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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jeff's 40 Day Fast with God

Fasting in an interesting component of the Christina faith and is exercised in a variety of ways in Scripture. We will find 40 day fasts and partial day fasts if we read diligently through His Word. Jesus’ own words indicate that fasting is an assumed discipline of our faith and is an integral part of our prayer life. It would seem, at least according to Jesus’ words, that fasting, giving, prayer, and loving each other are givens to genuine faith.
I used to have a regular practice of fasting, but to completely authentic, I don’t know when this ceased to be important to my life. In fact, this was a revelation in my time of prayer with God. I couldn’t figure out when it stopped and why I wasn’t doing it any longer. I had become the typical Christian in America who leaves fasting out of my spiritual life. Yet, based on the authority of Scripture, it is an important element of our prayer life.
Somewhere in early April my God began to try to communicate some issues which needed to be addressed in my life. Early on I realize it was time to get my weight changed. Since I didn’t have an NFL contract there really wasn’t a reason to be carrying 304lbs around. Despite the notion that I could “carry it well” it was simply unhealthy. Of course, the core issue wasn’t my weight, but the attitude and lack of discipline which caused the weight to be there. As with all sin, the consequence isn’t what we are to deal with, it is the attitude and mind-set which must be brought into conformity with God’s will for our lives.
I promptly lost 10lbs because I’m a guy. But the reality check was I couldn’t lose more. For the first time in my life I couldn’t lose weight simply because I wanted to. I was working out, etc. and nothing changed. I truly believe God’s speaks to us through the areas we listen best and this is an area I pay attention to. Toward the middle of April I was hearing loud and clear that something had to change. I began to sense that fasting component, but 40 days surely wasn’t what I was hearing. I’ve never fasted more than 7 days. A typical American.
But, I soon was hearing this loud and clear. I think I was even beginning to agree with when God gave the clear “sign.” I was at a conference for pastoral excellence due to the generosity of a fellow pastor (J.R. Coleman of The Word Community Church in Fresno). We had raffle tickets. I had been wrestling with God all morning about this 40 day fasting gig. I think I was leaning in his direction (reluctant obedience) but God would insure I got the message. I NEVER win raffles. I even stated this at my table.
The first number called was mine! So I went up and collected my book. What to venture a guess at the title of the book? Yes, it was called “Fasting” and written by Jentezen Franklin. Hey, Jentezen, just want you to know that God used your book to solidify His desire for my life. While I can certainly be slow on the up take, I got the message loud and clear. I ate lunch (J.R. had paid for it) and I began the 40 fast immediately. It was also made clear that it would be only water and tea. My personality type lends to just doing something so I started it.
Today I am in day 38 and I have experienced some incredible insights into my own behaviors which lent themselves to God needing to discipline me. Not punishment, but to get my life more in line for His Will to manifest more completely in what He has designed me to accomplish through the work He has already prepared for me to accomplish to His Glory.
Today has been an exceptional day. Through the generosity of Bruce and Alicia Negri, the owners of Shaver Lake Village Hotel I’ve had a place of solitude in the mountains. The mountains are a huge piece to me being connected to God. I love the outdoors, but especially the mountains. The magnificence of the mountains, the quietness of nature, and in this case, the fresh snow, contribute to a great sense of serenity and awe of my Creator. Several breakthroughs have taken place today.
I am so grateful for so many of you at CCC and other friendships who have fasted meals and prayed specifically for me during this journey. Please know your partnerships have helped me become something different. I have strong sense of being different. There have been supernaturally changes and impartations which will be revealed in the weeks to come. God gave a great confirmation to one area of our ministry today.
I was resolved to be technology free after my morning got going. I resolved not to respond to e-mails, text, and phone calls. I was deep in prayer, reading Psalms, and journaling what was being revealed. But somewhere this afternoon (I could check my phone for the specific time but I don’t believe it is relevant) my phone rang. I ignored it. Yet, I believe because of the Spirit’s leading, I decided to check my e-mail. This was no small task because I had over 300 message waiting for me. But, my cursor seemed to land on this one particular message. I read t and decided to call the person immediately. I had no sense I was “violating” my “no technology” day. In fact, I sense of urgency to respond out of my respect and care for the individual sending the message. I actually don’t know if that was the person who called but it is probably irrelevant.
Now before the phone call is described I need to share what some of my prayer had been about. As I read through Psalms I kept being reminded of David’s constant telling to God that he was faithful, righteous, and seeking to never violate God’s commands, precepts and laws. Now, any of us who know Scripture know that David sinned grievously against the Lord by committing adultery and then murdering the husband of the woman he committed the act with. Yet, David’s love for God, his desire to please His God, led Him to acknowledge the sin and even to accept the earthly consequence of that sin. It was because of this type of “Christian” faith that God would state that David, “was a man after His own heart.” Perfection isn’t what God looks for in our faith. We are incapable of such, which is the reason for our need for Christ. But, the closer we are to pursuing God the quick and more completely we are willing and able to seek God’s forgiveness and restoration to being in relationship to Him. David was one who readily admitted his inadequacies and sought to be close to God.
Today, this hit me hard. I had no right to disqualify myself from God’s plans simply because I wasn’t “perfect.” That isn’t even His desire for me. His desire for me is to seek after Him all that I do and when I fail look to Him. Admit my inadequacies and allow Him to transform and restore me to His original plan for my life. My life matters to Him and it matters to how He wants me to be used for the benefit of others.
The ministries I am allowed to lead, Central Community Church and Highway City Community Development, have mighty goals based on what we believe God’s vision is for the community Highway City and Central Unified School District. One of those goals is to establish the Urban Leadership Training Center which we will call “The Hub.” This ministry will train up college age and others to become ministers in urban settings all over the United States. They will be trained in racial reconciliation, learning to be cross-cultural, helping develop indigenous leadership, and being trained in advocacy and training the local community to do the same. They will accomplish this by living among the people they are called to serve. It is vitally important that we have a director to help guide, train, and counsel these interns. They will live in biblical community for 10 months. We need to raise the funding to pay the salary for this person. He is already picked out and has been in a training program with “The Pink House” in Fresno (we will be partners with them and follow their lead).
Today I, with a great deal of discomfort, asked God to come to our aid. I asked Him to search my heart if what I was envisioning in this ministry was not for Him alone. I asked Him if my integrity of spirit was not what I felt it to be. I asked, if this servant (me), would be found righteous in His eyes if He would not pour out a blessing to sustain our ministries. It was after journaling these prayers and continuing to pray that I answered the above mentioned e-mail.
I was informed we would be receiving a $1,000 check toward Highway City Community Development. We will use this to begin the support raising for The Hub’s director.
I did not fast to receive anything from God. Quite simply, I fasted because I sincerely believe God told me to. I also confess that there is no way I could have completed this unless, as Caleb said, “the Lord helping me” it would be accomplished. I do not understand why God blesses simple obedience. But, I do know that all through Scripture He promises to do just that.
This fast has changed my life. It has changed my relationship with my Creator and Savior. It has changed how I pray and how I understand the dynamics of “failure” in my faith. I pray the transformation of my life will be a direct benefit to the people who cross my path each and every day.
I hope this blog serves to encourage you and initiate a desire to more of the God who not only created you, but sacrificed Himself in order to participate in His original plan for your life. Simply put, to live WITH Him on a daily basis. The rest takes care of itself. God bless you.