Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Goodbye, Internet! Hello, Lent!

As many of you know, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the often-neglected season of Lent in which Christians spiritually prepare for the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. Usually, this preparation is symbolized by "giving up something" for the forty days and nights that make up Lent.

This year, I've decided that the Internet, when used for purposes other than scholarship and direct communication, has been somewhat distracting in my relationship with Christ. So, though I'm sure this may upset some readers, I'm deciding to give it up for forty days starting tomorrow. Yep. That means no blogging, no online debates, no Facebook, no AIM, nothing. The only thing I'm going to use the Internet for is e-mail.

Oh... and watching episodes of the new season of Survivor on YouTube. I would watch them when they air on Thursday nights if I could, but my Campus Crusade meetings are at the same time, so...

So, what will I be doing instead?

Well, I will mainly be taking more time to read my Bible. It's great to hear other people's opinions on Scripture through the blogs and through online sermons and such, but I haven't even read through it myself, and I need to fix that. I'll also be trying to make my social life more active. Online communication is great, and I've made lots of great contacts with really cool people, but I think I need to focus on my real-life friends. They're the ones that I can be a more effective witness to, and who, in turn, know me well enough to be great accountability partners and spiritual guides.

I realized if I didn't have the Internet, then I really wouldn't have too many friends... and that wasn't exactly a good thing. I'm not going to try to make a ton of really deep, personal friends in the next forty days, but making a few couldn't hurt. And without the Internet around, I might have more time to hang out, go shopping, play tennis, swim, watch movies, work out, read books, write in my novel, play Guitar Hero, volunteer, etc. Simply put, it's been a little hard living a life for Christ when I've been spending so much of my time in a virtual world (great though all you folks in here are).

Now, I won't be out of touch completely. I would love to get e-mails from all of you guys telling me how you're doing or what's on your mind, and I'll try to respond to them as much as I can. I almost wish I could correspond with all of you people in pen and ink like people in Victorian England used to, but alas... the Internet will just have to do.

Other than that, I hope you all have a great Lent. I still get comments via e-mail notifications, so tell me what you think of my Lent plan, and also let me know what you're planning on giving up (if anything). I can't say I'll comment back, but I'll definitely read. God bless you all!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

New Beginnings

I'm not sure if I've written about this before or not, but I love new beginnings. Doesn't matter if it's a new day, new month, new week, or new year. I just love the feeling of starting over, even though it's mostly an illusion. Life is a continuum, not a chapter book, but the latter is how I treat it a lot of the time.

I suppose I simply like the idea of having life all neat and tidy and in clear-cut stages. I have a tendency to live my life like it's a chapter book. I'll be on a spiritual high where I'm feeling good and am relatively pure, then I'll have a moment of weakness and sin in a "major" way that will make me sulk around for a few days or weeks while I doubt my own salvation and whether or not God has really worked any transformation in my life. Then some new week or month will roll around and I'll perk up, and the whole cycle will start over again.

Now, I know that the Christian life has spiritual ups and downs. C.S. Lewis wrote extensively on this in "The Screwtape Letters." However, I feel that my spiritual ups and downs are too frequent and too extreme. Compared to what, you might ask? Good question. I really don't know. My mind says "other Christians" but, to tell the truth, it's not like other Christians would really be able to tell if I was on a spiritual low. It's really a personal thing, and from all sources I've read it's relatively normal to experience. How a Christian deals with it, I gather, is the important part. Frankly, I don't know how.

I just don't like the lows. I enjoy and am at the most wonderful state of peace and strength when I am on a spiritual high -- when I'm connected to God, overcoming temptations easily, praying like I've never prayed before, and truly desiring to be deep in God's Word. When the lows hit, though, it can be devastating. I become truly desperate for God and the slightest glimmer of evidence that He's working in my life. You've probably seen the cycle play out in this blog several times before.

Right now I'm entering a new month with "new" resolve to be pure and obedient to Christ. Hopefully it will last, and even more hopefully I'll be able to reflect on the experience in a way that is Christ-centered instead of self-centered.

Of course, I'm not the only person who likes new starts. Trendy female singer-songwriters like them too, and of course, knowing me, I have a song and a YouTube video for every occasion. Enjoy Yael Naim and the song "New Soul," from the most recent MacBook commercials.