Archive for February, 2012

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Four Days of Fasting

February 15, 2012

I fasted for four days two weeks ago. I went from Sunday early evening until Thursday evening without eating. This wasn’t self-starvation it was spiritual preparation for the next season of ministry. I realize in a day in age so sensitive to body image, dieting and eating disorders this type of behavior can seem dangerous. Fasting certainly should be done for the right reasons (rapid weight loss not being one of them) and in a prudent manner. For example, Richard Foster in his book ‘Celebration of Discipline’ gives some much-needed caution and I invite you to read his book. I’m sure you will benefit greatly from it.

I thought I would share with you some insights I gleaned from four days of fasting:

1. I whined a bit. Not a lot. Just a bit – the first day was the roughest and I whined the loudest during it. Fasting actually gets easier on days two and three – at least for me (if you want to know what it is like on day 30 ask Pastor Faheem !). My whining made me wonder – do I think I’m christlike when I’m simply comfortable? Fasting allows otherwise buried sin in my life to rise to the surface and rear it’s ugly head. Sins like ingratitude, lack of patience and irratibility. Many of those character defects ‘disapear’ under the weight of three courses of fine dining – but thery’re not dead. Sometimes we think we’ve dealt with a character issue when the truth is we’ve just buried it – fasting digs it up. Fasting revealed to me once again my need for both a savior to take away my sins and the sanctifying work of the Spirit to restore my fallen nature to resemble Christs’.

I can’t do it on my own.

2. Jesus once said to the Pharisee’s, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven…When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:1, 16). I always thought that there wouldn’t be much of a temptation to engage in that type of action – ‘look at me I’m fasting’. I was wrong. I really wanted to tell people I was fasting. I don’t think my desire to share was rooted in wanting people to think I am super spiritual… maybe it was. Rather, I wanted an excuse if I appeared slow, tired or not all together in a meeting. I didn’t want the other person(s) to think I’m stupid or under prepared. While I was fasting I realized that I care too much about what people think of me.

3. I experienced moments of intense gratitude. On occasion when my stomach rumbled I thought of the simple fact that I could break the fast at any moment. If I wanted I could go to the fridge and grab a sandwich. What is more I could go to a nice restaurant and have someone else cook my food and clean up after me. A lot of people in the world don’t have that luxury. Their stomachs are constantly grumbling and not by choice. I was reminded of the poor. I was reminded that I am rich. I was profoundly humbled by this fact. Gratitude bubbled up in my heart but with it came a sense of responsibility. I need to be generous – ‘to those whom much is given much is required’. I was reminded of the early church – they fasted from meals to give to the poor. Remember gratitude. Every time I open the fridge. Every time I turn on the tap and drink straight from it. Every time I go with my wife on a date to a restaurant.

Remember gratitude and don’t neglect her bedfellow generosity.

4. I realized how weak and frail I am. I am so dependent and needy. God set up our bodies in such a way to remind us of that fact. If I needed reminding that I am not God fasting provided it. I’ve rarely felt so dependant on God and with that dependence came (what I perceive to be) an increased anointing. I was a guest speaker at a ministry I had never heard of before during the fast. I’ve never had a better guest speaking engagement. I felt so consciously aware of the Lord’s presence and anointing.

5. I eat a lot when I’m bored. If I have nothing going on in the evening I will continually go to the fridge, or cupboard, for a snack. I need to watch this. Food cannot become my functional savior that rescues me from the doldrums of life.

These are the five things that stuck out to me most clearly in my four days of fasting. Often, fasting is important during times of increased prayer and intercession. My one big disappointment that came out of this fast is that I don’t feel like I set aside enough time for concentrated prayer related to specific matters. On the plus side because I was so weak it felt at times like my whole life had become a prayer of dependence.

Jesus said, ‘when you fast not if’. He seems to expect his followers to fast. I would encourage you to do so. If you can’t fast from food for health reasons there are other ways to fast. Fast from media – a face book fast can be revelatory I’ve heard.

See what God teaches you.

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Serving the World: The Advent Conspiracy and Roy Stibb’s

February 7, 2012

I want to make a positive difference in the world. God has placed me where I live, with the talents I possess, with the opportunities I’m afforded, for a purpose. For a mission.

The same is true of you. Christians are called (by Jesus), the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It would sound (and be) arrogant if we claimed that we were the source of the light (‘look at me, I’m so bright’). We’re not the light. We reflect the light that comes from Jesus to us and then through us into a dark world.

I want to be part of a church that makes a positive difference in the world. God has placed each local church in a certain geographical location, with the talents it possesses, and the opportunities it’s afford, for a purpose.

Our purpose at Calvary is to glorify God by making disciples who love God, love others and serve the world. We are committed to getting God as much glory, by doing as much good, to as many people, for as long as possible, by the strength God provides.

If we disappeared from the landscape of our community we would want people to notice and care because we are striving (by God’s grace) to be a group of people that love Jesus and the city – people who live for Jesus and the good of the whole city.

In that spirit I want you to know that last week I walked into Roy Stibb’s Elementary School to meet with the principal. I was able to hand her a cheque for $ 2500 that our church raised during the advent season. You should have seen her eyes widen and light up. They are not sure yet what they will do with the money but it opens up many possibilities for them that wouldn’t be possible without your generosity.

Giving like that is an act of grace – unmerited favor. That type of generosity reflects the character of God.

You are the light of the world Calvary. Don’t hide that light under a bucket.

God Bless

And

God Bless