What is it like to fast from food for a meal, for a few meals, for a few days? What’s the purpose of fasting? What are people supposed to accomplish through this ancient practice of spiritual growth? Some people skip a meal in the week because they are too busy to eat. Some skip a meal because they’re trying to lose weight. Some skip meals because of lack of income, or lack of convenience, but skipping a meal on purpose for the sake of godliness is an entirely different reason. Join us this week as we look at the benefits of fasting in order to grow your faith.
Category Archives: Sabbath Rest
Please pray for our little town of Windsor, Colorado. We are a grieving community, and the best thing for us is prayer, and normalcy.
I’m a pastor of an Evangelical Covenant Church in Greeley, CO, but we live in Windsor. My daughter is a junior in high school and has seen too much pain in the past month for anyone to suffer. Today I received a phone call from my daughter that there was an entire school lock down in session. Usually this is a drill, “but today, dad, they didn’t say it was a drill. The lady on the speakers just said, ‘everyone get into your classrooms and close all doors.'”
About 45 minutes later my daughter calls me again and she’s crying so hard that I can’t understand her plea. “Dad, he’s gone, Jack is dead. He took his own life behind the school and I don’t know what to do.” What am I supposed to say? “Honey, I don’t know what’s happening, but are you safe?” “Yes, daddy, I’m safe and I’m ok.”
We met for lunch and then went back to the school to see what we could do to pray or listen to kids who were grieving. We entered the library as the building was in trauma crisis reaction. Police, firefighters, EMT and counselors are on hand to speak with those in need and handle the situation at hand. I saw many of my pastoral faith community leaders there to counsel with kids. My daughter embraced her friends and wept with many.
One question that we heard over and over again, “Why are so many bad things happening?” We don’t have the answers to the question why. This month there was a drunk driving collision where a student lost his life, and another situation in a local school of another suicide, a mom died of cancer and loss is rearing it’s ugly head.
A counselor told me once that we all want to know answers to the question why, but maybe the important question at this time is “what can we do now”?
How does our faith shine through when the world seems dark? Where do we gather strength for tomorrow when we need to face our pain and go back to school, back to work and back into the pulpit?
After dinner tonight, I sat with the Bible, longing for Jesus to speak to me and give me another sense of His sure foundation and faith for my life. I searched the Psalms and the Lord spoke through Psalms 94.
16 Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
17 Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation (oh Lord) brought me joy. The Lord longs to bring you consolation dear one. The Lord is the consolation for our grief and pain and sorrow.
I don’t know the journey you are walking this season. I do know the pain my family is suffering with all this loss around us. The one who knows pain more than we do, is our Lord God. He knows first hand what it is like to lose his son. He knows grief and loss and sorrow. Come to the Heavenly Father in your time of great need and he will console you today.
Please pray for our little community of Windsor, CO tonight. We are grieving and hurting and low. Somehow we will walk through this to see another day, but for now, our hearts are heavy and sad. There have been too many funerals for high school kids to attend.
We found out something new on our church mission to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua this past week. Not all success is equal to productivity.
You see, we Americans, have a twisted view of success. Success in our country means productivity, bigger buildings, more people in attendance, greater resourcing, greater access to better “things”, so that life will be easier to live. This couldn’t be further from the term success in other countries; at least spiritually speaking.
We went on our first church mission with Crossroads Church of Greeley. At least, it was the first mission our church has done in 5 years, since I have been the lead pastor. I grew up on the mission field as my father was an aviation pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship, and my mother was a public school teacher. I received Jesus Christ into my life when I was 5 years old, while my family lived in Nate Saint’s home in Shell, Ecuador back in the 1970’s. I have missions in my blood, some would say. Our Crossroads Church wanted to serve on mission this year, so we partnered with the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination and Merge Ministries to travel to Nicaragua. We have missionaries on the ground in San Juan del Sur, Esau & Heather Vega, who are serving in this community where Esau was born and raised. They are serving in a church community and surf community with Christian Surfers. Esau was a sponsored pro surfer with Bilabong years ago, and decided to end his sponsorship to work with surfers from his home town who didn’t know Jesus. Now he is forming Christian community with them and teaching them to live the Christian lifestyle while influencing the surfing community.
One day on our mission we partnered with Alpha y Omega Church, where the Vega’s serve. Our team was assigned to help with the construction of a new Christian School addition to the church building. Our men took on the task of chipping away at the cinderblock walls to install electrical conduit for the rooms, which would hold electricity and lighting. One of our guys, Ryan, didn’t feel especially productive that day. That evening when sharing a debrief as a team, Ryan said, “I wished I were more productive, because as a drywall installer back in the US I can get a lot done in a day. I didn’t do much of anything today.” And before he could take another breath, or before another team member could chime in to console his comment, Ryan finished with, “But I don’t feel like productivity is the goal of success in this country.” He was finding his success in the relational building time along side the locals who were patient enough to let us gringos tag along for a week.
Another day on the trip, we took some leaders with us to a nearby community, almost 30 kilometers away, where some 2,000 people live in the jungle. They ride on dirt roads, which are washed out with mud from nearly 6 months of monsoon rainy season. We approached a building that looked like nothing more than a lean-to shack. The four of us got out of the truck, walked through the mud to the log-stairs pounded into a hillside and up to a metal gate secured by a barbed-wire twist around the head post. My heart was full. I heard that 50 some people have been meeting in this church plant for almost 20 years now and they’d like to grow. They’d like to reach more people in their community.
We walked around the site and talked about productivity vs. success. You see, in our mind’s eye, people from the US think that success equals productivity. The first thing out of the mouths of us from Colorado was, “Hey, this is great, we could come back and build some cement stairs, secure a better gate, bring in a dozer and level the ground for a cement floor and make a better building…” We went on and on about how “we could do things better” and make this a great church for the local here.
In a single breath, Esau said, “The people here don’t want that. They don’t want your North American style, they want relationships.”
He continued, “Do you know that this church has been here for 20 years? When I was 11 years old, I dug some of the first trenches to make a foundation. These people don’t want better stairs, it rains too much. They don’t want better stuff, or nicer things, they might get stolen. The people here want to know that you love them, and want to know that you pray for them, and encourage them in their way of life here.”
I asked if we could pray together for the church. When we grabbed the metal gate for a door, I held onto the lock… and began to weep. I felt the Spirit of God move in my soul. I couldn’t stop crying, for about 2 minutes, I didn’t have words. I just cried.
My tears weren’t for the people in this poor an impoverished area. My tears weren’t for their “plight”, as I saw it.
My tears were from the heart of God, reminding me that I have the wrong focus on mission. I have a mindset of productivity to equal success, not relational encouragement to bless another. I had tears because God was convicting me of my inner drive as a resident of the US to be productive and successful, which isn’t the heart of God.
Acts 2:42ff reads …. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
I get too caught up on the end of vs. 47, where the Lord was adding to their number daily those who were being saved. I think about numbers, and success, productivity and product. Discipleship, for me, means more people doing more things for God. What a mistake. Sure, God wants His Kingdom to grow, and people need to share the Love of God with the world so they might come to know Jesus and have the Holy Spirit. I don’t discount that for a second. But I think we evangelicals have a lot to learn when it comes to sitting down for a while and just being with people, just resting in the loving Grace of God, just blessing others, and being an encouragement in prayer.
We all walk this path together, don’t miss the success of relationships because we put productivity first. Let’s learn to be people who love people, not strive after things & stuff. I’d like to invite you to pray this prayer:
“Father, forgive me for trying to do more things for you. Forgive me for my need for productivity and success. Remind me to honor the work you have done in the millennia before me and for the centuries to come. Teach me to be still and know that you are God. Teach me to love people and not things. I want to be successful in loving God and loving your people, not successful by being productive.” Amen
Elisha comes to the rescue again for a man in debt. One man from the school of prophets lost a borrowed axe in the Jordan River. Crying out to Elisha, he asks for help and finally received his edge back. How goes your walk with God? How do you draw back to God when you feel distant from Him? What habits do you practice to keep your spiritual edge? Join us to hear the SLOW method of faith.
My dad, Dave Olson, endured a 7 hr double hernia surgery today. During post-op his lung collapsed and he was intubated and they inserted a chest tube to inflate the lung.
If you’re the praying kind with a even a little bit of faith (anything will do), would you kindly say a prayer for my dad’s health?
Psalm 23 reminds us, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you, God, are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
As you pray for my parents may you receive God’s blessing in full measure too. Thank you.
We decided to turn a 6 hour loop hike through lower and upper Red Cave slot canyon based on the East side of Zion National Park into a precarious 13 hour day of survival. PHOTOS of the hike (click here)
Beginning the day with our Camelbak water bottles full of 3 liters each and a few granola bars, we ventured from the Stone Church parking lot on hwy 89, across the road, through a personal property gate and across the creek. We traversed the sand filled wash for about 3 miles slogging our way toward the slot canyon opening like Indiana Jones.
Entering the natural gate of the slot was like walking into a clip from the movie fraught with cooler temps, less sand, and a firm foundation of slick rock to brace our sore feet upon. We ascended a 10 ft overhang with the help of a former climbers gifted rope. Once on the precarious ledge of the 10 footer, we needed to don the rock climbing harnesses and gear up for the 20 foot climb up to the next walk through.
With thoughts of the film 127 Hours, we all made our way through the slot until the opening came out into the sunlight again like the mouth of the wash should. By this time in the day, many of us had sucked out last few drops of water from our camelbak packs and downed our energy juice gummies. We were exposed to the 104 degrees of direct sun and actually still enjoying the adventure.
By the time we were to make connection to the loop ‘out’, which we missed altogether, we began to sense a bit of concern. Our map wasn’t easy to follow as the indications of markers were not clear, nor was the route marked for easy following. We knew it was getting bad when some of our more athletic crew began cramping for lack of water and carbs.
We doubled back a couple times looking for the loop wash out connection, to no avail.
We decided to hunker down and traverse the ridge to the North in hopes of finding our passage. This effort did nothing but make the troops more tired, thirsty and definitely more crampy. Thank you Vern for catching much of this on your GoPro video cam. I can’t wait to see the footage.
We made a democratic decision, or was it mutiny of the leadership?, I don’t recall… but all of the sudden we found ourselves descending the mountain to some local 4 wheeler tracks that were discovered in the canyon. We walked along an edge of the slots that seemed to drop 50 feet to our doom, but no one slipped, save for some precarious and loose footed slot rocks along the way.
Once we dropped down the canyon to the slot canyon opening, we found our venture at an end, for the moment. Brett and I came upon the drop down repel of 2 15 foot drops that was sure to be our undoing. We were all sapped of energy for loss of water completely, no more gummies to chew and hardly an encouraging word in the bunch. Steve secured his rope, dropped down into the first 15 foot drop and quickly slipped safely over the second drop with a shout, “yep, we’re going to have to rope up for the repel in.”
Vern went quickly to action, secured an anchor for the rest of us to drop in. Some slipped causing rope burns on all 8 digits and others were lowered down completely as cramping had nearly frozen our quads and calf muscles. Todd and I were down and heard a shout from the top, “You guys go out of the slot and get help. We’ll make our way out slowly.”
Todd and I felt the urge for a swift rescue, but the feeling soon turned into a desperate need to just get to some civilization and seek help. After clearing the closure of the slots, we slogged through 2 miles of sand filled wash and never came upon a drop of natural water, save for the puddle of stagnant liquid of some sort that neither of us wanted to even stain our shoes with.
We made out of the wash together based on Todd’s conversation, which kept my feet clomping one heel following the other. I wouldn’t have made it without you Todd. We got to the turn in the wash that was a road through a trailer park ridden plot of land near a couple acres of farm land. We felt the rush of adrenaline walking through the RV graveyard and heard the music faintly in the background from local traffic on the highway harmonizing with flying vultures overhead. It was creepy, but we pressed on.
After knocking on doors near the window a/c units humming loudly over our cries for help. Nothing. No response. We walked on… through the creek to the highway. Todd and I found ourselves thumbing for a ride on the highway toward the Stone Church where our truck and van were parked. Why won’t anyone pick us up? What’s wrong with this picture? Is this how hitch-hikers feel? I hate this.
Out of nowhere a little red Geo Metro made her way to the side of the road, Linda picked up Todd and I while asking her 8 year old daughter Ellen to move over in the back seat, “You don’t look like the normal riff-raff hitching on the side of the road in Utah. What’s up?” We were so grateful to get a ride, I almost began to cry in the back seat. “Looks like you two could use some water, what’s up?” After telling her our story and getting a ride to the local gas station on the corner, we filled our camelbaks with water, bought 3 gallons of fresh, picked up some Gatorade, Snicker bars and some bananas, Linda gave us a ride to Paulie’s truck.
We picked up a few of the boys who had made it through the trailer park on their own and tossed them a couple Gatorades of their own. I’ve never seen grown men so grateful for something to drink. Todd and I took the truck through the wash back into the canyon to find the other guys, but must have missed them. We hiked to the drop where the repel ended, but found no one. They were able to scramble to the road where the van was and met us at the opening of the gate when we came out.
What an adventure, what a day. I don’t recall that this 13 hour day was part of the plan for the weekend, but I do recall Steve telling us that we were in for some good adventures and making of memories.
One thing I know for sure, life is an adventure and I’m all in. Thank God that we’re all safe to tell this story to our children and anyone who might listen. I guess I’ll never forget what the lady told me upon our exit from the adventure, one who lives there said, “Oh, well we have lived here for 25 years, and everyone knows that when you adventure back into those parts of the canyon, you always have to plan 5 more hours than you think.” Hmmm, well now we know. May you come to find joy in your great adventures with God as well, and remember… never tackle life alone… we are all in this together, one way or another.