My Eating Disorder Is Eating Me

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”1

A Daily Encounter reader writes: “I need help. My eating disorder is eating me. I have tried to give it to God, but I am not sure if I have wholeheartedly done this. I want to stop but I am hooked on the skinniness thing.”

When under- or over-eating is an addictive behavior, it can be a serious problem. Seeing what the cause of the problem is may be the hardest thing to come to terms with. With all addictions the problem we see—the presenting problem—is usually just the symptom of the real problem—”the fruit of a deeper root.”

While symptoms need to be treated, it is critical that the root cause/s are treated and resolved. If only the symptom is treated, the root will pop out in another area. I know of one man who claimed he was healed of alcoholism the moment he became a Christian. In reality all he had done was change from being an alcoholic into an anger-aholic!

The bottom line in many, if not most, addictions is that somewhere in the past, mostly in early childhood, there has been a failure somewhere in love. The addictive behavior is used to medicate and not feel the pain of one’s inner hurt of not feeling adequately loved. Besides asking for God’s help and praying for deliverance, we need to do our part as well. As we get damaged in damaging relationships we get healed in healing relationships. This is why support groups such as twelve-step programs can be very effective, and why working with a skilled counselor or therapist may be needed and even critical.

As alcoholics need to be in an alcoholic-anonymous support group, food-aholics need to be in an overeaters anonymous group (and so on), where they can be loved and accepted for whom they are. As it is a failure in love that drives people into addictive behaviors, it is unconditional love that is one of the greatest healing agents to deliver one from addictive behaviors. When people feel genuinely loved and accepted, the need to “act out” in self-destructive addictive behaviors is greatly lessened.

A support group also helps the addict to keep accountable for his behavior, for it is only as he stops his addictive behavior and feels the real pain of his hurt or rejection, can he face and resolve the root cause of his problem.

from DailyEncounter, 03-19-2008

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Troublemakers in the Church and Elsewhere

“Alexander the metalworker did me [the Apostle Paul] a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.”1

We’ve all heard or read about toxic pastors and/or priests, but what about toxic church members? They just don’t get the news coverage as toxic pastors and priests do—news that the liberal media love to broadcast far and wide.

I have read that several studies have indicated that it is usually less than 5 or 6 people who manage to “run off” the pastor of a church.

While this has not happened to me, I was “shot down” a few years ago and know how painful this can be. This was not from being the pastor of a church (which would be devastating), but from the Sunday School class where I was the teacher. My chief opponent was one person who stirred up others against me. I discovered to my dismay, without as much as being contacted, that I had been voted out as teacher of this class. I did learn, however, that I was only one of the last six teachers who had also been “shot down.” That class has since been disbanded. I was also the member of a church where just a few disgruntled members basically killed a thriving church which now no longer exists!

While some pastors and teachers need to be dismissed for justifiable reasons, more often than not there are power struggles in churches that cause pastors and leaders to be dismissed and hurt deeply. I was taught in college that every church has a church “boss” which usually isn’t the pastor. It is a person who wants to be in control. This gives him or her a sense of power and importance. However, this is a false sense because anyone who has to be in control of every situation is a very insecure person. Furthermore, without knowing it, they play the role of the Holy Spirit in the church and in people’s lives. As Paul warned, we need to be on our guard against these troublemakers—inside and outside of the church!

Strangely enough, in our western culture we call controlling or domineering people strong when in fact they are very insecure and weak. Mature and genuinely strong people are never domineering or controlling. The supreme example is Jesus. He always spoke with authority but was never authoritarian (controlling).

Control, such as mentioned above—whether by a high and mighty hand or in an underhanded saccharine-sweet manipulative manner—is a major problem in our society. It is a destroyer not only of churches, classes, or groups, but also of marriages, families, and personal relationships.

The tragedy is that most controlling people never see or admit who they are or what they are doing.

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to grow in maturity so that I will become more and more a loving, non-controlling leader and/or individual. Help me to be like Jesus in every way. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-18-2008

Build Up Your Self-Confidence

God to Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”1

According to Samuel Johnson, “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” This is true for both the non-Christian and the Christian alike but what the Christian needs perhaps even more is God-confidence.

As another has pointed out, “Moses lacked self-confidence when God called him. Had Joshua had lots of self-confidence why would God have told him to not be afraid? Gideon certainly lacked self-confidence. And until the disciples of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit they had little if any self-confidence. When Jesus was taken captive, his disciples fled for their lives. Undoubtedly, just as I would have done had I been in their shoes. Had Paul had lots of self-confidence in all situations, why would God have sent an angel to him when he was in prison to tell him to fear not? And over and over God had to tell David not to fear.”

Lacking self-confidence is par for the course for most of us for we all struggle with this to some degree. So how do we overcome?

First, we do this by building on our successes and not on our failures—and on what we can do, not on what we can’t do! For instance, I may be a terrible bricklayer but that doesn’t make me a terrible person.

Second, more importantly, building up our self-confidence needs to come from within; that is, building up my belief in myself. This comes mostly from being open, honest and transparent with at least one or two trusted friends to whom I reveal my total self—warts and all. As they love and accept me as I am, little by little I learn (in a healthy way) to love and accept myself as I am. As we grow in self-love, it is amazing how our self-confidence increases.

Third, and how do I build up my God-confidence? By choosing to trust him no matter how I feel. When I am lacking in self-confidence, I keep saying to God, “I’m afraid, but I choose to trust you in this situation.” Eventually my feelings catch up with my choice to trust God.

Fourth, we also build up God-confidence through experience—by stepping out and practicing faith in God and doing what we believe he wants us to do. As we see God using us, our God-confidence grows.

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, thank you that you love and accept me as I am—and that you love me too much to leave me as I am. Please help me to accept myself as you do, and help me to grow to become the person you want me to be so that my God-confidence and self-confidence will increase greatly. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-17-2008

Resting on One’s Laurels

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”1

In an article in Leadership magazine, J. David Bianchin used the analogy of a basketball game. In “the 1987 NCAA Regional Finals, Louisiana State University was leading Indiana by eight points with only a few minutes left in the game. As is often the case with a team in the lead, LSU began playing a different ball game. The television announcer pointed out that the LSU players were beginning to watch the clock rather than wholeheartedly play the game. As a result of this shift in focus, Indiana closed the gap, won the game by one point, and eventually went on to become NCAA champions.”

At the human level, as we have been so graphically reminded by the events of 9-11 and more recent atrocities around the world, we dare not sit on our laurels or base our security on past victories. “Eternal vigilance is [still] the price of freedom.” And how much greater is the need for eternal vigilance in the work of the Kingdom of God.

As God’s Word says, “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.”2 “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.”3

May we, Like the Apostle Paul, say, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”4

This, by the grace of God, we can do because, as David the Psalmist wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”5

Suggested prayer, “Gracious God, thank you for your great salvation in the gift of your Son, Jesus, and for all the unfathomable blessings you have in store for your children, both in the here-and-now and in the hereafter. However, help me not to rest on my laurels, but to keep my eye on the goal and serve you faithfully all the days of my life. So help me God. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-14-2008

According to Your Faith

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”1

Earl Nightingale tells about a strength test in which people were asked to squeeze a dynamometer (a machine that tests the power of your grip) as hard as they could. After that first squeeze had been measured, they were put under hypnosis and told they were very strong. When asked to grip the machine again, their scores averaged forty percent better.

Their physical strength did not increase under hypnosis. But their ability to use that strength did. It wasn’t the hypnosis that did it, but their belief about themselves.

When we are led to believe we are stronger, we react accordingly. There is a sense in which we all go through life “self-hypnotized” in that a great deal of what we do is determined by what others have told us—and what we have told ourselves—and believed!

What we need to do is listen to what God’s Word, the Bible, says about us, believe it, and act accordingly. As the Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [that is, things that are in harmony with God’s will].2

If there is one thing I have learned over the years it’s that God never calls any of us to do anything that he hasn’t equipped us to do. And he calls all of us to be faithful servants in his work on earth, and to be faithful stewards of all that he has given to us: our time, talents, money, and our resources.

Suggested prayer, “Dear God, I come to you making myself available. Please use me to be a part of your plans and the work you are doing in the world today. Like the doubting father in today’s Bible text, I do believe; help me to overcome any and all unbelief. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-13-2008

Promises, Promises

“Your kingdom [God] is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.”1

“In the latter days of the Vietnam War, an American Colonel named Earl Woods made a promise. Woods believed that his friend, a South Vietnamese colonel named Vuong Phon, saved his life. In gratitude for that act, Woods promised to name his son after his friend, who was known as ‘Tiger.’ Sports fans will immediately understand that the promise was kept. That son has immortalized his father’s friend for most everyone has heard of Tiger Woods.”2

When I was growing up in secular Australia, in grade school every chapter in our English class readers [text books] had a moral that applied to healthy everyday living, and on the header over the door of every classroom was a motto. I still remember one of these that was from the Bible: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”3 We were also taught that “a man was as good as his word.”

I also learned early in life that a man who didn’t keep his word couldn’t be trusted—such was a serious character flaw. Sadly today for many, giving their word doesn’t mean a thing. Think of so many crooked business leaders who lie by cooking their financial books, politicians who make promises to get votes, promises they have no intention of fulfilling, and so many of the rest of us who place little value on the word we give and the promises we make.

So I ask myself the question, “Am I as good as my word? Am I a man of character who keeps his word and fulfills his promises?”

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, thank you that you always keep your word, and that you always fulfill your promises. Please help me to do the same. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-12-2008