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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Specifics pt. 2

Fast # 6 - Smelling.  I know this may sound kind of kooky but I feel as "taken for granted blessings" go, this one has to be right at the top.  It also makes me think a lot about the beautiful language in our Bible comparing our faith in terms of scents e.g. "for we are to God the aroma of Christ...".  I have purchased some swimmer's nose clips and have partially prepared myself for looking goofy for a while.  I would appreciate any creative suggestions how I can answer people who ask me about it though. ...

I feel the most practiced for this one due to this pesky cold I've had for the last few days.

Fast # 7 - Hearing.  This one is going to be difficult to pull off absolutely because noise canceling head phones can only take you so far.  To appreciate the subtle sounds and the delicate whispers is really what this will be about.  I love the passage in 1 Kings 19 in which God is described as speaking to Elijah in the gentle breeze.  How many of these whispers of God do we miss and fail to appreciate?  I think too many.   I want to not just hope to hear God.  I want to learn to listen for everything.

Fast # 8 - Walking.  I have wondered what it would be like to be in a wheelchair.   Not to be able to walk around, or jump, or run, or stand.   I'm kind of used to looking down on people and I wonder if looking up to them physically might affect how I see them spiritually as well.  Doesn't Paul say the natural comes first and then the spiritual?  I like my legs but I can't really say I love them.  I mean they are all right but I want to see them for the wonderful gifts of God they are!!!  lol

My only worry is how vain I may become when I undoubtedly become so upper body buff.

Fast # 9 - I don't know if I want to share what I'm thinking on this one yet.  I've caught a little static from a couple folks I shared it with.  I'd rather hold off the resistance as long as possible.  I will tell you ...its a pretty good one.  lol.  So lets let this one be a surprise and besides....maybe someone comes up with another great idea to ......insert here.

Again, thank you guys for your love and support.  I am hoping to couple all this with a heavy dose of prayer.  Please let me know if there is anything I can pray about ...for you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Specifics of the Fast.

So.. I plan on doing 9 forty day fasts in 2011.   Again, I know they are not "food fasts" but rather the giving up of things that are important to me.

Fast #1 - Regular food fast.  I have toyed with the idea of doing just water but I will probably focus on liquids such as juices and water.  I have done this once before and found it incredibly interesting.  I definitely have a new appreciation for food and and can still remember that Campbell's Italian Wedding soup I had on day 41.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.  I want to start with this to help prepare me for the other 8 disciplines.  I also have some struggles I would like to devote some concentrated prayer combating and can't think of a better venue to do just that.

Fast #2 - No Seeing.  Yes, blindfolds for over a month.  Yes, I went to the doctor.  He said it should be fine.  This is the one I am most anxious about because of the complete lifestyle change I suspect it will require.  This one may be the most humbling, needing large amounts of help from family and friends.  My eyes get me in trouble too much (guys I can hear your unified 'Amen').  I want to see in a new way, and can you imagine how beautiful that first sight will be?

Fast #3 - Spending.  Maybe Frugality.  I have decided to exempt my mortgage, utilities, tithing, and Christian relief fund.  This I suspect will be much more difficult than I anticipate.  Eating out, technology, books, useless plastic objects have become all too easy and available for a single man with no real debt.  To not get something when I want it.....well that is going to be rough.  Hopefully more fully realize how rich I am.

Fast # 4 - Silence.  Aren't you a preacher Danny?  Yes, I am.  And I am glad I have such wonderful, understanding and compassionate elders.  I am going to try some visual presentations and share some much needed silence in our corporate times together.  We will have a few guest speakers though.  This is one I am most curious about.  I did a day at the monastary a few years back and LOVED it.   If this is that times 40 I can't wait.

Fast #5 - Media.  No computer, TV, Movies, or music.  I am exempting my alarm clock for obvious reasons.    The TV and movies don't worry me but the computer does.  I feel I have become entirely too dependent upon it and need to recognize it as the blessing and tool it is, not allowing it to become a crutch.  I suspect this will open my eyes to how much the computer has become the spam of my life.  So much unnecessary time wasted and consumed.  I want some good ole face to face interaction.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Primary Reasons

First, I know all of what I am planning this year is not fasting per se.  Fasting in its strictest definition is an abstinence from food and/or drink in various forms.  Although I am going to start off my year with a traditional fast, many of my 40 day spiritual experiments would fall most naturally under other spiritual disciplines.  Dallas Willard classifies these as disciplines of abstinence.

My motivation is not deprivation for the sake of mortification of the flesh.  I like my body thank you very much.
My first motivation is desire to gain deeper and broader appreciation of what God has given me.

There are many thankful people in the world.  This thankfulness naturally varies in magnitude from person to person.  Obvious statements right?  However, isn't it interesting how some folks can be grateful for a cup of rice and others can become petulant when there mocha Late isn't made just right?

I am a man that has been blessed abundantly.  This I know intellectually.  Yet I don't think about my blessings naturally.  Sometimes I forget.  Sometimes I become downright pessimistic.  Even when I do analytically realize the wonders of God in my life there is often a spiritual and emotional anemia I find myself in.   Therefore, I want to see if my appreciation for some of these blessings may expand as I set them aside for a time.   This premise is my first hope for A year of Fasting.

My second motivation is related to the first.  It has to do with interdependency ...and thankfulness for it.  I feel we live in a culture that is self sufficient to a fault.  We develop individualistic tendencies from an early stage in our lives.  This is not inherently bad.  However, the Western world we grow up in and learn to interact in seems to myopically focus on this aspect of our existence.....  Who we are as individuals.  And even when we self identify with our families, each little family pod seems to exist happily and merrily quite independent of all the other little families we may see at the soccer practice or Sunday morning service.

This seems to be a far cry from what God intended.

I love my church.  I love everyone there.  However, as much as I love them I feel it would be too easy for me to move on somewhere else and be happy about it.  Whether I needed to take care of family, I was asked to leave or I got a job offer I couldn't refuse I would be just fine.  At least I think I would.  Someone may think that this is good and healthy...but I'm not so sure.  I mean I don't want to be miserable or codependent.  However, if there isn't enough interdependency in my church, community, and family that it doesn't hurt a little when its gone, I find that to be troubling too.

Individualistic, self sufficient lives are shallow lives.  Interdependency in family and church echoes depth of relationship.  How can I expect to have a meaningful relationship with the Creator of the Universe when I can't even  have substantive relationship with my fellow human beings?

So.................. several of these disciplines I hope to practice in 2011 have been selected with a realization that they will require a great deal of help from those I care about.  Part of me hates this because I like being able to do everything myself.   I like my independence.  But....I do get a little charged up about being able to spend some quality time with those most important to me.  So many things are just better together....says the 37 year old single man.

Well.  I know I am slow.  tomorrow I will explain my 9 fasts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Here we go.

Have any of you ever felt like you were in a spiritual rut?  I don't mean the type of rut where you are out devising wicked schemes and foolishly trying to manipulate the world to submit your selfish whims.  I am talking of a lack of passion, an absence of excitement, a far cry from the mountaintop experience most of us feel at some point in our ordinary (if that's possible) Christian walks?  Well this is part of my reason for a year of fasting.

I enjoy ministry.  I enjoy teaching.  I enjoy preaching.  I enjoy enjoying. 

I am content. ......kind of....
I guess I have been feeling rather complacent, and I don't want to feel this way.  I want to want something more.  I want to be in love with God.  Completely.  I want every moment to have meaning.  I want every glimpse of life to be picturesque. I want every breath to be taken fully.  

Is this idealistic or unrealistic?  Maybe.......... not.  Is it possible?  .......Maybe.  I want to find out.

I have been thinking about a year of fasting for some time.  Theologically, there are many great reasons to participate in the spiritual disciplines.  There are a plethora of men and women who have meditated on the ways and have reasoned out the whys quited persuasively over the centuries.  The virtues found in these disciplines I am going to assume on faith.  I hope that the experience of spiritual experimentation will reveal truth that I could not have understood passively.  I hope, as Foster explains, to place myself in a position to be transformed by God.

I hope a year of fasting will help me to this end, but since I am new to blogging and am getting tired I guess I will explain my purposes and strategies ....all those little details ....and my grand schemes and dreams....tomorrow....

Good night.