Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Week Thirty-Five - Mints and Chips

Beside the Well

            When I was in High School, I became addicted to breath mints.  Now don’t laugh so loudly!  It became a real problem for me!  I found myself unable to stop popping one after another into my mouth. I feared bad breath and rejection from my classmates.  I know now it was an immature fear, but keeping fresh breath seemed like a sure way to keep from losing friends.
            By the time I noticed it as an addition, I was eating three or four packets per day.  Needless to say, they did a destructive job on my teeth!  I knew nothing about addictions, but I knew I needed to break this cycle.  I simply quit buying them.  And that was the end of that.
            A few years ago, I caught myself in another addiction.  We were home on furlough, and I began to love American potato chips – Lays specifically!  I was gaining weight, but not too much, so I accommodated my enjoyment and munched away a bag at a time!  I think it was mostly a release of anxiety, but I had begun to notice I was eating them so fast the chip flakes were flying out the corners of my mouth as a crammed them in.
            One day, while at the home of my in-laws, my brother-in-law also noticed my frenzied eating and made comment.  Immediately, conviction hit my heart. I was shoving down potato chips as fast as I could go with no hesitation or consideration.  Again, I had to stop my obsession.  So, right there I said to myself, “That’s it.  No more potato chips.  Not even one.”  I went cold turkey.  I didn’t eat a single chip for five years.  Now, I can eat a few and enjoy them without becoming a potato-chip maniac!
            While reading Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, The Perfect You,I came across this statement about addictions, “…addictive substances, (cocaine, alcohol, the American diet, cigarettes) [did you catch that?  the American diet?] make a person temporarily feel good and entice the person to use the drug and addictive substance more often.  Yet this enticement is the desire to hide pain; it is not merely because the substance has ‘hijacked’ the brain.  This means the CHOICE to overcome an addiction is the most powerful and effective factor to overcome addictive behaviour.” (P 53)
            And there you have it…the choice is the core.  I chose to eat breath mints to hide the pain of my immature fear of relationships.  I chose to eat potato chips to hide my anxiety.  When I decided to face the source, it was easy to give up the activity. That’s all good!  But then, she went on to qualify a bit more of her statement.
            “We are wired to be addicted to and consumed by God.  Nothing else will satisfy this need to pray continually and set up a constant internal dialogue with the Holy Spirit, so that we stay addicted to Him, offering up our minds and bodies as a living sacrifice every day. (Romans 12:2).”
            Addicted to God?  What a wonderful thing!  She gave a list of verses – Psalm 42:2, 63:1, 73:25, 119:20, Isaiah 26:9, John 4:13-14, 6:35, Revelation 21:6-all of them pointing to our soul’s desire and longing to be with God.
            I thought of the verse in Acts 17:28,  “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”  He is our all in all.
            The day I was saved, the following song became my testimony, and it still is today.

​"Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul" by Lanny Wolfe

The world will try to satisfy that longing in your soul,
You may search the wide world over but you'll be just as before.
You'll never find true satisfaction until you've found the Lord,
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul
And only He can change your heart
And make you whole;
He'll give you peace you never knew
Sweet love and joy and Heaven too,
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

            Isn’t that what we are looking for in addictions?  Satisfaction?  Something that will bring peace to our souls?  I think that desire is God-given.  It is the thing that draws us to Him.
            “Oh, Lord, may You become the thing to which we are obsessed.  May we once and for all settle our minds that You are our heart’s desire.  Only You can satisfy. May we become addicted to You.” 


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Week Thirty-Four - The Life Coach

Beside the Well
            I am amazed at the number of people calling themselves “Life Coach” these days.  What is a life coach?  Google says, “It's a person who helps you process and address issues in your personal life, relationships or profession by examining obstacles and challenges in order to help you determine a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.” 
            In my notion, they used to have a number of other titles: friend, pastor, counselor, teacher, and mom!
            When I was a young girl, my friend, Debbie was a life coach for me. She offered me good advice in a loving and straightforward way.  Sadly, I was too immature to heed her warnings and make the good choices.
            Later, I met a girl named Susie, who showed me what it meant to live for Christ and whetted my appetite for the Lord’s service. She would answer my questions in a loving, instructive way.  She became my hero, and still is today!
            I have another friend named Elaine, who has always been patient and forgiving toward me, even when I put my foot in my mouth or act in some unbecoming way. Though she has never spoken a word to me about my failures, I have learned from my mistakes, and her patience and continued love for me has spoken volumes to my heart.
            I have had grandparents, teachers, and pastors who loved me and spoke truth into my life, without which I would have probably wound up on a more desperate path.
            But my ultimate Life Coach is God!  He knows me through and through.  I don’t have to try to explain myself to Him.  He knows my every word and thought.  He knows the motivation behind my every action.  Through the work of His Spirit and His word, like a good coach, He reminds me, prods me, and directs me into wiser ways.
            One of the grandest things I have learned through my Christian life is that though I have many friends, enjoy their fellowship, and share my struggles with them, my Heavenly Father is the surest and safest one for helping me determine a course of action that will make my life what He wants it to be!  He has my best interest at heart, and I am graven upon His hands.  Since the blood of His Son purchased my life, He has the prerogative of direction.  He is my life coach! 
            Who is yours?
Gail Gritts
Beside the Well

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Week Thirty-Three - A Snippet of Time

Beside the Well

            My mornings most usually start with me sitting in my IKEA chair in the corner of my office with my Bible and reading books around me. Portable desk on my lap and a pair of reading glasses perched on my nose; I grab my pen and journal as I venture into the Word anticipating a message each day.  Sometimes it jumps off the page at me!  At other times, it comes as I move into reading my devotional material.  But no matter the source, those few minutes of quiet reflection, prayer, and feeding are vital to a good day!
            Dr. Caroline Leaf wrote, “Research has shown that five to sixteen minutes a day of focused, meditative capturing of thoughts shifts frontal brain states that are more likely to engage with the world.  Those same five to sixteen minutes of intense, deep thinking activity increased the chances of a happier outlook on life.”  (Switch On Your Brain, page 75)
            I never cease to be amazed at how God’s Word and science match up.  God knows our minds need a break from the frenzy of life.  Jesus, himself, left us the example as He withdrew for prayer and mental refreshment.  God’s Word calls us to time alone with Him, and even human research is proving the value of a good quiet time.
            I know many of you do not have the luxury of a leisurely quiet time. You have to catch the train, drive the commute, and fight the rat race.  But you still need that space for quiet reflection and the feeding of your soul. Maybe it can be while you are on that train, or listening to Christian music and a good podcast while driving, but wherever you catch that space for thought, make sure you do it!  God knows you need it!
            When we fail to focus our thoughts on God and His Word in a measured and focused manner, we provide a target for the enemy.  He will be sure to step in and catch our thoughts and throw us off balance.
            I know many times before I have left my chair, I have asked the Lord to protect my mind and direct my steps for that day.  I know I am vulnerable to Satan’s attacks on my mind.
            Those few minutes are my greatest strategy and securest weapon. It only takes a snippet of time to arm myself, but it can take days to unravel the enemy’s attack.
            Take time to arm yourself today!  Then, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established” Proverbs 16:3.
Gail Gritts
Beside the Well

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Week Thirty-Two - Well, Hit Me Between the Eyes!

Beside the Well
            I decided to go ahead and share with you another thought that hit me between the eyes as I read Switch On Your Brain, by Caroline Leaf.  I was going to try to explain some science here but maybe I’ll be safer to let you read what she said! 
            “After the gathering stage (where we gather up our thoughts), the electromagnetic signals—your thinking and those existing memories that have been brought into consciousness—speed through the hippocampus, moving toward the front of the brain—the basal forebrain and orbitofrontal cortex, which are behind the inside corners of your eyes and above your eyebrows respectively. The information flows through in the hippocampus for twenty-four to forty-eight hours, constantly being amplified each time it cycles to the front.” (Pages 173, 174)
            Okay.  Got that? What you think about comes to the front of your head—right between your eyes!  There the thought process cycles around as you mull it over.  So the Scripture you have memorized and the things you have learned through your Christian life can be gathered up when you need strength.
            Since I’m no scientist, it all seems rather strange, but since I am a Biblicist, it makes better sense. 
            The Israelites wore a thing called a frontlet, a decorative band or ornament worn on the forehead.  They would copy out passages of the law onto strips of parchment or leather and wrap this into the band—literally placing God’s Word between their eyes.  I’ve even seen pictures of these as little boxes hanging just above the eyes from a headband.
            In Deuteronomy 6:5-9, God’s instruction was to keep His word before them at all times.  It was to be at the front of their mind!  Right between their eyes! They were to meditate on it!  To talk about it, teach it, and write it on their house posts and gates.
            Why? Because every time the word was rehearsed through the window of their eyes, through the channel of their ears, and by the physical reminder of the frontlet, they were amplifying the flow of information.  It was being driven deeper into their hearts and would come out in their lives.
            We are no different. What we think about, we become.  That is why healthy thought processes are so vital to a vigorous Christian life.  What we rehearse in our minds, read with our eyes, and listen to with our ears is amplified over and over.  If we allow our mind to just wander aimlessly or keep it on a steady diet of junk that is going to come out in our lives and choices.   If we seek to create a conscious awareness of our thoughts and control them by Scriptural dictates, God’s word promises blessing and stability.
            Sounds to me like we need to be really selective about what we allow our mind to dwell on!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Week Thirty-One - Switch on Your Brain

Beside the Well
            As I closed the book, I had to take time to ponder some of what I had just read.  Switch On Your Brain, by Dr. Caroline Leaf, is a book about how our brains are teachable.  She used loads of science and words I can’t pronounce, but there are enough layman terms that I could get the gist of what she was saying.
            The last portion of her book is her five-step plan for detoxing your brain.  While I’m not much for these step-by-step plans, I found myself meditating and Scripture kept coming to my mind that reaffirmed what I had just read.
            Without going into great detail, her five-step plan is:  Gather, Focused Reflection, Write, Revisit, and Active Reach.  Shame it doesn’t make some sort of memorable anagram!
            She is saying we can re-train our brains to think good thoughts by 1) looking at what we are currently thinking 2) reflect on individual problem thoughts 3) journal, using words and/or drawings 4) revisit what we have recorded 5) take active steps to reinforce change.  You’d have to read the book to get more!
            What I want to think about with you today is the fact that God’s Word reinforces science.  Her plan is not something new.  There is nothing new under the sun.  But what she has done is take her science and put it alongside God’s revealed word.
            Gather – Bring every thought captive.  2 Corinthians 10:5
            Reflect - What am I thinking about?  Is it good?  Is it healthy?  (Philippians 4:8) Bring these things to the front of your mind.
            Write – Journal.  Writing or drawing places a visual reminder in your head. Write them upon the table of thine heart” Proverbs 7:3.
            Revisit – Call to remembrance what you are learning.  Start adopting what you can.  Little by little let it teach you a new way of thinking.  Renew your mind. Isaiah 28:10 “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a  little, and there a little.”
            Active Reach – Philippians 4:9  “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.”  Do something active to reinforce what you are learning.  Application, application, application.
            There is so much more I’d like to share with you.  Maybe I will come back to some of this at a later time.  For now, I wanted to say how encouraged I was by this book to 1) See the scientific and spiritual benefit of my quiet time. 2) Know that my brain is always learning.  And 3) Rejoice in God’s incredible wisdom.  
            Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image!  My brain is switched on!

Gail Gritts
Beside the Well