The “Fruit-of-the-Spirit” Diet (Part One)

**Originally published in the Christian Online Magazine, August 2013**

The “Fruit-of-the-Spirit” Diet

Part One: No Laws?

By Rebecca Aarup

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Since we are living in the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25 (NLT)

 

No sugar, no carbohydrates, no gluten, no chemicals, no processed foods…there are enough food laws to make a person’s head spin! You can hardly enjoy a conversation without the issue of food restrictions being raised. I’d guess a good majority of people are on some sort of specialty diet, whether due to medical problems or personal convictions. And admittedly, I adhere to a few of those food rules myself. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to open my refrigerator or visit my favorite restaurant, eat whatever I want, whenever I want, with no fear of the consequences those food choices would leave with my body.  What a wonderful world that would be, right? Unfortunately, though, I’m one of those people who gains weight when they as much as look at a chocolate chip cookie cross-eyed. I have to watch what I eat “religiously” as well as exercise consistently just to maintain my current weight (which is on the high end of normal for my height). A lot of this has to do with aging (boo!) and the consequences of suffering with an eating disorder for many years. Suffice it to say, if I was to take a free-for-all approach to my diet, I would be shopping for a newer, larger wardrobe rather frequently.

 

But imagine a dietary world with no rules, where nothing was off limits. I can hear you laughing now, “Sure, Rebecca, sounds great BUT…” And you’d be right, because the reality is, that is not the world we live in. The things we choose to do or think directly affect our physical and emotional health, whether we like to admit it or not.

 

And that got me thinking, “what if”? What if there was something we could consume without fear of consequences. A substance with no rules or laws. How would that affect our outlook on diet, exercise, health, and spirituality? That’s when one of my daughter’s favorite verses popped into my head, the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, against which “there is no law.” Is it possible that walking by the Spirit’s leading specifically in the ten areas mentioned in this popular passage could help us live a more balanced life in every area of spiritual and physical health? Does the fruit of the Spirit even have anything to do with our diet and health?

 

Over the next several months I hope you’ll join me on this journey of exploration through a diet with no rules or limitations—the “Fruit of the Spirit” diet. We’ll be looking at what, if anything, each “fruit” has to do with our physical health. The Apostle Paul reminds us to “follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives,” and so it is with the area of food, and physical health.

 

How about you? Do you think any of the spiritual fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23 relate in any way to your diet or physical health? In what ways?
To ensure you don’t miss any of this ongoing series, to comment, or to ask questions, visit me at http://www.RebeccaAarup.com and enter your email address to receive new articles directly in your inbox each month. In the next article we’ll discuss “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” I hope you’ll consider joining me on this journey unlocking the keys to the “Fruit of the Spirit” diet!

© Rebecca Aarup

Advertisements

Being Barnabus

Hello friends,

I wanted to direct you to a new devotional I wrote recently published with Mustard Seed Ministries. You can click HERE to read and share with your friends.

Join me in being a Barnabus today!

The Challenge

“The law shall be his constant companion. He must read from it every day of his life so that he will learn to respect the Lord his God by obeying all of his commands. This regular reading of God’s laws will prevent him from feeling that he is better than his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from God’s laws in the slightest respect.” Deut. 17:19-20 (The Living Bible)

I recently read an article in InTouch magazine (Dr. Charles Stanley) about a woman who cut apart and re-bound her Bible into 4 sections to help her read through it easier. Admittedly, holding the Bible in my hand and thinking about reading through the whole thing-cover to cover-seems rather daunting unless it’s divided into little bite-sized pieces over the course of a year.

Thinking what a fantastic idea this woman had, I was also convicted about my own scattered reading plans. God spoke to me there and challenged me to read from Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22 in one week. No, that wasn’t a typo, I said one week. My first thought was, how will I ever find time for that? But God is bigger than my excuses and quickly brought to mind many things I could give up for one week to accomplish this goal.

Taking on this challenge has been one of the best experiences I’ve encountered in God’s word. Reading through the books in order has opened my eyes to things I’ve never understood before. Stories are making more sense read in context. And by context I don’t mean the 12 verses surrounding one verse, but the books surrounding other books. For instance, many people (including myself) avoid the book of Leviticus. Granted, it’s not the “easiest” read, but is important since “the whole Bible is given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what it true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right.” (2 Tim. 3;16-The Living Bible)

There was something so inspirational and special about reading the Bible continuously. I can’t adequately describe it other than to recommend doing it.

I wrote a 30-day Bible reading plan (understanding very few would be able to devote a week to it) and am challenging you, my friends and lovers of the Word, to ask if God would have you do this. It is a challenge, I won’t say it’s not. Prayerfully consider if God would have you do this or perhaps adapt the plan to suit your needs.

The average reader can easily accomplish this goal in 2-3 hours per day. I’ll list some tips I’ve employed to help me read the word in one week that will help you read it in one month. You may want to consider using a different version than you normally study from in order to provide a new experience. I chose a paraphrase (The Living Bible) so it reads more like a novel. This is for reading, not studying, so don’t get too hung up on the translation.

1-Get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later. (It’s only one month-a worthy sacrifice indeed.)

2-Listen to the Bible on audio while you drive, cook, clean, shower, etc. You’ll find there’s a lot of time for your ears to be working while your hands are busy.

3-Avoid the temptation of social media-the articles, cutesy pictures, posts, statuses, and other time-consuming reads. You’ll find those things add up quickly. 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there is an hour before you know it. In an hour you could have read several chapters in the Bible.

4-Give up the news or other programming you consistently watch on television. Even one or two shows is an hour or more that you could be reading.

5-When you are reading the Bible at length you will discover things you want to look up and research. Avoid the bunny trails! Keep a note-pad handy and write down the verse/subject so you can study it at a later time, once you’ve reached your reading goal.

6-Finally, don’t read just to read! Read the Story to grow in your relationship with Jesus and ask Him to open your eyes to new things each and every time you begin. He will answer that prayer and your eyes will surely be opened more than you’d ever imagine.

I can’t wait to hear your testimonies and pray you will be encouraged and strengthened in your journey. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it so much you’ll decide to do it a couple times every year. I know I’ve been inspired to do as much. Please let me know in the comments if you are going to be taking this challenge so I can be sure to pray for you!

Through the Bible in 30 Days

Day 1: Genesis 1-40

Day 2: Genesis 41-Exodus 30

Day 3: Exodus 31-Numbers 3

Day 4: Numbers 4-Deuteronomy 8

Day 5: Deuteronomy 9-Joshua 15

Day 6: Joshua 16-1 Samuel 7

Day 7: 1 Samuel 8-2 Samuel 17

Day 8: 2 Samuel 18-2 Kings 12

Day 9: 2 Kings 13-1 Chronicles 29

Day 10: 2 Chronicles 1-Ezra 4

Day 11: Ezra 5-Job 11

Day 12: Job 12-Psalm 10

Day 13: Psalm 11-51

Day 14: Psalm 52-92

Day 15: Psalm 93-133

Day 16: Psalm 134-Proverbs 14

Day 17: Proverbs 15-Ecclesiastes 12

Day 18: Song of Solomon 1-Isaiah 32

Day 19: Isaiah 33-Jeremiah 6

Day 20: Jeremiah 7-47

Day 21: Jeremiah 48-Ezekiel 31

Day 22: Ezekiel 32-Hosea 14

Day 23: Joel 1-Zechariah 5

Day 24: Zechariah 6-Matthew 28

Day 25: Mark 1-Luke 14

Day 26: Luke 15-Acts 10

Day 27: Acts 11-Romans 16

Day 28: 1 Corinthians 1-Galatians 6

Day 29: Ephesians 1-2 Timothy 4

Day 30: Titus 1-Revelation 22

 

 

 

 

Nagging Emasculation

There are few things more emasculating than an incessantly nagging wife. It sends him the message (over and over and over and over…) that he is not good enough, he’s a failure, he’s an idiot, and he’s completely incapable of being the husband she wants. Living under these circumstances for any length of time a man starts to give up; he can’t do anything right anyways.

I don’t bring it up to say I have conquered this problem. Part of me wonders if nagging is a gene inherent to wives, but I know the truth. Nagging is inherent to my fleshly nature and desire to have my own way when I want it, how I want it, and any cost to my husband’s self-esteem.

“A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day.” (Prov. 27:15) In other words, a nagging wife is tantamount to ancient Chinese versions of water torture. Ouch. The last thing I want is to torture my hard-working husband with my words. Shaunti Feldhahn notes this principle in her book For Women Only, as she interviews thousands of men to find out what they really think about these issues.

“Instead of affirming, a wife reinforces her husband’s feelings of inadequacy, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if we focus our attention on what he is doing wrong in the relationship, we can unwittingly undermine what we most want–for him to do what is right–I discovered a dismaying fact. Of the men I surveyed, only one man in four felt actively appreciated by his family.  And 44 percent of men felt unappreciated at home. More pointedly, men in their prime years of responsibility for home, children, and work–men between the ages of thirty-six and fifty-five–felt even less appreciated. ” (p. 68)

Ladies, what’s going on!? Surely we can do better than that! Biblical standards don’t change based on our circumstances (working or staying-at-home). A glance at Proverbs 31 easily testifies to this. The virtuous woman not only works, but “watches over the affairs of her household” (vs. 27) receiving the praise of her husband and children. I didn’t see anything in that chapter about nagging her husband to take out the trash, pick up his clothes, fix the garage door, or close the toilet seat.

After nearly nine years I have finally given up the battle to change my husband. Instead, I am replacing the nagging tendencies with those of praise and support. God is allowing me to recognize my husband’s deep seated insecurities and giving me opportunities to combat them with supportive attitudes and actions.

I can take out the trash myself, or tear down my husband the second he steps in the doorway because he didn’t do it.

I can keep the house clean so when he comes home he’s not tripping over toys, or I can allow my daughter to do whatever she wants while I’m busy plucking away on my computer, telling my husband I’m too busy to care what he thinks of the house.

I can scoop the dog poop myself, or I can spend an hour complaining to my husband about how disgusting the yard is, scheduling work for him to do on his next day off.

I can pick up his dirty socks from every place but the hamper, or I can send him an angry text message explaining how once again, I cleaned up after him and he needs to grow up.

Simply put, I can keep my mouth shut. Turn off the faucet. Stop the incessant dripping.

I can ask God to replace the nagging words with those of praise and affirmation. I can spend all day cleaning up my husband’s messes, and still choose to tell him how much I appreciate his hard work, refusing to bring attention to his short-comings.

“Men need a place where they can make their mistakes in peace.” For Women Only (p. 71)

I want to treat my husband how I’d like him to treat me. I want to show him–with my actions more than my words–the love of Jesus. I want to actively refuse to point out his faults and choose to let God expose my own. I can forgive his down-falls like Jesus has forgven mine. I can show mercy like I’m given mercy by my righteous Savior. By God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit alone, I can turn emasculation into affirmation by simply seeking God’s desire for me as a wife.

“Your beauty…should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”(1 Pet. 3:4)

____________________________

If you enjoyed this post and others, please take a second to click the FOLLOW button on the space provided on the right hand side of the computer screen (or scroll to the bottom of your screen if using a smartphone) and you will receive new posts in your email inbox. This is absolutely free and your information is never shared!

____________________________

profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

Lessons From the Vacuum Cleaner

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5

Jesus and I don’t usually talk when I’m cleaning, but today was different. Monday has been my “cleaning day”, with few exceptions, since we moved to our new home last October.

Today was no different. Lucky for me, my husband had just bought a new vacuum cleaner (Why do you do that to us, husbands?) It had been sitting nicely in the corner for a week and he complained yesterday that I hadn’t used it yet. Today was the day!( Now, our previous vacuum had been out of commission for a few months, and I had spent several weeks on my hands and knees picking up the noticeable pieces of garbage.)

For some reason God decided to make His presence evident in the mundane task of vacuuming. In fact, during my 5 hour clean-fest, He revealed countless spiritual illustrations.

The most striking one revolved around the dirt in my carpet. As I vacuumed room after room, making several trips to the garbage bag dumping the vacuum canister, I was brought back to that day in April. The day my life changed. The day I spent 4 hours repenting.

For 4 years I had been on my hands and knees picking up the big pieces of sin from my spiritual carpet until that day in April where God ran His vacuum cleaner over my soul. I hadn’t been off the deep end running amok in all sorts of depravities. No, I had spent the last few years reading, studying and soaking in every bit of God’s word that I could. I served in my church, and was learning how to serve my husband. I was growing. You would never have thought I needed to spend a day repenting of much. I know I didn’t.

When that new vacuum rolls over the dirty carpet, so much is revealed that was invisible to the naked eye.

Just like my living room carpet, I was unable to pick up the finite pieces of dust with my hands. And so it is for most of us. We walk through our lives with our 15 minute devotions in the morning and ten minutes of prayer at night (twenty minutes if there’s a crisis) picking up the big things leaving the particles behind.

Like he did with Isaiah, God desires to sear our hearts with the hot coals of his presence. The problem is we take Him for granted. We take his truth for granted. We take his holiness for granted. We think we’re so much better than we are. Meanwhile, our spiritual carpet collects bags of filth until one day we have an encounter we’ll never forget. God brings us to our knees, rolling over us with His vacuum, sucking out all the junk. He won’t let His children rest comfortably with dirty hearts.

And then it’s done, right? One painful day of brutal honesty and we’re good.

You’d think after 5 hours of cleaning I’d be satisfied with the state of my home, but as I walked through the rooms admiring my labor, I noticed the base-boards. Oh yes, still more work to be done, and by the time I get around to the base-boards, the piano will need dusting, more laundry will need to be cleaned, and I’ll probably be vacuuming again.

Just like our carpets continue to collect dust and dirt, our spiritual lives do the same. He reveals only what we can handle at the moment. The more he purges, the more we notice new areas that need cleansing.

If Jesus walked into your spiritual house today, would you be embarrassed? Well I’ve got news for you. He’s already there, he is present with you at all times whether you “feel” it or not. Does his holiness astound and confound you? Could you claim to be as holy as the prophet Isaiah? Even as righteous as he was, when in the presence of Almighty God, he couldn’t stand his spiritual state.

Today, the lesson from the vacuum cleaner reminds me to stand amazed at the person of Christ and to seek His cleansing frequently, remembering what I am without Him.

“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags…Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the Potter; we are all the work of your hands.” Isaiah 64:6&8