Back On My Diet

The word Goal on a scale to illustrate you have reached your tar

Several years ago I put myself on a diet. This week I fell off the wagon, again!  Determined to get back on, I hunted around in my files for this little piece I wrote back then.  It will explain everything…

I have a size 8 ½ mouth. I know because I put my foot in it several times last week and it fit perfectly. Upset over saying some things I regretted, I decided to go on a verbal diet. I determined to speak only what was good and necessary. I would skim the fat from my conversations by refraining from complaining and criticizing. And I would stop all my opinion giving binges. How did I do? Not very well. But I happened to do just well enough to be surprised by the benefits of such a plan.

The first thing I noticed on my verbal diet was that I experienced more peace. I never realized how much worry accompanied words of complaint and criticism, or how much angst went into my attempts to influence others with my opinions. Secondly, I noticed that my relationships seemed to improve on the spot. I became a better listener when I wasn’t waiting to get in my two cents. I enjoyed people more and understood them better. Thirdly, I noticed that when I talked to people less I talked to God more. What I wanted to tell them I turned into prayers to Him. When I started this diet I worried that my relationships might go hungry on fewer words. Instead I found they were better nourished and more deeply fed!

“…be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19

Confessions of a “Know it All”

Beautiful little girl in a red dress on a motorcycle

God asked, Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?”  Job answered, “I admit.  I was the one.  I babbled on about things far beyond me, I made small talk about wonders way over my head.  I admit I once lived by rumors of you.  I’m sorry—forgive me.”  Job 42: 2-6 (The Message) 

As a young girl I appreciated my fathers love but I didn’t always appreciate his authority.  Why didn’t he like me driving around after midnight on weekends?  What was wrong with going to a class alone in downtown Minneapolis at night?  Why spoil my fun and scold me for riding through an icy parking lot on the back end of a car?

I didn’t go to work with my father, so I didn’t understand his job.  I knew he was a police officer, but I envisioned him writing traffic tickets all day.  I had no knowledge of the situations he came across.  I had not been to accident scenes, witnessed the effects of a drunk driver, or taken reports of rape and abuse.  When I questioned my father’s boundaries for me, I spoke of things I knew nothing about.  My view of life was little.  His was big.  I understand better now how my father’s higher knowledge impacted the decisions he made for the daughter he loved.

Dear God,

I don’t know the paths you travel.  I have no idea what all you see and do.  I imagine I understand your work.  But my view is limited.  I have rolled my eyes at your commands and argued with you about your way for me.  I have spoken of things I don’t understand.  I am sorry.  Help me to trust in your love, rest in your wisdom, obey your commands, and appreciate your authority.                                                                                                   


A Chance


This year, for the first time in my life I felt I was to observe Lent.  I found an Ash Wednesday service and went to it.  The minister talked about how we would now be pilgrims on a journey of repentance, reflection and self-denial.  When he was done talking I followed him and the congregants along a path made of crosses marked out on the floor.  It led to a chapel where we stood in line to approach the minister.  When it was my turn he dipped his finger into a mixture of ashes, made the sign of a cross on my forehead, and declared quite sternly “Remember, from dust you were made and to dust you will return.”  I was surprised by what he said.  I thought he was going to give me a blessing.  Well, maybe it was.  Maybe this reminder of my humanity, this reminder of my humble beginnings, and of my certain and humble end, was a blessing.  I went home pensive.

The next morning I woke up at 4 a.m. with the minister’s words racing through my mind.   “And to dust you will return.”  I was frightened.  My heart sped up.  Am I going to die today I wondered.  Is that why I felt led to the Ash Wednesday service (the first Ash Wednesday service I had been to in my life).  Is that why the minister told me that?  Or… was this instead a Scrooge-like experience.  A chance.  A chance to reflect on my life.  A chance to consider and confess my self-absorbed attitudes and actions, even my self-absorbed prayers.  Maybe this was a chance to try denying myself some of those small things so that I could live a truer, larger, more loving life.  Yes, I think that’s what it was, a chance to see a better way to live.  And give.  A chance to say not just “God bless me” but “God bless us, everyone!”          

                        “For dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Genesis 3:19 NIV  

David and Goliath: A Battle of Beliefs

bigstock-David-Goliath-4883362When I am facing a battle, whether it’s in my world or in my heart, I often turn to the story of David and Goliath for wisdom and instruction.  You know how it goes.  God’s people have something special and Goliath wants to take it away.  Day and night he intimidates and taunts them.  Morning and evening he goes after the peace in their hearts, the hopes they have for their families, the promises God has given.  God’s people begin living in dread of what might happen.  Until a boy named David shows up and shows them how to win.

David wasn’t bigger and stronger.  He was younger.  And smaller.  He didn’t have a big gun.  And he didn’t have a big bank account.  There was nothing in his possession that appeared impressive.  So what was his secret?  What was it that gave him the power to face and conquer an enemy that had everyone else biting their nails?  His secret was his faith.  And his faith was the victory.

So what did David believe?  First, he believed that God had given him and his people something wonderful, land.  He was sure God wanted them to have it.  And defend it.   “Wait a minute,” David said of his enemy, “Who does he think he is defying God and coming against us?  That’s not right.” (1 Samuel 17:26)

Second, David believed in God’s favor for his people.  He believed in it so much that it didn’t matter what others said.  When Goliath mocked and belittled David, he wasn’t even rattled.  He didn’t get embarrassed and retreat.  He didn’t get enraged and act rashly on his own- and outside of God’s grace.  David believed in God’s favor.

Thirdly, David was convinced that his life was in God’s hands, not his enemies.  So when Goliath calls up with a death threat, David not only answers the phone, he replies with some words of his own.  “Yes you are twice my size.  Yes your sword and your spear and your javelin are enormous.  But none of that matters in a fight like this.  The Lord will win for us.  And when he does, everyone will know that he is real and that he lives among his people.”  Click. End of phone call, beginning of down fall.

What battle are you facing today?  Don’t let your enemy shout you down or talk you out of the life God is calling you to live.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down… and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s.”  1 Samuel 17: 45-47 NIV

A Fork in the Road

Oct2013 013I was finishing up the book God Is Not Mad at You by Joyce Meyer.  In the end she was talking about how to move from being milk drinkers to meat eaters in our spiritual lives.  She was saying that we are milk drinkers when we live on the messages of God’s love and grace all the time.  And that we are meat eaters when we eat for ourselves and then do something, like give instead of receive.

For years I was a milk drinking Christian just as Joyce confesses.  I lapped up the messages of God’s love and grace to me.  It was like I really wanted someone to give me a warm bottle all the time and if they didn’t I turned my heart away.  I was so needy.  And I was afraid.

Finally I started to pick up a fork.  I got out the Bible and began reading it on my own.  It was hard at first.  I didn’t always know where to begin.  But as I did it I started to learn a lot.  And I started to grow without even realizing it.  When I read a story about forgiveness, I didn’t turn my heart away.  Instead I listened.  God never shoved anything down my throat.  He simply held out the fork of meat.  In a sense saying, “Would you like a bite of this?  You will have the strength to go a lot of places with me if you swallow these truths.”  And in a sense I would say, “Ok, I’ll try a little of that.  Where do I need to forgive Lord?  And just how can I do it?”

And so a life long relationship of eating at the table of the Lord began.  It really is the richest of fare.  There I am strengthened to face the challenges in my life.  There I am filled with the energy to go the distance with God and to enjoy myself as I do.

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity..”   Hebrews 6:1 NIV


Cold Hot Fudge Sundaes

file931279076990I was out to eat with my husband and two friends of ours.  Everybody except me ordered hot fudge sundaes for dessert and the waitress brought them out.  After a few moments I took a taste of my husband’s and was surprised to find that the fudge was cold.  Instinctively I spoke up, “A cold hot fudge sundae?  I can’t believe they gave you all cold hot fudge sundaes.  I mean what’s good about a hot fudge sundae is the HOT fudge, right?”  The sundae eaters frowned a little as if just realizing that their desserts were somehow flawed.  I could tell they were considering my words, and I was feeling a little smart for noticing such a problem when one of the friends said, “That’s okay if it’s not hot.  It’s good.”  His words surprised me.  They were genuine.  And they were spoken without rebuke.  Everyone went back to enjoying their desserts and I shut my mouth.  What else could I do?  Grace had poured on the scene.  The gospel had come to dinner.  Mercy was triumphing over judgment right before my eyes.  The atmosphere at the table went back to being pleasant.  The waitress was not summoned.  And her tip would not be cut short.  As I watched my husband and my friends finish their desserts I found myself wishing– wishing to be a person who eats cold hot fudge sundaes with the same grace.  What is the gospel if it is not lived out in small things?


It’s Not Too Late

Man Waiting on Bench

I like the story of Jacob and here’s why. Because even though he started his journey on the wrong foot, God let him know it wasn’t too late to put the right foot forward. Now that’s good news for everybody.

Jacob left home on the run. He lied to his father, schemed against his brother, and is on about a 500 mile walk to his uncle’s when he stops to rest for the night. With a stone for a pillow he falls asleep. Now you’d think with all that’s gone on he’d have a nightmare about his brother catching up with him and killing him right? Instead he has the most wonderful dream. And the dream is from God.

In the dream God does not give Jacob a lecture, though he may have earned one. In the dream God does not tell Jacob all the things he should do to make amends, though that is probably what I would have done. In the dream God does a surprising thing, he gives Jacob his blessing. He says, “I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. And many people will be blessed through you. I am with you and will watch over you and I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised.”

When Jacob woke up he was amazed. And his thoughts went something like this, “Wow. God is here? God is giving me His blessing? God is making me these promises? Well then, I accept Him as my Lord and will worship Him.”

When Jacob got up from that place he was still on the same journey. He still had a long way to go and many steps to take. But he was a changed man. When he put his next foot forward I think he was encouraged instead of afraid. I think He was hopeful instead of doubtful. And I think he was thinking about how everything would somehow work out, because God had said so.

Here is good news. Good news for a person who has started anything on the wrong foot. All is not cursed. It’s not too late to find God on this journey you’re on. He’s still there for you. Watch for Him. Listen to Him. Trust Him. Worship Him. This is truth for your travel pilgrim. Will you lace up these mercy shoes and walk on?

       “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…”  (Genesis 28:15 NIV)