According to God’s Design
I hate running. But, I love running for God. I wanted to start this post by telling you that I started running this week and by just giving you a good report. I’m tempted, even now, to tell you the good news about this week and leave out all the bad stuff. So, I’m not really sure where to begin, It’s been a crazy week. I’ve been emotional and irritable. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. Many times I thought about driving to Wendy’s and getting 2 double cheeseburgers, fries, and a large Dr. Pepper. I wanted to go into Chick-Fil-A, eat a whole tray of nuggets by myself, then top it off with a chocolate chip cookie or an Oreo shake. I wasn’t tempted to walk into any bars—thank God—but I did crave margaritas this week. Let me tell you why I didn’t give in to any of that. Or better yet, let me tell you why I believe God spared me from those things. It’s because I’m seeking desperately to live on mission, spiritually and physically, with my mind, my soul and my body. I’m genuinely hoping God’s spirit guides me in all directions and in all areas of my life, especially with what I allow into my body—God’s temple.
Eat According to God’s Design
To do that, I have to examine food according to its lawfulness and its helpfulness. What helps me in times of question and conflict, is to take everything back to day one. So, for example, whenever I have a conflict with my wife, no matter how tough the situation, I always try to rewind back to day one, at the altar, the day I said, “I do.” When I do that, I remember the commitment I made to her… “To love her, cherish her, and be there for her in good times and in bad, for the rest of my life.” Once I’m back in that moment, I can open my heart enough for God to speak into my life and to guide me into conflict resolution.
To eat according to God’s design, we should take ourselves back to day one, which is, before there were any health issues, before bad diet existed—basically, before the fall of humankind. If you read Genesis chapter 3, you’ll discover that Adam & Eve ran into some problems in the perfect garden of Eden. Taking fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil wasn’t lawful for Eve to do. Neither was it helpful to Adam (or anyone else born after the fall). The human body was made to perfectly reflect God’s image, so we can’t just go around eating whatever we feel like eating. The day Eve decided to eat what was unlawful, her health began to deteriorate. The moment Adam ate what was unhelpful, his fitness was subject to decline.
God provides us with a world filled with wonderful food and the means to deliciously prepare it. But we must partake of it with the attitude that every decision we make with our bodies further unites us to Him. It also should increasingly unite us to each other so we can grow in strength, love, and harmony, together. God’s word speaks to us about the healthiest way to do that.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” —1 Cor. 10:23–26
How do we decide what is lawful? Everything is lawful, except cannibalism. Chicken, pork, beef, fish, shrimp, turkey, duck, and lamb are some common main course items that God created for us, just to name a few. If you can eat them in faith with a clear conscience, that’s great. Just be mindful of portion size, nutrition facts, and how you season or prepare your meals. Chicken fried steak, for example, is always going to be worse for you than a grilled steak. Likewise, baked potatoes will always be a healthier option than French fries. Be cautious of artificial flavors, additives, and genetically modified foods. Never forget that God’s creation was designed to be organic and whole, and we are meant to be of sound mind and body.
You really can’t go wrong with fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but pay attention to sugar intake, caloric intake, how often you snack, and the reasons why you snack. As you put your meals together with balance, think quality, not quantity. Remember to listen to the Holy Spirit and your body so you don’t eat past the point of satiation. There isn’t anything wrong with not clearing your plate or skipping dessert.
As a young boy, my siblings and I were taught to finish all our food. What I teach my children is somewhat similar to a technique found in the Okinawan diet, Hara Hachi Bu, which is simply to stop eating when you’re 80 percent full. This is one technique we use to prevent the constant stretching of our stomachs and avoid putting on excess weight. It also is a practical way to help us remember that our bodies belong to God and remind us to pay close attention to what the scripture says.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. —Prov.16:24
With the Holy Spirit as our guide, we allow Him to educate us on what’s helpful in the physical sense by examining the effect foods have on our bodies and the bodies of the people we eat with. But also, we pay close attention to how our minds and their minds are affected in the spiritual sense. Eating beef or lamb all the time might make you fat and lazy, but it might make others strong and energetic. Eating fish might keep you lean and happy, but it could also make others cranky or moody. We need to be discerning about these things as we pray for direction in our own diets and in the eating habits of our friends and family.
Live According to God’s Design
This past week, I think I was having withdrawal symptoms from all the junk I normally eat and drink. I seemed to have a short temper at times, I was often hangry, and my week didn’t get off to a very good start. I did pretty good, maintaining my diet and exercise plan, but everything was kind of off. My wife, Brittany, and I had a disagreement over some stuff. She’s 8 months pregnant by the way. For the longest time I feared that my old self would at some point be revealed during her pregnancy, and this week, it definitely was.
In my previous marriage, when my ex-wife was pregnant, I treated her like garbage. I exhausted her, exasperated her, and took advantage of her. In my mind, I was more important than she was, so as a result, I took from her and never gave back. I expected her to serve me, but I never served her. I demanded that she care for me, but I never cared for her. Those tendencies from long ago resurfaced this past week with Brittany and it wasn’t good. It was sad because I was looking forward to being with our marriage counselor to report how great we’ve been doing, but that plan pretty much blew up in my face.
Long story short, on Thursday, I let my pride get the best of me. I hardened my heart so much that I wasn’t even able to say I was sorry for what I’d done. It was bad. I ended up sticking to the plan to fast and pray on Friday, but it wasn’t by choice, it was because of how sick to my stomach I was for blowing up at Brittany and for humiliating her in front of our marriage counselor, who also happens to be our good friend. During the counseling session, I went back to day one, but it wasn’t to reconcile, it was to shift blame, to point fingers—to basically say, God this was her fault, not mine.
The next day I realized what a jerk I’d been. I felt terrible. It crippled me. I don’t know about you and your spouse, but when I’m at odds with my wife, I can’t function. It’s like a whole half of my body shuts down—in this case, the better half. Brittany didn’t deserve to be treated the way I treated her, no matter what she said or did. It wasn’t until I asked her to forgive me, that I felt better. But, that whole situation, for a moment, blinded me of my responsibility to her as my main squeeze.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. —Eph.2:25
NO MATTER WHAT. That is my calling and commitment to her. And the moment I lost sight of that, it affected us spiritually and physically. You see, it’s not just how we treat our own bodies that we need to be concerned with. It’s also about what we say and do that affects other peoples’ bodies as well. My tyrannical speech and condescending tone also made Brittany sick, and as a result, she couldn’t eat. I don’t want to freak anybody out, but I think it’s safe to say that I robbed my unborn child of some degree of nutrients that day. And for what? So that I could say I was right? How pathetic! And how pathetic, that instead of being a man, I was a coward who chose to run away from the issue—making matters worse—instead of running to the cross of Christ where ALL spiritual healing lies, along with the solution to ALL life’s problems.
Run According to God’s Design
Yes, I hate running. But, I love running for God. I hate running and hiding from my mistakes, so I choose to run in the direction that gets me closer to God, who is my refuge and strength. This past week I did in fact start running—spiritually to the cross and physically around my apartment complex. It wasn’t in a Forrest Gump kind of way either. It was in a way that was worshipful—in a way that had purpose. It’s amazing to me how much God can speak while I’m doing something as simple as jogging at the crack of dawn with praise & worship music blasting in my eardrums. I even made a specific playlist for Him that I’d like to share with you. Here it is:
(1) Lift Your Head Weary Sinner by David Crowder (off the Passion album: Even So Come)
(2) Praise Goes On by Elevation Worship
(3) Back to Life (Live) by Hillsong Young & Free
(4) Raised to Life by Elevation Worship
(5) Praise the King by Corey Voss
(6) Love so Great (Live) by Hillsong Worship
This playlist is about 35 minutes long and serves as great background music for my cardio throughout the week. I seem to only be able to make it through three songs before falling to my knees, crying, and crying out to God. When I finally get up, I can’t help but want to run with my hands up toward the sky, singing directly to God. Ha! I’m so glad I do it early in the morning… People might think I’m crazy if I did it in the middle of the day. I pray you’ll find some time to run in a way that’s worshipful. Pray for me as I pray for you. I hope your Faith Infused Training Project is off to a glorious start. Love you guys!