What He is About to Do

November 29, 2008 at 6:08 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , )

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Reading through the book of Amos this morning, several things caught my attention. One was the repetition of descriptions of God’s power, followed by the introduction “Yahweh of hosts is His name”. God is a person-not a human, but a person, who has thoughts and feelings-and power. The second was an instance of intercession. When God showed the prophet terrible plagues he was about to send on Israel, Amos begged the Lord to stop-“How can Jacob stand it for he is so small?” Both times he made his plea, the Lord relented. What an amazing thing, to think that a simple shepherd could be so in fellowship with Yahweh of Hosts as to beg Him to stop a punishment-and be answered with favor. And yet, the Lord could not have swerved from His ultimate plan. His plan then, must have included Amos’ intercession–His desire must have been to have Amos plead with Him to be merciful, and to answer and so to shine in the splendor of His own grace. God must love for us to boldly intercede and beg His mercy on behalf of others. And when we do so, we are following the example of the Good Shepherd, who always lives to intercede for us.

Lord, Thou call the humble friend,
The lowly Thou delight to send
For what Thou speak, they must repeat
And with Thy peace, Thou shod their feet.

And Father, Thou delight to show
Thy plans to harm and overthrow
That these same lowly may entreat
Thy favor at Thy mercy seat.

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Wasted Emotion

November 24, 2008 at 7:43 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Christmas was fast approaching as my friend, Lauryn, and I soaked in the hot tub and dived into one of our typical sort-it-out conversations—this time about emotions. Because we are both very definitely women, and we both very definitely have them. By the time our skin had wrinkled like a soggy walrus we’d concluded that God created us with emotions—in order to worship and enjoy Him. A few days ago, we sat on my bed discussing this nagging issue once again—this time focusing in especially on anxiety, an emotion we find plaguing us both. Because every season in life carries uncertainty. Tomorrow has worries. Over the past several months the Lord has been working in my heart and understanding to reveal to me how anxious I am and how dishonoring to Him my anxiety is.

“Be careful how you walk,” Paul told the Ephesian believers. “Make the most of your time. Don’t get drunk, that’s wasteful.” (Check out Ephesians 5:15-21) Recognizing the wastefulness of getting drunk—or wasted—isn’t particularly foreign or counter-culture. But the point of Paul’s message is so much more than the cry of a teetotaler. “Don’t be wasteful,” he warns us. I find myself glibly pointing out wasted money, wasted time and wasted energy, the whole time spilling out emotional energy that was meant to be poured at the feet of Jesus. My emotions are a stewardship I find much more daunting. The Lord has blessed me with an abundance of emotional energy. What am I supposed to do with it? Paul offers the solution. “Don’t be wasteful, but be filled with the Spirit!”

Solomon speaks in Ecclesiastes of a time for everything: for sorrow, for joy, for death, for life, for love, for hate. My heart flooded with truth when I discovered that there is a time for anxiety. David was anxious because of his sin. When we are at enmity with God, cut off from His mercy, lost to His grace, we ought to be anxious. We ought to worry. We ought to be terrified and afraid. But perfect love casts out fear, and when we have such evidence of love as Christ’s death for us, we find the cure for anxiety in the words of Jesus Himself. “Don’t be anxious about your life…all these things the pagans chase after…You seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will He not also along with Him, graciously give us all things? In Jesus we have everything pertaining to life and godliness.

Jesus redirects us to pursue God’s kingdom. Paul redirects us to gratitude. “Sing! Rejoice! Give thanks!” Look at what the Lord has done for us! He saved us, not on the basis of works we’ve done. We needn’t be anxious about our works! He provides for the birds of the air. He died for us! Won’t He supply all our needs? We needn’t be anxious about our needs. He chose us from before the foundation of the world, that we might walk in Him. He is the beginning and the end. We needn’t worry about the future! Who can bring a charge against us? Jesus is the judge who justifies! We needn’t worry about our salvation. We are secure in Christ. Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. We have the Spirit. We needn’t waste any more energy on anxiety. God is in control. And we are blessed to be His stewards.

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“What do you do when you’re anxious?” Lauryn and I asked each other. When our hearts start pounding, our thoughts start racing and the emotions seem beyond our control, we’re learning to guide them back to the truth, by the Spirit. We sing. We thank. We pray. We rehearse God’s works. We remember His grace. We cling to His promises. Sometimes we weep. Always we grow.

And always the Lord proves faithful. Always He is in control. Always, through His mercy and peace we survive. We more than survive–we overwhelmingly conquer.

Listen to Lauryn’s original song, “Do Not Be Anxious”. Enjoy!

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Turkey Casserole

November 23, 2008 at 7:54 am (Counter Culture) (, , , , )

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked turkey

2 cups cooked rice

1 cup cooked celery

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup mayonnaise

4 tbsp chopped onion

1 cup crushed corn flakes (or breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/8 cup melted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the first six ingredients and spread in greased baking dish.  Mix cornflakes, almonds and butter and spread on top of turkey mixture.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Also can be frozen (uncooked) for a quick meal another day!  Our favorite way to use up leftover turkey after Thanksgiving!

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Bread of Life

November 22, 2008 at 6:04 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , )

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Today, as I shared in the bread and loaf, Jesus’ miraculous feeding of five thousand came back to me-with some interesting correlations. Jesus fed five thousand people with a broken loaf. He fed many more than that with His body–which He proclaimed as the bread of life. He gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples to distribute among the multitude. At the last supper, He said, “This is My body, for you” and handed it out to His disciples. In the same way, He chose to share Himself with the world, through His disciples. Each of us has received a piece of Jesus’ body, as partakers in His grace, which, miraculously, is enough for us to share with everyone with whom we come into contact. With multitudes. And no matter how much of His grace we pass on, there will still be basketfuls left! That’s how sufficient the sacrifice of Jesus is. Almost wasteful in its extravagance. When God provides, He always does so extravagantly. Above and beyond all that we ask or think.

Yet I distribute so little of the Bread of Life. I wish with all my heart I were a gifted evangelist.

Lord, Thou broke Thyself for all,
And I have heard Thy Spirit’s call
To eat of Thee and then to spread
Thy wine of life to those claimed dead.

In laziness I tend to eat
And deem myself a loved elite
Grow fat, and store Thee on a shelf
To hoard and keep for just myself.

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Situational Modesty and Upcoming Posts

November 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm (Announcements, Modesty) (, , , , , , , , )

Hello ladies,

Abigail and I are still a little slow when it comes to the meatier articles we intend to write. We hope you’ve enjoyed the more devotional posts we’ve made lately–and the recipes!

I have written and posted about three articles for the series on Situational Modesty, only “diving in” to one situation thus far: swimwear. As I have tried recently to write about other situations I have come up dry. I really think that to appropriately deal with some of the issues we want to address as far as situational modesty is concerned, we need to put a bit more time into developing not only well thought-out articles, but also helpful illustrations and even some fun and more interactive displays of what we mean. So it will most likely be a few months before we move on in the department of situational modesty, perhaps in the spring time when this issue becomes more prominent. To give you a heads-up, the two situations that I have plans for are formal wear and athletic wear. If you can think of any other situations in which you or Christian girls in general are tempted to compromise their standards, please let us know and we will try to examine them as well.

In the mean time, Abigail and I plan to develop articles related to recent issues that have come up in discussion (both online and with local friends), those being the practice of headcovering, women’s roles, and a godly woman’s courage. Abigail’s also got a couple of series in the making focusing on discerning the will of God and on wasted emotions. So stick around! We’ll have plenty of devos, more personal posts, and yummy treats for you to enjoy, as well as a slew of meatier articles that will require more chewing…and a longer cooking time. 😉

Blessings!

laurens-sig1

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Our Very First Giveaway WINNER!!!

November 17, 2008 at 2:17 pm (Announcements) (, , , , )

Well, we’ve conferred with our judge (eleven year old Lydia) and she blindly selected the winner of our very first giveaway! We are happy to announce that Onlyonelife4jesus has won a copy of Randy Alcorn’s book, The Treasure Principle! Onlyonelife4jesus, please email us with your mailing address so that we can send you this wonderful book! 🙂

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Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Bread

November 16, 2008 at 7:43 am (Counter Culture) (, , , )

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups oil

5 eggs

2 cups pumpkin

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 pkgs instant coconut pie filling (3 oz)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream eggs, oil and pumpkin.  Add sugar.  Blend thoroughly.  Mix dry ingredients separately and add to liquid, stirring constantly.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.  Fill pans 1/2 full with batter.  Bake for an hour.

This is the best pumpkin bread we’ve ever tasted!  If you no of one better, it must be sinful!

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Power, Love and Discipline

November 14, 2008 at 7:15 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , )

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I walked into the college library one day, laptop tucked under my arm and cast a quick smile at a little Japanese girl, sitting nearby. As my computer booted up she approached me with her own laptop. “Can you help me?” A wave of helplessness washed over me as I looked at her screen-not the blue screen of death, but the completely normal screen with EVERYTHING in Japanese. I maneuvered my way through familiar icons to help her connect to the internet and sent her on her way, ignoring the little voice that whispered, “You have something more important to help her with-she needs Jesus.” Paul told Timothy to fan into flame his gift-apparently evangelism. And he said, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of POWER, LOVE and DISCIPLINE.” No one ever quotes that verse with the last two, but they really struck me. Often I shy aware from sharing God’s truth-afraid I won’t be able to communicate. Afraid I’ll find a hard heart. Afraid I’ll offend. God’s given us His power to speak out in boldness. He’s also given us His love for the lost to speak out in boldness. And He’s given us His discipline-after all, we are His disciples. It’s not easy. It takes effort and practice-even for someone with the gift of evangelism, as Timothy apparently had. But it’s something God’s given us, and we’d better be using it.

Lord, I’ve got the power inside
Which formed the moon to rule the tide.
I’ve got the love which sent Thy Son
To give His life for everyone.

I’ve got Thy holy discipline
Now freeing me from self and sin.
Why do I fear the broken soul
When Thou hast made my own heart whole?

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Four-and-twenty blackbirds…er…years

November 12, 2008 at 1:30 am (Announcements) (, , )

Look who’s officially 24 today!

Happy birthday, Lauren!

Now, isn’t she a dainty dish?

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Yummy Squash Casserole

November 9, 2008 at 7:24 am (Counter Culture) (, , , , , )

Ingredients:

1 lb hamburger

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 package of taco seasoning

3-4 large tomatoes

2 medium squash (yellow or zucchinni)

8 oz package Mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large skillet, brown hamburger with onion and pepper.  Drain off grease.  Add taco seasoning.  Quarter tomatoes, then halve quarters.  Slice squash about 1/4” thick.  Add to hamburger.  Simmer until squash is done.  Top with cheese and cover with a lid until cheese melts.  Serve hot to a hungry family!

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All Things Well

November 7, 2008 at 1:33 pm (Poetry) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

abigail

And they were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak!” ~Mark 7:37

Dissatisfaction, restless urge
From my weary soul be purged
And with the strength to shout and sing
Stand before the Lord, thy King
What He chooses none can tell
But He doeth all things well.

Doubt and fear, sharp sorrow cease
Be filled instead with heaven’s peace
Peace with God means peace of soul
He comes to make the broken whole
What His plans are, none can tell
But He doeth all things well.

Complaint and bitterness depart
Fill with content, oh broken heart
His load is easy, burden light
And He disperses bonds of night
Of His wisdom none can tell
But He doeth all things well.

Thoughts of self flee from my head
Crown Him in their place instead
Vanish plans to make me great
Kneel before Him. Will to wait.
Of His promise I can tell
He will do it. All is well.

abigails-sig1

copyright 2003

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The Source of Joy

November 5, 2008 at 8:14 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

untitledI had a very brief conversation with a lady from church this week about joy. I shared how suffering for the sake of Christ, or even just suffering in general, can bring greater joy than in perhaps any other circumstances because we are stripped of all other things that bring us joy and we see the brilliance of the glory of God and prize it more fully in contrast to our destitute and miserable situation. She commented, not exactly in disagreement, but added that she thought the key to joy is contentment-so whether we’re in trials or in good times, whether we’re changing diapers or are rejoicing in our toddler’s first steps or other earthly blessings, we can have joy if we are content, satisfied with Christ and rejoicing in Him. And I would (mostly) agree.

But as I’ve meditated on this conversation and have spent quite a bit of joyous time singing to the Lord and praying to Him while folding clothes, it occurred to me that there is only one key to joy and it is not contentment.

The key to joy is Jesus Christ Himself. I know, I know…that’s the classic “Sunday School answer”, isn’t it? But it is so very true, and if we miss this, we will miss the focal point of all God-glorifying and soul-satisfying gladness! Consider this: We have the joy of our salvation in Him. We have the love of the Father and fellowship with our Creator in Him. We are made complete in Him. We have the promise of our inheritance in God’s eternal kingdom in Him. We have blessings in this life only by His grace. We suffer for His sake and are identified with Him in His sufferings as a gift of His grace. We have His Holy Spirit working in us to conform us to His image, according to His will. We will be with Him forever and will experience fullness of joy in His presence because of Him. We rejoice in hope because of the promises of God that are ours in Christ Jesus. Truly, apart from Him we can do nothing, and without Him we have nothing. We cannot have true joy if He is not the source of it!

No, the key to joy is not contentment. And suffering itself will not produce it in the believer, either. Prizing Jesus above all things is the key to joy-that your joy is wrapped up in Him and nothing else. And this is absolutely linked to contentment-if you truly hold Jesus as your greatest, even your only treasure, then you will be content! And your contentment in all things will be possible because of the strength which the Lord provides (Phil. 4:13). If you aren’t content, you’re probably not prizing Jesus most of all-you’ve perhaps forgotten how wonderful He is, or you’ve set your mind on earthly things, or you’ve stopped believing some of His promises (among which are “I will never leave you nor forsake you” “In Him you are complete” and “those who hope in Him will not be disappointed”). Either there’s something in the way or you’ve looked away.

And when it comes to running this race with endurance and the strength to lay aside the sin and other things that hinder us, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. He is our example, He is our source, He is our joy. And in following Him, we endure trials “for the joy set before us”.

Many are “content” and many suffer who do not know real joy. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is to rejoice in the Lord at all times, to know and value above all else the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. That is eternal life (John 17:3). And in Christ Jesus (in abiding in His love, hearing His word, obeying Him) is our joy made full, and it is in His presence that there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore! (John 15:11, Ps. 16:11)

Meditate on the verses I’ve referenced, and read the book of Philippians, focusing on the themes of joy, contentment, and suffering-and the infinite value of Christ Himself, with which no other thing can ever compare! Contentment with things or circumstances and endurance through suffering are bi-products of having joy in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! What a beautiful thing that we don’t have to be tossed around by things that happen to us or around us! There is one source of joy for us, and it is our blessed Savior! Keep this in mind as it relates to this recent election, or whatever gloomy things you may be facing; and keep it in mind as it relates to the earthly blessings you have received-they are trash compared to Christ! And join me in praising God for His amazing grace!

Blessings!

laurens-sig1

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Chicken Bundles Italian

November 2, 2008 at 7:17 am (Counter Culture) (, , , , )

Ingredients:

2 medium chicken breasts, skinned, boned and coarsely chopped

2 cups sliced onions

1 tbsp olive oil

1 10-oz package frozen, chopped spinach, partially thawed and drained

1 cup low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp lemon juice

12 large egg roll wrappers

Directions:

In a large skillet, cook chicken and onion in hot oil over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink and onion is tender.  In a large mixing bowl combine spinach, , ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, nutmeg and lemon juice.  Stir in chicken and onions.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease muffin tins and line each tin with an egg roll wrapper.  Divide chicken mixture among the muffin tins.  Fold the edges of each wrapper up over the top of chicken mixture, sealing to make a bundle.  Brush or spray tops with oil or melted  butter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden-brown.  To serve, loosen bundles with a knife and remove from tins.

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