Lasting Fasting

Lasting Fasting

Most Martial Arts (Karate, Judo, etc.) seem the opposite of what they say. Although their name speaks of violence (Martial from Mars, the mythical war god) they avoid violence by redirecting the force of an attack to make the attacker powerless. A thrown punch by an attacker is pulled rather than blocked by the one being attacked. So the attacker’s own power is redirected against him and goes another way to make him powerless.

Fasting (not eating or doing something you otherwise would have eaten or done) is like that. You don’t just stop eating and starve yourself. You redirect the energy you would have given to eating another way to bless someone else.

As JESUS explains what following Him means on a mountaintop to those who want to know about Him, He mentions fasting. He says when you go without something, don’t make a big show of it. Make it a part of your normal lifestyle between you and GOD to redirect that energy for self to bless someone else.

JESUS says that if you go without eating and call attention to yourself for it you’re filling yourself up with attention. But if it’s a secret between you and GOD you redirect that energy spent on self to GOD and loving others in His Name.

Not eating? Spend that money you would have spent on a meal for a gift card to a food store for the homeless you pass. No homeless? Choose a charity or church. Need exercise? Help clean an elderly person’s home. Mow their lawn. Redirect the money, food, energy you would have spent on self to helping someone else through the power of the love of JESUS in you.

GOD is all powerful. But when Satan used what power GOD gave him to try to use death to stop JESUS, GOD the Son, GOD redirected Death into Life. JESUS used the very Cross meant to defeat Him as the means to defeat Death. He used His spilled Blood to wash those Who believe Him for it from sin. He used the Grave as His Doorway to open eternal Life to those who give up their lives to have the Life only He is and gives.

Fasting is meant to be a lasting lifestyle of Love. It redirects attention and blessings and resources from ourselves to the needy. Through the power of Love it is meant to show others the way to JESUS by not pointing to us but to Him. That love points from us into eternity.

“”And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:16-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Waiting at the Bus Stop For Your Ship to Come In

When you get as old as I am, you’re supposed to have wisdom to pass on to younger folks. I don’t know if they’d listen or if they can.

But if I have any advice in life it would be the importance of two things:

Believe in the LORD JESUS Christ & be saved.

And the truth of the saying, “Time and tide wait for no one.”

We all hear it when we’re young. We think we have forever but that’s only possible when you know you’re Blood bought by GOD the Son Who wants you to have eternal Life.

So first make sure you have eternity. And then cherish every moment of Life. Even those times that seem like Hell on earth. Shut out the noise. Breathe in the Breath of GOD and live that moment.

Because it will be gone like the tide pulling the perfect shell away from your feet just as you reach for it. And it will never return. You may settle but you will always hear the wave and seek that shell but never find it. Keep living. Keep breathing. Keep moving.

Don’t be the person who spent their life at the bus stop waiting for their ship to come in.

Especially in love. Especially in love. Especially when every part of your body, mind and soul says you’re in love.

When you open your eyes in the morning knowing life is worth living because you’ll see that face again and that is your objective of the day. To breathe more deeply in their presence.

But the tide pulls out. Don’t let go. Learn to swim. Build a boat. Fall on your hands and knees and grab that shell.

Then move with the tide. Move with time. They’ll be gone and you’ll be tossed into eternity and the arms of JESUS. Smiling. Having fully loved. Having been fully loved. Having no regrets.

I stand at the bus stop waiting for my ship to come in. But my feet are still wet. Because she swam without me but I told her in that moment. She has my shell in her memory and I have her memory in my shell, still calling me to swim.

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That Thine Though

That Thine Though

I work in a library where we offer books for free to soldiers and family members before the books are recycled. Many of these books have been well loved and have notes eagerly scribbled in them during an “Ah ha!” moment where reader meets eyes with author, perhaps over centuries, to share an idea.

There are lines like that in the Bible. Bible texts are more reliable than any other text in ancient Greek or Hebrew. But some few passages are difficult to distinguish between what was inspired by GOD in the original and what was added in a moment of inspiration by a reader, manuscript copiest or translator. Matthew 16:13 is like that.

We know JESUS prayed in His model prayer teaching others how to pray that we should pray to be kept from evil and the evil one. But the sudden jump in the next phrase, “For Yours (“Thine” in the King James) is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory, Forever, Amen” is unclear.

That phrase was ignored by early Christian commentators. It doesn’t exist in many early copies.

So did JESUS actually say this phrase? If He did not speak this exact phrase at that moment, JESUS and all of Scripture said the same point throughout the Bible.

It’s obvious from the very first chapter of the Bible that GOD created everything that is or ever was. So it is obvious that He (GOD the Father, to Whom JESUS, GOD the Son, addresses His prayer) owns all power and glory forever. JESUS says that he and the Father are mystically One. He is described as the Means not only of Creation but of holding all things together. The Bible says that only GOD lives forever and that He has been from forever and that there will be no end to His (Christ’s) Kingdom.

Over and over Scripture affirms and JESUS made the point that GOD has all Glory and all Power forever and ever. And the fervent assent of “Amen!” (As it should be!) is simply the speaker’s signature of agreement.

Did JESUS say the phrase “For Yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, Forever, Amen!”? With every Word He spoke and every action He took. With every drop of Blood willingly given in obedience to GOD the Father and out of love for us on the Cross. With His steps out of death and into Resurrection. And with His movement in Spirit in every soul that trusts Him for eternal life because He rescued them.

“For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever! Amen!” Matthew 6:13 (KJV)

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Testing! Testing!

Testing, Testing

My father was a genius who never graduated High School but taught himself to repair anything electronic. Whenever he tested microphones or recording equipment he’d shout into the microphone “Testing! One, Two, Three, Four!” to see if it worked as designed.

The Bible says a lot about testing. And there are several varieties. But we will only look at one today. That one in The LORD’s Prayer/The Our Father, the model JESUS uses to teach us to pray, is the most important…and most terrifying. It is terrifying because it suggests that even GOD is about to give up on us. JESUS says that we should pray for GOD to never give us over to the devil to allow him to test us. This is the first type of testing, Temptation.

Temptation is the kind of testing JESUS went through for us when Satan tried to get Him to use His authority as GOD the Son for Himself. The moment JESUS did anything for Himself would have been the disqualifier of being our Savior/Rescuer. His death would not apply to us and there was no reason to die for Himself because He was sinless. The only way to keep you from Hell would have been gone.

JESUS says to pray we never come into temptation because it is a sign that we are trying to take His place as Rescuer and Judge. We are saying that we can make it without Him.

The interesting thing is that JESUS inserts this request not to be tempted in the middle of a request and explanation about forgiveness.

JESUS teaches us to pray for forgiveness for our “debts”, our “trespasses”, what we owe GOD and humanity as a child of GOD. There will always be a lack in our humanity between what we should be and know and do and who we are, know and do. JESUS Himself fills that gap by overcoming the devil and temptation. He fills the gap with His Blood from the Cross. He fills our heart with His Spirit…IF we are His. IF we have accepted what He has done as enough.

But then He suddenly veers off from this request about forgiveness. He says forgive us BECAUSE and TO THE DEGREE we have forgiven others then goes into not being TEMPTED by the Evil One. Then like a car careening from one side to the other He’s back on forgiving again.

Forgiveness of others is the key. When we realize JESUS has died to forgive us of everything that keeps us from GOD, we will forgive others. Our debts (what we owe GOD) is paid by JESUS. If we genuinely have been changed by His Spirit we will forgive what others “owe” us (in respect, in money, in love, in anything).

If we belong to Christ GOD forgives us what we owe Him because His Blood fills the gaps. But if we do not forgive others of what we perceive we “lack” from them it is a sign we are putting ourselves in the place of GOD.

This is why JESUS will later tell a story about a servant who owed millions to his boss for robbing him being forgiven but then demanding a debt of $100 from someone else. Not realizing the enormity of the Grace given to him by giving Grace to others condemned him.

When we do not show the natural by-product, the “fruit” of the Spirit of Love given to those by GOD when they fully give themselves to Christ, we put ourselves in Christ’s place of Judge. GOD will allow the Enemy of our Souls, Satan, to tempt us to make ourselves (and ultimately self-centered Satan) king instead of Christ.

Christians face temptation in and from the world. But the Spirit of Christ in them is stronger and will resist, like the air in a basketball keeping it inflated in spite of the pressures around it.

If we begin to “deflate” it is a sign we may not have Christ’s Spirit in us. We haven’t trusted Christ to be our Payment so forgive others for what they “owe.” And He will allow the devil to pressure us until and unless we come to JESUS for filling. Like the electronics my father tested, GOD is calling, “Testing! Testing!” to see if we are functioning as we should.

People sometimes think there is good on one side and evil on the other. But that is not true. GOD repeatedly says throughout the Bible that He is in control of evil as well as good. He uses evil to tempt those who do not live like their lives are paid for by the Savior, GOD the Son, JESUS, Who overcame evil. And JESUS teaches us to pray that our lives are never so lacking in grace and love to others that He uses the Evil One to tempt us because we don’t seem like Christ’s sheep but Satan’s goats.

Matthew 6:12-15, ESV

“and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:12-15‬, ESV

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Eating Eternity

Eating Eternity

Being Italian, bread has always been important to me. Especially those big, crusty loaves with the rounded ends that reminded me as a boy of my grandmother’s elbows. Hot, chewy bread flowing with olive oil, garlic and cheese or simply slathered with sweet, creamy butter. Filling and satisfying to a poor family with not much else to eat. We didn’t know if we’d have it tomorrow. We couldn’t buy it as easily as folks do today. But we were filled for the day.

JESUS, GOD the Son, asks GOD the Father for daily bread as He teaches people trying to learn from Him how to pray as they sit on a mountainside. And that daily part is important, just as bread was always important and would always be important to GOD’s people.

Bread was part of sacrifices GOD instructed to be given from earliest times. Wheat from which bread was made symbolized the people of GOD while barley symbolized the rest of the world and loaves of both kinds were made for sacrifice to GOD.

Bread, matzoh, was a key element of the Passover celebration marking the people of GOD being freed so quickly that bread was not to have leaven so it wouldn’t be required to rise.

Daily bread isn’t something JESUS made up in the Sermon on the Mount but a reminder of Scripture that asked GOD to give just enough for that day to avoid trying to live without GOD with too much or succumbing to stealing out of hunger from too little. Just the kind of temptation JESUS would mention in the next line of His model prayer.

But greatest of all is the symbolism JESUS used as His Body being the Bread of Life which would be given for those who believe in Him for eternal Life, broken on the Cross. JESUS says He is the Bread of Life.

JESUS is our daily bread of satisfaction. He fills us and satisfies us, sustains us day by day. But how can that be when we long for a life others have but we seem to be denied? We aren’t satisfied if we’re still longing for more. But that’s the point. Our satisfaction is knowing JESUS is our daily satisfaction. Like the Manna in the wilderness and like the prayer not to have too much, JESUS calls us to be satisfied with what He has given us for eternity today. And He will sustain us through the impossible longing tomorrow into fulfillment in eternity.

JESUS gave Himself to give us eternity but we can’t even understand what that is. We must be satisfied with today. And that fulfillment can only come in mouthfuls of the day to day.

When JESUS resisted Satan’s temptation to turn stones to bread to satisfy His hunger, He said “Man does not live on bread alone but by every Word that comes from the Mouth of GOD.”

JESUS is the Bread of Life. He sustains us and satisfies us. He is also the Word of GOD in Flesh. That Word is our seeing in the Bible how He loves us and gives us eternal life if we believe Him for it as He demonstrated in His Life, death and resurrection for us. But we can only eat eternity one mouthful at a time.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11, ESV

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Jesus and Blue Suede Shoes

Charles Spurgeon’s question “What would JESUS do?” is very poor theology. It leads us to try to guess in our own power and makes us assume our ungodly choices are justified. Like putting a white jumpsuit over a 60-something beer belly with blue suede shoes and saying you’re Elvis. Scripture tells us when we are Christians the Holy Spirit acts through us to live in our context not to guess about Christ’s. We will recognize Him in others.

But when the Apostle Paul says to follow him, that’s discipleship. He’s doing what JESUS told the other apostles and disciples in the Great Commission to do, to teach what He said and did. We see it demonstrated and, along with Scripture, can feel safe in the interpretation not only of words but of action in ways we can understand.

But the real questions we Christians should be asking are, what have we learned and received and heard and seen from other mature Believers today? And how are we influencing others to seek JESUS by what we are teaching and saying and doing in word and deed today? Then we will be walking in Paul’s shoes, sandals not blue suede, fulfilling the mission JESUS gave us.

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, ESV)

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Against Loneliness

I know the LORD Who is stronger than loneliness and Who overcame loneliness for me.

I know JESUS Christ Whose bride is the Church, His Body, to which I belong, and believe He has a partner for me.

I am a part of the family of GOD and believe His Word that He puts the lonely in families.

I trust Him with my loneliness in this life as much as I do for eternal life which I cannot conceive.

And I trust Him not only because of what He has said but because of Who He is and Who I know Him to be.

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Purely Yours

As I thought about Psalm 139 today, the prayer that came to mind was, “LORD, let me be purely Yours!” Purely as in completely. Pure in intention. Pure in love. Pure in lifestyle as His Presence to others. May we each have this prayer and intent today, to have JESUS purify Who He has made us to be through His perfect sacrifice on the Cross in our every day living as purely His.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Purely Youre

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The Sore Loser

I told my Jewish friend Bobby about JESUS many years ago and believe he became a Christian. The world labelled him mentally retarded but I always told him he was smarter than me. He died from complications of diabetes a while back.

While others ask “What would JESUS do?” (surprisingly bad theology from Charles Spurgeon), whenever I am mistreated and am tempted to just let it go I ask myself “What would you do if this happened to Bobby?” And I stand up for him and myself. I “push back.”

I still lose. I’m still discriminated against. The hypocrites win. But I know I did the right thing, not for myself but for Bobby. And I hope he and JESUS are proud.

Luke 16:19-21 (ESV)

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—
28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

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Lunacy Isn’t Love

Every institution of higher education (college/university) and every institution of healing (hospital) in the United States was founded by Christian ministers. Today most are liberal swamps where the mention of Christ is actually punished.

Why? Because of other Christians failing to keep the standards and in the name of “Love” allowing Lucifer’s lunacy to have leadership.

Christian parents who “allow children to choose” whether to believe in Christ or not or to choose their own faith have damaged faith themselves and are condemning them, possibly, to Hell. Their permissiveness is “loving” them to death.

So are you every time you allow the idea that anything and anyone but Christ is equal to Him. Allow others to express their beliefs? Of course. But never believe your complicity to their ignorance is love. Your so-called “love” is betrayal of Christ, Truth Himself. And you will be liable by the mouths of those lost souls themselves, screaming in torment “Why didn’t you tell me the Truth?!”

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