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Feb 22, 2015

Spiritual Donuts

Spiritual Donuts

Passage: Matthew 13:11-46

Series: Spiritual Donuts

Category: Christian Walk

Keywords: discipline, donuts, fasting, jesus, prayer


What are Spiritual Disciplines? Should a Christian practice them? Why?


Sermon Outline

The Spiritual Donuts

John is out of town and he asked me to speak about spiritual disciplines today. One of the reasons that we might talk about spiritual disciplines now is because we’re entering into a season that leads up to the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the whole reason for our faith. The mainstream church, meaning Catholics and Protestants alike, call this season Lent. Lent is 40 days before Resurrection Sunday, what many people call Easter. During this time many people give up something and perform some type of fast. They might give up a certain type of food, the consumption of alcohol, media, whatever. The point is to deny oneself some pleasure to honor Jesus who ultimately denied his life for our sakes. Wikipedia has it like this: The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. And then on Resurrection Sunday as a celebration of Jesus coming back to life we get the things that we gave up back.


But self-denial, repentance, fasting, almsgiving, and such like that is just one aspect of the spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are not limited to a time of the year or a season. Spiritual disciplines are something that every believer should be practicing all the time. And when I say ‘should’ I mean, should do in order to grow in their faith. The spiritual disciplines are not a way to earn God’s love. I’ll talk about that more, later. And some spiritual disciplines are abstaining ones and they are the spiritual disciplines like the ones that are usually practiced in Lent. But there also disciplines of engagement like fellowship, worship, Bible reading and prayer to name a few. But before we define those I want to get into the "why." If you were to search in your Bible for a list of spiritual disciplines you're not gonna find them in a didactic teaching. You’re not going to find something that looks like this:


1 Gesticulations 5:3


And therefore ye shall practiceth the disciplines of your spiritual forefathers and they are obvious, fasting, praying, readingeth of the Bible, fellowshipness, and various other things that maketh thou feelest holy.


That's not there. I just made that up. What is in the Bible is this:


Matthew 6:33 (NASB95)

33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


To seek the kingdom of God is not something that is natural. It's supernatural. When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, he gave us his Holy Spirit and enabled us to seek the kingdom of God but we still have our flesh to contend with. Jesus says the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The remnants of our sinful nature are not inclined to pursue kingdom matters, not inclined to pursue God so we need to discipline ourselves to do this. Why would we need to do that? Why would we need to discipline ourselves to do it? Why wouldn't it seem just natural to pursue that which we want, Jesus?


Well let's first talk about the kingdom in question. What kind of kingdom is it? What does Jesus say about it?


Matthew 13:11–13 (NASB95)

11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

12 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.


So Jesus is going to tell us some stories so that we understand the Kingdom of God better.


Matthew 13:24–52 (NASB95)

Tares among Wheat

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

25 “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.

26 “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

27 “The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

28 “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

29 “But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

30 ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”


The Tares Explained

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,

38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;

39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

40 “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.

41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,

42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43 “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.


Now kingdom has subjects. I could suppose that everyone in this room is the subject of the kingdom that they are the wheat growing in the field that Jesus is talking about. But if this parable is something that Jesus is trying to teach about the kingdom that would imply that really only the Angels and God can tell which ones of us is really a subject of the kingdom and which ones of us aren't. So there's an aspect of the kingdom or the subjects of the kingdom that is undetectable. We can't always tell the difference between somebody who really believes in Jesus and someone who doesn't because we can't see the fruit right away, I mean the fruit of their lives. That's something that takes time to produce. So if we judge a kingdom by its subjects, its people, that can be difficult. Maybe you think you're smart and you think you've got that one figured out but it Jesus says it's hard to tell, then it's hard to tell and you probably don't know as much as you think you know.


The Mustard Seed

31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field;

32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”


So here we see the kingdom of God compared to something really small that doesn't look like much but is going to grow to something huge, something big enough to host the very beasts that would otherwise consume it.


The Leaven

33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”

34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.

35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open My mouth in parables;

I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.”


Here we see the kingdom of God growing in a way or by a process that seems undetectable. We see it growing but the people of that time probably didn't know how yeast worked they just knew that you had to add it to make the bread rise. So there's an unseen processes at work that make the kingdom grow.


Then Jesus starts to point to the value of the Kingdom


Hidden Treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

A Costly Pearl

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,

46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.


In these two illustrations we see that the kingdom is of great value and worth giving up everything for.


Those are just a few ways that Jesus describes the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13. He paints another picture of four different types of soil and another illustration involving net full of fish which is pretty same illustration of the wheat the tares.


To summarize the way that the kingdom of God is described by Jesus is a kingdom that is:

  • not easily discerned,
  •  is not for everybody (even though all are invited), the point is that not everybody who says "Lord, Lord" really believes in the Lord because it's by belief that we are made sons of God you believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
  • The process by which it grows is not easily detectable, 
  • being a subject of the kingdom is of the highest priority,
  •  and at first, the kingdom doesn't look like much


Those bullet points are a whole different sermon in themselves or maybe even a whole sermon series. One that I'm not really tackling today, The Kingdom God. But I do want to pull out a couple attributes of the kingdom just to focus on for this message. And they are that the kingdom is not easily discerned, the process by which it grows is not easily detectable, and that at first, the kingdom of God doesn't look like much. Another scriptural illustration of my point here is found in Matthew 11. The background here is that John the Baptist is in prison because he spoke out against King Herod, this isn’t Herod the Great but Herod Antipas. He basically rebuked Herod for committing adultery. So Herod had him put in prison. John is being persecuted for his faith, oppressed by the government and wondering is Jesus the Messiah or not?


1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.

2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples

3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:

5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

6 “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”


John the Baptist, who was a prophet, had trouble understanding the kingdom of God. So much of the time our expectations are so big that they're too small. John, probably like many, including the disciples were expecting the Messiah to be a revolutionary, like Lord of the Rings, the rReturn of the King who will restore the kingdom to its subjects… Israel. And Jesus basically replies with, “can't you see all the wonderful stuff that's happening, people who couldn't see now can see, people who couldn't walk, now can walk, people who had skin rotting off their bodies are now hand models, the way of eternal life is being made known to the people who wouldn't otherwise receive it – lives are being transformed, don't you get it?”


The kingdom of God is not of this world so, although it's measurable, it's not always measurable by worldly ways. That's hard for us. We like things we can see, touch, and measure. We love metrics.


And if the kingdom of God is like that how much more are the subjects of the kingdom of God going to be like that. That is to say, our spiritual growth, the process by which it happens, is not very often going to be easily discernible.


When I first moved to Spokane 16 years ago I got a job as a donut fryer at the Hillyard Safeway. I found out later that my grandfather also used to fry donuts while he was going to school and he could not eat doughnuts for the rest of his life. I still love donuts. And I also liked this job of being a donut fryer. I would start at three in the morning, I would make the old-fashioned cake donuts, donut holes, fry the raised donuts, glaze them, frost them, fill them, bake off the pastries, the bagels and eventually the French bread. I would get off at 7 AM and be in John McMath's survey of the Old Testament by a.. I think it was 730 or 755 or something like and I would still be in my Baker whites and with donut dough and stuff on my arms. I'd fall asleep in class throughout the day because I'd been up since 2 o'clock in the morning. Before I fell asleep they’d be talking about Jesus and that snap awake and they were talking about some guy named eisegesis.


I like the job because I had a rhythm to it and I got to work by myself. There was a process. I would come in turn on the lights, the donut fryer, the proof box, mix the cake donut dough and while that was going I would put the raised donuts, the rack of them, into the proof box. Then I would, when the dough was done mixing, put the old-fashioned cake donut dough into the crank then I would crank the dough into little rings into the grease. I had a pair of donut sticks that looked like drumsticks and I would flip the doughnuts after they started to split and you did two at a time. Let them cook in the grease a while, pull the donuts out let them drip, crank another batch in there. Move the split donuts to the Glazer, slide them onto the Glazer. Get rid of the rack glaze those doughnuts flip the donuts in the grease and on and on after about an hour so pull the first batch of raised donuts in put another batch of raised donuts in. Cinnamon sugar some of the old-fashioned and start frying off the raised donuts. One rack of raised donuts then two racks raised donuts,


Put a rack of bagels in the proof box, ice and fill the raised donuts, proof the pastries, fill the pastries, bake the bagels in the walk-in oven, bake the pastries, glaze the pastries, prep the cinnamon rolls. The point is, I had all these tasks to do that just Me moving around the kitchen by myself but the real neat thing about all this was I got to see the fruits of my labor I put the donuts or the pastries on it gold tray and I took them out and put them in the display case for everybody to see, appreciate and enjoy. My donuts did not change the world they just brought smiles to people's faces and I felt like I accomplished something. We like that, we like to do work where we can see the fruits of our labors.  I think that is one of the reasons why the apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to work with their hands


1 Thessalonians 4:11–12 (NASB95)

  11      and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,

  12      so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.


It's a good thing to see the fruit of your labor, it's tangible. Now, donut frying isn't rocket science but it did take a while to pick up the skills. Handling those donut sticks wasn't very easy at first and I messed quite a few donuts up. I burned to quite a few. Filling a Bismark donut with custard wasn't without its problems. If I didn't let that Bismark rise enough I couldn't get the custard in ir I might put too much and burst out the side. I’d burn myself with the grease or the door of the walk-in oven. Apparently if you open the thing too fast it bounces back and comes back in hits you in the arm. It's a 500° oven, the metal gets hot. And no matter what your idiot boss says do not put butter on a burn. So even to see something that's tangible, to see the reward for my labor took a bit of toil. And that's the way of the world. The Safeway world anyway.


Now, what if one day I went into my job at two or three in the morning and my boss, Larry, tells me that we were going to make some different donuts. We’re going to make magical donuts. And he gets a bag of cake donut mix and he starts pouring it in the mixer but I don't see anything coming out of the bag. He assures me that invisible donut mix is going into that bowl. And then Larry poured in some invisible water and I could hear it splashing around in their but I can't see it. He's flipping the donuts in the grease and I see him splashing about in the grease but I don't see any donuts in there. And we go through this process with all the magical donuts and I still can't see anything. Larry places these magical donuts very carefully, licking his fingers afterwards, and putting them on the gold trays and out in the display case. Fortunately for my sanity, the customers cannot see the doughnuts and they complain and refuse to buy these "magical donuts" but Larry insists that I keep making these magical donuts and he corrects me when I'm working with the invisible ingredients, “ no-no you got a hold on like this he says to me.” It seems ridiculous but I go through with it and I prepare two racks of magical donuts. And when I come back in the work the next day he's there to make sure I make the magical donuts and he says to me "had to throw away all those magical donuts yesterday because nobody would buy them." So I go out it for another four hours and make these magical donuts and maybe even a humor Larry by saying who these ones look good. And then as I'm leaving, I look back at the display case and the display case is full of donuts that I can see. And they look delicious and people rush to buy them from all over Spokane.


Maybe you see my point. Spiritual disciplines are tools that help produce Christ likeness in us. But the measurement and the process of growth that we experience is not always visible right away. Sometimes it is but very often it doesn't feel like it or look like it on the outside. And you ask, "where are these spiritual donuts I'm making?" If you're like me as a young believer, I took on a three day food fast but then gorged at the end. What good did that do? Why waste the time and effort? Eventually I learned, it's not just about what you give up, but what you take in in exchange for what you give up. Learning stuff like that takes practice, disciplined practice.


What are the actual spiritual disciplines? If we don't get them from a list in the Bible how are they from the Bible? They are based on principles taught in Scripture and practiced in Scripture. Some of them, you already practice. The fact that you are here instead of sleeping in and watching TV, is a spiritual discipline. It's become your custom, your habit, but it still started off as a spiritual discipline. And it's based on Scripture, Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”


The above could be categorized as the discipline of fellowship, an engagement spiritual discipline. Which brings up the point there are generally two categories of spiritual discipline, and those of engagement and those of disengagement. And it's helpful to not think of them as one or the other as opposed to hand-in-hand. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me to show you.


This is a list of spiritual disciplines, classified and put together by the late Dallas Willard. He puts them into categories: disciplines of abstinence or disengagement if you will and disciplines of engagement


Disciplines of Abstinence:

Solitude: The practice of spending time without any others or any distractions.

Silence: No noise or conversation. Just you and God.

Fasting: Abstain from food, media, entertainment, or anything else that occupies your time.

Frugality: limit your spending to only what you need

Chastity: 1 Corinthians 7:8, “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a

limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again,

so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Secrecy: Do not allow anyone to know of the deeds you do or the money you give in order to

avoid doing them for the wrong motivations. Only God needs to know.

Sacrifice: Stretch your sense of what you can do without for the sake of those who have less.


Disciplines of Engagement:

Study: Memorize Scripture and expand your universe of biblical study helps.

Worship: Engage in corporate worship and include worship in your own prayer time.

Celebration: Practice being grateful and thankful both in your own relationship with Christ and

with other believers. Express encouragement and thankfulness to others.

Service: Give your time to the church and/or to others. Ponder tithing your time.

Prayer: Take deliberate steps to pray regularly and with purpose. Praying through the Psalms

is a good way to increase your “prayer vocabulary.”

Fellowship: Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,but let us encourage one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Confession: Practice confessing your sins to trusted people who will pray with you and be spiritual allies.

Submission: Submit to the proper people in the proper ways—fight against the sin of pride.


This is not necessarily a comprehensive list because like I said there isn't a list in the Bible, these are based on principles that we learn in Scripture. And because of that you could probably come up with a whole bunch more or a bunch of variations of them. What they are not. They are not another set a rules that you need to follow to be a better Christian. This isn’t a method by which you earn more of God’s love. If anything, these are ways that you get to know God better and love him more. Why call it a discipline then? You don’t have to. Some don’t. You can all it a spiritual practice. You call it dating Jesus. In any case, you’re doing something in an effort draw closer to your savior, Jesus Christ, and grow in that relationship. When I was dating Brenda, we took Rhumba lessons. Or, you can call them Spiritual Donuts. I think one of the reasons Spiritual Disciplines is used is because of what the Apostle Paul write in the Bible.


The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9

1 Corinthians 9:26–27 (KJV 1900) 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

This is one of those instances where the King James Version is to be preferred. Because he uses the term ‘castaway.’ Other versions use the term disqualified “I won’t get the prize.” And one could easily interpret that to mean, I won’t have God’s love, I won’t make it to heaven. That’s not what Paul meant. It would be against the greater body of his teaching.

No, if you don’t practice spiritual disciplines, you will be a castaway tossed about by the waves of the world. You know which end is up but you’ll still have God’s love and His salvation. It doesn’t take your effort to be saved but it does take effort and discipline to live this Christian life well and to get the most out of it. Do you want to be a castaway? Or do you want to be dialed in to God’s good plan for your life.


I just really want to emphasize that Spiritual Disciplines are not a way for you to be more saved or more loved or to experience more favor from God. They are ways for a believer to know and love God more. They are ways to make more room for God to work in their lives.



And like I said before you probably already practice some of these, you should be, they should be part of your life and not saved for a special time of the year. We just call them spiritual disciplines but when I first became a Christian I never heard that word. I just heard, “Eric if you want to grow in your faith you got to be in the word every day.” Pastor Mike Finizio he was from Jersey, New Jersey that is, not the old one. He didn't use the word spiritual discipline but that's what I did. I got up extra early and I started reading my Bible every day. That would be a discipline of engagement. But you should note that to practice this discipline of engagement I also had to practice a discipline of disengagement. To pull off this Bible study I needed to give up something that would normally take up that time. I had to get up a little early, so in a sense I was disengaging or abstaining  from sleep. I'll Give you another example of this type of thing. A friend of mine usually abstains from alcohol consumption Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. When he does drink he has maybe a couple of beers or a glass or two of wine is not an alcoholic. But if you ask him why he abstains on just those days he'll tell you that if he has even a beer on a Sunday through Thursday he has trouble getting up in the morning and it makes it harder for him to participate in his morning devotions. If you were to ask him about his discipline of abstaining from alcohol five days a week he would say it's not a spiritual discipline so much as it is a habit so that he can have his spiritual discipline of devotion in the morning. Now, there's two spiritual disciplines there, one of engagement (bible reading devotions), but to allow for the one of engagement is one of abstinence.


Frugality, not spending money outside your own needs. Well where are you going to put this money that you're saving, in a jar to spend it on what you really want to spend it on later. That's not so much a frugality that's delayed gratification. Why not add an engagement activity like giving that money to the poor or cause or to your faith pledge, etc. And by this chart that becomes the discipline of sacrifice. Fine. The point I'm making is that if you just abstain from something you're just abstaining from something. You need to fill that void with God. If you fast you should also pray while your fasting. If you look it up in Scripture you'll see that fasting and praying pretty much always go hand-in-hand. If you give up sweets for Lent but don't take on a godly habit like prayer or choosing to be sweet to other people, it's just a diet. Self-denial is not just inactivity inasmuch as Jesus's self-denial is not merely inactivity. So if you take on a discipline of abstinence you should take on one of engagement.

What good is it to take on the discipline of confession if you're not also taking on the discipline of repentance? The relationship between the disciplines of abstinence and engagement is that you're getting rid of something to make room, more room for God.


But let's focus few of these. Some are obvious like solitude. Jesus practiced this one, he got away from people so he could pray. Silence, so you can listen. Fasting. Let's open this one up for a little bit. Now in the Bible fasting means abstaining from food or certain types of food. Fasting is usually associated with prayer but it's also sometimes associated with mourning. Now many of the spiritual disciplines aren’t specifically taught in Scripture. They're usually there by example but Jesus actually does teach a little bit about fasting. Let’s get to the bottom of this.


Matthew 6:16–18 (NASB95)

Fasting; The True Treasure; Wealth (Mammon)

  16       “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

  17      “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face

  18      so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.


The way I've usually heard this taught is most unfortunate. I'm also guilty but it usually emphasize that Jesus says whenever you fast which is implying you will fast, oh yes you will fast. It's almost like when he says it is like this, and when you fast, giving that big warning eye. Now, you need to understand that when he was talking to these people, fasting was practiced by the people he was talking to and he wasn't talking to a bunch of type II diabetics or people that fed on a Western diet that consisted of processed foods, white sugar, genetically modified organisms, fruits and vegetables grown in nutrient depleted soil, they had a kosher diet that was high in nutrients. There was nothing labeled as organic because everything just was organic. When they did eat, the nutrition they got from the food would carry through any fast that they undertook. Fasting was part of their calendar. There were fasts to be practiced at certain times of the year. It was already a part of their lives. It’s like going to the gym. If you try to go to gym and work out hard for an hour and half when you don’t normally work out, you’re not likely to go to that gym again. Fasting is the same. The first few times you try a food fast, you have tendency to think of food all the time and not God. It’s a discipline, you have to work at it regularly if you’re going to work at it at all. The people that Jesus was talking to were already working at it. It was already a part of the fabric of their lives. He was giving them further instruction on it, not setting up another rule to follow. Something else to consider is: how many Jewish cuisine restaurants can you name off the top of your head in Spokane Washington? That's what I thought. You know maybe Jewish food wasn't that good so taking a vacation from it wasn't that bad of an idea. What I want you to take away from this apart from a few giggles is that if you got the impression that you are sinning by not fasting from food you got the wrong impression. Jesus was talking to people whose custom it was the fast.  To take that to imply something other than what it says is wrong.


It's still good idea to deny yourself food, and to fast or abstain from other things liketypes of recreation, or media for a time. Maybe just a fast from Facebook would be a good idea. Why media? Watch this. I was at a local eatery recently, it wasn't Jewish cuisine, and this show was on. It's a compilation of what are called fail videos. What they are is videos where someone fails in a way that seems comic. Watch the clip.


Many of us laugh at this stuff all the time. America's Funniest Home Video had a lot of these types of videos. Those ones were pretty tame but often you'll see compilation of video clips on youtube where there is serious property damage or the person doesn't get up laughing after they have the accident. Laughing at the misfortune of others. There is a German word for it; Schadenfreude (/ˈʃɑːdənfrɔɪdə/; German: [ˈʃaːdn̩ˌfʀɔɪ̯də] ( listen)) is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.[1] This word is taken from German and literally means 'harm-joy.' It is the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune. 


And Terry Crews makes it seem as if we're all just really laughing at ourselves. Which is great for marketing. And I'm guilty of enjoying 'fail videos' as are many in this room. It came into sharper relief when I saw a clip entitled where the premise was a man was on a dock by seaside with a baby doll in a stroller. He asks passersby to photograph he and his baby. While he's posing, he had it set up so that a rope is attached to the stroller and someone pulls the stroller into the water. The video is of the people reacting to the situation and then he lets them in on it. I didn't actually find it funny, but I also didn't find it distasteful. Until I read some of the comments below, "my baby drowned in pool, that's not funny." "My brother drowned in the ocean, you should be ashamed of yourself." etc. It made me realize how desensitized I'd become. Maybe I didn't laugh but neither did I turn away in disgust. Why? Because we're inundated with media and we are forced to make thousands of value judgments in a day. After a while, even if our values aren't adversely affected they are at least numbed. We accept it as the status quo, the new normal. Who knows what can eventually become of that.


And if you're still not getting it, I'll ask the question, what does Schadenfreude (laughing at another's misfortune) have to do with loving your neighbor as yourself? You can re-sensitize yourself with a media fast.


Back to Spiritual Donuts


We already talked frugality a little bit. Chastity is abstaining from normal, healthy sexual relations in the context of Biblically defined marriage between one man and one woman. Abstaining from sexual relations that are outside that definition of marriage is just healthy, right living, and shouldn’t be regarded as special. I won’t call it normal because normal just a setting on the dryer anymore. This one about chastity, though, it should be noted, is a vote, mutual consent type deal. Sex should not be used as weapon or a punishment.

Secrecy. Again this one goes along with the engagement activity they are being secret about.

Sacrifice is self-explanatory and contains with the a component of engagement.


Study. It could be Scripture or it could be other texts that are biblically inspired that help you draw closer to God. It might mean giving up Stephen King for a little bit.

Worship. It doesn’t have to be music or singing it can be other expressions of declaring God’s worth ship. It can be just saying his praises aloud, of course singing, writing a poem, yelling God’s praises from the top of the waterfall in Yosemite and annoying all the other hikers. You get the picture.

Celebration. Instead of posting on Facebook how disappointed you are in our government about whatever, post how thankful you are to God for whatever. Or make it your habit of writing down several things that you are thankful each day.

Service. What can you give up to make time to serve God?

Prayer. It’s not just for breakfast anymore. I like the suggestion about praying through the Psalms to increase your “prayer vocabulary.”

Fellowship. You’re already doing that one. Check that one off the list.

Confession. Again, I think this one goes hand-in-hand with repentance.

Submission. Oh I hate this one and I also hate fasting, just saying. I fast occasionally. The submission thing is hard because we might think oh yes I can submit to God but what if submitting God means submitting to another human being who’s much more obviously fallible. If God says that he can use children to shame the wise I think it also means that he can use somebody you don’t respect to make you wise.


So, my challenge to you is to pick a pairing of these. Pick a discipline of disengagement and pick a discipline of engagement that you aren’t currently practicing.