Spiritual Nightmares — does your life need renovation?

Joshua 13-14, Job 28


“That soul is ROTTEN! It’s digusting!”

Kitchen Nightmares is currently featured on Netflix, and I’ve been hooked. Gordon Ramsay, the brash celebrity chef, has an extremely abrasive and contagious personality that forces everyone to reflect on their daily affairs, unless, of course, you’re too blind and proud to even notice.

The show, and our recent fascination with it, has prompted Allison and I to discuss our studio’s direction and the level of passion we are demonstrating in what we do. We’re not running a restaurant, but certainly the tenets are the same: if you love what you do, your work is going to reflect it.

Much like a lot of the restaurant owners in the show, we Christians tell others that we love what we do, that we truly love God or that Jesus is Lord. We’ve invested on paper, but on the inside, everything might be falling apart.  The aspects of our lives we once cared about maintaining are rotting and disorganized once it’s observed.

Imagine Jesus, with the persona of Mr. Ramsay (without the F-bombs) showing up at your house or your place of work. At first, you guys exchange pleasantries, and you explain what you do with your time.  And then the Lord sits down to eat, symbolically speaking — He samples a portion of what you offer. Would he be disgusted? And then, if He entered your kitchen, what would He say?

God has expectations for you

The Bible has some pretty high expectations — and, unlike Ramsay, in most cases, His standards are quite frankly impossible to meet — but He does recommend we strive for something. When Joshua, through the Lord’s power, acquires the land he is destined to possess, God commands him to divide the land up between the tribes.  These are very specific instructions. Are there specific expectations that God has for you? Are you even paying attention to them?

The standard is only met through Jesus Christ.  When we’ve made ourselves available to Him, it becomes a matter of doing His will to demonstrate our love, not to gain footing.

Allocate what you already have

When Ramsay enters the restaurants he inevitably flips, he envisions the core message or element that the restaurant already has in place, which is usually buried under layers of neglect.  The most recent episode I watched involved a small town restaurant that avoided using fresh ingredients to curb costs, but Ramsay suggests taking advantage of the local corner market to purchase produce and in turn featuring freshness as a brand. The resources are available; it’s only a matter of integration.

In the text, Joshua alreadyhas the land; now it’s a matter of how he’s going to use it. Will he honor God with what he already has? Once you recognize the core drive in your own life, are you going to utilize what you already have to make it work? Do you know that you’re God’s workmanship, created to do what He has in mind? We always wait for God to “give us more”, using terms like EXPECT or DECLARE or BELIEVE ON or CONFESS, when God has already armed us with everything we need.

Maintain the passion

At least once an episode, Chef Ramsay picks out the chief transgressor at the restaurant, looks him dead in the eye, and prompts him to  consider a recurring question: “Where’s the passion, man?” He reasserts this as he leaves, that it’s up to you to keep the fire alive.

This applies to just about everything, but particularly regarding your walk with the Lord. There was once a day when you looked upon your life and really cleaned house, and you were determined to really depend upon Him in all situations, but the passion has since faded.  Perhaps, this day, it’s time to reignite the fire again.

What’s amazing about the story of Joshua is how, even at such an advanced age, he maintains his vigor — his strength is just the same as when he started out. Can we stay the same about  our own lives? Do we reflect the same consistency?

Look beyond yourself

Spiritual people, regardless of creed, like to employ positive visualization, a fallacious concept that suggests projecting your desires into a situation to achieve results in your favor.  This practice is both delusional and unbliblical: we believe that, in our humanity, we can dictate our environment and steer God to do specific things. We all hope for the best for ourselves, and we’ll dig to the ends of the earth to find gold, but, as cynical as it sounds, bad stuff is still going to occur. Life events are inevitable and unavoidable, no matter how positive we are about it.

Job has been subjected to strife of his own, and, to human perception, his suffering is completely unwarranted.  His response in chapter 28 is profound: we’ll persist to locate wisdom, scouring the earth for answers, but we will be disappointed as long as we refuse to acknowledge that the sole source is the Lord God, who oversees the heavens and the earth. Don’t get it backwards; ride the same track as the Lord instead of steering the train off course.

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