Friday, November 28, 2008
In case you are wondering what was on our plates, here is what our menu consisted of:
Chicken & cornbread dressing
Whole kernel corn
Candied potato pumpkin
Sweet potato casserole (daughter made this yummy dish)
Deviled Eggs (daughter made these too)
Home-made whole wheat rolls
4-Layer Strawberry Cake
Ummmmmmmm! Makes my mouth water just looking at the picture and thinking about it! I usually only make dressing at Thanksgiving and at Christmas so I make a huge pan. Then after we eat all we can hold at dinner, I get out the empty Cool Whip bowls that I have saved and fill them up with dressing for the kids to take home with them. Our daughter laughingly reminded us of the time when she was attending college about 12 hours from home and wanted to take some dressing back with her. We froze a plastic container full of the dressing and then when it was time for her to leave we wrapped it really well and she put it in the middle of her clothes in her suitcase. Since she flew back to school it didn't have time to defrost and she was able to heat and eat it and share with her roommate who had never tasted southern cornbread dressing before!
Seems like I always want to be eating something! I am almost always hungry! But that's my physical body. On the other hand I sometimes have to force feed myself the spiritual food that I need! Such a pity that I don't hunger after the Word of God as much as I do food. It's even more important! Jesus said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6: 51 (KJV )
My goal is to be more hungry for the Living Bread than for a piece of cake! I like to be "full and filled" with food but I'd rather be "fulfilled" with the Spirit of God. How about you? What do you hunger for?
Monday, November 24, 2008
For over twenty years I taught a Sunday School class of children aged six to eight years old. Every Christmas I would try to give my Sunday school pupils a small gift. I remember one year I gave a little metal car or truck to each of the boys in my class. As I handed the gifts out after class was over, one of the little boys threw his car violently down on the ground! He told me in no uncertain terms that he did NOT like the present I had brought him! In his words, “That’s NOT what I wanted!” I reached down, picked up the toy, and calmly told him that he didn’t have to take the present….that I would just take it and give it to some other little boy. Needless to say, that didn’t go over too well with him either! He then began to beg profusely to have the little car back. Of course, I gave it to him …but with mixed feelings. I was glad that in the end he decided he wanted my gift, but sorry that he had been so ungrateful in the beginning.
If we were to be honest, I wonder how many of those same selfish traits you and I exhibit in our everyday lives? When God gives us food to eat each day how many times do we turn up our noses if it’s not something rich and fattening? When God provides clothes to wear how often do we complain because they are not our favorite color or the latest style?
At times I am actually doing the same thing with gifts from God that my little student did with his Christmas gift. I throw my gift from God on the ground, stamp my feet, push my lips into a pout and say to Him…”That’s NOT what I wanted!” How childish and immature I must seem to Him. He deserves my thanks and praise always! He continually gives far and above more than I need. (“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12: 27-31 KJV)
As I tried to start writing something about Thanksgiving, all I could think about was how UN-thankful people…including myself…. have become. I know this is not right because we are told in the Bible that we should give thanks always. (“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Ephesians 5:20 KJV ) When I begin to think of all the things I should be (and am) thankful for in this life, the list is unending. I am above all most thankful for the grace that the Lord Jesus Christ has shown in saving me and giving me eternal life. (“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” II Corinthians 9: 15 KJV)
During this Thanksgiving season, I hope you will join with me as I try to be more aware of and more thankful for all God's many gifts (“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100: 4-5)
As you enjoy this week of Thanksgiving may you look back on it as a time of "Thanks-Given" to Him!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100: 4-5(KJV)
A few nights ago I was watching the local news when the news anchor made a statement that made me both mad and sad. He remarked that although many people still had jack-o-lantern pumpkins sitting on their front porches, the department stores already had their decorations out for “our next holiday”. Well, I knew very well that he was talking about Christmas but that is not our next holiday. What happened to Thanksgiving?…the oldest, purest, truly American holiday we celebrate? And, please!…..don’t call it “Turkey Day” either! It’s true what the news anchor said….the stores are all getting ready for the Christmas rush. Why is that? Why do people decorate for Halloween and Christmas but almost totally ignore Thanksgiving?
I think that the main reason may be that so many people have become self-sufficient to the extent that they believe they have made themselves what they are and don’t owe any thanks to anyone. More and more people are forgetting that everything they have ultimately has been given to them by a loving God. (“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1: 17)
We have such a high standard of living in our country that many people have never had to do without the basic necessities and therefore are not grateful for the things they have. Even many of the ones who do live in poverty believe that someone “owes” them a better life and may not be grateful for the things they do have. (“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” II Timothy 3: 2 ) God has been gradually pushed farther and farther in the background in the past twenty-five years or so and now this great day that was set aside to give thanks to God for all He has done for us is reduced to nothing more than “Turkey Day”. (“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100: 3)
As Christians, let us truly give thanks as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year and remember that all our blessings are because of the wonderful mercies and love of our Lord. We don’t want our children and grandchildren to ask us some day…”Can you tell me the story of how you used to have a Thanksgiving Day?” Let’s keep the day alive!
“For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100: 5
May each of you have a blessed time of giving thanks this year is my prayer!
(this post is also in the November edition of JournEzine HERE )
Friday, November 14, 2008
Do any of ya'll cook with cast iron anymore? I have one skillet that I use only to cook bread in....either cornbread or biscuits. Lately I have gotten so frustrated with that skillet! For any of you who might not cook with cast iron I'll tell you this.....it has to be "seasoned" first so everything doesn't stick. Then after that the food turns loose much easier. So for a long, long time I prided myself on this one skillet being so easy to use. I would cook a pan of cornbread and when it was done all I had to do was just gently tip the skillet over and the cornbread would fall out onto the waiting plate just as pretty as you please!
Then a few months ago I guess I must have accidentally used the skillet to cook something else. Some kind of meat or some vegetables. I'm not sure what it was. The next time I cooked cornbread and tipped the skillet over expecting the bread to fall out on the plate as usual, I was sadly surprised to find that it didn't! It just sat there! Stuck in the pan! I had to grab my trusty thin bladed spatula and try to coax it gently from the pan. But gently would not do. I had to forcefully practically scrape it out of the pan. And then instead of a beautifully smooth and crispy crust on the bread I had a crumbly torn-up mess! Plus another mess in the pan to clean up instead of being able to just rinse and dry as usual.
It's taken a long time but the pan is almost....not totally....but almost back to the "seasoned" condition I like. Most days it only takes one very gentle touch of the spatula under the cornbread and it pops out nice and pretty. One day it did actually fall out like it used to do all the time and I wanted to celebrate!
I wonder if God ever thinks about us in that way? Sometimes we seem to be fully "seasoned" in the Word of God and we are able to let the worries and cares of this world just slide off our shoulders. And then at other times it seems like we let any and everything bothersome stick to us! Then we have to spend our time scraping and chipping away at the mess that, had we been "seasoned" right, would never have stuck!
Last night I had a nice visit with one of our sons. I was confiding to him that I was surely concerned and fearful about a lot of things that were happening in our nation and world today. And how that I dreaded hard times and persecutions that might come our way. As you can tell, things were sticking to me pretty badly! His reply to me was that the worst thing I could do was sit and worry and fear what might happen someday! That God had not given us the spirit of fear and bondage but of freedom. He didn't use these words but he basically reminded me that if God brings us to it, He will bring us through it! What an encouragement that was to me. Son was certainly all "seasoned" up and able to let the cares and worry slide right off his back!
I think that is what God wants of Christians. When we are all "seasoned up" we need to go and help encourage others who have gotten "stuck" in the cares of the world. Thanks son for encouraging Mama last night!
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Romans 8: 15-18 (KJV)
May God bless you!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A few years ago I was trying hard to teach a Sunday school lesson to a rather unruly group of seven and eight year old boys and girls one morning. There was one little boy who persisted in interrupting me with questions or remarks that had nothing whatsoever to do with the lesson that day. “Would you please be quiet?” I finally blurted out! The little fellow stopped in mid-sentence and looked at me in surprise. A classmate jeeringly added his two cents... “He’s always gettin' in trouble! Nobody likes him at school. He don’t have any friends!” I thought to myself, “What a rude thing for a little boy to say about his peer. How that must hurt!” About that time another boy in the class piped up and announced, “Well, I’ll be his friend !” The little guy who had been the focus of this conversation looked as if he’d been given a hundred dollars. That simple offer of friendship seemed to amaze him. I thought about my reaction to his constant interruptions and decided that maybe the lesson that God wanted me to teach that day was not the one written in my Sunday School book but one of His love for each and every person in the world, especially little children.
The situation reminded me of a verse in the Old Testament…Proverbs 10: 12, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” The first little boy’s comments “stirred up strife” but the love in the other boy’s declaration, “I’ll be his friend!”, covered all imperfections! Out of the mouth of babes! I suppose that may be why Jesus said that unless we come to Him as little children we cannot know Him. (“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Mark 10: 15)
Children have the ability to love totally, completely, and without the promise of being loved in return. They don’t ask, “What’s in it for me?” How nice it would be if I could take the wisdom that comes with age and combine it with the love that only a child can give. What a full life that would be. The only thing better would be the fullness of life in Christ. (“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3: 19)
We can have the fullest life imaginable through God’s gift of eternal life. God will give this life eternal if we will only accept Him and His free pardon of sin. (“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24: 7)
People still look for a “Fountain of Youth”. And there are some of us who have found it! With eternal life in Christ, we will live forever with Him in a land “where we’ll never grow old”. (“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new….” Revelation 21: 4-5a)
My prayer is that you, too, have received eternal life through Jesus Christ!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In the USA, today is Veteran's Day. I want to take just a minute and say THANK YOU to all the Veterans that I know and those I don't know who may read this blog. Thank you for leaving your families and homes and perhaps your country to go and do whatever job our country demanded of you. Thank you to the men and women who came before us and gave their time, energy, blood, sweat and tears to make sure we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
A special Thanks to my husband who served in Vietnam and to our oldest son who served two deployments to Iraq. Either or both of these men would still today be willing to give their lives to defend "truth, justice, and the American way"!
There are other "soldiers" who I want to remember today also. The Christian Soldiers who have stood firm and shed tears and even their blood to promote the love of Christ and reflect His light to the world. The problems and troubles in this ole world seem to get darker and darker but I suppose that will make the light of Christ shine brighter through our lives if we will let it. A favorite saying of one of our friends concerning the uncertainities of our day is this: "It's getting gloriously dark!"
Paul laid out a Battle Plan for Christians in Ephesians 6: 12-17. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
We can't win any battles and certainly not a war unless we are covered by the protective Hand of God. So let's put on the whole armour of God every day and go out and "fight". Satan is trying to discourage us, deceive us, destroy us, and distance us from God but he can't win if we have the full armour on every day. And by the way...."I've read the back of the book and we win!"
I pray today that God would bless each veteran with a peace in their minds and hearts that can only come from above. You have my honor, my respect, and my thanks!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Don't you just hate to hear things that go bump in the night? I do! But I've been hearing them a lot lately! The first time it happened I almost jumped out of my skin! It sounded like a rifle shot! But no....it was an ACORN falling from a high branch of the oak tree onto our tin roof. The first acorn fell and landed with a loud BOOM! Soon another fell. Then another. You would think that I would eventually get used to the sound but it still makes me jump almost every time!
Last night the wind got up pretty high and I could hear acorns falling by the dozens. Instead of just an occasional "boom" there was a constant "rat-a-tat-tat" on the old tin roof! My first thought was that I was glad I wasn't standing out there under the tree getting hit by them! ha I'm actually still hearing them falling as I write tonight!
As I said, this morning I looked at the acorns and I looked at the mighty oak tree. It just seems so awesome that something that big can come from something that small. But shouldn't that give us hope? When I talk to people about God they sometimes turn away or scoff and I am tempted to think..."What's the use? What I can do seems so little." But then I remember that I am just called to sow a seed of faith. Some other Christian will come along and water that seed. Then God will give the increase. He can make something big out of my something little. I remember the song that says, "Little is much when God is in it". My hope is that someday a gospel seed I have planted in some boy or girl, man or woman, will grow into a big and mighty faith that will be strong enough to withstand the storms that life brings.
I Corinthians 3: 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Let us keep "planting" and "watering" as laborers together for Christ!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I have found this to be true in my own life and have seen it to be so in the lives of those around me. Bitterness is something we all have to struggle with. The word bitterness can mean " to fester", "to be sarcastic", "to be jealous", "to rankle", or "to be hard". We've all had times in our lives when things happened that made us have some of these feelings. Sometimes bitterness can be a secret sin. Someone does some kind of wrong to us…we get bitter….but we want to appear as good in the eyes of our friends so we try to not let this bitterness show. So it doesn't hurt the one we're mad at….it only hurts us. Isn't it ironic that in wanting to hurt someone else, we end up only hurting ourselves?
On the other hand, sometimes bitterness is extremely obvious. Let's say that a mother has lost a son to death and she blames God for all her sorrow. She may curse God and never set foot in a church again. It is very obvious to all who know her that she is a bitter person. There may be another mother down the street who has lost a child, too, but she has continued to be faithful to God and has used the compassion she has found through the death of her own child to become a comfort to other grieving parents. This latter mother has become better through her trial instead of bitter.
The only "good" definition of bitterness I found was "to show sorrow." In Zechariah 12:10 the Bible says, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." This verse paints a picture of how we should feel when the grace of God has been applied to our lives and we realize that it was our sins that "pierced" the Son of God. Then we should be in "bitterness", or in other words, show sorrow for our sins.
Yes, friends, I have found it so very easy in my own life to become bitter but it is so much more rewarding to take our problems, our disappointments, our losses, and our pressing cares to the One who can make all things right. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
While studying to write this article, I came across a quote by Harry Emerson Fosdick that I thought summed up the contrast between bitterness and its opposite, which is love. Here is the quote:
"Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.
Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it.
Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it.
Bitterness sickens life; love heals it.
Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes."
My prayer is that both you and I may have the power of the Love of Christ in our lives "lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." (Hebrews 12:15 b)