Unconventional

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

I walked toward my garden as a flock of birds shot into the sky. I hurried to find out what they were doing and my heart sank as I saw my new cantaloupe plants ravaged by sharp beaks.

My first reaction was to go to the store and buy fencing wire or screens to protect the plants. Only problem was my husband was out of town for a week and my daughter was very sick, so leaving was out of the question. On the other hand, if I allowed the plants to go unprotected-even one more day-they would certainly die. I stood in the hot sun gazing around my yard trying to work out a solution.

Finally, my eyes rested on the collapsible wire dog crate on the porch. I got to work breaking the cage down and hauling it to my garden. It was only big enough to cover the cantaloupe so I used some other yard items, plus an old baby gate, to surround the rest of the melon plants.

The next day the vines had already begun growing new leaves. I didn’t have to buy anything (yet) and I successfully protected the young plants, though my method was certainly unconventional. Because I invested so much time and money cultivating my garden, I was highly motivated to do whatever it took to protect it.

My spiritual garden is far more important than my physical garden, and I must do whatever is necessary to protect it from harm. Often that means using unconventional methods scoffed at by the world (and sometimes other Christians). Maybe I won’t eat certain foods, watch certain movies, read certain books, or spend money on certain items. Following an unconventional Jesus means making unconventional choices.

“Don’t copy the customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.” Romans 12:2 (TLB) (emphasis mine)

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Recognizing the Causes of Over-Indulgence

**Published in The Christian Online Magazine June issue**

Column: Temple Maintenance by Rebecca Aarup

Recognizing the Causes of Over-Indulgence

Anyone who has had any experience with lawn maintenance or gardening knows how obnoxious ugly weeds can be. One way or another they have to be dealt with; weed poison or elbow grease. The same is true for believers. We want to be changed instantly; read a verse and do what it says without effort. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; there is work required. God has made us His gardens of fruit bearing, yet we sometimes lose our crops to weeds. Here are some ways you can recognize a weed problem in your own garden.

Weed #1: It’s my body so I can eat however much I want, whenever I want.

The Bible is emphatic on how we should view this lie. Paul tells us, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Once you recognize your need to self-gratify is directly contradicted to the word of God you can repent of your belief and begin to live as one who knows their worth in God’s eyes.

Weed #2: God doesn’t care about what I eat.

Get ready to grab your weed poison and spray it: “Do not join those…who gorge themselves on meat, for… gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rage.” (Prov. 23:20-21) I’m fairly certain that God does care about what we eat, and how much, otherwise he wouldn’t have chosen to warn us about the consequences. Our loving Father does not wish that we would suffer out of our own ignorance, so He gives us helpful guidelines in His word.

Weed #3: Food makes me happy/Food is a pleasurable reward.

Get your shovel because Jesus tells us all about how to be satisfied and it has nothing to do with food. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)

If our joy is coming from the Fountain of Living Water, why do we need a counterfeit as silly as food? When we recognize our value as God’s beloved children, we have perfect peace that sets us free to eat in moderation and not use rewards as an excuse to over-indulge.

Weed #4: I’ll start a diet when I have more time, I’m just too busy. (Procrastination)

Our friend James has some words about that. “Now listen you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city’…Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (Jms. 4:13-14, 17) When we know what to do and still refuse to do it we chose to ignore (grieve) the Holy Spirit.

Weed #5: The only way I can be healthy is to eliminate certain foods and buy health food that I can’t afford.*

“Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)

Whether or not you feel convicted to avoid certain foods is between you and God. Let the Holy Spirit do His job and refuse to do it for Him. If you have experienced positive results from giving up something, by all means share it in a loving manner, but never assume it’s God’s will for
everyone.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment over your food choices. Common sense will usually reveal what is “beneficial” for our God given temples, and what we should do without.

Be assured you can eradicate weeds and grow healthy crops of self-control once again. Confess to the Lord your short-comings and receive His forgiveness. Obedience will clear your conscience before God and allow you to experience freedom from the guilt over-indulgence can bring. You’ll also be freed from diets once and for all!

*This is not meant to include people with food allergies or medical issues that require them to abstain from certain foods. Eating foods out of medical necessity is an entirely different issue this article does not intend to address.

(For an in-depth study of Biblical weight loss, see Thin Within: A Grace Oriented Approach to Lasting Weight Loss by Judy Halliday, R.N. and Arthur Halliday, M.D.)