The Chef’s in the Kitchen…it’s pudding time!

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It’s called banana pudding, not bananas with pudding, vanilla wafers and bananas, or even vanilla extract and friends!

Now a recipe may have a main ingredient or two, like in banana pudding, but there are no “big chiefs”. The amount of each ingredient may vary, but every ingredient is necessary. As the pudding is created, everything is mixed together to make something all the ingredients individually could never make, even if they fasted and prayed for 40 days straight! Any ingredient, by themself, is just that; they are by themself. Regardless the amount of “schooling”, or the “heritage” they have, or even the “size of their cupboard”, they are only what they are and cannot be anything different unless mixed with something else. I’ve heard more than one box of wafers cry out, “Fill me without measure!”, yet the only One anointed without measure is The Chef. The ingredients must not think more highly of themselves than they should, and must realize they NEED each other.

Jesus prayed in John 17 for His Church to be one, AS He and the Father are one.

The Lord has all the ingredients to make up His “pudding”. There are bananas, milk, wafers, etc; prominent players and groups of players that are very evident. These are the churches and individuals who seem to be anointed to be “out front”. Then there are others, the supporting cast if you will, that aren’t very appealing to those around them. These are those within the Church that have smaller rolls, maybe believe a little different, do things a little odd (anyway, that’s what the banana told me), and have a hard time mixing with others. Actually, none of the ingredients can mix themselves! Even the best banana in the bunch cannot peel itself. And who really wants to take a knife to their hide and divide what they have just so someone else can be blessed! Don’t expect that from a vanilla wafer!

But the Lord is trying to get the ingredients together! I realize each one likes to hang out with their own bunch, or be in groups where the spoon is not so cold or harsh when it stirs, but you can’t taste the pudding if the ingredients are segregated.

I’ve recently been hanging around various and sundry ministers and ministries and this thought came to me: many are content to join with others when they have time and when they are with people who “taste” the same as they do. They keep to themselves, or their “own kind”, and fail to realize the flavor isn’t the same without them. Also, by keeping apart from others, they will rot or grow stale before they ever become what the Chef has in mind. 

There’s a verse in Hebrews 12 which says, “everything that can be shaken will be shaken.” Allow me to paraphrase-“The Chef has gotten the mixer out of the drawer and has plugged it in!” Kind of a scary thought, to be in the Lord’s mixing bowl. But what a joy when it comes time to lick the beaters…

As I said earlier, the Chef is moving in the Kitchen. He’s pulling the ingredients out of storage and cracking some eggs, cutting some bananas. The salt’s getting pinched, the flour sifted, and everyone is smelling the vanilla! The heat is rising on top of the stove and soon, very soon, the Chef will pick up each ingredient and use them AS HE SEES FIT.

This would be the best time to yield, to be ready to mix it up. For your finest hour is at hand; His Hand.

Are you getting hungry for Banana Pudding?

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Soon, the ingredients will be removed from their place of storage. The bowls, pots, and cooking utensils will be placed on the kitchen counter. Eggs will be cracked, milk poured, bananas peeled and sliced. Stirring and pouring, stirring and cooking, pouring and chilling…ummmm

I’d like to invite you all over for dessert…

But right now it isn’t ready. The ingredients have been available but for some reason they haven’t been mixed together.

Funny thing about the ingredients: by themselves they are fine. I mean, I like bananas and vanilla wafers. Egg yolks are okay, and milk is refreshing; but vanilla extract, flour, and salt, alone, ick!

I’ve often wondered why these ingredients have been kept apart when they were made to be mixed together. The world just isn’t the same while they are apart, sitting in the cupboard or the fridge.

But something is happening in the kitchen. The Chef is moving things around in preparation for a final cooking experience; an experience I do not want to miss.

I’ll finish this story in just a bit…in the meantime, start preparing your taste buds!

Go ahead, chuckle along with God

oopsToday I had the privilege of preaching at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Des Moines. My great friend Dr. James Wright is the pastor. The Lord gave us His grace and anointing and it was a productive time for the Kingdom of God.Funny that The Lord can anoint someone to preach who can’t seem to handle opening those individual communion cup/wafer combos! God’s man of faith and Holy Ghost power standing in front of the congregation acting like he just woke up after being asleep for a hundred years.

After I preached it was time for communion. They have a special way they serve communion in the church, which includes having all the deacons, deaconesses, ministers and pastors wear white gloves. After all the elements were served, the pastor had everyone eat the wafer.

I couldn’t get mine open! I even took off my gloves, but, no good! Instead, I opened up the part for the juice. But I kept trying! Meanwhile the pastor had moved on with the ceremony and it was time for the juice. It took a minute or two, but I finally was able to drink my juice after the rest were finished.So it’s now time to pick up the empties, but wait! I still have a wafer to eat! A person doesn’t take half communion, especially one of God’s “powerful preachers”! So I keep at it and about the time the deaconess gets to me for my “empty”, the top opens up, wafer lands in my hand and the empty cup flips up into the air and lands in the collection plate sitting by the communion trays! In front of God, the deacons, deaconesses, ministers and all!

I got such a chuckle out of the whole thing. (My wife was trying not to laugh as she watched me struggle with the communion elements). What made me smile was I felt The Lord got a kick out of it as well. You see, I really don’t think The Lord sees us as “powerful men and women of God”, or Doctor so and so, Apostle Doodad, Prophet Never Wrong, or anything like that. I think He sees us as His kids who are just trying to please Him.

Ever see a kid play “grown-ups”? Cute, isn’t it? That’s how I sometime feel The Lord must see us.

Don’t get me wrong. The Lord anoints us for a purpose, not for playing games. Kingdom work is serious stuff! But maybe, just maybe, we could have a greater impact, relate with people a little better, if we could see ourselves the way God sees us…

…as people who sometimes can’t get the communion wafer paper off.

And then, allow ourselves to have a good chuckle, along with God.

Forgive me, I have sinned

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Forgive me, for I have sinned.

I’ve been as guilty as the next person. As a matter of fact, I have just plain out and out sinned! “Oh no, brother, what have you done? Have you become trapped in pornography, or started smoking? Maybe you’ve started drinking again…”

No, something more serious than that, I’m afraid.

You see, I am someone who has talked about others, made them the butt end of jokes, and have helped sow discord when I, as a follower of Jesus, should have been sowing unity. I have secretly, and not so secretly, wanted certain people to fail because I don’t agree with their philosophy. I have spoken disparaging words against them and have failed to follow the words of Jesus completely by not praying for them.

You may say, “how could you act so bad?” “I thought you were a Christian!” “And you had the nerve to write a book about the power of encouragement!”

I’m sorry that I have let each one of you down. I let The Lord down, as well.

Most importantly I let President Obama down, along with his staff. Just because I don’t like his policies is no excuse for not praying and believing God for him. When I was a pastor I’m sure the congregation didn’t agree with all my opinions and decisions yet I expected them to pray for me anyway. No difference.

Joseph had a tough life, the children of Israel had it rough as well. Sometimes there were good rulers and sometimes the rulers were rotten. Daniel is an interesting study, as he said to the heathen king, “O king, live forever!” The early church had horrible persecution yet Paul told them to pray for their leaders.

I repent of my Obama jokes, posts, etc. My choice, now, is to be part of God’s solution rather than part of the problem. God HATES those who sow discord, and speaking ill of leadership is sowing discord.

The election is over! That doesn’t mean we just give in to every policy that our leaders come up with, but it does mean we do what God said in His Word. Pray. Believe God can change a heart, change a nation. Speak life, unity, peace, righteousness over our leaders and nation. We cannot speak ill and ugly of someone we carry regularly to God in prayer.

Righteousness exalts a nation. Prayer prepares the way for righteousness. May we be one nation under God.

How long can you keep it inside?

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Though it is natural for a train to be inside a train station (at least for a season), it is not natural for a train to run through a wall! So much power, force, ability, and usefulness can, if not controlled, inflict much destruction upon others or other things.

Our heart and minds are like the train. God has created us with the ability to use our power, force, ability, and usefulness to benefit one another and bring honor and glory to Him. But if not controlled, or governed by His Word and love, what was designed for good can destroy!

You see, though we may act like we are wonderful, loving, helpful, holy and God-fearing, if our spirit and mind is out of control (not governed by His Word and love), we will eventually self destruct, run off the track and through the wall! What we think about, we become. What we become will not be hidden, for truth cannot be concealed forever, whether good or bad; and what we become, we beget…

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”(Philippians 4:8 – 4:9 NKJV)

I know plenty of people, church going people, who are so full of bitterness, unforgiveness, envy and jealousy that it’s dangerous to have them open their mouths about anything. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Their train is off the track and they cause destruction wherever they go!

“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6 NKJV). With truth controlling our inward parts, the power, force, ability, and usefulness will be a blessing rather than destructive, to those around us. It will come out the right way, through the right door, and not through the wall.

Whatever’s on this inside will be revealed. Make sure what’s in you stays on the track of truth. When the time comes for the train to come out it will bless others and honor God.

Who in the world are YOU?

20121129-005935.jpg I was visiting with my pastor today, sharing with him about the direction the Lord seemed to be pointing my wife and I. During our conversation I heard myself say something that really registered with my spirit. Something known as true in my head, but had finally made its way to my heart.

Value. My value. Now don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t just realize I was the most important person in the world. No, what opened up in my spirit is why I am valuable. What’s so special about me? Who in the world am I?

All my life I have placed my value on my grades, my friends, my things, my job, my music ability, etc. When I was in third grade I started taking piano lessons, like my older brother. My motive? I wanted to learn to do something better than him, get more positive attention, add some value to my life.

Even when I received Christ as my Lord and Savior, my value seemed like it was wrapped up in what I did. Music and leading worship, teaching, pastoring a church, prophesying; on and on I could go about the things that seemed to make me valuable. A least, in my eyes.

Now there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, especially when the Lord anoints you to do them. What’s wrong is this. What happens when I can’t do those things anymore? What happens to my value? Do I really listen to the Lord and follow His direction if He’s leading me to do something that doesn’t “add to my value”? If I get my value, my self-worth, from what I do, chances are I will keep trying to do that thing regardless of whether it’s the right thing to do or not. And, if the things I do seem to get old and mundane (losing their ability to give me the value I “need”), after a while my eyes and heart can wander to places that will feed my need for “value”; places that only bring destruction to my life or someone elses.

So it hit me today. It registered deep within my spirit; my value is built into me by my Heavenly Father. “What can a man give in exchange for his soul”, Jesus asked. He also said, “you are more valuable than the sparrows.” The Psalmist said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The truth in this revelation is so freeing! Regardless of a title, position, a gift, an anointing; I am valuable because God thinks so. Yes, I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me. Yes, I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loved me. Yes, greater is He Who is in me than the one in the world. But my value is not it in those truths. Those are extra!

I am free to be me. God so loved ME! Who am I in the world? Me! Nothing I do, good or bad, will add or subtract from my value! It may affect my ability to be useful, or trusted, but my value is eternal!

And you are YOU! Valuable enough to your Maker to give His best for you.

Value. Built into every one of us.

Built by God.

What’s Your Theme Song?

Call me silly, but I really enjoy watching the “Toy Story” movies. And, I REALLY enjoy the theme song from Toy Story 2, “You’ve got a friend in me”.

I found myself humming that song this morning as I prepared to fellowship with the Lord. I did a quick scripture search on the word “friend” and found myself wondering if the Toy Story song could be my theme song.

Proverbs give some clues about who is or isn’t a friend. For instance, “Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” There may be some friction at times between friends but the relationship benefits both. “There are ‘friends’ that destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”  “A friend is always loyal…” “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city…” I thought about that verse for a while and realized there have been times in my life, times I’m not proud of, where I had selfish motives in dealing with some of my ‘friends’. Whether or not the friend could discern wrong motives (sometimes we can’t), the results were the same. Wrong motives such as selfishness (what can I GET from this friend?) will only lead to discord, not a healthy relationship. The “sharpening” will only be one-sided. No giving and receiving, no helping for the sake of helping, just an “I’ll help if I can see how it benefits me”.

If someone was to tag you with a “theme song” that described your life, what would it be? Which song would you want tagged with? “Run-around Sue”? “I did it my way”? “Another one bites the dust”? “Rawhide”? Many to choose from, but which one fits the best?

Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I want my theme song to be, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”.

Jesus Saw Their Faith

Luke 5:20 “Jesus saw their faith…”

What was it Jesus saw that convinced Him it was faith? Their actions; their tenacity, timing, tenderness were all tied to the word – Jesus went about doing good and healing all…

Their actions: they did what it took to help their friend. Regardless of the obstacles, their hope was tied to the Word – Jesus will heal their friend.

Jesus saw their timing – the friends knew they had to “seek the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55).

Jesus saw their tenacity – nothing, not even a crowded room or a tile roof could keep them away from their answer.

Jesus saw their tenderness – the compassion they had for their friend. As they lowered the man down before Jesus He could see their only desire was to see their friend “rise, take up his bed and walk.”

When we approach the right place in the right way, Jesus will see our faith!

Content with normal? (Familiarity or Peculiarity)

They say familiarity breeds contempt. On the other hand, peculiarity breeds favor and admiration, even desire.

Peculiar means: different from the usual or normal. Could it be the church, the Body of Christ, has been too content with being normal? Normal so as to fit in with the world around us. Normal has no drawing power, no interest. Dime a dozen. Makes a person yawn and say, “so what” whenever someone mentions the church.

We are called to be peculiar! After all, God is not normal! And we are being changed into His likeness.

The Journey From Here to There (Part 2)

A place called “There” (or “Thaire”, as shown on the map) is a special place. But to get there it’s important to believe there really is a place called “There”. Hope. That’s what it’s called. People don’t start or continue their journey if they don’t hope for a destination. Regardless of how bad “Here” is, that’s where they’ll stay if they don’t know about “There”.

But there is a place called “There”. It’s a place in God where He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we ask or even think. Just setting our hopes on “There” can help us walk in the peace of God. You see, He has said “He will keep you in perfect peace, when your mind is established, focused, on Him” (Isaiah 26:3). Also, “don’t be anxious about anything but pray about everything…” (Phil. 4:6). Our thoughts and prayers will help decide the amount of God’s peace we’ll enjoy. It is also the key to beginning the journey.

Just like “he that comes to God must believe that He is…”, so to reach a place called “There” one must believe there is such a place and actively begin the trip.

He is able to get you there, if you’ll think and ask. “There” is worth the trip.

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