Choosing God

By JC

This is the fourth post in a series about a 40 day fast I recently completed. The previous entries are:

The task for the final day of the fast was to write vows of commitment to God, focusing on areas in your relationship with Him that need to be renewed or strengthened. Mine are below.

Credit: JC

I commit to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). I commit to purging my possessions and giving to those in need, to store up treasure in heaven so the desires of my heart will be heaven-focused (Luke 12:34). I commit to choosing a rich relationship with God over earthly wealth and not worrying about whether I have enough food or clothes (Luke 12:21-23).

I commit to going and making disciples of all the nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teaching these new disciples to obey God’s commands knowing that You are with me to the end (Matthew 28:18-20).

I commit to forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). I commit to always rejoicing in the Lord and, instead of worrying, praying about everything and thanking God for all He has done – focusing on the peace He guards my heart and mind with (Philippians 4:4-7). I commit to fixing my mind on that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). I commit to being content with whatever I have and knowing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

I commit to being bold for Christ and working to bring honor to Christ, my life is His (Philippians 1:20-21). I will submit to Christ in everything and parent my children in the instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24; 6:1-4).

I commit to remembering that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I commit to only worshiping the one true God and not misusing His name. I commit to keeping the Sabbath holy, honoring my parents and not committing murder or adultery or stealing, lying, or coveting (Exodus 20:3-17).

I commit to remembering that overwhelming victory is mine through Christ because nothing can ever separate me from His love (Romans 8:37-39). I commit to loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and meditating on His commands daily (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).

I commit to confessing my sins daily because I will fail at these commitments but He is faithful (1 John 1:9).

I commit that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15).

A 40 day fast to deepen your relationship with God

By JC

I recently completed a 40 day fast for my marriage during which I performed at least one daily act to try to show my spouse the kindness and love of Christ, regardless of his behavior. While Fireproof was an initial jumping off point, I created my own version to better fit my situation. I learned as I did mine and landed with the below.

Goal: Deepen your relationship with God.
Notes: I recommend that you combine this with a daily food fast. When you crave the food(s) you have given up, it will remind you throughout the day of the fast. Due to its origins, the text of this fast assumes you are married. However, you could potentially replace “spouse” with any key person in your life. As I mentioned last time, this fast is NOT intended for people who are in marriages where your health/well-being is at stake. I am not asking you to stay with someone for 40 days who mistreats you or your kids or anyone. If you are in this kind of relationship, please get help: www.thehotline.org. God created you in His image, and He did not intend for you to be abused by your spouse or anyone.
Prayer when craving the missing food(s) and during your daily quiet time: “Let today be the day I come to know You deeper than ever before.”

Day 1: Commit to reading the Bible daily for at least 15 minutes, if you do not already do so. Commit to praying daily for at least 10 minutes, if you do not already do so.

Day 2: Find a “Nathan” for this fast to hold you accountable. Named for the prophet who confronted King David in 2 Samuel 12 after he sinned against God, a “Nathan” is the person in your life who will challenge you, call you out, and tell you like it is.

Day 3: Ask how you can pray for your spouse. If he or she won’t/can’t answer, pray Deuteronomy 6:5 over them: “I pray [spouse’s name] will love the LORD our God with all [his/her] heart, all [his/her] soul, and all [his/her] strength.”

Day 4: At least during the fast, commit to live out Ephesians 4:26-31:

“‘Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

Day 5: Commit to live out Galatians 5:22-26:

“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

Day 6: Commit to communicating to your spouse either a verse or a prayer every day during the fast.

Day 7: Forgive your spouse. Write a letter to give them or burn.

Day 8: Ask your spouse how the situation or circumstance he or she asked you to pray about is going. If a specific request was not provided, communicate to them, “I am praying for you daily.”

Day 9: Do something unexpected that your spouse will see as a kind gesture.

Day 10: Thank your spouse for something he or she recently did.

Day 11: Write our three positive things about your spouse. Leave it for him or her to find.

Day 12: Think of something you do that you know annoys your spouse. If you don’t know, ask. Don’t do this thing for the rest of the fast.

Day 13: Think of a conflict you and your spouse have that you can pray about and find a compromise. Try to put your spouse first.

Day 14: Be present with your spouse. No need to say or do anything. Just be present.

Day 15: Cook or buy your spouse his or her favorite dinner.

Day 16: Find a way to show respect to your spouse today.

Day 17: Pray to God to examine your heart and show you anything that offends Him.

Day 18: Pray for God to allow you to see your spouse through His eyes.

Day 19: Check in with your spouse to see if the prayer request has changed or how it is progressing.

Day 20: Remove any temptation that may be in your life – a person, a thing; get help for an addiction, etc.

Credit: JC

Day 21: Plan to worship with your spouse.

Day 22: See if your spouse will share with you anything for which you need to ask forgiveness. If so, ask forgiveness. If you don’t feel sorry, pray about it. Don’t just emptily apologize.

Day 23: Do an unexpected kind gesture.

Day 24: Leave your spouse an encouraging card with Scriptures.

Day 25: Find out your spouse’s love language. If you already know, fill him or her up.

Day 26: Pray with your spouse. If you can’t, tell him or her that you are praying for them.

Day 27: Recommend a Bible study to your spouse to read alone or together.

Day 28: Thank your spouse for a specific thing he or she recently did.

Day 29: Check in with your spouse to see if the prayer request has changed or how it is progressing.

Day 30: Leave your spouse a handwritten letter of encouragement with verses.

Day 31: Do an unexpected kind gesture.

Day 32: Write what made you fall in love with your spouse. Give it to him or her, if you so choose.

Day 33: Create a “break” for your spouse. Do a chore, errand, or something else he or she would normally do.

Day 34: Cook or buy your spouse his or her favorite meal.

Day 35: Plan to worship with your spouse.

Day 36: Spend time with God. Ask Him to examine your heart. Listen.

Day 37: Thank your spouse for something he or she recently did.

Day 38: Check in with your spouse to see if the prayer request has changed or how it is progressing.

Day 39: Determine what, if anything, you want to share with your spouse about the fast. Any letters written during it? Any insights?

Day 40: Write vows of commitment to God. What areas in your relationship with God need to be renewed? Strengthened?

In a future installment, I will share my renewed commitment to God from Day 40. Thank you for reading. I pray that if you choose to fast, you will find what you seek.

40 days in the desert

By JC

Today is the last day of the 40 day fast for my marriage. I completed at least one daily act of kindness for the past 40 days to try to show my spouse the kindness and love of Christ, regardless of his behavior. Prior to this fast, I was frustrated with my spouse’s behaviors and saw him differently than I do now. Doing the acts of kindness had an opposite effect than I would have expected. My spouse ignored or rejected all of my acts of kindness and instead increased his negativity.

I have been praying hedges of protection with the blood of Jesus at least once a day around the kids and the house to protect us from the increased negativity. There is so much power in the name of Jesus!!

Before I go any further with this post, I feel burdened to say that the 40 day fast approach is NOT intended for people who are in marriages where your health/well-being is at stake. I am not asking you to stay with someone for 40 days who mistreats you or your kids or anyone. Please get help. I learned over these 40 days that it takes 7 times for someone who is being abused to finally leave. More sobering than that, not everyone survives to their 7th attempt. If you are in this kind of relationship, please get help: www.thehotline.org. God created you in His image, and He did not intend for you to be abused by your spouse or anyone. He sees you as His temple:

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.”
from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

There are many other verses, but just know that you are loved by God Almighty, there is hope, and you ARE strong enough in Jesus to leave. I now know that.

I received so many insights during this 40 day fast. I mentioned one example of a fast in my last post, that one is for two married people who are both believers and one spouse does not hate the other. That is not my situation, as my husband has not spoken to me in many months and refuses to be in the same room with me, even though we currently live together. So, I modified the fast I used to better fit my situation, but still included Christ-like daily tasks. I will post the revised fast I created soon.

I recommend that if you create your own fast, daily pray and obey two sets of Scriptures. The first is:

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:29-32

The second set of verses is:

“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
from Galatians 5:22-23

Pray that you will show the fruit of the Spirit daily to your spouse and to others as well.

Armed with daily prayers and an open heart, the insights began to flow over the 40 days:

  • Working to be more like Jesus ALWAYS hurts because as sinners, we are so far from Him.
  • Everyone needs a “Nathan” and should be a “Nathan” for someone. Named for the prophet who confronted King David in 2 Samuel 12 after he sinned against God, a “Nathan” is the person in your life who will challenge you, call you out, tell you like it is, and hold you accountable.
  • If your spouse is saved and does not pray with you, read with you, worship with you, or help you feel Jesus, get on your knees and pray about it. It is a problem. Galatians 5:7-8 states, “You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.” These verses spoke volumes to me in my situation.
  • God never commanded us to obey someone in authority when they are leading us to rebel against God. There are many examples of this in the Bible, but I will note only one. From Daniel 6:6-10, “So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said [. . .] give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. [. . .] But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” We are never to rebel against God because someone in authority over us leads us that way. Never.
  • I had to realize the need for God to change my heart. Regardless of how my spouse acted. I needed to respond in a Christ-like manner and show my kids a healthy example of Jesus in marriage in my home. I needed to examine my own heart.
  • I must see my spouse as a child of God; Jesus died for my spouse. No matter how I feel about him or how he treats me, God loves my spouse. I prayed that God would help me to see my spouse as God sees him. Instead of frustration with my spouse, I began to feel deep pity. I then cried many mornings praying for my spouse as I saw how he is missing out on the incredible relationship that believers should have with Jesus. To be clear, my spouse says he is saved and has been baptized, but refuses to pray with me or the kids, I have never seen him read the Bible or heard him quote Scripture or say the name “Jesus.” It is not my place to judge his relationship with Jesus, all I know is I now pitied this person that used to frustrate me. I began to beg God daily that my spouse would come to know Jesus deeper that day then he ever had before. I will continue to pray this.
  • I asked my spouse, “How can I pray for you?” Note that I prayed for him daily already, but this was an opportunity for him to share with me, if he chose to, what his prayer needs were.
  • Share with your spouse that you pray for them daily. It is irrelevant if they care or acknowledge this. You never need anyone’s permission to pray for them.
  • Anytime you try to move your family to obedience, Satan will fight you hard. He wants the family out of alignment with God’s Word because the family is the foundation to everything.
  • I needed to find things for which to appreciate my spouse, such as, “Thank you for cutting the grass.”
  • I needed to acknowledge Christian things my spouse does, such as, “I am grateful that you were baptized.”
  • I wrote a letter to my spouse asking for forgiveness. As he has not spoken to me in many months, I still wanted to do this task, as I am sure I have hurt him over the years of our marriage. I did not want to write some generic letter, so I prayed about what to write that would be authentic and possibly heal my spouse. During my quiet time one morning, God showed me that I failed at Ephesians 5:22-24, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” As a wife, I did not always obey these verses. So, I apologized to my husband for not consistently obeying Ephesians 5.
Credit: JC
  • As the hate and hurt flowed from my spouse, Pastor’s wife shared with me that it is the anguish in my spouse’s soul manifesting, which reinforced the pity I now feel.
  • I wrote vows to God on the last day of the fast. Pastor told me this fast was going to be more about me and less about my marriage. I admit I did not understand that in the beginning, but he was right.

If your spouse is not saved, I highly recommend Stormie Omartian‘s The Power of a Praying Wife Book of Prayers or The Power of a Praying Husband. I prayed through this book nine years ago, and my spouse made a profession of faith and was baptized as I completed the book. Also, please refer to 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, “Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.” I was in that boat for two years where I was the believer and my spouse was not. Again, I am not at all saying to stay with someone who abuses you. Please get help.

As for Snow, his unbelieving wife is divorcing him. This situation is found in 1 Corinthians 7:15, “If the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.”

As the 40 day fast concludes, I now see my spouse as someone to be pitied, and I cry out for him daily instead of the “mindless” prayers I used to pray for him. I now know that with Christ’s strength, I can respond to hate with love. I now trust God even more, for I was reminded that God has me and my kids; He always has. I now pray “Thy will be done” and mean it.

I thank God for this fast and pray that if you choose to enter a fast, you will receive the insights you seek.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
James 1:5

Never truly apart

By JC

During a fast where one of the prayers was to hit me with a 4×4 of what to do in my marriage, I felt led by God to meet with two friends – a pastor and his wife. In previous posts, I have talked a little about my marriage and the struggles that exist in the church family and assumptions and so on. There was a lot going on in my mind, how do I know what is from God? I do know that “God hates divorce,” for I have heard that over and over.

My friends both had been married before; they each had different experiences. They were brutally honest with me, which I needed. I came in with a list of reasons why I needed a divorce – self-justification of why Malachi 2 did not apply. They said, of course God will forgive you if you choose to divorce your spouse. That is not the right attitude, though. Out of love, they called me out, and asked, did I want their permission to divorce, or did I want a path that would deepen my relationship with God as I proceeded?

Of course, I wanted to deepen my relationship with God! I had mentioned Snow to them, and they asked whether I was having an affair with him, and I said absolutely not. Which is the truth. I shared that we pray together and read together daily, that we fast together. That we have been on this journey together since June of 2018. They then said that I was having an emotional affair with Snow. I had not seen it that way, but there was a 4×4 I needed.

It is true that Snow did many things my spouse refused to do, such as speak to me, pray with me, read with me, serve with me, and fast with me.

In order to be fully emptied out and healed, they said I needed to fast for 40 days from Snow AND show Christ’s kindness to my spouse during those 40 days. Based on Fireproof, there are little tasks, like do an unexpected act of kindness. Things I was already doing for my spouse prior to the fast included, praying for him everyday, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. I did not speak hurt or hate into his life, and I worked hard to never say a bad word about him to our kids. Those things continue.

This fast approach is to achieve two things:

  1. Eliminate the enemy using Snow as a temptation.
  2. Allow me to treat my spouse in a way that honors God.

Pastor and his wife had not left their previous marriages in healthy ways, and it caused them damage as individuals and brought baggage into their marriage to one another. They made it clear this fast was about ME and being emptied and healed and focusing on God and being fully dependent on God. I would come out stronger and closer to God.

I know that God used them to speak to me because I had been hearing whispers from God that I needed to fast from Snow (for both of us, not just me), but I would not listen because I did not want to do it. When it was mentioned by Pastor, I knew this was God, and I also knew that I would not be able to move forward without doing this. So, very unwillingly, I agreed to the 40-day covenant with God – broken only if my spouse left or a death occurred. Pastor then said not to tell my spouse or kids what I was doing.

I went to Snow’s place that very night and shared that I needed to fast from him for the next 40 days. That was harder than I thought, which only reinforced that I needed to do it. Fasts are supposed to be a sacrifice, that you give up a thing that is being placed above God or that is going to hurt to give up. Fasts are not supposed to be easy. They are supposed to have a cost assigned to them.

“David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. […] David replied, ‘I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.'”
2 Samuel 12:16,22

I was still on the food fast about my marriage, so I maintained that fast and kicked off this new one. As mentioned, it is combined with being Christ-like, regardless of how my spouse acts. The goal is to demonstrate to the kids a healthier example and leave the marriage knowing I treated my spouse in a Christ-like manner. I was not always doing this before, for when spouse got on my nerves, I would tell Snow things he did – a “no-no.” I had not seen it that way, as Snow is also my best friend – but they were right, I was having an emotional affair. I would add that I was also having a spiritual affair. As they said, the fast is more about me than it is about my spouse.

Driving away that night from Snow’s place, I was struggling to breathe, let alone drive – I felt like I was hyperventilating. I felt sick to my stomach – how will I survive without praying with him, reading with him, being challenged by him as we read the Scriptures?

Credit: JC

I have since learned that I do, in fact, feel Jesus through Snow. He is one way that I feel Jesus. I also feel Jesus on my own, of course, because I do have a personal relationship with Jesus, but I definitely grow in Jesus when we are studying or praying together. I learned just how much I love Snow and how spiritually entangled I am with him. So, yes, I definitely needed to fast from him.

I will not be leaving my marriage for a man, but instead leaving a marriage where I acted as Christ-like as I could and, yet, was ignored or rejected. Pastor said this was irreconcilable differences.

The first few days of this fast, God answered prayers left and right, and I started to trust Him more and more. He started to show visions in dreams and such of a future assignment. All the while, I was doing acts of kindness and my spouse was rejecting them at worst or ignoring them at best. This was exactly what I expected, but, again, this is about me and providing a Christ-like example to my kids and leaving this marriage knowing I acted as Christ-like as possible to my spouse.

We are now on the 14th day of the fast. Back on the 5th day, God wrote the following through me. I shot up out of bed and immediately started to write this poem. I don’t do poetry. It was flowing so fast, I could barely keep up, and the lines were being given to me out of order, so I was guessing where they would go. It just flowed, and I tried to keep up.

Praise You in this Fast

I will praise You in this fast.
I belong first in Your arms,
Healing me and sealing me from my past.
Blowing away life’s fiery storms,
I am being purified,
And I am being prepared.
I will testify!

Yes, this pain is more than I can bear,
In You, my salvation does lie.
Wash me clean,
Bend me, break me,
I must walk by faith, not by what I have seen.
You are my God!
I will raise my hands in praise!

Rip down any facade.
No matter how high the waves, You carry me and lift me above,
While this tears at my heart, I have never felt so close to Your love,
And now we know we are never truly apart.
I have learned incredible trust,
Work and purify and refine,
I did not want to do this, but now I see I must,
You are a jealous God and said “I want you both to be all Mine.”

With many tears, I obey,
Like clay, reshape my life.
Each day, You are showing me the Way.
At the end, I will be his wife.
I have learned I needed to forgive,
I needed to cleanse,
Being freed, I can truly live.
I needed to see through Your lens.

I have been ripped in two, my very soul,
This mourning has torn my heart,
Only You can fill this hole.
Now we will never be apart,
You have taught me to trust.
Love the Lord God with all your strength and mind,
Body, soul, spirit and might,
You are all I need to find,
You fill me with the strength to fight.
You fill me with confidence I will see him again,
It will be at the end of an aisle,
Though I don’t know exactly when.
At each thought of You and him, I smile,
I surrender all to You,
That is what this fast is about,
So the one can become two,
Removing each and every doubt.
I am Yours forever,
We will walk side by side always,
We belong together, wherever and however,
Never to be separated, not even by the end of days.

Our souls are intertwined with each other,
We are so buried in You,
We will never worship another,
This love is being purified and made true.
While we bend and break in Your hands,
Our love and bond in You grows,
May You always shield our marriage from life’s demands,
Running into Your arms is all we need to know.

Thank you, thank you for this fast!
While we lay shattered,
New clay molds are being cast.
Our bodies and souls will not remain battered,
You saw us in the womb,
Wove us together in history,
Freed by Jesus the second He left the tomb.
Drop these chains, release the hurt, you are now part of His story,
Who could ever fathom such love,
May we never forget the lessons of this fast,
Through life’s storms, we will keep our eyes on You above,
Our growth and trust, may it ever last,
Forged in pain and tears,
We will praise You in this fast,
As You gently wash away our fears.

Dangerous prayers

By JC

Monday night of this week, Snow and I were praying. We pray and read the Bible together every day. Praise God for my true love. But this is not about true love. We were praying fervently for His will.

We are at a point in our journeys where there are big decisions to be made. See our previous posts, “Leave the past” and “Writing Jesus with a burdened heart” in our “Burn the Ships” series.

I was praying for God to hit us with a 2×4 to make it obvious what we should do, asking “What is Your will, God?” Then, Snow decided that a 2×4 was not large enough or obvious enough, so he proceeded to ask for a 4×4. We also decided to begin a fast.

Within twelve hours, I was informed that I was being laid off from my job, effective that day.

The deep love and beauty of Jesus is to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

As I was being informed of my termination, I was so filled with the peace of Jesus. I was able to comfort the people terminating me and share my faith. What an amazing God we serve that He answered the 4×4 prayer within twelve hours in such a clear way. I love clarity, and I received it – thank God!

In addition to the 4×4 prayer, I have been praying, “Bend me, break me to Your will.” I know that I am not aligned to His will because I am unsettled. I have been burdened to get a job where I can touch souls daily and advance the Kingdom. What an incredible gift that would be!

Credit: JC

I have felt like Samuel for years: “Here I am.” I am ready to go wherever and do whatever.

I am not denying that people in the corporate world can touch souls, for we serve where He places us. I am saying I need to be on the front lines, for I love being there.

Holding the sick, feeding the hungry, and sharing Jesus with the hurting, the widowed, and the orphaned. I am 100% fulfilled in my soul and spirit during those times, doing what He created me to do.

“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
James 1:27

Earlier this week, when God broke my corporate chains, I felt so liberated! Then, it occurred to me – why did I ignore the burden He put on my heart to get on the front lines? (Your post a couple of weeks ago illustrates that you did not ignore it, my love. It explains exactly why you had not yet acted to get on the front lines. –Snow) Why did I need God to move my feet and end the corporate job? Why didn’t I do it?

Maybe I did not have the strength, or maybe I did not trust Him. “Bend me, break me.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7

When you pray dangerous prayers, such as the 4×4 prayer, expect God to move – because He will. When you ask Him to “bend me, break me to Your will,” He will.

You will wind up having incredible trust in Him when you pray these prayers, and He moves.

(Trust in God is something I have struggled with as a new believer. JC tells me I vacillate on this aspect of my walk with Him. Yesterday morning, I found an unfamiliar trail in our favorite park. “I don’t think I’ve been down this path before,” I thought, and I immediately felt God, through the Holy Spirit. I walked the path with Him. I talked to Him. I thanked Him for my blessings, including Jesus, JC, my mom, my brother and sisters, and this wonderful world that humanity has tried its best to ruin. The joyful tears flowed. He revealed an event that is happening soon in my life. He told me how to react. “I trust you, Lord,” I kept repeating. I could feel Him the whole way. Like He was holding me. My entire body. As I neared the end of the path, I realized, “This path was here all along. We never saw it.” On and off that whole morning, I could feel Him, and, to a lesser frequency, the rest of the day as well. Even this morning I felt Him again briefly earlier today, and I feel Him now as I write this. I have never had such an intense experience as yesterday. I trust Him. I trust Him. Where I still struggle, though, even after all of that, is giving JC to Him. I have tried to do this a few times already, but I always end up wanting to cling to her. I just love her so much. I remain a work in progress. Our walk continues. –Snow)

There is nothing but full dependency on Him when He shapes your life to His will. Scary? Maybe. But He loves me more than I can understand, and He has never let me down.

What an amazing and powerful God we serve! He closed one chapter in my life this week, and I am elated to see where He takes me next.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20

I surrender to You, all that You loaned me – time, talents, resources. Use me. I pray that my life verse is finally coming to fruition, that I am finally getting out of my own way.

“For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”
Philippians 1:21

(I’d like to close out today with a prayer for JC and anyone else whose life has encountered an unexpected turn of events:

Heavenly Father,

Please lift up Your travelers. Fill them with inspiration, faith, and insight. Fill them with You – love. Illuminate their paths, Lord. Show them the paths they do not yet see. Maybe these are paths that have been there all along. Maybe these are brand new paths that you have forged just for them. Reach out and hold them, Lord. Touch them. Touch their hearts. Touch their souls. Show them Your will. It is in the precious name of Jesus I pray.

Amen

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you. –Snow)

JC Journals: Writing Jesus with a burdened heart

By JC

Dear Jesus,

I love You. I love You more than I can ever express. But thank God You already know how much I love You because You created this heart, mind, body, and soul. All I am and all I have is Yours. Not because I give it to You. I can’t give You something that was already Yours. Instead, I surrender to the knowledge that all I am and all I have is Yours. Use me. Use me daily, please. Yes, I’m broken and messed up. Yes, I sin every single day – but You can still use me because of Your incredible love. I’m sorry I am what I am. I’m sorry for the things I have done and the things I have thought about doing. Forgive me Jesus. Wash me clean, and use me. Whatever that means – use me. I surrender all areas of my life to You. I cannot get things right without You. I can do nothing apart from You.

I have been saved for 11 years. Nothing is the same – thank God! I am a new creation. I didn’t know that would happen, and I certainly did not see You coming into my life. You hit me like a tidal wave and my life, which was never mine, was handed over to the Creator. Very soon after my salvation, I felt the Holy Spirit burdening my heart for mission work or owning a business. I knew back then that I needed my spouse to have that same burden. I started praying, Lord, “for the Holy Spirit to reveal to (spouse) what I feel He has already shown me – I know it is in His perfect time.”

I quickly took a leap of faith. Just a few short months into being saved, I resigned from a lucrative job with upward mobility; over ten years at the same company, but I trusted You. You protected me and took me on a scary journey that blessed me so very much. I cannot express my gratitude for the path you took me on. But this letter is not about my career path. It’s about my marriage.

Father when I married, neither of us were saved. When I met You, I had 3 kids and 12 years of marriage under my belt. You changed me – thank God! You changed me! My heart, mind, body, soul, spirit, and money became all about You. I cried (and still do) myself to sleep trying to understand how it is that I have this incredible burden for missions, giving, and having minimal stuff – I just need You! But my spouse does not share this burden. He was baptized two years after me and says he is saved. Father, he is a deacon and leads mission trips – so he certainly appears to be saved to the church family. He serves in a ministry, too. Aren’t those all things a “saved” person would do? Father, only You know his heart. I plead with You to either bring him to salvation or remind him of his salvation.


On April 24, 2011, I wrote this to you, Lord: Still confused about obedience to husband. Continuing to pray for revelation to both of us. Still want to purge this house of stuff and wipe debt away.

Why would one spouse be so burdened and not the other? My Pastor told me, “God is not a God of confusion.” I agree with that – but what if I am not confused.


April 27, 2011: No change on . . . unity.

I told myself, “God is not a God of confusion.”


April 30, 2011. I decided to tithe. I was lead to do it based on Malachi 3:9-10, and I did it. It was income You provided to me, Lord. I didn’t ask my husband; I just did it, and I prayed that God would be seen and glorified through that tithe of first fruits.

That was the first time this household had ever tithed.

I was firm in that we were going to tithe no matter what the numbers said. “Test me.” . . . My prayer is that God will be seen!


May 2, 2011: . . . we certainly could’ve used that money. But – there is no doubt in my mind that He will do way greater things with that money than we could ever do! May God forgive us for failing as stewards for so long and for so much money.

Was I wrong as a wife to tithe without my husband being led to tithe? I don’t think so, because otherwise I am disobeying Scripture. Jesus is first in all things.


May 9, 2011, Mother’s Day: What makes a mom happy:

  1. The Dad/husband to be a strong spiritual leader of the home as He commands
  2. Her children to be focused on the Lord. . . .

The sermon that day was about a husband who is a strong spiritual leader. Lord, I wrote to You and emphasized the word “strong.” But, Father, in all honesty, I would have taken and happily embraced any signs of spiritual leadership, no matter the strength.

Lord – please hear my prayer. It’s so hard training these kids alone, and my son, Lord, my son. . . . I’m fasting, Lord, yet no “moments of unity.” Well, it’s only eight days into the fast. God is in control and loves me more than I can ever understand.


Father, during Spring 2011, I continued on the ten-week fast. I was so sure you would bring unity between my spouse and I. Why didn’t he feel the burden about none of this stuff matters. We have becomes slaves to the stuff. . . . I then stepped out again, as I felt led to do, and used all of my savings to pay off every debt (except the mortgage). I was burdened to direct His resources to:

  1. Share the Word
  2. Help the poor
  3. Help the fatherless
  4. Help widows

Was I wrong as a wife to pay off the joint debts to free up money to advance the Kingdom? Money that God blessed me with over years of hard work. Scriptures say to owe nothing to anyone, except love. I am not disobeying Scriptures. Should I have waited for however long for my spouse to feel led, too? Maybe. We were both on the ten-week fast. He had already been saved and baptized by this point. Should I see him read the Bible? I don’t. Should I hear him pray? I don’t. Should he mention the name of “Jesus” or a verse at any point?


October 22, 2011. Missionaries visited church. I wrote to the Lord:

Always tugs on my heart – Africa and being a missionary. All I pray for is a heart that is obedient and knows His will for my life. Why did He create me?

  1. Worship Him
  2. Serve Him
  3. Find the lost

Credit: JC

October 25, 2011. A representative from a ministry in Central America came and spoke at church. I felt so burdened by God to go. So, I committed to go. Should I have waited for my spouse to be led, too? Go, tell, and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I was not going to disobey Scriptures.


December 16, 2011: I am prayerful 2012 is the year where we make a difference for His Kingdom – a big difference.


January 1, 2012. Father, I prayed a similar prayer – a bit longer this time. It was a hope I had for 2012. I prayed that my spouse would:

  1. Put Jesus first in all things and recognize this world and all in it is temporary.
  2. Study, work, and pray to become the leader God created him to be.
  3. Not be scared of all the commands on his life, but instead embrace them and realize the Creator of the universe will achieve the purpose for which He has made him – it is through His strength and power these commands will be fulfilled.

Maybe 2012 is the year I will see my husband pick up a Bible or pray . . . or mention the name of “Jesus.” But he wears the “Jesus” shirts I buy him, and he went on a mission trip so . . . what does this all mean. God is not a God of confusion.


July 6, 2013. I continued with the burden on my heart for my spouse . . . until He reveals the long-term plan to (spouse) – it is where I am.


January 26, 2014: Lord, I’m grateful my spouse just went on his third mission trip. Thank you, Jesus! I think his heart grew closer to the people there. I do pray he becomes a bold witness. Lord, I would love for my husband to pray with me just once or for me to see him holding a Bible or hear him talk about Jesus. . . .


February 17, 2014: Lord, I ask boldly, I pray: Full-time missionaries, the entire family we would all be soul-winners spearheaded by husband.


August 30, 2014: Lord, things are weird at home. (Spouse) is going through this phase where he is ignoring the entire family. Not sure why. I will keep praying.


December 26, 2014: Still want to purge this house. . . .

God is not a God of confusion.


May 15, 2015: (Spouse) still floating on a sea of confusion. Using distractions to avoid allowing God to deeply work on him so he is fully dependent on God. You have to go through the trial, or God will bring you back to the trial. Maybe now he will pray or read the Bible or attend church with the family. Maybe. . . . God, I still have the ongoing call to be on the mission field. I need to continue to pray for God’s will and the obedient heart to fulfill it. No matter what, I have the blood of Jesus.


November 8, 2015: (Spouse) continues to be on a sea of confusion. I am not sure what is driving his decision-making. I pray for him to be the leader of this home that God created him to be. I pray (once again) to be the wife he needs me to be to grow in his walk with Jesus.

After years of whispers about attending law school, my boss approved the company to pay for it. I did not wait for my spouse to also be led for me to attend law school at night. Was that wrong? Should I ignore the leadings of the Holy Spirit and, if so, for how long?

I prayed, fasted, begged: Maybe in 2016, he will pray with me or read with me or mention Jesus. But, he serves in the church and wears “Jesus” shirts, and he goes on mission trips, and he is now a deacon. So, everything looks okay from the outside looking in. It breaks my heart when he demands the kids do chores on the Sabbath, and they politely remind him it is the Sabbath. He repeats the command, they obey. What do I do as a submissive wife? Maybe he will read the Bible or pray or attend church with the family. Maybe he will see Sabbath as a day of rest, not for laundry and dishes. Maybe.


September 16, 2016: Lord, I still have my priorities messed up, and I do not spend enough time praying and in God’s Word. This has led to hearing Him less, resulting in a mechanical daily routine and confusion about His will. God is not a God of confusion. He will not send conflicting messages. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He will not have the husband and wife on two different pages. Ask yourself: Is your motive Biblical? The enemy takes truth and covers it with a veil of lies, so it still resembles the truth.


December 29, 2016: Lord, please help (spouse) and I to put Jesus first in all things. Help each family member to be a soul-winner.


March 16, 2017: Being broken and weak is an honor. It means He is working on you and His power will be shown through you. If I need to be broken to grow and show His power more – so be it. Despite the pain and hurt, He is with me. It is well with my soul.


December 24, 2017: Lord, my prayers for 2018 are that every family member seeks Jesus and puts Him first. We downsize and focus on what and who matters. We use our God-given resources and abilities to help.

Credit: JC

December 28, 2018: Lord, I have been asking for a husband who prays with me and reads the Bible with me.

My prayers for 2019 include: Every family member grows daily in their walk with Jesus and puts Him first in all things. We purge and focus on who and what matters. We use our God-given resources and abilities to advance His will.

Father, I also ask that you help me to aggressively seek, desire, embrace, and obey Your will, no matter the cost. My kids, my marriage, my job, my resources, my life – NONE are mine. You loaned me these things – break me, bend me to Your will; all I am and all I have you loaned me, I humbly offer as vessels and weapons of righteousness. Use this sinner to advance your Kingdom.


January 5, 2019: There is a lot before me in 2019. I do not yet feel like I am in His will. I have also been focusing on “Thy Will Be Done.” Whatever that means – bend me or break me to be aligned to Your will.


January 26, 2019: I want a husband who prays with me multiple times a day, leads me to get on my knees, reads the Word to me, challenges my walk and studying and prayer life and serving. I want a husband who takes me by the hand and leads me to Jesus on those stormy waters. “Always keep your eyes on Jesus, JC. Always.” I want a husband who challenges me in my thinking and my choices. Pushes me to run the race with enthusiasm and dedication while being filled with smiles and laughter the whole way. I want a husband that not only serves alongside of me, but pushes me to serve with him and serve in general. Through a prayer life, being led by God to then lead me, your wife. I want intimacy wrapped in prayer and deep spirituality of such an act between two married people ordained by God. An entanglement of souls through the Holy Spirit, forever connected in the bond of salvation.


How long do I beg, Jesus, for my spouse to obey Scriptures, to pray with me, or read the Bible, or attend the church with the family? He goes on mission trips, wears Christian shirts, is a deacon, and serves in a men’s ministry. What do I do when he forces the kids to do chores on Sunday and they say, “But it’s the Sabbath.” I know the Bible says for kids to obey their father – even when he directs them to disobey Scriptures? Jesus first in all things.

This is controversial, but I felt led to write this: I know God hates divorce, but how long do I allow the husband and father of this family to drive disobediently in the areas of money, the Sabbath, love, spiritual leadership, and so on? God gave me these kids. He loaned them to me. I’ve been fighting to train them up alone for over a decade, yet married to a deacon who refuses to pray with his wife or sit with us in church. What happened to seek first the Kingdom of God versus blowing God’s resources on rubbish?

Yes, I know God hates divorce, and I know God is not a God of confusion. What if I am not confused.

Credit: JC

For just such a time

By Snow

Recently, I re-read the book of Esther, as part of a YouVersion Bible App reading plan created by the Bible Project. If you’ve not checked out YouVersion or the Bible Project, I highly recommend them both.

I read the Bible multiple times a day, and YouVersion makes it so easy by being right there on my iPhone – in just about any common translation and many uncommon ones as well. I read during my early morning quiet time and also during lunch with my true love. No more lunches alone.

The phone also makes it easy to read a chapter or two of His Word when I have a spare few minutes throughout my day. It is a way to stay focused on what is truly important in life.

The Bible Project is a series of videos explaining different aspects of the Bible, most notably how all of it ties together. As with any non-Biblical source, it is always good to true back against the actual Bible on your own. While I sometimes disagree with the Bible Project on small details, it is nevertheless an excellent supplemental source of understanding.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve read Esther since I was saved last year. It is one of my favorite books of the Old Testament.

I love Esther’s story. An orphaned Jewish girl has an unlikely rise to become Queen of Persia. Later, she is debating with Mordecai, her older cousin who raised her after the death of her parents, as to whether she should risk death by pleading uninvited to the King to save the Jewish people. This results in my favorite passage from the book:

“Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: ‘Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?'”
Esther 4:13-14

In Genesis, Joseph makes a similar observation in reflecting on the touch of God in his life:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
Genesis 50:20

Have you ever wondered why you are where you are in your life? Why you work where you work? Why you live where you live? The reason God puts us in certain places or situations may not always be obvious at first, if ever.

What we have to remember at all times is that there is a plan. God cherishes you, as He cherishes all of us. God has a mission for you. Listen for it.

As for Queen Esther, she rose to the challenge:

“Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.'”
Esther 4:15-16

Note the fast, a critical decision by Queen Esther to put her fate in the hands of God and to recruit others to her cause. Jesus later spoke of the power of small groups:

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

The Queen goes on to use cunning and bravery to save the Jewish people from what could have been a massacre.

God may want you at a certain place to fulfill a purpose. That purpose may have nothing to do with your day-to-day work duties, either. Maybe your kind words and smile are enough to help a tortured soul. You may never know the impact your light has on someone. Know through Him that your smile, your words, can and do make a difference.

And when you face a decision either to light the way as a follower of Jesus or to slip away in fear of the darkness, be strong like Queen Esther. Light the way.

“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

Virginia Beach | Credit: JC

Listening to the gentle whispers

By Snow

“‘Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”
1 Kings 19:11-12

For most of this month, I have been in a partial fast in which I abstain from certain foods. This is my first fast since becoming a Christian, and I am seeking clarity on a certain aspect of my life. Only one person knows I am on this fast, and I mention it here only for purposes of illustration in this post.

I have been lamenting that I have heard no answers. “Maybe I’m not doing it right,” I have said, both of the fast and of my accompanying prayer.

I encountered the above passage for the first time in one of my Bible reading plans earlier this week, and it moved me to tears. Yet, I missed applying its message to me.

God is neither in the wind nor in the Earthquake. He is not even in the fire. Answers to our prayers are not likely to arrive in the form of a booming voice sent down from clouds surrounded by angels.

No, God speaks to us most often in soft whispers.

Of course He does. Our all-powerful God need not blast us with His greatness. Only the weak need raise their voices. No, God speaks to us in whispers, and it is up to us to listen.

Whispers are compelling, far more so than shouts. Whispers force you to listen if you want to hear their messages.

Encountering the above passage was, in fact, a whisper from God to me: “Your prayers are being answered. Listen.” As I said, though, I missed it, even though the passage instantly meant so much to me.

Sunlight shining through a tree
Credit: JC

As I continued to fret about my lack of response from Him, the passage came up again yesterday in a different reading plan. “This means you need to pay closer attention to it,” said my Bible Study Partner (BSP).

I enjoyed re-reading the passage, but I still didn’t understand what He was trying to say to me through it. I was hearing the words, even loving the words, but not applying them to my life.

My BSP and I talked later in the day about the fast. I went over my frustrations again about not hearing from Him.

In what at first seemed like a separate conversation, we also reviewed various insights we had made over the last several days. My BSP then asked me to repeat my fasting prayer to her. As I did, it dawned on me what she was trying to show me.

Those insights were my answers. He had been whispering to me all along.

I felt chills, and the tears flowed again. I had finally heard Him. He literally had to speak through my BSP to get my attention, but I had finally heard Him. No wind. No Earthquake. No fire. Just whispers. Beautiful whispers.

How might these whispers from God arrive? Here are some examples that have applied for me:

  • Recurrence of certain Bible verses
  • Momentary flashes of insight
  • Fleeting thoughts that might, at first, seem irrelevant
  • Being placed in unexpected situations or scenarios
  • Words spoken by those around you

Once I realized that He had indeed been whispering to me, His answers fell into place and appeared so obvious in retrospect. How had I missed them?

Because I was too distracted by the winds, Earthquakes, and fires of everyday life to hear His whispers.

Are you seeking answers from Jesus? Does it seem as if He has been ignoring you? Close your eyes and listen for His whispers. He is there with you, always.

Thank you for reading. May God bless you.