Monday, January 26, 2015

Chef's Keys to a Savory Life

You are a spice.  Without you, the world is bland.

As a high schooler, I made a two layer cake to surprise my family.  The layers were fantastic.  They looked perfect.  As I mixed the icing, it was very gritty.  Knowing something was amiss, I called my Mamaw for advice.  Turns out, I used regular sugar when I should have used powdered sugar.  My Mamaw, trying to help her a grandson do his best without negating his effort thus far, suggested I add powdered sugar and maybe it would smooth out.  

The icing did not smooth out but it did become even more sweet.  Bless my family for each trying a piece of that cake before we tossed it into the trash.  

When the wrong ingredients are in the play, the result is rarely pleasing to the palate.  

From these two thoughts, I reflect the importance of your presence / participation in the right place at the right time so that your world is not bland.  You were meant for more than bland relationships.

How do we know the right place and right time to make relationships profound?

Trial and Error is a time tested method of learning most anything.  Trial and error is an effective teacher said the man with two fingers, both burnt.  There are more effective path ways to learning place and time.

Try the rule of three … know your God, know your neighbor, know yourself.

At home, if you know God’s desire for your family (neighbor) and you know your family and you know yourself … then how beautiful a parent / spouse / child will you be do you imagine?  God created you and your family (neighbor).  God said that what God created is good.  God made eternal life possible for you and your family (neighbor).  God wants you to experience life as flavor that dances on your tongue and satisfies your deepest midnight cravings.

Knowing the three (God, neighbor, self) is most possible for those who participate in a church community (especially worship), read the Bible on their own and in study groups, engage in mission ministries to serve the needy, pray daily to God, and give sacrificially of their time, talent, and treasure.  This is not rocket science but a lifestyle proven rewarding by countless of our ancestors of faith.

Knowing is 49% of success.  Knowing your God, your neighbor, yourself is all of 49% of a successful, meaningful life.  Jesus said it best what was necessary for the other 51%.

Take up your cross and follow Jesus … that is 51% of a successful, meaningful life.  Spice adds flavor to the dish only when present … mixed, boiled, simmered, marinated, baked into the dish.  At some point, we need to be present to others.  We need to be incarnate to our community.  

Those who savor the spiritual essence of their faith community, worship, service, study, etc… they find life to be more colorful, flavorful, meaningful, amazing, awe-inspiring.  God created you to be spice.  God created you to be an amazing flavor in the right dish at the right time.  God trusts you to show up, be present, when called.

Is your world bland?  Is your world too sweet like the cake I baked?

The remedy is first to know God, neighbor, self.  Then be present and participating.


  1. What relationship did you previously enjoy that has become stale?  Are you thinking of an individual, team, group, etc?   What is the name(s) that come to mind?

2.  Assuming you want more than that blandness, be mindful of that relationship over the rest of this week.  Roast that relationship over the burner of knowing (God, neighbor, self) as you would peppers or garlic before adding to the sauce.

3.  By mid-week, pray about the presentation and consumption of the relationship.  Ask God how you can serve up yourself into the relationship so that it arrives at the table as a master piece akin to God’s desire.

4.  By week’s end, do something.  A word, touch, hug, hold door open, mail a card, invite to church, shared smile, etc.  This thing you do is you being the spice God intended you to be to make this dish (relationship) gourmet.

[For inspiring this reflection, my thanks to Libby the best front of the house manager and my friend; and to “Its a Wonderful Life” the movie.]

Monday, January 12, 2015

Acceptance and Parenting

How can I help my son be the most amazing person he can be?

I love to talk to God about my son.  I want my son to be wildly successful.  Maybe that is financially maybe not.  I want my son to be an abundantly successful person.  A great person, loving husband and parent, gifted professional, etc … what are your “wants” for your loved ones?  How do we make that happen?  (to the best of our ability, let’s be humble and real)

If you had a choice, which would be more helpful …
Affirming your child every single day in every single way?
Accepting your child every single day in every single way?

Affirming and accepting are not the same, I think.

Affirming is a pat on the back, an “attaboy”, a sign of approval for doing a desired thing or achieving a planned goal.  Affirming is rather top-down, one directional, earned.  Affirming can be done from a distance with no risk.  

Acceptance is personal, risky, vulnerable.  Acceptance is side-by-side, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder stuff.  Acceptance is personal bubble intersecting with personal bubble.  We risk when we accept another.  Acceptance is not earned as much as granted.  Acceptance carries a greater sense of permanence.  

Which would you rather enjoy?  

Which would most likely help my son be the most amazing person he can be?
(yes, this is a leading question)

Dr. David Lose proposes that one of the revelations / epiphanal moments of Jesus’ baptism is the personal, poignant and powerful way that God accepts Jesus.  (link to his article below)

Think of the words spoken to Jesus… “This is my son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  As a child, how do these words sound?

There are many ways to shape a child.  We can bribe, threaten, manipulate, coerce, encourage, affirm, point, lead, provide, resource, etc our children toward the “story line” we dream for them.

Our children were born to be amazing in their own unique way.  If the path of least resistance is to help them be that, how do we help?  

What about acceptance?  Not saying we drop the resourcing, encouraging, affirming.  Maybe we drop the manipulating and coercion.  

If our children knew they could take a good risk and still be accepted, what might they do with their lives?  Who are on the front line of acceptance in our children’s lives (my life and yours)?

It is said that after the shepherds showed up at the manger telling of all the angels had told them of the baby Jesus, Mary cherished all these things in her heart.  How many a teenager has been saved because a parent cherished the day of their child’s birth?  How many a teenager does amazing things because they know they are cherished / accepted.

I recently told a mother at church that when I see children “be cute” at church, I think that child must know they are accepted.  What child would do such cute and funny things if they questioned their acceptance?  How awesome that my son and I get to worship in a church were people accept others.  Where children feel free to be “cute”.

Can you allow God to accept you?  It is not easy for us adults to take on a child like faith for children are most adept than are we at receiving acceptance.  

Believe that God accepts you.  Live like God accepts you.  With confidence I can say, nothing in this world will separate you from God.  God will honor your choice to separate yourself from God if that is your choice (though God is all about you being able to change your mind and so I am profoundly hopefully for humanity).  Since nothing can separate you from God … what good risk will you take with the life you have been given?

How about accepting someone?  It is an amazing gift that you can give to them.  Start at your home, then your neighbor, co-worker … you know the drill, accept the person in the mirror first.  God loves you for you God’s child, God’s beloved, with whom God is well pleased.

I want to thank David Lose ( for inspiring some of my thoughts in this blog.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

What Dreams May Come . . .

Dreams change the world.  Dreams that from other than you are even more powerful.  Your response to a dream can make all the difference.

Matthew 2 contains the story of the visit of the “wise men.”  

The appearance of a star in the sky has lured these “wise men” to travel to what was a foreign land.  Beyond the safety of their local community they traveled to see the King born beneath such a star.  More than tourist, they were led to bring gifts for the child king.

Quite a contrary reaction was had by the ruler, Herod, to the star and to the visit of the “wise men” and especially to the birth of a king beneath the star.  Herod reacted by ordering the killing of all the babies so as to make certain the child king would not live to become an adult king.

How amazingly different reactions to the same star … the same promise … the same vision.  Knowing how the story concludes, we see the great error in Herod’s ways.  Sadly, he was not so insightful.  Herod made a mess of unspeakable proportion.

Into the violent mess Herod creates, our savior was born.  In this mess, our God performs miracles … through dreams … through others including foreigners.

God sends dreams to the “wise men” and to Joseph (Mary’s husband).  In these dreams, God inspires action that keeps safe the child king, Jesus.  Through dreams God performs miracles in the middle of a mess to make safe God’s Son.

What might the power of dreams be in your life?

Dreams happen when we let loose of control and make our self open to the voice / images / sounds from beyond.  Oh yes, sometimes our dreams are our subconscious working out the stress and questions of our lives.  Sometimes, the dreams are from God.  In our sleeping, when our mind grows quiet and vulnerable, we are open to the voice of God in a new way.

In our sleeping, in our praying, in our meditation … therein we dream in ways that reveal to us our God.  A benefit of keeping a sabbath day, week or season, is removing ourself from the routines that prevent us from being open to dreams.

Is a dream from God?  How does that dream square with the Bible?  with our worshipping community?  with the tradition of our church?  with our reasoned experience of life?  These are some of the dialogue partners that can help us discern from where a dream hails.

In my experience, dreams sent by God are all about love, hope, reconciliation, mercy, justice.  

Recall Peter’s dream in Acts 10.  I encourage you to read this chapter.  A summary statement by Peter is found in verse 28 of that chapter … “Peter addressed them, ‘You know, I’m sure that this is highly irregular.  Jews just don’t do this - visit and relax with people of another race.  But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other.”  (The Message).  Peter makes such a statement based upon a dream.  He says it to people he met because they had a dream and sent for him.  

Dreams change the world.  Dreams that from other than you are even more powerful.  Your response to a dream can make all the difference.

It is a new year, what are your dreams?  What are your dreams for yourself, your family and friends, your church, your business?  

May they be dreams sent by God for if so they will bring miracles regardless the mess you experience along the way.