Angel in the Kitchen: Junk Food

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When it comes to food, do you have certain “guilty pleasures” you love to indulge in? It’s okay, we all do. We could eat New York-style pizza every single day. But that would be extreme carbo-loading, and since we’re not planning to run any marathons in the near future, we probably shouldn’t. We’re also fans of Edy’s Ice Cream, specifically Cherry Chocolate Chip! It. Is. Divine!

Crunch ‘n Munch? You know, caramel and chocolate drenched popcorn and peanuts? We also recall another brand, Moose Munch, which is an odd bit of nomenclature for a snack … unless you happen to be one of those huge high school football players whose name actually IS “Moose”!

Cinnamon rolls. Anybody’s, it doesn’t matter, although Cinnabon — to quote a line from Ben Stiller’s movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty“That’s frosted heroin”! And don’t get us started  on Tiramisu! Please, because sometimes we need serious help. Chocolate eclairs, Lay’s Mesquite Barbecue Potato Chips, and those little donuts that are dusted with a suspicious-looking white powder!!! No, we’re not paid to advertise, although the companies whose junk food we’re listing here … they really should reward us by sending us a year’s supply of everything.

Statistics show that people consume tons of junk food. Bags, boxes, buckets, and barrels full. Why do we love it so much? A couple reasons: First, it’s either very sweet or very salty, very crunchy or very smooth and creamy. These qualities especially appeal to the palate. Second, for many of us, these snacks are our comfort food. After a hard day of work or school, we want to reward ourselves with something sinfully delicious. It’s an old movie cliché, when someone is upset or depressed, they drown their sorrows with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Of course, the morning after some such binge, massive guilt sets in.

Junk food is great — occasionally — but it needs to be balanced out with more nutritional fare. A diet of nothing but comfort foods can lead to serious health issues, such as high cholesterol and diabetes. So let the “consumer” be aware.

There are other types of “junk food”: things we take comfort in; activities we tend to overindulge in; “stuff” we use to escape the pressures of life. Television, movies, sports, video games, graphic novels, magazines, the internet and — what’s your poison?  We love these activities and things because, like junk food, they greatly appeal to our senses. And although such things, like chips and candy, are not bad for us in moderation, when we binge on them, when we “diet” exclusively on such things, our brains and our spirits can get sick! We need fresh air and sunshine and healthy “spiritual food” to balance out the lighter and — we hope, only occasional — junky snacking we all tend to do. We need to “consume” some of God’s Word, the “Bread of Life,” each day. (Matthew 4:4)

We can continue to escape with “comfort foods,” but we need to remember that it is just an escape; and like snacks that provide nothing but empty calories and no real nourishment, we’ll still be hungry for something more. “The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. …I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.” (John 6:33,35 NLT)

Are you continually putting more “sugar and fat” into your system than you are “vitamins and protein”? You’ve often heard the quote, “You are what you eat”? Are you made of junk food? Are you glued to the boob tube? Is your ear stuck to the telephone? Have your fingers meshed with the keyboard? “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7) Therefore, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

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Diet for Dreamers: Sending Out an S.O.S.

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Ever feel like you’ve lost your vision? Like you’re swamped with the problems of life, and your dreams are slowly sinking, drowning in a sea of “stuff”? If your unfulfilled goals could talk, would they cry for help? Would your neglected dreams, feeling as though the end might be near, send out a distress signal — an S.O.S.?

In the case of goals, dreams, and visions, that S.O.S. is a plea for very specific action. If we’re to find the time, energy and resources necessary to pursue our goals and rescue our unfulfilled dreams, then we need to do three things. Quickly, before it’s too late.

Part I:  The first letter of the Dreamer’s S.O.S. stands for SIMPLIFY! It’s absolutely the first course of action in any rescue operation. If your life is too complicated you’ll be mostly ineffective at accomplishing the things necessary to keep you moving forward in the pursuit of your goals. Your time, energy, and resources are limited, so it’s imperative to wisely manage these assets. Simplifying your life is the best way to start.

We suggest several key areas of life that tend to get “tangled up”: areas where there’s too much, activities that are too often, things that are too complicated.

1. Simplify your schedule: chances are, you have too many activities planned for too little time. Come on, do you really think you can do everything? You can only accomplish so much in a day, a year, a life. Decide what’s most important — like achieving your goals — and limit your other activities. No, don’t become obsessed, but realize your time and energy are precious, and simplify these other areas:

2. Simplify your Recreations: sports, hobbies, TV, video games, interests, etc. If you go jogging everyday, followed by a few rounds of golf or a game of tennis with a friend, you’ll have far less time and energy to accomplish your goals. Leisure time and light distractions are good for our mental health, and hobbies are fun, but we need to limit how many pastimes we have and how often we indulge in them, if we intend to get anything else done. For instance, TV and theatrical movies are entertaining, but trying to keep up with over a dozen weekly shows and take in every new movie could be the death of your dreams. S.O.S!

3. Finances: Remember, every time a department store sales clerk talks you into opening a charge account with them, you are further complicating your finances and your life. Getting 10% off your first purchase is tempting, but you’ll pay for it later. We know people with dozens and dozens of store cards, and they spend hours and hours keeping track of their purchases and making sure each account gets paid on time. Who needs the headache? Similarly, we know people who belong to dozens of book clubs, movie clubs, etc., and they’re drowning in those crazy little cards demanding they reply by a certain date. S.O.S!

4. Relationships: This may sound sacrilegious, but you can have too many “friends”! All meaningful relationships require time, energy and commitment. “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” so lots of friends eventually equates to lots of needs. Friends need time to get together, socialize, catch up, vent. S.O.S! How many hours are there in a week — AFTER you subtract work and family responsibilities? Limit your friends to a few and you’ll also reduce your number of social obligations. Now, this doesn’t mean you can stop being friendly! Jesus is our example. When He walked the earth He was friendly to everyone. But He had only a handful of close friends.

 5. Purpose and Focus: Decide what you’d like to accomplish in life. Pick a couple goals and narrow your focus. Master a few things, instead of being mediocre in many things. Again, Jesus is our example. He healed the sick, fed the multitudes, and taught the masses; but Jesus never lost sight of His primary mission: the Cross!  Which is why He limited all the other activities and ministries that could have kept Him too busy. (John 6:5) S.O.S!

Are your leisure-time “distractions” distracting you a little too much? Are you tied up in paperwork and payment deadlines form overly complicated finances? Do too many friends keep you busy chatting and texting and meeting for lunch? Do you feel pulled in several directions at once? S.O.S.

Simplify! “…Martha was distracted with all her preparations; …But the Lord … said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary….” (Luke 10:40-42 NASB)

Next Monday: Part II of Sending Out an S.O.S. — “O” is for …?

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