Temptation can have purpose…

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Sometimes it’s easier to start something than stop something.

Working out five days a week is do-able. I like to exercise and the only thing I really miss out on is a few minutes of extra sleep or time watching TV. I like the good feeling exercise gives me, so when it comes to healthy habits, a good work out is my friend.

However, diet is a different story. I like what I eat. I like sweets, carbs, and Mexican food. So telling me to stop feels like a serious infringement on my freedom. Sugar, for me, resembles the apple for Eve. I know it’s bad for me, hence I want it all the more.

I have cursed this love of sugar. I have called it everything but lovely. And I must admit somewhere deeply hidden in my heart was anger at God for creating me in a way that thinks I need all things bread and sugar.

I must admit that when I began the Made to Crave Online Bible Study it was more out of obligation. I am on the Online Bible Study leadership team, so I should do the study, right? I decided I would step up my workouts, re-read the book, and even answer the study questions, but I wasn’t even going to worry about the food. I resigned myself to the thought that this is a hopeless battle.

And because I am doing two Bible studies at one time, I am also studying Wendy Blight’s new book “Living So That”.

I didn’t expect much correlation between the two studies, but it seems God had other plans. When I read this out of Wendy’s study, it shook me to the core…

God didn’t give us the law to set us up for failure; rather, He gave us the law to protect us from failure. God’s standards would exist whether or not we ever knew about them. But in His mercy God informed us of His law and has shown us the only way to fulfill it—through faith in Jesus Christ. ~ Wendy Blight, Living So That

Could it be that God didn’t set me up for failure by allowing me to overindulge in and develop a love relationship with all things sugar? Maybe, just maybe, He knew this relationship, although idolatrous and sinful, would eventually be the catalyst for an even deeper relationship with Him.

I guess I viewed sin, all sin, as screw ups that just happened. I didn’t really understand why we had to struggle with sin. I heard people say, and have even said myself, that sin could push us closer to God – but honestly I thought of it as a bunch of Christian-ease trying to explain away our struggles and battles with evil.

But reading the verses from Wendy’s study and her words changed things for me.

God really is sovereign.

He really does have a plan.

A plan that is so much more than a rescue effort to pull us out of hell and into heaven. It’s a plan that involves allowing sin at times because if it wasn’t for sin in the world how else would we have the motivation to seek a relationship with Him? Not a robotic forced relationship, but a real – chosen – relationship.

I don’t have to resent my love for sugar allowing it to put distance between me and Jesus.

Instead I can choose to move deeper into my unhealthy relationship with sweets or closer into a relationship with Jesus. And although a relationship with the chocolate cupcake in my kitchen may be enticing, Jesus offers so much more.

I can choose Him.

I can STOP doing things that push me away from Him.

Not because He is my back up plan, but because with Him temptations can have purpose. Purpose that propels my heart and mind in His direction. And that is reason enough for me to choose to TRY and make a change.

Torn doesn’t always mean broken…

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Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:51-53 NKJV)

I love sweatpants. I mean LOVE them. So you can imagine the drama when I discovered a tear down the seam of my brand new pair. I don’t just “wear” sweatpants. I live in them. A tear is heartbreaking. Gut wrenching. It means an instant trip to the store. ( I don’t sew) I must have new ones.

But tears are not always bad. I have a pair of perfectly distressed boyfriend cut jeans with a lovely tear. I adore my jeans this way. They were made this way. The tear makes them cute!

Now I realize that comparing a tear in my jeans to the tear in the veil of the temple is lacking. My jeans can’t hold candle to the curtain that divided sin from the Holy of Holies. However, things like tears in my jeans remind me of what Christ has done.

My Savior created a tear in the temple veil, a split in the rocks, an opening of the graves so that insignificant me, in my wholly jeans and torn sweatpants, might be saved.

I can look at a tear in the fabric and remember even though life has torn me to shreds…torn doesn’t always mean broken. Only through the tear in my covering can perfect love sink in. Maybe, though painful, at times the tears are even manufactured by my maker…just so my prayers might be answered for more of Him and less of me.

Tears, though revealing, don’t always mean broken.

Big fat lies and the truths that make us believe them…

crossI had an awful experience at fifteen. An event I hid for years. Funny how hiding an experience doesn’t stop it from influencing our thoughts and beliefs. A lie took up residence in my heart and mind and it took years of hard work to uproot it. Maybe you have believed this lie yourself.

The Lie – I am unloveable

The truth that verifies the lie

Our lives are filled with experiences that seem to verify the lies we believe. In this case – unloveable-ness. We get dumped, someone abandons us, friends come and go, our spouse cheats on us, someone dies, we feel lonely, sometimes it seems like our prayers hit the ceiling and God doesn’t care. If we look for them, we can come up with a million events to verify what we might  believe – that we are unloveable.

The truth that refutes the lie

…and our lives are filled with good things, although we may neglect noticing them. We have successful relationships, sometimes we feel like God does hear us, and there are people who care about us. But these things seem small tokens of happenstance in the shadows of the lie we believe.

The ultimate truth

…but when there seems to be more truth verifying our lies than evidence to the contrary…we must lean on the ultimate truth – scripture.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

It’s in our nature to look for evidence that supports what we already believe. It doesn’t matter what lie we tell ourselves…we can usually find life-based/circumstantial truth to support it.

What we must decide is if our circumstances and life experiences will scream louder than the truth of God’s Word.

Will we believe His Word at face value, or try to verify the lies that grind against everything He made us to be – freedom filled daughters of the King.

When we dwell on unchanging truth rather than circumstantial evidence to the contrary, our view of truth begins to change.

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I choose to refuse….

How do we get to that point?

The point where we consume sugary treats in place of healthy alternatives? Where we skip the gym and relish the couch?

One pound became five…five became ten…ten became twenty…

They certainly aren’t places we intentionally went or hoped we would go. But there we are and getting out seems impossible.

I guess that’s why Made to Crave is such a wonderful book. A book worth reading and re-reading. Because we all have pits and vices. Things we look towards to satisfy our needs. And more often than not, there is something that rivals with God for our favored attention.

Approval addictions, shopping addictions, internet addictions – you name it – the vast majority of us have something we wish we could stop craving – and crave God in its place. But instead of running to Him we often run from him. Embarrassed about our fleshy behavior.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! We can choose to refuse!

Refuse to allow our hearts to be marred by sinful behavior!
Refuse to sink any further down in the pit!
Refuse to allow embarrassment and shame to keep us from getting help!
Refuse to believe that your sin is more powerful than God’s grace and forgiveness!

Yes sweet sisters it is time to choose to refuse! Refuse to allow sinful behavior or destructive patterns another day of stronghold in your life.

And you don’t have to make these choices for change on your own! You do it with God! He is the one with the power!

And if you choose to sign up for the Proverbs 31 Made to Crave Online Bible study you can choose to refuse with 20,000 other women fighting right alongside you!

Do you need this Bible Study to get free from sin, or to crave God more than you crave anything else? NO! But it sure can help! And I am a sister who needs some help and support! So if you do to, click here to learn more about the study and how to sign up. I would love to have you join us! Let’s be a sisterhood, daughters on a mission for Christ, craving God and refusing to let ANYTHING else fill the gap of His glory in our lives!

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Me chillin’ Made to Crave style with author Lysa Terkeurst and P31 OBS Director Melissa Taylor. Good times 🙂

Tied onto Jesus…

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“This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.” So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist.” Jeremiah 13:1-2

Scripture mentioning a belt and shopping…could there be a more enticing section of scripture? Not for me! The very mention of a wardrobe accessory, and my attention is captured.

There is some debate over what this linen belt was. Some mention it as more of an undergarment type item, other commentaries such as the one written by Charles Spurgeon, write of the belt being something worn over the clothing – more decorative and functional at keeping the pants up. And that’s how I like to think of it, decorative and functional – the perfect accessory. But what is even more fascinating is what the Lord asks Jeremiah to do with this belt after he purchases it.

The first thing He asks him to do is wear it and not wash it. Then the Lord asks Him to travel a good distance (commentary indicates 260-ish miles) and place the belt in the crevice of a rock, which he does, only for the Lord to ask Him to go back and retrieve the belt which was now “ruined and completely useless” (another 260ish mile journey).

Talk about obedience! In my terms, this means go spend money on a nice accessory, exhaust yourself hiding it under a rock, then take it out a few days later and look at how ruined it is. If this happened to me, I assure you I would be screaming, “God, are you CRAZY!?!?” And perhaps Jeremiah did, but there is no indication that he was annoyed at all. God asked him to do it, and he did it. And then after Jeremiah’s obedience, God spoke to him…

…‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless! For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the Lord, ‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.’
Jeremiah 13:9-11

Reading this passage of scripture has led me to one resounding conclusion…I must tie myself on to God in obedience and never let go.

Why? Because He chose me. He chose us. He actually wants to accessorize with His people! He binds us to him with praise and honor, yet so many times we do not listen. We untie ourselves and scoot under the rock of someone or something else. We look to other things, other people, to fulfill our needs stubbornly believing we know what is best for us. What relief we could feel if we would just realize being tied to Jesus is the most beautiful, most perfect and protected place to be.

So sweet sisters, don’t just think of yourself as decorated with Jesus love, realize that He also ties you around His waist as His beautiful daughter, loving every moment that you choose to tie yourself close to Him.

Treasure journal…

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Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke. 2:19

“I love you”. This may be the most priceless phrase we have ever heard. Be it from our parents, siblings, boyfriend, husband, or even friend – we all love to hear I love you. It’s validating and reminds us that we have something inside us that’s loveable. Perhaps we store up I love you’s in the recesses of our hearts and minds. Stockpiling them for the day when words aren’t so kind and circumstances leave us questioning our worth and value. But Mary, Jesus’ mother, kept a different sort of stockpile. A place of treasure in her heart where she stored the mysteries of Jesus.

The things the shepherds said about Him in Luke 2. The words and actions carried out by Jesus himself in Luke 5. The Bible tells us that she treasured these things up. She pondered them and thought about them. Not only did she save up the I love you’s and validations from Jesus, but the mysteries. The things she knew were important but may not have fully understood.

I wonder what the possibilities would be if we choose to do the same? To keep a variable treasure record of the spiritual things in our lives that leave us wondering…wanting more…but a bit confused…as if staring through a murky window…

In the past I have kept a blessings journal to record of the things I am thankful for. I have kept prayer journals with prayers and answers to those prayers. Yet I haven’t kept a record or even considered treasuring up the things in the Bible that leave me a bit confused. The passages of scripture that stand out clearly, but something about them is too scratchy for me to ponder on a deeper level. The things Jesus speaks into my heart that I would rather ignore than treasure up. What if I, what if we, choose to keep a treasure book, perhaps even a treasure map so to speak, of these things?

Might it lead us into deeper water than we have dared to swim towards in the past? What if we treasured up such mysteries of The Lord, the Gospel, and choose to look back and ponder on them every now and again?

Because I believe Mary was on to something. She knew her son would have to die. Something nearly impossible for a mother to wrap her brain around in spite of the ultimate good it would bring. She needed to take in all these things she didn’t quite understand so in the end, she could somewhat understand the mystery of His love while still standing in the shadow of His death and resurrection.

If we choose to also treasure up such mysteries and nuances of the Gospel and His love, might we better understand not only the lovely things in our lives, but the unlovely things that somehow manage to bear fruit?

Starting today and for at least the next year I plan on keeping a treasure journal. A book of the verses, phrases, happenings and things I know The Lord is calling to my attention, even when I don’t fully understand. And I can’t wait to see the treasures these small tidbits of information lead me to as I choose to be more intentional about choosing to notice and record these things.