How do I fast?

Lent has arrived and with it a time to reflect and seek God as we look forward to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday (Easter, for all you bunnies out there.)  🙂

One practice that is helpful in this time leading up to Holy Week is fasting.  Fasting is going without food for spiritual purposes.  Jesus fasted in the wilderness prior to the launch of his public work.  It was a time of empowerment.  Fasting is a powerful practice that does a few things:

1. Fasting reveals what really controls us. When I go without food (or some other thing) I begin to realize how much I am under the thumb of that thing.  By body screams for it.

2. Fasting reveals our need for God. When I fast from something I have to depend on him to have the will power and focus.  I begin to recognize that I should depend on him and not the things I consume.

3. Fasting is a “gut check” on our lives. Fasting naturally creates reflection.  Every time I hunger or crave the thing I desire, I am reminded of what is most important and why I am doing it.  Fasting forces us to look into the mirror and examine our lives, our priorities, and how we even spend time.

So, how do we get started? (I can tell you are really eager!)

Here is some wisdom in fasting compiled from various authors:

> Do not fast if you medically can not. Find something else to fast from.
> Determine the purpose of your fast. For me it is to kill my food idolatry.
> Determine how long you will fast. Don’t be afraid to start small!  Baby steps.
> Determine one kind fast you will do. What are you going without?
> Be aware of how the fast impacts you physically & spiritually.
> Use the time you would be eating to connect with God. If you get a hunger craving  you can use that as a reminder to pray for someone.
> How will your fasting impact those around you. Fasting isn’t something you should do publicly, but you may want to share what you’re doing with people affected.
> Break your fast intentionally & nutritiously. Don’t go bonkers!  Been there, done that.  Hello pizza buffet, where have you been?!!!

I plan to fast as we approach Holy Week.  I’ve realized again how much I look to food to comfort, to relieve stress, and to be my companion.  My hope is to rely on God and find everything I need in him.  After all, he is God.

What types of things besides food are possible things to fast from?

Let me see your eyes!

I have a tension.  My daughter enjoys talking to me in the evenings and I like to get to my “ME” time when they are finally in bed.  (I know I’m selfish.) Once she was talking to me and I was grunting and nodding along and standing at the door with my ear into her room, but I was looking away.  She kept talking louder and I told her to not speak so loud.  I told her I was listening.  Frustrated, she finally just said,

“Dad let me see your eyes when I’m talking.”

I heard her, but I wasn’t truly listening.   She wanted my attention and my focus, because it communicated value.  Hearing wasn’t enough – she wanted me.

I’m trying to be an apprentice of Jesus and I’m challenged and amazed at how Jesus took the time to lock eyes and give his undivided attention to people.  Jesus was busy, he traveled constantly, he was surrounded by crowds and pressing needs.  He above all, deserved some “ME” time.  However, he took time for all kinds of people to really see them… really understand… really love them.

Could an “interruption” today, be an opportunity to be like Jesus?

Who today will need to see my eyes and have my attention?

A bloke is coming to hang with Watermark

Kim Hammond, an Aussie missionary to the United States will be joinging us this Sunday morning and evening. Kim is serving at Community Christian Church and is the National Director of Forge.

We are excited to have Kim join us this week and I look forward to brushing up on my Aussie slang and learning more about how to be on mission with God right where I live.

Join us Sunday in the flesh or online LIVE at 9:15 & 11 :00 am at Grand Haven High School.
Then join us Sunday evening from 5-7 pm at the Community Center in Grand Haven for Core Focus.

Forgiveness is…

What are we doing when we forgive someone?

To forgive is a decision to release or set someone free that has done wrong to us. It is canceling the debt we are owed by them.

Lewis Smedes suggested that three things happen when we forgive another person:

1) We rediscover the humanity of the person who hurt us.

When we are hurt we can find ourselves defining the person who hurt us by what they did to us.  When we forgive we’re reminded that the person who hurt us isn’t just defined by what they did to us.  They are no different than us –  a sinner – a person who experiences failure – someone with weaknesses.

2) We surrender our right to get even.

When I’m hurt I want to lash out and settle the score.  But when we forgive we take the person who hurt us off our hook and place them on God’s hook.

3) We begin to renew our feelings about the person who did us wrong.

It may take some time, but when we forgive we begin to pray that God would bless the person who hurt us.  We begin to wish them well (even if partially mean it.)  This is sure sign that forgiveness is freeing us.

I resist forgiving because I don’t want to give up my right to get even.  I don’t want to let them go because I feel powerful when I hold something over another person.  I avoid forgiveness because I forget that the person who hurt me needs it just as much as I do.

But, the truth of forgiveness is found in a quote by Corrie Ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor, who said,“Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness leads to freedom.  For the person who hurt you and ultimately you.

Have you ever forgiven someone and actually wished them well?