Every word you give me is a miracle word—
how could I help but obey?
Break open your words, let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
Mouth open and panting,
I wanted your commands more than anything.
Turn my way, look kindly on me,
as you always do to those who personally love you.
Steady my steps with your Word of promise
so nothing malign gets the better of me.
Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
so I can live life your way.
Smile on me, your servant;
teach me the right way to live.Psalm 119:129-135, The Message
A lot of stuff has been happening in my life… I’ve done and had the temptation to do certain things. Can you help? – C
Although I don’t know the details of your situation, I do know what it’s like to feel tempted and trapped by something. Yesterday I talked about my own struggle with body image and even an eating disorder. It’s definitely not something that I’m proud of, but I share it in order to point victory back to God. I feel like every time I speak and share my story people ask how I was able to stop something that was such a big temptation for me. Let’s be honest, I enjoyed being tempted by food. I despised being tempted to make myself sick. But both areas of temptation led me to sin, and led me to feel trapped by that sin. I felt like a hamster on one of those wheels. I kept running and running, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Until one day I realized that my sin was stealing life from me. I’ve always wanted to live a good story and do something meaningful and exciting with my time on this earth. I also want to honor God with my life. By giving into my area of weakness (food AND a desire to look a certain way) I let sin and it’s consequences write my story. Rather than honoring God, I was dishonoring Him by hurting the body He had “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139)
The second half of John 10:10 gets quoted by many people… “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I love that verse. I love the reminder that Jesus not only brings life to my body- but He also brings me a real, meaningful, and passionate life-story here and in the future that’s to come. Love that.
But check out all of John 10:10… “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
I believe that the Devil is real, not some made up monster from myth and legend. And I also believe that God’s Word is 100% true. So John 10:10 tells me that we have an enemy that wants to steal the very life that Jesus came to bring us. Since he cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), he will use ANYTHING to keep us from building and growing a relationship with our Heavenly Father: busyness, anger, addiction, temptation, sin, pride, shame… you name it. He has an arsenal of ways to tempt us and he fights dirty and personally.
But before we get depressed, let’s remember that Jesus was also tempted. He spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying only to have the Devil show up when he would have been physically at His weakest. But Jesus didn’t give into the temptation. Three times He fights back with the same weapon: The Word of God. I’m serious! Jesus quotes the Bible like He’s using a sword to block of an offensive attack.
That’s why my response to any question about temptation is going to rely heavily on the example of Jesus. In my own story of temptation I was only willing to admit I needed help after I was trapped. For so long I thought I could just wish all my problems away. I had to recognize that I wasn’t going to be able to break down the walls I had built on my own. I wanted to change for good and I knew that would require the grace and power of God alone. I finally called out to God and took hold of the weapons He has given all of us.
Here’s what I mean.
1. Use your weapons.
“We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy people’s arguments and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NCV)
My own efforts can’t take down a stronghold. God is the one with the dynamite that you and I need. Satan’s power comes in his ability to lie – take that away and he loses his power! The more we know God’s word, the quicker we can recognize Satan’s lies!
Check out the last part of the verse: “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That’s not a one time event. Notice that the verse says “every thought.” This isn’t going to be easy. Look this isn’t just about staying away from lies. This is all about relying on God to give us the strength and courage to walk through every moment of every day. We use the Word of God to arm ourselves for the journey ahead.
2. Prepare yourself.
Satan doesn’t waste arrows on where we are protected. If Satan knows that I’ve been claiming God’s promises about comparison or how He made me, He’s not going to waste his time there. That’s why it’s so important that I know God’s word like a great Samurai knows how to use his sword! You don’t learn how to fight in the middle of a battle. You prepare ahead of time.
3. Don’t go it alone. Telling friends, a youth worker, a counselor, a teacher, even a parent – is going to make all the difference. The Devil wants us to keep our struggles in the dark. The moment I finally shared about my stronghold with someone was the start of my road to freedom. I had an accountability partner that walked through my recovery every step of the way. She prayed over me and handed me notecards with verses on them every time I saw her. She reminded me that I was not in the battle alone, but had another soldier on my side… as well as the God of the Universe fighting for me!
4. Fight like you mean it.
I don’t know if you’ve ever played basketball before, but one of the things coaches drill into your head is to get the rebound. You fight for that ball and don’t give up until it’s yours. God has already given us the ultimate victory through Jesus. So pray for Heavenly backup and do everything on your part to fight off temptation like the warrior you are.
Our center of gravity should be God’s Word! My recommendation would be that you start filling up on GOOD stuff. Replace those feelings to “do those things” with truth from the Bible It’s not going to be an instant fix. You will still have days when you feel like the battle is too much for you – but remember the battle is not too much for the One who made you!
Freedom is a gift – it is for freedom that Christ has set us free! (Galatians 5:1)
Praying for your struggles and your journey, C.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV
Journal Entry – 2005
SSHH. Don’t tell. You see, I’m a spiritual leader! I’m a camp counselor, a bible study teacher, a Christian example, a champion for the cross. I’m the strong older sister, the voice of reason, and the rule follower. But I’m a prideful, arrogant, hypocritical mess; and that’s being generous. I am a fake. I was a fake. I was a fraud. I am slowly and surely becoming a truther. That’s not really a word. Spell check has placed an angry red squiggly below it. I’m your average, run of the mill, suburban-yuppie. I drink skinny sugar free vanilla lattes at Starbucks as I ponder my life in my leather-bound journal. Life is just easy enough to where I feel guilty saying anything’s hard; and yet, life’s hard enough that nothing seems easy to me. By looking at me you would probably concede that I am self-confident and that I don’t really have low self-esteem… but somehow I can’t seem to like myself very much. Maybe if someone in the male species gave me a 2nd glance it might be different, but they don’t… so it’s not. Don’t think I’m sad; sometimes it’s fine…most of the time it’s not. So one day, a long time ago I got it into my head that my lack of male companionship must derive from the 3 numbers on my scale. Whoa. 1 hundred and…see…I can’t even tell you. I knew something had to change.
You see, I love food, and more than just, “YAY, Sonic.” I love going out to eat. It’s like a mini vacation for me. The day I got my driver’s license I stopped at What-a-burger on the way home to get a large onion rings and a coke, just because I could. Just like I would eat a whole bag of Doritos and not give it a second thought. Not that big of a deal right? We all “eat too much.” Mine went beyond that. I’ve learned that if we have it in my house, I will eat it. So this proceeded into college. Me eating, and feeling worse and worse about how I looked, and more eating, and no dates, and my clothes not fitting, and more eating. So throw in some guilt running and some pledges to ward off pasta and bread forever more. You see, I am a one woman team bent on destruction. Yet I am smart, intelligent, and independent. But I am also my own self-destructor and my own worst enemy. My weapons are not of the ordinary, but as I explained, cans of Pringles and all you can eat buffets.
So – my junior year of college comes and I am sick and tired of it. Sick and tired of watching the scale get higher, and my clothes get tighter. I was eating too much, so I started making myself throw up. I don’t think it was the controlling initially, it was really that I had eaten so much that I made myself feel sick – like WAY over eating. And once I spent 10 minutes in the bathroom I felt better. At first it was occasional, and over the next year I became a pro. I could do it anywhere and at anytime and nobody suspected. And no – I didn’t like it, but soon I started seeing other results. The thin me got a lot more compliments like, “You look great, like you are really taking care of yourself!” HAH. What a joke. What a lie. What a trap!! But I’m not going to tell anyone, because I am a strong Christian woman. Help me God.
Since this time the Lord has taught me a lot about his power in my weaknesses. The journey toward healing began when realized that my “issue” was bigger than the strength that I posessed. I purchased “Praying God’s Word” by Beth Moore and read the definition of a stronghold that we discussed yesterday.
“A stronghold is anything that exalts istelf in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled- our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective.”
I was deeply challenged by that definition. I came to the conclusion that a stronghold was holding me captive. The lie of sin had become my idol and my captor, and I was a willing prisoner. In the midst of my battle with an eating disorder I was chewing on some pretty big lies and keeping myself from experiencing the abundant life. I convinced myself that I would feel sick if I didn’t empty the contents of my stomach. I believed my friends, family, and co-workers would approve of me more if I lost the weight. I maintained the fear that no one really wanted to see the real me. I kept the excuses coming.
We can be really good at coming up with excuses for not surrendering our thoughts to God. Satan can give rationalizations for ANYTHING. Just like I can keep hitting the snooze button in the morning and convince myself that I don’t need a shower… or breakfast… or time in the Word… he can do the same with those sins we are hiding. Cutting, alcohol and drug addiction, sex, eating disorders, depression, self-loathing, lying, cheating… he has a never-ending arsenal.
“Nothing that sin is giving or offering us is worth what sin is taking from us.” Beth Moore, Breaking Free
Amen. I know from personal experience. I bought into lies. I believed that my identity comes from others. What I really wanted was to feel loved, accepted, and desired by a guy. What I forgot in the process is that I am completely loved, accepted, and desired by my Heavenly Father.
I began praying that God would help me change… not just for the moment, but for always. It’s a daily decision to make good choices about food and exercise. I have to remain in God’s Word, memorize verses, and stay accountable to other women. But God is helping me through every step of the journey.
Are you letting lies steal the life God has for you? I believe that the first step of the healing process is admittance. Tell someone. Turn to the One who made you and let Him remind you how much He loves you.
Praying we might stand and fight together. More on this tomorrow…
It’s going to be an intense week. The posts will be all about battling temptation, struggles, and strongholds. I receieved a challenging question from a reader that we’ll discuss on Wednesday, but first I just wanted to lay out a basic definition of strongholds from Beth Moore in her book Praying God’s Word.
A stronghold is anything that exalts istelf in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled- our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective.
-Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word
Whether strongholds are part of your past or present, my prayer is that we can claim truth and fight lies so that these strongholds don’t control our future.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m stuck on images of hunger and thirst after my trip. It’s a theme in everything I’m reading, studying, preparing and learning.
These words are popping up everywhere. I know they’ve been there all along, but right now they are leaping out from the page and impressing themselves on my heart and mind.
Take the story in Luke 13, for example. In preparation for our trip I read through the Gospels again.When I came across the story I was shocked that I had never read it before, or at least it felt that way.
Luke 13:10-17, NIV (emphasis mine)
“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”
I don’t know about you, but I am that woman. I am the woman who has been bound by infirmity again and again… eating and body issues, relationships, deep wounds. But I watch Jesus in this story straighten everything out in an instant. He sees her, calls her forward, declares her freedom, touches her and straightens her out to praise God. He has done the same for us, my friends. He saw us tied to the stall of pain and He led us to the water source… The Living Water.
We are declared free from infirmity.
He has called to us.
He has touched us.
And now we are to straighten up and praise God.
Here’s the NLT version of that verse: “Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!”
If you’re like me, you battle with strongholds (a sin area that keeps you trapped) but you come up just short of claiming the ultimate victory.
Your battle is against the one who would convince you that you are still bound. You are not! You ARE free because of the work of Jesus. Claim that.
Reject the lies. Claim the truth.
I’m doing the same right along-side of you. I’m tired of walking back to a stall when my Living Water is within reach!
Heading for the Living Water,
p.s. Thank you to two wonderful friends who have helped me see this story in vibrant colors of victory. Love to M & C. Claiming the truth with you!