Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. 1 John 5:21 NLT

I’ve long been a health nut.

When my kids were little, I bought The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide and kept it under my side of the bed. When anyone got sick, I’d check the symptoms with the medical guide. Even when they weren’t sick, I’d pull out the heavy volume and pore through its pages.

These days I browse the Internet. With countless websites pertaining to health, it’s important to glean information only from trustworthy sites and to compare data. I trust the sites that aren’t trying to sell me something and are there simply to educate and inform.

I’ve learned a lot. For example, I’ve long dealt with unrelenting symptoms of hypothyroidism. When I researched the thyroid gland, I learned that triclosan, an ingredient in antibacterial soap, interfered with the function of the thyroid. I checked the labels of all the soap products in the house, replaced dish detergent and hand soap, and bought a packet of antibacterial hand wipes not containing triclosan to keep in my purse. You don’t know what’s in those hand soap dispensers in public restrooms.

I also learned that soy, which has been touted as healthy, may interfere with the absorption of synthroid, the medicine I take daily for hypothyroidism. Soy cannot be consumed less than eight hours after taking the medicine. Once again I scrutinized product labels—and was surprised by what all contained soy: coffee creamer, “healthy” cereal, and—get this—a multivitamin powder that’s supposed to have been formulated to boost thyroid function!

“It’s used as a filler,” my husband said when I told him. And here I’d thought soy was supposed to be good for me.

I study labels so I can eliminate the things that are detriments to being healthy and feeling well.

But do I have the same attitude when it comes to my spiritual health?

Am I as careful with what I consume with my eyes and my ears as what I do with my mouth?

I wouldn’t think of skipping a meal, yet how often do I forego a quiet time, when I read the Bible, meditate, and pray?

What fillers have snuck into my life that, although they appeared to be good for me at first, really interfere with my relationship with God? God doesn’t just want to be first in my life—He commands it: “I am the LORD your God … You must not have any other god but me” (Exodus 20:2, 3).

It’s too easy to let the fillers sneak in. Fillers are just that—they take up space but add no nutritional value.

I need to be a spiritual health nut, too.

As I examine my heart, soul, mind, and life this Lenten season, Lord, show me the fillers that threaten to take Your place. Amen.

Read and reflect on Exodus 20:1-11.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey.

The Games People Play

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay 

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . peace. Galatians 5:22 NIV

Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. –Romans 12:18 TEV

Make every effort to live in peace with all men. –Hebrews 12:14 NIV


Karen and Paula were fighting again. Our third grade class was split in two.

“Whose side are you on?” one classmate would ask the other.

Never mind that the two best friends would soon make up and put the spat behind them, leaving the rest of us in social turmoil, everyone mad at everyone who wasn’t on her side.

Everyone, that is, except Thomas.

“I’m on my own side,” he answered confidently when I asked him.

Good for Thomas for not choosing sides and staying out of it. He probably had—and kept—the most friends.

Why did I have to choose a side, anyway? Because it was the thing to do? Because I felt pressured by my peers? Because if I didn’t choose a side, I’d be left out? At least if I chose a side, I’d have some friends.

At that age, I thought the silliness of taking sides was a kid-thing, that we’d outgrow it and, as adults, be able to get along with one another.

Ha! It doesn’t get any better, does it? From office squabbles to church splits to road rage to family feuds, discord abounds in the world around us. Will it ever end?

A more important question, though, is, where does it start? (Once you can answer where it starts, you have the answer to how it can end.)

It starts, not with conflict between two people, but in the heart. When the twins of selfishness and pride reign, one-upmanship defines all your relationships. You have to tell the better story, own the nicer home, drive the more expensive car, have the last word, inflict the final blow.

It never ends, though, does it? It just goes on and on and on, until one person says, “I’ve had enough.”

It takes two to tangle. All it takes for peace is for one person to refuse to take part in these dangerous games people play.

Look at the story of King Saul and David, the shepherd boy anointed to be the next king. With all his kingly resources, Saul relentlessly pursued David to kill him, but David, even when he had an opportunity to gain the upper hand, refused to retaliate. It wasn’t David who suffered from a troubled spirit (1 Samuel 16:14).

How can we obtain the inner peace that spills over into outer peace?

First, make peace with God, the giver of peace (Romans 5:1), through His Son, Jesus Christ. Remember the peace that He gives is deep and lasting, unaffected by worldly troubles (John 14:27).

Second, learn to trust God with every aspect of your life, banishing anxiety by telling God about your needs (Philippians 4:6–7, 19; Matthew 6:8, 25–33), knowing that His way is always the best way (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Third, train your mind so that your thoughts are on God, for He will “keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on” Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Fourth, make a conscious effort to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15) by refusing to play the one-upmanship game, to retaliate when someone hurts you (Matthew 5:38–48). Don’t allow bitterness to take root in your heart and mind, where it will grow and poison you and your relationships with others (Hebrews 12:14).

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, and every kind of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Don’t play the payback game (Romans 12:14–21).

Instead, “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God, in Christ, has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32), and overcoming bad with good.

Peace is a choice.

What’s yours?

Dear God, in a time when world peace is humanly impossible, remind me that true peace begins with me—and You. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Samuel 24 and Colossians 3:12–15.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey.