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Monday, December 27, 2010

Dying to Lies and Illusions

The Bible tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
Eugene Peterson, The Message, paraphrases:

Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
We now know what goes into our minds often comes out in our words and actions. It’s garbage in, garbage out. Most movies today pull our minds into the gutter. The only way to protect the mind is to expose it to the best. You will need to refocus on positive, wholesome, godly, joyous activities the moment you feel the desire to tune to an avenue of celebrity adoration. The good news is God designed people to adapt.

Dr. Norman Doidge, in his book The Brain the Changes Itself, wrote, “Each time patients try to shift gears, they begin fixing their “transmission” by growing new circuits and altering the caudate. By refocusing, the patient is learning not to get sucked in by the content of an obsession but to work around it.”

I made a decision to switch from senseless celebrity-oriented television shows years ago. Instead of eliminating television altogether, I began watching more creation-based programming. I believe when we watch this type of programming in lieu of the entertainment celebrity menu, we become a more interesting person because of our newfound knowledge. Secondly, creation gives dramatic evidence of God’s existence. I always have something to talk to God about, which strengthens our relationship.
Surrender means we stop watching non-sense and begin to engage in other activities such as talking to a family member, walking or grooming the dog, clean out and organize your closet, learn a new language, or exercise. Go for a walk with God, capturing the majesty of his creation. As Christians we are called to practice spiritual disciplines to help us seek God such as reading our Bible, prayer, corporate worship, fasting, going on a retreat, mediation and solitude. Each discipline strengthens our relationship with God and begins the process of breaking our attachment to celebrity masters.

Will you refocus as the Holy Spirit directs? Write down how many times a day you interact with media: TV, computer, cell phone, DVD, etc. Compare that to how many times a day you participate in a faith-based exercise (reading your Bible, or listening to Christian radio, a sermon CD or music).

This is a lifelong endeavor, so may I suggest following this book with another book I wrote: Breaking the Cover Girl Mask. There is one thing I have learned: there is no freedom without a change of mind. In this book, you will be given more proven techniques to optimize heart and mind, even brain function, restoring the new mind and nature Christ died to give you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saying Good Bye

In a beloved song, "Muppets Take Manhattan," the very sad Miss Piggy sings, “Saying goodbye, going away, Seems like goodbye's such a hard thing to say.”

What does it mean to say “good bye” to the familiar? It means to renounce or give up that something. No question, letting go of what is familiar is difficult. It’s hard because presently we have something tangible we can hang onto, something we perceive brings us pleasure and happiness. When we let go or say “good bye” we don’t have anything tangible in our hands. We feel a void.

God’s first commandment: let nothing be more important than him (Exodus 20:3). Our hearts and minds must be centered on God and on loving others. He fills those voids. The prophet Isaiah warned, “Stop trusting in man; do not follow the way of this people” (Isaiah 2:22; 8:11).

What I want you to realize is when you let go you open the doors to freedom. But I can’t show you scientific measurable results. This is called faith. What Jesus is asking us to do is give him all our tangibles. What he gives us in return is immeasurable love and purpose. This can be extremely scary. I know. Even though we are spiritual beings we still live in a material world. It’s tough.
God said, “I have made you, you are my servant; O Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:21-22).

In God’s eyes, a servant is the greatest of all. Recognize that being a servant won’t make you famous—just rich spiritually. No celebrity or idol can love you this way and do this for you. Only God Almighty!
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

A big reason we remain immature and in the dark, unaffected by truth, is we are dying to all the wrong things. Many of us have extravagantly designed fantasies and a wish list that our real lives can’t nearly support. It’s time to demolish some things and get off our celebrity inspired thrones—a must in the pursuit of becoming an authentic person.

This is our season of truth! Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything. It says there is a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, and a time to love (verses 6-8). This is our time to search, to throw away and to rebuild.

We talked a little about surrendering ourselves. Surrender is an act of the will and accepting what God has ordained as his purpose in our circumstances. It is an intention. But we have to go one step further and take an action step—lay it aside. Another word is detachment, which means we stop finding meaning and security in people, things, positions, money and power so they no longer lure us into unChristlike behaviors.

Jesus said, "Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me!” (Luke 9:23, TLB). I think too often this is one of those biblical truths that has been misapplied. Taken out of context it results in a narrow and faulty theology that basically says, “If you really want to follow Christ you must suffer and be miserable. The more you suffer, the more God will love you.”

Jesus meant we must accept the death of our own self-directed life. This means we say good-bye to an undisciplined inner life—the one that receives its nourishment from the world. In that process we must be willing to face whatever physical, emotional, or social harassments ensue—loss of certain friends (they were probably not real friends to begin with), being ridiculed for our beliefs, swapping happy hour for serving the homeless, or saying no to those seductive cosmetic dermatology offers.

Research suggests that in many crucial areas evangelical Christians are not living any differently from their unbelieving neighbors. We are being asked to give up pride, arrogance, greed for power and money, judgmentalism, bitterness, hypocrisy, denial, stubbornness—sins that are described for us in the Scriptures.

We are not being asked to die to the good parts of who we are. God has never asked us to lay aside healthy desires and the pleasures of life. He plants those desires in our heart so we will nourish and nurture them. These are gifts from God. No one should feel guilty for unwrapping them.

God said, “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults” (Isaiah 51:7). If people make fun of you or dislike you because you choose to follow Christ, remember, they are not against you personally, but against God. God will deal with them.

Living out this verse is not easy. It takes everything to follow Jesus. It’s hard to concentrate solely on loving him and others. I struggle repeatedly. But the love of Jesus and watching my personal transformation into his likeness, no matter how slow the progress, is the reward.

Too many of us live spiritually like a person who is on a diet but leaves a pack of frozen pizzas in the freezer. Let’s be honest—it is extremely difficult to deny ourselves what we truly desire while at the same time admit our shortcomings. People want us to be perfect. Our own expectations can be extreme. If we choose to go on this journey, God will refine us over time. As he refines us we gain more strength to pick up that cross.

Becoming a Christian does not guarantee immediate strength or perfection. Like gold being refined through a transformative process, God will make us better and stronger with time—lots of time! We'll be tempted to ignore and deny our faults, but if we don't face them it becomes impossible to refine them. Our mindset needs to change to: don't go through life, grow through life.

Jesus said, “If your eye--even if it is your best eye--causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. Better for part of you to be destroyed than for all of you to be cast into hell. If your hand--even your right hand--causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. Better that than find yourself in hell” (Matthew 5:30, TLB).
When Jesus said this he wasn’t speaking figuratively. He didn’t mean to literally gouge out your eye or cut off your hand. Even a blind person can lust and an amputee can steal. Today, especially, we tolerate sin in our lives. Left unchecked it can destroy us. This line of discipline is stern. However, it is better in the long run to experience the pain of removal—getting grid of that bad habit or something we treasure, than to allow sin to bring pain, in addition to condemnation and discipline by God.

We have a choice—to stay as we are: comfortable, perhaps safe, but tragically unfilled. Or, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we determinedly demolish those things that stand in the way of our relationship with God and others. God said “to the captives, 'Come out,' and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'” (Isaiah 49:9).

Although it often feels like we are helpless, we are not. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit and therefore the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). It is our responsibility as Christians to "choose this day whom we will serve" (Joshua 24:15), to actively pursue our sinful behaviors and examine ourselves to determine if we are striving toward the finish line in a manner that would be pleasing to our Lord (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). It is such a comfort to know that his power is made perfect in our weakness and that his grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What is God asking you to let go of—to do or not to do? What must you commit to Jesus and say farewell to so that you aren’t continually recaptured by the world? Money held the rich young ruler's heart. What has a hold on your heart?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks In, Not For

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells Christians: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This is a tough one for many of us. Are we thankful we are in bondage to an eatign disorder? I don't think so! I really like Dr. David Jeremiah’s viewpoint (Turning Points). He writes,

What could have motivated Horatio Spafford to pen the words to the mighty hymn "It Is Well with My Soul?" Before writing the hymn he had lost his only son in 1871, been financially ruined by the great Chicago fire of the same year, and then lost his four daughters at sea in 1873. His motivation was likely the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks."

Many claim the verse is unrealistic: How could anyone give thanks for events like Spafford endured? But the verse says to give thanks in all things, not for all things. God expects no one to be thankful for tragedies that befall us in this life. But He does expect us to trust Him in the midst of such circumstances. In those difficult times, we can thank God that He will cause all things to work together for good in our life (Romans 8:28). While we grieve for those events and the losses incurred, we can give thanks even while in their midst.

Giving thanks when things are good requires enthusiasm, but giving thanks in hard times requires faith. If you are in the midst of difficulties, begin each day with a prayer of thanks.

"Prayer without thanksgiving is like a bird without wings." - William Hendriksen

[next blog will continuue "Obstructing Mental Paths.]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sifting Out Negative Thoughts [part 3]

We've been talking about tossin gout our negative thoughts--taking those thoughts captive and giving them to Jesus. Jesus was disciplined to follow the will of his Father. Then there is us—we impulsively put each thought into action immediately, instead of taking that thought captive. That is our flesh in action. Every one of our thoughts must be sifted through the filter system in our brain. Your brain allows you to select approximately 15-35 percent of what you read, hear, and see while getting rid of the remaining 65-85 percent.

Some of those thoughts get thrown out like trash. Others end up in the recycle bin and we find we’re taking them captive over and over again. If we build our mind with Scripture and godly thinking, then everything that goes through that sifter that is not scriptural, or truth, will set off our mental alarm. We reject it and toss it into the trash bin.

Physiologically, toxic thoughts upset the chemical balance in your brain, putting your body in a harmful state. The only way to prevent this from happening is by sifting through the toxic information and tossing it out. When you set your mind on Jesus and consciously take control of your thought life, it doesn’t take long for the positive benefits to kick in.
When that thought gets to the brain’s filter system, stop, and ask:

1. What good or happiness do I think I am missing if I don’t stop this thought?
2. What is the result that I’m trying to get by acting this way?
3. How do I think my response will lead to meeting my unmet needs?

The fact is already formed thoughts and habits will resist. The flesh will fight but it will be bridled by the Holy Spirit. The beast will trouble you, but prayer will send him away. If you learn to bring every negative thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, it will be one of your greatest assets when the time of trial comes, because your faith and the Spirit of God will work together.

Take Your Thoughts Captive [part 2]

Last week I said that everyday we make thousands of choices. Much of what we do comes from habitual behaviors. Most of our decisions are made by our unconscious. We gravitate towards familiarity; even though it may be unhealthy, it is comfortable. To take a different path becomes increasingly difficult unless a roadblock of some kind is put in the path to help us change direction.

It works this way: You have a thought. Your brain releases chemicals which can be emotionally toxic or not. An electrical transmission goes across your brain. Then you become aware of what you’re thinking. Thoughts stimulate emotions that result in an attitude which finally produces behavior.

The sum of all our thoughts comprises our overall attitude which we act out. Allowing our minds to dwell on envy, lust, greed, or revenge only leads to bad behavior. All negative or wrong behavior starts with that one thought. It goes like this:

1. One negative thought produces a one or a number of toxic feelings 
2. Produces a toxic attitude and negative (or wrong) beliefs 
3. Make a wrong or destructive decision 
4. Results in wrong actions or destructive behavior 
5. Ongoing negative behavior eventually wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies.

When we become aware of a negative thought, we have a choice: to let it go through or put up a road block. The answer: put up a road block. Where do we get this road block? The living Word of God. It’s the God tool we use to erect a road block.

Eugene Peterson, The Message, paraphrases 2 Corinthian 10:5-6, “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”

The NIV says, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That means we interrogate it and toss it out, or let the thought through. When prisoners are taken captive, they are interrogated. When we take a thought captive, we do the same: “Why am I thinking this way?” “Why do I keep doing what I don’t want to do? Where is this thought this coming from?” We stop and ask God for information. Job did this (see book of Job). But Job also learned it was not okay to demand answers from God. Sometimes we don’t get an answer. We accept that and move forward. We ask God questions such as:

• How did I get here? What are my core values? Who influences me strongly?
• What is it about the way I am designed and my past experiences that attracts me to those influencers? How do I detach myself?
• Where do I place you on my priority list? My family? Myself?
• What do I need to do in life, with your help, to attain balance and happiness?
• What values or convictions have I discovered that are causing conflict in my life?

Continued next week!

Obstructing Mental Tracks [part 1]

If we can stop the negativity going on in our heads, we can also stop our negative behaviors; therefore, we are not helpless nor are we captive to our genetics or predispositions over which we have no power. Instead, we have the power to change and stop the cycle of destructive behaviors and attitudes.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). What an incredible promise to claim, especially when we believe we are "transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2). God would not have told us this if he didn’t give us the ability to do it. This is exactly what Paul was talking about when he wrote in Philippians 4:8, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." [It is noteworthy that he wrote this while in prison under conditions that would make any normal person depressed!]

God gives us the ability to think like this. The plastic brain is like a snowy hill in winter. Aspects of that hill—the slope, the rocks, the consistency of the snow—are like our genes, a given. When we slide down on a sled, we can steer it and will end up at the bottom of the hill by following a path determined both by how we steer and the characteristics of the hill. Where exactly we will end up is hard to predict because there are so many factors in play.

What will definitely happen the second time you take the slope down is that you will more likely than not find yourself somewhere or another that is related to the path you took the first time. It won’t be exactly that path, but it will be closer to that one than any other. If you spend your entire afternoon sledding down, walking up, sledding down, at the end you will have some paths that have been used a lot, some that have been used very little…and there will be tracks that you have created, and it is very difficult now to get out of those tracks (Dr. Pascual-Leone).

We all have mental tracks that get laid down. They can lead to good habits or bad habits. It is possible to get out of those old tracks and start new ones. It can be difficult because once we have created these tracks, they become “really speedy” and very efficient at guiding the sled down the hill. Our usual obstacle is giving up familiarity and comfort. Additionally, stress, fatigue, and not having basic needs met, will tempt us to stay on the same course.

Everyday we make thousands of choices. Much of what we do comes from habitual behaviors. Most of our decisions are made by our unconscious. We gravitate towards familiarity; even though it may be unhealthy, it is comfortable. To take a different path becomes increasingly difficult unless a roadblock of some kind is put in the path to help us change direction.

continued next week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Disarming Deception (by Beth Moore)

Deception is the glue that holds every stronghold together. Let’s reflect on this concept: nothing is bigger or more powerful than God; therefore, anything other than Jesus Christ mastering the Christian’s life can keep its grip only through pretension and deception. Remember, Satan is the father of lies.1 No truth is in him. However, his specialty is twisting a lie until it seems true. The list of lies we often believe when we are held in a stronghold can be unlimited. Consider just a few examples:

I can never be victorious over this compulsion. I’ve had it too long.
I can’t help the mess I'm in. I'm caught, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
It may be a stronghold, but I really need it to get by.
I am absolutely worthless nothing but a failure.
I'm in control here. This is not controlling me.
This isn’t doing me any harm. I can handle it.
I’ll know just when to stop.

After all I’ve been through, I deserve this. There’s nothing wrong with this relationship. People just don’t understand us.
Everyone thinks these kinds of thoughts most of the time. I'm only human.
God may work for other people, but He doesn’t work for me.
I’ll just have to wait until heaven to get over this. Real victory isn’t possible on earth. God can’t possibly fill the void in my life. I need something more.
I am too emotionally handicapped to ever be OK.
It’s hopeless. I'm hopeless.

Sometimes we’re very aware of tolerating or even fueling a lie. Other times, we are caught in such a web that we can no longer see ourselves or our situations accurately. It’s not always clear when we’re being deceived, but one sure sign is when we begin to deceive. All you have to do to locate Satan in any situation is look for the lie. How do we recognize a lie? Anything we believe or act on that is contrary to what the truth of God’s Word says about us is a lie. Second Corinthians 4:2 tells us how to respond to such things: “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God.” This passage helps us identify four of Satan’s specialties that must be renounced and rejected by the believer in order for him/her to walk in victory: secrecy, shame, deception, and distortion of Scripture.

As you consider each one, you can readily imagine how deception permeates all four and how interrelated they are. Satan’s plans toward the believer are always the antithesis of God’s. Our Redeemer wants to loose us from the closets of secrecy and bring us to a spacious place of joy, freedom, authenticity, and transparency. Satan wants to keep us bound in secrecy where he can weigh us down in guilt, misery, and shame. Oh, beloved, I know from experience that so much of the shame we experience is wrapped up in the secret. In fact, the enemy knows that once we expose the secret places of our lives to the light of God’s Word, we’re on our way to freedom.

I'm not suggesting that the only way to be free is to stand up before our congregations and tell every detail of every sin we’ve ever committed or considered. The King James Version translates James 5:16 far more accurately than several other versions: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (emphasis mine). Some of the other translations say, “Confess your sins to each other…” (emphasis mine). The original word translated “faults” in the KJV and “sins” in the NIV is paraptoma, which means “fault, lapse, error, mistake, wrongdoing.” Contrast 1 John 1:9 where we are told, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” The original word for “sin” in this verse is hamartia, meaning any way in which we miss the mark and any “aberration from the truth.” James 5:16 refers to the confessions we make to others, while 1 John 1:9 refers to the confessions we make to God. Please notice the slight contrast between sharing our faults, weaknesses, and mistakes with others and confessing every detail of every sin to God.

If we’re going to live in freedom, we have no choice but to renounce every single secret place of sin in our lives to God, exposing even the smallest detail to the light of God’s Word. This is the means by which God injects truth in the inner parts.2 I have also found incalculable help and freedom in confessing details of my past sins and strongholds to a few other trustworthy, mature believers for the sake of accountability. There are a couple of people I really trust who basically know every detail of my life.

Living a consistently victorious life takes courage! But this courage leads to a glorious, indescribable liberty! What relief awaits you if you really decide to let God’s truth set you free…then keep you free. Be willing to ask God on a regular basis if you are overlooking or denying a stronghold in your life. Because of my past track record, I’ve had to learn to dialog openly with God about areas of my life that are at risk: areas where I’ve been defeated before or circumstances that suddenly result in anger or insecurity. I also ask Him to help me discern the very first signs of Satan’s deceptions in my life.

Let’s reiterate, however, that the most effective way to veer from deception is to walk in truth. Third John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” The wonderful news is: the joy that results from your walk in truth won’t just be God’s. It will be yours, too. As Christ said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

1 John 8:44
2 Psalm 51:6

Adapted from Praying God's Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore, © 2000 by Beth Moore, Broadman & Holman Publishers

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Think of it this way. Your mind is like a computer. In your computer, you’ve probably got years of data collected. In your mind, you have years of rejection, hurt, deception, and anger programmed. You made a choice: to believe the data or not; to delete the data or not.

The word “truth” appears more than 224 times in the Bible. We need to begin to deal with the lies that put us in bondage and replace them with the truth. The truth will set us free. By giving ourselves to Jesus, we begin to see Satan’s power and lies, then we begin to resist him. Dr. Larry Crabb said, “The soul will not be healed without truth.”

It has been said that Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. That’s not because he is afraid of us. It’s because he knows that the power of God gives us victory over the works of darkness.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. If God can say these things about you, then you can say these things about yourself. Start by reminding yourself you are a child of the Almighty God. Truth!

We have to battle directly the enemy’s lies and confusion. The antidote for deception is truth. As you recognize a lie, defend yourself out loud. Those that meditate over and speak God’s Word’s out loud tend to change their thinking and habits faster. Truth changes our thinking, and thinking changes our behavior. Achieving a new way of life consists of repeating positive actions.

Read the following list and find the statements that best describe you. Then speak it out loud in your own words from your heart!

Corrupt Data: I am fat.
Speak it out: I am beautiful! I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
God’s Word: Psalms 139:14; 1 Peter 3:3-4

Corrupt Data: I am dumb and stupid.
Speak it out: I have the mind of Christ!
God’s Word: 1 Corinthians 2:16

Corrupt Data: I can’t! I’ve been sick too long and I can’t get well.
Speak it out: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
God’s Word: Philippians 4:13

Corrupt Data: I am ugly.
Speak it out: I am made in God’s image!
God’s Word: Genesis 1:27

Corrupt Data: Nothing I’ve tried works. I am weak and a lost cause.
Speak it out: I am strong!
God’s Word: 2 Corinthians 12:9; Joel 3:10

Corrupt Data: I am lost. I don’t know how to get back to normal.
Speak it out: I am found!
God’s Word: Psalm 23:1-4; Luke 15:6

Corrupt Data: I am a victim of my past and will never be able to overcome that.
Speak it out: I am a victor!
God’s Word: Psalm 60:12; 1 Corinthians 15:57

Corrupt Data: I am nothing. I am worthless.
Speak it out: I am treasured!
God’s Word: Deuteronomy 7:6

Corrupt Data: I am so scared.
Speak it out: I am safe!
God’s Word: Proverbs 18:10; Psalms 3:3

Corrupt Data: I can never be healed. I don’t deserve to be healed.
Speak it out: I am healed!
God’s Word: Isaiah 53:5

Corrupt Data: I am not loved.
Speak it out: God loves me!
God’s Word: John 15:9

Corrupt Data: I have been addicted to food for over “x” years. I’ll never be free.
Speak it out: The Spirit lives in me—I am free!
God’s Word: 2 Corinthians 3:17

Corrupt Data: No one likes me. You wouldn’t like me.
Speak it out: My worth is in who God says I am!
God’s Word: Psalms 8:5-8

These are God’s Words. So get into His Word (the Bible) everyday. Not only will you begin to see the truth, but also your faith will grow stronger. You will find that over time, your spiritual muscles of resisting Satan will grow, and the battle will get easier.

Speak it out: I am beautiful! I am lovable! I am worthy. I am capable! I’m not just saying that—God says that!

Read this excerpt from “I’m Beautiful? Why Can’t I See It?” by Kimberly Davidson.

Need support + encouragment for disordered eating? Visit: Olive Branch Outreach @

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Power of Transformation

The Apostle Paul, like us, got frustrated with his own thoughts. Winning the war over himself—the war for freedom and joy is what he called a transformation through the “renewing of the mind” (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23).

Scripture clearly presents us as needing to have our hearts replaced and our minds transformed. Our minds and hearts have to be changed in such a way that the old negative values, beliefs + practices of the old mindset—ARE REWIRED. It is a learned behavior. It is a discipline. Any one of us can cultivate it.

Science is now proving what the Bible has said all along. God designed us with the ability to change our own brains. When God says we are to renew our mind, he gives us the ability to do that. We actually can “rewire” our brain which means we can change our thinking.

Think of transformation as a training process—the trainer is the Holy Spirit and the word of God—they work together to change our relationships—behaviors—attitudes—beliefs—our sin. And in the process God gives us grace. Grace is a gift from God—Through the Holy Spirit’s power we are able to do things—things that are the will of God—things we could never do on our own—in our own strength.

Begin to ask God regularly show you what’s behind your thoughts and attitudes
I call this interrogation. Is it rejection? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? Shame? Guilt? Name your bondage. Lord, help me replace these lies with Truth--with your Word.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Great Restorer

This week I want to share a woman's story of her release from the bondage of an eating disorder. Very often we pray that God will do a miracle and we will just stop our disordered eating. Sometimes that happens, but more ofthen than not he will use a team of people. Never underestimate that those people have come into your lilfe as part of God's divine intervention.

Written by Sara Byrum Major.
My struggle with an eating disorder began in the summer of 1994 when I was 12. It was the summer before my 8th grade year of middle school. I remember challenging myself to not eat in between meals. I was successful that summer and it felt right and good. That decision spiraled into full blown anorexia.

My parents sought out help for me. I saw a nutritionist and various psychiatrists and psychologists. By my senior year of high school, five years later, I had gained a healthy amount of weight. My control over anorexia seemed to be lost. I was devastated and felt lazy and ugly. I found myself over eating and then beating myself up again and again as I felt I had lost my identity as 'the skinny girl' and my ability to control myself. It was not until a couple of years ago that I was able to see that those years, my last year of high school on into my college years, I was still struggling with my eating disorder.

Since 1994 I have run ED's gamut. From anorexia to binge eating to 'mild' restricting back to anorexia and then bulimia and then binge eating. I am so thankful to say that God has placed awesome professionals and others in my life that have facilitated my recovery. I cannot tell you the exact moment that I 'got' it...and I think that I am still in the process of 'getting it'. I know that God is working in my life. With His grace I am 'getting' who I am. I was not created to live a life in bondage to my ED. I have lots of positive things to do in this world. I'm excited and ready!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prescription for Stress

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found those dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

You cannot overcome something you have not yet admitted is there. There’s a bumper sticker that says, “Life never seems to turn out the way you think it will 90% of the time.” Why is life so hard? We’ve got impressive, timesaving computers and gadgets, yet we are over-stressed because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything we want.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, when women are stressed they cope by opting for unhealthy habits. The most common are eating (39%); shopping (25%); smoking (17%); drinking (15%); and gambling (4%). (“Stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.”) This is bondage.

Though difficult, it is necessary to ask God to do spiritual surgery on us. How can we heal from something that we have not yet even recognized? We must see and then admit to what is actually going on in our hearts and minds, thus, begin a journey that will lead us into complete freedom.

Healing requires that we take an honest look at ourselves: our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and false identities. It is normal to minimize self-defeating behaviors, all-consuming negative thoughts, and our own desperate need for help. By acknowledging our struggles, we can begin to try to change the thoughts that underlie our behaviors. That is our choice.

Do you think it is possible for our deepest thoughts and emotions to lie to us?
The prophet Jeremiah certainly thought so when, inspired by God, he wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9)?

Being in denial about a struggle is one way we deceive ourselves. We believe it is not that bad: it’s only temporary and will not always be this way. It is easy to feel defeated during the discouraging days, but hopeless thoughts only feed the devil.

Choices are always before us. We may choose to continue our journey or give up, to focus on God or focus on ourselves, to take steps forward or take steps backward. We also may or may not choose to learn from the decisions we make in any particular moment. As we travel with the Lord leading the way, we will be strengthened and encouraged during difficult times. Ultimately, he joins with us to declare victory – and we celebrate together.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Time to Plant

I live in the country and watch the farmers. When a farmer works a field, he begins by preparing the soil. Then he’ll sow, disc, harrow, fertilize, harrow again, and finally plant. It is a lot of work. After he plants, he stops for a while to allow the seeds time to grow. He waits and hopes for a rich crop.

The seeds of change need some time to germinate and grow. Our emotions need time to catch up with change. We have been plowed and prepared, and now, we give God’s power the necessary time to create in us an internal change.

The author of Ecclesiastes wrote:

"What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him" (Ecclesiastes 3:9-14).

God says He will make everything beautiful in its time. If we are not willing to wait, we are faced with self-will (insisting on our way). That’s destructive. Waiting is an art and can be very powerful. If you can wait, you will often achieve something that you may not have achieved otherwise.

1 Peter 1:13 prepares us for what’s ahead: “Therefore prepare your minds for actions; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Focusing on preparation for change will encourage our faith by allowing us to detach gracefully from our past.

We have a lot of negative talk, old patterns, and beliefs shoved deep down inside (at the core). We’re beginning to let go of them and are replacing them with positive patterns and behavior. The principles of God’s Word are the richest source for positive pattern change.

God can’t change us unless we are ready, willing, and able for Him to do so. Who among us is entirely ready to have our sin and character deficiencies removed? You may discover that there is a point at which you say, “No, I can’t give this up yet.” That is not uncommon. We cannot remove sin or our character deficiencies without the help of God.

“I have held many things in my hands and lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
–Martin Luther

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Mask of Pride

As a little girl I didn’t think twice about humiliating a classmate. I didn’t say unkind things to be malicious. It was an infantile attempt to build myself up. As an adult I spewed sarcasm, I am better and smarter than you are. Some say we are all born with a mask of pride and selfishness. If so, in my case something went very wrong. My mask of pride morphed into a monster mask, not easily discarded after Halloween.

Around my 17th birthday, a monster crept into my life. It started when I lost fifteen pounds. I received compliments and praise and I wanted more. A friend told me how I could eat everything I wanted, and still lose weight with self-induced vomiting (bulimia). This is so easy! Within months bulimia became my choice of weight control. I was determined to stay thin at any cost, and that included abusing substances like alcohol, cigarettes, diet pills, diuretics and laxatives.
I learned that the pride I developed as a child had a motivating effect on the development of my eating disorder. Pride was blinding – it told me that my behavior was acceptable and kept me from seeking the help I desperately needed.

Pride had a great sense of humor. I laughed all the time so that people would think I was confident. Aren’t I funny and smart! However, on the inside, pride kept me immobile, unable to break the grips and admit I needed help.

One day I met a man who invited me to church. There I faced the truth of who I was and how I dishonored the God-given gift of a healthy body. This marvelous creation was designed to be a temple of the Living God. I made a cesspool of it.
I felt the pain of acknowledging my pride and shameful behavior. In bitter confession I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I asked forgiveness for self-centered pride and desire for popularity.

I began reading the Bible, and learned all about my Father. He is good, loving and wants the very best for me. The power of God’s Word started the transformation process of renewing my spirit and mind. A desire grew in me to honor God with all I had and was. I begged God for strength to win the battle. As I prayed, I quite unexpectedly had a desire to take up art. It hit me! I don’t have the ‘urge to purge’. God heard that desperate cry and intervened. My mind shifted from being thin and beautiful to being creative and productive.

God forced me to take a good, hard look at myself, and the attributes of a prideful person.

1 – Competitive. I always felt I was in competition with other women. I took pleasure in seeing them brought down by problems and pain. The Bible says (James 3:16) that where we have envy and selfish ambition, there we will find disorder. I began to realize I was comparing the inside of me to the outside of them. I was looking at them in their ball gown, whilst standing there in my underwear. I found that if I took the time and examined them, their “inside” was just as disorderly (or more so). Then I was grateful for the blessings God had given me.

2- Controlling. I had a possessive nature. You don’t need to invite her along. This was fear and insecurity. My poor self-image, anxieties, and fears were all my own doing because I didn’t seek God’s counsel. As God began to help me with my fearfulness, my self-image began to improve, and I shed my possessive nature.

3- Exaggerated sense of self-importance. I took everything to an extreme because I needed to please everyone and gain their approval. Then I began striving for a ‘spirit of excellence’. If I have faith, God will provide the success.

4- Self-righteous. I constantly compared myself to others. I’m thinner, I’m better than you. I learned if I pass judgment on someone else, I am condemning myself because I do the same things (Romans 2:1).

God gently took off my mask of pride and revealed the person He created. He guided me to do and be things I never dreamt of. It’s good to be free!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Throw out Toxic Thoughts like Rejection

As a kid, our family moved quite a bit. The first major move was age seven, moving from America to London, England. I was teased by schoolmates because I didn’t fit into the culture. I was unlike them because I had an accent. I felt stupid because I needed a tutor. I was weird because my clothes were different.

You never get used to other kids being mean, but in time you learn how not to feel the sting of rejection so much because of a deep-seeded desire for acceptance. I worked tirelessly trying to conform to the way I thought my peer group and teachers wanted me to be. And today it’s not much different. Young girls experience a great deal of pressure from the culture to create a false self, a mask. This disorients and depresses many girls because they feel the pressure to be someone they’re not.

Rejection is one of our most powerful and destructive emotions. It may cause as much distress in the pain center of the brain as an actual physical injury, according to research. Rejection feels like pain to the brain. Perhaps this is why we use the term "hurt feelings." One of the studies’ authors said, "While everyone accepts that physical pain is real, people are tempted to think that social pain is just in their heads, but physical and social pain may be more similar than we realized."

Scientists at UCLA recently found that rejection triggers responses in the body that can increase a person’s risk for maladies such as asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Social stress such as rejection causes inflammation, which can have detrimental effects on mental and physical health.

God has a plan to help us throw out toxic thinking. Think of your mind like a large, clear vase filled with dirty, murky water. Your job is to fill the vase with clear, fresh water until it is no longer dirty and cloudy. The clincher is—you only have an eyedropper to do it. After adding the first few drops, you don’t see any change. This is when you may be tempted to give up. That’s the devil.

We keep running our thoughts through our brain’s filter system. Eventually the water is less dingy. The more drops of water you add, and the more lies that are replaced by truth, the cleaner the water, your mind, becomes. While there will be residual effects, you have made significant improvements. Believe it!

The Bible describes this clean water theory, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9, my emphasis).

Do not believe every first thought that pops in. Paul is saying that if a thought is not true, don’t let it enter your mind!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Filling Our Soul Hole

Genesis 3 tells us that mankind is flawed. Every person’s heart comes with a huge hole designed to be filled with God’s unfailing, dependable, perfect, lasting and uncritical love. Our soul holes can only be satisfied when we enjoy God. This particular devotion, Forward Day by Day (July 22, 2010) says it so perfectly:

Psalm 42:1-7. As the deer longs for the water-brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

The psalmist compares animal thirst to our spiritual yearning. As animals ourselves, we know of physical thirsts, hungers, and cravings. But our souls also thirst, hunger, and crave. They crave God.

There is within us a huge God-shaped space that can be filled only by God. Many people do not realize this and seek to fill it with something else. But food and drink will not fill it. Health and good looks will not fill it. The affection and admiration of other people will not fill it. No peak human experience--art, rewards, childbirth, drugs, glories, honors, music, sex--can fill it. The God-space can be gratified only by the one who designed it for his own abode. Only God can fill what was meant only for God.

As Saint Augustine wrote: "You awaken and stir us so that only in praising you can we be content. You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you." (2004)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Your Royal Wedding

When you were a little girl, were you mesmerized with the stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as I was? I frequently imagined what it would be like to be rescued by a handsome prince and live happily ever after in elegant gowns. Then I grew up and witnessed the fall of Prince Charming. I realized my palace was really a stable and my job was to clean up after his horse, much like Cinderella’s old existence.

How could I be so dumb for believing in a fairy-tale existence? Maybe I wasn’t so dumb. Maybe males are wired to fail so there’d be a place in our heart for our Prince—Jesus. Think about it, if all these guys were the real Prince Charming, why would we need Jesus?

Fairy tales may not come true, but when you take Jesus’s hand and commit to follow him, your status changes to royalty. You become his daughter, the daughter of the King, a joint heir with Jesus Christ, chosen of God. To be a “chosen one” is to be uniquely loved as one of Christ’s own (Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:9). Soak in this truth.
When God chooses us, he pulls us out of the mainstream of humanity. He draws us close to him and begins the process of c hanging us into Christlikness. God will never force us into a relationship with him, but when we respond, we are called holy one, separate one, and a saint (1 Cor. 1:2). We are also called to be different from the world.

[this is an excerp from "breaking the cover girl mask"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why Do I Have to Suffer?

When we feel imprisoned, we ask, Where is God?

One night, Carol was purging for the third time in one hour. All of a sudden, she felt a piercing, stinging sensation in her throat and she began gagging. She looked down in the toilet bowl and witnessed a puddle of blood. It’s okay, she thought, I’ve bled before (denial). But the blood kept coming. What am I going to do? Who can I tell? Nobody knows my horrible, shameful secret.

So she didn’t tell anyone. For the next two days, Carol suffered and existed in agony. On the third day, she checked into the emergency room. When I woke up, the doctor told me I had a very large ulcer in my throat that was on the verge of rupturing, which could lead to death.

This is a picture of both physical and emotional suffering. We each have our own story. Why does this all-powerful God allow us to suffer so, especially if He is a loving God? The Bible doesn’t spell out all of His reasons: “How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!” (Romans 11:33, TLB). But the Bible does give us insights into how He uses troubles for good.
Peter goes so far as to insist that suffering is our calling. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:22).

God has a specific objective in mind for our suffering. He knows exactly the intensity and the duration that’s needed to fulfill His purposes. Through the whole process, whether it’s days, weeks, months, or years, we have His promise. “The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). Oliver Wendell Holmes understood this truth when he wrote, “If I had a formula for ridding mankind of trouble, I think I would not reveal it, for in doing so, I would do him a disservice.”

Scripture doesn’t say we won’t pass through rough waters. What does God promise us in Isaiah 43:2? “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

God will be with us in those waters. It doesn’t say that we won’t have bad days. It doesn’t tell us that rivers won’t roar at our feet. Scripture tells us that they will not overwhelm us. There will be fiery places. But because of God’s great love, we will not be consumed in the fire.

“When life is good we tend to have no questions, but when life is bad we have no answers.” –Mike Mason

[this is an excerpt from "I'm Beauiful? Why Can't I See It?"]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Perfect Look

As a teen and young woman I used to think, What I’d give to be a super-model!
The boys in my sixth grade class told me I could be a model but only for Mad Magazine. I started to create collages of models because they represented “perfection” to me. They became my idols. Models and actresses give me life! I turned my heart to idols because I connected with them. An idol is anything, or anyone, we put our trust in in order to meet our needs apart from God. An idol can be described as a God substitute.

Isaiah 44:17-18 says, “From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, ‘Save me; you are my god.’ They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.”

Can you see how an idol (perfect person) might be a delusion? Inevitably, my idols made me feel worthless and humiliated because I couldn’t measure up to their standards. I hate my body! Why do so many of us hate our bodies? Why aren’t we pleased with what God gave us? We cry, “I must be beautiful and perfect!”

We ignore our genetic code. So what happens? Since we can’t attain that perfection, we don’t feel good about ourselves because our self-esteem has become related to our body and self-image. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, it’s hard to develop meaningful relationships with others.

Whatever happened to the importance of “inner beauty?” The Bible says, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Christ looks at the heart. Why are we all so enslaved to the way we look?

1. We buy into the lies the media feeds us.
Our hearts believe the lies that physical beauty will bring satisfaction and recognition. False promises like, If I’m beautiful, I will be happy and successful. I’ll be popular and desirable to men. I will know lasting intimacy and true love. I’ll be secure, important, significant, and confident.

2. Other factors (besides attaining perfectionism) can contribute to abnormal eating habits.

For example, depression, a dysfunctional family system, control and dependency, performance pressure from the family (especially in the area of grades and other parent appointed activities), involvement in activities that promote thinness like gymnastics, swimming, dancing, cheerleading, running, ice-skating, and appearance-oriented activities like modeling and beauty pageants.

God knows women are interested in making themselves look good. The apostle Peter defines inner beauty for us:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful (1 Peter 3:3-5).

3. What kind of adorning does God think is beautiful in women?
Examples of beauty: there is beauty in integrity, intelligence, humor, simplicity, and complexity. Can you think of other examples?
When a child of God looks into the Word of God, she sees the Son of God and is changed by the Spirit of God into the image of God for the glory of God.

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.”
–Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Letting Go of an Eating Disorder

Villagers that live in the forests and mountains of India catch monkeys by carving pots with necks as long as a monkey’s arm and a base large enough for a banana. The monkeys can’t wait to retrieve their prize. They put their arms down the neck of the jar until they have the banana tightly grasped. However, they can’t pull it through the narrow neck. So they sit holding their prize tightly for fear of losing it. Eventually, the monkey becomes immobilized, and they’re simple pickings for the villagers.

What are you afraid of letting go of? I think we all are afraid of something, and that is why we are easily controlled by others; whether it’s someone else’s will, or media messages, or we just mindlessly follow the crowd. Sam and Adele Hooker wrote,

Our fears, our self-possessiveness, our self-protection, all the self-things we hold onto, cause a struggle when we’re faced with giving every part of ourselves to God. Jesus wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane until his sweat turned to blood. Finally, he and the Holy Spirit wrestled down his fleshly self will to where he could say to the Father, “Not my will but thine be done” (Matthew 26:39).

Now is the time to let our faith in Jesus take over. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship.” Let go.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My story: Saving Opheila

Ophelia, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, illustrates the destructive forces affecting young women. Ophelia is a typical girl, footloose and fancy-free. But she loses herself in adolescence. She falls in love with Hamlet and lives only for his approval. She doesn’t have a relationship with God and the insight of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct her, so she lives merely to meet Hamlet’s and her father’s demands. Who she is, her value, is determined solely by their approval, and she is torn apart. She goes mad with grief. Elegantly dressed, tragically she drowns in a stream filled with flowers.

For twenty years I lived an Ophelia existence. I attempted to take control of my mind, yet I couldn’t conquer the addiction to food, alcohol, cigarettes, diet pills, and my promiscuous behavior. As a kid, our family moved quite a bit. The first move from America to London, England. I was teased by schoolmates because I didn’t fit into the culture. I was unlike them because I had an accent. I felt stupid because I needed a tutor. I was weird because my clothes were different. Weirdo! What I heard was, “You do not belong” and “You are not accepted.”

We moved back to America when I was twelve. Again I was weird and different, but now I was entering adolescence—the hurricane years. The pain of rejection became part of my normal thought process. I expected people not to like me. We moved several more times. I fell in with the wild crowd, feeling the pressure to fit in. I smoked cigarettes and tried alcohol and drugs. This group gave me a sense of belonging and a means to forget the rejection and losses.

Then I began to gravitate into a new world of worshipping celebrities and models. I believed the lie that to be popular you have to look like a model. Teen magazines say, Don’t worry about being good, worry about looking good and being socially accepted!

As a teen I pretty much turned off my God-given talents and gifts in search of the Western culture’s definition of ideal. I set my sights on being a super model.
When I announced this in my sixth-grade class, a few boys laughed, “Yeah, you’ll be a supermodel…for MAD Magazine.” Translation, You’re ugly. Give it up! I didn’t give it up. I’d do anything to be a beautiful super model or celebrity. And why not? In this culture celebrity and beauty has its rewards. This was the beginning of what I call the Cover Girl masquerade . . . and the spiral downwards began.

The spiral began innocently enough with a simple diet. My senior year in high school I lost fifteen pounds and looked remarkable. I received compliments and praise from my parents and friends…and I wanted more. I felt accepted and loved. I belong! Now I’ll be popular! The disordered eating thought process began in high school but exploded when I entered college and joined a sorority.

Before I knew it I was a full-blown bulimic, a disease that took over my life. I wish someone had said to me, “Great, you’re now a size six. There are a million other size sixes out there. What’s different about you? What is about you, Kimberly the person, that shines?” That would have stung a little, but hopefully have pointed me towards working on my inside. Instead, I worked tirelessly trying to conform to this culture’s image of the stick, thin woman.

As I grew into adulthood, my self-esteem continued to deteriorate. Clearly, by bingeing and purging I was self-medicating—the stress, anxieties, and pain. And then my body started desiring and needing the alcohol. Alcohol abuse usually leads to inappropriate sexual behavior. I couldn’t stop the promiscuity. I did what I thought I should do in order to be accepted. Again, I justified it. Everyone else is sleeping around. It was a way to fill the hole in my heart. But it only deepened the wounds of shame, humiliation, and abandonment.

I eventually got pregnant and chose to have an abortion—another demon o deal with. I had a major life choice to grapple with--to bring this baby to term, or abort it. There was no doubt in my mind that abortion was the answer. After all, I wasn’t married, I had an established lifestyle, and I would have brought embarrassment and shame upon my parents. When I chose abortion, I was really choosing to purge my baby, like the food I ate. I could clearly see that at that time in my life I didn’t value myself, so how could I value my baby’s life? You could say the monster bulimia took two innocent lives. After I had the abortion, I chose to bury this experience like a wrecked ship, on the bottom of an ocean.

Like Ophelia, I was in danger of drowning. It was beginning to look like a life or death situation. It was vital I be revived. I needed someone to point me to Jesus Christ. “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Ps. 18:6).

God sent that person and he took me to church. Jesus walked into my messed up life and a couple months later I was saved. The Bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

Jesus pronounced, “Daughter, You’re free to go. I’ve done the time for you (Acts 2; 2 Cor. 3:17). Now go and tell the world what you have experienced.” The shackles melted. Evil evaporated. Jesus will always meet us right where we are at. We don’t have to be good enough, smart enough or religious enough to earn an audience with him. We can have a personal, intimate relationship with the God Almighty.

My identity changed because God adopted me into his family. God took all my guilty acts and thoughts, and placed them on Jesus. At that moment, he said, “Kimberly, you are forgiven. Every offense is wiped from your record.” God forgives and forgets—completely, and I became righteous—perfect before God. No external makeover can compare to the internal makeover we receive from Jesus Christ!

Excerpt from Kimberly’s book: Breaking the Cover Girl Mask: Toss Out Toxic Thoughts

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why are we so unhappy with our bodies?

Slowly over time, you developed your body image based on what your family, boyfriend(s), and/or husband(s), coaches, and teachers told you. Add to that thousands of daily media messages from magazines, novels, television, music, and you start to believe that you’re fat or ugly. All these negative thoughts and beliefs can lead down a self-destructive path unless you know how to recognize and cope with them. A woman with a healthy body image respects her body, takes care of her body, and keeps her body in perspective.

What is self-esteem? Self-esteem is defined as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” It is your overall evaluation of your self-worth and how you value your own attributes. How high or low your self-esteem is depends on how you compare what you’d like to be with how you actually see yourself.

Research shows that girls lose twenty-three percent of their self-esteem between elementary and middle school. A study by the American Association of University Women found only twenty-nine percent of high school girls were happy with themselves.

Psychologists describe key components of self-esteem as how you evaluate yourself in terms of important characteristics like what you are good at, what you are not so good at, and the kinds of situations you prefer or avoid.

Most of our feelings about ourselves are built into us in childhood. If we were fortunate to have loving parents who conveyed our worth in their relationship to us, and if we grew up in a safe environment with positive relationships with peers, teachers, and role models, then it is likely we will feel reasonably good about ourselves. However, if faced with negative influences in childhood, it may not take much to tip the balance the other way.

“The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and it should be treated with honor.” –Martha Graham

[Excerpt from “I’m Beautiful? Why Can’t I See It?” by Kimberly Davidson].