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Posts Tagged ‘testing God’

fruits and veggiesThe roots of the Daniel Fast come from this portion of the book of Daniel who circumvented the commands of King Jehoiakim of Babylon, who conscripted several bright men from the Israelites to be trained and to serve in the king’s palace. But part of their training was to eat and drink from the royal food (something most people would jump at the chance to do — something like being invited to the White House to eat 3 squares for 3 years]. But Daniel considered the food of Babylonia defiled and came up with a test:

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. [Daniel 1:11-16, NIV]

So, a few of us at Restore Church  will be working a modern day interpretation of this fast for 21 days. Susan Gregory wrote a book about the fast and has promoted it around the country since 2007. It’s actually a “partial fast” which means that we will only be fasting from certain foods and not others. In this case, we will be abstaining from all meats, fish, dairy, coffee and carbonated drinks. The Daniel Fast website has a complete food list.

The first question everyone asks is why? It’s a good and valid question. Personally, I have done a pretty good amount of fasting, at least once a year. But in all of those cases, I have done a complete fast, finding the partial fast too difficult. But I am drawn this time to the regimen and sharing the experience with others. During this time, I will continue to add my other Lenten practices. Basically, I’m curious. And there are health reasons too. I am testing these waters as well. Will I feel better?

There will be more food preparation and in some ways, I worry a bit about the time involved, something that full fasting releases me from having to think about. Nonetheless, I am forging ahead. And perhaps, there will be a mind-body-spirit integration that I could not have predicted.

Day one begins March 6.

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I’m not sure which is harder, contemplating this scripture from the book of Mark or reading Oswald Chambers’ entry for March 12.

labyrinthAfter calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. [Mark 5:34-35, CEB]

Chambers wrote: Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ”

Sometimes “taking up our cross” is couched in testing language. Test God, give this up or let go of that, and yTower of Babelou’ll see, God will bless you. Or, and I’m sure I’m not alone, there’s a lot of “gimme prayers,” even ones are cloaked in the name of empathy: “Oh Lord, heal so and so, I love them so much.” It’s as though our love or our prayers might just do the trick and turn God’s heart. Or even worse, those times we have called on God exchange our lives for someone else’s, as though that kind of martyrdom would make a difference; after all, we would only inflict loss and pain on those around us.

I am thoroughly self-centric. I confess it amidst great embarrassment. Just by writing, I have to admit to a certain audaciousness. I have done the very thing Oswald speaks of: flashing God’s power in my life. [Look what God did for little old me.]

egoPerhaps it’s a little of Eckart Tolle coming through, his view of the ego and its battle with Spirit/Now/Presence, however it would be best to express it in his terms. But the point is the same: the “I” in us continually seeks to find the center of our universe. That “I” says, “How does this affect me? What happens to me? What about me? What about what’s best for me?” (Effie sings in Dream Girls)

pelican sacrificeTruly losing oneself happens without fanfare. As soon as I say, oh I have given up all for Christ and carry His cross, well, quite honestly, I’ve just “found” myself wearing different stripes. Nothing has really changed.

No. Losing oneself slips in unnoticed.

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