Image "My Friend" by Helen Thomas Robson www.capturedmiracles.org (Used by Permission)
Minimalism from a Biblical Point of View —

Biblical Minimalism© is "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life." Cheryl E. Smith

Monday, June 25, 2018

Minimizing Mental Clutter


When I think about living an uncluttered, minimal life, my mind, at first goes in the obvious direction of too many physical possessions—but I find that minimal living that comes in alignment with God's Word is so much more than that.  Biblical Minimalism encompasses all areas of our lives, and as we work through this "Whole-Person Pie©," we seek to continually identify areas where clutter, excess, and sin may have, unbeknownst to us, crept in and accumulated.  There's a whole lot more to say about the minimizing of the physical slice of the pie, but for now, we will move on, pausing next on the "mental" slice.

"I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  Romans 12:1,2

It is a reasonable request for God to ask us to present our "whole-person" to Him as a living sacrifice.  In fact, it is what we owe Him.  Jesus gave ALL He had for us and died a cruel, horrific death on an old, rugged cross to redeem us and so that you and I can live an abundant life.  The least we can do is to dedicate every part of us back to Him without reserve.  This includes our mind—that mental part of us where so much spiritual warfare takes place.  

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  Ephesians 6:12  (KJV)

Just as God laid down specific laws in the Old Testament commanding that His chosen people be completely separate from all other nations, we, as the earthly body of Christ, are to be peculiar and distinctly different from the world around us.  

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."  Titus 2:11-14

As Christians living in the dispensation of grace, we are not only followers of Jesus, but His Spirit literally dwells within us.  The longer we abide in Him, and He abides in us, the more we will look like Him and less like ourselves as He shines His light upon the things in our lives that are not in agreement with who He is, and we, in turn, walk in that light and lay them aside.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  2 Corinthians 5:17  (KJV)

We are not to conform to a worldly mindset because we have been transformed through the renewing of our minds.  When the blood of Jesus was applied to our hearts, we were automatically changed from the inside out.  Just as He regenerated our heart, He has renewed our minds, placing within us the very mind of Christ.  

"For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ."  I Corinthians 2:16  (KJV)

The ultimate goal is for each of us to live in victory and holiness right down to our thoughts and intentions.

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12  (KJV)

So, what is mental clutter?  Looking through a Biblical lens, of what does the mental part of us consist?  Though there are many facets to the mental slice of the pie, for the sake of not making this already-lengthy post even longer, I would like to discuss four.

Thoughts

Negative thoughts are like poison to the mind.  They cloud judgment, invoke irritability, and breed discontent.  They rob us of living the abundant life Jesus came to provide for us.  Once those thoughts progress to the next step of becoming words and being spoken from our lips, they have not only injected toxins into our own minds, but they spread negativity to the atmosphere and to those who are listening to us.

God's Word gives us a list of six specific things to think about.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  Philippians 4:8  (KJV)

If our thoughts do not fall into any one of these categories, it is a good indication that they need to be released and redirected toward something that does line up with what we are to think about.

Imagination

Imagination can be a wonderful thing when it is applied in a noble way.  Imagination fosters creativity and is the beginning of many new things, such as inventions, songs, stories, medical breakthroughs, and beneficial discoveries.

On the flipside, imagination can bring anguish and torment to the human mind.  I have allowed my imagination to "run away with me" more times than I can count or recall, as I sat back and permitted things that were merely imagined to completely overtake what was real, sending me into a complete panic.  When a loved one is running a bit late, I can quickly imagine the worst has happened.  While waiting on a medical diagnosis, I have literally imagined everything from something slightly worrisome to making funeral arrangements.  How many moments of my life have I wasted on something that was the polar opposite of reality?  Most of what we dread never comes to pass, and most of what we dread is total imagination.

My dear, old, Godly Papaw used to say that imagination is the biggest nation in the world.  I think he was right.

God's Word tells us to cast down or overthrow imaginations.

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:4-5  (KJV)

The thing that helps me most during times of overwhelming terror from imagining what "might have happened" or "what could happen" is to replace what I am imagining with the promises of God.  As they come to mind, I quote them out loud.  Here are some of my favorites.

"There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.  For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."  Psalm 91:10-11  (KJV)

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"  Psalm 27:1  (KJV)

"When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, He will send them a savior and defender and deliver them."  Isaiah 19:20  (ESV)

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."  I John 4:4  (KJV)

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."  Romans 8:37  (NIV)

Motives

Motive ~ a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.

What lies at the root of our actions?  Are our motives ulterior?

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."  Galatians 1:10  (ESV)

Why do we do the things we do?  (Click here to read the latest post on Homespun Devotions, called Obedience, or Sacrifice?)

"For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts."  I Thessalonians 2:3,4  (ESV)

Perspectives

Perspective ~ a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."  Proverbs 23:7  (KJV)

How do you perceive God?  How do you view yourself?  What does your worldview look like?  Do your perspectives line up with Scripture, or are they more in line with the world around us?

The truth about God is—
He loves you so much, He died for you.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:16  (KJV)
He wants you to live an abundant life.
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly."  John 10:10  (KJV)
His plans for you are good.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11  (NIV)
The truth about you is—
You are dear to God's heart.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  Matthew 10:29-31  (NIV)
You are God's own child.
"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:  which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."  John 1:12-13  (KJV)
You have been set free!
"We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin."  Romans 6:6  (NLT)
The truth about this world is—
It is temporary.
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?"  2 Peter 3:10-11  (KJV)
We must be different from it.
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."  Philippians 2:14-15  (KJV)
We are not to love it.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."  I John 2:15  (KJV)

Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  John 8:32  (KJV)

The truth is, in light of eternity, life on this earth is very brief.
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."  James 4:14  (KJV)

We are only passing through.  The things we should most focus on and pour our attention and care into are the only two parts of us that will outlive this life—our eternal soul and the legacy we will leave behind.  

The world around us screams, "Buy more!"  "Accumulate all you can!"  "Take it home today, pay for it later!" "You can't live in this modern world without debt."  "Do whatever it takes to live the American dream!"

God's Word says, "Don't own more than you need." "Lay up treasures in Heaven, not on the earth."  "Do not borrow or owe anyone anything."  "Everything on this earth will pass away."  "Live an eternity-focused life."

Mental clutter could be defined as any thought, imagination, motive, or perspective that conflicts with Scripture.  Minimizing it and replacing it with the way God thinks will bring about a lasting, deep, and much sought-after sense of peace.  I pray you find that, my friend.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Five Steps To Overcoming Regret


"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before."
Philippians 3:13
(KJV)

Today, I am sharing over at No Sidebar about the heavy burden of regret and some things I have learned about how to overcome it.

I hope you can click here to join me!


Friday, June 15, 2018

Six Questions To Ask Yourself While Minimizing Physical Possessions

Minimizing the things we have acquired over a lifetime is not for the faint of heart.  There are layers that have to be peeled back one at a time.  If you are anything like my family and me, you may find that you must tackle the easiest layers first.  Just the thoughts of turning loose of sentimental items would have turned me on my heel before I even began to minimize if we had made up our minds to start at that layer first.  To be completely honest, I am STILL working on some hang-ons in the sentimental layer.  The things that are attached to a memory are the hardest things for me to let go.

Physical possessions can become idols to us.  They can compete with God for our affections and when we allow them to, they can become our first love.

"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; these things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them, liars, and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.  Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."  Revelation 2:1-4

We can have ever so much going for us, spiritually, but if we love anything or anyone more than we love Jesus, that thing or person has come between us and Him.

Every slice of the Whole-Person Pie© springs from the spiritual.
What is in the heart determines our behavior in all aspects of our lives.

Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."  Matthew 12:34  (KJV)

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."  Proverbs 4:23  (KJV)

Here are six questions that will help you view the minimizing of physical possessions through a spiritual lens and unearth what is in the heart.


1.  Why am I holding on to this?  As stated above, our actions spring from what is in the heart.  There is a spiritual root at the base of why we do what we do.  As you pick up each individual item, search your soul and give yourself an honest answer.  Do you love anything more than you love Jesus?  Are you trying to compete or keep up with others?  Do you feel the need to flaunt what you own to impress others?  Could it be that your refusal to let go of something you no longer need is hindering someone else from having their need supplied?  There are many reasons we feel compelled to hold onto something we no longer need, use, or enjoy—feelings of guilt for getting rid of a gift that someone sacrificed to give, sadness over releasing something that belonged to a deceased loved one, fear that getting rid of something will offend or hurt someone else's feelings, our own pride, the desire for prestige, selfishness, greed, and a multitude of other reasons.  Sometimes identifying your own motives and reasons for clinging to excess physical possessions will give you the courage to open your mind to the possibility of letting them go.  "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."  Colossians 3:2  (KJV)
Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  Matthew 6:19-21  (KJV)

2.  When did I last use this?  If something is stuffed into a dresser drawer, buried in the back of a closet, hidden in a cupboard, high on a shelf, or otherwise out of sight, chances are it can be classified as excess.  If you really need, use, or enjoy something it will usually be out where you can regularly see it and where it is readily available.  Obviously, there are things that we cherish, such as collections, family heirlooms, children's artwork, photographs, etc., that are out of sight but still comfort and bring us joy.  Those things will be forever precious to us, and the place they have earned in our hearts guarantees a permanent place in our homes.  What I am referring to are the inanimate items that are of no emotional significance and are stored away out of sight "just in case you might need them someday."  It is easy to forget unseen possessions, and if you no longer need, use, or enjoy something, why keep it?   There are others who desperately do need the things that have become unnecessary to us.  "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."  Luke 3:11  (KJV)

3.  How does this enrich, improve, and add value to my life?  Imagine how much more peaceful life would be if we kept only the things that fill our cup and let go of everything that drains it.  There are things that, just by their presence in our lives and home, resurrect bad memories, take us back to a painful time, or even bring anxiety.  The anguish of parting with toxic possessions will only last for a short time.  After you eliminate the negative from your life, you will feel a sense of freedom that will overwhelm any separation anxiety ahead of time.  "Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it."  Proverbs 15:16 (ESV)

4.  Where does this rank on my list of priorities?  As Christians, God should come first, and our spouse and children should come next.  If the conditions to own, maintain, or keep something are requiring us to put God on the back burner and rarely see our family, there is obviously a conflict of interests, and our priorities are not in proper alignment.  "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."  Exodus 34:14 (KJV)

5.  Who is affected by my keeping this?  Having a cluttered, overstuffed home and environment cultivates disorganization, stifles productivity and breeds discontent and irritability, not only in ourselves but in the loved ones who share our living space.  Home should be a haven—a resting place—a comforting atmosphere where all who abide feel a sense of calm and freedom to unwind, relax, and feel safe.  Hoarding and clinging to what is not meaningful and beneficial at the expense of our spouse, children's, other household members', and our own peace is just plain unfair and self-serving.  "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother."  Romans 14:13 (ESV)

6.  What should I do with this?  Grab four different boxes and label them, "Keep", "Trash", "Donate", and "Sell."  As you work through the first five questions, decide, item by item, if it is a keeper, trash, a donation, or something to sell, then put it in the appropriate box.  Keep filling each box as you minimize.  Create a permanent place for everything you are going to keep and as soon as the "Keep" box is full, empty it by putting each item in its place.  As soon as the "Donate" box is full, take it to your car and put it in your trunk.  As you see the person you are giving the item to or drive by your donation spot, pass the donation on, without a backward glance.  As the "Sell" box becomes full, decide how/where you will sell each item.  Ebay, Craig's List, Letgo, consignment shops, classified newspaper ads, flea markets, free bulletin boards, and yard sales are all obvious choices.  Dispose of the "Trash" box, and you are good to go.  You will be amazed at how this simple act of dividing every single item in your home into four categories gives you a sense of accomplishment.  I'll warn you, this is a good kind of addiction!  Once you get those boxes emptied, you can't wait to get started on the next round of minimizing and filling them up again!  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  James 1:5 (KJV)

Some closing thoughts—
  • Focus most on what you're taking with you to eternity.  The rest will be left behind.
  • Excess is everything beyond what we need, use, and enjoy.
  • Your minimizing journey will not look exactly like anyone else's.  Follow God's path for you.
  • When in doubt as to what to do in any situation, seek the Lord for guidance.  He sees the future, and if you follow Him wholeheartedly and exactly, you will never go wrong.
  • When it came time for Jesus to begin His earthly ministry, He traveled light.
  • Traveling light sets us completely free to do anything He asks even when it is without a moment's notice.
  • If you have two of something, keep one and let the other(s) go.  
  • The less you have, the less you have to worry about.
  • Keep it simple ~ go get four boxes, label them keep, trash, donate, and sell, then pick a room, drawer, closet, cupboard, or section of your house, and get started!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Minimizing Physical Possessions

How is it going with The P.O.W.E.R. Tool©?  Have you picked it up yet?  Are you using it?  If you missed the last post and wonder what this is all about, you can download your own FREE P.O.W.E.R. Tool© by clicking HERE.  Several of you have joined me on my journey, and I cannot begin to say how grateful I am to have you on board.  All are welcome!  If you decide to join in, please let me know by emailing me privately or commenting here on the blog.  And, remember, even if you don't need to minimize excess pounds, the tenets of The P.O.W.E.R. Tool© will lead you closer to Jesus and to better physical health, too!

There are two parts to the Physical Slice of the Whole-Person Pie©.


We have talked in-depth in this post and this post and this post about minimizing the seven categories that make up the Physical Slice.
We've covered addictions, habits, obesity, our hands and feet, what we see, what we hear, and what we speak. 

Now, we will move forward to the 2nd part of the Physical Slice of the pie—the minimizing of our physical possessions.  

At first glance, how do things look in this area for you?  Do you feel suffocated and overwhelmed by stuff?  Is your home cluttered?  Do you have a hard time finding things?  Do you continually feel that you need a bigger house?  Are you faced with too many product choices when cooking a meal, getting dressed, or doing household chores?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, chances your physical possessions exceed what you actually need.  When it all boils down, we, as human beings, need very little. 

As we go through the writing of this new blog, my main goal is to point you only to Jesus Christ.  He is the Word of God that became flesh and lived in a human body for 33 1/2 years so that we could see who God is, how He thinks, and the way He wants us to live our lives.  How blessed we are that four men named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John took the time and effort necessary to write His precious spoken words down for us!  How grateful we should be to Him and the many who have sacrificed through the years to make sure our Bibles were preserved and passed down to us!  How sad that we pick them up and read and study them so infrequently! 

Every answer to every problem of life can be solved in the Word of God.  It was written over the span of approximately 1500-1550 years (from around 1450 B.C. to around 95 A.D.) through the Holy Spirit inspiring around 40 different authors.  Though the last book of the Bible was inspired and written down over 1920 years ago, it is every bit as relevant and up-to-date and applicable to our daily lives as it was the moment dear Saint John penned the final words of the book of Revelation in 95 A.D.

As we work through the process of minimizing our lives and trying to bring them into alignment with the will of God, His Word is our roadmap to Heaven and our instruction manual on how to live our lives on earth.  I am continually amazed at Its practicality and the way It can be applied to every, single circumstance of our lives no matter how much time has elapsed since it was written.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are so blessed to have the Word of God in front of us and the Spirit of God within us.  The Word and the Spirit always agree, and if we continually yield in obedience to the guidance of the Word and Spirit of God, we will live a successful Christian life and reach our goal of Heaven when we leave this earth.

When I first began to write the book, called "Biblical Minimalism," I dove deep into God's Word because I truly have nothing of eternal value to offer of my own.  I only want to operate on the premise of the eternal, unchanging Word of God and to figure out what its precepts look like lived out in a functional way.  I began to research what the Bible says about the subject of physical possessions, and I paid special attention to the red letters in verses like these—

"And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."  Luke 12:15

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  Matthew 6:19-21

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."  Luke 12:33 (NIV)

"And, behold, one came and said unto him, 'Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?'  And He said unto him, 'Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.'  He saith unto him, 'Which?' Jesus said, 'Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honor thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'  The young man saith unto Him, 'All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?'  Jesus said unto him, 'If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me.'  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."  Matthew 19:16-22

I also looked closely at the way Jesus lived His life.  Because, with every fiber of my being, I SO long to be and live like He did!  I have felt so drawn to a simple, eternity-focused life, and for a long time, I didn't understand why.  One day, it hit me that it is HIM—I feel so compellingly called to follow Him and emulate His walk as closely as I possibly can. 

Jesus was unencumbered.  He was fully available in each moment.  He was completely present in every circumstance.  He traveled light.  He didn't hoard.  He had only what He needed at all times.  He shared everything He had.  He gave until His dying breath. 

Remember, everything springs from the spiritual, including what motivates us to have so much stuff in the first place.

I hope you will continue to follow along as we explore these motivations and lots more about releasing our excess physical possessions!  God bless you on your minimizing journey!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Introducing The P.O.W.E.R. Tool© ~ Facing Obesity Head On

We all know what obesity can do to the temple where God dwells. According to the Science Reference Guide obesity can adversely affect the cardiovascular system, kidneys, immune system, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, reproductive system, digestive system, liver, endocrine system, and mental health, and it can lead to a plethora of illnesses and diseases.

I said in the last post that I was going to get pretty personal in this one.  I am going to be very transparent here because if we are ever going to make progress and come in alignment with Biblical Minimalism, the first thing we are going to have to do is be honest.  God already knows, right?  

Hebrews 4:13 says, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."  

So, I am going to come clean.  Right here and right now.  I need to lose 60 pounds.  Yes, I said 60.  God help and forgive me.  Granted, I do suffer from a health condition that contributes to obesity, but in addition to that, I have allowed food to become a stronghold —let me just call it what it is —an addiction in my life.

Since my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, I feel deeply convicted of carrying the excess weight that is contributing and adding to a multitude of health problems.  I pray for physical healing, yet my heart, lungs, and other organs are having to work overtime to keep up with the excess 60 pounds I am carrying around.  I am working against my own prayers.

Did you ever have something that God has plainly shown you needs adjustment in your life, and you see the issue and know you need to make necessary changes, but at the same time, you feel utterly powerless to do what needs to be done?  If you have ever experienced this type of what I call behavior paralysis, you will understand where I am coming from.  I see the weight, I know with all my heart that it is not pleasing to God, that it is adversely affecting my health, and I am the only one who can do anything about it.  I hate the way I look and feel, but yet, I hardly know where to begin.  It seems so daunting.  When I think of the number 60 and how hard it is to lose one pound, I can very quickly talk myself out of trying to lose weight at all.

This is one of satan's tactics —to get us so discouraged with how far off track we are that we freeze in place and don't do anything about it all.

Remember, it takes a strong hand to undo a stronghold.  

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."  2 Corinthians 10:4

Only GOD can help us minimize and release certain addictions, habits, and unhealthy situations and patterns in our lives.  After trying and failing at so many diets and weight loss tactics, it is plain for me to see that my excess physical body weight is most definitely one stronghold that carnal weapons are not going to be successful in pulling down.  I think I am finally seeing the reason why.

Remember how I said we would view each of the eight slices of the Whole-Person Pie© through a spiritual lens?  You can read about that HERE.

My obesity/excess body weight is stemming from a spiritual root.  Food is an area of my life that is absolutely not in submission to the power of the Holy Spirit.  He dwells in me, but I have not relinquished this part of me to Him.  I see other types of sin for what they are, but for some reason, I manage to justify gluttony, lack of exercise, and the overriding of the condemnation I feel for contributing to my own health problems.

I have prayed much over this.  Prayer is a two-way street.  If we are going to talk to God, we must also be willing to listen to His end of the conversation.  God is omniscient, and He knows if our prayers come from a place of wholeheartedness or if we would rather not hear what He has to say.  I think I have finally reached a place of seeking Him with my whole heart, stopped making excuses and justifications for my obesity, and am willing to face the truth for what it is.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, "And ye shall seek Me, and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your heart."

I am finally there.  I want to hear what He has to say —regardless how it exposes the ugliness of my sin.  Thankfully, God never reveals our problem areas without having the antidote readily available.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  I John 1:9

"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."  I Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

I am very thankful that, by the grace of God only, I don't struggle with drug, alcohol, or nicotine addiction.  But, how can I judge those who do struggle and consistently give in to temptation in these areas while I am guilty of the sin of gluttony?

Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."  Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)

Admitting the truth and calling sin by its real name is the first step to help.  Once we have overcome this hurdle, successfully minimizing the excess body weight becomes a real possibility.

If you are struggling in this area, I want you to know that you are not alone.  I am right there with you, struggling with all my might, and I would love for us to lock arms and walk this path together.  This is why I am being so transparent here.  Transparency creates a sense of accountability, and if we get really honest with one another, perhaps it will encourage us to try harder and overcome together.

So, I am now hoping you can imagine the sound of a drumroll —because I am getting ready to introduce something really exciting that God has placed upon my heart!  Are you ready?

 Here it is!  (I am including a link below where you can click and go download your very own printable copy!)


The P.O.W.E.R. Tool© is a system that incorporates five basic components into your daily life.
P - Prayer
O - Outreach
W - Water
E - Exercise
R - Reading God's Word
What do prayer, Bible reading, and outreach remotely have to do with a "weight loss" plan?  To me, they are vitally important because everything springs from the spiritual
NOTE:  Even if you do not struggle with obesity and have no need for minimizing in this area of life, the P.O.W.E.R. Tool© will remind you to do things on a daily basis that will benefit your physical health and draw you closer to God.

So, how do you use the P.O.W.E.R. Tool©?
Here are the steps:
  1. First of all, you print out your very own copy by clicking HERE.
  2. Write tomorrow's date in the upper left corner.
  3. Weigh yourself first thing tomorrow morning. 
  4. Record your weight under tomorrow's date.
  5. Set five basic goals.  
  • P - Prayer ~ How much time will you commit to spending in prayer each day?  Don't place undue pressure on yourself.  If goals are too lofty to be realistic, they set us up for failure.  Start out with the minimal (get it?  Minimal?😂) amount of time that you feel you can realistically devote to quiet, uninterrupted prayer time.  No one will see this, except you.  Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, and He will show you what is right for you.  This can always be changed, obviously, and if you are like me, you will find prayer time to be its own kind of "addictive."  The more time you spend with God, the more you will long to be in His presence.  When you feel tempted to eat something you know you shouldn't, find a place alone with God, and sit at His feet feasting on "Heavenly manna," instead.
  • O - Outreach ~ This category is all about others.  Set a goal as to a number of outreach efforts you hope to accomplish per day.  Personalize this to make it fun.  Think, first and foremost, of those who live under your roof.  Commit to doing something kind for each one of them every day.  (No need to overcomplicate.  You're probably doing this anyway.)  Then think of those who do not live with you, including strangers.  There are innumerable ways you can reach out and show Jesus' love.  Send an encouraging email or text, make a phone call, bake a cake, pay a compliment, buy a family's meal.  Get creative.  When you are tempted to have an in-between meal snack, fill it with your outreach goal instead.
  • W - Water ~ Staying well-hydrated is vital and a very necessary component of good general health and weight loss success.  Set a reasonable, doable goal that you can accomplish for each day.  Sixty-four ounces a day is generally considered to be adequate.  Replace high-calorie drinks with water.  You will be amazed how many calories this alone will trim from your daily caloric intake.  When you crave something sweet, drink an 8-ounce glass of water.
  • E - Exercise ~ Set a specified number of minutes per day as your goal.  Again, be realistic, because you want to succeed, and you want to do this for the long haul.  As you become healthier, you can increase this as you go.  Start out with what you can reasonably do.  As your stamina increases, so will your self-esteem.  When you are tempted to eat more than you should, push your plate away, and go take a walk instead.
  • R - Read your Bible ~ Decide if you want to set your goal based on time or chapters/verses.  If you are only able to give one verse your full, undivided attention, then set your daily Bible reading goal at one verse.  It is better to really absorb what you are reading than to skim over the "meat" just so you can say you met your goal for the day.  When you are struggling with the urge to munch on something, open your Bible and become engrossed in God's Word.
      6. Write the date each day, and as you go through the day and meet your individual five goals,
          place a check mark beside each category.  Ideally, by the time you go to bed each night, you
         will have prayed, reached out to others, drank a sufficient amount of water, exercised, and read
         your Bible.  
      7. Each P.O.W.E.R. Tool© sheet will last for four weeks.  At the end of the four weeks,
          record the date and your ending weight.  Print another sheet, and keep going!

Some things to think about and remember —

  • The P.O.W.E.R. Tool© will not work unless you pick it up and use it.  
  • Keep your sheet near the place that you spend the biggest part of your day so you will be reminded often.
  • The goal, of course, is to have five check marks at the end of each day.  You won't always meet your goal.  Don't get discouraged.  Don't beat yourself up.  NO judgment here.  Tomorrow is another day.  Start over, and try to do better.
  • Be aware of empty spaces with no check marks.  Learn from them.  For example, ask yourself why you weren't able to work your exercise into your day yesterday?  Try to avoid the same pitfall today.  
  • The P.O.W.E.R. Tool© is designed as a means to help you achieve success in several "slices" of the Whole-Person Pie© —the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional will all benefit from forming a habit in doing all five of these things each day and will often spill over into the choices you make in the other four slices, also —the relational, occupational, obligational, and financial.  
  • If followed diligently, weight-loss should, hopefully, be a pleasant side-effect of the time you spend in prayer, reaching out to others, drinking water, exercising, and reading your Bible.  
  • This is not really about calories, carbs, measuring, or a list of rules.  It is more about developing these five daily habits and seeking God concerning the rest.  His Spirit is faithful and will direct food choices if we will just listen.
  • You can jump on board any day of the week.  There's no time like the present.  Start tomorrow!
PLEASE let me know if you decide to make the commitment to pick up the P.O.W.E.R. Tool©, by leaving a comment and/or emailing me privately.  I want to pray for and with you.  We can encourage one another along this minimizing journey!  I hope to hear from you!


Friday, June 1, 2018

Minimizing The Physical ~ Part Two

If this is your first time visiting here, I'd like to extend a hearty welcome to you! If you have been faithfully following along, thank you from the bottom of my heart!  I hope this blog will inspire you to let go of this world and pursue a more eternity-focused life as you press closer to Jesus and the way He lived His life on earth.

Picking up from the last post, we will continue studying the Physical Slice of the Whole-Person Pieˆ©.


We already discussed how the Physical Slice can be divided into two categories —the Physical Body & Physical Possessions.


Today, I wanted to provide yet another pie chart to give a visual and divide the Physical Body category into seven areas that may have need of minimizing.


Before I say anything else, I want to say that there is NO judgment here. Everything said comes from a heart of love and from a person who is extremely broken. I am not, in any sense of the word, an expert, nor do I come close to having the answers. My only means of making it through this life is to cling, with everything I've got, to the mercy of God and to stay low at Jesus' feet. Nothing that is published on this blog is meant to condemn or to make anyone feel hopeless or judged. I speak as one who struggles and fails immeasurably and who is still learning what grace is all about.

Today is a new day, and even if you find that there are things in the physical "slice" of your life that desperately need to be minimized and/or cut off completely, don't lose hope. You are not alone! We are all in the same fallen, human condition, and our God is with you, He loves you intensely, and He is the chain breaker. There is nothing too hard for Him.

"And Jesus looking upon them said, With men, it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:27

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear." Isaiah 59:1

As you think of the seven physical body categories —what are the first things that come to your mind? Do you readily identify any excess? Are there any areas that need to be minimized to come into alignment with the way Jesus lived His life?

Addictions
We talked about several common addictions in the last post. Addiction is a powerful force that wreaks havoc on a physical body, destroys marriages, alters brain chemicals and personalities, prompts erratic and aggressive behavior, and has been the cause of innumerable untimely and premature deaths.

That sneaky, little thing called food, when overindulged in holds equal power to other addictions to land us in an early grave. To justify gluttony, try to invalidate and downplay its seriousness, and pretend it is less "sinful" than the other addictions is just plain denial.

Addictions become things/substances that control our lives. They are cruel taskmasters that bring us under bondage to their demands. We follow where they lead, and usually, without Divine intervention, we cannot overcome them on our own.

It takes a strong hand to undo a stronghold, but there is no addiction more powerful than the strong hand of our God.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:3,4

When you feel like your situation is the exception to the rule and you see no way out of the chains of addiction, I'd like you to think of one thing. Remember the Old Testament Israelites? The bondage they were under was brutal and seemed impossible to escape. It had started years before and through no fault of their own when their ancestors, the sons of Jacob, sold their brother, Joseph, into slavery. From that point until 430 years later, they were bound under a cruel yoke to the Egyptians. If you want to read something that will give you hope and greatly increase your faith in God's ability to break chains, read Exodus chapter 13, especially verses 3, 9, 14, and 16 because these verses double down on and emphasize the strength of God's hand.

God can pull down ANY stronghold, no matter how long it has been a part of one's life or how severe the power it wields.

Habits
At first glance, habits sounded a lot like addictions to me. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a habit is something that has become a routine from a consistent action. Habits do not necessarily dictate or control your life, and you can certainly live without them. Habits can be positive or negative; healthy or unhealthy; detrimental or helpful. You have the power to change them or stop doing them at any time, simply by ceasing or altering a certain pattern of behavior. It will take a measure of self-control to minimize habits that are not pleasing to God, and we need His help always, but a habit is not as hard to release or minimize as is an addiction.

Obesity
Excess body weight is an area that is WAY out of balance and in dire need of minimizing in my life. Since I am writing from a place of intense personal experience, I have a lot to say about this subject and will share the thoughts God is giving me in a future post. I can't wait to delve into all of it with you in case anyone else struggles in this area. We can not only struggle together through this process, but we can overcome together, too, by God's grace!

Hands & Feet
Where we go, how we use our bodies, our conduct and behavior —these all have to do with our hands and feet. Following Jesus brings about a change in every part of our lives.   2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

As a Christian striving to live an eternity-focused, Biblically minimal life, there are many things that have to be shed from our lives. The places we go, the things we do, the way we act and interact with others, and everything about our behavior should look like Jesus. A lofty ambition, I know, but required if we are to live a holy life.

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." I Peter 1:14-16 (NIV)

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming. In these, you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator." Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV)

Seeing
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. That applies not only to a person looking into the eyes of another and seeing what is going on inside of them, but it is equally applicable to the fact that what we take in through our eyes directly affects our soul and spiritual walk. The things we watch, the things we read, the things we look at...are they things Jesus would watch, read, and look at? Would we allow ourselves to see them if He were in the room seated beside us? Could they be called "holy"? Do they edify our souls? Do they incite lustful thoughts? What reaction do they spark?

Hearing
What do music, slander, gossip, evil surmising, and preached sermons have in common? All of them enter our bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit, by way of our sense of hearing. As we think of the type of music and lyrics and the conversations we allow ourselves to hear while communicating with others, how does it all line up with the things Jesus would listen to? Does anything need to be minimized or completely cut off from our lives? How is our spiritual "mood" affected after listening to our favorite type of music? Are we drawn closer to thoughts of God and worship, or do we feel more distanced from Him after allowing it to filter through our minds?

Speaking
Oh, the tongue! That little, tiny member of our bodies. Oh, the trouble it can cause! Oh, the blessing it can be! "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Proverbs 18:21

James says it much more eloquently than I ever could. "For in many things we offend all. If any man offends not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they are so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so, the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh." James 3:2-12

What we allow our eyes to see, our ears to listen to, our routines/habits to include, our bodies to ingest and become addicted to, our tongues to speak, our hands to do, and where we allow our feet to carry us absolutely and widely affects the temple in which God dwells. Remember, as Christians, our bodies are not our own. Jesus Christ laid down His life and shed His blood by means of the most brutal, cruel means of death known to man to redeems us and enable us to live a holy life.
I Peter 1:18,19 says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot." (Berean Study Bible)

If we will come before Him with an open and honest heart, He will faithfully shine His light upon our path, pointing out the areas that need to be pruned, minimized, and laid aside.


Remember this. You are not expected to do this alone. We are in this together, and our God is a Chain Breaker!

 

Stay tuned for the next post where I will be getting personal. That is never easy for me, but if we are going to make any progress, the first step is, to be honest and embrace reality. I hope you will take my hand and walk this journey with me!