Working Together

We must trust and obey God.png

Jason and I enjoy watching the show, Food Network Star. For those of you who are not familiar with it, a group of chefs (some professional, some not) competes for the chance to gain their own show on the Food Network Channel. The challenges vary from week to week, but all of them include a cooking portion and a presenting portion where they tell others how to make their dish. It’s entertaining to watch the chefs grow in both their culinary skills and their presence in front of a camera or a live audience. Each week, the chef who performed the worst is eliminated, leaving the others to continue vying for the spot of the next Food Network star.

One of the most difficult challenges the contestants face is near the end when they’re down to just a handful of contestants. The eliminated chefs return, and some of them are partnered with the current contestants to act as their sous-chefs (basically, an assistant). On the surface, one would think this challenge would be easier than the others because the chefs have an extra set of hands to prepare their meals in the allotted time, but it all depends on the willingness of their sous-chef to trust and follow directions.

On one of the most recent episodes we watched, a Kentucky chef named Jason was one of the final contestants and was joined up with a former contestant who was a know-it-all. While the sous-chefs of the other contestants followed orders and trusted the instructions of their chefs, she questioned every order and often did as she thought best.  

At one point, the head chef instructed her to leave the sauce boiling until the flame disappeared (his sauce included a heavy dose of bourbon). Afraid of the flame, she kept saying, “I don’t think this is right. This doesn’t look right. I’m going to turn it down.” Each time, Jason, the head chef, assured her, “No, it’s fine. Just let it keep burning. It’ll be fine.” Despite his assurances, she fretted over the flame, and as soon as the head chef turned away, she mumbled, “This doesn’t look right. I’m turning it off.” And she did.

When the judges tasted Jason’s food, everything was wonderful except for one thing. Yup, the sauce. The bourbon hadn’t cooked down enough, and the sauce was too strong. In her failure to trust the head chef and follow his orders, the sous-chef nearly cost him the prize.

I think you probably already see where I’m going with this. How many times are we, like the sous-chef, unwilling to trust the Master because we don’t understand the plan? How often do we take matters into our own hands because things don’t look right to us? So many times, our doubts and uncertainties cause us to question the Lord’s instructions, and we decide we know better and do things our own way. And the result is often a catastrophe.

Funny enough, I found myself furious with that sous-chef. She should have listened to Jason. It was his dish, his recipe. He knew what he was doing. She should have trusted his judgment and obeyed his instructions. I was shouting at her, “Just leave it alone, and do what he said!” And then, I received a heavenly thump in the back of my head, and my outward criticisms turned to inward rebuke.

I should listen to the Lord. It’s His plan, His creation, and He knows what’s He’s doing. I need to trust His judgment and obey His instructions, even when I don’t understand. Especially when I don’t understand. Lord, help me!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Are We Ashamed of Christ?

I’m going to take a short break from our study on the negatives in the Bible.  We’ve covered about a dozen instances of the word, “nothing,” and when we come back to the study, we’ll be looking at the word, “never.”  In the meantime, I have a few other thoughts to share with you.


As Christians, we have the responsibilityto speak the truth in love..png

This morning, I listened to an interview with the rising Contemporary Christian singer, Lauren Daigle. Before I go any further, let me say I enjoy some Contemporary music, and until now, I appreciated many of the songs performed by Lauren. I wanted to make that clear, so no one misunderstood my intentions with this devotion. I am not condemning the music or the person, but I am very disappointed with Lauren’s response to a particular question.

The interviewer asked, “Do you think that homosexuality is a sin?” This was the perfect time to speak out for her faith and proclaim the Word of God, but instead, Daigle answered: “You know, I can’t honestly answer on that because there are too many people that I love who are homosexuals. I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God. So, when people ask questions like that, that’s what my go to is. Like, I just say, ‘Read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out, let me know because I’m learning too.'”

Seriously? I appreciate she recognizes that she’s not God and doesn’t have all the answers, and in a way, I respect how she pointed people to the Bible, but I have to say my respect and appreciation end there. If she can’t honestly answer whether homosexuality is a sin, she has not studied the Bible much. It’s so obvious! It’s right there in black and white. And with that single interview, my admiration for this talented singer is gone. How can I admire someone who won’t stand up for the very thing she sings about?

This topic has flooded social media, and the comments vary. Some, like me, are disappointed by how Daigle chose her fame over her faith. (She made her stand clear in the interview when discussing her recent appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. When the interviewer remarked on the possibility of saying “no” to the invitation because Ellen is an outspoken homosexual, Lauren Daigle replied, “And that would be a surefire way to end your career.” To me, she betrayed in that statement where her loyalties lie.) Anyway, others are defending her answer by justifying that if she stood up for what was right, she could ruin her career and then she wouldn’t have the opportunities she now has to reach people for Christ. Are you kidding me? How can she reach others for Christ if she’s not willing to stand for Him? And who in their right mind would honestly believe the Lord would condone such tactics?

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
— Mark 8:38

Friends, we, as Christians, need to find some balance. On the one hand, we shouldn’t shun the lost and refuse to interact with them. How will we reach them? Jesus regularly spent time with those who needed a Savior, and we should follow His lead. On the other hand, we shouldn’t water down our faith to make it more palatable for those around us. Jesus never did that. He spoke the truth, even when it hurt, and generally, those who were offended by it were the religious crowd (not saved, just religious). The Bible urges us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Don’t belittle or be cruel and unkind to those who are lost but don’t hide the truth either. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong, and it’s our responsibility to say so. Not because we are God but because we know what God has to say about sin. And if the Bible clearly says something is a sin, then we need to point that out.  

I can’t say how I would have answered the question had it been posed to me unexpectedly like that, but I hope I would say something like this: “You know, it really doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters is what God says, and He has made it clear in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. And if God says it’s a sin, then it must be because God doesn’t lie or make mistakes. I know that statement may offend some, but as a Christian, it is my responsibility to represent my Lord and Savior to the best of my ability no matter what it cost me.”

Oh, dear friends, we live in a wicked world, and it’s easy to go with the flow, but as Christians, that’s not what we’re supposed to do. We’ve been given the duty to stand up for Christ and His Word, but too many of us are falling down on the job. Let’s beware. 

I know this comes across as harsh, and I don’t mean for it to. Again, I am not condemning anyone. That’s not my place. That being said, I can be disappointed, and I am. My prayers are with Lauren Daigle. If she is saved, I hope the Lord will convict her heart and help her to see clearly what she claimed not to know. If she is not saved, I pray she will be soon. We all make mistakes, but we must guard against allowing fear of loss or rejection to make us ashamed of the One we claim to love.  Let’s allow this interview to be a reminder to us.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
— Romans 12:2

Who Is the Master?

Branches don't produce fruit;they only display it..jpg

Last night, Jason preached a compelling message on the fruit of the Spirit.  To be honest, he stomped on quite a few toes, mine included. (Sometimes, the truth hurts!)  What I found interesting is the particular fruit that seemed to really give me a hard time.  Yes, I had trouble with most of them, in that I am not bearing spiritual fruits as I should, but I was quite convicted by the fruit of temperance.

If you look up the word "temperance" in a regular dictionary, you'll find definitions such as "self-control," "abstinence" and "self-restraint."  And while those are all appropriate definitions of the word, there is one given in Strong's Concordance that truly made me pause and think.  That definition is "a mastery over one's desires and passions."  Ouch!  Yes, it's the same thing as self-control or self-restraint, but put into those specific words, I understand the term so much better.

A mastery over one's desires and passions.  That means saying "no" to the things that I want but that I know are not good for me.  That Pepsi that calls my name from the grocery store line.  The chocolate cakes that sings such sweet music to my ears.  The new gizmo I feel I can't live without.  That new project that I want to take on even though I know I don't have the time or other resources to do so.  The desire to sit on the couch and watch television instead of doing my workout.  Temperance means that I look each of these desires and passions straight in the face and say, "No, you are not good for me, so I will not give in to your temptations."

Unfortunately, I think these desires have more of a mastery over me than I do over them.  They call, and I come running.  They beckon, and I heed their voices.  They convince me of all they have to offer, and I shake off the moment of hesitation and dive into those dangerous waters.  And then, I regret it.  Can you relate?

The good news is that God is patient, and He is working in us to make us what we ought to be.  The bad news (or better news, depending on how you look at it) is that we cannot change our own spiritual fruit.  No matter how hard we try to "fix" ourselves, our fruit will remain the same because it is not "our" fruit.  It is the fruit of the Spirit, which means only He can produce that fruit in us.  Remember, He is the vine, and we are just the branches.  The branches don't produce the fruit; they only display it.  The production comes from the vine. 

At first, that may seem bad because we like to be in control, and if something needs to be fixed, we like to know that we can fix it.  But when you think about it, there's really nothing we can do to fix it, and Jesus says we don't have to.  He will do it for us.  All we have to do is abide in the vine.  Surrender everything to Him, including our desires and passions.  And in doing so, the fruit of the Spirit will blossom and grow, making it easier for us to stare temptation in the face and say, "No, thank you.  I don't need you!  I've found something better!"

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
— John 15:4-5