My last blog kind of inspired me to do this – a simple blog about my day. But this blog has been in the works now as far back as January 11th. In fact on January 11th, I started a whole-being detox. This detox consisted of detoxing my body, mainly from all the junk-intake through the holidays. I cut out all meats, all dairy, and sugars. I even changed my exercise routines – I got off of weights and did nothing but cardio (low and high impact) and natural resistance training – push-ups, pull-ups, etc, etc. I started this portion weighing 210 pounds, my finishing weight was 196.
As far as my mind, I restricted my T.V./Movie watching a lot, mainly just watched sports and news, I began to ask myself questions like, “If I consider this sin, and wouldn’t do it myself, why in God’s green earth would I think it was okay to entertain myself with it?”. For reading I concentrated on Crazy Love, school reading, and a high volume of scripture. For memorization and meditation, I focused on passages that call me to a higher level of holiness and obedience. If I could sum up this portion, it would be the pursuit of personal holiness, becoming ‘sober minded.’
My hope in all this was to empty myself (mind, body, and soul) of junk that would make for an unhealthy being. I officially finished my Detox stage on February 14th when I crossed the finish line at the Austin Half Marathon. My detox journey looked like the following:
Week 1: 1 Peter 2:21-25 – “…entrusted himself to the one who judges justly…”
- 11th – It was my first day back from up north. I wasn’t too successful in getting up at 5:30, but I got up in a enough time to read and think about Acts 7. Spent time concentrating on 1 Peter 2:21-25. Read first chapter in Crazy Love. Started the cleanse and flax seed oil with omega 3. Felt Hungry all day. Did a very slow 5 mile run, first day training with the Polar…overall feel pretty good for starting everything today. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.
- 12th – It was my 2nd day. I started the day asking God, “What do you want to rid me of?” He quickly responded by allowing to circumstances in my life prove two things: Pride & Lack of Trust in Him. I guess when you are asking God to detox your soul, He doesn’t play around and He doesn’t waste your time making you feel like cute, sweet, nice person, but he shows you the addiction to self that is in you, at least he did for me. Another thing he did…let me back track. I started training with a Polar Watch (the science of training). In a nutshell, my watch was telling me something I didn’t realize – in my runs, I had been running too fast, sure I was learning distance, and for someone my size, the time wasn’t horrible…but my heart monitor was telling me, “you’re running too fast, you’re doing a lot of work that is resulting very little in your life…” It was like God was speaking to me through that dang watch…Slow down, and make it count! Anyway, I continued to focus on 1 Peter 2:21-25 and study Acts 7.
- 13th – Today started good. Really opened my heart up in repentance asking God to not just make the pride and lack of trust go away, but to literally up-root it, no matter how much it hurts, yank it out by the roots! Finished Chapter 2 in Crazy Love – right now, there may not be a more appropriate book for me – WoW! Slowly prayed through 1 Peter 2:21-25, and thought about how much I truly want to believe what it says, but how often my life does not prove that I really believe it – My prayer is that this verse is not simply memorized, but becomes my reality! On another note, had a good little 40 minute work out…I really can’t help to believe that God is using this whole heart rate training as a parable for my life…slow down – but how?
- 14th – Had no desire to get up today – I know I am supposed to just love and desire time with Christ, but not today. Today I wanted to stay warm under my covers, listen to the rain until I feel back to sleeps. Sometimes my own life is often too real of a reminder that God’s election of us has NOTHING to do with merit. Anyway, this morning I focused again on 1 Peter 2:21-25. It has been interesting and amazing to get this text into my mind and soul. Pray it over my children. Learn it & pray it as something I would love to see become a realized reality in my life. I finished chapter 3 today in Crazy love. My thought today: The hardest thing in life to believe is that the all knowing, creator of the universe God unconditionally loves me – period. Why do I rush? Why? I think it is time for me to begin to treat life like the French treat food. For me that is a good thought. I’m not sure where and how to do that, because though I just typed that, it will be 10:30pm before I know it, and I will have physically/emotionally/mentally been on the move the whole time.
- 15th – rough day – actually should have been good. I would think when God begins to reveal to you the junk inside of you in order to detox, you would think you would be thrilled, but not so much. In fact it has been very hard not to be depressed, it’s almost as if the spotlight on my sin is so bright, it is overwhelming! God has allowed me to see the how thick and constant envy, pride, criticism, wrong value placement, and lack of faith are in my life. He has allowed many things (small things) to happen this week that has brought these sins to the surface…it can almost make one despise oneself! So, what does one do? I guess one has to rely on God to rip this stuff out of oneself! Again, due to all this, the biggest wrestling match in my soul realizing my ‘goodness’ has nothing to do with is choosing and love – because based off of this week, I wouldn’t even choose myself. In truth, God has shown me this week that I am truly an addict in need of the Holy Spirit to detox me!
- 16th – today was a good day…started out rough, but ended great. I just have a rough time being…sabbathing…I realize I really am addicted to doing/accomplishing, and I get way too much value from it. I have taken a good thing God has given me, and turned it into an idol thing…a good example would be the temple in the Bible.
I guess if I can end this week on one quote it would be from the Puritan Richard Sibbes:
…after conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature and to let us see that we live by mercy and by mercy alone…
RECAP: I have ran about 19 miles, burned over 4,000 calories, memorized 1 Peter 2:21-25; spent more time with the family, and ended the week feeling as if I got nothing of value accomplished! Why, God has revealed to me, I am an addict in need the Holy Spirit’s intervention!
Week 2: 1 Peter 2:9-10
- 17th – today was a good slow day, great worship at ANC. no exercise. no real doing…but still wrestling with doing. Since Sabbath was a command in the First Testament (and still is), I am going to expand my Leviticus study to an in depth Torah Study. I’ve also decided to attempt to stream line and narrow down what I ‘do’ as far as study – (1) Personal Study, which will be through the book of 1 Peter & a book challenging my personal relationship with God. (2) Theological Study (3) Sermon Study and (4) Restore Communities Study. Good Night!
- 18th – This week we are working on a short verse to simply meditate on and memorize, but after last week, it is a good verse to get into our soul. I have a very bus weeks ahead, and my tendency will be to stress and neglect my family for the sake of study and assurance. But I don’t want to do that this week! So, Father, I need you grace, I need to do what I know to do, but not neglect those and that which you have given me…I started my first day of Torah study, and it was good. My run was great, slow, but great. Theological study didn’t really happen. Sermon study really started to come together. Jesus, thank you for your mercy….
- 19th – Today we got the beast back – Fiona. It was a great day, went by too quick and was way too tired, but over all it was good…God continually, in so much love and grace, is revealing to me my Idols, the God things I have in my life that I allow to get more attention and affection than him – God save me from “the work of my own hands…”
- 20th – Today was a day, that I was in a great mood, but didn’t really want to spend time in prayer or scripture – just being honest – it wasn’t there. I did it anyway, and am really glad I did. Once again, God allowed a little incident that shouldn’t even be considered an incident, that allowed to get to me, that I allowed to throw me off course, that revealed to me my Idle of knowledge and knowing and being right…I had a great 9.5 mile run, the eating is still going well. today I end with an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness for Sarah and the kids, ANC, and the people God has placed in my life in the last 18 months…
- 21st – Today was an easy day, woke up a bit late. I hate when that happens. You feel as if you are spending the rest of your day catching up. Once again, confronted with my right-to-be-right, my need to control, and pride…I was, or should I say, the Spirit worked through me to make me submissive and fine with it, actually satisfied with it. I so often HATE what I see in me – “Father make me into a man that follows the spirit, and do not allow me to be a man who continues to follow in the flesh!” My thought was, that I want to literally get to the point in which each day, I am constantly focusing on the cross…i.e. – in any situation, stop and ask myself, “because of the cross why, how, could it be, or is this situation different…” I don’t know another way to do it, but I feel confident, as I begin to do that, the Holy Spirit will begin to answer that question in me…
- 22nd – So, here is the thought I begin with to close out my week, “If it is true, that if I’m not willing to give up everything I have, then I cannot be a disciple of Christ“, my question is, or should I say: Father, my request is, “What in my life am I not willing to give up? I need these idols out of my life, please detox me of them…as to be your disciple is my desire!” I don’t think this is something God wants me to begin to wrestle with ‘in addition’ to the other idols he has revealed to me, rather I think this concept is something he wants me to begin to wrestle with so that I may go deeper into the root in order to clear out what I am wrestling with – if I was to be real honest, I’m not so sure I would or could give up anything and/or everything!
- 23rd – Overall, this was a good day, I’m think at a heart level, I’m beginning to really realize that I can’t do this, I simply have to repent and follow Christ…so, Father, help me to do this
Week 3: Giving it All
- 24th – Today was a good day. I had the opportunity to speak your word at ANC. I had the opportunity to hang out with friends and family. Father, the week approaching is yours, not mine, and I know I still have junk in my soul that gets in the way of being more like your Son…so, please, don’t stop now, and help not to feel like I’ve arrived…
- 25th – Today, God’s grace was so evident (it always is). But the way he just allows me to be in the life of those who are so broken.
- 26th – Today started out as one of those mornings where my soul was simply flooded with peace. A morning, in which I was extremely grateful, humbled, and excited about that fact that I have Sarah as a wife and best friend, and I have the kids I do…
- 27th – I’m not sure what the Father is preparing me to do…maybe it is just bringing me to the point of being his definition of a ‘regular’ Christian. Some of the these thoughts began last week, some last year, some years ago, but I can’t get them out of my head. Questions like: “What does running toward Christ & pursuing love look like in daily life?” “If having faith often means, doing what seems crazy to others, where does that leave me?” “Isn’t something wrong in my life when my life, as a ‘living-by-faith’ disciple makes sense to unbelievers?” When I read Hebrews 11 (often called the Faith Chapter) I see an underlying definition of faith. Meaning, if faith is living in such obedience that if God doesn’t come through, your are stuck, then I’m missing it. I look at Abraham – who, by faith offered Isaac…that’s faith, because had God not come through, Abraham is a murder. I look at Noah, who by faith spent 120 years of his life building an ark…that’s faith, because had God not come through, Noah is a laughing stock, has a ruined reputation, and a truly wasted life. I look at Moses, who by faith refused to be called a Son of Pharaoh…that’s faith, because had God not come through, Moses basically willingly entered into death row. Then I look at my life…by faith Matthew….Matthew what? See if God doesn’t come through in my life, I may be out a couple hundred bucks…do I really long to live by faith? Here are some texts that I am beginning to struggle with: Do I really trust God enough to give it all to follow him? And finally, what does this look like in my life: Isaiah 58 and truly pay attention to the wording in verse 10 ‘…pour yourself out…’ Through much of this, some of you may be thinking, “now, Matthew, you are being harsh on yourself, look at all you do…especially look at all you do for those in need…” Here is the deal, here is what no one can argue, I do NOT pour myself out for the broken, poor, marginalized, and oppressed – I just don’t! So, I’m left this morning asking, “Father, what are you calling me to go? Where are you leading me? What does this look like daily? My desire is to obey, but my other desire is to stay comfortable and simply pretend, but I can’t fool you, I don’t want to be able to fool you, I truly want my life to be one that is poured out…so Father, help me to decrease, loosen my grip on the things of this world: money, fame, security, ideal-achievement, etc. Turn my hands to aggressively grip the things and people that truly matter to you…help me to take up my cross...” Here we go!
- 28th – Today, was really a pretty good day. This morning, I woke up a bit late, and therefore didn’t really have the time to ‘do’ all the things I do in my ‘quiet time’ – ya’ know: read the Torah club, read Crazy Love, Read a little bit in Acts, and pray…so today, I simply just took the scriptures that I am focusing on this week, and slowly went through them, read them, and prayed them. Sometimes I feel like my hands grip so tightly the things of this world, the order of this work, the ideas, my ideas…sometimes I am simply unsure… But a good day over all, did a little hanging out with Tray Pruet and Trace Shelton…started a great book, watched a good movie with Serena and Ashton, had an amazing work-out, enjoyed some quiet, and ended the day with Sarah putting Elie to sleep…I’m not sure how a man could ever want more…maybe the only ‘more‘ I want is for the madness to stop, but maybe that doesn’t stop until these verses, this longing for deeper community, for deeper mission begins or deepens…anyway, all-in-all, it was a good day…
- 29th – I guess I begin today asking, “I realize the early church was obsessed with Jesus, it is obvious. You see it in how they lived, interacted, handled their possessions, and shared/lived the gospel…BUT, if that is what it looks like to be obsessed with Jesus, then I’m left thinking ‘maybe we only like him or the idea of him a whole lot…'” Here is the deal, I know I like to say, “I want to be obsessed with Jesus, but I’m not sure that bold statement is really thought out…so, let me say it this way, ‘I want to want to be obsessed with Jesus….'” So, Father in the words of Solomon and John, “Don’t give me so much that I begin to forget about you and don’t need faith, but don’t give me so little that I doubt you and our call…Father, help me to decrease so that you may increase…”
- 30th – I had a great night, last night with some friends, a much needed night out…I can’t help but but think that the one thing I want to know at the end of my life that I really lived for something, to say at the end of it all, “Father I have completed what it is you created me for…I want that for me, my wife, my kids…that rest is distraction…” I’m not going to spend time on the computer, rather just be with family…
Week 4: Ephesians 2:1-10
- 31st – Serve Austin Sunday – today was a bitter-sweet day, bitter, in that sometimes I hate making the rounds, I like to sink my teeth into one place, and getting to know the people there, as opposed to showing up, talking and leaving…however, it was more sweet than bitter. It was amazing to go from site to site and see all these people worshiping God through the works of their hands…it was amazing to see those with so much serving those with so little…it was amazing to remember a dream that started in a living room with 20 adults, being played out with over 300 volunteers…it was amazing to see, that often times the unknowns and the impossibilities that God places in us, he will work out, when we are willing to let go and give it to him! The best part of the whole day, was making the rounds with Sarah by my side…it’s been awhile since I’ve felt she was my partner in this (not because of her, but because of our stage in life with the kids). She is my best friend, and there is NO one in this world I would rather do this with. So, ‘bitter’, may be a harsh word, but sweet is not strong enough…
- 1st – I feel a war still wages on inside of me. A madness if you will. I don’t know how to just make it stop. Why I feel the way I do sometimes, angers me more. Often times life seems so trivial, and I think it is because we do not see the that each step in the way of minutia is a step that ends in dream if you are faithful to it all. Today, was really we a good day, but I wrestle with wondering, why I can’t just ‘stop’ a feeling inside, or better yet, truly understand why I sometime feel the way I do…
- 2nd – So, today I begin by asking the Father to help me to hate my pride. The doubt I am battling, the bias that seeps in, the idols that fight from being burned and crushed, I believe, I hope I pray are shrinking. My spirit hates these things, I can feel. My spirit recognizes it. My prayer is that these elements which have become altars I so easily bow to, actually become the wood placed on the altar of my life as a pleasing aroma to the Father, burned as an act of worship, that my life would be the altar offered to God…
- 3rd – So, yesterday, I just kind of got fed up with wrestling with the things I was wrestling with…so, it though it was time do some confession work, as the Bible says that it is actually supposed to heal us. So, I did. I got a hold of a man who is really the one person in my life that I would consider my ‘spiritual father’ and became transparent and just spilled it out. It’s funny, when junk stays in you, it seems to be overwhelming and you can’t see beyond it, when you begin to spill it out, it just seems easier to see – to see it in its entirety, to see what it may connect too, to see it in its foolishness…maybe that is part of the healing process, maybe God does something miraculous with it, much like communion & baptism. It seems simply like actions, but somewhere God does something extra-natural with it…I don’t know but it was amazing, and to spare all the detail, He quickly took me to some scripture to simply meditate on. Anyway, it was good, and I feel good. Anyway, back to this whole detox thing. It is funny how some of this spiritual/physical detox period is correlating, it’s almost like they’re supposed too – ;-). Anyway, So, this week began with some of the junk in my life being brought to the surface, and then I begin the whole confession deal along with prayer (in other words, I added a substance), and I am beginning to feel strong. Physically, this week I began to add meat back into my diet (fish). Due to that, I began to work out with weights again…In other words, both my spirit and my body were beginning to feel weak, even thought I was praying/exercising and taking in plenty of scripture and good healthy food…I was missing an element, and when they were added, my life began to be strengthened. Anyway, I won’t go on too long, but it has been good…
- 4th-6th – No notes – at Verge
Week 5: Philippians 2:5-11
- 7th – Today was a calm day, great day at Austin New Church‘s worship service. Great Super Bowl Game. Easy relaxing day at home. Not much to record as my mind is still fermenting what it took in at the Verge. Will record more as we finish this last stretch of the Detox phase.
- 8th – If there is anything that I kept hearing in my soul this past weekend, it was the re-orientation of life…I couldn’t get away from that idea, that philosophy, that challenge… This is what I believe the detox has come down to… I think for the past four weeks, God has been detoxing my life so that when I begin the strengthen phase, I would be able to strengthen my life around the only things that really matter right now. In other words, I would be able to re-orient my life around the things that matter right now, and not a bunch of other junk…junk that kept me living on the frustrated side. Sure, God is still allowing me to see trash in my life that needs to be disposed of – I hope that never ends. When God is detoxing you, at first it makes EVERYTHING so unclear, as it seems like you are in the middle of the forest and all you see are the trees, and you can see nothing else, and you are consumed…for me it was this final week, but at some point, it is almost like he lifts you above the trees to see the forest, to remind you why he needed to uproot this stuff out of my life, to remind me, ‘why I am truly here, both on a macro and micro level…’ Now, part of me wants to rush to the Strengthen phase, so Father, help me slow down, and take in this last week, take it in deeply…
- 9th – “Sarah, I can’t do it…” I said, “I don’t know how to accomplish my idea of daily success in my work, my daily idea of a great personal time in prayer and scripture, my idea of daily needed in depth study, along with my desire and calling as a dad and husband and friend…” I’m not sure what I was expecting her to say? Maybe, solve it. Maybe say, “No, babe, not only can you, but you do, you are so good at all of this…” But she didn’t say that, nor did she solve it, in fact she kind of looked at me as if to say, “FINALLY!” For me this realization wasn’t good enough…because when I couldn’t or when I can’t do it, I feel much like Jonathan Edwards when we wrote:
April 16th: I was in bitter soul and of anguish in the morning such as I have scarce ever felt with a sense of sin and guilt…I concluded in distress the whole day. I attempted to pray where ever I went. And indeed could not help doing, but look upon myself so vile. I dare not even look anyone in the face and was grieved that anybody should show me any respect or at least that they should be so deceived to think I deserved it.
In other words, like Edwards, my joy is often tied to what I don’t accomplish in a day. Which allows me to realize how much I don’t live in joy. However, I believe this is where God has been taking me this whole time, and that is the realization, that I CAN’T DO IT! So, though it is a fight, I simply told God, “I need your help, I need your help to ‘not do’ to rest in that, to know that you are my beginning and my completer…so Father, I need you to be the accomplisher in all things, and help me rest in you, not in what I can do, and help me to see my validity tied to who I am in you (a son) not in what I fail to accomplish on a daily basis…”
I have to admit, this is very hard for me to rest in. I am a ‘get-it-done’ kind of person, so much so that the minute I ‘get-it-done’ I quickly find more to get done, and more that I haven’t done. After the depth of Edwards soul on the 16th, he writes a new realization on the 17th:
April 17th: In the evening I could not but think God help me draw near to the throne of grace. Though most unworthy, He gave me a sense of his favor, and gave me inexpressible support and encouragement...
- 10th & 11th – It seems today, my lack of accomplishment still stares me in the face and whispers in my ear, yet an weird sort of rest and peace falls on me. It seems one of the things I am coming to the realization of, and that is much of the facade I fill my life with, that I have been attempting to detox myself of, is done as to cover the poverty of my own soul… However, that seems to be a job that is endless and taxing, and no matter how hard I work to do that, when I look in the mirror, I am reminded of my own poverty. However, I believe I am coming to realize, that my own poverty need not be covered up, but embraced. Now, when I say, “embraced” I don’t mean accepted in the way of settling in this reality to become lazy. I mean, that my poverty needs to be embraced to the point I realize the ONLY remedy for my own poverty is Him – period. Not what I can accomplish, not what I can do, not who I can be, but Him. I think this causes me to lean on him, depend on him, and ‘need’ him more…After all, it’s all for ‘His Name Sake’ not mine!
Though this period was done in one blog, I am going to daily record the next phase, in which I am moving from Detox to Strengthen!