Media Fast Follow Up

Social Media

At the first of February, I initiated a 40 day media fast. There were a lot of reasons for this. At Journey, we were in the middle of a several month vision discussion and I wanted to continue leading well. Kristen had started a new job and our family’s schedule was very full. And I had realized that my intentional one on one time with God wasn’t as consistent as I wanted it to be. In short, I felt the need to focus on God, draw close to him and quiet the distractions.

As I thought through how to prioritize my connection with the Father, I began to take an honest look at my life. I realized that I had developed habits with how I use my time. I began to notice that so much of my free time, a moment here or 15 minutes there, was spent on my phone using media in some way or another. I found myself checking Facebook a dozen times a day or more. When I came home from work, I would hit my Cowboys app and check out all the latest news from Big D. I would check this blog to see how many people had visited that day. I would check Journey’s Facebook and Reckless Pursuit’s Facebook. I would jump over to my ESPN app and see what I had missed that day. On and on it would go.

For years, I have arranged my life, reordered my schedule and even set up my office to prioritize people and relationships. It’s who I want to be and how I want to live. I felt like I was doing a fairly good job of that at work but I had begun to be less present at home – when I was off and could relax. I wasn’t engaging my family like I’d want to nor was I as connected with God as I needed to be.

So…40 days in the wilderness here I came! 40 days of no media. No TV. No talk radio. No apps of the phone. No internet. The only things I allow myself were talking on the phone, texting and emailing for work. After I cut those things out, I decided to take back media for the good. I added in Air1 radio, because it feeds my heart and I built a 40 day Bible reading plan into the notes app on my phone. Every day, when I had a free moment – instead of pulling up the Cowboys or Facebook – I would grab my phone and read scripture. When I came home, I would put my phone away and be present. I played with my kids. Sat on the kitchen counter and talked with Kristen while she cooked. Started reading Reckless Pursuit to my family and played games with them. It was amazing how much time I felt like I got back!

Everything wasn’t easy though. About 3 weeks in, there was struggle. I really wanted to just sit on the couch and relax – veg. I had gotten weary and longed for a break. For freedom from the discipline. The next week was hard. However, the last week or two of the fast was great. It was back to the earlier experience. I was present with my family and I was chasing God actively.

As I write this, I’m finished with the media fast but have come to live a bit different. I check Facebook a couple of times a day and hit my Cowboys app once or twice as well. But I am present both with people and with God. I can’t wait to initiate something like this again!

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Quieting the Noise – 10 days in

Social Media

 

10 days into a media fast (see the previous post “Quieting the Noise” to see why) and here’s what I’m experiencing:

The Good

– finding several opportunities a day to hang out with God in scripture for a few minutes at a time

– keeping a stream of thought going all day…after I’m with people and find myself alone again, my thoughts immediately jump back to what I’ve been experiencing with God

– experiencing intentional moments with my kids in the evening…instead of defaulting to the TV or computer, we’re playing games, wrestling, reading and talking about God

– realizing that my heart is calmer, more at peace, more open to interruptions…my focus is more on people…my wife is getting more of me

The Struggle

– finding that I’m out of the loop with a couple Facebook conversations that ran through our community this week…although not quite sure how much of a struggle this is because those conversations were mostly unnecessary drama

– wanting to sit down on the couch in the evenings and unwind with my wife in front of the TV or a movie…I love sitting with her every evening

– wondering how things are going with the Olympics and what the latest news is with the Cowboys

– discovering the relational connectedness and personal peace I often trade for the noise of our world

10 days down, 30 to go!

Quieting the Noise

When was the last time you heard from God? I’m not asking about the lesson you heard in your worship gathering or in your small group discussion last week. No, I’m after something much more personal here. I’m asking about your intimate connection with the Father.

When was the last time you talked to him as you would your best friend? Do you remember the conversation? What did you say? How’d you feel while y’all spent time together? And one more question…

What did he say?

If you’re like me, honestly answering this question can be one of the most challenging things in your relationship with God. So often we come to God with our agendas, locked in our schedules, focused on our pursuits. But deep down, we know there’s more to our relationship with God than this. We know he is aching to not be talked at but to meet us in this conversation. To walk with us in our lives and to intimately guide our movements. He longs to be heard and known by us.

This kind of relationship requires something of us. Like any relationship we value, it takes work. Pursuit. Sacrifice. Intentionality. In the midst of this fast-paced world we find ourselves in, how do we make room for this with our Father?

In July 2012, I wrote a blog entry entitled, “Communicating with God.” In that entry, I discussed how social media promises unlimited connections with people but also threatens our real, deepening connections at the same time. In the year and a half since, I have experienced the danger of it. I try to set limits and live in healthy boundaries but even with this, it’s often hard to quiet the clutter.

I realize that in order for me to truly reflect the Father’s heart to people, I need to be immersed in him. Covered in his presence. Guided by his Spirit. Filled with his word. This can’t be accidental or even secondary. It must be primary. I need to pursue him with the same passion he is pursuing me!

In order to focus on this, I am initiating a 40 day media fast. I’m going to quiet my world of social media, TV, sports updates, etc. in order to be more present with the Father. I’m not checking out of the world or out of relationships. I’m simply quieting the noise so I can hear better. Truer.

May he be heard and known by and through me as a result!

 

 

God Get Away (Part 2)

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Can you relate to the Southwest Airlines “Wanna Get Away” ad campaign? Ever feel like life just needs to slow down or maybe even come to a screeching halt? It happens to all of us but the question is, what do you do when that emotion comes? Do you fight through like a responsible adult? Or do you run? And if you run, where do you go?

I have varying responses to stress and struggle. Sometimes I fight and sometimes I find myself in flight before I even realize what’s going on. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I need to intentionally create these rhythms in my life. If I hit the release valve regularly, giving myself time to breathe, I am much stronger when everything goes sideways. When I refill my tank, even when it’s not that empty, I end up having so much more to offer everyone in my life.

So I live in a rhythm of retreat and engagement. Every Monday, I retreat. I escape the office. Drink coffee. Read scripture. Sit. Reflect. Pray. Write. Dream. And invite God to have his way. It’s incredible medicine for my heart.

In addition to this, a couple of times a year, I disappear. I step away from everything. My family. My work. My football obsession. Everything – and I escape to be alone with my God. During this time, I will often spend two or three days without saying a word to anyone. Just me and God at a beautiful ranch.

For the past several months, I’ve been reflecting on what God is doing with me and with the people at Journey. This recently brought me back to a journal entry I made at one of these retreats in May 2010. The entry was entitled, “God Get Away.” In the first part of that entry, God led me to reflect on Jesus’ prayer in John 17. The following is my entry from the following day:

I slowly and methodically read David Platt’s book, “Radical” yesterday. It was an amazing day. Everything that began stirring in my heart during my time with God as I dealt with John 17 ended up resurfacing as I read the book. It was as if God scripted the day for me. His protection and power and fatherhood and partnership with me in the advancement of his kingdom became a consuming reality for me. At one point, late into the night, I hung out with him in prayer. I can’t remember the last time I prayed like that.

I felt known and loved and accepted but also a sense of fear at the potential of being exposed to the presence of God. I’ve never known him like that. I feel like such and infant in front of him. I feel like there is so much about him that I don’t understand. But this doesn’t push me away – it draws me closer. I want more of him.

I have spoken before of a dream or a picture that God has given me about the man he created me to be. I feel him emerging in a way that I never have before. And it is not work! It is simply submission. It is a letting go. It is freedom and peace. I truly don’t know that I have ever felt what I feel now! It doesn’t even feel like a quote/unquote “spiritual high.”

I’m not afraid of coming down off the mountain top or returning to “normal” or losing this experience! I am simply being made new. And I can’t wait for what’s next. This isn’t about my call at Journey or my dreams for ministry. This is all about God. I want him more than I ever have. And what’s crazy is that I expect this longing to increase. I feel like the more I know him, the more I will want to know him and the more I will realize that he is too big to know.

Oh, the consuming greatness of my God! There is no love like this. It is for this I was made.

A God Get Away

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A “God Get Away” – that’s what the title reads in a journal entry I made from May 2010. Three and a half years ago. It doesn’t seem possible for that much time to have passed but yet so much has happened since then.

I had taken about three days to escape. Three days to quiet the world around me and listen to God. What would he say? Would he speak at all? I needed his presence. His direction. There is no way I could step into what was coming without it.

After almost a day of detoxing from the world, I began to intentionally seek him out and I found myself in John’s story of the life of Jesus – specifically in chapter 17…Jesus’ prayer in the garden.

I read. Sat. Listened. Looked out into the beauty of the ranch I was surrounded by. I marveled at the wonder of creation and at the same time checked the rocks around me to make sure there weren’t any snakes close by.

I read John 17 again. This time finding myself gravitating toward a few verses in the middle of the chapter. Verses that unpacked Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, his apprentices. Here’s what he prayed:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be sanctified.

Protected, Sanctified & Sent. That was his prayer for those who would follow him. For those who would become like him in this world. I am not historically a journaler but I was moved to record my prayer in response to this.

After worshiping out of this same text yesterday with Journey, I have been prompted to share this prayer with you here. The following is my prayer from 5/12/10:

Holy Father,

I need your protection. Without it I would be consumed and destroyed. I have come to know how helpless I am in this world without you. Without your strength, my eyes go blind. I become consumed with myself. All joy disappears. Relationships become empty and difficult.

But in your covering, all of this changes in an instant. The air becomes light. There is a spring in my step and ease in my heart. There is boldness in my speech that is defined by love and compassion. Relationships are life-giving and there is rest at night.

Protect me Father! Do not allow the evil one to rob me of one more day with you. Fill me with your presence that I may truly live. Thank you for this life you give. May I truly learn to live in it so that when we are finally together in fullness, it will be like coming home.

Teach me what it means to be your son. Define me this way. Write it on my heart. Make it as true a reality to me as it is for me to be Brady, Reagan and Brycen’s dad. May I come to know you as “Abba” – “Daddy” and not just as FAther. Cover me and hold me in your hand, Daddy.

I just stopped there. I wanted to soak in his presence. I sit in view of what I was asking. I didn’t want to “end” my prayer and go to the next thing in my retreat. I wanted him. God. And I wanted to be more his son than I ever had.

I knew he was sending me but I also knew that I would have to be completely dependent on him if that were to happen. I could do nothing without his protection and without him remaking me to look like him.

How about you?

Angry Bird Valentine

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I love my little boy’s heart. They way he experiences the world is so refreshing. It reminds me often of what life is to look like for us. Earlier this week, I was banging around in the kitchen – cleaning up from a hectic morning – while he was watching his cartoons. Over the clanging of dishes and pans, I was shocked to hear his little voice turn into a monstrous scream. As I turned around to see what was going on, I realized that this scream was directed at…me!

He was out of control beside himself, thundering at me because I was making too much noise for him to hear his show. This has NEVER happened before and I admit, I was a bit in shock. However, what happened next shocked me even more.

In mid-scream, he stopped. His face fell and he immediately began saying, “I’m sorry, Daddy! I’m sorry!” Before I even had time to react, my little guy caught himself, changed course and began begging for forgiveness.

And it was given immediately. I picked him up, looked him deep in the eyes and said, “We don’t scream at people like that. Not at me. Not at anybody.” As tears welled up in his eyes, I looked at him and said, “I love you Brycen” and our little encounter was done.

Oh, that we would live like this with our Daddy! The perfect, fullest life available. Not a perfect life but one that is overcome with love and forgiveness. Could there be anything more beautiful than an “Angry Bird Valentine?”

Custom Order

How do you like yours?

For me, it’s not an easy answer. Sure, I have a default…black, drip coffee. The house blend will be just fine. But this is because it’s usually not all about the taste for me. It’s about the physical presence of the cup on the table. It gives me a reason for occupying the booth for a couple of hours. It gives me something to do as I process what I’m reading and it gives me that extra little kick in the afternoon when I tend to hit the wall. I guess you could say that coffee is my security blanket.

However, there are times when it is an extremely different experience. When I am craving that perfect cup of coffee. When I want to sit and take the moment in. When I stand in line imagining the taste of the latest promotion…salted caramel mocha, peppermint latte, or duppio con panna. And so I experiment. I jump in and try something new and make an intentional effort to remember my favorites.

Do you have a favorite? My wife hates coffee but I can get her to join me by offering her an Earl Grey tea – if I remember to get a cup of ice on the side. What’s your go to drink? Are you a Frappe’ person? Maybe the traditional Cappuccino? How about a Caramel Macchiato? Are you a Mocha fan? Or are you possibly a bold coffee lover and an Iced Americano is more your speed?

It’s amazing how individualized a simple order for coffee has become. There are endless options in front of us and we all seem to have our preferences. Some like it extra hot. Some prefer decaf. Some like dark roast. Some don’t want the taste of coffee in their drink at all. We have become a culture of highly sophisticated consumers and nothing seems to display this more than the local coffee shop.

Question: How does this hyper-consumer culture we live in impact our relationship with God?

Too often, this has become our approach to church. We shop them, looking for the right set of goods to be provided – which tragically misses the point. When we do this, we turn the light of the world, the family of God, into a commercialized provider of goods. But this mentality doesn’t stop with our relationship with church. We have become so deeply consumeristic that we apply this to God as well.

How often do we approach him, expecting to be provided a service? Expecting him to reproduce a previous experience we had with him? And are we frustrated if the cup he hands us is not as hot as it was last week?

How does this mentality impact our worship experiences? Our one-on-one times alone with him? Our moments of service? Have we really gone this far? Have we become consumers of God? Are we trying to walk into his store, order what we want and anticipate our request to be filled in the next five minutes?

What do we do when our experiences are not what we ordered? Do we threaten to leave his shop? Do we go in search for a provider that promises to fill our custom order?

Have we become a people who have turned our relationship with God into a business transaction? Is he just another thing we are trying to consume? If so, what are we really consuming?