Friday, January 9, 2009

Weighing Self-Control

In the last video session of Beth Moore’s “Living Beyond Yourself” (a study on the fruit of the Spirit), I was deeply touched by the things that she shared on self-control. I have enjoyed the duration of the study with my small group very much (and wish I could share every detail of the numerous things I have learned) but it’s a much richer experience if you can undertake the study yourself. However, I was eager to share some things from the last video because it was so powerful to me!

The first verses that Beth Moore highlights at the start of the video are these:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

She says that the Holy Spirit wants to be comfortable in our skin. Isn’t that a neat concept? To be comfortable in our skin, we ought not to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30) and we should listen to Him. We need to have the self-control to know when to restrain ourselves and stop when we need to. She also made a point of telling us that the process of discipline is a “one day at a time” thing. Yet, so many of us expect instant maturity rather than being just as patient with ourselves as God is with us.

Beth particularly focused on the aspect of loving God with all of our strength; controlling the body that the Holy Spirit dwells in. She makes several important points and the first one is this: “Deeply absorbing a biblical perspective of our physical bodies would free us from the horrific stress our culture has placed on us.” Beth reminded us of just how media-driven our culture is. Though, I hardly doubt that comes as a shock to anyone reading this. ;) She says that we have a hard time reaching a point of balance. We are either one extreme or the other - either neglect or obsession. We either care too much or too little about caring for ourselves. She says the middle ground is a place called respect; where you neither obsess nor disregard yourself to either extreme.

I got to tell you, that had me nodding my head the whole time because I know what she’s talking about!! It resonated with me all the more as she shared the story of a woman who shared her testimony with her regarding this second point: “From a strictly biblical point of view (as opposed to medical), physical fitness is probably more about freedom than size (Galatians 5:1). Keep in mind that extreme conditions call for focused measures. The ultimate goal for most of us, however is freedom from obsession so that God rather than the body can be glorified. This goal is most often realized through recapturing the lost art (practice) of moderation.”

Wow!! Isn’t that powerful?!! She told us about a lady who said she has been everything from a size four to a size fourteen. She said that at a size four, she was not free because she had to work so hard to maintain it. She had to count every calorie and obsess about every detail in order to stay a four. She also said she was not free at a fourteen because at that size, she didn’t care much at all and food was her friend, comfort, and idol. Though, Beth was quick to point out that either one of these sizes could be the point of freedom and balance for someone else (everyone’s body is different). Though, for this lady in particular, she said her freedom is in being a size ten. She neither has to focus too much or too little about it and she’s free from both extremes of bondage.

I found that fascinating and so very true! As most of you know, I have been struggling with my weight for a long time. In the last couple years, I have lost some (and gained some back when I quit focusing on God as my “coach”). I don’t know what my ideal size is yet (because I haven’t gotten that far) but I hope to reach that place of balance as well. I know that at my highest size (18/20) was not freedom for me and I was neglectful of my body. I also know that obsessing too much over losing weight is not good either. So, I am patiently waiting and working to reach my goal without becoming too consumed with food at either end of the spectrum. I expect my place of freedom will be much like hers. I think the size that my height and frame can be will probably be around a 10. I KNOW that I am not built to be anything too much smaller than that!! I think anything below a six would NOT be for me. It’s like what she said, we just need to ‘learn to do what we need to do, then get on with living.’ We should focus on whatever needs taken care of, but it shouldn’t be the focal point forever. It goes back to that verse of Galatians 5:1 about Christ setting us free and not being burdened again by another yoke of slavery. When it comes to losing weight (or anything else) don’t trade one bondage for another! Don’t become free from being overweight just to become enslaved to becoming too thin!

Beth used Romans 12:1-2 as the scripture for her next point which is: “The most transforming and freeing way we can approach the care of our physical bodies is making fitness one way we worship God.” She talked about listening to praise and worship as she walked, and just praying and fellowshipping with Him as she took the time to maintain her body through exercise. She said our bodies were meant to be active. It wasn’t until the inventions of modern appliances/equipment that we lost the reason to keep our bodies moving. (LOL Isn’t that the truth?!). Technology and “labor saving devices” (as Mr. Lunt from Veggie Tales would say LOL.) are great! However, we don’t want to lose the benefits of physical activity just because we are enabled to be sedentary.

So, what do we do now? Beth made a very profound statement in saying that “radical restoration follows radical repentance.” Amen!! That’s true no matter WHAT you’re dealing with!! Amazing results are the product of first taking some radical actions! If the results in your life aren’t what you want, you got to change the steps you took to get there. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” ;)

Beth concluded by having us celebrate our own Hanukkah. Does that sound odd to you? Well, she explained that the word Hanukkah was from the Hebrew word hanak which means “dedicated.“ She said our Hanukkah is about dedication/rededication and a reestablishment of worship. She said: “The time has come for us to take our positions. Before we do, let’s rededicate our temples.”

We are now a little over a week into the new year. For most, the new year symbolize a new start. Though, the new year isn’t the only time we can have a new start. We can have that each and every day because God’s compassion and faithfulness is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every day can be a new start and a day of restoration as we surrender and rededicate ourselves to Him. Like the phrase Tom Felger said that has always stuck with me: “Surrender is a lifestyle.” Indeed it is!! We daily take up our crosses and lay down our lives before Him (Matthew 16:24) and He lifts us back up (James 4:10)!! How glorious and wonderful is that?

Grace and peace to all of you today, tomorrow, and always!! May this new year, and every year, be blessed!! God bless you all!!

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