Chapter 17 Reflection Questions
If you had been in the room with the three pastors Lysa describes at the beginning of the chapter, how would you have answered the question, “Is discipline really sustainable?”
Ultimate discipline is the GOAL. Yes, perfection in discipline is hard to sustain, but the mindset of discipline is sustainable. It is part of the sanctification process.
Galatians 2:17-21 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
1 Corinthians 6:11-20 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Yes, sanctification is a process. Discipline is part of that process. With the help of the Holy Spirit, it is sustainable. When we lose our focus, we fall away from that disciplined routine and struggle to get back up. So, “turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Lysa points out the crucial connection between holiness—being set aside for a noble use—and daily disciplines with food (page 168). How do you understand the relationship between your food choices and your ability to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)?
I am still working on that connection, I guess. I have known how true this statement is in terms of sin in general, especially for sexual sin. When I view my overeating as a sin, though, this statement Lysa shares makes complete sense. I am eating in abundance out of fear, out of boredom, out of distraction. Fear that we won’t have money to buy more food, so I better enjoy it now. (lie from Satan. God is our provider, and He cares for us!) Boredom because I am not getting up to exercise, walk, play, work…Distraction because I am still watching Murder She Wrote (Season 9 now….).
“The very next choice we make isn’t really about the food…It’s about whether or not we’re positioning ourselves to live the kind of God-honoring lives in which, by God’s strength, sustained discipline is possible” (page 170). Does this idea encourage you or frighten you? Why?
This choice is empowering in that every choice we make has ripple effects to our walk with God, our relationships with others, our opportunities to witness. In our weakest of moments, God’s strength empowers us to be victorious so that HE may be glorified. If and when we fall to the temptations around us, God’s grace abounds. Not that we should go on sinning and falling intentionally, but we should be striving to grow, to turn toward God in faith that He will provide that way of escape.
Romans 6: Dead to Sin, Alive to God
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Take a moment to reread Lysa’s “Unsettle Me” prayer (pages 171-172). Is it a prayer you feel you are ready to pray for yourself? What fears would you have about praying this prayer? What excites you about the possibilities of this prayer for your life?
“I dare you, dear soul of mine, to notice the stark evidence of a spirit that is tainted and a heart that must be placed under the microscope of God’s Word…Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow your touch to reach the deepest parts of me—dark and dingy and hidden away too long—suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul.”
I have prayed prayers similar to this. One thing I have come to understand is that we are not made to be “comfortable,” but to be stretched to a place where we must rely on the Lord. Whether that is in giving of our time, our money, our things, moving across town, across the state, across the country, or around the world, whether that is in inviting people into your home or bringing a meal to someone who is hurting, God seems to ask of us what we never thought we would be capable to do.
It is scary to pray these kinds of prayers, because we never know how God will respond! Am I ready to receive the call He has for me? Am I ready to act upon that call? So, to follow this prayer, I pray for the Holy Spirit to equip me, to be my strength, because I am weak. I truly am. In all of this, my prayer is always for God to be glorified.
“One wise choice can lead to two, can lead to three, can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline” (page 175). Do you esteem your small, daily food choices or do you tend to feel they don’t really matter all that much? How might your life be different if you could achieve utter dependence on God and lasting discipline? What benefits would you most enjoy experiencing?
I am finding myself getting hung up on the “big picture” of this struggle I have with food. There are so many foods that should be “off limits” to my taste buds! So, I am going day by day. I am planning to enjoy my fruits and vegetables, my crockpot meals, my baked tilapia, my occasional pasta meals; and I am planning to enjoy the occasional cupcake, a girl scout cookie, a mini-candy bar. I love Peter’s vision in Acts 10 about the sheet of food that comes down from the heavens. Here it is, from the NLT: “The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.” Nothing is truly off-limits then. No person is off-limits either, right? The Gospel is for all of us, regardless of background. And food is to be enjoyed. Of course, we encounter people who are not safe, who are abusive, who are dangerous, who tempt us. And we encounter food that is not beneficial in different forms: like food that are common allergens or have lots of sugars, bad fats, high calories, high-glycemic index, etc. So, I return to the question, “Yes, this is permissible, but is it beneficial?” Yes, I am to love my enemies and my neighbors, and myself. Sometimes, loving ourselves means setting boundaries around ourselves to be protected from harm. These harmful elements in our lives can be people, things, foods, beverages, addictions of any kind.
I need to pray about these boundaries that need to be set. I want to glorify the Lord in how I interact with others and in what goes into my body, His temple. The discipline that develops through this practice of specific prayer and preparing this temple God has given me, I know I will love the opportunity to give Him the glory!