Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Few people would be surprised to learn that the institution of marriage is under severe criticism (at least in the West). Divorces are common, regardless of religious affiliation. Celebrities often deride marriage as passé and prohibitive.
For example, here is an excerpt from a recent article of how divorce is really unnecessary if people would just stop getting married. Why is marriage so difficult or impossible? Because we humans evolved to live long lives. . .
Dr. Habib Sadeghi & Dr. Sherry Sami on Conscious Uncoupling
During the upper Paleolithic period of human history (roughly 50,000BC to 10,000BC) the average human life expectancy at birth was 33.[i] By 1900, U.S. life expectancy was only 46 for men, and 48 for women. Today, it’s 76 and 81 respectively.[ii] During the 52,000 years between our Paleolithic ancestors and the dawn of the 20th Century, life expectancy rose just 15 years. In the last 114 years, it’s increased by 43 years for men, and 48 years for women.
What does this have to do with divorce rates? For the vast majority of history, humans lived relatively short lives—and accordingly, they weren’t in relationships with the same person for 25 to 50 years. Modern society adheres to the concept that marriage should be lifelong; but when we’re living three lifetimes compared to early humans, perhaps we need to redefine the construct. Social research suggests that because we’re living so long, most people will have two or three significant long-term relationships in their lifetime.
To put in plainly, as divorce rates indicate, human beings haven’t been able to fully adapt to our skyrocketing life expectancy. Our biology and psychology aren’t set up to be with one person for four, five, or six decades. This is not to suggest that there aren’t couples who happily make these milestones—we all hope that we’re one of them. Everyone enters into a marriage with the good intention to go all the way, but this sort of longevity is the exception, rather than the rule. It’s important to remember too, that just because someone is still married doesn’t mean they’re happy or that the relationship is fulfilling. To that end, living happily ever after for the length of a 21st century lifetime should not be the yardstick by which we define a successful intimate relationship: This is an important consideration as we reform the concept of divorce.
You really ought to read the whole article. There are numerous things one might say in response. I just want to highlight one thing.
What underpins the entire article, of course, is a particular worldview called Naturalism. These two doctors use expressions like, “redefine the construct” and “reform the concept of divorce” deliberately. Their worldview demands it. Their beliefs are the natural, logical outworking of Naturalism.
What is the worldview? What is Naturalism? Simply put, Naturalism is the belief that the physical world is all that exists. The universe, and everything that occurs in it, is the product of blind, amoral forces at work.
Humans, including all their “thoughts,” are merely dancing to the tune of their own DNA (something evolutionist Richard Dawkins says). In such a worldview, we are simply evolved primates behaving according to socially-constructed “morals” and customs that can change at any time the group decides it's time to change. What is “right” is what the herd wants; what is “wrong” is what the herd doesn't want.
This point really needs to sink in: in Naturalism, the word “good” means, “what helps creatures/the species to survive”; the word “bad” means, “what hurts creatures/the species.” What they most certainly do not mean by “good and bad” is that which conforms to the objective Moral Law given by God.
Therefore, everything in life that humans do is up to the herd. Everything. Want to get married? Sure, just don’t hurt other creatures. Want to take drugs? Sure, just don’t hurt other creatures. This is why we hear over and over and over again the same dictum by any teenager, “But I’m not hurting anyone!”
See why this is so powerful to so many people? Because in that worldview, “not hurting anyone” is the only real thing that is “bad” (because it hurts the survival of creatures/the species.) If one assumes the Naturalistic worldview, there is nothing "wrong" with redefining anything whatsoever, just as long as it doesn’t hurt the species.
Now, assuming their worldview, fill in the blank:
· Is divorce causing you pain? Then don’t get married.
· Is marriage causing you pain? Then get divorced.
· Is not being married to your love causing you pain? Then get married.
· Is not marrying your gay lover causing you pain? Then get married.
· Is not marrying all the people you want causing you pain? Then have multiple lovers and/or be polygamous.
· What if my country doesn’t allow me to get married? Then fight to have your “rights” heard and accepted.
· But, what if other crackpots and fundamentalists who worship an ancient book want to stop me? Then fight even harder. Educate them: they’re just ignorant. That’s all. They haven’t evolved yet. (Now do you see how really backwoods and stupid Christians come across; since, in their view, we still hold to beliefs that our very ancient superstitious ancestors believed?)
Remember, in Naturalism, everything humans do to one another is either acceptable or not acceptable based on subjective preferences. It’s no different than deciding which flavor of ice cream society should allow you to eat.
For the doctors in the article, their evidence for a longer human life span demonstrates (to them) that humans have changed, so their social constructs must change too.
“Get on board, people! You’re so backwards! Progress! Progress! Change! Don’t be caught in the history books as stupid and unenlightened!”
Marriage, social etiquette, pedophilia, polyamory, bestiality—whatever—it’s just a social construct. And social constructs can change, and should change, whenever that belief or practice impedes on the survival of the society.
In their worldview, everything I’ve just said is perfectly logical and natural.
The question to ask next is, of course. . .
Monday, March 24, 2014
I’m just making some reflections on the role of some church leaders.
I remember listening to a well-respected preacher on the radio one day. He sounded very "Baptist" -- long, slow vowels when saying "Gawd," raising and lowering his voice frequently to sound dramatic, and other such tricks. He is dead now, but at the time, he was the leader of a large congregation. He would wear nice, expensive suits. His messages were based, in general, upon the Bible.
I must have seen a hundred similar preachers in my lifetime. I know that there are people who are very well-known for their preaching ability. When I was in my MDiv program, I remember several professors speaking of people like Tom Long as almost superhuman (Tom Long is a respected preacher and has written books on the subject).
I was raised hearing all my life that the reason we dress up on Sundays is because we are giving God our very best. I remember when a former Pastor of mine called for a "casual Sunday" once a year. I always wanted to ask him, "What gives you the authority to tell people they can't give God their best?"
I think preachers should be good. By "good," I mean that preachers should do two salient things: (1) be very well-prepared and (2) speak conversationally to me about the Kingdom of God. I got all dressed up and drove to church to hear a word from God. I want to be transformed a little bit more in to the citizen of the Kingdom of God that I will be after death. I want to be reminded that this is not my home. I don't care about keeping a "positive attitude." I don't care about the weather or a comedic quip. I don't care if you're clever or if you think you're clever; I care if God will speak through you.
I remember hearing about a huge event on my local Christian radio station several years ago. It was an entire conference of—get this—worship leaders. And the advertisements would list some of the “big” names and speak of them as the “best worship leaders today in America.” Absolutely amazing!
Imagine bringing in 125 tour guides from Israel and promoting the event as “the biggest gathering of tour guides who are from Israel.” Who would give a rip? I mean, really: who would give the slightest rip if a bunch of tour guides showed up? I couldn't care less if they are the “best” (though they shouldn't be incompetent).
What I need them to do is to show me the Holy Land.
I don't go all the way to Israel to interview the tour guide. Imagine how stupid that would be.
Make no mistake about it: you, worship leader or preacher, are simply a means-to-an-end. You are not the goal. If your job is done right, I'll forget you're there and time travel to the presence of God (= worship leader) or the first century (= preacher). I'll experience an entirely different country.
I didn't come here to praise you. You're not the point. If you think you're the point, then you are the last person who needs to lead me in worship or in the Bible.
I've never heard of anyone running down the aisle to accept Jesus because the guitarist played like a rock star, the preacher could make "Gawd" a three syllable word, or because the PowerPoint was so colorful.
I simply can't get away from the fact that if Jesus entered into nearly every single church, with their fine-talking, slick-dressed, confident preachers, He would be asked to leave. “Uh . . . sorry sir. You need to dress up for the Lord's house. You can't come in here dressed like this. Come back Monday morning and see a low-level minister and we'll see if we can get you some help.”
Lord, I sure hope that you'd be welcome in my church. And I hope that if You would be kicked out, I would have the guts to walk out with you.
Several Jews surrounding the Jerusalem landscape in the first century believed in the same type of thing: if we play dress up, call it "reverence," then it really must BE reverence. "A cave for bandits" is what Jesus called the Temple. They had the right talk, the right look, the nicest clothes (in order to give their “best” for God), and the most notable reputations as knowing God's will. And they were failures.
They were failures. Their attempts at "reverence" simply turned into pompous pride.
I like preachers who are nice orators, sure. I like worship leaders who actually are trained in music theory, of course. I am most certainly not advocating that we should have a bunch of ignorant Johnny-come-latelies trying to do a "grown-up's" job.
Yet, I can't get over the haunting suspicion that thousands of churches have driven themselves into the exact same place the Jerusalem leadership found itself. How do we know if we're failing in our role? It's simple: ask this one question:
“When a person leaves the sermon, song, or lesson, who do they talk about the most?” Is it Jesus? Or the tour guide?
If you’re reading this, and you’re a worship leader or preacher/teacher, what are you doing right now in your church to promote yourself?
Really, deep down where only God knows the truth: what would make you more happy? For you to lead music or preach behind a curtain—where no one could recognize you or give you credit—but with your help, people are transported to another country; or you stand in the spotlight, receive attention and kudos, but distract people with your show?
When a person leaves the sermon, song, or lesson, who do they talk about the most? Is it Jesus? Or the tour guide? We can't control what people talk about. But, we can sure influence their decision.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Thanks for the email. Great questions. Let me respond to your email in blue. . .
but anyways, I have some questions.. Been trying to figure out how to word it.. You have said in the past everyone gets the same blessings. there is no choosing by god. everyone gets life, sunlight etc. Well, kinda’. Jesus said in Matt 5:45 that the Father sends the “sun” and the “rain” on the righteous and unrighteous. That is, God, to some degree, takes care of people who love Him and those that don’t. Jesus’s point is that we, too, must take care of those who don’t love us. So, to be clear, not “everyone gets the same blessings,” as you said in your email, since the Bible never says that (some people get healed of sicknesses, others don’t…some get demons removed, others don’t…etc.). Therefore, God sustains people in the Laws of Nature equally, but not everyone receives the same “blessings.”
Ive always heard, Give yourself to god, devote your life and he will bless you with everything you need, job, money. .. I believe you have heard that. Praise Jesus, you’ve never heard that from me! :) This is a big topic but I will only say a little bit. I know this kind of awful, erroneous theology is being preached and taught in many areas of the Church at large. It’s simply NOT true that we will receive everything we need. There are Christians around the globe, right now, that are starving to death. God doesn’t miraculously drop food from Heaven. He wants us humans to take care of them. And, since we don’t, they are dying. Moreover, Christians can go without jobs for years. Of course, Christians die in car wrecks and as cancer victims each day. All of these people “needed” healing and protection! Therefore, I find this statement to be true about God’s provision (based on the Bible): If God wants you to have it, then you will. And no matter what, we shouldn’t worry about, or worship, our money or “stuff.” Keep a laser focus on living just like Jesus in the reign of God and let the consequences be left to God.
well, hmmm, lets see.. not good with wording my thoughts. have too many thoughts at once I think. Lets say this.. I know a person, someone I grew up with, he is married, 5 kids, Good job, make very good pay. He doesnt follow god, he rarely goes to church, He lies alot, cheats, steals and is unfaithful to his wife .. Yet, seems to always have the best luck with everything, seems nothing but good always happens to him. Everything always seems to go his way. is it just Luck? does he still get blessing even though he lives life with major sin? I hear you brother! But, come on bud—this guy’s not “lucky” at all! He sounds like he has no character, no moral core, and no saving relationship with God! This is guy is to be very pitied! He doesn’t sound lucky or blessed at all. It sounds like He’s headed for a terrible judgment by God! It reminds me of what the Psalmist says in 37:
1 Do not fret when wicked men seem to succeed! Do not envy evildoers!
2 For they will quickly dry up like grass, and wither away like plants.
3 Trust in the LORD and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity!
4 Then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers.
5 Commit your future to the LORD! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf.
6 He will vindicate you in broad daylight, and publicly defend your just cause.
7 Wait patiently for the LORD! Wait confidently for him! Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner, a man who carries out wicked schemes!
(Psa 37:1-7 NET)
Remember, to say someone is “blessed” in the Bible often means something like, “favored by God.” This guy doesn’t sound “blessed.” Why? Let’s think about this for a moment.
God rules over the universe by:
(1) special acts called “miracles”;
(2) communicating with people through the Holy Spirit to do certain things called “inspiration”;
(3) the Laws of Nature (e.g., physical forces like gravity – like if I don’t jump off a roof my legs won’t get broken; and biological mechanisms – like if a man and woman have sex, they are likely to have children);
(4) various “laws of life” in various spheres like money, relationships, etc. (e.g., If I get an education and have a good job interview, then it’s likely I will receive a job. If I work hard, it’s likely I’ll stay at my job and my pay will increase. Or, if I practice good communication and act trustworthy, then my marriage will likely be healthy. Etc….)
See my point? Any Satan worshipper, Buddhist, atheist, rapist, pedophile, etc. will have “success” in getting married, having kids, and having a job if they follow the Laws of Nature and the “laws of life” properly. Receiving these kinds of things aren’t miraculous gifts from God. (Now, I DO believe that God can give these things, and when He does, I would consider that a “blessing.” But that is the exception, not the rule.)
So, at this point, I really want to encourage you to think very clearly about Jesus in the New Testament and what He teaches considering being “blessed.” You and I must understand and implement the teachings of Jesus. We must never ever substitute what our society says is “successful” with what God declares is “successful.” Sometimes they are the same; usually they are not the same. We must let Jesus’s values be our values and make what He taught the only, entire measure of success! Notice how Jesus never once says that getting a job or having children has anything to do with being “blessed” by God. Go read Matt 5-7 again and see if anything Jesus says in that text sounds like your friend. If not, then that man isn’t “blessed” at all. He’s just obeying the Laws of Nature and following (to some degree) the rules of life and having success. That’s all. His spiritual condition sounds incredibly glim. He needs Jesus!
Now, I certainly can relate to what I think you’re feeling: “It’s not fair! This guy shouldn’t be having success at all because he’s rotten to the core!” And with that sentiment, I completely concur! What do we do then? How do we deal with those feelings towards other people? We tell God about our feelings. We talk about them with friends. We process the emotions. And ultimately, we don’t let our feelings dictate our behavior: we obey Jesus, who said to demonstrate love to the righteous and the unrighteous because the Father demonstrates care for everyone (Matt 5:43-48; also see texts like Romans 12). Of course, loving the unrighteous involves praying for them, taking good care of them, and talking about Jesus with them.
when there is people, I would say like me, who lots of times, what ever is the worst that could happen does. Like murphys law " anything that can go wrong will" then times it by 2.. Im not saying I have a horrible life. Im happy with what i do have, Wife, Family who we all love each other, I have a job, and car. and 3 annoying dogs.. that I love even though they annoy me. I read your last blog "Im a christian because it makes me happy" I understand that Life is unfair, and even if we love god, live in his way bad things will still happen. In case i confused you on what my question is.. I guess , is there just some people that are lucky and some unlucky? do you beleive in luck? I’m sure you know what I’d say about this now (after that last long rant). Technically, no—I don’t believe in “luck.” I believe that if you obey/follow the Laws of Nature and “laws of life,” you’re very likely to have success. Otherwise, God either inspires a person to offer someone a job, house, pay raise, etc. or God does a miracle of some sort. (Can God inspire a non-Christian or perform a miracle for them? Yes! He does it all the time in the Bible.)
also , I watched the Video on your blog by Nabeel Qureshi.. was awesome.. I have a couple of muslim friends who we always joke about each others faith, even though we are playing.. we are also kinda bashing on each other on what we beleive each others faith is. I really want to show him this video. Great! I think Nabeel’s testimony is excellent (e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaYR4G7oRiw) If I were you, I’d certainly recommend the video. If he bites, then perhaps you can offer to watch a video that he suggests. It’ll show you’re open-minded and might start a great conversation!
Keep it up brother! If I can help in any way more, let me know.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
Nearly every Christian I’ve met speaks of Christianity in a utilitarian way. That is, Christians are Christians because it “works”: it makes you feel happy; it gives you hope; it gives you joy; it gives you community; it makes you rich; it gives you blessings.
Of course, because they believe this, when they speak of Christianity with others, they “sell” Christianity in utilitarian terms: “Don’t you want to be happy?” “Don’t you want to go to heaven?”
You see what that does? (And this is a really big deal) It makes Christianity a subjective preference.
For example, replace “Christianity” with any hobby.
Bob = “Why did you start jogging?”
You = “Oh…because it makes me happy. It gives me joy. It gives me hope that my body will last longer.”
Bob = “Huh. Well, I get all those things met by swimming.”
You = “Yeah, it’s a very personal choice in life.”
Bob = “Huh.”
You = “But, it’s really important that you consider taking up jogging. It’ll make you happy too.”
Bob = “No thanks. Again, I’m already happy enough.”
Here, jogging = Christianity. Replace jogging with any other “personal practice.” Eating chocolate. Reading books. Whatever.
And therein lays the chief problem: Christianity is not a subjective preference.
Moreover, people will never adopt a new subjective preference if they already get that need met.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Like I said in the beginning, many, many, many people choose to be a Christian because it meets certain needs. I know that people do it; I’m suggesting that this should not be a reason to become a Christian.
Does this mean that Christianity can’t provide certain needs? Of course not. As a Christian, I do receive hope, joy, etc. from Christianity. But, that’s not why I’m a Christian.
I’m a Christian because it’s true. That is, Christianity is a religion (yes, it is; it’s not just a “relationship”) with plenty of facts that are either true or false. For example, it is simply irrelevant what joy, happiness, or peace I receive from the fact that Jesus existed, ushered the Kingdom of God, died on the cross, offering me liberation from evil and forgiveness, and was raised to new life as living Lord.
These facts are objectively true. “Objective” means “true, independent of my personal preference.” Think of 2+2=4. It is simply irrelevant what peripheral emotional needs get met from that fact. At bare minimum, I believe 2+2=4 because it’s true. After I accept that fact, I want to teach other people that 2+2=4. Why? Because I choose to believe things that are true and I assume you also want to believe things are true.
Christianity is either true or false. What emotional needs I get met from Christianity are important, yes, but they are what happen after I come to accept the truth of Christianity.
Imagine this crazy example:
You =“David, why did you get married to Elaine?”
Me = “Oh, because I knew that getting married would make me happy, give me joy, and hope that life could get better.
You = “So you got married to have your emotional needs met.”
Me = “Sure. Absolutely.”
You = “So, the reason you got married was that you could use your wife for your emotional needs.”
Me = “Yes, that’s right. In fact, you too should get married to get your needs met.”
Wow. Imagine using my wife and my marriage just so that my own needs get met. So many people I’ve met use God in the exact same way. And guess what happens when trauma and disaster strike? (And I know this from years of counseling) They come to me in tears, wondering why God “has failed them” and they leave their feckless faith. This is so unfortunate. (Of course, I care deeply for their pain. My point is that their “leaving the faith” is really about having false expectations that Christianity was supposed to make certain they were blessed, rich, happy, etc.) Their version of Christianity “didn’t work.” So, they drop that habit as if it were a failed diet plan.
People will always abandon a subjective preference when it no longer works for them.
People will always abandon a subjective preference when it no longer works for them.
I’m not saying any of this to attempt to shame you. I’m writing this in the hopes that you and I can agree together to stop saying that people should become Christians because it meets certain needs.
You = “David, are you a Christian?”
Me = “Yes. I sure am.”
You = “Why?”
Me = “Great question. I’m a Christian because Christianity is true. In my life, I do my best to commit to things that are true. What about you? Do you choose to adopt things that are true in life?”
You = “True? What makes it true? I thought religion was a personal choice.”
Me = “I would love to tell you why it’s true. . .”
Want a tip? Stop using language like, “I feel like Christianity. . .” or “I believe that. . .” (which in American English implies subjective uncertainty) instead, use language like, “I know that. . .” or “It’s true that. . .” or “It’s a fact that. . .”
Does this make you anxious? Are you scared that you don’t know whether or not Christianity is true? Then commence the search. Start reading literature that answers your questions. In fact, that’s one of the chief reasons I wrote my own book, A Skeptic Challenges a Christian. In addition to books, go seek out trusted Christian friends who know more than you do and get some answers. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
For centuries, revolving around the Exodus event, Jews have followed a prescribed religious calendar called a “lectionary.” The earliest Jewish Christians kept the idea of a lectionary, but because of Jesus, they changed the calendar. The life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus now formed the framework of their year. According to the lectionary, time isn’t measured according to the length of the solar calendar (Romans) nor the Exodus (Jews); it is measured according to the life of Jesus. This allows a Christian to re-live the narrative of Christ-event every year.
Lent is a time of spiritual preparation. Lent is a season of 40 days (excluding Sundays) developed to prepare for the holiest season of the church calendar: Resurrection Sunday and the six weeks of Easter Season (in Northumbrian Old English, the month of April was named after the goddess, Eostre, hence our word, “Easter”). Ash Wednesday (March 5) is the first day of Lent. Because Lent typically involves various kinds of fasting, people often have one last, big meal the night before Lent begins. Thus began the tradition of Fat Tuesday (in French, it’s “Mardi Gras”). Here are a few reasons why celebrating Lent can aid you in your spiritual growth.
First, Lent reminds us of the terrible situation we were in before Jesus. You know how when you were a kid, your parents always bored you with those stories of, “I remember when . . .” or “There was a time when I didn’t have all these things”? The significance of those stories is that it recalls a time when things were much worse. It helps us remember of how far God has brought us. Lent is like that. It reminds us of the terrible condition of sin that you and I were in prior to being saved in the risen Jesus. It’s always healthy for us to “remember our spiritual roots.” Lent helps us remember always to include in our testimony a story of “I remember when I was headed for destruction because of my sinful condition.” In this way, Lent always keeps us humble and eternally grateful for the awesome, undeserving gift of a love relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Have you forgotten how far God’s brought you?
Second, Lent reminds us of the terrible consequences of sin. As the Bible demonstrates, sin is anything we do that breaks down the love relationship that we are designed to share with the Trinity and our neighbor. Lent reminds us that sin is a terrible, destructive power in our lives. Before Jesus, you and I were slaves to sin. After Jesus, we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6:6), but repeatedly hampered by it (as Hebrews 12:1 says, it’s like a heavy weight that bogs us down). As Christians, Lent reminds us of the absolute necessity of confession and repentance. Lent reminds us of how we should be repulsed by any sin, and the necessity of being in step with the Spirit as He transforms us into the image of the Son. Do you have any sins that you’ve allowed to rule in your life?
Third, Lent reminds us of the necessity of contrition and self-control. It is common to perform some form of fasting (= abstaining from food and/or water) during this season. Fasting performs two functions: (1) it demonstrates contrition because we abandon something that we enjoy; (2) it helps us practice self-control. The assumption is that if I can say no to sleep or food or drink, then surely I can say no to various sins. So, we sacrifice various necessities and pleasures to demonstrate contrition and practice self-control. We need self-control because we tend to make idols out of nearly everything. Lent reminds us not to cling too tightly to anything or anyone other than God. Do you have idols that need to die? What do you need to sacrifice?
When you’re swimming deep in water and realize you’re almost out of air, a terrible desperation comes over you. Panic seizes you. You kick your legs and stroke your arms in a fury to the top. A foot of water feels like a mile. And when you burst through the top, heart palpitating and adrenaline streaming through your veins, you take the biggest gulp of air you’ve ever taken. The sense of safety, celebration, and peace that comes over you after the ordeal can be overwhelming.
Lent is the necessary race to the water’s surface. Join with me in this Season of Lent. And together, when you and I make it to Resurrection Sunday, we will burst forth into the glorious light and gulp in the air like never before.
What do I do now?
Good question. To help prepare for Easter season, most Christians (1) give something up and/or (2) do something extra.
What could I commit to give up? Anything that brings you pleasure. Instead of doing that activity, focus on what Jesus gave up for you. Practice self-control and apply that to all areas of your life.
This might include Drunkenness, Gossip, Pornography, Complaining, Pessimism, Arguing, Judging People, Cursing, Smoking, Snacking, Instagram, Television, Newspaper, Eating, Facebook, Soda, Chocolate, Coffee, Sarcasm, Your pillow, Hot showers, Wasted time on the internet, Alcohol, Gum, etc.
What could I commit to doing? Anything that makes you a better disciple.
This might include Praying, Daily Bible Devotional, Joining a Bible study, Journal while praying, Work on specific virtues, Listen only to Christian music, Don’t eat until you’ve prayed and read your Bible, Donate the money you would have spent on whatever you’re fasting from, Spend the time you would have spent watching TV with your family, Visit a nursing home, Invite as many people as you can over to dinner (especially those who couldn’t host you), Take someone to lunch every day, Tell someone about Jesus every day, Read a theological book, Attend every church event available, Go on a mission trip, Volunteer, etc.