Some Words on Fasting...

This Friday, we will be meeting for prayer at 7:00 at Covenant Community Church. I encourage you not only to start praying now, but to fast and pray. Fasting must be a part of our spiritual walk!

What is fasting?

Fasting is abstaining from food (or something else*, in some cases), for measured periods of time in order to heighten my hunger for the things of God.

*Note: If you have a medical condition, you can fast from something other than food!

There are different types. There is a normal fast (abstaining from food for spiritual purposes), partial fast (only abstaining from certain things, see Daniel 10:3), absolute fast (abstaining from food and water! See Acts 9:9), and we even see at times in Scripture the corporate fast (see Joel 2:15).

What’s the deal with fasting?

As human beings, we naturally hunger for things. We look for things to satisfy us. But because of the curse of sin on the world, we have a tendency to hunger for things that do not satisfy. We think that we can be fulfilled by things of the earth. We fill ourselves with food, entertainment, work, TV, and an endless list of other distractions. But the real hunger is never satisfied, because only God can do that! We know the fulfillment that comes from walking in the Spirit, serving Christ where He has called me, and giving what He has called me to give.

So fasting is the way to break away from the danger of being enslaved to food, and focusing our attention instead to our real hunger - a hunger for God. We are freed to focus on the hunger for what we really want, what we really need!

In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus said: 

"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Note a few things Jesus taught concerning fasting:

a) Fasting is expected. Jesus said “when you fast” - NOT “if you fast”. Our Lord spoke of fasting as if He was just expecting it to be a part of our walk with Him!

b) Fasting is between you and God, not between you and others. Some people were turning fasting into a show. “Look at how spiritual I am. I have been fasting for so long… I am so weak… so faint… I am so amazingly spiritual…” And if you do that, and someone does give you a pat on the back - enjoy that pat. Because that is all you are getting. You have “received <your> reward”. Keep it between you and God. It is possible for you to fast for all the wrong reasons!

c) Fasting has benefits. I am not talking about health benefits. Jesus said that God sees and God rewards. What are the benefits of fasting?

---In Isaiah 58:6-11, God gives reasons to fast, showing the benefits of it! Grab your Bible and look through these verses.

When should we fast?

  1. When we are caught in a sinful pattern. v6
  2. When we have a heavy burden. v6
  3. When we are oppressed by the enemy. v6
  4. When we want to give to someone else. v7
  5. When we need to be encouraged. v8
  6. When we are seeking answer to prayer. v9
  7. When we need to examine ourselves. v9
  8. When we need direction. v11
  9. When we feel the need for restoration / revival. v11

Fasting has a way of refocusing our spirit, our appetite, our very purpose on God Himself. Especially during the seasons of our lives when it seems we need God to show up in a special way.

Check out the following website that was passed on to me, and join me this week in fasting and prayer!

p.s. - too hungry for junk too often

Santa Claus: A Big, Fat Disappointment

My son Cade loves the Saturday morning craft event they do at Lowe’s and Home Depot. We go every week. But last week, I was horrified.

The Home Depot craft was making a picture frame, and Santa Claus himself was there. You get your picture with Saint Nick, and while you build your frame, they print the picture that you put in your new frame. When we went in, Cade walked right up to the jolly one and said, “My name is Cade, and you must be Santa.” They exchanged pleasantries and took a picture.

We made the frame, we put the picture in, and we almost left with a successful event under our belts. Then the horrific event happened. As we walked out, Santa said, “It was nice to meet you, Cody.”

I was crushed, and I hope Cade just didn’t hear this. Cody?! Who is Cody?! You are supposed to know if he was naughty or nice, you are supposed to know what he wants you to bring him on December 25, and you don’t even know his name?!

Well, it was a reminder. Only God knows you. Really knows you. Doesn’t that give you comfort?

In fact, look again at what Jesus said in Matthew 10:30: But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

Think about this. God knows how many hairs you have on your head. What is the significance of this information? What could someone possibly do with having an exact count of hairs on your head? What difference does it make if I have a thousand hairs… or none? Doesn’t that seem rather trivial?

That’s the point. God knows the most insignificant thing about you. He cares about you so much, that He even knows THAT! So whatever is burdening you, whatever keeps you up at night, whatever is troubling you, hurting you, breaking your heart… He knows, and He cares.

That’s the kind of God we have. He loves us in a way we can barely understand.

p.s. - is not renaming his son for the sake of Santa

Don’t Mistake My Tears

A good friend of mine, who has been such a blessing to me and my family, blessed me this week by taking me to “God’s Design for Disability”, a conference at John Piper’s church.

As many who read this know, my wife Erin and I have 2 autistic children. We have a heart to get a ministry started at the church to love and bless these families that are going through similar issues.

I was going to type all of the encouraging words John Piper and the other speakers gave. But honestly, I am still trying to digest it all. It was a lot of heavy stuff to take in one day!

But instead, I am just going to say: I cried a lot. Dang it, I am welling up now. Give me a second.


Here’s what I want to clear up: do not mistake my tears.

I was not, am not, tearing up because I saw a lot of “disabled” people (I did). Nor am I weepy because I know I am going home to my own “special needs” kids (I am).

These tears are tears of joy. Actually, they are the first fruits of the tears of joy I will have on that Day.

The Bible tells us, in Revelation 21:3-5: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."

The Day is coming. Wheelchairs will be obsolete. Braces and crutches will be artifacts of a world long gone. Autism will be ancient history. Downs Syndrome will only be spoken of past tense.

Replacing it all will be wholeness. Glorious wholeness. Death and disease and disability gone forever. Pain, mourning, sleepless nights… forever gone. Replaced by the glorious wholeness of all of Christ’s people as we, and this is the best part, dwell in the glorious presence of God forever. The greatest worship service of all time, because it is never going to end.

So my tears now are just the anticipation of this. Will God wipe these tears then, or only the tears associated with us coming to the full realization that is was the brutal death of God’s Son to pay for my horrible sin? I don’t know.

So do me a favor. When the tears associated with autism well up in me, don’t feel bad for me. Don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Please just smile and say, “Yeah, it is going to be awesome.”

p.s. - looking for a Kleenex

Gotta Haveta Want It!

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 
Proverbs 2:1-5

One of the most common things I hear from people when I share the Gospel with them is this: “I tried to read the Bible, but I don’t understand it.”

There are a lot of reasons for this:

I am not sure where to start, so I start anywhere.

If you pick up the Bible for the first time and just pick a random starting place (ie jump right into the middle of Leviticus), I can see why you are having problems. (Why do people do this with the Bible? They wouldn‘t with any other book!)

A difficult Bible translation.

I have no problem with the KJV, but it is a very difficult translation to read for “first timers”. And because KJV is the most widely distributed translation, this is the one people use to start reading (sometimes by jumping in the middle of Leviticus).

These things must be spiritually discerned.

We can’t accept these things naturally. (1 Corinthians 2:14) Spiritual truths are spiritually discerned.

But here is another thing: You gotta haveta want it.

When it comes to pursuing the wisdom of the Lord, this can be no half-hearted interest.

Look at the way the Proverbs writer describes going after it: receive, treasure up, ear attentive, heart inclined, calling out, raising voice. Not a casual approach to God’s Word! Going after it like my son goes after Starburst candy! (Editor‘s note: Jeff‘s son likes Starburst candy.)

You gotta haveta want it. Want. It. Like how? Like, to what extent? Notice he says to go after God’s Word as you would go after hidden treasure.

If I gave you a treasure map that leads to 5 billion dollars in hidden treasure, would you simply fold it up, stick the map in a drawer, and say, “Maybe someday…” NO! You would drop everything and go after it!

What if this map were written in Spanish? Would you just discard it. “Bummer. I don’t speak Spanish. Oh, well.” NO! How quickly would you learn Spanish? For 5 billion? You would do whatever it took to learn the language to use the map to get the treasure.

Go after God’s infinite, eternal wisdom with the same gusto

… then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (v5).

Would you go after the wisdom of the Almighty with the energy and effort you would use to go after money?

p.s. - would totally become a spokesman for Rosetta Stone.