more than we can handle

God will never give you more than you can handle.

i understand the sentiment. you say this to someone going through a hard time but does that sentiment really comfort those going through hell on earth? nope. there are things that feel like more than we can handle because, they are. cancer. divorce. the loss of a child. addiction. chronic pain. bankruptcy. legal woes. bullying. spiritual warfare.

and does God promise us that He won’t give us more than we can handle?

Yeah, this is way to much for you. I am going to pull back and go easy on you, give you something you can handle on your own. I am going to keep you in the easy zone. I will never take you to a place that feels hard or beyond your ability. I will keep things cool so you never need to know what I can do. You will be comfortable. I will keep life at a slow and steady pace. Breezy and light. You will only need to pretend trust me because I will make the circumstances of life simple and manageable so you can just figure it all out on your own.

God doesn’t say those things. but God does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. He promises that He won’t tempt us beyond what we can endure…because He will provide a way out. He promises to strengthen us. He promises that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He promises that we are more than conquerers through Christ.

the biblical reality is that this life is a series of things that are beyond our control and that we cannot handle. things that are hard and even, horrific. God often gives us more than we can handle on our own so that God can win the battle through us. so we can look at that situation and say, “how did i have the strength for that? how did i come through that victoriously? who was that person who spoke those words in boldness and took that risk? where did that strength come from?” it came from God. it all comes from God. He gives us more than we can handle on our own to challenge our faith. to make us lean on His strength and rely on His provision. living a life that we can handle is boring. it doesn’t show people how big our God is and the mighty things that He can do with our lives. so here’s to the unhandleable things of life! Soli Deo Gloria!

a morning at the zoo

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when ben took a random vacation day this week, we decided to make the most of the morning and take a trip to the phoenix zoo. and naturally, we put on our fashionably sunnies for the occasion. elinor was so excited to go! she grabbed her sunnies and had them on well before we left the house. she grabbed her snuggles and her water and gave us an exuberant “ready!” as she strolled out the door. this girl means business. on the ride there, we discussed all the animals that we would be seeing and the excitement and noise level built. we did our best animal impressions in preparation. p.s. i am going to work on getting a live recording of elinor’s pig sound. hilarious. kind of a growl + snort hybrid and it gets me every time. all kinds of over-the-top. so you can imagine her delight when we got to the javelinas which actually make a similar sound. clearly, she knows that we are desert dwellers and our pigs are more likely to be javelina snorters than oinky pink farm piglets. too smart, this one.

we had such a lovely morning. except for having to view snake feeding time. not cool. very poor timing on our part. but, it was fun strolling around and learning and seeing cool animals. everything is way better when experiencing it with a toddler. well, not everything. a fancy five-star meal, not so much…

here are a few snaps from the day. i might interject a few remarks as we go…

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javelinas! they were so funny. rooting around and then taking a nice stroll around the perimeter of their habitat, just to show off.

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bald eagles. they were amazing.

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and this sassy face. also, amazing.

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elinor was pretty excited about the monkeys. she was making the loudest sounds…i think, in an attempt to communicate to them. she kept laughing and saying “silly monkey”.

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nourriture | hubby’s henceforth famous tortilla soup

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bonjour et bienvenue à la série de nourriture.

well, ben has done it again. in addition to his weekly bread baking (#bensbread) he has also decided that he would like to make us a big pot of delicious soup every week. i am one hundred percent behind this move. ’tis the season and there is nothing more comforting and yum than soup. pair that with some freshly baked bread and my week is made. so ben has really been knocking it out of the park around these parts. and elinor LOVES soup. and she especially loved this week’s creation. she gobbled up her entire bowl with all the toppings before we were even a third of the way through our servings. then she held it up in the air and gave us a definitely “more.” i think it made ben pretty happy.

all of that’s to say, you need this in your life. and so, ben so kindly jotted down his notes and method so that i could share it here with you. what a guy.

ingredients (yield: 3-4 servings)

  • 4 anaheim chiles, diced
  • 3-4 serrano chiles, diced
  • 1-2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 28 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced or crushed
  • 1-2 cans black beans
  • 2 cups corn
  • 1 bottle beer (lager)
  • 2 qts vegetable broth
  • TOPPINGS: tortilla chips of your choice (crushed), limes, sour cream, avocado. you could also add fresh peppers or hot sauce or shredded cheese or chicken…whatever tickles your fancy.

method: heat 2 tblsp evoo, add onions, garlic, and chiles. cook until lightly browned. add beer, scrape browned bits, allow the beer to reduce about one third. add can of tomatoes, and allow to boil for 15 min. Pour entire mixture into food processor, blend until smooth. Return to the pan, add vegetable broth. allow to boil, reduce to medium low. (roast or grill the corn kernels while the soup base is cooking) add black beans. cook for 20 minutes. add corn, cook for another 15 minutes. if too thin, add 1-2 tblsp corn flour.  to serve, top soup with sliced avocado, juice of half a lime, handful of crushed tortilla chips, and a big spoonful of sour cream…and anything else that sounds tasty.

enjoy!

on church

this whole “church as a business entity” concept drives me a tad bonkers. the focus on the target audience. the snazzy social media plan. the marketing. i know some of it is necessary. things need to be structured. you need to communicate. you want to do things excellently. but is all that really necessary?

maybe i am being naive or simple but shouldn’t the focus be on building up the Christ followers? teaching and equipping them for service. after all, the church is people.

remember the account of the early church in the book of acts? the followers of Christ went city to city sharing Christ with people. the message of the gospel was compelling and edgy and it drew a crowd. and when folks believed, they began to more formally gather together to talk about it and learn more. to grow and encourage and pray and worship.

the fastest growing religions in the world do not explode because their services are top-notch with the latest and greatest. they aren’t the coolest. it isn’t because of the band or the tech or the branding. it isn’t because the setup is super hip and trendy. it is because of the followers. the people. grow the people, grow the church, grow the religion. not the other way around. the point is not to try to draw more attention to a religion or a building or a particular denomination…the point is to draw more attention to Christ. Christ is the only true and appropriate focus.

we have to get over this idea that if we just this or that, we will reach everyone. we will attract our target audience. we will draw them in and win them over. Christ draws. Christ wins. Christ changes hearts. and He works in people. these people go out and live in a way that is attractive. living in a manner that looks different than the norm of this world. sure, they might dress like hipsters or listen to vinyl or drink local brew with their buddies and that’s okay…but that cool stuff does not make the gospel cool. what we do or listen to or wear does not make Christ appealing. Christ in us makes us appealing. Christ in us is different and attractive. and that is what interests folks. that is what makes people say, “i want some of that”. that is what makes people want to walk through the doors of a church. they don’t want to see the church versions of wordily things. they aren’t looking for a show or a concert or a feel-good joint. they don’t want more of the world. if they wanted more of the world, they know where to find that. the world serves up plenty of that stuff on the regular, in varying forms. they want something else. they want Christ.

people will be reached by the Christ followers that we build up in our churches. churches are not to be focused on attracting potential Christ followers. churches don’t need to focus on marketing Jesus properly and advertising the gospel. we don’t need to point to features and benefits of a product. the church is a service-based entity. the church serves the needs of the people. the church serves the needs of the community. and the needs of the people and the community have nothing to do with worship style or the pastor’s apparel or the coolness of a website. people need Jesus. communities need Jesus. churches are to point people to Jesus. talk about Jesus. be about Jesus. it is a gathering of Christ followers looking for more of Christ. wanting to get closer and closer. wanting to look more and more like Christ. and the more we look like Christ, the more people are attracted to us, and thus, attracted to the church.

ekklesia is about Christ. it is the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light”. (1 Peter 2:9) the called out ones are called to congregate. to pray and listen and encourage and worship. we then go out and share what Christ has done. we proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. we step into the dark and proclaim what Christ has done. we talk about the marvelous light. and when the Spirit draws and the scales fall from the eyes and the heart is softened toward the things of God…when the Heavenly and preordained work is accomplished, when salvation occurs, that person joins the ekklesia. they are nurtured and given an earthly place to call home as they sojourn to their ultimate home in Heaven. this is the church.