Archives for the month of: March, 2015

What are you giving up for Lent? Whether you are a religious person or not, the practice of fasting can help you to become a healthier and happier you.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that may be practiced at any time and generally means abstaining from food or drink. It is especially associated with special religious observances.  Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, and Taoism all advocate some form of fasting—from short periods to days, and even an entire month.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (June 17-July 17, 2015), is observed by Muslims as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual intercourse. In some interpretations, Muslims also refrain from other behavior that could be perceived as sinful, such as swearing, engaging in disagreements, backbiting, and procrastination.

fasting 5

Christians observe Lent, forty days before Easter (February 18-April 4, 2015), and it is intended to assist in growing closer to God. The Upper Room says, “Some Christians use the whole forty days to fast from candy, TV, soft drinks, cigarettes, or meat as a way to purify their bodies and their lives.” It is suggested that one might give up one meal a day and use that time to pray instead.

Fasting

 

In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “If there is no element of asceticism in our lives, if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh (taking care of course to keep within the limits of what seems permissible to the world), we shall find it hard to train for the service of Christ.”

Researchers from the University of Florida did a three-year study that concluded that fasting caused the gene related to anti-aging in our cells to increase, which can lead to longevity. The study also indicated that fasting could strengthen the body’s natural preventive processes that protect against future diseases. (read a full report on the study at http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/03/09/fasting-diet-study-lent).

Fasting can, however, refer more broadly to “giving up” anything at any time. Ideas include giving up “some activity like worry or reality TV to spend time outside enjoying God’s creation.” The idea is to “fast” in order to focus on God.

FASTING 2 There are a lot of things that a person might “give up.” Things that clutter the calendar and complicate life. Resentment, anger, and bitterness are destructive emotions that are like cancer that eat away at a person from the inside. Why not give them up?

Pessimism and cynicism prevents one from seeing the bright and beautiful in every day life. Finding fault with others leads one to de-value the worth of persons and gets in the way of seeing the good that God has invested in every individual. Give them up.

Although you might have made mistakes, beating yourself up constantly does no good for you or anyone else. An adversarial posture as one’s usual attitude only works against you. Gossip and criticism may seem harmless but they can do serious damage. These attitudes and actions diminish yourself and others. Give them up.

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We are in the middle of the season of Lent but whether you “fast” from negative behaviors such as those mentioned above- and there are many others- for religious purposes or not, you will become a healthier and happier person when you give them up. After all that is God’s intentions for you (John 10:10).

 

Jamie Jenkins

 

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Live Life 3

Two news stories caught my attention recently. One item was in the entertainment section and the other was on the sports page. They were on the same day and at first glance had no similarities. But I saw a very important principle shared by each.

Judi Dench

The first story was an interview with Dame Judi Dench who is back on screen in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a sequel to the surprise hit of 2011-12.

Roger Moore, writing for the Tribune News Service said, Dench, like her character Evelyn, isn’t interested in retiring although she is 80 years old. She keeps working even as she suffers from age-related macular degeneration, making it impossible for her to read scripts (she has them read to her).

Dame Judi said, “I heard a lady, a doctor, on the BBC the other day, saying ‘I cannot WAIT to retire!’ She was something like 58. And I thought, ‘What IS she going to retire to do?’ I am very, very ANTI-retirement. What DO you do with your time? What do you do with somebody elderly in your family? What do you do if you ARE that elderly person? … Best to get on with something.”

She starts each day “with a little checklist, everything I want to do that day. And if I don’t finish it, I just carry it over to the next. It’s a way to keep looking forward.”

John Jenkins

The other story was about a professional basketball player, John Jenkins of the Atlanta Hawks. He is in his third year in the NBA and he is not one of the big name “star” players. It’s been a rough road for Jenkins. After missing much of last year with back trouble that eventually required surgery, he has been in just 12 games this season and played only nine minutes. It looks like he might be traded to another team

Opportunity has knocked only a few times for John Jenkins this season. Still, when called, the Hawks shooting guard has answered. The headline for the news story was “When Duty Calls, Jenkins Is Up For It.”

Kyle Korver, who is in his 12th NBA season said of Jenkins. “The way he approaches every single day — his habits, his work ethic, dedication — even though he hasn’t gotten the opportunity that he has been hoping for, he has been unbelievable to me in just how positive he has stayed and how he has kept on working.”

“You have to step up,” Jenkins said. “At least for me, that’s what I think when I go in there. I have to play as hard as I can.” Veteran player Elton Brand said, “He could complain but he doesn’t. He just plays his role.”

Eighty year-old actress Dame Judi Dench and John Jenkins, who will have his 24th birthday tomorrow, exhibit the same attitude. One of them is in the sunset years of life and the other is in the prime of life. But they both have a positive attitude about life and their career. They are talented in different ways and each one gives it their best every day.

Live Life 2

The Psalmist prayed, “Lord, teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” (Psalm 90:12, The Message). Dame Judi and John Jenkins are examples of people who are attempting to do that. Lord, help us all to do the same. Live well. Love a lot. Do our best. Fulfill the purpose God has for us.

Jamie Jenkins