Stand Firm

“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.

Just Say No!

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.

Putting On Christ’s Righteousness

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.”

Who’s Greedy? Not Me!

“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man who, he had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.  The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen. 2:8-9)  –  “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Gen. 3:6a)

In other words, what the Lord God himself had already provided to Adam and Eve was simply not enough.  Eve wanted more.  And when the serpent came and offered her something supposedly even better than what the Lord God had already so graciously provided to her, she made an agreement with the enemy … at the total disregard for the Lord’s clear warning of consequence … simply because she wanted something more than what she’d had already been given.

I think what’s even worse, is what Matthew Henry’s Commentary says …”She saw no harm in this tree.  When there is thought to be no more harm in forbidden fruit than in other fruit, sin lies at the door, and Satan soon carries the day … Perhaps, it seemed to her to be better for food, more grateful to the taste, and more nourishing to the body, than any of the rest, and to her eye it was more pleasant than any.”  I realize afresh that if God gives us boundaries to abide by, regardless of what those are,  we are opening the door for the enemy (Satan) to carry our day when we essentially tell God we choose not to obey what he’s told us to do, but instead choose our own way.

How I wish I couldn’t identify with this.  But I can.  After all the Lord has given me to eat I still find myself wanting more.  More times than not I am not looking to be sustained by the faithful hand of the Lord, but I am “seeing that the tree is good for … AND … AND … AND …” wanting “MORE … MORE … MORE …” which entices every greedy bone in my carnal body.  This, in essence, is why I’m not losing the weight I am after.  As Thin Within shows on “The Hunger Scale”, “If you eat consistently from 0 to 5 you are following the guidelines for healthy eating.  This will result in a slow release of excess weight until you are down to your natural, God-given size, which you will maintain since 0 to 5 eating represents the appropriate amount of food to sustain a healthy weight.  If you consistently eat from 3 to 7 you will remain overweight.  And if you consistently eat from 5 to 10 you will gain weight.”  Whether you believe this or not is irrelevant because it is the truth.  Ask anyone in the program who eats within any one of these boundaries.  I’ve seen it for myself.  When I consistently eat within the boundaries of 0 to 5 I begin to watch as the weight is released.  And when I don’t I either plateau or gain.

Isaiah 56:11 says, “Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain.”  1 Corinthians 5:11 says, “ I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.”  Colossians 3:5 says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”  My goodness that’s powerful!

I wake up some days telling myself that I need to start eating healthier, or abstain from sugar and processed foods, or exercise more.  And yet, while those are good and evenly godly goals, they don’t deal a death blow to the “sinful, earthly thing (of greed) lurking within me.”  No, that my friends, comes when I consistently resist the enemy and live within the boundaries God has already given me.

What about you?  Do you find yourself always wanting more than what the Lord has provided for you?  Or do you see that his provision is always sufficient for our best?  Which set of boundaries are you living in (0 to 5, 3 to 7, or 5 to 10)?  Feel free to join me in repenting of wanting more and not trusting that what He provides is sufficient for all we need.

Living My Life In Worship

“We put more into what we do for Jesus than what Jesus does for us.  Our lives should be lived in worship to Him for all He’s done for us.”  (Creflo Dollar)

I don’t know about you but my spiritual world is being rocked daily by the truths the Lord is revealing to me through Himself. imageIt’s as if Ephesians 1:18 is being fulfilled, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you …”  It seems that every time I open my bible and/or Thin Within bible study truth is jumping off the page at me.  And when I read the testimonies of others on this same journey these truths are confirmed and I’m filled afresh with hope that daily I’m being conformed a little bit more into the likeness of Christ. My failures are no longer in sight. He is. Is there anything better than the truth of God’s word and the confirmation from His saints! So, before I forget to say thank you, let me do so now. Thank you.  Thank you for being honest and transparent when sharing your ups and downs on this Thin Within journey.  And thank you for staying committed to the process of what God is doing in you.

Recently I sat in a teaching that focused on walking in God’s grace, God’s unmerited, “too good to be true”, favor. I long for this unmerited favor, spiritual blessing and mercy. I want to live under it every moment of my life. It’s the umbrella that keeps me from being scorched by the world’s sun when I wander out too far from the Lord’s covering.

In Chapter 3 of Hunger Within, “Grace Not Legalism” the following quote is given:  “God is infinitely patient. He will not push Himself into our lives. He knows the greatest thing He has given us is our freedom, for therein lies our power to love. He respects our freedom. If we want habitually, even excessively, to operate at the level of our own reason, He will respectfully keep silent.We can fill ourselves with our own thoughts, ideas, images and feelings. He will not interfere. But if we invite Him with attention, opening the inner space with silence, He will begin to speak to our souls, not in words or concepts, but in the mysterious way that love expresses itself – by presence.”  (M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living)

The chapter goes on to say, “Our freedom is expressed most fully in the glory of grace – the intimate, spontaneous, and absolute loving-kindness of God working in us to make us whole. Grace is the active expression of God’s love. Grace empowers us to choose rightly in what seem to be the most choiceless of situations, but it does not, and will not, determine that choice. Grace influences our innermost being, bringing our character into agreement with the very character of God.”

imageWhen I thank God each morning for the multitude of blessings He’s given me I try to remember to thank Him also for all that He’s held from me. I do this knowing that many times what He’s done for me is to hold me back from my own foolishness.   I remind myself often that,“For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11)

Just last night I bypassed another meal, and I lived to tell about it.  I was focused on welcoming women into my home for a new semester of bible study and looked forward to having dinner after the meeting. Only one problem, I was just barely at zero. So I nibbled on some popcorn and grapes and was satisfied before heading to bed. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy that beef stew for dinner tonight instead. I awoke this morning sensing God’s presence and favor as I was clearly at a 0 for breakfast since I bypassed dinner last night. He and I sat as I enjoyed by half a cup of oatmeal & some Greek yogurt and I sensed His grace over me. It’s the path I choose to walk in today. I hope you’ll join me.

What about you?  Do you put more stock in your own efforts than in God’s efforts on your behalf?  Do you walk under the covering of the umbrella of His grace, or are you relying on your own reason?  Are you gleaning encouragement and hope through the Thin Within community?  Take time today to worship the Lord for all He’s done for you, including what He’s held you from.  Thank Him for his love, and his “too good to be true” grace.

Accepting the New Man

“So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Perhaps my awareness is heightened this year because I’m getting older and my pursuit of freedom is more intense.  However, it seems the media is inundating us with messages to lose weight, get fit, etc.  While this is always the case come January first, we must be militant in our resolve to let this be the year we get uncomfortable with slavery to any other master than the Lord Jesus Christ himself.  For us, this is a spiritual battle and thus is fought with spiritual weapons.

imageAt the same time, the practical must be addressed since we live in the world.  And so let’s revisit the physiological component of Thin Within.

It is wonderful to want to feel better.  God wants us to feel our best.  He longs for us to experience the abundant life to which we are called.  Submit your desire to feel more joy, more up, more energy to Him, and wait for His answer. His solutions will not have negative consequences and will not cause any ill effects.

Some obvious suggestions are: Spend time in His Word and in prayer; be willing to face the truth; get adequate rest; consider increasing your activity level; and, continue to carefully consider the food choices you make. Let’s remember, He supplies everything we need for life and godliness. We also have a responsibility to treat our bodies with great respect.

As I read the scripture above earlier this morning I was reminded of the inner work that God is after in each one of us. That work, if submitted to the Lord will produce eternal dividends and not temporary success. One of my current struggles is that I’m only hungry for one meal a day. Otherwise, just a little snack will sustain me for hours. This can be frustrating because I eat lunch with a co-worker every day and sit down to dinner with my husband every night.  And so this feels like an “affliction” (to my flesh) though I know it’s a blessing indeed (to my spirit). Because each and every time I surrender the temptation to eat when not hungry I collaborate with the Lord and that work He is doing comes a step closer to completion. When I stop to consider this I realize I’m in the process of walking in my new nature. My old nature ate what I wanted, when I wanted, with little regard for respect or dignity.  My new nature eats when He says I’m a 0, and takes into account my schedule and other commitments including family meal time.  Therefore, I recognize that if I eat to a 5 at lunchtime I won’t be hungry at dinner.  The choice is mine, and I choose to surrender to the inner work the Lord is after in me.image

What about you?  Are you looking for success this year or an eternal work of the Lord?  Can you see how important the practical process is or do you look only to the spiritual?  Let’s remember that the Lord longs for us to experience the joy and abundance that comes with living free from any dependencies other than on Him alone.