Building by Fortifying

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB

There are two powerful movements pervading our society: Eating Healthy and Eating Everything. Both have a huge following and both create a domino effect on our bodies and minds. Many who are enslaved to the Eating Everything group have become victims of the Medical profession by giving up their body parts through Bariatric surgery. As a Registered Nurse, I was required to study the subject of Anatomy and Physiology for one year. I took an oath to do no harm to my patients and to provide education on preventive and disease management levels. Therefore, as a healthcare professional, I am truly disturbed by the quick fix method of the partial removal of the digestive system for monetary gain.

Since the age of 11, I have been a member of the Eating Everything group. I love all the fruits and vegetables because I was given healthy meals during my childhood. However, I was raised with the concept of self-gratification. My love for desserts loaded with calories and sugar, along with potato chips, candy, cookies, and ice cream created the desire to consume more calories than my body was equipped to handle. As a result, I continued to gain weight and developed high blood pressure and prediabetes at a young age.

Last year, my physician recommended a gastric sleeve procedure. I immediately contacted my insurance company who informed me that I met the necessary criteria and it would be a covered procedure. The preparation to surrender part of my digestive system brought mixed feelings. I thought that I was ready to do anything to lose weight. Imagine my surprise when the pre-surgical prep required eating a strict diet with a reduced amount to the size of a small jar of baby food. My mind transitioned from that of a helpless patient to the educated mind of a nurse. I felt betrayed by my physician and the entire medical profession who supports the quick fix method. However, my mind was in turmoil, and I had to make a decision-surgery or drastically change my unhealthy eating habits. I began to cry and pray. I confessed to God that I was enslaved to my appetite and had uncontrollable desires for unhealthy food. I didn’t know where and how to start my transition from Eating everything to Eating healthy. But, God had already started working on my behalf.

Due to a 40-year nursing tenure, I have End Stage Osteoarthritis in both of my knees which translates into insufficient cartilage between the bones. I was in pain daily with limited mobility. I started Physical Therapy and that is when God intervened. My Physical Therapist has a Ph.D. and promotes Eating for health to her clients. She provided valuable information on the impact of losing weight to alleviate the chronic pain and stress on my joints. During my initial evaluation, Susan recommended the book-Eat for Health by Joel Fuhrman MD. After sharing my struggle, she asked me to wait a minute while she went to her office, and returned with a copy of the book as a gift.

The great news is that I have learned discipline in an area in my life, that I never thought was possible. My taste buds have been retrained. My out of control desire for self-gratification for food and spending money has been eliminated. I still love cheesecake; but, I no longer must have it or possess the “die trying” to get it mindset. The struggle is real. I still must pray for victory on a daily basis. I am only halfway to my weight loss goal. However, I am free of pain, my waist measurement is 10 inches smaller, and I feel great.

I truly believe in Divine intervention-we don’t have, because we don’t ask.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Dear God, Please help me to be an overcomer of self-gratification in all areas of my life. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

A New Person

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Our thoughts determine our actions. If we are shrouded by a negative mindset then our spoken words will be degrading. Most of us have been exposed to individuals who bring the dark rain cloud into every situation; their presence results in a sense of dread to others.

What happens when you realize that you are that person? Acknowledge the mental and emotional pain and dysfunctional environmental influences that have shaped your character to only see or feel gloom and doom. You may justify your mindset by proclaiming that you are a realist or “it is what it is” or it’s the truth. The truth can be expressed in a different manner: Have you thought about the impact on others when you approach life without gratitude?

The aftermath of a thunderstorm or lightning bolt storm usually reveals a beautiful rainbow. Roses which are the most highly desired flower have painful, piercing thorns. God has allowed beauty to remain on this earth in spite of the devastation of sin.

If you are unable to see the beauty in life, the only solution is for you to ask God to transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Prayer for Today: Dear God, Please help me to change the gloom and doom mindset that I am burdened with. I want to be transformed to know your will and think good thoughts which are pleasing in your sight. Amen

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Don’t Let Go

Practical Messages for Impractical Times
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me. John 10:28

Anxieties and worries should never enter the mind of those who believe in God. The Bible records that Jesus always met the physical needs of those He encountered. The miraculous account of five loaves and two fish (John 6:1-14) used to feed a hungry multitude demonstrates Jesus’ compassion and love.

The same Jesus who performed countless miracles in biblical times is still available to supply all of our needs. He possesses the only hand that will never let go of our hand. When we hold onto anxieties or worries, it is because we are not holding on to the hand of Jesus. We have placed a burden upon ourselves that God never intended for us to have.

Contemplate on the promise in Matthew 6: 24-34. If one of your friends told you not to worry about paying your rent for the next two months while you are unemployed, you would feel relieved. Would disbelief cloud your mind regarding your friend’s promise? Yet, we let anxiety and worry which stem from unbelief in God, destroy our faith and peace.

God always keeps His promises. His Son-Jesus is our advocate, our Intercessor, our Savior, and our Provider. Place your anxieties, worries, and disbelief into His hands and be transformed into a faithful follower of the only one who will always provide.

Dear God, Please help me to always hold on to the hands of your Son-Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

You are Not Alone

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering. Yet, Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has born? But, even if that were possible, I would not forget you. Isaiah 49:13-15 NLT

Keep your life free from the Love of Money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5 CSB

Reflection on the goodness of God is the only way to prevent discouragement from taking a stronghold in our lives. It is so easy to forget to be thankful when trials and tribulations are hitting us with full force. As believers, we fail to do our part by praying without ceasing, studying the Word of God, and applying the Word to our lives. It is evident why we cannot grow spiritually and be overcomers.

It is God who allows the trials to enter our life. There is a purpose (Study the book of Job) to every hardship we endure. We gain character building, an increase of our faith in God, and loss of pride and self-sufficiency.

We are never alone. God says that although a mother may forget her child, He will never forget us or leave us. We are unable to believe in God’s promises when we are unaware of His commitment. It is imperative that we study on a daily basis. The Bible is nonfiction; it contains historical documentation of the struggles of life and the miraculous deliverance from God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

If we say we love God, then we must believe that He is always there. We are truly-never alone.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

The Deepest Love

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV) 1 Corinthians 13:6-8

In our sinful natures, we are unable to meet the criteria for love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13:6-8. It is the always and the never that we are unable to fulfill. There are a lot of acts that I have made a conscious decision to do or not to do; but, truthfully, I have not reached the goal of loving others, as God requires.

The first step to possessing unconditional love is to pray for the understanding of God’s love. Even the Apostle Paul in his writings emphasized the depth of God’s love.

“I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:17-18 NIV

The agape love described in Corinthians can only be found (and attained) through God and received through Jesus Christ. Loving, as God requires is not an impossible dream. When our relationship with God is rock solid, our character is changed and we begin to act, think, and love deeply as our Heavenly Father intended.

Prayer for Today: Dear God, Please help me to understand the depth of your love so that I may love you and others as you command. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Complete Trust

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

“There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection]” 1 John 4:18 (AMPC).

Children learn to trust or distrust their parents or caregivers based on their experience. If lovingly raised, they will grow and develop-mentally and emotionally-with the capacity to have healthy relationships with God and others. When the environment involves violence, neglect, or abuse the child matures into an adult with low self-esteem and the inability to trust. There is always an underlying suspicious mindset toward others, in spite of the love they receive.

Unfortunately, the impact of a dysfunctional upbringing impacts our ability to trust God. We are never able to fully give Him our problems, or our hopes and dreams. We attempt to make plans for our lives without asking or waiting for Divine intervention. We live in fear. Fear is the breeding ground for mistrust. Mistrust is the gateway to discouragement and depression.

Talking to God through prayer is the only viable solution. An honest confession of admitting that we do not know how to trust God is the first step to victory. Verbalizing our desire to trust God, naming our fears, sharing our hopes and dreams invites our Heavenly Father to work in our lives. Letting go of discouragement allows us to see life from a spiritual perspective and to hold on to the promises in the Word of God.

Let go of the burdens that have weighed heavily on you since childhood. Trusting God has perks; He is never defeated and you are guaranteed victory when you give all to Him.

Prayer for Today: Dear God, Please teach me to trust you. I am tired of failure, mistrust, and discouragement. Please deliver me from my past, I am ready to trust you with my life. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Secret Stillness

Thought for today….

Having a secret stillness before God means deliberately shutting the door on our emotions and remembering Him. God is in secret, and He sees us from “the secret place”— He does not see us as other people do, or as we see ourselves. When we truly live in “the secret place,” it becomes impossible for us to doubt God. We become more sure of Him than of anyone or anything else. Enter into “the secret place,” and you will find that God was right in the middle of your everyday circumstances all the time. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless you learn to open the door of your life completely and let God in from your first waking moment of each new day, you will be working on the wrong level throughout the day. But if you will swing the door of your life fully open and “pray to your Father who is in the secret place,” every public thing in your life will be marked with the lasting imprint of the presence of God.

My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers