Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dreaming About Doughnuts

They say that what you eat influences what you dream.

Lately I've been eating a lot of salad (spinach salad, to be exact), and having a lot of tasty (and guilty) dreams.

For example, the other night I dreamed that I went to Dunkin' Donuts and ate a glazed chocolate cake doughnut (the same kind in the picture above), but then I saw that they had cinnamon rolls and I really, really wanted one because they looked just like the ones they sold at the doughnut shop down the street when I was a kid (do you remember those, Mom? They were soooo good). I struggled with the decision: eat a cinnamon roll, even though you've already had a doughnut? Or do the right thing and walk on by? I'm pretty sure I ate the cinnamon roll, since I woke up feeling guilty.

Then I went to Starbucks, but instead of being a customer, I worked there. People kept on ordering a "café cortado" but the espresso machine gave me a different amount each time, so I couldn't get the coffee to milk ratio right. How frustrating! Not to mention that you can't actually get a "café cortado" at Starbucks. But hey - anything can happen when it's a dream!

Hm. So I ate salad, and I dreamed about doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and coffee. Interesting.

Then last night (after eating salad again) I dreamed that I was walking through the Hipercor grocery store looking for some kind of pink yummy deliciousness (it was a made up pastry that surely doesn't exist in the non-dream world). While walking through the aisles I saw all kinds of ham, chorizo, and sausages, peanut butter, and various other tasty eats while in search of my mysterious pink baked good. My alarm clock woke me up before I was able to find it, so at least I was saved from the stress of having to decide if one moment of heaven for my taste buds was worth the miles I would have to run to undue such catastrophic caloric havoc.

After eating salad for dinner two nights in a row, I've dreamed about sugary-sweet, baked confections two nights in a row.

So I'm wondering: if tonight I eat doughnuts for dinner, will I dream about salad?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Friends! Bowling! Food! Fire!

Last Thursday night while facebook stalking, I realized that somebody was passing through my town. And that somebody was...


Amber and I were in Phi Lamb together at A&M (and IMPACT, too) and I hadn't seen her in a year and a half. She didn't even realize I was living here, so she had already been here 2 or 3 days when I found out she was in town. Luckily, she had a phone so we were able to coordinate and get together for a few hours Friday afternoon. What a happy surprise!

Then on Saturday night, my home group from church went bowling.

I started the night off with a strike! I was hoping that was a good sign, but alas, my luck slowly ran out from there. I LOVE bowling, but I'm really hard on myself because I took a class at A&M and therefore should theoretically be a super bowler. Sadly, however, I am not. I'm pretty good at knocking down 9 pins but I can just never seem to get all 10! Despite my sad score I still had a great time.

Then my friend Damaris invited me to her parent's house for Sunday lunch.

We had a dish called "Cocido" which basically means "cooked." It's a traditional dish all over the country, but each region has it's own special way of doing it. At her parents house, we started with a soup with a thick broth and noodles. Here I am with my soup:

Then you have a selection of other ingredients, that you can either add to the soup to make a stew, or eat separately. Like this cabbage:

I chose to eat mine all together, like a stew on steroids:

My plate included cabbage with fried garlic, garbanzo beans, chicken, a pig's ear, some other kind of meat (it was good, whatever it was), and chorizo.

Chorizo is one of my favorite things ever. Too bad it makes you fat (everything good does).

The pig's ear, however, was not my favorite. It didn't taste bad, but in general I don't like eating stuff that has skin on it. Even chicken, unless that fatty chicken skin is super crispy, I don't care for it. And well, pigskin is no better. The meat was fine, but the skin...was kinda like a chewy, tasty football. But hey, at least now I know!

Then on the way home from church that night I hopped on the metro only to smell something like burning rubber. At first it was just a smell, but soon the car began to fill up with smoke. We all got off and saw that the smoke was coming from underneath where we had been sitting. The driver ordered everybody off and soon somebody had a fire extinguisher and put out the flames. I walked a little ways off from the scene and took a picture after the fact:

It may look like any normal metro station, but what you can't see in this picture is the smoke. There was a lot of it, but because it was a few cars down the platform (I didn't want to take a picture right where it happened - what if it blew up or something?) and a bit had cleared by the time I got my camera out, you can't see just how dramatic the scene was. But use your imagination. There was a lot of smoke.

In case you're wondering (and I'm sure my mom is), I did NOT get back on the metro that night. I walked the 25ish minutes home from there in the cold, dark night. :)

In other news, I ate a pomegranate today and got juice all over my shirt. I have a feeling this shirt will never be the same colo(u)r again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sin and Salvation

Growing up, the Word of God was always around me. Family, friends, church - nearly everybody I spent any significant amount of time with was a Christian. I still found plenty of opportunities to sin (oh how those memories pain me!), but the constant support and accountability of the believers around me protected me from so much more than I could know.

Today during my devotional, God reminded me that despite my outwardly "clean" record*, I must stay on guard against sin in my life.

Butch (my pastor in college) always said that ANYBODY is capable of ANY sin.

I believed him - never doubted for one moment.

I knew that I sinned (and still do) every day, and while in general those sins tend to be what in human terms we might consider "insignificant," NO SIN is ever "insignificant" in God's eyes.

God said "Be holy, because I am holy." (Lev 11:45)

And just like he did for the Israelites, God gives us a choice:

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees, and laws...now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Deut 28:15-20)

It seems so simple, right?

Choose life. Avoid sin. Simple as that.

But in our striving for holiness we find ourselves identifying with Paul:

"What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out...for in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." (Romans 7:15-23)

Now that I'm living outside of my "Christian bubble" I see that there are opportunities to sin all around me. It's so much easier for me to understand why non-Christians live the way they do.

Sometimes sin even looks like fun. If it didn't, nobody would ever do it.

It would be so easy for me to sin. Nobody would ever have to know about it.

But God would know.

His Holy Spirit living in me would convict me.

The blood of Christ that covers all my sins, past, present and future, is on my hands.

Thankfully, that same blood that is on my hands is the blood that saves me. That blood washes me white as snow.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, be we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now have received reconciliation." (Romans 5:8-11)

But our reconciliation with God - God's grace, his forgiveness and mercy - does not give us a license to continue sinning.

Just because the command to be holy was in the Old Testament doesn't mean it no longer applies.

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:14-16 (That's the NEW Testament in case you're unsure!)

"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." 1 Peter 2:11-12

There are a lot more verses like that, but I'll let two suffice for the moment.

God had to tell us so many times because we are hard-headed and stubborn. He wasn't kidding. He REALLY does want us to be holy. Not just "kinda sorta" holy, but REALLY holy. And as holy as you may think you are, let us not forget that ANYBODY is capable of ANY sin.

Recently I found out that two people, Christians, who many looked up to as Godly leaders, are suffering the consequences of sin. **

I never would have expected it from them. It broke my heart - for them, for their ministries, for younger Christians who looked to them as examples, and because I know that their sin pains the heart of God.

I've spent most of the past week thinking, "How could this happen? What went wrong?" I feel like something is squeezing my insides, making me sick.

Butch's words resound once again: ANYBODY is capable of ANY sin.

And I KNOW that I too am capable of the same sin. We all are.

In Luke 11:24-26, Jesus says,

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."

Now most of us probably haven't been possessed by an evil spirit, but we ALL most certainly are tempted by them on a daily basis.

And isn't it true that whenever we give our lives to Christ and He frees us from that sin, Satan gets ticked off and comes back to tempt us again?

The enemy wants to make us slaves again.

Thankfully, if we are already sealed by the Holy Spirit, he can never again have our souls. But he can make us ineffective. He can overwhelm us with guilt. He is, after all, the great accuser. We can fall back into the same old sin. And it certainly won't be any better the second time around.

No amount of strength, determination, or willpower of my own will prevent me from falling into my old sin or any new ones, for that matter.

"For it is by grace you have been saved - through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

My works can't save me. Only the grace of God can do that.

I can "sweep up" and "put in order" all I want, but unless there is somebody living inside my house who is more powerful than the one who comes to "steal, kill, and destroy," I'm fair game and I WILL fall.***

Jesus wasn't kidding when he said that our flesh is weak:

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Matthew 26:41

Maybe it's just me, but my flesh is particularly weak. Put a block of chocolate in front of me, and it's gone in a moment. A good looking guy says some pretty words to me, and my mind has gone places it shouldn't. Show me a pretty girl who sings beautifully, plays sports like a superstar, and saves children in Africa, all with perfect hair and jealously begins to seep in. You think I'm kidding but I'm not (it always seemed like there were lots of girls like that at Texas A&M!).

So what are we to do?

Live in the Spirit.

The same Holy Spirit that lives in you and me as believers is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. We have access to the power of the Spirit (see Eph 1:19-20)

Paul says in Galatians 5:16:

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

He also states that "the acts of the sinful nature are obvious" in verse 19. I can totally picture Paul saying "it's so oooobvious." He probably considered putting a "duh" in there, but refrained so as not to insult anybody's intelligence.

Paul goes into a little more detail about how to do this:

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Eph 6:13-18


Christ told us to WATCH and PRAY.

Paul said to PRAY and BE ALERT (which sounds kinda like "watch," right?).

Jesus fought the devil's temptations with scripture.

Paul said to take the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

So we should PRAY.



The devil is out there prowling around, looking for ways to make us fall. For those who don't know the Lord, the devil wants to keep you from experiencing the abundant life that Christ offers.

For those of us who have given our lives to Christ, the devil doesn't want anybody else to know the Lord as a result of your testimony. So he's going to try to make you fall. And in the process, he will steal your joy.

We are all sure to fall sometimes. We all make mistakes. Paul spoke to Christ on the road to Damascus and still struggled. Peter spent 3 years with Jesus, watching his miracles and still denied him three times. David, who God called a man after his own heart, was an adulterer and a murderer. And yet Romans 8:1-2 says:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."

Christ came to set us free from sin. So let's BE FREE.

In conclusion, here's the dealio (a summary, if you will):

We're all sinners. (Romans 3:23)

God wants us to be holy because he is holy (Leviticus 11:45)

We can't be holy on our own, so he sent his son Christ to die for us. He then rose from the dead to conquer death prove his divinity. (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

If we put our trust in Christ, we are reconciled to God - we are "saved" from our sins. (Romans 10:9-10)

Once we are Christians, our flesh and our spirit will continue battling, but even when we sin again, Christ's blood has already provided forgiveness. So the goal is to minimize this sin and live lives that are pleasing to him. We do this by living in the Spirit. (Romans 7)

We live in the Spirit by:


Knowing and applying his WORD.

Staying ALERT.

Well, that's the simplified version anyway.

*I say it's an outwardly "clean" record because most people look at me and say, "that's a good person." I never slept around, got drunk, got in trouble with the police, etc. But despite all of that, I know that in my heart I am NOT AT ALL a good person and my sin is just as ugly as the next person's.

**I mention this not to condemn these people but to show that even the most Godly people can make terrible mistakes. Those who are in leadership (official or unofficial) must be even more careful to be above reproach. The rest of us must be careful not to place anybody on a pedestal. Man will always fail us. Only God is worthy of our trust and he will always be faithful.

***As somebody who already has the Holy Spirit living in me, I cannot lose my salvation. But I can choose to ignore the Spirit's leading and open the door to temptation. Temptation is always calling, but it is my choice whether or not to give in.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of god;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
the statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
the precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.