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.
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?
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.