Posts Categorized: Worship

Nine Forms of Fasting

Fasting – the most resented of all spiritual disciplines, but the one most likely to be embraced by Californians in search of their beach bodies – is more important in the Bible than we often acknowledge. If you haven’t heard you pastor preach on fasting, it’s probably because he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite. We ought to talk about, and think, and engage far more with fasting as a means of spiritual renewal and of seeking God’s face. Donald Whitney (in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life) lists no less than nine forms of fasting that he’s helpfully categorised for your condemnation conviction:

1. Normal fasts – abstaining from food, but not from water, for a set period of time. Think Jesus in the wilderness.

2. Partial fasts – limiting your diet to certain simple food groups. Think Daniel and his three friends.

3. Absolute fasts  not eating or drinking at all for a very limited time (e.g. 24 hours). Think Ezra, Esther, or Paul.

4. Supernatural fasts – not eating or drinking for a time, beyond what is naturally possible. Think Moses on Mount Sinai.

5. Private fasts – fasting while smiling and smelling good so that nobody notices. Think the teaching of Jesus.

6. Congregational fasts – fasting as God’s people together for a purpose. Think the call of Joel and the elders in Antioch.

7. National fasts – when a nation gets desperate for God’s help. Think Judah under Jehoshaphat.

8. Regular fasts – prescribed under the Old Testament law. Think Yom Kippur.

9. Occasional fasts – special needs call for special measures. Think the guests without the Bridegroom.

 

Worship and Evangelism are basically the same thing

Think of the last time you went to a really great restaurant. You might have praised the owner or the waiter who served you, telling them how amazing the food was. But after you left the restaurant you most likely told a friend that they just have to go try it.

Speaking to the owner or waiter was worship; speaking to your friend was evangelism. You may have said the exact same things, but your words were addressed to different audiences.

One of the reasons God saves you is “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2.9). In other words, he saved you in order to turn you into a proclaimer. And your proclamation is going to be pointed in two directions: it will be directed towards God as worship, and it will be directed towards others as evangelism.

I think evangelism can be made a lot more complicated than it needs to be. We make it hard by assuming that we have to have comprehensive knowledge of the Bible, training from experts, familiarity with apologetics and philosophy, and the ability to persuade people. All of these things can be useful, but it’s sad when Christians feel they can’t evangelise.

If you can talk about your favourite restaurant, film, city, beach, comedian, coffee, artist, shop, designer, actor, band, programming language or book, then you can evangelise. Worship is the outflow of enthusiastic and passionate admiration. But when you think of it, so is evangelism.

A little while ago my sister-in-law told me of a conversation she had with a guy at her church. He was pretty vocal about his favourite clubs and music, but he said that evangelism wasn’t his thing; he couldn’t tell people about Jesus. She told him that if he could enthuse about the things he loved, then he could tell people about Jesus.

When worship is the outflow of your heart because you really love Jesus, and you want to thank him for all he is and all he’s done for you, then evangelism need not be any more complicated or difficult than letting others overhear something of that passion. I once heard one of country’s foremost apologists, Amy Orr-Ewing, put it somewhat like this: “We just need to go and tell people how amazingly wonderful Jesus is. It’s as simple as that.”