Eating and Exercising God’s Way

From the moment my daughter announced her wedding date, my mind started turning. Surely, this would be just the incentive I needed to spur on my weight loss. I grew excited by the prospect of having a really great reason to lose weight.

But week after week after week passed by and I could never go more than two or three days of “eating right” before I’d just cave. I’ve never been skinny but these past few years have really been a struggle, as my age, the craziness of the past two years, and my thorough enjoyment of food are a really really bad combination.

A month or so before the wedding, my goal of being a thin and attractive mother-of-the-bride started to fade from the realm of possible and became the impossible. I told myself all kinds of things, such as: “The day isn’t about me, anyway,” and “so many women my age have this problem” but it didn’t really help with the deep disappointment that reverberated in my soul every time I looked in a mirror that day. And when the photos came–well, as is often the case–they looked even worse than the mirror.

This was just not how I had hoped to look on my daughter’s wedding day.

But, you know, I’ve been thinking about this whole subject for a long, long time. As I’ve traveled along in this world beside both slender and heavy people; athletic-looking and comfy-plump looking; overweight, just-right, and too-skinny people, I’ve come to understand something important in this discussion on eating and exercising–

You cannot tell a person’s relationship with food and exercise by their weight.

We’ve all run into those people who can eat junk food all they want and never gain a pound. Are they more godly because of this? We’ve also run into those people who seem to gain two pounds for each fry they splurge on (you may even feel like that’s you!). Do those few extra pounds indicate disobedience to scripture? What about the people that put fitness ahead of God and their families? Is this good or right? I hope the answers to these questions is obvious.

So this brings us to the fact that we must understand that this question of eating and exercising goes so much deeper than how someone looks. SO. MUCH. DEEPER.

Perhaps some reflection on the questions below would be helpful for all of us–no matter what our weight. There are some things we should all think about when it comes to food and fitness.

I’ve been working through this for what seems like my whole adult life. I have struggled so to find peace. And this has led me to ask myself some really important questions:

What is my motive to lose weight/be healthy?

How does it look to please God with eating and exercising?


I don’t actually have the answers to this yet but I have learned a few things (or, at least, am in the process of learning these things)–

In regards to the first question: What is my motive?

• If I want to be thin for my own pride’s sake (to impress, to draw attention, to look better than others), that’s not the right reason.

• If I want to be healthy, that could be the right reason–if I want to be healthy for the right reason.

• If I want to be healthy in order to please and serve the Lord and those He has put in my life–then this is the right reason.


I’ve also learned some answers regarding the second question: How do I please God in this area of my life?

• There aren’t good foods and bad foods.

• It’s more about moderation and wisdom than it is about avoidance of certain foods or entire food groups or spending hours on a treadmill or at the gym.

• Consistent self-control and intentionality regarding eating and exercising–day by day, step by step– is so key. The latest fad diet or running a marathon might work…but these extremes rarely yield lasting results that keep us focused on the real reason we want to be as healthy as we are able to be.


God doesn’t say a whole about weight in His Word but we can gather a few things about this area of our lives from the following verses (this list is by no means exhaustive)–

Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit. (Proverbs 25:16)

We learn from this verse that there is nothing wrong with eating sweets– just don’t overdo it!

Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags(Proverbs 23:20-21)

So we learn here that we must avoid gluttony (excessive eating or drinking). Some self-examination is probably helpful in determining what excess eating looks like for us personally.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (I Corinthians 10:14)

This verse reminds us not to give eating and exercising a wrong priority in our lives. (Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 9:24-27 that a physical runner receives a perishable crown, but the race we run as believers yields an imperishable crown. How important to remember that we must keep our spiritual race the priority!)

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

It is important that we discern truth from error as health and fitness movements sweep over our cultures. Is this practice, routine, fitness philosophy, song I’m exercising to–are these things compatible with being a Christian? It’s too much to get into here, but it is safe to say that much occultism has swept into the homes of Christians through this area of fitness and even in how we eat (see here for an example of how it’s influenced fitness and here for a way it is seeping into how we eat.)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

We know that instead of eating when we are anxious we should, instead, turn to prayer. The answer for anxiety isn’t in food, it’s in keeping our mind stayed on God (Isaiah 26:3). How funny that some of us (me, for example) turn to food when we are anxious–as if that will help at all. Emotional eating is a result of not trusting God fully for the present life we live and the days that lie ahead. It’s a lifelong journey putting this into practice for those of us that struggle with this–but we must keep working at it for it is a command: Do not be anxious about anything. That’s what it says. And so we must learn to trust and pray instead of eat.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

Here we see that we are the temple of God. We should treat our bodies as such, eating in moderation and with self-control and keeping ourselves as healthy as is possible. Of course, ultimately, this is in the Lord’s hands so we never want to believe that we can avoid disease and death by doing certain things. While this may certainly help we mustn’t count on this. We all know the healthy runner who has a heart attack or the health nut who gets cancer. These things are in God’s sovereignty and, ultimately, we must surrender our health to the Lord.

 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

and this one, too–

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

From these verses we women (in particular) learn perhaps the most important lesson of all when it comes to this topic of weight: We don’t want to be consumed with what we look like. If we are known for anything, may it be that we fear the Lord. May it be for our service to Him. Our top priority should always be seeking the Lord.

The world tells us what we should look like. But the Lord obviously doesn’t agree or there would be a verse like this in the Bible about it–such as “Thou shalt be thin all the days of your life” or “May there not be found an overweight brother or sister among you.”

Please don’t hear me saying it’s okay to be an unhealthy weight. The Bible teaches us to take care of our bodies. But, in doing so, it is so important that we have a biblical perspective on this: It’s about balance and pleasing the Lord. It’s not about what others think of us or our obsession with being the best-looking 30, 50, or 70 year old around.

So, yeah…

I obviously struggle in this area of my life. I am still such a work “in progress” and most times I don’t feel like there is much progress. Honestly, this is probably one of the most challenging areas of my life.

I hesitated to share this here…

I know assumptions are made when I share something so personal. Sometimes condescension or ridicule are in the thoughts of those reading, even if they are never spoken. This is a risk I take with this kind of post.

I have chosen to take this risk because I wonder if there is someone else out there like me? Someone who is working through the eating and exercising question. Perhaps today you just need to know that you are not alone. I am right there with you–looking to please the Lord in this area of food and fitness and trying to discern just what that looks like from God’s Holy Word.



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.




Upside Down and Turned Around


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.

Wednesday Wisdom: The Pledge


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?


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.

Your signature here

The Quest to Find the Perfect Jeans

Disclaimer: This post is for women only. While men may gladly read it, I have my doubts that any of them have ever had a difficult time finding a pair of jeans that fits!


I think I was on my 100th pair of jeans (okay…I may be slightly exaggerating, but it certainly felt that way!) Most of the styles I liked weren’t available in my size. If they just happened to have my size, they didn’t fit. Once again, I despaired over the extra pounds hugging my body and berated myself for my lack of discipline. I gave up and dejectedly walked out of the store. I went home discouraged.

That evening I went online and ordered three or four pairs of jeans in my size and even a couple in a size bigger–just in case.  I excitedly carried the box up to my room when it arrived. I had high hopes. Surely one of these would fit!

Imagine my discouragement when not one of them fit right. They were either too small or too large or gapped at the waist or were too baggy at the crotch.  I threw them all back in the box to return to the store and decided to just give up my search.

I shared my dilemma with my mom and she suggested I try Target. She told me she likes their jeans. I hadn’t thought of them before. I figured what did I have to lose?

And, so, on Friday, when I had the opportunity to get to a Target, I made one last-ditch effort to find a pair of jeans. I found seven pairs that were in my size and took them back to the dressing room.  I had little success with the first five pairs and they lay in disarray around me.  I sighed heavily and resigned myself to another fruitless attempt of finding a pair of jeans.

I pulled on the sixth pair of jeans and buttoned them. I did a double-take. I stared at myself in the mirror. Not only did they fit, but I actually liked how they looked on my body.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I left the dressing room with one pair of jeans to buy. I still felt discouraged about how I looked, but at least I had found one pair.

I heard yesterday that only 2% of women like their bodies the way they are. That means 98% of us don’t. I confess I am definitely one of the 98%. Why is it that so many of us are unhappy?

Well, of course, weight is a big issue for many of us. But there are other things that we pick out, too. Things like big feet or big noses. Hair that is too fine or too curly. Calves that are too thick or too thin. You see, we have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the world’s definition of beautiful. And I am right there with you.

We judge ourselves by the world’s standards, or shall I say Hollywood’s standards, and come up short. Very short.

But I am not going to sit here and write that we are all beautiful, as seems to be the typical message of the day. We aren’t all beautiful.  Not really.

I would suggest we need to go a different direction. I think we, instead, need to stop worrying about if we are beautiful. Oh, we should take the greatest care possible to look nice and to be healthy. Don’t get me wrong. We are Christians and want to present ourselves as such. We are also stewards of our bodies and are responsible to take good care of them.

BUT it ends there. Our obsessive concern about how we look is not from God. It just isn’t. It is a self-absorbed, me-centered thing that distracts us from being the best Christians we can be.

When I was looking at myself in the mirror trying on jeans, I never gave one thought to what people would think of Christ if I bought these. I was thinking only of myself and how I looked. I wasn’t standing there thanking God for my body, but instead, I was complaining to myself. About myself. Under my breath, of course.

As I write this, I find myself being very convicted! I am so self-centered and focused on me. There is no better time for that to surface than when I am in a dressing room trying on clothes.

Some of us are gluttons for punishment and keep trying things on, hoping that we will eventually feel good about ourselves in something. Others of us totally avoid dressing rooms if at all possible. We don’t shop for ourselves. Ever.

But no one is going to look good in everything. We’re just not. But we think we should. We are focused on a standard that isn’t possible for most of us. We want to look a certain way, but that way takes time that we don’t have or requires us to grow longer legs or to have a different type of hair and so we find ourselves with a dilemma, don’t we? We can’t look that way. But we think we should.

Perhaps it is time to start thanking the Lord for how we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and then stop thinking about ourselves at all and go about the business of our Savior.

Instead of worrying about how people think we look, let’s worry about how they think we act, and speak. Let’s worry about if they think we love them.

Sometimes I get all mixed up and distracted and focus on things that aren’t important and forget the things that are important. My quest for jeans showed that to me so clearly. I was guilty of doing just that. I have some work to do. But at least I don’t have to visit another dressing room for awhile, since I did find that one, elusive pair of jeans!

Eating the Tostada

As you probably already know, I just recently got back from Guatemala. We had a wonderful time, but it was also a time of stepping out of my comfort zone in many ways. While I may appear adventurous for even going to some of you, I realized just how fearful I really am. It has to do with a tostada and the courage it took for me to eat it.

It was Sunday night. We had just spent a fascinating afternoon and evening with the families of the mountainside ghetto. I had been impressed with the Guatemalans and their incredible neatness despite their poverty-stricken conditions. They obviously worked hard and made use of what they had in creative ways. Their faces showed a warm welcome for the “gringos” that had come for a visit.

We had delivered some food and supplies to four families that were in desperate need and in each home we had heard each family’s story. Their stories were filled with things like not being able to find work and mud slides taking some of their homes with them. And yet, they smiled. Their pride and gracious hospitality in the midst of such dearth was a wonderful sight to see.

After we had climbed up and down the concrete pathways and steep steps, we had ended up at the bottom of the mountain side for a soccer game (gringos against the Guatemalans – who do you think won??) and two big candy-filled pinatas for the kids. We tried to talk to the people around us as best we could. I uttered short phrases like “¿Como se llama?” (what’s your name?) and  “¿Cuantos anos?” (How old are you?) Not speaking the language was a considerable detriment and I found myself wishing that I had worked harder at re-learning the Spanish language before going.

As we sat and watched the soccer game, a young lady brought us tostadas covered with something that looked like guacamole. Now I am fairly adventurous, but eating something that comes from a ghetto where I don’t think hygiene is all that important is WAY outside my comfort zone, so I said a polite “No gracias”. She smiled at me and walked on. But a few minutes later, one of my team members said that our Guatemalan team leader had said we should never turn down anything they offer, as it is considered very rude in their culture.

I had a quick conversation in my mind with myself. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I thought of the travel magazines I read that highly recommend some of the street stands around the world for some of the best ethnic food. Surely, this couldn’t be a whole lot worse than a street stand? I didn’t want to end up sick, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to offend the woman who kindly offered it to me. I was aware of the sacrifice it took to even offer us gringos food. And, let’s be honest, when would I ever have the chance to eat a guacamole covered tostada in a Guatemalan ghetto ever again? And so I put my doubts aside and I bit into one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. I don’t even like guacamole – at all. But this guacamole was absolutely wonderful.  I ate it with relish.

And, surprisingly enough, no one got sick from the guacamole covered tostadas. Afterwards, as I shared my doubts with our leader, he assured us that he would not allow us to be offered anything that is not safe. I did feel better upon hearing that, but to tell you the truth, I felt so gratified that I had conquered my fear and stepped out in faith to eat something that I normally would not have touched.

Perhaps this happens in our lives in so many more ways than eating a strange food in the midst of a ghetto. Why do we so often let fear keep us from being our best selves?  Why are we so scared to try something new or different–something that may really enrich our lives or, even more importantly, help us to become more like Christ? So often we hang in our comfortable zone, keeping our distance from anything that looks slightly threatening or out of our routine.

Eating the tostada may not seem like a big deal at all for some of you, but, for me, it was a step of faith. Sure, it was just a little thing, but sometimes we grow in our faith by conquering small fears before we can take on larger ones. Fear can quickly strangle us from living life in the most fulfilling way that God would have for us. It is so important that we don’t let it hinder us from doing God’s will and enjoying the blessings that so often come with that choice!

Who Do You Look Like?

When my son was just a little boy, he used to play little league baseball. One day, as I was chatting on the sidelines with one of the moms, she said something like this, “Oh, I know who you look like! I have been trying to think of who you look like and now I have figured it out!” I looked at her, very curious to hear who she thought I resembled. Her next words could have knocked me over with a feather.

“You look just like Cindy Crawford!”

What?? That is the first (and last!) time that anyone has ever compared me to a beautiful model.  But I certainly felt honored. I knew this was a situation where she had no need to flatter or impress me, so I knew she had said it sincerely.

As I remembered this incident the other day, I thought about how my heart’s desire shouldn’t be for people to tell me I look like Cindy Crawford (or any other well-known, gorgeous woman) but, instead, to tell me that I look like Jesus.

Now, while I will never resemble Jesus physically, as he is a man from the middle east, I can resemble him by my actions. As we grow in Christ, we should grow more and more like Him.

Stop and take a minute to think about your life. I know for my own life, there are many areas in which I haven’t resembled Jesus at all.

Here are a few areas for us to think about —

1. Do I look like Jesus in how I love others? Look, anyone can feed orphans or go on a mission trip. I am not talking about the socially acceptable “love for others”, I am talking about the love for others we show in our everyday world.  The reactions and choices we make around our families and in our daily living. When a spouse needs some help and we are lying comfortably on the sofa, do we get up? When there is an interruption to a favorite TV show, do we grow quickly frustrated? When we are in a long line at the store, do we give the clerk an angry look or shower her with frustrated words? If someone criticizes you, do you grow defensive or hold a grudge? All of these are just normal, everyday occurrences, where we have the opportunity to look like Jesus…or not.

2. Do I look like Jesus in what I choose to do with my time? This question covers a lot of ground, doesn’t it? Would Jesus spend so much time on _________? (you fill in the blank with your favorite, time-consuming hobby or pastime). Would Jesus spend so many hours doing this, if there is no eternal value? Of course, there is nothing wrong with hobbies, but we do need to keep it all balanced. It also covers this question: do I spend my precious hours on entertainment that will make others think of Jesus? Or do I waste hours and hours on movies, video games, and listening to music that is against everything my precious Savior stands for?

3. Do I look like Jesus in the area of self-disicpline? This is a challenging question that encompasses two big areas: money and food. I covered the question of food in my recent post entitled The Sin No One Wants to Talk About, so I will move on to the other area– money. This is a challenging one. Money is one of those things where we can hide our true state of affairs. In this age of credit and debt, no one really knows how anyone is doing financially until they completely crash and burn. But, whether we make a little or a lot, we need to ask ourselves if we look like Jesus in how we spend our money. Are we focused on the here and now or are we focused on the eternal? Jesus was very clearly focused on the eternal, which is clear in scripture. So, in order to grow more like Christ, my priorities should be the same.

4. Do I look like Jesus in the words I speak? Words are so powerful. They can cut to the core. I have always thought that the old adage “sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me,” to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. Word do hurt– dreadfully. Whether we are talking about someone else behind his back (otherwise known as gossip) or are short-tempered and unkind to someone’s face, words are one of the quickest ways to tell if we resemble Jesus.


I don’t know about you, but I see much room for growth in many areas of my own life. In fact, I feel like the older I get, the more work I see ahead of me. But when I look back, I also see that I have come so far. And so, I will keep on going. I know I may not look like Cindy Crawford anymore — it is my guess that, to most people, I never did in the first place — but oh, how I hope I resemble Jesus more and more as I grow older.

I Peter 2:5-11

 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The sin no one wants to talk about

I have been so convicted lately of something in my life that isn’t quite right. Oh, it’s not out of control, but it’s not quite right. I know in my heart that I haven’t surrendered this area of my life to my Lord and Savior. It’s one of those things that none of us want to admit.

The area I am talking about is food. And lest you say, “Oh, I don’t have a weight issue,” might I remind you that this has nothing to do with weight, but instead about your relationship with food? I have seen skinny women who eat like a pig. I have seen healthy women that the world would call overweight. I have seen women who look like a stick obsess over every bite they put in their mouth. I have seen overweight women who fill their bodies with fat, sugar, and carbs, leaving little room for anything healthy…and I have seen extremely thin women who do the same thing.

And, lest I forget, this is not just about women. Men have issues with food, too.  For some of us, this sin is so obvious in the extra weight we carry around. Or perhaps it’s obvious in our unhealthy thinness.  But, then again, let’s remember that God made every body differently, and so this isn’t about judging anyone else, because it is a very private and personal area of our lives so that only we can know personally if this is an issue for us. And that means as you read this, you can only think about yourself. What is your relationship with food?

For many of us food is our comfort, strength, and go-to remedy. But for some of us our ability to control what we eat becomes our source of security and stability in our lives. And then there are those of us who simply love to eat and so we do, giving no thought to the consequences of our big appetites.

Gluttony. When’s the last time you heard that word? Or how about the word “idol” in regards to our relationship with food? So many of us Christians have an unhealthy relationship with food, that we dare not talk about this subject too much.

It’s so easy to talk about things like anger and gossip and slander. It’s easy to preach about stealing and lying and cheating. But self-control in regards to our food? Boy, that hits right at the heart of most of us “good” Christians, doesn’t it?

And maybe I am alone here. But I realized, yet again, that I am to surrender EVERY area of my life to Jesus. I can’t pick and choose. I can’t tell Him that I don’t cheat or lie or steal, so I will eat how much of whatever I want, thank you very much. It just doesn’t work like that. If you are saved, then you are no longer yours, but have dedicated to live your life for Christ and Christ alone. This encompasses everything.

Another thing I have realized as I am working my way through this is that there are no bad foods. Okay, let me take that back– highly processed and chemically generated foods probably classify as bad foods. But it is not wrong to eat dessert or to have fries or a doughnut. In the Bible days, and even in many poor countries yet today, bread is the staple.  Carbs are not evil. God has given us good things, and we should enjoy them.

My problem is I want to enjoy them too much. There is always a special event or a birthday or a bad day or a great day–anything I can do to rationalize an extra snack. It’s about moderation.

And, while there aren’t necessarily bad foods, there are definitely good foods. There are many benefits from eating our fruits and veggies and even most meats.

But this isn’t a blogpost about nutrition. This is about our relationship with food. And, once again, there are women (of which I am not one) whose relationship with food becomes an obsession. They are so concerned about not gaining weight or with how they look, that self and the control not to eat becomes the idol. It goes so far beyond weight or the perception of others. This is a heart issue.

Personally, I find myself looking very forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb mentioned in Revelation 19, where I will be able to eat to my heart’s content, without any concern for the food’s nutrition (I guess it will be nutritionally perfect, anyway?) or the damage it will do to my hips! But, until then, I have a responsibility to have a healthy and balanced relationship with the food I eat. It is a never-ending battle that rages within me, but I cannot quit…and neither can you.

I Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

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