Tag Archives: James

Be a Real Tomato

Ever picked a tomato out of your garden and chomped down on it right away, letting the juice run down your chin?  Remember the incredible explosion of taste?  I challenge you to repeat that experience with any tomato you find at the store.  The primary motive of those who grew tomatoes for the store was making money not developing taste.  In the eyes of business, it takes too long to let a tomato grow naturally.  It’s too expensive to grow tomatoes for deep rich taste.  They work for tomatoes that look good, don’t bruise and survive lengthy warehousing and shipping.   That’s why store-bought tomatoes aren’t tasty.

There’s an illustration there about the difference between living by the ways of the world and living by the ways of God.  The world’s ways are all about making money and having stuff.  The world is more concerned with looks than it is with taste.  God intends for us to live and grow in His garden, receiving His provision on His schedule – all the things Jesus meant by “daily bread.”  The ways of God may seem inefficient to the world, but God’s ways develop “tasty” people.  When we grow and develop in harmony with God’s ways, life is better – it just is.  If you understand that, this quote from James doesn’t seem as harsh as it otherwise would:

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

At first glance, that sounds like the angry utterance of someone who thinks it is sinful to enjoy life!  But what James is really saying is, “Be a real tomato!”  Live and grow in God’s garden in step with His ways and in harmony with His rhythms.  Receive your daily bread with gratitude and joy.  If you go chasing after beauty, riches and fame you just may achieve those things.  But you’ll miss out on the tastiest life.  Instead, look to your Father with humility and thankfulness.  Be a real tomato.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


Better Bread

When you sink your teeth into good sourdough, the crust fights back a little; it’s chewy and a bit tough.  Making bread has been a hobby of mine for years and I’ve developed methods that work pretty well. But when I spotted a used copy of Peter Reinhart’s “Crust and Crumb” down at Barbwire Books, I snatched it up.  Peter writes about how to make “world class bread,” bread that is “good beyond belief.”  When I read that line, I had to have the book.

I keep “Crust and Crumb” by my easy chair and frequently browse through it, absorbing what he has to say. Peter’s recipes were very much like the ones I had been using.  But he spends most of the book describing specific ways to form and handle the dough.  Some of those methods require several days to make a batch of bread and seemed unnecessarily tedious to me.  So, I modified his methods with a few personal shortcuts here and there. My sourdough was improved somewhat but was not yet “good beyond belief.”  In reflecting on what was wrong, it occurred to me that perhaps I’d get better results if I actually followed Reinharts instructions. (Duh!)  Last time I made sourdough, I followed his methods to the letter.  Oh my goodness…  Not yet good beyond belief but it’s getting there…

It’s very easy to make the same mistake with the Bible – keep it by the easy chair, browse through it and modify what it says to suit what seems doable.  Throw in a personal shortcut here or there.  Here’s what Jesus’ brother Jim said about that:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25, NIV)

Just do it.  Like the bread, you won’t be “good beyond belief” but you’ll be heading in that direction.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Affair Protection

Is your marriage vulnerable?  Might one of you have an affair?  There is a very simple and yet powerful way to protect it.  It’s found in just one verse in the Book of James.  If you actually do what this says, you could “affair-proof” your marriage.  This verse is easy to understand but hard to remember to do because it runs contrary to human nature.

Here it is:

” My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19)

When you are in a conversation that is even slightly adversarial, while your partner is speaking, isn’t it true that you seem to listen, but are really thinking through how you are going to respond?  Coming up with some killer logic, so you can win the argument and emerge the victor?  That is what most people do. It’s human nature.

But if, instead, you put aside your own thoughts and rebuttals and actively try to understand what your partner really means and also how they really feel, you will be amazed at how it changes things.  If, before you respond with your own thoughts, you take a moment to make sure you really have understood your partner, understood him or her to their satisfaction, that one little move will really calm the storm.

But it gets better than that, especially in a marriage.  When people “fall in love” they spend a lot of time listening to one another and really trying to understand one another.  It’s a key ingredient in romance.  Think back to your first dates if you don’t believe me.  When a marriage goes stale, if one partner begins to listen – really listen – in an active and interested way, it’s amazing how quickly that one simple thing can begin to restore the lost romance.  It’s like maple syrup on pancakes.

Listening to really understand your partner is an effective way to “affair-proof” your marriage.  Most affairs do not begin with sex.  They begin with listening.  When someone seems really interested in you.  You know the old line: “My spouse doesn’t understand me…”  And it goes from there…

Marriage counselors charge $100 an hour – maybe more.  Apply James 1:19 and you can save a bunch of money.  Probably save your marriage, too.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.