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Posts tagged ‘Christian’

The One you Feed

Alert- this  post features Christian thought.

So our Sunday school lesson this morning is on Psalm 119:9-16. I was struck by these verses, “9  How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!”

I was thinking how hard it is for me to memorize bible verses, and what it means to hide God’s word in your heart. It made me think about the story of the Two Wolves, an old Indian legend about the war in the human heart being a war between two wolves, one good and one bad, and the one that wins is the one you feed. Reading God’s word is feeding the good wolf.

I don’t know how many of you know about neural plasticity, the idea that our brain actually reshapes as we learn, a blessing since we don’t grow new neurons, and damage does occur. When we learn things, our brain makes new physical connections between the neurons. When someone has a stroke, other parts of their brain can “rewire” to take over for the damaged parts, making connections to cover those lost areas. We can see this happening for physical tasks, like walking, talking and feeding yourself. This also true of the more nebulous things like feelings, personality and remembering phone numbers.

This time of year is difficult for me, I get sad and maudlin. All the negatives in my life, from childhood to mistakes in raising my own children rear up and assault me in the emotionally charged atmosphere of holidays. Last night I did not allow those thoughts to take over, instead, I found the things that gave me pleasure, and focused on those. I have not had an alcoholic beverage in over 20 years, and I was musing on how quickly a bad mood  of such magnitude could arise as to cause fleeting thoughts of it to pass through. Through long experience I knew other choices to make, and made those instead, reinforcing the positive pathways in my brain.

Feelings come and go, we can stoke the good ones, and tamp down the negative ones. Our decision making ability is the one thing under our control. We can’t control emotions springing up, but, like water, we can channel those emotions so they can become positive things. We can choose what thoughts we allow, and where our thoughts will go. Thoughts are what trigger emotions. If you don’t believe me, just think about whether you turned the stove off, or if a bill is overdue!  If we spend time in God’s word, or around positive people, or reframe our experiences for the positive, we can remake our thoughts. Reframing means changing the context of a thought. For example, I can think “my friend didn’t call me because she is angry with me”, causing a cascade of negative feelings, or I can think “my friend didn’t call me, because like me, she is busy and had no reason to call”, causing no feeling. In other words, don’t go borrowing trouble.  If any of you are suffering from depression, I don’t mean to make it sound easy, I have been there, I know you need help getting a foothold on that ability to reframe.

Which brings me to my last thought. Every time I read about a person changing their life, it comes down to making up their mind to do so.  But most of them had tried changing more than once. Most of the people who succeeded had failed previous attempts. I really think it is like Dumbo’s magic feather. For those that don’t know, Dumbo was an elephant whose enormous ears allowed him to fly, but he didn’t believe he could, so his friend gave him a “magic feather” and convinced him it gave him the power of flight. I think most of us just need a magic feather. You have to have faith that you aren’t in this alone, that you can do what it is you are attempting, and that it will work. Without that faith, attempts fail. I had tried to quit smoking numerous times before I succeeded. Someone said to me “don’t smoke, even if your butt falls off”, and that thought carried me through. It reframed the situation for me. Instead of thinking “can I get through stressful situations without a cigarette?”, it became “nothing is more important than quitting.”

Of course, as a Christian, I believe God is the ultimate object to have faith in. If anyone is familiar with 12 step therapy, you know that they frame it as a higher power, which can be anything outside yourself. Sometimes you need a “subcategory” of something to have faith in, like the fact that others have done what you are doing, or that the process is worth it.

I wrote all of this to pass on what it has taken me years to learn, and what benefits me on a daily basis, as someone who has suffered from anxiety and depression, who did go down the road of addiction and come back. I hope my explanation is clear, and that you might get some benefit from it.

Does God Care What we Eat?

Alert! For those for whom Christian conversation is offensive, quit reading or be prepared to be offended

From time to time, when I talk about nutrition, I get a backlash of “But who would want to  eat that stuff” or “But I hate vegetables.” I think this is sad. As I am a Christian, I believe food is from God, and how we eat directly is correlated to how God would like us to live. My purpose of this post is to demonstrate that, and to possibly persuade the anti-health food crowd to reconsider.

To begin, God has told us what to eat in His word:

pretty veggiesGe 1:29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

We were not given meat to eat until after the flood:

Ge 9:1 ¶ And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.

3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

frighttened lynx

The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth.

I would take this to mean that vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains were our original food, later, we added meat. Thus, I would say that the modern injunction to eat mostly plants, but not necessarily to be vegetarian, would be in line with God’s word.

Daniel reemphasizes this with his reluctance to eat the rich food of the king’s court:

Da 1:5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.

6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

8 ¶ But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Da 1:12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.

13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.

15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.

16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Mmm-mmm-love that “pulse”. (Actually translated as grain.)

What have we done with this?

We have taken the food God created, and replaced it with ersatz food, fake food. Some packages you read have no real food items in them. God gave us the intelligence to do this. He also gave us the intelligence to realize that this is harmful. If we know something is harmful and we do it anyway, what are we saying to the One who created us.

Ro 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Ro 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

What is the purpose of the food you eat?

Yes, there is a social aspect, and food is tied to culture and emotion. But foods primary purpose is to nourish our bodies, to give us strength and health. If your food isn’t doing that, try doing it God’s way. All the most popular diets that work come back to the same principles- eat real, whole food. Eat lots of vegetables, some fruit and grain, less of milk and meat. If you truly hate vegetables, try some of the smoothie recipes out there. Grind them up and add them to your meatloaf, add more to your soups, or casseroles. Choose foods based on their health benefits

If you are at the doctor’s office, and he is saying: 1. You need to lose weight. 2. Your blood pressure is too high. 3. You have type II diabetes. 4. You have metabolic syndrome. 5. You suffer from constipation or other bowel issues, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what you are eating and why. Look at all the plants God put on this earth, and try to fit more of them into your diet, without smothering them in oil, or deep fat frying them. Do you have trouble with heart burn? How many food related medicines are you taking?

Php 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose god is the stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, whose minds are fixed on the things of the earth.

If taste is the overriding factor in your choices, ignoring the health effects of those choices, maybe it’s time to ask “Is this really how God wants me to live?”

BTW, the answer to the question “Does God care what we eat?” is yes and no. Yes, he wants us to treat our bodies with respect, and eat the food he gave us. No:

Mt 6:25 ¶ Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Lu 12:22 ¶ And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

Choices

streambed that movedI was thinking about choices the last two days. It is politically incorrect to talk about sin, they are “bad choices”. Some choices are a blip in the road, like trying to dam a stream with your hand, the water just runs around, back the way it wanted to go. Other choices mover the stream bed to a whole new location, changing the land around it and being changed by the land.

I was thinking about it since I am involved in a lot of activities that resulted from one choice or another, and choices leading to choices, leading me places I never thought I would go. I said yes to one karate class and got hooked. I said I would go to a Women In The Outdoors event, now I’m on the committee. I participated in Relay for Life and ran 5 miles for the first time. I prayed one little prayer, accepting Jesus as my Savior and became a Christian. Now I teach Sunday school and have a very different, far happier life than the one before.

Even those “one little blip” choices add up. I was people watching at Relay, and I was a bit dismayed. While we were walking or running, most of the tents were raising money by selling sweets. Many of the people there were heavy. Most of the heavy people weren’t doing much walking. Eating processed food has been linked to cancer. You don’t get heavy and out of shape in one choice. It takes making choices every day, some of which are hard. Moral choices are the same. Some of these scoundrels on tv didn’t get there in one choice, it was all the little ones that added up.

So what choices are you making today? Are they leading you where you want to go? Is it time to reassess? If you choose to say “I do” it leads to life long commitments and obligations. You don’t know whether that means joy or heartbreak in the long run. Slightly less momentous is where you will work, or what work you will do. When you make these choices, you can’t always foresee where they will take you. However, if you choose the side of right and good, generally you will get right and good results. I don’t know anyone who chose Christ as was sorry they did so.  I don’t know anyone who picked up a pack of smokes that wasn’t sorry. Some things are guesses, some things are fairly certain bets. What are you betting on?

Just Venting

Indulge me for a moment. I have probably written about this before, but it really bothers me. To begin, I joined a discussion of breakfast on facebook, bemoaning what people consider breakfast food. I was thinking about that this morning, and it brought our church’s fellowship time to mind.

In our church, between the two services, we have a fellowship time where we serve what amounts to breakfast. It is largely donated, but we do buy some bread and coffee. What is donated is often the worst things anyone should be eating. Cookies, cakes, donuts, and assorted pastries. We had some discussions about it, especially since we had a weight loss class going in church. The larger consensus was that it was up to people to police themselves, and make their own choices, rather than ask people to not bring goodies.

I don’t think that makes sense. Our church would never have alcohol at any of our events. Not because we think it is evil, but it is the concept of the weaker brethren, so many people have trouble with it, and the evil that brings to them and others. How is offering an overabundance of sweets different? So many people have trouble with over eating, that leads to physical evil, rather than spiritual. How is causing physical misery any different than causing mental and spiritual misery? Almost no one has will power in the face of food. If you wave one of my favorite treats in my face, I will eat it. It appears to me that we are enticing people to overeat.  I see some of these kids that are already bordering on obese with their plates piled with goodies. How is our behavior helping them?

One of the other rationalizations that is being used is that one meal a week isn’t going to make that much difference. Those with problems will still overeat the rest of the week, so why deny the rest, or make a big deal of it? Again, I would argue, try making that argument with alcohol. Or try this: “Oh, kids will get cigarettes somewhere, I might as well let them smoke.” Also, just because you are not overweight, doesn’t mean you should be eating garbage.

picture equating cupcakes to cigarettes

How do you see it?

I was listening to “Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone” this afternoon, and it made this post more fitting, in my mind. They were interviewing a women who had gastric bypass surgery. She said she was addicted to food. Her experience was heart wrenching. Should we make things harder for people like that? Granted, we all like sweets, and people with food addictions cannot avoid food. It isn’t like staying out of a bar. But wouldn’t a responsible and prudent action be to offer more nutritious, less enticing choices? Put out a tiny amount of sweets, or none. Breads are delicious, and better than cake. We do offer some healthier choices, but with the abundance of tantalizing goodies, who can resist?

I hope that anyone reading this will comment. Obviously, most people disagree with me, or else behavior would change. I welcome your efforts to change my mind. Then I won’t feel so aggrieved by behavior I can do nothing about. Am I making too much of this? Or am I tying the physical and spiritual together incorrectly?

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