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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Are You a Carrot, An Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

By Anonymous ~

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked. "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another lever?

How do you handle Adversity? Are you a Carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean.
~ ~
We can be a coffee bean -- through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Image to Die For

In junior high school, I created collages of supermodels from magazines and pasted them all over my bedroom walls. Although my intention was merely to express myself and my aspirations, all these images did were create emotions of discontent and dissatisfaction with my own body and self-image.

Clare Boothe Luce, author and diplomat, said, “Advertising has done more to cause the social unrest of the twentieth century than any other single factors.” The American Psychological Association states, “The proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harming girls’ self-image and healthy development.”

Body image is one of the greatest pressures on our minds. Teens, in particular, are extremely susceptible to media images and celebrity diet stories. We persistently see celebrity’s improving their body images. Many learn quickly that the way to be popular and loved is through the sculpting of their body. Sadly, in the search for acceptance and the body beautiful, it becomes an obsession.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 51 percent of nine and ten-year-old girls feel better about themselves when they are dieting. By the age of thirteen, 53 percent of girls are unhappy with their body image. And by the age of seventeen, this figure jumps up to 78 percent. And this author, a baby boomer, feels the same way, as most of my female friends do. Experts warn if we don't do something about the demands, the consequences will be devastating.

Jesus took onto himself every one of our faults, each imperfection—all our sin. As a result a space was created—a hole in our soul, that “something,” which can only be filled by him. God created us in such a way that only those who seek Jesus will be filled. We will never be filled by following celebrities or pop culture.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Mind of Jesus Christ

If you are around my age you no doubt remember the hugely popular 1970’s TV show The Six Million Dollar Man. Steve Austin was the world's first bionic man. Soon after, a female Bionic Woman series debuted. Then it was The Terminator (1980’s), which also featured a buffed out female cohort. The fans couldn’t get enough. The sequels evolved into a franchise. Every decade produces it’s own superheroes and superheroines.

It’s easy to get lost in the pop cultures fantasies. The fact is, for Christians, we get something much more spectacular. God offers us something more valuable than all super human abilities put together. He gives his children the ability to have the mind of Christ. No lie! (1 Corinthians 2:16).

When you have the mind of Christ, your thought life doesn’t hurt you because we are no longer slaves to our darker tendencies. Instead of toxic and deceptive thoughts orchestrating negative and destructive actions, our thoughts can be purified—if we make a commitment to work with God. Negative thoughts can be discarded. The result—we are strengthened and healed. Then we are most apt to imitate the Master.
God equips us to make godly decisions. If it doesn’t fit who you are, a child of the Most High God, reject that thought.

Your position is secure in Christ. Therefore, respond accordingly. When hit with a tempting or impure thought reject it. Say: “That thought or action no longer fits who I am! God tells me to put this thought to death—die ugly, deadly thought!”
Paul knew that life was hard, but he also counseled people not to dwell on the negative. The road block of God says: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8, TLB).

If you know that when you open a magazine full of expensively dressed, skinny, beautiful women that it will be a temptation to imitate them or feel bad about yourself, throw the magazine away. Find something else, something pure, to grab your attention.

When that tabloid calls out, Buy me! I‘ve got such juicy gossip for you! choose to put up a road block. Buy a wholesome, godly type of magazine or nothing. Now you’re beginning to create a new, and soon well worn, track. When I’m told a co-worker needs a ride home, I don’t hide because it’s inconvenient to go out of my way, I offer to drive her, creating a new track.

“Think on.” It’s your choice, but it is also a command of God; we disobey it at the risk of disaster. We can choose to lower ourselves to the world’s standard, or put that tempting or lustful or greedy or prideful thought to death. It is work! We choose to put these things to death because they don’t fit who we are. We choose freedom so we can be real authentic ourselves.

It’s okay to admit you have a long way to go. I do too! Most of us struggle with petty sins, jealousy, pride, and toxic thinking. When we lay these mindsets down and put on Christ’s mind, we are able to enjoy a new dimension of happiness very few ever find in this world. True!

What mindsets and ruts are you setting by the convictions you choose to follow? The Bible says to “keep a close watch on all you do and think. Stay true to what is right and God will bless you and use you to help others” (1 Timothy 4:16, TLB). Don’t get discouraged if you are finding this difficult. It doesn’t come natural to most of us.