Thursday, March 26, 2020

Nothing is Impossible

World Energy Outlook รข€“ Topics - IEA
Sometimes, the emotion that hits me is shock.  Going along, everything is fine, and then I go to do something that seems normal, like telling my son he needs to go to bed, but I am made aware that nothing is normal right now.  My son has no real reason to go to bed, except for the fact that I don't want him to get used to staying up all night.  Even though his school, like so many others, has shut down for 6 weeks, I hope he is going to go back to school sometime!  And none of us have any reason to go to bed, because work is only from home, if at all, as we are under a "stay at home" order.  And I think to myself, "Is this really my life right now?"  I just can't believe it.  How did everything change so much, so quickly?

In case you are reading this sometime in the future, we are dealing with the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic.  In a mere one month, I have seen things happen and changes take place that I never would have ever dreamed were possible.  Schools shut down, businesses like restaurants, gyms, theaters and more all forced to close.  Public parks and spaces closed.  People panic buying all the household goods out of every store around.  No gathering of more than 10 people allowed.  Birthday parties, graduations, weddings, funerals, even gathering at church, all illegal.   If you had told me a month ago that this much would change this fast, I wouldn't have believed you.  And yet, here we are.

So, if what seemed impossible a month ago, is not only possible but unfolding right in front of our eyes, what does this mean for our faith?  Faith tells me that God can do the impossible, for nothing is impossible with God!  What are those things you haven't even bothered to pray about, because you think they can never change?  Those people or situations that seem "too far gone" and yet, there is a seed of faith inside of you that wonders...  what if?  What if that person's life could be turned totally around?  What if that sickness could be healed?  What if that relationship could be restored?  What if those tormenting thoughts could be banished forever?  What if that addiction could be totally broken?  What if fear could be completely gone?  What if there was no longer any debt?  What if that business could be amazingly successful?  What if a large portion of our community came to Christ?  What if people didn't "play church" but became radical followers of Christ?  What if [insert dream] really did come true?

I challenge you right now to look at the world around you & realize that God is more powerful than a pandemic!  As we pray for an end to this virus, imagine how much of your life and the lives of those around you could change if we began to pray and ask God for more!  Let shock point you back to the God of all the universe.  Let your eyes remind your faith: nothing is impossible.  Dust off your dreams, fire up your faith, and begin to believe.  Ask God to reignite your heart and give you new dreams to ask him for.  Stop trying to figure out what God can or can't do.  If we only ask God for what is "possible" then we have put him in far too small of a box.  Bring to God everything and everyone on your heart and believe for the miracles you need.  Keep praying, keep believing, and you will be amazed at what God does.

God Bless You,

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Worry is Just Fear, Dressed Up

God confronted me with this very thought. Worry is just fear, dressed up.  I think often times we know better than to tolerate fears, but we call our feelings "worry" and make them out to be an accepted part of life.  Time to stop dressing it up and excusing it though- worry is just fear.  

Every fear is based on a lie. Fear comes because we are listening to a lie.  The lie can sound something like, "Did God really say?"  Or, "Will God really provide?"  "Is it really possible for this to work out?"  "Can God really change this circumstance?"  "Will God come through?"  The lie is a shadow that is cast over the character of God.  Maybe he's not going to be good in this situation.  Maybe I need to take control.  Maybe I won't recover from this.  These are lies that Satan wants you to believe.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). So, if every lie is based on a fear, then, in essence, fears are Satan's grandkids.  And he is very fond of them...

I think fear is one of the favorite tools of Satan.  It robs us of many experiences, and can stop us from living in the fullness of God's destiny for us.  Allowing fear into our lives can even rob us of our peace and joy.  We are afraid of what the future may or may not hold.  We are afraid for those we love, for the choices they may or may not make.  We are afraid of having enough today, and tomorrow.  We are afraid of choices we have made in the past, or choices we have to make in the future.  We are afraid that we don't measure up.  We are afraid that we are failing.  So many fears, so little time...

For many of us the fear is also partnered with a desire to control.  Circumstances that are out of our control make us very nervous.  Control has almost become like an idol: its our "go to" when things go crazy, instead of going to Jesus first.  Things start acting up in our life and we think, "Let me just get in here and take care of this."  We go to control, instead of going to Jesus, because not having control makes us feel vulnerable and unsafe, but Jesus wants us to let him have control and trust that he will work it out.

When Jesus was asleep in the boat with his disciples during a storm, the disciples were in a complete panic.  They woke him up, saying, "Don't you care that we drown?!"  In my mind I picture Jesus looking at their fear struck faces, and saying to himself, "Oh no.  We are not giving in to fear today.  Not today Satan!"  He asked them, "Why are you afraid?"  I think he was thinking, don't you know that you're safe with me?  I'm with you, so there is nothing to fear.  Beloved of God, the very presence of Christ in your boat makes it unsinkable. It doesn't matter how fierce the storm may be, if you're with Him, you're going to be OK.  Jesus turned to the storm and silenced it immediately.  I almost think that maybe he silenced the storm not for their own safety, but because he could see that fear had taken hold of the disciples, and he was not having it.  There is no room for fear in our hearts.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is fear. Perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18). "Fear not" is one of (if not the) most repeated command in the Bible.  When we allow the love of God to fully permeate every area of our heart, there should be no more room for fear.  You do not have to tolerate fear.  Fear is not a companion on your journey.  Fear is an enemy to your soul.  "If you do not look at fear as your enemy, it will defeat you one day."  (From the book I happen to be reading right now, Stronger than the Struggle, by Havilah Cunnington.)  Do not coddle, excuse, or explain away fear.  Look it straight in the eye, and say, "I will not fear for God is with me!"

When God confronted me with my worry, I prayed like this:  I confess and repent today from the worry (fear) I have felt over my circumstances in my life. I confess it because fear is really me saying, "I don't trust you God." I choose to trust you God with everything and everyone. It is all yours, and always has been. I release my cares to you. I will not try to manipulate you or my circumstances in order to have control. I will trust you. I know I have found favor with you and I will rest in you. I will stop trying to fix other people and allow you to work on ME. That is who I am responsible for, and I submit myself to you.

See the worry for what it is & do not tolerate it.  Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  Replace lies with the truth.  Meditate on the truth and force the lies out!

God bless you,

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Prayer of Relinquishment

There is a prayer that I believe is very powerful.  It was written by Catherine Marshall and is called the Prayer of Relinquishment.  There are many times in life in which we must surrender, and this act of the will can many times open the door for God to be able to work in a situation.   Worry and attempts in the flesh can actually interfere with what God wants to do in a situation!  I imagine it like a doorway, and we are standing in the doorway, saying, "Let me help you God.  Let me show you which way you should go."  All the while, we are standing in the doorway, preventing God from entering our circumstance! 

The prayer of relinquishment, by Catherine Marshall:

Father, for such a long time I have pleaded before You this, the deep desire of my heart:_______. Yet, the more I have clamored for Your help with this, the more remote You have seemed. I confess my demanding spirit in this matter. I've tried suggesting to You ways my prayer could be answered. To my shame, I have even bargained with You. Yet I know that trying to manipulate the Lord of the Universe is utter foolishness. I want to trust You, Father. My spirit knows that these verities are forever trustworthy even when I feel nothing. That You are there... That You love me...That You alone know what is best for me... Perhaps all along, You have been waiting for me to give up self-effort.
At last, I want You in my life even more than I want ________. So now, by an act of my will, I relinquish this to You. I will accept Your will, whatever that may be. Thank You for counting this act of my will as a decision of the real person even when my emotions protest. I ask You to hold me true to this decision. To You, Lord God, who alone are worthy of worship, I bend the knee with thanksgiving that this too will work together for my good. I relinquish this to You. Amen.

God Bless You,

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Living in the "in Between"

Each person's story and the struggles they face are unique.  I have faced my share throughout my life, and I continue to wrestle with situations and circumstances beyond my control.  No matter what it may be: finances, illness, insecurities, self doubt, loss of relationships, loneliness, despair, lost family members, or any other battle, we all have things happen to us in life which are unexpected. Things which hit us and completely blindside us.  We look at our lives and we say, "This is not what I expected my life to look like."

We will face struggles in life.  Jesus told us, "in this world you WILL have many troubles..."  But thankfully he didn't stop there!  (How depressing would that be?)  He went on to say, "But take heart!  For I have overcome the world!"  Even before he had gone to the cross and won the ultimate victory, Jesus prophesied and said, "I have overcome the world" and because he overcame, we can overcome too, because he has brought us into his family and we now share in his victory!

You may not feel victorious right now.  You may be, as I believe many of us are, in the place I call the "in between."  You are in between "your need" and "your miracle."  You've come face to face with your need, and you are believing for (or you want believe for) your miracle. You are in that place of tension as you long to be at your destination, but can't yet see it on the horizon.

There is a song by Elevation Worship called, "Here Again," and it is a powerful song.  God showed me something about these lyrics:

Can't go back to the beginning.  Can't control what tomorrow will bring.  But I know here in the middle, is the place where you promise to be.  ...

Not for a minute, was I forsaken, the Lord is in this place...  Come Holy Spirit, dry bones awaken, the Lord is in this place...

Previously, when I heard the refrain, "The Lord is in this place" I thought of the beauty of corporate worship: as we gather together, he has promised to be in our midst.  But God pointed out to me, no, those two lines go together:  I was not forsaken - the Lord is in THIS place.  This place of waiting, this place in the middle, this is exactly where the Lord is.  He is right here with me, right here in this place!

God is in the place of waiting!   I wrote a whole blog post about the Sacredness of Waiting.  The waiting place is a sacred and holy place because God is there.  Bethel also has a song called, "Take Courage."  The lyrics say:

Take courage my heart.  Stay steadfast my soul.  He's in the waiting.
Hold on to your hope, as your triumph unfolds.  He's never failing.

I draw strength in the midst of trials from my faith and the confidence I have in God.  Faith is like a muscle.  As you exercise it, it gets stronger.  Every time I choose to believe, I "flex" my faith.  My faith becomes stronger.  The more you practice this, the more faith and belief becomes a habit.  I want to be very clear about something:  I don't have the ability to choose to believe in God because my faith is stronger- my faith is stronger because I choose to believe!

"Faith doesn't deny a problem's existence.  It denies it a place of influence."  (Bill Johnson)

I choose to take a stand of faith when I am faced with a challenge.  I can face a situation and I will flex my faith.  I pray.  I declare God's truth over the situation.  I bind the enemy.  I release God's kingdom.  And yet... there are times when I have "gone to war" over situations over and over again, and nothing seems to change.  It is very easy to start to wonder, "Why?"  And to have thoughts like, "I've done everything I know to do God.  What else is there?"

Sometimes we have this idea that if we do the "right" things that things should just go "right" for us.  There's this feeling that sounds like, "I did everything right.  Why did things turn out so wrong?"  I want to remind you that we live in a broken world and there is an enemy who seeks to devour us and those around us.  We must remove ourselves from a place of entitlement and come to a place of submission, where we humbly come to God with everything.  Surrender everything.  Come to him with your brokenness, your anger, your bitterness, your questions, and give it all to him.

There is something beautiful and holy about a wounded, submitted heart.  There is beauty in brokenness and vulnerability.  And there is victory and freedom in submission.  It is in this place that we are able to see how God is making us and how he is using all things for our good.  He commands all things to work together for our good!

I am a different person today because of my struggles.  My struggles have turned into a gift to me!  They have made me a deeper person, with a more intimate relationship with God than I probably would have had otherwise. The harder the enemy presses in, the harder I press in to Jesus.  Having a fight has made me a fighter.

I'm not saying my struggles were God's will.  I am saying that EVERYTHING in your life can be used for good in the hands of almighty, loving God.  For many of you, the area of your greatest wound will be the area of your greatest growth!  

"Bread that is not broken cannot be shared.  In the hands of Jesus, your life becomes given.  You realize you are not here for yourself."  (Glenn Packiam)

My life is not all faith and promise. There are times of discouragement.  I wrestle with all the questions and feelings that are so common to us all.  Namely, "Am I a failure?  Did I fail?  If I had done things differently, if I had somehow been "better" would things be different?"

I have times where I am grieved so deeply that I am just weeping and broken inside.  Recently, when I was in this place, I turned on worship music.  The spirit within me rose up, and I found myself declaring out loud, through my tears:

I don't care what happens to me!  God, I choose to believe that you love me!
I don't care what happens to me!  God, I choose to believe that you are good!
I don't care what happens to me!  God, I choose to believe that you are victorious!

If my life is lacking faith, hope or joy, I know I need to cultivate more of God's Spirit within me.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all fruits of the Spirit (and not the only ones).  If I am lacking the fruit, then I need to cultivate what produces the fruit.  I don't try to manufacture the fruit on my own.  Think about it: if I want to produce apples, then I will need to cultivate apple trees.  The apple trees will produce the apples.  If I cultivate the Spirit of God within me, then the fruit will follow.

I cultivate God's Spirit within me by meditating on Truth.  I read the Bible (Bible apps are your friend!  They can remind you daily, and will read to you wherever you are, or whatever you are doing!).  I listen to worship music (anywhere & everywhere).  I get encouraged in church gatherings, Godly books, podcasts, etc.  Even my Instagram is filled with encouragement by following truth speakers, so I am getting injections of truth all the time!  Cultivating the Spirit does not happen by accident, but by intention.  Just as you would have to water, fertilize, prune, and otherwise attend to the cultivation of an apple tree, you must attend to cultivating the Spirit of God within you.

Pursue your breakthrough, but don't pursue Him to get to your breakthrough.  Jesus is not a "means to and end," he is everything!  For some of you, your answer has become your idol.  You are seeking your answer instead of seeking Christ.  Don't pursue Him to get to your breakthrough.  Pursue him because he is WORTHY!

I am a believer in breakthrough and a God who brings dry bones back to life again  ... but even if my prayers for breakthrough are not answered...
I will not regret a single day lived in faith instead of despair.
I will not regret a single day spent in hope instead of hopelessness.
Even if I don't get my breakthrough, a life filled with expectancy is a life of joy!  .. and much better than the alternative (bitterness).  I will not regret a single moment that I spent in prayer or worship or the Word, but I will certainly regret a lack of those things in my life. 

I will not be a victim of my circumstances, and I will not hold pity parties (well, not for long anyways...).  I've had those moments where I crumpled on the floor and wept in my sorrow and felt hopeless (emphasizing it was a feeling, and feelings LIE), but then I thought, "Wait a second.  This is EXACTLY where the devil wants me.  This is exactly what he hoped would result from this circumstance.  NO WAY am I giving him that satisfaction.  I could stay here on the floor and cry... or I could choose to get up and say, My God is gonna make a way."  I chose to stand up.  You can too.

Ephesians 6:13, after instructing us in the armor of God, tells us, "after you have done everything, stand."  If we don't give up, we win.  That's it. 

God Bless You,

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Limits of God's Power

I was thinking about how God is the creator of all things, and as such, he has all power, authority and dominion over all things.  If I write a book, I get to decide if it stays private, if it gets published, where it gets sent, etc. because I am the creator of it.  I have authority over it.  If I made a painting, or a sculpture, or crafted something from wood, the same would apply.  You see how this works:  the one who made it has the power over it.

Jesus demonstrated this power, and his equality with God, when he was in the boat with his friends (this disciples) and a storm came up.  His friends panicked and cried out to him to help them.  He said, "Be still," to the wind and the waves, and immediately everything stopped.  The disciples marveled and said, "Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him?"  He created that sea and that wind, so when he spoke there was no choice, but to obey!

God made each one of us. Every human was crafted by his own hands.  The Bible tells us that he, "knit us together in our mother's womb."  He formed us like clay.  As our creator then he holds the right to have power and dominion over us; HOWEVER, he chooses to limit his power.  He could say, "Come," and we would have no choice but to come!  That's not what he wants though.  He calls out, "Come," and he gives us the choice to respond.  He chooses to limit his authority over us because what he desires most is our love, freely given.

I love when my grandsons (3 year old twins) wake up from sleeping.  I want to come snuggle their warm (and stationary!) little bodies and give them love.  Sometimes though, they will walk away from me without giving me any snuggles.  They want to go play and have their own agenda on their mind.  Now, in that moment I could pull out my most stern voice and exert my authority over them.  I could require them to come to me.  But that's not what I want.  I want them to choose to receive the love I have for them.  If they will just come to me, I will give them lots of love! I will hold them, rock them, kiss them, and tell them I love them.  I see the picture of our heavenly Father in this also.

He wants us.  He calls to us.  But he will not force us.  We may choose our own agenda and walk off to our own choosing, but if we do, we are only missing out on all the goodness and love he wants to pour out on us.  Stop today, pause, put your own agenda aside, and let the Father love you. 

God's power has no limits, except the very limits he places on it himself, in order to have your love.

God Bless You,

Monday, August 20, 2018

Personal Experience with Modified Fasting and Water Fasting

Note: this post was written in March, but when I ended my fast I never finished the post, until now. 
I felt led to engage in some extended fasting.  I have a handful of closely held prayer requests (my "mountains") that I am always bringing before God, and I know that fasting can be a way to bring breakthrough in areas.

Two years ago I did the Daniel Fast for one month.  My strict Daniel Fast included removing all meat, all dairy, all wheat, all sugars/sweeteners (tiny bits of stevia sometimes), and even oats. I eliminated oats and wheat (usually allowed on the fast) because I knew that those can be inflammatory foods for me, and I wanted to be thorough in approaching this from both a rest for my physical body as well as a time of "pushing through" spiritually.  I was enabled to accomplish my month successfully.  Of course I wanted those "off limits" foods, but knowing that this was a spiritual decision, a promise to God or covenant if you will, made me find it easier to stay away from certain foods.  I also would remind myself that it was "just for now".  I would have those foods another time, but not right now.  At other times when I have tried to adjust my diet for health reasons, and I'm only answering to myself or my husband, I find little motivation and don't follow through.

I came across some info published by Donna Partow about the "Stages of Fasting".  What I found most intriguing about what she wrote was her statement that if you can make it past day 4 or 5, then you will no longer experience food cravings.  I wondered, could this be true?  What would it be like to experience such freedom from my flesh and physical appetites?  Donna recommended a publication by Dr. Jacobsen.  This doctor has a 10 day modified fast plan.  The plan includes a smoothie in the morning, bone broth for lunch, and either bone broth or pureed cabbage soup for dinner.  (Usually I make my own bone broth, but I was out.  Thankfully, my Costco had organic bone broth available!) Additionally, Dr. Jacobsen's plan has you drink warm water with apple cider vinegar and lemon in the morning and the evening. 

To prepare for fasting Donna recommends that you take a few days to start reducing the amount of food you eat and to detox from sugar, caffeine, processed foods, etc.  Just to let you know, I usually eat fairly healthy: I try to avoid processed food, refined sugar, and rarely eat at restaurants.  Another method recommended to prepare for fasting is to practice intermittent fasting (stop eating at 7pm, eat breakfast at 9am) which I had been doing somewhat successfully for a few weeks.

I didn't realize how much caffeine was in my daily matcha tea, or how much my body was used to it, until I stopped a couple days before the fast.  I spent a day with a nasty headache, and feeling incredibly cold and tired.  I managed to push through, but that was not a fun detox day at all.  Thankfully it was a Saturday and by Sunday I felt better.  Monday I would start Dr. Jacobsen's fast.  Incidentally, one of the bloggers I follow posted about doing a water only fast, and her experience intrigued me also.  My plan now is to do a 10 day modified fast, then a 7 day water fast, and then a 10 day modified fast.

Modified Fast Day 1/Monday
Physical notes:  I started the day with the warm lemon/ACV water.  About an hour and a half later I had my smoothie.  I felt very cold today, but not overly hungry.  I sipped lemon water all day, and that helped.  In my broth for lunch and dinner I added sea salt and chili powder.  That roast chicken I made for the family dinner looked really good, but I resisted.  I felt okay today.  By evening I was very tired.  I had my warm lemon/ACV water before bed and right before bed my face was also very flushed and warm (the rest of me still freezing cold).

Spiritual notes:  My scripture of the day on my phone today was 2 Chronicles 7:14 "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  Interesting...    Now normally when people fast, at least in my experience, it is "for" something.  They are fasting "for" an answer to a prayer or a breakthrough, and as I already stated, that was the case for me.  I have my list of five things/areas that I am contending for.  However, today, I didn't feel pushed to pray a lot for those items.  I felt more of a pulling of my heart, a pulling that caused me to say, "God, this fast is yours.  My body is yours.  Do with this fast what you want to.  I just want more of you God.  This is for you."  I started reading the book, "Having a Mary Spirit" by Joanne Weaver while I sat in the bathroom during bath time (usually a time when I play on my phone). 

MF Day 2/Tuesday 
Physical notes:  I woke up feeling tired and hungry.  My head also felt heavy (and a little light headed at the same time).  My throat felt a little cruddy and a little crud in my sinuses too.  I don't feel quite as cold today (maybe because its a little warmer day?), but definitely feel tempted to eat food.  My eyes have been very irritated/watery today (an immune response?) I had broth for lunch and pureed cabbage soup for dinner.

Spiritual notes:  I get on Instagram this afternoon, and there is a devotional clip from Tauren Wells saying, "Fasting is a necessity in the life of a believer... many view fasting as some type of devotional currency that they can use to get what they want from God...  Fasting is about the denial of self, the shifting of priorities, the acknowledgement of what it means to hunger not after mere morsels of food but the life changing presence of God ...  it is anointed by His Spirit not by our will power."  Wow!  Thank you God for this timely word!  One of my kids called today with some concerns about life and not having a job, and even though this child doesn't normally appreciate spiritual responses, I felt prompted to ask if we could pray for those concerns, which we did.  That night a call came in to set up a job interview.  Thank you God!

MF Day 3/Wednesday
Physical notes:  I woke up tired, and I was also a little "spacey". I was talking to my husband about a lemon and I called it an onion.  I lose my train of thought and get distracted much quicker than usual.  I wasn't uncomfortably hungry, but I did seem to feel better after my morning berry/greens smoothie.  I had an upset stomach this afternoon (might have been too much salt in my broth)  This is also when the low body temperature/feeling cold came back.  When I got home I took a couple of charcoal capsules, and that seemed to reduce the discomfort.  I still didn't feel well & all I kept thinking all evening is, "I just want to go to bed," but of course with littles in the house that's not possible.  I didn't even feel like having my broth or pureed soup for dinner.  So I had nothing except lemon water.  My stomach rumbled a couple of times but then went away.  I completely *want* to eat all the food I'm seeing around me, but I don't.

Spiritual notes:  I found out that another of my kids also got a call about a job yesterday, one which had originally been given to someone else was now coming back, and that is great news!  I was praying for my kids to live in their purpose and calling yesterday, so maybe that is related.  I am battling with self obsessed thoughts.  Thinking things like, "I wonder how much weight I've lost?  I wonder how much weight I'm going to lose?  I wonder if the weight will stay off?  I wonder if I'll be able to wear my skinny clothes again?"  I am working on reminding myself that this fast is not about me, it's about God.  I start thinking about how I want to grow closer to God and how amazing it would be to actually hear God's voice.  Like an actual voice.  All the time.  I am asking God to speak to me.

MF Day 4/Thursday
Physical notes:  I'm still very interested in everything I can't eat, but I was not excited about my smoothie this morning.  Didn't feel exceptionally hungry, even after not eating last night.  But I decided to follow my routine, have my morning lemon/ACV water and my smoothie.  I am still spacey.  Case in point: it wasn't until I had almost finished my smoothie that I realized that I had left part of the lid inside the smoothie cup when I poured it in there.  Just poured it in on top of the lid piece.  I'm hungry today.  I want to eat the food I see.  But I am denying my appetite.  This is part of the purpose of a fast I believe, to force my body to submit.  You are not the premier voice here body, God is.  My spirit will be more important than my body during this time.  I was cranky tonight ("hangry" maybe?) Oddly, I was not tired or sleepy tonight, but I took my melatonin and did fall asleep by 10.

Spiritual notes:   I feel a lot of amazing things happening spiritually for/in me today.  Still was praying this morning for God to speak to me.  The verse of the day on my phone was Daniel 10:12, "Then he said to me, 'Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words."  How awesome is that?  I felt like that was God speaking directly to me about this fast. At work I opened YouTube (how I listen to music at work) and saw that one of the worship groups I follow had uploaded their version of a song by Rita Springer that I was just listening to yesterday & still had on my mind today: Defender.  That "coincidence" alone amazed me, I felt that God was speaking by confirming that song (a song that's several months old, not a current hit, so not likely to get covered).  Then, while I'm listening to the song they give a word for someone & it totally hit me.  And the spontaneous worship that followed.  I was wrecked.  It all felt like God speaking to me. 

This song & the worship speaks to me even more because the "word" (phrase) that God gave me for this year is "Be Still".  God is telling me to rest & let him fight for me. 

MF Day 5/Friday
Physical notes:  Half way through this 10 day fast.  I'm hungry.  Still feeling very tempted by food (there is candy on the counter at work y'all!), but determined to press through and keep this commitment.  Just because I want food doesn't mean I need to eat it.  I don't.  God I am placing you above my physical body.  I am a vessel for you.  The vessel is not in charge, you are.  The Daniel fast was different from this because when I was hungry I could eat, just maybe not the foods I was used to.  I was not actually denying my appetite.  I'm also still spacey and distracted.  I have a thought, and turn around, and I forget what it was.  Ironic because Dr. Jacobsen wrote, "The goal of this fast is to keep your blood sugar level, while not taxing the digestive system which can cause foggy thinking."  Ha!  I really, really struggled with wanting to eat this evening.  Part of what helped me not to eat was knowing that I had this blog and how I want to be able to share it with you.  It's so hard though when you're cooking for your family, and I am helping twin 2 year olds get their food, so I'm not just making food I've got my hands on it, a lot.  I'm actually feeling annoyed that I can't eat the things I see and want.  I thought I would fall asleep without melatonin, but at midnight I finally took some & soon fell asleep.

Spiritual notes:  I mentioned the child who we prayed & then got called for a job interview, today was that interview.  I was praying during the time, and my prayer was, "If this job is your will, give my child favor & let the answer come right away about whether or not they have a job."  20 minutes later I get a call and the news is they offered the job on the spot!  Yeah!  Same child also got to talk with someone today about some life concerns and felt a lot of resolution.  I am thanking God! I started reading a book called, "Prayer and Fasting" by Dr. Fletcher.  My mom gave me this book a few years ago, and at the time I thought, "I am probably never going to read this.  I don't fast.  Its too hard.  I can't do it."  And now here I am.  The author starts out talking about what he has seen accomplished as a result of prayer & fasting.  He says, "No wonder Satan tries to keep us from fasting!  No wonder he offers every conceivable excuse to the flesh!  No wonder he lulls God's people to sleep!  He hates prayer and fasting."  Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

MF Day 6/Saturday
Physical notes:  Felt a little light headed when I got out of bed, but otherwise feeling ok.  In my mind/will though, I am really struggling.  I really, really want to eat.  I wonder if a water fast isn't easier, because then perhaps, after some days, the appetite shuts down?  Whereas, with the modified fast I am just giving my body little bits of nourishment that is almost like a tease, maybe?  I will see next week when I do the water fast.  I started the day feeling not happy that I have 4 more days of this fast.

Spritual notes:  This is a real test of will.  Testing my will power, and trying to make my flesh's will submit.  My will wants to eat and is tired of being denied.  I had to really take it to God and surrender everything to him.  I have to remind myself that this fast is not about me and my comfort, it is about God.  It is for God, and for me to become closer to God.  When I first woke up this morning, and felt my negative attitude, I tried to turn it around by saying, "God, I want you to do heart surgery on me.  I want you to use this time to change me.  There is sin in my life that I need to repent of and have you remove the root of it."  I could see in my mind's eye something like a trap door in my heart, and the Holy Spirit opening it up & revealing a dark mess of sludge.  Here was all the stuff I tried to pretend wasn't there.  Here was the stuff I might not even realize was there.  A critical spirit, a judgmental spirit, self-righteousness, pride, a spirit of control, etc.  These will not be gone immediately, but I must keep bringing myself back to the Holy Spirit and allowing his giant fire hose of purification to pour into me & rid me of all that hinders God's purposes in my life.

The chapter I read in the book, "Prayer and Fasting" could not have been more appropriate to the struggle I just described.  Dr. Fletcher makes it clear that FOOD is a god, and many (even Christians) have made this god the center of their lives.  "God has not ordained that we be ruled by our appetites. The Christian life means freedom from our appetites.  When we are slaves to our appetites, we are carnally minded.  And the carnal (sinful) mind is God's enemy.  (Romans 8:7)"  He goes on to talk about how food becomes a comfort and even an addiction for many.  "Many people know they should fast and want to fast, but they can't.  They don't know how to break the food habit."  He concludes by saying, "Let us declare that because FOOD has become a god in our society, abstaining from food is one of the surest ways to find God's perfect will for our lives.  Let us be bold to make known in these days of difficult family and personal relationships, we simply will not make it without a dedication to a life of prayer and fasting."  If you're going to fast, you should read this book!

God also keeps reinforcing to me the message that came to light when I heard that song, Defender, two days ago.  Yesterday I saw more than once the phrase, "He fights for us".  Then I saw it again today.  God is reinforcing over & over what he's trying to tell me.  I spent some time in prayer just releasing to God all of my areas of prayer/concern in life.  "God, I give you my children, make them what you want them to be.  God I give you our finances, make them what you want them to be.  God I give you our ministry, make it what you want it to be.  (etc.)  I have been spending a good portion of every day so far listening to worship music.  It is helping my spirit to focus on God.

MF Day 7/Sunday
Physical notes:  Food still looks and sounds very appealing, but I finally have a peace about not eating.  I no longer feel the struggle and angst I was experiencing, instead I feel "ok" with the fact that I am not eating the things I want to.  It's going to be ok.

Spiritual notes: I enjoyed being at church today and this afternoon I had some time to read more from Dr. Fletcher's book, Prayer and Fasting.

MF Day 8/Monday
Physical notes:  I am still feeling a peace about not eating (even though I feel hungry).  I have also decided that since I'm going to be on the water fast in a couple of days, to start diminishing the amount of food I am taking in on this modified fast.  I started with not having my broth for lunch today.  As a side note: if you experience constipation while fasting, adding a teaspoon (or 1/2 teaspoon) of magnesium to your morning smoothie will solve that for you.

Spiritual notes:  I had some intense family issues to deal with today.  I called in some prayer support and was amazed how God was with me throughout the day and orchestrated every step of my day.  He helped me along and was with me all the way.  I am so thankful that I was in a place of prayer and fasting so I was ready to meet this challenge.  I am feeling very grateful.

MF Day 9/Tuesday
Physical notes:  Feeling a peace and only had my morning smoothie and evening broth today.  I am drinking lots of lemon water between my meals.  I believe setting aside my appetite is giving room for God to move in my life.  I am (and have been most days) feeling very cold.

Spiritual notes:  I was awakened at 3am today.  I wan't sure why, but I said, "OK God, if you want me to give up my sleep [like I have food].  I will."  I prayed for all of the requests that I could think of (including my own purification) and then around 5am I started feeling heavy and sleepy and not long after that fell back asleep.  We do cherish our sleep, don't we?  We get angry or frustrated when we can't sleep.  I decided that all I have belongs to God, and that includes my sleep.  If he wants me to have more, I will take it, and if not then he will give me the grace to make it through.

MF Day 10/Wednesday
Physical notes:  Wow, my last day of the modified fast!  What seemed so far away is here- I made it!  To prepare my body for the water fast I will start tomorrow, I decided to eliminate my morning smoothie and just do a cup of broth instead.  That was a big change.  Those smoothies were pretty filling.  I was feeling that change today.  I felt a lot more hungry than I have for a few days, and this evening I felt grumpy (hangry again?) and very tired (I was awakened by a child last night, so that may be it).  I am also feeling very tempted by food again.  It would be so easy and so simple for me to just give up, quit, and eat.  Food is everywhere we look.  All around us.  And yet, each time I see food, or an ad for food, I am making a conscious decision to re-commit myself to God.

Spiritual notes:  I am choosing to consecrate (set aside as holy) my body to God.  My body is not my own, it is his.  I do not live for my own comfort, instead I live for him.  I do feel as though the absence of food/appetite has made room for the Holy Spirit to do more in me.  I was thinking today about just how temporary these vessels we live in are.  We spend so much time taking care of these rented houses we call bodies, when we should be working towards our eternal homes.  Our time on this earth is so short and small compared to all of eternity.

Water Fast Day 1/Thursday
Physical notes:  Feeling hungry, extremely cold, and exhausted.  This afternoon I had to lay down for a few hours.  I couldn't muster the energy to make dinner.  There are two things I've noticed since the start of the fast but haven't mentioned yet.  One is that I have something like eczema behind my ears. It increases or decreases in intensity in relation to how clean I am eating.  When I was on the Daniel Fast it got better, but it never went away completely.  On day 2 of the modified fast I noticed that all my sores/lesions had gone, but the itching remained.  I'm still waiting to see if it will go away completely.  The second thing is that I have noticed that my jaw/teeth are sore a lot.  I have a tendency to clench my teeth together while sleeping, and this soreness means I've been doing that a lot.  I even am noticing it during the day.

Spiritual notes:  Feeling tired and cranky doesn't leave me feeling very spiritual.  I feel very uncomfortable.  I keep reminding myself that crucifying the flesh is not comfortable.  Spiritual discipline is not comfortable.  Jesus did not live a comfortable life.  He made himself uncomfortable for our sake.  Paul said, "I beat my body."  We should not live for the comfort of the flesh.

WF Day 2/Friday
Physical notes:  It is common to get a coating on your tongue when you are fasting.  This is not too bothersome, but the feeling of having bad breath is.  I figured out that I could take a small spray bottle, put some peppermint essential oil in it & fill the rest with water.  This spray on my tongue made a lot of difference, not only in how my mouth felt, but even the unsettled feeling in my stomach.  I have had such a cold body temperature that I have decided that the next time I fast it will ONLY be in the summer!  If I could spend all day in bed covered with blankets I would be ok, but that's not the life I have!  By evening I am really struggling with not eating.  I miss food.  I did some errands today, went grocery shopping, and it completely exhausted me, but because I have littles to take care of I couldn't rest.  Having two year old twins to take care of is exhausting normally, when I am eating food and have some energy.  I'm wondering if 7 days without food is really practical for my life.  I might try to hold on for Saturday and Sunday (making it 4 days) and then go back to the 10 day modified fast.  I weighed myself today for the first time since I started the fast and I am down 10 pounds, but again I don't want to make this about weight because it is very possible that the weight will come back on once I go off the fast.

Spiritual notes:  Again, not feeling very spiritual because of the exhaustion.  I feel cranky and frustrated.  I also am feeling distraught over some huge financial obstacles we have.  Last night we had a serious behavior issue come to light with one of our kids.  I have noticed throughout this fast that I feel a stronger connection to Godly wisdom right now.  I felt it last night when we were dealing with this issue and I believe God gave me some heavenly strategy to help handle the issue.  Unfortunately I have not had much time to read or spend in concentrated prayer.  Working, taking care of the house and family, and especially the twins, doesn't leave me any space.  I keep trying to put my focus back on God though, asking him to speak to me and asking for breakthroughs in my life.

WF Day 3/Saturday
Physical notes:  It's Saturday morning as I'm writing this and I have absolutely no energy at all.  Just getting up from sitting to standing is an effort.  I don't think I can continue with the water fast, it just is not practical for me.  I am a busy mom with a house and kids to take care of and I can't think or do much of anything.  If I was "spacey" on the modified fast, then I am brain dead on the water fast.  It takes a lot of energy for your brain to function, and mine is not finding any.  I think I am going to break the fast tonight with some of the soup from the modified fast, and go back to the modified fast tomorrow.  Next time I attempt a water fast I would like to get away somewhere.  Some place where I can just lay on the floor, worship and pray and not have any other requirements placed on me or any other distractions.

Spiritual notes:  I think part of the reason I have had a hard time focusing on prayer the last few days (besides my busy, crazy life) is because of my "brain dead" state making it very difficult to keep a thought in my head.

I broke the fast
Saturday night I was putting away dinner, and when I saw those little meat pies I had made, I decided to have "just a little bit".  I had a little bite, and then another... and then I finished it.  This wasn't how I planned on ending my fast, but it happened.  What amazed me was how much energy surged through my system after I ate it. It was like I'd had an energy drink!  I think the reason I was so tired on my water fast is that my "reserves" had already been depleted on the modified fast.  I had already lost 10 pounds, and that's the only extra weight I was carrying to begin with.  I felt ok with breaking my fast, because I think that for me to lose any more weight would not have been healthy (it only took me a few months of old eating habits to gain that weight back, sorry to say).

Update: I did another modified fast for 6 days in July.  It was definitely a plus to be doing it during summer & not have to feel cold.  I couldn't stomach the bone broth anymore, so I just did a smoothie in the morning and pureed cabbage soup in the evening.  In retrospect I can see that I did not devote enough time to the word and prayer during this second fast, so it was not as spiritually moving as my previous fast, but it was still valuable.  I highly encourage you to consider fasting.  Read the book I mentioned above (find it on Amazon here).  I keep coming across other leaders talking about fasting.  Things are happening in this world and God needs his people to be fasted & ready!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What Determines if Faith Fails or Thrives?

In church today God reminded me of a dream I had last night.  Friends of ours recently celebrated the one year anniversary of the adoption of their daughter from Colombia.  When they adopted her, she was less than a year old, and very small for her age; however, now she is healthy and strong!  In my dream, my friends posted "before" and "after" photos on social media and said their daughter had gone, "from the 3rd percentile to the 97th percentile!"  

In case you don't know, when a young child has a check up, the doctor will measure them (height, weight, head circumference) and let you know how your child compares to other children of the same age.  50th percentile is average.  If your child was in the 3rd percentile, that would mean 97% of other children their age are bigger than them (this would be a serious situation and could mean failure to thrive.)  "Failure to thrive is defined as decelerated or arrested physical growth (height and weight measurements fall below the third or fifth percentile, or a downward change in growth across two major growth percentiles) and is associated with abnormal growth and development."*  Conversely, if your child was in the 97th percentile they would be bigger than all but 3% of the kids their age. 

Now these were not actual, real life numbers for our friend's child, and I asked God, what does this dream mean?  I thought about our friend's child: what has made all the difference in her life?  It is about position, relationship, and love.  She has come into a family where she is a daughter.  While she was well cared for until she was placed, there is nothing that will replace the importance of being in a family.  Of being someone's daughter.  Of having someone(s) look at you everyday and tell you how special you are.  This change of position, being placed in a family, put her in a place of relationship.  Being in a place of relationship made her a recipient of love.  For the last year, her growth has been both physical and emotional.  While she has been consuming food and nourishment, she has also grown because she has been a consumer of love.  She has had love poured out on her, and like a little sponge she has just soaked it up.  This is why she is so healthy now.

I felt like God was saying that there are many people who, in their faith, would be like that "before" picture of the child in my dream.  If the physician were to examine their faith, he would have to put this label on them: "Failure to Thrive".  They feel like living the life of faith is such a struggle.  Why do they feel so sick and weak and unable to grow?  It comes down to three things: position, relationship, and love.  These are children of God, but they do not realize the position they have.  They are living as orphans, trying to make it in life on their own, but all the while papa is right there.  Their position (your position) as a believer, is that you have been adopted into God's family.  Your position has changed from where you were, or would be, in the world.  You have been brought into a place of relationship.  You have a papa who loves you.  He adores you.  He looks at you everyday with love in his eyes and admiration for the work of art that you are.  (After all, he made you, right?)

If faith has been a struggle for you, God wants you to move from the 3rd percentile to the 97th percentile!  It is time to move from feeling weak and frail to being healthy and strong in the faith.  How do you get there?  It's time to live from a position of relationship and soak up the love the father has for you.  Come to him like a little child and soak up all the love he has for you.  Be like a sponge, spend as much time as you can with him and just keep soaking and soaking up that love, and then soak some more.

"15 Listen to the truth I speak: Whoever does not open their arms to receive God’s kingdom like a teachable child will never enter it.” 16 Then he embraced each child, and laying his hands on them, he lovingly blessed each one." (Mark 10, Passion translation)

"You’re like children still needing milk and not yet ready to digest solid food. 13 For every spiritual infant who lives on milk is not yet pierced by the revelation of righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, whose spiritual senses perceive heavenly matters. And they have been adequately trained by what they’ve experienced to emerge with understanding of the difference between what is truly excellent and what is evil and harmful." (Hebrews 5)

God Bless You,

*source: Stanford Children's Health