Trip to Greenville, South Carolina

Joseph Bianchi of Calvary Press, left; and Donn Arms of INS and
NANC, right
 Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jay Adams, the founder of the modern biblical counseling movement, in his home church of Redeemer Presbyterian in Moore, South Carolina. Our family celebrated Palm Sunday there, on our way to Florida for vacation. It was also a pleasure meeting his son-in-law, Bill Slattery, who is the senior pastor and also a NANC Fellow; and Donn Arms, the Executive Director of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies (the program under which I am working towards a certificate in biblical counseling). I had met Pastors Bill and Donn at last year's NANC conference - their faces were very familiar to me, as they are instructors of the distance courses I am taking.

Donn's advice and lectures, in particular, have been very helpful to me in my writing. He questioned my (over)use of the term "idolatry" in discussing bulimia very early on, and so I was able to clarify (and qualify) what, exactly, I meant by that in my book. Donn's committment to biblical accuracy and precision of wording has served me well in defining helpful counseling constructs. In simple language, he's helped me overcome any hesitancy to call sin "sin" - and to boldly address repentance in a practical way.

I was also very excited to meet the man who signed me on as a writer - Joseph M. Bianchi, the President and CEO of Calvary Press Publishing! Although he has moved "Redeemed from the Pit" up in the publishing queue, feeling its message was important and relevent enough to warrant expediation, we still do not have an exact release date as there are several projects ahead of mine at Calvary Press. When I know more, I'll share.

Meeting the publisher! :)
It was a fun and interesting morning, chatting about the publishing process and current happenings in evangelicalism and the biblical counseling world with these two gentlemen. Their wives, who I also met, are lovely and also great fun to talk with. I am hoping my book will be out in time for the NANC annual conference in California this October, but it's all in God's timing.....I am far too Calvinistic to worry about stuff I can't control. The word, I believe, is "sovereignity". His timing is always perfect.


An Encouragement on this Resurrection Sunday...

This morning, I received the following note in my inbox:


I read your story on ChristianStoriesOnline. I was looking for a testimonial on bulimics whose closest family and friends don't even know about their disorder (like myself, all through my post-anorexia years in high school and college, before Jesus started wrecking my life for the better... or before I started letting Him ;). I'm writing a paper for my psych class I'm taking right now.

I just wanted to know that I was encouraged and enheartened to hear the way our Lord has delivered and healed you and walked with you and held your heart through your years of struggle. Reading large parts of your story sounded so much like my story... I was encouraged that I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS! It is by His grace that I am alive today, and by His power and love that I have experienced all the deliverance and healing that I have, and I still am amazed by the joy of His love, even in the hard times.

I just wanted to thank you for your boldness in sharing your story. And your honesty about everything, as well as the truth that the battle will wage on and there will be times of struggle, as long as we are on this earth. But praise God, we have no shame or guilt in Him! You know the depth of meaning that has for us -- I was crippled by shame over my disorder for so many years -- but He looks on us and sees Jesus's righteousness. We are dearly loved daughters of the Creator of All, and in His hands, there is nothing to fear, only love to accept and life to surrender.

I hope your Easter is a joyous reminder of the gift we have in Him. He is risen! And we are being made new.

Grace and Peace,


Repentance and trusting in Christ to change us (which presupposes a committment to obey Him), truly is the key to victory over this sin of bulimia. Praise God for the captives He is setting free, such as this writer!


Lies We Believe and Truth That Sets Us Free - Part II

Part 2 of Barb Winters' "Lies We Believe and Truth That Sets Us Free"

I'm so thankful to Barb Winters for her excellent contribution to this site - this is the conclusion of her article on repenting of food addiction and renewing the mind. Well done!

Is it Sin?

For years I knew I could eat better, but had not contemplated the possibility that my actions were wrong. Two separate events helped me connect the dots. First, a friend casually mentioned that sugar could be addictive. I made a mental note, but chose not to ponder too long on the statement.

Then, several years later, I was reading Dr. Neil T. Anderson’s Discipleship Counseling when it all came together. “All people with addictive behaviors lie to both themselves and others. . . .The dysfunctional use of substances such as alcohol, drugs (either street or prescriptive), nicotine, caffeine and food becomes a means of coping and escape for them and usually controls their time, money and relationships.” The word food sort of jumped off the page at me. Dr. Anderson included food in a list of addictive substances. I asked myself, Can some eating habits be labeled as substance abuse?

Remember our definition of food: “Substances that people, animals, and plants eat to stay alive and grow.” If food is a substance, is eating improperly substance abuse? Back to my dictionary. Abuse is “wrong or harmful use of something . . . .” So, if we use food for any other motive than what God intended, we are abusing it. And, ultimately, we are abusing God’s temple.

We are able to move forward once the realization of this truth sinks in.


We find victory over sinful behaviors through God’s word and his power. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

It is not just a matter of recognizing lies exist. We must identify them, confess, and replace them with truth. Replacing the lies with truth benefits us most in the long run.

Let me give you an example. Some days my thoughts look like this: Good morning, Lord. . . . I need to brush my teeth. Can I have ice cream for breakfast? No, that’s ridiculous. Oatmeal is a healthy start to the day. . . . What kind of ice cream do we have? Oh, yeah. Bunny Tracks. . . . Father, help me teach my children well, today. . . . Lunch was good. Is it too early for ice cream? I better wait ‘til the children go to bed. Otherwise, they will want some. I’ll eat an apple. . . . Is it 8:00 yet? That ice cream was so good last night. I can’t wait. . . . I need to finish the laundry. Oh, I can taste the creaminess of the vanilla ice cream with the crunch of chocolate chunks. . . . I made it. It’s eight and the children are upstairs. I can sit down and enjoy my much deserved bowl of ice cream while relaxing.

Identify the Lies

In this example, my thoughts are not being controlled by the Spirit. One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control or a controlled self—controlled by the Holy Spirit. To escape from this bondage, I take the time to identify the lies I believe. Here are two: Ice cream is good, and I deserve it.


I don’t want to debate the nutritional value of ice cream with you. That’s not the point. The point is I am allowing what I perceive to be “good” to control my thoughts. That is the sin. I must repent. “. . . God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Rom. 2:4). Repentance includes agreeing with God I am wrong and turning from that sin.

Replace Lies with Truth

But, I can’t stop there. If I do not replace the lies with truth, I leave myself open for Satan to get a foothold. In this instance, what is truth? “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Psalm 107:1). God is good! And, if God is good, he will not steer me in the wrong direction. He will steer me toward what is good.

“The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . . who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2, 5).

Now that I have located verses to dispel the lie, every time this thought pops into my mind, “Oh, I really want that because it is soooo good,” I stop and evaluate whether God has established that item as good for me. Then, if he has not, I replace the thought with a previously mentioned verse.

Let’s move on to the second lie – I deserve it. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23). Truthfully, I deserve hell. Anything above that is a free gift of God. Remembering that helps me keep the proper perspective.


One last thought. Anything that takes the place of God is an idol. If your thoughts are wandering toward an idol in your life, here are a few verses to help reel them back in. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 21). God’s love through Jesus Christ compels us to listen and obey Him. We are freed from sins and rest in His goodness only through His grace.

Do you think improper eating can be labeled as substance abuse?

Has food been an idol in your life?

Have you experienced victory in this area? If not, do you believe you can experience victory?

Barbara Winters and her husband, Don, have four children, Kevin, JT, Kenneth, and Melinda. Barbara home schools her children and encourages her husband in his pastorate position. Barbara writes a column on the characteristics of God for Lucid Magazine at www.lucidmagazine.com, has several articles available for purchase at Churchmouse Publications, and writes a blog exploring lies and truth related to food issues at http://foodliesandtruth.blogspot.com/. Stop by her blog and say hello.


Superb Series on Gluttony and Body Image from Faith Biblical Counseling

Faith Biblical Counseling (where Vision of Hope is, LaFayette, IN) has posted an excellent, Scripturally-sound discussion on the idolatry of "body-worship" and the sin of gluttony. (Would we expect anything less than excellence in biblical counseling from Faith Baptist?)

I am very excited about this series, as it offers true hope and help to a spiritual problem plaguing so many. Unafraid to call sin "sin" and avoid the psycho-babble heresies so prominent today, biblical counselor Rob Green tells it like it is in three parts:

Food, the Body and Idolatry (Part 1)
Gluttony: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in Food (Part 2)
Body Image: Finding Joy in Having the Right Measurements (Part 3)

Go read it and be edified!


Guest Blogger: Barb Winters

Barb Winters has a great blog, "Food: Lies We Believe and Truth that Sets Us Free". I met her last month through a Christian women's blogging community, and really appreciate her edifying, encouraging and biblically-sound writing. Below is the first in a two-part series she wrote on how we rationalize unhealthy eating habits.

Hello, my name is Barb and I am a reformed (almost) junk food junkie. Honestly. I was the child my parents took a picture of under the sign “Won’t Eat Vegetables” at the amusement park. Of course, at that time I didn’t eat anything. But I changed. I evolved. I grew. To love potato chips, Diet Pepsi, pizza, and . . . ice cream! In college, I thought the food groups were Pizza Hut, Monical’s Pizza and Domino’s.

Since then—twenty plus years have passed—my eating habits have fluctuated; but eventually I accepted I had an unhealthy relationship with food. So I embarked on a quest to decipher why I couldn’t maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I know I’m not alone. Many people I converse with about food will admit to some sort of problem. Some laugh it off . . . and some cry. But it is obvious that an escalating problem in today’s society of plenty is how we deal with food. Our minds reel with questions: What should I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? How much should I eat? Why should I eat that? Why shouldn’t I eat that? We meditate on it. We mull it over. We munch on it (pun intended). We toss the questions around until we feel as if we are on a merry-go-round with no off button. The thoughts consume us. And we feel as if there is no place to hide.

During my quest, God disclosed to me many eating issues go deeper than just making wrong choices. Lies we believe affect these choices. Lies we decide to believe. Rationalizations. Justifications. Validations. Excuses. Thought patterns. Things Satan whispers in our ears until we don’t need him to whisper them anymore . . . because we believe them and tell them to ourselves.

So instead of discussing which diet is best or how many hours of exercise will counteract the effects of the piece of pie we just ate, I want to look at the purpose of food and how we have twisted that purpose by believing lies. I want to identify the lies so we can replace them with truth.

Food Defined

What is the definition of “food”? What is its purpose? Until a few years ago I never stopped to ponder these questions. But since we deal with food on a regular basis (that’s an understatement), we should answer these questions. Here are my initial thoughts:

Food can be . . .

• a comforter

• something to keep my mouth and hands busy

• the satisfier of my cravings

• what I use to keep my stomach from talking to me

• an outlet for my creativity

• a necessary evil (having to think about and plan three meals a day can be mentally exhausting)

• something we fellowship around

How do you define food?

My Scholastic Children’s Dictionary defines food as, “Substances that people, animals, and plants eat to stay alive and grow.” Hmmm. Really? Substances? Sounds boring and unappetizing. It contains no depth, no enjoyment. I wonder what my husband would think if tomorrow he asked, “What’s for dinner?”

And I responded, with a lilt in my voice like all good wives have, “Substances, dear.”

I prefer a definition I heard at a conference: fuel for our bodies. Again, not very appetizing (the smell of gas fumes comes to mind). However, this definition helps me maintain the right perspective on the purpose of food. When I think of fuel, I think of something that provides energy to keep going. I am compelled to ask: What is the best fuel for our bodies? To take that one step further, we are told in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (for those in Christ). Therefore, the real question is: What is the best fuel for God’s temple?


The living God dwells within these bodies He created. Why would we poison them? Why would we load them with substances that are harmful and contrary to what God desires?

Because we believe lies and rationalizations like:

• I deserve this reward for doing well.

• I can eat as much as I want if it’s healthy.

• My eating habits have nothing to do with God.

• I’ll miss out on something good if I don’t eat this.

• One won’t hurt.

• It’s a time of celebration/special occasion. /It’s a party. /I’m on vacation.

• It’s too hard/too time-consuming/too expensive to eat properly.

• I’ll start my diet tomorrow.

• Eating this will relieve stress.

• This food will make me happy/give me comfort.

• If I turn it over to God, I’ll never enjoy food again/I’ll never be able to eat this again.

• I’m in PMS.

• I’ll exercise it off.

• I’ve already ruined my diet today.

And the list goes on.

What lies/rationalizations do you tell yourself to justify eating improperly?

Barbara Winters and her husband, Don, have four children, Kevin, JT, Kenneth, and Melinda. Barbara home schools her children and encourages her husband in his pastorate position. Barbara writes a column on the characteristics of God for Lucid Magazine at www.lucidmagazine.com, has several articles available for purchase at Churchmouse Publications, and writes a blog exploring lies and truth related to food issues at http://foodliesandtruth.blogspot.com/. Stop by her blog and say hello.


Beyond Freedom from Food Addiction – Living for the Glory of God (Part 3 of 3)

Conclusion of the 3-Part series I wrote for Barb Winters' blog, "Food: Lies We Believe and Truth that Sets Us Free".

This is Part 3 in a series by guest blogger Marie Notcheva. To read Part 1 click here. To read Part 2 click here.

What is the Antidote?

Overcoming food-related struggles and obsessive thinking about food, weight and appearance is notoriously difficult. Nevertheless, full and permanent victory is possible, and it all begins by being “brainwashed.” Surprised? No, Scripture doesn’t send us to a hypnotist to deal with sin; rather, we are instructed to“be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). This is an ongoing, life-long process which all begins with saturating ourselves in the Word of God. As we study and meditate on what God’s thoughts, desires and priorities are, gradually we internalize them and they become our own. If your mind is “set on the things above” (Col. 3:2), it will be preoccupied less and less with food. When we learn to live with an eternal perspective, the “drugs” and other means we use to gain pleasure fade in importance. Addictions are broken only when we begin to truly see the all-surpassing beauty and magnificence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Simply put, Jesus must become more beautiful, more satisfying, more desirable and more fulfilling than our addiction. As C.S. Lewis put it, we are too easily satisfied – making mud pies in a slum when a “holiday” at the seaside awaits.

Repentance is a continual lifestyle. Whether our “pet sin” is adultery or food addiction, humbling ourselves at the foot of the Cross is not a one-time deal – we need His grace daily in order to “press on” and “put on” holiness. This cycle of confession of sin, repentance, receiving mercy, allowing God to change us with His grace, and gradually being transformed into the likeness of His Son is what theologians call “progressive sanctification”. While we’ll never be perfect this side of eternity, we can certainly experience significant victory over “pet sins”.

Far from being the final word, repentance is just the first step in our journey out of the pit of food addiction. Discipline and perseverance are the two qualities God wants to cultivate in us, and constitute what biblical counseling pioneer Jay Adams calls “the secret of godliness”. “Train yourselves to be godly,” Paul warns in 1 Timothy 4:7. “But wait a minute,” you might ask. “Isn’t this ‘works-righteousness’?” Actually, no. While God completely forgives and washes us clean the moment we turn to Christ (justification), He then equips us and develops fruit in our lives so that we may obey and serve Him (sanctification).

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and discipline is a necessary part of our growth as believers. Without it, we run out of steam and learn to live by our feelings. When fighting food-related issues, this can be deadly! Eating is something we all do every day (which is perhaps why eating disorders seem more difficult to many than other addictions), and so we must constantly be on our guard. We do this by hiding the Word of God in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and yielding to the Spirit (Romans 8:5). Discipline is something we train ourselves to do, whether we feel like it or not. If we are not consistently in His Word, which is our life-line, we will find ourselves slipping.

Lastly, don’t be tempted to think that victory over an area of besetting sin in your life will be easy, or come immediately. This is where many give up. They expect God to wave a magic wand over them, in effect, and take away all temptation. He has left temptation there for a reason – to build your character, and grow you into the person He wants you to be, even through your weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Perseverance in your walk with Christ is so crucial. If you feel you fail and have turned back to the food again, it is vital that you get back up and shake it off. The Apostle Peter, a man who experienced the exhilarating highs of spiritual victory and the devastating lows of failure, wrote this on the importance of persevering: “For this very reason, [God’s promise of godliness] make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

As you continue to draw near to God by studying His Word, worshiping Him, and fellowshiping with other Christians, He will purify your desires, goals and cravings. You will find your deepest satisfaction comes from communion with Him, and although you will still stumble at times, you will be able to come back with confidence more readily because of His grace. The change in your “relationship” with food will be to demote it permanantly to a back-seat role in your life. However, this is only a fringe benefit to the only relationship that matters – the one you have with Christ. When living to please and glorify Him becomes your driving life’s passion, all other lesser goals will fall into their rightful place. The end result? A maturing, dynamic faith and a testimony of victory over vice.