Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Clean Slate

A new year is like a crisp, clean, white piece of paper. It has potential. It has hope. It has promise. Anything can happen. And unlike birthdays when we look back in despair, on New Year’s Day we look forward in anticipation.


I gaze at that crisp white page dreaming about all it can be and wondering what it will be. Will I keep the resolutions I start? Will I fall? Will I get back up? Will this be the year my struggles cease? Will I be tempted less because my foundation is firmer? I hope so. The possibility exists.

What about you? What goals do you hope to achieve? Where do your dreams take you?

Typically at least one New Year’s resolution revolves around health. Maybe this is the year you vow to get up at 3:30 a.m. and head to the gym for two hours before work every morning (have fun). Or maybe you swear to never eat sugar again (extremely difficult). Perhaps your oath is to only eat 900 calories per day (I’m hungry already). While none of these are completely unreasonable, major changes to your routine spell “doom.” More than likely, by March 1st you’ll write “failed” across your resolution - and you’ll be tempted to write “failure” across your forehead.

Before falling into the trap of setting an unachievable goal, seek God’s face. Evaluate your thought patterns and eating habits. Ask God what lies/excuses/justifications/validations you believe. What are you telling yourself to justify eating improperly? Remember, if we use food for any motive other than what God intended, we are abusing it. And, ultimately, we are abusing God’s temple. Food’s primary purpose is fuel for our bodies.

Additionally, if we allow thoughts about food to consume us, it is an idol.

Confess your sin. Replace the lies you believe with truth.

“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.” (Gal. 5:1)

“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48)

“You shall have no other Gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

Let God’s truth wrap itself around you. Let it soak in and take hold. A new year, a fresh piece of paper, a cleansed soul.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Sin-Free Celebration


It’s a party. It’s a celebration. It’s a special occasion. It wouldn’t be Christmas without sugar cookies, honey ham, and ____________ (fill in the blank).


We are conditioned. We attend holiday events, Christmas programs, and New Year’s Eve parties expecting to graze on finger food and sip on holiday punch. We show up to the big family meal ready to gorge. It’s tradition.

It’s time to re-evaluate these traditions. (Yes, there is biblical precedence of feasting during a time of celebration. But I would wager the food they were eating wasn’t filled with the preservatives and processed ingredients our bodies crave these days. And the food supplemented the special occasion, not the other way around.) Go back to the basics. What is the purpose of food? Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to eat improperly (overeat, undereat, eat wrong foods). Note: I did not say, “Do not eat.” I am saying, “Do not sin.”

In the next few weeks, we will be tempted in numerous ways to sin within the area of eating. Short of staying home (and believe me, I have done that), we cannot avoid the temptation. So we must be ready for battle. Put on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-18). Stand firm in faith, not fear.

Ask yourself if you are using any of the above excuses to justify eating improperly. If so, repent and replace the lies with truth. Seek God’s face. Allow the Holy Spirit to tell you what is appropriate to eat and what isn’t. Know your limits. Go to your celebration ready to fellowship and celebrate the real reason for the gathering.

Here are a few verses I find helpful to dispel the above lies:

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.” (Exodus 23:2)

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Gal. 5:16)

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. . . . Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” (Rom. 14: 17-18, 20)

Let me encourage you to follow Truth. You will be grateful. And God’s purposes will be fulfilled in you.

Father,
We recognize that You are the great I AM and bow at Your throne. We know that Your Spirit works within us to accomplish Your purposes. I pray that we will rest in Your peace and trust You to guide us in the area of food. We thank You for the gift of Jesus and celebrate His birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rest, Not Stress

Shopping. Wrapping. Decorating. Cleaning. Preparing.

Extra church activities. Extra children’s programs. Extra social events.

All of these “extras” add up to less time. And more stress. The Christmas Season is one of the most hectic times of year. Add in a few snow storms and traffic jams, and the stress-o-meter climbs higher.

During time crunches and stressful situations, I tend to ditch food preparation tasks. This leads to grabbing a handful of something quick (read: chips) instead of a healthy snack. It sometimes involves “fend for yourself” suppers or running to County Market for a fried chicken meal.

However, these shortcuts only add insult to injury. We are lying to ourselves if we believe we can skirt through these activities unscathed. These low-in-nutrition alternatives put extra stress on the body (not to mention what eating quickly does to our digestive system). And the spiral continues.

Find a moment to take a deep breath, lean on God, and remember His truth. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

Seek God’s face. He will fill you with rest. He will prioritize your days and food choices will be easier. Meals will be pleasurable. Life will be enjoyable. Christ will be central.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on how to reduce stress during this season?

Housekeeping:

The role of the harried, stressed-out teen is being played by my talented son, JT.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walking a Tightrope


My joints are swollen. My body aches.

Several factors could be contributing to these symptoms including the weather, my monthly cycle, and toxins in the air. But it would be irresponsible of me to ignore the possibility that I may have eaten too many cookies at the Christmas Open House on the square. Yes, sugar affects my body adversely. My homework is complete. God revealed to me years ago (after eating the entire stash of candy from my son’s Easter basket and getting a major sinus infection the next day) that sugar is harmful to my body. He confirmed it several years later when my back went out after a stretch of improper eating during the holidays. I know that my body craves sugar (which is why I am cautious about diets that state your body will crave what it needs); but, it is my enemy. (It may not be yours.)

How does this fit into a blog on lies and truth? Sometimes we have to dig for the truth. It takes time and effort. It takes research. Do you know how foods affect your body? Are you aware that different foods affect the functionality of your body differently? Choosing to ignore how food choices affect your body is like choosing not to change the oil in your car. Your car functions best when you maintain it properly. Your body functions best when you maintain it properly. To maintain it, you must know how certain foods influence it.

When we ignore our body’s signals, we are basically saying, “I can treat my body however I want. It’s my body.” I could disregard the signals I am receiving. But memories of past experiences remind me that my body will eventually “break.” My back will go out or I will get a sinus infection.

Let’s go deeper. What if I don’t get a sinus infection? What if my back holds up? Does that mean I can continue to teeter on the edge of wellness and illness by eating as much sugar as possible without physical consequences? Should I continue to walk the tight rope praying that I don’t fall? “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Rom. 6:1-2)

The truth is: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19) This is not my body to destroy. It is “a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 6:19) As a follower of Christ I want to honor God. I want to be a good steward of the resources He has granted me, including my body.

How about you?

Do you know how certain food choices affect your body?

A side note: I have gone to great lengths to avoid giving specific directions on how to eat. The purpose of this blog is to point you to the One who gives direction. I have researched foods, fasting, cleansing, sugar and sugar substitutes. But this knowledge is worthless if I still believe lies. However, if you are interest in specifics, let me know.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guest Blogger David Rawls: Don't Ignore Your Health


In one night my whole life changed. I told my wife Gina that I needed to go the hospital. I could not take the pain anymore. Something was wrong. It felt like a heart attack. After spending several hours in the emergency room and taking pain killer medicine I was told I had gall bladder issues. Not life threatening, but a warning of things to come if I did not make changes.

I have spent my entire life struggling with my weight. I would like to say I had a good excuse which could somehow explain away my enormous size, but the truth was that I had earned my 355 pound frame the old fashioned way. For as long as I can remember I have struggled with my weight. In high school I weighed 285 pounds. My football coach told me if I wanted to play in college I could not be a fat slob. So I decided to go on a diet. I lost nearly 40 pounds. I wish that was the end of the story, but it was just the beginning. Over the next 20 years I experimented with a half dozen diets and lost all kinds of weight only to gain it back and add to it. At one point I tipped the scales at 380 plus pounds. My insatiable desire to eat continued to war against my fleshly body. I was doomed to be large. This all changed the night I went to the emergency room.

Fear is a great motivation. The night I went to the hospital I realized I was literally killing myself because of the choices I was making in life. I was scared. It was time to change. Today I look back at that difficult night and realize my gall bladder issue was one of the best things that happened to me. I have changed and I never plan to go back.

Today I weigh 240 pounds. On a 6’7” frame, I look skinny to all my friends. People have asked me how I lost all the weight. So this is what I tell them. I begin by saying my health is my responsibility. I cannot depend on others. I must change. Change meant changing the way I thought about health. I learned that my weight was not really the issue. The main culprit was that I was making poor choices in life. To continue making those choices would impair the quality of my life or, even worse, take my life at a very young age. In taking personal responsibility for my life I have come to several conclusions.

  1. Diets do not work. Many of the diets helped me lose weight but only for a short time. My health must become a way of life. In other words, I cannot keep going on and off diets. I need to make good nutrition and exercise an every day event.
  2. Not all foods are equal. I once believed it did not matter what you ate as long as you ate it in moderation. Hence a vegetable was equal to a candy bar. I have since learned many fight with obesity and disease because they have believed this lie. I was amazed that even after I lost 130 pounds and kept it off, I still consumed a lot of food. But the foods I consumed changed. You can eat a lot of veggies and fruits and still lose weight.
  3. God has designed food for our benefit. For years I saw food as the curse. It certainly seemed like a curse that night in the emergency room. But the more I have studied nutrition I have come to realize that God has designed food not only for our pleasure but also for our health. It is amazing what happens when we put good food into our bodies. It is better than any medicine a doctor can prescribe. God created food to bring us healing and health. I totally believe this because God has restored my health.
My aunt has a little magnet on her fridge which reads: “If you ignore your health-it will leave you.” I have decided I will ignore it no longer. I am now proactive with my health. My gallbladder, which caused me the problem to begin with, has not acted up since I changed my diet. To make sure it does not cause problems I do a cleanse once a year. This cleanse helps my liver and removes stones from the gallbladder. I have been amazed at how much better I feel after I do this. I know my body will not last forever, but I also know that when we take care of it we will live longer and healthier lives. For many years I ignored my health. Now is the time to take it back. I plan to embrace the truth and run with it. Will you join me?

David Rawls and his wife, Gina, have been married 21 years. He has two teenage girls and a son who is 12. David has been in ministry for 22 years and currently serves as the discipleship minister at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Muncie, Indiana. David has a passion for missions and takes church teams yearly to Kingston, Jamaica and Liberia, Africa. Besides ministry Dave enjoys running and learning as much as he can on physical health. Read about David's AIM product business at http://myaimstore.com/totalhealth/. David can be reached personally at david@hcfmuncie.org.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Tips

Preparations ensue for weeks. The guest list carefully studied. The food purchased. A special dish cooked for each person. The table set. Entrees timed perfectly.

The turkey’s skin crunches as it is cut. The stuffing’s steam invites. The butter melts and oozes over the lump-free mashed potatoes. The desserts tantalize.

Family streams through the open door. Coats are hung. Greetings distributed.

Thus begins Thanksgiving Day – a day traditionally filled with family, relaxation, lots of food, and dare I say, football (I’ve already been told which teams play this year).

For the hostess, it is a day of work. One she (or he?) usually enjoys. Some love serving. For these, enjoyment comes from watching their loved ones eat heartily. ”Pass the turkey,” is music to the ears. “May I have more green bean salad?” brings a secret grin. “Are these rolls homemade?” is a pat on the back. The sense of fulfillment derives from watching others take delight in the masterpieces set before them.

But sometimes . . . the following conversation takes place:

“Would you like some apple pie?”
“No, thank you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“But I know how much you love apple pie. I made it especially for you.”

The guest feels trapped. At this point in the conversation one of two things may happen:

One, the guest has a slice of pie. He/she feels obligated to eat to avoid an argument or to avoid rejecting the hostess. And let’s face it – because she/he really wanted the apple pie anyway.

Two, the guest continues to refuse the pie, adding reasons, but begins to feel uncomfortable and possibly a bit miffed. It is difficult enough to refuse something so enticing once. But stating your case while saying no is just plain awkward.

The above hostess receives love by serving. Therefore, she may feel rejected or insulted if a loved one does not eat. Because she has spent numerous hours preparing for this moment, she may feel let down if others aren’t as enthusiastic about the food. She may feel like a failure.

Some truths for a guest to remember:

  • Pray before attending the gathering. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in deciding what to eat, how much to eat, and what not to eat.
  • Be sensitive without being defensive. Your hostess has spent a lot of time and money preparing for the gathering. So respond in love. On the other hand, you do not need to defend your position. “No, thank you,” with a smile should be sufficient. If your hostess persists, stand your ground with a loving attitude.
  • Your love and acceptance comes from God, not those around you.
Some truths for a hostess to remember:

  • You are loved and accepted by God (no matter who eats or doesn’t eat your meal).
  • Your guest is not rejecting you. He/she is saying no to food.
  • It can be difficult for a guest to say no (because he/she really wants to say yes), so do not continue to tempt him/her by asking again.
  • Focus on the original purpose for the gathering – to give thanks to God for His bountiful provisions.
What are your suggestions for a smooth Thanksgiving gathering?

I pray God will be blessed and glorified in and through us as we gather to remember His provisions and the beginning of our nation next Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Holiday Plans

Around our house, the holidays commence on my birthday, November 8th, and continue until my anniversary, January 2nd. Barring a few down times, I have one excuse after another to treat myself, celebrate, take a break from the normal routine, etc.
For our family, the calendar lines up like this: two birthday meals (I am blessed to share a birthday with my son – who turns 16 this year), three Thanksgiving meals, numerous Christmas celebrations, a New Year’s hoopla, and a go-all-out anniversary dinner. Add in a four-day trip to Chicago between Christmas and New Year’s, which may or may not include packing nutritious snacks, and it is one party after another.

Your next few months won’t look exactly like this, but I presume you have a similar schedule.

I begin this season with fear and trembling. Will it conquer me again? Or will I be the conqueror this time? I have, in the past, successfully entered and exited this time period walking after the Spirit and come out the other end none the worse. Possibly even more mature for holding my head high and staying the course. This knowledge gives me hope and a reason to persevere as I see the temptations fast approaching.

Recognizing that this season historically has been difficult is the first step to tackling the problem. The second is to stay connected to God.

As I approach each event, it helps to have a plan. Examples of plans are:
  • eat dessert out instead of making a cake (which will tempt me for days on end),
  • one reasonably-sized plate of food at Thanksgiving (thankfully I don’t like pumpkin pie),
  • two cookies at the church gathering,
  • eat half my meal at the restaurant and bring the rest home in a doggie bag.

These goals need to be God-led. When He gives us direction, He will provide the strength to follow. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:3

Have you entered tempting situations with a plan? What was it?
Do you have a plan for the upcoming holidays?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let Love Motivate You

What motivates you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why do you send your children to school each day? Seriously, wouldn’t it be easier to yield to their whining and let them stay home? (Or, for us home schoolers, to say “Okay,” when they request to skip Math for the sixth day in a row?) Do you send them because you have to, or because you want something great for them?

What motivates you to stop at a red light? Is it fear of getting a ticket?

At some point in the past . . . ahem . . . well, since I turned 16, I quit fearing the police and began stopping at red lights because I understood the light was there to protect me. An authoritative figure within our government implemented this law to help traffic flow better and to help us reach our destinations safer and easier. As time passed and I stopped at more red lights, the urge to run the light diminished. And now, as a mother, I am very thankful for the law that requires me, and those around me, to stop at red lights. I approach traffic lights with confidence. I know my children are protected and safe because of that very light. I am no longer even remotely tempted to run it (even if I am late).

What motivates you to eat properly?

When we eat well because we fear the consequences, the effects do not last. Fear is a great motivator; but, it is typically short-lived. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look at our physical problems and evaluate the paths we are on. It may be that fear of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, sinus infections, back issues, etc. will prompt us to take a fresh approach to our diet. But if we allow that fear to be our main motivator, we cross over into legalism. It has become a “have to” we are enslaved to. The constantness feels like chains. “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” John 8:34 (NIV).

My motives for stopping at a red light changed as I understood the law and its purpose. In the same way, we need to change how we think about food and its purpose. Otherwise we have only exchanged one lie for another. Instead of believing “Only one won’t hurt,” or “I can cheat because it’s a celebration,” we now believe “If I eat this bad item, God will punish me,” or “Eating well is a sacrifice.” That is not freedom in Christ.

Freedom in Christ comes from choosing to obey God through His grace because we know He loves us - not because we feel an obligation or a fear. The more we understand His love for us, the more we love and trust Him. We grasp that He gives us His laws and commands, through His written word and prayer and others, to protect us, not enslave us. Then we can say, as the Psalmist, “I rejoice in following your statutes, as one rejoices in great riches.” Ps. 119:14 (NIV) Even if we don’t comprehend His specific purpose for us at this moment, we choose to walk in His path. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) As we walk on His path, we experience His peace and grace.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Motives

A short post today. But, hopefully, a thought-provoking one.


What motivates you to eat properly?

Fear?

Love?

Something else?

Spend some time contemplating and praying about the answer. I’d love to read your thoughts. I will expand on this topic in my next post.

Monday, October 11, 2010

God Provides Food for Pleasure

A few weeks ago, I brought up the fact that God provides food for our pleasure (not just to sustain life). I want to re-visit that topic.

After dealing with food issues for years it is hard to think of food objectively. I maintain a love/hate relationship with it. And the love part sometimes has negative effects. But so can the hate part.

Food becomes an idol when I use it to try to fill an empty spot, or to take away the pain, or to deal with a stressful situation, or (fill in the blank). However, while dieting, food becomes an idol when I count calories constantly or think about meals and snacks all day long. And while the diet typically serves its original purpose (lose weight), I don’t think I am any better off in the long run. What I am striving for is a healthy perspective on food – one in which I think about food only long enough to plan suitable meals/snacks and consume what is in front of me. A more grandiose goal is to enjoy the experience also.

I think one of the side-effects of an eating issue is the guilt associated with enjoying food. Dieting instills an almost paralytic effect. What I mean is food becomes taboo. So every time I put anything in my mouth I feel as if I am “being naughty.” Of course, that is ridiculous when weighed against the fact that food is what sustains us. And yet, the guilt still exists.

Is it unreasonable for me to simply enjoy food for food’s sake? I don’t think so. The key is education, balance, and motive. I have done enough research (through reading and experimenting on my own body) to have a clue how particular foods affect my temporary residence here on earth (read: my body). The balance comes into play when I remember that God created food for enjoyment as well as fuel for our bodies. And my motive should be to eat in a manner which optimizes the efficiency of my body (His temple) out of love for my Creator. What do you think?

Bon app├ętit.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is More Better?

A few days ago I read an interesting article while browsing the internet. A fellow believer writes that his wife deals with “chronic and super high pain levels” in her back on a daily basis. While my back issues have not elevated to this level, I can relate to trying anything and everything to diminish back pain (read Painful Rest – article link under my profile). With a doctor’s recommendation and under a doctor’s supervision, she decided to start a 500 calorie per day diet with the intent of losing weight to reduce pain. Her supportive husband is joining her on this venture. Please note: I am not advocating a 500 calorie per day diet for just any willy nilly reason. I repeat: her situation is unique and this couple is under a doctor’s supervision.

The author, Jason Elkins, lists a typical day’s diet. As one who has researched healthy foods and how different foods affect our bodies, I am impressed with how this couple stretches their calories to include such a varied list of good-for-you foods. (One more time, I am not saying you should start a 500 calorie per day diet.)

What struck me (and the part that relates to this blog) were the reactions from Mr. Elkins’ friends.

The comments from some well meaning friends have been interesting:

You can’t live on that.”
You’ll gain all of your weight back right away.”
500 calories is starving yourself and it won’t work.”
That’s not healthy dude.”

I thought for a long time about that last statement. “Not Healthy”… I calculated what I ate a few Saturdays ago.*
At this point, the author recounts meals from a day before beginning this diet. The pancakes, eggs, Quizno’s sandwich, take-out pizza and dessert add up to around 4000 calories. Wow.

Why are his friends suddenly take an interest, negative at that, in his food intake? Mr. Elkins theorizes, ”I think it’s part of our culture to ignore excess in things but be very concerned about lack.”** Ironically, Mr. Elkins’ more recent low-caloric diet probably has more nutrition than his previous high-caloric diet.

I think we become uneasy around something abnormal. We don’t know how to respond to behaviors that are “out of the box.” As a society, we are conditioned to believe that more is better. Therefore, less must be bad. So a 500 calorie diet must be worse than a “normal” diet (which may be up to 4000 calories). We don’t even stop to ask what the content of the diet is before drawing our deductions. Do you see the lie (more is better) and false conclusion (less is bad)?

Let’s re-condition our thoughts. Remember that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

Additionally, “’Everything is permissible for me’- but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’- but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12) Let’s not be mastered by our diet, be it good or bad, high in calories or low.

You can read "Lessons from a 500 Calorie a Day Diet" by clicking the article link under my profile.

* Elkins, Jason. "Lessons from a 500 Calorie a Day Diet." Transparent Christian Magazine When our lives reflect the brightest light, we become Transparent. . N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.

**Ibid.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Enjoy Food

A crisp, juicy apple.

The crunch of a banana pepper.

The sweet taste of the first red raspberry of the season.

The aroma of pesto sauce and parmesan cheese.

The warmth of a cup of soup on a cold, wintry day.

The delight of watching my family enjoy the meal I fashioned.

Besides providing food to sustain us, God provided it for our pleasure. The Bible provides numerous examples of celebrations with a feast.

“He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy.” (Acts 14:17)

God gave us the ability to determine hunger. And He satisfies that hunger with good things. (See Psalm 103)

How do these truths fit with our previous discussions on food?

Can you expand on this idea of food for enjoyment?

Do you have fond memories that surround a food experience?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rest

The local MOPS coordinator invited me to speak at a meeting in October. My topic? Food, lies we believe and the truth that sets us free. Last night I began compiling previous blog entries and streamlining them into a 20-25 minute presentation. While reviewing, cutting, adding, and editing, my mind kept wandering to the frozen yogurt stashed in the freezer. Literally. I read a sentence about how Satan tells us lies that we believe. Then I thought about which topping I would add to the yogurt after I finished working. I read a sentence about using food and how it can be an idol. Then I thought about better toppings for the frozen yogurt. This cycle went on for two hours. Two hours.

Typically I would shrug the thoughts away or maybe confess the sin (idolatry) and try to keep going. But, last night I got mad. I mean really. How ironic. It is just like Satan to badger me with the very thing I am writing about. Well, I had enough. I walked away from the computer and found my husband (he is my pastor, after all). I told him my struggles. He prayed. I confessed to God and relied on His strength. I knew He didn’t want me to eat frozen yogurt (I had eaten my quotient of sweets earlier). I rested in the knowledge the decision was final and continued writing. Victory!

What is my point? These lies are deeply ingrained. What was the lie I believed? When I was trying to ignore the thoughts or shrug them away, I believed “I” could stand up against Satan and his lies. When I stopped to confront the sin, recognized I could not wrestle the thoughts on my own, and bowed at the throne of grace (with my husband leading), God reigned.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Are you weary and heavy-laden? Wrestling with Satan and flesh is tiring. Jesus says to come to Him and He will give you rest.

On a different note, if you haven’t already, take a moment and read Laura’s comment after the last blog entry. Excellent thoughts.

I am thrilled to see blog visitors from Russia, Ireland, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and all over the U.S. Keep praying for God’s truth to reign. Also pray for the ladies attending MOPS in October.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Treats

When I asked “What lie do you tell yourself to justify eating ___?” Julia responded with the following:


I often use any success I can achieve as an excuse to reward myself with a treat, effectively un-doing the good I did! For example, "I only weighed _____ this morning, so I can have ice cream!" or "My blood sugar level was great today, so I'll eat two cookies instead of one!" or "I walked three miles today, so I can eat three slices of pizza!" I'm not saying there is no place for a special treat or a reward, but I do it entirely too much to call it a "special" treat.

First of all, Julia, yeah for the treats you picked – all special favorites of mine. I cannot relate to those who reach for a piece of hard candy. I’d rather sip on a glass of water than have to wait out the melting of something that will just leave a yucky film on my teeth and tongue anyway.

But, in all seriousness, most of us understand “treating” ourselves. And, truthfully, I don’t think “treats” are wrong. So where is the lie? Well, Julia pegged it when she said she did it entirely too much. Unfortunately, “too much” is ambiguous. I am walking a fine line here. Remember, this blog isn’t about eating the “right thing” in the “right amounts.” It’s about lies and truth. Julia disclosed she had crossed the line. How will you know if you have crossed it?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it the “treat” that keeps you going?
  • Do you feel deprived if you aren’t able to have your “treat”?
  • How often do you think about the “treat” to come?
If the “treat” drives you toward your goal, the lie rules your mind, not God.

Let me walk you through the steps I would take to dispel this lie and replace it with truth.

  1. Recognize the lie as sin. (Anything that takes the place of God is sin. Allowing my thoughts to wander toward a “treat” or defining “treat” differently than how God wants me to is sinful.)
  2. Repent. Lord, I look for excuses to treat myself. I allow a success to be cause for a reward. Thus, I am “un-doing” the good. I confess this as sin and choose to turn from it.
  3. Turn from the lie to the truth. Let me reiterate that we want to replace the lie with truth.
It’s this last point I want to dwell on. Julia’s comment resonated with me. My husband and I spent 45 minutes debating the validity of treats. What’s wrong with them? What’s ok about them? When are they acceptable? Those sorts of questions. And then a thought popped into my head. What if we re-define “treat”? Society dictates what a “treat” is. But, why should we allow society to tell us what a special reward or treat is? “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

So what else is a treat? Well, depending on how God defines your eating habits, other types of food could be a treat. I thoroughly enjoyed a grapefruit I ate the other day. I didn’t intend for it to be a treat, but it was.

What about physical activity or reading a book or alone time or facebook time? Could any of these be your special reward or treat for a job well-done?

I was excited to read this comment posted by Beth: “I actually have been diligent in my "diet" this week, and haven't really suffered from it at all. I keep reminding myself that I'm doing this not as a punishment, but as a reward to feel good. So, as a reward to me, I've been blessed by seeing the scale go down 4lbs since Sunday. YIPPEE!!”

This is an excellent example of replacing lies with truth. Beth’s reward was weight loss and feeling good.

I noticed recently my back hurts less when I stay away from sugar and dairy (read: ice cream). Less pain is a real treat!

What about you? What else would you consider a treat?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Last week I visited a shopping area in Naperville, IL. The first thing I noticed was the number of food places. I didn’t count, but by eyeballing I predict there were as many places to purchase food as all other types of shops combined. Grateful I had eaten my snack at the frozen yogurt place, I turned one corner to see a Haagen-Dazs, Cold Stone Creamery and a gelati place (Italian ice cream) all in the same block. I surely would have caved and sprinted toward the Haagen-Dazs if I hadn’t made the smarter choice already (which happened coincidentally since I was unaware of the impending temptations). Thank you, God. All of these food choices reinforced the thought that we are obsessed with food.


My friends and I walked into the Barnes & Noble and I headed for the discount table. I noticed a book entitled Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel. Intrigued, I opened the book, and began skimming/reading. To be fair to the author, I should disclose I did not read the entire book. What follows are my impressions based on the little bit I did read. The author states that she hit one hundred pounds when she turned eleven. Her mother declared her obese and put her on a strict diet. Long story short, that event was the beginning of her addiction to diets. (She used the word addiction.) If I understand correctly, the author spent the next however many decades trying every diet in the world. The “high” came from dieting itself. At some point along the way she realized her eating patterns were connected to how she viewed herself. The Cinderella ending came to fruition when she realized all of this and dealt with it (don’t know the details cause I was skimming) and now she no longer diets, but parades around in a size eight anyway. I never did figure out why the book is entitled Thin is the New Happy.

What is my point? One, happiness is not found in a size. Two, Ms. Frankel (and her mother) bought into a lie hook, line and sinker. Health benefits are never mentioned as a reason for all this dieting. Instead, she dieted to look a particular way. For what purpose? To be loved by her mother and others. Truthfully, as I read, sadness crept in. Not just for this author, but for all of us who have felt what she describes.

My conclusion? The author has an identity crisis. She doesn’t know who she is.

Let me step away from this particular book before the reader misunderstands my intentions. The book is merely the catalyst to remind me that knowing who we are is vital to understanding and, especially, believing truth.

Each of us was created by The Creator. “For we are God’s workmanship . . .” Ephesians 2:10. Additionally, we are loved unconditionally by God. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1 When we believe He loves us as we are, there is no need to search for it from others.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ice Cream . . . Ice Cream . . . Ice Cream

Good morning, Lord. . . . I need to brush my teeth. Can I have ice cream for breakfast? No, that’s ridiculous. . . . Oatmeal for breakfast, that’s a healthy start to the day. . . . What kind of ice cream do we have? Oh, yeah. Bunny Tracks. . . . Father, help me teach my children well, today. . . . Lunch was good. Is it too early for dessert? I better wait til the children go to bed. Otherwise, they will want some and they ate ice cream yesterday. I’ll eat an apple. . . . Is it 8:00 yet? That ice cream was so good last night. I can’t wait. . . . I need to finish the laundry. Oh, I can taste the creaminess of the vanilla ice cream with the crunch of chocolate chunks. . . . I made it. It’s eight and the children are upstairs. I can sit down and enjoy my much deserved bowl of ice cream while relaxing. This is heaven.

Too many days transpire this way. My mind meanders toward the very thing I should run from. I dwell on what I should not have.

Let me pause for a moment. I am not telling you what to or not to eat. Anything can be inserted for ice cream (including other foods, fasting, shopping, running, sex, etc.) I believe several food substances are physically addictive. But, I cannot say how your body will react to different food items. Rather, it’s the thought pattern I want to examine.

Anything that takes the place of God is sin. Notice in the first paragraph how my thoughts keep cycling back to food. It is a focal point, an idol. Has food become your god? I must admit it is mine at times. And even though I recognize it, I haven’t wiped my hands of it and walked away. I find myself in a sin, confess, sin, confess, sin, confess pattern too often. Why? Because I believe lies (see list of lies in previous post).

To have victory, I must recognize the lies, confess them as sin, break down the lies, and replace them with truth. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5
       . . a stronghold is anything we hold onto that ends up holding us. . . . The word demolish implies a kind of destruction requiring tremendous power; to be exact, divine power. Much of the reason believers have remained in a yoke of slavery is because we swat at our strongholds like they are mosquitoes. Strongholds are like concrete fortresses we’ve constructed around our lives block by block, ordinarily over the course of years. We created them, whether or not we were aware, for protection and comfort. Inevitably, however, these fortresses become prisons. At some point we realize we no longer control them. They control us.*

Let me repeat. It is not just a matter of recognizing there are lies (that is the first step) and confessing. We, then, must break down the lies and replace them with truth. It is this last part which benefits us in the long run.

Housekeeping:
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*Moore, Beth. "The Steadfast Mind." Breaking Free: Making Liberty In Christ A Reality In Life. Workbook ed. Nashville, Tennessee: Lifeway Christian Resources, 1999. 184. Print.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Improper Use of Food is Substance Abuse

Have you ever considered your eating habits or thought patterns as sin? For years I knew I could eat better, but had not contemplated the possibility that my actions were wrong. Two separate events helped me connect the dots. First, a friend of mine casually mentioned that sugar could be addictive. At that time, I made a mental note, but chose not to ponder too long on the statement.


Then, several years later, I was reading Dr. Neil T. Anderson’s Discipleship Counseling when it all came together.
All people with addictive behaviors lie to both themselves and others. . . .The dysfunctional use of substances such as alcohol, drugs (either street or prescriptive), nicotine, caffeine and food becomes a means of coping and escape for them [people with addictive behaviors] and usually controls their time, money and relationships.*
Even though I added the italics in the above quote, the word food sort of jumped off the page at me. Lots of other information in that quote could be explored. But, for now let’s zero in on Dr. Anderson including food in a list of addictive substances. Can some eating habits be labeled as substance abuse?

Do you remember the dictionary definition of food from my previous blog? “Substances that people, animals, and plant eat to stay alive and grow.”** If food is a substance, is eating improperly substance abuse? Back to my dictionary. Abuse is “wrong or harmful use of something . . . .”*** Wow! So, if we use food for any other motive than what God intended, we are abusing it. And, ultimately, we are abusing God’s temple.

I am going to leave it at that for now. On my next post, I will connect food addictions to sin.

In the mean time, let me know your thoughts on whether food can be abused.

Housekeeping: See my previous posts for instructions on receiving email updates and/or posting comments. However, it appears as if the comments section may not be working properly. If you are trying to comment and it is not working, please let me know. You can email me directly through my profile page (click on my picture).



* Anderson, Neil T. "Overcoming Habitual Sin." In Discipleship Counseling, 325. Rev Ed ed. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003.

**Scholastic Books, Scholastic Children's Dictionary (New York: Scholastic, 1996), 204.

*** Scholastic Books, Scholastic Children's Dictionary (New York: Scholastic, 1996), 3.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What is Food?

The response to the first post built my excitement. I also found it very humbling. Thank you for reading and participating. I anticipate a great work of the Holy Spirit as we continue to explore this issue.

Many people I have conversed with about food will admit to some sort of problem. Some laugh it off . . . and some cry. But it is obvious that an escalating problem in today’s society of plenty is how we deal with food. Our minds reel with questions: What should I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? How much should I eat? Why should I eat that? Why shouldn’t I eat that? We meditate on it. We mull it over. We munch on it (pun intended). We toss the questions around until we feel as if we are on a merry-go-round with no off button. The thoughts consume us. And there is no place to hide . . . or is there? “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:5) Let’s hide in the One with the answers to our questions. Let’s seek His wisdom in this dilemma.

At the core of the issue is how we perceive food. Our perceptions differ from reality. So, let’s look at the reality side. What is the definition of “food”? What is its purpose? Until a few years ago I never stopped to ponder these questions. But since we deal with food on a regular basis (that’s an understatement), we should answer these questions. Here are my initial thoughts:

Food can be . . .
  • a comforter
  • something to keep my mouth and hands busy
  • the satisfier of my cravings
  • what I use to keep my stomach from talking to me
  • an outlet for my creativity
  • a necessary evil (having to think about and plan three meals a day can be mentally exhausting)

To add to that list, a friend told me yesterday food is something we fellowship around. I agree. Typically, a gathering includes food and/or drinks in the midst.

My question Monday prompted these answers:

Karen said, “It's the essential "building blocks" our body needs (and God created) we need to eat so as to be healthy and strong. God also provided food for enjoyment (which is where I tend to stumble!).” Karen brings up a great point concerning food for enjoyment. I will address this in a different post.

Connie said, “We were created in His image. We are to do His work. To do His work we need to be healthy and strong to do that work.”

Janice said, “We must have a balance between the essentials our body needs and eating what we enjoy.”

My Scholastic Children’s Dictionary defines food as, “Substances that people, animals, and plants eat to stay alive and grow.”* Hmmm. Really? Substances? Sounds boring and unappetizing. There is no depth. Where is the enjoyment in that? I wonder what my husband would think if tomorrow he asked, “What’s for dinner?” and I responded, with a lilt in my voice like all good wives have, “Substances, dear.”

I prefer a definition I heard at a conference: fuel for our bodies. Again, not very appetizing (the smell of gas fumes comes to mind). However, this definition helps me keep the right perspective on the purpose of food. When I think of fuel, I think of something that keeps me going. I am compelled to ask: What is the best fuel for our bodies? To take that one step further, we are told in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (for those in Christ). Therefore, the real question is: What is the best fuel for God’s temple?

The living God dwells within this body that He created. Why would I want to poison it? Why would I want to fill it with substances that are harmful and contrary to what God desires?

Lord, thank you for your Spirit that dwells within this temple You created. Please enlighten me on the best fuel to maintain it and keep it going. Amen.

Interactive Part:
Five years ago I asked a group of women what they tell themselves to justify eating improperly. We assembled the list and set out to dispel each lie with a biblical truth. So . . . I want to ask you the same question. What lie do you tell yourself to justify eating ______ ? To prime the pump, I will start: Just one won’t hurt.

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*Scholastic Books, Scholastic Children's Dictionary (New York: Scholastic, 1996), 204.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Help Me Define "Food"

The scale is talking to me again. And I don’t like what it is saying. Not that I need to be a slave to it. But the digital numbers gradually changing (in an upward motion) are a good indicator that it is time to re-evaluate my life. More specifically my life choices and the motives behind them. It’s time to get back to truth.

So I’ve dusted off the notes I wrote five years ago on eating issues—all right, I didn’t blow dust off so much as print a new copy.

As I re-trace my steps, I want to invite you along.

What God showed me is that many eating issues go deeper than just making wrong choices. There are lies we believe that affect these choices. Lies we decide to believe. Rationalizations. Justifications. Validations. Excuses. Thought patterns. Things that Satan whispers in our ears until we don’t need him to whisper them anymore . . . because we believe them and tell them to ourselves.

It’s not my intention to discuss which diet is best or how many hours of exercise will counteract the effects of the piece of pie we just ate. I assume that you have studied the food pyramid and, to some degree, know what foods are good for you (fruit, veggies . . .) and what foods are bad for you (potato chips, candy . . .). Instead, I want to look at the purpose of food and how we have twisted that purpose by believing lies. I want to identify the lies so we can then replace them with truth.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a theologian. Nor do I make right choices consistently. I am a work in progress. I hesitated to start this blog for that very reason. What I will say is that I have struggled with food and food issues since I was a teenager. And I know several of you struggle also. So this is my attempt to get back on track and share this knowledge along the way.

Interactive Part: Before discussing lies, let's define “food” and its purpose. I will share my working definition, but I want to hear from you first. How do you define “food” and what is its purpose?