God using Hot Sauce on our Acts of Service

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If you’ve ever had school lunches, you know they’re pretty bad. At least at college dining halls they have healthy options, but sometimes, or a lot of the time, they don’t taste very good. I’ve had a meal plan throughout college and always had a big lunch regardless of the taste.

My secret? Douse it with a bunch of sriracha. This way, I could make even the bad tasting stuff I was eating taste good. Similarly, God does this with our acts of service that are often, if not always, tainted by our sin. No matter how bad it is He will use it for His good, even if it tastes bad (Romans 8:28). Now, it’s better for us to try and find healthy, good tasting food in the first place so we don’t have to put sriracha on it, but regardless, I end up eating what’s on my plate, and God ends up using what we give Him through the power of Jesus Christ living through us as believers.

On a similar note, Jesus sings for us, perfecting our worship so our worship, it certainly will never be perfect on its own: See http://www.zachicks.com/blog/2013/1/1/jesus-sings-for-us-the-good-news-about-our-bad-worship.html

God will use whatever we give that is on our plate, even if it is bad (which it usually is), for His glory. I think of the story of the prayer of the Pharisee and of the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14:

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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When the hot sauce hurts

Even our ‘best’ acts of service are often tainted by pride or some minuscule underlying reason that we either ignore or don’t notice. We have to admit at one point, we have all thought we were better than others; although we are not called to compare ourselves to others, but to Jesus (2 Cor 10:12). It is better for us to follow God’s plan for us perfectly or as perfectly as we can because “The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.”(Proverbs 10:29) After all, you can only have so much sriracha before it hurts your stomach and gives you health problems from the amount of salt!

It reminds me a lot of this song: Sovereign over Us, especially @ 2:49:

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Verses for today

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

(2 Corinthians 10:12)

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

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From the Car to the Restaurant

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I pulled up to the restaurant, starved. The lights weren’t on so it took us awhile to find it. I walked out of the car. It was freezing, so I threw on a nice warm jacket. I could see the warmth at the end of the cold and knew it was coming, soon. I reached the restaurant glad to be out of the car and in a larger community of people. We usually are fine not being uncomfortable for a short amount of time, knowing that we will reach warmth very soon.

The very same thing is happening to we who are following Jesus right now, making Him Lord of our lives. We are to deny our own flesh, which makes us uncomfortable, cold.

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Cooped up in the Car

The car is our old lives, cooped up in our own fleshly desires, only comfortable in a little zone. We can only sit in the car so long before we get irritated and want things to change. There’s nowhere to go but to the backseat. We often get so cooped up in our ‘car’ (our lives) that we try and upgrade it: leather seats, a sunroof, more gadgets, a little bigger. But a car can only get so big before you feel limited by it. The hope people in the world have in their lives are in the upgrades that they will apply to it. After awhile though, you can only upgrade your car so much before it starts breaking and you have to repair it to have it back to where it was at its best. Additionally, you can only squeeze so many people in it. (Matthew 19:21)

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Putting on the Jacket to Face the Cold

When we accept Jesus into our lives, that’s when we step out of the car and leave our old desires behind. We clothe ourselves with Jesus: the jacket (Romans 13:13-14). He keeps us warm, it’s only Jesus who keeps us warm through the Holy Spirit, and it’s knowing, through the Spirit, that the restaurant is so close and being able to see it. The hardest thing to do is get our friends out of the car to walk with us, but when we do, it’s a very special thing. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

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Keeping the Restaurant in Sight

When we get out of the car fully, we see the restaurant, Heaven, in sight. Thus, we become kingdom oriented, focused on the things from above, not the things in the world (our little car). The warmth that is provided from seeing that is powerful. That hope is immense, and would hardly make combating the cold worth it if there wasn’t anything to look forward to. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

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Walking with Jesus

The path to Heaven is a narrow one (Matthew 7:13-14), not very many people have been blessed with the opportunity to see the restaurant (Matthew 13:14-17), and let alone, desire to deny everything they have built up in their car and tread the path set before them. Most people try and do it without a relationship with Jesus and thus, resort to going back into the car because it’s warm, or assuming they are good enough people on their own. I think of a bouncer at the restaurant door. When you get there, He says, “Where is your jacket?” You say, “I didn’t need it, I just beat the cold and made it through without one.” He says, “It’s too bad, we don’t accept people prideful, impractical people into our restaurant.” (Matthew 7:21-23 & 22:12-14) Your dad goes into the restaurant with the car keys and you are left in the cold, without a jacket, because you thought you could make it without your jacket (Jesus).

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Verses 

Matthew 7:21-23 (The Message): 21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

Matthew 19:21: 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18: Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The Art of Foolish Arguing

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Recently, I have been dealing with arguments all over the place. In my house, in the work force, at school, well, basically everywhere. When I enter an argument it is usually about something completely stupid, and I know that, and assume the other person knows that. (2 Tim 2:22-26). Paul speaks against foolishness and I all too easily fall into it. The problem is, what I say is often misinterpreted and becomes offensive, not the way I intend it to.

When other people are offended by something, it doesn’t effect me and I am often cooped up in myself, I think “if I don’t feel bad afterwards, who cares? They probably don’t either.”

Wrong. “What’s wrong with you Connor?” I have limited and bogged down countless people by my joking ‘opinions’ and it has all been against the kingdom of God. I need to do this for the sake of others’ work for His kingdom, not for myself. Who cares about me? I need to get to the point where I don’t, because in who I am in Christ Jesus, I care about God and becoming the best vessel I can for Him. (John 3:30 “He must increase, I must decrease.”) It’s not the angel and the devil that I’m dealing with, it’s the angel and myself.

In reality, I’m a failure on my own, the only good that I am comes from who I am in Christ Jesus. I need to seek that more. Often, I think I have gotten to a point, then God puts me in my place “you’re not they’re yet.” (See stepping off our pride stool: https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/stepping-off-our-stool-to-shed-our-old-wineskin-often/ )

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Things for self

That’s what most things have been, for myself. Unfortunately, things that are for myself are worthless. Jesus sought His Father’s will, not His own (John 14:10). He denied His flesh. I know unless I’m being sacrificial, my heart is in the wrong place. See, pleasure is all vanity unless it drives one to do God’s work. But often, it doesn’t and just distracts us from getting fulfillment in God.

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Pleasure to displeasure

For what comes after pleasure but displeasure? The pleasure of man cannot be redone because he seeks more than the previous time. Consider a beautiful view, once you arrive again, it isn’t as beautiful as before, or if it is as beautiful, there will come a time in which it will not be as beautiful and the heart will not find increasing pleasure in it. Even if there is pleasure at all, man will seek progress and will be sad if he doesn’t experience something greater (Ecclesiastes 1:8).

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Song: The Smiths: Bigmouth Strikes Again

This song speaks to my situation perfectly. It’s what I am: a bigmouth. (lyrics are in the video)

Playing the Blues & Following Jesus

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“You can’t play the blues til you’ve been through the blues.” That’s what a lot of famous blues players say. You can’t play the blues from your soul until you’ve been through hard times and sorrow, “my baby left me, was with anotha man” etc. Think about Eric Clapton, “Tears in Heaven” is about his 4 year old son dying from falling out of a window. He’s one of the best blues guitarists around today; if that’s not hard times, I don’t know what is.

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          The Blues and Jesus

I can’t help but think about how this relates to our relationship with Jesus. Until we have a reason to rely on Him and go through hard times, we don’t learn how to ‘play the blues.’ Often, so we can learn how to follow Him, He allows those trials to happen to us so that we can learn. (James 1:2-4)

Usually because of our pride, we have to go through these trials to become more confident in the attributes of God; that He can be our refuge, peace, comfort, and so much more for us when we follow Jesus. (Psalm 9:9, 18:2, 18:29, 23:3)

One could argue, just like the blues, that you can’t learn how to follow Jesus without going through hard times (Proverbs 3:12, Psalm 11:5). It’s through the hard times and trials that we rely on Him more and get a little closer to relying on Him for everything (Romans 5:3-4).

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          God’s toolbox

God brings out the toolbox of his attributes to use on us to bring us closer to Him. Even the “bad” ones. God is loving, kind, just, He grows angry, He despises pride (1 Peter 5:5). He loves us so much that He’ll do whatever is possible to bring us closer to Him. I personally love that, because for the rest of eternity, I won’t go through hard times, at all. Surely, anything that brings us closer to God that we won’t experience for the majority of eternity is called for us to have joy in (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

We are somewhat saddened when someone we despise leaves our lives, knowing we will never see them again, so how much more should we be saddened when we leave this earth in which we are chastened to be brought closer to God, it’s a beautiful thing which we will never again experience. (See Cheating Heaven: https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/cheating-heaven/ )

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          Verses

James 1:2-4:My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Psalm 9:9:The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,” A refuge in times of trouble.

Proverbs 3:12: “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Romans 5:3-4: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

2 Corinthians 7:9-10: Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Are we called to look pretty and smell good?

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There has been an ongoing debate in my mind: is it better to look pretty and smell good, or do the very opposite? In the Bible, there are certainly people called to do both, however, the first disciples in the New Testament certainly smelled bad, looked bad, and didn’t get too much sleep. In the book of Ruth, Naomi tells Ruth to get all dressed up and smell good when she goes out to pick wheat so that a man will marry her-and it works! But we’re living in a New Testament world, right? And Jesus even rebukes the Pharisees for cleansing the outside of themselves without cleansing the inside. (Matthew 23:25-26)

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Awareness without conformity

Certainly, smelling bad, looking bad, and not staying up to date on fashion would be less worldly. However, in this increasingly worldly culture, that might be a bad idea. Obviously, not many of us want to be around someone that doesn’t shower, dress well, and look well, even if they are on fire for Christ. This is a grave misfortune, but it’s engrained in our culture’s minds.

We have to, therefore, look at the culture and be aware of it without being conformed to it (Romans 12:2) in order to reach more people in Christ’s name (1 Corinthians 9:20-23). Certainly, in our sinful nature, many of us don’t like to listen to people we can’t relate to. Therefore, it’s good to have a variety of people in the pulpit!(ie Fat, skinny, young, tall, short, and sports(and other hobbies) lovers)

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Natural or practical?

Sometimes, we have to make a choice: natural deodorant or regular(aluminum filled) deodorant? Aluminum filled is the only kind that smells good and supplies anti perspirent, a very vital protectant for some people with sweat glands that only exist in their arm pits… Based on research, we know that aluminum deodorant (ie most deodorants-anything anti perspirent) causes people to be more prone to breast cancer (slightly). Since I sweat up in there, I decided to go against what was ‘healthier’ for me so that I could relate and talk to people comfortably. Chances are I’m not gonna get breast cancer as a guy..especially since I eat healthy and exercise-which is most of the battle.

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Social Health > ‘Health’

Most assuredly, to an extent, social health is above other kinds of health-especially in a fellowship aspect! If you don’t feel comfortable around people (which is even more important in being a vessel for the Spirit to work through you than being diet/exercise healthy), it’s not worth it! (See blog post: https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/god-and-nutrition-pt-iii-what-god-can-do-what-we-can-do/ ) Certainly, Jesus wants our hearts to look pretty and smell good more than our outer self. (Matt 23:25-26)

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Verses

Romans 12:2

New King James Version (NKJV)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

1 Corinthians 9:20-23

New King James Version (NKJV)

20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law,[a] that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God,[b] but under law toward Christ[c]), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as[d] weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

The Value of Trash

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J:

Why do you cast away your trash but not your wallet? Is not your trash of more value than your wallet? Which when used often causes sin to fall upon you? Or to have previously fallen upon Him who died? 

C:

If Jesus said to cast a limb from ourselves if it keeps us from Heaven, much more should we take into account ‘casting away’ material things.(Matt 18:8-9)

J:

For the wallet is more than often used to distract from God and His will (Matt 7:21-23). It is an object that causes greed, which causes death (Proverbs 1:19).

Most assuredly, your wallet will not enter the kingdom of God, and since it will not enter, it will not want you to enter either lest its only companion is lost. (Matt 5:29-30)

C:

The solution? As a daily practice, we must use our wallet both cautiously and sparingly in order to glorify God and seek God’s will in how to use it. We must pray and seek God’s will, through His Word and Fellowship, upon how He wants us to use it, it is a difficult task, I can see why the group of disciples Jesus sent out were instructed to not carry a money bag. (Luke 10:4)

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Verses

2 Corinthians 4:18: “…we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10: He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.

Proverbs 1:19: So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.”

More on $ ( https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/if-i-had-a-million-dollars-i-wouldnt-be-satisfied/ )

Shifting Technology from a Burden to a Tool

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When Jesus said drop everything and follow Me, He said it for good reason (Matthew 19:20-26). Most of us get distracted from seeking the kingdom (Matthew 6:33) because of technology and the fact that we aren’t using it the right way.

Think about a friend who is texting you “How was you’re day?” or “What are you doing?” instead of calling you and figuring out the same answers and more in 2 minutes. Or playing words with friends or video games. If I do it, it’s filling in Jesus time.

I feel much more fulfilled after reading the Bible and talking with God than playing words with friends, surfing fb, or checking email fervently. Think about the amount of time that could be spent getting closer to God if we dropped our reliance of fulfillment from even one of those things: Video games, Words with Friends, Angry Birds, Facebook, etc.

Besides, those things are only fun in the moment. It’s like bacon, it’s good when you eat it, but it makes you feel bad afterwards. Don’t let the devil convince you otherwise (Matthew 16:23). Think about how Jesus diminished Peter’s pride to admonish him and to bring Peter closer to Him. (Mark 14:66-72) Then his mindset completely changed into one that was clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5-8), now that’s a salad. An eternal one 😉

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It’s not that we can’t have fun, but certain things (ie video games, books, and TV) are meaningless without some kind of community and are just making us more worldly (John 17:14) as we try to relate to those characters and the perception of how they find fulfillment-which is entirely inaccurate (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11). But during a board game or card game, you get to know a lot about real people. Social skills. We need those.

Playing online is all about the game and you are constantly engaged in the game, talking about it, and not talking about life. Besides, most people you will never meet in person.

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Now don’t get me wrong, many things tech-wise should be used for God’s glory, like blogging, Facebook posting, texting, and commenting to encourage and admonish each other to get closer to God (Colossians 1:28). But if we aren’t doing what we do tech-wise for the purpose of glorifying God, there’s really no point. If it’s not bringing us or our friends closer to God, it’s bringing them and us farther away and has therefore become a branch in which we step out on and don’t see God as well. (See https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/climbing-the-tree-of-life/ )

We must start ‘eating salads’ and start doing the things that seem boring in the moment but fulfill and satisfy us for the rest of the day, in the long run. (see https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/the-misconception-of-love-salad-bacon/ )

We often find that God blesses those moments and decisions of repentance into joy, though we may be blinded from that joy now or our mind so easily forgets about the joy He has given us before when we trust in Him alone. He wants us to be patient and trust in Him for that joy. (Psalm 40:1-4)