922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran - Appleton, WI Sermons

Though great technological marvels, computer/phone screens can do damage on our souls as they do our minds, robbing us of true fellowship and weakening our minds so they are unable to meditate on the deep truths of God’s Word. This message Pastor Bill Monday warns us to think critically about the devices we hold in our hands.

Show Notes

Every researcher knows that something has drastically changed in our digital age. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide have spiked like never before. What factors best explain the sad data? Internet usage and social media. Yet screens can do the same type of damage on our souls as they do our minds, robbing us of true fellowship and weakening our minds so they are unable to meditate on the deep truths of God’s Word. This message warns us to think critically about the devices we hold in our hands. 

What is 922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran - Appleton, WI Sermons?

The episodes are the weekly sermons from 922 Ministries campus in Appleton, WI. St. Peter is in the north part of Appleton. The CORE is our downtown Appleton campus.

Screens and Souls
Week 2 - St Peter
Pastor Bill Monday

Welcome back to week 2 of Souls and Screens today, we take a look at the dark side of screens. The curses that are there, which God would desire to protect us from the cover over in Greece, we will consider this message for today under inspiration of Mark 7:14 and following will get to that toward the end of our sermon. Before we jump into our message, and we begin with prayer.

Sanctify us by the truth, Oh Lord, your word is truth. Amen.

You know, we're not the only creatures that like being before a screen online. We could argue that actually spiders, prefer online even more than we do, you know, because of all the websites and what a way to begin a servant. If I'm going to blame this screen for that one because I found that joke online. So there's one example that screens are bad. You're bad. How about this one, you know what the kids these days You know, they always like it when you're you're up on the lingo, you can be hip with them. Sorry. You know what? They're calling their iPhone chargers these days. Apple juice. Man again I found that one online. How about this one? You know, the first computer Adam and Eve. It's an apple seat and I got that from Mr. Joel Weeks in the back. So you can blame him right through the service. Started, I won last night, I promise.

What's the best singing computer that's out there? Adele. I know, I know. I hate it too. It's cringy. They found out what online. So I gave you three examples. I say let's gather up our screens, right? And we're going to go and we have a bonfire after church burn them all for them. All its Wars with it. That's like toxic don't listen to that. Even if we did all that you and I know that tomorrow we'd be headed out the best Pike and more screens because we like what are we doing? You might scream and we would get rid of screens that said do you feel like sometimes it would be so nice to live in a world where there weren't any screens whatsoever you ever feel that way we just let's just be done with it their distractions, they're keeping us maybe from having meaningful relationships, there's a lot of curse.

They're dangerous things that you can stumble upon online before we go overboard and that's not where we're headed with this message. Burning, all our screens. I do want to start just reminding ourselves. There are so many blessings, aren't there, for modern technology screens? Pastor Tim and Pastor Mike last week did an excellent job reminding us that partnering with Time of Grace Ministries are messages. The gospel is going around the globe. Because of screens, I got an email two weeks ago, from a teacher in China. Asking me how I might handle a particular high school student that isn't engaged. I just thought what, what a crazy world and who am I? That I would receive an email like that. It's all because of modern technology in the messages. That Pastor Mike and Pastor Tim and you support that go out in the world. So this blessings and not only that, but I'm thinking thanksgivings coming up and maybe many of us, still won't be able to meet with her loved ones, family members, but you have modern technology, you be able to connect online if you want and even see them how cool is that couldn't do that a generation or two ago. There's many blessings It's like anything, isn't it?

It isn't the object or the thing or whatever. We're into that is inherently good or bad. It really does come down to how we use it. It. And why? That's the question for us to answer today in the message. Why are we using screens in such a way that we would stumble upon or even go in search for curses for that? What we, which would harm our souls? And so, if you're filling in the blanks, this is where we're headed today. We’ll be reflecting on the dark side of screens. And, and looking for the reason why we dabble in that, And maybe I can just paint the picture this way. When you think about being before your screen or going online and whatever else, widescreen TVs, your laptop's, your PC's, whatever you use. It's kind of like the old Wild West, isn't it, cyberspace? I mean, so many new horizons so many things that can just entertain and give us adventures. But around every turn, I mean, it's kind of a lawless land. There's danger after danger after danger. So how do we save ourselves from the danger and enjoy the blessings of all that's beautiful before screens?

Well, let's talk a little bit about the content that we can find. Another I think will be a surprise, but we're going to do is investigate a little bit. Why is this content not Good. If it's used to certain way, what conscience out there that we want to protect our kids ourselves from again. How do we receive these blessings? So, the first thing that we could talk about, Social media, social media, how we connect with others, through our screens, which is such a blessing. How we social network whether we're on Facebook or were using something a Snapchat, or whatever else would other other app or website we go to. So we can engage with loved ones and strangers alike for fruitful, hopefully, conversation to understand what's going on in the world and to react to it. Here's an interesting stat that the more you

Spindle social, networking, engaging with others, being informed, by what's going on in the world, through your screen. If it's over half an hour. And if it's longer, there's a strong correlation to having mental health problems. Mental health goes down. There's a correlation if you're online networking for any length of time. Now again, we might say, well, then there it is. The longer that your social networking, then the more you're going to have anxiety and depression, and that can lead to suicidal tendencies, but again, it isn't social networking or social media. It's our approach to it. This is especially helpful for young people that the stats are really sad for, for teens, and, especially female teens. It seems to be for this reason. If you're constantly checking online to see what's going on for fear of missing out that causes anxiety, and it makes sense. When you're young, you're still trying to carve out who you are. You don't exactly know. You want to make sure too that you have worth and value it, with others that you belong. It would make sense that you're going to go online to see what's going on. What's going on with my friends? Am I missing something important but the anxiety, and the constant. And by the way, they, the creators of these apps and websites, they created, so that you keep coming back. Now, they don't want you to form some addiction to it, but it has addictive Tendencies. So we go and we check out what's going on. What's going on it? Then can you imagine when you do miss out? How does that make you feel? It? Puts you in a downward spiral and the longer that you're anxious about things, your body can only hang handle anxiety for so long before it bottoms out into depression, that's just the way anxiety works.

So we check and recheck and recheck and we're consumed because we're longing for belonging. And then we want to post things to let people know. Hey, we're here and this is what's fun and exciting in my life, but we have a tendency to put the ideal up. Nobody post something. So they could be made fun of at least not if you're in your right mind. So we post and we put out the ideal and so does everybody else? And so you have photoshopped images, it's not reality, it's contextualized for one's own purposes. In the morning, you see that the tendency is like, why am I not happy like that? Why don't I have that? Why can't I be her or him? He's see how it tears us down, if that's our mindset, if we're looking for belonging and encouragement, And then we post and we look for reactions, that's addictive too. We want a thumbs up, we want a smiley face. We want a heart emoji smiling, laughing emoji, whatever and it tears us down when nobody responds and it tears us down, even more in. This is the Insidious nature of maybe being in front of a screen. There's the sense of anonymity, like I can say, whatever, because that offends me, we say things that we would never say face to face. And then interspersed throughout all of that. News feeds and the news today it has to promote because this is what we look for worst-case scenarios. It never really celebrates. Hey, this wonderful thing happened. Just down the street, but it's always like World War 3 is coming. Everybody takes shelter. If you have a constant diet of that, that you just emotionally, you can't handle that. So again it's not being online and social networking, that's the problem. It's our mindset as we approach it. So where do we get help? You know, as you kind of have this competition, it's almost like the old west where you got to be the greatest Gunslinger in town. How do we not have that approach? When we go online? I love this passage from Philippians 2 3 and 5. Paul reminds us in this city so well, when you engage with others online, This is do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather in humility value, others above yourselves. If you're going to go online and interact and they think you could and you should because it can be a great blessing, go with that mindset. Don't have it. Be about you. Have it be about whomever is posting because they're in a downward spiral especially if they're posting a lot generally, that's the stat. The of encouragement, value them more than yourself, find your belonging and Christ Jesus because that's where you get the power to do that, right? Just as like Christ, found his value and worth of belonging with God the father. So he was okay even if the world would crucify Him and they did, The world crucify you online. If you belong with Christ, if you think your value comes from Him and remember that, you'll be all right. Something to keep in mind. Let's go on to the next thing that's out there. The wild west that is cyberspace. Pornography, this is a big issue. This is an epidemic and it's tough to talk about and for whatever reason, churches really, struggle to talk about this regularly, to be of encouragement. And it happens even less in the home that we talked about this.

But it's so important. Jesus, he came to bring everything, everything into the light. Why? So that He can absolve it to way with it. So that God's children would not fear. So, here's the stats. The average age that a child will be exposed, to pornography, either friends sharing it or stumble upon it online but age 11. So fifth graders here and older and it's getting younger and younger sooner you go online. The more likely you're going to be exposed to this and it changes your mind, you can never unsee that and it can affect you for the rest of your life.

So, we'll talk more about boundaries next week, as we round out our series here. But for today, let's just talk about the danger, that is there. And not only with youth, but men struggle with this research, just back in 2016. So, Barna shared that 76% of men ages 18 through 30 regularly, several times a week view or seek out pornographic websites. There's some 42 million that are Out there and it is a money-making industry. It makes more than professional football, basketball and baseball all together. It's huge. So 76 percent of young men are struggling. It is not much better for those over 30 and it's not just a man problem, it's a woman problem. One third of women struggle with this, regularly seek out pornographic websites. Only thirteen percent of women can honestly say they haven't viewed pornographic images online. So again, an epidemic. How do we deal with this? Well one I think we need to make sure we don't fall into the trap of the world, the world, on sitcoms and whatever else kind of makes a joke about it. Tries to normalize, it's not a big deal but it is a big deal. If you regularly watch pornography, you are three hundred percent more likely to have an affair if you're married. It is a destructive weapon that the devil uses, and it's a lot like the old Wild West. Every saloon had a brothel, it's all over the place. So, maybe helping ourselves here understand the battle that we're in with this. Let's think about Jesus' words and Mark chapter 5 and we'll get some hope to and Jesus who is our Savior and rescue, Jesus reminds us. Hey, if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out, throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body, to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away, it's better for you to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to depart into hell.

Jesus would remind us if your screen is destroying your life, potentially your family, and your soul, get rid of it, please. That's the way the line literally reads, but Jesus would have us dig deeper. Is it really the screen that's the issue or is there something greater going on for our purposes today? As a church, we should talk about this. We're here to protect each other. We're here to promote families, to save families through the grace of Jesus is. So, as I speak these words, if we feel guilt, if we feel shame, I want to encourage you, don't leave that at the cross and don't do this life alone. Look to your friends in the church, your pastors, come to us. And we can battle this thing and we'll be rescued together and Grace. No shame, only forgiveness. I practice this in my home. Fathers, we speak to our boys, mothers you speak to your girls. You can do it however you want. But I've had conversations with both my boys about this issue. And I'm here, and I share Grace, like, look, if you struggle with this, you let me know, no consequences. We're just going to protect you and there are so many resources, things out there to protect you. So you only receive blessings from your screen but he had more on that next week.

Just know this, your church family is here to give Grace and to carve a path forward so we can be done with stuff like that. How about more content? There's other things we want to watch out for like predators, predators of every kind. There are predators that will harm us physically if they can, there are predators out there that will destroy us mentally. If they can, emotionally and even spiritually. I think about our young, especially in families right? Have conversations about what's going on with screens and where they're at and how often they're on it and so on and so forth. But I remember talking to my youngest, who especially loves Roblox. And he's like, well, who you playing with and mostly they're his friends. But he let me know and I praise God. When somebody was trying to create a friendship with him, he didn't do it. So he had to roll. You don't talk to strangers, not in person, not out the world and not online, but they're there. And they try to get information from you and if they can get you into a vulnerable position where they learn something about you, that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know, that's how children are abducted and the other side of life to the elderly are very vulnerable. Vulnerable to when people come, ask friends with fake profiles and so on, they're trying to get information trying to get at your finances and its destructive, it destroys. Gets us a lot like the old Wild West, isn’t it? Where you're on a train and you're enjoying the horizons and all of a sudden it's taken over by train.robbers, your life is altered. Sit down in a moment. That's what we're dealing with online and spiritually. Here's what troubles me to when we have questions about scripture or teaching or doctrine. Something we hear in a message or whatever. It used to be that you would go to your pastor or you'd go to your parents or your Christian friends and they find the answers in Scripture.

Now we go to God, that is Google. And we search for often, whatever our itching ears. When you hear people are preying on us, through false teaching, and there's demonic influence behind that. All right, there's so much to be careful of. Maybe it feels like we should go out and bring our screens. But again are the screens the issue? It's always been an issue online or offline when it comes to these dangers, we're constantly in battle and it's as wild as the old west. For example, take a look at Luke chapter 10 here, we find the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. Take about two things as far as going online. And being before your screen, notice this, a man was innocently going from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers and they stripped him of his clothes. They beat him and went away. Leaving him half dead. That's how we should view our screen usage. There are real wicked people out there who do not have the intent of God, when they interact with us. We could very much be like that man. I think about your computer, or your screens, or whatever it is. It's kind of a, it's a bundle of dynamite. They're ready to go off. How do we use it for good purposes? But even more, remember that the Good Samaritan came along and rescue. This poor man, who is a victim? We have that same Good Samaritan at Jesus. And so if you're ever being abused by whatever is going on line spiritually, emotionally, physically turn again to your savior. Don't be afraid. But let the church come alongside and encourage and restore and battle beside you. There's one other thing that we should talk about as far as content and maybe more. So our usage of screen, it's our time spent in family ministry, I get a lot of parents who bemoaned the fact that their kids seem to always be online always before their screens, and it seems like it is an issue as far as time usage, up. Pastor Tim shared last week's spot in the average of eight hours. More specifically about seven hours. For adults every day online is not talking about work in front of your laptop and I know hours for kids again in their Leisure Time every day. So you got about eight hours of sleep, 8 hours of work or school and then you got about the rest of your waking hours before scream. I think our impulse is like, yeah, let's bundle them up and let's burn them. Put again. Does that address the issue?

If you're concerned that you or someone in your family is just spending too much of their time online. What does the scripture have to enlighten us with that? We can fight our way in like what's really going on? Think of it this way, what has God called us to in this life? It's to love him. Most and out of love for him. Be a blessing and love our neighbors. And if you're doing that getting enough sleep, so that you can do that in your waking hours. And if you're doing that at work and school and you've got everything and all your priorities in line, it really doesn't matter how you use your leisure time. And if you're being faithful and it's all covered in Grace, And so, if you want to spin your waking hours before a screen in Christian freedom, you can do that if you want to be outside and playing, whatever sport you can do that. You want to read books or whatever you can do that. Whatever we choose to do though we should examine what's our mode of what's our reason. And I think this is what kind of troubles us about the time. That's often spent online or before our screen.

I don't know if we are loving our neighbors. Not always not all the time. I think of this if you have this as an experience when you're sitting around the table for dinner and everyone's behind a screen and you don't have a relationship with your teenage son or daughter, child. Well, I suppose, the screen now is a symptom of that. It's not the cause but a symptom I would encourage you as parents, don't just rip the screen away. One, is there something that you can create in your household? That is so attractive that your child would love to put the screen down. My guess is, that's going to be time with you. So have a conversation about that in as parents we can confess. Yeah. Maybe I'm looking at my screen a little too much too, but even the deeper question is why Well, if we're so overwhelmed by life and we want to escape and if we're not content, we often turn to our screens, to find fulfillment or relief.

Paul's words from Philippians can help us out. Philippians 4:12 Paul says, I have found the secret of being content in every and any situation. Have you found the secret of being content? If you have then screen time will really be an issue and that's true for our children, too. So, what does this mean, why I suppose bringing Christ more in meaningful ways into the home, and into our lives saying that, if we have him, we are truly content. And we can be masters of all our material possessions and screens not slaves to them. It's not going to happen overnight. Which because of our time. I think we're getting to that noon hour. It's probably time for a showdown. Maybe I'm using the Western analogy love too much. But what, what is really going on with why we experience curses behind the screens? Well, as much as we'd want to maybe blame the devil who's the source of all evil and obviously uses modern technology to destroy us. Please blame doesn't lie with him and though the world just loves immediate pleasure and loves to advance screen time for its own sinful, carnal purposes. And it's much as the world pressures us really we can't blame the world either.

And so this is the real difficult truth. We come to today. If we're making screens, a scapegoat there's something deeper that we ought to confess. You see the dark side of screens, reflects the sinful nature, the sinful heart.

I think this is a shocking, sobering reality. Every time we power down or screens laptop when you look into that black mirror what do you see? You see a faint reflection of yourself, friends. That's the cause, that's the cause for all the curses we experience with our screens. And isn't this exactly what Jesus was getting to. And Jesus was getting to this, to rescue us unless we see it this way there is no rescue from screens or anything else. Jesus says, listen to me, everyone in understand this. Nothing outside. A person can defile them by going into them right there. He was talking about food but this fits screens too. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. Now, after you'd left the crowd and enter the house, his disciples asked him about this, they were confused when you mean from inside you saying, something's wrong with us or it's outside us, right? And Jesus says, are you so dull? Don't you see that? Nothing, that enters a person from outside can defile them. What comes out of a person, is what defiles them for it is, from within out of a person's heart. That evil thoughts come, sexual immorality, theft murder, adultery, greed, malice deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.

All these evils come from inside in to defile a person. So if you struggle with social networking, And it's bringing you down, it's because there's a heart issue. It's full of Envy, or if it's pornography, it's because there's a heart issue, it's full of sexual immorality, this sinful side of us, or if it’s Predators. It's because there's folly where we think we can do more than we actually can. This is for our best intentions. We're still yes, not only victims, but it's a heart issue and time spent that's a heart issue. So here's the encouragement, Jesus said all these things. Why? So that he could restore our hearts. Give us new hearts. That's exactly why Jesus came into this world. We're about ready to celebrate that and Christmas. He came to fulfill and give us life in abundance by his righteousness because he knows whatever it is, screens are not, we fall short. So Jesus says here, take my heart. It is filled with the righteousness that will bless you. My righteousness is yours, and then he takes all that comes out of our hearts. And he puts it, upon himself, and he became cursed on a cross, and he washed all that away. He paid the dead for every last Sin from our screens. And I love. Comes out of the Grave three days later, you know, the story. But three days later with new life, And that's yours that power of the Resurrection means today is a new day. And if you're struggling and if you feel like you're a slave to whatever before your screen, you're not a Slave. You have the victory already in Jesus. You have new life and God is ready to bring it. And all its fullness to your experience. Again, next week, we'll talk more about that. We'll set up some boundaries so that we only receive blessings. Not curses. So every time you shut your screen down, Please remember this. Jesus' heart was pierced for that. Especially in those moments when you feel rotten. When someone tore you down on screen when you became vulnerable when you did it again. Oh no. Jesus' heart was pierced for that. Leave it at the cross. You are a dear child of God. No shame, no guilt, only life. And next week, Give you a little hint. You can't do it alone. That's why we're together. Lean on one another. And let's enjoy the wild west that has cyberspace in our screens because it is beautiful country. Let's just protect each other, from all, that's out there to hurt us. God bless us with this experience with our screens.