Meditations of a christizen (christian-citizen)upon today's topics.
I, Brother James, cultivated through my imagination 'The Word Courier's Journal'. It is but one of several literary efforts so conceived to include the "Word", the mind altering, eye opening, lifesaving Gospel of Jesus Christ into the everyday conversation on those things deemed relevant to readers. I and all other followers of the Lord are called to witness. Jesus said "Go therefore and teach all nations..." (see Matthew 28:19 KJV Holy Bible) Here lies my modest attempt to introduce the unknowing people to the Lord and immerse they who know Him in discussion with respect to His outlook on all that matters.|
|I refer to this season as the birthday bash fast because I begin fasting of/from something(s) 40 days until the last Friday preceding my birthday or on my birthday when it falls on the first Friday in September. Food and drinks have typically been the main things fasted upon in this season.
It would not necessarily be a straight fast for 40 days i.e. sunup to sundown no food or drink but rather certain foods and drinks for that length of time. And of course, I’d up my game of the pure all out fasting during this time. As of recent years behavior that is do’s and don'ts have also become subject of my fast.
Now, It seems the Lord sees fit to encourage my efforts at fasting. I say this because a second bit of encouragement occurred this week. Earlier I wrote in the ‘Word Courier’ blog about the coincidence of the first day of this year’s fast that included a Sunday School lesson centered around Ezra’s fast.
Who put the co, in the incidence? Huh? That’s right.
The pastor of our church called for the faithful to fast until 3 p.m. from Wednesday until Friday of this week. That is a straight foodless waterless fast for those days. He suggested those who might put themselves at risk via health reasons to do what I refer to as a behavior fast.
He doesn’t know about my birthday bash fast. He did this as led by the Lord unaware of my personal worship. Now, I don’t think everything is so much about me that the Lord didn’t have other purposes to inspire our pastor to call this fast.
The fact is our Lord has encouraged the group fast as preparation to breakthroughs. Lest we forget that Jehoshaphat called for a fast when a myriad of enemies prepared to gang up on Judah. (see 2Kings 20:3 Holy Bible) That was the first step in what would be their victory against seemingly insurmountable odds.
I suspect too that our pastor requested this church fast to break through some barriers. It’s about preparation for growth that our brought about by people who better themselves by renewing and remaking themselves in the image of Jesus Christ. And the result of such is that we renew our world or at least our locality into the likeness of heaven the end place to which we aspire.
|God’s way is always going to be better than our way. Why? Because the Lord has been and will continue to be smarter, more informed, (He knows all) and yes much better than us. Our Lord sees the past, present, and future all at once.
So, if you’re inclined to take friends, family and so-called experts advice as opposed to what thus says the Lord then be prepared for but not surprised by disappointment if not outright disaster. Lest we forget, we, they, whoever know only in part whereas the Lord knows in full.
He knows you better than you. All souls are His. He told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee;…” in the book of Jeremiah’s first chapter and fifth verse. He knows what’s best for us exponentially more than family, friends and wait for it…even other believers.
I say this emphatically because I've learned this entirely too much the hard way. God displays his wealth of knowledge in his Word which is told to us. And this we know through our due diligent scriptural study. Prayer helps us to know Him better and thus to know when what they say is in line (or not) with what He says.
The knowledge and understanding of what the Lord told us helps when it comes to what the Lord shows us. It’s then we can put away the noise others are making from their limited knowing in part and not knowing the whole regarding the truth.
Know what he told, know what he showed and act accordingly.
|Is the Lord telling me something? Or is it coincidence? Who puts the co on the incidence? Considering that, the recent connection happening between fasting, the number 23 and me seem to be more than just happenstance.
I first wrote about my annual birthday bash fast here in the ‘Word Courier’s Journal’ in 2012 some 15 years after its inception. I put pen to paper and struck keyboard letters to my laptop and wrote four blogs about fasting during 2012’s 40 day birthday bash fasting period.
The annual ritual begins on a mid-late July Sunday and wraps up at 6 p.m. on the last Friday before my birthday or on a Friday birthday. Here, I fast from certain foods and drinks. I have done the dailey all food and drink fast before but not for 40 days straight.
To make up for the limitations of my fasting ritual, I up my spiritual game in other areas. I step up observance of Tuesday and Friday all included fast called for by my church body. Also, I've usually increased upon my sometimes woeful prayer life during the fasting 40 days.
Having said all this, I must remind readers that this is about more than abstaining from food and drink. It’s about subjecting the flesh so as to come to a more Christ like state of mind. This is about transforming from what we are to what the Lord desires us to be.
The Holy Bible is replete with people and their breakthroughs by fasting. Queen Esther (Esther 4:15-17), King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:3), and the people of Nineveh (Jonah 3:7-10) all bear witness to victories in which fasting played a part. Our Lord Jesus himself fasted in the wilderness (Matthew 4th chapter) in preparation for his ministry. And these are but a small sample of biblically recorded fasting.
The Sunday School lesson for July 23rd, 2023 which also happened to be this year's first day of my birthday bash fast spoke of fasting. I skimmed the lesson the night before. However, I didn’t pick up on these 23sh instances until we began class that Sunday morning. And of course the lesson was from Ezra 8:21-23. As such, I was moved to write this post.
Ezra led a return of Hebrews back to Judah from captivity under the Persian monarch Artaxerxes. He had the king’s permission to go, yet he felt the need to petition God by prayer and fasting for safe passage. Given this, we spent the Sunday School hour talking about fasting and what it entails.
This is the first time (as far as I can remember) that a lesson (or sermon)centered around fasting occurred on the first day of a birthday bash fast season. That is unique. I believe it’s also a not so subtle message from on high to do this fast right.
|Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 Holy Bible KJV
On this Memorial I have not visited my father's head stone at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery as I have in Memorial, Veterans' and Fathers' Days past. He is a veteran who survived his tour of duty as a WWII medic. As such, this holiday technically doesn't celebrate he and other war survivors. However, they fought and served alongside those who lives were taken in warfare on behalf of the United States of America.
Dad took the same risk as those we celebrate but unlike them he came back alive. Now with regard to a man laying down his life for friends that first and foremost is what those taken out in the service of our nation were doing. The camaraderie of those in their units was such that would be considered brothers (and often sisters) of whom they were willing to lay down their life. So this was personal in addition to patriotic.
Our Lord Jesus did likewise but more. He gave his life not for some one nation's souls but for all souls of all nations who would count themselves as friends of his. It is written "After this I beheld, and lo a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"(Revelations 7:9 Holy Bible KJV)
Jesus sacrifice stands out beyond the honorable service members we celebrate in another manner. They knew going in that their service could cost them their lives. They took that chance. Jesus on the other hand volunteered his sacrifice knowing it would bring about death. He even went so far as to choose to make his innate indestructible being otherwise immune to death into one that could be put to death. When we celebrate Christmas its about the incarnation i.e. human formation of our Lord.
Jesus gave himself to death by the cross. He allowed a cruel death to visit him. He said as much that "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself..." (John 10:18 Holy bible KJV) He surrendered his life that we may have life. That's love
Let's honor our valiant service personnel who gave their all as we remember He who gave it all.
|A former Sunday school teacher of mine said that “if you can’t take it, you can’t make it.” Today we celebrate the legacy of #42 Jackie Robinson. He was the first black man to become a major league baseball player. He became such because he could take it. What he took is unfathomable to most people of today. And let’s not forget Larry Doby, the first black man to play in the American League. He went through the same experience.
Imagine going to work each and every day and dealing with hatred and venom openly spewed at you by co-workers, customers, competitors and everyone else you come across. And you are alone in being targeted like this. Cat calls, death threats and the like a daily occurrence. The same sickness that made his life miserable played out on Bloody Sunday nearly 10 years after he retired.
And what insanity is that? That which has always been a part of America. Too many in America since the beginning have had and continue to foment this infatuation with the genetic marker that denotes their race, the biologically challenged concept that’s always been a part of American life.
How sick is it to simply look at someone and loathe him/her at sight? I get looking at someone and liking them for no other reason than how they look. I am guilty as charged of that. This seems a natural response. But how is it you look at someone and despise them to the core? Maybe I’m the outlier here but it seems unnatural and unholy, to hate on sight and on sight alone.
To hate someone not having any real knowledge of their character, background or circumstance is inexcusable. Those that find themselves doing so need Jesus. And NOT the caricature heathen cultured Jesus image that so many in today’s phony cultural wars put forward but rather He of the Holy Scriptures.
Their obsession is such that it’s not merely familial or ancestry pride or a celebration of cultural significance but instead a belief of God given favor. And that being favor or privilege that belongs to one simply based upon race. However, we’re supposed to reform ourselves into the image of the biblical Jesus Christ as opposed to changing his image to suit us. For those who subject the Lord’s image for theirs breach the first commandment given that “thou shall have no other gods before me.”
As such, their racial pedigree is effectively their God. To give your race, skin color (or anything else for that matter) the reverence reserved for God is wrong. We have people here that idolize their genetic marker. This then is idolatry, and by default so many that want to identify as Christian are partaking in idolatry of the worse kind, self-worship. It is the enemy the devil who worships himself.
It was Jackie Robinson’s faith and Christ like character that provided him the right and tough enough stuff to face the hate he encountered. Likewise, the Christ like faith of one Branch Rickey, the Dodgers general manager stood out. Here was a white man in a world of which being white was equated with being right who challenged the status quo. Here was a man more in tuned to the Christ in him than to the white on him, demanded that America live up to her lofty language and apply it to this most American of sports.
The integration of baseball was a forerunner of the modern civil rights movement. This as many advances in our society is the fruit of Gospel ministry. When people of God practice authentic Christ Covenant behavior things get better for everyone. When we decide to minister outside the comfort zone of church and corrupt culture the world is made better.
|The oft quoted Scripture Leviticus 17:11 begins with “For the life of the flesh is in the blood:” Scriptural verses surrounding this verse expressly forbid the ingestion of blood as it concerned the children of Israel and their guest. The reason being when blood as the life-giving element belongs to the Lord.
Now I have often said “life is in the blood” when encouraging people to donate blood on social media platforms. The reason being that life is in the blood. I understand that there are those who look upon my donation of blood and another person’s receiving of such (even for medical emergency) as going against the spirit of Leviticus 17:11 and other Scriptures that speak to the matter.
I disagree with that assessment. But I won’t get into detail on that in this Word Courier blog entry. Rather I intend to write about the irony of giving blood on Monday April 10th, the day after the Resurrection Sunday celebration popularly known as Easter.
Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead. It is actually Good Friday in which blood was shed. Having said that, people who died upon the cross didn’t bleed to death. The death came about by a suffocation from within the body’s internal organs. The end result was death nonetheless.
The blood Jesus shed was akin to the Old Testament sacrifice of animals in which life was lost to atone for sin. Today, His one sacrifice is good for now and the future therein. We live and can live eternal life for that sacrifice.
The Red Cross blood donations are not nearly as demanding as the sacrifice endured by doves, bullocks, other creatures, and our Lord. Yet these blood offerings save lives. And I am glad and proud to be a part of that. Blood does make a body live.
When the need is there blood must be given. When a loved one goes to the hospital it’s often another’s blood that saved and or healed them. I like to think that I choose to save lives and heal. I get to metaphorically (but not actually cause then I’d need medical care) break my arm patting myself on the back.
I really like it when weeks later Red Cross sends me an email that tells me my blood was used at X, Y or Z hospital for a patient in need. I also like the cool gifts they offer for giving blood.
That’s why I say it’s ironic that I gave following the celebration of the ultimate act of life giving blood.
|Yesterday marked the beginning of my 2023 Good Friday Fast. The ’23 fast concludes on April 7th which is Good Friday. It is one of two 40 day fast that I do on my own each year. The other fast is my Birthday Fast of which at least five ‘Word Courier’ entries spoke of in its 15th anniversary year 2012,
I have been doing my Good Friday Fast since calendar year 2005. I have done the traditional fast that is sunup to sundown (6a.m.-6p.m.) abstaining from food and drink often but never for 40 days at a time. Instead, my 40 “fast” involves going without certain food and or drinks.
This makes it more like the Roma Catholic tradition of lent as opposed to an all out fast. Alcohol, pork, beef, and fried foods are among the things I’ve fasted in the past. In fact, my eventual elimination of eating pork and current teetotaling ways grew out of previous fast activity.
Having said that it’s not simply about what you don’t eat. It is disciplining self via denial. To that end, fast as of late have been more about what I stop doing. And what I start doing more of. It is disciplining self via denial based on habits that go beyond eating and drinking.
The current fast is about doing less distracting activities and more of individual Scripture study and prayer. With regard to traditional fasting, I’ll up my game with the typical Tuesdays and Fridays. Sō when I woke up yesterday morning, I was of the mind to let the fast begin.