What is a 30-Day Secular Media Fast?

What if the noise of godless media is drowning out the voice of God? Not all media is bad... but maybe the distraction away from God is making harder to hear and see God at work.

This is a journey of a group of high school students who have committed to take 30 days to focus on God through God-centered media. This includes TV, movies, books, magazines, smart phone apps, and many social media outlets.

Here, you can follow their stories, their lives, and their challenges. Feel free to leave comments and encouragement.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Just When You Think It's Over...

After 16 years of encouraging Middle School and High School students to do something unthinkable in our culture, I've learned a few things:

  • Fasting from something that hurts your relationships is always worth it
  • Don't under-estimate what a young person can do (or who they can influence)
  • We grow closer in our relationship with God when we cut out the extra noise
  • When families make a commitment to place "WE" over "ME", the whole family wins
  • Just when you think something is over, it usually isn't
The reason you decide to avoid something is that you realize how it may be hurting you or others. Smoking, drugs, addictions, even media have a negative impact on our relationships. Lori and I noticed that many parents at restaurants and stores have been handing their kids electronic devices to watch movies or cartoons or play games while they are involved in conversations or activities with other adults... and we have also noticed that many young people have a really hard time carrying on normal conversations with their peers, let alone other adults. I think our tendency to try to "keep our kids entertained" so that they don't interrupt us is a bigger problem than we realize. I remember getting in trouble with my brothers when we started being a distraction or started to act up when my parents were trying to talk... you know what I learned by getting in trouble? I learned to pay attention to other people and not to spit spitwads at others when people are talking. Parents: it's ok to put your kids in situations where they will probably not act perfectly... and it's even wiser to remove things from our lives that distract or hurt our relationships with others, and God!

Teenagers want to do something that matters. They want to make a difference. They are also incredibly influential and inspiring. When we hear of a 30-year-old making a decision to avoid certain media, we think "that's interesting... good for them", or "what a weirdo". But when a teenager makes the same decision, we think, "That's amazing! I wish I could do something like that!" There are countless stories of students who have jumped into this fast and have impacted their friends, their teachers, their parents, and others. We need to expect more from teenagers, not less.

I'm not sure I have to get into this one. It's kind of a "no-brainer". But I do think that while we know this is true, how often do we actually do it? It's like when we want to lose some weight and we know we need to avoid certain foods and exercise... and then we still grab a tub of ice cream and sit and binge-watch our favorite show. We need to take time to cut out the things that are hurting our relationship with God... or we won't grow closer to God. I guess we have to decide whether our media choices and our time choices are more important than the things we need to do to grow closer to God. 

I've heard this every year from families... "This past month of the fast was amazing! We did it together and it seems like there was less stress. We had so much fun together." But by the end of April, they are stressed out and tired. I know this because it has happened in my house for over 16 years. And while I'm not advocating that we should always fast from media distractions (although maybe I should and I'm just being selfish), I think there is incredible value in focusing on "we" over "me". It is so incredibly selfish for someone to say "I just need some 'me' time." I get it... we all need time away from chaos, complaining, crying, and everything else that comes from being a human on planet earth with billions of other people... but parents, you need to hear this: WHEN YOU HAVE DECIDED TO HAVE SEX, YOU DECIDED TO GIVE UP "ME" FOR "WE". And when you have kids, you have a responsibility to put your family above yourself. If you don't, you will regret it... trust me. I have heard more stories than I can count... I gave up a lot of things I like to do while my kids were at home, and I don't regret not doing those "me" things. I stopped playing golf; I said "no" to side jobs or extra responsibilities that would have taken time away from my kids and family; I even cut out working out every day (I play basketball 1 day a week for 2 1/2 hours) in order to make sure I was there for my kids. I learned how to coach softball. I went on field trips. I worked on projects... and while it sounds like I was amazing, I still see areas where I regret focusing on "me" over "we". I wish we had played more board games together. I wish we had gone on more hikes and walks. I wish I had prayed more often with my kids and wife. 

We are wrapping up year 16... and it's been an awesome adventure. Over 400 students, 400 families, nearly 10,000 sponsors, have been a part of this yearly event. It has brought in over $250,000 in money raised to send kids on mission trips and camps. But even more important, is that teens and families have grown closer to each other, and to God. Just because it's April and everyone is "back to normal" in their routine, doesn't mean that the fast is over. Prayerfully, we called people to spend time with God... and if they did that, hopefully, they have a habit of finding time to spend with God, daily. Many of these kids will be involved in mission trips to help point others to Jesus... and that's an eternal outcome that we can't quantify. People throughout the year come across this website and read the posts from kids... and they are inspired to do something about their relationship with God... how awesome is that? Just when you think it's over... 

Thank you all for another great year on this adventure... I can't wait to see how God uses this challenge over the next year!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Over Already?

     Man, I can't believe that the media fast went by that fast! I remember at the beginning of the fast when I thought I would be dreading every day and would have nothing to do but, it happened to be the opposite. I had a lot of work at school because of spring break and during spring break we were pretty busy with family and trips. Even though we were busy I still feel like I got a lot more connected to God through all the movies I watched, songs I listened to and through reading my bible. This media fast really helped me with the way I reacted to things and after the fast I can see myself getting a little more angry over small things. So, even though the fast is over I am going to try to limit myself on media and read my bible more often.  All in all, I can't wait for next year's media fast and I am grateful for all the people who supported and prayed for me throughout the fast.

The End?

Well here we are, the media fast has been over for a couple days now and we can go back to media. However when I went back on Instagram and Snapchat I realized that I wasn't that interested in what was on there. I have learned to take a step back from everything going on in the world and see Gods point of view instead of people's point of view. There were a few times that I slipped up like when we were in the store and a song was playing I realized that I was humming along with it and I have to stop myself. Overall I have learned to focus more on God and learn more about him. Thank you to everyone who prayed and everyone who sponsored me during the fast. And to everyone who participated in this with me I hope we can remember what we have learned and not forget what the fast was about.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Return of The Media

I tried to make a good title, probably too cheesy but the blog post won't let you down... hopefully. The end of the media fast will come differently for others. Some might look back and say "thank goodness I'm out of this mess". Others might think that "it was fine" and "it won't affect me later" but when I look back I'm going to remember this journey and how it will improve my future life. I know that media has became apart of our lives because we see it everywhere. We see it in our friends, our school, politics, pretty much everything except the Amish. We care for it and we use it for a lot of things. That transition from straight media to straight non media was a punch in the face. As I look back I realize that punch was knocking sense into me showing me that I have been blinded from the true power of God. When I was on this media fast I saw things through my daily life that seemed like it was influenced by God. I would ask him questions through my prayer and hope for an answer like he was actually talking to me but instead I would listen to music or read passages that would be like little puzzle pieces. Those puzzle pieces would be put together and form a big picture. That picture would be the answer to my questions, something that is not showed and covered when we are sucked into the excessive amount of media. I guess the real point is that we should all cut back on media and make sure that we are aware of Him and what He does for us. As I continue my journey to get closer to God I know I have to change some of my previous habits so I can make cutting out media a habit. I am so glad that I was able to do this and I'm looking forward to doing more than just one month of fasting next year.

A forever kind of love

He Has Risen! (I know right?)
Happy Easter! This wonderful day also coincides with April Fools' Day and the end of the media fast. A lot to be thinking about today. Here are a few of the things I've been thinking about:
     I can't believe the fast is over already! And this is the end of my "official" fasting as I am a senior, but I'd love to continue to fast in years to come. I've memorized almost every Silly Song in existence and can quote Courageous and Moms' Night Out almost perfectly, but I've also been able to spend more time with my family and with my loving Creator. I've seen His power and majesty in everything, from the rain just a week ago to the brilliant sunshine now, from the rush of a spring break band trip to the peace and quiet of an "Easter nap."
     I really don't want to go full into media again. Though I was exposed to some music and some social media while I was around my friends, I had no longing to go back to it. The more I think about it, the more overwhelmed I become with even considering letting that stuff back into my life. A lot of it isn't positive and encouraging, and I think that I should be trying to keep my life as positive and encouraging as possible. If the occasion does arise where my family wants to go out for a movie, I would most certainly love to join them, because the movie is only half the fun of the outing. Getting to spend time with my family is a blessing, even though we can be a little... strange... sometimes. But that's just one of the things that comes with being in a family. And to be honest, I'm glad that God decided to throw in a little weird, cuz that makes ordinary things (and now, I'm noticing, things without media) way more fun!
     This fast has helped me be patient with a lot of things, because I am learning to not just jump on Google to look up an answer or open Snapchat to see what's going on in the world right now because I don't really need to know everything right now. It's good for me to wait, because God's perfect plan will come in time. I don't have to know exactly what He has planned for my future right in this very moment (though sometimes I'd really like to know) and I can rest assured that whatever is in my future is for a reason. He's got a reason for everything, even when it seems like those things might not be so good.
     Thanks to all of our sponsors! Your prayers are greatly appreciated and your financial support has done and will do amazing things in the lives of so many people. I am so looking forward to this mission trip, and I can't wait to come back with more stories of how God has changed my life!
     The media fast may be ending, but God's love NEVER ends!!
Remember, God made us special, and He loves us very much. Goodbye!
-Madeleine Jones

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Crossing the *Finish* Line

And the media fast is officially over...
I have to say, I have mixed feelings. I think I’ll like being able to watch TV again (I went to a friends house and had to miss out on watching Thor 3), and I’ve missed some of the other things too. Don’t get me wrong,  I think it was good to take a break from those stuff, it kinda serves as a reminder of where your priority’s are it life, and helps you refocus on God. 
I’m excited on how much I grew these past few weeks and I’m looking forward to the Mission trip this July.

Until next time...

-Erik W Washburn

Friday, March 30, 2018

Not the End

Wow. Thirty days ago, I was telling myself, "Just get through it, it's only thirty days and then you can go back to everything." Now I'm telling myself, "It doesn't have to end, you can continue and you don't have to go back." I DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK. AT ALL. I feel so connected with God and I'm scared I might lose the connection if I let the distractions back in. Life is so so much better without media and with God. So many christian movies have inspired me, for example: "I'm Not Ashamed". Because of movies like that and music and reading devotions and stuff, I have realized that nothing else of this world satisfies me as Jesus does. And that is why I am so so thankful for this media fast. I have also decided to get baptized. I have grown to love Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I really truly believe that this media fast has changed my life so much. It has made me realize that I want to live my life for him. Jesus gave his life for me, so I will give my life to him. Thanks for the prayers over the fast, they obviously really helped. I know God has something great planned for my life, and I can't wait to find out what it is and serve, love, and make him proud while doing it. Please pray that I continue my walk with Jesus, and that this love I have grown continues to grow even after the fast. Thanks again. :)

It's Almost Over!

I can't believe the Media Fast is already almost over.  To be honest, it has changed my life in many ways.  I realize how much I have been on my phone, and how much social media has been pulling me away from God.  So much of life has passed me by while I am on my phone.  I have missed out on many things.  That is a hard thing to realize, but I know now, and I won't let it happen again.  I have been keeping a Gratitude Journal this month, naming three things each day I am grateful for.  I have been reading my Bible a lot.  In fact, I read through the Book of Esther and some of the Book of Proverbs.  I am also working on daily devotionals on my Bible App. 

Stay 2 Serve was amazing.  I loved teaching all the little kids about God and Jesus, and how Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  The language barrier was hard, though, because sometimes the kids couldn't understand what we were saying.  Sometimes the kids could understand the basic concepts of what we were saying, but all the time, the kids could understand our smiles and laughter.  God has changed my life in so many ways this month, and I am already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Almost There!

Stay 2 Serve ended yesterday and we had so many kids and parents. It was a lot of work but it was really cool. I'm excited that the media fast is coming to an end. Even though I don't want to go back to the same old habits I still kind of want to watch my shows especially "A Series of Unfortunate Events". In the beginning of the month, I was kind of struggling but now it feels like normal daily life.


Philippians 4:13 

                                     "I can do all thing through him who strengthens me"❤

Few more days!

I can’t believe that the media fast is coming to an end! Stay 2 Serve just ended and we had A LOT of kids and I thank God because He gave us an opportunity to share the gospel to so many different people and in so many different ways! The fast hasn’t been that bad so far, because I’ve been keeping myself busy with writing Bible verses in my journal. I don’t want to go back to my normal habits of being attached to my phone more than usual after the media fast is over.