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#digzpc | meditation

It’s been said that worry is a form of meditation – a very negative form of meditation. I learned that the world is not a safe place at a very early age. From the time I was born I was the target of my mentally ill brother’s physically abusive behavior. I have a scar on my mouth from an arrow that I took in the lip as an infant. My home was not a place of safety for me, although my protectors outnumbered my brother five to one, that ratio narrowed over the years as siblings grew up and left home. Other random acts of violence occurred in the form of head injuries (two separate occasions), from a neighbor child, and later from a complete stranger while we were vacationing. 

I’m very grateful for the love of my family because it made me resilient, even in the face of inexplicable evil, but it was only through the grace of God, and his Word, that I am able to turn my thoughts from worry to worship. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) states, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." This isn’t just feel good advice - this is a serious and effective weapon against the darkness that tries to infringe on our minds. Meditation is all about our thoughts - what we allow our mind to stay on. There have been great Christian leaders over the years that have tried to continually keep the thought of God at the forefront of their minds. Brother Lawrence and Frank C. Laubach are two examples of this and their lives reflected the light of Jesus beautifully.

There is power in our thoughts. Thoughts influence our behavior; producing the courage to act, or the paralysis of fear. Our thoughts toward God, others, and ourselves determine the quality of our relationships…the quality of our lives. God's Word (the Bible) is living and active - it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Meditate on the Word of God - it makes for a successful life (Joshua 1:8).  We can destroy strongholds by taking every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). When meditation on God's Word is coupled with prayer the resources of heaven are brought to bear.

The assignment for this week involves meditating on Psalm 8 throughout the day. As you think about the majesty of the Name Above All Names ask for God's kingdom and will to come to life in your circumstances (Mathew 6:10). God is trustworthy. Think about it - Jesus took everything we deserved on the cross so that we can have everything he deserves as the beloved Son of God. We can trust in that perfect sacrifice.

#digzpc | Fasting

Let’s be honest, fasting is simply not commonly discussed and it rubs against our modern day freedom to enjoy life and fill basic needs and desires. Not eating is generally considered a bad thing. Hunger is a real problem for many in our world, and the honest assumption is that no one would voluntarily choose to be hungry. My late mother loved her family by feeding us and she was good at it! When my wife and I have the opportunity for a date night out away from the kids and away from "all things mac-and-cheese", my first question is “where are we eating?”  And, when was the last time that you attended a church fellowship that didn’t involve food?

I attended a youth lock-in and fast at my family’s church as a boy. I recall being stressed about the goal of going 24-hours without anything but water. Would I make it? Would my stomach hurt? More than that…What will I get out of this? And, why would I go without food if I don’t have to? We were told that learning to go without teaches us to depend on God and it teaches us that God is the one who sustains us, but I didn’t easily buy into that at the time. 

When I made it through the 24-hours, the promised pizza party was the only thing on my mind! I envisioned stuffing myself. The physiological lesson learned was that your stomach constricts without food and less than one piece made me full. What?! Satisfied by one piece?! I guess going without does change us.

Greater than physical impact, what about spiritual impact? The truth is that we are easily consumed by what we consume. In Mark 12:30, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” I now believe that fasting helps reveal what we love more than the Lord our God. The extremes, like drugs, alcoholism or other addictions that cause obvious destruction, are not the only potential problem. Food, control, money, freedom, clothes, sex, cars, video games, work, smart phones with cool apps, Sports Center, the internet…all of these things, essentially anything, can be a spiritual problem if we love them more than the Lord our God. A pessimist would say that this is our daily battle but an optimist would say that this is our daily opportunity to live a full life! 

In John 10:10, Jesus says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Honestly, going without food isn’t very appealing to me, but a full life in the Lord is the most appealing thing I can imagine!

I have not fasted from food for 24-hours since I was a boy, but I have temporarily laid things that consume me aside many times. Have you fasted from food or other things, maybe for the Lenten season? How did it impact you? What are your thoughts about the things that consume us? Based on this week's homework from Jerry, will you attempt to fast from two consecutive meals?

 

#digzpc is the title of ZPC's Lenten series about spiritual practices. We encourage you to make comments about your experience with the practice of the week, which is simplicity this week. Also find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, if you participate in these media. When commenting there, please always use #digzpc so we can find your comments. Are you ready to dig?

 

 

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