Thursday, June 22, 2017

What I learned this week

I have had some eye opening but difficult revelations over the last few days.  It started when I was asked to do a 3 day fast before a prayer/counseling meeting.
Ug.  I hate the topic of fasting, I don't really get it, and I really like food.
 I've tried fasting and it didn't work, I didn't make it...
What's the point anyway?

I've never understood the reason, so that made it really difficult for me and I usually gave up after a few hours.  I felt like I was trying to gut it out on will power alone, and that seemed silly.  It just seemed like we were supposed to sacrifice in hopes that God would do something we were asking for.  That is manipulation, and probably not a good plan with God.  I've heard so many different teachings, I wasn't sure what to think, so I gave up on it.

This time was different.  The lady that asked me to do it was going to meet with me to talk about it first, but when that time came she said she felt like I was supposed to pray about it myself and see what God would reveal.  The day before I was supposed to start, I hadn't really looked into it, I'd just decided on some things to fast.  But then... I was on You Tube and a video came up on my suggestions called "The Atomic Power of Fasting" by Dan Mohler  Ok then.
- If you're interested.  It's long, but really good.

It was long, so I'll just share what I got out of it.  I am a slave to my carnal self.  I have a job, but outside of that, I pretty much just sit around doing whatever I want.  I seriously lack motivation to do anything other than whatever I feel like at the moment.  I live a comfortable life.  While there are plenty of angles to this, I suddenly saw more clearly how self focused I am.  I have a ton of free time at this point in my life and I use it to watch tv and do other similar mindless pointless things.  I don't see anything wrong with those activities by themselves, but my constant feeding on them is not good.  As I listened to the teaching and began to see, I was reminded of good ol' Romans 8 (Thanks Pastor Kevin for making us memorize that one)  vs 5-8

  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Whoah.  That's intense in light of what I'm now seeing!  I had just recently tried to do some basic physical exercises and found I could no longer do them.  My body was showing me the results of sitting on my butt for months.  It is shutting down.  That was a physical demonstration of this truth, but I'm pretty sure it applies in many areas of my life.  

So I went into my semi-fast with this in mind and quickly found myself feeling better, my hope levels lifted, I felt motivated to do something!  I didn't do a full food fast, I just had a small breakfast, a salad for lunch, and then skipped dinner and all snacks.  I also chose to cut out tv/movies and attempted to stay off Facebook.  I added to my life more trips to the gym.  I think that even that little effort was beneficial.  I had fallen into a stupor.  I had become a slug.  Breaking away from that for even just these 3 days was a big deal for me!  Where before I had been feeling awful, hopeless, unmotivated,  tired....  I made a quick turnaround and now I see a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.  

Back to my title, what does this have to do with Christianity?  I think a lot of us got into it for selfish reasons.  To feel better, to go to heaven, to fix our problems, to get cool stuff....Yet the message of the gospel is the opposite of that.  Jesus told His disciples to lay down their lives, pick up their cross, deny yourself, die to yourself...  It's not about us.  It's all about Him.  Loving Him, serving Him, serving other people.  In fact, one of the few places I can think of where it talks about fasting it says...
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" Isaiah 58:6-7

What?  To choose to do something other than meeting your own needs.  That makes so much more sense in light of the whole Bible than starving yourself in order to manipulate God!  It's the whole point of everything!  We were saved so that we could love others.  It is for Freedom Christ has set us free!  Not so we could indulge in every carnal desire that crosses our minds.  We have to break free from the chains of the flesh.  Wow.  

So I know that this isn't new to many people, and not even new to me intellectually, but as happens sometimes, it just hit me fresh this week and really lit up my inner lightbulb.  Being a Christian is not marked by church attendance, tithing, missions trips, moral behavior, a cheerful disposition, or a perfect life.  To be a Christian, a follower of Christ, is to lay down my own desires and take up His heart of Love.  That's what Jesus did.  He is our example to follow.  He set aside His Godhood, became a tiny baby, born in a stable and grew up, lived the human existence and owned it.  He loved the people that society scorned, He took abuse from the religious leaders, and ultimately died the most painful death for the sake of mankind.  If that is our example, how can we imagine that Christianity is just about getting us to heaven?  How can it just be about fixing life's problems so we can be happier?  This is hard.  Simple, but hard.  But I hear it's worth it.  :)

This is what I learned this week.  Now the hard part, walking it out.  I've been on this journey with God for about 20 years now.  I grew up in church, but 20 years is about the time I began to own it, not just go to church because my parents went.  I have believed in God my whole life, but the Christian life is a journey.  It's been tough, it's been fun, it's been painful, and it's been full of joy.  Like any adventure, it varies from season to season.  What will the next season hold for me?  God only knows.  I'm choosing to trust in Him  to mold me into the person He designed me to be.  

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