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.

_______________________________________________________________________
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

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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 1

Today marks the start of the first week in a 12 week journey I am calling a “Renewing the Mind Intensive”. Members of the Taste For Truth Support Group have copies of the PDF version, but I do intend to share a bit out here for those wishing to follow along.

The first week, we are focusing on renewing our minds in regard to our spirits. So often we are ruled by our soul (emotions/personality) or our bodies (fleshly dwelling), but obviously this causes us a bit of trouble. If you’ve ever eaten for emotional reasons or been driven by physical cravings, you know what I mean.

As children of God, we don’t need to be ruled by those things, but rather have power through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to behave differently. We will address this more and more in the coming weeks, but this first week, we are going to focus on:

  • Spending 15 minutes a day renewing our minds.

We want to build a habit one step at a time. Whether you already know about renewing your mind or not, I’m going to ask you to begin your daily appointment with a time of confessing any unconfessed sin. Confession of sin isn’t for God’s benefit, it is for our own. When we agree with God about the sin in our lives we are better able to let go of those behaviors.

So, I’m asking you to get alone with God and ask Him if there is any unconfessed sin in your life. When He brings things to mind, write them down. Remember, God’s voice will be one of loving correction so if a voice of condemnation floods your mind, you’ll need to filter that through God’s truth. The difference might be:

  • Loving Correction: Jules, the way you spoke to your husband last night was hateful.
  • Condemnation: There you go again, you are such a hateful person. I can’t believe your husband puts up with you.

If you are a child of God, there is no condemnation, so really think about which voice you’re listening to. As you write each sin, humbly ask God’s forgiveness and ask Him to help you avoid making that mistake in the future. This doesn’t mean you’ll never mess up again, but your heart will be one of humility and this will alter how you view God and even how you interact with others.

As we go through this journey, it would be a shame to trade in our overeater identity with one of self-righteous pride. We will not be perfect this side of heaven and it is necessary to continually remind ourselves just how much we need God.

When you’re finished with your list and talking it over with God, tear it up, shred it, burn it… destroy it in some way. It is finished and you are forgiven. The Bible says that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and that He remembers them no more. By destroying the paper, you are agreeing to let go of those sins. You are symbolically forgiving yourself as well.

If the enemy… you know, that condemning voice… tries to beat you up with that sin again, stop, rebuke the enemy in Jesus’ name, and then turn that sin back over to God.

Use the rest of your 15 minutes to focus on who God is and what He can do. A great resource is Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore. I would suggest starting with the Chapter on “Overcoming Idolatry”. In the PDF, found only at the facebook group, you will find day by day suggestions for renewing your mind in regard to your spirit.

And that’s it for week 1…. 15 minutes renewing your mind beginning with confession of sins.

renewing the mind: crisis plan

This is the 4th post in this series on renewing the mind. If you’re just joining me, you can start here and move through them at your own pace.

It has taken me longer to complete this post than I intended, but here it is.

I am finding the pro-active approach to renewing my mind is very important. Before moving on to the topic of “crisis plans”, I would like to mention another proactive mind renewal tool that has been pivotal for me since I was a very young child. I suppose it is so natural to me that I didn’t even consider it to be something we must be proactive about, otherwise I would have listed it earlier.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~Psalm 119:11 (KJV)

The tool is scripture memory. I’ve been memorizing God’s word since I was able to talk. At a very young age I was involved in AWANA, and we memorized so many scriptures through that program. It’s true, I’ve been more lax about it as an adult, but I do find that God brings His words to my mind often. He has even brought scripture to my mind that I have never officially memorized. I don’t know if He’s just placing His Word in my mind, or if He’s bringing forward Words I’ve read (having read through the entire Bible several times over the years). Either way, He’ll prompt me with a passage or concept, and then I look it up and discover that it’s been in my Bible all along.

Obviously you can be re-active, but typically, for me anyway, that means it will take me longer to reach the point I could have started with. It takes longer because I end up wallowing in the thoughts longer and I’m relying on my ability to remember, “Oh right, I wanted to renew my mind when these thoughts came up again.” And then it takes me a bit to stop sulking because the “club of condemnation” almost always comes out.

However, if I’m already practicing renewing my mind before the crisis hits, I tend to catch those thoughts/behaviors before they’ve completely ruined my whole day (week or month) AND I turn to God sooner because my mind is already being trained in that direction. I’m also finding that I am less likely to turn my attention to new and old diet solutions so I can “fix myself”.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)

I hope I’m not beating a dead horse here by saying, being proactive about renewing your mind is key! Ok, now on to the “crisis plan”

Oh Lord, I’m in the middle of a crisis!

Even being proactive, I still have weak moments. Yes, my flesh still screams and demands it’s own way. Yes, I still live in this fallen world with all of its multitude of ways to infiltrate the mind. A crisis (big or small) is going to happen, but with God’s grace and a few tools, we’ll be ready for them. These are by no means the only tools you can use, so ask God what will work for you.

For starters, most days, you will probably find a cross drawn on my hand in ink. I generally have to draw a new one every morning. At first, I was really fussy about the way it looked, but now, I keep it simple, and if it doesn’t look perfect, it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying you must draw on yourself, or tattoo yourself. If you aren’t at peace with an exercise like this, it isn’t for you. For me, it is a physical reminder, and one with which I am perfectly at peace.This little cross reminds me that I already have a plan when temptations do arise.

Knowing what you will do when you encounter negative thoughts or lies buzzing about in your head is a HUGE step toward winning the battle (read: be proactive, have a plan). Here is a list of tools I’m currently using in my Crisis Plan:

I Deserve A Donut – Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but seriously, it is a big resource in a little book (there is also an app). The author lists numerous rationalizations and emotions that prompt us to eat when we aren’t hungry. You can scroll down the list to choose the one affecting you in the moment, then turn to that page for help. She includes questions to prayerfully ask yourself as you process what you’re thinking/feeling, as well as scripture to point you back to God. You can journal these, or you can work through them verbally. I typically do them verbally, like I’m having a conversation with God.

Truth Journal – Heidi from Thin Within did an example entry for this during one of the audio clips I’ve mentioned in the last three posts. Barb Raveling’s book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, arrived in the mail yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to really dive in, but a cursory glance through it showed that the idea comes from this book. I am really looking forward to reading it.

Basically, when your brain is going haywire, you pull out this journal (it’s separate from your Faith Journal). The object is to take the lies and, what Heidi calls, “little “t” truths” and replace them with big “T” truths. A little “t” truth is a lie that contains an element of truth; or maybe it’s true in that moment but doesn’t have to remain so. Like the statement, “I want to keep eating” (see photo). That was true when I wrote it, but it is a want or desire that can change. A big T truth is God’s Truth and it doesn’t change; or it may be a truth that contradicts a lie I’m telling myself… Like in the example where I say I’m “behind” on my work. The truth in that moment was that I wasn’t behind at all, I just wasn’t ahead of schedule any longer.20150618_121311 (2)

To do this exercise, you write 3-5 short sentences describing how you’re feeling, or what is bothering you, leaving a space between each line. Then you number each statement (there might be more than one statement per sentence). After you’ve numbered them, you address each statement individually and write the big “T” truth in the spaces between the lines. As you address the lies, draw a line through them. The photo is the first entry I did of this sort. I was feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and had a desire to procrastinate. I chose this one because it was less personal than other entries I’ve made 🙂 In the past, I would let these kinds of thoughts fester all day long. This one little exercise on that particular day kept me from turning the day into an “I feel sorry for myself” eat fest.

Essentially, my Truth Journal is the place where I make a conscious effort of turning my thoughts back to God… I’m taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ in a very literal sense through this exercise.

Praying God’s Word – As I’ve mentioned over and over, Beth Moore is one of my favorite Bible Teachers, hands down. The resource the Lord led her to put together through this book is one that blesses me. This is the book I used to make the scripture index cards I mentioned in the very first post of this series. If I know I’m struggling in a moment with a particular stronghold, I can turn straight to that section and begin praying scripture immediately. I keep the book with my reference materials, and the index cards I made could end up anywhere in the house. There have been days I have literally worn them around my neck (lanyard).

Praise Fest (or Feast) – This is another one of Heidi’s tools. Super simple. You just start telling God (or singing to Him) how awesome He is. I’ll admit, I typically turn to this one last. If my mind is still stuck after doing the other two things, I’ll do this. I’ve found that praising God for using these struggles to turn my heart and mind back to Him is a terrific way to turn the tables on the enemy. It’s funny how thanking God for the crisis moments, really changes the way you view them.

A praise fest can look like any number of things. You can turn on praise music (or just sing acapella). You can also say aloud your “God List”. A “God List” is a running list of God’s attributes, benefits, character traits…etc. I don’t keep an official God list. Instead, I’ve decided to have my Faith Journal do double duty by underlining words or phrases that describe God or His character. Then, I can flip open the journal and my eyes quickly land on those words/phrases and I can start praising God for Who He is (see photo). I decided that I would underline them in green because it reminds me that I am growing closer to Him by knowing Him better.

Anyway, the next time you’re feeling low, give the praise fest a try, it works and leads me to the next one.

Treasure Hunting – I can’t remember what Heidi calls this on the audio, but she describes listing ways in which God has shown His glory to you throughout the day. You can also make it a list of what you’re grateful for.

I’m trying to make a habit of asking God for one special treasure each day (proactive) that shows His love, His glory, His presence in the mundane… I don’t remember to ask every day, but on the days I have, He hasn’t disappointed. It can be as simple as noticing a beautiful flower on my walk, or as big as God prompting Peter Furler to play a certain song during a Third Day concert at Red Rocks. Before Peter shouted the song’s title (Mac Powell asked what he wanted to perform next), God whispered to my spirit, “This one’s for you, Julie.” How could I not feel treasured in that moment? God is so good to me.

Ok, before I start weeping with joy and this post ends up waiting as a draft for another day…let’s keep moving… Treasure hunting can also apply to those crisis moments (reactive) because it is really difficult to dwell on the negative when you’re turning your focus to how blessed you truly are.

Thought Busters – There are moments, of course, when I do not have time to sit and work through my junk. Watching my daughter’s belt test last night would be a perfect example. I’m not about to walk out of the dojang while she’s kicking her heart out to deal with the thoughts bombarding me. No, I need to be present for her. This is where I use a short scripture or phrase to blow a negative thought to bits instantly. Of course, I must have these memorized (proactively hiding His Word in your heart) for them to be available when I need them. Here are some of mine:

Thoughts that berate my appearance get shot down with, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Thoughts about defeat or feeling like I’ll never win this battle evaporate with, “My God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I could ask or imagine.”

Thoughts that make me feel like I’m not making any progress are stopped with, “All things are made beautiful in God’s time.”

Thoughts that prompt me to think that I’m not doing anything to “fix myself” (you know, that urgent feeling to start a new diet or exercise plan so you can whip yourself back into shape)… with these thoughts I go straight for the jugular with, “In Jesus Name, GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN! I am doing something about it by trusting the God who made me! My hope is in HIM and not in anything this world has to offer!”

Obviously you have to prepare for these moments ahead of time. You may use scripture and phrases God gives you while you’re Faith Journaling or Truth Journaling. Ask Him for the right words. Even if you find yourself in crisis mode, and do not have access to “physical tools”, remember, your most valuable resource is the God of the universe and He is accessible 24/7.

I highly doubt this will be the last time I write about renewing the mind, but this is the end of this series… for now anyway. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me through these posts. I hope we’ve learned that we can’t just sit around expecting God to change us without our involvement. He wants us to walk this transformation with Him. Our minds are continually taking in information, and if we aren’t actively renewing them with God’s Truth, they will conform to or continue in the pattern of this world.

Choose this day whom you will serve…

Update: Renewing the Mind: One Year+ Later

battle of the spouses: week 2

This past week I felt like I turned a corner in the journey. I don’t know what the scale says, but I know some really cool things happened. First of all, I was able to wear a pair of shorts that have been hiding out in my closet. Before this week I didn’t even want to attempt trying them on because they already symbolize “being overweight” to me. If I couldn’t get into them, I think I would have cried my eyes out. I was standing in my room complaining to God on Tuesday about not having decent looking shorts to wear (I can get on my junky/work in the yard/workout shorts still). I felt him say, “what about the khakis?” Of course I immediately said, “no, those won’t fit. I bet I can’t even get them over my rump.” He told me to trust Him, so I reluctantly went to the closet to get them.

Gasp. I wore them a few times this week and while they are snug, I could still breathe, which is always a plus when choosing clothes to wear. So, thankfully I have another pair of shorts I can wear now. I am on the cusp of my wardrobe really opening back up to me since gaining weight when I initially stopped dieting last Oct/Nov. Praise the Lord!

Another cool thing is that walking is getting much easier. I’m loving the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. With all the rain we’ve had, there are beautiful grasses and wildflowers growing all along the trail. My feet hurt less each day, and while my knee still acts a bit temperamental, even it seems to be getting stronger. I am seriously considering adding some jogging in week 3. The husband started running this past week, and I think I’m a tad jealous. So, I planned to ask God His thoughts on the matter for me. I felt like I was supposed to work up very slowly so that these exercises put as little strain on my body as possible. I do not want to stress out my adrenals again. No, I don’t know this for a “scientific fact” and I haven’t been told this by a doctor, it’s just what I think my body is communicating to me personally. Well, last night when Peter Furler sang, “I am free to run”, I was fairly confident that God was giving me the green light to add running. (More on Peter Furler in another post)

Up to this point, I have set some Fitbit daily step and mileage goals. My official setting has been 10K steps, 5 miles, and 30 active minutes; unofficially I’ve started shooting for 12K steps and 60 active minutes per day. I plan to bump up the “official” step count goal to 12K starting today. By God’s grace, I have met my Fitbit goals every day these past two weeks.

Although the shorts, and the increased stamina are great, I am loving that waiting for hunger is definitely easier. It is also becoming easier to avoid beating myself up if I eat past full, or if I take a bite of something when I’m not hungry. I’m getting better at “moving on” and turning it over to God.

How is this happening? I have only one explanation. This week I began the practice of daily renewing my mind. I’m sure I am far from perfect at it, but after listening to the Thin Within 4-part series on renewing your mind, I decided I couldn’t ignore this practice for another minute. I’m going to do an entire post on this topic alone, probably sometime this week, so keep an eye out for that. I know this practice has been the biggest breakthrough I’ve had since turning from the diet lie. God promises that His Word will not return void and I am confident that promise is at the root of the progress I’m seeing. I love the peace in my heart too.

Alrighty, so what did this week look like by the numbers? Here ya go:

Food Boundary: 4/7
Activity Minutes: 694

As you can see, I’m not doing this thing perfectly, but that is not my goal. Perfection is impossible and only frustrates me anyway, so I’m putting in the work with renewing my mind (post to come, I promise), and leaving the results to God. I truly believe that as my thoughts conform to God rather than to the pattern of this world, amazing things will happen.

I am still in the lead on the quarter acquisition by 15 quarters now. The wildcard here is what the scale will tell us at the end of week 4. In the past, the Husband has had the advantage there. Again, although I mention the scale, this is not my focus. I don’t know what I weigh and I don’t want to know until God tells me it’s ok (if He ever does).

So, that was week 2, let’s move on to week 3 shall we?