Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sermon Without Words

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the preacher decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The preacher found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his preachers visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The preacher made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the preacher took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to o ne side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation.

As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The preacher glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the preacher reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, 'Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sabbath.'

We live in a world today, which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen. Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken.

The Lord is my Shepherd ----- that's a Relationship!

I shall not want ----- that's Supply!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures ----that's Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters -----that's Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul ----- that's Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righ teousness --that's Guidance!

For His name sake ----- that's Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death--that's Testing!

I will fear no evil ----- that's Protection!

For Thou art with me ----- that's Faithfulness!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me -----that's Discipline!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies--that's Hope!

Thou annointest my head with oil ----- that's Consecration!

My cup runneth over ----- that's Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life--that's Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord -----that's Security!

Forever ----- that's Eternity!

What is most valuable is not what we have in our lives, but WHO we have in our lives.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thankfully So...

I received this in a daily email and it really spoke to my heart. I have been so aware recently about how much thankfulness plays a part in our relationship with God that this was something I wanted to share here:

God's Listening For The Sound of a Thankful Heart

One day, while paying my electric bill, I decided to thank the company for the service they were providing me. "Thanks for my electricity," I said, "It's really quite a bargain for all the benefits I receive."

"What!" said the lady behind the counter, in amazement, "That's the first time anyone has ever thanked us. All I ever hear around here are complaints."

It's a challenge to grow up with a thankful heart. From an early age we are exposed to a culture of complainers, gripers, grumblers, and critics. We complain about the weather, traffic, food, work, neighbors, bills, the government, church, and life in general. Worst of all, we are ungrateful toward God. It would be hard to count the number of complaints and criticisms that are daily spoken before Him and against Him.

How can we, who have received so much, be thankful for so little?

One of the great indicators of true spirituality is not measured by how many times we go to church, how big our Bibles are, or how long we pray, but it is measured by the level of gratitude that is in our hearts.

When we are ungrateful, the heart of God is saddened, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and the joy of the Lord is quenched within us.

Being thankful sweetens you, grumbling sours you;
being thankful brings sunshine to your countenance, being ungrateful casts a shadow;
being thankful brings a melody to your words, criticism makes you sound like a clanging cymbal;
being thankful keeps your feet on the pathway of celebration, complaint takes you down the road of despair.

When our hearts are filled with gratefulness we may feel like our thanksgiving is inadequate, but we can be certain that our thanksgiving is always appropriate.

It will gladden the heart of God to hear your heartfelt thanks being freely offered to Him today.

Roy Lessin, Co-founder, DaySpring Cards

**What have you thanked God for today? I have to go now, I need to get a "thank you note" out...I'll be using knee-mail...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dealing With Our Circumstances

We all have "circumstances." Our situations in life are as varied as the people involved. How we react to our circumstances- whether we believe the lies presented to us or embrace God's Truth - has a profound effect on everything else. Some circumstances are beyond our control. If we fail to see the hand of God behind our circumstances, we will be vulnerable to confusion, frustration, bitterness, anger, and despair.
One lie many women believe is that if only their circumstances weer different, then they would be different - they would act differently or they would be happier. What they are really saying is that they are victims of their circumstances, that they are powerless to control what they say or do. The truth is that we are not victims. Our circumstances do not make us what we are. They merely reveal what we are. We may not be able to control our circumstances; but by God's grace, we can choose how we respond to our circumstances.
Another way many believers have been deceived is by the idea that they shouldn't have to suffer. After all, as Christians, we should have lots of money, success, and no worries, right? Not necessarily. Jesus never promised an easy life. On the contrary, the Scriptures teach that it is impossible to become like Jesus - to be holy - apart from suffering. Because we don't understand the necessity and value of suffering, we are often more concerned about getting relief from our pain than about discovering the pure fruit God wants to produce in our lives through the pain.
Another lie we may fall for is that our circumstances will never change. If we believe this lie, we will grow discouraged and be tempted to give up when facing seemingly impossible circumstances. In order to walk in freedom, we must exchange our temporal, earthly perspective for a set of heavenly, eternal glasses. Even if nothing changes in our lifetime, the years we experience on this earth are a mere blip on the time line of eternity. So, we can pray for God to intervene, but we must be patient when He does not act as quickly as we'd like. We must trust, obey, hope and persevere even as we await His answers. And we must set our eyes on heaven!
The fourth lie deceives many people to give up and say they just can't take it anymore. They truly believe that God has placed too much in their lives. God promises, however, that His grace is sufficient to help us in our weakness.
Finally, the fifth lie seems to have found its way into the fabric of our selfish society - "It's all about me." Everything revolves around me; nothing is more important than my wants, my needs, my desires. This attitude has broken marriages, families, and hearts everywhere. The truth for believers is that this life is not all about them; it is all about God. He is the reason we exist, and we should live to honor and glorify Him.

From "Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free" by Nancy Lee DeMoss. Chapter Nine of the workbook.

This is from the Bible Study we have been doing on a weekly basis. It's been a wonderful study, and we highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ham Strawberry Pie

This recipe is really only for Strawberry Pie...but because one of my goodest friends loves it so, Kent Ham, I deciced to call it Ham Strawberry Pie. But I may have to work on the name...

I have been making this for years and my family loves it...they won't let me come to Easter Dinner without it.

I have made it for tea time at work, and since I need two it's easier to do in bars. I double everything, except I form the crusts in one 9x13 dish and then pour the doubled strawberry mixture over it.

My lovely Mother (in-law) made it with peaches one year, it was amazing. You just substitute peach jello and fresh peaches for all the strawberries. I think you could get really creative with jello flavors and fresh fruit...if you do, let me know.

I hope you make is truly amazing! As Kati says, it will change your life.

Oh, and this crust is the best recipe you'll find for a pre-baked crust. I really want to enter a contest with it...I know it will win me millions! It makes a great chocolate or coconut creme pie --get busy ya'll!!

Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbs Milk
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
Dash Salt
1 1/2 cups Water
1 small box Strawberry Jell-O
1 quart Fresh Strawberries, hulled and sliced to your desire
Preheat oven to 400
Put all the crust ingredients into a pie pan
Mix with a fork until combined and a dough forms
Use fork or fingers to press into pan to form pie crust
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until lightly browned
In a saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt to combine
Gradually add the water and then put on Med-High heat
Whisk continually, while bringing to a boil and once boiling whisk over heat for one minute to get to full thickness(be careful not to burn yourself if it splats up on you-I wear an oven mitt on my whisking hand)
Remove from heat and whisk in jello
Cool and add strawberries before it completely sets up
Put into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate until completely chilled - this will be hard
Serve with whipped cream or cool whip

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Work and the Works of Grace

Please read Ephesians 2:4-10
Paul closes this passage with a great exposition of that paradox which always lies at the heart of his view of the gospel. That paradox has two arms.
(i) Paul insists that it is by grace that we are saved. We have not earned salvation nor could we have earned it. It is the gift of God and our part is simply to accept it (put our faith in it alone). Paul's point of view is undeniably true; and for two reasons.
(a) God is perfection; and, therefore, only perfection is good enough for Him. Man by his very nature cannot bring perfection to God; and so, if ever man is to win his way to God, it must always be God who gives and man who takes.
(b) God is love; sin is therefore a crime, not against law, but against love. Now it is possible to make atonement for a broken law, but it is impossible to make atonement for a broken heart; and sin is not so much breaking God's law as it is breaking God's heart.
Let us take a crude and imperfect analogy. Suppose a motorist by careless driving kills a child. He is arrested, tried, found guilty, sentenced to a term of imprisonment and/or to a fine. After he has paid the fine and served the imprisonment, as far as the law is concerned, the whole matter is over. But it is very different in relation to the mother whose child he killed. He can never put things right with her by serving a term of imprisonment and paying a fine. The only thing which can restore his relationship to her is an act of free forgiveness on her part.
That is the way we are to God. It is not God's laws against which we have sinned; it is against His heart. And therefore only an act of free forgiveness of the grace of God can put us back into the right relationship with Him.
(ii) That is to say that works have nothing to do with earning salvation. It is neither right nor possible to leave the teaching of Paul here - and yet that is where it is so often left. Paul goes on to say that we are recreated by God for good works. Here is the Pauline paradox. All the good works in the world cannot put us right with God; but there is something radically wrong with the Christianity which does not issue in good works.
There is nothing mysterious about this. It is simply an inevitable law of love. If someone fine loves us, we know that we do not and cannot deserve that love. At the same time we know with utter conviction that we must spend all life in trying to be worthy of it.
That is our relationship to God. Good works can never earn salvation; but there is something radically wrong if salvation does not produce good works. It is not that our good works put God in our debt; rather that God's love lays on us the obligation to try throughout all life to be worthy of it.
We know what God wants us to do; God has prepared long beforehand the kind of life He wants us to live, and has told us about it in His book and through His Son, our perfect example. We cannot earn God's love but we can and must show how grateful we are for it, by seeking with our whole hearts to live the kind of life which will bring joy to God's heart.
--This is from William Barclay's book on the letters to the Galatians and Ephesians

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gotta try it!

I tried making the mushroom and black bean enchiladas...oh baby. You don't miss any meat what so ever - trust me.
Speaking of meat, I did use the canned chicken breast in water, which I drained for the original enchiladas...worked out beautifully, or should I say deliciously.
Please try these recipes, I promise you'll be happy you did.

Here is the recipe for the vegetarian version:

Mushroom and Black Bean Enchiladas with Green Sauce

1 lb Mushrooms, any kind (portabella is the most meat like – use 4 large caps) Cube or Slice them
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 can (4.5oz) chopped green chilies
1 pkg corn or flour tortillas-6 inch size (about 12)
2 cans (10 oz) green chili enchilada sauce-green kind (Old El Paso is what I used)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly grease 13x9 glass baking dish and spread ½ of one can of the sauce over the bottom of the dish.
In 10 inch nonstick skillet, cook mushrooms in a little oil over med-high heat until the water has evaporated.
Add cream cheese and chilies; reduce heat to medium.
Cook and stir until blended and cream cheese is melted.
Remove from heat and stir in black beans.
Heat tortillas in the microwave to soften.
Spoon filling onto tortillas; roll up and place seam side down in baking dish.
Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 15-20 minutes 0r until hot and cheese is melted.

**This recipe can easily be halved by using ½ of all the ingredients and using an 8x8 dish. Personally, I wouldn’t half the cheese or the green chilies. The half can of beans could be added to some rice for a side dish. Two large portabella mushroom caps would be perfect for half of this recipe.

Talking Snakes?

Atheist Kourou replied "Well, I suppose that if you can believe in talking snakes you can believe anything."

Kourou...Did you know that a gorilla can learn thousands of English words and has the capacity to use language?: "More recently, the striking achievements of Kanzi, a bonobo who apparently has learned more than 3,000 spoken English words and can produce (by means of lexigrams) novel English sentences and comprehend English sentences he has never heard before, has strengthened the case of those who argue that the thinking of higher apes is much more complex than had previously been assumed and that the capacity for language use, at least at a rudimentary level, is not exclusively human."

Do you believe in talking birds? Do you think porpoises speak to each other? How about whales? Do dogs communicate to each other? Do you think they understand English words?

Have you ever spoken to a dog? Has a dog or cat ever "told" you that it was hungry? Have you ever heard of dogs warning their owners of a fire in their home? Some presume that man evolved from fish.

Why then is your mind so closed to the possibility that an animal could communicate with humans? It seems that the atheist mind is open to anything as long as it’s not in the Bible. I wonder why?

Debs Personal Note: This isn't just for atheists...Christian, what do you believe? People don't go to hell for not believing in God. Many people will be in hell who believe in God. Hypocrites, those who refuse to repent and agree with God about their sins. Those who just don't trust the work of Christ being enough to cover their sins. Surely they must do something?

We must remember that God doesn't have the same moral standards as humanity. He is morally perfect and utterly holy.

The Bible warns that our damnation is just. Justice will certainly be done, if His mercy is spurned.

God views lust to be adultery and hate as murder. Lying lips (all lying lips) are "an abomination" to Him. Sin is not about little, tiny things that we have done. It is deadly serious.

I was glad to have this come to me today...and glad to share it. I thank God for His mercy that He would want us to know Truth and then give so generously. Treasure it today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009 need to know this!!

Remember me??

I am embarrassed to be writing another post after so much time has passed. But I remind myself that this is for me and I can forgive myself for checking out so long...if you can't, you can just push "next blog please".

I want to share this recipe with who ever might stumble across this little spot of mine. I joined a site called last week. It all happened by "accident" (honestly, I'm not sure I believe in those...) but I was googling a recipe and found it on this site. I was intrigued by what I saw and since I really love recipes more than I really love to cook - I do hate to admit that- - I have enjoyed it so far. It's fun checking out the neat recipes from really interesting people. One of the cool things about it is you make friends and I had someone comment on one of my recipes and now she and I have been corresponding through this site every day or so. Her bio really struck me, she seems like a good, strong wife and mother. (I hope my friends know I love that in a woman...all my friends fit that description.) Not only that but she knows how to feed her family! She submitted this recipe and I just had to share it here. So here it is...and here is the link to find it online and you can read about Rachell, and see her other delicious recipes.

Creamy Chicken And Chile Enchiladas

1 lb uncooked chicken breast strips
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 can (4.5oz) chopped green chiles
1 pkg flour tortillas-6 inch size
2 cans (10 oz) green chili enchilada sauce-green kind
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
lightly grease 13x9 glass baking dish.
In 10 inch nonstick skillet, cook chicken over med-high heat until no longer pink in the middle.
Add cream cheese and chilis; reduce heat to medium.
Cook and stir until blended and cream cheese is melted.
Spoon chicken filling onto tortillas; roll up and place seam side down in baking dish.
Pour enchilada sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 15-20 minutes 0r until hot and cheese is melted.

It really is that easy...of course I did change it up a bit for us... I used corn tortillas instead of flour (I ended up using 11, because I put a little too much in the first two), and I did pour half a can of the sauce down to coat the bottom of the dish before I added the enchiladas so they wouldn't stick ( I highly suggest this, it makes it so easy to clean the pan. Be sure and spray it too).

Also I doubled the cheese because, well, come on, it is cheese.

Now, you should know that Rachell used the Old El Paso brand green enchilada sauce and that is where she found the recipe, and I too found it right on the side of the can. Honestly, I never knew the green stuff was so good!

I am going to be making some tonight for work tomorrow and I will try to give an update soon about a few more changes I am going to try. I bought canned chicken for these and I am going to experiment with a vegetarian variation for "you know who". (It's Kati in case you really don't know who) I will omit the chicken and use some drained and rinsed canned black beans and some sauteed cubed portabella mushrooms to the cream cheese and green chili mixture. Sounds pretty good huh?

I have been writing down a few of my thoughts and I want to put those here as well, soon. I read an incredible book that is coming out this summer, and I hope to share some of what it made me think about. Things about grace and God's mercy.

Enjoy the enchiladas...I know you will...Ole'!!