Mindful Fast – Preparing to Win Big without Losing My Soul

There once was an evil dragon living on a high mountain. Every now and then, it would come down to burn the farms and destroy the villages. Every time a warrior went up the mountain to kill the dragon, they never returned. People assume the dragon killed the warriors.

One day, a young man decided to go up the hill to slay the dragon. He had just returned from the best martial arts school. Before he went, his brother told him not to persist if he found out he couldn’t win, “As long as you preserve your life, you have another chance to try.”

He replied, “No problem, I’m confident I will win. I will return with the dragon’s head, and we will eat the dragon’s meat.”

As always, the warrior went up the mountain and never returned. The brother felt upset and decided to go up the hill to avenge the death of his brother. When he saw the dragon, he discovered it looked familiar.

After a closer look, he realized the dragon was his brother. He escaped the mountain and told people what he saw. (End of the story.)

How would you interpret this allegory? It’s about the dragon slayers turned into the dragon. That means every hero that went up the hill to slay the dragon turned into the dragon they slew. They successfully destroy the evil, but they become the next evil.

The story tries to warn us that we could become who we hate. On a small scale, some people turned into bullies after beating the bully. On a large scale, the communists fought against injustice but became the next injustice.

Darth Veda was a Jedi Knight! Lucifer, the Satan, was an archangel. We have instances like this all over history.

Everyone wants to make a difference in this world. We all have justice to fight. We all have a dragon to slay. We all have a mountain to move. But do we have what it takes to win without losing our soul? Jesus said,

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Mt 16:26).

Jesus is not discouraging us from winning the world but warning us against losing our souls. If we become the dragon after slaying it, we gain nothing, and the world still has another dragon to fear, and we become their next enemy.

Do you know what could turn a hero into a villain? The answer is there’s another dragon inside us—our own ego. If you don’t tame the dragon within, you may win but lose your soul. Now, the question is, how do you prepare yourself to win big without losing your soul?

Jesus came to earth to slay the evil dragon to recuse humans. As fully human, does Jesus also need to tame his ego to ensure he wins without losing his soul? If the Son of God needs to immunize himself from dragonizing, shouldn’t we do the same even more?

So, today, we will look at how Jesus prepared himself to accomplish his mission decisively by spending forty days in the desert, fasting, fighting the temptations, revealing to us the secret to taming the ego.

Do you have a mountain to move? I do! What dragon are you trying to slay? From Jesus’ forty days in the desert, we can learn how to decisively conquer the world, realize our dreams, and fulfill our calling without losing our souls. Let’s begin!

[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper—you are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]

The Scripture lesson for today, the First Sunday in Lent, is from the Gospel According to Mark 1:9-15. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mk 1:9–15).

[Blessed are those who delight in God’s word. Thanks be to God!]

There are three paragraphs in this passage. The first paragraph is about Jesus’ baptism, which marks the initiation of his mission. We have already covered that. The third paragraph is the beginning of his mission, which we also have covered recently.

Sandwiched between them is Jesus’ preparation to slay the dragon by first taming his own dragon. That’s the second paragraph and our focus today.

I’ve noticed many Bible interpreters skip or misinterpret this phase of Jesus’ ministry and treat it like mere mythology. We must never ignore this story because it gives us a crucial lesson on how to win the world without losing our souls. Without this process, we can become the dragon we slay.

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. (Mk 1:12).

Interestingly, it says the Spirit drove him into the wilderness to test him. In the verse above, God said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (v.11). Have you wondered why God said he was pleased with his Son and yet wanted to test him again before launching his mission?

We often think, if God chose me to do something, it’s because I am already qualified in God’s eyes. Even when I feel inadequate, since God has chosen me, God will help me to fulfill my calling.

Why would God choose me and test me at the same time? Does it sound like He doubts His own choice? Maybe because every human has an Achilles heel to heal.

God would help you win the fight, but God wants to ensure you have what it takes not to become the dragon you slay. God doesn’t want you to become another Lucifer, his beloved angel that betrayed Him.

God chooses us and try to immunize us from corruption so that we can win the world without losing our souls. Test like that is God’s loving act.

For example, God chose Abraham to bless the world, promising him to be the father of a great nation with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the beach. But he and Sarrah didn’t have a child until he was a hundred years old.

Yet, God asked him to sacrifice his precious son, Issac. Can you imagine it? Issac was his only hope to become the father of a great nation, and God wanted him to kill him. How would you react if you were Abraham? He complied, proving himself allegiant to nothing but God. He proved that he would not turn into the dragon he slew.

Moses was another one whom God called to rescue the Israelites from generations of slavery. Moses did not want to go, using his inarticulation as an excuse. But God persuaded him, providing help for him to go to Egypt to bring out the Israelites. However, on his way to Egypt, God tried to kill him.

On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the LORD met him and tried to kill him. (Ex 4:24).

You might say, “What? God sends him to Egypt on a mission, and He tried to kill him on the way? It doesn’t make sense at all.” There are various interpretations of it. It appeared that Moses wasn’t circumcised due to the circumstances.

Remember, Moses was born when the Egyptian government killed every newborn Jewish male to prevent them from forming an army for rebellion? His mother put him in a basket and floated him down the river. Pharaoh’s daughter saw the child and adopted him. If he were circumcised, the Egyptians would have known he was a Jew.

According to God’s covenant with Abraham, an uncircumcised Jew broke the covenant, meaning breaking allegiance to God, making him unqualified to lead God’s people. However, it still doesn’t explain why God chose him in the first place if he wasn’t qualified.

The only explanation is it was a test of his ego. Would he become the dragon he slew? Would his ego take over God’s position? Would he lead the Israelites out and become a dictator worse than Pharoh terrorizing God’s people in the desert?

The verse said that “God tried to kill him.” The word “try” implies God didn’t intend to kill him. If God intended it, he would not have survived. It was a test. To make the long story short, he passed the test, and God let him go.

The Book of Job is another example, but it’s a much longer and arduous story of the test of Job’s giant ego. He was tested by losing everything, including his health and relationships. There was nothing left except his faith. Even his wife told him to “curse God and die.” He passed the test, and God doubled his previous blessings.

That story became part of the Wisdom Literature. What’s the wisdom here: If you can overcome your ego, you can overcome anything. Now, let’s look at Jesus’ test.

He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. (Mk 1:13).

Mark doesn’t tell us the details like Mathew and Luke about Jesus’ fasting and his rebuttal to Satan’s temptations. Like in the Book of Job, Satan serves as God’s instrument of testing. The word “Satan” was a gerund, a verb-noun, meaning “to entice, to oppose, or to be adversarial.” Since it’s a verb, it implies Satan is more of an action than a person.

Satan represents an ego-driven spirit that wants to replace God. That’s why Jesus called Peter, “Satan, back off!” when he tempted Jesus to serve his ego rather than God, just like Satan did in the desert.

It says, “the angels waited on him.” That means Satan cannot harm you beyond God’s allowance when you go through the test. When Satan asked for permission to tempt Job, God gave him permission with limits. He had to ask God another permission to go any further. Here, the angels waited on Jesus to keep Satan out of the limit. It also means you are protected during the test.

Even though Mark doesn’t tell us the details of the temptations, Matthew and Luke provide us with three major temptations that put his ego to the test. It reveals humans are destroyed by three things: Food, Fame, and Fortune.

Food: Be Mindful of What You Eat

We need food for survival, but our brains shut off when our stomach is full because we no longer need to use our heads to hunt for food. If we eat constantly, our brains turn off constantly.

According to Buddhism, food makes people stupid. Like it or not, that’s pretty true. Jesus told the Parable of the Richman and Lazarus to warn us that excessive consumption can make us spiritually dull and become ignorant of God’s presence and purpose for our lives.

The comfort of food can be addictive, even more so today, with all kinds of GMO foods. So, Satan’s first test was asking Jesus to turn the stones into loaves of bread to satisfy his hunger. Jesus responded by saying,

“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4).

Jesus implied that he was enjoying God’s word like food. To feed our spirit, we must listen to God’s word. Prayer is talking to God; fasting is listening to God. Do eat good food, but do also eat God’s Word. Even if you don’t fast, don’t consume carelessly to dull your mind. Be mindful of what you eat!

Fame: Be Mindful of What You Hear

Our ego loves to hear praise and prestige. We are vulnerable to fame. Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and asked him to jump down, knowing that the angels would hold him before he touched the ground.

Satan picked the most crowded place so that everyone would see Jesus held by the angels, and he would become famous instantly as the Son of God. Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” He wants Jesus to prove himself, testing his lust for fame.

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Mt 4:7).

Jesus doesn’t need people’s approval or doubt God’s love. He didn’t come to earth for fame. He came to die to save humans from suffering. Satan was subtly and cunningly kissing up on him to prop his ego up. Be mindful of what you hear, and don’t fall prey to ego trip.

Fortune: Be Mindful of What You See

Our ego loves windfalls of fortunes. So, Satan gave Jesus a visual feast of the fortunes of the entire world, telling him that he could have all those things if he knelt down and worshiped him, asking him to sell his soul for power, prestige, and prosperity.

It was a lie because Satan does have the authority to give those to him, but our visual seduction can shut down our good judgment and make us succumb to idolatry.

Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” (Mt 4:10).

So, be mindful of what you see to avoid selling your soul.

From Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, we have learned that fasting is not just about abstaining from food but attaining a winning state of egolessness. Don’t fast as a ritual practice. Fast to sharpen your mind and to be in God’s presence. That’s why I call it the Mindful Fast.

Be ambitious in fulfilling God’s calling, but be cautious about the power of your ego. Tame your own dragon before slaying the evil dragon. Practice the Mindful Fast like Jesus did to win without losing your soul.

That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound freedom, purpose, and happiness.


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