Archives

Are We Becoming a Wasteland?

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)

I must have finally become “old” for I am longing for the good old days. I remember a time in the 1950s when my grandfather declared that Rock and Roll was destroying today’s youth! Now those songs seem so innocent compared to the Rap, Rock and even Country lyrics heard today.

I know we tend to build on memory and make the past better than it was, but I don’t recall a previous time when civility was as out of control as it is today! Even during two terrible world wars, most people still had respect for one another.

Not today. And even in the ’50s and ’60s, when there were strip clubs and pornography, it wasn’t blatantly viewed daily on television as we do now. Even during the angry generation of the 1960s, if a man swore in front of me, he’d immediately apologize afterwards. Now young men in stores casually drop f-bombs and think nothing of it. I have seen little girls go from wearing patent leather shoes to high heels and butt-exposing shorts with no regard to modesty, while her mom apparently approves because she’s wearing a matching outfit.

Heard nightly on the news, protest groups want to convert others to their radical “religion.” I ask you: ‘Why would we EVER want to become them? Their ways are neither loving nor uplifting.” And I am not only talking about radical religions in other countries but our own as well! When viewing someone’s unkind Christian remarks, what would make us desire their religion? I follow NO religion . . . I follow Christ!

In today’s world of apathy and depravity, how many long to hear the sweet words of our Lord? You’re right, not many. We have a great famine in our country and it’s not for lack of food. 66% of our country is overweight and don’t care! They’d rather follow a famous false diet guru than God’s healthy- living plan.

The famine I speak of is a famine for Moral Truth. Please don’ become an unthinking sheep wandering in a swamp of destruction. How much farther can our nation plummet into the muck before we’ll perish? Who has the courage to stand out with Godly Conviction, declaring “enough!” and lead us out of our pit?

Today we see so many children innocuous to suffering, either due to ignorance, (no one has shown them Jesus) apathy (which is the opposite of love) or blatant disregard for rules and regulations. After all, taking drugs isn’t hurting anyone else! Must I remind you that we don’t live in a vacuum? Everything we do affects someone else! It’s called the “Butterfly Effect.”

“They wouldn’t listen or pay attention but became obstinate, not listening or accepting discipline.” (Jeremiah 17:23)

I believe your neighbor is thirsting for the Word of God (and everyone is our neighbor!) All you have to do is speak out. I realize it’s scary at first to profess Christ, but it gets easier as Jesus controls your life. Pray for opportunities and they will come. Don’t be afraid – for won’t it be more embarrassing if before they are sentenced to an eternity in hell, they ask God, But why didn’t Ellie tell me about Christ? As Christians, remember we never stand alone! Put on that full Armor of God and don’t hesitate to spread the Word of Truth!

 

Advertisements

Release the Shackles Mentally Binding You

In some families if a child or spouse gave an opinion at the dinner table, there was an immediate rebuke. That subconsciously taught them that their feelings or opinions didn’t matter. Therefore, as time went by, some grew fearful of expressing themselves for fear of humiliation. To give an opinion to them meant; “keep your opinion to yourself, that’s unimportant. Just do as I say.”

These actions can can even meld into the workplace or other relationships. So we shut down, hiding our feelings.

No wonder people learn to fear authority and bury every emotion within. No one wants to be rejected and face humiliation. People turn to food or other addiction like drugs or alcohol to mask inward pain.  I specialize in food addiction. Addicts discover food comforts; de-stresses, never talks back and is like a warm hug against their inner child.

Were you allowed as a child, to voice an opinion without ridicule, or were you expected to withhold your opinion? You might believe you have no value, while God tells you, “I don’t make junk.” Your feelings matter, especially to God! He made you and you aren’t JUNK!

It’s a daunting challenge to overcome that mindset, when over time it’s embedded in our brains.

Connections to our past hover just below the surface. We never really outgrow childhood memories. After so many years of holding onto the pain, sometimes, something minuscule unlocks the floodgates. Submerged  frustration or bitter words can recklessly spew out all at once. Have you ever yelled at your spouse, child or pet and it had absolutely nothing to do with them?

Case in point: a husband playfully teased his wife about her eating habits one evening. His comments struck her the wrong way and she lashed out at him. It seems her father, a malicious, belittling man, consistently taunted and shamed her at the dinner table in front of others. A flash of memory and her husband became the recipient of that hurtful recollection.

Sometimes, even those who lash out have no idea why they act as they do toward another. In psychology that’s called transference.

Choose to break that chain:

  • You are important to those who truly care about you. If you feel comfortable enough, reveal that personal memory regarding why you reacted that way. If not, speak to a pastor, counselor or trusted friend. Leave it at the Lord’s feet and move on!
  • When under stress, don’t eat – find positive actions: 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 frustrations.
  • Positive affirmations matter. You are special to God simply because you exist! Delve further into the Word to confirm it.
  • 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 prolong the problem. Release the shackles that bind you to the past.

Speak the Truth in love if someone hurts you. Memorize Scripture and don’t become provoked. Look at the intent of the one who tries your patience. Was it truly intentional or were they simply unaware? Gather the courage to divulge how a statement made you feel.

“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

Attempting Perfection? Ain’t Gonna Happen!

As one begins a quest for health, either through fitness or weight loss, many strive for perfection. Did you as well? How did that go? When you failed to achieve it, did you became discouraged, falter and give up?

Unfortunately, perfection is unattainable at any age. Therefore, strive for excellence, not perfection.

But why did we expect perfection from ourselves in the first place? Did we think perfection would make others like and appreciate us more? It won’t. In fact, Romans 3:10 informs us that there was only one perfect person ever born, our Lord. If you recall, most people didn’t like him much while He lived on earth and even today Jesus continues to have countless enemies.

Humans cannot be perfect no matter how hard they try. No one else is Christ. If God doesn’t expect perfection from us; only obedience, how could we possibly think we could ever become godly enough to achieve perfection?

May I remind you that God used normal, everyday imperfect human beings for his work? We tend to believe that the personalities of the Bible were superheroes, larger than life, but look again:

Abraham was old and Jeremiah was a child, Moses was timid and not a great speaker while Peter was proud and had a temper. Elijah got discouraged and Jeremiah was frequently depressed. Paul was egotistical and boastful while Jonah was a coward, David was an adulterer as well as a murderer and Solomon seemed to love women more than his LORD.

And don’t think women were any better: Sarah was a doubter, Rebekah was a schemer, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was controlling and Rahab was a prostitute!

Just as parents love their children no matter what, God loves us and desires what’s best for us. We are not perfect, but that shouldn’t give us license to be disobedient either.

Isn’t it a relief that God does not expect perfection from us to be useful to Him?! Knowing that, what does our testimony say about us? I’m quite certain you have never killed anyone but have you ever gossiped or let gluttony overcome you at a church social? Remember sin is sin in God’s eyes and His Son died for all sins; even gluttony, laziness and gossip.

Striving for excellence pleases God. How we live represents our Christian testimony. Concentrate on that aspect rather than expecting personal perfection which only frustrates and discourages. We must begin to create a strong godly example here on earth so we will hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

People are watching us as an example of Christianity. Do we represent someone a non-Christian would strive to be? What strengths will we eventually bring to place at His Holy Pierced Feet?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)        

 

Counting the Cost Before “Dieting”

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-30 28)

Many people jump into the dieting realm without counting the cost too

A sensible diet begins by contemplating ALL options of a health plan: how solid is the “soil” I’m building upon, how much time do I invest, what is the environment surrounding the “project” like? Which architect designed the plans and is he/she credible?

1. Do you decide which diet you’ll try because it’s currently popular? “Well that celebrity lost weight!” (Bear in mind that celeb has a personal trainer, chef, massage therapist, psychologist and a contract!!!)

Successful plans begin with solid foundations. Does it include wholesome complex carbohydrates, (fiber) lean protein, good fats? Steer away from fake diet gurus who advocate eliminating entire nutritionally-dense food groups because the brain’s hypothalamus will nag for specific nutrients until you give in. (But you’ll believe you have no willpower.)

2. Seek one that fits your lifestyle

Let’s say in the corporate world your job includes escorting clients to restaurants. Getting healthy will then only work if you know what constitutes sound selections like grilled meats or fish, veggies and a salad with a smidge of dressing. (Mediterranean, DASH, Volumetrics diet) Guard against peer pressure and concentrate on nutrients. Pre-plan accordingly.

3. Are you focused on an event rather than a lifestyle change? Do you contemplate the time of year or events coming up; vacations, holidays . . . parties?

Some people go on a “diet” to look good for a wedding, class reunion or other social occasion. When the event is over, so is their motivation. Ask yourself: how happy was I walking into that room feeling like a million bucks?  Don’t you want to feel like that every day??? You’ve worked hard to get in shape; now use visualization/mental discipline to maintain your hard work.

The only true diet is the one you stay on forever: moderation.

4. Recognize what type of personality you have and whether it will compliment the diet plan you attempt.

For example, if you absolutely love food, going on a liquid diet will drive you crazy. Besides that, the body has an innate desire to chew (because it releases enzymes to metabolize food) and you’ll be grabbing some pretzels by 2pm.

If you’re a curious person, stay away from buffets.

5. Most importantly, you must ask: are you truly, mentally ready to impart on a lifestyle change? Have you emotionally hit rock bottom, been ridiculed or lost total control in public; been diagnosed with a debilitating health issue?

All of these questions and others must be addressed before one jumps into a health plan. Otherwise you’re set for failure and all that does is discourage, shame and have you believing the lies of the devil who whispers in your ear, “See I told you, you couldn’t do it. You’ve failed yet again!”

Crazy diets never work and yet even healthy diets won’t if you aren’t ready to change your lifestyle!

When I find myself losing control at buffets or a party, I ask myself, “Which do I love more, this food or my Lord who sacrificed himself for my gluttony and idol worship of food?”

No contest – my Lord Jesus wins every time!

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”  (Psalm 34:8)

 

 

Staying Motivated in Our Tempting World

Everyone starts out enthusiastically when the pounds drop off on a new healthier living plan. Your family, co-workers and church friends start to notice and encouragement abounds!

Fast forward another month: you receive more compliments on how nice you look in some stunning new outfits. Lots of “that-a-boys” come your way. You beam a wide smile and thank them, determined to continue.

Another few weeks pass and the praise has declined. Even family members seem to take your weight loss for granted. You sigh, anticipating the upcoming summer BBQ’s with all its scrumptious ribs, burgers, potato salads and desserts.

What’s a person to do?? No one notices anyway, you shrug, so what difference would it make if I overindulged?

 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

No one notices??? GOD notices!

Of course it’s nice to get compliments . . . we all love compliments! Don’t beat yourself up over it. But if “self” and showing off, is the only reason, it won’t last.  Sometimes we’re too self-centered within our own little world. Sad but true.

Fact: We must get healthy because we want to honor God more than we want food! We should get healthy because we respect our earthly temple and our Christian testimony!

You might nag others to be more Christian, yet you practice idol worship! Why would anyone want to be you? Strive to be your most excellent self! God doesn’t expect perfection from Believers, but He does expect obedience. What has He asked us to be? HOLY! 1 Peter 1:16 states, “for it is written: Be holy, for I am holy.” It’s hard to be holy when we lack self-control, practicing gluttony.

Of course God wants us to enjoy life. That includes wholesome food. Christians are supposed to exhibit Joy, peace, confidence and self-control, not mournfully throw ashes on our face while suffering healthy-living.

“Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don’t squander your precious life.” (Proverbs 8:33) 

So here’s my advice to strengthen resolve:

  1. Chart your weight loss on graph paper. It’s a tangible, trackable action. Be competitive within yourself. Tell yourself when you reach another three-pound loss, you’ll finally purchase an item you’ve wanted. (Anything but food.)When you’ve reached ten pounds, purchase that new cologne or scarf you’ve waited for. For every few pounds, reward yourself as we did when we were young.
  2. Memorize motivating Scripture verses, placing them throughout your home. Place affirmations around the home: on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, computer, auto dashboard. Remind yourself of 1 John 4:4 and Philippians 4:1
  3. Use visualization skills and visualize ugly fat coursing through your veins or smeared over your face. Yuk!
  4. Find new support partners by creating a healthy recipe club.
  5. Create a scrapbook of clothing styles you’ll try when you reach a certain goal. Place a few pictures on the fridge to encourage you.
  6. Exercise increases positive endorphins. Keep walking, swimming, biking or join a sports club in your community.
  7. Get your children involved! Exercise with them while watching television. When you win by losing, your entire family wins! This creates bonding memories.
  8. I’ve always urged my patients to find personal, positive actions for health but if you weaken, find a picture of our Lord crucified and place THAT on the fridge or cupboard. Jesus died for all sins, even the sin of gluttony and lack of control. Ask yourself, do I love Christ more than this food? Only you can answer that question.

Get healthy in gratitude to God for giving us an abundant life while in our earthly jars of clay!  (2 Corinthians 4:7)

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 Dark Chocolate is the Perfect Valentine Gift!

On a morning show recently, I heard this health professional snidely remark, “Well you wouldn’t eat dark chocolate every day would you???”

Oh my dear lady, Of course I would and usually DO!

Doesn’t she keep up on the latest info available? Oh wait, never mind. I derived mine from God’s instructions 6,000 years ago when God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the Garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let me assure you: the cocoa bean comes from a tree which isn’t evil.

I know, I could have waited until next week but hopefully husbands are contemplating Valentine’s gifts this week. So I’m passing along this suggestion now.

Sometimes I overhear, “Oh, I was baaaad; I ate chocolate this week.” Giggle, giggle.

Why is chocolate so maligned? Chocolate, in moderation, is one of the finest, nutrient-dense  foods one can consume. The cocoa myth ranks up there with avoiding eggs and shrimp with good HDL cholesterol.

I follow a simple formula, if God says it, I believe it, that settles it. However in case you don’t, let me convince you of the benefits of dark chocolate.

Chocolate is a powerful anti-oxidant, ranking even higher than the acai, pomegranate and blueberry on the protection scale. What do antioxidants do? Let me count the ways:

  1. They act as a natural sunblock, protecting us against ultra violet rays and skin damage.
  2. It protects against ailments like heart disease, vision impairments, hypertension, diabetes and cancers.
  3. It assists in lowering blood pressure because chocolate contains natural nitric oxide which increases oxygen levels and relaxes blood vessels.

Chocolate boosts our mood due to its phenethylamine (PEA) content. This is a 50-cent word which stimulates the brain to produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. PEA acts as drug. It stimulates the nervous system and triggers feel good endorphins. (One reason chocolate’s addictive. It’s hard to stop something that makes you feel so emotionally good.)

But a normal serotonin level is important because it improves one’s mood, sleep patterns and increases libido. When one is low in serotonin, they’re usually cranky, impatient and could act erratically. Women who suffer from PMS often find themselves depressed, craving chocolate because serotonin levels are diminished.

Subconsciously you might find yourself searching for chocolate after you’ve had a bad day or are lonely. Remember it’s a treat not a crutch. Bring it into your home only if you can control your behavior around it.

Chocolate is an enigma. It contains theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants and yet  reduces the stress-hormone cortisol, once again increasing serotonin, the pleasure hormone.

The nutrients found in chocolate are incredible: Potassium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, great fatty acids, good saturated and monounsaturated fat. The cocoa bean also contains valuable flavonoids, polyphenols, fiber and cocoa butter, (a great moisturizer.)

Chocolate even contains powerful probiotics which improve digestion and good bacteria to fight infection. Need another reason to consume chocolate? Believe it or not the antibacterial compounds will fight plague and tooth decay!

One of the best ways to consume dark chocolate is to place 15 semi-sweet chocolate chips in a small container. Eat one at a time, savoring each one. Don’t place another in your mouth until you’re done with the first one.

Another way is to melt those chips and slice fresh berries, bananas or your favorite fruit and use chocolate as a dip.

These are just some of the many ways chocolate benefits the body. Just enjoy God’s bounty without making anything an idol.

“The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us.” (Psalm 67:6)