Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Does ordering food really have to be so difficult?

Fast food window server: Hi. Welcome to Dippy Burgers. Can I take your order?

Fast food drive-through customer: Yeah, I'd like a #4 with a low-carb Dippy Burger on organic wheat bread. Can you do the sauce on the side, the kind with no trans-fatty acids? . . .  A non-genetically modified pickle and some fries cooked in olive oil.

Server: Do you want that super-sized?

Customer: Yeah! And a chocolate milkshake with non-bovine growth hormone organic skim milk. That's non-bovine growth hormone organic skim milk!

Server: Will that be all?

Customer: Yeah . . . No! Can you make that sugar-free soymilk in my shake?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, February 6. Tired of one fad diet after another? Stick with us. Nancy’s back with a series we started Friday called, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We're talking this week with Elyse Fitzpatrick. Elyse is a conference speaker; she's an author; she's a biblical counselor. She’s written a number of books, including one called Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety and a newer book on marriage, but the book we’re discussing with Elyse today is one I’ve found particularly helpful called, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.

Those of you who’ve struggled, as I have over many, many years, with a sense of being enslaved to sin, you know what the title of that books means. We’re joined today not only by Elyse, but also some women who have joined us here in the studio to interact and talk about this subject of breaking the bondage of destructive eating habits.

For me, in this area there has been no such thing as overnight victory, overnight transformation. We’d just like some “Bible pill” or something else that would just solve this issue. And you know this struggle with food is as real in my life as, for somebody else, alcohol may be, or sexual addictions. So it's a little harder for people to understand why this could be a sin issue in our lives. There is a fine line there, and we’re going to talk about that.

As you said in the last session, eating is something that is respectable and it’s necessary, and it’s good. There’s nothing wrong with eating, and it’s something we do a lot of in Christian circles

Elyse, thank you so much for being with us and sharing with us at Revive Our Hearts about this very important topic. I want to pick up with what you were saying yesterday about a passage that God used in your own pilgrimage, 2 Peter, chapter 1. In fact, I am going to ask you to read that passage again and then share how God used that passage to encourage you and to start you in the process of dealing with this issue.

Elyse: Right, 2 Peter 1, verses 3-4 reads, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called us to his own glory and excellence by which he has granted to us His precious and very great promises so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire."

This verse was so important to me at the very beginning of what God wanted to do in my heart, particularly in this area, because I was always looking for the magic bullet. I kept hoping that maybe I could take a shot . . . I would take a series of shots or maybe there was just some special verse, some special prayer, some special meeting, something where I could go and have this just taken care of.

I remember when this first really came alive to me, and I realized that I should not be looking for some new magic way, if you will, to handle this issue but that God had already through His Word given me everything that I needed for life and godliness.

I realized that the answer to these problems was to be found in Scripture, and that these promises would help me escape from the corrupt, sinful desires that I had—desires really that were kind of at war with each other.

I had a desire first of all to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. Then, on the other hand, I had the desire to look the way I thought I needed to look, and the desire to be holy. How those things warred in my soul!

Then I was just really taken with the reality that the Bible has the answers for everything that I need for life and godliness. What I needed to do, then, was find out what that was. What were the answers that the Bible had for me?

Nancy: And this passage gives such hope, because it says that God has called everyone of us to His own glory and excellence, that God is in the process of conforming us, if we are His children, to the image of Christ. We are going to be holy; He’s working that in us. So that is very real. It is not only possibility, but it’s really going to happen.

He’s going the win the victory in our lives, in these areas, and we really can be partakers of His divine nature.

Elyse: That’s an astonishing statement, isn’t it, the mere fact that, even though we were created in the image of God, we have fallen. We are now in a position where God can work in us. God does work in His children the divine nature. As you said, we are being changed into the image of Christ.

The other verse that is really very encouraging for me is in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which reads, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man, but God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. But with the temptation he will provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it."

So I take great solace as I struggle with sin and sinful desires in my life that God is faithful to not put me in a position where I have to sin and to always keep me on that path of greater conformity to Jesus Christ. And that is the goal.

You see, we sort of lose that. We think that the goal is size 2. That's not the goal. The goal is the heart change to the image of Christ.

Nancy: He is in the process of transforming us, not necessarily from a size 16 to a size 6, but into the nature of Christ, and a heart that wants to live for His glory and His pleasure. I take encouragement from that verse, Elyse, 1 Corinthians 10, just to know that whether it’s the temptation to eat sinfully or do anything else sinfully, God never puts us into the position where there is no path of escape. There’s no temptation that by His grace and His power, we cannot be victorious over.

Elyse: There is so much hope there. I have even found just so simply in my life that if I am faced with a particular temptation, if I pray, just right then, "Father, please now help me to resist this temptation," the Lord helps me to resist the temptation.

Frequently, the temptation just disappears. The problem, of course, is that I don't remember to do that and I stand there and try to figure out reasons why I ought to be able to go into the bakery or whatever.

I really believe that if we pray, "Lord, keep me from temptation," the Lord will do that. But that means we need to be awake a little bit and be aware of what we are doing.

Nancy: And pray before we get into the temptation.

Elyse: Correct. You don't go into the bakery and then pray, "God help me not to eat this."

Nancy: Now, let me back up a little, Elyse. We’re talking about sinful eating, but let me say that food is not sinful.

Elyse: Oh no! And it's certainly not sinful to buy food from a bakery.

Nancy: Good! In fact, food is really a gift from God, and He has given it to us to be enjoyed and to be received with gratitude.

Elyse: Right. Psalms tells us that "God opens His hand to satisfy the desire of every living thing" (145:16). So, food is not sinful. Eating something from a bakery would not be sinful.

There would be ways in which it might be sinful. It might be sinful for me if it was wrong for me to go in the bakery and I just went in and did it anyway. Then that’s sinful for me to do it.

If I go in and I know that if I eat a cookie I am going to then go home and eat four dozen cookies, then that is a door that I know I shouldn't open. So until the Lord would strengthen my soul against something like that, that’s something I want to avoid. There are times in which eating a brownie or a cookie would be sinful. But it's not sinful in itself.

As you said, God has given us rich, wonderful things to enjoy. We just have to be careful that we don't make gods out of them, that we don't live for them, that we are not consumed by them, that they don't mean more to me than holiness.

For instance, if I go to a restaurant, there is nothing wrong with that. If I order some food, there is nothing wrong with that. But if the waiter doesn't bring the food to me in the way that I ordered it and I am unkind, then there is something wrong. And I can tell, by the fruit that flows from my heart, when I’m interacting about some meal . . .

Nancy:  . . . or if I’m impatient—the food isn’t ready when I want it.

Elyse: Exactly. Or, like you said before, if I am nervous or upset or worried or depressed and I am eating because of that or if I am bored. I think a lot of eating that goes on is just plain boredom eating. I don't have anything to do, so I am going to go eat. Then we have to be asking ourselves questions as Christians, “Why are we bored?” . . . those kinds of questions.

Nancy: So much of this really takes us back to that picture in the Garden of Eden where God created this beautiful garden, full of trees with fruit and vegetation, and said, “I’ve given you all the trees of the garden to enjoy. Eat from them.” God’s first command was "Eat, go ahead and enjoy it."

Then God put one restriction, “One thing you can’t eat.” Where did the enemy cause the woman to focus? On the restriction, not on the freedom, not on the enjoyment but on the single restriction.

And where did her heart's desire gravitate? “I don't want the command; I want to be in control. I don't want someone to tell me what I can't eat . . . even though there are all these things I can eat . . .” In saying that she wanted it her way, in resisting God’s right to restrict her freedom, she lost all of her other freedoms.

And now we find from that day to this where we as women, so many of us are in bondage to food, not able to enjoy all the plenty and the good that God has created in His commands to feast before the Lord with joy and with thanksgiving, and missing out on so much of that because we have not allowed Jesus Christ to be the Lord in the things He says we can't do.

Leslie: Here's how you can get a copy of the book Nancy Leigh DeMoss just mentioned. Support Revive Our Hearts with a gift or any size, and we’ll send you Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. Ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959. You can also donate at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. There’s a place on the site to let us know you’d like the book.

Let’s pick up today’s conversation between Elyse Fitzpatrick and Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: Elyse, you’ve been helping us understand that the issue is not so much how much I weigh, what size I wear, even the food I eat, but we’re really going deeper than that, to talk about heart issues. Something you come back to in your writing is that food and eating, and probably a lot of other behaviors in life, are really just a mirror of the heart.

What do you mean when you say that, and how does eating reflect something about my heart?

Elyse: I think that it's very easy for us to think about eating only in terms of what it means externally. “How much do I weigh? Do I look good?” . . . those kinds of issues, or “Am I healthy?” which is certainly a better question than, “Do I look good?”

Instead of asking questions about what it means that, “When I am unhappy with my situation at home, the place I go is to the refrigerator.” That, to me, is a much more salient question. What is that saying about my relationship to God?

You see, if I have a situation, perhaps at home, I'm unhappy with the way the children are doing at school or something, so they finally get off to school. As soon as they are gone, then I go and run to the refrigerator or the coffee pot or whatever it is that I particularly like to do, and that's where I find my solace for the day, then that says something about my heart.

What it is saying about my heart is that that part of the creation, that food, means to me something that it should not mean to me. That when I am struggling with situations in my life, instead of going to the refrigerator or, like some of us do, going to the mall or perhaps even some women just go turn on the television and just “veg out” watching talk shows. What is that saying about my heart? What it's saying is that there are saviors in my life aside from the Lord Jesus Christ.

You see, Jesus Christ is the One who calls to us, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Learn what it is to take my yoke upon you" (Matt. 11:28-29).

Instead of doing that I say, "Okay, I'm going to sit down with this Krispy Kreme donut and a cup of coffee, and that's where I am going to find my comfort.” Now, I don't want to say that there's anything wrong with eating a donut as long as you don't do it all the time.

I think it's probably not good for your health, but there's nothing wrong with doing that or having a cup of coffee or any of those kinds of things, as long as those things are not functioning as a savior in my life, or as a god in my life.

What happens is that whenever we have idolatries in our lives—things that we love more than we love God . . . I like to describe an idol as something that I am willing to commit a sin for in order to obtain it, or something that I am willing to commit a sin for if I don't have it.

If this food is functioning as a god for me, then I think that that is an issue. I think that that's something that I need to look at. That's something that I am appreciating about you, Nancy, because many of the women that I have met are only interested in dealing with the idolatry of food if it means something about how they look.

So they are dealing with one area of their lives, perhaps this idolatry of food, to feed their vanity which is another area of sin.

So the question is not, “Am I overweight or underweight?” Certainly there is a health issue that we need to be careful of because God commands us, "Thou shalt not kill." I think part of what is assumed under that commandment is that I need to take care of my body. This is what God has given me in order to function in this world. But the point is not, “Am I thin, or am I overweight?” There's no biblical command to be thin anyplace in Scripture.

Nancy: There's a cultural command for sure.

Elyse: There is a cultural command that we are enslaved to a lot of times particularly for the girls who would struggle with anorexia and bulimia. That cultural command to be thin is “more important” than God's command not to kill.

So again that's another area where we can see, "All right, I am loving the culture's idea more than I'm loving God.” So I appreciate that about you, Nancy, because you are interested in dealing with the idols of your heart.

Nancy: I don't want you to think that the external things don't matter to me, because they do (more than probably most people would realize). But that's when I also tend to get a window into my heart and say, "How I look does matter more to me in many cases than my relationship with the Lord."

That's why I want to go after this issue in my life. That's why I want to help other women go after it, because I want to love God with all my heart. I want to love others more than I love myself, more than I care about the image of perfection or the things that the culture has told us are important.

Elyse: Right, or what you think about how I look. How important is that? I think women are very driven by, “What do you think about how I look?”

And certainly, in one sense we ought to be presentable, but then how far from that do we go and how driven are we by that?

There are women that I know who if they get up in the morning and their jeans don't fit, it's going to be a bad day. All day long I am going to be beating myself up and focusing on how I look, and looking at other women. It gives rise to all sorts of other things like covetousness, comparison, “Why can’t I look like her?” And then it leads to just giving up in despair and going and eating out of control.

Because it's all driven by that wrong judgment, that idolatry of, “The way that I look really is the most important thing about me and really is the difference of whether or not I am going to have a life that is filled with peace and joy.”

Nancy: So how do I start to deal with those idols of my heart? If I want to love God supremely . . . We're not going to exhaust that subject on this program because we are just about out of time here, but just get us started. If I’m acknowledging that this is an idol of my heart, as a starting place, what is going to help me to transfer my allegiance, my devotion, from food, from external appearances, from image to where I really want it to be and that's Christ. He is Lord; He is sovereign. God is first.

Elyse: Right, and I'm glad that you said that this is a process. This is not something that I am going to say, "Do these four things and then you are going to be fine." But I think it starts off for the believer in recognizing, first of all, that that mindset of living for food and or living for the way you look is sinful. It's not just an issue of, "Oh, I probably ought to not do it." It's sin.

Nancy: It's not just that it's a struggle; it's not just that it frustrates me, it's not just that I feel bad about it. It’s sin.

Elyse: It’s sin. It's sin for which Christ died. To start there and to take yourself to the cross again and to see the importance of, first of all, the sacrifice that He has made and the righteousness that He has granted to you.

And then to seek to live in holiness, not just so that I am not living my life with my head stuck in a box of cereal, which is embarrassing, or not just so that I have the right size so that people will think something of me, but for the glory of God. It's really starting there and making the glory of God and holiness an issue in this discussion.

Nancy: We want to talk about how we move from the one motive to the other—from being motivated by how I look, by how this affects me, to how we can come to have that supreme motive for the glory of God. That's where I want to live. That's where we want to live.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss talking with Elyse Fitzpatrick about maintaining a healthy heart. Nancy will be right back. They’ve been discussing Elyse’s book, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. If you’ve been intrigued by today’s conversation, I hope you’ll follow it up by reading this book. I know that you can experience true change, even if you feel that a craving for food is keeping you in bondage. This book will help.

We’ll send you Love to Eat, Hate to Eat when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for the book when you call us at 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, even if a certain food isn’t wrong for you to enjoy, sometimes it’s good to just say no, just so you won’t be controlled by it. Elyse Fitzpatrick will be back tomorrow to talk about it. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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