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Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, with Elyse FitzpatrickThe Thankfulness Diet

Leslie Basham: Here’s Elyse Fitzpatrick with a question that can help us figure out whether we are addicted to a certain kind of food.

Elyse Fitzpatrick: Is this something that I have to have every day? I don’t want to be the kind of person that says, “I have to have this food.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 9. Nancy is continuing the series, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’ve been so thankful for my friend Elyse Fitzpatrick who has been willing to come and pour out herself and share out of her life and more importantly out of the Scripture what God has taught her about how to break the bondage of destructive eating habits.

If you have not been able to hear the entire series, I want to encourage you to order it: for you, for others that you know and love, members of your family who may be struggling with this. And I want to encourage you to order her book, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. So Elyse, thank you for writing the book. Thank you for helping us know how we can glorify God with our eating and drinking and everything we do.

Elyse: Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy: You’ve been such a blessing. One of the things I most appreciate in this book is a series of questions that you provide for disciplined eating. You take the acrostic, the word disciplined and eating, and you give us twelve questions that we can ask to determine whether our eating is sinful or not.

I do have a concern that some who listen to this series, who maybe have an overly sensitive conscience may think, “Oh, I just shouldn’t eat.” They may become obsessed with not eating rather than realizing the freedom and balance that God gives to us. So these questions I thought were so helpful. You have them listed in the appendix, and then you have a whole chapter where you talk through them.

Elyse provides a list of questions with a Scripture to go with each one that is helpful for us to memorize, to meditate on as you let the Lord sanctify your life in this area. But let’s start just by talking through those questions and maybe you expand for us on what some of those mean. For example the first “D” is the word “Doubt.” Each letter has one word that you can hang that question on. Do I doubt, for whatever reason, that I can eat this food without sinning?

Elyse: That’s a question that is not easily answered unless we have really done some thinking. But generally speaking, I think that for us we sometimes think, “Oh, if I eat a cookie, that’s a sin.” Of course, the Bible doesn’t tell us that eating a cookie is a sin. But if for me, at that particular time, to eat a cookie, if I think that’s sin, if I am compromising my conscience when I eat a cookie, then I should not eat it. Because Romans 14 says: “He who doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith and whatever is not from faith is sin.” So I don’t want to eat anything that I can’t eat from faith.

Now for those who would have an overly sensitive conscience, we need to begin to ask questions like “What does God say about what I can eat?” So God says that everything is good if it is received with thanksgiving. So I don’t want to be in a position where for me to eat a specific thing one time would be sinful. I want to have a strong conscience but until I get there, I need to be very careful that what I’m doing is in faith.

Nancy: And it may be for you, and this leads to one of the other questions, but to eat that cookie, if this has been a stronghold in your life and you know you won’t eat just one, it will lead you to eat the whole box of cookies. And then you can’t do it in faith.

Elyse: Exactly. If I know that this is going to be a door of fleshly indulgence for me, then I need to not eat it. Why, because it’s sinful to eat it? Not in its essence, but because I know what will happen to me if I do eat it. 

Nancy: That is one of the questions, one of the "I's." If I eat this food, would it create an in-road for sin in my life?

Elyse: Right. So, I need to know what those trigger foods are and stay away from them as long as I can, as long as it is appropriate for me to do so. So if I know, for instance, that I can't eat just one, then I shouldn't eat them. I shouldn't start because it will create a gluttonous habit in my life.

Nancy: Okay here is another question you ask that goes with the "S." Will eating this cause a weaker Christian to stumble? What do you mean by that?

Elyse: If I am with someone that I know that if I eat a hot fudge sundae with her . . . We love to do that kind of thing together with our girlfriends, right? But if she is going to go home and she’s going to overeat because she’s doing that, she’s violating her conscience, then I have to not do that.

I have to also not eat this in front of her, if that makes her think that it is okay for her to do some other thing that would be sinful. Then I need, as Paul says, NOT to put any kind of stumbling block in front of my brother. The Bible says “it’s not good to eat meat or to drink wine,” even though we can do those things, “or to do anything by which your brother stumbles” (see 1 Cor. 8:13).

Nancy: We do not live for ourselves. This is the law of love—not only loving the Lord with all our hearts, but loving others as we love ourselves.

Elyse: Exactly.

Nancy: Here is another question. It is the "C" in disciplined eating. Am I eating this food because I am coveting it?

Elyse: Wall Street, or one of those streets in New York, is filled with people who all they do all day long is try to figure out ways to make us covet something. They are called "marketers."

Nancy: Right. And they’re really good at what they do.

Elyse: Oh, they’re very good at what they do. Have you ever in your life seen a hamburger come out of the window of a drive-through restaurant that looked like the hamburger on your television? I’ve never seen one, but they take pictures of them and they show them to you. And you see again, we’re back to Eve. "She looked at the fruit, and saw that it looked good. It was," the Bible says, "a delight to her eyes" (Gen. 3:6).

How many times have I been in a restaurant, trying to figure out what I was going to eat, and something went by—some food went by. I went, "Oh! I am going to have that!" Now, is it wrong for me to have it? No. I just need to step back a little bit and say, “Was I coveting this? Was this something I’ve been lusting after—thought I had to have because I saw it?” I just want to be aware of that and not give in to it.

Nancy: Here is one that has been really helpful to me. It is so practical. It is the "P" in disciplined eating: Can I eat this food with praise and gratitude?

Elyse: It is difficult for me, personally, to eat with gratitude in my heart, if I know that what my eating means that I am trying to avoid God as my Savior. So it’s hard for me to be thankful and avoid God at the same time, which is why I am really striving to put thankfulness into my eating.

I want to be thankful for what I have, but I don’t want to try to avoid God. So thankfulness—before we eat anything, and why not in the middle of it! Just, "Thank You, Lord, for this wonderful provision You have made." See it depends on how my heart is relating to God.

Nancy: And in that process of thanking Him, we are recognizing our dependence upon Him, our need for Him, that we are not autonomous, that we are not in control, that He is the source of every good and perfect gift, and that we owe everything to Him. That does change the whole way we view food and eating.

Elyse: Right. And it’s the difference again between eating independently, autonomously and eating in God’s presence.

Nancy: How about this one? This is one of the "E’s" in disciplined eating. Does my desire to eat this flow out of any sinful emotions? We have talked some about that, but what are some of those sinful emotions that, at that moment, that might prompt that desire, that craving?

Elyse: Fear or anxiety. “I feel anxious. I’m uncomfortable. I feel anxious. Oh, I know I have this interview coming up I’m going to have to do. I feel very anxious about it. I think I am going to eat some food. It will make me feel better.”

Nancy: Or right after an interview.

Elyse: Exactly.

Nancy: Then I feel like I have worked hard.

Elyse: I deserve this!

Nancy: I deserve this! Now, you know how you can pray for me at the end of today.

Elyse: Being angry. "My whole life is out of my control. I am so unhappy with the way everything is going. I can do one thing, and what I can do is I can eat what I want."

Anger, depression or self-pity, "I have no pleasure in my life. There is no pleasure in my life at all, except in this little food ,and I’m just going to eat it."

Nancy: And the ironic thing is we think it will bring us pleasure. But it really just digs a deeper hole, a deeper pit into those very emotions we were trying to escape.

Elyse: Right. 

Nancy: The last "E" in disciplined eating. Will eating this food enslave me in any way? That is such an important question.

Elyse: See, and that's the question I think that particularly about the way we habitually eat. Is this something that I have to have every day, like caffeine? Again, everybody needs to do what they want to with that. For me, personally, I don’t want to be the kind of person that says, "I have to have this food!"

And let me also say, I come from Southern California where we’re all very much into health food. Am I enslaved to only eating certain kinds of healthy food? Can I eat food that people give me without saying, "Oh, I am sorry. I don't eat that?” See, am I so enslaved that I must have a certain kind of food, prepared a certain way, served a certain way or can I just be thankful for what God puts before me and rejoice in what God has given me without giving myself to it heart and soul?

Nancy: Heart and soul, that really is the issue. "Whatever you do, whether it is to eat, or drink, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:21). I want to encourage you to get this book, to go to our website and get that list of these disciplined eating questions. We’ve just touched on several of them.

They are practical and they will help you know, in the midst of everyday life, "Am I eating in a way that glorifies God or is my eating, at this point, sinful?"

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with Elyse Fitzpatrick. They’ve been talking about Elyse’s book, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. We’ll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for Love to Eat, Hate to Eat when you call with your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Now let’s get back to the conversation between Elyse Fitzpatrick and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. First, we’ll hear from one of the women who has been listening to this series along with us.

Dorothy: I want to share my experience. As you say, this is a process. At one time I lost fifty pounds. I did it through prayer and deciding that if I thank the Lord, anything I can honestly thank the Lord for, then I was free to eat it, and that He would give me a conscience not to.

I also have another little thing that helped me and that was this: We live in our memories and my biggest thought of temptation—we had a restaurant that had caramel rolls, hot caramel rolls. This big! Huge!

I always thought that as absolutely wonderful. I would think about what they would taste like. And then you go eat one. And takes you four, five, maybe ten minutes to eat it, and all I got left was this same memory.

So when I would crave it, I would just think “savor it in my mouth, how good that tasted.” I was as well off as I was as if I had eaten it because it would have been gone so soon.

Where I am in life right now, I can’t walk like I did and get the exercise that I need, so I tend to eat more. And I feel like, “Well, the Lord is going to show me how to handle that because I need to be content.” I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. So when I am concerned about what I look like, I keep thinking, “Well, this is the temple of God. I don't want to look too terrible.”

So I think like that. It is a matter of will and faith. If you will to do His will, He works in us to will, to do His will. I just have to believe He is going to do that, and so I rest in that.

Nancy: Dorothy, I appreciate what you just said about receiving food with prayer and with thanksgiving. And that reminds me, Elyse, of 1 Timothy 4:4 that you talk about as providing a practical help for when we are faced with temptation. What does that verse say?

Elyse: "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer." I think that verse is really pivotal to our understanding of food.

First of all, we need to be very careful that we recognize that food is good. And I think particularly among younger women who might struggle with anorexia. I have numbers of younger women for whom there are only certain things that they will eat and other kinds of food, particularly meat, is bad, is wrong.

We need to remember that the food that God has given us is good. That doesn't necessarily mean, of course, that we need to eat all of it or that we shouldn't be careful about what we are eating according to our health.

But food is good and it is not to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. And I loved what you said, Dorothy, because that is one of the keys that I have found in my life. If I am about ready to eat something and I can't thank God for it, if I can't say, "Lord, thank You for this food." You know that is not even just thanking God for the food, but it is the quieting of the heart that has to take place before you eat something because a lot of times when we eat, it is just a sort of shovel it in really fast, not really thinking.

Nancy: Mindless eating.

Elyse: Mindless eating. But just take a couple of moments to quiet our hearts before the Lord and be thankful.

Nancy: And prayerful.

Elyse: Recognizing where this food is coming from and that God has been so gracious to us, not only in giving us this food but also in giving us the Bread of Life. So we bring ourselves back to Christ. Even at that moment, I think that that is so helpful just before we eat.

Nancy: It's significant. So many times you read in the Scripture that when Jesus ate or gave others food, He stopped and blessed the food, gave thanks for it.

Even at the Last Supper, the Communion. I mean, He's got other things on His mind, surely. But He’s acknowledging that God is the provider. He's bringing God into His eating and realizing that everything we do on earth, even eating, is supposed to be a picture of a heavenly reality of our communion and fellowship and partaking of food with God, even partaking of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and the Water of Life.

So by receiving our food with prayer and with thanksgiving, we are really illustrating, with our eating, the grander, greater picture of our relationship with Christ.

Elyse: Right. And it is so easy for us to forget that, isn't it? It is so easy for us to think, “Well, this is my food, and I am going to eat it. And, oh yeah, I want to thank God." Instead of saying, "I am sustained moment by moment by His grace and power. I can't even lift this fork unless He gives me the power to do so."

You see, that is what we miss. You see, that is what was going on with Eve in the Garden. Satan's coming over to her and telling her, "You will be like God. You will be autonomous. You won't have to submit to these foolish rules. You will be in control." (see Gen. 3:5)

I think that is what happens with our eating a lot of the times. “I'm in control, and I'm going to get it my way, and I'm going to have it when I want it.”

Then right at that moment, we have got to stop ourselves and calm our hearts again and say, "God, thank You. Thank You that I just took a breath to be able to thank You. You gave that to me. And now You have given me this food. Help me to enjoy it, to receive it gratefully but not to think that it's something that it's not. 'Man shall not live by bread alone' (Luke 4:4). My true source of life is You, not this.”

Nancy: It is really an issue of control, isn't it? In so many of our lives, whether it's food or relationships or hobbies or our tongue or our attitudes or our moods, so much of our Christian lives come back to, "Am I willing to surrender control to Jesus as Lord?" And I know that many of us, particularly as women, need to let the Lord control this very basic area of what and how and when we eat.

Elyse, you have been so gracious in giving of yourself to not only write this book, but to share with us here at Revive Our Hearts. I want to ask if you would be willing to just pray for us right now. Pray for me. I’ve shared that this is a process that God has me in of transformation and being conformed in His image. Pray for those of us in this room, our listeners, that God would really be Lord in our lives. So Elyse, if you would just pray for us and ask the Lord to make that a reality in our lives, I would be so grateful.

Elyse: Thank You. Father in Heaven, how thankful we are, that You are our Father. That we do not face the difficulties of our lives on our own or in our own strength. Thank You that You are our Father.

We thank You also for the gift of Your Son, who perfectly passed the test about eating; who said to His enemy, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

Lord Jesus, thank You that the perfection that You attained is ours in You. Thank You for perfect righteousness and thank You also, Lord, for bearing in Your body God's wrath for our sinful eating. Thank You that You refused the gall. You refused and didn't have available to You food and drink that would help You. And that You did these things for us so that You could purchase for Yourself a bride.

Lord, help us live in light of that. Please, help us as we face our besetting sins—the way that we eat, the way we think about food, the way we think about our body, please help us to focus our hearts and minds on Your cross, on what You have done for us, and on the great grace that is available to us through the Holy Spirit.

I do pray for Nancy and for all the women that are listening today, and for myself, Lord, that You would please help us to eat and drink for Your glory; that Your Son would be glorified and that our hearts would be filled with joy. We pray in Christ's name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and our guest, Elyse Fitzpatrick, have been challenging you to surrender your eating habits to God’s control. They’ll pick up again tomorrow. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to air the complete conversation this week, so when you get a copy of the series on three CD’s you’ll hear quite a bit more material. To get a copy, visit ReviveOurHearts.com and look for the series Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, or call 1-800-569-5959.

You have an opportunity to see Nancy and Elyse in person, along with many other women sharing practical wisdom from their lives. Nancy’s here to tell you more.

Nancy: When women join together, powerful things can happen. You’ll have a chance to discover that this fall at the True Woman ’12 Conference. The theme for the conference is “Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening.” I’m so excited about this opportunity for thousands of women to come together to seek the Lord.

We’ll be asking Him to transform our lives, our homes, our churches, and this nation through His power. At the True Woman ’12 Conference, you’ll be hearing from speakers like today’s guest, Elyse Fitzpatrick, along with other friends: Joni Eareckson Tada, Priscilla Shirer, Janet Parshall, and Mary Kassian. Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today will be co-hosting with me and Keith and Kristyn Getty once again will be leading us in worship.

Now, maybe you’re like a friend of mine who said to me recently, “I just don’t like going to big conferences.” Well, I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t either. It’s easy for me to feel kind of lost in the crowd and not to know how to find my way around, and you have think of what to do to get things to be gone for that long.

But let me just say, I’m confident that if you make plans to be at True Woman ’12, you will not regret it. I hope that you’ll be a part of what may prove to be a historic gathering on September 20-22 in Indianapolis. To get more details about group discounts, about early bird registration, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Well, all week we have talked about food and God’s glory. Tomorrow, Elyse Fitzpatrick will continue the practical discussion including helpful insight on eating disorders. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

Topics: Food

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