Choices: Contentment or Craving, Need or Desire

What do you crave? Chocolate perhaps tops my craving chart; ice cream might head my husband’s crave list. Cravings are attached to desire rather than need. Learning the secret of contentment requires wisdom to know the difference.

God often gets my attention through simple everyday activities. Recently, I was reminded of just such an incident that occurred several years ago.

In the Barn

A mature cow delivered a healthy black calf on a fine spring day. In inexplicable rage she immediately attempted to kill it! I’m not exaggerating! Her whole intention was the destruction of her newborn baby. After rescuing the little one, we put them into the calving barn to give opportunity to “mother up”. However, every brain cell she possessed seemed to collide with that notion!

Several times a day for the next three days, the only way her baby was able to nurse was to confine this stubborn cow in a squeeze chute to prevent her from either kicking or bunting her beautiful baby to death.

During one such feeding episode, fatigued and frustrated I yelled in exasperation, “What is wrong with you? You have a perfectly good baby and you don’t want it? Wise up!”

Instantly I sensed the Lord’s reprimand upon my heart, “MaryAnn, how many times have I given you my perfect gift?  You have rejected and refused it, craving something else.”

Ouch! God’s word hit the target! I knelt in the fresh straw, acknowledging my own foolish stubbornness, as I sought God’s forgiveness through repentance.

Almost simultaneously, the cow in front of me seemed to have an equally profound change of heart. She began to nuzzle her baby, mooing softly and gently to her little one.

Tears ran unrestrained down my cheeks as I realized God was willing to use this not-so-spiritual barn and animals to speak truth regarding my misaligned heart attitude.

Craving Other Food

It had been a couple of years since the Israelites had escaped Egypt. Any positive inclination they may have had was fading fast.

“Now the people complained
about their hardships
in the hearing of the LORD…”
Numbers 11:1

I have an extremely low tolerance for grumbling — unless, of course, if it is me doing the complaining. Don’t get me wrong! I’m quite “Christian” about it! It starts as mild discontent, a touch of cynicism, a pinch of fussing, a bit of criticism here and a little grievance there. If left unchecked, however, the petty picking multiplies rapidly and exponentially.

It is almost humorous to listen to these grumblers,

If only we had meat to eat!
We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost —
also the cucumbers, melons,
leeks, onions and garlic.”
Numbers 11:4,5

No cost? The true cost of slavery was completely evaporating from their foolish minds; the depth of suffering they endured in Egypt was becoming nothing more than fading memory. How quickly they were forgetting how they “groaned in their slavery and cried out“.  (Exodus 2:23, 3:7,8)

Craving Multiplied

The craving of a few spread like deadly gangrene infecting the entire camp.

“Moses heard the people of every family
wailing at the entrance to their tents.
The LORD became exceedingly angry
and Moses was troubled.”
Numbers 11:10

Unchecked internal grumbling will soon push its way to the surface, rising like a volcanic explosion spewing toxic debris everywhere and on everyone!

Notice the difference between the Lord’s and Moses’ perspective — The One angry, the other troubled. God was the One who heard their groaning, responded to their cries, and provided supernatural rescue.  Today, these complainers lacked nothing!

He was, and still is, the LORD who Provides! Daily God covered them with a cloud of protection, shielding them from the desert heat. He, Himself, was their night light, a pillar of fire, warding off imposing darkness. That’s not all!

They all ate the same spiritual food
and drank the same spiritual drink;
for they drank from the spiritual rock
that accompanied them,
and that rock was Christ.”
1 Corinthians 10:3,4

What more could they need? Nothing!

What more did they want? Everything!

Craving Satisfied

Moses heard their words; God saw their heart. They weren’t just asking for food; they were demanding better!

I am compelled to ask some seriously searching questions: Where do I want better? When has God so generously given me everything I truly need, yet I demand more! Do I ever come into agreement with the Israelites, “If only (I) had ________!”

For them it was fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. What do I crave?

A better job,
or better house,
better ministry,
or better spouse,
better family, bank account,
or opportunity?

Craving is attractive to the eyes, creating a desire for or greed after. Sometimes God reluctantly allows us to taste the fruit of our cravings. The Lord gave them what they craved.

“But while the meat was still between their teeth
and before it could be consumed,
the anger of the LORD burned
against the people,
and he struck them with a severe plague.
Therefore the place was named
Kibroth Hattaavah,
because there they buried the people
who had craved other food.”
Numbers 11:33,34

The Cost of Craving

God promises to give us the desires of our heart. Unfortunately, this includes both good and evil! It would be wise to examine carefully our desires so that out of the good desires of our heart we will reap only blessing.

“Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
Psalm 37:4

Kibroth Hattaavah means “graves of craving”.

Just in case you are thinking, God’s love, generosity, and grace are greater this side of the cross, let us consider carefully the present day price tag on humanities insatiable appetite for more and better.

Heart disease, the number one killer world wide, is often the result of improper eating habits — a quest for more than what is needed. Many deaths are indirectly attributed to stress; stress we willing assume in pursuit of “bigger and better”. The killer of HIV/AIDS would be non-existent to a people content within the marriage union. Millions more die through wars, conflict and terrorism — the craving for power, wealth or land. This year alone, 40,000,000 lives have been terminated via abortion, the choice available to a culture craving something other than life!

Graves of craving abound!

I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content
in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.”
Philippians 4:12

Paul “learned the secret of being content.” Contentment combines satisfaction, gratitude and happiness  in one life-giving package. It is the quality of sufficiency and adequacy even in the slenderest of times. It is the feeling of being strong enough or possessing enough to need no further aid or support. (Thayers)

Substituting cravings for contentment brings health and wholeness into our lives spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally. Ceasing grumbling isn’t enough! Walking step-by-step in contentment is necessary and so much better! Perhaps even the best of all!

Contentment is one indeed of God’s great gifts available to us now.

**********

Further Reading:

Second is Better Than First! When Second is Best!

 

Words of Life! Empowering Words!

Speaking Words of Life

Every word we speak is a choice; every choice bears fruit. As Christians, our focused desire is to speak empowering words that consistently reap godly results.

“The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
Proverbs 18:21

As Light as Feather

Long ago, a man was mentoring someone who was struggling to control his words. He took his student to the top of a tall tower and instructed him to rip open the feather pillow he had brought along. As directed the student held the pillow over the side of the tower, releasing its contents to the wind.

“Now gather the feathers” instructed the older gentleman.

Together they descended the many flights of stairs to ground level. The mentor patiently watched and waited.  The younger man returned clutching ten fragile feathers in his hand. All the rest had drifted beyond sight in the gentle breeze.

Feather

Once spoken words dissipate beyond return. Some words as delicate and beautiful as feathers lifting and encouraging. Other words land like lead weight on an already wounded heart.

Words that Build

There have been numerous times in my life when people have spoken words of encouragement and built me up:

You can…”
“I know you have the ability…”
“You did that so well…”
“I love you…”

Most of these words came at a time when I felt I couldn’t, or I didn’t have what it takes for a task ahead. Sometimes, they came at a moments of complete failure. Their words were wings of grace that lifted and empowered me to continue and risk again.

Moses spoke words of affirmation over Joshua many times:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

I cannot imagine what it would feel like to take over the leadership from someone like Moses! How overwhelming!

These words would echo in Joshua’s heart repeatedly as he led millions into their promise. Moses’ confidence in him and spoken affirmation were God given!

Words of Encouragement

We all face situations that seem beyond our ability. Every word of affirmation makes a difference in validating and propelling us forward.

My husband and I are amazed at how many young people consistently include us in their circle of friendship. Perhaps it is, in part at least, because we enjoying encouraging and inspiring them to greater and better things.

This is itself is a miracle! Neither of us were always that way! As a matter of fact, we have both received a large share of hurting and condemning words. We have both had to work hard at removing anger, critical judgments and condemning attitudes from out thinking and vocabulary.

Words that Teach

“In my former book, Theophilus,
I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.”
Acts 1:1

Through the gospels, the words of Jesus continue to impact hearts and lives worldwide. His words were always life giving!

How many or how few, of our words are spoken with intentionality of having generational influence?

There is a relatively new medium called Spoken Word Poetry that has become a powerful voice of this generation. Through poetic verse the truth of redeeming love and breakthrough declares faith in Jesus Christ.

Each of us has the ability to use speak in such a way as to

empower, motivate to action,
lead others to encounter to Christ,
bring healing and hope
empathize and sympathize
elevate and inspire.

Spoken, written or sung, words have the power to ignite destiny and purpose in hearts.

Written Words

Jesus, The Word

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:1

The greatest Word is the Person of Jesus Christ! The Word came. He spoke audibly and visibly! The most important words we can speak are from The Word! They contain life beyond earth’s reach – words that give life eternal.

“That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked at and our hands have touched
this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
I John 1:1

Some of the most powerful words we could speak may easily be our testimony about what Jesus has done in our lives! What a privilege we have to tell of the things we have seen, heard and experienced. Actually, the gospels are literally testimony by four men who witnessed The Word.

Words of Testimony

What has your faith meant to you? What has Christ done in your life? Have you experienced His peace or strength in difficult times? Have you witnessed a miracle? Let your voice be heard! Testify to what you have experienced! Pass on the personal experience to your children and grandchildren! Share with your friends and those in your workplace how loving and amazing God is!

While they may seem insignificant, your words could be exactly what God uses to build faith in others.

“Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.”
So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city
what great things Jesus had done for him.”
Luke 8:39

God has chosen the most unlikely candidates to be his witnesses: a Samaritan woman, a once demonic, murderers, thieves, and lepers. People from the highest and lowest levels of society. Our testimony of Jesus is never about us, always about Him.

A Challenge

Since the words of my mouth have not always been pure and loving, encouraging and supportive, radiating the goodness of God, this is a constant work of progress in me. Therefore, through my writing I challenge myself, may you also be encouraged.

Join me in speaking words that lift and empower! Who will you, or I, impact today with a word of life? God only knows.

__________

Here is more on relationships – My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships

__________

Never miss another blog! Join here!

 

 

Moses – The Defining Qualities of a Great Leader

Qualities of a Great Leader

What makes a mediocre leader great? What are the marks a great leader? As you can see I probably have more questions than answers! Join me as we take a very brief look at the life of Moses; see if you  can identify with what I have chosen as the top five defining qualities of a great leader.

Great Leaders Know Their Assignment!

Moses was well along in years, 80 in fact, when God gave him his assignment,

“So now, go, I am sending you
to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3:10

That sounds clear enough! So why didn’t Moses resign after he made sure the people were on safe ground on the far side of the Red Sea. He had fulfilled the mandate, right? Check! He went to Pharaoh and he got the people out. Check!

Great leaders don’t quit! They keep going above and beyond the letter of requirements!

Egypt Pyramids

It would take 40 more years to get Egypt out of the hearts and minds of the people. These were excruciating painful years for Moses as a leader as his

authority and character was challenged
those closest betrayed him
the masses grumbled incessantly
other leadership challenged his adequacy to lead.

Still he persevered!

Great Leaders are Humble!

“Now Moses was a very humble man,
more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”
Numbers 12: 3

I can’t help but smile when I read this little line. Why? Because Moses wrote it! You would think that bragging about your humility would disqualify you from wearing the ‘humble’ badge. However, God would not allow this line to maintain its position in the Holy Scriptures if it was not completely true.

Great leaders know who they are, Who they belong to, where they are going and Who is getting them there! They know that in and of themselves they can do nothing! Moses didn’t have John 15:5 to remind him; he lived every day in the strength of God knowing that “without me you can do nothing.”

Great leaders don’t need to prove themselves, even when others rise up and say, “Who do you think you are?”

There is a quiet confidence that truly great leaders display. A confidence cloaked firmly in humility.

Humility

Great Leaders Show Grace!

More than once, God was so fed up with the rebellion and sinfulness of his chosen people. He make it clear that He was fully prepared to make Moses

“….into a nation, stronger and more numerous than they.”
Deuteronomy 9:14

Intercede Pray

Few leaders would resist that kind of temptation to greatness, especially when the One making the promise is perfectly capable of fulfilling it.

However, Moses falls on his face continually interceding for the people, reminding God of His promises. These was not a twinkle in insincerity within him. He loved and cared deeply for these stubborn sheep he was assigned to shepherd. A true shepherd he was proving himself to be!

Great Leaders Never Compromise!

Multiple times Moses was given compromising offers…

sacrifice to God here in the land
have only the men go
your women and children may go, only leave your flocks…

Great leaders know there can never be compromise! The mandate was to worship God with

“our young and our old, our sons and daughters, with flocks and herds…”
Exodus 10:9

Worship Together

The call to worship God is still the same…

for young and the aged
male and female
rich and poor
a worship for everyone
giving everything
to only One worthy!

Though there may be temptations to do things half way, great leaders never settle!

Great Leaders Have Great Faith!

Hebrews speaks of faith five times in connection to Moses. He resisted the easy road of self reliance because he was “looking ahead to his reward”. Moses persevered because “he saw Him who is invisible.”

I cannot fathom the dimension of faith it took on the part of Moses to follow the word of the LORD and then lead an entire nation so faithfully. A man “mighty in word and deed” who “received living words and passed them on.”

Certainly this faith was entwined with a deep fear of the LORD. We don’t talk much about fear today, but there is such a thing as a healthy dose of godly fear; and Moses had it.

“I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’
Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.”
Acts 7:32

Great leaders know how to draw on strength and wisdom beyond themselves – trusting in Him who is faithful.

Now What?

Consider the quote that sparked this whole thought process,

“I would rather die in the desert with the people,
than get to the ‘promise’ alone..”
Andy Mason

Andy Mason is a relatively unknown leader who inspires others to apply biblical principles to everyday business – to the places we live and work.

Independence is deep-rooted in each of us, especially me!  What goals are in our futures that we still hope to reach? What promise of God is waiting to see fulfilled? Everyone of us lives with unfulfilled destiny and calling – things we want to be reality in our lives, but are yet out of reach! Some may have to do with family, career, finances or levels of ministry.

I’m taking this challenge personally as I aim toward my goals reaching in the direction of my calling.

Destination

How sad it would be to reach my ‘promise’ alone, unable to share the journey or the destination!

Moses never entered the promise because of his own insubordination. However, he was faithful to raise up a successor to effectively carry it out. This young leader would have the privilege of entering the promise and fully seeing the fruit of all Moses worked for and longed to see. Joshua would be the one to lead the next generation into the full promise.

__________

Want more to read on walking in faith? Try these!

Nothing is Impossible – With God Your Problem is God’s Opportunity!

Faith or Fear? Which Will We Choose?

__________

Join the wonderful group of subscribers here!