On Fasting, A Review

Thursday, January 14, 2016  ::   2 important comments

In just a few days, the people of Second Mile will join hearts/hands, tighten our grip, and seek God together through prayer and fasting. So many new people joined our body this year and I've wonder if the thought of fasting is intimidating or overwhelming to some. I decided to give you a glimpse into what the week of prayer and fasting looked like for me in the past to encourage you as you engage this year, whether it is your first time or you've been doing this for years.

One of my go-to verses, one that is in my head almost every time I pray (no exaggeration) is Jeremiah 33:3. It says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know." What a beautiful, encouraging, and focusing promise! I continually claim this for myself, my family, my friends, and my church. I'm praying it for you, too.

As you consider what it means to fast, let me remind you this is not a legalistic, reward-based pursuit. We deny our stomachs as an act of worship. The emptying of our physical selves allows us to empty our wholes selves in order to be filled up with God. If you've never fasted from food, don't start with not eating for a whole week. Choose one or two days to go without food. If you've fasted before, challenge yourself to extend your fast by a couple of days. Whatever days you choose, let Sunday, the 24th be your last day because we will break fast with communion during the gathering. The experience is unifying, worshipful, and beautiful. (Chad will teach on fasting this coming Sunday to provide further scripture, instruction, and help.)

Take a look at some of these stories of my past fasting experiences. I hope it helps you as you look to the coming week.

This specific post walks through four personal lessons of fasting. My favorite part of the post is explaining how fasting tangibly shines light on the fact that we are exiles on this earth. If you don't read any other linked posts, read this one.

Sometimes we make excuses about how we have to eat, that fasting isn't reasonable. It is definitely true for some. If you are performing surgery on someone, please don't get the shakes from lack of food. However, our bodies have a way of convincing us to make excuses. Personally, I've been making excuses for a couple of weeks about why I don't need to exercise. I'm lying to myself. Don't lie to yourself about how you just have to eat. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Eat or don't eat, just make sure it is out of obedience, not excuses.

And sometimes you absolutely need to eat, and going without food would be completely legalistic and irresponsible. In that case, figure out a God-glorifying, flesh-denying alternative.

And finally, sometimes we need someone else to challenge us in prayer and say things like, "Do you want God to revitalize your church? Revitalize your prayer life." Zinger.

Dear ones, I so hope one or more of these posts encourages you for the coming week of prayer and fasting. Several of us have worked diligently on the prayer guide and we are expectant for what God will do in and through our prayers. Ready yourself. If you have any questions, please email me!

Hebrews 12:12-13 
Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 

From Transition to Peace

Friday, January 01, 2016  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

I've not often chosen a special word to mark a particular year. It's definitely a good practice and I enjoy hearing about people's words and how God uses it in their lives, but for whatever reason I have been unable to carry the discipline through for an entire year.

However, looking back at 2015 two words very clearly stand out to me.

Transition and Change.

In ministry, Second Mile gained our very own building which may be the biggest change our church has encountered thus far. Renovating the facility and moving into being the caretakers took grit, determination, stamina, strategy, and so much communication. After talking with key leaders in the moving process, many of us are still a little shell shocked. I believe we are just barely scratching the surface of experiencing "to whom much has been given much will be required" when it comes to this building. The good, good gift of our own home will continue to require transition and change in our hearts and ministry.

Relationships within ministry have also been laden with change. The longevity of ministry in Tucson provides my family with the opportunity to be the ones who are left when for the years before Tucson, we were always the ones leaving. The juxtaposition of leaving and being left created chaos in my heart. Shutting out new relationships in self-preservation became a burdensome temptation. Change and transition of relationships affected my whole family like never before. In terms of this specific opportunity for growth, I'm happy to see 2015 go and I hope to bring what I've learned about longevity and perseverance into 2016.

The change in my family of Esther launching from our home continues to challenge me. If you know me you know I desire to be a parent who claims, "Each stage is better than the last." Up to this point, I could confidently declare it; toddlers better than babies, elementary better than preschool, teenagers better than preteens in terms of not lamenting about the past, but being present in each chapter with my family. I've loved every single stage. The transition from all my arrows being safely tucked in my quiver to taking the oldest one and launching her out knocked me off balance. Learning a new normal of time and conversation with her and the family as a whole takes work. The good news is we move towards a beautiful new groove each day. I'm beginning to see ways I will be able to say this stage is better than the last.
So what about 2016?

Interestingly enough, two words swirl around in my heart and mind as I think and pray for the coming year. This is a first for me and I'm curious to see how it will play out in the coming months.

Peace and Focus.

Change and transition really struck a blow to my contentment. So many days in 2015 were taken up with tears and melancholy contemplation. To prayerfully shake it off, I've spent the month of December reading Psalm 77, specifically asking God to help me remember/meditate on his "mighty deeds and wonders of old." (If you are feeling tired, worn out, or in need, read it and pray through it. Do it every day until your soul finds release and relief.)

The fruit of meditating on this beautiful Psalm is growing peace. I'm asking God to put peace in my heart no matter what circumstances come my way. I'm sad to say this was often absent in my life during 2015.

Much to the annoyance of many of you, I've hinted about a big project I've felt God prompt me towards since last February. This year I'm asking God for the focus to make it happen.

The first verses I'm going to memorize in 2016 is 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. It is so, so good and inspiring.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (italics mine)

In this task I believe God has set before me (I will tell you about it soonish. I promise. Please forgive my vagueness. I just need a minute more to get my head on straight.) it is imperative I trust that only he will fulfill this resolve of faith I feel with his power so that he will be glorified. Yes please! It's the only way it will happen and it will take a tremendous amount of focus because I can tell you, I feel incredibly inadequate to complete this undertaking. Will you please pray for me? If you aren't sure what to pray ask God to help me to love him with everything I have and pray 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 over me. I seriously need both.
I won't be continuing consistent Moxie Memorizers posts for 2016. Please continue to take in God's word. You and I desperately need it. As Beth Moore says, Jesus saved my soul, his word saved my mind.

Let's encourage each other with some comment responses. What stands out to you about 2015? Do you have a word or two you're praying for 2016? What is the first verse you are going to memorize this year?

As always, I'm continually thankful and continually prayerful for you, friends.