Food by the Truckload

redtIn January of 2015, Ford sold 54,370 trucks.  According to estimates by Ford, the company will be able to build more than 700,000 F-150s annually through the combined production of the Dearborn and Kansas City factories.

This is good news, because the average American eats close to two truckloads of food each year. Based on the weight of the food, you will have to fill the bed of a ½ ton truck twice a year for every person living in your house.

Based on food consumption data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American will annually consume about:

  • 630 pounds of milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream per year. Of this number, cheese accounts for about 31 pounds and ice cream for 17 pounds.
  • 195 pounds of meat
  • 250 eggs
  • 200 pounds of wheat and other grains. Of this number, 53 pounds is bread.
  • 280 pounds of fruit
  • 428 pounds of vegetables.

 

There’s another truth about the eating habits of the average American—most have more concerne for what fills their plate than that which fills their soul.  Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The “bread” from God is not measured by calories; it’s measured by the clock.  Paul said to redeem the time and to, “be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, and  taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is (Ephesians 5:15-17).

This is bread that’s needed by the truckload.  How often do you backup to the Bible for a load of fresh bread, or do you back away and grow stale?

A Soothing Touch

holiday-stress-680x380With Christmas in the air and the holiday preparations underfoot, how are you doing?  Are you feeling overwhelmed by your commitments and underwhelmed by your resources?

According to a survey done by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, you’re not the only one who feels this way.  Here are the Top 10 things that people say they dislike at Christmas:

  • Crowds and long lines
  • Gaining weight
  • Going into debt
  • Gift shopping
  • Traveling
  • Seeing certain relatives
  • Seasonal music
  • Disappointing gifts
  • Having to attend holiday parties or events
  • Holiday tipping

Even the Psalmist admitted to feeling overwhelmed: If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O Lord, supports me. When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy (Psalm 94:18-19).

If you’re needing a little soothing, the Psalms reassure you that God will hear the sound of your pleading, and He is your strength and shield (Psalm 28:6-9); and He has promised to be present in the thick of danger, and to preserve your life from the anger of your enemies (Psalm 138:7).

Make Mine a Double Dip

coneThis time each year, I get a little nostalgic.  I have to admit, it doesn’t take me long to yearn again for the wonderful days of July, and I’m not thinking of the 4th of July.

I’m one of the people who take notice of the true significance of July and do my best to celebrate it.  July, in case you’ve already forgotten, is set aside as National Ice Cream Month.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and declared the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

The USDA reports that the USA produced some 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts in 2013. The sales of ice cream and frozen desserts add about $5.4 billion in sales to the economy—don’t ask how much it adds to the waistlines of Americans.

All of this talk about tasting has reminded me of Psalm 34:

“God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.  Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness (The Message).”

When you pause to reflect on God and His goodness, remember to thank Him for the many blessings associated with gift of taste ….. you might also praise Him for ice cream too.

GNAT: Scripture That Bugs Me

Gungus Gnat - Boletina species - Mycetophilidae - 012340

If you are outside much in the Summer months, you know how pesky a little gnat can be:  They get in your face; draw attention to themselves; and, they won’t leave you alone.

Because they are just as pesky, there are some sections of the Bible that I refer to as GNAT Scripture, and Psalm 19:1-4, is one of these.  This Psalm is small, but pesky, in the way it prods you with its important principles.

When you read the verses below, notice the GNAT (Great, Noble, And Truthful) principles it contains:

The heavens are telling of the greatness of God and the great open spaces above show the work of His hands.  Day to day they speak. And night to night they show much learning.  There is no speaking and no words where their voice is not heard.  Their sound has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Here are a few of the pesky thoughts that prod me whenever I read this Psalm:

  • Just as the heavens testify of God’s greatness, the fruit you bear reveals your relationship with God . . . are you sweet, tart, or bitter?
  • Notice the frequency of the testimony . . . day after day and night after night. There is no room for a Sunday Saint in the understanding and application of this Psalm.  Do you live and breathe in such a way that the love of God flows from within you and is easily seen?  Is it the rhythm of your life?
  • Notice the far-reaching influence . . . through all the earth and to the end of the world. How far-reaching and powerful is your influence for Christ?

If your voice was the only voice that could be heard and your testimony was the only one that could be seen, how would your influence change the world?

Sodas, Saints, and Sin

big-gulpIf you’re like many Americans, you may believe that bigger is better.  Super-sized meals may be the  proof that this is faulty reasoning and that moderation might be a better approach to life.

In 1950 or shortly thereafter, McDonalds was selling 7 oz sodas, burgers that weighed in at 3.9 oz, and French fries in a portion of 2.4 oz.  Following the bigger is better mantra, the servings at McDonalds have increased  to 42 oz sodas, 12 oz burgers, and 6.7 oz fries.

The result of all this fast food grazing, is a raising in the average weight of Americans.  Women now weigh about 18.5% more than they did 50 years ago and the weight of the average man has increased 17.6%.

I find it interesting that during this same time period there has been both an increase in physical cravings and a decrease in spiritual appetite.  I’m not saying the food industry is the cause of our spiritual malnutrition, but we are a nation that is spiritually anemic.

The prophet Jeremiah ministered in a time like this.  It was a time when people had forgotten God and a time when the emphasis was physical and not spiritual.  It was to these people that Jeremiah said:

“My people have done two things wrong. They have abandoned me, the fountain of life-giving water. They have also dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that can’t hold water.”  ~Jer. 2:13

A society that turns its back on God is one that embraces a philosophy that simply cannot hold water.  It might grow in size due to government programs, and it might increase in weight due to financial gain; however the only true hope is to return to the “fountain of life-giving water.”

Paying and Staying Fit

Horizon_Fitness_T101-3_TreadmillAny town of any size in the USA has some type of a gym or health club for the benefit of its citizens.  Many Americans strive to develop or maintain a regimen that leads to and promotes good health.

According to information from Yahoo:

  • 58 million Americans have a gym membership, but 67% of them never use their memberships.
  • Health clubs have annual revenues of about $21.8 billion.
  • The average cost per person for a membership is $58.
  • 5% of gym-goers use a personal trainers at an average price per session of $65.
  • Americans spend around $30 billion a year on athletic apparel.

While we should try to stay reasonably fit, we should place at least equal or more emphasis on praying to stay fit.  How would your life be different if you started a match program?

  • For every minute you spend trying to stay physically fit, you will match it with a minute of spiritual exercise (praying, reading your Bible, or speaking to someone about Jesus).
  • For every penny you spend paying to stay physically fit, you will give an equal amount to the Lord.

When you consider eternity, which one is of the greater benefit to you?  Is it paying to stay fit or praying to stay fit?

Is Left Ever Right?

IMG_0530 (1)Have you noticed that some cities seem to be in a perpetual state of ruin?  You know the cities I’m thinking of, the ones that seem to take pride in roads lined with bright orange traffic cones:  As far as the eye can see, they dot the highway and try to guide you safely down the road.

A day or two ago, I was driving through an intersection laced with orange cones and concrete barriers, and I got a little nervous. It looked like I was being directed into the oncoming lane of traffic.  For a moment I thought the engineer had been imported from England and he had brought his, drive-on-the-left-side-of-the-road, mentality with him.

This experience reminds me of the message on a sign:  “One Way or Another.”  The sober truth is that  when you die, you will go one way or another.

The good news is that there is a road map to lead you through the detours and confusing  intersections of life.  Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  If you will make the right turn and follow Jesus, you will never get left by Him.

A Normal Failure

images (2)Success and failure are the topics of many discussions.  In the Proverbs, Solomon draws a contrast between the “God-loyal people” and the “wicked” and how they manage the difficult times they face:

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” ~Proverbs 24:15-16

When a person is successful, he hears the cheers of the crowd; however, when he fails, the whispers of the same people are heard as an agonizing shout.  Failure is, however, a normal part of a person’s life.

With this in mind, let me share my Top Ten Failure Quotes:

  • Failure is not falling down: It is staying down.
  • “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
  • “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
  • “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  • “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
  • Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett
  • Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. ~Lloyd Jones

When I think of a God-loyal person, I think of Tim Tebow.  This young man had a stellar career as a college quarteback.  When his professional career came to an abrupt halt, some peole labeled him as a failure.

Tebow stayed in shape, continued to work hard, and he signed a contract with the Eagles this week.  He is anything but a failure, and he is a living example of Solomon’s words: “God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet . . . “

Follow the Leader

Follow_the_Leader_Photo1When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the word “follow” and the several times Jesus spoke this word.  I did a quick scan of the four Gospels, and I found a couple of interesting concepts.

In Mathew 4:19-20, Jesus said:  “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

  • Principle: If you do not follow Jesus you will be snared by the net of the world.
  • Principle: Fishing for fish is good, but fishing for men is better.

In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

  • Principle: If you don’t walk with Jesus in the light, you will stumble without Him in the dark.
  • Principle: Jesus does not HAVE the light of the world, He IS the Light of the world.

In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

  • Principle: Obedient sheep hear His voice and make the choice to follow Him.
  • Principle: When you deny and won’t comply, you are easy prey for the wolf.

Here’s the simple truth:  You can follow or be hollow.  When you are hollow, you will search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment, and love in all the wrong places.  When you follow Jesus you can be fully holy.

The wisdom of Solomon is a fitting conclusion:  “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness (Proverbs 15:9).”

Life: Infested or Invested

reflection-in-mirrorMy morning routine includes the couple of minutes I spend looking into the mirror.  This is not an exercise in vanity.  It’s just the best way to examine my wrinkled mug; apply the shaving cream; and wield the razor to shave my beard.

As I was checking the stubble on my face, I thought of Paul’s statement to the church at Corinth: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).”

When you think about it, there are several times each day that you take the time to check the quality of some item:

  • Bananas are checked to see if they are too ripe or too green.
  • Apples are examined to see if they are bruised.
  • When you buy something you check to make sure you have been given the correct amount of change.

How much time do you spend in spiritual self-examination?  The Psalmist said:  “I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies (Psalm 119:59).”  When he didn’t like what he saw, the author of the Psalm ironed out the wrinkles in his life by turning to God’s Word.

The methodology of the Psalms was the same message espoused by James (1:21-25):

Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

You have the freedom to look into the “perfect law of liberty” and to use it as a mirror to examine your life.  When you do this, what do you see?

  • Do you see a reflection of righteousness?
  • Is there an image of personal purity?
  • Do you recognize the features of faithfulness in the face you see?

A good mirror to use is a prayer in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”spic n span

Let me suggest this prayer as a daily test:  Does this mirror reflect a life that’s infested by the ring-around-the-collar filth of the world or one that is invested in the spic and span principles of God’s Word?