Sunday, January 9, 2011


I woke up this morning thinking about what it means to be "powerless". ((If you're wondering why, just read my last blog entry....the first step is to admit I'm powerless over food.))

My first thought was a TV. A TV can't turn on without being connected to a power supply. But as humans, we can function without God's power. We are alive, we move around, we think... So the TV analogy doesn't fit very well. Then I considered my laptop. I plug it in until the battery is charged and then unplug it to carry it around (mainly to Starbucks!) so I can write (or web surf) where ever I please....until the battery runs down and it needs to be charged again.

On its own, the laptop is powerless. It must have an external power source.

On my own, I am powerless. "Where does my help come from?" (Psalm 121:1). What does that mean, particularly concerning food? That means when I go to the kitchen and I NEED food to fuel my body, if left to my own devices, I will choose butter and sugar in my oatmeal, or maybe even cake, for breakfast. (Cake has eggs and flour...two things I shouldn't have...let alone sugar and no protein.) Is it wrong to have butter (fake butter for me) and sugar in my oatmeal, or even to have cake for breakfast? No...that's not what I'm saying. But, for me, it's not the best choice. (To use yet another analogy, it's like putting regular gas in my car that has a turbo engine. The car will still run, but it would eventually build up gunk, and mess up the something or other and make the engine light come on. Obviously I don't know a lot about exactly why regular gas isn't the best for the car, but you get the picture!)

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh. He says it was given to him as "...a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself!" We don't know what that "thorn" was, but it was something Paul was powerless over. He asked God "three times" to take it from him. God's response: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Paul goes on to say he will boast of his weakness "so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

I think Paul didn't admit defeat to the weakness. He didn't give in to what ever it was. He simply admitted that he, by his own strength, was powerless over it. He couldn't make it go away on his own. He couldn't handle it on his own. He was able to rest in his weakness because of his faith in the almighty power of his creator. He knew God's strength was sufficient. Paul still had to live with the thorn. He still had to deal with the effects of the thorn, whatever it was. If it was some kind of pain, he still felt it. For me, I will still have to deal with the desire for certain foods (**unless God removes it from me completely).

That's where the power cord comes in...I am powerless over my desire for food, but God is bigger than that desire. He made my body need food to function. Food isn't bad in and of itself. However, just like regular vs. premium gas, there is a better option of fuel for breakfast than cake. So I will admit I am powerless over food and ask God for His strength to make a better choice for breakfast. The tricky part is to step out in faith and eat that better choice "knowing" it will satisfy my body's need for fuel.

I remember being in a sticky situation one time, a time of extreme temptation. I looked up 1 Corinthians 10:13: "...God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." Immediately SEVERAL ways of dealing with the situation I was in came to mind. Not just one way out, but SEVERAL. Instead of choosing any one of those SEVERAL escape routes, I tried to bear up the temptation by my own strength, and naturally lost out to it.

When I go into the kitchen this morning, I will be faced with all kinds of choices for breakfast. If I go mindlessly I will most likely eat the worst thing in there (for me). Instead, I will boast of my weakness, admit that I'm completely powerless over food, and ask God for His strength. I'll not lean on my own understanding, but in all of my ways I will submit to Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Then, by His strength, I'll choose from the good-for-me options and thank Him for giving me the power to eat well.

Let me take a pause here and just try to explain some things for those of you who don't have a "thorn" you can readily identify and are trying to understand my "thorn". My thorn really isn't food. That is the way it manifests itself at this moment in my life, as it has been many other times. But my "thorn" has taken many shapes in the past: alcohol, the "need" for affirmation from men, my job and the need to excel in order to feel a measure of significance. I think a thorn can be anything I focus on more than I focus on God, anything that takes me away from Him and who I am in Him, anything I think His power and might "can't" conquer. That may or may not make a lot of sense, I just don't want anyone to get caught up in the fact that because I'm talking about issues with food this post doesn't apply to everyone. I think we ALL have "thorns" they just might look vastly different.

**Also, there have been many "thorns" in my past which God saw fit to completely remove from me. But, make no mistake, the manifestations might look different, but a thorn is a thorn. I think that's probably why Paul's thorn was never explicitly defined or identified.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Paying the Landlord

I love the pastor at my church.  Not in a freaky sort of in the "I love chocolate" kind of way.  Week after week he comes up with sermons that are not only scripturally accurate and solid, but that somehow manage to dig down to the core of my being and force me to examine myself in light of truth.  On top of that, he's (dare I say) ...entertaining!!  It's nice to go to a church service I don't have to pump myself full of coffee, or prop my eyes open with toothpicks, to get through.  More than that, it's "nice" to go to a church that keeps me thinking all week.

Last Sunday, in the midst of a great message, he shared an analogy whose deeper meaning will forever change me. 

Imagine you are living in an apartment.  Day after day the landlord bangs on your door demanding more and more rent...which you have no choice but to pay.  One day someone shows up and tells you he has a condo waiting for you that has been bought and paid for in full--all you need to do is move.  Naturally you load up the U-Haul...but just as you're putting the final picture on your new wall, the old landlord bangs on your door demanding to be paid.

This is an illustration of Romans 6.  In a nutshell, when we are "saved", we are no longer slaves to sin.  The problem is we sometimes still "pay the landlord" even though we don't owe him anything.  We were challenged on Sunday to prayerfully examine our lives, asking God to reveal any sin areas that need to be dealt with.

I have known for quite a long time one major are of sin in my life is gluttony.  I don't eat to live...for a long time I have lived to eat.  Sure, I've tried to break this cycle many times.  For the last seven months I've had some external "forces" that have "assisted" me in breaking my addiction to food (allergies).  There's a sense in which we are all addicted to food because, yes, we all have to eat to live.  But, I go WAY beyond just satisfying a basic need to fuel my body.  Truth be told, I worship food.

If I were addicted to heroine or alcohol or cigarettes, you'd applaud my admission.  I could join an "anonymous" group and 12-step myself to freedom.  I started to say there's not a program for food addiction...but, alas, Overeaters Anonymous has proven me wrong.  However, my point is most people look at me like I'm crazy when I say I'm addicted to I've said I'm addicted to breathing air!  The worst part is, I KNOW I don't look the part.  I'm at the point in my life I can even call myself "thin".  So it makes it that much harder to confess my sin.  To make matters even worse, because I'm a runner, it's not like I can avoid eating.  I have to fuel my work outs.  But, I think anyone would agree...fuel doesn't have to look like this:

I used to believe I had no power over food.  In the analogy it would be like giving all my bank account information to the landlord.  The truth is, because of what Christ did for me on the cross...there is NO sin-including gluttony-that has any power over me at all. 

I'm living in the condo...and I'm going to open the door that landlord is banging on and tell him to get lost!!!