Daniel Fast Day 18- A Familiar Foe

Menu- oatmeal w/raisins, apples & almonds, seasoned chard, roasted veggies

I sit quietly, staring at the ripped open envelopes. They were dated but somehow still managed to shake my peace of mind. I feel stiff. I feel weighted. I feel that old, familiar adversary sneaking up to attack.
Anxiety.

I know how to fight it now. It is not as debilitating anymore. In the past, I would allow it in my psyche and spirit. Today, I fight back. Today, I immediately got on my knees and reminded God of his Word. I reminded myself of his promises.

“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 NKJV

In this moment, I still feel a little weighted but somehow at peace. I refuse to worry about things that are out of my control. I must do only what I can and leave the rest in God’s hands. I trust him to do what he said. I trust his love for me will ensure that every situation is handled.

This is not easy. It’s a battle. But, it’s a battle that I’m guaranteed to win.

“For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you…to give you victory.”

Deuteronomy 20:4 NIV

Daniel Fast Day 17- Is Thank You enough?

Menu- quinoa salad, almond butter balls, veggie pasta and tomatoes

I woke up with a a praise on my lips these last couple of days. The old devotion song rang in my ears. “Bless that wonderful name of Jesus.” I repeated it yesterday as I got ready for work. I said it to myself, over and over, as I did my job duties. This morning, I repeated it as I prepped a meal for later. “Oh, bless that wonderful name of Jesus.”

I try to start each day off in gratitude. I remember that getting up is a gift. Many were not so lucky. I thank God for the basic checklist:

  • activity of my limbs
  • senses- sight, hearing, etc.
  • sound mind
  • shelter
  • clothes
  • food

I acknowledge all of those things with an attitude of gratitude…but not necessarily with an attitude of praise.
There is a difference.

It is the idea of appreciation versus admiration. I can appreciate the good deed of a stranger but not admire them. The terms imply two different types of relationships. If one does not know God but recognizes his work in their life, then a simple, “thank you,” will suffice.

But when you know him…

These past couple days have made me look at my morning routine. I did not realize that my daily ‘thank you’s’ were basic and not representative of my relationship with the one I love. He is so much more than my provider. He is my loving Father. He does not give me what I need because I need it. He gives it to me because he loves me.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands…”

Isaiah 49:15-16

I have not done a good job of maintaining the praise that I woke up with, throughout the day. I have allowed the tasks and honestly, a lot of useless information to cloud my vision of him. But he sees me clearly, everyday, on the palm of his hands. He specifically placed me there. I forget about him throughout the day, but he never forgets.

I may not wake up everyday with this beautiful attitude of praise I’ve had the last two days. I may be tempted to slip back into mere gratitude. At those moments, I must stop. I have to remind myself that this is the one I love. This is the one who opens his hands and sees my face. He deserves my admiration. He deserves my love.

(For more on God’s Love, this devotion is a great explanation of his love for us. https://www.first15.org/07/30/god-is-a-loving-father/ )

Daniel Fast Day 16- It’s Working

Menu- grapefruit, spinach apple salad, roasted root vegetables (so good)

Sunday

My pastor mentioned that we face “11 unknown months.” That sounded so scary to me. Then he responded with a verse.

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

A few days ago (Day 13), I talked about my desire to hold on to past accomplishments and success because of a fear that I would not accomplish anything else again. In this moment I’m realizing how deep that fear is.

Monday

Today, I handled a work situation pretty well. My goal was to be sincerely respectful but honest. The result was positive.

neighborhood sign
A neighborhood sign I saw during a walk on Saturday

Later, I was presented with another confrontation. I saw an email that angered me due to the sender’s attempt to take advantage of me and other residents. I made a decision to handle it tomorrow however a phone call prevented me from doing so. It was extremely difficult not to resort to the bad attitude I had become accustomed to in my youth. I wanted to be sarcastic. I wanted my disapproval to be heard through my tone. But dern it, God wouldn’t let me. My spirit wouldn’t let me. This fast is working.

The whole point of a fast is to deny your flesh, so your spirit becomes stronger. I am trying to fill up on the Word of God for these last 5-7 days. I want to learn more about faith and God’s glory. But, God also wants me to see myself clearly. He wants me to adjust some things about my character to better reflect the glory I’m trying to experience.

Daniel Fast Day 14- Kirk Franklin’s Love Theory

Menu- roasted breakfast potatoes, blackberry spinach salad, pasta & tomatoes

I always tell people my relationship is a little different from the average Christian. It goes beyond church, reading the Bible and even this Daniel Fast. All of those things are fueled by the fact that I am completely, totally, madly in love Jesus. Yes, I got saved a few days before I turned 11 years old. But, I didn’t really start getting to know him until I was 17. Two years later, I was head over heels in love. It has been a wild and amazing ride.

I grew up on Gospel music but I cannot say it always provided a soundtrack to my relationship with God. There have been a few songs that came close to my feelings for him. BeBe & CeCe Winans’ Addictive Love is a beautiful example. However, I found that most Gospel artists, as most Christians, seemed to be focused on what they wanted God to do for them. The lyrics spoke of this powerful, way-making God. He is. But for me, he’s that and so much more.

Then, Kirk Franklin came out with Fight of My Life. I purchased the CD and was in tears for almost half of the album. The lyrics were brutally honest about what a relationship with God was like. It spoke about the hurt that one can experience when the love of your life lets you down. It also told how that same love was life-changing and unshakable. I was officially a Kirk Franklin fan.

My purchased MP3

Yesterday, Kirk Franklin came out with a new single. I was hesitant at first. I am very particular about what music I am willing to spend my money on. I only buy what I think I will listen to, for life. Though I’m a fan, a few of Kirk Franklin’s projects have not been appealing to me. I decided to check out his video release. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised!
There is finally a song that captures the love I have for the God I serve.

Love Theory is a beat-infused love song filled with adoring lyrics and production that is (dare I say) sexy. I found myself snapping my fingers, bopping my head and closing my eyes as I danced with my Savior.

Yes, I dance with him.

As I stated, my relationship with God is very different. He is not just a being in the sky. He is very real. He is tangible. I wish I could articulate what I’ve discovered about his nature. It is what makes me love him so much. As I learn more, I love him more. I identify with the bridge lyrics from Love Theory.

Loving you will be the death of me. That’s how it’s supposed to be. More of you, less of me.

Kirk Franklin

The last line has actually been the theme verse of this Daniel Fast. It is what I desire from God for me and my career. It is my prayer.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30

Daniel Fast Day 13- Letting Go with Legos

Menu- orange, oatmeal w/raisins, apples & almonds, quinoa salad, pear

I was playing Legos with a 3-year old this evening. I started building this abstract little throne. I chose the colors and size of blocks carefully. I stacked them with attention to dimension. When I finished, I was very proud of my little project.

Then I proceeded to build another project. This time I chose one from the pictures on the Lego bag. They were easy forms and used minimal blocks. But as I started building, I realized that some of the blocks I needed were part of the throne I had made. I searched through the block pile on the floor but had no luck. If I wanted to build this new project, I would have to take my last project apart to get the pieces I needed.

This is it. Really??!!

Here’s the crazy thing. I was not willing to do that.

For some reason, I could not bring myself to break down an insignificant, little Lego chair. I felt like I had worked so hard on it. I wanted to look at it for a little bit longer. I wanted to enjoy my own creation as long as I could. There was this very minuscule part of me that wanted this stupid throne to last forever.

Then my spirit began to have a moment. I realized this was how I approached many aspects of my life. I want to hold on to the last accomplishment as long as possible. I have a very difficult time letting go of it. Now, I realize I want to hold on because I’m afraid I will not accomplish anything else. There is a very minuscule part of me that is afraid that God will not do what he said he would do regarding my career.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19 KJV

God is like the parent with their children playing Legos. He is trying to get us to build something new but we keep whining about what we have in the moment.
“No, that’s mine!”
“I want it.”
“I’m using that.”
He is lovingly trying to get us to understand that he has something better. If we would just let go and trust him. Though we hear him, we cannot let go of the seen for the unseen. I hear Jesus repeating the question he asked the disciples when he calmed the storm.

“Where is your faith?”

Luke 8:25 KJV

It took a long time for me to begin trusting God the way he longs for us to trust him. I have come a long way as I have learned more about his character. Our relationship has gone through some changes but his love has remained the same. I can honestly say that I love him more than I ever thought I could. It is that love for him and his unfathomable love for me that enables me to trust him more than ever.

Daniel Fast Day 12- I hurt him.

Menu- grapefruit, quinoa salad, minestrone soup and too many cashews

Self-control is a beast. It is a discipline that must be learned. It is difficult at best and seemingly impossible at worst. Most importantly, it is a fruit of the spirit that identifies a Christian. Sometimes I have it. Sometimes I don’t.

I’m a little more than halfway through the fast and my struggle is very clear. Time management. Today, I had hours to spend with God and I honestly did not know what to do. I have become so accustomed to playing around on YouTube to past the time. Now that YouTube is off the table, I realize just how much time it was taking. I find that I am trying to fill the time with other online activity. Not good. Not God.

Part of the problem is the false sense of connection the internet provides. You post something and people respond through likes and comments. You communicate with friends and family through emails. Masterfully photographed pictures of beautiful places make you feel like you’re there. But it’s all fake.

Then, there’s the real God trying to get your attention. We ignore him because he’s not physically tangible. This leads to his voice and his touch being easily dismissed.

I don’t want to do that to him. It hurts me when I am dismissed. Imagine how he feels.

“In all their distress he too was distressed…in his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit…”

Isaiah 63:9-10 NIV

I screwed up today. I wasted time that should have been spent with him. Our time is too valuable to waste on useless information and fake connections. AND to make matters worse, I just talked about spending more time with him a few days ago! (Day 7)

Self-control will now be a prayer focus for the remainder of the fast. Forget all the stuff I want for my career. I’ll lose it anyway, if I’m not disciplined.
So first things first.

“…clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Romans 13:14

Daniel Fast Day 11- Wake Up Call

Menu- Oatmeal w/apples, almonds & raisins, grapefruit, cashews, quinoa salad, minestrone soup.

It was a long day but I learned something quite valuable about myself. I may be able to get up early but having to get up at 3:00 AM is my ‘Have a Snickers’ breaking point. I was quite irritable with my micromanaging boss this morning. I really wanted to slap her every time she spoke to me. I continuously tried to cover with the sarcastic smile that did not disguise my feelings in the moment. At one point, I even tried to step away and ask God to give me strength. Instead, he told me to apologize to her before I leave.

WHAT??!!!

This is what fasting will get you. As I said yesterday (Day 10), I am much more sensitive to God’s will for my life and who he wants me to be, due to denying the flesh its desires. As I tried to get out of this apology, I kept hearing a song’s refrain from more than 25 years ago. “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love!”

“By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:35 NIV

This apology wasn’t about me. This was about Christ who I represent. It was particularly important with this person who knows I am a Jesus Lover. I am also aware that I could be the only Jesus she sees. I was not accountable for her attitude. I was accountable for mine.

“Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32 AMP

There has to be a difference between Christ followers and unbelievers. Our reactions to poor behavior must be love. It cannot be explained. It most likely will not be deserved. But that’s grace. It’s the same grace we receive everyday from God. So, how dare I attempt to debate God on why I shouldn’t apologize for my bad attitude. My apology isn’t just to her, it’s to him. It’s to the breath of God that is within her and all of us.

So, before I walked out the door, I stopped. I looked her in the eyes and said, “Please forgive my irritable attitude this morning.” I apologized sincerely. She smiled with a look of surprise and appreciation and said, “No problem. I understand. I’m the same way.” I smiled back and walked to my car, feeling God’s loving presence and knowing he was pleased.

Daniel Fast Day 10- Refreshing

I made this for the first time and was very happy with the results! Delicious!

Menu- grapefruit w/apricot breakfast bar, cashews & raisins, quinoa salad, minestrone soup.  

Yes, I decided to try a new dish and I’m so glad I did. Usually, I try something during the Daniel Fast that makes it into my normal eating habits. This salad may be the one this year.

On another note, I woke up at 3:07am to go to the job I talked about in Day 9. It was pretty hard to feel God’s glory at that hour when you have to face someone who is not exactly the most pleasant co-worker. But God has truly been dealing with me about seeing people the way he sees them. I try to put that into practice everywhere I go. Your perspective on someone changes when you begin to see them as God’s creation. You are reminded that God breathed his breath into their body to make them a living soul, just like you. It’s hard to be unkind to someone when you are conscious of God’s spirit in them.

Speaking of being conscious…

A couple years ago, I realized that when I’m fasting, I am much more conscious of things in my life that do not please God. He highlights things in my daily activities and interactions that don’t align with what he wants for my life. It could be misused time or a conversation I should have cut off. It could be something I watched or read that was unnecessary. In these moments, my spirit becomes very unsettled. I am forced to look at my actions, take note and check myself. Basically, I am presented with my shortcoming and a choice. Continue in my sin or repent. And since sin separates us from God and my deepest desire is to be close to him, I choose the latter.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

Acts 3:19 NIV

I saw this verse and was a little blown away. The King James Version actually says those times of refreshing will “come from the presence of the Lord.” He wants us to be refreshed in his presence. Just being with him is powerful enough to wash away all the things that have bombarded us each day. His presence is loving enough to get past what we feel in the moment and lead us to a place of peace.

Yeah. I’ll take that.

Daniel Fast Day 9- New Goals

Menu- apricot breakfast bar, brown rice cake with almond butter & raisins, roasted plantain chips, cashews, minestrone soup

Sunday Re-cap

Yesterday, I woke up with a new resolve! The rest of this fast will be about me and him. I went back to some pre-fast notes I had taken and saw that I had totally strayed away from what I said this fast would be about.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30 KJV

If I wanted to experience God’s presence daily, I would have to decrease, which is the whole purpose of fasting!

I got ready for church and to teach Sunday morning. I kept hearing the words ‘God’s glory’ in my head. I heard songs about it. I saw scriptures about it. That’s it! I wanted to be completely saturated in his glory. I would seek out ways to encounter his presence.

Monday

Today was spent at home due to wash day. (Naturalistas know this day all too well. I’m hoping for a good twist out.) I watched a lot of Word and worship. I noticed the running theme of what I watched seemed to be centered around prayer.
“OK God,” I said. “Let’s talk about it.”
So he sent me to a not so recent installment of In Touch Ministries by Charles Stanley. Wouldn’t you know it? The title was “The Prayer Life of Jesus.” I watched and took notes. Then turned it off to talk with God about today.

He explained that one of the jobs he allowed me to have was to actually increase my prayer life. If I can get up at 4, 5 and sometimes 3:00 in the morning to go to a job I hate, why couldn’t I get up to spend time with the God I love? If I’m trying to be like Jesus, why wouldn’t I emulate the most important aspect of his daily life on Earth?

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed..”

Mark 1:35 NIV

This fast is going to change and increase my prayer life. I will make adjustments to my sleep habits to ensure that I start my day with the one who gave it to me. Like I said in Day 7, I have to make the time because you make time for the one you love!

Daniel Fast Day 7- Get With It!!!

Menu- tea (fresh mint, lemon juice & honey), brown rice cakes with raisins and almond butter, leftover lentil stew

So, I’m one week in and I’ve only felt a real encounter on one day, maybe two. When this happens, it’s never because of God. It’s me. The only time I felt his tangible presence was on Day 5 and he had to practically knock me over the head so I would spend just a few moments with him. Yesterday was pretty cool. It is humbling to be able to introduce someone to Jesus through my relationship with him. Other than that, it’s been pretty…blah.

Part of the problem is I’ve been so caught up in busy work. This blog is included. While I’m being obedient in posting each day, which is not easy, this is not spending time with him. It’s work for him. Anyone in a marriage can relate to this, particularly if you have kids or own a business together. You spend so much time in the routine of life: getting the kids to school, budgeting, taking care of the house hold, business responsibilities. You forget that this is not quality time. You’re just working together like co-workers. It is vital to spend time only focused on each other. It’s not about having the time. You make the time.

I have not done that. The morning devotions that I do for the fast are nice but basically routine. I know because I honestly don’t remember much of what I’ve read. Today was about Nehemiah and staying the course on the fast. After about 30 minutes, I got caught up in the tasks of the day.

  • Audition
  • Finish Children’s Church Lesson Plan
  • Email teacher and ministry leader
  • Write blog post
  • Conference Call
  • Blah, Blah, Blah

Fasts are supposed to draw you closer to God. That’s the point. The time you spend eating or craving gets flipped to time spent in worship or study.  Everyday is not going to be a honeymoon but I should at least have one moment of his presence.

So what do I do?

  1. First of all, I need to get motivated because quite frankly, I’m not feeling it right now.
  2. I need to get focused on HIM and not the food! (I’ll post my food log only to provide ideas for you)
  3. I have to take a more active approach in spending time with him. I can carve out 5 minutes of uninterrupted time with him in worship or in his Word. It’s 5 minutes!

I just need to get with it!