Help! I’m a Slave to Food (part 1)

foodFood is a gift from God, right? But for some people, overeating is a. . .sin. In this helpful post that first appeared here, counselor Paul Tautges shares parts of Shannon Kay McCoy‘s booklet, Help! I’m a Slave to Food. It is used with permission. (Edited for length–LAM)

God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).

So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.

Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–

  • whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
  • therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
  • all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
  • sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).

These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.

Sin of Overeating?

Slave to Food-small email

McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”

Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem. But overeating does n

ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.

You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.

As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.

Description of a Food Struggle

A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:

My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.

In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.

Overeating Is Not an Addiction

Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.

Overeating Is Idolatry

The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.

You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.

God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change

Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.

Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.

RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Words: Choosing Words That Heal and Bless!

wordsWords: Do you choose words that heal or harm?

In this short article, you’ll discover. . .

  1. Your words flow from your heart.
  2. How to Identify the verbal villians of pride, anger, and fear.
  3. Begin healing your heart.

Communication is the expession of how we feel and what we think. Did you know only 7 percent of your communication are your words? The remainder is split between your tone of voice and your body language. This means all three are crucial.

Right now let the words “Come here, Johnny” play in your mind. When you say them angrily, with a clipped voice and face scrunched up, you send one message. When you says them softly and sweetly, you send another message all together, don’t you?

Our words, along with our tone of voice and body language, have the power to encourage, heal, and teach. They also confuse, embarrass, and hurt.

Jesus says,

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks,” and, “on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:34,36).

Jesus underlines the truth that we know the essence of who we are by examining the very words we speak.

Your words simply reveal what’s on your heart.

The Proud Heart

Pride elevates self. The person with a proud heart think she’s better than others. But God says all persons have value.

The words of someone with a prideful heart sound like:

  • Boasting
  • Flattery
  • Lying
  • Mockery
  • Cursing
  • Quarreling

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

Here’s a godly solution to pride.

The Angry Heart

Anger is agitation resulting from an unmet expection. Does you husband expect a delicious meal at 6 pronto? If it’s 30 minutes late, you may hear his grumbling words and read disgust or hurt on his face. When a coworker messes up an important project, do you blow up or clam up?

Anger itself is not sinful. However, someone with an angry heart may become bitter.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs us and causes trouble, and be it many are defiled. (Hebrews 12:15)

The words of someone with an angry heart sound like:

  • Lying
  • Slander
  • Cursing
  • Exaggeration
  • Rebellious
  • Abusive

Here’s a godly solution to anger.

The Anxious Heart

Anxiety often arises when you face loss – loss of safety, security, reputation, family, friends, even happiness. You feel unease, perhaps dread. Rather than fearing God and depending on his sovereignty and goodness, you might succumb to sinful fear and your words may sound like:

  • Insecurity
  • Impatience
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Lying
  • Flattery

God has not given us a spirit of fear, bu tof power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Here’s a godly solution to anxiety.

Healed Heart, Healed Words

In Genesis 1 God spoke the world and all that is in it into existence. We are his image bearers. Therefore, as his image bearers, he calls us to do what he does: speak life. Yet expelling verbal villains arising from pride, anger, fear and other difficult emotions is seldom easy. You may need help.

The good news is God can and will replace pride with humility, anger with patience, and fear with love. Begin with this question: “Is God pleased with what rules my heart?” Is it self or Christ? Next, choose to submit to Christ in every action, thought, emotion, and word. This isn’t easy, is it? It requires an attitude change and new godly habits. 

Do you need help and hope? Make an appointment or sign up for a short, complimentary consultation. In person and Skype counseling available. Contact me today.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Empty Nest: Adjusting and Loving It! (Part 2)

empty nest 2Empty nest. My friend Karen excitedly watched her three young adult children take flight. But my frend Diane felt uneasy. Her son had made bad choices in high school. Would he waste college too? And Dee had one heck of a time getting her daughter to leave the nest.

All three are adjusting to the empty nest, but only one is loving it. So far.

In this two-part series on the empty nest, you’ll discover. . .

  1. Best way to prepare your empty nest, whether your kids are  just out of high school or farther down the road. Read part one.
  2. How to adjust and love the empty nest, including finding romance and investing in grandbabies.

The Empty Nest Book!

empty nest coverAuthor Michele Howe has written a book for any parent who finds herself in the midst of an empty nest. Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest tackles the questions moms face, the emotions they encounter, and the changes soon to come. I strongly recommend it. See the book on Amazon here.

In a friendly, interactive style, Michele shares spiritual wisdom from the likes of seasoned biblical counselor Paul Tripp, take-away action steps, personal stories, and prayers. Indeed, it is a cross between a devotional and a parenting how-to book.

While an older empty nest-er would find encouragement, hope, and practical ideas in the pages of Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest, it best suits moms who are entering this season of life.

Adjusting to the Empty Nest

DEALING WITH LONELINESS: One day Michele looked at the tree where her kids loved to climb, then her heart hurt. She tripped down memory lane–Easter egg hunts, Fourth of July fireworks, Thanksgiving feast, and Christmas joy–and began to feel lonely and sad. Isn’t it true that the older we get, we see life differently?

Michele says that one way to reduce emotional grief is by learning to live in the present and to be present. She asks, How can spending too much time reminiscing bring on sadness? How can you be more present today and look out for others in need of friends?

Take-Away Action Thought

When I begin to dip into sadness, I will search for those who need encouragement, help, and hope. 

INTERCEDING FOR YOUR CHILDREN: Don’t you agree that moms who take their worry to God in prayer fare better than those who don’t? One way to be consistent in prayer is by keeping a prayer journal. So how does it work practically?

When your son or daughter calls or texts to tell you of a problem their facing, turn to your prayer journal, jot the details, date it, and pray. “The more time I spend perusing my prayer journal, the more my faith is strengthened, and the more inner peace I experience,” Michele shares. Her prayer journal dates back ten years! (Another help is Transform Your Thought Journal — an ebook for godly mind renewal.)

How abundant are the good things

that you have stored up for those who fear you,

that you bestow in the sight of all,

on those who take refuge in you.

Psalm 31:19

Loving the Empty Nest

REINTRODUCING ROMANCE: Every couple struggles sometimes. So it’s important to honestly appaise your marriage, own up to your mistakes, ask forgiveness, and start afresh. But you also must plan time to talk and have fun together.

Take-Away Action Thought

I will proactively make plans for enjoyable activities together every single week by getting the calendar out and marking specific dates/time.

STEPPING UP HEALTHY LIVING PLANS: “When my fifty-something body rejects the idea of getting up and moving. . .I am grateful that my child-rearing days are over,” Michele quips. It’s time to reevaluate fitness goals and to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. (A superbly helpful guide is this eBook: Fit for Life.)

INVESTING IN GRANDCHILDREN: This takes intentionality! Plans that truly matter don’t just happen. Rather, you pray, you plan, you proceed!

When your grandkids live close, you’ll get to attend their school and church activities. But if you’re many hours away (by car or plane), you still can enjoy fun ways to love the little ones long-distance but you’ll need to plan. Right now list a plan of at least six different ways to practically show love to your grandchildren this month.

Friends, do you need prayer or have a question, why not contact me? I aim to answer within the day, God willing.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Emotions: 4 Steps to Emotional Wellness

emotionsEmotions can sometimes wreck your day, can’t they? In this brief article, you’ll learn

  1. You are not alone,
  2. Emotions — including the hard ones — assist in your sanctification.
  3. 4 steps to emotional wellness

You Are Not Alone

Meet a former counselee I’ll call Linda, who feels like a twisted piece of metal. Among her emotional wreckedness: rebellious teen, overworked husband, tight finances, loneliness.

And weariness. Deep weariness. Sound familiar?

Her teenage son is a Christian but runs with the beer-drinking crowd and stopped attending church. Linda fears he may get in a car crash. Just as bad, her husband is travels for work most of the week. So loneliness darkens her days and nights. In addition, household finances are tight, and the roof is beginning to leak.

And her emotions have affected her psysically. She sleeps poorly, gets migraines, and feels anxious all day.

I and other biblical counselors — some are listed on my Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, by state and specialies — come alongside the hurting every day, listening, giving hope, isolating the problem, determining direction, and helping them implement God-honoring solutions that result in peace and contentment, and most important, God’s glory.

Emotions Help You Grow Spiritually

Emotions tell us something about our hearts. They are neither morally good nor morally bad. Consider Jesus. He expressed emotions and never sinned.

  • ANGER: Jesus felt righteous anger while he turned over money-changers’ tables who were making his Father’s house a “den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13).
  • SADNESS: He sorrowed over the death of his friend Lazarus. (John 11:35)
  • FEAR: He feared the pain of dying on the cross. (Luke 22:42-44)

While Jesus felt a myriad of emotions and did not sin, you and I know that we often have ungodly thoughts (“Jerk, why don’t you learn how to drive?” or “No one loves me”) and act in ungodly ways (yell, pout, slam doors,  and so on).

To help you achieve emotional wellness, may I share a four-step plan (adapted from Elyse Fitzpatrick, a leading biblical counselor)? It skims the surface. So if you you desire biblical counseling via Skype or in person, check out my counseling info page. We can work together on your emotional wellness.

4 Steps to Emotional Self-Care

God wants to free you from the emotions that lead to sin. So here are four steps to emotional wellness.

1. Agree with God that your current way of handling negative emotions is sinful and cease from it. The one who changes your emotions is the Holy Spirit as you cooperate with him.

2. Be convinced that God’s way of becoming emotionally healthy are right and begin practicing them. Again, this is accomplishes through relying on the power, strenth, and grace of the Holy Spirit, who cares for you and you enables you to achieve God’s purposes in you.

3. Seek to change the way you think and become conformed to God’s will, especially in the emotions you struggle with. Yes, God is able to change you and heal your emotions. Yes, he wants to.

4. Continue to engage in your new godly thoughts and behaviors even when you fail and need to repent.

Achieving emotional self-care is never easy, and in giving four steps, I do not imply that is is. Becoming emotionally well is contrary to “the natural man.” Indeed, it means saying, “Lord, your will be done” when our easy-to-deceive hearts insist, “My will be done.”

The Good News

The good news is, you CAN know peace and contentment. You CAN put away selfishness, fear, and your need to control. And you CAN fight anger and win. Yes, you CAN fall into the arms on God, not the pit of despair. All because of Jesus and his redeeming love shown on the cross.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

May I pray for you?

Heavenly Father, this one needs your touch. She needs to know you are real and you care and you love her. You know her struggles. You desire to heal her. May your will be done. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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