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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. 

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. 

Being a better soldier in 2016

 We’ve had a lot of family turmoil the last few weeks all stemming from a divorce that took place over 8 years ago. There is now a very complicated custody battle. While we refuse to take sides, my husband and I have corrected family members who are not being biblical in their actions. This divorce occurred because a man was unfaithful to his wife and his mistress was unfaithful to her husband. The husband is now seeking full custody of his children from his first marriage and wanting his first wife to pay child support. Family members are saying unkind things about other family members, and frankly, we’re saddened by the un-Christlike attitudes we’re seeing.

In all this, I’ve been studying faithfulness and realized I have not been a “good soldier” in my faithfulness to the LORD.  I am refocusing on my faithfulness in 2016:

 “So then, you, my son, be empowered by the grace that comes from the Messiah Yeshua. And the things you heard from me, which were supported by many witnesses, these things commit to faithful people, such as will be competent to teach others also. Accept your share in suffering disgrace as a good soldier of the Messiah Yeshua.”  2 Timothy 2:1-3 (Complete Jewish Bible)

““But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control.”
Galatians 5:22-23a (ESV)

fruit of the spirit

I’m dedicating 2016 as my year of faithfulness: faithful in studying His Word, faithful to my husband, faithful to my family, faithful to my church family, faithful in ministry to the ladies I serve at Trades of Hope, and faithful in taking care of my body.

Praying you have a blessed Christmas season and a joyous 2016!!

Choose not to be smelly

pleasing aroma

Have you ever known someone whom you didn’t see eye to eye with?  Maybe this person’s words and actions irritated you so much that you couldn’t stand to be around them? 

There have been several people in my life where our personalities clashed and we didn’t get along.  Most of them were arrogant men — men who weren’t very kind, were know-it-alls, and were very bossy to all the women in their lives.   Right now there’s a woman I know who acts very similar.  Our personalities differ so much and some days it seems like she says things just to get me angry.   

As I was reading the Bible this week, she came to mind when I read the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 2:14 – 15 reminding us of our aroma:   “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

I wasn’t reminded of her, but of my own actions and words towards her.  Ouch. 

If we are to be fragrant as we spread the knowledge of Christ, we have to not be offensive (or stinky!) in our dealings with others.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to agree with what others are saying, but we must choose our words carefully.

I realize that this is a spiritual battle and I let my guard down.  I choose NOT to be smelly and to pray each day asking God to help me when I respond to her. 

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Thank You, Father, for Your Word.  Thank You, Jesus, for Your example to us when You were here on earth.  Thank You for loving me in spite of how I fail You each day.  Please forgive my horrible stench — my actions and words sometimes do not show You working in me, and I repent of this sin.  Please guide me each day to be a pleasing aroma so that others may see You.  In Jesus’ name I ask this so that You may be glorified.  Amen.

Committing our plans

 A coworker has started using a weight loss program where she eats mostly carbs one day and then eats mostly protein another day (and also uses expensive shakes and supplements).  She shared with me how she will be under a “certain number” by the end of the year.  This information started to make me sad jealous because that particular number had also been my personal goal weight by the end of December.  

I felt sorry for myself for a few hours, but then I took out my scale as soon as I got home from work.  I had NOT weighed in since Thanksgiving because I had put the scale away while my toddler grandson was visiting — I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I have only gained 3 pounds!!!  I realized I should not have been so surprised because even though I have indulged a bit, I have also continued to drink water, do my yoga stretches in the morning and walk in the afternoon.

I have LOST and KEPT OFF about 25 pounds this year, so I am very, very thankful!!!

I was ashamed at myself for coveting my friend’s weight loss.  By going home and weighing myself, God allowed me to see that what I had been doing was working and that I need to stick with it.  I am committing to get back on my diet plan on December 28th so that I will be under a particular weight by my birthday in April.  I used a weight loss calculator to see if this is a realistic goal and it is — by keeping under 1700 calories per day and continuing to exercise daily, I can do it!!   

proverbs 16-3

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 Do you have any plans you need to commit to the LORD?

Getting to the Core

 It’s been an absolutely BEAUTIFUL summer here in Northwestern Missouri — it hasn’t been too hot, and this week has been in the low 80’s.  The apples on our State Fair apple tree usually ripen mid-August, but the hubby and I took advantage of the cooler temperatures and decided to pick apples two weeks early.  

wheelbarrow full of apples 

Surprisingly, most of our apples have had very few worms this year (we don’t spray our trees with chemicals).   As I was cutting up apples for freezing and canning, it was easy for me to just cut out the portions of apples that contained any worms.  Every so often I found an apple that appeared flawless on the outside, but once I cut it in half I found that worms had ruined the seemingly perfect apple.

 wormy apple

As this disappointment occurred several times over my 4 day process of preparing apples, I realized this is similar to the sin in my life.  I may appear clean from the outside, but on the inside I am just as wormy as the apple in the above photo — anger, jealousy, or any other unrepented sin sure can “eat” away at me if I am not careful.   

Jesus told the Pharisees that it wasn’t things like dirty hands that make people unclean, but that it is what comes out of a person’s heart — their core — that makes them defiled.  In Mark 7:20-23, Jesus explained this further to his disciples:

“What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  
For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

The prophet Samuel learned this valuable lesson when he first thought Jesse’s son Eliab was the one God wanted him to annoint as the new King of Israel:   

1 Samuel

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 Heavenly Father, thank You so much for this wonderful season of summer.  Thank You for cooler temperatures and the bountiful harvest you’ve given us.   Thank You for continuing to love me even when I look good on the outside, but am a wormy mess on the inside!  Holy Spirit, please continue to convict me of my sin of anger, unforgiveness and jealousy, and please show me if I have any unrepented sin in my life.  Thank You, LORD Jesus, for Your gift of salvation through Your death on the cross.  Thank You for loving me that much!!  In Your Precious Name I pray.  Amen.