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

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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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When You’re Just Fed-Up

 

I struggled with the enclosure for several minutes but eventually gave up and sulked to my dresser. Digging around in frustration I finally found them, the fat jeans. Hadn’t seen or wore them in probably two years, but here they were and now was the time.

I can’t believe this, I mean, I’m a vegetarian, I used to be a personal trainer, and I have all this knowledge about health. Why is this happening?!

My thoughts drifted back a few years (ok, nearly twelve years). I was a certified personal trainer; I weighed 120lbs and wore a size 4 in my favorite designer clothes. Those were the days. Or were they?

While I might have looked good on the surface, I was a wreck on the inside. In order for me to get that body I purged over ten times a day, abused laxatives, worked out for hours on end even waking in the middle of the night to run laps, I was addicted to drugs and smoked like a chimney, and I regularly engaged in self-mutilating behaviors like cutting.

Shaking my head I thanked God for the extra weight I had now, because it wasn’t about the weight it was about the freedom.  I might be packing some pounds, but at least I knew who I was, who God made me, and I was no longer enslaved to a life of personal torture.

Still, God was prompting me to try a little harder when it came to taking care of my temple. Since my back injury in 2008, I had really done very little by way of exercise. Somehow that morning, pulling out the dreaded fat jeans was the spark that ignited the fire of change within me. It took a moment of shock, disgust, and honesty within myself to finally get motivated enough to make a change. (And I’m happy to say that one new exercise machine later along with consistent use of it, and I’m back in the good jeans!)

It’s the same way with our sin. We are so good at deceiving ourselves into thinking we’ve got it together, we’re doing a good job, we’re being “good” Christians, while at the same time we can’t maintain peaceful relationships, we get angry when we think of how a person wronged us, we can’t move past being a victim or feeling sorry for ourselves, and we say we’ve forgiven someone but continue to treat them differently; but boy, on the outside we look good—especially when we’re singing with our hands raised in church. Yes, there we are the super-spiritual Christian who doesn’t practice mercy, grace, love, or forgiveness.

Sometimes our consequences need to catch up with us, and sometimes, if we’re really stubborn, we need to lose everything and everyone in order to find out that God was all we needed. His approval was all that mattered.

We have to really want it, though. Because it’s hard work, this freedom thing. Maybe it’s easy to have a good experience every now and then, but to really maintain an experience of freedom it takes effort and honesty. Otherwise, we end up right back where we started, pulling out the fat jeans because we thought we were doing better than we really were. In other words, the result will always give us away.

Failed relationships, lack of peace, judgmental attitudes, critical or cynical spirits, dissatisfaction, inconsistency, insecurity, fat jeans, whatever it is, it’s the result that speaks to the attitude. Am I lacking peace, do I feel the need to judge another person’s motives, am I always complaining, being overly dramatic, craving attention, avoiding a person who hurt me, talking negatively about someone behind their back, impatient, feeling as if my needs are unmet by people…? Whatever it is, there is an underlying sin-attitude behind it.

Please don’t wait until the result of your life is so negative you can’t stand it anymore before you finally take action. Keep a short account with God, be honest with yourself, others, and God (it’s not like your secret motives will actually surprise Him).

It’s easier to button my jeans when I know I’m doing all I can to be healthy, even if I’m not wearing the size I want. Just the same, it’s easier to experience joy and peace when we’re honest, when we put pride to death daily, and maintain a clear conscience of integrity in all our words and actions. When this is our way of life, the hurts are easier to bear, we’re not thrown into a cloud of depression amidst bad circumstances, and we don’t feel the need to defend ourselves when unjustly accused (you know, when that eye for an eye thing taps on our shoulder).

Is your faith connected to your actions? Are your motives pure? Is your heart sincere? Or is the result of your attitudes leaving a bad taste in your mouth (and the relationships around you) and a few extra pounds around your spiritual waist?  As Warren Wiersbe says, don’t become so smart you become dumb! (Or, in my case, know a lot about health yet fail to practically apply that knowledge until the results were more than I could stand.)

 “In my pastoral ministry, I have met people who have become intoxicated with ‘studying the deeper truths of the Bible.’ Usually they have been given a book or introduced to some teacher’s tapes. Before long, they get so smart they become dumb! The ‘deeper truths’ they discover only detour them from practical Christian living. Instead of getting burning hearts of devotion to Christ (Luke 24: 32), they get big heads and start creating problems in their homes and churches. All Bible truths are practical, not theoretical. If we are growing in knowledge, we should also be growing in grace (2 Peter 3: 18).” Warren Wiersbe, Be Complete (A commentary on Colossians)

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You can support Rebecca’s ministry with one click! 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.

 

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