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.

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?


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.