Different Ways of Cooking Fish and Potatoes

I like just about any way of preparing potatoes. Potato salad, baked potato loaded with toppings, au gratin potatoes, mashed potatoes, waffle fries from Chick-fil-a. I love them all.

But, fish … not so much. I’m picky about fish. I don’t like it raw or blackened or baked or smoked. I pretty much only like it battered and fried (with the exception of tuna salad sandwiches.)

And I’m picky about what kind of fish. I pretty much only like cod, like you find in McDonald’s fish sandwiches and Long John Silver’s fish fillets (with the exception of tuna salad sandwiches … and fresh red snapper fried and served in fish tacos.)

The other day the idea popped into my mind that our “pet sins” are kinda like fish and potatoes. There are some sins that appeal to me, while others don’t.

Wasting time watching hour upon hour of sports or blowing a afternoon shopping aimlessly at the neighborhood mall has no appeal to me.

Binging on Netflix documentaries and Facebook posts is calling my name. (Just one more …)

Getting in a fist fight or stealing from the neighborhood convenience store has absolutely no interest for me.

But, turning a cold shoulder on my husband to “teach him a lesson” or yelling at my kids when they’re moving too slow for my liking, will get me every time.

I need to be careful about judging other people’s “sins of choice” and remember that all of my good deeds are but filthy rags in comparison to God’s perfect glory.

I need to remember that any one of our sins are enough to separate us from a holy God.

Like the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18, the Pharisee’s greatest sin was the sin of pride. And the greatest answer to that sin is to humble myself before God, asking Him to have mercy on me, a sinner.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

Playing with Lions

Yesterday, at my local Community Bible Study meeting, we were looking at Genesis 4 when Cain killed Abel, his brother. In Genesis 4:7, before Abel has been killed, God warned Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

The word, “crouching,” conjures up an image of a cat ready to pounce, doesn’t it? Well, apparently, I’m not the only one because our CBS leader proceeded to share a story of a man who was severely injured by his pet tiger.

Like Michal Prasek, a Czech man who was found dead in his own pet lion’s pen, we can underestimate the power of the “pets” in our lives. Today I’m asking myself, how am I naively playing around with a pet lion, thinking it’s just a sweet, little tame cub that won’t possibly hurt me, thinking that I’ve got control of it. But, really, that sweet, little cub is actually a lion just waiting for the right time to pounce. Like, 1 Peter 5:8 instructs us. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Remember, as my pastor is so fond of saying, “Sin will cost you more than you want to pay, take you further than you want to go and keep you longer than you want to stay.”

21 years ago

21 years ago, Thomas William Endraske was silently born, making his public entrance into the world. He was not welcomed with balloons or stuffed animals, but with tears. He was not greeted by scores of relatives, but this Mama Bear loved all six inch of his tiny, pink unmoving form.

His birth was the capstone of a two-week attempt to save his life and my life will never be the same.

This baby boy’s life and death changed this mommy’s life for the better. I’d heard of grief before and I’d seen others grieve before, but this was my first experience with grief myself and it prompted my first step onto a fork in the road ahead. I moved from a wider path of comfort to a narrower path of faith and obedience. And I’m thankful.

I wonder today how different my life would be if he’d never been conceived at all. Would I have ever adopted his brother, Nick? Would I have ever begun praying and studying and feasting on God’s Word? Would I have homeschooled his big sister Emily, willingly sacrificing my own comfort and time for hers? Would I now be a mother of four living children or would I have stopped after two? Would I believe without a doubt that children are the greatest blessing that God can ever give to a woman?

So today, on Tommy’s birthday, I say, “Thank You, God, for creating him.”

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

I’ve written a book called, “A Child Of Promise” for parents who are continuing their pregnancy after they know something is wrong with their unborn baby. It is available on Amazon. Today and tomorrow, in honor of Tommy’s birthday, the Kindle version is available at a discounted rate.

Do hard things

Today I’m telling myself to do hard things.

Hard things like picking up after myself and after my kids.

Hard things like washing laundry and cooking dinner and taking the dog for a walk.

Hard things like putting my phone away and going to sleep at night.

Hard things like reading a story to my kids and praying with them at bedtime.

Hard things like striking up a conversation with a stranger or praying for my waitress.

Hard things like really listening and really caring about what I hear.

Today I’m telling myself to do hard things. What hard thing do you need to do today?

On selfishness

Early last Tuesday morning, I was packing up to drive down to Pensacola, Florida with my oldest daughter and my two youngest children. My oldest daughter is dating a young man who is stationed there for the Navy and she invited me to join her. (Yay! What a wonderful opportunity!)

We were trying to leave at 7 a.m. and I was racing around looking for any final things we needed to bring. My husband was sitting at the dining room table reading his Bible – usually a very praiseworthy thing in my eyes. And then it happened. He asked me to get him a cup of coffee.

The thing is, every morning before I teach online, I make him a cup of coffee to take with him to work. It’s just one tiny thing I can do to serve him and let him know how much I appreciate him.

But that particular Tuesday morning, boy, it made me mad. Here I was, rushing around to pack the car and grab last minute stuff for our trip, and he’s sitting there reading his Bible and he wants a cup of coffee.

Are any of you thinking, “Wow. That’s so selfish.”  I sure was.

[Before you read any further, please know that my husband and I have already discussed this and he encouraged me to post this.]

But here’s the deal, the real deal.

That’s me. That man sitting at the table reading his Bible while the rest of the family is rushing around — as painful as it is to share this with y’all — that’s me.

And, dare I say it aloud or type it out on my little phone keyboard, but I feel all super-spiritual while I’m sitting there. I’m thinking to myself, “They should’ve gotten up earlier. Why are they rushing around? They’re so unorganized.” Or some other such self-righteous thoughts.

Somehow it is so much easier to see the speck in someone else’s eye than the log in my own. I think Jesus talked about that sometime.

In all honesty, who was the selfish one here? Truth be told, both of us. 

Here I was, heading out of town for a week in Florida, while my husband stayed back to work and take care of the dog … and I’m complaining about getting him a cup of coffee. I wish that I could look not only to my own interests but also to the interests of others. I wish that I could serve others like Christ served me. Jesus did so much more than get me a cup of coffee with a quick-as-a-wink Keurig machine.

Father, I pray that you would give me your strength to love and serve others like you loved and served to me. I thank you for the blessing it is to have a husband to get coffee for. I thank you for the blessing it is to have a husband who reads the Bible. I thank you for the blessing it is to have a daughter who invited me to come with her younger siblings to bring along. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that convicts me of sin and shows me my own self-righteous, deceitful heart. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning and that you are faithful and just to forgive us of sin and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Father, I pray for the strength to turn away from selfish motives and desires. Give me a heart like yours. Amen.

Of Authors and Authority

Have you ever really thought about the word “authority?”

When Jesus finished his great “Sermon on the Mount” (found in Matthew 5-7), which includes such oft-quoted passages as the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and the story of the wise man who built his house on the rock, “the crowds were astonished at [Jesus’s] teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV)

Jesus’s teaching had power. Jesus wasn’t just quoting somebody else. Jesus wasn’t just repeating other people’s rules. Jesus had authority to tell people what to do.

Like when other people’s children come over to my house, they have to follow my rules. Jesus, as the Almighty Creator-God, has total authority to tell us, His Creation, how we ought to live.

Then, in Matthew 28:18 (ESV), after Jesus has been resurrected and is about to ascend to heaven, we again find the word “authority.” Jesus told His followers, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

What an encouragement that is to me! Jesus has total authority over heaven and earth. Whether you or I recognize it or not, whether we submit to Him or not, God is in charge over heaven and earth. Jesus has complete authority over our lives.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV), we are told to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I love this passage. Really, I love all of Hebrews 12. (I give you permission to stop right now and go read all of Hebrews 12, then come right back!)

Looking at various translations of Hebrews 12:2, KJV and NKJV translates “founder and perfecter” as “author and finisher of our faith,” and NASB translates it “author and perfector of faith.”

In English I see a connection between Jesus having all authority in heaven and earth, and Jesus being the author and finisher of faith.

Jesus wrote our faith and Jesus finished our faith. He is our perfect example. He is both the main character and He is the author. All things were made through Him and for Him.

Because Jesus has been given all authority in Heaven and on earth, so we must obey His commands and walk in His ways. And because He is the author and the finisher of our faith, we can place our complete trust in Him, looking towards Him as we run with endurance this race that He has set before us.

How does Jesus having all authority encourage you?

How does Jesus being the author and perfector of faith strengthen you to run with endurance the race God has set before you?

What is God calling you to do — or not do — today?

TWIG

About Apologies

After almost 25 years of marriage, and raising four children, I’ve both given my fair share of apologies and received them. I’ve instructed my children to accept responsibility for their actions and apologize far more times than I can count.

For the past two months, our women’s Sunday morning class has been watching a series of videos called, “Resolving Everyday Conflicts” by Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries. They are available for free through RightNow Media if your church has a RightNow Media account. Or you can find the DVD or the book online at Christian Book Distributors.

I found Session 5, “Accepting Responsibility, Making an Effective Apology,” to be particularly helpful. The speaker shared seven A’s for an effective apology.

  • Address Everyone Involved
  • Avoid If, But, and Maybe
  • Admit Specifically
  • Apologize, Acknowledging the Hurt
  • Accept the Consequence
  • Alter your Behavior
  • Ask for Forgiveness and Allow Time

In light of this recent teaching, the interaction between Adam and Eve and their Creator in Genesis 3 jumped out at me.

After eating the forbidden fruit, God asked Adam two pretty simple questions, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Adam replied, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

Then, God asked Eve a pretty simple question as well, “What is this that you have done?”

Eve replied,  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

How many times have I asked my children similar questions and received similar answers?

  • Me: “Did you finish your homework?”
    Child: “I didn’t know how, and you weren’t home to help me.”
  • Me: “Have you taken out the trash like I asked?”
    Child: “The dumpster was full.”
  • Me: “Did you put away your laundry?”
    Child: “I forgot.”
  • Me: “Who made this mess?”
    Child: “He did.”

And the list goes on and on.

Since the very first sin, mankind has struggled to take responsibility for our actions. Adam blamed the woman for giving him the fruit, as well as blaming God for giving him the woman. Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her. Our children blame others or their circumstances, including their own forgetfulness, for their shortcomings. And we blame our children or our husband or our neighbor or the traffic or the dog … for ours.

How do you struggle with accepting responsibility for your own sin?

Who do you usually blame when you mess up?

How can you improve in being genuinely repentant and seeking reconciliation when you’ve fallen short?

Rather than reading this post and thinking of how messed up your kids, or your parents, or your husband or your wife is … let’s try instead to focus on our own responsibility in the problem. And seek God God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, and who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

TWIG

By the way, I found this article helpful. “Seven Marks of a Good Apology (and 8 Marks of a Bad One)” at Crosswalk’s website. It outlines each of these 7 marks of a good apology in more detail.