Tuesday, May 31, 2016

For the Love of God and All That is Holy and Food

There are certain non-negotiables in life. Take eating for instance. It’s what folks do rain or shine, happy or grumpy, with coffee or without.

Of course, the negotiable part happens when making food choices. Apple or orange? Lettuce-wrapped or delectably-toasted-bun-wrapped? A measly 12-chip serving or the entire bag?

Some people struggle with such foodie decisions. Probably most people. But for every dozen individuals who have the willpower of an oak, where no amount of cream cheese frosting can lure them away from their suspiciously green smoothies, there are dozens more - several baker’s dozens more - whose love language is frosting.
However, frosting lovers actually do, from time to time, think about making healthy food choices, as well as other healthy choices pertaining to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But sadly, thinking isn’t the same as doing; it doesn’t cut the mustard. (Mustard? Yes, please.)
Just ask Saddleback Women’s teacher, Jen Goulard, who once caught herself thinking about doing something absolutely wonderful, something supremely valuable, relational and world-changing - she thought about praying. And she’ll tell you about the day an idea was rolling around in her mind and how she was “thinking about praying about it.”
This whole thinking-about-praying notion concerned Jen, for it made her wonder why she was so hesitant in her approach to God. Knowing full-well that God wants her to simply come to him - run to him - she reflected on why she struggled with being bold before God.
Soon she realized these feelings had grown out of another hesitant approach, one from childhood. Jen remembers times of trying to connect with her mother while she cooked in the kitchen (like, every time she tried to connect), only to be met with an impatient parent who would snap, “I cannot talk and cook at the same time!” All of which left Jen wondering if she was a distraction, an interruption, an annoyance to her mother…and to God.
But Jen found security in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”
Jen Goulard is in Christ. Her identity is found in a God who sees her as the exact opposite of distraction, interruption, and annoyance. He is one who desires, cherishes, and likes her, the one who is thrilled when her “thinking about praying” tendency quickly turns into chatting it up. After all, Jesus is the bread of life. Whoever comes to him will never be hungry again, making Christ the best foodie decision there is.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Special-est of Special Agents

I wonder what a private investigator or special agent would deduce from looking around my house. (Heaven forbid we should ever need one, of course.) A sock in the kitchen sink? Blue glitter on the fireplace? Band-aids on a lamp? Hardly what you'd call obvious clues - no real, "Professor Plum in the library with a revolver" evidence to make a detective's job easier.
And speaking of libraries, when my kids were little, we used to do a little private eye work of our own when checking-out the book, Wacky Wednesday. With shoes on ceilings and trees growing out of chimneys, it's a book about a boy who sees odd things around his house and town.

Although I love this classic book, page four always stumped me, for the boy sees three wacky things. However, my youngest daughter would only count two. The one she missed was a broom in the hallway. It never seemed out of place to her. (That's because she has me for a mom, that's why; pardon the pun, but I don’t always do things by the book.)

And I know I'm not alone in this. A friend once shouted out in her house: "Someone please get me the toilet paper out of the dining room!Apparently a detective would struggle at gathering evidence in her house, too.

So while detectives figure out crime scenes, I try to figure out people. But through much trial and error, I've learned that a Gucci handbag does not always equal a wealthy individual, nor does green hair equal an avid swimmer, nor do those skull/spider/unicorn/Bieber tattoo sleeves equal a wild night in Cancun. And likewise, a mean comment doesn't always come from a mean person (whew!), nor does a nice comment always come from a nice person.

1 Samuel 16:7 says, "For the Lord sees not as man sees. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

What a relief to know God skips past appearances and heads straight to a person's heart and motives, making our God the very specialest of special agents – an agent of mercy. After all, solving mysteries is one thing, solving people is a whole other thing. In fact, it’s an impossible thing.

So how about this: “I hereby commission you, commission me, to be agents of mercy for the kingdom of God. Now, Godspeed as you head-out to change your world, starting with your mother who might be the type to leave brooms in hallways.”