Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How Do You Escape Life's Problems?

Yesterday, I threw my arms up in defeat. I surrendered. I caved. I gave up. I did the unthinkable – called a medical specialist. The connotation surrounding this call is “I’m a failure.” I could not rid my body of pain. I could not figure out the problem and fix it. Add this mindset to escalating PMS (yes, it’s real) and my emotions launched into a tailspin – and landed on “depressed.”

Every ounce of me wanted to go face-down in a bag of tortilla chips and eat my way out of the pit of failure I had fallen in. (It didn’t help that we recently purchased the tastiest tortilla chips I’ve eaten in a long time, and they were staring at me from the counter.)

Have you experienced days like this? Maybe you’ve trudged through weeks or months or possibly years like this. Hopelessness and despair creep into our lives. If we don’t recognize them quickly, they grab hold and rapidly pull us down. To escape, we’re liable to turn to outside sources. Shopping, drugs, and sleeping are all options. But some of us use . . . food. We think food will mask the pain and hurt. We think food will distract us from the real issues. And it may. Temporarily. But when we lift our head out of the proverbial sand (or in my case, bag of tortilla chips), our problems still exist.

I’m sure cleansing my body of impurities last week was Holy Spirit led. But God never promised a positive outcome. He never said, “Cleanse your body, walk an hour each day, ice every four hours, and I’ll wave my magic wand and heal you.” I desired it. I sought it. I hoped and prayed for a happy ending. But the pain still plagues me. No amount of tortilla chips (or lack thereof) will change that fact.

But my perspective can change. So, today, I am again throwing my hands up and surrendering. But not in defeat. I am surrendering to God and His will. “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” (Psalm 61:1,4)

The truth is God never promised Christians would live a pain-free life. What he did say is, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:20,33) God promises, “He (or She) will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:15,16)

Today, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I raise my glass of water in a toast with the Apostle Paul who wrote, “. . . if we are [God’s] children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:17-18) To God’s glory! Cheers!

How do you escape from life’s troubles?

What Scripture verse lifts your spirits?

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I almost ate a tortilla chip from my daughter’s plate today. So what? Well, today is my second day of a five-day cleanse. The cleanse does not include tortilla chips – not even one.

Before I go any further, let me define cleanse and explain why I am doing one. Toxins fill our bodies. They come from food as well as other places – pollutants in the air, shampoos, deodorants, cleaning products, etc. Basically, you cannot avoid them. So, it is a good practice to periodically rid our body of built-up toxins (hence, the cleanse). Physical issues I’ve been dealing with for eight weeks prompted this particular cleanse. My right leg (from my buttocks to my toes) has been hurting and falling asleep. Before I see a specialist, I want to see if toxin build-up or inflammation is the cause.

What about the tortilla chip? The act of reaching for the chip tells me that I make decisions without much, if any, thought. My routine is second nature. In many ways, I walk through my day like a robot on auto-pilot. And that’s the way I like it! I love my comfort zone. I could curl up in it and live peacefully for the rest of my life (if everyone else would cooperate).

If I think of my comfort zone as an area, a section would include physical comfort. When I am in pain, too hot, too cold, in the rain, or hungry (I could go on), I am not nice. I become irritable and want to flee right back to that area of comfort. I am not referring to physical well-being. I am talking about allowing my physical comfort to override God’s directive.

I want to chew on something crunchy (not drink). I want to enjoy the taste of my food (not endure it). I want a bite of my husband’s steak because it smells good. I want what I want!

Can physical comfort become an idol? At the very least, the above attitude is self-centered.

I read a magazine recently in which “Stretch” was the theme. It is easy to lay idle in our regular routine. But how will we reach others for Christ? How will God mold us into His image?

The stretch theme reminds me of a skit Nicole Johnson performs. In Matthew 12, Jesus enters a synagogue. A man with a shriveled hand is there. To the dismay of the Pharisees, Jesus heals the man’s hand. But before he heals it, he tells the man, “Stretch out your hand.” It must have been painful, and possibly embarrassing, for the man to stretch his hand. But he was willing because he knew that to be healed he must stretch. He also knew the source of the healing and in which direction to stretch his hand – toward Jesus.

So this week I am stretching. Physically, I am outside of my comfort zone cleansing my body. Spiritually, I am stretching toward Jesus asking Him to heal me and to direct my steps.

Do you walk through your day on auto-pilot?

In the area of eating, what would be a stretch for you?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Potluck Dilemma

Leslie Leyland Fields stands in line at the church potluck and wonders what, if any, of the food presented Jesus would add to His plate. Thus begins her article entitled “A Feast Fit for the King” in the November 2010 issue of Christianity Today (see link under “Article Links”).

I’ve often wondered the same thing - not just at church potlucks. Sometimes I look at the offering on my own dining room table and wonder if God really can “bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.”

Fields explains, among other things, her thoughts on recently published books about how food is processed and what we should or should not be eating. In the past several months I have read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Animal, Vegetable, and Miracle, and Women Food and God. While I think each has a nugget of truth, I am reluctant to recommend any of them because of their secular world view. It has been difficult for me to reconcile these “cultish” approaches with my biblical world view. That is why I was thrilled to read this article. I believe her piece will help Christians understand that what we do and say in all areas of life, including eating, reflects who we are in Christ.

Although the article is long, I would highly recommend reading it (click on Christianity Today - "A Feast Fit for the King" under “Article Links” in the side bar). With that, I will leave you with this quote from her article:

As Protestants, our food practices have relied far too heavily on a single New Testament passage, I believe: Peter's vision of a sheet full of formerly unclean animals let down from heaven. God's command to "rise, kill and eat" (the supreme-meat-lover's favorite biblical scene), in my opinion, has been used to justify a kind of gustatory free-for-all.

How shall we use our freedom in Christ? Freedom is never given for license or for self-indulgence. If our freedom ends in mindless consumption, abuse of the earth, exploitation of God's gifts, and mistreatment of our bodies, then we have allowed our appetites to enslave us again.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Guest Blogger Laura Danner: When Food Deceives Us

Deception often involves taking an unpleasant fact and wrapping it in such a shiny, enticing new package that the ugly reality is ignored until it is too late – for example, the “all sales final” vehicle that looks like new on the used car lot, but then breaks down on the drive home. In one form or another, we’ve all had experience falling for something that ultimately proved to be “too good to be true.”
Food is an area where I can be easily deceived. Unhealthy food choices are presented in such enticing packages: “convenience food,” “fast food,” “super-sized value meals,” and even “drive-thru.” With the hectic pace of today’s world, who wouldn’t be drawn to the promise of a lot of cheap, fast and convenient food that doesn’t even require you to get out of your car?

Years of giving in to these temptations resulted in my being an overweight, lethargic and unhappy adult. The ugly reality behind the kinds of food I was choosing is that they often provide a high amount of calories with relatively little nutrition. The very process of making food fast and convenient requires stripping many of their naturally occurring nutrients and replacing them with fats, sweeteners, chemicals and preservatives that can be harmful to our bodies.

It wasn’t until I made a conscious decision to change my eating habits that I was able to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The weight did not come off as the result of a quick and easy fad diet … it had taken years of poor food choices to gain the weight, and it has taken years of healthy eating and exercise to lose it and keep it off.

From the beginning, God gave us the food we need to sustain us. Genesis 1:29 states:

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." (New International Version)

Notice that the foods God originally gave us to eat are not necessarily “fast” or “convenient” … they take full seasons to grow, and require labor to be harvested.

Daniel understood the importance of eating the foods provided by God. The first chapter of the Book of Daniel describes how King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon wanted Daniel and his men to eat the rich food and drink from the king’s table. Not wanting to defile themselves, they instead consumed only vegetables and water for 10 days and, after that time, proved to be stronger than those who had been eating the royal food.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. (Daniel 1:15-17, New International Version)
Does all this mean that it’s a sin to eat fast food? Of course not! As with anything, the key is in balance and moderation. Making convenience food an occasional treat, rather than the mainstay of our diets, is one way we can honor God with our bodies.

Laura Danner works as a technical writer/editor, and lives in the suburbs of Chicago. Her interests include writing, camping and hiking. As part of her ongoing process of maintaining a healthy weight, she has completed three walkers’ marathons (26.2 miles), and climbed the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower twice. Laura’s new goal for 2011 is to take up running, and be ready to complete a 5K event during the summer.