You’ve Got Guts! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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How does Christ prepare a “fish”? The same way you might. Here’s the last of 6 installments using the example of fish to learn about our relationship with Christ.

Preparing a Fish, Step 4: Get Rid of the Fish Guts

You’ve Got Guts!  If someone like John Wayne said that to you, you could take it as a real compliment; but when the Bible states it … well, not so much. We’ll explain why in a moment.

When preparing a fish for your family, you usually want to cut off the head and tail. Those things don’t look too appetizing on the plate. One thing you’ll always want to do, though, is to make a slit down the fish’s belly and remove all the guts: the stomach and the intestines. If you don’t, when you sit down to eat, you won’t be having just fish for dinner; you’ll also be having everything your finny friend was having before you reeled him in. That’s right. You’ll be eating the contents of the fish’s stomach along with the — ahem — stuff in the fish’s intestines. Yech!  That’s not very appealing.

Well, when God prepares each us for a new life with Him, He also wants to get rid of our guts. No, He doesn’t want to remove our vital organs — this is not Frankenstein’s Lab Class. But we can liken our “guts” to our natural, “fleshly” appetites and inclinations — and those things are not appealing to God. Why? Because our natural inclinations always lead us to do the wrong thing. Ever hear the expression “My gut reaction”? Follow your gut, and you might be inclined to do something you’ll later regret, like punch that obnoxious coworker in the snout. (Yes, yes, we know he’s been asking for it, but you mustn’t give in to your gut feelings.)

In addition to the sometimes savage, usually impulsive inclinations of your gut, there also are equally savage appetites (cravings) that lead us to make impulsive choices. We’ll rush into a bad relationship without taking the time to think things through; we’ll charge a new outfit that’s on sale, or drop several bills on a cool entertainment gadget, without truly counting the cost of how we’ll afford it; and without giving a single thought to calories or how we’ll fit into the new jeans we bought last month, we’ll scarf down a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s — after we’ve polished off a large Domino’s pizza! Face it, our appetites can and often do control us.

Speaking of the appetite, ever pass McDonald’s and decide you’re about to have a Mac Attack? You may not even feel hungry until you spy those golden arches, but suddenly you swerve across two lanes of traffic and bounce over a curb for a pack of fries! Are you weird? No. There’s even a story in the Bible that illustrates the power of the appetite:

Ruh-roh! I rate too much!

In Genesis chapter 25, Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac, and his father’s favorite, was in line to inherit the lion’s share of Isaac’s estate and authority. Esau was to receive not simply an inheritance, but also Isaac’s position, power and prominence. This was his birthright as the firstborn son. It was his whole future … and he gave it all away in return for a bowl of stew! Yes, he sold his life for a bunch of beans. Hard to believe? But wait, that’s not all, folks: Esau wasn’t malnourished; nor had he gone days without a meal. He simply had a huge appetite and didn’t have enough discipline to say no to his stomach (his gut). No doubt, long after that meal became just another outdoor memory, Esau regretted his poor judgement and rash desicion. Poor guy was just a victim of a kosher Mac Attack!

Now, before any of our readers declare that food is not their problem, let’s point out that our appetites (our gut inclinations and cravings) take many forms. We may crave position, power, fame, fortune, things (you know, grown up toys), and even sex (hard to believe that one, right?).  In and of themselves, such things are not bad, nor is craving them a horrible thing. These are our natural inclinations and appetites, our gut feelings; what’s bad is when we allow ourselves to be controled by our appetites; When we eat so much sugar that we develop diabetes, or shop so much that we go in debt, or work so much to climb the ladder of success that we neglect and even risk losing our loved ones; or we … well, we’ll leave the last one to your imagination. Feeding our appetites may bring us temporary satisfaction, but it always comes at a price: our health, our freedom, our peace of mind, even our own self-respect.

Christ has a better plan for His fishes. He doesn’t want us controlled by our appetites; making decisions we’ll later regret (like Esau); shackled to our gut desires. Instead, He wants us to scoop out the guts. That’s how we prepare a fish and it’s how we prepare ourselves to lead healthy, productive, fulfilled lives without regrets, excessive debts, shackles or bonds. Scoop out the gut inclinations and appetites by asking God to help you live a disciplined life. Seek to do His will, not yours. Don’t be led by the things you want and crave, be led by God’s Word instead. Don’t buy in to that old Burger King ad to “Have it your way”; have it God’s way! In the long run, you’ll find it tastier, more (ful-)filling, and more nourishing. And you won’t need to buy larger jeans.

Take control:

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.”  (1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT)

“…Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (Galatians 5:16 NLT)

“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

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Do the Right Thing (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 20.12)

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Previously: Like King David, we creators and dreamers will have to face giants and weather our own Ziklag moments. But we can stay encouraged — during the tough times — by following the example of “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) and tapping into the power of praise and worship. To do so we must honor and exalt God — during those tough times — in spite of less than favorable circumstances, and in spite of how we feel.

By observing the life of David, the legendary dreamer and creator, we can learn several valuable lessons about praise and worship. Remember, before David was a giant-killer, before he became a warrior and a military leader, before he was the greatest king Israel ever had — long before he was a history-maker — he was a worshipper!

David is known as the great psalmist, a poet and musician who was called a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:27) He penned some of the most encouraging and inspiring verses in the Bible; but long before his beautiful psalms were published, to be read and enjoyed by millions of
people throughout the ages, David personally sang them to an audience of One: his loving Heavenly Father, the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 and John 10:11.

David learned to praise God while he was still an unknown — a “nobody” in the eyes of society — during countless lonely nights spent guarding his sheep. So, when he finally faced his greatest challenge at Ziklag, he knew exactly how to encourage himself in the Lord. Here are the lessons David learned firsthand about praise and worship:

  • Do the right thing! When all hell seems to be breaking loose, when we’re still waiting for God to answer our prayers, when we feel like crying and throwing in the towel, even if we feel God has let us down, we need to do the right thing and praise the Lord anyway. In fact, it’s during these Ziklag moments, when nothing seems to make sense, that we should (in the words of John Gray) “give Him a crazy praise!” That’s faith in action!
  • Take time to worship God when we’re all alone. Corporate praise and worship are important, but private praise parties — when it’s just you and the Lord — help to build your faith, and strengthen your relationship with God. Praise Him in the midst of pain and disappointment; when your heart is broken and eyes filled with tears.
  • Praise and worship God when you feel “stuck”: when your best efforts
    When “life” rains on your parade, do a “Gene Kelly” — and start singing in the rain!

    fail and your plans fall apart; when you still haven’t achieved your goals or fulfilled your dreams — and you just don’t get it!

  • Praise when you’re prayed out. Although we personally continue to pray in faith and expectancy, claiming God’s promises and waiting for our own breakthrough, we’ve had days when we felt “prayed out” and more than a little tired of asking. Perhaps you’ve been there. Like Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, we dreamers and creators can grow tired of “fighting the good fight of faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12) We can grow weary in well doing. (Galatians 6:9)

No matter how optimistic, energetic, faith-filled and steadfast we are, there will be times when we get just plain tuckered out! It’s during times such as these that we can still tap into the power of praise and worship, when we stop asking and just keep on exalting. It’s easy: we simply…

  • Praise God for who He is — NOT for whichever prayers He’s answered lately. Vicki Yohe’s song “Because of Who You Are” captures this truth perfectly. Check it out.

The next time you feel the blues coming on, slide a praise and worship CD into your car or home stereo system, and have a private praise party. Listen to songs of faith that minister to you — and sing along. Get out and participate in a corporate praise and worship service with a local faith congregation. Come back home and watch a DVD featuring praise music.

Or pull out an old hymnal and sing a few of those wonderful latter-day “psalms” such as “Great is Thy Faithfulness” or “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” or “It is Well with My Soul.” And for even more encouragement, Google the backstories of the creators who composed these classics — you’ll be amazed and blessed when you read of their trials and ultimate triumphs!

Fellow creators and dreamers, something supernatural happens when we praise and worship the Lord: God shows up and makes Himself at home! Because He inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3)

Praise and worship is a personal celebration with “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”

And when God shows up, sadness, discouragement, and depression must leave! To quote a few more lines of Paul Wilbur’s “The Shout of El Shaddai”: In your name powers of darkness tremble; Jericho tumbles to the ground! In your name chains of death are broken; Lord of Hosts, pour your power out!

So praise and worship the Creator of the Universe, who gives us every good thing from above, including our gifts and talents, dreams and creativity — not to mention life itself! (James 1:17) No matter how you feel, no matter how your plans are going, it’s always the right thing to do.

Click here to all the Boot Camp lessons.

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