Fasting and Emptying

To fast or not to fast. That is not my question. I think we should fast, and I think the Bible assumes we are going to fast. In the Gospels, Jesus seems to talk about fasting as a given. Three times in Matthew 6 he says, “when you fast,” Matthew 17:21 talks about fasting and prayer for exorcizing a demon (different topic but still), in Mark 2:20 Jesus says the wedding guest will fast after the groom is taken away, and so on. In my humble opinion, the Bible highly assumes and possibly even expects that Christians will fast. But why?

Well, there are a few reasons for fasting and most often what is thought of is during times of intense pressure or lamenting (weeping, sadness, etc.) we fast to seek God or to move Him to hear our prayers. That is an excellent conversation and one that is worth having. For now, I want to go a different way. I want to look at one reason for fasting that has to do with what you get. Yes, you get something out of fasting too. You get hungry.

I know that one is a no brainer you get hungry, no duh Mike. To be more specific you get empty. When you fast for blood work you are doing it so that the blood test is not tainted by anything you have eaten or drunk. Everything we take in has vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Those things can show up in our blood test and change the results. Look at an obvious example, if you are taking a blood test to see where your iron levels are then eating liver before the test will not give you the right results. You need to go into that test empty to get the right results. Fasting for spiritual reasons is similar. By neglecting our body of food, entertainment, pleasure, or whatever we are emptying ourselves of things that we need and desire in order to see where we are at. We come to God with that hunger and see what is going on with Him and with us. We strip away the other things for a time to become empty before Him. In that emptying and presenting we are offering ourselves as vessels to be filled back up. This is one of the reasons we do not show off our fast to other people.

Jesus in Matthew 6:18 says that those who parade their fast before men are filled up with praises from those men. They have their reward. They emptied themselves and the people around them filled them back up. A fast that is dedicated to God and that seeks Him will be filled back up by God. It is really just a simple math problem. Fasting is you minus food/pleasure/etc. or 1-1=0.  0 is the empty state and anything you add to 0 is the reward. But it starts with being empty.

I have had fasts where I find God new and fresh and others where nothing major really happens. I am ok with that. The point for me has become to present myself as an empty vessel before the God of the Universe and day here I am Lord so with me as you please. It is not the easiest thing but it sure is worth it.

Just a thought,

Mike

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Willing

2018 has come and gone and that means it is time for a new word. If you don’t know I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I feel like they are lacking but a word, a word can carry so much more than a resolution can. For example, maybe you decide your resolution is to lose weight. Great have fun with that, but what about eating right, maintaining a proper body image, learning what type of daily eating works best for you, loving your neighbor, being a good parent, a good spouse, spending time receiving your identity from God. A resolution of weight loss cannot help you achieve those things but striving to live out the word healthy can. Healthy can be healthy relationships, a healthy body, and a healthy relationship with God. A word can carry so much more than a simple resolution can because it can be applied to every single area of your life and regardless of where you are at in life every area can always be improved on.

My word this past year was shalom. Not peace, but shalom. Shalom means more than peace it means soundness or completeness and I feel like this year was pretty sound. My relationship with my wife was better than ever, my daughter still likes me, we fostered another little boy who I still love dearly and cry for at times, but I am ok with the situation. I am almost done with my degree, and we are in the process of doing something huge and stressful but through it all, I feel content and fully at rest in Christ. It has been hard, but I have been able to keep going back to God to ask for His peace and soundness in my life. Like my past words (stronger, audacious, inspire, and indomitable) I will keep shalom with me and it helps it is tatted on my arm. I will keep going back to a desire to be complete in Christ, but it is time for a new word.

For 2019 I desire to be willing. If you know me, you might be thinking I don’t need to be any more willing but hear me out. Yes, I do love an adventure, but I am not always willing to do what I want or should. First, I want to be willing to have my faith make me uncomfortable. I want to be willing to do more for my wife and family. I want to be willing to do things I have not done so I can do things I have not done. I want to be willing to seek God so honestly that if He wrecks my plans, I am ok with it. I want to be willing to be open to new ideas and new ways of attacking life. I want to be willing to go or to stay. I am not going all Jim Carry in Yes Man, but you get the idea. I want to be willing.

It is not like the idea is way out there either. The disciples gathered and prayed for boldness. Paul prayed that he might be bold. I understand that bold and willing are two different words, but I want that same willingness that they had to ask for boldness. I want to be willing to seek God for direction, support, and blessing. I want to be willing to be told no to things I desire. Jesus says the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, and I want my spirit and my flesh to be willing. If an opportunity arises, I want to be willing to seize it (after prayer of course). I want to be willing to see what God would do this year. Who knows maybe nothing great or amazing happens, maybe I just find myself more willing to trust God and do hard things for my family. But maybe just maybe something amazing happens. Either way, I am willing.

Just a thought,

Mike