|Thursday, March 10, 2022|
You’ve noticed, haven't you? Your groceries are shrinking. But not the prices, mind you.
A few weeks ago, I made a batch of brownies. Problem is the (brand name withheld) company has thinned down the amount of mix in the box to the point those brownies looked more like a chocolate-flavored postage stamp in a 13 x 9 pan.
My suspicions were confirmed a few days ago when making brownies again. Different brand this time, but the directions told me to use TWO boxes!
We've seen the same thing with other foods. Though the macaroni box remains the same size, the noodles and the powdered cheese packet are so reduced they could easily fit into a box half the current size.
Lest you think this is merely personal perception, the Nielsen Company confirms that up to 30% of packaged goods “have lost content over the past year.” In other words, your groceries really are shrinking. They call it shrinkflation.
It means 32-ounce Gatorade bottles have now shrunk to 28 ounces, and you’re getting about 2 ounces less of Keebler Chips Deluxe cookies. It means there’s less Charmin toilet paper to squeeze: 8-count mega rolls now contain 244 two-ply sheets instead of 264.
Do these people think we don’t notice? How can they honestly believe this practice (price increases they’re hoping you don’t see) comes across as anything other than deception?
I'm so glad we serve a God who has never known a stingy thought and never shrunken a single blessing. In contrast to America's miserly manufacturers, Paul speaks of our God, "who richly provides us with everything to enjoy" (1 Tim 6:17).
Though inflation may well continue to jack up prices, though food manufacturers may continue shrinking their products, you and I can count on the continuing generosity of our King. Philippians 4:19 says of Him, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Anybody care for a brownie?
|God is Always Doing Something
|Thursday, March 03, 2022|
We weren’t trying to pry.
But the story just tumbled out.
Over dinner, Parker and Lia updated us on their adult children. Two of them were divorced, and one of them—their daughter, Clara—moved back home with her two little girls.
While we were touched hearing the stories of how Parker and Lia were stepping up, creating a loving environment for these little ones, our hearts were also sad.
Here is a young mom going it alone. And despite all the great support from Clara’s parents, this is a rough ride—for all of them. But there’s more to this story.
We’ve been praying for Parker and Lia and their family for years. Actually, decades. We’ve prayed that God would open their eyes and save them. Honestly, I can’t say that we’ve sensed a lot of activity.
But we were enjoying dinner together, which I considered an answer to prayer. And in the course of that dinner, we then learned that Clara and her two little girls had started attending an evangelical church. Clara loved the programs they had for her girls, and she seemed to connect with the Bible teaching. We could hardly believe what we were hearing!
Yet why should we have been surprised in the least? God is always at work. God is always answering our prayers. God is always doing something—even if it doesn’t seem that way.
I share all this with one goal in mind: to encourage you in your prayer journey. I don't know the unsaved family members or friends in your life. But I'm guessing that, like me, you sometimes feel nothing is happening. Take heart!
God is always doing something.
Even if it doesn’t seem that way.
|We Want the Wrong Country
|Thursday, February 24, 2022|
Do you long for the America that used to be? I remember the day when no one questioned a prayer at graduation. Or considered a mention of hell as hate speech.
Not that America was ever totally Christian, but one could argue there was a day when this nation had more of a collective conscience concerning the Almighty.
Statistics show many more of us used to attend church. Or read the Bible. Or pray.
And most folks, born again or not, affirmed some notion of a coming judgment day.
Back before America welcomed Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Zen, and the force, we mostly had God. And He was enough.
Our ship has sailed far from that holy harbor, to the point that many of us long exceedingly for the old country. And that can be a problem. While we are called to be salt and light, to affirm what is good, and to stand against evil, we must not forget that our real citizenship is in heaven.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to live in a nation that demonstrates a healthy respect for God. And engaging in the task of forging godly national values is noble. But when we care more about the country we’re leaving than our heavenly country, our hearts are in the wrong place.
I’m guilty here, for sure. I dislike the growing disrespect for anything remotely Christian. I bristle at the welcome accommodation of other faiths (or no faith) while believers face marginalization. It ticks me off when even a polite explanation of biblical beliefs leads to the charge of our being hateful or even domestic terrorists.
Yet how can we read the Bible or history itself and not realize this is how it has always been? We are hated by the most hateful of enemies.
In the famous "Faith Hall of Fame" in Hebrews 11, it says of the great saints, "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…And indeed, if they had been thinking of that country which they left, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
For now, we Christians have dual citizenship of sorts. But we cannot expect the smile of our Savior if we've set our affections on this country—rather than His.
|Spiritual Flat Tire
|Thursday, February 17, 2022|
Nothing says Chicago like a flat tire in January. In the snow. When it’s twelve degrees outside.
Our daughter and her four kids experienced that "joy" a few weeks ago, just a mile from our home. But I was excited to use the new jack our kids had given me for Christmas, so we pumped up that car, loosened the lug nuts, and…nothing. The wheel did not—would not—budge. That's when I found my hammer. Then a bigger hammer. Eventually, the wheel came loose, and boy, did it look funny.
Was it the cold or the fact that it had been resting flat for more than an hour? Either way, that tire was so misshaped it looked comical. In my ignorance, I presumed the flat spot would smooth out by itself, given a bit of time. Nothin' doin'.
That tire is a metaphor for our view of God’s holiness: misshaped. When most of us think of God’s holiness, we think of His sinless purity, His perfect creation, and His Son—the spotless Lamb of God.
Unquestionably, these all help “round out” a definition of God’s holiness, but there’s more. There is also a terrifying, humbling, plant-your-face-in-the-ground aspect to His holiness.
Kneeling or falling or weeping is what humans have always done when they truly encounter the One who calls Himself “a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). The scrapbook of Scripture brims with photos of people like Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Gideon, Ezekiel, the Magi, Paul, and even the angels in heaven—all falling before the holiness of God.
But ironically, that’s the part we tend to ignore. Thus, we are left with a spiritual flat tire. We don’t truly fear God (a notion we’ve reduced to the more user-friendly concept of “respect”). We don't tremble in His presence. Yet God says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).
So accustomed are we to thoughts of Jesus being our friend and brother (which He is!) we fail to comprehend He is also the lion of Judah, the One who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16).
If our spiritual flat tire is going to be fixed, we must learn what it means to tremble.
Forgive us, Lord, for seeing only one side of you.
Teach us what it means to tremble at your holiness.
|Root Beer Float Theology
|Thursday, February 10, 2022|
When we go camping, the Saturday night root beer float is a tradition that approaches the sacred. There's something of heaven in the marriage of ice cream and root beer. And no one comprehends that more than a child. We had four of them that weekend (kids, not root beer floats!).
Throughout our time, we enjoyed ice cream at Culver's, ice cream at McDonald's, and ice cream at the canteen. But the fact that we didn’t have the Saturday night root beer float at the campground was not lost on the grandkids.
Upon reviewing the weekend, their mother asked them how it all went. “Pretty good. But we didn't have root beer floats!" As if we'd ripped them off.
At first, I thought, Those little stinkers! But then I realized…I am one of those stinkers. Maybe you are, too.
We have enjoyed the kindness of Jesus in saving us from our sins. We have experienced the miraculous intervention of God in countless personal crises from which there appeared to be no escape. We have tasted the generosity of our Savior again and again and again. And yet, there’s this “root beer float,” this ONE thing that eludes us.
It's the job we always wanted but didn't get. It's the house we always wanted but never had. It's the girlfriend, the boyfriend, or the—what is it for you?
Too busy counting the little we don’t have, we’ve forgotten the much that we do have: God's favor, forgiveness, and forever love.
Here’s what I’m learning—and I apologize that I’m just a beginner:
I must have Jesus and His smile. And if I have that, I will have everything worth having.
(Read that last sentence again).
(And have a nice day!)
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