When Food Becomes an Idol

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Gentle Reader,

I hate it when people talk about what they aren’t eating.

I know that it’s good to consider what one puts into one’s body. I know that, as a Christian, it’s important that I take care of what has been given to me. I know that it’s not good to eat fast food all the time and that chocolate really isn’t a food group (though it should be). I don’t yet buy into the concept that I would have fun preparing meals from fresh ingredients, but I can appreciate the results when my husband does so.

But, honestly, I prefer to not think about food.

Maybe it’s because I flirted with an eating disorder in my younger years, but all the talk about what to eat and what not to eat that I hear drives me up the wall. I don’t see it as being focused on health. I know people who are genuinely health-conscious. They don’t talk about it all the time. They just do it. They don’t go on and on about how bad it is to eat that slice of cake. They just ask for a smaller slice or don’t have one and it’s not a big deal. They don’t look askance at someone who eats a burger for lunch. They don’t announce at regular intervals that they haven’t eaten ___________ since _____________. They are content in their choices and are content to allow others the same freedom.

There is a difference between being healthy and worshiping at the altar of health. Obsessive calorie-counting and meltdowns over the possible ingesting of non-organic fruit are a sign of having bought into a lie. Is it “better” or “smarter” to eat and cook a certain way? Maybe. Does that make a person “better than” or “smarter than” another? No.

That’s the problem I have. If someone wants to cut every ounce of fat, sugar, preservative, meat, whatever out their diet, that’s great. Good for him. If he wants to tell me about the changes he’s made and how he feels better, that’s fine, too. I may even take some of his tips and put them into practice. But if all he can talk about is what he doesn’t eat, then I’m turned off. There is a certain smugness as well as insecurity revealed in that. He wants to tell you that he’s better than you and he wants you to confirm it.

What I really wish is that someone would admit to being focused on being skinny, not on being healthy. Really, if all you’re eating at dinner is a few carrot sticks and some celery, and then you talk about how full you are, you’re not healthy. You’re driven to be thin. There is a difference.

Food is a idol if that’s what you train your intense focus and devotion on, whether it’s in bingeing or purging. Putting the label “health-conscious” on it doesn’t change that. I believe that God made food for us to enjoy as well as to nourish our bodies. You can’t enjoy a gift if you spend all your time complaining about the wrapping.

My journey to faith. (15)

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Think and Do

Action

Gentle Reader,

I am weary of the idea that one’s beliefs don’t really matter. How willfully and impossibly ignorant must a person be to buy into such a notion? Belief is directly exposed in action.

Take, for example, the beauty industry and its hold on women. Now, I am in no way against make-up and hair products. I quite happily use them most days of the week. However, there is a HUGE difference in using make-up to enhance the beauty that one believes exists versus using make-up to try an achieve a beauty that one does not believe exists.

Or look at the scores of people who never really clock out of work, staying connected at all times to their offices via their cell phones. There is a belief at play – if I just make more money, I’ll be happy; they can’t do this without me; work gives me meaning.

To say that only action matters is like thinking that a chicken alive when it’s head has been cut off just because it keeps moving. It might successfully navigate the yard for awhile, but eventually that thing is going to be fried in lard and served up. None of us can go out and do anything without being motivated by belief; our actions are devoid of any worth or meaning when done without conviction.

This is true even of the worst hypocrite, and it’s why hypocrisy annoys us so much. When a person says that she believes one thing and then lives her life in direct opposition to that belief, we know that we’ve been lied to. We know that she is living out what she truly believes, no matter what her mouth may spout.

I’m also sick of hearing that it’s okay to do anything I want to do, as long as I don’t hurt anyone else. I can’t think of any action that doesn’t have the potential to impact another. I might want to eat a bunch of chocolate every single day, and that might not seem harmful to anyone else – but my husband might disagree the day I get diabetes and he has to learn how to help me take care of myself.

These things revolve around the notion of truth. Does it exist? Is it objective?

Allow me to state the obvious: Yes, truth exists. You know it and I know it. We can dance around in a pretty philosophical waltz all day long if want to, but any position that denies the existence of truth might as well deny the existence of life itself. It is that absurd.

Is truth objective? Well, tell me, is it wrong to sell a two-year-old into prostitution? If it is wrong, then not only is there truth, but there is an objectivity to that truth, which means that there is a standard that has been set by someone.

Dear reader, that Someone has to be God, specifically the God revealed in the Bible.  Only He spells out exactly what He requires from us. Only He tells us precisely where the boundaries are and why He has put them there. Our stomachs recoil at injustice because we have been made in His image. We wrestle and justify and finangle, but at the end of the day we know, unless our consciences are totally seared, when we’ve made the wrong choice because of that something within us that draws us back to the Creator.

We  can choose to be self-centered. We can choose to be nihilistic. We can choose to buy into whatever the current philosophical fad that this “postmodern” world throws onto the table, but none of this will ever satisfy. None of it will fit right. We are never comfortable with ourselves until we have come to acknowledge who God is and why He has the right to rule.

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Invited In

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Gentle Reader,

Luke and the New Testament declare that women have equal access to the blessings of grace and salvation. – Darrell Bock. Luke. 144-145

This is radical. When Jesus came, he threw open the doors to women. Many men then and, unfortunately, now, believe that women are to be seen and only heard to offer another cup of coffee, but Christ, our Lord, invited women in. No matter how hard some try (and try they do) there is nothing in the Gospel message that defines women as second-class or second-best.

It is sad to have to declare this in the context of the two-millenia old church, but I will keep doing so as long as abuse and misuse exists. Women have a role. Women have a place. Women bring something to the table. Women are given spiritual gifts. Women are commissioned to go out into the world and share the Good News, making disciples in the process. Women are declared by Jesus Himself to be His sisters and His coheirs.

My journey to faith. (15)

Unexpected Treasures

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Gentle Reader,

I didn’t get up as early as I planned today, but I did get up earlier than I usually would on my day off. My inclination is to beat myself up for that shortcoming, but I’m choosing to instead focus on the small victory. It may not have been 6:00 a.m., but it was 8:30 a.m. and that’s better than 10:00 a.m. Lifestyle changes aren’t solidified in a short four days.

The dogs and I donned our winter attire (yes, I dress my dogs in sweaters) and took a walk. Our usual loop through the neighborhood was transformed into an icy obstacle course. I laughed as I watched the fur balls try to avoid stepping in the snow. They were not pleased when I took them through a beautifully unbroken stretch of powdery stuff in one of the common areas.

I stood in that now pockmarked expanse and took a deep breath of freezing air. All was silent around me. Intricate snowflakes landed on my vest, my hair. Unbidden, a song of praise arose in my throat, spilling out at the exact moment a small group of birds began to twitter.

Arriving back at the house, I settled down to stretch and do my Bible reading for the day. Right now I’m in the book of Job, which isn’t usually looked upon as the most uplifting of stories. I was surprised to find this unexpected treasure:

Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;

Therefore, do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.

For He bruises, but He binds up;

He wounds, but His hands make whole. – Job 5:17-18 (NKJV)

I have experienced a long season of discipline and difficult growth. Didn’t feel good at the time, but I can honestly say that I am grateful for the fact of it. God loves me enough to put me on the right road. He tenderly cares for the blisters that arise from the unaccustomed terrain. He holds my hand. He shows me lovely things.

My journey to faith. (15)