On Microwaves and Crock-pots

Image result for crock-pot and microwave

I made a pot of beef stew this weekend and it got me thinking about crock-pots and microwaves.

I could have made the stew in the microwave, I suppose.
I mean, it is perfectly capable of cooking the beef, carrots and potatoes.
And it would have been ready much, much faster.
Minutes versus hours.

But I am glad I did not do it that way.
Because beef stew needs to be cooked slowly, over a low, consistent heat to be really good stuff.
(And it was really good stuff, if I do say so myself!)
The microwave could have technically achieved the mission.
But the crock-pot made the flavors meld.
It brought out the spices.
Tenderized the meat.
And melded the juices into a thick gravy.

All this made me think the life of faith.
And how often I choose microwave faith over crock-pot faith.

I have all the ingredients I need for a successful life of faith.
In fact, Peter says that, “His divine power has bestowed on us absolutely everything necessary for a dynamic spiritual life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
And I long for a great end product – a life that glorifies God, and the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I see Him face to face one day.

I have all the ingredients:
His Word
The Holy Spirit inside me to help illuminate those words
The ability to “come boldly to the throne of grace to find help in time of need”.
The gift of prayer, being able to talk to God anytime, anywhere, about anything.
Godly counsel of the “great cloud of witnesses” – men and women who have gone before me in this faith journey, who willingly share what they have learned, how they have seen God work, and even areas where I can improve.

So I have the ingredients.
But I rebel against the cooking method.
I want microwave faith to be in effect all the time.

In prayer, I want it to be that I ask and God instantly answers.
In a way I understand.
In a way I like.
To my satisfaction.

In learning, I want it to be that I read the Bible briefly, casually, in a few spare moments and become a spiritual giant.
Understanding it all clearly.
Applying it all perfectly.
Completely transformed in an instant.

In relationships, I want it to be that I do things God’s way and instantly have no conflict.
I forgive or am forgiven and everything is instantly restored.
I have a tough conversation and everyone ends up on the same page after a few moments.
I choose love and they choose love and we all live happily ever after.

In spiritual growth, I want it to be that I pop in a few great quotes from other godly people – or even a great book on the Christian life – and I am suddenly transformed.
Changed completely.
All better now.

Beep! The stew is done!
Without an extended period of heat.
Without it taking half of forever.
Just a few moments, a little bit of effort, a pinch of faith and a sprinkle of prayer and I am a spiritual success!

Microwave faith.

Which is incredibly rare in the Bible.
Yes, there are moments of great grace and glory where a prayer is answered instantly.
There are times when God moves quickly, rectifying a situation.
Times when the wait is small and the answer is huge.

But most of what I read in the Bible involves crock-pot faith.
• God promised Abraham a son and then waited until his body and Sarah’s were “as good as dead” to get them pregnant.
• Goliath mocked the people of God and had them cowering in fear for 40 days before God sent David to his brothers with a message from Dad – and unshakable faith that led to the giant’s death.
• Daniel was kidnapped from his home, taken as a slave to a pagan, godless kingdom, threatened by death numerous times because of his faith and died in that same pagan place, without ever seeing Israel restored.
• Even Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ closest friends, lived through their brother’s illness, the return of the messenger they had sent to Jesus to ask for help, their brother’s funeral and four days of mourning before Jesus showed up.
And so many more examples! Even the times where we have the record of the miracle – the man born blind, the woman with the bleeding, the little girl who died before Jesus physically got there – there is a backstory of pain, of waiting, of loss, of despair that leads to the miracle.

Crock=pot faith.
Because God can do anything in an instant.
But, as Rick Warren has said, ““God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.”
God knows that microwaved beef stew ingredients do not lead to same result, the yumminess that hours of heat and waiting will bring.

Not fun in the process.
Not fun at all.
But comforting to know these things:

The Master Chef of your life never leaves the kitchen while He is creating His masterpiece.
He is in complete control of the temperature, the time and every ingredient that goes in the pot of your life.
And He has promised to make every ingredient work together for your good and His glory if you know Him personally.
You cannot control the ingredients, the timing or the heat level – but you can take that “cooking time” and choose to spend it with Him. Wrestling in prayer. Giving thanks in all circumstances. Soaking in His Word. Asking His Spirit to illuminate His message for You. Resting in His goodness, regardless of what is happening around you.

Or you can fight the process. Decide The Chef is not good. Ditch His Word, prayer and any application to your life. Doing that won’t magically move you from crock-pot to microwave. In fact, it has a way of making the process longer. Less flavorful in the end. With an aftertaste of regret. Don’t worry – the Chef can redeem any stew. However, I would much rather follow His recipe in the first place for the very best results.

I wrestle with wanting some microwave-timed results in my life and in the lives of those I love. And I love when I see them happen. But my word to you today – and to myself – is to trust the Master Chef for the recipe of your life. The ingredients. The circumstances. The time. And the temperature. You can trust Him. He knows what He is doing!

8 Things That Will Be True On November 9

Image result for calendar pages November 9

1. God will still be Sovereign. Seated on His throne. In charge. At work. No matter who is elected.

2. God will not be surprised by who is elected. Daniel, who worked diligently for the government who had overthrown his homeland and destroyed it, wrote these words about God: He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings.” (Daniel 2)

3. Christ-followers will still be called to be known by our LOVE. (John 13) For each other. For the world. Regardless of party. Regardless of affiliation, color, belief system, agenda, gender, socio-economic status or opinion. Speaking the Truth IN LOVE. (Ephesians 4) Laying down our lives and taking up the cross. (Matthew 16) Loving our enemies. Praying for those who are against us. Walking the second mile, even though we are only required by law to walk the first. (Matthew 5-7)

4. We will still be commanded by God to pray for those in authority over us. (Romans 13, I Timothy 2, I Peter 2) Whether we like them or not. Whether we voted for them or not. Whether we think they are good or evil. Asking God to bless them. To give them wisdom. To help them to know Him personally. To be more concerned about their eternity than their policies. To see them as He sees them – the good, the bad and the ugly – and to love them as He loves them – unconditionally.

5. Christ-followers will still be residents of two Kingdoms – the seen and the unseen. And what we do with the unseen, eternal Kingdom will have a far greater impact than anything we can do with the one on earth. Prayer will still be powerful. Love will still be the most excellent way. Obedience will still be greater than sacrifice. Seeking God’s Kingdom first will still yield the very best results. And God will still be fully and completely trustworthy. (Matthew 6, James 5, I Corinthians 13, I Samuel 15)

6. The chief end of mankind will still be the glory of God. To live heartbeat to heartbeat for Him. No matter what our circumstances are. No matter who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. No matter who is on the Supreme Court. No matter how we feel. Life will still not be about us. It will be about Him. His glory. His honor. The things of eternity. This life will still be just the title page to an eternal story of our lives.

7. And most of our friends and neighbors right here and across the seas will still be heading for a Christ-less eternity. And we will still be the primary vessel for sharing the love of God with them. Still commanded to “Go and make disciples”. (Matthew 28) Still commanded to be the light, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5) Not to further any agenda of our own – but because God’s love compels us. (2 Corinthians 5)

8. And, finally, we can still expect to have trouble, trials and tribulation in this world. (John 16) But we can take heart, because Jesus has overcome the world. That was true in the time of the gladiators and Christians being fed to the lions. It was true in the Dark Ages. It was true during the Reformation. True during the Victorian Age. Throughout all wars. During the Holocaust. And even as our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering for bearing the name of Christ. The real battle has never been about politics. Or war. Or oil pipelines. It has never been about bathrooms. Or cakes. Or even e-mails. The war is not against flesh and blood. It is against the powers of darkness who don’t care how they divide us – they just want to shut us down and shut us up so that God’s Kingdom is squashed, squelched, and silenced. But the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us. And we have been called to fight using the Word of God against Satan and his forces. We have been called to fight on our knees. Not with each other. But against our common foe. Because we fight on the side of the soon and coming King. For the furtherance of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. (Ephesians 6, Matthew 6)