Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Caring For The Temple

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

It should be no surprise to anyone that nutrition and diet have been on my mind lately. Well, okay, they're always in the back of my mind somewhere, and my real interest waxes and wanes, but lately, I've really felt a bit of...urgency... to learn more and to try and discover what is right for my body- and for the bodies of my family.

It's no secret that we love food. I cook often- and I cook well, we love to eat good food that tastes good. As the snow gives the appearance of getting melty and thinking about spring (hey- it's only March, we could have two more wintery months), my mind turns to the ground and the vegetables I so desire to spring forth from that ground. I look forward to the warm season because for us that means that it's easier to eat in healthier fashion. When I can just walk out to the garden and grab the vegetables necessary to make a salad- we do it so much more often than if I have to buy the stuff.

But what does the Bible say about being healthy? When you really dig in and look for the nitty gritty about what to eat and what not to eat, the first things that come to mind are the directions for the Israelites to avoid pork and seafood and insects and other animals. Then later on, God tells Peter that nothing He has made is unclean, so go ahead and eat. So you would think that one could just eat whatever- and the fact is, we can. Except that gluttony is a real and true sin, and sitting down to an entire pan of brownies, or a bowl of ice cream the size of your head is not being mindful at all of your body- your temple in which the Holy Spirit resides.

"Listen, my son, and be wise,
and keep your heart on the right path.

20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
or gorge themselves on meat,

21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags." Proverbs 23:19-23

This last verse is especially interesting to me- because I know we've all experienced that. We celebrate with a delightful meal, maybe have a glass or two of wine to go with, and then we all sit around tired and drowsy. We've taken in too much- and our body is using all its energy to digest the excess of food we have taken in.

Have you ever seen a movie where there is a royal celebration? An old movie- with kings and queens and a royal banquet unlike anything you've ever seen. Everyone is feasting on sides of beef, legs of mutton, puddings and cakes, but they are joyous and full of frivolity- and there is something else they are all doing. There is usually dancing and merriment. Dancing is an amazing form of exercise- and if I'm going to take the time today to think on eating and taking care of my temple, I need to think about the evil E word as well- because it's equally important to taking care of this body.

Living where I live, exercise is tough- it really is. It is cold at least five months of the year, so if I want to be exercising and moving my body regularly, it has to be purposeful. I either need to suck it up and head out to the cold, or I need to head to a gym, or I need to find something to do inside my home that constitutes exercise. As it happens, I do have something that I enjoy doing in my home as a form of exercise... the problem would be that I have no idea when is a good time to do it.

Do I have the guts and the gumption to actually get up early in the morning to tackle such a project? Gosh, I don't know. I may need some help from God to get me motivated so early in the morning.

Here's the thing. If my temple is not right with God- if I am physically out of whack, everything is going to be out of whack. Think about it. If I am not taking in the right foods, exercising appropriately, and taking care of my personal hygiene appropriately, my body is going to respond by telling me what's wrong. This time of year I take vitamins religiously, because I'm not getting as much fresh fruits and vegetables. I know this to be a fact- and I can really and truly tell when I'm not taking them. When I skip my vitamin D and Calcium I get physically irritable. I get crabby and I get tired and everything suffers- my housework, schooling the kids, and the motivation to get anything done. Sickness can come upon my body more readily if I am not eating the right things. When my diet is meticulous and good as gold- it is ready to fight of disease- and that's a fact! When I am uber-focused on my eating, I can walk through a room full of people coughing and sneezing and my body will brush it off. When my family has sickness after sickness, that's a sign to me that our diets need to be adjusted and we need to pay more attention to our vitamin intake.

When I take a season to splurge on foods I shouldn't, maybe my weight will fluctuate. This means that many of the clothes that don't fit me- so I have to go out and spend money on clothes that do fit. Now- clothing is necessary, but wouldn't it be better to watch what I eat in the first place so that I don't have to go buy new clothes, and instead I can use that money for something God would approve of? Maybe I could sponsor a child in a poor country if I didn't need a supply of larger clothing. But it's not just clothes. Excess weight can mean serious health problems that take our hard earned money- the money we could be using to further the kingdom of God- and force us to spend it on specialists, medications, doctors visits, just so that we feel better and our body keeps working in a fashion.

"Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." Philippians 3:19

Their mind is on earthly things. Food is a wonderful thing- God meant for us to enjoy it, or He wouldn't have made it so delicious! But we can be wise about it. We can actually listen when the dietitians and doctors tell us our plate should be half-filled with vegetables. If you're going to enjoy a steak, enjoy the steak, but keep the portion small, and eat the entire portion of broccoli that came with it- not just a stalk or two. And stop eating when full. There is no need to "fill in the cracks" as I've heard it said. Instead, fill in those cracks with the Holy Spirit. Talk to God, stir up your prayer language, and when you're struggling with whether or not to eat a little more- because you really want to, but know you shouldn't, that's when you turn on those tongues. Start praying in tongues to yourself and turn your mind off the earthly things and back on God. Don't believe me? I challenge you to try it out.

"When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,

2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.

3 Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive.

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
have the wisdom to show restraint. " Proverbs 23:1-4

Or, when I'm just not eating right things can run amok. The Bible tells us flat out that man cannot live by bread alone.

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." Deuteronomy 8:3

And while that has much more implications than just food- it also means food. Man truly cannot live on bread alone, he will be missing vital nutrients and things that keep the body flowing smoothly. The vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are essential to the human body. Proteins found in meat, beans, nuts, and dairy products are essential for body function- it's what give us the stamina and the energy to accomplish a task. You know, God gave us this body that he perfectly designed for us. It seems to me that if we can figure out the right combination of what to take in, we really and truly can walk in perfect health!

And we can do this by asking God for help in our task. Really- God wants to help us all with our temples. He wants to see us healthy- because that means we can do more for His purposes. He loves it when we tell Him that we are willing- but then when we turn around, eat the wrong things, make ourselves sick and tired and lazy, he doesn't love it so much.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. " 1 John 5:4-5

God wants to help us get things right with our body! I am as certain of this as I am certain that my children need to learn their basic math facts. I know I've talked before about our country and all the people that are suffering from diseases and ills that really, are caused by affluence. We have so much excess in this country, but rather than see it go to waste, we send it down the gullet. When we go out to dinner, it's not worth the price unless the plate is the size of Texas- and it's packed full to the brim.

But the good news is that we are waking up to what is good and bad for us. We are realizing that all that processed food is not really good for our bodies. God didn't design our bodies to take in hyper-processed ingredients that we cannot pronounce. He designed our bodies to take in whole foods- real foods that we can identify- and in the right combination with plenty of rest and exercise, we can fine tune our temples to be examples of righteousness. It IS possible!

Honestly, I could go on and on with this- for days on end no doubt. But I think I will stop here and save it for another day. But I wanted to re-iterate the key, I think to choosing to live a more healthy lifestyle- and that is found in 1 John 5:4-5. Ask God for help. He will hear you, and He will give you the strength to make the changes you want to make.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. " 1 John 5:4-5

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