Are You Gluten Intolerant?

Many people are removing gluten from their eating for allergy & health reasons so it’s increasingly common to hear from people that they’ve eliminated bread from their diet.
There’s one bread, however, that we would be wise to increase for our daily consumption – the Bread of Life, who is Jesus!


Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking bread with mixed results. But there are four basic steps to letting Jesus, the Bread of life, participate in our daily living:

  1. Assemble ingredients – be sure to always have time in the Bible & prayer everyday
  2. Mix ingredients – keeping prayer & the Bible in isolated compartments will never be as effective as letting them mix throughout our days, activities, relationships, conversations & responsibilities
  3. Proof – time for the rise is essential for bread to have a palatable texture & taste; let’s be careful not to get impatient during the process or proofing
  4. Bake – heat is necessary for the bread to be portable, practical & edible; Jesus helps us through all of life’s hotspots!

Eat good bread, the Bread of Life!

What Do You Repeat?

Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.

For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂

Highminded & A Warm Heart

I woke up this morning to -7degree temperature. Thankfully our heater works well but my body definitely felt the chill, which compelled me to keep my heart warm. Sometimes it’s easy in the hustle & bustle of this season to get cold hearted, detached & insensitive. Regardless of the external temperature or the demands that we have, let’s endeavor to remain warm hearted.
As for our brains, part of my Bible reading this morning was in Colossians 3:2 where Paul tells us to set our minds above. To me, this means that i keep my thoughts out of the low things & stuff that’s fleshy.
I want to actively chose to set my mind in things above & keep my heart warm regardless of what’s happening around me. Who’s on board with that plan??

What Seduces You?

Nothing.

That’s a stupid question.
But actually, it’s a very important question because what seduces us can give us insight into weak spots & things that can possibly cause us to go off the rails.
For me, I’m a bit of an odd duck. What seduces me isn’t chocolate, wealth, image, clothes, etc. I’m more enamored with intellectual stuff, March Madness & the NCAA college basketball tournament, along with adventure & exhilaration.
Let’s be sure that we keep the stuff that interests us in proper alignment to our love for Jesus. If I let my interests in college basketball, intellectual pursuits or thrill seeking get more intense than my passion & love for Jesus, then I’ve become a victim to idolatry.
We don’t intentionally set out to be idolaters but that’s the problem with seduction. It’s subtle & creeps up on you often before you recognize it.
This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit who keeps me away from deception & distortion while staying passionately in love with Jesus! Let’s pay attention to the things that seduce us!

Hurray for Practice!

My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!

We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂

Here are some things that help us to be successful:

Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success

Hot Topic: Pivot Gratitude

 

Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.

Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!

Hungry Shopper

Weekly grocery shopping when I’m hungry is tricky, particularly when the store has samples. What happens is that regardless of my list, I can impulse buy & come home with some random stuff.

Sometimes, I think we do the same thing with stuff that’s not just food related. There are times when I can be struggling with some emotional stuff or various pressures & I’ll divert my attention with some sports thing or pick up an interesting book.
What usually works the best for me when I find myself struggling is to let my heart settle deeply into God’s love for me. Rather than being impulsive, let’s train our appetites to crave Jesus, the greatest fulfillment & solution in our lives 🙂

Enough?


I used to have an insatiable appetite for good coffee, not so much bad coffee. Thankfully, I’ve had an intervention so I’m not quite the junkie I once was. But this journey has started me to think about some things in new ways. It seems like the human experience suggests that we can never get enough – not enough money, not enough time, not enough recognition, not enough care or attention, not enough . . . .
I think our perspective on the idea of “enough” gets warped because we focus on the provision more than the Provider.

Somehow we’ve swallowed the poison that provision can replace Provider & we chase the illusion of enough.

When I was a coffee junkie, I could never get enough. I believe that the enemy of our soul would endeavor to perpetuate this illusion through the continuous acquisition but never sustaining pursuit of provision rather than Provider.

Indeed, let us seek first the kingdom of God & everything falls into divine order.

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

A Little Sugar


The proverbial sugarbowl

I like savory over sweet but in my family, certain members prefer sweet to savory. For example, if I set out a jar of dill pickles some of us could empty that jar lickety split. On the flip side, I could easily forget about some ice cream in the freezer for months while other members of my family wouldn’t let the ice cream survive until the morning. 
Regardless of your taste preferences, there are occasions when a little sugar is always nice:

  • When someone is having a bad day, being sweet can sometimes make the day better for them
  • When someone is angry, Proverbs says that a soft answer turns away wrath
  • Encouragement is a little bit of sugar & I have yet to meet a person who abhors encouragement
  • Soft, gentle, sweet & sincere words can be helpful in any relationship, but perhaps we can the most benefit from giving sweet words more than receiving them

Let’s add some sugar to our interactions today 🙂

A Good & Practical Read

I’m a reader & I read a wide array of books on a plethora of topics.  So here’s a good one that’s uber practical for your body, soul & spirit:  30 Day Faith Detox.

I’m recommending this book because there’s not a single reader of this blog who doesn’t need some help in all three of these areas.  I’m also recommending this book because it’s practical, holistic, easy to read & implement.  So grab a copy today!

Hot Topic: Get HELP!!

I was making my coffee this morning & didn’t pay attention well, so I accidentally burned my hand – HELP!!!! That’s about what I said, at maximum volume. My son jumped into action & grabbed some ice that immediately helped soothe the burn. Thankfully, he helped me & didn’t make me feel stupid for making my thoughtless mistake. 
Seems to me that this is often what the Holy Spirit does – readily aides our cry for help, comforts & heals what hurts without making us feel stupid or shamed in the process. 

Be sure to get your copy of Heavenly Help – we both need more Help than we realize 🙂  

Being Hungry

When I come home from an Int’l trip, I’m often hungry for a hamburger or a salad – familiar food that are in my home culture. This isn’t to say that I don’t like ethnic food. I TOTALLY love to try new foods in various cultures. Some of the foods I’ve tried were not that tasty when I first tried them, but the more I ate them, the more I liked these different foods. 
Sometimes I think spiritual food can be similar. I find that there are some spiritual foods that are tasty & appealing. For example, we like where the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us in Phil 4:13. But some verses aren’t quite as appealing. For example, James 1:4 says that we should let endurance have its perfect work so that we can be perfect & complete, not lacking anything. 

Let’s be certain that we let the Holy Spirit cultivate our appetites so that we eat spiritual food that helps us grow & become mature followers of Jesus 🙂

Keep Fresh ,)

There were a few years when my parents bought a fresh tree for Christmas. Unfortunately, we didn’t stick the stump in a bucket of water so it quickly became a fire hazard, a delight to my dad & me, since we were both pyromaniacs ,)
By the grace of God & only God, we never burned down our house, with a few close calls. 

So keeping things fresh is important & here are some suggestions:

  • Keep your mistakes fresh & new – stale & repeat mistakes aren’t helpful
  • Forgiveness needs to stay fresh – crusty forgiveness usually becomes brittle & broken
  • Love Jesus with fresh ideas – routines can help us be consistent but fresh & present love keeps us intimate with Jesus & sometimes the best way to love Jesus is to love people well
  • Fresh thinking is helpful for resolving old problems – consider reading some books that you don’t normally read
  • Fun friends – meeting new people can be challenging & rewarding; consider some extra listening & open heart to make fresh connections with new friends 🙂

Let’s keep fresh & perky 🙂

Heating Up or Chilling Out??

  
   Since we talked yesterday about Jesus putting out fires in our lives, it seems fitting today that we would talk about staying chilled & frosty. Various times of the year seem to have lots of stress & pressure – December frequently far exceeding my red zone capacity. So seeing Jesus chillin’ in a freezer by a gallon of ice cream helps me to remember to offload some steam & it reminds me to make choices about stress & worry. 

Some helpful things to remember that Jesus said:

“Come to Me all you who are heavy laden & I will give you rest”

“My peace I leave you, not as the world gives”

“In this world you will have tribulations but I have overcome the world”

Heating Up or Chilling Out??

  
   Since we talked yesterday about Jesus putting out fires in our lives, it seems fitting today that we would talk about staying chilled & frosty. Various times of the year seem to have lots of stress & pressure – December frequently far exceeding my red zone capacity. So seeing Jesus chillin’ in a freezer by a gallon of ice cream helps me to remember to offload some steam & it reminds me to make choices about stress & worry. 

Some helpful things to remember that Jesus said:

“Come to Me all you who are heavy laden & I will give you rest”

“My peace I leave you, not as the world gives”

“In this world you will have tribulations but I have overcome the world”

Putting out Fires

  
Recently, I torched a pan of bacon: flames, smoke, noxious fumes, baking powder, etc. Of course I was absentmindedly sitting at the counter absorbed in my phone & eating breakfast when my astute & gentle son observed smoke coming from the oven. Long story made short, my husband bailed me out, for the umpteenth time & no one was hurt, except for the oven window getting shattered. My husband knew well enough to put out the fire by taking away its oxygen & not pouring water on a grease fire. 
Thankfully, Jesus knows how to put out the various fires in our lives. Sometimes relationship can nuke us, sometimes we get burned out from our workload & sometimes we can be fried from the demands & busyness of the Christmas season. 

I’m grateful that Jesus soothes my soul, sustains my heart, nurtures & waters the various purposes of my life. 

Avoiding Disaster

Cooking a turkey has the potential to be a dance with disaster. I know this to be true, based in years of practice & research. But this year is likely to be different, probably. I say this because of not only years of practice & failures but also because of preparation. 
I’m learning that I can avoid lots of disasters with a little bit of preparation. For example, Gideon in the book of Judges, avoided various disasters because he walked a path of preparation with God. Seems to me that God primed Gideon for his massive victory over the Midianites through extensive preparation: angel visitation, tearing down an altar to idolatry, fleece adventures, people screening & even eavesdropping. 

I may not always enjoy the preparation process but I certainly like the outcomes better than the results of poor preparation. Let’s be careful not to belittle the process of preparation 🙂

Celebrating Ordinary

   
 
I’m on the long journey home today, flying from Singapore & landing a mere 5hours after the departure of my first flight (it’s the time change thing that turns today into a 37hour day). I have seriously enjoyed my time in Singapore, making new friends, ministering in new churches, exploring & learning – all things I enjoy. 
But I have an ache in my heart for home, what’s familiar & ordinary. I’m looking forward to opening my refrigerator to make a grocery list for the week. I want to be with my church friends on Wed night, worshipping with them & nestling into God’s Word together. I’m eager to be with my family, hold hands, make goofy faces & hear about their weekend. I’m looking forward to finding my car in the airport parking lot & hoping the alarm doesn’t inadvertently go off when I open the door. And a hamburger with double pickles, no onions would be nice as well ,)

Jesus, the Son of God, came into our ordinary living, did the skin thing with us & didn’t just live for the next surge, thrill or rush. Seems like Jesus probably liked the ordinary in human living & not just the exciting 🙂

Do You Need More Time??

  
It’s 4am here in Cambodia & why I’ve been wide awake for the last hour escapes me. It’s all the more unsettling to me because I’m flying home today, so for me this day will have 37hours because of the time zone changes. Which brings me to the topic about asking God for more time. There have been countless occasions when I’ve asked God for a little extra time – to complete a task, to enjoy a conversation with a friend, to slow down how quickly my kids are growing, a few extra minutes to finish cooking before some company arrives, etc. But I’ve stopped asking God for more time, precisely because of how today will role out with 37 hours. I’ve come to deeply appreciate this idea of a 24hour discrete day. More time isn’t always the answer we need. So here are some thoughts about maximizing our time:

  • put down the phone & be present – time is often wasted with distractions
  • keep healthy priorities
  • live in the truth that God knows our seasons & days – what needs to happen at various times in our lives
  • There’s much to be said about being grateful for the time that we have 🙂