Saturday, February 28, 2009

The TRUTH will set you FREE

The truth will set you free. We've all heard that verse, "If you hold to My teaching, then you truly are my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32 NIV)

But from what is the truth setting us free? All of you know that I am a Beth Moore fan (simply because she oozes love for Jesus). In her book, Praying God's Word in the chapter on "Overcoming Deception", Beth makes a list of lies we often believe when we are held in a stronghold. There are certainly more than we can list, but here are a few examples she cites:

  • I can never be victorious over this compulsion. I've had it too long.
  • I can't help the mess I'm in. I'm caught, and there's nothing I can do about it.
  • It may be an addiction (my word), but I really need it to get by.
  • I am absolutely worthless; nothing but a failure.
  • I'm in control here. This is not controlling me.
  • This isn't doing me any harm. I can handle it.
  • After all I've been through, I deserve this.
  • There is nothing wrong with this relationship. People just don't understand us.
  • God may work for some people, but he just doesn't work for me.
  • I'll just have to wait until heaven to get over this. Real victory is impossible here on earth.
  • God cannot possibly fill the void in my life; I need something more.
  • It's hopeless. I AM hopeless.

I'm sure each one of us can see ourselves in one of these lies. Sadly enough, I must admit I have probably believed the majority of them at one time or another.

For ten looonnng years of my life, I believed a monster. This monster sucked the life and energy out of me each waking moment of my life. This particular monster's more popular name is Anorexia & Bulimia. It ruled my belief system. Although I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour at seven years old, and had lived for the Lord at one time or another - when this deception took root in my heart, it took OVER my mind and eventually, my entire being.

I literally BELIEVED that the skinnier I could be, the more lovable and accepted I was. I BELIEVED that if I could rock a swimsuit without having a tummy bulge or love handles, my life would be great. However, if you have ever seen a skeleton in a's just not that hot. But that is just one example of how twisted my mind had become. I also BELIEVED that no matter how messy my life was, if I was thin, all was well. I also believed that if there was nothing else I could control, at least I could control my weight. Whew....HUGE lie....because the more "in control" of my weight I was, the more "out of control" my life became. This lying monster grew so out of the control that it landed me in treatment: not once or twice, but three times. Every time I got out of treatment, I was convinced that I was healed. Things would always be great for the first 1-2 weeks after my release. But one major thing was wrong. As surely as the day is long, I would slowly allow the Truth to be eclipsed by the Lies.

However, four years ago on December 27th, I entered treatment for the last time. The "trick" this time around was that I was so desperate, so absolutely helpless, that I cried out to God with all the breath that was in me. I knew that unless my mind was completely transformed, I would live the rest of my life in utter defeat. Although the "renewing of my mind" was by far not an easy thing, it led to victory. Faith works! It sounds so silly to say that, but when I got to the point in my life where I acknowledged my way was not the best way......He took me and changed me. Freed me from the pit of despair. Gave me hope. He is my only hope of glory.

I realize that not everyone has such a messed up mind; and not everyone goes to the extreme in everything they undertake (praise the Lord). But through my struggles, I have learned that everyone is susceptible to captivity. No one is immune to deception. does one go about "renewing their mind"? One thing that must be made's not a one time transplant. It's an active, continuous, regular practice of taking doses of the truth. One will never live a victorious life without the Word of God. How could you ever recognize the lies if you don't know the TRUTH? You simply cannot. And if we don't believe that; then I would dare to say that we are deceived. One excuse I hear so often (and have used myself) is that "I don't have time." Oh, but we do have time. We have time to spend in God's Word; we do have time to spend in prayer.....we have TIME for a relationship with God. The problem is that we don't TAKE the time. We choose to spend our time on what we believe is "worth it". Please hear me when I say, God is so worth it. God is so worth it.

Going back to the beginning of this post, John 8:31-32 says, "If you hold to my teaching, then you truly are my disciples. Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." If we are going to "hold to Jesus' teaching," don't we need to KNOW Jesus' teaching? Again....He is SO worth it. He will rock your world if you let Him.

The thankful recipient of His Grace,


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Quiet Time

I haven't posted a blog in over a week now, and I'm antsy to get back on here!!
I just have to say - I'm so hopeful in Jesus today. For the past few weeks, I have up-and-down-stressed-to-the-max-and-mostly-cranky. With the wonderful state of the economy these days, coupled with a boss that I love but who drives me insane, I have been a hot mess.
I wake up in the morning, even half dreading my quiet time. Which is REALLY ridiculous, since God is the only One who can tie my head on straight.
Have you ever struggled with the discipline of regularly spending time with the Lord? It's amazing to me that out of all our daily activities, we have a hard time "making time" for God! Most mornings, I drag out of bed at 5:55am (when Larry brings me my morning coffee....yes, he is the sweetest husband in the world) -- and by the time I'm fully coherent -- I don't have time to really listen to God. I generally mumble my prayers half-heartedly, read a few verses, and then jump in the shower. For the next forty days, I am making time with Jesus my priority. I am setting my alarm at 5:10am - and I will meet with God. I can't wait to see what He teaches me!
I'll keep you posted!!
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scripture Memory Round 4, etc....

I love structure; therefore I really love scheduled scripture memorization.....complete with the spiral notecard-notebook. Does that make me nerdy? Oh well, by the grace of God, I am what I am!
So my new verse is Psalms 73:23-28. I decided to commit this verse to memory as I was reviewing my notes from bible study last week.
The author begins the psalm by pouring his heart out to God about the many "successes" of the man who does not fear God. As He is being honest with God about these bitter feelings - his heart softens, and he ends up praising God for His faithfulness to him and for His invaluable worth.
This struck a chord in my spirit because I often have so many things I "just HAVE to HAVE."
I was in the mall with Kathryn on Friday night, and I saw so many new shoes that I just "HAVE to HAVE!" I also saw the new Spring fashion lines with all the cute little skirts and new tops. My mind just began buzzing with all the new purchases I HAVE to MAKE. On Saturday morning I was walking through our house and started to nit-pick at everything, noting everything that I "need" i.e. buffet table for the dining room, new pictures for the gameroom; "something" for the entry way; and while I was at it - I obsessed over the fact the whole house could use a major dusting/vacumming overhaul. Talk about some retail therapy that backfired! I was totally overwhelmed. Now, I exaggerate a bit; I'm truly not a full-fledged shopaholic (although we did see the movie last night, Confessions of a Shopaholic.....and frankly - the outfits and handbags were oh-so-awesome).
What I'm trying to say is that I LOVE THINGS. They make me feel better; at times, they make me feel "worthy"; and new things can often turn a bad day into a good one.
The psalmist in Psalms 73 is reminding himself that God is his portion; God is enough. God is what gets him up in the morning. God is the One who delights his heart. God is the one who sustains him when there is evil all around him. God alone is his deepest desire.
I want a heart like that. I long to have a heart that loves the Lord more than a new pair of strappy high heels. Along with the psalmist, I want to say:

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold those who are far from you will perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works."

Psalms 73:23-28 ESV

Amen, Amen, and Amen.
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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Scripture Memory Round 3

This is a beautiful picture of my bible study friends. Last night we completed A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place -- a bible study written by Beth Moore. It was a 10-week study that we started in the fall (but due to the holidays and general life interruptions...we just finished the last session yesterday). And oh my! If you have not taken that study - it's incredibly eye-opening! It's quite intensive and sometimes overwhelming, but truly, truly, God has opened my eyes to the cohesiveness of scripture. From Genesis to Revelation - it all fits together! I realize that is a pretty basic generalization, but although I have studied the bible my entire life - I have never seen the correlation of the tabernacle in the old testament to JESUS. It's awesome! This study has fueled my faith and deepened my hunger to study His Word.
Okay - I'm a little late in posting my memory verse for the 3rd round of scripture memory - BUT, I already have it memorized so no big deal, right? :)

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank YOU for your unconditional love, for your Word that is so PERFECT. Continue to fuel the fire in my heart; give me an undying passion to know You more and more. In the Mighty, Holy, Perfect name of Jesus. Amen.
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Adam & Eve

As many parents of 3-years olds do - we have a bedtime story ritual every night at around 8:15pm. This time is often very enlightening, not just for Luke, but for Larry and myself. Luke is at the most fun age where he says random things, has bewildering insights, and absorbs everything around him with a sponge-like brain.
On Wednesday night of this past week, we were going through our normal bedtime routine and reading a story out of his toddler's bible. Larry and I used to actually read stories to him, but lately Luke insists on telling the story himself (making sure to point out every tiny detail, as if he's teaching us something we have yet to discover). On this particular night, we were flipping the pages in his bible - and he stopped at the story of Adam & Eve. He looked at me in all seriousness, and said, "Mommy, do you know what happened here? Do you know why that girl is crying?" (In the picture, Adam and Eve are standing near "the tree" and Eve has bowed her head in tears). I asked him to tell me what had happened. He responded by saying "Well, God told her not to touch that tree so that it wouldn't hurt her. And she didn't listen to him and she touched it and now she is crying because it hurt her - just like God said."
Now, I have never told Luke the story of Adam & Eve; therefore I'm assuming he heard it in Sunday school. And obviously, he didn't get the story exactly right......BUT, the overall concept was correct.
Ever since that night, Luke's version of the story has echoed in my mind. How often am I convinced that "I know better" than God? How many times have I deliberately chosen my way over His - because I didn't believe His way was any better? And THEN - look at all the times I have suffered the consequences of my sinful choices? I may not see the consequences clearly every time I ignore God's direction - but you can bet I missed out on sweet fellowship with Him. God gives us boundaries because He knows what is BEST for us. He knows that sin hurts: it hurt Eve when she didn't listen - and it hurts us when we refuse to listen.
God spoke to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah saying, "....listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." (Isaiah 55:2b NIV)
If we choose to turn our ears off to Jesus - then we miss the blessing of obedience he longs to give us......and that blessing of obedience far outweighs the momentary pleasure of disobedience we experienced.
So Luke was right in a way: Eve cried because she didn't listen to God - and it hurt her.
I speak encouragement to my own heart this afternoon as I sit here and type this next verse:
"Hear O my people, and I will warn you -
if you would but listen to me, O Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not bow down to an alien god.
I AM the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."
Psalms 81:8-10 (NIV)
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