Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Little Piggy...

While the kids were taking a bath, Carysse continued to pour water on herself and Christian. As she did this, she would say, "Wash Christian back, wash Christian arm, wash Carysse leg, wash Carysse feet", and so forth. Then I heard her say, "Wash Carysse piggies." I looked up and said, "Piggies?" She looked at me with a look on her face like, "Don't you know what my piggies are!" I then asked, "Where are your piggies, Carysse?" Without any hesitation, she pointed to her toes. I then said, "Those are your piggies?" She confidently nodded her head.

As you can tell, I have sung one too many nursery rhymes to my kids. "This Little Piggy" was one of Carysse's favorites; now my 2 yr old thinks her toes are called piggies. Looks like we'll have a lesson on body parts tomorrow :-).

Carysse's 4 month old "piggies"

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Stopped Playing the Blame Game!

Today's topic of the freedom journey could be a subcategory of "Seeing your sin as God sees it and Confessing your sin to God".

My sin of gluttony was not a result of my childhood or my family. It’s not because I’m black, I’m a woman, or that I’m American. It’s not because I’m a pastor’s wife or that I’m a mom to a child with multiple disabilities. I can go on & on with my personal descriptions, titles, & issues. No matter how long my list would be, the true answer to why I was a slave to food was because of the sin in my heart. Basically I was similar to the children of Israel. Here’s what God told them -

"But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." (Psalm 81:11-13, 16)
I cannot blame my sin of gluttony on anyone else but myself. I chose not to listen to God’s voice, submit to Him, or walk in His ways regarding this area of my life. In other words, I turned from God “the fountain of living water and dug broken cisterns for myself that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

If you can relate, talk to God about this part of your life and confess to Him, be real & specific about it. I like what C.J. Mahaney said about confessing his sin of pride to God.

“So rather than just confessing to God that “I was proud in that situation” and appealing for His forgiveness, I learned to say instead, “Lord, in that moment, with that attitude and that action, I was contending for supremacy with You. That’s what it was all about. Forgive me.” (Humility: True Greatness p. 31-32).

Following Mahaney’s example, I wrote a statement pertaining to gluttony. Rather than confessing that, “I ate too much.” I say instead, “Lord, in that moment, with that action, I turned from You and instead turned to food. You alone can satisfy the longings of my soul. Forgive me.” So, as you drop all of the excuses that you may have for why you turn to food and not God, you are now free to go hard after Him and His truth.

The song - "You alone can satisfy" by Ross King is the theme song of my journey. I play it most mornings. Listen to it (the 9th song). Pay close attention to the words. After the song, as the Lord leads, say your own personal prayer to God.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Running to the Savior

Back to the Freedom Journey Series.

The first thing I want to mention is that "Running to the Savior" is a sanctification process. It's a process of God working in us as we strive for more of Him and it won't be complete until the return of our Savior (I Thess 5:23-24). I like how Elyse Fitzpatrick puts it, "Sanctification is that slow process of growth from our old ways of thinking and living to new, godly ones. Sanctification doesn't occur overnight--in fact, it's never fully completed until we reach heaven. At heart, it's the change that God is accomplishing through us: change into the image and character of His Son (Romans 8:29)" (Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety p. 90).

With that said, I want to talk about the three things that I've held onto throughout this journey.

The Word of God, Journal, & Pen
Diet programs and books teach you what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. However, most of them do not succeed in the area of explaining why you eat the way you do. They fail in this area because their reasoning only focuses on outer change instead of heart change. I was one that used to run to all the latest diet fads and they all gave me temporal results but my heart never changed. God is changing my heart from focusing on "the fruit" of behavior change which only causes me to be satisfied with results. Instead He wants me to focus on "the Vine" in which I strive to be solely satisfied with the Savior as I abide in Him (John 15:4-5).
I have to stand on the truth of God's Word and the faithfulness of His character. He has to be the focus and foundation of any lasting change and deliverance from sin. As John 8:36 so beautifully says it,
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
That was the main verse that encouraged me to press on in faith as I started my journey. It was also one of the 1st verses that I wrote in my journal. I'll talk more about the journal in later posts.

"Yes, Jesus Loves Me!"

Here's my baby girl praising God even through a cold (excuse the nose wiping :-)

Evidence of God’s Grace in Affliction

“I can’t do that!”, “What are they thinking?”, “Don’t they know what I go through?”, “My life is hard enough!”, “How can I serve others with a child like this?”

I’ve said all of these statements before. I’m sure I’m not alone. Many times parents of children with special needs feel that their circumstances or afflictions give them a valid excuse from doing many things. Logically speaking, they’re right! Families affected by disability tend to have less time and energy to do anything extra besides caring for the immediate needs of their family. However, whether your trials and afflictions are pertaining to disability or not, the Bible says that all believers will be afflicted in some way. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” So, as we wait & hope for Christ’s deliverance, how are we to live? How can we serve others and glorify God in our afflictions?

Paul’s encouragement to the church of the Thessalonians shows us how this can be done. Take a look at his words in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4. Paul praised God for 3 evidences of His grace in their lives. They were abundantly growing in their faith, increasing in their love for one another, and remaining steadfast as they endured all of their afflictions. Because of the hope of the gospel and God at work in us, we can pattern our actions according to their Christ-like example.

A. The Thessalonians’ “faith was growing abundantly”.
The Greek word for faith in this passage is pistis (Strong's G4102). It means the conviction that is based upon hearing God’s Word and not on sight. It is the firm confidence in what we hear from God in His Word (Short Definitions, New Testament. ©2008 Greek Bible Study).
A person growing abundantly in their faith…
1. Puts their trust in God & His Word. (Mark 11:22).
2. Hopes in things unseen. They look to Jesus and do not get sidetracked by the things that they see. (Heb 11:1)
3. Believes God’s promises no matter what their circumstances look like. (Romans 4:19-20)

B. The Thessalonians’ “love for one another was increasing”.
The Greek word for love in this passage is agape (Strong's G26). This is love in its fullest conceivable form. It gives a self-denying and compassionate devotion to its object (Short Definitions, New Testament. ©2008 Greek Bible Study).
A person increasing in their love…
1. Serves others. (Galatians 5:13-14)
2. Considers others before themselves. They do not have a self-centered “What about me!” attitude. (John 15:13)
3. Understands that without love for others, all their actions are in vain (even if they're using their spiritual gifts). (1 Cor.13:1-3)

C. The Thessalonians remained “steadfast”.
The Greek word for steadfast in this passage is hupomonÄ“ (Strong's G5281). It means a patient endurance, a remaining under; a bearing-up under (Short Definitions, New Testament. ©2008 Greek Bible Study).
A person who remains steadfast…
1. Rejoices in their sufferings because they know that their trials are producing character and hope and making them mature in Christ. (Romans 5:1-5, James 1:2-4)
2. Lays aside every weight and sin which clings so closely to them. They strive to look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of their faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
3. Believes that their present sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to them when Christ returns. (Romans 8:18-25)

Praise God for His truth! Only by God’s grace and through His power can any of us walk according to these truths in our lives. May God cause our faith to abundantly grow, our love for one another to increase, and help us remain steadfast as we endure all of our present afflictions and the ones to come for our good and His glory. Amen!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jesus Died For It!

Most people would say that they occasionally eat too much. You might hear someone say, “Oh, I’m too stuffed!” or “I shouldn’t have eaten seconds!” I assume that all of us know what that's like. However, a person that occasionally eats too much is not necessarily a glutton. Here’s my definition of a glutton -

A person who continuously (regularly) eats an abundance of food beyond their fill in order to satisfy a longing of the soul.
Gluttony is an addiction to food. It is an idol. It is a god. It has a place in your heart that only God should fill. My freedom journey started when I saw the sin of gluttony as one would view a …
- Drug addict taking another snort.
- Porn addict clicking on another site.
- Alcoholic having another sip.

Even though the world accepts it and the church excuses it, gluttony is still a sin. I was addicted to a sin that nailed my Savior to the cross. Jesus agonized, suffered, and died in obedience to the Father for the sake of my sin (Colossians 1:19-23).

This realization is foundational for a person wanting freedom from the sin of gluttony. You must:
1) See your sin as God sees it. (Proverbs 23:19-21, Proverbs 28:6-7)
2) Confess it to Him. (1 John 1:9)
3) Run to the Savior! (Jeremiah 29:13)

In my next post, I plan to describe the steps I took in running to the Savior.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I died a year ago!

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11)

Last year when I wrote this post during the week of my 33rd birthday, I had no idea that it would become true (spiritually speaking) pertaining to a specific sin in my life. You see, I turned 34 on Tuesday and this birthday marked a lot of “firsts” for me. This was the 1st birthday that…

*I was 2 sizes smaller than I’ve ever been as an adult.
*I went shopping for a whole new wardrobe.
*I didn’t look in the mirror and feel guilt or shame.
*I prayed so hard that I wouldn’t return to the bondage of the sin of gluttony.

This blog post comes with much hesitation. I hesitate for many reasons but the root of them all is FEAR. I fear that I will fall back into the sin that I’ve struggled with for most of my life and gain the weight back and then look foolish. So, this post comes with a big risk but I’m willing to risk for the sake of glorifying God as I recount His goodness, faithfulness, and compassion towards me. Also, going public with this area of my life via internet allows me to have countless accountability partners :-).

I'm involved in the MOMS ministry at my church. This Tuesday's speaker coincidently spoke about nutrition. She showed us a replica of 5 lbs of fat. Since it was my birthday, I just had to take a picture holding that thing. It's hard to believe that I have lost a total of 5 of them...glory to God alone!
How My Journey BeganDuring Fall ’08, I participated in the bible study How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul D. Tripp. From the very 1st lesson, that study was life changing for me. Even though I’ve been a believer for quite a while, this class helped me to come face to face with the reality of the Cross, my position before God, Christ’s power in me, and the hope to come (2 Peter 1:3-9, Phil 1:3-11, Rev 7:9-17). From the start, God was pointing to my sin of gluttony and it was like He was saying, “This is it! It’s your time to give me this area of your life.” This is definitely the #1 area of struggle that has kept me from wholeheartedly loving God. Midway through the study, we had to plan a personal growth project. On the night of October 23rd, I was working on my project and I had a time of coming clean before God. I confessed out loud and wrote all my confessions down on paper. I made lists for 3 specific areas: 1) “Confessions to my sin of gluttony”, 2) “Why I’m enslaved to gluttony”, 3) “Why I want to be free from gluttony”. The Holy Spirit helped me to be very specific about my confessions. Here are a few of them -
* I am a glutton!
* I turn to food for comfort and relief instead of God.
* I get a satisfaction “high” from food. Even though I know it’s temporary, I constantly crave that feeling.
* I turn to food for a sense of control in my life.
The list went on and on. Later that evening, I also confessed this sin to Kempton. He knew that I struggled with food, but he didn’t know to this degree. As I sobbed, he prayed for me. He has been my #1 accountability partner ever since.

For the next several blog posts, I plan to continue the trek through my journey.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Part 2: In Sickness and In Health...of your child

Here are the things that Kempton & I strive to do to preserve our marriage.

Only by God's strength, We say “YES” to…
1) Praying together. As soon as we wake up, we ask the Lord for strength for the day and for the grace to walk in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18)

2) Daily getting in the Word together. We have to juggle in this area since we have young children. Most of the time it's before the kids get up. Lately it's been after the kids go to bed. There are some days that it doesn't happen, but this is our regular goal that we strive for. (Psalm 1:2)

3) Overflowing at all times! We love to share with each other what God is teaching us individually through His Word. We do this as we're getting ready for the day, playing with the kids, eating a meal, etc. This has been such a pillar as we strive to have a Christ-centered, God-exalting home. Most of our times in the Word together are full of overflowing onto one another. The grace & goodness of our Lord and the new insight that we receive from Him calls for much excitement in our conversations. (Col 3:16-17)

4) Confessing sins to one another. This area is definitely the hardest, but it produces the most beautiful results. Each time we confess our sins to one another, the Lord blesses our marriage to grow closer in oneness and unity. We both know what each other struggles in the most and we try to pray for those specific areas regularly. Only God knows ALL the sins that we have committed. However, the times when we were both transparent and confessed some of our ugly & filthy sins, God has met us in a powerful way and strengthened our marriage through it. (James 5:16)

5) DATE NIGHTS!!! When Christian was a baby and had more medical issues, we often could not have others care for him. So, Kempton & I would have "In house"date nights. We would put Christian to bed and then order take-out from our favorite restaurant. We enjoyed our relaxing yet romantic evenings at home. Over the years, the Lord has blessed us to be able to go out for date nights and have either grandparents or friends care for the kids. Because it still can be a handful caring for both Christian & Carysse, we tend to put Christian to bed 1st & then go out for a later date night. Christian goes to bed at 7:30 so we have a babysitter come over and she just has to care for Carysse. I know date nights may be difficult for some of you because of your child's needs, but pray for the Lord to give you creative ideas to make it happen. Set aside the time whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly...JUST DO IT!!! (Song of Solomon 2:16, 7:10)

6) Not neglecting the Body of Christ. God has called His children to love one another, serve one another, & encourage one another. We are not exempt from these commands just because we have a child with special needs. However, with Christian's needs, we are not able to attend many of the church events as a family. Praise the Lord that we are at a church that serves Christian on Sunday mornings so that Kempton & I can worship together. Because we love to be with God's people, we decided to host many events in our home. This gives us an opportunity to serve the body as a family unit and not have to be concerned about trying to find care for our children. This has been a huge blessing and a source of joy for our family. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I know this is a long & wordy list, but it's certainly not exhaustive. I hope it helps & encourages someone. Kempton & I are definitely not perfect in any of these areas. God has been so faithful in taking our little insufficient efforts and producing good, spiritual fruit for His glory and the benefit of our marriage & family.