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Day 39: Finding God after a Long Search

Augustine, wanted to be a committed Christian, but he couldn’t get to resolve one issue in his life, which was the lust of the flesh. He was determined to leave his mistress, and to start a fully Christian life for some time, but he did not know how to break with this sin, which was captivating his life.

One day, Anthony’s friend, Simplicianus, came to visit, and shared a story about a famous Roman philosopher, Victorianus, who converted to Christianity, and publically acknowledged it. This impacted his life strongly, as some of the Christians in higher ranks of society were not public about their faith, fearing being ridiculed.

Soon afterwards another friend visited him, Ponticianus, who was a high official in the emperor’s court, a Christian. Seeing the apostle Paul’s writings on Augustine’s desk, he shared with Augustine news about Anthony, the Egyptian monk, who lived in a solitude in the desert and many others were following his lifestyle of prayer and fasting. He told him about two of his friends, “secret service agents” from the emperor’s court, who visited a Christian house and found a book talking about life of Anthony. Upon reading the stories form that book, they wondered:

“Tell me, I beg you, what goal are we seeking in all these toils of ours? What is that we desire?…Can our hopes in the court rise higher than to be ‘friends of the emperor’? …But if I choose to become a friend of God, see, I can become one now.”

They were so touched and changed just by reading this testimony of a hermit, that one of them exclaimed:

“… I enter into that service from this hour in this place.”

While Ponticianus was talking, Augustine felt an unusual urge to reconsider his life. He was fighting within himself, remembering his prayers and suffering. He somehow tried to compose himself by rejecting the grace which was falling upon him, but after Ponticianus’ departure, he went to his other friend and exclaimed:

“What is the matter with us? What is this? What did you hear? The uninstructed start up and take heaven, and we - with all our learning but so little heart - see how we follow in flesh and blood!!!”

He went outside to a garden and his soul was struggling within him to say the final FIAT to God, started to cry with tears and with his voice:

“Will You be angry forever? How long? How long? Tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?”

Suddenly he heard a voice of a child chanting over and over:

“Pick it up, read it”.

Quickly he opened apostles Paul’s writings and his eyes fell on the passage:

“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

He was freed instantly. And that’s how the saint was born, know today as St. Augustine, one of the brightest minds and hearts of human kind.

Prayer on Finding God after a Long Search

by Augustine

Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you! You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you - the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.

all citations from “Confessions” by St. Augustine

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Day 25: The making of a saint - St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Then I received a grace which I have always looked upon as one of the greatest in my life because at that age I wasn't receiving the lights I'm now receiving when I am flooded with them. I considered that I was born for glory... After seven years in the religious life, I still am weak and imperfect. I always feel, however, the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint because I don't count on my merits since I have none, but I trust in Him who is Virtue and Holiness. God alone, content with my weak efforts, will raise me to Himself and make me a saint, clothing me in His infinite merits.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

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Day 24: Loving your family - St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Thérèse had a vivid sense of how human love is not diminished in heaven but intensified, and she looked forward to being able to love her sisters even more in the glorified life of heaven.

I was like an idiot... No one ever cause you as much trouble as I, and no one ever received as much love as you bestowed on me. Happily, I shall have heaven to avenge myself, for my Spouse in very rich and I shall draw from His treasures of love to repay you a hundredfold for all you suffered on my account.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

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Day 2: The Fulfillment of All Desire

I am reading during this 40-day fast a book by Ralph Martin called “The Fulfillment of All Desire”

YOU MUST READ IT

This is not a book only for those who think that they are called to a “life of prayer” (by the way, how else can we communicate and fellowship with God Himself?). It is not only for those who recognize an intercessory role as their primary function within the body of Christ. It’s not only for those who identify themselves as Catholic, Evangelical, Charismatic, Mystic, or Emergent church.

It’s for those who:

  • desire to acknowledge that there is a depth to the knowledge of God, which we, in our “instant society” are lacking profoundly
  • those who are experiencing hunger for God
  • those who love challenges
  • those who believe that inspiration of the past generations can be valuable
  • those who want to go deeper in understanding the ways to reach their Creator
  • those who need biblical proof that all of these mystics are right
  • don’t understand why things are happening, when they laid down their whole lives to Jesus
  • those who struggle with prayer life
  • those who are tired of seven-points-to-successful-prayer
  • those who are searching for the ancient truths spoken in a modern language
  • those who love God Himself above everything else, who burned the bridges, who know that there is nothing else to come back to, but are apprehensive of stepping into the unknown
  • those who want to become saints ( and I am quite serious about that one)

If you were struggling while reading “Fire within” by T. Dubay, this is “easier to read” version for the same subject - prayer.

WARNING

You will be messed up for some time, possibly for life…

You will discover (if you don’t know yet) that the whole body of Christ should be grateful to the Catholics for their wisdom…

You will wonder why no one told you these things before, and how come all of it is in the Bible…

You will discover something about yourself that someone else already knew hundreds years ago…

You will feel that you are a part of something bigger…

I will be quoting from this book during the fast to provoke you to buy it, read it, and live it! I hope you enjoy it as I do.

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Our 14th Wedding Anniversary

Over the course of 14 years, my beautiful wife and I have covered much territory and I am blessed to have been all over the world together with her. We have lived in three continents (Europe / Asia / North America), five countries (Russia / Poland / Saudi Arabia / Qatar / USA), seven cities, and 15 apartments/houses.

I began praying for Iwona when I was seven. Even though I did not know her name, I knew God knew who she was and where she was located. I prayed that wherever she was on earth, for God to encounter her, for her protection, for her purity, for her to prophesy over me and for our paths to cross in God's timing.

In 1991, during an extended fast in Russia, God asked me about the list that I had pertaining to my requirements of a perfect wife.

He said, "Do you want what you think is best or what I think is best?"

I said, "Of course--whatever You think is best!"

He told me to throw away my little list because it would be someone I would never suspect. One month later, Iwona arrived in Moscow to join our ministry staff. At that time, she spoke four languages. English was not one of them.

After a month, I was invited to her 26th birthday party. I observed at the party that Iwona was not eating, so I asked her roommate, Ania, who told me that Iwona was fasting. I asked Ania to interpret for me as I spoke with Iwona. I asked Iwona how long is she fasting and she said, "eighteen days". I thought 18 days was an odd number and then asked, "Why eighteen days?" She said that there were 18 staff members on our new church plant and that she was focusing each day on a different staff member. I was amazed and provoked!

I asked if she had prayed for me yet. She said she would be praying for me in two days. I asked her to tell me if God gave her anything for me. She kindly agreed. Two days later, there was a knock at my door. Ania handed me a three-page prophecy that she translated for me from Iwona. I closed my door, read it, and then cried for two days. I had never had a prophecy given to me before and this one melted my heart. It was like a love letter from God. I asked God, "Who is this Polish girl?"

He said, "This is the one you have been praying for since you were seven." At that point, I knew! I would have never guessed a four-year-older, Polish, Catholic girl who didn't speak English would be my wife-to-be.

With a Polish/Russian/English dictionary, we began to share our dreams, goals, hearts desires, visions and plans with each other. I never met someone who thought so much like me in my life.

After spending 11 days with her, at midnight on New Year's Eve, after sledding down a huge hill behind our apartment complex, she came right out and told me, "I did not come to Russia to waste my time in a relationship; I came here to win Russians to the Lord, so tell me if this is going somewhere or I do not have time for you." I gulped. I was not ready to say what God told me, but she threw the ball in my court and I had no choice but to tell her. I then said, "God told me that you are going to be my wife." She said, "Good, God told me you were going to be my husband." I said, "Well, so will you marry me?" She said, "Yes."

We then decided from that moment we would fast again until we each received three confirmations from God that this is His will. Twelve days later we broke the fast and shared with each other the three confirmations we each received.

I called my parents to tell them the good news. They were not to thrilled. Neither was my sending church. It is a long story that I may share at a later date or in our book. I was basically given a decision from my leadership: Leave Iwona and keep my youth group in Moscow or leave Russia and keep Iwona. They gave me a few days to think about it. I told them I did not need a few days; I knew my answer. I told them, "I am keeping Iwona because she is my future." I was told to leave Russia that very week and that I could not meet with the youth group to explain the reasons why I was leaving.

I had to return to America and Iwona to Poland. I was told that I could not see her for one year to prove that this love was true. I did not see her 15 months, as the test I had to pass.

From that cold Russian New Year's eve night in Moscow where I proposed to Iwona, it took two and a half years before all was said and done before we were able to get married!

As life has moved us closer together, we now have three beautiful kids, and she is still the woman of my dreams and always will be!

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