LENT 2021 – the Final week

Fasting during Lent was a ‘development’ in the early centuries of the Church. The initial pre-Easter/Passover (Pascha) fast was at minimum from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and in other places the entire week before Easter. The extension to the 40 day fast that has become known as Lent was a later development – most likely a “one-upmanship” where different regions tried to outdo one another in the rigor and length of their fasting.

Another ‘development’ is that Lent ceased to be real fasting and became something of a modified diet (giving up meat or sweets) and usually not carrying over into the following day – in other words, people would break whatever fast they were doing in the late afternoon/evening.

But this is NOT what the pre-Easter/Passover fast was in the beginning and I believe we need to recover its initial rigor, intent as a real fast. As a genuine Apostolic tradition that was modeled and given by the Apostles themselves.

Jesus said that…”The time will come when the bridegroom [Jesus] will be taken from them; then they [His disciples] will fast” (Matt 9:15)

It was the universal belief and practice of the early Church that fasting BEFORE Easter/Passover [Pascha – Gk] was part of the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Matthew. They WILL fast.

As we are now in Holy Week, let us “fast and pray” – let us finish the race well.

…for such a time as this!

LENT 2021 – Faith vs. Presumption when it comes to our health

Back in 2015, God woke me up to many things regarding lifestyle and diet. I believe He did so to spare me years of chronic health problems that would surely have developed in the years following had they not been addressed.

Little did I know that fast forward 6 years and we would be in the midst of a global pandemic that would have the world gripped by fear, a fear that is almost entirely unwarranted. The overall mortality rate of COVID-19 is 0.27%. That means that 99.73% of the people who get it will survive.

What has been as tragic as the hyped fear over the virus is that almost no one has talked about how healthy people, who exercise regularly and who are not overweight have almost no risk whatsoever of dying from COVID. But has this point been trumpeted? Are people keenly aware of how their diets, how their fitness level, and how their Body Fat % all contribute to their health – especially in regards to contracting and recovering from viruses?

Sadly, most have done very little to change their lifestyles. Truth be told, for many the months of Covid has actually meant that people have gained massive amounts of weight, have not exercised like they did before (sometimes because their gyms closed down), and have due to isolating themselves and the wearing of masks, have actually hurt their immune systems.

So now we have a potentially serious problem with the release of the so-called “vaccines” (I say “so-called” because they are not actually vaccines but better described as experimental gene therapies). And with each passing day, more and more reports are coming in from all over the world about the adverse side effects of people who have taken the vaccine, unexplained deaths in the wake of being injected, and concerns by leading virologists as to the potentially catastrophic dangers that lie ahead for those who have been “vaccinated” due to a phenomenon known as “Immune Escape”. I’ve included a link below wherein Dr. Geert Bossche, a leading virologist (and NOT an ‘anti-vaxxer’), describes “Immune Escape”.

We don’t know the future, but many doctors have serious concerns about future variants of the virus that could be far more lethal than the current one that only has a death rate of less than 1/3rd of one percent!

So why the title of this blog post? Faith vs. Presumption? I believe that many Christians have not heeded the sound advice and counsel since Covid emerged last year to change their diets and get metabolically healthy. They have not addressed their obesity issues by getting their Body Fat percentages into healthy ranges.

But if more serious viruses are coming and if the vaccines are going to be largely ineffective, doesn’t it make sense for Christians to take their health and fitness more seriously than they ever have before in their lives? Wouldn’t wisdom dictate such an approach?

Some will say, “God will protect me”, and sadly that will be presumption and not faith. We don’t NOT wear seat belts in the car saying, “God will protect me”. We are called to be prepared. To be wise. And all conventional wisdom demands that people prepare for what lies ahead.

I was given a blueprint in 2015 – a plan from the Lord to change my diet, to become far more serious about my overall fitness, and then it became part of my “message” to others.

Some have heeded my cry…others have ignored it and said, “This is his latest cause” and have largely dismissed it.

But with a sense of sobriety and urgency that I may have never had regarding the critical importance of addressing these lifestyle issues, I would plead with people to declare war on their unhealthy lifestyles, their lack of basic fitness, and their obesity. These will radically impact your ability to fight off and/or recover from any future more dangerous Covid variants and/or any other viruses.

Don’t in the name of “faith” make presumptions that God will simply protect you regardless of what you do. That isn’t the way God governs the universe and the affairs of humankind. He leaves far more up to us than we can imagine. That means that many do not ‘fulfill their days’ and reach their God-intended lifespans.

We are commanded to walk by faith and not in presumption.

For such a time as this…

LENT 2021 – Disciplining our Bodies (1 Cor 9:27)

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 

v. 24 – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 

v. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 

v. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 

v. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

A famous passage by the Apostle Paul and a relevant one for our season of fasting. Fasting is a disciplining of our bodies as the Apostle describes. It is a “running of a race”. It is exercising “self-control in all things”. It is the “discipline of our bodies”. It is the “keeping it [our body] under control”.

v. 27 is particularly strong in the Greek, literally Paul writes – “I pummel my body and make it a slave” – if that can’t be applied directly to fasting, I don’t know what can!

Of course Paul applies this passage to the preaching of the Gospel, to being faithful in the ministry God had called him to. We can and should apply this passage in the same way as well. But we can also extend the application to each and every area of the Christian life. The analogy of sports and athletics is used in Scripture on a number of occasions to inspire us in our faith. The same principles apply.

Daily training, rigorous training, discipled lifestyles – all these things are needed for athletes to succeed. And similarly, all of these are needed for us to be spiritually successful, to achieve in our lives the callings and destinies that God has purposed for us.

As we fast and pray today, may we enter into the same mind and spirit that the Apostle Paul describes in this passage.

LENT 2021 – St. Patrick’s Day #2 – Who was the REAL St. Patrick?

WHO WAS THE “REAL” ST. PATRICK?

Most people are unaware of the incredible life and legacy of Saint Patrick. The following summary is taken from two books about Patrick’s life and ministry – one is a biography entitled Let Me Die in Ireland, by David Bercot (Scroll Publishing) and the other, The Celtic Way of Evangelism – How Christianity Can Reach the West Again” (George G. Hunter III, Abingdon Press, 2000). Many Christians today “claim” Patrick as their own – most are surprised that he doesn’t really fit any modern labels that we might try to put on him or the movement he birthed.

Patrick was NOT a Roman Catholic (and neither was he a modern-day Protestant Evangelical and/or Charismatic!), but rather a British Roman citizen born in the late 4th century (AD386) on the West Coast of Britain. He was a part of the independent British or Celtic Church which did not come under Roman control until the 6-8th centuries. His father was an ordained Deacon and his grandfather had been an ordained Presbyter, but Patrick as a young man didn’t show a tremendous amount of interest in the things of the Lord.

God had a radical way of getting this boy’s attention. As a 16-year-old, he was captured by Irish raiders who took him back to Ireland where he was a slave for six years. It was during this “captivity” that Patrick really came into a relationship with the Lord. His role was to shepherd flocks and he became a man of prayer. In his own words, 

“After I had arrived in Ireland, I found myself pasturing flocks daily, and I prayed a number of times each day. More and more the love and fear of God came to me, and faith grew and my spirit was exercised until I was praying up to a hundred times every day and in the night nearly as often”.

He learned the Gaelic language (the language of the Irish people) fluently and developed a heart for the very people that enslaved him. After 6 years, God miraculously enabled him to escape. The Lord spoke to him in a dream – “You are going home. Look! Your ship is ready”. The following morning the Lord led him to the coast where he found a ship and sailed away from Ireland. Upon being reunited with his family in Britain, he never intended to set foot in Ireland again.

God spoke to Patrick in a dream to return to Ireland to bring the Pagan Irish the Gospel. In the dream, an Angel gave him letters from his former captors asking him to return and he then heard the Irish calling out to him, “Please, holy servant boy, come and walk among us again”. It was God who called Patrick to take the Gospel to the Irish, not the Pope of Rome as some have mistakenly taught. He was ultimately sent out by the independent British/Celtic Church as a pioneer missionary to Ireland. Interestingly, the Bishop of Rome had sent a missionary to Ireland about the same time, who lasted about one year before returning.

At the time Patrick was sent to Ireland, in 432AD, he was a Bishop of over 40 years of age. He took with him several younger ordained presbyters, who he had taught Gaelic in Britain. In the face of great danger, and unbelievable hardship, this band of missionaries began to bring the Gospel to the pagan Druid Irish and God powerfully blessed their work. In 28 years of ministry which history records were full of Biblical signs and wonders, 30 to 40 of Ireland’s 150 tribes were Christian, between 200 to 700 churches had been planted and over 1000 local Irish leaders had been ordained. Truly their ministry was both the WORD (preaching); the SPIRIT (signs, wonders and miracles).

The Irish Church became a major missionary Church (arguably the greatest in Church History) in the following few centuries, taking the Gospel to other pagan peoples in Scotland and even Northern Europe.

Patrick was a man of prayer and fasting. He was a man who lived like Christ – he never married, he forfeited his worldly inheritance (he was from a wealthy British family) and suffered great hardship for the sake of the Gospel.

Patrick’s vision to reach the Pagan Irish was resisted by his own British Church – it was considered too dangerous, an impossible task and it would be an understatement to say that the “civilized” (Romanized) British Christians weren’t racist towards the “barbaric” Pagan Irish. When the Church today considers the task of evangelizing the Muslim World or other places full of hostility and conflict, let us remember the fearless commitment of these 5th-century Apostolic teams who literally won an entire nation who the Church in their day didn’t love and considered unreachable.

On a day when people are caught up in all sorts of twisted St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, may we be reminded of the real man behind the ‘myth’. May it open doors with others who most likely don’t know anything beyond leprechauns, 4-leafed clovers and pinching people who aren’t wearing gree

Let his final words recorded in his Confessions humble us today as we remember him: 

“But I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever has designed to scan or accept this document, composed in Ireland by Patrick the sinner, and unlearned man to be sure, that none should ever say that it was my ignorance that accomplished any small thing which I did or showed in accordance with God’s will; but judge ye, and let it be most truly believed, that it was the gift of God.  And this is my confession before I die.”

LENT 2021 – St. Patrick’s Day #1 – The Breastplate of St. Patrick

THE BREASTPLATE OF ST. PATRICK (AD433)

I ARISE TODAY 

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I ARISE TODAY

Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I ARISE TODAY

Through the strength of the love of cherubim,

In the obedience of angels, In the service of archangels,

In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In the prayers of patriarchs, In the predictions of prophets,

In the preaching of apostles, In the faith of confessors,

In the innocence of holy virgins, In the deeds of righteous men.

I ARISE TODAY

through The strength of heaven, The light of the sun, The radiance of the moon,

The splendor of fire, The speed of lightning, The swiftness of wind,

The depth of the sea, The stability of the earth, The firmness of rock.

I ARISE TODAY

through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me, God’s shield to protect me,

God’s angelic armies to save me from snares of devils, From temptation of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.

I SUMMON TODAY

All these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets, Against black laws of paganism,

Against false laws of heretics, Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;

Christ to shield me TODAY

Against poison, Against burning, Against drowning, Against wounding,

So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I ARISE TODAY

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

LENT 2021 – Fasting & “BELIEVING EVERYTHING”

This morning while reading in Acts 24, a verse was highlighted.

Acts 24:14 – But this I [Paul] confess to you, that according to the Way [what Christians were being called], which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets (ESV)

A couple of other translations put it this way…I believe everything…believing all things

Several years ago now the Lord impressed upon me the importance of reading/studying the Word of God, including all of the Old Testament systematically. So many have slipped into error and even apostasy by being “selective”, by “cherry-picking” the passages that they like or that emphasize the doctrines they like.

Paul believed EVERYTHING that came in God’s Word – that came in the Law and the Prophets!

​In 2021, as we continue on in a season of prayer and fasting – I am choosing to believe that God is going to bring justice to America and to the nations of the world at this time.

Ezekiel 12:22 speaks about a proverb that was popular amongst God’s people at that time that mocked the prophetic words that prophets had spoken for not coming to pass.

But the Lord responds in v. 25…”For I am the Lord; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord God.” And then reaffirms Himself in v. 28 – “None of my words will be delayed any longer”

We are living in a time where we could say the same proverb is being believed. Many now think that prophetic words that the Lord spoke clearly and to many prophetic people have not come to pass.

I am fasting and praying believing Ezekiel 12:25 and 12:28 – that these and many other prophetic words “will no longer be delayed” but that the time of their fulfillment is upon us!

Let us agree together. Let God’s Kingdom come…Let His will be done…ON EARTH (in the the nations) AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

LENT 2021 – Fasting for DISCERNMENT

I cannot think of something that Christians need more in this hour than discernment! Who do we listen to? Who can we trust? So many different voices urging us in different directions!

I am praying and fasting THIS LENT to be like one of the “sons of Issachar”

1 Chronicles 12:32 – From the sons of Issachar, men who understood (had understanding) the times, with knowledge of (who KNEW) what Israel should do (LXX – “having wisdom with regard to the times”)

These men had discernment as to the nature of the times in which they were living and due to that they knew what God’s people should do.

The Apostle Paul excepted that Christians would move in discernment. He expected them to not be “uninformed” about these gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11

1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed/ignorant

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common goodTo one there is given through the Spirit a message (word) of wisdom, to another a message (word) of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecyto another distinguishing between (discerning of) spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

I have highlighted those that are revelatory in nature. Those that would enhance our level of discernment.

Several of these gifts are given so that we would know and understand, that we would have God’s wisdom in our lives.

May we be fasting and praying to be like the sons of Issachar in these days where there truly is a “famine of discernment” and to function in the gifts that Paul taught us were available to the Church.

LENT 2021 – Fasting for VISION

One of the most famous verses in the Bible is “where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

I believe this is true at so many different levels. Other translations render this verse differently, but they all affirm the same truth. We were meant to live with vision – not just any vision, but a GOD-GIVEN VISION. The verse is misunderstood by many who don’t realize the verse is about prophetic revelation – that is the meaning of the Hebrew word for ‘vision’.

God desires to speak to His children. He wants us to seek His face and expect that we will ‘hear from heaven’. We were never intended to live our lives apart from such inspiration.

Fasting is time when we seek more of God’s face, when we seek Him for clarity in vision. Sometime we need a fresh, new vision for our lives. At other times, we need a re-affirmation of what God has already inspired us to do.

But this morning while we were praying, it was clear that there is a famine of vision amongst many in these days. The ongoing uncertainty and instability due to Covid has robbed many of their vision.

What a time for us to be seeking God to inspire us afresh! What a time to be expectant that the God who speaks will speak to us!

Fast and pray during this Lent for God to release a level of vision that is unprecedented in your life.