Archive | February 2014

Courage To Break Free

Self-assurance is a wonderful God-given gift.  I am not talking about conceit. Romans 12:3 rebukes us, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, . . .”

th[7]I’m speaking of confidence. With God by our side, we can conquer mountains! Joshua and Caleb did it, so can we! Conquering our insecurities is within our grasp. God wants us courageous enough to rebuke temptation but overcoming false beliefs is a challenge.

Were you allowed as a child, to voice an opinion without ridicule, or were you expected to withhold your opinion? In some families if a child spoke his mind regarding a controversial topic, there was an immediate rebuke. That subconsciously teaches a child that his feelings or opinions don’t matter and they become fearful of expressing themselves in the future. It is the same as saying; “Don’t tell me how you feel about it – that’s unimportant, just do as I say.”

No wonder people learn to fear authority and bury every emotion inside, turning to food for consolation. No one wants to be rejected and ridiculed. To discover the soothing realization that food comforts and doesn’t talk back is like a warm hug against the inner child.

Your opinions and needs matter! We are commanded to speak the truth in love but after so many years of holding the pain within, sometimes if we unlock the floodgates,  frustration recklessly spews out all at once. Have you ever yelled at your spouse or child and it had absolutely nothing to do with them? Usually the cause turns out to be a subconscious painful memory.

When Julie was newly married, her husband playfully teased her about her eating habits. This struck her the wrong way and she lashed out at him. It seems Julie’s father was a malicious, belittling man who consistently taunted and shamed her at the dinner table. A flash of memory and her husband became the recipient of that hurtful recollection. Sometimes people have no idea why you act as you do and since humans are not mind-readers one must open up, conveying their innermost feelings to begin trusting again.

Choose to Release Your Emotional Bondage, Breaking that Chain:

  • Stay in the Word. Memorize Scripture. It’s remarkable how a Bible verse will come to mind when needed most.
  • Speak the Truth in love. Look at the intent of the one who tries your patience. Was it intentional or is someone simply unaware of your past?
  • Gather the courage to divulge how a statement made you feel.  If you can disclose those personal moments, such as “my father made fun of me in public too,” most will understand. If not, find more compassionate friends.
  • Positive affirmations matter. You are special to God simply because you exist!
  • You are important to your family. They love you and you should feel comfortable revealing who you are. If not, speak to a pastor, counselor or trusted friend.
  • When under stress, don’t eat – exercise, go for a walk, read or search for relaxation outside because fresh air creates feel-good endorphins. Be proactive. Choose healthy ways to release the frustration.

Put yourself in another’s shoes.  Humans aren’t mind readers and if you don’t express yourself, how would they know? Burying your feelings will only kick the can down the road.

“Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you; don’t be anxious, because I am your God. I keep on strengthening you; I’m truly helping you. I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10 (ISV)

The Greatest True Love Ever

images[1]Have you ever sacrificed your own desires for someone because you loved them more than yourself? That certainly expressed true love, right?  Well, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I would like to comment on the Greatest Act of Love ever accomplished for us; John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Have you ever wondered what went through Christ’s mind as He was scourged, spat on and beaten as a scapegoat for our sin?

Did our Lord ever question why He was doing this?

  • Wonder why He was sacrificing His life for someone who tortured and murdered sweet children?
  • The one who stole funds from that Christian charity for personal use?
  • Or that serial rapist a judge let go, only to do it again?

True, but Christ died for all sinners, even those who simply lied, stole pencils from the office or whose golden idol was gluttony. Every one of us is guilty of sin before the Lord.

Aren’t you grateful that Christ didn’t give in to the discouragement He must have felt because countless sinners still spit on and reject Him daily? Or that He didn’t become angry and bitter due to our apathy toward sin? Or that Jesus didn’t disobey God’s Will in Gethsemane to avoid unfathomable pain and suffering?

What tremendous love it  must have taken to go to the Cross!

Personally I believe Christ focused on the billions of faces to whom He became an offering for. As He was suffering, He focused all his attention, mental powers and love on that future victorious day when Ellie, Sandy, Pete, Bob (or whomever) accepted Him as their personal Savior. “Come onto me . . .”

He stayed focused knowing it was worth the sacrifice. Praise God for that!

Now the question is, how do we show appreciation for His incredibly loving sacrifice? Would you give up gluttony for Christ? Is something as miniscule as reducing unhealthy foods to become a stronger testimony worth His sacrifice? Silly question, right? But will you? Please don’t sell your testimony, as Essau did, for a mess of material pottage here on earth.

When life becomes difficult and we face our own challenges in the future, remain focused on what is really important in life: Eternity, not on the way we look but how we have honored our inner Temple of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory. Focus on becoming a New Creation for Christ based on 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Satan wants nothing less than to destroy God’s temple on earth, which are His believers.  There are many enemies who hope to sideline you from that goal with temptations of drugs, alcohol, smoking and even food.

Isaiah 41: 10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Sometimes our “old man’s chains” bind us mentally or emotionally to the past. Break free from those mental chains and live an abundant life in Christ! I urge you to personally accept Christ’s incredible Valentine.

 

More Life Lessons Learned From Dogs

The  Westminster Dog Show is on television over the next two nights and that inspired me to write another column about some spiritual lessons we can learn from dogs.

westminster dog showFor example: As I arrived home today after a short 15 minute grocery trip, my Lhasa Apso excitedly greeted me at the door with her tail wagging and an exuberant, “where have you been? I’ve missed you!” It was as if I had been gone for months!

On the other hand, my Cocker spaniel was stretched out on the couch, snoring away, oblivious to his surroundings. After awhile, he raised his head nonchalantly, as if to note, “Oh you’re home.” He then got up, pranced over to his bowl which he nudged forcefully, indicating he wanted water . . . and he wanted water now.

Which brings me to spiritual concepts. Do we greet our Heavenly Master in our Bible’s doorway with the same adoring exuberance, or are we more demanding in His presence? Do we consider devotions and Bible study a happy occasion or a chore? Do we spend much quality time simply praising our Lord for his goodness and mercy, or do we immediately present a list of demands: “Well Lord, the dishwasher isn’t working and Aunt Jenny’s ill again and oh by the way, can you help me find a new job because my boss is unbearable?”

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

God isn’t a vending machine. Why can’t we respect and stop treating Him as one?

Another important principle I’ve noticed: dogs harbor no grudges after being disciplined. I try to train my dogs to not bark when strangers wander down the walkway behind our home. But occasionally they do. They have learned if they start barking, it means no more bird chasing – immediate exile inside. Dogs however, can be scolded and then a few minutes later can be bouncing around, ready to play fetch inside. They learn to be content in any circumstance. (Philippians 4: 11-13)

We should learn to bounce back like that, shouldn’t we? God, being slow to anger, doesn’t wish to discipline us but occasionally it is necessary. Accepting discipline is personally challenging.  It’s easy to harbor resentment. We must never hold a grudge but recognize that since God desires only good for us, sometimes discipline is what will bring us back to the straight and narrow. It’s for our own good.

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 (ESV)

Yes God  is patient, merciful and loves us unconditionally. Psalm 145:8 states that  “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” He will patiently endure much in His desire for us to come to repentance and be saved.

Dogs do not seem to have any concept of time. Therefore let us delight continually and pray without ceasing at the feet of our Master too, which is the equivalent of Christian belly rubs. Praise Him for His continual care over you. As our pets rely on us for everything, in the same way we should learn to rely on our Lord for all our needs as well. If you are a dog lover, remember the life lessons we can learn from them and enjoy the Westminster this week!

Disheartened? Disregard Your Scale!

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Okay, you have been on your weight loss plan for five weeks now, how are you holding up? Still resolving to lose weight or are you a trifle discouraged?  Ready to give up? Then I’d recommend you throw away that scale.  A scale is not a great indicator as to how healthy one is and you have probably been checking it every day now, hopeful you have lost a pound or two.

Healthy living is the objective, not thinness. Weight means very little but bone structure means a lot. If you are large-boned, you will never comfortably be able to fit into a size 2.  If you are small boned, even a weight gain of 5 lbs. will make you look a little pudgy. Good news – God created each of us uniquely but wants all to be healthy.

In regards to  weight: a pint equals a pound. If you drink a couple of cups of water, coffee, tea or eat breakfast and then step onto your scale, you will think you’ve gained a pound of fat. Not true. Get on the scale after a shower with wet hair and the same principle applies. A wet head means extra weight. Jeans, shoes, jewelry all weigh differently. So does fluid retention at certain times of the month. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Health is more important than weight. How do you feel? Do your clothes fit or are they a bit snug? To recognize how much you have actually lost, get a belt and notch it off every two weeks. You’ll have a tangible measurement of either success or reality and that should encourage motivation.

How much energy do you have? Too tired to play with your children or go out with friends? Is it worth it to you to restrict healthy nutrients if you have no social life?health is most important

What is your temperament like lately? You could be the slimmest person in your group but if you act like a tyrant or moody, no one will want to be around you. You’ll be the loneliest one in the room. Vitamin B12 is an energy vitamin and all B vitamins improve mood. So does zinc, boron and vitamin D. “Have a peel-and-eat shrimp dinner with a sweet potato, spinach and garlic, then call me in the morning . . . ”

Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, all improve one’s mood. If you are feeling down and sluggish, you are probably lacking in some nutrients. Restricting complex carbohydrates restricts your personality! Blossom and glow with beneficial feel-good nutrients.

Do your arms or body parts jiggle when you wave or walk? Get fit! A pound is a pound but a pound of muscle is a very effective fat burner. Muscle is compact so it’s smaller than fat. Lift weights, Zumba or walk in the fresh air to release some beneficial endorphins while gaining valuable muscle.

I have counseled patients who were 536 lbs. and several who were under 110. None of them were healthy. Listen to your body and become the best you can be, honoring and glorifying God for creating such a complex machine as you!

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

What is your body telling you?

Strategies to Keep Your Bones

Love that Arizona sunshine! It’s a loyal friend to anyone who enjoys walking because vitamin D is captured through sun exposure. Walking and lifting weights restores bone and builds muscle! Muscle efficiently burns fat. Two great combinations!

walking in the desertBeing small-boned, I’ve been steadfast about keeping beneficial bone as I’ve aged. Playing tennis, running, carrying my golf clubs, cross-country skiing – never thought I’d have to worry about osteoporosis. Wrong. It’s also an inherited disease.

Here are some tips so you can fight it every step of the way, pun intended, as I do.

Some in order to lose weight, will give up certain foods they consider fattening: nuts, dairy products, even fruit. All these protect against osteoporosis. You might be thinner but you’ll also be shorter!  Some mistakenly believe that since fruit contains sugar they should avoid it because insulin levels will rise, and in response, cravings too.  Well, I’ll tell you how smart God is: fresh fruit has fiber, especially in the skin like pears and apples. Fiber allows insulin to be released more slowly into the system, thus stabilizing blood sugar.  Now I’m not recommending a fruit salad, but fruits shouldn’t be discarded altogether when losing weight.

Since my mantra is; Eat for nutrients, reach for foods containing vitamins D, K and minerals calcium, magnesium and lessor known manganese and boron to sustain bone. The average person should incorporate at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 200 IU’s of vitamin D into their daily diet to maintain strong bones. Anyone over 50 should increase that amount to 1200 milligrams of calcium and 400 IU’s of vitamin D.

God created one magnificent machine. Our body works together with Designed purpose. Without the mineral boron for example, it’s difficult for it to retain its calcium and magnesium levels. Simply drinking milk or eating a daily yogurt won’t guarantee strong bones.

  • Boron can be found in red grapes, apples, pears, apricots, prunes, dates, bananas, raisins, red wine, avocados, walnuts, cashews, peanut butter, pinto beans and legumes.
  • Boron also works to boost hormonal estrogen levels in the blood, keeping us emotionally balanced.

Dairy products are likely the first foods most think of when discussing bone retention:

  • The current fad is Greek yogurt which through the straining process contains more protein but up to 3x’s less calcium.  I prefer Stoney Farms, Mountain High, Dannon Natural and Stonyfield yogurt. 
  • 2% milk doesn’t mean 98% fat-free. To illustrate, visualize a carton of water containing only lemon juice.  Add a tablespoon of oil to the carton. Now 2% of the volume is fat and 98% isn’t. Therefore the manufacturer can claim it is 2%.  Tricky huh? Don’t be fooled, read the label and divide fat against total calories. Skim or 1% milk products contain more calcium %.
  • Cheese:  the lighter in color the less saturated fat it contains.

Giving up eggs? Eating only the whites? Another fad. Vitamin D is in the yolk, not the whites.

Ditching Grains? Giving up fortified cereals will give up your bones too. I love Great Grains with all the necessary ingredients for great bones: raisins, dates, pecans, fortified whole grains.

Fish is a necessity: salmon, tuna, sardines, crab, clams, trout and oysters contain calcium and beneficial vitamin D.

Drink pineapple juice, with seltzer water for a manganese infused drink instead of soda.

Avoid high protein diets which deplete calcium.

Cut down on caffeine and sodium.

Remember K for Kale! Also broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, collard and other leafy greens.

Walk daily. It literally restores life to your worn-out bones and prayerful praises to your spirit!

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25