Fasting From Spending For A Year

buy buyAfter much thought, discussion, soul-searching and prayer my wife, Sharon, and I have decided to take a fast from spending for twelve months. As daunting and impossible as it might seem we are committed to shutting off the spending flow and sticking with it no matter what the urge, temptation or challenge might be.

EXPECTED REACTIONS

For some this might seem to be an insane decision. Such ones cannot even fathom the remote possibility of denying yourself the luci surprisedprivilege of spending for an entire year. Who would ever want to do something like that and why, why, why? We live in a culture of affluence. I mean, spending is what you do in America. Americans are the biggest spenders in the world. To fast from spending for an entire year is not only insane, it is just UN-American.

THE REASON: FOCUS SHIFT

So why in the world, or at least in America, the land of buying more, are we embarking on an adventure of fasting from spending? To begin with, this is going to provide an extended time of taking our focus off of stuff. It seems that most of life revolves around stuff and material possessions. From the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night, much of our time is devoted to stuff. And much of that time is all about getting more of it. So our decision to go an entire year without getting any more of it gives us a whole new focus, at least for that year. Who knows where it might lead from there.

Materialism is the acquisition of stuff. It is get, get, get. It has been described as get all you can, can the rest and then sit on the can. What better way to break the grip of materialism then to take an extended time of not participating in the insanity of it all?

MORE IMPORTANT THINGS

Taking our focus off of buying and stuff will then enable us to focus on more important things. We can have a transfer of focus from buying to, most importantly, God. Fasting is for the purpose of turning our attention from one thing to another. In the case of eating it is to take our attention from food in order to place it on God. In the case of stuff, spending and buying, it is for the purpose of taking our attention off of these things and placing it on God for an extended period. It lowers the importance of stuff so we can draw close to him. It is a time to hunger and thirst for him rather than more of whatever.

no spendingTaking our focus off of stuff and spending also leaves us with more time to devote to other things that are far more important, like relationships. Instead of spending we can be serving. Instead of buying stuff we can to be devoting that time to being a better husband, better wife, better parents, better neighbors, and better friends. Buying is time-consuming. Not buying leaves us with more time to invest in others.

Then fasting from spending and buying will leave us with more resources to use in loving God and loving others. According to Jesus nothing in life is more important than loving God and loving others. And one of the most significant and practical ways we can express that love is through the resources we have acquired. A spending fast will provide resources that can be used to bless others and meet their needs. We serve others by transferring some of what we would spend on ourselves to meeting their needs.

And finally, fasting from spending will immediately leave us with more resources to give to God, his church and his mission in the world. Wow, what an eternal difference that will make for so many.

THE INVITATION

So, I would like to invite you to consider a similar fast, whenever the time might be appropriate for you. It might be for these reasons or for your own. This could be the most awesome and transforming year of your life. This could be the breakaway you have been needing.

Sharon and I went away for a few days and worked out some *guidelines that we will follow for our fast in order for both of us to be on the same page. I would love to share them with you, if interested.

The Power of Model

One more thing to consider. If you have kids still at home or even ones that have moved out of the house, imagine how much your model could communicate to them in a year about what is most important in life. Instead if it being stuff, spending and materialism they would see self-denial, self-sacrifice, generosity and service to God and others. This is one teaching opportunity they will never forget.

*As our personal guidelines will reveal, our fast is from new spending. Providing for upkeep and necessities is permitted, but only as detailed in the guidelines and agreed upon by both parties.

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Pure Sex and society

This Sunday (October 7) I began to address some issues related to Sex in our Sunday gatherings. Each week I will include here on my blog information, that relates to the Sunday message, that I am not able to cover on Sunday morning. Please forgive me if I might be a little too “bold” in what I have to say than what you are comfortable with. But my observation is that everyone seems to be talking about sex except the church. If God is the designer of sex and His instruction on it is of greatest importance, why don’t we discuss it?

Ed Young writes, “Far from being an isolated act with the significance of a sneeze, sex is one of the most intimate, life-altering, profound, and deeply spiritual experiences available to man. It is the most natural high our bodies can experience. Sex is a strong, strong force, and what we choose to do with it affects not only our own lives, but other lives as well. In fact, our collective view of sex can predict the fate of our very society.

Scholar D. Unwin wrote years ago in Sex and Culture, ‘In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and postnuptial continence.’ In other words, societies that place no value on premarital chastity and marital fidelity simply do not thrive. Unwin studied hundreds of years of history and concluded that the health and longevity of nations directly corresponded to the value placed on sexual purity. Societies whose sexual mores were strong prevailed. Those whose sexual mores were weak no longer exist. Could this be what ancient Israel’s King Solomon meant when he spoke of the “total ruin” which awaited those who disregarded God’s commands in this area (Proverbs 5:14)?

Imagine! Ancient history and modern surveys confirm what God has always said: that sex is a multifaceted gift of deep importance, and that chastity or lifelong marriage is the safest, surest, and richest setting for its expression. That’s pure sex—and it is no contradiction in terms. Pure, undefiled, undiluted sex is what God intended for us from the very beginning. If we make “safe sex” our highest aim, we will fall far short of the awesome sexual experience God has in mind for us as His children. He desires much more than that for you and me.”

I would recommend to you “Pure Sex” by Ed Young. Other than the Bible, it is the primary source of my information for our discussion of pure sex. If you would be interested in the entire Sunday messages contact me at steve@relaxedchurch.com.