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Mashed Potatoes?

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Proverbs 30:8

I’ve watched way too much TV while laid up with health issues. I admit it. One thing I have noticed, though, is the trend to make foods deceptive.  Cauliflower cooked to resemble mashed potatoes or rice. Pasta from zucchini. Cream soups made healthy to fool the family into eating right because it tastes good. Even prepared diet foods that let you eat chocolate cake and still lose the pounds.

What’s wrong with that? Initially I was sucked in. I can eat the foods that were on my “no-no” list, as long as they are altered. Marie Antoinette was right after all. “Let them eat cake!”

The problem, as I see it, is that habits are not really being changed. People are not eating more healthy but stealth-y.

I see it in churches as well. Get ’em in the door anyway you can and then lay on the Gospel. But not to thick. Let them ease into it. Be tolerant. Let them wallow in sin and accept them. Don’t judge.

Like false mashed potatoes, it looks and tastes good. Agreed, people want to eat what they want to eat and believe what they want to believe.  I admit, there is truth in that evangelistic method. Jesus met people in their messes. We should as well.

But he pulled no punches when it came to doling out the truth. As a wise pastor I know one told me, “We need to love them enough as they are to help them change into who God calls them to be.”

While we have all fallen short of the glory of God and sinned (Romans 3:23) and we should examine the plank in our own eyes before we point out the speck in our neighbor’s (Matthew 7:3-5), if we wash down the message of salvation too much, we lose the reason for needing a Savior in the first place. That, my friends, to me is a DANGER:THIN ICE sign.

Perhaps it is best if we don’t try to fool them into eating mashed potatoes that is something else, and claim it is for their own good. Maybe we should be honest about “mashed potatoes’ nutritional value”  in the first place. Then offer them the Bread of Life.

How Do You Read It?

Say this sentence: What do you want to change?

How did your mind read it? It could have placed the emphasis on the word you, meaning an action on your part is needed.  It’s up to you. Your choice, your decision.

Or your brain could have latched on to the first word what. Now the emphasis shifts. It assumes change is happening, but asks about the object of that change. That means choice.

Then again, the mind could have zeroed in on the word want, perhaps distinguishing it from “need.” There is a difference, though often times we don’t get that.  It also implies a more passive approach to the question. The power to change it not in your control. It becomes a matter of asking for help.

And he [Jesus] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Why do we often assume we need to be in control? It as if the right of passage into adulthood is paved with “It’s up to me” stones. However, too many time we stub our toes on them. Still, we plod along, nursing the throb. “I can’t assume anyone else will do it, so I must.”

Jesus challenges us to revisit the emphasis of the sentence. To return to a holy dependency on our Father for instruction, guidance, comfort, and yes, for discipline.  Just as we once did as children.

We were never designed to go it alone. Humans were created to be in communion–with each other and with our Creator. Somewhere along the line, we forget that fact. Always have…from Genesis, Chapter 3 to today.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take responsibility. Far from it. We are all inevitably responsible for our actions, thoughts, and choices. But I, myself, have been learning the humility of dependence upon others, which includes leaning more on God.

Truth is, if I am honest, my word emphasis to the question, “What do you want to change?” has changed over the past year as I struggled with health issues soon after receiving a call into missionary work (funny how those two things happened almost simultaneously). Due to both,  I am mostly dependent on the donations of others for my income.  And I am more dependent on other’s prayers.

In 2016, I would have definitely put the emphasis on me. I, the widow, must go it alone. Make it on my own. It’s up to me.

Today, my response is: “Lord, I want You to change me…daily, making me dependent upon You so I am totally aligned with Your will. I can’t do this by myself.”

More than ever, I need to grab Daddy’s hand to lead me. Does that make me a weaker person? Yes, and no. To acknowledge my weakness makes me stronger. (I Corinthians 4:10) To lean on His understanding and might, instead of my own, bolsters me to go onward in this journey.

Kind of ironic this missionary organization I have been called to be a part of is called Power to Change, right? Well, perhaps not.

How about you? Read the sentence again. What do you want to change? Then talk it over with your Lord.

 


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:   Issues I Face  and The Life.   Our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month. Some are believers, others don’t know what to believe. All are seeking. We help them know Jesus, one mouse click at a time.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html 

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:26

I don’t recall why, but I when I was around four-years-old,  I decided to run away from home. Problem: I wasn’t allowed to cross the street.  So I trudged around the block with my little pink suitcase in one hand and my stuffed lion under my arm. Within twenty minutes I had circled the block and ended up back at home in tears.

What made me recall this incident I won’t  reveal how many decades later? While preparing to give a talk to some churchwomen, I found these children’s letters to God online. This one in particular spoke a deep truth.

As a small child, I had strict boundaries and knew the rules. It appears Dean does as well. As long as he looks both ways before crossing the street, nothing bad will happen to him, right?

If only life was so easy. As adults we get used to weighing the odds and making all the decisions. We set the rules. We decide our actions. We plot our course. Problem is, we can’t predict the future.

Sometimes we assume the way is clear. We quickly glance first then head out. WHAM – life hits us unexpectedly. Didn’t see that coming. Didn’t detect it, hear it, smell it, or even fathom it.  A tornado siren sounds one minute and your whole life ripped apart the next. The phone rings. A routine blood test comes back with bad news. A pink slip lands on your desk.

But after the shellshock, we may realize that someone was watching out for us. Something prepared us in ways we never knew. A hand held on and yanked us out of the way, or drew us closer.

 

A  quiet thought, steadfast rule, or profound statement imbedded in our subconscious begins to acts as a lifeline. We cling to it. Such as  Romans 8:28 or Philippians 4:6-7 or Psalm 121:3-8.

Or my mother’s admonition to never cross the street alone.

Perhaps we adults need to be more childlike and go back to the basics.  Ask permission. Seek guidance. Wouldn’t it be more wise to look again–just in case–instead of being so sure of ourselves as little Dean is? Maybe we need to grab Daddy’s hand more often, no matter how big we feel we are.

 

 

 

HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!

“On this day in 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation...A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would over the next three centuries revolutionize Western civilization.” * 


Out of one man’s protests five hundred years ago, many denominations, and even non-denoms, have sprung. Bibles, in the native language, have been placed in the hands of billions. Revivals have defrosted the frozen chosen.

Reformation – revival. Throughout Scripture God has used prophets, angels, His Son and His apostles, to realign His people with the Truth. We humans have a tendency to muddle it, complicate it, and even add conditions to it.

Every once in awhile the Church needs correction. Many believe it does today. Theologically, some pulpits have veered from Biblical straight and narrow path. Others have become too complacent and put the Great Commission on the back burner. Still others have divided over what hymns to sing, or what color the carpet down the center aisle should be.

Realign yourself with the Truth today. Nothing spooky about it, trust me. But it often takes gumption, and that can be a bit teeth chattering!  The outcome, however, is a treat--eternal life in the presence of the Lord as He smiles and says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) No tricks.

Lord, may October 31 remind us to safeguard the faith. Give us the fervor to always seek Your ways and not our own interpretations of it. Through your Son, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

*http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/martin-luther-posts-95-theses

False Security

 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved..John 10:9

I live in a gated community. In reality, it is little more than a false sense of security. I have lived here four years, and the code has never changed. Every pizza and package delivery knows it. The tenants who move in and out every six months to a year know it.  But even if the manager was more diligent in changing the code, it wouldn’t really matter.

The same gate that lets a car in also lets a car out. In this warren of residencies, one usually only has to wait a few minutes before another car appears, wishing to exit. No code needed. Slip right on through as they drive out. To avoid lawsuits, I imagine, the gates open and close very slowly, and if they detect a car in the path, they will stop and reopen. This allows at least two or three cars to zip through at a time.

What we need is a guard 24/7 to monitor who passes in and out. But that would be too pricey.

Why am I telling you all this? We each put up barriers and boundaries to keep us safe in our personal space. Rules, internal alarms, habits. However, there is also a gate. A gate you assume will stay closed during the times you want to stay safe, but in reality, can allow lots of things to seep in. That whisper that tells you this one time will be okay. You won’t really be breaking the rules. You are being bold, adventurous, trying something new. That new idea which makes you think perhaps your boundaries have been too rigid and unfair. An interpretation of Scripture that opens your eyes to a more broad understanding, adding a new lane along the road to salvation.

Jesus told His first-century listeners that He was the gate for the sheep. The people who heard His words understood the analogy. Shepherds would lead their sheep from pastures into a communal enclosed area at night. This was in order to watch over them and protect them from predators and poachers. The shepherds then laid down in the gap and guarded the entrance. Nothing came in or out without their permission.

The Holy Spirit is our mind’s gate. The gate code is the Word of God. Whenever something rattles our thoughts, we should ask, does it jibe with what I know to be Truth? Even so, if we rely solely on our own understanding, it can be a false security. Many people use the gate code, and not always for good purposes.

We need the Gatekeeper, 24/7. Don’tworry, He already paid the price.

 


Besides writing this  blog, I  have a digital ministry. The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month. Some are believers, others don’t know what to believe. All are seeking. We help them know Jesus.

But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

 

Compass-ion

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
I have a horrible sense of direction. No internal compass. As a child I was told my eyes faced north, the back of my head faced south, my left hand pointed west, and my right hand east. But no one explained they had purposely positioned me so this would be true. Later I learned to look for the sun. That gave me an idea where westward sort of was, so I had some sense of direction.
Today, we seem to no longer have a moral compass in our society. We have laws, but the goal now seems to be who has the smartest lawyer who can find a way for the law not to apply to their situation. Children are taught over-tolerance in school, to the point that all behavior is okay and acceptable.

When the Hebrew nation left Egypt, they had a physical guide–God’s compass-ion. Because He cared for them, He guided them safely in the way they needed to journey.

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.Nehemiah 9:19
In our life journey, the Bible is our best compass. When we look to the Son, Jesus, as our example, we get our moral and spiritual bearings. He shows us which way we should go. He is the Way (John 14:6). Because of His compass-ion, once we accept him as our Savior, He embeds an internal compass in our souls called The Holy Spirit to be our guide.
I may not know north from south at times, but I know Who to look for to point the way, be it a decision I need to make, a direction my life needs to go, or whether I should just stand, be still and wait. I look for the Son.
If you are feeling a bit lost today, seek the Compass-ion of God. Let Him direct your path. He won’t steer you wrong.

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html


Meandering

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
In school I was taught the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In the school of faith, I have learned God doesn’t always take the shortest route. More often than not He meanders.
A sprinkler began to leak at my apartment complex. The parking lot is sloped on purpose so the runoff will head for the creek beyond the trees. Easiest way for the water to flow? Diagonal straight line. Or so I’d think.
But it doesn’t. It makes weird twists and turns through the asphalt and concrete, being thwarted and changing directions by things I cannot see, or do not notice. It flows one way, then another, then another. Slowly…eventually, it will get to where it is supposed to be headed.
I stared at the trailing stream of water and saw my life. Very few times have things turned out as I planned. A circumstance suddenly altered my path. Something I couldn’t see. It led me a new direction for a while. At times I felt off track, and yet, from a bird’s eye view,  I was headed  the way I was supposed to go after all.
Once again I found a tangible way to remember to have faith. God is directing my path, when I let Him. Some obstacles are my doing, many are for His purpose. His ways are not mine. But eventually, I will get to where I need to go. There are lessons to learn along the way as I meander through His merciful and grace-filled landscape called life.
Lord, keep me flowing in the way You have designed. You are the source-spring of Living Water that flows through me and directs me in the way I need to go. Amen.

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html


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