Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Biblical Approach to Food and Beauty

Leslie Basham: Bob Lepine invites you to cultivate a contented heart.

Bob Lepine: Ladies, the path to destruction is the path of discontentedness, the path of dissatisfaction, the path of focusing on what you don’t have, not on what you do have.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, December 7.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s so easy to slip into discontentment. Yesterday, Bob Lepine showed us how serious this issue is and how that, "little" sin of discontentment can lead to huge sins against God. Bob is the cohost of the radio program FamilyLife Today. He was instrumental in the launch of Revive Our Hearts nearly 10 years ago and continues to serve on our advisory board.

Yesterday, we heard the beginning of a message that Bob gave at a recent True Woman conference called, Food, Beauty, and Control: Three Snares Women Face. He’ll get into these practical matters in a few moments, but first we’re going to continue hearing about the destructive nature of discontentment. Let’s join Bob Lepine as he picks up in Philippians chapter 4.

Bob: The book of Philippians is a giant thank-you note. Paul is writing a thank-you note to the church at Philippi that has provided funds for him while he’s in prison. This poor, little church took up at offering and sent money to Paul while he’s in prison so that he can get some of his needs met, and he writes back the letter of Philippians: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,” (1:3).

He writes about how much their fellowship means to him and how grateful he is for the gift. You get to Philippians chapter 4, and he says, "I’m grateful for this gift primarily because I know that this gift, your giving—God’s going to bless your giving. Because you were givers, God’s going to bless you."

In fact, he says, "I’m grateful for the gift, but you need to know, I’ve learned how to be content in whatever circumstance I’m in. I’ve had plenty, and I’ve had nothing. There are times I’ve been hungry, and there are times I’ve had enough to eat. But I’ve learned this secret of being content" (see Philippians 4:10-13) 

You go, “I’d like to learn that secret, Bob. What is that secret?”

The secret of being content, he goes, “I’ve learned to say, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’” (4:13 NKJV).

And you go, “Okay, but I understand the Sunday school answer. The secret of being content is Jesus. Okay, but help me out here.”

Well actually, he’s just been talking about the secret of being content. First of all, before he ever gets to, “I’ve learned the secret of being content,” in Philippians 4:8 and 9 he says, "Here’s what you need to be thinking on. Think on things that are lovely and beautiful, and think on things that are praiseworthy and excellent and commendable. Instead of letting your mind dwell on things that are frustrating, broken, messed up, depressing, and hard to deal with."

Ladies, you want to know the secret of being content? Instead of focusing and dwelling on everything that’s wrong around you, set your mind on the good things you have. That’s a part of the secret of being content.

I remember hearing Elisabeth Elliot talk one time about a man having an ink stain on the pocket of his shirt, and she said, “If you looked at that, this blotch of ink, right there on the pocket of his shirt, here’s the question, ‘How much of that shirt is stained by the ink?’ Maybe one percent. Ninety-nine percent of the shirt is clean and pure, but where does your eye go? Right to the blotch. You almost can’t help but look at it.”

She said that’s the way a lot of women are with their husbands. A lot of husbands are good men with some ink stains, but you just can’t take your eyes off the ink stains.

Part of the secret of being content is to take your eyes off the ink stains and to look instead at what is praiseworthy, excellent, commendable, good, pure. Find those things. Affirm those things in your husband instead of always saying, “When are you going to fix that ink stain?”

Well, I’ve gotten into a different message here. Let me move along. I’m still in Philippians 4. In addition to thinking on the right things, before that, the apostle says, “In everything, through prayer and supplication make your requests known to God,” (verse 6, paraphrase).

A part of the secret of being content is when you have needs, you make your requests known to God. And even before that, he says you should model reasonableness so that everybody can see it. He actually starts the whole passage off by saying, "Finally, rejoice in the Lord" (verse 4). How often? "Always, and again I say, [what?] rejoice."

You want to know the secret of being content?

  • Think on the right things.
  • Make your requests known to God.
  • Model reasonableness in your life. 
  • Send more time rejoicing than you do.

Eve is discontented because the serpent said to her, “There’s that one tree. Don’t you want that? You’re not going to die,” and that source of discontentedness, that covetousness led her into the sin.

What if Satan had come to Eve and said, “Look, here’s this perfectly good, delicious fruit to eat. Did God really say, ‘Don’t eat it’?” That sounds wrong.

And what if Eve had said back to him, “I’m not going to focus on what God’s told us not to do. I’m going to focus on what is true and honorable and pure and lovely, and if I have any need, I’m going to talk to God about it not you. I rejoice at where I am and what God’s given me.”

What if she had done that? You know what? We’d be living in the garden. Ladies, the path to destruction is the path of discontentedness, the path of dissatisfaction, the path of focusing on what you don’t have, not on what you do have.

Nancy: In my own life, I find it so easy to let those little seeds of discontentment take root and then to justify those thoughts and think of it as something that’s not really too significant, but Bob Lepine has been showing us how serious that sin really is. Bob delivered this message at the True Woman Conference in Fort Worth a couple of months ago, and you can order a copy of the entire message at ReviveOurHearts.com

Bob’s challenge on contentment has actually been the setup for his three main points in this message called, Food, Beauty, and Control: Three Snares Women Face. We’re about to move into the first of his three main points. Do you ever wonder why food is such a stronghold for so many people?

Bob: I do a lot of traveling. It’s interesting. Somebody will come to me, and they’ll say, “I’m going to San Francisco next week.” You know what I wind up doing? I say, “When you’re in San Francisco, you have got to eat at,” and then I tell them wherever. It’s all about—it’s like travel and food—there’s something there.

In fact, I don’t know if you do this, but people will come to me and say, “Do you know how to get to so-and-so?” I go, “You go down to the Arby’s and take a right. Go down to the Dairy Queen and take a left.” It’s all food, right?

So men can stumble over this issue of food as well, but stop and think with me for a second. Who’s more likely to have an eating disorder? Men or women? Women by a long shot. Who’s more likely to do emotional eating? Men or women? There aren’t a whole lot of guys I know that are saying, “A pint of Haagen-Dazs will cure this for me,” okay? (Laughter)

Who’s more likely to be obsessed about healthy eating, men or women? Men? How many of you say it’s men? How many say it’s women? Okay, you’re out-voted. I’m sorry, ma’am. I understand. Okay, and there may—look, we’re talking generalities here.

There are some guys for whom healthy eating’s a big deal. There are some guys where emotional eating happens. I’m not saying it never happens. I’m just saying that in general, more women are having the eating disorders, the emotional eating, even the healthy eating.

Now you go, “What’s wrong with healthy eating? It’s a good thing, right?” Well, it can drift into idolatry. When what you eat or what you don’t eat takes on proportions that food was never intended to bear in life, when the importance of food becomes bigger than it ought to become, we’ve got a problem.

There was an article in the New York Times a few months ago about—the article talked about “femivores.” Femivores—the subtitle was—it’s an article about “Chicks with Chickens,” women who are starting their own “back to the earth, organic food, I’m going to raise it myself” “Chicks with Chickens.”

Shannon Hayes wrote a book called Radical Homemakers, a book for tomato-canning feminists. She said, “We’re like the Amish except we drive cars.” That’s how she described it. Look, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with backyard gardens or drinking contraband, raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk. I think that’s fine.

Farm fresh eggs—I’ve had the store bought, and I’ve had the farm fresh. The farm fresh are better eggs. Would you all agree with that? They cost about three times as much, but they taste better.

Pastured beef and free-range chicken and all of that stuff—I don’t have a problem. It costs a little bit more, and it usually tastes better. It’s probably better for you. But I do have a problem when whether it’s been pastured beef or not becomes almost an obsession, when you become so fixated on it. Here’s what I have a problem with. I have a problem with people who suggest to you that there’s a biblical way to eat, and then there’s the unbiblical way to eat.

Sometimes you’ll hear people do this. In fact, I heard a nationally prominent preacher speaking on the fact that we should not eat pork and shellfish because that’s a part the Old Testament diet told you to stay away from—pork and shellfish. Well, what he never talked about was Acts chapter 10 where the apostle Peter is sitting on the roof of a house, and he has a vision of a plate full of ham sandwiches coming down in front of him. God says to him, “Take and eat.”

And he says, “Oh no, Lord, I will not eat what is unclean.”

God says, “Look, if I call it clean, it’s clean. Take and eat” (see Acts 10:9-16). 

Now, God may have set aside certain Old Testament practices for the nation of Israel for whatever purposes, but if you’re telling me that it’s unbiblical to eat a shrimp, then I've got to tell you, I have sinned many times and intend to keep on sinning, alright? I don’t think shrimp is off the list for us.

Now there may be health reasons why you say, “I’m just not going to eat that stuff.” Yeah, I understand that catfish and shrimp are down there, and they’re eating all of the pollution.

I understand that there are hormones that they’re putting into the chickens and all of that, and I go, “Okay, it’s not unwise to be aware of these things.” But it can become an obsession, ladies, that is a controlling, idolatrous obsession in your life. When it does, here’s the thing: It takes your focus off the mission of God for your life and puts it on something that’s really not as consequential.

Jesus says, “All of the law and the prophets can be summed up in this: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself” (see Luke 10:27). You can say, “Well, if I’m not eating hormone injected chicken, then I can love my neighbor better or longer.”

I would go, “Look, when loving your neighbor is the controlling issue, we’ll talk about it, but I really think there’s something else controlling this other than I want to love my neighbor longer, okay?” That’s when it’s become an idol, so whether it’s an eating disorder, whether it’s health food eating, whether it’s emotional eating, the issue is really the issue of whether your eyes have been taken off of God and His purposes for your life and whether it’s on something that is less important.

Now quickly, let me just say this: Wise, healthy eating is good stewardship. It’s caring for your temple. By the way, I’ve said to people that I do have a temple, not a synagogue, right? That’s a little larger than a synagogue, but that’s okay. It’s a temple.

Obesity—listen to me—obesity is an issue when it affects your health and your ability to care for others or forcing them to care for you. So there’s an issue with obesity if it interferes with carrying out the mission of God. But what I’m saying is it’s possible for what a lot of women eat or don’t eat to become an idol. I’m going to talk more about that in just a minute.

It’s also possible for your preoccupation with appearance and beauty to become an idol, too. We recently aired a series of radio programs on FamilyLife Today that had Nancy Leigh DeMoss and a woman named Nancy Stafford. Nancy was an actress, still is an actress, but she was on the old TV show Matlock with Andy Griffith.

So Nancy was a Hollywood actress and Nancy Leigh DeMoss and then Sharon Jaynes—the three of them. We talked to them about beauty and why this is an issue for women. I mean, let’s be honest. There are more women who are more focused on their appearance than there are men focused on their appearance. There are some guys who are really focused on their appearance, but in general, it’s more an issue with women than it is for men.

I mean, how much time do most guys spend in the bathroom, right? Getting ready is something I can do in about five minutes. It takes Mary Ann a little bit longer than that.

When we talked with these women about it, they pointed out that there are really two words in the Old Testament for beauty. One word describes the outward appearance, and it says that—here’s what it says about the outward appearance. It says it’s fleeting. It’s vain, and it’s fading. And that’s true, isn’t it? Your beauty, your physical beauty is fleeting. It’s fading, and it’s vain.

The other issue is the issue for inner beauty which is imperishable, and the Bible says inner beauty should be pursued. Outer beauty should not become your focus. It’s not that it’s unimportant, but it’s not eternal.

You see, that’s part of the issue here. What you eat is what keeps your body going, but ultimately, your body’s not eternal. It’s your earth suit. It’s what you need to function. You want to keep it in good operating order, but your body’s not going to last forever. It’s going to wear out, and so whether it’s food or whether it’s beauty, you’re focused on the temporal, not on the eternal.

But I’ll tell you what, in this culture, beauty has become an idol. The cultural view related to beauty is that it’s a huge issue. I was traveling a few weeks ago, and on the airplane, in one of the seatback pockets, I pulled out a copy of People magazine. Now, I don’t normally pick up People magazine, but this particular issue was the issue that had the best and the worst dressed lists.

The thing was, here are these glamorous, good-looking people who spend thousands of dollars to try to look really good because they think that looking really good defines them, gives them worth, makes them valuable. I mean, it gets their picture in People magazine. Many of these people have tragic, sad lives, relationships that don’t last, anger issues, drug dependencies, but boy, they look good!

You see the value system in the culture? And here is a magazine that says these are people. What’s that say about you if you’re not as gussied up as they are? What are you? See, that’s the issue.

Eve was focused on the temporal, not the eternal. Her focus was moved from what God has said is important and good to what she wanted, and that’s when it became problematic.

  • The issue is how much focus or importance do you place on physical appearance?
  • How much are you seeking the approval of others, of men?
  • Is your thinking about your outward appearance shaped more by the culture or by the Bible?
  • What’s in your heart when you focus on your appearance? Is it value connected to your appearance?

God doesn’t look at you and say you’re valuable if you’re pretty. God looks at the inside, the heart. In fact, we know that, right? When Samuel came to David’s family, he said, “God’s pointed out somebody as the king.”

David’s dad, Jesse, says, “Here are all my boys. Which one? Is it one of them?”

Samuel says, “No, it’s not one of them.”

He said, “Well, who’s—what about?” “There’s one kid—the little kid’s out with the shepherd watching the . . .”

Samuel said, “Go get him. Bring him back. That’s the one.”

Jesse says, “Little David? Little David’s the king?”

And what does Samuel say? He says, “People look at the outer appearance. What does God look at? The heart, the heart” (see 1 Samuel 16:1-13) 

One of my life verses, by the way, is 1 Timothy 4:8. It’s the verse that says, “Bodily exercise profiteth little.” I just stop there. I don’t read on. No, I’m just kidding. “Godliness is profitable unto all things” (KJV).

That’s what the verse goes on to say, and really, the truth is, bodily exercise does profit us. It doesn’t say it’s unprofitable. But the pursuit of godliness is what is ultimately profitable. So don’t neglect bodily exercise, but when you make that more important than the cultivation of godliness, you've got things messed up. And I see that happen too much in too many people.

Now, let me just add real quickly, there is one place in the Bible where it talks about physical beauty being important for a woman. You know where it is? It’s in marriage. It’s in the Song of Solomon. There are these passages in the Song of Solomon where the Shulamite woman is commended for making herself beautiful for her husband, where he describes her beauty as being alluring and appealing and attractive.

That’s the place in the Bible where your physical appearance is commended and called to be a good thing. It honors your husband. It is a gift to him when you make yourself beautiful, but let me quickly add this. No amount of physical attractiveness can compensate for a lack of godly character. A beautiful shrew is still a shrew.

By the same token, a plain-looking, un-made-up woman who smiles and radiates the goodness of God from her face is beautiful, is beautiful. See, there is a reflection of beauty that comes out in the life of a woman who is really focused on the things of God.

Nancy: That’s the kind of beauty I want to have. That’s what makes a true woman of God. Bob Lepine gave this message at the True Woman conference in Fort Worth a couple of months ago. His session was called Food, Beauty, and Control: Three Snares Women Face.

Today as we focused on food and physical appearance, what stood out to you? Did God uncover any heart attitudes that you need to take to Him in repentance? I hope you’ll spend some time thinking that through today and giving control of your eating and your physical appearance to God and then listen tomorrow as Bob addresses issues of control. He’ll also give us some wise counsel on how to break the power of idols in your life.

 Leslie: The message Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been telling you about is available at ReviveOurHearts.com. Just look up “Food, Beauty, and Control: Three Snares Women Face” by Bob Lepine. That’s at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Well, today’s program comes to you thanks to listeners who donate to Revive Our Hearts. That is a huge statement. When you give to Revive Our Hearts, you help make it possible for us to reach one more woman in one more community. Nancy, God has a way of connecting Revive our Hearts with the right listeners at the right time.

Nancy: Listeners like Caitlyn who heard Revive Our Hearts recently when we were talking about the value of the marriage covenant. It came at just the right time in her life. She wrote us to say, “Without your broadcast, I would have signed the divorce agreement this week.” It gives me goose bumps to think about what God may be doing in salvaging that marriage.

When you give to Revive Our Hearts, you’re helping us reach one more Caityn, one more woman who desperately needs to hear this message.

I want to let you know that we’re more challenged than ever right now to get that message out. So many listeners have been standing with us even through tough economic times. But some other sources of revenue have fallen significantly, and that means we’re having to make some very tough decisions about ending the broadcast on some radio stations that we just cannot afford.

Typically, in a ministry like ours, about 40% of the funds that we need for the entire year arrive during the month of December. That’s right, 40% of our annual donations. So we’re asking God for a significant amount before the end of this year to fill a budget gap and to help us enter 2011 in a strong position.

Some dear friends of this ministry are aware of these challenges and are doubling each gift this month given by listeners like you up to a matching challenge amount of $300,000. If you’re already partnering with us financially, I want to say thank you so much, and I hope that you’ll consider giving an extra special gift to help us at this time.

If you’ve never donated before, would you ask the Lord what He might have you give? Your investment at this time will help us meet and, Lord willing, far exceed the matching amount. Even more importantly, your contribution will touch the hearts and homes of women in ways that you will never fully know this side of eternity.

So please give us a call today with your donation at 1-800-569-5959, or if you want to make your donation online, you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Tomorrow, join us again to hear Bob Lepine.

Bob: You have to replace the idol with something else, and that something else needs to be God. Leslie: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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