Meditations of a christizen (christian-citizen)upon today's topics.
|I, Brother James, cultivated through my imagination and birthed via writing instruments (pen, laptop, etc) 'The Word Courier's Journal'. It is one of several literary efforts so conceived to include the "word", the mind altering, eye opening, life saving gospel of Jesus Christ into the every day conversation on those things deemed relevant to those readers who stumble upon this column. I and all other followers of the Lord are called to witness this message across the globe or at the very least to those around us. Jesus did say "Go therefore and teach all nations..." (see Matthew 28:19 KJV Holy Bible) Here lies a 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.|
Daniel was a biblical seer, a contemporary of the prophet Ezekiel. He, while still a youth, was captured and removed from his Judean home by the Babylonians. He later served Babylon’s royalty as a dutiful and loyal subject despite his foreign pedigree. Daniel won approval with the kings he served due to his righteous living, prophetic prowess and most of all his favor with God.
Daniel’s divine wisdom first exhibited itself via the plate rather than prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian emperor, decided to cultivate a cadre of professionals who would serve the court from among his group. He ordered his chief among ministers to train this collection of young talent in the ways of Babylon. (Holy Bible Daniel 1:3-4) The preparation would include eating and drinking the same meals as the Babylonian court. (Daniel 1:5)
Daniel along with three others, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who are famous in their own right (see Daniel 3rd chapter) desired to do otherwise. As a result, Daniel suggested a trial whereby he and his friends would consume food and drink of their choosing for a brief period after which they would be compared to those who followed the king’s diet. Daniel’s clique proved to be physically and intellectually superior to their colleagues. The Daniel legacy emerged.
A simple course of herbivorous food and water is the diet that propelled Daniel to super star status among Babylonian court officials. (Daniel 1:12) He may not have always practiced this diet regimen throughout his life. However, he did see its benefit at the time. Daniel chose vegetation and water as a precaution to abasing himself with un-clean meat. Yet, his choice gave rise to health and well-being benefits.
Today, the “Daniel Diet” and variations thereof still produce good health outcomes. Plant based food offers a wealth of nutrients. Water is the drink without which people cannot live. Daniel was on to something. The events recorded in the first chapter of Daniel took place over 100 years before Hippocrates birth. Hippocrates, revered by the western world as ‘the father of medicine’ reportedly said “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” Daniel could not agree more.
|I like so many of us remember where I was when the events that defined 9-11 took place. I arrived to my cubicle farm work environs around 8:00 in the morning for a job that would begin approximately one hour later. I needed to make an early deposit at my financial institution to cover the monthly note on my now paid off car.(It better be paid off 12 years removed from purchase) As a result, I left my house earlier than normal. And, of course I arrived sooner than usual.
The day like yesterday’s 9-11 anniversary was a Tuesday. I remember the security lady informed me of this incident. This caused me to affix my attention to the television screen in the lobby. It was here that I watched stunned as a commercial airliner flew directly into the World Trade Center. The scene soon exploded into an inferno that masked all of its surroundings. I could not believe that my eyes witnessed what appeared before me.
It has since occurred to me how blessed is my country by my God. The events of 9-11 yielded the first and only invasive attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. This is remarkable given our recent history of military conflicts. America has often engaged in expansive, lengthy military conflicts since the infamous Pearl Harbor. The Second World War of which Pearl Harbor was a part did not include further military attack on the domestic front. London was bombed mercilessly yet America remained intact.
Our more expansive military campaigns have taken place on foreign soil. Vietnam, Korea, Iraq (twice) and currently Afghanistan house the locations of our military deployments. Bosnia, Egypt, Grenada, Kosovo and Somalia are among places that have hosted lesser U.S. military excursions. Still, through all of this the Lord has shielded our soil.
I do not claim that America has emerged unscathed. Americans have died in these situations even those that are considered “lesser” wars. When parents lose their first born son they lose the only first born son they have. In this instance 100% of their first born sons died in combat. Thus,death loss is large even when small.
The extent to which the American home front has escaped the ravages of war is no less than divine intervention. God has shone his grace upon us. I doubt the surviving loved ones of 9-11 death casualties and those permanently scarred by this act of war whether physically stricken or emotionally traumatized would find much solace with this revelation. Furthermore, I don’t expect these words to incite celebration among first responders who have not received their due for their heroic deeds. Hurt is hurt. Pain is pain.
I am not among those who lost close family or friends in the devastation. Nor do I stake any claim of being one of the heroic first responders. Still, I ask that you please allow me to elaborate on the notion that God has richly blessed the United States of America even when taking the 9-11 tragedy into account. Let’s pray that the Lord continues to bless us so.
|People associate fasting with the refrain of eating, drinking,(not simply alcohol but all liquid refreshment) or other assorted natural desires within the context of a given time frame. This perspective is largely correct. The Roman Catholic tradition of Lent provides a well-known example of such. It reflects a time, 40 days prior to Easter, when the Catholic faithful are expected to sacrifice. Lent is similar to the biblical fast in that it goes beyond simple sacrifice and procedure. It entails spiritual implications as well.
The whole point to forgo eating and /or drinking at an otherwise appointed breakfast or lunch hour is to use that time to connect with God. The appointed meal hour is the ideal time for an anointed yield hour. Prayer and meditation at this or some other time should be the constant companion to abstinence.
The disciplines of diet and sacrifice can produce positive results. These practices can develop physical health and abilities. Furthermore, such efforts can enhance mental toughness and emotional stability. However, Jesus said “…It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (see Matthew 4:4 KJV Holy Bible) The absence of bread is one part of the fast but the presence of God is the purpose for the fast.
The fast is a matter of denial and deity. The Deity is God in all His expressions as the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The denial the sacrifices is the part to succumb ourselves to God. The direction to the destination of the Deity is done by the exercise of prayer and meditation. The denial fulfills the human element as aforementioned but does not draw us closer to God in and of itself, for we are body, soul and spirit. Therefore, the communication to and contact with God are needed to fast in the manner whereby we might transform into the image of god. In fact, the outlets of prayer and meditation (which includes scriptural study) are important in their own right apart from fasting.
Prayer is calling out to God. Meditation is our attempt to comprehend He and His will. I for one can go without eating for 24 hours. I can also be ornery and hostile for that full length of time. That is not a Godly fast. Life in the fast lane is not about bread (or the lack thereof) alone.
|I know of no better way to celebrate today’s Labor Day birthday then to write about something of which I’m passionate. The fast that precedes my birthday is such a topic. I invest a lot of energy, effort and endurance in this feat. It is a means to take me to where the Lord determines that I should arrive.
Birthday Fast Parameters
The Brother James birthday fast (BJ b-day fast) begins on a Sunday situated in mid to late July. This year it began on July 22nd. The BJ b-day fast concludes at 6:00 p.m. on the last Friday that precedes my actual birth date or it ends at 6:00 p.m. on my birthday when that day is a Friday. The most recent BJ b-day fast ended on August 31st.The total length is 40 days.
I give up between two and four particular food and drink items for the extent of the BJ b-day fast. Beef, coffee, fried foods, junk food, and soda pop are the culprits most often targeted by the fast. Habits such as eating after 9:00 and 10:00 in the evening have also been targeted. I abstained from salty deli style meats that include cold cuts (sausage, bologna, cured meat) along with processed snack foods such as potato chips, crackers and the like.
I do this limited version rather than the more standard fast that involves abstention of all food and drink for 3,6 or 12 hours p/day for a 40 day period. Some among the readership may think that I’m a ‘softy’ for not going the “standard” fast route. And, I must confess that I have never fasted in that manner for 40 days straight. That particular fast will come when and if the Lord calls upon it.
I step up my twice weekly, day long, all food and drink fast during the BJ b-day fast season. To be honest, my seasonal fast* are the only times that I consistently fast twice weekly. I tend to do the all food and drink, day long fast Tuesdays and Fridays. Those two days are not super holy or anything of the sort. However, I am more likely to attend church on those two days than others during the week.
I must remind the few people reading this blog that fasting is not merely the abstaining from food and/or drinks for a period of time. To fast is not to diet. True, I take into consideration the health benefits of abstaining from certain food. However, fasting has a deeper purpose. I will delve into that in an article published on another site.
I will remember this year’s fast as the one in which my father passed away. Yet and still, I praise God that he allowed my Dad to live long enough to come within a month or less of witnessing his youngest kid's 50th birthday.
*The other seasonal fast that I do is my so called ‘Good Friday Fast’. I will go into detail about that one in future entries.
** The article and how to find it will be announced in my notes-soon.
|I developed seasonal fasting regimens relatively late in life. I began the birthday fast in 1997, the year that brought about my 35th birthday celebration. To be honest, that particular birthday doesn’t bring any memories to mind. However, it is a certainty that I did not work that day. I held that ’97 full time job from 1994-2000 without ever having worked on a birthday. The arrival of that esteemed day brings about a relief from fasting and a day off from work.
The Bible shows that fasting brings results.
Jonah and Ninevah
The prophet Jonah forecast doom would arrive at Ninevah’s gates in 40 days as punishment for its wicked ways. The city led by their king immediately started a fast. The fast was so pervasive that it included all the people and livestock. The Lord spared his judgment upon them. (see Jonah 3rd chapter)
Preparation Protection and Purge
Jehoshaphat and choir defeats enemies
Jehoshaphat, a godly king of Judah, was faced with the approaching armies of the Ammonites, Moabites and their allies. The Judeans were greatly outnumbered. Jehoshaphat first called upon the whole nation to fast and pray. Thereafter, he consulted with the prophet and sent the choir out to sing praises of the Lord. The would be invaders were slaughtered by the hands of God, and one another. (2nd Chronicles 20th chapter)
God saves the queen
A high ranking conniver convinced the Persian King, Ahasuerus, to rid the nation of all Hebrews. The royal rank Esther enjoyed would not spare her life if this decree was enacted. Esther and her kinsman Mordecai together with the other Hebrew inhabitants fasted for deliverance. Esther then petitioned on behalf of her people. In the end, the evil interloper was hanged by the rope that he set out for others. God saved the queen. (Esther 4th chapter)
Preparation and Power
40 days and 40 nights
Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He then rebuked Satan not with divine works but with divine word. He began his ministry shortly thereafter. (Matthew 4th chapter)
Preparation Power and Purge
The disciples tried but failed. A man brought his demon possessed son to the disciples. Yet for all their efforts they failed to cast out the devils. Jesus arrived and swiftly healed the child. He later told his disciples that the power needed to cast out the boy’s demons is available only by prayer and fasting.
-Fasting prepares us to move on and move up.
-Fasting provides power to overcome.
-Fasting protects by reaching out to heavenly power.
-Fasting adds penitence to our souls that cause submission and repentance.
-Fasting purges us of evil from within and outside influences.
The 15 years of my seasonal birthday fast have prepared, empowered, protected, humbled, repented and improved me. I like to say what the old saints said: I am not where I ought to be but thank God I am not where I used to be.
|I fasted for the first time in the latter part of the 1970’s decade. The exact year remains a mystery. The church youth group to which I belonged participated in a combination fast, shut-in and fundraising effort. We sought to abstain from eating 24 hours while sleeping over night at the church. I believe we raised donations based upon how many hours we lasted without eating. I don’t recall what the fundraising effort was about. However, I do recall going the distance.
I must digress here to show the few of you who read “The Word Courier’s Journal" how God works.The miniscule athletic activity in my youth included a stint on the high school wrestling team. The local wrestling tradition is a proud one. In fact, as a student at the U of Iowa, (non student-athlete) I was often asked about two highly ranked Hawkeye wrestlers who hailed from my home town.* The city to which I am native was host to three public high schools and witnessed two of them win wrestling team state titles in the 1980’s decade. A nearby Catholic school just east of city limits has amassed multiple wrestling team state championships, including a ridiculous six straight Illinois titles from 1997-2002.
I was not a part of that story of glory. The truth is my wrestling career was rather forgettable. I say that because I would rather forget it. Still, God in his wisdom prepared me.I often dieted during the wrestling season to make weight. The practiced discipline of not eating when hungry was instilled into me by the time that church fast came about. This would serve me well later in life. However, next Tuesday’s entry “Birthday Fast b4 the Birthday Bash: Anniversary 15” will cover that more fully.
Now, I shall resume the fast story. Rev Lee Gragg, a holiness, fire and brimstone preaching Tennessee native shepherded our small flock. He is the Pastor who baptized me in the 1975 calendar year. The two of us were later involved with the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters affiliate. He was a counselor.I was a volunteer big brother mentor. This is not the origin of my pen name Brother James. The now defunct blog, “The Gold Standard” explains my pen name’s origins on the cover page. ( dotherighteousthing.blogspot.com )
Rev Gragg performed the marriage rites for my brother and first sister in law in 1984. They remain married to this day. His impact did not end there. I worked as a youth supervisor during a brief return home. The company contracted with the U.S. Dept. of Labor to prepare at risk youth for the real world. He too was employed there. Rev Gragg did not “hook me up” with the job but his presence and wise counsel helped me navigate the precarious waters of leading at risk youth. I am glad God blessed my life with his influence.
Anniversary 15 will explain in more detail the particulars of the period of fasting that I do to commemorate my birthday and the covenant that I enjoy with the Lord. It will happen Tuesday August 7,2012.
*Iowa won its first N.C.A.A. wrestling championship in 1975. (the same year I was first baptized ) My Hawkeyes have won 23 of the 38 N.C.A.A. Division 1 wrestling titles since then. It aint bragging if it’s true.
Fasting is an act of penitence and sacrifice that we expatriates* who belong to Jesus Christ sometimes take on. It involves abstaining from food and/or drink for a specified period of time. I would suppose the “standard” fast period is 40 days. Jesus fasted 40 days (day and night) in the wilderness after which Satan tempted him. However, while he was at his weakest in the natural state, spiritually he was at his strongest and thus defeated Satan. (Matthew 4:1-10) Shortly thereafter, Jesus began his earthly ministry. (Matthew 4:17)
The example Jesus provides in the book of Matthew tells us that fasting is a means to subject our natural inclinations (to eat) to our spiritual aspirations. Questions arise about this practice of fasting.
God, the heavenly Father admonished Israel because they fasted with the wrong ends in mind. (Isaiah 58:1-5) The Lord reminded them that the fast should focus upon doing better by their fellow man/woman. The loosening of bands of wickedness and breaking of yolks also might well be interpreted as measures that relate to the self’s oppression by the flesh.
The 40 day period seems to be a standard. The number 40 is often used in scripture to define a period that prepares one for the next step. The earlier text showed that Jesus 40 day trial in the wilderness prepared him for his ministry. Likewise, Moses life can be evenly divided between 40 year segments each one that readied him for the next. The Israelites stubbornness was such that a 40 year trial in the wilderness was needed before they could complete a trip that should not have taken 40 days.
I have heard varying day lengths for fasting. Some indicate the sunrise to sunset is 6:00 to 6:00. Others indicate any length that can be safely accomplished.
The Lord promised His favor as a result of the fast. (Isaiah 58:9-12) The act of denial for a set period of time can prepare one for the next step in our spiritual journey. Often, this means 40 days, 12 hours per day, twice a week and all that is between and surrounding. I can attest fasting does the soul good.
I will divulge my birthday fasting ritual in the next Word Courier Journal entry on Tuesday July 31st 2012. It will be entitIed Birthday Fast before the Birthday Bash. Iwould hope any expatriates who are also writing.com members will humor me by sharing their views and responses to today’s blog.
* I refer to fellow believers as expatriates because the world is not our home. We are merely passing through,but while here it is our duty to remake our individual habitats into heaven's image by exporting the revolutionary Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that desperetely needs to know the love of God. See my item entry the Expatriate Diaries:Allegiance
The Christian expatriate’s psychic suffers due to the undue influence of cultural contamination.* The infiltrations of heretical beliefs violate the believer’s covenant with our Lord. Furthermore, it distorts the relationship that we should have with the world. Jesus declared “ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Holy Bible KJV Matthew 5:13)
We are they who should lead the world rather than the other way around. It is true that people who are not covenanted with the Lord dominate the world’s affairs. Still, we can strive to recreate the places in which we live in the image of the place to which we belong. The early Christians did not have political power, some had money whereas others did not and their numbers were small. Yet they effectively spread the word because as the Apostle Paul once said “For there is no difference between Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” (Romans 10:12 KJV)
Our Christ Covenant Expatriate status should come before our Jewishness, Greekness or any other ness. We endanger ourselves of losing some cherished aspects of salvation when we allow the” ness” become our mess. The witness wonders and the walk (fellowship) can be hindered by that ‘C’ word, culture.
The Bible speaks of sanctification. This refers to separating ourselves for the work of God. The apostle Paul wrote “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2 KJV) The “it” factor that we offer is that which comes from God and can not be found elsewhere.
The early Christians were surrounded by pagan influences. This was particularly the case in the city of Corinth, a cosmopolitan port city where many people crossed. The saints of old were enticed to engage in the same revelry as the Corinthians. Today, we find the same challenges. How can we lead others to Christ if we’re doing the same wrongs they do? Why should anyone else listen to believers if the only difference between us is that we attend church more often? Jesus once asked the rhetorical query: “…can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?
Wonders abound in the covenant walk. Another word to describe these is blessings. The persistence of external influence may lead the Christian Expatriate to do things that inhibit their blessings. For instance, women who cohabitate with men may actually discourage rather than encourage their prospects of marriage. We men folk are not inclined to pursue women who already live with a man. Also, women who have children out of wedlock are not likely to get married soon –or ever. Don’t shout down the messenger church girls. The preceding observations have statistical backing.
The word must take precedence over the world. The stranglehold that Jim Crow had over the not so distant history America caused legitimate covenant living Christians to look on at the abuse of their brethren of color.** And in some cases they actually participated in this abuse. Sin as such can and does cause a breach in the covenant relationship. It must be repaired via repentance.
The repetition of sin eventually wears on the covenant. And, what began as sin in one area of life can then spread to other aspects. This may well lead to the effectual loss of the covenant likened to a marriage where two people simply coexist, or a family that shares name and DNA but is without bonding. The relationships still exist but fulfillment is absent. This too can occur with the covenant if we allow.
Culture must be the servant and not the master of Christ. It is for us to Christianize culture rather than culture our Christianity.
* See item entry "Expatriate Diaries"
**See previous "Word Courier Journal' entry on cultural contamination.
|I profess kinship with the Expatriate kingdom. The Expatriates* are they who inhabit the nations of the world while yet giving their primary alliance to their Prince, Jesus Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world. We are designated as believers, followers, and/or disciples upon entering a covenant (i.e. an agreement) with our Lord Jesus Christ. The agreement is simple: He gave his life for us, we give our lives to him. (see Romans 10:9-13 Holy Bible)
Culture can often corrupt the Christ covenant. An example of this arose last weekend. Rev. Mel Lewis, the founder of the Christian Identity Church, that is undoubtedly an offshoot of the Christian Identity Movement, organized a conference last weekend that was open only to white Christians. The meeting took place near Winfield, Alabama. It involved a heavy Ku Klux Klan presence.
It would be easy enough to dismiss the Christian Identity Church as extremist and not representative of Christianity or most Christians. The symbolic cross burnings at their event would suggest this very sentiment. I don’t believe this group to be legitimate covenant followers.
However, the not so distant past included “Christians” who towed the Jim Crow** line. The Southern Baptist congregation recently rebuked their historical support of slavery and segregation. They went so far as to issue a formal apology. I believe that many such past believers were authentic followers of Jesus who allowed their culture, white supremacy beliefs and segregation tendencies too much influence in their covenant relationships.
The Jim Crow cultural mind set was not exclusive to Dixie. I recall hearing of Klan gatherings in isolated pockets of my Midwest industrial small town 70’s era home. One such instance comes to mind. A Caucasian student whose name I remember but won’t print here for legal reasons was rumored to have passed around flyers advertising a Klan picnic to other white students during the lunch hour. Initially, I thought this to be a bold move on his part given the school’s African-American majority in the student population. However, upon further consideration, I realized that he was able to safely do so because African American and Caucasian students gathered together at separate tables. This was the customary way we chose to seat ourselves. As a result, he could do this in plain view of black students without any having knowledge of what he was doing.
Today, cultural norms continue to invade the Christ centered covenant. Church goers divorce rate rivals that of the un-churched. The outright hostility displayed by “Christian” commentators toward our African-American President of these United States of America is shameful. The casual acceptance of the growing “baby daddy, baby mama” phenomenon within the church provides another troubling reminder that culture is overtaking Christ among the believers.
The next “Word Courier” entry will examine the perils posed by Cultural contamination of the Christ covenant. It is entitled “The Dangers of Creeping Cultural Contamination.”
* I use the word expatriate to identify genuine followers of Jesus Christ who are engaged in a covenant relationship with him. See my item entry
Expatriates Diaries: Allegiance. It is the first in a series.
** Jim Crow is the slang term used to describe the official approval of overt segregation
The industrial world for centuries relied on the dead and dirty fossil fuels to enable modern livelihoods. Today, the more fortunate of world inhabitants stand poised to take advantage of live energy alternatives via technology. The live energy components are fast approaching the efficiency and expense needed to compete with fossil fuels to make life good in the industrial/information age.
The live alternatives are not buried. These exist all around us. Furthermore, the living sources are renewable. And, of course the living alternatives derive from life sustaining elements. The entities are the earth, wind and fire.
The big blue green rock that we inhabit is itself a source of energy. Gravity keeps us afloat or rather from floating away. The earth contains major energy resources. Energy is both within and on the earth.
We can sow and grow our energy. The ethanol used along with petroleum based gasoline stems from the fermenting process that converts sugars into energy that can power moving vehicles. American ethanol largely comes from corn, but it can also be extracted out of other grains such as barley and switch grass. Brazil has successfully used sugar from sugar cane (of course) to reduce their dependence on foreign oil. Trees, manure and even grass clippings provide sources of energy.
The fire that burns within the earth is power packed. According to the the Department of Energy,* (D.O.E.) the earth produces heat within that rivals that of the sun’s surface. This heat when tapped can be changed into steam or hot water. It is then able to transform into electricity. The heat burns on.
Water is a powerful force that effectively shapes the contours dividing land and sea. It can pummel rock into submission and much like the potter to his clay sculpts land surfaces to the figure it desires. Water flow is harnessed to help produce electricity.
The wind is neither earth surface nor sent by the sun. However, the sun does affect it. (more on that later) The wind along with water is a traditional energy source used when massive power is needed. Sailing throughout the ages has been accomplished via careful monitoring and use of wind patterns. Today, wind experiences a renaissance, an energy use revival. The D.O.E. predicted some years ago that energy could supply 20% of the nation’s electric energy by the year 2030. The force of moving air is a beautiful thing.
The sun is the ultimate power source. It can provide a six day energy output that is equivalent to the whole world’s coal supply. And, without the mountaintop blasting and carcinogens pumped into the atmosphere. Today, people use cells to capture the sun’s enormous vigor. The heat then can be converted to electricity.
The sun is at the center of live energy. Plants absorb its light to enable the process of photosynthesis. This is how plants convert the sun’s gift into the sugars of which bio fuels are derived. Trees in particular store the life given out by the sun, the release of which provides live energy.
The wind’s currents are determined by varying heat patterns on the earth’s surface. The heat that gives rise to these patterns is supplied by the sun. The sun plays an integral part in the hydro cycle that allows water to remain a renewable energy source. It evaporates water bringing it up to the atmosphere from where it will depart and return to the earth as snow and rain.
The live energy elements have been around always. These elements will continue to serve those who were given dominion the world if they will exercise that right correctly. The Bible states that God looked upon his creation and saw that everything was good. (Genesis 1:31) That which was good then is still good now.
* The U.S. Dept.of Energy has a very useful web site develped by its Energy Information Administration division. I receieved much (but not all) of the information from that source in writing this article. The link is http://www.eia.gov/