Follow the Recipe: Dangers in trusting yourself.

I love spices. Years ago, I experimented around with spices and created a pizza sauce based loosely on my grandma’s rich spaghetti sauce. I don’t make it often. Each year, before the last performance of our school play, I make the cast and crew pizzas using this rather intense pizza sauce. Many students have told me they like it and the director has told me it’s almost too spicy.

But a very weird thing happened this year, I got a head cold or allergies or something. I’m not a doctor, but I know I have not been that congested in a long time. So, I pull open the drawer and use the recipe to make the sauce. I let it simmer a bit and then I taste it. To my horror, it tasted horrible—barely different from straight tomato sauce. What am I going to do?

I’ll be honest. It didn’t occur to me right away that I might be the problem and half of a tablespoon of Italian spices went in before I thought it through. But then it occurred to me, I knew I followed the recipe. I had carefully put in all the parts and it should have worked. Then I remembered the fact that I had so little ability to smell.

I tested it by eating straight garlic powder. Nothing, well, not much anyway. I was obviously impaired. I could trust one of two things but not both. I could trust my own senses or I could trust the recipe.

I’d like to say that it was an easy choice. But it wasn’t. I obviously knew that I couldn’t trust my own senses, but I tasted it a couple more times anyway. Nothing-bland tomato sauce. But I could smell the spices; I knew I had followed that recipe. I was hesitant all the way up to when I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to make the pizzas.

The recipe was right.

Later, I received a compliment from my picky nephew. It was the best pizza he had ever had. His dad verified that he had eaten three slices. The lesson that I could learn from this was not lost on me.

The Bible clearly tells us that we can’t trust ourselves. Proverbs 3:5-7 tells to instead trust God, not our own mind or perception. In other words, our hearts and minds are fouled up, like my congested nose. I couldn’t taste the spices I put in my sauce; I also can’t trust my own mind and heart to come up with what is truly right. I have to trust the recipe for my sauce and for my life.

The Bible bursts with warnings against what I call the biggest lie of Hollywood— “Follow your heart.” If I had made my sauce spicy to my own senses it would have truly been inedible. If I follow my own heart, I will do what is wicked-what will hurt me and the people around me.

As odd as comparing pizza sauce to scripture is, God taught me that I have to trust Him and His Word even when it doesn’t make sense to my senses. After all, I am a sinner, my senses are messed up. However, the recipe is perfect.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

This week, at the library, I was confronted with a rather interesting question by some bleeding heart’s bumper sticker. It asked “Who would Jesus bomb?” I got the feeling that this person would say “no one” but I don’t agree. Not that my opinion is anymore valid than that of the average bumper sticker owner’s opinion. It isn’t a matter of opinion, but the facts of the Bible.
First of all the Bible is clear, Jesus and God are not “respecters of persons.” (Acts 10:35, Ro. 2:11, 1 Peter 1:17) They do not have favorites but treat everyone justly. Even God’s chosen people the Jews weren’t exempt from God’s judgment. He brought the Assyrians and Babylonians against them—they were destroyed with severe judgment.
Of course, if a person’s view of Jesus is a pusillanimous, pacifistic sentimentalist then this news of Jesus’ totally righteous judgment is shocking. They will bring up their “go to” complaint that “A loving God would never…”
However, the Bible is also clear about judgment. God and Jesus are not going to let anyone get away with anything! Jesus, in Luke 13, talking about some violent deaths that had shocked the community, said that unless we repent, we will all perish. The fact that repentance is available is proof of Jesus’ love, but the fact of judgment proves His holiness. In Revelation, Jesus is the one that will destroy the nations with the “sword from His mouth.” (Rev. 19) The people in the tribulation are fleeing for their lives from the “wrath of the Lamb.” (Rev. 16:6) Jesus will judge. Jesus will punish. Jesus will kill. His judgment will be so terrible that the people of earth will wish He would only bomb them.
Let us never forget that Jesus Christ is not only loving and merciful, but also just and holy. The answer to the bumper sticker’s question is scarily enough “EVERYONE WHO DOESN’T REPENT.” Flee the wrath to come, run to Jesus, repent, be made new; or, friend, there is a bomb in heaven waiting to bomb you.

Virga Christianity

I love the Southwest. Here God has created some of the greatest sky-scapes on earth. One of the more interesting things that shows up in the American Southwestern sky is the phenomenon of virga—visible rain coming down from the clouds but which evaporates before it hits the ground. It is quite odd to watch rain fall from clouds only to stop a few hundred feet above the ground. Although pretty and almost identical to rain—virga is completely useless to the parched sun-drenched desert below.
Recently in a trip from Albuquerque to Arizona-winding through the mountains of the border between Arizona and New Mexico—I was under one of the largest and driest rain storms I’ve ever witnessed. For hours the virga was falling in waves. Meanwhile the parched desert highlands continued unaided by the massive amounts of falling moisture.
I imagine the rain all ready up in the clouds was all excited about its several mile plunge to help the dry land below. “Cannon Ball!” it yells, falling all that distance, then it hits the desert’s hard hot air. “I’m not going to put up with this,” it screams, and hightails it back up to the cool clouds.
Christianity is inundated with the virga crowd. In fact, a great deal of our modern Christianity is only virga. They cheer with enthusiasm, put fish stickers on their cars, and let it be well known that they attend church. They sing loudly and with great emotion. If challenged, they would be insulted beyond measure that their Christianity is in anyway less that anyone else’s. They just have a different style and are quick to point out that no one should ever judge them. (Which is decidedly unbiblical but that is not the point of this discussion. We’ll deal with that later.) The real difference is when it comes to doing.
Virga Christians are not less enthusiastic—usually they are more so—they are not less sincere either, even though sincerity is not the glowing virtue some make it out to be. The problem is that when it comes to the hard day-in day-out living of the Christian life, they quit. It’s all well and good to sing in church and maybe even give a few dollars, but if they were told they needed to actually live a vibrantly moral life or tithe, they fizzle up under the pressure and back up into the clouds they go.
C. S. Lewis in Screwtape’s letters talks this change between doing and dreaming. He states that there is disappointment that marks the beginning of every human endeavor and is the transition from dreaming aspiration into laborious doing. That is the dry air that evaporates away the spiritual usefulness of most of the church. They can’t handle the hardship that comes from a lack of ease and fulfilled expectation.
A person quits when he realizes that working with the children’s ministry is not talking to the dozens of well-mannered attentive angels that come to the church at the ages of 4-10, but is actually the dealing with misbehaving, squirming, petty, real children that need spiritual, social, mental, and sometimes even hygienically based guidance. His imaginary view is crushed under the pressure of reality, and the person’s spirituality is dry and dusty under the never-ending storm clouds of his apathetic virga.
If a person never does the things that are right, then it does them and those around them no good that they know about them. Jesus warned against this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said that a foolish person hears what He has to say and doesn’t do it. No amount of singing praise songs will save one from destruction if they ignore the actual doing commanded in the Bible.
Some people are in churches that actually avoid dealing with the issue of Spiritual doing—mainly because these churches were built by offering a pseudo-spirituality that requires nothing or less from the people. Without the spiritual exercise of doing the spiritual life dries into a harsh forbidding desert and through the spiritual drought the mental, physical, and moral life of the person starts to die.
This allows the rather depressing statistics of the world and the church having the same or nearly the same rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, drug use and other sins. Since Christians by and large aren’t overcoming the resistance built into doing, they lack a really Christian life, with its convictions, holiness, righteousness, and, most importantly, victory.
God didn’t intend that His people slog through life as the victims of poor circumstance. The Bible tells us that we are more than conquerors, but living virga lifestyle destroys that possibility. Doing, not dreaming( no matter how enthusiastic the dreams), is what will make a real difference in the lives of the Christian. It is a lack of faith to call oneself a Christian and not live and do the precepts of the Bible.
On my trip through the virga rainstorm, I ran into a small patch of real rain. It was a mere drizzle, but it was rain. That rain overcame the resistance of the dry air and made it all the way to the ground—and it made a difference in the dry landscape. All the virga didn’t, but those few drops did. Christian, you can overcome the dryness that accompanies doing and you’ll make a difference doing so.
Mat 7:24-25 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not:
for it was founded upon a rock

A Government Unconcerned About the People

Obamacare is being a hot topic of debate. Despite massive problems in a huge bill that will redefine America, lawmakers are plowing ahead. How? Are they stupid? NO, they are buying votes. Senators are being given special favors to vote for Obamacare. Nebraska’s senator got that state exempted from paying increased Medicare taxes by holding out until the deadline. The Democrats in Congress were more than happy to bail out one state out of fifty so that this totally new legislation causing the government to start competing against current health care providers can be passed. Freedom, American freedom, is being trampled underfoot as the current house and senate try their dead level best to change our society to a humanist socialistic one. 

Why should taxpayers pay for everyone else to have insurance? They don’t answer that. Why can’t we pursue legitimate health care reform-fixing the current system? They don’t answer that either. We have a problem, and it has been ignored for years, like the cheap loans problem that spurred the current economic problems. Our health care system needs some checks and balances, but why is the federal government trying to replace it with itself. It’s just another nail in the coffin of American freedom and another huge win for big government. And if they have to buy votes from senators with special treatment, so be it. If they have to lie, slander, bribe, threaten, or cajole they’ll do that too.

And when they come gunning for a freedom you hold dear, they’ll do the same thing. Pray that our current rulers learn to emulate our founding fathers and not Big Brother from 1984.

Of course, no answers are available through Washington. They are proving beyond reasonable doubt that they don’t have the moral fortitude to do what is right. Pray people, the God of heaven rules on earth; He can solve all problems and He doesn’t need to bribe people for their votes.

The Land on a Blade

I keep hearing everyone quote Alexander Tyler, a history professor in 1787. He said, “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury…. Every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.” Isn’t that great? We are a land that is poised on the edge of blade of democracy and rapidly tilting into the quagmire of dictatorship. That’s certainly an optimistic outlook.
It’s not like that whole idea is even wrong. Our tax code is designed to keep people from achieving wealth. Those who work hard and try to better themselves are rewarded with higher taxes; while the government pays people to be leeches on society’s backside. If our society is to be unbiased and fair to all, then a progressive tax code has to go. But that is not how it works. Our government makes decisions by coercion and bribe. You give me x I give you y. It’s doesn’t matter that x and y are bad for 99.9% of Americans, I want x and you want y and we have power. It’s not like a rant on the Internet is going to do anything about it, but I would love to see a flat tax in our country. I would also love to see special interests groups have enough decency to be interested in those outside of their interest.

I guess basically I would like to see our world take the moral high road. I would love to see responsibilities taken seriously, and moral deficits considered worse than fashion deficits. But there is a major problem with that. I don’t think our society can have the morals of Christianity without the Christianity. Christian has nearly become a meaningless word like nice or cool. It has been reduced to the point where it means that the person talking thinks what they say is good. People that wouldn’t know a Bible verse from a hole in their head are saying some idea is “Christian” or that someone is a good “Christian.” Ick!

Self-sacrifice, putting others before self, and doing what is right despite the cost cannot and will not happen in a society that rejects God and rejects Biblical Christianity. Yeah, Tyler might be right. We may be a few years from dictatorship in this country. So what should we do? Simple, same thing God has told us was our job was back when Christianity was under a dictator.  ” Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” It is the power of the gospel working in the hearts of man that will truely change our society. Maybe we should petition the government for that. We could get a special interest group and have rallies.

No. That would be interesting, but that it’s not the method God gave us to reach this world. We have the awesome tool of preaching which means telling people. So let’s change America, tell your neighbor about Jesus and proclaim the truth into a dark world.  Long live that REVOLUTION!