Faith

Vegas Strong

A photo my husband took at dinner last month. This city holds a special place in our hearts. Vegas we love you.

 

My heart breaks for those affected by tragic massacre in Las Vegas. We called Las Vegas home for four years, it is the birthplace of our first daughter, the place we started in ministry and marriage. It holds a special place in our hearts. My husband and I sat by the pool at the Mandalay Bay just a month ago, visiting our old stomping grounds and reminiscing about a city with special memories.

I couldn’t stop crying watching the footage. For a moment, I got a glimpse of how terrifying that night was for so many people. In the process of wiping tears, praying for Las Vegas, and looking for ways to show support, there are a few things that bring me comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us the comfort God gives is meant to be shared.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. It’s just my personal list of a few things that bring me comfort and hope in light of the tragedy. I hope they will bring you comfort as well.

  1. If you live your life in fear, he takes one more victim.” – These words shared from a counselor to a women at the concert are words not just for her but for many like me, who may be tempted to live fearfully.

2. This video by Pastor Craig Groeschel reminds me of the heart of our Father in heaven.

3. Acts 9:31. It has become my prayer for the churches around our nation. “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” 

During this time where many feel uncertain, I pray for God’s church to rise up in peace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. For those who are hopeless, searching, and in need of comfort, I pray the Church would be the arms of Jesus wrapped around the hurting. So many churches already are.

What brings you comfort during times like these?

Fake or Faith?

A couple weeks ago, I ran into a young woman struggling in her marriage. She said, “I just gotta fake it until I make it, right?”

I hear that phrase periodically and it doesn’t sit well with me, I’m a girl who treasures authenticity.  I hugged the young woman and said, “How about FAITH it until you make it? God doesn’t want us to be fake.”

“That’s good! I like that.” She said before we parted ways.

One little word can make a big difference in how we see God through our circumstances and approach him. Fake is different than Faith. Faith is not being fake, there is nothing fake about making the choice to focus on God’s greatness.

I used to have a motto when it came to prayer. I would say, “The only ingredient to a successful prayer is sincerity.” My passion for sincerity was in an effort to avoid being like the scribes who prayed for pretense (Luke 20:46-47). They were being fake, they were praying for show. I also noticed others memorizing prayers (like the Lord’s prayer) and reciting them like the pledge of allegiance. In an effort to pull myself and others towards an authentic relationship with God, I emphasized sincerity. I still believe 100% in sincere prayers, but I’ve also noticed the power of adding one extra ingredient: Faith.

Jesus said in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I recently made my first Facebook live video on our tendency to “worry-pray.” Instead of praying in faith, we can have the tendency to magnify the problem rather than the problem-solver. I wrote out a faith-declaration about who God is (all based on scripture), as a way of setting my mind on the greatness of God first before I bring him my concerns. When I set my mind on His greatness, my (once) mountain of a problem starts to look more like a speck. It’s not fake, it’s focus.

If our prayers magnify our problem to be bigger than God and His power – our faith is in the wrong thing.

Yesterday, my daughter came to me overwhelmed with homework. As we sat on her bed, I pulled out my faith-declaration and read it to her. Tears fell down her face as she was reminded of our God who is limitless in strength and power when she feels weak. She asked if she could hang a copy up in her bedroom. The privilege of paving the way in motherhood never gets old. I want her to know what real faith is. Fake smiles through gritted-teeth and says, “I can do this.” But faith is different. Faith says, “I can’t do this, but my great God certainly can!”

3 Benefits to Fasting

It’s January, and my husband and I are in the middle of our beginning-of-the-year fast to coincide with Canvas Church’s 21 days of Prayer and Fasting (click the link for ideas on what to fast).

We don’t particularly enjoy fasting, but because we have seen such tremendous power and breakthrough in fasting, we’ve come to look forward to it each year. What will God do this year? What breakthrough will we experience? What will the Holy Spirit speak to us during this time? What will God do in our church? The beginning of the year brings anticipation.

Before I explain the benefits of fasting, let me pause to explain what fasting is. Cleansing and dieting are trendy, but to be clear – fasting is not a diet or a cleanse, it is a spiritual act. It’s when we deny our flesh, its indulgences and appetites to take more time to focus on God through prayer. We sacrifice something such as food, saying no to our bodies and yes to our spirits.

Many people ask me what they should fast. My answer is: whatever is going to be a sacrifice to you. We choose to fast something that reminds us to pray. When we get a hunger pang, an urge to browse Facebook, or watch television – that’s the time we pray. We don’t fast something we shouldn’t be doing in the first place. For example, we don’t fast things such as gossip – we shouldn’t be gossiping anyway. If we want to eliminate a bad habit from our lives, it’s more beneficial to make that one of the focuses of what we pray about during the fast.

Here are 3 reasons why we look forward to fasting each year:

  1. We fast for breakthrough. In Matthew 17, the disciples asked Jesus why they weren’t able to drive out a certain demon. Jesus replied (vs 21, HCSB) “This kind can come out by nothing by prayer and fasting.” The most incredible breakthroughs we’ve experienced happened during a fast. We’ve had marital breakthroughs, relational breakthroughs, parenting breakthroughs, church breakthroughs, personal breakthroughs, the list could go on. I encourage struggling believers to try fasting if they feel stuck in one area or another. We also don’t just fast for our own breakthrough, but for breakthrough for others. Isaiah 58:3-7 says “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to se the oppressed free and break every yoke?” Fasting helps us take our eyes off ourselves and on to God, and when our eyes are on God our eyes are also on those in need. We might need personal breakthrough, but we also have in mind breakthrough for those around us; our local church, co-workers, family members or needs in this world. When we feel helpless in meeting someone’s need, I’ve heard it said, “prayer is not the least we can do, it’s the most we can do.”
  2. We fast to hear from God. We can hear from God any time, we do not need to be fasting to hear from God. But for me personally, I seem to hear from God more clearly during a fast, which is why I look forward to fasting in the beginning of the year to seek direction and clarity. I believe the reason is twofold. One, my mind isn’t clouded with social media. Two, I’m making more room for God to speak by spending more time in prayer and the word. God is always speaking, we just need to be willing to make the space to hear.
  3. We fast to detox our minds and bodies. No, fasting is not a diet or a new years resolution to consume less media. However, after the holidays, I’m ready for a fast. I look forward to my body being reset and my mind taking a break from the noise of the world and being renewed in the word. Studies have shown there are health benefits to fasting, God designed it to be good for us. And as addictive as media can be, it’s good for our minds to detox from the cravings of mindless entertainment.

Fasting is not resting in our own ability, it’s relying on God’s. We aren’t more holy or spiritual by how lengthy or sacrificial our fast is. Fasting shouldn’t be a burden we brag about carrying. In fact, I hesitated to mention our fasting practices in a blog because I didn’t want to make it about our efforts. However, I couldn’t shake the passion in me to help equip and encourage believers who feel stuck to experience breakthrough in fasting.

There is one more week left in January, want to join me? If so, comment below what you will be believing for and I will partner with you in prayer.