Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Dear friends,
I apologize for not getting this out to you last night.  Hopefully it will provide some food for thought when you read it.  Last week I wrote about prayer, so I thought it would be important to think about fasting as well.  I am still learning more about why God calls us to fast and how important it can be in our faith walks.  I have found the following information helpful to my understanding and hope that it will help you as well.

From The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson:
“When you fast and pray in tandem, it’s almost like a moving sidewalk that gets you to your desired destination in half the time.  Fasting has a way of fast-tracking our prayers.  Because fasting is harder than praying, fasting is a form of praying hard...
There is more than one way to draw a prayer circle.  In fact, sometimes it involves more than prayer.  I believe that fasting is a form of circling.  In fact, an empty stomach may be the most powerful prayer posture in Scripture.
Even Jesus said that some miracles are not possible via prayer (Matthew 17:21).  Some miracles are only accessible via prayer and fasting.  It takes the combination of prayer and fasting to unlock some double dead bolts.”  
I recently listened to a pastor preach on fasting and he stated that “it causes our prayers to intensify and we make headway where we didn’t make headway before...  There has not been any significant breakthrough that I have needed from the Lord that I have not fasted for.  I have not fasted without seeing God work in amazing ways.”  
He went on to provide a list of seven things that fasting does.  In summary, fasting:
  • helps us secure favor in situations 
  • helps us discern God’s will 
  • humbles our souls
  • provides protection
  • gives us power in spiritual battles
  • brings healing
When I extended the invitation to join David and me in praying and fasting for Barrett, I encouraged all of you to pray about the level of commitment you felt God laying on your hearts.  I encourage you again to ask, “God, do you want me to do this?  Where are the areas in my life that you want to give me a breakthrough?”
Although we are fasting on Wednesdays on behalf of Barrett, God may be calling you to fast for a different or an additional breakthrough -- discernment, our families, our church, against the enemy.  The Lord wants to meet us in the place where we need him to show himself powerful.  I am personally praying that He would show himself powerful in a dimension that we have never seen before by healing Barrett.  I open up to you in saying that our journey of prayer and fasting has been extremely difficult at times, but this is something that I believe is from God; in the words of our friend John, “you hang on and you keep on fasting and praying until you receive that from the Lord and you don’t stop!”  If we want God to do what he’s never done before, we have to move in close to him.
I’ll leave you with this passage, Isaiah 58:8-9,
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am'.”


Dear friends,
As we prepare for another Wednesday, I want to thank you once again for your commitment in prayer for Barrett and the Delmez family.  For those who will be fasting, we are praying for strength and protection as you go through the day.  David and I continue to be challenged by The Circle Maker and I wanted to share several thoughts from what we have most recently read.  I hope this provides you with something to reflect on throughout the day.  It emphasizes prayer and the importance of what we are doing in coming together before God and asking him to heal this child.  (I’ve created 4 alliterated points for Matt’s enjoyment!)
1.  Purpose of Prayer:
“In the circle of successful living, prayer is the hub that holds the wheel together.  Without our contact with God we are nothing.  With it, we are ‘a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor.’”
How humbled we should be that we are unworthy but can talk to the Lord God Almighty at any moment of any day, with any need, any praise, any fears!
2.  Posture of Prayer:
“Physical posture is an important part of prayer.  It’s like a prayer within a prayer.  Posture is to prayer as tone is to communication.  If words are what you say, then posture is how you say it.  There is a reason that Scripture prescribes a wide variety of postures such as kneeling, falling prostrate on one’s face, the laying on of hands, and anointing someone’s head with oil.  Physical postures help posture our hearts and minds...The physical posture of kneeling, coupled with a humble heart, is the most powerful position on earth.  I’m not sure that the kneeling position betters my batting average in prayer, but it gets me in the right stance.  All I know is this: Humility honors God, and God honors humility.  Why not kneel?”
I challenge you to reflect on when and how you pray - are you giving God the focus he deserves?  We have recently begun to kneel together when we pray and I can promise you that it has helped to ‘posture our hearts and minds’ before God and humble ourselves before him as we pray!
3.  Proximity of Prayer:
There is something powerful about being in proximity to the person, place, or thing you are praying for.  Proximity creates intimacy.  Proximity proclaims authority...
Like the promise given to Joshua, “I will give you every place where you set your foot,” it’s a way of exercising the authority God has given us as His children.  (Joshua 1:3)
If you have not yet had the opportunity to pray with Brett and Jessica, I challenge you to find some time before Barrett is born that you can join in fellowship and prayer with them.  If you cannot meet with them on Sundays or Wednesdays, let me know and I will help facilitate a time!
4.  Primed by Prayer:
Our minds are primed by everything that is happening all the time.  It’s a testament to the fact that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  It also testifies to the fact that we had better be good stewards of the things we allow to be seen and heard.  Everything we see and hear is priming us in a positive or negative way.  That’s one reason I believe in starting the day in God’s Word.  It doesn’t just prime our minds; it also primes our hearts...
Prayer is priming.  Prayer puts us in a spiritual frame of mind.  Prayer helps us see and seize the God-ordained opportunities that are all around us all the time.  As David writes in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” 
This thought is especially challenging for me as I’m not a morning person; maybe you face a similar situation.  Irregardless, I challenge you to reflect on how you are using prayer to ‘prime’ your day and maintain a spiritual frame of mind throughout the day, taking advantage of the opportunities that are around us!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Romans 8

Dear friends,

I praise God for your commitment in joining us to lift up Barrett Delmez (along with Brett and Jessica) in prayer!  Thank you for your support, in whatever capacity you are able to give.  It is hard to believe that Wednesday is almost upon us again, which for many of us means that we will be fasting until dinner.  I wanted to provide you with a couple thoughts to reflect upon throughout the day.  Most recently, I was reading through Romans 8 and wanted to share several verses.

Romans 8:5-6 "...those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires...the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace."

Romans 8:26-27 "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:31-32 "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Romans 8:34 "Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."

These verses challenge me and comfort me at the same time.  How hard it is to live in accordance with the Spirit and yet it is not a battle we face alone, for we are promised that the Spirit will help us in our weakness.  When we don't know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us.   Christ himself is interceding for us.  Be encouraged in that good news!

Romans 8
Life Through the Spirit
 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.
 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Present Suffering and Future Glory
 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
More Than Conquerors
 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
   we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Discouragement and disappointment

When I felt the call to commit in prayer and fasting for Barrett, I knew that call was to be echoed among our friends and our church.  I felt so passionate, so sure, in what God was personally calling me to do.  There is no other way that any of us can help Barrett but to pray.  Pray.  Pray.  I was so hopeful that others would join with us to pray for Barrett's healing; to fast as able; to step out in faith and say "we won't be silent!".  

So I wrote a letter that expressed my thoughts - how I felt God had called me, what he was calling me to, why I was seeking others to join us.  Ultimately, I wanted to bring this situation - Barrett's struggling health - to the forefront and ask our friends to pray with us.  I challenged them to search their own hearts for how God was calling them to action, knowing that not everybody could commit to that which was on my own heart.  

I had a great vision that friend after friend would commit to join with us in praying for Barrett at the least.  I was hopeful that most of our friends would also join us in fasting on Wednesdays and sharing fellowship and meals with the Delmez family.  And the response was mostly silence.  I was mad, frustrated, confused, saddened, hurt.  

And as I go through this, I am reminded of 2 things:

1. The response was not complete silence.  There are those who have committed with us to pray together daily for Barrett to be fully healed.  We are few, but we are strong and we are passionate about the way God is moving in this situation.  Praise the Lord for bringing us together to support our friends in need.

I reflect on Ann Voskamp's thoughts from One Thousand Gifts - What, then, is grace?  If it is receiving what we do not deserve, then isn't it all grace?  Barrett's life.  A commitment among friends to pray daily for his healing.  Fellowship among those gathering together.  Not least of all, our salvation, which is grace at its utmost - to have been given a life in Christ when we have done nothing to deserve it.  Knowing God through that salvation, which allows us to boldly ask for his healing in the first place.

2.  We are not opposed when we are doing nothing worth being opposed.

I heard this while listening to a sermon today:
"What difficult situation do you have in your life right now that makes you want to get focused and isolated and fearful?  This could be the greatest opportunity God will ever give you to preach the word.  And not just with your life, but also with your words."

Hebrews 4:12 - “For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit...; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  
God calls us to preach the word.
And I was reminded of an important thing - "the power is in the message, not in the messenger.  When you begin to share that message, Satan’s tactics will go from division and subtlety to frontal.  You start growing, sharing, living - as you press against things, you will experience frontal attack.  The goal is to get you to withdraw and isolate and say 'this is for somebody else'."
Fear not - greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

What an opportunity Barrett's life has given all of us to preach the word.  Let us be faithful to the message God has given each of us to preach.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

First Wednesday fast

Though prayer can be active, especially in the act of joining together to pray, I felt called to fast as well as pray for Barrett.  David and I have committed to fasting on Wednesdays until dinner, setting aside this day of the week to lift this child up.

We recently finished a Daniel fast, which is a partial fast (limiting certain foods, not when we ate), so this was the first time I've fasted from food all day.  And to top it off, it was my birthday; but no matter - I was committed (it seemed easy enough...).  In short, my day was awful.  Thankfully David encouraged me through the day and reminded me to "praise through".  Translation: Know that God is always at work, even though the day is not one of your favorites.  

It was important for us to end this first day of fasting by serving Brett, Jessica and Braeden with dinner and spending time in fellowship.  On the way to their house, David brought up the topic of spiritual warfare and shared that he felt it was no coincidence that I had had an awful day; how easy it would have been to break fast throughout the day or decide to go out to eat instead of serving our friends.  And how easily God's call on our hearts would have fallen by the wayside.  I'm reminded of Mark Batterson's words from The Circle Maker, "Pray like it depends on God, work like it depends on you."  Let me tell you, it felt like work!  At the end of the day, we remained faithful to God and His call for us in this situation.  We had great conversation and shared what God was doing in our lives and this call He has placed on our hearts.  We ended in prayer for their family and for Barrett.

But the story does not end there; God's story has a way of going beyond our own thoughts, plans and expectations.  With Jessica's permission, I'd love to share the e-mail we received from her that night:

I want you to know that you may have very well been working one of Barrett's miracles tonight because I truly believe it was by the grace of God that Janelle happened to be over. What I did not share with Kristy earlier is that Janelle has decided over the last few years that she is a non believer and we have been praying for some time that Barrett's circumstances would not push her further in the wrong direction but be a ministry bring her back. I have even more intentionally been praying for her since Sunday and I truly believe God answered that prayer in you all tonight. I cannot even begin to thank you enough for the love and sacrifice you are willing to give for Barrett...I can say thank you for witnessing (even unknowingly) to Janelle tonight. 
Much Love and blessings! 
Jessica and Brett

God is mighty to save and we praise Him for working through Barrett's little life already!

Trusting in God

I am reading from two books right now and interestingly enough, both of them speak of trust.  Let me share several excerpts with you from each book:

-- From One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp:

What is saving belief if it isn't the radical dare to wholly trust?  Belief is a verb, something you must do...The truth is that saving belief is the very real, every day action of trusting.  (She references James 2:19, which states "Even the demons believe" - belief alone is not enough, we are called to action.)

Are stress and worry evidences of a soul too lazy, too undisciplined, to keep gaze fixed on God?...Isn't joy worth the effort of trust?

This is the trust I lack: to know that if disaster strikes, He carries me even there...Trusting God is my most urgent need.

-- From The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson:

Do you trust that God is for you even when He doesn't give you what you asked for?  Do you trust that He has reasons beyond your reason?  Do you trust that His plan is better than yours?

If you can trust God when the answer is no, you're likely to give Him praise when the answer is yes.

By definition, praying hard is praying when it's hard to pray.  And it's the hard times that teach us to pray hard.

I don't know what the outcome of our prayers will be; only God knows how He will act.  But no matter the outcome, I trust that God is always for us.  I trust that His plan is better than mine.  And I pray that His glory will be revealed throughout the entirety of this situation, drawing us closer to Him in the process.