Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Joyful Fasting

"The word of the Lord of hosts came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, adn the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah: therefore love truth and peace."
--Zechariah 8:18-19

"By the time of Zechariah Jews practiced the four regular fasts mentioned in this passage.  In contrast to the fasts tied to mourning that we see in many other passages, these fasts are to be 'seasons of joy and gladness.'  Here we find an interesting conjoining of two Spiritual Disciplines not usually thought of as going together: fasting and celebration.

"Many of those who have fasted describe the experience in joyful terms.  Dallas Willard writes, 'In fasting, we learn how to suffer happily as we feast on God.'  Augustine of Hippo writes, 'In his fasting, therefore, let a man rejoice inwardly in the very fact that by his fasting he is turning away from the pleasures of the world to make himself subject to Christ.'"
--Richard Foster, "A Year with God"

Today is the last day of our focus on fasting.  How did you do?  Did you give it a try?  Did you learn new ways to look at - and embrace - the idea of fasting?  Are you less intimidated and scared of it?  I would love to hear your stories!

Beginning with Easter, we begin a month of Celebration!  As you near the end of your time of fasting - maybe this weekend (many of us, including the Sunday School kids are fasting Good Friday to Easter Morning) - think of your abstention as a joyful thank-you to God for a blessing in your life!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


"Have you ever fasted to prepare for something?  If so, what was the result?  Think of something coming up that frightens you - a doctor's appointment, a plane trip, an exam or presentation.  Pray about it during your time of fasting today.

"Is fasting ever a bribe to get God to pay more attention to the petitions?  No, a thousand times no.  It is simply a way to make clear that we sufficiently reverence the amazing opportunity to ask help from the everlasting God, the Creator of the Universe, to choose to put everything else aside and concentrate on worshipping, asking forgiveness, and making our requests known - considering His help more important than anything we could do ourselves in our own strength and with our own ideas."
--Edith Schaeffer, L'Abri

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fasting - Worthy and Difficult

"In a more tangible, visceral way than any other spiritual discipline, fasting reveals our excessive attachments and the assumptions that lie behind them.  Food is necessary to life, but we have made it more necessary than God.  How often have we neglected to remember God's presence when we would never consider neglecting to eat!  Fasting brings us face to face with how we put the material world ahead of its spiritual source...

"Perhaps we can see, then, that the discipline of fasting has to do with the critical dynamic of accepting those limits which are life-restoring.  Our culture would seduce us into believing that we can have it all, do it all, and (even more preposterous!) that we deserve it all.  Yet in refusing to accept limits on our consumption or activity, we perpetuate a death-dealing dynamic in the world.  That is why the discipline of fasting is so profoundly important today."
--Marjorie Thompson, "Soul Feast"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Mar. 28, 2010

Palm Sunday!!!  The palm branches were waving, the kids were marching with noisemakers, a feast was to be had!  A good day for a parade... 

We started off the day with Education Hour:
* The children learned about Jesus and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane - and about what it means to let God be in charge.
* The confirmands talked about the unexpectedness of Palm Sunday and the forgiveness found in Jesus' last 7 statements before he died.
*  Tom and Mari's group talked about the Christian Writer and Thinker, Karen Armstrong.
*  And the Wired Word talked about the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church - acknowledging that this is not specific to only the Catholic Church.  They asked the question of when does silence become sinful?  And to what degree do you protect an institution such as the church, before protecting the people it serves?

Worship was full of fun and surprises!  Palm branches waved.  Mark had the children parade around the church - palm branches waving and noisemakers sounding!  Pastor Penny's sermon focused on the donkey in the story...  What would the donkey owner have thought when these disciples came to take it?  What purpose was behind riding in on a small donkey - one who had never been ridden - instead of in a mighty chariot?  In what ways do our choices reflect bringing Jesus to others in a humble way?  What is the "donkey" we use to carry Jesus to our world?  A totally new way to think on Palm Sunday...

Fellowship time was loud and festive - with a feast set out for all!  A wonderful kick-off to Holy Week!

Friday, March 26, 2010


"In our time people are longing for authenticity, particularly in their life of faith.  Fasting nurtures authenticity.  Fasting helps us draw near to God honestly and thankfully because who we are and what we desire are exposed.  We can give those desires to God in intercession and confession.

Are you willing to embrace discomfort as you create space in your life?  What would you like to learn from it?"
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"Our addiction to filling space and our discomfort with truth make the discipline of fasting challenging.  A pervasive cultural myth says that if we are well-adjusted people, we will be happy all the time.  A common religious myth tells us a similar lie - that God will make everything easy and peaceful.  These myths have impressed on our hearts the lie that if we are experiencing discomfort, we're doing something wrong or God has abandoned us.

"Fasting involves discomfort, sometimes the physical discomfort of hunger, other times the discomfort of disregarding our desire for media or shopping or some other treat.  Our culture tells us that discomfort indicates something is wrong.  Yet as we fast, we affirm the opposite.  Fasting acts out our commitment to the belief that there is more to life than transitory fulfillment of the moment's needs or wants.  Ultimately fasting affirms that God loves us and desires that we draw near to him.

"Because fasting is so profoundly counter-cultural, it may feel uncomfortable at first...  But we can continue to numb ourselves with a fast-paced life and endless indulgences; or we can embrace the challenge of creating space that might feel uncomfortable at times but will deepen our capacity for rich joy and powerful prayer.  Fasting brings us that challenge."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

True Hunger

"Another reason to fast is to listen to what is truly inside us...  Because time goes more slowly while fasting and we step outside our daily routines and habits, we have time to notice those inner voices we usually miss...

"...What is my true hunger?  In what ways am I satisfying myself too easily with toys and mindless pleasures?  What does my desire for God really look like?  These are some of the questions we may find ourselves considering when we fast, and the answer to these questions will nourish our life of prayer."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who Should Fast?

"If you desire to make more space in your life for God, if you would like to deepen your prayer life, fasting can be very helpful.  Look at your life.  What activities are crowding out prayer?  What activities or foods are becoming more important to you than God?  Is something in your life taking up more space than you want it to?  What activities are siphoning off time, money or energy in a way that isn't necessarily sinful but isn't helpful eaither?  Consider fasting from that activity or that food for a day or a few days.  Ask God to help your fast create more space for him.

"If you would like to grow in thankfulness and experience heartfelt gratitude for the blessings in your life, fasting is a helpful discipline.  If you would like to pray more fervently for someone who is ill, the poor or those in need of the gospel, fasting helps.  If you know you are being sucked into our consumer culture, fasting creates a small oasis of time and space for God's truth and grace to surround us.

"If you have a specific prayer request weighing on your heart, fasting will almost certainly help focus those prayers.  If you are not entirely sure how to pray for that need, fasting will help you make space to read the Bible, and it will enable you to listen to God for guidance in how to pray.  Fasting will help deepen your prayers, add power to your prayers and remind you to pray.

"...Who should fast?  Anyone who wants to draw near to God."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Monday, March 22, 2010

For a Spiritual Purpose

"The impact of fasting comes from the unexpectedness of doing something different.  During a fast, when we catch ourselves moving toward that habitual food or source of entertainment, we remind ourselves that God is more precious to us than anything else.  We are reminded to pray.  The unexpectedness of our temporary choices during a fast jolts us, surprises us and wakes us up...

"...Christian fasting is for a spiritual purpose only.  The goal is to draw near to God in prayer.  Motives matter in just about everything we do, but in fasting our motives and purposes are absolutely vital.  When a fast slides towards the goal of losing weight or manipulating God into doing what we want because of our great exercise of discipline, we have lost the heart of Christian fasting."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Don't forget to take time for God when you fast!  I'm hearing lots of great stories about people giving something up...  But I'm not hearing the "God part"!  Where is God fitting in?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Mar. 21, 2010

Hmmm...  Megan's on vacation.

What happened this week?  Leave comments to help me create a post when I get back!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Everyday Disciplines

"We engage in any kind of discipline because we believe our lives are shaped by the habits we engage in every day.  I take out the garbage so the house doesn't smell.  I balance the checkbook to make sure I have money in my account.  I exercise regularly so my blood pressure and other health indicators will stay at healthy levels and so I can sleep well at night.  All of us engage in countless small disciplines that make our lives work well.

"We can take habits too far or not far enough.  I could choose not to exercise at all.  When I do that, I stop sleeping well, I gain weight and my health suffers.  Or I could exercise all the time until it becomes a compulsion and I can't think of anything else.  Tht would be equally destructive.  Instead, I've tried to figure out the right amount of exercise for my body.  In the same way, I could check my bank balance every day or not at all.  Instead, I try to track money in a way that keeps my spending wise and under control but doesn't allow me to become obsessed.

"Spiritual disciplines are similar.  We have a lifetime to explore the spiritual disciplines and figure out what works best for us, what helps us draw near to Jesus and grow in faith.  What works at one stage of life may not be so effective at another stage, so we need to try new things from time to time.  At all stages of life, we can fall into excess very easily.  We can ignore the disciplines that might help us grow in faith, or we can become obsessed with them and go too far.

"Tony Jones, in his helpful book The Sacred Way, writes, 'The goal of Christian spirituality is to be enlivened by God's spirit.'  He goes on to affirm that the words practice and discipline are helpful terms to consider when discussing what Christian spirituality looks like in everyday life.  Since ancient times, Christians have understood that everyday spirituality thrives because of the spiritual practices or disciplines we engage in day after day and week after week...  Jones recommends that we imagine the parallels between the Christian life and learning to play an instrument or improving at playing chess.  Just as discipline and practice are equally essential in growing close to God in Jesus Christ, allowing God's Spirit to enliven us."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

What spiritual habits are you practicing this week?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not Self-Punishment

"Linda, a medical assistant who was raised in a Roman Catholic family, remembers the Fridays of her childhood, when her family ate macaroni and cheese or Tuna Helper instead of meat.  She reflects, 'Fasting in my childhood was about self-punishment because we are all sinful.'  She does not fast today because she doesn't believe God wants us to punish ourselves.

"Linda is right that God doesn't want us to punish ourselves.  Fasting as self-punishment denies the freedom God gives us in Christ.  Fasting as self-punishment does not create space for prayer, give energy to our prayers or enable us to listen to God."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Please don't fast as a form of punishment!  Fasting is a gift - between you and God - to experience the love of God in new ways.

"Fasting provides time to back away from excess in order to pray.  In that backing away and in that praying, we often rediscover a healthier pathway for everyday life...  When we fast, we affirm that we are healthiest when we embrace rhythms.  Sometimes we need to celebrate abundance; sometimes we need to submit ourselves to discipline...  If we do it well, fasting more than any other spiritual discipline affirms the integral relationship between body, soul and spirit."

There are so MANY other reasons to fast...  please try to look past the old misconceptions and see it as something new - as a gift!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fasting Gives Us Freedom

"Fasting gives us the freedom to feast.  If we consume food and possessions and entertainment abundantly each day, we lose the capacity to celebrate.  When we fast, we are better able to experience the great joy of feasting.  And feasting after a fast nurtures gratitude to God for all his gifts.

"Fasting makes space for God by giving us freedom to set aside our habits for a brief time.  Fasting lightens the load by yoking us with Christ in new and unexpected ways.  Fasting calls us to pray, enables us to pray and gives power to our prayers in ways we cannot completely understand.  Fasting engages us experientially in the mystery of God's love and power.  In our day we need fasting more than ever."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

This month, all month long, we are talking about fasting.  We are encouraging everyone to try it.  Even if it's only one meal.  One day of "tweeting."  One week without chocolate. 

The good news?!  April is the month of celebration!  We will be celebrating the sacrifices made.  We will be celebrating the gifts in our lives, the people in our lives, the ways the God moves in our every day life!

So there's light at the end of the tunnel...  Get started!  What will you fast this week?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spiritual Poverty

"Material poverty is one thing, and spiritual poverty is another.  Fasting provides the space and freedom to pray fervently for the spiritual needs of others.  Fasting helps us pray that people close to us and people far away would find truth, peace and joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Our world is broken, and we long for the coming of the One who will restore all things and make all things new.  We fast to express our longing for the completion and wholeness that Jesus will bring when he returns.  We fast to mourn the incomplete and unfulfilled world we live in now.  We fast to pray for healing in our broken world, to ask God to bring wholeness, health, life and peace."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Fasting isn't just about ourselves...  It's about spending time with God to, also, pray for others.  Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking that our spirituality is only about Me.  But, God invites us to pray for those around us as well.  When our heart is breaking for a friend or a loved one...  When there is a group of people suffering and enduring hardships...  When we feel the need to help and don't know how...  We can fast - and pray.  We can ask for God's guidance and showing us how to help, how to listen, and how to care for those in pain.

The next time your heart is breaking for someone else, consider a fast.  Pray that God shows you how to be God's love to that person or people.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Today More Than Ever

"In the Western world we need fasting today more than ever.  Because we are submerged in a sea of advertisements that encourage us to consume endlessly and mindlessly, we need times to withdraw from our consumption to remember what really matters.  We need moments of freedom from the forces in our culture that encourage acquisitiveness.

"Because the media exposes us to the small number of the super-rich, we forget the very large number of the poor.  We eat the foods of affluence and purchase the toys of overconsumption.  We need moments of freedom from our obsession with riches so we can remember the poor.  More than 300 passages in the Bible indicate God's concern for the poor, and fasting gives us the freedom to pray for them and experience solidarity with them."
--Lynne Baab, "Fasting"

Remember back in December when we talked about the spiritual habit of Simplicity?  Fasting calls us back into that habit...  Put down those things that crowd your life... that take away from what is truly life-giving.  Enjoy the freedom of saying "no" to the things that take priority over the people and faith... and say "yes" to God.

And as you take the time to give up those things for a day or a week...  Remember the people that don't have those things to give up.  I love chocolate - how many people in the world, starving for basic nutrients, have never had chocolate?  They're waiting - and hoping - for a simple bowl of rice.  As I take a week without chocolate, what can I be doing to help the hungry of our world?  I can volunteer with hunger groups - like Feed My Starving Children.  I can send money to charities who feed hungry kids.  I can pray.  And pray.  And pray.  Pray for those who are hungry - and pray that my eyes and heart may be opened in new ways to make a difference in their lives...  And who knows?  God may show me a whole new way to live in order to support those around me...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Mar. 14, 2010

A Spudtastic day to be at St. Paul's Church!

We began the day with our Education classes talking about various topics:
* The children talked about Jesus cleansing the temple, and were reminded that our sanctuary is a holy space.
* The Confirmands talked about communion - what it means and why we celebrate it.  They were reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us, and that communion reminds us of whose we are.
* Wired Word talked about the new credit card laws - our values and decisions in borrowing money and where our Christian values and Captialism collide or overlap....
* And Tom and Mari's group focused on the Christian Writer and Thinker, Thomas Merton.

Our worship was led by Dan Foster, a life-long Methodist and student at Luther Seminary.  He continued the discussion about Fasting, reminding us that we do it to remember the suffering that Jesus did for us.  He reminded us of the healing that can happen in our own lives, when we take the time to focus on God's love and sacrifice for us.  (And Peter shared a beautiful solo performance of "The Love He Gave"!)

After worship, the Mission Trip Team hosted "Spud Sunday" - a baked potato bar fundraiser.  It's always fun to walk into the Fellowship room, decorated with colorful tablecloths and Mr Potato Heads everywhere!  We ate, talked, and laughed!  Thanks to all of you who took time out of your day for this fun event, the Mission Trip Team was able to raise $400!  Thank you so much!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Fasting should always be done for a purpose. 

"Without a purpose, fasting can be a miserable, self-centered experience."

Here are the 10 major catagories - main reasons to fast:

1.  To Strengthen Prayer.  There is something about fasting that sharpens our prayers, that gives us passion, and urgency.
2.  To Seek God's Guidance.  Have a big decision to make?  There is a Biblical precedent to fast while praying about the choice.  It is said to help give clarity and make us more receptive to God's love and guidance.
3.  To Express Grief.  Grief for a death, for our sins, for the sins of others, or the sins of our nation.
4.  To Seek Deliverance or Protection.  Protection from enemies, from abuse, from gossip, from those who seek to put down and criticize our faith - all those things that threaten to make us retreat from the world.  We can fast and pray that God be with us in those dark hours.
5.  To Express Repentance and a Return to God.  We can express our grief over our sins - and then make the choice to change our ways.  Fasting can be a signal of that new commitment to God.
6.  To Humble Oneself Before God.  Fasting, is a physcial expression of humilty before God.  (Which is another reminder not to brag about it to others!) 
7.  To Express Concern for the Work of God.  A person might fast and pray for the work of God in a place that has experienced a tragedy, disappointment, or apparent defeat.  Some feel burdened to fast for the cares of the world - and seeing how they may be of service.
8.  To Minister to the Needs of Others.  This is an unselfish fasting - concern for others brings you to prayer and fasting.  An example, fasting a meal once a week and using that time to volunteer or giving the money to a charity.
9.  To Overcome temptation and Dedicate Yourself to God.  Think of Jesus in the wilderness - facing temptations and when overcoming them, dedicating himself fully to God.  Sometimes we face tremendous temptations in our lives, fasting is one way to seek and ask God for guidance and strength in those moments. 
10.  To Express Love and Worship to God.  An act of sheer devotion - an act of finding your greatest pleasure and enjoyment from a life with God!

--Donald Whitney, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Long?

So you've picked your thing to fast.
You've decided how you're going to spend time with God during the fast.

Now...  How long do I have to fast?!

"It's interesting that Jesus gives us no command regarding how often or how long we should fast.  Just like all the other Spiritual Disciplines, fasting is not to be a legalistic routine.  It is a privilege and an opportunity to seek God's grace that is open to us as often as we desire.

"How long should we fast?  It's up to you and the leadership of the Holy Spirit."
--Donald Whitney, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life"

Good news!  It's up to you and the Holy Spirit!

You may fast a day, a half-day, a week, a month, a season...  It's all up to you - no one else can tell you what to do.  So, yes, it's another piece to decide on before you start - but so cool that it's your decision!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fasting Experiments

Here are some ideas of ways to fast:

*  Fast one meal a week.  Spend your mealtime in prayer.  When you feel hungry, take some time to read scripture, pray, listen for God.  Tell God what this self-denial means to you.
*  For a period of one week, fast from media, sports, shopping, reading, or use of the computer.  Dedicate that time you now have to God.  What feelings arise in you?  What thoughts interrupt your prayer?
*  Make two lists: one of needs, one of wants.  Ask God to show you where to fast from some of your wants.  Offer to God the time you spend hankering for your wants.
*  Abstain from purchasing morning coffee or daily soda or evening movies.  Offer the money or time to God.

If you try one, let us know what was meaningful for you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


As you begin to exeperiment with fasting, here are some questions to to reflect on during your experience:

* When you feel empty or restless, what do you try to do to fill the emptiness?  What does this tell you about your heart?
* What is your attitude toward fasting or self-denial?
* It what ways do you currently deny yourself?
* When has self-denial brought you something good?
* What has the experience of fasting been like for you?
* Where do you operate from an entitlement mentality?  How can you wean yourself from this way of life?
--Adele Calhoun, "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook"

Monday, March 8, 2010


"Fasting reminds us that we care about "soul" things.  We care about the church.  We care about the world.  We care about doing God's will.  Thus we willingly set aside a little comfort so we can listen and attend to the voice and nourishment of God alone.  For God can give us grace and comfort and nurture we cannot get on our own."
--Adele Calhoun, "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook"

Have you decided on what to give up?  What your distraction is?
Have you thought about how to spend time with God instead?

This is why we do this...  For the grace and comfort that God alone can give. 
SO much better than a silly TV show... or a bag of chips... or a Facebook game...
Don't you agree?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday at SPUMC - Mar. 7, 2010

A gloomy day outside - but lots of joy and celebration inside!  This Sunday we began our conversation about Fasting...  And we celebrated Mel and Sandy's continued service as our Financial Secretaries - for DECADES!  The blessings they have bestowed on this congregation through their gift of service is immeasurable!  We thank them from the bottom of our hearts as they retire from this position... 

During the Education Hour:
* The Children talked about finding ways to put Jesus first in their lives.
* The Cofirmands didn't meet - since they came in Thursday night to experience the quiet and holy space of Open Sanctuary.
* Wired Word talked about 2 recent celebrity suicides and the fact that in America suicide has a higher death rate than homicide...  Where do our Christian values fit into this discussion, and what does the Bible say about the meaning of life?
* Tom and Mari's group about "Christian Thinkers" focused on CS Lewis today.

Worship was uplifting and fun as we began the conversation about Fasting!  Jill did a fantastic job explaining the basic concept using a jar of M&Ms and a golf ball - an explanation that made ALL of us understand a little clearer!  And the conversation continued into the sermon time.  We were able to see past the idea of only fasting food - and of making ourselves miserable and weak in the process!  We shouted out ideas of the other things in our lives that distract us from the important things in life - all of which could be an example of something to be fasted.  We began to see that fasting can be done with joy, humbleness, and intention on seeking out God's presence in our lives.

As the month continues, I invite you to continue asking questions and talking to others about their thoughts and experiences with fasting.  I've already heard some amazing stories of how some people in our own congregation have been affected by participating in a fast!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do What?

Now, you've examined your life...  You found some things that seem to take away from your time and devotion to God.  You began thinking about ways to spend time with God in the midst of fasting:

Read scripture
Be still
Go to church (or church activities)
Read inspirational Christian books
Write in a journal
Write down things you are thankful for
Spend time with a friend
Give money that would otherwise be spent on what you're fasting - to a charity

What do you plan to do?  Share your ideas!  We can all inspire one another!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Have you taken some time to examine our life?  What are the things that get in the way of spending time with God?

Junk food
Video Games
Talking on the phone

What is yours?  And if you were to give it up - for a short period of time - how would you use that time and energy to focus on God?  Curious minds want to know...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


"The discipline of fasting is meant to be one of joy and freedom. The basic definition of fasting for a Christian is 'saying no to otherwise normal activities for the sake of intense spiritual focus...

"...Fasting is traditionally associated with food, but it isn't limited to food. Fasting can be a time of denial of anything that allows us to avoid God, such as exercise, novels, TV, entertainment, shopping and conversation. In and of themselves, none of these things are bad, but when they get in the way of our worship and prayer life or keep us from serving others, then we need time of doing without them in our lives so that we can reevaluate our priorities."
--Spiritual Disciplines Devotional, by Valerie Hess

So... fasting starts with examining our lives.  What in our life, distracts us from what is really important?  From time with God?  From time with our families and friends?  From a healthy and whole lifestyle?

What are the things in your life that hold you back from a deeper and more fulfilling faith and family life?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What is a Fast?

"A fast is the self-denial of normal necessities in order to intentionally attend to God in prayer.  Bringing attachments and cravings to the surface opens a place for prayer.  This physical awareness of emptiness is the reminder to turn to Jesus who alone can satisfy."
--Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, by Adele Calhoun

Fasting is simply this:  Giving up something that is a normal part of our routine, in order to make time and space for God.

Maybe for you, it is giving up lunch, or meat, or caffeine... Maybe instead of eating lunch, you spend the time in prayer and scripture reading and donate the money you would have used for the food to a charity.  Maybe when you're craving a burger, you take a moment to give thanks to God for what you have, and have some pasta instead.  Maybe, as your craving for caffeine intensifies, you find yourself leaning on prayer to get you through the craving...

Maybe it's TV or video games, watching the news at all hours, or tending to your social networks online...  Maybe you give these things up one day a week, or a couple of hours a day.  I used to have the TV on in morning - and would get side-tracked from my reading and prayer time, it would interfere with exercising, and slow me down when getting ready for work.  As I've been fasting TV in the mornings since the beginning of Lent, my mornings are more focused, relaxed, and allow for more time with God.

There is no one way to fast.  A fast may look different for each of us.  It is not just about food.  And it shouldn't be about making ourselves miserable...  In fact, the Bible says we are not to be miserable when fasting, because, in point of fact, we are not miserable.  We are feeding on God.  It should be an exercise in joy and freedom!

And so, we continue to learn and grow and experiment with what fasting means for each of us...

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Month of Fasting

Oh boy...  What are we getting into now?!


Seriously.  What do Methodists need to know about Fasting?  That's not part of who we are, right?!

Hmmm...  Yep.  It is.  Sorry to spring this on you.

Fasting is a Spiritual Habit (or Discipline) that goes back thousands of years, across all faith traditions.  It's actually mentioned in the Bible more times than even something as important as baptism!  (Baptism - 75 mentions, Fasting - 77!)  And John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had plenty to say about Fasting!  For a time, he wouldn't even ordain new Methodist Ministers unless they fasted 2 days a week!

So yes.  Fasting is a deeply spiritual practice.  It is a Biblical practice.  It is a Methodist practice.

It is also probably the most feared and misunderstood of our Spiritual Habits.

So I hope you'll stay in the conversation this month of March - go on a journey with us to open your mind and heart to how God can be at work in your life through the practice of fasting.  I bet you'll learn a lot - and be able to put aside some common misunderstandings!

Join us in worship on Sunday for your "Intro" to Fasting!