Friday, November 6, 2009

Soul Food

I have a girlfriend named Lori who makes the best baked macaroni and cheese in the world. I mean it…in the WORLD. It’s just downright sinful, it’s so good. And she will be the first one to tell you that it’s pretty indulgent. We're talking butter, real cream, 3 or 4 different kinds of cheese, home made croutons (made by soaking the bread in butter, toasting it and tossing it into the mix)…it’s just incredible.

And while I’ll mow it down just as quickly as you can blink…I’m feeling it later. Feeling it travel slowly through my body…depositing fat on my hips, arms, thighs…you get the picture. I always think it’s worth it while I’m eating it. The next day…I’m not so sure.

And you know where I really get in trouble? With the leftovers! One serving wouldn’t be such a big deal, but once I’ve had it, I want it again. So I’ll maybe have a bowl for lunch the next day, a little for a snack later on, and before you know it, it’s gone. And I have to run a few extra miles to compensate.

I’ve noticed a pattern with myself. If I don’t eat the macaroni and cheese, I don’t really crave it. And I do the same thing when it comes to what I feed my brain. Here’s a confession for you, and I’m not proud of it. I tivo “The Hills” on MTV. I know, I know. A married mother of two, sings in church, writes a Christian blog, and all the while I’m cramming my brain full of smut tv! I never said I was perfect. For anyone who shares in my guilty pleasure, I even watched some of last season’s episodes more than once (hey, it was Lauren’s last season). I haven’t really been quite as into it this season (with Kristen), but you’d still find it on my DVR if you went looking.

Something happened over the summer, when all the good tv shows took their sabbatical. I had nothing to watch. So I started to read the bible more. And more. And then I started to journal about what I was reading. And then I started to blog about it. And amazingly, I have started to see God work in my life like never before.

Because as cliché as it sounds, we are what we eat. If we’re stuffing ourselves full of Lori’s fabulous mac and cheese on a daily basis, our thighs are going to get bigger! If all we do is read TMZ, watch E! Online and flip through Us Weekly, our brains are going to get mushy! And our lives are going to reflect it.

God talks about this in Isaiah 55…it’s a great passage…and we’re going to break it down. Here we go…

Isaiah 55:1-2 – “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink – even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk – it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!”

Any athlete on the planet will tell you that a diet of Lori’s baked macaroni greatness would be terrible for performance. I run, and I can tell you that if you want to see your speed pick up and your endurance increase, you need to put yourself on a diet of lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and good healthy grains.

Likewise, if you are trying to better your relationship with God, you need a steady diet of prayer, worship and scripture. So let’s move on…it only gets better!

“Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!” I love it when God uses exclamation points; it shows that He is very eager…He feels very adamant about soul food. So where do we get it? Let’s take a look at the very next verse…

Isaiah 55: 3 – “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised to David.”

No exclamation point here. I can almost see God looking into our eyes; hear Him lowering His voice to emphasize His point. “Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake.” That is serious. Now we’re talking about eternity. God wants us to come to Him with our ears wide open. Not like when we come to church on Sunday morning…looking all prayerful and holy…but really thinking about what we’re going to make for dinner. God wants us to come to Him undistracted, and ready to receive His message. Then He will give us all the mercies and unfailing love that He promised David.

And that is where things start to pick up. When you get to a place where you are listening to God, and studying His word…get ready to be blessed. Get ready…to be transformed.

Isaiah 55:4-5 – “He (David) displayed my power by being my witness and a leader among the nations. You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”

Those words are rich with the promise of the Lord. The Lord’s promise to YOU. God already told us in verse 3 that He will give us all the mercies and unfailing love that He gave to David. Now, He tells us He will give us power, too.

When you witness to the Lord, there is power in that. And God’s power will make you a leader of nations. Stay with me, here. You may not be the president of the United States, or even of your home owner’s association. But if you live your life as a witness to the Lord, people will be drawn to you. Your “nations” are your circle of influence. We each have one. If you are a parent, your children are in your circle of influence. Your co-workers are, too. Are you in a Bunco group? That counts. Anytime you are with people that could be influenced by the way you act or what you say, you are operating inside of your circle of influence. And God will make you a leader.

Some people may shy away from this, but it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. To be an effective witness, you don’t need to stand on a street corner waving your bible and screaming out scripture. That is not a very effective way to bring people to Christ. That is a very effective way to get people to think you have a screw loose. Your greatest testimony comes from your life.
God has recently called me to give something up. I’m not ready to blog about it, but I will be more than happy to tell you what it is in person if we run into each other.

The thing I gave up wasn’t illegal, and not even necessarily sinful, but it was getting in the way of my witness. It was interfering with my testimony. God wants to use each of us, but in order to do that, we have to live a life that He can bless. And to do that…we have to be on a steady diet of good, healthy soul food.

Watching The Hills isn’t a sin. Neither is eating a big, healthy dose of Lori’s mac and cheese. But when that’s all you’re feeding your brain, or your stomach, you start to get soft (literally and figuratively).

On The Hills, the girls get into cat fights, they steal each other’s boyfriends, and they’re out clubbing almost every night. The norm is to party and get drunk, to hold loose moral standards. And you know what? That’s tempting stuff. That is tantalizing television. And pretty soon you’re watching more of it. Hollywood preaches the exact opposite of the gospel. Sex before marriage is expected, affairs just happen, the skinnier you are, the better, and the younger you look the more you’re worth. If your jeans aren’t “this” brand…if you don’t carry “that” phone…or drive “that” car, you aren’t good enough. Funny, though. The people you see plastered across the magazine covers don’t seem all that happy, do they? They need a good, home cooked meal. A hearty dose of soul food.

Isaiah 44:1-4 – “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel, my chosen one. The LORD who made you and helps you says: O Jacob, my servant, do not be afraid. O Israel, my chosen one, do not fear. For I will give you abundant water to quench your thirst and to moisten your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit and my blessings on your children. “

Do you see how God is pleading with us? Just exactly the same way that I plead with my son to eat his peas. Because they’re good for him. And God’s Word is not just good for us…it’s essential.

David wrote about it in the most well known psalm of all…Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings."

God is extending you a dinner invitation. Will you accept?

No comments:

Post a Comment