IMG_5702-0 There is a story in the Bible that I love, about King David. He was going to make an offering of repentance to the Lord, and someone offered to give him the land and cattle, etc. that was needed. David, however, said “I will not give God that which cost me nothing” and he paid full price.
I remember when I was a poor college student and I read that verse. I was involved in a group who went every other Friday to befriend and pray for homeless people. I am not naturally a super outgoing person, so striking up a conversation with a stranger is never easy. However, I knew God wanted me to do this, so I did. It was great. I am sure I received much more from God than whatever I was able to give the homeless.
I think it was Valentines Day or some particular occasion, but I had it in my heart to give away cookies to the homeless one week, like a little gift, just something to express God’s love. I thought about what I could do, and I didn’t want to give God that which cost me nothing. I didn’t have a kitchen, I didn’t have a car, but I had a bicycle and a few bucks, so I rode my bike the half mile or so (uphill!) to the grocery store, bought a pack of my favorite soft chocolate chip cookies, some plastic wrap, and curling ribbon. I made some little packages, tied them up nicely with ribbon, and added a little note about God’s love and that I was praying for them. Friday I went to give them out with my friends. Some people just looked at me funny and took them. Other people smiled and converses awhile. It didn’t matter their reaction. I was doing it for Jesus. Did they need cookies? I am sure there are plenty of other things they needed more, but I was a poor college student, and I gave what I could: a little money, a little extra time and effort, a little prayer, and some smiles.

Sometimes we don’t give, because we feel like it’s not much and won’t make a difference. Sometimes we give, but we give what we can “spare” –something we’ll hardly notice is missing. Do any of those people remember I gave them cookies that night? I highly doubt it. But I remember. Because it cost me something. That same gift wouldn’t “cost” me anything today. But that day, it did. And I remember because it was something I did in response to the tug of Jesus on my heart. It was really my gift to Him.

So far as I have written about the Month of Dedication I haven’t talked too much about the actual fasting part, except for talking about my coffee crutch. And if I was only fasting coffee for a month, that wouldn’t really be that big a deal, and honestly it wouldn’t “cost” me. When things don’t cost us, we hardly remember them. The soul is not impacted. But for it to truly be a Month of Dedication to Jesus, I can’t give that which costs me nothing.

For our church, we are inviting people to set their own terms for what they will fast and what they will turn to each week in pursuit of God. But as a community, there are some things we invite everyone to consider giving up. (And if you are reading this- you’re now part of my community!)
I already talked about considering your crutches. Here are some other things to consider:
Together we would like to challenge everyone to TURN FROM:
> Desserts / Sweets / Fried Food / Alcohol:
Things like dessert, breakfast pastries, sugary cereals, fancy coffee drinks, soda, fries, chips, any kind of alcoholic drink, etc.
Instead have: pure water, plain coffee or tea (or with milk instead of syrups or flavors), healthy cereal and oatmeal, fresh fruit and fruit juices, fruit smoothies, yogurt or all-fruit popsicles for “dessert,” vegetables, whole grains, nuts, etc. For many people, eating sweets, etc. is not only unhealthy for the body, it is also a sign of an unhealthy spirit, because foods are used for “comfort” when you feel sad/bad/tired. Instead, turn to God for a pick-me-up. (Nicotine use can be especially dangerous during a liquid fast and will also inhibit your body’s detoxification efforts. If you’d like to quit smoking, this could be a great time!)
> Limit your social media, television, internet, and smartphone use. This is a very personal decision. Many of us use email or even FaceBook for daily communication with friends, co-workers, and to coordinate schedules. You may watch the news every day. You may plan parties or meals using Pinterest. You may use your smartphone for fitness apps, driving directions, keeping track of shopping lists, or other necessary and healthy tasks. We are not asking you to give up all electronic time. And of course, keep reading this blog! 😉 All we are asking is that you carefully consider how much time you are spending on electronic devices for unhelpful, unnecessary, and time-stealing endeavors. How much time is being stolen from God, from your personal face-to-face relationships, your kids, spouse, and from taking care of important tasks in your home? It is often easier to “just veg” by surfing the internet, than to get up and do something important, talk to someone, to bless someone, or work toward healing a relationship.

There is one week left in February, and March is go time! What you give God will be different than what I give God. Think about it… What is going to cost you? And what kind of life do you think Jesus will give you in return? You can never give Jesus more than He will give to you. Ask Him.