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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Gut Health and More Important Things

We’re always bombarded with the latest cure-all. Back in the old days, it was the same. “Take this tonic. It’ll heal whatever ails you!” There were miracle medicine salesmen back then, and there are today. By the way, essential oils, anyone? Take some frankincense. Diffuse this. Make your whole house smell like eucalyptus mixed with pine berries.

It’s okay. Really. If you actually feel better with a pink drink, and you can afford it, do it. (There’s a new one coming out this month!)*

If you want your bedroom to smell like linament, it’s okay with me. It’s your home; you can do whatever you like.

If you want to eat cancer preventing seeds and drink exotic fruit drinks, more power to you.

If you believe that your gut flora—and fauna, anyone?—are responsible for everything in your life, then fine.

I chuckle, because there’s always so much hype around these products. (Have you also noticed they’re all sold exclusively by multi-level marketing?) “Try this—you can buy it through me—and you will be healthier, slimmer, and happier—and I’ll get silver status and be a star.”

“How much does it cost?”

“Only around $5 a day. Is that too much to pay for your health?" (They all say this.)

“So, for a month, that would be . . . $150?”

“With me, you can get this product for under $100 a month.”

“Great! And how many months will it take me to look like you?”

“You’ll love this product so much you’ll want to use it for life!”

“Hmm . . . at least $100/month extra for life . . . (No way am I sharing with my spouse! That would be $200/month!) How about your 45-day trial?”

So, instead of doing some reading about said product, praying and asking the Lord if it’s His will, and asking her husband if she (they) can afford it, Mrs. Housewife signs up for the miracle tonic.

Wouldn’t it be wiser to make sure our heart health was in tip-top shape? Then, wouldn’t our priorities line up with God’s will?

What is God’s priority order, anyway? It’s really interesting. You can boil it down to two words: God, and others. Jesus said, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).

Is our heart health right?

Do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? That’s God’s first priority. He wants all our love. (It’s also the first of the Ten Commandments.) This is the foundation! Love God with all our being. Really love Him! Make sure our heart focus is God, our soul is attuned to Him, and our mind is dwelling on Him. What doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (from Deuteronomy 10:12).

Do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? A lawyer once asked Jesus, Who is my neighbour? Jesus answered him with the story of the Good Samaritan. The priest passed, a Levite passed, and they didn’t help the wounded man. The Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (story from Luke 10:29-37).

Yes, we need to care for our bodies. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19) It's quite okay to eat healthy, exercise, and take vitamins.

But, where should our number one priority be? Our heart health. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

May you discern God’s priorities today—love Him and love others.


* Please understand, I’m only using a popular product and essential oils as illustrations. I have nothing either against or for them. I’ve not tried the pink drink or essential oils. It's perfectly fine if you love them and sell them. This post is about priorities.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Non-fiction Review: As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir

As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir, by Kay Bruner is not what I was expecting when I got it. It’s the true story of a missionary couple and their children who go to the Solomon Islands as Bible translators. They live among the native people in quite primitive conditions.

Kay tells how she struggles with adapting. She shares how hard she had always tried to do the right thing and be the right person. She describes interesting details about village life, travel, and customs and she comes across as real, with a sincere love for the people.

The author continues to provide a narrative of her experiences on the mission field. Her emotions begin to spiral downward due to extreme exhaustion and stress. Then, she discovers her husband has a porn addiction. At first, he only confesses to using porn those times she catches him, but she’s devastated when she finds out he’s had a six-year habit.

Their mission agency sent them home, promising to help them with counseling. “Counseling” ended up being a more-than-a-year long “evaluation.” Kay was in a very dark place, and she desperately needed help, not just evaluation. In the meantime, her husband did everything around the home and cared for her. She wasn’t able to function and was extremely depressed. Her husband stuck by her side, proving his love for her. All this time, they weren’t getting any counseling. They were only being analyzed. Finally, Kay reaches her lowest point. She describes it: “Once I fell, all the pain of all the years swept over me. There was no ability to reason, to consider, to perceive. I had no sense of purpose, no trust that something positive was coming down the road. Every good thing was behind me, in the past.”

Her epiphany comes with the revealed words “fear,” which she literally tacks to a cross, and “hope.” She just heard them in her mind. They didn’t come from Scripture.

I really thought this book was going to be about how God meets serious needs through His Word and about the author’s victory in Him. It ends woefully short of that. Though Kay’s life is much better, her marriage stronger, and the book ends with the translation of the Arosi New Testament being completed, I have a feeling that she still hasn’t found peace through true faith in Christ Jesus. I think maybe she knows Him, but she’s far from walking with God. It left me feeling sad.

I would imagine that their mission agency, along with many others, has come a long way since this book was written, about ten years ago. Today, missions are conscious that traumatized people need compassionate biblical counsel and care. I am thankful for that!

This is a book that tells a sad story. My heart truly goes out to the author.

I frankly can’t recommend As Soon As I Fell. It doesn’t edify; it only shares the author’s experience, which could have been so different if she'd sought the Bible instead of philosophy and other books and she had gotten appropriate care for her emotional-mental state from the beginning of her depression. I was also very disappointed with the dark quotes (about 80% of them) at the beginnings of the chapters.

Note: This book is for adults only. The author frankly describes female physical functions and the marital relationship, and she’s brutally honest about her husband’s porn use. It’s also transparent about their disappointments with their mission agency.

Note #2: I am not sure what kind of theology the author and her husband represent. It seems to be a branch of Protestantism. Several of the author’s statements, such as pouring as the mode of baptism, participating in the Stations of the Cross, Lent, etc. made me wonder what group they’re affiliated with. They end up being Methodists, but I’m not sure what they were at the beginning.