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What’s so much better than right…

Photo by Lacey Meyers

There are so many reasons not to do that thing. 

This is the way the inner-narrative runs. There’s the thing. That thing that you have to do, or are supposed to do, or are possibly supposed to do and that’s what you’re trying to figure out. And then, there’s that deep down no-way-around-it feeling that, you just don’t want to do it.

So what you do you do? Who do you talk to, to discern how to proceed? There are really only three options to consider.

  1. Talk to yourself.
  2. Talk to someone else.
  3. Talk to God.

Out on paper, it seems so simple, and we smile serenely and say of course #3. But the truth is, I almost always begin with #1. I think some people probably jump right to #2 (i.e. Crowd Sourcing on Facebook), but for me it’s a quieter poll:

I confer with me, myself, and I.

I make great points, you know, there inside my head. I am logical and thorough. I know my arguments inside and out. Astonishingly, I hear no counter-arguments. There’s no dissension whatsoever. We’re all in agreement and I win by a landslide. In fact, it’s a unanimous vote! All in favor say Aye! Hooray!

But then, the Spirit nags. Did I ask Him? Did I invite Him to my council-meeting?

*sigh*

I really should know better, by now. When I begin stacking up reasons for my own way, it’s usually a dead giveaway that I’m ignoring His nudges. I find that following His leading frees me from building my case. Click To Tweet Obeying His voice is always enough. I can usually leave my lists behind.

So I say fine. Yes, Lord. I will go your way.  I decide to do the thing, even if I don’t want to, and His joy becomes my strength and next thing I know I’m looking forward to this!

Then, strangest of strange, another curve ball comes.

Wait? I thought this was turn right, and now it’s a turn left, and did I hear wrong the first time or am I now veering off course? And this time, thankfully, I tune in to His whisper more quickly than before, and almost instantly realize the answer to both is, “No, child.” 

No, you didn’t hear wrong the first time.

No, you’re not veering off course.

I wanted you to choose right, because that was the only way to uproot the issue, the sin, in your heart. At that point, to go left would have been for your own selfish reasons, and that could never have been My best.

But now, you’ve chosen love, in order to go right. I’m so pleased. And now, in order to choose love, you need to go left. Both are obedience. Both are love. Both are denying yourself. Both are you choosing to submit your will, your heart, your life, to me.

That, dear daughter, was my plan all along.

This is what is so much better than right. The “right answer” will never give you rest. Arguments will never arrest your affections, your heart, and turn it to me. All your logic will never lead you to love. Listening will. Surrendering will. Worshipping will. 

And so, like Abraham, we listen on the first day and the third. We listen when he says, “Sacrifice your son,” and when he says, “Stay your hand.”

This is loving our Lord and letting Him lead. It’s so much better than right.

{How is He leading you now? Thanks for reading.}

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Recipes & practical stuff {last post of the fasting series!}

Let’s finish with some nitty-gritty practical details. I realize this might be a little late–I’ve heard from several of you that you’re already in the middle of your 40-day fast. But whether you’re already in the middle, or still considering and praying about embarking on a fast, hopefully these “field notes” will be encouraging along the way.

FASTING SURVIVAL GUIDE

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The day before the fast began, a dear friend gifted me with what she called a “fasting survival guide.”img_4882-1 In an incredible labor of love, she put together a special journal with a color-coordinated pen 😉 and a special message and scripture tucked away into a tiny envelope at the top of the page for each day of the fast. Every single day! Every single morning I would come downstairs, get my Bible and my journal, and open my special envelope and read her encouraging message and scripture. img_4880It was SUCH a huge blessing to have this personal encouragement and to have a special verse from God to begin my day. It also helped me be mindful about journalling every day, and keeping record of all the emotions, experiences, and insights from God. I can’t imagine doing the fast without it — it was truly my survival kit!

RECIPES 

I only share these as an example of one way to embark on a 40 day fast. This was what I did, and it provided adequate nutrition. Physically, I felt great. I had no headaches, stomach aches, no physical issues. Of course, the Lord will guide you to what you should go, but in case this can be helpful:

Protein Shake (Breakfast)orgain

  • 1 cup rice milk (or coconut milk) plus about another cup of water/ice (Costco’s brand has no added sugar and is the best price in the 12-carton case)
  • Spoonful of sunflower butter (I got at Costco)
  • Vega or Orgain protein powder (Orgain chocolate is my fav, Costco carries both)
  • 2 tsp. Dandy blend (optional: This is a detox tea blend that I love. But it tastes delicious without.)

Blend until smooth. 

Smoothie (Lunch)

  • 1 cup rice milk, coconut milk, or water
  • 1/2 mango or 1 frozen peach
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • Amazing Grass superfood powder
  • 5 TB chia seeds (added after blending)

Blend until smooth, then add chia. 

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Rice & Spinach (Dinner)

  • Brown rice (Costco has a great deal on organic, short-grain brown rice that’s delicious)

Cook according to directions, then add:

  • 1 TB coconut oil
  • 2-3 TB hemp seeds

Serve over a plate of baby spinach. 

*After a few weeks, we felt freedom to add lime juice, cilantro, and sometimes garlic or onions (which tastes like heaven after eating it plain for awhile!)

Final thoughts: Usually it’s easier to be hungry in the morning rather than late afternoon. Even though I’m an early-riser, I aimed to have my breakfast shake between 9-10am, lunch between 1-2pm, and then could make it to dinner around 5:30pm without completely falling apart. 😉 I’d go for a daily walk around 12:30-1:30pm which helped me really focus in prayer during hunger, plus walking made it less tempting to eat lunch early. If there was a day I felt particularly tired (or cold, which is very common when fasting) I’d take a hot shower and drink a cup of hot herbal tea.

That’s it! I know many of you are in the middle of, or just about to embark on a 40-day fast, and I’d love to hear how God leads you in your specific fast, what you lay aside, how He meets you, what you learn, etc. I’ve been struck by how simple it is to just set something–anything–aside for a season in order to seek the Father more fully.

While I’m not in the middle of a fast now, I feel like God is constantly showing me ways I can turn aside from distractions, fillers, and needless things in order to sharpen my focus and look to Him more fully. I don’t always obey His nudges, but I long to. I’ve never regretted a single moment seeking His face, and we will never regret forsaking an earthly pleasure in order to know Him more. It’ll be worth it.

{Thanks so much for following along on this series. Happy weekend. Thanks for reading.}

Photo by Hande Aksoy

Freedom {Fasting series}

It was just a few weeks ago I finally felt clarity (and freedom!) concerning the Mystic/Dominic thing. I shared it in an email to my fellow fasting friends, so I figured I’d just cut and paste it here. It’s personal, so it feels kinda scary to share, but I figure what’s most personal to me might just be most personally encouraging to you. So here goes:

I feel like something has broken free in my heart. Maybe … taking a risk here… maybe freed from Mystic? The past few weeks I’ve been going through this Confession exercise from Charles Finney (quoted in The Daniel Prayer). It’s nothing magical, just basically the idea that the prophet Daniel interceded for his people by confessing and repenting, both for himself and for his people, and Finney believed that Revival came on a large scale when revival came on a small scale, through personal renewal, repentance, humility and contrition, through simply returning to God with all our hearts. That resonated with me, I needed and wanted that!
I started on our road trip, and God brought so many things to mind. Subtle unforgiveness, control, manipulation, pride. It was hard, but so good! Then I read Spiritual Warfare by Karl Payne and felt like a HUGE weight of relief lifted off my shoulders because I realized that this work doesn’t depend on some subjective emotional feeling or experience, it didn’t depend on the right mood music 😉 or the perfect circumstances or “conjuring up” a certain spiritual environment, it wasn’t about me being perfectly prepared or being some spiritual superstar… the work is LEGAL, accomplished in the spiritual realm no matter how I feel or don’t feel, and the work is ALL JESUS’ WORK. He’s already done it! It’s a THING. It’s REAL. I don’t have to conjure it up or try to cultivate some goosebump experience 😉 … I mean, those things happen and I LOVE that stuff, but that’s not what I place my focus or confidence in. Jesus is ENOUGH! He’s already done the work! I just calmly and confidently stand on the already-done work of Jesus and apply it to every situation. The end. 😉
Anyway, I have felt this WEIGHT LIFTED! Like, I don’t need to manipulate or control other people’s spiritual experiences. I don’t need to be discouraged if our congregation doesn’t seem demonstrative enough, or if no one’s crying or people aren’t flocking forward to fall on their faces. I would LOVE  to see a dramatic revival such as that, but that’s God’s deal to bring and my responsibility is to PRAY, repent, obey, seek Him with all my heart and let renewal and revival be present in my own heart, then LOVE PEOPLE no matter where they are at, celebrating ALL the work God’s doing (and He’s doing SO MUCH), without instead focusing on not seeing enough signs and wonders, etc. 
It’s subtle, but I see now that this was at the root of my struggle with anxiety and fear during May/June. I feared that Jeff and I weren’t spiritual enough and that it somehow depended on us being super Bethel-ish. 😉  Not knocking Bethel AT ALL (please hear my heart!), just saying that God made us US and put us HERE with these people, in this exact place, at this exact time, and all we need is JESUS. He is enough! 
Guys, I just cannot tell you how FREE I FEEL! It’s not about us being good enough leaders, or “led by the Spirit” enough, or being perfect at hearing God’s voice. We are just his servants, His children, and if we uphold God’s glory and honor and His WORD, and we constantly align our hearts and prayers with the TRUTH of God’s Word, then HE IS FAITHFUL and He will bring revival and salvation and healing and deliverance, He will set the captives free! 
In response, my friend (who had the dream) responded with this. She had experienced the “Aha!” moment about Mystic at the exact same time that I did. (!) She wrote:
Yes yes yes!!! This is so crazy, I’ve been praying, processing, and chewing on so much stuff the last few days, and one of the things that I felt “break” inside of me last night was Mystic! Hahaha, so awesome how God does things corporately! I felt like God was saying that He was freeing me from relying on “personal experience” or feelings as a measure of His power, that true power lies in the truth of His Word and gospel, not what we feel or don’t feel, not what we see or don’t see. When we “continue in His word, then we are truly His disciples. Then we will know the truth and the truth will set us free” (John 8:32). Persevering, reading, and speaking Truth in faith sets each of us free, it really is that simple.
So often I’ve measured God’s moving and His power by “experiences” or “feelings” as proof, but I felt like He wanted me to be freed from that thinking. I felt like He said that Mystic represents “mystical experiences”, and while God definitely does and will move this way, I am not to measure freedom/growth/power by these experiences. As if we need these experiences as proof that we’re gaining ground! No! His TRUTH is what gives us victory, freedom, power, heart transformation, mind renewal, etc. I know it seems so obvious, but it seriously was a mind-shift for me. To rely solely on the truth of His word, not on mine or other’s experiences. The gospel does not need mystical experiences as proof that it is working, the Gospel stands on its own. And again, sometimes the gospel is most definitely “followed” by mystical experiences, but we should never follow mystical experiences to get to the truth of the Gospel. Or another way to say it is, we don’t need to rely on seeing or feeling something as proof that the Gospel is moving in power, it can’t help but to move in power! 
We have ALL been enjoying the fruit of this breakthrough, the joy and peace and confidence and rest of a true work of God being birthed in our midst. The next Sunday, after having this “Aha!” moment, a new family visited our church. I bent down to the little boy, offered my hand, and asked him his name.
He smiled and replied,  “Dominic.” 
{Thanks for reading.}
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Mystic & Dominic {Fasting series}

What’s up with Mystic?!

This was my biggest question headed into the fast. But the answer didn’t come until well after, just a few weeks ago.

Let me explain: One week before the fast began, a dear friend of mine was fasting and had this vivid dream:

She and I were in a hospital praying for people and they were being healed. We were going from room to room praying, and then after some time, we were praying for a particular young woman named Mystic. She was in labor, giving birth to a son named Dominic, but something was wrong.  The baby, Dominic, had a heart condition, and it had something to do with the blood. There was something wrong and the baby was in great danger of not surviving.

We prayed over Mystic, for Dominic to be born, alive and well. We also noticed that Mystic was in a corner hospital room with huge windows filling two walls, with a gorgeous view overlooking trees and nature. We were trying to convey to Mystic how blessed she was. She had the best location in the whole hospital. We continued praying for Dominic to be healed, and born.

That was it.

At first, my friend interpreted the dream fairly literally — we were going to pray for people and see them healed! Awesome. No big surprise there, we’ve both had dreams about that before. But then, she shared the dream with her sister, who just happens to be spiritually gifted in interpreting dreams. (Nice sister combo, huh?!)

Her sister challenged her. I wasn’t there to hear her exact words, but it was along the lines of:

No, this isn’t just about you praying for people. Mystic is your church. The name “Dominic” means “of the Lord” or “of God.” God is wanting to birth a true work that’s “of God” in your midst, but something’s off and that work is in danger. God has given you the “best space.” He’s provided abundantly for your every need, right in the middle of the city, there’s financial provision and incredible blessing. He’s blessed you so much and He’s wanting you to pray this “Dominic” work of God into being. 

I listened, wide-eyed. I knew, then, that praying through this dream would be a significant component of the 40-day fast, even though I had no idea what it meant. Hence, my big question: What’s up with Mystic?!

Now, by definition, a mystic is simply someone who believes in gaining spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect. We usually think of Eastern mysticism, meditation, etc. But by definition a Christian mystic is simply someone who gains spiritual knowledge through prayer and communing with God. Nothing wrong with that. Anyone who believes that Christians can be guided and led by the Holy Spirit of God, who lives inside us, would qualify then as a mystic.

So, I’m not necessarily put off by this word.

I also didn’t see why this would describe usSince you’re probably not familiar with our church, let me explain: We’re not a real mystical bunch. I mean, certainly not in a demonstrative, overly charismatic sense. If anything, I wished our church members were more mystical.

So, I prayed. The very first book I read on the fast was A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly. I’d read many quotes from it, but never read the whole thing. So I dove in and … wow! The first section (there are 3) was amazing. I wrote some about it here. As I looked him up and read more about Thomas Kelly, I was interested to see that he was known as a Christian Mystic. Hmmm… 

So, suffice it to say, I became very interested in discovering what this dream meant, and wanted, above all, for Dominic, a true work “of the Lord” to be birthed. 

More to come! Thanks for reading.

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New Life {Fasting series}

From the first time we met together, I marveled at her eager willingness to obey God, whatever the cost. I loved her humility, her willingness to receive, her honesty and frankness. So, it didn’t surprise me when, as we rode home together from our women’s ladies retreat, she announced she was going to do the 40 day fast as well.

It surprised her though. She was the one who wrote here, who said, “I’d never do that.” Let me tell you, she’s doing all sorts of things she said she’d never do, and it’s pure joy to watch as she faithfully follows God.

But all wasn’t easy in her life. After suffering a traumatic accident as a teenager, she didn’t think she’d be able to have children. Amazingly, she did conceive more than 7 years ago, during a time of significant challenge in her marriage. She testifies that it was God’s miraculous timing that brought this beautiful baby girl into their lives, and God used this baby to keep her and her husband together. Now, they have a strong, thriving marriage centered on God.

But for years, they’ve longed for another child. Month after month, year after year, they’ve prayed and waited and trusted, and hoped. They began pursuing adoption, happy to bring more children into their family however they could, and yet doors kept closing, timing seemed off. I remember seeing her, always so strong and positive, finally break down weeping at Bible study, aching so deeply for another child. Many gave advice to pursue many different options, but she and her husband kept sensing God lead them to “just” wait. Trust. Submit to Him, knowing His way was best. Besides, there were plenty of other things going on in their life to keep them busy.

And so when the time came to embark on this fast, she wasn’t thinking about a baby. She was praying for her family, for an upcoming move, for a possible trip to Africa. In short, she was giving herself wholeheartedly to the issues at hand, faithfully fasting and praying.

And wouldn’t you know it? After years and years and years of trying, with no success, during her 40 day fast …

she conceived. 

The 40-day fast brought forth a miracle baby. A gift from God, from the God who hears our cries and knows our hearts, form the God whose ways and timing are always perfect, even when we don’t understand.

No, fasting isn’t about twisting God’s arm to finally get what we want. But it is about aligning our whole lives with Him, submitting our wills and hearts to His, bowing our lives in every way to say, “You are God. I am not.” 

And He is so good.

Stories like this give me so much hope. There are things I still ache and long for. Things I’m waiting for and trusting him for. Good things. And the temptation is always to think He doesn’t care. That faith is useless and prayer is pointless and why on earth should we choose the narrow road or the hard path and why keep obeying when it’s dark and dreary and I’d really just rather have my own way??

Because it’s going to be worth it. All of it. Every prayer, every step of faith, every moment fasting or trusting or loving or obeying. Every difficult step. Every tear. Everything that’s done for Jesus’ sake, will be worth it. 

We might not all get a baby (!), but when we die to ourselves, to our own way, new life always springs up within, to the praise and glory of God.

{Thanks for reading.}

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Dreams continued {Fasting series}

On Monday, I shared the three dreams I had three nights in a row, about three weeks into the fast.

Of the three, the first was the most unclear, in terms of meaning. In some ways it seems obvious –– it highlights a fear of showing up unprepared. It highlights a fear of being in a situation where much is expected of me, but without having what I need to succeed. Certainly those things crop up occasionally, especially in speaking or leadership situations. But a more subtle part of the dream was the feeling of utter helplessness, because it wasn’t my fault that I was unprepared. It wasn’t my fault we were late. It wasn’t my fault that I didn’t know the lines. I am a responsible person, but I had no idea I was in the play! I had no idea I needed to bring my ballet shoes! And so here I was, scrambling in a lead role, because (presumably) of someone else dropping the ball.

That made sense. One of the issues the Father had brought to my attention, during the fast (and after) was my tendency to be frustrated, angry, or subtly resentful when other’s “irresponsibility” impacted me, hurt me, or made me “suffer” in some way. It’s control and pride and unrealistic expectations and un-forgiveness all wrapped up into one. I knew the bottom line was, I need to lay down my control and pride, and be willing to look foolish or irresponsible, and joyfully forgive, trusting that my Father would supply whatever really mattered in that situation.

The second one was very clear. It was situation specific, and the timing was impeccable. I knew my tendency to over-serve in a particular situation, to try to please people. The dream was such a vivid picture–trying to serve ice cream in hot weather when no one else cared. I saw the real issue, that I was over-serving not from a place of genuine love, but of wanting these people’s approval. When they didn’t thank me, or care, it hurt, which is a clear indication I was doing it for the wrong reasons. This dream bore great fruit in my life almost immediately. When I felt that urge to please people or  “fix” things through over-serving, I sat back instead, and waited on God, asking Him to help me do only what He asked, nothing more, and only what I could do without any expectation or approval, thanks, or affirmation. This dream has stuck in my mind!

The last one was also very clear, and I felt like it was for more people than just me. I’ll never forget the sinking feeling at the very end, when I realized that all this time, all this time that I’d “fallen in love,” I was already married. I was so overwhelmed with thinking, “How on earth could I have forgotten that I was already married?” It was the most horrible feeling.

Very clearly, I sensed this was a message for God’s people who are tempted to fall in love with the world. It is SO stinkin’ handsome and charming. We love the feeling it gives us. But someday, when Jesus returns, I believe many will have that same horrible sinking feeling, when our true Husband comes and we realize that we’ve spent our lives flirting with other loves. Many may then think, “How on earth could I have forgotten that I was already married to Jesus?” James makes it clear that friendship with the world is enmity toward God. We can’t be in love with both. We can’t have two husbands. And so that picture, that dream, that feeling, has haunted me ever since. The lure of the world is real, and subtle. Adultery doesn’t happen overnight. So we are wise to FIX our gaze on Jesus, our One and only husband, and remember that in the end, love for the world will only leave us with regret.

These were the three dreams I had during the fast. We’re almost done with this series, just three more posts. We’ll get a fun miracle story on Friday, I’ll share my final “Aha!” moment, then finish with some practical ideas and recipes! I think I’ve spent more time blogging about fasting than actually fasting — ha! Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading. 

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Three Dreams {fasting series}

Three weeks into the fast, I had three vivid dreams, three nights in a row. Now, I’m not much of a dreamer, but last summer, when praying about the Ark, I had two very vivid dreams that were significant to the Ark journey, so I wrote them down. Other than that, I haven’t really ever dreamed much. But these three really stood out. At the time I wasn’t sure what they meant, so I just wrote them down, trusting that their significance would be clear eventually. These are the three dreams:

  • We were driving to a ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet. It was about 7:05pm and the show was at 7:30pm. Suddenly, just before we arrived, I realized with utter horror that I was IN the ballet. Not only that, I was Juliet! Gah! I was so frustrated that we were late, and that I didn’t know I was in the play. We arrived, and there was all this bustle getting me ready, makeup on, costume ready, then I realized that I didn’t have ballet shoes! Then, just as the curtain was about to open, I realized I had never even seen the script (it was a ballet with words). I had no idea what my lines were, moves were, steps were…nothing. I was racking my brain trying to figure out how on earth I could pull off a total improv. of the entire performance. It was the most sickening feeling.

 

  • I was sitting on a hot beach, with a certain group of people. I wanted to serve ice cream for everyone to celebrate someone’s birthday, but when I opened up the ice cream carton, it was all eaten except for a tiny bit at the bottom. I was frustrated that someone had eaten all the ice cream, but figured I’d make due and just serve small amounts to everyone. Then I realized that we needed cones, so I headed off to the store in search of cones. All I could find was a Coldstone, so I went to the counter to see if I could buy cones, but someone was ahead of me in line. This person took twenty minutes making up their mind about what they wanted, and I was beside myself with frustration. Then, when I asked about buying cones, the worker just stared at me and said she’d have to go ask her manager. She left for a long time looking for her manager and I’m beside myself in frustration at this point. Then she comes back and says they’ll sell us cones but they’ll be $6 each. Gah! That’s like $30 just for the stupid cones! So I leave the Coldstone and finally find a store where I can buy a box of cones. Then I return to the beach, and of course the ice cream is totally melted, and I’m trying to make ice cream cones about of a small glob of melted ice cream, and all these other kids on the beach keep coming up and asking if they can have cones too, and I’m explaining there isn’t enough, then when I finally get the cones made, the person who’s birthday it is says, “Oh, I don’t want any.” And I feel hurt because I worked so hard to get it, and I look around and all the other people there are lounged back in their lawn chairs staring off, like half-asleep, totally oblivious to this whole ordeal, and I’m completely exhausted. 
  • I fell in love. *yikes* In this dream, I fell in love with a man (not a real person, by the way), and just remember being totally enraptured with him. It was completely pure, but we were in love, and I remember beginning to make plans to get married, and being so excited, and him going to my dad to ask if we could get married. And then, there was this moment of horror when my dad says, “Kari, you’re already married. You already have two children! What are you doing??!!” And I was absolutely horrified. I had no idea. I had completely forgotten that I was already married! How on earth did this happen?? How could I have forgotten? I was devastated.

Yikes, huh?! Not exactly the most sweet and peaceful sleep. Next I’ll share some thoughts on what they meant for me…

{Thanks for reading.}

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“Did it work?” {Fasting series}

“Well, did it work?” 

This was the most common question we received, in a number of different forms, when someone heard we’d done a 40-day fast. Understandably. We certainly don’t just go without all our favorite foods for fun. There was a purpose to this. It was meant to accomplish something, right?

So, most people want to get to the bottom line: Was it worth it?

I much prefer the latter question over the first. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Did it work? Let’s talk about that question for a minute.

In The Jesus Fast, Lou Engle speaks from experience and encourages aspiring fasters to remember that most often, spiritual revelation and breakthrough comes after the fast, not during. He said he has rarely experienced a supernatural “answer” during a time of fasting. Occasionally he has had a significant breakthrough occur around day 20-21, but more often than not, he wasn’t even aware of the spiritual significance of the fasting time, until afterwards.

I am so glad we knew that going into this. I didn’t have expectations of lofty dreams or visions. What I did have was a full assurance of faith that this was God’s plan, and faith, by definition, believes that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. So, I was confident that there would be a spiritual blessing by setting aside this time to diligently seek Him, but I didn’t necessarily have expectations of any certain thing happening during my fast.

But, things did. A lot of things are personal in nature, having to do with people and relationships, but I saw significant spiritual breakthrough in relationships. I saw people I had been praying for, making choices to lay things down, to turn more fully to Jesus. I saw issues surface and be dealt with. I saw answers to prayer for my children and family.

One team member saw a miracle. Like, a real one. I hope to share it with you soon. 

And I had several dreams. I’ll share more about those on Monday, but just from a practical standpoint I want to emphasize, and hopefully encourage anyone fasting, not to be discouraged if they don’t have some big spiritual high or breakthrough, or feel like they have goosebump experiences the whole time. Fasting is hard. It’s the dying of our flesh and self and it isn’t always a ra-ra pep-rally experience. The Christian walk isn’t this. Just as marriage isn’t always butterflies and Hollywood sex, so our love relationship with Jesus isn’t always goose-bump encounters and spiritual highs. I love those things, but the stuff of devotion, the stuff of marriage is often the day-to-day choice to love no matter how you feel. Fasting was a clear picture of this truth. It didn’t matter how we felt that day, we chose to follow through, by faith, believing God is who He says He is and will do what He says He’ll do no matter how we felt.

Our faith falters when we focus on results. Our faith flourishes when we focus on HIM. 

So did it work? Not sure. Does God work? Absolutely. Always.

He promises to reward those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6). That’s enough for me. 

{Happy weekend! Thanks for reading.}

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“I’d never do that.” {Fasting series}

Here’s another story from another dear friend. In case you’re saying, “I’d never do that…” she said that too. 😉

This has been such an interesting journey for me. I have never fasted in any shape or form before. Growing up super legalistic I have spent a lot of my adult life relying on myself and thinking of God as someone far away that is always ready to condemn you.

Over the last year God has been slowly and painfully tearing down the walls around my heart and I am so thankful to no longer be guarded against Him and fellow Christians. It has been amazing to be able to say I “heard” from God and realizing that He speaks to us through so many ways, especially His scriptures.

I definitely hadn’t planned on fasting and it was one of those things I was “never” going to do (kind of like speaking or praying in front of the church). Obviously God had other plans. Our family has a lot of big changes coming in the next year and I felt God asking me to prepare myself because it was going to be a rocky season. Every time I would ask God how He wanted me to prepare someone would talk about fasting or I would read about fasting in my Bible reading that day. Hmm, strange I thought.

Fast forward to a couple of months later and we were at the Women’s Getaway. I went into the weekend feeling ready to receive what God had planned for me and through prayer and conversation, felt really convicted that fasting was how He wanted to prepare me. If you know me you know I am not a halfway kind of gal, so I decided to go for it and started the day after we got back.

I love the fact that I came back and told [my husband] that I was going to fast for 40 days and instead of questioning me at all, he just says, “Okay, let me know how I can encourage you.” It is such a blessing to be married to someone who can say that, especially with how our marriage started out.

Fasting is such an eye opening experience. You realize that it’s okay to be hungry. You realize that God really can be what you desire. You also realize how broken the world is. I thought this time of fasting was going to be about our lives. It is in some ways but for me it has really been about interceding in prayer for our broken world. I used to be so accepting of sickness, divorce, etc. as just a part of life. These past three weeks God has told me no! You need to fight! You need to get on you knees and intercede for the world you live in. It is easy to see the brokenness in world. It is in your face every day. Now I feel like I am seeing it through God’s eyes and I am so excited to be able to enter into this battle with prayer and fasting.

My faith has increased more in this short amount of time than ever before. It may surprise you but I can get really focused on getting things done and being motivated. Being hungry has definitely slowed me down and made me more focused on what God has for me in the moment. It has also been a great way to share with people what God is doing in my life, instead of letting that mom’s night out be really awkward. I was reading 1 Corinthians this morning and this just resonated with me:

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31

That is what I want. I want people to know and see that anything that happens in my life is not my own doing but God’s.

I love this: “You need to fight! You need to get on your knees and intercede for the world.” Amen, sister. Well said. Thanks for reading.}

 

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From legalism to freedom {Fasting series}

I’d love to share with you a couple stories from Team members who were also fasting. I thought their experiences might encourage you along the way! This is from a dear friend of mine, written in an email:

Fasting started out being really challenging for me and I felt less joy and more disconnected from Jesus than I had previously and nothing in my life or circumstances had changed except for fasting, so I summed it up to spiritual attack. When Jesus fasted, Satan came and tempted Him, so I figured that was it.

But then I went to the beach with some friends who all stopped to get ice cream and candy, and I was internally struggling. “Maybe the store sells something yummy that doesn’t have sugar,” I thought to myself, and lo and behold they did. So I got the sugar free chocolate (which was still sweet and yummy) and ate two bites and immediately felt convicted. God showed me that I was being legalistic about the fast, but missing the heart of it. I immediately repented, threw the rest of the chocolate away, and moved on.

Fast forward a couple days and we are at community group and I just start munching away on chips, and after eating about six chips, I realized I had completely forgotten that I was fasting from said items, which was then followed by me berating myself for being such an idiot and how could I forget and so on and so on.

The rest of the evening and driving home, I felt like I was being pounded by shame and under major spiritual attack. As I was pouring my heart out to [my husband], I felt like the enemy was yelling in my ear, “Just quit. You’ve already messed twice, why even bother continuing? You might as well just give up or otherwise you’ll have to start completely over again and do it right this time. But you know yourself, you’ll never get it right, so really, just give up.”

Ugh! It was awful! I realized it was attack in some small part of myself, but the rest of me was owning the lies. I shared with [my husband] and my amazing and wise hubby listened and asked questions, one of which was:
“How do you think God will use this?”
“I don’t know” I snarkily replied.

“Well, maybe God wants to teach you about grace.”

Oh man, you know those moments when it feels like the Holy Spirit whacks you in the head and says, “Pay attention.” That was this moment. It’s such a simple concept and my mind understands it, but I really struggle to receive grace. I love that God gives it, but I spent so many years of my life abusing His grace that I tend to swing so far to the other side of trying to achieve perfection that I have a hard time receiving grace. Anyway, I spent some quality time with Jesus that night and realized that this fast was started out in my flesh (trying to be good enough to get some spiritual result for the lives of others) and what the Lord showed me was that fasting isn’t to get something (even if it is something good) or even become something good/better (legalistically following rules), but to just rest in Him and His grace. Jeff’s quote so perfectly sums up what God has been teaching me so far:

Fasting is never about how faithfully we abstain from food, but rather how faithfully God breaks into our weakness if we will only give Him the chance.

So do this: Know that a call to fast is not a call to perfection, but do not take the fast lightly, either. Our flesh will fail, yet God is full of grace. He loves the simple Yes! toward Him that a fast represents. So if you have previously tried and failed, be renewed and return to your consecration in His strength. Learn from my mistakes: There is simply no such thing as failure in fasting—the whole purpose is simply to break into a realm of faith.” (page 84, The Jesus Fast by Lou Engle & Dean Briggs)


After embracing His grace for me that night, I felt like something fleshly broke inside me and a new kind of holy brokenness emerged. It was as if accepting His grace for my weakness ushered me into some new part of His heart. I have found myself constantly breaking down crying (in a good way) and feeling a holy brokenness about sin and its effects in the world. I find myself desperately hungry to just sit in His presence and receive from Him, which is in direct contrast to how I started this fast (more trying to accomplish something through it and through my prayer time with the Lord).
The things I’m abstaining from no longer feel tempting and desirable. It’s like God’s grace washed away not only my brokenness, but what was left of my desire for the things of this world. It’s amazing and it’s the gospel, but it still constantly takes me by surprise that God not only forgives our failures and weaknesses, but provides so much grace that the desire for anything that is not of Him is cut out of our hearts as well!  It’s truly miraculous!
{AMEN, sister! He is so good. Thanks for reading.}