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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"A Different Kind of Fast" (Alicia Britt Chole)

TITLE: 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast.
AUTHOR: Alicia Britt Chole
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: W Publishing, 2015, (272 pages).

This is a book of Lenten reflections. Instead of a cold turkey fast of some sort, there is a gradual "decrease" of sorts. Writing from a position of illness and weakness, author Alicia Britt Chole shows us a different kind of fasting, one that demonstrates a slow but sure approach to purifying our hearts. Here, we are urged to set aside 30 minutes to an hour daily so that we can prepare our hearts for an intentional fast from something. Each day, readers are introduced to a particular kind of fast, all for the common goal of softening our heart to be open to the moving of God. We learn that fasting is less about refraining from something and more about surrendering to God. The destination of fasting is not checking off items on our to-do list but that of love. It is not some kind of self-inflicted punishment but  an encouragement of forgiveness. It is about self-awareness that we are already small compared to a big God, and that through praise, we enter into the presence of God in awe and wonder. We learn about the use of light and how unplugging ourselves from modern conveniences ushers us into a more natural pace of life. We appreciate the messiness of faith and not be so worked up over the need to keep our faith tidy and neat. We fast from rushing past sorrow, a legitimate human emotion. We fast from rationalism, isolation, stinginess, and spectatorship. By noticing ordinary things that we can fast from, we are made more aware of the many things we have taken for granted, and to be thankful for what we have and NOT have. In relationships, we fast from criticism and judgmentalism. There is a comprehensiveness that I have not seen before in Lenten devotionals.

Chole is very perceptive and it takes one to know what to fast from. Perhaps, the author's struggle with illness has sharpened her ability to notice the little things in life, both visible and invisible. Each day, there is a Scripture passage, followed by a thoughtful description about a particular aspect of life. A "Reflection" ensues which is then followed by what we can fast for the day. Each day concludes with an opportunity to worship and to praise God.  For a small book of devotions, there is a respectable amount of citations and shared resources.

The author is founding director of Leadership Investment Intensives Inc, a non-profit organization devoted to soul-care to leaders in both the marketplace as well as churches. The multiple endorsements at the beginning of the book should give readers an idea of how revered and respected the author is. The interesting thing about the kind of decrease that Chole advocates is this: There is a strong sense of "Less is more" that as we seek to fast from some aspect of life, strangely, we find that we gain a new perspective, a renewed understanding of God, and a fresh appreciation of the things we have and not have. This is certainly a unique book. Every page oozes wisdom and spiritual guidance. It is a kind of fasting that leaves us not empty but filled. Each day, the author shows us something that we can fast from. It is altogether very manageable but also probes deeply into the things that can so easily entangle us. You would do well to use this book to supplement your Lent.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of BookLookBloggers and Thomas-Nelson in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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