Holy Spirit

Worship Praise Singer Black Africa African Church

Us, Not They

As I was praying this morning, I noticed I was praying as if I was somehow separate from the people I was praying for. I had built a mental fence between them and me. I was praying “they” when the Holy Spirit wanted me to pray “us.”

My thinking was wrong because I recognized them as generic believers in Christ Jesus. I understood a small part of their struggle, so I carried their need to our Father. And I was confident that the Holy Spirit had led me to pray for them in the name of Jesus. That was proper and good, but I saw their problem incorrectly; my thinking was wrong. Now I understand that “us” is an object pronoun while “they” is a generic third-person pronoun, so why was I praying for generic Christians?

God stopped me and corrected me. He does that for those He loves (Hebrews 12:5–7). Within the Body of Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. We are blood relatives by Jesus’ shed blood. Like our bodies, there are many members in Christ’s Body, and they aren’t all the same. We have many parts: eyes, ears, heart, liver, and so forth.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.1 Corinthians 12:12

Shaquille O’Neal is 7’ 1″, so his nose is a long way from his toes, yet both are members of the same body. All believers in Christ Jesus are blood relatives; only distance separates us. When we consider Christ’s Body, it’s a long way from Indiana to Hunan Province in China, yet Christ’s Body is in that province and Indiana.

If I talk with someone about a family member, I say “we” or us,“ not ”them“ or ”they.“ If asked if there are other Christians on my dad’s side of the family, my answer would be, ”In my family, we have many believers in Christ. God has blessed us with many who are pastors or missionaries.“ Our hearts and minds need to say ”us,“ not ”they.”

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Who Did You Say Jesus Is?

Years ago, I worked with a software architect that made a trip to the headquarters of Microsoft® in Redmond, Washington. While there, he emailed our development team, giving us a first-hand account of a fictitious encounter with Bill Gates at a local Wendy’s® restaurant. His story was entertaining but insightful and pointedly honed to speak to some bad thinking in our group. His email was masterfully written.

A Different Jesus

When we look at the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, we find a similar but far more adept message to those Christians and us. At one place in his letter, he wrote:

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

2 Corinthians 11:4 NLT

The apostle Paul was writing to Christians. There are now, and always have been, people trying to lead believers away from the solid truth of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, the Son of God. Let’s not become weary or confused or abandon God’s work in us for the “next amazing thing.” Let’s cling to these words:

3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

Ephesians 4:3-6

We shouldn’t search to find what God has already given us: our place, purpose, and life in the true Jesus. If someone is preaching a new “Jesus,” they have been tricked by the enemy. As firm believers in Jesus, our Savior, we must remain like military guards, keeping out enticements that misrepresent Jesus. You know Jesus; rest in Him. You can search the world and never find more than the Christ who found you where you were. Who did you say Jesus is? For those that are His, He is our Savior, Shepherd, Redeemer, Ransom, Resurrection, Brother, and Friend.

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1: “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues.” – Matthew 10:15-17 NLT

Creche

Let Us Celebrate Cristes Maesse

The word for Christmas in Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ. This phrase was first found in a manuscript written in 1038 AD. A word closer to our word, Christmas, is Cristes-messe, found in an 1131 AD manuscript. In Dutch, the word Christmas is Kerstmis; in Latin, it is Dies Natalis, and from Latin comes the French Noël. In Italian, Christmas is Il natale, and in German, Christmas is Weihnachtsfest which means sacred vigil. 

Controversies 🙁

The celebration of the birth of Jesus has a long and messy past. The first evidence of the feast came from Egypt in 200 AD. Egypt played a vital role during the early Church. Still, there has never been any agreement on the year or day of the birth of Jesus. Christmas has also long been a controversial celebration. In England, Christmas was banned by an Act of Parliament in 1644. People were forced to fast, and shops were ordered to be open1.

Nevertheless, regardless of edicts and theological proclamations, Christians have felt in our souls that we should join together around the birth of Jesus, independent of denominational differences. All of us should thank God for begetting His One and Only Son. So, let us do so. Let us set aside all malice or contempt and corporately humble ourselves, worshiping God and celebrating Jesus for being the pilgrim that made the only way of salvation, for we are all sinners saved by grace.

Rejoice!

This coming Sunday is the day we jointly celebrate the birth of God’s Beloved Son, born in a manger. Let us rejoice in God’s prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 (ESV): “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Merry Christmas!

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[1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm

Clouds In My Coffee

Clouds In My Coffee

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Flash!

Today is National Cappuccino Day, so I can use coffee in my post!

I’ll bet you can’t remember who sang a song with the phrase “clouds in my coffee.” There are no fair Googling lyrics! I was listening to that song today, and the “clouds in my coffee” phrase caught my attention. I mean, it says “coffee”; how could the song not be a hit?

I got to thinking about clouds in my coffee. I nearly always drink my coffee black. However, when I pour cream into my coffee, it does look like billowing clouds. That is, until I stir it. Then the coffee and the cream are indistinguishable from each other. 

The Holy Spirit Does Disrupt Us

Just like cream clouds are disruptive to black coffee, so is the Holy Spirit when He comes into our lives. I think “clouds in my coffee” is a good analogy for receiving the Holy Spirit. When He first comes in, He does disrupt us. 

We all receive the Holy Spirit at the time we are saved. Suddenly, God is inside us, and we are energized new Christians. We run around to all of our friends and tell them our good news and encourage them to accept Jesus. This usually severs those old friendships because we no longer have the same worldview or interests. 

People are often afraid to teach about the Holy Spirit, which is disappointing. There are some basics that we need to know. For example, when we talk about the Holy Spirit, we often use the Old English word “indwelt.” The definition of indwelt means to be permanently present. A Christian indwelt by the Spirit is indwelt by God. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Ephesians 2:22)

Hyper-Awareness

We become Christians because we become hyper-aware of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus and our wretched condition. That hyper-awareness is called “conviction,” and the Holy Spirit is the Person of God who does this for us so that we see the truth of the Gospel. (John 16:8–11)

The Holy Spirit unites believers with Jesus and places believers into the body of Christ; the body of Christ is the Church. The Holy Spirit also unites believers with Jesus in His death, enabling believers to live victoriously over sin. (1 Corinthians 12:13, Romans 6:1–10)

We receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of our rebirth. And the Holy Spirit sovereignly endows spiritual gifts or abilities for service to every believer. ( Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4) However, there is more that God makes available to believers. If we become hungry for God, God will give more of Himself to us. The Bible says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Recognize the Holy Spirit of God lives “in” every believer. However, it’s like that cream you pour into your coffee. You have a cloud of God in you, but God may not be in all of you. You may be holding on to things of the world or shutting God out because you want to be in control of your career, your lifestyle, and your money.

God Will Give Us More

However, when we ask for more of God, God will give us more of Himself through the Holy Spirit and stir us up. One of the things Jesus does is baptize with the Holy Spirit. We know this because John the Baptist testified,” ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'” (John 1:33)

With a greater fullness of God within a believer, the Holy Spirit guides and empowers the believer who yields to God and submits to God’s Word. (Romans 12: 1, 2; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16) When we meet these conditions, the believer lives in the power of the Holy Spirit and produces the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16, 22, 23)

Aspects of Salvation

See, that wasn’t so difficult. Of course, many aspects of salvation, sanctification, the works of the Holy Spirit, and so forth often cause separation between believers. This separation is unfortunate.

It’s good to embrace the understanding that God has given us, but we should not shut out fellow believers who emphasize other aspects of salvation. We should fellowship with all Christian believers. We are to be known by our love. But, we must not bring into the Church people that embrace heresies, doctrines not found as truth in the Bible.

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woman's hands on a Bible

Ask For the Order

Throughout my life, I’ve owned several small companies and worked for large corporations – sadly, I’ve never owned a large corporation. 😉 One thing that was consistent within all these businesses was this: Always ask for the order. When you are doing a sales call, this idiom means enjoying your conversation with your existing client or a prospective client, but before the conversation wraps us, always ask for an order for whatever you are selling. Make the sale.

Vague prayers

I’ve noticed that there are a lot of Christians that pray ambiguous prayers. By ambiguous, I mean prayers that are “unclear or inexact.” Yes, God indeed knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and His will is unchanging, but He has made it abundantly clear that we are not to just toss a prayer to Him with little or no expectation as to His response. Consider for a moment the parable Jesus taught us about prayer.

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Luke 18:1-8 NLT

Clear, Consistent, and Correct

Jesus told us to persist in prayer. We must make our request clear, consistent, and correct! How can we know when God answers our prayers if we never made an explicit request to Him?

We see in Christ’s parable of the unjust judge that Jesus expects us to pray with consistency. The widow didn’t change her request every time she came to the judge (waffle). No, it was the same request. Our prayer requests should be consistent. We are warned in James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

We are to pray correctly. Jesus warned us directly not to prattle on in our prayers. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:7) And,You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3)

Jesus mediates, and the Holy Spirit intercedes

We are to come before the Father, through Jesus, our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5-6), with clear, consistent prayers that align with the will of God. You may ask, “How can I pray within God’s will?” Well, we need to understand that, as Christians, the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.Romans 8:26-27

So, when we pray, we typically should “ask for the order,” for Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.(Matthew 7:7) However, there are times when we just need to pour our hearts out to God. That’s a good thing. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. We can continually pray, even when we run out of words or don’t know what to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

That’s the 411 on prayer. Let’s pause for a moment and consider how loving God is to us. He is so interested in us that He wants us to continually stay connected to Him through prayer!

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The Roach Mobile Home

Our Praise

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

God is good to His children. Good beyond what we can understand or fully grasp. His love is active love. He is constantly at work in everything. By faith, the Spirit of Truth leads us into the unknown. We enter by the name of a Man we’ve not seen, whose greatness we cannot comprehend, to do a work that is not ours, by abilities we don’t possess, so our Father may glorify His One and Only Son.

I want to share an experience my family and I had when we were preparing to minister through foreign missions. I hope that you find encouragement from our amazing God, the God that did the impossible for us.

The Roach Mobile Home

Because of a delay in our departure to Romania, my family and I were thrown into a difficult time when we were homeless and without an income. Living in Florida, we rented a cockroach-infested mobile home by the week. While amid this filth, the Holy Spirit “fell upon me” and gave me a promise. Here is what I understood from God:

“There are some situations that are delaying your departure. I am fixing those. While I do, I am picking you and your family up and putting you in a new place, a safe place. It will feel like a vacation. It will be a good place for you. You will have an income. You will know when to leave and go to Romania.”

Our Deliverance

That day I called a man I’d worked for. He immediately offered me a software development contract. We drove to Tampa and found an apartment in a large complex near where I’d be working.

Our life there was a vacation. We had a swimming pool close to where we lived, lots of open, green spaces for the kids to play, an income, and more. It was a joyful time. Only later did we learn that the previous occupant of our apartment had been a dope dealer. However, during the whole time we lived there, a spirit of peace covered the apartment complex. God changed the nature of an entire apartment complex just for us!

Our time there was safe, but the complex became rough again at the end of our stay. Police cars were coming at all hours of the day and night. But it was time for us to go. God had opened the door for our foreign missions adventure!

Our Praise

Indeed, God had picked us up from a terrible situation and sat us in a place of rest while He cleared the way for us. This was the beginning of a phrase our family continues to use today: “Every delay is a good delay.”

God is amazingly good to us. He sees us and knows when we are genuinely in need. He makes a way where there is no way. How can we not trust Him and find our joy in Him? Praise be to the God that saves completely!

Amen!

Click if you want to know the gory details and God’s great blessing. ⤵️

Why We Were Homeless

When my family and I prepared to move to Romania to be missionaries, we were given a date when we would move. We sold nearly everything we had, and I quit my job. Then our departure schedule got pushed back. Suddenly, we found ourselves with no income, no departure date, and no place to live.

Our wandering

At first, we found a small motel we called home, but the cost wasn’t sustainable. Then, a local missionary family (and friends) opened their home to us, but our delay continued. Finally, we found a mobile home to rent. We paid by the week, and the mobile home park was filled with the dregs of society.

Our mobile home was full of cockroaches! We had to keep our eating utensils in plastic bags as well as plates and cups. We were greatly concerned for our kids. We never left them alone or allowed them to play outside our trailer. Instead, we took our kids to a public park. We had rented a house already occupied by an army of critters. To this day, we still refer to it as the “roach motel.”

God’s Love

At this point, we were beginning to worry. We had budgeted and saved for life in Romania. Most Romanians lived on the equivalent of $50 a month at that time. We budgeted for $500/month but were stuck in America, where $500 didn’t go very far. Our savings were rapidly shrinking.

One night, as we sat on a filthy couch and watched the cockroaches climbing the walls in the kitchen, the Holy Spirit suddenly fell on me. I don’t want to mess with your theology, but I have no other way to explain it. I stood up, looked around at the disgusting conditions, and spoke what the Holy Spirit communicated to me. Here is what I understood from the Holy Spirit:

“There are some situations that are delaying your departure. I am fixing those. While I do, I am picking you and your family up and putting you in a new place, a safe place. It will feel like a vacation. It will be a good place for you. You will have an income. You will know when to leave and go to Romania.”

Deliverance

My wife and I thanked God and rejoiced. I thought I should call a guy I’d worked for in the past. I called him, and he immediately offered me a software development contract. Within days, we moved to Tampa, Florida.

We found an apartment in a complex in the city, close to where I would be working. We were confident that it was the right place for us. It was summertime, and a swimming pool was within 50’ of our apartment. There were plenty of green spaces for our kids to play in, and we felt safe. I met some other people I’d worked with when I started work. It was great.

We lived there for probably six months. The whole time it felt like we were on vacation. Then the door opened for us to move to Romania. At the same time, domestic problems in the complex began happening. The police were constantly coming to the complex. We learned that the previous occupant of our apartment had been a dope dealer.

Our Departure

We packed our suitcases and moved to Romania. God was so good to us. He made a way for us where there was no way. He pulled us out of a terrible place and put us in place with a long history of not being safe, but He made it safe. It was safe the whole time we lived there. He gave us safety, an income, and a place to regroup. Then, at precisely the right time, He opened the door and moved us.

The Two Lessons We Learned

My family and I learned two critical lessons from this experience. Sometimes, God tests us for our good. We learned that we were “all in” for Jesus. And we learned that God would do astonishing things, like change the conditions of a large apartment complex, for us when we remain in His will.


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Pizza Restaurant Meal Italian Yummy Food

The Same is The Same Until It Isn’t

The Same Thing May Not Have the Same Results

I know Einstien defined insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing but expecting different results. Still, the same is the same until it’s different. This is a lesson that young people rarely learn, but adults know as true.

Just recently, a local Pizza Hut® closed. For as long as I can remember, it was our area’s preeminent Pizza Hut® restaurant. Its core business was seated customers. We’d go there, and the jukebox would be playing and people talking and everyone spying on the type of pizza the many waitstaff drew from the kitchen. It was a fun place, a destination for Friday night family outings and Saturday night high school dates.

That Pizza Hut® buzzed with customers for 50+ years, and then it didn’t. That thing called COVID–19 killed the owner’s business model. Now it’s being converted into a seafood and chicken restaurant. That Pizza Hut® restaurant was the same until it was different.

God Changes Things

This life lesson is found in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit told Paul to warn the captain that they should stop their voyage and spend the winter in the closest port. But the captain and the owner of the ship disregarded Paul’s warning. And why not?

The captain and the owner of the ship had made this journey to Italy many times. Each of their voyages had been successful. So, they reasoned that concern from a Roman prisoner was an insufficient reason for them to change their journey. Every trip had been fine, but this time it wouldn’t be.

10 “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” 11 But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. – Acts 27:10–11

Whether discussing pizzas, nautical journeys, or conversations with loved ones, we need to keep an eye on the Holy Spirit’s newsfeed. We need to ask ourselves, has God changed times or circumstances? Might this be the last time we talk with our child before Jesus returns? Is this the last time we may have the privilege of talking with our dads before God calls them home?

God Desires Us To Live in His Will

We are not to live in fear or worry, or sadness. None of those is God’s will. We find in Psalms how God would have us live.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.”

Psalm 143:10 (New Living Translation)

Our prayer must be, “Oh my God, lead me forward on a firm footing.” God is patient, but when He acts, He typically does so suddenly. Let’s remember the characteristic that Jesus said we, as Christians, have.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

The Creek Don’t Rise

We are not our own; we have given our lives to God. So, let’s walk on God’s firm footing. Let’s make all of our plans be subject to His will. Let’s apply that Appalachian saying, “The good Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise.” This places our plans under God’s will.

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Spiritual Sweat

If I asked you why you sweat, you’d likely answer, “To cool my body when I’m overheated,” and you’d be correct. However, there are many other reasons why we sweat.

Benefits of Sweat

Beyond cooling, our sweat detoxes our bodies of heavy metals, such as mercury found in all seafood. Our sweat also helps eliminate dangerous chemicals, such as the traces of cyanide found in spinach. And our sweat helps to cleanse us of harmful bacteria.

As we see, our sweat not only works to keep our bodies from overheating, it also pushes harmful things out of our bodies. Sweat is pretty impressive, and it can serve as a metaphor to help us understand how we become more Christ-like.

Spiritual Sweat

We know that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). My metaphor is not intended to condemn but to teach.

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

2 Timothy 2:21

Finding the Dishonorable

We can’t clean it if we don’t know it’s there. So, how do we find the dishonorable things in our lives? We find them primarily through the blessings Jesus has given us: loving God and people, prayer, the Bible, worship, fellowship, helping others, sermons, our local congregation, and so forth.

All of these help us find any dishonorable things in our lives and learn how to cleanse ourselves. But there’s more. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit alive in us, and He brings His fruit into our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23)

Set Apart as Holy

As we walk in faith, the Holy Spirit causes His fruit to grow in us, and this expansion pushes out the spiritual toxins and chemicals and heavy metals that have been building up in us our whole lives. The Holy Spirit’s expanding fruit in us pushes the harmful stuff out, similar to our bodies’ sweat.

Just as sweat cleanses our bodies, the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual sweat so we will be a clean vessel, set apart as holy.

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arm breaking a chain

Victory in Jesus

Perhaps it’s only me, but never before have I felt so utterly surrounded by evil, bad behavior, and lies. Leaders in our nation and the world would rather speak ten thousand lies than utter a single truth. No longer is there any restraint for them. Morality holds no sway. Ablations (surgical removals) are applied to their consciences. They withhold no evil for themselves and disregard every good thing.

On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

Psalms 12:8

A Delicacy

Evil has become a delicacy, a thing to be desired and savored while they can bear no righteousness in their sight. But as King Soloman wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun.Ecclesiastes 1:9 We should not marvel at these things for this is the natural order of humanity. King David’s Psalm remains faithful and true:

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief [bad behavior] and gives birth to lies.

Psalms 7:14

It Doesn’t Look Good for the Wicked

What are we to do? Pray and trust the one true God. That’s what King David did, and he tells of the future of the wicked.

15 He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. 16 His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. 17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalms 7:15-17

Good News

Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me 'ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood
- written by E M Bartlett

Will we see these judgments? Maybe yes, maybe no, but we can rest in the Truth of God; Jesus is the Truth. These judgments will come upon the wicked. But we cannot find comfort or joy in them. We must find our victory in the God that cares for us.

Youtube: Guy Penrod singing "Victory in Jesus"
Youtube: Guy Penrod singing “Victory in Jesus”

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kid playing guitar

A Lesson From My Sears Guitar

I learned to play guitar when I was in grade school. My parents doubted my commitment, thinking it an interest that would soon pass, like my love for school. They bought me the least expensive guitar that Sears carried. I’m confident Sears gave the guitar to my parents, just to get rid of it. With that Sears guitar in hand, my dad said, “Teach yourself to play a hymn, and I’ll get you a better guitar.” That was like saying, “Win the Indy 500 in this VW Bug, and I’ll buy you a real car!”

The strings on my new guitar were nearly impossible for my young fingers to press down to form a note – “a” musical note and chords were impossible. Since this was way before the Internet, the only guitar information I had was a booklet that came with my Sears acoustic. So every day after school I’d go to my bedroom and try to figure out how to read music and how to make my guitar play those notes. Having at least a modicum of musical talent would have helped.

Show Time!

Finally, the day came when I was confident. Dad got home, Mom finished up in the kitchen, and then I said I wanted to show them something. With my track record, those were frightening words to my folks! They both sat down on the sofa, braced themselves, and stared at me; I don’t blame them.

I ran to my bedroom and ran back into the living room with a hymnal and my guitar. I don’t remember which hymn I chose; no doubt, I’ve blocked it from my memory. Anyway, I played the hymn all the way through including each verse, note perfect’ ish. By the end, my fingers were bleeding; that week, Dad rented an electric guitar and amplifier, and signed me up for lessons – the horrid sound of that Sears guitar was a real blessing!

Wait, you’re writing about fasting?

So what does this narcissistic story have to do with fasting? Before I answer, let’s read what Jesus said about fasting.

“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…” Matthew 6:16

Jesus said, “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” He left us no elbow room. Fasting should be part of every Christian’s life. For those celebrating Lent, your fasting and abstinence from meat are already underway; I’m proud of you! For others, fasting and/or abstinence may be a new or atypical aspect of your walk with Jesus.

Fasting doesn’t need to be total self-denial of food. In fact, that can be dangerous or impossible for many people. The self-denial of food (i.e., fasting) is something you must discuss with your family doctor before trying it.

We each need to pray and ask Jesus to show us the things that have control over us. Food, TV, video games, shopping, and so forth; things that aren’t sin until they are. From your list allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to one and fast it. How long? It’s between you and Jesus. 

Why Fast?

Why fast? Well, there is that directive from Jesus we just read. Also, fasting is intended to help us hear from God. We don’t change His will by fasting, and we don’t fast to lose weight. We fast to carve out more time for us to spend in prayer and to draw closer to our God.

Oh, how does the story about my first guitar fit with fasting? Well, learning on that Sears guitar was really difficult and really painful, but I didn’t care. I was learning something I loved; I still play. Like the Sears guitar, fasting is something that can be difficult and uncomfortable, but those annoyances pale in comparison to what we gain from walking more closely with Jesus. 

Photo by Shawn Rodgers on Unsplash

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https://rockexcavationservice.org/2020/01/18/are-you-a-project-person/

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