Food and Fitness

An Intentional Life

How do we get from “here” to “there”? Is there some shortcut or some magic path that will take us where we know we should be?

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to speak to a group of Christian ladies about parenting intentionally: Making daily parenting choices in light of our goal that our children walk closely with God. As I was thinking a bit more about this, I realized that it is not just parenting where intentional living is necessary.

It is necessary in all aspects of life.

A few years ago, I experienced a lot of change. During that time, I started eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. While I am no binger, I would fill my plate with unhealthy things like potato chips (oh, how I love potato chips!!) and eat dessert every day–sometimes multiple times a day. I didn’t feel like cooking, so a few times each week, we’d go out or bring in takeout. I drank soda and sugar-laden iced tea. This became my lifestyle for a year or two. It was easy to fall into these habits because they were what my flesh called for. I was just obeying my flesh when it came to food.*

Unsurprisingly, I gained a lot of weight. I became uncomfortable and every step made my knees hurt. I hated photos of myself, trying on clothing was a torturous, discouraging process, and I couldn’t even hold my grandchildren without experiencing pain.

At some point, this past summer, this idea of eating intentionally took root. I knew that if I didn’t change, I would live like this for the rest of my life. And I didn’t want that. Oh, how I didn’t want that. So with fervent prayer and a little help from a weight loss program, I finally got serious about changing these extremely bad habits that my lazy flesh had adopted.

So every single day I had choices to make. Instead of following my flesh, I made little, intentional choices that added up to big changes.

And guess what? Eating less chips and desserts, cutting out sugared drinks, and cooking more at home leads to weight loss. I chose to be more intentional about what I put in my mouth and I lost weight. I didn’t need to eradicate these things to lose weight or to keep the weight off. In fact, eliminating them would have led to failure in my case. But being more intentional in consuming them has changed everything.

Those old habits are always calling my name. Pleasing our flesh is like a rushing river that is always threatening to draw us in. Paul puts it so well in Romans 7:19, doesn’t he?–

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

And, yet, with the Lord’s help, we can say “no” to our flesh! We can choose to intentionally make choices that we know will please the Lord. This is a big part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives and yet, so often, we ignore it.

What are some other ways we choose to follow our flesh without any conviction to live differently?

How about financially? Buying what we want whenever we want is a real temptation in this culture of “having the latest and greatest right now”.

Or how about time spent in the Word and prayer? Our flesh will never call us to sit down and spend time with God. This habit will only be developed by intentionally sitting down and getting started.

Parenting has already been touched on, but we must understand that we cannot expect godly kids if we are filling their brains and their hours with ungodly entertainment, friends, and activities.

And what about relationships? If we want to have God-honoring relationships with our family, friends, co-workers, and others, this takes work. It doesn’t just happen. We have to intentionally build into the lives of others. Make time for them. It is improved by intentionally loving them, despite their being differences between you. Someone has to make the first move to heal or improve a relationship. Why not you?

So how do we live intentionally? How do we have the strength to choose what is right over the powerful pull of our flesh?

Galatians 5:16 tells us–

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?

John MacArthur says this in his sermon on this topic

Now the concept of walking really does mean daily conduct.  There’s never a time in your life when you just arrive and from then on you’re permanently spiritual.  I do not believe the Bible teaches some eradication of the sin nature in this life or some second work of grace or some perfectionism, when you have reached that you never sin again.  Not at all.  It is a daily moment-by-moment walk and it comes and goes, depending upon our submissiveness.  By the way, if anyone of us says that we have no sin we make God a liar.  We never overcome sin totally but we can overcome it as a pattern of life by walking by the Spirit.  That’s a basic, daily, practical life pattern.  And I say it again, the only way you can do it, the only way you can walk routinely in the Spirit of God is to have spiritual thoughts.  And the only way you can have spiritual thoughts is to be communing with the living God in an intense and continual prayer attitude and being fed continually on the Word so that your thoughts are God’s thoughts.

Consider these words for a moment. We cannot expect to walk in the Spirit without intentionally making a choice to do so. In order to do so means time spent in the Word and in an attitude of prayer. This, then, leads us to experience victory over sin in other areas of our life, since we know scripture teaches us that we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh if we are walking in the Spirit.

And so we can see that intentional living starts here! It starts with our dedication and commitment to prayer and study of the Word.

If we don’t have that properly in place, then our battle with the flesh–whether it’s our eating habits, our parenting choices, how we spend our money, or anything else–will only lead to eventual defeat.

The thing is, we know from Paul (and from our own lives, too) that we never arrive in this. Our flesh will always provide battles for us to fight. Intentional living will be harder sometimes than others. We will fail. We will fall down.

We just can’t stay there. We need to get back to praying and spending time in the Word. We need to really think about our daily choices and where they are leading us.

May we never give up or give in but choose, instead, to live an intentional life–one that pleases God in every aspect.

 

*I want you to know that sharing that little story about my personal weight gain is rather embarrassing. I can’t believe I left myself get to that point. I share it in the hopes that I can offer some hope to those of you who might have also given in to the flesh when it comes to food. While food itself is not moral, when and how much we choose to eat can be a moral choice. There is a way to please God through our choices and a way to please our flesh. This is a much-ignored sin in our Christian culture but I was acutely aware that I was not pleasing the Lord while I was pleasing my flesh in how I ate during that time of my life.

How to Cheat Death

Coffee is good for you. Oh, wait. No, they changed their minds. Coffee is bad for you. The “powers that be” can’t seem to decide if drinking coffee benefits us or if it causes cancer. This has happened with eggs and butter and red meat and countless other foods. We were to have a low fat diet and then it was a “right fat” diet. We were to eliminate carbs. Oh, wait, no that won’t work. Diet recommendations are in constant and fluid change, leaving the public in a constant state of wondering: Am I killing myself by what I eat?

It can be exhausting, can’t it? I am all for being a good steward of my body. I do believe we have a responsibility to eat in such a way that we are keeping ourselves as healthy as we can. But food is not sinful. Eating a brownie with ice cream is not sinful. And that’s the mindset that has invaded this culture. We believe it is more sinful to eat a sugar-laden dessert than to watch a sin-filled movie. What is wrong with this picture?

Why do we care so much? What is driving us? Sure, it is probably to look and feel good. But I wonder how much of it is to prolong our lives. If we do x, y, and z, we won’t die as early. This is what we are promised by the research and the reports. And yet, we see over and over again that no diet is a guarantee. We watch people with horrible diets last well into their 90s and, on the flipside, we see people who dedicate themselves to an organic, pure diet be diagnosed with cancer. These things do not compute with what we are being told, do they?

I am not implying that we should eat anything we want whenever we want. No, not at all. But I wonder if our obsession with food and what we should eat and shouldn’t eat is pleasing to our heavenly Father? And just what are our motives for our feelings about food?

I believe that many of us struggle with this and I just wonder how legitimate this is. Are we driven because of what God says or are we driven because of what the world is telling us? It is important that we make this distinction.

The world tells us that if we eat in a certain way we will stay young, eliminate wrinkles, remove our aches and pains, and live forever. It’s all about maintaining the glory of “youth”. But no diet–no matter how pure– is going to keep us from growing old. We do realize this, right? Somehow, we have to find that delicate balance of eating well and yet still find a way to occasionally enjoy a piece of birthday cake or McDonald’s french fries without feeling guilty.

So if our diet can’t help us cheat death, then are we left hopeless?

No, actually, we aren’t. There is only one way to cheat death and that is by trusting in Jesus as our Savior. He gives us eternal life in a place that is far better than on this fallen earth (John 3:15; John 10:28; Romans 6:23).

Only Jesus can do what no special diet can do. We have to remember that 100% of men die. Men can connive and invent and work to keep it from happening, but they will never succeed. Everyone dies. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) Our only hope for an abundant and wonderful eternal life is found in Jesus. By grace alone through faith alone.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:54-58

So let’s eat smart but let’s enjoy life. Let’s work to find a balance. We do have food freedom in Christ. We have to stop believing that we can control our destinies and cheat death by what we eat. Of course we should do our best to be healthy, but there is nothing in scripture that says that weighing a few extra pounds over what the “powers that be” deem appropriate is sinful. There is no command in scripture that states “thou shalt not eat sugar or fried foods”. Our physical health and well-being has become a great distraction for many of us. It is not wrong to give some attention to the food we put in our mouths, but how about we end our obsession with it and start being obsessed with knowing the Word? As Paul says in I Timothy 4:8–

 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

 

 

 

From Here to There

There

I was rolling my eyes inside my head as I listened to someone sharing their frustration with me about a certain situation. I wanted to just look at them and say something like this–

You can fix this yourself. If you’d just do “A”, then you would get “B”.

I don’t know what made this conversation from the past come to my mind this week, but there it was. And I started thinking about how many of us do this. We complain about a situation in our lives and, yet, if we’d just do things the way we should, we probably could change it and get the results we so desire.

For instance, we may be frustrated that we are in debt, but we aren’t willing to do the work and sacrifice necessary to not be in debt.

We may be frustrated that our marriage isn’t very healthy, but we aren’t willing to give up our own selfish desires to make it better.

We may be frustrated that we don’t get a raise or a promotion, but we aren’t willing to be an employee of integrity and give a 100%, no matter what job we have.

As I thought about all of these “people” that struggle with getting from here to there, I recognized just how often I do this same thing in many areas of my life.

The one that I do this with the most is my weight. Throughout all of my life, I was able to eat pretty much what I wanted without gaining weight. I was never super skinny but I wasn’t really overweight, either. However, these midlife years have presented quite a challenge for me. Now, it seems as if I gain a pound just by looking at food. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration. But, realistically, in order for me to stay the same weight, I cannot continue to eat the same way I ate for my whole life.

So this is my new life. And I have a choice. I can choose to continue on in the way I always have or I can choose to scale back on my calories and eat healthier.

The choice is mine. And only mine.

And, yet, I often find myself complaining about this. Not so much to others–although I have been known to do that. No, my negative dialogue occurs mostly in my head. Constantly.

It feels like there are a million miles between here (typical middle-aged body) and there (skinny, attractive) and that it is impossible to reach. But I don’t really do anything about it except grumble.

As I have been working through this in my head over the last several years (yes, I said years–weight seems to be the internal battle that just won’t go away), I have thought about all of this quite a bit.

And I realize that there are some things we really need to consider, when we see a there that we want to reach. First and foremost, we need to view our goal from God’s perspective by using the Word. So often we feel pressure to be something or to do something because the world is pushing us and telling us we need to do it. But what does the Bible say?

We do know that God wants us to be good stewards of all that we have been given (Luke 16:10; I Corinthians 4:2), whether it be our bodies or our finances or our marriages, but how exactly does that look? What should be our test for this?

Scripture has much to say about all of these things and more and our first duty is to find out what it says.

And then we need to act on what we learn. If I am not being a good steward of my resources, what am I going to do about it?

One thing we do know for sure is that inaction is useless in getting us to there. And yet inaction–as much as we all hate it and desire to avoid it–is so tempting. It is always easier to float downstream than to use the energy necessary to swim upstream. And so this is why so many of us are much more comfortable floating along, bemoaning our circumstances.

Another thing we should consider is whether or not we are setting a goal that is outside of our control. Sometimes our there is just simply out of our reach and yet we keep trying to manipulate circumstances to get to where we want to go. Perhaps it is a rebellious, wayward child, a spouse who refuses to change, a dead-end job with a lousy boss that we need to survive, or we have a chronic health issue.

So what then?

This situation makes me think of Paul. He, too, was given a circumstance –we don’t know what it was–that was frustrating him. We read about it in 2 Corinthians 12–

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul wanted this thorn to be removed but God said NO. This thorn was used to keep Paul humble and relying on Christ rather than on himself. Paul’s trials drew him to Christ rather than away from Christ.

Is this what our trials do for us? It’s a good question to ask ourselves, isn’t it?

We probably cannot grow from trials until we get to the point of resting in God’s sovereignty–always continuing in fervent prayer for those we love or for our seemingly impossible circumstances and doing what we can to change the situation, and yet resting in His timing and His will instead of always trying to fix it ourselves.

And, finally, one last thing we should always consider– whether our there is within or outside of our control–is our final there. Our daily decisions here on earth should always be made with eternity in mind. Matthew 6 puts it this way–

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So, while it is very important that we be good stewards with all we have been entrusted, it is also very important that we live with heaven in mind. I don’t know about you, but this is not always part of my decision-making process. I get caught up in the here and now and do not always give much consideration to eternity.

Well, I hope my rambling thoughts gave you some food for thought today. As you may have noticed, I am working through all of this myself and certainly have a long way to go. It is a challenge to live a victorious Christian life here on this fallen earth and I struggle every day. But it is so important that we keep moving forward in this life.

May we continually dig deeper in the Word with submissive and obedient hearts and may we give ourselves to dedicated prayer, all the while relying on God for the grace and strength to get through each day. In so doing, we will show a lost and dying world that Jesus does make a big difference–not only for eternity, but also for the here and now.

 

 

Obstacles

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The dogs are menacing and terrifying– much more so than the barking dog in the picture above. Since I don’t get my camera out in the middle of an attack, I have no picture of the actual dogs. But let me start at the beginning.

Around five years ago, I started running and I would always hate passing this particular house. The dogs would run out on to the road and I would try to act like I didn’t care, shouting at them, and scooting past as quickly as possible. But then came knee surgery and that was the end of running for me.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I decided that I would see if I could get into the habit of walking. Since my dogs love going for walks (and my Chocolate Lab could stand to lose a little weight!), I decided to take them with me. Unfortunately, I need to pass this house where these dogs reside to reach both developments I like to walk in.

The first few times, the owner saw me coming and called them inside. I started to relax when I walked by, thinking she had them under control now.

And then there was the day last week that we were on our way back home. I crested the hill and spotted the dogs. My heart started pounding in fear. I was across the road from where they were, so I scrambled up the embankment next to the road and onto the field to put as much distance between me and them as I could. And then I started walking really fast.

But before I could blink, those dogs had run right across the road, up the embankment, and stood circling my dogs and growling. And this was no friendly growl. I have not been that frightened in a long time. I started screaming at them and, finally, after what seemed like an eternity– but was probably only a few seconds–the owner came out and called them and they left us.

My heart was beating like crazy. I had not been that scared for a very long time. What would I have done if the owner had not heard me? I had no idea.

Now what? I thought about this the whole way home. Would I keep walking? Or just give up?

I decided that I was not going to let a couple of dogs scare me and so I continued to walk, always taking great care when I’d go by that house and yet assuming that the owner wouldn’t let such a thing happen again, as she could visually see (and hear) just how frightened I was by her dogs.

But I assumed quite wrong. This past Saturday, my daughter and I decided to take the dogs for a walk in the beautiful sunshine. As we approached the house, my eyes scanned the horizon for the dogs but didn’t see them. I breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, the relief was naive and short-lived, for as soon as I passed the barn, I saw my two formidable enemies standing there. I knew what was coming. I told my daughter to pick up and hold our small dog and I stood there, this time with a can of Mace in my hands, and tried to defend myself and my Lab as much as possible.

We must have been quite a sight there in the middle of the road–me with my flying can of mace, screaming at the top of my lungs and my large Chocolate Lab that may as well have been Winnie-the-Pooh, for all the responding she did. She literally just stood there–which I guess is good or it could have grown very, very ugly.

Just about the time I thought those teeth were going to sink themselves into my dog, the owner came out and called them off. I asked her-as kindly as I could muster–to pleeeease put up a fence for her dogs. But even as I asked it, I knew that it would never happen. It’s just something she says to the people who feel threatened as they walk by her house.

So now I am not sure what to do. But I am leaning towards never walking by her house again. It’s just too frightening and I really don’t know what those dogs would do with their bared teeth, should their owner happen to be occupied.

And it makes my heart sink, because I had been working myself into a good habit of walking until this. It’s so discouraging.

But as I was thinking about this, I realized that most of life is like this. Whenever we want positive change, we will run into obstacles. Things we didn’t count on. The stuff you can’t plan. Whether you are working on a healthier body, a better marriage, sticking to a budget, or you have a goal to be in God’s Word, you can almost be guaranteed that something will happen along the way to derail you– if you let it.

What is the best way to respond to these obstacles? How do we keep from jumping ship? For many of us (myself included) the path of least resistance is to throw up our hands in defeat and comfort ourselves with the fact that at least we tried.

But will this take us to where we want to go? And, more importantly, is this how God would want us to respond?

Godly Christian living is really hard work. It’s full of obstacles and discouragement. But we can’t let that stop us from doing what’s right. For if we do, we will stop growing. And if we aren’t growing, we are shrinking. There is really no neutral.

And so, I have been trying to think outside the box a bit. How do I get past that house with my dogs in peace? I can’t walk the other direction, because there is a dangerous hill where cars fly. That feels even more dangerous than passing the dogs. I haven’t really solved the problem yet but I haven’t given up. At least not yet. Although, I have to admit, it’s very tempting.

But all of us face obstacles. Any positive change we try to make is hindered by obstacles and trials. And so we pray for strength and we keep walking in the right direction. Sure, our best laid plans may have gone awry, but the Lord knows all that. No obstacle or trial surprises God. Even menacing watch dogs don’t escape His notice. And somehow, there is great comfort in that.

Just 15 Minutes

15-minutes-timeHow much time does it take to change your life? I think sometimes we drag our feet at putting any change in place, thinking that it will gobble up the precious free hours that we have. We honestly believe that we don’t have time to cook healthy meals or exercise or that we don’t have the time to organize, keep a budget, or read the Bible. Or perhaps we believe we will never have time to learn to play that instrument or learn how to use the computer or read that classic. And so I have a challenge for you (and for me, too!)

It’s simple, really.

15 minutes.

The challenge is to give 15 minutes per day this year to something that you really want to accomplish in your life. If a year seems overwhelming then start with a month.

There are 1440 minutes in each day. We spend about 480 of those minutes sleeping. That leaves 960 minutes to work and play. Surely, we can take just 15 of those 960 to start working on something that really matters to us?

For me, I have decided to take January and tackle some housecleaning jobs that have been neglected.  I have made a checklist of small jobs that need to be done around the house that I never seem to get to. None of the jobs will require more than 30 minutes and most will be 15 minutes or less.

I share this here, because I wonder if sometimes we don’t move forward because it just seems so overwhelming. But what if it only took 15 minutes a day?

If we exercise for 15 minutes a day, isn’t that so much better than not at all?

If we focus on our budget for just 15 minutes (or even 5 minutes!) each day, wouldn’t that be so beneficial in tracking our finances?

If we would read our Bible for even 15 minutes per day, that would still add up to 5,475 minutes spent reading our Bibles. That’s over 91 hours spent reading our Bible in one year!

Perhaps change is within our grasp, after all.

A man names Charles Atlas says this: “15 Minutes a Day! Give me just this and I’ll prove I can make you a new man.”

I don’t know anything about Charles Atlas and I don’t know the context of this quote, but what I do know is that this is true. If we would dedicate just 15 minutes a day to something we really want to accomplish, we will accomplish it! Sure, the downside is that it will take us longer to get there, but let’s remember it was the slow and steady tortoise that finished the race in Aesop’s familiar fable.

Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention here that there isn’t anything better you could spend your 15 minutes on than studying God’s Word this next year. I am sure by now you are tired of hearing about the Bible Challenge, but I truly hope you will consider joining me and other Growing 4 Life readers as we read through the Bible chronologically. Or, if not with us, that you will be in God’s Word with another group of friends or your church or even on your own. I am convinced that– while we can change our behavior and our habits–a changed heart can only be accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit through the reading of God’s Word. There is power in this Book. There is nothing else that could possibly be of more value to you as you head into 2015.

But whatever you choose to spend your 15 minutes a day doing, I know you will feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the year (or month) because you stuck it out and have made a change– even if it’s a small one.

Anyone care to join me in the 15 minute challenge?

iOS Frustrations

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Well, the iPhone saga continues on at this house. If you recall, it was only about a month ago that I had shattered my iPhone and blogged about the lessons I learned from that experience (you can find that post here). When I wrote that, my phone had not been fixed. I’d like to take just a moment to tell you the rest of that story, so you can fully appreciate the rest of this post.

After trying to replace the broken screen, I finally just decided to call the insurance I apparently had on the phone (but do not remember signing up for). When I called, the kind lady assured me that she would be able to help me and went on to explain that since they were no longer making the iPhone 5, I would be sent a 5s. A day later, my phone showed up. I moved the Sim card, restored my latest backup, and was up and running in literally no time at all. It was so easy.

Fast forward a few weeks, when my husband dropped his phone. But instead of the screen shattering, something happened with his sound. He could no longer hear any calls through his ear piece and had to take all his calls via the speaker phone. Once again, I was on the phone with the insurance company.

But this time it would not be so easy.

When I called, I was informed by the not-so-nice lady who seemed to have no idea what she was doing that I would need to fax an affidavit and proof of my I.D. to them before they could process this claim. They could not approve the claim before I did this. When I asked for her supervisor and explained that I had just made a claim on another phone without doing this, she told me this was standard and there were no exceptions. Hmmm. Okay. Slightly annoyed, I did as I was told. When the approval finally came through it was for an iPhone 5. No problem there. I found it curious, given what the agent had told me the month before, but not a problem.

A couple of days later, the phone arrived. When I went to get started exchanging the phones last night, the tiny screen of the new iPhone informed me that no backups could be restored until the operating system was updated. Upon investigating further, I realized that the phone they had sent me only had iOS 6. At that point, I knew we were not looking at some easy fix. This was going to take some time. I was starting to feel some pressure. It was already pretty late at night and Eric could not be without a phone the next day. Ok, he could but it would be extremely inconvenient. I found myself wondering why mine was the easy and upgraded one. He needs his phone so much more than I need mine. Anyway.

I updated the iOS as requested only to find out that now it couldn’t restore the backup because the new phone was now iOS 8 and his backup was in iOS 7. So. Much. Frustration. So now I had to update his iPhone. If you have an iPhone, you are aware that these updates take some time. We were now at around 11:15. I left his to update and went to bed. This morning at 6:15, it looked like it had not updated overnight. And the panic hit once again. Thankfully, it had updated (must have just been a glitch on the screen). To update the new phone, I had had to set it up as a new phone. And so now I had to go back and erase and reset the new phone so I could restore the backup.

I was finally able to get the new phone in Eric’s hands at about 7:30.

What a process. All because I did not start with the right iOS system.

What I am going to say now most people do not want to hear but the bottom line is this: If we start with right operating system, life is generally simpler. 

And, in life, the right operating system is found in the Bible. If we follow the standards set up for us there, we have a better life. I have even seen non-Christians live by the standards set up there and have a really good life because they are living a good, moral life by staying faithful to their spouse, being honest, loving their children and teaching them to obey and respect authority, being a good steward of their resources, and being a good worker. These things alone will keep us from experiencing an awful lot of consequences.

But when we start with the wrong operating system (known by the name ME), we run in to some serious problems. When we are dominated by our own selfish desires, pride, and lusts, we will probably not have such an easy life but instead will be forced to deal with some costly consequences.

Sure, there are exceptions to this. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. But we have to stop pretending that we can–

–Eat all we want and not get fat.

–Let our kids disobey and be disrespectful and yet believe they will somehow follow the Lord when they get older.

–Be selfish and unloving and still have a good marriage.

–Buy what we want and not go into debt.

Life has consequences. And much of the heartache in this world is due to this rule of reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7). The really sad thing is that most times we are not the only ones who reap what we sow. The tragedies dealt by bad decisions are visited upon our children, our spouses, and our parents. Our choices can ruin lives.

My phone was so easy because I had started with the correct iOS. On the other hand, Eric’s phone was difficult and so frustrating because it did not have the correct iOS.

Let me encourage you to start with the right operating system today. This doesn’t mean we will live perfect lives (which you will understand immediately if you know me at all!), but it does mean that we will make a very purposeful decision to stop being guided by our own desires and wants and, instead, turn to God’s Word for directions on how to live. You will not only be pleasing Him by this choice, but avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache and sadness in your life.

 

If you appreciated this post, would you please take a moment to share it? Thank you.

 

 

Upside Down and Turned Around

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I find myself so frustrated and even depressed by the weight battle I find myself fighting every day. Every. Day. Literally. Some days I lay my head on the pillow at night and feel great about how the day went. I know that I made wise decisions and took the best care of my body that I possibly could have. But there are so many days when that isn’t the case. Instead I lay down with regret and disgust that, once again, I was so weak.

Quite frankly, this battle has been a great source of discouragement to me. I want to be at a healthy weight. I want to look thin and attractive. And yet when faced with a temptation, I cave. When challenged with the daily habits necessary to lose the weight that I say I want to, I fail.

Now, I need to keep fighting. We can’t give up. It’s against the very nature of our Christianity to do so. And victory is possible! But I wonder– when we are in the midst of a battle that feels like it will last for all eternity– is there any other way of looking at it instead of with depression and discouragement?

As I was thinking about this the other day, it hit me–

Perhaps this battle is a blessing.

Yes, I said blessing.

And here’s why–

Because I can’t seem to conquer this battle, I am continually reminded of my weakness and so it keeps me humble. And because I haven’t conquered this yet, it helps me to be constantly aware of my need for dependence of God in this area of my life and, therefore, reminds me of my dependence on Him in every area of my life.

Think of a battle that you face. It may be weight but it may be something totally different — some temptation that you just struggle with on a daily basis. Are you allowing this to develop humility in your life and draw you closer to your Savior? Or are you stuck in a pit of despair?

While I seem to lack lasting victory in this area of weight in my life–at least for now, I am thankful that at least something good can come out of it, if I choose to look at the battle from a different perspective.

Removing the Junk

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I have a feeling my husband might be a little upset with me today. Well, let me begin at the beginning.

I have spent the last year or so on a very slow and arduous journey. It has taken me to the highest mountain and to the lowest valley. I have felt the exhilaration of success and the sting of defeat.

Most of you know I am not an athlete, so you probably are wondering what in the world I am talking about?

It’s called Weight Loss.

Ugh.

Can anyone relate? My journey is so slow that when I went to the doctor in April, I had lost only 18 pounds in one year. But, as I figure it, that is 18 pounds less than I weighed a year ago. That is 18 less pounds that do not need to be carried by my bad knees. 18 less pounds of fat surrounding and impeding my internal organs. 18 less pounds. I consider that somewhat of a success. At least for someone who can’t run anymore.

I do have lots to share about the past year. If you are discouraged in your weight loss journey by physical limitations or simply hopelessness, please contact me privately. I am not ready to share anything publicly yet, as I have such a long way to go.

But, on to why my husband may be upset with me…

So my doctor’s visit in April was a wonderful success and then I let my guard down. Everything was crazy busy with the wedding, I was doing great, and…

I got lazy.

This morning I stepped on the scales with great trepidation. And, rightly so. I had gained several of those pounds back.

I thought over the last few weeks and realized that there was a good reason I was seeing that number on the scales. I had completely left my guard down and had brought junk food back into my home. It’s also ice cream season and I have a hard time resisting ice cream. I had grown apathetic and had not exercised as regularly as I should.

The funny thing is that all of this bad stewardship of my body wasn’t making me feel better in any way. Nope. All that extra sugar and fat was making me feel lethargic and gross.

As I was thinking about that this morning, I decided that today is a new day! I am going to feed my body well. But I was also fully aware that as I progress through the day, this bright morning resolution was likely to dim considerably as the ice cream would start calling my name from the depths of the freezer.

Something drastic had to be done.

And so I gathered the container of Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream that I can’t resist and the half-eaten bags of Dieffenbach’s chips and threw them away.

You see, I know what I can and cannot resist and those two things were making it difficult for me to continue on my path  to health and wellness. Enough is enough and they had to be removed. Now, my husband does not like when I throw away food. Do you think it is okay if, in this one instance, I went ahead and did it, anyway? I think so, since I am pretty sure me being healthy is more important than a few dollars wasted.

The ridiculous thing is that when I bought these items at the grocery store, I knew full well that they would be difficult for me to eat in moderation. And so a wise person wouldn’t have purchased them in the first place. But I had this insatiable desire for sugar and salt and decided to completely ignore the voice in my head that told me to walk by them in the store.

Our spiritual lives are so similar, aren’t they? We know full well what sins we can or cannot resist. And yet we flirt with them, thinking somehow that we won’t reap the sorry consequences of our choices. But a spiritual diet of all junk food is just as devastating to our spiritual health. For we always reap the consequences of our actions. I can’t eat a regular diet of junk food without reaping the consequences of extra weight. It’s the same in the spiritual realm.

And so we need to carefully think about what we are allowing in our lives and discard anything that is keeping us from being the healthiest we can be spiritually.

And, just like eating a good, balanced diet helps me to feel so much better and be my most healthiest self, so feeding ourselves biblical truth through Bible study, solid preaching, and books that help us understand scripture correctly helps us to be our healthiest spiritual self.

And so let’s think about our lives. What do we need to discard today? What is keeping us from growing like we could be? Perhaps it’s a favorite tv show or an addiction to movies (get rid of cable)? Or an insatiable desire to buy stuff (cut up your credit cards)? We all struggle with different things. But we all struggle. Let’s be fully conscious of the things that are keeping us from being the healthiest we can be–in all areas of our lives!

If-Then

BW

I never, ever leave my car windows open. It has been as much a habit to close the windows as to unbuckle my seatbelt when I get out of my car. And so when we were awakened by a deafening crack of thunder the other night, the only thing on my mind was my computers. As I lay in my bed listening to the heavy rains gush down I had one thought: Should I go unplug them? In the end, I decided not to, as the worst seemed to be over and I just didn’t want to cross the dark parking lot in the heavy rain to reach the office computers.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped outside the next morning to find my car windows down and the car seats absolutely drenched! I thought back to the day before and I remembered that I had come home from Sam’s Club with a ton of groceries that needed unloaded. I had gotten distracted and had forgotten to close the windows.

But there are certain natural laws we cannot change. Such as: IF I do not want wet car seats, THEN I must close the windows.

I can’t wish this away or pray it away or change it. It is what it is.

It reminds me a little of a conversation I had with a young lady one time. She expressed to me her deep desire for a godly husband and her discouragement at finding one. However, when looking at her Facebook page, I saw her pictured in bikinis and drinking alcohol. She did not give the impression that she was a godly young woman. But here is the thing–

IF you desire a godly husband, THEN you must be a godly woman.

I think so often we want good things, but we aren’t willing to take the necessary steps to get what we want. This young lady certainly isn’t alone. I, myself, have been guilty of this many times. For instance–

IF I desire a healthy body, THEN I must eat right and exercise.

IF I desire to know God, THEN I must study His Word.

IF I desire to have a clean and organized house, THEN I must be willing to clean and organize.

We can’t get around these natural laws, but we sure do try, don’t we? We want clean houses without working, great bodies without effort, and a close relationship with God without trying. But all of these are impossible without taking the necessary steps.

I remember watching the show “Bewitched” an occasion or two when I was little. Seeing Sam twitch her nose made me slightly envious. Who wouldn’t want her ability to mold her circumstances to fulfill her desires without any effort on her part aside from a little wiggle of her nose? But, in case you haven’t figured this out already, that isn’t real.

We’d like to think it is with our positive thinking and selfish prayers, but the bottom line is that most times our goals just take good, old-fashioned hard work.

Of course, once in a great while, I guess there are exceptions. But I am not really sure I know of any.

No, if you want to know God, then you need to study His Word. If you want a healthy body then you need to eat right and exercise, and if you want a clean house, you either need to either do it yourself or give up your hard-earned money and pay someone else to do it. Either way, these things are going to cost you something.

Scripture talks about this in a short little verse in 2 Thessalonians (3:10) For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

We live in a world that wants everything for free. We want the whole world but we don’t want to pay anything for it.

This applies to jobs, finances, health, raising children, our family relationships…actually, almost all areas of life.

I think it is important that we examine our lives in light of this thought. Am I willing to do the work necessary to have the things I desire and then leave the rest in the Lord’s hands?  Of course, sometimes godly women do not find godly husbands. Sometimes healthy bodies get diseased. But, outside of the things we can’t control, are we trying our best or are we just throwing our hands up in the air and crying “this is impossible!” because we aren’t willing to do the work?

It is certainly something to think about, isn’t it?

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom: The Pledge

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What are our rights as Christians? Do we have the right to a beautiful home and two cars? Do we have the right to have a healthy family? Do we have the right to be happy?

Perhaps most of Christians’ heartaches, contentions, and worries are born because of this thinking that we have special rights.

I came across this pledge the other day, written by a Sunday School teacher named Russell Kelfer. He was a Bible teacher at Wayside Chapel in San Antonio, Texas for over 20 years and has left us many lessons, poems, and stories. But perhaps nothing he wrote is so convicting as this Christian Pledge. Could you sign this?

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Having been born into the kingdom of God, I do hereby acknowledge that God’s purchase of my life included all the rights and control of that life for all eternity.

I do further acknowledge that He has not guaranteed me to be free from pain or to have success or prosperity. He has not guaranteed me perfect health. He has not guaranteed me perfect parents. He has not guaranteed me perfect children. He has not guaranteed me the absence of pressures, trials, misunderstandings, or persecution.

What He has promised me is eternal life. What He has promised me is abundant life. What He has promised me is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, and self-control. He has given me all of Himself in exchange for the rights to my life.

Therefore I acknowledge this day the relinquishment of all my rights and expectations, and humbly ask Him by His grace to replace these with a grateful spirit, for whatever in His wisdom He deems to allow for my life.

 
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