Winning in Life!

Ever fight a war with an enemy caused by an enemy you cannot see?  We all have—and do.  My current battle is a minor but aggravating one:  chigger bites.  Creatures so tiny, the head of a pin can hold two or three but their poison so vile it literally dissolves skin tissue.  At first, they aren’t too noticeable but within a day or so, the itch is impossible to ignore.  Prevention is the wisest course.

My recent encounter did not catch me unaware.  I went to the woods prepared.  Long pants, boots and my favorite non-chemical bug oil (Avon Skin-so-Soft!).  My preparations kept every bug at bay except the chigger.  Tree Oil has been my battle partner for the last couple days.  Preparations that put trust in an ineffective solution do not accomplish much.  The rest of the crew who trooped into the forest used a traditional bug spray and left the adventure without chigger bites.  Trusting in myself has brought me to more battles than I can count.  Can you relate?     

As believers in Christ, we have all of the provisions we need to live well in this world.  We have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1); Christ came that we would have abundant lives (John 10) and He provides all we need for life & godliness (2 Peter 1).  Too often, we trust in ourselves, our plans or our perspective to produce what God has already provided. 

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on

Psalm 23 offers us a natural world look at how the Good Shepherd cares for us!  The entire Psalm is abeautiful picture of resting in the care of the Shepherd but one line has captivated my thoughts as I apply healing oil to my chigger battle wounds.

“…You anoint my head with oil.”

I’ve always read that as blessings given from God, and while that’s not wrong, it’s not the whole story!  In the sheep field, there are flies that attack the sheep.  They enter the ears, lay their eggs and even burrow into the brain.  On their own, the sheep cannot rid themselves of the flies—nor can they heal the damage the flies do.  In fact, the flies create such discomfort, the sheep become frantic; they damage their own selves as trying to fix the problem.  Prevention is what the shepherd focuses on; shepherds ‘anoint’ their sheep with oil!

The Good Shepherd longs to do the same for us.  There are many destructive pestilences in this world—some we can see, some we are aware of, some we can manage—but only some.  Relying on ourselves is a losing proposition in the eternal economy.  We need the Good Shepherd.  He wants us to live abundant, peaceful, healthy lives.  He provides all we need to do just that.  The choice is ours. 

Will we receive what He longs to give?

beige sheep on green grass field under gray sky

Photo by Magnus Martinsen on


Find Peace by uniting body, mind & spirit

It astounded me to read a poster on the wall of the Lowe’s Family YMCA in North Carolina that stated their purpose as helping to bring unity to body, mind and spirit.  The poster had Christ’s words from His prayer in John 17.  Most non-profits began with Christian ideology…few retain those principles.  As I reflected on the ‘rightness’ of their purpose, the evidence of lives not in unity pierced my own heart.  Even secular studies confirm that as much as 90% of illness comes from wrong thinking and failure to give our physical bodies what they need.  We have authority in this world over our own minds and our own bodies.  We exercise that authority by placing ourselves under the authority of the God of the Bible.


I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  John 17:21

Unity.  We do want it…but we usually want it on our terms which immediately puts unity out of reach.  Unity can’t happen until we welcome Jesus into the details disrupting our 15747529_1799284616976374_5369443153573163066_npeace.  Problems aren’t our problem.  Jesus already overcame the world.  Our problem is not allowing Him to be the way to Peace.

That sounds sort of good…and sort of judgmental, doesn’t it?  I promise you, it is all good.  Jesus has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves:  open the way to abundant life.  He is the way, and if we examine His life, we realize the way is not easy.  It is ‘simple’ but incredibly difficult and requires embracing suffering.

Embracing suffering is NOT being a martyr.  Martyr’s choose where they will suffer based on their own preferences and for personal reasons:  meeting their own needs in the name of sacrifice.  Christ did not do that.  He sacrificed Himself to restore us to the Father–because that is what the Father wanted!

Unity comes when we are as passionate for the desires of the Father as Jesus is!

While Jesus willingly did what we cannot, He will not do what we can do!  We have responsibility for our earthly lives.  Our minds and our bodies are ours to surrender.  We must choose thoughts that line up with God’s…and activities in line with His laws.  When we don’t, we don’t have peace.  We don’t have health.  Our bodies will break down and our emotions run amok.  Check out this definition of amok…it astounded me in its accuracy and the fact that is in the DSM as a psychiatric disorder.

Running amok, sometimes referred to as simply amok or gone amok,[1] also spelled amuk, from the Malay language,[2] is “an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malay culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior”.[3] The syndrome of “Amok” is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR).[4] The phrase is often used in a less serious manner when describing something that is wildly out of control or causing a frenzy (e.g., a dog tearing up the living room furniture might be termed as “running amok”.)

God is passionate for unity.  He not only allows our lives to press us toward Him…press us toward life…He designed us to need Him.  He is unity and peace and life.  If your world feels like it has run amok, ask Him where His priorities have been set aside for your own.   Choose God’s priorities and He will do the work, you will find the rest you seek.  If you choose your own priorities, you will suffer and struggle as you try to do what you feel is right and good.

Where is your mind or body running amok?  What do you need to change:  your view, your actions?  Ask God…ask a friend for ‘truth in love’ and accountability.  Peace is possible.

More than what you see…

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

What we don’t see matters more than what is glaringly obvious.  Battling weight issues has taught me much over the years.  Made in the image of God, we human beings have three parts as well:  body, soul and spirit.  For health, all of those parts must work together.  Weight and health are body issues that have helped me delve down to glimpse deep truths!  (You’ll find the physical world info at the end of this if you are interested…spiritual stuff always interests me more.)  At my age, dieting for appearance sake does not captivate my attention.  Serious health concerns help me listen up, but understanding eternal truths is what gets me excited and keeps me focused over the long-term.

Type II diabetes seethes through my family health history. Recently, I spent some time learning about the hidden processes of diabetes.  While I knew my eating and exercise habits allowed me some control over the disease, it shocked me to learn that my eating habits literally changed the physical processes in my body.  A light bulb went off for me:  The longer I choose to ignore the needs of my body—and the God-designed purposes of food—the greater the damage I cause to myself.  My body is designed to utilize food and even enjoy occasional treats; it is not designed to do whatever it desires.  Repeatedly stressing my body with excess foods damages the actual function of my body.  Whole-health demands that balance in the body, soul and spirit!

Discovering hidden processes is the first step to understanding and personal growth. We are not at the mercy of our habits, our family inheritances or our culture.  As Christians privileged to have the very Spirit of God dwelling in the center of our being, we can exercise dominion over all that!  We are designed as human beings to be directed by the Holy Spirit—from the inside out.  When we fail to live that way, natural law kicks in and outside in consequences help us seek a better way!  We are to deny ruling power to our physical bodies, lusts, habits and even generational curses.

Heartaches, anger, and earthly battles seek to direct our thoughts, emotions and even actions.  Those feelings and actions become habits that can dig trenches of pain into our souls.  Just as repeated times of elevated insulin convince our bodies this is the ‘new normal,’ poor habitual responses to trouble eat at our souls.  Efforts to escape the pain without treating underlying issues bring more destruction.  A change of diet and activity reverses negative trends but long-standing patterns often necessitate a multi-faceted approach.

The Spirit, aided by tools such as the Word, other Christians, and circumstances, shines the Light of God into our troubles to show the way through them.  As we walk in the ways of the Word (in faith of His goodness), we become reflectors of His light instead of reactors to the world.  We enjoy the peace of His presence and the victory of faith.  His Light begins a healing process in our dark places.  It may not change the actual circumstances but the pain eases as Christ enters the suffering with us.  The love we absorb from Him then flows into our world bringing healing to others.


Just in case you might be interested, here’s what started me on the info above :).

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has always been a struggle for me.  As part of a family of diabetics, age intensifies the struggle and the concern.  Physical activity is the easiest control device for me.  Being active fits my personality.  Greater challenges to my weight come from a love of eating (and a tendency to indulge that love!), poor time management and emotional stressors.  I consciously need to remind myself to use food for right purposes.  While I’m still working on that, lately my battle has been different.

To reverse the climbing scales, I enlisted a computer program to monitor my food intake. Despite keeping the calorie count in line, my weight held firm.  Even more shocking, the breakdown of my diet into carbohydrates, sugars, vitamins and proteins revealed a poor nutritional profile.  Hidden sugars (mostly from white flour products and fruit, seldom sweets) bumped my sugar intake well above healthy levels.  That was an ‘ah ha’ moment for me: this weight issue is more than calories in, calories out!  Clearly, hidden processes were at work in my body. I went sleuthing and find some interesting physical facts—and fascinating spiritual parallels.

A very non-technical summary of my physical ‘finds’ is that excess sugar in the blood stream triggers the release of insulin.  Insulin then acts as a ‘street sweeper’ cleaning the blood by stuffing everything in fat cells and ‘locking’ the cell door. Once the pattern is established, the body perpetuates the system and healthy realignment (including weight loss) becomes difficult.  As I began to learn the hidden processes affecting my weight, the reality that the truth of hidden processes applies to personal habits, family legacies and even cultural mores excited me!  While I am still trying to work my new knowledge into my nutritional arsenal, I must admit the inter-personal stuff fascinates me far more.


Emotions–the nerves of the soul

Emotions are a blessing from God.  Scientific studies show that individuals with damage to the brain in the area of emotional response have great difficulty making decisions and thinking clearly.  Most of us are tempted to believe that we can manage our emotions or suppress them effectively.  That is not the case.  Just as ‘toughing’ out physical pain causes lasting physical damage, developing emotional callouses (or prisons to stuff emotions into) creates physical and relational devastation.  God gave us emotions to develop us into the design He intended!

Identifying the message we are receiving from our soul nerves (our emotions) can be tricky.  When I first began to accept I had to deal with emotions, I needed an Emotion Chart such as the one on the left to help me identify them. I ignored them so long, I didn’t recognize them. The silly chart placed on my refrigerator helped me expand my vocabulary about emotions.  We cannot think beyond the extent of our vocabulary.  Knowledge and understanding walk hand-in-hand.

From there, I moved onto the Feeling Wheel and studied how emotions relate to one another.  Another helpful tool is recognizing the phrases that indicate deep emotion–either in yourself or another.

God designed humanity for the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23a)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In fact, not living in the Spirit creates disease because it is dis-ease within our bodies.  Not living the Spirit creates dis-ease in our relationships.  Emotions are God’s tool to help us live in health and harmony!  Embrace them.

Health of My Countenance

You can usually tell when someone feels good–or not–simply by looking at their face.  Tucked away in Psalm 43:5 is an interesting look at a ‘name of God.’  The Psalmist says ‘I will praise the health of my countenance and my God.’

Kate Ter HaarI find it fun to explore the roots of words and the tools of technology make that fairly easy.  Here is the place I played with this verse.  Here’s what I see–keeping in mind I am not a Bible Scholar, simply a lover of God.

Health in this verse is a name we know well:  Yeshua.  Our salvation.  Face speaks to me of our direction, our future.  And God is the beautiful name Elohim.

When our soul roars within us–when everything seems out of whack and not what we want, quiet peace comes to our heart and our face when we remember what Jesus already provided because it was the will of God.  Let Him be the health of your countenance today!

Nothing quite captures the concept like this hymn–and the story behind it: