Jan 19 2011

Made to Crave - Day 13

Day 13: The Tower of Impossibility

Based on Chapter 2 of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

  

Thought for the Day: “Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 24:14)

 

Standing before a decadent dessert table piled high like a tempting tower was a daunting task. I was glowing with the first flush of success with my healthy eating plan, but now I found myself at the blow-out wedding of the season. A mere wedding cake was not enough panache for this soiree. Instead, a full buffet of chocolate truffles accompanied the groom’s cake. It was beautiful. And I wanted one of each flavor!

 

Previously, when I faced the calorie-overload opportunities so common in our culture, I felt overwhelmed and defeated. The tower of truffles seemed like a tower of impossibility. But this time my perspective was different. I had experienced a shift and tasted a new style of hope.

 

The particular healthy-eating plan that I had chosen was full of wisdom about the realities of food’s interaction with my body. In addition, I had put some healthy boundaries in place, surrounded myself with a like-minded friend, and replaced old lies in my mind with new truths. This new foundation began to slowly build, one day at a time. Healthy choices piled on top of each other day after day. Then, one day I woke up for the first time feeling incredibly empowered. I still did the typical routine with the scale—no clothes and no ponytail holder. My body was slowly changing because I had lost some weight. But the most thrilling feeling was knowing that my heart was changing.

 

Hope over despair tasted better than any food I’d ever given up. I had sought God’s perspective using prayer, boundaries, and His fulfillment as my source. I realized nothing was worth compromising the path of victory I was on—not even the tower of truffles!

 

I paved my victory path by imagining every good choice I made was like settling another brick into place: bricks of prayer, wise choices, closeness to God, closeness to others, confidence, energy, and focus. Each and every time I conquered a temptation by making a healthy choice, I became stronger and stronger. And, brick by brick, prayer by prayer, good choice by good choice, my hope soared. I’m making positive physical changes, but even more importantly, I’m making wise spiritual changes. As Proverbs 24:14 reminds me, walking in spiritual wisdom secures my hope that this healthy journey will not end in defeat:

 

Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

 

 

As you face similar temptations, I can’t promise that there won’t be any more tears. There will be. And I can’t promise that sweets will no longer appeal to you. They may. I can’t even promise that the number on the scale will magically drop as quickly as you wish. It probably won’t. But gaining spiritual wisdom along the way will set your feet on a sure path of victory. Press on, my friend!

 

 

For more information about Lysa TerKeurst and her book Made to Crave, please visit: www.MadetoCrave.org

Jan 18 2011

Made to Crave - Day 12

Day 12: But I Never Feel Full

Based on Chapter 11 of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

  

Thought for the Day: “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.” (Ephesians 3:17–19)

  

For years, I walked around with a little heart-shaped cup in my soul, holding it out to people or things trying to find fulfillment. Some of us hold out our heart-shaped cup and expect a husband to love us in ways that rights our wrongs and fills up our insecurities. Sometimes, we expect our kids to be successful so that we look good and feel validated by their accomplishments. Or, we hope that a successful career will confirm that we are a valuable human being.

 

At times, I have asked the impossible of all of these. But my consistent “friend” of choice over the years has been food. Imagine my little heart-shaped cup as a candy dish, using sweets and snacks to soothe my emotions.

 

However, if we are going to replace destructive cycles with lasting changes in our lives, then we have to empty ourselves of the lie that other people or things can ever fill our hearts. Instead, we have to deliberately fill up on God’s truths and stand secure in His love. Here are some examples of how we can do that:

Old lie: “I am such a failure when it comes to my diet.”

New truth: “I am not a failure. I am a lavishly loved child of God. Part of my right as a child of God is to operate in a power beyond myself. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to me. So it is possible for me to use the self-control I’ve been given.”

Old lie: “I need these Oreos!”

New truth: “The thought that these Oreos will fill me is a lie. They will taste good for just the few minutes it will take to eat them. Then that hollow feeling of guilt will rush in as soon as the chocolate high dissipates. If I truly need a snack right now, I am capable of choosing a healthier option.”

Old lie: “God seems far away and French fries are right around the corner at the drive-thru.”

New truth: “French fries don’t love me. And the only lasting thing I get from them is the cholesterol and cellulite they inevitably leave behind, which will just compound my frustration. God’s love is here in this moment and in many more to come. His love is true and carries with it only positive residual effects.”

 

Examine how you can replace the lies and rationalizations in your mind with the truth of God’s love. Experience the power of renewing your mind and learning that food was never meant to fulfill the deepest places of your heart. And, as Ephesians 3:19 reminds, may you understand that the only way to true satisfaction is to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

 

 

For more information about Lysa TerKeurst and her book Made to Crave, please visit: www.MadetoCrave.org

Jan 17 2011

Made to Crave - Day 11

Day 11: It’s Not Fair!

Based on Chapter 10 of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

  

Thought for the Day: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.… That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

 

A huge piece of delicious looking cake was delivered to our table. It was my favorite … it was our anniversary … and it was free! But I was at the beginning of my healthy eating adventure, which excluded sugary confections. So I graciously offered it to my husband. But inside a different dialogue was playing in my mind, “It’s not fair!”

 

I think this is one of the biggest tricks Satan plays to get us to give in to temptation. Saying “It’s not fair!” has caused many a girl to toss aside what she knows is right for the temporary thrill of whatever it is that does seem fair. We complain, “It’s not fair that I gain weight so easily when everyone else seems to eat whatever they want and stay trim.”

 

Now, realize that the dessert itself is not the problem. But if one piece of dessert leads to two and that leads to other compromises, which leads to wrecking our whole healthy eating plan, then the downward spiral reflects how temptation traps us in so many areas of life. I’ve experienced this vicious cycle myself, and I’m here to give you hope that it is possible to conquer it.

 

My pity party was a clue that I was relying on my own strength—a strength that has failed me before and will fail me again. So, when justifications swirl in my mind—“It’s a special day … with a special person … what’s the harm in sampling?”—I know I have to grab hold of God’s strength. The only way I’ve found to do that is to invite His power into the situation by mentally reciting truths such as, “I’m more than a conqueror,” “With God all things are possible,” or “Let the peace of God reign in your heart.”

 

This battle reminds me of the time I counseled a dating couple about setting boundaries in their physical relationship. They were looking forward to the best that marital sex had to offer, but struggled with maintaining purity in the face of immediate and temporary passion. They were tempted with the thought, “It’s not fair that we can’t have sex before we’re married when we’re so in love. Everyone else does.” My advice to them was to think beyond the moment, to say out loud, “This feels good now, but how will I feel about this in the morning? The truth is, compromising my commitments for the sake of physical pleasure is not God’s best for me.”

 

The same advice powerfully applies to our area of struggle. As we recite truth, God’s power can fill the gap of our weakness. I don’t know what you might be struggling with today, but I can assure you that God is just and fair. There is a good reason why we must face our temptations. The struggle to say “no” may be painful in the moment, but the process is working out something magnificent within us.

 

 

For more information about Lysa TerKeurst and her book Made to Crave, please visit: www.MadetoCrave.org

Jan 14 2011

Made to Crave - Day 10

Day 10: But, Exercise Makes Me Want to Cry

Based on Chapter 9 of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

  

Thought for the Day: I fully realize that my body as a temple may not be God’s most grand dwelling. However, I want to lift up to the Lord my willingness to dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself. This one act un-divides my heart and reminds me of the deeper purposes for moving my body.

 

Before I met my exercise-loving husband, I believed the only reason a person should sweat was if he or she were lying by the pool. But when I encountered Art, I temporarily changed my attitude. I was smitten. Oh, how I was motivated when I discovered that running was a fantastic way to spend more time with this man. However, on the first day of our honeymoon, when he woke up cheerfully and initiated an early-morning run, I thought, “Gracious, why would I want to do that? We’re married now.” And I didn’t run again for many years.

 

 

Sad, but true. Psalm 86:11–12 explains my quandary:

 

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart … I will glorify your name forever.

 

 

An undivided heart. My heart was divided between exercising for another person’s reasons or finding my own motivation. I’ve found that when it comes to my body, which 1 Corinthians 6:19 calls “a temple of the Holy Spirit,” that I can’t live with divided loyalties. I can either be loyal to honoring the Lord, my husband, and my body, or be loyal to my cravings, desires, and excuses for not exercising.

 

An Old Testament story in Haggai struck me with the problem that a divided heart creates before God. The Israelites were charged to take care of God’s physical temple by rebuilding the actual structure. But just like most of us, they struggled with a heart divided by concerns about the everyday needs of their city and homes. And so God’s people neglected building the temple for ten years. Each year, something else seemed to be more important.

 

Likewise, I found that my struggle to exercise got delayed by other things that seemed to be higher priorities. How could I find the time between raising kids, running a home, paying the bills, watching TV, and chatting on the phone with friends?

 

Just as God promised the Israelites blessings for obedience, he warned them of consequences for not rebuilding the temple as He desired. And while we may not feel the effects of ignoring our health immediately, our choices will eventually catch up to us.

 

I finally admitted that I needed to make time, just like the Israelites, to care for my temple—my body. So I began exercising consistently with a friend and discovered many motivating blessings. While I can’t say I’m always eager to jump out of bed and start my day in a sweat, I’m always refreshed with the alertness that comes once I’ve started. In addition, my friend and I find time to process life, contemplate decisions, and talk about what God is teaching us. I love the feeling of accomplishment each day. Even if everything else in my day falls apart, I can smile and say, “Yes, but with the Lord’s help, I ran this morning.”

 

I fully realize that my temple may not be God’s most grand dwelling. However, I want to lift up my willingness to the Lord and dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself. This one act un-divides my heart and reminds me of the deeper purposes for moving my body.

 

How might you start rebuilding your temple today? Maybe running is not your thing. No problem. I say the best exercise for you is the kind you’ll do.

 

 

For more information about Lysa TerKeurst and her book Made to Crave, please visit: www.MadetoCrave.org