Bridegroom Fast–Part 4

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Jesus introduced the Bridegroom fast in Matthew 9:15. Jesus taught that after the Bridegroom would be taken away from His disciples then they will fast.It is the cry of a longing heart for more of Him. Our longing is to encounter Him in greater depth, greater faith, and greater vision. It is understanding that their are rewards for pressing into God and His fullness in our lives. The reward is HIM! We need a greater vision of this truth today and thus we continue consistently, weekly setting aside time and focus to seek Him in an ever increasing revelation of His great power and grace.

What is really interesting is what Jesus teaches right on the heels of this revelation of the Bridegroom fast. This is found in Matthew 9L16-17:

 “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. 17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

The  cloth is a piece of new cloth that has never been shrunk by use. The new wine here is a symbol of the work of the Holy Spirit in a believers life that is new to him and never been experienced before. Get the idea here. If you put a new cloth on an old garment it will actually be counterproductive because the old garment will not expand or grow to accommodate the new cloth. By the same token, a wine that is new cannot be contained in an old wineskin because when it ferments and expands the old wineskin will burst and the wine will spill out, wasted on the ground.

So in context, Jesus teaches in this whole chapter that He is working to save the lost, bring in those who are sick–disconnected from God. He is uninterested in old religious rituals and traditions but is all about touching people in real, life-changing ways.

He is dealing with religious leaders who bragged that they fasted often. But it wasn’t out of a longing, loving heart to encounter Jesus in a more powerful way, they did it out of religious duty as a work to further the idea of religious piety and self righteousness. Look at their fruit. They were critical. They were hard and unloving. They had no heart for the lost.

Also, the system they were a part of made no room for the work of God, it was built on the work of man. Think about this: Most of the religious leaders of our own day are not driven by a passion for Jesus but are loyal to a system. They are more worried that the structures in place are followed and kept in place than a breakout of lost sinners, prostitutes, and broken hearted souls are coming to new life in Jesus. These will not know what to do with ex-sinners who are lining up to get into the Father’s house.

In answer to the lovesick Bride of Christ’s cry for a  new wave of God’s presence and glory, the Holy Spirit is bringing in a new outpouring of wine. It is a deeper revelation of God’s love and power. Multitudes are hearing the voice of the Spirit and are being brought into the kingdom of God. Our old structures will not hold this new move of God. The new insights and revelations will be lost in old structures like new wine spilling out on the ground. What a waste!

Not only is the Holy Spirit pouring out new wine, He is re-structuring the systems and organization within the Church so this new wine is not wasted. No longer is the church going to be the herd and the pastor the  head buffalo concept where the people wait for the pastor to do something or take the church to the next “field”. But it is now a outpouring of the Holy Spirit on lovesick hearts who will take this encounter to other lovesick hearts and express the very heart and nature of God to a lost world.

Great changes are coming! The only way you and I can thrive in such a time is to go after the Bridegroom with all of our heart. God can only dwell in power in those who are in AGREEMENT  with Him! For this wave to overtake the church we must be in the proper posture for it to move us. Your ‘position’ here is to be a one of the lovesick bride. Not a religious critic.

Join with thousands of other lovesick hearts crying out for more. Fast for the purpose of new wine and new cloth being brought into our lives along with new structures to ‘contain’ it. God is waiting for you, the Holy Spirit is ready for you, and Jesus is going to something brand new IN you!

Good To Great–Bridegroom Fast Part 3

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What is a “good” Christian? What defines “good”? Are you “good”? Is your life “good”? Is your relationship with God “good”? How “good” are you? And how “good” do you have to be to get to heaven?

I know all you Bible students just went in your minds to Matthew 19:17 “There is none good but one, that is God..” And you are going to expound that no one goes to heaven based on their own goodness but on the basis of Christ’s sacrificial life, death and resurrection. I agree.

Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:20 ”  For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus covers a lot of teaching in this message we call the sermon on the mount. He is not trying to make things ‘easy’ when it comes to salvation, He is trying to elevate it from religious emptiness to meaningful life. He is dealing with religious people who fasted, prayed, and gave offerings. He doesn’t do away with our responsibility to DO any of these. He outlines HOW to do them right! How to take them from “good’ to GREAT!

Read these words slowly and carefully:

“Take care not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you will have no reward [[a]reserved for and awaiting you] with and from your Father Who is in heaven.

Thus, whenever you give to the poor, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do, that they may be [b]recognized and honored and praised by men. Truly I tell you, they have their reward [c]in full already.

But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward [d]in full already.

And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and [m]sour and [n]dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal countenance, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward [o]in full already.

17 But when you fast, perfume your head and wash your face,

18 So that your fasting may not be noticed by men but by your Father, Who sees in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.” (Matt. 6:1-6; 16-18)

In our Western Christianity today we have so tried to bring grace back to center focus, we have forgotten the disciplines that make one a true disciple(note the root word). Good works are not what save us–it is by grace–but our lives BECAUSE we are born again should be filled with ALL kinds of good works! Jesus was not telling us NOT to pray, He was saying don’t pray like Pharisees. They pray to be HEARD of men. So what was the reward? They were heard of men! BOOM! What a reward!

He did not say not to fast…come on now! He said don’t do it like them–to be SEEN of MEN! When you fast… do it before ME and I will reward you OPENLY! Do you see the difference? Giving, praying, and fasting all have the potential to be good for men to see your good works…which if that is your motivation then you got what you wanted. Or you can go from good to great and do it for GOD! Let your motivation be for HIM and not for your self aggrandizement  and watch what God does in your life! HE WILL SHOW YOU OFF!

To fast the Bridegroom fast, one must have a high vision. One must shake off the pressure to just be “good” enough and one must want to find the GREAT. Being just good enough will get you to heaven–because your place there is already secured in His greatness. But having a HIGH vision–to be GREAT will get heaven to YOU! That experience where you ARE where HE is! The ascended life of GREAT faith,GREAT strength, and GREAT love! Why would we settle for just going to heaven when we can be a people who live FROM heaven!

How far is the distance from good to great? It is a big gap. It is the difference between settling and SEIZING! It is the difference between emptiness to being ENGULFED! It is the difference between just trying and triumphing! It is the difference between bareness and BOUNTIFULNESS! It is the difference between excuses and EXCELLENCE!

Commit today, one day a week. To give your focus, your passion, and your faith to press into GREATNESS for the Lord is GREAT and GREATLY to be praised!

Are You Bored Again? Part 3 of Bridegroom Fast

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What is the source of great defeat to so many of us today? Is it our vile passions? Our cultural cesspool of lewd and lascivious living? Is it the big, bad devil who lurks in every dark corner of the world? Is it the sensual, sinful hearts of those who lie in wait to ensnare? No, no, no and no! What? Aren’t these the things destroying our society and our lives? They are out there for sure. They present a host of challenges and temptations you must navigate. BUT, I am going to give you the number one source that trips up and defeats more believers than any of these other things combined…..

BOREDOM!  Spiritual boredom! Because it is easy to develop a religion about God than to walk in a white hot, passionate relationship WITH Him, we easily get bored. Then in our boredom we become vulnerable to compromise. Our boredom opens the door to all kinds of temptations and sin. In our boredom we lack strength, courage, and conviction! Out of our boredom, we lose interest, we drift and we lack focus.  Boredom has been defined by Cynthia D. Fisher in terms of its main central psychological processes: “an unpleasant, transient affective state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest and difficulty concentrating on the current activity.” Let’s be honest, we have all fought boredom while praying or reading the Bible. We find it difficult to stay with it, to concentrate, and to get much out of it. I believe the pervading sense of boredom is a symptom of the distance we have with the Lord.

When we lose our passion it is easy for things to become routine and boring. We know reading the Bible is good for us…like medicine. So we take it, not because we are hungry for it, or really desire it, but because we know we need to. With that motivation it is easy to see how it can come up short of really inspiring us. Praying can become the same. We pray out of a sense of duty and even as just an emergency call line to heaven. It lacks devotion. It lacks love, but we keep at it because we know it’s what we should do. Even our service to God can become the same way, a duty we perform and not a love we live. We become bored and even the simplest things become complicated and hard to perform because we have lost our heart and our focus. In fact, many have substituted the work they do FOR God for the time they spend WITH God.

The bridegroom fast is to keep our hearts ALIVE! It is so we can see and encounter God’s radical and passionate love for us. We become transformed as we are gripped by the realization that His Bridegroom LOVE is ablaze with passionate affection FOR us! It is the oil of which we fill our lamps so that when He comes we are READY! Look at this picture from the book Pilgrim’s Progress. Here Christian is being shown by Interpreter an odd sight. They see a wall and in front a man is pouring water on the fire coming out of the wall. Behind the wall oil is being constantly poured into the pipes to feed the flame. No matter how much water the man pours the flame CAN NOT BE EXTINQUISHED!

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This is the way we prepare ourselves for our Lord’s return. Many of you fight rejection and fear. You feel unworthy and unacceptable to God. Your living out of the identity of an orphan and not a son or daughter of God. God to you is distant and disconnected, a million miles away. That is a lie! Satan is trying to keep you from your Bridal identity. He wants you to feel dirty, unwanted, and unloved. But listen beloved, push through that lie and press into God’s love for you. Push back your plate, turn off the TV, open your heart and open your spirit to encounter God’s love for you as HE sees you. ACCEPTED! CHERISHED! REDEEMED! RESTORED! HIS!

Everyone lives out of their inner identity. It is not important how I see you or how your friends see you. In fact, it is not how God sees you that determines how you live. It is how you see yourself. We all have crippled views of our identity in some form or another. On sure way to get healed is to press into your Bridal calling and find out where you need an upgrade in your status! Fasting is the perfect way to get re-calibrated, re-aligned, and re-conciled back to God. This isn’t a fast to get something, it is a fast to BECOME something. It is not asking God to DO something FOR you but to DO something INSIDE you! Join me and let’s see if He can make us BORN again NOT BORED again!

The Bridegroom Fast Part 2

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In Part 1, we saw the Father’s heart in the Bridegroom fast was to close the gap between us and Jesus. That may seem like a strange statement in light of the fact that when you get born again the Spirit of God comes into and lives inside your human spirit. So how can there be a gap?

Deep within every heart is the longing, the cry for intimacy with God. God IS love, and the one cry from every heart is to know that love. The problem is we have lived so much of our lives OUTSIDE of that love and APART from that love that we grow accustomed to living without it. Then when we come to Christ we live more out of our HEAD than our HEART. For years it has been my contention that most of us miss heaven by about 16 inches. The distance from your head to your heart. By missing heaven I don’t mean in the sense of going to hell(although certainly, some will miss heaven because they stumble intellectually over the Gospel 1 Cor.1:22-24). I mean how much more of the heavenly reality could be ours, more love, more peace, more joy, if we just knew how to live from our hearts instead of our heads.

This is why fasting is difficult for most in the first case. Because logically, how can skipping meals, or refraining from television, or any other discipline bring transformation and bring us closer to GOD? Isn’t that works? Isn’t that human effort and self-abasement?

But the simple truth is if we want to be like Jesus, think like Him, speak like Him, and walk like Him, we must do what He did. He walked in close and intimate relationship with the Father. He prayed regularly, fasted often, and loved with abandon. He was fervent in His devotion, fiery in His love, and fully surrendered in His passion for oneness with the Father. Listen to this:

Thus says God the Lord—He Who created the heavens and stretched them forth, He Who spread abroad the earth and that which comes out of it, He Who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:

I the Lord have called You [the Messiah] for a righteous purpose and in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and will keep You; I will give You for a covenant to the people [Israel], for a light to the nations [Gentiles],

To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness from the prison.

I am the Lord; that is My name! And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images.

Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.

 The Lord will go forth like a mighty man, He will rouse up His zealous indignation and vengeance like a warrior; He will cry, yes, He will shout aloud, He will do mightily against His enemies.

14 [Thus says the Lord] I have for a long time held My peace, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry out like a woman in travail, I will gasp and pant together.

15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their herbage; I will turn the rivers into islands, and I will dry up the pools.

16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness into light before them and make uneven places into a plain. These things I have determined to do [for them]; and I will not leave them forsaken. Isa.42:5-9;13-16

This speaks of a man who is completely given over to His mission. But the reason He is so possessed by the mission is because He is possessed by the Mission Giver! This is what the Bridegroom fast really accomplishes. If you’re looking for a quick fix, a quick answer to a dilemma, a way to avert a disaster in your life,  this is not the fast for you. This is the deep cry of a heart that knows in your head the vastness of God’s love, but also realizes the actual experience of it is lagging behind and is crying out to see it in your life daily.

Before the cross, Jesus gave a very powerful parable to describe just how deep and passionate His love was for His church. It is found in Matthew 22:1-14. Here we see the burning desire of HIs heart.

 The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son”

The kingdom of God is like a wedding, and the Father has arranged a marriage, a feast, and a celebration for His Son. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible:

The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty” Rev.22:17

How beautiful is your love, my sister, my [promised]bride! How much better is your love than wine! And the fragrance of your ointments than all spices! Song of Solomon 4:10

For as a young man marries a virgin [O Jerusalem], so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isa. 62:5

These are but a few of verses that speak to the Church’s bridal identity. Jesus IS the Bridegroom and the Church is the BRIDE! He has a ravishing love for her! He is passionate for her and is even JEALOUS over her! Your intellect cannot grasp this, but your heart can! His fiery love so consumes the Bride that they speak the same…both saying COME!

Which leads us to the real battle going on today for the Church. I don’t think the battle is our THEOLOGY, our ESCHATOLOGY, or our ORTHODOXY. Those are all head issues–things that relate to our intellect.  In Matthew, Jesus reveals the real battle is something entirely different:

And sent his servants to summon those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they refused to come.

Again he sent other servants, saying, Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have prepared my banquet; my bullocks and my fat calves are killed, and everything is prepared; come to the wedding feast.

But they were not concerned and paid no attention [they ignored and made light of the summons, treating it with contempt] and they went away—one to his farm, another to his business,”  Mt.22:3-5

It was not that they were uniformed, uneducated, or unaware. They were unconcerned! Totally unmoved, unaffected, and wrapped up in their own world. This beloved is what the Bridegroom fast is designed to fight. It is getting your focus on this revelation and not allowing our hearts to miss this most important truth. It is seeking the Groom for fresh, deep personal encounters of love so this passion takes root down inside us. If I understand John’s prophecy in Revelation, then the Bride and Bridegroom last days message is one of UNITY where the Spirit AND the Bride are moving together to hurry the Groom’s coming! She is crying out, “COME!” in deep intercession and she is walking in her full Bridal identity!

This fast is to awaken this longing in us!  So much of the church has been lulled to indifference. We have become very ‘busy’ but very cold and/or lukewarm in our love for Jesus.  The Spirit is moving! He is calling to an awakening of love. He is trying to ignite hearts with a Holy passion. But many are just ignoring and going about with a business as usual  approach. Read Matthew 22 , pray over it, see if you find yourself in there somewhere.

If there is not a deep longing, an intense desire in your heart for Jesus, perhaps you are backslidden and in need of restoration. Cry out to God and repent and DO your first works again. IN other words fall in mad crazy love with Jesus all over again!

 To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,

‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not be Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” Rev.2:1-5

This is a church who has it right in their heads but has lost it in their hearts. The only way to fight this is to CLOSE the gap between us and our Bridegroom and let the revelation of His identity be rooted in OUR identity. Ephesus was a church whose theology was sound, their eschatology in alignment, and there orthodoxy in order. But their heart had grown cold and their love indifferent. Unmoved by the Bridegroom, unaffected by His love, and untouched by the flame of His passion. His counsel for them is His counsel for us–“COME BACK TO ME! REPENT! I LOVE YOU!”

Father:I pray for hearts to be encountered right now and the passion of Your love for them to break through. No more being unconcerned, unaffected, and unmoved. Light the flame of Your desire in every heart right now  Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name AMEN!

The Bridegroom Fast-Part 1

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The disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked a question: “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”  (Mt.9:14)

A valid question. Fasting was a part of religious tradition and every devoted Jewish person fasted. The Jews were taught to fast as a part of their tradition and it permeated their practices and procedures. Just as their were feast days, their were fast days under the law. Pharisees made it a measure of righteousness even though we know  their type of fasting carried only one reward–you get noticed by men.(Mt.6:16) Really not much of a reward at all.

But the fact that  men abused the practice, there were some who fasted and saw breakthroughs, deliverance, and mighty moves of God. Esther fasted for 3 days when the annihilation of the Jews was imminent and God brought a great deliverance( Esther 4:16). Daniel and the welfare of the captives of Babylon were in grave danger and he fasted 21 days until an angel appeared with a powerful breakthrough that saved them all(Daniel 10:2-3). There are many references to special times of fasting and prayer that brought the people of God tremendous deliverance and demonstration of God’s power.

Even in modern times we have seen leaders call  people to times of fasting and prayer for Divine intervention. Lincoln did it during the Civil War while our country’s future was in doubt and he called for a fast and a time of seeking God for national revival and restoration. Here is an excerpt from the Proclamation dated March 30, 1863:

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

Where is this kind of leadership in America today? Where is our God? And where is His people? This cry literally saved our nation from splitting and being permanently damaged forever.

There are many types of fasting, there are many different methods. Many good books are out there that will explain them all to you. But I want to teach you about the Bridegroom fast. This is not just a fast but is more about a LIFESTYLE. It is not just a once a year or twice a year time when you feel the need but a weekly, regular, consistent time of fasting to develop a lifestyle around one particular passion.

Jesus taught the rewards of fasting in Mt. 6:19   that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Jesus stated it clearly that there is a reward in fasting. The kind that is done quietly, unpronounced will bring an OPEN reward. This is the Bridegroom fast.It is stated in Mt 9: “And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Jesus said that the reason his disciples did not fast was because the Bridegroom was with them. In other words as long as He was with them there was no need to fast. He was close and intimate with them. But that He would go away and then they would fast. They would do it out of a love sick heart that longed for intimacy and closeness to the One whom they loved.The separation was too much for them. Yes they enjoyed the Holy Spirit’s presence but they wanted more… they wanted to be close to Him.

Much fasting is done today with the thought in mind that God is going to see how serious I am and then in return He is going to give me what I ask for. For example, we feel the need for revival, so we fast and pray for revival. Then at some point, God sends revival when He sees how serious we are. We base this on the fact that  most, if not all, of the great moves of God in history were precipitated by fasting and prayer. Hence, prayer and fasting is the key so we must pray and fast more to get God to move. There are a couple of different problems with that thinking:

1.Revival is the result of people being moved upon by God. God’s moving is sovereign but it is in answer to faith and not by WORKS! Just as you don’t get saved by works–by say prayer and fasting-you get saved by Grace THROUGH FAITH…it is the gift of God(Ep.2:10). It is so easy to get ‘religious’ about fasting and think God will bless BECAUSE we did it.

2. The key to EVERYTHING is our heart. It is easy to DO things and gloss over the most important aspect of our lives–our heart. We are instructed to KEEP our hearts with all diligence for out of IT are the ISSUES of life(Pr.4:23) Pharisees were students of the law, practitioners of the ordinances, and sticklers for the minute details. Yet Jesus rebuked them and said that you honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me.

The real reason for revival was people getting their hearts right with God. People who had been saved for years but had allowed their love and affection for Jesus to grow cold and indifferent. Then in a time of reflection and repentance their hearts got right with God and He in turn showered His presence in powerful ways in answer to renewed hearts and vision. To think we can pray and fast in a move of God without heart change is foolish.

Where is your heart today? Are you close and intimate with the Lord? Is He your first thought in the morning and your last in the evening? Is your heart crying out to close the distance between Him and you as a love sick bride? Are you missing something in your daily walk with Him? You know how to DO the Christian thing but your heart cries for something MORE?

This is the bridegroom fast. A time to focus all your attention on HIM and how to close the gap between what you KNOW of Him and what you have in reality EXPERIENCED of Him. It is a weekly, regular, consistent time where I am not asking God to DO anything FOR me but my cry is for something to happen IN me!

In closing, I want to tell you a story. I was a young man, newly married when I took a construction job on a travelling crew. My crew travelled doing all of the concrete/foundation work for retail stores all over Indiana. We would leave on a Monday morning early and go to our jobsite miles and miles away and could not return until all the flatwork and foundation was done.

This was agonizing for me to be away from my young, beautiful wife. Soon we also added a son and leaving them both was making me literally sick. I eventually turned in my resignation because the distance was unbearable. I would pine for my family and was NOT going to be satisfied with the separation.

Jesus is looking for His bride, the Church, to long after Him in that way. I believe He has some powerful rewards for those who will fast for this one reason–to close this gap. To EXPERIENCE His love and not be satisfied just to read about it in the lives of others. The bridegroom fast is simply a way to posture your heart to experience God’s blazing love for YOU! Do you have to do this? No, you can go to heaven by simply believing in and surrendering to Christ. But why just go to heaven when you can experience heaven here and now in a passionate love affair with the KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS!

Would you be willing to close this gap by giving the Lord ONE day a week for the next year? One day where you let go of something close and important to you in order to go after Him? Maybe it will not be food for you, maybe its hellivision(not a misprint), maybe it is social media. or maybe it is something else that is not necessarily wrong but a DISTRACTION. In the words of James, “Draw near to God…and He will draw near to you…”(James 4:8) Please don’t just read this…DO this. It will change your life! If you have questions or comments, leave in the comment box and I will do my best to answer.

Next we will talk about the real dilemma in our lives that the Holy Spirit wants to resolve…not by making us religious but by relationship.

A New You For The New Year

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We are into 2015 and you’ve no doubt seen peoples’ resolutions and maybe even made a few of your own. I joined, or should I say rejoined, the “Y”. I am happy to report I am already 52 dollars lighter! Who says this isn’t easy? But midst all the promises and resolutions, all the talk and cheerleading, can we just be honest? If YOU don’t change in 2015–then NOTHING changes in 2015. But I can guarantee that if you change…EVERYTHING changes around you. Face it, your boss is probably not going to change. Your husband/wife is not going to change. Your kids? Not hardly. Your church, your world, your life…will not change until you do. Change yourself and change the world!

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“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” 2 Cor.5:17 AMP

This is the Christian life, made up of two parts.
1.Clear endings–where God is bringing an END to some things in your life. It might be a job, a relationship, a habit, or ANYTHING connected to your old life.
2. New Beginnings. Where God is bringing some NEW things INTO your life to solidify your new creative order.
Here is the question. What is God bringing an end to in your life? What is He taking you out of or better yet, taking out of you? What area is dead or dying and God just simply wants you to put it away? Are you willing to let it Go? Will you lay it down?
What then is God trying to bring into your life? What new thing is the Holy Spirit trying to do? Lack of clarity here is costly and painful. It is costly because it results in wasted time–time you can never get back. Wasted experiences that send you down rabbit trails that divert and distract and leave you empty . Painful because “hope deferred makes the heart sick..”

Change is not a magical, mystical undefinable ethereal experience that falls from heaven. It is a practical, powerful, principled decision to APPLY oneself to the need at hand and stay with it until the needed change manifests. Yes, God and His Holy Spirit is the change agent. But, YOU are changes captain. You decide where you are going and how you’re going to get there. You even decide how close to the Lord you want to be! WE are instructed in James 4:8 to “draw nigh to God and THEN He will draw nigh to you”! You are as close as you want to be. God puts that in YOUR hand and then invites you to pursue Him.

It is time to shake off your excuses. Time to leave behind your wishful thinking and grab hold of truth and reality. Too many of us want a western form of Christianity that offers “FAST, SOOTHING, TEMPORARY RELIEF”…Really? Fast and temporary? How about enduring and lasting pain relief! How about permanent solutions that put an end to things that have been hounding us for years. How about realizing the need is IN me and not somewhere or someone else!

I am going to be blogging over the next weeks to let you in on our journey for the next year as CITY POINT CHURCH. I am going to introduce you to ZTHE BRIDEGROOM FAST as a part of this.

Out Of Balance

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A job promotion gave such promise. It brought in more money, it made it possible to get the bigger house. It opened up so much more promise. The cost? Well, it did mean more hours, more after hour meetings, more time away from the kids, less time with the wife. But soon it will get better. Now we seem so far apart in our nicer home.

As a woman in a man’s world, you have fought hard to get where you are. NO one handed you anything. You fought corporate policies that seemed to work against single moms. You fought discrimination and finally got equal pay for equal work. It’s been rough but it’s finally starting to pay off. The cost? Well, I don’t have much of a personal life and I sometimes wonder if my kids have suffered because of my  choices. But what am I to do? I’m a single mom doing the best I can. 

Balance! Something we never think about until it is too late. Balance is something you don’t realize how important it is until you’ve lost it. By the time you realize you’ve lost your balance your on the ground quickly looking around to see if anyone saw you. We never think about balance until we lose it because we never lose it until we are flat of our back or grasping for something to right us when we are “off”. 

There is an interesting video on YouTube called, “The Balance Goddess:Lara Jacobs” It is about 15 minutes if you have the time. For the sake of the blog let me describe for you what happens. She slowly, dramatically, and artistically builds a sculpture one stick at a time. Starting with a feather, she balances on a small stick and then one at a time adds another stick, and another and another–each one progressively bigger until she is carrying about 15 sticks all balanced on top of each other. She then takes a stick and places it upright on the floor and balances all of the sticks on that one stick and she finally has her hands free. It’s quite a moment.

It is an allegory of life and its’ delicate balance. We all wear many hats, manage many responsibilities,  and have a complex layer of interests and callings we must look after. For example you are a man and you decide I want to be a man after God’s heart so I lay that against my role as a Husband and then a father. I work a job or own a business and I have to balance that against the demands of a house, my car, and my families’ need to eat and wear clothes. My children have their own interests in school and sports. Therefore, my time must be leveraged in a way that I do not fail to spend time with each and every one of them. But wait, my wife needs personal time too. My friends are pressing me to spend some time and my pastor is really pressuring me to not to forget God’s requirement of my time as well. It’s a delicate balance. If you are a woman, a wife, a mom, it is even more demanding for you. Then add that more and more women are being forced to work outside the home to make ends meet in a shrinking economy.  

For many the demands are producing stress cracks in every level of our relationships. We feel overworked, under-appreciated and we are left with the feeling that we are doing more BUT enjoying it LESS. My favorite part of the video is at around the 14 minute point. She has built her balancing sculpture and it is standing on its own and the crowd is applauding enthusiastically. She is basking in the light of a glorious accomplishment. What a balancing act! She then reaches up and gently removes the feather and the entire work collapses to the floor. All she has done is in a pile on the floor.

I feel like many are just like this woman. Just a feather removed from a complete collapse. What is the secret? It is balance? What is the secret to balance? Don’t LOSE it! How do I do that? That’s a great question.  It is so easy to build a life that is out of balance. The lure and deception of SUCCESS has many on a treadmill that will end up taking you nowhere. Just the drive to succeed can spin your life out of balance.  Are you just barely holding it together? Are you just a feather from collapse? Are you feeling frustrated and tired and just want off this merry go around called life?

I am going to address this over the next few weeks so stay with me. I’m sure I won’t answer everything but I will address something. You can also check out the City Point Podcast from last Sunday and for the next several weeks as I am doing a series called LIFE IN BALANCE at citypoint.tv.

I am shamelessly plugging  this because many marriages, parental relationships, and careers are going to be helped as we learn how to get and  keep things in balance. God Bless!

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