In HOPE

  In HOPE 6.7                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

My reflections this week are excerpted from a longer article I have written for The LOOKOUT magazine, to be published this coming Sunday (March 5). If Lent is new to you or you would simply like more information, drop me an email at djtimms@hiu.edu .

 Hope Happenings

Recently Hope International University decided to seek program accreditation for our ministry programs, from the Association for Biblical Higher Education. This supplements the regional accreditation we already have. We are delighted to be the second largest member of ABHE and to have received accreditation until 2016 for our various ministry programs. We greatly appreciate this important peer approval. 

 

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

 

"In a culture where the landscape is dotted with shrines to the Golden Arches and an assortment of Pizza Temples, fasting seems out of place, out of step with the times." (Richard Foster)


Lent 2006

Today is Ash Wednesday - the official start of the Christian Lent season.

Followers of Christ all over the world will commence various fasts for the next 6 weeks leading to Easter. For many of us, fasting of any kind simply escapes our radar unless we face a crisis or a time for vital decision-making; perhaps 40 days for national revival, 14 days to find a spouse, three days for a career change, and single meal for a refinance decision.

But the tradition of fasting 40 days before Easter serves at least two helpful purposes. First, it comes around each year and thereby guards us from fasting simply to manipulate God for crisis intervention. Second, it keeps fasting before us as a worthwhile discipline to deepen our hunger and thirst for God.

We won't find Ash Wednesday or Lent in the New Testament. Jesus did not institute them and Paul didn't write about them. Nevertheless, this season can be deeply meaningful and spiritually enriching.

Repentance and fasting deserve resurgence in our day, when sin is downplayed and self-denial is ignored. Some might say, "I'd rather die!" But that's precisely the point. This fast reenacts a "death" to ourselves so that we might experience a new level of intimacy and "aliveness with Christ." Each time we "miss" something we have laid aside for Christ, our mind is briefly drawn to Him afresh.   

Sterling Hundley notes: "Fasting is a symbolic act, not a logical act.... The symbolism of fasting can be destroyed by too-rigid analysis or elevated into idolatry. The meaning of fasting is simply our hunger for God and for God's righteousness, expressed with abandon."

We may devise many excuses for not fasting, but ultimately our excuses may simply highlight our light appetite for God. One writer puts it this way: "The path to the buffet table and the path to sanctification lie in opposite directions." That may be more true than we want to admit.

Fasting is an ancient spiritual exercise designed to enhance our attentiveness to God. This Lenten season calls us again to set our minds afresh on Him, to listen harder than usual - perhaps harder than ever.

As we restrain ourselves from a particular indulgence or comfort, we may find ourselves much more focused on Christ. Consequently, His resurrection on Easter Sunday becomes ours in a deeper way than we might have imagined or experienced before.

In HOPE -

David

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/