thoughts on fasting

Our church is taking this week to focus on prayer and fasting. We passed out a devotional guide to reading, praying and fasting this week. Today is the first day of it.

Last night, I preached on Fasting.

I want to share some awesome quotes that I found while preparing. Be blessed. My sermon title on fasting was “Jesus is our top priority!”

Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus’ words-
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Thomas a Kempis
“Jesus has many lovers of His kingdom of heaven, but he has few bearers of His Cross. Many desire His consolation, but few desire His tribulation. He finds many comrades in eating and drinking, but He finds few hands who will be with Him in His abstinence and fasting…But those who love Jesus purely for Himself, and not for their own profit or convenience, bless Him as heartily in temptation and tribulation and in all other adversities as they do in time of consolation. And if He never sent them consolation, they would still bless and praise Him.”

Glen Argan
“A spiritually awake person would see everything as gift, even suffering. We deserve nothing and yet we so often act as though we deserve everything. Nothing should be taken for granted. We should say thank you every day to God and to each other for all that is provided for us. This is one reason why fasting is such an important spiritual discipline. Not just fasting from food, but also fasting from cars, shopping centres, the news – whatever we have an inordinate attachment to. Fasting can help re-kindle our gratitude for all that we have been given.”

Dallas Willard
“Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food.”

J.I. Packer
“We tend to think of fasting as going without food. But we can fast from anything. If we love music and decide to miss a concert in order to spend time with God, that is fasting. It is helpful to think of the parallel of human friendship. When friends need to be together, they will cancel all other activities in order to make that possible. There’s nothing m*gical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have cancelled the meal, party, concert, or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfil that priority.”

Isaac of Syria
“When the devil, the foe and the tyrant, sees a man bearing this weapon [fasting], he is straight-away frightened and he recollects and considers that defeat which he suffered in the wilderness at the hands of the Saviour; at once his strength is shattered and the very sight of this weapon, given us by our Commander-in-chief, burns him.”

coins

“Coins are like people, every single one has value.” -J Greene

You may have noticed that I have tweeted this quote a few times recently. Its a big deal. It doesn’t need to be that important to you, but it sure is to me.

People matter to me. They really do.

Well, for years I have had a great hobby of picking up spare change on the ground. I absolutely love it. I am often walking with my head down because I am looking for pennies.

Three days ago in the Wal-Mart parking lot I found 39 cents (1 quarter, 1 dime, and 4 pennies). Today walking to Circle K with several youth to get Polar-Pops, I found 8 pennies.

It excites me so much.

Here is why? Coins are money. They have real worth and value. Even a penny is US currency. It may not be much, but it still has worth. And it all adds up. Enough pennies can buy a drink. A lot of pennies could buy a car.

The same is true for people. God made them all.  There is no way that we can live by Faith in Jesus and act like anyone else is not important (or valuable).  From the dirty trailer park kid to the loud and annoying grown man to the uneducated lady, all of them matter. Christ loved them and so should we.

People love to ignore pennies or dirty coins. People also ignore the marginalized people.

My hobby of picking up every single coin I see reminds me of Jesus and his concern for people especially the outcasts.

I am hoping to follow this theme much more in the future. For now, I will continue looking for coins. They minister to me. God uses them to make me lowly and humble and mindful of people.

creator God

I have been preaching a 3-part series on “knowing God as creator” at the chapel services of CAL-Southwest. I have really enjoyed it.

Here are some videos to help lead you in worshiping God as Creator! These videos bring tears to my eyes. God is amazing!

teaching youth the Bible

For over 7 years, Valeria and I absolutely loved working with the young people of Fairdale. We loved it so much that we still find ourselves spending a large portion of our time with the Youth. We enjoy it! But God called me to be the Pastor of FBCF, and so now we do not get to teach the Youth on Wednesday nights.

When I read this article recently called Your Students Can Handle Expository Preaching, I was reminded of our main strategy in Youth Ministry… simply explain God’s Word to them. Wednesday night after Wednesday night for many years we made sure each kid had a Bible in their hands, and we explained the Truth to them verse by verse and book by book. In my mind, this is the best way to teach youth. God’s Word is the power!

Fairdale High School FCA

One of my most enjoyable times of the week is the 30 minutes I get to spend at the nearby high school, Fairdale High. I go there once a week to be a part of their Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting.

God is working there, and I am blessed to be a part.

This is a picture of Coach Renfroe speaking to the students.

stuck in my head

2 Corinthians 4:5

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

This verse continues to blow my mind.

  • We have a message we proclaim and IS NOT US.
  • The message we proclaim is JESUS AS LORD
  • We are to be YOUR SERVANTS
  • for Jesus’ sake

This verse is loaded. Meditate on these 4 points for some time. Allow God to give you a goal and purpose in life.  This verse could be it.

For anyone who wants to say that Paul’s message was not the same as Jesus’ message, they are wrong. This verse is an excellent example.

Josh Powell interview

Our former Pastor, Josh Powell, is one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s brightest young historians. He was recently interviewed along with two other men by Robbie Sagers for Trevin Wax to “to address issues such as the importance of studying the Convention’s history, the relationship between Southern Baptists and evangelicals, and the need to learn from the past for greater fidelity to Christ in the future.”

JP’s answers are a blessing. Here are a few of his statements:

“The world needs humble servants who would look at any task, even washing lepers and caring for them, and say, “Jesus is Worthy.”” -JP

“We should trust the power of God’s truth in the hands of God’s Spirit-filled people.” -JP

You can read the entire interview here.

1 Peter 4:10

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

What a great verse! What is your gift? Everybody in the body has gifts and ought to be using them. There is no such thing as a Christian or church member who is not “serving one another”. And there is not such a thing as a Christian or church member without something to offer. We all matter. Again, we all matter! Lets all contribute.

“working properly”

When I was in high school, on two different occasions, I had in-grown toenails in my big toes. To understate it, they hurt so badly.  They were so bad that they kept me out of basketball for about a week each time. I ended up having them surgically removed. After that, I was back to normal. Here’s the point, without my toes (or toe) working properly, I could not do what I needed to do.

Well in Ephesians 4, Paul is writing about the church as a body. The body of Christ is to be united.  And in the body’s unity comes strength, and this strength is seen when the church is effective in faithfully serving the Lord in the world. In 4:11 he says God gives the church people to be in position to serve the church. The way those people (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) serve the church is by equipping the saints (all members of the church) to do the work of ministry.

And that work is “for building up the body of Christ” (v.12) until we all are mature and Christlike.

So the first half of Ephesians 4 is about the church and what makes it healthy and strong and what builds it up.

Then at the end of this section, in verse 16, he says “when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Our focus is to be working properly. All of us to be working properly. The body will grow and the body will be built up in love when all of us begin working properly.

Lets start doing our part. We all have different parts. Lets start doing it.

Here are just a few examples:

  • About a month ago, we had a single lady here desperately in need of help. A church member noticed me speaking with her. That church member (after speaking with me) then went to the grocery store and bought a load of groceries. We gave them to her. We were careful to explain why we were doing this. In the last month, we have seen God moving in her heart. She is confessing sin and embracing Christ. She is on her way to becoming a church member.
  • We had our VBS last month and it was awesome. We had many people come out to serve the church and community. It was encouraging to see so many people wanting to serve. One lady in particular told me that it had been some 15-20 years since she had volunteered her time to serve the church. What a blessing to see God moving in her life!
  • Another family nearby has been coming more and more involved over the last year. We have been able to assist them in various ways over this year.  Of late, they have even started to now help us in assisting others. Bills have been paid, food and clothing provided, small crises have been worked out, and now they are speaking with us about wanting to follow Christ. They are on their way.
  • Another lady that we have had a good relationship with for years, has recently turned her life over to Christ. Jesus saved her. For the last month, this lady has been meeting one on one with an older lady in our church to be discipled. God is working in her life, and she will soon be baptized.

These are just a few of the many examples of how we are on our way to “working properly” around here. God is the source. His grace is our strength. As we are working properly,  we are seeing the body growing and being built up in love.