The Great American Fast: Interview with Lori Colbo
The second Weekend of each September Lifegate Baptist Church in Pleasant Gap, PA calls for a time of fasting and prayer on behalf of our nation. We are living in the last days, and the times are pressing.
As the founder of TGAF, this is an interview I did with Fast member and HubPages writer,Lori Colbo. Her insights are enlightening, and her wisdom great. Shall we begin?
Bill: Lori, thanks so much for joining us this week. Before we begin, why don't you tell us a little about yourself?
Lori: Well, I turned the big 6-0 this summer and I'm wondering how that happened. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and own my own small business taking care of pets while folks are out of town. I am also a writer like you Bill. A real passion for me. I have four grown sons and last time I counted I have twelve grandchildren ages 1 to 22. I also love making my own greeting cards and I've done some stand-up comedy. And of course love Jesus.
Bill: Pet sitter? Writer? A Mom? Greeting cards? Sounds like you have no problem keeping busy. That's great! Lori, I've been doing a study lately on the Laodicean church of Revelation 3 and the likenesses with the 21st-century American church, especially verse 20 where Jesus is outside the door of the church knocking to be allowed in. What do you think is necessary for the door to be opened here again in America?
Lori: Well, since He's knocking on the door of the Church, the Church needs to shut out the clamor of this world, (especially at this crazy election season) so they can hear Jesus knocking. It's kind of like when you're watching TV and all those high speed, obnoxiously loud commercials come on and you can't hear the doorbell or the phone ringing. When you shut everything out, you can hear His knock and open the door; and I must add, open the door and welcome Jesus to reside, not as a guest.
The country, the world needs the Church to show them the way to hope in this unprecedented time of turmoil, evil, and hopelessness. I saw a brief clip of Pastor Andy Stanley preaching about Christians need to, in his words, "knock it off" regarding fretting, pronouncing woe are we (I'm paraphrasing here) and getting angry as we watch our presidential race, and the rapidly spiraling down of our society, and the evil of terrorism. Stanley reminded everyone (and we shouldn't have to be told, that our hope is not in the leaders of our country, it is in the King of Kings. He also pointed out that our children are listening to us. We tell them to trust God but model fear and outrage. God is in control whether we see it or not. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
I've learned in my own life that when I can't see God through whatever I'm going through, and I'm despairing, I have to trust in what I know, not what I see, hear, and feel. What I know is from God's word, which tells me He is in control and we can trust Him completely. So if the Church turns off the noise of the world and opens the door to Christ we will be able to draw from His wellspring of joy and and peace and be guided to be shine a light to our world. It's the only way in my opinion. It's biblical.
Bill: Let's switch gears a bit. I suppose if we are to consider a corporate revival, we must begin with the individual. When it comes to an individual's walk with Christ, what do think is most necessary for personal revival?
Lori: I can tell you what it takes for me: to see and mourn my brokenness, my sin, my loss of trust and passion for Him, how I've limited my view of Him and to repent and return to Him.
Paul said "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death( 2 Cor. 7:10) In other words, our mourning and sorrow for our sin leads to salvation without regret, not as the sorrow of the world which leads to death. If you look at the Beatitudes you will see the process:
We are poor in spirit.
Which causes us to mourn,
Which leads to meekness,
which leads to hunger and thirst for righteousness,
then we become peacemakers - how our country and our world need us to be peacemakers -
and we are prepared for persecution, and we become the light and salt to the world. That process makes us blessed and will bless many in the world.
Bill: Let's switch gears one more time. Let's talk personal ministry. I know you've been working on a manuscript, Blackbird Has Spoken. I've read it, and it's a very powerful piece of literature. Can you share with us a little about your writing ministry?
Lori: My writing ministry has changed a great deal from the beginning several years ago. I started writing devotionals, articles on biblical themes, personal experiences as a Christian. I have written about other things, but as far as ministry, that is where I started. In this past year I've gone through a very dark valley and I found myself driven into the genres of fiction and poetry to share my story from despair to redemption and restoration in the poems and characters I've created.
Blackbird Has Spoken is so deeply personal because there are so many autobiographical elements. It chronicles the story of a young woman who has experienced great trauma in her life, and ends up on a psychiatric unit after an attempt to end her life. Sad to say I've been there. She meets a young woman with a similar background and they become dear friends. The other link between them is the hymn their grandmother's sang to them,
Morning has broken, like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.
I see the blackbird as heralding fresh hope that we receive every day; where God's mercies are new every morning, and that God is faithful, always. I've woven lots of tragedy and lots of light, grace and redemption into it. There are some scenes in the story that I've experienced, God moments. We so desperately need hope when the world is so dark you can't see or feel God. If one person can read one of my stories or poems and say "I see the light and I have hope," then they will have done what was intended.
My writing feels desperate of late to express the depths of what I've struggled with and where God has shown up in amazing ways. I know that there are people who are in my shoes, going through the things I've gone through and need the hope I have found. My writing has also been a means of educating people who don't understand psychiatric disorders and experiences, who judge them, stigmatize them, especially in the Church, although there's been some progress. When someone is broken and experiencing something you don't understand, whatever it is, the Bible does not say Brothers and sisters, give the brokenhearted your opinion; it doesn't say shame them; it doesn't say fix them; it doesn't say straighten them out, explain it, or teach them a lesson (that's God's role to teach the lessons).
We can't be like Job's three friends who tried to explain Job's suffering by telling him it was his fault and he was getting what he deserved. It's horrendous. No wonder he called them poor physicians.
The Bible tells us, Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience(Col.3:12).
So my core objectives in my writing ministry are to offer hope of redemption and restoration, and the exhortation to show compassion and give comfort to people who suffer everywhere.
Bill: We focus a lot here at TGAF on a movement of God upon a church, a town, even the nation. That would be ideal, but what are some practical steps an individual believer could take when seeking revival?
Lori: Get away from the clamors of life to be still with God. I'm talking beyond our regular quiet time and seek His face. Fasting is good. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate sin, confess it, repent of it, grieve before God, tell Him of your struggles. He knows them anyway and ask for the Spirit's help. Worship Him whether the feelings are there or not. Emotions are not the first thing. Faith is. Worship Him and develop an attitude of gratitude. If we are overflowing with gratitude, we see His glory and give him glory and our eyes are off the world. Seeking revival is an act of faith, an act of willingness.
The Lord has been bringing me to Luke 9:23-25:
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
That is where I want to be. To be completely sold out to Jesus at all cost. To love Him greater than ever before.
Bill: That's a good goal. It amazes me how many Christians seem to have an "I could care less" attitude. Sometimes, perhaps even much of the time, we as Christians can get in a rut. Do you have any advice for those who may be struggling spiritually at this time?
Lori: Well, I'm in that struggle. That take up your cross verse is my struggle right now. I'm not doing this interview as someone who has arrived. As to your question, I think I've been saying it all along, put God first no matter what and I also think spend a lot of time ministering to others.
There is something so powerful in getting out of ourselves and serving others - for Christ, not ourselves. That's what I do when I'm writing and I've been running into opportunities to minister to people in other ways. A friend of mine always says, "If you don't start somewhere, you'll never get anywhere." Just put your hands and feet to serve in every opportunity.
Bill: I think your friend has offered some good advise. Lori, there is a sign on the Niagra River just above Niagra Falls which says, "Point of No Return." Once someone passes that warning sign, they will no doubt be carried over the Falls. God has sent us many warnings. This is purely speculative, but do you think America has slipped past the point of no return? Is there still hope?
Lori: I remember seeing that sign. I'm going to give you my gut reaction to that question - NO! 2 Chron. 7:14 says, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
"My people" means the Church. Interesting that with this perverse national climate that God is not calling out Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Obama, our elected officials, the abortion industry, ISIS etc. He's telling US to turn from our wicked ways. Ouch! How humbling. I'm choking up on that. The ball is in our court if America stands any chance.
Bill: Well, Lori, I want to thank you for your thoughts and wisdom. Thank you as well for being willing to share them with us. As we wrap things up, are there any last thoughts you'd like to leave with our readers?
Lori: I think i'ts important to pray for our country and it's leaders, but I think the main focus really ought to be on their souls, not just that they will do right by us or that your candidate gets elected. We can't legislate righteousness. It has to come from a Christ transformed heart. And as the 2 Chron. verse said, we need to be praying repentance and revival so that we can influence the nation for Christ.
Bill: Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to discuss these things with us today. I appreciate you and your ministry and will be praying for you.
Lori: Thank you for this opportunity.