Monday, August 31, 2009

What's your obsession?

As I mentioned before, I'm reading Sam Storms' One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God. Great book. Highly recommend it.

Storms pins the cause of lackluster faith and boredom with Christianity on our inability to see past petty pleasures to the encompassing greatness of God. We have no sense of anticipation for Christ's return because we have not come to love and yearn for the Bridegroom Himself and the future He's secured for us. Instead we muddle around in the mire of earth, thinking God is pleased with our little trinkets and tokens. Our hearts are not bound to our Savior in the glory of heaven, hence we have little (if any) understanding of David's declaration:

"You make know to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Psalm 16 is delicious. Brimming with sweet communion and long held trust, it is a love poem, a declaration of enduring, passionate commitment on behalf of both the speaker and the hearer, the poet and His God. David was a shepherd. He'd sat on the hills of Bethlehem and seen the wonders of the stars. He'd heard the stories of God's faithfulness passed down through the generations. He knew that the pleasures of God far outweighed the pleasures of sin. He was obsessed with the true beauty of his God.

I want this kind of passion for God; mere obedience void of emotion is not enough. There is something more spiritual, more Spirit induced, about it. Storms quotes Mark Bickle, saying, "It take God to love God."

"Loving God requires a loving God. We will be passionate for him only so far as he is passionate for us. To love God as we were made to love him requires and antecedent love in God for those whom he has made. He must take the initiative. He must reveal the depths and extent of his commitment to us and the delight in his heart for broken people. Only then will our slumbering and self-centered souls be aroused to seek him with all our hearts and relish the revelation of himself in the person of his Son, the man Christ Jesus." ~Sam Storms

Do we understand the passion of God for us? I know I don't; I haven't been looking. But One Thing has pulled back the curtain a bit more for me and challenged me to "Taste and see the the Lord is good" and know that "His love endures forever."

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:13

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith..." Hebrews 12:1-2

" the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above..." Colossians 3:1-2

"...look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen..." 2 Corinthians 4:18

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's Complicated

"Round and round she goes; where she stops, nobody knows." This little ditty tends to encapsulate my life. Imagine a less funny Lucile Ball, jumping head-first into the latest idea on the "best way" to live the Christian life. The result is the same--a complete mess--but nobody's laughing.

A very wise friend of mine put her velvet hammer to me the other day about, as she put it, "Making things too complicated." She pointed out that I tend to gravitate towards "fringe folks" with a lot of rules for life that are not biblically prescribed. Rules like parent like this, wear this, eat this, etc. I thought I was just searching for the "right way" to do things, but my friend pointed out that I'm much more of a people pleaser than I thought I was.

We become like those we spend time with. Why? It's more than just picking up traits via familiarity; we want to be accepted, to be in the circle. Over the years I've changed everything from my hairstyle to my peanut butter brand in order to be loved by others. I thought I wanted it easy: just tell me the rules and let me follow them for a good result. Until it gets to hard. Or doesn't work. Then I'll switch programs. But that's just the problem. I switch programs. Instead of being satisfied with what the Lord has for me and my people, I want to buy into someone else's life.

I need to figure out what all of this means. I know it means setting aside other people's expectations of my food, housekeeping, and child rearing, as well as not burdening others with my expectations of them. It means following the Lord in loving people more than rules. It means bowing before a God Who is so much bigger than law. It means much grace and fewer gurus.

God said to the exiles in Babylon, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). Can I not believe that He has His own crazy plan for my life, too?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Real (Junk) Food

After years of consuming stuff from a box we've been switching to real food, you know, things that come out of the ground or from an animal. Real food taste different. It has more texture and deeper flavor and, for the most part, does not turn to mush in your mouth.

The question we've faced from our kids and even from our own "inner children" is, "But does it taste good?" I can confidently tell you, "It depends." Some things are just too strange for our tastebuds. Some things take getting used to. Other things are amazing from the get-go.

I get most of my recipes from other bloggers and today I figured I'd share the wealth by listing some of our favorite real junk food.

Alton Brown has the best recipe for onion dip. Move over Heluva Good and pass the kettle chips!

Kimi's "Mounds" Bars are my husband's favorite candy treat. They're very rich; I put mine in mini muffin tins.

Who can argue with oatmeal that tastes like peanut butter cookies? I swap sucanat for the brown sugar but otherwise make Lynn's Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal as written.

We had Laura's whole wheat cinnamon rolls for Bubba's birthday breakfast. They also make a delicious desert. Yum.

A while back we switched from soda pop to Naleczowianka sparkling water with a splash of juice or a slice of lemon. Over the last few months we've taken a liking to kombucha, a fermented tea explained by Betsy Pryor. It's fizzy and tart and probiotic to boot!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I had to look it up. This was a word I'd never heard before but its contextual usage by Sam Storms told me it was not complimentary.

"I don't believe it's possible to truly understand and appreciate the great things of God without being stirred with passion and zeal and joy and delight and fervor. Only obdurate spiritual blindness prevents the human soul from being greatly impressed and powerfully moved by the revelation of such eternal splendor." ~Sam Storms, One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God

Yet as I read and study and plead with God for relief of the dryness in my soul I remain obdurate. Hardened. Resistant to persuasion or softening influences. "God, show me your glory," is a constant cry of my heart that seems to echo like footsteps on a marble floor in an empty, quiet, massive room. "How can I know so much about You and still have to ask, 'Where are You, God?'"

"Worship in eminently practical because adoring and affectionate praise is what restores our sense of ultimate value. It exposes the worthless and temporary and tawdry stuff of this world. Worship energizes the heart to seek satisfaction in Jesus alone. In worship we are reminded that this world is fleeting and unworthy of our heart's devotion. Worship connects our souls with the transcendent power of God and awakens in us appreciation for true beauty. It pulls back the veil of deception and exposes the ugliness of sin and Satan. Worship is a joyful rebuke of the world. When our hearts are riveted on Jesus everything else in life becomes so utterly unnecessary and we become far less demanding." ~Sam Storms, One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God

I was taking my groceries up from the car last night when from the driveway comes a cry of, "Mom! Come quickly!" I thought someone was hurt or another red fox was in our yard. No, my son had seen the greatness of God. Last night was dark and clear and he wanted to point out the big dipper. The stars were amazing! My cry of, "Where are you, God?" was not only answered, but had been there since the beginning of time. I just wasn't looking past the end of myself.

"O, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?" ~Psalm 8:1-4

I've been missing out on worship because I've been obdurate. I've chosen not to bend the knee but, like the Pharisees, requested a sign. My focus has been on my dryness instead of His rivers of living water. Yet, true to His merciful character, He is opening my eyes to the signs He's already given. Romans 1 says that His divine nature can be seen in creation. I want to suck in the beauty of God, to revel in His majestic display of His glory, and to be changed.

(Photos taken at Cuyahoga Valley National Park)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The magical fruit

I never used to eat beans except the green variety coated in mushroom soup and covered with french fried onion rings. Then I met the sweetest boy from Texas...and married him! Let me tell you, this girl from Ohio was shocked to find they eat all sorts of beans and the cardboardiest cornbread you've ever tasted not just as a run-of-the-mill fare, but on holidays, too. So I've learned to take the sugar out of my cornbread and smack it on the lips of my boy, and cook up everything from pintos to black eyed peas. (Sorry Dallas family, I have yet to embraced the greens. Yuk.) Not only is it tasty but frugal, as well. Because we eat so many, I soak dry beans and cook a couple pounds at a time in my crock pot and freeze them, saving myself a few more pennies, but canned will work just as well. This was today's dinner:

Black Beans and Rice

2 cups water
1 cup brown rice

1/4 lb. bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 banana peppers, chopped
2-15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1-14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice
1-1/2 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Put water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add rice and cook for 45 minutes while you chop veggies for beans and make cornbread.

In a large skillet, cook bacon until lightly browned. Add onions, garlic and banana peppers. Cook until softened. Add beans, tomatoes and seasonings and cook until thickened.

Serve beans over rice and serve with a cucumber salad and Laura's whole wheat cornbread muffins.