Monday, January 5, 2009

The Lord's Table

Back in September our theme of the month was "True Beauty" and I had posted an article called, Do You Think I'm Fat? which discussed how we can sinfully become obsessed with our outward appearance. I was suggesting that we most likely do more criticizing than reality would dictate. However, in the event that one truly is a bit overweight, instead of complaining, perhaps something should be done about it. I never offered any suggestions for how one might go about overcoming her weight issues, but a sister named Donna had commented that she had great success with a Bible Study called "The Lord's Table," which is available through a ministry called Setting Captives Free. I had never heard of SCF, so I looked over the material. It seemed promising.

HOW IT WORKS

The Lord's Table is a free online course that is also available in book form. This course addresses the idea that overeating is nothing more than the long ignored, rarely mentioned sin of gluttony, and that the only way to truly be free from this sin is to repent. (Imagine that!) Here's how it works. The entire course runs 60 days. There are two eating plans to choose from. Option 1 allows you a more structured plan that divides the normal seven day week into two normal portion days, two half portion days, two liquid days, and one fast day. Option 2 is called "GBS" which stands for "Growly Belly Syndrome." You are only allowed to eat when you are hungry. Each day, you have a daily lesson to complete, which takes about 30 minutes. You are also asked to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. An online mentor is assigned to you to help you with your progress and keep you accountable. The plan works because weight loss is not the goal - repentance and reliance on God is.


HOW I'M DOING SO FAR

I began the program a week before Thanksgiving (I purposely planned it so Thanksgiving would happen to fall on one of my normal eating days). I found it surprisingly easy at first, although the fast day was a little tough. I was so excited that I decided to combine the two plans. On normal and half days, I only ate when I had a growly belly. The results were very noticable. In the first two weeks, I lost four pounds. Then my life got hectic and things started to fall apart a bit.

Once the holidays rolled around, my bible lessons and my exercise started to suffer. I also could not keep track of which day I was on (normal, half, liquid, fast), so I defaulted entirely to the GBS plan. Needless to say, I have not lost any more weight. I am probably supposed to be on Day 45 but I'm only on Day 29 in the lessons. Even so, I'm still way ahead of the game compared to when I was trying to battle my food issues through secular means. I still consider it a success because my eating habits have drastically changed and my awareness of God as the source of all my joy has increased!


WHAT I'VE LEARNED

I learned some very eye-opening lessons from this program. Even though The Lord's Table is about overeating, the lessons were so powerful that I became aware that I was overdoing many things in my life (primarily spending too much time on the internet). With each time-wasting activity, I began to feel convicted. I not only reduced my caloric intake, but I have now drastically reduced the time I'm spending on the internet. This has freed up a lot more time in my day to be in fellowship with the Lord.

Even the secular health gurus will tell you that the weight will never come off unless you make a lifestyle change. But who in the world can simply decide to make a lifestyle change? Can a leopard change its spots?Secondly, I gained an incredibly profound look at the role of food in the Bible as a metaphor for eternal life. This has further changed my outlook on physical food, and the result is different from any other weight loss plan or diet I've ever tried, because I don't see food as an enemy. I actually see food as a gift from God to be enjoyed, and I am finding my food to be much more tasty than I did before.

Finally, I have discovered the secret to lifelong success -- repentance from sin. Even the secular health gurus will tell you that the weight will never come off unless you make a lifestyle change. But who in the world can simply decide to make a lifestyle change? Can a leopard change its spots? Secular diets don't work because they expect us to change in our own power. But apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

Before The Lord's Table, I used to try to avoid certain foods. Now, I simply eat whatever I want in moderation. And I discover that I suddenly don't want to eat certain foods anymore. Just as I don't find my former sins appealing anymore, I no longer find certain foods very appealing. At least, not in large quantities. God has changed my desires and I just don't really want the stuff anymore. I could never say that when I was avoiding certain foods in my own power.

So here I am at the halfway mark (even though I started the program more than 30 days ago) and I'm confident God will give me the strength to finish the course with flying colors. If I fall off the wagon again, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I just get back up and finish running the race.


NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!

If you would like to try The Lord's Table Course with Setting Captives Free, it is available here.

Also, you can preview Day 1 of the course by clicking here.

If you decide to take the course, I'd love to hear about your progress. Please feel free to post comments to this entry and let me know how you're doing! I will check in as well.

Here's to feasting on the Bread of Life!

16 comments:

Geraldine said...

Jen,
This course looks fantastic! I'm seriously considering taking part. For me i think it's about being more disciplined in certain areas of my life and i think this course will help. It's great that it's not just centered on weight loss.

Thanks for sharing!

Geraldine said...

I'm just reading through Pipers book A Hunger For God online (a book this course recommends) and so far it's very good!

"If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the
glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are
satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of
the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is
no room for the great.9 God did not create you for this. There
is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to
turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry,
and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I
want you.”

How true! I have sadly 'nibbled' too long at 'the table of the world'.

D-Rock & NG said...

I am so glad to see you posted this! I hope others are convicted and will join the Lord's Table Course! It changed my life and will change theirs too!

Jennifer said...

This morning I just realized that our film of the month, Bella, has an interesting use of food as a metaphor as well. Manny runs a restaurant and food is everything to him, as it is his livelihood. You see how food is handled and treated in the restaurant as the center of all that's important to Manny.

On the other hand, we see food being used as a tool for fellowship around Jose's family table. The food is not the focus, but rather it is merely a vehicle by which the family can come together to enjoy one another. Just like in the movie, we should see physical food as something to be enjoyed, but it's really the deep relationships that we should treasure.

I had not made the connection when I chose Bella for the film of the month, but now I see this added aspect to the story and I like the movie all the more for this reason!

Daughter, Arise! said...

This program is intense and you really have to be committed to telling the truth about your idolatrous relationship with food and have a true heart of repentance. It was devastating to admit that I placed another god before the Holy God that I said I loved. I could offer all kinds of reasons as to why I continued to abuse my body...a critical parent, sexual abuse, you name it. The program acknowledges that we all have "stories" but through the lessons it becomes clear that the phantom-like memories we continue to fight offer no excuse to the one that has truly become a new creation in Christ Jesus. Christ has set us free and should be given His rightful place as the Lord over all aspects of life. This is so different from the secular psychological view that places man at the center of his own universe, excuses sin and names it "sickness".

In my own experience, I have learned to pay attention to my relationship with food, to think about whether this is true hunger or if I am just trying to satisfy an emotional craving/connection. Usually it is the latter. The Lord's Table will point you to Christ, but you have to be willing to not only hear but to do as well. It keeps you in the Word everyday. The mentors are great and keep you accountable.

Sonya

Geraldine said...

Sonya,

Thank you so much for sharing this. I have for a few days now been seriously contemplating committing to The Lords Table. I told Jen that it is something that really draws me because like you said 'it points to Christ' but i wanted to make sure i can truly commit. You have confirmed to me that it is wise to take time contemplating before taking part.

As painful as it may be i long to take part and reap the benefits, both spiritual and physical.

Paula B. - GemStateMom said...

I joined but didn't begin for several days....the contemplation period.

I am on day 3 of the study - and it is wrenching. Honest self-examination is usually painful. Still, there is something inside me that rebels at the label "gluttony".
[justification]I just have a small problem with emotional eating, that's all. Perfectly understandable after the difficulties of the past two years.
[/justification]


How easy it is to want to justify or excuse!

As I said, wrenching, but in a good, helpful, hopeful way. Very excited about what God is doing and will do in the next 60 days as I seek to conform my life to His image.

Jennifer said...

I started the study probably about 60 days ago but I'm only on day 35 in the lessons. The lessons are really deep and I was finding that I couldn't digest them (pun intended) in just 24 hours.

The goal is intimacy with God. Weight loss is merely a by-product of this study. I have not dropped a great deal of weight, but my eating habits have changed drastically, and I stopped abusing my time with other meaningless activities. I saw how I was using all these things as substitutes for God. I intend to keep pressing on and I do expect more pounds to come off in time.

KTLadyHawk said...

I started The Lord's Table before the holidays, but I fell off the wagon, so to speak, then got back on, then fell off again, then back on, etc, now I am on day 18. It is truly an amazing program, journey really. I am just working on really disciplining myself now to stay consistent with the program, (getting up early before my two young children to do the lessons!) Getting better on the eating guide, (Fast days are the most challenging for me because I still have to make snacks and meals for my family, which is so hard while you are fasting! It's much easier to just stay away from food altogether!)

I am just pressing in more and more and the more I do, the more benefits I get, in my relationship with the Lord deepening and my relationship with food lessening!

Praise God for this program!

Jennifer said...

KTLadyHawk, I did the same thing. I started the Saturday before Thanksgiving and I was doing really well. But I realized toward the end of December I was replacing food with other things, not God. I just started over again and I am on Day 5.

This time, I decided to take my "fast days" and "half days" and apply them not only to food, but to internet use and other activities as well, otherwise I find I do not spend the time with God. I agree it is an amazing study -- and has shown me how many things I will turn to instead of the Lord to make me feel satisfied.

Jennifer said...

Uggggh. Just wanted to keep you all updated. On January 27th I was on Day 5 of my second time around. I am now on Day 26. (You do the math.) Obviously I skipped a bunch of days but I am DETERMINED to get through this course this time. I have still only 6 pounds that I lost since November, but I am learning to "gain God" instead of lose weight. I still have hopes that more weight will come off as I stay vigilant. Does anyone else want to share any updates on their progress?

Sandie said...

This is a wonderful course! I am on day 22 today. I have been faithful to come to the Lord's table each day and he has been faithful to bless me. I am having a control I never had before. Food is no longer pulling me towards it. I'm not out of control. God is opening my eyes to things never seen before. So far I've lost almost 11 pounds.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to try this, but is it dangerous for hypoglycemics? (Not-quite-diabetics; just sometimes get low blood sugar and shaky)

Jennifer said...

Hi there Anonymous! I had severe hypoglycemia 10 years ago but now it is virtually non-existent. I would say to try it. The only day you may have an issue with is the one fasting day. The other days require you to either cut your normal portions in half or to have one meal a day plus liquids (which can include milk, juice, soup, etc). I had to stop fasting last week because I started shaking but I am finding that it is really a matter of mastering the flesh. I am fasting today and I am doing great. I would suggest giving it a try. If you're not able to do the fast days, just do an extra liquid day to get your sugars in.

Jennifer said...

I finally finished Day 60 of the Lord's Table. The course was difficult for me because I did not lose much weight -- only 4 pounds -- but I had to keep telling myself I was still successful in spite of what the scale says. I gained a great deal of muscle mass from jogging, which is why the numbers aren't going down on the scale. But I now have a huge dent in my torso (also known as my waist) and my wrist bones are starting to show! How exciting!

And the most wonderful aspect of it all is that I simply do not desire food the way I did - uncontrollably - unable to say no to seconds or to dessert. God has truly freed me from my sinful ways. In an effort to commit more deeply to Him, I have decided to take on Phase II - a 16 day liquid fast. (Eeek!) Please click here for updates on my progress through Phase II.

Marianne said...

I'm so glad that you posted this. I have been recently thinking a lot about and struggling with gluttony and the fact that I eat often for reasons other than hunger. I find it a blessing that I found this link on your site. Thanks!