March 26, 2012

When God Wants to Change History

There is much beauty to be seen and many things to be enjoyed in God's creation. But the filthy blanket of sin that covers it all can be suffocating at times. Sometimes when sin is rampantly on display in the world, I can feel a fire burning within me. That fire usually makes me want to fight. It makes me want to correct. It makes me want to yell and kick and scream until someone will listen to me. "This is the better way!"

Sometimes a fight is called for. Sometimes a stand must be taken. I do believe that. However, I fear that perhaps this fixation on the sin of "the world" can be a distraction to the calling God has placed on my life. I was stunned this morning by an observation made in Ray Stedman's commentary on the book of Exodus:

"When God wants to change history, he doesn't start with a battle. He starts with a baby."

Wow. The words stopped me dead in my tracks. In this instance, we were learning about Moses. Who was born under a death sentence, rescued by the providence of God and then used mightily to lead God's people. This is a beautiful picture of God's plan for the lives of each of his children, who are all born helpless babes.

These are my babes and today I was reminded that first and foremost, they are my cause.

Right here. My primary objective must be to teach these babies to hold dear the Gospel of Jesus. Who knows the plans in store for my little ones? Not me. All I know is that I have them right now. And time is of the essence.

Lord, may I never be too busy fighting, boycotting, laboring or standing firm, that I forget to walk with You. Because they need to see the walk more than they need to see the fight...They need to see YOU. I know they will see the sin-infested world, but will they see their sin-infested hearts? Will they know that they need you just as much as the nasty world needs you? Will they know how much I need you? Only if I tell them. Only if they see. Lord, open my mouth and open their eyes. Teach me to stay focused and engaged in the battle for their souls. Make me alert to satan's schemes to distract with the allure of doing "good things." You have made my charge crystal clear this morning, thank You. Amen.

March 23, 2012

For the Sake of Being Real

What does it mean to be real?  actual, true, genuine, veritable, virtual, factual, transparent, honest, authentic...

Being real became very important to me a couple of years ago when I realized that I had been living in denial for a very long time. I allowed myself to believe lies so that I wouldn't have to deal with some major issues in my life. I hid shameful things about myself in hopes that no one would find out who I really was. That way people would like me.

This whole thought process is silly because most people can see right through fake. Even if my cover-up had been successful and people were fooled into liking me, it wouldn't have been the real me that they liked, but rather the person I was trying to be. When that truth was finally revealed to me, I wanted to  change.

So I decided to get real--with myself and others. I began writing on my blog about things I never wanted to even think about and certainly never dreamed I could share with other people. Through that, I learned not to take myself too seriously. I learned that people don't just sit around and think about me (good stuff or bad stuff) all the time. I began to see that admitting weakness or failure is not the end of the world.

The coolest thing was that the more real I was with others, the more real they became with me. I began to understand that no one is perfect. Even the people that seem perfect, aren't. It helped me to be able to relate to others and to be less intimidated by them. In some weird way, by sharing how messed up I really am I gained confidence.

But the confidence I gained was not in myself. The confidence was in the One who makes up for all of my failures. The more darkness I faced in myself, the brighter the Light became to me. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Rom 5:20)

There was such healing (and still is) in being "real." But as with any good thing in life, it can get distorted into a bad thing. We humans are pretty darn good at that. I think what happens from time to time is that I choose to be real just for the sake of  being real. It's like a reputation I need to uphold or something like that. And the problem with that is that the being real then becomes about me and my ability to be real rather than authenticity. Being real simply for the sake of being real is no better than being fake.

There is grave danger in being real as an end in itself. If being real becomes something I strive for, I live for, something I turn to in order to face things...if it becomes something that I am proud of, as if I could even begin to be real apart from the grace of God, then what I have is a very real problem. What I have is an idol.

I find it interesting that in 1 Corinthians 8:4 idols are described as having "no real existence." Further on in verse 6: "for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist."

Everything I do, including being real, must be from Him and for Him. The purpose of my very existence, my realness, is to make much of Jesus. Lord, help me never forget it.

March 21, 2012

Adventures in Facebreaking

Time for a Facebreak
A detailed inventory of my time expenditures toward the end of last year led me to take what some refer to as a "Facebreak." My calculations indicated that I was spending hours on any given day involved in some sort of social media encounter. All of that seemed harmless enough, but facing the reality of the time I was devoting to these things made it increasingly difficult to whine about how hard it is to get our clothes washed and put away, get to bed at a decent hour, spend quality time with my husband and kids, and you get the picture.

So I stopped Facebook-ing and stuff. For a while. That while, as far as I was concerned, was supposed to be all about giving me more time to do important things. Mine was a good plan, but as always, His was better. The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:1

Motives Revealed
So like I said, I stopped. Posting and commenting, that is. I was still stalking browsing to see what was up with other people. Right off the bat I became alarmed at my constant compulsion to click the Facebook app on my phone. We're talkin' 24/7. I never realized how much I was doing that until I tried to stop. So I took the app off of my phone, but the urge was ever present. It bothered me.

Another thing that bothered me was that in my own reading of books and the Bible, when I would come accross something of particular edification I immediately thought of it in terms of a Facebook post. It was as if I needed to get rid of it as soon as possible. "Someone" needs to hear this message. Oh boy, do they! Better get it on Facebook. But that was no longer an option. The only options available were to either dismiss it altogether or apply it to my own life. Egads! Slowly, I began to receive these things and ponder them unto myself. I began to experience conviction rather than simply recognizing the potential for conviction. Quite a difference there.

Another thing I recognized was how dependent I had become upon those little Facebook "likes". Affirmation is a huge thing for me. I don't think I ever realized how huge until the ability to receive it was no longer just a Facebook post away. Or so it seemed.

In the absence of this luxury, verses like Galatians 1:10 began to take on much deeper implications for me. For am I now seeking the approval of man or God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man I would not be a servant of Christ. Yeah. It's one thing to give up Facebook for a while, quite another to have to look deep into your heart and answer (not just ask) the question, "Who am I really serving?" I couldn't quickly type that verse and click it on down the stream for the consideration of others. It was for me.

Answered Prayer
Interestingly, it was during the onset of this break that I spent several weeks praying and meditating on Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! It wasn't like I was expecting that request to to be answered through the Facebook thing, I just picked out some verses to start the New Year off with. But the Holy Spirit was at work.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this was one of the most clearly and hugely answered prayers of my life. To see my pathetic heart in ways that I had never seen before, to recognize my deep, deep need to receive approval...It cut deep. And since I wasn't on FB, there was no where for me to go with all of that but to the Gospel. Hallelujah! My pathetic heart? Covered in His blood. Approval? Yes, through faith in Jesus Christ. Not just "liked" but extravagantly, unashamedly loved by the God of all creation. Wow.

Misuse, Disuse, and Correct Use
One day a couple weeks ago there was a Facebook post that I wanted so badly to comment on. But that would have been breaking my rule. The thing is, I wanted to encourage that person. It was the ah-ha moment. I realized that this was really about the motives of my heart. And the motives of our hearts change when the Gospel is applied.

I've heard it said that the proper remedy for misuse is not disuse, but rather correct use. I really agree with that for the most part. (Though there's always Matt 5:30 to consider). It seems to me that in this case it took a season of disuse for me to identify my misuse so that perhaps now I can proceed with correct use. At least most of the time.

In the future, there are some questions that I will ask myself before posting on Facebook, Twitter, writing a blog post and really I should ask before I ever open my mouth period...

What is my motive in sharing this?
Have I applied this to myself; have I removed my own "log" in the eye?
Is it passive aggressive?
Am I now seeking the approval of man or God?
Should I be doing laundry?


I think in some ways it would definitely be easier to just forget Facebook altogether. I mean, I wouldn't be assaulted with these kinds of questions all day long. Geesh. :) But there are also silly photos and funny things my kids say. There are opportunities to encourage and share lol's. There is a Gospel to be proclaimed and it would be absurd to think a medium like Facebook isn't a really good place to proclaim it.

Have you ever taken a Facebreak? How did it go? What did you learn?

March 20, 2012

Hamburger Helper Helped

I changed the title of this blog from REAL FAT to JUST REAL. There are several reasons. For one thing I'm tired of looking at the word fat every time I come to write. Seriously. There was a time I needed to see that word to face the facts, but I don't think I'm there anymore. I also want to write about other things besides weight loss. I feel like God is working in new and different ways in my life and I really want to write about them. I'm just OCD enough to need the title to be a really good match for the content.

So here's the deal...

I was walking down the road with Norma several months ago and we got into a pretty deep conversation. I told her that I felt my life had become like Hamburger Helper. In the sense that all of the things I hoped to accomplish in my life were the different flavors: Lasagna (raising good children), Beef Stroganoff (keeping my house in order), Cheeseburger Macaroni (being a good friend), Taco Surprise (losing weight), Beef Pasta (being a good youth leader). Those kinds of things were the flavors. And God was my hamburger. Yes, that's right--God was the ground beef. I had somehow come to believe that I could do all the things I wanted in life by just adding God. Sounds like a good plan, right? Sounds a little like Philippians 4:13, as a matter of fact. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...

Well, the only problem with the Hamburger Helper approach to Christianity is that it makes Jesus the add-in. He becomes just an ingredient. Yes, an important ingredient, but still just an ingredient.

Jesus is more than an ingredient. He is the entire meal.

If you look one verse back in Philippians to 4:12, Paul says I have learned the secret to being content in any an every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want...He is talking about the circumstances of life that happen. He's not talking about his plans, hopes and dreams. He is talking about facing life as God had planned it for him and being content in any and every situation. He had been taught how to do that. The secret, he shares in the popular verse 13, is through Jesus Christ. Not "with a little help from Jesus" but through Him.

Let me see if I can make myself really clear. What I have been thinking is that "I can do all things I WANT TO DO with the help (when I think to ask) of Christ because he will give me strength to do the things I want and/or think I need to do." This is much different than what Paul was saying which is more like: I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am .-The Message.

Keelie's focus: Keelie's agenda; Paul's focus: God's agenda. That's the difference. Small, but huge. I want to learn the secret like Paul did. I hope to one day be able to say Philippians 4:13 and really mean it the way he meant it.

So I'm not exactly sure how, but in a round-about way all of that has to do with why this is no longer going to be primarily a weight-loss blog. As for the new name, during the conversation with Norma that day I mentioned that I didn't really think I should keep writing REAL FAT. And she said, "Well maybe it should be JUST REAL and wah-lah! A new blog was born. It just needed some time to come to fruition. Thank you, Norma.

The change doesn't mean that I don't still long to be free from an oppressive addiction. It doesn't mean that focusing on weight loss for a very long time wasn't an absolutely necessary part of God's plan for my life. I know without a doubt that it was. It doesn't mean that I think there is something wrong with having a weight loss blog. It also doesn't mean that I can stop thinking about my health and being accountable for my eating habits. This change is simply the next step in the journey for me.

Like many things in my life right now, I have no idea where this blog is going. But I'm excited to find out! Hope you'll keep travelling with me.