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.

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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.

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* 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?