Posts Tagged ‘psalm 139’

God made my vagina and he made yours, too (unless you have a penis. In that case, God made your penis).

God made my vagina and he made yours, <a href=information pills too (unless you have a penis. In that case, apoplexy God made your penis).” width=”620″ height=”620″ />

Why is it that I felt really uncomfortable writing vagina and penis in the title of my blog post?

Why do I feel like I just swore?

Why am I worried about someone seeing what I just titled this blog post?

If the very name of a body part is enough to make many of us feel dirty, recipe how does that body part itself make us feel? I submit to you that our American culture, and largely our American Christian culture, has distorted our views on our bodies and made us uncomfortable with one of God’s greatest gift to us.

I’m guessing a lot of Christians live life with the feeling (either subconscious or recognized) that their bodies are sinful, especially those body parts that are used for, you know, sex. I think this is probably especially prevalent for women in the church who are constantly told to be modest so as not to “be a stumbling block to their brothers.” I think one of the unintended results of modesty culture is that women have lost ownership of their own bodies because the very existence of our bodies is enough to cause any man we encounter to fall away from Christ. And this leads to a lot of shame.

The reality is that my entire body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives and reigns in me, and so my body is to be celebrated and honored. And yet I’ve never been taught that my breasts are part of this beautiful Holy-Spirit filled temple. What I learned in youth group are that my breasts lead guys to sin. If I am taught to view my breasts as objects of sin and lust, how am I supposed to celebrate them and thank God for them? Whether or not it was the intention, I spent several years viewing my breasts as a source of shame.

I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say vagina in a church or youth group setting. In a church setting I’m allowed to say “thank you, God, for creating my nose like you did. I’m thankful for my nose,” but somehow it would be inappropriate to thank God for creating my vagina? Or to even allude to the fact that I own a vagina? Is it a stumbling block to make people think I have a vagina???

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says this:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.

How am I supposed to honor God with my body if I think my body is inherently bad? How am I supposed to glorify God with something sinful? How can I thank Him for a body that is a source of shame?

The reality is that Jesus “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). He became flesh. Jesus has a body. Jesus’ body is a part of his identity. And you know what? I’m guessing that Jesus has a penis. Does that freak you out?

I’ve been taking refuge in Psalm 139 for the past few months and I love the reality that is shared in this beautiful song:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed body.

God made your body. He made my body. He knit me together. His eyes were the first to ever see me, His hand was the first to ever caress me, His presence was the first I ever felt. If the morning stars sang together and the angels shouted for joy when God created the earth (Job 38:7), I don’t think it’s far-fetched to imagine that the Lord sang over me when He created me. And just as the Lord was a part of the formation of my lungs, heart, arms, and legs, I have to believe that He took part in creating my breasts and my vagina.

Why do I care what you think about your body parts?

I care because I truly believe that our bodies are to be celebrated. I believe that a core teaching of Christianity is that our bodies are important and that our entire being is created by a loving God for the glory of a loving God. If we feel shame surrounding our bodies, we’re going to feel shame about who we are, because we can’t separate body and spirit–they’re intertwined in a really beautiful way. By living in bodies, we are imitating the beauty of Christ as He lived and moved and had his being here on earth in a tangible, touchable, body.

If you want to learn how to better honor and love your body, a really great exercise you can do is thank God for every part of your body, and name them one by one, without skipping any parts. And if this makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably a good indication that it’s something you should really do.

So God, I thank you for creating me, every part of me. I thank you for creating my breasts and choosing the size they would be. I thank you for creating my stomach and the curve of my hips. I thank you for creating my vagina and all the amazing things it can do–from peeing, to orgasm, to birthing babies. It’s pretty incredible. In Jesus holy and precious name, Amen.

A resolution that might actually change your life- learning to love our bodies

who rules the world 4.1

This is Part 4 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, nurse  CLICK HERE.

This is the continuation of the last post I wrote on intercessory prayer. I would recommend that you read that before reading this! Click Here to read the first part of this post.

In my last post, pathopsychology I spoke about the power and need for intercessory prayer and that when we pray, we need to pray according to God’s will. And if we are to pray according to God’s will, it seems as though we would need to know what that will is, which brings us to the important question, what does God will? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? First of all, I want to acknowledge that I cannot even begin to fathom and understand the will of the Lord God, an issue I’ve addressed in this post.

With that being said, John writes:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. -1 John 5:14

And I don’t think that God would tell us to pray according to His will without giving us an understanding of what it is that He wills.

Sometimes, like with Elijah, we will receive words from the Lord on what to pray for, what His will is in a certain situation. But I also believe that there are three situations in which we can always know God’s will. This doesn’t mean that we will understand His timing or process, but it does mean we can pray with confidence, knowing that we are praying God’s will and that He desires to work through us to see what we are praying for accomplished.

Those three things are salvation, freedom, and healing.

1. Salvation- in 1 Timothy 2:1-6a, Paul writes:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. -1 Timothy 2:1-6a

In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9

We can be absolutely confident that when we pray intercessory prayers for people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Lord, we are absolutely praying the will of God.

2. Freedom– Our God desires us to be free from sin, free from the chains that burden us, free from depression, eating disorders, anxiety, all other mental disorders, and demonic attacks and strongholds.

We see that time and time again, our Lord Jesus sets people who are in bondage free. Just one example of this is found Mark 9 when a father brings his son, who is being tormented by a demon, to Jesus.

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit.
“You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. -Mark 9:25-27

He frees this boy from demonic attack.

When the teachers of the law and the Pharisees throw down a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus, he says:

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. -John 8:7-11a

He frees this woman from shame.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist writes these words:

Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out! -Psalm 107:17-22, The Message

He frees us from eating disorders. From depression. From bondage.

In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Christ has set us free. He sets us free. He will set us free.

When we pray for people to be set free, we are praying the will of our loving Father.

3. Healing– We never see Jesus turn away a sick person who asks for healing.

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases. -Matthew 8:16-17

“Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. -Matthew 9:22

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you,” and their sight was restored. -Matthew 9:29

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. -Matthew 9:35

And these are just some examples from Matthew 8 and 9!

In Mark 8:22-25, we see another instances where Jesus heals:

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

(Remember this passage…I’m going to be talking about it in the next post as well).

When it comes to healing, we often may not understand the process. In this case, Jesus spit in the man’s eyes to heal his blindness. Umm? But although we may not understand the how, I believe that when we pray for someone to be healed of a disease or injury, we are always praying God’s will to earth.

One last point I want to bring up that I think is important when talking about intercessory prayer is the idea that Jesus is the only intercessor for Paul writes:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men- the testimony given in its proper time. -1 Timothy 2:5

So if there is only one intercessor, one mediator, how is it that we intercede for people? How can we pray these prayers of intercession?

Dutch Sheets explains this really well in his book Intercessory Prayer. He points out that our prayers of intercession are always and only an extension of Christ’s work of intercession. When Jesus came to earth, He bridged the gap between the Lord’s Kingdom and this earth- Jesus has interceded for all people. We don’t deliver anyone, we don’t reconcile anyone to God, we don’t defeat the enemy. The work is already done. And yet me must ask for the release and application of these things.

Our prayers of intercession release Christ’s finished work of intercession. His work empowers my prayers- our prayers release his work. -Dutch Sheets

To read the next post, Part 5, click HERE.

To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:

Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.

-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).
who rules the world 3

This is Part 3 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, ed CLICK HERE.

This is the third post of my “Who Rules the World?” series. Calling this string of related blog posts a “series” makes me feel much more official and legit. It’s funny how, no rx quite often, pastors create sermon series and say that it has 3 parts or 5 parts to it, but somehow it always seems to happen that weeks later you’re sitting in church listening to part 7 of the series because, let’s face it, it’s hard to be concise and condense things when you’re talking about the all-consuming living Author of Life. All this to say, I originally said that my “series” had 4 parts and now I’ve stretched it out to 5 because, as it turns out, intercessory prayer is rather a large topic. I was writing this post in a word document and once I got to page 6 I thought it might be a good idea to save some for another post if I had hopes of people actually making it to the end. All that to say, here is part 3 out of my 5-part-but-who-knows-how-long-it-will-be series. Before you read this post I would recommend that you read Part 1 and Part 2 because they really lead up and set the theological foundation for this post and the next.

In my last post, I proposed the idea that God is not in control over everything that happens in the world because He has given us freewill and also because He wants to work through us to bring His kingdom to earth, not independent of us. And this brings us to, what I believe, is one of the most crucial aspects of the Christian faith- intercessory prayer.

What is intercessory prayer? Simply put, it is to pray to God on the behalf of someone else for something to change- for people to be healed, saved, set free. An intercessor is a mediator, someone who goes between.

I love this quote by E.M. Bounds:

God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil…the prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon the earth. God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer.

Wow. Let those words sink in. Prayer is the way God carries His great work upon the earth. The life and prosperity of God’s cause depends on us and our prayers. I believe the powerful ideas expressed in this quote are absolutely backed up by the Bible. One  example is found in the book of 1 Kings.

The context of this passage is that the prophet Elijah had previously prayed for there to be a drought in the land and there had indeed been a drought for 3 years. This is where the passage picks up:

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” -1 Kings 18:1

In this verse, the Lord comes to Elijah and says that He is going to send rain. I think it’s crucial to note that Elijah was not the one requesting rain, but rather the Lord reveals that it’s His will to bring the rain.

Later on in this chapter, Elijah says to Ahab:

“Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. -1 Kings 18:41-42

Elijah knows that the Lord has promised rain and that the Lord Himself desires the rain to come. So what Elijah does in response to this is quite interesting- he tells Ahab to eat because he knows that they will have to leave Mount Carmel to escape the heavy rains, and then he goes to the top of the mountain, gets on the ground, and puts his face between his knees. Elijah is praying for rain.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”            -1 Kings 18:43-44

Elijah prayed fervently and persistently- he prayed seven times for the Lord to fulfill His word. In the New Testament, James talks about Elijah’s actions and confirms that it was indeed Elijah’s prayers that brought the rain:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:17-18

I believe this story is absolutely crucial to understanding the fact that God has chosen to work through people. Even when it is the Lord Himself initiating something, earnestly desiring to do it, He still needs us to ask.

I love this quote from Andrew Murray:

God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking…Only by intercession can that power be brought down from heaven which will enable to church to conquer the world.

His giving and His power coming down is connected inseparably with our asking.

I would go so far as to say that if you believe that everything is controlled by God, there’s no point to praying intercessory prayers. If what God wills is going to happen on earth, there is no point for us to pray fervently and persistently for His will to come. And yet this is precisely what Jesus tells us to pray:

This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. -Matthew 6:9-10

We need to pray for God’s will to be done- this implies that God’s will is not currently being done on earth.

If you truly believe prayer is important, that things truly hang in the balance, you will pray with urgency. When we understand that the living God of the universe wants and needs us to bring His will, His work, His kingdom to this earth, it transforms the way we view prayer.

So this brings us to the important question, what is it that God wills? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? And this is where I will pick off in the next post!

To read the next post, Part 4, click HERE.

To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:

Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.

-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).

A resolution that might change your life- learning to love our bodies

Trigger Warning: mention of eating disorder, approved
ED behaviors, this
weight, case
self-esteem, depression

When was the last time you made a New Year’s Resolution that changed your life and actually helped you love yourself more?

I know that the end of January is not the typical time for writing blog posts about resolutions, but change doesn’t have to happen at the beginning of a new year. Each and every day of the year is the perfect time to start honoring your body and loving yourself—you, a precious child of God who was so tenderly created by the Creator of all beautiful things.

I know full well how hard it is to love your body—I’m traveling this road along with you, walking in the footsteps of my Lord who is teaching me day by day how to relate to this thing He created many years ago in the secret place. Through this journey I’ve learned some practical ways to love my body, and I want to share one of those today.

The top U.S. resolutions are consistently to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, and workout. And those things aren’t necessarily bad—we need to love and honor our bodies, and that means keeping them healthy. But in the process of trying to keep our bodies healthy, we neglect our emotional and mental health. I think most of us have this idea that if we only lose weight, if we just get in shape, if we just looked more like that person, if we only fit into that pair of pants, THEN we would finally love ourselves.

But let me tell you, if you don’t love your body how it is right now, you won’t love it no matter how much weight you lose.

For a lot of my life, I was more on the heavier side. I struggled with binge eating and low self esteem and I was never happy with my body or my weight. I hit my highest weight freshmen year of high school as I started to struggle with depression and my emotional and binge eating increased. During that time, I had this magical number in my head- the perfect weight. And if I got down to that number, I would finally have the perfect body and I would love myself and everything would be great.

Well fast-forward a few years and there I was struggling with anorexia. I was still depressed, had massive anxiety, was majorly restricting my food intake, and was weighing myself every day (multiple times a day if I could). And guess what? I got down to that number. And then I lost 7 more pounds. And I can tell you with complete honestly, I have never hated myself more.

I would weigh myself in order to figure out how to feel about myself. How much am I worth today? How good am I today? How loved am I today? Let me weigh myself and see.

As part of my recovery process from my eating disorder, I have stopped weighing myself. In fact, it has been 14 months since I last weighed myself and I have never felt better about myself or more joyous about my life! Not weighing myself has freed me.

I hear you saying, “Well that’s nice for you, but I don’t have an eating disorder so I can weigh myself and be just fine.”

I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that your relationship with your scale is not as harmonious as you think it is.

Let me ask you this: Can you give me a good, legitimate reason why you should weigh yourself?

“Well it helps me ensure that I don’t gain too much weight, because that’s unhealthy.”

“Weighing myself helps me track my progress with working out and eating healthy, and it helps keep me motivated and it’s exciting when I lose weight.”

“I just weigh myself to track overall trends in my weight, not because I actually care that much.”

Personally, I think that all those reasons are crap. I have yet to hear a good reason why anyone needs to weigh themselves. This isn’t how I’ve always felt, partially because my eating disorder told me I needed to weigh myself but also because the media tells us that knowing and tracking our weight is crucial and important. My beliefs about weighing myself were really challenged in treatment when one of the therapists made the comment that there is actually no reason to weigh yourself—if you go to the Dr. for a yearly check-up each year, they can track your weight and let you know if you need to be concerned.

“But however will I know if I’m gaining weight, if I’m unhealthy, if my workouts are effective??!??”

Learn how to listen to your body.

Our bodies can tell us so much—when we need rest, when we need to be pushed, what foods feel good, what gives us energy, what makes us feel joyous, what makes us feel loved and beautiful.

For me, I’ve learned that running makes me feel upset and inadequate, whereas doing Zumba actually makes me feel happy and energized. I’ve learned that yoga helps me pay attention to my body, which is uncomfortable for me but uncomfortable in a good way. I’ve learned that my body craves apples and carrots and sometimes snuggling up in my bed and watching a movie while eating a piece of chocolate cake is just what I needed. None of these things have to do with my weight and I would go so far as to say that not knowing my weight, not counting calories, not measuring my various body parts, is what has allowed me to find out these things about myself.

Not convinced yet? Let me ask you this question:

Does the thought of throwing out your scale and not weighing yourself make you feel at all uncomfortable?

Be honest with yourself.

If it does, let me tell you: Your scale and what it tells you has a hold upon your life.  

And if you really don’t think that not weighing yourself would have an effect on you I want to challenge you with these two thoughts: First of all, why are you still weighing yourself, then? I think it’s something to think about. And second of all, who are those around you who you have influence over?

Maybe you feel like weighing yourself is a perfectly healthy aspect of your life. But if you are a mom or dad or roommate or older sister or brother or friend, your weighing yourself could be having a serious effect on those around you.

If you keep a scale in your home, what are you communicating to your kids? If you’re an older sibling and you weigh yourself, what are you communicating to your younger siblings? Even if you never say anything negative about your weight or about the scale, you are telling them that, for whatever reason, that number is important. And let me tell you, the media and society will tell them what the importance of that number is much louder than you ever can.

I cringe every time I think about the few times where I weighed myself in front of my youngest sister. I wish more than anything that I could take every one of those times back and instead tell her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and to never let anyone make her doubt that truth.

I’ll end this post with a challenge—will you commit to stop weighing yourself? Will you stop letting a number define who you are, who the Creator has made you to be?

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.