Kids Don’t Care About Your Fasting

Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro is known for his quip, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”

I can do him one better.  Kid’s don’t care about your fasting.

I say that because, in fact, we are fasting and from all indicators, the kids don’t care. Tonight was wild.  Not ‘gunfire in the streets’ wild, but ‘7 kids 13 and under’ wild, which is it’s own kind of danger.

The 13 year old with special needs decided to walk home from school, about a mile, in the light rain.  I’m not sure why that happened.

One of the 11 year old twins joined the 10 year old and one of the 8 year old twins in a raucous game of Apples to Apples, a game that none of them understand but managed to argue about none the less.

The five year old managed to hurt himself jumping from something to something.  The details are not clear and he wasn’t spilling the beans.

The other 11 year old twin and 8 year old twin decided to teach the dog to paint. That was not a typo.   Apparently the dog was not interested in art and bolted.  We heard screams of “Paisley is running and she has paint on her paws!”    I noticed when I put her in her crate tonight she did, in fact, have a robin’s egg blue on her paws.  I’m sure I’ll find the color elsewhere in the morning.

We should expect all this.  They’re kids.  And it was funny.

This is the atmosphere we’re fasting in, because we have to find a way to press in to God even as we fight for sanity.  We’ll never know any sort of transcendent love if we can’t manage the nitty gritty of fighting kids and painting dogs.

If you’re in this fast, hang tight.  Stay firm.  You may not be the keeper of a zoo like we are, but you have monkeys of your own.  Pressures.  Unexpected events that drive you a little batty.

Stay the course.  Make some time to pray.  And don’t turn your back on the kids or the dog.

Getting Unstuck

stuck

I have this thing I do that causes people to do a double-take.  Actually, I have several of those things, but I’m only going to talk about one of them right now.

When I tell someone about something we’re struggling with or need and they say, “We will be praying for you….” I almost always say, “Thanks!  Will you fast?”

Mostly, I get a blank stare.  And I get it.  The bar for praying for someone is a little lower than fasting.   “I’ll pray for you” can be hard to quantify.  Fasting is either done or not done, so we are careful what we commit to fasting about.

Recently I did an informal poll, asking people what they are fasting for right now.  One of the most common responses was for the future for their family, next steps, or simply that they were stuck and wanted to get on with things.  People are ready for what’s next and they’re willing to fast to find out what it is.  That’s remarkable.

Kelsey and I resonate with that.  We’re ready for the next season.  Part of our fast is about next steps, where is the Lord leading, what is He doing and how do we get there from here….because without clear direction, we’re stuck.   That’s true of all of us.

What if we’re all not quite as stuck as we think?

When Scout was about 3, he’d claim he was stuck when he didn’t want to go where we told him.  We’d tell him it was time for dinner, but he’d grab the door frame of his room and protest, “I’m stuck.”

He wasn’t stuck.  He just didn’t want to move to the next thing because the current thing was too comfortable, or at least known.   Sometimes, he’d go to the kitchen to discover that we were having broccoli and he’d wish he’d claimed he was stuck.  Sometimes, being stuck is preferable to the bowl of veggies God is pushing across the table.  Even when they’re good for you.

This fast isn’t about manifesting opportunities.  It’s about getting people unstuck and willing to go where He is leading, no matter the cost.  Fasting makes our bodies weak and our hearts tender, more willing to respond to the invitation of the Lord than we might be in other situations.

Here’s to what’s next and getting unstuck from all that’s been.

adapted from this week’s Third Cup of Coffee podcast

Tomorrow, we fast

I have historically not been an enthusiastic faster.

I support fasting.  I fast.  I have just embraced it reluctantly because, well….fasting.

Something is different in me right now.  Tomorrow, we begin a 40 day fast and perhaps for the first time since the year 2000, I am eager to dive in.  Perhaps because I am as desperate for God to move as I was back then.

In 2000, we were church planting in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati.  We were different people than we are now.  Adding eight children and twenty years of ministry will have an effect on you.  Yet in some ways we are the same.

We are very aware that our nation is at a crossroads.   We fasted in 2000, and the next September, the United States suffered an attack that would change the trajectory of our foreign policy, our expectations of privacy, our economy and our sense of safety forever. It feels a little like the nation is at a similar crossroads.  So much is uncertain, and what is certain does not seem encouraging, unless God breaks in.

We are hungry for a God-challenge.  We’ve had a few over the years, and we have found that we flourish in the challenges that God offers us while we struggle with those we pick up on our own.   Twenty years in, I’m realizing that the challenges He calls us to are the ones He chooses fight alongside us.

If you’re interested, we are joining in with Lou Engle and others for The Jesus Fast,  Over 60,000 people worldwide have signed up to do this together.

Also, I’ve been talking a little about fasting in recent editions of the Third Cup of Coffee podcast.  You can find it here.

Freedom Church, Magnolia, TX

It was great to be with Richy & Jess Clark in Magnolia, Texas last Sunday!

I talked about the heart of a father and told a bunch of adoption stories – most of this has been shared in other places but for some reason this morning got the Director’s Cut version…

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Also, don’t miss the Third Cup of Coffee Podcast.

 

When Children Encounter God

Anna is 11.  She’s feisty, passionate, and has a razor sharp wit.   She likes all the normal 11 year old girl things like fingernail polish and her iPad and her new puppy.   Most days are spent juggling between school, making videos and setting her siblings straight.

Today, however, she had a powerful encounter with God.

She was a little discouraged and tired when, in her words, she

felt kind of funny, and suddenly I knew God was with me.  I went down on my knees in the bathroom and I started to laugh and cry at the same time and I was so happy all of a sudden!  I just laughed and cried!  I knew it was the Holy Spirit!  I knew He was doing it to me!

She actually cried and laughed so loudly that her twin sister, Mercy, came upstairs to check on her and found her in a pile on the floor, overwhelmed by the presence of God.  It had a profound effect on both of them.  Anna was astounded that the Holy Spirit would touch her in that way and Mercy was hungry for a similar experience.

I know, this is making some of you nervous.  What do we do with it when our kids seem to have an encounter with God – especially one so demonstrative?

Sadly, some people feels compelled to explain it away, dismiss it or minimize it. After all, we wouldn’t want our children to grow up with some strange tendency to expect profound encounters, would we?  We almost feel like we have to prepare them for adulthood by training them to anticipate a dull Christian existence.

I think that’s a mistake. We’re actually talking our kids out of God when we do that.

In Acts 2, as Peter preached to those gathered who were trying to sort out what was happening as the Holy Spirit was poured out on those in the upper room, he took a minute to start by quoting the prophet Joel.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…”

It’s clearly God’s plan for the Holy Spirit to impact and use our children.   At the same time, we are the parents and the children will look to us for help interpreting their experiences.   How can we help them walk this out?

Talk it through.

Tonight, at bed time, we had Anna tell her story.  Most of us had heard it during the day, but I had her retell it to her siblings and allow them to ask questions.  They wondered how it felt, what she was thinking, and why she was crying.  She answered the questions that she had answers for, and was honest about the things she couldn’t understand.

I explained to her that telling our story was important because it helped remind us of how things happened as well as gave her confidence to testify to what God had done for her in other settings because one of the ways we overcome is by our testimony.   When things get hard, I’ll have her tell us the story again.

Address it with scripture.

Read passages from Bible where God’s power was displayed.  Adults are wired to doubt but children are wired to believe.  I think this is why Jesus never said “If you have the faith of an adult….” or “gather the adults to me…”.

Kids approach the supernatural with a natural curiosity and an unassuming spirit.  Give them some tracks to run on that are found in the Bible.

Pray with them.

Never let an encounter, big or small, go without following up with prayer.  In this case, Anna’s heart was still very tender and I believe she still in a heightened state of sensitivity to the Lord.  We prayed God would continue to speak to her and that she would recognize His voice quickly – and then we prayed that her siblings would have their own encounters with the Holy Spirit.

Some would say that kids can get overly emotional and this can all get a little weird. That’s true.  The far more common scenario, however, is that we don’t give them room to breath spiritually and it gets a little boring. 

Lead your children through these encounters – even if you’re not having them yourself.  Personally, I am provoked for more of God tonight.

I am being led that direction by my own daughter.  Life does not get better than that.

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Don’t miss the Third Cup of Coffee podcast.

The Myth of the Blank Sheet of Paper

Kelsey and I are at a unique place in life.  We find ourselves talking and praying about what is next for us.  We thought we had that part figured out, but we were wrong…and it’s ok to be wrong.  It’s an opportunity to make adjustments and get things into alignment with heaven.

I’ve had several people tell me to look at the future like a completely blank sheet of paper.  Given a sharp, new pencil, what would we draw on that sheet?   I love that idea. Who doesn’t like new school supplies?  Who doesn’t like boundless opportunity?

Except that idea is a little off.

The paper is not blank.  I’m 52, not 25.  I have experiences, opinions, strengths, hangups, and quirks that I didn’t have when we started this journey.  We have a few miles on us – the vast majority of them were wonderful. A few were unexpected.  We may have gone off roading a few times.  We don’t regret them but we can’t deny them either.

No, the paper isn’t blank.  The corner is crinkled and there’s a coffee stain and there’s that one thing I started to write one time and rubbed the eraser too hard until I tore a small hole.   Our future is not going to be pulled from the ream of paper, it’s going to be written on something that’s been in our backpack for a while.  Parts of it have been carried around for years.

I actually think that makes it a better story.  There are rich characters and plot twists and a backstory that all make for a better future.  A blank sheet of paper is for those without a history.   We are not those people.

I’d appreciate your help.  Would you pray with us about the next phase of our lives?  For something that encompasses who we are?   We need to hear from heaven and we trust that we will.

Thanks,

Randy

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Don’t miss The Next Cup of Coffee podcast – it’s about five minutes of what’s going on in our life and 15-20 minutes of Bible study, posted on Wednesday mornings.

Job(‘s) Experience

I’m a big fan of the book of Job.  That’s something you don’t hear every day because at first glance, Job’s experience is terrible.  In the first chapter, even though he’s living right and honoring God, the wheels start to fall off.

He loses his herds.  His riches. His children. He keeps his wife and his friends, and frankly, they’re no help.  His friends offer a mix of observations, advice and criticism. His wife tells him to curse God and die.  Job is crushed by circumstances and then abused by people near him.

Few of us ever approach the pain that Job must have undergone, but at some point, most of us do know what it feels like to be betrayed and accused.  It stings.   We want to speak, to explain, to make sure that everyone understands…and sometimes we don’t get the chance.

Even when we know the Lord is a God of justice…it still hurts.

Recently I discovered this really interesting portion of scripture near the end of the book.  I’ve read it over and over again but this time it leaped off the page at me.

In Job 42, Job hears God speak to one of his abusive friends.

(verse 7)  After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has..

You can almost imagine Job searching for the GIF of the guy getting the popcorn and settling into his chair to watch because it appears that God is going to drop the hammer of justice on those who have hurt Job.

(verses 8 & 9) “…now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 

So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

This is what caught my eye.

God accepted their sacrificed based on Job’s intercession for them.  It appears that God had mercy but it was because Job asked for it.

We have a unique role to pray for mercy on those who have wronged us.  When we have been genuinely mistreated, the prayers we pray on behalf of our oppressors have specific equity in the heart of God.  God’s heart is moved when we ask for mercy on them.

He has always heard the voice of the oppressed – how much more so when the oppressed are praying for their oppressors?

Don’t confuse intercession for your oppressor with agreeing with your oppressor.  It doesn’t mean that what they did was right or that it’s instantly put behind you….but this isn’t about you.  This is about the hearts of fallen men and women who are more like you than you may care to admit, and because you feel you’ve suffered at their hands, God tunes His ears to your prayers.

If you’ve been mistreated, the most powerful thing you can do is pray for the one who did it.  God hears that prayer and the oppressed person can move heaven.  If you’ve been treated poorly, you are not helpless or hopeless.  You are powerful.  Take your place of authority in prayer.

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Don’t miss this week’s Third Cup of Coffee podcast