Blessed are the starving beggars…even in the rich land of plenty

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I’ve been desperate for more of Jesus and in order to know Him better, I am reading through all 4 Gospels chronologically and in harmony with one another.

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Recently I read Matthew 16:5-12 and Mark 8:14-21. Here is Mark’s version:

“The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. Be careful,” Jesus warned them. Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?

“Twelve,” they replied. And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.”

He said to them, Do you still not understand?

Before this conversation the disciples sat and watched Jesus perform the amazing miracle on two different occasions of taking a small amount of bread and fish and multiplying it to feed thousands upon thousands with food leftover. The disciples didn’t get Jesus’ point here. It wasn’t even about the bread yet that was their focus.  Many times in my pride I read about the disciples and think, “Duh!!! Don’t you get it! Jesus is right in front of you! You can see His miracles, touch Him, and yet you still don’t trust Him or have faith?! C’mon!” Oh and then I immediately hear the voice of the Spirit in me…”Um…Christina? This is you. Don’t YOU get it? Don’t YOU understand what I’m doing? Don’t YOU see Jesus? I AM in You. Oh, YOU of little faith.”

Ouch. I hate the conviction but love when the Spirit speaks to me. Yes, I am the disciples in so many ways. When I am in one trial after another, I forget what Christ has done for me through the previous trials!  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has never left me. Even in times that I have strayed from Him, He was always there. He will supply all that I need, and not necessarily what I want in this life. Even when it hurts. But the bread that He offers me over and over again, Himself, the Bread of Life, is more than I could ever imagine. It’s more than anything I would ever desire on this temporary earth. Oh, why does my heart long for the things of this world?  Why can’t I see that Jesus is enough? That even when I don’t understand like the disciples…when I miss what He is trying to teach me to change my heart…when I take my eyes off Jesus and onto the storms of life like Peter….when I can’t seem to have enough faith that Jesus is the One that can help me conquer my temptations….Jesus has always been and always will be enough Bread.

I have to be humble enough to desperately need this Bread. But that’s the problem isn’t? We don’t know what it’s like here in America to be so needy for physical bread to the point that we are starving beggars; we can’t comprehend being that needy for the Bread who supplies the bread. Have you noticed that it’s hard to show people how needy they are for Someone to save them when they don’t believe they need to be saved from anything? It’s common to hear, “Look at my life. Why would I need God?” And for American Christians, we acknowledge that we need Jesus to save us from sin and hell, yet we are guilty of living the rest of our lives like atheists. We got the “get out of hell” card and don’t live each day desperate for Jesus.

What a complete contrast to what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s only taken me 26 years of being a Christ-follower to comprehend what this means.

As I’m passionately studying the life of Jesus, I am also reading the book, Compelled by Love by Heidi Baker. I read Always Enough last year and pretty much wept through it from conviction.compelled by love Heidi and her husband, Rolland, have a ministry called Iris Global. If you want to be so heavily convicted by our apathetic Western Christianity and your eyes open to the love and compassion of Jesus, you need to check out their ministry and read their books.  The first chapter in Compelled by Love is on the verse above about the poor in spirit. The Bakers minister to orphans and the poor in Mozambique, Africa (and their mission has spread globally). These people have nothing. And I mean…nothing from war, famine, floods.

Heidi asks the question that I started asking a year ago, “Many ask why Jesus reserves the kingdom of God for the poor in spirit. Why is it that the wealthiest people and cultures experience fewer miracles and less of the supernatural? What does it mean to be poor in spirit? There is something about the poor that delights the heart of God. They are contrite. They know they are in need. But what is it about them that draws the kingdom of God to Earth? The answer to this lies in their dependency, hunger, need, and desperation.”

What does that look like in Mozambique? She continues, “If God doesn’t show up, no one else will either. If God does not heal, we will be dead. If God does not deliver, demons will torment the people to death. Every day we depend on Him for our daily bread to feed the multitudes. We rely on God. In Jesus we have all that we need. He died that there would be more than enough. We watch God multiply food to feed the masses, just as Jesus took a few fish and loaves of bread to feed the hungry.”

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Picture from Iris Global. Click here for more.

What does this look like in America?  I pause. I pause at my keyboard because I’m perplexed. What does it look like to be poor in spirit living in the richest land of the world? Ask Brett, and he will tell you that some days I wake up and want to give away everything we own, and then other days I remember that God has blessed us with what we do have and we are to be His stewards. God in His sovereignty created me to be born in this century in upstate New York to a mid-class family. Raised in the Big Valley of Pennsylvania and corn fields of central Indiana. Not an orphan in Mozambique. I am in the land of the free and plenty. And God has placed me right where He wants me.

Many of you reading this may have a similar life. We have never had to live meal to meal wondering if there will be enough bread. I’m convicted: are we truly thankful for the food in front of us?  We ramble out a quick prayer of “God thank you for this food that we are about to eat” before our kids start to devour their plates. Oh and as a dietitian, my favorite is, “God bless this food that we are about to eat for the nourishment of our bodies.” I usually take a peek at the actual food we are about to eat and silently laugh with God when it’s pizza or some other type of food that barely has any nutritional value in it except for a bunch of empty calories to grow our waistlines or satisfy our food addictions. Here me out; I ain’t hating on pizza. Just making a point hey.

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We don’t take the time to look at the food in front of us and weep over the fact that we don’t have to worry about our next meal!  I don’t have to beg for food so that my kids can eat!  Or God forbid, sell myself so that my child doesn’t have to die or be sold herself.  I shudder at the thought, but it’s happening to other moms somewhere.  Or we are too busy worrying about which diet works best, try this new product or nutrition phenomenon, whether we should or shouldn’t be eating gluten, organic, or GMO foods when we’ve missed the point of eating and WHO the Bread is that supplies the food.  If you’ve read my previous blog posts that I am linking throughout this (which I hope you do to hear my whole heart), I’m all for eating healthy. I mean, I kinda went to 4 years of college, finished a certified internship, took a national exam, and take continued education to keep my passion for nutrition alive. However, I can’t help but think that the people in Mozambique wouldn’t even know what the word “organic” meant. (Do YOU even know what it means? Because the food industry, media, wants you to be confused. Ok…I regress…a topic for another day).  Someone puts food in front of the poor, they won’t care if it’s gluten-free, all organic, non-GMO, etc. It’s life-giving food. That’s it. It’s.that.simple. Just like the gospel is eternal life-giving food. Jesus really is.that.simple. Maybe we’ve complicated Him like we’ve complicated our food.

Then I can’t help but think, why can the poor who have no food be able to eat what is put in front of them without fear of the food damaging their bodies? I mean that is why we are trying figure out which foods are “good” and “bad” so that we can be healthy rather sick and miserable, right? Their bodies have not been fed the vast variety of what we have put in our bodies. They have nothing and are fed and healed by a small portion of bread that was multiplied. Why? Because they have faith in the One who supplies the bread to live and heal them from physical AND more importantly spiritual death. It then hit me. We in the West are actually killing ourselves with plenty. We have obesity, immune disorders, inflammatory diseases and many other preventable disease because of plenty. Because of too much of a good thing. Because the snack aisle has 1000 choices. Because of lack of self-control. Because of addictions. Because we act like we do not.need.Jesus.

Our lack of desperation for Jesus is not only spiritually killing us but may actually be physically killing us.  “Ok, Christina. You are being so extreme.” Yes, maybe I am but you know…maybe I’m not. God has tremendously blessed us with plenty, but we have taken for granted the bread He has provided rather than glorying Him with it, taking care of our Temples with it, giving it away, blessing and discipling others around the table with it, multiplying it rather than wasting it. Instead of using the bread for God’s glory, we’ve become sluggards, addicts, food snobs, made our bellies our gods, shortened our life expectancy, given into what tastes good at the expense of our health and pocketbooks, and even judged, secluded, and inflicted on others our own opinions on food.

And Heidi agrees with me: “The challenge in the West is that many are too full. We have smorgasbords, buffets, and restaurants at almost every corner. So, people in the Western world are often just not hungry…I see that the church is often surviving on spiritual crumbs…I was looking out on a conference crowd of people who all seemed to be well fed. But superimposed over these people, I saw bloated bellies like my malnourished African children. I saw these people scavenging in the garbage like our homeless children, barely surviving off crumbs under the table. Now, we need to get them to understand how God teaches us that He can feed all the hungry, both rich and poor.”

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Picture from Iris Global

We’ve missed the point. We are like the disciples and really don’t understand. We forget and have to be reminded over and over the reason why Jesus is the Bread of Life. That His body was broken for us, like He broke the bread to feed the masses. The miracle was in the breaking of the bread. The miracle is in Jesus’ body breaking on the cross so that we can find forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life. And when we are distracted by the bread that this world offers and are not desperate for the eternal Bread, we miss the miracles that Jesus wants to display in our lives every single day. He is the Bread that fills me so that I can be a miracle that overflows with His love. As I desperately eat, I am filled to pour out to others. To help feed the rich and poor alike who are starving for more, even in the land of plenty.

Looking deep in the waitress’ eyes, she is hungry because when we ask to pray for her, she says “that I’ll be happy.”  That neighbor is desperate for something more because after asking her to come to church she replies, “Maybe I will. I need to do something different.”  That dancer wants someone to love her and is doing whatever it takes to provide for her children.  That co-worker needs to be invited over for dinner to show him how to feast on the Bread of Life instead of sharing coffee and donuts in the break room.  And it doesn’t stop there as Heidi continues: “God calls us to the emotionally poor and broken….those who are hungry, sick and needy, the old and the forgotten…the latchkey children and the fatherless….prisoners, felons, the homeless, immigrants, addicts, and those in great pain. Those who know they need help and are desperate for God and hungry for His presence will be satisfied, as this beatitude promises.”

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Therefore, to answer my question: what does it look like to be poor in spirit living in the richest land of the world?  Heidi answers, “Poor in spirit is a posturing of the heart other than an economic position… I believe being poor in spirit is a choice – a decision – we all have to make to go low still, fully dependent on the One who is always dependable.”

Your belly is full and your pocketbook has plenty (don’t kid yourself…if you have a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes on your back you are wealthy), but are you poor in spirit? Are you desperately depending only on Jesus?  In America, we sure don’t look hungry on the outside, but we are starving beggars inside.   Maybe it’s a trial you are facing and you are focusing on the storm rather than the One who says, “Be still.”  Your health is suffering and you are looking for the magic nutritional supplement instead of the Healer. Your finances are running out and you need the Provider. You’re under spiritual oppression and you need the Deliverer. You are in bondage to that sin when you need Freedom. You are running away rather than into the Arms of Grace. You are anxious about your children, marriage, job, [fill in the blank] and need the Prince of Peace. You are fighting depression and looking for happiness in your false idols instead of the Ultimate Joy. Your identity is in  _______ and not the One who purchased you with His blood. You are chasing the fleeting American Dream rather than the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

Regardless of who you are, where you live, what storm is in front of you, how much bread you will or will not eat today, Jesus is speaking to YOU not only the disciples! And wants to bless YOU not only the physically poor… but only if you are poor in spirit; spiritually needy, desperate, insecure, and dependent only on Him.  I want more of this Bread. I don’t want to miss Him and His miracles in my life, even in my Western worldview and the land of plenty. I don’t need to fear tomorrow’s bread, so I surely don’t need to fear the next trial, temptation, and storm that comes my way. He is with me. He supplies everything I need to then go feed the spiritually hungry that I meet every day.

Oh, my heart’s cry is that we will finally understand. It gives me hope that the disciples finally understood; they all died as martyrs so the gospel of the Bread of Life will continue to be multiplied so the masses can eat this Bread and live for all eternity.

My desire is to someday go to Mozambique and look into the eyes of the poor in spirit there. I have been told that is one place where you will find the kingdom of heaven. But until then, I am striving to find the kingdom of heaven right where I am at so I pray…

“Oh, Jesus, help me with my unbelief and to understand how to be poor in spirit so mine is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Fruit that is Good and Pleasing to the Eye – Part 2

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img_3260In Part 1, I touched on ministry and social media.  Here are two more fruits that are good and pleasing to the eye that can turn into the bitter fruit of disobedience.

Food:  I’m going to be blunt and just say it. We have made food a major sin problem.  Food was one of the things that God created for Adam and Eve to enjoy in the Garden of Eden. And they most likely did not need to eat the fruit since their source of life was God.  However, since sin came into the world, food is one of the necessities of life.

God gave us food not only to live but also to enjoy.  Yet if you haven’t noticed, we enjoy it a little too much.  40.4% of women, 35% of men, 29.5% of girls, and 29.7% of boys in the US are obese. (stats from World Obesity Federation 2013-14).  We don’t eat because we are hungry.  We eat because we are bored, stressed, and highly addicted to the taste.  Eating is a major part of celebrations and holidays, culture traditions, and social events. And we have all heard, “eat your plate because children are starving in Africa.”  What? Who even started that phrase?  Eat everything regardless if you are full because some child won’t get any food. It’s almost an insult when you really think about it.  Waste the food by shoving it down your own throat just so you don’t feel guilty that someone somewhere won’t have a meal tonight. C’mon.

Oh and speaking of wasting food…..do you know that we waste 50% of food grown, prepared, served?   50%. I’m guilty myself; we all are.  But I wanted to puke after hearing that and then listening to an agriculture company (which I will not name) explain why they believe genetically-modifying food is absolutely necessary: because we won’t have enough food to feed the 9.7 billion people by 2050, according to the UN.

I’m not here to give you my opinion on GMO foods. (although it is a little “trying to be God” when you watch how they extract the DNA from strawberries or change the DNA of corn so that worms won’t eat it).  My point here is that at this conference I attended, basically in the same sentence I heard how much food is wasted, there’s too many people in this world, and therefore, we need to create more food. Ok. But how about making strides to re-purpose or prevent food waste so that we can take that 50% and feed the kids who are starving in Africa.    We either over stuff our faces….or we waste it.   This is a problem.  And honestly, we can try to do everything right, but it won’t ever go away until Jesus Christ comes back and redeems this earth.

My question to you then is this: what can you personally do about this problem of stuffing or wasting? It would be an interesting challenge to calculate how much money we personally waste in food. That would include both the amount we eat more than our bodies physically need (stuffing) and and the amount thrown out that we bought but didn’t eat (wasting). Then give that estimated amount to our local homeless shelter.

Or is food a source of sin to you in another way?  I could go on and on with several other examples of how Satan uses food to destroy us instead of bring blessing.  Enjoy the wonderful and delicious food that God has given you but ask the Spirit to show you if food is an idol and/or is destroying your health because of personal choices.

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Sex: “Really, Christina?” Yep. I’m on a soap box roll, so I might as well keep going.  This topic is an awkward one and no one wants to talk about it.  I grew up in the generation where no one talked about the s-e-x word.  But it needs to be talked about because Satan has taken the shiny fruit of beautiful, God-given gift of sex and DESTROYED it.  And I know that you have noticed this apple being a major source of sin outside marriage and how God intended it to be.

I have recently been so burdened by how destructive sex has become in our world. I literally wept and wept the other week crying out to God regarding this issue.  If I could have washed Jesus’ feet with my tears, they would have been clean over and over again. I cried out for..

…my dear friends who have been sexually abused, used, raped.

….my husband who has to daily fight temptation when he goes to the store or is on his computer and an ad pops up when he is researching film equipment.

….the thousands of women and children who are forced into sex slavery all over the world, and maybe right in your neighborhood.

….my little boy who has to grow up and face his own temptations.

….my beautiful little girl who is becoming not so little anymore and is growing up to be looked upon as a sex object.

…my new friends who dance at the strip club where I minister.

Since I have a growing intense compassion for anyone a part of Satan’s destruction of sex, this past year I became involved with a local ministry at a church in Indianapolis called, Unconditional.  Once a month, we divide up into teams and head out to 7 different clubs in Indy bringing gifts to all the employees, specifically reaching the dancers.  Our mission: “to unconditionally love women in the sex industry with the love of Christ, to empower and encourage them on their journey, and equip them for a full and healthy life.”   Jesus went to the sick who needed a Savior.  Many of these girls will not step foot in a church, so we, the Church, are going to them. I have been so blessed and humbled by this ministry. God is moving in the Indianapolis strip clubs!

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When I was weeping, I thought abut how sex is a gift that God gave us to enjoy only here on earth.  I mentioned this to Brett and this was his response: Everything about marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ (the Groom) and the Church (the Bride). That includes God’s gift of sex. The enjoyment that a husband and wife experience during sex is a foretaste of the heavenly bliss, the ultimate ecstasy that the Church will experience in heaven. So why wouldn’t Satan attack and seek to destroy one of the most beautiful moments that God has given us to experience?

And Satan has done exactly that.  And this is why I will fight to preserve this gift by waging war on my knees in prayer, teaching my children biblical truth over the world’s lies, showing love to a dancer, and sponsoring a child to meet his needs and rescue him from the evils of sex slavery.

Food and sex: 2 necessities of life. 2 choices. Obey God and take a bite that brings life and blessing or follow the ways of Satan and take a bite which will steal, kill, and destroy.

That darn apple.

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That darn apple.

Many reading this may be very familiar with the Genesis 3 account of Adam and Eve committing the first sin, which brought sin and death into the world. Let’s review God’s command:

“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”            Genesis 2:9, 16-17

As I wrote the above, it hit me that food was used as the determining factor of either continuing life or choosing death for Adam and Eve.  I mean, duh, I knew that but it didn’t really sink in until now.  I sit here and wonder if Adam and Even had to eat in order to live. They were human, although perfect. Yet, on the other hand, they were in the presence of God, the source of Life.  And death was only brought on if they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (aka “the tree”), and not because they didn’t eat at all. Which we imperfect humans would die if we don’t eat. Maybe someone with a bunch of theology credentials behind their name can tell me that one.  Either way, God gave them food to eat. And not just any food, but good and pleasing to the eye food.  I’d like to have a taste of that.

Well, if you know the story, Adam and Even ate the fruit from the tree and death entered the world.  One fruit. One bite each. Forever their lives and the rest of mankind changed for all time.   That darn fruit. We don’t know what it was but I’m gonna just say it’s an apple from good ole children’s Sunday school curriculum.   I wonder what that apple looked like?   Genesis 3:6 says, When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye…” Therefore, it had to be very similar to the other fruit on every other tree in the garden that she could eat from.  It was good and pleasing to the eye. It was shiny and perfect and clean. After all, God did create it.  All that He created was good. And God does not create sin. Keep in mind that the apple was not sin; the act of choosing to eat the fruit was sin because it disobeyed God’s command. Big difference.

I can picture hundreds of trees in the garden, and somehow Eve and Adam ended up right beside THAT tree.   Were they going on a leisurely, romantic walk hand-in-hand one day and came across the tree?  Maybe they were chasing an animal for fun and it led them under the tree.  Or maybe they just plain were curious.  They wanted to see if the fruit was really any different than the other fruit trees.  You know how we humans are: say don’t touch or don’t do, and we want to get as close as possible, and if you are my kids, you do the opposite of what was just told.   Regardless, the Bible doesn’t say how they got to the tree.  All we know is that they were at the tree and a serpent started talking.

Satan hasn’t changed since that first encounter with humans in the garden.  I’d like to give Adam and Eve the benefit of the doubt, and maybe they were taking a leisurely walk minding their own business and then out of nowhere, a serpent is talking from the tree that they didn’t even realize they were so near to.  Once Satan got their attention, he laid it on them with half-truths. He knew right where to lure Eve. He had the perfect bait. All he had to do was keep her focused on that fruit on that tree.  Distract her from the hundreds of blessings of good and pleasing to the eye fruit around her.  But oh, it looked just like the others! How could it be any different? And if it looked the same, wouldn’t it taste the same?

I do wonder what it tasted like.  Because Eve chose to disobey God, I like to think that it was bitter.  The Bible says that she took some and ate it, and then gave some to Adam.  Maybe the first bite wasn’t so bad.  However, I want to believe that each bite would have been more bitter than the first.

Take a bite. “I can get away with it because it wasn’t so bad.  No one noticed.”

Take another bite. “I can handle this.”

Take another bite.  “Ugh. Yuck. I don’t care though because I need more!”

Take another bite.  “This isn’t satisfying me. The next bite will!”

Take another bite. “I’m addicted even though it leaves a horrible aftertaste.”

Solomon described this well in Proverbs 25:16 ~

“If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.”

I have written beside this verse in my Bible, “What I think will fulfill my desires only makes me sick!”

Oh that darn apple.  I think it will satisfy me because I believed the lies of Satan: “See, it’s perfect and shiny.  It can satisfy you even more than the others! God’s design of love for you is not good enough.  Take a bite. Try it and see.”

And then after the first bite and then the second and third and so on, I realize that this ain’t tasting so good. This is not satisfying me, and instead I’m sick!

Why? Because there is only one thing that truly satisfies. Everything else is a copycat that Satan dangles in front of us to convince us that it’s better than the original. And it will all make me sick if I’m replacing it for Jesus.  Oh, I’ve been there my friend. Haven’t we all?  Replacing Jesus, the only One who can fulfill me for a darn apple that Satan lured me with. Just taking a leisure walk and he called me over. Distracted me. I ate and ate. And soon got sick until I realized that this will never satisfy.

OH! but I praise Jesus for redemption. For paying my penalty of eating the apple so that I do not have to experience eternal death and separation from God!   My sins have been removed from the east to the west and remembered no more.  Yes, when I choose to disobey and take a bite, I must pay the consequences of eating the apple. But by His grace and everlasting love, Jesus’ death and resurrection once and for all flushed out all remnants of that bitter aftertaste left behind.

What’s that darn apple in your life? What is the copycat fruit that Satan is luring at you? Walk right on past it. Don’t look. Don’t believe his lies and half-truths. Don’t get distracted on what you can’t have and look around to all the blessings that you do have. That apple will never satisfy.  Run my friend. Run into the arms of Jesus who will always satisfy.

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you. ~Psalm 63:1-5

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me..” – Jesus

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In my previous post, I shared how it is more important to focus on what we feed our children spiritually than physically. Jesus told his disciples that he has food to eat that they nothing about.  Jesus wasn’t done teaching his disciples his object lesson with food.  (Which as a dietitian, I love the food analogies in the Bible!)

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, four months more and then harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying, One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”             (John 4:34-38)

Jesus says that “the food” is doing the will of God and completing His work. I am His child, and like Jesus, He has given me a purpose and will for me on this earth. That purpose is to sow and reap the fields; sowing and reaping the harvest of souls that need salvation that comes from Jesus!

Do you see that the harvest is ready?  When news about ISIS, cops being killed, Christians being martyred, religious freedoms taken away flood our news feeds, at first glance it looks like no one wants Jesus.  However, it’s the complete opposite.  I need to open my eyes WIDER and look at the fields – to the people around me. Because deep down, so many are crying out for help. They are looking for a solution to this world’s problems. They are ripe. And I have believed the lie that Satan wants us to believe: there is no harvest. Stop trying. Give up. Go back to your comfortable lifestyle.

I can say those things because I believed those lies for too long which blinded my eyes to the harvest of souls. Yet, as my passion for Jesus has grown the past few months, my passion for people, specifically the lost without Jesus, has grown. The more we know Jesus, the more we see that He was ALL about people.

I recently read the book Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels. If you want to know how to sow seeds and reap the harvest of souls, pick up this book now!  It taught me practical advice on how to “walk across the room”  and Living in 3-D: develop friendships, discover their stories, and discern next steps by following the Holy Spirit’s direction. The goal is to allow the Spirit to use you to move the person at least one step closer to Jesus or maybe a giant leap!

I have felt defeated in the past when I share the gospel and the person doesn’t give his/her life to Jesus. Or I’ll give a track and see them laugh or throw it away.  Or I have gotten to the point with some people that I’ve given up and told God there is nothing left for me to do. While true, I cannot save the person, I have to remember what Jesus meant in the passage above:  There may be times that I am sowing the seeds of the gospel by introducing the free gift of salvation to people, while other times I may be the reaper and being used to see that person come to receive that gift of salvation. OR I may be somewhere in the middle of the harvest process. Yet, no matter where God places me in the process, I am helping to complete God’s work and bring glory to Him.

What is your field? It shouldn’t take you long to figure that out. Look around right where you are. Doesn’t matter where you are. Home, work, store, missionary field, airplane, hospital, on Facebook reading this blog….  That’s your field; right where God has placed you.

Back in December, Brett “walked across his keyboard” by sharing the gospel through Facebook with a girl who was desperate for hope. Brett shared the Only Hope, Jesus, and she gave her life to Him changing the direction of her earthly life and eternal life.    For about 6 years, I have “walked across the yard” planting seeds with my neighbor.  Many times I felt like I said the wrong thing or not enough. However, I was a friend. I cared. I showed her who Jesus is and who He can be in her life.  Less than 2 weeks ago, she was ripe and gave her life over to Jesus!

A good friend of ours is currently in the hospital from a ruptured appendix.  It was so severe that the infection spread to his blood (sepsis), and he came close to dying. Yet, even though he can’t eat much right now, he is taking Jesus’ food, and doing the work he was sent to do right there in the hospital as he suffers.  Even though he has tubes and monitors hooked up to him and cannot physically get out of bed, he keeps “walking across the ICU” by writing gospel letters to the other patients and sharing Jesus with his nurses.  As of now, a nurse accepted Jesus as her Lord, and then our friend used that nurse’s phone to Skype to a patient in another room to pray with her to receive Jesus!

If you are a parent, don’t forget that we have a harvest of little souls that we feed, bathe, play, wipe, snuggle, teach daily.  As a mom of small kids, there are so many days that I end thinking, “did I do ANYTHING that counted for eternity?”  But every time I “walk across the room” to change my son’s poopy diaper, teach my daughter phonics, discipline disobedience, pray over them as I put them to bed, I’m planting seeds.  I may not see the harvest for a long time, but if I’m faithful with receiving Jesus’s food and doing what He has sent me to do right where I am at, then I can have hope of reaping the benefits of all my labor.

Last week Kherington came out of her bedroom at night crying huge tears.  I asked her what was wrong. Her sobbing reply, “Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I want Jesus!  I want Jesus!”

She still does not fully comprehend the gospel, but Brett and I looked at each other and didn’t have to say anything.  Seeds. She’s listening. She’s watching.  Harvest is coming.

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“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” – Jesus

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This post is for those who have felt guilty for:

Not feeding their children organic foods…

or gluten-free…

or only farm-raised, cage-free, antibiotic free meat and eggs….

or veggies right from your backyard garden.

Instead, you occasionally feed your children…

processed food…

food that comes in a box with more than 5 ingredients….

Genetically Modified (GMO) corn, soy, ….

gluten…Yes…gluten…

chicken from the grocery store that’s frozen…

veggies and fruit that are not organic because you can’t afford those other ones….

fast food because you have worked hard all day meeting all your children’s other needs that you didn’t have time to make dinner from scratch….

ice cream for dinner.

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Can I tell you a secret… I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and I confess to feed my children all the big ‘No-No’s” above.  And I have felt Mom Guilt over not feeding only organic foods and only farm-raised, cage-free, antibiotic free chicken and eggs. I don’t have a garden, and I don’t buy ANY organic fruits and vegetables. Yep. Gasp.

But then I stop and think about what I do feed my children, why I feed my children what I do, and am reminded that there is something more important that they need than food itself.  And I don’t feel guilty anymore.  Want to stop the guilt? Let’s see what Jesus has to say about food:

“Meanwhile [Jesus’] disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them
I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’
Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’ Jesus said,
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.  ~ John 4:31-34

This conversation between Jesus and the disciples came immediately after Jesus met with the woman at the well in John 4. It was hot, and they were hungry. The disciples urged Jesus to eat before traveling on again to Galilee. I can relate to this as a dietitian; I teach my clients how to meal plan and to be prepared so they can make conscious choices in the case of the unknown. And as a mom, I make sure that my kids are nourished and fed before heading out the door because  who wants to hear a child wining over and over again, “I’m hungry!”

However, Jesus had another lesson to teach about spiritual nourishment right after talking about giving living water to the woman at the well. Jesus’ food has more nutrition and substance to fill our bodies than any physical food we can eat. Yes, any food, including the cage-free, antibiotic free chicken or organic veggies. We tend to put too much hope in these “natural” foods. The food industry has made us convinced that our children WILL be healthier, and live longer and happier lives.  Some sacrifice financially to pay for the organic. Or drive a little farther to Whole Foods. Or even chase around their own chickens!  I think that’s awesome!  However, for me and my family right now, we CANNOT do these things. I have learned to be content rather guilty and focus on what I CAN do to feed my family the best I can, and trust that God will provide all our needs, including our health.

Yet, I’m not putting my hope in physical food. I want to give my children the food that Jesus provides that cannot be found in this world, or even my own backyard. Jesus found nourishment, fulfillment, and joy from doing the will of His Father, God, and completing the work that His Father sent Him to earth to do: to seek and save the lost, you and me.

Therefore, instead of stressing about which product MIGHT give my child more nutrients, my main focus should be to ensure that my children are spiritually fed: teaching them about the Bread of Life, Jesus.  However, I am quickly learning that I cannot do this if I am spiritually dehydrated. I become spiritually dehydrated if I am being fed on the theories and views of the world, Hollywood, government, TV, Facebook, mommy blogs. What goes in will come out. Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” This food is toxic and destroying. I will not be doing the will of God and completing the work He has called me to do if I am held captive to the worldviews in this day and age, including what the food industry, the newest food fad, even health professionals try to stuff down my throat if it is leading me to be obsessed and worried.

Instead, spiritual satisfaction and fulfillment comes from eating the food that Jesus offers.  I need to be daily reading, studying, memorizing God’s Word and hitting my knees in prayer. However, it doesn’t stop there. I need to then take the next step of applying the Word and living it out into my daily life. My children are watching. And if my phone looks more interesting, then I’m feeding them the junk of this world.

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What I am feeding my children spiritually is more important than what I’m feeding them physically. However, that doesn’t give us a free pass to eat what we want. God has provided us physical food to give energy and nutrients for our bodies to function properly. Your children need to eat to live. However, they also become what they eat.  If you feed your kids junk, their bodies will become junk, sluggish, obese, fatigued. You will kill them slowly.  Or more likely, faster. These next generations of kids are dying sooner than their parents because of being hit with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.  “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) I believe that we cannot be glorifying God and doing the work He sent us to do if we are sick and can help it or…if we are dead!

What are you physically and spiritually eating today?  What are you feeding your children?  My hope is that you remove any guilt with what you feed your children physically, and start focusing more on what you feed your children spiritually. After all, my prayer is that Kherington and Damon are passionate about Jesus and experience joy only found in Him, rather than become the healthiest and “happiest” kids without an eternal hope in Jesus.

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Is Holiday Food an Idol?

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It’s that time of year!  Most people love the holiday season while others imitate Scrooge. {Insert my hubby}.   Well, he is not necessarily Scrooge, but he is against starting the Christmas traditions too early. Like decorating or listening to Christmas music right after Halloween…  And he was not too happy that it snowed here in Indianapolis last weekend!

Don’t get me wrong. Brett loves Christmas, but what bothers us the most is that we, even as Christians, have fallen into the temptation of making it all about everything else {insert ourselves} more than Jesus Christ. And no, I’m not siding with boycotting the red cup from Starbucks.  I do think it’s easy to idolize the holidays, especially all the traditions we’ve made with it. No, traditions are not bad.  However, anything good in this life becomes an idol once we’ve made it more important than Jesus.

One idol that I feel strong about is food. And around the holidays…it’s pretty much food…food…and more food. And here is what I mean: We HAVE to eat that certain recipe, we HAVE to bake 12 different kinds of cookies, we HAVE to serve only Pinterest perfect party dishes, we HAVE to stuff ourselves full on Thanksgiving…because that’s just what we do!  Hey, I’m guilty of all of these (well, except Pinterest since I avoid that site due to feelings of anxiety).

Food is a part of our culture and how we celebrate the holidays. I don’t think that’s wrong, but if we make it an idol, then it is wrong.  We can sit around the table taking turns sharing what we are thankful for, but then we go and engorge ourselves an average of 4500 calories.  Again, guilty here.

Some people even gain up to 5 pounds during the holiday season.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus’ birthday is all about.  A red “Christmas” cup or displaying a decorative sign I saw in Kohl’s last week that said, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” is not how we keep Christ the center of our focus either.  When it comes to food around the holidays, I think it starts by making conscious choices that are honoring to God.  Be thankful for your food, and then show your thankfulness by taking care of your body that is His Temple and dwelling place.

For more ways to honor Christ this Christmas with your food, watch my video for tips on making healthy choices and keeping those extra pounds off:

And for the rest of the year, here is 7 EASY ways to schedule in healthy behaviors:

 

Just giving you a few things to “chew” on before taking that second piece of pie.