Fasting is a spiritual discipline where one abstains from food in order to allow the physical pains of hunger to serve as a reminder of the spiritual hunger we should encounter when the spiritual disciplines of our lives fall absent. This time of abstaining from food is then used to spend time in prayer, meditation, and reflection of the Scriptures.
Fasting should be a regular rhythm of a Christian’s life, meaning it should be a habit one is mindful of and planning for in their monthly rhythms. Sadly, this spiritual discipline has fallen out of habit in the American church, which is odd being we are one of the most well-fed countries on earth. Food for thought.
I did everything I was supposed to do. I took the time to assess the year that was now coming to a close and I took the time to make a plan and develop a strategy for all that I was hoping to accomplish in the year ahead. I was ready and all that needed to happen was for the clock to turn over to the new year and I would be off to the races. But then reality happened and all my plans fell apart.
It’s a new year and you have set a few goals, made a couple of new year resolutions, and even written down a dream you hope to accomplish in the year ahead. Here’s the bad news.
Your goals will not be accomplished, your new year resolutions will be abandoned two weeks into January and your dream will continue to be nothing more than a figment of your imagination. The reason?
Does your life have a primary purpose? Is there a primary purpose for all of humanity? I believe there is. This is what I preached on yesterday at Harbor Church where we continued our “To Be The Church” sermon series with a message titled, “To Be On Mission.”
Here is the link to the audio recording of the sermon and below is a written manuscript. I will warn you that I only use the manuscript as an outline when I preach so there will be differences in the manuscript and the audio. I hope the message remains the same.
For too many people the church is simply a social club, just another place for them to win friends, grow their network, and find their support group. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, the church is so much more these fringe elements.
The church is the vehicle by which Jesus is completing his mission to save and redeem those people God has called and to see them grow and mature into the very image of Christ. Sadly, many churches today are struggling to survive. Could this be because we have moved away from biblical membership and instead created a membership understanding and process that looks more like a gym or a Costco membership where people pay their dues and then set for themselves the standard for which they must now be served?
Yesterday, I had the privilege of continuing our “To Be The Church” sermon series at Harbor Church with a message on “Discipline.” All Christians want to grow to be more like Jesus, but few want to do the work (or understand how to do the work) of discipline in order for the Spirit of God to do the work of transformation.
Throughout Scripture we see the call to grow in maturation and sanctification hearing the words of Paul to the church in Philippi that, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) as well as his words to Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). So how do we become disciplined disciples?
This past Sunday, I preached a sermon at Harbor Church titled, “To Be A Disciple.” In it we worked through a number of Scripture passages where Jesus interacts with various people regarding a “call to discipleship.” I also used a number of quotes and ideas from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my favorite authors and pastors of recent history.
Below, you’ll find some book recommendations that made a significant impact in my own discipleship and I pray they might be of help to you as well as you walk in daily discipleship with Jesus Christ.
This past Sunday I continued our sermons series, “To Be the Church” at Harbor Church with a message on the bible titled, “To Treasure God’s Word.” The big idea is that the bible is a book to be treasured but also to be used. Too often we either treat it like all of the other books we use for information, drawing out what makes us feel good while discarding the things that don’t, or we treat it like a family treasure yet fail to wipe off the dust and actually use it for the betterment of our lives. During the sermon I recommended a few books that I want to make sure you are able to add to your personal libraries at home.
Did you call it the flannel graph or the flannel board? You remember, the thing they used in Sunday school at your church growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I remember calling it the flannel graph, and oh, was it cool.
Flannel cutouts of Adam and Eve with appropriate fig leave coverings. Abraham and Isaac with a bonfire and a ram in a thicket. Moses with his glorious staff and the flaming tree. David with his slingshot and the giant, Goliath, with his sword and shield. I couldn’t wait to show up on Sunday and hear another story about how some awesome man or woman did something amazing for God.
At Harbor Church we have been walking through chapter 15 of the Gospel of John the past few weeks and looking at what it means to have an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Last week, I read through Jonathan Dodson’s book on discipleship and thought there was some great insight into where our abiding relationships can go sideways. The first and last part of the book were so-so but the middle section is a gold mine.
In the middle section Jonathan talks about the ways we distort discipleship by trying to mature on our own away from Christ instead of resting in him and growing in a deeper understanding of his life, death, and resurrection – the heart of the Gospel message.
This book helped me take a look at my own discipleship and allowed me to see some areas that I can get off track in my relationship with Jesus and how to course correct and come back to a relationship of abiding love and grace instead of one where I attempt to prove my love and gratitude toward him.
If you feel stuck in a rut in your maturation and sanctification I would encourage you to check out this short and easy read for yourself.