I've already addressed two of the biggest UN-Avoidable time-consumers, but what about the things that ARE avoidable? The things that we CAN take out of our schedule? Here's some practical steps to avoiding the avoidable. Psalm 16:11 says "In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand pleasures forevermore." We don't need those things; we need God. So let's do some life-cleaning, shall we?
a. (Social) Internet
The internet has become one of the largest problems for Christians recently, who become quickly reeled in to be glued to the screen. While the internet is not bad-it can be useful and even productive, overuse, unproductiveness or even evil sites have been crawling onto the desktops of Christians. The biggest problem lies, I think, in the social networking, which consumes thousands of hours from Christians that could be used for God. But there are ways to monitor (or get rid of it) fully.
1. Set up hours/limits for your online use.
It really helps me if I just decide that I'm not going to use Facebook every day. All it is is telling your temptation to get online "I'm sorry, but let's just wait until tomorrow. We don't need to do it today." Satan will tell you that you do need to do it now, and sometimes there is a real reason that you need to check your social pages. But oftentimes it is just a way to burn time. The price is too high to waste on this! We pay attention to burning as little fuel as possible because of its five dollar price: your time and spiritual life are priceless!
2. Use it for edifying purposes.
If you find yourself just scrolling randomly around the internet, that's when it's time to get off. Rather than looking down your "news feed", following random friend's pages, or just posting a status about your recent escapade of eating a bagel (which really interests everyone else, I'm sure), why not post a Bible verse? Send a note to a friend who's having a hard time? Or better yet, blog?
3. If it is in your power, get rid of it.
If the only people on your social internet are either mostly strangers or people who you already see three times a week, it might be time to get rid of your Facebook. Sometimes that may not be possible; but if it is, it may be time to reconsider your priorities.
Recent movies, like Fireproof, Courageous, and Amazing Grace have brought great Christian films to many. But the television is one of the worst for consuming time that could be used well. The average American watches 4 hours of TV every day-which will amount to 9 years of television by the time they are 65. Even if you don't watch 4 hours of TV every day (or week, even), it may be time to think about why you watch it.
1. Spend Your Time Well
As I said before, setting a time limit for yourself is a great way to keep track. You can set yourself to maybe a limit of time or on how many movies you watch. A TV fast is also a great way to improve your walk with God-every time you want to watch TV, you go spend time with God instead. I'd recommend trying it!
2. Watch God-Glorifying Movies
Not every movie that is good necessarily has a "Christian" message-some very good movies aren't "Christian." But many Christians have become hardened to swearing, bad jokes, and other things in movies. We justify it by saying "Well, that movie is great! The one swear word can't bother God, can it?" Well in truth, the smallest sin and compromise brothers God, and if we take one step down we'll just want to take one lower.
3. If You Can, Remove the Distraction
It may not be possible to throw out your family's TV, but if you can it could cause a wave of difference in your spiritual walk. If you get rid of your TV and find a good movie, you can always watch it with your computer or watch it with a friend.
UnChrisitian Music, Books
The UnChristian music and book genre is a touchy place, one of those gray areas in Christianity. But I'm not on a position on whether secular things are actually wrong (assuming that they don't contradict any Biblical precepts). I think that we need to stop asking, How far can I go before it's not in God's boundary lines?-but we should be asking How far can I go to honor God in this area of my life? This is what the Bible says we should do-"Do ALL for the glory of God." is what the apostle Paul says. So here are some tips in the area of secular music and books.
1. Let Yourself Be Open
The first step is always to be willing to give it up. This willingness may not come over night, but with a firm prayer that He would help you to let it go and a real try, He will bring you through.
2. Obey His Commands
This is harder, even if you have allowed yourself to be open. There will be excuses from your flesh. Maybe you don't listen to the non-Christian radio station, but you have a couple of Taylor Swift songs on your iPod. "That can't be bad, right? Or really, Eragon? That book is totally fine! The Hunger Games? Really? God, you're getting into the extreme." Well...news flash, Christianity is the extreme. And if you're going to go under its banner, you'd better be prepared to live like it.
I highly recommend taking a break (or removing) distractions from your schedule. And believe me, I am anything but a finished piece in this part of life. But with work-and prayer-all things are possible.