GOD’S CALL TO FASTING

GOD’S CALL TO FASTING
(A Practical Guide)


“I humbled myself with fasting…” (Psalm 69:10)

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting….” (Joel 2:12)

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting….” (Daniel 9:3)

J. Kie Bowman

Prayer and fasting are significant spiritual disciplines any believer can utilize in order to yield our lives more fully to God. In Scripture, prayer is mentioned hundreds of times with no reference to fasting, but the opposite cannot be said. Fasting, in Scripture, is almost never discussed apart from prayer. They go together because fasting belongs with prayer and is, in one sense, an extension of prayer. In fasting we let go of our plans; in prayer we take hold of God’s plans. Prayer connects us to Heaven while fasting disconnects us from earth!

WHY FASTING?

Here are a few simple but powerful reasons why every follower of Christ should incorporate fasting into their plans for spiritual growth.

  • Fasting creates a deep passion for intense prayer
  • Fasting increases our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
  • Fasting strengthens our resolve to obey God
  • Fasting heightens our desire for His presence
  • Fasting purifies our motives
  • Fasting reminds us to pray without ceasing
  • Fasting humbles us so our focus is on the Lord.

In addition to these thoughts, one of the most convincing incentives for fasting is the gallery of spiritual giants found in Scripture who fasted. We quickly think of Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and many others, but our primary example is Jesus. Jesus was obviously a man of prayer but He also was intensely committed to fasting. Not only did He practice it Himself, Jesus taught on fasting and expects His followers to fast.

WHAT IS FASTING?

The word, or some form of the word, fasting occurs more than seventy-five times in Scripture. Fasting was common in both Old and New Testament practice. Moses, Elijah, Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel, John the Baptist, Paul, and Jesus all fasted. So did many others.

Fasting in scripture is always about denying ourselves food. For some today, fasting has become a metaphor for giving up almost anything for godly reasons. For purposes of developing self-discipline, there may be value in refraining from some practices for a time. The people of the Bible, however, would have never considered merely give up some pleasurable practice.

Consider, for instance, the Hebrew and Greek words we translate into English as “fasting.” The Greek word literally means “no eat.” The Hebrew is even blunter, where the word literally means “shut mouth!” When we discuss fasting, therefore, we mean refraining from food.

BIBLICAL FASTING FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

Jesus encouraged us to fast when He said: “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6:16-18 ESV)

Notice that twice Jesus said “when” you fast, not “if” you fast. For many centuries devout and sincere followers have fasted for spiritual power and to increase the effectiveness of their prayers. Fasting is an important spiritual discipline for our own generation. Some of the practical points Jesus mentioned are:

  1. Fasting is expected by the Lord (“…when you fast”)
  2. Fasting is for the Lord’s notice not for the approval of others (“…may not be seen by others but by your Father”)
  3. God will bless you when you fast (“…your Father…will reward you”).

IS FASTING FOR TODAY

One day, some followers of John the Baptist came to Jesus with a challenge about fasting. They wondered why the disciples of Jesus were not fasting. It’s an interesting exchange.

“Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:14-15 ESV)

Jesus told them His disciples didn’t need to fast while He was with them but after He would be taken away, “then they will fast” (v15). The time for fasting is now- while Jesus is away in Heaven, awaiting His return.

PRACTICAL WAYS TO FAST

There are three fasts I recommend for almost anyone. If you have specific health conditions which affect your diet, check with your healthcare provider about the medical aspects of fasting. Some people, it’s true, will face extra challenges with fasts. For most people in reasonable health, one of these simple but powerful fasts, with thoughtful preparation, can be undertaken to increase your sensitivity to God’s Spirit.

THE PARTIAL FAST

In Daniel 10:2-3, the prophet, who was no stranger to fasting, described a “partial fast” in which he denied himself “choice food,” including meat. During a partial fast, you might want to limit your food to only fresh fruits or vegetables in the smallest amounts without sugar, salt, or seasonings. You would not want to drink any beverages other than water or limited amounts of 100% fruit/vegetable juices (avoid concentrates which are loaded with added sugar). For coffee or tea drinkers, it is appropriate to have a cup or glass without sugar or cream.

This might be the perfect fast for those who need to eat a small amount in order to take medication but still want to fast. As always, a fast is self-denial. So the menu isn’t the only important thing but also the small portions that matter. Use common sense, limit your intake of food, talk to your doctor, and trust God.

The spiritual benefits will include a heightened sense of the presence and joy of the Lord, if you spend quality time in Bible study and prayer. It is an excellent way for those fasting for the first time to begin this exciting, refreshing, and rewarding spiritual discipline.

THE ONE DAY NORMAL FAST

I have discovered the wonderful results of a regular one-day fast in which I only drink water and a little black coffee during a twenty-four hour period. I like to fast on a given day until breakfast the next day. The rewards are tremendous! The Bible always comes alive during these days in a special way, and our prayer life during the one-day fast can be as powerful as we might ever experience.

A variation of the one-day fast covers the twenty-four hours from sundown to sundown. You eat nothing from a late-day meal on one day until the same time the next day.

As with the other fasts mentioned, common sense must be used by those with preexisting medical conditions which require special diets. This guide is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Most adults and older teenagers, however, should be able to do a one-day water fast if He leads them to the fast and they seek God during the day.

THE EXTENDED FAST

For those more experienced with fasting, a three-day or long fast with only 100% fruit/vegetable juices, water, or, for the coffee/tea drinkers, a small amount of unsweetened black coffee, or tea is a great exercise in commitment and sacrifice.

During this fast, no solid foods, including fruits/milk products or soft drinks, are consumed. This is a more difficult fast since the body really begins to “cry” to be fed during the length of the fast. The spiritual benefits, however, outweigh the inconvenience and can be life-changing. Expect to hear from God during the extended juice fast. I do not recommend more than three days until you have checked with your doctor, spiritual leaders, and/or Christian family/friend. I did a 40 day fast several years ago and I’ve done a few 10 day fasts, and multiple 3 day fasts. I recently did a 21 day fast. I’ve never had any ill side effects. I highly recommend the extended fast.

Whenever you fast, remember to spend at least as much time in prayer and Bible study as you would have spent eating and preparing to eat. This isn’t a diet. Fasting is about seeking God for breakthrough in your spiritual life, so read the Word daily and pray and worship as much as possible each day. A lot of prayer and Bible reading are essential elements of a successful season of fasting.

PRACTICAL POINTS TO CONSIDER CONCERNING A FAST

• If you suffer from chronic health concerns (such as diabetes or other ailments) which demand a specific diet or regular medications requiring food, a complete fast of food might not be advisable without consultation from your doctor and careful planning.
• With any fast, drink plenty of water.
• On a long fast, consider supplementing water with a 100% fruit juice for an energy boost (do this in moderation as the sugar spike in fruit juice is not always as healthy as we might think!)
• Spend the time in prayer and Bible study that you would have normally spent in eating, preparing meals, cleaning up, or traveling to meals.
• Most physical activity is acceptable during a one-day fast, but avoid overexertion. If you feel dizzy or light-headed, rest and drink water or a small amount of fruit juice. Pace all activities. All of this depends upon how much control you have over your own schedule. It is important to carefully plan your fast, even a brief one.
• Exercise common sense. Talk to spiritual leaders and medical professionals, and be smart! • Ease into a fast by reducing your food intake slowly over a few days prior to the fast. This helps prepare your body for the lack of food during the fast.
• Remember, fasting is an exercise in self-denial. Always allow yourself the least amount of food (if any) and the most amount of prayer and Bible study.
• Ease out of the fast. For every day you fasted, spend the same number of days coming out of the fast by avoiding large meals.

YOU HAVE OPTIONS

During a called church-wide fast, or during any season of fasting, you have several options. The fast can last for several weeks, or perhaps you’ll decide to fast at least one day a week or fast for 3 days. Fasting is not a litmus test of your love for God in other’s eyes. Fasting is ultimately about seeking God for spiritual personal growth or spiritual breakthrough. Pray about any fast and proceed as the Lord leads you.

J. Kie Bowman
Senior Pastor
Hyde Park Baptist/The Quarries Church
Austin, Texas Prayer 

PRAYING FOR THE SALVATION OF OTHERS!

J. Kie Bowman

PRAYING FOR THE SALVATION OF OTHERS

D. L. Moody was a 19th Century pastor and evangelist in Chicago and he remains one of the most well known Christians in American history. One night he walked up to a stranger on the street to share Christ and the man responded, “Mind your own business.” Moody replied, “This is my business!” 

Have you ever thought about the fact that sharing the gospel and winning the lost is our business? The Great Commission of Jesus wasn’t given to anyone else except the Church of Jesus Christ! Evangelism is our “business.” 

Every Christian is called to be a witness but you don’t have to be D. L. Moody, or Billy Graham, or Greg Laurie to be an evangelist. You can pray for the lost, for the backslidden, for the prodigal. Prayer is the power that precedes all effective evangelism. 

Paul said praying for the lost is a priority- look at 1 Timothy 2:1-4. 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We have to pray for lost people to be saved! It’s not an option- it’s the will of God. 

Billy Graham once said there are 3 factors to a successful evangelistic crusade- prayer, prayer, and prayer! As you fast and pray, pray for many lost people to be saved. 

J. Kie Bowman 

Senior Pastor

19th Century Evangelist D. L. Moody
Come join the prayer meeting!

PRAYER-DON’T GIVE UP!

PRAYER: DON’T GIVE UP!

(Luke 18:1-8)

If you pray you are making a statement- you’re telling the world, “I believe there’s a God who hears and answers prayer!” Since God hears and answers prayer, we should never stop praying. Regarding His followers, Jesus taught, “…that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) Greg Laurie, commenting on that verse recently said, “If the Bible gave us no other reason for prayer, that would be reason enough. We should pray because Jesus told us to.” And what did Jesus tell us about prayer? He said to “not lose heart.” In other words, keep praying and don’t give up! Read the passage and notice the number of references to persistence. 

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”

(Luke 18:1-7)

This parable is all about one specific and highly important aspect of prayer- persistent prayer!

v.1) – “they ought always to pray”

v.1) “Not lose heart”

v.3) “a widow who kept coming”

v.5) “this widow keeps bothering me

v.5) “Her continual coming

v.6) “cry to Him day and night”

When my brother and I were young we saved loose change for years. We finally had enough to buy US Savings Bonds. Buying bonds as a 10 year old, or a six year old, knowing they wouldn’t mature for years felt like losing the money! It took years for the bonds to mature. Still, we did it. Finally, when we were teenagers the bonds matured and we cashed them in. The key to earning more than we started with was simple- we patiently waited for maturity. There’s a similar principle at work when we pray. We persist in prayer even when we don’t receive the answers on our own timetable because we trust the One we are praying to. We believe He knows what’s best in every circumstance – so we persist patiently waiting on God’s timing. Someday the time will be right! Until then, keep praying- don’t give up! 

J. Kie Bowman

Senior Pastor

STRESSED OR BLESSED?

J. Kie Bowman

STRESSED OR BLESSED? 

Our friend Shane Pruitt, who works with the North American Mission Board as a Youth Evangelist, wrote in a recent article that half of all 18 year olds in America report they feel a lot of anxiety. 

During the worst of the Pandemic we received an email from a livestream viewer living in Florida. She told us she has experienced a lot of anxiety and discouragement since the pandemic started, and our ministry was helping her cope. Psychologist Dr Fabiana Franco called anxiety, “the epidemic of our age” citing the staggering statistic that diagnosed anxiety disorders have risen 1200% in the last 3 decades!

People are worried, discouraged, and stressed out right now, and it’s more common than we realize. But there is good news! You can experience peace without worry. 

The Bible gives us a great promise about prayer and its result- peace.

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

This passage offers us a choice about every situation in life: 

We can worry or we can pray! 

God’s instructions to you are simple:

“Don’t worry about ANYTHING

Pray about EVERYTHING.”

Do you ever worry? 

The word “anxious” in verse 6 literally means, “divided mind” or “distracted thoughts.” Anxiety can leave you exhausted from your racing, confused, worried thoughts. 

We display no faith when we worry. 

Oswald Chambers once called anxiety “unconscious blasphemy” because when we worry we are not trusting God. So, how can you trust God more and worry less? 

PRACTICAL POINTERS

•As you fast and pray today, consciously ask God to give you peace. 

•Thank Him for the many blessings He has already blessed you with in your life. 

•Ask Him to meet your every need. 

•Read a lot of Scripture to fill your mind with God’s promises.

•Memorize and repeat Philippians 4:6-7 to yourself all day long!

God bless you as you choose blessing over stressing! 

J. Kie Bowman

Senior Pastor

HELP AND HOPE FOR DEPRESSION

Nearly 300 million people worldwide are suffering with depression today. That’s almost as many people as the total population of the United States. MD magazine reported last month that since Covid-19 started the number of American adults showing symptoms of depression has jumped from 11% to 33%! Depression is real and it’s a powerful enemy for anyone who desires a quality way of life. Fortunately, God can help us. Today, in this blog, counselors from the Hyde Park Counseling Center offer suggestions to help those struggling with depression so they can find hope! In addition, I’ve included my message on “How God Ministers When We Feel Depressed”, preached at Hyde Park Baptist Church on Sunday February 7, 2021. 
– JKB
Dealing with Depression
 
By Jenn Edwards, M.A.
 
Discussing depression and its presenting symptoms has become a widely considered topic in recent months. This is due in part to an increase in the likelihood that you or someone you know is currently struggling with depression in light of the current global atmosphere during the pandemic and political unrest. According to a screening assessment conducted by Mental Health America, rates of depression in 2020 increased by 62% in comparison to depression rates in 2019 [4]. While minorities and youth seem to be among the most affected, depression knows no boundaries in regard to age or demographics [4]. One of the most concerning aspects from a mental health perspective is the stigmatization of depression as a moral weakness and the presumed etiology as a lack of faith. Alternatively, research suggests “there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems” [2]. Depression can be defined as a “mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest…it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems” [3]. When we consider the reasons one might experience depression, the notion of an underlying traumatic event as the source of an onset symptoms, often comes up as a probable cause. To conceptualize a traumatic event, it is important that we understand that trauma can be loosely thought of as any novel event or circumstance thateffects are outside of our current coping capabilities. It is fair to say that COVID-19 catapulted us into a season where we are collectively navigating trauma. For people who have a predisposition to experience depression for the reasons listed above, it is understandable that we would see an increase in symptoms. 
​As you can imagine the suffering that coincides with depression is difficult, but there is always hope because it is held by Christ and tethered to a good and faithful God. There is no shortage of biblical examples where God shows us that this suffering befalls even the most faithful among us. David cries out to God exclaiming, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” And before David skips a beat he answers the question for himself with a directive and direction, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5). This would be a sufficient example of what we can view as asituational depressive episode. The good news is that depressive symptoms tend to be transient, with studies showing that around 50% of episodes are resolved on their own without treatment in approximately 6 weeks [6]. As with most mental health issues, the severity of symptoms will ebb and flow, and tend to occur in tandem to life’s more stressful seasons. One might ask, but what about the times when your persistent low mood is not manageable and does not improve when life’s circumstances seem to let up? These are good questions and from a clinical standpoint it would be important to assess whether the frequency, duration and severity of your symptoms are affecting your job, your family life, school and/or relationships. If the answer is yes, it’s time to seek professional therapy. Here are some symptomatic red flags to be watching for in the form of a helpful mnemonic device (M SIG E CAPS):
 

M​mood depressed
​S​sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia)
​I​interest loss (nothing brings pleasure)
​G​guilt (feelings of worthlessness)
​E​energy depleted (fatigue)
​C​concentration problems (indecisive)
​A​appetite disturbance (weight gain or loss)
​P​psychomotor change
​S​suicide preoccupation (thoughts of death) [1]
 
It is important to highlight the last symptom, which are suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts this should always be taken seriously and help should be sought immediately. 
​As the church we have an opportunity to co-labor with Christ in our ability to help those who are suffering from mental health issues. This starts with the way we talk aboutit in our church meetings, bible studies and Sunday school classes. God can use us to create an atmosphere laden with empathy and genuine love and concern. The over-spiritualization of mental health issues is detrimental to the healing of those suffering. An example of this is telling someone with clinical anxiety that they just need to trust God more, or an individual who has depression being toldthat they are just discontent and have lost their joy. Another way we can, as the church, partner with those affected by mental illness is to “reinforce the grace of belonging (in Christ) to inspire change vs. spiritual fighting that creates more exhaustion” [5]. The enemy undoubtedly has a hand in the perpetuation of distorted thinking, however subtly relating depression to a lost fight with the enemy takes away from the victorious work that is done and finished on the cross. As we move through this year and the years ahead it is paramount that we extend grace and love like we never have before.  Please do not hesitate to contact Hyde Park Counseling Center if you or a loved one may be facing depression.  You are not alone and we are here to help you. 
 
References
[1] Gross, Carey, MD. Creator of M SIG E CAPS mneumonic device
 
[2] Harvard Medical School. (2019, June 24th). Harvard Health Publishing.https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression
 
[3] Mayo Clinic (2018, February 3rd). Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
 
[4] Mental Health America (2021). Retrieved from:https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america
 
[5] Padilla, Joe. What the Bible Says about Depression & Anxiety. The Grace alliance. Retrieved from: https://mentalhealthgracealliance.org/christian-mental-health-and-mental-illness/battling-anxiety-spiritually
 
[6] Yarhouse, M., Butman, R., & McRay, B. (2005).Modern psychopathologies: A comprehensive Christian appraisal. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsityPress

LONELINESS GOES VIRAL

Here you’ll find a video of my message NEVER ALONE and a guest blog from two mental health professionals from Hyde Park Counseling Center

LONELINESS

By Lindy Peterson, LPC and Dr. Nicole Fitzpatrick, Licensed Psychologist, LSSP

Loneliness poses a significant threat to our mental health in the world today even more so since the pandemic began. It cuts across generations and is reaching around the world. Millions of people today are living with sparse human contact and research tells us that lonely people are more likely to become ill, experience cognitive decline, and are losing hope more than ever before.  According to recent research, two-thirds of adults today indicated they are experiencing social isolation, and 66% say their anxiety levels have increased during the pandemic.  Social distancing measures are intensifying existing feelings of loneliness, and appear to be more pronounced in older adults, particularly women.  Furthermore, more than half of adults, 50years or older, have reported marked feelings of social isolation during the pandemic.  Interestingly, only 11% of survey respondents turned to mental health professionals when feeling sad or down, and almost one third of people age 50 and over said they didn’t turn to anyone for support.  

Two studies reported that millennials are also experiencing the highest levels of loneliness and suicidal thoughts throughout the pandemic. 80% of students surveyed for the Active Minds Survey reported experiencing loneliness and isolation; putting it among the top 3 most common problems they dealt with (alongside stress/anxiety and discouragement/sadness).  Loneliness was considered to be an epidemic for millennialsprior to the pandemic, but the isolation is only serving to exacerbate its effects.

As believers, we have the greatest tools to deal with loneliness, a life giving personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  In a recent article from Focus on the Family, loneliness was referred to as an opportunity, even referred to as a gift.  How can loneliness be considered a gift when often we want to avoid or run from it?  In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, “whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”  While it is challenging for sure, loneliness can be something we can learn to praise God through and in the midst of, if we find hope in the fact that we are not alone, God is with us and will sustain us and we fix our minds on Jesus to help us get through periods ofloneliness.

If we can ask God to help us see loneliness as an opportunity, loneliness can open our hearts to others and soften our hearts to love others more.  Countless times in the past months, we’ve heard quotes from others about how people now appreciate things that they were taking for granted. For example, the freedom to attend church and worship with fellow believershas become so much more precious in the hearts of many who had become complacent about attending every Sunday.Receiving a note in the mail or kind text from a friend means so much to let us know someone is thinking about us and cared enough to take the time to write their thoughts down.

Loneliness can open us to seeking God in a deeper way.   When we’re lonely, if we hold on to God and His Word, we don’t have to fall into despair.  We can find His comfort, love,and healing by hearing His voice.  We need time with God, and in ordinary times, we often fill our time and calendar up with “busyness,” trying to surround ourselves with people and activities thinking that will prevent loneliness and find ourselves leaving God out of the equation.  However, these are often just distractions; the truth is that most people feel lonely even when surrounded by others and activity filled schedules.  Why you may ask? While the activities allow us to be around other people, many reported not feeling connected to others due to the void of emotional sharing.  Thus, people stay distracted and busy often to avoid even sharing about their own feelings for fear of being rejected or not included.  Proverbs 18:24 says, “but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.”  God is our constant and never leaves us.  There is no loneliness in Hispresence if we call on Him.   Once we recognize we are accepted by God, it can open the door for us to be vulnerable with others and share about our loneliness or whatever other feelings we may be having, from a faith place of acceptance that overshadows our fear of rejection.  Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 43:2; 1 Cor. 2:5-9

Loneliness can help strengthen our character in Christ.  We can be assured God cares for us.  He knows loneliness.  Jesus experienced the greatest loneliness when after all of his disciples deserted him, while receiving the wrath of God in our place on the cross, was even forsaken by His Father.  We become more aware of our weaknesses and deficiencies and need for Godwhen we are lonely, because we are not distracted. As Paul said in 2 Cor. 12, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

If you’re experiencing loneliness, know that you are not alone!  It is clear that at many times throughout this pandemic we have felt alone, but take heart God is there and there are people out there that care. Here are some practical suggestions to win the battle over loneliness:• Pray day-by-day and read God’s Word to enjoy fellowship with God.  • Call a close friend and schedule time to have a meaningful conversation either in person, phone or Face Time.  Ask for prayer if you are in need.  Knowing someone is praying for you can be such a blessing and comfort in times of loneliness.• Reengage with believers in your church family.  With the pandemic, we have to be more creative; meeting virtually, outside or coming back to church.  Research has shown that those who gathered during the pandemic were less implicated by mental health ails during this time.  • Find a hobby or activity that you can gather some acquaintances around and find a mutually convenient time to get together online.  Learning a new skill or reconnecting with an activity you previously enjoyed is a great way to deepen relationships and challenge your brain in a new waythat will build new neural pathways and help growrelationships as well. • God has provided methods for us to continue to sharpen each other. Reach out to a friend with an encouraging word, write a Scripture on your mirror or sticky note to remind yourself of who you are in Christ and let people know when you are having a difficult time and how they can pray and encourage you (Proverbs 27:17  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”)• Most importantly, look at yourself from God’s point of view.  Study scriptures that affirm your identity in Christ. Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:6• Specific Scriptures addressing loneliness:  Psalms 145:18-19; Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 11:28-30; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:2; I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7

Loneliness is a challenge that is affecting everyone in some wayat this time. If you or a loved one has experienced loneliness and need to talk to someone, or if you have more questions about how loneliness is impacting you, please do not hesitate to contact us at the Hyde Park Counseling Center.

References

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/get-help/the-gift-of-loneliness                                                            “The Gift of Loneliness”

https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/how-stay-mentally- healthy-amidst-covid-19-pandemic?            2020 International Mental Health Research Virtual Symposium; “How to Stay Mentally Healthy Amidst the Covid-19  Pandemic”

https://www.healthline.com/health-news: “Adults Under 24: The Loneliest Age Group During Covid-19 Restrictions”

https:/www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2020/isolation-survey-coronavirus         “Pandemic Has Created Loneliness Epidemic”

https:/www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/loneliness-during-coronavirus                               “Loneliness During Coronavirus”

https://harvardmagazine.com/2021/01/feature-the-loneliness-pandemic                                                  “The Loneliness Pandemic”

https://www.askaboutmyfaith.com/verses-when-you-feel-alone/                                                                    “7 Bible Verses to Encourage You When You Feel Alone”

https://www1.cbn.com/bible-teaching-loneliness                                                                               “Loneliness”

We’re praying for you!
-JKB

THE BIBLE READING GUIDE (2020)

THE BIBLE READING GUIDE

(August 2- August 22, 2020)

During the Covid-19 Global Pandemic millions of Americans have stopped reading the Bible! ( https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/07/22/pandemic-has-people/) In response to this development, at Hyde Park Baptist and The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas, I have issued the BIBLE READING CHALLENGE 2020. You will find the reading guide below. 

The chapters are some of the shortest you will find in the Bible so no one can argue they don’t have time to read the Bible daily. Even if you join late, you can easily catch up. Daily Bible reading can produce powerful results in your life so accepting this challenge can do nothing but help you.  (State of the Bible 2018: Seven Top Findings – Barna Group) Thanks for accepting the challenge!

READING GUIDE

Day 1, -1 John 1 (August 2)

Day 2, -1 John 2

Day 3, -1 John 3

Day 4,- 1 John 4

Day 5, – 1 John 5

Day 6, – Psalm 120

Day 7, – Psalm 121

Day 8,- Psalm 122

Day 9,- Psalm 123

Day 10,-Psalm 124

Day 11,-Psalm 125

Day 12,-Psalm 126

Day 13,-Psalm 127

Day 14, -Psalm 128

Day 15,- Ephesians 1

Day 16,-Ephesians 2

Day 17,-Ephesians 3

Day 18,-Ephesians 4

Day 19,-Ephesians 5

Day 20,- Ephesians 6

Day 21,-Jude (August 22)

Feel free to share this blog and the challenge with others! 

-JKB

JOIN THE 21 DAY BIBLE READING CHALLENGE!

J. Kie Bowman

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most disruptive and challenging years of our lives. The Coronavirus has changed us in ways we can immediately measure-like thousands of people getting sick or dying from the virus, as well as the economic devastation felt throughout the entire world. We have probably also been changed in ways we haven’t imagined yet. One thing we are sure of, however, is that all of us have been negatively affected. We are all in the midst of difficult days. 

One of the most unexpected changes affecting the Body of Christ was reported by the American Bible Society a few weeks ago-13 million Americans who were formerly read the Bible regularly, have stopped reading it all together since the Pandemic began. A director for the American Bible Society said, “What we saw between January and June was that 13 million people in America, who were previously really engaging meaningfully with Scripture, no longer were, and that was a serious drop-off.”

As a church, our ministries have always depended upon us being a Bible believing people, our classes committed to Bible teaching, and our pastors have all been focused on Bible preaching. All of those ministry commitments begin with a passion for individual Bible reading.  

We cannot reverse the inaction of 13 million people who have stopped reading the Word, but we can refuse to be guilty of it ourselves. So I’m offering our congregation a new Bible Reading Challenge 2020. I’m asking all of us to read one simple,  short chapter every day for the next 21 days beginning Sunday August 2  through Saturday August 22, 2020. Will you accept the challenge? 

All of the chapters I’ve chosen are easy and quick to read. Why did I choose short easy to read chapters? I want everyone to participate. Good habits like daily Bible reading can be established in 21 days and they can last a lifetime. There’s really no reason not to jump on board with this challenge. It all starts next Sunday August 2 and we will find multiple ways to communicate to our church family throughout the challenge. 

Thanks for being part of a Bible teaching, Bible believing, Bible reading church!

READING GUIDE

Day 1, -1 John 1 (August 2)

Day 2, -1 John 2

Day 3, -1 John 3

Day 4,- 1 John 4

Day 5, – 1 John 5

Day 6, – Psalm 120

Day 7, – Psalm 121

Day 8,- Psalm 122

Day 9,- Psalm 123

Day 10,-Psalm 124

Day 11,-Psalm 125

Day 12,-Psalm 126

Day 13,-Psalm 127

Day 14, -Psalm 128

Day 15,- Ephesians 1

Day 16,-Ephesians 2

Day 17,-Ephesians 3

Day 18,-Ephesians 4

Day 19,-Ephesians 5

Day 20,- Ephesians 6

Day 21,-Jude (August 22)

You can do it! Watch the 2 minute video below.

Kie Bowman 

WHY ARE TRANSLATIONS SO DIFFERENT?

J. KIE BOWMAN

Recently I’ve been asked the reason why Bible translations are often so different.  There are two primary explanations. The most significant reason has to do with the ancient manuscripts which the translations are based upon. The second reason relates to translation philosophy. Both reasons are important factors in determining the final product. Let’s quickly examine these two issues. 

TRANSLATION PHILOSOPHY 

A true translation, as opposed to a paraphrase like the Living Bible, is based on the original languages of Scripture. One of the goals of the translator is to communicate the ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek text into readable English (or whatever language the modern reader needs). It sounds simple enough, but there are numerous considerations to take into account when moving an ancient language into a modern one. 

For one thing, the most literal translation of the original language may not convey to the modern reader what was obvious to a reader 2000 years ago. Language is crammed with cultural assumptions and colloquiums, immediately relevant to the time in which it written, but sometimes confusing to readers generations later who are removed from the ancient cultures. 

Good teaching can clarify most of those issues, but translators have to decide if they want to begin that teaching process by building it into the translation itself. In other words, the exact literal words from an ancient language, moved to a modern language, may require some additional explanation to capture the true sense of the author’s intention.

Consider, for instance, the instructions of the Apostle Peter regarding our call to live holy lives. In the historic and beautiful King James Version the Apostle advised, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (1 Peter‬ ‭1:13‬)

‭Perhaps you’re a biblical scholar and you get the meaning, but to the average American, what do you suppose it would mean to “gird up the loins of your mind”? Is that particular vocabulary, which employs a literal, though idiomatic, expression from Greek the best way to communicate the truth of the ancient Greek passage? After all, what does “girding the loins” have to do with our thinking process? Our minds don’t have “loins.” Obviously, Peter is using a metaphor of some kind, urging us to be mentally prepared. 

In Peter’s time, when men wore long robes, they would frequently need to pull the robe up between their legs and tuck the long cloth in their belts to free their legs for running, fighting, or working. In other words, “girding their loins” was a way of preparing for physical activity. So using the literal phrase, “gird up the loins of your mind” does not necessarily easily communicate to a modern reader what Peter meant, and what his ancient readers would have understood as a figure of speech. Obviously, Peter is urging us to be mentally prepared. 

Compare the literal King James passage to a couple of modern translations. The English Standard Version says, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13). The New International Version takes a similar approach,  “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” ‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭1:13‬) 

So here are 3 translation choices for the same phrase: 

▪️“Gird up the loins of your mind” (KJV)

▪️“Preparing your minds for action” (ESV)

▪️“With minds that are alert and fully sober” (NIV)

The differences in translation reflect a different translation philosophy. The King James Version is literal and reflects a “word for word” literal translation. The modern versions instead usually choose a “thought for thought” translation, to give the modern reader the benefit of not only what Peter says, but also what he means. 

ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS 

The Bible is ancient literature. The oldest passages were written at least 3500 years ago and the most recent written passages are 2000 years old. We do not have any of the original manuscripts of any biblical book, but we have thousands of ancient copies in multiple languages. No other ancient literature in the world has anything close to the abundance of copies- from so close to the original writing- as the Bible enjoys. The translator’s  goal is to get back as close to the original manuscripts as possible so we can be confident of what the Bible’s authors originally wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

It isn’t unusual for someone to notice that the modern translations do not include all of the verses or phrases included in the King James Version. This obviously raises questions, especially for those of us who believe in the trustworthiness of Scripture to lead us to God and guide our lives. So, we are tempted to ask why the modern versions leave out verses. Perhaps the more important question is why does the King James Version add verses

Remember, the Bible is between 2000 and 3500 years old while the King James Version is only 500 years old. The translators seek to get as close to the original manuscripts as possible- not as close to the King James as possible. 

Think about how many things have changed since the early 17th century when the King James Version was translated. The 19th century, for instance, brought the world a flurry of advances unknown to previous generations. Medical advances increased lifespans and overall well being of entire populations. Travel became more affordable, faster, and safer than ever before. Communication options took giant strides forward. In the Western world there was an increase in almost every aspect of the quality of people’s lives, including a greater quest for global exploration and a desire for more scientific knowledge. Compared to any other time in history the 19th century was on the fast track to modernity. As a result, the science of archeological discovery enjoyed a “golden age.” This was true in nearly every field of enquiry- including the discovery of breathtakingly important ancient biblical manuscripts, even continuing into the 20th century. How does archeology affect biblical translation? 

The King James translators did not have access to the oldest manuscripts available, even though it is an older translation. Today, almost all of the modern translations are based on much older manuscripts- written much closer to the date of the originals- while the King James Version is based on newer and fewer manuscripts. Over time, as manuscripts were copied by hand, it is obvious some of the copyists, in some of the manuscripts, added sentences in a few places. The King James Version is based on these less reliable manuscripts. At first glance we may think we can never know, as a result, what the original manuscripts, written by the prophets and apostles, actually said. Nothing is further from the truth. The sheer abundance of manuscript evidence – the thousands of copies- leaves us today with the most reliable text any generation has ever had. We know what the Bible says. It is reflected in many of the modern English translations. 

WHAT ABOUT INERRANCY?

I am an inerrantist- in other words I believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is without error. Inerrancy is not a political or denominational position – it is a doctrinal position. So you may ask “If there are differences in the translations, how can one believe in inerrancy?” That’s a fair question with a direct answer. The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is a belief that the original manuscripts as the Spirit inspired them and as the prophets, apostles, and others wrote them, are completely without error. “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” ( 2 Peter 1:21) The transmission of the original text across the centuries has been incredibly pure and the sheer number of copies in numerous languages, along with ancient sermons and writings filled with enough Scripture to nearly reconstruct the Bible from those sources, demonstrate the reliability of our translations today.

We trust the Bible because it is the Word of God. Committed scholars, devoted to knowing the truth, have produced for us accurate Bible translations which are fully reliable. Whichever translation you choose remember, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

(2 Timothy 3:16-17)