Let’s begin Phase 4 discussion with some Scripture to reflect upon:
True and False Fasting
1“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
4Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
6“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Matt 25: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
- After reading Page 137 about going without knowing, what thoughts flood your mind? Are you currently being called to something? To continue something? What fears do you have? What pieces do you long to have before taking that first step? Which of those pieces are essential and which make you more comfortable?
- Page 139: Just do it. Just go. That’s it! So all that stuff from #1, yeah. Let it go. That’s what Jen experienced and is writing to us. On page 141, she writes, “…we like a plan, we like assurances. But the ways of faith exist so far outside of our tidy boundaries, it is a wonder we can ever receive its mysteries at all…”When the ‘how’ eclipses the ‘why’ too soon, we create a positional shift to defend and execute rather than listen and receive.” So, where do we go from here?
- The quote Jen Hatmaker shares on page 147 speaks so deeply. Though the quote is pre-1860, it is quite relevant today.
There are hot controversies about the true Church. What constitutes it, what is essential to it? …Does a church preach the gospel to the poor—preach it effectively? Does it convert and sanctify the people? …If not, we need not take the trouble of asking any more questions about it. It has missed the main matter…
Friends of Jesus…the Gospel is committed to your trust. …You are to dig for rough diamonds amid the ruins of fallen humanity, and polish them for your Redeemer. The church edifice is your workshop. Do not, we beseech you, convert it into a show room, to display, not the graces of Christians, but the vain fashions of the world.
From this quote, what hits you, stands out to you? Any concerns, thoughts, ideas?
- The series of provisions Jen cites on pages 148-149 blow my mind. Have you ever experienced the puzzle pieces falling into place after taking that first step in faith? Or reflecting back and seeing how God had already set everything in motion before you even took the first step? Feel free to share your thoughts.
- Page 150: “What we need more than denominational or invented boundaries is a commitment to do the work of Christ together…” In the words of Jen Hatmaker, we need to be cross-denominational. What does this phrase mean to you?
- “…A church planter without a committed team of laborers is doomed.” (page 152) Why do you think this is true?
- Ignorance is not bliss: I love her quote on page 157: “The only thing worse than being ignorant is being ignorant of our own ignorance when we don’t even know what we don’t know.” For the Church in America, this is too true. As people of Faith, how might falling into this trap impact our witness?
- The next two sections go together so well. Modern vs. Post-Modern worldviews was so eye-opening to me! As I read through A Modern Mess, I kept seeing so much of our struggle today, and thinking there is something more. Then I read Turn and Face the Strange Ch-Ch-Changes. Yep! There is more!
- How has the modernist worldview impacted our decisions as individuals and as Christians?
- How have these views changed?
- Post-Modern views Truth as subjective. What are your thoughts?
- The post-modern world seeks authenticity…in relationships, in leadership…To be authentic sometimes means being vulnerable. Are we willing to be vulnerable?
- Page 171: “The gospel remains the same, but the presentation changes.” Thoughts?
- On page 174, the list of post-modern ideas seem to line up with the teachings of Christ. In spite of that, many people have turned away from the church. Why?
- What does discipleship mean to you? (For Jen’s definition, read page 175)
- “This is about the bride of Christ. Church simply provides a nice context for us to live on mission together. It’s not about your church and how it is thrilling or failing you. Rather, what kind of bride are you helping to prepare? With the glorious addition of you and your gifts, is she becoming radiant?” This is our challenge: how can we honor God and shine His light through the gifts and talents He has given to us?
- “Believer, your life is too essential to waste on pettiness or word wars, greed or ladder climbing, anger or bitterness, fear or anxiety, regret or disappointment. Life is too short. We must run, not walk, the way of Isaiah 58, embracing authentic faith manifested through mercy and community…What would happen…? Our light would rise in the darkness, indeed.” (page 182) How do these words and the words of Isaiah 58 impact you?
Next up: Phase 5. Ready? Not sure I am! Jen’s writing is certainly beating me up! Let us be sanctified and purified by the Spirit!