A Jesus Diet?

I didn’t grow up in a “fasting” household. I knew about fasting, but had never seen anyone practice it, much less preach about it. As an adult I’ve only been led to fast a handful of times, once for 3 days, and all the other times for only a day. A few days ago a friend of mine posted a link on her Facebook page to this site: www.40daystosaveamerica.com and I clicked on it. Immediately God impressed upon me the desire to do a 40 day fast while not only praying for our nation before the elections, but seeking a personal spirit of revival and repentance.

No matter what comes of the elections, or what side of the street we stand on concerning politics, I think we can all agree that the world needs revival—Christians need revival. This is something we can all be praying for in our own hearts and the hearts of our brothers and sisters.

Not everyone will be called to do a 40 day fast, and many will feel led to give up something other than food. I know some who are doing a Facebook fast, a coffee fast, or giving up other things and exchanging those wants for prayer. Fasting or not, earnest, sincere prayer is essential for the Christian.

And just in case I was feeling like maybe I heard God’s voice wrong (or even hoping I heard wrong!), I received the following devotional in my email this morning, which happens to be day #1 of my fast. It spoke directly to me, and I know you’ll be blessed by it as well. No matter what you choose to do for the next 40 days, I hope you will dive deeper into prayer for whatever God lays on your heart. This time will certainly not be wasted, as we know He saves every prayer for a future sacrifice of worship (see Every Prayer Uttered).

Blessings, my friends!

~Rebecca

 

A Diet in Jesus’ Name?
By Skip Heitzig

We focus a lot on food. Eating is one of our favorite pastimes, and we talk a lot about food. There are even place names that are foods. There’s Two Egg, Florida… Bacon, Delaware… Pancake, Texas… Hot Coffee, Mississippi.

One thing you don’t hear a lot about today is fasting. But did you know the Bible mentions fasting more times (nearly 60!) than even the “important” subjects like baptism?

Fasting is not a “diet in Jesus’ name.” It’s not a way to lose weight and be blessed. Fasting is done for spiritual motives.

In the Bible, fasting was done in times of danger, like when Esther was preparing to approach the king of Persia (see Esther 4). It’s a part of repentance: Both Daniel and Ezra fasted in response to the sins of the people, and the king of Nineveh ordered a fast when that city repented (see Jonah 3). Fasting was done in preparation for an important task or ministry. Jesus fasted 40 days and nights before He began His preaching ministry, and the apostles fasted before they sent Paul and Barnabas out (see Acts 13).

Fasting is a time when we take the focus off of ourselves, and put it on God and His will. (And that’s hard, in a culture where we worship self-reliance, self-determination, and self-worth!) Fasting reminds us that we belong to Him and that He owns us (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.). It’s a time when we discipline the body, and make our appetite our slave rather than our master.

In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus speaks of hypocritical motives for fasting. Note that he says “when you fast,” not “if.” Fasting is not to be for some group in a monastery; it’s to be the norm!

Jesus’ point was that God never fails to notice fasting that is heartfelt and genuine, and that He will reward it. (Note: We don’t fast to gain God’s favor or “twist His arm” so He will do something!) But how would God reward a fasting saint? Through deeper intimacy with Him. By letting us know His will. By giving us clarity of understanding in a difficult situation, or a new strategy for ministry.

There are benefits to fasting (and here I’m going from less to more spiritual):

Fasting is good for our health. During a prolonged fast, the body lives on surplus fat. It renews the body and the mind. It helps the body control weight and dispose of wastes.

It teaches us self-discipline. Many of us are slaves to habits, but fasting makes desire our slave rather than being our master. It reminds us we can live without a lot of things. The prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” will be more meaningful.

It helps us appreciate God’s gifts more. Fasting helps us feel our dependence upon God in this affluent, self-sufficient society.

It helps us see the needs of others: Going without food gets us in touch with people who live that way every day. That will make our prayer life more effective as well as activate us to help.

Fasting is always accompanied with prayer, and it will boost your prayer life. It’ll sharpen our praying—it changes the way we pray…and perhaps the results.

The pleasures of eating are fleeting, but the pleasures of fasting are lasting!

Copyright © 2012 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

 

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Nagging Emasculation

There are few things more emasculating than an incessantly nagging wife. It sends him the message (over and over and over and over…) that he is not good enough, he’s a failure, he’s an idiot, and he’s completely incapable of being the husband she wants. Living under these circumstances for any length of time a man starts to give up; he can’t do anything right anyways.

I don’t bring it up to say I have conquered this problem. Part of me wonders if nagging is a gene inherent to wives, but I know the truth. Nagging is inherent to my fleshly nature and desire to have my own way when I want it, how I want it, and any cost to my husband’s self-esteem.

“A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day.” (Prov. 27:15) In other words, a nagging wife is tantamount to ancient Chinese versions of water torture. Ouch. The last thing I want is to torture my hard-working husband with my words. Shaunti Feldhahn notes this principle in her book For Women Only, as she interviews thousands of men to find out what they really think about these issues.

“Instead of affirming, a wife reinforces her husband’s feelings of inadequacy, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if we focus our attention on what he is doing wrong in the relationship, we can unwittingly undermine what we most want–for him to do what is right–I discovered a dismaying fact. Of the men I surveyed, only one man in four felt actively appreciated by his family.  And 44 percent of men felt unappreciated at home. More pointedly, men in their prime years of responsibility for home, children, and work–men between the ages of thirty-six and fifty-five–felt even less appreciated. ” (p. 68)

Ladies, what’s going on!? Surely we can do better than that! Biblical standards don’t change based on our circumstances (working or staying-at-home). A glance at Proverbs 31 easily testifies to this. The virtuous woman not only works, but “watches over the affairs of her household” (vs. 27) receiving the praise of her husband and children. I didn’t see anything in that chapter about nagging her husband to take out the trash, pick up his clothes, fix the garage door, or close the toilet seat.

After nearly nine years I have finally given up the battle to change my husband. Instead, I am replacing the nagging tendencies with those of praise and support. God is allowing me to recognize my husband’s deep seated insecurities and giving me opportunities to combat them with supportive attitudes and actions.

I can take out the trash myself, or tear down my husband the second he steps in the doorway because he didn’t do it.

I can keep the house clean so when he comes home he’s not tripping over toys, or I can allow my daughter to do whatever she wants while I’m busy plucking away on my computer, telling my husband I’m too busy to care what he thinks of the house.

I can scoop the dog poop myself, or I can spend an hour complaining to my husband about how disgusting the yard is, scheduling work for him to do on his next day off.

I can pick up his dirty socks from every place but the hamper, or I can send him an angry text message explaining how once again, I cleaned up after him and he needs to grow up.

Simply put, I can keep my mouth shut. Turn off the faucet. Stop the incessant dripping.

I can ask God to replace the nagging words with those of praise and affirmation. I can spend all day cleaning up my husband’s messes, and still choose to tell him how much I appreciate his hard work, refusing to bring attention to his short-comings.

“Men need a place where they can make their mistakes in peace.” For Women Only (p. 71)

I want to treat my husband how I’d like him to treat me. I want to show him–with my actions more than my words–the love of Jesus. I want to actively refuse to point out his faults and choose to let God expose my own. I can forgive his down-falls like Jesus has forgven mine. I can show mercy like I’m given mercy by my righteous Savior. By God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit alone, I can turn emasculation into affirmation by simply seeking God’s desire for me as a wife.

“Your beauty…should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”(1 Pet. 3:4)

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

Just Need a Little R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

I awoke at 3:30am to the struggling gasps of my husband. I’m not going to lie, it frightened me. He’s struggled with his weight and some other harmful habits, so I wondered if he was having a heart attack. He got up, gasping, and went to lie on the couch. Later he said he thought he might have had a bad dream, but wasn’t sure what had caused the difficulty breathing.

I found myself praying for him in ways I don’t usually do. Along with prayer, I was reminded of the way I’ve struggled to be a Biblical wife. Our relationship tends to resemble really good friends who sleep in the same house but otherwise live different lives. I know I can’t control how he acts and feels, but I can allow God to re-shape my thinking.

First one on the list is my respect level. Admittedly, it’s hard to respect someone who disagrees with me about nearly everything, especially spiritual matters. Regardless, I am called to respect (Eph. 5:33₁), and submit to my husband (1 Pet. 3:5₂, Eph. 5:22₃, Col. 3:18₄) whether or not he is acting as spiritual leader of the home. (“Submit” in Greek literally means to obey, be under obedience, put under, subdue unto, or subject and “respect” [used in Eph. 5:33] can be translated reverence, fear, or to be in awe.)

Every time I roll my eyes, think to myself how right I am and how wrong he is, talk about him in a negative manner, or choose to do something he has made clear he’s against (even if it’s a church function),  I have disrespected him.

Just because I am a Jesus follower and he is not, doesn’t mean I am any better than him (Col. 3:23-25₅, Phil. 2:3₆). He still commands my submission, as my husband. Most hear the word submit and assume it demeans the woman, involving slave work. I  look at it as “servant” work. I am to serve my husband, whether I work outside the home or not, he is my husband and I am his wife, he is the head, I am the help-meet (Gen. 2:20-24₇). Sometimes that means allowing him to make the decisions, even if they’re not Biblical. Who do I think I am, anyways? Do I not serve a God big enough to change my husband’s heart? Does God really need my help to show my husband “the light”? I think not. My biggest witness will be my attitude (1 Pet. 3:1-2₈).

So I am on a new mission to revisit some books and studies I dug into last summer about Biblical womanhood and living in a spiritually mismatched relationship. This morning I opened up “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn. In this book the author interviews thousands of men about issues like respect, sex, and self-esteem so the entire book is written for women from the view-point of men. It’s an eye-opener for sure.

“Several men confessed that they felt like their opinions and decisions were actively valued in every area of their lives except their home. Some men felt that their comrades at work trusted their judgment more than their own wives did…more than one wife has made the mistake of ordering her husband around like one of the kids.” (pp. 29-30)

Lord, help me.  There is so much dirt in my heart that still needs cleaning. Most importantly I must remember that service to my husband is not an attempt to manipulate or change him, but rather an act of obedience to the revealed will of God in His word. That alone should motivate me. I may not always get my way, and I may have to set aside my desires to allow my husband to make the decisions, but it will be noted by the One who designed the marriage relationship. After all, it is not really my husband whom I serve, but my Lord, Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:5₉)

The following Scriptures were taken from the New International Version

  1. Ephesians 5:33b “The wife must respect her husband.”
  2. 1 Peter 3:5 “This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands.”
  3. Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
  4. Colossians 3:18 “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
  5. Colossians 3:23-25 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”
  6. Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
  7. Genesis 2:20b-24 “But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
  8. 1 Peter 3:1-2 “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
  9. Ephesians 6:5 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”

Why We Do What We Do…Part II: Overspending

“Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Does God really care if I buy an extra pair of shoes, a movie, some video games, or that magazine? Doesn’t God have bigger problems then how I spend my money? Isn’t that a bit extreme? After reading Luke 12:35-48 (I’d highly recommend checking it out) I’m convinced it is not too extreme and everything we do is important. Our Master is returning and we’re busy goofing off. He has entrusted us with material and spiritual gifts and He is watching us right now to see if we are using them faithfully. It bears no significance that our name is on the paycheck; it all belongs to Him. (1 Cor. 10:26) Consider this; Jesus is standing in front of you with a wad of cash, assuring you can do whatever you want with it. I don’t know about you, but my first response probably wouldn’t be running to Outback Steakhouse, buying a new T.V., or taking a trip to Disneyland. I’m guessing I would be motivated and obligated to use it for the hungry and needy. I couldn’t say for sure that’s what I’d do, but I have my dreams.

The reality is, every Friday (or whatever the pay day is), we are presented with that very same opportunity! Yes, we have bills to pay and things we need for our survival, but how much of that is truly spent wisely? If Jesus looked through your checkbook register, would you be embarassed? I know I would be. Let’s spend a moment clearing out our spiritual garden again, digging up the roots to our spending habits.

Root #1: I Lust with My Eyes

“For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

It’s impossible to make an unwise purchase without the sin of lust being involved. We didn’t buy that 80″ big screen television because we had no choice. We saw it with our eyes, we wanted it, we lusted after it, so we bought it! If we want to be good stewards of our finances, we must rectify our eyes of lust, and ask God to give us new eyes; kingdom eyes. Does that mean buying items for entertainment is sin? Only you and God know what is sin for you and your finances (James 4:17 again). If He has convicted you of a certain spending issue, and you ignore it, you are sinning. What’s a sin for me may not be a sin for you; it is up to me and you to listen to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and obey. Maybe you could try praying before making such a purchase, and see what God has to say.

Root #2: I am Discontent

“The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content.” Proverbs 19:23 (Emphasis mine)

A spirit of discontentment will most assuredly lead to over-spending. If we  found our contenment in God, we would be less tempted to buy junk we don’t really need. Jesus warns us, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Paul instructs us to be content in godliness, rather than accumulation of things. (1 Tim. 6:6) We need to ask ourselves: are we content with what we have or are we constantly looking to have more? (1 Tim. 6:8)

Root #3: I am an Idolator

“Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolator, worshiping the things of this world.” Colossians 3:5 (NLT)

“Greed causes fighting; trusting in the Lord leads to prosperity.” Proverbs 28:25

Ouch! All I have to do is be greedy (selfish) and I am labeled as an idolator! How many times throughout a given day am I more concerned with my rights then the rights of those around me? Selfish ambition is greed. The deep desire for self leads us into all sorts of ugliness, one of which is over-spending. I want what I want and I want it now! I have the money, so why not? Once again we need to consider the source of our desire. Are we making wise choices or selfish choices? I have a friend who almost never makes new purchases for her children. She always uses hand-me-downs from families and friends yet her kids have some pretty cool toys. Many of them were used and they work just as well. We may look at used things as being beneath us or not good enough for us; this is another source of pride, selfishness, and greed. Once again I implore you to seek God’s counsel before making any purchase.

If you’re looking to increase the kingdom of God, and use your finances to glorify Him, consider the above roots and whether they have held a place in your spiritual garden. Seek new ways to be a blessing to someone else, rather then feeding your own desires. One of the best ways to get kingdom focused is to focus on the needs of those around you,  keeping in mind the nice things you have are not going to eternity with you.

(For more information on frugality, see America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money or Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides: America’s Cheapest Family. You can also see their bio and info on facebook.)