My Fitness

Friday, August 30, 2013

self-esteem (life under control week 6 day 1)

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3 ESV)

Looking at the above verse one might jump to the conclusion that he should think lowly of himself. But "sober judgment" does not mean to lie to yourself about your worth. But also don't think that you are greater than you are. I've often come across some of the most arrogant Christians who are at the same time the most insecure Christians. Their confusion can be remedied by first finding their identity in Christ (for the insecurity), next by actually loving others (for the arrogance), and finally by evaluating themselves honestly (for balance). If you don't know how to evaluate yourself honestly ask your siblings.

In Romans 12:2, the previous verse to the one listed above, the author encourages us to not be conformed to the image of the world. The idea that these verses are next to each other implies that the world often thinks of itself more highly than it should. Look at Hollywood or Congress. It's embarrassing that these fellow Americans parade themselves around as our representatives thinking that they have all the answers all while neglecting Christ and the only reason worth living. Don't conform yourself to them.

What does Hollywood think? Hollywood tells us that beauty defines you and tells you what beauty is. Beauty itself is deceptive. But Hollywood Beauty is the most deceptive of all. And what of popularity? and sex? and "finding oneself"? and getting all the right toys? Hollywood is shallow and quickly drained of any value.

And what of Congress, Senate, and the rest of the political realm? Do you have enough power? Do you have enough money? Morals don't matter as long as a Lobbyist is lining your coat pockets. These men and women disregard their own Maker not realizing that all power comes from him. They will be held accountable for every decision even if they die before that day.

This is the world. Shallow celebrities and corrupt government. Why imitate them when you could pick up your cross and die daily to follow the difficult path Christ has walked first? Obviously, the wide road is easier. It might be "glorious" as much as the world can offer in the field of glory. No one wants to have to pick up their cross, implying they carry their death around with them. But it is a death to slavery and to sin; a death to a separation form God. No one want to die daily! That's crazy! Until you realize Christ already died for you and your daily death is a death to what separates you from him; reforming you into his image, daily. The road is narrow and while the yoke is easy in the sense that it is simple it is difficult to overcome sin and be victorious. But God will never ask us to do something that through his strength we are unable to achieve. Christ's blood paves the way to our freedom, we must only walk in his footsteps.

If we can remember Christ's sacrifice for each of us, individually, that should keep arrogance far from us. If you still struggle with pride, then you might not fully understand what Christ did and said. It's funny how many Seminary Professors I have met that were the most humble and sweet men. But the exact opposite would be said of their middle-aged pupils! How strange! The men who knew the most were humble enough to admit it was only by God's grace and the pupils who knew significantly less were always strutting their feathers attempting to foolishly show off how much they know. This must be what we look like on a Divine scale! So don't be arrogant.

I grew up with the idea that "being humble" meant denying your strengths and talents. I was told that you should never have to say what you're good at, that others should be able to know without you telling them. But that is simply not what humility is. If someone asks, "Are you good at This?" You are allowed to evaluate yourself and give an honest opinion. I've messed up so many opportunities by saying, "oh I'll let you decide for yourself." Because I was taught to be that way. Being humble doesn't mean you don't take pride in your work or children's accomplishments. Being humble is simply and only acknowledging the source of your achievement. "By the grace of God, yes I am good at that."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

memory verses (life under control week 5 day 7)

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:12 ESV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
(Romans 15:13 ESV)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
(Philippians 4:8 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:12-13 ESV)

I've memorized exactly none of these verses. It seems right as I set to start memorizing my life became a hectic blur. We decided to buy a house right as I was supposed to start homeschooling my preschoolers and I got a second job all while pregnant. Excuses abound. It might be considered a temptation to use these reasons as excuses, but I'd rather see these reasons as testing to see if I will apply the very verses to my attempt at memorization: I can do all thing through him who gives me the strength. I committed myself to memorizing Philippians, of which I have not done any either. I didn't give myself a time frame. Self-discipline is difficult. I want to memorize Scripture but memorization is not my strength. Instead of giving-up, to me this means I must try harder. I see my weakness as a chance for improvement and not a way of escaping responsibility.

Meanwhile, Wednesday early evening I hurt my back rather significantly and would appreciate any prayers for a quick healing. I will spend all day today in bed. I hope to be well soon.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

praying through scripture (life under control week 5 day 6)

You might find it beneficial to keep track of key verses that reflect on your specific needs. Then, go back to these verses and use them as a guide for your prayers:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
Heavenly Father, help me to lay aside the every weight and my sin that clings so closely. Help me to run with endurance, especially on days when I'm so tired, this race you've set before me. Empower me to focus on Jesus as I remember how he perfected my faith by enduring the cross, dying, and resurrecting. 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the
flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
(Galatians 5:16-26 ESV)

Lord God, empower me by your Spirit. Empower me to not gratify the desires of my flesh. Empower me to do the things of the Spirit; those things that I want to do. Help me in my specific area of struggle. Empower me to be filled with the Spirit and to have all fruit that is evident of a life empower by the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let me keep in step with the Spirit. Let me not become conceited or envious. 

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
(1 John 2:16-17 ESV)
Holy Father, in your Word you tell me that the desires of flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from YOU but from the world and that the world is passing away along with its desires. You tell me that whoever does your will abides forever with you. I want to live forever with you. Please guide me and empower me to do your will today and always because I love you. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

lust, greed, and envy (life under control week 5 day 5)

Today in Life Under Control Bible study, the author just went over everything that has been discussed in the past few days. It seems to me that if you struggle with these or any other sin, there is one antidote.  I personally struggle with stress which comes from the fear of man in my specific situation. I need to remember that I can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 ESV) If I love God the way I claim, and I am empowered by the Spirit as HE claims, then my fear of man will dwindle as I put his word into practice; For love is the antidote to sin. We love because he first loved us and gave himself to be our propitiation (go read all of 1 John 4).

“Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

Monday, August 26, 2013

envy - comparison out of control (life under control week 5 day 4)

Envy hates others for perceived advantages. "Envy" means a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another's advantages; a resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires. 
In the Bible there are many times that envy was the root to harmful actions. (Jesus was handed over to be crucified, Matt 27:18; Joseph was sold into slavery, Acts 7:9; Paul was persecuted, Acts 13:45) In your personal life I'm sure you can think of times that you suspected the hurtful actions of other was due to some unknown envy toward you. Or perhaps you can more distinctly and confidently remember those times that you have hurt others unjustly because you were envious of them. Envy in our hearts is a direct attack on God's word. When we are envious, we are telling God he is a liar; for "my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19 ESV) Instead, we need to keep a heavenly perspective and not let our own desires become ungodly.

Mark 7:21-23 states that envy is an evil that comes from the heart and defiles a person. In Romans 1:28 and following, Paul describes those who envy as debased, not seeking the things of God. Galatians 5:19-26 describes those who envy as not inheriting salvation and Paul encourages us to edify each other instead of being envious. Titus 3 talks about how we were all once envious haters but through the blood of Christ and the regeneration of the Spirit we were made free! So walk in freedom!

Envy will only bring you down and lead you to hurt others. Pray for contentment and be free from envy. When you see others on Facebook enjoying what you think you are entitled to, instead rejoice with them in their goodness. Laugh with those who laugh and mourn with those who mourn. But always let God shape your idea of what you "deserve" in life.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

greed - wants out of control (life under control week 5 day 3)

"Greed means an excessive desire for getting or having something, especially wealth; a desire for more than one needs or deserves, wanting or taking all one can get with no thought of others." We can see that lust and greed are very closely related to the point that someone could confuse one for the other. Well, sin is sin no matter what name you call it. Wether lust or greed, these idols keep us from intimacy with God.

Contentment continues to be elusive as long as SIN undercuts satisfaction. Replace "SIN" with your idol of choice.

Greed (or covetousness) even made God's Top Ten. Don't do it. When you find yourself being greedy or coveting something, bring it to God and ask him to straighten out your path. How? In Romans, we find the answer is directly to love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm. Love is the fulfillment of the law. "Do not covet" by "loving your neighbor". We can pray that we would grow in love!
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
(Ephesians 5:5 ESV)
Colossians 3:5 says we are to do away with "covetousness, which is idolatry." And in verse 12 starts the remedy: Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

In fact, all 17 verses that start out the third chapter of Colossians is worth reading in topic right now. I encourage you to read it: Colossians 3:1-17. I like these verses because it states very clearly and simplistically a "do not" immediately followed with the "do instead".

Heavenly Father, grant me contentment and satisfaction in life based on my relationship with You. Lord God, I pray for freedom from any kind of greed that may come into my life. Help me keep my eyes focused only on you.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

lust - desire out of control (life under control week 5 day 2)

In short, don't lust. Life Under Control defines lust as a desire to gratify the senses or appetite; to feel an intense desire for something. I would add that desire to gratify by itself is not bad, but when placed above the well being of others or put outside the will of God or even above God is when that desire, that lust, becomes an idol.

The Bible uses lust as a characteristic of unbelievers (1 Ths 4:5) and evidence of a sinful nature (2 Pt 2:10). Whether one lusts for money, power, possessions, sex, or even food, the Bible clearly labels these as idolatrous.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:10-11 ESV)

God wants us to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness..." (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

When we pour ourselves into the Word through Scripture reading and prayer, idols will begin to be replaced with God himself. We might not live to see the day when we are idol-free in this earthly bodies, but our Redeemer has promised us eternal life that will see our new bodies idol-free in godly perfection.

It's no wonder that "lust" is considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins. When lust takes over our hearts and minds, we push the Spirit out. How can we live without the Spirit?

Friday, August 23, 2013

contentment (life under control week 5 day 1)

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:12-13 ESV)
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

The secret: Christ is enough!

Look at the three big roots of discontentment: lust, greed, and envy. 

Lust is desiring something for self sexual gratification. Desire for God-glorifying reasons is good. We should desire intimacy with Christ, godly offspring, a happy spouse, and even a healthy sex life. But when someone focuses on sexual gratification their focus is off God and that person will turn to sex outside of God-created boundaries, whether through images, imagination, someone other than their spouse, or some other deviance. 

Greed is an intense desire for something of this world. For the Christian, greed isn't even logical. All things on this earth are going to be destroyed whether naturally or not. When someone's focus is on obtaining the best clothing, the biggest house, the best body, the newest car, or whatever else the neighbors have, their focus is once again off God. Why do that when the Christian knows that the things of God are eternal? 

Envy is feeling discontent without the possessions of another. Peace in God will eradicate envy. God blesses some with material possessions. Feelings of envy and entitlement are not from God. If one can identify these feelings and realize that he has already been blessed with far more than he deserves, perspective and gratefulness will rule in his life.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

God's desire (life under control week 4 day 7)

"God equips you with His word and with prayer to bring under submission any unhealthy or sinful desires you may have...God's desire is for you to be successful in all your endeavors that are according to His will for your life."

Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
(Psalm 26:2-3 ESV)

Sometimes praying God's will and desire when it's contrary to our own will and desire can be difficult. Sometimes I have to pray that I will be willing to pray for God's will because my heart just is not in it. God is faithful. Don't be led by your feelings. Don't choose to follow God when "you're ready" as if God doesn't require your all. If you are controlled by fear, you are not controlled by God and his Spirit is not in you. Pray that fear would leave you. Pray that you would be able to do what God wants you to do.

Imagine how ridiculous the Bible would be if it was filled of stories of people terrified to do what God wanted because they would experience pain? Where would most of our New Testament be? I'm terrified I'll go through discomfort so I won't go do what God has me do...never mind that Jesus suffered a great deal to save your soul from hell. I'm not ready to do what God wants (let me go bury my parents first)...God would NEVER ask anyone to do something until s/he is ready - wait, no. That's wrong. God always commands us to do things before we're ready so that we will rely on HIS strength and not our own. I don't want to do what God wants, quite frankly (reminds me of Jonah and Nineveh). Oh, that's okay, then. Just don't. That never has bad consequences. But I really just want to ENJOY my life right now. What God wants is to steal, kill, and end my joy. I know what's best. I do what I want to do. God is a joy-killer. And he just has bad timing...God knows nothing about how to time things and he's really bad about spacing major events. We should always try to control as much as possible in life. Giving God control is always a bad idea. And finally, before I go choke on my sarcasm, no one should ever tell anyone that they are wrong about anything. That's between them and God...and maybe a spouse. It's MY body. MY life. NOT God's. Not yours. Who are you to judge me? I FEEL good about my decisions. My conscious is clear.

ok, I'm done. That above paragraph just got a bit out of control. This is why I stay out of these type of conversations in real life. In the end, even Christians aren't interested in hearing sound Biblical doctrine. And I take it out on my poor blog. Basically, just read the Word and be prepared to defend your actions (not to me, I don't care what you do, but to God who does care) with the Word.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

reflection on control (life under control week 4 day 6)

Charles Stanley wrote In Touch with God. He reflected at one point about how Jesus defeated Satan in the dessert when Satan was trying to tempt him. If we are to follow Jesus' example, what should we do?
I am so glad Jesus did not outsmart Satan in a battle of the minds. I have tried that and failed miserably. I am glad He did not discuss the temptation with Satan and resist him that way. Eve tried that, and she got nowhere. I am glad Jesus did not use raw willpower, though I imagine He could have. My willpower is pretty useless when Satan really turns on the steam. Jesus verbally confronted Satan with the truth and eventually, Satan gave up and left. God's Word takes you right to the heart of the matter. It allows you to see things for what they really are. 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 ESV)

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 6:14 ESV)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

control through spiritual caution (life under control week 4 day 5)

err on the side of caution

In 1 Corinthians 10:12 we are cautioned to "take heed" in the areas we think we are strong in.

Ephesians 5:11 says, "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them."
(Ephesians 5:11 ESV) What do you think that means? Expose the works of darkness in the entire world or in my own life? If just my life, this would mean confession of sin and willingness to turn from it in my own walk. Once I see an area of darkness in my life, I should turn form it. If I had someone to keep me accountable, I would be more successful.

Hebrews chapter 2 starts of with the warning to pay attention to what we've heard so we will not stray from it. If we don't stay close to the Word, and if we allow ungodly influence more mental space than Scripture specifically (not just godly writings), then it will lead us away from God. Maybe we might hear someone twist Scripture or pervert an attribute of God and our mind will only be emptied of what the Bible calls Spiritual Armor.

First Peter 5:8 says to be watchful for the Devil. If we empty our mind of Scripture, and stop confessing our sins because we think we are strong (maybe we think we have Scripture memorized or we are done sinning), the Devil will pounce on you at your weak and vulnerable state.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 1:5-2:1 ESV)

The above indented paragraphs are so powerful. In God there is no darkness at all. That means if we want to be in God, then we can't have darkness in us. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin! When we accept Christ's sacrifice, we are cleansed. We allow the working of the Spirit to continually cleanse us by confession. If you cannot say which act of sin you have committed, then darkness is still in you. We must ask God to reveal our faults that are hidden to us (even if the rest of the world sees our sins quite clearly). Because we do still sin, but Jesus died for us, he advocates on our behalf. His righteousness covers our faults. The idea here is to remain humble and contrite, willing to change any ways we learn are unpleasing to God.

Monday, August 19, 2013

control in times of weakness (life under control week 4 day 4)

"Should you seek to keep your life under control simply to avoid negative consequences? No. You have a far more important reason - to honor Christ with your life."

We are to live a life worthy of our calling:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3, ESV) may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lordfully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10, ESV)

My motivation for living a godly life isn't fear of God's punishment or to try to earn his favor. I have to remind myself of this often. "I am saved by grace through faith because God said so not because of anything I've done or not done," I tell myself on a regular basis.

He has given us strength to face, victoriously, the struggles that come into our lives and threaten to overcome us. Our strength as Christians is in his might (Eph 6:10) and God is able to do more than we even think or imagine (Eph 3:20). We can remain steady on the course God has sent us on because he is more than able and willing to do what he promised (Rom 4:20-21). Knowing this we fight our circumstances with Christ's strength (Col 1:29) by turning to him in prayer and his Word, for he has already equipped us with everything we need to face every situation concerning godliness through the knowledge of him i.e. read the Bible (2 Peter 1:3).

The way I see it then is that there are two possibilities when a Christian is a failure. Either they weren't walking in the Spirit, or their failure is only in the eyes of man, whereas God see a successful obedient child doing exactly what God called him to do.

The theme I am sensing through this Bible study is that a successful life is one that is devoted to God through prayer, and Scripture, and obedience.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

control of temptation (life under control week 4 day 3)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)
A few weeks ago I was finding my life too difficult to handle. I tried to remind myself of people who have it truly difficult so I would be more appreciative but I couldn't get out of my funk. Eight days I felt terrible. I cried and cried and cried. I had no way of escape. Then I finally found my strength in the Lord. God is always the way of escape for those who trust in Him. It can be difficult to trust God. He may seem distant or uninterested in our daily lives. Our perception and reality, as expressed through God's Word, are often different. Do I trust my emotions? Do I trust my income? Do I trust my eyesight? Do I trust comfort? Do I trust my expectations, failed or realized? Or do I trust God?

Usually I trust God. The more I pour myself into His Word, the more He pours His Word into me. God never promised to make things easy. Can you imagine if Paul decided he didn't want to have yet another city treat him poorly? He was so giving and selfless. I want to be like Paul...actually, no I don't. His life sucked. I want to be like Paul as long as I get everything I want and I don't have to go through any pain or discomfort. I think if you were honest with yourself, you just might come to the same conclusion. Admitting my idol of ease and comfort allows me to offer it to God and He is able to realign my will with His.

I confess my sin.
He forgives my sin.
He corrects my sin.
I live more aligned to His image.

Then, later, He points out another area in need of improvement. [It can be painful like walking through a fire at times (Zechariah 13:9). I want and need to be refined. It is not pleasant every time. Sometimes conviction is very easy to implement and sometimes not.]

Anyway, how can I use this scripture to help me control my temptation?

1. Temptation is common: I'm not the only person to have ever felt like their life was spinning out of control. God took care of them and He's going to take care of me too. I'm not the only person tempted to over eat or be lazy or yell at my kids. Others have overcome these temptations. My life is pretty boring, actually. My temptations are pretty mild.

2. God is faithful: Even when I accuse Him of leaving me, He doesn't leave me. He doesn't stop loving me. He doesn't decide to just leave and let me face my temptation alone. He won't leave me in the midst of my temptation.

3. The limits are set: He will not let me tempted beyond my ability. But my ability rests in my reliance on His strength. God cannot be tempted nor does He tempt anyone (James 1:13). If I am resting on His ability and He cannot be tempted, then there is no temptation I need fear. He is my strength. Psalm 28:8 says "The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed." I have the anointing of the Spirit, therefore I can take refuge from temptation in God.

4. There's always a way out: Sometimes "the way of escape" is an actual physical path that leads away from the temptation. Often the path of escape was paved millennia ago on the cross when Jesus died and allowed us to live in communion with Him. He is our way of escape. If I find some temptation too unbearable I need to make sure I and buried in the Word and in Prayer. Then maybe I just need to take a nap.

5. You can stand the pressure: Endurance isn't necessarily fun or easy. Quite the opposite in my experience. Since I'm relying on God's strength, I can handle it. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

"...consider all that Christ has done for you. He endured the agony of the Cross to set you free from sin. His grace has given you a new life. He promises to always be with you through the Holy Spirit who lives in you. THe best thanks you can give God is to live your life in His control."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

foundations for change (life under control week 4 day 2) also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:11-13, ESV)

Think of a situation that you might act in a displeasing and ungodly way. How do you handle it? Let's consider gluttony in my example.

Scenario: I'm not even hungry. In fact, I just ate a very filling meal. There's a chocolate cake though that I just NEED to indulge in or I will be left completely unfulfilled in life. I can't wait until tomorrow. All of my happiness rests on me eating some cake...just one tiny slice that might turn into a big slice, or two, or maybe just the entire cake. I've had a hard day. I deserve it. I don't like my job. My kids or co-workers were mean to me today. I prayed about it and feel that God wants me to eat the cake. And I'm not going to share it because that means less happiness for me.

Principle 1: Consider myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
I don't have to eat any cake. I remind myself of who I am in Jesus. Gluttony doesn't need to reign in my heart. If I've had a hard day, I should curl up on the sofa and read a Psalm, listen to some Gaelic instrumental music, and maybe light a candle.

Principle 2: Do not let sin reign.
I have a choice. I can let my former self gain greater control by indulging her and allowing her to desecrate the temple of God or I can let the Spirit guide me to a better answer. Maybe I should take a stroll with just me and God. Explain my hard day and let him work within my soul. And maybe when I get back I can have a regular slice of cake to the glory of God and not to satiate my sinful need to find comfort in some idol and not the Great Comforter Himself.

Principle 3: Offer every part of my life to God.
I can symbolically offer the cake to God. Maybe he would tell me to just throw the entire thing in the trash. Am I willing to do that? Or perhaps a better idea (better than eating the entire cake, not better than obey God to throw it away) is to cut the cake up into predetermined appropriate sizes and put them in storage containers. There are ways to escape the sinful desires in our hearts because those desires no longer reign. Maybe I should just stop making cakes if this is a known area of weakness.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (I John 1:8-10)
I've heard many people say things like, "Of course I'm sinner. Everyone is. I'm not perfect. I need Jesus." But when you ask them what specific sin they have committed, they draw a blank. Sure, in the general sense of "sinner" they're a sinner, but they don't truly believe that they sin. They need Jesus to escape from hell not to escape their sin. Take verse 9 to heart: confess your sin. If you cannot articulate your sin, are you admitting it? Are you confessing it? If you think you have no sin to confess since that one time when you were 9 and you took your brother's toy without asking, do you have the Spirit in you? Ask your brother. He'll tell you your sins.

The gluttony scenario I wrote about might seem extraordinary and ridiculous, but it is something I have been through many times. If not cake, then some other food. While I have never eaten an entire cake, it was definitely a temptation. I had a really bad day and I deserved it after all. (please hear the sarcasm in my tone)

Confession does not need to be to a priest in a confessional booth. We already have the only Priest and Intercessor we need and that is the man, Jesus Christ who made propitiation for our sins and advocates before the Holy Judge on our behalf. You may only need to confess your sin to God. You may need to confess to a fellow believer. You will definitely not need to ever deny your sin and lie about it. Find someone you trust, and confess.

My final thought is that confession without contrition is useless. You may as well be bragging. You may need help if it is a sin that you fall into regularly. Get help. But every day is a new day. Everyday His mercies are new. He knows your heart better than you do which is why the Psalmist says "search my heart". However, just because you are blind to your own faults, does not mean that your sins are so righteously lofty! It just means you deaf, dumb, or blind, spiritually speaking. We all have our own personal heresies. The sooner you can admit it, the sooner the Spirit can work on you.

Friday, August 16, 2013

actions under control (life under control week 4 day 1)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV) 

In the very beginning, our parents in the Garden of Eden tried to shift their blame to each other. Even if we convince the other person that our actions are their fault, God is not fooled and He will hold us accountable for our actions. 

Have you ever approached a brother or sister and confronted them in love stating that they were doing wrong? Often the response is, "well, you're not perfect yourself" or "well, you do this other thing that's bad" or even "I can't help it. it's my culture." (It's a huge pet-peve of mine when people blame and hide behind their "culture" as if that makes their action legitimate. b.s.) Shifting the focus and blame off themselves to anywhere else is common and unproductive. If the Spirit or a fellow Christian points out an error in us we must be brave enough to allow the Spirit to cleanse our impurity. As I've written so many times already, sometimes it means living differently than how we foresaw our lives. 

Maybe you are convicted of trying to play God with your fertility and instead submit to His just might end up serving God by serving your family of 10! And in the end will you be able to look at any of those children and say, "You were not worth it" or "I'm glad we got a house instead of that child"? What does God value? 

Does God want you to stay in that relationship where your friend is constantly leading you into sin? Whether sexual sin or gossip, does it glorify God? You may be afraid of being lonely, but God want to fill that place in your heart. He wants to be the One you come to for friendship and advice. He wants to be your Comforter.

Or maybe you find yourself making quite a bit of money at your job but you find out that some of the businesses practices don't settle with your conscious. Maybe it's technically legal and maybe not. There are plenty of legal activities that are immoral. Does God want you to stay there or take a cut in pay and go with a more ethical job? 

You can overcome any sin now that Christ resides in your heart. And if He doesn't then you can ask Him to come and cleanse you and to send His Holy Spirit to reside in your heart, mind, and actions. If you're not a Christian, or are unsure if you are truly Saved, follow this link and read through it. Once we were slaves to sin, but now we are set free and enslaved to righteousness. Just how a seed must let go of its former life, its tree. The seed dies and falls to the ground. But unless it dies it will not be able to grow into a new tree.

Heavenly Father, I put my trust in you as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for my sin. Lord God. though my body be a slave to sin, give me freedom that only Christ can give to those who trust in Him as Savior.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

use prayer and the word (life under control week 3 day 7)

Use prayer and Scripture, and even pray Scripture, as your weapon against the principalities of this world. When you are under attack or just suspect you are under attack, pray.

Who is like Your children, O God, a people saved by the Lord? You are my shield and helper and my glorious sword. Cause my enemy to cower, Lord! Trample down his high places (Deuteronomy 33:29)
Lord God, I will shout for joy when You make me victorious, and I will lift a banner in the name of my God! Please, Lord, grant these requests (Psalm 20:5).
Father, help me to understand that Satan, the ultimate thief, comes only to steal and kill and destroy; You came that I could have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Heavenly Father, keep my thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever us lovely, whatever is admirable; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, let me think about it (Philippians 4:8).

click for link to this excellent resource

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God-pleasing thoughts (life under control week 3 day 6)

One thought for today. What do you think of this? Is it enough to memorize scripture and to know it backwards and forwards? Will that be enough to keep me from giving Satan a foothold? I think for me, yes, because I already have the Holy Spirit, alive and active in my soul. But without the Spirit, no amount of memorization will help you.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

Psalm 19:14

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

only what is excellent and praiseworthy (life under control week 3 day 5)

whatever is excellent and anything worthy of praise

"You know you need to praise God, but are you living your life in such a way that God can praise you?"

Don't settle for mediocrity. One thing that saddens me is hearing fellow Christians not think and just follow whatever politician or pastor or doctor or doctrine or dogma or trendy whatever. They rationalize it by saying it sounded good or made them feel good or they "really felt the Spirit" but they didn't compare it to Scripture. I'm guilty of this too. It's a lesson I learned and sometimes forget to put into practice. One thing about you (or me) and your pastor (or mine): if you agree with EVERYTHING your pastor says, one of you is not thinking. I have never ever been to a church where I agree with everything. There are some points that are more important than others. You have to find a congregation where you can grow Spiritually and where your disagreements are trivial. Doing this is most excellent.

But I digress. Mediocre thoughts are thoughts that sound like, "I know God told me to apply for that job at the bank but I won't get it. I'm going to be stuck at this gas station forever." If God's told you to do something, believe He has a purpose for it. It might not be that this guy gets the job at the bank, but he definitely won't get it with that attitude. Maybe the thought is, "I really want a godly husband and I know that God has promised me one, but who would ever love a gal like me?" Well, if you are truly a godly gal, of course a godly guy is going to love you. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Excellent thoughts sound like this, "I don't know why God has me at this crappy job but I know that I can be a light for Him here and hopefully lead some coworkers to Christ." Or maybe for our love-struck gal, "I know God has a godly husband for me, and until that man comes my way I'm going to continue to strive for excellence in every area of my life even if I'm a 62-year old first time bride."

[Positive thinking doesn't necessarily bring about "positive" results, but it will always make you a more pleasant person. I put positive in quotes because often what God sees as positive and what we see as positive aren't the same. I can think positively that I'll make a million dollars, but God may see that as a negative action.]

Excellence is the only thing worth of praise. Excellent work, not mediocre work, is worthy of praise. Excellent thinking is worthy of praise, not lazy mediocre thinking. "That's good enough" could be indicative of mediocrity, and may not be worthy of praise. Consider what is 'good enough' and evaluate if it is truly excellent or not. Do all as for the Lord! (so hard!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

only lovely or admirable (life under control week 3 day 4)

whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable (ESV)

(I like the NIV for its ease of reading, but I like the ESV for its accuracy.)

When the Bible uses "lovely" to describe something to think upon, it doesn't mean just physical beauty but rather more deeply spiritual beauty. In the spiritual realm, what is lovely? God looks at the inner man, and if Jesus is there, then s/he is lovely. When God looks at the lyrics to a poorly tuned song, he looks for a joyful noise of praise toward Himself, and it is lovely. When we think on lovely things, these things should draw us into worship of God. If we stop and simply admire the thing, then we have stopped too soon.

Admirable: arousing or deserving respect and approval
Commendable: deserving praise
(If I had a Greek Bible, I'd use Greek definitions. I thought I had one, but I can't find it. So English translations will have to do for now.)

Respect. Approval. Praise. What could Paul be describing here? Of course, in this sense there is only One who is deserving of all honor and glory and praise! And what He has blessed and what He has transcended and what draws us to His worship is what we should think upon!

When I find myself spiraling downward emotionally, it is usually preceded with a single thought that is unlovely or not commendable, and certainly not "of a good report" as the KJV states. It is my choice to fill my mind with things that inspire and build up or with thoughts that are negative and discouraging. And I must remember when I speak to others to be an inspiration of loveliness and admiration for God.

click for link:

only what is pure (life under control - week 3 day 3)

whatever is pure

pure: not mixed or adulterated with any other substance of material

Pure does not necessarily refer to sexually perverted or licentious thoughts and behavior, although certainly that is included. Godly purity means abstaining from unrighteous anger, too, for example. In today's world we are bombarded with impure messages from billboards, talk radio, music, TV, internet, and even our Facebook 'friends' list. By themselves none of these media are impure, but they can be a source of impurity. I have needed to stop frequenting sites like Reddit because the conversations often turned so hostile and bullying not toward me but toward others and I would get so mad and want to avenge the person...and it's so ridiculous. You (I mean, I) can't let anonymous people have such control over your (I mean, my) emotions. So, I left. (Also, they are really hateful and intolerant toward Christianity over there.)

In Proverbs, it is written that gracious words are pure. And we know from Jesus that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. James writes that we should receive the implanted [into our hearts] word. And how do we receive? In Paul's epistle to the Romans, he writes that we receive faith from hearing the word. So bury your head in the Bible and read what it says. Commit it to memory. The continuous filling of purity will purge us from impurity. We are made pure by hearing (or reading) the word of God.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

only what is right (life under control week 3 day 2)

whatever is right

As I've seen in 2 Corinthians 10:5, I need to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Thinking on such things that are right by choice leads to thinking on right things by accident, which is a lot better than thinking of anything else by accident. Sometimes thoughts pop into my head that I cannot control and by choosing to acknowledge its goodness or badness and redirecting my thoughts always to what is right, I train myself. I discipline myself. I take those thoughts captive. I don't let my thoughts wander.

If I think on what is right, then my actions will be right. The Bible is saying that it is not enough to just do what is right. Our insides must be made clean. While we are already justified (declared or made righteous in the sight of God), we are becoming sanctified (to be pure or clean). Man looks on the outside and God looks on the inside to our hearts and motives.

In the Book of James, James writes that each is each is lured and enticed by his own desire, and that desire when conceived gives birth to sin. By training myself to think on what is right, I change my desires. When right thinking is conceived it brings life!

What is right? How can I know if what I'm thinking is right? If it leads me away from God's will, then it is not right. If it goes against Scripture, then it is not right. And on these two points, a word of caution: we don't always know God's will and we don't always understand Scripture. But in general, average thoughts are obviously right or not to the average person. Don't think about hurting people, don't think about breaking the law; think about being kind and helpful, think about serving your neighbors and family. If a fleeting thought of wrong thinking does enter your thoughts, such as when someone hurt you and how you'd like to retaliate, allow the Spirit to direct that thought to a Holy outcome, such as how you can forgive that person (forgiveness does not mean you must continue that relationship).

Friday, August 9, 2013

true and noble (life under control week3 day1)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

I find my self in increasing distress this past week. As if while I'm learning to take control of my life and give it to God, He's given me ample examples of how I am not doing that. While I know there are some people who know me will read this and use it as ammunition against me, I am in desperate need of God and He makes my heart contrite, filled with remorse, and desiring Him all the more. Evil people will continue to be evil, but those of us He has given New Life to will have our sins and faults revealed to us. At that time, we must submit to the Spirit and repent. I have spent the day wallowing in my filth and I have spent the evening showering in His grace. Today is the day that I was at my lowest and still Christ died for me. He saw today from the beginning of eternity and said, "Lauren's going to need me." And so He came for me. I cannot imagine how bad yesterday would have been if His grace had not been here. 

Yesterday I decided to start memorizing Philippians as a matter of personal discipline and to build up my spiritual armor. And here I see that the very verse I am looking forward to committing to memory is this weeks memory verse. It is rather appropriate that my mind has been raging against itself and here in my Bible study I find the antidote - think on these things. I wish I could just "snap out of it". I feel like I'm going through PPD while still 5 months pregnant. 

If I am to "make no provision for the flesh" (Romans 13:14) then part of the battle is to think on what is true and noble, for starters. When my mind thinks of the bad of the situation without acknowledging the good, and when my mind exaggerates the bad to be the worst and the good to not exist, I am not being truthful. In that moment it is hard to see truth. I am grateful to have a husband who is not afraid to show me the truth, even though I wish he found a kinder way of doing it that didn't make me feel even worse sometimes. And noble, or "honorable" in the ESV, means high esteem. I am adopted into the kingdom of God, a princess, and I should not be ashamed for Christ has covered me with his blood. His honor has been showered upon me. Though my sin be like scarlet, he has made them white as snow
I am forgiven. He has given me grace for today and bright hope for tomorrow. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

reflections on the spirit week (life under control w2 d7)

Reflections from this week

What is your problem? "Whether the problems concern food, exercise, prayer, Bible study and/or relationships, God wants to help you take care of them."

We who are saved are empowered by the Spirit. We must choose to live by His Spirit. Cultivate godliness.

Be careful about this next sentence: Make a commitment to not resist the Spirit in any area of your life. What if the Spirit asks you to live on less money than you wish? What if the Spirit asks you to give up control of your fertilization? What if the Spirit asks you to send your kids to public school? If you're not careful, you could find yourself living in obedience to God and looking foolish in the sight of the world...and even other church-goers!

Heavenly Father, help me to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Help me to be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving them just as in CHrist You forgave me (Eph 4:31-32).
O God of hope, fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You, so I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).

incomplete thoughts on paul and the first letter he wrote to the church at corinth

"Paul be cray-cray."

No, I'm not proud of myself but that thought did cross my mind as I was reading I Corinthians the other day. I don't remember ever having so much difficulty reading his epistles before. It's okay to have days, especially while pregnant, where common every day words hold no meaning (try saying "girl" or "fork" over and over and it quickly becomes garbled noises with no meaning emanating from your lips). I call it "pregnancy brain". I'm tired and my mental resources are exhausted.

Then I remember that when Paul was writing to the Church at Corinth he was addressing specific issues that the people were fully aware of. So his nonsensical ramblings become logical reprimands. I just needed to remember what the issues at Corinth were and his talk about "tongues" and "conduct" start to make a lot more sense.

Parts where Paul sounds as if he's contradicting his previous sentence aren't necessarily his fault but mine as the reader. I've often sounded crazy and contradictory within the same paragraph. Perhaps Paul and I are both misunderstood in the same way.

If I were to say, "You should exercise for an hour a day." I do not expect everyone to exercise for an entire hour every day. In context, perhaps (this is hypothetical in my case), I wrote, "Don't try to take 5 power classes in one day. You should exercise for an hour a day." And maybe in a previous blog post I had written, "You don't need to exhaust yourself by trying to exercise everyday. It's okay to take a day off." Ah ha! Contradiction! But really, what my point is is that exercising is a good discipline. Taking too many Cross Fit classes in one sitting will not benefit you if you neglect your earthly duties and you could get physically injured. You do not have to exercise for an hour a day, perhaps just 15 minutes is enough and skipping a day will actually be beneficial for injury prevention.

Let me go back and take a look at crazy Paul in Corinthians now and see if he still is, not crazy. I'll share with you my problems with this passage. I don't speak in tongues. I've "spoken" in tongues to appease my friends but even while doing so I felt that it was babbling of no language of men or of God; I've also spoken in tongues that I felt did not originate with me but the Spirit and if I ever felt the urge to do so again I would. But I've had heard many times that every "real" Christian speaks in tongues. After all, whenever protestants first became Christians the Jews knew they had received the Holy Spirit because of they spoke in tongues. Even at Pentecost the Spirit was given and everyone spoke in tongues. But in the crazy passage of Paul in I Corinthians he doesn't seem to be saying that just because he desires that everyone speak in tongues that everyone will speak in tongues ( he also desired that everyone prophesy and not everyone did). In Acts 8:17 no specific sign was shared but obviously from Simon's reaction something was outwardly visible. If it were tongues, which is so easily faked, why would anyone be impressed?

And so I'm done. I don't believe that I have by any means conquered the matter of speaking in tongues, that was not my intent. My intent was to say that it's okay to not understand and not have all the answers. In that case, it is fitting to leave the post without a feeling of completion. Sorry about that.

Cross Fitters, you be cray-cray!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

strongholds and the Sword of the Spirit (life under control - w2 d6)

Week 2 day 6 - strongholds

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the ESV states, " destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." (2 Corinthians 10:5-6 ESV)

A stronghold is any argument or lofty opinion raised against God. Our battlefield is often in our minds and we take our thoughts captive. We have Self-control under the control of Christ and the Spirit.

One discipline that has helped me as well as others and is not my original idea is to memorize Scripture.  It doesn't have to be a perfect recall. If I memorize Scripture then when my mind starts to wander, it wanders to those verses I've recently memorized. When I get stressed, the Spirit reminds me of the verses I've committed to memory. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. When facing a battle, a good soldier has His sword drawn.

I speak to myself here. I have greatly neglected Scripture memorization since getting married and having a vast number of earthly things added to my responsibility list! I make this vow to attempt to incorporate memorization into my daily schedule! It doesn't matter what verse.

Click this picture to go to the link:

[I have a terrible memory. I've heard so many self-satisfied pastors and teachers say ungodly things about no one has an excuse for not being able to memorize. I have a bad memory. Memorizing anything is difficult! But here's what I'll say, your memorization doesn't need to be perfect to be powerful. After all, it's not like we're memorizing in the original Greek or Hebrew anyway. And the chapters and verses? Not God-invented. So I don't worry about that either. In the New Testament everyone says, "it is written..." no one says, "Isaiah 55:5 says..." or whatever verse they're quoting. So if Jesus says, "it is written" then I feel that I can also say, "It is written". I think emphasizing these small details takes away from the point.]

life under control - week 2 day 5

week 2 day 5 - SPIRITual character

Fruit of the Spirit:


While it is true that these gifts are produced in the Spirit-filled person, it is also true that we must cultivate these traits. We reap what we sow. Sow these into your life and you will reap them as well. Sowing the Spirit means filling yourself with Him through prayer, Scripture reading, and discipline in these areas! (On a side note I don't think Paul meant that this is an exclusive list because of similar lists in other epistles. Same idea though - The Spirit is full of good things.)

Love = following the example of Christ, a good outline is found in 1 Corinthians 13. I'm taking a second to go read it now.
Joy = response to God's presence in my life. (Joy, a feeling of great pleasure and happiness)
Peace = confidence in God's power
Patience = willingness to give people time. I've often heard patience described with the addendum of "with a good attitude" - lol, I'm more patient than I once was...but I imagine this is probably my biggest failure!
Kindness = sensitivity to others' needs
Goodness = desire to do what is good. If God alone is good, then goodness will always be godly. It is never good (or "the greater good") to go against anything God has written in His Word.
Faithfulness = my commitment to keep my word.
Gentleness = compassion with others
Self-control = discipline under the Spirit

If these things just came naturally and completely when we became saved, then we would not need to be told about them. We would have been saved and instantly perfect in all our actions. We are taught how to behave and a Christian accepts the correction because the love that God has for them fills that person with Love for God's ways...which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!