial “how was your past week or two?” chats. But I still found myself lonely and starved for real fellowship.

To be truly fulfilling, Christian fellowship can't be continually superficial. We need a few fellow believers who we can be close with. We need people with whom we can intentionally discuss scripture, faith, and struggles. Superficial conversations in between church services are not true fellowship. "I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:17b-19

Friday, November 3, 2017

Avoiding the Thistles

I was out hiking earlier this week. As I went along the trail, I carefully kept to the center to avoid the plethora of dried out thistles that had grown up around the trail. Where had they all come from? I didn't remember a bunch of thistle plants being there a month ago. How could they have grown as tall as me and then died all in such a short timespan?

As I got to the top of the hill, something caught my eye. A little sunflower. I thought it was growing up out of the thistle patch. Then I noticed: the sunflower was coming out of the stem of the thistle plant. That didn't make any sense! How could it be? Simple: all of those huge "thistles" were actually out-of-season sunflowers.

I chuckled at my mistake. Then it hit me: we do that kind of thing a lot in life. We see something that looks unpleasant at a glance and try so hard to avoid it that we don't realize what it really is. Sometimes God uses the ugly things and circumstances in life to help us learn and grow.

"For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven" - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, October 27, 2017

Help! I've forgotten what I look like!

I have to admit, I am rather ashamed. I started skimming past devotional blog posts I've written, and with each one, I am going, “Dang, I wrote this? How do I so consistently forget the lessons I've learned?” Writing a weekly devotional can be challenging, but it’s nothing compared to following the “practice what you preach” concept.

This verse pretty much sums it up:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” - James 1:22-24

It sounds like a slightly absurd thing, to look at yourself in the mirror and then instantly forget your appearance. It is, however, an appropriate comparison. We learn in the Bible and through teachers and pastors who we are in Christ and what that looks like. Then, we get sidetracked going about our lives and forget it all. It is a somewhat frustrating fact of Christian life that we all are likely to experience at some point or another.

Today, let’s pray that God will help us to better remember who we are in Him and be able to live it.

Friday, October 20, 2017

When Good Things Become Bad

There is a song that I enjoy called "Good Things" by M'Kalister Park. This song talks about how good things can become bad things. Ever since I read a particular Bible passage the other day, I've had it running through my head. Why? Because letting a good thing become a bad thing is exactly what the Israelites did.

The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Holy of Holies, inside of the tabernacle, where the Israelites would go to make sacrifices of worship to God. Inside, one could find several objects that were touched by God and important to Israel's heritage. The Ark was a reminder of God's miracles and provision from the days when He had appointed Moses to lead them out of Egyptian slavery.

The ark was fine and good when viewed as a symbol of God's power and provision. The problem began when Israel began to view the ark as a good luck charm and a source of power. With this false mindset in their heads, they removed it from the place where God had commanded it to be kept. Israel then brought it with them into battle against the Philistines.

What happened next? Rather than the power and blessing they undoubtedly expected, Israel lost the battle. On top of that, the Ark of the Covenant got captured by the Philistine army. God used this time to teach both parties a lesson. To Israel, their defeat and loss of this precious item was a reminder that power and blessings do not reside in things- they come from Him. To the Philistines, God showed His power by knocking over and breaking their idol god, Dagon. Beyond that, the Philistines and anyone who was near the ark began to go crazy and break out with tumors.

You can read the whole story in 1 Samuel 5.

This account reminds us to check ourselves: are we worshipping God? Or are we just thinking of Him or things related to Him as good luck charms? 

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Book of Ruth: Not the Love Story You Thought it Was

I feel like the book of Ruth has been overly romanticized. I always see Ruth held up as a biblical love story to remind girls that "God has a Boaz for you" (which, I must point out, is definitely never promised in scripture). I've heard summaries that go along the lines of "Ruth waited and God provided the right guy for her". Now, yes, that is true, but also take note that Ruth's first husband died. The account of Ruth is far more than some cute little story about a young woman waiting for the right guy.

At the start, Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi, becomes a widow. Shortly thereafter, Naomi's two sons die and that leaves Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah as widows also. Naomi plans to return to her people but urges the girls to stay and find new husbands while they're young. Orpah agrees, but Ruth does not want to leave her grieving mother-in-law on her own. Ruth's mind was not on finding a new man to be with, but on being there to support her mother-in-law in the worst time of her life.

When it comes to Ruth meeting Boaz, it was never presented that she fell in love with him, as we might like to think. She does intentionally put herself in his presence, but it is because the custom of the day was for a widowed woman to be "redeemed" by a close relative of her husband. The idea behind this act was not to find new love, but to perpetuate the family name of the deceased husband. Boaz praised Ruth for not going after the younger men, but rather choosing to honor her husband by seeking a redeemer with whom the family line could continue through.

The moral of this story is not that God will provide a man for every girl who waits. The real lesson here is that Ruth chose to make love an action in her life and God blessed her through it. Ruth chose to love and support Naomi in her hardest time rather than seeking a new man to marry. She also chose to love and honor her deceased husband by finding a relative with whom to continue the family line. Did she find a man to love in all of this? It appears so. Was that her primary goal? Not in the least.

Read the story for yourself in Ruth 1-4.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Biblical Lesson in Modern Art

Last night I was at an art walk. One of the exhibits was a small room with a single window. Inside of this room, the artist had hung fluffy black fabric everywhere. From the walls, the ceiling, creeping in through the door. It obstructed the light coming in through the window and gave the room a very eerie feeling. 

As I stood there taking it all in, it hit me: this is an unfortunately perfect picture of life sometimes. We allow all sorts of things to take over our lives and eventually they choke out our view of Christ and his influence in us. Some things may be perfectly fine, other things may not be. Everything has the potential to obscure our perspective if we aren't continually refocusing and choosing to make God a priority in our thoughts.

Honestly, that is why this blog is a day late this week: I was lacking inspiration because I had been failing to look for it. I let all sorts of little things pile up over the week that took my mind away from seeing God's work and wisdom. You've probably experienced (or possibly are experiencing) something similar. It's easy to let distraction take over. Let's clear our minds and reset our focus this week, shall we?

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.

- Psalm 119:9-16

Friday, September 29, 2017

How to Fail at Empathy.

Several close friends have pointed out to me that empathy is not my strongest quality. It's true, and it's something I'm trying to work on. The hardest part is resisting the urge to offer advice when all the other person really needs is someone to listen and be on their team. It takes a shift in mindset from "I want to help" to "I am here with you".

Romans 12:15-16 offers some good insight on this:

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight."

The last part is the kicker. Never be wise in your own sight. That's where the downfall always happens: when I try to become the expert. It's so easy to shift into thinking about my similar experiences and my ways of fixing a problem. The thing is, often when someone is hurting, they don't want to be told how to fix stuff unless they're literally asking for that type of help. Usually, when someone is hurting, they just want their frustrations to be heard. They want someone who will acknowledge their hurt and accept how they are feeling. They need someone who will be part of the struggle with them rather than standing on the sidelines offering counsel.

When we are with hurting friends, we need to check our motives. Are we humbly striving to follow Romans and "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep"? Or do we really just want to be the one with all the answers?

Friday, September 22, 2017

What if we remembered God?

Yesterday I looked out the window and saw gorgeous sunny skies. I was excited- perhaps after work, I would go hang my hammock up in the park for a while. Two minutes later, I looked again. Still sunny, but the sun was accompanied by the biggest downpour I'd seen in months. Not good for relaxing in a hammock. I did, however, need to wipe all the dirt and bugs off my car. Having a solid stream of water pouring over my vehicle would be so convenient! I went for it.

I came back in about 10 or 15 minutes later, completely soaked. Over messenger, a friend and I chuckled about my little escapade. "That's using what the Lord provides!" he remarked. I paused and smiled. I hadn't thought about it that way, to be honest. I simply saw an opportunity and took it. 

What if we made more of a point to focus our minds that way, though? What if we remembered the fact that everything is within God's power and granted by His sovereign hand? What if we thought of Him in everything that we set out to do? How much better would life be, and how much stronger would our faith become?

“As for me, I would seek God,
    and to God would I commit my cause,
 who does great things and unsearchable,
    marvelous things without number:
 he gives rain on the earth
    and sends waters on the fields"
- Job 5:9-10

Friday, September 15, 2017

What Kind of Peer Pressure Are You Experiencing?

Peer pressure can be used both for good and for ill. In one instance last summer, I was thankful for peer pressure. My friends and I discovered this abandoned house. I've always had a fascination with abandoned places, but never had the opportunity to go into one before. This time, the chance had finally presented itself. The thing is, I almost didn't have the nerve. Lucky for me, my friend did. He went in first and gave me just the push I needed. As a result, I got a collection of neat photos, fun memories, and a story to tell!

On the flip side, peer pressure can be a terrible evil, as it was in the life of Samson. At the start, in Judges 14, it merely involved him giving away the answer to a riddle that would cause him to lose a bet and some belongings. The second time, things took a far worse turn:

After this, he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her,“Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.” (Judges 15:4-6)

After a lot of pushing from Delilah, Samson gave in to her pressure and told his secret. Promptly, the information was used against him. "The Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison." (Judges 16:21)

Next time you are being pushed to do something, stop and think. Is it good? Is it helpful? What is your motive in your choice to follow or disregard the pressure? Is it something that will be pleasing to God?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Doing What Feels Good

"You can't eat donut holes for breakfast, Sarah," my friend Matthew said, staring down at me. We have a running joke that he is my dad, and occasionally he lives up to the title. This was one of those times. "Yeah, yeah," I rolled my eyes, shoving another TimBit into my mouth, "And what would you suggest?" "Eggs! You should start your day with protein," he informed me. "Okay, sure," I grinned, and continued to devour the donut holes. He was right, though. Later that day I found myself hungry, low-energy, and somewhat irritable. 

Isn't that such a perfect picture of the human state? We are told what would be good for us, we know deep down what would be good for us. Yet we charge forward doing what feels good in the moment rather than slowing down and living by the knowledge we are given. It has been happening for all of history.

Romans 1:28 says, "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." -- This is the result of letting our desires rule us. God will let us do what we want, but will it truly benefit us? Will it end well? Sometimes God sees our strong wills and decides it would be best to let us learn the hard way. 

What about you? Do you read of God's desires for us and do them, or do you charge onward to pursue your own way of life because it's what feels good to you right now? Be careful, my friend. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Are you prepared for the deadline?

I woke up and stared at the number on my dry-erase board. 1. That was the number of days I had until I needed to turn in my class projects. I'm usually not the last-minute sort of person, but this month I've been traveling a lot and didn't have enough time alone to work on everything. Even when I did, I'd been distracted by other things, such as packing, work, and other little duties. Where had the time gone? It felt like this deadline hit me out of nowhere, and I had to rush to catch back up. In the end, I made it. Just barely.

While our earthly deadlines can be a big deal and occasionally a matter of great stress, there is another deadline that matters more: Christ's coming. Emphasis on the "dead" of that deadline- because if we are not prepared for that one, dead is exactly what we will be. The thing about this deadline, however, is that we have no set date for it. As a result, it is "out of sight, out of mind" for many people, even some Christians. 

Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica and said, "For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Nobody expects a thief, and likewise, when the Lord comes, it will take even those who are eagerly awaiting Him by surprise. 

You can stress over and run after your earthly deadlines constantly, knowing when they will hit. But are you prepared for the one deadline that has no final submission date? Do you know where you will stand in God's eyes on the last day? And does the reasoning behind your answer match up with what the Bible says?

Friday, August 25, 2017

What is your captor?

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.
 Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. - Judges 3:7-8

While forced labor isn't as common in the world now as it was in those days, the principal of this passage still holds true today: when we take our eyes off of God and stray from His ways, we will find ourselves in captivity. Likely not physical captivity, but often times we can fall prey to emotional or psychological captivity. Or, perhaps we may find ourselves in captivity to addictions of varying sorts, whether it be something as bad as drugs or alcohol or something innocent looking as online video streaming or social media. 

Are you looking to God for comfort and direction, or are you on a mission to drown your sorrows and life complications with the random things that suit your fancy in the short-term?