Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

Dear family and friends,

A merry hello to you all from the bottom of our hearts! This year has been a difficult one for us and for our country in many ways, what with various sicknesses and injuries, dangerous animals and animals dying, a serious drought (albeit not nearly so severe as last year’s), threats of skyrocketing gas prices, perhaps the most important election in the history of our country, and concern about what the New Year might bring in that regard.

What a comfort, then, to know that our God is both good and sovereign! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. . . . [He] will be exalted among the heathen, [He] will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11). So it is that we remember this past year with thankfulness and approach the next with the peace that only God can give.

Jedidiah, is now 12 years old and in the seventh grade. He has outgrown his mom and sister in shoe size, mows the yard by himself, and helps with our church’s video ministry. After mourning the disappearances or deaths of a few cats throughout the first half of the year, he cares for the two newest ones, Socks and Boots, all the more. Oh! Let’s not forget his beta fish either - his name’s Lucas, after one of Jedidiah’s new friends from church (of which there are several). Another of these friends gave him his first real gun, of which he is very proud. In the early fall, Dad and Jedidiah enjoyed a little camping trip together, taking time out for horseback riding and rafting on Owsley Fork Lake.

Caleb is 17 and finishing up his senior year in preparation for an internship at the state capitol in the spring. As to college, he plans to attend University of the Cumberlands with a major in Religion, then enter full-time Christian service; and so has been preparing accordingly with a Bible study at his former workplace, filling in for the youth Sunday School teacher, and preaching his first sermon. Earlier this year, he was saddened by the death of his dog, Lady. She was a very good little dog; but very old, too. Caleb has enjoyed some deepened friendships and fellowship with others at church and online, while his intermediate license has enabled several sleepovers, basketball games, birthday celebrations, and other fun stuff with his best friend Chris in another town.

Naomi is 19 and worked at Lee’s Famous Recipe most of the year; although lately she has begun teaching piano lessons instead. Naomi also teaches the upper elementary children in Sunday School and loves playing with them as well as the other children at church, particularly a certain three-year-old named Kaylee. One of the highlights of her year was a Youth Conference in Indiana with her best friend Hannah, whom she had not seen since their meeting at church camp five years ago.

Mom, 41, continues to homeschool Caleb and Jedidiah while ministering to the ladies of our church through visits, Sunday School, ladies’ fellowships, and instruction on “Once-a-Month Cooking” and other topics of interest. She loved finding a new thrift store and mini-library called “The Friends of Paint Lick” and has enjoyed making and decorating countless cakes for church family, Naomi and Caleb’s coworkers, and various birthday parties and weddings.

Dad, 46, still pastors Galilee Baptist Church and works at Creation Technologies. During the two revival efforts he preached in the community this year, he greatly enjoyed fellowshipping with the other pastors and church leaders he met. And the whole family has loved listening to him read aloud several classics, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates.

In addition, our whole family has enjoyed quite a lot of football, volleyball, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, and a whole lot more, both as a family and with our church (Caleb and Jedidiah often refer to the church’s “football league” and plan out depth charts for future games). The late summer found us at Lake Cumberland with a family from our church, learning to ride the seadoos, attempting to water-ski (haha!), and going inner tubing for the first time - a very fun vacation for all of us!

We look forward to hearing from and catching up with you all, and perhaps - hopefully - seeing you soon. Here’s wishing you and your kin a wonderful Christmas Day and season!

The Hetrick Family

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spiritual Exercise?

I wondered for a while what I should write for this. What is spiritual exercise? How do you exercise your spirit as well as your body? A couple of weeks ago, my devotion "happened" to be in Ephesians 6, dealing with putting on the whole armor of God. And all of a sudden, it hit me: We are soldiers in the grandest and holiest and most vital war of all time. How do soldiers become good soldiers? By exercise! Spiritual exercise is simply practicing right living. It is putting on the armor of God, and wearing and using that armor.

Of course, I have a lot yet to learn on this topic and will study up and do my best to get back with you more educated before too long. Here are some verses to ponder in the meantime:

"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).

"But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen" (Ephesians 6:10-24).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Soccer - Not for the Faint of Heart!

Well, my exercise commitment didn’t work out quite as well as I thought it would last week. Mom had several extra “pastor’s wife” duties that called her away, such as visiting and helping people out and picking up stuff for Dad or church; so I had the very fun privilege of teaching my brother Jedidiah and practicing my kitchen and laundry skills. Then our entire family drove to another town for revival services every night, as that church’s pastor and his wife are family friends and asked Dad to conduct the revival effort at the last minute. It went wonderfully, and everyone made new friends and learned a lot.

For instance, who do you think had the godliest marriage in the Bible? I couldn’t have told you until last Friday night, but here’s the answer: Abraham and Sarah! What other husband-wife team is named in the Faith Hall of Fame? What other man is referred to as the “Friend of God” over and over again throughout Scripture and was told Jesus’ confidential plans concerning the future of a city? What other earthly father did God have so much trust will raise his children and instruct his servants properly?

How many other couples got to cook Jesus a meal in the Old Testament? When Peter wanted to teach women how to respect their husbands, who did he use as an illustration? What other woman in Scripture is proclaimed beautiful inside and out? Forget you know anything about them and read their story in Genesis 12 - 25. You might be surprised by all you find! They had their problems (as do all other couples), but they still had the most successful marriage in the Bible.

Well, anyway, with all that “activity” I was about as inactive as possible, if that can be imagined! Oh, well. This week has been a little better. Yesterday Caleb and Jedidiah and I had a delightful game of soccer before getting showered and freshened up for church.

This afternoon Jedidiah and I tried again. The score was 6-2, with Jedidiah in the lead, of course. :) He had the ball and I was running hard to try to stop him. The ball was lying there by itself. Hope surged through me. Maybe I could get it? I was there, I kicked, . . . I tripped over the ball, I fell onto the concrete ditch by the church. Ouch! Caleb had been watching from the parsonage doorway and sprinted down to see how I was. Thankfully not too bad, just some stinging, scraped-up hands and a grass-stained skirt.

Game over for a few hours. But that night we went outside for a third round. I had dress shoes on because Mom and I were preparing for a ladies' meeting at church, so I stayed on one end and protected the goalie while Caleb and Jedidiah fought over the ball. All of a sudden Caleb got a "brilliant" idea. Instead of trying to kick the ball around Jedidiah, he would kick it over Jedidiah! And of course, when Jedidiah saw where it was going, he would move out of the way, right? Wrong. And the ball did not go over Jedidiah. You can imagine the pretty swell over his eye. Although, thankfully, it didn't blacken! :)

So a word of advice: As you deepen your level and variety of activity in an attempt to be more healthy, it might be helpful to wear work clothes; practice proper falling - on your hands, not your face or back or arm; beware of how aggressively you play next to concrete, and always remove your head before the game starts (that way it won't get hit)!

Soccer - not for the faint of heart!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are You Healthy? (Part 2)

Wow! It's been a while since I started this series, and I suppose it is time to move on. Let's start with a brief review, shall we?

"HEALTH''Y, a. Being in a sound state; enjoying health; hale; sound; as a healthy body or constitution. 1. Conducive to health; wholesome; salubrious; as a healthy exercise; a healthy climate; healthy recreations."

I think sometimes that even though I do not have any particular obvious sickness or disease, I am not necessarily as healthy according to this definition as I could be. I am not really in shape or physically fit. Lemuel's mother could not have pointed me out to her son as a girl who "girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms" (Prov. 31:17).

After some thought on the matter, I think that there are basically seven essential ingredients to a truly healthful life.

1. A Healthy Diet

Now for ingredient number 2! :)

2. Plenty of Exercise - Ah! What a deliciously fun idea! Is that how those words sound to you? Not to me! At least not usually. But the concept is still extremely important. What would happen if I was ever-so-careful to perfect my diet until it was a healthy as possible this side of glory, and then laid around the house all day reading books or writing Christian things or listening to Christian radio or talking with my family? Would I be healthy? Well, no.

This is a great deal of what Lemuel's mother meant when she said that the virtuous young woman "girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." Yes, ladies, that means exercise.

But not to worry! It's not all gloom and doom! Remember how you felt the last time you played football with your brothers (or whatever particular sport they happen to be into at the time)? You were sore and exhuasted, true, but you probably felt happy and refreshed and energized at the same time. God wants His daughters to have energy so we can do His work and to have joy so we can do it honorably.

Every little girl wants to be a princess. Lately I've been realizing my status as such - after all, my Father is the King of all the earth! But think with me what a princess is like. Would she exercise? I can't really see her doing calisthenics, although she might and I do. But I can definitely see her taking walks, playing games of "romps" with her siblings, riding horses, scrubbing walls and floors, carrying water, and being active in many other ways.

This is the truly fun way to exercise. Simply be active. Move from the sedentary life to the active, full, bubbly life! It may be difficult at first (it still is for me at times) but you will learn to love it, and your body will shout a resounding "Thank you!"

For me, this issue takes on a little greater importance, as I was told recently that my heart rate was unusually low. No problem now, but when I grow old and gray-headed I may need a pacemaker. The antidote? Be and stay active for as long as possible!

Activity is Biblical, and it is crucial for our health! So I'm committing to being more active during the upcoming week than in the past. Will you join me?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

To See Your Face

My Lord and my Creator,
You bear with me and nourish me - be my helper.

I thirst for You, I hunger for You, I desire You,
I sigh for You, I covet You:

I am like an orphan deprived of the presence
of a very kind father,
who, weeping and wailing, does not cease to cling to
the dear face with his whole heart.

So, as much as I can, but not as much as I ought,
I am mindful of Your passion,
Your buffeting, Your scourging,
Your cross, Your wounds,
how You were slain for me,
how prepared for burial and buried;
and also I remember Your glorious resurrection,
and wonderful ascension.

All this I hold with unwavering faith,
and weep over the hardship of exile,
hoping in the sole consolation of Your coming,
ardently longing for the glorious contemplation of Your face.

~Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why God Sends Dry Spells

What happens when you enter a dark, dark time when you feel like God is only frowning at you and you can never please Him? When you feel like He is always just beyond your reach? When you seek Him so hard and all you get is reminders of your sin? When you confess and repent until it seems like you're just repeating the same things with no real purpose or meaning? When you pray and it feels like you're talking to yourself? When God seems unknowable? When you don't feel His love and don't see how He could love you? When you know this is all wrong and you have to find a way out, but there just doesn't seem to be any way at all? When you know that if there was one, you wouldn't deserve it, so why would God let you find it anyhow? When you begin to doubt that you are even His child?

I don't really know the answer. But this is how I have felt in the last few weeks. So dry. So far from God. With no idea what to do yet a deep longing for some relief, I kept on with my devotions and my prayers. Where was God? Why didn't He help me? Or why should He help me? Don't I always forget about Him and seek my own way? Don't I always choose my pet sins over Him whenever I think I can get away with it?

This is the amazing thing.

He DID help me!!! After several weeks of this had passed, He spoke comforting words to me at just the times I was most desperate. He led me to a book, Living Purely in an Impure World, and showed me through it that I was legalistically trying to earn His love by living purely rather than rejoicing in His love and learning to truly love Him in return.

He led me to an online article in "Daughterhood by Design" about having a new heart. I had asked for one, but it didn't feel like He had given it to me. The article said to walk in faith, believing that He had. So I did. And as I walked this way, it soon became apparent that my struggles with sin were a little easier to win. Oh, and I could look back and see how this had been true over the past few weeks since I had begun praying for a new heart. He had given it to me after all! Then some of the songs in church reassured me even more - "Are You Washed in the Blood?," especially.

Last night as I read Mr. Binney's book on pure living in today's world, he talked of three causes for a deer's thirst - a long run, a strenuous battle, or a dry spell. Could that be what God was doing? Did He see that I was getting too complacent? Allowing a dry spell so that I would have to seek Him so diligently it hurt? Did He know that I needed this in order to truly delight in Him?

Of course He knew! He is my kind Father, and He was teaching me with the same care - no, far more care! - that my earthly father would. So what is different? Talking to God comes much more easily now. I was doing so much of it in my desperation! Victory comes more easily. Joy is more natural. Love is easier to give. I know for sure that God is my Father, that He is good, and that He loves me.

What more could I ask?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Will Your Children Be on Death Row?

The other day I came across an interesting statistic. According to Susan Sikes with News From the Nest, a survey of 200 questions was given to death row inmates.

What do you think they had in common?

1 - Their families didn't eat together.

2 - Their families didn't play games together.

Wow! To me these things seem so simple, so commonplace. I guess you could say I have mostly taken those blessings for granted. But that's what they are - blessings! If your parents ate with you and played games with you, then you are richly blessed! :)

Oh, and if you're a parent, these are definitely some good ideas to consider. Even if you're "too busy," just try taking little steps at first. Like eating one meal together each week, and playing one game of UNO or basketball or whatever your family might enjoy. If you love your family, make time for them. These activities are truly great memory makers, and you will never regret it!

Neither will your children, by the way!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table

A couple of months ago I pushed myself to stick this book out to the end. It was very interesting and amusing; however, the language was rather difficult, requiring frequent trips to the dictionary (not necessarily a bad thing :D). The real issue with the book is the many times when the author's opinions disagree with Scripture. Therefore I cannot bring myself to recommend the book. Here are a few quotations which I found to be of some value for those interested in a taste of it. Oh, one last thing: please don't think I'm endorsing every word in these quotes; I just like them for what good can be found in them.

"Beware of making your moral staple consist of the negative virtues. It is good to abstain, and teach others to abstain, from all that is sinful or hurtful. But making a business of it leads to emaciation of character, unless one feeds largely also on the more nutritious diet of active sympathetic benevolence" (page 17).

"How curious it is that we always consider solemnity and the absence of all gay surprises and encounter of wits as essential to the idea of the future life of theose whom we thus deprive of half their faculties and then call blessed! There are not a few who, even in this live, seem to be preparing themselves for that smileless eternity to which they look forward, by banishing all gayety from their hearts and all joyousness from their countenances. I meet one such in the street not unfrequently, a person of intelligence and education, but who gives me (and all that he passes) such a rayless and chilling look of recognition, - somthing as if he were one of Heaven's assessors, come down to "doom" every acquaintance he met, - that I have sometimes begun to sneeze on the spot, and gone home with a violent cold, dating from that instant. I don't doubt he would cut his kitten's tail off, if he caught her playing with it. Please tell me, who taught her to play with it?" (page 85, emphasis original).

"Every person's feelings have a front-door and a side-door by which they may be entered. The front-door is on the street. Some keep it always open; some keep it latched; some, locked; some bolted, - with a chain that will let you peep in, but not get in; and some nail it up, so that nothing can pass its threshold. This front-door leads into a passage which opens into an ante-room, and this into the interior apartments. THe side-door opens at once into the sacred chambers.

"There is almost always at least one key to this side-door. This is carried for years hidden in a mother's bosom. Fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends, often, but by no means so universally, have duplicates of it. The wedding-ring conveys a right to one; alas, if none is given with it!

"If nature or accident has put one of these keys into the hands of a person who has the torturing instinct, I can only solemnly pronounce the words that Justice utters over its doomed victim, - The Lord have mercy on your soul! You will probably go mad within a reasonable time, - or, if you are a man, run off and die with your head on a curb-stone, in Melbourne or San Francisco, - or, if you are a woman, quarrel and break your heart, or, turn into a pale, jointed petrifaction that moves about as if it were alive, or play some real life-tragedy or other.

"Be very careful to whome you trust one of these keys of the side-door. The fact of possessinjg one renders those even who are dear to you very terrible at times. You can keep the world out from you front-door, or receive visitors only when you are ready for them; but those of your own flesh and blood, or of certain grades of intimacy, can come in at the side-door, if they will, at any hour and in any mood. Som of them have a scale of your whole nervous system, and can play all the gamut of your sensibilities in semi-tones, - touching the naked nerve-pulps as a pianist strikes the keys of his instrument. I am satisfied that there are as great masters of this nerve-playing as Vieuxtemps or Thalberg in their lines of performance. Married life is the school in which the most accomplished artists in this department are found. . . . No stranger can get a great many notes of torture out of a human soul; it takes one that knows it well, - parent, child, brother, sister, intimate. Be very careful to whom you give a side-door key; too many have them already" (pages 114-115, emphasis original).

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Day to Celebrate!!!

On July 4, 1776, a very important document was written - the Declaration of Independence! Excitement reigned across the colonies, and John Adams wrote TWO letters to his wife Abigail.

In the second, he prophesied that this day "will be the most memorable . . . in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.

"You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means."

How are you celebrating our nation's anniversary today? However you do it, remember to thank the God from Whom comes every good gift including life and freedom, pray for God's will to be done in our nation, and determine to do what you can to exalt Him in your celebrations!

Friday, June 20, 2008

John Nazigan and Water Bottles

Here is an interesting piece of food for thought that I first heard from Mr. Nazigan last summer at the Word of Life Ranch where I was a counselor.

If I have a water bottle in my hand and you bump my arm and water spills out onto the ground, why did the water come out? Because you bumped my arm, right? Wrong!

What? But if you hadn't bumped my arm, the water wouldn't have come out! You are responsible! Wait. There is a deeper reason. Water came out because water was in the bottle in the first place. If orange juice had been in the bottle when you bumped my arm, water could not have possibly escaped onto the ground.

But of course. What's so profound about that?

Let's apply this principle to our everyday lives. There will always be trials that will "bump our arms," so to speak. Yet those trials are not at fault for what comes out of us. If anger comes out, it does so because it was already present deep within our hearts. If love comes out, it does so because love was inside of us. Neither you nor I can ever change how we react to those "arm-bumps." What we must concern ourselves with is what is present inside our hearts. If we are controlled by fleshly emotions, then what escapes us will only be displeasing to the Lord and embarrassing to ourselves. On the other hand, if we are controlled by the Holy Spirit, then the fruit of the Spirit that shines after each "arm-bump" will surprise the watching world and bring glory to our Father.

What do you want spilling out of your water bottle today?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spiritual Malnutrition Personified

Have you heard about the "revival" going on in Florida under the leadership of a man named Todd Bentley? My dad played Crosstalk's show about it the other night at the dinner table so our whole family could be informed about it.

Here's the deal. Mr. Bentley is receiving angelic visits such as a fairy-like "Emma" who sprinkles gold dust on people in the church to bless them financially; as well as a fourteen-foot tall "angel or whatever" (his words) called Winds of Change who, interestingly enough, has also visited other charismatic leaders such as the Bob Jones of Kansas City.

He is receiving messages - from God, he says - to heal people by banging one woman's legs against the platform like a baseball bat or kicking another old lady in the face with his biker boot.

He is covered in tattoos and body piercings.

He shows off gold teeth that "God has given people."

People start barking like dogs and clucking like chickens.

He preaches that "the Anointing is Jesus . . . . the Anointing is not Jesus . . . . the Anointing is Jesus . . . . the Anointing is not Jesus."

I don't know about you, but this sounds like chaos to me. And we know from Scripture that God is not the author of confusion. The Bible says in another place to "test the spirits, to see whether they be of God." Does this really sound like the Holy Spirit we read about in the Bible, or maybe more like some other spirits we see in the same Book?

Here is what's really scary: A lot of supposed Christians - evangelicals, actually - are falling for this guy, driving down there to hear him, getting him to lay his hands on them, and then taking this stuff back to their local churches. Where are these people's Bibles?

Check out these links for more information.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A New Game!!! I love it! :D

This past Sunday my awesome brother Caleb was trying to think of a good game we could play that would be fun and, at the same time, honor the Lord on His Day. This is what he came up with:

One person picks a random verse in the Bible (that the other people are not likely to know already) and acts out the important words through charades. Once the audience has learned as much of the verse as possible, the first person reads the verse aloud and everyone memorizes it. Then someone else takes a turn.

It's so enjoyable and makes memorizing so much easier! In one afternoon we learned Proverbs 6:23, Psalm 137:2, Proverbs 8:34, Isaiah 65:24, 2 Kings 22:11, and two other verses that I can't quite recall off the top of my head. Try it! I'm sure that it will bring both laughter and blessing to you and your family.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bread, Milk, Meat, Water, . . . Candy?

So maybe you are eating well physically, but how about your spiritual diet? Could it be that the Church of today is suffering from malnutrition? A brief nibble of Scripture here, a token prayer there, a small cup of milk at church a few times a week, a hunk of meat every once in a while, and lots of sugared "worship music," fast-food devotionals, and fun and games with other starving spiritual children.

So many times this is the true picture of my life. But it isn't God's picture of what He wants for my life! On the contrary, He would like us to be feasting daily on the real soul food of the Word of God, prayer, communion with the Lord, and fellowship with other believers.

"But he answered and said, 'It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' " (Matthew 4:4).
Whole-grain bread is one of the excellent foods God has provided us, but even good physical bread is not enough. We must live by every word of the Scriptures! This means that we must be in the Word all the time, reading and studying and meditating and memorizing. We must really know the words of God. We must hide them in our hearts. And then we must obey them.

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2).
Pure, personalized milk straight from the breast of a healthy mother is the perfect food for babies to grow into healthy children and adults with strong bodies and immune systems. But again, what is more important than food? Soul food (1 Timothy 4:8)! The Word of God is the perfect food for our souls to grow into healthy and strong spiritual adults, no longer tossed about by every wind of doctrine but instead ready to guide younger believers in the Way.

"I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able" (1 Corinthians 3:2).
As a baby gets older, he eventually needs to be weaned from his mother's milk and fed with meat like grown-ups. He needs to eat real food. Milk is good for babies, but eventually we do expect them to grow up. The same goes for Christians. We need milk for a while, but the idea is to be continually growing and learning more and more, reaching higher and higher and deeper and deeper.

"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13).
Pure water is so vital to our existence! If we go without it for more than a few days, we will die. Spiritual water is just as important. We need to drink daily, moment-by-moment, from Christ, our fountain of living waters. Just as pop brings temporary refreshment but no real nourishment or quenching of thirst, so the pleasures of this world and spiritual candy are only broken cisterns and can bring us no true aid, no true quenching of the deep thirst of our souls.

God's design for us is to abide in Him (John 15), to delight in His Word (Psalm 1), to commune with Him in prayer throughout every day (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and to fellowship with other believers (Acts 2:42). This is true nourishment. This is how our souls will thrive!

Friday, May 30, 2008

What Is a Healthy Diet?

Have you ever read the book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russell? If you haven't, put it on your booklist soon! It's so good! Here is the book summed up in just a few sentences:

The Three Principles

Principle 1:
Eat only substances God created for food. Avoid what is not designed for food.

Principle 2:
As much as possible, eat foods as they were created - before they are changed or converted into something humans think might be better.

Principle 3:
Avoid food addictions. Don't let any food or drink become your god.

This looks simple, but it is extremely profound. Just mull it over for a few minutes, then begin thinking of how you can begin implementing it into your life in little ways.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Are You Healthy? (Part 1)

You may not have an obvious sickness right now, but are you really healthy? Here's how the Webster's 1828 dictionary defines being healthy -

"HEALTH''Y, a. Being in a sound state; enjoying health; hale; sound; as a healthy body or constitution. 1. Conducive to health; wholesome; salubrious; as a healthy exercise; a healthy climate; healthy recreations."

I think sometimes that even though I do not have any particular obvious sickness or disease, I am not necessarily as healthy according to this definition as I could be. I am not really in shape or physically fit. Lemuel's mother could not have pointed me out to her son as a girl who "girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms" (Prov. 31:17).

After some thought on the matter, I think that there are basically seven essential ingredients to a truly healthful life.

A Healthy Diet - Out of the seven deadly sins, the one we tend to think about the least is gluttony. It’s like a bad word. It offends us. It steps on our toes. Yet the Lord used it twice in His Word, as well as phrases like being “overcharged with surfeiting” (Lk. 21:34) and having one’s belly for an idol (Phil. 3:19). And every time, it is associated with a heart that loves pleasure and self-indulgence more than it loves the Lord. Ouch!

How is this true? God’s Word tells us that our bodies are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psa. 139:14). In addition, we are temples of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, are to glorify Him in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20). As a matter of fact, we are to glorify Him in everything we do, but specifically in our mealtimes (1 Cor. 10:31)!

It is said that Jonathan Edwards, that great theologian whose preaching God used to spark the Great Awakening, often pushed himself away from the table early. What if we practiced this habit? What self-discipline such a practice would instill!

But what do we so often choose instead? I, for one, am more likely to take an extra cookie, or a second helping. My dad just so happens to be a Baptist preacher, so we get to hear a lot of food-related Baptist jokes. Like the time when the kids' class at school was studying religion and each student was to bring some special item and explain its significance. Kind of like a "Show-and-Tell." Well, the first little boy brought a rosary and said, "I am a Catholic, and the rosary is special in my religion." Then the little girl brought a star of David and said, "I am a Jew, and the Star of David is special to my religion." Finally a little boy brought a casserole and said, "I am a Baptist, and the casserole is special to my religion."

That's funny, and we can laugh. But is that really what we want to be known for? Is not that gluttony - the worship of food? Even if we don't overeat, we can worship food in other ways. Is there some food that you cannot go without for more than a few days? Maybe it's ice cream, pop, chocolate, coffee, or anything else. A Christian is to have no addiction other than Jesus Christ.

Or what about eating unhealthy foods just because they taste good, even if we know they are harmful to our bodies and therefore perhaps cutting short our lives and abilities to serve God? What if we know that so much sugar and white flour is bad for us, but we just can't say no? What if we know that drinking so much pop is corroding our organs, but we just have to have it? What if our taste buds don't really enjoy water, whole-grains, fruits, and veggies, so we just don't take them? Is this not also idolatry?

Food is a means to an end. And that end is the glory of God. When eating food begins to interfere with our ability to bring Him glory, something needs to change.