Saturday, September 7, 2013

Preparing for the 7 Experiment

Let me introduce you to my friend Sammy.  I've mentioned her a few times on this blog already, but I'd like to make sure you know who she is.

I was trying to find a normal picture of the two of us.  I cropped us out of a group picture a few days ago, so there's that.  Otherwise, we pretty much have only posed in the strangest of situations, which kind of describes our friendship pretty well.

But this is Sammy and me.

Sammy is one of my best friends.  She is always up for an adventure.  She encourages me when I need it and speaks bluntly when I need that too.  She likes peppy music and recently took up longboarding.

Over 9 weeks, we are undertaking a challenge-filled Bible study.  It's called The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  I've definitely mentioned it here before.  I am learning so much from this study already, so if you are looking for a Bible study, I so highly recommend this one.  You can purchase the workbook here

7 features seven different fasts from excess and the American Dream, focusing on the topics of: clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress. 

One of my favorite parts of this Bible study so far is the way it has broadened my perspective on what it means to fast.  I've fasted before in church and club settings, but it has always been a legalistic process.  No food for this many hours.  Once I was called out for drinking juice during a group fast.  While I thought it was a fast from foods, my friend scolded me for not choosing to only drink water.  Her words left me feeling confused and guilty.  This is not the point of a fast!

Rules and legalism and guilt should not be the foundations of a fast.  Jen Hatmaker expanded on six reasons that people fast in the Bible: mourning, inquiry, repentance, preparation, crisis, and worship.

I chose to focus on three over the next two months:
  • Inquiry: Does God want me to "go" or "stay"?, as well as a few other questions I am asking the Lord during this time.
  • Repentance: for my selfish heart and love of excess and focus on pleasing others above pleasing God.
  • Worship: because the Lord is so worthy of my fasting with a sincere heart, out of my own motivation.
Passages in the Bible we've been reading about fasting this week are Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6.  Basically, fasting isn't about looking good and seeking out the approval of others.  It's about coming to the Lord in humbleness and desperate need.  It's about loosening the chains of injustice and setting the oppressed free.

I'll be blogging about my experiences in this 7 Bible Study, but before I begin, I want to focus on a couple of things.  One, I'm going to be sharing certain things, but I'm also entering this process asking the Lord what He wants me to share as encouragement to my fellow believers and what He wants me to keep private in my relationship with Him.

The focus of these challenges should be about learning and changing perspectives, not about how cool it is that anyone is abstaining from excess for seven weeks.  No, in reality, the fact that I'll be simplifying my life is not even that strange.  It would look absurd from the viewpoint of anyone who has lived in simplicity or poverty their entire life.  Emily's narrowing down what she's going to wear to only four t-shirts this week, oh snap.  No, this entire experiment is to remind myself of how blessed I already am and how God is commanding me to live.

Hopefully the things I learn can also encourage you to seek the Lord's heart on the same issues.  If you ever have any opinions or words of wisdom about these things, please share in the comments.  I am so eager to learn from anyone who has been given perspective about excess and God's heart for the needy.

Yesterday, Sammy shared a fantastic picture of our lives right now as Americans living in wealth and prosperity.  Imagine yourself running to God, unhindered and free.  Now imagine yourself running while clutching your possessions: clothes, cups of expensive coffee, shoes, computer, dragging an expensive house behind you.  How much less free are we to pursue God's plan for us when we are hindered by possessions that we cling to much more than we'd like to admit?

I'd like to end with John 3:30, which says, "He must become greater; I must become less.”  

If you'd like to join me and Sammy in this experiment, please do so!  You can order the 7 Workbook online or get it at your nearest Christian bookstore.  I'll be updating you weekly on things the Lord is showing me.  If you could, be in prayer for us over the next two weeks, not so much that we'll survive this (because honestly, it shouldn't be hard to put God over our comforts), but that we'll enter this with the right intentions in our hearts and with total humbleness before our Creator.

As of yesterday, our first challenge has begun: Food.  

Two years ago: Do I like Ted Dekker?
Three years ago: 5 Things I Can't Live Without


  1. I like your request to pray for you to do this in the right spirit.

    I think I've already explained that I found this blog when I was looking for people who are trying to be candles for God, because I feel called to try to encourage and support those efforts. I found three or four people who wrote about being candles. There might be many more who are trying, but who don't write about it explicitly, and I haven't looked any deeper yet. Of the blogs I've found, I've been attracted to this one the most. Right now I'm trying to take a break from Internet discussions, but I keep peeking at this blog and a few others, and on Facebook, and posting a little now and then.

    I don't have very clear ideas about *how* to encourage and support people in trying to be candles. I'm thinking of it as part of learning to be a better friend to people in my life in general. One of my ideas is to spend time with each person doing things that interest him.

    I want my priority now to be learning to be a better friend to people in my life, on line and off line, and to offer the kind of encouragement and support that really helps. At the same time, I keep dreaming of finding people to share ideas and experiences with in the interests closest to my own heart, and it's hard for me to keep that from intruding sometimes.

    1. I have to say I'm happy to see you're sneaking over to this blog! I always love to see your perspectives and words of wisdom. You offer so many encouragements and I am thankful!