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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

God's Love Language: Gifts

I'm continuing in the series "God's Love Languages to Us."

When I think of a gift I imagine a present: a beautifully wrapped package which contains something special given to me by the giver, usually as an expression of appreciation or love. The dictionary defines a gift as something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance.

God speaks the love language of gift-giving fluently. The Bible says that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (James 1:17). What does James mean when he says “perfect gift?” I would say it is ‘the bounty of God.’ God is the superb Giver and his gifts are perfect. The word “perfect” is the Greek word teleios, which means “mature, fully developed.” These gifts, James says, are the very best, complete and without defect—undoubtedly full of blessing. They reach their intended objective.

One of the enemy’s strategies is to convince us that our Father is holding out on us, as with Eve in the Garden of Eden. Since God is good we can rest assure we don’t need any other person or thing to meet our needs. Warren Wiersbe said, “It is better to be hungry in the will of God, than full outside the will of God.” Everything good in this world comes from God. If something is not good, it didn’t come from God. Think about this: Paul’s thorn in the flesh was given to him by God. That’s a strange and unwanted gift, yet it became a great blessing to him (2 Cor. 12:1-10).
God’s gifts are perfect. Satan may present you with a beautifully wrapped present, but when we unwrap and accept it we end up paying the price dearly. God gives us many gifts. What we do with them is our responsibility.

Throughout the Scriptures God reveals himself as the ultimate gift giver. He said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:29-31). The rising and the setting of the sun, rain showers and thunderstorms, the flowers and grandiose trees, the birds, turtles and ducks, dogs and kitties, the seasons—are all God’s gift to us. God provides for his creatures every day.
Not only does he give his creatures everything they need to survive and thrive, but he gives them the free gift of grace and salvation. His greatest gift was his Son.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16; Eph. 5:1-2). Scripture paints an image of a loving and giving God:

• God gave his children, ancient Israel, the guidelines to a meaningful and fruitful life. They reciprocated their love when they followed his ways. He, in turn, showered them with gifts of love.
• Hebrew history records that God gave much to King Solomon (1 Kings 3:7-13).
• The teachings of Jesus were permeated with the concept that God’s desire is to give his children who love him good gifts (John 16: 16, 20).
• James and John describe God as a great gift giver (James 1:17; 1 John 3:1-2).
Undeniably, God expresses his love by giving gifts. One of those gifts are material things such as food, shelter, and clothing. Besides the necessities for survival, gifts God gives his children are:
• Time: I am responsible for the time God entrusts to me. Having down-time is important to our overall health, but I also must ask myself [and ask God to show me] if I’m wasting precious time.
• Money: The question is not how much of my money I give to God, but rather how much of God’s money I keep for myself.
• Possessions: I have to constantly keep myself in check when it comes to my clothes and shoes. I have to ask myself if I’m being a hoarder! The answer is often yes. In those cases I feel compelled to donate the possessions I really do not use that often. [I still have a long way to go!] I know my husband feels the same way about his “man-stuff”—tools, equipment, etc.
• Spiritual: Many of God’s gifts are spiritual—the gift of eternal life, the forgiveness of our sins, grace, peace of mind, joy, and a purpose in life.
• Spiritual gifts: Every believer in Jesus Christ has been given distinct “spiritual gifts,” abilities to perform certain tasks in the body of Christ. These gifts include wisdom, encouragement, teaching, knowledge, faith, prayer, healing, pastor, prophecy, administration, service, mercy, giving—read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Knowing your spiritual gifts will enable you to find your place of ministry in the local church.

The apostle Peter said, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).”
When Peter spoke of spiritual gifts he considered them a matter of personal stewardship. Just as we will give an account of our use of the material things, time, and money that God has placed under our control, we must give account for the use of our spiritual gifts.

How do we receive God’s gifts? Jesus tells us to ask (Matt. 7:7-11). Isn’t it amazing that the creator of mankind and this vast universe would invite us to ask him for gifts! In contrast, James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3, NIV, my emphasis).

The word gift comes from the Greek word charis which means “unmerited favor.” God’s gifts are never given to us because we deserve them. He gives them as an expression of love. Out gifts to others is how we show God we love him. It is how we say ‘thank you Lord.’ Our gifts to others should not be based upon what I can get out of it, or whether they have earned the gift. The gift should flow from our love for that person. When we give gifts we express God’s love.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

God’s Love Language: Quality Time


Personally, nothing is more important to me than my early morning time with God, and my walk in the woods with him in the afternoons. When these get disrupted—so do I. The Bible is clear: God is not some distant being. The idea that an eternal God, the almighty Creator, desires to spend quality time with his created is a unique aspect of Christianity. No other faith extols the ideal of having a personal relationship with their god.

In the Old Testament the Scriptures picture God spending quality time with his people beginning with Adam and Eve…until they messed that up. God and Moses spent one on one time together. Moses told God’s people that “God will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:8). He knew that firsthand. Abraham was called God’s friend.
The psalms speak of God’s love for his creatures and his desire to draw near and spend quality time with them. In the book of Hosea, God says, “I am the Holy one among you” (11:9). God told the prophet Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2). The psalmist said, “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live” (Ps. 116:1-2). The psalmist was drawn to God because of God’s willingness to talk with him in his time of need. The apostle James said, “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).

Jesus tells us that the desire of the triune God is to abide in or make his home with the one who responds to God’s love (John 14:23-26). Dr. Gary Chapman wrote in his book, The Love Languages of God, “Jesus illustrated the concept of quality time as an expression of God’s love by the design of His own earthy ministry. He preached to the multitudes, but he spent quality time with twelve men.” Jesus focused his time and attention on these men, deepening his ministry, instead of broadening it.

He wanted these men to experience his deepest love, hanging out with them for 3-1/2 years. Jesus spent quality time with his friends, such as Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
God’s desire to be among us comes full circle. We read in the last book of the Bible, Revelations, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:3-4).

Quality time with God is a very important part of my life. And it is very important not to mix up quality time with God and service. There are many who are truly devoted to giving God their undivided time for hours a day (I wish I could say that was me). For these people their time with God isn’t ritualistic but deep and personal. For many, including myself, spending time reading God’s Word and certain devotionals and commentaries, and then meditating on what I read—with God, brings me into communion with him.

If you find you are impressed with a certain Christian’s accomplishments, chances are great it is simply an outgrowth of their quality time with God. If your love language is quality time, then uninterrupted times of communion with God are not difficult but joyful. Those who seek quality time with God will learn that he’s always ready and waiting to meet with them. It’s one of his love languages.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Five Love Languages

Are you familiar with the five love languages? Christian psychologist Gary Chapman is best known for his work “The Five Love Languages.” Whether it is our spouse, our children, co-workers, those we interact with in the body of Christ, or even God, each one of us has a love language.

Dr. Chapman says as people come in all varieties, shapes and sizes, so do their choices of expressions of love. More often than not, the giver and the receiver express love in two different ways which can lead to misunderstanding, quarrels and even divorce. If we can learn to speak our loved ones love language (and remember Christ calls us to love everyone) we will be able to effectively love and truly feel loved in return—fill our love tanks!

For example:
1. My love language is Words of Affirmation when I say: “I feel especially loved when people express how grateful they are for me and for the simple, everyday things I do.”
2. My love language is Quality Time when I say: “I feel especially loved when a person gives me undivided attention and spends time alone with me.”
3. My love language is Receiving Gifts when I say: “I feel especially loved by someone who brings me gifts or other tangible expressions of love.”
4. My love language is Acts of Service when I say: “I feel especially loved when someone pitches in to help me with running errands or chores.
5. My love language is Physical Touch when I say: “I feel especially loved when a person expresses feeling for me through physical contact.

What love language are you? What about your spouse, members of your family—blood and church?

The next five blogs are going to be focused on the five love languages of God and how we can fill his love tank!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why are so many people obsessed with celebrities & their stuff?

A blogger asked this week, “Why are so many people obsessed with celebrities lifestyles, choices, clothes, cars, homes, etc?” She concluded it was due to envy, jealousy, and boredom. Yes, but ti goes much deeper than that. The person needs to ask themselves, “why”—why am I obsessed.

French philosopher of social science, Dr. Rene Girard, developed the idea of mimesis or mimetic desires. According to Dr. Girard, the mimetic desire is motivated by an inner sense that “something” is missing. Scripture says, “You want something but don't get it” (James 4:2, NIV). That something, or soul-hole, lures many into a web of dangerous dieting. His theory is that our desires never come purely from ourselves; rather, they are inspired by the desires of another. The word mimesis means identifying with the original and involves some sort of participation. It is not the same as imitation, which suggests simulation or copying.

The mimetic desire describes our ravenous hunger for wholeness. It is so strong that people willingly stuff themselves with fragmented identities. Deep inside they feel “something” is missing. The culture and media machine have done a superb job of getting us all to believe “something” is missing and only “more” of what they offer will satisfy…and we devour the bait.

Scripture says, “Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness and sin, of greed and hate, envy, murder, fighting, lying, bitterness, and gossip” (Romans 1:29, TLB). Jesus knew man would deny God as his Creator and seek to remake himself in his own image. This is why he had to come and die. Jesus took onto himself every one of our faults, each imperfection—all our sin. As a result a space was created—a hole in our soul, that “something,” which can only be filled by him. God created us in such a way that only those who seek Jesus will be filled. We will never be filled by following celebrities or pop culture.

[this is an excerpt from "Torn Between Two Masters"]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Suffering and Glory

Many Scripture passages in the Bible speak of refining gold into pure gold. It is a beautiful illustration of God’s method for shaping His children. Suffering and glory go together. You can’t have one without the other. It's true! God equates our suffering to the purifying of silver and gold. Neither metal is pure in its natural state. Both are mixed with all sorts of gunk making them impure, just like us. Malachi 3:3 says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”

We are born with a sinful nature (as a result of the fall) that constantly attracts all sorts of impurities: thoughts, beliefs, destructive actions, and habits. We are influenced by a society permeated with sin. As silver and gold need to be refined before they reveal their beauty, so do we. The process of refining includes the melting down of the metal by fires designed not to destroy the metal, but bring forth its beauty.

The silver is crushed into small pieces and placed into a crucible. The silversmith places the crucible over the fire and then watches carefully as the silver melts. Eventually, impurities rise to the top of the crucible. The silversmith scrapes them off carefully. Then a hotter fire is built. Again, the silver is subjected to more heat. Under intense firing, more and different impurities are released.

The silversmith never leaves the silver unattended in the fire because too much heat may damage the silver. Each time the fire is amplified and impurities removed, the silversmith looks at himself in the melted silver.
At first, his image is dim. However, with each new fire his image becomes clearer. When he visibly sees himself, he knows all the impurities are gone. The refining is complete!

So it is with us. God breaks us and puts us into the crucible of suffering for one purpose—to make us into His image. At first, large chunks of impurities surface, representing “big” sins, like stealing and lying. It’s somewhat easy to skim these off. The process continues, and with each layer of impurities, the chunks get smaller and smaller. It takes longer to skim off the smaller impurities (representing unidentified sin and negative core beliefs) because they are harder to see.

If you are feeling the heat of the fire today, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you and every tiny impurity is removed.

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Times of Distress

All we have to do is turn on the news and I think can agree we as a country we are going through a distressful time, which of course filters down to every household. Whether you are affected by unemployment, loss of your home, or illness, or even plain old worry and discouragement, God has a promise for us. To the weary who seek and call his name, he will bring relief and vindication.

We look all around us and see misguided, abused, addicted and oppressed people. We wonder why God isn’t taking action. In the book of Isaiah the reader [that would be us] comes to understand it is not because God does not want to act (v. 1-11) or because he cannot act (v. 12-26). The reason is given: he will act on his own terms and in his own time (v. 27-31). Meanwhile he calls upon us to have faith and to wait in hope. The only one who can predict the future is God because he is the only one who shaped it. Repeatedly, Isaiah presses home the fact that idols do not know the future and cannot protect us from the future. Only God can.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Approval Junky

One enduring attribute of most human beings is that we obsess about the approval of others. Most often we don’t realize it is an obsession, but it is. We are approval junkies shaped by other people’s opinions—real or assumed. It is imperative to figure out if one is an approval junkie because this obsession affects more decisions than we realize.

I can’t recall a time I didn’t seek others approval. As a wee babe I needed my parent’s blessing. Then it was my grade school teachers and peer groups opinions that mattered most. It sort of mushroomed from there.

What I know now is my need for approval stems from insecurity—low self-esteem, self-image and self-worth. Living for two decades with a deadly eating disorder, and an addiction to alcohol and men, only made my need—or fear—for approval stronger.
Not surprisingly, fear of man’s approval is an attribute completely absent from Jesus’s thought process. The word “fear” has two meanings. ‘To be afraid of’ is what we normally think of. The other meaning is ‘to have a reverential awe of.’ Jesus said, “I will show you whom you should fear…” (Luke 12:5). Jesus is speaking of God the Father. Biblically, ‘to fear the Lord’ means we hold him up in reverence and with respect because he is so awesome and holy.

To ‘fear man’ can go either way. We can become so obsessed with another person that we are in reverential awe of them. Or, the other person’s opinion and approval of us is so important that we become afraid of the consequences of that person not approving of us. This first type of fear can be called idolatry. The second type of fear can be called debilitating. They are both strongholds which must be broken.
I began breaking down this stronghold by facing the fact I was an approval junkie, a.k.a. people-pleaser. God showed me that by obsessing about other people’s opinions I had a distorted view of reality.

If you look at Jesus’s life and teachings while he was on earth, he shows no adoration or fear of men, whether they be the hostile Pharisees or disciples in training. His life and message was completely God-directed. There was never a hint of compromise. He feared no human being.

Jesus zealously tells us not to fear mankind. He urges us to fear God only. We must break these behavior patterns and refuse to allow other people’s approval or disapproval dominate our thinking. The Word of God confirms:
• Those who hunger and thirst for God's approval will be blessed and satisfied (Matthew 5:6)
• We should not try to please men but God (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
• We were created for God—for his pleasure (Colossians 1:6).
God gives us his seal of approval! God “set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts...” (2 Corinthians 1:22). “You were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13). Marked with a seal suggests possession and security. This means you belong to God.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Show Me Your Glory

This week's blog is short but packed with reflection. I've been studying "The Message of the Living God" and am in Exodus 33. We can learn so much about God by how he treated and responded to his children, the Israelites. One (of many) verse worth reflecting on is, "The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Ex. 33:14) Another word for "rest" is peace. He is saying, "I will quiet you...dispel your anxiety." Do we give him a chance to do that, or are you like me where you run ahead of yourself stressing about this or that?

The next amazing passage is the one when Moses asks God to show himself--"show me your glory," Moses says (Ex 33:18). When God passes in front of Moses what he reveals is his personal character. Scripture says, “And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." (Ex 33:19-20)

What God gives his people is a description of himself--not a description of how he looks but how he is. That is counter-cultural, isn’t it? God told Samuel, “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 Sam. 16:7)

Take some time to really reflect on these verses, asking God to show you how they apply to your relationship with him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I am Made in the Image of God!

John Newton wrote, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, "By the grace of God I am what I am.”

The cartoon character, Popeye the sailor man, was famous for always settling and moaning, “I yam what I yam.” We too often grumble, “That’s just the way I am and I will never change.” Throw out the complacent thought if that is in your vocabulary. One of the greatest obstacles to living life as a Christian woman is looking for what’s wrong with us-- our body, our clothes, our relationships, our children, even our friends, and then dwelling on it. “I yam what I yam!”

Grab a hold of this fact: “God made you in his image.” (Genesis 1:27)
That is profound! It means that God used a template of himself to make you like him in many ways. Romans 8:29 also tells us: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” That’s not the message our culture promotes, is it?

Growing up, most of society’s messages told us that our physical appearance was most important because the body is a measure of female attractiveness and social success. Women are also expected today to attain the superwoman persona. Add to that any family variables such as high achievement and perfectionism and you can see why we don’t see ourselves as God sees us.

Describe yourself-- first your physical appearance, and then how other people see you. Do you think this description lines up with God’s image of you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Breaking Free from the Tombs

One of the greatest stories in the Bible is about the man who lived in the tombs—a man possessed with a multitude of demons. Scripture says, “When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.” [Luke 8:34-38] Mary Magdalene is another person delivered from demons—seven of them (Mark 16:9).

Most likely you’d say you’re not demon possessed so these stories do not mean much to you. However, demons represent darkness in our life. Sometimes they come in a package called stress, anxiety, depression, jealousy, pride, and mere pressures of daily life.

When Jesus found the man in the tombs, he saw a loved one in trouble, in bondage, and in need of a savior. We don’t know exactly what happened in his life to bring on such despair, but he was in agony. No one could help … until Jesus. He brought the source of light and broke the chains of bondage. And he will do the same for us if we would only draw close to him and ask him.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Completely Restored

After the fourth flush I picked up the near empty bottle of Windex and then ripped off three squares from the paper towel roll and proceeded to clean up around the toilette boil. After tossing the residue of a gapping emotional wound into the garbage I went back into the living room and sat, numb and oblivious to what television program was playing. Tomorrow will be different, I promised myself. Today is the last day. Despondent, that is what I said every day for the previous fourteen years. It never was the last day…that’s what bulimia does.

“[Jesus] He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored.” (Luke 6:10, NIV)

Most often when this passage is read (Luke 6:1-11) the focus is on Jesus’s act of healing on the Sabbath and the Pharisee’s reaction. There is one verse—verse 10 which is a story unto itself. It is about a man in the crowd, a man with a shriveled or withered hand. What is interesting about this man is unlike other accounts this man did not run up to Jesus and ask to be healed. Jesus picks him out of the crowd. His motive is to show the Pharisee’s his divine power. He wants to create a stage for himself in front of these unbelieving and conniving Pharisees. Jesus singles out this one man—a recipient of his love, grace and mercy and says, "Stretch out your hand."

Maybe we don’t have a shriveled hand or an eating disorder that needs repair, but we all have our fallen nature—our pride and selfishness that we need to give him. Falleness is all we have. In his mercy Jesus he asks us to give it all to him. Scripture then says this man’s hand was completely restored. God did completely restore me from a deadly eating disorder and from binge drinking—yes completely. Although we’ll never be entirely rid of our sin nature here on earth if we give it to Jesus everyday he can shrink it considerably. We will be completely restored from sin when we get to heaven!

Give him your withered hand and let his strength be demonstrated in your weakness. It’s the only way he can show an unbelieving world his power. “We seek thy face, turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory. Then shall our longing be satisfied, and our peace shall be perfect” (Saint Augustine).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Your Creative Purpose

One of my favorite programs is the Science Channel’s “How the Universe Works.” When the entire universe is mapped out in front of you [in this case on the TV screen], you realize we are insignificant creatures on a minor planet of a very average star in the outer suburbs of one of a 100,000-million galaxies. That explains why it is so hard for some people to believe that God Almighty, creator of the universe would care about us or even notice that we exist.

It is interesting that the psalmist who wrote Psalm 8, knew far less about creation than modern scientists do today, but he knew far more about God than we seem too. He wrote,

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! [Psalms 8:1; 3-9]”

The psalmist knew creation was big even if he didn’t know how really big. He asked,
“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” He got it—that we were created for a unique, personal and eternal relationship with God. It is this purpose and destiny that sets us apart from the rest of creation. Human beings alone are stamped in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).

Because man is made in God’s image, we are the only creatures on earth that can choose how to use our gifts and creative power—not only to create new life, but also to shape the world according to God’s purpose. God calls us to use this gift to build and not destroy. Are you aware of God’s gift to you and the responsibility to use it wisely?

Human beings are uniquely addressed by God (Genesis 1:28) and called into a personal relationship with him. We were made to know God (Genesis 2). Human beings alone are addressed by God through special revelation which is a fancy theological term for “the message of Scripture.” God is speaking to us through the Holy Bible. The message of the gospel is that God has made himself known—not vaguely—but specifically in words of his choice to his chosen people. As we study the Scriptures we encounter the God Almighty, the Creator of the universe, who reveals himself using human terms.

The Scriptures teach us God is a personal being who is speaking to us. But do we choose to listen—to respond? Do we choose to open the Scriptures daily to hear from God? In our prayer time do we listen and ponder, or do we tell God what to do? Or do we let the busyness of our hectic lives take priority? BTW, “BUSY” stands for “Being Under Satan’s Yolk.”

It can be a challenge to find daily quality time to be alone with God, but it can be done! It’s our pride--with a little help from the devil that says we can come to know God without opening up his word. You say, “that’s not me.” Do you realize we could spend our entire lives reading, studying and even memorizing Scripture, but if the words and truths do not penetrate our hearts and convict us to change the way we think, act and live, it is of no real benefit to us? God asks us examine, comprehend and apply! In that process we will get to know our Creator on a more personal level and see the innate value we, and other human beings, truly have.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Forgiven and Set Free!

God allows me the privilege of coming alongside some pretty incredible women as they venture on some very difficult but rewarding healing journeys. One such woman is Jen who has struggled with an eating disorder for many years. She has had many breakthroughs but we want to share this one with you—it is a testimony to our healing God. Jen said:

I have been forgiven, cleansed and freed from the eating disorder life that I lived for many years!! What a concept, what a freer feeling...what a GIFT from the Heavens above! When Jesus died on the Cross, He died for all my past sins, current sins and the sins He knows I will commit. He takes my sinful ways and washes my soul clean from all the "earthly/eating disorder" behaviors that I have fallen into. He has granted me the gift of living free from obsessions, compulsions and negative thinking!

Yesterday, God was speaking to me about "no eating disorder" and that was really sitting in my head. And in my heart, I do think that He used Mary [her therapist] to "speak" to me and tell me that I AM free from the eating disorder, that He has forgiven me for all the years I spent in that hellish life. He is giving me a new life and I am becoming a new woman!

I do believe that Jesus knows how hard it is to change behaviors and old, ingrained beliefs. He provides me strength and courage to step out and away from the old "ways" and to face the fears and move into my new life!

My biggest realization is that I AM free from the disorder and I am free becuz Jesus already paid for those sins! I can rest in the truth of that and live my life as a free woman in Christ!

~~~
I rejoice with Jen and the millions of others, including myself, who have been set free from their own personal hell. Praise God!

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Penny

The Penny
I came across a story about a man that reached down & picked up a penny off the ground. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. A penny?? When asked why he picked it up:

I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!"

David wrote in Psalms 20:7-8: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

The next time you pick up a penny--read the words, "In God We Trust," and say, Yes, God, I get the message.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Me, made in the image of God?

Today when we hear the word image, it connotes something different than the likeness of God. An actress or politician hires an image manager. An executive dresses for success, conveying an image. A company seeks the right image. Man’s self-image thrives on physical attractiveness, athletic ability, or a place on the corporate ladder. When we approach Scripture, we encounter a new kind of image.
God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our [referring to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit] likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The author of Genesis teaches that humans are made in the “image” of God. But this is not explained in Scripture. Theologians agree that any resemblance to God is not physical since “God is spirit” (John 4:24).

Most often the image of God is explained in terms of our immaterial aspects such as our intellect, emotions, our will, and the spiritual qualities shared by God and humanity. There are certain attributes of God referred to as God’s communicable attributes. They are qualities that God exhibits in absolute perfection that believers are called to emulate such as his goodness, holiness, righteousness, desire for justice, ability to love unconditionally and forgive offenses, faithfulness, slowness to anger, compassion, truthfulness, graciousness, mercy, and wisdom.

Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). The word “perfect” is the Greek word teleios, which means “mature, fully developed.” It doesn’t refer to flawless or moral perfection, but to the kind of love that is like God’s love—mature, complete, holy, full of blessing. To be perfect is to seek and work to love others as wholeheartedly as God loves us and fulfill the purpose for which you were made. God’s image—his moral attributes are an example for us to follow.

Mother Teresa said that when she looked into the face of a dying beggar she prayed to see the face of Jesus so she might serve the beggar as she would serve Christ.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 and 6), blesses the poor, the grieving, the meek, the persecuted. He comments on how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. He condemns pride and self-sufficiency. In effect, he is said, “Fine-tune all your interests until the attitude of your mind and heart and body are on me.” God asks us to live out in his likeness in this messed up world. He expects us to give flesh to his Spirit, bearing his image.

As the Spirit works within us, we become more like him (2 Cor. 3:18), bearing his image. As a believer, “we have the amazing ability and the awesome responsibility to make visible the invisible attributes of the Creator and Redeemer” (Dr. Gerry Breshears). God has set eternity in the hearts of men which means we can never be completely satisfied with earthly pleasures and pursuits.

Because we are created in God’s image, we have a spiritual thirst, an eternal value, and nothing but God will ever truly satisfy us. He has built into us a restless yearning for the kind of perfect world only found in him.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why must God’s children and the innocent suffer?

This is a question that has plagued the human race since its inception. Countless books and commentaries have been written on the subject. In seminary, I wrote a very long paper on this subject. Perhaps what I say in this particular blog, in six paragraphs may help you where you’re at today.

First, I believe it is only through our faith that we can begin to understand the complexities of God’s nature and accept the truth as his Word reveals. The Bible makes it clear that God is good (Nah. 1:7) and is opposed to evil (Jer. 44:4; Zech. 8:17; James 1:13). Scripture says, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him” (Ps. 92:15). Murder, pornography, abuse, and addiction exist because people have chosen to turn away from God to pursue self-centered desires instead of blessings offered through faith in Jesus Christ.

Yes, God is sovereign over evil just as he is over good. He could intervene in every human tragedy and trial. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he doesn’t. God should never be credited with evil. Each person is accountable for their own sin despite God’s sovereignty. Timothy said, “This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things [speaking of the Christ] are clear enough” (1 Tim. 3:16, MSG).

When we talk about suffering someone will always point to Roman 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). It is reassuring to know that when God does allow suffering he is accomplishing something good out of it: perseverance, maturity, Christlikeness, a godly character; while assuring us that we are his beloved and precious children. I like to hang onto these promises:
Job said, “But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction” (36:15).

“Now, this is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid, because I have reclaimed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through the sea, I am with you. When you go through rivers, they will not sweep you away. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not harm you” (Isaiah 43:1-2, GW).
Someday when we get to heaven the entire picture will be revealed. It is important to keep an eternal perspective when we go through trials and suffering. Mediate on this verse: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

Dr. J. Carl Laney, one of my professors at Western Seminary once said that God recognizes that sometimes greater glory will come to his name by permitting evil rather than disallowing it all together. It is hard to understand from a human perspective why God allows human suffering for the purpose of bringing greater glory to himself. But if the purpose of our lives is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31) then we can accept suffering in order to exhibit more adequately the greatness of our God.

“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete. If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way and then that. If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.”
[James 1:2-7, TLB]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why "Good" Friday?

Good Friday is the day when many Christians around the world make a special effort to remember the crucifixion of Jesus for our sins. Jesus' death on the cross is the cornerstone of every good work of transformation God has done and is doing in your life and in my life. God forgives our sins--past, present & future because Jesus purchased them by his sacrifice.

I am a living testimony to the work of God in my life in the form of emotional healing from an eating disorder, binge drinking, and many hurts and difficulties of life--as well as the conviction and correction of ongoing sinfulness in my own life.

Our relationship with Jesus does not depend on what we bring to the table but rather what he offers us through the cross. Forgiveness from our sins and eternity in Heaven is ours if we'll just trust in him alone to break down the wall that sin built between us and God.

That's why the day Jesus was crucified can be seen as "good", why this day should receive special observance and why Jesus deserves our devotion all year round.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Perfection and Greatness

What do you think defines an authentic life? What if I said it was to be perfect and be really great. Jesus did say we are to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Taken out of context, we may have been taught that in order to be like Jesus we must be painstakingly competent and faultless in order to be considered by God, and ourselves, as valuable. This is another one of those deadly lies. No one can be perfect. How then do we interpret Matthew 5:48, “be perfect”?

The word “perfect” is the Greek word teleios, which means “mature, fully developed.” Jesus did not expect his followers to become morally perfect or flawless in this life. He is speaking of the kind of love that is like God’s love—mature, complete, holy, full of blessing. His Word says if I don’t have love, then I am nothing. God spells success L-O-V-E.

We will never feel competent, fulfilled, or completely worthy if we are not in a love relationship with Jesus Christ and other authentic people. To be perfect is to follow in Jesus’s footsteps, and to seek and work to love others as wholeheartedly as God loves us—and show that love to those who don’t return it. If we truly know God as our Father, friend, and Savior, then we love, because he is love.

Mother Teresa said, “Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love.” Doing so is a process and an instantaneous experience. The gospel of transformation calls us to evolve from obsessing and lusting over celebrities, and seeking what others have, to developing a heart that generates compassion and respect for others. It becomes our purpose for living (see Matthew 22:37-39).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Torn Between Two Masters: The Devastating Effects of Celebrity Obsession

This week I'm plugging my latest book--only because it is a subject that needs to addressed in this culture. Why is it that so many Christians are star-struck by celebrities? Celebrity worship syndrome is very real and it is having devastating effects on our culture--our youth in particular.

Why do so many adolescents want to be sports, music, runway, or Hollywood stars instead of teachers, nurses, pastors, or carpenters? Why is the gospel of celebrity so powerful in our lives and can we reduce its impact or is it too late?

This pop culture, via the media, has made it quite clear: celebrities matter—and we, both Christians and non-Christians are star-struck by them. I look at this phenomenon like an onion—there are different layers of different explanations we need to peel off. Peeling off the first layer reveals some surface reasons. I peel the onion down to the core and expose the real reasons for celebrity fascination and worship, and then lay out a number of things we can do to diminish its negative force.

The underlying issues I address in Torn Between Two Masters is:

1. Why the lure of celebrity is so powerful,
2. How to minimize celebrity obsession by increasing a teen’s self-worth,
3. The best ways to help teens navigate and be critical of the media,
4. How to identify and discourage negative and normalized behaviors such as eating disorders, plastic surgery and “hooking up,”
5. How Jesus Christ can transform a teen’s life into one of purpose, and
6. Many other eye-opening insights.

A fan page has also just been set up to talk about this subject. For more information go to www.olivebranchoutreach.com/TORN

Friday, April 1, 2011

I want a different face!

Many love the comedic comic character Maxine because she’s got a pulse on this culture and tells it like it is: “What’s new with you? Your boobs, your tush or your face?” We laugh yet reports indicate that the widespread availability of plastic surgery and the pervasive influence of reality shows focused on surgical makeovers are having a profound effect on the self-worth of young people, especially girls.

In her quest for a better body image, twenty-three-year-old reality star Heidi Montag unveiled on MTV’s The Hills’ sixth season premiere the effect of plastic surgery addiction. Obsessed with perfect, Heidi had ten procedures done on one day, all in an effort to convert herself into a real, live Barbie doll. This story crowded the Obamas off the cover of People magazine.

No doubt this type of programming encourages young viewers to pursue cosmetic surgery. More young people are considering cosmetic procedures to fulfill their dreams because most media coverage about plastic surgery is very flattering. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the most common procedure performed on people eighteen and younger was rhinoplasty (a nose job), but liposuction procedures and breast augmentations have greatly increased.

Society worships the physical body more than the soul. Scripture says that God has put a sense of eternity in people's minds. “Yet, mortals still can't grasp what God is doing from the beginning to the end of time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, God’s Word). I believe the amount of emotion and energy poured into desiring plastic surgery is a way that person is tempting to fill that soul-hole which can only be filled by God. [Often counseling, encouragement and some lessons in makeup and beauty is all a person needs.]

The Bible says, “It's your life that must change, not your skin… What counts is your life” (Luke 3:8-9, MSG). Many psychologists say it's a myth that how you feel about yourself is related to how you actually look. Our value does not rest in looking a particular way. Celebrate every scar, every birthmark, and every flaw because each of them tells a piece of the story of who you are.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Is it faith or fear?

We each have two important groups of mindsets: positive faith-based emotions and negative fear-based emotions. Faith and fear are not just emotions, but spiritual forces with chemical and electrical representation that move from the brain throughout the body. They directly impact bodily function. However, there is a difference between the emotion of fear and the spirit of fear. Emotional fear is God-given. Spiritual fear is from Satan.

Positive fear keeps you alive. It motivates you to buy home insurance (fear of fire), to follow the law (fear of prison), or to obey (fear of discipline). We fear God: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). To fear the Lord means we hold him in reverence with respect and in awe. Scripture says, “God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him” (Ps. 89:7).

Negative emotions evolve out of fear and are from the enemy. Fear stands for: False Evidence Appearing Real. Our greatest crises come from a spirit of fear. We’re afraid of failing, afraid of being alone or rejected, afraid of running out of money, afraid someone will let us down,; afraid that we won’t find a husband or a job.

When you live in a constant state of anxiety or fear, most of life passes you by because you are physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually unable to focus on anything else. You lose all ability to concentrate and, therefore, are unable to ingest truth. The truth about fear is it is rooted in the belief that God’s Word won’t work.

Spiritual fear is an awful motivator. It’s like a vicious dog chasing us until we are either too exhausted to go on or we get stuck up a tree. Fear attacks your mind: You are not pleasing to God, Your mom won’t love you if you fail, If you don’t do this[…] then you will be punished. Worst of all, fear misdirects our thinking to ourselves rather than toward Jesus. It can destroy you.

Nothing should cause you to fear. There is nothing so deeply imbedded in your heart or mind that God’s grace cannot reach down and remove it. One woman said God never answered the whys of her fear. He pointed her to his personal Word, that he, “did not give us a spirit of timidity [of cowardice and fear], but [has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7, AMP). We are from God, and therefore have overcome any demonic spirits because Jesus, who is in us, is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4). We remind the devil of what God says and stand firm.

Faith, on the other hand, is like a cool breeze on a hot day, refreshing us and giving us the strength to continue on our journey. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). It’s a gift from God and the essence of our soul. Faith shouts back to fear, using God’s Word.

God says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isa. 43:1). Faith shouts back to Satan, “I am not going to […] because I’m God’s daughter!” There is no area in your life so painful, no offense so heinous, that God’s love cannot enable you to break down mindholds of fear, anxiety, or worry.
Reflect: Consider God’s track record. God has done all that he has promised.

The writer of Hebrews wrote, “God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline (Heb. 6:18-19, Msg.)

Fear leaves when you can rely on something that can’t fail. There are over one thousand predictions or prophecies in the Bible. None of these promises have failed. Read 1 Kings 8:56 and ask yourself: Do I fear change? Am I willing to allow God do what ever is necessary in order to free me?

[This is an excerpt from Breaking the Cover Girl Mask by Kimberly Davidson]

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Beautiful! I Can See It!

One of the greatest joys of ministry is hearing from you and from the women who read my books. Every communication and testimony inspires me and I know will inspire you, especially if you struggling with an eating disorder and don't know what the next step should be. I received this email from Jen who just began I'm Beautiful? Why Can't I See It? This is not a promotion for the book, but rather a testimony to God's love, goodness and redemptive healing power working through other people.

Here is Jen's story...as of today!

I have received your book now and have read through Day 1 and 2 with my husband. He is very willing to work through this with me becuz I don't want to do it alone. I actually felt the eating disorder behavior "urges" come up stronger just by getting the book out of the mailbox! Of course, the enemy, satan, doesn't want me to dive into anything helpful or beneficial to my life!! Letting the anxiety go, I started reading and I'm so glad I did!!

I also have just found a therapist who is going to be working on the "root causes" of the eating disorder with me and Erin (my husband). They go way back to my childhood. After 2 appts w/ her, as scared as I am to go "deep" into myself, this is a right decision for me.

I know I am heading down a good path with you and your book, along with my new therapist! God has shown me that this is where I need to go into now, and the one big thing I am finding out, is that God does love me and has a great plan for me!

I have always believed in God and Jesus, altho growing up, we did not talk about the Bible to often nor did we ever pray outloud or together. So now today, in my adulthood, I am learning like a child in Sunday School, about the love of Christ and the relationship that He desires to have with me!

I am learning today that God has designed me in a creative way to be "me" and I am working hard to accept that His design for my body and my life IS the way I will be. I cannot "force or manipulate" myself into something other than what God intends me to be!

This week, I have learned to ASK God for things and not just "expect" Him to be there supplying me strength when I get tired and weak. When I ask for things, God WILL answer, it may not be right away or on my time frame, but he will respond to me!

Thinking and acknowledging that God KNOWS ALL about me, is kind of scary becuz I haven't really ever liked myself to well and it brings up feelings of shame inside of me for things that have happened to me and for trying to "hide" from Him. The things I try to hide, is my fear about knowing all about my body and loving it for what it is. I try to hide some of the disorder behaviors I use each day, and try to slide them off as "it's just me" when I am consumed by exercise or scared to eat something out of the "safe" list. The other thing I try to hide, is the fact that I need a relationship with my myself, my husband, kids and friends! I am apprehensive about getting to close to others, even my own wonderful family!

Now, having said those few things, I honestly can say for the first time in this healing process, that I want a relationship with Jesus & God!!! As much fear as I have to trust God and my support, I am going to work through this!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Living Glove

It sounds like an impossible task—to imitate the Jesus Christ, whether you are an adult or a teen. It is unattainable in our own strength. It is only possible when we receive God’s grace. God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). The best artist isn’t discouraged. She may not be a Van Gogh—and knows she’s not a Van Gogh—but she does her very best to paint a picture of excellence. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Like a hand fit into a glove, believers are supposed to be the glove. Jesus is the hand. People see us. They see our fingers and hand move. They observe our impact. When they shake our gloved hands, they feel the warmth of the hand, of Jesus. The only way they can see Jesus is through the glove.

Through the work and example of Jesus Christ, God gives us what we need to be extraordinary in our particular areas of life. He promises to instruct, counsel and teach us, all the while watching over us (Psalm 32:8). The purpose of getting to know Jesus intimately is not merely to model his behaviors. We want to experience Jesus—his love, his touch, his joy—and then release it! Then we live life freely and fully—authentically.

If we claim to be a Christian to the rest of the world, we are in their eyes expected to be a striking likeness and picture of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most of us who claim to be Christians are not living a life that imitates Jesus very well. Many disciples believe they are above the Master. One well-respected pastor said that if we Christians are indistinguishable from non-Christians, then we are useless.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Woman of Destiny

It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years. ~ Abraham Lincoln

God says to you, “I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, TLB).
You are a woman of destiny! What does that mean to you?

Dictionary says destiny is “the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events; the power or agency that determines the course of events.”
As Christians we know that power comes from God. Psalms 139:16 (TLB): “You [God] saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” Yet, far too many Christian women don’t believe these promises apply to them.

There may have been a number of people, over the course of your life time that have killed your hopes and dreams. That is the enemy’s modem operandi. Jesus said that Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” He then said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). While Satan has been scheming to destroy your life with lies and abuse, God has been methodically laying out his plan.

"Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before" (James Buckham). If you believe that God Almighty is in control, then your situation is not out of control.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Consequences

In his book, History's Worst Decisions and the People Who Made Them, Stephen Weir tells the story of Thomas Austin's ill-fated plan in 1859 to have a Christmas hunt on his land 60 miles from Melbourne, Australia. Austin imported 24 rabbits from England and released them onto his property, where they promptly started multiplying like, well...rabbits.

Within a few years, over 3,000 square miles of farmland around Austin's estate had been stripped of vegetation by the rabbits; and by 1866, the devastation spread as far as 2,000 miles north to Queensland. By the 1940s, the rabbit population was estimated at 800 million, and each rabbit was figured to have cost one Australian dollar in damage. To this day, Australians are still fighting Thomas Austin's rabbits.

Bad decisions have long-lasting effects. Our choices often come with unintended consequences. They set the direction of our lives, whether for good or ill. The value of making wise decisions is a lesson we all need. As you make decisions big and small, pray for guidance and make them prayerfully and thoughtfully.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Expressing Boundaries

Is important we learn to say "No." One of the reasons that many of us find it so difficult to say no to people is that we genuinely don't desire to hurt anyone's feelings or have them upset with us. Therefore, we've learned to please, to placate, and to pretend so that we don't make waves. In addition, many of us have been taught that as Christians we should go the extra mile, do more, submit to authority, and always think of others before we think of ourselves. Therefore, whenever we do say no, we feel guilty.

Yet the Bible tells stories of people who chose to say "No." Earlier in Jewish history we find two midwives who said "No." They refused to obey the Pharaoh's orders to murder Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:17). Queen Vashti, Queen Esther's predecessor, refused to allow herself to be treated as a sexual object for her husband's drunken friends to ogle. When her husband ordered her to parade herself before them, she said "No."

Ask God to give you the courage to say "No" when necessary for your good, for another person's good, or for His purposes and glory!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What is Radiant Beauty?

Jesus said: “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17-18).

I tell teens and women with negative body image that when a person follows Jesus she receives a special inner beauty that is reflected in her outward appearance. People may not know why she’s beautiful. In fact, some may say, “She’s not what we call a beauty (by our cultural standards), but there is something about her…some sort of radiant, spiritual beauty.”

The darkness of evil has not, nor will ever, extinguish the light that comes from Almighty God. Jesus is the Creator of life, and His life brings light to us. When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly and falling into temptation and sin. He lights the path ahead of us so we can see how we should live. When I allow Jesus to shine in my life, He guides me and I need not fear stumbling in the dark.

Whenever we run, God is there—to express His love for us and reveal His purpose for our life. David articulates: “If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Ps. 139:11-12).
In what ways have you allowed the light of Jesus to shine in your life?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Are You a Carrot, An Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

By Anonymous ~

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked. "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another lever?

How do you handle Adversity? Are you a Carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean.
~ ~
We can be a coffee bean -- through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Image to Die For

In junior high school, I created collages of supermodels from magazines and pasted them all over my bedroom walls. Although my intention was merely to express myself and my aspirations, all these images did were create emotions of discontent and dissatisfaction with my own body and self-image.

Clare Boothe Luce, author and diplomat, said, “Advertising has done more to cause the social unrest of the twentieth century than any other single factors.” The American Psychological Association states, “The proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harming girls’ self-image and healthy development.”

Body image is one of the greatest pressures on our minds. Teens, in particular, are extremely susceptible to media images and celebrity diet stories. We persistently see celebrity’s improving their body images. Many learn quickly that the way to be popular and loved is through the sculpting of their body. Sadly, in the search for acceptance and the body beautiful, it becomes an obsession.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 51 percent of nine and ten-year-old girls feel better about themselves when they are dieting. By the age of thirteen, 53 percent of girls are unhappy with their body image. And by the age of seventeen, this figure jumps up to 78 percent. And this author, a baby boomer, feels the same way, as most of my female friends do. Experts warn if we don't do something about the demands, the consequences will be devastating.

Jesus took onto himself every one of our faults, each imperfection—all our sin. As a result a space was created—a hole in our soul, that “something,” which can only be filled by him. God created us in such a way that only those who seek Jesus will be filled. We will never be filled by following celebrities or pop culture.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Mind of Jesus Christ

If you are around my age you no doubt remember the hugely popular 1970’s TV show The Six Million Dollar Man. Steve Austin was the world's first bionic man. Soon after, a female Bionic Woman series debuted. Then it was The Terminator (1980’s), which also featured a buffed out female cohort. The fans couldn’t get enough. The sequels evolved into a franchise. Every decade produces it’s own superheroes and superheroines.

It’s easy to get lost in the pop cultures fantasies. The fact is, for Christians, we get something much more spectacular. God offers us something more valuable than all super human abilities put together. He gives his children the ability to have the mind of Christ. No lie! (1 Corinthians 2:16).

When you have the mind of Christ, your thought life doesn’t hurt you because we are no longer slaves to our darker tendencies. Instead of toxic and deceptive thoughts orchestrating negative and destructive actions, our thoughts can be purified—if we make a commitment to work with God. Negative thoughts can be discarded. The result—we are strengthened and healed. Then we are most apt to imitate the Master.
God equips us to make godly decisions. If it doesn’t fit who you are, a child of the Most High God, reject that thought.

Your position is secure in Christ. Therefore, respond accordingly. When hit with a tempting or impure thought reject it. Say: “That thought or action no longer fits who I am! God tells me to put this thought to death—die ugly, deadly thought!”
Paul knew that life was hard, but he also counseled people not to dwell on the negative. The road block of God says: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8, TLB).

If you know that when you open a magazine full of expensively dressed, skinny, beautiful women that it will be a temptation to imitate them or feel bad about yourself, throw the magazine away. Find something else, something pure, to grab your attention.

When that tabloid calls out, Buy me! I‘ve got such juicy gossip for you! choose to put up a road block. Buy a wholesome, godly type of magazine or nothing. Now you’re beginning to create a new, and soon well worn, track. When I’m told a co-worker needs a ride home, I don’t hide because it’s inconvenient to go out of my way, I offer to drive her, creating a new track.

“Think on.” It’s your choice, but it is also a command of God; we disobey it at the risk of disaster. We can choose to lower ourselves to the world’s standard, or put that tempting or lustful or greedy or prideful thought to death. It is work! We choose to put these things to death because they don’t fit who we are. We choose freedom so we can be real authentic ourselves.

It’s okay to admit you have a long way to go. I do too! Most of us struggle with petty sins, jealousy, pride, and toxic thinking. When we lay these mindsets down and put on Christ’s mind, we are able to enjoy a new dimension of happiness very few ever find in this world. True!

What mindsets and ruts are you setting by the convictions you choose to follow? The Bible says to “keep a close watch on all you do and think. Stay true to what is right and God will bless you and use you to help others” (1 Timothy 4:16, TLB). Don’t get discouraged if you are finding this difficult. It doesn’t come natural to most of us.