“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
In this passage Paul urges us to keep ourselves spiritually fit. He stresses the necessity of self-discipline and the danger of flaunting one’s liberties. The believer must practice self- denial and self-control. In Matthew Henry’s commentary he says, “The body must be made to serve the mind, not suffered to lord over it.”
This past Sunday morning I awoke at 3:30 a.m. with this passage front and center of my mind. It was one of those times the Lord impressed upon me to get up and get before him. And so I grabbed my coffee, bible and journal and headed to the living room where I sat for the next three hours as the Lord showed me the seriousness of my choice to waiver between obedience and disobedience where the sin of gluttony is concerned.
In Chapter 8 of Hunger Within we read of the “Holy Struggle” we are faced with. And we’re reminded that “this choice of putting off and putting on is one we will face daily throughout our life because we will always have areas where we are tempted.” Earlier in this chapter we read, “Our hunger within has at its core a demand that our needs be met. To those of us who struggle with food, eating, and weight, this hunger – even though it has no physical basis – insists that we be fed. When we acknowledge our hunger within, we often seek food to satisfy our unmet needs. This is the essence of addictive behavior – turning to the quick fix when our emotions are high, when the pain is throbbing.” So when God says, “Wait” or “Be patient, I am feeding you,” often our response is, “Well, great, but it’s not what I ordered.” We struggle against God’s request for patience because everything in us is clamoring, “No!” This hunger doesn’t feel good. It hurts and I want to feel better right now! Feed it!” The chapter goes on to state this sobering truth, “At the heart of our flesh patterns is the sin of idolatry. We think God is not good and will not give us the desires of our heart, so instead of cultivating our interior life with God, we look for life elsewhere by seeking external pleasures.”
For those of us who have been with Thin Within for any length of time, and/or have been given to spiritual growth over a long period of time there comes a point when we are simply called to put into practice what we’ve learned and stop subjecting our behavior to the mental lies we choose to embrace. It’s as if the Lord says, “Enough already! It’s time to practice what you preach more often than vacillating.” This is especially important if you want to share the Thin Within message with others, particularly by example. Paul deeply valued being qualified for service to the Lord and to those the Lord called him to impact. Therefore, the issue of self-discipline, self-denial, self-control, etc. was paramount within his personal constitution. It was not a matter of personal preference but obedience to the One who called him to serve, the One he loved more than anything or anyone else, including himself.
Folks, our lives are no different. We’re either committed to walking out obedience as best we know how, day-in and day-out, or we’re not. And there comes a point when the Lord has enough of letting us live our own way. And so he gives a strong warning, an opportunity to change course. That’s what I sensed he gave me Sunday morning. It’s a type of warning he’s given me before when I was walking defiant of his truth and his way. They are not warnings you forget, nor do you want to.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest. Yes, says the Lord, I will be found by you, and I will end your slavery and restore your fortunes …”. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
What about you? Is your body lording over your mind? Or is your body living in subjection to the truth? Do you vacillate on any given day, between whether or not you’ll choose to walk in obedience or disobedience? Do you believe God has a good plan for you? Choose Jesus today and embrace denying your “hunger within” as you submit yourself to the One who loves you and wants the very best for you. And trust that he will satisfy you.
As my new Thin Within class rapidly approaches I find myself struggling once again with the progress, or lack thereof, I’ve made thus far on my journey. I’m referring to my physical progress. I truly wanted the ladies to see the tremendousus loss of weight that has occurred before they joined me on this Thin Within journey. Unfortunately, they won’t. And that is something I have to accept. The enemy would love nothing more than to use this to discourage me and launch mental assaults that tell me I’m not qualified to lead others.
Isn’t it funny the expectations we set for ourselves when God calls us to do something for his Kingdom. We assume we will have “arrived” by the time he has us stand before others and introduce them to the journey toward freedom we’ve been walking, for example. What’s even more uncanny is the fact that people want to know they are accepted right where they are. For that matter, we want to know we’re accepted right where we are. In fact, some, those who may need this teaching most, might even feel intimated if they were to see that I was skinny. My point is not that God doesn’t want me at my God-given size. My point is that he can use me every step of the way, before, during and/or after. It’s up to him. However, we each have a “before place” in the testimony of our lives that God is writing. And we need others who are at different points on the path to help encourage us to stay the course.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (The Advantages of Companionship) says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. “ The bottom line is we need each other regardless of where we are currently standing on the path to freedom. And people need to know it’s okay. As long as we are moving in a forward direction, listening to the Lord, and obeying his commands, we cannot help but serve as an encouragement to others and them to us.
Recently, I reconnected with a childhood friend I’ve searched for over the past several years. As I was documenting some of the major things that have happened in my life since we last spoke, I simply had to marvel at all I’ve come through. Compared to many they wouldn’t be considered eventful or even painful necessarily, but for me they tenderized my heart and certainly could have been much worse had the Lord not stepped in and redirected my path. The reason I’ve searched for her so fervently these past several years is because I owed her an apology. An apology for blowing off her friendship so many times when she reached out to me. Unfortunately, it was in a season when I was a workaholic and paid little attention to relationships.
It’s funny the multitude of emotions that come at us each day and tempt us to eat outside the boundaries God’s set for us. And I’m no exception. As I’ve begun to reconnect with my friend I’ve begun to revisit that season in my life when I was terribly productive but lacked in deep friendships. It’s just this kind of mental and emotional process that can take us one direction or another … into the arms of Jesus … or into the kitchen. I have to recognize that each moment during this process that I’ve turned to Jesus and not to food I’ve made the kind of progress that matters. And it’s this kind of process that these women who are signed up for my class need to know about.
Once again as I sit to write this blog I’m overwhelmed at the kindness of the Lord. Not a day passes that I don’t rejoice at all he’s done to hold me steady and draw my heart toward his. I shudder to think what battle I might be fighting if it weren’t my weight.
What about you? What are you walking through right now? Is it drawing you to Jesus or the refrigerator? Do you realize the kindness of the Lord in the testimony he’s writing with your life? Be encouraged at where you stand in the journey today. As Joyce Meyer says, “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I use to be.”
“Oh I wish I hadn’t nibbled while cooking dinner! Now I’m no longer truly hungry enough to eat! Why didn’t I wait? Why didn’t I plan better? It won’t really matter. I’ll just eat a few bites with my family. No harm done.”
Too often those are the thoughts spinning through my head after a long day at work and I begin the meal preparations. It’s especially bad if making a family dessert where I’ve been known to lick the spoon a time or two, always resulting in a curbed appetite.
One of the “Essential Reminders” of Thin Within is to realize that beverages (including coffee, tea, soda, milk, sports drinks, and juices), mints and hard candy, and chewing gum all change your hunger number. So how much more nibbling while I’m preparing a meal! For heaven’s sake, to live responsibly I need to remember the importance of my choices to our Lord Jesus. Mealtime nibbles affect my hunger number, which in turn affect the choice I’ve now confronted myself with.
Thankfully, these times are few and far between. However, the fact that they are still occurring at all makes me aware there’s still work to be done. Not a day passes, that I don’t need the Lord’s help and today’s no different. What a blessing that He’s faithful to remind me of this.
When these times do occur what’s surprising to me is how spiritually determined I feel starting my day but depending on my focus and the choices I make it can feel tanked before close of business. The cold hard truth is that the spiritual component I sense I’ve lost is still there. However, somewhere I chose to focus on myself, my wants, my will, my desires, my, my, my. Instead, had I collaborated with God throughout the day, working hand-in-hand with Him particularly before preparing my meals He would have remained center in my heart and mind where he was at the start of my day.
And so this is a good reminder to me and to others hopefully, that the spiritual determination we start with at the onset of the day is designed to fix our eyes and our hearts on the only One who can help us through the dailiness of this journey. We’ve got to keep Him in the loop moment by moment, especially when we are monitoring our hunger numbers in an effort to honor Him in our eating. I know when dinner is coming. I know what I’ll be fixing. And I know if I’ll be hungry or not. The choice is mine, as are the consequences of those choices.
“Lord, help me choose You, over and over and over again today! Thank you for food to prepare. May it be a blessing to those who partake of it. And may I enjoy it with them with all the integrity and authenticity of knowing my body is ready to receive from Your kind hand of provision. Amen.”
Some tips I use for managing the mealtime preparations, especially if approaching zero: Pray! Pray! Pray! Before you enter your kitchen. Eat a small snack prior to the cooking. Sometimes this might mean eating a banana or a handful of almonds on my way home from work. Do a heart-check beforehand and submit myself and my appetite to the Lord. Pour myself a glass of iced tea or juice to sip on during mealtime preparation. Pray for those I’ll be serving and eating with. Give some special attention to their place setting. Remind myself that if I choose to nibble while I cook I need to commit to bypassing dinner. In fact, don’t even set a place for myself. It doesn’t mean I’m being deprived of anything. It just means I chose to eat my meal earlier than originally planned. The choice is mine to make. And the consequences are mine as well. Perhaps tell myself how delicious this meal will taste when I can sit down to relax and enjoy it, instead of tasting a little here and there while standing over the stove.
What about you? Are mealtime preparations a struggle for you? What can you do to plan better so that you don’t waste your hunger level standing over a stove and nibbling? Let’s remember to keep God in the loop throughout our day. He loves be invited into our private world where we can collaborate together.
“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14)
Recently I had the pleasure of spending some time with a dear friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in several months. We have done a couple weight loss programs together in years past and hold fond memories of times spent encouraging each other in the faith. She continues to be one of those godly women I’m honored to call my friend. When we met I wasn’t surprised to see she looked like her beautiful self. Only now she’s skinny! She’s arrived at that physical destination I’ve longed to return to!
As we caught up on life over the past several months and she told me all she’s done, and continues to do, with regard to losing weight I realized that while one of the programs we’d done together was Thin Within, she had only chosen a couple of the “Keys to Conscious Eating” to abide by. Other than that it is a very restrictive set of rules to adhere to all day every day. Rules like, drinking 32 ounces of water before you have your first cup of coffee, then drink again throughout the afternoon, drinking lots of green tea, eat no carbs or sweets, and nothing in the evenings (perhaps a cup of tea), no red meat, and exercise as often as you can, nibble on almonds and apple slices throughout the day, etc. Granted she’s learned to enjoy living that way, and obviously it’s paid off physically. Heck, I even enjoy some of these things and found myself encouraged to drink more water. However, because I am still further back in my journey toward freedom in this area I found myself teetering off the solid ground on which I’ve been trying to stand on since returning to Thin Within. To be honest, on my way home I stopped at the store and bought almonds, apple slices, and a 32-ounce water bottle! After all, so many of the things she’s doing are good for our physical body, and are “whole body pleasers” for many of us.
The scripture referenced above is written in the context of spiritual warfare. There is a whole section of Ephesians 6 (verses 10-20) that talks about the need to put on the whole armor of God so that we can be strong in his might, standing against the schemes of the devil. Paul reminds us that our wrestle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, this present darkness, and spiritual forces. Therefore, we are exhorted to take up the armor of God and stand firm.
My girlfriend is doing what works best for her. And I’m so happy she’s happy and looks great. But for me, I can easily be swayed between various programs if I’m not careful. The reason I can be easily swayed is because many times I want quicker physical results and don’t like having to let God deal with my heart, which inevitably takes longer. Frankly, over the past 15 years I’ve done countless programs and on a bad day I might be drawn back toward any one of those programs and even aspects of two or three at the same time. That’s just how unstable a man’s ways can be when not fixed on Jesus! This is exactly why it is imperative for me to stand firm on what I believe to be God’s truth. And for me that truth is Thin Within and the principles of 0 to 5 eating. I know that I will drive myself nuts going back and forth between this program and that program if I get lazy and unfocused. I have to remind myself that the truth I have chosen to stand on and where I’ve chosen to place my focus daily is “Obedience to Glory”, “Living Responsibly” and “Godly and SMART Goals” as stated in Workbook #3 “Building on God’s Truth”.
What about you? Are you vacillating between weight loss programs, even if only mentally? Or are your eyes fixed on Jesus and the truths of Thin Within? Are you easily swayed when you see the physical results of others further along in their pursuit of freedom? Let me encourage you as I encourage myself to stand firm right where God has planted you. Believe with me that we serve a God who knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139) and has the results we’re looking for as we stay committed to the process we’ve embarked on.
One of my favorite facets of Thin Within is its ability to integrate the practical application of God’s word with the spiritual component of His truth. In other words, the foundation of this program is balanced. Throughout the pages of Thin Within are countless opportunities to learn and grow spiritually coupled with the reality that we have a responsibility to do our part of the program for it to have its complete work in us. God can be nothing but faithful to us. He will lead us in all truth. He will change us from the inside out as we let him renew our minds with truth.
For many of us, however, we’re spiritually growing leaps and bounds through this program, and yet our weight still remains an issue. Tell me I’m not the only one!
In a blog post that Heidi Bylsma posted in January of 2007 she said the following: “In my case, when I don’t release weight, first I have to ask the Lord, honestly, if I am submitting to his will. This goes beyond this notion of 0-5 eating for me. I can *fake* 0-5 eating pretty well. You know what I mean? I can rationalize things…I have found that a subtle “dieting mentality” comes in and “helps” me with this…it will casually do an estimation of calories and whatever and say “See? I have ‘suffered’ and so I should release weight.” But the reality God is trying to bring home to me is, the Lord wants me to love HIM more than I love food. No, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t find joy in my enjoying food, but delighting in food more than Him…well, that is a problem. He has laid on my heart that He has given me parameters within which eating food is to be enjoyed. It is like sexual intimacy…there are certain parameters. Within those parameters, it gives God joy for me to enjoy intimacy, which He created. I believe He delights in my enjoyment of food within godly parameters as well. Outside of the parameters of marriage, “sex” is indulging my fleshly lusts and is sin…Outside the parameters of my body calling for food, eating is indulging a fleshly lust and is sin. Or that is how He has broken it down for me. I need it made really simple! LOL! It helps me to ask WHY am I eating right now? Am I eating because I am hungry and my body needs nourishment? Am I eating because I simply want to enjoy the taste (which is so fleeting!)? God has laid it on my heart to enjoy the taste of food (YES!), but only when my body needs nourishment. How perfect is that? I can oooh and aaah about the incredible flavor of cheese enchiladas all I want when I am hungry! YIPPEEE! I get hungry pretty routinely! There will be loads of opportunities in my life to enjoy enchiladas with a totally pure conscience, eating them because my body needs sustenance! Why do I want to mess with that? When I don’t release weight, I have to honestly evaluate if I have been truly loving eating beyond the parameters God has for me. Am I living like my body is my own to do with as I please?”
This is the very issue many are dealing with, we still want what we want, when we want it, and thinking we can have it both ways, fail to realize that when we let our flesh (our old carnal man) have the final say, we hinder the mighty work God is wanting to accomplish in us. This is a sobering realization when it comes right down to it. Why, when God has gone to such great lengths to extend a covenant relationship to me would I want to violate that by not living today like I belong to God? I’m praying for you and me today that we’ll “just say no” when our old carnal man rears his ugly head and tells us to do as we please. I pray we remember just what God has provided for us each time we let him have the final say.
What about you? Are you walking in your new life or your old life today? Are you letting your old carnal man rule your food-related choices? Let’s choose to “live today like we belong to God,” remembering what happens when He has the final say in our choices.
Romans 6:1-6 – Sin’s Power Is Broken – “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”
Hallelujah and amen!
What a wonderful truth to renew our minds with. We are no longer slaves to sin, regardless of how we behave! The truth is that for those of us who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior we have entered into a new covenant (a solemn and binding agreement). In other words, we are now wearing the robe of Christ Jesus so we need to act like Him. I read just this morning to “Live today like you belong to God.” Isn’t that beautiful? This reminds us that we can choose to live our new life today instead of walking as a slave to our sin (our old life).
And, even better, we will never be alone. He will walk today out right beside us. In Barb Raveling’s book, I Deserve a Donut, she echoes this truth when she says, “Transformation is messy. It feels like too much work, too much time – and too much failure. We’re bombarded by ‘I’ll never change, anyway, so why bother?’ sorts of thoughts. We want to give up. That’s why we so desperately need to go to God for help – because we can’t do it by ourselves.”
I’ll admit that I continue to work through succumbing to the lies that make me want to eat. But slowly and surely I am learning what it means to “put on” or “lay aside” my old ways and “put on” the armor of light. Romans 13:11-14 – “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
“Thin Within is not about doing everything right or perfect but about having a teachable heart – one that is yielded to God and seeks to follow his ways. In this journey, we will trip and fall, get back up, and press forward once again – a process that will repeat itself over and over while we are learning and being guided by the Spirit rather than rules.” We are shifting our focus from expecting ourselves to “fix” a problem to trusting the Spirit to show us God’s way of living. Every time our mind and heart are attentive to the Spirit, we are making progress. When we focus on God, refresh ourselves in his Word, and surrender to the Spirit’s leading, we will be better equipped to resist temptation and move forward, one small step at a time.” (Hunger Within, pp. 92-93)
So today let’s put off the old and put on the new! Let’s rejoice in knowing we are in covenant relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who longs to walk beside us in our Thin Within journey.
What about you? Are you walking in your new life or your old life today? Are you expecting perfection? More importantly, is your heart teachable and one that is yielded to God and seeks to follows his ways? Let’s choose to “live today like we belong to God.”