What is a 30-Day Secular Media Fast?
Thursday, April 6, 2017
I can honestly say that every year, I am so proud of how we have High School students who not only take the challenge, but inspire others along the way. Over the past 15 years, we have averaged over 20 students per year who step up. Add to the the 3-5 families who join in. We still have former students who participate in the fast each year!
We have written over 200 daily-devotionals... we have utilized book studies, prayer practices, and Bible study methods. About 10 years ago, we started this blog page to keep track of past experiences. Each year we challenge adults to not only sponsor students, but also to join in the fast... and every year I hear from 2 or 3 adults who are sponsors that join in with the students.
We do use this opportunity to raise money for our mission trips and over the last 15 years we have raised over $9000 per year to send kids onto mission trips to grow in their leadership skills, grow in the their faith, and learn how to share the Gospel with other people. We have no idea how many people have heard and seen the Gospel through these trips, but I know it has always impacted the students who go.
God is good! I have seen how He uses this simple expression of fasting from something that nudges us away from Him and I've seen how it impacts our students every year. For the first time in 15 years, I took this month to just observe, listen, and see how God is moving in our kids. It was not easy avoiding commenting on each blog post because I saw God working in so many ways (I am going back through now and commenting... haha). The Holy Spirit was definitely moving in their hearts!
I work within a culture that can only measure success on numbers. We say that we don't but the reality is that every time I talk to someone from another church, I get the same question: "How many kids are in your youth group?" I wonder if Jesus ever had a question like that? "How many kids in your group, Jesus?" "Well, it's been 3 years, we have 12 leaders, still... half of them are under 18... and then we have a few who show up from time to time," Jesus.
What inspires me every year is not how many High School students who do the fast... it's how those that step up to the challenge are changed by focusing on God for 30 days... and this year, I love what God has done through our kids. Stories of taking stands for faith in class, having Gospel-centered conversations with friends, being asked to pray for sports teams, inviting friends to youth group, serving in children's ministry, sharing spontaneous devotionals for radio stations' Facebook pages... it has been an amazing month! It has been an amazing 15 years! There is something amazing that happens when the Gospel is elevated and centralized in our lives.
As we close out this year's fast, I want to give this final challenge... What are you doing to make Christ known? What are you committing to in order to grow in your faith? How is your faith nudging you to grow closer to God and others? Maybe... just maybe... a 30 day Media Fast will help you answer those questions, too!
Great job everyone! I'm incredibly honored and proud to be a small part of your spiritual journey. I can't wait to see what God does next in your lives!
Sunday, April 2, 2017
What a month it has been. The Media Fast has been complete for going on two days now, but I still feel like I'm in it. I so thoroughly enjoyed the early morning reminders that I am loved by a Wonderful Creator through the sunrises I saw and the songs on KLOVE I heard. I enjoyed having the only notifications on my phone be the daily Bible verse and when people posted on the blog. I enjoyed interacting with my friends face to face, talking and laughing and experiencing things with them that I didn't have to worry about posting on social media later to make me look "cool". Sure, there were moments of wishing I could listen to a certain secular song or watch a secular TV show (because as entertaining as Veggie Tales in the House is, it gets a little old after a while) but those moments were few and fleeting. I really enjoyed being able to do the Media Fast with my whole family because we got to experience the fast together and (I think and hope) that we grew together from it.
I enjoyed all these things very much, but just because the Fast is over doesn't mean I can't keep enjoying them. I did go on social media on Saturday but I wasn't super interested in what was going on and I realized that I really didn't want to be on it because it didn't bring any more happiness or satisfaction into my life. I also listened to secular music for a while, which was more enjoyable, but I heard some songs whose lyrics I hadn't really paid attention to... until now. When I heard them I realized that a lot of them were sending negative messages and that "positive, encouraging KLOVE" is very true. So, I think I'll keep fasting, or at least limit my media usage and sensor the things that I'm putting into my head.
Thanks to all of you who did the Fast, thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors, and thank You, God, for giving us this amazing opportunity to see You more.
We did it!
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
What a difference a week can make. Actually, what a difference an hour can make. After my last Sound of Music pit orchestra performance on Saturday I finally felt like I could breathe again. And then the time change. "Spring forward," they said, "it'll be fun!" They were wrong. Nevertheless, me feeling a little groggy didn't stop the Lord from working in me and through me. I noticed some very tiny, delicate flowers on my walk home from school a couple days ago that I hadn't noticed before. The sun has been beautifully and brilliantly shining this week, and my friend group got to eat lunch outside two days in a row. How wonderful is that?
I have loved noticing God's creation more and more as the month progresses, especially in the approaching spring spirit. I have felt His presence more and more, and though there are many ways to experience God, I think one of the most amazing ways is through His creation. Being able to watch sunsets and sunrises, hearing the birds sing in the morning and in the evenings, smell the sweetness of the morning air or the refreshing scent of fresh cut grass, taste homemade birch syrup on fluffy pancakes, and talk with the people that God has placed in my life.
I'm continually learning from God, and I hope to keep learning and growing. We're halfway done!
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017
Well, we're over a week into the media fast, and I'd like to say that I've seen God in a bunch of ways and had more time to spend with Him because I've been fasting, but that's not the case. I do think I've been substantially more relaxed without the influence of social media and the not-so-positive-and-encouraging lyrics of secular music. I think I've also been more attentive to the pervasiveness of social media and secular TV, music, and movies in the lives of those around me and how unnecessary a lot of that stuff is to my being "in the know". There are some things that people make references to that I don't know about and therefore make me "out of the know", but I don't really mind that.
While I very much appreciate these things, I still feel like I haven't doing as much as I could be doing. Like, I've used being swamped with homework and pit orchestra as an excuse to put off a lot of things, including (unfortunately) keeping up with my Bible reading and devotional time. Which is unnerving for me because I feel like I can usually stay on top of things, especially during the Media Fast.
I think that's the point that God is trying to make to me (I could be totally wrong, and I don't want to misinterpret Him). I may think that I've got it all together, but I really don't. I recently did a mini fast from social media, and after the fast I used it sparingly, so I didn't feel like I was giving a whole lot up in that area, which then may have made me a little cocky when it came time to give up the rest of my media. I thought, "Wow, I'm so cool for already being off social media. I've got it all together. This Fast is gonna be a breeze!" News flash: I don't have it all together, and God has been gently reminding me of that, but He has also been reminding me that He's with me all the way.
So, I approach the next week of the Fast with my eyes fixed upon heaven and my hopes and fears and shortcomings and successes placed on Jesus' name. Happy fasting! God made you special, and He loves you very much!
Monday, March 6, 2017
I struggled mostly with not watching T.V. because it is always on whether at my house or a friends, but I was able to plug in my headphones and either listen to music or different passages from the Bible, so it wasn't too bad. Overall, the first week went very well and I'm looking forward to what the next couple of weeks have in store for me.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Today was my first day of the media fast and it actually went very well. I was surprised at how little I missed using various applications on my phone, watching television, etc. I must admit that I checked my phone pretty often for notifications that I didn't have. Although, I didn't miss responding to them as if they had a great significance in my life at all. I listened to some music by Lecrae and other music by Chris Tomlin throughout the day and found some very strong and powerful lyrics in their songs. By doing this media fast even just for one day so far, I can see how much time that I waste doing different pointless things on my phone from the time I wake up until the time that I go to sleep. Even though there are 29 days to go, I was glad to see how little I missed these pointless things in my life and I hope that it continues to get better from here on out. I am very excited and hopeful for what these upcoming weeks are going to bring and goodluck to all that are participating!
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
So, after all that, I still need to answer the question: "What is your personal goal for the media fast this year?" Well, I think my goal is to be less obsessed with secular "acceptance" and more obsessed with discovering God's acceptance of me. I will be giving up all social media/games, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, as well as secular media, such as TV, books, movies, and music. TV and books won't be super hard to give up, as I don't have a lot of sit-down time to watch a TV show or read a bit of a book. However, my family usually watched movies together on the weekends, so giving up most of the movies we usually watch will be difficult, but it will also give us the opportunity to discover Christian movies. I'd have to agree with Brandon about the difficulty of giving up music, because I love music and connect to different styles in different ways, so giving up secular music is going to be hard for me, especially with how easily accessible it is. However, I'm looking forward to hearing new songs on KLOVE and listening to songs that I added to my Spotify "Jesus Jams" playlist this time last year, rediscovering the connection I made with them last year and making new connections to God through them this year.
Sorry for such a long post, but I hope this provides a bit of insight into my approach to the Media Fast and my wishes for the Media Fast. Thanks to all of you participating and supporting, and thank You, Lord, for all You've done in my life and all the things You're going to do.
Happy Media Fast, everyone!
This year, the hardest part of the media fast for me to give up is going to be my music. It has always been the hardest part for me to give up, and will always be the hardest part for me to give up. The reason is because music has an emotional, psychological, and even spiritual effect on me that I can't even describe completely here, which is even more reason to give it up. I will also be giving up all other secular media that isn't school related. I will definitely be missing my books, and certain movies, but I still say my music beats them by far. I think that I will notice new things during this media fast even though I have done it five years before, because even though we try, we will never completely understand God, His plan, and the ways He changes us, even though that's what the world tries to convince us sometimes. So this fast is less of a sacrifice, than an opportunity to open myself up and let him work, even though I might think I have it all figured out.
Monday, February 27, 2017
I can't wait to hear the feedback from the students who connect with an adult who is crazy about them... but I'm even more excited to hear back from those sponsors who get a chance to see how our students are growing in their faith!
God has got some big things planned this year... keep an eye on this blog for feedback from the students!