The more I get into the Word of God through the Thin Within classes, the more I want to whet my appetite for every spiritual blessing that is found in Christ. Barb Raveling’s bible study, Taste for Truth, is another one of her inspiring writings that have kept me motivated to stay within my boundaries.
At our church service this past weekend, I ministered on Psalm 16 emphasizing the boundary lines that God gives us. According to Psalm 16:6, the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. Often, I do not see these boundaries as pleasant, but when I look at the boundaries through spiritual eyes, I see the hand of God bringing nothing but good for my life.
Even though I lead studies, I still struggle with the temptation to eat outside of my boundaries. Daily mind renewing is a must for me. In the Preface of Taste for Truth, Barb Raveling discusses strongholds. I no longer want food to be my stronghold because it is a very unreliable one. I desire for God and His precious word to be my stronghold. When that happens, the stronghold of overeating comes tumbling down.
Barb Raveling discusses her struggle with gaining and losing weight, and her struggle sounds very much like my own. She discusses the amount of time change can take. No one wants to be told that releasing weight and overcoming food strongholds takes time, but when you think about it, it’s encouraging, especially when you’ve wanted progress to be quick like I have. Knowing that a certain amount of time is involved is actually comforting because the process has never been rapid for me. Thank God for His timing and His ways!
I believe that Taste for Truth will give us more than a taste of the living water and bread of life which brings true satisfaction and brings food into its proper perspective. I am ready for that “taste”! I am ready for my spiritual cup to be filled until it overflows with the truth of God’s word.
What about you? Are you ready for a taste of the truth of God’s word? If so, join me in this journey?
An invitation: I invite you and anyone you know to join me beginning July 28 to indulge in a Taste for Truth. The study will last for six weeks with the weekends off, and it will end on September 8. Facebook is required as I will be conducting the study in a secret/private Facebook group. Send me a friend request on Facebook (Allison Browning Mitchell) and join me in this amazing study that is sure to change your appetite.
Allison and her husband, Lanny, live in Hanover, West Virginia. They have two children, Aaron and Amber, and they are the pastors of The Haven of Rest, a church in their community. Allison is a recent graduate of Bluefield State College and loves teaching, writing, and reading.
One particular morning, just recently, I was writing in my journal and talking to the Lord about how maybe I need to hold particular foods with open hands. Then He stopped me in my thoughts and this is what I wrote: You are showing me that I’m trying to go back to food focus. I’m thinking too much about it. You want me to leave the [food] issue alone and to walk in freedom.*
Then He told me to look up Galatians 5:1again:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not letyourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)
In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hamperedandheld ensnaredandsubmit againto a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]. (AMP)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangledagain with a yoke of bondage. (NKJV)
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (The Message)
The words underlined and orange indicates what CHRIST has done. He has set me (us) free! The blue words are what my (our) responsibility is in that freedom. “Do not let”. “Let” means that I have a say in it; I am responsible. No one can make me! I choose it! So I can choose to stand in the freedom, or I can put back on the yoke, the chains and carry around a load that isn’t necessary. Christ bought me…He paid the ransom. He CHOSE to die for me so I could have life. He freed us from the chains of death and everything that leads to unrest/death. Am I going to choose a different way? No way!! Why in the world would I want to go back to captivity and be a slave to food, diets, etc?
I’ve noticed the temptations. Just this [particular] morning there were like 3 things on Facebook: an intense exercise challenge (that’s linked with dieting), someone’s before/after pictures after drinking a diet smoothie, and something else. It’s everywhere!! I have to choose to keep scrolling and to look away! I cannot even go there! I need to fix my eyes on Jesus and keep them set on Him! He wants me to guard my mind.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psalm 101:3
The temptations are out there beckoning me to obsess and bring me back into captivity. I cannot walk around blindfolded or my finger in my ears and singing, “La, la, la, I don’t hear you!” (although that might come in handy some times). I DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK!
I have written down Galatians 5:1 (the Amplified version) on a piece of paper and have it up in two places in my house: 1) on my bathroom mirror, and 2) on my refrigerator. And when I read the scripture many times throughout the day, God’s peace is ignited in my heart and I remember that I am FREE!
Christ has made you free!
Do not let yourselves be entangled again!
*If God was, in fact, asking me to hold a particular food with open hands, then I certainly would be obedient to that. But in this case, He wasn’t. I was trying to make up another reason to focus on food.
Independence Day (United States) is in just 2 days! I promise I didn’t plan this post to come right before, but when I scheduled the post for today, I thought it was really neat that here I am posting about being FREE! July 4th is celebration of being an independent nation. So as you are watching the fireworks bursting forth and enjoying the celebration, think about your freedom in Christ and STAND!
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Galatians 5:7-9
Do you ever feel like you are going along on this Thin Within journey at a good pace, and then all of a sudden you get stuck or something gets in your way? I know this has happened to me plenty of times. Sometimes we have to stop and allow God to dig up what needs to be dug up so we can continue on once again, or He needs to remove the roadblock.
There have been a lot of things that have stalled me on this journey. Mostly, it’s been lies I have believed or habits that I’ve had for numerous years. For me, it’s been the lies that I shouldn’t be eating a certain food group, or that a well-known diet is the only thing that will help me so I better go back to dieting, being fixated on food research, etc.
Currently, we are turning our carport into a garage. My husband and a friend have been working hard this week getting the prep-work done for the foundation before the concrete is poured. They were working along at a good pace and they had one last corner to finish, when they realized there was some roots underneath the ground. After several hours of digging around, what they found ended up being a tree trunk and it’s roots! They had dug about 4 feet down, and then our neighbor came over with a chain saw and finished the job. We had no idea there was a tree trunk under the ground!
What if they would have started at that corner first? Would they have felt defeated? I know I may have felt that way. I would have been imagining roots everywhere!
We can go along at a steady pace in our Thin Within journey, and then BAM, we hit something hard. And then we have to focus on digging around and working on hacking at something until that thing is removed. We cannot just leave it there because it will make for a faulty foundation later on. We can no longer pretend it’s not there. We have to deal with it. And we may have to ask a friend for some help.
Just like my husband and his friend, I have had to hack away at things that were giving me a faulty foundation–or that could perhaps do foundational damage later on. It’s a lot of work to dig and dig, but our muscles get strengthened and we come away a bit stronger than before. And for days after my muscles will remind me that I worked them out, but later on I won’t even remember. And the best thing is that later on my foundation won’t sink because I took care of what needed to be taken care of.
When they first found the roots and realized it was a tree trunk, I remembered thinking, “So what! Just work around it!” But when my husband explained that it wouldn’t be good to have that tree trunk rot someday and then have the corner of our foundation cracking or sinking because of it. Oh! And that’s when the Lord began to pour into me what I am sharing with you today: we don’t want a sinking foundation!
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:24-27
I am guessing that you, like me, don’t want your foundation crumbling. The best foundation to build on (and really the only foundation) should be the Rock of Christ Jesus! Christ is our Corner Stone! Everything should be built off of that corner. If there’s anything else in place of the Rock, then everything is going to come sliding off and crumbling down just like the man who built his house on the sand. Sand shifts. The Rock stands forever. The Rock is Truth! In relating to Thin Within, “sand” could be the lies we have believed, diet mentalities, placing our security in false securities, etc. That tree trunk represented those things to me. It’s all the lies that will rot in my mind over time. So I have had to dig around the root system (the lies) and had to have some friends (accountability) help me as well. As we dug, we exposed more rotten lies!
We can look at these “tree trunks” and give up, or we can put on our gloves and pick up our shovels and dig! We can take the time to renew our mind and allow the Lord to dissolve every lie (sand) and replace with truth (the Rock), or we can leave the trunk there to rot and cause future problems. And if it’s too much for you to handle on your own, ask a friend (accountability partner) for help. Sometimes we need twice the strength to help us overcome.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
How about you?
Are you stuck? Do you need some help digging out the lies? Do you have an accountability partner? If not, Heidi has some great information about it here. Are you willing to renew your mind so God can replace those lies with truth? Would you like some help in starting? I would love to hear from you!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have so many things on my heart that I want to share with you, but since I have “mom brain”, I’m having a hard time collecting some of those thoughts. But I want to write something. Anything! So I thought I would take some time to encourage you.
No matter how long you’ve been on this journey, God is STILL faithful! He watches over His word to perform it! He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us! Oh…and He LOVES us!
I know some of you are discouraged. You’ve been trying. You feel like giving up. You just don’t know how to make this all work. And some of you are down right ANGRY because you feel like you are a failure–or possibly because you may feel like God has failed you. You have spent many tears, crying out to God to just help you release the weight, to help you overcome your food addiction, to make all of this easy.
Can I tell you something?
Lean in closely…I’m about to tell you a tidbit of truth that has literally changed my life…
God wants to transform you!
He wants to help you! He wants to deliver you! He wants to help you overcome!
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
We don’t overcome by following our boundaries perfectly. It’s clinging to God’s Word. It’s spending time with Him. That’s how we are transformed. It’s not our own work. It’s His work. Our part is spending time with Him.
I have seen a HUGE change in my life in the area of food and body image because of what God has done and all it took was me taking the time to renew my mind. What does it look like to renew my mind? For me, it means reading my truth cards at least once a day. Usually that takes place in the morning along with reading my Bible. And then each time I felt like breaking a boundary, I sat down with my journal and ‘I Deserve a Donut’ app (or book) by Barb Raveling. I would write out the questions and answers. If I was in a hurry, I would just read the questions and answer them in my head or out loud. If I was journaling, I would write down a few of the scriptures that really stood out to me. And I still do this when needed.
I believe each time I took the time to renew my mind that the Lord was transforming me. And WOW, I’m so amazed at what He has done! I will share more about that later, but for now I want to encourage you in your own journey.
Something quite amazing happened today . . . something that most people wouldn’t even think twice about. But for those of us walking this Thin Within journey – well it was a really big deal! It was the warmest afternoon here in Colorado Springs that we have had in a long, long time. Everywhere I looked there were people in shorts, capris and flip flops. The snowstorm and frigid temperatures of a week ago were forgotten as I picked up my girls from school and decided on a whim to take them out for ice cream. Why not? It seemed like the most perfect opportunity, and we didn’t have to pick up big brother from his school party for hours.
We all squealed with delight as we hopped in the car, rolled down the windows, turned up the music and headed to our favorite 50’s drive-in a couple of miles away. We were about half way there when I realized something – oh dear. I am not hungry, not even in the least. In fact I had had a late lunch only a couple of hours ago and was quite satisfied thank you very much. What to do?
My girls had no idea that I was struggling with this dilemma as we drove on and they discussed what kind of ice cream cone they were going to get. It wasn’t very long ago at all that I wouldn’t have thought twice about picking out an ice cream cone right alongside my girls whether I was hungry or not. But now, here in the car during this joyful family moment, I was having a whole conversation with myself in my mind . . . and to be honest, with my heart. Annoying questions popped into my head such as: If you only choose to follow your eating boundaries when you feel like it, how often will you really do it? Will it be worth it if you break your boundaries? How many years have you been breaking your boundaries and for what? What does God want for you? How will you feel later in the afternoon after you’ve had that nice, big, drippy ice cream cone that you weren’t hungry for? Is it ever worth it to break your boundaries? Will eating an ice cream cone with your girls right now make this a more meaningful moment for them, for us?
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasins Photography/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
No. No, no, no, no. It’s not worth it – it’s not worth it now and it never has been worth it. We pulled up to the crowded drive-in and my girls excitedly ordered two junior ice cream cones – one dipped in rainbow sprinkles and one dipped in chocolate. The lady behind the window said, “Will that be all for you today?” And I say “Yes!” I half expected the entire group of restaurant customers that were sitting outside on picnic tables to stop talking and laughing, look at me and say “WHAT???!!!” But they didn’t. I half expected one or both of my girls to say, “Mom – aren’t you going to get one?” in disappointed voices. But they didn’t. There were no thunder claps or lightning bolts either. In fact, no one noticed at all . . . except me and God.
And all of a sudden I realized that it was a pretty cool moment between me and God. I could tell by the peace that I felt inside of me that He was pleased. I had not run to food this time – for any reason. I had fully submitted my will and let His will take over in my afternoon ice cream situation. Rather than feeding the hunger in my soul with food as I had done a million times before I let God feed my soul. It felt good, it felt right. And by golly a couple of hours later I was hungry again and you know what I did? I ate the last few bites of my youngest daughter’s ice cream cone that she had saved “for later” in the freezer when we got home. She offered it to me and I said “Don’t you want to eat the rest? You saved it from hours ago!” And do you know what she said? “No Mom, you can have it. I’m just not hungry!” 🙂
How about you?
Can you relate to my ice cream with sprinkles predicament? How does our loving God call us to act when we so desperately want to turn to food? Have you experienced the freedom and peace that comes from submitting completely to God in any given situation? God loves you more than you can imagine. What is He saying to you today?
“Mommy, look!” It was my spunky second grader, running toward me in the school hallway with something in her hand, ponytails bouncing up and down. “It’s your favorite! We planted sunflowers!” A long, skinny, bright green stem with just two small leaves at the top was growing out of the transparent plastic cup filled with soil that Madeline was holding in her hands. She held it up to show me the roots that were growing out of the bottom of the plant and talked to me about what she had learned in class, how plants grow and what they need to thrive.
Image courtesy of criminalatt/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
She’s right . . . sunflowers are my favorite. Why? I have always loved that they are so bright, so strong, so cheerful and so varied. There are tiny sunflowers and gigantic sunflowers, deep red ones and golden ones, those that grow wild alongside the road and those planted in perfect rows at a farm. A few years ago my husband built a large, sturdy flower box for me at the side of our house. I would fill it with good soil and sprinkle a variety of small flower seeds over it with the reward of bouquets of blooms by the middle of each summer. One year I decided that I wanted to fill the box with my sunflowers – all shapes, sizes and colors. My children helped me pick out a stack of seed packets at the local nursery, all covered in alluring photos of the amazing flowers that were to come. We filled the box with rich soil, planted the seeds and watered diligently every day. Oh, the excitement of seeing a hundred or more tiny green seedlings pop up out of the soil! Each day we watered the seedlings and watched them grow . . . slowly, steadily over the weeks of the summer. They grew taller and taller and their stems and leaves were strong and sturdy. Finally after what seemed like “forever” there were buds forming at the tops of the stems. We waited and waited as the buds slowly opened. We thought back to those photos of flowers on the seed packets that we had bought so many weeks ago and held our breath.
But . . . wait. Something was wrong . . . something was very wrong. Some of the buds didn’t open at all. Some of the buds were too tiny and the flowers were complete but very small. Some of the larger buds only opened half way, and some of the others only had some of their petals. Many of the petals that appeared were skinny and thin, not thick and wide as we had expected. Our sunflowers looked pitiful . . . there were only a few out of the hundred seeds we had planted that came out even looking like complete, healthy sunflowers and those were very, very small.
In my disappointment and frustration I asked my neighbor – the one with the green thumb – what might have gone wrong. I explained to her that I had bought the best soil filled with nutrients, that we had planted seeds from brand new seed packets, that we had watered diligently every day, and that the flowers had received plenty of sunshine all summer long. She took one look at my flower box failure and said “Oh, Christina . . . don’t you see? It’s all about the roots. You had everything these flowers needed except for one thing. Their roots were limited by the flower box and sunflowers only thrive if they are rooted very deeply into the ground. They just weren’t rooted deeply enough.
Photo by Christina Motley
Oh . . . yes, yes, yes! I just love it when God shows me pictures of what he is trying to teach me. I am just like the sunflower. Oh sure, I can try to grow and change on my own power, but along with the water, sunshine and rich soil I must be deeply rooted in the truth that Christ brings me in His word. God uses this illustration all over the Bible, in both the old testament and new.
“Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to grow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.” Romans 11:16-21
I am on the Thin Within journey as many of you are, struggling desperately to find the peace that comes with turning to God as my stronghold, not food, not a number on the scale, not the size of my jeans. There is a battle raging within me on most days . . . and if you are on this journey with me then you know what I’m talking about. What is the answer? Is it outward change that comes with human willpower, the latest diet or over exercise? How well we all know how fleeting those well-meaning attempts are. There is only one path to lasting change and that comes from being deeply and solidly rooted in the truth that is God’s alone.
I am that sunflower . . . growing and changing from within. Sometimes I am growing so slowly that you really can’t see it on the outside at all, and that’s okay. Some days are harder than others, sometimes I don’t spend time in God’s word, sometimes I try to do it all on my own, sometimes I lose the battle in the moment, and that’s okay too. But then there are those days (or parts of days) that my arms are stretched out wide, my hands are completely open, and I am spinning around and around in circles, dancing because of the pure joy that I am feeling inside as I surrender to the one who made me. (Last night I felt this in the midst of making dinner, helping my daughter with a school project, doing laundry and getting a prescription ordered for my mother-in-law!)
“They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers – never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” Jeremiah 17: 8
It was just last week that I was able to carve out an hour of my morning to take a walk in the Garden of the Gods,15 minutes from our house. It was cold and windy and I prayed as I walked, drinking in the amazing glory of God’s creation – the enormous red rocks, the bright green spring grass, the strong, sturdy evergreen trees. I walked briskly around a corner and I sight that I have seen so many times before stopped me dead in my tracks. It was an evergreen tree . . . strong and solid like the others, hardly moving in the face of the strong winds . . . but it was growing in what seemed like an impossible place. It was growing at least a hundred feet up, from the side of one of those amazing, giant red rock formations. How could it be? Roots! Roots again! Somehow over the years that tree had been able to send its roots down the cracks of that red rock, down, down, down, all the way down into the rich, nourishing soil below.
Deeply rooted, deeply rooted . . . just like the sunflower that my daughter brought home from school. I can only imagine that that tree struggled for a long, long time – years to be sure – before its roots were rooted deeply and solidly enough. I am looking forward to being like that evergreen tree, rooted deeply enough that I can weather the storms without being broken or battered down. Roots again, Lord! Roots! Lord, Lord, this is your battle and I surrender to you. And I smiled as he whispered “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
“So keep at your work, this faith and love rooted in Christ, exactly as I set it out for you. It’s as sound as the day you first heard it from me.” 2 Timothy 1:13
My daughters and I went to the nursery today to pick out a bunch of sunflower seed packets. We have a lovely spot in the backyard picked out, with plenty of room for wonderfully, deep roots, and we can’t wait to see what happens!
How about you? Where do your roots go? Do they run deep enough to help you weather the storms? Are you willing to surrender completely to God? Can you relate to Christina and her daughter’s excitement as they plant their sunflower seeds?