Rethinking my response

As I walked with a good friend yesterday, in the chill of the cold and icy afternoon, she asked me to tell her about The Daniel Fast.  I explained the spiritual basis for the 21-day fast from the Old Testament Book of Daniel Chapters 1 and 10, and shared my 3 motivations for doing the fast – for wisdom in making a decision about a ministry opportunity, to hear from God about His purpose for me this year and specifically what medium He wants me to pursue to share the messages He puts on my heart (speaking, writing, blogging, life coaching, counseling?), and for healing, restoration, & growth in the struggling marriage of someone very close to me.

After explaining the physical aspects of the fast – what foods were included and what was not, how my greatest struggle or “missing” is dairy – eggs, cheese, oatmeal made with milk, yogurt – my friend, who has walked beside me in my spiritual journey for the last 7 years, jumped back to the spiritual piece.  She asked me something like “So do you just concentrate on what you’re praying for and wanting to hear from God on all day long, while you’re at work and whatever you’re doing during your day?”.

I was quick to respond – “Oh no, I just added extra listening time and specific prayer about what I’m wanting God to speak to me about to my morning prayer and devotion time.  I followed one of the recommendations to make a list of prayer requests to pray over daily.  And I also do the daily devotion from The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast … so it’s basically just changed the way I spend my morning prayer time.”

This morning I’m rethinking my response.  SHOULD I be thinking about the spiritual longing piece all day long?  Can I really expect God to speak to me on these 3 critical issues in the hour I have carved out to be with Him in the morning?  Both familiar now and mindful of the allowable foods on the fast, is it enough to just pack up the day’s food to take to work, evidence of my physical preparation for the work day, while leaving my pleas before the Lord on my green overstuffed chair until the next morning?

I was struck by Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotion for today called “Walking with God” and based on Genesis 6 – the story of Noah.

… there is a difference between having salvation and actually walking with the Lord.  Being saved involves the forgiveness of sin and the blessing of eternal security, while walking with God is a privilege that we live out day to day.

A “privilege we live out day to day” – all day long?  I’m guessing so … walking with God, not just sitting with Him mornings for an hour.

And from Genesis 6:9 –

This is the account of Noah and his family.  Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

He walked “in close fellowship with God” – hmm, that doesn’t sound like a relationship built on an hour a day, does it?  That’s not really walking, which has kind of a feel of constancy – what I’m doing is more like skipping from one morning to the next, hoping God will enlighten me before I stick the dismount and move on to the rest of my day.

As I reread Genesis 6 and take in the full measure of disappointment and sorrow the Lord feels at the extent of human wickedness on the earth, His decision to destroy every living thing is understandable, and yet for Noah – who found favor with the Lord, who walked in close fellowship with the Lord, God gives incredibly detailed and specific direction about what Noah is to do in verses 14 – 21.

Could it be that if I were to walk in close fellowship with the Lord all day long that He may give me specific direction about the things I am praying and fasting for?  I am brainstorming all the ways I can carry my morning time with God full force into my work day and beyond …. do you have any ideas to share?

Made for so much more

I was shocked, but not really surprised, to have sexually suggestive comments left on some of my blog posts last night and this morning.  The blog was originally set up for me to approve all comments before they would be published on the blog, but wanting to encourage dialogue between my blog readers, I changed the setting to allow comments to be posted as you submit them without first going through the approval process.  Sadly this morning, I changed it back to have comments submitted held as pending until approved to avoid getting pornographic comments and spam.

It’s amazing isn’t it that something created for a good purpose can so easily be used for evil?  My deepest desire for the Claim God’s Best blog was for it to be a place where we could GO DEEP – be honest with one another, share common struggles, and be transparent in both weak and strong moments, helping us all move closer to Christ.  The idea of going deep as honesty, common struggle, transparency in both weak and strong, is not my own.  It is from “The Tangible Kingdom” by Hugh Halter & Matt Smay, and creating the kind of  incarnational community they talk about has been embraced as a mission of my church.  For a peek at what the book and practice of being missional is all about, check out this video.

You Tube – The Tangible Kingdom

I headed out to buy some bundles of firewood, and stopped at the car wash on the way, thinking as I drove of the many things God created for good that we have somehow felt free to abuse, distort, dishonor and wrongfully use for our own purposes.   I love going to the $5 car wash on the highway – you put your five dollar bill in the slot, the garage door opens, you drive in and the door shuts behind you – voila!  You are hidden away, secluded from everything and everybody outside the four walls –  just you and the radio sitting stationary between the tracks while the sprayer and brushes wash over your car … it feels so safe and yet exciting to be tucked inside the car, like the waters of Baptism washing over you.

So when “Mighty to Save” came on the radio, I became Julia Roberts in the bathtub scene in Pretty Woman, just singing out with wild abandon like no one else was around – I was a rock star there in my car, singing so passionately that I’m sure drivers on the highway were saved as they passed by.  Oh yes, girlfriend, I was the woman He created me to be in that car wash.  When the big dryer rack moved over the car and back and then the door opened, I drove out as a new person – my view was clearer now, I had a momentary insight that gave me a different perspective so I took a chance  being the woman He created me to be as I drove down the highway singing out like I was still in the seclusion of the car wash.

As I got closer to the nursery where I buy bundles of firewood, I was thrown off by a detour just a block or two ahead of the nursery where they were doing construction, so I followed the car ahead of me and made a right turn.  I wasn’t sure how to get just a few blocks ahead of the work site on a parallel road to the other side of the nursery – one street led to a dead end, another curved around and turned me around so that I was confused about what direction I wanted to head.  I retraced steps I could remember and chose a different intersection to make a turn, and finally followed signs to get back on a familiar path even though I knew it was going well out of the way.

A full 20 minutes later, I was thankful to see the nursery up ahead on my right … until I spotted the almost vacant parking lot and the sign that said CLOSED MONDAYS on the sign in the driveway.  Are you kidding me?  I’ve been driving around all this time, going out of the way because of a detour set up a block ahead of a nursery that was closed?  Seriously!  So I pulled back out of the driveway, headed toward the work site, only to be waved through by a policeman serving as a flagman alternating traffic from both sides down the one open lane.  Really?  Are you seriously telling me that I followed the guy ahead of me, thinking there was a detour and if I hadn’t I would have been waved down the single lane open by the traffic cop – the one quick way to have discovered the nursery was closed?

As I headed home, I was drawn in and captivated by a song on the radio I know I’ve heard, but probably never really listened to – a song I hadn’t heard enough to sing along, but somehow the words just penetrated my heart and filled me up.  When I heard that song, it made perfect sense that God had led me on a detour simply to hear it, all because I was on a journey for firewood. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.  -Proverbs 19:21

Will you take 3 minutes to listen and watch MercyMe’s “Beautiful”?  I promise you it will change the way you feel about yourself.

You Tube – Beautiful by MercyMe

I don’t feel worthy … Really?

One of the reasons I decided to do The Daniel Fast was to gain knowledge of God’s will concerning a pastoral ministry opportunity that was offered to me.  This may sound a bit bizarre, but I didn’t ask for any details – I came away from the conversation with only the information offered so I know very little about it.  I don’t know much about what would be expected of me, I have no idea how much time the commitment entails, I have no means of evaluating what I may have to give up in my current life in order to fulfill responsibilities in this role … the typical things I would normally ask and know to determine if I should say yes to an opportunity to serve are not available to me.  But I decided that if I truly wanted to know God’s will concerning this, I wanted to go into the fast to pray about it, devoid of any details.  It’s about His will, and I don’t want to do my usual thing of figuring it out on my own and then taking my decision to Him in prayer only to ask for His agreement.

Since there are 3 major things I want to hear from God on during this 21-day fast, the mathematician in me figured the best odds of getting answers from God on all 3 was to target one a week.  So I started getting a little anxious yesterday at the close of week 1 with no clear answers yet and decided to step up my game, you know start moving God along in the process.

I looked up LEADER(S) in my Bible concordance (apparently I had done so before because there were 4 passages in the list highlighted) so I could pray about whether I have what it takes to be a pastoral leader from a biblical perspective.  Matthew 20:26, Mark 10:43, Luke 22:26 – all pretty consistent that a leader must be a servant … well, okay I can do that – no spiritual rocket science there.  Let’s see what Paul has to say  in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 – we are to honor those who are our leaders in the Lord’s work … I think I’m good there, too – I honor, respect, even love my pastors at The Plant.

So no leads there … hmmm, it is definitely an honor to be asked, and it would be nice to be known in that capacity (even though I don’t know what “that capacity” really is), but wait a minute … then I would be one of those leaders that would be honored by others in the Lord’s work according to Paul?  Ooh, that doesn’t feel right at all.  I am not worthy of that, especially since I don’t even know what I’ll be doing if I say yes, so how I can even anticipate doing something worthy?

Feeling a little unsettled and no where to go next with those feelings, I went to read some comments from previous posts – thank you so much girlfriends for those … you can’t know how valuable your take is on some of these things I’m wrestling with; God truly speaks to me most audibly through my sisters’ voices so PLEASE KEEP SHARING – remember we’re already down 1 week and I need you and treasure you journeying with me!

So I read my truth-telling friend’s comment on the Day 3 post – What do I crave?  being valued…love….and being accepted for who I am. And the meltdown began … reading those words touched off something in me so deep, so wounding, and the watershed began.  I do not have the gift of speaking in tongues, but if blubbering through tears would be elevated to a spiritual gift, I would most certainly be anointed.  That is so me, needing to know I’m valued, that I’m worthy – yes me, not what I do, but who I am.  I couldn’t fathom being honored or respected as a leader just for who I am – and soon I was sobbing at the realization that I had to be given an assignment to prove myself worthy of the biblical mandate to respect our leaders.

As I prayed about whether this ministry opportunity was in God’s will, I had no footing, no details to make an informed decision.  When what I could do to make me an asset was taken out of the equation, I was left at the foot of the cross with only who I was, crying, wondering why – when I thought I had handled this issue so many times before, was there still a voice so deep but accessible saying you are not worthy, you do not matter.

In the time it took me to raise a finger to my cheek to wipe a falling tear, I made up my mind that I cannot accept the ministry opportunity unless I hear yes clearly from God, because I DON’T FEEL WORTHY of being asked.

And in the moment that followed I heard His voice “Really?”  “Really, Susie?”

Do you struggle with feelings of unworthiness?  If you shared your feelings with God, would He respond “Really?”

Day 6 – When the music fades

Music moves my soul like nothing else, and I cannot imagine a day in my life without it.  When friends think of me and music, they immediately think karaoke – everyone knows I love it, but I doubt that anyone really knows the truth about music in my life.  I actually don’t know why I’ve kept the “big-ness” of it from even my closest friends, from my sister who knows everything about me – I haven’t really kept it hidden; I guess no one has stopped to notice that music is always on in my house, in my car, and how most conversations prompt a song in my mind.  It is my deepest core, it is the Holy Spirit’s heartbeat within me, my “go-to” in every mood and circumstance …. it lifts me up, it draws me out, it lets me feel deeply when I am too numb to feel, it gets me going, it inspires me, comforts me in wounded moments, leads me, and mostly allows me to participate fully in life, join in, sing the melody of my heart, feel the presence of my Lord, imagine His voice through others’ crying out as I cry out in common struggle and desire.

So when I came downstairs this morning – Day 6 of the Daniel Fast – for my prayer and devotion time, a voice within beckoned (I have no idea where that word came from in me, but it fits) – yes, a voice beckoned me to have my time with God in complete quiet.  Something stopped me from picking up the remote and putting on the Christian music cable channel as I do every morning during my time in the Word.  And it was like a beckoning, a woo-ing, too tempting to resist, to come to Jesus quietly, softly, open – it was a quiet unassuming knowing that there was something very special waiting for me in the silence.

As I move into Day 6 of The Daniel Fast, I was just curious about what God was up to in the creation story on Day 6 so I opened the Word to dwell awhile in the first chapter of Genesis.  Oh my – what richness and encouragement to begin this day …

So God created human beings in his own image, In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Here as I sit hearing my own breath in the quiet of the morning, the magnitude of that phrase captivates me “in his own image” – God created me in his own image … wow, suddenly my heart starts beating like the bass line of a Lady Gaga song, yet I am overwhelmed with an emotion welling up inside and I cannot quiet the words from the Casting Crowns song from spilling into my quiet time with God “If I ever needed You, Lord it’s now …”  Over and over my heart cries out with those words, uncontrollably, and I don’t understand – I don’t know where that comes from, what it means.  I am not aware of any deep need or longing – I only want to hear from God about His purpose and plan for me in the coming year, how I can glorify Him, who I can serve in His name, what message He is entrusting me to deliver, whose life He is asking me to pour into.  I feel deeply that God wants to meet me in the silence to explain if I’ll only come, willing to stay in the morning quiet awhile longer.  But I start getting mental, trying to figure it out, instead of just letting it be … and like a dropped call, I lose the connection, the song in my heart fades out.

So I return to Genesis and am encouraged by my obedience to the fast as I read in verse 29 of the first chapter –

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.

I am excited by that … I am eating on The Daniel Fast the foods God first gave us – fruits and vegetables.  A moment of recognition dawns – the food has become unimportant to me except to celebrate this small truth – I am eating what God in His great provision created to nourish us from the beginning.

I want to go back to the silence, to insist that God explain Himself to me – what did He want to tell me before I ruined His moment of revelation by trying to figure it out?  Oh Father God, Creator and Sustainer of life, I promise tomorrow I will let You have Your way with me.  I will be still and let You explain the song you’re pressing on my heart.  Will you show me what my deep need in You is, and how to live as I was created in Your image?

Can you think of a time when you “ruined the mood” with a friend, spouse, co-worker?  What about with God?

If you had to pick a song to cry out to God at this time in your life, what would it be?  Will you share it here on the blog with your sisters in Christ?  Inquiring minds want to know ….. okay, well I want to know!

Day 5 – I’m losing control!

I don’t know what happened overnight.  I was fine yesterday, doing well with the Daniel Fast eating plan, encouraged by comments left on the blog, feeling like some of my focus on eating had subsided and I had created the space in my heart and mind to hear from God.

And now I am feeling totally out of control … and I hate it!

I was so moved by President Obama’s speech last night at the Tucson memorial, full of emotion, but also of hope as I drifted off to sleep in prayer.  I woke up not feeling well – my stomach somewhat unsettled, my head foggy and I craved 2 Advil and 2 more hours of sleep … I never realized what a low tolerance I have for that ugly morning feeling and how quick I am to grab the Advil … but this morning I didn’t.  I intentionally skipped the meds and decided to take the ugliness to my prayer and devotion time.

When I went into the kitchen, the mish-mash of brownies that I made last night for community group tonight- that I had literally flipped when removing the pan from the oven set me into such a tailspin … last night I was okay with the mess I made, even noting my skill at recovering about 1/2 of the brownies while the rest fell between the open oven door, but I saw it differently this morning.  I was not feeling very flexible, and that let’s-go-with-it, no big deal felt like a very big deal.

And then the unthinkable …. I noticed brownie crumbs outside the pan, a knife and more crumbs left in the kitchen sink.  Obviously my son had cut or scooped himself a brownie with the side of a butter knife and left crumbs and ugh – a chocolate stain on the dish pad I left the brownie pan sitting on.  Seriously!  What an attitude just welled up in me and I began madly cutting, scrubbing, arranging … and then I recognized the old me, that out-of-control person that could make a big deal out of crumbs on a counter that kids never see … didn’t I long ago figure out and embrace how much easier it is on everybody to be thankful that dishes are rinsed and put away, that I have healthy children who made it to adulthood, that I am so blessed when they come home to visit, that this little stuff is just little stuff?  In an instant, these stupid little crumbs stood between the blessing my son had been to me in the past several weeks and my heart – seriously, he is my web designer – he created this blog for me last week, has been working tirelessly with me to tweak it, to teach me how to use it, he designed and maintains the website for my Live Your Joy Christian Life Coaching practice; the chocolate stain on the dish pad was so small, yet it was big enough to smudge over the wood he had carried in, the Christmas decorations he carried to the attic, the groceries he carried from the car, the bench he carried up to my bedroom and the sofabed mattress he found an owner for and carried it down and delivered it to clear room for me …  it was a momentary focus that couldn’t cast a vision to next week when he’s gone and back in LA, and I will be missing him and maybe tossing some crumbs of my own on the counter.

And it wasn’t just that …. I had no idea what I was going to take to work for lunch today – I was unprepared, and I hadn’t yet prepared to lead the small group study for community group tonight, and on and on and on my mind whirred and the mood grew darker winding to a feverish pitch.

And then the big aha moment as I stood in the kitchen, mind racing, looking around to see what else I could immediately take control of to regain my footing … I was out of control, BUT ISN’T THAT THE POINT of the fast?  I started laughing, praising God, and saying Thank You Lord – yes, I am out of control, and I love it!!!  And it’s okay because You Lord are in control.

I couldn’t help but think of Nicole Johnson’s drama “Raising the Sail”. In this powerful drama, Maggie, the mother of a teenage daughter, painfully learns that the real way to hold on is to let go.  I remember watching this DVD over and over again in my son’s young adult years, asking God to let me relinquish control to Him, but from time to time, when I wasn’t sure God was seeing everything and doing enough about it, I would take it back.  And what a moment of victory in the DVD when Nicole as Maggie’s mother shouts “I’m sailing, and I love it” completely willing to go where the Spirit leads no matter how the wind blows.  Ahhhhh …. I’m out of control, and I love it!

Oh Lord, this will be a good day now that I know you are in control.  Talk to me,  show me this day, reveal all You have for me on this 5th day of the Daniel Fast … okay, now we’re getting somewhere!

Will you share with me what you do in your out of control moments?  What snaps you out of it?

What difference would it make if you reframed it with the confidence that it’s exactly where you need to be to give your life, or even just your day over to Christ?

Day 3 – What do you really crave?

I was on Lysa TerKeurst’s “Made to Crave” webcast last night, along with hundreds of other women, when she said, “Remember you were made to crave, but not food – God!”

My mind immediately wandered back two years in time when I was in treatment for an emotional eating disorder,  and as I recounted to the therapist the many occasions I ate when I knew I wasn’t hungry, she looked at me with the kind of penetrating eyes that only therapists seem to possess and simply asked in an understated manner “What are you hungry for?”

Ah, seriously? What kind of question is that?  When I muttered “I don’t know”, she said “Well, if you’re not hungry for food, what do you think you might be hungry for?”  Seriously, I had no idea what she was searching for in an answer, but my puzzled silence was met with a quick round of possibilities … “Love? Acceptance? Companionship? Belonging? Excitement?”

I don’t remember getting to an answer during that session, but I do remember promising the therapist that I would think about what she said – that most women eat when they’re lonely, bored, depressed, isolated, or feeling unloved.  And, she added, based on my intake interview, I was not depressed … oh good, well I’ll just pick one of those other ones then.

Attempting to control my weight was not a new issue – you can read My Story on the Live Your Joy Christian Life Coaching website, and you’ll see that years ago I was trying to gain control over everything, anything in my life, and I thought weight loss was the answer.  It was not until I had a back injury and came to the end of myself and my self-reliance, that I was able to turn stubbornly surrendered to God.

So then one year later, why was I spending time with a therapist and nutritionist at the Renfrew Center each week to talk about emotional eating?  Why am I now, three years later, signed up for Lysa’s free Made to Crave webcasts for the next five Monday nights?

What I discovered at the Renfrew Center was that I was hungry for acceptance, wanting to know I mattered, wanting to be valued.  I  had forgotten, for a season, what I had learned so poignantly just the year before – that I am a child of God, I am loved, treasured, valued by Jesus, I am the Lord’s masterpiece created anew in Christ Jesus to do all the good things he planned for me long ago … yes, I am His Design, and He has a plan for me.

And when I lose sight of His great love for me or forget that His love is all I need, I will remember something clever Lysa said last night about a setback – “A setback is just a set-up to make a comeback”.

Father God, will you show me the spiritual setbacks I have allowed to settle in my heart?  Will you remind me of Your promises, Your provision, Your amazing love, unending grace, and set me back on the path to a spiritual comeback?  Produce in me a godly character, a selfless attitude, a renewed mind and a surrendered will.

Tell me, girlfriends, what are you hungry for?  What do you crave?

Cheating? Decision? Full exposure!

We’ve been doing a team Biggest Loser competition at work for the last two months, with each person on a team of 4 or 5 choosing their own path to coveted weight loss. The winning individual and team will be determined by the highest percentage weight loss on January 31, 2011. Despite the fact that everyone chooses their own eating and exercise plan (or not),  it is interesting how some are held accountable because of their teammates, others having strong conviction to themselves personally because of commitments they made.

We got into a conversation last week after one of our biggest losers thus far said she “cheated”, meaning she ate food that was not on her weight loss plan. I had this stubborn kind of self-righteous, or self-protecting response, that it’s not cheating, it’s a decision – maybe a bad one, but a decision or choice to eat something else at that moment. To view it as cheating takes away, for me, the possibility of maintaining a healthy eating and exercise program once the prize money has been awarded and post-biggest loser days are here.

Fast forward to beginning The Daniel Fast …. as I prepared for the fast physically, I was nervous about the physical withdrawal I could expect from caffeine, sugar, meat – namely headaches and what one person described as severe leg cramps during the night. Reading the Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast clued me in – a little too late! – to the importance of kicking down sugar, caffeine, meat intake for at least a full week before starting …. I didn’t have a week to prepare.

I was actually pretty good on the sugar and processed food, but caffeine and dairy were part of my daily diet – dairy in abundance, caffeine in need. So I made the DECISION that I would follow The Daniel Fast precisely ….. except that I would allow myself 1 cup of coffee in the morning this first week – instead of the normal 2 mugs, then kick it down to 1/2 cup, 1/4, next week and cease completely.

I thought I deserved that decision, it was my right to make it, I am always the good girl that has to do what’s right, follow all the rules … after all, without morning coffee I would not be able to function at work, would not even be clear-headed enough to hear God – my primary motivation for doing the fast. Okay, by now you surely must have picked up on my “other” primary motivation, that I am struggling to move to the background – that is to lose weight during the fast.

So I made the decision to allow myself coffee for a time, and every time I heard whispered doubts in my mind yesterday – you’re not REALLY doing The Daniel Fast because no caffeine is allowed, you should at least try it without coffee (you can always infuse yourself quickly if a headache and muddled thinking overtakes you!), you’re probably not going to hear from God if you need coffee more than you need Him …. I just recounted that biggest loser conversation last week and decided I’m not cheating, I’m making a healthy decision for myself.

Then this morning as I held my mug of coffee in my hands, drew in the warm, satisfying first sip, I opened to today’s devotion – Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” Okay, well my coffee is not really a god … is it? I just need it to get started in the morning and I am going to give it up next week altogether.

Then Psalm 24:3-5 …

3 Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
5 They will receive the LORD‘s blessing
and have a right relationship with God their savior.

Ouch! Only those whose hearts and hands are pure?  Does this coffee in my hand make me unpure?  Not because it’s not part of The Daniel Fast, but because I need it, want it, can’t let go of it completely … not just yet.  Why is this cup so important to me?  What does it represent besides the fear it holds of giving it up?  Is it an idol, something I’m making more important during this fast than stripping away everything so I can hear from God?

I knew in an instant it wasn’t about physical need, it wasn’t even about cheating or making a decision for the fast … it was an outright stubbornness to do it my way, to hold on to some small piece that I would not give over to God.  And as I read the story of God asking Abraham to take his beloved Isaac to a mountain to sacrifice him as a burnt offering, I was ashamed.  Just as it wasn’t wrong for Abraham to love Isaac, it’s not wrong to enjoy a cup of coffee or a delicious chocolate dessert; the problem is when we love someone or something too much it becomes idolatry – and idolatry is destructive to God’s purposes.

The Daniel Fast is my fast of choice when I need direction or refreshment, or desire to hear God’s voice more clearly.  This daily, living sacrifice is a wonderful way to establish a constant awareness that I am reprioritizing my life, putting all idols away, and allowing God to reign in my heart.  God has shown me time and time again that when we bring our appetites and flesh under the direction of his Spirit, he will reward.  I am always touched by how God honors our efforts, no matter how small.  Not because we have to work for his approval but because he is so full of grace and looks for opportunities to bless us.  Fasting is one of those gracious opportunities.   – S.HORD

How about you?  Is there one small thing in your life that you may need to reprioritize?  Is there an idol that needs to be put away to allow God to reign in your heart?

Is there something unpure in your heart’s intent?  Maybe, like me,  you have two “primary” motivations … one that serves God, one that serves yourself.  The question I’m wrestling with today is “Can I make this Daniel Fast solely about ‘God in me’ and what He wants to do in my life,  trusting Him to take care of the weight loss and handle caffeine withdrawal His way?”

I’m praying so.  Can anyone relate to the struggle?

The Daniel Fast Day 1 – panic attack!

I’m beginning The Daniel Fast today – a 21-day biblically based partial fast that is, in diet, primarily vegan with additional restrictions.  I haven’t been awake long enough to eat …. or actually NOT eat anything I would normally have for breakfast, and yet I am already anxious and far too focused on what I am going to have for breakfast – and even lunch after church, and then there is the Packer playoff game against the Eagles this afternoon – I’m actually okay there because I have whole grain Scoops made with no sugar or preservatives.

I am just bugged about how I’m beginning – this was not what I planned.  And I did plan … I subscribed to The Daniel Fast blog which may have been a mistake for someone like myself who can so easily be held captive by fear about even the smallest thing … so much helpful information and ideas about what is okay to eat (of course I would find that helpful since I am having trouble getting beyond the food & diet piece of this), but reading of the physical pain of withdrawal from caffeine, sugar, meat … headaches, leg cramps – oh my, the enemy is having his way with me.

I bought the kindle version of The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola and did alot of the spiritual and physical preparation suggested, but it just doesn’t feel like enough this morning.

So now I imagine myself waving my weak malnourished arms and shouting with my big voice STAND DOWN SATAN – I will reign victorious over these strongholds because I am a daughter of the King of kings, fully expectant to hear from Him these next 3 weeks as I draw closer to my Lord without the distraction of food.

For any of my readers who have done The Daniel Fast, will you share with me how you shed the focus on food to get on with hearing from God?  I covet your prayers and encouragement.

Greetings from Susie

This post is from Susie, chosen by the will of God to be a disciple of Christ Jesus.   I have been sent out to tell women in mid-life about the love, purpose, significance, acceptance, and intimacy He has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.

Don’t you love the way Paul begins his letters with a greeting that acknowledges his identity in Christ,  spells out his audience, identifies his  purpose in writing, and extends grace and peace?

This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle, and sent out to preach his Good News.

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus … I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people.

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.  I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.  I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.  We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.  May God our Father give you grace and peace.

This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy.  We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  May God give you grace and peace.

This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.  I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

So what about you?  If you sat down to write a letter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, how would you identify yourself in relation to Christ? Who specifically would you be writing to? What would be your purpose in writing?  And would you offer grace and peace?

I’d love to hear from you!  Oh, and …. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.