A Great Introduction to Fasting

Last night I was greatly blessed to read the book Fasting: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series) by Scot McKnight.  McKnight does a fantastic job of leading the reader to understand the Biblical discipline of fasting (a discipline that has largely been ignored or forgotten in many modern evangelical circles).  The book is well organized, well thought out and includes a few chapters of practical nature to help those who are interested in picking up the discipline of fasting for the first time.

Admittedly McKnight is an academic. However his writing style is clear, concise and reader friendly.  I really enjoyed the book because the author covers the topic well.  He draws a clear and simple definition around Biblical fasting and then proceeds to share his research on how various traditions have esteemed fasting.

McKnight makes a strong case that fasting is a response to a sacred moment.  Tragically today many picture fasting as a currency get what you want.  While God’s blessings may come after fasting, His blessings are always gifts of His grace.  In essence we are to fast in response to sacred moment (like realizing injustice, personal sin,  national sin, sickness of a loved one, death of a loved one, etc).  Fasting is primarily responsive, not causal.

I wish this book had been around when I first began to experiment with fasting in my late teens and early twenties.  Another great resource on fasting is John Piper’s book A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer.

I  highly recommend Fasting: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series) to anyone interested in learning about fasting.  The retail price is $12.99 (paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $11.04.  I gave it four stars.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Letters to Young Men: Treasure the Word

Dear friend,

I hope this letter finds you doing well.  I want to be a source of strength and encouragement as you fight against the flesh and continue to grow in Christ.  I know it sounds cliché to say that when times are tough my greatest source of strength comes from being in God’s Word. I know that there are many leaders in our day and age who make light of the daily discipline of reading and studying God’s word.  Their reasons sound good.  They will say that believers in the early church could not read and only heard the word preached.  This is true, but they miss a vital point.  Because the word was scarce, it was sacred.  The danger in our day is not a lack of accessibility, but too much accessibility. No doubt you have more than one Bible and possibly more than one translations.  Here is my challenge to you… Treasure God’s Word!

Set aside a Bible that you will read from each day.  Set a particular time of day.  Get a journal and take notes.  When beginning the daily discipline of reading God’s word, one of the best things you can do is take a chapter or section at a time and summarise what you have read.  If it will help you, I will read the same scriptures and we can compare notes when we get together. If you want me to see and be able to comment post your thoughts on a blog as my pastor does or as notes on facebook like many of my other friends do.

What is challenging me and helping me to treasure God’s Word these days is to memorize portions Scripture.  I’ve set out to memorize Philippians by Easter this year and even in the first week I have been blessed beyond measure.  The amount of scripture memorized isn’t the point, the value that it has in your life is very much the point. Do you treasure God’s Word?

Do not be persuaded to put off (or never even start) the basic disciplines that will help you know and grow in Christ. Do not be fooled by arguments that these disciplines lead to just going through the motions to check off a list.  No doubt some do and will read out of false motives, but knowing the Word is one of the primary ways in which we grow in Christ.

Treasure God’s word.  Grow and develop in the basic disciplines of reading and memorization.  Journal to engage you mind with the scripture and ask God to help you grow in Christ.  I close the letter here by quoting several scripture passages that God has used to speak to me on the subject.

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world (John 17:13-18, ESV).

while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2Timothy 3:13-17, ESV).

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11, ESV).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Psalm 1:1-6, ESV).

Your Friend,

Pastor Jonathan

Letters to Young Men