Saturday, January 30, 2010
But today, on our last day of fasting, I thought I'd share what I read in one of my devotions today.
1 Corinthians 4:20 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power."
During this fast, I pray that the one thing that has solidified in my spirit and in yours is that we cannot talk the talk but we MUST walk the walk.
As Christians we are very good at talking. We can preach to someone about how they should live their lives or what they should believe. We tell our children what their morals and beliefs should be. But do we live it out in our daily life? Do our children learn to love their enemies because we've talked about it or because we've lived it. Do people around us see the love of Christ because we're busy talking about it or because we live it in the office, at the grocery store, in traffic or where ever our journey takes us day to day?
Our beliefs shape our values and our values should shape our lives. Our lives should show the world what Christ is all about. Our lives are living testimonies about Jesus. And they can either draw people to Him or repel them away from Him. I pray my life draws people to Him.
Paula Reinhart said "What God asks of us is both simpler and more profound than adherence to a system of beliefs or following a set of rules. He asks us to walk with him through the blood and guts of our real experience in an honest pilgrimage where we let him show us what real strength, and real love, are all about."
The Bible isn't a book with a bunch of rules in it. It's alive and so very relevant to every situation of life. He wants us to have a daily relationship with Him and through that relationship, we won't be able to help but live out His will for our lives. And that is exactly what will draw people to Christ. If I live for Him, He will be glorified.
I pray my life reflects Christ. As I ponder today about what my life, every single part of my life, truly reflects. I pose the same question to you. What does your life reflect, if someone from the outside was looking in, what would they see?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tonight I spent the evening with a fantastic group of women. I spent the evening at church in a support group for survivors of sexual abuse. I love this group! It is amazing to see women who begin this group, some have low self esteem, some have walls built up so high and think they're "fine" and some are just shattered. When I first started, I was the the one with the walls. But by the end of the 13 week session, the women are transformed. They are more aware of how valuable they are, walls have come tumbling down, and those who were once shattered have been restored and they have such freedom. At the end of my first Shelter group, I felt that restoration and freedom and it was amazing!
Christ died for our sins but He is also a God of restoration and healing. And when I read Revelation 1:17-18 I think of this group and these women who are just starting on the healing process. Jesus holds the keys of death and hell that was once your former life. He was already victorious! He has fought the battle and won! He won it for you! You can overcome this because He has already overcome this world! You are a beautiful child of God. The situation that left you dead and shattered has already been overcome. And He will walk beside you as you walk the path to healing and restoration.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Read in John 17 today and I loved verse 12. "while I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
I love that no matter how many times we read a passage in the Bible, God can always show us something new about it. Today, I am struck by His statement that while he was with the disciples he protected them and kept them safe by the name He was given. I like this for 2 reasons
First, I love to think of the power of his name. "Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power". His name is powerful! I don't think we can really grasp exactly how powerful that is. It can do the impossible!
The other reason I love that verse is that I love to think of Jesus with His disciples. I love to think of Jesus with me. I realize that He was physically with the disciples, but we need to understand that He truly is with us, and he is protecting us so that none will be lost.
I am so thankful for His care and attention! He truly is amazing!
Monday, January 25, 2010
My devotion today is about staying untangled from the world and I thought I'd share my thoughts on it.
2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth, engtangleth himself with the affairs of this life…
Ok, so the NIV might be easier to read but I love the word "entangleth". It brings a picture to my mind of having your feet all tangled up in a large fishing net and not being able to get free. When I think of this verse, I think of running in a race or toward a goal and somehow getting my feet all tangled up in this large net. The more I struggle the more I become entangled. Oh we let ourselves get tangled up in all sorts of things, don't we? Anything that distracts us from our goal is getting us entangled. For some it's drugs or alcohol. But it may be something as "innocent" as video games or facebook or a certain friendship. Those things can certainly distract us. That's what my mind always went to when I read this verse.
But today, my mind went somewhere else with it. It went to worry. You see, I am a lifelong worrier. Correction, I am a recovering worrier. At the age of 10, I had more stomach problems than you can imagine and my doctor said I'd have an ulcer before I could drive. For years my husband has been telling me, "can you do anything about it? Ok, then stop worrying, it won't help." Through a process of learning how to give it to God, for the most part, I have given up my worry. It's amazing how God can free you from a lifetime of worry once we pry our fingers off it. But today, this is where my mind went.
You see, worry will distract us from our goal and entangle us. It takes our focus off of God and onto something of this world. A worry of something we're not in control of. Well, I've got news, we're not in control of anything. Far too often, we worry about the wrong things. Are we worrying about the homeless or those that are starving? Are we worrying about earthquake victims in Haiti? No we're worrying about things that have no real eternal significance.
The next time you are worrying, ask yourself if this has any relevance in light of eternity. If the answer is no, give it to God. If the answer is yes, give it to God and ask Him what you can do to help Him. Life is too short to worry. Take action if you can. If you can't, then give it to God.
Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Well, it's our last week of the fast. You know, many wonderful things have happened this week. I've spent such great time with God and my family. I'm really enjoying the Lord's presence.
One thing I have noticed today is that the attacks that have been coming for the past two weeks have suddenly amped into overdrive. The enemy HATES what we're doing! He HATES that we're successful at growing closer to God. He wants to rob of us that relationship. He wants to derail us and get us off track. He wants us to FAIL.
Now, when I think of that I hear music in my head, usually the theme from Rocky (yes, Eye of the Tiger is my fighting music) and I start shadow boxing around the house and audibly telling the devil where he can go and how to get there. I've been praying and listening to music that will be uplifting. These attacks are NOT going to get me. I have a God that has already been victorious.
But I also know, that the enemy will try and attack the most vulnerable first. He will try and isolate that person so that their faith is weakened. I've seen it happen today. My husband was under attack and he sent me a text message and asked if he could go for a drive and think. Now, I'm not one to tell my husband what he can and cannot do but I said no. The enemy wants you to be isolated even if for just a little while, so he can tempt you.
Either in fasting or in life in general, isolation can be deadly. Surround yourself with trustworthy people that you can talk to and be real with. Pick up the phone and call when you are tempted or hurting. And call on the strength of God. Ephesians says "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power". He's powerful! He will make us strong.
So that being said, I encourage us all (myself included) to finish strong! Put on the Rocky music this week, do some shadowboxing and tell that enemy where he can go, and take your faith to the next level.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I have quite an amazing story to tell, and the best part of all is that it's all true.
I woke up all too early this morning to some news that disturbed me. I stopped to pray and ask for God's peace, I knew that today would be a day I would have to depend on Him. It is just amazing to me how when we know we have been healed and delivered from something, the enemy likes to jump in and make us think we're back at square one. But I wasn't having any of that this morning and I prayed and reached out to my accountability partners to pray. God's peace came over me and I knew everything would be ok.
I was so tired when I left the house. I didn't sleep well the night before. I haven't had caffeine in 12 days. I felt exhausted. I was yawning about once every minute, I was drained and tired, and as I was driving down the road all I could think was about how I needed coffee. I thought to myself, I am so exhausted, I won't make it through the day without a jolt of caffeine, and I was serious. But I didn't want to break my fast so I prayed this prayer. "Holy Spirit, I need your self control today to not have any coffee and I am asking you to help me feel more awake and alert. I want to honor you in this fast."
That was it. Nothing eloquent or fancy, just a simple prayer spoken in faith. And then it happened.
Supernaturally, like a veil was being lifted from my eyes, everything became clearer and brighter. At first I was freaked out, wondering what had happened to make everything so clear and then I realized, I wasn't tired! A simple prayer, spoken in faith, with a motive to honor God. And He answered.
So if you are on day 12 or 14 or whatever day, and you feel a little vulnerable or weak, you think you can't do it another day. You think to yourself, 2 weeks is perfectly honoring, I could just stop now. I want to encourage you to keep going. Stand strong and ask Holy Spirit to give you that strength and self control.
If you ask, He will answer.
Today, by writing this, I give God glory. He is so amazing! He is so good! He is so Faithful!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Many years ago, I was married to a man, not my current husband. Many terrible and frightening things took place and in my heart developed bitterness, anger, hurt, and resentment. Now, I knew that in spite of everything that took place, I had to forgive him. I expect forgiveness and I should be willing to give it. But I also knew, that in and of myself, I didn't have forgiveness in me. So I began to pray for him. I prayed for God to give me eyes to see him and a heart to forgive him. Forgiveness doesn't mean I let him back in my life. It's doesn't mean that what he did was ok. It simply means that I see him with a different pair of eyes.
I didn't mean it. I wasn't sincere. I didn't have it in my heart, but I knew that if I didn't start praying for a heart to be able to forgive him that I would never have a heart that was able to do that. And only God could give that to me.
As years went by, I began to heal, and I began to forgive and I began to pray for his salvation. I mean, in spite of everything that happened, he is still a child of God. And I knew that my forgiveness wasn't complete until I could honestly pray that he receive the same grace and salvation that I have received. After all, sin is sin, and therefore his sin is no worse than mine.
18 years have gone by and I believed long ago that I had truly forgiven him, and I still pray for his salvation. But when we started this fast I began to pray again that I would see people with His eyes, and have His heart for them. As I was praying a couple of days ago, I prayed for his salvation and my heart felt burdened for him, heavy and sad. It was then that I realized, God had given me a taste of what His heart is like for this man. His heart is heavy and sad, and wants this man to receive the grace that He so freely gives. And I felt it. At that moment I knew without a doubt that my forgiveness truly was complete. And it wasn't just a superficial forgiveness. God had changed my heart.
I thank God that He is never finished with us. And even though sometimes our prayers can seem to go years without being answered, they are always answered in His perfect timing. I am thankful that I am forgiven. I am thankful that He has given me a heart that will forgive.
Some of you reading this may know the Proverbs 31 passage, but I will do a brief recap for those of you who may not have read it yet. I encourage you to read it on your own. This is the passage instructing what type of wife a man should find. "a wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." and it goes on to say she's up before the dawn, taking care of her husband, the kids, the servants, her entire household. She takes great care in providing her family with the best of everything, she even buys and sells real estate. This woman works hard for her family! They want for nothing and she seems...well, perfect.
For years, I have thought, that's the kind of wife I need to be, but the standards are set so high, it's almost intimidating. How could I ever, in my own power, be that kind of wife for my husband? But just because it seems impossible, I know all things are possible with Christ who strengthens me. So I keep trying.
However, this morning, God asked me why. Why do I keep trying? Well, because it's in the Bible.
Wrong! The Proverbs 31 wife isn't doing all of the things in this passage because it's in the Bible, she's doing it out of a great love for her husband and family. She works day and night because the needs and desires of her family are more important than her own needs. Love is not unselfish and sacrificial and that's why the Proverbs 31 wife does what she does. Well, of course I love my family. I would do anything for them. I love God. But when I have looked at that passage, I looked at it like a to do list. Have you ever done that. Realized God was showing you something and then went to work at it like a to do list? It's all about love. Isn't it amazing how it always seems to come down to love?
The other insight I got this morning regarding this verse, is that we are Christ's bride. Maybe Proverbs 31 isn't just about how to be a good wife to your husband but how we can be Christ's bride. Instead of always coming to him with our wants (notice I didn't say needs), we should say to ourselves what have we done for him lately? Are we up before dawn, going through our day working for Him, and being joyful about it? Perhaps, He's looking for a little Proverbs 31 from all of us. "she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy".
vs 25-26 "she is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue."
I don't know. I don't claim to have all the answers. But what I do know, is that as I pray and fast today and prepare to go to the prayer meeting at church tonight, Proverbs 31 will be on my heart. Not because it's in the Bible, but because I love my family and I love God.
Monday, January 18, 2010
I was having Bible time with Christopher this morning and we were snuggled up in bed sharing one Bible. He would read a bit and then I would read and we would talk about it. He had so much happiness in his face. His head on my shoulder, we read together. And he looked up with his face almost in mine, and said mom, I want Jesus to be my savior, and we prayed. It was an amazing moment that I pray I never forget.
What does that have to do with my mother you ask.
Well, from the time I was a child, I would lay snuggled up with my mother and I would have my head on her shoulder and we would read the Bible together. I would be filled with so much joy as I spent time with my mom, time I cherished, and I wouldn't know how much I cherished those moments until she were gone and I had them with my own child.
I have many memories of my mother, but that is one of the most precious. Later on, when her life was drawing to a close, we returned to snuggling in her bed with my head on her shoulder, reading the Bible together.
"teach your children in the the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it" Proverbs 22:6
I thank God that my mother taught me about God. I'm so thankful that she was an example of how I should live. She wasn't perfect, but none of us are.
Pastor Chris said this weekend, if you want to know about God, look at Jesus. If you want to know about the Holy Spirit, look at Jesus. As Christ followers were are called to model our lives after Jesus. My mom lived that. And she taught me to live that. And now, I'm teaching my children to live that...hopefully.
Stop and think for a moment about what your example is teaching your children, or others around you. I pray my life reflects Christ.
"Now, go out there and be the life of Jesus to your world"
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Not only that, but as I am praying for my family unity and family unity around the world, I find that I am more acutely aware of how much I love and appreciate my husband. I am enjoying my children even more than I did before. I have so much love for my family it is practically bursting out of my chest.
I wonder, if this is just a fraction of how much God loves us, then I truly can't imagine what that love feels like. This is the radical love that led Him to choose the cross. I will strive all my life to attain that kind of love and won't ever reach it until I am in His presence. But I won't ever stop trying. Because that is precisely what He asks us to do. Follow Him, and allow Him to transform us.
I pray, that as I continue to fast, that love will grow, and as I end my fast in another 2 weeks that I wouldn't lose it.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wow! 5 days down and only 16 to go. At this point the thought of ending my fast makes me sad. I'm having such a terrific time with God. I feel so clear and connected to Him.
Well, I finished my book yesterday and today I picked up another. I started reading it a little while ago but got sidetracked with some things so I thought I'd go back to it. When I picked it up a piece of paper fell out of it. It was a copy of a magazine article called Impossible Prayers. I don't know where I got the copy, probably Lynnie, she's always sharing gems such as these and I must have thought it was fantastic and I wanted to keep it. The title intrigued me and I couldn't remember what it was about so that became my devotion today. It's about a woman who remembered not being afraid to pray and ask God for things that seemed impossible. And somewhere as she grew up, she "came to her senses" and realized God doesn't always answer every prayer and she stopped praying for big things. Inspired to pray impossible prayers she made a list and diligently prayed for them for about a month. But as they went unanswered, she tucked it in her Bible and forgot about it. About a year later, that paper fell out of her Bible and she read over the 10 impossible prayers. 7 had been answered! Even though she had tucked it in her Bible and forgotten to keep praying, she had started to pray and God heard her prayers.
The Bible tells us that He will hear our prayers, and when we are aligned with Him, he will be faithful to answer each one. Why, then, are we so timid? Why are we afraid to pray for the impossible? My Christopher is fasting and praying for the homeless to have homes and all believe in God. When he told me what he was praying for, I was kind of jealous. How I would love to believe again that God could really do something so monumental. But you know what? I was wrong! Because He CAN! Luke 1 tells us "nothing is impossible with God." NOTHING!
When did we become so hardened and callous that we stopped believing He could impossible things? Maybe we believe He can we just don't believe He will. Whatever the case, if we are aligned with Him and praying, He will hear our prayers and answer them.
Today, I am going to get my list of Impossible Prayers for the year 2010. I will prayerfully make this list, according to His heart and His will. But I will pray for what seems impossible to me. And even if I forget to pray and tuck them in my Bible like the woman from the article, I know He has heard them and He's already at work.
Do you have an impossible prayer? I'll pray with you.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Wow! The days just keep getting better and better. If this is how great I feel on day 4, then I cannot wait until Day 21. I want to feel like this every day!
Today, I woke up and had a great meeting with God. I read and prayed and spent time with him. It was also the day of She Community. Usually a very busy day for me. But everything was done in advance so I took my time with God in the morning and then went in to the church to set up. Afterwards, I came home and I had so much time to spare I took extra time with my devotion time with Chris and we read the Bible. Oh how I loved listening to him reading his Bible. We talked about what we read, what it means to us today and we prayed. Then it was my turn. I went back to the Lord in prayer for our ladies meeting tonight. It was such a serious topic, depression. I've been through that season and I just prayed that God would speak to His women tonight. And you know what? I believe He did.
I had such a wonderful time with these fantastic women that I am blessed to have relationships with. They have all touched my life in different ways and God has blessed these friendships. What a blessing it was to be there with these women, pray with these women, cry with these women, and laugh with these women. I love them!
So tonight as I sit down and write about my progress on day 4, I cannot express to you enough how important it is to let people in to your life. Let people in, love people, have relationships with them. The rewards are so great. I remember, after the end of my first marriage, I didn't want to let anyone in and I was closed off for such a long time. Oh how I must have grieved the Holy Spirit by blocking out so much love, my not allowing myself to show His love to others. And the blessing I missed by blocking out those people. Just as I wasn't showing the love of Jesus to others, I also didn't allow them to show me His love either.
In the end, it's all about who you loved because "He first loved us"
So go out there! Don't be afraid to love people, and be the life of Jesus to your world!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Today went pretty well. I woke up early and spent time with my God. I went to the staff meeting and met with Lynnie to pray for our ladies meeting Wednesday night. I spent some time with the kids, made dinner and went to small group. Sounds like a pretty normal day doesn't it? But in the midst of it all amazing things happened. I spent time with God throughout my entire day. I was constantly aware of my actions, my words, and His presence throughout the day. My husband, who is participating in his very first fast, is still caffeine free and nicotine free. Praise God, he hasn't even had the desire for a cigarette! As we talked today, we talked about where we have come from in our lives, the wrong paths we've gone down, so very grateful that God didn't give up on us. So very aware of how grateful we are that God is so gracious to pursue us and then forget our pasts. He just wipes it clean once we turn to Him! That's just so amazing to me!
In small group, as we gathered and fellowshipped, I was amazed to see how God was revealing Himself to each and every person there. How God has been having us all look back at where we have been in our journey and where we are now and how this is bringing within us such an appreciation and a spirit of gratitude. One woman looked back at an old journal and noticed that everything she had prayed for, every noble thing that God had put on her heart, had been answered. She was just in awe! And my normally quiet husband, spoke about what God is doing in Him.
When I came home, I read John 2 and the first thing I read was about how Jesus turned the water into wine. Now I've read this passage several times and I seem to glean something different each time. Tonight, I marveled at how Jesus sat and waited for every drop of wine to be gone. There was no wine left. Every drop had been consumed. Then he went to work. Right now as we fast, God is emptying us, we have to be emptied before we can be filled. You can't put new wine in with the old wine, it ruins the taste. In the same, way, He needs to empty us of our sin, pride, expectations, etc before he can fill us. Now I have heard so many people, including myself say "God, fill me". My question tonight is this, are you ready to be emptied?
In the words of Spongebob Squarepants, I'm Ready! God Empty me so I can be filled by You!
Monday, January 11, 2010
Today is the first full day of my 21 day fast. It went pretty well. I had such a great time with God this morning and the devotion with Christopher went well. We talked about if there was one big thing he wanted to fast and pray for. He wants to fast and pray for the homeless to have homes and families and to believe in God and go to church and for Miss Catherine to feel better. Talk about having faith in God. It's no wonder God urges us to have the faith of a child. He was told nothing is impossible with God and he completely believes that. He's fasting and praying for the homeless to have homes and believe in God. Nothing's impossible so nothing inhibits him from dreaming big dreams.
I was reading a book today called Forgotten God. Pastor Chris recommended it and it's a really good book. Well it asked a question today that really got me thinking. It's a hard question for anyone. It's one of those questions, that you wish you could just forget you heard because the reality of it is too much to bear. Here it is. If the entire world were as committed as you were, what would the church look like? If they gave like you give, pray like you pray, worship like you worship, have the faith that you have, would the church be strong, healthy, empowered or would it be weak and listless?
I told you it was a tough question. I mean, no matter where you are in your walk, there's always room for improvement in at least one area. So today I am examining where I am, where I want to be and why I want to be there. Because if I were honest, and the church was like me, the church would be scared sometimes, doubtful sometimes, led astray by desires of the flesh, trying to be strong but feeling weak. But I won't stop there. I am asking for God to fill me, sustain me, give me the strength that is needed to live a life that is fully and completely His day in and day out.
Why am I being so painfully open in this blog today? Because as I've heard recently, I look like I have it together but the truth is, I'm just an imperfect woman, trying to become the woman God wants me to be, feeling as if I'm coming up short, and yet not being afraid to keep trying. I want you to know, that we're all imperfect, we've all be led astray, and we can ALL keep trying. Because God's grace is limitless!
May God bless you all, wherever you are.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Today in church Pastor Chris talked about why we fast and the different ways we can fast. It was a terrific message that really settled in me. He mentioned that there are three parts to us, mind, soul (mind and emotions), and spirit. Then he said, whatever part is strongest is the one we feed the most. Now, I'm going to go out on a limb here. If I am brutally honest with myself, although my spirit is strong and has periods of being in control, for the most part, my body is in control. I love my time that I spend each day with God, but there are many times when my body or my emotions are in the driver's seat. So today, as I begin my 21 day fast, I say that my spirit is in control.
Chris and I were coming back from a birthday party and I declared our fast as officially started. Then he realized there was candy in his goody bag. Now, I could have let him have it, we weren't starting the fast until after the party. But I had already declared it as begun. So I told him, that candy will be a great treat after our fast is over! He was obviously a little disappointed but what a great teaching moment. So I took a few minutes to have the conversation about how during this time we are telling our bodies, they aren't in control. Our spirit is in control and God is in control of our spirit. And just to get him excited, we started yelling at our bodies. "Body, you make poor choices! God is in control now!" I am sure we looked pretty silly, but as Pastor Chris pointed out today, we are constantly at war with our bodies and what our bodies needed right then was a good talking to!
Today, I pray that we, as a family, will allow God to fill us and sustain us throughout this fast. That we will be constantly on alert to our fleshly desires, deny our flesh, and seek Him with our WHOLE hearts. I pray that when the fast is over, we will be able to maintain our spirits being in control and guiding us daily. I ask that God would unify our family as we seek Him together and focus on Him. May our Lord and Savior be the center of our family and families around the world. Do you have a prayer request? Let me know and I'll pray with you!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Today, I begin a journey; a 21 day journey of fasting and prayer. Our church announced that we would participate corporately in this fast and I was excited. I love times of fasting and prayer. It's such a time of sacrifice, and drawing nearer to my Lord and Savior. Oh how I love watching Him work during these periods.
Well, I sat down to think about what my time of fasting and prayer would be about. What would be my focus? As many of you know, at Thanksgiving my 13 year old son moved back east to live with his mother. It was heartbreaking. It's a long story, that I won't go into but the short of it is, we prayed about it, we heard, and we followed through. Sometimes, the hardest things in life, are things you know are right. Every day I pray for him, and every day I pray for his mom. But through this incredibly difficult time, my husband has been at his best. You see, it's in times of heartache and turmoil that he is truly at his best, and focused on God and on our family. What would normally be the downfall of a family, only brings our family together more.
During this time of prayer and fasting I am praying for family unity. Not only mine, but yours. You see, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the enemy hates unified families. His goal is to divide and conquer and in today's world too many families are being divided. Galatians 4 says "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." That's my prayer for families all across the world. Make no mistake, we are at war! And for me, during the next 21 days, I will be fighting for families. I'm fighting for mine, I'm fighting for yours, and I'm fighting for families all around the world.
I invite you to take this journey with me as I blog each day. Sometimes it will be a devotional, sometimes just a prayer or what I'm feeling or thinking. But I invite you on my journey. I invite you to sen me prayer requests for your family or families you know. I invite you to pray with me and if you feel led, to fast with me.
May God bless you all, wherever you are in your journey.