Nourishing Passions

Dumb Sheep

“Seeing the people, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

Sheep Over 200 times in scripture are God’s people referred to as “sheep” of which Christ is the Chief Shepherd (1 Pe 5:4) …..which is sweet. He sort of sees us as these cute little snuggle buddies he likes to hang out with out in his beautiful pastureland. Or not. As it turns out, sheep aren’t that bright. As it turns out, they have a poor sense of direction, wandering about aimlessly and purposely, and will even follow one another off cliffs to their death. How accurately does this describe most of our lives!…much more than cute & snuggly. How fickle we are, going about our daily tasks-work, errands, chores… only to indulge in hobbies, vacations, and relationships which will never bring true satisfaction. We wander from one supposed thrill to the next passively succumbing to anything and everything our culture tells us—embracing that which suits us (2 Ti 4:3) and ignoring that which we don’t like. And yet, the ignorance, passivity, and irrational wandering which would so easily annoy and frustrate any one of us, seems rather strangely to cultivate compassion in Jesus. I wonder how often I look upon the lost souls of this world as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36).” I wonder how often it is that people are simply walking around in either pure oblivion to the reality of spiritual warfare waging against them (2 Co 4:4), oppressed or neglected by overbearing or careless authorities (Eze 34:2-5), or deceived by idols which cannot save (Jer 16:20). The Lord casts off goats (Mt 25:32) and warns of wolves (Mt 7:15 Acts 20:29) which will both stand condemned to eternal separation from him, but how does he treat his sheep? How does he approach those of little faith, of little understanding…..those dull in heart and prone to wander? Those confused and lost creatures, if left to their own devices would quickly perish?

“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” (Jer 34:11-16)

Jesus is both fierce and gentle (Luke 15:5) in his pursuit of his sheep. I wonder how many people we see throughout the day, simply going about life, clothed in discontent, confused and bewildered and discouragingly conclude–they just don’t get it…and implicitly, they never will. Such was never Jesus attitude! He proactively sought out his own at the expense of his comfort, his reputation, his safety knowing that his father’s arm was not too short to save (Isa 59:1). Who is beyond God’s power to rescue? Jesus clearly answers, “no one is able to snatch them out of the father’s hand.” (John 10:29) As we do not, and will not ever know just who belongs to him in this life, we are to be always hopeful, always prayerful, always pursuing everyone made in his image longing that they might share in our joy and peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). Sheep may be dumb, but it turns out they are also relational in that they “possess a sharp sense of individuality and can recognize the faces of at least 10 people and 50 other sheep and like humans,” and “prefer a smile to a grimace.” And while it is baffling to think that the Lord of all Creation would want anything to do with ignorant, stubborn, and rebellious people who continually wander off into trouble, he does. He longs for us (Deut 5:29) and has put it into us to long for him (Ps 27:8). And not only so, but he rejoices and calls all of heaven and earth to do the same, each and every time a lost sheep has been redeemed (Luke 15:6-7). And this is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14) we get to follow.

“Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. If left to themselves, they will follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes; pollute their own ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites.” –Phillip Keller

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The Grace of Suffering

Do not be surprised, dear friends, at the painful trials you are now enduring as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12

The Grace of Suffering Nourishing Passions

It’s always seemed to me that there is something inherently wrong with pain, with suffering, with hardship. There is something deeply disturbing about looking into the hurting eyes of brokenness, betrayal, and distress. Seeing someone cry to this day elicits a deep uneasy feeling in my gut compelling me to do anything and everything in my power to just make it stop. Historically it has played out in the form of ice cream, empty assurances that “it will be ok” [whatever that means] and an attempt to practically resolve the matter. Unfortunately none of these were sustainable solutions: ice cream just masked the problems, verbal assurances (based on emotions, not truth) had no foundation, and practical solutions were temporary at best. I found myself incapable of doing what only God, himself can do. I tried harder and harder in so many ways to resolve the pain and suffering I experienced in my own live and saw in the lives of those I loved. And failed miserably.

It seems most people today, myself included, have a distorted view of suffering—that is that it is a thing to be prevented, avoided, and remedied at all costs. We seek pain killers, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications which are readily prescribed at the smallest hint of emotional distress. We can lean on alcohol for depression, cigarettes for stress, tv and video games for boredom, pornography for self-consciousness or laziness, and social media for insecurity. We have a quick fix available for every negative feeling we encounter. And yet, it seems from scripture and other historical writings that the apostles, the early church, and Jesus himself didn’t adhere to this mindset. Nearly every generation since the fall seems to have accepted and expected suffering as a normal part of life.

I’ve noticed nearly every time someone learns I have a headache, the first response is to offer me asprin or ask me if I’ve taken some. While a very caring response not inherently wrong, it simply supports the reality that we have developed incredible means by which we can alleviate pain, are conditioned to do so, and it is stunting our abilities to cope with and grow in our experiences. It’s fascinating to read the accounts of scripture and to imagine what it would have been like to cope with the type of pain the early church endured without an alternate fallback option. Sometimes I intentionally wait a day or 2 of feeling horrible—to the point where I can no longer stand it—before I take medication or go to the doctor, then think—what if the medicine I need had not yet been invented? Or available? Or I couldn’t afford to go to a doctor? At that breaking point, how would I have responded? What would I have used to cope? Would my tolerance simply grow in endurance? Would the reality that life isn’t just puppies & rainbows truly set in and my perspective become more accurate? (Ecc 1:18) Would I have become bitter and angry at God, curse the world and wish for a quick death to escape it all? (Job 2:9) Would I draw closer to my community and friends, depending on them, relaying on them to support me and pray for me? (Gal 6:2) Would I cry out to God with more vigor and intensity than ever before, with deeper longing that he would answer my agonizing prayer? (Ps 77:1) Would his grace of health taste all the sweeter having known a whole new level of potential misery? (Ps 30:11-12) And would I have an enriched ability to relate to Jesus, the one who suffered more horrendous pain than anything I will ever be able to imagine? (Phil 3:10-11)

What if, by masking the pain and avoiding the suffering, we are, in a sense prohibiting one of God’s greatest graces-which is to teach us something about life, something about the world, or something about himself? Would it be worth it? I wonder how different our attitudes might be if we viewed suffering as a means to a potentially more glorious end rather than a simple inconvenience to ignore, avoid or escape. Many societies and cultures historically and today have a vastly different perspective when it comes to hardship and trials. More important than how to avoid it, was what was to be learned from it and gained by it. If suffering were without purpose, our current attempt to resolve it quickly, though sadly inadequate, would make sense. But what if there were mysterious reward on the other side of suffering that our current pain blinds us to? Would it be worth it?

“The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt…God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscious, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –CS Lewis

Chocolate Balsamic Fruit Kabobs with Coconut Lime Dipping Sauce

A few months ago, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics put out a request for healthy recipes for publication in Food and Nutrition’s quarterly magazine featuring a tailgating theme in May/June 2014. Combining my love for yogurt and creativity in the kitchen, I developed Chocolate Balsamic Fruit Kabobs with Coconut Lime Dipping Sauce. It was selected for publication pictured on the front cover of this month’s edition and on the Stone Soup blog.

Chocolate Balsamic Fruit Kabobs Nourising Passions Pic


Chocolate Balsamic Fruit Kabobs with Coconut Lime Dipping Sauce
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Great healthy option for tailgaiting or grilling out at home!
Serves: 15

  • Kabobs:
  • ¼ cup dried unsweetened coconut, toasted (optional)
  • 1 pt strawberries, pitted
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 mango
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 4 kiwifruit
  • 1 T butter
  • Marinade:
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 t dark cocoa powder
  • 2 t honey
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional-gives a kick!)
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 t lime juice
  • ½ t coconut extract
  • ½ t cinnamon

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 15 minutes to prevent burning. Wash, peel and cut all fruit into 1-inch chunks and skewer varying fruit. Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Combine dipping sauce ingredients along with 2 T of the toasted coconut in another small bowl and set aside.
  2. Adjust grill to medium high heat and brush lightly with butter. Layer skewers onto the grill, brushing all sides with the marinade. Turn gently after fruit is seared and lightly cooked, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Sprinkle kabobs with remaining toasted coconut and serve with dipping sauce.


Psalm 77 2 NourishingPassions

Why this Darkness? Why this haze?
About which I’m to live my days?
It seems to me a troubling lot
That you have placed me in this spot.
Of such despair and loneliness
Confusion, grief and emptiness
When all I’d wanted I confess
Was you alone, my God to bless.

I remember early on
you’d whisper to me all day long.
The hearing of your voice so sweet
The knowledge of your love so deep
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t give
That all my days, to you, to live
For all my heart and souls desire’s
To be made new, refined by fire.

I once had prayed you’d take me through
Whatever’d lead me close to you
You heard, I thought, then questioned why
All trace of you seemed gone awry.
You lifted up your hand of grace
And of your love, I felt no trace.
It seemed you had abandoned me,
And to your word I sought to flee.
The truth that once had pierced my soul,
Confusion blocked, distraction’s toll.
And now it seems you’ve lifted up
Your hand of grace and its sweet cup.

Nightmares, pain and scorching lies
That plague my thoughts amidst my cries.
Answered not my anyone,
But silence even from the Son.
The Jesus I had thought I knew,
Spared not all these as I grew
In weakness and humility
And of the sin stored up in me.

I prayed, I longed, I asked him why
Must I go on with no reply ”
He answers not, yet still I try
To figure out why I’m so dry
Dead and lifeless though I feel,
A part of me knows He’s still real.
Glimpses of amazing grace
Upon my friends, upon their face.

Now I have lain down all my need
To know the mysteries you decreed
To bring about some fruitfulness
Within my life, that I might bless.
The soul of Him to whom I live
And to his glory hope to give.

My prayer is not, O Lord, why this?
And tell me please what did I miss?
Instead it is, O Lord, your face
Which I will seek but by your grace
With every moment of my life
Regardless of my daily strife.

My feelings are but fickle things
To which my soul so naturally clings.
The horrid silence I perceive
May well be devils who deceive
Me into thinking that I’ve failed
Discipleship and not prevailed.

Regardless of distorted thought,
I hope to say, my life I’ve fought
For Jesus who is worth it call
And at who’s feet I’ll daily fall.
I know not when, I know not how,
But someday every knee will bow
To You upon Your glorious throne
By truth and justice which you own.

It matters not what I would feel,
But just to know that you are real
Would satisfy my heart’s delight
And make it all so worth the fight.

Chasing Wind

“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity, a striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Ecc 2:11

Chasing Wind Nourishing Passions C I sometimes think Solomon must have been one of the most miserable and depressed men to have ever lived on this earth. Because he had the means to pursue everything I’m naturally prone and drawn to—every passion, every pleasure, every allure that sets itself up as a source of fulfillment but ultimately brings utter disappointment–and lives the entirety of his life unsatisfied. He sought every conceivable source of happiness available in his lifetime (Ecc 2:1), indulging himself in everything imaginable. He sought out entertainment in various forms, pleasure from rich food and drink (Ecc 2:3), comfort in a luxurious home (Ecc 2:4-6), companionship with friends, extravagant possessions and entertainment (Ecc 2:7-8), sexual relations with women (1 Ki 11:3), and fame throughout the known world (Ecc 2:9).

The heartbreaking irony of Solomon’s life is that in keeping himself from no pleasure (Ecc 2:10), he inhibited himself from experiencing true contentment and joy. The more worldly, temporary happiness he sought, the more grief and disappointment he wrought. He wanted it all—he wanted God and things. Scripture says, “He loved the Lord, [a dangerous place for a comma] ONLY…he sacrificed and made burnt offerings at the high places (1 Ki 3:4).” I am convinced that “loving God, but” has not worked out well for anyone. It didn’t work for Solomon, it didn’t work for Samson (1 Ki 11:9), it didn’t work for the rich young ruler (Mt 19:22), and it most certainly doesn’t work for me. We are designed to worship the Lord and serve him only (Deut 6:13)—why? Not because He wants to withhold, but because he wants to give. He longs for us to enjoy creation, but not more than the Creator of them (Ro 1:25). He wants us to worship the one to whom all created things, concepts, and ideals point to. Anything less than that would be to short us on the abundance of this life (John 10:10) which he so adamantly sacrificed to give us.

Solomon had riches incomparable to what I will ever experience…. Or did he? Wealth is relative to one’s circumstance and values. A camel which would be of very little value to me* was worth much in the ancient world whereas an Iphone would hold no meaning for Solomon—there is no one he could contact and being the wisest human (1 Ki 3:12) who’s ever lived second only to Jesus, he would have no need for Google or Wikipedia. I might not have the monetary equivalent of millions of dollars, but I do live in the wealthiest nation on the planet with luxuries people in other countries have never heard of. I may not have a palace with manicured grounds, but I do have a home with a yard, irrigation, trash pick up, electric and gas hook up. I may not have a harem of superficial relationships, but I have facebook, pinterest, twitter, and Instagram.

I sometimes wonder whether the excessive grace God pours out in response to our prayers can actually be a hindrance if not received with humility, wisdom, stewardship, and maturity. Solomon seemed to have a right heart in his initial request, responding in gratitude (1 Ki 3:8) and humility (1 Ki 3:7)—he took his role of stewardship over God’s people so seriously that he wanted most of all the wisdom to do a good job with what the Lord had entrusted him. In his lavish delight (1 Ki 3:10-11), God poured out upon him, not only heavenly wisdom (1 Ki 3:12), but also the ability to pursue worldly things (1 Ki 3:13). This ability in and of itself is not bad, but it is dangerous—because it paves a way for competition with God, something which has potential to lead the purest of human hearts astray. Solomon later said, “Give me neither poverty, nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God (Pro 30:8-9).” Might it be that God often graciously withholds our earthly desires and even inflict suffering such that our eyes would be fixed on Him alone—the only source of true and lasting joy—for rescue, relief, satisfaction and peace? (Isa 38:17) It took a lifetime of frustration for Solomon to realize that the one he originally sought after to give him all he needed to be successful was not a means to an end, but the end itself. He concludes after a depressing discourse on the meaninglessness of life while pursuing all earthly gain, “Fear God and keep his commands, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecc 12:13),” and I believe we could save ourselves a lifetime of frustration by heeding his wisdom, learning from his example, and pursuing God and Him alone.

An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.—(Screwtape) CS Lewis

*That being said, if given a camel I have several ideas were the opportunity to arise ;-)

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract Nourishing Passions

Second only to my beloved cinnamon, vanila extract is possibly the most frequently used flavoring agent in my kitchen. Compared with store-bought versions, making vanilla extract at home costs less per serving (approximately 5 times cheaper), evades the chemicals and questionable manufacturing processes, and only takes a few minutes to make.

All that is needed is:

  • Vanilla beans (purchase locally or online–different beans produce slightly different flavors)
  • Alcohol (I’ve used vodka but brandy or rum can be substituted), and
  • Patience (it takes about 3 months for the flavors to fully infuse)

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe:

Homemade Vanilla Extract
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DYI Vanilla Extract
Recipe type: DIY
Cuisine: Vanilla Flavoring

  • 15 Vanilla Beans
  • 1 Bottle Vodka (can substitute other alcohol such as brandy, rum or bourbon)
  • Glass jars

  1. Slice vanilla beans lengthwise and place in glass jars. Top with vodka and shake up. Store in cool dark place for 2-3 months to infuse. Shaking periodically will help speed the infusion process.



How Do I Love Thee?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength Mark. 12:30

Adoration Noursing Passions

I used to think I knew what love was. When I was a child, I was shown unconditional love and affection by my parents. They were always there for me-I could talk to them about anything and everything and though I’ve always feared failure and disappointing others, I knew there was nothing I could do to warrant the cessation of their affection. Our family was one of deep loyalty and I would do anything for anyone of them. My parents we respectable and lovely people and thus easy to respect and love. To this day, they are among those I feel most strongly drawn to and enjoy being with. We have had some trails and challenges over the years as all families do, but they have been few and far between. I learned that love was a feeling…a deep emotional commitment to those I was most drawn to and felt incredible affection toward and which was reciprocated. There was a childlike trust with which I adored and cherished the people around me.

My relationships outside of my family functioned quite differently. Friends came and went. They were often based on common interests or locality, but without deep or lasting roots. Expectations were different and often the solution to problems was an unspoken cessation of friendship initiated by gossip or slander. My friends in Jr High and High School were fun, but they were often not easy to love—they said hurtful things and did hurtful things and were often difficult to love. I learned that more than simply a feeling, sometimes love was a choice….a decision to forgive and an attempt to reconcile, which sadly didn’t often happen.

Then I met Jesus. And my definition of love expanded exponentially and was taken to a superhuman level. There was an exhilaration of knowing the truth of his nature and experiencing the power of his Spirit. I was captivated by the sheer joy which accompanies knowing the Creator of the Universe and purposely doing what I was created to do. I learned that love was supernatural bigger than anything I could ever experience on this earth. I found myself increasingly patient with those I’d previously been frustrated with, more prayerful toward those whom I’d formerly hated, more hopeful for those whom I’d at one time given up on. It was wonderful, but not nearly so wonderful as the giver of it all. It is only natural for me to love more fully having known the very source of it. God is love personified (1 John 4:8) and we can only love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). It’s no wonder my heart had previously been so deficient in love-and no wonder we struggle so deeply to love one another.

And then Jesus withdrew. Not in a literal sense, which would contradict his character. Not in a providential sense in that he broke one of his promises. But in a felt sense, in that I no longer knew the confidence and assurance which once defined my faith. My effectiveness at reaching out to others, the fruit of ministry I strove for, and impact on his kingdom seemed diminished at best. I ached for a felt sense of his presence and strove to attain it at any cost. And I’ve yet to receive the answer I’ve so desperately prayed for. It’s been over 3 years and I’ve learned that love is perseverance. It is not something that may be fallen into or fallen out of. It is a commitment and a sacrifice in which the beloved is worth all costs.

There are weaknesses exposed in me that have alluded to the horrors of how easy it would be to just give up and walk away, the lies that Jesus isn’t real and my spiritual life had been nothing more than an emotional experience, and that there was nothing in my hopeless life worth loving or saving—which contradicted the ultimate source of authority which states that Jesus never loses his sheep (John 10:27), that it is impossible to truly know Jesus and walk away from him (He 4:4-6) and that I was counted worthy by the judge of the universe, not according to my own standards, but according to the justifier (Ro 5:7-9). And I learned that love is truth. And truth depends not on a feeling I have or a decision I make-it is rooted in the God who radiates it by his very nature and who exemplified it on the cross. The feeling, the decision, the struggling, they are only the natural result of being known by the King Himself and what less can I give him than everything? He demands heart, soul, strength, and mind, but deserves so much more. The least I can do is love him with everything I have and all that I am. Love is no less the childlike adoration I’d once had for my family, but is so much more—it is that same adoration rooted in and given by Jesus and poured out back to him and onto others from the overflow of his abundant grace and mercy.

“Man was made to know good with his mind, to desire it with his affections once he knows it, and to cleave to it with his will once he has felt its attraction.” –John Owen



Wait for The Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage.
Wait for The Lord. –Psalm 27

Wait for the Lord Psalm 27-14

Patience has never been one of my top virtues. In fact it’s most likely my limiting fruit (Gal 5:22-23)–if only I could substitute sarcasm or cynicism for patience I think my “spiritual fruit profile” might look a bit more promising. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been horribly impatient when it comes to just about everything. My mom tells stories of when I was a baby how I came out screaming and didn’t stop for about 9 months….until I learned to crawl/walk/run (apparently there wasn’t a whole lot of transition time between these phases). Once I was mobile, I was apparently much more content in my newfound ability to navigate the floors, the yard, the neighborhood.

One of my earliest memories is when I was 3 or 4 (guessing) trying to put on a Cookie Monster shirt. I remembered to look at the picture, which was supposed to be on the front, before putting it on. I must have tried 10 times, each time with the shirt either inside out or backwards. I could feel my face getting hot and red in anger and frustration while my Dad gently offered to help. Stubborn and prideful, I threw off my clothes and stormed off to pout for a while, thinking I SHOULD be able to do this…

I think that “should” is one of the biggest barriers in my quest to gain patience. I have this set of expectations, these standards I develop and to be honest, many of them are somewhat arbitrary and downright silly. “I should be smarter,” “I should be able to understand how cars and electricity work,” “I should be married by now,” “I should make more money,” ”I should be good at gardening, sewing, cooking, and everything else [I strive to excel at].” I’m pretty good at holding others to various “shoulds” as well: “He should not be driving in the left lane,” “she should not wear as much perfume,” “they should not be able to take so much in taxes out of my paycheck.” Some of these standards are probably just ingrained assumptions I’ve had most of my life–such as having a family and children, some are probably imposed upon by the culture of our times, some may be whispered by the enemy, but what is most interesting is that none of these standards are what God uses as a measurement for growth in sanctification (2 Pe 2:5-11) and He who both sets the standards and holds those accountable is the ultimate judge before whom I will stand.

Scripture speaks so highly of motherhood (Prov 31:28), encourages domesticity (Prov 31:27), exhorts those who are wise and intelligent, and gives wonderful examples of courageous (1 Sa 25:3) and entrepreneurial (Prov 31:18-19) women. But I am not them and that is where my impatience in lies (say that 3 times fast!). Ultimately, I think that if my situation were to change, my problem would be alleviated, but this is neither scriptural nor logical. The problem is in my heart attitude and flawed worldview. I am selfish with the time God’s given me and not faithful enough to view life accurately in light of eternity. If I cared about Jesus more than myself and lived in a way that put his kingdom at the crux of my being and doing, I would have no reason for impatience, frustration, or anger….because what else have I to do with this time?–it is his and not my own–and what does it matter what I do so long as it serves him and others in love (Ro 13:10; Gal 5:6) I can do that single or married, young or old, and in various types of employment, hobbies, and interests. I can do it with what he has given me, asking that he might give me more, but content in trusting that he gives just the right amount to each & every one of his people and does not hold us to account for talents he doesn’t give us (Mt 25:14-19).

What does it mean to “Wait for The Lord?” I don’t think it means idly sitting on our hands doing nothing until we die, nor do I think it means we try to twist the application of scripture to say something that it doesn’t. I think it means actively trusting Him with our lives, knowing he is soverign and good and has the best of intentions for us regardless of how it looks or feels, all the while passionately pursuing biblical principles in order to have the greatest impact on his kingdom possible in our lifetime storing up as many treasures as we are able to joyfully present to him (Rev 5:8) on the day he visits (Eph 2:12).

PhotoCredit: Joyce Yong

I call all times soon. -Aslan, the Lion (C.S. Lewis)

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash Nourishing Passions

Spaghetti Squash can be hit or miss (every once in a while I get a dud), but when it’s a hit, it’s totally worth it! It’s a a great pasta substitute and will save you about 170 calories and 35 grams carbs per cup, not to mention added vitamins and minerals often devoid in refined pastas.

There are endless variations with spaghetti squash:

  • Roasted with just a sprinkle of sea salt, pepper and butter
  • Topped with marinara or meat sauce as you would regular pasta
  • Drizzle with a bit of butter or olive oil and Parmesan cheese
  • Check out basic how to’s with spaghetti squash here and recipes here.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
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Simple delicious side dish to accompany any meal or can be used in a recipe as part of a main dish.
Recipe type: Side dish
Serves: 4

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

  1. Turn oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and goop with a spoon.
  3. Fill pan about 1 inch with water.
  4. Place squash in pan with cut ends facing up (this will give it a nice roasted texture on top).
  5. Bake in oven approximately 1 hour or until fork tests it is soft and tender.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before running fork through to scoop out strands.
  7. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 42 Fat: 0 Saturated fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 10 Sugar: 4 Fiber: 2 Protein: 1 Cholesterol: 0

Ignorance is Bliss…Or is it?

If you say, “Behold we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? Pro 24:12

Ignorance is Bliss Nourishing Passions

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that my tendency is to always look for loopholes–trying to get the most I can out of a situation with the least amount of pain and suffering. Not so much practically as a means to avoid consequences, but psychologically to justify a rationale in my conscious in an effort to come out feeling better about myself and my circumstances. I’ve fought godly guilt with worldly ignorance and it often allows a temporary pacification. And I’ve realized that each and every time I claim an ignorance that is not there, I am engaging in one of the most destructive and dangerous habits for the eternity of my soul.

Prior to knowing Jesus, I would have thought, “ignorance is bliss” and that by avoiding thinking things that upset me, I could escape the tension of my troubled soul. Also known as “optimism,” I’d just cover up all negativity of sin with positive thinking. The only problem with that is that it never quite worked. Somehow, there was always at some root level an awareness that no amount of positive thinking was able to smother.

After Jesus came in and stole my heart, I was increasingly conscious to all that opposed him. I had a heightened awareness of sin and resolved that there is none who could escape God–he holds everyone to account and will reveal both the outer and inner workings of each and every person on that great day when we stand before him (Rom 14:4). He watches over each and every part of my life and though I may deceive people, it is impossible to manipulate God. When I stand before Him, I cannot claim ignorance (Rom 1:20).

As my walk continued and my experience grew, I discovered a darker and deeper truth in that my biblical understanding of conscious was incomplete. And that is that while, God will not be mocked, a man reaps what he sows (Gal 6:7) and if one sows seeds of desire for insensitivity to the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:18-19), and if that desire superceeds a longing to humbly submit a soul of wickedness in exchange for one of holiness and purity promised by the giver himself, he will reap the hardness of heart and searing of conscious he has requested (Rom 1:28). One of the greatest dangers of all is self-deception. I have watched men and women more gifted, more versed in scripture, better trained in leadership walk away from the God of the Bible, an act I struggled to reconcile with the perseverance described in scripture (Phil 1:6; John 10:27). I’ve experienced the draw back to those things which never satisfied me in the first place and known the terrifying truth that if I chose anything over him, if I allowed any other god to take the seat on the throne, I would prove myself to have never really known him in the first place (1 John 2:18-19). The terrifying reality is that the giver is generous and will eventually gives us over to our deepest desires, and that if our deepest desire is anything but him, it will result in a hardening of heart, a distortion of reality and a destruction of conscious. We will feel better for a time in this blissful ignorance, but my hope is not in a temporary feeling, but in an eternal certainty. I would rather take the heaviness of conscious, the foolishness of exposure, and the vulnerability of depravity as he whittles away at character and nature than a lifetime of happiness and fun which mask the uncertainty and unease of my eternal hope. So long as God gives me free will to choose, the strength to do so, and the perseverance to hold fast, I choose a clear conscious above any and all gain in this life.

To let sin alone in our lives is to permit it to grow until it chokes and blinds the conscious.
–John Owen


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