October 10, 2008

My Call of Late. (My call was on time I was the late one)

Reading, reading, reading. I wish I could say that I have been reading alot, but I haven't made time for it much in the last two weeks. I finished the first of the Mitford Series by Jan Karon called At Home In Mitford. I told Rob it reminded me of Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls, but built around the life of a church, not who Loralei was currently dating. I enjoyed the book, it was filled with wonderful characters and small town quaintness. Rob would say, what is happening now? And I would answer something like, "well the pastor just lost his dog.., " so it wasn't a book I couldn't put down which is why it took me about 3 weeks to read it. I had bought the first three books of the series used on Amazon so the other two are waiting patiently for me to read.

I just received Irresistable Revolution and Jesus For President, both written by Shane Claiborne. My friend Vanessa talks about Irresistable Revolution all the time, and I heard several students talking about it up at ACU the other day, so that will be the next book on my list to read.


I have been thinking about the field trip my Christian Spiritual Formation class took to the local Christian Orthodox Church a couple of weeks ago. We were in the question and answer portion and one of the students asked what the priest thought that the western faith was lacking in. I appreciated the priests thoughtful answer, there were several things he thought that the Christian Orthodox church does that he appreciated more than his baptist upbringing. One I wrote about already, there is no discussion on how contemporary or fundamental services are, they are the way they were a thousand years ago. But the one I haven't written about and the thought that I keep on pondering is that the Western Religions, which is most of the Christian faiths in the United States, expect very little from their parishoners. There are some Western churches that expect the devotion to spiritual disciplines from their members, but not that many as a whole. In the Orthodox church members fast regularly. In many churches we look at the word "fast" and don't even give it a thought. The practice of spiritual disciplines which fasting is one, transforms, transforms our lives, transforms our hearts, gives place to the spiritual where our flesh has it's feet firmly planted.

The priest said that people who do not practice any form of spiritual discipline typically have a very difficult time saying no to their fleshly desires...food, p*rn*graphy, materialism. This is certainly true in my life. I think that our Western faith is built so much on rationalism that we find it hard to devote ourselves to any form of discipline that we don't see immediate results with, even when God clearly expects us to fast. Over the last several years God has been calling me to fast, how do I know that? Well let's just say that going without food for any extended period of time would have to come from someone other than myself. Each time I read in scripture and there are references to fasting it is like that blue light special comes to life around that sentence. Here, Tammy, this is where I want you to go with Me, is what I feel when I am on a scripture regarding fasting.
So several months ago I felt the Lord was calling me to a 4 night/3 day fast. I fasted from Sunday at sundown to Thursday at sun up. I journalled through the experience as it was a long time and I wanted to remember how it all went. It was certainly a sacrifice to cook my family dinner and then sit down with them and have a glass of water or clear juice, but for the most part it was not that hard. I think because I knew that God was calling me to it, I was in His will, and I was able to rest in that place pretty easily.

Since then God hasn't called me to do a fast that lasts several days, but he has been calling me to fast each week. Several weeks ago I submitted my will to that and now I fast every Sunday night from sundown until sundown (or dinner time with my family) on Monday nights. I finally feel rest when I look on the words "fast" in scripture. No more yearning to do what is right but allowing my flesh to win the battle. Back up to the people who do not practice any form of spiritual discipline and have a hard time saying no to their fleshly desires, there is a heightened sense during the week, and it has been this way since my original multi day fast several months ago, a heightened sense of making good choices vs. letting my flesh take over. Am I really hungry? Or am I eating just because...

Materialism is something I have struggled with in my past, not necessarily in the last 20 years significantly, but here and there I know that I am not giving good thought to how I spend my money. So besides my regular fasting, I can feel God calling me to a simpler lifestyle, and there will need to be a fast of spending, so my stewardship is reflective of a life of simplicity. This brings me to a side note of how much I wish I had Randy Harris' wardrobe. He is a professor at ACU, he is drawn to a very monastic lifestyle, he wears black pants and a black shirt every day. That is all that is in his closet. I would love that.

Please don't read into this about the Pharisee that fasts and makes a big deal out of it, that is not my heart on this post at all. I think that if Satan can keep us quiet on how God is moving and changing us, if we don't share where He is glorified through our brokenness then we are not letting His light shine. God is moving in each of us and we need to in all things give Him praise.

The book that Dr. Wray uses in class on spiritual disciplines is called: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (Practices that transform us) written by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, it lists dozens of spiritual disciplines, the book we are probably all more familiar with is Richard Foster's book on Spiritual Disciplines. Both are great, but Calhoun's is a more extensive list.


Holly said...

I just wanted to say thany you for this post.