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Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 31

Weight - 187.5lbs

Home stretch....  the plan is a couple days before the end to start consuming all types liquids to get my body more acclimated before eating.  I don't want to have any significant ailments to deal with when I start the vision part of my journey.

Preached my "official" lesson on fasting yesterday.  I hope it was received with open hearts.  I have been staggered by how many people have never even tried it.

In the midst of the study I was amazed at how many things fasting was associated with....

1. prayer (obviously)
2. repentance
3. confession
4. grief/mourning
5. protection
6. guidance
7. worship
8. providence
9. preparation to persevere

Some amazing stuff.  Really never had no idea until I just started looking at everything verse by verse.

So my challenge to the congregation was this......Maybe you have never tried it before.....but wouldn't you at least want to attempt to participate in something, that prophets (Moses, Elijah), kings (David, Jehosaphat), entire nations and cities (Israel, Ninevah), apostles and evangelists (Paul and Barnabus), and even Christ himself found important and maybe even necessary to practice?  I can't believe they engaged in these things arbitrarily.

Have you ever tried it before?  And made it a part of your life?  I would never try to pray or study just one time and then give up just because it "didn't do anything for me".  Maybe we need to reevaluate how and why we enter into this wonderful discipline God has given us?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 29

Weight - 189.5lbs

I read that often times when your body is in a fast it will try to heal old wounds.  I don't know about that, but I do know that everyday something is achy.  Not bad.  Just sore.  Today it is my gums.  This could be because of all my tongue exercises a couple days ago but just in case I have started brushing and flossing again.  Toughen em up.  I am thankful that every other ache I have had passes before the new one starts.  lol.  He won't give us more than we can bear right?

I am so thankful for my future nephew.  A lot of my prayers lately have been heading in that direction.  For Levi, and Paul and Luci.  My brother and sister in law are adopting.  And the birth mom is supposed to be induced on Tuesday.  I know they'd appreciate a quick prayer on their behalf if you already haven't.

I am thankful for our youth group.  We had 18 teens in our class Wednesday night!  That is a ton for us considering everyone else in the church on Wednesday constitutes less than 30.  They are a good bunch of kids.

I am thankful for baby Hank, David, and Elly.  God is truly good.  And I am so excited for Jon and Jackie, Steven and Julie, Tony and Jessie, Aaron and Cindy who will be having their little ones in the next couple months.

I like that song Count you Blessings.  It helps get me feeling great about another wonderful day today.

A good day.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 28

I'm reading a book right now called The Beginner's Guide to Fasting.  Pretty good.  Straightforward advice.  One of the things the author talks about is making sure you know why you are fasting.  He talks a lot about knowing the purpose of your fast to help you stay focussed.  I agree with this... to a point.  I get a little wary when we talk about spiritual disciplines in terms of what they may accomplish, get, or provide.  I think it is good to have a purpose for your fast but it misses a little of the intrinsic nature of fasting.  For example, we study "to" show ourselves approved, "to" learn, "to" obtain knowledge.  But we also study "because of" God's goodness, and the joy it brings us.  We pray intercessory prayer and lift up requests "for" God to answer.  But hopefully we also pray "because" we love sharing our hearts and listening for the will of God.  Sometimes I call my mom to tell her something.  Sometimes I call her because I miss her and just want to hear her voice.

I think fasting can be the same way...  Its the difference ....sometimes...between talking on the phone and in person.  Sometimes the phone is just fine.  But sometimes you want a more intimate connection.  I know this is an imperfect comparison but it does demonstrate why I am fasting.... Its not just to get "things" (guidance, inspiration, closer relationship with God) but also because of what I have already been "given" (guidance, inspiration, closer relationship with God).

Weight is still the same.

Funny story from yesterday....walking around with your fly open is embarrassing no matter what.  Its a little less so though when you are wearing a second pair of pants under the first pair.  lol.  You gotta do what you gotta do to keep warm....

Hope you are all well.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 27

Having some weird feelings.  I have become obsessed with my tongue.  I don't know if its OCD or what but I keep pushing my tongue on the top of my mouth, the back of my teeth, chew on it, and think about moving it around my mouth.  Its hard not to think about it.  I was reading about OCD and it said sometimes OCD people have messed up serotonin levels.  I don't know if my fast is throwing things off or if I am simply going through a phase but I tried doing a bunch of tongue exercises this morning to make it so tired I wouldn't think about it so much. worked!  Mostly!

 Haven't weighed today but the last couple days have been the same.

I have realized I need to start drinking more.  I think I was getting a little dehydrated.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 26

Two weeks to go.

Weight - 189.5lbs  Pretty much haven't lost any weight in the last 4 or 5 days.  Craziness.

I am thankful for a wonderful day today.  Little pain, no hunger, good energy level.

Small Epiphany.........gratefulness is largely a choice we make.  Sometimes not an easy choice but a choice nonetheless.  It wouldn't make any sense for Paul to tell us to think about the true, noble, right, and lovely if it was completely out of our control to do so.  Even when depressed we can recognize what these things are.  If our heart doesn't recognize them emotionally they are recognizable spiritually.

The reason, I believe, he tells us to focus on the admirable is because our thoughts often bring our heart in tow.  These two distinct entities exert incredible influence on one another.  Not controlling necessarily but affecting.

I have quit thinking about food.  .....much.....
No food is just part of my routine.  I wish all the space now vacated (mental preoccupation) I could have filled with holiness.  Much of it has.  Maybe fasting is like spring cleaning.   You clean up, move stuff around and only then........when your attention is appropriately focussed you realize there are things you don't need and can get rid of.   I don't know.

Hope you are all well!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 25

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (New International Version)

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

It has been easy for me to think that since starting this fast I would be impervious to many of the temptations the devil would throw my way.

oh contraire mon frere

Along with an ever growing thankfulness, I also also wanted to foster a purity of thought that I have struggled to achieve (with any consistency) for some time.  My weakest moments tend to be at night especially when I can't sleep.  Last night I couldn't sleep.  But this was nothing new.  I had been dealing well with any unsavory thoughts and casting them out of my mind since the new year.  

Well, the devil had another trick up his sleeve along with my dangerously expanding sense of security.  When I don't feel good I have a tendency to let my guard down even further.  The last several days I have struggled with what Peter Lemonjello would describe as "compulsive gambling".  Makes walking around and sitting down quite uncomfortable.  You get the drift.

Anyways, it was a battle last night.  I hung in there but it was tough.  

I'm going to try and not get caught off guard again.  

I should have known better but Jesus didn't go out into the wilderness to avoid temptation.....rather to prepare to meet it.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 24

Weigh in - 189lbs.  I guess I ought to mention I'm not very good about what I'm wearing while I'm weighing.  Didn't feel like taking the shoes off today but hey its just a generality anyways.

I've been having some strange feelings lately.  Does anyone ever feel loved and rejected at the same time?  You know someone cares about you......just not enough to sacrifice for you?  You know someone is fond of you....but they are just more fond of something else?  It sucks.  sorry.. It stinks.

I get these feelings all the time (at least once a year) with our church family.  A family or college student will leave and go somewhere else saying they love our church but its not the right "fit".  I completely understand the usual logic.  It makes sense.  I am never angry with anyone who leaves.....but its always disappointing and makes me sad because I know it likely means a loss of relationship.  Many times it is best for various reasons to move on.  I know we have to do what's best for our immediate family......

I guess what I have a hard time with is how many people come to a church looking for what "meets their needs" and not "what needs they can meet".  I don't think this is most people but its a lot of people.   Usually finding out what helps others is what would best meet our needs....we just don't always realize it.  I love my family but I didn't get to choose them.  I'm glad God made it that way.  I think he made the church that way too.  (I know we are a part of the big family of God I just think there is something special about your local church family).

What I love about my church is I feel needed.  There are things I do, people I can help that utilize my unique skills and personality.  They may not be extraordinary skills......but they are given me by God.....and I feel best when I can use them.

What needs does your church family have?  Will you meet them?  Or wait for them to meet yours?

I hope this didn't sound negative....It is just a reminder to myself for when I get discontented.  I go through this thought process to remind myself I am the only one I can change and then only by the power of God.   Why worry?  Just try to love more.  That's our call, what we were made to do.  We have the best chance to demonstrate this when everything isn't going our way, not when it is.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 23

Learned my lesson yesterday.  Go easy on the juices.  I feel 100% better so far and have decided to limit myself simply to sips throughout the day, at least until my stomach adjust a little.

I just loved our worship this morning and realized how much I love our church family.  We have so many beautiful folks and it is so encouraging being around them.  I asked everyone to start thinking about when they want to start hanging out when my vision is gone.  I'm a little nervous but anxious to spend some time with folks in some unique situations.

Except may Robb who started talking about Bungee

I was reminded of my blessedness when I went to the Perry Correctional Facility yesterday.  Sitting and listening to one of the inmates talk about his about routine.  You make a horrible decision when you are twenty years old and your entire life is altered.   Almost no freedom to do anything.  Most of us have the capacity to do everything.  Tons of choices, possibilities, indulgences, freedoms......Its crazy how much we have.

And yet there are a couple things we can't......and thats what we think about?  Hard to imagine...but we do.

Today may not be exciting, but my friend in prison would give anything to trade places.

Jesus, could have traded places with us too, but he didn't.  He stayed in "prison" (metophorically) so we wouldn't have to.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day - 22

Been sick all day.  Stomach is really hurting.  I think I drank too much juice yesterday and the acid has been killing me.  I took some pepto and that helped some.  No more overloading on the juice for me.

Would appreciate a few prayers.

Hope you are all doing well.  Don't feel like writing.

Weight - 188lbs

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 21

Last night I made the switch from water to juices.  I celebrated by having a little broth which immediately nauseated me.  I think there may be a difference between actual soup broth and cooking broth.  It tasted wonderful for about two spoonfuls and then I knew I was in trouble.  The mouth experience was heavenly the stomach experience...demonic.

Having juices today has been wonderful.  Oh to experience some taste.  How wonderful it is.  This morning when I got a glass of apple juice it was so sweet I could only take the tiniest sips.  It was grand.  I couldn't even finish 3/4 of a glass.  I just wasn't ready for that much sweetness.

I am so thankful for all that the Lord has given me.  I love talking to him.  I love knowing he hears.  Any day when you experience God's love and presence is a good day.

I had one of those great joys in ministry last night about the time I started sipping on my juice.  Two of our teens called at 10 or 11.  One of them wanted to share how much he felt the goodness and presence of the Lord.  Thats what he wanted to tell me!!!!  How AWESOME is that!   God is good.

1:00pm 188.5lbs.  Don't worry mom, I'm sure my weight loss will slow down a little now that I'm on the juices.  If not I can be my own halloween costume pretty soon.  I spent much of my 6'5' life at 175lbs so this is no biggie.  30lbs is a lot less baggage to be carrying around though.  I want to go see how easily I can dunk a basketball now if at all.  lol.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 20

10:00am - 192lbs,  that puts me down 27-28lbs so far.

I almost can see my ribs!  How exciting!

I have decided to make the switch today.  Tonight around 10:30 I am going to start taking alternative fluids.  I am excited and sad at the same time.  There is something about a purely water fast that has been spiritually humbling yet exhilarating.  I am feeling more at peace with my walk with God everyday.  However, I am a little scared if I go on I (in my own mind) would turn this whole journey/experiment into an accomplishment.  Its not really about what we do but about what God does through us.  Its shameful to me to think about how much I have internally stifled and frustrated his will in the past.  His will be done.

This fast is about thankfulness and dependence.  I am thankful to be able to taste something tonight!!!!!  Whooo Hooo!!!  I am going to splurge on a broth......tonight... but try to do mostly juices my last 20 days.   I went to the grocery store and got grape juice, apple juice, orange juice, orange pineapple, cranberry, blackberry get the picture.  Who would have ever thought some broth and a glass of juice could bring such joy....but let me tell you.....I'm hyped.

I love you beef broth.  I hope this doesn't enhance my general temptation for food....but if it does... I guess... I'll deal with it then.

Phil 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 19

Weight - same as bout that.

Last night I broke down a little...emotionally, spiritually.  I am a very selfish person.  Its one of those things I've often realized but rarely felt.  Well I'm feeling it now.  I've been realizing how mediocre a job I've been doing in my Christian walk, ministry, and life in general.   I don't mind doing good things as long as I can see the fruit or be satisfied in some immediate way.

I hate this about myself.  I am praying wholeheartedly for God to change my heart.  Its not something I can do on my own.  I want to have genuine love and concern for people all the time....not just intermittently.

Its tough when feeling this way.  You can easily follow the route of self pity and loathing.  Or you can choose to imperfectly change your behavior.  Like priming the well.  You aren't really bringing up the water as a wellspring of the spirit in your life.  You can hope though, that pumping that well will eventually bring the water you thirst for so desperately.  The Spirit doesn't fill us without that faith in action.  Nor does it come simply making the motion without the pump.  If you are reading this please pray for me.  I hate being broken and humbled but at the same time know how desperately I need it.  Every day is so difficult and beautiful at the same time.

Psalm 139:17

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
   How vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 18

4:00pm - 193.5lbs

One of our students Zach Auter ended his fast today.  He did seven days.  It was great having someone who was sharing in my  Solidarity.  Maybe someone else will hop in there.  It is really helpful sharing these difficulties with  someone.  You know they know... how you are feeling.

I have to be careful because I don't want to drink anything.  Its not hard.  Its just bland and I'm tired of it.  I want some taste.  I'm also having to be careful since mouthwash is the only thing I taste I'm tempted to swish more regularly than necessary.  I'm going to try to limit myself to 2-3 swigs a day.

I had the best night of sleep I've had in a while last night.  Blissful is the only way to describe it.

This verse summarizes how I feel today.  My foe is my own hard hearted weakness and selfishness.  I see it more clearly every day.

Psalm 61

 1 Hear my cry, O God; 
   listen to my prayer.
 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower against the foe.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 17

I and four college students went to the Gulf Coast Getaway this weekend.  The focus of the weekend was a renewed commitment to helping the "least of these".  Very powerful.  Very convicting.  Inspirational.  You pick the adjective.  Yet, I couldn't help wondering how I could continue to come to such "life changing" events and not see any substantial differences in my life long term?


I wonder if I have equated emotionally moving responses too closely with the spiritual?  I don't think so.  This weekend definitely saw the movement of the spirit.  I think my difficulty is something else altogether.

Have you ever had a sudden desire to do something?  Play an instrument, rebuild an engine, prepare a culinary masterpiece?  You run off and start practicing and preparing.  But once you do it for a couple days you realize it doesn't happen with a snap of the fingers.  Its what Jesus talked about with counting the cost.  His yoke is "easy" but we tend to forget the cost is high.  We must sacrifice all.

I believe spiritual disciplines help us bridge the gap between the "wanting" and "doing".  I felt more convicted about God's ability to change me this weekend because of the brokenness and humility this gloriously difficult fasting experience has forced upon me.  I just can't make it through a day without God.  I feel the weight of this continually.  He is the only one who can bring me relief when my bodily desire to be satiated is so overwhelmingly strong.  

5:00pm weight 194lbs.

Still haven't decided when to switch to liquids.  I feel like I am finding a good pace physically though.  Maybe it was just the beach.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 14 - Ashamed

11:00 am - 198.5lbs

Its been a while since I broke the big 200.  I was 175 out of high school and cruised on 185 for years.  Of course in the 175 days I could almost see my ribs.  Hopefully that won't happen before this is all said and done.  I will probably switch to liquids instead of water around day 20 or so.  Haven't made up my mind yet though.

I was feeling a little sorry for myself last night.  Cravings, crankiness, and fatigue.  Today I woke up and a water pipe had broke and I feel scandalized about how much it cost me to fix for 20 minutes of work.  Then I started packing ....for Florida.

Yes, I know shameless isn't it?  I feel like I feel sorry for myself too often.  I'm not eating.  Others can't eat.  They go hungry not by choice.  They can't pick up a phone (that they don't have) to fix a leak they would be happy to have if they lived in a nice comfy house to keep them warm.  They can't pick up and take a trip to the beach.  They can't drive in their car.  We are talking about hundreds of millions if not billions of people.

Its hard to face but I'm spoiled rotten.  I don't like to admit it b/c I usually measure myself to someone who really is spoiled.  Look how much more thankful for things I am than they are.  Not the best gauge I know.  We can always find someone worse than us.

I have more blessings to be thankful for than I usually acknowledge.  I know that a little better today.  Hopefully more so tomorrow.

Well no posts for the next few days.  See you around day 17 or so.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 13 - Taste

Weight. 200lbs

A great day.  Spent time with friends.  Got to see Matt and Jill's new baby, David Taylor.  He is a chunk.  10lbs 7oz!  Hung out with Zach, Amanda, Gabrielle, and Cassidy.  Delivered Meals on Wheels

But the days are still hard.  Everyday around 4pm I hit a wall.  I try to stay busy and spend more time in prayer but its still all very draining come afternoon.

But the lethargy, weakness, and fatigue aren't what's most difficult.  Its taste.  ....or shall I say the lack thereof.  Water, water, and then more water doesn't provide much for the pallet.   I am starting to think that taste has to be one of the most grossly under appreciated senses.  Its like vision and hearing get all the glory while taste humbly, unassuming takes its place providing the spice of life to speak.

I look forward to savoring things once again.  I am resolving to reduce the scarfing down of quick meals without first trying to appreciate every bite.  Eating a meal is not singly to provide sustenance.  It is an opportunity to relish God's blessings....every morsel.

I have been dreaming of food every night....last night was pizza.  I pig out (in my dream) and then feel guilty for a moment that I broke my fast.....until I remember ....wait this is just a dream.

Here's to the future fulfillment of our dreams!  lol.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 12

Some other Things I have been thankful for during this fast....

1. Blue Jeans - I quit wearing them a couple years ago because they were not as "comfortable" as slacks.  Due to 12 days of fasting...miraculously these old jeans seem to fit much better.  I like jeans.
2. Washing Dishes - I hate it.  No dirty dishes.  Fasting is good.
3. Weakness.  I am getting weaker every day.  The good news is I get a workout sitting right here at my desk curling my stapler.
4. $$$$ - I estimate that I spend $300-400.  Don't judge.  But that is $350 bucks straight in my pocket.
5. Empathy - praying for the hungry is much more real
6. Space heaters - I like sitting in front of them.  I like the sound and the feel.  It relaxes me.  Less body fat = more chills = more space heater
7. Cooking - What you say?  Well I can't cook for me, so I've been learning some tips from my roomie.  Ghanian specialties.
8. Catching up- talked to more old friends in the the last two weeks than I can remember.
9. Dreams - I have settled into the pattern of dreaming of yummy foods every night.
10. Delayed Gratification - Instant gratification is what I'd got used to.  I get excited thinking about how wonderful this taste delay is going to exponentially amplify the euphoria I experience that first bowl of chicken noodle soup.  mmmmmmm............

Weight today - 201.5lbs

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 11

Well I wasn't able to weigh in again today because of the snow but...I'm feeling OK.

Some guys talk about how they carry around their spare tire as they get older.  Mine was never really more than a scooter tire but it is almost all gone now!  lol.  Also, it seems my fast has also curbed my appetite for fingernails which I have been trying to quit for some time.  No biting so far in 2011!

Piper has some great things in his book today relating to Jesus' 40 day fast.  He showed very clearly the connections with the Israelites wandering in the desert.  Jesus' responses to the Devil were quotes from Deuteronomy where the Israelites wandered for 40 years because of their disobedience.

Is there power in 40 days in and of itself?  I don't think so.  But symbolism is powerful.  Fasting without any regard for heavenly things will produce physiological results.  Fasting with faith in the spiritual power of  this symbolism is impacting.

Why I fast is something I have to keep reminding myself of.  I want God to hold Preeminence in my life.  I become enslaved to so many things and am constantly reminded of it.  I like fasting to demonstrate my will to others (pride).  I like fasting to provide an example to others (constructive but secondary).  I like fasting because of the health benefits.

I want to continue to fast to remind myself I need God.  I want God.  I want to develop a craving for God.
I don't always want any of these.

 I have allowed food among other things to become a substitute.

I didn't like it when I first quit drinking colas for healthier beverages..... (I still will have one occasionally)
I developed a craving for more preferable ones.  I hope that occurs spiritually as well and I won't have that dependence on God's gifts that should be reserved for God alone.

Mt. 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 10 - Snow!

Well I don't have a weight update today because I didn't leave the house.  Wasn't it beautiful outside?  I just love the snow.  Its beautiful, and clean.  I brings memories of not going to school, getting to sleep in, sledding, playing and excitement.  Those will always be associated with snow for me.

Isn't interesting how these associations occur?  Simple experiences we've all had can cause multitudes of associations.

I've been reading John Piper's book on fasting today.  He associates fasting with feasting.  Feasting on God.  I like that.  Instead of focusing on things in the negative you concentrate on basking in the goodness of God.  He calls it developing a hunger for God.  You can appreciate those things you put aside for a while that much more when seen in the light of this goodness.  For the next 30 days....I get to feast!

I have a couple questions that have been puzzling me.  Why do I still keep burping when I've had only water for 10 days?  This is strange to me.

Today was a good day.  I think to pace myself I am going to have to start taking a nap every day.  It seems to make a world of difference in my weakened state.  lol.

Thank you Lord for all the opportunities we get each day to encourage each other.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 9 - A hard Day

2:30pm - 203.5lbs

I hope it is good news....that I won't keep dropping 2lbs a day.

Class went well.  The sermon went well.  But I was tired.  Someone questioned my abilities to keep up with all my responsibilities being so lethargic.  I really appreciated that because 1. I know it was said in love, and 2. it made me reflect.  I haven't decided to quit the water-only aspect of my fast....yet.  I think there is something more for me to appreciate.  I am a sensitive person.  I don't like to let people down.  I want to meet expectations.  But I want to be pleasing first in God's eyes.  My prayer life has never been better, and I think I have been maintaining my responsibilities - although without the same pep.  So how much stock should I put in others critiques?

Maybe God wants me to get to a place where people are questioning me regularly and even criticizing me.  Maybe he wants me to learn perspective through my sensitivity.

Most everyone thinks they know best.  That is natural.  Its important for us to see the motives behind the skepticism.  Or lack of encouragement.  I've never had anyone question me who has participated in extended fasts.  To me that is interesting.  I've heard all kinds of reasons why people can't fast though.  Tons.  So far only two jive with me.  Pregnancy and Diabetes.  I know there are other medical conditions but I'm sorry, and I hope this doesn't sound negative....but because "I don't feel good when I don't eat" sounds like a lot like the person who says, "I don't exercise because it makes me tired."   I suspect it is hard for those who haven't ever fasted to realize the spiritual benefits and weigh them accordingly.

I have received an ABUNDANT amount of encouragement by the way.

Also, I don't expect this time to be my time of greatest ministry.  This time is to help me prepare for it.  God works in mysterious ways and I hope despite the lethargy I can do his will.  I keep reminding myself his power is made perfect in weakness.

Today I was pretty weak.  I hope and pray his power was being perfected.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 8 - Enjoying today.

Last night I lay huddled on my bed in the fetal position cradling a can of chicken broth.  Oh you would taste so wonderful!  I love you chicken broth.  If I could just taste you everything would be just fine.!?

It would be easy to spend all our time thinking how nice things would be or could be in different circumstances.  The fleeting thoughts of wonderful possibilities is harmless and natural and fun.  But to dwell and fixate on them to the exclusion of the plethora of  things you likely have been blessed with presently is just stupid.  Yes, and I mean even heaven-in the future sense.  Heaven and the idea of heaven I believe to be realities as true and the nose on my face.  Beautiful and wonderful gifts of God.  And although this belief in heaven can be crucial to anchor us during times of  suffering and pain, and be that beacon of hope we all need, it is not intended to be the focus of everything we do here on this earth.

God's kingdom is  Heaven is a part of that kingdom.  If you think the terms are synonymous...fine.  That means Luke 17:20-21 says heaven is currently within us.  So be thankful and focus on what you have already been given. We are told to seek first his Kingdom (not just the future heaven part) and his righteousness.    We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus.  These gifts we have now.  Thinking constantly about what we don't have just brings discontent.

Maybe this is what Paul touches on in Philippians 4 when he says he has learned to be to be content whatever the circumstances, well fed or hungry, etc.....Notice he doesn't 'choose' to be content.  He 'learns' to be content.  Maybe this is one of those great lessons the spiritual disciplines can teach us.

Enjoy what you've been given today guys.  You won't ever have another day like it.

Even though that bowl of chicken soup would taste sooooooooo good.  Fly away little thought!   lol

  6:17pm - 203.5 lbs.

Felt better today.  No nap.  Normal nights sleep.  So thankful/proud that so many of the high schoolers have been deciding to join right in.  Heard a couple of them talk about a 2 day fast they just did and plans to do more.  Others are jumping in as well.  These guys encourage me so much!  What hearts.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 7 - Pride

I like naps.  During fasts you need them.  Win for me.

Physically speaking.  Days 7 and 8 are when you normally regaining a little energy.  I did feel a little better today but still needed one of those siestas around 2pm.

Sleep is still erratic.  Couldn't fall asleep until 3 last night.  Maybe this was by God's design because I was able to spend a lot of time thanking him.

4:00pm weight in 205.5 lbs

My tongue tastes like metal.

Pride is an interesting word.  It can be a  good or bad thing. Wikipedia says, Pride is either a high sense of one's personal status or ego or the specific mostly positive emotion that is a product of praise or independent self-reflection.  We usually associate the first definition with the Biblical understanding.  

Benjamin Franklin once said, "In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride.  Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive,

As far as the first definitions I think this is pretty true.

But the second definition is good too, isn't it?  I am proud to be a child of God.  There is nothing wrong with that is there?

The problem is we often use words differently that they did way back in Biblical times.  Instead of saying, "I am proud to be a child of God.", they would express their thankfulness to be a child of God.  e.g. the sentiment of Psalm 8.  Maybe we should try to conform our vernacular accordingly.  Maybe, we should simply say we are thankful for things instead of being 'proud' of them all the time.  Why?  You can say, "I'm so proud of my children" all too easily without any regard for the fact that God gave them to you in the first place.  Saying you are so thankful for them makes it extremely difficult to forget God because, after all, who are you thankful to?  I know it hard to change so If we do tell our children how proud we are of them lets just make sure we say it in the right WAY; with gratitude to our Father who blesses us with them.

Ben was right about pride.  Its a tricky little stinker.  I hope I don't become proud in the practice of my spiritual disciplines...... but thankful.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 6 -

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

 16Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
 17For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

This is a verse I constantly reflect upon.  Its one of my mantras actually...especially while fasting. When the rubber hits the road there are simply some things more important than others.  The eternal weight of glory IS beyond all comparison.   Verse 16 is so true of the fasting experience.  You become tired.  Your body literally wastes away before your very eyes, yet you feel more at peace every day.  You become more satisfied and content and confident with your relationship with God as one of his children.  This is not because fasting and/or any spiritual discipline has earned this contentment.  No, its almost as if you realize... "Why haven't I taken more time to solely focus on what he has been offering me all along?"

I talked to our high schoolers about fasting last night and was surprised that several had done extended fasts of up to seven days.  I was quite excited and impressed until I found the longest of these coincided with the days before prom or during an illness.  However, one of our teens is doing a Daniel fast...fruits and vegetables.  I'm excited to see if he, like those exiled Israelites, experience any physical blessings from it.

.....Don't worry I'm not trying to get these young uns to do anything drastic while they are still in their physically formative years but I did want to impress upon them the gift they had been given.  It is good for us to give up things for a time to reorient our priorities and facilitate our focus upon God's place of  preeminence in our lives.  I wanted to make it practical for them so I said, "For instance, you could give up your cell phone for a while."  Only a few passed out.

Well life is good.  God is good.  I'm looking forward to day eight which is supposed to be a positive turning point regarding the physical experience of the fast.  But its already been a blessing.  Still doing water, although I did have a little piece of dentene? gum today.  My breath was pretty raunchy.  Sorry Shea if thats the reason you offered it.  lol

10:30am 207lbs

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 5 - Time on my hands.

5:00am - another early wake up.  Still trying to figure this out.
11:30am - Weigh in 209lbs they say you lose about 2lbs a day for the first week and 1 after that.  Last 40 day with liquids I only lost a little over 20.

It is amazing how much time we have at our disposal.  I am generally a busy person, citing all the usual statements busy people do like, "If there were only more hours in the day," or "time flies" or "Where did the time go?".  Now that I seem to have 3 extra hours not dedicated to thinking about what am I going to eat, or cooking, or eating, and then dessert, and washing the dishes... Thoreau's quote, "Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in." Seems to make much more sense and put my busyness into a much better perspective.  

Its nice not always needing to rush, and still accomplish your predetermined goals for the day.  I guess I could schedule more activities or put more on my to do list but I think I will go fishing for a while.  There are so many worthwhile activities in this life that I may never get to participate in or see or experience.  But why would I worry about the things I can't do when I am able to appreciate the things I do.

One thing I have noticed about fasting is everything seems to slow down.  I don't mean a fuzzy thought process.  For some reason experiences seem to last longer.  Maybe because I am not spending all my time thinking during one event what I have to do to get ready for the next one.   Right now the only event that feels significant to me is eating and that is still 35 days off why worry?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 4

The last 24 hours have been the hardest so far.  I slept till 8:30am making up for yesterdays early rise.  The hunger pains have been strong.  Especially when my roommate is making his wonderful smelling Ghanian soup.  I did good for the first 7 hours of my day.  Stayed productive and focused.  Since then I have been dragging.  I am grateful for many of you who have been checking on me.  Thanks for the texts and chatting with me online.  I have been going through some temperature swings.  Hot then cold.  Sweating then chilled.  Amazed I'm still going through some colon cleansing if you know what I mean.  lol.  On a good note my congestion has been clearing up.  1/10 of the way through. the fast,  9/10 seems a long way away.  Well I guess thats why we are told not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough to keep our attention.

I am starting to look forward to my prayer time with God.  Strange.  But it doesn't seem  quite the obligation it once felt like.  More of a privilege.

Weight in: 211lbs.  Must have had my jacket on those other times.

Be blessed today my friends.

Was given a very funny book yesterday by my friend Steven Rau.  Stuff Christians like.  Check it out if you like a little satire and sarcasm.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 3

11:00am 217.5lbs ~ must have on some heavier clothes because I know I can't weigh more.

Woke up at 4:00am.  Don't know why.   I prayed to get an early start although that's not exactly what I had in mind.

Lots of hunger pains today.  Nothing bad, but the food smells good.

I find myself trying to find other things to replace the dining experience.  I have so much more time on my hands.  I went shopping today....a little too much.... I played a simple little video game today....a little too much.  I got lots done...some dusting, fixed a chair, went to the recycling center, rotated the tires, polished my shoes, studied, memorized, scotch-guarded a jacket, organized, emailed, read, visited, called some folks, bible studied....and drank lots of water.   Still looking for things to do.

Harnessing the energy and power God has given us is one of the great challenges to the Christian.  Its so easy for that great reservoir to be wasted and dissipate via the thousand little spams of life that attach themselves to us.  To utilize this energy to better love one another is what ought to monopolize our attention

The entire question of discipline, therefore, is how to apply the acts of will at our disposal in such a way that the proper course of action, which cannot always be realized by direct and untrained effort, will nevertheless be carried out when needed.   

Dallas Willard

When routine is disrupted, when pleasures once enjoyed is removed, what will hasten to fill the void?  I am discovering that it is not simply godliness for me ....but business.  Godliness can be busy.  But being busy is not necessarily godly.  Discipline me Lord as I endeavor to fill every moment with holy intent of a thankful heart.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 2 - Brushing your Teeth

I don't know if its human nature but most of us have a proclivity to see things pessimistically.  Fasting is a good example.  Although there are no scrumptious morsels for me to snack on during the day there are numerous advantages most people don't recognize....e.g. brushing your teeth.  Drinking water all day allows me to take time to swig a little Scope, swish it around and ...shazam.. I'm good to go.  3 minutes a day I wouldn't have had otherwise.

But, I am thankful for food.  More today than December 31st.  Not quite as hungry as I thought I would be but those Doritos still look pretty good.

In the past, day 2 of the fast has been the most difficult for me.   Especially in the morning.  A couple years ago when I got up early to go to the bathroom I got light headed and almost took a dive into the toilet.  No tipsiness troubles any other days.   Just day 2.  I didn't experience that this morning although I didn't want to get out of bed.  There was a distinct drop in my energy level which hopefully didn't put too many to sleep in the sermon this morning.  I don't know why day 2 is so hard.  Maybe the body just realizes, "Wait a second, something is different"

Other than a 10% reduction in energy level, the only real difference I have noticed is a more intent focus in my prayers today.  I started a couple years ago, trying to emulate my namesake in Daniel 6:10, where three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed.  At 7:00am, 11:20am, and 10:20pm for 10 minutes a pop, I tried to follow suit.  Emphasis on try. There were some good stretches, but I couldn't (or wouldn't) keep any consistency to the routine.  Seeing how often prayer and fasting are associated in the Bible I am hoping for a more committed prayer life.  I want to talk to God as if I were in his presence emotionally.  I want to urgently share with him my struggles that can only come when you know he hears, wants to listen, ease your pain, and delight in your joys.   I want to be excited about what he may reveal to me each moment.

I want to be convicted about my need to converse with God, so I can know that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  Should I expect a voice from heaven, or a a few words face to face as if I were Moses?  No.  Although, that could be really cool.  I just want know he is listening and he could speak with me that way if he wanted,  and that he IS speaking through his word and creation.

Thanks Jon, JD, Rachel, Rick, and mom for your encouragement today.

3:00 pm 217 lbs.....and still looking healthy

PS.  JJ, this subject line was for you.

I know some of you have started with the fast as well.  How's it going for you so far?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On your mark, get set,....

Well 2011 has been great so far.  A lockin with the kids.  A count down starting at forty five seconds (you have to love youth groups).  Only one injury and one illness during the night.  No trips to the emergency room.  Par for the course.

Being with friends.  Basking in the love of those you care about and who care about you is so much more important than having a few Doritos at 12:03am January 1st 2011.  Don't you think?

I know both can be wonderful (especially when talking about cool Ranch) but its a lesson in contrast, thinking about the significance of each looking forward the next 40 days.  Its a powerfully abstract image of priority.  What am I going to recognize as valuable, vital, and important?  Food, clothes, and shelter?  Or Love, justice and mercy?

Lets be thankful for both..... and hold on to the Micah 6:8 things.

Today is a good day.  The plan:  Love you and God more this year.

12:01 am weigh in at 217.5 lbs.  I think the scale weighs high by the way because I know I can't weight almost as much as my brother.
1:23 am was really excited to find out Rachel was going to do the fast with me as she ate her doughnut?  Better late than never
2:11AM - also very excited to find out Isaac is going to participate in some way.
5:11pm - Still not hungry.

Nothing but water so far....but keeping those juice options open.