Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life... he who feeds on this bread will live forever" (John 6:35 & 58)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Know Something You Don't Know

Like millions of other viewers this summer, our family watched the televised verdict and ensuing aftermath in the recent Casey Anthony murder trial in Florida.  Several news organizations drew comparisons between this "shocking not guilty verdict" and that of the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995.  During one such show, my 11-year-old gave me a puzzled look and asked, "O.J.?  Who in the world is O.J. Simpson?"

WHAT?! Who is O.J. Simpson?  White bronco chase...bloody glove... if it doesn't fit you must acquit?!  How could anybody NOT know who O.J. Simpson is?

But the saga that was the Simpson Trial is no longer making headlines.  Magazines have stopped putting O.J. on their covers.  People have moved on to other topics of discussion.  How could anyone in a new generation know who the players involved were or what issues were really going on unless they were told?

I believe that is why God stresses to us in His Word the importance of sharing our knowledge and personal experiences with Him to our children and grandchildren in order for us to teach, prepare, & bless future generations:
What we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statues for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands." - Psalm 78:3-7

Taking this one step further, we ought to be mindful of people from all ages and generations.  We can't assume they have been told about God's love or know of His Sacrifice on our behalf.  We need to have the readiness Peter writes about when he says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15). 

If you are ready, then you'll know what to say someday when someone gives you a puzzled look and asks, "Jesus?  Who in the world is Jesus Christ?"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Even The Very Hairs Of Your Head Are Numbered

A few years ago at the age of four, my daughter decided it was a good idea to give herself a haircut.  She found a pair of scissors and placed two very strategic cuts on either side of her head.  One was just over the right ear and one was just over left.  Yes my friends... she gave herself a mullet.  Needless to say, I had to quickly find a hair stylist who could fix my daughter's handy work.  Thankfully, I found somebody that was able to trim up the back and give her a cute - albeit short - style.   

Unfortunately, all too many of us live our lives with the same guiding mentality as a four-year-old with scissors: "I can do it all by myself!"  We want to be our own boss and make our own destiny.  And we end up with results similar to an 80's haircut - sure it might look great for a little while, but eventually it stops working.  Eventually we have to admit we need help.  Eventually we must look to a professional who can fix all our messes and mullets.

What about you?  Have you put your life in The Professional's hands?  Or do you still think you don't need anyone's help?  If God is capable of creating and sustaining all life, surely He can be trusted to guide and manage yours. 

If you've never actually surrendered your "spiritual scissors" to the only One who can and will give you life to the fullest, then start today!  Confess your childlike defiance and ask that He replace it with childlike faith.  Acknowledge the very things you once thought were cool - have now left you cold.  Trust Him with your life and watch how He will take your hot mess and exchange it for His Holy Ghost!  Allow Jesus to transform your mullet into His masterpiece.  He has done it for me and I know He will do it for you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

What is truth?

"What is truth?"  That's a great question.  It is one that we all ask eventually.  The Gospel of John, (chapter 18) records Pontius Pilot asking it during Jesus' trial:
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
"What is truth?" Pilate asked.

We hear a lot today about people's "personal truths" or someone needing to discover what's "true" for themself.  It implies there are no real clear lines drawn about what is actually true or false.  And if there are no real lines then we all have the ability - the obligation even - to decide for ourselves what our "truths" are. 

While that sounds like an enlightened, open-minded and a progressive viewpoint, what happens when my "truth" says that your "truth" is false?  And what happens if it goes one step further?  What if my truth says you need to surrender your truth and fall in line with my way of thinking?  If all truths are equal, valid and individual, then clearly I am not in the wrong by stating this... I'm merely standing on my truth!  Obviously this mental merry-go-round could go on and on because the debate is not really over so-called "truths," but rather opinions, preferences and belief systems.  There is a difference.  Interesting how some folks refuse to just say that and be honest amidst all their talk of "truth."

So perhaps in order to really find truth, we must stop looking within ourselves and start looking outward to the One who is Truth.  Jesus Christ is the only one who claims to be "the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me..." (John 14:6) and backed it up with authority, powerful signs, miracles, prophecy, and a resurrection!  He did not offer Himself up as a suggestion or a superstition but rather a solution to man's broken condition. 

Because the truth is that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.   The truth is that we deserve to be punished for our sins.  The truth is that Jesus took our punishment for us on the cross.  The truth is that Jesus died our death so that we might live.  The truth is that when we put our faith in Him we are given eternal life and forgiven for our sins.  THAT is the truth...not because I say so, but because HE says so!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Worthy Is The Lamb Who Was Slain

In business, an item is only worth what a buyer is willing to spend.  It's like wanting to get a new pair of shoes... until you look at the price tag.  You don't buy them because they aren't worth it; you decide the cost is too high. 

So what exactly are you worth?  How much was God Himself willing to pay?  What does He determine your value to be?  He has already told you:

I AM willing to leave Heaven, be born in a barn, and swaddled amongst the flies and feces.  I AM willing to submit myself to fallible parents, corrupt governments and live as a mere man.  I AM willing to be dirty, get sick, and experience pain just so we can be together.  I AM willing to know hunger, fatigue, thirst and weakness.  I AM willing to be insulted, struck, and spat upon for you.  You mean so much to Me that I will let them pull out My hair, tear at My beard, beat thorns into My brow, and rip open My back.  I love you so much that after all this suffering, it still isn't enough to fully demonstrate just how precious you are to Me.  I will even allow Myself to be nailed to a Roman Cross alongside thieves, become your sins and give My life in exchange for yours.  I AM willing to live and die - paying the ultimate price for you... THAT is how much you are worth to Me!

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Jewish Law required lepers to shout "unclean!" (Leviticus 13:45) in order to warn others to stay away and avoid coming into contact with their disease.  I remember years ago reading one Biblical commentator expound upon the reasons behind this particular dictate.  He believed this practice was instituted by God to not only warn and protect people from the affliction of leprosy, but it was also meant to incite compassion within the heart of God's people and prompt them to pray for those less fortunate.  Sadly, it was used solely to judge and alienate the "unclean" from the rest of society.

That got me thinking... what about now?  What things do people cry out today through their words and actions that generate my judgments rather than my prayers? 


The list goes on and on.  We know them.  We've been hurt by them.  And sometimes we have even been them.  But maybe if we dug a little deeper, we would see these actions and these people are really crying: HURT!  SCARED!  BLIND!  BROKEN!  ALONE!  SAD!  Ultimately they are crying out, "unclean."

What modern day lepers do you encounter?  Jesus offers some advice for dealing with those who might incite our wrath or condemnation rather than our concern.  It may not be easy, but the righteous path rarely is. 
"...I tell you who hear Me: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  (Luke 6:27-28)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Church Is Full Of Hypocrites!

Hypocrisy is defined as: "a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess."

It's certainly a trait most of us condemn.  It's also one of the most common, (and I'm starting to think a little canned) responses I've heard as to why people choose not to go to church.  We've all heard it before, maybe you have even said it a time or two yourself: "I believe in God, but I don't go to church because it's full of hypocrites!"

Well, DUH! 

But if hypocrites are all you see, then you're not really paying attention... we are WAY worse than that!  You missed all the selfish liars, cheats, blasphemers and crooks, just to name a few.  Real followers of Christ aren't people who think they are perfect.  Rather, they know they are sinners who have been saved by grace.

Funny how that same standard isn't applied across the board.  There are hospitals, universities and courtrooms full of hypocrites and yet we don't forsake medicine, education, or justice.  There are plenty of hypocritical farmers around the world and everyone I know still eats.  I'll bet the fashion industry has its fair share too, but nobody seems to mind that very much when the rack is 50% off. 

So if folks are so quick to condemn hypocrisy and avoid any semblance of double standards in one area but not in others, isn't that... well... a little hypocritical?  Hmmm, maybe they do belong in church after all.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let All The Things Fall!

Like most busy women (and men) out there, I feel overwhelmed at times.  Between juggling kids, husband, church, school, home, practices, work, shopping, cleaning, volunteering, (and everything else in between) there are many days I feel a lot like Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat up on his ball.  I keep telling myself, "no matter what... just don't let all the things fall!"

Can anyone relate? 

But maybe we do need to let all the things fall... for just a little while anyway.  And make some time for the Maker of Time.  To illustrate this point, I wrote a poem about it... in the tradition of Dr. Seuss, of course!

Oh Great I AM, oh Great I AM,
I have no time, oh Son of Man!
Life's too busy for me to stay,
Life's too crazy for me to pray.
There's dishes & laundry & mopping the floor,
A long list ready for the grocery store.
There are beds to make with toys everywhere,
Money is tight and I found more gray hair!
The toilets have rings and our faucet still drips,
My old jeans don't like my post-baby hips.
Oh Great I AM, oh Great I AM,
Please lend a hand oh Son of Man!
I need all the help your grace will allow,
I need coffee and sleep and patience RIGHT NOW!
I'm forever late despite all my rushing,
The car's a disaster... do my teeth need brushing?
What's that You say?
We need time alone?
Just a second dear Lord, let me answer the phone...
"Don't answer," You say?  Oh Lord don't You know?
I'm the wife-mother-friend-aunt-sister-daughter-volunteer who's running the show!
"Yes, you've been busy," The Lord said with a nod,
"But who you are first is a child of God!
You spend your day running,
To and fro with much haste,
But time spent with Me is never a waste.
I have big plans for your life & blessings to give,
I came and died for you,
So that you might live!
I'm patiently waiting, just seek Me out!
Bring Me your faith - bring Me your doubt.
I can help with family and friends,
Even neighbors to boot -
I work all things for good and in you produce fruit.
There's just one condition for all I've in store:
I desire your whole heart... nothing less, nothing more.
So what do you say, Mom?  Try Me out, know Me better!
Read that Good Book I wrote, it is My love letter.
I know life's not easy, but this promise I keep -
Your Good Shepherd's with you,
I never leave My sheep!
So what's this you say - you've no time to pray?
But try it!  Try it!  Without delay!  Why not start this very day?
Make some time to pray today
and then you may, yes you just may,
Find that in prayer, you will want to stay!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Yolk's On Me

To give everyone a little bit of my background, I was raised on a dairy farm in the heart of America's Bread Basket, the Central Valley.  Growing up being surrounded by all that land and freedom to roam, you'd think it was paradise for me as a kid.  You'd think. 

But I just wasn't, shall we say, the "outdoorsy" type.  The only farming I ever did was planting my backside in front of the T.V. every chance I had.  I would have rather watched "Green Acres" than actually play in them.

Keeping that in mind, fast-forward to my teen years.  I decided I wanted to be able to say I'd read the Bible cover to cover.  (Not so much because I cared to know God better, but more to brag about how well read and cultured I was.)  Anyway, I started out with Genesis 1:1 and did pretty good for a while.  Then I hit all those "so-n-so-beget-what's-his-face" and he went on to beget some other dudes.  Needless to say, I had a change of heart.  I figured the Old Testament probably didn't even count anymore, so why not skip it and go straight to the New Testament? Not my original goal, but still something to brag about.

The Bible I was using wasn't a Study Bible or contain any commentary, (I didn't even know they had Bibles like that) so in many ways I was on my own to figure things out as I read.  Looking back, I could have simply asked someone for help... but that would have been way too easy.  Besides, it would have also meant there were some things I didn't know and I was not about to admit that!

Sure didn't take long before I came to Matt 11:29 where Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Huh?  Yoke? 

Like I said, you'd think being a farmer's daughter, living on a farm within a farming community I would know a yoke was a harness for farm animals used for... you guessed it: farming.  You'd think.

To make matters worse, apparently I wasn't much of a speller either.  Because after reading that passage, I couldn't figure out what following Jesus had to do with eggs. 

(Not YOLK Nanci: y-o-k-e.)

Illiterate or not, I came to a point where the Bible (and ultimately God) didn't make sense.  I had reached the limit of my teenage understanding.  And in that place, I had a choice.  I could either walk away from His Book that had confused me, or I could press on and continue my pursuit despite a lack of explanation or understanding.  I chose to continue reading and dig deeper.  I chose to accept there would be things that went beyond my level of knowledge.  I chose to believe in His Truth even when I had more questions than answers.  What about you?

What do you choose when God doesn't make sense in your life?   What happens when you have reached the limits of your own understanding?  Perhaps things are going on in your world today that leave you with more questions than answers.  If so, I encourage you to keep at it!  Don't give in or give up.  Isaiah 55:8 tells us: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.  Even when you cannot see what God is doing, He is still at work.  Ask Him for the wisdom and strength to carry on!

BTW, in case you might be wondering... the Old Testament TOTALLY still counts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the beginning...

I am so excited to begin this blog.  It is all new to me, so you'll have to forgive my learning curve.  The suggestion came about from a friend (and former church secretary.)   She had learned I was able to give some mini "sermonettes" after announcements at church on Sunday mornings & wanted to know if I kept a record or blog of them.  And voila!  Carbivoreblogspot was born.

I pray my words bring about God's glory & your good.