Am I a Slave to the World or the Word of God?

Things have to change.  I have to make some significant changes in my life.  I cannot continue to live the way I am living.  If I do not make some serious changes in my life, I will most likely suffocate.  I am talking about how much I am a slave to the world and not to the Word of God or worship.  This post is about making some changes in my life and some reasons to why I need to make them.  I hope it might convey a passion to evaluate the things of this world we have become a slave to and a yearning to do something about it.  I am fed up with myself.  I cannot take it anymore.

If I were to guess how long I spend wasting time on the Internet, I would probably say in a given day, it would be close to four hours.  I never realized how much time I have wasted reading people’s posts and watching YouTube videos.  There is nothing inherently wrong with reading blogs or watching a good YouTube video or reading someone’s blog.  When we consume our lives with a pseudo world that only exists over the Internet, we become disengaged from the world around us.  We seek our self-esteem from all the people who send us emails or how many people read my blog rather than our neighbors and our communities who are hurting.  When we take the time to close our computers down and actively do something else, we become more apart of our community.  We can become social to our families, and the world around us.

Therefore, I have decided as of tonight, outside of meaningful uses of Internet activity (homework and the use of study tools), I will spend no more than 90 minutes a day surfing the Internet.  To me, there is a lot of trash on the Internet anyway.  None of it is aiding in my personal growth in the Lord.  It is just stupid entertainment that consumes time in which I can spend with others or in the Word of God.  I believe this is probably one of the most counter cultural decisions I can make for myself.  I know I will be blessed with the free time.  If I cannot find what I am looking for in 90 minutes, I am sure I do not need it.  Seriously though, it is time to pull the plug on the computer and allow it to sleep.  I am sure I am not the only one.

I will also designate one day where I will not respond or even open my computer each week.  I will ultimately take a Sabbath from my Internet usage and spend that time in prayer, reading the Word, or with my family. I am going to choose Friday as my Sabbath day.  The significance of that day being that it follows the OT command of the Sabbath and I work most every Saturday from 10 AM – 11PM.  It will be one full 24-hour period of rest from the wide world web.  It will be like a mini vacation from the virtual arena.

Another area I am changing is my money spending.  When I look at how much I have bought over this past month, and how much money I have wasted, I have come to realize that I am fitting more and more into the materialistic mindset.  It is a simple mindset most of us fall into but would never admit to unless we were confronted with it.  We buy things because we like things.  When we are tired of the things we have, we put them on a shelf never to use or need the thing we had bought and we search for a new thing in order to consume.  It continues until we have so much crap, we feel claustrophobic by the stuff we “just had to have.”  We become stressed and pull our hair out.

Therefore, I have decided that I will not just spend money without considering a few questions:  Do I really need this thing that I am looking at to buy?  Will this thing ultimately bring me closer in my relationship to God and be beneficial for me?  Will life go on without it if I do not buy it?  Do I already have something like it?  Am I just consuming stuff to clog up my life or is it something I really could use?

There are a lot of questions we should ask ourselves before we run up to the register with our credit cards in hand.  Sometimes we are so quick to “put it on our tab,” we end up with something we neither need or actually wanted.  This can include the amount of clothes we have, the amount of CD’s we buy, and the amount of DVD’s we own.  We seriously have more crap than we know what to do with.  Maybe we can simplify our lives if we gave away half of what we have.  Less clutter means less stress, which means better sleep, and less worries.  Not a bad idea eh?

Money spending for me also includes how much I dine out and how much I buy snacks.  I love coffee.  I also love Planet Smoothie.  The only problem is that I seem to find places like that way too often.  I end up paying a ton of money on that stuff throughout the week.  Therefore, I have decided that I will go out to eat only once a week (if that) and only treat myself to snacks that are both healthy and more affordable.  I do not need the largest cup from the local store.  I do not need 3 hamburgers from Wendy’s.  That is gluttony and I do not need it.  I need more of the Word of God in my life.  I need to learn the discipline of fasting more so that I can learn self-control.  I need to drink more water than soda and I need to eat more fruit than constantly consuming the junk food I normally consume throughout the week.  I need to treat my body with a little more respect so that I will be healthier and more active in my life.

Thirdly, I will take one month every six months and not spend any clothes, accessories, books, CDs or other things I normally would buy.  This will be a fast from spending money.  I will also take 7 days and fast from food all together.  I believe if I can make it through a 7 day fast, I can show myself and God I am able to have self-control in my life.  It is so important to me that I make these changes in my life.  I know that I will be blessed in doing these things.

Finally, we have to replace all of this time and effort with something else.   I have a few selections and ideas I have been given by others that I hope to adopt in my personal life.

1.    I have bought Phyllis Tickle’s book, “Divine Hours.”  In the morning and evening, I want to invest in going through the Divine hours.  I want to build my waking up and my going to bed around the Word of God and contemplation.  I no longer want to wake up because I have to go to work or because I have a class.  I want my purpose for waking and for resting to be the Word of God.  I want everything else around it to fit into that equation.  I know it will be a challenge for me to maintain my journey in it, but I will nonetheless strive to make it effective and valuable.  During the mid-day hours (for me that is usually after 5:00 during the week and sometime between 1:30-4:00 on Saturday and Sunday, either read a Psalm, a chapter in the Bible (through the whole book), or spend that time in prayer.  For me, Saturday will be the hardest day to make that work out.  We do not have “breaks” like normal places of employment.  There are times throughout the day though that I can sneak away from the busyness of the restaurant and find a quiet place to pray for 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there.  I will attempt to spend 15 minutes in prayer throughout my mid-day and read a chapter from the Word from a pocket Bible I can keep in my pocket.  If it means I have to make an excuse to use the rest room, I will do so.  The Word of God is far more important than anything else – at least it is supposed to be.

2.    I will also keep to the very best of my ability all the things I have laid out in the above paragraphs.  It will not be easy to make these changes but, as I said, I need to make them.  It is that serious.

Why is it so serious?  Romans 12: 1-2 say, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Another translation puts it this way: So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

So, that ultimately is the reason why I need to make these changes.  I cannot allow the patterns or rhythms of this world to dictate who I am in Christ. This verse calls you and I to live a counter cultural lifestyle we oftentimes run away from.  It seems too hard or too difficult to walk.  The journey seems so boring and dull.  It isn’t though.  Our journey can begin with Christ as our purpose for waking up and our reason for resting.  You and I have to make a choice in what we will be enslaved to.  It will either be Christ or it will be the World.  There are no other options.  I am choosing option A.  I want to know the will of God for my life.  I want to know what his good, pleasing and perfect will is for me.  I want to know what He is doing in the context of where I live and within my life.  I want to know how I can be apart of what God is doing there.  And I want there to be no hindrances from my end to serve God effectively.  It is worth it.  Please keep me in prayer because I know I will need it.  I am sure Satan is not happy about these changes.  I hope I have excited or planted a seed of passion in someone else through reading this.  Thanks Todd for asking hard questions and making me think.  As I wrote on Todd’s site, “I am an unfinished painting to be completed by the Master Artist.  I hope one day to be put on display for all to see.”  That is my prayer and I hope it is yours.  And, with that, I will say good night.  God bless.  See you Saturday

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