Thursday, July 30, 2009

Feed Me!

I have always been a quick eater.

Hmmm, let me rephrase that…

I’ve somehow attained the reputation of being a human vacuum cleaner. Maybe it’s because I eat EVERYTHING off my plate. Or because it appears that I’m literally inhaling my food.


I don’t think my vacuum cleaner nickname comes from the noises I make (I usually operate on whisper-mode; I don’t believe in letting my food know what’s coming). Then again, maybe it’s the telltale clouds of dust. Anyways, when I get a plate of food in front of me, keep your distance. If you get too close, you might get bitten. You see, when you come from a large family, you either eat fast or you starve. It’s like being on the Serengeti.

Which leads me to my point. I remember a few years back about a trip to Massanutten Ski Resort I took with Kathy and some friends. We stopped at a Burger King for lunch and I dug in to eat at my usual rapid pace.

However, at some point I must have taken a breather, because an “unfortunate incident” occurred.

You see, for years I have been a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to BK. I have eaten there countless of times and I meticulously follow a certain schedule: Wait in line. Order food. Fill up Pepsi. Wait for food. Get food. Get napkins, salt and ketchup. Sit down. Pour salt on fries. DEVOUR everything that sits on the paper placemat. Stand up. Toss paper placemat and various paper goods into wastebasket.

I’m a creature of habit, but I broke my own regimen and stopped eating for a minute or two to talk to my friends.

In their defense, the Burger King employee wasn't aware that they were breaching protocol.

Thinking I had finished, they tried to take my tray away.

I still had some fries on the tray.

I’m sure this employee was a nice person.

Maybe, just maybe, I over-reacted.

To be honest with you, I don’t remember much of anything that happened next.

My wife (who was present at the time and to this day is still mortified about the incident) likes to say that she witnessed something akin to someone pulling a dish of food away from a hungry dog.

The employee didn’t lose any appendages, but then again, I don’t think they ever tried to pull a stunt like that again.

I felt bad.

Really, I did.

But I DID get to finish my fries.

Psalm 36 states that “All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts.”

Our bodies will waste away without proper nourishment, but how do we nourish the soul? Is it as easy as having a daily checklist of activities (read Bible, say prayers, don’t commit murder)? Do we come up with regimens to feed ourselves spiritually and get royally annoyed when someone dares to interrupt it?

I remember praying on my bed one morning in college when I heard my mom knock on my door…

“WHAT?! I’M TRYING TO PRAY!” I yelled.

Uh, yeah.

Maybe our spiritual feeding has more to do with our relationship with God, as opposed to the regimens we prescribe to make ourselves “more holy”.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with attending church services, bible studies, reading scripture and praying. But I’d get mighty hungry if I only ate one meal a day.

Jesus stated, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

Maybe we get spiritually fed when we live moment-to-moment, following God’s gentle leading. Maybe that’s how God really grows us so we can bloom where we’re planted.

Questions to Ponder
What do we do when we’re hungry?
How do we feed ourselves physically? Mentally? Emotionally?
Is it possible for us to feed ourselves spiritually? Or must spiritual nourishment descend from above?
If we are to bloom where we’re planted, how do we take in the nourishment we desperately need in a place where the soil is weak and our circumstances difficult?

Related Verses
Deuteronomy 30:19-20
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

John 4:27-34
Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”

“Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.

Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”


Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Trails to You

Matt, David and myself completed the Old Rag hike a few weeks ago.

Maybe I should say survived, instead.

David (who is part mountain goat), zipped on ahead of us on the way up. Matt and I, not being as fit, just took our time as we slowly made our way up the path. When we finally made it to the rock scramble a “little” ways before the peak, we realized that the path disappeared. From this point onward, we had to keep our eyes open for trail blazes.

Trail blazes are painted 2” x 6” rectangles that adorn trees or rocks to show you which direction to take. Sometimes following trail blazes is counter-intuitive. Like when you’re going UP a mountain and the blaze tells you to go downhill. At one point, I thought we were following a blaze, but ended up completing a circle and having to backtrack. I’m used to seeing them on trees, so imagine my surprise when I came upon them blazed upon boulders.

A tumultuous sea of boulders.

However, every time we passed a trail blaze, we were that much closer to our prize. Life is like that.

We hit a series of progressions in just about everything we do. Even our journey with God has trail blazes that we can look back and contemplate how far we have come (and still have to go). Where do you find yourself in your journey with God? Can you see the next trail blaze? Where does it lead?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


A few weeks into our church’s homework assignment to plant seeds into soil and wait for them to grow, I’ve witnessed an interesting phenomena.

My wife’s seedling (planted in a pot of good soil and exposed to sunlight on our front step) sprouted and grew about a half inch.

And it has stayed that height for the last week.

It’s green and has its little solar collectors (leaves) out, but it doesn’t seem to be growing anymore.

Ever feel like that?

Sometimes we feel stuck, and no matter how much we try watering ourselves, feeding ourselves and sitting in the light, we feel like we’re spinning our wheels.

We even get upset. “Why can’t I move on?”

But sometimes all we can do is just keep on watering, keep on eating, and keep staying in the sun (with sun block on of course).

Sometimes there are things taking place unseen, below the surface.

Sometimes we ARE changing; it’s just we’re not aware of it.

Job was a man who had many questions for God. He wondered why bad things happened to good people (especially someone like himself).

God answered him in the end with questions of His own.

Job came to the realization that his story was not yet finished.

He realized that there was stuff going on that he never dreamed of.

He realized that God had not forgotten him.

In Luke 12:6-7 Jesus posed the question “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

What questions do we have for God?

How long have we waited for an answer?

What does it mean to me that I am important to God?

(Thank you Rob Bell Jr. for the insight on Job!)


Relevant Scriptures

The entire book of Job is a masterpiece; I encourage you to read it! Here are a few excerpts…

Job 31:1-6
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. For what has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? Isn’t it calamity for the wicked and misfortune for those who do evil? Doesn’t he see everything I do and every step I take? “Have I lied to anyone or deceived anyone? Let God weigh me on the scales of justice, for he knows my integrity.”

Job 38:1-7
Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.
You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I hate weeds.

Last Saturday, I pulled a bunch of weeds from around the white house (in Culpeper, not D.C.) in preparation for the Fourth of July cookout.

I needed to use thick gloves because they were the thorny type.

The type that dares you to even touch them, much less pull them from the ground.

I hate weeds.

My earliest memories of weeds involve my father teaching us to weed the garden in the backyard and then (freed from this chore)him gleefully returning to the house as we pulled up anything green that looked out of place.

He no longer has us to weed the plants that he has on his property in central Florida, but the weeds are here as well.

Weeds are insidious. They’ll take root and then it’s almost impossible to defeat them.

If you pull them out and leave the tiniest fraction of a root, they’ll grow right back.

They are persistent.

Weeds feed off the nutrients meant for your plants. They slurp up precious water and crowd out young plants.

Jesus spoke of how His Kingdom would spread; and what His followers could expect as they joined in the work.

Weeds. Thorny weeds.

Seemingly immovable, weeds pop up in our lives. The longer we walk with Jesus, the more they seem to ensnare us.

We celebrate great victories; only to end up frightened by that which is not true.

How many lies to we allow to surround us each day?

I am unloved. I am out of control. I have no worth. I am hopeless.

So many lies…

Jesus had sharp words for the self-righteous religious people of His day.

“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

How do we stop listening to the lies?

You starve them.

Philippians 4:4-9 reads:
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

What lies have I believed about myself, my loved ones, my friends, and God?

How have they stunted my growth?

What can I do to fight back and hold onto truth?

Remember, we are called to bloom where we're planted.


Related Verses
Matthew 13:18-23

“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Unexpected Joy

Sometimes, trouble seems to come in threes.

About two weeks ago, I received a box from Alltel. It was my wife’s old phone (the defective one that they claimed was not covered by their warranty). It refuses to charge, so I spent the next few days hacking apart her old Nokia phone so that we could charge her batteries.

Yes, batteries (plural).

You see, when her phone started having problems a few weeks back, the Alltel store initially told us that the problem was with the battery. They’d happily replace it for $40.

No way I’m spending $40 for a battery.

So, I got one off eBay for $6.

Problem solved; that is, until the phone refused to charge with the new battery. The phone had an internal problem with its charging port and thus we sent it back.

And received it back. Now we had a phone that lacked charging capability and two batteries. Buying that extra battery turned out to be a blessing; allowing her to use her phone while the other one charged.

Just as I was finishing up the makeshift charger, my car broke down.

It wouldn’t start after driving from home to my office on a Monday morning. But after a few hours (after cooling back to, well, cold), it started right up with no problems.

I got to get to know one of the auto parts people really well during these next few days.

Just as I was getting ready to have some time to diagnose what exactly was wrong with the car, our home air-conditioner quit.

Our three year old central AC unit.

Three more days of diagnosis and I finally called the repair company this past Monday.

But now, I had joy.

Joy is a bizarre thing. It definitely is an attribute of God because you cannot pin it down, manufacture, or fake it. You simply accept it.

I had joy for many reasons.

The past few days I was able to spend more time with my wife due to the broken down car.

I got to spend a bit of time with my dad on the phone (he’s a former ac tech), and through his prompts, I was able to (correctly) diagnose exactly where the machine was broken (an easily replaceable part that only costs $20).

Sure, we paid a professional to repair it, but because of my diagnosis, they cut down the price substantially.

Now, when my neighbors’ AC units shut down we know where to look. Our loss is their gain.

And, unexpectedly (cause I’m really stingy), I’m filled with joy.

I replaced the distributor cap on my car today. The old one looked like someone had taken a blow-torch to the center electrode (very very bad). The car is currently running fine.

Whew. I really appreciate us owning two WORKING cars.

But even if the phone wouldn’t charge, the AC was still off, and my car was still in my driveway, I have a feeling that I’d still have joy.

We’ve been talking about blooming where God has planted us. This week, I want us to spend some time wrestling with finding unexpected joy in how God meets our needs.

No matter where we’re planted.

Have a safe 4th of July and don’t do EXTREMELY stupid and dangerous things like my brother and I did when we were (slightly) younger.

We’ll be cooking up burgers and hotdogs (and a few bratwurst) starting around 7pm at the white house (317 South West street in Culpeper). We’ll watch the town fireworks display from the porch a little after 9pm. See you there!


Related Verses

James 1:2-18

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.