31 January 2012

The Finish Line

Here we are.  One year later.  Super Bowl, Super Week.  I’ve almost made it through one year without T.V.  The blog has been, well . . . let’s just say inconsistent.  The blog was never the purpose, anyways.  It has always been getting away from something that I believed was influencing my heart in a negative way.

The question now arises, “Was T.V. having a negative impact on my heart?”  Yes, I believe it was.  Yes because I was dwelling on things that were not true,  honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praise worthy (Philippians 4:8).  My heart and mind were not only bombarded, but focused on the content I allowed to pour into it.  My body and soul was at war with itself.  I would start my mornings with the Word of God and end my days with the lies of this world.  I was giving the enemy, God’s enemy, permission to build an Army base in the sovereign territory of my heart.  Another way to look at it is this: It’s like I borrowed money against God’s dwelling place (my heart) to remodel a room for the lies of Satan to move in.  Trust me - those two are not good roommates.

Now what?  What will I do with T.V. now?  I’m not sure.  I will watch the Super Bowl this Sunday and I’m excited about that.  After that, who knows.  At this point we are not planning on getting our cable turned back on.  Right now I enjoy the fellowship I have with God.  It seems uncluttered and purer than it was a year ago.  Why would I want to jeopardize that?  I seem to be more sensitive to the moving of the Spirit and less concerned with myself.  In the end that’s a good thing.  My biggest fear is that I’ll treat this like I treat my diets - I’ll do a great job and then binge and end up right back where I was or worse.

No matter what, I know the Grace of God is more than enough to sustain me and forgive me.  After all, it has been God’s Grace that has enabled me to go a year without something I love and enjoy.  It was God’s grace that was there when I was bored or lonely and it was His grace that was there when the Vols opened there 2011 season and I didn’t watch.  It’s His grace that has made this entire experience one of joy not want;  learning not legalism;  and liberating rather than restrictive.  More than anything else, it is a growing (but still feeble) understanding of the grace of God that I have gained over the past year.  And I’m grateful for that.  I don’t believe that is a result of no T.V. - that wouldn’t be grace.  Rather it is just God being God and giving a good gift to his son.

So, praise God for His grace and for offering it to all who would believe in the name of His Son, Jesus!  Praise God for offering a very special year for me to get to know Him a little better!  It was more than worth it.

Until the Super Bowl,
What are you watching?

11 August 2011

Nothing worth watching . . .

You can read the article for yourself here, but in a nutshell the Supreme Court may rule on whether or not the FCC's indecency policy is "unconstitutionally vague".  According to some watch groups a ruling like this would open the floodgates for foul language and nudity on network television, no matter what time of the day it is.  That remains to be seen, but I am sure that a lack of constraint would eventually lead to a lack of responsibility on the part of the major networks, not that they have any now.  It certainly wouldn't happen all at once.

That's the way networks operate.  Little by little.  Take your favorite TV show - one you have watched for years.  I'll use Fox's House as an example.  I used to LOVE IT!  It was witty, suspenseful, original.  I couldn't get enough.  Christy and I watched it religiously for several years.  Now, I'm not saying it was ever the most wholesome family show, but next to most it wasn't bad.

I will never forget the time I finally convinced my parents and sisters to sit down and watch it with us.  We bragged about how great the show was and how it wasn't really that bad.  Well that was the episode where it got bad.  There were several scenes set in strip clubs, lots of drinking and vulgar language.  I was so embarrassed and so disappointed.  I felt a sense of loss.  Was I ever going to be able to watch my favorite show again?

They pulled back the reigns on the next few episodes.  But I noticed a trend; almost a formula.  The writers slowly started adding questionable content.  Every few weeks it would push the envelope a little further.  I also noticed that we were either so hooked on the show or becoming so desensitized that we kept on watching beyond where we should have drawn the line.  Eventually we did quit the show.

It isn't just House where I noticed this phenomenon.  The Office, Community, American Idol, Glee, 24, NFL Football and The Mentalist are all shows in which I noticed the same trend.  I do not believe this is by accident.  I believe this is how Hollywood and TV have operated for years and will continue to operate.  A ruling against the constitutionality of the FCC's indecency policy will speed things up for sure, but rest assured it's a direction we were heading in already.

By the way - you read right - I included the NFL in that list, and I'm not just talking about wardrobe malfunctions.  I'm talking about the clothing or should I say lack of clothing on the cheerleaders that is cause for most men to lust (which is adultery according to Jesus) to the Go Daddy and Victoria Secret commercials they show during their games.  The NFL is pushing the envelope any way they can, too.

Makes me think this TV fast may last a little longer than I planned.  It may take on a different form than it has now, but it could be here for the long haul.

Until next time what are you watching?

08 August 2011

Total Fail?

Alright I admit it.  This blog has been a FAIL.  I had high hopes of literary greatness as I documented my year without T.V., but alas those dreams have been shattered by my lack of creativity and discipline.  I don’t want to bore anyone (least of all myself) by posting pointless articles that simply repeat the same thing week after week.

I had lots of ideas for blog content when I set out to do this.  I had so many ideas that I was worried this could consume too much of my time.  You know what happened?  I didn’t write down a single idea.  FAIL.  As a result of this little misstep, I have learned to jot notes to myself the instant I have a thought or idea.

For those of you who actually care - I still have not watched T.V.  And as I type this I am just past the half way point of my goal of the Super Bowl on February 5 (181 days to go).  It has not been a real struggle except for last week when I was sick in stuck inside for 5 days. 

Now that football season is upon us, however, I can sense that it will become very difficult in the weeks to come.  The NFL lockout is over and sports talk radio is all a buzz with football chatter, which gives me the desire to watch football.  In fact, sports radio has made me want to watch football bad enough at the end of this month, that the thought has crossed my mind to give it up as well (at least for a short time).

I have a problem with this, though.  It feels like I am becoming pharisaical once I go down that road - legalistic - building one rule on top of another in order to protect myself from breaking a prior rule.  Therein lies one of my hesitations in doing this experiment in the first place - I don’t want to be judgmental or legalistic.  So, there is a fine line I must walk.  Maybe I’ll actually be diligent enough to let you know how my walk goes.

One question for you:  Have you built your own legalistic set of rules to live by?  In so doing you may be discounting the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.  Let’s make sure we are not trying to reach God by our good works, let us rather, praise God that HE pursues us despite our short comings!

01 May 2011

Getting Hard This Week . . .

Seriously . . .it’s a Monkey on a Dog!
Even though I have been too busy for my own good the past couple of weeks, It has been increasingly hard to stay away from the television.  While I am not a huge NBA fan, I do like the playoffs, which are underway right now.  Ever since David Robinson was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, I have been a die hard fan.  He is a Christian athlete that I looked up to as a kid and my allegiance for him grew into a love for his team that I have had my whole life.  My home town is Memphis, though.  And since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001, they have been my team, with the Spurs a close 2nd.

The problem is that they are both in the Western conference.  This year the #1 seeded Spurs were up against the #8 seeded Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.  The Grizzlies took the first game on the road and that’s when it got tough for me.  I knew that something special was happening and I was going to miss it!  And I did!  In game six, at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, the Grizzlies made history, becoming only the 2nd 8th seed in NBA to beat a 1st seed in the playoffs.

I missed it!  By the Commercial Appeal’s, Geoff Calkins’ description, Friday night’s scene at the Forum was quintessentially Memphis:  "Friday night was all you needed to see. Friday night was this team, wrapped in one night. What exactly didn’t happen Friday at FedEx Forum?
Jerry Lawler made a second appearance. He pulled his strap down for all the country to see. There was a monkey riding on a border collie at one point, for no obvious reason.  The crowd was bonkers. But nervous, too.”  
There you go.  Memphis.  Redneck trying to be uptown.  Losers trying to be winners.  Little city trying to be big city.  It’s the city I love, and I missed it!  Oh, well.  Now to agonize through second hand accounts of their next series verses the Thunder.
Oh, and by the way, the NFL draft happened this past weekend, too.  I heard the Titan’s drafted Jake Locker.  
All of my difficulty with this just reminds me of how important TV and sports had become in my life and why I am doing all of this anyways.  Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of our weaknesses, even in painful ways.  C.S. Lewis said, "Unless Christianity is wholly false, the perception of ourselves which we have in moments of shame must be the only true one.”  I think that remembering our past weaknesses (or acknowledging our current ones) helps accomplish these moments of clarity.
Until next time, what are you watching?

26 April 2011

T.V. Withdraw: Monkey see, Monkey do . . .

T.V. Withdraw: Monkey see, Monkey do . . .: "I read a tweet by Dr. Jim Burns, President of HomeWord at Azusa Pacific University, the other day. He asked, 'What are your own media choic..."

Monkey see, Monkey do . . .

I read a tweet by Dr. Jim Burns, President of HomeWord at Azusa Pacific University, the other day.  He asked, "What are your own media choices teaching your children?"  That got me to thinking about what I have taught my children over the years through my TV habits.  Here is a quick list from 10 to 1 (pre tv fast): 

10:     There are very few things in life as important as your favorite show.
 9:      If it's on TV, it's okay to watch.  No matter what you believe.
 8:      If it's funny on TV, it's funny in real life.
 7:      If it's okay to say on TV, it's okay to say in real life.
 6:      No matter what is on, or what is happening around you, it's always a good time to watch TV.
 5:      The best thing to talk about with others is what you saw on TV the night before.
 4:      All other forms of information and/or entertainment are inferior to TV
 3:      Problems are all solved in 30-60 minutes, each with a happy ending.
 2:      You have to be skinny and beautiful and wealthy to matter.
 1:      Beer commercials are the funniest things in life.

Umm.  This list is depressing.  Worst than that, I believe if you were all really honest, you would have to admit to at least a few of these things being true in your own life.  It doesn't stop with TV.  Think about the music you listen to, the movies you watch, the books you read, etc.  We teach our children so much more by what we do rather than what we say.

Proverbs 17:6 says, "Children’s children are a crown to the aged, 
   and parents are the pride of their children."

I don't know about you, but I want to be the pride of my children for all the right reasons, and not any of the wrong ones.  

Until next time what are you watching?

09 April 2011

I Was Just Thinking . . .

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written a new post.  Bottom line:  that productivity thing I talked about last time has a mind of it's own.  We have been non-stop.  I have realized, however, that I don't have to write a feature length article every time I post.  Whew!  I'm going to try to be more consistent, but the length will be a little less (I can hear the applause from all four of you who actually read this).

At the end of my last post I mentioned how not watching TV affected my thoughts.  I suppose I always knew that whatever we filled our mind with would somehow work its way into our everyday lives.  For example that song that gets stuck in your head and the book you're reading that you have to recommend.

Sitcoms and movies are like this, too.  Have you ever noticed how the kind of comedy we see on a screen tends to determine what we think is funny in real life?  If you're like me, you have quoted movies or shows that you think are funny in your everyday.  In fact, I see teenagers (especially guys) do this all the time.  How many of these "jokes" are edifying.  Most are raunchy or degrading or negative or all of the above.  Even if we don't repeat them, we think about them and giggle to ourselves.  At least, this describes what I have experienced personally.

This brings two verses to mind.  The first is Ephesians 5:4, "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving."  It is much easier to obey this when I am not feeding my heart and mind with filth and crude joking.

The second is Matthew 12:34,  "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."  Our heart is filled with whatever we choose to fill it with.  Since I have stopped watching TV, I noticed that my heart is filled more with the things of God.  I don't read the Bible all night long, but I do read it more.  I read a lot of articles about theology and Christian perspective.  My christian walk has grown so much more since February.  I think it's because I am able to wrestle with the Bible and meditate on it. Most importantly, there is very little with which the Holy Spirit has to contend, so I hear God more clearly.

Hopefully it won't be a month until I write again, but until I do, What are you watchin'?