Today’s Meatspace Monday is a guest post from Jeff Krieger. He is the Director of Media for New Valley Church in Phoenix, AZ. He loves his wife, Kira, his new son, Colin, his border collie, Viva, and all of his iPhone apps.
The Secret Part of Me
I’m learning more and more about this secret part of me.
It’s a part I know is there, but I typically don’t realize how much influence it has on my life. It’s the part of me that wants to be the guy in the Lexus commercial I just saw. It’s snowing and his wife is taking a picture of him in front of his brand new LS400 with a huge, red bow on it. All my life, I’ve never gotten anything that big with a huge, red bow on it. Not even a bow. I want the car with the heated leather seats, the nav system, the doors that open and engine that starts just by knowing that I’m close by. (A car this great loves me and puts total trust in me.) I want the perfect little house acting as their backdrop. I want his salary. I want to provide for my family. I want to take my friends and relatives out for a huge meal at Houston’s and tell them, “Get whatever you want. I got it.” Just one Christmas, I wanna be that guy.
And then there’s my real life.
I have been working at a small church plant as the Director of Media slash Elder slash Director of Volunteers slash Director of Mercy slash Admin slash Discipler slash you get it. Just had a baby. Recently got a raise. Which we needed because my wife stopped working. Well, the same month I received my raise, the economic crunch hit. And it didn’t take long for that to affect our church community. Two weeks ago, I was asked how much of the raise I could live without. I even started looking for a part-time job to help supplement the loss of the raise. Not really a Lexus commercial waiting to happen.
Because of the hit it has taken on our folks (and our offering), we (the elders) decided it would be good to have a day of prayer and fasting. And as we do this coming week, I was reminded about what fasting is, what it is not, and why I (and I’m guessing you) desperately need to do it.
What fasting Is
Let me just say this right off. I don’t like to fast. I like food. When I walk into PF Chang’s, they yell my name a la “Norm!” on Cheers. I am not fat, mind you. I just like to eat. So, fasting … not really high on the list.
There are over 92 verses in the Bible related to and calling God’s people to fast. Every hero of the faith has shown the example of praying and fasting at some point in their lives (check out Campus Crusade’s discussion of fasting).
Fasting is a way of using hunger to remind me of things that I often forget. When I do not eat, my hunger reminds me that …
Despite Appearances at Times, I am Not in Control
It often takes getting out of our normal routine to really reflect on our lives. Or, sometimes a tragedy out of nowhere (say … an economic crunch) that shakes up our lives and reminds us that God is God, and I am not. Fasting is a self-induced way of getting ourselves out of our routine and reminding ourselves that we are human and finite.
I Need God
When I think about my life … when I really think about what the totality of my life is all about, is the first thing that comes to mind food? Or, when I am asked what I want to define my life by, is it the number of movie quotes I know? I’m guessing you said no to those like I did. When I look at my life (as a Christian), I know deep down it is not about those things. And yet, this is what I choose to focus much of my time, thought, money, and passion on. I am very skilled at consuming. I am not so good at disciplining my body, mind, and spirit to be in tune with health (what God wants for my life). Fasting and prayer bring me back to the fact that I need some Life outside of that secret part of me that’s at work – the part that is longing for the Lexus with headlights that move.
I Need to Pray
When I fast, I get hungry. When I get hungry, I am reminded to pray. Fasting allows me to demonstrate to God that instead of depending on food, I am choosing to depend on Him.
What Fasting is Not
Briefly, fasting is not a way to get God to like you. You might know this, but here it comes again … when God sees you (if you are a Christian), He sees Christ. You have been given favor by God not because of some rituals you did on earth (good intentioned or not). You are in good standing with God because Christ did the work, and the Father has transferred that acceptance onto you.
And lastly, fasting is not just a way to feel like you are a “better” Christian than others. We all have laws that we try to stick to (yes, even us Christians) that give us worth and identity. Mission trips, working in full-time ministry, sharing our faith, and prayer and fasting can all quickly turn into pharisaical litmus tests for how “deep” and authentic a Christian WE really are. Nope. Fasting isn’t about that (otherwise, instead of telling us to do it in secret, Jesus would’ve told us to compare notes in church).
So, we are asking our community to do this. And I invite you to do the same. This isn’t a mandate. And it doesn’t have to be food that you fast from. It could be whatever you are choosing to focus your time, your thought , your passion, and perhaps your money on. Maybe it’s coffee. Maybe it’s TV. Maybe it’s your iPhone. Hold up. That is NOT even funny. Forget I said iPhone. That is definitely not applicable here.
This is an invitation to pray and to fast. We invite you to pray for the people in our country and around the world who are suffering due to the economy … perhaps those who have experienced a loss of income or even loss of a job. We invite you to pray for our leaders that God would give them wisdom.
We are learning in our community that what the folks in our church choose to dwell on, to attach their hearts to, to spend their money on, and to choose to build their lives around wholly affects our body. And, more specifically, as a church worker, it affects whether I can fully devote my time to the church. This is not an attempt to guilt anyone. It is just me trying to share the realities of how this time we are in affects us all.
So, again, I invite you to fast and pray with us this Tuesday, November 25. I’ve already decided to give up some food and all internet and iPhone use that is not essential to my work that day. And, I am guessing, that God will honor that by redirecting my heart toward the things He wants for my life. I’m pretty sure He’s got a big, red bow somewhere, too.