Fasting During Lent Doesn’t Have To Suck, If You Do It Right

Fasting is not fun, and it si not supposed to be. There. I said t. But it doesn’t have to suck either. Fasting is a wonderful spiritual practice,  but, let’s be honest. there’s no fun in giving up what you most enjoy. On top of that, if you fast the wrong way, it makes the experience even more terrible. A double whammy, if you will.

In today’s video I share about how to have the best experience doing your fast that will ultimately lead to joy, even if it’s not fun.

 

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Why Pentecostals Should Celebrate Lent

I have not always been Pentecostal. In fact, I did not choose to be Pentecostal,  it sort of chose me. I was a resistance, skeptical, former Catholic who found himself at a protestant Bible College seeking God.

I received the gift of the Holy Spirit in a church off campus and it was not a smooth thing. God and I had a struggle going on. I didn’t want to go to the front to be prayed for so I said, “God, if you want me have this, you can give it me right here.” And, by God’s grace, he worked with me and blessed me with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I was raised in the Catholic Church for 17 years. Needless to say, this experience was quite new.. Before you start thinking that I started jumping pews or running around the church, I did none of those things. I simply received and then smiled at how good God was to me.

Now, having been a Pentecostal youth pastor in some capacity for the past 26 years, old habits die hard. Lent is, and has been, one of my favorite times of the year. I used to love the colors in the church, the ashes on Ash Wednesday, and a whole church effort to get to know Jesus better. I carry this tradition on in my own life though I do not attend a Catholic church.

Pentecostals can be funny about the practices of other faiths, but I am here to tell you that Lent is not a Catholic practice or a Methodist practice, it’s a Christian practice.  If you’re a pentecostal and not familiar with what Lent is, here is a brief definition from umc.org

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.

I know Pentecostals love fasts, such as the Daniel Fast, because we like to fast at the beginning of the year to get things rolling. We like the sound of ‘calling a fast” because it sounds super holy and super Jewish. Beyond these trivial reasons, Pentecostals should embrace Lent for other reasons.

First, we should embrace repentance. Although our sins are forgiven and we  enjoy every blessing in heaven and under heaven, we must take time to mourn for not only our sins but the sins of our nation. Our repentance may not be for our grievous sins of commission, but rather our sins of omission.

Second, Lent allows us to identify ourselves with the life and heart of Jesus. Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit for a time of prayer and preparation. We should take advantage of these 40 days to prepare ourselves to celebrate the greatest event in history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In addition to preparing our hearts for the cornerstone of the Christian faith, we should also prepare ourselves for the mission God has for us, to bring the message of “He is risen” into every corner of our communities and our world.

Lastly, Lent is not about not receiving or asking anything of God,  but about acknowledging what has already done and for the grace to receive it. Lent allows us come to God not with open hands, but open hearts. Lent allows us to humbly come to Jesus and say thank you for loving me, thank you for dying for me, thank you for taking on my sins, my struggles, and my shame.

Let me close with some wise words from St. Teresa of Calcutta,

“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.” — Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Lent allows God to love us more fully so our hearts will be open to loving others more graciously.

If you are Pentecostal, consider looking at Lent in a different light and lean into  the sacrifice and surrender that Lent affords us.

This Lenten season, Christ our Savior awaits with outstretched arms to hold us, love us, and secure us.  Let us come humbly and enjoy His presence.

 

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My Three Day Social Media Fast

 

No-Social-Media

 

Social Media Fast Day 1

It’s the day after my social media fast. What you are reading is the culmination of these three days. I decided to not post nay blogs for the past few day because fasting social media would prevent me from posting them, so I decided to wait.

Our church is doing a three day fast on the first Monday of the month through Wednesday. We’ll be gathering for an hour before service on Wednesday to pray and break fast together.

I decided Sunday night  to commit to fasting social media because to me, social media has become “food and drink” for the soul”. For me, giving up being connected through Twitter and Facebook is more of a sacrifice than giving up food. What I’ll miss most is posting those bits of information, articles, and videos that I think will benefit my followers and fellow youth workers.

Last year I gave up television for 21 day, but I think this will be a little harder. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted. You just won’t be able to read my thoughts until my fast is over.

Challenge: Tried to contact an author and could not find an e-mail for them. Did not use Linked In because I consider it Social Media. Can’t connect until today.

Social Media Fast Day 2

Refection: Confused at what to do with all those thougthts I can’t post or tweet.

My first day of the social media fast felt different. It felt like I was skipping food. I would get social media hunger pangs because I would have a though and I did not know what to with it. In today’s age, when I have a thought or an idea, I post it and spread it, it’s weird not to do that. I have put an imaginary jar on my desk to put those thoughts and save them for later, but I think I am going to need a bigger jar.

My mind was less cluttered and some God thoughts were able to walk right into my formerly thought-hoarded brain.

Tweets and posts are like an open bag of potato chips that I am constantly dipping into. Two things wrong with his:

My mind cannot be renewed when I am constantly feeding it in an unhealthy manner and at an unhealthy pace. But I feel that changing

 Social Media Fast Day 3

Several challenges yesterday

1. Could not complain to everyone about why Money Pak costs $4.95 so I can put money in my Pay Pal account.

2. I wanted to share a few thoughts to inspire others, forced to ponder them instead.

3. I found several resources I wanted to tweet but I had to hold on to them until after 6:00 p.m. today.

This brings up an interesting question, if you are one of my followers,  did you miss any of this? I am not asking for a self esteem boost, but rathe to put my own existence in perspective. Sociology is the study of who we are in light of  our interactions with others; and since I have limited these interactions, have I descended into an identity crisis?  No, I haven’t. In fact, I think I know myself better because I have not relied upon someone’s RT, like, or share to validate me.

My identity, my true identity, is in Christ alone and nothing will change that, ever. Will I being doing less social media now in light of this discovery? No, in fact, I will be doing more. This confidence has nothing to do with hubris, but it is has challenged me to be  more respectful of those who follow me and those I follow.

Three days is a long time in social media time. You can be forgotten quickly as people move on to what ever is new. If this fast has taught me anything, it is that I am o.k. with that. Beside, social media is a great place to launch a comeback because of the time you have had to think about what is really worth sharing.

Just saw this on Morning Joe.

Breaking News: Pew: Most Facebook Users Taking A Break

Glad I am not alone. Killing me that I cannot share this right now.

Here a few tips I offer if you want to do your own social media fast.

Have you done a social media fast? What did you learn? Would you do a social media fast? Why or why not?