Regaining the power of the Church

The rebukes of Jesus to his disciples constantly challenge me. I am especially challenged when he points out their “little faith” or “no faith.”

In Matthew 17, after Jesus has come down from the transfiguration event, the disciples have been confronted with a situation they can’t handle. The trouble they have is they experienced the spiritual battle with demons before and had cast out demons, but now this particular situation wasn’t working out the same.

Continue reading “Regaining the power of the Church”

New Wine, New Wineskins

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:21,22)

The power of the Kingdom of God is knowing WHEN to do WHAT.

The Pharisees had a lot of man-made rules for good disciplines. Kingdom power is about knowing when to use those disciplines. It is about the law on the heart, not on stone tablets. There is a time to fast. There is a time to feast. (The subjects being addressed by the Pharisees in this passage.)

The new wineskin is this: knowing how to use good forms in timing with the rhythm of the Kingdom. Fasting is good. Feasting is good. Knowing when those forms take place is Kingdom power.

 

The urge to give up

The urge to give up a fast or some other deeper commitment comes early. It’s because we are soft. The enemy punches quickly to see if we can be pushed back into mediocrity. The earliest part of the spiritual commitment is the easiest place.

For me, when it comes to a fast, or a modified fast, the enemy punches early because I am indeed soft. If he can slap me back into my mediocre spiritual life quickly, it’s little effort on his part. It’s an easy win.

But if I will persist… and therein lies the rub.

Last week we had a Sacred Assembly and it was a powerful service. The Lord had given me some specific words to pray over the congregation. It caused a spiritual release… and a severe spiritual battle… all at the same time.

So as the week has progressed, it has done so horribly… at least from a human perspective. As the week has gone along and the battles intensify, the Spirit simply asks, “What did you expect?”

The urge to give up here is incredible. It is attractive. It is desirable. 

This is a key point in a battle. If the punch from the enemy stings enough, we may just slip back into our comfort zones.

In this stage, I’m not throwing many punches. I’m taking a few. But as I persist the reality comes: Those “punches” were more like slaps. While I think the enemy is really punching me at this point, I will look back on this and realize he was only flicking me in the ear. Tougher battles lie ahead if I persist.

Oh, joy.

That is the nature of walking with God. The closer you walk with him, the more severe the attacks of the enemy until the walk becomes so precious, the enemy is silenced. It’s not that he quits attacking, but the perspective changes drastically. I realize war is just part of the deal but my Deliverer has me.

I anchor my soul to this verse today:

You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Ps. 32:7)

I hate fasting

There. I said it.

People used to think I actually liked it. But it’s been so long since I’ve walked in intentional fasting, or a modified fast like this one for Lent, I now remember why I have let this practice slip.

I hate fasting.

When I step into this discipline with purpose there is nothing good that comes of it in the beginning. My attitude stinks. My wants go through the roof. I have a hunger for things I’d never eat otherwise, or I want to do stupid things that wreck my emotions.

What is the deal with fasting? Why does this bring the worst out in me? No wonder I quit doing this on a regular basis! It’s just silliness!

If you think I’m now about to reveal something “super spiritual” about the REAL reason for fasting… it won’t be happening today.

Today, I hate fasting.

Image result for i hate fasting

An invitation to dialogue here

One of the challenges for Lent this year is “giving up” social media. I need to break myself of this addiction in my life.

However, I will still be blogging. And I tie my blog to my Twitter and Facebook accounts so more people have an opportunity to see what I post.

I also realize it’s way easier to post a comment or “like” (or dislike) something on Facebook, so I want to invite those are interested into a conversation HERE instead. It will take a lot of effort on my part to not check Facebook and Twitter during this fast, but that is my goal. So, if you may happen to comment on something you see, it will hopefully be either from this blog or a verse I tweeted from Biblegateway. I will do my best to NOT see it there…

If you would like to comment on something I post, please visit the blog here and feel free to comment.

Ash Wednesday is coming up and I will be taking my break then.

This is a season of incredible opportunity to hear from God and I need the distractions minimized. But I want to keep sharing the journey with any who happen by this blog. God is up to something GOOD in these days. Let’s take this journey together!

The WHY of Fasting

There are a lot of reasons to fast and pray. What is needed most is to remember to add in “AND PRAY.” We don’t fast to “diet.”

Sometimes it is necessary to fast to specifically ask something of God. Those are not always successful. We have expectations of what should “come out” of the process, and when it doesn’t we are disappointed.

We fast to obey. We fast to hear better. We fast to know God and his voice more clearly. We understand what controls us after fasting.

A friend many years ago said fasting was like the rudder on a ship. Fasting turns our direction, but we don’t always notice. But a few weeks later we notice we’re heading in a different direction. Rudders turn ships but the turn isn’t always perceptible. We can fast and think, “Nothing happened.” But weeks later we discover God has us in a new place.

I think fasting should be entered into deliberately. We don’t jump into a 40 day fast. We test our bodies for 24 hours, then 36 hours, then 48 hours. Regularly. Get the body used to missing food. Get the body used to understanding IT is no longer in control.

Extended fasts come at the leading of the Spirit. The more physical knowledge I have about an extended fast, the more I am freed to know what is happening spiritually. Forty day fasts are rare, but they are joyous. There are joyous moments in those longer fasts.

Richard Foster has a chapter in his classic Celebration of Discipline that gives details of the “how to.” There are a few more recently that give physical details. I’ve heard they’re good as well.

Fasting is needed to clear out the noise of this world. It is a joyous discipline I have let slip farther back into my spiritual toolbox. This year is a challenge to use it more.

The engine for 2015

As I looked ahead this past week to 2015 and went through some good questions that help set up the next part of my journey, the one thing that kept showing up was the deep need for fasting and prayer. The engine to drive all that lies before me in 2015 is fasting and prayer. The engine. The fuel. All that God has for me in this year is propelled by a deeper journey in fasting and prayer.

This next year needs to see a re-establishment of the discipline of fasting in my life. Regular fasting. Extended fasting. The huge shifts that are summed up in the two words God gave me (TRANSFORMATION and MULTIPLICATION) are going to be driven by fasting and prayer. There is no other way.

Fasting teaches us dependence on God alone. We fast because God calls us to it.

It is not a matter of IF you fast… but WHEN you fast (Matt. 6:16).

Teach me anew, O Lord!