God’s Will For Me?
Many Christians probably wrestle with this question more than any other. We want to know God’s will for our life, as we do desire to honor Him with this flash of vapor that is our life. Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” was emblazoned into the psyche of my generation of Christians. It has led us to be quite concerned with works of charity and mercy, gave rise to the “young, reformed, and restless” movement; for which we should thank God.
However, it brings with it some important considerations. When we look at what our lives could be for the Lord, we often forget to remember what our lives are for the Lord, right now. Singles often want to know how to discern who they should marry; young adult Christians want to know what college to attend, what career to pursue, and an endless string of “what ifs” and “what abouts.” Our desire to seek God’s will for our future is an attempt to acknowledge and obey the sovereignty of our God.
Sovereignty is Central
We know God has good works prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10), so we want to try to position ourselves to know what those good works are and get going on them already. However, it is of vital importance to remember that God is not simply sovereign over our future, but He is the Sovereign of our circumstance. Where and when you were born, the parents (or guardians) who raised you, the town (or towns) you grew up in, the church you attended, the siblings you had, the job your dad had, the activities your parents signed you up for, the first job you had, the friends you made, the opportunities that came your way, the instruments you learned, the movies you watched. ALL of these circumstances were overseen, ordained, and providentially stewarded by God to bring you right to the place you are sitting right now.
We sometimes wonder, “How did I get into this job, marry this person, end up in this situation?” It is all Sovereignty… through all the twists and turns of your life, God has been the unseen hand directing your path and circumstances. For instance, in seeking a spouse, remember that God doesn’t line up the several billion eligible mates of the opposite sex and say, “good luck finding My sovereign will for you.” Instead, He puts you in a church and community with a relatively small number of godly possible mates. You may wonder why your first job was stocking a battery and film warehouse (my first job); but by God’s determination those circumstances were for my good and His glory.
My present circumstances are not a matter for me to “pray away.” Rather, they are hand-selected by my loving Father to more fully conform me to His image. This is why the present day gender-bending confusion is so saddening. It is primarily an assault on placing our faith in God’s wisdom in ordaining our circumstance. My gender was lovingly chosen by my sovereign Father, that I might honor and glorify Him through all the challenges, temptations, and trials that come with being a fallen man in a fallen world.
The Only Sense for Our Circumstances
Indeed, it is this child-like trust that allows us to view the present sufferings with joy (Rom. 8:18). I am where I am now, with all the challenges, pleasures, quirks, blessings and trials because God has seen fit to tell my story this way. Now, this isn’t fatalism: whatever will be will be. Rather, it is a trust that God is indeed the great Purpose and “Purposer” behind this whole story of human history. The people I’ve met, the challenges I’ve faced, the books I’ve read, the seemingly inexplicable moments of my life, and even the sins I’ve committed have not thwarted His purpose.
Indeed, as a Christian, born again by the Spirit, the only way for me to look forward in seeking to honor God with my future, is to look back at how faithfully He has led me thus far. So then, my present circumstances only make sense when I trust that God has brought me thus far. Not only that, but it helps clear up that nagging question we began with, “What is God’s will for my life?” Looking at the “right now” as circumstances that God has ordained for me, and which He intends to use to His glory and my good helps clarify for me what to do next. Namely, I’m called to trust Him as I go about living according to His Word and His ways, knowing that He has promised wisdom for every decision. He invites us to seek first Him and His kingdom, and to trust that all the essentials will be taken care of.
Passive fatalism, which resigns itself to the grinding gears of the forces of the universe, and arrogant self-destiny, which attempts to chart its own course with no need for the Almighty, are mistakes which will lead to despair. Only faith in God and His past faithfulness, will help us understand the present and therefore gives us wisdom for “what’s next”? I’m here, not there. Thus, away we go…to do His will.
When We Might Feel Discouraged
Christian, do not grow discouraged. It may seem as if the Church is beset on all sides by earthly foes and hellish fiends. Schisms and heresies abound. The seeds of mushy thinking and sloppy feelings have brought us a harvest of evangelical apathy, theological anemia, and liturgical cravenness. Many have lost their confidence in the efficacy of the Gospel, largely because we have been deceived into thinking that the Gospel’s only purpose is behavior modification or a topic for theological hair splitting.
The seeds of mushy thinking and sloppy feelings have brought us a harvest of evangelical apathy, theological anemia, and liturgical cravenness.My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus brings better news than simply “correcting our bad behavior.” This Gospel we preach is white hot with the blazing glory of resurrecting power. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). It is not merely a slap on the wrist to get us to stop chewing our nails. The Gospel is accompanied by the regenerating power of the Spirit, which makes dead souls live.
Two Errors in Understanding the Gospel’s Effect
Slapping the wrist of a corpse will only cause the corpse to more quickly crumble into the decaying dust of its existence. But this Gospel brings new birth. It makes that dead man live, truly live. This does indeed change his behavior because he was once dead, but now is alive. So, we must not make the mistake of thinking the Gospel is only about following Jesus’ example, this is the mistake of liberal theologians. But we must not make the mistake in the opposite direction that the Gospel’s effect is found only in some technical relationship to God.
The Gospel of Christ’s electing grace in saving sinners is not akin to a Google algorithm which makes sure I get on God’s good list, and so glad that’s all sorted! Rather, His redeeming work in saving His chosen ones means that we are united to His life and righteousness. This means a wellspring of the most variegated glories of Christ’s perfections and virtues are born anew in the sinner-made-a-saint.
To the Furthest Shore
But one other sinful assumption many evangelicals of our generation are making–and these are the young, reformed, and restless types–is an assumption that is based on the individualistic sensibilities of the Enlightenment era. Yes, God saves individual sinners. But this Gospel which we preach is more powerful than the saving of individuals. It is a leaven which is working its way through individuals into families into cities into nations. The Gospel, though at times it seems shrouded by the surrounding darkness, is a torch which will bring confusion to God’s enemies at the shout of our true Gideon–Jesus Christ.
When it breaks forth in all its resplendent glory of Spirit-born revival its effects will not be the mere redemption of individuals. As the fire of God’s grace lights upon the kindling of dead hearts, families, and cultures, it cannot but bring new life. It is a fire that destroys that it might make new. Kings and their kingdoms will stream to the city of our God (Ps. 68:29), all the nations will worship Him (Is. 2:2 & Ps. 86:9), and those walking in darkness will see a great light and as Isaiah foresaw: “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (Is. 60:2).” This flood of fire with which God has poured out upon the earth, will wash through the whole earth and the Gentile nations shall come into Jerusalem to be nourished by the river of peace (Is. 66:12).
Make no mistake, the Gospel burns brightest when it seems the Church is at her darkest. It is her hope and her sword. The Church is not a victim of her circumstance, she is fair and terrible as an army sent out to conquest. She laughs at danger. She fears no darkness. This is so because the Gospel is not only effective in saving us for eternity, but the Gospel will conquer in history as well. The nations will rejoice in God, in history. We are not inviting the peoples of the nations to join our secret club of 42 people. We are proclaiming a Gospel that Christ has bought this world with His most precious blood and call upon all people, everywhere to repent of their rebellion, and be welcomed into the City of the True Jerusalem.
Repentance is not just for individuals, it is for city councils, family gatherings, federal governments, and continents.Repentance is not just for individuals, it is for city councils, family gatherings, federal governments, and continents. Africa, Asia, North & South America, Oceania, Europe, and Antarctica are Christ’s. Chicago, Weld County Colorado, Tokyo, Jamaica, Lesotho, Mosul, Saskatchewan, Amsterdam’s Red Light District, are all lay within the wide-extent of the domains of Christ’s Kingdom. We are to call them to baptize them into His covenant and to “obey all He has commanded” (Mt. 28:18-20). “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9).”
Broadening Our Scope
Lift the smallness of our vision.Perhaps the reason for the ineptitude and impotence of our modern evangelism is that our scope of the Gospel’s extent and influence is so darn small. We want it to be a moral slap on the wrist or an entry in God’s rosters. When in fact, the Gospel is the good news that Christ is King of this planet, and we are to expect the nations to be redeemed as we faithfully preach His living Word as the Spirit pours out effusions of saving grace upon individuals, families and nations. His Kingdom shall know no end. So perhaps our confidence in the Gospel’s power should not be so constrained. It is far more potent than we could ever imagine. As one hymnodist once said, “Lift the smallness of our vision.”
There was, what we might call, a little hubbub in response to my recent post, The Soggy Reasoning of Crunchy Mamas. If you didn’t catch it, it might be best to read that first before moving on to these points, but hopefully the following will stand alone. We shall see. The comments and feedback I received were, on the whole, gracious, but many asked for follow up and clarification. As I think that would be helpful to the discussion, here goes.
- Above all, we must be biblically minded. We are seeking to shape our families, churches and communities in a way that glorifies God and is clearly Christian. Therefore, when it comes to food we know that the underlying principle is that we should eat to the glory of God. Paul, in addressing the controversy in Corinth, regarding meat sacrificed to idols, gave us a principle which I believe may be applied here,”Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1Co 10:31).” Our end goal is to glorify God. I would assume that my Christian readers would agree with me here. We’re on the same page, same team.
- Paul gave this warning in Philippians 3:18-19 “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” We might think this is addressing the gluttonous pagan orgies and feasts; however, given the context (Phi. 3:1-6), it seems plain to me that Paul is actually concerned here with Judaizers dragging Gentile believers in Philippi into the trap of thinking that if you really want to be considered God’s people you need to eat in a Kosher way. In our modern lingo, this “judaizing” might be phrased more along these lines, “Because we are to be good stewards of our bodies, we really need to be careful that we aren’t putting poison inside of us, and thus dishonor God.” Notice that it frames food considerations in a way which could stumble some souls into believing that in order to truly honor God they need to eat in the gluten-free, GMO-free, free range, all-organic, naturopathic way. It is this “judaizing” temptation which I see as a greater temptation for conservative Christians.
- Which leads me to this third point, in my experience, in the Christian circles I run in, obesity, “junk” food, and binge eating are in the minority. Precisely because of Paul’s admonition that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), and the prohibition against gluttony (Pro. 23:2), Christians generally (again, in my observation and experience) are not as likely to be obese or given to “junk” food. They are prone to create a New Covenant version of the Pharisees’ food codes. This is what my Crunchy Mama post set out to address. Let me use a different issue. Say I wrote a post someday (which I probably will) about the dangers of an “intelligentsia” in Christian circles; I might point out how academic study of God’s Word can become a form of idolatry. In response to this, some might complain “why didn’t you address doctrinal illiteracy, don’t you know some people don’t even read their Bibles at all?” In addressing one problem–in this case Crunchy Mama evangelism–I am not negligent of the fact that there are certainly problems in our society that have resulted from “junk” food (i.e. obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.). As Christians, we need to have our “pet-sins” exposed; in this case it comes in the guise of health food fads.
- We must resist the asceticist and gnostic temptation to put the sin in the stuff. Sin isn’t in the Microwave dinners; maybe not even cancer. The industrial revolution brought us an age of convenience, and around the 1950s there was a temptation to view “pre-made meals” as what “responsible” homemakers did for their family; this sort of pressure and food-imperialism was also wrong. I believe we are in the midst of a pendulum swing in reaction to our mothers’ and grandmothers’ approach to homemaking. This is why we see an overemphasis on all the food snobbery, and this is especially directed towards “pre-made meals.” In Crunchy Mamas’ crusade against processed food, there is a real tendency to overhype the “toxicity” of refined sugars, artificial flavorings, etc.
However, with all food choices we have to ask what we are comparing it to. Microwave meals perhaps aren’t the ideal as a general rule for Christian mealtimes (see point 6). However, take for instance, a single person with some form of physical handicap or impairment (i.e. a missing arm or paralysis), who may not have much money and few friends or family. In this case, microwave meals should be seen as (for the most part) a blessing. There is no sin here. It is really incredible that we live in an age where food of some form is available in greater abundance than at any time in history. Microwave meals, processed foods, artificial flavorings are in this sense a real blessing. Are there perhaps “bugs” that need to be worked out (i.e. carcinogens in some of the artificial ingredients)? Sure. This shouldn’t prohibit us from exploring how to use the materials God has filled this world with to bring sustenance and nourishment to each person. As this article wonderfully illustrates, with the right data points ANYTHING (even “organically” grown broccoli) can be made into a cancer-causing freak-food to be avoided at all cost.
- The emphasis should be on the meal rather than the food.Now for some principles that I believe should guide how Christian families should, as a general practice, approach food & mealtimes. First of all, the emphasis should be on the meal rather than the food. “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife (Pro 17:1).” And: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith (Pro 15:17).” Notice that the wisdom taught to us here, which is intended to preserve our life (Pr. 2:11), emphasizes the gathering together in peace, love, and joy as being of greater importance than what is on the table. Better a microwave dinner with cheerful peace and loving fellowship, than a plate of paleo with a side of smugness, strife, bitterness, fear, and insecurity salad. We want feasts, not foibles, at the dinner table.We want feasts, not foibles, at the dinner table.
- If possible, a Christian family should take the husband’s hard earned cash, buy various groceries, and the wife (as the keeper of the home) should oversee the transformation of those raw ingredients into a marvelous creation of scrumptious dishes. She is to beautify the simple ingredients, and turn them into something else entirely. This is her calling. Make whatever she will, but make it glorious. While a factory worker could do the same thing, we should lean towards how God has uniquely gifted women with beautifying things. She takes wheat, oil, yeast, sugar, and water and makes a loaf of bread. She takes egg whites, confectioners sugar, vanilla flavoring (real or artificial), and turns it into a meringue to end the feast with. Not every family or person will be able to do this, but this is what we should aim for.
Though some commenters on my original post seemed to think I was advocating for processed food only (see point 3), ironically, our family eats what is probably considered healthy. My wife wonderfully makes most of our meals from scratch. But we also usually have some Doritos in the pantry, Dr. Pepper is most likely in the fridge, and ice cream in the freezer. We don’t lose sleep over whether our tomatoes have pesticides on them; or what level of toxicity is in our pantry. I just planted my first attempt at a garden. There are busy days when it is a blessing to enjoy the convenience of a frozen, store-bought lasagna. We receive the garden-fresh vegetables (which I hope to harvest later this year), AND the factory processed meal with gratitude. That frozen meal is someone’s livelihood and the way in which they are putting food on the table for their family. If I am to be a thoroughgoing Christian in all of life, I must give thanks for this, and scarf it down with nary a thought about how this could affect my gut health.
- Eternal life is not found in temporal meals (whether that meal is a hot-pocket or an all-organic, homemade soup). The goal of earthly bread is to remind us of that heavenly bread which came down from the Father (John 6:49-50). We were made to eat, and in fact, eating was part of God’s first instructions to man (Gen. 1:29). However, earthly food will never bring the eternal life which only God’s Spirit can impart. My primary concern with the food-fussing of Crunchy Mamas is that there is a distinct sub-culture in the organic, health food world and it is largely driven by secular-minded folks (i.e. the hippie sort, yoga-pant moms, metrosexual urbanites). These godless groups are searching for ethical purpose and many are turning to food codes to satiate that desire, as these two articles show (The New Religion & Purity Through Food).
So, when I see Christian women jumping on the bandwagon of certain food fads, largely propagated by godless subcultures I want to give a caution. For many of these women, it is almost inevitable that they will not stop with just that food fad. What starts as “eating healthy” moves on from “discovery” to so-called “discovery”, and leads them to spend money on expensive supplements, superfoods, and to shop at allegedly “all-organic” markets. To illustrate, Celiacs disease is a real thing, and doctors prescribe avoiding gluten for those who have been diagnosed. This, I think, has given rise to the perception that gluten-free is a wise health choice for the broader populace, even though “there is no evidence to suggest that following a gluten-free diet has any significant benefits in the general population.” But sadly, we hear stories like this one, of this couple which self-diagnosed their infant as dairy-free and gluten intolerant, and so they kept it on a quinoa-milk diet; it passed away from malnutrition. This is clearly an intolerable way of life for Christians to maintain. We are to trust that this body withers away despite what sort of food we eat to sustain this fragile thing we call life. It is only the Gospel which can impart eternal life, no food code.
- Pleasure & enjoyment should be the overarching atmosphere. Are there big, noisy “mmm–mmm–mmm’s” around the table? Does the family push back from the table rub their bellies and sigh, “Oh that was good!” That is a sign that things are going well. Furthermore, thankfulness sanctifies food, as Paul declares in 1 Timothy 4:4-5: “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Our family mealtimes should be practice for the wedding feast of the Lamb. There only joy will be found, no food-fussing.
We should be care-free when it comes to what food is on the table.Which is why we should be, in large part, care-free when it comes to what food is on the table. Of course, we should be mindful about what we eat, but not anxious. You could eat only marshmallows or only kale. Neither is sinful. However, the hedonist who eats only sweets will face the consequences of his marshmallow diet, and the ascetic who eats only kale will face the consequences. We should be cautious of the temptations found in both food-Hedonism and food-Judaism.
- Do not push against technological developments as intrinsically evil. The big food companies have made some mistakes, and our bodies perhaps suffer as a result of these errors. That said, as Christians we should push harder for exploring the marvelous ways in which the raw materials of earth can be transformed into other things. This is a dominion issue. If you’ve ever eaten bread, beer, cheese, soda, vinegar, etc. you’ve tasted the hard work of centuries of mankind’s endeavor to understand and harness the wonders found in God’s world.
You realize that the choices of farmers in 3000B.C. affect you today? As they learned to cultivate their crops, one of the first things they did was modify the grain. They chose the best stalks and didn’t harvest them for food, but saved them for the next planting season. So, in our day, a scientist studying the genetic structure of a certain crop, can evaluate the best components for growing healthier crops more quickly and more abundantly than at any other point in history. That is remarkable! God intended us to get our hands into the ground, and to learn to subdue this creation. He intended for us to order it, cultivate it, and tame it.
- Finally, all things belong to God, and were created by Him and for Him. Every artificial flavoring that the big food factories mix into processed foods exists in God’s World. Garden fresh green beans and Velveeta Cheese are both made with molecules God made, owns, and exerts His sovereign sway over. God has seen fit to fill us with a drive to discover and explore. That drive has brought us to an age where you can have oranges anytime of the year, factories can mass-produce bread that rivals Grandma’s best recipe, scientists are trying their hand at art and creating pink pineapples, and many other marvelous instances of mankind taking dominion of this planet. All this discovery should not displace the glory of a family meal, provided and prepared with love by mom and dad, but should augment the wonderful blessings God has filled this world with.
That’s probably more than enough for now. So, to riff on a pun: call me a health food fad skeptic; just don’t call me late for dinner.
In a day and age where “mental illness” is being medicated more and more frequently, and thus leaving Christians with the idea that counseling is best left to professionals, Jay Adams’ book is like a glass of ice cold lemonade on a summer day, for those of us who have been insisting that the Bible should dictate and govern our approach to counseling. He advocates for, what he terms, a nouthetic approach to counseling. He derives this term from Scripture, as he states, “My method is presuppositional. I avowedly accept the inerrant Bible as the Standard of all faith and practice.”
From this position of submission to God’s Word, he has derived the term nouthetic (coming from the greek noun and verb nouthesis and noutheteo), which in biblical usage has the range of meaning confront, counsel, admonish, even warn. Adams makes the case that Christian counseling, if it is to be faithful to the Bible, must be confrontational. By this he does’t mean argumentative, but that it needs to get to the root of the problem and endeavor to correct the problem quickly. Modern therapists end up with a client/counselor relationship that can go on indefinitely; not that the therapists don’t want to help their clients, but their clients can easily become a revenue stream. This can result not necessarily by a psychiatrist being greedy, but can result from the client feeling like therapy is the only way to treat their illness.
Precisely because we have redefined many sins into simple mental illnesses, we have ceded ground that should have been defended. There is much greater hope to be able to identify the sin that is at the root of depression, anger, bitterness, etc. than to simply try to accommodate a venting of feelings. Shockingly, many Christians are afraid to affirm, as Adams’ does, that sin is really at the heart of every counseling situation. Now it may not be the “counselee’s” sin, per se, but sin is always the issue (either theirs or someone else’s). Thus, it would be unloving to not go after the sin. Further, Adams makes the case that by identifying the sin, we are actually able to get somewhere by simply asking, “What does God’s word command?” This gives actionable steps of obedience, which God promises to bless.
A few of his many examples were overly simplistic, I thought, but overall very interesting, insightful, and useful book for shaping a biblical view of counseling.
One mistake we often make in our prayers, is expecting all the wrong things. We pray for faith and expect a boost of confidence, and instead we meet with a confusing passage that causes us doubt. We pray for patience and peace and expect a calm tranquility of soul to settle upon us as we magnanimously treat others in our life; instead we are presented a bombardment of chaos and crashing of schedules. We pray for joy expecting laughter, and find sorrow instead. We pray for victory over sin and are immediately presented with the meatiest of temptations we’ve yet faced!
One mistake we often make in our prayers, is expecting all the wrong things. It must be clear that our Father in heaven gives good gifts to His children; He is not abusive and “up-to-something.” When we ask for bread, he doesn’t give rocks, He gives bread (Lk. 11:11). Yet, when we see our prayers being answered differently than we expect, this does’t mean that God is failing to meet our request for bread, but that the Holy Spirit is praying and interceding on our behalf and “translating” our prayers. You see, we think we are asking for bread, when we are really asking for gravel. God, in His great love for us, sees fit to look beyond the stuttering and stammering and misguided requests we often make, and by His Spirit transforms our imperfect requests into precisely what He knows we should be asking for. As we mature, we become less likely to ask for our circumstances to change, and rather we ask that we would be changed through the circumstances God’s Providence has sent into our lives.
Thus, we must be more daring in our prayers, and grow in maturity. We must not ask for stuff, when God would have us to seek Him and His kingdom (Mat. 6:33). One entry from Robert Murray M’Cheyne‘s journal exhibits mature praying:
Nov 21 – If nothing else will do to sever me from my sins, Lord, send me such sore and trying calamities as shall awake me from earthly slumbers. It must always be best to be alive to thee whatever be the quickening instrument. I tremble as I write, for oh! on every hand do I see too likely occasions for sore afflictions. –R.M. M’Cheyne (Memoirs)
Notice that his desire to be “severed from his sins” (i.e. sanctification) was converted into prayer not by asking directly for the temptations for sin to be removed, but that God would send “sore and trying calamities” which would “awake [him] from earthly slumbers.” Would you dare to pray as M’Cheyne did, “God send me the sort of trials and temptations which are sure to pry my grip off of worldly trinkets?” Or like David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psa 139:23-24).” All too often we ask for what God might give to us, rather than asking for Him, and that He would bring about the sort of circumstances that will reveal the wiliness of our sinfulness. If nothing else will do to sever me from my sins, Lord, send me such sore and trying calamities as shall awake me from earthly slumbers. R.M. M’Cheyne
Asking that God would expose our sin and proclivities to sin is not a “kill-joy”. Rather, it demonstrates that one loves God and therefore hates sin. When we pray, we must ask according to His will, and His will is our sanctification. Meaning, when we ask for faith, for instance, we are entrusting ourselves to His sovereign decree of what He knows will result in the greatest strengthening of our faith. In many cases, this will look like a peculiar cross to bear or trial to face; which are, of course, incomparable to the glory which will be revealed in us, as a result of the pruning work of these trials and sufferings. As the old hymn well instructs us: “Behind a frowning providence, He hides a gracious smile.”
Let me get straight to the point, your lifestyle of healthy-eating is killing you. You were not made to worship at the altar of food, and the health-food industry has bewitched you. The idol of “healthy-eating” is a cult that particularly ensnares and entices women. This is a false gospel that Christian women are being led away by, and the men in their lives are doing precious little to halt the slide.
You were not made to worship at the altar of food, and the health-food industry has bewitched you. Let me make some generalizations. A crunchy mama often talks about her healthy eating “journey”, or her quest to feed her family with “real” food. She does her shopping at those stores where they don’t have plastic bags, and regularly spends twice as much money on half as much food. She posts about how sugar is as bad as cocaine, the flour in your pantry isn’t really grain, and shares the discoveries of her “research” into how bad MSG & GMO’s are for you and how great she and her family has felt since 86ing them from their diet.
Here’s the rub, your “quest to eat healthy” never ends until you have bought in to an entire “ecosystem” of products. It is interesting to note that many fear Monsanto and big farm lobbyists and their control of our food supply, but neglect the fact that the all-organic industry (and its ilk) is just as eager to sell you on something you may not really need. You are being advertised to, and it is surprising how little resistance is put up by many well-intionioned housewives.
Crunchy Mama’s quest starts as simply eliminating “junk foods” (chips, soda, candy); but it soon turns into buying pesticide-free foods, then a gluten intolerance, followed by GMO-free toothpaste and BPA-free toothbrushes, Himalayan salt lamps to combat EMFs, expensive vitamin supplements, powders, and drinks, and an insistence on grinding your own spelt flour so that you can eat “like they used to.” This devotion to healthy eating will obsess you until it controls every facet of your life. It will also successfully cut you off from Christians who don’t eat like you. In effect, you will have recreated a dietary code that more closely resembles Jewish Pharisaism than it does Christian feasting. You will have erected a barrier to fellowship and liberty that inhibits your enjoyment of God’s good gifts, and stumbles weak consciences.
This soggy reasoning leads many crunchy mamas to forget that pleasure in foods is not evil. Your brain releasing dopamine after biting into a fresh KrispyKreme donut, or munching on a handful of potato chips, or sipping southern sweet tea, a beer, or soda is not a sign that something is going wrong. Rather, God fashioned our tongues to send signals of pleasure to our brains in response to such flavors. Sugar is a gift from God, not a curse from evil corporations. Can gifts be misused? Of course. But the problem, then, isn’t in the gift it is in the heart. Self-control must certainly be advocated for in regards to our eating, but it strikes me that many women who crusade against sugar, flour, etc. want artificial control (i.e. no “bad food” in the house) to take the place of self-control.This soggy reasoning leads to many crunchy mamas to forget that pleasure in foods is not evil.
The other problem I wish to address is your “lifestyle” choice is rarely left unvocalized. Instead it is talked about ad nauseum. Think about the many women who have been lured into the sins of insecurity and envy because you keep prattling on about your health food choices. She is left running through her cupboard, measuring herself against you and finding herself lacking. She becomes convinced that she is not caring for her family as well as you are, and so she begins her own quest to eat “truly” healthy. The tendency here is to think, “I’m grateful I do not eat like other men!” Those with weaker consciences are left to grapple with whether they are doing something wrong, because all the crunchy mama’s told them that you shoudn’t buy bread from the store.
My question is “truly healthy” by what standard and at what cost? MSG has been shown to be harmless. However, that didn’t stop one Christian lady from asking a hostess of a fellowship meal I attended if the chips had MSG in them. The look on the hostess’ face was one I won’t soon forget as she blushed in shame that she hadn’t lived up to this other woman’s dietary standards. She meekly apologized, and the other woman pronounced she would just skip out on the chips. Surely it would have been better if the first woman had simply eaten the chips in gratitude!
Or another woman who wondered aloud whether God even intended us to eat grain, and if He did, He certainly didn’t mean our modern “produced” grain. Now living in the Inland Northwest, we grow enough wheat around here to feed nations. Further, while they “used to” eat stone ground wheat, they also used to hope that they’d have enough food to make it through the winter. We take it for granted that we can get a loaf of bread (made from wheat from around here more than likely) anytime of the year. Surely this is a better arrangement than hoping there’d be enough to last until next year’s harvest!
If you’ve read thus far, well done! I know that many in my readership probably fall on this spectrum of healthy-eating. I don’t wish to offend unnecessarily, but I do hope to jar you enough to help you spot the gluttony that is often found at the heart of healthy-eating. It obsesses over food. It stresses over what “poisonous, cancer causing ingredient” might I accidentally be feeding my family! The focus is often not on glorifying God, enjoying His gifts (such as refined sugar, manufactured wheat, and even MSG), and encouraging Christian hospitality. Ask yourself if perhaps you’ve been suckered into being a willing costumer of the “organic food” industry. Ask if you have been subtly converted to the school of thought which teaches certain foods are “better for you.” Christ is Lord of the earth and history. That means refined sugar wasn’t somehow outside of His foreknowledge and He is now scrambling to figure out which angel leaked the secret directions for processing sugar cane into that (clearly wicked) white powder.
After all, at some point in history, some guy put a rock in his mouth and discovered salt. Does that mean we should eat rocks by the fistful? Nope. It does mean that God has placed us here to discover the many uses of the blessings he’s filled the earth with. Should we use wisdom and self-control? Of course. Should we insist that the sawdust flavored flourless flour is actually “better for you?” Um. Negative. Gut health is not as important as some clever marketer would have you believe. In essence, your smugness in not drinking a 64oz Big Gulp of Mountain Dew will do far more harm to your soul than it will to the body of the fellow who chugs three a day. There is obviously not enough space here to go into all the details of these many issues, and I’m sure this raises many questions, which I will gladly answer in the comment section and, if necessary, in follow up posts. Let the discussion commence…
Ben Zornes’ helpful guide to health food. pic.twitter.com/zenacWLOZv
— Ben Zornes (@benzornes) May 12, 2017
Marvelous on almost all counts. It is quite common in some circles for eschatological preoccupation to take up far too much time, and in other circles to be almost entirely neglected. In the first group, it is often accompanied by what Gentry calls “Newspaper exegesis”; in the other group it is thought that it is a peripheral issue and therefore not discussed so as not to stir up debate.
Gentry does a wonderful job of presenting the postmillennial view as the most consistently biblical view, while interacting with the other schools of eschatological thought (pre- & a-). Now, if “end times” stuff either bores you, or you’ve been burned by “prophetic date-setting” (often found in dispensational camps), Gentry reminds us:
Eschatology is a deeply rooted and intricately involved aspect of Christian theology. It should not be approached in a naïve manner or be given superficial treatment. Consequently, no single passage may be expected to present an entire eschatological system […] Eschatology is woven into the whole fabric of Scripture as the story within.1Gentry, Pg.497
Meaning, we must remember that the Scriptures lead us to look forward to what God has in store. What we believe about what God’s purposes are for history and eternity will affect how we live here and now. Gentry shows how postmillennialism is the only view (of the three primary camps) that has a theology of Gospel-victory in history. He is careful in expositing the applicable texts as well as quoting various voices of all three camps. He is always charitable, but somewhat merciless, especially when the other viewpoints are shown to hold utterly ridiculous and unbiblical views.
This is really a must read for every Christian, as it would be immensely profitable for Christians to understand that the pessimism of amillennialism and premillennialism is afflicting the church in such a way that we are rather impotent in our Gospel proclamation. We must affirm and proclaim the Lordship and Kingship of Christ in history, in recognition of His great redemptive work on Calvary. In my own journey to a postmillennial/preterist eschatological position, this has been terrifically helpful.
I highly commend this to the top of your “to-read” list!
References [ + ]