The Essence Challenge

Monday, April 4, 2011

5:00 am

I don’t know about you, but I have had it.  I am tired of all fluff and stuff, the detritus, the unimportant junk that litters my life.  So much busyness, so many distractions, all that time and talent and treasure that gets wasted on the meaningless, the useless.  I no longer care to major in the minors.  I have no desire to be so concentrated on things that have no eternal value.  I am ready to prioritize and rightly align my life.  I need to build my spiritual muscles.  I need to chuck the junk and get down to what is important, what is vital – in God’s eyes.

Personally, I need the spiritual equivalent of chef Emeril Lagasse’s “BAM” factor.  And I’ll bet I’m not the only one who feels that way.

So… I’m tossing out this challenge – the Essence Challenge – a chance for a bunch of us to strip away the old debris, toss out the garbage and waste and get to the heart, the essence, of what is important: God, spouse, kidlets, job – in that order.  This is an opportunity for us to find true meaning in our lives and begin growing ever deeper in our relationship with Jesus, and others.

How does the Essence Challenge work?  Well… I’m not 100% sure.  We’re going to start with small steps. 

STEP ONE: Set your alarm clocks 30 minutes earlier than you normally would.  (I know… ugh…).  Yes, that may mean cutting the “Friends” marathon on TBS short by one episode.  And, yes, it may be tough if you have a kidlet like my little man who refuses to go to sleep before 11pm that night. 

Now, how to spend that extra half hour before the sun rises?  Prayer.  Scripture.  Repeat.  Specifically, ask God to show you the areas in your life you need to ditch.  Where are your priorities askew?  How can you impact others by changing your life?  Most importantly, just seek God.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8, ESV). 

STEP TWO: Now, this one may hurt a bit for some of us, but here goes… turn off the TV.  For one week, beginning next Monday (April 11), turn off the TV.  And leave it off.

For one week.

No “Sports Center.”  No DVDs.  No VOD or TiVO or Internet streaming episodes of “30 Rock.”  Only turn the tube on in case of an emergency where you need to find out info vital to the safety and needs of you and your loved ones (i.e.: is the tornado heading toward my house?).  No, Charlie Sheen updates do not qualify as an emergency, despite how the media treats them.

How do we spend that time with no television?  Read the Bible and pray with your family.  Spend time with your spouse.  Serve – help others in Christ’s name.  Be creative.  The most important thing is to seek God – how would He have you spend the time?  At the risk of sounding cliché, act as if Jesus were in the room with you (after all, He is). 

The goal of all this is to act as a bit of a reset: to rejuvenate our spiritual walk, realign our priorities and remove the useless from our lives.  And these two steps – rising 30 minutes early and turning off the television – are just the first two steps, the clearing of the deck. 

So… how about it?   Are you up to the Essence Challenge?  C’mon… it won’t hurt that much.  And, we’ll all be doing this together.  Drop me a quick e-mail at: and simply say, “Yes!  I am up for the challenge!”

Each day, I will post little encouragements and updates on this blog, readable via Facebook and Twitter as well on the blog website –  You can also receive them via e-mail by subscribing to the blog (see the website for details – it is really quite simple!)

Join me in taking the Essence Challenge!  Let’s grow together and see what God has in store for our lives as we seek His will for a greater impact on the lives of those around us.

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