Fasting for your Breakthrough

Every year our church is encouraged toward a type of fast.  Now fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose!  It is not a diet, or a popular health craze, it is a Biblical form of seeking God, and believing God for a breakthrough.  Fasting is an act of Faith!

There are multiple types of fasts mentioned in the Bible.  They include:

  • Full Fast (no water or food)
  • Liquid Fast (no food)
  • Partial Fast (Refraining from certain foods)
  • Interval Fast (fasting for part of the day, i.e., fasting during work hours, only having dinner)

Many of the prominent men and women of Scripture are mentioned in the Bible fasted. As they pursued and believe God for answer to prayer, individuals like Moses, David, Esther, Elijah, Peter, Paul and of course Jesus himself.  One of these Old Testament figures who provides some insight into his fasts is the prophet Daniel.

It was Daniel who was fighting for his life as a young man in a hostile land, and refused to eat the King’s meat.  It was Daniel who prayed to God for the interpretation of a dream and fasted (along with his fellow Israelites).  It was Daniel who fasted when he received a dream that disturbed him so much that he went on a 21 Day partial fast for insight and meaning to the dream.  Here are 2 such instances as recorded by Daniel, himself:

  • Daniel 1:12, which states, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables [pulses] to eat and water to drink.”
  • Daniel 10: 2-3, which says, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

Each time Daniel or any of the others already mentioned fasted, it was for the purpose of a breakthrough.  God was taking them to the next level, and the fast was a part of their preparation.  Two groups of people I would like to briefly address:

  1. Those who have already started to fast:  If you have already started to fast, and are struggling to complete it, you are in good company.  Fasting is not easy, but this spiritual discipline will release God plans and purposes like nothing else.  Don’t give up, you can make it.  After the first 7 days, most of the strange bodily experiences (headaches, muscle aches, runny nose…) will have ceased.
  2. Those of you who are considering a fast:  If you are not already fasting, and are considering if you should, let me assure you and encourage you… YOU CAN DO IT.  Fasting, along with prayer, will take your life, your family, your career, and your health to the next level.

It is time to dethrone King Stomach, and re-Throne King Jesus!  It is time to take your walk with the Lord to the next level.  It is time to believe God for that BREAKTHROUGH that has worried you, or consumed your mind.  It is time to activate your Faith and Fast!

 

5 Must-Haves for Every Week

Each year, many of us set new goals to spend time in contemplative prayer, and seek to move both our lives, and missions forward.  As I have established FAITH Goals for the New Year, there are 5 items that must be in every spiritual leader’s schedule to remain healthy and whole!

Not one of these items will ever gain recognition or accolades.  They are the private decisions that breed public success.  Examine your weekly schedule according to these criteria.

  1. Personal Meals with Family:  Nothing prioritizes family like time at the table eating.  Now I must confess, the older the children have become, the more challenging it has become.  However, your family is worth it.
  2. Intimate time with Spouse:  This doesn’t happen naturally or by accident.  It doesn’t happen in front of a TV binge watching on Netflix.  We have been formed with the capacity to be Emotionally, Spiritually, and Physically intimate.  In marriage, all three are provided. For those who are SINGLE, I would encourage you to focus on the Emotional and Spiritual intimacy.  While physically intimacy at a sexual level isn’t possible, there are healthy options (i.e., manicure, massage, etc…).
  3. Create Space to Listen to the Lord:  Many have written in depth about prayer, bible study, and other spiritual disciplines.  Suffice to say here, there is no substitute to time.  However, let me caution you according to my own mistakes.  Time must not only be spent listening to the voice of God’s Spirit about your career or ministry, take time to listen to what God is say to your spirit concerning your own soul, relationships, and family.  This time must be created!
  4. Intentionally & Personally Investment:  Every spiritual leader, no matter the level or size of our ministry must intentionally and personally invest.  Our calling demands that we invest in 1-Leaders that God has already entrusted to us; 2-Followers that God has called us to lead; and 3-Unbelievers who we are called to reach.  We are still to do the work of an evangelist.
  5. Investment in Self:  As my friend John Palmer says, “Self-Care is not Selfish!”  May this be a year that you value your own life, as much as God does.  He redeems you Body-Mind-Spirit.  May you invest in your body through movement/exercise, in your mind through emotional health and intellectual engagement, and in your spirit through God’s TRUTH.

Each week, as you prioritize your schedule, be sure to schedule your priorities.

The Allure of Sexual Sin

This is a topic I hear very little about these days.  Sexual Sin has become a right of passage, and generally accepted in much of Christian Culture.  From the affairs of super-star preachers, to the private struggles of a young man or woman coming into their own; there seems to be an indifference (at best) or a general acceptance that to be human is to give way to sexual sin.  “After-all, we are just human.”

Some of the heroes of our culture who have been exalted to “god-like” status.  We have hailed the like of Hugh Hefner, and called him a liberator.  Our sports heroes literally have intimate relations with 100’s-1000’s of women, and we follow them closer than we study the life of the Apostle Paul.  Then we have the grotesque activity of Harvey Weinstein which needs little more commentary after the coverage he has received.

However, pointing the finger at well-known names is not helpful.  We allow pornography into our homes through shows like “Game of Thrones” and think nothing of it.  I can’t begin to tell you how many self-proclaimed Christian who enjoyed the entertainment of “Fifty Shade of Grey” and can’t understand why anyone would disapprove of a harmless novel.  Where has the sense of decency and holiness gone from the CHURCH!?!   Yes the Church!

Why has the Allure of Sexual Sin, dragged us into its clutches like a Star Trek tractor-beam.  It has locked onto us!  There are 2-words that described its grip on our souls:

  1. POWER:  When I use the word power, I do not necessarily suggest the concept of dominance.  However, a good synonym would be “control.”  To quote Larry Crabb in his life changing book, Connectinghe wrote of the idolatry that fills our hearts as the “passionate pursuit of predictable pleasure.”  The allure to have our sexual desires/passions met when we desire, and not have to have those legitimate desires met in the confines of a committed relationship means we strive for the power to control our life.  Often times if we cannot satisfy our passions in a committed relationship, we move to a uncommitted relationship, and if not there, then to a relationship based on fantasy (primarily online).  We want to have power over our lives, and not relinquish control.  Both are a facade!
  2. ESCAPE:  In some regards, “power” goes hand in hand with our desire to escape.  Sexual expression in its variety of forms (Biblical and sinful), provides a feeling of escape and relief from the stresses of life.  The endorphin released during sexual activity, oxytocin (the love-hormone) engages the pleasure portion of the brain causing a euphoric (intensely happy or confident) feeling.  Therefore, during times of stress, conflict, hurt, loneliness, anxiety, and in general emotional pain, there can be a desire to “escape” these feelings and cover them with a manufactured “euphoric” state of feeling.  To state it simply, we escape the painful reality, for a more pleasant/pleasurable fantasy.  

The problem with using sexuality as a strategy for power/control and/or escape, is that neither are based in reality.  Both are a pseudo-fix, for a legitimate need.  Our needs of safety, security, peace, provision, connectedness, and even pleasure are legitimate, God-given needs.  These needs all provide an opportunity to find their fulfillment in both a relationship with our Creator, and through our relationships with one-another.

A Christ-centered, committed relationship is God’s answer for your needs.  Any other other attempt is temporal and short-lasting leaving us frustrated and searching for more.  While the allure may be strong at times, remember: Sin always over-promises, and it always under-delivers.  You deserve better, reach for the real-thing!