Saturday, April 23, 2011

Glorious Day

I much prefer this version to the viral Casting Crowns one... besides, Jeff's was first.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lenten Fast - Week Five

Suggested Fast – Food
Food is one of the most basic needs of our lives. It sustains, energizes, and heals us. Not only that, but food brings comfort; it is the centerpiece for much of our fellowship. Jesus used food as the tangible representation of His own life in one of our most important sacraments.

Without food we soon lose strength, begin to wither, and will eventually die. Long before we experience any real physical effects of going without food, our stomachs and our minds will tell us to eat. They will nag at us, complaining louder and louder until we feed the desire – all the while, reminding us of our need, of our mortality.

While our abundance in America can make us prone to gluttony (a very real sin issue), the purpose of this week’s fast is to intentionally deny ourselves of the very thing that sustains us. As the hunger grows, we redirect our appetites to the Bread of Life – Jesus, who is our true sustainer, our source of abundant life – and allow Him to satisfy our deepest pangs of spirit-hunger. It’s a good idea to use this time to confess sins and read Scripture.

As with the other fasts, you need to determine the extent and length of the fast. You may wish to skip a certain meal each day this week, or fast for a whole day, or multiple days. It is very important to make sure that you are physically able to do the fast you are intending. If you choose to fast for several days, you should consult a physician about how to do that safely.

Lord, You have built into us a need for food. You also have created it for our pleasure. Today though, I choose to lay aside this need, this desire, this comfort, in hopes of drawing close to You. As I do this, feed my spirit, nurture my soul, remind me of Your sustaining presence in my life. May each pang of hunger prompt me to pray, feasting on Your very self.

As you break the fast…

Lord, thank-you for the food You have provided to sustain my body. May I never take one bite for granted. May this food strengthen me to do Thy will this day. – Amen.

Suggested Scripture Readings
Nehemiah 9:1-3; Matthew 6:16-18

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Lenten Fast - Week Four

Suggested Fast - Work

Most of us are familiar with something the Bible calls "Sabbath". Most of us probably know that it has something to do with worship on Sunday (actually, it doesn't... Jewish Sabbath time runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.) Most of us probably believe that it is something from Old Testament Law that we are free from. In the end, most of us are clueless when it comes to Sabbath.

In his book, The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan says this:

The root idea of Sabbath is really quite simple. It's that all living things thrive only by an ample measure of stillness. God stitched into the nature of things an inviolable need to be left alone now and then. The primary way we receive this aloneness and stillness is, of course through sleep. Sabbath, however, is a form of rest unlike sleep. Sleep is so needed that, defied too long, catches you and has its way with you. Sabbath won't do that. Resisted, it backs off. Spurned, it flees. It's easy to spend most your life breaking Sabbath and never figure out that this is part of the reason your work's unsatisfying, your friendships patchy, your leisure threadbare, and your vacations exhausting. We simply haven't taken time. We've not been still long enough, often enough, to know ourselves, our friends, our family... our God.

Most of us are busy people. And here in America, it's a badge we wear proudly. It gives us status. The busier we are, the more important we must be. Or maybe people will think we're really earning our keep. Or maybe they'll feel sorry for us... probably not. More likely, they'll feel guilty and create more busyness for themselves.

At the root of our Sabbath breaking lifestyle is the great sin of pride. Pride - because people might think I'm important. Pride - because I think that I'm really responsible for making my life successful. Pride - because I think I can do it just fine without God. All of this makes us fearful of Sabbath, and so we don't do it. We stay busy, ignoring the rhythms God has placed deep inside us. Perhaps ignoring God Himself. Practicing Sabbath let's us exercise trust in God. Jewish rabbis have a saying... "we don't keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath keeps us."

This week, we'd like to encourage you to enter into the "rest of God". This is more than just taking a day off. Rather, it is a way of orienting your life toward God - to die to self and your need to be busy, to feel important. It is a time to quiet your spirit and worship the Creator - to stop your busyness and rest in His care, His love, His provision. Perhaps you can go for a long walk, "peditating" on Scripture as you walk. Perhaps you can go to the mountains, or to the ocean, and read through Isaiah 40 - celebrating the greatness of God. Perhaps it is simply sitting in your back yard, intentionally centering your relaxing, or rest, on Him.

O God, You are the Lord of the Sabbath. You planted in me a deep need for Sabbath rest and command me to pay attention to this need. Lord, I confess that I have ignored it, pushed it aside, closed my ears to its call - and have listened too much to the call of the world to be busy, to accomplish, to impress. The tragedy Lord, is that it is now hard for me to hear it at all. I repent Lord, of this sin against Your ways - of the pride that often drives it, and ask that You would help me to stop the busyness, my addiction to it, and to replace it with Your rest. Give me this week, times of refreshing with You. Open my ears to hear Your call to enter Your rest. -Amen

Exodus 20:8-11; Psalm 62; Hebrews 4:1-11; Psalm 23