When You Do the Exact Opposite of What You Want to Do

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Last week, we kicked off Fight and it was an incredible first week to our man series. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

This week, we will once again look at the life of Samson and see from Judges 14:1 – 10 why we often do the exact opposite of what we want to do and why that is. Why many struggle to let go of negative emotions, why we fail to beat addictions and sins and why so many of us feel chained to something that controls us.

On a weekly basis I will have heartbreaking conversation after conversation that goes like this:

  • I can’t stop buying things I can’t afford.
  • I can’t stop eating.
  • I can’t stop looking in the mirror.
  • I can’t stop thinking about that woman or man.
  • I can’t stop looking at porn.
  • I can’t stop getting angry.
  • I can’t stop being not trusting people.
  • I can’t stop trusting people too soon.
  • I can’t be alone.
  • I can’t let go of that person.
  • I can’t stop hating that person.
  • I can’t trust my spouse.
  • I can’t give myself to my spouse.
  • I can’t stop sleeping with my boyfriend.

At the end, they will look at me (often with tears in their eyes) and say, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be free from this?”

That’s what we’ll answer this week.

If you or someone you know struggles with a sin, addiction, temptation or being able to live a free life, this is a great week to bring them to Revolution (seriously, how we are ending the service is going to be so powerful you don’t want to miss it).

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

 
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Food, Weight, The Gospel and Stop Being the Victim

If you are addicted to food, overweight or struggling with an eating disorder the good news is that you are not alone. While it may feel that way, in fact, if you attend church it can feel incredibly lonely. You wonder how many other people struggle with it. It has become the sin that we don’t talk about. Make not mistake, it is a sin because we hope to find wholeness, completeness, fulfillment and happiness in food, eating too much, eating too little or working out.

Who Temptations Hurt

We often think of ourselves as the victims when wrestling with temptations. We rationalize why we do what we do. I don’t trust people because my dad broke promises to me. I don’t take charge in my life because my mother always dominated my life so I’ve just learned to sit back and wait for it to be taken care of. I buy things so that I’ll feel like I belong with my neighbor or good friend. I eat like I do because it makes me feel better after a long day.

Our addictions and temptations often start as someone else’s fault. This is why it is so easy for us to live with the addictions and think, “This is just who I am. I can’t do anything about it.” I’m just the guy who gets angry. I’m just the girl who can’t keep her mouth shut. I just need to have the newest gadget.

You may believe that you are overweight because of something your parents did, how they raised you, or what someone said to you in high school. We play this record over and over in our heads. We use those words as reasons to keep us from dealing with what lies underneath.

When we sin, we hurt. We feel guilty, we feel distance from friends and family, but ultimately, we feel distance from God. Our scope when it comes to sin and temptation is almost exclusively bent towards us.

Do You Really Hate Sin?

One of the problems in our culture is that most of us don’t have a biblical view of sin. We talk about sin as guilty pleasures or vices. Many in our culture believe sin is something made up by Christians to make us feel guilty. Many of us approach sin as if it’s something we can live with, something that is true of everyone. So what’s the big deal?

While sin is true of everyone (Romans 3:23), we are told in Scripture that sin is death (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1) and sin is committing adultery against God (James 4:4).

When you sin, do you have that view? When you gossip, are stingy, look at porn, or eat too much, do you think, I am cheating on God?

Scripture teaches this because when we sin, we are living outside the way God designed life to be lived. We are choosing our way over God. In that moment, we believe that sin will be more gratifying and more fulfilling than God.

When it comes to food, eating too much or seeing food as a crutch, the church is silent on whether this is a sin. This allows many to continue living without a worry. It is also why we don’t see food as a spiritual issue – only a health issue.

Lies we Believe 

Tim Keller said, “Every time we sin, we believe a lie.” In that moment of sin, we believe that it will be more gratifying, more enjoyable, more fulfilling than the life Jesus has promised us. When Jesus came to earth, he promised (John 10:10) that He came to give life – life to the fullest. This life is beyond what we can dream or imagine. A life many of us only hope is true. When we sin, we believe this life is not possible for us and that we can find life on our own.

If we’re honest, sin, in the moment we commit it, feels fulfilling. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t do it. When you eat, it feels good, it brings you comfort, and it is a friend in your loneliness. This is why many of us eat like we do. Then something happens after we eat. You know the feeling. The guilt and shame that quickly follow is a different story.

The lie many believe is that they can’t persevere. Often we give into temptation before it even comes. We are defeated people, broken down by life, hopeless to withstand any temptation or trial. We simply acquiesce that we will always be overweight. We shrug our shoulders and eat another scoop of ice cream. I’ll always be the overweight girl that is excluded. I’ll always be the last picked for the game.

Another lie we often believe is that our sin or temptation is not our fault. Maybe you are like me and blame your weight on your upbringing and how your parents didn’t teach you good eating habits. Maybe it is God’s fault that you can’t have the metabolism of a 14-year-old now that you are 35. I don’t know why God created people who could eat Taco Bell 4 times a day and lose a pound in the process when I feel like I gain a pound every time I smell McDonald’s. We rationalize that we aren’t the most sinful person we know. In fact, if you made a list of the 10 most sinful people you know, my guess is that you wouldn’t be on it.

This gets at the fundamental question that gets debated in our culture, “Are people basically good or bad?” According to Scripture, we are sinful and broken. We sin out of our desires. You might be thinking, “I sin because of what happened to me.” On the surface, this may be true, but underneath it is another level that maybe you sin out of protection, to not let people see your brokenness, or have to deal with the brokenness and hurt in your life.

God and our Bodies

When I was at my heaviest, I had a conversation with my brother-in-law that proved to be a life altering conversation. We were at Starbucks and he asked me, “How can you challenge people in sermons to have self-control when you don’t have any in the area of food?”

The reality of being overweight in the Christian community is that until you have a heart attack or some other health issue, no one will say anything to you. It isn’t seen as a sin, so what’s the point of saying anything? If you choose to be overweight, it’s your choice.

Back to Temptation

We’ve all had that conversation with someone we love who has been hurt by our addictions. We utter these hopeful words that often feel empty, “This is the last time.”

Why do they feel empty?

These words are brimming with the opportunity of freedom. But they are empty because they are overused. Men addicted to porn swear to their wives they will never do it again. They will get accountability and this time it will be different. After a mother screams at her children, she tells them she won’t do it again. On the verge of bankruptcy, we tell our loved ones that this is the last time we will spend more than we make. We will stop buying things. We will stop drinking. Stop gambling. Stop gossiping. Stop eating too much.

This is the year that I’ll lose weight. How many times have you uttered those fateful words? How many Januarys have you said or written down, “This is the year I will get healthy?”

The personal issue my brother-in-law pointed out is that pastors are unhealthy and many of them are overweight. Ouch. A 2001 Pulpit and Pew study of 2,500 clergy found that 76% were overweight or obese compared to 61% of the general population at the time of the study. For many, it has to do with a lack of controlling their schedules when it comes to their sleep and exercise habits along with making poor choices at their lunch meetings or laziness.

I think the larger issue for people who say they believe in God is that we compartmentalize the gospel to the point that it is strong enough to save us for eternity, but not transform our eating habits or body image issues.

It’s not just pastors who are overweight. The problem has moved into the pews. A 2006 Purdue study found that fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate compared with Jews at 1%, and Buddhists and Hindus at 0.7%. This study prompted the lead researcher, Ken Ferraro, to say, “America is becoming a nation of gluttony and obesity and churches are a feeding ground for this problem.”

Similarly, a 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a Bible study once a week are 50% more likely to be obese. The Pawtucket Heart Health Program found that people who attended church were more likely than non-church members to be 20 percent overweight and have higher cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.

There are a few reasons for this reality. One reason is that churches don’t talk about food as an addiction, the need for exercise, or body image issues. It can be awkward. I didn’t realize this until I lost all my weight. I remember standing on stage talking about this, weighing in at 170 pounds, and looking out at my church. I saw some people who were overweight; some were very obviously overweight, while others just slightly. Whenever you bring up weight, body image issues or food as an addiction, immediately everyone thinks you are talking about them. While you are speaking to them, it is beyond each individual, and leaders must see it as a larger issue as well. It isn’t that we as pastors want to shame anyone in our church or any leader wants to bring guilt on someone who works for them. But we know they will feel so much better about themselves and their life if they can gain the freedom that Jesus offers in this area. We want them to experience the life Jesus promised. Too often, we interpret the life described in John 10:10 is simply about heaven. This life, an abundant life, is also about the pace we keep, what we put into our bodies and how we think about our bodies.

A second reason this isn’t talked about has to do with the leaders of churches in America. You can’t preach about something you don’t believe or don’t live out. You can’t talk about believing in the life Jesus promises when it comes to weight and body image issues while eating the way we do at the church potluck. You can’t challenge your church to have self-control in areas you struggle to have self-control in.

The last reason this isn’t discussed in churches and why pastors and those who sit in our churches every week are unhealthier than the culture around them is we don’t believe that Jesus is better than food, work, and our pace in life. Since we don’t believe it there is no sense in living it. For many who attend church, the gospel is simply how one gets to heaven and how we spend eternity. Yet, the gospel, the truth of Jesus, is so much bigger and impacts the here and now of our lives. Until this changes, we won’t see how the gospel can free us from food as an idol or an addiction. In short, we won’t be able to see the glory of how God created us in his image and why this is an amazing truth.

Fighting Temptation

All of us have things we wish we didn’t do. Maybe it is something small that doesn’t seem like a big deal, or it might be something that if discovered could destroy your world. It might be that you can’t stop talking about other people, you can’t stop eating, maybe you have to buy something every week and now have a closet full of clothes you don’t use, or maybe you can’t go a day without looking at porn.

Whatever it is, we all fight temptations.

What if there is a way out? What if there was a way to be free of falling into temptation? What if you could really fight temptation?

That’s what we will talk about this week as we continue our series in the book of James from 1:12 – 18.

I think this week has the potential to really bring freedom to a lot of lives.

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St.

See you Saturday.

 

Next Series @ Revolution: Give. Me. Faith.

We just wrapped up our series on Philippians last night at Revolution. We will be doing some stand alone messages on December 24th and January 1st, but then we will kick off a brand new series on January 8th on the book of James.

Faith is a question that we wrestle with.

Is it a list of beliefs? Is it how we live? Is it both? We talk about having faith in God or people or ourselves. But is faith simply just in our heads? Is it something we can know for sure about?

For many of us, life right now seems like it is out of control and it is taking all the faith we can muster to make it through the day.

As we walk through the book of James this spring as a church, we will begin to see a God who provides for us, who loves us, and who empowers us to have the faith we need to make it through each day.

  • January 8: The Storms of Life (James 1:1 – 4)
  • January 15: Doubt (James 1:5 – 8)
  • January 22: Pursuits (James 1:9 – 11)
  • January 29: Fighting Temptation (James 1:12 – 18)
  • February 5: Going Through the Motions (James 1:19 – 25)
  • February 12: Loving the Overlooked (James 1:26 – 27)
  • February 19: Playing Favorites (James 2:1 – 13)
  • February 26: In Search of Authentic Faith (James 2:14 – 26)
  • March 5: How to Hold Your Tongue (James 3:1 – 12)
  • March 12: Where Wisdom Comes From (James 3:13 – 18)
  • March 19: To Change the World (James 4:1 – 10)
  • March 26: The Myth of Tomorrow (James 4:11 – 17)
  • April 2: How to be Rich (James 5:1 – 6)
  • April 9: The Point of Suffering (James 5:7 – 11)
  • April 16: Does Prayer Really Work? (James 5:12 – 20)

God is Bigger than my Sinful Desires

“Temptation comes in two forms. One, sin seems attractive. Two, sin seems inevitable. We feel like we can’t do anything about it. We feel trapped. And so we give in to sin. That’s certainly true in my experience. I say no to temptation, but the temptation keeps coming back. In the end it no longer seems a question of whether I’ll give in, but when. But this is a lie. Sin isn’t inevitable for a child of God. We’ve been set free from its power. I need to believe the truth that God is bigger than my sinful desires. I need faith in God’s power if I’m to repent of my sin.” – Tim Chester, You Can Change

Something Can Only Die from the Inside Out

A funny thing about life, leadership and leading a church is that opposition is inevitable. What is even more interesting is that opposition, while inevitable, won’t kill you. It won’t destroy your marriage, your life, your family or your church.

The only thing that can destroy you is you. The only thing that can destroy a marriage is the two people in a marriage. The only thing that can destroy a church are the people in the church.

When faced with opposition, temptation to quit or to sin, we have to decide to give in to that. We can fight or we can throw in the towel. Many marriages end, people quit dreams, churches split or close for a variety of reasons, but the final reason is always: they decided to give in.

Is that a generalization? Yes. Is that simlistic? Yes. But it doesn’t make it any less true.

I believe that life, marriage, family, dreams, church, leadership are hard. But not impossible. The greater your dream/vision, the greater the opposition and the harder the road. Staying married is harder than getting divorced. Raising kids is hard. Having integrity is hard.

Remember, no opposition can take you, your marriage, your family or your church down unless you let it. Things can only implode from the inside out.