Monday, March 31, 2014

Word for the Week


Psalm 119:25 (NLT) - I lie in the dust; revive me by your word. 

Psalm 119:50 (NLT) - Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles. 

Psalm 85:6 (NLT) - Won't you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?

Psalm 119:37 (NKJV) - Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in your way.

Psalm 119:40 (NKJV) - Behold, I long for your precepts; Revive me in your righteousness.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Epaphras Praying by Kim Wright

Every Friday, we will be wrestling in prayer over our children. Click HERE to read Kim Wright's post that started the concept of Epaphras praying.

Read Colossians 1:1-14 personalizing these verses in prayer for your children.

V 9  Father, please fill my children with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

V 10  Help my children to live a life worthy of you, and may they please you in every way bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of you,

V 11 being strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that they may have great endurance and patience, and

V12  joyfully give thanks to you who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Zucchini Noodles by Paula Roten

Recently, my daughter sent a "happy" to my house. I had been wanting to play with a spiralizer or spirooli or zoodler or spiral vegetable slicer. They have a lot of different names (and prices!) but seem to all be the same thing. You see, I'm a sucker for kitchen gadgets, and this one intrigued me. So she sent it to me!

I love zucchini and yellow squash, and I had seen where people had used this gadget to make squash "noodles." I was wondering if I might be able to substitute these squash noodles for pasta. So my first recipe was Zucchini Noodles from I made it using a mixture of yellow squash and zucchini and LOVED the squash cooked this way. It tastes so much better than just chopped up. Ok, it may all be in my head, but so be it! Then I decided to see if I could sub it for pasta. I made a tomato garlic reduction to put on top of my zoodles. It was great too! So now I'm on the search for other ways to use my zoodles. So far, I've used my zoodles in Chicken Zoodle Soup and used them as a base for a chicken alfredo sauce. They're a winner every time. (If you don't have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler or a mandolin.)

photo of the Paderno in use by bd. weld

6 zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons margarine
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1.Cut zucchini into thin, noodle-like strips (a mandoline works well for this). Toss with the 2 teaspoons salt, and place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.
2.Bring a pot of water to boil. Add zucchini; cook for one minute. Drain; rinse immediately with cold water to stop cooking.
3.Heat margarine in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add zucchini and garlic; cook and stir until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

*NOTE - I skip steps 1 and 2 in this recipe and go straight to cooking my zucchini and garlic in the butter. Works just fine. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mother of the Bride by Kim Wright

I’ve just experienced a new kind of tired: “Mother of the Bride” tired! Its only close rival is “Mother of a Newborn” tired…and both experiences are similar in that while they bring joy and happiness and anticipation of great things to come…they both have a way of leaving you physically, emotionally, and even spiritually depleted. 

The morning before my daughter’s wedding, I was exhausted. My plate was full. I had a “to do” list a mile long, and just a few short hours to get them checked off. Along with all my wedding responsibilities, I had my family responsibilities…most mothers of the bride don’t have to juggle 9 other kids and their schedules at the same time they’re trying to pull off a wedding…can I just say, I was in over my head!? I was completely and utterly overwhelmed.

I got up early because, frankly, I couldn’t sleep. My mind was so busy that I had simply tossed and turned all night, unable to turn off my thoughts and succumb to a much needed rest. I sat down at the computer, planning to check my emails and looking for something mindless to occupy my few moments of quiet. I knew I should do my Bible study, but to be honest, I didn’t want to think…I didn’t want anything that would cause effort of any kind…I just wanted to escape for a few blessed minutes.

As I waited for my computer to load, I felt a tugging at my heart…
"this might be the only opportunity I had today to read my Bible and to have time alone with Jesus"…"I really should make the effort"..."I might need what He has to say to me."

I switched off my computer before it ever got started and trudged over to my recliner. I grudgingly picked up my Bible and started where my bookmark had left me last time. I really was not in the mood for this. I was going through the motions because I knew it was the right thing to do…but my heart really wasn’t in it.

The very first verse waiting for me that morning:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matt. 11:28-30

Wow. I had almost missed it…this beautiful, life giving, encouraging love note from my Savior. He knew exactly where I was and what I needed…and He had it right there waiting for me. I was completely humbled and awed and overwhelmed by His great love and compassion for me. I wept at His mercies which really are new every morning!

I looked a little deeper at this verse. What is a “yoke” exactly? My dictionary said it was a device that joined together a pair of animals, such as oxen. The two would work together to plow a field. 

While this verse has many different meanings and connotations, on this day, for my need at hand, I understood that He wasn’t going to necessarily take my work load away…but He was going to help me do it! For a moment, I imagined myself as a smaller weaker animal who’d never worked a field of this magnitude before, yoked together with a large muscular veteran. He was going to do most of the work for me. I simply had to walk along beside him...He would take the brunt of it for me. He would make things easier for me…He would make my burden light.  

I also noticed that I was to learn gentleness and humility from Him. How interesting that He threw that in with these verses about experiencing weariness and carrying burdens, because I tend to be snippy and selfish when I am tired and stressed. How I needed that loving reminder to respond in gentleness and humility of heart throughout my busy weekend!!

How grateful I am that God took the time to speak to me through His Word. He met me at my point of need. He spoke directly to my situation.  

Now I want to encourage you…what is YOUR need? I can assure you that God knows every detail of your life. He knows your thoughts. He knows your needs. He knows your burdens. He not only knows…He cares. His Word is relevant and True…a sure foundation. Take the time to read it…even if you don’t feel like it! Don’t neglect it! You never know what love note He might have waiting for YOU!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WORD FOR THE WEEK - return to me

This verse is a reminder of how much our God loves and pursues us, even after we've chosen to follow Him and then sin again. I love the way the NLT translates the end of this verse: "...Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free." 

"Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain - 
He washed it white as snow." 
           ("Jesus Paid It All" by Elvina M. Hall and John T. Grape)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Epaphras Prayer by Kim Wright

I actually wrote the article below approximately 8 years ago when my oldest daughter (now 23) was only 15. At that time, as a result of this experience, I made a notebook in which I changed verses from the book of Colossians into prayers for my family. I have prayed these verses off and on throughout the years, adding children’s names as our family has increased. Unfortunately, just like the “me” of 8 years ago…I tend to go through cycles where I pray these specific scriptures more consistently than at other times, but the ultimate prayer of my heart throughout the years has remained the same, that each of my children would come to the place where they are “standing firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Of all the things I’ve done for my kids, I will say this has been one of the most beneficial. Whenever I dust off the notebook and begin to pray these scriptures for them (and myself and my husband), I always see God move. Will you join me on a journey of prayer for our families as I pull out the notebook once again?  

Here’s the story that prompted a busy young mom to pray, “Once upon a time, a long, long time ago…”

Epaphras Prayer

Recently, my oldest daughter went on a mission trip to Mexico with her youth group. Although I was thrilled that she was going, I have to admit I was battling my share of worries. Because of the rural location of where they would be working, we were told to expect no communication from our kids for the entirety of the trip. What was a mother to do? The only thing I could do was pray.

One night as I was studying, I came across a verse that grabbed my attention. Colossians 4:12 spoke about a man named Epaphras who was praying for his fellow Christians in Colosse. The verse went on to say "...He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured."

Wrestling in prayer...I could identify with that! That's what I committed to do for my daughter. Every morning and night, and many times in between, I was on my face praying for her and her group. Time that I normally would have spent on the computer or watching a video, I instead spent crying out to God on my daughter's behalf. Finally, the Mexico trip came to a conclusion, and my daughter was home safe and sound. My prayers had been answered! I put up my journal and settled back into the routine of family life. 

That verse began to tug at my heart. What did it say again? "...He is always wrestling in prayer for you..." That kind of prayer is difficult! I don't have time for that! Wrestling conjures up images of blood, sweat, tears, energy. It is not easy. You cannot wrestle half-heartedly and expect to win!

Not only that, but Epaphras was always wrestling in prayer. His praying was consistent, constant...the kind that doesn't let up. Now, I have wrestled in prayer for my children many times. But, unfortunately, when the crisis is over, often my wholehearted praying is too.

There is always an opponent in wrestling. In my personal prayer life, Satan often tries to defeat me with complacency, procrastination, and just plain laziness. Why would he fight so hard against my having a constant, devoted prayer life on behalf of my children? Just look at the results of such a prayer life: "...that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured." Wow! That is my greatest aspiration for my kids. Nothing would bring greater joy and peace in my life than to see each of my children "standing firm in all the will of God, mature, and fully assured."

How can this become a reality in my children? I must be willing to spend time, effort, and energy on my knees praying on behalf of my children. Will it be difficult? Sure. Will it be worth it? Definitely! I must become an Epaphras for my children.


(Over the next few weeks, Kim will take us through the book of Colossians, pulling out verses and helping us to personalize them for our children. Maybe you would like to purchase a journal and copy these verses, specifically personalizing them for your individual children, and "wrestling in prayer" for them. Look for these posts every Friday.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Dirty Little Secret by Christie Smith

Here it is. The truth. I used to hate to read my Bible! When others talked about loving to read God's Word or waking up early just to have an hour or two of "quiet time," well... I thought they were a bunch of liars! Oh, I joined right in, even though I didn't understand how they were so joyful about it. I wanted to have the joy they were talking about, but frankly, I just didn't get it. I had tried everything I thought you were supposed to do to have the right kind of devotion time. I got up before dawn, cued the cheerfulness, had my notebooks and commentaries and different translations all laid out and ready to go, I ignored my grumbling stomach, I would read for 20-30 minutes straight, sit still and wait for God to speak to me...wait to be inspired. And every time I wasn't inspired I felt like a failure. So, when people talked of their love for the Bible, I felt guilt and shame that I didn't love it too. 

Then I started to notice something. There was this voice inside my head that discounted every brief moment I did love the Bible. Like listening to a song on the radio that had scripture in it and totally relating to that verse in a new way. (But that doesn't count as studying.) And I found that I absorbed more and liked it better when I read Scripture a little at a time throughout the day. (But that doesn't count as a quiet time.) All of the journals I had that were supposed to be filled with inspirational thoughts from God, I started writing verses in them. Just verses, no thoughts of my own whatsoever. (But that's not really studying). And sometimes I couldn't get up early because I was tired or sick or the kids beat me to it. (You're so lazy!) Over and over again, I explained away the things I did enjoy about the Bible. I continually discounted them because they didn't meet my definition of what a devotional study time looked like. For some reason I had this thought that if it was fun and easy, if I enjoyed it or it made my heart happy, then it didn't count. I mean, truly devout, "holy" people weren't supposed to enjoy life...right? God wants us to be miserable in our humbleness and self-pity...right? When I finally realized what I actually thought, I realized how stupid it sounded! Did I really think God wanted the Bible to be unpleasant and for me to be unhappy? And who was this person in my head saying all of this?! 

Finally I let go of my preconceived notion of what a quiet time is supposed to look like. Sometimes I have lots of time to spend reading and studying His Word...most of the time I don't. But I know that God loves me either way. And my relationship with God is mine. Not yours. Not my husband's or my best friend's or the so-perfectly-holy-woman on the other side of the sanctuary that I will never be because I'm not her. I'm me! And that's ok with God so it better start being ok with me! 

Here's another little secret: the moment I let go of the guilt and shame and started enjoying those brief moments I found with God, I actually started loving the Bible. I started looking for spare moments throughout the day to read or memorize Scripture. I started getting up early because I wanted to, not because I had to. I was becoming one of those crazy people that loved to read God's Word! And you know what? They weren't liars after all. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Breakfast Spinach Smoothie by Kim Wright

When my spin instructor at the DAC talked about her kids loving this healthy smoothie, I knew I had to give it a try! The name and the bright green color may scare them a bit, but it honestly tastes like a banana shake. Even my veggie haters like it! My 5 year old even requested it for breakfast this morning! It’s a great way to start the day!

Breakfast Spinach Smoothie

1 packet Nestle Carnation instant breakfast-vanilla flavor
1 c. fresh spinach
½ tsp flax seed
½ tsp wheat germ
1 c. milk
1 frozen banana

Place all in the blender and blend until desired consistency.

(Note: no need to let fresh spinach go bad. Measure desired amounts, put in baggies, and freeze. You can still use it for smoothies, even sauces like spinach alfredo sauce!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Truth and Transparency by Tony Manley

How are truth and transparency related? Both start with the sound /tr/ (sorry, I teach little people and I see way too many details in words and sounds ☺) and both are given as foundational needs/requirements from God to live life in freedom, peace, and joy.

Lately, I have felt surrounded by the effects of a broken world – sin that spills over from the secret places of the heart. Ugly thoughts grow into ugly words that grow into ugly behaviors (the life process of sin James 1:15). The amazing and sad aspect of this process often comes from those who have been rescued, redeemed, adopted, and forgiven by the very One who can change thoughts, words, and behaviors! Marriages, friendships, parent-child relationships, churches are all ending in way too much brokenness - dissolved. In my simple-minded thinking, the truth of “one step outside the will or way of God is the far country” (spoken by our pastor this Sunday in reference to the prodigal son) is one step too far.  “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be made known.”  (Lk. 12:2)

Basically, the truth is I cannot live a secret hearted life without being made transparent at some point. The secrets in my heart – unforgiveness, discontentment, criticizing ways, weariness, or just ignoring the Holy Spirit’s voice – will be brought out. I can begin to see the bringing out of these secrets in my speech and if not dealt with well at the thought or speech level, then I assure you my behavior will “out” me!

As the principle of truth and transparency is swirling around me, I have observed several broken marriages, broken ministries because of behaviors toward others that were “excused” because at least one side would not bow in humility to release or forgive the hurt they believed they had the right to retain, and then the number of friendships that have ended because reconciliation could not be achieved. The prodigal, the believer, the spouse, the ministry member, the friend – all experienced some type of hurt, selfish demand, and an opportunity to repent, turn back, or even flee before embracing the flesh’s response. 

Daily, even moment by moment, I must know truth and how to execute truth quickly in my core. My heart is always the starting point. God requires transparency of heart in my walk with Him and in my relationships with others. As others see Him in my most transparent moments, He promises He will draw hearts to Him. As others see truth in my life, He promises lives will be changed. The hard question I ask is: “Are lives being drawn and changed as a result of the transparency and truth being lived out in my life moment by moment each day?”

Monday, March 17, 2014

Word for the Week

Here is that same verse in two more translations:

You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. (NLT)

With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you. (MSG)

So often as we pray for our children, we ask God to give them understanding, wisdom, and the good sense to follow His commands in Scripture. It might be a good idea to pray the same for ourselves :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

In ALL things? by Christie Smith

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

On spring break in the mountains of New Mexico, my nephew prays for our meal before dinner, "And thank you, Lord, for your protection today as we skied. Thank you for keeping us safe." This is Wednesday's prayer. Monday's prayers were very different. On Monday prayers were offered for comfort and peace to an 11 year old boy who had broken two bones in his leg clean through. Prayers for wisdom for parents and doctors. Prayers for no surgery and traveling mercies to get that boy back home without pain. Many prayers are being whispered by many different hearts, but not many are prayers of "thanks." Sure there is "Thanks for not letting it be worse than a broken leg" & "Thanks for the possibility of healing with no surgery." But what of the prayers of thanks for allowing this to happen? What if my nephew's prayer before dinner on Monday would have been, "...and thank you for allowing Jackson to break his leg today. Amen." My family may have looked at him crazy! Because it would be weird to thank God for something that has caused so much pain. It would be abnormal for us to be thankful for something that we automatically label "bad." 

But this is the "hard eucharisteo"...the difficult thanksgiving. (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts). This is where we separate ourselves from our human American definition of the word "blessing." We tend to label good health and wealth to being blessed by God. But what of everything else? What of the stuff to make ends meet or the not making the ends meet? What of the disease and sickness and broken bones? And what of the loss? What if the fall on the mountain had resulted in much more than some broken bones? What of our God then? Does He not allow it ALL for our good? (Romans 8:28). If I truly believe that, shouldn't my prayer be, "Thank you Lord for allowing this to happen to me! Thank you for breaking my baby's leg!" Because I know that God has a plan in ALL of this. I know that to have growth you sometimes have to experience growing pains. I know that just like my baby's leg has to be set right to heal straight and continue growing straight, our perspective of the situation has to be set right in order for us to continue to grow right and straight. ("Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5,6) 

In this hard situation, I can already see a hundred reasons why...a hundred good reasons why. There is a difference between seeing the good and the bad of every situation and make no mistake, choosing to see the good is a choice. Do we really trust God and His best for us? Do we count it ALL as good?  "... but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" EVERY situation. There's the kicker. There's the real faith. And I've noticed in my own mind that when I think of that verse I always skip the most important part when I'm quoting it... "with thanksgiving." 

If we believe Isaiah 14:24, that God has a plan in this, shouldn't our prayer be one of thanksgiving for allowing it? Is there anything in your own life that you're hesitant to give thanks for? If my son's leg requires surgery, they will use flexible pins instead of the steel rod they would put in an adult. They do this because he is still growing and they don't want to stunt the growth in that leg. True, when the disasters happen in life, they hurt and leave scars. But is our perspective a steel rod or flexible pins? Are we allowing for growth through every situation or are we stunting our growth with the wrong perspective? 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Word Fitly Spoken by Paula Roten

My sister and I have been taking turns staying with my sick Mother since the beginning of this year, helping care for her. During this time we've also done some cleaning...the dusting and vacuuming kind, but also the tossing of old bills and papers. One time when I was cleaning out a small cabinet, I discovered a card my mother had kept. It had been sent by one of my friends in 2007, a year after my daddy died. She had expressed how she was thinking about and praying for my mom during that difficult one year anniversary of my daddy's home-going and how my mother was a role model for her. 

I texted my friend to let her know that Mother had kept that card for 7 years and how grateful I was she had sent it! I had never seen it until last week. How much it must have ministered to my mother at the time...and did again when I read it to her the day I found it!

I need to be better about sending cards to people or calling them and encouraging them. What about you? We just never know what our words will mean to them at just the right time...or even 7 years later.

A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

...a word spoken at the right moment - how good it is! Proverbs 15:23b

The Lord has given me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens me morning by morning, He wakens me to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]. Isaiah 50:4

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

God's Cure for Old Age by Lynda Leeson

(Psa 92:12)  The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].

(Psa 92:13)  Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.

(Psa 92:14)  [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].

(Psa 92:15)  [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. [Rom. 9:14.]

Pro 15:13  A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken. [Prov. 17:22.] 

Pro 15:15  All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]. 

Pro 15:30  The light in the eyes [of him whose heart is joyful] rejoices the hearts of others, and good news nourishes the bones.

Pro 17:22  A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. [Prov. 12:25; 15:13, 15.] 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Word for the Week

We have opportunities to see others trust in God when we praise God for what He's done in our life. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Trusting God by Lynda Leeson

What do Max Lucado (whom I watch every Sunday morning before going to church) and David Manley (my Care Group leader) have in common? So glad you asked. Both are spiritual leaders in my life, and both taught on trust and brought me to this point this week. Max is actually doing a series on Joshua but veered to the disciples crossing the lake in the storm last Sunday morning. David alluded to it as well. Consider this scripture:

Matthew 14:22
New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus Walks on Water

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.

For the above word insisted, Holman’s translation says made and the Amplified uses directed. The point is, Jesus told them to get in the boat and go to the other side knowing that a storm would come.  That statement will take you to more scriptures than you can look up I’ll bet. We are promised storms in our lives. It’s a given! 

Reading on:
Matthew 14:24-27
New Living Translation (NLT)

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 
26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!

There are 3 interesting things here:

  • Jesus came to them, walking on the water. 
  • They didn’t recognize Him and were afraid.
  • Jesus told them, “Take courage because I am here.”

Doesn’t Jesus always come to us in our hour of need? Of course He does. Then the question is...why do we still doubt? Could it be fear that this time it won’t work and He won’t show up?

It certainly is true that I don’t always recognize The Lord in my circumstances. I find myself fighting flesh and blood, spending time being fearful, and indulging in major ifs and buts. Jesus has instructed throughout the Word to take courage because He is with us. The I am used in verse 27 could actually be translated the I AM as used in Exodus 3:14.

So, how do we sum this up?  Let’s let the Apostle Paul do it for us:

Romans 5:3-5
New Living Translation (NLT)

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 
4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Jesus has insisted that we trust Him and considering all the times He has shown Himself faithful and given us numerous promises, how can we do any less?

Sit back and take a stroll down memory lane while listening to The Imperials sing He Didn’t Bring Us This Far to Leave Us.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Land of IF...Part Deux by Tony Manley

As God would have it, He wanted me to do a part “two” (do you love my French – deux means two!) about the word IF. The scripture actually has some very encouraging truths about IF.

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? IF God is for us, who can be against us?”  Rom. 8:31

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest IF we do not give up.”  Gal. 6:9

“My son, IF you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and IF you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding , and IF you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, THEN you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”  Prov. 2:1-5

“IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  1 Jn. 1:9

As I have thought about IF, I wonder IF the word IF depends on what I put with the IF that dictates how helpful or destructive the word can be. (Chew on that statement awhile!) I do see IF ONLY smells a lot like a whiny and discontented starting point. But when IF leads to God’s ways – no fear, no quitting, no resisting or rejecting God’s instruction, and no hoarding sin – then, definitely, IF is a great place to begin. (*the book of Proverbs is a book full of contrasts with IF…)

God is so faithful to instruct. He uses the perfect words, and IF is a perfect word for me. IF is a great heart “crossroad” word. IF screams choice or option. IF is a fork in the road between flesh and spirit. IF encourages me in the battle, which by the way, I am grateful for, because before I became a new creation in Christ, I did not have a battle within me. There was just dead flesh and no IF leading to abundant and eternal life (John 10:10).

The part “deux” of IF is a triumphant part. Now, IF I will choose the victorious IF over the defeating IF, I will have God’s promises of strength, forgiveness, wisdom, and much more!

(note to self – write out all the scriptures containing the word IF and sort out the destructive from the constructive results of IF –put that on Pinterest!!! ☺)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Soup by Paula Roten

Since it's still winter with frigid temperatures (anybody besides me hoping for some warmer weather?), hot soup is still on my menu. This is a really good one, even though I'm not crazy about the processed cheese. I like to use half Velveeta (don't sub store brands) and half cheddar that you shred yourself. I also use skim milk plus a little more after it's made to thin it down to the consistency I like. As you can see, this is a forgiving soup and one that easily adjusts to your own personal preferences. 

Broccoli Cheese Soup V (from allrecipes)

3 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli
3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
6 tablespoons margarine
1 onion, chopped (I use less)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I use skim)
1 1/2 pounds processed cheese food (eg. Velveeta),
cubed (1 lb is probably plenty)
1 pinch ground white pepper

1. In a large pot over medium heat, simmer the broccoli in the broth for 15 minutes. In a separate skillet over medium heat, melt the butter or margarine, add the onions and saute for 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness.
2. Add the flour to the onions and stir well, forming a pasty substance. Gradually add the milk and stir until thick. Add this mixture to the broccoli mixture in the pot and stir well. Then add the cheese, stirring until melted. Finally, add the pepper. (Note: Be careful not to let the soup boil, or the cheese will break down.)

photo by *Sherri*

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Land of If by Tony Manley

I love the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” I tend to love fairy tales because they end with “and they all lived happily ever after. The End.” Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? Thankfully, because I am in Christ and He is in me, I know I will live happily ever after – eternity is my home! In the “Wizard of Oz,” the characters are convinced IF they can get to Oz to see the Wizard, all of their needs will be met. So, the process begins – just “follow the yellow brick road.” Simple and to the point.

Week three in Bible study (“God, are You there?”) for me has been all about the land of IF versus the truth of IS. “If only_______” becomes such a lying and destructive thought route. Living with a heart that is following the road of “if” only leads to disappointment. By the way, the Wizard turns out to be a big fat disappointment at the end of the yellow brick road! No surprise there, he was just like them – needy, scared, and incapable of meeting their needs – he too was a casualty of the “if” thinking process. Jesus addresses Martha’s “if” heart when she spewed onto Him, “IF you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21).  Basically, she is feeling (another ditch not to be dwelled in) Jesus should not have given/or allowed her an “IF” moment! 

I have thought about this a lot this week...the amount of damage to my faith when “IF” is talking. First of all, I will never know for sure the outcome(s) of “IF.” Jesus teaches “IS.” He IS the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6). With Him, I can live in IS, not IF.  He IS always with me, He IS faithful, He IS light, He IS the Good Shepherd.  He IS I AM. 

Living the “IF” life leads down a road to a land behind a curtain called the Lies of Life. Only the “I AM” IS the truth, peace, and joy of my life. As I follow His ways, words, and will, I will be walking the road of “IS” and not “IF.”

“God IS our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Ps 46:1

“For He Himself IS our peace…” Eph. 2:14a

Monday, March 3, 2014


A man's own folly ruins his life,
yet his heart rages against the Lord. 
Proverbs 19:3

How many of us are bitter toward the Lord because of our own foolish choices?