Sister Gaby's Spell

Sister Gaby's Spell

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalms 101:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Date: 11/03/2012 
Sister Gaby seemed like the ideal person to have around at first. But time revealed the detrimental effects of keeping company with her. Find out if she is a guest in your home ...
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If you have your bibles, I’d like to invite you to turn to Romans 12. Romans 12 and I’m going to read verses 1 and 2. ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’ The Lord wants us to be transformed.

Well, I would like to take a moment and tell you about a very interesting individual. The message this morning is based on this person, it’s called Sister Gaby. Sister Gaby’s Spell more specifically. Now, you’ve got to listen carefully because there’s a story connected with Sister Gaby.

The Miller family was your typical American family. You had Mr. Miller and Mrs. Miller and there were three little Millers. They had a 16-year-old daughter named Beth, 11-year-old boy named Billy, and he was sometimes called Junior after Mr. Miller, and then there was Tammy, a 5-year-old girl. And their days were filled with a lot of the same things that the typical American family. The kids went to school, and dad went to work, and mom had her part-time work plus the housework and afternoons were filled with things like homework, music lessons, soccer, and in many ways they just fit into the picture of what you might see as a very typical family.

Well, Mr. Miller’s mother, Grandma Miller, lived with the family until she was overcome with cancer. She had lived in what you call a mother-in-law apartment downstairs and it had its own entrance, but she became ill and she passed away. And after the Millers recovered from grieving about the loss of Grandma Miller they thought, you know, we’ve got this empty room right near our front door, it’s got its own entrance, it’s got its own bathroom, maybe we can rent it out. The kids have plenty of room. It will produce a little income for the family and put it towards a college fund. They talked about that as a family and thought, you know, that would probably be a good idea.

And so they put an ad in the paper and it wasn’t very long before they got someone who responded; a very interesting lady by the name of Gabriella T. Seymour. I don’t know what the T stood for, but she wanted to include that. You would think Gabriella Seymour would be good enough. You know, you can understand when a person’s got the name John Smith they might put an initial in there to help identify them from the other John Smiths out there.

But they interviewed her and they never met anybody quite like her. She was the most interesting person that you could imagine. First of all, her life, she’d done everything. She had been a nurse in the Korean War and that somehow led into her being an international news correspondent. She told some stories that she actually had some experience as a spy because of her experience as a news correspondent. And she had been a novelist and also what really appealed to the Millers is she had been a school teacher. And they thought could you help our kids with their homework. Oh, I love children; I’d love to help them with their homework. And there was just something about this lady. It was so interesting to talk to her. Her eyes just flashed when she spoke and she began to even tell all these different stories about her adventures and they thought, oh, we’ve got to hear more about this. I’ll tell you what, here’s the price, we’ll rent you the room, she said great and before long she moved in.

Now, she insisted that they don’t call her Gabriella or Mrs. Seymour, she said just call me Sister Gaby. She said it’s a long story, but just call me Sister Gaby, that’s what I answer to. They thought, well, that’s good enough for us. So Sister Gaby moved into the room and, you know, it wasn’t long before she sort of became part of the family. She agreed to help the children with their homework and they just loved her. Because while she was doing homework with them she would invariably tell them some stories of her adventures and they were all exciting and very interesting. Stories about the war and stories about -- Beth loved hearing the stories about all her romances that she’d had. She’d had quite a few romances traveling the world as she did. And some of the things that she would tell Beth, Mr. and Mrs. Miller probably wouldn’t have approved of, but they developed this special relationship when they were together and she’d tell about all of her boyfriends that she had traveling the world and Beth really enjoyed talking to her.

And when Billy was alone with her doing homework she’d say, you know, not only was I a nurse during the Korean War and I was a reporter, but for a while I was a crime scene photographer. Billy got to hear about some of the crime scenes and the things I’ve seen and the accidents and the murders and Billy thought, oh man, and he couldn’t wait to do homework with Sister Gaby because she had so many stories to tell.

And then little Tammy really enjoyed her time with Sister Gaby because you know how most people might have like 200 muscles in their face to express things when they’re talking? There was something freaky about Sister Gaby. She had 400 muscles in her face. And when she was talking she could do the most amazing convolutions and expressions and where a person’s eyebrows might go up and down a little bit, hers would go up and down independently and she would cross her eyes, make little Tammy laugh as she told these stories. And she could even wiggle her ears. And so she was just the most interesting person, but it wasn’t just the children.

Mr. and Mrs. Miller really thought Sister Gaby was fascinating.

When she was with little Tammy, five years old, she could relate to little Tammy and keep her busy for hours. But when she was talking to Mr. and Mrs. Miller she showed that she was actually very intelligent and sophisticated. And just like that, she could switch from talking to the children to talking to little Billy, to talking to Beth, to talking to Mr. and Mrs. Miller. And she was the most broadly educated, fascinating person you could imagine and there was no end to the stories.

So whenever she was at the table she’d talk. That was one thing. Her name Gaby, appropriate because she could -- she had a gift for gab and she would talk and talk and talk. And even when they came up and down stairs, got anywhere near her room they’d hear her in there talking to herself. Now she did have a computer in there and she had friends around the world and sometimes she would Skype her friends. And by the way, one of the things she asked when she moved in, she said to the Millers, you know, I don’t want to be any trouble, but I do keep connected with my friends all over the world and, boy, your internet connection is really slow. Is there any way you could upgrade the connection a little bit so I could stay in touch with my friends. And she said I keep up with the news and they said all right, well, it will cost a little bit, but we’ll do that. So they upgraded the internet connection to help Sister Gaby so that she could stay in touch with her friends. But there was almost always a conversation coming out of her room. And they enjoyed her company, they let her come in and help with homework.

Well, first the kids would go to her little apartment and do the homework, but gradually she kind of migrated her way into the Miller’s living room doing the homework because it was a little more spacious and then she’d be talking to Mrs. Miller when Mrs. Miller was doing her work and she was so interesting that you just couldn’t do something else and listen to Sister Gaby.

She was very talkative, but she was also interesting. She was one of these people that when she was talking you just had to stop what you were doing and pay attention, and if for no other reason, watching her facial expressions when she talked. And she was so animated. Now she did have arthritis, which prevented her from doing some work, but she still moved plenty when she talked and had a lot of body language and she just could captivate your attention and entertain you for hours.

Mr. Miller would come home from work and that would be the time and sometimes they’d bond as a family, but if Sister Gaby was in there helping one of the kids with homework, everyone else would be quiet and listen to the stories that she’d tell. And then they’d find that Mr. Miller instead of visiting with Mrs. Miller, he’d start talking to Sister Gaby and she had just so many stories to tell and so many interesting adventures. He’d ask her questions, she always had an answer for anything.

Matter of fact they thought nobody could possibly have lived as much in one lifetime as she claimed to have lived. They asked her where she was born and she always kind of avoided the question. She just said I wasn’t born I was invented. And she’d just smile kind of a wiry smile and ignored the question. She seemed to have a mysterious background, but she seemed to know what she was talking about so they took what she was saying that it must be true.

Well, it was only a few months until pretty soon Sister Gaby was like part of the family. She didn’t spend much time in her room anymore. Matter of fact, she didn’t even go to her room anymore unless everyone else went to sleep. As soon as she heard anyone come in and out of the house and she was right by the front door, she’d open the door and she’d begin to gab and she’d start taking to them and visit with everybody and everybody liked her.

She was very interesting, but some things started changing after a few months. First of all after the first 90 days of her being there she’d been paying her rent just like clockwork, but she told Mr. Miller, she said, you know, I’m having a little problem with my assistance check that’s coming in and if you could please be patient with me I’m going to be struggling to make my payment this month. Well, the idea of booting Sister Gaby out on the street when she was helping the kids with their homework and she was just like a part of the family now, he’d never even really mentioned that again, but the checks didn’t come anymore either. And so she was just sort of living there. She kept her apartment clean and seemed to take care of things in that way, but other things began to happen.

Billy started to tell an off-color joke one day and Mrs. Miller said, Billy, where did you hear that, did you hear that at school? He said no, he said -- Mrs. Miller said where did you hear that? And he looked towards Sister Gaby’s room. Oh, Mrs. Miller thought, you know, she’s had a lot of salty experience and she shouldn’t be sharing that with an 11-year-old boy. And so when Mrs. Miller said something to Sister Gaby, Sister Gaby said, well, you know, Mrs. Miller, it’s a big world out there and they’re going to hear these things sooner or later and so you may as well just have them get used to it young while they’re in your home and you can help sort these things out so they can process it. It’s better if they hear these things while they’re in the home.

Well, she put in such a sweet way that she didn’t know how to answer. She always had an answer for everything. If the truth be known, Sister Gaby was a master manipulator. And Mrs. Miller began to resent that when Mr. Miller came home and after the kids were fed and they never really got to eat alone anymore because they felt bad, Sister Gaby would sort of be wandering around right around dinnertime and so they naturally wanted to invite her, you know, they were a Christian family, to eat with them. And so she always ate with them and they’d never seen anybody who could eat so much and then she didn’t gain any weight. But that wasn’t true for everybody else in the family.

And she had an opinion on cooking. She’d been a cook, too; did I mention that. Oh yeah, she’d done everything; you name it, she’d done it. And she had all these recipes and she’d tell them and some of them were pretty good. And when they’d pull one product out of the refrigerator and put it on the table she’d say, that’s not bad but, you know, you really ought to get the good stuff. You deserve it.

Matter of fact, when Mrs. Miller would go to the supermarket Gaby started writing out a list for her and saying these are the quality products, you really will be much happier if you use these and she’d extol the virtues of all these other kitchen products and groceries. And, you know, Mrs. Miller thought this was sort of a subtle hint that she’d like these things better and didn’t like the products that she’d been buying and so she began to buy what Sister Gaby wanted.

But it bothered her that when Mr. Miller came home and she’d start talking to him during the time when Mrs. Miller wanted to talk to him and they never really got to talk much anymore. And if they ever tried to go out and be by themselves she didn’t know what kind of stories that Sister Gaby was going to be telling the kids because Beth’s mind was full of romance stories now; all the adventures and the eloping and all the things that Sister Gaby did in her youth. Beth was hearing about this and she was living in dreamland all the time hoping that she’d have some similar adventures. And little Billy, he was hearing about all the war stories she had and when she was a crime scene photographer and when she worked as a spy and he began to just be completely absorbed in that world. And then she could entertain little Tammy for hours with her goofy stories and her impersonations and the funny sounds that she’d make. And this went on for quite a while.

Well, during the day, when Mrs. Miller would normally go to her tennis practice, Gaby would start telling her a story and say, let me tell you something and the stories were always interesting. So it was hard to choose between do I go out, sweat and exercise, or do I listen to a fascinating story. And then every day they started having a little tea time together and Sister Gaby would tell amazing stories to Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Miller would sit there and eat a little something with her and pretty soon Mrs. Miller started gaining a little weight. And the relationship between Mrs. Miller and Mr. Miller started to have problems because they never were spending time talking anymore because whenever they wanted to talk Sister Gaby was there talking.

And the children’s grades even, though she was helping them with homework, they began to find that there was a whole lot of stories and very little homework that was happening and the kids’ grades started to go down. And as time would go by they’d notice that their budget began to get bigger and bigger because they were buying all these products. They needed a bigger car now because before where they had a five-seater Sister Gaby wanted to go places with them because she had arthritis she couldn’t drive and they started taking her around with them.

And little by little their whole lives began to transform by this person that had been introduced in their house. And the kids’ grades started to go downhill, they were walking around in a trance half the time thinking about the wild stories that they’d heard. Mr. and Mrs. Miller were not talking much. Mr. Miller used to read, but when he’d come home, Sister Gaby said, you don’t need to read the paper anymore, I’ve got all the news, let me tell you what’s going on. I’ll sort it out and give you the headlines right now. And she would make them much more interesting than the paper. And she would actually expand on the news a little bit, mixing it in with her opinion and commentary.

Brilliant, brilliant person; so colorful and interesting to listen to. But after a while, things were not going very well in the Miller house. The kids all began to fight among themselves because Sister Gaby would be telling one a story and they’d tug on her sleeve and say you’ve been talking long enough to Beth. Billy would say, talk to me, tell me again the war stories. And little Tammy said no, it’s my turn, talk to me and pretty soon the kids were all fighting among themselves.

Sister Gaby seemed to enjoy it that they were all fighting over her attention. And after a couple of years they couldn’t make their mortgage payment. Mr. Miller wasn’t getting enough sleep, he wasn’t preforming as well at work and so he was demoted and wasn’t able to keep up on his sales so they started having financial problems and they started having problems with each other, and the kids started having problems with their grades, and problems with their relationships with each other, and problems with their relationships at school. And they weren’t getting as much exercise because they started neglecting practice and the family outings. Couldn’t go as many places because as soon as they wanted to load up, Sister Gaby would be there and she was so nice they just couldn’t tell her no. She knew how to manipulate to make them all feel guilty for not taking her along. And it seemed like she had them under some sort of a spell. And the whole family was transformed when they invited her in as a renter. That just really messed up the family.

So, would you like to invite Sister Gaby to come and move in at your house? But she is very entertaining and has a lot of information, a lot of experience to share. Now, how many of you have realized that this is an allegory; somewhere along the way.

Sister Gaby T. Seymour, her whole name is Sister Gaby T. V. Seymour, ‘Gaby See More,’ get it, represents something that has come into -- a renter that has come into many American homes, most 98 percent of American homes and that’s probably true even of Christian homes, that has brought in all kinds of problems along with it, namely television. I just used this silly analogy to try to make very real for you what’s happened when people have invited television into their homes. Do you know what it really does?

Now, just so you understand, I’m not going to say that everybody should throw out their TVs, but if the Holy Spirit tells you that you should listen. Just about everything on TV is bad except Amazing Facts. No, I’m just -- so I want to just, you know, issue a disclaimer right here. How do you describe hypnosis as a definition? A lot of people are under a spell. Hypnosis is described as a trancelike condition that can be artificially induced characterized by an altered consciousness, diminished willpower and an increased responsiveness to suggestion. Now if you’re wondering anyone in your home is hypnotized, look at your children next time they’re watching television.

You know how hypnosis works? It appeals to the optic nerves, ears -- no, optic nerve is the eye, and the auditory nerves, the ears. Everybody point to your cheek. That’s your chin. Just checking. So through lights and through sound your body responds to rhythms. And your body responds to light.

And it is very easy to hypnotize a person if you’ve got -- if you’ve ever seen the old, you know, magician, swinging the flashing jewel or the light saying look closely, and with their mesmerizing voice and the flashing glittering object or the orb, awe, they’re put into a trancelike state. Well, it’s even easier if you’ve got some kind of syncopated light and rhythm. A person can be put in kind of the lower brain levels of a hypnotic state and then suggestions are made that the subconscious mind understands that the conscious mind is really processing and people find themselves buying things that they didn’t really know they need, but it really does have an effect.

Television is the ideal medium to hypnotize. And that’s why you’ve got to be very careful. How many of you would invite hypnosis into your house? But don’t you think that if you’ve got companies on Madison Avenue that are literally spending not millions, billions, billions of dollars every year developing commercials for the sole purpose of manipulating the masses to purchase products that may or may not be good for you. It’s all really about money.

And most TV, with a few rare exceptions, exists for the reason of making money. The sponsors pay the stations; the stations produce a program, a broad variety of programs, to get people to watch the channel to buy the sponsor’s products. They used to call them soap operas because they’d have these daytime dramas in the middle of the day and typically housewives would get caught up in the emotional romance and intrigue of these soap operas and then they’d advertise soap because it was typically the mothers that they were targeting with their advertising to buy their soap, their detergent, whatever it happened to be, they’re dish soap, and they called them soap operas because it was always sponsored by the soap companies because they knew the mothers were home during that day doing the laundry, washing the dishes, buying soap. And it was all driven by money.

Principle hasn’t changed. There are a few exceptions where people will subscribe to a channel that does nothing but show golf, which to me is like boredom on steroids. But there are people, that’s what they do, just watch golf all day long. I know I’ve got friends that would be really angry that I would say that.

So there’s a few channels that are restricted for things, but most channels, they exist because they’re selling advertising and a lot of money goes into to try to capture the attention of the people.

Most people now also can freeze their programs, they can go by their commercials, they can fast-forward through their commercials, and so the people who are sponsoring television time they are absolutely desperate to get your attention to sell the product. And they have to go to the most extraordinary means. Do you know how much money is spent on a commercial during the Super Bowl? Sometimes for 30 seconds they’ll spend $50 million for a 30-second commercial. And how much attention would you put into developing that commercial if you had 30 seconds to talk to 50 million people? You’ve got to capture their attention. And they will use outrageous things, immoral things; they’ll do anything to just get the shock effect to get people’s attention so that you’ll buy the beer or whatever it is they’re trying to sell.

But that’s not just happening during the Super Bowl, it’s happening all day long and when kids are watching their programming, the merchandisers are trying to sell the children saying you need these toys, you need these clothes, you need this food or cereal or whatever it happens to be and then the kids go to the store and they’re screaming bloody murder, pulling on the shopping carts saying mom I’ve got to have this box of cereal because they told me on TV I’ll never reach happiness unless I eat this cereal. And so you’ve probably all seen that mother trying to drag her child away from that box that has the goofy cartoons on the cover. It’s 100 percent sugar and the kid thinks I’ve got to have it or I won’t be happy.

Do you know that a child by the time it enters school has spent more time in front of a television set than they will ever spend in college classroom? So what is defining who they are and who’ll they’ll become? Now there’s a lot of very dangerous effects connected with television. There’s the social effects. The average American watches television, average American, between three or four hours daily. What is all this watching replace that used to happen in families?

What did families look like before television? I know some of us; we’ve got a whole generation now that just doesn’t even know. I mean I grew up when at least there were black and white televisions, but we didn’t have them in every room. I didn’t have a TV in my room growing up. But now it becomes very common for the kids to have TVs in their room and hours are spent every day watching television that used to be spent in social interaction, in figuring out how to resolve different problems, in getting physical activity, in using your mind to solve problems and it’s just not being done. Right now people sit down and they watch television and it just pours into their brain and they’re not processing these things anymore.

The most important activity replaced by television is the interaction of family and friends. You know, very few neighbors know each other anymore where they used to go up and down the street and interact and socialize and visit and help each other solve problems and support one another and love each other and witness to each other. We can’t be bothered because we’re watching TV and it doesn’t matter if we went and knocked on our neighbor’s door they wouldn’t want to be bothered because they watching TV.

Karen and I walk around our neighborhood at night and a lot of the homes you go by after dark you see that spell, mesmerizing bluish glow flickering through the windows and everybody’s got Sister Gaby on, right? Does this have an effect on Christians?

Television can slowly control our lives and cast out the natural family experience of daily conversation and personal sharing. As a diversion it deprives parents and children of meaningful relationships. It offers easy ways out of family conflict by eliminating opportunities for family members to get to know each other better. Friends and relatives visit less often or if they do there might be little communication as when they come over they let Sister Gaby out of her room. Everyone sits and watches.

Karen used to say to me when we first began to date, she said I don’t know why people would go out to watch a movie for a date because that would be the environment where you really don’t spend any time talking together. It’s just letting something else pour into your mind. The television set indeed hypnotizes and silences everybody in a room when it’s on.

If Sister Gaby is in the house there’s a social vacuum that is created. The home becomes a place of artificial residence. People come and go like ghosts that are under a spell and they never interact. And how many of you know houses where the television set is on and no one is even watching? Gaby talks all the time whether anyone’s paying attention or not.

Sometimes subconsciously in the background people are hearing things. Sometimes people keep the television on because they say, you know, I don’t like the quiet. I feel like I’m alone and I can understand that. Put on a tape, listen to music. There must be good things, but boy, you know, and it’s not even if you find a good channel, I like to watch the news, but boy the advertisers in between and the commercials.

When I grew up I remember actually being shocked because the commercials were pretty tame compared to today when I was a kid. But I remember being shocked one time. Playtex was advertising the new Cross Your Heart Bra on television. And I was sitting there on the couch with my mother and my brother and we had one of those remote controls that when you press the button it made a loud clicking noise because it didn’t use infrared and it was a big Magnavox and it would pop and then it would change the channel every time you’d press it. Do you remember what I’m talking about? It was a big clicker thing, primitive.

And I remember my mom clicked the channel, it turned on and there was a channel advertising the Playtex Cross Your Heart Bra and it showed a manikin. It was just from the neck down. It showed a manikin wearing this bra, not even a person. And it showed about this bra and the support it gives and I was so embarrassed. I looked at mom; I didn’t know where to hide. I thought I shouldn’t be seeing this, this is not right.

Boy, that’s pretty tame compared to what they have on television today. Right, the commercials? I mean there’s all kinds of stuff and right at dinnertime. I can’t even talk to you in church about the things that are on commercials during prime time. I was just thinking about using examples and I thought oh, I can’t do that, I’m in church. But this would be prime time when families are eating dinner, they’re advertising things. Your kids will look at you and go -- I can’t even tell you what it is. But you know, you could probably gather. It has social effects.

You know, Jesus said the -- I’m sorry, Matthew 6:22, ‘The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.’ If the light is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness?

We all in our minds are to some extent the sum total of what we’re looking at, what we’re listening to. What are we taking in? We might think, oh, but I’m smart, I’m processing, I’m thinking. TV can’t do that to me, it can’t hypnotize me, I’m in control. You really don’t think it has any effect on you, watching those things and hearing those things; it doesn’t have a defining influence little by little on your values and who you are, your morals?

I think media is probably the single most powerful defining factor in the American culture today. And if Christians are drinking in the same media as the world at large and most of that media is not being produced by Amazing Facts or other good Christian programmers, most of that media is being produced by a debased evil world.

I mean look at the values of the typical Hollywood. How do they feel about marriage, not even multiple marriages, they don’t even care what the sex is that you’re married to. And those values are being permeated on the society. If you read the bible you don’t have questions about that being right or wrong.

So what’s changing people’s thinking? They’re being hypnotized by Sister Gaby, little by little. It has health effects. I think we all know childhood obesity has clearly been linked to Sister Gaby. And by the way, that’s epidemic and that’s leading to an epidemic of diabetes and a couple of reasons.

Now one of the reasons that it especially affects children and there’s so much childhood obesity is because time that normally -- when I was a kid my parents used to say go out and play. We didn’t tell them they had to go buy me a $50 toy to play with, they just said go out and play. We played with sticks, we played with our friends, we played make-believe, we climbed trees, we had forts, we had clubs, we were bullies, we did all kinds of things, but we played, you know. And now, but there’s nothing to do. Have you heard that one before?

And you know what works when you say go out and play, they’re sitting there like a lump in front of the TV with the remote control; go out and do something, you can’t watch that much television. I can’t think of anything to do. Make a list of chores. Say, well I’ve got something for you to do. And they’ll find that whenever they say there’s nothing to do you; you give them a chore pretty soon they’re going to find something to do.

Not only does it greatly affect childhood obesity because of lack of activity, it provides more opportunity to snack. It’s already a proven fact people who sit around watching TV snack more. And the other thing it does, it’s advertising food, which makes people more inclined to eat.

TV affects your health as far as Alzheimer’s. A recent study reports that people who watch too much television could increase their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Those who pursue more physical and mentally stimulating pastimes such as gardening or reading are less likely to suffer the degenerative brain disease, found Dr. Robert Freedman, who led the study at the University of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He said, "When you watch you can be in a semi-conscious state where you’re really not learning.’ People say, oh well I’m learning something. He said no you’re not.

See when you’re learning you’re taking information even when you’re reading you have to use your brain to fill in pictures that go along with the words and you pause and you think about it. You contemplate the story and you imagine the story and you process the story.

When you’re watching television they find that you will have less brain activity than when you’re reading. You kind of just are drinking it in. It’s sort of like when a person has gotten some kind of health problem and they can’t eat and so they have a tube that goes directly to their stomach and bypasses their taste buds.

Now does anyone really want to get their food through a tube to the stomach? But you know what’s happening with television; you’re taking in that information via a tube and it’s not going through the filter of your higher reasoning powers; it’s just processing it all for you, all the pictures are filled in and you’re just drinking it in. And it is having an effect on who we are.

It is linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, people who are involved and actively using their minds and exercising -- now listen to this. I’ll tell you one reason I’m doing this sermon, the fact I’m about to share with you. I was in Southern California and somebody gave a health talk last week and I said you’ve got to send that to me. And so I’d like to thank Karen Howten for sending this study to me. It was actually a British school did a study and they drew upon an Australian study. This is the Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle study where they surveyed 12,000 Australian adults and they concluded -- they were studying eating habits and all kinds of things, but one of the amazing results that came out of this study was, listen to this, they found every hour of TV watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewers life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. Now did you get that?

Sister Gaby can be bad for your health; can cut off the time of life you live. And it wasn’t just, I mean you might be reading, you might not be doing anything active, you might be sitting at a desk, but watching television for some reason was different. They concluded, I’m going to read it to you one more time, every hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. By comparison, smoking a cigarette will shorten by 11 minutes. An hour of television watching will shorten your life more than smoking a cigarette. Now, I’m not encouraging you go out and smoke a cigarette, but actually you’d have to smoke, yeah, more than one cigarette, television. I think there might be something to that. It has mental affects. It affects education. It’s already pretty well proven.

From the ages of three to five, the average preschooler puts in more hours before television sets than he or she will spend in college. I shared that with you.

For many older children habitual television watching continues as an exercise in passivity at a time when they should be especially active mastering skills and learning about the world. As a result, heavy television undermines the goals of Christian education which is to raise children in a wholesome alert atmosphere who can be adults that will actively serve God and his kingdom and here on earth. Groups of children who are temporarily deprived of television -- notice this, become less withdrawn, they earn better grades, they display more imagination and they improve concentration all of which are associated with learning.

And this I thought was very interesting. Since 1962 the national average SAT scores, indicators of verbal and numerical readiness for college, the SAT tests, the scores have steadily dropped or declined, the authorities claim -- it’s not related to changes in the tests, but they claim it’s partly result to the students overdependence on television and they’re not studying like they used to and they’re not learning. They are absolutely infatuated with Sister Gaby stories and they can’t pull themselves away where they read about real life and real knowledge. They’re being fed artificial calories, foam without any nutritional value.

Now that’s not to say there is nothing good that a person can see on TV. That’s what makes it especially dangerous. TV in itself, it’s, you know, just a mechanism. Printing is a medium to communicate knowledge, printing is not bad, you can read a good book, you can read a bad book. Radio, it’s a medium to communicate audio sounds. It could be music, it could be words, it could be good music, bad music, good words, bad words, right? Television is a combination of communicating audio and visual information.

It’s especially powerful because it does power to all the senses and you know what they’ve got now. No, I don’t have one, we don’t even have a flat screen television; we’ve still got the tube ones, but you go into Costco and I’ll admit I kind of looked to my right and left, they have the 3-D televisions. You probably think did I just discover that? Not too long ago. And I went in there with Nathan the other day and they had something on and playing and they have the 3-D glasses and you put on the 3-D glasses and you stand back. This thing is now this wide, you stand there and it’s like you’re immersed in the picture. It’s not only got sound, it’s got light, it got depth. I mean you can completely get lost in stuff like that. Did you hear me? You can completely get lost in stuff like that.

And I think the devil more and more is trying to hypnotize the church to living in a fantasy world where we’re forgetting about the real world that we’re in. And unfortunately, the statistics for Christian homes probably isn’t a lot different than the regular world, but most of the programs that are on television are not Christian. Now what we did in our family is we got -- and I’m not trying to advertise, but there is a satellite dish you can get where you get Christian channels, just Christian channels. And that gives you a lot of healthier options. If you’re going to be watching TV, one of the things I thought was interesting just a few guidelines you might think about, sit down with your family, talk about what’s reasonable. Realize that you’ve invited somebody in your home that can be dangerous.

You also need to have this conversation with your family regarding the internet. Internet can be a tree of good and evil in any home and you need to talk about these things. Talk about what is a reasonable amount of time to spend watching TV. By the way, in the studies that have been done, they did their best to say what is considered high risk for the mental illness, for the obesity, for the health problems, for the educational problems. They said anything more than 2-1/2 hours a day television you become high risk. There’s risk with any hours, but you’re especially high risk for health problems, for relational problems, for the social problems, for the educational problems if in an American home a TV is on more than 2-1/2 hours a day. Frankly, I think that’s a lot and of course it depends what’s on. If it’s all Amazing Facts and 3ABN, then that would be okay. But we all know that’s not the case. So what do we do?

Philippians 4:8, ‘Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if there is anything excellent or praise worthy, think about these things.’ What does the Lord want us to think about; the things that are noble and good and praise worthy.

2nd Corinthians 3:18, ‘But we all’ -- and this was our scripture reading, ‘We all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror, the Glory of the Lord are being transformed.’ Don’t forget this principle. We become like what we worship. We do, what you look at. That’s why idolatry was such a thing with the Lord. New and Old Testament. Keep yourself from idols because you are transformed into the God that you behold. That’s why Christ said if I am lifted up I will draw. As we see God and we see who He is we become like the God that we look at. What are we looking at?

A lot of people have got an idol, a one-eyed idol, in their homes that’s really controlling their families. As we behold the Lord we are being transformed into the same image, from Glory to Glory as by the spirit of the Lord.

So what do we do; make some rules. If you’ve got a parental lock on your television, depending on if you have cable, you should lock out certain channels. I don’t think anybody should be watching MTV and I won’t go through the list, but if you use your judgment according to the bible test everything, 1st Thessalonians 5:21, ‘Hold on to what is good, avoid every kind of evil, avoid the evil works of darkness.’

And in this test of King David, Psalm 101:3, if you’re writing down some verses, ‘I will set no wicked thing before my eyes, I hate the work of them to turn aside; will not cleave to me. Set no wicked thing before our eyes.’ You know, when the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses advised them not to forget about the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 11, and I asked our study if they’d put this on the screen. Nothing would scare the Lord more than if we really put this into practice. He says in verse 18, Deuteronomy 11, ‘Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul. Bind them as a sign on your hand; they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. You’ll write them on the door post of your house and on your gates.’ Do I dare say it should be somewhere in the middle of your living room? ‘And that your days and the days of your children might be multiplied in the land that the Lord, the Lord your God, swear to your Fathers to give you like the days of the heavens above the earth.’

Eternal life, the key. Surround ourselves with the word of God. And you know what the devil has done? He’s introduced a Sister Gaby into a lot of peoples’ homes and they’ve become mesmerized enchanted by that and it’s displaced the word of God. It’s displaced where God wants His word to be in our families. Where we rise up and we read the word of God; some people rise up and they turn on the television. When before we have our meal we pray together, people have to press the mute button to pray. And when we go to bed at night, when we’re gathering for family worship, the word of God, coming in the house, going out the house. Has our home been infiltrated by a manipulator? Would you invite someone in your home to tell your children dirty stories and jokes and fill their minds with fanciful nonsense? You know, I tried to make it sound as innocuous and as innocent as I could by having it be a sweet old lady. Because if it was an ugly old man invited into your house you’d never go for that right?

But the, you know, the devil, he paints everything up so sweet, Sister Gaby is a witch. Sweet old Sister Gaby, smart, an answer for everything, appeal to the children, appeal to the adults, manipulator, cost you money, is just interested in monopolizing your time. And that’s what the TV is all about. It’s got to get you to watch to sell their products. It’s all for them. Yeah, she’ll eat and eat and never gain weight. Those people on TV eating those products, they always look good don’t they? It’s a big scheme and a lot of people are being hypnotized by it all.

I just thought that I should be real with you today because, you know, in our culture if a pastor doesn’t occasionally talk about the single most prominent influence in the lives of the members, then we’re not being real. If we want to be like Jesus, we’ve got to spend time looking at Jesus.

And I’d invite you to turn your eyes on Jesus. If Christ is lifted up we’ll become like him. Don’t be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Now we just sang this song last night during our communion service, but we’re going to sing it again. Page 290 in your hymnals. Let’s stand together and we’ll sing ‘Turn Your Eyes on Jesus.’

Can I add a postscript to my sermon? P.S., Even while we were singing the last verse it said then go to a world that is dying. You know, one of the things that Sister Gaby has done to a lot of Christian homes where they might be going out and doing ministry and service in their community. They’re afraid they’re going to miss their favorite program and the devil is using it to keeping us from fulfilling the great commission. We’re being entertained to death.

And so I just appeal to you and I’m talking to myself. I know we all I think can be caught. I travel and there’s TVs in every hotel room that you go to and you’ve got to say, Lord, give me your mind, we don’t want to watch these things that are taking our eyes off Jesus. What does it do to your spirit? I want to be very careful to filter what I see and what I listen to through the criteria of Christ. Do you also friends?

An answer to that, Father in Heaven, Lord today we’ve talked about just a simple practical truth of looking up on that which is good. Knowing that what’s going on in our minds and in our hearts affects who we are. I pray that you’ll give us the desire, give us the will, give us your mind to choose to eat that which is good, spiritually and every other way. And I pray Lord, you’ll bless this congregation and those who may be watching that we can make whatever practical changes we need to make, whether it’s putting restrictions on the television time in the family or the internet time or whether it means tossing it out. Sometimes, Lord, we know it’s better to pluck out an eye and cut off a hand than to enter destruction with the whole body. Better off going to heaven that way and I pray that you’ll help us make whatever changes we need to make. Bless this church. I pray that we can be people that are Christians not only once a week, but all week long. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

God Bless you friends and happy Sabbath.

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