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Author Archives: Lysa TerKeurst

  • Three Questions You Must Ask Before Reacting

    Lysa

    "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

    My heart raced when I saw the number pop up on my phone. Nothing in me wanted to have this conversation. I was beyond aggravated. Hurt. Angry. And tired of being misunderstood.

    I answered the call with two goals in mind — to prove how right I was and how wrong the other person was.

    How do you think that conversation went?

    Not well.

    This conflict happened over five years ago so the rush of emotion has dissipated, and I can see more clearly how wrong my approach was.

    I learned from that conflict. Hopefully, I learn something from every conflict — especially how to have better reactions. I'm so far from being in a place where I can shine my halo.

    But I'm getting better.

    While my initial thoughts when a conflict arises are usually those same old "I'll show you" thoughts, I've progressed by not letting those leak into my reactions.

    How?

    By asking myself three questions:

    1. What part of this issue can I own and apologize for?

    There are always two sides to every issue. And no side is perfectly right or all the way wrong.

    If I make peace with the part I need to own and apologize for before the conversation, there's a greater chance I'll stay calm in the conversation. Our key verse, Proverbs 15:1, is a verse I've memorized and recall often, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

    2. How can I soften my heart toward this person so I honor them despite how they react?

    This one is hard. Really hard. But I know hurt people hurt people.

    Usually the person with whom I'm having a conflict has some kind of past or current hurt in their life feeding this issue. Chances are that hurt doesn't have anything to do with me but is adding to their emotional response in this conflict.

    Softening my heart is easier if I can sympathize with the hurt I can't see. If I can duck below my pride, honor will be my reward. Proverbs 29:23 reminds us, "Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor" (NIV).

    3. If I knew this conversation was being recorded and then shared with people I greatly respect, how would this change my reaction?

    What if I showed up to church this week and my pastor directed everyone to watch the screen for an example of a bad reaction? And then my face appeared. Have. Mercy. I. Would. Surely. Faint.

    While it is highly unlikely that our conversation would be recorded and viewed, it is very likely others are watching our reaction. Children. Co-workers. Friends. But here's the one that really grabs my heart – my Jesus is very much present. Philippians 4:5 reminds us, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near" (NIV).

    Every conflict has variables that must be considered. Some conflicts have escalated to the point where professionals must be asked to help. Be mindful and prayerful about this.

    But for the everyday conflicts we all have, these questions are good to consider. If we control our reactions in the short-term, we don't have to live with "reaction regret" in the long-term!

    Dear Lord, I'm inviting You into my reactions today as I realign my perspective. Help me to use words and choose actions that honor You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Which of Lysa's three questions resonates with you the most?

    Write down the accompanying Bible verse Lysa provided. Then, write three action steps you can take the next time you are faced with conflict that will implement the teaching in this verse.

    Power Verses: Proverbs 18:21, "Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit — you choose." (MSG)

    James 1:19-20, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Don't Say You'll Pray for Me

    Lysa

    "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11 (NIV 1984)

    I've been convicted about empty statements. These are words I say to make a conversation a little more comfortable in the moment. But do I really mean what I say?

    Empty statements can also be little promises that give a needed lift to someone. Yet without a plan to actually keep that promise, do I really intend to keep it?

    It's not that these statements are wrong, bad or ill-intentioned. But they are empty at best and potentially hurtful at worst. People in my life deserve better than that.

    I want to be a woman who exemplifies God's Word by keeping my word.

    The Bible is clear that our words matter; our words carry weight. Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Our words can be gifts.

    But if we speak words with no follow-through, they can be hurtful. It's like holding out a gift but refusing to give it.

    Here are three empty statements I want to stop saying if I don't have a plan for follow-through:

    1. I'm praying for you.

    Obviously, I do want to pray for people. And sometimes when I say this, I have great follow-through. But other times I forget.

    A great intention doesn't make for a great prayer.

    So, I need to pray for that person right then and there, or I need to keep a journal in my purse to write down prayer requests.

    2. Let's get together sometime.

    Either I need to pull out my calendar and schedule time with someone or be honest about my current time constraints. The people-pleaser in me struggles with this.

    When people say this to me without any follow-through, it hurts. While I can't change what others say to me, I can make a heart policy to not do this to others.

    3. I'm good, how are you?

    Understandably, sometimes this is the right, polite statement to say when I'm quickly greeting someone. But I will also say this to others with whom I really should be more open and honest.

    I'm reluctant sometimes to let even close friends know needs bubbling below my "I'm good" statements.

    If I will be braver to open up, it will give my friends permission to do the same.

    So, there they are. My three empty statements and my convictions to do a better job of saying what I mean and meaning what I say.

    Let's commit to being women who keep our word. Right now. Today. Not only will it strengthen our friendships but it will make our relationship with the Lord more authentic as we live out His Word.

    Dear Lord, thank You for convicting me about using empty statements. My words can be powerful tools and I want to use them for Your purposes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Which one of the three empty statements resonates with you the most? (Keep a prayer journal in your purse, schedule a specific time to get together with someone or open up with how you're honestly feeling.)

    This week, make it a point to put action into place when using that statement.

    Power Verses: 1 John 3:18a, "My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love." (MSG)

    James 1:23-25, "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • I'm Scared to Pray Boldly

    Lysa

    "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16b (NIV)

    I have to admit I'm sometimes scared to pray boldly.

    It's not at all that I don't believe God can do anything. I absolutely do. I'm a wild-about-Jesus girl. Wild in my willingness. Wild in my obedience. Wild in my adventures with God.

    After all, I think Jesus would rather rein in a wild stallion than kick a dead mule any day of the week.

    So, my hesitation isn't rooted in any kind of doubt about God. It's more rooted in doubts about myself and my ability to absolutely discern the will of God. The reality is sometimes God chooses not to do things. And if His will is no, while I am boldly praying for a yes, it makes me feel out of step with God.

    Can you relate?

    I so desperately want to stay in the will of God that I find myself praying with clauses sometimes, like: God please heal my friend, but if it's Your will to take her, I will trust You.

    I wonder why I don't just boldly pray: God, please heal my friend. And then stand confidently knowing my prayers were not in vain no matter what the outcome.

    The reality is, my prayers don't change God. But I am convinced prayer changes me. Praying boldly boots me out of that stale place of religious habit into authentic connection with God Himself.

    Prayer opens my spiritual eyes to see things I can't see on my own. And I'm convinced prayer matters. Prayers are powerful and effective if prayed from the position of a righteous heart (James 5:16).

    So, prayer does make a difference — a life-changing, mind-blowing, earth-rattling difference. We don't need to know how. We don't need to know when. We just need to kneel confidently and know the tremors of a simple Jesus girl's prayers extend far wide and far high and far deep.

    Letting that absolute truth slosh over into my soul snuffs out the flickers of hesitation. It bends my stiff knees. And it ignites a fresh, bold and even more wild fire within. Not bold as in bossy and demanding. But bold as in I love my Jesus with all my heart, so why would I offer anything less than an ignited prayer life?

    Jesus speaks specifically about igniting our prayer lives in Matthew 6, verses 6-8, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (NIV).

    So let's ask. And ask again. Not so that we can cause God to move, rather so that we can position our souls to be able to see our sweet Jesus move in any which way He pleases.

    Dear Lord, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to bring all of my worries and cares to You. Thank You for providing me with exactly what I need. I trust that You have my best interest in mind today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: How have you been praying lately? In boldness or in timidity? Why?

    Write down three bold prayers you would like to pray today. Pray them again tomorrow. And again the next day. Pray them for the next month even. And know with full assurance that the tremors of your prayers will extend far wide and far high and far deep. Pray and wait for God to respond.

    Power Verse: Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • A Grace Place

    Lysa

    "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

    "Does God ever get tired of my issues?"

    I've asked myself this question many times throughout my lifelong struggle with emotional eating.

    Over the course of my journey, I've whined to God, gotten mad at God and often ignored God. And I've worried I was going to use up all my grace with God.

    I felt He would be justified to say, "Enough! Go away. I'm tired of your issues. Figure it out for yourself!" That is, until I read again the "first story" of God's grace with fresh eyes.

    We often think of God's grace beginning at the cross. But as I read through the Scripture from the point of view of someone struggling with food issues, I saw a revelation of God's grace right from the start in Genesis.

    Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree and ushered sin in to the world. God handed down the consequences of their actions, which included banishment from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). They must have believed they had pushed past the boundaries of God's grace. After all, He was sending them out of the garden.

    Whenever I've read that story, I thought they had to leave paradise because God was punishing them. God was disappointed in them. God was giving them what they deserved. But I was wrong. Their relocation was not a place of abandonment — it was a place of grace.

    You see, there were two special trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; this was the one with the forbidden fruit. The other was the tree of life. This was the one that gave Adam and Eve perpetual life — no diseases, no death, no sagging body parts. (Okay I'm not sure about that last benefit, but I'm banking on this reality in heaven.)

    Anyhow. When they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin entered in. Sin corrupted everything. And at that point, it was God's absolute love and most tender mercy that ushered Adam and Eve out of the garden. Not His anger or retaliation. They had to leave.

    If they'd been allowed to stay, they would have kept eating from the tree of life and lived forever, wallowing in sin. Wallowing in all the brokenness sin brings with it: disease, fear, heartbreak, separation from God.

    An unending life of shame and sin would have been their fate.

    God couldn't stand that for the people He loved. So, His love made them leave and allowed them to die. So that they could experience the resurrected life His Son would one day provide.

    Brokenness to redemption.

    God did not run out of grace at the dawn of humankind. And He will not run out of grace for you or for me. He does not want us to ever stay in a perpetual state of sin and despair. We were not created with a food struggle or physical cravings because God is angry at us. It is because He loves us so much that He allows our struggle with food to be a physical indication of a spiritual situation.

    God is asking for us to go to a new place as well — and it is a place of grace!

    Receive grace and let it wash away all shame and guilt from every unhealthy choice you've ever regretted and fretted over. Yes, there is work to do and progress to be made, but we will walk from here with a clean slate.

    This grace and the unfathomable depth of God's love settle me. Breathes hope into my dread. And trust into my doubts.

    So when I stumble along on this journey, I know this grace is there for me, and I will come running back. And once again, it will give me a soft place to land.

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your grace. Help me to rely on You in the midst of my struggle today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What issues are you tired of battling?

    Bring them all to God in gut-honest prayers. Soak in the truths of His grace found in our key verse and power verse today.

    Power Verse: 2 Timothy 2:1, "You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus," (ESV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Hitting the Bottom

    Lysa

    "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

    Why is it that the hardest person for me to be honest with is sometimes myself?

    I'm usually a happy, optimistic person. I want to look at life as half full. I like seeing the good in situations and in people.

    I believe those are good qualities about me.

    But sometimes the glass is half empty. And sometimes, I need to see the not-so-good in situations. Other times, I need to admit that there's not-so-good in people.

    I don't need to dwell on it and get all negative. But I do need to allow myself the freedom to be honest. To process with honest thoughts and feelings and hurt.

    Otherwise, I get this knotted feeling deep inside. And my smile on the outside doesn't match the sinkhole on the inside.

    Am I the only crazy person who deals with this? I don't think so. Actually, I think there are a lot of people walking around smiling and sinking at the same time.

    Have you ever had that dream where you are falling, falling, falling and then you gasp and wake up before you hit the ground?

    When I was a small girl swapping playground wisdom between the swing set and the seesaw, I admitted to my friend I had that falling dream. A lot. She whispered, "You know it's a good thing you wake up before you hit the ground in your dream. Because if you didn't, you'd die."

    And right then and there, I decided to never hit the ground. I decided to always be on guard to control that dream.

    Crazy, right?

    That's an exhausting way to sleep.

    And it can be an exhausting way to live. This not ever hitting the ground. This not being honest that sometimes people and situations in life can be completely disappointing.

    There is a bottom. Sometimes we hit it. Sometimes we can't wake up in time.

    And while this gut honest realization about people and situations can feel devastating or like a setback, I think there's a better way to look at it.

    Yes, maybe it's better to consider it an opportunity to grow in dependence on the Lord. An opportunity to embrace the freedom found in our key verse, Psalm 55:22, to bring my feelings to Him and to ask for His help.

    Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." So I took God at His Word.

    As I prayed, I told God about my feelings in a recent situation. Lord, this stinks. It just does. The way this person treated me isn't good. What they said, it really hurt. Help!

    In praying through that situation, God challenged me not just to talk with Him and be honest about my feelings. But also to be honest with the person who had hurt me. God challenged me to hit the bottom I had ever-so-carefully been avoiding.

    So, I sat down with that person. I was honest. With myself and with them. I hit the bottom and I'm actually glad, because the internal sinkhole started to close.

    And the best part? I didn't die!

    Dear Lord, thank You for caring deeply about each detail of my life. Your ability to take my burdens upon Your shoulders is amazing. You are worthy to be praised! In Jesus' Name. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Have you been putting on a smile when you feel everything but happy on the inside?

    Bring all of your feelings and burdens to the Lord. Ask Him for direction and freedom as you hand over your control of the situation to Him.

    Power Verse: Isaiah 41:10, "... do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Five Scriptures to Pray Over Your Marriage

    Lysa

    "[Jesus] also told them this parable: 'Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?'" Luke 6:39 (NIV)

    I sat down to write some thoughts for a young friend getting married. I wanted these words to be encouraging but also realistic. I didn't want to pen the typical "best wishes on your wedding day." Wishes might be sweet for a church full of flowers and white tulle, but it takes a whole lot more for a marriage to go the distance.

    So I wrote honest thoughts as they came to me:

    "Being married is incredibly difficult. Being married is amazing. Being married can seem impossibly hard. Being married can seem incredibly beautiful. There is no other person who can frustrate me the way my husband can. There is no other person who can make me feel as loved as my husband can."

    As these words tumbled out I wondered if my friend would think me a bit crazy. One minute I painted marriage as blissful as a kite catching wind and rising to the sky. And the next minute it was as if the string had gotten caught in a thorny bush and sent the kite crashing to the ground with thuds of disappointment.

    So which is it? Bliss or disappointment?

    It's a fragile blend of both.

    In the end, I crumpled up my original note and simply wrote this: "Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage."

    I wrote that note not because it had been true for my relationship but because suddenly I wanted it to be true.

    The teacher being taught by her own lesson.

    And you know what I've discovered in the weeks since? I haven't been praying nearly enough for my marriage.

    I think about things. Discuss things. Complain about things. Attempt to fix things. Work on things. Apologize for things. Want to change things. And then I discuss things some more.

    But talking about things, thinking about things and working on things ... these are not at all the same as praying for them.

    In Luke 6:39 Jesus asks an important but simple question, "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?" My husband and I need Jesus leading us, guiding us, teaching us, redirecting us and showing us how to have a marriage that honors Him and each other.

    This year, my goal is to spend a lot less time in the pit. And I think praying more words over my marriage will certainly be key to this.

    Here are some Scriptures I'm praying:

    "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters ... You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light" (2 Samuel 22:17 and 29, NIV).

    "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6, NIV).

    "What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31, NIV).

    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).

    "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).

    Actually getting intentional about praying for something in my marriage today is the first step toward that marriage I've been dreaming of—the one that seemed so possible for Art and me 20 years ago in that church full of flowers and tulle.

    Making sure I'm headed in that direction as a wife is only a few intentional prayers away.

    Dear Lord, I want to honor You completely with my marriage. Help me to remain dedicated to praying over my relationship with my husband. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: It's so tempting to think praying for your marriage would be a good idea but then not take the next step.

    Assign yourself the next step you want to take with getting more intentional in praying for your marriage. Choose one of the Scriptures above and pray it out loud each day for the next week.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • I Once Was a Shell of a Girl

    Lysa

    "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

    Have you ever believed the injustices of the world were too big for you to make a difference? I have felt that way. So instead of doing something, even something small, I did nothing.

    I thought big, world-sized problems required big, powerful people.

    But then a friend told me about spending time with rescued victims of sex trafficking. I knew that conversation was meant for more than just two friends connecting. I couldn't just say, "Wow, how awful," and go about my normal life. I had to do something. Even if it was something very small.

    My small act didn't solve the evils of the world, but it did help combat the evil being done against one. And that small gift tendered my heart to do more.

    A few years later, I spent almost a week living and serving in a shelter for girls rescued from sex trafficking. Coming face to face with those affected by evil was starkly different than just hearing about it. I listened to their stories, saw their tears, and held their hands.

    What I heard and saw horrified me on deep, deep levels. I kept thinking, How can this be going on in America? How was I so unaware?

    And yet the reality is I personally know the horrors of being taken advantage of and feeling powerless. As a young girl I was caught in a vicious cycle of sexual abuse by a family "friend" for years.

    His threats kept me silent. Over time that silence turned into overwhelming shame. Hatred cloaked my soul in darkness. And that bitterness seeped into the deepest crevices of my heart, changing how I saw myself. A girl can get completely lost inside the caverns of hate and lose every bit of what used to make her feel alive.

    I once was a shell of a girl ravaged by evils done to me.

    But now I'm a girl who has hope bigger than the hurt. Light brighter than the darkness. And a life full of truth as God set me free from those death chains of hatred.

    How did I find that pathway to healing? Someone told me about Jesus.

    Jesus promised me a new life by following Him. As I did, He saved me by His love, comforted me by His grace, and freed me by His truth. Christian counseling helped me understand how to forgive and challenged me to share the hope I'd found. Every time I shared my story, it miraculously deepened my own healing. Every time I comforted another hurting woman, my own soul found deeper comfort.

    The Bible reminds us that God has comforted us "so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:4b-5, NASB).

    Your story and circumstances may be different, but we all need healing and comfort of some kind. Seek that comfort from God today. But don't stop there.

    God doesn't comfort us to make us comfortable. He comforts us to make us comfort-ABLE ... able to help others.

    Seek out someone to help today. And if you need a small place to start, I want to introduce you to a friend named Becky who was rescued and gave her life to Jesus just a few weeks ago. (For more on Becky's story, read the related resources portion below.)

    If you want to be part of the miracles happening in Becky's life and the lives of other women being helped right now, here are three ways:

    * Be aware there are women needing help.

    * Pray for these women and the organizations seeking to rescue them.

    * Buy a bracelet made by Becky or one of the other women being helped by a ministry we've partnered with called Fashion & Compassion. When you buy a bracelet, you get the name of the "rescued" woman who made it. You can pray for her specifically as you wear this beautiful reminder that small gifts matched with your prayers make a big difference.

    And if you have a story of hope like me, share it. Love. Comfort. And believe small gifts aren't small at all.

    Dear Lord, thank You for being our Comforter. Wrap Your loving arms around each woman struggling with hurt and pain in the world right now, Father. Please show me how I can help them specifically. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What small thing could you do today to help those who are hurting in the community around you? Pray for them and then take action however you can.

    Power Verse: Psalm 62:7, "My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Replacing My Cravings

    Lysa

    "Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:1-3 (NIV 1984)

    I rolled over and looked at the clock. Another day. Beyond all reason and rationality, I slid out of bed and stripped off everything that might weigh even the slightest ounce as I headed to the scale.

    I thought, "Maybe today will be the day the scale will be my friend and not reveal my secrets. Maybe somehow overnight the molecular structure of my body shifted and today I will magically weigh less."

    I yanked out my ponytail holder - hey, it's gotta weigh something - and decided to try again. But the scale didn't change its mind the second time. It was not my friend this day.

    Vowing to do better, eat healthier, and make good choices, I headed to the kitchen only to have my resolve melt like the icing on the cinnamon rolls my daughter just pulled from the oven. Oh, who cares what the scale says when this roll speaks such love and deliciousness.

    Two and a half cinnamon rolls later, I decided tomorrow would be a much better day to keep my promises to eat healthier. But tomorrow wasn't the day. Or the next. Or the next.

    I knew I needed to make changes. Because this wasn't really about the scale or what clothing size I was; it was about this battle that raged in my heart. I thought about, craved, and arranged my life too much around food. So much so, I knew it was something God was challenging me to surrender to His control. Surrender to the point where I'd make changes for the sake of my spiritual health perhaps even more than my physical health.

    I had to get honest enough to admit it: I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. Food was my comfort. Food was my reward. Food was my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress, sadness, and even in times of happiness.

    I knew this battle would be hard. But through it all I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn't part of my healthy eating plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot.

    Sometimes I wound up on the floor of my closet, praying with tears running down my face. And I gave myself permission to cry, just like the psalmist in Psalm 5:1-3, "Give ears to my word, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

    And that is literally what I did each day. Laid my requests before God and waited in expectation.

    Then, one morning, it finally happened. I got up and for the first time in a long while, I felt incredibly empowered. I still did the same crazy routine with the scale, no clothes, no ponytail holder. The numbers hadn't changed much, but my heart had. One day of victory tasted better than any of that food I'd given up ever could. I had waited in expectation using prayer as my guide and I did it.

    I can't promise you there won't be any more tears. There will. And I can't promise the scale magically drops as quickly as you wish it would. It probably won't. But it will be a start. A really good start.

    Dear Lord, You know me so intimately. You know how much I'm struggling right now. Please help me to replace my cravings with a reliance on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: How can you pray through your specific struggle?

    Do some research on Scriptures that apply to your situation. Write them down on notecards or make a list in your cell phone. When faced with your struggle, turn it into an opportunity to pray through these Scriptures.

    Power Verse: 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Isn't This Just a Small Thing?

    Lysa

    "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food." Romans 14:19-20a (NIV)

    I always considered my food struggle as a small thing in light of the bigger challenges of life.

    I can remember saying, "God, you can mess with my pride, you can mess with my anger, you can mess with my money, you can mess with my selfishness, you can mess with my frustration with my children, you can mess with the times I disrespect my husband ... you can mess with all that, but don't mess with my overeating." However, small things can easily become big things. Consider this example.

    On January 15, 2009, Flight 1549 took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport with 155 occupants on board. The takeoff went fine, but three minutes later, at only three thousand feet, the plane encountered a flock of geese. Both engines shut down. Captain "Sully" Sullenberger had to make an immediate decision with life or death consequences. He made a miraculously successful emergency landing on the Hudson River.

    Those geese were small, but they brought down an entire plane. Small things can easily become big things. We would do well to remember this principle.

    Let's begin to acknowledge the "big" emotions that often accompany our "little" food struggles. I realized that I constantly bounced between feeling deprived and guilty; deprived, then guilty. My disgust and frustration with myself stripped me of the peace and joy that I wanted to be the hallmark of my life.

    Having peace is a big deal. Scripture tells us to let the peace of God rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). Isn't peace what we want in every area of our lives — even our health? Is your heart dominated by feelings of inadequacy, self-loathing, or defeat about your food struggles? Those are big emotions.

    Whenever we feel defeated by an issue, it can prevent us from following God completely. That's why my weight loss goal isn't a number on the scale. My real weight loss goal is peace. I knew I would be successful one day when I stood on the scale and I felt peace, no matter what the number said.

    As we move through our healthy eating journey, the goal shouldn't just be a smaller waistline measurement, but a larger measure of peace. The apostle Paul puts it this way: "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food" (Romans 14:19-20a). In other words, don't let a small thing become a big thing.

    I often ask myself this pivotal question before making a food choice: Will this choice add to my peace or steal from it? Remember, nothing tastes as good as peace feels.

    Dear Lord, Your peace is what I plead for today. I don't want my focus to be on food, a number on the scale, insecurity, or inadequacy. I want my focus to be on You. That is where I will find true peace. In Jesus' name. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What "big" emotions are accompanying your "little" struggle?

    Whether it's a struggle with food or something else, write down the emotions you feel when you think about it.

    Then, write down action steps you can take to move away from those feelings and toward peace. Start with talking to the Lord and offering up this struggle to Him.

    Power Verse: Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • A Call to Action

    Lysa

    "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food." Romans 14:20a (NIV)

    Five years ago I was stuck in a rut of wishful thinking and excuses with my weight. At the beginning of each day I would say I wanted things to be different. I would even make a plan to stop the snacks, increase the veggies, and say "no" to desserts.

    But then life would happen, and excuses were plentiful. My resolve would melt away like butter on a hot yeast roll.

    The next morning I would get up and weigh myself hoping that somehow, something would have happened over night. Despite my indulgences from the day before, maybe the numbers would have gone down.

    But the scale was not impressed with my wishful thinking. It could only tell the truth.

    Do you know who I'd get mad at?

    God.

    I'd beg Him to help me one minute while scarfing down an order of fries the next. And then I'd be doubly mad He didn't steer my car away from that drive-thru.

    I deemed myself a victim of tragic genetics, overactive taste buds, and a stomach that demanded large portions.

    What I failed to realize is there was a much more significant issue going on.

    More important than the ever-increasing size of my jeans was the deception going on inside my heart. My weight wasn't God's curse on me. My weight was an outside indication of an internal situation.

    Honestly, I might as well have taken Psalm 23 which talks about the Lord being my shepherd and my comfort and replaced His Name with various foods. I was relying on food to be my comfort, my ever-present help, my guide. Food was the thing that got me through the valleys. It became the friend I wanted to celebrate with in the good times.

    I don't write to point out anyone else's issue. There are certainly medical and genetic circumstances that can cause weight gain. But I discovered that my issue was spiritual. And no diet would be permanently successful until I got to the root of my problem—craving food more than God.

    I desired and depended on the instant high of physical gratification because I hadn't learned how to let God satisfy my deepest needs. This realization became a call to action.

    Maybe something is stirring in your soul. I know this is a tough issue. I've walked through the tears and the feelings of failure. But I wanted freedom. And I realized that if I wanted to have my deepest desires met by God and not food, I would need to restore God to His rightful place by changing my old thought patterns. Here are some examples:

    Old thought patterns: "I need these chips. I deserve this ice cream. I must have that extra large portion."

    New thought patterns: Chips will only taste good for the moment. But the calories are empty and will do nothing good for my body. 2 Corinthians 7:1 reminds me, "...Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit ... out of reverence for God." (NIV 1984)

    This ice cream will give me a sugar high but then I'll crash and feel terrible. Psalm 34:8 reminds me to get into God's Word and let it satisfy the hungry places of my soul: "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (NIV 1984)

    This extra large portion will overstuff me and make me feel sluggish. I can't look to this food to soothe me. Psalm 34:5 says, "Those who look to [God] are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." (NIV 1984)

    Learning to do this has been a process that I have to intentionally choose day after day. Eventually, I lost the extra weight. But the real reward was what I gained with Jesus in the process. He became the best part of my journey. And I wouldn't have missed this new found closeness with Him for anything.

    Dear Lord, if this devotion is a call to action that I need to make, please help me. I want to see the root of my issue. I want to learn to crave only You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond: Keep a pocket-sized notebook nearby all week. Every time you crave food, ask yourself if you are hungry or if you are craving something else like comfort or peace.

    Power Verse: Psalm 18:1, "I love you, O LORD, my strength." (NIV 1984)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

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