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Struggling With Life

Struggling With God

I’m far from being like Jacob, who wrestled with God all night (Genesis 32:23-25) in what must have been a sight to behold, but I still struggle with God. Conviction over sin that I gave into a few mornings ago, trying to stay true to the fast while at the same time not getting into a legalistic state of mind, trying to hear from God during this fast. It’s not that I’ve been extremely busy or anything, I’ve spent a good deal of time in the Word. Quite a bit more than what I did last year and I’ve got a bit out of it, but I’m feeling overwhelmed and distant. Knowing He’s there doesn’t help when you can’t feel your Daddy or hear what He’s trying to say.

Not Deaf To Everything

I have heard from God on certain things, but not what I proposed to focus on during this fast. I’ve tried to pray about what we are corporately fasting for, and for my personal purpose. I’ve heard on some other things, or just felt His blessing in endeavors I’m engaged in (my relationship with Carla, a healing of several acquaintanceship, and some other things) but it seems just when I’m really starting to hear from Him regularly, He’s gotten quiet. I know He’s still speaking, but I’m having a hard time just being still (Psalm 46:10).

In The Still of the Night

Being still is probably the hardest thing for me to do, though today I’ve been pretty still physically, and I’ve tried not to get too stirred up but, it seems like I’m always doing something. How do you folks “be still”? Set aside time? I can’t do that without constant interruption, especially if I’m trying to spend time communing with God. Leave the area? I can’t do that without getting interrogated when I get home, though I at least get something out of it. So I take what I can when I can. Today it hasn’t been much, but I got a little something out of it.

No, this fast has been a real struggle spiritually. As I wrestle with this and other issues for the rest of the fast, just keep me in your prayers. Prayer works and God listens to all His children and, if we are praying in His will, our prayers are answered with abundance. Praise God for all He’s done for such an undeserving wretch like me.

“Fast” Food Recipes

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Fast Food

Good Food

The following are some recipes that I’ve come across that taste great and can be used with the Daniel-style fast. Bon appetite!

Simple Fried Cabbage

Cabbage, eighths, and the eighth’s in half
EVOO
Salt
Pepper
White vinegar
One small onion, julienned

Cook in a lightly oiled (EVOO) cast iron skillet, put salt and pepper on the bottom of the pan.

Place in as much cabbage and onion as the skillet will hold. saute on medium-low to medium heat with no more than one-eighth cup vinegar until tender.

ENJOY!

Asparagus and Mushroom

One bunch fresh asparagus
EVOO
Salt
Pepper
Two big portabella mushroom caps

Rinse asparagus, cutting off the woody bottoms afterward
Take the portabella caps, clean and slice thickly

Put the asparagus in a large mixing bowl with the mushrooms. Drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper to taste, toss, bake in the oven at 400F for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

It Begins

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Starting tomorrow the Bridges of Hope corporate fast begins (for more information, check out Pastor Howard’s blog). I remember last year deciding what I’m going to fast over was easy. There were things I wanted to hear from God on and hear from Him clearly. For me that’s what fasting is all about. Needing a word from God and needing to be able to hear it clearly. Since fasting is about drawing closer to God, that “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12) becomes a lot clearer when you are emptied of yourself and the things of this world and are full of the Living God.

This year, however, looking for a focus was hard. After all, I’ve been extremely blessed with friendships, the start of a beautiful relationship with my girlfriend, entering school to learn a trade, and other blessings way too numerous to count. I’ve learned a lot about what God’s will tends to look like and what happens when we try to place ourselves in front of God. I’ve learned about faith, prayer, selfless giving, God’s love for us and why regular prayer, fasting, and giving are so important.

I believe that as of today, I have a firm focus for my fasting (which I will not share at this time, if at all) and with that in hand, I am looking forward to entering into this fast boldly and whole-heartedly and I look forward to once again sharing my insights (daily, hopefully). If you’re a Believer, than I encourage you to fast, pray, and give regularly and as outlined in Matthew 6 not as a way to get something from God, but as a way to give something to God.

Fasting Day 21

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Christ Has Risen! Death Has Been Defeated!

Today we celebrate the most important aspect of Christ’s mission on earth. Dieing for our sins. Without that supreme sacrifice, without the innocent Lamb being willingly led to the slaughter, we would not have salvation and eternal life when we accept Him as our Savior.

Today is also the last day of the fast. Sin has been forgiven, and what a day to ask for that forgiveness. Our fast is over, but don’t go anywhere, anyone. We’re holding out our baskets and waiting for them to be filled, like when God — through Ezra — worked that miracle for the widow and her son with the oil. God provided not just enough for them to get by, but enough to take care of all their debt AND for them to live on the money from the rest comfortably. All they had to do was believe that God would work through Ezra. God is supremely sufficient in all ways forever!

Such as it is with this fast. Apparently what I thought I should be praying about was not what God wanted me to pray about. Figures! But I listened! I heard you loud and clear today God! I had to take furious notes at church (times 2!) but I was listening, and I am literally bursting with joy!

Day 21

It started as soon as I woke up this morning. After I spent some time with God while I cleaned up for the day, I was able to share a wonderful breakfast with my family. What I was afraid wouldn’t be enough turned out to be more then sufficient. I should have seen the rest coming! Haha! God blessed me with being able to make scratch-gravy (used butter and bacon fat and flour to start the roux, add milk to desired thickness), scratch-made baking soda drop biscuits, Hormel black label maple bacon, Country pride sausage patties, and fried (in EVOO and a cast iron skillet) potatoes. It was beautiful and tasty. I forgot to pay attention to one pan of bacon and that went to the dogs (as did the left over bacon fat), but ya know what, they are family and get to celebrate too!

The real celebration, though, was at church today. As I made my way to church (thanks to the loving Cook family), God started percolating up inside me and by the end of service I was BURSTING! I could hardly contain myself, but I knew I had to. God has revealed the path He wants me to take in one matter. Now I pray for the boldness to go forth and do as He says, that my own voice goes mute and I speak with His words only, and that His will be done in all things: job, family, and relationships.

And He still wasn’t done! I get home and tell my father that service was awesome and he begins to talk to me about church and God and all of that and I wind up witnessing to him for two straight hours! Praise God! He’s even told me that he’s looking for a new church. Keep praying people of Bridges of Hope, God is hearing his people and answering their prayers!

Pray also that God brings to me, in His perfect timing, the spouse He has chosen for me. This whole fast, and really before that, He has been putting people in my life and bringing pieces of scripture to my attention in order to prepare me for when He works on the heart of the woman He has chosen for me. He wanted me to be ready so that there would be no doubt and hesitation on my part. God has chosen us both already. Pray that she is so moved too.

That brings me to something God gave me while at church (haha, He knows I could do the double note-taking, hehe).

It’s not so much what He told me as what He has lain on my heart to share, so bear with the tense shift please.

I reject everything that is in this world and only accept what You give me.

I reject all things of this world. You alone are sufficient! I accept Your will for me; Your job for me (whatever it is); the woman You have chosen for me. I give up and reject my family for Your family. I reject their will for Your will.

I beg of You Lord, in me fulfill Your promise for me. Give to me, as unworthy and imperfect as I am, what You see fit to give me.

To the woman You have chosen for me I say this.

If you looking for perfection, I am not it; only in Christ am I worthy for anything. Only in Him am I made perfect. I do my best but I fall short of anything. If you are waiting for beautiful, I am not it. I am only an ugly sinner washed clean in His blood. If you are waiting for riches, I have none in this world. I am but a poor man whose only riches lie in Heaven above. God gives me enough to live in this world and I accept His will. If you are waiting for true love, now that I have but only because God gave it to me to go give to you.

God also had this to share with me.

It inside me is a love so strong
God gave it to me I know its not wrong

A love so strong I want to cry
Christ’s live, enough to die

To you and God alone I do give
This love inside me that is so big

Christ died for us the church
For my love for Him and you my heart does lurch

Christ on that hill to show
How big His love for us does grow

To encompass all the east and west
His love for us the best

In comparison to my love for Him my love is small
But, I believe, God gave it to me so for you I can give it all.

I can hardly wait to see what else God has for me to share.

Fasting Day 20 & 21

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To All Things There Season Is A Season

Everything on Earth has been given a time to exist. Because of man sinning, he brought death to the entire world. From the time Adam and Eve sinned against God until we, as believers, go to be with Him in Eternal life there is death.

So is it with this fast. On this last day of the fast, I have found it exceedingly difficult to remain on it, especially since I’ve purchased some stuff for the beginning of next week (tomorrow I’m making scratch gravy, maple bacon, sausage, eggs, and biscuits for breakfast). I’m also in the process of trying to get back in sync with God. I want to be on the same page He is on. I want to be in His footsteps, not beside them. He leads, I follow. You get the idea.

Unfortunately I think I’ve hurt some relationships. Too much time spent out today (from being picked up at work to getting home) and I missed an appointment with my Life Group that I really wanted to keep. Part of it was my fault for not keeping up with the time better.

Day 20

As this day draws to a close and signals the end of the fast, I am awaiting on God to begin showing me what He can as I seek to put myself back in alignment with His will. I feel as if I’ve been out of line since last week Friday, though I had a small adjustment this past Sunday, but on Wednesday; well everything went out of whack that day. Since then, I’ve found it difficult to hear His voice.

Day 21

You know, I think I’ve really bummed up the counting. Pastor has today at 21, but I still am counting tomorrow as such. Perhaps someone can help me figure out if I did anything wrong?

If we are counting today as the 21st day, then I’m praying I’m back in line with God so I can hear what He has to say with an open, unencumbered heart. Even if we are counting tomorrow as the 21st day, I’m praying for the same.

Dear God, break through these bonds that are keeping me from you. Remove the mufflers that are deafening your voice. Get rid of all the obstacles that are between You and I. I want to be all for you and no one and nothing else. My job is Yours. My money is Yours. My relationships are Yours. My love is Yours. My life is Yours. All that I have, it is Yours. Take from me what You will and leave me with the rest. It is all Yours and I give it all freely and wholeheartedly. I know I will fall from time to time, but I know I just need to look up to see your smiling, loving face and take the proffered hand so I can get back up. Only You can lift me up, O Lord. Only you can make me whole and complete. Only you can choose all the things in my life that need choosing. You choose my food, my drink, my spouse, my children (if I ever have any, and I know if it is your will, I will have kids), everything. You chose my job for me, you chose my pay for me. I believe You even chose the hours I work. I love you God, and I only want more of you. In Christ’s holy name I pray. Amen.

Fasting Days 19 & 20

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Getting Harder and Harder

Have you ever done something, gone in with the best and right intentions and come out feeling like a complete failure? I’m feeling that right about now. The food part of the fast is getting harder because of certain things going on. I already talked to pastor about one aspect of it so I don’t feel bad about that. But today? Today was horrid.

I won’t go into details, but I feel like since Wednesday I’ve been completely out of sync with God. I don’t like that, not one bit.

Day 19

As stated above, I’ve been feeling out of sync with God and today was worse than ever and it reflected in the sort of day I’ve had. Problems at work (broken glass in lasagna), problems at home, personal problems. I feel like I should keep on in the sacrifice part of the fast, after all it’s just one more day but I don’t know. Being so out of sync with Him, I’m just not sure.

Day 20

I’m seriously in need of your prayer, brothers and sisters. Help me get back in sync with God. That’s all I care about. Living in His will. Walking in His way. That’s all I want. Everything else is gravy.

Fasting Days 18 & 19

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Ever Made A Mistake?

Well, it seems as if I snafu-ed several posts back. Somehow I have miscounted the days. Today should be 18, tomorrow 19 and Saturday 20 and Sunday 21. I’m not sure what’s going on with my counting. Perhaps DeWayne could help me figure out where I’ve miscounted.

That’s ok, though. Whether or not I’ve miscounted, God knows how long I’ve been participating in this corporate fast. Just like my other mistakes, I just need to pick up and move on and keep going forward while learning from the experience. Just like when I accepted Christ as my savior. It’s time to pick up, move on, and learn from the past. It is time to open up my heart and mind for what God is about to do in my life. I’ve learned from my past mistakes and I do my best to avoid repeating them.

God knows we aren’t perfect though and that we continue to make mistakes, sometimes even the same ones.

Day 18

Today was exhausting and I didn’t get to do the things I wanted to. Perhaps it’s for the best, though. I socialized a little outside of a church setting, but still continued in my walk with Christ. Tonight I’m staying up a bit later as I don’t have to be into work so early tomorrow though I’m only moving my alarm up one hour. Even though I tried napping earlier, I didn’t get anything restful (and even an earful of being poked fun at) so I’m just as tired as I was before.

God is continuing to work on me in wondrous ways, even if I fell back a little this morning. I’m getting better at that one aspect of my God-improvement plan. As I allow Him to continue to work in me and through me, I will continue to get even better at it. I’ll never be perfect though. I am only human after all.

Day 19

We are closing quickly on the end of the fast, Day 21 is almost upon us! Tomorrow is going to be spent doing the Lord’s work just about all day. I start off at my new job, from 6 probably to noon and then move on to handing out little packages of joy in a small effort to show God’s love in a practical way. Seems as if tomorrow is going to be an awesome day for it, too. I’ll be changing into shorts after work.

Time to get these yankee leg’s some color! I do have to look good in my swim trunks, after all. ;)

Fasting Day 17 & 18

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Are You A Child of God?

If there is anything better than being a Child of God, it’s knowing that God used you in a way that you could have never imagined. As a Christian, what you do, how you live your life, what you say. It all has an impact. You might not be able to see it or feel it or even ever know you had one, but you have one. That’s why it’s so important for all who claim to have been washed in the blood of Christ to live as if they do. If you believe Christ is your savior, that He died for your sins and mine, then do your best to live like it! Just living like a Christian can have a bigger impact on someone else’s life then you could ever hope to imagine.

That is why it is so important for all Christians to unite together under one banner, Christ’s banner, and to put aside the petty differences that keep us apart. Do you believe in God? Do you believe the Bible is the final, authoritative word of God entirely inspired by God and only written by human ghostwriters? Do you believe that Christ died on the cross for not just your sins but everyone’s sin, so that all we had to do is believe that He is the Messiah and to live as He taught us to live and therefore gain eternal life in paradise?

Believing any one of those things is a good start to having a full and meaningful relationship with Christ and God and gaining, through nothing more than faith, God’s gift of grace and salvation through the redeeming blood of Christ Jesus. Praise God I love Him more each and every day!

Day 17

Writing these in the evening instead of the morning is quite an interesting endeavor. Generally for the current day I write my thoughts on where the Lord is going to lead me and offer up a sort of prayer asking Him to continue to guide me. While the day isn’t over, it might as well be for me. No more studying (which I did plenty of today, I think I got in at least two straight hours) as I just sit and relax and hope to find some time to just listen to the Lord before I go to bed. Since I am blogging in the evenings now, I will no longer put two days into my posts. It’s just too weird now.

Work today was actually pretty awesome. We did some business for breakfast and for lunch and when I left they were still steady. I was able to spend a good deal of time in the word today. It was such a blessing. If I get my drivers license back anytime soon, I will definitely make it a habit to head over to church to study at least once a week. It’s so peaceful there.

Day 18

Tomorrow is going to be a blessing, I just know it. God is getting ready for His grand finale during this time of fasting for Bridges Of Hope Fellowship. I just hope I’m ready to receive every last bit of blessings He is about to unleash upon myself, my congregation, and on the church itself. Our (well, really God’s) building project has taken off in ways you cannot even imagine. Go, check out A Unity Project (note, as of this posting the website is down, it should be back up soon) and prepared to have your mind blown away. This is what happens when God’s children become (God’s) Kingdom minded instead of (our) kingdom minded.

Fasting Day 16 & 17

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“It’s The End of the World As We Know It”

There are so many doom sayers and supposed prophets that try to claim one day or another will be the end of the world. Nostradamus and his followers say it’s 12 December 2012. So when is the end of the world? Well, we just don’t know. Christ Himself has implied that we won’t know when, but when He does come we will surely know it. So why are people so enamored by these false prophets who claim to know the end of the world by signs not from God? Is it because we’re just really curious? Perhaps. But why? Why does the end of the world enamor so many people? Perhaps it’s because they know, deep down, just where they are going. Those who believe and are faithful will go with Christ. Those who don’t and weren’t, won’t.

I don’t concern myself with the end of the world. I try not to concern myself with tomorrow. Today has enough troubles of its own to consume my attention.

Day 16

A very slow, boring day. I’m starting to really struggle with staying in any of my studies. I keep on saying, “Tomorrow I will do better.” But why not do better today? Tomorrow might not come and then where will I be?

Day 17

Another day, more procrastination. The days are growing short and the time will come where there will be no more days. What will I do then? If I wake up tomorrow (and I pray that I will), I will be taking my bible with me to work so that I might study afterward (I will be heading to the church and probably spend the day with pastor if it’s OK with him). I had other plans, but lack of planning on someone else’s part has changed those for me. That’s ok though. I can work around that. God probably has something else planned for me tomorrow anyway. There is never a time like the present, the right here and now, to start living in His will and for His will.

Fasting Day 15 & 16

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Waiting On God

God has shown time and again that He will move in His own time. Just look at the span of time between promising Abraham and Sarah a child and promising to make Abraham the father of all nations and Him actually fulfilling that (Abraham’s attempt at taking the lead not-with-standing). As far as I can tell, even between Abraham trying to take the lead and fathering Ishmael with Hagar and God fulfilling His promise to Abraham with a child from Sarah (Isaac) there is at least 10 years. If Abraham could remain faithful for another 10 years after his own attempt at helping God fulfill His promise, surely we can do the same.

I know it’s hard to not try and help God. We do it every time we make a decision without His input. In some things He’s ready to move almost as soon as we ask. In other things, He waits because He wants us to have patience and true reliance in Him. Don’t be the Abraham that fathered Ishmael with Hagar and be the Abraham that waited on God for Isaac from Sarah. Have faith and take heart, God fulfills all his promises!

I’m about halfway done with my Ephesians study, though I plan on going back over it again and again, even after I’m done fasting, because I want to make sure I pick up on every little thing God is trying to tell me. There is a lot to Ephesians and right now I’m going through and picking out the very first things that pop for me. I believe those are areas that He wants me to study in more detail on. Praising God for his awesomeness!

Day 15

Had an awesome word from the Lord during service on Sunday. I pray that I’m back on track for living and following in His will. That is all I really want from life. Yes, I would like to get married, and yes, there is someone I know that I would really like that to happen with but God may have different plans. I need to give up my own desires so that I’m ready when God finally does reveal His way for me. Whether it be 10 days or 10 months or 10 years from now. I believe this to be my time of testing in this matter. God knows where my heart is, but is it where His heart for me is?

Day 16

Because of how God is acting in the life of my bible study partner, I have decided that it would be best if we took this week off so she could focus in what God is telling her and drawing her toward in the Bible. God should always be first in our lives. Starting as of yesterday, I’m doing my best to bring Him back to number 1 in mine.

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