3 books

29 01 2014

Very few books, written within the past 50 years, are actually worth a big chunk of your time. (more on that here)

For 2014, I’m recommending that everyone in our church read at least one of the following books.

Crazy Love – Francis Chan

Making Great Decisions – Bishop T. D. Jakes

No Perfect People Allowed – Pastor John Burke

There’s simply no example, in the Bible, of a believer taking a passive approach to their faith and ending up where God wants them to be.

Every believer can benefit from a bit of help.

We’ve started 2014 with a focus on God, first.

Want to add something to your Bible reading? These suggestions will help.

Let’s talk about your thoughts and reactions in 2014.

If you consider yourself mature in your faith, I can’t wait to hear what you think about all 3 books this year!

crazy love

francis chan

td jakesno perfect

FIRST: our prayer focus Jan 6-26

2 01 2014

What you’re focused on determines your direction. Your car should drive in whatever direction you point it. Whatever your heart is focused on – your life will be focused on…and this will determine much of what becomes of your life!

Setting aside time to focus on God is a perfect way to check your focus! Using the practice of “going without” is extremely helpful to that end. The practice of fasting means – going without…to focus on God. This practice removes distractions, concentrates your life on God, cleanses your soul, deepens humility, intensifies prayer, feeds your faith, produces self-control.

Biblical Fast – Going without food in order to focus yourself on God. Trading your meal time for prayer time… You do not fast to: obtain merit from God or to atone for sin. In contrast you are going without food, for a spiritual purpose, adding prayer, meditation, Bible reading or memorization, and seeking God for your life. Then prayer & fasting works something into you that prayer by itself would not.

“A man without self-control is like a city with broken down walls.” Solomon wrote in Proverbs. Do you want any thief to be able to have his way with your life? It’s possible for your life to be stolen away by losing days/weeks/years to a distracted & confused reality. You need focus! You need a focus on Jesus! Jesus knew that self-control would benefit us. That’s why He spoke to the issue of focus by using the word “first” (first in rank, importance, value). Jesus knew that not everything in our lives would be of the same value. Some things are more important than others. “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and you may know that phrase but not know what it means. More likely you also missed that Jesus says (in Matthew 6), “When you pray, when you give, when you fast,” as though these three activities were a part of normal Christian life. There’s really something to consider here.

In the spring we will enter the ancient Christian calendar season of Lent, the 40 days leading to Easter. It’s good to learn from our history. Three major themes of this practice are self-control, prayer, and reflection. It certainly brings great joy in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus! It also honors the 40 days that Jesus spent in prayer & fasting, Matthew 4. For more resources on Lent, click here.

For the past couple of years we’ve chosen to not observe Lent directly. We follow the principles by starting the year with a prayer and fasting focus on Jesus (January 6-26). Then during the ramp up to Easter we set aside time to consider, reflect, and celebrate the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ. At the beginning of every year: going without meats & sweets for 21 days to be focused on God through prayer & fasting. It’s a conviction, that starting a new year by seeking God brings us to right focus. As a church, we begin the New Year by setting aside a time of “sacred assembly” to dedicate ourselves to God afresh. As individuals, we set aside time for prayer & fasting to allow the Holy Spirit to deal with you personally (your life/home/work) – to make sure that anything that should not be in your life is cut out & things that should be in your life are put in. …that you experience a great encounter with God. How you choose to participate is very personal, and yet you can benefit from the group “water level”.

For each person this may be different. You may choose to go without certain activities, particular foods, or go without food entirely. Medical research actually shows that periodic fasting is good for your overall health and Hippocrates recommended medical benefits of fasting, including the fact that it slows the aging process. Recent research shows that giving your digestive system a break has many health benefits. Please consult your Dr before making any changes.

Personal spiritual disciplines…are just that. Please consider planning how you respond to Jesus (in Matthew 6), “When you pray, when you give, when you fast.” If this is a meaningful and personal commitment for you, it will mean something to God. If it doesn’t mean anything to you please don’t participate.

Here’s a few books to consider:

Fasting – Jentezen Franklin (also The Fasting Edge same author)

101 Reasons to Fast Dr Bob Rogers

Toxic Relief Don Colbert MD

(many other resources listed at the link posted above.)