Words for Christian Hearts: Intentionally Connecting with God
I was recently asked to speak in Chapel for PCA’s middle and upper school students on the topic of “staying connected with God.” In preparing for this heart-to-heart discussion with tomorrow’s future Christian leaders, I was forced to reconcile my connectedness with our Heavenly Father.
As I prepared to address these students, I began to ask myself “how much secular information do I allow into my life?,” and I was shocked by my answer after I began to add up the different sources. I’m a political junkie, and at times, find myself nearly overwhelmed with the partisan bickering and media bias on TV and Twitter. As a young adult in the 70’s, I love the music produced in this decade so I had to ask “how much is that music helping my connection with God?” The answer – zero. The self-absorbed television shows that make up the majority of hit line-ups? Strike two. Blockbuster movies…strike three.
A 2017 Gallup research study indicates “three-quarters of Americans identify themselves as Christian.” However, it has also been noted this number continues to decline sharply and steadily as more Americans identify themselves as agnostic or atheist, especially younger generations. Less than 40% of millennials (ages 18-29) believe that religion is “very important” in their life according to a Pew Research Center poll on religious landscape earlier this year.
Among today’s continuous stream of information available on any type of screen imaginable, staying connected requires a deliberate act of turning off the world and focusing on the One who created it. And I must admit, I’ve struggled with staying as connected to God as I should be during periods of life. I get caught up in the busyness of life and don’t spend time with God. In talking with fellow Christians, it seems that I’m not the only one who struggles in this area of their faith. I didn’t come away from my reflection with feeling the need to completely withdraw from our secular society but knowing that I must remain committed to spending time with God.
As you evaluate your time with God or help your children reflect on their quiet time, we must ask ourselves how much secular influence should we allow in our lives. Each day we make approximately 35,000 decisions – most small and seemingly insignificant and others with significant implications that can alter our lives. Take a moment to think through this number…each waking hour we make more than 2,000 decisions which equate to nearly two decisions per second. Every person manages these decisions differently based on a variety of factors, but yet their collective weight in our lives, and our children’s life, is real and powerful. Are the decisions you make focused on God and his plan for our life? Do the small and insignificant decisions like entertainment choices affect a larger portion of our lives? These reminders are the ones I gave to our students in Chapel.
- Listen to Christian music. Music and lyrics that point us to God have grown to include almost every genre and style. Many popular Christian artists are now being played on secular radio!
- Filter movie & TV selections. Not all TV is bad and if you seek out wholesome shows and see movies that help you connect to God.
- Read the Word. While this seems clique, it’s true there’s no better way to connect from God than to read His word. I would argue that those who say they can’t hear God speak to them, don’t consistently read the Bible.
- Talk to God. There’s no substitute for spending time in prayer. Our Earthly relationships wouldn’t thrive without back and forth communication so how do we expect the one relationship that matters in eternity to grow without taking the time to talk to each other? While there’s a time and place for prayer on our knees before the King, I also believe that talking to God can be as easy as a modern-day text message – a thank you for waking us up, the sunny weather, a cherished friendship, etc. He’s always available for a quick SOS message right before a big meeting or presentation.
For many, these small changes in behavior seem too obvious, but for me, taking the time to be intentional about these choices has improved my daily outlook and helped me focus consistently on God.
My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5
Thank you for reading!
Ron Mitchell, Ed.D.