Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009

Well, now that I've recapped last year, I can write about this year. =)
I've been thinking and praying about what God has for me in 2009. I don't do new year's resolutions, was never really into that. And I've temporarily given up setting goals. (It's too frustrating and discouraginig to set goals I'm never able to reach due to physical limitations and constantly changing circumstances.) Instead I've switched to thinking about my desires for the year and my prayers for the year.

#1. My desires - these are things I'd like to do or see happen. One of my desires for this year is to raise greater awareness among Christians of what it's like for people with health problems like mine. There's a huge number of "environmentally ill" people who are unable to go to church even if they wanted to. I hope to be able to share more informationi and challenge my fellow believers to find a way to reach out to these "unreached" people. I'll write more about this in coming days.

#2. My prayers - these are things I'm asking God to do in and through me. One of my prayers for this year is for greater fruitfulness. At the beginning of January I asked God if this could be the year I would finally have the privilege of leading someone to faith in Him. I've planted a lot of seeds over the years, but never actually saw anyone come to saving faith in Jesus. And guess what? Less than 2 weeks later God already answered that prayer! It reminded me of the verse in James 4:2 that we don't have because we don't ask! Maybe God was waiting all these years for me to finally ask! There's probably more to it than just that, but it certainly got me thinking about what I'm asking for.

As I've been praying for greater fruitfulness, God has been showing me some hindrances to fruitfulness in my life. Things that I used to think were "harmless" now seem wasteful and ineffective. Beyond that, God has opened my eyes to see how much of what I do (or don't do) each day is because it makes me feel good (or makes me not feel good). I didn't realize how self-indulgent I had become. It's very acceptable in Christian circles today to say we need "down time" or "do something for yourself," etc. But the more I've thought & prayed about these ideas, the more they seem to contradict Scripture. "Whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus," (Colossians 3:17). "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). If I am doing something because I want to feel good that's the opposite of doing it for the glory of God.
I know this probably sounds radical to you; it sounds radical to me! But it's what God is showing me. in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples to watch and pray with Him for one hour. That doesn't seem unreasonable. But they gave into the weakness of the flesh and missed out on being with Jesus in His hour of agony. I think this life is a lot like that one hour. It's going to go by so fast. I don't want to "sleep" it away giving in to the weakness of my flesh. I want to learn to do everything - Every Little Thing - for God's glory. And only HIS power and grace can accomplish that in my life, but with Him ALL things are possible. =)

So to get started I believe God wants me to do a "wordly fast" for 40 days. And I'm challenging you to join me! If you want a deeper communion with God and greater fruitfulness in your life, this may be a good way of helping you fulfill those desires.
Specifically, I'm going to give up all secular/non-Christian music, reading material, and TV/movies for 40 days. I know there are other areas (computer games, internet, etc.), but these are the 3 I'm going to focus on. I don't think it will be too difficult, except maybe the TV/movies part. (I enjoy watching sports and re-runs of A-team. =) But if I get desperate for some tube-time I can always watch Narnia or Facing the Giants or something with positive, godly input.)
The reasons I'm doing this are so that I'll have more time for what is really important - prayer, fellowship, etc. And also because I'm seeing that even a little bit of "wordly" influence can still do damage in my thinking and my desires. I want to feed myself a steady diet of God's truth, character, life, etc. so that He can use it to make me more like Christ.
I plan to start this fast on Feb. 2nd, feel free to pick your own start day if you choose to do this. I think the 40 days will actually go quickly. My hope is that once I'm away from those distractions, I'll no longer want them in my life anyway. I hope it'll be like when you're used to eating fast food all the time, then you spend a whole month eating only homecooked meals. After that when you eat fast food you realize how bad it tastes and how awful it makes you feel. It just can't compare to the real thing. I hope that my heart will learn to disregard the "junk" and find delight in the "real thing" - Jesus!
I pray that you'll be drawn closer to Him too. And if you decide to join me in this fast, please let me know so we can encourage each other to press on in our desire to glorify God in ALL we do!
Happy fasting! =)
Because of Jesus,
-Joanna

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