When the heat of summer comes, I often find myself drifting back to childhood memories. One of those crazy memories involves sneaking to the bomb shelter of one of my buddies and eating sour pickles and mustard. We would eat them till we were sick.

For some reason — I'm sure one of our readers will tell me why! — I've always craved pickles in the summer. I would get hot and sweaty and then eat those pickles like candy. They were cold, crisp, made me shudder, and I had a friend who loved to do the same. When we had downed a couple of them, we would then dip them in mustard and eat more of them. Umm, umm, good! Of course the thought of that doesn't sound real good to me now, but back then, with a good buddy in the storm cellar, it was super cool!

Isn't it amazing what we find ourselves eating? I'm not sure pickles and mustard are particularly bad for us like a lot of food we down, but they sure aren't a well-balanced meal. However, that seldom matters. We have things we like and we eat them because we like them even if they are harmful to us. We develop habits that make grabbing fast food a convenient alternative to eating proper food. We train ourselves to want that bedtime snack. We get used to that extra soft drink between meals. We learn to get that extra big size of fries with our burger. We eat pizza till we are ready to burst simply because we can.

What makes these bad food rampages particularly harmful is that they replace the good foods we need. Instead of getting nutrients, vitamins, and needed foods, we take in junk loaded with fat, sugar, and calories by the truckload. The sick thing is that I'm getting hungry just thinking about all of this bad for me food!

Even worse, I believe, is our habit of feeding our hearts and minds trash instead of wholesome and holy nutrients. Our spiritual nutrition makes our physical nutrition look exemplary. Now isn't that scary!

Not only do we dump a huge amount of trash into our spiritual system that dulls our senses to sexual immorality, vile speech, abusive language, and perverse humor. At the same time, we neglect feeding our deepest selves on the truth of God and opening ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit as we sing, pray, and open the Word of God. Much of our spiritual intake is really the equivalent of faith fast food — full of the Christian's version of fat, calories, and sugar all packaged in a way to make us feel spiritual about our already entrenched points of view and our over-indulgent and worldly lifestyles. We're eating pickles and mustard instead of joining God at the table of truth, transformation, and grace.

So what do we do?

Let's not choose pickles and mustard over real nourishment.
Knowing what to do is not hard. It's a lot like physical nutrition in that way. The issue isn't our knowing what to do; it's actually doing it. We need to open the Word of God and ask the Holy Spirit to use it on our minds and hearts. We need to open our hearts and pour them out to God, trusting that the Holy Spirit will make known our deepest needs. We need to sing - along by ourselves with the radio or CD player and with other Christians - knowing that the Holy Spirit fills us and inspires us when we do these things. We need to meditate on the Word and the concerns of God, knowing that as we apply ourselves to these things, the Spirit of God transforms us and sanctifies our thinking.

It's summer time. So often we take off time from work and in the process take off time from God. We slip back into habits that pull us away from our first love and rob us of our spiritual vitality and vigor. Let's not choose pickles and mustard over real nourishment.

Resources for you in your spiritual development are listed in the links below. We encourage you to get involved with a daily Bible reading plan, a daily email devotional, and utilize Bible study resources that are readily available to you through Heartlight.