Friday, February 21, 2014

Whose God is Their Stomach


What is it that, if it was taken from you, would take with it your joy?

That thing is your treasure.

And last week, I realized, with a pang of humbling conviction, that I was treasuring food way too much.

If anyone can get away with gluttony, it would be me.  I'm 19, I work out, I run Spartan races, I'm careful to only eat the healthiest foods (usually, at least)- lots of people struggle with gluttony, but I can't be one of them!

And then my little brother has to go to the bathroom right as my chimichanga comes out of the kitchen at the Mexican restaurant, piping hot, and as I stand up to escort my sibling my joy stands up too... but only to walk in the opposite direction.

Gluttony really isn't about having a big belly.  That's a side-effect that we may or may not experience, but the lack of that particular side-effect doesn't mean that there aren't other fruits growing, buffet-style, off the tree of our plate-shaped sin.

It's about satisfaction; mastering the flesh; seeing food as a wonderful gift from God that is to be enjoyed, rather than seeing food as my source of joy, and becoming one of those whose god is their stomach (Phil. 3:19).

It's not a conscious thing- sin rarely is!  I certainly don't bow down, thrice a day, before a golden Vita-Mix in worship.

But that only makes it more dangerous, because it's hard to justify bowing down to blenders, but that third plate of Thanksgiving dinner- well, it is Thanksgiving, after all!  And I'll burn it off in my workout tomorrow, anyway.

And so, I pray- God, deliver me from the snare of gluttony; from the demands of my flesh; from the very snare which David prayed upon his enemies (Ps. 69:22)!

I want to be an 80% eater- not a 105% eater.  In other countries and other times, people are/were used to eating to refuel, not to gorge and satisfy themselves.  I, on the other hand, am used to eating, not until I am no longer hungry, but until I am full.

That's not really healthy; it doesn't benefit the body; it certainly doesn't benefit the soul.

Eating too much damages productivity; it results in lethargy, in discomfort, and in physical unpreparedness.

If I am mastering my flesh properly, the result should be energy and readiness for whatever tasks lie ahead.

So I've come up with an accountability question for my sisters to ask me at the end of every meal-

"Could you do burpees right now?"


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Acne of the Soul


It's truly amazing how God has made our body reflect our spirit.  Before the fall, no sickness, no injury in either; after the fall, sickness and injury in both.

Sin is like a zit.  The longer it goes without being addressed, the bigger and uglier and more painful it gets.  When it is finally addressed, there's likely to be a good deal of pain, bodily fluids everywhere, and maybe some blood.

But sin is far more than cosmetic.  It's an infection of the soul, and if left untreated it will kill every time.

Harboring and hiding sin, rolling it under the tongue, keeping our pet sins in the closet like so many Asherim- this is a spiritual cancer of our own making, a sure-fire way to break fellowship with God and with our family in Christ, to kill joy and fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of regret.

Yet God has given us a simple antidote.

Confession.

It's one of the hardest things to do, and one of the happiest things to have done.

It starts with the confession, not just of sin, but of being a sinner, and of needing Christ to save and deliver us.  That, our first confession of faith, is of primary importance.

But God calls us not simply to make a general confession once and stop there.  We are called to holiness (Matthew 5:48, Deuteronomy 18:13), to a long and arduous battle with the flesh that ends when it dies (Romans 7).

1 John 1:9 talks about the forgiveness and the cleansing that awaits the one who will confess his sins- not as someone who has confessed, but as someone who confesses and is confessing- a repenter.

We need accountability, too; brethren who will not allow us to walk into sin without a fight.  This can happen in a Galatians 6 style, where they, uninvited, come into our lives and say "have you noticed the cancerous boil on your soul?"

How much better to invite them in?

We only have so much time on this earth; let us live in view of eternity and, like Paul, strive not to waste any time on living with a guilty conscience (Acts 24:15+16).

Get it out. Get it out.  Sin is like a cockroach- it hates the light.  If we don't shine the light of confession and repentance into our soul, our hearts will become harbors for creatures of the night.

I am not saying that confessing sin to another person is necessary for salvation; certainly not!  Christ is our great High Priest, and is the only Confessor we will ever need.  The Catholic idea of a human priest receiving our confessions and absolving us of our sins is heretical and blasphemous.

But having a fellow warrior to whom I confess my struggles and failures- especially the habitual ones- and by whom I am held accountable on the issues on which I am the very weakest- a father or mother, a brother or sister in Christ, my wife (one day, God willing)- someone who will pray for me, and someone for whom I can pray (James 5:16)- that is surely one of the greatest tools God has given us in the war on sin, and it is surely one of the best ways to forge true, deep, intimate, Christ-centered, holy friendship.

So how are you doing?  What are you hiding?  Is your conscience clear before God?  Do you need to confess something?  Who are you confessing to and praying for?

I'm not advocating "hanging out your dirty laundry."  Don't go write a blog post to the world detailing all of your lustful thoughts and naming everyone you've been angry with in the past month.

But don't quench The Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19, Ephesians 4:30, 1 Timothy 4:2).  If you know you are hiding sin; if you know you are walking in rebellion; if you know you have some Asherim in your closet, and you sacrifice to them often- and if this doesn't bother you- you should truly be terrified.  Whom The LORD loves, He reproves.  If you are truly enjoying your sin, then you need to read 1 John and work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

If you're hiding something, and it does bother you, and it is eating at your soul, and you want to be free, then first pray for God's grace to give you the strength for true repentance, and then-

You know what you need to say, and who you need to say it to.

Do it now.

Waiting never makes it easier.

Do it now.

Kill the cancer.  Break the chains.

Do it now.