Don’t Cop an Attitude

WellDone_Matthew_25_21Inevitably all those habits and emotions can contribute to some really bad attitudes and those bad attitudes can stand in the way of our healing.  The most famous attitude is pride.  Pride causes people to feel self-sufficient and believe they have no need of other people.  Pride unchecked can cause a person to disassociate themselves from their family, friends, co-workers and GOD.  That kind of attitude is crippling to family unity and will split a church wide open.  The devil would love to cripple everyone with this disease called pride.  But God warned us what devastation pride can cause way back in Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.  Long before we ultimately fall, we will jeopardize our relationship with God and can block His blessings and healing from our lives.

If that old pride hangs around too long, it can soon lead to another bad attitude – disobedience.  We read in Ezekiel 5:7-8 – 7 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you’— 8 therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations.  Hindering God’s blessings is one thing, but to cause God’s judgment to come upon me is not what I’m looking for in life.  I am guilty of this attitude, “But God, I really want to do it my way this time.”  I must be crazy to even think that I could disobey God and receive anything but grief!

Even more frightening is what might come along if we keep walking in disobedience and it becomes a full blown case of rebellion.  Rebellion can spring from disobedience or be the cause of disobedience – but it is repugnant to God and leads to destruction of our lives.  King Saul disobeyed God’s command to destroy everyone and everything in the Amalekites camp and contrary to God’s instructions, he chose to keep some “for an offering for the Lord” and the result was God removing him and his heirs from being King of Israel.  I Samuel 15:22-23 – 22 So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.  23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

My desire is to serve God and walk in His ways so that I never have to fall, face God’s judgment or worse yet, God’s rejection.  When I get to the end of my life’s journey, I want to hear Him say to me… ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ – Matthew 25:21.

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Emotions Can’t Be Far Away

3John1_2

We humans are so often led by our emotions.  Try as we might to think logically and be analytical, those crazy emotions just come crashing in without invitation.  So it was directly behind some very strong, but negative emotions that I found another place for healing to be hiding.  It was not a great epiphany to realize this, but some of the facts behind the emotions were surprising and helped clarify why God’s Word has warned us about many of them.  Yes, if we would just take His Word as the final authority to begin with think of the pain we could save ourselves from.  That old human nature strikes again!

One of the first negative emotions that can lead to depression is unresolved anger which can develop into bitterness, wrath, etc.  These unresolved emotions can create an abundance of health related issues.  Anger causes our heart rate to increase and blood pressure to rise. Unresolved it can cause long-term health issues including insomnia, depression, skin & digestion problems, heart attacks and strokes. Ephesians 4:26, 27 & 31 – 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 31let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Second on my hit list of emotions standing between us and our healing is a natural by-product of unresolved anger and that is unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness actually causes muscle tension that can cause headaches, muscle pain, joint pain and other debilitating health issues.  The tension of the muscles can then cause decreased blood flow which reduces oxygen flow to the body.  Lack of oxygen keeps the body from cleansing itself properly as well as causing damage to the tissues.  Matthew 6:15 – But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  Medical science has now proven that God really did know best when He commanded us to forgive one another!

Following on the heels of unresolved anger and unforgiveness is hatred.  Hatred becomes a poison to families, work-places, and churches.  Hatred causes negativity, off-color comments, bullying and ultimately death.  Hatred within a group of people cripples their ability to function in harmony.  Galatians 5:19-26 – 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

A fourth emotion that can cripple us emotionally is fear.  Fear, like anger will cause our heart rate to increase, elevate blood pressure and blood sugar which in turn diminishes the amount of blood and oxygen to the body.  II Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

There are more, but these four made the highlight reel of this study.  They show us that God’s Word gives us direction so that we can prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2).  God’s commands are not to keep us from having fun, but to put us in the best posture to receive all His blessings and benefits.  When we follow His instructions for life, we will find all His blessings, including good health!

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It Started With Habits

John4_14I’m a geek. I admit it. So my journey began with hours of internet research.  I poured over information about healthy foods and the Daniel Fast, but early on, the Lord began showing me, that in addition to my healing hiding behind my weight, there were many other things that stand between God’s children and their healing.  The research was extended to develop a greater insight into why we, the children of God, have so many health issues, many of which are “optional” – my term to refer to those diseases that are often caused by our own actions, whether knowingly or unwittingly.  Since I like acronyms I focused my study around the word –

H – Habits

E – Emotions

A – Attitudes

L – Lawlessness (Sin)

I – Inaction

N – Negativity

G – Grief

These categories became the foundation for building a healthier life – and a healthier body of Christ.  And the winner of the top Habit on my outline was WEIGHT.  I just put it out there to the congregation at Conroe First that Wednesday night. Talk about accountability – I stood before those people and admitted that I was obese and that my bad eating habits were the cause and that those habits had caused disease to become a part of my life and that those diseases were keeping me from doing many things.  I also stated that I was going to change those habits; lose weight; and become medication free.

It was a brave statement coming from a deep faith that God would honor my efforts as I followed His desires for my health and well-being.  I knew God’s word said in Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I stood on that promise and believed that I would not waver from the new journey.  God in return has been faithful to strengthen me and my resolve to walk this healthier journey even when I see (and want) some incredibly delicious, calorie laden, sugar packed desserts – or 2 or 3 or 4 of those desserts!  Just say no is easy to say – but not always easy to live.

During my research I learned that obesity is a leading cause in America for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, sleep apnea and respiratory problems and is the 2nd leading cause of preventable death, 2nd only to smoking.  According to the Centers for Disease Control over 31% of Texans are obese and 33.3% of Americans are obese.  Satan has once again lied to us and led us to believe that “surely you won’t die if you eat…”

There are other Habits that stand in the way of people’s healing that didn’t apply to me, but could apply to someone else.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health “An eating disorder is an illness that causes serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating.”  Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge eating are 3 main forms of eating disorders and there are no reliable statistics how many people suffer with these as they are often lifelong secrets.  Anorexia is often caused because people become obsessed with weight and these obsessions can cause severe health issues such as heart damage, brain damage and respiratory problems as well as death.

Substance abuse was the next category of habits that I researched and of course, smoking is clearly a well-known habit that damages our God-given health and can stand in the way of one’s healing.  Smoking has been proven to be the main cause of many cancers as well as heart disease and high blood pressure.  Drug abuse is a destructive habit that can lead to immediate death and always wreaks havoc in the life of the drug abuser as well as the lives of those who love them.  Alcohol abuse is another obvious candidate that destroys health, lives and relationships.

But then I found this scary piece of information.  Caffeine has only recently been brought to the forefront of this category – substance abuse, but research has found that long-term excessive use of caffeine has been shown to cause metabolism and body mass issues as well as mental and nervous system problems.  OUCH!!!  Now that one hit home again.  I loved my Keurig coffee brewer and enjoyed my coffee as much as most people.  For me, the removal of all forms of caffeine had to become a part of my new healthy journey and that included not only coffee, but also tea and (yikes!) my daily Route 44 Diet Coke/Diet Dr. Pepper from Sonic.

What to drink became the question then.  I learned the value of God’s natural solution. WATER!  I learned that a good rule of thumb is that we should drink ½ our body weight in ounces of water.  So I have water with me everywhere I go because it takes all day to get that much water in, but the good news is that I now have to drink 40 ounces less water than I had to drink when I started this journey!

Speaking of journey and water… I’m reminded of John Chapter 4.  It tells the story of Jesus’ journey and His stop at Jacob’s well in Samaria for a drink of water.  He asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water and she was shocked that He was even speaking to her.  When she commented on this break in tradition and custom, Jesus responded to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (verse 10)  When she questioned Jesus about this living water He said, verse 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Ultimately I desire God’s living water.  That’s what it’s all about.

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What Is Your Healing Hiding Behind?

Romans 12_1

I started my new normal journey to find good health on January 8, 2012. However, it really started on Christmas Day 2011 when I was visiting my friend Dan in the hospital. He shared with me how during a time of prayer he had asked God, “Where is my healing?” and heard God speak to him, “Your healing is hiding behind your weight.”  At that moment in time, standing at the end of that hospital bed, I knew God was speaking to me too.  I knew that if I wanted to be healed, I would have to take conscious actions to improve my eating habits and begin a journey to health and wellness.

I began to research all I could find about living healthy. I did NOT research fad diets or gimmicks because I knew I had to have a lifestyle change that I could continue for … well, the rest of my life.  I chose to begin my journey on January 8, 2012, when my pastor called our congregation to a 21-day fast for the New Year.  After much searching, I decided I would take a giant leap and do the Daniel Fast, which is a very basic eating regime with grains, legumes, fresh fruits & vegetables and nuts. It would be a drastic change for me and one thing I didn’t learn before I started was that I should start weaning myself from my bad eating habits early!

No, I just dove in the deep end head first and went cold turkey. On that day I stopped eating sugar and meat and dairy products and processed foods and even stopped coffee and diet sodas.  Just quit.  Stopped.  2 days later I thought I was dying and I knew what withdrawal from addiction was truly like. But I knew that if I could do that fast for 21-days that I would have formed a habit for life.  I also knew that I NEVER wanted to be addicted to any of that junk again because I never wanted to go through those withdrawals ever again!

And God began doing a work in me and showing me that as we His people cry out in faith believing for miracles of healing that we are not seeing, there are many things that stand between us and our healing. Not just weight, although that was it for me!  Had God miraculously healed me of diabetes or high blood pressure or high cholesterol or severe back pain, I would never have changed some very bad habits that were keeping my body, His temple, unhealthy and a wreck.

Yes, I have lost a lot of weight and still have a lot more to lose.  Yes, I have gotten off of many medications and reduced still other medications almost to the point of getting off them.  But the most important thing that has happened in the 15 months since the start of this journey is that I’ve learned to be aware of the importance our body plays in the plan God has for our lives.

All my life I had heard and read the scripture in Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  All those years I had believed it meant all things “spiritual” and never gave any thought to the foods I eat or the things I do that harm the physical body itself.  I thought it meant “being a good Christian” but never that it might mean I should be responsible for keeping my physical body healthy.  Now I know!

In the next few days and weeks I will share on this blog the basic principles God showed me in January 2012 regarding “What Is Your Healing Hiding Behind” which I taught at my home church one Wednesday evening that month, but I will be updating some of those lessons with new insight I’ve gained 15 months into this journey that I call my new normal.  It been quite a ride and from the looks of things, the next 15 months will be even greater!

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The Pine Beetle

A few months ago a contractor with Entergy rang my doorbell wanting permission to cut down a dead tree on my property.  I wasn’t aware of one that could cause a problem with Entergy’s lines so we 1-Corinthians-6-19-20walked around the house to the backyard and it ended up the tree in question was not on my property. In our discussion he mentioned that Pine Beetles feast on dead Pine trees. I commented that I thought the Pine Beetle killed the trees and he explained to me that the Pine Beetle does not usually feast on healthy trees because they don’t like the sap and prefer not to cross that sap-line. Trees damaged by lightening, drought or other natural events or those damaged by construction are most susceptible to infestation of the Pine Beetle.  

I immediately thought of how Satan can’t feast on us when we are living in Christ because he can’t cross the blood line.  However, when we are damaged by the storms of life, or hurt by people, or especially when we have let our relationship with Christ wane, then Satan and his minions “infest” our minds & bodies and spirits. If we are not careful, that infestation can kill our spirits, but if we call on the blood of Jesus, the devil and all his imps have to tuck tail & run.  I knew then that the Pine Beetles & Satan have something in common!

Likewise, in our physically bodies, we must ensure we do all we can to keep our “temple” healthy and in good running order.  When I began to use my poor health as a reason I could not do some act of service for God then clearly my bad eating habits had made me a very unhealthy pine tree!  In my new healthy normal journey, I have learned what a great difference some small changes can make in my health.  I thought I would have to walk this journey a VERY long time before I would see the health benefits, but within the first 3 months, I was seeing large reductions in medications that were no longer needed as I began to put healthy foods into my body and withholding the unhealthy junk found in so many American foods. I have a life long journey ahead of me, but so thankful for the increased energy, painless days and greater health.  God is healing me daily as I honor Him with healthier choices.

Moral of this story – we must keep our temple spiritually clean and physically healthy to keep the beetle we call Satan at bay.

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Psalm 51:7 – Pu…

Psalm 51:7 – Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

I’m reminded of an old hymn…

To be like Jesus,
To be like Jesus!
My desire – to be like Him!
All through life’s journey
From earth to glory,
My desire – to be like Him.

This is all about my journey to find good health so that I can better serve God, family, friends and my community (world).  Unhealthy I was not able to do much.  Healthier I am able to move and do more.  Imagine what I can do when I reach my healthiest possible goals!  Make no mistake, my healthy journey was not started to be separate from God and it does not continue without His help & guidance.  It’s all about HIM and for His honor and glory!

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