"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."~from ISAIAH 61 Bible verse for this Blog

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On July 18, 2017, I drafted almost 3000 blog posts that I had published since 2008 when I began blogging, rather than edit each one. So if you clicked here from somewhere else and ended up with the post unavailable or error, I am sorry but this is why. It'd be too much work for me to go back and fix them. There's an explanation on 7/19/17 as I'm still learning.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"40 DAYS of DECREASE ... " by Alicia Britt Chole

{I really meant to publish this review right after the 40 days of Lent}

or like the title


but you can't even read the cover and the rest of this title

"40 Days of Decrease
A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast."
By Alicia Britt Chole

Book Description: "...40 Days of Decrease guides readers through a study of Jesus’ uncommon and uncomfortable call to abandon the world’s illusions, embrace His kingdom’s reality, and journey cross-ward and beyond.

"40 Days of Decrease... A Different Kind of Hunger. A different Kind of Fast" by Alicia Britt Chole 'is a beautiful invitation to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection in a more meaningful way than ever before' so this is why after reading a 6 day sampling with You Version reading plans, I chose this book for this past season of Lent ... to really reflect more deeply in the entire experience of the "40 days" leading up to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hoped this season of preparation of my heart might be different, with the discipline of reading and participating in these "40 Days of Decrease" which is meant to "guide readers through a study of Jesus’ uncommon and uncomfortable call to abandon the world’s illusions, embrace His kingdom’s realities, and journey cross-ward and beyond" so that I might be "awed" as I read [40fast(dot)com]. {I even subscribed to the author's blog} ... I really hoped I might experience that 'full embrace' as I read in the author's gift of eloquence and thoughtfulness with words ... I wanted what she experienced to be what I might experience minus perhaps the suffering. Perhaps I did not put forth as much effort and intensity as she clearly has in this well documented, researched and thorough book on fasting, lent and "decrease". Her words are poetic and profound. Her insights and deep thoughts are amazing. But for me, it was a bit overwhelming. I guess my "awe" was more in the many facets of her writing and information than the "awe" that I desired during my 40 days. 

Honestly I have mixed feelings about "40 Days of Decrease" with more of a sense of overload after each day's devotional part of the reading for that day. Perhaps it's just me, but Alicia Britt Chole definitely writes on a higher level than I am at, and I found there is so much 'content', that it was hard for me to simply read, focus and understand. Often I would have to read and then re-read until I could understand what was written. Alicia Britt Chole is definitely a gifted wordsmith and clearly this "40 Days of Decrease" took much research and time as well as a genuine heart of seeking all God has ... she even started off with a very personal prologue of a "Grand Reduction" in her life.

"... Lent had come half a year early. God asked me to fast mental and physical strength. He invited me into holy weakness. 
I found Jesus there. 

We often think of Jesus’ fast beginning when He stepped into the Judean wilderness. But the fast actually began three decades earlier when the Glory of heaven was wrapped in plain paper and given as a gift to mankind. 

        The Grand Reduction had begun. 

Jesus fasted omnipresence and clothed Himself with flesh. He fasted being worshiped by angels and accepted the disregard of man. He fasted the Voice that birthed planets and submitted to the silence of thirty hidden years " ...

{See what I mean!}

{This is fantastically written and quite profound just to tell us of Jesus' great sacrifice and humble beginnings. Or am I missing something much deeper?}

Don't get me wrong. Though I started out with some of my own quirks and complexities, I truly value every day of Alicia Britt Chole's "40 Days...". I just had a difficult time making them mine and reflecting because there was so much in each day. Although I'm sure I highlighted a great portion of the book, when I found myself enlightened by her ever so much. You really have to be in a thinking mode and beyond, this is not light stuff, you need a very studious mode as well. Each day of the "40 Days ..." was packed. I guess I allowed myself to get too bogged down with it all. 

I really should have started with the good and then weighed in on the problems I had with reading this after I describe how each day goes. Trust me, there was no "decrease" except the wonderful teaching on what should become less in our lives so that Christ may BE more in us. Alicia Britt Chole put much thought into each day's "fast"; devotion and reading plus an extensive portion of the history of Lent and fasting. 

Each day or chapter of "40 Days of Decrease features a devotional based upon Jesus’ life, guidance for reflection, suggested (and occasionally surprising) daily fasts, an inspiring quote for prayerful meditation, an optional and somewhat academic sidebar chronicling the historical development, practices, and images of Lent, and a suggested Scripture reading with journaling space" per the author's own words in her introduction. I probably would have been better off if I had waited on the optional part until a different time. The suggested Scripture at the end of each day basically took us through the Gospel of John sequentially on most days starting with chapter 12. At times this and the quote of inspiration, in my opinion, seem to have just been added. In her actual writing, Chole uses Scripture that goes along with what she is saying ... but the reading in John after all the rest did not really tie into the discussion of that day. On the other hand, the Daily Fasts, were well-connected with the theme of the day's devotion. I thought that in my review I would be able to choose which "fast" was personally the best for me or the most needed, but frankly, they all are. The Reflections really made you stop and examine your own thoughts and helped to prepare you for that day's FAST. 

It truly is a challenge that we can pursue in other parts of the year for a week or even a month as she suggests also in her introduction. Alicia informs us that the 40 different fasts are offered "in the hope that collectively they will prepare us to be duly awed by Christ’s resurrection by being duly available to daily crucifixion." Trust me, they were!

I believe that this book is truly profound for a real experience during the 40 days of the sacred season of Lent and preparing our hearts, softening our hearts ... as we enter in to experiencing 'the holiness of loss and less in Jesus’ journey cross-ward,' so that 'our hearts open vulnerably to a greater commitment to love and be loved by the Savior'. Even though I took all of the 40 days and then some to soak in and digest this book, it indeed is a great collection that I can go back to the many exceptional highlights and points, graphs, charts and a formidable dissertation on Lent ... but I really believe that Alicia Britt Chole wanted more for us than just the knowledge gained by her. I believe that she would like to know that we came away from this Lenten experience CHANGED. That our lives somehow were deeply impacted beyond the weaving of her poetic words. 

"We are duly thankful, challenged, and inspired by Jesus’ forty-day fast from food in the Judean wilderness. Perhaps we should likewise be grateful, awed, and humbled by His thirty-year fast from praise, power, and potential in Nazareth. 

It takes a great deal of strength to choose weakness."

for the weak of will power or mind.

"When He calls us to fast strength—when He drafts us into decrease—God’s purposes are clear

"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:2–3

"To humble us, to test us, to know what is in our hearts . . . such is the sifting power of helplessness. In our daily lives, we may prefer self-reliance. But perhaps utter dependence is the truer friend of our souls "

I find
"40 Days of Decrease..."

Simply profound and breath-taking!
I must admit that "fasting" Lent as a project
entering this "40 Days of Decrease" as an experience
most definitely was my blessed gain 
as I learned and sojourned with Our Savior.

The days during Holy Week were actually my favorites!
Alicia Britt Chole
captured and retold the events
in such a way that I will never see those readings 
in the same way.

Alicia Britt Chole
truly has written about
"a different kind of hunger and a different kind of fast"
in such a phenomenal way
even if her chosen compilation was too intense for me
I think all of society would do well 
if we would "fast" some of her wonderful suggestions 
ranging from apathy to hypocrisy; 
addictions to self-confidence;
intimidation to "guarding tombs".
Each one very unique.

When I "fasted" my voice,
the world stood still for that time.
Although I have done this traditionally on Good Friday
this time I truly listened and sensed silence
 beholding Jesus in His death.

I will go back to this book again and again
hoping that it will continue to reawaken
the "Awe" of both Majesty and Mystery
in Jesus' Resurrection.

This is not a book to enter in lightly.
I encourage anyone to read this that wants a better understanding of Lent 
but also for those who want to really experience a
"different kind of hunger", grow profoundly and BE CHANGED.

I recommend reading the academic portions separately
and focusing on the "fasting"
so that when
"Father God calls us to fast increase, decrease will purify our souls."


I can see why
Alicia Britt Chole
walked those who wanted to join her
through this book on her Facebook page.
I'm sure with her personal guidance
she made each day come alive
like Jesus and with Jesus
to be understood in a freshly anointed way.

Disclosure of material connection:
I received this book free from the publisher Thomas P. Nelson through the book review blogger's program BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Some people have a gift of reviewing concisely, I try to give you a true sense of what I encounter as I read and am blessed by the greats like Alicia Britt Chole, even if my review was not as favorable, I was truthful and true to my simple but lengthy way.

To my faithful visitors;
all of you who spend your valuable time here with me
I do appreciate you so much!

Thank you for taking your time to visit!

Love, Sweet blessings & Hugs!