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Living on Strained Carrots

A jar of baby foodRecently I spoke at the chapel time for a Christian High School. It’s a little long for a devotional, but it can easily be chewed down to size. So without further ado, here is “Living on Strained Carrots”.

Game: Double or Nothing

Three contestants are blindfolded, and they try to guess what object they hold. If they are right, they win the object. Then if they correctly answer the bonus question about that object, they will double their prize. (Pop, Doritos, and a jar of baby food – for the bonus: What flavor?)

Imagine that it’s Christmas time. Christmas day, actually. All of your relatives have arrived and it’s time for the feast. There’s a big turkey (or ham or whatever your family usually eats complete with all the trimmings. There’s all this food just waiting to be consumed, some one asks the blessing on the food and everyone digs in – except you. For you, your mom or your dad cracks open a jar of Gerber’s “Broccoli, Potato, and Cheese Casserole” and start shoveling it in.

How would that make you feel? If that really happened to you, how would you feel?

For me, I’d first of all feel disgusted: Baby food really doesn’t taste that good. It doesn’t even smell good.

Secondly, I’d be humiliated. Here I am, a grown man, and someone else is feeding me baby food. It’s bad enough to be eating baby food, but for some one else to be feeding you – humiliating.

Are you thankful that you do not have to be spoon-fed by someone else?

My Story

One of my biggest struggles as a Christian has been learning to feed myself spiritually. I grew up in a Christian family and have been surrounded by “Christian” stuff since I was a kid.

  • Christian school
  • Christian college
  • Christian camps during the summer
  • Christian job

I was super-saturated with “Christian” stuff? Some of you guys can probably relate. And because I was always in a Christian environment, all of my nourishment for my spiritual life was spoon-fed to me.
My family had devotions every day, [spoonful] my school had devotions every day [spoonful], there was staff devotions each day at camp [spoonful]. At school I had to memorize verses in each of my subjects [spoonful], plus a 15 – 25 verse passage each month [spoonful]. At camp I got to hear fantastic speakers share God’s Word twice a day [spoonful] [spoonful].
I was being well-fed. My spiritually life was pretty good. But there was a problem. What do you think happened when I graduated from school, and moved out on my own?

  • Family devotions – don’t have those anymore.
  • Bible memory at school – don’t have that anymore.
  • Fantastic camp speakers twice a day – don’t have that anymore.

The spoonfuls of baby food stopped coming – If I didn’t learn to feed myself, I would spiritually starve. My relationship with Christ would pretty much non-existent.

How About You?

I wonder about some of you? If you up and moved to L.A. tomorrow away from anyone you knew…

  • …how much Bible would you read?
  • …how many verses would you memorize?
  • …how much time each day would you spend studying God’s Word?

Would you get spiritually fat and have an awesome relationship with Christ? Or would you spiritually starve?

Here’s a couple of tests to see if you’ve been feeding yourself:

  • Test #1: How many verses have you memorized in the past year? Not because they were required for school – not for any church program – just because you decided to.
  • Test #2: Have you ever been to camp or a retreat or some conference like Missions fest or Break Forth, where you got really spiritually built up and left on that “spiritual high”, only to find yourself back down in the dumps a few weeks later? Could it be that after such a spiritual feast, you went back to baby food?

Do you see what I’m getting at? You’ve got to learn to feed yourself. This is YOUR relationship with Christ – YOU’VE got to be the one to take care of it.

Feed Yourself

I sure don’t want to starve in my relationship with God. I’ve felt spiritually empty before. I’ve felt distant from God. I don’t like it.

I want to be super close with Jesus. I want to have a permanent “spiritual high”. I want to have a REAL relationship with the God. I don’t want spiritual baby food – I want Doritos! I want to be spiritually fat! And maybe there’s one or two of you guys that want that too.

If you’re one of those people, let me give you just four things you can do to feed yourself. This certainly isn’t an all inclusive list, but it’ll give you a good start. And to help you remember it just a little bit, think of each item as a Dorito.

Dorito #1. Read God’s Word

Doritos Acts 17:11 – “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

These Berean guys examined the Scriptures every day. Every day. These guys ate Dorito #1 every day.

Everyone stand up. Remain standing if you’ve read your Bible this year without anyone telling you to, because you wanted to. This Month… Week. Today. Every day this week.

I challenge you guys – if you don’t want to be spiritually starving – if you want to have a fulfilling, life changing relationship with God – starting reading your Bible every day. It doesn’t have to be 17 chapters – start with just a verse. How long does that take? (Time me reading Acts 17:11) Can’t you spare ____ seconds of your day to get to know God a little better? Dorito #1: Read God’s Word

And for you guys that already do read your Bible every day, can I challenge you to actually think about what you read – not the open, read, close, forget kind of devotions. I know about those. Be like those Bereans and EXAMINE the Scriptures – find out what God wants to say to you.

Dorito #2: Memorize God’s Word

Psalm 119:11 – “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

How many of you have memorized that verse? How many of you do what that verse says? I memorized all kinds of verses in school, but I would bet that I haven’t memorized more than 30 verses since I graduated. That’s being spoon-fed. I need to work on Dorito #2: Memorize God’s Word.

Dorito #3: Meditate on God’s Word

Psalm 119:97 – “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

Do you guys know what it means to meditate? Cows meditate their cud. They bite it off, chew it up and swallow it. A little later, they bring it back up and chew it again. Then they swallow it. Then they do it again. That’s meditating.

The Psalmist chewed on God’s Word all day. He’d read a great verse in the Bible and then he’d think about it all day.

How often do you do that? I know I’m much more likely to read a great verse, say “That’s a great verse!” and then never give it a second thought. You and I gotta eat Dorito #3: Meditate on God’s Word

Here’s a couple of things I’ve tried to help me remember to meditate.

  1. For a while, whenever I read a verse that jumped out to me, I’d write it out and stick it up on the wall of my office. Then throughout the day, I’d glance up and see the verse. Another good place to post them would be the bathroom. Put them anywhere that you would regularly see them.
  2. Another thing I’ve tried is to write it on a little pice of paper and put it in my pocket. Occasionally when I’d feel that paper in my pocket, I’d pull it out and read it.
  3. Be creative. Do what works for you to help you remember to meditate on God’s Word.

Dorito #4: Live It Out

James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Let’s say you have a delicious burger bursting with goodness. You pick it up, take a big bite, chew it up, and spit it out. How much nourishment does your body get? Zip. Naughta.

The same thing applies to everything we’ve talked about. If you read a verse about ‘honoring your father and mother’, you memorize it, you think about that verse all day long, then lip off your mom when you get home from school – what’s the point? You have to live it out. Make it part of your life. Simple to say, but tougher to do.

So there you have it. Four Doritos to help you feed yourself. Four things you can do to keep from spiritual starvation. Don’t be content to be spoon-fed. Get eating some of those Doritos.

A rehashed version of this devotion geared for elementary students can be found here: Eatin’ That “Christian Food” 

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