I have completed through day 22 and will do Day 23 tomorrow.
I feel a bit like I am coasting. God is not letting me off the hook. He continues to zero in on idolatry in my life, pointing out that my horse/family dream has been an idol. What have I longed for? What have I lost sleep over? What have I shed tears over? What have I manipulated, schemed, planned about? Nothing as much as I have this dream of having the four horses we have now be four horses that will take the four of us (my family and I) out on the trail.
This shouldn’t be. It doesn’t mean that the dream isn’t godly. It may or may not be. But I have bowed down to it. I have allowed my nearness to it or not to determine so much of how I will feel about things….God has convicted my heart of this.
I realize it may mean that I will need to do anything from the extreme of letting go of all four horses and never have horses ever again, to keeping the four we have and just changing my focus, to anything inbetween.
When he pointed this out to me, though, I began (through tears, of course), to beg him to please make it so clear what HE wanted. If HE has a new owner for any of them, HE would have to be sure I don’t miss it!!! I begged Him.
One thing has led to another and it appears that He is answering this prayer…but I will wait on Him for confirmation.
It has occurred to me repeatedly now just how crucial it is to develop a true heart of gratitude through this process. I have released 20 pounds. I lost 100 once with Weight Watchers and found them again…I believe because the focus was on ME and MY success. When WW stopped recognizing me for “maintaining” my ego wasn’t being fed! Stupid, huh? Anyhow, this time around, I don’t want the ego fed. I want to “feed” praises to God constantly! I want to constantly be ever mindful that HE has done an amazing work in me. HE has done it. Gosh, even the surrendering that has given Him access is a work done by HIM.
I can’t take any credit!
I have completed through day 22 and will do Day 23 tomorrow.
I completed day 20 this morning and I will spare you the gory details. LOL! I won’t say anything except that God is at work! SO much going on!!!!!
Day Nineteen – Opening the Prison Gates
1. From page 194, “What is the single greatest gift that God has bestowed on humankind? There can be no doubt that it is the forgiveness of all our sins in Christ. John MacArthur, Jr., says it well: ‘There would be no salvation, relationship to God, entering into heaven, no usefulness to God, and no relief of guilt, without the forgiveness of sin.’ Further, there would be no indwelling presence, no experience of His comfort and peace without the forgiveness of sin. We would be shattered by the awareness of our own sin without the revelation that we are now complete in Christ.” Respond to this quotation. How do you personally feel about the “single greatest gift?” Ponder it for a few minutes and journal your response.
Right now, God seems to be showing me so many things in my character he wants to change. I am brought to tears each day as I taste of the heartache of my pride. I can’t imagine being any more disappointed…convicted, saddened by all I have to offer. I think it is a bit like Isaiah in chapter 6 of his book where he says “Woe to me. I am a man of unclean lips…” And his guilt was taken away…and he was called to go forth. God’s amazing grace….grace for forgiveness, but grace to turn from sin, too. Grace to press forward in the newness of the forgiveness granted to him.I am so thankful for God’s gift. It gives such depth of meaning to the phrase “He is the lifter of my head.” Without Him lifting my head, I would be “undone!” I am also so thankful that he walks with us, step by step, enabling us by His Spirit.
2. On pages 194 and 195 there is a discussion of confession and repentance. How do you feel about what is taught here? How do you feel about the comments that the “observation” we have been doing is actually confession and the “correction” we have been doing is actually repentance? Compare this to what you have been taught previously about repentance. What does scripture teach leads us to repentance? Is it fear of God lowering the boom? Or something else? What?
God’s kindness leads me to repentance. It seems odd to me that humans can turn even repentance into something we take *pride* in. I am convinced that there is nothing protected from the insidious effects of pride. I want to be diligent not to allow pride to sneak into my worship, my prayer, my journaling, my speaking, my thinking….I know it does. It seems so ridiculous! Where does it come from? I have *nothing* to take pride *in* save Jesus….I don’t get it.
Anyhow, agreeing with God brings freedom. Observing my behavior with His eyes of holiness *and* His eyes of grace causes me to respond more in humility and be *willing* to correct. The same grace that brings salvation teaches us to say NO to ungodliness and wordly passions. (Do I sound like a broken record? God is really writing some things on my heart and on my life…it is painful, but also wonderful!)
4. On page 196 near the bottom, Debra shares her story. How can you identify with what she shares? Can you use her solution? Why? Why not?
I hit an emotional bottom yesterday. God revealed something devastating to me….it so hard. I came up to the house in tears (I had been out with the horses). I went to my room and cried and cried and cried. I can’t ever remember being in such a low, dark, sad place that felt so enveloping when I *didn’t* turn to food or at least think about food….I actually found myself praying, begging God. He has been using music a lot lately to minister to me….what came to my mind was “I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from. My help comes from you, Maker of Heaven, Creator of the earth, oh how I need your love….etc….” It was amazing. It wasn’t until later that I saw what He had done in me…causing a song in my heart to be a prayer to Him. But after that, I ended up doing some exercise time with the Dance Praise program on the computer. Thirty minutes later and I felt much better….This was nothing short of miraculous from where I sit. This wasn’t me. It was Him. It really was. If you know me at all, you know that this isn’t Heidi…nope….It is Christ in me, the hope of glory…I get that now. Because He is doing things in me, there really *is* hope. Not just an “I think I can I think I can pull myself up by the boot straps” sort of hope–but hope that is all about Jesus who shows up and transforms us from glory to glory….wow…Anyhow, I guess God was my means of coping with the pit I fell into yesterday. 🙂 Yay.
6. On page 198 you were encouraged to be very deliberate about forgiving yourself for anything that the Lord laid on your heart. How did this exercise go for you? What thoughts surfaced? What insights did you glean from this exercise?
I will be honest…and I was with Judy when I told her about this…I felt like it was hollow for me. I needed the exercise of forgiving myself or receiving God’s forgiveness for things I had done to be followed with a challenge or a reminder to repent of behaviors that will need me to do this exercise again. Without a turning from destructive behaviors, the forgiveness is somewhat short-lived. I know it was touched on in the chapter, but …well…it is touched on again following, but I think a written exercise about positive things I will do instead in the future. Like if something I needed to forgive myself was slothfulness, then I needed to be challenged “If grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present evil age, then what will you do differently?” or something like that. God asked me these things later, so it was ok, but until I figured out what was missing for me, it was very empty. Maybe because I rushed too much. I would say this was very significant for me.
Perfect timing, once again, for the material that I come to in the book! Wow! Chapter 18 focuses on godly boundaries using the story of Nehemiah. It is a great story, but I appreciate most the focus on godly boundaries.
My 12 year old daughter is in a holiday mood. She equates this with baking. I wonder if I have modeled this for her in past years. I don’t know. She rarely eats what she makes, it seems. (She is thin.) So now there is a big pan of brownies and a plate of sugar cookies. I have only sampled both…I realized when reading this chapter that God has been working on me in establishing my boundaries already. Frankly, brownies and cookies don’t do much for me any more. It is an astonishing work of His Spirit in my life.
Not that there isn’t any temptation, mind you. But it is a very tiny obnoxious little voice. In the past, with peppermint ice cream, sugar cookies, and brownies in my house I would rationalize that NOW isn’t the time to try to remain focused on TW. I wouldn’t even TRY to eat those things 0-5. Silly, huh?
The brownies have been here since Weds and I think all together the tiny bits I have had equal about 2 inches by 2 inches when put together. I had the tip of two Christmas tree sugar cookies yesterday and one whole cookie…not very satisfying. I won’t be tempted today.
Well, the book mentiones the categories of pleasers, teasers, total rejects, and whole body pleasers. The meal experience from day 15 showed me that a cheese enchilada from Cafe Delicias is definitely a WHOLE BODY PLEASER! YUM! 🙂 But not many other things are. This surprises me!
I am learning so much. It is such fun!
“We must remain even more vigilant, however, regarding what satisfies our souls, which is intimacy with the Lord. Wehole-body pleasers, regardless of the quantity, will never satisfy the emptiness that God wants to fill with His presence, power, and love. Let’s continue to participate in this journey, which is strengthening and building your spirit, mind, and body as a temple for His glory. ‘My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you’ (Psalm 63:5).” from page 189
I missed this before. Before, I wasn’t surrendered to him. Before, I hadn’t laid down MY will about things. Sure, I gave up food and ate 0-5 with success, but I couldn’t keep it off because it was MY performance. It didn’t seem like it, but without the pride being laid down, without the gratitude…it was a smoke screen hiding the truth. It isn’t about the food and eating. It is about belonging 100% to the Lord. I know I still am witholding….I had a miserable failure yesterday. Not food related, but related to pride….and it got me in a bunch of trouble….God used it to expose to me just how great a work is yet ahead.
I am still skeptical about myself. I have to remember it isn’t ME. It is HIM. He IS doing a new thing. I am not just saying that this time! He really IS and I DO perceive it! (Referring to the verse in Isaiah.) He IS completing the work He began…and he will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ (Phil 1:6).
Today is a big scary day to me. I am way out of my comfort zone. This is sort of one of those godly goals…being willing to be up front in front of people again when I have been hiding for a long while. Our family is lighting the advent candle today and doing a presentation on what we do to keep Christ in Christmas. This is during our church service this morning. At about 10:40 pacific time, we will be on. If you get this and want to pray, I would appreciate it!
Tonight, my daughter and I are in the Christmas radio play…front and center. My son and husband are doing lights and sound. I get knots in my stomach. I still want to hide….God is calling me out of my shame. HE is GOD. I am NOT. He WILL be exalted!
I think that day 17 holds a vital key. Again, it is as if God has been preparing my heart for this and even though I have read this material countless times, it is still new and fresh. I love how God can do that! His Spirit sees no barriers, but just does His amazing work. I am so thankful!
Gratitude is the theme of this day and this is something that God has been speaking to me about as well over the past month.
When I came to the point of finally letting go of my over-arching rebellion and anger and hurt and resentment against God because of my son’s autism…when I finally bowed my head (it took 14 years) and said, “You are God. I am not. Your ways are not my ways.”…it was immediately that he began working gratitude in my heart. I could see that as long as I held an attitude (again, of pride) that God had “wronged me” and that “I knew better”…I couldn’t possibly foster a life of gratitude. No matter how much I tried “giving thanks” with an act of my will, I kept coming up against this road block…He wanted me to thank him, in trust, for my son JUST THE WAY HE IS.
As soon as I felt acceptance that He is God in this and He has His purposes and I may never know them, but they are beyond fathoming and definitely beyond MY scrutiny…and that He didn’t have to “prove” to me that He had a “right” to do this to Daniel or to me (pairing us up)…gratitude began to flood my heart.
It didn’t hurt that, at the same time, I had my Lasik surgery done on my right eye and suddenly had physical sight given to me in a way that just floored me. It still does! I am soooo thankful that I don’t have to try to ride my horses in my glasses (I sweat and they fall off or steam up or both)…I LOVE seeing the detail out in nature. I LOVE seeing when I drive without glasses. I have always hated my glasses….
Anyhow, God used this event in my life to begin to till the soil of my heart with seeds of gratitude. I think that was why the Day 15 meal exercise had gratitude first thing…even if it was for finger prints.
I have found myself overwhelmed to tears at the amazing love of the Lord…this is not PMS! This isn’t tiredness and my being a weanie! It is very unfamiliar to me, but I think it is a softened heart! It floors me! Even today as I was working on a project, I read the verse about God wanting us to have no idols and if you read the entire verse in context, it sure seems like he equates any kind of idolatry as hating him. That broke my heart. It is so easy to say how wrong idolatry is….and yet I do it….if I thought of God feeling that I *hate* him…oh….I couldn’t do that to Him. I just couldn’t.
Anyhow, that is an example of how softhearted I have been lately. I have been reading my kids (we homeschool) their bible lesson and I have been moved to tears. (They are rather confused by these changes! LOL!) A Christmas song will even make me cry. Like Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel and Ransom Captive Israel….oh…even now that moves me. He paid my ransom *and* theirs. Israel (much of them anyhow) *missed* it. Have *I* missed it, too? Do I stay in my prison even though Jesus paid my ransom? Did he die in vain?
Anyhow, all that to say God has definitely been at work, moving me to focus on the bounty that I *have* rather than on what I don’t have. In the past, I was frustrated about my horses, for instance…I have four and I would bemoan the fact that “only one” is rideable. Gosh…I have ONE horse I can ride! It is a blast! It is WONDERFUL! I dreamed of having ONE horse I could ride all my life, I have one, and now I am acting like an ingrate!?????? No MORE!
I have three other horses who I delight in playing with…they are precious. I delight in their smell, their nicker, their nuzzling…I could go on and on.
I see that when I have a heart of gratitude, I can’t resume that place of pride. They are opposed to one another. When pride is allowed to go unchecked, I am not grateful. It is my heart’s desire to really beg God to make me grateful for every single thing and not take a bit of it for granted.
Years ago, I lost 100 pounds or so with Weight Watchers. Then, they didn’t really have a program in place to help someone like me maintain. I went from being the “star pupil” in my leader’s class to being no one…to being the one who was just supposed to “hang in.” There was no where for me to go but down! When I weighed in, I either “just maintained” or I gained!
Because my ego wasn’t getting stroked as it had for a year (it was all about the Path of MY Performance, after all), because it was all about ME and what *I* had done, MY performance…it didn’t last. It didn’t take much time at all for the weight to pour back on. I am convinced now that gratitude to God is what will keep taking the weight off me now and keep it off when it goes. If I dare to begin to allow pride back into the picture, I suddenly jump on to the path of my performance again–even doing Thin Within it is possible to do that. I don’t want to do that!!!!! If someone compliments me about the weight released and I in ANY way take credit, then pride is being given a chance to take root…gratitude to God is thrown out the window and I am not walking in God’s best or His truth.
No way. I won’t do this.
This isn’t just about being grateful to God about weight released, either. It is about everything…as I foster this character quality of thankfulness, appreciation, it, in turn continues to promote true humility in my life….This is about so much more than my physical body….and food.
The book says it like this:
“As we continue to be thankful to the Lord, we discover that the shackles of self-preoccupation and greed begin to fall away, that our incessant need or want for more food begins to diminish. We discover that we are being transformed from within. It is in this place of continued surrender that we lay before Him our hearts, our hunger, and, yes, our food…” page 175
I did Day 16 yesterday, but wrote about day 15 yesterday, so thought I would try to catch up this evening.
During day 16, some things really came to the forefront…actually, God keeps bringing them up. I have mentioned pride before.
I guess it occurs to me that it is easy to say that I am no longer in rebellion. That is the big thing, isn’t it? I mean, my response when I read the scripture about God hating rebellion…that it is to him as divination is to be aghast with myself that I would prolong my rebellion.
Somehow, I minimize that rebellion can be in the minute. One tiny choice to do my own thing “just because I want to”…even if it is “small” is based in pride. It, too, is rebellion. I want to sugar coat it. Dummy it down…make it not sting so much.
Yet any time I make my own choice, disregarding God’s best in the tiny moment, in the small choice….that is pride…it is sin.
I don’t mean just food either. But, God is using food to form and shape my character in this regard…it is ever and always in my face, it seems.
For instance, when I eat to a five and then say “I think I will end the meal with a tiny bite of brownie…” or when I know I am not at a 0 yet and I reason that I could have a healthy dose of salsa with a couple of chips and “it would be healthy, after all”…If the Holy Spirit objects and I minimize this choice…say “This isn’t any big deal…look at how I gave up half my bowl of cereal this morning…” or something similar. Gosh, I see it so clearly now. This is rooted in pride. My way, my will, my food, my choices, my life….
I got to be 50+ pounds over weight by these very attitudes. They may not have been over one tiny bite or over chips, but it was the same attitude. This isn’t about the food. It is about a heart transplant. It is about breaking the chains that I have allowed connecting me to food in *any* way. It is taking the verse in 1 Corinthians to the next level… “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. All things are permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything…” The freedom I have in Christ is wonderful, but it is for freedom…freedom from being mastered by chocolate, pizza…whatever…it is for freedom that Christ set me free (Galatians 5:1 I think). I am, therefore to put to death the deads of the flesh. Like indulging the lusts of my flesh at any level.
It isn’t about getting thin and impressing God. Nope. It is about my heart belonging to him.
I have been convicted that it is time to make beneficial choices like the verse says. Move on from just enjoying the fact that all foods are permissible when eating according to God’s marvelous plan of hunger and satisfaction. But maybe now it is time to move on from what is merely beneficial, to being more sensitive to what has mastery over me. Is the idol still on the throne of my life? Do I still cow to any certain food? Sure, maybe I eat it 0-5….but could I….NOT eat it? How would that affect me?
What is at the root of my unwillingness to give up caffeine in my diet coke? My will, my choices, my body….me me me. I continue to minimize this…yet it is something God has spoken to me about. “Oh, Lord…not that, too…I have given you everything else…are you really going to take my bubbles, too?” This isn’t about the food (or drink). This is about my heart.
Does it have mastery over me? Then maybe I need to eradicate it from my life for the time being. If I can’t say no to it, maybe I need to “fast” from it for a time. Like go a week (or even a day!) without any carbonated drink!
Does this make sense? Do you see where this leads? If I really break free from being mastered by anything other than the Lord, then food will be a non-issue.
Boy, I am sure going on and on….sorry. Can’t imagine anyone really reads these! LOL!
The book says it this way: We have begun to release our hold on demanding our way, which doesn’t have quite the appeal it did before we came to see Him as good, wise and sovereign. We see that we have an opportunity to make choices that are in agreement with His divine purposes. In this there is peace and rest. He is our ahtority. He is our king. His ways are good. We begin to understand that the delight and peace found in submission is worth far more than “our rights,” some of which we have relinquished.” (page 161)
All for now…I still wanted to share Day 17 thoughts!