• July 23, 2021

    Glutton For Punishment

    “Greed, envy, sloth, pride, and gluttony: these are not vices anymore. No, these are marketing tools. Lust is our way of life. Envy is just a nudge towards another sale. Even in our relationships, we consume each other, each looking for what we can get out of the other. Our appetites are often satisfied at the expense of those around us. In a dog-eat-dog world, we lose part of our humanity.” ~ Jon Foreman

    Has anyone ever suggested that you are a glutton for punishment? Gluttony refers to an overindulgence of food but can take on many forms. In the West, we don’t comprehend the depths of our gluttonous compared to the rest of the world. We are gluttons because of our culture and because we’re born in a failed state. We live in a culture that screams MORE. Unfortunately, our identity and self-worth are often dependent on MORE, and MORE is hard to spot because MORE wears many disguises.

    Some folks often say, “I have a body made for sin..; too bad that sin is gluttony.

    What is the difference between gluttony and lust? The definitions sound very similar; they are both excessive and overindulgence in our lives, the unhealthy obsession with food and things and people.

    The difference is simple; lust is an intense craving after something God has chosen not to give you at this time; lust is wanting something that you can’t have.

    On the other hand, gluttony is an intense craving or overconsumption of something God has chosen to give you; gluttony is taking more than you what you need.

    What is your favorite comfort food, e.g., ice cream, popcorn, nuts, chocolate, etc.? Comfort food is another form of gluttony. If you take a personal inventory of your eating patterns, you will quickly discover that you are an emotional eater. Emotion eating influences our gluttony, and once gluttony becomes chronic, it’s hard to overcome, but the good news is that it’s not impossible, especially with God’s help.

    Please let me close by sharing with you a verse from the Eagle’s song, “Hotel California.”

    “Mirrors on the ceiling,

    The pink champagne on ice

    And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’

    And in the master’s chambers,

    They gathered for the feast

    They stab it with their steely knives,

    But they just can’t kill the beast”

    We see in this song the trap of gluttony. The lure of the exotic and the extravagant – mirrors on the ceiling – pink champagne in our glasses – feasts of excess – the desire for more and more.

    In this song, we see the prophetic cry against the excesses of the American dream, with the songwriter seeing no way out, no way to break free from the bondage of gluttony in their life.

    How do we overcome our gluttony? There are two spiritual principles we can practice that will make a BIG difference in how our lives turn out:

    1. Temperance: Commit to eating the right amount of food for your build. Adopt the discipline to burn more calories than you take in. Eat a balanced diet, and seek the aid of a dietician or nutritionist to help create a plan that is not extreme, a crash diet, or simply the latest fad.
    2. Gratitude: Learning to be grateful and express gratitude for the gifts of water, food, shelter, and protection that God provides to satisfy your basic human needs. Our spiritual growth is dependent on subtraction, not MORE. Learning to be content and grateful for the essential things goes a long way in helping overcome the sin of gluttony.

    God of abundance, You have provided as a gift food, water, shelter, and protection to satisfy my basic needs. Please forgive me for taking Your gifts for granted. I have become obsessed with my wants vs. being content and grateful that my essential requirements for life are satisfied. Would you please remove the gluttony from character and help me live into the spiritual principles of love and service, and stop simply living for myself. In Your Spirit and Name, I pray these things. May Your will not mine always materialize, now and forever. Amen.

    Image by Harold Long on Canva

    1. July 21, 2021

      Zero-Sum Meditation

      “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day” ~ Deepak Chopra

      When you meditate, what are you trying to achieve? Quiet? Wisdom? Guidance? Revelation? Oneness with your Creator? Most of the time, meditation is practiced with selfish ambitions and an extreme self-centered desire for gain. It would be best if you learned to meditate with no ambition or desire for gain. In these moments, you can tap into the Spirit world without expectation, ready to receive what the Divine has to offer.

      The world demands much from us. Individualism, consumerism, materialism, and human secularism have deep roots embedded into our souls. To delusion is that to survive and prosper in our culture, we must become competitive and willing to do whatever is necessary to get ahead and achieve more. In the world of the Spirit, this approach is ineffective. Meditation requires letting go of these attitudes and ambitions and prepares us to experience what only the world of the Spirit can deliver.

      When you meditate, you must expect a zero-sum outcome. For the Spirit deep inside you to win, the worldliness deep inside you must lose. If you approach meditation in this manner, with no demand for gain or unreasonable expectations, you will experience intimacy with your Creator. If you approach meditation with an extremely self-centered attitude and the desire for gain, you will walk away restless, irritable, and discontent.

      When the soul is preoccupied with gaining and winning at all costs, it sabotages what we desire most: to grow spiritually. The world of the Spirit is the realm where we learn to grow in understanding and effectiveness. Our approach to the Spirit world is antithetical to the secular world system. Therefore, the only way to maximize our meditation efforts and experience the world of the Spirit profoundly and effectively is the zero-sum approach.

      Holy Spirit, thank You for being my friend, counselor, and advocate. As I prepare myself to meet You in the center of my soul, please remove the selfishness, worldliness, and desire for gain from my psyche so that I may experience the divine in the most profound way possible. In Your Spirit and Name, I pray these things. May Your will not mine always materialize, now and forever. Amen. 

      Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

      1.  — Edited

        July 20, 2021

        Your Body and God’s Residence

        19 Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? 20 You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body. ~ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – CEB)

        It’s hard to grasp the idea of the Spirit of God dwelling inside our bodies, especially if we’re out of shape. Body shame is real and affects countless people from all walks of life. Because we can be so hard on ourselves, we quickly lose the connection that our bodies are a temple and residence for the Spirit of God. Unless we learn to love and respect our bodies, we will struggle spiritually. The body is the temple of the soul; (the soul is defined as our mind, emotions, and will). We must learn to treat our bodies like a temple and not a trash dumpster.

        A wise man once told me, “It’s hard to do good when you don’t feel good” ~ Lewis Trotter. What a true statement; when our body is weak and ill, it affects us spiritually. Our minds, emotions, and willingness to stay focused on loving and serving God and others are compromised when our bodies struggle. The body is like our vehicle; it’s what gets us from point A to point B. If we don’t change the oil, rotate the tires, and keep up with the essential maintenance, our vehicle is not long for this earth; the same is true for our bodies.

        Aging is a part of life, but how we treat our bodies will make a big difference in how our lives turn out. It’s easy to get down on ourselves as we age for not having taken better care of ourselves. It does us no good to dwell on the past; instead, we need to focus our actions on what can be changed today. We must ask God to help us to see the changes in our hair, the aging of our face, the sagging of our skin, the accumulation of age spots and skin tags, not as signs of our decline, but as the markers of growth, well-earned wisdom, and a celebration of years well spent walking with God.

        It’s never too late to clean up your house, and it’s never too late to clean up your body. If you smoke, STOP! If you eat more calories than you burn, STOP! If you don’t exercise, START! And if any other hurts, habits, or hang-ups compromise your body and health, GET HELP, and STOP! It’s time to start treating your body like a temple and honoring God in all that you do, including taking care of your body. You can do this, and you need to start TODAY!

        Lord, more than anything, help me be at peace with my body. Would you please release me from envy of the hair, face, skin, abs, arms, legs, thinness, tanness, physical “perfection” of others? You stitched me together in my mother’s womb. You chose my shape, my DNA and knew how I would develop and age through every stage. Would you please help me be at peace with this body so that I might find life and protect myself from the envy of others that might rot my bones? In Your Spirit and Name, I pray these things. May Your will not mine always materialize, now and forever. Amen. (Prayer adapted from Marie Osborne) 

        Photo by I.am_nah on Unsplash

        1. July 19, 2021

          Preordained Destiny

          “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

          Our decisions define us, not our circumstances. When we face challenges, our choices will determine the degree of our success or failure. Fate chooses our beginning, but our decisions determine our destiny. When we decide to change is when our destiny changes.

          What changes do you need to make for your destiny to change?

          Some religious people believe that God has already predestined all who will spend eternity in heaven and those who will not. I don’t subscribe to such a view of God or interpret scriptures focused on predestination in that manner. Some subscribe to universalism, meaning they believe that everyone will be with God for eternity, despite their choices on earth. As much as I hope universalism is true, I can’t find anywhere in scripture to support such a view.

          My understanding of predestination is that God created a design for living that leads to God, God’s Kingdom, and eternity. Those who follow that path are predestined to live forever with God on earth and in heaven. God created every human being with free will, so we decide how we will live our life. God doesn’t know who will or who won’t choose His design for living (Open Theism), but those who choose to select His design are predestined to live forever with God.

          Because of free will and extreme self-centeredness, most will choose to live for themselves and miss out on the best life possible. It’s only when we choose to surrender our will and life over to God and put our will and life in line with His that we will ever be destined to live the life God created every person to live.

          Jesus spoke of this often and, through scripture, warns everyone that our choices matter and will determine our destiny:

          13 “Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. 14 But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 – CEB) 

          Neither God nor anyone else will determine your destination. How and where you end up in this life and for eternity rest solely on you and your decisions. You are not a tree; if you don’t like where your life is headed, make better choices, and change your destiny. If you are not rightly related to God, then get on your knees, honestly pray for God to be the director of your life, and then start putting your will in line with His.

          The decision to change the people, places, and things in your life is not easy to make but will make a big difference in how your life turns out. Brining your hurts, habits, and hang-ups out of their hiding places and surrendering them over to God will determine how much freedom you will enjoy and the depth and weight of your relationship with God. Your destiny is here for the changing, choose wisely, and forever rely on God.

          My Creator, I know that You don’t predestine anyone to live apart from You; it’s only by choice. You have given me free will to decide how I will live my life. God, please help me make the right decisions for my life. I am tired of managing my own life, and I don’t wish to miss out on the best life possible on earth or spend eternity without You. Please accept me as I am and for all the poor decisions I have made in life. Remove from my character everything standing in the way of me embracing Your will for my life. I desire nothing more than to spend the rest of my life immersed in Your kingdom on earth and in heaven. In Your Spirit and Name, I pray these things. May Your will not mine always materialize, now and forever. Amen. 

          Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

          1. published a bulletin

            Kassie Nikita Sims (Family Only Time)
          2. published a bulletin

            TUMC, July 18, 2021