Deny To Be Free

Denying through dieting is enslaving but denying through Jesus is liberating. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

Here's what diets promise, "If you follow me and deny yourself of cravings, you'll finally get the body you want. Just be careful to do exactly what I tell you or you won't reach your goals. It's important to remember that you're doing this for you so don't mess up. Just trust me, once you lose the weight you'll finally be happy. I promise."

Here's what Jesus promises, "If you follow me and deny yourself, you will find real joy. Be careful to listen to my direction because I have good plans for your life. I will catch you if you fall, and I will always give you grace. You can always trust in me, because that's where you will find true contentment. I promise."

I remember when I was dieting I literally felt enslaved. If I messed up, the voice in my head would shame me and tell me to never screw up again. Jesus's voice sounds a lot different. There is mercy in His words,

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

How beautiful is that? Where else can we find soul rest other than in the arms of our gracious king Jesus. You do not have to be at war with your body. Jesus says come and find rest.

Deciding to do health Jesus’s way does not give you license to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says,

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”

Scripture even says that you are not your own. In the next verse Paul goes onto say,

“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."

The heart of the gospel is that we are sinners saved by grace purchased through the perfect and redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. We are not our own. He died for us, so we live for Him. That means in every area of life, complete surrender to Him - even with our bodies and food choices.

The cross is the greatest example that nothing good comes easy. The scriptures are clear: if we want to be faithful followers of Jesus we must deny ourselves. You lose yourself to find yourself. And I so desperately wanted to be found. I was lost in an eating disorder and I knew I needed help to get back to shore. That’s when I discovered that at the end of myself I found Him.

I will never forget the night when I had come to the end of myself. Sixteen year old me cried until not a tear was left. I didn’t want to be enslaved to an eating disorder anymore. I wanted to be free. And I knew freedom didn’t come easy. But I was willing. It was not a will that came from my own strength, but that of the Spirit within me. Giving up your desires is hard and nearly impossible to do on your own, but with the help of the Holy Spirit it's liberating. And yes my sweet friend, you can do it too.

The promises of scripture not only light our paths for the present, but they give us a light at the end of the tunnel too. You can do it. God is with you and for you! You are strong. You are brave. Now go.

                                                                              Grace & Peace,

 
 

Starving My Soul

There I was sitting on my floor with my empty ice cream carton and my even emptier soul. I felt so full I could puke, yet so empty I could drown in my own despair. I had eaten myself into another food coma and with my spoon I dug myself deeper into my failure. All I wanted was to be skinny, but I gave into the chocolate-caramel-swirl yet again. But this time was different. This time I felt like there was no getting out.

In the privacy of my locked room the silent tears made their way down my cheeks. This chocolate ice cream should have delivered sweetness to my tastebuds, but the only taste on my lips was guilt. The shame and regret overwhelmed me, and the feelings washed over me faster than I could stay afloat. Quickly being pulled into the strong current of my abrasive thoughts and trying to keep my head above water, I told myself, “It's just ice cream.”

But this wasn't just ice cream. This was war.

The waves of thoughts were powerful and relentless, “You're always going to eat uncontrollably like this. You'll never have self control. You're going to gain more weight. You'll never fit into your jeans. This ice cream has more control over you than you have over yourself.” One after another they crashed over me and my only defense was my spoon which, mind you, wasn't much help.

With no way of protecting myself against the intrusive thoughts, I fell into the lies because I had no truth to stand on. There I was, defeated from a battle I regularly lost. The fresh wounds of shame and guilt accompanied the scars of regret that proved this wasn't my first battle. I was battered, bruised, and tired of trying. Exhausted, I held up my white flag.

That was the night I gave up.

My own strength wasn't enough. Right then a verse found in Exodus came to life: “The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14). I will tell you peace wasn't exactly what I was holding. I was holding a spoon and an empty chocolate-caramel-swirl ice cream container. Not peace. But that's when I realized I was fighting a battle I wasn't meant to fight. This was war and only God could lead me into victory.

The war began when my innocent desire to be healthy lead to a not-so-innocent obsession to be thin. But being thin and pretty were of no match against my caramel infused chocolate ice cream, especially after days of food restriction. My never ending appetite for skinny drove me from diet to diet, in hopes of finding satisfaction in the victory of getting thin. Well the war raged on even when victory was found. Never satisfied even with diet success, finding victory in weight loss wasn't the victory I had actually hoped for. I thought I could satisfy my inner hunger externally but as the numbers on the scale dropped, my hunger inside did not.

That's because I was hungry for the wrong thing.

Jesus said in Mark 4:4 that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I was living by bread alone. I was expecting a tiny body to give me a happy life. My expectations fell short when I realized being thin would never satiate my soul.

Picture this: you're driving in your car while drinking a smoothie when you realize you're all out of gas. Instead of making your way to the gas station you pull over, hop out, and begin to pour your smoothie into your gas tank. This is dumb. And this is definitely not going to work. Why? Because you just poured puréed strawberries instead of gasoline into your vehicle.
Cars need gas.
Bodies need food.
Souls need truth.

Unfortunately my soul was running on empty for so long that I began to believe lies instead of truth. I traded my identity in Christ for my identity in my appearance. What a terrifying place to be in.

We cannot expect a diet to fix our problems. We cannot expect thinner legs to give us happiness. We cannot expect to find true satisfaction in our appearance. We need the daily truth of God's word to fill us up because only knowing who we are in Christ will satisfy our hungry human soul. Yet so often we try to fill up our souls with other things instead of truth.

For example, for so long I tried to find my worth in what I looked like. But we cannot improve our physical appearance and expect to be made complete in that. There will always be room for more improvements. There will always be another goal post to reach and the striving will never cease when it comes to appearance. So the war rages on. And on. In fact Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). If you're chasing anything but Jesus, you're chasing the wind.

So I decided to live by God's truth and that means I am beautifully and wonderfully made...yet that was hard for me to believe when the mirror said otherwise. So I continued to try to please the mirror but I never saw beauty in my reflection. I again started to believe I would never be enough. That lie drove me back into the vicious cycle of dieting and I was terrified that I would never be able to accept myself. But there was something else I was even more terrified of: the truth.

My greatest fear was that if I was brave enough to believe that God made me beautifully in His image then I would never be truly satisfied. Satisfaction was being thin to me. So what if I never reached that goal? What if I just believed I was beautifully made? I was scared that if I fully trusted in who God says I am, I would never like how He made me.

This is the same lie that Adam and Eve listened to in the garden. They believed they could be happier outside of God's will. They bought into the lie that eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be more satisfying than obeying and listening to God. That lie brought sin into our world, and the same lie is still alive and wreaking havoc today.

Then everything clicked. I was looking in the mirror for acceptance. Literally. I thought if I saw the beautifully and wonderfully made girl God created I would be satisfied. Right? Wrong. I was still unsatisfied. Why? Because I was looking in the wrong place. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “...For the Lord does not see as man sees; for a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I was looking at my outward appearance when I should have been looking where God looks: at my heart.

God made us in His image but this broken world wants us to believe we should be made in our own. I was not seeing as God sees. I was looking at my own physical appearance hoping I could see my worth in Him. But the mirror doesn't work that way. It can never see who you are in Christ. A mirror will never be able to show you that you were masterfully crafted and hand designed by the God of the universe. Only the truth of God's word can show you that. Who God says you are speaks infinitely louder than what a mirror can conjure up. Jesus's finished work on the cross demonstrated His love for you once and for all, and gave you more beauty than a mirror could ever show. 

Morning Quiet Time

There's something about early mornings that a few extra hours of sleep can't compete with.

Maybe it's the relief of not having to rush off anywhere. Maybe it's the quality time that you and your coffee cup get to spend together. Or maybe, simply it's the calm we experience in the "unrush" of a morning. Stillness is seldom in our world these days. After all, waking up to the sunlight is far more unusual than being abruptly woken up by a blaring snooze alarm.

Our world has forgotten quiet. 

Between constant and endless demands. Deadlines and dates. The never ending, attention seeking, world is always after our precious quiet time. Our world fears silence because our world loves busy. Busy is better. Right? We are told to go, go, go!  Here's the harsh truth: all that going is going to get you nowhere fast. 

Instead of tuning into the world's radio station for the day, we need to tune our hearts somewhere else first. When we place our thoughts in the quiet, and surprisingly there is much to be heard. The screaming world is vying for you to listen, but you can turn off the static.

  • 1 Kings 19:12 says: "And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."

Did you hear that? Still. Small. Voice. 

God doesn't need to scream to get our attention. He whispers in the quiet of our hearts to reach the deepest parts of our souls. There's no flashing lights or megaphone. Simply the gentle words in a soft hush, spoken quietly from our loving Lord.

Do you want to hear God? Do you want to know what He's saying to you? Well, can you hear Him? We seem to wonder why our ears cannot hear God when the radio of the world is up full-blast.

It's time to get quiet before God so that His voice can be heard loud and clear. The psalmist writes in Psalm 63:1, "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..."

I have included Psalm 51 at the bottom of this page. I love reading this during quiet time. 

Who are you tuning into: God or the world?

I use the New King James Bible with commentary from Pastor Chuck Smith. You can get a similar one that I LOVE here.

{ it's on sale right now!!! plus Jon Courson is one of my favorite pastors. }

I hope this post encaouraged you! God Bless.

Love in Christ,

 

Psalm 51

 

1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,[a]
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.