Monthly Archives: March 2012

Permissable, But Beneficial?

“‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything. ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

What stood out to me the first time I read these verses is the phrase “I will not be mastered by anything.” There are times that I feel helpless in this struggle, I will admit. I heard once – and I’m thinking maybe it was Dr. Phil who said it – that an addiction to food is one of the hardest things in life because we can’t just quit eating altogether. Alcoholics and drug users can say ‘never again’ but over-eaters have to learn a life of moderation – we HAVE to eat.

I’ve tried several diets. From “lose ten pounds in ten days” to the “South Beach Diet” to the “cabbage soup diet,” I’ve been there, done that. And I’ve lost some each time…only to gain it back when I quit. Each time I’ve wondered, is this what I should be eating? Or should I be cutting out that? I lost the most on the South Beach Diet, but it’s next to impossible for me to cut carbs completely out of my diet. No fruit, no bread, no sweets, no potatoes and no pasta = cranky me (after awhile). Then during my study on the book of Daniel, I saw that he RESOLVED not to DEFILE himself by eating the king’s royal food – he chose to eat only fruits and vegetables (see Daniel chapter one). So, I wondered should I not be eating meat, which is the opposite of the South Beach plan. Then I saw these verses above and remembered the old saying “all things in moderation.”

All things are permissible for us. BUT not all things are beneficial. So, it’s important to ask ourselves (and the Holy Spirit), is this benefiting me when I eat it? Is there something beneficial about ingesting what I’m about to eat? There are many times I have to say no, other than to satisfy a craving. And I must not be mastered by anything. If I know it’s not beneficial and I’m about to eat it, am I mastered by it? Can I say no and be okay? Can I say no to eating something and not be cranky? If there is a benefit in eating it, then I think by all means we should and not feel guilty.

While I know these verses are talking about sexual immorality, I’ve seen a few times in the Bible where sexual temptation and food indulgences seem to go hand-in-hand (maybe so husbands and wives can feel together in their quest to rid themselves of impurity in their lives…who knows?). This does talk about food, our stomachs and the fact that our body is meant for the Lord. And I want my body to be the best that it can be as an offering to my Savior, who has offered His body for me.
Dear Heavenly Father, first of all, once again I’m reminded of the price You paid for us, and I can’t thank You enough! I understand that while all things are permissible for us to eat, not everything is beneficial. So, help us to make wise choices and honor You with our bodies. Please give us moderation and may You be glorified in all we say and do. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

Your Body is Important to God

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Sometimes I think there is a general feeling that God doesn’t care all that much about our physical bodies. After all, what’s on the inside is what counts, right? But, I realized through my studying of Scripture on this very subject that God does care a great deal about how we treat our bodies.

To really make a permanent behavior change rather than just dieting, I have to constantly think about and change my perception of obesity. While many folks in our country struggle with their weight (myself included!), I realize that overeating and overindulging is actually sinful. [I’m not pointing the finger at anyone but myself here – after all, I’m just learning this myself].

The above verse notes that my physical body is the temple where God’s Holy Spirit lives. By overeating and giving into the laziness that seems to come so naturally to me, I’m destroying the very place where God desires to dwell. Yikes!

Why does it matter to God? I can’t begin to express His thoughts (other than what I read in the Bible) but some basic observations make me realize how important it is to be physically fit. For one, I heard a speaker who started a blog about being fit for service. There are times that God may call us to serve in an area where it will demand us to be physically fit – whether that’s able to go with less food on a missions trip or lifting children or running with a broken-hearted friend. It’s next to impossible to serve others if we ourselves are not in good health. Next, I also know from experience that when we’re carrying more weight than we’d like to be, we’re less likely to jump into social settings. We shy away from invitations to swim or gatherings where we feel awkward in our own skin. Being able to share Jesus comes most naturally when we feel confident in who we are. Finally, I think that we are able to relay what hope we’ve found in God when we are practicing good self-discipline in all areas of our life. Would you take advice from a drug addict? If the answer is no, why should someone take advice from you if you’re not free from an addiction to food?

While this may sound harsher than I mean for it to, I think a reality check sometimes is a good catalyst for change. I know for me, it was a humbling conclusion to come to when I realized that I was wearing my sin where everyone could see it. But, humility is a great place to start when you’re desiring a major life change! As the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:5, “God gives grace to the humble.” And, if you’re desiring major life change in the area of weight, then you’ll need a lot of that grace! It’s only by God’s power that we’ll be able to break free from addiction and start the path to being fit for His glory and service. May we continue to walk in the hope He gives us!

Dear Lord, it blows my mind that the Creator of the Universe would want to have His Spirit dwell within my temple. Please help me treat my body like the holy temple you’ve called it to be. Remind me, Holy Spirit, when I go to make a poor choice that You desire a better life for me. Thank You, Father God, for Your unending grace in this process. Please keep us humble and walking with You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

A Way Out

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

There are times, I admit, that I wonder how skinny people do it. I think they were born with better genes; and admittedly, some probably were. I also think that they don’t struggle the same way I do with craving certain foods or a second (or third if it’s really good!) helping of dinner or not enjoying sports or workouts. But, when I read this verse, I see that what tempts us is ‘common.’ It reminded me of a conversation I had with an extremely thin and physically fit gal I used to work with. She said “I’d love to eat a whole bag of Oreo cookies while watching TV, too (speaking about her husband at the time), but I don’t because I care more about my body than the snack.” It was a revelation to me. Someone who was thin also desired food; they just weren’t addicted to it like I was. They could say no.

This scripture also tells me that we, too, can say no. God will provide a way out when we are tempted. That way may not always seem easy, but it will be there! Look for it!

When I think about the number of pounds I need to lose as a whole, it seems daunting. But, if I focus one day at a time, one choice at a time, I think I can continue on this journey, with God’s help. A healthy body starts with one decision at a time. The hardest thing for me is to say no to food. But, I keep reminding myself, it gets easier every time I stand up and say no (finding that way out).

So, when you’re offered something that doesn’t fit in with your new lifestyle, simply say “no thank you.” It’s hard the first time, but you’ll feel so glad when the situation is over and you resisted the temptation. Each time gets a little easier; although I’m not sure it every gets truly ‘easy.’ As God prompts you in changing your lifestyle, submit to Him and resist temptations that come your way. There will be a way out!

Dear Jesus, we thank You that You provide a way out when temptation is knocking at our door. Lord, as we are entering this new chapter of our lives, please help us in seeing the way out – make it evident. I pray that we would have the will power to resist the devil and that he would flee from our lives in Your powerful name! Help us to submit to Your will for us and realize that You are faithful to help us with each choice, each decision, each day of our lives. Thank you, Father God, for drawing us nearer to You on our quest to be healthy for your glory. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

Don’t Destroy the Work of God for the Sake of Food

“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” Romans 14:20a

Yesterday as I was continuing to read Romans, this verse jumped off the page at me. Literally before I ate anything yesterday, all I kept hearing was this verse over and over again “don’t destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” Is that not powerful?

If you’re trying to lose weight, before eating, say this verse. It will help you make better decisions. Allow God to transform your habits and don’t destroy His mighty work in your life for the sake of food.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that Your Word is truth and meets us right where we’re at. I’m overwhelmed when I think that You are speaking directly to us! God, we confess there are times that we do destroy what You’re doing in our lives for something so meaningless as food. Please forgive our sin and change our habits. May we not go against Your will for something that is less satisfying in the long run. May we keep pressing on for You! We ask again that You make us healthy and thin for Your glory. We praise You and thank You. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Made New

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 3:22-24

This morning as I was reading Romans, I came to chapter 12 verse 2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Would you like to know what God’s will is for your life? Have you ever asked Him, Lord show me what You’re doing here? What’s next? According to this verse, the way to be able to test and approve what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Last week, part of my devotions (Ephesians 3:22-24) also dealt with this same principle. It says that we need to put off our former way of life (just like Romans says to not conform any longer to the pattern of this world). Then it talks about what our old self looks like – one that is corrupted by deceitful desires.

There’s an old expression that says “I think therefore I am.” But, really, “I think and then I act” would be more accurate. My old pastor said that thoughts fly into our minds like birds. We need to open the window and force them back out rather than allow them to stay and build a nest. When we think about things and desire things that are deceitful – like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, they look good but will hurt us in the end! – we eventually give into the thoughts and put them into action.

I’ve seen this take shape in the form of someone just occasionally allowing themselves to look at pornography on the Internet and then taking it to the next level of a full-blown affair. 😦 😦 😦

For me, when I think and think about unhealthy food and how amazing it sounds, eventually, I’m going to give into my cravings. But, it can be almost anything.

In my undergraduate thesis, one theory I used was Jackson’s behavioral model, which says that people’s actions come from their knowledge or thoughts. It’s so true! So, what can we do? First, we put off our old self. As the woman speaking at Study & Share said “we need to take off our old way of life like they are nasty, sweaty gym clothes.” Would we put them back on after we got a shower? No, we would want new, fresh clothes!!! Like the shower that we need to take, we must renew our minds after taking off our old selves. This is the key to a transformed life. How do we renew our minds? We read the Bible. It’s that simple. Nothing can transform our mind like renewing it with God’s Word.

Then, as we are “made new in the attitudes of our minds” we can “put on the new self, which is created to be like God.” I’m not sure how you picture Jesus, but I never once pictured Him as fat. Not ever. And since He was without sin, we need to try and be like Him. Our new self – clothed in Jesus’ robes – is supposed to be holy and pure and righteous like God. We’ve gotten rid of the old and washed in the blood while renewing our mind.

So, for anyone who struggles like I do with being overweight (although truly this principle can apply to trying any habit changes), the next key step is reading your Bible. Every day. I think this is a crucial step alongside praying. I’m not challenging you to a work out or telling you to quit eating. I’m simply saying that you can change if you allow your mind to be transformed. You can know God’s will for your life. You can be set free of your former ways of thinking and old habits. You can live an abundant life.

I’m giving you a challenge – start this week and read your Bible every morning. Before you eat, before you turn on your computer or television, before you even get dressed, take a moment to read something. You decide how much time you have – it could be as little as a couple verses or chapters and it could be a long, sweet time with the Lord. Don’t get bogged down in the details, just open the Bible and read. God is faithful! He will speak to you through His Word right where you’re at. You will see real life transformation – starting from the inside and reflecting to the outside.

Will you accept this challenge? If so, you can leave a comment. I’m excited to see what God will do in and through you if you’re willing to take this step!

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You for Your holiness. God, we thank You that we can discard our old selves and put on Your likeness. Please renew our attitudes, transform our minds, help us be more like You. God we long to know You. We’re seeking You wholeheartedly. Help us be faithful to spending time with You every day. Will You please transform our hearts and make this life change from the inside out? Will You make us healthy and thin for Your glory? May we never look the same again! In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!

He Stills the Hunger of Those He Cherishes

Psalm 17:14 b “You still the hunger of those You cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children.”

Lately in my quiet time with the Lord, I’m realizing how I have sought satisfaction from food. I didn’t use to believe it when I’d hear people say that overweight people were eating to fulfill their inner desires, etc. I would think “No, I eat because I’m hungry.” But, my recent Bible study challenged me to fast. And I realized that I eat many times when I’m not truly physically hungry. Instead, there are times that I’m bored or stressed, etc; but more than that, really, I’m looking to be satisfied. If I’m not feeling satisfied, I think a full belly will help me achieve that feeling.

But, I felt fairly convicted when I read Psalm 4:2 that says “How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?” God is the one who created a longing inside of us to be satisfied so that HE can fill it. When we look for other things to fill that void, it can be a form of idolatry. I didn’t mean to worship other things than Him, but I see over and over again how I turn to food when I feel empty.

When I’m busy or among friends, I find that I don’t eat as much. But, maybe I’m not feeling that same void that makes me want to dive into something tasty? Then I read the above verse: “You still the hunger of those You cherish…” from Psalm 17:14. And I’ve started asking God to still the hunger within me.

I can work really hard at the gym, but I’m not going to lose a pound unless I can get my eating habits under control. I remember hearing that two slice of pizza can wipe out an entire hour of an intense work out. 😦 How often I’ve done just that!

And, honestly, I want more than just weight change. I truly need a heart change. When I fasted, I felt downright awful. I was HUNGRY. But, I don’t often feel that hungry, honestly. I’m often eating mindlessly and on-the-go. I eat when I feel down, when I feel that it’s time (hungry or not) or when I have the moment and something looks good or I have a craving, etc. But, I’d rather be mindful of what I’m eating and why. If it’s not for physical sustenance, I’m praying that I’ll be able to stop and seek God first.

Can I find even more satisfaction from spending time with the Lord than with the food I’m about to partake? If the answer is yes, then that’s the direction I should go.

My current Bible study suggests reading a Psalm at meal times. It’s interesting how much more satisfied I feel when I actually read my Bible first. God longs to fill that place in our lives that we’re filling with other things. He tells us that He will still the hunger of those He cherishes. If you are in a relationship with Him, you are the apple of His eye. He will still that hunger within you if you’ll let Him. Please pray with me that we can both follow His lead in this area of our lives!

Dear Heavenly Father, we confess that we have been putting food as an idol in our lives. We didn’t even realize it, but as we really look and see that we’re eating beyond just to satisfy physical hunger, we know that we’re misusing a gift you’ve given us. We’ve tried to satisfy our cravings with something other than You. Please be our passion. Still the hunger within us. Help us eat only to sustain us and give us a satisfaction that comes through deepening our relationship with You. May people see a change within us that shines from the inside out. Help us be healthy and thin for Your ultimate glory. We ask forgiveness for our sins and for You to free us from the chains of our addiction. Break the cycle and help us move forward in living a life sold out for You! May we grow in our relationship with You, Father. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Don’t Give Up

Have you ever tried to gain traction on ice? I once was the passenger with a friend who had a sporty car and bald tires. As he was trying to impress me by letting his car do donuts in a snow storm, we ended up firmly planted in a snow bank on the side of the road. The laughter ended, though, when he tried to pull out and his tires simply spun and spun on the ice beneath. It was after midnight on Christmas Eve, and getting the car moving was going to be no easy task…

When someone who struggles with addiction or losing weight thinks about a major life change like being free and healthy, it often feels like my friend and I did that night. We try something small (with our own power) and our tires just spin, unable to gain traction and really break free and move forward. At this point, most of us give up.

But, Luke 18 begins “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Let me pause here and say if you’ve struggled with your weight or changing your life style in any way, I believe this is one of the keys to start gaining traction.

Going back, picking up in verse 2, Luke 18 continues “He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” 4 For some time he refused. But finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” 6 “And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?'”

So, here’s the key: be persistent in prayer. For awhile, I thought “Is it really justice to ask God to help me be healthy or is it His mercy since I’ve done this to myself?” Either way, ask God to make you healthy and thin. Every day! I often wondered what the last verse had to do with the rest of the story – does it seem strange to you to ask about the Son of Man finding faith on earth to end the parable of the persistent widow? I no longer think it a weird ending. Will God find us faithful in prayer? Will God see faith within us, true faith that HE can change us even if we have no ability to gain traction on our own?

For the average overweight person, even if you think that you have no will on your own to eat healthier or stop overindulging and no energy or time to work out, you still believe that you can pray. Start there! Commit to praying everyday to being healthier. Don’t fear asking God for help. After all, if He wanted to, I believe He could make us all wake up healthy and thin overnight. But, if you don’t wake up looking like you want to, don’t give up praying! That’s the whole point of this parable. Keep asking. Be persistent.

The start to any successful life change is consistent, persistent prayer. Ask God, and let Him give you traction as He fulfills your desires. If, over subsequent days, you find a moment to work out or are able to say no to an overindulgence, make sure to give Him credit for enabling you to make good choices. So often we ask God, He answers, and we forget to praise Him rather than ourselves for what’s happened. May it never be! As God answers your prayers, make a mental note to share your testimony with others. May God be glorified in our life changes!

To end my story from above, my risk-taking friend and I prayed that we’d make it home that night without having to walk in the freezing cold temperatures, and a family who was just coming home from their Christmas Eve festivities saw our stuck car and came down to help us push the car out and also put something under the tires to help them grip. It was enough to get us rolling. They wouldn’t accept our offer of money and simply smiled and waved as they went inside. They seemed like angels that night.

God will send the help. He will provide the traction. Don’t sit and spin your wheels and give up! Ask God and see how He delivers you.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for being amazing, all powerful, righteous and merciful. We confess, Lord, that we are in a place that we don’t want to be yet can’t seem to get traction in moving from here. Father God, in Your gracious mercy, with the blood of Jesus covering our sins, we ask that You would set us free from our habits, enable us to make wise choices, and You would provide the traction we need. Give us that push, put something under our tires, help us in any way you see fit. May we glorify You, God, with our bodies. Please make us healthy and thin, to serve You and to honor You, in the very temple where You live. We praise You, God, for answering our prayers. We believe, we trust You, and we KNOW You are faithful. Help us remain in You today. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Breaking Free

I started my weight loss journey a few years back after completing Beth Moore’s Bible study called “Breaking Free.” In it, I learned about generational bondage and how sin can entangle us like a literal yoke on our neck. I’ve been struggling with weight issues and eating my entire life. I had all but given up the struggle, figuring that I have been fat for a long time and will probably die obese.

But, after this study and realizing that God can do ANYTHING, I decided that I can’t ever quit – I must continue to to be free from this bondage, focusing on God’s strength to free me rather than my own. And, I’ve decided that I want to cut off this sin and its power to enslave before I pass it along to my children.

What people who are thin don’t understand is how much of a struggle it is lose weight. While people can say “just eat this and not this,” in the moment it feels like it’s next to impossible. And I don’t think you can workout enough to counter bad eating habits. I literally have felt like I was in chains. As much as my mind said one thing, my body and impulses were going another. I can’t seem to break the cycle!

But, I KNOW that God can. If I am ever truly healthy and thin, then it will all be to God’s glory. For this is an area of true struggle for me – to have Holy Spirit discipline and self-control. I continually pray for His power and help!

This morning as I was reading my Bible, I came to Acts 12. Peter was in prison, literally held captive in chains. BUT, the church was praying to God for Him, the Bible says (verse 5). So, an angel came to free him, and the “chains fell off Peter’s wrists” (verse 7). These verses stood out to me. If chains can literally just fall right off in this physical world, couldn’t God free me in the same sense from my struggles?

I noticed that this happened while the church was praying to God for him. So, I’m asking anyone who reads this to pray for me. And, if you struggle with the same area and would like me to pray for you, simply leave a comment and I will add you to my prayers as well. I KNOW God is faithful! I know He has the power! I’m believing I can be changed for Christ!

Dear Heavenly Father, we ask you to drop the chains of addiction off us. Please help us with discipline and self-control – give us the fruit of the Spirit and help us to obey You in every area of our lives. I feel like I have no power to change, but I thank You that YOU do have the power to change me! Please help us, Lord. May we be healthy and thin for Your glory! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!