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)


Resolve to Become Stronger in Your Health Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Well not necessarily  – especially when it comes to what you eat. We have a choice and I trust you’ll choose life-giving nutrients.

Have you ever heard someone say that they’re “dying” for a piece of pie, fried chicken, bacon, mac and cheese or a hot fudge sundae? Yes those are delicious and I doubt if consuming a bit of anything will kill them if they are healthy to begin with and eating in moderation. However, if one suffers from diabetes or a heart condition, eventually wrong culinary choices could.

Anything is fine in moderation and there is no formula or one size-fits-all-diet-plan because each person is created chemically unique. With the billions on Earth who have lived, there has never been anyone exactly like you. Amazing isn’t it? (And “diet” is a generic term, meaning only what we consume each day. Therefore everyone’s on some kind of diet daily.)

Whoops wait, regarding that anything in moderation remark! (Written tongue-in-cheek.) I seemingly must add a caveat for those who will write to me and state if one is allergic to it or if it’s a poisonous berry DON’T consume it, so actually everything isn’t fine in moderation . . . sigh. My mother used to say, “Don’t put beans in your ears,” too, referring to whatever is basically common sense and should be easy to figure out as well.

So that being said, have you decided how important is it to YOU to consume healthier food? Do you love food more than playing with your children, hiking in the Alps, dancing at your daughter’s wedding or being  able to sit in an amusement park seat? Sadly, these are true incidents of patients of mine who loved food more than the joys of life itself.

Abundant health isn’t something you can obtain by sending in a form and receiving a certificate in return. Nor is it something you can purchase for any amount of money. Health can only be acquired through individual desire, a denial of self and a disciplined nature. Ask yourself how much do you want to be healthy? Or have you truly made food an idol which you’d rather not give up?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” (Psalm 28:7)

Why do so many think of God as Lucy to our Charlie Brown? Remember how Lucy used to snatch away poor Charlie’s football when he was hopeful she’d finally hold it for him? God only wants to provide GOOD for us! He gave us all these fabulous choices for us to eat, why don’t we choose those? It wasn’t God who messed up our environment – we did just fine by ourselves by greedily plundering the soil of nutrients.

There’s always a trade-off to health.  As mentioned, there’s discipline involved. I’ve seen what wrong choices do, not only to one’s waistline, but to one’s mental capacity as well. We ARE what we eat and I’d prefer to maintain adequate energy and mental function as long as possible. I enjoy being flexible enough to touch my toes as I approach age 70. Please choose health, you won’t be sorry!

This is a time of the harvest when Farmer’s Markets have an abundance of fabulous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs for purchase. Fresh herbs and spices add flavor to foods so much more than plain salt. Experiment with different selections. Praise God for a truly abundant life!


Make Your Weight Loss Goals Foundationally Sound

It’s the middle of summer and once-determined dieters are falling by the wayside every day. Why? Because they’ve had their cruise, wedding, vacation, class/family reunion or other event and their goal for losing weight has ended. Now they are creeping back toward their unhealthy habits and wondering what went wrong. It’s a common occurrence.

foundation built on sand (2)

It’s important to unmask the primary emotional and psychological reasons why one eats uncontrollably or the underlying challenge returns. Until someone asks, “Why am I doing this?” they fail to recognize the true problem. It’s like slathering paint over moldy dry wall hoping for new results.

The “why” of your goal is the foundational question. One needs a personally capable, strong foundation and an honest evaluation to complete any weight loss program successfully. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have a goal and many want to lose for a special event. Keep in mind , those are temporary, however. When the event is over, so is the motivation. Real change is a forever desire. Don’t you always want to feel vibrant and healthy?

Many build their diet on false physiological concepts. The diet plan sounds good but are only half-truths with no strong scientific and metabolic truth. These diet programs are the equivalent of  sandy foundations.

Those who seek them are the ones who follow the latest fad because they’ve already tried everything else: the Cabbage Soup, Atkins, Cottage Cheese, fruit or Rice Diet, liquids, magic pills, even in my opinion, the Paleo Diet. These come and go, popular one day, out-of-fashion the next. No one can remain on them forever because they aren’t foundationally sound. The body rebels due to an unbalanced chemical need. These diets wash away with the sands of time as quickly as they come, until the next sand castle concept.

Why are they false? Because these diet plans do not hold to absolute physiological Truth. What if I told someone he could jump off a 50 story building and he’d fly simply by flapping his arms? It ain’t gonna happen! But false diet gurus are professing exactly that crazy mentality and people buy into it. “Lose ten pounds of fat in ten days!” Sorry, physiologically not true!

A firm foundation will stand the test of time: the Mediterranean, DASH and Volumetrics. All of these are built solidly on the rock of physiological truth and nutritional balance so it doesn’t topple your metabolic castle

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matthew 7: 24-27)

The bottom line however is that many factors contribute to success or failure. Apathy, discouragement, boredom, peer pressure, family distractions . . . all influence decisions. Know what triggers yours. Continue to strive for health because God desires excellence from us . . . in all we do, especially our dietary habits. We control what goes into our bodies, so if we choose to self-destruct, that’s a psychological issue. Figure out why.

Become your best self for Him for he sacrificed all for us.

Godly Lessons Learned From a Pup!

cj-with-chewy-bone-from-dave“Mr. No-No” turned one year old Friday. He is the cutest, fluffiest and most loving dog we have ever had. A new breed, Cavashon is a cross between a King Charles Spaniel and a Bischon. They shed little, are very affectionate and gentle. I can remove a toy from his mouth without getting my hand bitten off. Quite a change from our Lhasa or even our sweet Cocker who sadly we lost last year.

It takes a lot of energy to keep puppies occupied.  I take ours for long walks rain or shine, but since we have no sidewalks, when it’s icy or snowy as it was yesterday, walking is too dangerous. I kept him entertained at home.

I’ve learned many lessons from him and the first was that puppies are meant for younger people.

The second: self-discipline.

Puppies are similar to toddlers. Our floor looks like a bone yard: bones, chewy toys, Kongs are currently strewn all over the living room. No matter how many times I put toys away, he seems to prefer his life disorganized. Sometimes he looks like Yoda rifling through Luke’s pack, throwing items to and fro from his toy box, butt in the air.

As we mature, we should prefer order not disorder in our lives. Order keeps us disciplined and God is a God of Order. A disciplined life evokes what is right even though we don’t feel like it. Yes there are days when it is raining, snowing or 27 degrees when I don’t feel like walking. But if your child is crying and really needs you, you can’t ignore that. Our pup is counting on me too. After I have overcome “self” I feel I’ve conquered negativity while disciplining myself.

Second lesson: Realize what’s truly important. 

Observing all those toys flung over the floor, I wonder if he has a clue how fortunate he is?! “There are thousands of dogs starving in China who would appreciate all he has!”  (Sorry, flashback to being six years old and refusing to eat peas.) The point is, to our dog, those toys are primarily a means to an end. He brings me the toys so I’ll have time with him. It’s the process of playing together with the tuggie or bouncy toy that means the most to him.

Do we understand how blessed we are with the many “toys” God gives us? Or do we long for even more, never satisfied. What’s truly important in life? How much is enough? It’s all just stuff. It won’t last but next year’s new toy is calling your name; “work harder and you’ll be able to purchase it!” If you ask your child what he’d prefer, a new television or hanging out with you at the park, would he answer “I’d rather be with you?” Or have you taught him that the one with the most stuff wins?

Thirdly: Be content with what you have.

I observed Mr. No No lying on the floor watching his sister happily chomping away at a small bone. There was another larger bone and several toys right beside him but he wanted what he couldn’t have.

How like us! God created us uniquely with various body shapes and personalities. Does that make us happy? No. We want to look like Beyonce, Angelina, Brad or Clooney. Appreciate what you have. Strive to be your best for God. You’ll be much happier and content.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Lastly God’s Love is unconditional and so is our dog’s. Oh, they grow up so quickly! Love unconditionally too.

The Joy of Obeying Our Master

For a while our 6-month-old Cavashon puppy must have thought his name was “No-NCJ at six monthso” because he got into so much trouble due to his curious mind. Poor little guy, he tries so hard to make us proud of him; he’s such a sweet dog. However, if we didn’t train him correctly he’d become an uncontrollable dog; (like unruly kids we who are never given boundaries.)

Our puppy wants to please us. He takes joy in hearing “Good boy!” (Or perhaps he’s thinking, “Yeah sure lady . . . just give me that treat.”)

It takes a lot of training and energy to learn something right. Just like our children, “we must train up a puppy in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (paraphrasing Proverbs 22:6.) A well-mannered dog is a pleasure to be around, similarly to lovely children.

This got me thinking about the correlation between boundaries in a dog’s world and those within Christianity and food. What if we all did what was right in our own eyes; no boundaries? (Judges 21:25) The world is leaning greatly in that direction, isn’t it? Just look at what is acceptable behavior today which wasn’t even 50 years ago.

When I accepted the Lord as my Savior, I attended a very legalistic church. As an opinionated teenager, I constantly heard “no-no’s” too: “Don’t wear makeup.” “You can’t wear skirts that short!” “Movies are forbidden!” “Modern music is the devil’s voice” “Dancing is upright fornication!” But I heard no sermons on the Joy in the Lord. My goodness, no wonder I rebelled in college – I was finally free – no boundaries!

We live under Grace today. God gives us the right to choose how we live and would never legally restrict us or hold anything back. Regardless, He wants us to choose to obey Him out of love and gratitude. After all, Christ sacrificed ALL on the cross for us – is that asking too much?

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness?…   (Romans 6:14-16)

As for our nutritional habits, we should strive to live healthy lives because we want to please our Lord and Savior, not because we have to. Scripture states that under grace, anything is fine in moderation. (1 Corinthians 10:23.) Is it too much of a sacrifice to eat only four Hershey Kisses (25 calories each) instead of the entire bag? Consume 6 ounces of sirloin instead of half a cow? Who is your Master, food or God?

Regarding our puppy, it’ll take time to master our commands. We don’t expect him to be perfect. And as Christians, we’ll never be perfect either, so strive for excellence and obedience. As far as our eating habits go, try to master cravings, don’t allow them to rule over you. God doesn’t restrict your culinary pleasures; you can consume bacon and French fries, but why would you eat them everyday if they destroy your personal temple of the Holy Spirit? You wouldn’t think of throwing trash on the floor of a sacred site in Jerusalem, why trash your bodily temple?

I look forward to my own “Good Girl” approval when God lovingly looks at me and says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”   (Matthew 25:23)   That would mean more than Chocolate!!!

Is Instant Gratification Good or Bad For Us?

I believe in a Bible of Authority. God SPOKE and there was light. He SPOKE and the world came into existence. God SPOKE and the universe was created in an instant . . .

Have you ever noticed however, that God took time to create a man?  Why? That’s a curious action to meditate upon, isn’t it? Amazingly, He didn’t simply speak and automatically God forming manman existed. Rather He lovingly and thoughtfully formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed His own life’s breath into him.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” Genesis 2: 7,8

It wasn’t long afterward however that man childishly demanded instant gratification. Paradise wasn’t enough, peacefully walking throughout Eden, communing with God wasn’t enough. Adam desired to be like God with the knowledge of good and evil. Well, we know how that turned out, don’t we? Satan rejoiced over man’s fall.

As Adam discovered, instant gratification can be a painful lesson over the long haul. And man hasn’t changed over 6,000 years!  As Ecclesiastes 1:9 declares, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”(ESV)

Look at young celebrities who sign million dollar contracts and immediately fall to drugs, alcohol. gambling or other lifestyle debauchery. It’s too much, too soon. The reward came before the discipline to maintain it. The same can be said regarding many lottery winners and sports stars. Instant gratification produced a downfall.

When one gets married nowadays, many instantly purchase the huge, immaculately furnished home with the beautifully manicured lawn and two car garage for their his and her brand new automobiles. The 60 inch HD screen lies impressively on the media room’s surround-sound wall, so playing the latest video game system is pure pleasure. Instant reward! Until the bills outweigh the income and the filing of bankruptcy begins.

So it is with losing weight too quickly on pie-in-the-sky fad diets as well! “Lose 10 lbs. in 7 days!” It bankrupts the spirit and doesn’t teach anything. Sadly after someone finishes a fad diet plan, the weight piles back on when the old eating habits return. This doesn’t teach the underlying reasons why we eat as we do. Even worse, the dieter will gain back fat to replace the muscle lost. This bankrupts the soul, making a Christian feel like a failure . . . and Satan rejoices.

Since God wants us to be the healthiest we can be, it was no secret how He wanted man to eat. God told us in Genesis 1:9 and Genesis 9:3.  We don’t need a PhD to understand, just a heart willing to work for it. When one knows physiology, he recognizes how complicated our bodily machinery is. I would hope you wouldn’t place sugar and Crisco in your gas tank so why would you place junk food in your body?

God knew it was good for man to work for what he receives.  When man builds his own house with his own hands, he’ll take pride in that accomplishment and will care about the upkeep. When someone loses weight using personal discipline and God’s sensible culinary plan, he’ll have a stake in keeping the weight off. What one treasures, one takes care of!