There is a PROCESS, a PROGRESSION, and a PERSEVERANCE that ensues as we hunger and are filled, as we move toward wholeness. We serve a God who is outside of time. When He says to pray that His will would be done ON earth as it IS in heaven, He is asking us to pray for something that already IS to be made known in our here and now. We are asking for heaven to touch earth! We can stand in whatever gap there is in between heaven and earth at the moment, to bring about this connection - that’s how we intercede in prayer!
So how is this type of intercession like our journey of health, wellness, and optimal weight? Well, let me ask you this question: Are you there yet? Have you met your goal? Is there still a “gap” between where you are and where you’re going? If there’s a gap, it can be filled. And the Process, the Progression, and the Perseverance is what fills that gap - taking us from here to there.
The Process is the way that we are to go.
The Progression is the order of our steps.
The Perseverance is the ongoing work of ordering our steps along the way.
Jesus said (John 14:6) “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). And there are clear promises in the book of Revelation (2:7, 11, 17, 26 and 3:5, 12, 21) for those who overcome - prevail, defeat, beat, conquer, outdo. There is a clear way, order, and persistence necessary for any building, changing, or growing to take place.
Let’s look at the example of pregnancy to shed some light on this concept. If you want to have a baby, there is a clear Process to becoming pregnant, a Progession of development literally below the surface that must take place before the baby can be born, and a Perseverance of waiting 9 months for the completion of that development. When that time is complete, labor begins, and another cycle of Process, Progression, and Perseverance plays out in labor and delivery! This whole cycle has a lot to do with time - the right time, the passing of time, the fullness of time…
In fact, there are three different greek words that refer to time in the bible: chronos, kairos, and pleroo. Chronos is the passing of chronological time. Kairos is an opportune time, the “right time”. I call it The Divine Now! It is a change, a shift that happens, a doorway that we must pass through. Pleroo is the fullness of time. It is the end goal of our chronos and kairos moments. There is a time of waiting and preparing, like being pregnant for 9 months. During that chronos time, there is much growth and change going on below the surface. This time may seem long, but it’s necessary and none of that time is wasted. Then comes kairos - labor and delivery! This may be a very hard time and it’s a clear change, but it’s not the end. We go through many kairos moments before we come to the fullness of time, pleroo.
Like pregnancy, farming is another great example of this cycle of time and growth. A seed must be planted and it remains underground for a long period of time before it even begins to poke up through the surface of the soil. And all that time that it remains below the surface there is much growth and change taking place. And time (chronos) is passing. Eventually the growth is complete and the time (kairos) has come to bring in the harvest. NOW LISTEN CLOSELY. If the kairos moment of bringing in the harvest is neglected, the crop will rot in the field. We can’t get to the fulness (pleroo) - enjoying a meal from the harvest - unless we not only put our hand to the plow to prepare and plant, but also put our hand to the sickle to bring in the harvest!
Are you getting the picture more clearly? Everything (repeat that word out loud 5 times!) takes time. And time has a Process, a Progression, and a Perseverance embedded in it, like the seasons of a year. We don’t change the seasons but we partner with the seasons to do what needs to be done during each season.
So what “needs to be done?” Our part. God does His part, others do their part, we do our part. Read 1 Corinthians 3:5 - 9. It’s an amazing scripture in light of what we’re talking about here! Some plant, some water, but God causes things to grow. BUT (don’t miss it!) - some plant and some water! That is our part! God WILL bring the increase! He WILL cause the seed to grow. But we must partner with Him as fellow workmen with and for God!
Here’s a cool example of how me partner with God:
The word for Judah in Hebrew is “praise” and in Hosea 10:11-12 we read that Judah shall plow or break up the fallow ground. We can “plow” the “ground” in preparation for the “seed” through PRAISE! That’s our wonderful part! Praise breaks up the fallow ground of our heart so that we can be fruitful and multiply. Isn’t that cool?! And it’s just one example of how we partner with God for the Process, Progression, and Perseverance of the harvest in our lives!
Let me leave you with one more example to really drive the point home. Let’s say you hire a personal trainer to help you get strong and fit. You show up for your first session and he says, “Ok. Let’s begin by doing 20 sit ups and then 10 minutes on the treadmill.” You are dumbfounded! “I didn’t hire you to make me do sit ups and run on a treadmill! I hired you to make me strong and fit! I don’t want to do sit ups!” Get it? :) The trainer IS HELPING YOU to become strong and fit through a Process, a Progression, and a Perseverance! But he can’t do it for you, and he didn’t to it to you, but he WILL walk through it with you - if you will let him!
The Holy Spirit is like our personal trainer. Will you hire Him for the job? Will you trust Him to lead you in the right Process and Progression? Will you Persevere with Him while He helps you?
Jesus Himself declared a strong warning (Matthew 24:19, Mark 13:17, Luke 21:23) regarding the end times when He said, “Woe to those who are with child and give suck” during that time. Is there a vision, a goal, a dream, a calling, that He has planted in you? Are you still pregnant? Have you birthed the baby but you’re still nursing that baby? What has God placed in you that is ready to be born and raised up to maturity?
When what He has placed in you comes to maturity, it will be used to feed the nations! To bring many people into relationship with Jesus! Our trials and the Process, Progression, and Perseverance that ensue from those trials, are not only for us. They are to serve the world!
“Feed my sheep,” Jesus said! We are to feed His people but if we’re still “nursing the baby” we are not equipped to feed the nations. It’s time to grow up and come into the fullness (pleroo) of His chronos and kairos.
The “pressure cooker” that believers are in right now is the pressure to grow up into maturity.
The time is NOW! Kairos!
He has prepared us! Chronos!
And we will experience His fullness! Pleroo!
He is using all things to prepare us, His Bride. The chronos preparation is necessary for us to be ready for the divine now, His kairos assignment. And it is ALL leading to the completion and fullness of His eternal redemption that we will partake in at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
God is giving us the land but we still must go into the land and take possession of it.
Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the LORD! AMEN!
We began our time together in prayer - asking the Lord to show us His heart for us, our families, His Body, and this world, and agreeing with Him for His will to be done on earth as it IS in heaven! AMEN!
During my quiet time this morning before the ladies arrived, the Lord led me to this scripture verse in Psalm 107:8-9 that says, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” WOW, God! That’s what we’re talking about in our meeting today - Hunger! How did You know?! ;) He’s just cool that way!
That awesome reminder that God does know everything in us and about us, led me to dig deeper and read all of Psalm 107. What emerged was a vivid picture of four distinct groups of people who each had a specific hunger/need. Each group received a divine intervention, troublesome as it was, that led them to cry out to the Lord and ultimately have their true hunger/need satisfied by the only One who can truly satisfy. Read the Psalm, then keep the pages open as we break it down below.
The first three verses are an introduction of sorts, setting the stage for what we as believers are intended to apply from what we’re about to read: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this - those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” That about covers all of us! So what is the “this” we’re supposed to say? It’s very simple: He is GOOD and His love endures forever!
Of course the enemy is trying to make us believe and say what is opposite to the truth. The message he wants to be declared throughout the world is that the Lord is NOT good, and that His love will fail us. That, my friends, as you can see clearly from God’s Word, is the farthest thing from the truth!
So if you get nothing more out of reading this blog, get this: God is GOOD. His love endures FOREVER! Amen!
So with that truth firmly established in our hearts and minds, let us move on to the four groups of people that emerge from the text:
WANDERERS (verses 4-9)
This group of people are lost and empty, homeless, hungry, and thirsty - nearing death. The very things they are suffering, their hunger and thirst, are the very things that drive them to cry out to the Lord. He rescues them from their distress, and leads them straight to safety and gives them a home, satisfying their deep hunger and thirst. He gives them the free gift of salvation! All He desires in response? Thankfulness and praise for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds toward them.
PRISONERS (verses 10-16)
This group is in the pit of darkness! They are suffering from deep despair and miserable bondage. Their rebellion against God’s Word and His wisdom has brought them to this dungeon of bitterness and hard labor. When they fall in the darkness and find no one to rescue them or help them rise again, they cry out to the Lord. Again, the very things that caused such distress for these people are the very things that caused them to hurt enough to cry out to God. His mercy in disguise. When they cried out He saved them, brought them out of their dark prison of gloom, and broke their chains and bonds, forever making them free! The same response is desired from their Rescuer: Give thanks and praise for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds toward them.
FOOLS (verses 17- 22)
This group is similar to the Prisoners in that they rebelled against God. But their rebellion is more than just a rejection of His Word and His wisdom. It is outright sin, acting against His ways, and thus suffering affliction directly caused by their sin. This group of people, in stark contrast to the Wanderers, has completely lost their appetite. Nothing satisfies them anymore. They loathe all food and are starving to death. Like addicts, they have grown tolerant to their addiction. It is not until they see the destruction of their body, mind, and spirit that they realize they are nearly dead and cry out to the Lord. He steps right in and heals them with the power of His Word, snatching them from the very door of death. Oh that they would give thanks and praise for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds toward them! He wants them to tell of His works and sing about it with joy!
SUCCESSFUL / PRIDEFUL (verses 23-32)
This last group is successful in the world and possibly as well in the work of the Kingdom. I believe this group is comprised of believers and non-believers alike. These people are like prideful businessmen on the sea of success - eyewitnesses to the goodness of God and the virtue of His principles at work in all they do. But God does something to “help” this group see that while they feel they are above the despair and suffering of the first three groups of people, they are only one storm away from losing it all. God causes great waves of terror to toss them higher and deeper than they’ve ever gone before. When they see their own weakness, and come to the end of themselves, they cry out to they Lord. He once again rescues from trouble, calming the storm to a peaceful whisper, stilling the waves, and guides them to the safe and truly satisfying harbor of His love. His desire, once more, is for them to praise and thank Him for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds toward them. He ads the call to exalt Him publicly - both in ministry to His people and to the entire world.
Each of these groups of people suffered pain - pain that led them to recognize their true hunger/need. Pain of any sort is a merciful gift of God. Pain alerts us that we are in danger. Without pain, we are unaware of our own immanent destruction. Imagine putting your hand on a hot stove. The pain you feel causes you to immediately jerk your hand from the stove and thus your hand is saved from total destruction. What if you couldn’t feel the pain? You may not realize that your hand was being destroyed until you smelled burning flesh. We often curse God for our sufferings rather than thank Him for the pain that alerts us to take our hand off the stove.
Hunger, like pain, is good because it alerts us to our need SO THAT we can meet our need and not suffer the awful consequences of destruction, despair, and death that will take place in our spirits, hearts, minds, and bodies if we ignore hunger’s warning. Our God is using our very areas of suffering and affliction, our areas of captivity and bondage, to show us our desperate need for deliverance and press us to cry out to the only true source of that deliverance.
Those who have wrestled with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia have misinterpreted hunger pain as a sign of victory. Those who have wrestled with gluttony, binging or overeating in general are often afraid to feel hunger at all, and eat proactively to avoid those hunger pains. Both groups are missing out on the blessing of hunger. Physical hunger is designed to alert us that our body is in need of food. We need to meet our body’s need for fuel and nutrients, not just make the hunger go away.
Similarly, emotional/heart hunger is designed to alert us that our hearts are in need of love, companionship, significance, acceptance…Head hunger (or mental distress) is designed to alert us that our minds are in need of truth, peace, stimulation, God’s Word, information, creativity, knowledge…Spirit hunger is designed to alert us of our need for God - for His unconditional love, His Holy Spirit, salvation, discipleship, mission and calling.
In each area of hunger - Head, Heart, Spirit, Body - are you a Wanderer? A Prisoner? A Fool? Prideful in your Success? Cry out to the Lord! He will meet your deepest hunger and fulfill your true need.
Are you balanced in all four areas of hunger? Remember balance is not compromise. Compromise would leave us with unmet hungers. Balance fills us up in all areas each time we hunger. Balance is like the solid and whole foundation of a house. A trustworthy foundation that can be built upon. Any problem in the walls, roof, or floor of the house are all problems with the foundation. Remember, He desires us to be whole, not full of holes!
In His mercy God often sets up strong boundary lines to produce a solid foundation and to protect us from attacks against that foundation. These boundaries can feel hard at times, but what sometimes seems like the harshness of God is in actuality His mercy! When you read some of the commandments in the old testament you can draw the false conclusion that God is not good. But His strong commandments were intended to protect and keep His people from loss and destruction. His love is depicted in His laws, His truth, as much as it is in His grace. Love is the highest of all joys and the deepest of all sorrows. The capacity for each extreme is the definition of true love. Love is not a happy feeling or emotional euphoria. Love is opening yourself up to the greatest joys and deepest sorrows. That is exactly what our Lord has done for us in loving us with an unfailing love.
Why did God design us to need to eat multiple times a day? Wouldn’t it have been easier if He had made us, like some animals, to only need to eat once a day, or even once a week?! But He didn’t. I believe He wants us to daily, multiple times each day, feel hunger and need to be satisfied. For ultimately we are to hunger and thirst for Him, for His righteousness. He doesn’t want us to be satisfied with anything less than all of Himself. “Good enough” is not part of God’s vocabulary. It’s not that we can never measure up or never please Him fully. It’s that He loves us so much that He is willing to continue to work in us and on us for our good and for the good of those in our lives, who we are called to touch. He wants us to hunger so that we will turn to Him and He can fill us up!
Remember the ferns on my front porch? They’re looking really good! I’ve got the tools in place to water them well and for them to thrive. Last week we noticed in John 15 that while branches that don’t produce fruit are cut off and burned, those that do produce fruit are pruned so that they will produce more fruit. I noticed that even though my ferns are looking really good, they do have some dead leaves that need to be pruned. But to me they are good enough. It’s not that I don’t care about my ferns - I do! It’s just that I don’t care enough to put in the work to take them down from their hangers, pull off the chains, pluck off all the dead branches, rearrange them in their baskets, and re-hang them! It’s not worth it to me - they are good enough. But God isn’t like me with my ferns. He never tires, never grows weary of pruning us. He is overjoyed to see us thrive! He is more than willing to put in the work and time it takes to cause us to be even more fruitful.
With that in mind, look at this scripture in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
He has taken hold of you - His prized fern, to prune you and to produce more fruit!
Can you let Him take hold of you?
Are there “dead leaves” in your life that you can allow Him prune and cut away?
Can you forget what is behind and press on toward what is ahead - the prize?
We are His prize and He is our Prize!
Don’t fight against His pruning hand!
What does He want out of all of this pain and hunger? He wants us to CRY OUT TO HIM!
He is waiting to save you, deliver you, heal you, and satisfy you!
Thank Him and praise Him for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds toward you!
YOU are what He wants!
All glory and praise to Our Most High God!
There is never any better place to start anything than at the Beginning - God Himself! Let us never lose sight of Him, knowing that all things are either drawing us closer to Him or pulling us further away. There is no neutral ground!
Let us remember that prayer is our primary connection with our Lord and our best tool for victory in any area of our life! The God of this Universe wants to partner with us, His Bride, for the work of His Kingdom here on earth and for eternity! Amen!
(If you are interested in learning more about prayer and setting aside time to actively pray as the Holy Spirit leads, then check out the Watchmen Prayer section on this blog.)
Remember that there is nothing between us on God’s side the equation of our relationship with HIm. He took care of the sin that separates us through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son. So we can now come boldly into His Presence as far as His holiness is concerned. If we are feeling like there is anything between us and God, it’s on our side of the equation! We may have unforgiveness toward another or there may be a sin that is keeping us from bringing our whole heart to Him. God doesn’t need to do anything that He hasn’t already done! It’s we who need to remove the “junk” that clutters our hearts and minds and remember that it’s nothing we’ve done or haven’t done that has given us this glorious unlimited access to the Father! Rejoice! Repent! Receive and Rest in His finished work and unconditional love for you!
Last week we talked about Tools, Hunger, and Strongholds. We will be taking some time over the next few weeks to go deeper into each of these areas. This week we touched on all three elements, but looked closely at the tools in our toolbox. Next week we are going to go deeper into the four areas of hunger - head hunger, heart hunger, spirit hunger, and body hunger.
It’s more than important to differentiate between a stronghold and the Lord Our Stronghold! A stronghold holds us down and keeps us captive. The Lord Our Stronghold holds us up and makes us free! That’s a BIG difference! According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 a stronghold is anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God - anything that holds us captive through a worldly mind frame or way of thinking. We must take our thoughts captive to the obedience of God or else our thoughts will take us captive to fear, distress, and defeat. If you read Psalm 9:9, 18:2, 27:1, 43:2, 91:2 and 144:2 you will see God Himself as our High Tower, our Fortress, our Stronghold, our Deliverer, our Refuge, our Rock, our Strength, our Buckler, our Light and Salvation, our Goodness, and our Shield!
Sometimes a stronghold can take hold through negative, accusatory, or false-identity words. Have you ever encountered a naysayer? Someone or something that has come in direct opposition to the truth of God’s Word in your life at a specific time? This often happens right after you’ve had some sort of fresh revelation from the Holy Spirit. The enemy wants to keep us distracted and defeated. We must believe the report of the Lord! (Isaiah 53:1)To whom are you going to choose to listen? Who’s voice will you obey?
Some strongholds can actually be broken by words of truth and encouragement. Do you have true encouragers in your life? These people (and sometimes information) will always align themselves with the Word of God. Hold up His Word like a plumb line by which you judge all thoughts, motives, intents, and actions.
Through we will dedicate next week to the topic of hunger, it’s important to highlight a key concept that should be taking root in our hearts: Hunger is a good thing - it is simply a sign of a real need. The goal of the hunger is to identify your real need and then meet it appropriately. But hunger can become an unhealthy thing in two key way.
One way hunger becomes unhealthy is when we try to meet a real hunger in one area of life with a different area of hunger that cannot truly satisfy the real hunger. It can be difficult at first to identify your real need, especially if you’ve become a pro at pushing that particular need deep down inside! For example, father hunger is a big need in the area of heart hunger. If you’ve grown up without a father in your life you will have a hunger in your heart for that relationship. If you’ve learned how to repress, disguise, and ignore that need, you may attempt to meet the father hunger need with a head or body hunger like chocolate cake, or alcohol, or education, or sex. Those things won’t ever meet the actual need and hunger for a father. You may not be able to connect with your father or to have a healthy relationship with him for many reasons. He may be deceased, unwilling, or too unhealthy at the time for you to feel same in the connection. But if you can accurately assess your real need you can get closer to meeting it, and the Lord will make up the difference. You may be able to connect with an older male in your family who is willing to take on the role of father in your life to the best of his ability. Or you may be able to let your Heavenly Father completely fill that role in your life. When we have needs/hungers, we WILL get them met one way or another. It’s how we’re wired. So we want to continue to try to meet the real need with what is really needed.
The other way that hunger can be unhealthy is when we have a stronghold in one of our areas of hunger. The stronghold, the false mind frame, becomes a filter through which we see those true hungers and thus they become corrupt and distorted. Just as we must work to identify our real needs, we must also work to identify strongholds (false beliefs/mind frames) and pull them down with our spiritual weapons, taking them captive to the obedience of Christ! Our greatest fear is that our needs really can’t be met - that God is not sufficient to meet our needs. The truth is that God IS sufficient to meet all of our needs! Every stronghold falls powerless when confronted with the truth of God’s sufficiency in Christ!
How do we handle what seems to be a dichotomy of what "works" and what’s "best"? Do these two things have to be in opposition? Can they work together? Let’s look at it this way: You can have a whole toolbox full of tools and have a project to complete yet still be left staring at the tool box wondering what tools to use! But is there only one right tool for every single job or every single person? No, of course not. It could be a matter of preference or timing or of the specific need. For example, if you’re going to hang a picture on a wall in an older home with lathe and plaster walls you may use the same hammer you would use on drywall, but you would use the hammer in a different way so as not to crack the walls in the older home. If the walls were made of concrete you would use a different tool altogether. Each person has a different feel and so the same tool in different hands makes a difference as well. In that moment, for that person, for their need, the Holy Spirit will lead them to the right tool for the job. Listen and keep listening! The STEPS of a righteous man are ordered of God. (Psalm 37:23) Sometimes He starts us out in a specific direction in order to get us further down the road where the next turn will come into view.
So what tools do we currently have in our toolboxes? We discussed some tools that have been working for us. Here are a few that were mentioned:
*Instead of just cutting something out of your diet, replace it with something better that you like.
ex. Replace oatmeal with greek yogurt for breakfast instead of just giving up eating oatmeal.
*Prepare in advance
ex. Portion your “treats” out ahead of time so you’re not tempted to overindulge.
*Take incremental steps and make incremental exchanges
ex. Move from drinking Mountain Dew to drinking flavored seltzer water to drinking pure water.
*Make decisions ahead of time, don’t wait for the moment of temptation.
ex. Decide you will not be eating anything after 6pm each night.
*Recognize what you do right and not just what you do “wrong.”
ex. Keep a journal of all the positive changes you’re seeing in yourself - spirit, soul, and body.
*Always ask yourself what you REALLY need and then try to meet THAT need the best way you can.
ex. Sometimes you’re thirsty when you feel hungry! Have a nice big glass of water first!
*What you do most of the time matters the most!
ex. If you walk 4 days/week that’s most of the week!
*Use the 2 minute rule - if you can get it done in 2 minutes do it!
ex. Instead of waiting until dishes pile up, clean them after each use.
*Trade out high carb foods for high protein foods.
ex. Use caesar dressing instead of french dressing on salads.
*Pray about EVERYTHING!
ex. Ask Him to reveal your need and give you strength in your weakness.
We do not have a Savior who can’t identify and understand our emotions and feelings. Though He was God, in His body He suffered to the point of near death in the garden of Gethsemane. He told his disciples that he was “exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” (Mathew 26:38) He understands the struggle of living in the flesh and on this earth. Yet for the “joy set before Him” He endured the suffering of the cross. (Hebrews 12:2) WE are the JOY set before Him! He took joy in knowing that His suffering would set us free from sin and death and make the way for us to be one with Him forever!
Certain restrictions that we’ve chosen may actually provide more freedom than no restrictions at all. My older sister once said, “There is freedom within boundaries.” Imagine you are playing baseball on a old mine field. The safe area is marked out clearly with cones and yellow tape. If you stay inside the area that is marked out, you are guaranteed to be safe. Remove the cones and yellow tape and the freedom that was found within the boundaries quickly turns to fear! God, through His Holy Spirit, sets boundaries on our heart and mind - like a watchman on the wall of a great city. We would do well to listen to and adhere to the boundaries He sets for each of us, and rejoice in the freedom found within them!
There is a difference between balance and compromise. Let me ask you a question: Are you whole or full of holes? The balance that God wants to bring is that of a solid foundation, balanced and whole. A foundation full of holes can never support a balanced building. If we want true balance, we need a whole and solid foundation, not a compromising and worldly “balance.”
He wants to teach us only one thing - HIM. Nothing else really matters in and of itself. Everything we go through and experience becomes a living parable that the Holy Spirit can minster through and to different people with different needs in the same place at the same time. This group is about health, wellness, and optimal weight. But what it’s REALLY about is learning more about Our Lord and His love for us through our experiences with health, wellness, and optimal weight. It’s easy to get distracted and caught up in the “how” and lose focus on the “who” and “what” of God Himself.
Distractions and urgent things pull us away from important things. It’s like trying to play a game of tennis with a ball machine. As those balls are hurtling toward you one after another, you go into reaction mode. You feel caught, trapped, and stuck in the same spot - hitting balls! Now imagine stepping off that court. The balls are still coming one after another, but it’s not your responsibility to respond or react to them. You’re on a whole other court - the court of the Holy Spirit!
Let the Holy Spirit fill up your toolbox. Sometimes we want that infomercial promised one-gadget-for-everything tool! But we find that that one tool is only sort of good for everything and not great for anything. God wants us to have a lot of different tools that are each perfect for the job! Sometimes it’s time to change tools and we may go through an adjustment phase. We have grown accustomed to using our old tools and so we often reject the new and improved tools that the Lord wants to give us. We must be willing to grow, change, experiment, practice, and TRY new things! He will be our Mentor, Trainer, Coach to teach us how to use our tools. It’s often during our trials that we’re learning how to use our tools. For example, we won’t know what it is to be disciplined until we have the opportunity to be undisciplined and choose discipline instead.
Can a tool become a crutch? It can if we begin to rely on the tool instead of the Tool-Giver. God wants us to be dependent on Him, leaning on Him for all things in all times and for all reasons. We do not need to become independent, but instead to become God-dependent. Self-Control is a fruit of the Spirit. That means it grows out of our relationship with God and His indwelling in us through His Holy Spirit. Self-Control is not something we can cultivate on our own. That kind of self control falls short and becomes like the tennis game with the ball machine - stressful, exhausting, and pointless!
Remember to PRAY for each other! We can battle alongside one another in prayer to help tear down strongholds and build walls of protection. Ask God to show you how He sees you and others. What are HIS expectations for you? For others in your life? We often place too high expectations on ourselves and others. Let us apply to ourselves and others the same grace that Our Lord applies to us in love. We are called to use whatever gift He's given us to SERVE others, faithfully ADMINISTERING (applying) God's grace in it's various forms! (1 Peter 4:10)
In His Name and by His Grace
We started our time together by sharing our “little victories!” When we declare our praise to God publicly for what He is doing in us and through us, we are encouraged and we destroy the enemy’s tool of discouragement in our life! The enemy wants to keep us captive to our old habits and hangups - strongholds in our lives. God wants us to be FREE!
Thank you, Lord, that You are such a loving Father and that You love us just the way we are! We thank You that you are leading us in ways that are setting us free from things that have been holding us captive. We declare that through You we ARE well! And we choose to trust You on our journey!
We talked about what is called a ketogenic diet which is similar to other high protein/low carbohydrate diets such as Adkins, the Paleo Diet, South Beach, Candida Cleanse and the like. Simplified, when we limit or eliminate carbs from our diets we essentially force our bodies into burning fat for fuel instead of the easier source found in carbs. All macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) are broken down to glucose for fuel. When your body can’t easily get glucose because you aren’t consuming carbs, it must utilize stored fat for energy. This helps your body (your friend!) to clean out the closets so to speak!
We were reminded that our pursuit of health and wellness are really leading us to wholeness! Tamara noted that in the testimony of the 10 lepers that Jesus healed, only the one who returned to thank Him was called well or whole. The other nine lepers were healed but were not referred to as whole. Let us seek more than just to be healed but to be whole! (Luke 19:11-19)
Let me share part 2 on the hanging ferns on my porch! In our first meeting I shared how in the past I used to go through 2 to 3 sets of hanging ferns on my porch each summer because I would forget to water them. Then when I would remember to water them the water seemed to pour right through the soil and basket onto the ground! A total waste of time and water. This year I found plastic inserts that sit inside the hangers and hold the plants, keeping the water from pouring out and also keeping a reservoir for the plants to use throughout the day.
Today when I went out to water them I noticed that while they are thriving and growing bigger than any ferns I’ve ever had before, they still had some dead leaves that needed to be pruned away. I was reminded of a scripture we discussed last week in John 15:2. “He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” My old plants were like the branches that didn’t bear fruit and were cut off. My plants this year are producing abundant “fruit” yet still must be pruned so they can grow even more. The key here is that God will continue to work in us when we are growing and thriving for the very purpose that we will grow even more!
We are all enjoying the safe accountability we’re experiencing in this small group! We recognize how hard it can be to trust others, but when we find our unconditional love and acceptance first from our Father in Heaven, we can grow in trust for one another. As humans we will at times fail each other, hurt each other’s feelings, and even betray a trust. We continue to grow in our own maturity so that we can love ourselves and others as Our Lord loves us. Our confidence comes from His love for us!
God spoke three words to me for our group this week - Tools, Hunger, and Strongholds. Let’s look at each of those words.
Just like the plastic liners in my hanging ferns, having the right tools for the job helps to not only make our work effective, but keeps us motived to keep doing the work. Having good tools in our toolbox wards off frustration and sets us up for success!
*So what is the toolbox? I picture it as a hand-crafted wooden box painted in my favorite colors with my name on it! However you picture it, it should be something of value that serves to organize, protect, and keep your tools handy for use. I believe we receive our “toolbox” from the Lord when we answer the “big” question, “Do you want to be well?” with a resounding and heartfelt “YES!” If you don’t have a toolbox, if you haven’t said YES to that big question, you won’t have a safe and convenient place to keep your tools!
*What tools do you have in your toolbox? Sometimes we have some great tools, they are just in the attic, the basement, covered in rust, or lost! When we didn’t have our “toolbox” in the past, our tools may have been misused or even misplaced. But now that we have our “toolbox” (Make sure you’ve truly said YES to Lord when He asks you if you want to be well!) we have a place to begin to store our tools.
*So what are the tools? Are they working for you? You may have a pen in your toolbox. If you’re trying to hang a picture on the wall, your pen won’t help you hammer the nail into the wall! It will help you mark the spot where the nail goes. Not only do we need to have tools but we need to use them for the right purposes. We need to know what we have and what we don’t have.
*Do you have the right tool for the job? Is what you currently have suitable? Prayerfully take account of where you are right now. Be honest with yourself and also let the Holy Spirit shine His light into your heart, mind, soul, and body. Don’t be afraid! Take courage! Your Helper is great! We’ve got to know where we are before we know where we’re going!
*Have you practiced using your tools? Some people have every tool imaginable but never touch them! Don’t expect to be an instant expert! Do become an apprentice! When you practice using the tools you have and the tools you acquire they will become very useful. Living is learning! DOING is learning! In the Hebrew culture learning always involved doing. Often in our western society, learning and preparing have a future goal of doing rather than learning by doing. We learn best how to use our tools by using them. What we DO we will RETAIN. The word for “know” in Hebrew is not a head knowledge but actually refers to being intimate like a husband is with his wife. We will know how to be well when we practice wellness.
*Can you borrow and share tools? YES! Let’s be willing to share time and information with others and be willing to ask for help when we need it.
*How do you get more tools? Books, online articles, video series, other people, expert opinions, trial and error….all are ways we can get more tools, but they themselves are not the tools! Just because you have a book about eating well doesn’t guarantee that you will eat well. What you learn from the book and apply to your life is the tool you can put in your toolbox! We of course want to learn as much as possible so that we can be effective, but don’t let perfectionism keep you from starting. And don’t let mistakes discourage you from trying again! If you go to hang your picture on the wall and you didn’t know that you needed to put the nail into a stud, the picture might fall off the wall. You could become very discouraged, or you could get excited that now you have a new tool - you KNOW that you need to find a stud to hammer your nail into! That’s a great tool to have!
Remember that any tool in the wrong hand can become a weapon. A hammer can drive a nail into a stud to hand a picture, but it can also be used to bash holes in the wall! One use decorates your house, the other use destroys your house. Our tools should be used to help us and build us up, not tear us down.
When we talk about hunger we are looking to identify our real need so we can meet it well.
I recognize four different types of hunger - Head, Heart, Spirit, and Body.
We are going to spend more time on each of these types of hunger in the weeks ahead. Today we are going to identify several aspects of each of these different hungers and the stronghold that is often associated with each.
* a need for inspiration, information, knowledge, creativity, truth, ideas, work, learning, intellectual growth
* The stronghold is lies, false information/false knowledge
* a need for emotion, passion, meaning, purpose, significance, acceptance, human love, fulfilling relationships
* The stronghold is past hurts or abuse
* a need for God, the Word of Truth, salvation, discipleship, mission, calling, unconditional love, the Holy Spirit
* The stronghold is deception, false belief, and idolatry (anything that takes the place of God)
* a need for food, drink, nutrients, pleasure, fuel, energy, rest, sleep, touch, sex, activity, strength, fitness, aesthetics
* The stronghold is disease and dysfunction
When we have a stronghold in one area of hunger, we often try to meet the real needs of that area of hunger with a different area of hunger. For example when we have a stronghold of past hurt in our life (heart hunger) that has kept us from having fulfilling relationships in our life, we may try to meet that need by using a body hunger - chocolate cake! The chocolate cake may give us a feeling of fulfillment temporarily, but it won’t actually meet the need for a fulfilling human relationship.
Let’s look a little further into strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10: 3 -5 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
God holds us tighter than our strongholds. He is our Deliverer. He wants us to be free!
What is our part? (look back at the above scripture)
* We fight (but not as the world fights)
* We use divine weapons to demolish strongholds (not just natural wisdom/tools, we have power from the Holy Spirit)
* We demolish arguments and pretenses (identifying anything contrary to the Truth - biblical mind frame vs worldly mind frame)
* We take our every thought captive (bring it in line with the Truth)
Recognize, Admit, Repent, Fight!
When we recognize the stronghold, the enemy will try to bring discouragement and self-pity. He knows what buttons to push and often triggers us with the same triggers over and over. It worked for him before!
God is revealing the stronghold in order to remove it! He wants to set us free to a new level of JOY!
He is pruning us so that we can produce more fruit that will nourish us and others.
We began our time together excited to share, inspired by our first meeting and the week that had passed between meetings!
I shared a portion from a devotional book I’ve been reading of Catherine Marshall’s journals. The section was entitled His Strength in Our Weakness. Catherine had battled emphysema most of her life, and while she was strengthened by prayer on her behalf she never received total healing here on earth. While the question of why some prayers for healing are answered on earth and others are not frustrated her, she never stopped struggling for answers. The passage in the book reads, “And out of the struggle came - not the robust health she yearned for, but a daily, growing intimacy with God that became far more precious than any amount of physical stamina. Her constant companion on this closer walk…the Bible.”
What a wonderful confirmation of what God spoke to our hearts last week - the struggle is often what produces the intimacy that draws us into the arms of God!
Tamara shared how she prayerful sought God for His vision for her health, and the Holy Spirit led her to this passage in James 1: 2 - 4: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Looking up the word “perfect” she saw the meaning was “complete” - we are complete in Christ. We don’t need to strive; we can abide in Him. In pondering the thought of lacking or wanting nothing, she felt the Lord speak these words to her heart: “My strength is made perfect in weakness” and “My grace is sufficient for you.” Amen! Another wonderful confirmation from the Holy Spirit that we are indeed on track with His leading each of us individually and as a group! Abide in Him, stand on His Word, always trust, remember He is faithful, never listen to the lies of the enemy! God has provided complete, perfect healing for us all whether we receive it on earth or eventually in heaven. He exists outside of the constraints of time, while we are often blinded by those constraints.
How wonderful that He continues to show us that we are not to be self-sufficient, but instead Jesus-sufficient as we unite together!
Others shared how certain strongholds (specifically those with food) can keep us from receiving the fullness of what God has for us spirit, soul, and body. We can truly trust Him with everything. He desires us to be free so that we can fulfill His calling in our lives, however great or small that may seem. Each struggle we overcome builds our faith and trust in the One who sets us free, and serves as a sort of memorial stone to look back to and remember Yahweh’s ongoing provision, protection, and providence.
A friend of mine once shared her story with me about a time that she attended a retreat in Colorado. The group of attendees had the opportunity to complete a challenging obstacle course that required them to wear a harness and be strapped into cables in case they fell. The obstacles were less challenging at first and slowly increased in height and difficulty. My friend went through the whole course without a single fall and never needed to rely on the cables that held her. When she reached the pinnacle of the course, the top of a telephone pole with just barley enough room to stand on, she froze. She was supposed to jump from the top of that telephone pole to the top of another telephone pole several feet away and equally as high! She couldn’t bring herself to take the leap and instead was lowered down slowly with the cables.
As she watched the next participant go through the course she noticed that he made several mistakes and fell, needing to use the cables and harness to catch him so he could continue. When he reached the looming telephone pole he took the giant leap, seemingly without hesitation, and landed on the other pole while the onlookers exploded in cheers! When he was back on the ground my friend asked him how he had mustered the courage to take the jump! She asked him, “Weren’t you afraid you would miss?!” He smiled and simply said, “By the time I got the end I had fallen so many times that I had complete confidence that the cables would catch me!” Because my friend had focused so much on not falling, on not making a mistake, she had never felt the security of the cables and harness. Even though she knew in her head that she was strapped in, she did not have confidence in the cables because she had never experienced their strength and protection.
God is not calling us to live a perfect life, He’s calling us to trust a perfect God!
We see a linear time line while God sees past, present, and future simultaneously. Yet scripture says we are seated with Him in heavenly places! Lord give us your eyes, your perspective, your heart, and your mind!
One of our group members shared her experience from early that morning of enjoying the presence of God while she went about the “menial” tasks of cleaning her kitchen. Her mind began to tell her that she “should do her devotions” since it was morning. She realized that His presence was her devotion! He truly was the joy and focus of her time and He was enjoying her just as much as she was enjoying Him, in that moment!
Wherever we are, in circumstance or frame of mind, we are to abide in Him!
As she prayed about the question, “What is your vision?” the Lord spoke a word to her to serve. And as she stepped out in faith and obedience to His guidance by serving someone else who needed help around their house, she found a supernatural strength not only to serve, but to take care of her own needs that before had seemed like a struggle in many ways. How amazing that HIs wisdom is so much higher than ours!
She shared how the openness of another in the group had given her the ability to face the question, “Do you want to be well?” with strength and peace. Another wonderful picture of how His strength is made perfect in our weakness!
So have you answered that question before the Lord? Do you want to be well? Can you trust that He holds you tighter than any sin, any struggle, any stronghold or bad habit has ever held you?
Rachel shared how a “slip-up” in her healthy eating had actually served to strengthen her resolve to be well. The negative results she felt after eating unhealthy food helped her to confirm the decisions she had made to live a healthier lifestyle and eat healthier foods. Both our successes and our failures can serve to strengthen us when applied through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We can resist guilt and shame in Jesus name, and instead allow ourselves to learn powerful and lasting lessons that will serve us in our healthy endeavors. We can be objective and avoid the black and white mentality of beating ourselves up, by recognizing and expecting that we will make some mistakes along the way. Remember that it’s not our perfection that saves us!
Here’s a little saying I like: “When you drop the ball, pick it up!” Simple, but not always easy!
Each little “victory” strengthens us for the next challenge and does make it easier and easier. So celebrate each little victory! Write it down! Share it with others! And Praise God for the work He’s doing in you! Do keep your eyes open for the subtle attacks of the enemy - he is seeking to destroy the work of God in your life.
Remember to not be afraid to look at your excuses - some of them are valid! Your excuse may be, “I’m too busy to eat well.” When you examine this excuse you see a valid reason inside of it - “I’m busy.” Now you can make some progress! From that point you can ask yourself if you can adjust your priorities, alter your schedule, and make plans to accommodate your busyness. The excuse loses its power and the process of examination and decision making propels us toward progress!
Rachel recognized that in her “slip-up” she had failed to plan. Planning provides the tools we need to get the job done and avoid pitfalls.
One of the common pitfalls to healthy eating is letting ourselves get too hungry. Our bodies are designed to stay alive! To do so, the body must remain in a state of homeostasis which includes a narrow range for our blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar drops below that safe range, hormones are released that tell our brain to eat and eat now! We will often find ourselves craving sugar in that moment because ingesting sugar is the easiest and fastest way for our body to get the blood sugar level back up into the safe zone. If we do indulge in a sugary snack our blood sugar is elevated but often goes higher than is safe. The body responds by releasing insulin which tells the cells to absorb sugar and help get the overload out of the blood. This causes another drop in blood sugar as insulin is an overachiever (except in diabetics who do not produce insulin or produce insufficient amounts of insulin.) You can see the cycle begin and have probably experienced it as a cycle of craving and crashing!
That’s one of the reasons it’s important to feed our bodies with proper fuel throughout the day to maintain a consistent healthy blood sugar. We need to work with our bodies, not against them. We can choose to treat our bodies as our best friends instead of as our enemies.
The question of fasting came up - is it healthy? How and when? As a very simple answer, yes - fasting is biblical and healthy. However, you need to know your body, your reasons for fasting, and the adjustments you need to make to maintain wellness during the fast. We didn’t go into further detail about fasting but encouraged members to do sufficient research before embarking on any particual fast.
The vision statement for this group is to simplify health, wellness, and weight - setting captives free. While we will go into detail on the nuts and bolts of health, wellness, and optimal weight, we will keep things simple and encourage more in depth study outside of group and subsequent sharing by all members as they learn and experience different ways and paths toward their individual goals.
Tamara encouraged us in a way that the Lord encouraged her: If you focus on your problems they will multiply! Instead keep your eyes on the Lord in the midst of the problem and seek Him for your answers. He knows and He will provide. Our Lord desires us to take great big steps of faith and to move mountains! He simply says keep your eyes on Me, not on the mountains! :)
Let me ask you this question: “WHAT ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR?”
We need to recognize our true hunger, our true need. Unless we recognize the real need, we cannot meet that need. Sometimes we try to meet a real need with something that cannot actually fulfill that need.
Let me give you an example: If you are exhausted at the end of the day your need (your hunger) is for sleep. If you deny yourself what you need, in this example sleep, you will begin to crave (hunger for) other things that may serve to lessen your need, but not actually meet your need. You may start to feel hungry for food and crave a sugary snack which might help you stay awake a little longer, but does it really meet the need for sleep? No. You may turn on the television to occupy your time and this too may help you forget how tired you are for a little bit. But does watching the tv actually meet your need for sleep? NO. You can see the pattern, I’m sure. We have head hunger, heart hunger, spirit hunger, and body hunger. We are going to go into more depth on this question next week so for now just begin to ask yourself the question, “What am I hungry for?”
In closing, I shared how that morning I had woken with a scripture repeating in my mind: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) These questions arose:
HOW DO WE SEEK HIS KINGDOM AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS? His Kingdom is His reign, His authority. His Righteousness is His rule - His rules or ways, so to speak. Are we living in line with His authority and His ways?
WHAT DOES “FIRST” MEAN? Priority, above all, preeminent, literally first! Is He your first priority and desire?
WHAT ARE “ALL THESE THINGS?” The previous verses talk about food and clothes, how the lilies and the birds don’t worry about what they will eat or what they will wear. Can we trust Him for even our most basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter?
HE is our PRIORITY!
Proverbs 3:6 says, “in all your ways acknowledge Him” or put another way, “In all your courting, court Him first.”
2 Corinthians 11:3 mentions the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. Love is not complicated yet it is pervasive.
2 Corinthians 5:14 emphasizes that it’s the love of Christ that constrains us - controls, urges, and compels us.
Revelations 2:4 reminds us of the importance of maintaining Him as our first love.
Everything flows from love. We gain intimacy with Him - His heart and mind, friendship, power, victory, and refuge - which creates a loving partnership, like a great marriage. Our acts of service aren’t the focus. Our love for Him, and from that a love for ourselves and others, is our motivation for all else.
Once our Priority is in Place, we need a PLAN!
There are basically 2 fundamental elements to the equation of health, wellness, and ideal weight: Exercise and Eating.
You may have heard something like this before: If you expend more calories than you intake, you will lose weight. Sort of like a math equation: Calories In - Calories Out = Weight Loss/Gain
But that is only part of the picture, because the equation for health, wellness, and optimal weight is not just a math equation but a science equation as well. It’s a chemical equation. Different foods affect our bodies in different ways. Different sources of energy (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) burn differently in different bodies and when combined in different amounts and with other different fuel sources. Sound too complicated? I promise it’s not. It does, however, require you to become a student of your own body and to be willing to try things, evaluate, try other things, make changes, and keep going. The only true failure is never doing anything. You will learn from your successes and your failures, so keep going!
Philippians 2:12 says we are to WORK OUT our own salvation with fear and trembling! Did you know working out was mentioned in the bible?!! Ok, I know it’s not the same as going to the gym, but it does imply that we are going to need to put forth some effort. Faith requires action!
Well, but Psalm 46:10 says we are to BE STILL and know the He is God! HA! I’ve found my new excuse not to work out!
All joking aside, we know we need to move to be healthy. Jesus walked almost everywhere He went. What a great example of living a healthy lifestyle of exercise. We can “work out” while we clean our house by picking up the pace and alternating arms as we scrub the floor by hand! We can find a sport like tennis that we enjoy so we won’t dread exercise. We can park further away in the parking lot at the grocery store so we increase the number of steps we take in a day. Acts 17:28 says, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” It’s in there, friends! We can enjoy living and moving and being healthy!
Here are a few very simple Do’s and Don’t for the eating part of our equations:
- drink lots of pure clean water
- eat plenty of fresh vegetables (steamed, raw, sautéed, roasted, grilled…)
- focus on quality protein and fat. Yes, fat! Don’t be afraid of fat in the right form. Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds are all good choices.
- eat everything as close to the form God made it as possible!
- drink high calorie, deceptive beverages like soda, artificially flavored juices, and “sports” drinks. (Moderate amounts of coffee and tea are ok.)
- eat refined sugar and refined flour. These foods are high in calories and low in nutrition. They cause inflammation as well as a host of other issues.
- eat carbohydrates alone, but combine them with a protein and even better, minimize your intake of carbohydrates (like pasta, bread, rice, and corn.)
- consume processed foods full of chemicals, additives, colors, and preservatives. These foods mess with your brain as well as your body!
We will continue to gain more tools for our toolbox in the areas of both what we eat and how we move that will enable us to obtain the health, wellness, and weight that we desire.
We are not here to lose anything! We are here to gain wellness!
Praise Him for His Provision!
Grace and Peace, Shalom!
When I was preparing for this first meeting I sat down on my couch with my 3 ring binder full of blank pages, a pen, and a question from the Lord on my mind: WHAT IS YOUR VISION? What is your greatest hope/desire for your health, wellness, and weight? Do yourself a great big favor - answer this question! You can do it right now, when you’re done reading this post, or sometime very soon. But take the time to do it. Answer the question.
The Lord also gave me 3 great pictures to share in our quest for true health, wellness, and weight loss (emotional, spiritual, and physical!) But I will wait to share those until the end of this post. First, Let me fill you in on all the wonderful sharing, discussing, encouraging, questioning, listening and learning that happened in my living room on Tuesday, August 8th, as 8 beautiful women gathered for the first meeting of The Weight of Glory!
This is something the Lord has put on multiple hearts for a while!
We all have gifts and we all have needs. And I think it is “for such a time as this” that the Lord has brought us all together.
This group is meeting “live” each week in a small group setting. We are recording our times together, and the edited transcript will be posted here each week so that those who are unable to attend in person can join in as well! And it’s great to have an archive to go back and really study what is put before us each week in our own space and time frame.
SO - Jesus, lead us in print as You do in our presence! It is through You that all things are possible and by You that all things consist! We give YOU the glory for the work You are doing in and through each of us and we praise You now for all that You will continue to do as we continue to trust You for our wellness - emotionally, spiritually, and physically! AMEN!
Our hosts for this course are:
Stacey Fitzgerald - Certified Nutritionist
Tamara Fitzgerald - Master Herbalist
Rachel Fitzgerald - Spiritual Facilitator
Yes! It’s a family affair! And the truth is that we are ALL one BIG (and hopefully, happy:) family!
God has made our individual bodies to be a picture of His Body, His Bride, His “Church” family. As no part of our individual body is self-sufficient, neither is any member of the collective Body of Yeshuah (Jesus the Christ.) Together we form a beautiful picture of a healthy, vibrant and lively body of believers, tied together in Him!
Let us see ourselves and each other the way the Lord sees us. We are beautiful in His sight! Let us not compare or ever feel less than or greater than any other. So many wonderful things happen when we come together in a vulnerable and honest way, seeking to connect and grow and encourage. So don’t let the enemy discourage you - and he will try! Instead, recognize that whatever he speaks to you is a lie, so flip it around and declare the truth!
We each have our unique stories and reasons for being at this group and for reading this blog. Many of us have had major physical challenges - broken bones, near death experiences, auto-immune diseases, cancer, transplant surgeries, degenerative disease like diabetes and high blood pressure, eating disorders, smoking and other addictions, excessive weight gain, infections, skin disorders, and more. And emotionally many of us have struggled with concepts of our identity, acceptance, love, broken relationships, loss of loved ones, self-worth, selfishness, confusion, facades of confidence, fear, control and the lack thereof.
Our desire, collectively and individually, is to walk in wholeness and wellness in all areas of our lives - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And yet we see that many of our emotional and physical sufferings continue despite our greatest efforts and prayers. Sometimes it’s for lack of knowledge. And in this group we hope to grow in our knowledge so that we can be faithful stewards of the lives and bodies with which we’ve been entrusted. Yet sometimes, though we pray and diligently work in all we know to do, we are left in some area or areas of struggle.
Be encouraged, my friends! Our struggles are working for us a much greater weight of glory!
Rachel encouraged us with what the Lord has been encouraging her - be fully responsible for your own health! And that doesn’t mean that you walk alone - it means that you choose to partner with others who can help you and that you can help as well! Isolation is often the strategy of the enemy. If he can get you alone, or feeling alone, he can pick you off with discouragement and despair all too easily!
If you’re struggling with negative self-talk (which can often be straight from the mouth of the enemy), a great tool is to ask yourself if you would say those words to someone you care about. If you wouldn’t say those negative things to the people you love and care about, don’t say them to yourself.
There is always a seed of truth in a lie. We are not all the same and we shouldn’t strive to look all the same. That is true. But the implication that it doesn’t matter how much you weigh, is not true because being significantly overweight is truly unhealthy. So instead of trying to look like some sort of clone of what the world tells you is good or ok (whether that is thin or thick) let us strive instead to be the best version of ourself, in every way that we’ve been created. In this we find our true identity which is only found in Christ. When we first find our identity and our worth and value in Him, we will be free to love, enjoy, and embrace ourselves right now and also free to joyfully pursue the best version of ourselves!
Worry - how needless is worry!? We have a Father in heaven who loves us and everything He does comes from His love for us. “For God so LOVED the world…” not God was so disappointed with the world, or so mad at the world, or so disgusted with the world. He loves us! Every one of us is looking for unconditional love and acceptance and that is exactly what we have from our God and Father! Can we in turn give ourselves that same unconditional love and acceptance? And can we extend that to others? First we must receive it from our Lord.
This scripture 2 Corinthians 4:16 was shared by one of our group members in regard to how while our outward man (our physical body) may be perishing, our inward man (our spirit) is being renewed day by day. Unknowingly she led us right into the scripture that gave me the name for our group! 2 Corinthians 4:17 says “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Isn’t the Holy Spirit cool how He orchestrates and confirms everything?!
It’s important that we address physical issues physically as well as spiritually! We are a united body - spirit, soul, and body.
Here are just a few great scriptures (Amplified Version) to encourage us spirt, soul and body:
Romans 12:1 & 2 “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies (presenting all your members and faculties) as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), (fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs), but be transformed (changed) by the (entire) renewal of your mind (by its new ideals and its new attitude), so that you may prove (for yourselves) what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect (in His sight for you).
Proverbs 23:1 - 3 “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider who and what are before you: For you will put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to desire. Be not desirous of his dainties, for it is deceitful food (offered with questionable motives).
Proverbs 11:1 “…a just weight is his delight.”
Deuteronomy 25:15 “But you shall have a perfect and just weight and a perfect and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and (that your body) may keep well, even as (I know) your soul keeps well and prospers.”
1 Timothy 4:8 “For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come.”
Hebrews 12:1 & 2 “…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.”
2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory (beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!)
God wants to GIVE us the weight of His glory! That is a great and awesome value! He wants to bless us with more of Himself, not take anything of value from us. The only thing He wants to take from us is the sin that so easily entangles us! That is good news, friends! So we have nothing to fear when we are in His hands and we have everything good to gain. We give up control of ourselves (which is really a false sense of security) and give full control to a loving and good God. That’s a great exchange!
We may never see our perfect health, perfect bodies, or even our complete physically healing for which we earnestly pray for here on earth. But we will receive the weight of His glory, our spiritual well-being and complete and totally restoration forever. And the good that He intends is SO much greater than the harm the enemy intends. Sometimes the greatest gifts on earth come through our deepest pain, loss and struggles. We can’t always change our situations but we can let the Holy Spirit change our hearts and use our hearts and our situations to bring others into His family. As Rachel shared, sometimes we must be prepared for the worst while we believe for the best.
Suffering is part of this life experience. Yet we have the great promise in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that our “light and momentary” suffering is working for us a much greater “weight of glory!” Amen! It is working for us! We are not wisked away the moment we receive our salvation. We are here on this earth to be prepared as His Bride and to be the salt and light in the world until He returns for us. When we suffer, we are comforted by the Holy Spirit so that we can be a comfort to others who also suffer.
And yet we do not need to walk in this world as “poor me” martyrs. We are victorious through Christ on all accounts! When He died on the cross He said, “It is finished.” The word He spoke in greek was “tetelestai” which is a financial word meaning “paid in full.” Our debt of sin is cancelled, paid for in full! We are free from the law of sin and death! Satan no longer has any legal right to us whatsoever! Amen!
SO let us walk in newness of life, even in our light and momentary suffering.
But what about when our suffering seems anything but “light” or “momentary”? Is the Lord being insensitive to our human condition? No. He is instead speaking the truth to our hearts that what we are experiencing is truly light and momentary when compared to what He is doing in us through it, and what He has prepared for us for eternity!
A “good life” is not a smooth, straight line. Imagine you saw a straight line on a heart monitor? That means you’re dead! We want to LIVE for Him! And a good heart monitor reading has a lot of peaks and valleys. Often we aren’t necessarily afraid of the peaks and valleys, but we only want the peaks and valleys that we are comfortable with, not the ones that come as surprise and seem to be interruptions to our otherwise perfect line! But can we really trust Him with the hills and the valleys? Is He the same God in the valley that He is on the mountaintop? YES.
Let’s take a look at the 3 illustrations God led me to - two from scripture, and one from my front porch!
I need you to read a little so grab your bible and first read the story of a paralytic man who received a miraculous healing in John 5:1 - 15.
Did you read it? :) Great! Because Jesus asked that man a very important question that I think He is asking all of us:
DO YOU WANT TO BE WELL?
In the text you may notice that the man didn’t actually answer that question. Instead he shared his excuses/reasons why he wasn’t able to get well. Which leads us to a few more questions:
WHAT EXCUSES/REASONS DO YOU HAVE? Don’t blow this question off! It’s important because some of our excuses and reasons are valid! And if we don’t take a good and honest look at them we won’t be able to discern which ones are real and which ones are faulty chains holding us back from our healing. Jesus didn’t discuss the man’s excuses with him. He gave him something specific to do - “pick up your mat and walk!”
WHAT IS HE CALLING YOU TO DO? Has He given you something specific that just won’t leave your head and heart? It may be something very small or very big, but He is most likely speaking something specific for you to do. And this man did pick up his mat and walk - he was healed!
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? Are you going to pick up “your mat and walk?” Can you trust Him with whatever that simple step is that He’s calling you to take? He won’t give you more or less than you can handle so pick it up and walk!
Now this man was healed physically, but it doesn’t seem that the healing went past his body and into his heart. As you can expect, this healing caused a great stir - greater than the stirring of the water! And the Pharisee’s were mad - not about the healing it seems, but about the fact that this man was carrying his mat on the sabbath! That was against the rules! And when they asked him why he was doing so he said, “The man who healed me told me to!” Blame! If we want our healing to go beyond our bodies and into our hearts we have a few things we can learn from this man:
BE DONE WITH BLAME. Take responsibility for your decision to obey Jesus!
DON’T PLAY DUMB. When they asked him who the man was, he said he didn’t know! Are you kidding me?! A man healed you from being paralyzed and you don’t know who it was?! We must know Jesus, our Healer, and declare His name loud and confidently!
STOP SINNING. The man said he didn’t know Jesus, yet Jesus searched him out and found him. And when He found him He warned him saying, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” This wasn’t a threat or a curse. It was a compassionate declaration of the truth that this man needed to CHANGE. And unless he did change, he would end up worse off than he was before he was healed.
DON’T BE OFFENDED. Here is the kicker. When Jesus speaks the truth to your heart, listen. Remember that He loves you and only wants the best for you. This man was offended and went right to the Pharisees to tell on Jesus. He went the opposite direction of Jesus. Let’s follow Jesus instead.
DO YOU WANT TO BE WELL? Do you?!
Let’s look at another man who did answer that question and received a miraculous healing. Read Mark 10:46-52…
Bartimaeus was blind. Jesus was passing by with his disciples and a great crowd.
HE HEARD that it was Jesus passing by and HE CALLED OUT saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
HE RECOGNIZED JESUS AUTHORITY and ASKED FOR MERCY. He knew he was a sinner in need of salvation and he knew that Jesus was His healing.
HE WAS NOT DETERRED BY THE NAYSAYERS but instead HE GOT LOUDER! He wasn’t going to let anyone stop him from crying out to Jesus for what he knew he needed. And in fact, when others tried to discourage him it only made him more determined.
HE RESPONDED JOYFULLY, QUICKLY, AND PASSIONATELY. When Jesus heard the man calling out to Him, he called for the man to come to Him. And this blind man threw off his cloak, jumped up and RAN to Jesus! Now that’s someone who knows who and what he wants!
HE TOLD JESUS WHAT HE WANTED. Jesus asked him “the question” - What do you want? Bartimaeus said, “I want to see!” He wanted to be well!
HE WAS HEALED! Jesus said, “Go your way, your faith has healed you.” And he immediately received his sight! Wait…did you catch what Jesus said? He gave the man a very important choice when he said “go your way” and he affirmed that the man had received his sight because of his faith - his belief in Jesus and in His desire and ability to give him his sight.
HE FOLLOWED JESUS! When Jesus said “go your way” this man chose to align his way with Jesus’ way!
Notice the BIG differences between these two men! While both received a miraculous healing in their bodies, only one man chose the greater gift of an intimate relationship with Jesus himself.
This has been a BIG first day for all us as well! So let me close with one last analogy that the Lord spoke to me when I went out on my porch this morning to water my 3 hanging ferns:
I used to go through 2-3 sets of plants each summer. I wanted them to thrive, and I knew what they needed - water. But I just couldn’t seem to remember to water them consistently! I would do great for several days in a row and feel so proud of myself and my efforts! Then I would forget. And it only took a few days without water to ruin all my previous effort. There was almost no room for error! The hanging baskets we had didn’t hold the water, so most of it ran right through the soil and out the bottom. It felt like an endless and worthless cycle. I would go to great lengths to try to rescue them - take them down and soak them for days in the yard. But to no avail. They never thrived. The tools I had were not working and so my efforts seemed in vain. I knew I needed some sort of plastic lining or pan to keep the water from running out. But I couldn’t find it. I tried several homemade ideas. I stuck a plastic plate under each plant and even lined the basket with wax paper to try to keep the water from running out. It only helped a little. I needed a better tool. Then I found it! One day in Lowe’s I saw a stack of thin plastic containers that were designed to hold the plant so that you could pour the water into them and the plant could suck up as much water as it needed all day, with leftovers! There would be some room for error now! Still I had to make the effort. I had to buy the containers (they were quite inexpensive), take them home, take the plants down, put the potted plant into the container, put them back into the hanging baskets, and hang them back up. And that’s not all - I still had to water them! But now I had the right tool to make my efforts work. Because the tool worked well, it did give me some room for error. And because I wasn’t discouraged when I fell short, and was encouraged by the positive results I was seeing in my plants, I started to actually enjoy watering them. And I started to remember! It has become a happy habit to care for my ferns and I can tell you that they are thriving!
Hopefully you can see the parallel of my efforts with the ferns to our journey of health, wellness, and weight loss. God longs for us to thrive! We are that important and valuable to Him.
In this group we will discover tools that work. We will need to put forth effort, but our effort won’t be in vain. We will have room for error. We will minimize discouragement and maximize positive results. We will partner with each other through encouragement, knowledge, and accountability.
We will thrive - physically, emotionally, and spiritually!
DO YOU WANT TO BE WELL? I do! And if you’ve already put the effort in to read this whole blog, I’m thinking you do too!
Let’s get on our way, and follow Jesus!