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A 40-Day Lenten Fast of All Forms of Entertainment

By: Jim McKenzie

“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.  You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.”  —Hebrews 5:12 – 6:3 (NLT)

Lent is a season when Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting to grow closer to God.  It is a time to repent and to direct our lives to be more like Jesus.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.  Ash Wednesday is a contemplative start to the season of Lent, where we are reminded that we go from ashes to ashes and dust to dust (Genesis 3:19) and are to be mindful of our fragility and mortality.  As James writes, our life “is but a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”  Life apart from Christ lacks meaning and purpose.  The ashen cross that some Christians will have placed upon their foreheads on this day serves as a bold reminder that though this life is temporal, through the work of the cross, we can have eternal life.

Lent is also marked by a 40-day fast in remembrance of the time that Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness.  After being baptized in the Jordan River, the sky opened, and a voice from heaven declared, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased.”  After being affirmed by His Father, the bible tells us that Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness.  There he fasted (didn’t eat) for 40 days.  During that time, Satan appeared three times, each visit tempting Jesus to exalt Himself above God.  Each time, Jesus responded with Scripture to overcome the evil one.  At the end of the 40 days, the Bible tells us that He returned “in the power of the spirit.”  He then began his three-year ministry that would eventually lead Him to the cross.  Before He began his great work teaching and performing miracles, Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness to fast.  In the end, he returned in the power of the spirit.

I believe that our school community is being led by the spirit to fast this Lenten season.  And I believe that those who will faithfully commit to the fast, that when it is over, will be walking in the power of the spirit.

A traditional fast during Lent involved not eating Monday through Saturday, then enjoying a feast on Sunday, a sort-of mini-Easter celebration each week leading up to Easter Sunday.

I believe that God is calling our school to fast that which we consume the most and that which distracts us most from God and His Word and His leading – our entertainment.

In chapel this week, I invited our students to join together as a school community and fast all forms of entertainment for the 40 days of Lent, including:

  • TV & Movies (Netflix, Youtube, etc.)
  • Gaming (Xbox, Playstation, iPad games, gaming devices, etc.)
  • Social Media & the Web (Facebook, Snapchat, surfing the web, etc.)
  • Music (all forms, including Christian pop – JoyFM, The Pulse – except worship music)
  • Texting & Chatting (iMessage, FaceTime, Skype, etc.)
    (The internet & texting are okay for function – communicating with parents, doing school work, etc.)

Scripture refers to God’s voice a “still small voice.”  This fast is a time to turn off the other voices in our lives so that we can hear what the Spirit is saying.

The day before Lent is called Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday.”  Mardi Gras was never intended to be an excuse for sinful indulgence.  It originally was the day before the fast when families would eat all the sweets in the house so they wouldn’t be a temptation during the fast.  They would also cook and eat the food that would spoil during the fast.  Fat Tuesday was essentially a feast before the fast.

For us, Mardi Gras is also time to remove distractions and temptations.  Watch that movie or finish that TV series on Netflix.  Delete social media apps off your phones.  Unplug the radio and download some worship songs.  Make a public announcement on your social media channels that you’re taking a break.  Give gaming devices to your parents or disconnect them and put them in a closet.  Get a printed Bible that you can read so you can avoid the distractions of reading it on your phone or iPad.

Research tells us that they way we move forward in our faith, regardless of what stage of our journey we are on, is to read and reflect on Scripture.  Paul wrote to Timothy, a young man called to ministry, to offer advice to help him in his faith journey, and he said this, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

It is my prayer that our school community will turn off their entertainment channels and dive into God’s Word in a fresh new way, that they may “move forward to further understanding” and be “equipped to do every good work.”

Join us on the journey!

Note: Each day of Lent, we’ll be posting a Scripture passage and a worship song suggestion on our Schoology platform.  We invite you to read, share, comment, and engage with us daily as we celebrate this season together as a school community.