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Tasting Truth

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”   Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

I am reading Taste for Truth and it has been a very enlightening journey.   Instead of using a specific diet plan or digging into the reasons why people overeat, this study focuses on the boundaries we may need and the renewing of the mind in order to gain freedom from the control of food.

I started drinking at age 15.  By age 18, I was using alcohol daily to cope with my home life.  I liked the way alcohol made me feel and how it made me more outgoing.

I continued drinking in my early to mid-20’s, but quit a couple of years before I became a mom.  I didn’t enjoy hangovers and had started to take notice of coworkers, family and friends whose lives were out of control because of alcohol or drug abuse.  I am one of the fortunate rare people who could stop using alcohol without support and have had less than 10 beers over the last 30 years.

Sometime in my late-20’s, I replaced my alcohol usage with food.  Unlike alcohol or drugs, our bodies need food so overeating is the acceptable addiction in our society.  I ate when my stress level went up because I took on too many volunteer positions.  Like many people, I often ate too much at celebrations.  My overeating was the most out of control when I had to deal with stressful family situations.

One particular time was the last time I saw my father.  My siblings and I were were physically, mentally and verbally abused by this man, so visiting him was extremely nerve-racking for me.  I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years, but my sister and I had to visit him before cancer took his life so we could ensure that our grandmother was taken care of.  I had a strong urge to get a drink after leaving his house, but thankfully my sister was doing the driving and wouldn’t allow it (thanks, Little Sis  ❤ ).  Instead of alcohol,  we both self-medicated with pasta and cannoli.   I can look back on that event now and realize that using food wasn’t any different than using booze.

day-23-tft

We have an enemy who wants to use our weaknesses so we are ineffective for the Lord’s work.  Through this study, I realized that I have spent more time overeating than renewing my mind.  By renewing my mind, this was my very first Thanksgiving that I DID NOT overeat and I feel I finally have gained control over food!!  Thank you, Jesus!!! 

If your story is similar and would like to learn how to break free from the stronghold of overeating, I will be leading an online study of Taste for Truth  beginning on January 2nd – February 24, 2017.  There is a companion book, I Deserve a Donut that is available in paperback, a Kindle version, and even an iPhone or android app (I purchased the Kindle version of Taste for Truth and the iPhone app of I Deserve a Donut for under $10).  You can click on the links to the books to look inside them and/or read the reviews.  The online study will take place in a secret Facebook group where only the members will be able to read your posts.  Feel free to email me at plewing@hotmail.com if you have any questions or visit http://barbraveling.com/  for more information on the author and her books.

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Tickled or Pickled Ears?


I’ve noticed that more and more people who call themselves Christians are allowing their ears to be tickled.  Many of these people don’t study God’s Word and only read Christian self-improvement books and/or short devotions.  I’m also seeing more of my friends and family who are either attending church sporadically,  are no longer affiliated with a church body, are only attending Sunday school (and refusing to go to worship services), or are members of a “feel good” church that doesn’t dig into Scripture with sermons that are just positive messages that don’t talk about sin.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4

ear tickeled

 I’ve been making my own fermented foods.  Kimchi and sauerkraut are two of my favorites; they taste good and they’re good for my body because they’re probiotic foods. Pickling food by using a salt brine not only preserves the food, but also adds “good” bacteria during the pickling process that helps with digestion. 

Jesus called us to be salt of the earth in Matthew 5:13 for the very same reasons we use salt — we are to help preserve and flavor the people around us as we serve Him:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

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Heavenly Father, I praise You as our Creator and our Provider.  You have given us everything we need.  I thank You for Your Word that enriches and preserves our lives.  Father, I lift up my friends, family and others who are being deceived and are only having their ears tickled.  Father, please guide me and help me to be a pickle each day — not sour with my words but salty so that I may be used to flavor the lives You’ve put in my path.  I ask these things in Jesus’ name, so You will be glorified.  Amen. 

After God’s Own Heart

  I’m heartbroken as I read this morning on Facebook that yet another
Christian friend is going to vote for the female candidate.  

If we are reading God’s Word, we have the answers to EVERYTHING in how we should live: from dating, marriage, raising our children, dealing with sin, etc.

 path

King Saul chose to do things his own way.  Through the prophet Samuel, God told Saul that due to his disobedience he would be replaced by a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).  When we fast forward to 1 Samuel 28, we find Saul consulting a medium and is told why the LORD had turned away from him and the consequences he would face “because you did not obey the voice of the Lord” (1 Samuel 28:18).

Americans love our country, but do we love it more than God?  If we truly love God, why are so willing to choose leaders who believe it’s okay to kill the unborn?

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 Heavenly Father, I praise You as the One True God!!  You alone appoint kings and leaders.  Father, I lift the United States to You.  Please bring us to our knees to seek Your face and Your wisdom in choosing the leaders You desire for this country and in our local elections.  Please show me how to lovingly respond to Christian friends and family who don’t follow Your Word.  Please correct us and forgive us as You corrected and forgave King David in his sin.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen. 

Acting Like New Creations

When I first became a Christian 22 years ago, the LORD changed many things in me.  The first thing to go was my potty mouth.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I often used the LORD’s name in vain and used many vulgar words.

Many other things changed in my life as I read the Bible and studied with other believers.  My anger disappeared as did my gossiping.  I was calmer with my children and enjoyed life more.  Sure there were struggles and I continue to have struggles, but staying in His Word gives me the desire to turn away from my old life.

Professing Christians are allowing more and more of the world in.  I have been in churches where couples who are living together are allowed to teach Sunday school.  I have a Christian friend who told me that she wouldn’t wait for remarriage to sleep with someone.  Many of my friends have adult children or grandchildren who are turning away from the ways of God and living sinful life-styles.

In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul wrote about this very issue and what we’re supposed to do with Christians who continue to sin:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:11-12 (ESV)

Believers should be new creations.  This doesn’t mean that we now have freedom to keep on sinning or that we won’t sin — it means we strive to be more like Christ.  If we truly love Him and say we are His, we will turn away from our sin.

butterfly !

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Heavenly Father, thank You for being a Wonderful Creator!!  Thank You for all You’ve created on this planet in order for us to live and for Your amazing beauty around us!! Thank You for Your sweet, sweet fellowship.  Thank You for each new day to serve You.  Father, please forgive me when I sin and please show me areas of my life that I need to change.  Please show me, Holy Spirit, how to be a new creation.   Please guide me to lovingly help Christian friends/family who have gone back to old ways.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, for God’s glory.  Amen.  

Keeping My Gaze Forward

My kids have told me that I have adult ADD because I get easily distracted.  I dislike hate how I sometimes allow things of this world or memories of my past draw me away from the things of God.  

 gaze

I desire to honor the LORD with not only my actions, but also with my thoughts.  I often wonder if the Apostle Paul was tormented by his past.  If he did, he didn’t allow his prior persecution of Christians to hinder his serving the LORD.   Philippians 3:12-21 shows how he pressed forward:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

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Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace.  Thank You for loving me even when I sometimes gaze back.  Please forgive how I get distracted with the things of this world and help me to keep my eyes focused on You and Your work here.  Please guide me, Holy Spirit, and correct me when my mind wanders.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, so You will be glorified.  Amen. 

Cruising Isn’t For Everyone

I’ve been home from my first cruise for 2 weeks now.  I needed to process everything that happened and read Scripture before I wrote about it. Be forewarned that this is the longest post I’ve ever written.

Let me begin with how superb the Royal Caribbean staff was. From the moment we went aboard, the entire crew was concerned for our comfort. They seemed genuinely worried about me when I became seasick, and our waiter sent up green apples and crackers when I was unable to finish my dinner. Our stateroom attendant, Pat, kept asking my daughter how I was doing because I slept 12 hours straight. Each and every RCC staff member was extremely helpful and polite.

Our stateroom attendant worked meticulously to keep our room clean; she must have gone in there at least 4 times a day. Each time we saw Pat, she would inquire how our meal was or how our day was going.  Not only did Pat clean and straighten our room, but she also put fresh towels in our room while we were at dinner — I honestly believe Pat made it her mission to ensure that we never had to use a towel more than once!  On our last cruise night I could see that she and the other stateroom attendants were all extremely busy preparing for our disembarkment and getting things ready for a fresh batch of cruisers, so I told Pat that we didn’t need anything and she didn’t have to go in our room.  She nodded, but that sweet, hardworking lady still went in and changed out our towels! Besides fresh towels, each evening she would turn on the reading lights over our beds and store away our bed coverlets. Her towel animals were adorable.

swan

 I had researched from 3 different sources about the sights to see on Nassau and found a highly rated taxi service to take us around the entire island. None of my reading prepared me for the extreme poverty on one half of island with the other half filled with designer stores, restaurants and bars to pull in tourists.  The mansions and lavish hotels such as Atlantis were too difficult to admire after we had seen tiny, rundown shacks of the poor. We learned that the big attraction to Nassau is the shopping, which is strategically placed within walking distance from where passengers get off the ships (I believe there were 4 ships docked the day we were there).  After our 3 1/2 hour taxi tour, my daughter and I only shopped for a few simple gifts, and chose to spend most of our money on conch shells sold out of a boat by a local fisherman and eating delicious fried conch at a small local restaurant.

We were disgusted how tourists of all nationalities pushed and shoved their way on lines for excursions, to get back on the ships, and then again when we went through customs. And not just Americans — two who really stood out to me were a Chinese lady who deliberately cut in front of me and an Australian lady who pushed her way in front of me.  When the Australian lady got in front of me she had left her children behind her, so I motioned to her teenagers to go on up with their mother. I then realized she that had also left her husband behind so I said, “Sir, you can get in front of us so you can wait with your family”. His teenage son replied, “He can stay back there.” After a few minutes he finally moved up with his family, probably embarrassed of his wife and son’s rudeness. Many more cut in front of us and I knew God was teaching me a lesson.

Luxury can create selfish, nasty human beings. Adults and children left their empty glasses and dirty plates all over the ship for the staff to pick up. I witnessed people eating food in the Jacuzzi and then the staff had to pick up their dishes left on the ledges of the Jacuzzi. Parents overindulged their children, leaving their teenagers to roam in an area designed specifically for teens and signing their younger children over to attendants in a special babysitting area to be entertained all day. Many of the children spoke rudely, too. As we were preparing to head to our cruise ship I saw a family all decked out in cute Disney swim trunks and tee shirts. When I told the oldest little boy (about 4 or 5 years old), “It sure looks like you all are in for some fun”, he replied to me in a very nasty tone, “Well, we are going on a Disney cruise.” Yes, that little boy did indeed put emphasis on “are”.

I will always treasure the time I got to spend with my daughter. We both enjoyed the delicious and beautifully prepared food — which, thankfully, I could not eat a lot of because I was dizzy and nauseous the entire time cruising and then 5 days after. The food was abundant, but we were pretty good about choosing to eat healthy fruit instead of the rich desserts. 😉 Besides spending time and relaxing with my dear daughter, my favorite part was watching the sunrise and sunset from the very top of the ship — the indescribable beauty of our Creator was breathtaking.

sunset

2nd day

Our time on the cruise line’s private cay was also wonderful. We got up super early to go kayaking where we were able to see live conch, sting ray, and barracuda. Afterward, we trekked to the other side of the cay where there was only a handful of people and lounged under a palm tree that we got to call our own for a few hours. I could have spent days enjoying the sunshine, walking on soft sands, picking up shells, admiring the gorgeous blue/green ocean and watching the tiny hermit crabs scurry along the beach.

palm treeThe desire to go on a cruise came from listening to many Christians who have gone on cruises, some who even go on them a few times a year. I honestly do not understand the draw. I know part of the reason I don’t understand is because I am not an extravagant person — I prefer to find my clothing on sale or at a thrift store. I don’t wear expensive jewelry, and wear a simple gold band and a silver ring with ichthus (Christian fish) on my ring finger instead of my diamond wedding ring. We rarely go out eat and it’s usually Chili’s or a salad from Wendy’s. Even though one of our airfares was paid for with points and one cruise fare was half-off, I realized cruising is just too much of a luxury for me.

The rudeness of the passengers on our ship and the other ships left a bitter taste in my mouth for cruising. I was also disappointed when passengers wouldn’t make small talk with me. When my daughter and I discussed all that had transpired on our cruise, my heart broke as she shared how no one would even speak to her when she explored the ship by herself the first night that I was so sick.  The only person who started a conversation with me occurred on the third morning as I was watching the sunrise. I was enjoying my coffee and taking it all in, marveling at God’s beauty and thanking Him for allowing me to see it ( I am a former Long Islander living in Missouri now and I miss the ocean so much). This beautiful, white-haired lady walking by said to me, “Isn’t it gorgeous? We just don’t have sunrises like this in Missouri.” I chuckled and we talked a bit, and we found out we lived only an hour and half from each other. God’s provision always amazes me.

At first I thought I smelled (yes, I actually checked because I sweated profusely when I became seasick on the first night). It was definitely something about the cruise because I was able to make small talk with people in the airport, with passengers on the plane, and with the customs people. Maybe people were so unfriendly and rude because they were on expensive vacation and just wanted to be left alone? Maybe it was the type of people on the cruise?

As I shared my experience with an older lady from church, she asked me what I learned spiritually. Scripture says we are not to live life so lavishly. I am a servant first, and that was why I was so uncomfortable with the impeccable service. We are to serve others, not be served.

“You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.” James 5:5a (ESV)

“but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives” 1 Timothy 5:6 (ESV)

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:8-10 (ESV)


So my question to Christians who cruise: Why do you enjoy cruises?

NO grey areas

I’ve have been shocked by the number of Christian women who have read Fifty Shades of Grey or who will be watching the movie when it comes out next week.

The other day, a Christian fitness blogger posted how most Christian women would be upset if they found out that their husbands read or watched porn. He then asked why is it okay for women to read it?  While most women agreed with his post, I was surprised at how quite a few women tried to justify their reading this book, with several actually calling it a love story.  Some women were even getting upset that other Christians were judging them — one woman shared how her pastor had written on her Facebook page after she posted something about Fifty Shades of Grey, and how he was no longer her pastor.

This morning I read another post that started off on how one of the nation’s leading Christian publishers conducted a survey asking Christian women to name the most influential book they had read in the past year.  They found that a startling number of women said Fifty Shades of Grey was their favorite book of the year.    

I had never heard of this book until a two years ago.  A 10th grade student asked me, “What are you reading? Fifty Shades of Grey?”  I politely told him no, asked him if he really wanted to know what I was reading, and when he said “Yes”, I told him that I was reading the Bible on my Ipad.  Of course, when I got home I immediately Googled what this book was — I was floored that a student would even ask me this question!  We had a few subs who were reading it during our DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time, and many in the student body were reading it, too, so I guess that’s why this student thought it was okay for him to ask me this.

This book is pornography. If we call ourselves Christians, we are to hold each other accountable.  This is where we get it wrong — we are not to judge those outside the church:

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2 (ESV)

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)

There’s many scriptures on sexual immorality, warning us to stay away from it.  I’ve actually stopped reading any fiction at all because when I started reading books the students were reading (Divergent is one), I was disgusted at how writers are adding in underage, premarital sex to their books.  I believe this is exactly why today’s teens are lacking modesty  — if you could hear the conversations I overhear at school, you would be embarrassed.  I feel that this is because of books/movies/music that have themes like Fifty Shades of Grey.  Parents need to be better role models for their kids by not reading it themselves, and by also taking the time to read what their children are reading.