Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss wants to know, “How does what you watch on TV compare with this list from Philippians chapter 4?”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there’s any excellence, if there’s anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (verse 8, paraphrased).

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, July 26th.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re talking all this week on Revive Our Hearts about something that I am very, very passionate about. I believe that this topic has become one of the single, greatest enemies of Christ and His kingdom and of His people in our generation—that is the whole subject of television viewing.

Our guest is my first cousin, Bob DeMoss. Bob, thanks so much for being with us on Revive Our Hearts this week.

Bob DeMoss: Thanks for having me back.

Nancy: Thank you for writing this book. It is a terrific book, and it’s entertaining. I found myself smiling and even laughing out loud at times. You have a great sense of humor, but you also have a serious heart and purpose. The book is called TV: The Great Escape.

In this book you talk about a challenge that you’ve given people over the years; a challenge we’re giving our listeners this week. Then you tell some stories about those who took that challenge. Tell us again, for those who haven’t been with us this week, what that challenge is.

Bob: Well, if you want to revolutionize your life, your marriage, your relationships with the kids, and especially with the Lord, consider going TV-free for a month—for 30 days. You pick the 30 days and then decide, “We’re going to unplug all the TVs. We’re going to plug in our resolve, and we’re going to look at life with a very different set of eyes.” To me, life is what happens while everyone else is watching TV. I have challenged people a number of years on this, and I get all these stories back from families who took the “TV-free challenge.”

One of them, Rick, from Medina, Ohio said, “You know, actually after my TV-free month, I feel closer to my wife and my children than I’ve ever felt before.” That’s what happens, Nancy, people’s lives are changed because they learn to turn to each other for conversation. The television shuts down conversation.

In fact, I can remember one college student who wrote me. He said, “Bob, I am so angry about TV because television robbed me of a relationship with my parents. I would come into the room and they would be ensconced before the shrine. If I were to talk they’d say, ‘Shh. Quiet. Wait till the commercials come on.’ ‘But dad, I just got back from this or that. I want to tell you about whatever camping trip or something at school.’ ‘It can wait until the commercial.’”

To shut a child down; to turn them away just so that you can selfishly watch some mindless show that you will not remember five seconds after you turn the thing off. You see, we’re trading artificial entertainment for real life. That is what the “TV-free challenge” is about—to be free of that, to rediscover each other, to rediscover a heart for God, and to rediscover His glorious creation. That’s why we’ve been challenging people.

Nancy: I’m hoping that every one of our listeners. . .

Bob: Wouldn’t that be great?

Nancy: . . . will take that challenge. I think it might be a precursor to revival if we would just meet the Lord in a whole new way—made possible when we get rid of the clutter in our lives. One great way to do that is this 30 day, turn-off the TV challenge.

We talked yesterday about the influence of television on children. We could do a whole week’s worth of programs and not exhaust that subject. But I know some of our listeners don’t have children or their children are grown and they’re thinking, “It’s not that bad of an influence in my life. I’m single; I’m an adult; I’m an empty nester. You mean to tell me that the TV is really having a negative influence in my life?”

Bob: What I would suggest for the person who’s even wondering that! Here are three questions: (just either write them down or make a mental note of them.) The first is write down on a piece of paper how has TV enhanced your walk with the Lord. The second thing is to write down how TV has had a negative impact on your Christian walk. Then the third thing is to ask yourself, “Would it be relatively easy, somewhat difficult, or almost impossible to imagine going TV-free for 30 days?”

When I’ve done this, someone will say, “It’s had a positive influence on my Christian walk? I don’t think so. But negative? Oh, I can give you page after page of how it stimulates the greed factor.”

Nancy, you talk about 20 to 30,000 commercials a year.

Nancy: That the average American is watching on TV.

Bob: Commercials cause a person to want stuff that they don’t need.

Nancy: I’m happy with what I have until I turn on the TV and see all the things I didn’t know that I didn’t have.

Bob: It’s the greed feed! We have materialism—the skimpy kind of clothing that you see and all of a sudden “I have to have that clothing,” or the new car that “I just have to have.” Then I start to look at all the different ways that television has defined for me, in my life and my sense of well being or lack thereof, how my body image is not what it ought to be and so on.

I can come up with this whole long list of negative things and how in fact it drives me farther from the Lord. You’ll see people who will fill that in their notes: “TV robs me of my time to be alone with the Lord; it robs me of my chance to pray.” Then when you look at the final question: “Oh, I would find it difficult to give up TV.”

So, here’s something with very little positive benefits in your life—especially your spiritual life—with tons of negatives, and yet it would be almost impossible to imagine going without it. That tells me that there’s an addiction, a bondage going on. I should think that TV should not have that kind of a hold on me or on any of us!

That goes back to what you were saying, Nancy, about the idea of the church being spiritually neutralized by—the single greatest force—the television.

Nancy: Paul says in I Corinthians chapter 6, “All things are lawful for me” (verse 12). There’s nothing inherently sinful about the actual piece of equipment called a television, but he says, “But not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything” (verse 12).

We find people not only enslaved by the TV viewing, but then by some of the sensual values, the types of relationships, and the negative view of authority that it presents. Because of that they are not free to love, serve, and worship the Lord God with all their hearts. Something is wrong with that picture.

Bob: I know some listeners might be thinking, “Okay, Bob, this sounds like you’re blaming the TV for a lot of negative influence in our life. TV really cannot influence us that much.”

Well, most of us don’t remember a day before television existed. Yet the islands of Fiji saw their first TV set in 1995.

Nancy: What year?

Bob: 1995. That is the first time they saw a TV. This is recent history, so we can measure this; it’s notable information. Prior to the arrival of television in Fiji, they had a strange idea or notion that to be large was to be in charge. In other words, the bigger the body, the better.

If I came up to you in Fiji and said, “ Nancy, it looks like you’ve put on a few pounds,” that would be considered a compliment. But when the TV came along, one of the researchers that was studying the natives noted that the incidences of bulimia and anorexia had a two or threefold increase on the islands within three months of when the children and teenagers starting to watch TV.

Why? Because a mirror of western society was held up to these kids, and they were comparing their bodies with what their culture was saying to the western anorexic models, and they would think, “There’s something wrong with us.” So they would go to the opposite extreme to try to get that look.

TV also had an impact on the culture in Fiji for adults. Before, when you were older you were to be esteemed; you were to be honored. However, when you bring along programs like "South Park" or the "Simpsons," and you go down the list of different shows for kids that are rude to parents, they found in Fiji that there was a sharp increase of disrespect toward those who were in authority.

Nancy: Look at the values that you’re seeing portrayed on television. Look at the attitudes. Look at the way that women talk to their husbands. Look at the way that kids talk to their parents and say, “Do I want my children talking this way? Is this a model of how God wants me to speak to my husband? Am I feeding and fueling my mind in wrong and ungodly ways of thinking—and then thinking it doesn’t affect me?”

That’s why I love that passage in Philippians 4 that most of us are familiar with that says, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there’s any excellence, if there’s anything worthy of praise think about these things” (verse 8, paraphrase).

I think so many people who are saying, “I don’t have a heart, a hunger for the Lord. I don’t have time to seek the Lord. First thing in the morning, I have to run off to work.” Maybe one of the reasons for no time is that they are wiling away those nighttime hours late the night before with useless or worse than useless, even vile types of things. They’re thinking about those negative things, and that’s really what’s molding and shaping their lives.

Bob: Nancy, even if everything on TV was not just negative or neutral but positive, look simply at the quantity of time that we spend in front of the box.

Nancy: Then think about the day when we stand before the Lord. . .

Bob: To give an account.

Nancy: . . .and He says, “I gave you these minutes, hours, days, and years. What did you do with them?” That’s the reason Bob doesn’t and my dad didn’t have a TV in our home—it was a time-wasting element.

Bob: I can remember coming over one Thanksgiving to your house in Philly as kids. I was sitting at the dinner table next to your dad, and I said, “Where’s the TV?” He smiled with that little smile and said, “How do people have time to watch television? I can’t imagine a greater time waster than that thing.”

And he didn’t watch it because he saw it as such a colossal time waster.

Nancy: That’s why the apostle Paul says in Ephesians chapter 5, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish,” (verse 15-17a)

I wonder if far more of us than we realize have been foolish in just whittling away hours, or years perhaps, of our lives with something that is not helping us to become more like Christ; it’s not helping our kids to love the Lord more. If that could possibly be true of your life, then why not consider taking this very helpful "30-day turn-off the TV challenge.”

I want to challenge you to get Bob’s book. It’s called TV: The Great Escape. It’s available through our website, or you can call our 800 number and order it. I hope that every one of our listeners, with or without the book, will seriously pray about taking this challenge.

Then as you do, write and let us know what happens—what happens in your life; what happens in your family. We’d like to hear how this experiment works for you and what impact it has on your life.

Leslie: Remember, we’re officially setting aside August as TV-free month. So you still have a few days to plan and talk the idea over with your husband and children. You can read more about it and sign up at www.ReviveOurHearts.com/tvfree.

As usual, Bob and Nancy waxed more eloquent than we have time for on the radio program, but all is not lost. No, you can order this week’s extended interview on CD at our website www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy just mentioned getting in touch with us to tell us your story of turning off the TV. Well here’s how. To email us go to www.ReviveOurHearts.com and click on “Contact Us”. Our mailing address is listed there, too.

Our website is also where you can find out more about Bob DeMoss’ book, TV: The Great Escape and other helpful resources. Or if you’d rather call, call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Nancy, what do we have coming up?

Nancy: Over the next couple of days you’ll hear a firsthand testimony of someone who took this challenge, and we’ll also be answering some questions you may have about how to get your husband to get interested in taking this challenge or your wife or your kids. We’ll also talk about some practical things that you can do, some constructive ways that you can use the time that you’re gaining as you turn off the television for that month.

Leslie: I hope you can join us. That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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