Cooked Bananas

I do not consider myself a picky eater. If you know me you can tell by my rather large stomach that I will eat almost much anything that is set before me. There is only a rather short list of items though that I cannot bring myself to eat. The items on the cannot eat list are; balut, insects, and cooked bananas. As I said it is a rather short list. Two of these items I have never tried to eat, balut and insects. Just the thought of eating an insect or balut is not appealing at all. I am sure if I were hungry enough I would try them but I have never been that hungry. Cooked bananas are a different story. I have tried repeatedly to eat them. Even in my favorite desert banana pudding, but I just cannot get past the texture of a cooked banana. That all changed this past week.
Being raised in the United States I only knew of one type of banana. Now I am in the Philippines and I have learned that there are different types of bananas. There are types of bananas that do not get that gross mushy yet firm texture to them. I was invited to a dinner the other day and on the menu was a couple types of sweat potatoes, dried fish, and cooked bananas. When I was handed my plate much to my anguish there lay two cooked bananas still in their skins. Being their guest I felt obliged to at least try to choke them down. When I finally built up the nerve to peel and eat one of the bananas I found much to my surprise that I actually liked them.
Many times we approach people with much the same attitude as I did the cooked banana. We go by our experiences with what looks to be the same thing and some times pass on approaching them. We are afraid that our prior negative experiences will be repeated. What we need to remember though is that every person is different just like the bananas. They may look the same on the outside but you have no idea what you will find on the inside when you in a matter of speaking peel off the outer layers.
2Pet. 3:9 tells us “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” It is not for us to judge people but to try to reach them. That is all that we can do because as Paul said in 1Cor.. 3:6-7 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” It is our job to plant or water what is planted. Because only God knows what will grow.

An Act of Love

Most of us have heard about the widow and her mite from the bible (Luke 21:1-4). Even though she only gave very little Jesus said she gave more than all the others. Now have you ever heard about Albert Lexie? It is probably safe to say that you have not. He is a real person, just as the widow of the bible, which has given $200,000 to Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. This is not the amazing part though. How he has managed to give so much is Albert is a show shiner of 32 years. So much like the widow, he does not have a lot of money to throw around. He shines shoes every day at the hospital for a mere five dollars a pair. Since 1981, though he has given every tip he has received to the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund. This fund is for sick children whose parents cannot afford to pay.

This man is an example of how to accomplish a lot one-step at a time. Many times, we will look at bible stories and think just that way about them. However, every now and again we are reminded that it does not take great wealth to make a difference. What it does take is a heart that loves people. Combine a loving heart with the willingness to give of yourself and anything is possible. You see it is not how much money the widow and Albert Lexie gave that makes them so special. It is the love they showed by giving up what they could use. In sacrificing, they allowed others to have a brighter future.

Mental Challenge

This past week I was reminded of a lesson I learned many years ago. I was asked to talk to a young man after he was suspended from school for fighting. The first thing I asked was his version of what happened. His response was “It was stupid he did not really deserve to be hit but he made me mad. He broke the necklace that my sister gave me and the next thing I knew I had hit him.” What made matters worse is he is one of the outstanding players on the school’s football team and the young man he hit was much smaller than he is.

After spending time, talking about the usual things such as how a necklace could be fixed or replaced, and how he may have really hurt the other young man involved. I asked him why he thought he reacted the way he had. He said, “I don’t know before I thought I had hit him.” It was then when the words of one of my superior officers in the military came back to me. Train your mind in how you want to react to a situation and that is what you will do. This is what we are now working on with him.

The same holds true for us as Christians. We need to be prepared to share the gospel wherever and whenever we have the chance. Many times, I fear we miss opportunities because we have not prepared our minds. Spend time each day thinking how you will respond to people who seem interested, and you may be surprised to find you do not miss as many opportunities

A Heart for Christ

While at the gym today one of the trainers made the comment that he would rather have someone that was not in perfect condition with heart than someone who looked like they were in good shape that did not have heart. This is not the first time I have heard this expression, but it is the first time I feel that it really made since. The man he was talking to was not a professional weight lifter but he was giving it his all. This is what the trainer likes to see. A person who will give everything they have is one who can accomplish what they set out to do regardless of the challenges.

Christ felt the same way. In Matthew 23, Jesus pronounces eight woes on the Scribes and Pharisees because of the way they acted. They looked good, and played the part of religious people well but they did not have a heart for Christ. They were not willing to give up what they had to gain true spirituality. Perhaps the most condemning words spoken here can be found in verse 5, which says, “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men for they broaden their Phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” What he was saying is you may look good but your heart is in the wrong place.

Today it is easy for one to look like a Christian. Many people do it every week when they make their weekly appearance at their local place of worship. The truth is that they do not have the heart to serve Christ the way he wants. Do you?

Got Milk?

Got milk? Most of us have heard that particular advertising slogan by the milk council. Their point is that milk is good for you and it is to a point. However, if you were to try to live on milk alone you could adversely suffer. The reason for this is, milk is high in cholesterol and fat, which is a cause of heart disease. Then two of the normally good aspects of milk would turn against you. Too much calcium could lead to bone spurs and too much vitamin-D could lead to vitamin-D toxicity. What it boils down to is that while you do need milk in your diet, you cannot live on milk alone.

The same holds true when it comes to the word of God. When we are new Christians, we need the milk or basic teachings of God’s word to grow. We are not ready for the deeper teachings of Christ at this point. To teach the deeper teachings of Christ to a new Christian would be like giving a steak to a baby. They would not be able to appreciate what they were being given.

On the other hand, there are Christians that try to live on the milk of God’s word alone. For one reason or another, they just never get past the simple teachings and end up depriving themselves of vital knowledge they need to grow in Christ. They are weak in their faith because of lack of spiritual nutrition. Eventually some even spiritually die. If you want to grow in your faith, try adding some of the deeper teachings of Christ in your spiritual diet and see how much you can grow.

Ghosts of the Past

Recently I had a discussion with a friend about what I would change in my life if I could change anything from my past.  This made me stop and think what I would change.  One thing I have always thought about is reducing the number of deaths I have witnessed.  Maybe I could go back and do better in school.  However the longer I thought about this the more, I concluded there is nothing I can change.  Like it or not we are a result of our life experiences.  To change one thing would change who I am.

We are not alone in feeling as if we want to change things in our lives.  Paul it seems had things that he wanted to change also. It is what the Lord told him that made a great impact on me.  He told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, power is perfected in weakness.”  No one knows what it was that Paul dealt with, but it is obvious that it was there for a reason.  This issue is what help Paul to be himself.  Paul may have not been the great apostle we now know if God removed that issue for Paul.

Therefore, the next time you are sitting there thinking that you wish you could change your past remember what God told Paul.  Change the way you think about what haunts you from your past.  Instead of the past being your enemy, make it your friend by realizing, that experience help to mold you into who you are today and God loves you the way you are.