Archive for March, 2012

17
Mar
12

Perspectives

There are few times of the year I like better than this time right now. Warmer weather… (of course which brings growing grass and lawn mowing with it)… budding trees and flowers (of course, those also bring the sneezing and watery eyes of hay fever)… Spring Break family vacations (of course those can be SO expensive and crazy!)… NCAA basketball tournament in full swing (of course that can sometimes mean heartbreak and disappointment, especially if you are a Missouri fan)… longer daylight (which, of course, messes with your sleep cycles)… and everything else that is wonderful and joyous (or not) about the season!

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Perspectives are important, aren’t they? Everyone’s got one. Look at the picture I’ve attached here; what do you see; a rabbit? Or a duck? Which is right?

The wonder of it all is that God freely gives us this world and the seasons and events of our lives and – in trust and love – allows us to choose the relationship we will take to all he has provided. My prayer today is that we can choose to say “thank you” for the gifts we have received so abundantly from God’s hand and wait to pass judgment on those that don’t seem so much like gifts. 

Furthering our conversation on fasting, I would like to share this item a friend sent to me. It offers two perspectives on fasting that I found particularly inspiring:

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them. • Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life. • Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light. • Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God. • Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify. • Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude. • Fast from anger; feast on patience. • Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism. • Fast from worry; feast on divine order. • Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation. • Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives. • Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer. • Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance. • Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness. • Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others. • Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth. • Fast from discouragements; feast on hope. • Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift. • Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm. • Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire. • Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity. • Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence. • Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

  •   William Arthur Ward (American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994)
09
Mar
12

got fast?

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I can’t really say for sure how it happens. I go to a brand new place, surrounded by brand new people, many of whom I have never met before and who know NOTHING about me, but eventually it happens. I somehow get tagged as “Likes to eat” guy. I suspect a conspiracy is afoot.

Or maybe it is just the pure power of observation on the part of the people around me.

Could it be that they notice that whenever a birthday cake is delivered, or the bulletin-stuffing ladies bring donuts, or the ice-cream truck drives within three miles of the church, I bolt immediately to the front of the line with my napkin tucked into my shirt, plate and fork in hand, barely containing the urge to drool?

I don’t know.

But the fact is I DO love to eat. Which is why I am so NOT a fan of fasting. But in the study we are doing for Lent, the primary emphasis of the book we are reading, “A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor” is on fasting as a critical spiritual discipline. The author Chris Seay makes the point that most of us who live in the developed world have no concept at all of scarcity when it comes to food. We almost always have it in abundance and in great variety at our fingertips. As a result, we become completely acclimated to a life in which we are able to gratify just about any urge the instant we feel it… never having to say “No” to a hunger, a thirst, a rumbling, an itch, or a physical yearning.

And then he starts getting a little too familiar when he asks readers to consider what a life of instant gratification might actually be doing to the health of our souls, not to mention the health of our bodies.

And so, both as an invitation to stand in solidarity with the poor of the world (even for a fleeting moment), but also as a way of reminding ourselves of what Jesus said while being tempted in the desert, “[You and I] do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” (Luke 4:4), Chris invites us to fast.

Some folks are doing it… me among them. And I will tell you quite frankly, it is not fun and it is NOT easy. But it is eye-opening. And it does put me, even temporarily, in a place of real vulnerability and weakness. The fast also brings with it a peculiar kind of yieldedness, accompanied by a strident voice that says, “You know… you are not quite as much in charge of things as you might imagine you are, buster.” This then followed very shortly thereafter by a gentler, more compassionate (though just as strong) voice saying something like, “Be still. Be still and know. Be still and know that I am God.”

I am not sure I will ever outrun the “Likes to eat guy” reputation. But my hope and prayer is that I will also add, “Knows that God is God and I am not, guy” label to that as well.




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