Taken Down a Notch…Maybe Two

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Tuesday was the last day of my 21-day Daniel Fast.

I confess I finished feeling a little guilty. 

Why? 

Going into the fast my purpose was clear, in that my goal was to become closer to Christ, but as it progressed the purpose began to take on another appearance.  My focus strayed from Christ, and instead settled upon the foods I could and could not eat.  I began to search for recipes as to how I could take the approved foods and weave them together in some fashion as to make them more palatable.  In essence the fast became more about the food and less about Christ. 

How fitting then, as I finished the fast, was I led to this scripture:

 So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important. (Col. 2:20-23) 

 Ouch…

 Believe me, I did not search out this scripture.  I can’t quite remember my steps to it, but I’m sure it went something like this… I was reading elsewhere, perhaps in the book of James, and noticed another passage scribbled with ink in the margins.  I’ve had this particular Bible almost 40 years so the margins are well marked.  Who knows when I jotted the reference…it could have been 30 years ago.  Regardless, I was somehow, someway, led to the book of Colossians. 

 God has a sense of humor! 

He has a way taking you down a notch or two, if need be, and then pointing you in the right direction.  Sometimes God speaks in a still small voice…this was not one of those times.  It was more like a splash of cold water to the face! 

 It seemed as if God was saying, and I paraphrase… “Yes, you fasted for 21 days…you did well, but get off your high horse!  The fast was not about the rules you didn’t break, but rather about seeking me.”

Colossians continues to say…“So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it… See things from his perspective… chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline…. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (Colossians 3:1-14 Message Bible)

Do I think my fast in vain?  Not even close!  

I thank God for each of those 21 days, and I learned a lot!  But even with all I’ve learned, if I forget to couple it with love, then the knowledge I’ve gained is indeed worthless!  

Through the past 21 days I’ve learned more about the love God has for me, and I’m assured that nothing can ever separate me from his love.  But if I stop there it has all been for naught.  I must live out what I have learned by loving and caring for God’s people. 

James writes, “…faith without works is dead,” and he warns of the dangers of “…being only hearers of the word and not doers…”.  He says, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God…even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it…that person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” (James 1:22-25)

 Our faith must become active! 

If we say we have faith then what are we doing to prove our faith?  The best proof of our faith is LOVE, and THAT is what I have learned from my fast. 

Now it’s up to me to live it…

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This Is Love

 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

(I Corinthians 13)

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Fast Day 14

My mom went through many trials during her life on this earth.  She lived years in an abusive marriage.  Her young son, 23 years old, was killed in a logging accident.  One dark night she stood outside and watched her house and almost everything she owned burn to the ground.  She was a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, and to feed her children. In spite of all these trials my mom was a fighter.  That doesn’t mean she was never knocked down, after all, each of the above horrors would humble even the strongest among us.  No, she hurt, she cried, and she fell many times, but she always got back up. 

As a child I witnessed many of her struggles, and I witnessed the pain she endured through each one.  I remember seeing my mom cry more than she smiled, but the one thing she made sure of was that I knew how much she loved me.  I never doubted my mom’s love.  It was her love that carried me through the trials of my childhood, and even though she has passed, her love still lives within me and carries me every day.  

I am at awe of how she made it through each trial.  Sometimes I try to put myself in her shoes and I wonder how I would’ve handled domestic violence, seeing all that I owned burn to the ground, and the death of a child. I feel confident I would have lost my mind.  

Since I’ve been on this fast, I have been thinking a lot about my mom, and about the testimony she had among those around her.  She was always kind, and always willing to help anyone in need.  Everyone on Wood Street knew if they came to Bessie Hardy with a need that she would do everything within her power to supply that need.  That was just who my momma was.  

There’s one verse in the Bible that I heard her recite over and over again, and I will always attribute it to her.  Ephesians 6:13-14 “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.  Stand therefore…”  I remember my mom saying that one day when she was ready to give in to all the pain God lead her to this scripture.  Verse 14 continues, but on that particular day, God gave her a different perspective and she read it as “Having done all to stand, stand.”  God was telling her to just keep standing, and He would be her strength.  And that is what my mom did her whole life.

While on the Daniel Fast, I’m reading a book that coincides called…of all things…The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory.  Each day, of the 21 days, has its own devotional that is filled with the promises of God.  One being Isaiah 40:31, “…They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” 

On this fast, over and over I am led to the idea that God is working in my life, even if I don’t see it, or feel it.  God has given assurance that He is with me, and that He has plan for me, but I must be patient to wait for his perfect timing.  In the midst of financial insecurity, I feel him whisper, “…having done all to stand…stand.”   Another portion of scripture that has cropped up over and over is James 1:3-4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  

I have a week left of eating a restrictive vegan diet.  That part of my journey has gone well…and I confess my body feels better.  I have lost about 7 pounds which is a nice added benefit.  I’m planning on continuing some of the good habits I’ve learned such as eating more “real” food and less processed food…no artificial sweeteners, to go easy on the sugar…and to nurture the spirit as much as I nurture the body.  

However, I can visualize that first cup of coffee and of it I can’t wait to indulge.

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Lenten Fast 2020- Day 6

Hello Friends!

As many of you know I am on a Daniel Fast for this years lenten season. This fast is a way to deepen your relationship with Jesus through prayer, meditation, reading, and listening for his voice. Instead of eating the foods your body craves, sugar, bread, caffeine, animal based foods, etc, you forgo these pleasures in order to dedicate your body, soul, and spirit to a higher calling.

I thought this would a difficult task, but God has helped me every step of the way. When I suffered headaches from caffeine withdrawal I went to Him, instead of coffee for my relief. When I wanted to snack all night while watching tv I went to Him for strength, and grabbed a banana or an apple instead of donuts and potato chips.

On this the sixth day of the Daniel Fast I can honestly say I have no craving for coffee or sugar. I’m enjoying the flavors of the food itself. It’s like for the first time I’m actually tasting the foods because I’m not covering up their flavors with meat, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and such. The flavor of the strawberry reigns all by itself. It’s the same with blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, beans, wheat, oats, nuts…

Through the Daniel Fast I’m tasting each grain, vegetable, nut, and fruits God given flavor, and I’m loving it! Since I’ve cut out sugar it’s amazing just how sweet the bananas, oranges, and apples have become!

I’m constituently looking for new ways to experience these flavors. The following recipe is an example of this endeavor.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey.

Fasting Banana Oatmeal

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup of Old-fashioned Oats
  • 1 cup of Water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pat of Earth Balance butter
  • 1 Banana
  • Chopped pecans (optional)
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Silk coconut milk

Directions:

  • Mix oats, water, and salt in a microwavable safe bowl and cook in microwave for 2-2 ½ minutes. 
  • Stir inEarth Balance butter until melted.
  • Stir in one sliced banana.  
  • Add pecans and cinnamon if using.
  • Pour in coconut milk to your desired consistency.

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Notes: This recipe is transient in nature. Feel free to add or substitute ingredients to suite your taste. If I were not fasting I would add brown sugar and substitute regular milk for the coconut milk.