CQ…Clark Here

Thoughts and opinions. LOTS of opinions.

Archive for the tag “First Baptist Church”

It begins.

Day One of my Punishment Detail.

It’s been twelve hours, twenty-two minutes and seventeen seconds since I had a bite of food in my mouth.  Only two and a half days to go.  I can feel myself weakening.  Almost fell down the stairs.  No strength.  I think my ribs are sticking out.  How can I keep going?  Not even a cup of coffee to comfort me.  So…tired…camt fele teh kaybrod…goin daaarrrrkkkk…eajfaliiooooeeeeeeeeee jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj  jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj  jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

   …NOT!!!  I don’t quite have enough fat to live as long as a polar bear through the winter, but I bet I could go a couple of weeks minus calories.

It’s kind of interesting, last night I found myself kind of perversely looking forward to this week of fasting.  It’s a challenge, and I am all about that.  Nor really feeling the hunger yet, but I do miss my coffee.  However, Beth and I were talking, and you know what?  We both want to do this correctly.  I really want to focus on God during this time, so that when I feel the hunger I am pointed toward Him.  I want this to be a time of prayer and focus; spiritual awareness.  Hunger and I are not friends, so this is definitely out of my comfort zone.

In times past when we did the Daniel fast, I remember having a caffeine headache for two days, and my kidneys ached for four.  Interestingly, no headache today.  We have cut back on caffeine intake, so hopefully we’ll be relatively ok with that.  I am a bit hungry, but that’ll change; I expect that I’ll be real hungry later on.  I find myself tired, but that I expect will improve.  During our last Daniel fast I missed the coffee for a few days, but then not so badly.

And I tried to convince my wife last night that hops and malt should be allowed on this diet.  They’re grains, right?  She didn’t buy it.

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Next spiritual adventure coming up…fast!!

Ok, that’s a bit corny, but I couldn’t stop myself.

Our church leaders have called for a week-long fast starting at 6:00 PM on March 1, 2012.  I have fasted in the past, usually for a day, consisting of water only, or water and Gatorade.  Beth and I have also done the “Daniel fast” for ten days during Lent.

The Daniel fast is based on the book of Daniel in the Bible, in which Daniel and his companions ate only vegetables for a time period.  The fast consists of fruits and vegetables only; no meat of any kind, no dairy.  No processed anything.  No processed flour (white or whole), no baked goods.  In my viewpoint, if it tastes good, you can’t have it.  No coffee, no tea, no soda pop, no milk, no juice.  Just water and veggies.  Basically, if it grows in the ground or on a tree it’s fair game.  Other than that, forget it.

Ok, I’m not a big veggie fan, I take multi-vitamins so I don’t have to eat veggies.  So a ten-day period of time in which that’s all I eat is not exactly something I’m going to jump up and down for.  The Daniel fast is basically a vegan diet, only more restrictive.  Joy, rapture.  How about instead of the fast, I just give myself a papercut and squirt some lemon juice on it?  It’d be kind of painful, and over more quickly.  No, I guess not.

This year the fast being planned is a bit different.  It’s only a week-long, so that’s a bit more palatable (pun intended).  However, it’s not precisely like the Daniel fast.  Here’s the schedule for this year’s fast: Day one is water only.  Day two and three is water and juice only, and the juices are 100% fruit juices only, no preservatives or additives of any kind.  Day three through seven are then Daniel fast oriented.

From a physiological perspective, I know that this will be good for me.  There are all kinds of physical benefits from a fast such as this.  Spiritually, I know this will be good for me as well.  Fasting is a spiritual sacrament that is assumed.  In other words, the Bible doesn’t say, “If you fast,” but it says “When you fast.”  It is assumed that we will fast.  Just as it is assumed that we will pray.  The fact is, I don’t fast enough.  Not that I’m looking for a regular schedule for it…

See, I’m not just fond of food, I love food.  I love the taste, the texture, the smell, the appearance, everything.  I’m certainly no gourmand.  I love all kinds of food, from hot dogs and beans to a nice roast and boiled potatoes to squab and asparagus.  If you need to get classified information from me, there’s no need for torture.  Just set me down in front of an “everything” pizza and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.

With that as background, I think it is easy to see that I am not looking forward to this fast.  I am really, really, not looking forward to it.  But.  I have committed.  And I know God is here.  And God uses situations that appear to be unsavory (another food reference, there) in huge ways.  As an example, I seem to remember reading something about a missions trip to the Dominican Republic.  This is going to be interesting.

(for more information on the Daniel fast, check it out at http://danielfast.wordpress.com/)

I am just not used to this (part two).

Sunday morning, I woke up mostly refreshed and ready to go.  Surprisingly, my cold was still present, but only a fraction of what it had been.  I have never had that dramatic a turnaround inside of a few hours before in my life!

We got ready and went to church.  Beth had already told our worship team leader I probably wouldn’t sing, but I felt fine.  I’m a tenor, and often tell people that “real men sing real high.”  I wasn’t confident in my ability to hit the high notes, but one of our singers gave me a few Fisherman’s Friend cough drops.  Between the miraculous health turnaround, and the cough drops, I sang better and “purer” than I have in a while.  Very cool!

Pastor Bob gave his message, dealing mostly with fasting as presented in the New Testimant.  Our Elders have called for a church-wide fast, starting on March 1, and continuing for a week.  I will post on that topic another time.

The message was timely and well done (no shocker there),  and I was called forward to give the presentation.  The report went very well, and I could feel God’s presence.  At the end, I was grateful for God’s blessing, and was told by a number of people that it was well done.

What surprised me was how I felt most of the rest of Sunday.  I have been in theater productions, singing, band, and other “performance” type things most of my life.  And normally afterwards I’m jazzed, elated, high as a kite.  Not this time.  I couldn’t really place it, but if anything I felt like I was unworthy.  I was uncomfortable with the kind words spoken to me after the talk.

T.H. White wrote a book, The Once and Future King, consisting of three stories of King Arthur and his knights.  I am relating the following from memory, but I have not read the book in several years.  Almost every legend of King Arthur contains an affair between Lancelot and Guinevere.  In White’s version, they are in anguish over their affair, as they both love Arthur, but seem compelled to continue the affair.

In the second “book,” a knight falls ill, and it is determined that the only thing that will save him is the touch of a knight that is “pure.”  Lancelot is considered to be the “purest of the pure,” but refuses to touch the sick knight, due to his affair with Guinevere.  The other knights try, but nothing works, and the ill knight is dying.  Lancelot, dreading the moment, steps forward to touch the knight.  He knows that when he does, the truth will out.  But he has no choice; he touches the knight.  And the knight is healed.  The kingdom rejoices, the knights celebrate, but Lancelot, kneeling on the ground, weeps with a broken heart.  He knows the truth, and God, in His graciousness, worked through Lancelot in spite of Lancelot’s deficiencies.

That’s how I felt yesterday.  Totally unworthy, and levelled by God’s grace.  Rather than being elated, I was troubled.  Unworthy.  Low.  Amazed that God can speak through someone like me.  “Oh, wreched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24.  I am just not used to God usingme!

I wasn’t exactly depressed, but I was other than happy.  And I was that way most of the day.

But it occurred to me that I couldn’t stay that way, and Beth encouraged me to not get stuck in that place.  I think that’s the trick.  I think it’s good that I reacted as I did, but if I stayed there it would turn into a blackness that would just drag me back where I was before.  That is the last thing I want at this point in my life.  So, praise God!  If I did well, if I did poorly, God loves me no less and no more, and wants relationship with me.  That is beyond cool.

I am just not used to this (part one).

When we returned from our short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic, we talked about sharing our experiences at church, First Baptist Church in North East, PA.  I know this is pretty standard fare for people serving in this capacity.  One goes on a mission trip, comes back, and talks about the trip at church.  What isn’t standard is that I was “volunteered” to speak.  I kind of thought we would all speak for a couple of minutes, but was unanimously (minus one) voted down.  It was decided that I would speak for the group.  Lovely.

Our pastor, Bob Klecan, agreed that a presentation would be appropriate, and he figured ten minutes would be a good time for the report.  He scheduled me to speak yesterday, February 19.  I wasn’t too worried about it, I write fairly well, and I belong to Noon-Time Toastmasters in Erie, PA.  So I was comfortably confident I could turn out something coherent and present it in an acceptable fashion.  This isn’t to brag, I’m just saying that the basic skills required were not a huge concern.  I just wanted to honor God with what I did.

Through the week I worked on it, and as of Saturday I had about four minutes, thirty-eight seconds.  Wow!  Expanding this would not be difficult, I was happy to add stuff that I had been afraid would not fit.  Beth made a couple of suggestions which I incorporated, and I got the talk ready to go.  I made a few fine-tuning changes later on Saturday, and even Sunday morning until just before service started.  I prayed about it, Beth prayed about it, and we prayed about it together.  I was confident that I would at least present it ok, and not embarrass myself.  Good enough for me.

I have been fighting a cold for a week or so, but getting better.  I did not think that would be a factor.  However, on Saturday I sneezed for about five minutes straight.  When I was done sneezing, my nose became a faucet and my sinuses were completely clogged.  Beth and I serve on the worship team at church, with Beth being one of the guitarists, and I am one of the singers.  With the unbelievably nasty cold hitting like a blizzard (uh, flood?), I was doubtful I could sing, and was concerned about my ability to talk on Sunday

The cold hit me mid-morning Saturday, just before I started working on the talk.  So, I did what I would expect anyone in that position to do.  I took my laptop, got a cup of coffee, and headed out to our unattached, unheated garage to work on the missions report.  One might ask why in the world I would do that?  Well, the answer is that I had determined to smoke one of the Dominican cigars I brought back while working on the report.  And I’m not permitted to smoke my cigars in the house.  So, I was left with no choice but to work in the cold, cruel wastes of northwestern Pennsylvania, sheltered only by an unheated garage, and with a nasty cold no less!  See how cruel my wife can be?  (Kidding, honey!!)

In any event, I was fairly calm about the whole thing, cold and all.  We went to bed Saturday night, and I prayed (and we prayed) that God would take away the cold for Sunday morning.  Vitamin C, zinc, echinacea tea, NyQuil, and lights out.  Interestingly, Saturday night I wound up doing an all-nighter; I’m at the age where that means I don’t have to get up even once to use the bathroom.

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