New Year’s Resolutions….lose weight, exercise, eat better. Many people start out the year to grand ideas on how to improve their health. With all the trends and diets out there, how do you know what to do?
For our family, it started 7 years ago with clean eating. We began our food journey by removing artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives. Some of the common offenders are: Red #40, Yellow #5, BHA, BHT, TBHQ, vanillin, sucralose, and aspartame.
With such a push from the medical community to monitor calories, fat and cholesterol, it can be easy to forget about the ingredients. However, I believe that this is the first thing to evaluate when making changes to how you eat.
Chemically-based ingredients saturate the food supply. Processed foods are more man-made than God-made. It is no wonder that our society has seen such a dramatic increase in auto-immune challenges, cancer, diabetes and other food-caused diseases in the past 30 years.
If you have been considering making changes to your eating habits, here are some things you can do:
1) Read the ingredients in the foods already in your pantry and fridge. Decide what can stay and what must go.
2) Stop buying it. Food doesn’t just magically appear at your house – find the self-control to just leave it at the store.
3) Make a list of the worst offenders and find suitable replacements right away. Don’t feel like you have to throw out all your food and immediately clean out your pantry. It might take you a couple of months (or more) to replace everything.
4) Locate where to buy the products you need. I usually have to go to 3 stores locally and order online to find everything. I also shop discount grocers and occasionally, a specialty health food store that is an hour away.
5) Look for the words “all natural.” You still need to read the ingredients list — more and more manufacturers are using this as a gimmick.
6) Compose a weekly menu. This will help you plan ahead to make fresh meals with clean ingredients rather than relying on ready-made boxed helpers.
7) Ditch the fast food. Sure, its convenient and your kids want it — but it’s full of artificial junk! Take few more minutes to get out of the car and go into a grocery store for a quick meal or snack. Consider planning ahead and packing snacks or meals.
8) Don’t let setbacks discourage you. Guilt over “cheating” is one of the main reasons people quit their diets. So, you caved and bought a sugary, yellow soda or that candy bar that was calling your name. Tomorrow is another day…you may even notice that it makes you feel bad and have the strength to say “no” the next time.
“Oh! how sure and safe is the inner life of the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine against it, that immortal principle must still exist, for He who gave it pledged His life for its preservation. An who ‘is He that shall harm you,’ when God is your protector?” – Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, November 18 Morning.
Devastation and destruction, whether caused by the forces of nature or our personal experiences, reap a toll on the human spirit. As I was reading my Bible and devotion this morning, it struck me that believers and non-believers alike go through similar life experiences, but Christians have the promise of God’s provision and protection.
Now many would want to believe that this means physical safety or that our perceived needs are always met, but God’s knowledge and vision is so much more powerful than our fallible, human concepts.
Specifically, God’s provision is the promise of salvation for the elect:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13, ESV
We can trust in God’s protection, that He will be glorified through us:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30, ESV
No matter what we humanly experience, God’s understanding and strength are infinite:
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:3-5, ESV
As I was reading 1 Corinthians 1:18-29 this morning, I was struck by how it applies so wholly to the climate of our modern society.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. ~1 Corinthians 1:18-21, ESV
Many politicians claim to be the wisest choice for office, but when we shine the light of God’s Word on their track record, political promises and moral values, do we find them to be a person seeking the Lord and His Will? A person whose policies hold up God’s Word and spiritual truths?
Chances are, each candidate falls short, as Romans 3:10 reminds us, “no one is good, no not one.”
So, how are we to know which candidate deserves our vote?
First, seek the Scriptures for answers. In my reading today, it became so clear to me that God’s definition of wisdom is often the opposite of what the world considers to be wise.
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; ~ 1 Corinthians 1:26-27, ESV
Second, prayerfully consider what God’s Word is revealing. Christians have the Holy Spirit as the Great Discerner.
9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, ESV
Unfortunately, many Christians disagree with the interpretation of Scripture. Because we know that God is orderly and not confusing by His very nature, (For God is not a God of confusion but of peace… 1 Corinthians 14:33, ESV) how can we explain some Christians claiming God supports one candidate and some claiming it is another?
Whether we like it or not, only one group can be right.
Finally, we cannot be swayed by emotion, caught up in the political frenzy and ad campaigns. Eventually, leaders, both political and spiritual, reveal their fallen nature. We can only put our hope in the Lord, trust His leading and seek to glorify Him in all our decisions, especially in our political choice.
15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. ~ 2 Peter 3:15-18, ESV
Eight years ago, I had just completed my Master’s degree in counseling; started a great job working as a career coach with local high school students under a Christian boss who supported my conservative values. My two daughters were 1 and 3, my husband, Kenny, worked full-time at the U.S. Post Office in our town and had just surrendered to the call to preach. We had a nice house in a neighborhood with lots of kids and other families our age. Our family joined a Baptist church with conservative, biblical teaching that had lots of great programs for our kids, even its own private school, and a place for my husband to receive the mentoring he needed as he answered God’s call on his life. Everything was fitting into place.
Then Kenny said, “I think we should homeschool.”
I was a relatively new Christian. My mother raised me with Christian teaching, but I never clearly understood my need for a Savior and the role of repentance until just before my 31st birthday (I’ll tackle my testimony in a future post). Things were changing fast. I had just gotten used to the idea that I would be a pastor’s wife, now Kenny and I were talking about homeschooling??? In the meantime, I read up on how to be a Christian wife, learning more about biblical submission and following my husband’s leadership. This was my first test.
In June 2006, I gave my final notice at my job and, for the first time as a wife and mother, began to stay at home full time.
Over the summer of 2006, we were also introduced to all-natural eating and the physical and mental benefits of doing so. We had suspected for some time that our oldest daughter’s behavioral issues were more than just normal, childhood antics. As a trained counselor, I knew the qualifying symptoms of ADHD and unofficially diagnosed her as such. We knew we did not want to medicate our daughter, so we turned to alternative methods of treatment – beginning with diet and supplements.
I started removing all the artificial ingredients from our home, reading labels more thoroughly while shopping and learning how to find the best deals on foods that fit our new lifestyle. What began for my daughter’s sake, in the end, has made us all healthier and more conscious of what we put into our bodies. I am ever thankful for how the Lord revealed to us how He created healthy bodies to be and how it frees us from many worldly chains, such as repeated doctor’s visits and prescription medications.
In the span of a year, we became a healthy, homeschooling, pastor’s family.
Many more changes and challenges were to come…