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Sitting in a local restaurant recently (I better not say which one, but if you’ve ordered a chicken fried steak on a Wednesday, you probably know where I mean) and four young people came in. They were friendly and polite and well-groomed and all those things.

What I can’t figure out is why they came there together. Even though they all sat at the same table, they rarely spoke to each other. Which made sense, as none of them were listening. The lady at the counter was calling out “Order 66” over and over until it came time to call out “Order 67”. Finally, at about “Order 70”, one of the four youths grumbled that they had skipped him and went to the counter to complain. While there, he went ahead and picked up orders 67, 68 & 69, which belonged to his friends—none of whom had heard their numbers called, either.

Were they hearing impaired? Not in the traditional sense. They had chosen to impair all their senses by voluntarily becoming engrossed in their phones. I honestly have no idea whether they were texting (likely), checking their Facebook pages, or playing a game. What they WERE doing was disengaging from both those around them and the world at large.

In staying “connected”, they were—like many people today—actually becoming less connected. They were with three friends (I’m going to guess they would even call them “good friends”, since they had gone out to lunch with them), but they weren’t talking to them. Maybe they were texting each other, but if so they were missing out on at least 50% of what used to be called “conversation”. Because it’s more than words, it’s gestures and inflection and so much more.

We’re starting to see study after study showing that this is making us less connected as a people. We have more Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts than we would have imagined, but spend little time personally interacting with any of these people (even on the phone, in actual conversation). Some of these studies indicate we’re getting dumber, too.

What if there’s a spiritual price being paid here, too?

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

How long can you sit still without checking your phone, your email, your page or your tweets? Many people I know have the Bible on their phone—or iPad or other device—which is great. And maybe you even used your phone to look up Psalm 46 … and you read the whole thing … and then you looked up a commentary on it … and then, while there, you checked to see how the Rangers did last night … and … pretty soon, any insight gained from Psalm 46 disappeared under an avalanche of information.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying phones, computers or pads are evil. They can be wonderful tools—even for Bible study and sharing the gospel. But if we reach a point where they have stopped enhancing our person-to person actions—and, more importantly, our person-to-God interactions—they have moved from tool to hindrance.

I need to lose some weight. So I’m trying to make myself cut down on my portion size with each meal. My wife did just that and—combined with lots of walking—lost 40+ pounds. I think I need to do the same for the “tech” in my life. Turn off the phone for a couple hours each day, ignore the computer … and fill that time with interacting with other people and with God. Soon, with both food and tech, I hope to have both back in their proper places—as helpful tools rather than distracting (and debilitating) encumbrances.

Hebrews 12:1, “For this reason, as we are circled by so great a cloud of witnesses, putting off every weight, and the sin into which we come so readily, let us keep on running in the way which is marked out for us.”