Life Juice

Insight into truly living amidst a culture of survival.

It’s All About Food

Have you ever considered the element of food and meals as it relates to us and God? I was just thinking about this recently, possibly after taking communion at church or simply in relation to thanking God before a meal. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that so much could be related back to food, either directly or through a fitting analogy. Still not convinced? Here are some key moments in scripture that are food related:

Adam and Eve in the Garden, aka The Fall- This was all about food. Right there in the beginning the only thing God commanded, the only rule that he set, was to not eat something. Specifically, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And what happened? They ate it anyway, and thus were cursed and ejected from the Garden.

Jacob and Esau- Food played a part in different aspects of this sibling rivalry. From Esau trading his birthright for a bowl of stew, to Jacob impersonating Esau by giving his father, Isaac, some meat (though he also had to make himself seem hairy for when his near-blind father questioned his identity) in order to receive the blessing meant for the first-born, this passage really shows the power that hunger can have over affections, desires and even the ability to make decisions.

Joseph rules Egypt- Though much of his life was tumultuous and tragic, it ultimately led and prepared Joseph for the fulfillment of the promise God once gave him in a dream. How did God achieve that? Through food, of course. After positioning Joseph in the proper place next to Pharaoh, God gave Joseph the wisdom to store up seven years of surplus food, so that when the seven years of famine came afterward, Joseph became simultaneously the most loved and the richest man in all Egypt. Not only that, but He was able to use the turn of events to reconcile the sons of Israel and completely fulfill His promise to a faithful Joseph.

Manna from heaven- Along with His guiding presence, the one thing God made sure to provide to the Israelites during the Exodus in the desert was manna. This He gave daily, so that their hunger would be satisfied. And what is more interesting is how He provided it- it cost them nothing, yet if they tried to be greedy or gluttonous, taking more than they should, it would become putrid and worse than having none at all.

Jesus born in a Manger & Last Supper- Most theologians would tell you that the entirety of the Bible is centered around the person of Jesus Christ- everything either points forward to His coming, or back to His coming, or both back to  His coming and forward to His coming again. So it is interesting to see that the single-most important birth in history has our Savior being placed in a manger, or a feeding trough. At the start He is parallelled with food, and later on, we see Him offering everlasting water to the woman at the well and claiming to be the “bread of life”, with the symbolism culminating in the Last Supper. In this Passover meal, He said that the bread was His body, that was broken for us, and that the wine was His blood, shed for us and poured out in the establishment of the new covenant.

Peter & the Gentiles- After the formation of the Church, God gave Peter a vision to show and establish the acceptance and inclusion of gentile believers alongside Jewish believers. He got the message across with food, saying that all food was acceptable. This was a major event for many reasons, and the reason it was so important here was that the Jews were known, or stood apart, because of their food laws and customs. If that was no longer a barrier, then they could dine with Gentiles, which was one of the best expressions of fellowship and brotherhood in their culture. Their daily food here was no longer needed to set them apart because they were now set apart by the “bread of life,” Jesus.

These are just a handful of key moments in scripture that relate directly to food. They show how God throughout Scripture reveals so much about our hunger- our desires, appetites, and needs, along with countless other ways our physical requirement of eating correlates with our overall well-being. He establishes that He alone is and can be the fulfillment of our hunger, the satiation of our innumerable longings.

Still don’t see the connection? Let’s talk about it over lunch.

The Morning Train

The labor pains from his stillborn dream lingered into the morning. This was supposed to be his day, the day that life began, and yet here he was- broken, dejected, and embarrassed. How could he have messed up so badly? How could everything that he had worked so hard for, given up countless hours of sleep to create, have been for naught?

What seemed to make it worse was that here, on this train home, nobody even knew. His life had just folded into an existential nightmare, and not a single person on this train had even the slightest idea of what had happened. To them, he was just another commuter, if he even amounted to that much. He supposed he may not even be noticed by most of them, passing by invisibly. What a difference an hour could make! It was supposed to turn out the other way, where soon, his name would be on the lips of many, and recognition would follow him wherever he went. But instead, he fell lower into the ranks of failure, and the dead dream was the weight that held him there.

Thinking back on that particular moment of rejection, the one that stood above the rest in its destructive power, threatened to dismantle him when it took the central position in his thoughts. Could he have foreseen this? He remembered the inception, when the idea had really taken hold of him. It was such a great idea at the time, and it seemed that his entire life had shaped him to accomplish it, and that his purpose and fulfillment were intimately entwined with its outcome. Was it his purpose only to suffer?

He remembered the fire that had only just been extinguished in that watershed moment. It had been so voracious in him, devouring his thoughts, burning through morning after morning- and he had lived for it. He felt alive in a way that rivaled other monumental moments of his life. He felt he was on to something that was significant; though it was hidden he had found it out, and it would revolutionize the world. Without that fire, what was there? And after all, who did he think he was to “revolutionize” anything? Was there even anything original in him? He thought about all the time he wasted chasing what wasn’t there as the train slipped into the darkness of the tunnel.

He wasn’t sure what to tell the others who had believed in him, especially his wife. She had sacrificed a lot to get him to this point, and now he had nothing to offer her- just an empty shell that formerly held a vibrant spark. What was worse is that he didn’t know how to face the others who had been right, those that scoffed and mocked his now deceased dream. He had defended it, cherished it in spite of their derision, and somehow they were right. His dream had been a lie.

The blinding sunlight stunned him out of his abstraction. He had left the train for a while, but it had carried him still. It wouldn’t be long now before he was home. The thoughts of what he would do tomorrow morning now that he had no fire to stoke began to subdue him. They mostly revolved around avoiding life, and avoiding exposure to it. But that dream haunted him still. Even though it had died over and again in that meeting room, he could still feel it tingling deep inside, like its heartbeat was refusing to be stilled. A thought struck him- if this dream was the result of imagination juxtaposed against his world, then maybe it could be revived with more imagination. Maybe it could become something more, something stronger than it was. Yes, it had almost died back there, but it didn’t have to stay dead. It could be like a phoenix, coming back from the ashes only to fly to new heights.

As the train came around the last curve before his station, he could sense a small, quiet heartbeat deep in his soul, a faint suggestion of life. No, it was not as strong as it had been, but it was alive. He would need to feed it, to raise it up and make it stronger. He would use what they had tried to kill it with to reinforce it. Already ideas were beginning to form in his amniotic imagination, the lifeblood of dreams. He would try again, always cultivating that fire within him to fully realise the dream. After all, without the dream he was just another man on a train.

Who we are

We as a people seem to have what we do and who we are intertwined so that one directly informs the other. While I do not think that this is wrong, I do believe that we tend to have it backwards. Most people, and I fall into this myself at times, try to define who they are based on what they do- “I’m an engineer” or “I am a janitor” et al. The problem is, whenever we define ourselves in this way, it misses the mark and often leaves us frustrated and disappointed, but always leaves us unfulfilled.

Just think about it for a moment. What came first- the person, or the action? The person of course. I don’t know anyone who came out of the womb doing whatever it is their profession would be. If this is the case, how could the action define what came before it? I understand that professions and the like are very time-consuming, but in reality saying something like “I’m a lawyer” is just like saying “I’m a water drinker” or “I’m a sleeper.” These are just things we do. The question we need to ask ourselves is why. Why do we do these things?

It’s easier to start with the more basic actions. Why do we sleep? Because we were made in such a way that our bodies need rest to recuperate and heal. Why do we drink water? Because we were made with water as an important part of our bodies that needs to be replenished. Why do we eat? Because we were made in a way that we could use food for energy. Are you seeing a trend here? Our actions come out of who we are. We are water-needing, energy consuming creatures that require regular periods of rest, and for that we drink water, eat food, and sleep.

Still want to figure out who you are, and how to define yourself? Just take this a little further. So we know that what you do flows out of who you are. But did we make ourselves to need water, or food, or sleep? I know I sure didn’t, because I at times would like to not need to have either of those. If we want to know who we are and define ourselves more clearly, it only makes sense to ask the One who made us. A lot of it is easy, because he gave us things like thirst, which reminds us that our bodies need water. There are other things that trigger, like when something consumes you or gets you excited or even angry. But no amount of self-evaluation could ever make up for asking the Creator himself.

Don’t know how to ask Him, or even who He is? Well, take some time to find out. He gave us His Word, found in the Bible, in which He tells of Himself. And one of the things He says is that those who seek Him diligently will find Him (Proverbs 8:17). So find Him, and when you recover somewhat from how amazing He is, ask Him some of the tough questions, like who you are, and what He intends you to do. Otherwise, you will spend your life never knowing the awesome potential that He has given you, and you’ll miss out on the most rewarding relationship you could ever have.

Life and Death

If you would bear with me for today, instead of a usual blog post, I’ve decided to post a piece of short fiction that I’ve just finished. I hope you like it, but, as always, your feedback and conversation is greatly appreciated.

Life and Death

Nobody liked the way she treated him. She was always by him, and anytime it seemed like he might be about to speak, she either jumped in first or did something with the obvious effect of keeping him silence. She was so well-practiced at this that not one person could actually remember having ever heard his voice. None of them liked it, but they didn’t say anything. They didn’t feel as if they had the place to criticize a mother, or they were too afraid to question her strange control over her son.

The truth was that she was responsible for something she was confused and overwhelmed by, and she knew not what to do about it. This is not to say she was necessarily overwhelmed at the fact of being a mother, though it could be true in a general sense as it is with all parents. No, what she was overwhelmed by was the fact that extraordinary children are often born to ordinary parents. After all, what would anyone else have done when faced with something so strange as what Timothy was able to do?

He didn’t cry when he was born. The doctor didn’t seem to be worried because everything checked out okay, but she had been prepared for the cry and not hearing it was almost more startling. It seemed however that instead of expressing himself to the world, he was trying to consume all that the world was trying to express to him. He looked around as if he was logging every detail, and even his mother’s face seem to hold his attention only as much as the rest of his surroundings.

After the first three months, his mother was really starting to worry. When she’d take him to the doctor, she’d be reassured that Timothy was just fine, but they’d continue to keep an eye on him for any possible developmental issues, as silent babies do happen to be very unusual. She tried to coax a sound out of him so many times, by playing with him, showing him pictures, making him wait just a little longer to be fed, and still not a sound came from his mouth. Then came the first word.

It was part of her routine, to check the baby at the same time every morning because she obviously wouldn’t hear him wake. This morning, when he was about five months, he was laying awake in his crib staring in wonder at a butterfly that was resting on the top of the siderail. It wasn’t like any butterfly she had ever seen, but it was beautiful. Before she could really wonder about how it got there she ushered it outside, but when she again laid eyes on her son she somehow knew that he had some part in it. Then, as he was looking back into her eyes, he uttered a sound, a coo, and it felt as if it pierced right through her. She had never felt anything quite like that, but there was a sudden awareness, an appreciation even, of her surroundings. The strangeness of it troubled her, and she wondered for many more days of silence as the feeling faded what had actually happened.

A couple of years later, the coo almost forgotten in silence, she was taking Timothy on a walk. He was at two and a half years old just as he was as before, never uttering a sound. As they walked down the street, a car turned the corner and started driving in their direction. She saw the squirrel, but she didn’t know if Timothy did. She willed the squirrel to stop, or the driver to notice it, but her mind could force neither. She cringed just before the car ran over the rodent and carried on to turn the corner and forever exit their lives. She hoped that Timothy hadn’t seen the violent death, but she could just make out what sounded like a sniffle. Tears were running down his face, yet he was not hysterical as most young children would be. He walked toward the lifeless squirrel, pulling his mother along with him. She thought about taking him away from it, or stopping and talking to him about life and death, but she decided to let him explore his world and work out what he could first.

His sniffles grew more frequent as he got to the squirrel and leaned over it. He studied it for a long moment as she watched him, keeping an eye out for traffic and hoping against onlooking bystanders. Suddenly he stopped crying, and he looked up at his mother and said what sounded like, “poa qual.” She felt something strange again, though it was different this time. Before she could discern what it was, she saw the squirrel twitch. Then, with Timothy looking on at the poor creature, it’s twitching became movement, and after just a minute or so the squirrel got up and ran across to a nearby tree. She took Timothy straight home, unsure of what to do with this new twist in her confusion.

From then on she never allowed him to speak in public or around anyone else. Though he seldom spoke as it was, she did not know what would happen if he did and chose not to take any chances. That was why she was willing to accept the looks of disapproval from those around her, and why she could take her son’s frustration at not being allowed to speak. She taught him not to speak to others, but to communicate in writing instead. While this was frustrating and caused him to be picked on at times, he trusted his mother and did as she asked. But he still hoped for the day when he could freely speak his mind, and she knew that a time was coming where she could no longer expect to keep him silent.

By the time he was a freshman in high school he had no friends except for one girl, who didn’t mind writing notes even while outside of class. His mother had explained his silence away as simply being born without the ability to speak, and his temperament purported that lie to the effect that most had stopped picking on him, and those that did, or rather the one that continued, at least did not try to coax any words out of him. However, this too would change, and change him forever.

It was a Friday, and dreams of a long weekend were filling their heads. Timothy and Amanda had different classes for the first two blocks, but the rest of the day they shared classes and lunch together. They had grown beyond writing to the point they could communicate generally with expressions. Onlookers fancied romantic designs, but for Timothy this was far from his mind. He was simply grateful to be able to connect with someone so well having his speech robbed from him.

As they were walking from their last class, they were writing back and forth about what they might do that weekend. They were approaching a more secluded part of the school, but they were arguing about whether to start on their English paper on Saturday or even at all that weekend, and so they did not even notice that the only one approaching them happened to be Chaz with his usual cohorts.

“Well whaddya know, it’s Timmy and Mandy, our favorite mute couple. What’s up, dummy?”

“Leave him alone, Chaz.”

“Why, can’t the dummy speak for himself? Oh, that’s right, he’s too stupid to know how to talk.”

Timothy looked down at his feet. He wanted so badly to speak, to put Chaz in his place, but he dared not. He knew that his mom had very good reasons for it, whatever they were. But still…

“Seriously, Chaz, don’t you have anything better to do than to show off your ignorance? Why don’t you get lost and leave us alone.”

“Those are some pretty big words from such a little girl. Are you going to make me? Are you gonna make me go away? Or do you think your dummy here is going to help you?”

“He’s not a dummy. Just leave him alone.”

“Okay, fine, we’ll leave him alone. Hey dummy, would you mind if we messed with your girlfriend here instead? No objections? Okay.” He took her bag and tossed it to one of his friends. She backed away from him but another one of his friends was there. They circled around her and began pushing her back and forth between them while they kept Timothy from getting to her. “Do you like our game dummy? Yeah?”

Timothy tried to push Chaz out of the way to get to Amanda, but he easily threw him to the ground with his other hand. When he hit the ground, he looked up and saw the fear on Amanda’s face, and something terrible began to well up in his chest. Before he could stop himself, he yelled out, “Stop it, you jerk!” The next moment seemed to last forever.

As soon as the words passed his lips, it was like an explosion had gone off. The circle of bullies had flown outward as if from a blast, but Amanda had remained at its center, seemingly unaffected. Chaz himself had slammed into the wall with an audible thud, and now remained in a slump on the ground. Timothy was still on the ground, a look of shock holding onto his face. This was partly mirrored in Amanda’s, though what had been just fear was now intensified to become terror. The silence immediately after seemed to be the deepest and longest silence of their lives.

After a moment, all of Chaz’ “friends” got up and ran. Amanda seemed to be frozen in place, and Timothy could only look up at her, begging in his eyes to keep her acceptance while also wondering what had happened. After what could have been days but was probably closer to a minute or two, a teacher ran up to the three of them.

“What happened? Are you okay? What happened to Chaz?” She ran over to his slumped body. “He’s not breathing! Amanda, quick, go get help, call 911!” Amanda shook herself free from her marble stance and ran off. The teacher was too concerned with Chaz to consider Timothy sitting behind her. She straightened him out and started performing CPR. Timothy could only watch, horrified at what had happened, and hoping with every beat of his own heart that Chaz would recover. By the time Amanda came back with others, the paramedics weren’t far behind. He was at least breathing by then, but he remained unconscious.

“So what happened here?” One of the paramedics asked while he got to work. He looked at the teacher, and then quickly followed her gaze to Amanda.

“I, I don’t know. Him and his friends were pushing me around, and then he just kinda fell back and hit the wall. They ran away…” She let her eyes shift over to Timothy.

“And what about him? Is there anything you’re not telling us?” Timothy begged her from his eyes.

“I really don’t know,” she said as she looked down at her feet. “It all just kinda happened while I was being pushed around.”

“How is he? Is he gonna be okay?” The teacher asked.

“It looks like he’s going to be okay, but there’s no telling what happened with him or if there will be any lasting effects. Let’s get moving.” The paramedics carted him down the sidewalk and disappeared around the corner. It fell quiet again, with Amanda staring at her shoes, Timothy staring at Amanda from his back, and the teacher looking back and forth between the two, unsure of where to begin. She was at least glad that they had avoided gathering a crowd of onlookers.

“I hope you two realize that something has to be done here. We can’t have a student almost die on our campus and not be able to answer for it.” She looked at Timothy again, who still hadn’t moved since she had arrived. “Okay, I want you both to come with me down to the office. Since you are both so fond of written communication, you will write an account of exactly what happened here. I will call your parents; hopefully we can avoid this getting too messy.” She said the last part more to herself than the two freshmen.

The doctors would later attribute the incident to some mysterious condition, resulting in numerous tests for Chaz that all strangely came back negative. Everyone seemed to be eager and willing to accept that conclusion, essentially forgetting about what had happened. But for Amanda and Timothy, it remained as a formative moment.

For the remainder of that year, Amanda avoided Timothy as much as she could as she tried to work through what had happened. She never made any mention of Timothy speaking at all in her official report, and thankfully neither had he. But she still didn’t know what  to do now. Was it really how she saw it? If it wasn’t, then what did happen, and how could she have been misled? And if it was, as she knew it was, then what should she do about Timothy? She remembered thinking before it would be nice to hear what his voice sounded like, but now she was afraid that he might speak and something bad would happen to her. She was afraid to be around him, and she was afraid of upsetting him. But she couldn’t betray him. One thing that she was sure of was that she would tell no one the truth of that afternoon.

For Timothy it was torture. He had not only exerted some terrible ability that he didn’t even know he had, let alone whether he could control it, he had also managed to scare away the only friend he’d ever had. It was probably for the best, he imagined, because if he were to somehow harm her– he squeezed a tear back into place. He suffered pain before, and he would take this to, without succumbing to weakness.

He thought about his mother. If she had kept him from speaking for all these years, she had to know about his problem. What had happened before his memory could accuse him? Whom had he hurt? Had he ever killed anyone with his words? He wanted so badly to ask her, but he was afraid of the answer. That, and he didn’t want her to know what had happened. He thought she might suspect it, but she was also the first to believe in the mystery illness. At least he knew where to go from here. He would never speak so long as he could help it, and he refused to get close enough to anyone that they might want to hear him.

Fifteen years later, Timothy still tried to forget about the expense of the terrible gift he’d been given. He kept true to his resolutions, having never spoken one word and never developing relationships past professional acquaintances. He had found some moderate success as a freelance writer which allowed him to find a comfortable apartment of his own. He lived in a self-enforced seclusion, feeling he was doing what was necessary to protect everyone else.

This day, as he was going through his morning routine checking for job requests, he saw a message from Amanda. He was always eager to hear from her, and despite not seeing each other in person since graduating high school, they continued to write almost daily. This was not a message he had hoped for however. It read:

Tim,

    I’m sorry to reach you like this, it doesn’t feel right, but it’s the only way I know. You need to come home. It’s your mom. She collapsed yesterday. They have her in the hospital now, but it doesn’t look good. They’re saying it’s cancer. They said it’s a wonder it wasn’t caught before it advanced this far. I’m really sorry, but you need to hurry. I’ll be here with her at least until you get here. Let me know if there’s anything more I can do for you.

Amanda

His lungs started to burn; he hadn’t realized he was holding his breath. Once he was back to breathing, he lowered the back of his laptop and stood, scanning the room for his shoes. He left without any regard for turning anything off or getting extra clothes for the stay. He didn’t know what to do with his thoughts, so he tried to ignore them.

As he got closer to the hospital, and even up through the floors, he tried to think of better moments that he had shared with his mother. Regardless, the burden of his unspoken gift and their efforts to hide it seemed to color everything that he could think of. He wished he could talk with his mother just once.

Seeing her in the bed, his tears finally released. Whether the memories were more good than bad or more bad than good, he still loved her, and he began to feel the specter of her loss. He quietly walked over and grabbed her hand. The gesture awoke her. She smiled brightly but weakly at the sight of her son. “Timothy, I’m so glad you’re here.” She grimaced in pain for a moment. “I’m afraid it doesn’t look like I’ll be around much longer. I wanted so badly to talk to you, to tell you…”

He looked down at her through the tears, still communicating with his expressions, urging her to continue. He wished his curse would leave, that he could talk to his mother and everything that had strained their relationship would be gone. “I never–,” she winced again. “I never told you. Your voice, the reason you can’t speak, it’s different. It does things.” She stopped for a moment and looked at him, waiting to see any sort of response. He grabbed a nearby crossword book and flipped it to a blank page. He wrote in the margin and showed it her:

I know. It’s destructive. I found out once. You don’t have to talk about that.

She shook her head, the pained look on her face differing from the spasmodic episodes just prior. “No, not destructive. You had a gift, you brought life. There was this squirrel, before you could remember, that got hit by a car. You made it live again. With one sound, not even a word really.” She took his look of incredulity as one more pain of her wrongs. “Son, I was wrong. You have a gift, and I was wrong to hide it from the world. I thought I was protecting you, but I was really just afraid.” She started crying with him. “I hope you can forgive me.”

He found it hard to believe her. All he had known it to do was destroy, how could it have the opposite effect? Still, he longed to be able to say just one thing to his mother. What if he never did, and she died here?

“I love you, Timothy.”

The phrase broke through his thoughts, burrowing into his emotions and escaping his reason. Before he could overthink it and stop himself, he let out in a raspy voice, “I love you too, Mom.”

It seemed like nothing happened. Could it be that he was now free from his burden? The thought caused joy to compete with the powerful sorrow that was consuming him. He tried to ignore it and be with his mother in what could be their last moments together. But as he held her hand, he thought he could feel warmth begin to pour back into it. He looked into her face, and though he doubted, he could see color coming back into it. Her smile grew, and they both knew that they were experiencing life coming back into her. Somehow they knew that the specter of death was fleeing, and they knew just the same that it was at the words that had just come.

Her recovery was unexplainable. The doctors were amazed but confused when they let her go home the next day. For Timothy, her renewed life was a sign of his life renewed as well. Though he knew that he was capable of destructive power, he also now knew that he carried the potential for so much more. With hope now strong, he went from there intent of figuring out how best to use this new life.

How was your weekend?

It’s Monday. Just like any other Monday, all your co-workers whom you are friendly with but seldom see outside of work will ask that same Monday morning question, “How was your weekend?” If you’re anything like me, you’d probably give a vague, “Oh, it was pretty good,” or, “not too bad,” and it will stay at that unless they press for a more elaborate answer. One thing I noticed however is that if I am pressed for more information, a “but” seems to always interject in the middle of it.

This is what I mean. When I elaborate, my “pretty good” weekend turns into, “It was pretty good, but I wish I could’ve gotten more sleep,” or “…but any other negative aspect I could possibly focused on from the last two and a half days.” The truth is, I’ve never had a perfect weekend; I’ve had some that came really close, but even the best can have some small things that are less than ideal. We live in this world. Do I need to say any more? The problem comes when we focus on those negative parts. It’s almost as if my lack of sleep negated that amazing Saturday I got to spend with my wife where we were able to grow even deeper in our relationship and really enjoy one another. Suddenly my back pain is the highlight over a breakthrough move of God on Sunday morning that I got to be a part of, where people found freedom they had never known before.

You may be the better person reading this and thinking, that sounds absolutely ridiculous, and to be honest, I agree. So why do I and so many others do this? It might be to appear normal we try to commiserate, as if normal is really what people want to see. “Yay! I love beige!” Or maybe it’s to get sympathy because I am so self-centered and insecure that sympathy becomes a replacement for true relationship, where I get a fake replacement with little investment while repelling at the same time. And who knew we could be that shallow. Well, I’m sure it’s a lot more than we’d think, and we’d see if we started looking out instead of in all the time. However, regardless of the reason for doing it, we need to stop.

I could give you many reasons against this, and reasons for changing it as well. I could talk about being appreciative/grateful and learning contentment, or how being thankful could transform your life, or even that it’s our duty to be thankful; but I won’t. I’m going to just guess and say that you’re already aware at this point that always sharing our negatives like we do over anything positive is worth changing. So instead of getting down to the explanation, I’m just going to give a challenge. This week, when your co-workers or anyone else asks how you are or how your weekend/week was, try thinking of the best thing that happened. For an extra challenge, try to make it relate directly to the person you’re talking to and encourage him/her. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on.

Standing on God’s Word

For all of us who have difficulty in trusting God from time to time, I would like to take the opportunity to encourage you this morning, to give you more of a foundation for your faith. There are differing reasons for us to not trust God and doubt His promises, but I want to free you from those today, whatever they may be.

Wherever you are reading this right now, just stand up for a moment. Take just a second to feel the ground beneath you, to feel all your weight pressing down into your feet. Are you falling through the earth? Are you floating off into the atmosphere? No, your are firmly planted where you stand, because the ground beneath you is strong enough to support all your weight and so much more.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “standing on God’s Word” before, and you probably know that it relates to walking in faith according to what God has said, whether through His Word or directly to you and verified by His Word. But consider this: if you read the account of creation in Genesis, you’ll see that God spoke and created the firmament. His Word is what created the very land of the earth. So you could figure from that account that the solid ground that is supporting you at this very moment is that same Word from the mouth of God, the same Word that we have a hard time trusting.

We often look for signs and obvious displays of the power of God, but we usually fail to simply look around us and consider the foundation that existed before us. We question His promises because we have yet to see them, but we fail to see that His word is as stone, and stronger yet.

Now imagine if the earth had said no. It seems ridiculous, but humor me for a moment. If the earth had refused to allow God’s word to shape it, then it would never have been fruitful, or beautiful, or even useful. But we know that it was not an option as the earth has no intelligence or free will. Now consider us as His creation. The words that He speaks over us are for our good, to prosper us. We desire to be fruitful, to have influence, to be beautiful and desirable, to have meaning and impact the world. So what happens? It seems like we want the same thing for ourselves, so there must be a disconnect.

The problem comes in a couple of different ways. The first is that unlike the earth, we were created with free will, so we can decide to say no to His Word over us and not allow it to become established like the earth beneath us. The second, and the only reason we could possibly say no, is that there are so many other paths offered for us to take that seem like they will get us to where we want to be. Unfortunately, as many find, at the end of these roads is often found loneliness, despair and emptiness. What we fail to realize is that anything not established by His Word is merely a shadow, a twisted reflection of what He originally intended but construed in such a way as to only bring corruption and, ultimately, death.

I would encourage you this day not only to walk upon God’s Word, but to be mindful of His foundation in every aspect of your life. When you fail in what He has told you to do, stand. When you doubt His word, stand. When others come against you, stand. His Word will support you, and His Word will keep you; just be willing to stand.

Resolutions

Resolutions are misnamed. They are not usually resolutions, but hollow intentions without any force behind them. The problem is they are often too big, too far-reaching, and too much against our long-ingrained habits. We make “resolutions” such as losing twenty pounds, reading more, spending more time with our families, etc., but they’re really just things that we would like to see happen without knowing how to get there ourselves. We start too big, with the entire year in mind.

I’m not saying resolutions are a bad thing. I think everyone should have resolutions. I just think that we go about it the wrong way. A resolution is something that we have resolved ourselves to do or not to do. There is a sense of finality in a resolution, that we are setting something in stone. In fact, it helps to write it out and keep it in front of you. For a great example, just peruse the list of resolutions compiled by Jonathan Edwards of the first Great Awakening:

(http://edwards.yale.edu/archive?path=aHR0cDovL2Vkd2FyZHMueWFsZS5lZHUvY2dpLWJpbi9uZXdwaGlsby9nZXRvYmplY3QucGw/Yy4xNTo3NDoxLndqZW8=)

However, what we call resolutions every year are simply moderately termed goals that ultimately fail in the immediacy of daily living.

So, instead of making a few grand goals that just sound good this year, consider those goals and decide what you are going to do today, or this week. Instead of hopefully losing twenty pounds at some point over the next year, why not make your lunch today, or not eat that fast food meal? Maybe today you can go for a jog, or when you go to the store park in the back so you can walk farther. Every goal is the result of countless decisions directed by purpose. Every day we live we will face countless decisions. Stop trying to make this year different; let’s just start with making today different.

If you do decide to shift your focus to today, make sure that you make your goals achievable. For example, don’t say “today I’m going to run a half-marathon” if the most you’ve done is jog around the block. Start small. Don’t worry about the size of the goal, every big thing has several small parts. Just stick with it. Here’s a look at some of my daily goals to give you an idea to start with:

Today I’m not going to have that Mountain Dew.

Today I will not eat fast food, or eat out at all.

Today I will write at least a half a page.

Today I will do twenty push-ups and ten chin-ups.

That’s just a few, but I hope you get the idea. These are all easy and don’t take much time if any. The great thing about having a bunch of small daily goals is that along the way you can decide if some aren’t working and change them, and instead of throwing in the towel completely on two or three “resolutions”, you still have a myriad of other small chunks of dream-building blocks coming together every day. Just imagine where these could lead if every day you would resolve to do them. Keep it small, keep it simple, and get it done. Those dreams will come on the backs of all those small decisions, as long as you stay resolved to make them.

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