Tag Archives: Jews

Advent & Looking to Mary.

Today marks the beginning of Advent.

Like other Jews, Mary (mother of Jesus) longed for the fulfillment of the prophecies promising a Savior to Israel. (Never could she have imagined, even in her wildest dreams, that she would be the one to bring Him into the world!) In my life, I’m (still) waiting for the fulfillment of so many of God’s promises to me.

As I go about Advent, I am going to look at Mary and the hope of her Son. No matter how painful the waiting (for all kinds of fulfillment), I want to be strong as Mary was. I want to trust His promises to me. I want to grasp onto His faithfulness, to trust, even when there is no hope within my line of sight.

I want to say “yes” as Mary did, and not to count the cost. Her cost for saying “yes” to conceiving the Savior could have meant death for her. I don’t know if the cost for me will ever mean physical death (as a martyr), but it does mean dying to myself and my own plans every day.

I want to say “yes” and not question why He asks a certain experience of me. Mary didn’t question why she specifically was being asked to carry out the magnificent task of carrying the Son of God within her womb and mothering Him. She simply said: I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) I have many questions about why I am asked to carry certain things. Why am I entrusted with this or that? Yet, His plan is sovereign and wise. I want Mary’s courage to simply say “yes,” only looking forward and keeping my eyes on Him.

I can’t imagine the temptation to impatience there was for Mary during her pregnancy. Can you imagine being told by an angel that you would conceive in a supernatural way…And not only that, but that the child would be the Savior of all humanity! Mary protected Jesus in her womb for 9 months and waited all those months to behold her beautiful Savior face to face. She must have faced persecution for her out of wedlock pregnancy, most people not having a clue of Whom she carried. Yet she carried the evidence of what people believed was sin in her body, waiting and waiting to hold Him, and for the world to know Who this special Child was.  In all of my waiting…To finish school for a more fulfilling job where I will no longer live paycheck to paycheck, in waiting to meet or know who my husband is, in waiting to find a more permanent living situation…Impatience. Yet most of all, longing for the day I meet my Redeemer face to face, and live in perfect joy forever with Him and all the saints. Waiting. There is always something to wait for. The waiting, the longing, the feelings of never being settled…Mary teaches me to wait. She is teaching me endless strength, and to have faith. She shows me the example of a woman who followed the Lord without fear, no matter where it led her.

So now I step into Advent, a season of the Church where my daily lived experience is made manifest. I’m thankful to have Mary to look to for the virtues I need the most at this time. Most of all, I’m grateful that she said “yes,” so that our Savior could come into the world!

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” Luke 1:45

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Courtesy of Howard Lyon
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Fasting and Intimacy.

The people of the Bible fasted at pivotal points. Fasting is a practice in Jewish tradition, and fasting was also often practiced in moments of desperation and crying out to God. In 2

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Saul’s conversion

Samuel, David repented of his sin and fasted in hopes that his child (conceived out of wedlock) might be healed and live. In the New Testament, Saul was bent on destroying those who preached Christ. After hearing Jesus on the road to Damascus, he fasted for 3 days (Acts 9). He is then healed of physical blindness (that occurred after hearing Christ–though it’s implied that he was also spiritually blind and gained spiritual sight). Saul goes on to become St. Paul–one of the most zealous people to ever live for Christ. And, of course, Jesus fasted. In Acts, the early Christians also fasted and prayed before praying over others and sending them out on mission. Now, Christians all over the world practice fasting.

In my own life, fasting seemed daunting. In the Catholic Church, there are two days that Fasting bookare prescribed for fasting. Even those two days of the year are very difficult for me physically. Recently, I read a book that helped me to see the history, benefits, hows, and whys of fasting. It gave stories of people’s positive and negative experiences with various types of fasting.  The book was  “Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond Our Appetites” by Lynne Baab. My eyes were opened to the benefits of fasting and how it can bring one into greater intimacy with the Lord. Fasting leaves an open space for God. It disciplines our bodies and minds to grow in the Spirit. It detaches us from the things of the world in order to better be attuned to the Father. I was able to ponder other types of fasts: for example, fasting from social media, jewelry, or certain types of foods (instead of all food).

I am making an effort to fast from listening to music. Perhaps that seems a silly fast. For me, however, it is necessary. (And maybe you, too!) I really like listening to music, but it brings a lot of noise to my life. I want to hear the the still, small voice of God. I want to leave an opening for the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I don’t want to hear songs on repeat in my head. Of course, the Spirit can speak through music. I want to leave room to hear Him in the stillness, in sacred silence.  I desire to receive His love. My commute is now a time for a conversation with my Heavenly Father. I feel that even this short time in the car is preparing me better for the challenges ahead in the day. I walk into work in a better state of mind and clothed in the armor of God (Eph. 6). When I blast music on the car ride, I don’t walk into work with the same peace. I am so thankful for this new knowledge of fasting, and the grace to implement it!

When are some times to fast?

  • When you are struggling with decisions or confused, not at peace
  • When you are struggling with habitual sins and habits you can’t seem to break
  • When loved ones are in trouble
  • When you are longing for intimacy with God
  • When your country or another region of the world is in turmoil

What are your experiences of fasting? What types of fasting do you practice?