You and Me Time

Do you have a relationship that is extra special in your life? A spouse, friend or family member, someone you make time for just because you enjoy the relationship and are blessed by it? How does it feel when you have not seen that person in a while? Something is missing, you feel out of sorts or lonely, perhaps… Have you ever had the thought or made the statement to that person, we need ‘you and me time’!?

This morning, as I rose to face the challenges of the day, I said to Jesus, ‘Lord, I don’t know where to begin.’ He said back quickly in my spirit, We need you and Me time.

Isn’t that amazing? He is so personal and loving. He knew the thing I most needed to settle my busy mind and sort my day was to sit in fellowship with Him. I needed to soak in His calming presence and our loving relationship. And He needed it, too. We don’t often think in those terms, but He desires our presence maybe more than we desire His.  He craves ‘you and Me time’ – those loving moments together!

So, with His prompting, I poured a steaming cup of coffee, grabbed my laptop and curled up on the sofa. The first thing I did was play a few worship songs. Godly music so quickly saturates the atmosphere around me and makes it holy. As I respond to the words, and use them to love my Father, Savior, and welcome His Spirit, His presence surrounds me with unconditional love and joy.

Reading and pondering His Word are the next step. It doesn’t have to be more than a verse or two. But getting Scripture inside us arms us against the assault of lies that constantly come from the world every day. Truth from His Word keeps our mind wise to the enemy and lights our steps.

Another thing I do is talk to the Lord, and listen. It is so common to think of prayer as mainly a one-way street. But it is actually a conversation.

When we learn to walk surrendered and filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin hearing the Lord speak to us. To grow our ability to hear Him, we must regularly embrace quiet… and listen. Over time, we begin recognizing His voice. He loves to surprise us at times how clearly His Spirit whispers words of love and guidance into our soul.

So, have you had your ‘You and me time’ with Jesus today?

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 NLT

The Burden of Pride

In my youth, I remember hearing often the comforting verse, cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (I Peter 5:7). The word care was understood to be some type of burden. At the time, in my young mind I thought a burden was only something that caused worry or sorrow.

This morning, the Spirit showed me that pride is as difficult a burden as worry. Maybe more difficult. Pride can be a lion ready to shred others at any provocation.

How quickly do we take offense to the slights of others? All it takes is a short drive down the road to bring out my lion. “She cut me off!” “He raced too fast around me, how dare he!” Pride lurks so close to the surface, it takes next to nothing to have it springing out, claws extended!

Yet, traffic offenses are mostly impersonal. Strangers cutting us off are nothing compared to someone familiar getting in your face and yelling at you in front of others. To fight off the lion in those moments and find grace and forgiveness is truly tough.

What do we do with this care, this burden that could become an out-of-control beast? Paul said cast it upon Christ. The word translated cast in I Peter 5:7 could mean either place it or throw it in Greek. The lion of pride is surely one that needs to be thrown! Don’t wait, or it might catch you with its claws in the process of trying to take someone else out.

The next time you are wounded by someone, and the burden of pride comes roaring out like a lion, throw it quickly upon Jesus! Let Him dissolve it into peace, reminding you He understands pain and humiliation very well, and let Him restore your spirit by filling you with His.

Land of Promise

Dear friends of Faith and Fasting, I am so pleased to announce that after two years of research and writing, my first book, Land of Promise, was published this month on Amazon.com!

This book takes a closer look at Old Testament prophecy and dares to suggest the U.S.A. was in prophecy all along, spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, for one, as a land where God’s people would gather in greater numbers in the last centuries.

It sounds crazy, I know, but the Biblical evidence is surprising and extremely compelling.

Anyway, I wanted you to be among the first to hear about Land of Promise. I’ve printed the Introduction here for you to sample. Have a blessed day!

 

INTRODUCTION

Masterfully and poetically, Isaiah prophesied the most pivotal events in human history. Isaiah foretold of a Redeemer coming to save a rebellious people. He comforted them with word of Redeemer’s long-awaited arrival. He described the suffering of that Servant. Then he promised glorious blessings of the people restored by Redeemer. In the simplest of terms, Isaiah is Messiah-centric.

Isaiah brought his message to life using relational and family concepts like widowhood, barrenness, and marriage. He talked of a new land for the bride, and birth of new children.

This book will eventually focus in on one specific topic of Isaiah’s prophecy. That is, where Isaiah gave descriptions regarding the new land, where the people restored by Redeemer would eventually dwell.

For an introductory glimpse, listen carefully to Isaiah 49:19-20:

19 Your desolate places and the land of your destruction will even now be too small for the inhabitants. 20 The children you will have after you have lost the others, will say… ‘the place is too small for me; give me a place where I can dwell.’

The prophet Isaiah let us know in this short passage that there would be a destroyed land and lost children. The prophecy of destroyed land was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.

He also revealed there would be so many new children that the old land of destruction would become much too small for them. Followers of Christ, having begun in Jerusalem, have grown and spread worldwide. Was that what Isaiah meant when he said the new children would need a bigger place to live, that they would someday cover the whole earth?

In one view, many well-established Bible scholars have insisted the new land Isaiah described is still a future fulfillment after the return of Christ, something God’s people will enjoy only in the Millennium. The Millennium, described briefly in Revelation, is the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth after His return.

But Isaiah’s very detailed descriptions, all the way down to soil content, perfectly match one particular land that exists now.

For many years, without explanation, I was overwhelmingly drawn to read Isaiah. Over and over, when I would pick up the Bible to read or study, I found myself landing in his prophetic chapters.

Each time I came across a mention of the ‘new land’ in Isaiah, I was intrigued and couldn’t help but silently ponder it sounded oddly familiar. The thought nagging my mind was it seemed very similar to United States history and makeup.

Certainly crazy and counter-culture in traditional circles, I barely mentioned my suspicions to anyone. It had long been declared absolute by so many Christian teachers that America is not in prophesy. Still, the prodding in my mind and spirit would not go away.

Finally, one day in the Fall of 2014, the Holy Spirit powerfully moved me to research America, to compare her to each of the descriptions in Isaiah regarding the new land for the followers of Redeemer. I wanted to hold up and thoroughly examine her founding, topography, and more, against every suspect passage in Isaiah.

My research began where Isaiah said the soil of the new land would contain multiple gemstones. With gemstone research as my cornerstone, I spent weeks studying in worldwide databases.

What I unearthed was overwhelming. The United States is saturated with multiple gemstones in her rocks and soil, far beyond any other country in the world.

The information to follow, uncovered over weeks and months, I can only describe as staggering. One by one, exact and distinct matches were found in America to all of Isaiah’s prophetic descriptions of the ‘future’ land until they added up to 100%.

There was no doubt in my mind we were a match. More than that, we were the head-and-shoulders-above-the-rest, single perfect match. Is it possible for such a thing to be a coincidence? Or, were we the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and scholars had somehow missed it?

By this time, my husband, aware of the growing research, was pushing me to finish. Still, I procrastinated. I’d never written a book. The scope of topics being challenged was overwhelming, and the fear of ridicule crippled me.

It seemed worthless, pointless to take on the traditional thought that has so long dominated. I couldn’t help but think it would be like trying to un-wedge people out of comfortable clay in which they had become practically cemented. And what if I was the wrong one?

Pressing me ever onward, one day the Spirit whispered to me, calculate the odds. What were the odds of one country in all of history being the clear, point-by-point match to every single prophecy of Isaiah’s new land? I had no idea how to calculate odds, but studied and learned.

When I finally put pencil to paper, my mind exploded again. The astronomical odds against one country being the identical match to Isaiah’s prophecy rendered it statistically impossible to have happened by chance. The numbers could not lie. No country could have been a perfect match, except by design.

In spite of this, my internal struggle persisted. I dreaded being labeled just one more pretentious American trying to elevate our far-from-perfect country to the level of ancient Israel.

Bottom line, how could I raise my hand and timidly suggest to an unwelcoming crowd that we might be another promised land right out of Scripture? That we might just be the dirty Cinderella whose foot inexplicably, perfectly, and exclusively fits into the glass slipper?

Regardless, the facts must be shared. The data demands hearing from a wider audience. And more importantly, if I’ve learned anything in life, when the Spirit hands you insight, revelation great or small, it must be proclaimed no matter the implications.

So, I bring you this evidence with timidity. Let’s be honest, it isn’t every day you challenge a paradigm or face down a giant. Still, it comforts me that a boy named David did just that once, and God was glorified in the outcome. And, this time around, there are more than just a few stones.

 

[Land of Promise is available as a Kindle ebook for $2.99, or in paperback for $7.99. To get your copy, click the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=land+of+promise+valerie+garcia&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aland+of+promise+valerie+garcia]

Three-Day Fast for America

This week, the Lord convicted me to put my faith to work before the election next Tuesday. He inspired me to fast three days this week, Thursday to Saturday, November 3-5, 2016. 

The only direction and goal for this fast: His Will Be Done. That is it. His Will Be Done.

Why fast before the election? Because I want to know, no matter what happens, that I did everything possible toward releasing God’s best plan for His nation. When a land of God is in rebellion as I believe America is, His blessings do not flow as before. I want to see God bring revival and renewal to our country and for all of His blessings to flow again, in and through us.

Child of God, if your health permits, will you join me?

If you cannot fast November 3-5, but feel led to participate, choose any three days leading up to the election and make your plans accordingly. Or fast one day, or one meal. Do what you are able to do. Every effort made by God’s people will have an impact! If you cannot fast (and please do not if your health does not allow), please join us by focusing your prayers for the election and our nation those three days.

We need the Lord to renew His protection upon this great country that gives so much around the world. As His blessings flow freely, we can continue to bless those in need at home and abroad!

If you agree this is important for the renewal of His people and our country, please share far and wide! 

For more information and tips on fasting, please see previous posts.

Notes:

If you are not trained in fasting, you do not have to cut out all food and beverages except water. You can take some tea, juice, if needed, even broth. Do not let yourself grow faint and weak, unable to meet the needs of your family or work. A solid food fast – i.e., taking liquids only – is better than no fast at all. The Lord will honor every effort. 

For a three-day fast, I recommend starting at 6:00 PM the night before, and ending the fast with a light meal after 6:00 PM on the 3rd day. This is a precise three-day fast.

 

 

Reexamining a Presidential Debate Quote

Hillary Clinton invoked a famous quote in at least two of her speeches now, and it occurred to me to put it into perspective for those who did not recognize the quote or know its true author. The quote is this: “America is great because America is good.”

She was quoting Alexis de Tocqueville, famous 19th century French historian, philosopher, and statesman. The way Hillary used the quote indicated she (or her speech writers) believed it to stand on its own, but I hope she and those who endeavor to lead this country will study more of de Tocqueville’s work, for he clearly and strongly identified his belief as to the source of American goodness. Let me explain.

Alexis de Tocqueville travelled to America in the mid-1800s to learn for himself the reasons for the amazing success of this young nation. Afterward, he wrote a work entitled, Democracy in America, and he went to great lengths to explain why he concluded America was good. Here are some excerpts:

Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention… 

In America I found (the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom) were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country. 

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society. 

…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth. 

In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people… 

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors… her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her… institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. 

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. 

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. 

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.

Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts — the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.

To Alexis de Tocqueville’s words, I say, “Amen!”

Hillary was right in repeating his statement, ‘America is great because America is good’. But, American goodness has been connected to something. It came out of unchanging, bedrock, Judeo-Christian values. And, according to de Toqueville, that was the true heart of our greatness.

Final thoughts: within de Tocqueville’s work is a very sober warning. American goodness and greatness are directly linked to Biblical values. Divorce the culture from those values, and we break ourselves away from all that made us great. How long will we stand detached from our foundation? It is something to think about.

Resources:One Nation Under God: Alexis de Tocqueville, pulled June 10, 2016 from http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/cdf/onug/detocq.html

Challenge to the People of God

For anyone who knows Christ, this is a quick, personal challenge burning in my heart today:

Do you find yourself despairing over the atmosphere of our country and the direction she is headed, the division, violence, etc? I know you are praying about it. But, have you fasted yet? Fasting is the ultimate spiritual weapon.

According to Christ, ‘some things are broken only by prayer and fasting.’ So, until we have fasted, the truth is we have not yet even begun to fight.

I wonder what would happen these next few weeks in our nation if all of us fasted for her one meal a week, or more?

Pass it on…

[Do not fast if you know you have a physical ailment that makes it unsafe! See a doctor, if you need to be sure!]

Finger of God Documentary

Spoiler alert: this is going to be a strange post about peculiar events in modern day Christian churches. It is just one possible interpretation of those events. No, this really doesn’t have anything to do with fasting. In fact, it is more about eating – at God’s banquet table.

Recently, we watched an intriguing and powerful documentary called, Finger of God, released in 2007 by Darren Wilson. It is available for instant watch on Netflix, along with several other documentaries by the same filmmaker.

Within the first few minutes, the viewer sees footage from several congregations, where members were miraculously given gold teeth during worship! Okay, I told you this would be strange. He showed clip after clip of the inside of the mouths of these congregants, and there they were: gold teeth! One, sometimes two gold teeth inside each recipient’s mouth.

Another older gentleman, for over 36 years at the time, was finding manna in his palm out of thin air, or inside His Bible by Revelation 2:17 (“to him who is overcoming, I will give to Him hidden manna”). Over and over. Can you imagine standing there, preoccupied and suddenly you feel something in your palm, only to look down and see you are holding a handful of manna? It was so odd, to be honest I found it hard to swallow at first. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

After pondering these peculiar phenomena for a couple of weeks, I finally took the time to do a little research, searching the Bible online for all references to teeth. Many verses came up, but nothing that jumped out. So I tried ‘tooth’. Again, nothing.

Next, I decided to do a general search for gold, since I was pretty sure a reference for ‘gold teeth’ would not come up. Hundreds of verses came up for ‘gold’, so I set out to scan through them as quickly as possible. I didn’t have much expectation of finding anything, truthfully.

However, it was when I came to Exodus 25 that my spirit went on high alert. In this passage, we find God telling Moses how to build the Ark of the Covenant and the covering for the ark, what we call the mercy seat. Immediately after this, He tells Moses how to build a table to hold the showbread, the symbol of God’s invitation to His table and fellowship.

As God is giving instructions for building the showbread table, His orders include adorning the top of the table in such a way that it appears surrounded with “crowns of gold” (Ex 25:24-25). The table would then hold 12 loaves of bread at all times to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

Did you hear that? A table with the appearance of  “gold crowns”, to hold the bread that represented fellowship between God and His people! At this point, I was thinking, would God literally bring a pun to life for a purpose?

Reading up a little on the showbread table, I found the following:

“Showbread” also was called “bread of the presence” because it was to be always in the Lord’s presence. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion (literally, sharing something in common) with man. It was like an invitation to a meal, an extension of friendship. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open. 

Jesus came to call sinners to Him, make them right with God, so that they could enjoy everlasting fellowship with God. 

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. … Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” (John 6:35, 49-50) 

God so desires our fellowship that He was willing to come to earth from heaven as our “bread of life” to give eternal life to all those who would partake in it. At Jesus’ last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus described Himself as bread again: 

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26) 

Jesus’ broken body is our only access to fellowship with God. Today, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or communion, to remember this important truth. And today, as in the day of Moses’ tabernacle, God still desires to have fellowship and sit down for a feast with His people. 

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20)

[From: http://the-tabernacle-place.com/articles/what_is_the_tabernacle/tabernacle_table_showbread]

Another snippet lends further insight:

The table symbolizes fellowship. It shows a gesture of friendship, as inviting a friend to share a meal. The table in the tabernacle shows God’s desire for fellowship with us. Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners because He sat and ate with them at the table. God wishes to satisfy our hunger

[From: http://bibletruth.net/florlane/tabernacle/BREAD~1.HTM]

Now, let’s bring all of this back to the strange phenomena of gold teeth and manna bread on God’s living children. And again, please understand, this is just one possible interpretation.

The New Testament tells us we in Christ are His living temple! God may have been using those peculiar happenings to demonstrate this truth. Perhaps these modern day believers in Christ became His living showbread table, complete with ‘gold crowns’, to hold His manna, His showbread!

If this was His intent, then He revealed us as connected directly to Old Testament Israel, through the symbolic representation of the temple’s showbread table and bread of His people. After all, as the Apostle Paul said, we are the ‘Israel of God’.

Maybe in addition to letting us know we are His people and His living temple, He is gently hinting that through us the world should always feel invited, loved and welcomed into His presence. More specifically, and because I believe filmmaker Darren Wilson has beautifully woven stories of God’s people loving the lost sheep back to Him, this phenomena may have been the perfect opening to the filmmaker’s documentary work. For his work itself is an invitation to fellowship with God, a living symbol of the showbread table.

In summary, without teeth one cannot eat bread. Perhaps God, placing crowns of gold on Christian believers’ teeth and manna in their hands, is reminding us in an incredibly personal and humorously creative way:

1) Christ is the bread of life, 2) He is able to satisfy spiritual hunger, 3) He welcomes all people into His fellowship, and 4) followers of Christ become His living temple beckoning all to His banquet invitation!

Well, regardless if you agree with this interpretation of the phenomena revealed in the documentary, the above summary statements are still true. So, let’s be about our Father’s business, shall we?