The Best Things

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As I write this, I am sipping on one of my favorite teas beside a lavender scented candle. In the overall scheme of things, I might not consider them to be the most important things in my life, but they give me pleasure and I don’t rush my consumption of them. Some of the things we most enjoy are ones we take time to savor and sip rather than gulp down.

I take time to allow the very best chocolate to melt more slowly in my mouth to savor every second of its deliciousness. I may like chocolates I grab at the grocery store or gas station (Yes, I am a chocolate lover.) and yet these are not the same as the taste of a luscious Swiss or Belgian chocolate truffle I bite into more slowly and allow to melt gradually.

I may go through a drive through window for a cup of coffee or coffee beverage to keep me alert as I am driving or while working at my desk, but the coffee I enjoy the most is a fresh brewed cup I can sip and notice all the flavors that I discover. Those are the kinds of coffee we tend to take pleasure in when we meet a friend for a leisurely visit.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

From the time we are born we use the sense of taste to not only fulfill our basic needs of hunger but also to provide pleasure and allow us to discover a great many things in our world. (Most of you recall how much a baby puts in his or her mouth as discovering the world outside of mommy begins.) God has given us between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds on the back and front of our tongues. They help us distinguish between sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory. Little wonder the things we find most delicious we try to make last if we can and why we avoid things that don’t appeal to us. Any of us who lose that sense of taste due to illness or something else are aware of how special the gift of taste is and all it allows us to experience.

It recalls what the Psalmist reminds us of about God:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;

    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

Psalm 34:8 (NIV)

When I read those words and take time to reflect on them it seems obvious that He invites us to savor all He has to show us of Him. Our time in discovering and tasting Him should not be like chowing down a fast-food burger and fries but more like the way we savor every nuance of fine chocolate, coffee, or tea on our tongue and lips. Only then will we come to know his goodness.

Our days can start off with a bang and distractions from the moment we open our eyes. Such days we might grab food on the run or eat it standing up as we make our lunch for the day. Our time with God might be a quick Bible verse that shows up on our phone or as the theme of our devotional book and our prayer might be short requests of what we need to get through the next ten minutes or next ten hours. That isn’t a bad thing and I suspect God is not surprised that happens to most of us. Many of us cannot get up an hour earlier to spend leisure time with Him every day but to grow in intimacy with Him and truly taste Him we will need time to savor Him, reflect on what we taste, and digest it slowly.

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We likely intend to take more time to become intimate with Christ. We know what it feels like when we do manage it versus those other days. We even know that when we discipline the time for savoring Him that somehow, we still accomplish everything on our “to do” list, maybe even more. (Have you ever noticed how surprising that can be?) In the complexities of our lives and tangled days in the environment of chaos and darkness spreading over the world, I doubt we will fare very well if we do not take time to taste Christ more fully and gain the nourishment we need to cope with whatever a day throws at us. It’s what makes the difference in whether we can stand on the foundation we gain from such times.

Our culture in every area pushes us to do more, be more, achieve higher levels of excellence and it can start to nudge us toward a performance mentality that even creeps into our spiritual lives. We might measure what we see as growth by how much we serve in our faith communities, how many Bible chapters we consume daily, or whether we have read the best and latest theological works and yet find ourselves feeling empty at the end of it all even though these are good things.

Why? Perhaps it is because these do not move us into the depths of relationship with Christ.

“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”

Richard Foster

Notice how often the Bible uses food as a metaphor to teach us something about God and what our hunger stems from beyond our physical appetite.

“We hunger to know and be known. We hunger for others to accept, understand, and adore us. We hunger for someone to love and cherish with our affection.”

Margaret Feinberg

In our complicated schedules and timetables, we make time for what seems to be the most important things. Each day we are invited to taste and see, to savor the best things and it is this investment that will allow us to see God’s goodness.

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Truth: A Process of Sifting

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My mother was an excellent cook and baker and I still have fond memories of times spent in the kitchen with her as she was baking cookies, pies, and cakes. Many of the things she did then would seem out-of-date now as we continue to look for shortcuts and easier ways to complete a recipe.

Back then watching her sift flour for a cake recipe was common, but rarely do I do that today nor do I hear others do so even if they skip the cake mix and try a homemade recipe. What was important about sifting anyway?

Sifting the flour makes the flour lighter and easier to mix with the other ingredients in the recipe and allows them to combine more evenly. It aerates the flour and gives a more consistent measurement and ultimately a finer product.


Often as we are seeking to determine the truth, it is obvious and evident, but that is not always the case. To be discerning about it we may often need to sift through the information before us that may very well include bits of truth, half-truths, “white lies” that seem palatable, and absolute lies that are easier to recognize. All of it requires discernment and a biblical foundation of truth.

The 1992 movie, A Few Good Men, has a famous line many of us recall. In a riveting courtroom scene as Jack Nicholson is being relentlessly questioned by Tom Cruise, Nicholson finally says, “You can’t handle the truth!” The statement is a pithy one for consideration not only in the movie, but also in our own lives. Perhaps that is because the truth is often harder to accept than the half-truth or lie we would prefer to believe.

Truth reveals. It may reveal our failures, our lack of responsibility, our selfishness, our arrogance, or even how deceived we may be. It may reveal things are not under our control or help us see those that are.

Clearly, truth illuminates and makes lighter the darkness that swirls around us and sometimes hides within us. I think that is likely what makes the enemy so determined to hide it, disguise it, or serve us something that looks like the truth and is easy for us to believe and yet is not the truth at all.

His schemes are often effective because he is skilled at confirming doubts we have about the Lord, the Bible, others, and ourselves in our lives that matter to us in one way or another. There are many reasons we succumb to his devices. After all, he has been practicing this for thousands of years and seduced many others before us.


Do we really recognize his voice? We should, but often we do not recognize the Lord’s voice either. Learning to discern the voice of the one speaking to us requires a lot of listening and discerning over time and testing what we hear against foundational truths and experience. It is crucial we learn to recognize the enemy’s voice because he is nearly always whispering in the background of our daily life.

What are some of the messages the enemy most likes to repeat to us?

  • “Your words are ineffective.”
  • “Your trust is misplaced.”
  • “Your helpers are worthless.”
  • “Your godly leaders will mislead you.”
  • “Let’s make a deal. You can have your cake and eat it too.”
  • “Focus on your circumstances.”
  • “God sent me.”
  • “Be afraid.”
  • “My reward is just like God’s.”

You may not have heard those exact words, but I am guessing it is very likely that you have heard some of them or paraphrases of them. Consider the goals of those messages.

The enemy wants us to believe that our words are ineffective as a tool against the enemy’s devices when the Lord has given us the Word to speak against all the devices of the enemy. You may well remember how that played out when the enemy in the wilderness tempted Jesus and what defeated the enemy’s devices in that scenario.

The enemy wants us to believe that no one can be trusted so we isolate and try to do life alone on our own. Wrong! Going it alone is the one sure way to be worn out, worn down, and fall. God designed us to work in relationship with one another, to lean on one another. Solomon speaks to that:

“Two are better than one,  because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

The enemy wants us to make a deal and compromise our values, the Lord’s values in us. He also wants us to focus on the circumstances we find ourselves in rather than to keep our eyes on the Lord. He wants us to tremble in fear despite the Lord telling us repeatedly in scripture not to fear.

If we rest in Him, we still the competing voices and learn the truth.

In a great sermon, I heard a principle we can use to benefit us greatly in the processing of sifting to find the truth:

You cannot trust unless you fully rest, and you cannot fully rest unless you trust. We must deal with this…rest/trust. They are inseparable.


Where Is It?

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I have little doubt it has happened to all of us. We are so sure we have put something in a specific place, only to discover it’s not there. We may have tucked a receipt in our wallet so we could easily retrieve it for a return at the store next week or maybe been confident we had another ten-dollar bill in our wallet when we were about to tip our hair stylist. We might take every single thing out of a purse or wallet because we are so certain and still come up empty.

I wish I could have found an earring or two over time. On more than one occasion I have come missing one of the good earrings my sweet husband has given me. There was a beautiful gold hoop on a wintry day in a parking lot on my way to a workshop. I was sure it would fall out of the scarf or collar of my coat but no such luck. There was a rest area on a trip to Vermont where another special earring went missing. Sadly, jewelry stores don’t sell single earrings but maybe they should.

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But it isn’t just jewelry we somehow lose, no matter our age we tend to misplace a pen, a note, that bottle of spices we thought we had an extra one of and more. Most of the time I think it happens when we are not focused on only one thing and put something or drop something or have something fall from some part of us without initially noticing. I recall a time or two when my mother was still alive that my daughter or I would tell her we had lost something, and she would quickly say she would pray God would show us where we had left it. Sometimes He did! But that has not always been the case. More often if I have rediscovered something that was lost, I just happen upon it when I am doing something else. I just wish I would have had that happen when those special earrings disappeared.

Isn’t it fascinating how upset we can become when we lose even something small of little value? I think it points to how attached we can be to temporal things without even realizing it.

My most memorable story of losing something valuable and having God help me go to the exact spot where it was happened on one of several vacation trips to the beautiful mountains of Alberta, Canada. My digital SLR camera was a constant companion on vacation trips to try to capture some small bit of the beauty of God’s creation all around us. (When our children still lived at home and took trips with us, I would get teased about how often I was off the trail trying to get a great shot of some wildflowers.) But on this day, we had been hiking for much of the afternoon and stopped at one point before going on down the path. It was later in the afternoon, and we decided we needed to return to our hotel, and it wasn’t until we got to the hotel parking lot that I noticed my camera was not with me. We had been so many places; how could we ever hope to find it?

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Clearly, the odds were not good that we could find it, but I was desperate. I asked God to guide us and asked my husband to return to the last place we had parked our car more than a few minutes from the hotel. He drove along with my anguish palpable at the likely loss of the camera as well as the many photos it contained of this memorable trip. All these years later I recall coming into that parking area at the trailhead and getting out of the car and starting in a direction where I thought I had stopped. The sun was dipping in the late afternoon sky and not much light would be left to search if this was the wrong place but as I slowly walked along keeping a sharp eye out, low and behold I discovered it laying in the tall grass not far from where we had briefly stopped. I cannot express how surprised and grateful I was and how much I thanked God for surely being the One who helped me locate it since it was so improbable.

I wonder what story you would tell about losing (and perhaps finding) something valuable to you.

Losing something that seems precious (though temporal) always reminds me if the big velvet hanging behind the altar at the small country church where I grew up. In it, Jesus is holding a lamb in his arms and is depicted with such gentle care for it. As a child I was drawn to that picture without a great deal of understanding of the parable or story it represented, but how precious it is and how often I think of it when I read the passages in the Bible that tell the story of how Jesus goes out to find what’s been lost – something far more valuable than an earring, an extra bottle of spices, or even a good digital SLR camera full of memories.

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Some of you know the story I am speaking of about the one sheep that gets lost from the others in the pasture. The sheep or lambs represent us. How often we can be tempted or do go off on our own only to get lost on a path to nowhere. This story gives us hope despite our distracted wandering.

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”

Luke 15:3-6 (MSG)

It brings to mind the tender lyrics of a worship song by Stuart Townend (How Deep the Father’s Love for Us):

“How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom”

A special day at Boom Lake, Alberta, Canada /Photo of and by Pam Ecrement