When I calm down and take time to pray, I am reminded that it’s ok. God is ok with me throwing my tantrum because I am coming to Him. I am expressing my emotions and not stuffing them. I am not turning to food for comfort. I am talking to Him, even if it might be yelling at times.
It is then, in the quietness of my soul, the Lord gently reminds me that HE came to give me more. He came to give me life. He came as a baby in a dirty cow stall to give me peace. And hope. And joy. And completion in Him.
I am reminded how God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary when she was just a teenager to tell her that she was going to have a baby.
Not just any baby, mind you, but the SON OF GOD! Yes….not only that but she had not even been with a man. Oh and more….she was engaged to a man who could accuse her of having an adulterous affair. A stonable offence in that time.
I’m sure she thought that it was an impossible situation. She could have given a lot of excuses when Gabriel came to her why she wasn’t worthy. I’m sure she may have thought of some reasons why she was unable to have this baby. I’m sure she thought it was going to be hard. I’m sure she was scared.
In Luke’s gospel it states that she was “confused and disturbed” (Luke 1:29 NLT) or she was “thoroughly shaken” (MSG) when Gabriel came to her. What was the angel’s response to her? Did he say “you should not be disturbed”? or “Woe to you for being confused”?
No. Read his response:
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!”
And God reminds me in a whisper to my heart. “Don’t be afraid as you follow my boundaries for you through this difficult time of year, for you have found favor with God, my daughter!”
Just as the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary and told her how God would transform her life by bringing Jesus through her, God whispers to us that He will transform our lives as we also follow Him.
Mary was willing to step out in faith and follow God through what must have been one of the most difficult times in her life. She faced ridicule, shame and possible stoning. Yet she said to Gabriel
“I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said”
Mary was facing an impossible situation. Although it may seem like eating 0-5 is trivial compared to what Mary went through, our heart’s response is just as critical as hers. Our situation is just as important to the Lord as Mary’s was back then. And our impossible situations are POSSIBLE through HIM.
“Nothing is impossible with God.”(Luke 1:37) This is what the angel told Mary.
So it is with us. Whatever challenges you might be facing this Christmas, remember that God is right there with You to give you the strength and guidance you need.
That little baby born long ago came so we can be FREE today! He came so we can have life abundant in Him.
Jesus calls us forth to follow Him in everything we do. Let’s GO!
“Let us run our race marked out for us as we keep our eyes on Jesus”
How about you? Are you ready to follow Jesus with your eating? Are you willing to trust that God is with you and will help you in this?
This time of year it is easy to be wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of family gatherings, company parties, church dinners, gift and cookie exchanges. Although these may all be wonderful blessings, who has time to focus on 0 to 5 or be mindful about eating? (If we are honest, we know it takes even less time to eat 0 to 5 than to blow off our boundaries!) When we stop to acknowledge the reason the culture all around us has changed its pace (and will again on December 25th), we become keenly aware that the One Who loves us most calls to us…
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
In the middle of the chaos, craziness, and crunched schedules, can we still our hearts and take a deep breath? Can we turn our hearts–our focus–to the One who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17)? Can we whisper a quick prayer acknowledging His Presence in our midst?
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
When we neglect these moments of stolen, reverent silence before our God, we are like a tourist taking a photograph through a telephoto lens that is auto-focused on a rock instead of on the historic fort in the distance. The photo has become all about the rock while what matters most is all a blur. The focus is off.
There are some things that this world was never meant to satisfy. The King of the Universe has created a God-shaped hole in our souls (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and only He can adequately fill that hole.
Not more busy-ness.
Not more stuff.
Not more food.
Not more of being the “hostess-with-the-mostest.”
He wants to infuse our lives with His joy and His peace. His peace passes understanding and His joy is boundless even in the middle of any holiday crisis, mall traffic jam, or burned-ham fiasco! But we do need to quiet our hearts and minds–cease from spinning with the what-ifs and maybe-sos–to recognize Him and welcome the peace and joy He promises (John 14:27; John 15:11). We need to be intentional with our focus to seize the victory He has in mind for us!
A practical way to do this is to set a watch or phone timer to go off every couple of hours. When the alarm sounds, it serves as a reminder to turn our thoughts in a Godward direction: “Thank you for this moment. I am so grateful that You are mindful of me, Lord.” “Lord, I need you right now. Please help me with this project.” “Thank you for the festive lights decorating the boulevard, Jesus! They remind me that You are the light of the world!” “Please be with that shopper who looked so sad, Lord.” “Thank you that you are my good Shepherd and you lead me beside still waters, even on this freeway!”
Doing this regularly has trained me to be more mindful that Jesus is with me even when I don’t use a timer. Jesus is with me through the white elephant gifts, secret Santa shopping, when I am stuck in a storm in gridlock traffic, and when I collapse in a hot bath at the end of the day. And He is with me when I eat before I am at a 0, yell at the kids or cut in front of the rude lady in line at Target.
I know that especially in those moments I can be still and know He is God. His peace and joy will bring all the rest of life into complete and perfect focus and help me submit my will to Him in those more harried moments. Will I quiet my heart and mind and focus on what really matters for a few moments? Will you?
What About You?
What can you do (practically) to regain your focus through the holiday season? Try it and share with us in the comments how God blesses these sacred moments with His Presence.
End the year on a positive note. Be intentional to bring some focus to the rest of your 2015 by joining our study of the Thin Within trade book starting on November 30th (Monday). We will read the Thin Within book in record time, pray for one another and share our victories and challenges! We will finish by January 1st. Visit our Online Classes page and sign up for the Thin Within book study. We would love to have you! This is especially helpful if you couldn’t quite manage the 12 week workbook class. 🙂 This is only 33 days. We can *do* that! 🙂
At church this morning, the teaching was on Love and Galatians 5:22-26, and because of the way that God is working in my own heart and mind, I took some time to meditate on these scriptures as they relate to my journey in Hunger Within. I gave myself an assignment: How do I live out the Fruit of the Spirit? The assignment wasn’t easy, but here is what I came up with.
The first Fruit of the Spirit is Love. In and of myself, I am very lacking in the fruit of love. In my flesh, I tend more towards frustration and criticism. I don’t like this about myself and it hurts to even admit this, but this is me when I am not renewing my mind and immersing myself in God’s Word. Can you relate? These feelings can draw me into destructive eating. But, because of the Holy Spirit leading me to let go of my self-absorbed focus concerning my body, my weight, my food issues, I am choosing to love more. It is easier to ask God to love others through me because I am not looking down at myself, but up to the LORD and around at others. I am seeing this fruit being manifested in my life.
The second Fruit of the Spirit is Joy. Most people who know me say that I am outgoing and fun to be around. That is the façade that I show to the outside world. But have I been joy-filled? Not always. I have leaned more towards joy in my life because I have always loved the scripture that says, “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” Unfortunately, this is me when I am by myself! That kind of joy could be better defined as happiness. When you add my family, my friends, my church family, my co-workers, my acquaintances, joy is not usually what I feel in my heart. Why? Because, in my flesh, I get aggravated and frustrated. It isn’t the true joy that comes from walking closely with the Lord that isn’t dependent on what is going on around me. It is only when I allow the Holy Spirit to work in every area of my life that I can truly feel and experience joy in all circumstances.
The third Fruit of the Spirit is Peace. I love peace. I used to love singing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Sadly, I can show a peaceable exterior, but underneath it all, there is often chaos. It is so easy to get caught up in the drama of life; especially with my family! How can I exhibit peace in my life when so much chaos is always going on around me? Only by pausing and asking God to grant me peace in the storm of life. Could I ever stop and pray if I am caught up in the drama of others around me and also living with the internal drama of body and food focus? No, I couldn’t. Working through the issues that have caused me to be discontented in the first place and by going to God with thanksgiving and prayer, I can experience the peace of God that surpasses every thought and will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
The fourth Fruit of the Spirit is Patience. This is a hard one for me! I am fond of saying that patience is not a muscle I was born with and have also been known for blaming my mother for teaching me impatience by her modeling of this behavior. It isn’t her fault though. Have you heard people say, “Don’t pray for patience or you will be put in situations where you have to learn patience?” I used to say that too. I’ve decided I want to pray for patience, for through trials, God’s Word promises that when I count it all joy when I fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces patience, and then I let patience have its perfect work, that I may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I want that in my life.
The fifth Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness. Let me come clean about how I have been kind in the past. I am always kind to a person’s face, but in my past, I have often turned around and talked badly about that person if there was anything about them that rubbed me the wrong way. God has changed my heart towards others through my almost constant prayer to let me see others through His eyes. He has answered this prayer and has given me a spirit of discernment to see what others are going through. Kindness is being friendly, generous and considerate. Teaching in Hunger Within has grown my kindness muscle as God works through my life to help others.
The sixth Fruit of the Spirit is faith. We know from God’s Word that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I personally met the Lord Jesus Christ at church camp when I was 9 years old and my faith has been growing ever since. There have been trials and struggles that I never would have made it through without Him. He has proven to me that His hand has been on my life even when I was backsliding. His presence never left me. I not only hoped for a Savior, I had faith that I met the unseen Savior in person. Dear reader, if you have not personally met Jesus, please let me share my faith with you!
The seventh Fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness. I didn’t quite understand this word till I realized that one of its opposites is pride. God is diligently working in my life to break my pride. He has shown me how I want to do things in my own strength, and to be gentle in spirit, I need to place my strength under the control of God. I am finding that in order for me to be gentle with others, I have to give up my right to be right which drives others away from me. I want to allow the Jesus in me to draw others, so I pray to be gentle and let my Shepherd lead me.
Finally, the eighth Fruit of the Spirit is Self-Control. This is interesting, because in myself, I really don’t have any self-control. I find self-control by turning my whole life and heart over to God and allow Him to move in me. He gives me the desire to follow His leading in my 0 to 5 eating boundaries. He gives me the desire to follow as He leads me into having boundaries around relationships. He gives me self-control when I feel myself getting frustrated and critical. It is His strength that keeps me from acting out those feelings by either hurting another with unkind words or myself by eating outside of my boundaries.
I am not living the Fruit of the Spirit perfectly, for I won’t be perfect till I meet the Lord Jesus face to face. What I am enjoying is the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart as I do see more and more evidences of the Fruit in my life.
What about you? Are you willing to do this assignment along with me? I would love to hear how you are “Living in the Fruit of the Spirit!”
I have been thinking a lot lately about my grave clothes: the ones the LORD has already removed and the ones that remain. These are the grave clothes that are removed layer by layer after Jesus called me forth, just as He did Lazarus, from the tomb of bondage and disordered eating into the bright light of His healing grace. There are other analogies about this removing process. Most of us have heard about peeling the onion. Both pictures are wonderful for giving us a visual of what happens as we surrender our pasts, our presents and our futures to the LORD for His healing. Each layer is removed to reveal another. Each layer removed takes us into deeper and deeper relationship with our Sovereign and Loving Father. I don’t know if anyone else has thought about what removing grave clothes or peeling onions have in common along with leading us into freedom? I have. They both stink. They smell. They can even lead to tears. This isn’t a bad thing. It is a needed thing for healing from our damaged emotions and our disordered eating patterns. But what I want to share today doesn’t stink. In fact it smells pretty good!
In Sunday school this week I was given a new picture about what we are doing in Hunger Within concerning the same surrender that leads to grave clothes being removed. We were asked to read a short paragraph from “Restoring Broken Things” by Scotty Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman. This paragraph talked about God’s perfect creation that became affected with the illness of sin after the fall of man in Genesis. Then it pointed to healing for those who are redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. So in looking at the story of our lives, we were asked to picture a spectacular rose bud. I love roses so this wasn’t a difficult thing to do. The next step was the difficult one. We were to decide if we see ourselves as a diseased rose bud that is now being healed or one where the petals have been torn off and thrown onto the ground. I couldn’t help at this point to think of what God has been doing in my life through Hunger Within.
At one point of my life, I was like the rose bud that was diseased and the petals were being removed, and I was the one removing them! This is great picture of my life when I was filled with discontent and striving and struggling to make things happen on my own. This was back when I thought I could control things and the more out of control my life became, the more I ran to my false comforts of food and other mind numbing substances and activities. God wanted to heal me, but instead, I was tearing myself apart like the diseased rose bud with its petals being torn off and thrown to the ground.
Now in my heart that is surrendered to the Lord, I can see myself as the once diseased rose bud that is being healed. I can picture my dried out bud being renewed and refreshed with daily living water through Jesus and the Word of God. I can picture the Holy Spirit breathing life giving oxygen to my healing rose bud. I can feel the life that was once discontented and un-surrendered being given new and abundant life through the healing work being done by my Loving Father.
Here is the exciting part! This healing process isn’t just about what we are letting go, but also about what we are gaining. Just as each grave cloth removed represents letting go of a part of my damaged emotions, feelings and behaviors, I can see what is represented by picturing that rose bud that is healing and is blooming into new life. Many of us know what our grave clothes are, and if you don’t, I suggest reading and working through the book Hunger Within. But, what about the rose bud and its petals? I see each petal opening as a gift that God is giving me as my grave clothes are being removed. These gifts are evidence of a heart that is changed. What do these petals represent in my life? I have the peace that passes all understanding. I have joy that is unspeakable. I experience contentment and abundant life no matter what the circumstances or trials I face. I believe without a doubt in the healing power of the Holy Spirit working in my life. I am no longer self-focused, but God focused. I no longer obsess about my weight, what I eat or don’t eat, or if I should go on or off of a diet. When I feel frustrations come up (after all we won’t be perfect till we go home to be with the Lord!) I write them out in my Truth Journal, work through them in the Word, and then release them to God in prayer.
Years ago I thought I wanted this healing, but for whatever reasons or excuses, I never really surrendered. I still wanted to sing as Frank Sinatra did, “I did it my way!!” Dear friends, doing it our way never works. Doing it our way equates to what is said in Colossians 2:8: “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” Surrendering on the other hand is lived out in Colossians 2:6-7 which states, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
What about you? What type of rose bud do you see as yourself? Will you surrender to being rooted in Him and will you join with me in praying Ephesians 3:16-19 for us all? “I pray that He may grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and that the Messiah may dwell in our hearts through faith. I pray that we, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so we may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
One of the first things I came in contact with when I was looking for a different way to control my yo-yo weight, my constant focus on my current diet, the next diet or going off my diet because I really just wanted to eat the way I wanted to in the amounts I wanted to, is these verses found in Romans 12:1-2. I’ve read through my Bible a few times, and have read the book of Romans many times with special focusing on certain verses, so I can say I have read this verse more times than I can remember. It is even written in many of my journals and I have written a scripture prayer around it. It’s easy to remember and throw out when pointing out someone else’s sin or for pointing out how we as Christ followers should not be like those around us who aren’t. It’s like a good friend where sometimes familiarity breeds contempt.
When I started letting go of my constant focus on food and food issues, and really started surrendering to what God’s Word was saying to me, I came up short by these verses. You see, there is power in the Word of God. There are promises that are full of truth and change for us when we actually do what God’s Word says. I was playing on the outskirts of this new program and community I had found, having a day or two of 0 to 5 eating, then a day where I ate all day long, then a day where I may eat only one meal from being stuffed from the day before. I believe I had traded my dieting by following my favorite food plan for a “new” dieting method…0 to 5 eating. What I found was that it wasn’t working for me and I couldn’t figure out why. I was reading the book. I was making truth cards. I was journaling. What was wrong??
The truth was I was still conforming to this world. I sought out TW/HW to lose weight. I saw where others had lost weight quickly and boy was I on board. The missing part was that I was not spending the time and energy I needed to in having my mind transformed. Through my familiarity with these verses, I can honestly say I didn’t quite believe them. I don’t think for one moment that I am alone in the boat of crying out to God many times over my lifetime for help and healing from weight issues and the compulsion that I had about food. I am sure that many of you, just like me, has seen God work in HUGE ways over BIG issues that have come against us. But, what about this weight thing? Isn’t it my fault that I have walked in the shoes of being overweight? Since it is my sin of gluttony that landed me here, then shouldn’t I be able to get myself out?? In my heart of hearts, do I really believe that God really cares about what or how much I put into my mouth? Or, the question that I am sure hurts our Loving Almighty Father so much when we utter it: Does God love me enough to cure me from my addiction to disordered eating? Do I really believe deep down in my soul that God can and will transform my mind in this area? Do I really believe that I will change?
The answer is YES!! I didn’t believe it at first, but now I assuredly say that yes, God is still in the business of changing hearts and minds! Because that is the transformation that God is making in me. And I know that God can and will transform you too. Can I be blunt? I see a generation of people who call themselves Christians who are happily conforming to this world. I see many Christians getting caught up in fear and “what ifs” without remembering that we love and praise and serve an All Knowing, All Seeing, Ever Present, All Powerful Sovereign God. He has always been in the business of taking people who have been broken and crushed by the world and it’s ways, and creating from them something beautiful. There are so many pithy phrases we use to say this…like, God uses cracked pots. What I am seeing though is that in many ways, we are happy being a cracked pot and really don’t believe there is anything else better for us. In essence, we don’t really believe that God will take the cracked pot that we are and use His mighty super glue to heal all those fractures.
What I am saying here is as much for me as for anyone else. My heart breaks though when I see a group of believers that still get so caught up in legalism. What I mean is that even with the God given bodily boundaries of eating 0 to 5, there has to be more, like counting calories within 0 to 5, or counting carbs (we know this is a good medical practice with certain health issues, so continue with following your doctor’s orders) within 0 to 5, or checking after each small bite if that was the one that put me at a 5 and not at a 5.25. Believe me, I feel the draw, but each time I do, God transforms my mind around it. The other thing that breaks my heart is the easy way in which we fall off and say that’s okay. It is like saying God isn’t really working. Where is the cry to Him to change our hearts once and for all?? Our God is the Great Physician and He does and can completely heal us from the compulsion of disordered eating. It takes belief. Sold out belief that the God we know is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and as He was in the business of miracle making in the Bible, He can and will be in the business of miracle making in my life and yours.
Do you believe that? Will you believe that? This is the transforming message of the HW material. I know that God is using it to transform me. Will you join me in the journey?
I am so grateful to be a member of TW/HW. I know without a doubt that my Loving Father led me to this community of healing and change. God led me to the place I needed to be when I fully cried out to Him in despair. It isn’t that what I have read and studied since arriving here is something completely new or different from what I have read or studied through other Biblical weight loss programs. I wasn’t new to setting boundaries around my eating (although those boundaries were never clear and were apt to change with the wind), or going to God through His Word and in prayer in times of stress and temptation (although I didn’t have a firm foundation in this practice). What God did introduce me to when landing in TW/HW is women and men who have changed lives. Women and men who have accepted the pleasant boundary of eating within the hunger scale of 0 to 5, and who through letting go of all the legalism of trying to control their weight on their own have met the only true Healer. I saw something that I wanted. I wanted their freedom from the compulsion. That was my cry to God, that I couldn’t do this weight and eating thing on my own anymore. I was beaten and He heard my cry and brought me here.
It is in the groups of TW/HW that I found the truth of Hebrews 12:1 as it pertains to my sin of obsession with diets, body image and weight control. It says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” That great cloud of witnesses is the gals and guys that have used TW/HW in their lives and have been set free. Some have lost a lot of weight, some a little. Some still struggle with the pull back into what the world tells us we need to do. But the tools are there and through using them they have found freedom from the obsession; the freedom from striving and working and striving some more. What a beautiful thing that freedom is when it invades your life!! It has invaded mine!!
I have to admit that I was afraid at first. After all, if I could eat only when I am really hungry and stop when comfortably satisfied, I wouldn’t need this plan at all!! In fact, when I started in my first HW study, I didn’t “get real” till half way through. I was still trying to control things and it wasn’t till I realized that my body wasn’t reflecting what was coming out of my mouth, that I came to the place of surrender. I had to come face to face with the fact that God’s way of changing me wasn’t my way of speedy weight loss and the kudos of my friends and family on how great I looked. Jesus was asking me the same question that He asked the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9), “Do you want to get well?” That’s a tough question because I had run to food for all kinds of emotions for so many long years that I was afraid of letting that comfort go. The food was always there in good times and bad. But, it wasn’t my friend. It was just a thing I ran to instead of God. So I let go. I quit eating all day long. I imperfectly started eating 0 to 5. My mind cleared from the food fog. God took me deeper into His Word because I wanted more of Him in my life. I no longer weigh myself to see how “good” or “bad” I am. I am releasing weight at a slow pace that I am content with (God is breaking my pride through this). My clothes are loose and I am fitting into a smaller size. Some days I think I want to know what the scale would say about my progress, but only for a moment. Then I remember the sweet feeling of peace that comes from placing all that old thinking into my past. It is no longer a part of my current life and with God’s strength and help will not be a part of my future. In letting go of my legalistic past Psalm 63:1-8 has become the prayer and praise of my heart.
Psalm 63:1-8 1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
Are you crying out to God right now for relief from the compulsions that rise up around your own body image and weight loss/gain history? If you are reading this, then I am sure you are searching. You have come to the right place, because TW/HW works. It works when you can say with all your heart and mind, “Yes, Jesus!! I want to get well!!” You don’t have to work and strive. You don’t have to create a plan or “decide” what you want your boundaries to be. They are there already, tried and true, in 0 to 5 eating. Back in January, 2015, I wrote on the first page of a new journal, Jesus says in John 8:31-32 that I am His disciple IF I abide in His Word. THEN I will know the truth and that truth shall make me free. My job: Abide in His Word. HIS job: Teach me His truth and He will set me free. In order to really abide in His Word, I had to surrender: My plan, what I thought I wanted, what I knew was blocking me from Him. Are you ready to surrender?