Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘self discipline’

Confessions of an Ex-Junkie

COCAINE

Q: It’s a white, crystalline powder, and it’s very addictive.  What is it?

A: Sugar.

You’re smiling.  But I was addicted!  I didn’t simply scarf down sugar for dessert:  I used it for stress relief.  I drank sweet tea as a comfort food.  I consumed sugar when I was bored.  Sometimes when I wasn’t stressed, bored or hungry, I ate it for recreation while watching sports or movies on TV.

Four days into a sugar free diet in October, I literally experienced the symptoms of withdrawal: head aches, dizziness, shakiness, trouble controlling my thoughts. I wasn’t desperate for an escape from reality or anything like that; just a Snickers Bar!

I had become careless with my eating habits, and I knew that.  But what I hadn’t realized was how hard the food industry works to augment addiction.  Then I began trying to find foods without some form of refined sugar. (If you actually recall that old song The Impossible Dream, begin humming it now.)

  • You won’t be surprised to learn that most cereals contain a lot of sugar.  But did you know that some popular cereals actually contain three forms of it?  Raisin Nut Bran lists sugar, corn syrup and sugar brown syrup.  In those ever popular Honey Nut Cheerios, three of the five main ingredients are sweeteners.
  • Crackers aren’t sweet, right?  Except that Ritz Crackers list sugar plus high fructose corn syrup among their ingredients. I couldn’t eat most brands of Sea Salt Garden Veggie Crisps: they contained sugar.
  • Pizza may not be healthy, but at least it’s sugar-free, right?  Wrong.  I checked the label for a name brand pizza in the freezer section of my grocery store.  To my astonishment, ingredients included sugar, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup!  In pizza?

The media is buzzing with constant speculation about this growing epidemic of diabetes among Americans of all ages. Duh!  I consulted a columnist who said the real issue is inactivity and sitting around too much.  Maybe, but could it be a problem that while we’re doing all that sitting and reclining, we are dining, munching, snacking, and nibbling on foods containing three or four different kinds of sugar?

When I started getting clean from sugar, I began to realize there are lots of other great tastes in life than just sugary sweet!  I’m learning to appreciate nutty bitterness (coffee,) peppery freshness (cale,) subtle spiciness (cumin,) even edgy blandness (sharp cheese.)  There’s surely a spiritual application here: life can be satisfying even when it’s slightly bitter if I’m motivated by faith rather than sugar! God never set out to be our Sugar Daddy in the sky.

These are just my own personal observations, not the beginnings of a crusade!  It’s a free country and there are already enough frustrated busy-bodies warning us all about the deadly perils of everyday life.  I refuse to go there. But I do want take the Bible seriously: my body is a temple of the Most High God.  Less sugar and more freedom can only be an asset in temple maintenance. All these years later, I’m still learning.  More in a few days.

Lift up the Cross!

Why Silence is Golden

This blog is the 4th in a series on Relationship Rescue.  What are the 10 most important New Testament principles for healthy relationships?

#3: Thou shalt cultivate the discipline of constructive silence.  One of my life verses is Proverbs 25:11.  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  There’s only one way to cultivate powerful, valuable words like that.  You have to edit your thoughts; refuse to say everything that comes into your head; and train yourself to say the right words at the right moment.  But in a world whose slogan is “If it feels good, do it,” many of us have come to believe that it’s important to always say what’s on your mind.  It felt good to Osama Bin Laden, too, until he heard the Navy Seals charging up the stairs!

Here are some deadly phrases to avoid if you want to build healthy, lasting friendships. Couples preparing for marriage or building a family should also steer clear of these words.  On the other hand, if you’d really rather be a bomb thrower, and you enjoy blasting other people out of your life, these phrases are better than C-4.  Toss em and run!

  • “I think it’s time we should clear the air!”  It’s strange how frequently people fall back on this tactic.  What we suppose we’re doing is laying all the puzzle pieces on the table so we can construct a solution.  But what this really means is that I’m tired of carrying toxic ideas in my head and I would rather relieve my stress than protect this relationship.
  • “You don’t want to hear this, but…” If someone doesn’t want to hear your opinion on some aspect of his life, why do you insist on sharing it- especially when you are most likely angry?  Parents sometimes have the right to impose their opinions and beliefs on their children.  But generally speaking, before you can do this to another adult, you need the other person’s permission.
  • “The problem with you is…”  Well, maybe it’s the other person’s problem.  Or maybe it’s just your insecurity.  Never bring up an error or deficiency in someone else’s life unless a) you’re certain you’re correct about this, and b) you have the other adult’s permission to talk about it.  Even then, don’t introduce it with this toxic expression.

Edit your thoughts.  And rely on Paul’s general rule of thumb for godly thoughts and conversations.  It’s found in Philippians 4:8- “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  If you’re tempted to talk about anything other than that with someone you love, let the Holy Spirit sift it carefully before you serve it.  When in doubt, just don’t say it.  Silence is money.

Lift up the Cross!

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