Posts Tagged ‘Acts of the Apostles’



January 25, 2015

“You have neither art nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God” Acts 8:21

I have done it to myself. training bible

At the beginning of the year, I laid out my annual training plan.(Training Plan)  I have been following the plan very consistently. It has been helpful to have a purposeful plan for both my physical and spiritual training. My January has been more productive than any in recent memory and I believe that is due to these plans.

For me, the advantage of a training plan is that it allows you to schedule, as a self-coach or personal trainer, the activities that you know are necessary for continued improvement. I rarely feel like doing hard things. Therefore, the hard workouts don’t seem to come up on my playlist when I am making my selection on what I feel like doing.

I have just such an activity schedule for next week. I placed this activity on my calendar in the comfort of my Christmas vacation. It is an activity that I know I should do, but I never get done; I am scheduled to fast next week.

Fast! What have I done to myself?

My earlier coaching-self knows the importance of fasting. The Coach knows the scripture references on fasting. The Coach spouts his most convincing passage to fast:

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.” (Matt 9:14-15)

However, my present training-self immediately resorted to the typical response, when he realized what was scheduled for him. My trainee-self rebelled against my coaching-self and tried to get out of it.

I had double scheduled this week and was planning on going to my son’s NCFCA speech and debate tournament. I could not possibly fast through that week.

This excuse normally works.  Fasting is never convenient.  I usually can come up with some reason as to why I can’t go without eating.

But then, my work scheduled changed. I have several critical projects that will not let me take next week off…suddenly I can fast again.

“Fine; I’ll do it,” my trainee-self conceded to my coaching-self.

My training-self then began to re-hash all the old reservations about fasting. I have not done well in past fasts. I don’t feel very spiritual when I fast. I actually feel the opposite. All sorts of nastiness comes out of me when I fast. Fasting seems to be counter-productive. The trainee-self made a convincing argument that the Coach doesn’t know what he is talking about by inserting an activity that is clearly not going to develop continued improvement. Fasting is not for me. What is he thinking?

This excuse has always been the closing argument to get out of fasting.  Fasting makes me feel bad and very un-spiritual.  Therefore, I should not do it.

And then, I listened to this video by John Piper:

One of the purposes of fasting is to actually expose all the nastiness that I normally can keep hidden under a full belly. Fasting allows us the opportunity to deal with our nasty inner selves through prayer as they are revealed.

“Alright, alright, alright; I’ll do it,” was the capitulation of my training conscious.

I resolved to the fact that I am going to fast this coming week when the Trainee took one last attempt to get out of the maniacal scheduling of the Coach.  My nephew did a month-long juice fast about a year ago. I was amazed at the amount of weight he lost. I have been trying to lose weight. The Trainee began to wonder how much weight he might be able to lose in a week-long fast. It would be awesome if I break my metabolism loose and drop a substantial amount of weight. I began to focus more on the athletic benefits of a fast rather than the spiritual.
However, the Trainee immediately recognized that his heart was not right regarding the purpose of fasting. “It will be useless,” the trainee reasoned. I do not want to be like Simon the Magician who tried to buy spiritual gifts for all the wrong reasons. I should not fast with a heart that is not right before God.

This is a particularly sweet excuse.  The “my heart is not right” excuse has gotten me out of a lot of things that I did not want to do.

And then, I read verse 22:

Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.  (Acts 8:22)

I suddenly had the first nasty heart condition to repent before the Lord as part of my fasting period.

“I give up. I’ll do it,” the humbled Trainee whispered.

All the debate within my own head, reveals why the Spirit has consistently laid fasting upon the heart of my coaching-self. As all of my excuses have fallen, I have come to an even firmer resolution that I need to do this hard thing. I need to fast. My rebellious training-self has a lot of hidden nastiness that needs to be dealt with.

I realize that this resolution would probably never have happened if my coaching-self had not placed it into the training schedule. That is the power of a plan. Therefore, I am going to fast. As ugly as it may be, I am confident that my future self will be grateful to the obedience, even though it has been reluctant, of the present me in following the Spirit’s call to obedience.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being so reluctant to give up my food.  Forgive me for all the excuses that I have come up with not to do what I believe you have been drawing me to do.  Help in the coming week.  Lord, enable this period of fasting be a blessing to my soul and bring glory to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen


“CASTING HOPE” – April 26

April 26, 2013

“…since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” Acts 28:20

Hope is the state which promotes the confidence in a good outcome related to swirling circumstances in our lives.  Most everything that we do is based on a hope.

I crawl out of bed in the morning based on a hope of the new day.  I drive into work based on a hope of the income that will result from my employment.  I proposed to my beautiful bride based on a hope of spending my life with her.  We adopted children based on a hope of having a family.  I have friendships that are based on hope of enjoyable fellowship.

It is hope that drives all that we do.

I give up when I lose hope.  I have abandoned business strategies when I have lost hope in their effectiveness.  I have fired employees when I have lost hope in their ability to do their job.  I have stopped dieting when I am no longer motivated by a hope in a thinner me.  I have abandoned fitness programs when my hope in their promises has faded.

We can do the incredible when hope is alive and well.

We can fail at the simplest when hope has died.

Fishing at BlenhiemMy problems arise when I draw my hope too close.  My hope begins to die the more I reel it into my selfish world.  I am not willing to endure much of anything when my hope is for a comfortable and pleasurable life.  I can give up on most of the instruction of the Bible when my hope is based on me.  Is that not what most temptation is?  Most temptations are an enticement in the hope of self-love.

The love of self is poison to true sustaining hope.

What sort of hope do you think motivated Paul to wear chains?  Paul had an easy escape from his captivity – deny Christ and he would be free.  If Paul’s hope had been in a comfortable and pleasurable life, then he would never have endured.  He would never have endured.

mist castingI am at my strongest when my hope is the farthest away from me.  It is when I cast my hope into another world that I am on the surest footing.  My desire is to cast my hope onto the promises of God and secure it firmly on the foundation of Christ.

Hope that is embedded in Christ will sustain us as we are reeled to that hope.  We are not reeling Christ in toward us.  He is reeling us through all the temptations, trials, and suffering of this world towards Him.  He is the solid rock.  We are the ones floating in trouble seas.

Is your hope secure?  Is it alive and well or has it be poisoned by the proximity to your troubled heart?

Cast your hope far from you, onto the only One with whom it will thrive.  Set your mind intentionally on the things of the Spirit and the resulting hope in our Lord and Savior will pull you through all trials and suffering of this world.  It is hope in the glories that will be revealed to us that will sustain us through all the incomparable disappointments, temptations, trials, suffering, and persecution of this world.  Hope in Christ will never disappoint.  It is through our hope in Christ that we will endure to the end.

PRAYER: Father, in you alone I place my hope.  You are my light, my strength, my song. You are my cornerstone and solid ground in this troubled world.  Thank you for sustaining me.  Thank you for guiding me.  Thank you for giving me true hope.  There is nothing that can break your hold on me as I cling to the sure foundation of your Son, Jesus Christ. My hope is found in Christ alone.   Thank you for making me yours.  I praise You and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

%d bloggers like this: