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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Food and Your Thought Life

Our eating habits reflect our thoughts. When all of our thoughts are consumed by food, we need to change our thoughts; but how? Our hearts influence our behavior, emotions and even our health.

During this chapter, Fitzgerald digs deeper into the third step of the change process and what the Bible has to say about our thoughts.

We often think of head knowledge and heart knowledge being two different things. We think that we can believe something in our heads, but that our hearts could feel differently. The Scriptures, however, show that there is no distinction between the heart and the head...
"Out of the heart come evil thoughts." Matthew 15:19

"The Word of God is living and active... it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
According to the Bible, we have an inner person and an outer person. The inner person is composed of thoughts, desires, intentions, and will. The outer person includes our appearance, actions, words and deeds.

Our thoughts and emotions are completely influenced by each other. Our behavior is then influenced by our thoughts and emotions as well. She gives an example of this cycle...
  • Your emotions influence your thoughts (thoughts --> emotions)
Thinking that "What happened to me isn't fair!" leads to feelings of anger, depression, and fear
I'm going to punish myself by starving, or comfort myself by eating

  • Our thoughts then are influenced by our emotions (emotions --> thoughts)
Depressed feelings lead to thinking that nothing will ever change
I'm so depressed, that I need to eat

  • Your physical health influences your emotions (thoughts and emotions --> physical health)
Thinking that things aren't fair and feeling angry leads to ulcers
I'm so angry that I'm going to starve, binge, or purge
  • Thoughts and emotions influence your physical health (physical health --> thoughts and emotions)
Being in poor health leads to thinking that my life is awful and I feel depressed
Health problems result from bingeing, starving and purging, which leads to
sinful thoughts and emotions

The 3rd step to godly change is this: Seek diligently to change our mind and be conformed to God's thinking, especially in the area of our eating habits

God gives us specific instructions about how we are to think in Philippians 4:8...
"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute; if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, let your mind dwell on these things."

Whenever a thought comes into our minds, we must judge it with these standards. We must continually ask ourselves if our thoughts reflect these things so that we can train our minds. If we think sinful thoughts for too long, we will follow through with action. But when we train our minds to think of things that reflect Philippians 4:8, our actions will be changed.

Our thoughts are sometimes so habitual that we don't even know we're thinking of them, which makes them hard to change. These thoughts can be changed, however. The first step is to ask God to make you aware of your sinful thoughts through the power of the Holy Spirit. Another way to change your habitual thoughts is to work backwards. Once you realize that you are eating in a sinful manner, go back and see what thoughts led to that behavior.

We can change our thought patterns by dwelling on godly thoughts. When we find ourselves going down a road of sinful thoughts, we can ask God to help us stop and redirect our thoughts to the things of Philippians 4:8. When our thoughts are godly, our attitudes are changed, others around us are changed, and we glorify God.

There will be times that we will stumble, but we can take heart because God is always on our side and he will continually work to renew our thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 states that, "You need to bring all of your thoughts under submission to Christ's lordship."

We can also change our thought patterns when we soak in God's word. Memorize His word and recite it all day long. We can stop feeding our mouths with food and instead feed our hunger with God's word. Man does not live by bread alone, but the very word of God (Matthew 4:4).

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
Elyse Fitzpatrick
Copyright 1999

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finding Power in Truth

Last night I posted on facebook:

Whatever we are facing in this moment we can choose to grab on to the truth. Let everything else go. Let go of the anxiety- fear- uncertainty- and frustration. Park our mind with what is true. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," (John 8:32).

What truth can do for us is really amazing.

This past weekend as we were wrapping up at the E-Women conference in Pensacola my friend Beth, Holly and I were talking about where the team would be meeting for dinner that night. Suddenly, a very frantic arena staff member came over and told us there was an emergency and we were needed right away.

A lady attending the conference had just been told her two grandchildren had been killed in a fire that day.

We rushed over to find a lady surrounded by her friends. She was sobbing to the point she could hardly breathe. She'd just been with her grandbabbies ages 8 and 4. They'd spent spring break with her last week. She'd held them, rocked them, stroked their hair, and kissed them all over their faces. How could they be gone?

It was too much for her brain to process.

The EMT stepped aside so we could hold her hands and pray over her. At first I stumbled my way through requests for Jesus to pour His most tender mercies into this situation. I prayed for comfort and the reassurance that these children were being held by Jesus in this moment.

It was so hard. My mommy heart ached so deeply for this woman. My eyes welled up with tears refusing to stay contained.

As Beth took her turn to pray I noticed something miraculous. Every time we said, "Jesus" her body calmed, her crying slowed, her breathing stopped sounding so panicked.

So, when it was my turn to pray again I just said His name over and over and over. This sweet grandmother joined me, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."

As we said, "Jesus" over and over- truth flooded my mind.

I remembered what I'd written last week about death... Death is only a temporary separation. We will be reunited again.

I remembered this truth from 2 Samuel 12... When David's infant child died, David confidently said, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (v. 23). David knew he would see his child again--not just a nameless, faceless soul without an identity, but his very child. He would know him, hold him, kiss him, and the separation death caused would be over.

The only thing that seemed to calm my devastated sister was the name of Jesus and His truth.

What a powerful reminder to us all.

In John 17 verses 6-17 we read some of Jesus' last words before He died. Four times in these verses He reminds us of the gift of God's Word.

Hold on to His Word sweet sister. Speak His truth and the name of Jesus out loud in the midst of whatever you are facing today. Our souls were formed to
recognize andrespond to the calm assurance of Jesus and truth.

Never has this been more clear to me.

Please pray for my friend and her family.

And remember in the midst of whatever you face today...

We can choose to grab on to the truth. Let everything else go. Park our mind with what is true. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," (John 8:32).

Monday, April 19, 2010

YouTube Playlist...

We use songs a lot during True Reflections. When you are listening to the words of a song, your mind escapes to the images and stories being told. Your heart is free to feel the emotions in the song. Songs take real life experiences and connect them with God's heart so that they can touch yours.

Because songs are so powerful, I love to fill my mind with ones that make me reflect on Christ and my identity in Him. One of my YouTube playlists is specifically geared towards just that. There are times when it's hard to put my identity in Him. Or sometimes I'm just confused by things of this world. At those times, I turn to these songs and I am reminded of God's Word and His truths.

There are many other wonderful songs out there addressing God's great love for us and who we are in Him. But these are some of my current favorites.

Listen to these songs and soak in God's truth for you today...
that He loves you and He wants you to find everything you need in Him; nothing and no one else.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Making Godly Food Choices

This chapter highlights the second step towards godly change.

Step 2 says,
"Become convinced that God's methods for disciplined eating are right and begin practicing them"

While the Bible doesn't appear to speak much of eating habits, the Bible does teach us principles that apply to so many different aspects of life. In respect to eating, the Bible speaks a lot about self control and self discipline.

The Results of the Spirit's Work...
In Galatians, Paul speaks of the fruits of the Spirit. When the Spirit is at work in our lives one of the results is self control. In 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 he speaks more about his struggle against the desires of his body. In this scripture he states,
Everyone who competes in the games exercises self control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way , as not without aim; I box in such a way; as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
We can't earn God's love or His grace by living a self disciplined life. There is nothing that we can do to pay for the debt of our sin. When we become saved through His sacrifice, He works to sanctify and change us. We are enabled to change through the work of the Holy Spirit as we choose to put off our old habits and put on new godly habits through the practice of self control.
The Need for Self Control...
Even Peter speaks of the need for self control in 2 Peter 1:5-7. He says that Christians must strive to grow in moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. He says that these things are necessary to be useful and fruitful for the kingdom of God.
Guidelines for Self Controlled Eating...
To determine whether or not your eating displays self control, Fitzpatrick outlines 12 questions to ask of yourself. As you consider these questions, ask God to show you how your eating can be more pleasing to Him.
To remember these points, you can remember the acrostic, D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E-D Eating.
12 Questions...
Doubt - Do I doubt that I can eat this food without eating? * If you believe that it is sinful to eat something, you should abstain from eating it because faithless eating is sinful
Idolatry - Does eating this food demonstrate a heart for independence to do whatever I want or a heart longing for pleasure? * If you are eating for reasons that pull you away from the desires God has for you, then you are serving another god
Stumble - If I eat this, will it cause a weaker Christian to stumble? * If we love each other enough we will avoid foods that would cause someone else to sin
Coveting - Am I eating this simply because I saw someone else with it and I'm coveting it? *TV commercials often cause us to covet foods that we don't need
Inroad - If I eat this will it create an inroad for sin? *If you eat something that causes you to desire more and more, you should abstain from it completely.
Praise - Can I eat this food with thanks and gratitude? *If you can't thank God for what you are about to eat, you shouldn't eat it at all
Life - Would eating this food be harmful to my health in any way? *This can be different for every person, but each of us must eat, what for us is a healthy diet that shows care for the bodies God has given us
Illustrate - Am I modeling good habits for others and encouraging them to be self disciplined? *It's important to witness to others with the habit of self controlled eating
No - Can I say no to this food even if I can do so without sinning? *We must keep our bodily desires in submission to our hearts desires
Emotions - Does the desire to eat this flow from a heart of anger, fear frustration or depression? *If you eat for these reasons, sin ends up mastering over you
Distract - Will preparing this food distract me from something better that God has for me to do? *Maybe you need to be ministering to someone instead of worrying about cooking an elaborate meal
Enslaved - Does this food bring me under any kind of bondage? *If you feel a need for a particular food, you should abstain from it so that it does not master over you

All of these things can be summed up with one question...
"With my eating and drinking, am I glorifying God?" 1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, April 5, 2010

A New Label

Today I was thinking about labels. Shirt labels aren't permanent. You can cut them out if they're itchy. You can scratch out the words if you don't like the size or maker. You can even put a new label in to make it new.

I was thinking about shirt labels today because today I was faced with my own label.

I checked in at the doctor's office for a routine checkup today. I stated my name and the receptionist pulled my chart. As she opened it, there it was; a label. The top of my chart clearly stated, "eating disorder." I've talked about eating disorders, read books about them, and contemplated them extensively over the past few years. This was not a word that I've removed from my vocabulary.

As I kept reading and rereading those words in my chart, I felt so many emotions. But the longer I stood there the happier I became. I realized that my shock and disbelief at reading those words was because I didn't label myself that way anymore. An eating disorder no longer defines who I am. Feeling that label placed on me again felt foreign because that label has been removed from my life.

A smile came over my face. It was an exciting moment for me. It wasn't just words coming from my mouth, but a feeling in my heart that I no longer viewed myself as the eating disorder that once enslaved me.

I left the doctor's office with a thankful, joyful heart. God removed the tag of my life that said eating disorder. He crossed it out with black sharpie and changed the label to say, "Mine." He took His label and permanently attached it to me, so that no one and nothing can ever remove it.

Whenever I lose my way or make a mistake, I know that I can simply look at my new label. I am HIS.

Does the label of your life say that you are "His"? If it doesn't, God loves to change labels.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Chapter 7

Chapter 7: A Right Perspective of Food

In this chapter, Fitzgerald more closely explores the first step towards godly change from Chapter 6. Step one stated that we must "become convinced that our present method of eating is sinful and cease from it."

Too many of us don't see our eating habits, at times, as sinful. Our society has developed a skewed idea of what sin is. God's truth is found in the Bible and we have a God who hates sin. For any of us to truly change, we must acknowledge that overeating, starving or purguing is sin. These behaviors are not merely bad habits, but sin habits. These behaviors are as much sin as drunkenness, adultery, or murder. We must begin to hate these behaviors because they are sinful and take us away from the heart of God, not simply because we are embarressed or ashamed by them.

Anything can be sinful if we allow it to enslave us. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 6:12-13,
"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food; but God will do away with both of them."
When we allow ourselves to practice extreme dietary habits, such as starvation, bingeing, purging or overeating of any kind, our heart becomes enslaved to those habits. If our bodies will not last for eternity, should we be enslaved to them in this present life? If food has power over you, it has become an idol in your life. The first commandment states, "you shall have no other gods before me."

There is no particular food that is considered sinful. You must first determine the motives of your heart as you eat to know if your habits are sinful. To help you determine whether or not your eating is sinful think about these questions...

When you eat, are you being enslaved to your appetite?
Will this food bring me into bondage?
Am I eating for wrongful desires and pleasures? or control?
Will eating this send me into a binge? or starvation?

When we compromise our consciences, we are sinning. What may be sinful for you may not be for someone else. Faithless eating is sinful.

Fitzgerald then takes a look at gluttony and it's biblical meaning. When the Bible talks about gluttony it is referring to someone who is excessive in his eating habits. The sin of gluttony isn't merely overeating, but refers to someone who is only living for himself; wanting whatever we want, in whatever quantity, whenever we want it. The habit of living in slavery to excess and self indulgence is gluttony.

The Old Testament addresses gluttony in Deuterononmy 21:18-20 and again in Proverbs 23:20-21. In both of these passages the sin of gluttony was accompanied by sins of self indulgence, laziness, drunkenness, stubbornness and rebelliousness.

In Luke 7:34 we see people accusing Jesus of being a glutton because he ate and drank freely with sinners. Yet, Jesus knew no sin. He ate and drank without giving in to gluttony or drunkenness.

We see Jesus eating at many points in the Bible because food itself is not a bad thing. In 1 Timothy Paul states that food is created by God to be enjoyed for the health of our bodies. He says, "Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." When we are thankful for the food we eat and ask God's blessings for our body, food is a good thing. However, we are being sinful in our eating if we are not thankful for the food we have and give no regard to God's provision of it.

"As long as what you eat dominates your affections, thoughts and behavior - even if you are eating small portions, starving yourself, or insisting on eating only "healthy" foods, your eating is gluttonous because your life is focused on food."

The measure of gluttony is your heart. You can be ruled by your appetite whether you are thin or overweight.

God gives us the ability to break old habits and learn new ones. Old habits can be comfortable and hard to break. But, the power of the Holy Spirit can change and transform us, as well as our ungodly habits.

Paul discusses this struggle with desiring to keep our old habits in conjunction with our desire to serve God. Romans 6:12-13 says,
"Do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness of God."
In these verses Paul is saying that we should no longer use our body (hands, mouth, eyes) for sin. When we use our body for sinful purposes we are giving Satan the power to hurt us. When you resist Satan by fighting your temptations, your sin habit will become less and less. We can move from sinful habits to godly habits because of God's grace. Romans 6:14 says that "sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace."

The first step in changing your sin habits to godly habits is to stop the sin patterns in your life. When you recognize that you are struggling or about to sin, say to yourself, "sin will not master over me." God is good and powerful. He has the power to change you.

Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
Elyse Fitzpatrick
Copyright 1999

Friday, April 2, 2010

Changed Lives

With God's strength in recovery, we all have a story to tell of how God takes us from broken to redeemed.

Here is a story from a True Reflections participant, Jackie, about her changed life...

"Over the past year, God has used people from Daybreak to be his hands, feet, and voice in my life in ways that have made a huge impact on my life. Last Spring, I was falling quickly into a relapse of my eating disorder, which I have struggled with for seven years. I smiled constantly, but inwardly felt alone and terrified. When I did not even have the strength to ask God to rescue me, I received cards and emails from Daybreak prayer team members with prayers and song lyrics that encouraged me and reminded me that God was still with me and others were praying for me.

Though I was struggling, I had a sense that God was walking alongside me, showing me where to place each step as I fought against the monster in my head. I decided to enter a treatment program over the summer to help me beat the eating disorder, but was again terrified of the idea of giving up this huge part of myself. I remember driving to my intake appointment in Philadelphia and receiving a call from someone, who had called me several times before to pray for me. She prayed for me over the phone, and I felt so wrapped in God’s love which gave me the courage to proceed to the appointment and face my biggest fears. At a time when I did not feel like I deserved to bother anyone with my problems or that anyone should have to care about me, it meant more than I can put into words to have someone call and pray over me. I couldn’t believe that I had found a church that would actually care that much about people.

Coming back to school in the fall, I had made incredible progress, but knew I needed support to continue in recovery. I read Bible verses about being cherished by God, but had trouble believing that I could ever really be precious to Him. I could know it in my mind, but struggled to accept my value in Him.

God provided wonderful support in His perfect timing through the True Reflections group. The leaders helped us to discover and soak in our identities in Christ. The freedom and honesty was amazing. I could be completely real with these other women and with God. The most amazing thing is that, through seeking God’s truth about my identity and worth, I started slowly to discover it and very slowly to accept and claim it.

We talked about letting go of fear and control and instead trusting God with our bodies, our schedules, and our relationships. I participated in True Reflections in the Fall and the Spring, which allowed me to look back on my journal entries from the Fall and see how much I have grown. Many of those entries are prayers asking God to help me accept what he was telling me. I am so excited to see how he is answering my prayers. I used to believe I was bad, awkward, undeserving, andunbeautiful. Now I honestly believe that I might be a good creation who sometimes makes mistakes, but who has some unique gifts and special opportunities to touch others’ lives as our leaders touched mine. I am still undeserving of God’s love, but I can accept it anyway, and that is so cool! It amazes me that others are willing to listen to me, love me, and pray over me. The many cards and emails I received from the Daybreak care team remind me of this. I feel surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and absolutely blessed. Thank you so much for letting God use you in a powerful way in my life."