Thursday, December 29, 2011

That sly ol' Devil!

Sign on an agency marquee:

If the devil can't make you sin he'll make you busy.

Makes you stop and think doesn't it? 

You can do the right things for the wrong reasons.

Busyness does NOT equal godliness.

As you prepare for next year, take time to consider your current obligations. Lay them out before God and ask him for insight and wisdom as you choose what to continue and what you might discard. 

Are you busy for the sake of busyness or status or to keep up with someone? Are there hidden motives that you need to consider? 

Ask God for the courage to take an honest look and the trust to let go of anything that doesn't honor him. There is freedom in the truth and you can trust him to make the best choices for you. 

Start 2012 with a trimmed-down 'to-do' list. Don't let the busyness of good things keep you from doing the excellent ones. 

I am praying for you. 


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Fear in the New Year

Living by faith requires a level of trust that doesn't happen by accident. It's like a muscle. The more we use it - i.e. practice living by faith - the stronger it gets and the easier it becomes to trust. So what is it that makes living by faith so hard?


We all have fear:
  • fear of failure
  • fear of criticism
  • fear of ridicule
  • fear of standing out and being different
  • fear of success
  • fear of hurting
  • fear of not being enough
  • fear of being exposed
  • fear of: (add your own specific fear here)_____________________
God has not given us a spirit of fear, remember? Instead he gives us power, love and a sound mind. He has given us his Holy Spirit as a guide, teacher, comforter, and protector. He gives us the armor of faith to stand to the battles of the day and not only survive, but thrive and be victorious in spite of every obstacle and problem we may face. 

This year we will all face challenges that will test us, push us to our very limits and sometimes downright scare us to death. We don't have to live as people who have no hope and no help. As Christians we can face anything with strength and anticipation of what God will do in our lives. 

As you get ready to begin 2012 and are thinking about your new year's resolutions or goals you may already be dreading something you know will happen. Or, you may be afraid of the unknown, wondering how you will survive. 

What do you do? Get back to basics. Get in the Word of God and claim his promises. Pray. Take everything... and I mean everything to him. Don't wait. Do it every day. Don't spend a minute worrying about something all on your own. That's a waste of time and so unnecessary. 

Take a minute and click on Jon Gordon to read a bit of his story of faith and how he didn't let trying circumstances and fear stop him from pursuing his dream. 

Make one of your new year's goals developing the new habit of living boldly and without fear. What could you accomplish if didn't let fear stop you? What are God's promises for you for next year? Find out. Write them down. Memorize them. Claim them every day and be thankful even before you see the fulfillment of his promises. 

Give up your goals and dreams to him and ask him to help you face this new year with boldness, strength, and conviction. He'll do it, and you and I will never be the same. 

Your turn: What are your hopes for the new year? Do you have fears about the future? How will you face them? Leave a comment below. 

Remember I'm praying for you. 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Six days and counting...

Well I've decided on the Daniel Fast again for this year. It's healthy and not difficult to do and I'm looking forward to getting started with it. To get ready in the next six days I have some things to do:
  • start tapering off the sugar and caffeine
  • start drinking more water
  • write down some specific prayer topics: names, situations, etc.
  • search for scriptures to use during my prayer times
  • continue praying for God's guidance as I pray and for his presence in a special way
  • identify the book(s) that I will use for daily devotions during my fast
  • identify books that I will read for fun during this time
That sounds like a lot and it is, but I've been thinking and praying about this for several weeks now, so it shouldn't be too hard to get ready.

And I am ready. I need the refocusing that comes from fasting, and I am ready to meet God in a deeper way. I can't begin to imagine what God has in store for this next year. I'm sure there will be decisions, challenges, acheivements and opportunities that I haven't even considered and would never guess. One significant part of this fast is asking God to help me let go of my own agenda and embrace his.

One thing is certain and that is the character of God. He is who he always has been. Whatever happens in this year will not scare, surprise or derail him. He will be my rock and my refuge. He will be my guide, my corrector, my inspiration and the object of my worship and praise.

Have you considered fasting? If so, share a comment below - just click on the word comment and tell us about your experience.

Also, consider subscribing to this blog to receive posts by email. Just click on the link on the right - it's easy.

Six days and counting.  Are you ready for the  new year?  I hope so. Remember I am praying for you.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Whew! Did you make it?

I hope that Christmas was a wonderful day for you and your family. We were blessed with good food, family, safe travels and very little drama. What a blessing! As good as it was, we were very happy to get back home last night and have a day off today.

We hsve a lot to do today and this week as we prepare for the new year. I suspect we all do. Are you making lists:
  • new year's resolutions or goals
  • shopping lists (really?)
  • housekeeping chores
  • tax preparations
  • travel plans for next year
There are endless things to get caught up in including continued celebration - read eating here - as we approach 2012. As we enjoy that and hopefully a little more time off let's not forget the most important thing.

Let's go into 2012 with our focus on seeking God and making him truly the center of our lives. We need to:
  •  acknowledge him in all things (Psalms 3:6)
  • look for opportunities to do good (Galatians 6:10)
  • seek him first (Matthew 6:33)
  • guard against giving the enemy a foothold (Ephesians 4:27)
  • learn contentment (Philippians 4:11)
  • live in the strength of God (Philippians 4:13)
  • be devoted to prayer and communication with God (Colossians 4:2)
There are so many more directives. Which ones are important to you?

As we head into the new year, let's do it prayerfully, submitting ourselves to Him for His purpose. Before we commit to plans and resolutions, let's commit to him. We are promised only this day. Make the most of it today, whether you are working or playing. Do it 'as unto the Lord'.

As Christians we enter 2012 as a new year full of promise and possibility, and the knowledge that God is actively at work bringing about the fulfillment of his plan. I want to be a part of that, don't you?

This week is a week of prepration and wrapping up. I like to start a new year with a clean house, all the laundry done, paperwork get the picture. I'm also going to be sure that I begin it with my relationship with God strong and in it's rightful place - FIRST.

How about you? How will you get ready for the new year? Any suggestions for the rest of us?

 See you tomorrow and remember if you're reading this blog I have prayed for you. I may not know who you are or that you've been here, but God knows everything about you and he loves you unconditionally. He has great plans for you. Are you willing...?


Sunday, December 25, 2011

That Blessed Christmas Morning

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth 
to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their
flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord 
shone around them, and they were terrified. 
But the angel said to them, 
'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; 
he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths 
and lying in a manger.'
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men 
on whom his favor rests.'"
Luke 2:6-14

May the peace of Christ rule in your heart.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

I just had to share...

I hadn't planned on posting today but I read a post this morning that was so beautiful...such an amazing picture of the gift of the grace of Christ, that I had to share it with you. 

Please visit Paula to read this beautiful post. I know you will be as touched by it as I am.

May your Christmas be full of the grace of our Lord.


Friday, December 23, 2011

And the Word became flesh...

John 1:1
"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and 
the Word was God."

John 1:14
"The Word became flesh and 
made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the
One and Only,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth." 

Can you see His glory in the little baby in the manger? Let your celebration of the birth of God's promise point you to the sacrifice that redeems you. 

Remember, be thankful, and be free. 


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Waiting for the promise

Have you ever asked God for something that you knew would benefit someone else, but that you would never see? 

Parents often do this as they pray for the salvation of their children. Sometimes they pray for God's favor on their family so that their children will have easier lives. They may work hard and barely make it, but it is worth it for them to know that their children will be better off than they are. 

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a roll-call of people who lived by faith, including some who never saw an answer to their prayers but believed and trusted anyway, even under the horror of poverty and torture. Over and over again we see the words, "By faith..."

In the second chapter of Luke there is another account of a man of faith. His name is Simeon and we are told that Simeon had a promise from God that he would not die until he saw the fulfillment of God's promise of salvation for the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Here are some other things we know about him:

~  he was righteous and devout

~ the Holy Spirit was upon him

~ he was waiting on God to fulfill his promise

Because he was filled with the Holy Spirit he recognized Jesus when he saw him. The bible says he took him in his arms and started to praise God, and this is what he said:

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."  Luke 2:29-32

Simeon didn't live to see Jesus grow to adulthood. He may not have lived out the day, we don't know. We do know that he was satisfied to see the baby, the beginning of the fulfillment of God's promise to redeem his people. 

This story is so amazing to me because it mattered to Simeon. I think he genuinely cared about his people and needed to know that God was providing a way for them to be saved. He cared about them as a whole. He would never know most of them and could never conceive of the way history would unfold over the  generations to come, but he cared about them, enough to ask God to let him live to see the promise. 

For us the promise of Jesus and salvation was fulfilled two thousand years ago. It remains relevant today as God is still working out his perfect plan for redemption. 

How many of your prayers have eternal consequences? How many requests do you take before the Lord, knowing that you will not live to see their answer? For most of us our prayers tend to center around things that we want or need in the near future. We are so impatient! 

This year, let's commit to praying with an eternal focus and trusting in the promises of God to answer those prayers even if we will never know. Join me in asking God to show us how to pray eternal prayers. It's a new concept for me, but one that I believe will be both fulfilling now, and effective in the future. 

We know we can say one day, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised." 

If he speaks it he will do it. Trust him. 

Share the power of the promise of Christmas with someone today. Ask God to give you an opportunity to do it, and the courage and words to say. 

May you always trust in the promises of God as we celebrate the fulfillment of his greatest promise to us. 

God bless you. 


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What a great job!

The angel Gabriel has the greatest job, don't you think? Listen to what he says in the first part of Luke:
I am Gabriel.
I stand in the presence of God,
and I have been sent to speak to you
and to tell you this good news.

Can you even imagine? What if your place of work every day was in the presence of God? Oh, wait a minute. That's is! 

Now we are not exactly standing by the throne of God like Gabriel did, but the Spirit of God is living in us and we are in his presence every moment of every day. Just like Gabriel. 

And just like Gabriel we have been sent to tell the good news (read the Great Commission, Matt 28:18-20). 

This time of year and all year long people need to hear the Christmas story from those of us who know it and live it every day. It doesn't stop with the baby in the manager. It's just getting started.  

People need to know why Christmas matters. More and more every year I hear people who are tired and exhausted by the Christmas rush that has nothing to do with Christmas at all. Instead of being encouraged and invigorated by the power of God in their lives they are exhausted and stressed by the fanfare and left feeling empty and deeper in debt when all is said and done. 

We can be like Gabriel bringing the good news of Christ to those who are empty and worn out. We have been sent to speak to them to tell them this good news. 

Who have you told this year? Who do you need to tell? Do it right away. Let people know what Christmas will mean to you on January 1, and April 15, and September 11... What difference does it make to you? What difference can it make for them? 

The world around us is hurting and seeking and dying. We have the answer in Jesus. That is what Christmas means. It means that whatever we face, no matter how terrible it is, the battle has already been won. God makes all things new. He redeems us and restores us and loves us. 

There is someone you know right now who thinks that they have made such a mess of their life that nothing can fix it. That person needs to hear the words that Gabriel spoke to Mary:

"...Nothing is impossible with God."

Good news? We have it in such overflowing abundance. Let the real good news of Christmas transform lives as you speak it to those who need to hear. 

God bless you with the real good news of Christmas.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just for His Pleasure

I love the Christmas song about the little drummer boy who had no gift for Jesus; nothing, he thought, that was fit for a king. He gave what he had - he played his drum for the baby and then - this is the best line in the song: "then he smiled at me".

I know it's just a song, but I think there is some good theology there. How many times in scripture do we see Jesus taking the little bit that someone had and blessing it to become so much more.

~ the little boy's lunch of five loaves and two fishes

~ the fisherman's empty nets

~ the widow's mite

When was the last time you praised God just because he deserves it? When was the last time you dedicated the least of your talents and gifts to him, trusting him to accept your offering? Is there a part of yourself that you are keeping from him because you think it is not good enough or useful enough?

What will your gift be to him during this season of the celebration of his birth? What gift will you give him simply for his pleasure?

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."   Zephaniah 3:17

That's right. He delights in us. He doesn't want great accomplishments and magnificent displays of giving or service. He just wants us. Our hearts. Our whole hearts. What will you let go of this Christmas and turn over to him? Ask him to show you what you still hold as your own, then ask him for the courage to let go of it. There is nothing too great, to small, too battered and worn and dirty that he won't accept in his nail-scarred hand and redeem and restore to use for his kingdom. 

What is God's pleasure in this holy season? That would be you! Give him the gift of your heart. That is the true spirit of Christmas. 

God bless you this Christmas. 


Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sign of Emmanuel

Isaiah 7:14

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin 
will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Emmanuel."

Emmanuel...God with us.

What an amazing promise from a Holy God to the fallen, very flawed people who are His heart. God with us. He has been from the beginning, when man was still perfect and the relationship was pure and sweet. He was there when man first turned his back on God, horribly changing the future for all who would come after him. He was there through every moment of captivity and every century of struggle. He was there when his own perfect Son was born as a human baby and he walked with him every step of his earthly life - right to the cross. There, for the first time, he turned away. It was only for a moment, but what a horrible moment that must have been for the One who had known complete and perfect oneness with him. 

Because of that moment we can know Emmanuel. God with us. If he withdrew his presence for even the blink of an eye we would cease to exist. He is with us and we are never alone. Each moment we live is sacred and blessed. 

Where do you feel God's presence the most in your life? Where do you need him more? All you have to do is ask. He waits, ready to meet you. As you prepare for Christmas Day, take time in all the busyness to seek God, invite him to be present, and be still for a few moments to hear his still, small voice. 

God be with you this Christmas season. 


Friday, December 16, 2011

Inside Out

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also." Matthew 23:25-26

These are some strong words from Jesus, and while they were spoken to the scribes and Pharisees, they are also relevant for us. The scribes and Pharisees were militant about keeping up appearances for appearances sake. If they could point to all of the rules they followed and the religious practices they observed then they could consider themselves superior to those around them. 

They checked off all of the boxes and put on a good show, but in their hearts they had no love for others, no compassion, and no desire to reach beyond themselves to help another. 

Jesus looked at their hearts and he called them on it. 

Before we think too badly of the Pharisees we need to take a look at ourselves.  It is easy to get caught up in doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Fasting is one of those things. It's fine for people to know we are fasting but it should never be done for show or to make people think we are some kind of super Christian. 

As you prepare to fast think about your own life. Are there things that you do or say because you think it looks good or is right, but the internal conviction is just not there? 

I don't mean that you deliberately set out to deceive people, but the truth is that you may be deceiving yourself. Are there things that you do more out of habit than out of a desire to serve or worship God? Are your actions in sync with your inner beliefs or would we be surprised to know how you really feel about things? Are you nice to someone just for what you can get from that relationship? 

Before you get insulted and stop reading let me just say that we all have to be careful of this. There are always things that we need to clean out before we can move further in our relationship with God and with others. Here's an example: 

We all would like to say that we are open-minded and not prejudiced at all, but the truth is, we all have thoughts and feelings that are there that pop out at the most troublesome times. Be honest. 

We like to say we have compassion for people in trouble, but how often do we criticize and blame and believe that people make their own trouble.

We like to say that anyone is welcome in our church, but the truth is there are people we'd just as soon go to someone else's church.

You see my point? We all have room to improve. Part of preparing for and experiencing this fast is asking God to give you insight into your inner self. What things do you hide even from yourself that you need to allow him access to in order to change? 

The promise at the end of this verse is wonderful. Did you see it? First cleanse the inside so the outside may be clean also. In other words, we don't have to worry about what others see on the outside if the inside is right with God. And God does the work, we just have to get out of the way and let him do what he does best. Redeem and restore. 

This weekend take some time to be still with God and ask him to show you things that he would like to change about you. Ask him for the courage to let him do it, and thank him for loving you enough to always be working in your life. 

I am praying for you. Have you decided to fast? 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Setting the mood...

17 days and counting...

Think about the preparations you are making for Christmas. Decorating your home inside and out, trimming the tree, baking delicious, aromatic treats to share with family and friends, listening to Christmas music and watching the classic Christmas TV shows. It all creates a beautiful, festive atmosphere and keeps us focused on Christmas because we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch Christmas all day long. It engages all of our senses for a very holistic and sometimes overwhelming experience. We are not likely to forget that it is Christmas time.

In the same way we need to prepare ourselves for the experience of fasting. We need to create a supportive environment that will help us to stay focused on prayer and fasting and the things of God. How do we do that? Think of the senses again.

SEEING: What will you read and watch during your time of fasting? Does it matter? It really does. Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is
right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
That's a pretty tall order, and cuts out most of what we see on TV or the internet... I'm just sayin'. I'm not necessarily saying that you shouldn't watch TV at all during your fast, that is something you need to decide for yourself. What I am saying is that is it a time to be especially selective in our viewing. This also applies to reading material. While I'm fasting I only read books that focus either on an aspect of my spiritual life that I want to improve, or deal with some aspect of worship or the Christian life. I want to stay focused. Make it a matter of prayer as you prepare for your fast. 

HEARING: What music do you listen to? I listen to all kinds, but while I'm fasting I only listen to music with a Christian message. Again, for me it is about focus and what I will meditate on while fasting. 

TASTE: What are you eating or not eating? Do you have what you need? What will you be avoiding during your fast?

SMELL: I don't really know about this one except to say that I like to create a calm, inviting place to have my daily quiet time. Lighting an especially aromatic candle can provide a soothing, pleasant scent. That never hurts, but definitely isn't necessary. I have one that smells like a big chocolate kiss. Not sure that's really smart during a fast, though!  :)

TOUCH: For me this is about having the Word in my hands. I know many people have their Bibles on their smart phones; my husband does because he loves anything electronic, and there's nothing wrong with that. It is just my personal preference to have my Bible in print form so that I can highlight and make notes in the margin. It makes it a very personal thing for me. I also write in a spiral journal instead of keeping it electronically for the same reasons. I also have available any books that I am using for daily devotionals during my fast as well as index cards for writing down scriptures and prayer requests.  Another thing I do is keep note cards available. As God puts people on my heart to pray for I will often write a note to them letting them know that I'm praying for them. It's a very tangible way to encourage others and to extend God's love and care to someone who needs it. 

The time to think about these things is now, while you're getting ready. Some things you will need to seek God's guidance for. Others can simply be a matter of preference and what helps you to stay on task. Jot down some ideas now while you're thinking about it. Do you need to stock up on some appropriate reading and listening material? Do you need to designate a place for your devotional time and get it ready? Do you need to buy a journal and some highlighters and pens? 

It's a little more to add to the Christmas busyness, but well worth the time and effort. 

What are your thoughts on preparing to fast? What do you need to do to get ready? Leave us a little note. 

I'm praying for you.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Armed and ready!

18 days and counting...

Fasting is a spiritual discipline. It is not a diet. With both, however, you can expect opposition and sometimes outright attacks. Be prepared. 

We've all had experiences in which we're trying to eat healthy, nutritious foods only to go to the office daily and find that the most wonderful baker in the world has just delivered freshly baked, and still warm, brownies. Sometimes we stand strong, other times we crumble like the edges of a weather battered cliff. 

Fasting will be like that. Anytime we deliberately seek God we can be sure that it will not only make the devil unhappy, it will surely send him on a mission to attack and destroy. Count on it. Don't fear it. Prepare for it. Resist it. 

We do spiritual battle every day. Sometimes we don't recognize it as such, sometimes we can't call it anything else but that. The good news is that God has given us weapons for this battle and HE is the power behind them. 

Read Ephesians 6:10-18. This is the description of the armor of God that every Christian has available to him or her. These are not weapons for super Christians - there is no such thing. These are weapons for everyday, wimpy, weak people just like we are. They don't depend on us and our strength. They depend on God and his strength which is unlimited, unmatched and unbeatable. 

Read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 and see that the weapons we fight with are not worldly weapons of earthly power. They have DIVINE power, that is the power of God, to tear down strongholds and fight every fight that we face. 

Read 1 John 4:4 and be reminded that the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 

Know that you don't go into battle alone. God has already won every battle and has overcome the world. So how do you prepare?

  1. Pray for God's guidance and protection
  2. Enlist others to pray for you as you fast - be specific when you ask them to pray. Do you need protection, guidance, comfort, etc.
  3. Read your Bible daily. Meditate on the Word of God.
  4. Return to your scriptures often throughout the day. Write them out on index cards and carry them with you. Place them where they will catch your eye often throughout the day.
  5. Speak scripture and your prayers out loud. There is power in that. 
  6. Claim the promise of James 4:7-8: "Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will come near to you."
  7. In every situation remember that God is still God. He never changes. Speak that truth out loud. Thank him for being who he is no matter what the situation. 
The power of God is in his Word and in prayer. Those must be daily disciplines for all Christians, but especially during times of fasting. 

I don't write this post to scare you, there is no need for that. I do write it because spiritual warfare is real, and the devil cannot stand for the children of God to be strong. We tend to expect full on assaults, but the reality is that most of the time it is very subtle. A thought, a doubt, an excuse...anything to get us off balance and to take our focus away from God. 

Our best counter move for that is to get in the habit of taking everything to God. Good things, bad, happy, depressing, scary, frustrating, all of it. If our first response to everything is to look to God we will always win. 

A time of fasting and prayer is a powerful time and God will work in your life in ways you cannot anticipate. Fasting is not for the spiritually elite. And just for the record, there is no such thing as 'spiritually elite'. Fasting is for the average, ordinary, flawed child of God. He gave us this privilege, and even the instruction to fast and pray and covers it all in his magnificent promises. 

What will be the focus of your fast? What things are on your heart to pray about? Post a comment and share how you prepare for fasting. 

I am praying for you. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Promises from Scripture

I thought today I would share some of the scriptures that I wrote out in my fasting journal as a reminder of why I'm fasting and of God's presence and help.

Proverbs 16:3
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed."

Matthew 6:33
"But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these 
things will be given to you as well."

Psalm 20:4
"May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed."

Philippians 4:6
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

James 5:16b
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the 
contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We
demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against
the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it 
obedient to Christ."

1 Samuel 15:22
"To obey is better than sacrifice."

Because I was also praying about paying off student loans I added some scriptures that specifically spoke to the topic of debt. (This, by the way, was one of the prayers that God said "no" to.)  :)

It is important to make scripture reading and memorization a part of your fast. It is in scripture that God reveals himself to us and we learn about him. There are no wrong scriptures to choose. Which ones speak to you? Ask God for his guidance in finding and choosing some scriptures for your fast. 

Write them out. 

Begin to memorize them. 

Read them daily and ask God for a new and deeper understanding of his word. 

Be sure to record your thoughts on what God is teaching you and how he is speaking to you. 

If you plan to pray about a specific topic but can't find scriptures that relate, ask your pastor or someone you trust to help you. You can also request some assistance here. You can post a topic anonymously if you'd like to and I will post back with some scripture references that might be helpful. 

If you don't want to post on the blog, but would like some help, feel free to contact me privately at:  Sherri

What are you thoughts on fasting? Have you decided? Let me hear from you.

19 days and counting...

I'm praying for you. 


Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting Ready to Fast

Now that you've decided to fast, here are a few things that you can do to get ready:

1.  Keep praying - this is always the most important thing!

2.  Shop for what you need. Making sure you have healthy choices readily available will keep you from getting discouraged and giving up. 

3. Drink water. Most of us do not drink nearly enough water. This is necessary to keep you hydrated which can eliminate headaches. It also helps flush toxins from your body. You will be amazed at the difference you will notice in how you feel, the texture and condition of your skin, and (maybe this is psychological) how reluctant you are to put unhealthy things into your system once you are feeling better. I once heard that you should take your body weight in pounds and divide that in half. That is the number of ounces of water you should drink every day. That's from a weight loss specialist who helps people with medical weight loss plans. Some of us need to be drinking a lot of water! Don't we?!

4. Taper off - dont' binge.  If you are fasting from caffeine or sugar begin now to taper off a little each day so the change is not so abrupt and the withdrawal is not so difficult. If you start now, you might barely notice the absence once you start your fast. DO NOT binge as if you're storing up for a long hibernation. Not only will that make you feel terrible, it will actually make your first fasting days more difficult. 

5. Keep things in perspective. Remember that the fast is only for three weeks. It's not like you can never have chocolate cake again. By the end of the fast you might not even want chocolate cake anymore. (I have to admit that this is a little sad for me - not wanting chocolate cake just seems so... wrong!) :)  Whatever it is that you're missing most, you will have again soon. Hang in there. 

6. Use your hunger. Whenever you are feeling hungry or badly tempted, let that trigger a prayer response in you. This fast is about seeking God and replacing your hunger for food with a hunger for knowing Him better. Let your hunger remind you to pray. 

7. Journal.  Begin journaling now, before you begin your fast. Include:

  • your thoughts about fasting: hopes, fears, etc
  • prayers for yourself and others
  • scripture to memorize or read daily - write them out
  • what you are learning about yourself and God
  • anything else related to your journey
8. Enlist the support of your family. If your family understands what you are doing and why, they can be an excellent source of support and encouragement for you whether they join you or not. My husband did not fast with me last January, but he asked how I was doing with it every day, and was so encouraging! 

9. Plan for problem times. If you know of events that will take place during the fast that may be problematic, plan ahead. Do you need to skip them? If that's not possible can they be rescheduled? You may need to attend and just not eat if that is possible. You don't have to make a big deal out of it. Also, remember that if you're in a situation where it would just not be possible to refrain from eating, eat lightly, choose carefully and then get right back to your fast. This is not about legalism. God knows your heart and you will not be struck down if you don't follow to the letter. This is not an excuse to break your fast for just any reason. It's just a reminder of God's grace. 

20 Days and counting...

Have you decided to fast? If so, how are you preparing? Post a comment below to share your thoughts. I'm praying for you. 


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fasting to Freedom - more thoughts from my fasting journal.


We all have them.

Some of us nurture them into full blown reality.

Some of us flounder around playing at living our dreams. 

Some of us fear our dreams and keep them well hidden, sometimes even from ourselves.

Some of us think that if our dreams do not fall into the category of "churchy" or "spiritual" they cannot possibly be from God. 

Have you ever kept your dream a secret because it didn't match someone else's? Have you worried about breaking new ground by pursuing your dream in your own way? Have you ever worried more about pleasing someone else than you did about pleasing God? 

I have. 

This relates specifically to my dream of writing. I have dedicated my writing to God, but have worried about the direction I'm heading. It doesn't seem to be following the "usual" path of such things, whatever that is. 

As I fasted and continued that sweet communion with God I realized what I was doing. God has given me a gift that he plans to use and I keep trying to make it mine and compare it and myself to other people. It's exhausting, and one benefit of my fast is that I almost never do that anymore. Almost. I'm still working on this, but it's been a very freeing experience. 

Here is a snippet from my prayer journal. I highlighted this part when I wrote it because it was very powerful to me then, and continues to be today:

"May I never minimize your calling and mission field
in my life because I have held it to the standard of 
another flawed creature like me and wondered what they 
thought of it. Free me from that lie from the enemy 
and let my only goal be your pleasure in me every day."


This is another benefit of fasting. When we get a deeper look at God and a fuller understanding of who he is, we can't help but see ourselves differently as well. We see ourselves more as he sees us as our vision tightens in on him and we look more at him and less at ourselves. The flaws and imperfections take on a new meaning as vehicles for us to display his grace, redemption, mercy and restoration power. 

We embrace a new understanding of what it means to be created in this way, at this time, for his purpose. The truth of who we are in Christ. The truth shall set you free! 

What things in your life do you hold to the scrutiny of others instead of Christ? Are you ready for him to change that? Are you ready to be free?

I am praying for you. 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Still God's Agenda

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth 
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8-9

When I started this fast in January of this year it was to pray about a way to pay off our student loans. There was a grant opportunity available and I thought that praying and fasting about it would be a good thing. 

It was, but not in the way I thought. I know that God does not want us to be in debt to others and I've read and like Dave Ramsey's philosophy about being debt free, so of course I thought prayer and fasting about this issue would be right up God's alley, so to speak, and was absolutely sure that God would answer as I expected. 

I was almost two weeks into the fast before I called to check on this grant and when I did, instead of finding the obstacle free path I was expecting I ran right into a brick wall. First, hospice employees are not eligible because hospice programs are not part of the grant. That knocked me out. Second, only direct service personnel are eligible. Since my husband is a supervisor that knocked him out. 

Alrighty then!

The funny thing was I didn't get upset. Not once. I kept waiting for it. It should have been a huge disappointment, a ginormous let down, an insurmountable, king-sized, chocolate needing emotional episode for me. 

There was only peace. Weird!

At that moment I could only smile and thank God for whatever plan he had for us because I knew that whatever it was it would be wonderful. Better than my own plan. 

If anyone could have seen me at that moment they would have thought I'd gone round the bend. I probably had a stupid grin on my face but I'm telling you the peace of God was there. I had been so focused on Him, so immersed in His Word that I just knew it was the way things were supposed to be. 

God answered "NO" and it was and still is fine. Are we still paying off student loans every month? Yep. Will that continue for the rest of our natural lives? That would be a distinct possibility. Are we okay with that? How can we not be? God blesses us and provides for us every moment of every day. We have never gone without anything we need. We are able to give to others when God brings opportunities. We are able to travel. Even if none of those things were possible it would still be okay. 

Why didn't God answer this prayer like I expected? Did I pray the wrong way? I don't think so. Am I being punished? No. God doesn't work like that. 

So why?  I don't have the first clue. I may never know. What I do know is that God is perfect, his love for me is perfect and he never, ever makes mistakes. 

As you prepare for your fast, consider the requests that you will bring before  God. Are you prepared for him to answer in a way other than what you're expecting? If not, make that a part of your prayer. Ask him to keep you so focused on him that you know without a doubt that however he responds it is the perfect answer for you.  

Don't be afraid to ask whatever is on your heart. He already knows. Just ask him to help you be open to his will in all things. The most amazing thing about this incident for me is that it was such tangible evidence of God working in me to change me. I love that and that is what this fast is all about. 

I'm praying for you. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fasting Fears - Some thoughts from my fasting journal

The day before I started my fast I wrote several things in my journal, the first was about my fears. I listed three:

  1. caffeine withdrawal headache - mine are monsters!
  2. physical weakness
  3. spiritual weakness-failing, not making it to the end of the fast, spiritual attack     
First, the caffeine headache was there but not as bad as I thought. I had started to taper off caffeine and I was drinking a lot of water! Floating.

Second, I actually never experienced physical weakness. I didn't get dizzy or feel 'funny'. I actually felt good. That was a nice perk. 

Third, on the first day of my fast I was journaling my thoughts and writing out my prayers for the day (I highly recommend this) and here's what I wrote about failing:

"I haven't yet decided if I will do one or three days of just liquids to start
with. I don't want to make a commitment that I can't keep but I also have to 
remember that "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." 
So, is this about what I can do or what God can do? Since the whole point of this
is to see the workings of God - deep breath - I will step out ON FAITH and
do a three day fast."

It has been amazing to read my journal as I look back over the year. There were days of doubt and days of frustration, but many, many days of victory. God was faithful as he always is and he led me on a journey of faith and prayer that is still changing my life. 

I know him so much better now. I can't wait to begin this new fast and receive  the blessings that he has waiting for me. Do I deserve them? No. Will I earn them through fasting? No. Will I soak them up and bask in the love and delight of my Savior? Absolutely. 



I'm praying for you.