It’s Sunday — a fresh week, a fresh start, with some progress and all failures forgiven through His blood. Let us start again with renewed resolve to remove the idols of our hearts and replace them with the one true God. Time to set a new goal for this week!
This is Marie who wrote me this week, telling me how God has used the truths in A Woman of Moderation (the same truths we are exploring during Lent to be set free from various idols of the heart) to set her free from gluttony. Here she is, just two months before she is to give birth, 65 pounds lighter than when she began. iSN’T SHE BEAUTIFUL? I want you to see how God transformed her not only on the outside, but on the inside. Marie writes:
“A Woman of Moderation was an answer to my prayers. When I get to heaven I will seek you out and tell you all the wonderful things that have changed in me…I cannot tell you how great it is to be free from this sin that convicted me over and over each day. I felt so far from God. I will also mention (and this is not the most important thing, but an added bonus) that before I was squeezing into size 18 jeans and now am squeezing into size 7.”
Notice Marie says that being set free from being overweight is not the most important thing. She writes first of how miserable her idol of comfort made her. (Idols always promise freedom and relief, but always bring us into bondage.)
Here is a before picture of Marie. This is just after she had given birth. These were her feelings, her desperation:
“I couldn’t wait for my heavenly body, the one I would get at the resurrection, new and perfect. … I began to pray. Not for a diet but for a new way of life. I wanted to live a long time for my kids. I heard you say on the radio, gluttony is a sin. I stood convicted. I knew I was responsible. All I heard you say on the radio the next few weeks hit my heart as if God sent it directly to me. I can’t tell you how I anticipated the arrival of “Woman of Moderation.” in the mail.”
The passage we are going to study this week is from the story of Cain in Genesis, which shows that that our idols are not our friends — they enslave us — and the best time to resist them is when they first call. Freedom is possible, as Marie’s story shows us. What awaits us is not only freedom from our cruel idols, but intimacy with God. Marie writes:
“My husband is so thrilled at all the changes. He is the first to notice however that it is my spirit he is most impressed with. He knows more than anyone the soul changing I had to do to get here. … God changed me, and I believe that he gave me this weakness, knowing He had the power to help me overcome -so I could in turn help many others.”
Marie has offered to mentor others, and I want you to ask her questions. Your “near sin” may be different than gluttony, but the principles are the same, so you don’t need to limit this to this sin. Each of us has a deep idol (or two or three) that calls to us, promising us freedom, but giving us slavery. The true God is the one who really gives us freedom and is the fulfillment of all desire.
In God’s providence, I also got a new letter for an old post (Let’s Be Women of Moderation) from a woman just beginning this journey. I would love for Marie and any of you who feel led to encourage Monica. She writes:
“My name is Monica. I just started your workbook it has taken my five weeks to do two weeks of work i keep falling off and on of this wagon, but i don’t stop because “I” win…I am 396..pounds three pounds lighter than last week Praise the Lord……I didn’t realize how bad I had left myself sink…..Image wasn’t an issue cause I Love myself…..but a guy friend told me some time ago when we were discussing food and weight gain…He said you don’t love yourself…. because If the doctors keep telling you to stop eating this way and you know that eating this way is bad for you…….why do you do it if it will hurt you later?…….you have to change that….I did not want to hear that at all it was as if God himself said your body is a temple…… “My body…a Temple?’ I have struggled so much with my weight….not trying to get it off but getting other people to accept that I was happy with my size and not at all wanting to lose weight but secretly wishing I could shop at Lerners and not Lane Bryant….. or on the First floor of Macy’s and not the second…..I new I add reached my max when the Largest size in the plus size store was too small….What is a girl to do…I came across your book……Only by the guidance of the Holy Spirit! So I purchased it and alone new it was God…Because the eating plan was one that I had started and failed…only out of laziness…and could not remember exactly what it was called when I was ready to try it again…..I have succeeded in stepping out in faith…..This workbook has changed my life the questions and readings are making my rethink my eating…..The Half days are my favorite…because it forces my brain to visualize a little over a lot…..but most importantly I am getting my relationship with God and food in order…..That alone is great!!!! So please pray for me and keep me lifted…I have to get at least 200lbs off…..I am in the danger zone and only because god has kept me I have not had any serious health problems.”
I’d love for you to ask questions of Marie and encourage Monica.
I’d also love for you to relate.
1. How do you relate to these stories? What idol is your focus this week — and how has it promised you good things but given you slavery?
2. Marie says there has been a change in her soul. What changes have you seen in yourself as you are asking God to fill you with Himself and deliver you from your idol?
3. What questions do you have for Marie? (I have some too!)
4. What encouragement do you have for Monica?
Cain and Abel
There is so much in the story. I believe Cain’s deep idol was approval,affirmation and he was galled when his offering was not pleasing to God and his little brother, Abel, brought an offering that was pleasing to God. Instead of repenting, and running into the arms of God, Cain listened to his idol, who obviously lied to him. Though this is a different idol than Marie’s, the principles are the same.
5. Describe what happens in Genesis 4:1-5.
6. How is Cain feeling in Genesis 4:5? Remember Leslie Vernick’s counsel? Pay attention to your body language, to your emotions, for those can be red flags that your idol is calling to you.
7. When your idol is calling to you, what are some typical symptoms in your body and emotions?
8. What question does God ask Cain?
This is an excellent question. When God asks, He never needs information, but is trying to help us see into our souls. This week, when you feel upset, angry, or discouraged — allow God to ask you this question and answer it. If Cain had listened to God, he might have seen that God was asking him to turn from his sin and run to Him. But instead, Cain pushes God away and listens to his idol. Obviously his idol is lying to him, telling him to murder his brother, and then he will feel relief.
9. How does your idol lie to you?
10. What does God tell Cain next in Genesis 4:7? How can you apply this to your struggle with idolatry?
11. This story can help you reflect on the grace and wonder of our Lord — and that will help you replace your idol with Him.
A. Find times where you see God’s grace, concern, and love in Genesis 4:6-16.
B. One of the most powerful prophetic pictures of Christ is in Genesis 4:10. Abel’s blood is crying out from
the ground for justice. When you fail, as you will, if you are honest, every day — every hour — how
can you be confident that your sin has been paid for, that justice has already been met?
12. Has God showed up in your life or your heart in any way this week? Please share and encourage us!