Posted in Beginnings, Choices, Christmas, Destiny, Joy, Missionary, Missions

A Little Fixer Upper

I do miss driving around and looking at Christmas light displays this time of year. There used to be a big tree in the area I lived in (Lantana, Florida) sponsored by The National Enquirer that drew many to our community each year to enjoy. I was in 7th grade the last time I saw the tree on display; unfortunately, there’s not been a tree on display there for many years since the property sold. Some of my favorite middle school memories come from the time when going home after school, I’d stop and walk through the property (no entry fees in those days) and because it was still daylight when I went, it would often be deserted and I got to enjoy the tree and all the accompanying decorations without interruption. Of course the lights were only visible when visiting at nighttime but my then 12-year-old-self figured it was better to be alone and take my time looking at the displays rather than fight crowds of people and fail to get close enough to see anything.

Fast forward a bunch of years and I still miss seeing the lights. We have a little fake tree here in Bujumbura that we were able to purchase at a local store. It may be a bit along the lines of a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree but after we put our few decorations on the tree and hung the single strand of lights that we had, it looked pretty. We moved about 6 months ago from Malawi to Burundi and due to the move, most replaceable items were left behind. What’s funny about replaceable items is that while they are replaceable, it will take time to replace them! I figure some years will pass by before my little tree’s bare spots are filled with decorations. At the same time, the beauty of my simple tree doesn’t get past me: it’s all we need.

In reality, no one needs a Christmas tree, decorations, lights, presents, and eggnog. In fact, we would do well to scale down on our “need” for these things and remember why the 25th of December is even highlighted on the calendar: to celebrate the beginning of a shift in history, the birth of Christ. History shifted for me personally when the Christmas story became my story –and my life changed.

I often wonder where I would be today if I hadn’t made the choices I had made over the years. First, to follow Jesus and then quite a few years later I met and married my husband and together we chose Africa. We chose to raise our family here, we have chosen to continue living here, and we have chosen over and over again to move and work for the mission to reach people everywhere with that same message that their histories, too, can be changed.

I suppose had I chosen differently I might have had a more physically comfortable life. Money, or more correctly the lack thereof, possibly wouldn’t have been such a point of stress. Maybe I would have had my family all around me and seen my grandchildren grow, or maybe I wouldn’t as kids have a way of growing up and moving on in their time. It would’ve been easier to get shoes, clothes, groceries, schooling for my children, and have more reliable electricity and water. I would probably have had a dishwasher (for those who know me, you can hear me moaning when dishwashers are mentioned) and maybe I would even have had an electric garage door opener.

Instead I find myself starting over again here in Burundi where we moved and planted our first church many years ago. We’ve been away from this country for 18 years; when we flew into the airport last May the years we spent here all came flooding back into my thoughts. My heart was filled with thanksgiving – we have another opportunity to see God come through for us again here in the nation where we first began planting churches. Almost simultaneously as I felt the joy of returning, I felt the burden of the need. You see, there’s a lot of work for us to do and little money and man/woman power to do it, and sometimes I feel like my poor little Christmas tree that is in need of more decorations.

tree

While the tree may look like a “fixer upper,” there is more to it if you look at it closely. My tree speaks of hope when you see it for there are pictures of our youngest daughter in a few of the decorations. These speak of the future as she growing up and coming into her destiny. There are also memories of past joys as some of the ornaments on the tree that come from Zambia where we planted a church 17 years ago. The emptiness of my little tree also speaks hope to me for if the tree were full, maybe its representation to me would be a bit less meaningful this year. The bare spaces sit there waiting to be filled with memories of what God will do in days to come.

If I had chosen differently, my tree would have been so very different. Yes, it probably wouldn’t be so needy but neither would it be as beautiful, its branches decorated with future hope and past victories. It would have had better lights, trendier ornaments, and more presents underneath, but I wouldn’t have seen what I have seen and lived as I have lived and that would have been a loss for me.

While there is a bit life behind me, there is still work to do, there are still places to see, churches to plant, and adventures left to live. Whatever it takes from me, wherever it takes me, and whoever it takes me to, I choose again to let my history change as He holds my days in His hands.

Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are!

Luke 2:8-10 MEV “And in the same area there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And then an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very afraid. But the angel said to them, ‘Listen! Do not fear. For I bring you good news of great joy, which will be to all people.’”

 

Posted in Choices, Courage, Destiny, Kingdom, Missions, Obedience, Rescue

It Was Good

When we landed in Africa back in 1987, the wonder of our surroundings took our breath away. The setting was picturesque: where we were to live was set on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika with the mountains of Tanzania on the other side of the lake seen as a dim outline on the horizon. The afternoon we arrived, full of jet lag, I was sure that since I was in Africa my morning coffee was going to be an amazing event since Africa is known for its coffee.

My hopes were dashed when in the kitchen later in the day, all the coffee that there was to be found on the shelf was a small tin of instant coffee. I was horrified but decided to give the questionable powder, made in neighboring Tanzania, a chance. As a first generation American of Finnish decent, the importance of coffee in our culture’s daily routine is impossible to deny – and the words  “instant coffee” aren’t words we Finns dare to utter, even in jest, when speaking of coffee.

Weeks turned into months and I was still bound to drinking the sullied concoction of coffee-flavored powder and hot water. What I had learned, out of necessity in a very short period of time, was how to make mayonnaise, bake bread, and cook a meal from almost nothing. What escaped me was real brewed coffee. As my borders expanded personally, I braved going to town and the market by myself and learned to speak the local language which helped in all of my bold exploits. Everything I learned wasn’t a result of my curiosity; it came purely out of necessity and the process of learning often left me in a puddle of tears – but I learned over and over that those hard processes were good for me.

Yet, in spite of all my learning, a good cup of coffee in the land of coffee seemed out of my reach. Until one day when I was walking in the market and saw a pile of strange pale colored beans on the ground (for all things in the market were lined up on the ground). I asked the lady selling the strange beans what they were and to my delight she said, “kahawa” (coffee). Without hesitation I scooped up two kilos (a bit over four pounds) and headed home with high hopes of fresh coffee in my mind.

raw-coffee-1780364_1920

I knew the coffee needed to be cleaned (obviously) and then roasted in our oven which was easy enough – but how was I to grind it? There was no store where I could buy a coffee grinder or anything like a coffee grinder; but I wasn’t ready to give up. I had seen the ladies in the villages grinding flour with large mortars and pestles, called a “kinu,” made of wood. Of course there were none that were ready-made to be found, I had to order one to be made. After what seemed to be months (which was really only a week or two) the elusive “kinu” was delivered to my doorstep.

It couldn’t be too hard to grind coffee, could it? Once I had my “kinu” I got to the serious business of grinding our coffee beans. The pounding was harder than I thought, it took a toll on my shoulders, but I eventually learned how to work with this contraption. The pestle (large stick that pounds into the mortar) was heavy and it worked best when allowed to fall through my hands and smash the beans. In time, I was able to grind a week’s worth of coffee in minutes without having sore shoulders afterwards.

leacook1987
I really have used a “kinu” many times and each cup of coffee made it worth the effort! PS – pls ignore the 80s hair and bad perm not to mention the SHOES!

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 LB “I think you ought to know dear brothers, about the hard time we went through…We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us…And He did help us and save us…”

It couldn’t be too hard, serving God, could it? Like grinding coffee, it seemed to me when I started out in my life of serving God that it would be simple enough to follow the Leader. Later on I came to understand that what appeared to be easy in the beginning turned out to be hard when the waves of opposition, misunderstanding, and lack met me, it seemed at every juncture. Those waves made it easy for me to want to quit.

Like you, I’ve wanted to quit on more than one occasion. Sometimes I’ve felt like quitting multiple times in a day and I imagine I’m not alone. But I’m still here, still moving forward, holding out hope against hope for a brighter tomorrow.  So what is it that keeps me going when giving up sorely tempts me to walk away? I can answer this question with a question: What is there to go back to? I’ve seen and experienced too much of God to give up on Him.

It is on the other side of my wanting to quit I find those miracles that I’ve prayed for, so the process of being in a place of wanting to quit but refusing to puts me in a place of Divine intervention, and that is an honor. God doesn’t have to step in and save me, He owes me nothing and I owe Him everything, but He always does what He does best: He comes to my rescue. This honor is offered to all but only few dare to walk far enough past the proverbial “line drawn in the sand” to receive it. So it was good when I found myself powerless to help because it placed me in a place of trusting God, hoping in and believing that His promises are true.

Psalm 16:6 ESV “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

Those lines we draw of wanting to quit bring us to what otherwise would have eluded us – a beautiful inheritance. In reality, the lines are pleasant lines if we can just see past what has gotten us there.

So it was good that I was doomed.

So it was good that I was helpless.

So it was good that I was powerless.

For the lines have now fallen for me in pleasant places.

 

Posted in Choices, Courage, Destiny, Faith, Fear, God's call, Kingdom, Perspective, Popularity, Purpose, Resurrection

Things Aren’t What They Seem To Be

Play it safe.

Don’t push too far.

Be careful.

Should we chose to follow all safety precautions on every product we buy or activity we take part in, there are still bound to be unforeseen, unplanned, and unexpected complications that will meet us along the way. We simply can’t avoid trouble, it comes with the territory of life.

I’ve said it many times and still hold to this: the safest place to be is in God’s will. There, I find protection, provision, joy, and comfort. There’s nothing that can reach me there; I’m in His pocket ( 1 Sam. 25:29) as it were, close to His heartbeat. From that place, I hear what stirs His heart and I find the courage to reach for things I never dreamt of before, because things aren’t what they seem to be when you’re in the will of God.

John 14:27 ESV “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

It would appear that Jesus was coaching His disciples to really open their eyes to the possibility of things not being as they would appear when He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” At the time being described above in John 14, Jesus had entered into Jerusalem and was preparing His followers to understand that in the days to come, events would unfold that would appear to say, “It’s over.”

The crucifixion was on the horizon, Jesus knew it – but He also knew that the Resurrection was soon to follow on the heels of what would appear to be His end. He knew things weren’t going to be at all as they seemed. Jesus also knew everyone would flee and that He would be left alone to face the cross, yet He did it anyway. Why would He suffer and die when all would leave Him? He also knew that after His Resurrection, no one would believe in Him right away. It took quite a bit of work after He rose to convince those who had fled, that He was really alive. If it had been me making the choice at that juncture, those who had fled would not have been in the running for those chosen to be the leaders of the early church. Yet, by grace, Jesus chose to look beyond what the rest of us would call “the obvious” because He knew that nothing in His Kingdom is as it seems. Jesus knew that those who had fled weren’t at all as they appeared. They were born for something more, they were meant to turn the world “upside down.”

Acts 17:6 ESV “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”

I see a pattern throughout Scripture where those who dared to live close to the Father’s heartbeat never played it safe. They understood that being led where God took them was the only truly safe place to be – even if that path lead them to a place where it would seem their end was imminent.

Daniel chose the lions.

Paul chose to go to Rome.

Joseph chose to take Mary.

Each one (and many others) could have chosen to follow an easier route, but they didn’t. They knew the worst that could happen would have meant losing their lives, which would only put them in the presence of God; where would the the loss in that have been? They chose His safe place, and as they did, they lived amazing lives of adventure, seeing impossible dreams come true that they didn’t even know they had.

This life and all of its trimmings would have us to believe that living a life of adventure for God is unsafe, unreasonable, and even foolish. For those who don’t know the Father, I can understand those feelings. Still, there’s a thirst in me to see more than a life colored safely in the lines of what seems to be safe places, for in reality nothing is safe apart from God.

My choice is to live far from what seems to be safe; I want to live close to Him and far from things as they seem to be.

“The worship of God is not a rule of safety; it’s an adventure of the spirit.” Alfred North Whitehead

Posted in Church planting, Endurance, Faith, Faithfulness, Fasting, God's call, Kingdom, Ministry, Rejection

What About Lystra?

Stepping off the plane for the first time in Burundi, I seriously wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. I stood with my husband and children on the airport tarmac after our plane landed. It was warm, the sun was hot, and there was no one waiting for us. There was no air conditioning in the airport terminal, I remember being thankful for the breeze that blew through the baggage collection area. With my left hand, I held tightly to my 5 year old son’s little hand and balanced my 1 1/2 year old daughter on my right hip. We were all tired of living out of suitcases; we had spent nearly a year in France studying French prior to our arrival that day in Burundi. From France, we flew to Nairobi, Kenya and, after a short time, made our way to Burundi where the adventure of our lifetime was about to begin.

Time and again I’ve relived that same scenario; going somewhere where I’ve not been before to start a church from nothing. Where would we start? We never knew until we got there. Who would work with us? We would find them. When would we leave? When the time was right.

It took us 9 years of hard work to see the church grow to a place of maturity where we were able to leave to go plant a new church in a new nation and start the whole process all over again. Now, 18 years and a number of churches later, I have learned a few things about stepping out in faith into the unknown – and I’m still learning! In our affirmation-driven society where many in Christian circles have rarely seen the raw faith that’s required to face the world head-on for the cause of the Kingdom, they find they are ill-prepared for the reality that awaits them when they do step out. Often, they fall victim to discouragement, even despair, when the enemy meets them head-on (believe me when I say that he will seek you out the moment you say “yes” to the Kingdom’s call).

In Acts 14, we read the account of Paul ministering on a journey that had taken him through several cities. In one of the cities, Lystra, a man was healed (Acts 14:10) and the crowds went nearly crazy over the great miracle they had seen: a man who was born crippled, was healed and walked. It was amazing! Paul and his partner, Barnabas, could hardly restrain the people from making sacrifices to them, calling them gods. One would think that this great miracle would open great opportunities to the city; however, that was not what happened. Shortly after this miraculous occurrence, the same people who Paul ministered to were “stirred up” (Acts 14:19) to stone Paul. He was left for dead but, in another miracle, got up and went on to another city called Derbe where many received the Gospel and a large number of disciples were made. Later on, Paul returned to Lystra and other cities where he had preached, encouraging believers along his way.

In reading this account, I was taken by the fact that first Paul was almost worshipped as a god and then he was stoned by the same ones who wanted to worship him the day before. The emotions he felt must have been extreme. In studying Paul’s life, I’ve noticed he was someone who didn’t require a lot of maintenance; he worked to support himself by making tents and never is he seen in the scriptures asking for expensive gifts. His main focus was the Kingdom’s advance in the earth and he wouldn’t let himself get sidetracked by the peripheral things of this life.

Nevertheless, Paul was human and I am sure at this time, and many others, he must have felt conflicted, even tempted to be depressed over the rejection – but he doesn’t even make mention of any anguish over this ordeal in the scriptures. He was simply concerned to build the Kingdom, grow the churches he planted, and be faithful to his call. Affirmation would come later in abundance simply by hearing the words, “well done.” However, until that time, he fought the fight of faith and kept his faith.

Our service to people isn’t based on their merits or their appreciation of our call to serve God. I’ve found that if I can keep this front and center in my own life, I’m not easily disappointed. However, the moment I let my focus on the Kingdom fade, that’s the moment I fall into discouragement. Whether there are people to meet me at the airport or not, I’m moving forward. Whether someone thanks me or not, my eyes are fixed on the prize. Whether what I do looks successful or not, I’m already a success in my Father’s eyes, for His approval already rests on me.

“Wherever God rules over the human heart as King, there is the Kingdom of God established.” Paul W. Harrison

Posted in Choices, Fasting, Kingdom, Perspective

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Compromise, it’s the cornerstone of all meaningful relationships. Each party in a relationship is to compromise in order to accommodate the other. I learned, and am still learning after nearly 34 years of marriage, the major relationship in my life, that compromise is the “secret sauce” to success in marriage. I didn’t commit myself for life to a relationship to see it fail so I work to make concessions as it were, and so does my husband (even though there are times I’m loathe to admit it – ha). We have decided to work at it and we’ve made it!

In our free societies, our culture has engrained within us that we aren’t to give in and surrender our rights no matter what the reason. Of course it’s a blessing to live in places where such freedoms of expression exist and are protected. The problem we as Christians encounter is understanding that as we serve in God’s Kingdom, our earthly freedoms don’t translate into His Kingdom. In God’s Kingdom it is “His Kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10)

I’ve written a fairly recent entry entitled, “My Kingdom Go” where I discussed the importance of having to say “My Kingdom Go” before I can pray “His Kingdom Come.” However, even in that statement I have further discovered that I’m thinking of myself more than I ought to think. Praying “My Kingdom Go” is an essential part of praying for God’s Kingdom to come, but it is a very small part for when I’m praying His Kingdom Come, I’m praying that anything opposed to God’s Kingdom will go so that His Kingdom would come.

This may sound foreign to our freedom-loving minds; don’t our opinions count? Not really for there is Someone Who has a greater understanding of everything that’s at play in this world and it’s not us. That understanding doesn’t come from natural governments or minds that have been educated at the best and most progressive and prestigious universities. God’s understanding comes from a viewpoint that embraces truth from end to end of time and space; I don’t think we’ve quite arrived at that place yet. We still lag far behind the wisdom of our Father.

The prayer of Matthew 6:10 doesn’t allow us the luxury of praying “Your Kingdom Come” as far as what’s reasonable or acceptable by earth standards. The prayer simply says, “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” I have a part to play in this relationship, but it is far different to any relationship I have had on earth. God accommodated Himself to us in sending His Son (John 3:16) and Jesus accommodated Himself in being willing to submit Himself (Phil. 2:5-8). Now it is up to us to accommodate ourselves and bend to that same level.

Indeed, His Kingdom Come.


Further reading: Chris Tiegreen One Year Heaven on Earth Devotional

Posted in Beginnings, Choices, Fasting, Kingdom, Missions, New Year, Obedience, Questions

A Captive Audience

We are taught from an early age to “think for ourselves.” Indeed, having the ability to reason a situation through is something best learned early on. My youngest daughter is in 4th grade and she is learning how to think before answering; when she thinks first and processes the work, she generally gets a better grade which makes everyone happy!

Solving math problems definitely requires more brain power for some (like me) more than others. Thankfully, my daughter has learned this skill at a much faster pace than I did. I wasn’t the automatic math genius in school – I spent a great deal of time training my mind to think problems through. Once I finally mastered this skill of reasoning and thought, my grades improved. What I wasn’t prepared for in daily life as an adult when facing life issues was understanding that reasoning life problems through like algebraic equations won’t always produce the correct results.

All of that work to train my thoughts in a certain way had to change.

2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

In my mind, as I learned to navigate this path called my walk with God, I often found myself arguing with the issues I faced.

Trusting God for His wisdom when facing civil unrest? My mind told me to run but my heart said stay; there was an internal argument taking place in my mind daily in those days. My old debate class lessons quickly found their way back to the forefront of my mind.

Trusting God for buildings when our tent where we meet keeps blowing over? Where was the money going to come from? Math arguments come in handy here, I’d tell myself hundreds of thousands won’t multiply from zero as zero times anything still equals zero!

Much like the lessons I learned at school, lessons of reasoning, I’ve learned another lesson: mentally working out how to walk with God simply won’t work. Much like you can’t apply algebra to conjugating verbs, earthly reasoning cannot apply in our walk with God.

This year as we begin afresh once again, I’ve set my arguments aside. Arguments of why it can’t be done are now my captive audience as I surrender to the process of solving problems in a much more effective way – in the way of the Kingdom. My feeble attempts at solving don’t amount to much anyway in the face of issues that are obviously far beyond my pay grade: comforting the bereaved, growing new churches, expanding into new countries, and loving those who don’t love me back.

My thoughts are captive. I’m listening. I’m learning.

Posted in Birthday, Family, Missions, Poetry

I Baked a Cake Today

amanda1990

I woke up today thinking of my daughter, Mandy, who is a grown woman now. Married to a great guy, her life is blessed! But today, as I prayed for her my mind was drawn to something I wrote for her back in 2009 when the “handwriting was on the wall,” I realised she was growing up.

Her birthday is coming soon; she lives in the USA and I live in Malawi. How I wish I were the one baking her cake, leading in singing a cheesy “Happy Birthday” song. How I wish I were the one to clean up after a party.

But there is grace to somehow handle all those emotions. I only have to look back to 1987 when I first came out as a missionary and remember: we had no phones, no email, no post – once we went a full year without knowing what was in our bank account. So, while we are separated we have FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, and other ways of communicating that we didn’t have all those years ago.

Yet, I still long to be with her. My baby girl. Happy early birthday honey. Love, Mom

________________________________________________________________

I baked a cake for my baby today

Her friends came over and everyone was set to play

Barbies, baby dolls, and gifts all around

Balloons were popping and children were singing

Her daddy turned to me and said

“This was a good day.”

———-

I baked a cake for my girl today

She had friends over for the night

They had a talent show and sang for us

More gifts and little girl things

I hugged her tight as she climbed the stairs and she said,

“Thanks Mommy for this fun day!”

———-

I baked a cake for my daughter today

Her friends came to “hang around”

Barbies and toys gave way to music and dance

No more little girl things on this day

She forgot to hug me running to the room with her friends

Thank you God for another birthday!

———-

I baked a cake for Mandy today

Chocolate and peanut butter are the flavors of choice

Gifts for the baby grown tall

Bittersweet feelings surround us all

Hug me baby as you go on your way

For God’s gift to me was you – on your birthday.

———-

18 April 2009

To Mandy from Mom

 

Posted in Choices, Fasting, God's Voice

Day 7 – Be Careful Little Eyes

iamcoming

When I was a young girl living in New York City, I remember there was a toy store not far from the apartment where we lived. In fact, I think if I stood at the front door of our old apartment I could find that toy store, or where it used to be. This toy store had captured me with its displays of beautiful toys. There was an ice cream shop not far from it and I considered it a treat to get an ice cream and walk to the toy store and stare into the display for as long as my parents would let me, at what seemed to me, to be a magical wonderland. I imagined the displays, much like in the movie Toy Story or one of my daughter’s favorite shows Doc McStuffins, would come to life at night. Even after I left the window, my mind kept working, imagining all kinds of scenarios; many of which included me. I “made believe” that I was one of those toys, jumping around in a carefree wonderland.

One year in particular they had a dollhouse in the display that captured me. Everything in it was doll-sized: furniture, clothes, clothes hangers, lamps, a bathtub, and it even had small light fixtures that lit up! I was so captivated by that dollhouse that, in my mind, it became my imaginary home where I spent hours playing uninterrupted in a fairy-tale world where everything was just as it was supposed to be. I spent weeks begging my parents to buy this dollhouse that had captured my affections. “It even has electricity!” I pleaded with every ounce of sweetness that I could muster, but I was always answered with “We just can’t afford it, not now.” My heart was broken for months and I found that the only way I could forget about my dream dollhouse was to stop walking by the toy store, I had to find something else to look at.

As innocent as it was for my heart to be taken by that little dollhouse, it reminds me of how what we allow ourselves to see, influences us. We’ll either be influenced for good or bad by what we give entrance through our eyes and ears which are doorways to our hearts.

Matthew 6:22,23 TLB “If your eye is pure there will be sunshine in your soul. But if your eye is clouded with evil thoughts and desires, you are in deep spiritual darkness. And, oh, how deep that darkness can be!”

What we allow ourselves to see has a powerful effect on us spiritually as well; what we let in is eventually what will come out.

Garbage in = Garbage out

Why are we content to allow our hearts and minds to be used as trash cans when we are designed to carry within us the very Presence of God? I wonder how He feels about those things that He has to share space with in our hearts.

Society tells us, well-meaning friends say that we have the ability to choose how we behave, which is true. What we watch, what we listen to, according to this world, have no bearing on our actions because we can choose not to behave in ways that we have exposed ourselves to by what we see or hear. Indeed, we have the power to choose which path we will take, in fact, God made us with that power to make choices. It’s what we do with that power to choose that will determine the paths that our lives will take (Joshua 24:15).

Whether we like to admit it or not, the choices that we make daily in what we watch, read, see on our device screens all have an influence on us. As an athlete who is training for a marathon knows, performance in the race is undeniably connected not only to the physical training put in before the race, but also to the food that is used as fuel for the race.

How are you fueling your spirit?

Most people like, as with a new diet fad, to have a list of do’s and don’ts to help guide their behaviours. The problem is that God has not designed this life to be lived by law. He has designed life to be lived in relationship with Him as our Father, with us learning how to hear His voice as He guides us along the way.

John 10:27 NLT “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”

Hearing God’s voice, following His will, isn’t something mysterious or something that God wants to keep from us. His voice becomes familiar to us as we grow in our relationship with Him, telling us which way is the right way to take.

Psalm 119:30 NLT “The teaching of your Word gives light, so even the simple can understand.”

Simply put, the more we choose to spend time with God in His Word, the more familiar His voice will become. The Bible, His written will, becomes real to us as we learn to enter into it and not just read it.

Don’t just wish to be able to hear God’s voice – He’s speaking daily. The question is, will we choose to set aside time to open His Book and listen?


 

Posted in Motives, New Year Fast

Choices

I woke up facing lots of choices today: whether or not to ignore my alarm, whether or not I’m going to wear my glasses, brush my teeth, the list goes on. Some of those choices I don’t consider choices unless I think about them. i wouldn’t imagine going the day without brushing my teeth or wearing my glasses (or contacts). Not choosing them would have more negative than positive consequences for sure.

“IIsaiah 58:6a NASB “is this not the fast which I choose…”

Usually in reading the above verse about fasting, I go on and read the description of what happens when I fast. But I was stopped in my tracks this morning when I read the first few words: “Is this not the fast which I choose…”

Fasting this time of year is nothing new to me. We have had a first-of-year fast for all of our married lives. Every year, we discover our Father fresh and new when we fast. And then this morning, at the first of this year’s fast, I read “the fast which I choose…”

Every year I choose a certain way to fast. Some years I’ve done a total fast for the first few days and then modify it afterward, or a Daniel fast, or a media fast. There are many choices I’ve made over the years we have fasted – but this year I began to ponder my choice of fasting. What will my choice be?

The past weeks as I’ve considered the fast, I was a bit taken by how much we tend to magnify the effect on our bodies while we fast. Yes, there’s physical effect on our bodies – but this year I want to concentrate less on how I feel physically and more on how I grow spiritually.

This year, this is the fast which I choose: to be closer to Him, to think less of myself and how I feel, and to think more about Him and how He feels.

This is what I choose.