Friday, July 2, 2010

Ten Fruit Smoothie

Yesterday I went to Krogers with my friend Hilina to buy fruit. It felt like Noah's ark, because we got two of everything in the fruit stands: oranges, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwis, mangos, limes, and avacadoes (which isn't a fruit but it really wants to be). We had pineapple juice at home, which makes the 10th fruit.

Then last night, Hilina took all of these colorful foods and cut them up - you wash the blueberries and raspberries off, peel and slice the oranges, peel and dice the bananas, cut strawberries in half, peel and cut the kiwi into quarters, peel and dice the mango, cut the lime in half (squeeze juice over finished product), and cut, pit, and scoop out the avacado. The kitchen smelled so sweet and we all got sticky by tasting "the scraps" and licking the juice off our fingers.
Roshni claimed she didn't like kiwi or avacado or blueberries and wanted Hilina to leave them out. "But then it wouldn't be TEN fruit smoothie," I tried to reason, but six-year-olds rarely change their minds based on reason. Crafty manipulation seems to be much more effective. So I said, "Well that's fine, she can make you the boring kind and then she can add all the best stuff in for us to enjoy. It's probably best this way, so we don't have to share with you. Hilina, whatever you do, don't let Roshni have our special fruits!" And of course, this caused Roshni to want more than anything to try our "special fruits," and of course, she loved them, much to my mock dismay.
After all the slicing, dicing and scooping (in the case of our poor odd-ball avacado), Hilina started to fill the blender. Roshni thought the blender was too noisy, but I was actually quite impressed with how much power it had, to churn through such a variety of texture. There was so much fruit that Hilina couldn't fit it all in at once, so she blended down half the ingredients and slowly added more until the blender was completely full of mushy juice... or juicy mush...

I don't have a picture of the final product because, frankly, it isn't beautiful. It would never get a prize for being Aesthetically Pleasing. Looks a bit like mushy peas baby food. (Thank you, avacado!) But my goodness, is it delicious! And it's super-healthy too... no added sweetners, just pure fruit juice. I like to eat/drink mine slowly with a spoon, because if I concentrate, I can taste each fruit flavor and how they all work together and compliment each other.
I wrote a "Fruit of the Spirit" Bible study series a few years ago, comparing the qualities in Galatians to actual fruits. I think it might be really fun to adapt the fruitiness of it to match the ingredients for Ten Fruit Smoothie. Yes, there are ten fruits, and only nine fruit of the Spirit, but the lime twist could just be a fun addition. It would make a great object lesson... Hmmmm... nothing like fruit to get my creative Bible study juices flowing...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Single Purpose

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. ...Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-20

I'm thinking a lot this week about what my purpose for living is in Christ, and what that should look like. As I study Jesus' life, I'm convinced that my purpose it broad yet defined, and that daily life - with all the "interruptions" and "detours" that life brings - will be a response to this one purpose... for Jesus, his purpose was to do his Father's will, which was to die for the sins of the world. His 30+ year journey to the cross was full of zigzags created by relationships, teachings, and acts of love, and yet everything he did pointed to, led to, his main purpose.

My purpose is also to do the Father's will, and I think that he wants me to be an ambassador, carrying his message of reconciliation. On Tuesday afternoons, we have a class called Bridges, which trains us in how to speak to Muslim people about Jesus. Yesterday the teacher said that we need to have the attitude of an ambassador, representing our King and speaking on his behalf, demonstrating what it is like to be a citizen of Heaven... pointing people to Jesus, just as John the Baptist did. I think this is true of the way we should approach all people, not just Muslims. This is an occupation of joy and hope! It's not up to me to convince or change or fix anyone (the Holy Spirit is much more capable of that) - it's just to tell the good news of who Jesus is and what he can do, what he has done! What a beautiful purpose!

And it's simple, if I really believe in the message. And it is exciting, if I really reflect on Jesus' power at work in my own life. And it's natural, if I really abide in Christ and hug tight to his vine. It is not limited to location, people group, or even abilities and strength, because it is based solely on who I am in Christ. There is not a list of requirements or goals that I have to meet, because it is a lifestyle of following, trusting, and sharing that I just need to faithfully "roll along" in. When I do, my purpose will play itself out in everything I do and say, in every relationship I encounter.

I'm so thankful for my purpose, and I pray I will be faithful to it all my life.

Monday, June 28, 2010

losing life... keeping life...

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - John 12:24-26

I was slightly distracted by his impressive balancing act, so I don't remember much of what he said in the first part of his sermon yesterday... something about jumping into ministry and being fully trained to do a routine, I think... but... Who puts a gymnastics balance beam on the platform of a church... and furthermore, how many pastors do you know who will take their shoes off and jump up on the balance beam, walking back and forth on it with ease while they preach? Well, besides this pastor, maybe Alan Malchuk would... yes, I can see Alan doing something like this... As I said, I was distracted.

But then he crouched down and slowly, carefully, laid down and wrapped his arms and legs around the beam, holding on for dear life and not moving. Distracting? Yes. But also intriguing. I leaned forward to find out what he would say. He said it was an illustration of the prayer that so many Christians pray: "God, here I am! I want to be used by you, but I want to be safe." Lying there, wrapped around that beam, the pastor explained the paradox of John 12... that when we cling to our lives, longing for earthly safety and security, we miss life as God intended it. Jesus said he came to give life more abundantly, but we live a safe, boring Christian life, and we wonder why we feel unfulfilled.

Am I living too safe? I wondered. I mean, here I am, a missionary in a new place... but I'm still in America, in a nice house, with modern conveniences, and in the most mild weather this "distant land of Indiana" can offer... I take for granted that I will leave this place before the first blast of winter air hits. I really believe this is where God wants me to be right now, but I need to be careful not to assume this is a short-term mission trip that I will leave and go back to safety and familiarity in August. I don't think this is meant to be a temporary time of feeling better about myself as a Christian because I get to do some cool things for the Kingdom... I think it's more like a step deeper into the will of God. And I don't want to back-petal.

If I go back to Winston-Salem, what is my calling there? What do I do and how then shall I live? And if I go somewhere else, or return to this place, what will his mission be for me? Not safe... not refined... reckless faith... risky ministry... What will this look like? I have no idea yet. I just know I don't want to cling to the balance beam. I don't want my physical weaknesses and limitations to become excuses to not go and love and serve people wherever and however God wants me to. I want to jump on my balance beam and do the very best, most amazing routine I can, so that when I dismount, my Judge will be able to enthusiastically say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"