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.