Monday, March 3, 2014

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 19: Living As An Overcomer

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 19 discusses "Living As an Overcomer."

"Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." Psalm 107:17-20.

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelation 2:7b.

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 18: Things Lost, Better Things Gained

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 18 discusses the fact that we have to come to grips with the fact that we will have to say "no" to some foods forever. Lysa says that is "part courageous sacrifice and part utter repentance," and though those words can speak of hardship, they can also speak of victory. "But victory won't stay for long if I start resisting and disliking her essential requirements of sacrifice and repentance."

Being at one's goal weight can be dangerous, partly because we want to celebrate and may be tempted to do that with food, partly because we can be tempted to let up on our watchfulness and carefulness. 

Studies have shown that some junk foods are indeed addictive and require more for the same amount of pleasure, so sometimes a little compromise can trigger a major reversal.

"It's really difficult for a chips-and-chocolate girl to uninvite foods to her party that have been regulars for years. And it's even more difficult to reconcile that they aren't my friends. Some can be casual acquaintances on a very limited level, but others need to be banished for good" (emphasis mine).

Lysa brings up I Cor. 6:12 again, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." The very next verse says, "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them."

"Food is not the enemy here. Satan is the enemy. And his stategic plan is to render us ineffective or at least sluggish for the cause of Christ. When we're defeated and stuck in issues of the flesh, it's really hard to fully and passionately follow hard after God. So, lest we start mourning what will be lost, we must celebrate all that's being gained in this process."

"No food will ever taste as sweet as victory does."

Lysa describes tossing away something and says, "This isn't a sign that I am being deprived. This isn't a trigger for me to pout and say it's not fair. This is a sacrifice I am willing to make in order to gain something so much greater than he rest of this biscuit. This is the most empowering thing I can do in this moment!"

"We can't have the mind-set of this being a hard, impossible sacrifice. Focusing only on what we're giving up will make us feel constantly deprived. And deprivation leads to desperation, frustration, and failure. Instead, we have to focus on everything we're gaining though this process and see the gains as more valuable than the losses."

Then Lysa deals with the issue of repentance, for all of the past times we have chosen wrongly and craved food more than God. Instead of "beating ourselves up" with our failures, we can hand them to Him and seek grace, forgiveness, and the power to carry on.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 17: The Very Next Choice We Make

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 17 discusses sustaining the discipline we've developed. If we "diet," reach our goal weight, and then abandon our diet, we'll end up right back where we started from. To get to our goal weight, we have to make sacrifices. But we grow tired of them after a while. How to keep on?

We can't in our own strength. Remembering that discipline in this area is part of our overall pursuit of holiness helps.

Lysa says, "It is good for God's people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation. Only then can we be empty enough and open enough to discover the holiness we were made for. When we're stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don't recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on. Satan wants to keep us distracted by chasing one temporary filling after another."

"The gap between our frail discipline and God's available strength is bridged with nothing but a simple choice on our part to pursue this holiness. Moment by moment we have the choice to live in our own strength and risk failure or to reach across the gap and grab hold of God's unwavering strength. . . the more dependent we become on God's strength, the less enamored we are with other choices."

II Corinthians 7:1 says, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Lysa comments, "Holiness means to be set apart for a noble use. The very next choice we make isn't really about whether or not to eat [the wrong foods].  It's about whether we are going to stay away from those things that are not beneficial for what we are created to be. We are 'taught, with regard to [our] former way of life, to put off [our] old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of [our] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.' (Ephesians 4:22-24)"

"Victory isn't a place we arrive at and then relax. Victory is when we pick something healthy over something not beneficial for us. And we maintain our victories with each next choice." 

Romans 6:19: "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness."

We have to continually yield, "tapping into God's strength," every moment, not just in a once-for-all expression at an altar or bedside. Prayer and Bible study are a part of that, bur Lysa maintains  that another part is "getting to a place where our lack of strength disgusts us," "at the bottom of our excuses and rationalizations . . . when our efforts fail time and time again." Along those lines Lysa asked God to "unsettle" her, which didn't make sense to me until she described it as asking Him to "rattle loose my complacent excuses and break apart my stubborn refusals to  . . really look at whatever pulls my heart away from God."

Lysa describes her study through Psalm 78, about God's blessings and care of Israel from Egypt through the wilderness, and they're forgetting. She quotes verses 17-18 and 21 from the NIV, which say, "But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. When the Lord heard them, he was furious." She says, "I guess the reason this hot me so hard was because it so specifically addresses inappropriate cravings and the reality of how God feels about them."

"Crave means to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly. Pursuing holiness means God is the only One we should long for; want greatly; desire eagerly. The only One worthy of worship."

"Discipline makes disciples who truly understand what it means to delight themselves in the Lord. For the Lord has been allowed to rewrite the desires of their hearts. It's a place not wrought with sacrifice but rather a place where they see healthy choices as overflowing blessings so pure and rich, they'd never trade them."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 16: Why Diets Don't Work

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 16 discusses the problem with diets. Many people can sacrifice short-term, but we all grow weary of it. "So, I'm not on a diet. I'm on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness."

Part of that journey is deciding ahead of time what we will eat. "Deciding in advance keeps my thinking and planning rational and on track." Planning while full, like right after a meal, is helpful, too. "The absolute worst time for me to decide what I'm going to eat is when I've waited until I'm depleted and feeling very hungry."

I Corinthians 10:12-13 says, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." The "way out" the Lord provides for Lysa, she says, is deciding in advance what she will and won't have that day. I have to admit, when I think of the "way out," I think more of God coming to my rescue with supernatural strength and reminders of His truth rather than this kind of thing, but He does also say "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (I Corinthians 10:5), and planning is part of doing that. In Israel's battles, sometimes God supernaturally intervened, and sometimes they had to take up their swords and fight in reliance on Him. When God gives me that "sword" with His promise of help and grace, I'm to use it, not wait for Him to do the battle for me.

The next verse in that passage says "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry." Lysa says, "Expecting anything outside the will of God to satisfy us is idolatry. Nutrition, which is food's intended purpose, means consuming proper portions of healthy choices that enable our bodies to function properly. Idolatry, in the case of food, means the consumption of ill-sized portions and unhealthy choices because we feel like we deserve it or need it to feel better" (p. 158K). We don't need to flee food, because we need it, but we do need "to flee the control food can have over our lives."

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 15: The Demon in the Chips Poster

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 15 discusses the temptation to "sneak" food and the need sometimes not to rationalize but just to flee temptation. She reminds us this battle is not just physical and emotional, but spiritual as well.

Ephesians 6:10-11 say, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Lysa points out that the word for "wiles" ("schemes" in her version) is related to our English word "strategies." Satan's temptations aren't random. Dr. Jim Berg describes them as designer sins: Satan know what will "work" with each of us. But "we hold a power greater than any craving we face" (p. 148K), the truth of God's Word.

Psalm 106:14-15 say, "But [Israel] lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." 

Lysa mentions being in a deprived state creates danger zones, so we have to be extra careful when we're really tried and hungry.

We have to "stop thinking about what I shouldn't have and park my mind on thoughts of being thankful for what I could have." "We must affirm these boundaries as gifts from a God who cares about out health, not restrictive feces meant to keep us from enjoying life. Vulnerable, broken taste buds can't handle certain kinds of freedom. So boundaries keep us safe, not restricted" (p. 149-150K).

Lysa developed these healthy boundaries based on truth:

Made to Crave, Chapter 14: Emotional Emptiness

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 14 discusses emotional triggers to overeat. Lysa discusses being abandoned by her father and the emotional responses that caused and her resulting attempts to derive comfort from food.

Those emotional responses (to any kind of hurt) are not just one-time events. Even when we have experienced salvation and healing in Christ, sometimes our minds can get stuck in those hurtful modes. Lysa reminds us of Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things," and reminds us to "park our minds in a better spot." She then applies each part of Phil. 4:8 step by step to the situation with her father as an example and encouragement for us to do the same with our issues.

Made to Crave, Chapter 13: Overindulgence

I'm participating in the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, and making notes on each chapter here, and I have some catching up to do! I have been reading each chapter on time, but wasn't able to keep up with the notes during an extra-busy week last week.

Chapter 13 is titled "Overindulgence," the problem most of us with weight issues have in some respect. Lysa begins with her preacher's beginning a sermon with pouring a glass of wine, a shocking thing in a Bible-belt church where grape juice is used for communion. He then proceeded to discuss what the Bible actually says about drinking wine and then to apply the same principles to eating. 

I'm not sure I want to get into a full discussion about what the Bible says about drinking here. I knew one preacher who said the wine Jesus turned water into was grape juice and every verse that makes it sound like drinking wine is acceptable is actually talking about grape juice. I just don't think that's intellectually honest. The way it was explained to me was that it was really wine with some degree of alcoholic content, and in Biblical days it was purer than the water, but it was a very low alcoholic content. One would have to partake of quite a bit to be affected by it. The Bible does definitely speak against excess, drunkenness, and "strong drink." There are some verses where wine is coupled with strong drink, others, like the ones where Jesus turned water into wine, and this one and this one, seem to be talking about something acceptable. I don't know whether there were different words used in the different cases or whether it was understood in the day that there was wine and then there was wine. My own reasons for not drinking any kind of alcohol come from having an alcoholic father. Not only have I seen what that kind of excess can do, but I have heard that alcoholism can run in families, and I do have a tendency to overindulge in things I find pleasant, and I don't want to take a step on that path. Plus the Bible warns us against being a stumblingblock to others, and even if I thought partaking was ok, I wouldn't want someone to go by my example and partake and then have problems with it. And in this day and age we have a wide variety of nonalcoholic drinks to choose from.

But whatever one believes about social drinking, the pastor's point is well taken that we can get all in a tizzy about that and then excuse overindulgence in eating, when the Bible warns against gluttony as well. Church potlucks, especially in the South, are notorious for having heaps of unhealthy food that almost everyone scarfs up til they're about to pop, and it is inconsistent to hold strongly against excess in alcohol consumption (drunkenness) and wink at or ok excess in food consumption (gluttony). Proverbs 23:20-21 say, "Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."

The Bible talks about our thirst for God in passages like Psalm 42:1-2: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" and Psalm 143:6: "I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land." When we turn to food for comfort during disappointment or frustration or sadness, we "numb our longings with temporary physical pleasures" instead of taking them to God, who alone can fill our souls. "Overstuffing ourselves with food or drinking until we get drunk or getting wrapped up in the affections of an adulterous relationship are all desparate attempts to silence the cries of a hungry soul."

Lysa then discusses the Israelites reaction when they were in the wilderness and lashed out at God because they needed food and water instead of trusting Him after seeing His great power in all the miracles He had done in their sight. When God provides manna, He "planned to use the Israelites' food issues to teach them the valuable lesson of daily dependence on Him." 

Lamentation 3:22-24 says, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." We can seek Him as our portion instead of excess portions of food.

"There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." Psalm 81:9-10.

"For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." Psalm 107:9.