Before beginning your fast it is important to decide what will constitute your fast. Typically, a fast consists of only drinking water, but some people will fast from solid food while drinking fruit juice, hot tea, and water. There are also non-food related fasts that can be very beneficial. A fast from media can provide a large amount of time to spend with God. Deciding the why behind your fast can go a long way in helping you decide what kind of fast you might make. If I am fasting for the expressed purpose of spending some focused time with God, then a media fast is the prefect choice, for unlike refraining from eating, which does not free up much time, fasting from media can free a whole lot of time to be still and know God. However, if I am waging war against my flesh, (which is usually my reason) seeking to realign my allegiance to God, rather than my stomach and temporal comfort, then I choose a water only fast, sometimes incorporating hot tea, for when you fast you are more sensitive to the cold.
In April 2010 I pulled a Humpty Dumpty, falling close to twenty-five feet off a scaffold and landing on a cement floor. I broke my pelvis, shattered my left arm, and sustained both cranial and spinal injuries. Thankfully, “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” had hands adept at putting me back together again and a shell of a man became a man without a shell. The nice thing is that I’ve seen no residual mental damage. The nice thing is that I’ve seen no residual…oh, sorry.Read More Post a comment (6)
Recent studies of the brain tell us that it operates best when we’re in a joyful state. That made me think of Jesus walking through the betrayal, arrest and crucifixion, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, . . .” (Heb 12:2). How did Jesus move through these events with any kind of joy?
Fifteen plus years ago when I was introduced to the rich components of what we now commonly refer to as Spiritual Formation I was extremely excited about the transformation it would bring to the Church. Yet, as I scan the current landscape I must admit I am can be a bit disheartened. I know that there are people receiving spiritual direction, going on retreats, diving head first into practices of silence, solitude, and other ancient Christian pathways that bring challenge and renewal. There are wonderful opportunities for pastors and leaders to attend 1-2 year long spiritual formation journey’s that expose them to life-giving and transforming practices, there is no end of books on the topic, there are spiritual direction programs that are training individuals by the 1,000’s, there are seminaries providing MA and MDiv degrees in spiritual formation and there are many seminaries even mandating all those going through their institutions to take classes on spiritual formation so that their hearts and heads may be impacted by the gospel. I am extremely encouraged by those pieces, but I currently do not see a corresponding transformative change within the Church.
October, 1981. I was eighteen years old and a touring musician. I was 60 pounds overweight but spiritually malnourished and a two pack a day smoker. I spent most of my time with people like me, living lives of pretend-happy, inebriated make-believe. I was surrounded by faces.
But I was desperately lonely.Read More Post a comment (2)
I have been a professional church musician for over 45 years so worship has been a major focus of my life and thinking. I think a lot about the spiritual formation aspects of worship as I plan for each service. What it is really being formed in our hearts, minds, and souls during the hour most of us give to corporate worship each week? Is it hefty enough to balance out the spiritual formation that happens the other 167 hours of our week through TV, the Internet, and other popular culture? As Richard Rohr says, “Transformed people transform people.” Does “church” transform us so that we can transform the world?Read More Post a comment (1)
Say ‘yes’ to hope. The Scriptures are insistent about this.
“Hope in God” (Psalm 42:11).
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord” (Micah 7:7).
“And hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:5).Read More Post a comment (2)
As you ponder what you might want to do differently this year, some of your ideas no doubt revolve around simplicity. You want to make things less complicated and less stressful. It sounds good, but when you put it into practice it usually means cutting things out.Read More Post a comment (0)
I was familiar with the experience of a “fertile void” when Nancy, my spiritual director, mentioned it. I just didn’t know it by that name. I’ve known seasons when all seems quiet on the surface of my life, but there’s a subtle commotion brewing beneath the quiet; a place where things are composting; where my inner life is being turned over, my psychological structures broken down in order to become more deep and real and whole.Read More Post a comment (2)
In December, I led an Advent Retreat for our church in Colorado Springs. It was a one-day Saturday retreat at a nearby monastery. During much of the day, we took time to pause and think about Mary’s feelings when she was told she would soon be carrying the Son of God in her womb. It was life-giving to have permission to use our imaginations to ponder how dumbfounded and fearful she must have felt; to enter her own chaotic human story. There surely would have been many who would have talked about her with disdain and condemnation at being pregnant before she was married to Joseph. Can’t you just hear her telling some neighbors or casual acquaintances, “Well it is not Joseph’s child. No, we have not even slept together. I have conceived this child by the Holy Spirit who came upon me.” And they would have replied, “Oh sure Mary, that is a good one. I have never heard that line before. Shame on you. And we thought you were a respectable, God-fearing person.”Read More Post a comment (1)