Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where is God’s grace when you are trying to lose weight?

Previously we discussed when we choose to walk by faith in God - rather than ourselves - with His grace, dieting becomes his battle, his fight, not our own. But what happens when his grace seems less than sufficient and we end up "pigging out"? Where is God and why isn't he strengthening me anymore?

Here is the news flash: God’s presence – full of grace that strengthens our weak will power – is for revealing where we are deceived and meeting that deception with living truth.
When it first dawns on us that we are desperately weak unable to control our own appetites and sincerely cry out to God for help, that truth is met with God’s grace.  The goodness of God doesn’t stop there. He wants to reveal more truth about ourselves thereby extend to us more grace. So what is the more truth you ask? You tell me.
What was going on when you started to pig out? Was it that your schedule is so out of whack that it controls you rather you controlling it. You simply didn’t take time to eat healthy and now you are famished and pig out?
Or is it that a fearful circumstance – like a financial debt, a relationship, or a responsibility – has circled you like a ravenous wolf. Perhaps that is why you have spiritually huddled in a corner and crammed food in your mouth? By the way, loading up on food is a primal way for mammals to handle stress. The extra calories will support their fight or flight strategy. It is animal instinct. But you are more than that!
We who have the Spirit of God within us have the power … the power not to fight ourselves … but surrender the fight to God. Ultimately we are God's possession.
The Bible says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20
We honor God with our body by allowing God to fight our battles, just as David did.
"David said, The Lord Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out or the jaw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine ... This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head ... All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."  (from 1 Samuel 17).
Our Goliath appetites are no match for our weak will, but thankfully God sees an attack on you as an attack on Him. And He is more than able to defeat your lion-like temptations.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-28)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do you know how to walk with grace and lose weight?

Previously we discussed how walking by faith with God’s grace requires that we transfer our confidence in ourselves to God: God’s strength, God’s ability, and God’s wisdom. When we do, we will experience God’s goodness, his inexhaustible grace.

Now, let’s examine how to walk by faith with God’s grace as we diet. It is assumed you understand the basic rules of dieting: limit calories while burning stored fat over time will produce a thinner you. It is also assumed you know and have access to healthy food and you know appropriate portion size. And finally it is assumed the problem is you have difficulty eating that way.
Monday morning you start your diet. You go for a walk, choose egg whites and dry toast. Doing good … it is 11:00 AM and you are still on your diet. Mid afternoon day one or day five, it doesn’t matter; your strength begins to wane. Your resolve is no match for the mental temptation or the physical hunger you are experiencing. You give in, you surrender. You suffer defeat. Depending on how many times this has happened will dictate the degree of self humiliation. You are mad at yourself, you become depressed and discouraged at your defeat.
Here in our forced humble state of failed dieting God can speak his good news …
You are no match for your flesh. You will lose every time; it is just a matter of time.
Paul says, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:21:24
When we choose to walk by faith in God – rather than ourselves – with His grace, dieting becomes his battle, his fight, not our own.  This is exactly Paul’s conclusion to his question:
 “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25
Intentionally we are to remove our thoughts from the tormented boxing ring in our soul and not think about dieting. We are to take a front row seat and watch Christ show himself strong, or, as I prefer, leave the arena of dieting all together.
Each eating and drinking choice is an intersection as you walk with God’s grace. Stop and pause, just as you would at a street corner. Look both ways – back and forth at all your failed attempts – and conclude, “I can’t do this, but you Lord Jesus can. I will let you lead me safely through this decision.”  That is how you step, then walk by faith in God’s grace.
Next: What is really happening when you blow your diet?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ladies, do you know how to walk with grace?

There is a high probability you don't. If you are like me no one ever offered you a course entitled "Now you are a Christian this is how you walk with grace."

Philip Yancy says, “The two major causes of most emotional problems among evangelical Christians are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional grace: and the failure to give out that unconditional grace – the good news of the Gospel of grace has not penetrated the level of our emotions.”
In other words, most Christians are not walking with grace. They are crawling ... childish in their spiritual development.
You say, “I’ve heard of walking by faith. I just haven’t heard of walking with grace. Isn’t it the same?”
Yes and NO! Here is the problem. Many of us walk by faith “in ourselves” so that we can be gracious to ourselves. Most diets, business plans, and educational aspirations encourage this.
“You can do it! Have faith in yourself.” The assumption being that you have the power within – the grace – to award yourself … a thin body, a successful portfolio, and educational achievements.
When we do this we can only “grace ourselves” from the bank of our own resources. In this case many Christians are not walking with God’s grace but with God’s disgrace -- fallen man -- ourselves.
Take Egypt’s army – they were walking by faith just as the Hebrews, faith that they would be able to cross the Red Sea.
 “By an act of faith, Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. The Egyptians tried it and drowned.” Hebrews 11:29 Msg Bible
To walk by faith with God’s grace requires that we transfer our confidence in ourselves to God: God’s strength, God’s ability, and God’s wisdom. When we do, we will experience God’s goodness, his inexhaustible grace.
You say, “Am I supposed to think I am worthless, inept, and incapable?”
No, you are to think that you are fallen, limited, and needy, dependent on God who is holy, limitless, and sufficient.
“How does this work in the real world of dieting, business, and education?”
Next: How to walk by faith with God’s grace as you try to lose weight.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Heart of Grace: saved 101

Grace is the means by which God's nature is made dynamically alive in us. The Bible reads "we are saved by grace through faith. It is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8 (italics mine for emphasis)
I had a great conversation on Thanksgiving with my sister-in-laws and niece that gave me an opportunity to explain what it means to be a Christian according to the Bible ... which is misrepresented in much of modern day press, and far too often misrepresented by loud mouth hypocrites who claim to be Christ followers.

They were kind to listen to me for well over an hour. They announced about half way, "We've never heard Christianity presented this way. We grew up going to church as you well know; sitting right beside your husband, but this is new information. You should really blog about this!”

So here it is: the heart of Grace. Feel free to chirp in. I will put Biblical links.

1. God has gifted us with His nature because our nature has fallen from a heavenly nature and is sinful.(There were no objections. We all agreed we were sinful.)

2. God gave us this gift not because we are good but because He is good. (Why then do Christians make it all about "them" instead of "Him"? That was a great question, probably because many don’t understand grace.)

3. Giving a gift because the giver is good is called GRACE and has nothing to do with worthiness of the recipient.

See Romans 3:22-24.

Stop and consider: God graces the goody two shoes and the heathen, with the gift of His nature in Christ; it makes no difference because it is never about the recipient, never, no not ever.

! That point right there will lead us down a vein of thought that goes like this: then why be good? If God gives graces us with His nature not based on our goodness but His, then why be good or even try to be good? We will trace that vein as soon as we firmly establish the heart of Grace.

Just as within a physical body, if the heart isn’t functioning it doesn’t matter where the veins travel. Once the heart is healthy and strong it is amazing to trace the vein of thoughts and how they bring life to the body of Christ.