Choked Out

Joseph Esposito

I used to work with our teens. Teens are great. Some of my most fruitful years of ministry have been with teenagers. But sometimes, teens don’t think. A while back, some of our guys were watching MMA and were intrigued by the different techniques the fighters use. One they learned was what it meant to “choke out” your opponent. To choke someone out, you take hold of their neck and, using your arm, restrict the blood flow to the brain, causing the person to “sleep,” or go unconscious. One of the young men decided to put what he’d seen to the test, and choked out one of the other teens. The “victim” was not happy, and neither were his parents. It’s a dangerous move, to say the least, as it stops necessary blood, oxygen, and life-giving nutrients from getting to the brain.

Mark 4:18-19 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Many Christians have been, or are being, choked out spiritually. We hear the preaching. We read the Bible. But we have allowed thorns to creep in, and before the Word has a chance to give spiritual nourishment and abundant life, it’s choked out. In Mark 4:18, Jesus warned us about allowing things to enter in that would restrict the life-giving roots of God’s words from taking hold and doing a work in our hearts. When they do this, we become unfruitful. When they do, we get lethargic. When they do, many times, we start to die spiritually.

There are so many things that call for our attention. There’s the pursuit of money. There are the problems of life. There’s social media. There’s sports. There’s friends. There are hobbies. There’s a career. Sometimes we have so many things on our mind and entering into our heart, that we simply have no energy left to pursue the things the Word tells us to pursue. Or rather, we read the Word, or we listen to it preached, or the Holy Spirit starts to speak, but just as soon, a text message comes in and chokes it out. Just as soon, we receive a “like” on our social media, and it chokes it out. Just as soon, we receive a report that our stock just plummeted, and it chokes it out. Do you ever read your Bible, and the Spirit speaks to you? You just begin to think about the importance of the truth in your life. But as soon as you do, a notification comes in, grabs your attention, and poof! It’s gone.

Let’s take an honest assessment today, and ask if anything (the Lord leaves it open ended – “the lust of other things”) has crept into your life, and is slowly choking you spiritually. If so, we may need to make some necessary adjustments to see that the Word is able to do the work the Lord wants it to do in our lives.

Joseph Esposito

Bro Esposito serves as the vice president of our Bible college, teaches the Cross Point Adult Bible Class, and heads up our children and teen Sunday school ministry. He and his wife Jennifer have five wonderful children.

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