Posted 21/1/09

As noted at the end of the prior blog, last week was an interesting one. I described it to a church friend last week as ‘detox’. She assumed this to mean I was taking time off from Bible study and the like. When I told her I was actually endeavouring to do the opposite she enquired as to whether I then meant ‘retox’. It’s true, but if I’m perfectly honest I was actually trying to detox myself  – from sinful patterns that I felt I’d become trapped by in December. As it is, I knew the only way of this realistically happening was by setting my mind on godly things as recommended in 1 Corinthians. I have been setting about this in a pretty literal way, filling my time (probably at the detriment of work, tbh, but that isn’t a long term approach) with pre-school quiet times, MP3 sermons on the journey to school, subscriptions to a host of blogs from leading evangelicals, writing this, re-engaging in debate with various atheist sites (a risky endeavour given the extent to which it disheartened me last year – a post to follow on that), reading Tim Keller and throwing myself into the organisation of the aforementioned lads’ weekend away. I know these things can’t become idols in themselves; I know they don’t transform in themselves (quiet times excluded – given their content of God’s word and prayer) and I know this is unsustainable. However – I believe my reasoning is relatively sound, as is my ‘detox’ terminology.

The fact is, we are ‘what we eat’. Having consumed little but junk of late, through my eyes and ears as well as through my mouth over Christmas, much of my output has been similarly rubbish. Whatever the pitfalls of an over-the-top compensatory response, reading about Jesus, thinking about Jesus, talking to others about Jesus and hoining my apologetics is far more healthy a way to spend time. Similarly, I did need to purge myself of various things, with the Spirit’s help. I needed to break the patterns of spending my time thinking and worrying about unhelpful things, and thus feeling more like a slave of sin than of righteousness. I don’t suggest that I am endeavouring to do so by works – but the grace that allows repentance calls too for a practical response in ourselves.

The time when I am least obviously sin-afflicted (don’t worry, I’m well aware it’s still very much there – usually in the form of swelling pride) is when I help lead a kids’ Christian camp in the summer. It would not occur to me on such a week to swear, to bitch, to fixate upon ugly sexual preoccupations, to drink to excess etc etc. Now I have thought about why this is so – it’s not an automatic process based on the inherent godliness of ‘doing a Christian camp’. Nor is it a front and a facade. My conclusions are that the following conditions there exist: 1. No idle time. There is no busier time in the year. Every second and more are accounted for. There’s no time for doing anything untoward!! 2. No ungodly stimulus. It is the only week of the year devoid of television, magazines, billboards, non-Christian company, the internet and everything else sexualised and materialistic that we take for granted. 3. Preoccupation with godly things.  Every spare moment on camp is spent praying, writing talks, planning Bible studies etc etc. There is little time for anything else. I am well aware, honestly, that watching movies, drinking beer and playing sport with non-Christian friends can also be ‘godly things’. However, for these purposes it is worth noting that the Bible, on camp, is rarely closed. And that’s a good thing. So I guess I’m wondering, whilst remaining in the world, how best to apply these lessons to an everyday life. And… to be honest I’m not sure I have the answers yet.

But this I do know – last week felt a LOT better than those that preceded it. It is amazing how quickly you can become conversational and useful in terms of arguing biblically and engaging in relevant issues – particularly given how unlikely such concepts felt immediately beforehand. If there is any value in such an upbeat posting (the more laceratingly self-immolating I am, the more thanks I usually receive!), let it be that this is the effect of but a few days – God is generous in allowing us to grow. No-one in God’s family is ever rubbish enough to need give up on themselves entirely…


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