Who’s Responsible for Your New Year’s Resolution?

Happy New Year!

I wonder what your resolutions are? No, I’m not talking about all your good intentions (the ones we all wonder why we make in the first place!). I want to know the deeper things, the places you want to go with the Lord, the things you want Him to teach you, the prayer life you want to have, the grace you want to grasp and the humility you want to develop.

These are quite honestly, the hardest things to accomplish—in fact, impossible. But the good news is (the Gospel) you don’t have to develop them. You also don’t get to check them off your “I did it” list, pat yourself on the back or move on to bigger, bolder ambitious things.

Here’s the thing, when it comes to cultivating holiness and God-centered lives, only God can do that. The one who created our physical lives, is the one who began our eternal lives and the only one who can work and harvest any good from our lives.

Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Micah 6:8 tells us that God wants us to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him.

1 Peter 1:6 says, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’”

Paul writes to “pray without ceasing”.

If all these things are what God wants for and from us, it follows from Philippians that He is the one to do them. Jesus makes it pretty plain in John 15:5 that we are impotent to improve ourselves:  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (emphasis mine)

One of the most succinct passages on this point is Philippians 1:5-6, “…in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

You see, from the very beginning—from the first day you recognized the Gospel until now, the work has been Christ’s. Why do we get confused every New Year’s Day and suddenly think it’s our job to become better Christians, or for that matter, better citizens, husbands, wives, parents or employees?

So, I’ve been pondering God’s to-do list this year. These are the good things He began and promised to complete. I rest in confidence that He will accomplish His will in my life. I am simply being obedient to surrender my heart, life, body and soul to His good purposes.

This concept reminds me of when my father asked five-year-old me to help him work on the car. Of course, I was impotent and maybe more of a nuisance than aid, but nonetheless, he called me to “work” alongside him. In those hours, he accomplished his purposes. I merely sacrificed what else I might be doing to stand beside him—prioritizing his desires for me above all else.

Through prayer, I have come to understand One Word that will focus my attention on God’s work in my life. This year, it is: hungry.
Father, your Word says, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. It also says that you fill the hungry with good things. You are the one who satisfies the hunger of all living things and all types of hunger. Father, this year, I know you will create and satisfy in me a deeper hunger for your Word, your wisdom, your grace and Christ-like humility and compassion than I have ever known before. Thank you for your good work in my life. Thank you for not leaving me to my own best efforts to please you. In the name of my savior, Jesus, Amen.

A Look Back at Bodies

Given the nature of Predatory Lies, and heading into the New Year, it seems fitting to analyze the past year’s messages about our bodies. Prepare to be challenged, incensed and finally relieved and encouraged!

“Taylor Swift didn’t Fit” a VS Angel Claims

When we determine our heroes by their sex appeal…Don’t let someone with bad brows tell you about life

A Purpose for Every Body – Can you guess this Olympian’s sport?

Finally, this one will bolster your heart and send you into the New Year with wind beneath your wings. The ever-profound and dearly loved: Ann Voskamp

A Holy Experience

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/11/how-the-hidden-dangers-of-comparison-are-killing-us-and-our-daughters-

Naked no more: Clothed in Strength and Dignity

I doubt I’m the only woman who finds the Proverbs 31 woman intimidating. Last year, I wrote a post about this, a paraphrase of that infamous chapter.

However, when I read the chapter in light of my One Word for 2013, a tiny segment of verses stands out. Verses 25-27 seem to skip away from her laundry list of to-do’s and been-done’s. Instead those three little verses give me a peak at her personality, what she’s really thinking and feeling. And surprisingly, in the midst of her busyness, she seems genuinely happy.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.”

While many in my generation revel in the greatest comfort our word has ever known: myriad conveniences, technology, progress and wealth, there are not many of us who Laugh at our future. What would it take? Where can we find the inner peace and joy to look forward and laugh? I want to laugh even when the stock market crumbles, even when I disagree with political decisions, even if I am unemployed, even if my loved ones die. I want to laugh at the future.

The Bible says this woman is clothed with strength and dignity. The Hebrew words strength and dignity can also be translated “to be fixed (strength) and to claim honor (dignity)”.

Those words remind me of Hebrews 12:2-3

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If I were to resolve in this new year to be more like the Proverbs 31 woman, I would start here. I will fix my eyes on Jesus, becoming steadfast and immovable –  strong. And I will claim honor by despising shame. I will not accept defeat, shame or discouragement. Instead, like my Savior, I will claim the honor that is rightly mine as a child of God and I will laugh at the future. 

One Word, 2013

My one word is a little scary. I have actually been contemplating it for days and kept trying to chose my own. They were expected words, typical New Year words and I wanted something different. I kept asking God. 
As I began my first blog post for the New Year (see yesterday) the word came to me. 
NAKED. I want to understand what it means to be so cleansed and forgiven by God that unlike Adam in the Garden of Eden, I can stand before Him naked and unashamed. 
I want to see the nakedness in front of me in the form of need or poverty. I want to see hurting people in nakedness and offer them the clothing of the comfort of Jesus Christ and His righteousness. 
I want to live in naked honesty before everyone, so that I never have to reap the consequences of even the tiniest white lie.
I want to reach out specifically to those girls who through the viciousness of an eating disorder have such a terrible body image that they despise the beautiful naked, perfect body God gave them.
So. Naked, is my word for 2013.

Read about the significance of One Word, and others’ One Words.

I Am Resolved To Lose Control

That doesn’t sound like a very good New Year’s resolution, does it? But then, I told you I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are mean’t to be broken; they are almost laughable. I work at  South Run RECenter, so already this year I’ve met hundreds of good intentions cloaked in tired bodies. I’ve sold probably 50 years worth of memberships, most of which will never be worn out, for that matter neither will the Asics on the feet of the purchaser.

We have all met (or made them ourselves) the individual swearing to start journaling this year. Or, they promise to get more rest, or get up earlier. We, or they, pledge to spend more quality time with our kids or spouse, to control our eating or spending, to get a grip on our gossip habit.

What do each of these examples have in common? We want to take control of ourselves! We long to to master our circumstances, our desires, our impulses and even our relationships.

I just picked up a new book recently. As usual, I heard the author interviewed on Janet Parshall’s show. Chantel Hobbs is the woman you want to hate. She is scary gorgeous and used to weigh 350 pounds. She’s the author of several books, the one I’m reading is called, Love Food and Live Well. 

 You know my story. I have had a ridiculous fear of food since the age of 14. So, the concept of loving food is foreign to me. I’m not interested in Hobb’s weight loss prescription. At least I didn’t think I was. But Chantel takes a whole new, holistic approach. I’m not talking about organic products, deep cleanses and special herbs. I’m talking about taking a look at your whole body, spirit and soul. Hobbs doesn’t separate the belly fat from the idolatry of food lust. She doesn’t endorse sit-ups and long-distance running, ignoring the exercise of faith. She doesn’t encourage you to get a grip on your physical appetite, while starving your spirit.

Personally, most of my recovery from anorexia has been overshadowed by the discouraging thought that I had to get my behaviors right before I could get my fellowship with God right. Once I had control of my idolatrous behaviors, THEN I could ask God to take control of my life. Do you feel that way?

Too many of us confuse love with control. In the past, most things I really loved I loved poorly. I know this becasue as I tried to control them I always felt out of control. Whether it was food, friendships, jobs, or material stuff, I lived in fear – the fear of losing whatever I was trying to possess. – Chantel Hobbs, Love Food and Live Well

Ouch. How true of my perverted love. I noticed recently that I feel angry when I think about my sisters – the three women I love more than anyone in the world. I can’t control the fact that they can see each other every single day and hold my niece or drive to my mom’s house. So, feeling disconnected and out of control way over here on the east coast, my love for them simmers – poisoned by anger.

I say that I love working out. I don’t even know if that’s true on any level. I do know that I love the feeling of being in control of my body. Take away that control, tell me I can’t exercise tomorrow or that I have to take a week off, and my “love” just might explode in deadly rage.

So, I will set a New Year’s dissolution. I resolve to dissolve control.