Weekly Virtues – Faith

” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”     Hebrews 11:1

Faith.  Its always been a bit of a mystery for me.  We know about the “hall of faith” in the bible, we know faith is something we’re supposed to have, and we know there are some pretty amazing verses in the bible about what faith can do (anyone need some mountains moved?).  But I sometimes feel a little confused about what exactly is faith?

Welcome to weekly virtues, a place to live your days with a focus on becoming more like Christ by intentionally filtering your thoughts, actions, and motives through the lens of biblical virtues.

So today we’re going to talk about faith.  Or at least an aspect of it.  Because the truth is, I don’t understand everything that has to do with faith.  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me.  Or I think I have a grasp, but then it doesn’t shape the way I live.  But I’m trying to learn.  And I want to share what I learn with the hope that you will be encouraged.  Because we can pray just like the disciples did, “Lord increase our faith!

First, let’s get a definition.  From 4th-12th grade, I was homeschooled.  My mom and I would read together some challenging books by Sir Walter Scott, filled with the most random vocabulary words ever.  (This was pre-interwebs, so we had to use a physical dictionary to look up words, like you did back then.)  We found a 1940 copy of “Webster’s Universal Unabridged Dictionary” and it was indeed as unabridged as you can get.  This thing was HUGE.  It is still the source of all literary knowledge to me, so here is the definition of faith from this dictionary…

  1. “The assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity, without other evidence, or on probable evidence of any kind.
  2. “The assent of the mind to what is given forth as a revelation of man’s relation to God and the infinite;  
  3. (and my personal favorite) “The assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of God’s testimony, accompanied by a cordial assent of the will or approbation of the heart; an entire confidence or trust in God’s character and declarations, and in the character and doctrines of Christ, with an unreserved surrender of the will to his guidance, and dependence on his merits for salvation.”

Dear Daniel Webster, I love you.

Notice in these definitions that there are two different kinds of faith, there is saving faith in Jesus to rescue us from our sins, (that would be the dependence on his merits for salvation section) and there is “entire confidence or trust in God’s character and declarations” (tying in to the “assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation on the authority of God’s testimony).  Ooooo, the authority of God’s testimony, this is where it gets good.

Having faith boils down to having a clear understanding of who God is, and who I am.  Our “assent of mind” is based on what we believe about what God says.  Whether we deem His authority is to be trusted.  On the other side, much of our lack of faith comes from us not really believing God based on what He says.

This is the ultimate problem that I keep coming back to…I don’t really believe God is who He says he is and that He’ll do what He says He’ll do.

Part of this is because we live in such a physical world.  I want things I can hold, touch, see, and hear.  It is easier to believe in what I can see than “things above.”  But that’s exactly what the bible says faith is. 

 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

So as long as we live on this physical planet faith is always going to be something we cannot see and may not perfectly understand.  And I’ll be honest, this kind of bothers me.  I mean, it uses the words substance and evidence.  Aren’t those both things you can touch and see and sense?!?  But I think this is where God as the good Father, training His children comes in…

Because if we can see it, it’s easy.  And if we can already see it, we don’t need to trust His character and lean into to intimacy with Him.  We don’t really have to have faith that we’ll have enough to make ends meet if the paycheck is already in the bank.  We don’t need faith for healing when the reports already came in all clear.  We don’t need faith if the prodigal is already in the fold.  These things are already seen.  We don’t need faith for the things that are already seen.   It is the unseen, not-yet-delivered circumstances that are training us in faith.  Training us in our trust of God and in His goodness.  

For without faith it is impossible to please God.”     Hebrews 11:6

Without faith, it is impossible to please God because we’re saying “I don’t trust you God.  I don’t believe what you say about Yourself, Your testimony is not to be trusted.”

Not very church-y thoughts.  Thoughts I’m sure that we would never mention aloud in bible study or in front of our kids or to our friends.  But maybe we think them in our hearts.  And what is in our hearts comes out in our lives.

Because that’s what real virtues are.  They are treasured in the inmost places of our hearts, instructing us in the ways of God, even when no one is listening.  They influence the way we act in our most secret place.  

So how do we increase our faith?  How can we make this a virtue that we have tucked away in our souls?

We pray.  Just like the disciples, Jesus’ own followers that saw Him on this earth…. they had to ask out loud, “Lord increase our faith!”  This is a prayer that God delights to answer.  

We decide.  We have to decide that we’re going to believe what God says and who He says He is.  Even when it doesn’t make sense.  Remember, faith is believing when we can’t see.  It will not always be clear, it will not always be easy, it will not always feel good.  But it will always be right.  God doesn’t always ask us to do easy stuff, because then we feel wouldn’t need Him.  And He wants us to realize we need Him.  Because only when we realize we can’t do it on our own will we submit to His ways and make Him our delight.

We act.  If we are not acting on our faith, it is kind of useless going through all the other steps.  The point of these virtues is to affect the way we do life and make us more like Christ!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Confidence and assurance.  Trust in God.  This is faith in us.  Choose to believe what God says.

 

Action Plan:

Take the time to contemplate and then decide what you really believe about God.   Do you believe He is good?  It’s okay if while you’re thinking, you realize you really don’t believe God.  There is grace for that!  He promises to increase our faith if we ask for help!

This is not a one time deal.  You may have to “re-choose” faith in God many times, in every situations.  Sometimes we get slammed with circumstances.  Take the time to make a decision to trust in what God says about Himself and His promises for you.

Be alert to whispers from the enemy that are untruthful about God.  God is always good and always for our good.  Any thought that says otherwise is a lie and needs to be taken captive to Christ.

  1. Read through Hebrews 11.  Imagine yourself in each of character’s place in bible history.  What would be your “usual” response?  What would be your response if you trusted exactly what God said?
  2. Read through Luke 17:1-19.  Focus on verse 6.
  3. Print out the Hebrews 11:1 Faith card.  Memorize it.  This will be your reminder when you feel doubt, anxiety, anything that gets in the way of your trust in God.  Put it where you’ll see it and need it.  Faith for God’s provision? Put it in your wallet or budget notebook.  Faith for your child’s salvation? Put it next to his/her picture.  Put it in your bible, your prayer book, your car, your bathroom.  Hide God’s word in your heart.  Hide it deep where no circumstance can get to the unshakable faith that you are building in the One that is worthy of your utmost trust.

 

Much love to all of you!

We walk by faith, not by sight.  We are the people who believe in God!

 

~Elizabeth Toy Botero

 

As always, feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments!

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Weekly Virtues – Welcome

 

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”     Proverbs 11:3

Welcome to Weekly Virtues.  A place to live your days with a focus on becoming more like Christ by intentionally filtering your thoughts, actions, and motives through the lens of biblical virtues.

We all have ideas of what kind of person we’d like to be.  More patient.  Less dissatisfied.  Full of peace.  Loving.  Victorious.  And we see in scripture that God desires these things for us as well.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8

Ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of Jesus.  Ouch.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to reach the end of my life (let alone my day!) and feel ineffective and unproductive.  And neither does God.

There may be some differences in the different virtues listed depending on translation, but the main point is the same.  Knowing Jesus more.  The way to be effective and productive in our earthly lives and in our Christian walk (because they really should be the same thing…) is to “possess these qualities (our virtues) in increasing measure.”  We are daily striving to be more compassionate, more gentle, more hopeful, more obedient through the power of Christ in us.  Increasing godly virtues in our lives protects us from uselessness (“keep you from being ineffective“) and brings us closer to Jesus. 

Closer to Jesus…a life’s work right?!  It is difficult in our modern world to focus on completing some chores let alone focus on listening to the Holy Spirit.  It is hard to find quality-made clothes let alone invest in a quality relationship with God.  It is sometimes a trial to come up with family meals let alone cultivate fellowship with Jesus.

But even though our world is taxing, and things are difficult, and our souls are not where we want them to be, we still have hope!  Because “take heart Jesus has overcome the world!”  This is good news for us my friends.

Because all those other things that are important to us in life will fade away.  Our clothes will be out of fashion, our chores will have to be done again, and we’ll have to cook more meals.  But what will not fade away is the soul we cultivate.  And it will transform everything!  Taking the time to focus on these virtues, to pray that God will teach your heart these virtues will transform the way you see and do everything!  Your clothes are suddenly a blessing and you are content with what you have, your meals are a service to the family that you adore, the chores are an act of stewardship of the home that you will make beautiful.

And you will be effective and productive in your knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh it is going to be a beautiful thing my friends!  I am so excited (did you notice all the exclamation points!!!!!??!!) to share this journey of faith and life and beauty and trust in the goodness of God with you.  

Whew, had to get that excitement off my chest!  The truth is that I am just on this life journey and longing to share a piece of my heart with you.  And longing to share what I am learning about “seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” with you.  All with the humble hopes that someone will be blessed.  That someone will feel more hopeful, that someone will lean a little more into God’s abundant strength, that someone will grasp how much God loves you and wants to transform your life into one of abundance.

So how are we going to do this?  Consider this the “instruction manual” of my idea for weekly virtues.  We are going to allow the Word of God to transform our lives and actions by transforming how we view life.  Think of a lens for one of those big fancy dslr cameras (you know, the ones that scream “photographer!!!”) (I have to admit that I own one of those cameras…) , if the lens is off, no matter how good the camera or the skills of the photographer, things will not look accurate, clear or beautiful.  My dream for weekly virtues is to share a godly lens through which to view life.  By changing the way we think, we will change the way we live.  When we change the way we live, we form habits of godliness that will stick with us through the tough times of life.

I envision the basic format of weekly virtues to be an opening verse and discussion on the weekly biblical virtue around which you can orient your thoughts throughout the week.  Say it is November and the virtue is gratitude, I want you to stop every thought and filter it through that word.  I want you to consider every action in the light of that trait.  Focus on verses talking about gratitude, pray for God to teach you about gratitude, talk to your kids about gratitude, let it infuse your family culture for the week.  Weave it into the fabric of your life. (thank you fruit of the loom commercials…)

Following the basic discussion of the virtue, I want to offer some suggestions for integrating it into your life for the week (think family discussions, prayers, etc).  There will also be a printable (and it will be pretty!) with the name of the virtue and a verse for memorization to hang where you need it most (the bathroom, car dashboard, your desk, over the time-out chair…)

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”     Proverbs 11:3

By integrating these virtues, we are building a life of integrity that will guide us.  Look at the opposite, what the unfaithful are destroyed by… Duplicity. (some translations also say perverseness, dishonesty, crookedness)  Duplicity struck a chord with me though because how many days do we seek after the wrong thing?  How often do we fill our hearts with what doesn’t satisfy?  How often are our hearts and minds forever trying to ride both sides of the fence?  We need guidance in this life.  And we’re going to get it!

You support me in my integrity; you put me in your presence forever.”  Psalm 41:12

Isn’t God just the best!!?!  (okay, I gotta sit down now, and cut down on those exclamation points…) He knows we need integrity, and He promises to support us in it, by putting us in His presence.  Oh it is so goodThe purpose of weekly virtues is to glorify God by supporting you in the pursuit of integrity as you sit at Jesus` feet.

You know how some days you just feel like a kid again and your heart lights up insideToday is that day for me my friends.  This is the beginning of a journey for me, a place to share and relate and encourage.  And I hope you’ll join me to see what we can learn together, how we can be virtuous, beautiful people of God, and how we can be super-excited, just like a kid again and light up each others hearts by discovering more of the heart of God.  

 

~Elizabeth Toy Botero

 

If you’d like to join me on this journey and receive weekly encouragement in your inbox, please “follow” in the bottom right corner!

Daniel Fast – Breaking the Fast

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”     Proverbs 2:9-11

We’re nothing but honest here…we’re all looking forward to Sunday.  It is going to be a great day.  We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and drink coffee!? Amazing grace!  But how are we going to feel after that coffee?

Yikes.  I have an image of shaking uncontrollably in church and having to make a run for the ladies room….Oh boy.  Today we’re going to talk about being safe and smart when reintroducing foods following our Daniel Fast.

We’re talking about this early in the week because if you’re like me, you’re already planning the exact menu you will enjoy for Easter.  And I know all you Texas ladies are already prepping for Easter ham and cheesy potatoes….

So, how are we going to accept God’s good wisdom about our bodies and break this fast safely?

1) Go slow.  This is the biggest one.  I know I can’t keep you from coffee, bacon, eggs, bread, and chocolate eggs.  But do your best to take it slow.  Ideally its best to introduce food groups 1 or 2 at a time.  After not having to digest super complex proteins and caffeine for 21 days it is going to come as a bit of a shock to your poor stomach.

2) Go small.  It might be best for the first few days to leave your super-duper coffee mug on the shelf.  Reintroducing foods should be done in small increments.  If your body is not used to caffeine, you can get really jittery.  Take it slow, be kind to your body and let it get used to new food groups.  I know on Easter, I will be enjoying some traditional foods, including all the things that were not included in the fast.  It will be difficult, but I am going to do my best to take smaller helpings than normal, knowing that my body needs time to adjust.  (that just means more leftovers, huzzah!)

3) Go smart.  First, drink lots of water.  Your body will thank you!  You’ll need some extra fluid to keep things moving when you reintroduce some food groups.  And if you find that one food group (dairy, meat, breads or grains) really makes you feel bad after eating, its okay to eliminate it from your diet entirely.  The USDA food pyramid has no say over what we eat, and I say eat what makes you feel good and healthy.  You do not have to eat anything that you eliminated over the last 21 days, and if you find eating on the Daniel Fast makes you feel really good, feel free to keep going.  Or, the opposite is also true, also feel free to not eat some things you did eat on the Daniel Fast.

This will look different for everybody and that’s okay.  Our family usually eats lots of meat, fruit, and veggies, little dairy and hardly any grains (I try not to love homemade bread….and cookies, and muffins, and scones…but I do love them, so I eat them rarely as treats).  This is how we feel happiest and healthiest.  So for me, I would be so happy if I didn’t have to eat another bowl of oatmeal ever again.  But it doesn’t mean I will ditch every practical thing I’ve learned with the Daniel Fast.  God offers us wisdom, everything right and just and fair, both for our spiritual lives and for our practical lives.  We need to accept the wisdom He has offered us about our bodies during this time of fasting and use it to glorify Him in our choices.

That is the benefit of the believer.  Freedom.

““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive….So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”     I Corinthians 10:23 & 31 

We have the freedom to eat as we choose.  We choose to fast to transform our lives.  Now that we are ending our fast, we also have choices to make.  And God instructs us that the important choice to make is to do everything for the glory of God!        

The most important aspect of breaking this fast is to keep the intensity spiritually.  Don’t slack off the prayer, bible reading, and hyper-awareness of God just because the fast is finishing.  These are things that God wants you to keep.  He is always trying to bring us to the next level of obedience and intimacy with Him.  The Daniel Fast is just another tool to serve the greater purpose, becoming more like Jesus.

 

~Elizabeth Toy Botero

 

 

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Daniel Fast – Breakthrough

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”     Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Fasting of any sort is not an accidental thing.  It is purposeful.  It is usually planned and thought out.  There’s not really a “Tuesday night” fasting.  So I’m guessing that you have a reason for why you’re fasting.  We already talked about our why for this Daniel Fast.  One of my personal reasons for completing this fast can be summed up in one word.  Breakthrough.

I’m not really sure why this word exactly came to mind when I was pondering why I was going to do the Daniel fast 2 weeks ago (two loooong weeks ago…).  “Breakthrough” kinda sounds like an Avengers movie surtitle….awesome and mind-blowing.  But the breakthrough I meant was in answer to prayers I have.

We’re praying through some life changes at our house.  Jobs, children, student loans, big-kid stuff.  I have a list of prayer requests and I pray through them every day.  I know God is going to answer them and lead us in the path He has for us (not my path that I’ve imagined in my mind….still trying to get that lesson to stick…).  And I’ve been praying that this Daniel Fast would bring about the answers to some of those changes we’ve been seeking.

But it hasn’t.

And I’m thinking why God?  Why the rejection letters?  Why the tight finances?  Why the frustrations?  Why the goal setbacks?  Where is the breakthrough?  Where is the breakthrough in our life where we can see God’s mighty hand stretched out over us?

At the same time we started this Daniel Fast, we also adopted a new habit of reading God’s word together and writing down what the Holy Spirit taught us.  We’ve kept up this habit for all 16 days now and will hopefully continue for the next 1,000 days.  And here is where I almost missed it.  

The long sought after breakthrough was happening in my soul instead of my circumstances.

Oh this one took a long time to “get.”  Sometimes I still forget.  But the breakthrough happens in the soul not the situation.  I am so focused on the practical that I miss the inner power of Christ’s hand on my heart.  God’s mighty hand stretched out over us was there all along, shaping our heart.

We’re still praying over the situation, but now how we pray is different because how we view God is different.  

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”     Philippians 4:19

God’s got this.  He has all the practical hands-on things we need.  I have to remember, He’s always for my benefit.  Sometimes I think I would be benefited by certain prayers answered, but He knows we are always benefited by soul-deep change.

“Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”       Joshua 21:45

Every single one.  God is faithful.  He made good promises and He fulfilled them because (and I need help remembering) He loves us.  He is for our good.

So do be on the lookout for breakthrough during this Daniel Fast, because God’s hand is indeed moving.  It is moving in our lives and deep in our hearts.  It is moving in ways more profound than we can experience through meeting our human necessity needs.  God is stirring soul change that will last a lot longer than any change in circumstances.

He is good, He is for our good, and He is breaking through!

 

 

~Elizabeth Toy Botero

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Fast – Training

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”     1 Timothy 4:8

 

Today we’re going to talk about suffering.  Huzzah!!  My favorite post ever!  Not.

Because I don’t know about you, but I would have been willing to do something illegal yesterday for a burger.  I just really wanted one.  And that, I realized, is part of the purpose of practicing fasting.  It is not a bad thing to deny ourselves something we really want.  Some call it responsibility, call it adult-ing, call it self-control, its an underused muscle that we are flexing these weeks to help make us spiritually fit.

While this is not the main point of fasting, after two weeks of not eating and drinking the things we once considered normal fare, it is noticeable, the muscle is getting strong, but…I’m also getting kinda tired of the training.  These are the moments when our soul is actually being trained.  When we’ve learned to let go of our will and keep going.

Did you know that you don’t actually build muscle while exercising?  Our bodies actually build muscle while resting following exercising. (more or less, there are some more science-y explanations, but that’s the basic idea)  I’m thinking it might end up being the same with following through on this Daniel Fast.  That we are training a muscle that God desires us to utilize in our lives.

I also get the fact that we are not denying ourselves as much as we could be.  We are not starving, we are not persecuted, we are just fine.  Most vegans would say “that’s how I eat everyday anyway!”  And that is true, but most of us are indeed forgoing food options for the sake of growing in intimacy with the Lord.  And these days, these final days are the toughest, because that is when we are starting to feel the loss. 

Week one: “this is okay, I can totally do this, look I’ll just put hummus on everything!”

Week two: “I’ve got other things to do than try new recipes, we’ll just have lentils…again”

Week three: “Baaaacon…..wahhhh…..coffee….waahhhhh…I just miss youuuuu!!!!”

We’re over it.  We’re over the fun and exciting part.  We’re over the exploration and adventure part.  The shiny wears off and we’re just ready to return to the loving arms of bread.  Here is the thing that I’ve been learning.

The weeks where its easy, aren’t really training…

We’re not really building muscle if we’re just lifting empty milk jugs.  Its not until we feel the strain of denial that we’re actually building part of the spiritual muscle that fasting exercises.  And once we start to build this muscle, God can use it in ways we didn’t realize.

Like denying our spending urges to stay in budget

Like keeping away from that toxic relationship even though “I think he/she likes me”

Like getting out of bed early until we make a habit of spending time in God’s presence every single morning

God is training us through this Daniel Fast in so many ways we can’t even know.  But we’ll recognize it as His fruit when we need it in the future.  “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.”  This Daniel Fast will produce fruit in us.  And we have a say in some of the fruit it bears.  Is it going to be the fruit of bitterness, complaining, and deprevation?  Or the fruit of perseverance, faithfulness and joy in trial?

I think this final week will be the deciding point for many of us of what kind of fruit we are going to bear and how we will bring it forth.  As God’s branches, we need to remain in the Vine for this last week, apart from the vine we are nothing.  We cannot pull away because we start to feel the burn of the sun’s unrelenting heat.  No, we lean in closer to receive our very life from the One that has all the life abundant to give.

 

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”           James 1:12

These three weeks are probably not the biggest trial we have ever faced, but we can consider it a training ground for the real trials of this life.  We are building our crown, day by day, and training ourselves in godliness, which is of great worth in all things.  

 

~Elizabeth Toy Botero

 

 

Daniel Fast – Eating Out

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”     Psalm 16:5-6

We’ve all probably had that awkward moment by now…

I’ll have the salad…without the shrimp….or the cheese…or the creamy dressing,”

Its happened to all of us.  I keep waiting for a waitress to just ask “Well what can you eat?”  Ummmm, rabbit food?  We’ll just count these as ministry opportunities…

So hopefully not too late, here are a few suggestions for navigating the restaurant scene while still on the Daniel Fast.

First idea, if someone asks for a suggestion, be the one to make the suggestion.  If a co-worker wants to meet for lunch, say “great, how about Chipotle?”  It will be so much more manageable if you speak up first instead of wait until someone else suggests the chicken-n-waffles joint. (I’m from Michigan, so I don’t really know what chicken & waffles is all about…but thats a thing here right?)

Second idea, always check the salad section!  Most places have a salad section and there will most likely be options on there that are Daniel Fast compliant.  You can also scan the “sides” section.  There is usually a side of veggies, or oatmeal (if you’re doing breakfast), or rice or something that you can eat.  You can even get a salad from chick-fil-a without the chicken! (is it just “fil-a” then?)

Third idea, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  “Can I get this without the cheese?” “Do you have a side of veggies?”  Even if it is not on the menu, usually people in the service industry want to serve.  They will help you!  I went out to eat at a breakfast place, there were no vegetables on the menu and I just asked the waitress if I could have all the vegetables they would usually put in the omelets, without the omelet part.  Sure enough, she was able to get a side dish of veggies.  If you are kind, people are usually happy to help, which leads to the next idea…

Fourth idea, be graciousThere might be a mix-up, a crumble of bleu cheese in your salad, sugary jam in your oatmeal, you might find out the potatoes were cooked in butter.  Unless you’re actually allergic, just go with the flow.  Keep the heart of the fast, Remember we’re seeking to be more like Jesus, not more “right” about how we followed the rules.  However you seek to deal with the issue, make sure it glorifies God, not the fast.

Bonus idea, its okay to be a little hungry.  In a culture that has food available at all times, we need to remind ourselves that it is okay to feel hungry.  Obviously be smart about that, know yourself and your health, take care of your body how you need to.  But for the majority of us, we’re blessed by an overabundance of food.  And sometimes we eat even if we don’t have to.  Be free to choose to opt out.  Or eat what you can while out, and get a snack later.

To finish up, here are a few Daniel Fast friendly restaurant ideas in Spring and the Woodlands:

  • Freebirds  –  Has whole-wheat wraps with vegan fillings
  • Chipotle  –  Burrito bowls without the sour cream and cheese
  • Black Walnut Cafe  –  Lots of options, fruit & potatoes for breakfast, to hummus and salads for lunch
  • Applebees  –  Steamed vegetable plate
  • The Olive Oil Restaurant – (On Sawdust, in the same plaza as Hobby Lobby) This locally owned restaurant has lots of vegetable sides as well as a delicious greek salad
  • P.F. Changs – Great salads and lots of vegetable sides, plus an entire vegetarian menu. Can always order brown rice too!
  • Sweet Tomatoes  –  Its a salad bar restaurant…`nuff said

 

There are many options if you need to eat out, it just takes a little creativity and kindness.  And a lot of salad!

 

~Elizabeth Toy Botero

 

 

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Daniel Fast – How

 “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”          Psalm 86:11
It is day 12 of our Daniel Fast at Generations, and now we’re finally prepared to answer the final journalist question…how?  How do we do this fast?  It seems like a silly question since we’ve already been doing it for 12 days!  But as before, the real question lies at the heart of fasting.  And the real question I want to pose is: how are we going to finish this fast?
To really answer this question, we must ask what is the condition of my fasted heart?  God gives us some great insights in his Word as to what our heart condition should be when fasting, so as usual that is the best place to turn.  We’ll look at several verses through the lens of our Daniel Fast and bring to light what heart issues we might need to deal with.
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”      Joel 2:12-13 
God wants us to return to him with all our heart.  He desires us to have inward signs of grief at our fallenness, not just the outward show of sadness at sin.  This deep grief prompts us to return to the Lord at the heart level.  It is true and real, and this is just the effect the Daniel Fast should have on us.  While we may not be fasting to accompany mourning, God can use this fast to show us our need to return to him and his ways on a soul-changing level.
“There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions… So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. ”         Ezra 8:21 & 23
 
Oooo, humble ourselves before God, are there any words less palatable to us?  (Besides the word “oatmeal”, but we already established that…)  This Daniel Fast has been a great time of humbling and petitioning for us.  Deprived of our reliance on meats, coffee, cheese, and treats, we are seeking God more for the things we can’t do for ourselves.  During this particular fast we are seeking God’s wisdom in jobs and work.  And it is indeed humbling to admit we cannot MAKE anything happen.  It is indeed in God’s hands.  And that is the point of this heart issue of fasting, that we finally have true perspective and acknowledge God as sovereign and ourselves as totally dependent on God for everything we have.  Which actually turns out to be a very freeing place to rest.  Because we know He’s good and worthy of our trust. 
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:16-17
I don’t know about you, but there are days where I’m like “why shower, I can’t have coffee anyway, too much effort…”  Jesus speaks directly to my heart here.  Or what about the times when someone offers me something that is not Daniel Fast compliant, and I whine “thanks but, I can’t, wahhhhhh…”   Jesus is instructing us here, “this is how NOT to fast” and the bottom line is don’t make it all about yourself!  I spend so much time thinking about how I’m feeling, how I’m responding, how I’m sorry for myself, and it’s just so much “I“.  And I love how Jesus gives us a solution to this…make it a secret!  God knows all our secrets and I can see Him just delighted when we decide to appear as if everything is normal (wash your face, put on your make-up or whatever it is) and no one will know I’m fasting.  It reminds me of the way young kids keep secrets together and can giggle because no one else knows.  
So we’re at the halfway point in this Daniel Fast and it is up to us, how are we going to finish this race?  Let’s be like Paul and strive onward toward the goal of not just completing the fast, but to let it transform our lives for Christ so that these three weeks will leave a permanent mark on our souls.   Let’s decide to return to the Lord, humble ourselves and keep a good secret with God, with all our heart. That’s the real how of this Daniel Fast.
~Elizabeth Toy Botero