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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Chapter 2

The Change God Desires In You...

Have you ever wondered if God really cares how much you weigh or how you look?

Fitzgerland reminds us that the only way for us to truly know God's thoughts are on this topic is to look into Scripture. The Bible is the only standard that we can use to know who God is and what he wants from us...
"All scripture is inspired by God and profitale for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

God wants to change us. He wants to accomplish change in us that is something much more meaningful, penetrating and permanent than shrinking a few dress sizes. He wants to change our hearts so that we will become more and more like Jesus. Paul says this...

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren." Romans 8:28-29

Let's look at this part of the passage,
"He causes all things to work together for good"...

God is causing everything that happens to you to work toward the goal He has in mind for you. His goal for you is to be conformed to the image of His Son. He wants you to be like Jesus Christ. All of your struggles are simply tools in the master's hands, which he uses to shape and mold you. While it's hard to go through struggles and trials, He is slowly changing you into a beautiful reflection of Himself through all of those experiences. He wants you to be a mirror that reflects the beauty of Jesus. The change God desires is initially inward, coming from your heart.

Every day we are in a battle of faith and unbelief. Looking at our own lives, we often wonder if we will ever change to His image. How could a sinner like me ever be made into the likeness of Christ? Even though our experiences of sin and failure lead us to disbelief, we have His Word. We can have confidence in His promises and we can trust His word.

Good things are those which cause us to become conformed to the image of The Son. Anything that causes us to become more like Him is good. Don't settle for temporary outward change because God has eternal change in mind for you.

The more like Jesus we become, the more we glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. We can't enjoy the presence of God if our lives are filled with anxiety, fear or self indulgence.

Put your whole trust in Him. Trust means more than just believing. It means that you put your confidence in Him; you rely completely on Him. We can trust God because of His attributes and character. God is eternal; he has no beginning or end; He fills all time. God fills all space; you will never be somewhere that you are outside the reach of His power and presence. God is holy; He has perfect freedom from evil and also absolute moral perfection. God is perfect in wisdom and knowledge; He knows best in every circumstance. God alone is the fountain of true joy and goodness.

Every good and perfect thing comes from Him, including eternal happiness. It is because God is good that He knows our happiness will only come from making him the center of our lives. God is good and he wants more for us than temporal happiness, He wants eternal riches. God is working toward the ultimate goal of changing you to be like Him so that He can be glorified, and to make you fit for Heaven.

If you put your whole trust in God, he can grow and change you into a beautiful reflection of His glory. Rest in Him, believe what He says and follow his direction in every area of your life.

Our primary focus then is inward, not outward. God is interested in changing you first from the inside. You please your Heavenly Father when your heart trusts, finds rest and fully rejoices in His love.

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
Elyse Fitzgerald
Copyright 1999

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

End Fat Talk

How many times have you fat talked in your life?

Fat talk sounds like this, "I'm too fat. I will start a diet tomorrow. My butt is too big in these jeans. I'll like myself when I lose 20 more pounds." That's fat talk.

I recently came across this video about "fat talk."

Take a peek...

God gives us strength in ALL things... even ending fat talk.

Ask God for the strength to love your body and end fat talk.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lessons from Lent: Strength In HIM

I am a runner again and I love it.

I have always considered myself a runner, but having 2 children changes things a little bit. Nearly 3 years ago I delivered my first child, a baby boy. 10 months ago I gave birth to my second child, a beautiful baby girl. During this time running was infrequent and sporadic.

But now I'm back in the groove again. In the wee hours of the morning, I put on my Asics and pound on my treadmill before my kiddos rise and shine. I have recently found this morning time not only to be invigorating physically, but also spiritually renewing.

Typically, I turn on the TV and space out while I run. But as I mentioned before, I gave up TV for Lent. God was telling me to turn it off so that I could hear from Him more clearly in those quiet moments. In addition to giving up TV while I run, I have been praying through a prayer journal I keep on my treadmill and an inspiration board on the wall in front of me. For me, running has been transformed into a time for prayer, listening and reflection.

The other morning I planned to run two 6 minute miles. (A bit quicker than usual.) It seemed hard at first, but got easier. I kept going. As I was running I was praying from my inspiration board, Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me," I started to feel stronger and faster. I've read that verse thousands of times before, but it started to take on a new, special meaning.

I never used to believe that I could run a 6 minute mile. Why didn't I believe it? Because I didn't believe in me. It wasn't that I didn't believe my body was strong enough. It was that for so many years I didn't believe in me or my God-given abilities. But Scripture says that God created me. I am perfectly and wonderfully made. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I was made in His image. Yet, in the past, I doubted the strength and abilities of my own body.

You see, 10 months ago I didn't believe in me to accomplish this goal of a 6 minute mile. Sure, I'm stubborn and persistent. If I have a goal in mind that I really want to accomplish, I can out of sheer pig-headedness! But I haven't always believed in myself through Him. I never want to think too highly of myself; to be arrogant or prideful. While it's right to be humble, not when we forfeit strength and abilities that God grants us. Not that I should ever be prideful or boast in myself, but I can believe in myself when God is leading and guiding my steps.

God was revealing to me that He can give me strength in ALL things. In that moment I put my strength in Him and he gave me physical strength. But that wasn't the lesson He was trying to teach me. He was telling me that providing physical strength is just the tip of the iceberg. He's capable of doing so much more through me. He can do so much more in me and through me if I only I will trust Him and ask Him to be my strength. Day after day, minute by minute.

I finished my run in record speed. I felt like an Olympian with a gold medal in my hands!

I felt wonderful. I felt strong, empowered, and bold because of His strength in me!

Life isn't about running. It's not about our bodies. It's not about our possessions. It's not about our weight or clothes or appearance. Life is about what He can do in us and through us... in ALL that we do.

God can give YOU the strength to do all things for His glory. Simply ask and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Observing Lent

I've never been one to stick with anything for Lent. Sure, a few times I tried to give up sweets for Lent like the rest of America, but I always caved after 2 days or so! With the right motivation, giving up sweets, or any other sacrifice, is good. It's about the motivation of our hearts. My motives were usually selfish and not focused on the Easter holiday .

Lent should be a time for self reflection. A reminder of the great sacrifice that Christ made for us. A time to be immersed in His presence to remember Who He is and who we are in Him.

This year, I'm challenging myself to get serious about sacrifice and really give something up. But, I'm forgetting about food sacrifices all-together. It just doesn't work for me. So, this year I'm giving up TV. I have 2 small children that are busy... very busy. At the end of the day I love to curl on the couch with a comfy blanket, a hot cup of tea, and just veg out. It feels good to turn my brain off and just sit. But I feel God calling me to a season of being more deliberate about what I'm feeding my mind. So, goodbye Jack. Oh, I love 24 dearly, but Jack and I will have to catch up on reruns.

In place of my dearly beloved, mind-numbing TV watching I plan to fill that time with reading about Him.

The focus of Lent is often on giving something up. Instead my focus will be on what I'm gaining. I plan to reconnect and gain a deeper, closer relationship with my Creator.

Anyone else observing Lent this year? What are you doing?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Pursuit...

Why is it that a sense of victory is often followed by feelings of defeat?

The times in my life that I've felt the most victorious over ED, have always been followed by valleys of defeat. In those times I have questioned myself. Was I really trusting God for my strength in recovery? Certainly there have been times that I was recovering on my own strength. Those times have always led to relapse and a turbulent downfall. I've recently discovered that these valleys are places for warfare. In the valley, God wants to test and refine us like gold. He wants to change us to be more like Him. But also in the valley is our enemy who is waiting patiently to destroy us. He sees the pain and struggle in a valley and he pursues.

Satan is no stranger to our every weakness. The devil is a lion, waiting and watching our every move (1 Peter 5:8). He knows when we give God control of ED and he is threatened. The closer we draw to God and the more we trust Him, the more Satan pursues us. He pushes in on our weaknesses until we doubt the very strength we have been given from God. Satan doesn't give up or give in easily. He attacks right at the moment that we are most vulnerable. When we feel confident in recovery, he desires to shake our foundation.

But God is right there pursuing as well. Relentlessly he pursues our hearts. He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5), especially in the valleys. He doesn't want a single one of his sheep to be lost. Like a shepherd, He comes back for us day after day. Jesus knows the temptations of Satan. Remember that He was also tested in the wilderness? And He was victorious over Satan, death and hell. So with His strength we can put aside the lies that the devil speaks to us in our valleys.

Satan's pursuit of us says...
Recovery is just too hard. You can't do it.
Try again tomorrow. Next week. Next month. You're not worth it.
Why bother? Who are you?
You will fail, you always fail. Just stop trying so hard.

God's pursuit looks so much different. He says...
Recovery is hard, but I'm right next to you. I'll be here every step of the way. I'll put people in your life to coach you. I will give you my Spirit to guide you. I am never far away, I'm right here. You can try again today, tomorrow and next month. When you are weary, come to me and I will give you strength. Don't give up. I love so much that I made you in my perfect image. Because of that, you are good enough. You are worthy. You are blameless in my eyes. You are LOVED. Now go do it - one minute at a time. When the enemy pursues, know that I'm here pursuing you too, relentlessly. His plans are for your harm, but mine are for your good.

When you hear the voice of Satan speaking to you, call him out for who he is. Speak the words outloud... NO - I won't listen to you or to the lies you are telling me. My God is mighty to save and he has already saved me from my sins and defeated you. Today I choose to defeat you as well by casting your words aside and trusting in the Truth that comes from my Savior.

Romans 5:3-5 states "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." James 1:2 states, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various tribulation."

We can rejoice in the valleys because in them we can know that we are being renewed. Paul clearly states that this testing produces in us qualities that make us more like Jesus. On the other side of the valley we can boast in what God has done in us and through us (Romans 15:17). Satan may pursue, but he doesn't need to be victorious over us. In every instance that Satan pursues, we have a choice to make. We can let him reign victorious or we can give God the glory through our life. We can choose today to say NO to his lies and YES to God's redeeming grace. We can look in the mirror and say, you no longer define me because I am being redeemed and made into a perfect reflection of hope, grace, and love from the One who bought me.

Periods of suffering are hard and painful. But isn't it in those times that we learn the most? We choose to spank our children because we know that the temporary pain will produce a crop of righteousness. When disciplining my son, I always tell him, I love you too much to let you disobey and make bad choices. My epiphany tonight as I lay here in bed, is that God is saying the same thing to me. God isn't just someone to tell others about, but he is a God for me.
I hear him calling out to me saying,

"I love you too much to let you drift through life without trials. Without suffering you will have no faith. Without faith you will not have hope. And without hope, you won't have a life worth living. In me there is hope and a life with purpose. I will test you and refine you so that you will see more of me in you. You are safe in my hands. You are my child and I love you. I love you too much. Just trust me."

So to Satan I say, "Bring it on! Keep trying to trip me up so that Christ can be made famous through me!"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love To Eat, Hate To Eat: Chapter 1

Welcome to the first chapter review of the book,
Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

From now until May, I'll be reviewing and posting chapter highlights every week. My life is pretty busy with 2 little ones running around, so I can't commit to a certain day of the week to post, but I can commit to post sometime during the week. You can check the google calendar on the righthand side to see corresponding dates for which chapter I'll be reading. Join along in your own copy of the book or simply enjoy the cliff notes!

Here we go...

Introduction: There is Hope for YOU

Once caught in the common battle of food and weight, Elyse shares her journey of change. Change doesn't come from reading a book or willing yourself to change. Change comes only from the power of God in our lives. We can have hope because God gives us His Holy Spirit to direct and guide us as we change. Scripture tells us that the word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). We can have hope because God is faithful to his promises in Scripture (Isaiah 55:11). We can have hope because Jesus Christ paved a way for us to be free from sin through his death on the cross.

For years she was consumed by weight and food, but God began to change her heart to truly embrace the words in Luke 12:23 - "Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes." During her journey, she learned to eat and view her body in ways that glorify and reflect God to others. She also learned that while her weight can be a reflection of the heart, it is not the most important thing in life.

Chapter 1: From Heartache to A Sense of Purpose

Elyse shares her background with weight and food in this chapter. As a child, teenager, and adult she struggled with being overweight. She lived many years with humiliation and embarrassment of her weight struggles. She recalls many prayers to God asking to be thin and "normal." But slowly God began a work in her life. She began to understand that God had something better in mind for her than merely looking good on the outside. God was working in her life to use her struggles for good. He had a plan for her life. No longer was she living in self-indulgence, fear, worry and pride - but God was using her to produce fruit that encouraged and comforted others.

She refers to her struggles as living in tyranny of food and eating. Elyse defines tyranny as oppression and enslavement. Tyranny means that we're dominated by thoughts and habits that torment and overpower us. Minute after minute. Day after day. In our battle, we wonder "What we will eat next? How much do I weigh today? What will others think of me? Why can't I be free of this? Why can't I be normal?" We agonize over answers. We try and fail over and over again. We wonder where God is. "Why isn't He helping me?"

Think about it:
Are you are living in tyranny of food?
Do you spend your day thinking about what you've eaten?
What you will eat? Or how much you weigh?

In the following chapters of this book, Fitzpatrick states that she will address practical guidelines for growth in godliness in eating.

Growing in your relationship with God requires us to answer tough questions. Do you believe that God designed you on purpose and for a purpose? How do you answer these questions?...

What am I doing here?
What is the purpose of my life?

As a Christian, you can know that God DOES have a specific purpose for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 states, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Remember that God is faithful to His promises. In this Scripture He promises that He has plans for each of us... and that his plans are GOOD.

"Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

The 2 primary purposes of everyones life is to 1) bring glory to God and 2) enjoy Him forever. Let's start with #1. Everything we do should bring glory to God. Our attitude in everything should cause others to see God in us. God can even use our eating habits to show Christ to others. When we allow God to change us, others will see Christ at work in our lives. Back to #2. God doesn't want us to view Him as a list of rules and regulations. Our God wants us to bask in the great wonder of His love and the magnificence of His Creation. His love covers over all of us so that your heart can be satisfied (Psalm 73).

Challenge yourself to Change:
Sit down. Kick your shoes off.
Say, "WHEW - GOD LOVES ME and with HIS power I CAN change."

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
Elyse Fitzpatrick
Copyright 1999

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

A Valentine from God

Day Seven Ministries

I was at my lowest the year I found out who I really am. In fact, it was this month, the month of valentines and messages of love. I never really cared about those before, my self-esteem being so strong (I thought), but that year had been one of stripping: my identity, my value, my roles, (to name just a few) had all been stripped from me and a message of love- a message to bolster me and give me back some identity, some value, something to do-was so desperately needed!

I was not even seeking these things, this message. Yes, I was going through the motions of asking, but I didn’t expect an answer, certainly not the answer I received. All I knew was this: I no longer knew who I was or who I was to be. Into that void-where who I had been, who I thought I was, who I had made myself into was stripped- He spoke. He told me who I really am.

“You are a pleasure and treasure, a prize worth fighting for.”

I wish I could take the time to share all the ways that this message impacted me (both immediately and in the years since then) but that would take too long. More importantly, telling you how this message impacted me could lead you to miss the reality of God’s love: it is there for even you! Not simply in the “God so loved the world” truth, but in the “God so loves YOU” truth - a truth so vastly universal that we diminish the very personal intent and miss what is spoken to our own wounded hearts. Instead, I will attempt to give guidance to each of you as perhaps you seek to know the truth of God’s love, or know even more of His love.

Just when I was experiencing messages that said, “you are no longer a pleasure to me”, and hearing from the person closest to me, “I no longer treasure you”, God spoke His eternal truth to me. God’s word (and please, for the moment, can we drop the pretense of “God’s word” being only the Bible, and allow His word to mean what it is always meant to be-a personal message of love?) is affirming. God’s message negates the harsh reality of human appraisal and measures each of us in the eternal.

Can you take the time to listen to the messages you hear? If they are not affirming and eternal they are not from God! Ask Him! He longs to have you hear, take the time to listen.

Just when I was being told, “You are no longer worth it”, God told me I was worth fighting for. Not just a “prize” to mark off as “gotten”, but one worth fighting for - for keeps, for always. God’s message of love did not seem to fit me. It wasn’t meant to- not that day or even now, years later. God’s message of love is something to grow into, and each day, while being covered by that love, allows us to grow even stronger, even larger, ever seeking to know the depth and heights and breadth of that love. God’s message of love is all encompassing.

For years, I rightly treasured this message as my own. Yes, I shared it with some (a message of love of this magnitude cannot possibly be contained) but God allowed me to be nurtured by this love; to be healed and strengthened by this love. I grew in this love. Especially when the human evaluations hit hard, I could be sustained. Even when the experience of every day seemed to erode my heart, I was strengthened. And as I grew in this love, I was reminded to share this message of love with others.

I told my daughters…and they posted the phrase as a status online.

I told my sisters…and they shared in my new, deeper, joy.

I told others, and now I am telling you. God’s word, while deeply personal to all of us, is also universal.

Read these verses and ask God to speak to you through them. Seek His heart as you seek to be known. Believe Him when He tells you, “you are a pleasure and treasure, a prize worth fighting for.”

Ex. 19:3, Dt. 7:6, 14:2, Hebrews 10:32, Ps. 135:4, 147:10-11, Jer.31:20, Eph. 1:3-5

Allow His word to affirm you, give perspective to time and space. Give in to His words of love that grow you into who He intends you to be. And, when the time is right, share with someone how His love has changed you, and how His love longs to live with everyone.

Kelly Serafini, Day Seven Ministries

copyright 2010

Comments and questions regarding the content of this study are welcome AND INVITED! Responses will be offered from Day Seven volunteers or staff. Feel free to forward enLIGHTen to friends .....if you have received enLIGHTen as a forward, and would like to be added to our email list, please contact us at: enLIGHTen@dayseven.net

Day Seven Ministries' mission is to bring light to individuals and families walking in the darkness of sexual and relational conflicts by providing Christ-centered counseling, education, and support www.dayseven.net