Tag Archives: food

Growing in the Desert

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Living in the desert has it’s pros and cons. I love the scenery and the open spaces. I love the sunsets and the monsoon storms. I love the variety of colors in the terrain all around us. I used to think that the desert meant sand dunes and lifeless barrenness, but I now know how wrong that assumption truly is.

One of the things that is hard about living in the desert is the immense amount of sand. People talk about dirt of varying types and textures, but my yard is just primarily sand. When the wind blows hard there is dust everywhere – sand. Even the rock isn’t truly rock here but solidified sand.

Have you ever tried to grow things in sand. My yard is sand with a little clay and not much of any kind of nutrients. There is very little that grows here without being super-hearty.

It is possible to grow things here, but in order to do so we have to add nutrient-rich soil to the mix and provide plenty of water. Even our air is super-dry, so water is an absolute must in the desert in order to make things grow.

But things can grow here. We are successfully growing strawberries and tomatoes and mint and chives and pole beans. If you drive around you’ll find people growing all sorts of wonderful things in the middle of the desert.

This morning as I was watering our plants I couldn’t help but think of the desert of the world in which we live. Jesus provides sustenance and living water but so many people are trying to grow and live without that living water. You can see it in their lives that they are thirsty for something different, something more.

Our children are especially thirsty for this. When you have a young plant it needs even more water to survive than when it is mature. The same is true for our children. If we aren’t feeding them this life-giving water then the world will fill them with the poison of selfishness.

How will we grow without Jesus? How will the kingdom grow without our children growing up in the knowledge of the One who gives life to all mankind? The world is focused on our children. It wants to win them over to its purposes and pleasures. If we want our children to have true life we are going to need to be stronger and more intentional than the world around us.

This doesn’t mean taking them out of the world, but it does mean modeling to them a lifestyle that is healthy from a constant diet of the word of God and the water of life.

If you’re not feeding on the word of God (the bible) and soaking in the water of life (the Holy Spirit) then you’re malnourished yourself. Your life is a desert. Jesus wants you to be a healthy garden filled with the fruit of His Spirit. As you grow into that beautiful garden, your children and other children you’re around will want to grow into little gardens themselves.

We can grow in the desert, but it has to be intentional. His Word is real food, and His Spirit is life-giving water. Let’s feast together and become a garden that transforms this desert back into the garden God originally intended it to be.

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Cake and Roses and Fluffy Puppies

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I’ve written before about my love for mountain climbing or just climbing in general. The feeling of standing on the top of a high place and seeing the world from above is breathtaking. However, the top isn’t the only part of the journey worth talking about.

When you set out to climb a mountain there are a lot of undesirable issues you must deal with to get there. There is the hassle of camping and gear if you choose to make it an overnight trip. There is the issue of sustenance, for you will surely need the energy to make it to the top. Because you must have sustenance you will have to carry that weight on your back. This creates more weight for you to have to haul up the mountain.

Then there’s the sheer feat of climbing the mountain. No mountain is “easy”. Some are less difficult than others, but your body does strange things above 10,000 feet of elevation. As you climb there are rocks that you trip on. There is often snow to be traversed. There are aching muscles from the constant upward motion. Then there’s the dreaded issue of having to go to the bathroom above tree line (embarassing).

Climbing a mountain is fun and rewarding, but it is also difficult and painful.

When you listen to many preachers talk about life in Christ you hear about love, joy, peace, kindness and other such beautiful ideas. You hear about grace and forgiveness. Who wouldn’t want those things? Christianity sounds awesome, right?!

What they don’t tell you is that Christianity is like climbing up the mountain. The summit experience is awesome, but you have to go through the climb of life to get there. It isn’t all cake and roses and fluffy puppies. Sometimes Christianity is tears and pain and division and struggle.

Jesus was very clear that the Kingdom of Heaven – the kingdom that is here and now in those allowing Christ to rule in their hearts – is much more desirable than the kingdoms of this world with their selfishness and tyranny. However he also made a couple of statements that aren’t so popular.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

He also promises this:

“In this world you will have trouble.”

Well, that’s not very happy. It doesn’t seem like Jesus is doing the best job marketing this new kingdom life.

Think about it though. Have you ever made a decision you knew was right, yet everyone around you was angry with you for the decision you made? Have you ever loved someone even though they hurt you? Have you ever risked your life for someone else? Then you know what Jesus is talking about.

We choose to live for Christ because He is teaching us the way of love, but not everyone likes this way. Some people even hate this way of life because our living this way exposes the darkness within them. They revile against it, and division is created, and relationships are damaged.

In Luke 14 Jesus encourages us to count the cost of being his disciple. It will be a struggle, and you will have to be wiling to sacrifice everything for him, but what you gain is so worth it. Forgiveness, grace, eternal life, relationship with the Creator, purpose in this life. Those things cannot be given a value.

After Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, he said “but take heart because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus doesn’t leave us alone to deal with these struggles ourselves. He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised to take every circumstance and bring good out of it (Romans 8:28). He has promised to love you, and he showed it by dying for you. He gave his life for you. Are you willing to go through a little bit of struggle for him?

One more thing.
In Jesus there is a new perspective that I learn day by day as I follow him. The more I live like Jesus the less concerned I am with myself because I am learning to love others more. This brings pain at times when I am rejected, but this also brings hope in all things because of the resurrection. I now have a choice on how I look at the hard times. I choose to look at them as learning experiences and refining fire that makes me stronger. I choose this because I know that this life is not all there is for me. My eternal life began when I gave my life to Jesus, and it reaches its fullness once this physical life reaches its limits. Death is not the end, so I live this life with joy and hope whatever the situation.

Count the cost before you come to Christ, but know that the cost is well worth it for the joy of knowing the Creator and living in His presence. And if you’re already in Christ, live with the perspective of hope in all circumstances. Jesus is with you. His Spirit lives inside you. You are eternal – your pain doesn’t have to be.


“Lord, Bless This Food”

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[This is me beginning of a series on things we do without thinking as Christians. Maybe we don’t remember why we do them. They can be big or small things. If you’d like to suggest a topic for this series comment below.]

Once upon a time a man was hunting in the woods. He was a long way from civilization when he ran into a grizzly bear. Doing his best to move quietly away from the bear he stepped on a twig and it snapped loudly.

At that the bear noticed the hunter and began to make chase, so the man ran as fast as he could to get away from the bear. As each second passed the bear inched closer to the hunter. When the hunter couldn’t run any further he knelt down and prayed, “Lord, please make this bear a Christian.”

The bear was running full speed to get to the man, and when it arrived it stopped suddenly. It got down on its knees and the hunter heard the bear say, “Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

This is a silly story, but if you are a Christian how many times have you heard this prayer or said this prayer before you’ve begun to eat? For many cultures it is odd enough that Christians pray before meals (a ritual which is actually healthy), but the prayer seems odd, doesn’t it?

“Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

Hasn’t He already blessed it? Didn’t God cause it to grow? Didn’t He provide it for you? Didn’t He fill it with nutrients to give you strength and energy? He HAS blessed it!

So why do we pray this prayer? Well, it goes back to the King James translation of the bible. When Jesus was in the upper room and they were partaking of the last supper the scripture said that Jesus broke the bread, but what he did before that changed the way we began our meals for generations.

The King James Version says this in Matthew 26:26

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

In looking at the original language this passage doesn’t really translate that way. Instead, it is better translated that instead of blessing the bread he “gave thanks” for the bread.

Doesn’t that make more sense? Shouldn’t we be thankful for that which God has already blessed? It’s just a small thing, but watch and see how many people do this. The next time you’re somewhere that the person praying asks God to bless the food just smile and be grateful with an “Amen”.

[Next week we will address why we take our hats off during prayers.]


A Tradition That Isn’t Just One Time a Year

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This is the first year we have really gotten into teaching our son about the history behind Thanksgiving. He’s hooked. He loves reading about the pilgrims and Indians. He has some appreciation for the need for religious freedom that the pilgrims felt. The suffering felt that first winter affects him. But the thing he likes to read about most is the Indians.

I tend to be just like him in that. I have always appreciated the histories of the Native Americans. In fact, this week we are hoping to take him to see some traditional Indian dances while we are in New Mexico. He’s pretty excited.

As we think about this history, however, I can’t help but reflect on how we showed the Native Americans our appreciation for how they accepted us onto their land. Sure, the pilgrims held a great feast and they ate alongside their native friends, but as time went on more and more “white men” came that did not appreciate the support and friendship that had been given to the white man in the past.

How did we as an invading civilization show our appreciation to those without whom we would have never survived this continent? We drove them out. We killed them. And, eventually we corralled those that survived into “zoos” where they can live how they want (albeit in a much restricted area), and we can go observe their native rituals.

In my opinion, that is the saddest story of the formation of this great nation. They were thankful for survival, but they weren’t grateful for the people who helped them survive. In fact, they didn’t even see them as people.

In our generation today, we have a struggle ahead of us. As I watch the youth of today grow, I see the same ungrateful attitude. This generation thinks they are entitled to everything they have. This is much like how the white people thought they were entitled to the land of the Americas.

“Thank You” is a phrase that is a strain to say for many in today’s society. Even more difficult is trying to list all the blessings given to them by God. In fact, not only are they not grateful for what they have been given, but there is a continual lust for more.

As a parent I struggle with this attitude in my own children. We are trying to help them understand what it means to be grateful. We are trying to help them remember to be thankful to others. We are trying to help them to learn contentment in a time of prosperity. But it’s difficult. Even at their young ages, it seems as this ungrateful attitude is embedded in their DNA.

In light of all that, we now find ourselves at the time of year that is one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Each year I get to see family members I haven’t seen in a long time. I usually have a chance to meet new family members as well. Then we sit and feast on a bounty that God has provided.

We have an opportunity and a responsibility to ourselves and our children to take the opportunity this season to inspire a change of attitude. This is a great time to stop the attitude of entitlement dead in its tracks and start an attitude of gratitude.

Thanksgiving shouldn’t just be a holiday: it should be a way of life.

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
(Colossians 1:10-14 emphasis added)

This holiday season, may you start a tradition that happens every day. May you be grateful for every breath, and may you inspire that attitude of gratitude in those around you.

God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving!


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