Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Empty Stomach or Empty Spirit??

Today I wanted to talk about our eating habits; empty stomach or is something else empty.  I know, I know, we really don’t want to hear about it.  But let’s be honest, many of us tend to eat the way we eat, not out of hunger, but to fill a void in our lives.  Food is seen as THE ONLY VICE that a good Christian can have without much judgment from the church.  I believe that overeating is not only deadly when taken too far, but can compare to alcoholism or drug addiction especially when we use it to self-medicate, fill our loneliness and boredom.  (Note: Obesity is an epidemic in our society and the church is not exempted from that.) 

Anything, including food, used to excess has the potential to become a problem.   We don’t need to allow anything to have mastery over us except God.  We have been given self-control as part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The definition of self-control is the ability to control oneself.  It involves moderation, constraint, and the ability to say “no” to our baser desires and fleshly lusts.  All substances, whether food, drink, drugs etc., can be managed.  Drugs when used properly can offer relief to the body and even allow it an environment to heal.  We have to eat and drink to nourish our bodies.  But even too much water can harm the body.  We need to exercise our self-control in order to become managers of our lives.  When anything in our lives is controlling us, we are not managing our own lives.

So how do we force the hands of food to release its grip on us?  I was listening to Rick Warren’s radio program where he talked about a book, “The Daniel Plan”.  It’s not just a diet and exercise plan, it includes faith, food, fitness, focus and friends.   I HAVE NOT read the book, but those 5 areas make sense.  There are a multitude of things we can do to alter ourselves.  However, I believe that community is a great aid to encourage us to make healthy changes in our lives.  According to the advertisement for the book, “Accountability helps provide us with the power to make changes.”

There are many food plans available to choose, and some are good, healthy and satisfying.  Make a decision based on what works for you based on preferences and taste; to determine your food road map that others can journey on with you.  Also, there is a multitude of ways to exercise the body.  A decision needs to be made to get the body moving, (be a body in motion as much as possible).  This determines your exercise road map.  Find exercise you enjoy and couple it with a companion or two.  Every trip is better when we go with family or friends. 

That addresses, food, fitness, friends but I also firmly believe that many of us will not be successful if we do not address our faith.  God created us to be in fellowship with Him.  Mankind spends a great deal of time trying to fill this void whether saved or not. Sadly, many never understand the deficit they are experiencing can only be filled with God through faith in His Son by the Holy Spirit.  We as the body of believers can and should have the answer demonstrated in our lives, but I believe the problem is we approach it incorrectly.

Many times we are approaching Christianity in the flesh and using world standards and approaches to understand it.  This approach brings moral conformity, but that is not fulfilling.  Christianity is not conformity but transformation.  It is not beating the flesh into submission to a set standard, but it is a spiritual connection between two spiritual beings.  This connection not only satisfies the soul, but it also enables us to accomplish those standards and morals.   That is the different approach.

To put it another way, we are doing empty religious activity instead of having a vibrant, satisfying relationship with our creator.  We sit in the pews of our church singing praise songs lifelessly.  We are reading our bible, yet not connecting with the true meaning of what the Word is saying to us.  We are serving the Lord and His people out of duty/obligation, and we are being drained of all our strength.   We are trying to be good, trying to keep the commands of our Lord, trying to love the world but it is just not bringing joy, or even real change.  All I hear is DUTY, DUTY, DUTY!!!  Guess what, that is not what God intended. 

We were meant to be in communion with our creator and out of that will spring all manner of praise, obedience and joy that is unspeakable.  We will love the unlovable, and we will serve out of the overflow (and if we are really connecting with Christ in our service, we will continue to be filled even as we serve).  When we do get drained, we need that to be our indicator to go to the source for filling.  He is our “filling station.”  That is what gas stations used to be called.  When our car is empty, we go to the FILLING station to get full.  Let’s recognize we need to be walking with the source of our joy, strength, love etc.  ONLY this relationship can fill us. 

If you find you identify with what I am saying, take some time to BE with Jesus.
This is where I believe we begin to ABIDE!  And when we abide, our spirit receives nourishment, just as when we are hungry, we eat healthy foods and our bodies receives nourishment.

Summary:
Choose the maps; Food and Exercise
Choose who will be your companions

Determine to stay connected to your Creator

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