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Friday, June 3, 2016

Eating a Box of Doughnuts

(I learned after writing this earlier in the week that today is National Doughnut Day.)

I love doughnuts and Richmond is a mecca for great doughnuts. Krispy Kreme is two miles from my study. Sugar Shack is four miles from my house. I haven't been to the Duck Donuts here, but i’ve been to the one in Duck, and wow. Dunkin’ Donuts is two miles from my house. Not as good, but I don’t usually turn them down. Now, I don't average eating a donut per month, but I sure do like them. There is nothing like a Krispy Kreme just after it's come off the conveyor belt (which I could go do right now if I chose to).

But eating a whole box of doughnuts, yourself  . . .  everyone knows that’s a terrible idea. But let's use the idea of eating a box as a metaphor for something that’s ok to do a little of, but not good to do a whole bunch of. Let me show you what i mean. 

Monday, Memorial Day, I did not feel well. It was the worst day of a cold or allergy thing. But I got up early anyway and hit the ground running. I followed my morning disciplines as usual: reading, Bible reading and prayer time for an hour and a half or so. Then I was able to get in about an hour of message work. But then we had other things on the schedule. 

When we returned a couple of hours later, I was tired,  didn't feel good, and had been up a long time. I laid down, but instead of napping or reading, I started watching a crime drama on my phone that I like. No problem, right? That depends. I have a bit of an addictive personality and with streaming video, like doughnuts it can be hard to stop at just one. Over the course of the afternoon I watched 4 or 5 episodes, that's 4 or 5 hours, almost the equivalent of watching three movies! Then that evening I watched a movie with Kat and Noelle. Again, you may be thinking, it was ok to take it easy. But I didn’t feel good about it.

The consequences of my actions were clear on Tuesday. My ability to focus on the serious work of sermon prep was greatly diminished. I could not focus. My mind was addled by so much consumption of entertainment the day before. I depend on being able to spend at least two hours per day studying and no matter what I tried, nothing worked. My mind, nor my heart would engage. 

Occasionally people tell me, “Gene, I can’t read the Bible, I don’t get anything out of it.” I can’t help but wonder if that is not the result of a distracted state of mind, due to gobs of mindless entertainment. That atrophies our ability to engage God in his word.  

Tuesday evening, I came across this paragraph in a book on leadership. Regarding a leader’s reading it said: 
You should read a book or article only for what it is worth. If you find that the book is not contributing to your life and leadership, set it aside. The world is filled with books and other reading material. And in this respect, time is more valuable than money. Is the book making you think? Do you find that it is sparking new thoughts and reflections as you read? If so, read on. If not, set it down and move on.
From Conviction to Lead, Al Mohler
If a book isn't making me think I should not waste time on it. Watching Netflix almost never makes me think. It is the equivalent of eating donuts. And a good donut every now and then is wonderful. But if I eat a whole box of them at once, it is going to make me feel lousy.

Eating a box of doughnuts literally or figuratively has numerous negative effects:
  1. Remorse. You know you shouldn’t.
  2. It makes you feel bad
  3. It’s not good for you in the long run. 
  4. It has a way of encouraging more of that behavior in the future.
  5. You feel useless for doing anything else for a good while.

For the sake of being able to meet God in his word we must learn to discipline ourselves (and children in our care). We need our brains to think, to be creative, and to listen to God. There's too much of great importance to be done in the world to gorge ourselves on the wrong stuff.

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