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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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:

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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 3

We are already beginning week three of our “Renewing the Mind Intensive” Challenge. I want to encourage you to continue renewing your mind each day. The mirror exercise mentioned last week is difficult for some in the beginning, so press on, it will get easier.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ~ Psalm 16:6-8 (NIV)

Choosing Food Boundaries

This week we are going to focus on our “body” and set some food boundaries. This is the place where I will probably lose some people. You’re thinking, “Wait, I thought this was a Bible study about weight loss, not a diet program!” Let me reassure you, this is NOT a diet program. I am not asking you to diet, I am asking you to consider setting some boundary lines which will benefit your body.

You guys know how much I love Barb Raveling’s books and website. She has a wonderful gift of being able to zero in on a lie like a heat seeking missile. Often in her books she talks about how we have boundaries in most areas of our lives, but seem to think it’s ridiculous to have boundaries in regard to food. Oops, guilty.

Let that sink in… how many areas of your life do you have boundaries? Certain words pop into my mind like: budgets, fidelity, manners, property lines, schedules, laws, oven mitts…etc. Yes, living within boundaries is something we already do and is absolutely good for us. However, but we don’t always feel this way when it comes to food. This is why it is so important to renew our minds about our boundaries. We must see them in the light of the truth.

The truth is, eating anything and everything we want, whenever and in whatever quantity we want, doesn’t feel great? Well, maybe temporarily, but go with me for a moment to the “morning after”. Think about all those times you’ve woken to that food hangover filled with regret. The bloating, the guilt, the frustration… etc., none of it is pleasant.

Give me a second… I’m really feeling this one… nope, not pleasant at all.

Boundaries benefit us because they prompt us to stop and assess the situation before we end up dishonoring God and our bodies. Choosing boundaries can be somewhat difficult because we often fear they will take the “fun” out of life. Come on people, is it really fun? Be honest.

Fortunately, our boundary lines can and will fall in pleasant places if we choose wisely and then renew our minds to stave off our fleshly desires to dance around outside them with reckless abandon.

One of my favorite resources for renewing my mind about my boundaries is Barb Raveling’s little book, I Deserve a Donut . If you’re joining me in this challenge, it is time to set some food boundaries (if you haven’t already). If you aren’t sure what boundaries to set, turn to the “Appendix: Boundaries” section of I Deserve a Donut. Barb has a list of questions and some other information about “Lifelong boundaries”. Or you can check out these links:

Choosing Your Boundaries…

Now it’s time to make some decisions. We’re going to choose a set of healthful food boundaries today, or at least by the end of week 3 (next Friday).

In deciding on my own boundaries, I’ve come up with some criteria that has helped me:

  • Simple – too many rules increases my risk of breaking them and can feel overwhelming to keep.
  • Clear – I know exactly where the lines are – no guessing. Saying, “Eat less sugar” is really vague and could be subject to interpretation… “Well, I ate less sugar today than yesterday” or “I ate less sugar than at lunch” or “I ate less sugar than my husband.” Where is the line? How do I know if I’ve avoided sugar enough to honestly say I’ve lived within my boundary line? I don’t. When my boundaries are unclear, they leave a gaping door for the enemy to convince me I’ve blown them when I haven’t… or I’ve kept them when I haven’t.
  • Good Fit – my boundaries are loose enough to allow for real life but tight enough to still support my goals (maintenance, weight loss, overcoming food worship, health). That line should say, “This is far enough, take it up with God.”
  • Yours – don’t choose a set of boundaries simply because someone else is doing it. We’ve all fallen for it. A friend shares how she’s dropped a ridiculous amount of weight doing such and such… so naturally, we think the diet must be the answer. This is not a “one size fits all” type of thing. Sometimes we have to swim against the current, and that’s ok. If I “own” my boundaries I’ll be less likely to be swayed by every mention of every diet out there.

 Start by writing out what you need from a set of boundaries and then find some plans that meet those requirements. Next, write your boundaries on a separate sheet of paper. Make sure they meet the list above.

On the same piece of paper, list all the reasons you love these boundaries. That’s right, I want you to love your boundaries… not the same way you love God or your family of course. That would be silly.

Now you’re ready to begin living and moving and “being” within these boundary lines.

Week 3 – we’re going to continue building the habit to renew our minds for at least 15 minutes per day beginning with confession of sins and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 15 minutes with any method you wish focusing on renewing your mind about your body (boundaries). I’m going to suggest the chapter on “Overcoming Pride” from Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and the “Lies that Make You Eat” section of I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling (particularly the “I’ll Start Tomorrow” questions/verses).

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

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 15 minutes every day last week.
I’m up 1 the second week 🙂

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SSMT 2017: Verse #2

It’s already the 15th of January and that means it’s time for a new verse! If you aren’t sure what “SSMT” is, just check out Beth Moore’s post for more information.

I’ve already posted my second verse over at Beth’s Blog and now I’m adding it here 🙂 I’m choosing Hebrews 13:5 because one of my themes lately has been “learning contentment”. Since I have financial goals I hope to reach this year, I thought it seemed appropriate to choose a verse which marries money and contentment.

As I mentioned in my “verse #1 post“,  I plan to decorate each index card. Here’s the one for January 15th:

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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 2

It is time to move to week 2 of our “Renewing the Mind Intensive” Challenge. Those who are following along, I hope you’ve enjoyed renewing your mind for at least 15 minutes a day. I pray you’re also feeling lighter by getting those unconfessed sins out of your way.

This week we are going to focus on our “soul”. Beth Moore says “the soul represents the seat of our emotions and our personality.[1]”

If you’re an emotional eater, you know what that does to you. When our emotions drive us, we’re probably going to be in trouble. In the past, I’ve been one to eat no matter what emotion I’m experiencing. Also, I believed for a long time, this was out of my control.

You know the old Lays potato chip commercial with the tagline “no one can eat just one?” (WARNING, the link contains a potato chip commercial designed to make you want potato chips so don’t view it if you think it might trigger a potato chip binge) Well, I fell for this about a lot of things. I believed I couldn’t resist that temptation. Partly because my desire to eat those things was driven by an attempt to stuff down my emotions, and partly because I believed this was just “who I was”… my personality.

While my personality makes me “uniquely me” , what I believe about my personality plays a pivotal role in my eating habits too. If I believe myself to be a “chocoholic” or a “sugar addict” or the family “garbage disposal”… guess what I will act upon? That’s right.

Every personality trait has a positive and negative side side. Someone who is passionate can use that passion for good, or it can get them into a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, we often live out the negative aspects more than the positive. As we grow up, we are labeled along the way (whether intentional or not) based on our personality or how we process emotions (such as “You’re too sensitive” or “You were born old” or “you are totally out of control”). Perhaps we are still acting on those labels to this day.

When we believe these things about ourselves, our views become warped and, if we know Christ as Savior, we are acting on false information. Unfortunately, most believers keep these labels even after Christ has set them free.

It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. So, every morning this week we’re going to speak the truth about who we are in Christ, directly to our souls.

Below you’ll find a short list, but I encourage you to look up more verses about your true identity. A google search will return countless references. Next, write down the three “In Christ I am…” statements you struggle with believing the most. One look at your behavior with food/weight/body image should be a clue as to which ones you aren’t believing.

I realize you may have more than three (I certainly do), but we’re going to begin with just three for now. Place this list on your bathroom mirror (or nearby). Every morning, we’re going to say them in the mirror. That’s right, look yourself in the eye. It will probably feel very awkward at first. In fact, everything in you may scream, “this isn’t true!”

My friend, if God says this is who you are in Christ, it is most certainly true. You may not be living it out at this point, but it is the truth. So, let’s get started!

In Christ…

I am wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am forgiven (Colossians 2:13)
I am loved (1 Peter 1:5)
I am not condemned (Romans 8:1-2)
I am set free (Romans 8:1-2)
I am light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14)
I am protected (1 John 5:18)
I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)
I am a victor (1 John 5:4)
I am healed by his stripes (Isaiah 53:6)
I am God’s beloved (Romans 1:7 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13)
I am God’s temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:16)
I am able to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13)
I am able to defeat the enemy (Revelations 12:11)
I am never separated from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39)
I am secure (John 10:28-29)

Week 2 – we’re going to continue building the habit to renew our minds for at least 15 minutes per day beginning with confession of sins and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 15 minutes with any method you wish focusing on renewing your mind about your soul (emotions/personality). I’m going to suggest the chapter on “Overcoming Unbelief” from Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and the “Emotions” section of I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

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

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 15 minutes every day last week.
I’m Down 5 the first week 🙂

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[1] Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds, Beth Moore, page 149