Day 11 of TLT – “Turning”

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 found here.

vs. 9 says: …you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…

Often we grit out teeth and try to turn away from our habits of over eating by sheer will power and determination. Even those of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus, who know we have the Spirit of God living within, may try a “Christianized” version of this “by the bootstraps” exertion…

But do we *hate* our sin? Do we even look at it as sin?

Notice in the verse above that the Thessalonians hadn’t just turned FROM idolatry. They turned TO God to serve him. This is vital. The author of TLT mentions that apart from turning TO God, our turn is only 90 degrees. It isn’t the entire 180 degree turn needed to see lasting change all the way through to our heart.

True repentance is not only turning from sin, it is turning to God and loving and serving Him. (p. 35, TLT)

I could identify very much (even TODAY) with Mike Cleveland when he shared on page 35, “…I finally discovered that my repentance was not genuine, but rather was simply ‘feeling badly’ about my failure, rather than a complete turn away from it and turning to God.”

I can so relate to this TODAY. Since making a break from diet soda of any kind, I have found what I suspected to be true, IS. My continued attachment to diet soda was intricately connected to the stronghold of food…the sweetness of diet soda has often been used by me to “reward” me, to “celebrate,” and all the very same things that I have used food for in the past. After making it through a very stressful drive through the canyon with my son who is learning to drive, my first thought was “I must have a soda!” To reward myself and to decompress the stress! It was brought home so clearly that I haven’t really dealt with the deeper heart issue of repentance and turning TO God if I yet depend on diet soda. Yes, physically, outwardly, my body remains it’s “God-given size.” But my heart hasn’t yet given up the TASTE. I still want my taste buds to have the RIGHT (eek!) to enjoy the flavor of sweet…and the texture of the bubbles…

Now that I have cut myself away from that, I find myself drawing back to food lustfully. See, the soda masked that the problem in my heart was still there! I had “fixed the food” instead of allowing God to really fix my heart connection to the taste of sweet.

So the past three days especially, I have found myself willing to totally violate my own boundaries with night time eating of cookies…and I think somewhere in my mind I have had this thought, “I gave up soda, Lord, like you asked…you have asked me for years to hand it to you…so I should get SOMETHING in return for that!” Ugh…such arrogance and pride.

Clearly, a heart problem.

We must put our backs to the sin and walk away from it. And we must face Christ and walk towards Him. No half-hearted turning will free us from the power of sin; no partial turning will enable us to escape the temptation to overeat. (p. 35 TLT)

In my case, my partial turning was evident by my insistence on retaining a grip on diet soda. Yes, I have had times where I let go of caffeine and cut back on the soda consumption, but NEVER completely let it go…ALL of it.

This time, I have turned my back on the soda…but I didn’t turn TO God, to let HIM be my sufficiency and strength. TO love and serve the one TRUE GOD. So my repentance was partial and not really repentance at all.

One of the testimonies in TLT on page 36, was shared by “Nancy” who said: The evil is not in the eating [or the drinking]…my food [or drink] consumed my every thought. I arranged my day around it. Instead of calling to God in prayer, I stood at the cupboard or refrigerator seeking not God but food [or soda]. That is the sin. Food [and soda] was my god. That is what is wicked, as I had another idol.

Oh, how clearly I see this now. It isn’t about the food or the drink. It never is. Certainly we have to eat and drink to live. But it is about my HEART.

Read Isaiah 55:6-7 here.

There are four elements of repentance that can be drawn from this passage. I won’t list them here, but can you see them?

The author of TLT summarizes: It is not as if we’re merely turning away from sin only to be left empty and with no excitement or fulfillment in life. You see, as we turn from overeating and turn to God there is a blessed life of satisfaction and joy to be found in Jesus Christ. In reality, we are leaving the lesser and termporary pleasures for the greater and eternal ones. Yes, we are giving up the pleasures of sin, but we are gaining the pleasures of Christ and Psalm 16:11 describes the pleasures of Christ as eternal. (p. 37 TLT)

Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Repentance, as it says in this lesson of TLT, is a by-product of God’s grace. His grace! Or like Beth Moore said at last week’s Breaking Free taping, we tend to think of repentance as our punishment…but it is a gift! Our right in Christ! He paid with his blood that we might experience God’s kindness leading us toward repentance.

Summary in Short:
True repentance is turning from sin in deed and thought and turning TO God’s ways. I know that I need not just to repent of my deeds, but of my lustful thoughts of food (or soda) as well. I can’t leave it there, either. I must turn TO God…to His Word, to prayer, to serving Him, to chasing hard after Him to love Him more. I know that it is His kindness that leads me to this place. He *grants* repentance in my heart as a gift.

Day Ten of TLT – More Living Water

Overeating, in its essential allurement, promises to quench our thirst. In other words, it promises satisfaction. And honestly, it does satisfy–but only for a time. Pretty soon we discover we are “thirsty” again, and as the years go by we find that we are reallly never genuinely satisfied. Right? That is because sin never purely satisfies! It depletes us, not fulfills us. (page 31, The Lord’s Table)

This lesson in TLT, continued the thoughts from Day Nine. Truthfully, this “allurement” is an excellent place to “truth journal” as I mentioned in yesterday’s entry. If I believe that there will be joy in eating outside of godly boundaries, the truth is, that “joy” is fleeting, not complete and abiding which is the nature of the joy that Jesus promises.

As I did this lesson, I was reminded of living in the past…when I would “give myself over” to my gluttony…literally, abandoning myself to it. It resulted in a wall between the Lord and myself (self-imposed, as he was always eager and willing to have me return to him). And I could never get enough food to satisfy. It was as if I was attempting to drink salt water to satisfy a thirst. It got so much worse. The emptiness increased.

…the habitual sin of overeating…can soon become a life-dominating sin. Eating food is good and right, and can be a worshipful experience when done for the glory of God. It is not eating food that is the problem, it is overeating. (Page 34, The Lord’s Table)

Summary of Day 10: The Living Water — Jesus — satisfies. All attempts to fill the emptiness in other ways actually results in greater emptiness. It’s like treating thirst with salt water. God has created me with a need for Him. As I turn to Him to fill that hole, I WILL be satisfied. If I insist on filling that hole with something else–like food–the hole will only get larger and the emptiness deeper. I will choose Him today.

Emotional Eating

I plan on returning to summaries of The Lord’s Table soon, but today, I could tell I needed to deal with some things. I turned to “Freedom from Emotional Eating,” by Barb Raveling, instead of working on The Lord’s Table.

Yes…this is what I needed. What I need. Present tense.

Yesterday, I struggled a lot with urges to eat and to revert back to drinking soda. I didn’t give in to the soda drinking. (I will write about this another time, as I think diet soda has been a huge stronghold in my past…one I never totally resolved to give up, but have now…hopefully, permanently.)

I was amazed at how drawn to food and soda I felt all day.

My accountability partner asked the right questions of me and prompted me to allow God to help me work through this. My tendency was to just “blow it off” as “Ok, so I am feeling emotional.” But to be honest with you, calling it emotional eating without DEALING with it, isn’t even as good as throwing a band-aid on it. It is like seeing a wound and saying “Yup, it is bleeding” and leaving it at that.

In Barb Raveling’s workbook, “Freedom from Emotional Eating,” the reader is urged to go beyond recognizing there are emotional triggers, to actually doing something about it…to speaking TRUTH into the situation. This is done through “truth journaling.” This is a remarkably simple thing to do, I found, yet profound.

The enemy seeks to take us captive by messing with our heads…the old “You deserve to eat this…” or “You will feel better if you have that…” thing.

Truth journaling happens in a couple of ways. One is to call a lie a lie regarding this notion that food will make me feel better when I am emotional. It doesn’t. Not only does it NOT make me feel better five minutes from now (after I have inhaled it), but it makes things worse. I still have to deal with the emotions, but it is then compounded by the guilt and frustration with myself for trying to numb it with food. Truth journaling exposes this. And it does so very specifically…not generally, as I have just done in my explanation.

For instance, if I am tempted to eat a chocolate muffin when I am not hungry and it is because I just survived my son driving us through the canyon together (he just got his permit), I write down how I am feeling, “I want a chocolate muffin right now. I am not hungry. I want it because it will make me feel better. I deserve it for enduring the stressful drive through the canyon.” I then go back and number the thoughts: 1. I want a muffin. 2. I am not hungry. 3. I think the muffin will make me feel better. 4. I deserve the muffin.

Then, for each, I label if it is a truth or lie and what the corresponding truth is for that lie:
1. True. I want the muffin. 2. True. I am not hungry. 3. LIE. The muffin will NOT make me feel better and will, in fact, make me feel worse because of how I feel when I violate my boundaries of eating only when hungry. 4. LIE. I don’t “deserve” the muffin. The muffin isn’t a “reward.” Knowing that I have hung in there doing what God has called me to is a very great reward and I will praise God for my safety and delight in his joy over us!

Another approach is to deal with the emotions…this goes to the heart of it. I spent some time this morning doing this very thing and I feel better equipped to handle the day.

I am emotional with good reason. 1.) My son is driving now and living where we do, the roads are windy, narrow and everyone on the roads is insane. ๐Ÿ™‚ 2.) My horse, Breezy, gets seen tomorrow by a specialist for what may be cancer in his eye. 3.) My schedule is so jammed full of things this week that I am overwhelmed. 4.) I have a website I am developing that has taken on a life of its own for a client who I have worked out a “trade” with and now I just want it done.

I have a strong emotional response to each of these things. This morning, as I truth journalled about some of them (and I will go back and do the others), I was able to invite God to expose the lies that are at the heart of some of my emotions about them. Certainly, while worry about Breezy is understandable, it won’t help matters. In fact, Breezy senses my anxiety and it adds to his own, making it more difficult for the vet to treat him. I have anxiety about the money this will cost and, again, worry won’t help this. It is what it is.

See how this works? As I allow God to speak truth into these situations, I am better equipped to pray through them and not to yearn for food which doesn’t help matters anyhow. God is my healer and my helper. He knows all things. He knows right now about Breezy’s eye and what is causing it.

This seems so simple right now as I share it. I almost want to delete this post because I assume people might say “Duh!” But it really IS profound.

The trick is, in the moment when I feel tempted to eat or to guzzle a diet cherry pepsi, I must be willing to stop and evaluate what is TRUTH in the situation? It isn’t likely that drinking or eating something will EVER be the TRUTHful answer to what is going on.

How about you? Can you take stock and see what the truth is about why you are drawn to food? Or, at the very least, evaluate whether having this candybar or that second helping of enchiladas will *really* make you feel better, happier, whatever an hour from now? ๐Ÿ™‚

I want to live out my freedom. As Beth Moore said last week, we can’t have our milestones until we can take captive the moment. I see Barb Raveling’s truth journaling idea as being an invaluable way of capturing the moment for the Lord and allowing my mind to be renewed with his truth…

I hope you do, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

Flesh Machinery Takes Many Forms!

This week is majorly intense. As I just wrote an email to a friend of mine about my schedule between now and NEXT Thursday, I realized just how STRESSED I am about all of it! GOOD things, but stressful nevertheless!

So, knowing me, I know that it is easy to focus, fixate, OBSESS about things and not be in the present moment with my eating, to allow things to kick into automatic pilot and miss the moment with the Lord, fellowshipping with Him as I sit down at the table to fuel my body with food He provides.

One of the biggest causes of “flesh machinery” for me is travel. Even when it is to the Thin Within retreat I know that I can be in danger! I will choose to be vigilant. Flying across the country may not be a big deal to some folks, but it is to me. Make part of that be a connecting flight at Dallas-Fort Worth airport and I am a nutcase! So…I will just use this as a chance to apply some of the things God has been teaching me through my horsemanship…such as changing my thoughts. Or taking them captive. When I find panic welling up in me, I will choose to give thanks, to practice gratitude. Since God inhabits the praises of His people, I know that praising Him will cause me to sense His presence afresh.

The change of schedule and scheduled eating, like what happens at a retreat, can cause panic, too. I will, again, choose to praise the Lord in those moments…to change my thoughts from ME ME ME and how *I* am feeling and panicking, to the Lord and HIS goodness, HIS provision, HIS power and PRAISE.

With all the things on the schedule the minute I return from the trip and the need to have dinner planned and house clean for a wonderful group of 18 ladies next Tuesday night…I know that I can feel so overwhelmed that I shut down and numb out…I will choose instead to PRAISE God that I have this privilege. It is one I *DO* get excited about! So what if a fur ball rolls across the wood floor at an inopportune time? ๐Ÿ™‚ I trust that they will have such a wonderful time fellowshiping with eachother and the Lord that they won’t think about the fur ball the day after our study is done! LOL!

Thursday is my daughter’s 14th birthday and we will be going out for meals and going to the movies and shopping for clothes…all flesh machinery things if I am not VIGILANT! I will choose to maintain GODLY boundaries and surrender my thoughts to the Lord. I will praise Him!

Tomorrow is an all day horsemanship clinic that I am coordinating…my thoughts are “When will I eat?” Goodness…like for everything else, I will pack crackers, peanut butter, almonds and some water. That should hold me just fine!

All is well…I know it is. Now I just need to bring my experience in line with my knowledge. Reality where I live *can* match up with what I KNOW to be true. What I *feel* does NOT dictate truth. GOD does! He is faithful! HE is present! He provides!

Praise You, Lord.

Boundary Lines

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6

Wow…God has ordained that food taste wonderful! Think of all the wonderful foods there are out there. And we have the amazing opportunity to FUEL our bodies with it 2, 3, sometimes even more each day! Isn’t that a blessing!?

God has given us so much. He has done it within certain parameters–certain boundaries.

But how like Eve I can be! God gave to Adam and Eve all the trees of the garden except for one! They could eat of ALL the trees…except one. There was…a boundary! What did they fixate on? What they couldn’t have! Instead of focusing on all they COULD have, they focused on what they couldn’t.

Satan saw this weakness and cast doubt in their minds… “Surely God didn’t say you couldn’t have that yummy fruit…” And when that wasn’t enough to cause Eve to cave in, Satan tried the old “God is holding out on you” ploy! “Just look at all you can’t have!”

I don’t know about you, but it is so easy for me to get sucked into this thinking. Instead of praising God for the bounty from which I get to enjoy fueling my body, instead of praising God for how efficiently he has made my body so that it needs so little food, I become focused on all I want that is outside of godly parameters. I get the “God is holding out on me” attitude going. Especially when I see what others are eating…and some even seem to get away with it!

I want to really focus today on praising and worshiping and thanking God that he has made so many wonderful tasting foods and that he has ordained that I get to fuel my body with this wonderful tasting food. I will praise him that he has made my body able to function so well on so little! It is a testimony to his perfection, his creativity!

Instead of focusing on what I can’t have, today, I will focus on all I can. Indeed, His boundary lines for me have fallen in pleasant places!