Which God Do You Serve?

Whether we admit it or not, there are many gods in our life – even some that sound “religious” or well-intentioned.

Around our town there is a popular lawn sign declaring: “I Love My Church!” This sign irked me from my very first sighting and I didn’t know why. After all, they had a right to be proud of their large building and congregation, didn’t they? Was it simply jealousy on my part because their church was larger than ours? I hoped not; I wanted God’s Word to reach as many as possible and I’m not biased toward large churches.

So I thought this over and came to this conclusion: if they had advocated, “I love my LORD!” with their church name written prominently beneath that sign, it would have made a world of difference in winning me over.

I’m sure it’s a very pleasant church but a church is a building. If fortunate, it will have several services a week and lots of activities. But I’m told that sermons many times in this church, came from sources other than the Bible, like current events, the pastor’s vacation and very little Scripture.

The church is not a God to be idolized and this sign professed unintentionally that they loved the church more than the LORD. “as for me and my house . . . I will serve the Lord.”

The pompous Pharisees also loved their “church.” They were very “churchie” attendees. In fact, they cared so much about their church, they failed to recognize the Messiah when he came professing Truth. I wondered if they thought, Gosh, if this is the Messiah, it will change our way of life and prestigious positions. In that sense they preferred bondage to their building rather than to their God.

“For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:18)

Who is your god? What can’t you give up to spend time with God? Is it your work? A certain television show or sporting event you can’t miss because it’s during a church service? A buffet dinner invitation? Is your idol your family, a technical device: computer, tablet, Kindle, cell phone?

Today people create many false gods: sporting events, celebrities, money, power, politics, position . . . even food becomes more important than God. Loving chocolate isn’t sin – loving it more than the Lord is! Keep your priorities straight.

“Are you serious, Ellie? Really . . . some make an idol of a favorite food?” Absolutely! Fast food, sugar, bacon, donuts, pizza, chocolate, wine . . . None of these foods are sin by themselves according to 1 Corinthians 10:23, anything’s fine in moderation. But losing control of our senses make them an idol as they literally kill our personal temple of the Holy Spirit via obesity or illnesses!

It’s not easy to turn away from an idol that has you firmly in its grasp but it can be done! Visualize that debilitating food hanging all over Jesus on the cross. That’s ridiculous you say? Not really, Jesus died for all sin, even gluttony and personal idol worship.

But God is faithful, providing the answer to temptation:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I beg you to love the Lord more than anything here on Earth. For Christ loved US more than anything!





Why Does It Take So Long to Obey Our Master’s Voice?

I’ve written about our pup, affectionately called “Mr. No-No” a few times. In all honesty he’s the most affectionate little dog we’ve ever had – but he’s also the most mischievous.

Every morning before breakfast he begs for a toy or chewy bone which we give him because he’s such a (insert baby talk) “good little boy.” But sure enough, a little while after it’s been gifted, he runs over to the couch attempting to frantically bury it under a throw pillow or loose blanket.

Afraid he’s going to tear up our beautiful couch, I get up from the breakfast table, gently “urging” him to “StoP THat!!!” He immediately stares at me, jumps down and runs away.

Great. I go back to the table. Sure enough I suddenly hear him digging under a throw rug in my husband’s office, struggling to hide his treasure beneath it. Once again I warn him to stop, which being the good dog he is, does . . . at least for a few seconds.

Looking at his deceptively cute expression, I can see his brain calculating: mmmm, if she’s here, that means the COUCH is free! He runs over to the sofa once again and proceeds to dig a hole to China to bury that blasted toy. By now I’m regretting giving it to him at all.

“Okay Buster, you’re getting a time out right now! Get. Into. Your. Crate!” Dejectedly, he scurries into his personal condo and looks mournfully at me. (Oh seriously? Please don’t feel sorry for this little mutt – that’s where most of his toys are!)

Don’t worry, he gets paroled within a short time in dog years and currently he’s on top of that same couch, happily watching people and pups walking along the path outside. Occasionally he’ll glance over with sad black eyes, as if questioning why I’m not taking him for a walk too. Like I’d really reward bad behavior?

Aren’t we the same though?  Don’t we expect to get rewarded even if we fail to do the right thing?

God only desires our good. He laid out a healthy diet when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden.  (Genesis 1:29 & Genesis 9:3) and yet He also urged us not make our stomach our god. (Philippians 3:19) Yet we continue to act irresponsible, lusting after excess (gluttony) and usually unhealthy food. Even knowing it will hurt our health eventually.

I know now how frustrated God gets with us! He doesn’t want to take away good pleasures anymore than I desire to take away Mr. No-No’s toys. But sometimes we also need a reprimand or “time-out” too when we stubbornly demand our own way. We pursue selfish gluttony rather than listen to God’s Voice of Reason and Moderation. (1 Corinthians 10:23) Our own actions are the cause our troubles; yet we tend to blame God for them.

I continue to encourage everyone I know: eat anything in moderation. Yet most believe they’ll be able to continue in rebellious behavior, consuming chemically-based, unhealthy foods and get away with it.  Not true! Actions have consequences.

I’ve counseled many who have suffered strokes, heart attacks, developed diabetes and other illnesses. I’ve encouraged (nagged?) them to consume less fatty foods and choose fibrous fruits, vegetables, lean protein, good fats and whole grains. Will they listen to my voice? Some do. Others seem to have an excuse for eating unhealthily. Well . . . until they receive a health “time-out” courtesy of County General Hospital.

Your body is your earthly temple, honor it for your sake and His Sacrifice.

“For you yourselves know how you must imitate us: We were not irresponsible among you;”


Nutritional Choices For Increased Mental Performance

 Choose foods wisely! It makes a world of difference in your mental and physical health.

If you consume junk, your body and brain will perform like a sluggish machine! Does any machine work efficiently when it labors to perform?  No.  

We want to keep our arteries clean and pliable so the blood-flow to the brain and heart isn’t clogged and can work efficiently. So if we would like to retain our “smarts” for a little longer, we shouldn’t treat our brain so carelessly either.

The Greek physician Hippocrates, once stated: “Men ought to know that from nothing else but the brain come joys, delights, laughter and sports, sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations.”

I would have agreed except for the fact that he said, “nothing else but . . .” I’m sorry to disagree with the great Hippocrates but I must give proper creditto God for our soul and spirit too.

True Health also comes from the heart: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  (Proverbs 17:22)

Consuming proper whole foods however, does maintain a healthy pH acidic/alkaline balance. When you feel physically and mentally fit you’re happier and from that comes a more joyful countenance.

Here are some foods you should always add routinely to your weekly diet for proper mental and physical health:

Garlic protects our brain neurotransmitters, enhances memory retention and increases blood flow. The Israelites craved this wonderful bulb. “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic.” (Numbers 11:5)  All brain food!

Increase good fats. Too much of the wrong kind, like saturated fat, will harm because the body works harder trying to fulfill its basic mechanics, resulting in higher blood pressure, diminished energy and even less brain power. Rather choose monounsaturated fats such as  olive and canola oil and omega 3’s.

Omega-3′s refer to omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are the ‘building blocks’ of fats just as amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are vital nutrients for the brain.

Omega-3’s are used to regulate blood clotting, build cell membranes, protect the nerve’s myelin sheath and support cell health.

Good fats such as olive oil, flaxseed, salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, anchovies, avocados  will prevent the blood from stickiness, potential blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. What’s good for your heart is good for your brain!

As our brains age, the neurons can’t talk to each other as easily as they once did. Open up the blood-brain barrier with inflammation fighting foods:healthy foods

Vitamin E found in green leafy greens, wheat germ and walnuts lowers cholesterol and provides anti-clogging powers.

Vitamin C:  Not only does this vitamin help create collagen, thus making us look younger, it also neutralizes free radicals and strengthens blood vessel walls. Cantaloupe is one of its best sources.  So are strawberries, sweet red peppers, cabbage, broccoli, lemons, limes, oranges and tomatoes.

Spice up your life with curry or cinnamon which blocks the formation of plaque in the arteries.

Exercise your brain like a muscle with cross word puzzles, brain games or other stimulating activities such as Scripture memorization, reading or card playing. Find active, not passive activities for your brain.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

A grateful attitude and positive nature overcomes a defeated spirit – but a positive spirit maintains mental health too!

Embracing Short Term Goals to Achieve Lasting Ones

You’re on a wonderful journey to become healthier. Recognize it will be a challenge. Don’t allow the thought however, to become overwhelming.

Suppose you were planning a cross-country road trip. The thought  of a 3,000 mile journey might seem overwhelming. Therefore revamp your thinking, Break the trip into smaller milestones. When I reach Memphis I’ll visit Graceland, When I get to Arizona, we’ll see the Grand Canyon – see all of a sudden you are looking forward to it because you’ve broken a burdensome task into short-term goals.

Apply this same strategy to your weight-loss ambition. Create smaller steps for attainable goals.

Remember you are creating life practices not simply losing weight. You want to feel this accomplished everyday! Each time you conquer “self” you reach new heights of disciple.

It is not selfish to desire to be healthy for God!  In fact He commands it.  1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us: “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 

Ask yourself: if you require your children to follow godly values which you don’t even follow, why would they? It’s the same with healthy values! Be a positive example.

By striving to become the healthiest individual you can, you demonstrate self-discipline; those inner strengths which makes you a strong, determined person for your children to emulate.

Demonstrate how it’s done by making it fun. Start by creating the common goals known as  “SMART” intentions:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Trackable:

  1. First measure your bone structure by wrapping your thumb and middle finger around your wrist. If your fingers overlap, you’re small boned. If they just touch, medium boned and if they can’t touch at all, you are large-boned. Be realistic about how much weight you can lose based on your body type.
  2. Set your goal at 1-2 lbs lost per week because you’ll keep it off for the long haul. If you want to lose more, you’ll have to exercise more in order to lose fat.
  3. Ask “What is my motivation?” If you set your goal for someone’s approval or a specific event, when that’s over, so is your motivation. It must be your goal because you’re the only one who lives in your body.
  4. Focus on “just for today” goals, like increasing fiber and water until it becomes second nature. Don’t allow too many goals to overwhelm you, just gradually incorporate them into your lifestyle like using smaller plates or “fork down, spoon down” each day.
  5. Don’t add undo pressure for perfection like “I’m going to exercise two hours each day!” If you’re an all or nothing personality, you’ll give up when something interferes. Start with 20-30 minutes when possible or 10 minutes when you’re busy – you’re still going forward.
  6. Being realistic is recognizing that you won’t be perfect. Identify your emotions. Forgive yourself and get back on track. If you were heading to a ski area and took a wrong turn you wouldn’t give up and turn around, you’d keep going forward.
  7. Make gradual changes so your mind can catch up.  It won’t be until weeks later that your brain realizes you’re thinner than you thought. So use something tangible like a belt notch to keep track.
  8. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Realize that if a celebrity lost 45 lbs she had a lot of help behind the scenes with personal trainers, private chefs, massage therapists . . .  Your goals are your own, focus on those.
  9. Educate yourself. Understanding why we do certain things physiologically, keeps us focused.
  10. Track your successes on a graph to establish a sense of accomplishment.

Embrace the fact that you’re becoming a New Creation!

No Greater Love

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, beaten and ridiculed 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 Jesus didn’t disobey God’s Will in Gethsemane to avoid unfathomable pain and suffering? He knew the future. He knew people would not accept him or even worse become apathetic. They would curse in his name, ignore his commands, laugh as others worshipped him and yet he still sacrificed his life for them as well.

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

Personally I believe while Christ suffered,  my face along with the billions of faces for whom He became an offering for, came into view. As He was suffering, He focused all his attention, mental powers and love on that future victorious day when Ellie, Martha, John, Bob (or whomever) accepted Him as their personal Savior. “Come onto me . . .”  and it was worth the cost. Praise God for that!

Now the question is, how do we show appreciation for His incredibly loving sacrifice? What would you sacrifice for love? 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 godly 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 more 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.

But God remains by our side, even during our most stressful situations.

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 memory chains” bind us mentally or emotionally to the past. Break free from bondage and live an abundant life in Christ! I urge you to personally accept Jesus’s incredible Valentine gift:  Freedom in Christ .

Breathe, Relax and De-Stress!

Is your life filled with stress?

Do you work under stressful conditions? Have a domineering boss? Do you experiences stress as a nurse, (my #1 patient) when you can’t do anything for that small child dying in the ICU? As an overworked teacher, when that popular teenager calls you a derogatory name behind your back and others laugh? Or a social worker, wishing you had funds to purchase food for every struggling family, but can only stand by and help in what little way you can?

You might even question God and wonder why He allows such things to happen?

Faith is trusting, even when we don’t understand why.

A stressful environment can result not only in irritability, fatigue, headaches, memory loss, high blood pressure, insomnia and other health issues, but it can also add additional weight to your frame.

American Neurobiologist, Dr. Sapolsky, studied a Kenyan baboon community for 30 years. Existing in a class system, the aggressive Alpha males terrorized the gentler males causing stress-related illnesses within the group; elevated blood pressure, heart problems and yes, even weight gain.

Since the Alpha males also dominated the food chain; they would eat first. However they once consumed a deadly substance which caused disease and killed them off. The kinder males took over the community which then thrived due to a stress-less environment. This produced peace . . . and weight loss.

Food can be many a person’s comfort drug when they are feeling stressed. Food’s as addictive as smoking, drugs or alcohol because it changes the body’s chemistry and the neurotransmitters in our brain.

If you’re tired or having a stressful morning, it’s easy to reach for the sugary donuts in the break room. Sugar increases energy and also releases feel-good serotonin to the brain. Angry? Those pretzels and peanuts are therapeutically crunchy, releasing pent up frustration!!! Lonely? Subconsciously you reach for that stress-reliever, comforting  chemical, phenylethylamine, found in chocolate.

We need to seek peace in other ways besides reaching for food.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9: 9,10)

Although we can’t totally eradicate stress from our lives because there is good and bad stress everywhere, every day; we can take steps to control harmful stress.

Create a Strategy and Take Action!

  1. Exercise. Serotonin is also released through exercise too! Bike, walk, play tennis, swim, go to the gym but discipline yourself!
  2. Warm relaxing baths or massage therapy.  Have your spouse give you a foot or back rub.
  3. Take action to assist and be a blessing to others. Work at an employment agency, volunteer at a charity, cook a meal, read a story to that suffering child. Be pro-active and make a difference in someone’s life.
  4. Have a cup of tea, enjoy the sunset and relax with music.
  5. Meditate.  The closer you experience God, the more peace you’ll experience. Have Faith that His Way is Best.
  6. Laughter relieves stress. Laugh with your family, watch a comedy, play games, have a date night.
  7. Remember you can’t live in a vacuum. Find someone to talk to, whether it’s a spouse, friend or pastor, we all need a support system.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” (Psalm 143:10)

Success is within reach but you must want to take action to grasp it!

Striving Toward Victory in the Midst of Challenges

Mohamed Ali didn’t win every boxing match, Tom Brady doesn’t complete every pass attempt, Michael Jordan didn’t score every time he put up the shot. But they are each considered the best in their field. Why? The common denominator is that they never quit!

Don’t quit either!

Have you ever watched an athlete during practice? Each athlete strives for excellence and when they falter, they dig deep, determined to get their rhythm back once again.  I’m sure they never considered quitting because they would have retired defeated. In their eyes that would be a disgrace.

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13)

As you strive for a healthier lifestyle this year, I’m sure you’ve faltered a bit in the past three weeks, been sabotaged with tempting food, perhaps had exercise set-backs, maybe even gaining a pound or two. But I hope you haven’t quit!

That would be as heartbreakig as heading on a family ski vacation and if you took a wrong turn, throwing up your hands in defeat, announcing, “Sorry gang, I made a mistake, trip’s over – let’s go home.”

Can you imagine the disappointment on your children’s faces if you actually did that? I’m certain you would take out your map, figure out where you turned wrong. Then you’d get back on the right road and head for your destination once again.

Similarly, when striving for a healthier lifestyle, if you make a mistake, get out your directions again and analyze what you did wrong. Then head toward your destination once again: health!

Most of us will never become world-class athletes, but we can certainly aspire to excel. Often however, discouragement sets in because we expect instant gratification.

Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Mohamed Ali didn’t become “The Greatest” in their field overnight. It was a struggle at times. To each however, the ultimate reward was worth the struggle.

Life itself is a balance of mountain tops  and struggles. It’s a typical daily diet of better choices. Humans need nutrients to have a successfully running metabolism!

We are not meant to consume only one food category. Balance your diet plan with many different types of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and herbs. Vary your protein intake with a variety of lean protein. Consume healthy fat. But if you consume a fattier meal one day, so what? Get right back on the ” better selection” routine and eat more disciplined the next day.

When discouraged, or if you reach a plateau in your weight quest and can’t seem to lose those last few pounds, always reconsider your original instructions:

  1. Are you eating nutrient-dense foods?
  2. Using smaller plates?
  3. Exercising?
  4. Drinking enough water?
  5. Is your routine becoming boring? Change it up. Consume different nutritious foods or create different ways to exercise.
  6. Perhaps you need a short attainable goal?
  7. Talk yourself into continuing to strive for excellence!

No matter what challenges you encounter, learn from them and keep going! I’m praying you wouldn’t think of turning your back on your Christian lifestyle simply because you made a mistake. So please don’t turn your back on a healthy lifestyle.

God, the Ultimate Coach, is forgiving and extremely patient with us. He is our Encourager, motivating us onward toward being our best self and yet gently reprimanding us if we tend to not listen to His counsel:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  (Colossians 3:23)