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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 17 - Media

I was reading this article on Pete Townshend of "The Who" yesterday.  Evidently he was heavily influenced by this Indian mystic named Meher Baba who'd taken a 40-year vow of silence to better hear the word of God.  He had a lot of ideas about heightened awareness through sensory deprivation.  I haven't read this guy's work but it makes a lot of sense when a vacuum is created there is pressure to fill it.  I'm trying to figure out how mine is being filled.  More reflective - check.  More time - check.  Heightened awareness?.....ummm......kind of.  I notice my neighbors more now.  Its kind of hard not to when you sit out on your front porch and watch them walk/drive bye.  I talk to my roomates more.....last night we talked about the difference between knowing and believing God exists.

Still even though I miss the diversions, I enjoy the be still and know that he is God time too.

I wonder if Jesus had come to earth during the "Technological Revolution" what his ministry techniques would have been?  Would he have spend a lot of time skyping his friends?  Would he have played some Wii bowling with his disciples?  They had games back then but he doesn't really ever say anything good or bad about them.

A family just walked by .....well two older men and three children.  I heard one of them mutter after we waved at each other......"Now that's how ya liv rite theya.  Sittin on your front porch barefoot wit da torches."  Well don't I just have it all figured out.  A lot of folks around here walk around the neighborhood, calling out to each other, with a sense of familiarity....and how few of them do I know.  Maybe that can be my new ministry.  Sit on my porch, preparing lessons and just hollar out at folks every once in a while...its not too bad really if I can keep these dang mosquitoes off of me.

I miss the music ....but have heard the train whistle every night for the last week.  I miss movies....but .....that dude looks way awkward on that moped.  I bet his license got suspended because he can't be riding that for fun...

What are you doing young sir......walking around so late?  Has anyone else noticed that baggy pants are not as popular?  Its a lot harder picking out the juvenile delinquents now.  Dude!!!!! don't you know its illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk?  Man.  lol.

Well, Emmanuel just came out and said this is what every summer day was like in Africa.  Sitting, watching people go bye.  Lanterns, no electricity.  Its wild to think about no electricity.  Its fun camping without it but I don't know how I'd like it long term.

Well I'm getting kind of sleepy.  No profound revelations today....but it was a good day.  If anyone is reading this take care.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 14 - Media

What to do when normal avenues of entertainment are sparse?

1. Read books.  I am currently reading Anne of Green Gables.  Don't make fun. Its a cute story.
2. Read Magazines. Voice of the Martyrs, Popular Science, Discover, Mental Floss.  Nice diversions
3. Memorize the names of my plants (not give them names....that would be weird).  Currently I have Pilea or "Moon valley", and Fittonia or "Pink Star" dpwn.

Moon Valley

Pink Star

4. Write on my blog about things that nobody else cares about but me.
5. Pester my friends about what is going on in the world and sports.  (Did Columbo die?  Awww...man.)
6. Finish the obscure little projects around the house that I've been putting off. (Wash clothes, take out trash)
7. Flossing.
8. Remember funny things my roommates say......After Emmanuel came in late one night from the lab.......Zach asked him if he has been out with his girlfriend.  Emmanuel said he had just been at the lab.  Zach then made some comment about being married to his work to which Emmanuel replied, "If the lab is supposed to be my wife......she sucks."  (You had to be there)
9. Sit on my front porch, Tiki Torches lit, watching cars go bye.
10.  Make soup from random veggies in the garden ....the key is not measuring anything and periodically tasting.....delish.

This list kind of stinks.  Am I that boring?  After all, I did enjoy most of this.  I'm going to have to use my imagination and find some more creative outlets....maybe sitting on my front porch wearing a motorcycle helmet holding a fake shotgun...that could be fun.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 11 - Media

It been enjoyable hearing information through my friends.  Instead of "going to the source", I get to hear what those I care about choose to share with me.  I am always anxious to hear and listen.   Zach told me about some ethanol subsidies debate last night that he found interesting.  I would never have researched that on my own.  This led into a discussion of OPEC and various trivia questions.  You know how many members there are in OPEC?   You know what non OPEC country produces about as much oil as Saudi Arabia every year?  Anyways, its hard not having that instantaneous access but I am enjoying the filtered information and discussion time.

You think it would have been similar for the Israelites back in the day?  Its not like prophets came along every other moment....at least not true prophets.   And when these prophets showed up it would be unlikely you would have heard them first hand.  Third and fourth hand....probably.  You definitely didn't have the same instant access you do today.  Can you imagine going to Elijah and saying, "Prophecy something for me, big boy."?  I don't think so.  I wouldn't want to get too bossy with someone who called fire out of heaven on his enemies.  Maybe its not always good to have instantaneous access to information.  Maybe the delay causes us to relish the knowledge a little more thoroughly.  Its the difference between a sit down dining experience and a fast food restaurant's "ease the hunger" function.

Regardless, I am still thankful for all the media I have taken for granted.  Its so nice turning on the radio when you are driving.  I miss flipping through the channels and allowing my mind to pitch whichever way the radio waves take me.  I enjoy reading as much as I enjoy TV and Movies so that is a little less painful.  Still, I would like to see how the Tigers are doing on the recruiting trail. I would love love to have easier access to facebook.  I miss keeping touch with everyone, reading updates, sending out little short comments on wall posts........ahh...... well......

Media is a blessing.  It really does get sweeter and sweeter with restraint and I suppose that is a good thing.  Eating all the cookies at once would just make you sick anyways, right?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 9 - Media - an interesting phenomenon

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon developing as I tell people about my fasts......people like to take exception with my exceptions.  Blogging for instance.  "Isn't that media?" Or reading....."That's media too!"  Why  do people feel the need to critique something that is solely based on what I've identified as my weaknesses and needs.  The crack addict says to the alcoholic, "I don't see how giving up alcohol is going to help you unless you quit smoking too."  ummm......wellll........ I don't really know how to answer those folks.

Sometimes I suspect it's the "bring everyone down to my level mentality".  Instead of just seeing the virtue in any given action we fixate on the negative.  I do it too.  Not trying to throw stones.  We all often question motives and methods a little excessively.

With the lack of media I'm trying to redirect streams of thought.  I am hoping energy, time, and creativity that have long wandered into deep and  unproductive channels might burst forth into new more productive outlets. More time with friends and family.  More time reading and pondering the worthwhile.  I suspect, though it may not be easy through the change, the view from the other side will be grand.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 8 - Media Fast

Strategic beginnings are important.  Starting a media fast at church camp where access is severely limited was a good move.  Didn't miss it much at all when I was there but now that I am home ........man it is difficult.  I've had a nagging ache to check sports and news, to turn on the radio, and pop in a movie.  Its tough and I am wondering if media is a bigger part of my life than I suspected.  My media impulses are so habitual I don't even notice myself reaching to click on the radio until the first few syllables echo out.......

I wonder if my bad habits and sin have become so ingrained that I don't even notice when I am engaged in these things as well.  Its so natural .......my response to my bad behavior is just that.... a response.  Its reactive not proactive.  I hope to take more initiative in battling sin in my life.  I will try to do this by filling my life with righteous people, activities, and thoughts.  I don't want to be on the defensive any longer.  Its time to get a little offensive.  lol.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 39 - Smell Fast

I had the willies all yesterday afternoon and most of this morning.  Early yesterday afternoon I had some folks from church helping me do some things at my house.  I was trying to grab one of those big manuel tree loppers.  They are the ones that have an extending pole, a saw on one side and a cutting mechanism for smaller branches on the other side.  This mechanism is attached to the end of a rope so you can cut limbs at a great distance.  Since I do so much in my yard I had purchased one of the nicer versions of this tool.  Mine had a chain/pulley system to get the maximum strength when pulling on the rope.



Whoever had previously borrowed it had put it up in the rafters of my shed.  It was wedged pretty good so I was twisting, pulling, and rotating anyway I could to get the thing out.  What I didn't notice in this process was my hand had wandered placing two of my fingers inside the cutting swath of the lopper.  What I also failed to notice was the rope had gotten tangled in the rafters, thus engaging the cutter as I pulled.

I had a brief moment, and it is very vivid to me because I debated it in my head, in which I thought about yanking it forcefully.  If I had, I would be either two fingers short or going through the healing process after having them surgically reattached.  Instead, I went with short and slow maneuvering.  This is when I discovered both my hand position and the rope situation as the blade pinned my fingers.  Another inch and they would have been gone..........Its still kind of freaking me out.

Anyways, it got me thinking about how permanent and long lasting that accident could have been.  It would not have been "fasting" from my right pointer and middle finger............it would have been the simple sad state of things......I started thinking how much easier it is to give something up for a time than to lose the ability or gift all together without any hope of getting it back again.  I have learned much from these fasting experiences the last 5 and a half months but I don't think I was any more thankful than I was yesterday afternoon choosing one course of action over another.  Was it luck?  Was it coincidence?  Could God have led me to the ......not necessarily wiser....but infinitely more beneficial course of action?  I believe He did.  Oh there was a three year old in the doorway bye the way.  Maybe God didn't spare me for my sake but for his.  If I'm a three year old I can't imagine anything much more traumatizing than bloody dismemberment.

Well, some near misses in life definitely bring perspective.  I am so thankful that I can give things up for a time if only to rejoice that it is only for a time.  My bodily imperfections, character flaws, and emotional injuries will all ultimately be made well.  They will be healed.

I will be at camp all next week.  I don't know if I will have much time to blog.  Starting the media fast bye the way.

No more TV.
No more movies.
No more radio.
No more facebook, fantasy baseball (I have complete faith in you Steven), tigerillustrated, foxnews, cnn, slickdeals.com, addictinggames or espn.

I am sooooooooo in love with these things so I am slightly dreading it while simultaneously getting excited.

How much more time will I have?  I can't imagine.

I am going to limit my computer time to email, my blog, and Rosetta stone.

We will see how it goes.

Hope you are all doing great!  Love you all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smell Fast - Day 37

Do you pass the smell test?  You remember the story in Genesis 27?  There were two brothers.  Jacob the younger and Esau the older (by a few seconds).  Esau is described as a man of the fields and was favored by his father.  Jacob was a man of the tents and favored by his mother.  In the culture and era that the story is set there were strict customs associated with the rights of the firstborn.  There was a birthright.  This basically meant the older son got twice as much of an inheritance as the other children.  Jacob had already stolen this primarily through Esau's weakness and stupidity.

Then we have this story of the blessing.  The patriarch (Isaac) of the family would traditionally bless his eldest son.  The "blessing"  may have been even more coveted than the birthright.  When Esau goes out to prepare for his great gift, Jacob and his mom conspire to trick Isaac (who is blind) into thinking Jacob is Esau.  They do this by putting animal skins on him and making him feel and smell like his brother.  Even though Isaac identified the voice with Jacob, his other two senses  informed him to the contrary.

What really does it for Isaac though is the scent.  When Jacob comes close enough for his dad to smell him he says,


“Ah, the smell of my son 
   is like the smell of a field 
   that the LORD has blessed. 

He then proceeds to bless Jacob thinking he is Esau!........Wait a second!  Isaac blesses the wrong son, right?   

I thought if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, and smells like a duck then its probably a duck.  But ...............that doesn't seem to apply here.

What we have to realize is that this was a part of God's plan.  It was his providence for Jacob and his descendants whom he would later adopt as his own.  Isaac may have wanted Esau blessed but God wanted Jacob.  

You ever heard the expression "You hear what you want to hear."?   Its no different for what we taste, touch, see or smell.  I imagine selective smelling is much like selective hearing.  God simply used the gifts he had given (senses) to produce the outcome he desired.  For us today, do we allow our noses to point us to God.  I imagine Wimpy in the old Popeye cartoon being transfixed by the smell of a hamburger.  His nose leads the way to what he would gladly pay Tuesday for Today.  

When this clip comes off I would like everything I breathe in to be a beacon to the Lord, drawing me ever closer to Him.  I would like to smell his goodness in creation.  To inhale the aroma of his love.  

I hope I can say, "Ah the smell of the Lord is like the smell of the earth (his creation), that he has blessed."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Smell Fast - Day 34

Coming down the home stretch.  My nose finally has gotten to the point where it isn't sore all the time.  Just 34 days to toughen me up.  lol.  I need to remember that for future reference.  Six days left!  Craziness.

I've been a little worried about my sandals.  When it gets hot outside and I start wearing them a lot, my feet get sweaty and my sandals get smelly.  I don't normally have stinky feet but these sandals....man.  Its pretty bad.  I take the Lysol and soak em down real well.  Its the only thing that makes em bearable.  Now that I can't smell I could be putting everyone around me in a world of hurt and not even know it.  I wonder how much my bad decisions are like this.  Do I cause everyone around me tons of discomfort with my sin?  Do I even realize what I do?

I was talking with my friend from church today who lost her sense of smell when she was little.  Her folks realized she couldn't smell anything when she was playing with her baby brother.  He had a dirty diaper, wreaked and she was oblivious.  Is ignorance bliss?  I guess it could be in some circumstances...but who wants to be playing around fecal matter whether you can smell it or not......not me!

See, all the lysol or febreeze in the world doesn't take away the bad smell.  It just covers it up.  Lots of us have an incredible ability to perfume up without cleaning up, don't we?  You ever know anyone like this?  Externally, everything is fine.  Internally they stink to high heaven?  That's what's so great about our Lord.  He cleanses us from the inside out.  I've heard that English kings and Queens rarely bathed.  Instead they often preferred to lather up with layer upon layer of cologne.  Can you imagine the grime?  Why would we want to do this spriritually?  Taking the easy way out.  Its like using mouthwash all the time without brushing your teeth.  If I'm going to get cleaned up I want it done right.  It may require a little scrubbing and elbow grease but the end result...the cleansing is sublime.

Well, hope everyone is doing all right.  Try to stay out of mischief.  Watching the outsiders and can't keep my mind on what I'm doing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Smell Fast - Day 31

Have you ever heard the phrase, "If you struggle, it will only be worse."  Those were the dreaded words I remember hearing as a Jr. Camper when some unnamed senior informed me of an imminent wedgie.   I think its funny now to say to one of our teens when I'm ruffing them up.  The point is ......its a surprisingly true statement that can be applied to a thousand situations of life.  Shots don't hurt nearly as bad when we don't tense up.  The ulcers don't form when we don't worry about the stressful situation.  There are simply some things we should learn to accept and not struggle against for our own good.  But we can't.  I can't just not scratch the mosquito bite.

Right now, I have an impulse to breathe through my nose.  I twitch my nose, wiggle it, scratch it.  I do anything I can to gain the tiniest air access.  The tiny bit of success I do achieve, however, brings little relief.  All this nose movement makes my nose more and more sore.  And still I do it.

There is a sin parallel to be found here.  Most of us know the end result of sin.  Death, regret, dejection, depression.  Of course there is momentary pleasure but its a pleasure that can never be satiated.  Its a pleasure without peace.  And yet we seek this pleasure still......

I try to resist the nose twitching like I resist the temptations of life.  Without much success, when my focus is on what not to do......with great success, when my focus is centered elsewhere.......especially on the goal, my prize, my Lord.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Smell Fast - Day 30

Yesterday, I was shaving and cut my nose.  Guys, you know what I am talking about.  The problem was that with my clip it kept squeezing the blood out and making my little nick seem like a gusher.

Yesterday, I also had to say goodbye to "Smokey", one of three little kittens we found orphaned underneath the church building.  He was so cute.  He had light grey fur, with black ears and blue eyes. Although feral, when I held him he would snuggle in my hand and shake nervously and purr.   I kept wondering what it would be like for him never having been held before.  He would hiss when at a distance....naturally right?  Strange things are scary.  Then when he discovered that strange didn't automatically equate to bad he warmed up to me a bit.  I'm sure he smelled horrible.  I had to keep him in a cage for a couple days by the back door because the animal shelter was closed.  He must have pooped a bunch.  He also turned over the milk a couple times and got it all over himself.  It had to be nasty....but he was still cute....and because I couldn't smell him I still enjoyed holding him.

I wonder if that is how God sees us.  We stink much worse than Smokey.  My selfishness, lust, and pride undoubtedly produce a wretched stench yet God just pinches his nose and loves on me anyways.

I didn't keep Smokey, because I didn't want to take care of him...the time....expense.....inconvenience.  I gave a donation for someone else to adopt him not wanting the responsibility myself.  Man, I'm glad God doesn't do that.  I am so thankful that he loves me enough to personally take care of my needs.  To provide a safe environment, feed me, and pour out his affectionate love on me.  I keep spilling the milk and he keeps cleaning me up.  

My nose hurts.