Splenda, Hardee’s commercials, and things that sneak in…

I don’t trust artificial sweeteners. I know people think sugar is the bad guy, but I would rather have something in my body that is pure than something brought about by a chemical process, no matter how many calories come with it. That said, I was shocked to realize that in spite of my good intentions, artificial sweeteners had managed to sneak their way into my house.

My realization came when I noticed sucralose in the ingredient list on a box of granola bars in my house. (Sucralose is the artificial sweetener most commonly known as Splenda.) I had been buying these granola bars for months. Sure, I knew they advertised containing 25% less sugar. I just didn’t stop to think about what that meant. I felt horrible. I should have looked into it more closely when I began buying them. Instead I saw that these granola bars had three times as much fiber as the other bars, and that sounded good and healthy to me. I didn’t bother to look more closely. You see, I somewhat investigated what I was giving my children, but that wasn’t good enough. The artificial sweetener was able to sneak in.

I know many people like artificial sweeteners, and that’s fine, but there is something else that was able to sneak its way into my house last week that’s not fine. Not for anyone trying to live a holy life. It was the latest Hardee’s commercial.

If you know my family, then you know that we don’t really watch television. We watch some movies here and there, and some sports for my youngest child and her father, but that’s about it. Television is not what we want our family feeding their souls on daily. I made an exception last week. I decided that I would watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Do you see that? decided. I wanted to see the Olympics, so I brought it into my house and fed it to my children.

The Olympics in general aren’t the problem. The problem was the latest Hardee’s commercial that appeared right in the middle of the opening ceremony. Now I haven’t stepped foot in a Hardee’s since they began using sexually explicit commercials in their advertising. I can’t support anything that so openly promotes ideas that God hates. When that commercial came on, I sat frozen for a few seconds. When you don’t watch television, you are shocked when you are reminded of what has become accepted in our culture. (If you haven’t seen it, please don’t go watch it. It’s just Hardee’s usual motif of using sex to sell hamburgers.) After the initial shock, I grabbed the remote and turned it off. It disgusted me, and I wanted it out of my house.

After that night, we put the NBC app on my computer, and we’ve been watching the Olympics that way ever since. No commercials. My youngest daughter can watch all the Olympics she wants without us having to worry about that commercial trying to sneak in.

Guess what, though? I hadn’t learned my lesson. Just two nights ago, my oldest daughter wanted to borrow my computer so that she could work on a story she’s writing. I really wanted to watch the Olympic swimming that night. No problem. I’ll just watch it on television, and she can have the computer. I told myself it would be fine. Surely that commercial won’t sneak in again.

Wrong. The commercial appeared again. I wasn’t even being diligent to watch for it. I had my head down working on a jigsaw puzzle. It was my husband who saw it and turned it off this time. (I’m so thankful for him and his willingness to do that!)

Being diligent in keeping our children’s hearts pure (and our own!) can be tiresome. Sometimes we just want to rest, work a puzzle, and watch swimming. That’s when Satan will sneak in. When we choose to see the fiber in the granola bars instead of the Splenda, when we tell ourselves It will be fine when we know a threat exists, that’s when the unholy will sneak into our lives.

My goal is to be as David writes in Psalm 101:3-4:

I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.

I know that my children will be faced with ungodly images in their lives. When you live in the world, there is just no avoiding it altogether. But it won’t be in my house. I will set no worthless, ungodly thing before my eyes or my family’s – just like I won’t intentionally feed them artificial sweeteners. I want to grow my family on what is pure. They’ll consume foods with artificial sweeteners, and they will see things that are unholy, but they won’t come from me. I will not feed my children’s souls, or mine, on thoughts and images that are impure and unholy. That is not who we are called to be.

But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

We’ve all heard the saying You are what you eat. How true this is especially when it comes to what we feed our souls! Let us be diligent to clean the worthless, ungodly things from our homes. Let us closely examine what we feed our children. Their souls depend on it.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

Home and Clean

I spent last week at church camp with my three kids. It was a great week, but it was also a very dirty week. Have you ever seen what happens when a sweaty little boy rubs his hands in the dirt and then wipes his face? Yes, that’s pretty much what my son’s face looked like all week long. One morning his counselor said to me “I hope you don’t mind, but Logan has his shirt on backwards today.” I didn’t care about the shirt being backwards, but the fact that it was the same shirt he had worn the day before did bother me a little! He was a sweaty, stinky little guy all week. My girls were a little better, although I did have to remind my oldest during the week that I had, in fact, packed a hairbrush somewhere in her belongings. It’s just the way things are at camp.

2015-07-21 13.12.42One of the first things I did once we got home was to get each kid a good, long bath. As Logan emerged from his room in clean pajamas and smelling good, I hugged him close and just enjoyed seeing him in a way that I hadn’t in a week: CLEAN.
Of course I love him the same, whether dirty or clean, but which one do I enjoy more? I enjoy seeing him (and smelling him) without him being covered in dirt. I like talking to him without having to turn my head to breathe the other way or thinking “Oh, if I could just wash that face!”

I can’t help but wonder if God feels the same way about us as His children?

Jesus tells the Pharisees in Matthew 23:26 “first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.”

God is not concerned about physical dirt, but about those things that defile our spirits. He’s looking on the inside.

He loves us no matter our condition, but what would it please Him to see?

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.     (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  (James 4:8)

He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  (Psalm 24:4-5)

What is clean in our Father’s eyes is a pure heart, one that is not double-minded or lifting itself up to falsehood. In other words, He wants our hearts to be purely His.

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  (Hebrews 9:14)

But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  (1 John 1:7)

God has facilitated my cleansing through the sacrifice of His son. It is up to me to walk with Him daily with a purely devoted heart. By focusing on Him, the filth of the world stays far from my heart. I know that is what God wants to see.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10)

After returning from camp, it felt so good to be home, holding my son close, and just enjoying everything about him. I want my heavenly Father to look upon me that same way. I can’t wait to be on the other end of that embrace one day, with Him holding me close and saying “Welcome Home.”

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.  (Revelation 22:14)