A Matter of Taste

Day 5 of a horrible cold and my taste buds are AWOL.  It’s the strangest thing.  I place an object of culinary delight on my tongue and, well, nothing happens.  I can’t taste a thing.  I’ve been this way for several days.  In my initial panic, I randomly bounced from one food to the next, frantically taking oversized bites, telling myself, “Surely something will satisfy my taste buds.”

My teenage son is most amused by this predicament.  “Here mom, try this jalapeño and see if you can taste it!”  

 I watch others consume a bowl of ice cream…my absolute favorite food…and I salivate like Pavlov’s dog.  I hunger for the flavor of my own creamy frozen mixture complete with tart, juicy strawberries and crunchy hunks of chocolate.  Half-way to the freezer, I am struck with the image of the only physical sensation I will experience in such an indulgence–the coldness of a spoon on my tongue.

 Frustrated, I reached a point a few days ago where I ignored the roar of hunger pains.  I figured, “What’s the use?  If I can’t taste anything I might as well be eating the cardboard from the Domino’s delivery box rather than consume the calories from the pizza itself.”

 In the absence of food, it didn’t take long before I was weak and unable to complete even the simplest tasks without exhaustion.  Hunger had not escaped me.  Neither had my body’s on-going need for nutrition.  Denial would not alter that reality.  I only found myself feeling sicker. 

 Being the deeply spiritual woman I am, I complained to God about this situation.  Not far into my whiney tirade I stopped midsentence.  I heard myself saying, “Lord, I’m just not tasting ANYTHING and I want…”

 Pausing in embarrassed silence, I heard him say,Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Psalm 34:8.  The words linger on my heart like sweet honey on my tongue.

 Have your spiritual taste buds ever been on hold?

 Perhaps you are a devoted follower of Christ but you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have time everyday to spend feasting on God’s Word, alone and still before the Lord’s Table spread for you.  Life is demanding.  You hit the ground running, not pausing for even a small morsel of His goodness. 

 Perhaps you are child of God in a prodigal state, or perhaps a nonbeliever who has found yourself unable to taste the goodness of God.  You have run as I did from one promise of flavor to another, taking big bites of things you hoped would satisfy.  They didn’t.  Nor could they.  Maybe you dug into something you thought would be delicious only to find it left you cold and unfulfilled.  Your hunger pains did not subside.  In fact, they grew even louder.  Ultimately, your condition worsened and you felt sick.

 Jesus declared, “I am the Bread of Life.”  When we fail to taste of Him, we not only deplete our soul of spiritual nutrients, we steal strength from the rest of the Body.  We walk in our weak flesh and easily find ourselves exhausted from the simplest efforts.  The psalmist paints a desperate picture when he describes a heart that thirsts after Thee and a body wasted with longing for Thee like a dry and thirsty land that has no water…”,  Psalm 63:1 

 Yet the recognition of desperation for God is rewarded in the verses which follow:

 “Longing, I come before Thee in the sanctuary to look upon your power and your glory.  Your true love is better than life. Therefore, I will sing your praises.  And so I bless thee all my life and lift my hands in prayer.  I am satisfied as with a rich and sumptuous feast…”  Psalm 63:2-5

 The Bread of Life calls us to his banquet table.  He IS the rich and sumptuous feast.  He alone has the power to satisfy and to fill us.  In being filled, we not only find strength and power that sustains, we also experience His goodness.  As we come and still our hungry hearts before him, we indeed Taste and see that the Lord is GOOD.

Names Of Jesus

Recently I was blessed to be speaking to a group of women at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs about the names of Jesus.  What a GREAT time of sharing!  The women are wonderful and eagerly received the Word of God as I shared.  The main topic was Living Water but since they had been studying many different names of Jesus over the course of the past year, I wanted to show them how all the names fit together.


God gave me an idea for a simple demonstration using a cup full of rocks to help the audience visualize what happens when we fill our cup…symbolizing our heart vessel… with things other than water which represents the Living Water, Christ Jesus.  On each of the rocks I had written a single word of a problem or sin and next to it I wrote the Name of Jesus which applied to that particular issue. 


Many ladies have asked for a copy of this part of the message I shared so here you go:


“Stones take all kinds of shapes and sizes and some of them are even beautiful…like serving at church, teaching Bible study, volunteering for ministry purposes…but none are to take the place of Living Water.  Just as a glass was designed for water, You and I were designed by our Creator to receive Living Water.  Yet we fill our vessels with things that we were never designed for.


“So what happens when we come to Jesus, the Living Water with all our stones?  Jesus longs to fill us with Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit but look at the junk that’s in the way!  The stones are occupying space that belongs to Living Water. 


“What are the stones in your life occupying the place in your heart that was intended for Living Water alone?  How much are you missing out on because there’s just no room for Him?” 


“As I pull out stones, let them be a reminder of who Christ has taught us this year He is…”


A stone of confusion…Jesus told us that He is our Guidepost.  We don’t have to be confused, because He will guide us into all truth.   {Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 119:4-9; Jeremiah 31:21}


A stone called fear…We can get rid of that one in the name of Jesus because He is our PRINCE OF PEACE.  We have nothing to fear.  We walk in peace.  {Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; 26:3; Isaiah 32:17-18; Luke 1:67, 76-79; John 14:27, 16:33}


What about the stone called worry?  Jesus is our Provider, according to His riches in glory.  He knows what we need.  He provides.  {Phil 4:19; Genesis 22: 1-8; Matthew 14:19-20}


A favorite among Christian women, the stone of preoccupation with busyness.  We can loose that one in Jesus name…Jesus is our Good Shepherd who guards our going out and coming in, in Whom we can find rest.  {Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; John 10:2-3, 10:7-10}


This hideous stone of sinful appetites?  Jesus is our Bread of Life.  He satisfies our hunger and as we feast more & more on Him, we are filled, no room for other appetites.  {John 6:48-51, 53-58; John 6:35; Psalm 103}


The stone of unforgiveness?  He is our Bright, Morning Star that chases away the shadows of woundedness, the Light of the World that allows us to release the darkness of those who have hurt us. {Rev 22:16; Numbers 24:17; II Peter 1:16-19; Psalm 139: 11-12; Isaiah 29:18-19; Luke 1:78-79}


The stone of distrust of others?  Jesus is our Friend, we can trust Him.  {John 15:13; Proverbs 17:17; John 21:4-7; Proverbs 18:24}


The stone of loneliness?  Jesus is our ever present Husband.  {Isaiah 54:5-7; Rev. 19:6-9; Hosea 2:19-20}


The stone of striving?  Jesus is our Victor!  {I Cor. 15:57, I John 4:4; Luke 10:18-20; Matthew 28:18; II Cor. 10: 4-5}


Unhealthy habits?  Jesus is our Deliver.  {Luke 1:68-69; Job 5:19; I Co. 10:13; II Titus 4:18; II Peter 2; 9; Acts 5:18-19, 12:7}


The stone of anger?  Jesus is our Comforter/Helper.  {II Cor. 1:3,6; Psalm 77:2; Psalm 54:4}


Abandonment?  He is Emmanuel, God with us!  {Matthew 1:22-23; Matthew 28:20; Psalm 139:7-10}


The stone of selfishness?  Jesus is our Alpha & Omega…when we realize that it’s ALL about him, from beginning to end, there’s no place for selfishness.  {Isaiah 44:6, 48:12; Rev 1:7-8, 22:13}


Critical spirit, nagging, complaining?  Jesus is our Encourager, our JOY!  {Romans 14:17; John 15:9-16; Psalm 16:11, 43:4; Isaiah 61:7; Galatians 5:22}


And the stones of shame & guilt? Jesus is our High Priest, {Hebrews 4:14-16, 9:11-14; I Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:31-34} and the Lamb of God who forgives our sin.  {John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7; I Peter 1:18-21; Rev 5:6, 9-10}


Slowly the stones were removed from the cup until eventually the cup was empty and ready to be filled to overflowing with Water.


In the name of Jesus we can loose the heavy stones that weigh us down and occupy our vessels. When Jesus our Living Water comes to fill us as His vessels, we have a constant well springing up in us to give us a heart of worship in spirit and truth.  And in the name of Jesus we have heart vessels that overflow with Living Water, spilling over into the lives of those who count on us…husbands, children, family, friends, co-workers, even strangers at the grocery store…who need us to share this hope in us, the fountain of Living Water. 


There is no name that is stronger, no other name that can free us, no other name but the name of Jesus.  AMEN.

In Dry Places

Miles of beach with no ocean, mountains with no trees.  Sounds like the worst of both worlds.  I mean, I love the mountains and living in the Colorado Rockies I regularly spend time hiking and/or driving admiring the beauty of the mountainous terrain, trees and wildlife.  And at least once or twice a year I run away from home to get an “ocean fix” somewhere to listen to crashing waves, gather sea shells and wade into the coolness of the sea.  So it was strange to find myself in the Great Sand Dunes Wilderness with nothing but mountains of sand. No waves, no water, not even a single sea shell.  No trees, no wildlife, no vegetation.  Just sand. 


From the parking lot, the dunes don’t appear that challenging.  But within the first several steps of walking into deep shifting sand I was struck with the thought that this is not going to be an ordinary hill climb.  It was a bit like Michael Jackson’s moonwalk…I knew my feet were moving but they didn’t seem to be taking me forward.  I pressed on looking up to the top and calculating that I should reach it within half an hour.  That was my first mistake…miscalculating the “cost” of the experience.


Jesus said, “Who among you that does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple; for which of you intending to build…doesn’t sit down first and count the cost to determine if he has sufficient to finish?”  Luke 14:27-28


It didn’t take long to determine that this hike in & out of dunes would be much more strenuous than I originally expected.  Shoes full of sand & feeling as if I was navigating with cinder blocks on my feet, there were times when I congratulated myself for going 30 steps without stopping to catch my breath.  It didn’t help that I was there at the hottest part of the day.  I’ll have to ration my water supply or I’m going to run out, I told myself.  Not being able to drink in as much as I wanted was miserable.


I am nothing if not determined and so I continued for a solid hour to what I perceived was the peak.  Every so often I would turn to look down the mountain of sand at the poor souls just starting out, appearing the size of gnats, and because I could see how far I’d come already I was encouraged to keep going higher to the finish.  I was within a few feet of it when I was hit with the reality of a false pinnacle.  The climb had been so steep to this point that the view beyond was obstructed.  Only when I reached the “top” did I see that I had gone barely half way through this journey…there was at least another mile ahead of me that I had not expected.  My spirit sank and then it rebelled…that’s it.  I’m done.  No more.  I sat down with my half empty bottle of water and a piddly little snack bar that wouldn’t even begin to sooth my hunger pains…I wasn’t planning on being up there through lunch so I failed to bring enough to nourish my body.  I told myself the view from here is good enough.  I’ve got nothing to prove.   I’m not going on any further.  I sat down in the hot sand & complained by text message to a friend…


Ever found yourself there?  Sitting down in the middle of a half-finished journey, complaining that it’s just too hard to go on?  Possessing a sense of smugness as you compare yourself to others not as far along the climb?  Experiencing the sensation of going nowhere while the sands of life’s daily challenges keep shifting?  Heat pounding you as you struggle to climb out of a pit?  Feeling beat up by false peaks of life, where every time you think you’ve conquered some mountain in your path you find a bigger one up ahead?  So overwhelmed you’re able to move only short distances at a time before you feel the wind knocked out of you again?  Hungering with only a small snack in your spiritual belly because you failed to plan for the long haul? Parched & thirsting without living water to sustain you? 


It’s in times of walking through the barren dry places that God speaks…


I give Living Water  John 4:10, 14

I am the Bread of Life.  John 6: 35, 48

They shall not hunger or thirst neither shall the heat nor sun smite them.  For he that has mercy on them shall lead them, even by springs of water shall he guide them.   Isaiah 49:10


The refreshment of the Holy Spirit never leaves us.  Our place is to hunger & thirst after Christ, to come to the fountain and be filled, to never stop hungering & thirsting after the righteousness of God as we trudge in & out of the valleys & peaks of this thing called life.  We can give up when faced with ominous mountains in our path, telling ourselves that this view of God is “good enough”.  But what if we miss heaven, the angels, the Hallelujah Chorus?  What if we miss Christ altogether?  Let me encourage you to read Matthew 25:1-13 and diligently study the parable of the foolish virgins & the wise virgins.  Discover for yourself what it means to have a heart of good intentions but still not be prepared for the final part of your journey.


Exhausted, discouraged, hungry & frustrated I wanted the hike to end.  I justified why I didn’t need to go on any further.  But the words of a friend urged me in reply to my earlier whiney text message…“Quit texting and CLIMB! You can do it, Di !”  You can do it!  Someone believed in me at my lowest point and that was enough to keep me moving.  Three more ridges of false peaks and 95 minutes later I found myself at the pinnacle flat on my back making sand angels and singing the Hallelujah Chorus.     I was having a moment.  I had finally arrived.  A short while later came a second text from my friend… “look behind you at one set of footprints…”  The symbolism of Christ carrying me brought me to tears.


It has taken a couple of days to get the sand out of my car and my clothes and my ears!  But the exhilaration of reaching the top remains fresh in my spirit.  And the message of hope that inspired me is not forgotten. 


When you find yourself in the dry desolate places, listen to the voice of hope from your truest Friend, the One who tells you that you do not have to go it alone.  He loves you so much that He cannot get you out of His thoughts! 


“How precious are your thoughts toward me, oh God.  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the grains of sand…”  Psalm 139: 17-18


In dry places, know that it is He who carries you through the desolation and He who will deliver you from it. 


“I am He…I will carry you; I have made you & I will bear the burden.  I will carry you and bring you to deliverance.”  Isaiah 46: 4