Let’s Get Honest

**Originally published in The Christian Online Magazine, April 2013**

 

We need to get honest with each other. When God put, “Thou shalt not lie,” in the Ten Commandments, do you suppose He meant something other than lying? Did He have a distinction between a little white lie and a big ugly lie? God says what He means and means what He says, He’s not out to throw riddles at us. He wants us to understand His word so we will obey it. But every day we, as a community of believers, lie to each other. When we say we’re fine and we’re not, or when we put on a face that says, “I’ve got it all together,” when we’re really falling apart on the inside. Our own insecurities draw us into deception. It needs to stop!

 

To start the ball rolling I am going to be honest with you. While I get the awesome privilege of writing this column every month, drawing on my experiences in the health/wellness industry, I also want my readers to know that I haven’t got it all figured out. That I’m not a size two stick-figure who eats carrots and lettuce all day and that I don’t spend two hours in the gym every day lifting weights and preparing for marathons. That is not who I am! I am an average sized woman, with hips and a butt, who doesn’t always practice what I preach when it comes to health. Sometimes I sit at my desk all day without dropping a bead of sweat in physical activity, and sometimes I even drink a soda (gasp!). I’m a real person who strives to live a God-honoring life of balance (remember 1 Corinthians 6:12). But sometimes I get out of balance and fail to live out what I know to be God’s best.

 

The Holy Spirit is quick to convict, though, and I am learning how to repent in a timely manner because eating right and taking care of my temple is not a choice, it is a command. It is a command we, as believers, have all been given. Though I know this and believe it, I sometimes fail to behave it. So I’m getting real with you. I am a real person with real issues who sometimes struggles to apply what I know to be true in the area of health and fitness.

 

Is this really about weight loss, having a beach body, or looking like Brad Pitt (for the men out there)? NO! It’s about honoring God with our choices. Every time we choose a fruit or vegetable over a processed, chemical-laced boxed product, we honor God. Every time we choose to incorporate some exercise into our day, we honor God. This is the essence of maintaining our God-given “temples.” It’s a process: one choice at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time, and one year at a time.

 

We need not feel ashamed if we’ve fallen short in this area. Instead, Jesus commands, “Go, and sin no more (John 8:11).” So, if you’re like me, and you’ve had trouble, at times, applying what you know to be true to your physical and spiritual life, confess it to God, dust yourself off and press on! And while you’re at it, find a support partner who will hold you accountable. Both spiritually and physically.

 

Most importantly, choose today to get honest with God, yourself, and the people in your life. We’ll never progress in our spiritual lives if we continue to wear masks in our relationships. Sometimes that even means admitting we can’t do it on our own and we need help—accountability and prayer.

 

And finally, let’s choose to honor God by respecting and taking care of what He’s given to us, showing others—through our actions—what being a good steward of God-given gifts really looks like.

 

“Let everything you do reflect the integrity of your teaching.” Titus 2:7b, NLT

©Rebecca Aarup

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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.

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New Year Resolution Recipes

**Originally published with The Christian Online Magazine, January 2012**

 

The holidays are over and we’ve all probably had a few too many slices of pie, sugar cookies, cups of pumpkin spice lattes, and sweet and sticky candy canes. So, to lighten things up I’ve decided to share a couple of my favorite whole-foods recipes. These ingredients are healthy, natural (meaning they grow from the ground, not in an industrial plant), and delicious. They are easy to manipulate around the foods you like so you can personalize each one to your individual tastes.

Both of these salads keep well in the refrigerator, and make satisfying snacks or meals. They are great on the go, or at home, and relatively easy to make. I’ve also made both of these items for church events with excellent feedback. (As the resident vegetarian, I usually volunteer to make gluten free/vegan dishes to offer at events where most of the foods are sugar and carb laden.) The best part is no one can ever tell they are “healthy”! Go ahead, give it a try and see for yourself.

•Fruit “Salad”

One fresh pineapple

One pint of strawberries

Five clementines (they look like miniature oranges)

Two small containers of berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…etc.)

The juice of one pomegranate

This “salad” is super fresh, easy, and delicious. Simply prepare the fruit (washing) and chop it up to the desirable size and toss it in a bowl. The juices from the pineapple, clementines, and berries will mix well together, and no other “sweetener” is needed. (However, for some fruit salads honey or agave nectar makes a great healthy sweetener.)

To juice the pomegranate: put the pomegranate seeds in a sandwich sized plastic bag, seal tightly. Gently roll over the seeds with a rolling pin to retrieve pomegranate juices. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the sandwich bag to drain the juice into the fruit salad. Adds an extra special punch of flavor!

This fresh fruit cocktail stays good in the fridge (if it lasts that long) for several days and makes an excellent, vitamin rich, energy boosting breakfast or after-dinner desert.

•Veggie-Pasta Salad

One box of veggie pasta (I use Eating Right™ brand made with vegetable puree)

OR

One box of quinoa pasta (gluten free option)

OR Mix half-box veggie pasta with half-box quinoa pasta (this is how I make mine)

Four stalks of celery

One bell pepper (any color you choose)

One large cucumber

One large tomato

½ medium onion (I use red onions, but any onion you like will work fine)

Dressing:

One cup vegan (or regular if you like) Italian dressing **

¼ cup vegan mayo (or regular if you prefer)

One tablespoon Dijon mustard

One tablespoon dill weed

½ teaspoon sea salt (or regular works fine)

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Cook pasta as package directions indicate, meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the dressing ingredients together with a whisk.

While pasta cooks, chop veggies into desired size, and add to the dressing, mix together.

Once pasta is finished, rinse under cool water until pasta is cooled off; then add pasta to veggies/dressing mix. Stir well and it is ready to go! This pasta salad is so fresh and delicious, and keeps well for several days in the fridge. My husband likes to eat it with chicken for dinner, but it can be eaten on its own as a meal or a snack.

**Home-made Italian Dressing

One cup of vinegar (any type is fine: wine vinegar, rice vinegar, etc…)

1 1/3 cup of olive oil

Two tablespoons of water

½ tablespoon garlic powder

½ tablespoon onion powder

½ tablespoon agave nectar (regular sugar can be used, or honey)

One tablespoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried basil (fresh is even better!)

½ tablespoon dried parsley (fresh is even better!)

One tablespoon salt

Pour all ingredients into glass jar or bottle and shake well. I like to use old pickle jars or even Tupperware if that is all I have laying around. I can’t say for sure how long this keeps in the fridge because it has never gone more than a week in my house before being used!

(For more home-made, money saving ideas visit http://www.pennilessparenting.com)

*Are you on Facebook? I would love to connect and find out how these recipes worked for you. Click here to visit my Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/aaruprebecca or here for twitter: www.twitter.com/undivided_heart

© Rebecca Aarup

What Does it Mean to be a “Healthy” Christian?

**Published in The Christian Online Magazine, October 2012**

What Does it Mean to be a “Healthy” Christian?

You can’t go very far without hearing the word “healthy”. It’s on every newsstand, magazine cover, and diet book. Ironically, these publications will claim to know the secret to becoming healthy, yet none of their articles will point to the same solution. How is a person supposed to know what direction to take?

As Christians we are admonished not to follow the patterns of the world (Rom. 12:1-2), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t concern ourselves with our physical health. Yet even more important than our physical health is our spiritual health. The more “in tune” we are to God’s Word, the more motivated we are to make wise decisions concerning our physical bodies. Physical and Spiritual cannot be separated. We are to honor God with our whole bodies, not just the pieces we want to give Him.

So, that leads us to the question—as a Christian, what does it mean to be “healthy”? I recently posted this question on Twitter and received some responses.

@Gregparker16 tweeted: “Being on your knees in front of the Lord every night.”

@Hasten_Home tweeted: “Functioning in full contact & strength in the capacity God intended.”

Both of these answers are excellent. But let’s take it a step further and find out what the most important Book has to say. After all, is there any better advice then what is found in the Word of God?

3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul propsereth.” (KJV)

The best way to understand any verse is to go to the source of writing, that is, the original language. So much gets lost in translation. The Greek and Hebrew languages are very complex and many times a single word is given numerous meanings. So at all times one must consider the context of the passage when interpreting Scripture responsibly.

What we read in 3 John 1:2 is a typical greeting among brethren in the Church. Obviously they wished each other well, just as you or I would ask someone, “How are you?” Greetings such as these were acts of courtesy as well as genuine concern. What I found particularly interesting in this passage was the meaning of “health”. The Greek word “hugiēs” (pronounced hoog-ee-ace) translates: “uncorrupt” or “true in doctrine”. It also means “safe and sound” or “whole”.

And here lies the answer to our question. As a Christian, to be “healthy” is to be whole in spirit (including doctrine). Wholeness begins in our hearts.

We see this same concept displayed throughout Isaiah and Jeremiah. Several times the word “health” is used, and each time it refers to a spiritual wholeness for the sinful nation of Israel (see Jer. 30:17; 33:5-6, Isa. 58:8).

The most important health concern we have involves our spiritual health. A spiritually healthy, balanced Christian will make wise choices in the world, including that of food, activity, and finances.

God is in the business of restoration (wholeness). He often allows brokenness to bring healing—all to the glory of His Name. Psalm 51:8 “Make me to hear joy and gladness that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” The Hebrew word for “bones” in this passage is not referring to the literal bone matter holding David together, but rather the spiritual matter. Translated from Hebrew the word “bones” means “substance of life”—in other words, his spirit. God allowed David to experience spiritual brokenness so He could bring David through the valley of repentance towards the mountaintop of restoration.

Do you want to be a healthy Christian? It begins with God’s word–obedience to it and cleansing by it. We don’t drive a car without first using our minds to get in the car, turn on the engine, and press the gas pedal. Likewise, we can’t expect to make wise life-choices in any area if our minds are not aligned with the absolute truth of God’s Word.

“I have chosen the way of truth…I will run to the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:30, 32 (NIV)

© Rebecca Aarup

Nourishing Pathways (part 2)

**Published in The Christian Online Magazine September 2012 Issue**

This month concludes my interview with Rebecca Gertner. In case you missed the first half, you can read it HERE.

Nourishing Pathways to Health (part 2)

“Sometimes we think we can’t give up our fast food or soda pop or whatever it is we really, really like But God says with His help we can, if that’s what He wants us to do. I believe that God has a plan for each of us. What He wants me to do may not be what others should do. We need to pray about it, and no, it’s not silly to ask God which foods you should eat. He made you after all, so He knows more than anyone else knows what is good for your body and what’s not,” Rebecca explains.

The Gertner’s also decided to use organic produce to limit the chemical additives consumed in their diet. “Pesticides and other chemicals in our food do a lot to make us sick. It’s sad to say but there are food products out there that have more chemicals in them then actual food. If the chemical was designed to kill bugs, it will help kill us too. Buying organic produce is a good choice to make,” Rebecca said.

Recognizing the cost of eating healthy may appear daunting to many families, Rebecca still believes the physical benefits far outweigh the initial cost. Luke’s oncologist is also pleased, noting he has shown remarkable improvement. Rebecca learned how to save money by looking for great bargains, growing her own vegetables, and making products like laundry detergent and cosmetics at home.

For any family wanting to improve their health, Rebecca suggests incorporating small changes to avoid becoming overwhelmed. “Unless you have a medical crisis, there is no reason to make drastic changes that will stress you out. Start with something doable,” she says, “Like stop drinking soda. Next you could purpose to eat a vegetable at every meal. A great way to do this for breakfast would be making a green drink out of pineapple, mango and spinach sweetened with stevia. Keep adding one change on top of another and eventually you will be eating drastically different than you once were, but won’t go through the stress and drama. You will grow and adapt as you go.”

Rebecca and Luke’s three kids, Karsten, Faith Anne and Grace, have adapted well to the family’s diet changes. “They understand it will help their daddy get better and be better for all of us,” Rebecca says. “So far it has been great and I know God has given an extra measure of grace in that department.” She also noticed that as her kids’ diets improved, their overall health improved. Bruises and scrapes healed quicker.

“We view this as a lifestyle change,” Rebecca says, “Mostly so we can be realistic about it, but also because there is no known cure for the cancer Luke has. It would be a shame to work hard to get well, only to have a relapse simply because we started eating the way we used to again.”

Despite the uncertain future, Rebecca’s attitude is hopeful as she follows God’s plan for her family’s health. “In the book of James it talks about how when we know what’s right but choose not to do it, we are sinning. I have applied that verse to this area of my life. If I know I should be eating healthy but consistently make poor food choices, then I am sinning. I am not saying that I don’t eat sweets or French Fries every now and then, but on the whole, I should be eating what is good for my body, not just what tastes good. Anytime we purpose to do something healthy, we benefit. Whether it’s more energy or less illness, it’s a benefit. Everyone benefits from eating a healthy, nutritionally solid diet.”

© Rebecca Aarup

Heart Sick

Heart Sick

“If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.” Psalm 119:92 NLT

Have you noticed that some of these verses about “delight” have referenced pain, misery, anguish, trouble, or discomfort of some kind? (See Psalm 119:143) I like how the Message puts it:

“If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so, I would have given up when the hard times came.”

Do you know anyone who has given up? Perhaps you have given up? I know a few people who have definitely given up on life, given up hope for happiness, and are certainly drowning in a sea of their own misery. I have been there myself. Part of the problem is whether or not we really understand the character of God. It’s one thing to look at a verse and nod in agreement, but if that truth hasn’t infiltrated the deepest recesses of our minds, it won’t transform our behavior. And by behavior I mean whether or not we choose to trust our Sovereign God when we are facing terrible distresses. We can know all the facts in the world about the Bible, Jesus, God and various doctrines, but if we are not living it out, it is worthless information (James 1:23-25); just words on a page or knowledge in the brain. Facts won’t transform us.

When we are hopeless, miserable, and despairing it is an outward evidence of an inward illness; the heart that has not fully understood the living truth of God’s promises. We’re not instructed to transform our behavior through memorizing facts (not that memorization is bad-quite the contrary), we are told to be “transformed” by the “renewing” (Greek word meaning “renovation”) of our minds; this is the only way to discover God’s will. (Romans 12:2) Our mind must undergo a spiritual renovation. This process involves removing the old décor, tearing down some walls, maybe building a new room, and removing the old clutter. This renovation will teach us to think in a different way. This way of thinking is led by the Holy Spirit, and is centered on the word of God and his revealed truth. Without this mind makeover, we are left to our own way of thinking which seems good to us, but in reality is conformed to the thought processes of the world. We cannot be worldly and spiritual at the same time.

If we really know God relationally (as opposed to just factually) we will begin to have a transformation of thought which will result in a transformation of behavior. Take a marriage, for example. As you get to know your spouse as a person (their character) you begin to behave differently around them. You have a level of trust based on your knowledge of who they are, and how they have acted towards you in the past. You also allow yourself to be more “real” in the presence of your partner as opposed to a person you just met last week. It’s not the facts of your spouse that influences your behavior, it’s the knowledge of their character based on your experience with them in your life.

So, are you miserable? What has your experience and relationship with God been like? Do you know his character, do you trust what the Bible says about who he is and how he feels about you, his treasured creation? Your relationship with God will dictate your behavior. Walking around moping and feeling sorry for ourselves is a demonstration of disbelief in God’s word. Does that sound too hard? Think about it!  It is something we are all guilty of at times, but it can be different! God’s word can sustain us with a deep lasting joy despite any situation. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be walking around bubbly and enthusiastic all the time, but it does mean that deep down we will trust God, his word, and his promises and know his plan is being worked out in us. (Romans 8:28) That knowledge and experience with our Lord will relieve our pressure, lift our burdens, and give us joy! God is working this out: hallelujah! I know I can’t figure it out on my own (and when I try it usually turns into a total nightmare) but I know when God is moving miraculous things occur. I want my eyes to be open to the miracles he’s performing every day in my life, but I can’t see and be thankful for those things if I am fixated on not getting my way.

If it’s in my life (and yours) then God allowed it, and if I have a problem with that I need to dig deeper in to his word to discover more of his heart for me. God isn’t the problem, he’s the solution.

Prayer

Jesus, right now I choose to thank you for this circumstance in my life. I admit I am uncomfortable, but I realize that you are painting the portrait, not me. I will stop trying to add my colors to your picture, and let you be the Artist. Teach me more of who you are and what you are up to in my life so I may learn to trust you completely in all things. Today I ask for you to show yourself to me in a mighty miraculous way, confirm for me the truth that you are here, you care, and you have a plan. Impress that upon my heart with your Holy Spirit, and help me to be quiet so I can listen to your voice.

Cravings

“How sweet your words taste to me, they are sweeter than honey.” Psalm 119:130 NLT

Cravings

What is the first thing you crave in the morning, your normal breakfast food fair? Do you crave cereal, toast, cinnamon rolls, donuts, or are you like me, stumbling and fumbling around hopelessly in search for your coffee?

When you see the word “craving”, you may think of a woman who is pregnant. The stereotypical ideal is that this woman craves pickles and ice cream at crazy hours of the night. (Not my experience, but who am I to judge?) Or perhaps we think of the dieter trying to avoid carbs and sugar at all costs. That poor soul, all they can think about is what they cannot have, which is everywhere on every street corner!

Sometimes you don’t realize you have a craving until the smell hits you. I know this has happened to me many times. I don’t even feel hungry until I step outside and someone somewhere is barbequing.

Mm mm

Now all of a sudden I am starving! In fact, I am fairly certain at this point I may come into physical harm and/or discomfort unless I fix my craving.

Can you imagine loving and craving the Word of God like you do your favorite food? It’s really sad that I even had to type that. The fact is we spend time and consume our lives in what we love. We seek these things out, we prioritize them. When we wake up in the morning, that thing is on our minds.

Work

Kids

Meetings

Ministries

Duties

People

Pleasures

Hobbies

Is God’s word the first thing we crave as we take our waking breath in the morning? Is his sustenance what we crave as the day unfolds before us? When we are bewildered and befuddled are we craving a word from our Savior, or a word from another person who can say what we want to hear but not necessarily what is best for us?

People get so fixated on their craving they may lack total self-control when it comes to food. Often times it is sweets, chocolate, candy and sugars that are the greatest downfalls. Yet the psalmist describes the Bible as being the sweetest thing he has ever tasted! So sweet he craved it over and over, he loved it, he was obsessed with every word of it, he couldn’t get enough of it, he couldn’t wait to dig into it, he couldn’t wait to discover more treasures in it. Now that is the healthiest craving a person could ever hope to have!

Feast on the sweetest sugar of all, the word of God, but never gain weight! His word is always perfect for us, satisfying, never too much, never more than enough. It is just right. There is no such thing as too much of this sweetness! Indulge yourself! You need not ever diet when you’re feasting on this truth!

Wake up, have your breakfast of truth, the real breakfast of champions. And make sure to balance that out with several “meals” throughout the day. You don’t want your spiritual metabolism getting too slow.

“Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk with no money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor for what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and you will delight in the richest fare.” Isaiah 55:1-2 TNIV

Prayer

Jesus, as I start the day you have so mercifully blessed me with, I ask that you give me a new desire for your word. Plant in me a deep craving for the only bread that doesn’t cost money yet satisfies the deepest longing of my heart like no other. Every day I eat food to satisfy my physical needs, I eat consistent meals to stay healthy, yet I neglect to stay consistent in your word. Give me consistency and balance throughout the day, so my spiritual life will be healthy and radiate your truth.