Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Vacation For Your TV

Leslie Basham: There’s something in your house that might keep your heart from being revived.

(Television) “Fighting continues today for a seventh day . . .”

Bob DeMoss: You never hear someone on television say you are dismissed. Have a nice day.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Right.

Bob: They always say . . .

Nancy: . . . stay tuned.

Bob: Yes, but wait, there’s more, coming up tonight and they list the whole thing of all the stuff you got to have and none of us want to miss out on any of this stuff. After a while you say, “What is this doing to us?”

Leslie: It’s Monday, July 24th, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: Well, I think that the series of programs you’re about to hear this week may be one of the most important and life-changing series that you have heard us offer on Revive Our Hearts. I am very excited about the opportunity to talk about this subject and I'm really praying that the Lord will use this series in a life-changing way in many, many of our listeners’ lives. But let me say first that I am really delighted to introduce today a very special guest, Bob DeMoss. Bob, welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Bob: Oh, Nancy, it’s good to be here.

Nancy: And how many times have you been asked, “How are you related to Nancy DeMoss?”

Bob: My entire life.

Nancy: I’ve been asked, “How are you related to Bob DeMoss?” Why don’t you explain it.

Bob: Yes, it’s like, “Is it your sister? Is it your wife or your husband?” No, this is my first cousin.

Nancy: Our dads were brothers.

Bob: And we grew up in the same city—Philadelphia. We’ve both been involved heavily in ministry and so our paths sort of zigzagged across the country; but no, aside from being great first cousins, that’s as close as we get.

Nancy: And friends, we have a really similar heart for reaching people.

Bob: Oh, absolutely.

Nancy: Bob is an author, and being a writer myself, I know some of what that involves. He’s a speaker. He’s been involved a lot in youth culture issues, helping parents and teens understand some of the things they see in this culture.

You’ve written a book we want to talk about this week, but I want to introduce it by reading something that you wrote in the introduction. You make a claim in the introduction that sounds to me like one of those infomercials for some product that just sounds too good to be true. Here’s what you said:

“I know of a way for you to transform all aspects of your life and, if married, that of your entire family. From increasing intimacy with your spouse, getting housework and home projects completed, saving extra money, even losing weight, to watching your children develop a love for books, play, and creative expression—they’re all within your reach.”

And then you say, “Best of all, it costs nothing to get started and the entire process takes just 30 days, although many benefits will be noticed almost immediately.”

Now, we’re not talking about some kitchen knives here or some new kind of fabulous vacuum cleaner. What’s this secret formula for success?

Bob: I mean it really does—as you’re describing it, I’m thinking that sounds too good to be true, that you could radically transform your entire life in just 30 days, but it really is true. And that’s simply by sending your television on a 30-day vacation—going TV-free for a month.

Now, one of the things that I believe will happen in that modest step of unplugging the TV . . . Going TV-free for 30 days has the power to revolutionize your relationships with your wife, with your children and, most importantly, with the Lord.

Nancy: You’ve written a book on this topic. It’s called TV: The Great Escape. The subtitle is Life-Changing Stories From Those Who Dared to Take Control. Several years ago you did an experiment which became really the basis for this book, TV: The Great Escape.

Let me just say, I hope that all of our listeners will order a copy of this book this week. It is engaging; it is humorous; it is challenging; it is potent, and I think it will be truly life-changing. But tell us how you got started. What gave you the idea to do this experiment, and what was it all about?

Bob: Well, it’s interesting. For 20 years I have been traveling the country talking on pop culture issues, as you mentioned, Nancy. I worked at Focus on the Family for a number of years, and I would meet moms who would say, “My kid are shutting down, or they’re freaking out, or I wish I could control them, or their imaginations are just . . . all they can do is to watch TV, or my husband is a couch potato, or our family is shut down. I just can’t imagine what to do about it.”

And I would say, “Why don’t you just turn it off?” “Oh, can’t do that.” “No, seriously, why don’t you just turn it off for a month and see what happens?”

Then I found myself on a program in the Philadelphia area on WFIL. I threw out a challenge to the Delaware Valley. I said, “Guys, why don’t you all just try this and journal the experience. Go TV-free for 30 days and see what happens in your family, in your family life, in your relationships.

“I know it’s going to be hard at first. I realize when you announce this, the kids are going to get the shakes; they’re going to begin to sweat; there’s going to be this sense of ‘Oh, we can’t do it.’ There might even be some mutiny, but . . .”

Nancy: Or say that you’re guilty of child abuse.

Bob: Yes, right. There are people who will do that, of course. Family and friends who don’t understand what you’re trying to do. But when you cut loose and you see what happens, I believe the payoff is going to be worth the time and effort made on this.

Well, we got hundreds of letters and journals from people in the Delaware Valley who chronicled their experience, and the letters, the journals, the feedback, just convinced me—overwhelmed me—that TV is doing great damage to our families and to our Christian life.

I’m not saying the goal of this whole thing, Nancy, is to go without TV forever. But for 30 days to know that you could revolutionize your family life and gain a new appreciation for one another, it seems like it’s well worth it.

Nancy: And if you can’t do it for 30 days, what does that really say?

Bob: Exactly. We’re not supposed to be a slave to anything, let nothing be master over us and, indeed, that is what has happened. We have become so dominated by the other side that it spiritually neutralizes us.

Nancy: I heard a story about a preacher who challenged his congregation to put their TV in the closet for 30 days, and one man came back and said it didn’t work. The preacher asked why not. And he said, “Because I couldn’t get the whole family in the closet!”

So we say we’re not addicted, but there may be more of a bondage and an enslavement there than we even realize. If there is anything in my life other than Christ and the people that God has put into my life that I can’t give up for 30 days, then I probably need to—just for the exercise of self-control.

Bob: Well, it’s interesting, too. One of the persons who responded said, “I lost four pounds. I wasn’t even trying to lose weight. I didn’t change my eating habits. Just turning the TV off . . .”

Nancy: Getting off the couch.

Bob: And getting off the couch, being more active, and the tendency also when you’re on the couch is to munch. That’s the thing that television producers . . . Their goal is to have us plugged in and shut down for as long as possible.

I mean, you never hear someone on television say you are dismissed. Have a nice day. They always say, “but wait, there’s more coming up tonight,” and they list the whole thing of all the stuff you got to have and none of us want to miss out on any of this stuff.

After a while, we say, "What is this doing to us?" That was the question I was challenging the listeners with—as I would today, also. What has television done for you in terms of enhancing your spiritual growth?

Nancy: Boy, I’ll tell you, Bob, that’s the question that several years ago really caused me to make some dramatic changes in my TV viewing habits because I knew in my heart that this TV thing had just subtly crept in and was becoming background noise in my life.

I grew up without a television in our home, but now I was an adult and had just let it seep into my pores. I would come home late at night and would be tired. I was living alone and would just use it for company.

I began to realize—the Spirit of God just made it so clear to me—that my relationship with the Lord would be better off, that I would have more heart and more hunger for spiritual things. I had sapped myself of spiritual life and energy by watching the television.

I really wrestled with that for longer than I would like to admit—a period of weeks and months—but I just kept coming back to that question. What is this doing to your spiritual life? Would you be better off without it? That’s really what helped me to make a huge decision, not just for 30 days, but as I’ve shared with our listeners before, to make what was for me a needed decision.

That is, I don’t watch TV when I’m alone. I just don’t turn it on. When I go into a hotel room, in my house, if I’m alone, I just don’t watch it. I couldn’t afford to. The difference in my heart, my spirit, my walk with the Lord (not to speak of things I was getting done and better use of time) within days was dramatic. I mean it was huge.

So that’s why I’ve become a firm believer of really challenging people to think about the role of the television in their life, in their family. We’re going to talk this week about how it affects children, about how it affects marriages, about links that are being shown now between children and TV viewing habits and things like violence and ADD and ADHD. We’ll talk about some of those things.

But just give us a summary of this “30-day-turn-off-TV” fast. Tell us what it means and we’re going to challenge our listeners to do that and to let us know on www.ReviveOurHearts.com that you’re making this commitment, that you’re taking this challenge. So tell us what the challenge is.

Bob: In a nutshell, what you do is you pick the 30 days. You just decide I’m going to take all the TVs and put them in the basement, or if you’ve got one of those giant screen ones that would heat half the neighborhood in the winter, you might have to put a tablecloth over the front of it. But the idea is you want to unplug from the “TV drug.”

You want to be totally unable to watch TV and hide the remote controls and unpack your self-control. For 30 days what you will do is you will pull out the games, you will pull out the toys, the arts, the paint, the books, and you will create alternative experiences while you watch no TV—and that means none.

We’re not even going to watch second-hand TV, like second-hand smoke. Second-hand TV is everywhere you go these days. You will practice averting your eyes and not stopping outside of Best Buy or Circuit City and watching a wall of TVs or something to get your fix. No TV for 30 days.

Nancy: Now, chances are you have some questions. What about . . . ? How will we handle this? We’re going to address those questions this week. How do you get your husband to agree to this? What if your kids think you’ve lost your mind?

We’ll talk about some of those issues, but I think even right now God is speaking to some of your hearts and saying this is a challenge you need to take, so as they say on TV, “stay tuned.”

Bob: “We’ll be right back.”

Nancy: “We’ll be right back.” Go to our website and let us know when you have made this decision for you or for your family. Then we’re going to want to hear some of the stories of what takes place in your life and in your family when you make that great escape from what has become for so many people a deadly and dangerous and destructive enemy in their lives and in their homes.

Leslie: That’s our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, with her cousin, Bob DeMoss, who wrote a book called TV: The Great Escape. It’s worth mentioning here that we want to be even more specific in our challenge to you. Let’s all take the 30-Day TV-Free Challenge during the month of August. That’s right. Make August a TV-free month.

There’s more information at our website where you can find out how to get the TV-Free Pack, which includes Bob’s book, and then get this—something very special. The Revive Our Hearts team has designed an attractive sticker-type reminder for you to temporarily place on your TV screen. It’s hard for me to describe here, but you can see a picture of it at our website. We’re including two of these TV clings in the TV-Free Challenge Pack. They’ll help remind you why that box is so dark and quiet.

If you’re thinking, “I can’t do it; television is such a normal part of my life,” be sure to keep listening this week. We’ll hear from a recovering self-admitted TV addict. She didn’t think she could do it either. If you prefer to call us, that number is 1-800-569-5959. Nancy.

Nancy: Tomorrow we’ll be talking about the effects of television viewing on children, and I think you’ll hear some things that will be really startling. I know many of you are moms who care a lot about your kids and your future and their spiritual condition and their walk with the Lord, their future marriage.

So many of these things are affected by decisions that you are making in your home today in relation to TV and other forms of media, so plan to join us tomorrow.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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