Weekend Rerun: Taste and See

Originally posted February 22, 2012

If you heard the rumblings of the apocalypse at around 6:00 p.m. last Saturday night . . . that was me.

To be more accurate, it emanated from my home after I did something shocking.

I cooked two new recipes for dinner.  Not one experimental dish, but two.  In the same day.  For the same meal.

How did the world not end?

My oldest daughter has been getting better about trying new dishes and tasting before judging.  Even she, though, poked at the baked potato casserole with her fork like it was an animal on the side of the road and she didn’t know if it was dead or not.

“This looks gross.”  (It didn’t).

“It smells gross.”  (It didn’t.)

“I don’t like it.”

In true mom fashion, I answered, “How do you know if you haven’t tried it?”

I knew better than to serve up the potato side dish to my middle girl who never ceases to yell out, “I HATE potatoes” any time a spud threatens to come near the dinner table.  It’s as if after almost six years with the child I still need the constant reminder that potatoes on her plate cause the allergic reaction of a total meltdown.

Instead, I served up the barbecued chicken I’d made in my Crock Pot.  “I don’t like chicken.”  (She does).  “I don’t like barbecue.”  (She does.)

Eventually, I held up the tiniest shred of chicken on a fork and instead of biting it, she flicked out her tongue like a snake and licked the edge.  Then she grimaced and, in order to be truly dramatic, she actually shivered a little like it sent chills down her spine.

Because obviously that one drive-by licking was enough to judge the meal’s quality.

After the initial posturing of resistance, finally we ate and by the end of the meal, we decided despite the protests, that it was good.

Are you willing to experience God?  To do more than flick out your tongue for a Bible verse or two, a prayer in the night, a few Sundays in a pew, or a feeling of holiness during Lent?

Are you willing to give Him the chance to display His goodness through a season of difficulty and not give up on Him?

The Psalmist, filled with joy in knowing God, urged everyone around him to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

It’s like he passed around a decadent piece of chocolate cake, so wonderful, so incredibly delicious, he simply couldn’t keep it to himself.

In this Psalm, though, David was encouraging more than just licking a little bit of God off the edge of a sample fork.  That’s the key to his testimony.

He wrote:

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:4-8).

Tasting God means seeking the Lord, looking to Him, even when we are full of fears, poor, facing troubles, and in need of deliverance.

We can’t give up, shrug Him off, avoid Him, halfheartedly try Him out, or put Him in a box of limitations and expectations.  We have to let God be God.  Then we’ll see how good He is.

Peter wrote:

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2-3, NIV). 

Tasting His goodness stirs up our God appetite. The more you read God’s Word, the more you’ll hunger and thirst for His Word.  The more you worship Him, the more you’ll long to worship Him.

Then, knowing how good God is, we just can’t keep Him to ourselves.  Just like the Psalmist, we’ll want to pass around the chocolate cake!  It will be our great testimony, even to skeptics and doubters. “Look what God did for me!  He is so good.  You have to taste and see.”

That’s exactly what Philip said to Nathaniel after discovering Jesus, the man he thought was the long-awaited Messiah.  Philip ran to Nathaniel and exclaimed, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).

Nathaniel was dubious and asked the skeptic’s question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth.”

Philip’s answer was simple: “Come and see” (John 1:46).

If you’ve been refusing to really taste God’s goodness and reluctant to really try a relationship with Him,  please seek Him.

If you’ve sunk your teeth into a relationship with Him and discovered His goodness, don’t push Him aside when difficulties arise.  Allow Him to display His goodness at all times.

If you’ve grown to love the goodness of God in your life, then feed the appetite for His presence and His Word.

Then, pass the cake to another.  Live your life so that others will want to experience a relationship with Him and taste His goodness for themselves.

Recipe Links:

As much as my kids balked at first, these recipes really were delicious and the chicken was super easy to make in my Crock Pot! Here are the links:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Lowering the Hands, Releasing the Fists

“Mom, why do turtles have shells?”

My preschooler draped herself across the sofa, seemingly inert and bored, but truly thinking about the great mysteries of the world.

“The shell keeps their soft body safe and protected.”

“Oh.  Okay, mom.”

So far, so good.  Her questions simple, her mind and heart trusting and easily satisfied by easy answers.

My middle daughter was never so quick to accept and move on.  A conversation with her could go something like this:

“Mom, why do turtles have shells?”
“To protect their soft bodies from harm.”
“Why are they in danger and need protection?”
“Other animals might try to catch and eat them, or they might be stepped on or run over…
“Why do some animals like to eat turtles?
“Some animals are herbivores and eat only plants and some are carnivores and eat meat.  Turtles are meat.”
“Why do animals eat other animals?”
“Because after the fall in the garden of Eden, one of the curses was the destruction of the peace between animals in the animal kingdom and now some animals would be food and others would eat other animals.”

Falling back on theology or “because God said so” became my frequent defensive position.

This curiosity about the world, I love.  This exploring and questioning and wondering “what if” and “how come”–while it occasionally makes me explode and bluster out  “because God made it that way” or “because I said”– ultimately I appreciate.

Ultimately I understand.

Because I’m a questioner, too.  I want to know “why” and “how come” and “what about” and “why not?”  I want to pester God with question after question like a three-year-old first discovering the world around her.

More than that, more than asking God true and honest questions, I nag and whine and push and nudge.

Oh, and it’s even more than that.  I’ve been Jacob up all night wrestling the angel of the Lord.  I’ve locked my grip with God’s and fought hard for what I thought constituted a blessing, for a victory, for triumph over circumstances and over the Enemy who’s been battering at the walls of my life.

Yes, I’ve pummeled the chest of Christ with my fists, fighting and demanding, manipulating even, making promises, issuing threats, and crying for mercy, help, deliverance—for rescue.

I’m being honest with Him, I tell myself, and honesty is something God treasures in us.  He never asks us to fake it or play happy-faced Christian when life is a mess and this mask we wear becomes increasingly ill-fitting.

God desires truth.  Job, Habakkuk, David, Asaph, Elijah, Jonah, Mary and Martha laid their complaints before God, plead their case, and He listened and answered with awe-inspiring mercy.

He didn’t strike them down with lightning.  He let them empty out hearts filled with fear, hurt and anger and then He answered, not always in the way they expected or wanted, but still He met them in the place of pain and questioning and carried them on out.

Now, though, I’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit and found I didn’t really get it before.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV).

Gentleness is on that list.  All those years of sermons and Sunday school lessons and I thought this meant “being nice, not hurting others with our words, kindness and tact.”

The Message translation however, describes gentleness as: “not needing to force our way in life.”

Is this Gentleness?

In Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit, Beth Moore defines the root word here “praotes” as “the complete surrender to God’s will and way in your life.  The term basically means to stop fighting God” (p. 178).

Gentleness is submission to God, His will and His way, His plan and His timing and all He has determined for us.

It means dropping to our knees and pouring out the honest struggles of our heart, but deciding at last, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

It’s singing with true conviction, “Have Thine own way, Lord,” and “I surrender all.”

No more fighting God.

How then can I still be honest with Him?  How can a prize-fighter like me lower the hands and open the fists, cease fighting and nagging and choose instead to trust?

Does this require me to be fake after all?

There is my answer in the verse itself, “but the fruit of the Spirit is…” not the fruit of my own discipline or maturity, strength or ability.

This is what the Spirit at work and alive within me does—the impossible, the new, the Christ-like—As I yield and grow in the Spirit, so slowly I trust more, believe more, fall in love with Jesus more and understand how much He loves me more.

And I stop fighting Him.

I drop the knee, I bow the head, I cry the tear, I confess the pain, I trust my God and the Spirit works out Gentleness in me.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 01/07/2012: One Last Decoration

Hiding the Word

It was a sweet and thoughtful gift.  I loved it the moment I unwrapped it and hung it on my wall for the Christmas season. When I packed away every light, garland, ornament and stocking with the Christmas decorations, I made an important decision.

I’m not taking this one down.

So, I have a little bit of Christmas in my kitchen all year long.  It’s an angel hanging sweetly over a sign that says, “Rejoice.”

Rejoicing shouldn’t just be a Christmas past-time, but it’s easy to forget the command to rejoice when the new year begins and regular life pounds away at your joy.

In fact, it’s just too simple in general to focus on the negatives.  Within days of the new year, we had handled a broken dishwasher and I experienced my painting fiasco (you can read all about that here).  We had bills.  We had a full calendar.  We had annoyances.  We had hurts.

And I began to think, “Is this the new year, Lord?  Will 2012 just be miserable all the time?”

But He stopped me.

He reminded me that we’ve also had a great re-start for the girls back to school, answered prayers, unexpected gifts, dates with friends and family to look forward to, thoughtful notes of encouragement, bursts of warm weather, and more.

We had reason to rejoice.

Thus, my verse for this week is actually the beginning to a passage in Philippians 4 that I love:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).

Weekend Rerun

Bad Dreams
Originally Published 03/02/2011

” The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42:8

The other night I was startled awake at 3 a.m. by a child’s nose touching my nose and two eyes staring intently into my sleeping face.  Then, in the loudest whisper possible, my daughter announced, “Mom, I had a bad dream!”

We can write nightmares off as a “kid thing,” but in the darkness, when we don’t have the busyness of the day to distract us, our fears can overpower us and our thoughts run wild.

In the daytime, I’m fairly good at “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).  I know the Scriptures and God’s promises to provide for me, to care for me, to help me, to be with me.

But at night, my defenses are down.  So, it’s easy to lie awake pursuing “what if’s,” prepare speeches, imagine conversations, and make plans.

That’s why it’s not surprising to me that when Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask questions about his faith, “he came to Jesus at night” (John 3:2, NIV).  I know Nicodemus wanted to hide his interest in Jesus from the other Pharisees, but I also wonder if something else was at work.

Could it be that Nicodemus tossed and turned at night, wondering who this Jesus was?  Could it be that he couldn’t stop the questions and just wanted some answers?

I’ve been meditating this week on Mark 6:45-52.  In that passage, Jesus had sent the disciples away on a boat while he went off by Himself to pray.  It says: “Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.  Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.”

This is the second of two occasions where Jesus calmed the wind and waves for the disciples.  This time, the event is miraculous even before the storm is calmed—-because Jesus “saw them.” He saw them in the middle of the night, from the other side of the shore, even with the wind and waves at their worst.

He saw them in the darkness.

Not only did he see where they were on the sea, but he saw the horrible storm they were facing and he saw their every effort to overcome it.  “He saw them straining at rowing for the wind was against them.”

When things are dark for us—either literally at night when we’re tossing in bed unable to sleep or just in times when we can’t sense the Lord’s presence or light in our circumstances—He sees us.  He knows everything we are facing and all of our efforts to overcome.  He knows what thoughts steal our sleep.

For the disciples in that storm, Jesus’s presence alone brought them peace.  He walked to them on the water and comforted them, saying: “Do not be afraid.’  Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased” (verses 50 and 51).  It didn’t take magical formulas or even speaking to the storm.  Jesus was present with them, and the tempest ended.

It is the same with us.  No matter our storm or the darkness we face, we can have peace in His presence.  As the Psalmist wrote, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8, NIV).

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King