Rebellious children sap the energies of parents, leaving them with no will, no time, and no strength for outside interests or ministries. The question before the class today, students, is: "What depletes your energies for God?"

As usual, I'll get us started. At the end, leave your own contributions to the list. Our hope is that someone will see himself in this and learn that a certain practice has been robbing them of their service to the Lord and will return to the Father. Luke 15:18 comes to mind. "I will arise and go to my Father."

Here are my top ten energy-depleters:

10. Compromise.

You're doing something displeasing to the Lord and you know it. The guilt lingers and weighs you down. When you try to read your Bible, pray, or worship, the fog is so thick you could cut it. God seems far away, and you know without being told it's because you moved. You're being torn down the middle and it's a miserable feeling.

Isaiah 59:1-2 comes to mind. "Your sins have separated you." Confess them and move back closer.

9. Nay-sayers.

The discouragers around you are constantly pointing out that you cannot do this, you are not the Christian you ought to be, the Bible cannot be understood, your prayers never go beyond the ceiling, and your pitiful offering amounts to nothing. To make matters worse, sometimes that negative voice hounding us is our own. You lose heart and want to give up.

Psalms 103:1-5 comes to mind. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Speak to yourself words of faith. Believe your faith and doubt your doubts.

8. Nit-pickers.

A family member, a colleague in the office, or a so-called friend has taken it as their personal calling to remind you of your failures in living up to the standards you claim. Your clothes do not match, you need a haircut, why do you waste your time on those books or that writer or that church, why aren't you exercising more, you're putting on weight, and I don't think you're right for this. Of course, he tells you this for your own good. You leave your friend's presence feeling worthless and hopeless.

Philippians 4:8 comes to mind. "Whatsoever things are true, think on these things." Choose where your mind will land and come to rest and what it will feed upon.

7. Time-wasters.

A few years ago, we would have named television as the biggest time-waster. It still is for many, but these days, the tube has lots of competition: the computer, computer games, the telephone, worthless reading materials, shopping, mall-crawling, and such. Each person has his own battlefield in this regard. But it's not just the time; the problem is that it robs you of your energy for God or doing good or relating to other people.

Luke 18:1 comes to mind. "We ought always to pray and not to lose heart." The old hymn told us to "Take Time to Be Holy." It takes time.

6. Starvation.

When you're really hungry, instead of pausing for dinner, you gulp down a soft drink and a bag of chips. Now, you have stopped the hunger but you're starving your body. A few minutes later, your wife or mother calls you to dinner. You beg off; you're not hungry. You dare not admit what you just did. That foolish scenario happens spiritually, too.

Try this experiment. After watching two hours of television--especially sitcoms of the type the networks are running these nights--get up and go get your Bible and read a couple of chapters. You'll have to make yourself do it. After a steady diet of mental junk food, you have no appetite for real nourishment.