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Monday, December 31, 2012


This year.

Oh, this year.

Can we rewind the clocks? Maybe, just maybe, when we flip the calendar back to January... it will say January 2012.

Where's Marty McFly when you need him?

Because there's plenty I'd like to redo. Undo. Change. Reconfigure. Halt. Slap myself for. Prevent.

There's too many friends I would like to unearth from their graves to just have one more moment with them while they were still breathing. Too many relationships I would like to... well... Fix.
And when I say fix... I really mean to just be more intentional with... and perhaps less intentional with others. Well, definitely less intentional with others.

Wasted. Used. Abused.

That was 2012.

Heartbreak. Pain. Headaches. Fractures. Heaviness. Normalcy.


This year has just been one of those years.

But it has made me realize one thing:

A question that I don't really want to ask, but am forced to.

When did I stop thinking life was dessert? 

Ya know?

Fudge brownies, soft serve ice cream, Boston Cream Pie. The works.

Because in life there's always something better, sweeter. I just have to leave room for it, sometimes ask for it, other times seek it out myself.

If life is dessert, the big cha-bang, the grand closure to a filling meal...

I can always assume positive intent, even from the people who hurt me the most, because with all of the pitch darkness that humans have within us... there is only a spark of hope, when we let it shine.

When I think of life as the next great dish in front of me I'm reminded to never stop investing in people, because I fail, we all fail. And we all need to know and be known by someone other than ourselves. I recognize that cry for intimacy in myself: To know and be known.


Perhaps it's the face of God within us that drizzles out the hefty desire... to have companionship.

After all, a meal eaten alone is a meal wasted. We eat for fellowship. It's part of surviving. And dessert is what we all truly long for. It's what we savor most.

Wedding cake.
Ice Cream.
Birthday cake.
Grandma's Apple Pie.


I need people.

And I'm not alone in that... 

We need people.

I was never meant to be alone.

I'm reminded to be intentional with every moment, allowing the warm aromas of the fresh baked cupcake to make it's mark: Savoring. To never forget the important things, the details that make up a moment:

How the cheese on that one perfect pizza just evaporated into deliciousness when I bit into it.
The brilliance that was "The Avengers" with the guys from school.
The first kiss and the way her beautiful brown eyes lit up and she smiled after it.
The way we drove around town celebrating over a crazy come from behind baseball game.
The softness of the pillow after the most exhausting of days.
The warmth of the shower after being sick all day.
The jokes shouted across the hallway.
The majesty of "The Dark Knight" on the big screen sitting next to my best friends, sucking on Lemonheads that we sneaked in. Live a little dangerously, right? Haha.
The comfort and warmth of a friendly hug after a nauseating conversation of pain in my life.
The loud cheers of some, the saddened outburst of tears from others, when the news announced that Barack Obama had been re-elected.

Moments like these matter to me.

Driving across the Midwest United States, there's an unknown beauty in the protruding rolling hills.
Flying over the Great Lakes, looking down at the brilliant blue reflection of the sky upon its contents.
Watching the sun rise over the Atlantic on a Florida beach; palm trees whispering through the salty breeze, waves crying their wrath as they crash upon the white sand, seagulls singing their desires for a fish breakfast.

While enjoying those moments... that breath I breathe in is taken from me immediately.
But I still know to breathe in life, letting it crash through the walls built up inside like a cookies and cream milkshake rushing through a large straw... bursting upon the minuscule taste buds lining the wonderful pink pallet locked inside my jaw.

I'm reminded that the power of the incarnation is the power I throw my anchor to. Wherever I am, to be all there. Let the wind take me where it may, but never taking my eyes off the rock I cling to.

It dawns on me to just simply...Slow... down.

And taste the time directly in front of me.
Give thanks, and see God.

Life isn't the main dish... That was yesterday. Life is dessert, and I want to savor long whatever time holds.


The joy of life.


I cannot imagine my life without Christ.

It's an impossibility for me. 2012 has been hard. Real hard. But I'm not the only one who has had it hard. Must I need to remind myself of State College, Pennsylvania; Aurora, Colorado; and Newtown, Connecticut?

And those are just the three big time, criminal incidents that made national news.
What of the social justice issues?
What of the amount of foreclosures?
And families, now one member short as a result of 2012?

What of all those that went basically unnoticed?

What of the tragedy in Delhi, India?
And my heart breaks for the victims of all of these dishes life throws at people.

Where's the bowl of ice cream waiting at the end of the table for them?
I have to look for joy.
I have to.

But life has taught me one other lesson:

Awakening to joy awakens to pain.

Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts, pours her own heart out after noting that fact,

"Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don't numb themselves to really living. Pages of the gratitude journal [could] fill endlessly. Yet I know it in the vein and the visceral: life is loss. Every day, the gnawing...
What will I lose? Health? Comfort? Hope? Eventually, I am guaranteed to lose every earthly thing I have ever possessed.
When will I lose? Today? In a few weeks? How much time have I got before the next loss?
Who will I lose? And that's definite: I will lose every single person I have ever loved. Either abruptly or eventually. All human relationships end in loss. Am I prepared for that?"

Why do I want to savor that?

 “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…” -Job 13.15

God seldom works in the easy and comfortable. 

"It’s hard. It’s complicated to reconcile a God who works through pain. It’s tough to trust in a Lord who allows suffering and inconvenience. It’d be a whole lot easier to mindlessly promise myself that Jesus always wants to make life easy, but I don’t think that’s how He works.
If anything, Jesus uses dark colors when He paints. He’s into streams in the desert and life out of death. Just take one good look at the cross and that ought to convince you that the God the Bibles speaks of is a God who uses horror and injustice to His advantage.
The cross is evidence to our minds, and balm for our souls that our God is a God who brings beauty out of pain. Art out of chaos. Beauty out of ugliness. Or as some of the poets have said, He conquers death by death itself. Our Redeemer beat Death at his own game. Hope rises." -Mike Donehey
So I guess, I need to just slow down.

Because life is loss. Enjoy it as it passes. I can't wish it way, no matter how miserable the times may be.

God, Help me to be thankful, grateful for whatever dish sitting in front of me.

Whatever cup I'm given.

Because life is more than loss.

Life is... the unexpected, expected.
An obvious mystery.
A point blank distance shot.

True life is a paradox.

My problem is that I have forgotten to find myself by becoming lost in mystery.


Savor the most unexpected of times, the craziest change of environment, the most unbearable of burdens.

Because this too shall pass.

It will, with each passing second we only get closer to Jesus returning.

This upcoming year I want to allow life to hit me one chocolate chip cookie at a time... some may have M&Ms in them, others may be burnt and stale.

But I'll savor them nonetheless, allowing each taste bud to be used, allowing every one of my gifts, my abilities, and my strong points to be used to their greatest advantage.

All the while choking down the pain that comes from growing from my weaknesses.

Savor each moment... because we won't ever get it back again.

2012 is closing in just a few hours... 2013?

Well, no matter how awful 2013 is, I'm going to celebrate it's arrival.

Dinner is over.

Take life.

Dessert is on it's way.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road.
Knowing so still that the narrow way is the one...
But both appear so narrow. Yet so wide.
So I thirst for the fountain, which way the springs flow,
but the wind and the rain make it hard to see.
Where are you, O Lord?
I seek, but I cannot find.
Theology breaks it down so I understand,
but what good is it if it is not the Way?

I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road
Knowing so still that you have called me.
So I hunger for your bread, for you will nourish me,
but the aromas of folly and sin confuse my senses.
Where are you, O Lord?
I seek, but I cannot find.
Doctrine breaks it down so I understand,
but what good is it if it is not the Truth?

I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road.
Knowing so still that you have a plan for me.
So I strengthen myself, I look at all creation,
but seeing how little I am compared to the mountains,
to the sun, moon, and stars that you breathed into being.
In all of that majesty...
Where are you, O Lord?
I seek, but I cannot find.
Stories from Sunday School break it down so I understand,
but what good is it if it is not the Life?

I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road.
Not knowing anymore what you are to me.
So I move on my own, and there is where you stop me.
Your word tells me to wait, to stand still, Know that you are God.
But you tell me that I've missed the mark. I've fallen short.
Knowing won't save me, Actions won't save me,
Theology won't save me, Doctrine won't save me.
In desperation, I cry out... Where are you, O Lord!?

And in that instance, I stop, I quit talking, quit thinking,
I listen.
I realize that it was never about me at all.

I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road,
Asking for the ancient paths, for you were there all along.
It wasn't this way or that, it was straight ahead,
for you are my lamp and my light. You were there with me in the storm.
The Living Water wasn't just for me, it was for the world, the world that you so love.

I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road,
Listening for Your voice, for you were there all along.
The Word becoming flesh, just to speak to us all.
To communicate love. You were there with me in the storm.
The Bread of Life wasn't just for me, it was for all, to remember:
We do not live on bread alone, but on the Word of God.

I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road,
Realizing that you are my strength, for you were there all along.
I looked to the mountains, but my strength comes not from mountains.
For you alone God, made heaven and earth and mountains.
YOU give strength to the weary. You were there with me in the storm.
You created all mankind fearfully and wonderfully, you breathed into us, life.

I stand at the crossroads, a fork in the road.
Knowing now that all I am, is in you.
So I move with you're guidance,
Salvation calls out to me, and I accept.
Wisdom calls out to me, and I accept.
I'm a new creation, in you alone.
I sought, and did not find,
For my ways are not your ways.
But my joy cannot express how grateful I am that,

O, Lord. I now know where you are.
You are here with us all, even to the end of the age.


It's all about Jesus. It was never about anything else. He needs to become EVERYTHING to us.
He's more than a story
more than words on a page of history
He's the air that we breath
The water we thirst for
And the ground beneath our feet

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Throne Room

Have you ever just imagined (or at least tried to imagine) what it will look like one day?

To have every pain... Erased.

To have every droplet of water that ever seared our saddened faces, every memory of slow, cold, empty nights where we prayed ourselves to sleep in hopes to not wake up the next day. Have we truly allowed the thought to penetrate our inner selves: every last tear wiped from our cheeks.

Have we ever really let that image sink down deep into the hidden membrane just beyond those glossy orbs that we see everything from?

Jesus is going to hold our faces in His hands and personally wipe away every hint of humanity's pain. Every trouble. Every hardship. Every hurt.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:3-4 ESV

I know I haven't. Though I am trying.

But this image, it's different for all of us. Some of us see Jesus through different lenses, and it blurs the vision of the church.

And I'm not going to delve into theological whims, or throw out some Greek words to prove that my sight is more clear than anyone else.

Because most of my thoughts here are just that, thoughts. And as I am sitting in this coffee shop writing these words and copying Scripture into this post, my blurred vision clears up for one second.
One second enough to read but one word. One single word that changes this passage entirely for me. One word that crumbles any exterior walls I've built up around my Christology. One word that hints at something entirely different. One word that shows up and makes me feel dumb for not recognizing it the very first time I ever read this passage. One word that crazily sends goosebumps across my arms, a shiver up my spine, and yet also sends a warmth and a joy down throughout my soul.


Contextually obvious.
Theologically redundant.

But for me... This is a humble reminder that no matter how much I know, I am always learning and re-learning.

"Throne" does that for me here.

If it's the only thing I can help myself understand I want it to be this image. I want it burned into my mind, seared in with the same sharpness I feel when the world seems too large and I want to fall on my knees and cry. I can't let go of this image:

Jesus is on His throne.

And from the throne, John hears these words and records them for us.

This is not a picture of a humble peasant preacher dressed in a tunic and speaking softly to beggars, widows, and the sickly.

This is a conquering King, sitting on his throne speaking "with a loud voice", dressed in majesty,  having "the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald," (Rev. 4:3) with the angels worshiping Him constantly, lightning, rumbles, and loud thunder emanating from behind Him, the white robed, gold crown wearing elders sitting on twenty-four thrones all around Him, as a sea of crystal like glass sits in front of Him, covered only by the train of the King's robe that fills this arena. There are seven torches; flames breathing in the surrounding environment, more alive, more free, and more powerful than that of an uncontrolled forest fire. The seraphim are flying above him crying out,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

The room trembles and is filled with smoke and fresh incense.

Our engulfed eyes can't take all of this at once so we try to look away and see four living creatures, with appearances I cannot even begin to give adequate description to, never ceasing to loudly proclaim,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”

The elders are, almost in unison, rising, kneeling, giving thanks, casting their crowns before Him, only to pick them back up and praise God even more. 

All this going on in this infinite dwelling, with all the noise... and we will stand there, broken before Him as Jesus the King for whom all this is for... Rises. Walks. Talks. Takes us in His arms and gently... wipes every tear stained eye. Which will open our eyes to everything that He is. All of a sudden the comforting Jesus that the Gospel writers described, becomes one with this fierce figure.

The Lord of everything becomes our friend, our brother, our intercessor, our healer, our High Priest, our mediator, our fulfillment.

I sit in this coffee shop, looking around at all the normal-ness that is here, how can I even fathom the depths of what was just described when it's compared to (the feeble attempt at) art hanging on the wall?

I overhear a person talking about the news... Depressing. Dismal. Broken.

How does a person handle the image of the Throne Room when we're surrounded by so much that stands in direct opposition to the Glory of God?

I look at my now empty cup that once held a black, bitter liquid, filled with caffeine and artificial caramel flavoring, a drink that people line up across city blocks every morning to wait for, trading this ordinary-ness for a wrinkled, old piece of greenish paper with a 5 and the face of Abraham Lincoln on. This greenish parchment that they just pulled out of a sown piece of leather, that holds other bills just like it, that was just placed back into their back pocket or bag around their arm.

What gives that worth?

I look around at the beige paint on the wall, the old wooden coffee table marked up with water rings from other people's iced coffees that had been placed there well before mine.

Is this it? Is this... all that it is?

Routine. Artificial. Used.

I crave the thunder, the lightning, the emeralds, the casting of crowns. 

I want that here. 


And I'm reminded that with every choice we make we can either invite Heaven or Hell to this planet.

And that changes things for me...

Because as I look a little more into the image of the Throne Room I think that there is no way Jesus would walk away from all of that to come... here. The pitfall of glory, this perfect paradise reaping with the stench of death. 

Decay. Disappointment. Despair. 

Knowing this well, God chose.

With every decision He made, Jesus chose to bring Heaven to Earth.

And the power shown in that Throne Room, is the power that incarnated Christ, which is the power that kept the Messiah on the tree, which is the power that raised Jesus...

And somehow or another that power has been transferred to this ugly dancing corpse that houses me.


Whatever the substance or being that "me" is. My Spirit, my soul, my heart, my...?
Oh, how one simple bite of a fruit can deteriorate such wonder and mystery.

That power raises "me" and breathes a new, fresh, breath of life into my cold lungs. 
And I come to feel what I've always known, "The God of heaven, though exalted in power and majesty is eager to be friends with us." -A.W. Tozer, "Knowledge of the Holy"

The baby we just celebrated the birth of, in Bethlehem so long ago... is proof.

In the midst of nothing making sense and the infection of that Eden mouthful, one second of sweet, fruitful, bliss, and then an eternity of blackness and despair... Jesus is still on His throne. And he cares.

Isaiah saw the Throne Room and trembled, and cried,
“Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

I read that and squirm a little, if Isaiah felt unworthy, how much more unworthy will I feel when I stand in that room one day...

The opposite is true.

Jesus will give us worth and it will be more than we could ever comprehend.

We've been washed. We've been bought. We've been redeemed.

I guess what this all boils down to is a simple statement: We don't have to wait.

We don't have to wait for "one day". Go today. Go now. Escape this world for a few minutes in prayer. And go.

That room is open and available for us to go to at any time we want.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." -Hebrews 4:16 (NIV84)

We need to let Jesus set things right in the here and now. He will wipe away our tears.

Approaching the Throne, in THAT room, with confidence?

That changes things.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I have a pain, a craving, a hunger, a thirst, a hunger for something more.
A thirst, a desire, a need to cleave but it’s not something to buy at a store.
For this fixation will not last, this simple substitute will not satisfy.
I need a something, a feeling, a complexity of thought…
That will override this fault
… that I seem to find in myself every time I blink my eye.
I can try.
But I just don’t seem to qualify.
I need something more. Something more, Oh HOW MUCH MORE!?
I’m lost in frustration, my mind going a million miles a second in the complete wrong direction,
And that’s just it isn’t it? I need to cling to my subjection.
An object of appreciation, rather a person, a work
a something to get my heart to continue to not jerk…
Every time I look out and see exactly all that was done to me.
At the same time to forget what I myself must look like to thee.
I SCREAM to my worthless self, “Let go of the controlling key!”
Just allow yourself to be… well, me.
But that won’t work, that won’t hold it’s own.
For we all know I’d be overblown.
I need something else to see…
Something else to be!
Perhaps Jesus is still looking out for me.
I don’t need to deal with the pain of the world,
For my pain was crucified long before it unfurled.
And yours was too.
For My King is more than this temporary fixation on what we feel.
The old way of thinking is gone and our new contract is under a seal.
That emblem that is so crimson in nature
hovers over us washing away the evil depicture.
We are HIS!
And His alone,
Standing firm in Jesus, our foundation stone.
So pick up your lowly self and look, LOOK with esteem!
Because the cloud of witnesses round about us will be our defense team,
We need only to hope that our redemption is not only coming but has already appeared.
This is exactly what the ancients revered.
God loves you, yes, even you.
That statement could never be more true.
This is the craving we desire
And so this is why I so inquire…
We need this, me and you,
And it matters not what you are going through.
For oh how much more...
How much more
Is He EVERYTHING we cried for?

He's more.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” –Hebrews 4:16

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What if?

As we mourned the anniversary of 9/11 yesterday, America was violently attacked again.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." -Matthew 5:9

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." -Matthew 5:43-45

Both times Jesus says we will be called "sons of God" or "sons of your Father in heaven" if we pursue peace, or if we love and pray for those who persecute us.

Even now, Christian leaders and Christian politicians are expressing their, "outrage" and "anger" and promising that they will respond swiftly and will seek justice.

Just like in 2001. Just like we responded to the attack on our soil 11 years ago.

Instead of responding like we did in 2001, can we respond differently this time?

Can we obey Jesus and love our enemies?

What would happen if we broke the cycle of attack, retaliate, attack, and retaliate? What if, by offering our enemies our forgiveness, our grace, our love... and our prayers... we could break the strength of the ideology that drives our enemies to violence?

What if... we put away our anger and instead clothed ourselves in Christ?

What if... we loved our enemies?

What would happen to our world?

What if... al Queda surrendered their lives to Jesus?

What if?

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

“And the LORD answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. ‘Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4 ESV)

In this passage Habakkuk is complaining because the wicked seem to be ruling over the righteous. Assyria was ruling Israel and God had promised that Chaldea (Babylon) would soon punish them. Habakkuk is confused both at how God can use the wicked to judge His cause, and at why it is taking so long to be accomplished. This passage is God’s answer.
Habakkuk is essentially told to be patient and trust in the LORD. What has been said will come to pass in its appointed time. We later see that the vision God provided Habakkuk is accomplished when Babylon conquers, and is later conquered themselves (God also said that since they were also a wicked nation they would be punished later). But God sees things on a bigger scale than we can, so these things didn’t come to pass in the time Habakkuk had expected. He did however trust in God and remain faithful to spreading the vision, as instructed by God. It is this faithfulness that allows us to see God’s glory in these events today.

Has God shown you a vision? Perhaps one that you set out to accomplish eagerly at first, and then it began to fade as obstacle after obstacle got in the way of it? Do not give up, remain faithful. If God gave you the vision, He did so for a reason, and will see it through to completion. Stay encouraged and continue to spread your vision, make known what God has shown you, and in time the fruits will become apparent.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

May God bless you

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hope in the LORD

“Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; and my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40: 27-31 NIV)

This is an all too familiar event for Israel in the Old Testament times. God’s people are gain crying out for help, claiming that God has abandoned them, and has chosen to ignore His people. However this is not the case at all, as is typical the apparent abandonment of God was simply that the people of Israel had again ceased to trust in Him, hence the rest of this passage. Isaiah is telling Israel to remember all that God has done. He is reminding them that God is always there, He does not forget, and He will not abandon them. All Israel needs to do is lean on the LORD, instead of their own might, and He will provide what they need.

We are not so far different. The heart of man is prideful, arrogant, and forgetful; that last part being why God had His people set up so many places and days of remembrance. We are just as forgetful today. We seem to forget that God really did all of these great signs we read about. We forget all the times we were struggling and cried out to Him only to receive an answer, and usually one that surpassed what we asked for. We try to do everything in our own strength, only calling on Him when we realize we don’t have what it takes. And yet, the second things look up again, instead of being thankful and remembering what God has done, we take the credit ourselves, and grow in pride. This is perhaps the most dangerous part of our sinful nature.  Our minds are clouded by our own selfishness, and our desires.

This is why we must daily, actually, upon every breath, look to Christ as our example, and live our lives in remembrance of what was done for us. Constantly seeking the will of God as revealed through the Spirit. We must be ready and willing to cast off all of our former selves, and never again turn back to it.

“Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:61 ESV)

Our decision to follow after Christ is supposed to be life changing, completely and totally, the old self dies, and is replaced by the new self, living a life in the Spirit. Paul’s teaching clarify this a bit better than my words ever could:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that lal of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought o nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6: 1-6 ESV)

We must let go of ourselves, our dead selves, and lean on Christ, and the power of our Heavenly Father. He will give us the strength we need each day. He will not grow weary or abandon us. Allow the Spirit to transform your minds, and ultimately your life. We are dead to sin, and free to live our lives for Christ! Hope in the LORD, and let Him be your strength.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

True Fasting

Why do you fast?

No really, think about that a second and come up with an answer, don’t worry, the rest of the blog isn’t going anywhere. Do you even fast? What have you been told, or read about when to fast or why?

Today we are going to look at examples of fasting in the Bible, as well as the only place I can find any sort of explanation as to a reason.

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? ‘Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58: 1-12 ESV)
I want to start with this text because this is the only description of fasting I can find. It starts with what the people are doing wrong. What is interesting is that what they are doing wrong is the very reason so many use to fast these days. When I posted a poll a while back on my facebook asking people why they fast I mostly heard back answers such as “to draw closer to God,” or variations of that phrase. There were some who listed other reasons but that was the biggest. Yet look back at verse 2. God mentions the people delighting to draw near to Him, yet this is not mentioned in a positive light. In fact, this is part of the problem. Even the people “humbling themselves” isn’t what is pleasing God in fasting. This threw me off a bit. I had always heard that fasting was a means of learning to give up ourselves (or become humble) in order to become closer with God. Now there is truth in that, but the problem is that it isn’t the whole truth. As we continue in this section you see that what God sees as a fast pleasing to Him results in people being helped. The hungry are fed, the homeless sheltered, etc. God wants our fast not just to be a sacrifice of ourselves, but a sacrifice to do His will on this earth. We need to use it as a way to accomplish some good for others.

Here are examples of fasting:

Esther 4:16, Daniel 9:3-19, 1 Samuel 7:5-6, Nehamiah 1:4

In all of these cases those fasting are doing so for the benefit of the entire nation of Israel, that God should see the plight they are in and offer a solution. Selfless acts of fasting designed to accomplish a goal with the benefit of others in mind.

Some more examples:

Acts 13:2, 14:23

In both of these examples the fasting is being done in order to find God’s will in selecting those to do His work. The people selected will be either directly responsible for spreading the Gospel or a major part in growing the faith of those where the Church is already established. Again, we see the primary reason for the fast lies outside of oneself.

Now for the best example of all which can be found in Matthew 4:1-11. In this instance Christ is preparing for his ministry, the ministry that would ultimately lead to the greatest act of selflessness ever, the crucifixion of Christ for our sins. The result of which is the extension of grace to all.

Ultimately we do fast to grow closer to God, to seek His guidance. Not merely for the pleasure of feeling close to our creator, but to find His heart and will for our lives, and to spread His love to everyone we encounter.