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My Netflix Had No Chill

Written By Tiffany Rogers, USA

Let me tell you a story: A young woman comes home after a long day. She sets her things down, throws her hair up, and changes into comfy clothes in record time. Breathing a deep sigh of reliefshe grabs her laptop and flips it open. The screen illuminates, showing the last webpage she visited: Netflix. 

The familiar words appear on the screen: Playback Timed Out. Her muscle memory kicks in and she hits “refresh” as the episode she fell asleep on continues, right where she left off. 

This is how she spends her evening. Maybe she eats, maybe she showers, and maybe she talks to some people. But at any given moment, and especially in bed getting ready to fall asleep, she is watching Netflix. 

The end. 

Now, let me tell you a secret: For months, that girl was me.

Don’t get me wrong; I had a social life, I had friends, and I even had a boyfriend. But when people asked what my “hobbies” were, I had to lie by deflection. I said things like, “Oh, I enjoy reading. I write sometimes. I love the outdoors!” Because I certainly couldn’t tell them, “I literally spend all of my free time watching The Office on Netflix.” 

Here’s the thing: Netflix was my escape from life, from stress, from feelings, and from people. I used the shows I watched on Netflix to keep fear and depression at bay. If I was watching Netflix, nothing could hurt me. 

I know that sounds extreme because it was extreme. Netflix was my therapy, my shield, and my safety. I couldn’t even go in the kitchen to make food without bringing Netflix with me to play in the background while I cooked.

That was my reality. But it wasn’t that I was a lazy bum without anything better to do. It was that at the root of my incessant Netflix binge, something was terribly wrong. Something was awry in my heart, and it caused fear and depression to hover over me like an individualized dark rain cloud, and Netflix was my perpetual umbrella. 

Then, something happened. The relationship I was in was crumbling. I had known for a long time it wasn’t right, and I suddenly found myself at a place where everything I held dearest was slipping through my fingers: my future, my plans, my pride and my love.

That breakup was how the Lord got ahold of me. For a long time I knew I needed to turn back to Him and finally listen to His voice. He had been whispering into my soul, like a parent whispers too closely in a child’s ear when chastising at a dinner table, and the whisper makes them flinch and squirm because it tickles, but not in a funny way. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves, He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) 

In my life, I had stopped seeking God. I chased feelings and intuitions instead of prayerfully asking the Lord for guidance and peace. I listened to my own overly emotional and foolish heart over listening to the wisdom and discernment of the Holy Spirit. In no uncertain terms, I was running. I had found what I thought I wanted, and I didn’t want to hear what God had to say, for fear it would contradict my desires. 

And on the surface of it all, I Netflixed the days away. While my heart was wasting in torture and turmoil, I naively believed the longer I watched Netflix, the longer I could put off the change I knew needed to happen. 

As a result, I gladly gave Him the attention I once rendered to Netflix and all my social media platforms. I found a year-long Bible reading plan and started reading the Bible as well as embarking on some devotionals. I also dove into Christian books by authors like Gary Thomas, John Bevere and Timothy Keller, among others. I used that time instead to seek Him diligently. My desire became to know Him intimately and to grow my love for Him unlike ever before. Now, I can humbly say that God is my greatest love, and my desire is for Him. 

Maybe for you it’s not Netflix. Maybe it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Maybe your job is your shield, or your spouse is your escape. Maybe a hobby, an addiction or a toxic relationship is causing your growing separation from the Lord. In any case, I want to challenge you to look inside your heart. Ask yourself honestly if you’re running to anything before running to God for guidance, safety, and peace. Is anything besides Jesus taking the first place in your heart? 

If so, be encouraged. Just as you are sick of running and hiding behind something or someone, Jesus is just as eager and ready to receive you with open arms. Matthew 7:7 tells us: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” It is a breath of fresh air knowing that as we seek Him, we find Him. He doesn’t hide Himself from us, rather, He pulls us out of our deep ruts (which we often create ourselves), and places us right next to Him with nothing but love in His heart and tenderness in His eyes. 

Are you ready to make a change? Here’s a prayer you can follow:

Lord, forgive me for placing other things or people on the throne of my heart. I surrender to You, and my desire is for You to be my greatest love. Give me courage to remove whatever is taking up my affection, that I may replace it with my earnest love for You. Teach me to love You more than ever before. I want to know You, God. Reveal yourself to me through your Holy Spirit, that I might grow in closeness with You, my Heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

 

This article was originally published on the writer’s blog  here. This version has been edited by YMI.

Is Masturbation Your Master?

“The M word.” “McDonald’s.” These are some of the words I’ve heard people use to refer to the act of sexual self-stimulation, otherwise known as masturbation.

My earliest memory of it was when I was around five or six years old. I must have discovered by accident that touching my private parts felt good at a very early age, and I was hooked on it since.

Even though I’d accepted Christ around the age of nine, no one taught me what the Bible said about it. To me, there was nothing wrong with masturbation because I couldn’t see any harm in doing it.

As I grew older, out of curiosity, I started to read up about the Christian view on masturbation. Most, if not all, of the articles spoke against the act, noting that it was accompanied by lust, brought about by sexual fantasy or pornography. I concluded that the main argument against masturbation was that it easily led one into the sin of lust, so I thought that as long as it didn’t result in lustful thoughts, there wasn’t anything to be worried about.

Though I did not fall deep into pornography—which I’m extremely thankful to God for, because that would have made it doubly addictive—I had developed the habit of sexual fantasizing. I tried to break the habit on a few occasions, but because I wasn’t quite convinced that it was that wrong, I’d return to it soon after.

In 2014, God began to break my bondage to sexual brokenness in several areas. One of them was masturbation. After one particular Sunday in April that year, my desire for the habit suddenly decreased significantly, without me doing anything about it. God allowed me to experience a period of supernatural freedom from that habit for a few months.

But after a while, the desire returned to the level it was before. However, having known what freedom from masturbation was like, I now realized that God was showing me that it wasn’t part of His will for me. I knew it was an act that could neither glorify God nor edify me—even if it wasn’t accompanied by the lust of sexual fantasy or pornography.

I am now on a journey of unlearning this habit, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

 

It can be an addiction

Through my years of struggling with sexual brokenness in this and other areas, I’ve discovered that sexual desire is like an appetite—the more I feed it, the more it grows. Masturbation had become addictive, and ruled over me as my master. I was no longer able to say “no” to it; instead, I helplessly obeyed its beckoning whenever the desire came.

This certainly isn’t a picture of the freedom and fullness of life Jesus intended for me to have (Galatians 5:1; John 10:10).

 

It can erode self-control

My habit of masturbation led me to think that sexual pleasure was within easy reach whenever I wanted it. It eroded my sense of self-control over my sexual desires. Why wait to experience sexual pleasure when I can have what I want immediately?

The Bible says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28). The danger of having no self-control was that it left me vulnerable to being attacked by unhealthy or ungodly forces.

The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of “self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7), and one of the fruit He produces is “self-control” (Galatians 5:23). How can I be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) if I don’t let Him empower me to have self-discipline or cultivate the fruit of self-control?

 

It can be a way of avoiding deeper issues

When I looked back on the times when I was drawn to masturbation, I realized that those were often the times when I had an underlying pain or discomfort I didn’t want to deal with, or when I was feeling lonely or deep sadness, and craved the comfort of sexual pleasure.

Other times, it was when I was feeling frustrated, stressed out or angst about something, and I wanted to numb myself with a sexual high, to momentarily forget about what was bothering me. And there were times when I was simply bored, and sought a moment of exhilaration.

But it was a vicious cycle. Whenever these issues weren’t addressed in a healthy way, they continued to build up and cause me more distress—which in turn drove me to masturbation and other unhealthy means to cope with the pain even more. But each time, the pleasure was temporary and I was left having to deal with a sense of guilt and emptiness afterward.

As part of my journey out of masturbation, I have to remind myself not to turn to it as a means of quick relief again. Instead, I’m learning to talk to God about what I’m feeling, so that I can process my thoughts and emotions with Him, asking Him for His perspective on what’s troubling me and then standing upon His truths.

Over time, the more I experience God’s reliable comfort for the underlying issues that bother me, the more I’m able to turn away from the false, short-lived comforts of masturbation and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

 

It misses the mark of God’s best for us

The Bible doesn’t call masturbation a sin, but I believe it’s one of those things that we are called to throw off because it can hinder us from running the race of faith well (Hebrews 12:1-2).

American author and speaker Dannah Gresh, in her book What Are You Waiting For?: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex, makes the case that God’s intended design for our sexuality is for us to know and be known, and to be deeply respected by the person with whom we are in a marriage covenant. Therefore, she believes masturbation misses the mark of God’s ideal purpose for our sexual desire.

I agree with her. In all my years of being caught up in the habit of masturbation, it taught my mind to think that sexual pleasure was all about taking instead of giving, and it trained my body to be accustomed to experiencing sexual pleasure in a certain way—mine. This way of living out my sexuality doesn’t help me to know and be known by another person.

I believe that God’s intent for a marriage covenant is for a man and a woman to be giving and submitting to each other out of love (Ephesians 5:21-32). This applies to their sexual union as well—husband and wife are to devote themselves to giving the other person sexual pleasure out of their love for each other. In their giving, they receive as well. However, if each person is focused on taking sexual pleasure from the other, the mutual joys of their sexual union would be diminished. That’s hardly a picture of mutual submission—it’s of one or both dominating over the other.

For this reason, I don’t believe masturbation bears out the will of God for my sexuality, even if my singleness were to be lifelong. When I miss God’s mark for my life, I also don’t experience God’s best in my life.

 

There is hope

You might be in a habit of masturbation and want to find freedom from it. There is hope, because God delights to bring restoration into our lives.

If you’ve been masturbating to (visual or emotional) pornography or sexual fantasy, reducing and eventually removing these two things in your life is a good start to decreasing the addictive power of the act.

I’ve found that the more I spend time with the Lord—worshipping Him in song, reading His Word, praying to Him, building relationships in a Christ-centered community, ministering to others, etc.—the more I’m able to turn away from the urge to masturbate. This, for me, is how I have learned and applied the wisdom of Galatians 5:16-17 in my life: “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”

If you, like me, have been using masturbation as a coping mechanism, I encourage you to examine the deeper issues you’ve been trying to avoid. Dealing with them may be uncomfortable, even painful, but I’ve seen for myself that it’s worth it because the cost of not addressing them healthily is even greater. God is there to examine these issues with you, and He will provide the comfort and help you need as you courageously take steps to seek His restoration.

I may stumble now and then, but I still hope to finally find total freedom from masturbation. Will you join me on this journey of experiencing God’s freedom in this area of your life?

Porn Says Vs Love Says

Title: Porn Says vs Love Says
Materials: Digital Illustration
Description: Pornography is a global issue. It lurks everywhere in our everyday existence, but in secrecy behind closed doors. We are all susceptible to this temptation of pornography but some of us may be deeply lured in. This project is to raise awareness of this everyday struggle by illustrating what pornography says and contrasting it with what love says instead. May you find the strength to overcome any temptation and guilt you might have with pornography with His truth and Word.

This project is done in collaboration with illustrator Willa.

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Hebrews 13:4

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

 

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Colossians 2:9-14
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

 

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Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

 

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Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

 

 

 

Why I Deleted Pokemon Go

It all started because of a dream. One about Pokemons, or more specifically, evolving a Pidgeotto into a Pidgeot.

Admittedly, I was evolving some of my Pokemons before hitting the sack, but to actually dream about the virtual monsters was another thing altogether. I remember waking up abruptly in the middle of the night—bemused and slightly worried.

I shared my silly dream with family and friends the next morning in mock horror, adding that it was probably a sign that I was playing too much of Pokemon Go. Many concurred in amusement, some suggesting that I might be getting addicted to the augmented-reality game. Fair enough, I replied, maybe I should delete the app.

For the record, I was about three weeks into playing the game, and had just reached level 14. Of the 158 Pokemons I had caught (not including those I had exchanged with the professor for candy), there were rare ones like Electrabuzz, Dratini, and Jynx. And thanks to my quest that fateful night to evolve my Pokemons, I now had a couple of Raticates, a Golduck, a Pidgeot, and a Weepinbell.

But the dream, along with some earlier instances, felt a little disconcerting. For one, I’ve never really been a “games” person, so the amount of time I was investing in Pokemon Go, was starting to surprise even myself. Second, as much as the game had served as a useful conversation starter with people whom I rarely spoke to, I realized the converse was true as well. I had, on a number of occasions, intentionally chose to spin Pokestops, set up lures and catch Pokemons, instead of engage in a good conversation with friends.

Third, since I started playing the game, a number of well-meaning friends had sent me articles and text messages about the dangers of playing Pokemon Go. One asked if there were Bible verses which categorically stated that playing Pokemon Go was wrong, while some commented that it was “satanic” as well as “addictive”. (I find the term “satanic” a tricky position to take, but that’s for another day. It was more the latter reason I could identify with.)

So, I decided it was time to take a break. Stop playing Pokemon Go for a couple of days.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult. I didn’t suffer from any withdrawal symptoms or feel the need to click on the app. But just before I could give myself a pat on the back, I heard myself say, “Hang on, didn’t you say you wanted to delete the app?”

That’s when the hemming and hawing begin. “But I’m not addicted. Look, I didn’t even touch the app for two days! Just leave it as it is. Maybe my friends will forget. Just don’t talk about deleting it anymore.” I almost convinced myself—till one friend followed up and asked if I had deleted it as planned.

I didn’t want to admit it to her, but the reality was that I struggled to let my Pokemons go. (Yes, I know they’re not real and it sounds pathetic.) Each time I scrolled through the list of Pokemons I had, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride.

The longer I sat on the decision however, the more annoyed I got with myself. It was also starting to become an issue of keeping my word. “Now, if I don’t delete the app, it’s just going to show that I’m really addicted. Just delete the game and move on with life,” I finally told myself.

So, on a bright and cheery Monday morning, I mustered up whatever resolve I had at the point and deleted the app. Almost immediately, I felt relieved, liberated, and proud. There, I had finally deleted the app. Who said I was addicted? Free from the crutches of Pokemon Go, I found myself using my time a lot more productively each day . . . not true.

Well initially, yes. I did make a conscious effort to use my free time more effectively. Instead of fiddling with the app and trying to spin as many Pokestops while on the train commute to work each morning, I read my Bible. And unlike the past, I would intentionally put my phone aside whenever I met up with friends for a meal or to chit-chat so that I could give my full attention to the conversations that were taking place.

But it didn’t last. Over time, I found myself reverting back to my previous past-time before the arrival of Pokemon Go—watching YouTube videos and scrolling through the newsfeeds on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Contrary to what I believed, deleting Pokemon Go did not lead to a better use of my free time. Because it was never about Pokemon Go in the first place. The reality was simply this: I had a propensity to waste time. Pokemon Go or not, I would always be finding something to get distracted by as long as I didn’t solve my root issue—valuing things of the world above things of God.

The game was merely a convenient scapegoat I had blamed for my own lack of discipline and failure to prioritize what was really important. Sure, deleting the app may have worked initially and may be worth considering (for some) but there are many other things in this world like it. Things that are seemingly good, like exercise, food or even work, could be just as “dangerous” to some of us.

Those who play Pokemon Go are not any better off or worse off from those who don’t play it. What each of us needs to do is to honestly ask ourselves what are the things that rob us from spending time with God, delighting in and enjoying Him—and why. Instead of finding fault with things, let’s devote our attention and energy to growing in our appreciation and love for God. Then, it doesn’t matter what comes after Pokemon Go, we’d still be rooted in our faith.

Let’s not give Pokemon Go all the credit.