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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!