Step 2, Bible Studies

The Gigantic Fridge isn't So Big AfterallPremium Content

The refrigerator -- the bane of so many of our life issues, huh?

When I was a little girl, I almost had the entire Sindy doll set up. I had her accessories, clothes, horse and of course, doll furniture. This refrigerator was part of the kitchen set. And, as part of my play, I had different food items kept in there: chicken, orange juice and even a teeny tiny ice cube tray with itty bitty ice cubes. It made playing with my Sindy, Barbie and Ken dolls all the more realistic.

Still, I knew this yellow fridge was a toy.

Unfortunately, as I grew up, I had a more difficult time seeing the actual refrigerator for what it was, without making it more powerful than it needed to be.

"Is not life more than food?" Jesus, in Matthew 6:25

A fridge was an appliance to contain and cool perishable food. It was not, however, my enemy, a monster plotting to trap and torment me. Neither was it my unfailing friend, soothing and comforting every wound and issue. Yet, with my eating disorder behaviors, that was actually the power I gave to it. Simply stated, I viewed the fridge as larger than life.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do. The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

That's part of the challenge of our food and weight issues, isn't it? We see things looming larger and more powerful in our lives than they should be. We use black and white thinking to decide if food, our disorders, our exercise patterns and our refrigerators are for or against us. Many times, we look at our fridges and see the enemy, a Goliath who will only defeat us.

Our heart issues can set us up for failure, for pain and for addictive and disorderly thoughts and actions. That's why God brings the issue up in the first place:

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The Ultimate Therapist

I came across a humorous post on the internet:

"Someone's therapist knows all about you."

It made me laugh… and think. I thought back to many therapy sessions I engaged in, talking about certain individuals and their impact of my life, disorder and state of mind. I talked about my mother, my dad and my childhood bullies. Believe me, I had A LOT to say. So, yes, even though my therapist never met them, she knew all about these people.

But this humorous post touched on something bigger. It wasn't just about the acquired knowledge a therapist gained when his/her patient ranted about their issues. It had to do with God - the ultimate therapist-and His role in our lives as we struggle, hurt and encounter recovery.

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>

Cue the heart, therefore:

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

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

But this heart issue is not a passive thing, ignored by God. Quite the contrary, in fact.

"…the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

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

In other words…

Are you hearing Him?Premium Content

When I was a child, I had repeated ear infections. My earliest memories are of me, screaming in the car, on the way to the doctor, with a hot water bottle pressed against my painful bleeding ear. Fun.

Years later, the ear ache issue pops up again. I've been told I'm a great listener. People feel they can tell me anything, and often do. I love helping people. But there is a line, all too often, they want to cross. And so, if I'm not careful, I can often find myself with a spiritual ear ache.

Most of us know God is love.

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God...1 John 4:7

But is love always telling someone what he/she wants to hear? No.

But this desire to only hear pleasant things still exists, nevertheless. We like "feel good" affirmations.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. 2 Timothy 4:3

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things... Isaiah 30:10

Ever since the book on my eating disorder journey came out years ago, I've been repeatedly approached by people who are also affected by addictions, disorders and dysfunctions. I am not a therapist; I make that clear from the start. Yet, I often encounter people, who feel that, because he/she is communicating with me, suddenly, it's okay to stop his/her recovery program. Wrong answer!

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What happens when we sin?Premium Content

If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.1 John 2:1

From time to time we hear - sometimes even in the secular media - of some prominent Christian who has fallen into scandalous sin. I remember when Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart very publicly got caught in sin, and they were neither the first nor the last people to endure those circumstances. When we see such famous people - famous, at least, in Christian circles - fall into sin, many questions can come into our minds.

Obviously we wonder whether these people are actually Christians - a legitimate question, though we have to be careful not to condemn on partial evidence, for what would someone think of us if he had no more hard facts than we receive through the media? There is also the question of what happens to such people if they are in fact truly regenerate. Sometimes it might seem that a sin is so public, and so egregious, that surely the person involved must have lost his salvation if he ever had it.

Of course to create doctrine based solely on our reason is dangerous - our minds are as fallen as any other part of us, and are as subject to malfunction as our hearts or eyes. We simply don't think clearly in this world - the most brilliant preachers and theologians in history (I think offhand of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and J.I. Packer - with a little work I could extend the list a long way) have not been as brilliant as they would have been had there never been a fall. Every one of us, from little children just born to certified geniuses, suffer from the effects of the fall on our minds. This is one reason why we must always derive our doctrine from the Scriptures, and subject our doctrine to the Book, for there is no human mind capable of infallibly reasoning its way to the truth.

And when we think of the

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Each of Us is that 100th SheepPremium Content

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace." Jeremiah 50:6

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and the passage about the good shepherd.

Flock of sheep. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:3-7

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

And most of us have seen the matching artwork, the depiction of a loving, attentive Jesus holding a lamb in His arms.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... Isaiah 40:11

Yet, there seems to be a disconnection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loves us; He's our good shepherd. But do we REALLY personalize it? And what exactly would that mean to us?

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What is the Root Cause of Your Worry?

A scene from an episode of the final season of "Mad Men" captures a self-doubt moment beautifully. The exchange is between the protagonist, Don Draper and that of his protégée, Peggy Olsen. She recently turned thirty years old and, like most of us, life had not turned out how she expected it would. Peggy has a moment of self-doubt, one to which Draper responded…

"I worry about a lot of things. But I don't worry about you."

Worry. We have a lot of it in life. We worry about our jobs, our families, our place in this world and our recovery if we struggle with addictions, disorders and compulsions. We worry, even though "fear not" is mentioned by God numerous times in scripture. We cannot seem to help it.

So, where does all of this worry stem from? How about from a thought? Check yourself and see if you have ever thought some of these things about yourself.

"I'm nobody special…"

This is a biggie, hitting our core identity and our value. Most of us have encountered lying thoughts about ourselves here. Bullying, abuse and peer pressure often lead us to believe we're worthless and unwanted.

Eating Disorders: It is all about the heart

I admit it. Whenever I hear anyone touting fitness and health, my uneasy radar goes up. As someone in recovery from eating disorders, it's a sensitive thing. And, for as many people, who, indeed, strive to get healthier for health's sake, how many others are only looking to lose weight?

And, how many develop disordered eating behaviors and mindsets during that pursuit?

I may come across as overly critical here, but it's because the issue has hit so close to home. Not only have I personally battled disordered thoughts and behaviors, including anorexia and bulimia, I've also seen how it has spread within my family as well.

And, mostly, within that family context, the decision to diet or exercise is born out of a desire to be thin and to lose weight.

As a little girl, that was, indeed, my desire. I wanted to be good, lovable and pretty. And, I believed I wasn't because of my overweight physique.

I speak about it in my book, Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.

"...My first diet ended almost when it started, beginning an endless dieting roller-coaster. Diet after diet would start with this angelic-choir Hallelujah moment, followed by this new revelation that 'This is the diet. Diet ye in it.'"

Denial: Trying to Disguise the Truth

What Cracker?

He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Denial: it's a ridiculous looking thing.

I once saw a photograph of a mouse, looking straight at the camera, cheeks puffed out to a Saltine's square shape. And the tag line attached was "What cracker?"

It made me think of my own erratic disordered eating behaviors, including stealing my roommates' food and dumpster diving.

"...I thought I was hiding my secret well from the outside world. I replenished the food I'd stolen from my roommates. I played ‘beat the clock' before they came home to notice...

...It became a regular hide and steal, hide and eat, hide and deny game... I knew their schedules by heart. I'd wait for them to leave for class. I'd hurry home, skipping my own classes to ensure enough time alone... I had to eat as much as I could before they came home...

... I'd be first to volunteer among my roommates to take out the trash, because I knew what ‘goodies' I'd thrown out...

...Trips to the dumpster at 2:30 a.m. were not unusual... I'd rummage through other people's trash bags...

...I was caught on more than one occasion. I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster. As I became more desperate, however, I began going to the dumpster frequently in broad daylight while other students were coming and going from class... I tried to convince myself I could ‘just act natural' and disguise the truth..."

I was asking, "What Cracker?"

You Belong!

The longing to belong is very powerful and foundational to our sense of self. But there is an infinitely greater pull -- Father's. He is constantly seeking us out and calling our heart to his!

"My son, give me your heart." Proverbs 23:26

When we respond to this call it becomes a homecoming. The prodigal came to himself while slopping hogs and experienced a homecoming that he never imagined possible. How about you? Do you know beyond a shadow of doubt that you belong? Don't allow anyone to tell you something else.

Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, "God put me in second-class. I don't really belong." Isaiah 56:2 Msg

There are religious outsiders who will judge you. Their only agenda is dissuading your journey to Father's heart. As a matter of fact they don't even understand the conversation of the heart. Belonging empowers you to embrace and live in Grace. Belonging is the path to love. And belonging is bigger and louder than the voices of rejection.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. (Brennan Manning)

Even the darker parts of our journey become a homecoming. In the state of belonging we can truly rest. Read the following scriptures and settle in to belonging.

Laying Firm Foundations in Recovery

Jesus says:
Matthew 7:24-27
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Matthew 7:24-27 speaks to everyone who is in recovery. At one time or another, we all have built our houses on sand. That sand could be alcohol, riches, drugs, sex, food, another person, gambling, anger, abuse, depression, the list is endless. And just like sand, these God-substitutes slip through our fingers, leaving no trace as we desperately grasp at them looking for something firm to cling to. None of these sand-gods provide a firm foundation. Only God Almighty provides a foundation that is unshakable. No matter how bad things get, God is always there. He never fails. Yes, at times we may feel He is distant, but that is a FEELING. The reality is that He is always present and He holds you firmly in His grip, if you let Him.

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