:::days twenty nine and thirty::: FAST FROM FOOD

saturday, october 17 to sunday, october 18
About one in seven people worldwide do not have enough food to sustain them; 350 to 400 million children are hungry right now; and every five seconds a child dies of causes related to malnutrition, according to the World Food Program. And yet, enough food is available on our planet to adequately feed each of its 6.7 billion inhabitants… if only it was evenly produced and distributed. For thirty short hours, you can choose to taste the kind of hunger experienced by millions on a daily basis by opting not to eat anything between breakfast today and lunch tomorrow. During your time of fasting, be sure to drink plenty of water and juice, but more importantly, let your groaning stomach remind you to pray for others around the world whose stomachs are also empty.
Eat a simple meal this morning before starting your day, and in place of lunch, dinner, and breakfast tomorrow, spend time with Jesus asking how He can use you to bring His Kingdom on this earth. Conclude your fast at lunchtime tomorrow by giving thanks for God’s great provision, and rejoicing in His presence and grace.

May you be filled to overflowing with the goodness of God, the love of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, go change the world.

:::day twenty eight::: FAST FROM CARBS

friday, october 16

Climate changes, droughts, and natural disasters can completely wipe out an entire year’s worth of food in a farming community. Families who rely on their annual crop of wheat or corn are left with very few alternatives if their harvest fails. Limit your own options even further today by choosing to go without any bread, pasta, or grain products.

:::day twenty seven::: FAST FROM MEAT

thursday, october 15
It is estimated that the wealthiest 20% of the world’s population eats about 80% of the world’s meat. A large majority of the grain and corn grown around the world today feeds, not poor people, but cattle, pigs, and chicken, which will then be consumed by the rich. Though meat does provide needed protein, most of us already get twice the nationally recommended amount per day. So, choose beans, eggs, and other staples to fill your stomach these next few days, and pass on the poultry and beef.

:::day twenty six::: FAST FROM SNACKS

wednesday, october 14
Approximately 25,000 people die each day of hunger related causes, and we say things like “I’m starving” when we go more than a few hours without eating. We usually have 3 meals a day, plus snacks in between, and there’s rarely a time when food is farther away than the fridge or nearest supermarket. Starting today, eat only if you are truly hunger and just at mealtimes, no snacking in between.

:::day twenty five::: FAST FROM SWEETS

tuesday, october 13
We eat primarily for pleasure, only if it tastes good and we like it. But many people eat for basic survival, unconcerned with the flavor, just as a necessity to fill the void in their stomachs. Choose to forgo desserts for the rest of the week in order to remind yourself that food was meant first for our nutrition and second for our enjoyment.

:::day twenty four::: FAST FROM LUXURY DRINKS

monday, october 12
While many in our world consider clean water a treat and milk or juice an extreme luxury, it is fairly normal for us to consume a wide variety of different beverages throughout the week. And some of us have become quite dependent on our regular caffeine fix. If you usually drink coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, etc., cut those out for the next five days starting today and enjoy the other luxuries in life.

:::days twenty four to twenty eight::: FAST FROM OVER CONSUMPTION

monday, october 12 to friday october 16
“Man does not live on bread alone but
on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

In five days, you will be challenged to fast completely from food for 30 hours. One of the reasons for going 30 hours without eating, is to show us that our bodies can go 30 hours without eating. They can go quite a bit longer. But, since we rarely have to miss a meal, our stomachs think we actually need the substantial portions we feed ourselves, and grumble every few hours to remind us.
In the coming days, we will practice fasting from various food items so that our brains and bodies can relearn what we truly need, and so we can prepare ourselves for 30 hours with no food. We don’t do this to diet or test our discipline. We do it to learn spiritual hunger, humility, and dependence on God, to be controlled and filled by the Holy Spirit instead of by food.
Use prayerful discernment before committing to the following days’ challenges, especially if you have any health concerns. Just as Jesus was tempted “when he was hungry,” we are often at our weakest when we crave something out of our reach, so ask God to teach you that HE is all you really need. Fill your mind with His Word by reading through the book of James in the coming days.
Each day this week you will fast from a different food item, while continuing to fast from all the previous days’ items as well. This will not only be a healthy way to prepare your body for 30 hours without food, it will be a continual reminder to thank God for all the little things we often take for granted.
What measure of control does food have over you? What do you crave? How can you let Jesus have more control and be the one you crave?

Read... the book of James

:::day twenty three::: FAST FROM WASTE

sunday, october 11
Americans could fill the Rose Bowl every three days with the food they throw away.
While an absence of food ravages millions in poor countries, an abundance of food is thrown away each day by millions in affluent countries. We say things like “eat everything on your plate because there are starving children in Africa,” but does that actually change the way we buy, consume, or think about our food? Some researchers estimate that over a quarter of all food currently available in the U.S. will never get eaten and end up in the trash. Go take a look at your fridge and freezer, cupboards and counters, and choose to not let any of your food go to waste. Postpone your next trip to the supermarket or drive-thru until after you’ve eaten what you already have.
How would you explain the various reasons that millions of tons of food are thrown away each day in the very same world where millions of people are starving to death?

Read... Exodus 16:11-30

:::day twenty two::: FAST FROM LITERACY

saturday, october 10
“I am illiterate. I am like a blind person” ~ an uneducated mother in Pakistan
In the west, we teach our children that their ticket to success and prosperity is getting a good education, and we invest billions of dollars to guarantee it is accessible. But imagine if you never learned how to read or write because you never attended even one day of school; instead you became “literate” in the ways of farming, herding, or scavenging at a very early age. This is the reality of one in six adults in the world today who are illiterate. Today, write down all the many ways your daily life would be impacted if you could not understand road signs, food labels, and instructions, not to mention books, emails, job related materials, or God’s Word. In fact, turn your Bible upside down to read the verses below and see just how debilitating illiteracy would be.
How might the inability to read and write affect your relationship with God? How might it not affect your relationship with God?

Read... Deuteronomy 11:18-22; John 1:1-18

:::day twenty one::: FAST FROM "CLEAN"

friday, october 9
“It’s amazing how much my definition of clean changed” ~Mike Yankoski after choosing to live on the streets for 6 months
One of the first things non-westerners seem to notice when traveling to a “wealthy nation” like ours is the high priority we place on cleanliness. Trash is collected in bins, restaurants undergo strict hygiene inspections, yards are pristine, pets are flea-free, and clothes are worn only once or twice before being washed. We have even been taught to associate “cleanliness” with “godliness” (i.e. good people live in clean neighborhoods, and bad people live in dirty neighborhoods; good people are bathed and well-dressed, and bad people are unwashed and wear dirty clothes). Today, choose to be “unclean.” Give up your shower, toothbrush, deodorant, etc., and identify with those who may rarely experience those luxuries.
What is God’s definition of “clean” for His children? How can you place more emphasis on your inner purity and holiness?

Read... Luke 11:37-41; John 13:1-17

:::day twenty:::FAST FROM IGNORANCE

thursday, october 7
It’s not that rich Christians don’t care about the poor, it’s that we often don’t know the poor. ~Shane Claiborne
Jesus spent a lot of time with the sick, the sinful, and society’s outcasts. When he told His disciples that the poor would always be with them, perhaps He meant that the poor should always be with them…that His disciples should show such unconditional love and acceptance, the poor would be irresistibly drawn to them. For Jesus, the lowly and the unlovely weren’t charity cases, they were His friends who He would laugh with and eat with and learn from. They weren’t projects, they were people He loved deeply and knew intimately. Today, choose to make a new friend—maybe someone easily ignored or judged. Learn each others’ names and interests; discuss life and family, beliefs and values, hopes and dreams… just like you do with any of your friends.
How closely does your circle of friends resemble the wide range of people represented in Jesus’ circle of friends? What might you do to broaden the scope of your friendships?

Read... Luke 10:30-37; Luke 14:12-14

:::day nineteen::: FAST FROM POSSESSIONS

wednesday, october 7
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” ~ Jim Elliot
Do you possess your possessions or do they possess you? When we forget that our earthly treasures will one day pass away, it is easy to hold our belongings with a tight fist. But when we live like we believe that our real treasure is only found in Jesus, we can consider everything else as “rubbish.” What if our possessions had so little control over us that we would happily give someone the coat we were wearing, or the shoes off of our feet, or even the keys to our car? And instead of feeling a sense of loss, we felt liberated. Choose today to experience the freedom of giving something away… maybe not just the stuff you don’t like or don’t need, but something you do like or do need.
How can you practice storing up your treasures in heaven, for “there your heart will be also?”

Read... Philippians 3:7-8; Luke 12:13-21; I John 3:17

:::day eighteen::: FAST FROM YOURSELF

tuesday, october 6
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito. –African saying
Have you ever looked at your life and felt powerless to make significant changes in the world because you’re “only one person?” What if, instead of being paralyzed by our own inabilities or overwhelmed by the world’s great needs, we lived as though our little acts of kindness really mattered … because they do matter to someone. Mother Teresa was known for saying, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
She was determined to see the face of Jesus in every person she met, remembering His words, “whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.” Choose today to do something “small” for someone with the knowledge that you are serving Christ himself.
What if you actually saw Jesus starving, or suffering, or sick? What would you do for Him?

Read... Matthew 25:31-46

:::day seventeen::: FAST FROM VANITY

monday, october 5
13 billion dollars is spent by Americans on cosmetic surgery every year
How much time do we spend staring at ourselves in front of the mirror, whether in dissatisfaction or admiration, compared to the time spent looking at God and His world? The beauty of creation is all around us, from sunsets and trees, to pets and people, so instead of being distracted with our own reflections, may we desire to reflect the wonder of our Creator God. Discover the liberation that the world’s poor unknowingly experience by having little concern for outward appearances, and choose not to look in the mirror today.
What could we do with the money we might save if we spent less on our “outward beauty which fades?”

Read... I Samuel 16:7; Psalms 104 and 139; I Peter 3:3-5

:::day sixteen::: FAST FROM SHOES

sunday, october 4
“That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry… those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground to the needy.” ~Augustine
Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores, or simply getting around, these children are unknowingly at risk. Walking is often the primary mode of transportation in developing countries, and just wearing shoes enables people to fetch water or medical help from distances that aren't possible barefoot. A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites, which penetrate the skin through open sores; however, wearing shoes can eliminate this risk. Many times children can't attend school with bare feet, which means they don't receive an education...all because they don’t have shoes (adapted from tom's shoes). In their honor, today is Go Barefoot Day.
If you counted all the shoes you own and averaged the cost of each, how much of an investment have you made on your feet?

Read... Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 10:7-10; Luke 22:35

:::day fifteen::: FAST FROM SPEECH

saturday, october 3
“The poorest of the poor suffer silently, too weak for activism or too busy raising the next generation of hungry.” ~A voice from Haiti
To be poor often means to be powerless, even to feel voiceless. Our world is so full of other noises and stronger voices that the quiet cries of the weak and hungry are easily drowned out. Many people have even put their hands over their ears to silence the sounds of suffering when it becomes too uncomfortable. But followers of Jesus have another choice. We are blessed with the ability to raise our voices and communicate the fears, pains, or longings of those too weary or resigned to do so themselves. Next time you have the opportunity to speak out on behalf of the poor, don’t waste it, but for today choose a time when you can relinquish the use of your voice to gain a clearer understanding of what it might feel like to suffer in silence.
What will you say the next time someone disparages or diminishes the plight of the poor? How can you speak on their behalf?

Read...Proverbs 31:8-9

:::day fourteen::: FAST FROM MONEY

friday, october 2
"It's not about what you own, but what owns you. It's not about what you consume, but what's consuming you. It's not about how many people serve you, but how many you serve." Steve Roa, Grove Community Church Volunteer
The money in our wallets and bank accounts is not really ours. It all comes from God and we are merely entrusted with it, not entitled to it. Most Westerners don’t usually have to make excruciating financial decisions, like whether to spend our last dollars on food for our children or on medicine for our dying spouse. We unconsciously act as if money could take care of all of our needs, while many poor people have learned the secret to desperately waiting on God for even their most basic necessities. It’s hard for us to understand that feeling of vulnerability and powerlessness, so choose today not to spend any money and instead taste the kind of freedom that comes from relying ONLY on God.
What if we let God have a say in every single purchase we made?

Read... Ecclesiastes 5:10-20; Matthew 6:19-24; Matthew 19:16-30