On Wednesday at Eastbrook we begin our forty day journey with the book of Job entitled “Finding God in the Darkness.” This past weekend in my message “Still God” I mentioned how fasting can be a helpful spiritual practice to help us regain a hunger for God.
I want to refer to a series of posts on fasting that I wrote a number of years back as a resource for understanding fasting in general, certain specific aspects of fasting, biblical backgrounds on fasting, and a few other practical helps on the topic. I hope this is helpful as you utilize fasting to say ‘no’ to yourself and ‘yes’ to God.
Beginning this weekend at Eastbrook we kick off a new series entitled “Chosen Words.” Jesus’ teaching from the upper room and immediately afterwards, found in John 13-17, is the longest sequence of teaching in John’s gospel and unique in its intimacy in comparison with the gospels. Here, Jesus offers His followers some of the most intense teaching at what it means to be His people, speaking words that illuminate His life and ministry, as well as ours as His followers.
Along with the weekend messages, we are inviting the entire congregation of Eastbrook, as well as any others who would like to join us, on a 40-day devotional journey. You can find out how to join the Chosen Words daily devotional here.
February 14/15 – “Servant” (John 13:1-17)
February 21/22 – “Trouble” (John 13:18-14:4)
February 28/March 1 – “The Spirit” (John 14:1-31; 15:26-16:15)
* March 7/8 – special guest speaker Pastor Oscar Muriu from Nairobi Chapel
March 14/15 – “Abide” (John 15:1-17)
March 21/22 – “Overcome” (John 15:18-25;16:16-33)
March 28/29 – “Glorify” (John 17:1-26)
People talk about all sorts of things you can give up during Lent. For the past three months, I’ve sensed that it would be spiritually upbuilding for me to take a break – a sabbath of sorts – from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more. In the past, I’ve utilized my blog and social media as a tool for inviting others to be God-focused throughout Lent (my series of posts last year entitled “40 Days” are an example of this). However, I think I need to do something different this year.
So, I’m giving up social media during Lent and here’s five reasons why…
- From Distracted to Present: My daily routines are often filled with many things. I have rhythms that shape my days, some related to daily time with God, some related to work activities, and some related to happenings with family and friends. In the midst of all these things, I also give a lot of attention to social media. This allows me to stay connected to people and the world around me through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more. I love this but sometimes I become distracted. Sometimes I become more than temporarily distracted but become characteristically distracted. I sense the need to take a different routine than that for a while so that I can be fully present with people. Hopefully, this season will enable me to grow deeper into Psalm 86:11, “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
- Turning Off the Information Tap: Social media makes me aware of so many things I might not otherwise know,and this is good and bad. I know about events in Somalia and Ukraine faster than ever, so I’m motivated to pray. I read up on the latest research about learning styles or urban life, and it shapes how I approach my work. I can keep up with distant friends and relatives’ lives and loves each day. So much of this information is fun and intellectually stimulating. At other times, I feel like I’m too informed about too many things without actually being able to think or consider what that information means. During Lent, I am stepping away from social media in order to intentionally limit what comes into my mind. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
- Cultivating Appropriate Quiet:: When we take something away during Lent, true spiritual transformation only happens when we put something of value in its place. The corollary to turning off the information tap is cultivating appropriate quiet. If I am going to reduce the flow of connectivity and information, then I must intentionally replace it with another practice. This season of 40 days is intended to stop th high level of connection to others so that I can live from the center of things and have needed space for reflection. Lent is a good time to live into the words of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
- Less Self-Consciousness: By its very nature, social media is centered on the presentation of facts, photos, questions, or information related to ourselves or our interests. Because of that, social media makes me more conscious of how I present myself to others. While that may be good in some ways, that self-centered presentation at times serves to reinforce my own tendencies toward stultifying self-consciousness and people-pleasing that are neither helpful for me nor honoring to God. Lent is a good time to step back from that self-consciousness in order to become more God-conscious. I believe that stepping away from social media during this season will be a good practical practice for me in that direction. I hope it will help me to grow in Jesus’ summary statement of God’s desires for us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).
- From Hearing Voices to Hearing God’s Voice: With all the voices coming my way through social media, whether friends or various colleagues or news feeds, my inner mind often feels like cavern reverberating with the echoes of others’ words. It becomes harder to reflect and, many times, harder to hear God’s voice. Lent is intended to be a focused time for self-reflection, repentance, and purification under the penetrating voice and astute hand of God. It is my aim that consciously eliminating some of those voices for a season helps me to hear and respond to God more truly and vigorously. The prophets constantly called the people to just this, as Hosea declared: “Hear the word of the Lord” (Hosea 4:1).
I will continue to post on my blog occasionally, which automatically posts to my social media accounts. However, I will not be active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram from Ash Wednesday (March 5) through Resurrection Sunday (Easter, April 20). If you need to contact me, please email me.
Jesus walked into Jerusalem hailed as a king. Within a few days, the crowd was calling for His execution: “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” (John 19:15).
A thorny crown fiercely adorned His kingly head (19:2). Purple robes signaled His royalty as soldiers spit on Him, slapped Him and mocked Him (19:3). But the only throne given to this King was a rough and brutal wooden cross (19:18). They raised Him up on it for all the world to see. A sign saying “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” displayed His identity in mocking irony (19:19).
Weak and pitiful, naked and bloody, thirsty andRead More »
Even though He taught God’s truth and healed many people, Jesus was arrested. Clearly, He said some revolutionary things and acted in some startling ways – like pushing things around in the Temple – but His arrest was part of a plot concocted by religious leaders.
He was shuffled from Annas, the former high priest, to Caiphas, the current high priest, to Pilate, the Roman governor, and pushed around in between (John 18:19, 24, 28). Religious authorities tried to rein Him in. Political authorities tried to wield power over Him. Like a common criminal, the King of the nations was mistreated.
Then Read More »