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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God in a box

I have the song Listerine from Bush stuck in my head. You know the one they use in the mouth wash commercials “Listerine, Listerine, don’t let a day go by without using Listerine.” It’s a catchy tune I am just surprised it was done by a rock band.

OK OK OK yes yes I know the song is not Listerine, but that is what I keep thinking. I suppose it is because Glycerine makes no sense whatsoever. So I have to then change everything to make it make sense to my brain.

I think we do that with Jesus a lot. There are a few pictures that get floated around about Him because it is hard to make sense of it (fully God, fully man). Sometimes He is looked at as just floating around the Earth during His ministry time. Glowing halo, white robe just floating over the Earth. Sometimes He is seen as just mean. He said things like hate your mother and father, and I brought a sword, and do not do this or that. I’m talking about table flipping Jesus. Sometimes He is just a misunderstood Rabbi. He was a great guy, taught some good stuff, but didn’t want to pay taxes so they killed Him.

There are plenty of other bad ideas too, but these are my favorites. None of them true but none of them completely false either. I mean Jesus was glowing white and majestic (Matthew 17), He got mad and flipped tables (Matthew 21), and He taught some great things (All the Bible). So again not all the ideas are all wrong just not all right either. There is a little truth in some peoples ideas of Jesus but not a lot of truth

We should not approach Jesus with an idea of who He is and then try and fit Him in that box. The people of Jesus’s day missed seeing Him as the Messiah because He did not fit in their box. I hope we don’t miss Jesus in our day because He won’t get in the box. I hope instead we come to Him and say teach me who you are.

When we do that things get crazy. When we approach Jesus with an attitude of submission and desire to see Him, He shows up. He starts showing us stuff about loving our neighbor, and what it means to be the least of these. Stuff about how we are loved by God. Things about how we can be better husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. When we come to Jesus and say show me who you are, instead of saying Jesus get in the box stuff happens.

Just a thought,

Mike

That Blows my mind

So I have never technically been late to pick my daughter up from the bus but there have been times when it was pretty close.  I mean look down and go OH CRAP!  I have been late for work once or twice but not often.  I usually miss the right time to say something nice to someone.  I also have a slight tendency to dominate a conversation.  That last one has nothing to do with this article but I thought it best to admit that.

I have these issues and others because I am a little self centered, and a whole lot human.  God however does not have these issues.  He has this amazing ability to be right on time and right on track all the time.  I want to drop three basic theology words on you.

  • Omnipresent
  • Omniscient
  • Omnipotent

Let’s break these words down.  Omni means all.  Present means relating to now or current.  Scient refers to knowing (think science), or aware.  Potent means strength or effective.  When you add it all you get the following statements about God.

  • God is Always Present (or Always Current and that will preach).
  • God is All Knowing (or Always Aware and that will preach).
  • God is All Powerful (or All Effective and that will preach).

I am reading through the Gospel of Matthew right now and I noticed in the first chapter there are 4 fulfilled prophecies regarding the Christ.  It’s like watching a movie huge explosion or when it starts with the main character dying.  You’re like WOW where can it go from here.  That is chapter one in Matthew.  I mean there are like 300-400 prophecies pertaining to Jesus and you get 4 in chapter one of Matthew.  Then there are another 4 in chapter two.  It’s like woe hold on let me get back in my seat first please.

God can do that because He knows everything, is everywhere, and can do everything.  Try and think about not having time.  Go ahead I’ll wait.  Ok done?  I bet you couldn’t.  I know I can’t.  We were created in time so we have that limit.  Try and remember what it was like to be born.  Go ahead I’ll wait again.  Done?  Did you?  No you couldn’t because you have a limited memory and limited knowledge.  Try and pick up the house.  You can’t do that either.

Now I want you to try and think about this.  God exists outside of time.  To Him there is no yesterday or tomorrow, but instead everything is current.  He sees your birth and death at the same time.  I mean it boggles the mind to try and comprehend but He our yesterday and tomorrow are His now.  WOW!  That blows my mind.  What blows my mind even more is God sees me failing and falling short 10 years from now.  He sees it as if it is happening right now, and yet He loves me the same anyway.  That is just amazing.

Now think about this; If the same God who sees everything, and was able to prove the coming of Christ ahead of time can then make it happen can’t He also take care of you.  One of the most amazing things I read in Scripture is when Jesus talks about the sparrows and hairs on your head in Matthew chapter 10.

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

What Jesus is saying here is actually very profound.  He is saying that the all knowing, all seeing, all powerful God knows you personally so don’t worry.  Again I say WOW!  How can I possibly worry about tomorrow when I know that God says it is in His hands.  My fear is just that I will lose the false sense of control and power I think I have.  I think that tomorrow is in my hands but it is not.  I have no more control over tomorrow then I do control over yesterday.  I mean sure there are things I can and need to do but ultimately it is not in my hands.

We have a saying in my family when life gets all jacked up; Who’s hands?  It is about trusting that God is in control and when He is in control we can relax.  Our job is just to walk out His will.

Right now I am struggling with direction (par for the course).  There is something I want to do but see no way to do it.  I am torn as to if it is my will or His.  If it is His I should and will trust that He knows what He is doing.  If it is me then well lets not go there.  So what do I do?  I trust that the one who knows everything, is everywhere, and can do all things loves me and knows my name.  I trust that if I ask Him then He will tell me when the time is right.

Just a thought,

Mike