Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rest Vs. Laziness

There was a time in my life when I was so busy and involved that I slept (if I was lucky) about 4 hours a night. I scheduled out my small meals and often ate while doing something else. Time with friends usually had to be productive, or else I’d leave as soon as the event ended (if not sooner.)
Although there were several reasons for my overdoing it all the time, one stands out: I was afraid of being lazy.
Scripture supported that idea:
The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.” –Proverbs 21:25
Just one problem: even God rested. Even God commands that we rest. When we take on too much (even if we mean well) we end doing a ton, but not doing any of it very well.
This, too, displeases the Lord –“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10.)
So what’s the difference between rest and laziness?
1. Rest is Ultimately Productive
"Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.” Exodus 34:21
That’s a command concerning the Sabbath day. The principle also applies more broadly. God’s instruction about labor –even labor for Him during a busy and fruitful season- includes the need for time to rest.
Productivity and rest are proven to go hand-in-hand instead of to work against each other. Taking the time to rest appropriately allows you to be more productive and effective for His work.
The Lord’s command to “never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically” also does not contradict His commands about using time wisely or about taking time to rest (Romans 12:11.)
2. Rest is God-Focused
As Charles Spurgeon has said “God gave us sleep to remind us we are not him.” When you give up on sleep, relaxation, and other times of rest, it may seem like you’re being selfless.
But, you’re not. You’re trying to take on more than the Lord has given you (because He does not tempt us nor tell us to harm ourselves!) To try to take over for God and do too much, we get prideful, controlling, and focused on accomplishments in this world.
Believe it or not, in that process, we also became lazy. We become lazy to trust, lazy about time spent with God or with those we love, and lazy about keeping ourselves diligently focused on His will.
Our ambitions then drive us into the sluggard’s dilemma: “A sluggard's appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfiedProverbs 13:4
Choose to be God’s focused: “for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10.) Get it? Godly work involves Godly rest.
3. Rest is Based on Wisdom
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Imagine if a runner is lazy. Never arriving at the finish line, the runner might give up because they “don’t feel up to it today.”
The upright –who are not lazy according to God- are those who run with self-control. “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19.)
Their path is clear: keep God’s commands to rest, to be still, to take the time to do things well. Do what is asked of you responsibly instead of trying to prove yourself by running extra races that ultimately lead to things other than eternal life pleasing Christ.
Rest was designed by God, it is a necessity. Laziness is a corruption of God’s intentions for rest. It’s selfish, it’s based on folly and feelings, and laziness does nothing to contribute to your work for the Lord. Rest does.
 Know the difference, live it, and pay attention to the Lord’s leading, for:
“The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."-Exodus 33:14

That’s not a gift to forsake. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Living in God's Shadow

There are some things that are good in God that otherwise aren’t…like, for example, bearing a yoke, being the least of these, and or living in the shadows.

In the Lord, a yoke is good and easy. Being least is a quality of humility and selfless love that gives Him glory. And living in the shadows…well, it depends on whose shadow we’re talking about.

Generally, to live in someone’s shadow is to have your own person and accomplishments overlooked because another person is greater, bigger, or more noticeable. Younger siblings hear about this often –“you have a lot to live up to in the shadow of your big sister!”

But living in the shadow of God is quite the opposite.

We read over and over again in Scripture, particularly in Psalms, about taking refuge in the shadow of His wings.

What’s so different about this shadow?

The shadow of His wings is…

1. A Metaphor for His Guidance

We first read about being under God’s “wings” in Deuteronomy 32:11 in the song of Moses. The words come as a part of the tale of how God guided and cared for Moses.  

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.”

Have you seen how an eagle cares for its young and teaches them to fly? Eagles hover over their children, keeping them close and safe. Stirring them up, eagles encourage their children to fly but they never leave them. Their young are always in the shadow of their wing and are caught and carried when they grow weary or falter.

2. A Picture of His Presence

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” –Psalm 61:4

What is His tent? What is the shelter of His wings? The place of God’s presence. A place that is eternal and that is a refuge. The Hebrew word for refuge here is “chasah” and is also translated “my trust.”

I will put my trust in the shelter of your wings, the Psalmist says. I will, as chasah means, confide in your presence and trust in you for safety, we read.

Based on the word chasah, we know that taking refuge in the shadow of His wings calls us to go aside from our usual places of fear and self and this world to the place of hoping and resting fully in Him.  

3. An Example of His Protection

In Psalm 91:4, we read that: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

To be in the Lord’s presence, close to Him and relying on Him, means that you are wholly protected. You are covered as by a shield, and He’s got your back too:

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” –Psalm 63:7

Worthy of our praise and giving us the peace that we are indeed safe from all harm, we find ourselves in such joy that we sing. When we’re under His watchful, faithful covering, we have reason and space to sing!

4. A Description of a Loving Relationship with the Lord

His guarding us and keeping us close isn’t mere obligation or instinct. The Lord’s love is far more perfect and sweet than that.

As the Psalmist wrote: “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” –Psalm 17:8

Just one verse earlier God is praised for His “lovingkindness.” Psalm 36:7 phrases it this way: “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Living in the shadows, or rather, someone else’s shadow, isn’t so bad when the shadow is the Lord’s. He is greater. The shadow He casts isn’t one we’ll ever measure up, and His isn’t over-reaching.

We find the guidance, safety, hope, joy, and the love that we need to be who we are in the Lord when we are in His presence –and to be in His presence is to be in His shadow, under His wing.

Hebrews 12:9 reminds us: “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!” To be under His wing is to be in His care, treated as one of His young.

Though pride tells us we know how to fly and protect ourselves, God knows better. God knows the best place for us is in His presence, under His wing –even though that means giving up control and pride…

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” –James 4:7-8 

There’s no better place to be. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strawberry Chicken Salad

Ingredients for the Chicken:
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Sliced Strawberries
Directions for the Chicken:
  1. Lightly grease a skillet and turn heat to medium.
  2. In the meantime, rub small amount of sugar, salt, and pepper on chicken breasts.
  3. Sear chicken in skillet with the rubbed side down. Rub the top and flip after 3 minutes.
  4. Continue searing until chicken has browned on the outside, briefly searing any exposed areas that are still raw.
  5. Add just enough red wine vinegar to surround the bottoms of the chicken.
  6. Drizzle honey in a grid pattern over the chicken.
  7. Layer strawberry slices on top of each breast, placing a couple in the vinegar.
  8. Cover the skillet and reduce heat to low for 10 minutes.
  9. Check the chicken, if it's cooked through, slice or dice as preferred. Otherwise, cover and keep cooking until finished.
  10. Once the chicken is cooked and sliced or diced, return to the vinegar and strawberries, lightly tossing to coat.
  11. Serve as a salad topping (you won't even need dressing!) 

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • Spinach Leaves
  • Arugula
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Slivered Almonds
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Strawberry Chicken

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Polished Words of Jesus Christ

For those of us you who are also perfectionists, you know the agony of slowly tapping out words and tediously editing to ensure that your words are perfectly polished. Some of us extend our need for each word to be exact to our conversations with other people.

We have our reasons.

As wielders of words, we know their power. The more precise your words, the better your meaning will be conveyed. By putting out perfectly polished words, you get to choose exactly the message given to others without misunderstanding or misleading anyone.

But sometimes we over-edit. Sometimes the message we convey to others is so precise it says little at all and loses its impact.

Consider some of Jesus’ words:

 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”Mark 9:19

What a way to win people over, right? These raw words of Jesus imply His (Godly) frustration with humans living according to their human nature. He doesn’t find a kind, roundabout way to politely suggest that disbelief has implications.

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” –Matthew 8:22

Ouch. Insensitive. Demanding. Bossy. We could read a lot into these words, and surely some who heard such phrases did.

Jesus wept. –John 11:35

It wasn’t what He spoke, but that He didn’t. Imagine how puzzling it must have been to see the Lord of the universe, the great Teacher, weep instead of comforting others and explaining that just in just minutes He would raise His friend from the dead.

 I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. –Luke 10:21

Polished words are often used to impress, control, and influence the wise and the learned. Jesus’ words were for the little children. Children could understand His frustration and His clear directive to follow Him and switch from a perspective of death and this world to one of eternal life. 

A child knows what it is to weep rather than find “the right words” because indeed, weeping with others is often just as comforting.

The difficulty with speaking and writing without all the polish is that people might see through the words.

Your readers might see through the raw words and witness a struggle you face right now instead of an issue you’ve resolved and are sharing “learned” insights about. Friends might find that your advice comes from a place of imperfection and, while you want it to be right, might be skewed or incomplete.

You might find yourself vulnerable, as we are vulnerable when we talk with children. Little people’s words aren’t polished. Their questions aren’t polite. The implications they read and lessons they pick up often mirror not what you so carefully explained but what was going on in your heart when you explained it.

What if like Jesus you let people see through to what you’re feeling right now, not just your tidied-up, lesson-learned analysis? Could you set aside control and your spotless reputation?

Because here’s what Jesus’s unpolished, raw words did that our cleaned up, decorated words often do not: pointed right to God’s heart. 

Rather than marking out each step as if it must be understood and handled, we could fix our eyes on the perfect author who writes even the messes into His plot.  

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faithHebrews 12:2

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Orange Chicken


  • 2 Boneless Chicken Breasts Cubed
  • 1 Cup Corn Starch
  • 2 Eggs Beaten
  • 1 Large Orange
  • 1 1/2 Cups Orange Juice
  • 1/8 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/8 Cups Honey
  • 1/8 Cup Corn Starch Dissolved in Water
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Dredge the cubed chicken pieces in corn starch and then in beaten eggs.
  3. Add to a hot skillet and cook 2-3 minutes before flipping.
  4. Allow the chicken to cook just until the egg on the outside is cooked through. 
  5. In the meantime, whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, honey, dissolved corn starch, and seasonings. Squeeze fresh orange over mixture as well until mostly juiced.
  6. Add the chicken to a baking dish and pour orange juice mixture over.
  7. Place remaining slices of fresh orange (not the skin!) in the baking dish.
  8. Put the dish in the oven uncovered and cook 10 minutes.
  9. Stir the mixture, flipping the meat to ensure it is evenly coated in the sauce.
  10. Cook another ten minutes.
  11. Raise the oven temp to 425 degrees and cook an additional 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has bubbled and thickened.
  12. Serve over jasmine rice.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Your Testimony Isn't Over...

You describe what was going on in your life, explaining what led you to your decision. Throughout the story you share about those special moments and “coincidences” that boosted your faith. Perhaps for you the story is short and it’s sweet. For others, it’s much more dramatic. As you tell the story, you arrive at the crux (perhaps better said: the cross.)

Here, you proclaim the truth. Jesus is your Lord and Savior.

Now don’t stop. Don’t conclude your testimony with “the end.”

So often, so many of us slap “happily ever after” onto our testimonies, as if Christ saving us is the end of the story.

Worse yet, there are many Christians who determine, having been saved and changed, that the rest of their lives is theirs to live as they please. With a happily ever after coming at the end, they, like the Corinthian Christians figure they might as well pass the rest of their earthly lives as they please.

We act like this when we don’t want to be up front about our continued sin and don’t care all that much about living right now like we are citizens of heaven. The words slip out as if what’s past is past and that’s what defines us, putting our hope in the Lord who saved us but not in the same One who is glad to change us today.

Concerned with what’s right in front of us, we approach life with the shortsighted priority of preserving our reputations, our senses of accomplishment, and our immediate emotions.  When life is hard, we may still testify that He is real but feel nothing of His joy because we are caught up in present circumstances.

We can live like that if we choose.

But we don’t have to.

You don’t have to say “the end” after sharing that Jesus died for you because Christ is still living and you are free to live in Him today. And tomorrow.

He’s still active. He’s still present. Though your end on earth is secure, you aren’t there yet. You’re still a work in progress –one that will be brought to completion.

Keep in mind that “the end,” too, is all caught up in God. He’s the Alpha and the Omega –the beginning and the end. He defines eternity, security, time, and hope. The very word “Omega” describes the limitlessness of our God.

We read in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

The well-known words of Isaiah 41:10 also read:

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

But, it’s just a few a little earlier, in verse 4, that we read:

“Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
and with the last—I am he.”

What’s to come in your testimony? What’s the Lord doing in your life right now? What was is important, but it’s not everything. He was with the first generations and will be with the last. He was present when you first accepted Christ as your Savior, and He will be the day that you go confidently before God, hopeful to hear that He is well-pleased.

For King and Country’s It’s Not Over Yet offers a wonderful reminder for those of us who don’t feel that our testimony is continuing or wonder if the Lord is still at work in our lives: