Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual disciplines have always been a massive part of my life. I do not do all of them all the time, but I do most of them all the time. Spiritual disciplines include Church attendance, Bible reading, Prayer, and Fasting. Many Believers participate in the first three but not so much concerning Fasting.Spiritual-disc-fasting

Every year, hundreds, if not thousands of people worldwide participate in the spiritual discipline of Fasting. Fasting is designed to deny yourself and become introspective as you read the Bible and pray. Some think of it as something special, while others think it is weird and outdated. Let’s face it, today, people would say, “Why are you denying yourself? Don’t do that.” However, I recall the generation of my grandparents saying and believing that you move the hand of God when you shove the plate away and pray.

I have participated in Fasting for many years. Each time I would enter that time with the hope that God would show me what He wanted me to do in the new year. This year was no different; I entered the year being excited, focused, and intense about seeking the Lord. I will be the first to admit that I sometimes approach spiritual disciplines expecting God to show up in a loud and active way, but that’s not been His practice with me over the years. This year was no different.

What did happen was something very practical for my life and done in the most subtle and gentle way. God showed me that I need to relax and not be so high-strung. I need to pull back when I feel my anxiety rising, and I need to watch how I work with others so that I do not drive them so hard that they feel fearful or exhausted. I honestly think that is the purpose of Fasting—getting quiet and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal our areas of deficiencies so that we can be better. These revelations are not designed for us to feel condemnation, guilt, or self-loathing. Instead, revelations help us face who we are and understand our need for Jesus.

My grandparents taught me that Fasting was not public and showy; it is a private matter, a commitment to spend time in God’s presence. I mention Fasting because I think it has become more of a fad or ritual for some, rather than the act of really seeking God’s face. I noticed this year I repeatedly said to others that I was Fasting and immediately felt condemned because I did not want them to think I was boasting. As a result, I found myself evaluating my thoughts and motives. See, self-evaluating is always a good thing. That’s why I love the scriptures. It tells us that God loves us, but He also knows our hearts and tests our anxious thoughts.

Do You Have Heart Issues Like Me?

heartsDo you ever deal with “heart” issues?

I have been dealing with heart issues lately. My heart and my head are working overtime trying to figure out myself and my motives while trying not to worry about the motives of others.

I observe people. I am a people-watcher. More than anything, I listen to people, even when they don’t think I am. I watch for signs of superiority and insincerity. These traits will show up in various ways.  All you need to do is wait.

Anyway, I don’t like the way I have been feeling lately. Like you, I have seen the best of folks and the worst. I told myself that it’s time to stop and reevaluate my surroundings; not my inner circle, they are cool, but some of my associations and occasional acquaintances. If I, or you, are not careful, these associations can become more frequent and more influential in our thought patterns. You see, we sometimes hear from these acquaintances more than from our inner circle and before we know it, their voices are in our heads and spills over into our hearts. This is the time to find our inner circle!

My inner circle is people who are more than just trustworthy; they are authentic!  They are positive, going somewhere people who energize me.  We don’t always agree, but we respect each other.

friendship-starts-in-loving-heartWe value the opinions of each other, and we trust that each one of us is intelligent and bright enough to have an opinion worth hearing. I love my inner circle because we believe in treating others well whether others are like us or not. We don’t insult others or treat people in a nasty way. We are proud and open-minded and we recognize that we don’t have all the answers, nor do we know the mind of God, but we trust God with the answer.

I am reminding myself lately to be careful to check my heart. I don’t want it to become dark and distrusting of others. I ask you to do the same.  With all that is going on in the world, we have to guard our hearts and our attitudes. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into negativity and pessimism. It’s too easy to do.  One way to ensure that does not happen is to step away from social media (which isn’t so social anymore) and read your Bible.  Stop listening to the crowd for a while, rather, sit, reflect and wait to hear from God.

The Word of God says in Lamentations 3:22-23 that “The steadfast love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.; great is your faithfulness.”

I know that God loves me. He loves you too, but He also loves the world. The world doesn’t look the same to everyone; I get that. However, the world and all that is in it belongs to God (Psalms 24:1).

I have told myself that instead of being frustrated with what I have seen lately, I will trust God. He has always taken care of me and I trust He will continue to do so. He mends the brokenhearted and He cares about the things that bother us.  I  believe that the God I love is probably a whole lot more tolerant and accepting of those that are not like me. I don’t know, but I do believe that one day I will.