Daniel Fast – Day 10: Minister’s Meeting

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The third Tuesday of every month, I have a minister’s meeting where all the ministers in the area get together for some fellowship.  As I was getting in my car to go to this meeting, it occurred to me that there is always a meal provided.  Would there be anything that I can eat?  I get to the meeting and they have a lot of great looking food.  Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (Can’t eat), Salad (can eat, but with caution), garlic bread (can’t eat), cookies (Can’t eat) Cheesecake (can’t eat), and cheesecake toppings (can eat the strawberries and blueberries as they are not in a sugary syrup like the cherries).

So I get a salad and a side of fruit.  During the salad, I had to combat the chunks of chicken, cheese shavings, and croutons, while I ate the lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and olives.  After the meal, the topic to discuss was, “what spiritual disciplines are you participating in?”  The hosting pastor knew about my fast and asked me to share my experiences.  I talked about everything that I mentioned on Day 8 of my fast.  Other pastors talked about vision planning, prayer journaling, and even sitting in silence. As I listen to each pastor share what discipline they are practicing I thought, “Can these other disciplines be heightened during a fast?  My goal for this second week is to try a spiritual discipline and see how it goes.

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Daniel Fast – Day 6: Early Morning, Carbon Monoxide, & The Bin of Shame

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4:00 am.  My wife wakes me up because she hears beeping downstairs.  A few weeks ago, our Carbon Monoxide detector was defective and I replaced it right before Christmas.  My wife thought that the beeping was another defective unit, but in fact, it was warning us that the furnace was producing CO.  So I shut off the heat (luckily we were having warmer weather in VA), moved the kids to our bedroom and I got the last few winks on the couch after I called the furnace repair company to send a worker out.

Since the workers would be coming soon, I went and cleaned up the furnace room a tad bit.  One of the items was to empty out the trash can downstairs where there was just a bunch of packaging from junk food.  As I was looking at each item, I was beginning to think about all the times I had put junk into my body.  As the fast has begun to purge my body of any unhealthy eating habits I have partaken in, I began to search my heart and pray for the Spirit’s guidance to remove any bad habits that have been inhibiting me spiritually.  As the spirit continued to search my inmost being, I have seen how my attitude, impulses, and anger has to lead to unhealthy choices on a spiritual, physical, and emotional level.  It is through revelation that leads to repentance and through repentance is a renewed sense of self.

Daniel Fast – Day 5: Cranky Pants, Prayer Awareness, and Blood Loss.

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5 days in, and I have noticed that I am beginning to be cranky.  Sometimes I can be a bit cranky when there are big stressors in my life, but for the most part, I have a level head and pretty patient.  Today, I was just getting quickly annoyed with the smallest issues.  My prayer is that this does not become the norm during the fast.

One of the most interesting things about doing this fast is that I have had a heighten prayer awareness.  Multiple times throughout the day, I would be in prayer.  Most of the time, my mind would think about a situation or an individual and automatically, I stop what I am doing and began to pray.  Not just a quick prayer, but a focused, precise prayer.

The one thing I was nervous about was my blood donation appointment.  With a few days into the fast, I was curious how my body was going to respond the giving blood.  Typically, after I give, I usually will leave and drive back without feeling light-headed.  But with my fast, I thought it would be best to wait the 15 minutes before I attempt to leave.  It was not until some hours after, where just the simplest of the task would make me a bit light headed.  I also began to crave sugar.  I was beginning to think about sweets, and every sweet item that was in the house was a big temptation.  I was glad that I had church responsibilities to divert my mind from being consumed with cotton-candy fantasies.

Daniel Fast – Day 4: Routine, the root of all evil?

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I’m an extrovert.  I thrive when I am around other people whether I am sitting in a crowded room reading a book, or having conversations with new and familiar faces.  When my son has preschool, sometimes I will go to a coffee house and do work having a nice cup of coffee and soaking in the atmosphere.  So when I dropped him off at school, I drove to the local Starbucks, ordered a drink, and sat down and began working.  The problem?  I’m not supposed to have coffee during my fast.  But the troubling thing was I didn’t realize it until I had to figure out what I was going to eat when I had to take my son to the doctor.  Luckily Panara had some items I can eat, so we stopped there, ate, and took my son to the doctor’s office.

I have had difficulty with fasting, due to my unhealthy relationship with food.  Throughout my family history, we have been a family of emotional eaters.  An emotional eater (EE) is someone who uses food as a way to comfort from any emotional distress or pain they endure.  Going through a break-up? an EE will eat a tub of ice cream.  Bad grade? a trip to McDonald’s is in order.  I didn’t realize I was an EE until my Junior year in college where I went through a battle of depressions and ate out taco bell every night.  So when I do a fast, I tend to subconsciously grab some food and eat it and it takes me a few moments to realize, “oh crap, what am I doing?”  The same thing happened at Starbucks.  Dropping of the kid, drive to the coffee shop, get some coffee, write up reports, read my devotional, leave the coffee shop, go to the office, leave the office, pick up kid, etc.  It’s in those moments of failure, where I decide, “should I give up? I broke the fast!”

Routines are evil.  I am convinced of this due to how repetition can lead to bad habits.  When that bad habit has been established, it then becomes part of the routine.  For those who smoke, we may assume that it is the nicotine that causes people to light up.  But for some, it is part of the routine.  stressed out? smoke a cigarette.  9:45? time for a smoke break.  Even when one tries to quit a habit, more times than not the difficulty is not only the “good feelings” that habit gives him/her, but a routine is also a big cycle to break.

Even though I messed up with the coffee, I continued on track with the fasting for lunch and dinner. Giving up has been part of my routine, but not any longer.

Daniel Fast: Day 3 – Board Meeting, Meatballs, and Stealthy Salsa

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I had my first board meeting of the year in the evening.  It was a special meeting for two reasons. 1) one of our Elders was leaving the Board due to her term limit being up so we were having a party to celebrate her service to the Board. 2) Be able to discuss how God is leading us in the New Year.

At the beginning of the meeting, we prayed for healing for a number of church members, friends, and family and for the meal we were about to have.  It is important to note, that I had not revealed my fast to anyone.  So as I go into the kitchen, there is a counter filled with food; food I can not eat.

We had cocktail weenies, meatballs, chocolate cake, pimento cheese, BBQ potato chips.  I saw a can of almonds on the counter and went after it like a hawk, checking the label to see if there were no “added elements” to them.  I also looked at a jar of salsa to check for any processed junk, sugar, or any ingredients that I cannot pronounce.  One of our elders, who does mission work in Nicaragua, brought some salsa she bought from the country.  Homemade salsa?  I can eat that.  I asked her what was in it.  She then began to go through the list of ingredients.  With each natural ingredient, I was excited until she named two ingredients: Butter and Ketchup.  My lack of excitement was not because of the ingredients, I would try anything once, But it was ingredients forbidden by my fast.

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I often wonder how many things we buy into that we see as “good” or “spiritual” and when we partake in those things, we end up realizing it was a trap, snare,  or sneaky temptation.  I am someone who naturally is impulsive.  If I see something I like, I must have it.  If it is discounted, take my money.  If it looks like it will be a good investment, I’m all in.  But with each impulsive action, had lead to an even worst outcome.  That is why there is wisdom in waiting, especially when it comes to prayer.

Some of the best stories I have heard on the topic of prayer are the ones, that were answered a number of years later.  I read one story in “The Circle Maker” where a mother prayed for all of her 12 kids to accept Jesus as Lord of their life.  When she passed away, 6 of them were saved.  When the book was published, 10 out of the 12 have given there lives to Christ.  Daniel fasted and prayed for 21 days before he received insight into the revelation.  What things will the Lord reveal when we wait with obedience and anticipation?

 

Daniel Fast – Day 2: Thanks Facebook

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One of my skills has been social media marketing.  I took a free online class through Shaw Academy and learned the basics of building your brand on social media platforms from Facebook, to Instagram.  As a pastor and podcaster, I need to continue to keep my social media present up-to-date, and relevant which means I try to be on these sites quite a bit.

However, it seemed like today was the day where every friend I had on Facebook was posting those food videos.  I’ve seen things from Chocolate Lava Molten cakes to Cream Cheese Taco Dip.  Of course, all these food videos are things that I can not eat.  It’s it interesting that when you want to cut something out of your life (food, dating, etc.) that is when the temptation begins.

I’ve always thought about the difference between temptations and testings.  I remember a friend of mine decided she was going to spend the whole year focused on Jesus after a break-up with her boyfriend.  It lasted 4 months before she begins to start dating another person (which in turn lead to a devastating break-up 2 years later).  The same time, another one of my friends, decided to do the same thing.  The same situation happened to her, a male suitor found interested in her in a few months.  The difference was is she told the pursuer about her commitment to Jesus and did not date him, which he understood and respected her decision.  A year later they started to date, got engaged, got married, and continue to live a happy life.  Sometimes I think that temptations are ways to try to knock us off our path to our goals, dreams, and miracles.  However, I also think sometimes God tests us to see if we will be obedient to Him, to our promises, and our goals.

As much as I have seen those delicious food videos, I have the choice to linger (and drool) and be tempted to break the fast, or I can close out the browser and use those tempting opportunities as fuel to prayer.

Daniel Fast – Day 1: Beginning of my Daniel Fast

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Beginning in January 2018, my Church has decided to focus on prayer.  We are using Mark Batterson’s, “The Circle Maker,” as a guide to start the year off in prayer.  As I was preparing this series, I decided to do a Daniel fast at the start of it.

For those of you who do not know what a Daniel fast is, it comes from the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament.

At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over (Daniel 10:2-3 NIV).

The requirements of the fast are that one cannot eat any meat, or any by-product from an animal (ex. eggs, cheese, milk, etc).  You can not consume any food with sugar, chemicals, yeast and processed items.  The food I can eat is anything that comes from the ground and is not processed.  The duration of the fast is 3 weeks (21 days).

Most people do a Daniel fast for its health benefits.  You can do a google search for the Daniel fast and most websites are dedicated to diet, detox, and healthy living.  But one of the things I rarely see is for prayer.

The purpose of fasting is to amplify one’s prayer life.  Daniel, in the midst of Babylonian captivity, used fasting to gain wisdom and insight into a revelation of a Great War (Daniel 10:1).  The purpose of my Daniel Fast is not for health benefits but for wisdom, insight, and direction as I lead the church in pastor into the new year.

So far, the fast has been good.  I ate a salad without dressing and had a three bean chili for dinner.  I’m scared and excited by what will be revealed by the Holy Spirit during the duration of this fast.

Continue to pray for me as I begin this journey in fasting and prayer.