A Call to Prayer and Fasting

This is an entry that I have written for family – both my immediate family, particularly my daughters who have so many friends who might be affected by the actions of the Prince William County School Board – and my Occoquan Bible Church family.

I invite you to join with your brothers and sisters in prayer and fasting for the people, events and decisions that will be part of tomorrow (September 21, 2016) night’s Prince William County School Board meeting at 7:00 p.m. (For more information, see Pastor David Schrock’s helpful post and listing of resources.)

Fasting is not something we think of in the new covenant as a spiritual discipline. It strikes us as a relic of the past that involved sackcloth and ashes in the face of an impending invasion by an overwhelmingly superior military force. Perhaps our thinking though misses the significance and purpose of fasting. So what is fasting, for what purpose would we ask you to fast for tomorrow night’s activities, and how do you go about fasting

What is fasting?

Christian fasting is simply a believer’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. (See, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney for a thorough treatment of this spiritual discipline.)

It is an expected activity for disciples of Jesus Christ. He expected that his disciples would fast. His instructions were “when you fast” in Matthew 6:16-18.

Fasting involves both negative and positive commands with a promise. In this same passage that Matthew records, Jesus commands the disciples to not look outwardly like they are fasting, but to go about in such a way that only God the Father knows. And, he promises that God will reward us.

What is the purpose of fasting?

In Scripture we see at least 10 purposes for fasting that Dr. Whitney highlights in his book. All 10 are applicable to the current situation we face in Prince William County. For the sake of brevity, I highlight the following:

  1. To strengthen prayer. Fasting does not change God’s hearing, but it does focus my fervency in prayer. It sharpens the focus of my petition and requests made to God. We see this in the examples of Abraham, David, Nehemiah, and Daniel to name just a few.
  1. To seek God’s guidance.
  1. To seek deliverance or protection.
  1. To humble oneself before God. Fasting is not humility before God, but an expression of humility before God. In other words, we are not humble simply because we fast, but it can be an expression of the heart’s desire to be humble before God.
  1. Fasting can be a reminder to us to love God more than we love temporal things. Foregoing food reminds us that God and not comfort and ease, even of something necessary like food, should be our greatest desire.

How do I fast?

  1. Pick a period of time between now and tomorrow evening to fast by abstaining from food. (This should be done only to the extent medically advisable and prudent. Nursing mothers, diabetics, athletes in training, those with physically demanding jobs or others may need to still eat but that does not preclude their participation.) In the Bible we see fasts from part of a day, to a night, to three days to 40 days.
  1. Know your purpose for fasting. I am fasting because _______________.
  1. Spend the time you would spend preparing a meal, eating, and cleaning up to pray.
  1. When you feel hunger, let that remind you to pray.

What should I be praying about?

  1. Pray that God would be glorified and the Gospel advanced.
  2. Pray for wisdom for and the testimony of those who will be addressing the school board. (There is still time to sign up to address the school board.)
  3. Pray that God will use what is said, what is written, and the prayers of his saints to soften the hearts of school board members.

Remember, fasting is not for the purpose of gaining God’s favor. We have that in Jesus Christ through faith. But it is earnestly asking our Father in heaven for his favor because from him we receive every good and perfect gift.

To God be the glory.

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“With Liberty and Justice for All”

Today my firstborn child turns 26. She is the age I was when I delivered her. You can’t wish her a happy birthday on Facebook because she isn’t there. She gave up Facebook as an undergrad when she realized there are far too many ways for things on Facebook to come back to haunt than she could ever hope to control. From the time she learned to walk and talk, she has been taking charge of things and enforcing rules. (See photo of said child policing the McDonald’s playground.)photo 2

Sometime around middle school she started thinking about a career in federal law enforcement. By high school she wanted to be a sniper for the Secret Service hanging out on the rooftop of the White House. (Thank goodness she didn’t pursue that path. That group is a mess right now.) She worked as a lifeguard at our neighborhood pool. We live in a fairly international neighborhood outside Washington DC so she learned to correct people in at least five different languages. I’m sure she broke some rules in her youth, but I can assure you that her own fear of those infractions showing up on a security clearance was a far more effective deterrent than any punishment her parents could have imposed.
She is the most fiercely loyal person I have ever met, especially to her family. I actually felt a little sorry for the silly friends who ever tried to hurt one of her sisters or come between them. For those who are blessed to be her family or friend, you will never know someone who has your back like this girl.

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She looks at things 100% in black and white. There are no shades of gray. That may not be a very popular quality in our society today, but I think living by firm principles is a quality to be admired. She earned a Master’s degree in History and after a year and half of searching and waiting, she is now working in her chosen field. She works for the Department of Justice. Entirely appropriate I think.

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The Girl Who Hated School and Graduated From College Anyway

In April of 1992, God blessed us with a third daughter.  She seemed like a chubby little thing at 8 lbs 6 oz, since her two sisters had barely broken the 7 lb birth weight.  She was such a content, laid back baby–not at all demanding.  I remember more than once her doctor would tell her, “You are too sweet.  You need to be more demanding or you might get lost in the shuffle.”

She was such a perfect baby–slept for long stretches–didn’t make me feel like I was feeding her all the time–until we discovered at four months of age that she only weighed 9 lbs 8 oz.  I don’t think you need to know a lot about babies to understand how insufficient that weight gain was for a baby.  I won’t bore you with all the details about the endless tests and examinations that ensued, but I want you to understand what we faced at that time.  Our baby who had been so healthy and robust at birth was slowly starving.  At best, we had to consider that her brain was not going to develop properly because of the insufficient nutrition.  At worst, her body would eventually not have enough nutrition to sustain her life. After the endless tests and examinations showed no medical conditions to be treated, she was diagnosed as a “failure to thrive” baby.  I don’t know what image you have of who has “failure to thrive” babies, but mine only happened to moms in third world countries who barely had enough to survive themselves.

Again, I won’t bore you with all the details, but after some major changes to the feeding strategies, the little girl began to grow and her body began to demand the nutrition that it needed for proper development and in time, she “caught up” to where she should be in her development.  (Truth: she was such a chubby pre-schooler we wondered if she would struggle with her weight in the future.)  Over the years, we were so grateful for her physical and intellectual achievements because we understood what a gift from God they were.

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The laid back, undemanding little girl didn’t change.  She has grown up into a laid back, undemanding, wants everyone to be happy, young woman.

Her educational journey was not without bumps or tears.  It’s a good thing she was a mama’s girl, (the only one of the six), because 12 years of home education never changed the fact that she hated school.  For a time she was convinced that she “wasn’t smart enough for college.”

 

Yesterday, that little girl marched down the Lawn at the University of Virginia to receive  her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. You’ll have to forgive this mama for just a moment, but I want you to understand the significance of that moment and how I see that God has specifically worked in that child’s life.  Not only did he preserve her life and her intellectual development, He did it in such a tremendous fashion that she earned a degree from one of the top academic institutions in the United States.

Psalm 139:13,14-“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” 

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“Don’t worry, I’m not hurt but I need to talk to you asap”

While I’m recuperating from surgery, I have been encouraged to get back to our family blog. I found this post that I had never published. (I have no idea why not?) Since it’s Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share one of  the many moments when one of my children scared the bejeebers out of me.

 

Seriously, is there any mother in this world who would receive a message like that and not be in a total panic? I got that in a Facebook wall post a few days ago from my missionary daughter.  The last I had heard from her, she and her team had been driving across Europe from Italy to Portugal. In her departure email she had asked for us to pray for the trip and that the GPS would work effectively. I knew she was somewhere en route, but had no idea about what country she might even be in. (Is it a odd for a mother to have to check a world map to get an idea about where her child might be at a given moment?) And not only did I get that message from her, but when all of her sisters saw the post, they started texting and calling me to tell me that Meg was trying to reach me and to find out what was going on.

Fortunately, her message also indicated she could get FaceTime and since I was sitting at my computer at that moment, I logged on as quickly as my shaking hands would permit. It was probably only about ten minutes between the time when I got the text message and was looking at her grinning face on my screen, but my heart was still pounding.

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Also open on my computer screen was an email that she had forwarded to me inviting her to an interview for medical school.  The reason it was so urgent that we talk is because she was using the internet at a gas station in the middle of the night somewhere in Italy and the interview had to be set up by calling the school.  Obviously that wasn’t something she could do. and the situation was even more complicated because she could only make one of the possible interview dates because she would still be out of the country until two days prior.  No pressure at all!  Thankfully, I was able to call the school, explain her circumstances and set up the interview for her.

After the dust settled and she had not one, but two interviews scheduled within 72 hours of arriving back in the USA, then we realized that she had nothing to wear to the interview and no time to shop when she arrived.  So I took a trip to the Ann Taylor outlet, made some purchases and posted pics on FB for her review.  Here they are:

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As of this writing on May 10, 2014, Meg will finish her first year of medical school in 3 weeks.  I guess it was worth the drama.

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Mother’s Day cards you won’t find at Hallmark

It’s the day before Mother’s Day 2014 and I’m sitting in the recliner.  Sounds great, right? I’d like to tell you it’s voluntary, but that’s not true.  Yesterday I had surgery to reconstruct a bad joint in my foot so I’m grounded for a period of time.  My primary motivation for adhering to my doctor’s strict orders is that I’m hoping to be permitted to attend my third born daughter’s college graduation next Sunday from the University of Virginia.

Last night, after being in the chair for at least 10 hours, I felt like I had run out of things to do.  Emily suggested I could start blogging again. This morning I was thinking about the fact that tomorrow is Mother’s Day and even though I would rather be doing something else besides sitting in this chair, God reminded me some “sisters” of mine whose Mother’s Day isn’t exactly the stuff Hallmark writes about.

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Today I’m thinking about a sister who will celebrate Mother’s Day for the first time since she buried her 16 year old son last Fall. And about a sister who delivered her son prematurely and never got to bring him home from the hospital.  And a sister whose husband died only 22 days after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, leaving her alone with their four young children.  And a sister whose unborn baby died two weeks ago–the third baby in two years whom she will never cradle in her arms. And my sister whose teenager hasn’t come home for over a week.  And my sister whose children have left the faith she still embraces. And my sister whose own body is unable to serve her family the way her heart desires.

When I was shopping for Mother’s Day cards earlier in the week, I certainly didn’t try to find cards to speak to these occasions.  But I”m pretty sure most of us have “sisters” who need more than a card. I think it’s okay to wish them “Happy Mother’s Day” but it’s also okay to say, “I”m sorry for your loss…I’m sorry that you are hurting in this way…I wish I could do more to carry your burden.” But please don’t say “at least”…(fill in the blank).  They don’t need to hear how much worse the situation could be or how much they still have for which to be thankful. They know those things.

Tomorrow I will celebrate the incredible blessing that my six living children are to me and I look forward to meeting the other two someday.  And I will be thankful that God has given me a few quiet moments in this chair.

 

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Taking off for Madrid

Sending another girl across the ocean to minister God’s grace. Praying for you and your team, Abby Joy!

OBC Missions

Our team is heading to Dulles to head for Madrid! They will be connecting in London. Image

Please pray for; 

-Calm hearts as they are flying and connecting 
-Open and willing to share the Good News to anyone and everyone they meet! 
-That plenty of children and adults will be signing up for the Sports/English camps for next week
-Patience with the language barrier

 

God speed with you all! 

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It’s About to Get Real

Those of you who know me also know that I could have written this blog. In fact, I am currently processing about 99% of the same emotions.
This girl is coming here, to her childhood home, and she’s going to need a place to sleep and a place to put those clean clothes that she’s laundering today. And so far, the room in this house that is the best option to give her some personal space is currently a freaking mess. For the past 2-3 months we’ve mostly been going in there, frantically searching through what’s stored, and then running out. Or we’ve been opening the door, chucking things in, and closing the door quickly so the stuff doesn’t spill out into the hallway.
The last time I cleaned and organized that room, it took me 2 complete days. I’ve estimated that I have about 6 hours in available time to get the job done. (And that doesn’t include the time to figure out how to re-assemble the nifty storage cube that’s been awaiting reconstruction since Meg graduated from college 2 years ago.) And I won’t even start to tell you about how bitter Rod still is that he gave up his home office for this…
So if you need me today. I guess you know where to find me.

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