Too

Too.  It is a little word but it has come to have a big meaning for me.

too (adverb)-in addition, also

You see, I have a problem-I eat TOO much;  I eat in addition to what I need.  I eat my meal and also a little bit more, and I’ve set out to understand and overcome the problem of too.

And so, I am doing what I try to always do:  Ask the one with the answers: God.

I have been asking God how He viewed the problem and what He has set up for a way to overcome the problem of too.

And then I read something that caught my attention.

What I read mentioned the Garden of Eden.   It told how Adam and Eve lived in a smorgasbord.  A smorgasbord of goodness.  In the Garden of Eden there was only one thing that they were to avoid-a certain tree and a certain fruit-everything else was up for grabs.  Easy huh?  Well, we know how that turned out.

eve

We, on the other hand, live here on Earth-in a different kind of smorgasbord.  A smorgasbord with many things we, as God’s beautiful, holy children, are to monitor and a plethora of things to avoid.

times square

Sometimes it is an obvious avoidance:  don’t take illegal drugs, don’t take other people’s stuff, don’t lie, cheat, or murder.

Other times, it is that little but powerful idea of too.  Don’t eat too much food, spend too much money, or even exercise too much.

You know-enough is enough.?.?   

Herein lies our problem-enough.  Why isn’t enough, enough-enough sex,  enough TV,  enough Facebook?  When are we-how are we-going to learn to be content with enough and quit wanting too?

Self control

Well first I think we need to call it what it is:  gluttony, greed, idolatry, perversion (ouch).

Doesn’t sound so good now, does it?  Let’s take it out of the darkness and bring it to light.  We have an ugly problem-our flesh and the flesh is never fully satisfied.

There it is.   The scale just keeps going up.  The amount due on the credit card bill just keeps increasing-the list of partners….the stuff in our house…..the amount we need to take to feel good again.  Ugh!  ENOUGH!

This flesh of mine is corrupt.  So is yours.  That is why God tells us to make no provision for it.

new life

I need to change what I can change:  what is in my pantry, whether I carry a credit card at all, whether my phone is a flip phone instead of an internet access one (There, I said it men.).  I need to make it hard for my flesh.  The Bible would tell us to take it off.

But, that is not enough.  When you take something off, if you don’t put something on, you leave a void. And voids are dangerous when you live in flesh.

We need to be full-not overfull-but filled.  If we’re not filled, our flesh will seek to take care of the deficit.

When we take something off, we need to put something on, someone on-Jesus Christ.  Off with the old flesh-driven, self-seeking self and on with the new Spirit driven, holiness seeking, other-centered newness of Jesus Christ.

God is enough

We need to quit identifying with, therefore, becoming like the gluttonous, drunken, over-sexualized world and begin identifying, and becoming like the temperate, sober, loving,  Jesus Christ-and be satisfied in Him and the life He offers us.   Abundant life.  Full life.  A life filled with contentment, satisfaction, peace, love, and joy.

Throw it out, cut it up, trade it in.  Enough, I say.  No more too.

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. ……..if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. …….And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell…  Mark 9:47

But, that’s another blog altogether……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Full

Eeyore

I heard something at church today that made me smile. The visiting preacher compared a whiny, sad person to being like Eeyore from Whiny the Pooh.  I hadn’t thought of Eeyore for years-poor, sad, gloomy Eeyore.

I shook my head because I know some Eeyores.  People who have everything they need to live a full, content life but don’t.  And they don’t because they choose not to.  You know them.  You sit next to them to have conversation and quickly regret it.  It is like a cloud surrounds them and if you get too close, you get enveloped into the grey matter.

Eeyore cloud

And it isn’t that they don’t have a full life and a full heart; it is that their heart is full of  wrong things.

The thing about a heart is once full; it doesn’t have room for anythings else.  A heart full of gloom and sadness, anxiety and fear, or anger and bitterness doesn’t have room for joy or peace, kindness or patience,  love or contentment.

eeyore happy

A full heart is just that-full.

If we want room for the joy and peace that God wants to fill us with, we  might just need to do a little cleaning out.  A little getting rid of.  God tells us to get rid of-anger, bitterness, rage, malice.  He also tells us not to let unforgiveness stay in our heart and set up a root of bitterness.  He knows we can’t have both.  We have to choose. One or the other.   And God never tells us to do anything that He Himself won’t empower us to do.

So let’s not be an Eeyore.   Let’s choose light and life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Even Superman Had His Kryptonite

Chocolate.   And cake.  Some pies.  Basically anything creamy and sweet.

That is my Kryptonite.  You remember kryptonite, don’t you?

Superman.  Superhero with one flaw, one weakness-Kryptonite.  In the presence of Kryptonite he lost all his power.

We all have our Kryptonite.  You know that thing that when we come under its power, we lose ours.  Maybe it is beer, or that “little blue pill”, or, like me, that clear, white granulated stuff that tastes so sweet.

In the presence of our Kryptonite-we become weak and give in under its power.

The problem with Kryptonite was that it was used by Superman’s enemies to take him down.  They knew Superman was stronger than them and that they had no chance of subduing him unless they could find His weakness-his Kryptonite- and use it against him. Then they could control him.

Kryptonite in itself wasn’t a bad thing and it wasn’t a bad thing to all people-just Superman-and the enemy knew it.

What was Superman’s defense.  How did he protect himself?  He stayed as far away from Kryptonite as possible and that is to be our strategy-to make a life where our Kryptonite is hard to get at.  

The Bible tells us to, “make no provision for the flesh”. We are to create a life that would make coming under the power of our Kryptonite difficult-don’t buy it, find accountability, don’t drive that way, delete the account. Make no provision.

A life that it would be hard for our enemy to use Kryptonite against us.  He wants our lives to be weak and ineffective.  He wants our minds burdened with guilt and shame for being drawn to the very thing that overtakes us.

But, to the glory of God, we also have a Savior who has come to set us free and empower us.  We are overcomers in Christ.  There is no Krytonite used against us that will prosper.  Walk on dear follower and know the power of God in your life through Jesus Christ.

 

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What Does Freedom Cost?

Last night I threw away a nearly full half gallon of Breyer’s Coffee Ice Cream.  Crazy, I know.  Who throws away a perfectly good container of ice cream?  Somebody who wants to be free.

It all started when a good friend told me about her daughter’s addiction to drugs and subsequent recovery.  In the course of the conversation it was mentioned that the tab for rehab for the three years her daughter spent in recovery cost the parents $30,000.  Wow.

I have thought a lot about that conversation the last few days. How much are we willing to pay for another’s freedom;  what about our own?

I personally have my own addiction-food.   I have struggled with an addiction to food most of my life.  I have lived a life of gluttony.  How do I know?  I have been miserable.  I’ve struggled to find clothes that fit, I’ve struggled with personal hygiene,  I’ve struggled to tote the extra weight around.  It has cost me. My spirit has been willing (and desperately desires to be free) but my flesh is weak.

So, lately, I’ve been talking to God about how to walk in freedom from the flesh.  I’ve noted here a couple of verses that I believe He’s given me to ponder:

When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.  Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.[Proverbs 23: 1-3]  Unlearning habitual patterns of the flesh takes a firm resolve.  If a person wants to be free, they have to face facts. Most of us are given to abusing things of this world: food, alcohol, sex, drugs, money (It is our kryptonite;  we loose strength when we are around certain foods or are in certain situations.). We must make serious effort to undo flesh patterns that have been set up over the years until we develop a new relationship with whatever has us in bondage.  Delicacies are deceptive; they only satisfy for a moment. They look wonderful, but are of little value to our body. Actually, they are destructive. Ellicott’s commentary explains the verse like this:  Use the strongest methods to keep thine appetite in check, if thou art likely to give way to it.

Another verse… make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. [Romans 13:14]  That is why the ice cream had to go-and so does keeping any sweet dessert in my house.  If I were honest, the things I told myself like:  It wasn’t fair to my family if i didn’t keep some junk food for them- were lies.  None of us needed junk food.  And, having a healthy mom who set a good example would have been much more valuable for them. An alcoholic doesn’t need alcohol in the house and a food addict doesn’t need to keep unhealthy food in their cupboard.

And lastly, and this is a tough one:…. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. [Matthew 18:9]   This is a hyperbole obviously but its meaning is clear-take sin seriously.  Sin kills.  Sin destroys.  The flesh has to be crucified-not catered too and pandered.  We cannot love the world or the things in it-even food-if we want to walk in freedom.  We need to make strong effort to rid our lives of sin-throw away the ice cream, join AA, get an accountability partner, get rid of the Internet-what are we willing to pay for freedom?

True freedom costs.  We have to lose to gain.  We cannot love the things of this world.  Like the alcoholic has to give up their drink  and the drug addict their chemical, the glutton has to give up their habit of abusing food for pleasure.

Jesus paid a great price for us to gain freedom.  He took up a cross for us and He calls us to take up our own and follow Him.  How much will we pay for freedom?

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Age of Pharmacia

I had a pastor tell me once that we were in the “age of pharmacia”. I didn’t know what he was talking about at the time and have had difficulty finding anything on the internet to elude to that being a term used for our times. But, I can’t help but ponder what he said as I watch more and more people fall into what I prefer to call “bondage” over “addiction” because that’s what the Bible calls it.

I now know he was right and knew what he was talking about. It seems like more and more of us are being pulled by the world, the flesh, and Satan into using chemicals to help us enjoy life and dull the emotional pains we all inevitably experience. And it works, for a time, and then we find ourselves enslaved and under harsh oppression by the very thing that gave us such pleasure. Once enslaved, we are shamed by the voices in our heads and the emotional pain of the shame we feel for falling again and drawn back to the pleasure we know we can have with our chemical of choice whether it be drugs, alcohol, or illicit sexual pleasure.

I am reminded of a boat ride I took once with a most unlikely “God” experience where my husband and I were seated next to an ex-con turned preacher who taught me as we cruised for over an hour about “typology”, or the study of the old testament being a type of our Christian walk today. I later did a Bible study that taught in detail how the exodus out of Egypt by the Israelites was a “type” of the Christian’s journey with Christ Jesus.

Christ came to set us free from the cruel bondage and oppression of the flesh and the ruler of this world. He will lead us out of Egypt, through the wildernesses of this life, and into the promised land if we will follow Him and BELIEVE. I used to think that the promised land was heaven but I always questioned this until I went to my pastor and asked his thoughts. He said no the promised land can be had on this earth but we must believe to go in.

There is no bondage so great that Jesus Christ cannot deliver us and lead us out. We may have to go through the wilderness but, if we will believe Him and continue to follow Him, He will lead us into a land filled with milk and honey, healing and restoration. We will have opposition from our flesh, as the Israelites did when they remembered the sweet things they had in Egypt (forgetting all the oppression and cruelty ) and Satan will not let us go without coming after us, but Jesus will squash His efforts.  We must do our part and choose to remember the cruelty of our former bondages over the pleasures they brought and keep walking out with Jesus leading us BELIEVING His Word no matter what our limited understanding tells us or our earthbound senses experience. There is a Promised Land to be had. Our faith in God and His Word is the way to enter.

I challenge you to cry out to Jesus for deliverance and STAY in His word as if you were digging for treasure (because you are-the treasures of His promises). Believe God. Keep walking with Jesus. Enter in.

May God help each of us overcome our unbeliefs and grow in faith.

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The Pause

I teach 5th grade. My students are mostly ten-year olds becoming eleven before the school year’s end.  I have come up with a new phrase that I say in class and find myself pondering a lot lately outside the classroom.  It goes like this, “Be careful blurting out answers;  blurting usually makes you appear ignorant.”

I started saying this because I found it to be true.  I began to notice that blurted answers tended to be wrong answers.  It was the student who paused and thought about their response who was most likely to answer correctly.

I have found myself considering and trying to apply this to my own responses to life situations  and have come to believe it may be one of the greatest lessons I could ever learn, that blurted responses whether in the classroom or in life are usually wrong responses.  That pausing and thinking carefully before responding increases ones chance of responding well.  Mastering the ability to “pause” is probably one of the greatest indicators of spiritual maturity.

My students have not mastered the “pause” and neither have I.  We have only begun  practicing.  I know it will take time and effort for pausing to become habit, but I am determined-with God’s help-to master this lesson.

pause 2

“Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. ”
Rollo May, The Courage to Create

 

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It’s Not Enough

I was sitting at my table looking out over the pasture and woods behind my house and being thankful that God has allowed me to live the last 30 something years here in the country in Danville, AL. I remembered the deer I watched roam about in this same field just the other day and was grateful.

My mind then moved, as a woman’s mind so often does, randomly to a portion of scripture that I read just this morning about how good God was to His people, but how they repeatedly were unfaithful to Him. I was reminded of how God gave the Israelites manna but it was not enough; they missed the tasty, exotic food of Egypt.

Aren’t we a mess? God gives man a miracle, the food of angels, cosmic, wonderful, miraculous provision and it is not enough. We want the spectacular, the sensational, the exciting and sensual fare of the world. God gives the simple, sometimes miraculously, but it is not enough for our fleshly, worldly selves.

 
I have done some speaking and teaching at area drug rehab centers and the Morgan County Jail and I’ve struggled with a question for weeks, “Why do drug rehabs have such a low rate of success?”  As humans who have tasted the world, we struggle to be satisfied with the simple, healthy pleasures God provides. We miss Egypt.  We have tasted the sensual, spectacular, yet sinfully murderous fare of the world.  It is killing us but boy it feels good!

As humans, we must learn to be thankful and satisfied with the simple provisions of God for our lives and put on blinders to the sensational things the world offers that lead to a burned out wasted life. Lord, please help us find contentment in your life-giving provision and joy in the simple things.

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