Death To Self

death-to-self

This is going to hurt. I am going to be real transparent here but I know that it must be done. I need to die to self. I need to come to the place of truly dying to my flesh. My flesh has died before but it just won’t stay dead! September 5, 2011 I died to self and turned my eating habits over to the Lord to lead and guide me. The reality however is I didn’t stay dead for very long. The truth is there is just no way to overcome the flesh on our own.

 Let’s read a few verses from the Bible:

Galatians 5:24 ~ Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Romans 6:11 ~ Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

These were the verses I shared back in September 2011. Now let’s take a look at another verse:

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Did you see what I saw? “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. Hmm, yes that changes everything. I keep trying to make my flesh die but I think what really needs to happen is that I need to surrender. I need to remember that Christ lives in me. And since He lives in me, I need to do what the rest of this verse says “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Now let’s look at another few verses:

Colossians 3:1-4

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

 

Now let’s read just verses 3-4 in the Message Bible:

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you.

 

Wow.

 

I wrote the following in 2006, if I’m not mistaken it was after my Pastor spoke on dying to self. I am not even sure if I am the one who wrote it or if it was from my notes from the sermon. I am reminded today though that this is what needs to happen in my life if I am to be successful at getting healthy and losing weight. Quite honestly, this is what needs to happen for all of life. I apply it today to this journey of moving toward better health but death to self is really about living daily for Christ.

When you are dead to self, you no longer are drawn to the old sinful habits of your past. You will no longer respond to people who scorn you or speak evil of you, you just pray for them and love them.

When you are dead to self, nothing affects your walk with the Lord. Nothing can move you from your place in Christ Jesus.

When you are dead to self, you no longer are self-absorbed with your problems and situations instead you are ready to help others through their trials.

When you are dead to self, your focus is on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. You have a yearning to bring others to Him so they too can receive forgiveness.

When you are dead to self, you are drawn more to the things of God then to the things of the world. You would rather read your Bible than watch TV all day. You would rather minister to someone in need than sit and sulk about your own problems.

When you are dead to self, no matter how bad your day is going you still smile at your neighbors and you praise the Lord for each and every moment of your bad day.

When you are dead to self, your focus is on the Lord and how you can be used by Him to further His kingdom.

Dying to self is a daily process.

To be continued…

Genuine sanctification … is nothing less than a daily dying to self and daily conformity to the will of God. ~ Ellen G. White

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Time to Revisit the Vision

This is a tough blog to write. I’ve been procrastinating over it for almost a week now. I think I have come to the end of myself once again (and hopefully for all time). My journey began in 2008 and for 3 years I was actively working on losing weight. It was so necessary because of health issues and primarily because I wanted to please God. In February 2011 I started this blog because I truly felt the Lord impressed the name Losing4Christ on me and I had 7 things that I wanted to lose for Christ:

  1. Weight
  2. Sin
  3. Bondage
  4. Damaged Emotions
  5. Lack of discipline
  6. Fear
  7. Control

Well, to be very honest I was stuck on #1 and worked very hard at losing weight in 2011 and I lost 84.5 lbs total by the end of the year. Today I am sad to say that of that total I have gained back 77.3 lbs since January 2012. Ouch! That hurts in more ways than one.

The good news…yes there is good news Praise God! The good news is I have lost some damaged emotions, some fear and lots of bondage. Not 100% though as I am still a work in progress but over the course of the past 9 months I have actually seen growth in my life. Hallelujah!  I am very excited that I can see the growth because a few weeks ago I didn’t see it. It has been a very difficult year for me spiritually. I have struggled with so many mind wars that I thought I was defeated for sure. Ah but our awesome Jesus has people around me who are able to tell me the truth as they see all the things I don’t see through the fog of lies the enemy tries to keep me focused on. Well today I am happy to say that the fog is gone and I am seeing very clearly once again. So now it is time to get back to the vision for getting healthy and losing weight. I don’t exactly have a plan yet but I am going to start out with a few simple goals that I feel the Lord wants me to start with. I hope to share my progress along the way.

Now, would you allow me to share with you what I wrote back in 2008 that started this whole journey? Thank you so much! I hope this will help someone else or maybe it will just re-ignite my own passion. Here we go….

Subject: Confessions of an Addict (originally posted on MySpace – does anyone use that site anymore??)
Category: Religion/philosophy
11/10/2008
Mood: Optimistic

I am an addict. There I said it. I am an addict. No I am not addicted to drugs or sex or anything like that. I am not even addicted to the Internet…anymore…wow this is going to be a painful blog. Sigh…Ok so here I am making confession today on this blog before God and man…I am a food addict.

Why am I sharing this with you today? Well on Saturday October 4, 2008, I was working (as usual) and I was listening to a song over and over because it hit me like a ton of bricks and just brought me to a wonderful place of worship. So there I was at work just singing and sobbing and working all at the same time. What song? Thank you for asking.

The song is:

I Give You my Heart…By Hillsong and here are the lyrics…

This is my desire, to honour You,
Lord with all my heart,
I worship You,
All I have within me, I give You praise,
All that I adore, is in You,

Lord I give You my heart,
I give You my soul,
I live for You alone,
Every breath that I take,
Every moment I’m awake,
Lord have Your way in me.

So now you may be sitting there thinking to yourself…what does this song have to do with being an addict? Probably nothing but God can use anything He wants to get a message across if we just incline our ears to listen…I was listening that Saturday.

I was supposed to write this blog that night when I got home but I didn’t and the next morning I know God spoke to me and said that I needed to write this blog as an act of worship. So I pray that He is glorified because I am finally being obedient…albeit over a month late. I shared this message with a group of women at church on Saturday November 8th as well and one of the women said I need to get this posted on my blog now that I’ve shared it.

The song really speaks of exactly what is in my heart. I desire to worship God with all my heart and soul. I desire to live for Him alone with every breath I take for every moment of every day that He allows me to be here and then for eternity. So in order for me to do that, I need to know Him intimately…I need to feast on the Word of God daily, memorize it (Hide the Word in my heart), speak it, pray it, listen to it so that I know everything possible about the Almighty Father in Heaven and My Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. But there’s a problem…its called sin. We all know that sin separates us from God before we accept Jesus as Savior and once we receive Him our sins are forgiven because afterall that is why He went to the cross. Colossians 2:13-15 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”

We know this but I’m talking about the sin that snares the believer. See I am a believer; I have been a believer for a long time. Most of you who are reading this blog are believers. Now I confess that I have been a prodigal more times than I care to mention as well but I know that today I am a follower of Christ. So what does all of this have to do with my confession of being an addict, you ask? Well I am learning that this addiction of mine is really sin. I found this definition of sin that really applies here: “Doing something wrong that separates you from God.” Eating food is not wrong but when it consumes your time and keeps your focus off God then it is truly a problem.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31

I confess that I was not eating in a manner that was giving glory to God. I was actually eating so much that I had made food an idol. As I was preparing for my speaking engagement at church I was studying the fruit of the spirit and through that God fine tuned my message and showed me the area of fruit that He was pruning in my life and that is self control. So I just want to share a little bit of what I am learning about self control. You see the term itself can fool us if we are not thinking about it in a spiritual sense. Let’s see what the world’s definition of self control is:

The control of oneself; the ability to master one’s desires and impulses
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/self control

Self control to me in the context of being part of the fruit of the Sprit means that we give up self control to the Spirits control so that He helps us control ourselves. That is what the Lord wants from me; He wants me to give up control so He can help me control myself. God has placed people in my life to help me with this addiction and I have been working on these issues for several weeks now but I was only talking about my issues and exploring the reasons why I have this food addiction.

Well on October 31st I was challenged to take action and see how God would help me move beyond talking about my food addiction to actually conquering it.

My employer has a challenge twice a year as part of our wellness initiative and for 10 weeks we are challenged to eat healthy, exercise and record our efforts three times a week and then at the end of the challenge we all share in a prize pot if we maintain or lose weight. It costs 25.00 at the beginning of the challenge and then 20.00 of that becomes part of the prize pot at the end of the challenge. I have joined this challenge at least 3 or 4 times now and in the first challenge I did really well and lost weight but the next couple times I basically helped fatten the prize pot because I didn’t lose, maintain or even follow any of it. So I was determined that I would NOT join this time.

On October 31st during a benefit fair the table was set up for people to join the challenge and weigh in and get all your materials. So I got there and proceeded to tell the woman that I wasn’t going to do it this time and she of course started showing me the new tools and motivation materials. While she was talking another employee (who has also become a good friend) walks up and asks me if I am going to join and I said no. She said yes you are and proceeded to tell me that my excuses were not good enough and that I can do it. She then said she would be my accountability partner. So I changed my mind and decided to go ahead and join the challenge. So she comes and puts her arm around me and whispers in my ear “Now you know who sent me here to encourage you to do this challenge, don’t you?” and I smiled and replied “God” and she hugged me and said that we would do this together with His help and strength.

Well that day I didn’t really put much effort into the challenge and the weekend passed and I still had not even tried to eat healthier or eat any less. So on Monday morning I get to my office and find a piece of paper on my desk that had this scripture:

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”  Philippians 3:19

My friend had written me a note with this scripture stating she read this and God shouted at her and she wanted Him to shout at me too. Well I know this scripture and in context it is not talking about a food addiction but I heard the shout of the Lord in this verse just as my friend heard it and from that moment I started making some changes. Today will be 9 days since I started that challenge and 6 days since making changes in my eating habits and today I am 9.1 pounds lighter. Praise God! The timing of all of this was absolutely perfect and verified to me that this was all in God’s planning not my own. I want to clarify one thing though, you see God was never off the throne in my life but the idol of food was blocking my view of God just like if you are looking out at the ocean and see how big it is and you can see for miles but if you place a dime before your eye you will not see that ocean anymore. My addiction to food was blocking my view of God and hindering my walk with Him. I confess that I have a long way to go in this journey but I praise God for showing me that it only takes yielding to His control will allow me to have self control. Yesterday I shared this message with a group of women at my church but there is so much more to this story and maybe I will share more with you in the future as the Lord leads me.

Right now to wrap up this blog I just want to share some scripture that helped me in this journey of mine. Learning about the fruit of the spirit was a journey to learning so much about myself and how we as Christians are to live our lives…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

The key to this verse is that we have to depend on the Holy Spirit so let’s read on a little further:

“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-2

Let’s do some further reading…

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16

“So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.” Romans 7:4

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-12

Don’t you just love how the Word of God teaches us and guides us into all truth. God is awesome and He loves us so much. My prayer is that all those who read this blog will be blessed and encouraged. I also pray that you will be challenged to take inventory of your life to see if there is any fruit that needs pruning in your life. Allow the Lord to prune you as He has pruned me because ultimately we want to please Him and bring glory, praise and honor to God. The pruning process is part of God’s purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  Romans 8:29

Lord I give You my heart,
I give You my soul,
I live for You alone,
Every breath that I take,
Every moment I’m awake,
Lord have Your way in me.

Let this be our prayer today. God bless you all!

All scripture references are from the NIV Bible.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long-winded blog. God bless you all!!

I hope you will walk with me as I Revisit the Vision….“1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ~ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Leave Me ALONE, please!

That was my mantra for the past week. Leave me ALONE, please. Yes, I was isolating myself in a very bad way.  I  was completely justified of course because quite frankly how could I dare show my face in public after doing so many heinous crimes. What crimes? Well let me tell you. The crime of selfishness, self defeat, perfectionism, whining, inadequacy, disappointment, stress, unbelief and of course complete and utter failure.  Yup, that summarizes it well. That is why I could not bare to show my face in public, on the web or anywhere else for that matter.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? YUP it sure does and my best friend of 39 years lovingly told me so.  I love her! Of course, she was the only one that I was talking to during my trip back to the dark pit that I always seem to find myself wandering back to when I can’t control my life. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!! Oh no, I think I just admitted a truth here.

I am a control freak.

Yes and that was pointed out to me yesterday by another dear friend. Ouch! I had never ever ever in my wildest dreams thought that I could be a control freak. However I do believe my perspective on control may have been a little bit off.  So I did what anyone would do, I Googled it. I entered define: control freak and here’s what I got…….

con·trol freak

Noun:
A person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control and to take command of any situation.

Ouch again! So I had to think about this really.  Sleep on it too.  And this morning guess what I discovered. It is TRUE! Oh there is that pit in the middle of my stomach. The one that I feel when I’ve come face to face with a truth that leaves me with a choice to make. The choice is who am I going to let control my life…..Me or God? One scripture for me sums up who is really in control:

Genesis 1:1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2011 was a year of surrender for me, but did I truly surrender? I went back and took an honest look at my year today. It seems that every three months I had a pity party and went back to controlling my own life. I had to repent and die to self over and over again because my flesh rose up to take over so many times. Well this leaves me with that pit in my stomach feeling again and this time it’s not making me want to run away and hide from all of life as though I had it so bad. I mean I have lived through much worse,  quite frankly I handled those times much better as well, without the pity parties. In those “real” crisis times I trusted and leaned on God to see me through. I cried out to Jesus every moment and trusted Him to get me through. So what changed?  I don’t know really but I am on a quest to understand this cyclical pattern of mine and while I am doing so really learn once again how to die to self.

Galatians 5:24 ~ Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Romans 6:11 ~ Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:3 ~ For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ~ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

So as I leave this blog today. I want to publicly thank those friends that God put in my life after much crying and prayer for pressing me when I was pushing you away,  for calling, texting and showing up at my door.  For speaking truth even when I got mad at you.  I love you all!!! You know who you are. And trust me I know that it was God just proving me wrong in my stinking thinking once again so I am eternally grateful to Him first for loving me so much that He won’t let me control my own life. And I am grateful to you my friends who pull me out of the fire when I get too close. God bless you all!!

I Died Last Night!

It was bound to happen, It was time afterall. So after two days of vegging out on the couch watching 4 seasons of Burn Notice and ordering food from the local pizza place three times I finally hit the bottom of the pit that I was dwelling in for a few months now and there was nothing more that I could do but die. Praise God I made the decision to die to my flesh and start letting the Lord get through to my thick little skull. All day long for both days I saw glimpses of God speaking to my heart and I couldn’t take you back to those things that I read because they came from several directions but the signs were clear to me that it was time to get up and out of the pit, not on my own but by putting my hand in the Lord’s hand and allowing Him to help me climb out. I’ve been frequenting the pit that I had once deserted and I think I was starting to get comfortable there again. Oh I tried to get out. I stepped out a few times and thought I was okay. I tried to motivate myself to do the things that I knew the Lord wanted me to do. He called me to lose weight, lose sin, lose bondage, etc. I was running a good race and somehow something cut in on me and threw me for a loop and there I was back in that pit. I didn’t want to be there but I found that I just couldn’t get out. I let the smallest things get in the way of my walk with Jesus. I walked right back into sin.

But last night I was granted true repentance from God. I know it was true repentance because I’ve repented so many times over the past couple months and yet I still sat in the pit shackled to the chains that bound me to the sin of gluttony. I was convinced in my head that I was trying to get control of it but I was in total darkness and could not even see my hand in front of me. I was blind and separated from God because of my sin.

I am amazed continually at how much Love that Jesus has for me. I being the fleshly selfish human that I am would have given up on me a long time ago. But not Jesus, He continues to pursue me even when I am in rebellion. WHY? Why would He continue to pursue me when I continue to fail Him over and over and over? He died on that cross over two thousand years ago to save me not because I was worthy but because He loved me. And the Word of God says He will never leave me nor forsake me and so therefore He continues to pursue me and waits for me to turn from the sins that bind me in darkness and look at Him and let the Light of His Love permeate me to the core. I can relate to why Adam and Eve hid in the garden when they sinned. I know why now, they were separated from God because of their sin and they no longer knew how He would respond. Their sin blinded them and put them in darkness so they no longer had a connection to God. I lost my connection to God because I was choosing food over Jesus. Ugh! Just writing that pains my heart but it is the truth. I know you might be thinking that I am being hard on myself and I hope that is not what you are thinking because the bottom line is that sin is sin.  I didn’t make the rules. I didn’t write the Bible. God did, He set the standard and we can try to minimize it based on our cultural ideas or upbringing but it won’t hold up to the Word of God. I have to be honest with myself and examine my own heart and allow the Holy Spirit to really examine my heart and show it to me. I cannot do anything without Him. I have to get right with God when my life is not lining up with what He has set forth for me. I have the choice. Every day, every hour, every moment. I have the choice to choose to live in obedience to God or live in sin. There’s no middle ground. So as I came to the place of true repentance I received the refreshing that is promised in the Word. (Acts 3:19)

I woke up today with a new perspective, I woke up with a clear vision. I’ve been resurrected (if you will).  The Word says we are to crucify our flesh, well guess what I died last night and I am so glad I did because I feel so much better now. I am connected with my savior once again. I have taken my place once again as the princess of the King. I refuse to listen any more to the lies of the enemy that condemn me and keep me in the pit of darkness and despair. I am free because Christ has set me free. I will move forward and allow the Holy Spirit to challenge me and search me every day and show me my heart so that each day I live to honor Jesus Christ with my life and give glory to God. I know this time will be different, I feel it and I am determined to walk this out and not let anything else get in the way. Today I re-commit to offering my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God by choosing to eat the way He wants me to eat and not allow the sin of gluttony to control me. For every temptation has a way out, I just have to keep my eyes open and choose to take the way out every day, every hour, every moment for the rest of my days. Praise God I have a choice, as long as there is breath of life in my nostrils I have the opportunity to honor God with my body, my mind, my whole life. This is my choice. This is my commitment. Thank you Jesus!

Galatians 5:24 ~ Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Romans 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ~ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Weight Loss Part 2

In continuation of my previous post we were talking about how we make the decision to eat healthy and exercise and then we start strong and then at some point lose the momentum and go back to our old habits. We resolve that we look fine the way we are and people just need to accept us. Well the truth is that is just an excuse. Maybe we do look fine the way we are and yes people should accept us but for those who are like me that are overweight to the point where it’s really affecting our health and our daily life we cannot keep making excuses. We need to face reality and stop saying that we want change and actually do it. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Sure it does but the reality is it’s not that simple.

Over the years, I have tried just about every diet and like a lot of people I lost weight and then I gained it back. I’ve tried it all with the exception of weight loss surgery. I was planning on having the gastric bypass back in 2004 and I started researching it and there were several friends of mine that did it and it worked well for them. But I had prayed and asked God to only allow me to have the surgery if that was His will for me. I found out that it was absolutely not His will because twice I was scheduled for surgery and something happened that made me have to cancel. I believe the Lord showed me that He made my body perfect, with all the right organs and He designed my body to function properly and why should I have to alter His creation so that I could lose weight. No, He wanted me to learn how to be disciplined and He wanted me to learn how to take care of my body that He created so that I could also encourage others to do the same.  It was my undisciplined life and unhealthy food choices along with a sedentary lifestyle that put the weight on me so it was not something I needed a surgeon to repair, I needed to learn to let the Holy Spirit lead me and guide me in every area of my life.

A little over a year ago I took a Christian web course to help me lose weight. It pointed out the fact that gluttony is a sin. I lost 51 lbs and while the program was excellent and I know it was the Lord that led me there, I guess I wasn’t quite ready to really surrender my weight and my gluttony over to the Lord. Oh I said the prayers and cried and went through all the motions and when I felt like giving up I felt guilty because I had a mentor and an accountability partner so I couldn’t just give up. The two ladies who were helping me through the course were wonderful and I know today that there were many lessons for me through that journey but after the course was over I fell again. This was my big crash and burn type of fall. I gained almost all my weight back. My life spiraled out of control between major life changes and overwhelming stress and finally depression. It was pretty ugly. I got to a place where I felt that I was going to hell because I had failed God by gaining my weight back. I failed Jesus by taking my eyes off of Him and looking at my circumstances and letting them overwhelm me and consume me. I was a mess. Then I went through a time of trying to figure it all out. What happened to the freedom that I was walking in? What happened to my passion for Christ and zeal for evangelism and my desire to help people and be an encourager? What happened?

To be continued…..