Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living Large

Yesterday was a hot tea and movie kind of day for me. Home alone, just me and the TV...
One of the movies I watched was "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". The very abbreviated story line here is there are a group of British retirees who can't afford to live in England so they end up retiring to this "hotel" for the elderly in India. Of course, when they arrive it was not what they expected. Although, I disagreed with the way most of the adult issues were handled in the  movie, it was very interesting to me to watch how the characters either embraced or rejected the very different culture they found themselves immersed in and how they dealt with their prejudices and stereotypes.
The one line of the movie that leapt out at me was in a scene near the end when the young Indian man who manages the hotel is trying to convince his mother why he should not sell the hotel and give up the love of his life for an arranged marriage and a better job in Delhi. She tells him his life would be better if he would just do what she wants him to. He replies to her, "Not better, smaller."
It seems over the last few months there has been a recurring theme to my Bible study, quiet times, etc. Ever had that happen? Where it seems like no matter where you turn, you are getting the same message? Every teacher you listen to...everything you read say the same thing? In my experience, that is when you need to listen.
The theme that has come up over and over for me lately, has been "supernatural living". Beth Moore in the Nehemiah Daniel study...on the radio...Dr. Lewis just this morning. All talking about supernatural living. Living large.
What in the world does it mean? I claim to be no expert because I'm not sure I have really lived there for much of my life. I KNOW that it means living by faith. But honestly, that sounds trite almost. It shouldn't - but it just has such a churchy sound to it. I say that I live by faith. I say that I believe God will take care of me. But does my life demonstrate that I am living by faith...expecting a large, or does it reflect that I am moving along in my own strength doing the things that I could do on my own, anyway?
Ever have one of those Bible verses that you have heard all your life to the point that you say it without even thinking about it much less what it means? How about this one: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil 4:13
Lets say it again. "I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who STRENGTHENS me."
Again. "I CAN DO all things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens ME."
I can, I really can! Not in my strength but in His! Living in faith! "Nothing is impossible with God!"
I am not there. Right now, I am not living the large life. I am living the safe life. I want to live the supernatural life that God has for me, but I am not there.
So I ask myself:
What do I need to do - surrender - change to get there?
What goals do I need to set higher? Too high? God high?
Where has he been leading me that I have been digging in my heels? Hmmmm?
I don't have answers, yet. I see glimpses - feel nudges - but not the whole picture. I know I need to get Abraham who set out without knowing where he was going. I need to keep pursuing God for direction and be willing to be obedient when He gives it. It is a work in progress, but God who has begun a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it.
There is a quote frequently attributed to Voltaire that says, "Good is the enemy of the best." In the movie, Sonny's mother wanted good for him, but what he wanted was something larger. I do not want to settle for a good life, if God has a larger life out there for me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Confessions of a Glutton

My name is Judie and I am a glutton. Sounds kind of gross doesn't it? It is.

In order to write this, I did a quick word study on the word "gluttony". I found some things I did not know, and dispelled one belief that I thought I knew but I was wrong. What do you know about that? I will try to share as quickly as possible...

Raise your hand if you believe the "Seven Deadly Sins" are in the Bible....I DID TOO! But guess what? The seven deadly sins were a list compiled by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. (I just love learning this kind of stuff!) His list included:

  • Pride - because all other sins arise from pride. It makes one want to be more important than others.
  • Envy - wanting something someone else has.
  • Gluttony - overindulgence to the point of waste - nuff said.
  • Lust - obsessive or excessive thoughts of a sexual nature.
  • Anger - uncontrolled feelings of hatred.
  • Greed - wanting more earthly possessions to the point of obsession.
  • Sloth - Laziness - also the failure to love God with all your heart and soul.
I know what you are doing. You are quickly turning to your concordance because you know its there. You will undoubtedly come up with Proverbs 6:16-19: "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." See? Detestable, but not deadly. And not a mention of gluttony in the list!

Before we breathe a sigh of relief, let me assure you there are plenty of other verses that relate to gluttony in scripture. The one that jumped out at me was Proverbs 23:2, "..put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite." Yikes! I'm going to choose to believe that that is an example of the hyperbole Dr. Lewis was talking about in his sermon this past Sunday! But then there is Philippians 3... in verses 18 & 19 it talks of those who live as enemies of Christ. It says their god is their stomach. Ouch! I just like to eat. I don't want to be an enemy of Christ! 

The problem today, is that with all of the emphasis on being thin and eating right, gluttony has still become an acceptable sin. I'm not doing drugs, or smoking, or drinking. I'm just eating...and eating...and eating. In our Daniel Bible study we are talking about the culture of Babylon that surrounds us. Part of that culture was over indulgence and we have bought it hook, line, and sinker.

Any of you who have known me for a long period of time, know that this has been a struggle I have dealt with for many years. I have lost hundreds ( no exaggeration ) of pounds. I make many excuses.
  • Its genetic - I was born this way. Many of the women in our family are obese. It is just something I can't help. I'm fat. It's who I am.
  • Its environmental - I was taught to eat good southern cooking. Paula Deen, butter, bread, fried chicken. You know the drill.
  • It's my husbands fault. Don't laugh. This is a challenge at our house because I am married to a picky, meat and potatoes guy. Seems pointless to make a meal for him and another one for me....
  • I would rather be fat and enjoy the foods I like. Now we may be getting closer to the truth. 
The simple fact is - I choose what I put in my mouth. No one controls that but me.

Titus 2:11-13 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,           (This is like the 'Just Say No' verse from the Bible).

I Corinthians 3:16-17
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

I am sacred. I am God's temple. With God's help I can control what passes through my mouth. I can be forgiven, but I have to repent and that repentance has to be reflected in a change. There are so many more verses I could list here, but you are tired of reading this by now. Just know that this blog was for me, but if it inspires you, I am all for it. With God's help, I am going to get this thing back under control.

I would like to publish a little disclaimer at the end here. There are always folks who tend to go to the extreme. I believe God expects us to use judgement and moderation in all things. This is not meant to give license to anorexia, starving yourself, or pushing your body to the breaking point in exercise. I see so many beautiful young women torturing themselves over their body image because the culture tells them that they are not thin enough when, in fact, they are a wonderful, healthy weight. If you are that person, all the above applies to you, too, only kind of in reverse. God's temple needs to be properly nourished - not starved or over fed. 

Love you All!!!!   Judie

P.S. If anyone is interested in a more complete list of scriptures, let me know and I will gather and post at a later date.  JB

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Life We Leave Our Children

Today, we are going to reach way back into Judah's history and take a look at one of her kings, Hezekiah.
Hezekiah seemed to be one of the good kings. His father, Ahaz, was a truly evil king who allowed every kind of idolatry but who actually nailed the doors to the temple shut. (This one sentence probably begs a whole other post about religious "tolerance" and how Christians are treated in America). When Hezekiah came to power, he came as a reformer. He cleaned house politically, tore down the foreign altars, reopened and cleaned the temple, reinstated the Passover celebration. There was a revival in Judah.
Unfortunately, Hezekiah was a short sighted man who only dealt with problems in the short term and he also developed a little problem of pride. After being spared by God from what should have been a terminal illness, Hezekiah entertains visitors from Babylon. (Babylon at this time was an up and coming empire, but students of history will remember that future relationships with this nation would not bode well for the Jews.) Hezekiah was so prideful and confident, that he took the envoy from Babylon all over the palace and temple and even showed him the treasury. He showed him everything. He was cozying up to the enemy.
Upon learning of Hezekiah's actions, the prophet Isaiah basically went off on him and then prophesied that some day, the Babylonians would return and take away everything as well as taking the people captive. (Is 39) One hundred years later they did exactly that.
What was Hezekiah's response? "It's ok because it isn't going to happen in my lifetime." What? Excuse me? Makes you just want to take him and shake some sense into him doesn't it? Unfortunately, I am afraid this kind of apathetic attitude reflects the attitude that many Christians have had over the past 40 - 50 years. Either that, or a bit of a pollyanna outlook that thinks things aren't as bad as they sound.

Today, many of us are facing the future wondering what kind of country/world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. The economic uncertainty is astounding. The future of Christianity as a major religion seems shaky at best.
As we face what is shaping up to be a contentious election, we must examine ourselves and ask what we can do to change the future. The problem is not with the people in the White House, or Congress, or any other elected office. The problem is with the people who put them there. The issues in America are not going to change if the hearts of the people don't change - no matter who sits in the Oval Office.
I'm not saying we shouldn't vote or that we don't need a change in leadership. I absolutely believe we should and we do. But I believe, as Christians, we can't just fight for a political change and then sit back with a sigh of relief and enjoy life. We need to be working diligently to plant the seeds of change that will affect this country for years to come. We must be evangelizing in the name of Jesus - taking the message of TRUE "hope and change" to a nation in desperate need of revival. We have to be discipling individuals in the faith so that their covictions go with them for a lifetime - not just for an election. We need to be as passionate about the Gospel as we are about our political candidate!!!! And we need to think about how our decisions will affect our descendants for years to come, if Jesus doesn't come to get us all first.
Do you know what happened to Judah? As soon as Hezekiah died and Manasseh came to power, up went the idols and they were right back where they started. Over in Babylon, the story was being told of the treasure in Judah - handed down from generation to generation. One hundred years later, they came and got it along with some of the finest young men in Jerusalem. See "Faithful in a Faithless Generation". 
Let's don't do this to our kids. Let's give them a future they can live with and we can be proud of. Let's give them Jesus. Then no matter where they live or who is in office, they will have the best hope of all.

2 Kings 16: 20 - 20:21; 2 Chronicles 28:27 - 32:33; Isaiah 36:1 - 39:8