Bible binge is the right stuff, Nelsen tells Chapel

GCU Director of Spiritual Life Erik Nelsen speaks to Chapel about the dangers of binging on the wrong things.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau

A billboard was the perfect sign for Erik Nelsen.

Grand Canyon University’s Director of Spiritual Life was thinking of ways to drive home the message of his first Chapel talk when he saw it while driving near campus.

It was an advertisement for “The Chosen,” the series about the life of Christ that’s a must-see, not only for Christians but for anyone even a little bit curious about what true peace looks and sounds like.

The message was simple. Two words.

Binge Jesus.

Just like that, Nelsen had the “aha” moment for his audience but saved it for the end of a talk that was filled with thoughtful theology amid down-to-earth revelations, punctuated by another simple message:

We become what we binge.

Nelsen introduced himself by sharing his favorite things in life, in particular, Disneyland. He loves Disneyland – so much so that one recent time when he was there, he loved it a little too much and had way too much to eat.

It all had tasted so good, he said, but produced a bad result. It’s not unlike what happens if someone binges things other than food or alcohol.

Nelsen shared a personal story of his love of Disneyland blew up in his face — and his stomach.

Television series that celebrate sin.

The news.

Social media.

Even insecure thoughts or lies.

“The things that we binge become who we are,” he said, noting that the very thought of binge’s definition, “an unrestrained, often excessive indulgence,” conjures up many good examples of bad influences.

“The Bachelor,” for example, is not how dating should be, Nelsen emphasized, noting that most shows have a cliffhanger that lures you to the next episode. He found that “Lost” and “24” had the same effect. So do the “Fast and Furious” movies.

Nelsen said he lately has had a tendency to watch the news a lot. It has a fast and furious effect, too.

“You start to see the world in a really negative light,” he said. “You kind of get depressed about it. And you can get cynical about the good in the world. And then you kind of get cynical about what God can do in the world because you just see so much negative stuff all the time.”

Television shows and social media are filled with negative influences, Nelsen said.

The ills of Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are well-documented. “Some of you, maybe, spend way too much time on your phone on social media, and you would probably admit that,” he suggested.

Even our thoughts can turn to binging.

“If you deal with a lot of anxiety or worry,” Nelsen said, “you may be binging on lies that are telling you things about you that are not true, things that are not what God wants you to believe about yourself.”

Then he turned to something that can’t be overdone.

Reading the Bible.

Nelsen referenced Philippians 4:4-9, in which Paul wrote:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Director of Spiritual Life Erik Nelsen speaks during Chapel on March 28, 2022.

But the rest of Nelsen’s talk was based on the last two verses:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

“It’s almost like he’s saying, ‘Binge on these things,’” Nelsen said.

Paul also told the Colossians in Chapter 3, Verse 2:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

There are two devastating things we can binge on, Nelsen said.

The first is anything that celebrates sin.

“We get anxious in life, and we worry, because we start to get false ideas of what is true and what makes us happy and good,” he said. “It can really discourage your faith, and we can miss out on what God wants to tell us because we’re so consumed by other things in the way – junk.”

The Worship team performs before Nelsen’s talk.

That doesn’t mean we can only listen to Christian music and watch Christian movies, he added. It just means practicing discernment and binging on more positive things.

The second thing can be even worse, he said.

“You can start to binge on things that are not true. Lies and insecurities. Voices of doubt that you’re fed. Questions of worth. Discouragement from the devil.”

Most common of those thoughts are the ones that keep reminding us of our worst memories.

“Satan wants to remind us of our sin of the past,” Nelsen said. “He wants to make you feel guilty for something you did a long time ago. ‘Hey, remember you did that thing?’ You start to kind of binge on it. ‘Oh, yeah. That’s who I am.’ That’s not who you are! He wants to remind you of shame. He wants to break apart your faith with lies.”

That brought Nelsen back to social media and how the devil uses it, especially by getting us to compare ourselves to others – especially when we’re in a low spot. Twitter and Instagram are full of people’s successes, not failures.

Nelsen said that binging can help the devil put lies in our minds.

The Bible, on the other hand, is “perfectly true, perfectly good, perfectly excellent, worthy of praise,” he said. “… Nothing compares. And as believers in Christ, we should absolutely binge on the Bible.”

Nelsen cited three places where God, through the Bible, tells us of its value.

In the second book of Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training and righteousness.

In Isaiah 40:8:

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.

In Psalm 119:105:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

“It’s the ultimate source of truth that dispels any lies of Satan,” Nelsen said, adding that Ephesians 6:17 calls the Word of God the “sword of the spirit.”

It is an “offensive weapon to fight back against lies,” he added, and then he shared this “mic-drop” quote from 1800s evangelist Charles Spurgeon:

A tattered Bible results in a beautiful life, evangelist Charles Spurgeon once said.

“A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who’s not.”

It’s like a well-balanced meal, he said. We should read it so much, we wear it out, and we shouldn’t limit our attention to our favorite parts. His former pastor put it another way: “The Word of God is the vocabulary of the Holy Spirit.”

Nelsen urged students to use the final four weeks of the semester to find practical ways to put his advice to use – mainly, to binge on the Word of God, particularly the Gospels, Psalm 119 and the Book of Proverbs. The Office of Spiritual Life offers free Bibles, and a quiet spot in a building high above campus could become a heavenly haven, he suggested.

A short time later, a trip to the gym was greeted by televisions tuned to a show that celebrated the sins of being self-absorbed, petulant, angry and promiscuous.

Another sign of the times.

Another reason to change the channel and turn to Jesus instead.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].

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  • To watch the full Chapel service, including the music of the Worship team, the announcements for the week and Erik Nelsen’s talk, click here.
  • Next Monday’s speaker: David Stockton, Living Streams Church

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Bible Verse

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

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