Have you struggled to feel God’s presence, especially during this challenging time? Did you once have strong feelings of love toward Him, only to have them wane?
Then today’s video is for you!
First, remember. Second, repent. Third, return.
For me, first deeds: Bible reading Scripture memorization Christian fellowship – lots of it – what should this look like now? Healing – counseling, conferences, books, resources Willingness to be open to different things Worship ie singing – privately and corporately Songwriting (the original song I mentioned) Prayer
Some months ago, I began this journey that I call “breaking up with food.” I blogged for over 40 days straight, and then I stopped. It’s not that I’ve stopped the journey; I guess I got frustrated with myself that I wasn’t already fixed after 40 days and just didn’t want to talk about it anymore! I mean, who wants to talk about their failures publicly online?
Plus, I’m “learning to walk in freedom” lady. I’m supposed to have all things figured out right now today for all eternity. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that mentality is even before I “say it out loud,” so to speak. But that’s how I treat myself a lot of the time.
I remember sharing at a conference shortly after my book was published. A friend later quoted me, laughing, because I said I never felt less free than while I was writing this book on my journey of learning to walk in freedom. He felt the same way when he was writing his own book on a different topic.
I think there’s two reasons for that: the first one is Satan. When you step out in faith and write a book or blog post or song or sermon, the enemy of our souls will try and tell us we are not walking the walk; we’re just talking to talk. And nobody wants to be a hypocrite. The devil will start putting his finger on things in our life that “prove” this.
But there’s another reason. And that’s God. God wants to know that we are going to trust Him and that He called us to write that book or blog post or song or sermon even if our feelings and/or the enemy of our souls try and tell us a different story.
Why did I say all that? Because a week and a half ago, while staying in a hotel, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror before I got in the shower. Now you’re wondering where I’m going with this, but I promise. I will keep my description rated G. And I had this thought popped into my head: God doesn’t care if you’re fat.
God doesn’t care if I’m fat. I care a lot – actually way way way too much. Well, there’s a couple of problems with this. I basically think I’m fat no matter what I actually weigh. And yes, right now I am about 20 pounds overweight according to flawed science of BMI. But, when I weighed 40-45 pounds less than this, I still thought I needed to lose weight. And I definitely did not.
As I drove to pick up my breakfast after completing my shower and getting dressed, I said to the Lord, “What do You mean, God? What do You mean that You don’t care if I’m fat?”
And He replied, again, in that still small voice: “I don’t care if you’re fat. I care if you’re obedient.”
Hmm. I think weight loss should be a direct result of my obedience as it pertains to food. But what if it’s not? God is saying that the most important thing is that I obeyed.
Will I obey him even if I never see a change on the scale? Honestly, obedience in the area of food for me is very difficult, and so I want to tell God, “No, I won’t obey no matter what because I deserve a reward for my hard work!” But again, I realize how ridiculous that is, and so today, I say “Yes.”
Yes, Lord, I will obey You in the area of food, even if I always see myself as fat. Even if the scale doesn’t budge. In fact, I took my batteries out of my scale at home because this journey of breaking up with food is also about breaking up with the number on the scale. I will still weigh in periodically outside of my home, but obedience is better than sacrifice, or in this case, weight loss. And as I said in the song I wrote a couple of months ago: I’ll get up today. I will choose to obey because there’s no other way. There’s no other way.
Some days, you sit down to read the Bible out of habit – because it’s what you do every day. You don’t expect anything particularly special to happen. Maybe you don’t even think to pray before you read.
And some days you’re surprised at the strength of your own reaction.
Numbers 12 was up next in my reading. I usually read anywhere from 1 to 4 chapters, depending on how much time I have and whether I stop to study something. After completing 1 chapter, Numbers 13 begins with the following verses:
The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
And I stopped. To say I hesitated would be a major understatement. I felt as if I really couldn’t go on.
I just didn’t want to hear this story again.
I didn’t want to hear about the failure of the 10 spies.
I didn’t want to then read about another 40 years in the wilderness.
I didn’t want to see them wander around the same mountain, complain about the same things – and long for the slavery of Egypt.
I didn’t want to face these things because I knew I would see myself in the story.
Which part of it all gives me pause? Is it the 10 spies who couldn’t, really wouldn’t, look past the challenges long enough to remember what God had already done? Am I so blinded by my own perceived giants that I can’t remember God’s power and faithfulness? Am I so focused on what I know happens next because I, like the Israelites, look back longingly at all the food I had to eat and how, at times, life seemed so much easier, completely ignoring the fact that I was also in slavery?
Do I struggle to even imagine a world where I can instead be like Caleb and Joshua, to be able to look right past the challenges because I know exactly what God is capable of? To be able to state emphatically as Caleb did, “Let us go up at once and possess it for we are well able to conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30).
Because honestly, a lot of the time, when I look at the big struggles in my life like my battle to break up with food, it’s hard for me to envision the Promised Land. It’s near impossible for me to imagine myself moving past this Romans 7 existence (where I continually do what I don’t want to do) and into Romans 8 victory (where I am walking in freedom).
Am I afraid of what the Promised Land might bring?
Only Jesus knows me well enough to answer that.
Jesus, I submit myself to You – over and over and over and over. I am Yours. I do what I don’t want to do, and yet I know I am free from condemnation. Help me to not be afraid of the Promised Land and the battle that is required of me in order to walk into that place of freedom and victory. Because I know Who wins in the end. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
You have a desire, an overwhelming desire, to be near Your people, to draw close to those created in Your image – You want to live among them.
You tell Moses, the leader of the people, about this desire.
You have a vision for this dwelling place – a very specific picture of what this Tabernacle will look like. Finally, Your dream of this home of Yours is coming to pass, and I imagine Your eyes lighting up as You pour out Your vision, Your passion, Your very heart. One can tell by the details this isn’t something You just threw together; it’s been stirring within You for some time.
The attributes of this place, the elements and pieces are so particular that what You share takes up 7 chapters of our current Bible. You tell Moses from the beginning of Your words to ask the people to bring various materials to help as an offering – just those who want to. Materials such as specific types of cloths, certain animal skins and hair, spices and stones, and gold. Lots of gold.
It takes 40 days spent with Moses to pour out Your heart to him, during which time You also shared 10 important directions with him:
“Then, as God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written with the finger of God.” Exodus 31:18
Moses is then ready to descend down the mountain and share God’s vision with the people.
What should have transitioned into a time of worship and giving after Moses shared the instructions for Your dwelling place turned into something very, very different. After Moses was gone for so long, the people panicked.
“When Moses didn’t come back down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron. ‘Look,’ they said, ‘make us a god to lead us, for this fellow Moses who brought us here from Egypt has disappeared; something must have happened to him.’” Exodus 32:1
Aaron did not seem to hesitate for even a moment before asking for their earrings to create a golden calf to “worship.”
Oh, God, how Your heart must have broken when the gold meant for Your House, the place that would allow You to always be near those You love, was instead used to break one of Your precious laws, the very commandments You wrote with Your own finger.
How my own heart broke as I read this today! Oh, how recklessly I have used my own “gold” to fashion false gods. My gifts, my time, my heart, my own running to other gods when God seemed distant. How quick I have been to use my gold meant for God however I see fit. Lord, help me to have a soft, teachable, obedient heart before You, that my “gold” would be for You and Your glory alone!
Rough weekend, food-wise. I need to plan better. And the pizza place needs to stop emailing me gluten-free pizza deals!
Today has been good, though I am a bit headache-y and low energy. And a little “blah” emotionally.
I finished 2 Corinthians yesterday and didn’t know what to read today. Then I couldn’t find my reading glasses. I could still read on the computer, but I hate to do that. Finally found some reading glasses and decided to just go back to the beginning.
So I read Genesis 1.
I feel gross after not-great choices this weekend and need to remember this feeling. Not as a punishment or with condemnation, but as a reminder. I’m dragging physically and spiritually today because of it.
are hard. I work very early in the morning (6 AM arrival) and don’t feel as if
getting up an extra 30 minutes earlier will be beneficial. After work, I
grocery shop, come home, have lunch and then I’m exhausted! So getting my Bible
reading, etc. in is difficult.
I switched my material for daily reading today. I had been reading the book called “Sugar Fast.” Even though I am not fasting from sugar, I found it extremely helpful and relevant. Since it’s been 40 days, the book is finished! I’ve moved on to the classic, “My Utmost for His Highest.”
today’s reading in 2 Corinthians 11:1-3
“I hope you will be patient with me as I keep on talking like a fool. Do bear with me and let me say what is on my heart.I am anxious for you with the deep concern of God himself—anxious that your love should be for Christ alone, just as a pure maiden saves her love for one man only, for the one who will be her husband. But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden.”
The middle of this passage
especially struck me. I want my love for Christ, my longing for Him alone, my
heart’s devotion for my Savior to be as pure as a virgin waiting for her
husband on her wedding night. As Leeland sang, “He’s coming for a pure bride.”
Eve was deceived not only by Satan but by the beauty of the fruit itself.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Genesis 3:6
I don’t want to be swept up in the beauty and allure of food calling my name. I
want to swept up in awe for my Savior who gave His everything for me, who
spared no expense, who held nothing back.
my beautiful Lord Jesus, food calls my name loudly and often. It’s almost
impossible to hear Your still small voice. Tune my heart to listen, Lord. I
turn my eyes to You. You will win my heart.
years ago, I read in Scripture for the first time that God is a jealous God, an
all-consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). I don’t know if I came up with this or I read
it somewhere (a quick Google search turned up nothing), but I imagined fire
doors. You know those big heavy doors in buildings? The ones that have a sign “Must
remain shut”? The think, heavy doors would contain a fire to a room and not
allow it to go any further?
imagined that parts of my life were behind fire doors, that there were areas I
wasn’t sure I wanted to let in to now that I knew He was this all-consuming
think of the Misty Edwards song:
All consuming fire You’re our hearts desire Living flame of love Come baptize us Come baptize us
days ago, I let God into an area of my life where He’s been before. I would
crack the door open a little with my prayers of “I don’t want to struggle with
this any longer!” but I would eventually slam the door shut again, thus
shutting out the fire. This time, I have tried to prop the doors open to God.
That’s one reason I decided to share so publicly about it.
Today’s Bible reading contained one of my favorite passages of Scripture:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NASB)
40 days, though I am walking in my fleshly body, I have been fighting a new
battle. I’ve called it “breaking up with food,” for lack of a better phrase. I’m
not warring against my physical body. This is a spiritual battle. It’s a battle
for my heart.
quoted it before, and I will quote it again:
You’re after my heart and You’re gonna win it You’re after my heart and I’m gonna give it And every piece, and every part You’re after it all, oh, You’re after my heart
days I give Him all of my heart, and some days I only crack open the doors. But
no matter what, He will win it, every piece and every part.
last night’s song, I was inspired to talk about the following verse for
tomorrow’s “Coffee with Brenna” (it posts at 6 AM on Fridays):
“You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
In reading a commentary, I
found I love what it says in the KJV: “thou shalt compass me about
with songs of deliverance.”
famous song goes on to say, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
is why choosing to trust is in my daily checklist. God is so faithful to us.
Even when we don’t understand, even when we are terrified, God protects us from
trouble. And as if that wasn’t enough, He then goes on to surround me with
songs of victory and deliverance.
You, Jesus, for being so present in this journey. I’ve done it imperfectly, but
You have remained steadfast the whole time. May I continue to choose You above
all else in days to come.
day – not in terms of breaking up with food but a friend losing her adult son
song has been on my heart for a few days and it seems especially appropriate
Hide me in the shelter of Your love Deep in the center of Your heart, my Lord How I want to know You more And keep me in the shadow of Your wings Safe in the secret place of holiness How I need You more and more
I listened to this book several years ago, as many of the guys in the ministry I lead recommend it. We just read it in one of our groups, and so I read the updated version.
I’ll start with the positive. Wesley Hill is extremely honest! If you’re looking for a book where your feelings of loneliness and intense struggle are validated, look no further! I think one of the reasons so many people like this book (David Bennett mentions it in his book) is the brutal honesty and vulnerability with which Hill writes.
By the way, Wesley if you read this review, 2 of my cousins and 1 of their husbands go to seminary where you teach 🙂
Each chapter reads like a long psalm of lament. Hill shares transparently about many of his struggles! He eventually comes around to the hope that Christ has to offer believers who seek to walk in obedience as it pertains to their same-sex attraction.
Hill is absolutely spot on concerning one thing: the life of those who are same-sex attracted can be very, very lonely. One of the things I appreciate the most about this book is his talk about community and how the church needs to rise up and surround those who are living celibate lives in the midst of their struggles with sexuality. I think the church likes to pat people like Hill on the back and say, “Good for you for walking in obedience” and leave it at that.
The antidote to this is to be part of intentional community, whatever that might look like for each individual. What the same-sex attracted or gay celibate Christian really needs is the church to surround them and invite them into their daily lives. I’m not talking about just having someone in your small group; I’m talking about having them over for Sunday dinner and maybe Monday dinner and Tuesday dinner as well. I have a friend who is same-sex attracted, and she lives with a family. I think that’s an awesome idea! I see from Wesley Hills’ Instagram that he is a godfather. Fantastic! This is exactly how the church should be being intentional about including all single people in everyday life.
All that said, I found the book to be rather depressing. OK, really depressing. I will say as someone who struggles with hopelessness, it was difficult for me to get past the depths of despair that Hill describes. He also (like many others his age) does not seem to believe that transformation is possible in his sexuality (which I expected). But I see a couple other reasons the book felt depressing to me:
The first thing I see is that Hill seems to buy into what Russell Willingham refers to as “romantic orthodoxy.” Willingham defines this as a belief that “romance or sex will meet my deepest needs.” Hill eventually comes around to the truth that only Jesus can meet these needs in all of us, but it seems clear to me in how he views marriage and romantic relationships and how often he comes back to this belief that this is truly a core belief he holds (you can read more about core beliefs in Willingham’s book or in my book Learning to Walk in Freedom).
The second thing I see is that Hill seems to believe same-sex attracted Christians are uniquely lonely. Loneliness is a core theme throughout the book. Hill seems to fail to recognize that many opposite-sex attracted Christians never find a spouse (I can think of many in my circle of friends), that some Christians are stuck in unhealthy marriages that (I believe) are likely far more lonely than singleness, and that many others are lonely for a whole host of reasons.
All that said, I can absolutely see why this book is a good starting point for many same-sex attracted and gay Christians. That said, I feel “The War of Loves” by David Bennett or “Born Again This Way” are better reads in this genre of books in the category of same-sex attraction being a fixed orientation/books that lean away from transformation being possible.
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