I’m sitting at my kitchen table. It’s covered with chalkboard paint and little doodles from my roommate and I. Flowers and a cute ceramic owl to one side of me and a steaming mug of frothy coffee to the other. I love my mug, it’s big and red and has a ‘K’ on it…Winners. That store is awesome. The window is open slightly, the wind blowing the curtain and my fluffy dog is begging to be pet at my feet.

I have a cute life. It’s adorable! Quiet, peaceful, busy when it needs to be. Family, friends, a good job. I’m so blessed!

I realized as I sat here yesterday, having my daily reading time, that I’ve been through a valley lately. In the last few months I’ve been fighting what I knew was a huge lie, that I was undeserving to be in God’s presence. I would sit down (or maybe not even sit down, but just think about) and try to have quality time with God and this overpowering feeling of guilt, displeasure…I’m not sure how to describe it…would overcome me and I couldn’t present myself to Him. I didn’t feel adequate to pray or to read the bible. A voice, a lie, was whispered into my ear that He wasn’t hearing me, that I was faking my relationship with Him. And, as I had my morning coffee yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t felt that, or heard those lies, one single bit in the last week. I don’t know what changed, but those thoughts, Satan’s lies, just disappeared. I had unknowingly climbed from the dark, dry valley and reached the summit. Thank God!

Isn’t interesting that sometimes you fight a spiritual battle knowingly – you pray, you cry, you claim verses over the situation – and sometimes, all you have the energy or brain-space for is a simple prayer and suddenly you realize its over.

I love the feeling of when the cloud lifts. You’ve been feeling a burden for a while, you can’t seem to shake it, but then one day you wake up feeling awake. Feeling like you can breathe. Feeling like a battle has been won. It’s so amazing knowing that God and His warriors are fighting for us when we aren’t even aware. I believe that we still need to be sensitive to what He is asking us to do, how He is asking us to take part in the battle, but there are times when all we can do is say His name and trust that He is taking care of the rest.

As I’m learning lately, there are wins and there are losses, but they’re all used in God’s plan for your life. To form you into the person He needs you to be.

I’ve failed, I’ve fallen, I’ve turned my back purposely. And even if those choices aren’t what God would want for me ideally, they’re still parts of my story He saw coming and will use for His Glory. There is a reason for everything and as long as we remind ourselves in the desert and valley, that He should be our focus and our destination, we will come out the other side with more experiences to help us, or even others, through the next stage that He has planned.

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It Is Well

“Even so, it is well with my soul.”

Are you able to say this? When you’re in a rough patch, when God isn’t answering your prayers like you thought he would, when life isn’t going smoothly, when you feel like you’re just plowing through…Are you able to say, are you able to remember to say, “Even so, it is well with my soul”?

I’m at a point right now where the struggle seems uphill, in waist high in mud, with little to no relief in sight. I’m feeling like I’ve been called to do something that seems absolutely impossible, that God is holding me to, but my heart is weak. I feel like I’m pushing forward out of obedience, but that is all. Do you ever get like that?

I know this is a stage, a season that will pass and will flow into a place where I feel more heartfelt in what I’m asked to do. But it’s hard going through these places! It’s hard fully relying on God out of blind faith when everything around you is telling you to do something different.

It’s in these places, though, that we need to stubbornly say “Even so, it is well with my soul.” Even when I don’t feel like it, God’s will is well with my soul. Even when it doesn’t make any sense, God’s commands are well with my soul. Even though I can’t see it, God’s plan is well with my soul.

I truly believe that God will bless our obedience in times like these. He hasn’t asked us to take leaps of faith only when it makes sense, he’s just asked us to follow him. So when we do take that leap of faith when it doesn’t make sense, we are saying that we believe that God is real, and that he is all that matters.

By pushing through, past the emotions, past the limited view we have of our lives, and obeying God, we are opening the door for miracles. We are allowing God space to move where we otherwise would have filled the space with our nearsighted plans. We are acknowledging that God has ultimate control as well as acknowledging that we trust him to use that control.

We are proving that we believe the truth of the Bible.

So I am pushing forward. I know that this will pass, that God is working at destroying my mountain and one day I will see what the point of this strain was. And in the meantime I will stubbornly say “Even so, it is well with my soul”.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19

Love God Without Conditions

What if we loved God as though he had already given us everything we wanted?

Sometimes, maybe most of the time, I think we are worshiping and praying because of what we want God to give us and not just because God is God. Do you think you do this? I’d ashamed to admit that I know I do this…

I pray, there are answers, and I praise God. I pray and hear nothing, and I start to pout. Does this sound familiar? I hope I’m not the only one.

God asks us to follow him, to pursue relationship with him, he says that once we do this he will give us the desires of our hearts but he doesn’t say that this should be the point of our pursuit. Actually, I think that we will be surprised at how our hearts desires change once we start chasing after God.

What would happen if we continually humbled ourselves, recognizing that we actually deserve nothing from him, and praised and worshiped him just because he is the Creator, the Beginning and the End, the God over every single thing. Let’s just take a moment to remember who it is we are praying to. Maybe that’s our issue.

Maybe we have gotten so caught up in what God can give us and what he promises us that we have forgotten who it actually is that we are praying to. We live in a world that continually preaches at us about what we deserve, what we are entitled to, how amazing we are. But really, we don’t deserve anything, we aren’t entitled to a thing and we’re really just pieces of dust that are here today and gone tomorrow.

There’s been times where I have been crying, mad and frustrated, and praying “God, I’m doing what you’ve asked me to do!! I don’t know what else I can do, why aren’t things going my way? Why isn’t this happening? Why aren’t you answering?”. That prayer, broken down, shows just how arrogant I really am. Who am I to tell God that I’m “doing all I can do”? Didn’t he sacrifice his Son for me? And I’m complaining about having to…wait for my passport for to long?? Or that my knee isn’t healing fast enough?? Or…or…or…Who am I to ask why things aren’t going my way? Hasn’t he promised to take care of me, to bring me through trials, to provide what I need? And why am I complaining that he isn’t answering me when he has already told me that he will, in his time?

Who am I to demand anything from God?

Who am I to question him?

He loves me, yes. He desires a relationship with me, yes. But all the rest is a bonus. What I need to do is chase after him, work on my relationship with him, worship him, praise him…and expect nothing in return. The point of my life is to glorify him with everything I have, in everything I do, and not to do it expecting a treat in return.

If God, the creator of the stars, the universe, the oceans and the trees, the creator of human anatomy and all it’s complexities, the God that controls the weather with just the sound of his voice…if that God loves me and wants to spend time with me, that should be good enough. Everything else should be viewed as a perk, not a requirement.

This way of thinking is a continual rebalancing. A lifetime work in progress. It’s impossible to think this way for long without slipping back into the attitude of entitlement, whether we mean to or not. We’re human, since the fall of man we have been wired to be selfish. But if we keep being intentional about bringing our thought patterns and prayer lives back to this way of thinking, I believe we will see an amazing change in our relationship with God.

And because of the change we will see in our relationship with God, we will also see changes in ourselves. We still start changing from the inside out. I believe that if we continually make an attempt to worship God selflessly, we will see God move even more mightily around us. I believe that we will feel him near and hear his voice and we will be able to watch him move. On top of this, when we make God himself a priority and not what he can do for us, I believe that people will be attracted to us and we will be able to, and desire to, share our relationship with him with those around us.

Just Give Up

I give up.

I giiiiiiive up.

I am tired of thinking and trying and over analyzing and pushing…I’m tired of my mind doing over-time, trying to work out my situation. It’s exhausting. I’m worn out. I can feel the stress, the tense muscles in my jaw and in my shoulders. I can sense it in my behavior and my attitude. And I. Give. Up.

I’ve gotten to this place multiple times before. God shows himself, I see a big movement on the other side of my mountain and then suddenly…nothing. And when the nothing appears I over analyze. My mind takes things into it’s own hands and tries to work out the when and why and how and who.

God brings me to this place on purpose. I can see it being his way of making me let go, making me realize that I actually have no control. It’s a place where I feel hopeless and helpless and the looming impossibility is overwhelming. And I believe that this is exactly where God wants me to come so I can fully surrender to him. It’s where I realize that this is the only answer; complete surrender and defeat of self.

The fact is, I can’t do what I’m doing by myself. There is no possible way I can accomplish what God is asking me to do unless he, almost literally, carries me through it. And this doesn’t just apply to people who are waiting for their husbands to return or standing for their crumbled marriages, but it applies to anything and everything that God is asking us to do. Nothing can be done unless he is the complete centre of it.

That’s why, I believe, when you are trying to accomplish something on your own God just sits back and allows you to try…”Go ahead,” he says “You do what you think you have to do. Then you’re done struggling and pushing and forcing and controlling, you can rest and see how much easier it would have been if you had just allowed me to take over.”

It’s grace that get’s us to this point. Grace that allows us to see how completely inadequate we are but that it doesn’t matter.

Grace is realizing that nothing we can do will work as well as moving aside for our Savior.

So I’m done. I’m done pushing and forcing. I’m done worrying and wondering. But what I’m not done doing is what God as asked me to do. I’m not done waiting on God’s promises. I’m not done trusting that he knows what he is doing. I’m not done seeing God work in ways I had no idea were possible. I’m not done waiting for God to show up. I’m not done seeing the miracles that God is preforming.

And when Satan tempts me to give up, you know what I’ll tell him? I’ll tell him that I will give up, I’ll give up my plans, give up my expectations and I will step aside. Because when I step aside, God steps in and when God steps in he shows up in a power I could never have on my own. When I give God the space to work, he works. And when he works mountains crumble, demons are defeated and victory is won. So yeah, I’ll give up alright. But watch out Satan, because you and your lies are going to hell in a hand basket.

 

Are You Pretending?

Are you living for God or just pretending?

I look back on my life and realize that for the majority of it, I was keeping God at a distance. He was a part of my life. But just a part. He was there, but just on the sidelines. And, at the time, I saw nothing wrong with this. Why should I pray about what job God wanted me in? I would make the decision and, obviously, since God knows everything, it would be in his plan. He would have known ahead of time what decision I would make and, therefore, it was all just up to my choices. Right?

I was a Christian, I went to church, I prayed often, but it was more like I was talking to God and not talking with God. He was basically my Genie In A Bottle (link to Christina Aguilera’s music video…just kidding). He was a Being I called on when I needed help and when I didn’t need help, he was a very distant thing.

Not only did I not see anything wrong with this way of living out my Christian walk, I saw many things wrong with the opposite way of living out a Christian walk. I heard of people who asked God what he wanted them to do in the daily, no-brainer, decisions (what job to work at, who to date, where to go for lunch, IF they should go for lunch…) and I thought this was ridiculous. These people didn’t have their own brains, God created us with freewill for a reason, they were too weak, they were too dependent.

I actually don’t remember thinking that I should try it their way, I just remember my mindset: They’re stupid, I’m not, I’ll do it my way. Brutal.

My mom always told me I had to learn things the hard way. She was rolling her eyes when she said this, just like I’m shaking my head as I write this.

When I assess my Christian walk, I realize that I used to pretend to be a Christian. I was going through all the motions but there was no change of heart, barely anything different about me than a non-believer, and certainly no passion for the Lord. If someone had asked me “Do you love God?” I would have said “Yes, of course!” but inside me the words “But no one is actually in love with God” would repeat themselves.

The dictionary’s definition of ‘Christian’ is: “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.” Was I a believer of Jesus Christ’s teachings? I would have said I was.

In Mark 10:21 Jesus tells a rich man to go sell everything he has and then he will have riches in Heaven. He tells the man to do this, and then to come follow him. I was a believer and a follower of Jesus, but there’s no way I would have been willing to sell everything I had for him…

Matthew 16:25 says that whoever loses his life will gain it. There was no way, when push came to shove, that I would be willing to give up my…anything…for God. Give up your life? God isn’t really asking you to do that…

God will provide whatever you need, clothes, food…whatever it is, he will provide. But you need to get a job, make sure you’re earning good money, advance in that job, make sure it’s one you’re passionate about. And if you don’t do this, you’re lazy. God will help those who help themselves. Right? Um, no. Not what the Bible teaches, actually. Check it out in Matthew 6:26. (As a side note, I Googled “God will help those who help themselves” and…well…Go Google it, see where this saying stems from…).

If I was really, truly, living a Christian walk, loving God and believing his commands, why was I not living like I believed him? Why was I nodding my head to his teachings but yet my thoughts were whispering something different? Why weren’t my actions reflecting what I was telling the world (ok, not the world, but a select few, which in itself should have been a clue)?

I was pretending I believed what I had been taught since I was born, but really, I didn’t actually believe God would do what he said he would do.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

No, actually, what I need is a good nap, not some “quality time” with a God I rarely hear from.

If only I had taken the time to just try what the Bible was telling me! If only I had taken that quality time with God instead of the nap. I would have realized that the rest God is talking about goes deeper than just resting my eyes. It satisfies and stills the very depth of my soul. The root of my foundation is quieted. My need is met, not just temporarily satisfied with a band-aid.

I don’t want to pretend anymore. If God says move, I will move. If he says speak, I will speak. I have learned, the hard way, that when God tells you something he will follow you until you are obedient. And it’s not just because he wants you to listen to him, it’s because he knows that when you do listen to him, it will quench that hunger you feel inside.

I don’t want to pretend anymore! I want to see God work! I want to see his power in my life! I know now that when God is telling you to do something, all you have to do is take that one step of obedience and he will allow everything else to fall into place. He will do all the work.

Do you want to pretend you’re living for God, or do you actually want to do it?

You can start by opening your Bible daily. It’s just one simple step. God will cause a hunger in you that isn’t based on emotions but based on necessity. You will learn to crave him as you press into him.

Do it, I dare you.

Fasting No. 2

Fasting is similar to our relationship with God: It’s so simple it seems complicated. It involves a lot of trust, to just simply give up an item and trust that God is working. It’s so simple that I started thinking there had to be more to it, but there’s not. God simply asks us to give something up and he will do the rest.

Every single time I fast, it’s different. Sometimes the days speed past, sometimes they go slowly, sometimes I have amazing time with God, other times this is more of an effort, sometimes I feel like I could go days without eating a meal, and other times the line “bigger fish to fry” makes me drool…Every time is different, but I believe that’s because every spiritual battle is different. There are times where I see answers to prayer immediately, and others when I don’t see the result of that fast until months later.

Whatever happens: It IS doing something!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

 

God’s word does not return void! When he says to pray and fast, there is a reason. If you are feeling prompted to fast, take it seriously. There is a reason your spirit is putting this on your heart, there is a purpose!

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

 

It’s important to make specific time to spend with God while you are fasting. If you are going through something big, or have something that is heavy on your heart, spend this time praying intentionally for these things. Find verses that apply to what you are going through, verses that fill you with hope and ones that remind God of his promises. Even after the time you set aside for God each day, remember to pray for your case while you go about your day. You are doing battle, so be persistent and fight!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

 

When I ‘come down’ after a fast, I usually feel tired, discouraged, weak. I’m trying to get better at reminding myself that these feelings are normal for this period of time, but that is a work in progress. Satan will try to attack you when you complete a fast. He will lie to you, tell you that it was meaningless, and remind you of how impossible your situation is. You just tell him to go back where he came from! Even after you’ve completed a fast, the spiritual battle is still happening.

Many articles that I have read about Christian fasting have said that spiritual movement and answers to prayer will typically show themselves in the first three days after you break your fast and this is exactly what I have found. Even though I have seen this happen over and over again, I’m still surprised when it does. God is so faithful, he wants to bless us and he is ready and eager to hear our prayers! God is working in absolutely every part of your life in order to bring you closer to him and bring blessings to you. Keep talking to him and he will keep talking to you!

I have been amazed at the answers to prayer I have seen from fasting! Sometimes it happens the day I break my fast, but more often than not it’s within three days. Once it was months later that I had news of a huge event happening while I had been fasting. However you hear of things happening because of your fast, remember, it doesn’t matter! I know it’s easier said than done, especially when hunger (do you get the ‘hangries’ too??) is involved, but we are fasting to be obedient to God and not to see a result. There will be a result, fasting is powerful and effective, but that is God’s business and not ours. Our business is to be obedient regardless of the outcome.

If fasting has been on your heart, pray about it, research it, and do what you can. If you’re wanting to do spiritual battle, fasting is an incredible way to take it a step further. Just remember that you don’t need to do it a certain way because that is how you’ve heard of other Christians doing it. This process is between you and God and as long as you are health conscious, it doesn’t matter how other people have done it. Doing it one way or another is not going to make you closer or further away from God.

 

Fasting No. 1

Fasting. It seems like this is something that is surrounded by questions. How does it work??

Put simply, fasting is humbling yourself before God and opening spiritual doors. It is showing God that you are willing to sacrifice in order to see him work. And through fasting, you will see him work! Fasting is powerful, even if it isn’t fully understood.

There are many types of this sacrifice; many people choose to fast select items, others choose to give up all food and do a juice or water fast, both usually for a predetermined amount of time.

I had never thought of fasting until a couple years ago. It was something I had heard bits of information about, but I wasn’t interested. I thought that it was just something the weirdo’s did. I didn’t want to go all crazy with this Christian Faith stuff, I just wanted to be a Christian.

But when God came and flipped my world inside out, things changed. He put it on my heart to fast for three days before a big event, just like Esther, and so I decided to fast all food for these three days. I went out and bought organic fruit and vegetable juices so I would be prepared and I researched the art of fasting, both from a spiritual and health standpoint.

The three days went more smoothly than I had thought they would. Although I felt hungry, I didn’t feel deprived. I wasn’t drained and barely walking, like I had imagined I might be. When I did start eating again there were two sensations I noticed right away 1) I almost felt guilty for breaking my fast and 2) My stomach couldn’t hold as much food as I wished it could.

Since my first fast, I have done many others. Sometimes I’ve fasted for longer, sometimes I’ve only fasted particular items or types of food (Popcorn. if you know me you’ll understand that giving up popcorn is a big one for me…seriously…). I only fast when I feel like God is asking me to and I make sure that when I do fast, my mind is in the right place. There have been times where I’ve thought of fasting in order to lose weight and this is when I don’t fast. Fasting, at this time in my life, is not about weight and when my mind goes there I know that I need to protect myself from an unhealthy thought process. Fasting is spiritual. When I am not focused on doing this for God and God alone, I don’t even let my mind think about it.

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Ezra 8:23

The Bible talks about ‘fasting and praying’ many times. Queen Esther told her people to do a three day fast before she presented herself to her King and husband and Daniel also fasted for three weeks.

There is a level of spirituality that is released when you fast. It is a way to do spiritual battle on top of your prayer life. Not only is fasting powerful in the sense that it is a way to do spiritual battle, but it also allows you to rely more fully on God. I believe that this reliance leads to a more intimate relationship with our Savior. Not only because, yes, you are more dependent on him, but also because you are showing trust in him working in your life. Because of this trust and surrendering, you will see him work. Actually seeing God work and answer prayer will build on your relational foundation with him. There is nothing more satisfying or humbling than seeing answered prayer.

From what I’ve seen, fasting is not something that is frequently discussed in the Christian circles and from what I’ve seen, the power I have seen released because of my fasting, I believe it needs to be. Fasting should be a regular occurrence in a Christian’s walk with the Lord. The bible mentions fasting together with prayer often and so it makes me wonder why we have taken the white-out to that part of our faith.

Fasting is spiritual battle and Satan will sense it. He will try to push back, to tempt you and discourage you. But the more you feel this, the more you can have faith that you are doing the right thing. Satan pushes when he feels a threat, and ladies, let’s show this guy that he has something to be afraid about! Our God has power and strength and is already standing in victory, let’s do whatever we can in order to win these battles and stand beside our God!