Monday, January 29, 2007

Tuesday morning evangelistic smack-down, #18

Some good articles for you to check out from the Lausanners:
  • In successive eras, Bible translation has been at the heart of the communication of the Christian message. Societal changes and upheavals have not stopped this; indeed, at times they have only accelerated the process. (Read Article)
  • The goal of the twenty-five leading Bible agencies which are part of the Forum for Bible Agencies International is working together to maximize worldwide access and impact of God's Word. (Read Article)
  • Bible translation does not take place in a vacuum. Not only are there societal factors to consider, there are also developments in biblical studies, linguistics and the social sciences. (Read Article)
  • To plant or grow a church congregation, two basic things must repeatedly occur: people must come to know Jesus and they must become members of his body. Read the perspective of the Bible League's Ronald Vander Griend on the relationship between the Bible and church growth. (Read Article)


Fasting. I have taken a new interest in fasting. In the New Testament Jesus instructs his disciples that “When they fast…” Not “if.” But also interesting in the Acts is this passage:

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
"Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
(Acts 13:2-3)

One has to wonder that if we were more intense at the point of fasting (integrating worshipping and praying, of course) that we might be a more missional, evangelistic, sending church.

When in Nigeria I asked if they fasted. They were stunned that I even asked. Of course! It is an answer that you can hardly imagine the average believer in the West to emulate.


Quotables: Wesleyan preacher William Bramwell wrote in 1809 that the reason many do not live in the power of their salvation is because ‘there is too much sleep, too much meat and drink, too little fasting and self-denial, too much taking part in the world ... and too little self-examination and prayer.’

When we finish a fast, we cool into tempered Christians strong with self-control. The dross and cinders of our lustful cravings are skimmed off. Fasting produces a work of art - the tempered, selfless Christian - that can be created through no other process of refinement. [Lee Bueno]

Humility and self-denial are two sides of the same coin. Jesus’ greatest calling for us to deny ourselves came when He stated, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me’ (Matt. 16:24). By fasting as unto the Lord we answer His call to deny ourselves for the sake of the cross. [Lee Bueno]

"Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and let the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice. Let t feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at what is sinful...Let the ear not listening to evil talk or gossip...Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from meat and fish, but bite and devour our brothers?" (St. John the Chrysostom)

"The sisters of fasting are five: 1) prayer, 2) charity, 3) humility, 4) abstinence, 5) love. Fasting without prayer is simply a medical diet, a healthy diet, a change of eating habits. Fasting without charity is selfishness and co-worker with.... greed. Fasting without humility is food for the monster of vanity. Fasting without abstinence is simply mockery. Fasting without love can become cannibalism!" (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of


Rainer: The book Effective Evangelistic Churches is the product of a survey of 576 fruitful soul-winning churches. Author Thom Rainer observes that intercessory prayer and fasting is a crucial component:

Fasting has often been a key factor not only in focusing the people but also in bringing about spiritual power. One pastor wrote, “I pray and fast one day a week. Though I do not advertise it, the church has become aware of it and many have followed my example” (Rainer, p. 75). Of those responding to the survey were “many testimonies from church leaders about the miraculous work of God after a new corporate prayer emphasis was begun, or after the leadership of the church called the people to an extended lime of prayer and fasting. Not only did numerical and evangelistic growth result, but new ministries often began as well” (Rainer, p. 152).

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At 11:32 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Stumbled on your post about fasting. I delivered a message last Sunday on the subject from the text in Matthew 6:16-18. I came up with 4 reasons people neglect it are due to misunderstandings about the discipline.
One: Fasting Elevates You Above Others
Matthew 6:16 Jesus points out that even hypocrites may practice fasting.
It doesn’t make one superior to another.
Isaiah 58:3-4 tells God disregarded the people’s fast because people did as they pleased, exploited others and quarreled.

Two: Fasting Will Make You Act Weird
Some people avoid fasting because they meet some fanatical zealot who does it and they fear that they will become the same.
Matthew 6:17-18 Jesus stressed to his own that when they fast, He expected them to act as natural about it as possible. Wash up. Don’t walk around all sad haggard in appearance. The Christian fast should appear as normal as possible.

Three: Fasting Helps God Know You Mean Business
Truth is, God doesn’t need our help knowing anything. He knows our hearts already.
Fasting is not for God’s benefit but for ours.
Too bad that some see it as some kind of hunger strike with God until we get our way. God doesn’t work that way.
Fasting should not be viewed as some leveraging tool against the Holy.

Four: Fasting Is All About Misery
Too often people focus on what they give up when they fast.
Yet notice (6:18) Jesus did not stress the deprivation side but instead the reward side of fasting.
John Maxwell says, “You got to give up to go up.”
Rewards for fasting include: Better self-control, God-centeredness, Elevated spiritual awareness.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

How about this for an excuse - "Fasting makes you hungry." And...Americans were not created to be, you know, hungry.


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