First I want to give God all the glory for the great things He has done! Through a program called “First Place 4 Health”, a Jesus Christ centered healthy living/wholeness program 3 ½ years ago, God has blessed me with loosing 140lbs!
I was a year round athlete all my life so I could eat whatever I wanted in large quantities and I burned it off. Even through college I only gained 15 lbs because I continued to burn off what I ate. Once I graduated college with a degree in Sports Medicine and athletic training and started my job that is when things started to change. Like all of us, work filled much of my time and I didn’t exercise or play sports much. So the weight started increasing. Then I met my husband, Bob, here at this church and eventually got married. I kept gaining more weight. It wasn’t until we started to have children that I reached my highest weight of 300lbs. See I had been very healthy all of my life until this point. During my pregnancies I had high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and needed bed rest. I was told if things didn’t change these health problems will be your future. That scared me and I started to take my health very seriously. That is when God stepped in.
Thankfully God opened a door for me by starting a class here at the church called “First Place 4 Health”. I am so grateful to Paula Bassnet for being obedient to the Lord and starting the program or I wouldn’ t be here today testifying. I am eternally thankful. But God was preparing my heart for this journey I was about to take. I was ready and I started to ask the Lord for help. I started praying for him to change the desires of my heart to his desires. During my pursuit he revealed to me that I have always put limitations/ restrictions on God and myself. Like when I tried to lose weight before I would convince myself…if I could make these changes for “this” amount of time then I can go back to doing my usual things. God told me “NO” this change is forever. This is not about weight loss it is about trusting in the Lord by submitting ALL of myself to him, pursuing Him, and being healthy. Matt 6:33 states this: Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness, then all things will be added unto you. Then God took me deeper. So many times I believed in my mind and heart that I could be freed from being unhealthy but he showed me that I had a responsibility too. My mother told me this simple example that I want to share with you: Let’s say I have decided in my mind that I want to be an Olympic swimmer. Yet all I do is sit around and do nothing. Do you think I will be an Olympic swimmer? NO. Because faith without works is dead. I might believe with all of my mind and pray consistently for God to do this great work in me, but I too must get up and do it. So I joined First Place being prepared to surrender myself to whatever the Lord shows me. I made initial changes to my diet by eating more fruits and veggies and changing to whole grains. I did the Bible study (which before I never consistently have done), but nothing else. I didn’t do my homework or my food tracking or my memory verses. I wasn’t seeking perfection but I was seeking. The Lord has perfect timing and knew what I needed to change. I love the example my good friend Lois Miles and former co-teacher told me: Our lives are like an onion and God only peels one layer at a time. That is all we can handle.
So the next session, every 3 months, God started showing me I needed to do the homework, and the food tracking, and the memory verses. My first goal was to lose 10% of my body weight. It is proven that when you lose 10% of your body weight your health drastically changes. They were right! I felt amazing. My blood pressure was normal, I had more energy, and less back pain. Then I was asked to lead First Place 2 ½ years ago. I believe the Lord had been preparing me for this opportunity. So my focus changed from seeking the Lord for myself to sharing, teaching, growing, and encouraging others. Outside of weight loss I struggled with Anxiety for years and that made me an easy target for Satan. But thankfully through our memory verses I used the Word and my Sword (Eph 6:17b the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God) to overcome my struggle and was healed from the anxiety. Don’t get me wrong it was a battle, but as I was in the Word, spending time in prayer, and using the Word as my weapon I gained confidence in Jesus and His power. I like this verse in 1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour. Not a pretty picture, but very real. Notice the first two actions WE need to take to prepare for Satan’s attacks…….be self-controlled and alert! James 4:8 says draw close to me and I will draw close to you.
When I spent more time in prayer and study and emptied myself and allowed God to have all of me, I started to know the Truth (God’s heart) and started being freed from Satan! God gave me a picture to use in class that helps depict this: So many of us, as Christians, seek the Lord in our mind and spirit, yet are not willing to let Jesus have all of our sins. So we are bound to them and we allow Satan to have control of that part of our lives. Sin isn’t just the big things like not stealing and killing, but it is anything that is within us that has control over us. That separates us from God. To me it was fear of the unknown which produced doubt and lack of trust in God. That separated me from God. I also thought food and our health had nothing to do with our faith. So I kept that separate from God. But Jesus showed me that when it says in Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength that means EVERYTHING! When I asked the Lord to change the desires of my heart he did. I started seeing things through his eyes and he started putting things into perspective. Food is necessary but it is only food. I was making into more. How I showed my love for my husband and kids…..cooking good food. It was so emotionally driven. It comforted me. That right there was my red flag. I should find comfort in the Lord and not through food. So God changed my thinking. I love Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. God showed me how he created this body with a purpose and that was to serve and honor him. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Through First Place I have learned to choose raw fruits and veggies, whole grains with no preservatives, lean meats in the proper quantities, lean dairy in the proper quantities, and healthy oils. I also started focusing on my exercise 2 years ago. I have always dreaded working out because (unless I had a ball in my hand) it is boring to me, but I pursued the Lord and asked him to change my thinking. I was encouraged by Phil 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. God reminded me not to put limits on myself with exercise. If this was truly going to be a permanent change I needed to accept that to be healthy I needed to exercise the rest of my life. Right?! So why rush it! I know we want instant results so we are gung-ho when we are motivated but when that runs out we stop. I was determined to look at exercise differently. To use it as worship to the Lord. To change my thinking and be positive. To plan ahead and just do it. NO excuses. So I began walking 3 times a week and did an aerobic tape in between days. It took me 6 months to get up to 60mins a day for 5 days a week. I continued that for a year until my body was so efficient I needed to make changes. I added strength training and started running. I have had exercise induced asthma all my life, but Jesus healed me of that! I now started to feel the benefits of exercise. Our bodies were created for exercise! We feel so much better when we do it realistically.
In weight loss plateaus are like everyday trials in life…..there is always something we need to learn in order to move forward. I have hit many plateaus in my weight loss journey. Plateaus were my opportunities to press in and pursue the Lord. To pray and ask for Him to reveal what I needed to change.
1. The first time was when I needed to start exercising.
2. Then God showed me I was trying to cheat myself and do the “Adkins/south beach diet” and eat more protein. I was convicted and He said too much of anything is bad. Too much protein still adds up to high cholesterol and high fat content (even if it’s lean) it all adds up. God was really trying to teach me contentment. If I am content with the quality and quantity of food then why do I want more? So I surrendered to the Lord and pursued him. He answered my prayers and changed my thinking. Now I started seeing the quantity of food for what it really is. We are the ones who have taught ourselves to eat such large portions. That is a lie of the enemy. This is not magic. It is simple and realistic. Our bodies were created to be given very specific and natural foods and when we get those out of proportion our bodies become unhealthy, then we start having health issues, then we take medicine which cause side effects. See the downward spiral?
3. The Lord also showed me I needed to submit my money to him. We are to be good stewards to all that He gives us and I had been holding back in that area of my life. So I pressed in and surrendered my checkbook. We have been good tythers but I knew I had been resisting a budget (and that is what causes the battle…resisting) and the Lord told me its time! So along with my husband, we started a budget. We are by no means debt free, but I can say we have been set free from guilt and the instability of doing it our own way by submitting to the Lord our money! See First Place isn’t about just weight loss…..it is about wholeness in ALL areas of our lives.
4. I plateaued again and this time it was because I was eating too many fruits and veggies. I had to get back to the basics. Again honoring the Lord with my choices pressing in and seeking the Lord….. and when I did I was released from it! I didn’t have temptations, food didn’t control me, and I started being content with it and not making it a big deal.
I believe the Lord was refining me. Doing a spiritual house cleaning. As I drew closer to the Lord he showed me areas in my life that were holding me in bondage. We must prepare ourselves and keep the house (our bodies) clean of sin when we draw closer to the Lord. Jesus also showed me in the past I was seeing his commands as strict law, religious acts, a forced hand to control his children, and a way other Christians could judge and control us by legalism……..but no! Ever since the beginning the laws and commands were given to us because God knew that when we sin it binds us and separated us from Him. Those commands were given so we can choose (out of love and honor for God) to live a life separate from sin and be free from its grasp!!!! That is one reason why Jesus died for me and you……so that we can be free from sin! Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him John 14:21. That in no way means we are perfect, but as we grow closer to the Lord we do start seeing everyday things through His eyes and begin living to please His heart.
God can use all of us to share the message of Jesus to others. As we choose to pursue the Lord and live in His freedom he will give us opportunities to share Jesus with others. And isn’t that the great commission for all of us. To go out and tell the world about Jesus. Do you know how many times I have been able to share Jesus through my physical body? They notice the physical first before anything else. Our bodies are a testimony good or bad to our faith in the Lord. I have learned that through First Place, the amazing daily Bible studies, and my personal prayer time with the Lord.
My dad told me a true story once that has stuck with me and I have used in class that I would like to share with you:
There were two college female roommates that, like most college students were skimping to get by, were invited to a party for an author celebrating his new book. They couldn’t pass up an opportunity for free food so they planned on going, but they figured they should read the new book before they went. So the one roommate started reading and was so bored she couldn’t even finish the first chapter. Well, they went to the party and the roommate ended up meeting the author that night. After some time they started dating and eventually fell in love. The roommate said to herself I probably should go back and read his book!!! So she picked it up and read it from cover to cover and couldn’t even put it down. So my question to you is……what was different…..what changed in her when she read the book the second time?
SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE AUTHOR!
Through my First Place journey my faith had grown tremendously. I have had Holy Spirit encounters in my quiet prayer time. I have been awakened at night with great dreams and visions from God. I am a tool that he uses to point others to Jesus. I desire to live in God’s presence. Once you ‘ve been there you never want to leave. Amen?! I want the anointing of God to rest on me. I want his blessings and favor. The truth and the lies are easier to see when your close to the Lord. See Satan doesn’t not hold me any longer! For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart Hebrews 4:12. It is our weapon against Satan. I learned to memorize scripture and use it! There is power in the Word! All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness 2 Tim 3:16.
One of these visions I have received from the Lord I want to share with you. I can truly say this is a Devine message for you. The Lord gave this to me one day in prayer to use in class and then has woke me up with this over and over again for you today. So God wants to share his heart to someone who needs to hear from him today.
One word came to me….”GIFT” then as I started writing the message the Lord gave me the words.
For example purposes I am going to use a crystal vase as our “gift” but I want you to close your eyes and think of the most amazing gift you have ever been given. To some it will be from your husband or wife, others from your mom, dad, sister, friend. Now open your eyes. To many of us our gifts are special because it was given out of love, right. So the gift isn’t as important as the giver. Well, for my example I chose this vase because it is beautiful. It is not my most special gift but it will work well for this example. It was given to my husband and I for our wedding. It gets put up and is not used because with little kids around …..you know……you don’t want it broken. But in the eyes of Christ is this important? No! But lets change our thinking.. Lets say…God himself came to visit you . Now lets stop right there…are you grasping what that means….the Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, Our Father, The beginning and the end, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, came down to visit you we would be in great honor and probably flat on our face! Amen! Lets keep going….If God came to you and said “I want to give you this gift because of my great love for you” Wow God himself wants to give you this vase….how much love and honor would you feel? You would be blown away! There would be no greater gift than one from the Lord. Then he said “ I want you to take care of this gift to show your love and honor to me, keep it clean inside and out”. Oh, yes! Boy you would put this gift in a place of honor and he would keep it shiny and clean ….not because you HAVE TO but because …..YOU WANT TO!
Now lets change our thinking…..God did come and give each one of us a gift! Our BODIES! We are the gift! Father God the creator of heaven and earth, who breathed life into you, who knit you together in our mother’s womb, we are fear fully and wonderfully made! Lets think about that for a moment. God created us from small cells, with very specific functions, that grew perfectly into this body we now have. Lets think about this creation. Every cell has a purpose, it works perfectly together in unity with the other cells. Look at our organs how they have specific functions, our circulation systems, I mean how can you not believe you are made by God. We are his craftsmenship! He loves us. He has great plans for us. No matter your upbringing, or what has been done to you …..you are precious to him. He loves us so much that he sent his ONLY, PERFECT, SINLESS son to die so we can know God. God sent Jesus for us!!!!! Come ……on …..that ……..is ………..love!! Your bodies are a gift from God. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 again...... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.
Now remember the vase, what did God tell you to do with the vase to love and honor him? Keep it clean from the inside out….right?! So what does that mean?
1. Mentally: The Bible says we should have the mind of Christ. We need to pursue the Lord, fill our minds with Him. Read and study the scripture. Let me ask you this.....would you go to a doctor who never went to medical school? Of course not, ridiculous right? So when we say we are “Christians” we should know the Bible. Draw close to him. Spend more time in prayer and quiet time with God. Memorize the Word. Fill our mind with things that are: true, right, holy, pure, excellent, and praiseworthy like the scripture says. We need to renew your mind. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ 2 Cor 10:5. What are you filling your mind with today?? Does it honor him? Are you seeking him because you have to or because you want to?
2. Eyes: what are you allowing your eyes to see? In books, TV, computer, video games?? Does it honor Jesus?
3. Mouth: Do we speak life or death with our words? Are we loving and encouraging each other? Are we thanking and praising God for who he is and all that he has done for us? Do we honor God with our food? Do we take care of this “gift” he has given us?
4. Body: Do we exercise our bodies? Do you know Jesus walked 60miles in one day? And we say we are striving the be Christ-like. We were created for physical work. If we truly want to serve the Lord all of our lives….how long do you think that might be? Lets come into agreement with the Lord and know that these bodies were created with a purpose in order to serve Him fully! Lets stop being bound by sin and start making changes to show our love and honor to God!
How do we do that? Confess your sins, those things you are hanging on to that bind you. Repent, turn from your old ways, we are a new creation the old has gone and the new has come. Walk it out. Pursue. Focus. Pray that the Lord will change your desires. Seek His Will for your life. Jesus Christ has come so we can be free. Don’t waist this precious gift he has given you because God doesn’t create junk! Amen?!