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Creating that Long-Lasting Relationship

“What does it take to create an enduring, long-lasting  relationship?” That question was asked of me several times during our recent 50th anniversary cruise.

So what was my answer? “That’s an easy one,” I replied.

Having God as the center of any marriage for one. No one can sustain a perfect relationship without a strong anchor. For the marital-bliss-winds can shift direction at any time and chaos, tribulations and uncertainty follow.  No one can sustain happiness forever for that depends on emotional up and down days; but if God is your anchor, you’ll find true JOY and remain grounded.

Communication ranks right up there as well. Spouses aren’t mind-readers! When one asks, “What’s wrong?” and the other sarcastically replies nothing,” how is that helping? Don’t stubbornly resist, talk it over. Don’t let one’s hard-headedness dictate what Satan gleefully desires.

God created the first marriage and Satan promptly went about messing things up. Not only did they not communicate, they failed to seek God’s Will: His Word! Whenever a couple is uncertain, asking, “What should we do about . . . (whatever) ?” Don’t make decisions harder than they should be. You’ll find the answer anchored in Scripture and that should end the discussion.

Laughter! The devil hates to hear Christians joyful and God loves it! Life is too short to not enjoy it! Don’t settle for second best and don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy each other’s company, marry your best friend and seek to be a team even after you have children. (I’ve seen so many marriages break up because one loves their children more than their spouse.)

No matter how busy you are, spend as much time together as you can. In my book “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese!” I wrote about marriage being a three-ring-circus. A circus has one large ring in-between two smaller rings. The large representing together time. Sometimes, for a number of reasons, those rings get lopsided . Too many spouses lose themselves in the other’s relationship, giving up their interests for the sake of the other. What happens then? They become boring. Never lose your identity – it’s what made you unique and why they fell in love with you in the first place.

Don’t become stagnant. Continually grow and change. You’ll never get bored with each other. I’ve been very fortunate to have two and my husband three diverse careers. We’ve moved twenty times in our lives as well as lived in a motorhome fulltime for six years, traveling around the States. We’ve met wonderful people and seen sites many only dream about. Our life’s been blessed!

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Has any reader picked up on the fact that the same attributes which create a successful marriage, contribute to a close relationship with our Lord?

What is your relationship to Christ? Cultivate a beneficial and meaningful relationship with Jesus in the same way:

Communicate: the more you read your Bible, the more you’ll understand how to please him and the closer you’ll get to a stronger, richer relationship.

Use your Spiritual Gifts, don’t allow them to become stagnant. Make your relationship with Christ your largest center ring. Grow and Blossom together. Those gifts can help others in need, but one must practice them.

Become JOYFUL. Even amidst trials and hardships, consider how God has blessed you. Praise Him for the home He’s provided, family you have, for the food on your table and the friendships you enjoy.

Love Richly!

Feeding on Ashes

“He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:14–20)

With an abundance of great culinary choices, why do we continue to choose unwisely? Why do some choose to feed on ashes? That’s unnecessary. If one eats as God intended, even if you have a debilitating illness (which be honest, unhealthy food choices most likely contributed to) it can greatly change your quality of life.

Some follow what I call, “the penance principle” when they decide to follow a “diet.” Believing they must flagellate myself and suffer or God won’t bless them. That means rice cakes and celery sticks every day.

Some (and this is sad – even some CHRISTIANS) follow a magical formula proposed by some health professional. After all, with modern science, those diet gurus must know more than God. I’m talking about the Paleo, Atkins, Paleo which restricts a certain food or entire category of foods while proclaiming the same unbiblical notion repeatedly.

These are False and all have the same theme! There is nothing new under the sun.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Don’t we realize what a slap in the face of God it is to follow a false teacher rather than HIm? To say, “Well, God made a mistake, I know better now.”

I prefer to follow and profess God’s Will:

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Genesis 1:29)

Every nutrient needed for optimum health can be found in the rain forests and family farms. God bless the farmers! I believe that after the world-wide flood, the atmosphere and probably our physiological chemistry needs changed (and animals could over-populate the earth) God declared:

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” (Genesis 9:3)

Must I remind you that doesn’t give us license to gorge ourselves, destroying our temples with fattening, processed, chemically-infused foods?

In “1 Corinthians 10:23 we read: “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.”

We need to practice self-control and make wise choices.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,”  (Ephesians 5:15-18)

Whatever takes the place of God, preventing us from maintaining control; preferring that item to God becomes an idol. Replace the word wine with chocolate, French fries, colas, fast food, smoking, sports, television even and you understand what I’m talking about.

God did not create a robotic nature for humans. He wants us to follow Him out of our own free will, out of Love. It’s our choice. I choose our Lord over French fries.  Easy choice.

Disclaimer: Yes I know some consume charcoal as medicine but that’s not God’s or my intended content here.

Healthy Encouragement to Succeed!

One of the best selling writers, Jerry Jenkins, expressed it very well: “I’ve made it my life’s work to coach writers because I’d love to see you enjoy the benefits I’ve enjoyed.” Well said, Mr. Jenkins.

I’m an author of several books, as well as a nutritional counselor. Like Mr. Jenkins, I urge and coach others to strive for healthier living because I want to see everyone enjoy the benefits I’ve enjoyed. By eating sensibly, you’ll obtain increased energy, more muscle (which burns fat), improved moods and a fit physique. I want you to feel JOY!  

I have no ulterior motive. Sure, I’d love to sell many more books, what author wouldn’t? And I enjoy hearing how I’ve  helped others. But have you noticed what’s happened to our culture over the past fifty years? With an abundance of fast-food locations, conveniently-packaged, chemically-based food choices, we’ve created an environment plagued by obesity.

One nurse I worked with years ago, playfully teased me at lunch in front of a group while eating a spoonful of icing. “Watch out, we’re being baaad and here comes the Food Police!” As she withdrew another huge spoonful from the container, she taunted, “Look Ellie, I never knew Crisco and powered sugar could taste so good! Mmmm.”

Okay, funny but some don’t get it! The icing isn’t bad. Losing control while not understanding why or not caring is!!! In fact, I’ll eat icing sometimes; but not much because although there’s pleasure in sugar, there are few nutrients. Sugar releases valuable serotonin but too much sugar creates moodiness, the “jitters” and ages us. Want that?

Even sadder is the fact that many do nothing to educate themselves regarding why and how to control their impulses. I have no willpower, they believe. Hardly. That same willpower which prevents us from telling off our mother-in-law is the same willpower we tap into when we need resistance. We have willpower, it simply needs to be prioritized.

There are other reasons why people overindulge besides lack of willpower – occasionally it’s emotional while other times it’s physical: medication, insulin production, inherited DNA among several.

A few suggestions to resist and overcome:

  1. Recognize why you crave this particular food. Let’s use icing as an example. We never truly outgrow our childhood. Perhaps you’re experiencing a horrific day and all you want to do now is feel the same secure warm-blanket-closeness you felt when your mom let you lick the spoon. Understand your feelings might not be about true hunger but what’s eating at you.
  2. A little icing is fine but if you can’t control your temptations, for heaven-sakes, don’t bring it into the house. Use sliced fruit or a drizzle of melted chocolate as a topping instead.
  3. Understand this: God wants you happy and healthy. If you can’t resist – get out of the house and go walking, biking, gardening or some other fresh air activity for at least twenty minutes. (If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth!) You can also read, write, watch a movie or something which will get your mind off eating.
  4. Personal favorite:  paint your nails!  (Okay, men, grease an axel.) We can’t get into a bag of chips if our nails are gooey. If that doesn’t work, take a bubble bath, wash your hair or call a supportive friend.

I wish people realized when a loved one suffers, everyone who cares about them does as well, especially God!

 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)

Live Vibrantly Healthy!

Caterpillar or Butterfly?

Does a butterfly look back on its life and wish it had remained a caterpillar? (I do wonder about strange things, don’t I?)

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder but most of us, if given a choice, would choose to be a butterfly I believe, rather than a caterpillar.

When it’s a caterpillar it’s pretty adorable; all soft and fluffy. And we usually “ooo” and “aah” over a butterfly and only “aahh, so cute!” over a caterpillar. Most of us just  aren’t content to be cute – we’d rather be beautiful, it’s human nature.

The caterpillar had the DNA inside him to change his nature, so do we? Some are naturally meant to be thinner than others; but we should ALL  desire to be our healthiest self. The butterfly eventually changed into the best of himself, so can you! Don’t be content to settle for a second best you.

Do you think the caterpillar knew its destiny or was it content to crawl around the leaves and up stems of flowers and never soar? Was it aware that it would eventually transform into a beautiful creature? I would think it was probably content in its ignorance. Just like discouraged dieters who sigh, “Well, I guess this is how I was made, so I’ll just accept it.”

In God’s timing, the caterpillar metamorphosed into a butterfly; and with its beautifully extended wings alighted on a flower for the first time. What a glorious accomplishment! Do you think it then grieved for its past life or rather rejoiced in its new abilities to fly? Did it ever wonder, “Why didn’t I do this sooner!”

So many of us are content in bodies that crawl or even stumble exhausted through life without any desire to reach greater heights! Strive for something better than mediocrity, you deserve it!

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

As a nutritionist, I usually heard a patient, after they met their goal, exclaim, “I feel wonderful! Why didn’t I do this sooner?!!!” In God’s timing He won’t force us to becomes healthier. It’s our decision. Only when we are ready to make him LORD over our choices will we be ready to become a new creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Don’t be content to drag yourself through your day with extra pounds and potential health issues. Are you tired of taking countless pills for blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a heart condition? Instead allow yourself to become a New Creation.

I very much enjoy watching the television show, Aerial America? Isn’t it amazing how soaring over this country can change our perspective on how we view objects we’ve seen countless times?! Isn’t it about time you saw life from a different perspective? Choose a healthier lifestyle and take control of your life.

Don’t crawl through life, SOAR with wings like the butterfly.

 

“How to Lose Weight in Five Easy Steps!”

Research shows that people gravitate to articles with this type of headline. I do too.

But how many nutritionists have heard the pleading words from a patient, “Just tell me what to do!” Like there’s a magic formula for rapid weight loss! The question is, will the same plan which works for Suzie, work for you?

Possibly, if it’s practical and nutritionally balanced like the Mediterranean Diet – but even then, we should realize we are all uniquely made.

We don’t see too many commercials any more with some beautiful person claiming “I’ve lost 58 pounds in a month . . . and you can too if you simply purchase “X.”

It’s the equivalent of: I’ve told you what to do, just do it and you too will look like me! Of course within a few months the weight comes back on and the dieter feels it’s his/her fault – I didn’t follow the formula correctly. Stupid me. Failure doesn’t do much for self esteem issues; (a reason we overeat.)

Weight loss success means knowing the “why” of it all. What are the personal habits and food idols which prevent you from succeeding? How’s your self-discipline? Is your lifestyle frantic? Are you currently battling a certain emotional trauma? Are you big-boned? Consider the fact that we all have a different physiological makeup, emotional background and discipline.

Health is a slow and steady individual process while learning to create new habits, eat balanced and overcome temptations in order to become a healthier version of oneself. It shouldn’t be about becoming a size two. Please don’t trust in an unreachable fantasy.

Salvation and nutrition are so similar in nature. You are the only one who can lose weight and become healthier. No one else can choose a different pathway except you. Sadly, lifestyle changes are not perfect pathways. It usually takes slow and steady progress to create new habits, avoid temptations and become a healthier version of you.

Jesus also knows each of us as individuals. He knew the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18–23) would never give up his wealth to follow him – it was his god. The Pharisees would never give up their power and recognize Jesus as Lord. Position and pride were their gods.

I ask you then, “What is your god?” Is it sleeping in instead of exercising? Consuming French fries each day instead of vegetables? Convenient Fast food instead of eating at home? None of these are wrong unless you love it more than your LORD.

Understand what’s keeping you from sucess. Take small steps to accomplish a goal. Reward yourself for each goal reached. Instant gratification never accomplishes much because nothing was done to achieve it and many people who win the lottery are broke within a few years without personal discipline.

Changing and becoming healthier improves character and when you sometimes fail, (which we all do) learn from it! It builds resolve!

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;” (1 Peter 1:5,6) 

How do you begin to change the inner self? First place the LORD over self. You’ll like that person you’ve become. What one cherishes, they take care of. Have you ever noticed that happy people are content with who they are? They aren’t necessarily the beautiful or thin people either! Contentment emanates from God’s Love. Appreciate Him enough to be your healthiest!

The Uniqueness of You

When I asked my mother what she wanted for her birthday, she would always smile and answer softly, “Oh, peace and contentment.” Isn’t that what we all should strive for?

Becoming a New Creation means embracing the true you, even imperfections. How many are content and at peace with who they truly are? Those I counseled usually wanted to look like someone else, a celebrity or a prettier version of themselves. Few told me they wanted to be a healthier version of themselves.

I would patiently customize a sensible meal plan that would fit with a patient’s tastes, budget and particular lifestyle. Stressing, Eat for nutrients; eat anything in moderation . . .

Week after week, some would lose weight while others presented excuses; (unexpected company, special events, holidays, etc.) to justify their lousy week. I had provided practical applications to avoid those temptations, yet they failed to comply. I’ve heard every excuse. They weren’t fooling me; they were fooling themselves.

For if one has the will, they’ll find the way – if it’s something they truly want.

Even if I had a magic wand and could instantly turn them into a size two, I know they wouldn’t remain a size two for long, because there was something masking the true reason they weren’t getting healthy.

If this is you, figure out why you’ve self-destructed:

1. Whether it is one’s upbringing, “You better eat everything on your plate or NO DESERT for you!” – insecurity, shame, illness, circumstances – many eat for “masked” reasons. It might not even be a seemingly bad reason – some are simply happy or curious eaters and lose control. Someone, perhaps being poor growing up, subconsciously fears food won’t be there tomorrow.

2.  Occasionally it’s a medical reason. Illnesses and medications can slow metabolism, influence electrolyte and water balances. It’s extremely tough, but have patience. Consuming healthier foods; all while learning new habits is what I’d recommend until off medication and weight loss can begin.

3. Perhaps it’s psychosomatic; stress, emotional issues or perceived guilt denies success, especially when the mind believes it must protect itself. Reading positive books, exercising, fresh air, meditating, listening to soothing (or even rock) music can calm or invigorate.

4. Sometimes it’s physical challenges. If someone is big-boned, they’ll never become a comfortable size two, no matter how much they desire to. “To accept the things we cannot change,” is part of the serenity prayer. We are all unique and becoming the best creation you can be should be the goal, not lusting after a celebrity’s body shape or lifestyle. Focusing on unrealistic possibilities makes us miss out on so much in life!

I especially enjoy counseling when that aha moment appears. When a patient finally recognize why they act as they do. I know then, they’ll truly begin taking control of their health. Find yours!

Bottom line? Since we’re all unique there’s no “one-size-fits-all” reason for success or failure. We are all individuals with different needs and desires. Know yourself as God knows you. For Psalm 139: 13-16 professes:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.  (ESV)

God knows you are unique and loved. He created you. Love back – honor your earthly temple.

Personal River of Change

Thank you to all of my followers who didn’t quit on me during my long sabbatical. It’s hard to return after being away from blogging. One reason is because it’s difficult to come up with a first post! It’s not as easy as: “Hi, I’m Back!!! Gotta love me!”

Recently I saw a poster entitled “Life is like a River.” How often have you heard that saying? Poems are written about it, Facebook posts share it and Garth Brooks beautifully sang about it. Wouldn’t a river analogy be the perfect segue after a life-changing sabbatical?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

 

Rivers are molded by their environment.

Rivers are amazing and beautiful. They can gently bring life back to a community or can flood it with a vengeance, if influenced by outside sources. Rivers can gently round off rocks, creating their beautiful smoothness or mold them into craggy, sharp, dangerous edges.

During my teenage years, our farm bordered part of the Susquehanna River. Since we weren’t far from its source in Cooperstown, NY, it wasn’t very wide. A stone could have easily been thrown across it. That is until the rains came and the river overflowed onto our fields. This could have been a good or bad event. It could destroy crops or enrich the soil.

Events happen in our lives that we have no control over. When downpours come into our lives, do we rant and rave? Sure, but even if justified, do we allow it to destroy our happiness? Do we accept life’s challenges, make the best of it and move on or have a pity party, mope and complain? How we react to a crisis is a personal choice. Choose Joy!

River intensity changes frequently

Our personal “life river” became a white water rafting trip last year when we traveled over some rocky shoals of life. Sadly, we were betrayed by beloved trusted friends, accosted and blindsided by an angry mob of “Pharisees.” Other innocent friends were hurt simply for being our acquaintances. Yet still their and our Faith never wavered.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Yes, God is Faithful. He almost miraculously moved us out of a toxic environment and provided a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Over the past five months, life has become incredibly rewarding and joyful once again, living in paradise. We are coasting on smooth waters and our faith not only endured but flourished.

Rivers are always moving forward, therefore no two days are ever the same: 

Several years ago, after my husband accepted his previous position, he was asked to join the staff of a wonderful Christian college. Having integrity, he declined, faithfully serving his congregation. It was evident that God’s River moves at its own pace, patiently instilling life experience. God eventually provided abundant blessings; moving us to that new teaching position and true Christian friendships.

Rivers are so diverse, no two are alike. Just like people 

I’m here to implore you to not focus on fragile, fallible Christians. God alone is perfect. Our past is a training field, learn from it. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. If you trust in God, rely on His Will, He will never forsake you!

It’s good to be back, my friends.

 

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!

 

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)