Fasting, freedom, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 2: “Hungry?”

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

Galatians 5:16-18 (MSG)

Your palate is tuned into preferences based on its experience. Never had spicy food before? It’s probably too much to handle. Your mum never made you eat vegetables? Even the smell of green beans and Brussel sprouts makes you cringe. It’s the same in life: you hunger for what you know… you crave the familiar. Your mouth waters with expectation of the things that have brought you joy in the past.

You long for what you feast on in an endless cycle, like a hamster running on a wheel – one bit and and the wheel begins to turn; the voracity of your appetite keeps you moving, spinning; unknowingly, you’re limiting yourself to the familiar.

When you spend time fasting, you’re practising the art of saying “no” to the familiar. Changing up your routine, trying something new, relishing something outside the “box” of normality. You say “no” to what you desire so you can create a void for God to fill. You’re able to focus on something fresh – new perspectives, information, scripture.

Feeding your compulsions has become a habit you think you can’t live without. Comfortability, familiarity, ease. You’re ravenous for the satisfying warmth that comes with territory you’ve traveled. These three weeks of prayer and fasting are about shifting that status quo, rejecting what is easy. Challenging your time spent with something heartier, more complex. Denying your flesh that thing for which it longs in exchange for what at first seems yucky. In reality, selfishness is what leaves a sour taste once you’ve experienced the sweetness of freedom in Christ. Focus on hopping off the wheel today, your feet on solid ground, intentionally starving yourself of the familiar so you can focus on carving a new path this year.

*Take inventory today of what you feast on without even thinking about – is it your phone, certain friends and their input, thought processes, maybe even physical food that’s unhealthy for you. Decide what you will eliminate with a firm “no” in order to focus on saying “yes” to Jesus.

Fasting, Prayer, Series, Uncategorized

Day 1: “A Year of Possibilities”

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

A blank calendar lies waiting be filled with school terms, holidays, dental appointments and work schedules. The new year represents a fresh start with re-calibrated goals and expectations. You can easily tumble into the year, tripping over yourself and all the hurdles you see based on last year’s performance. You can be swept up in the tide of old habits and conformity to those around you.

Or, you can grab 2020 by the reins, turn your face toward heaven and will yourself to look ahead with the lens of expectation and possibility rather than skepticism and unlikelihood.

Big companies hire consulting firms to help them think outside the box and see possible growth areas. Kids lie in bed at night dreaming of being NBA or YouTube stars with no inhibitions. You watch movies and read books where your imagination takes you to unknown places and you allow yourself to dream, escaping the reality of what is in exchange for a few minutes of what could be if you were someone else.

Walking with God means you have the chance to wake up everyday with the possibility of becoming the perfect God-designed version of yourself that was planned before the beginning of time.

Your heart’s desires and best laid plans are minute compared with what God has in store for you. It’s time to dream again: let yourself go! Ask God to show you what’s possible for this year if you walk by faith and not by sight. When you position yourself intentionally and focus on hearing the voice of God, you’ll suddenly see what was inconceivable; the hypothetical becomes viable. The difficult becomes a breeze when you’re swept up in the breath of God.

Let’s begin our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting seeking God for endless possibilities, soaking in the refreshing chill of being in over our heads. Rather than stifling your mind with “what ifs” and “how to’s,” allow your mind to wander in the wide open space of God-sized dreams.

*Spend time today journalling a list of what’s possible this year for your health, your finances, your family, your work or school. Allow the Holy Spirit to whisper his encouragement for heavenly possibilities as you start your 3 weeks of prayer and fasting.

Fasting, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 21: “Victory!”

Photo: goalcast.com

Mission Accomplished!

Homerun!

Bull’s-eye!

What does triumph look like when it comes to finishing a fast? That you didn’t cave in and eat sugar or drink alcohol? Are you celebrating the elimination of social media from your life for three weeks?

Victory doesn’t always mean a “win” in the way you might measure it. Winning doesn’t necessarily mean that all your prayers were answered or that you had perfect quiet times full of “aha” moments each day for 21 days. Walking in victory means you’re able to allow vulnerability before God and others. That you can humble yourself and forgive. You can admit when you’re wrong.

A feather in your cap with Jesus looks like hiding under the shadow of his wing when all you really want to do is come out fighting. Open arms and a tender heart that’s ready to receive everything God has for you will put runs on the board. No fear. No shame.

You’re not in competition with anyone else for your Saviour’s approval or love. Your win isn’t at someone else’s expense. The only loser is the enemy who can’t rob you of your joy no matter what your circumstances.

You might put back something into your life that you eliminated for the last three weeks. Show up for spiritual training, nonetheless. Keep pushing forward with God. Stretch and run everyday… alongside your Heavenly Father, not ahead. He won’t let you fall behind. He’s there, next to you, cheering you on into a lifetime of victories!

“You’ve trained me with the weapons of warfare-worship;
now I’ll descend into battle with power
to chase and conquer my foes.
You empower me for victory with your wrap-around presence.
Your power within makes me strong to subdue,
and by stooping down in gentleness
you strengthened me and made me great!
You’ve set me free from captivity
and now I’m standing complete, ready to fight some more!”

Psalm 18:34-36 (TPT)
Devotion, government, Leadership, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 17: “Pray for Governments around the World.”

He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the itty bitty babies in his hands. You may have sung this song as a child – a reminder and promise that whatever comes your way, you can trust a BIG God to take care of it and you.

It’s hard to imagine your personal, intimate God who loves you and cares about everything you’ve brought to him during this time of prayer and fasting is the same One who set the stars in place. Named them too. The Earth orbits the sun by his hand, the same gentle hands that tell the children to come to him.

Poverty, world hunger, climate change, wars, economic failure, corrupt officials, Dictatorships, Communism. The world needs people like YOU, calling up to heaven, petitioning for heaven to come down.

Today, pray for those who are elected to serve our democracy. Elections in both state and federal governments will occur this year. Pray for the right leaders to fulfil the offices required to move our country forward. From local to national, their burdens are heavy and they need wisdom and strength to serve with integrity.

Pray for world leaders and nations divided. Ask for God’s protection and hand upon children less fortunate than yours who live in tumultuous places. You may never visit those lands but from your lips to God’s ears, you can affect them.

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.”

Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)
Contentment, Fasting, Fun, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 15: “TGI-Everyday.”

Illustration: @real_simple Instagram

The hustle of a busy week slows its pace and you begin to park yourself right up against the curb of your Friday: no homework, the possibility of a sleep in, and the unforced rhythm of the weekend ahead of you.

You’re excited because more than likely, you work to live. You might love your job but it’s still a J-O-B – a means to an end. Although rest and relaxation are necessary and God-ordained, you’re learning to become more present in your everyday moments. This time of fasting and prayer has caused you to tune into your surroundings and slow down to listen to the heavenly nudges coming your way.

Rather than wishing away all the tediousness of your chores, why not embrace each moment as God-given and necessary? The mundane of everyday life is, after all, life itself. The meetings, the groceries; cleaning, cooking and shopping. Homework and mail opening. Carpooling, phone answering, negotiating with kids. Calendars, bills, gardening and exercise. Walking the dog. Running errands.

You go to sleep. You wake up. And, you start again.

A life well lived is full and vibrant, giving excuse to unavailabilities, grateful for its fullness. Your journey doesn’t begrudge the busy-ness. You’re on a God-adventure!

Shift your perspective on the ordinary humdrum, day-to-day. Rather than wishing time away, find the beauty in the mess. You’re tempted to allow life to tumble past you – your days, weeks and months all muddled together and mistaken as ordinary and senseless.

Slow down and give thanks for your everyday, banal habits. Fix your eyes on the beauty you see in the mirror as you clean your teeth. Hum a tune while you cook dinner and laugh at the sheer expense of feeding your family. You’re not a victim of your routine. You’re the Chief Executive Officer of a blessed life: full and crazy and unique!

The grass isn’t greener somewhere else.

You’re not to feel sorry for your perceived lack.

Dreams of a future holiday mustn’t rob your today.

YOLO… so stop it with the FOMO.

“Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Philippians 4:11-13 (MSG)
Devotion, family, peace, Series, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 11: “Peace. In Family, pt 2.”

Healthy families are the fabric of a thriving society. Despite their imperfections, families provide stability and structure around the home life, our communities, and ultimately entire nations.

Broken families lead to poverty, lower academic achievements of children, and increased social problems. Although studies have been done the world over which draw these conclusions and validate God’s word in regards to his plan for marriage and family, you’re bombarded with the opposite messages.

The media tells you men can’t be trusted and that they are “toxic.” They are degraded and demoralised in our television shows. It’s a weakness for a woman to express her need and desire to have the leadership of a strong man in her life. The feminist movement has pushed a false agenda of “empowerment” onto women which says they don’t need fathers for their babies or two incomes to survive. All the evidence proves otherwise.

And, most importantly, God wants families in tact.

He longs for two parents to raise their children in loving, stable homes. God desires marriages to be strong and for your life and calling to intertwine and intermingle with your kids and their callings. You aren’t meant to live with a compartmentalised hierarchy of priorities. Allow God to flow through the mess of everyday life; and, by bringing unity in the home, let him weave his will into every situation. God first and everything else second. Moving in a rhythm of grace, pursuing God as individual family units creates momentum in our neighbourhoods and communities.

Your impact snowballs and takes ground everywhere it flows.

Today, let’s join in prayer for the family unit itself. If your family doesn’t look like you wish it did, it’s okay. God knows your desires and he has a plan for you. Spend time praying into your situation and asking the Lord to bring together strong families all across our nation. Pray for children who are being exposed to domestic violence and who are neglected emotionally. Ask God to mend broken hearts and give husbands and wives a fervour to fight for their marriages.

“To the fatherless he is a father.
    To the widow he is a champion friend.
    To the lonely he gives a family.
    To the prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy.
    This is our Holy God in his Holy Place!
    But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.”

Psalm 68:5-6 (TPT)
Fasting, peace, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 6: “Peace. Not Perfection.”

Artwork by: Bartosz Kosowski

Ten tiny fingers and toes, skin like velvet, total contentment with eyes closed all swaddled up in a cozy blanket: PERFECTION. Unblemished body, shiny leather, sleek and ergonomic with all the bells and whistles: FLAWLESS. Tall, dark and handsome with straight shiny white teeth, adoring eyes, and a sense of humour: IDEAL.

Some of you grew up aspiring to be the paragon of the school, the cream of the crop, the epitome of excellence and achievement. Your hard fought wins taught you that putting in effort gets you results and attention. You thrive on other’s approval, keeping order, juggling all the balls so they remain elevated at just the right height.

Perfectionism: the antagonist in this chapter on peace. Your desire to experience breakthrough during this fast is robbed when your aim is 100%. Every. Single. Day. The house must be clean. The kids must behave. The cooked meals should meet everyone’s standards. A raise at work. A good body. It goes on and on, as exhausting as walking up ten flights of stairs.

The problem with ideals beyond reach is the subtle message they send: “You’re not good enough.” Your life, your bank account, your job, your spouse, your kids, your size… measured against utopia, you have failed. When you feel you’re not enough or your life isn’t enough, you will find yourself striving, controlling, battling on every front. You’ve lost your composure and the lull of relaxation feels like guilt.

Give yourself permission today to let go. Give up your ideal and allow your present reality to suffice. You are not a problem. Comparison is a trap. The hamster wheel of achievement is hard to get off; you may feel the more you achieve the more others expect you to perform. Relax even if you know more could be done on your project, at work, in your home.

Pay attention today to the things that bring you angst and set them aside. Spend ten minutes meditating on gratefulness. Giving thanks for your current circumstances and looking for the good in yourself and others will resolve the tension in your life. God loves you just the way you are and he wants you to spend time with him, leaning into him for wisdom AND a to do list. Prioritise Jesus and HIS ways. After all, only God is immaculate, without blemish or stain. Glean from him and allow a cease-fire between your expectations and your reality today.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Proverbs 17:1 (NIV)