Monday, September 30, 2019

After the fast

It's early, so I'm going to take stock throughout the day, notice how I feel, notice what has changed...

One change, in previous fasts, I was daydreaming and watching food videos all throughout, just waiting for day when the fast is over and I could eat again. I probably ate too much, too soon.

Today, I wasn't chomping at the bit to start eating. I knew it would happen, but it didn't need to be immediately. I had some hot water with lemon instead and focused on what was more important. It was an hour and a half later that I slowly chewed a small slice of watermelon, and I was good. I went back to what was more important. I like that - answer to prayer number 1.

I wake up early (God's idea, not mine). But, since He wants to spend time with me at 5 am every morning, I want to spend time with Him; often groggily to begin with, but that's what you do when you love someone with your whole heart - you spend time with them. That's our time and believe me, no one in this house is awake to interrupt me at 5-7 am and that's nice.

So, before I am fully awake I begin to pray in the spiritual tongue God gave me. Why, because everything in His Word that He gives to children, to those who love Him with their whole hearts, I want that.

"You are to love the Lord Yahweh, your God, with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, with every thought that is within you, and with all your strength. This is the great and supreme commandment. 31 And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.”'(Mark 12:30-31, The Passion Translation)

For years I have been fascinated with and continue to find greater meaning in these verses. At times I focus on verse 30, in passionately loving God with everything I am and have, and continually opening more and more to Him. Today what I see anew is in verse 31.

In the way that The Passion Translation (from The Aramaic texts) quotes Jesus here, I notice that the second commandments is we must love others in the same way we love ourselves. I realize now that this is both a command to our will, to choose to actively love others, but it is also a law that describes how we unconsciously love others - bear with me, this is good.

We actually do love other people in the way we love our selves! Let me explain - if we inwardly hate ourselves, we will treat others with hatred, if we don't trust ourselves or God, we won't trust other people. Whatever we hold against ourselves, we will hold that against everyone we try to be in relationship with. If we are to have any hope of loving others in the way God created us to, it must begin with healing ourselves, in learning to forgive, then accept, then love ourselves.

I'm not talking about behaviors, sometimes we need to learn new ways of doing things and often we need to make restitution for ways we have harmed someone else.

I'm talking about doing what needs to be done inwardly so that we can love, so that we are able to grasp with our mind and heart what love truly is and where it originates. We cannot give to anyone what we do not possess. Proverbs 23:7-9 describes it this way:

"For as he thinks within himself, so is he.
He will grudgingly say, '“Go ahead and eat all you want,”'
but in his heart he resents the fact that he has to pay for your meal.
You’ll be sorry you ate anything at all,
and all your compliments will be wasted."(TPT)

Yes, yes, I know, we all feel the emotion we describe as love and I personally believe the closest emotion we feel that God would agree is love is how we feel towards our children. What we often call love might more accurately be identified as concern for the welfare of others, it might be a desire to please God with our attitudes and actions, it might instead be infatuation or lust, or it might be possessiveness or emotional need. But is it love as defined by the One who first loved?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says that we can do things that outwardly look like love, but without love in our hearts, they are may benefit others (still a good thing) but they we have gained nothing, we remain empty inside, it's all a sham, a show, an act:

"If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains,  but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value." (The Passion Translation)
Verses 4-8 describe how you know you have true love within yourself, it is no longer something you strive to do, it is a way you have become:

"Love is large and incredibly patient.
 Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else
Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 
Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. 
Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.
Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. 
Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Tell me more! As much as we value the spiritual gifts, God values love even more:
Love never stops loving.It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten."
Where in this list is your conscience pricked? Is it taking no delight in what is wrong (I think of t.v. shows, or relishing someone else getting their comeuppance) or is it being easily irritated (may be with our children or spouse), or is taking offense or dwelling in a failure and making it your new identify? 
Instead of feeling condemned (Satan's tool, not God's) be convicted to give this over to God, to repent of this attitude and lack of love, and ask Him to give you more love, to fill you up with love for yourself as His child as well as for others. That is my daily prayer, that my ego decrease, and that He increase so that I am more and more walking-talking LOVE. (John 3:30 TPT "So it’s necessary for Him to increase  and for me to be diminished.")
NOTE: Love is not staying within abuse. The most loving thing you can do is no longer participate/condone someone else's lack of control or desire to hurt you. Staying without requirements to change coupled with enforceable consequences is not love, not for yourself, certainly not for your children, and not for your partner. That's right, it is good or loving for the abuser. They continue to live in a cycle of anger, jealousy, self-loathing, and loss of love. They have no chance to change, while they have "permission" to continue as is. 
A person who has love for themselves, who recognizes their innate value to God, does not abuse themselves or others, and does not remain in abuse.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fasting day 7

Well, this was it. 7 days of water fasting.

I prayed today that I finish strong. That I not get swept up into fantasies about what I'm going to eat tomorrow. That's a downhill slope toward overeating and to me, dishonors what I have done this week.

Fruit, raw salad, vegetable soup. There, done.

I asked God to accomplish everything He wants done in me through this fast. Of course I had my own hit list of what I was dedicating this fast for. People I care for, people I counsel and my own needs.

I am amazed that I did it - and I am well aware it was accomplished by His power and not my own. I barely made it through a 5 day fast last year that I did for cleansing and restorative reasons, but I did that for myself, and not for God.

This was different. Completely given by God, enabled by God, and blessed by God, and and all I had to do was say yes. I've said that before, after yes, it's all easy.

I can't wait to see what is different from this day forward!! I praise Him, through Him all things in my life work for my good and in everything that is good I give thanks! Romans 8:28

Fasting day 6

What defines a spiritual fast versus any other kind of fast? 

A spiritual fast, like other fasts, involves denying the body food for a certain period of time, in order to move the mind's focus away from the body and its desires and toward God.
 It might be one meal, one day, several days, several weeks, and so on. At times we feel called to fast by the Lord. Other times we feel a sense that a fast is necessary for breakthrough or answers.

Common motivations for spiritual fasting include:
  • Mourning
  • Seeking redemption
  • Renewal of faith
  • Seeking a sense of purpose or direction
  • Struggling with a major life choice
  • Overcoming addiction or a crisis
  • Seeking intervention in the lives of loved ones
The physical act of denial is an act of faith. It is also an act of discipline and self-control over the flesh. It can remove addictions, clear our mind of distractions so we can listen to God, enable us to see that we are more than our cravings, and develops discipline over many areas in our lives.

It's not about what we are going without, it is about what we are exchanging that time spent on food for, and what we are subsequently gaining.

In Matthew 6:16 Jesus says, "When you fast," not if you fast or some people fast. It's an expectation that fasting is a part of spiritual Christian life. 

He said don't go around looking like you are "miserable, gloomy, and disheveled" as if a fast is some terrible burden on you, as if others should feel bad for you or praise your martyrdom. 

Fasting is a gift and should be undertaken with joy and humility, with an intention to not only fast from distractions such as food, secular t.v. and music, and other activities that do not help you contemplate your spiritual direction or what it is you are seeking to address with the Lord during this time.

"Whether it’s strengthening earnest prayer (Ezra 8:23Joel 2:12Acts 13:3). Or seeking God’s guidance (Judges 20:26Acts 14:23) or his deliverance or protection (2 Chronicles 20:3–4Ezra 8:21–23). Or humbling ourselves before him (1 Kings 21:27–29Psalm 35:13). Or expressing repentance (1 Samuel 7:6Jonah 3:5–8) or grief (1 Samuel 31:132 Samuel 1:11–12) or concern for his work (Nehemiah 1:3–4Daniel 9:3). Or overcoming temptation and dedicating ourselves to him (Matthew 4:1–11). Or best of all, expressing love and devotion to him (Luke 2:37), and saying with our fast, “This much, O God, I want more of you.”' ("The Secret Benefits of Fasting," Desiring

Fasting is a reminder that Jesus is the true food, and the true drink, the one that refreshes, the one that renews for eternity, not just for the five minutes we sit and scarf and then it's gone and all the momentary pleasure with it.

"Jesus answered, “If you drink from Jacob’s well you’ll be thirsty again and again, but if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life!” John 4:13-14 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Fasting day 5

Today I am thinking about what I am going to eat to break my fast. This is the first time I've even thought about food. No real trauma, just thinking about it and wanting to be wise and not pig out. That's a quick route to pain, bloating, and trips to the bathroom!

I'm thinking fresh fruit sounds good then later some vegetable soup. That's as far as I dare think, I don't want to go down that road of food fantasizing, that's the worst thing to do when fasting.

Instead of thinking about eating, a spiritual water fast involves spending that time I would have in thinking about food and preparing food and eating food instead in prayer, Scripture reading, or watching or listening to solid teaching and preaching.

Feeding the spirit instead of the body. Coming out on the other side refreshed and restored and renewed inwardly. I can't wait to see what God is up to and what He is working for my good during this time!

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose. Romans 8:28 TPT

Fasting day four

This week God has answered one specific prayer so far: to bring me more people to join with in prayer and fellowship in Christ.

Those with whom to pray softly and proclaim loudly, to praise and to sing, to soak in His presence, to hear and speak wisdom and knowledge that can only come from His Holy Spirit. If you haven't experienced it, I probably can't explain it or convince you, and if you have then you know exactly what I am talking about.  

So, answers....starting with the beginning of the week I spoke with a long time friend who shared she is one such prayer. Another friend told me about a group at a local church who happened to be meeting tonight (yes it was awesome!) and then there's another group walking and praying the Psalms together tomorrow. Plus I have two groups I pray with each week. My cup runneth over. Psalm 23:5b (You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.)

Often we aren't aware that the answers to our needs have already been provided, we simply need to ask. Then be on the lookout, assume God heard you pray the first time, be thankful.

Today the fast went much the same as any other day this week: His yoke is easy. It's easy to pull the weight, it seems like nothing at all for He does the heavy lifting. My job, and the hardest job in my mind, is to say "Yes." After that, it's all Him.

Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. James 4:8 The Message 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Fasting day three

Today is always one of my favorite days: I start Wednesday mornings early meeting first with my online prayer group, during which time we pray in English and in the Spirit, always having an interpretation or prophetic word and always feeling the presence of the Lord in such an amazing way.
After wards, I meet another prayer group at church lifting up our church body, our town, our leadership, even our president, in prayer. With all that prayer, you know it's going to be a good, good day. 

Especially while fasting. Every sense is more acute. Smells are stronger, touch feels more sensitive, and as I said, the presence of God is very palpable. Today after my morning online prayer, I felt so filled with the Spirit, so much of the glory fire on me, I wouldn't have been surprised if my face was glowing like Moses! 

I still went to the gym, and worked slightly lighter but not by much. When I am fasting, I do feel more tired, however the energy always appears when I need it. I feel that especially with this fast, which is a Biblical fast, not a cleanse or weight loss jumpstart fast. I feel a sense of well-being that I have not felt from day one when I have done cleansing fasts, although by day 3 in any fast, the desire for food pretty much ceases and there is a focus and clarity, much the same way.

So, you may be wondering how to do a Biblical fast.

Biblical fasting can be defined as abstaining from food specifically for spiritual purposes.
You may sense God leading you to fast, as I did this past weekend, or you may need breakthrough in an area, the way Esther and Mordecai did (Esther 4:3), or David did for intervention and for healing (Psalm 35:13; 2 Samuel 12:17,23), or to commit a ministry to the Lord or confirm the appointment of elders (Acts 13:2; 14:23), or to gain power to cast out demons as did the disciples (Matthew 17:21), to gain answers (Nehemiah 1:4), or even to spiritually prepare for a challenge, as did Jesus before He was tested in the wilderness (Luke 4:2)

"John Piper writes in his book Hunger for God: 'Christian also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction (in God) away."

Marylin Hickey describes her experience with Biblical fasting and breakthroughs:

"That breakthrough might be in the realm of the spirit. It may be in the realm of your emotions or personal habits. It may be in the realm of a very practical area of life, such as a relationship or finances. What I have seen repeatedly through the years-not only in the Scriptures but in countless personal stories that others have told me -- is that periods of fasting and prayer produce great spiritual results, many of which fall into the realm of a breakthrough. What wasn't a reality . . . suddenly was. What hadn't worked . . . suddenly did. The unwanted situation or object that was there . . . suddenly wasn't there. The relationship that was unloving . . . suddenly was loving. The job that hadn't materialized . . . suddenly did.

The very simple and direct conclusions I draw are these: First, if the Bible teaches us to do something, I want to do it. I want to obey the Lord in every way that He commands me to obey Him. And second, if fasting and praying are means to a breakthrough that God has for me, I want to undertake those disciplines so I might experience that breakthrough!"

I agree!!

You can read the original articles here:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Fasting day two

If you have been following my fasting posts, you will remember that yesterday was a good, good fasting day. No cravings, no hunger even, and peaceful. Today?

Pretty darn good! I had time to get up, spend some time reading my Bible (in love with The Passion Translation right now and its Aramaic conversational translation) then praying in the Spirit - always the best way to start my day.

The main effect of Day Two was I felt more tired than usual this afternoon, however, the truth be told (run-on sentence alert) I was up late two nights at a women's retreat, then came home and had a movie marathon with my youngest son (uh, can you say 3 a.m.) Sunday, and was still up till midnight last night despite my many declarations that I couldn't wait to get to sleep. Jeepers, my fingers are tired now. Plus, I drove to the dentist (1.5 hours away) so I would probably be tired no matter what.

(And you win the prize for busiest, therefore important, person award - I think I will give myself a Eutaptics session on that little nugget.)

Thankfully, fasting does give me a sort of ethereal sense of being very relaxed in general. It's easier to stop the running and doing and have more being. I find I am reading instead of rushing. Yeah, it's good stuff.

That said: I vow to fall asleep by may be 11 p.m. tonight, may be, hopefully, we'll see... What does God say, "Let your yes be yes and your vow be vow...?"

OK, I would like to be asleep by 11 pm - happy, sleep police?

 At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice
as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you.[c]
Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar
and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.[dPsalm 5:3 TPT

Monday, September 23, 2019

Fasting day one

On the first day of sang it, right? I sang it while I wrote it.

I'm almost chagrined to say it, but this has been the most wonderful, dare I say it, easiest first day of a fast I have ever experienced. That's all God, right there. He asks me to do something, I ask Him to give me all I need to do it, that the burden be easy and the yoke light. He is Good.

For all that I require of you will be pleasant[a] and easy to bear.” Matthew 11:30 TPT

I've read some interesting Bible verses about fasting, including

Matthew 17:21:"But this kind of demon is cast out only through prayer and fasting.” 

Sometimes the only way to break spiritual oppression is through both prayer and fasting. 

Today I set my intention for the purpose of this fast as I understand it. I spoke to God about who and what was on my heart, where I feel oppressed or where those I care about are suffering. I gave Him this day as I do everyday, trusting Him to bring about His plans, because they are what is best for me.

 He knows the plans he has for me to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a future and hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And I went about my day: gym with my kids, on to helping my daughter with her coursework, seeing clients, back home for reviewing school work with my son and daughter, winding down with my oldest son and sharing our day and laughing about, well, stuff we think is pretty funny. Now, I'm listening to my younger son play a game (it's his "weekend" off from work so he gets to stay up late one night) while I talk to you, and reflect on a normal but very good day. 

Everybody went to bed friends with everybody else, and there is much to be said about the joy of a peaceful home.  

I found it interesting (and frankly wonderful!!) that I wasn't hungry at all today. Not one craving, no rumblings, just at peace inside and out. I think I told Him thank you about 20 times today because that to me is so cool, so Him. 

Goodnight, good fast


Today, as it is 1:47 a.m. I begin a fast. Like every other fast I've done, it begins with a thought about fasting. A thought that my mind dismisses as slightly ridiculous, and I wonder why in the world I would think such a thing. Then I realize God is giving me an idea to fast, and He has a plan for that fast.

A year ago, fasting was a part of my regular routine. It began as a 3 day fast to cleanse and break an unhealthy relationship with food - thinking about food, living my life around preparing food and enjoying food but often feeling like a slave to food. The next best, most artfully prepared, the most authentic, the most ethnic, the most praised, food, glorious food...wait, that's a song.

It made such a difference in my life (I mean spiritually, emotionally mentally and dang, did my skin look good) that I continued to fast one day a week, and once, I fasted for 5 whole days. Yes, water fasted. I was pretty proud of that... You know the story about I met a man with no feet...? Well, then I met a whole lot of people that fast for weeks, and even more than a month. Recently, one of my good friends and spiritual sister shared that she just completed 40 days (Yes, I said 40 days of water fasting.) So my five days...not such a big deal, it seems.

It was however, a huge deal to me. Realizing I was not going to die without food, literally not going to die, was liberating! OK eventually, people have been known to die without food, but that is not what I'm talking about. I mean there is a freedom in realizing my thought life didn't have to revolve around food, what to eat, how to eat (vegan, raw, paleo, whole-food-plant-based-high-carb-low-fat that really is a good way to heal but I digress) and will my family, will they, absolutely LOVE it, too?!

I read a very interesting book about fasting (note to self, look on external hard drive for that pdf and share it. Did I say it is...2:01 in the a.m.?

So there is a purpose for this fast. This is also about freedom. Freedom for me in a different way, but also freedom for others. I may share about that, or I may not. The details are not important.

Instead, over the course of the next 7 days I will share with you about this fast, about biblical fasting, and anything else fast-related that comes up while I clear my mind of food and instead allow space for quiet, for reflection on the Word, for prayer, for laughing and loving my children and seeking to best serve those I work with in counseling and health/fitness coaching. Not much will change, and yet so much will change and I will share it all with you.

In the meantime, my 40-day fasting friend is an amazing woman with a powerful ministry called Ashes to Beauty Ministries. In addition to a love of fasting, we share a desire to participate in God's work to set people free. Here is a link so you can read her wisdom on fasting.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

After yes, it's all easy from there

I'm spending time reading Kevin Zadai's book, The Agenda of Angels, which is eye-opening and well worth my time, and he was speaking to me about being yielded to the Lord. Have you noticed that God softly asks us to do something just outside our comfort zone, keeping it easy for quite a while, but asking us to do something for Him, that we probably wouldn't do on our own?

How do you respond? Do you say, "Ask someone else, Lord." Or, "What if they think I'm weird?" Let me assure you, you're weird, I'm weird, we are all weird.

Yet, those of us who initially say "No, Lord, no way," are often the same people begging God for an encounter with Him, or His angels, or a near-death experience, or a waking vision, etc. We want God to move big for us, but we can't even tell a stranger (who we will never see again and does not know one of our friends or family members)  that God knows their problem and He loves them.

The great thing about God, is that He makes it so easy for us. He really does all the heavy lifting. The most difficult part for us, is saying, "Yes."

Sometimes, I say yes right away (when I am being in my smart mode.) The cool thing is that I get that sense that God is happy, and proud of me right away and the weird looks of not understanding why I am giving a stranger money or going back to give the over payment back to the store clerk or telling a stranger God loves them just don't matter because my Heavenly Father is proud of me!

However it's not always the simple thing because we all need to grow a little more today than we did yesterday

When God has asked me to give something up that we both know is not good for me or my life, the biggest struggle for me is that I don't want to suffer. So, instead I dangle and twist, making myself miserable with anxiety about taking that step for weeks or months at times. I begin to pray for God to help me to obey Him, to help me want what He wants for my life, and then suddenly, I wake up one morning and I just know, that I know, that I know that I can do this.

And I say yes. And suddenly it's all easy, it feels so right and natural to be doing just what I am doing. I wonder why I resisted for so long. Of course God is right! Duh.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer. 29:11

In fact, He makes it easy...our part is simply to say "Yes." 

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30