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Give Yourself a Tech Fast

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The Ahlman family struggles, too. Seriously, we struggle. Technology is striving to win the hearts and shorten the attention spans of every single person in my family. Sometimes tech wins.

Sometimes tech wins as the chance for a deep conversation is lost because of a phone alert.

Sometimes tech wins as hours slip by playing your favorite game, or scrolling through social media. You had meaningful plans for that time, but now it is lost. 

Sometimes tech wins as your meaning and identity in Christ is compromised because of envy for the lives of others. You are enough. 

I could go on and on, yet, consider the irony of this. I have this mid-morning hour set aside to write this blog, and I’ve been engaged by my kids two times with the question, “When can we go?” I quickly say, “Right after Daddy gets done typing this blog about how we should not be on our screens.” You see - this is tough. I struggle. My family struggles. 

Thankfully there is grace. Thankfully Jesus came. Thankfully Jesus forgives, restores and offers a new, light way to live. Under the gracious umbrella of God’s grace through faith in Jesus, I get to re-evaluate everything in my life. Daily. This is not a heavy burden. It’s the adventure of a lifetime as my life (and our lives) are continually transformed more and more into the image of Jesus. No, perfection is not our goal, until the Perfect One returns. Continued growth in holiness for the sake of our neighbor is the goal. Thankfully Jesus gave us the promised Holy Spirit. 

Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8-9 have been resonating with me lately. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

This is the daily question. Is my tech helping me focus on the whatever Paul speaks about. Sometimes the answer is “yes.” Other times “no.” We must pray for discernment to know when our tech is helping us, and when it is hurting us. 

Toward that end I’d like to give you 3 tips for managing your technology usage. Keep in mind, we’re not going back to a tech less time; and frankly, I don’t want to. The outlet technology can serve for the Gospel is amazing! Technology is here to stay, but we must control it, rather than be controlled by it. 

Tip #1 - Give Yourself a Tech Fast 

After this blog is written we are taking a 48 hour tech family fast. We’re going to the beach. We’ll read. We’ll laugh. We’ll talk. It will be fun. It will be a detox of sorts. When can you take a tech fast? Lent is a great time for one.

Tip #2 - Ask Jesus for help to develop your “adaptive unconscious.” 

Only 5 percent of what we daily do is based on conscious, deliberate choice. The rest of our behaviors are “below the surface,” governed by all sorts of learned, yet now unconscious ways of intending and navigating the world.

Our goal is to establish our “adaptive unconscious.” This leads to “automaticities.” This learning came from the book, “You Are What You Love” by James K.A. Smith.

What are our born with “automaticities”? What is by nature “automatic” in us? Sin, selfishness, self-preservation, hardness of heart. I don’t have to train my children to be selfish, nor did I have to train myself. Sin is, by nature since Genesis chapter three, automatically hard-wired into us. These “automaticities” must be unlearned and replaced with characteristics of a “new way” centered in the life and values of Jesus.

Why did Jesus come? Yes - Jesus came to give forgiveness through the cross and empty tomb. Yet, Jesus also came to show us what being “fully human” looks like. Jesus had amazing rhythms to show us what sacrifice, service, silence and retreat to the Father looks like. Jesus is our Savior...and the one who yearns to shape our adaptive unconscious by the power of His Spirit in us.

If “good” and solid character were hardwired into us Paul would not have spent so much time writing about character formation in all of this letters, especially in Philippians 4 (listed above). 

I’ve found that the best way to change our “adaptive unconscious” is to let people into our daily rhythms. Set a tech limiting goal and invite someone to hold you accountable for accomplishing it. Ask them to check on you daily or weekly. This will go a long way toward shaping your “adaptive unconscious” which controls your often automatic desires to engage technology. 

Tip #3 - Ask Jesus to re-story you and your family toward God’s “telos/end.”

Let’s be honest, technology does not always help tell God’s story in our lives. It can, but it often doesn’t. Technologies main goal is ease and entertainment. Often this goal directly contradicts God’s end goal for you.

What is your end goal? Health, wealthy, prosperity, security, ease, etc. 

What is God’s end goal for you? To use you as an ambassador of Christ in this fallen world.

Why do you go to church? To get filled up? Get God off your back? Please your spouse? 

Why does Jesus want you to go to church? To be re-storied. You get to be re-centered out of your selfish story that the world promotes, and, instead be recentered in God’s story.

That is what the weekly liturgy goes.

Invocation - you receive your baptismal promise.

Confession and Absolution - an acknowledgement of who you are apart from Jesus - sinful...and now who you are with Jesus. Forgiven.

Reading and Hearing the Word - the greatest story of all time becomes yours.

Prayers - you pause to thank, praise, and ask Jesus for help.

Lord’s Supper - you receive the presence of Jesus with others who need His presence too.

Benediction - you go into the world as peaceful ambassadors of all that the Triune God has done, is doing, and will do.

This amazing liturgy re-stories you.

I pray these three tips have helped you re-evaluate your use of technology this Lenten season. Now, I’m turning this thing off. I'm taking a Tech Fast. Peace and joy! Jesus is so good!