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Posts Tagged ‘Fasting’

Some of you know that I’ve given up caffeine for Lent – but truthfully, I’ve had a little chocolate since Ash Wednesday, so it is more accurate to say I’ve given up caffeine drinks for Lent. I’m not a cola drinker, not a tea drinker – I am a coffee drinker. So really, I’ve given up COFFEE for Lent. No – I’m not shouting.

I’m halfway through the 40 days of Lent and after the first few headache days, it’s really been smooth sailing. I have not been tempted, and I’ve been close to coffee every day. I order the coffee for my work place, parcel out the coffee in the filters for ease of use, and smell every pot as it brews. I do the same for church on Sundays. I even make a pot occasionally for Don on weekend afternoons. I’m being honest – I haven’t been tempted to take even a sip.

coffee shopsBut…I am looking forward to drinking coffee on Friday, April 19th. And I’m going to start making the rounds of my local coffee shops in May. We have a plethora of coffee locations to choose from…all within walking distance from my office. I tested out iced coffee last go round – I think I’ll stay a little more calorie conscious and just do a 16 ounce brewed black. I’m mapping out the route…only one per week, should take me through most of the summer.

Hey – just because I’m fasting it, doesn’t mean I can’t dream, right?

Coffee_meme

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I may have taken on more than I should. Lent is traditionally a time to let go of some things so you have more time to spend meditating or thinking about the final days leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Normally I pick something  hard to let go of…and that is certainly the case this year. I have decided to fast caffeine until Easter. That’s 46 days if you’re counting. I am. And I just took a pill for the headache that has already started.

No_Caffeine

But not only have I decided to give up caffeine, I have taken on a few other disciplines. I’m participating in a 40-day Bible study with other women from our church on the Final Days of Jesus. It’s basically a daily endeavor incorporating prayer, praise, Scripture study, reflection and sabbath. I’ve also decided to send out a encouraging card to someone every day…40 cards. And, of course, I said I’d blog every day. My normal routine continues so the plates are spinning but I’m not looking for a medal for “Greatest Christian Woman Ever.” I just want to explore some new ways of experiencing Lent – both with new people and with renewed focus on Jesus.

While many decorate their homes with bunnies and eggs, most Christians contemplate Easter’s true message – the love our Savior Jesus had for each of us…so much love He sacrificed Himself to save us from the wages of our sin. Good Friday is the day of Christ’s death but Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God!

And this is the last you’ll hear of my caffeine fast.

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Joel 2:12

 

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Nothing.

I should probably just stop right there. That would be the shortest blog ever.

Simply put, fasting is to abstain from food, usually for a certain period of time or for a certain purpose.

The discipline of fasting is not unique to Christians. In fact, many religions are required to fast, including Muslims who fast from dawn to sunset for the month of Ramadan. During Lent, Catholics are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and to abstain from eating meat on Fridays (hence those awesome fish fry dinners at every American Legion hall in America).

Though the Bible is full of references to fasting, from my observation, the practice is not a consistent discipline in an average  Christian’s life. Mine included. So yesterday, because I had a friend who desperately needs healing, I fasted and prayed all day. Well – most of the day. Well – from dawn until sunset…less than 12 hours. And I actually thought I deserved a medal or something.

This is my confession. I’m proud and arrogant when it comes to Christian disciplines and I have no will power when it comes to food. If I hadn’t left my normal lunch at home (and thankfully no one brought anything good to work yesterday), I probably would have caved by 10 in the morning. Why is it I think I’m starving after only one hour without food? Pathetic.

So – that’s my newest addition. I’d like to study the discipline of fasting, maybe read a book or two, and get into what the Scriptures say about this “doing without food” thing. I don’t anticipate any 40-day fast in my future…let’s be honest. It’s like telling me when I first started running that I would do a marathon that same year. Not going to happen.

But if the practice of fasting was a normal part of the people of the Word, it should be a normal part of my life as well. Thanks for reading – now, you can go back to your snacks.

Isaiah 58:6 – “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.”

Fasting-black-and-white

 

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the traditional beginning of the Lenten season in many Christian churches. Lent is a period of 40 days of fasting and repentance leading up to Easter (actually, they only count Monday through Saturday as “fasting” days, with Sunday as a “feasting” day, and therefore not counted in the 40-days). There’s your history lesson for today.

Last year I wrote a short blog for each day of Lent, which was a lot of writing and probably more than any one person should, especially any one just plain ordinary person. But it was a great discipline for me, even if no one read anything. I took the theme of fasting and chose a different topic each day to “give up.” I tackled giving up unworthiness, apathy, guilt, failure and a lot of other stuff. This year I think I’ll flip things around. This year I’m going to choose those things I need to add to my life.

Let me be honest. My schedule is very full. I work full time, tutor once or twice a week, lead a small youth group on Wednesday nights, attend a prayer and teaching session at least once a week at our WFM Missions Base in Robins and serve with my husband as he pastors Troy Mills Christian Church each Sunday. I also spend time volunteering, working out at least three times a week, cleaning my house (mostly fail this one) and giving time and attention to my kids and husband. In between all those things, I read my Bible, do the laundry, cook a few meals, walk a few miles, read a few books, keep up with the family finances, talk to my boys, go out with friends and live my life as joyously as I can. On top of all that, my youngest will soon graduate from college and my oldest son and his beautiful fiancee are getting married in May.

So, why do I think I need to add anything else?

Especially because I’m so busy, there are quite a few areas in which I need plenty of work. I need to add things like margin, compassion, patience, joy, adventure….You get my drift. Starting tomorrow, my blog will be short (promise!) advice to myself. My goal is to add those essential elements I’ve missed while sprinting through each day. The actual definition of “addition” is the uniting of two or more numbers into one sum. I’ll be uniting what is great about my present with what is necessary to make life even better.  I’m going to set my face toward the end of this journey, trusting God to show me ways to add richness to each day. You can join me if you want.

mission addition

 

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I like sweets. I don’t think I’m addicted to them but I really, really like them. I have a candy dish on my desk at work which contains a variety of hard candies. I find myself sucking on a butterscotch or cinnamon candy disk a couple of times a day…probably more from habit than need. I also like my friend Ellie’s desserts. Recently she made this awesome Snickers peanut butter brownie cake that was amazing…and I’m pretty sure I ate most of it. So for Lent I’m choosing to give up white sugar (and products) and candy.  I’m not Catholic and I don’t have any affiliation with a denomination which observes fasting as part of their Lenten practices. But I am fasting for the next 40 days. But one day into my fast, I’m feeling a little bit guilty. No – I didn’t cheat. No midnight candy binges. No intense cravings for chocolate. But how much of a sacrifice am I really making? And what is the point?

Fasting for Lent

Traditionally the purpose of Lent is a time of preparation.  Through prayer, penance, repentance, alms giving, atonement and self-denial, a believer prepares himself for the observance of Holy Week and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

There is really nothing theologically that I disagree with in regards to preparing myself for the greatest day on any Christian’s calendar. Instead of the over-indulgence of the Christmas season, the pre-Easter season of Lent concentrates on self-denial, giving up for 40 days what I may feel is important or essential to my life.

I’ve never really spent much time pondering all the ramifications but this year I felt led to “give up” something. The more I think about this, the more silly I find it. I seriously believe that white sugar and candy are essential?

Honestly, I probably chose as I did because it was very doable and not very tough.  I could have chosen coffee but egads! That would have really hurt. I could have chosen meat (like my Catholic elementary school friends had to) but, you know, I really like meat. And though I enjoy fish and eggs, 40 days is a long time without a hamburger, or spaghetti, or chicken enchiladas.

I’m so thankful Jesus was willing to sacrifice the really tough stuff – HIS LIFE – for me. Makes my choices seem pretty silly in comparison. While I turn my nose up to cupcakes, fudge, cookies and Dove chocolates, Jesus turned himself over to crowds who jeer him, guards who beat him and soldiers/politicians who nail His hands and feet to a cross and kill him. Jesus chose death so that I could choose to fast candy. I’m pathetic.

So one day into my fast I’ve made a decision. I’m going to keep my commitment but I’m also going to spend more time with the other aspects of Lent – the prayer, alms giving, and repentance parts. It’s the very least I can do.

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