Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Total Temple Makeover from the Inside Out
Tired of trying to get your body in shape so you can feel good about yourself?  Use the acronym T-E-M-P-L-E and find your peace about loving the body you’re in:
T-     Take the time and energy to cultivate the inward woman 
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” 
(2 Corinthians 4:16).
Our temples are falling apart every day. We can do all the botox, plastic surgery, and hair color we want to do, but if Jesus doesn’t come back before we die—our bodies will turn back to dust. Renew your spirit in Christ every single day for eternal purposes.

E-     Eat according to the leadings of the Spirit and not the cravings of the flesh “No temptation has taken you except what is common to man” 
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
Have you talked to God about making the right food choices before you eat? The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. We need to listen and obey the Spirit’s direction for what we should or shouldn’t eat. You will be surprised at how much more control you will gain over the flesh…one day at a time. 

M - Maintain your temple with diligence
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11)
Generations ago women had to walk miles for water, search for wood for the fire, chase down chickens, walk the cows—they were getting exercise. We must get up and live Proverbs 31:17 “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Get up! Do something active!

P- Pray for a balanced lifestyle plan that works for you.
“If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
Most of us know that we must eat less bad food and more good food. We got it. But we need to take the next step of applying that knowledge to our everyday life by seeking God’s wisdom. He made you. He knows what works best for your body.

L- Let go of unrealistic expectations
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11)
I don’t get how someone could wear a size zero…isn’t zero nothing? Also, let go of trying to get to a certain “number”—it can become a stronghold where you’re happy when your weight is down and sad when it goes up. God has called us to peace. Trust in His leading and you will be satisfied with yourself from the inside out.

E-     Enjoy your temple as a gift from God.
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1)
I heard Kay Arthur say, “Wear short sleeves and high heels as long as you can”. I love it. Enjoy the life God has given you while you still have breath in your body. Life is short. Our days on earth are numbered so enjoy an ice cream cone every now and then—but master the desire to please yourself more than you’re pleasing God.

Bottom line…you were created with exquisite care and beauty with the finger of God. What you may consider to be a mark of ugliness is God revealing His glory and countenance through you. No matter your body type, hair texture, skin color, or shoe size—you are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Let today be the first day of your journey to becoming the woman God created you to be!

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is it Time for a Temple Makeover?

A temple is a place where people worship God. Your body is the temple of God and you worship Him with your words, your actions, your attitudes, and your life.  

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

What’s the Big Deal anyway?

The big deal is that God cares about how we take care of (or don’t take care of) our bodies. Let’s take up the following ancient temple beauty tips:

The temple was beautifully crafted (1 Kings 6:22-23)
Just as Solomon made investments into the temple—we too must take care of our bodies. Dress your body in fashionable, but appropriate attire. “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (1Timothy 2:9).

The temple was filled with God’s glory (1 Kings 8:11)
In Solomon's temple God showed His presence with a glory cloud. As believers, we are filled with the Spirit and our actions/words reveal the presence of God.  “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).

The temple was sacred (2 Chronicles 20:19)
King Uzziah wrongly tried to burn incense in the temple and he was struck with leprosy. Your body is set apart for God’s purpose and not your own agenda. “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17).

Are you taking care of your temple? Did you know that there are consequences for temple neglect? Check out the following temple disasters:

                                The temple wasn’t a substitute for God (Jeremiah 7:4)
Jeremiah warned the Israelites about trying to worship other gods while still giving the appearance of worshipping God. We live in a culture that worships young, slim, and attractive bodies. As believers we recognize that we can take care of our bodies, but reserve all our worship for God. “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only” (Luke 4:8).

The temple could be destroyed (1 Kings 9:6-7)
When the Israelites turned away from God, He allowed for the destruction of the temple. Our bodies can be destroyed if we neglect our relationship with God. There are consequences for believers who choose sin over God. “… hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5)

The temple could be abused (Ezekiel 8:16)
Even before the temple was destroyed by a pagan king, the Israelites were abusing the temple with idol worship. When we don’t take care of our bodies by overeating or undereating—we abuse our temples. “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Have you been a good steward of your temple? Next time you will learn the steps of a temple makeover from the inside out.

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Faith Workout

A kindergartner teacher told our friends about how their son would run to the front of the line all the time. In response his father said, “Son, from now on, you take the last place in line.” This really tickles me because I can see his little 5-year-old heart restrained by the desire to be first, but resolved to do what his daddy said…or else!

His situation reminds me of how I need to restrain myself on a daily basis. I need restraint from my flesh in what I say, what I do, what I eat, and how I exemplify Christ around those He placed around me. I, too, am tempted to race ahead—to be first, to be recognized, to be proud. Yet my heavenly Father restrains me through the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Working on my first book, Spirit over Flesh, brings to mind how much I need to stay close to God. My flesh (or sinful nature) resists the teachings of the Bible, the promptings of the Spirit, and the convictions of my mind. Although I’m growing through it on a day to day basis, I’m still surprised to know that I have so much farther to go. Basically, my faith is being stretched as I grow up in Christ.

However, there is grace—more than enough grace to help me through this journey. I’ve written about the flesh, the mind, the Spirit, and the grace in blog postings previously. Review them if you would like in this order:
  • It’s the Dog in Me Part I and II (Feb)
  • Take a Walk with God (Feb)
  • What’s on your Mind? (Feb)
  • What’s Grace Got to do With It? (March)

Bottom line is this: we can’t grow in our faith unless it is tested. Just as a muscle becomes toned and stronger because of the weights—our faith must pick up something heavy to grow. The true test of your faith isn’t when everything is comfortable, but when it’s hard to press on and easy to give up.

Know that faith in God is a necessity to accomplishing your dreams and destiny—this will keep you humbled before Him. You will recognize that giving the flesh free rein in your life will keep your faith weak and ineffective for the kingdom. Your faith is precious and can be easily taken for granted if you don’t exercise it regularly. Remember…

 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see… And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:1, 6)

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Blew it Big Time !
Interview with Gomer from the Bible

Gomer was the unfaithful wife of the prophet, Hosea. He was sent to warn the people of Israel about their adultery in their worship of idols instead of God. Hosea’s relationship with Gomer was symbolic of God’s enduring love for His people. (Hosea 1:2-8, 3:1-3, 14:1,4)

Mrs. Hosea, I’m so grateful that you agreed to this interview. I know this can’t be easy for you.

“It’s not easy for anyone who’s really messed up in life to talk about it. But it’s necessary so that perhaps others might learn from my mistakes.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Agreed. There are many theories about your relationship with Hosea. Some say that he intentionally married you as a prostitute, but others say you left him to become a pagan harlot. What do you say about it?

“I say what does it matter? The point is that I violated our covenant of marriage without thinking hard about the consequences or how it would affect those who loved me.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

In Hosea 1:2, the Lord reveals how your marriage was symbolic to His relationship with Israel. What do you think about that?

“Yes…this is true. When I walked out on my marriage, Israel walked out on God…and people are still walking out on God. We lose sight of the big picture, and we suffer for it because our sin always finds us out.” (Numbers 32:23)

You didn’t come back to Hosea on your own…he had to buy back his own wife, correct?

“Yes this is true. Just like you and everyone else were once sinners, but Christ died for you. You were bought back just like me.” (Romans 5:8)

Amen Sister. How does one come back after they’ve really blown it?
“They repent. They turn away from their sin and choose to wholly give their hearts to God. You know, God will heal and love them freely because He is married to the backslider. He never stops loving us.” (Jeremiah 3:14, 22; Matthew 3:2,8)

That’s a good word, Mrs. Hosea. But is it that easy? I mean just to return back to God without being fearful of being condemned?

“It’s easy because He already has done all the work. God bought each person with the precious payment of His Son’s blood. He not only forgives, but He cleanses from all unrighteousness. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:9)

Oh, Mrs. Hosea…how the neighbors must’ve talked about the scandal when you returned home. How did you deal with the judgment of others?

“Yes, we can sin in private, but sometimes the consequences of our sins are very public. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God gives grace to the humble and will never leave us even as we work through the difficulty of our consequences.” (Romans 3:23, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Peter 5:5)

Thank you so much for your candid comments. Do you have any parting words for our readers?

“Absolutely. If you are tempted right now to sin, God will make a way for you to escape the temptation! Jesus was tempted in every way, but He didn’t sin. If you are a believer, you have the ability to overcome your temptations if you would just ask for His help. If you aren't a believer, believe in Jesus' sacrifice for your sins and be saved. (Acts 2:21; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18, 4:15)

*If you have blown it like me, take the time today to talk to God. He already knows what's on your heart and mind--tell Him for your sake. God never turns away from a repentant heart. Give Him a chance to heal your brokenness and be restored to the One who loves you most.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dodging Despair?

Have you ever felt despair? Perhaps you're experiencing a winter season of cold, long and dark days where nothing blooms or tweets out a lovely song in the morning. It could be from an illness, disappointment, discouragement, trials of many kinds, or unanswered prayers.  

How do you dig yourself out of the hole before it consumes your joy and peace?

First: Look up to God

He’s ready for you. He knows that you are going through a hard time. He will never desert you in your time of trouble even if you don’t feel His presence…He’s there.

When you are feeling low, there can be the temptation to look to everyone and everything else except God. Why is that? Is it because you’re afraid that He might bring up your failures that have brought you to this point? Is it because you’re doubtful that He is going to help you? Or is it that you are so accustomed to getting your “fix” from the TV, food, internet, friends, and/or busyness?

Only God offers true joy, peace, and contentment regardless of your circumstances. You can  wake up and step out everyday because of His faithfulness. He longs for you to spend time talking to Him about what’s going on in your life.

“Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Second: Look to His Word

The Bible isn't a history book filled with wonderful, unbelievable stories. It’s God’s love letter that speaks to every situation in your life. You can’t approach it like you would a schoolbook or novel. The best approach is to begin with a spirit of expectancy and prayer. Simply ask God to speak to you from His word. He loves you…He won’t hold back. God's word is powerful.

If reading the Bible is new to you, start with the book of John and write down your thoughts about Jesus—what does He do, what does He say, how does He deal with people especially those who are hurting and may be going through days of despair. After you finish John, perhaps try out an Old Testament book like Psalms or Proverbs—again write out anything that really sticks in your mind as you read it. Begin to select certain verses just to think about when you wake up, during the day, and before you go to sleep.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalms 119:105).

Your life will be full of triumphs and tragedies no matter where you live, what you do, or who you know. Like the winter season—there is a beginning and an end—eventually you will move on to the next season of life. It is critical that you put all your trust in the Lord to lead you in the right paths with prayer and Bible study.

 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18).

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Relentless in Red Flags

Book Review for John Bevere’s Relentless

I picked John Bevere’s book, Relentless, mainly because of the title. I was at a place where I was feeling “relentless” about Christ—similar to how the Canaanite woman was unyielding in her request for Jesus to heal her daughter. (Matthew 15:22-28) Bevere is a good writer with the ability to use anecdotes from his life experiences to draw the reader in for a compelling, but questionable ride. 

By chapter 2, I began to sense red flags in my spirit about this book. I’m not a pastor, a theologian, or an apologist; but Bevere’s assertion of a “take-back plan” was troublesome. He posited that God’s hands were tied with mankind until Jesus came and took it back from Satan. But according to Psalms 103: 19- The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. I’m compelled by this scripture to believe that God can do whatever He wants and Satan is being used by God for His purposes.

I also struggled with Bevere’s theology of sickness and poverty because of my brothers and sisters in Christ languishing in North Korean and Saudi Arabian prison (as well as in many other parts of the world) because of their confession of faith. They could easily be healthy and wealthy if they would just deny Christ.

Bevere’s assertion that 98% of Christians don’t clearly understand grace was also problematic. I could be wrong, but I believe most believers understand that grace is God’s favor and power on us especially when we struggle. Bevere’s theology doesn’t seem to take into account that our weaknesses or doubts are covered by God’s grace…especially when our faith is shaken by trials and troubles—that it is God’s grace, not our strong faith that makes the difference.

Perhaps I fall into that 98% of people; even so I wouldn’t recommend this book to a new believer or someone struggling in their faith. I would be concerned that they would build their faith on the sand of questionable teachings and not on the Rock of truth—our Lord Jesus’ teachings on faith.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this honest review.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What’s Grace got to do with It?

Tina Turner asked this question about love. We ask it about grace. Grace is what you absolutely must cling to when you are weak in the flesh and struggle with:

Persecution     Overeating      Lust                 Fear                Losing your temper
Sickness         Gossiping        Jealousy          Shame             Speaking without thinking
Regret             Lying               Hate                Worry              Keeping an unforgiving heart

Of course, there are more…doubts, anxiousness, harshness, the list could go on. These are just a tad bit of the struggle. We have weaknesses that keep us from growing up spiritually and experiencing the abundant life of joy and peace in the Spirit.

Have you asked God to take away your weakness in the flesh, but it seems like nothing ever changes? Don’t be discouraged because Paul asked God three times to take away his thorn in the flesh, but Jesus didn't take it away. Instead Jesus answered him:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”
 (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Whatever your struggle or problem, God’s grace is enough for you! It’s a matter of surrendering your self-dependence and becoming completely God-dependent. Grace is the ability to overcome your deficiencies and reflect God’s glory in spite of your imperfections. This isn’t a get-away-with-sin card. Not at all.

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
 (Romans 6:1-2).

When you gave your life to Christ, the power of sin was broken. You must come to the end of yourself and lay your independence at the foot of the cross. Repent—turn away from your sins so you can be free:

“For sin shall no longer be your master,
because you are not under the law, but under grace”
(Romans 6:14).

He gives His grace to work out His purposes in spite of your weaknesses. There’s so much more for you to do in this life if you would only receive the grace of God to overcome the desires of the flesh.

You were born for more than just barely living saved. There’s a purpose, a plan, and a destiny for you when you tap into God’s grace for strength in the midst of your troubles. When you are weak or burden by temptations, call out:

“God, grant me the grace I need to overcome!”

The New International Version. 2011. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.