RYM 12 Week Challenge Ends

I can’t believe we’ve already come to the end of this challengeLast week we worked on treasure hunting again. It has been a really exciting 12 weeks. I’ve done many challenges over the years but I think this may have been my favorite. When I first felt like God was calling me to do this, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I gleaned from the last 12 weeks has been incredible. God has shown me such wonderful and very cool things through my time with Him and the willingness to step out in faith.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to complete these 84 days and to do with with such a fantastic group of women at the Taste For Truth Support Group has been beyond amazing. What a blessing!

If you missed out on the last challenge. There is a new one starting on March 31st at the Taste For Truth Support Group. Join us!

Also, for the final wrap-up video of the challenge: 12 Week Renewing the Mind – Week 12 Wrap-up

_______________________________________________________________________
Final Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes 7 days, + God glorifying music 5 days, kept my food boundaries 7 days, and exercised 5 days for at least 15 minutes.
Released 0.6 lbs the twelfth week :)*
Challenge Total: -10 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
_______________________________________________________________________

RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 12

Moving on to the twelfth week of this challengeLast week we worked on adding a body benefitting goal. This week, we are going to go on our final treasure hunt. 

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

Treasures In Heaven

Most of us would nod a hearty amen at the verse above. We know we can’t take our earthly “riches” with us. We picture houses, money, cars, clothes, and jewelry… to name only a few. It is valid that we must keep all of these in proper perspective. We already know our “stuff” shouldn’t come before God and others.

But how does this relate to our pursuit of weight loss? After all, God wants us to take care of our bodies, right? I am so hopeful that at this point in our twelve week journey you have begun to pursue God above all else… even weight loss.

We have seen that we can certainly worship our boundaries, tools, exercise plans, or even 12 week challenges. Expecting these things to “save us” from our harmful habits and behaviors is futile at best and destructive at worst. Putting our faith in them is no different than laying “up for yourselves treasures on earth”.

If you treasure the tools and methodologies more than you treasure the Lord, your heart will be subject to the whims of this world, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

We want our hearts focused on God because He is faithful and He will not abuse that responsibility. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is our constant.  This cannot be said of anything else in our universe.

You can test where your heart is by asking yourself if you are still seeking after “self” or if you are seeking, above all, a true, thriving, and satisfying relationship with the Lord.

Vision Check

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

~Matthew 6:22-23

“How great is that darkness” indeed! Remember week two? We began speaking directly to our souls by looking ourselves in the eye as we spoke truth. I hope you’ve continued that practice. It is so important that we remain in the light. We don’t want to be full of darkness. Our old identities were dark, but our identities in Christ are light.

Where we were once enslaved by habits, we can now walk in liberty in Christ Jesus.

Are you still viewing yourself the way you were almost twelve weeks ago? When we focus on earthly things or the world’s vision, our spiritual vision is hindered and we are unable to see Truth.

Or, have you begun to believe you are who God says you are? I certainly hope so. Some things will take longer than three months to transform, but progress should be there if you’ve kept your focus in the right place.

One Master

 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” ~ Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

In studying this passage from Matthew 6, I was thinking how it seemed like Jesus harps on this way too much. I mean, shouldn’t we get it when he talks about not storing up earthly treasure? But He always has a purpose. He’s gone from something we all concede is really obvious and then He zeroes in tighter and tighter as we go.

He takes us from earthly treasures (external) to the condition of our souls (internal). Then, He goes one step further for those who think they are “managing” both God and their “idols”. They think they can follow both. Perhaps they will say, “Of course God is above all these things”, but their actions prove otherwise.

What do we put first? If we wrote out a timeline of our days, what would this reveal about our priorities? If I only have enough time one morning to have time with the Lord or exercise, and I know whichever I don’t choose will not get done that day (if I’m honest with myself), what does my choice reveal?

If I spend time tracking food and exercising, but fail to carve out time with the Lord, which master am I serving?

The irony here is that serving anything other than God crowds Him out of our vision. We become slaves to that which we give reign over us. When we surrender our freedom to earthly things, we are taken captive by them.

However, the opposite is true by allowing God to be our master. When we bow to Him, seek His face, and obey His commands, we realize we are free. The beauty is, we are then free to choose boundaries and an exercise plan with God’s blessing and help. As we continue to bow to His authority, He gives us the strength to keep our boundaries.

I agree, it makes no human sense to be mastered by something and yet be free. This is only possible when God is the master.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
~ Galatians 5:1 (ESV)

 So, as we go through this final week of the challenge, we are going on another treasure hunt. It is my prayer that by treasure hunting the past three weeks, you will become even more convinced that the Master you have chosen is more than worthy of this position in your life.

Week 12 – Alrighty, we’re keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

_______________________________________________________________________
Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes 6 days, + God glorifying music 4 days, kept my food boundaries 7 days, and exercised 7 days for at least 15 minutes.
Released 4.8 lbs the eleventh week :)*
Challenge Total: -9.4 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
_______________________________________________________________________

RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 8

We’re continuing through this challenge as we enter this eighth week. Last week we added exercise and I hope you’ve enjoyed working out with God. This week, we are going on another treasure hunt. 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (ESV)

Treasure in Jars of Clay

Most of us would readily admit we are indeed “jars of clay”. We are very aware of our flesh throughout the day. However, one look at the imaginations of human beings throughout generations will tell you that most of us wish we weren’t confined by the laws of nature or these earthly vessels.

I’m sure most of us have imagined having superpowers at some point in our lives. Personally, I thought it would be cool to be able to fly or make myself invisible. I also wished I could run faster than humanly possible and imagined I could talk to animals. Ah, the faith of a child.

As we grow up, we just wish we had the power to resist falling into old, harmful patterns of behavior. We wake up, determine that today will be different, only to find ourselves elbow deep in a bag or box of something when the bewitching hour arrives. The cycle continues and we feel powerless to change.

It’s tempting to become angry at God for making us so weak in our flesh, but as the passage above shows, there is a purpose. God placed the light of the gospel within these clay vessels to show His awesome power. Without Him, we are subject to being tossed around by our emotions and physical limitations.

In fact, think about some of your favorite “super heroes”. Couldn’t some of those things from 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 also be said of those fictional characters as they face their arch enemies? And yet, God’s Word says that is who we are in Christ.

The problem is, we often can’t see the light for the clay. We’re so focused on our weaknesses and yet still trying to do everything in our own strength. Then we blame God when we don’t have victory.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

What if we took a different approach? What if we followed Paul’s example in 2 Corinthians 12:9 of how to view our weaknesses? Perhaps we would begin to comprehend just how valuable the treasure we have within truly is.

This week, as we go on another treasure hunt, let’s ask God to reveal any areas we may be striving in our own strength and not leaning on His awesome power.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Week 8 – Alrighty, we’re keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

_______________________________________________________________________
Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes a day, + God glorifying music, kept my food boundaries, and exercised 5 days for at least 15 minutes.
I’m down 1 the seventh week :)*
Challenge Total: 5 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
_______________________________________________________________________

RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 7

We’re half-way through this challenge and no doubt, those who are pressing through are experiencing change that only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Last week we addressed taking inventory of outside influences which may be counteracting our renewing of the mind efforts. This week, we will be focused on the physical parts of us again with an emphasis on exercise.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

 Your Body, A Temple

I know it seems crazy to be doing a weight-loss challenge where exercise isn’t even introduced until week 7. That’s ok, I’ve been called much worse than crazy. This doesn’t mean I haven’t exercised for the past six weeks, quite the contrary, but this week we’re going to renew our minds about it so we can think God’s thoughts on the matter.

For years I only saw exercise in terms of how it affected my weight or made me look. I treated my body like a temple alright, but I focused on the “temple of Jules” and not the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Exercise was about making me look good, allowing me to eat whatever I wanted, or trying to regain a figure I had lost.

Exercise, fitness, workout stats, flat abs, toned arms… they were an idol in my life. I bowed to them like I bowed to food. I spent years believing lies and living in utter fear of being overweight. As so often is the case, life happened and I could no longer practice my “exercise religion”. Eventually, “that thing which I feared came upon me” (Job 3:25) and I found myself classified as “obese”.

I tried for a while to get back what I had lost, but I was still trying in my own strength and still worshipping all the wrong things. It would be many years and countless injuries later that I would discover a much healthier way to view exercise.

Most would agree physical exercise is important for the health and wellbeing of our bodies. Even the Proverbs 31 woman understood the need to be physically strong so she could endure the day ahead. (Proverbs 31:17). Exercise helps all of our bodily processes function better. It also improves our mood and lowers blood sugar. When our bodies are strong, we are less prone to injury. And yet, none of these have anything to do with fitting into a size two dress or looking great in a swimsuit.

There is a vast difference in focus when we use exercise to aid our vanity as opposed to doing it to honor and glorify the Lord. One feeds our flesh and one feeds our spirit. We are to be good stewards of what He has given us to care for. Unfortunately, so many of us end up worshipping the temple (or berating it) rather than worshipping the One Who made it.

Which leads me to the focus of this week. Yes, we are going to exercise, but we are going to ask God to keep it in proper perspective. One way to do this is to thank God after every workout for the ability to accomplish the task. I often thank God for my legs and joints after a run because I know, from my days on the injured list, that without these things, I couldn’t run.

You see, it is all about perspective. Are we grateful for the ability to move our bodies and offer our workouts to God as a form of praise? Or, are we bitterly lacing up our shoes because we ate a box of donuts the day before, and now we must pay the price? Perhaps we live in a third category of feeling guilty for not exercising. I spent years in the latter two categories and can tell you they are not the best way.

“I Can’t Want To”

When my oldest daughter was three, she would often say, “I can’t want to” when asked to do anything she was less than thrilled about. Maybe that’s how you feel about exercise. You think you “can’t want to”, but is that the truth? Doesn’t the Bible say we can do all things through Christ? (Philippians 4:13)

Sure, exercise is difficult, but a funny thing happens once you build the habit of exercising regularly for the right reasons. After a little bit, you actually want to do it. You begin to notice you feel better physically and mentally, and when you add praising God, the “want to” comes even faster.

Each day you set aside the old negative mindsets around exercise and you work-out with God, it gets easier. Now, obviously, you need to choose something that is somewhat enjoyable to you, or at a minimum something which interests you. I’ve done various forms of exercise over the years and, while figure skating and taekwondo rank pretty high on my list, I much prefer to be outside in God’s creation. This is one reason I enjoy running, walking, and hiking the most.

Maybe you think you’re too out of shape to exercise. Well, then it’s time for a trip to the doctor. If your doctor clears you for moderate activity, there are many things you can do. You don’t have to just sit on the sidelines, but you also don’t have to run hurdles in the one hundred yard dash. Pick some form of movement and get started. The most important part of whatever exercise program you choose is to do it to the glory of God.

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” ~ Psalm 119:36 (ESV)

Week 7 – We’re going to add 15 minutes of exercise at least three days a week as we continue to actively renew our minds by keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

_______________________________________________________________________
Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes a day, + God glorifying music, & kept my food boundaries.
I’m up 1.6 the sixth week :)*
Challenge Total: 4 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
_______________________________________________________________________

RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 6

Every challenge should be challenging, even if the most challenging part is sticking with the process. We’re beginning week six of this challenge and no doubt, keeping momentum when the “good feeling’s gone” isn’t easy. Last week we engaged in praising the Lord. This week, we’re hoping to turn the tide of positive versus negative influences.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~ Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

 Turning the Tide

Despite all the “good work” we’ve been doing over the previous five weeks, it is entirely possible  there is still more “garbage” going into our minds than there is Truth.

If we don’t protect our minds from the influences of this world, especially while we’re trying to break free from a stronghold, we will constantly be swimming against the tide. In order for the tide to turn in our favor, and for us to have more truth in our minds than lies, we need to plug up the areas where those lies are getting in.

If we spend more time reading, watching, speaking, or listening to what the world has to say than we do reading, watching, speaking, or listening to what God has to say; we will be treading water at best. We don’t want to barely survive. We want to thrive.

Since we still have to live in this world, we’re going to encounter some of the world’s messages, but it is possible to dramatically reduce our exposure. We make choices every day regarding what music we’ll listen to, what publications we’ll read, what we’ll watch on television…etc.

I’m not about to give a ratings list for you to go by, but I am going to point you to Philippians 4:8 (see top). This week we’re going to ask God to reveal areas where we can purge sources from our individual lives which bring death instead of life to our souls. We want Him to open our eyes.

It’s possible we may need to set boundaries with friends we’ve had for decades. We might need to delete some things from our iPods. We might have to purge our personal library. We might have to unfriend some people on Facebook. We may need to forego finding out what happens in that next episode.

A few years ago, when the Lord revealed to me that I was obsessed with finding the perfect diet, I felt convicted that I needed to let go of my extensive collection of diet books and apps. So, I donated the books and uninstalled the apps. It was so freeing to clear those out of my life.

I’m not saying it will be that simple all the time. I mean, I have yet to put my television in a garage sale. We have decades of being so attached to these sources that letting go of them could prove rather painful and might take some time. So, let God guide you down that path.

It is also possible there will be sources you cannot eliminate, like your spouse’s negative outlook, your kids’ rebellious choices, your co-worker’s foul language…etc. Even driving down the road we will be hit with signs and advertisements looking for space in our minds.

So, I’m going to ask you to add another layer of “renewing the mind” that I call “passive renewal”. We’re going to build a playlist of God glorifying music and play these songs in the background of our lives. Play them driving down the road, play them while you clean, play them while you work. Saturate your world with music that edifies the soul. Let it become the “soundtrack” of your life.

Right now, as I type, I have scripture lullabies playing in the background. Let’s turn the tide in our favor by purging the negative influences we can and ramping up depositing God’s truth into our minds.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” ~ Colossians 3:2 (ESV)

Week 6 – We’re going to add to God glorifying background music to our day to passively renew our minds. We’ll also continue to actively renew our minds by keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Also, this week, we’re going to renew our minds any time we are tempted to break our boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

_______________________________________________________________________
Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes a day & kept my food boundaries 5 of 7 days.
I’m down 0.8 the fifth week :)*
Challenge Total: 5.6 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
_______________________________________________________________________

RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 5

We’re a third of the way through this challenge as we begin week five. Last week we went on a treasure hunt. This week, we’re engaging in praising the Lord.

 “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” ~ Psalm 150 (ESV)

Worthy of Praise 

It is my prayer that we are beginning to see how great and awesome God is. I hope we are recognizing that He is indeed worthy of our praise.

Recently, I heard of a man who had a problem with God “commanding” us to worship Him. In fact, he was so against it, he refused to worship unless he “wanted to”. He didn’t want a “god” who demanded praise.

You see, he viewed God as though He were a human tyrant demanding to be worshipped for the purpose of benefiting Himself. I must say, I would be leary of a “god” like that too.

Thankfully, the One True God is self-less and sacrificial. He is for His children, not against them. Contrary to what some believe, God doesn’t tell us to worship Him alone for His benefit. It is for ours. God knows the pitfalls we’ll encounter when we value anything above Him and He wants us to avoid that pain. Many of us can attest to living in those pits. I know I have scars and extra pounds which testify to bowing at the wrong alter. You probably do too.

This is precisely why He sent His Son to die in our place on the cross. He wants us near. He longs for a relationship with us, not to complete Him, but to complete us as His dearly loved Creation.

Let’s consider for a moment His Son, Jesus Christ. We’ve all heard the catch phrase, “What Would Jesus Do.” Most Christians would say He is a good example of how we should live in this world. Well, what did He do when presented with the opportunity to worship something other than God?

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. ~ Matthew 4:8-11 (ESV)

In a sermon titled, You Shall Worship the Lord Your God, John Piper paints a beautiful picture of us (as a peasant) playing outside the castle with the Prince (Jesus). Then, we’re invited to enter the castle to meet His Father. Jesus immediately kneels and brings His face to the ground before The King. He bows, not out of fear of wrath, but out of a deep love and devotion and respect. I highly doubt any one of us would still be standing there thinking, “You want me to bow to You? I don’t think so.”

Jesus would bow because He has a full understanding of who God is and what He can do. He understands how great the Father’s love is for us. We would bow initially because we’re following the Son’s lead. Then, as we begin to get even a tiny inkling of the magnitude of God, we will find that praise and worship are a natural, gladly given, response.

“Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah” ~ Psalm 24:8-10 (ESV)

So, beginning this week we’re going to increase our time to 20 minutes beginning with praise and worship. By now, we have been praying scripture prayers on overcoming idolatry, unbelief, and pride, all of which attest to the awesomeness of God. We have also listed out many reasons God deserves our praise and worship through our week of “treasure hunting”. You can begin there with your time of praise and worship, but feel free to add on. You may also choose to sing.

”Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.”

~ Psalm 115:1 (NKJV)

Week 5 – We’re going to add to our daily habit of renewing our minds by increasing it to 20 minutes per day beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Also, keep that second appointment during the day that is about five minutes long. During this time, renew your mind specifically about your boundaries (what tempts you to want to break them, why you need boundaries…etc). Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

_______________________________________________________________________
Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 15 minutes a day & kept my food boundaries.
I’m down 0.2 the fourth week :)*
Challenge Total: 4.8 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
_______________________________________________________________________

SSMT 2017: Verse #3

Happy February! It’s time for a new verse! For more information, just check out Beth Moore’s post.

I’ve already posted my third passage over at Beth’s Blog and now I’m adding it here 🙂 My plan is to memorize Proverbs 3:13-18 between now and March 15th. So I’ll be working on 2 verses each two week cycle. This segment will be Proverbs 3:13-14.

I haven’t started decorating this one because I don’t have a purple highlighter but I will update this post with a completed photo in two weeks:

20170201_135123-2