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I read to help myself think and thinking is enjoyable to me. For these reasons, I found Dan DeWitt’s new book an interesting journey to think deeply about life in a fallen world…how we got here and how we navigate it and thrive in it. This is my first read from this author, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I found his writing very honest, interesting, and hopeful. I especially liked his illustrations. One of my favorites was his use of an example from A Christmas Carol where Scrooge meets two children produced from his meanness called Ignorance and Want. He then uses that idea to show us two children which are the offspring of humanity’s evil called Guilt and Shame. He describes the “children”:

To liken Guilt and Shame to the children in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Guilt is the girl and Shame is the boy. And as the ghost says, “Beware of them both, but most of all beware the boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom.” What Guilt begins, Shame expands. Doom is written on his forehead.

No one can share in your guilt, but many can share in your shame. The child whose father is imprisoned, the wife whose husband is unfaithful, the daughter with an abusive mother— they all share in the shame. They feel as though their self- worth is lessened. Shame wraps its arms around their ankles tightly—allowing them to walk, but never to run.

Good stuff. I recommend this book…it is an easy read as the chapters are fairly concise. I think it will encourage you to follow Jesus in a fallen world.

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Ray and I took the 28 day whole food, plant-based diet challenge and a few people have asked for info on some of our resources. The first thing you need to do this is motivation. It is quite the change to the standard American diet. Our motivation was health more than weight although weight loss is always appreciated. We kind of just jumped in after watching Forks Over Knives and didn’t plan that much. That kind of stressed me out when I went to the grocery store that Monday evening. If you get a plan, I think it will make the first week easier. You kind of learn as you go. I’m going to list our resources under categories so you can go to the area you are interested in.

Motivation To Get You Started

Forks Over Knives documentary on Netflix (2+ hours)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbXlzzp3guE (TED talk by Rip Esselstyn – 17 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXXXygDRyBU (Dr. Michael Greger – How Not to Die, 1 hour 40 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n01abT7O_Kk (an interview with Rip…41 min)

Websites For Info/Recipes/Guidance

http://www.forksoverknives.com

cookingwithplants.com

vegancoach.com

ohsheglows.com

Website for scientific data on plant-based diet in relation to all kinds of things

nutritionfacts.org

Our Sample Meals for a Day

Breakfast – a bowl of mixed cereals, shredded wheat, Kashi, and oats topped with walnuts, banana, strawberry, blueberry. Almond milk if you like cereal with milk (I don’t, so I skipped it) – We ate this every day for 28 days and I never got tired of it. It was delicious.

Lunch – Sandwich (Dave’s Killer Bread (whole grain), tomato, avocado, spinach), some multigrain chips like (Milton’s gluten-free baked chips) and hummus. – A lot of times we had leftovers from the previous week’s dinners.

Dinner – Thai Noodles with peanut sauce and broccoli and a spinach salad with balsamic vinegar only (no oil) or a veggie pizza

Specific Recipes We Liked

http://ohsheglows.com/2016/02/01/next-level-vegan-enchiladas/ – easily the best dinner I made. Delicious.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/229156/zesty-quinoa-salad/

brown rice, pinto beans, tomatoes, avocado, green onions, salsa

https://cookingwithplants.com/recipe/creamy-avocado-cashew-pesto-spaghetti/

Pizza – Mama Mary’s whole grain wheat crust, fire engine 2 sauce (from Whole Foods), veggies of your choosing, ground cashews and nutritional yeast for the “cheese”.

stir fry with brown rice and veggies…(no oil…use veg broth)

salad dressings – use tahini and lemon juice, or balsamic vinegar, or liquid amino (tastes like soy sauce)

Restaurants That Had Options

Chipotle – salad with brown rice, veggies and salsa and guacamole

Jason’s  Deli – Zucchini Grillini and fruit (wo the cheese)

HG Sply – Lots of options! Vegan queso! Quinoa burger

R Taco (per Randy Meador) I haven’t been yet. =)

Whole Foods salad bar

 

 

 

 

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Pronouns

Some time back I received a letter from someone that really landed wrong. It’s possible you could read this letter and not feel what I felt. The letter was full of appreciation and words that seemed kind. My husband read the letter and didn’t think it sounded too bad.  Why did it land wrong on me? The lack of personal pronouns. The letter was filled with short phrases without personal pronouns. Compare these two sentences: Appreciate you guys. I appreciate you guys. The only difference is the word “I”. It can make a difference though. What does a lack of personal pronouns communicate? Well, it could mean several things. I know I thought in the case of the letter, it meant that they were purposely communicating their lack of true warmth. I sensed they wanted me to know they didn’t really care. I might be wrong, but it did put the thought in my head.

Maybe the lack of personal pronouns is just a casual writing style. I know I can be prone to writing in a casual way. In the right setting when you are expressing casual things, it may be perfectly appropriate. Another reason people speak without personal pronouns is that they are in a hurry. I often catch myself responding to something serious in this casual way. Have you ever responded to a serious request with one word? How often I’ve jotted out a message of ,”Praying!” And I do pray…but how much more impactful is the sentence, “I am praying for you.”? Or maybe I say, “So sorry!”, instead of “I’m so sorry!” When you take the time to invest yourself into your sentences, it communicates care. It communicates love. It says, “I’m in this with you.”

God is all about the personal pronouns. He invests Himself in us.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous righthand.”

The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

“Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord GOD.

Has there ever been a greater mismatched pair than God and His people? Let’s see… The immense, all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, perfect God has chosen weak, sinful, ungrateful people with whom to give Himself.  And He doesn’t just redeem us to save us in general. If He were to save us and then send us to some remote place away from Himself to live, He would be more than generous. But God does more than that. He redeems us to bring us to Himself. He gives Himself to unworthy creatures.

I want to be like Christ. I want to invest myself in others. Maybe the start to engaging my heart is to take care how I speak to others.

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1287

That’s my number. It’s not a number with a lot of cachet…but it’s mine. Let me explain. For some reason, I have been wanting to develop the discipline of writing. Yesterday, one of the writers I follow on twitter…We’ll call him Jeff.. issued a challenge to write 500 words every day for 31 days. Admittedly, when I decided to jump in without thinking it through properly, I had no idea of the commitment required to write 500 words. It wasn’t until I wrote my first post for the challenge yesterday that I was even cognizant of my word count. Actually, I didn’t even make 500 words. Trying not to be a legalist, I submitted my post anyway. The idea behind the challenge is that to develop the craft of writing you actually have to write. Seems logical. I know I always need some kind of pressure to change anything in my life. I figured if I committed to do something, maybe that would be enough reason to actually write. We’ll see about that. =) One of the first steps in the challenge was to link up my blog with the list of people doing it. That’s where the number comes in… My blog is the 1287th blog in the list. I was amazed that so many people were doing the challenge. To see more about the challenge, go here http://my500words.com/

As I was reflecting on why I feel the need to write, I came up with a few thoughts. First, it is not any desire to publish a book or even to be read. I usually don’t tell anyone I’ve written and I’m always a little surprised when anyone reads it. The best reason I can come up with for why I feel the desire to write is that I expect it to help me think. John Piper once said that he doesn’t know what he thinks until he writes. I get that. The act of writing disciplines my mind to decide what I really think. It’s all too easy for me to be lazy and not crystallize what I think. Ultimately, we act on what we think. I believe living a life of purposeful action is a good thing and I need help to do it.

One of the directives on building the habit of writing is that you are supposed to just write and not edit. That’s hard for me. I’ve noticed that when I do write, I take a lot of time to do it. Now, that’s not a bad thing in general. If you are going to take the time to say something, you ought to try to say it well. But because it takes me so long, I can use that as a reason not to write. I think just trying to get thoughts down on “paper”, without editing the heck out of it will help me. Writing every day will also make me stretch in regards to what I’m writing. I can’t wait to see what comes out when I “have to” write.

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No Words

Scripture

Psalm 19

Observation

God speaks because He is loving to speak of what is truly lovely.

Application

I’ve been quiet recently. I mean…I’m always kind of quiet. My nature is to not speak unless the situation seems to demand it. I think I’ve always taken to heart the Abraham Lincoln quote…”Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” That seems like it should be a proverb. Maybe there are already enough proverbs about guarding your tongue. Anyway…back to my thought. My quiet has been self-imposed and I’m not sure why except that something in me felt the need to withdraw from places where I used to speak;  places like facebook, twitter, this blog.  Today, as I read Psalm 19, I was struck by something very obvious…but yet today it meant something personal. The Psalm is about the revelation of God through nature and through His Word. Today the “speaking” words were jumping out at me.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

Then…the second half of the psalm is about His law, statutes, precepts, commands, fear, and decrees. All things we can’t know unless He speaks. Then…the conclusion…

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

And so the revelation this morning was our God speaks. We have no way of knowing Him if He doesn’t speak. He’s spoken to us through His creation and His Word. Jesus Himself is known as the Word (John 1:1). So, it gets personal for me because I’m not speaking. I think an ongoing pattern of non-speaking is sin. At least, I think non-speaking for me at this time is sin. How can I not speak, when He has shown me great and wonderful things.  I know the King. Seeing beauty compels me to speak. And as long as my speaking is acceptable in His sight, then I have nothing to fear from speaking.

Prayer

Lord, You are MY rock. Lord you are MY redeemer. Thank you for personally reaching down into the muck and mire and setting my feet upon a rock. THE rock. Jesus. The rock of the object of my confession of faith. Jesus is who He said He was.  Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Praise God.

 

 

 

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Worship Him

Scripture

John 9:38 – He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Observation

True belief always leads to worship.

Application

How do we know if we believe? We worship. If eternal life hinges on belief,  having some sign to know if we truly believe is very helpful. So, what does it mean to worship? If you think of it in terms other than God…and someone was described as worshiping  money or worshiping her husband…we would say that they spent all their efforts and energies towards that “thing”. Their thoughts are directed to the thing. Their time is directed towards that thing. Their actions are directed towards that thing. They lose themselves in that thing. The word “worship” actually means “worth-ship”. What do you ascribe “worth” to? Anything you value, you pursue. And you wouldn’t only worship something on one day of the week. Who is said to worship money who only pursues money on Mondays? Ridiculous. No…it is a continuing pursuit and it happens all the time. It flows out of a heart that is enraptured.

Do you worship Jesus? Really? Don’t deceive yourself. There is no point to that. One day you will stand before Him and you don’t want to hear the words, “I never knew you; depart from me…” If you really don’t know whether or not you worship Jesus, ask someone who knows you well. They can probably give you some insight into what is evident from an onlooker. If they can’t tell you are consumed with Jesus, maybe it is time to take a look inward. We all have bouts of blindness to true beauty. Maybe your lack of worship is more like cataracts than complete blindness. What’s keeping you from seeing Him? Ask Him to remove it. The remedy for unbelief is always the same. Confession. Repentance. Tell Him you don’t believe. Tell him you are blind. Ask Him to show Himself beautiful to you. Be proactive…start looking for Him. It’s the only remedy. Thankfully, He is willing. “… the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

Prayer

Father, draw me to yourself again. You are the only one worthy of my worship.

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Sight

Scripture

John 9:1 – As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.

Observation

Jesus sees us so that we see Him.

Application

From the very start of this story of Jesus’ encounter with the man blind from birth, I was struck with the idea that “Jesus saw him”. Have you ever felt unseen? It’s an awful feeling. The classic line from the movie “Fatal Attraction” is, “I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan”. I still think of that line every time I see Glenn Close. Creepy. Anyway… I digress. This idea of being ignored or unseen hits at our very core. Some would even say it is better to be hated than ignored. I’m still thinking on whether or not I agree with that one. =)

As the story unfolds and Jesus heals the man from blindness, the people start to question whether this really is the man who has been blind from birth. People have walked by this blind man for years, and don’t even know for sure if he is the same man. In other words, they looked at him so little as they passed by, they didn’t recognize him now that he was in front of them. I wonder how long he had been begging. The story only tells us that he is a “man” and that he was blind from birth and that his parents said “he was of age”. I’ve got a feeling he wasn’t a young man. Day after day, people passed him by. Maybe sometimes they gave a few coins, if their consciences pricked them enough. Some saw…but most just didn’t look, and kept walking. How often I am like those people who don’t see. But the point of this story is not to exhort us to “see people”. The point of this story is that there is One who does see…and He makes all the difference.

I’m not one who is overly concerned with what people think of me. That should be fairly obvious by my appearance. =) But, recently I have been struggling with it more than I should. There are people…probably more than a few…who don’t think well of me. Overall, I think I don’t care much as long as the Lord is not displeased with me, except…and this is a big “except”… it keeps me from realizing my hopes and dreams for my life in regards to how I am used by God. Now, if you are a student of the Bible, that last sentence should cause you to pause. “My hopes and dreams for my life”. Ugh. This kind of thinking doesn’t line up well with Scripture. The Bible responds with, “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” I have no right to demand my hopes and dreams be fulfilled for my life. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having hopes and dreams…but they ultimately have to be surrendered to Christ. Whatever He gives, we take with grateful and thankful hearts.

So, back to the passage. This is what God showed me this morning. When Jesus is responding to the disciples as to why this man was born blind, he says that it was so “the works of God might be displayed in him.” At first reading, I’m thinking Jesus means that the work is to remove the blindness. In other words, the man is born blind so that God can remove the blindness. To put it in terms relating to me, my “blindness” is that I’m stuck in a less than satisfying situation so that God can put me into a satisfying situation.  When I write it that way, I realize that’s just the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel is the heretical idea that God is my butler, giving me what I want. But God is too good for that. He doesn’t give us what we want. He gives us what is good. What is  good?  Good is defined as seeing Jesus. That’s why God is not evil to give us hard things. If the hard things help us see Jesus, then even the hard things serve us for our good. Jesus says it very clearly as recorded in John 6:29. “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” The work is to believe in Jesus. The work is not a good deed or a miracle or any other situational outcome. The work is believing Jesus is who he says he is.  Jesus sees us so that we can see Him. That is always good. No…we are not ignored. Hardly. The King of the universe is El Roi, the God who sees me.

Prayer

Father, thank you for my situation. I do repent of my grumbling. Thank you for seeing me. Thank you that You seeing me allows me to see you. I most desire to see you, Jesus. I want to know You and it is not too much to suffer for the outcome of seeing You more. I do believe. Help my unbelief. When I slip back into grumbling, please help me repent and see You afresh. Thank you for Your  patience.

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Come Meet Jesus

Scripture

John 4:39-42

39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.

Observation

Our goal in testifying about our encounter with Jesus is to lead others to encounter Him.

Application

There is no substitute for experiencing something personally over just hearing about it or seeing it from a distance. This past summer I had the opportunity to travel with some friends to London, Paris and Switzerland. It truly was a trip of a lifetime. I had many highlight experiences on that vacation, but one was attending a church service in Westminster Abbey. I’ve heard of it and seen it on tv, but to actually sit in a pew myself to drink in the beauty was completely different. I was able to listen with my own ears the enchanting sounds of the choir voices echoing off the vaulted ceiling of the thousand year old structure. It felt like a small taste of heaven on earth. Some people are good at describing things with words. They can paint a picture and make you feel like you are standing there. But even with the greatest skill, words and still pictures or no match for hearing with your own ears and seeing with your own eyes.

If a great cathedral can’t really be captured with words and cameras, how much greater is the disparity when talking about meeting the God of the universe? How much more there is to explore when considering our Lord has a mind, will and emotions. Our own experiences of Him should be what fuels us to speak so that others will be curious to come and see for themselves. And if they are curious, where will they find him? To be sure, the Lord can be found in the things He has created. The heavens declare the glory of God. But there is a special revelation of Him. The testimony of the Word made flesh is recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the pages of the Bible. These are not mere words on a page. This is the revelation of the mind, will and emotions of the Lord. How precious is the word of God. The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.

Prayer

Father, our desire is for others to meet you and see you for themselves. As we leave today for Quito, we ask you to magnify your great name through this team. Give us many opportunities to speak of you and show by our actions what you’re like. Today we are trusting that you have many people in the city of Quito. Your Word accomplishes what you send it to do. Be pleased to bring people to yourself to taste and see that you are good.

 

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Working Together

Scripture

John 4:36-38

36 “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

Observation

Entering others’ labor to witness about Jesus as Messiah increases joy.

Application

In the last post I said that Jesus, when saying, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” he meant that doing the will of His Father was what energized him. He said, “Look up! The fields are white for harvest!”. I do think the harvest, Jesus is referring to is the spiritual harvest of human souls who will be worshipers. The parable of the wheat and tares comes to mind. The wheat represents those with saving faith: true worshipers. The tares represents those who have not willingly bowed their knee to the True King: those gathered for hell. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. But now, Jesus specifically says that we participate in this great harvest of souls as a community project. One sows and another reaps.

Sowing is hard work. A lot of times, the ground is hard. You’ve got to do a lot of work to even have a place to drop the seed in. It would be easy to think that if someone reaped what they did not sow, the sower would be resentful, not joyful.  Jesus says the sower and reaper rejoice together. The explanation then is the produce is for the owner of the field, not the laborers. God is the owner of the field and is worthy of true worshipers. There is joy in that. The worshipers have been plucked from the fire to worship the King, and there is joy in that.

At the end of the last college football season, I received a pair of Cotton Bowl tickets to see my Aggies play. I would have had great joy to watch the game on tv with my hubby and watch Johnny Manziel destroy the Sooners. But there was a joy inexpressable to go to the game and stand and yell my guts out next to people who also loved them. I love that God has made this life of the great commission a community project. We will go to Ecuador and enter into others’ labor. That will bring us and them great joy. We see the same truth. Joy is multiplied when people see the same truth. God is worthy of worshipers.

Prayer

Father, thank you that you let us work alongside others to bring glory to your great name. May we each encourage the other to press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Food

Scripture

John 4:31-35

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.

Observation

Being about the work of the Father gives life sustaining energy

Application

It is interesting reading verses in context and not pulled out in isolation. If I were to hear verse 35 out of context, what comes to mind is the urgency to give the gospel to a ready people. “The fields are white for harvest”. In other words, it sounds like Jesus is saying, “Give the gospel because people are ready to be converted”, like the woman at the well. And because we do know that is a Biblical truth, we don’t even question that that is Jesus’ meaning in THIS passage. But the context here is that Jesus and the disciples are talking about food. They urge him to eat. Why? Because he’s human and needs food for his health and to have the energy to keep moving. Bodies are designed to need food. God gives us such great physical illustrations for the spiritual life. The energy food provides runs out and we need to take in more. Jesus equates doing the will of God with food. In other words, doing the will of God is the nourishment you need for your spiritual life to flourish. Let me say it another way: Doing God’s work is for YOUR benefit, not because He needs your help.

Have you ever felt spiritual burnout? This passage should make us wonder how all this fits together. If Jesus is saying that doing the work of God gives energy, then spiritual burnout makes no sense. But, I know from experience that it happens. What’s going on? Well, too often we are doing what WE think is the will of God and it isn’t…at least it isn’t for us in that moment. To be sure, sharing the gospel is the will of God. Helping the needy is the will of God. Working hard is the will of God. Rest is also the will of God in its time. The overarching “will of God” that puts everything in place is that we are to glorify Him. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. As long as our aim is that God be seen as magnificent…and I would submit that proper rest magnifies the truth that God doesn’t need me to run the universe, then even rest glorifies God.

Prayer

Father, thank you that you have wired the universe to operate in such a way that when I obey You, I am nourished. Your ways are so perfect that you can help others and help me, all the while glorifying yourself, if I will obey. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or Who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

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