My Top 5 Spiritual Challenges and a Healthy Recipe

Welcome  Last week I mentioned that, while completing a recent book study, we were given “Know Yourself” questions.  I shared my list for 18 Things that make me Smile in that post.  That question was simply, what makes you smile?  Today I will be addressing the much tougher question: where am I challenged by God?

Food For Thought  I feel that I have many challenges when it comes to my spiritual life, but in true fashion, I am probably over-analyzing every area making it become a challenge!  I decided for this question I would focus on my top five areas of challenge.  I think that would be a good place to start your list, too, so as to not become overwhelmed.  We don’t want to get so bogged down with the things we think are hard or difficult that we lose hope and give up on making any improvement at all.  This is a completely honest, and somewhat embarrassing look into my own spiritual challenges, along with some scriptures I can use for each area.

1  Patience.  In the words of Veruca Salt from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “But I want it noooooowwww!”  I am like this in so many areas of my life, and over and over again I am given situations, let’s call them lessons, that require me to learn and grow my patience.  Transitioning into this blogging and writing career is one of the best lessons I’ve had in this area.  Success does not come overnight, even if it’s inspired by the Lord or part of His plan.  There is a growth process and a learning curve that is in place.  Whether it’s career, making a geographical move, or even waiting to find my perfect mate, I often don’t wait very patiently.  This impatience leads to poor attitude and complaining, which is annoying to others and shows a lack of trust in God.  I am working on it!

Patience verses: Hebrews 11:13; Philippians 2:14; Proverbs 19:11; Ecclesiastes 7:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:14

2 Envy/Jealousy.  I personally think this is my ugliest challenge.  And it’s not that I don’t want others to have their material things or successes or happiness.  I just want to be in on it too.  It’s terrible to be the person that can’t scroll through a social media feed without thinking the “must be nice” or “that’s not fair” or “why can’t I” thoughts.  I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I joined in a recent online Bible study group.  It’s a yucky feeling, but I have to start focusing on the idea that I have everything I need and God will give me exactly what He thinks is best for me as part of a bigger plan.  And I need to be happy for those who have those things/successes/events in life that I think I should have too.

Envy verses: 1 Peter 2:1; James 3:14; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Proverbs 14:30

3 Sacrifice.  No one wants to be placed in uncomfortable situations or give up things they love, but to be a true follower of Christ, there is an element of sacrifice we all must make.  I must give up fleshly desires and selfish ways.  I must put the needs of others before my own.  I am not always good at this.  During my 30’s I took up running.  Many Sundays I was unwilling to sacrifice my weekly long run in order to attend church services.  I still believe our family struggles with monetary sacrifice when it comes to our weekly church offering.  Yes, we give regularly, but are we giving in accordance to our bounty and blessing?  Would we be willing to sacrifice a dinner or movie out in order to give more for the Lord’s work?  It’s an area we need to work on!

Sacrifice verses (not Old Testament context of sacrifice): Galatians 2:20-21; Romans 6:11-12; Psalm 40:8

4 Service.  Serving others should be considered a privilege and bring me joy.  But sometimes it does not.  Many times an act of service is referenced as “one more thing I have to do” on an already busy schedule.  Or worse, I’ve been guilty of taking on an attitude of “Why should I help others?  No one helps me with anything!”  So, indeed, I need to work on my acts of service so that it becomes a positive habit in my life and not a dreaded challenge.

Service verses: Colossians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 9:12-15; Psalm 112:5-9; John 13:12

5 Selflessness.  I recently realized, and was shocked no less, that a big cause for my discontent is my neediness for attention.  I had always considered myself a humble, quiet person, one who despises “drama.”  But when I looked at the things that frustrated me or caused feelings of envy or jealousy, it was often because I was missing out on the feel-good endorphins that comes with positive attention.  It’s wrong for me to want all of this attention for myself.  Selflessness goes hand in hand with sacrifice and service.  It comes down to putting others’ needs above my own, especially when “my own” is more just selfish desires than actual needs.

Selflessness verses: Mark 10:41-45; John 13:12-15; Amos 4:1-5

So, there you have it.  The five areas that I consider my biggest challenges in living a God-centered life.  Do you have challenges?  Have you found ways to work through them?  Do you have scriptural support in place?  I’d love to hear how you work through your challenges, too.

Today’s Scriptures  I shared many verses today that I use when working through spiritual challenges.  I want to leave you with this final passage regarding the use of scripture for self-improvement.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Today’s Recipe  Well, I obviously have some spiritual challenges I need to work on, but these aren’t the only challenges I face.  I have physical and emotional challenges, too.  One of the physical challenges includes giving my family healthy meals on a budget.  Some ways I address this challenge include shopping the sale ads for lean cuts of meat and using seasonal vegetables from local gardens.  Preparing all or most of the meal on one baking sheet also saves time!  Today’s recipe is Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Zucchini and Onions on Parmesan Rice.

Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Zucchini and Onions and Parmesan Rice (serves 3-4)

  • 1 19-oz pkg ground turkey breast
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 medium zucchini squash
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups white rice (I use the quick-cook rice)
  • 2 cups water, with a dash of salt
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In large bowl combine the turkey, soup mix, bread crumbs, egg, and broth.  Shape into 9-12 meatballs of uniform size.

Take a large sheet pan and brush with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Place meatballs on pan.  Cut zucchini into large chunks or sticks and place on pan.  Cut onion into large chunks and add to pan.  Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast in oven at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of your meatballs.  I made nine large meatballs, so I went the full 35 minutes.  When the meatballs and zucchini are close to done, start the rice. If using traditional rice instead of instant, you will need to start the rice after putting your meat in the oven.  Place the two cups of rice in a medium pot.  Add water and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, stir and turn off heat.  Place lid on pot and allow to finish cooking five to six more minutes, or until rice has absorbed liquid and appears fluffy.  Add the butter and parmesan to the rice and stir to combine.

Serve meatballs over rice.  Add zucchini to the plate, either on rice or beside.  I also serve an additional side of veggies to boost the nutritional value of the meal.