Contentment, Faith, Inspiration, peace, Resilience, Social problems, Uncategorized

“Peace in a Pandemic”

Imagine running from a dangerous animal in a dark forest. You know you can’t keep the pace as your breathing intensifies. You conjure images of yourself being eaten alive and wonder if you’ll feel the pain or just become numb from the shock; maybe you’ll die instantly and won’t feel a thing? Your heart palpitates as you feel the animal gaining ground. You duck around the next corner and look up at the giant oak tree before you and wonder if there’s any way you can climb it to escape the impending doom you face.

Chances are, you haven’t actually experienced a scenario like the one I just described. Did you know that the definition of a “fear” is related to real or IMAGINED danger? Your body experiences the same physiological response if a wild animal were actually chasing you through a dark forest as it would if you were lying on your bed imagining it or dreaming about it while you sleep.

The mind is powerful. What you dwell on and think about, worry about, or dread has a physiological impact on your body. Constant agonising raises your blood pressure, makes your heart beat faster, creates tension headaches and muscle soreness. Your jaw clenches in your sleep; you can even get stomach pains and ulcers.

On the contrary, pondering the Word of God brings life. Focussing your attention on an absolute truth like the fact that God is with you and for you actually calms your nervous system down and brings comfort. Muscles relax, that pit in your stomach goes away and your heart-rate lowers. Your mind steels itself and you are clear-headed and at peace.

You are the framer of the wandering path your mind takes.

In the midst of the global pandemic, we are all faced with great uncertainty. Will baseball and netball for my kids resume? How long will Floraville Public School be closed? Will I have enough food and toilet paper if I’m quarantined? Will my online business weather this storm and stay afloat during uncertain economic times? Can I continue with my plans for family holidays overseas? How will the church continue to reach people in our community if we can’t gather in person?

You have your own list, I am sure.

You have a choice to make: allow fear to consume you and suffer the physical consequences. (Which, can I remind you, will not change the situation.) Or, you can stand firm on God’s faithful promise that his plans for you are good and that he can take anything tragic in your life and mould it in the palm of his mighty hand, forming something beautiful to be used in the future.

It’s time to rise up. Look beyond your fear and your own needs and lend a hand to a neighbour. Feed your children the divine taste of goodness while the world seeks to sour their palate. Use this time of social distancing with friends to lessen the space between you and Jesus. That crazy schedule is turned upside down so while it’s lying flat and empty, lay yourself down too. Fill your time with self care and rest.

Re-think your expenditures and make a budget you can live within, allowing more savings so you aren’t under so much financial pressure when “normal life” resumes.

God will take care of you. Sometimes, you just have to look up and ask him to show you what you actually need. His answer is simple and his supply is endless.

David’s poetic praise to God
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

Psalm 23:1-4 (TPT)
Fasting, Prayer, purpose, Uncategorized

Day 21: “Less Clutter.”

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,

    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 33:11

Well done for making it to the last day of three weeks of prayer and fasting. You have created a consistency in your time with God that will impact your life in a way that is meaningful and rich as you move forward.

Have you ever cleaned out your garage for council pick up only to find it full and cluttered again six months later? Maybe it’s your fridge or your pantry or that overstuffed linen closet? You organise and put everything in its rightful place while looking at it with fondness and enthusiasm for how well it will serve you going forward.

You’ve devoted three weeks to cleaning out the clutter in your spiritual life. You have prayed more. You have sacrificed to see breakthrough. You have opened up space in your life and organised yourself in a way that has been meaningful and sincere. Now, three weeks of prayer and fasting is drawing to an end and you are totally ready to move forward with more clarity, less chaos, and a closeness to the Holy Spirit that was lacking when you started this journey. Well done for making it to the end. (And, if you had a few hiccups along the way, no worries. Pat yourself on the back anyway!)

Spend some time reflecting on what might look different for you going forward. Who can offer accountability for you moving ahead so that you don’t get caught up in busy-ness and old habits? Ask them to check in on you. What will you be reading from the Word each day to keep depositing into your spirit? Who will you talk to about it? Will you keep a journal? Do you have a special place in your home where you meet with God? Don’t let yourself and your diary get filled back up with all the old habits and “stuff” that you worked so hard to eliminate.

If you have been praying and believing for breakthrough in a certain area and haven’t seen it yet, don’t give up. Keep pressing in and seeking God’s face. Find comfort in your pain by keeping Jesus close.

See each day as a God-adventure where you’re ready to take on whatever life brings you. There’s no secret sauce that turns anyone’s life into a sweet tasting main course of delicacies. Instead, most days are just normal, takeaway shop quality. Learn to find the yumminess in that sort of simplicity. Look for it even if it’s wrapped in brown paper. Learn to open up each day sniffing around for fruitfulness. Look ahead with anticipation that wherever you turn your attention, God is there with you. He’s cooking up something magnificent and you get to eat from his spread. Nothing has been spared in the cost and sacrifice God has put forth for you.

*Read Ephesians 5:11-13. Make a list of busywork that could potentially clutter up your spiritual life. Think about what you will put into place so this doesn’t happen. Ask someone to hold you accountable and commit to praying together as you go forward into 2020.

Fasting, Inspiration, peace, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 16: “Think.”

We pondered your love-in-action, God,
waiting in your temple:
Your name, God, evokes a train
of Hallelujahs wherever
It is spoken, near and far;
your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.

Psalm 48:9 (MSG)

Do you ever think about something in so much detail that you feel a release, like you actually did the thing you were thinking about? Only to realise the next day that you actually didn’t accomplish anything at all but you thought about it so thoroughly that you believed for a minute that progress happened?!

You actually ARE bring productive when you spend time thinking, even if you don’t physically mark off something from your list of to-do’s. Thinking is extremely valuable. Interestingly, billionaire Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is famous for taking a week off twice each year just to think.

Becoming a person of impact and influence comes through self reflection and development. What do you do when no one is watching? How are you thinking about yourself and life in general? When you’re alone with YOU, what reverberates across that grey mass between your ears?

What goes on in your consciousness affects the world around you in a major way. Your mindset towards adversity. Your self-image and self-talk. Your mentality and perceptions determine the decisions you make. If you lean towards negative thought patterns, recognise this and practise turning that around. Make a list of 10 positives in your life and silence yourself before that piece of paper. Look at it and THINK. Allow your mind to travel aimlessly down the path of positivity that each item on the list unveils. Pay attention to how good you feel!

Give yourself time today to stop and think about God’s impact on you. Your calendar needs space to breathe. Ponder. Speculate. Consider. Appraise. Imagine. Conceive. Ruminate. The wonder of heaven will be dropped into your spirit. Ideas will come forth that you never knew were possible. You will expand your own vision for the future and find yourself more content with the present.

*This time of prayer and fasting means you cleared your schedule of something. Social media, food, television. Whatever it was, commit to spending some time thinking today. Practise your deep breathing. Let your mind wander. Read Psalm 119:27 and commit to thinking for a change.

family, Kids, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 10: “Childlike”

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?

    the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?

Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows

    are the children of a vigorous youth.

Oh, how blessed are you parents,

    with your quivers full of children!

Psalm 127:3-4 (MSG)

The innocence of young children is precious. Watching how they stand in awe of everything around them brings wonder and beauty right into your lap. Answering “why” countless times as they seek to figure out how this world works is both exhausting and hilarious.

Children are a heritage from the Lord. They are not only your future leaders and caretakers. But, they deserve your “right now” focus and outpouring of intentionality and grace.

Kids believe they can conquer the world. They are full of hope and great ideas. They are creative and funny. They have no inhibitions when they are comfortable. It’s important to love and value the children in your life. It’s easy to pray for them and to support them because their needs are often obvious. They ask for help and articulate their fears in a way that prompts you to seek God for them.

Are you approaching Jesus with childlike faith today?

Jesus used ‘little ones’ as examples of how you should come to God. Ask yourself if you are pushing aside all your grown-up worries and sitting at the feet of Jesus, awaiting his encouragement. He will speak truth to your situation if you let him. He’s standing like a happy Father outside his car at school pick up, anticipating your endless chatter about your day. The Lord’s arms are open wide and he longs for you to climb onto his back; let him carry you.

Look at your own children with eyes that omit faults because of their innocence and purity. Then, exonerate yourself with the same respect. God is well versed in your flaws and indiscretions. And he loves you anyway.

Take the brokenness of your mistakes and the disappointment of regret and allow Jesus to put you back together. You are his precious child no matter how weathered you are with the passing of time.

*Ask God to reveal what areas of your faith are inhibited because of pride or an unwillingness to hand them over to your loving Heavenly Father. Pray for the children in your life. Ask God to heal the childhood wounds of your friends and family members. Most of all, see yourself as a cherished child of God today.

divine appointments, Fasting, God Speaks, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 6: “Now You Know…”

Your mercy and your truth have married each other.

Your righteousness and peace have kissed.

Flowers of your faithfulness are blooming on the earth.

Righteousness shines down from the sky.

Yes, the Lord keeps raining down blessing after blessing,

and prosperity will drench the land with a bountiful harvest.

For deliverance and peace are his forerunners,

preparing a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:10-13 (TPT)

The status quo blinds you. Mundane routines are like blinkers on a horse, keeping your eyes straight ahead, only focussing on the immediate day to day finish lines. Work, chores, kids, laundry, meals, bills. You begin to expect what you’re used to but all that is changing.

Have you ever learnt something new and suddenly you started seeing it everywhere? This is called the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon” or “frequency illusion.” Has your awareness increased or is there a sudden uptick in the frequency of the information? Chances are, when it comes to your spirituality, what you now know was always there.

As a Christian who is intentionally seeking God in a deeper way through prayer and fasting, you’re taking off your blinders and changing up your daily routine. Everything has a brighter hue. Life is louder, more exciting.

What is right in front of you that you didn’t see before? A scripture you read or a sermon you heard brings forth a cognitive bias where you are now seeing Christ in all things. You are amazed at the beauty of a garden, the fresh smells and intricacy of the leaves on the plants. You’re reminded of God’s hand in all things because you’re recently aware of the detail he brings to your own life. 

You studied a passage of scripture about a widow with jars of oil (see yesterday’s post) and now you see oil on sale at Woolworth’s and overhear a conversation at school about cooking with coconut oil. You’re reminded of your own increased capacity even though grocery stores and recipes have nothing to do with it. God is using everything around you to speak to you!

You know the power of positive thinking and someone tells you about Dr Caroline Leaf. You scroll through Instagram and someone quotes a line from her book. You now notice it because you’ve had a recent revelation about positive mindsets.

You’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon with new concepts in unexpected places. Lean into them. Don’t chalk them up as coincidences. Rather, see God in all things. Realise he speaks to you through nature, other people, signs while you’re driving, anywhere.

God’s blessings are all around you.

* Be on the lookout today for one of the concepts you’ve read or thought about over the last week to come up again. This reinforcement of God’s word is like a healing balm over your life. You are experiencing a bountiful harvest of revelation and blessing from God. He wants to speak to you. Pay attention and journal anything you see that relates to what you’ve been learning.

Fasting, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Healthy Vessel”

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5 (NIV)

You have spent the first several days reflecting inward. What does it mean to set aside time for prayer and fasting? What are you filling yourself with now that you’re creating more space for Jesus? You’re dreaming and thinking more intentionally. Your appetite is craving MORE of God and as you fill up your spiritual fuel tank, you will eventually begin to see an overflow. Those drained moments of quick-tempered distractedness will start to wain. You won’t find your wick being so short, lighting on fire with one more little annoyance (the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak). No; instead, what has been flowing into your spirit will begin to show outwardly.

Start to self correct when the Holy Spirit brings to your attention anything out of alignment with him. Repent quickly if you find yourself gossiping, worrying, judging. These traits will become diminished as you continue to focus on inputting everything God has for you over these 21 days. You’re going to bring forth wisdom in situations in which you were formerly stumped. Your word of encouragement to a friend will be prophetic and timely. Your patience with your children is extended beyond its prior shrunken borders. Your capacity for dreaming and believing God’s promises has expanded.

As you form new habits, spend more time in prayer, and focus your attention on God, you widen the rim of your vessel. What you once saw as an enemy to your sanity is washed over with the oil of gladness that the Lord has poured into your spirit. You can’t help but laugh at how serious you took yourself last week. Now, you have a heavenly perspective and what’s in you is starting to flow outward. Keep going as this is just the beginning.

* Read 2 Kings 4:1-7 and envision yourself as one of the vessels of oil that the widow brought home. What more are you asking God to fill you with as you seek him? As long as you make room, he will continue to fill you.

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)