The Right Way To Eat Pizza (not just about pizza)

Everybody knows the right way to eat pizza.

pizza

Pepperoni with parmesan.

The first bite is out of the side by the crust, right?

No.  The first bite is the pointed part, of course.

Why do we think this?  Because it’s how it’s “supposed” to look?

Or is it better as a supreme pizza with meats and vegetables?

Extra cheese.

Only cheese.

Two pieces together.

Or just folded in half.

With ranch dressing?

Or pizza with ham and pineapple.

Or what about an all vegetable pizza?

What about 3 day old pizza on the desk in your dorm room?  Perfect!  Right?

Pizza is a serious thing and people get kinda passionate about the right way to enjoy it.

Maybe NOT having pizza is the right answer.

The thing is – none of these are wrong and none are right.

They are just different.

Mission work is the same way.

When we do work for the Lord, haters, skeptics, and critics come out of nowhere.

When we start telling people we feel God is calling us to do a specific work, we hear more, “You’re doing it wrong,” than anything else.

Maybe it’s not wrong at all.  Maybe just different than someone else thinks it “should” look.

When we ask God what HE wants us to do instead of doing what WE would like to do every day, life begins to look different, WE begin to live differently, and spiritual warfare happens more than usual yet peace is more apparent at the same time.

When you stop looking around at other people, and you start looking UP to God and asking His direction, that’s when most amazing things start happening.

I pray for peace for people reading this and for all people to find God’s plan for their lives because He has one for each of us.

~~~>  When people are focused on what God’s planned for their own lives, there won’t be time to be upset about the jobs God’s got others doing or upset about the way He’s showing them to do the jobs.  <~~~

Some people believe you must do mighty things to actually get visible results. But God’s got this. He once had people march around a city and the walls fell down. Can you imagine the things that were said to them and about them and the way people mocked their faith? March around a city? Blow horns? What?! Such nonsense, right?

But the walls fell all the same.

Obedience matters.

~~~>  Sometimes God said things that really seem strange. “Cast your nets on the other side.”

What??

Does God not realize how completely silly that sounds to human ears? (I’m sure He does.)

I mean, when you think about it, the water underneath the boat was all the same water, right?  <~~~

But He said to obey and when they did, the nets were full of fish.

It is about obedience to His Calling even when it looks silly to other people.

For our family, we believe God is calling our family to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen center.  Unless you have walked in our shoes, you wouldn’t understand how this fits every experience and test God’s put us through.

Some say, “God doesn’t lead us like that today.”

No?

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, right?
So since He’s the same…
He led people before the Bible was written, right?
And we know He led people during Bible times.
And He leads us now.

And how does that look for each of us?  I believe it may look just as different as each example in the Bible.  It looks as different as each “right” way to eat pizza.  What if all the ways are right enough?  When we look at the Bible examples, there are so many ways God led and so many different jobs He gave people.

God leads our steps when we ask Him to – and I’ve noticed over time that He was leading me EVEN when I wasn’t paying as much attention to my life. That’s pretty cool to think about.  My past is messy (just like many others’ lives are messy.)  And IF my life and past did nothing but bring me to spend the rest of it speaking blessings over people and telling you that YOU MATTER, all the junk I’ve been through was worth it to get to this place.

You are SO valuable. And if you forget, ask me and I will remind you a thousand more times. You are worth something. Maybe someone didn’t notice this about you. That’s unfortunate. Your life matters and your story matters.

It is so great that we each have different ways of learning, living, speaking, listening, different talents, and different ideas. What a boring world it could be if we were all exactly the same.

Sometimes when we do work for God, I have to wonder if He sees it as we do when our children do jobs we ask them to do.

Example:  Your young child washes a window.  She’s proud of the work she did.  You see the effort and also the places of the window she missed.  You’re still proud of her for trying.  You (hopefully) do not tell her what an awful job she did but instead, praise her and also help teach her gently how to do a better job as she tries next time and the next.

When we do work for God, we are proud of the work we did (sometimes a bit TOO proud and forget to thank and honor Him for the talents to do the jobs in the first place) and I’m sure God sees all the spots we missed.

He’s STILL proud of us for trying.

Ask God what HE wants you to do.  Try this for a month.  Follow the tugs on your heart and see how He will show you His plan for you.

[Note:  Our family would love to hear how God’s using your life and story.]

[Another Important note:  We would love to hear about the right way to order and eat pizza, too.]

 

 

 

 

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It Will Cripple You. It Is A Trap. (Pornography and stuff like that)

If we see someone playing in the street who may not realize the dangers and we don’t run to him to warn him, are we part of the problem?

“Well, yes, we know he’ll be crippled by this but since he didn’t ASK for help, we didn’t help.”

What kind of logic is that?

Some say, “People already hear too much of what the church is against and not enough about what we are FOR.”

Okay that’s true.  And let’s do a better job at that.

So let’s say it THIS way:  CHRISTIANS are FOR good, healthy, yummy, fun sex.  God is the one who created sex and He made this to be a good part of marriage between a man and a woman.  Like many other things, we humans sometimes mess good things up.

When we see someone walking into a trap or a street full of cars that we know will cripple him (or worse) for maybe the rest of his life and we don’t do anything, are we at fault at all?

There is a movie people are talking about seeing that we KNOW will cause more damage to people’s views about sex, life, and relationships.  Actually there are MANY movies and tv shows that are “programming” us to view life a certain way and we have to keep speaking out by saying it’s just not okay, NOT spend money to support or promote this so-called “entertainment,” and help each other avoid traps that satan sets for us.

Since You [Lord] are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your Name lead and guide me.  Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for You are my refuge.  Psalm 31:4

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

The movie (MANY movies, tv shows, advertisements, magazines, books, etc.) turns something God made that was and IS good – in fact, VERY good – into something that is ugly and depraved.  (And this is not limited to sex but it definitely includes sex.)

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.  Genesis 1:31

When we promote or watch junk that fills our minds with things that are not good, isn’t that part of the problem?

We cannot UNsee stuff.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

Is it that we don’t want to bother anyone because we sometimes feel like it’s none of our business and because it will make someone mad and we’re supposed to be peace “keepers?”  Actually the Bible says peace MAKERS.

Blessed are the peaceMAKERS, for they will be called children of God.  Matthew 5:9

What will make you stand up for good?  What is the right thing to do?

The good news is that we do not have to be fighting battles alone.  God is our ever-present help in trouble.  (And God has already won the war.  We know that satan and evil lose.)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1

EVERY one will answer to God.

EVERY knee shall bow to Jesus.

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'”  Philippians 2:10

This “every knee” includes each person in the “entertainment” industry, each of the leaders of the whole world and people who create, promote, and consume stuff we’ve become numb to and call “entertainment.”

~~>  And this includes you and me.  <~~

Absolutely, as Christians, we DO want to tell the world what we are FOR – and we are FOR GOOD SEX.  Sex, the way God designed it, was and is GOOD.

When we see a trap and do nothing, isn’t NOT saying something making us part of the problem?

 

[It may not be common knowledge that Christians are FOR good, yummy, healthy, wild, incredible, exciting, crazy, fun sex!  As long as you both consent and it’s ONLY you, your spouse, and God, and there is never another person or any other living, breathing anything* involved in any way, then pretty much your imagination is the only limit.  (*No person or anything living or dead… although it seems that wouldn’t need to be said… there are some who aren’t sure of this so it’s included here.)]

What Does it Mean to Walk by Faith? ~Guest Post by Dena Johnson

[This article first appeared on crosswalk.com here: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-it-mean-to-walk-by-faith.html August 14, 2014. Guest Post by Dena Johnson.]
 –

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Those words seem simple enough.

However, I am learning that fleshing out those words, that simple concept, can be a much tougher assignment. It requires tremendous courage and strength. You must be willing to be misunderstood and even abandoned. You must be willing to give up any semblance of control of your life that you thought you might have. You must be willing to look like a complete fool.

But, it is a journey of tremendous blessing and reward. It is a journey that is exciting, life-altering, and mind-boggling. It is a journey that will allow you to see and experience God as he was meant to be: in all his fullness and grace.

Walking by faith and not by sight requires you to go to a place you do not know, one that God will reveal as you walk in obedience. Just look to Abraham as an example (Genesis 12:1).

Walking by faith means that you continue to cling to the dreams God has planted in your heart, even when you’ve been thrown away, taken to prison for crimes you didn’t commit. Just look at all Joseph endured (Genesis 37-50).

Walking by faith requires a strong determination to follow God’s plan regardless what life throws your way. Look to Daniel to discover how to have the resolve not to sin (Daniel 1:8).

Walking by faith means you have the courage to stand up for the hurting, broken, and down-trodden, to face death yourself for the good of others. Look at Esther and how she risked the death penalty to save the Jews (Esther).

You just may have to play the part of a fool. Think about Noah building an ark for a flood when it had never even rained on earth. Think about Abraham clinging to the promise that he would be the father of many nations even though he was childless at the age of 100. Think about Moses standing before the Israelites in the wilderness telling them they would eat meat until it disgusted them but having no idea where that meat would come from. Think about Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho as God had told him to and wondering what good it was going to do.

If you choose this path, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone, to run from the Americanized brand of Christianity that so many of us have known our entire lives. You must be willing to let God take your world and turn it upside down, shake it up, and start all over again. You must be willing to let God out of the neat little box that you have put him in, to let him show up as he sees fit.

Maybe it will be a calling to do something you never dreamed before: foster or adopt children, leave your job and become a missionary, trade in the worldly comforts for heavenly treasures.

Maybe it won’t be that clean and neat and socially acceptable. Maybe, like me, your world will be turned upside down by the pain of adultery and divorce. Or, maybe you will be faced with infertility or addiction. Maybe you will have a prodigal child that completely changes the direction of your life. Or, maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a child—a hurt like no other.

I don’t know what your shake up might look like, but I know that if you will give it to God—throw up your arms in surrender and ask him to use it to change your life—he will honor your request. He will take you on a journey, teach you to walk by faith, entrust you with some of life’s most treasured moments.

He will build a faith in you—faith that moves mountains and moves God’s hands. He will teach you to live this life with abandonment, giving you a freedom to walk in all his fullness and grace. He will prepare you to be used mightily in this life for his glory.

Perhaps you’ve already experienced your life being turned upside down, toppled without any control. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found yourself wandering in the wilderness, watching his fire direct your every step by night, a cloud lead you by day. Perhaps you sense you are on the edge of the Promised Land, just waiting for him to give the command to take possession.

And yet, you are tired and weary. You’ve lost friends who don’t understand how you can continue to cling to a promise that is so obviously dead and gone. You are so close and yet feel so far away. You are struggling with temptations to just settle, even though you know it is less than God’s best. You simply don’t know how much longer you can stand.

You are not alone. I see God raising up a remnant of believers, those he knows will be obedient. He is looking for those with clean hands and a pure heart, those who will choose obedience even if it costs them everything this world has to offer. He is looking for those who will throw caution to the wind, believe that he has an abundant life (John 10:10) waiting if we will follow his ways. He is looking for those whose hearts have been purified, whose faith has been strengthened by the trials of this life (James 1:2). He is looking for those who will cling to his promises even when it seems there is no hope.

Be strong and courageous, my friends!

God has specifically chosen you to be a part of this remnant, those who will allow him to take their lives and mold them into what he wants. He has chosen you to have your faith tested and tried, and he promises that the fire will only purify you—not burn you. He has promised that he will be with you every single step, walking with you, carrying you, supporting you. He promises that he is still in control even when life seems to be spiraling wildly out of control.

He is teaching you to trust him so he can do something bigger and better than you ever dreamed possible (Ephesians 3:20-22). He is teaching you to let go and trust him with your heart, your soul, your life (Proverbs 3:5-6). He is teaching you to walk every single day in the spirit so that he can do even greater works in you and through you (John 14:12). He is preparing you to be a beacon of light and hope to a world which desperately needs to see Jesus.

I don’t know where you are on this journey of walking by faith, but I encourage you—beg you, plead with you—to wave the white flag of surrender. Let God take your life, your pain, your loss and use it for his glory. Ask him to do an amazing work in you so he can do an amazing work through you.

Get out of that boat and step onto the water…and never take your eyes off him. It is a decision you will never regret!

Thank you, Dena Johnson, for these incredible and powerful words.  Thank you for your permission to share this encouragement.  You know I needed it.  May this bless thousands of lives!

“One thing I like about you is…”

Relationships are important.

A marriage relationship is important and tough (probably tougher than any other relationship ever in the whole world, in my opinion) and totally worth the work.

I’m always looking for simple ways to help relationships be as close and as healthy as they can be.  My husband and I have just started doing a few new things for our marriage and we’re noticing this one could be helpful in possibly any relationship.

Here is one experiment we’ve just started a couple weeks ago (and we’re both loving it!)

Every morning we have decided to say (out loud to each other) something good we have noticed or something good that we like about each other.

“One thing I like about you is _____________.”

We get too busy in life sometimes, ya know?  With work, school, church, kids, housework, bills, finances, volunteering, rough times, health problems, and a billion more things we can forget to nurture important foundations and critical relationships.  It’s not that we mean to; but it’s just that life happens and sometimes we let moments go by that need attention.

(Sweet note: The look on my husband’s face as he speaks is so beautiful and something that’s been hiding for a little while.  It’s really nice to see the thought behind his words as he says something kind about me and to me.  Sometimes he’s just remembering good things from the past and those are good to hear also.  I can’t help but think he may be feeling the same way as he hears me speak good things about him, too.  It’s heart-healing.)

This is proving to be a great idea.

One thing it does is it helps us THINK about the positive things during each day (and night) because we know we need to tell each other something we like about each other every day.

(And the negative stuff seems to constantly already be lurking around and threatens to remind us of things we DON’T like about each other… Not sure about you but we’ve had ENOUGH of that!)

Another important result of this experiment is that we’re BOTH getting to HEAR some positive words in the morning.  (Yes, it must be genuine and yes it can be something from the past or present.  Actually, it could even be something positive we see in the future.  Getting to hear blessings spoken over you is powerful.)

Our kids just told us they’d like to be included in this in the evenings.  Good stuff can be contagious!

We ALL probably hear WAY too much negative stuff about ourselves (even from our own thoughts) and this is damaging to our brains, hearts, self esteem, and probably in a hundred other ways I’m not thinking to mention.

If you have a great marriage, that’s wonderful!  Maybe this can just be icing.  (And maybe you’re already doing this.)  But many of us have a tougher time in marriage and my husband and I know this can help lots of people so we wanted to share this idea.

I believe absolutely EVERY person could benefit from hearing something good every day that someone notices about him or her.

Here’s one from me to you today:  One thing I like about you (yes, you) is that you’re beginning to realize your value; you’re a very worthwhile person and you matter.