From Misery to Joy

And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him.  However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.  Mark 5:18-20

And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”  However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.  Mark 1:43-45

These two scenarios give me the same feeling.  A feeling of joy.

At first glance they are different – opposites, in fact.  In chapter one Jesus tells the guy not to tell anyone about being healed, but he does it anyway.  In chapter five Jesus tells the guy to go tell his friends that he has been healed and he does.

You could look at this as examples of obedience vs. disobedience, but I just don’t see it that way.  I like to see both passages as examples of the excitement and joy Jesus can give us.

These two men had horrible problems.  One wasn’t even in control of his own body.  He ran around naked in the graveyard and scared everyone away.  They had tried to constain him, but he was too strong for them.  He just broke all their bindings.  It was like the human police trying to contain the Incredible Hulk.  They would throw some ropes on him or catch him in a steal container, but the next thing you know – “Hulk smash!!” and off he would run, smashing cars and houses along the way.  Only he had on ragged shorts to protect our modesty.

The other guy had a nasty disease that ate away at his flesh until, eventually, he would literally fall apart and die.  Painful and gross – he was miserable.  But on top of that, if he went out in public he had to completely cover his sickly, flakey, gross body and yell loudly to everyone around him, “Unclean! Unclean!” over and over.  Painful, gross, and embarrassing.  What a horrible life!

I hope with these descriptions you can see why they were so excited after meeting Jesus – so excited they felt the need to shout and run (maybe dance) and tell everyone they met about how they had been healed and by whom.

If any of these things had happened to us, I don’t think we could shut-up about it.  The thing is, these things have happened to us.  If not, they can.

Maybe we have never been possessed by a legion of demons or even one demon; maybe we have never had incurable (at the time) leprosy; but we all have our own demons and our own diseases.

Our demons and diseases haunt us just as badly as the ones of those two men in the book of Mark.  But Jesus can take them away.  He can heal our diseases.  He can cast out our demons.  All you have to do is ask.

Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.    Mark 1:40-42

The leper believed and asked.  Jesus did.

Jesus felt compassion.  In fact, Jesus even touched the man’s gross, nasty skin!  No one in the entire world would have ever done that!  EVER.  Jesus is the only one who can truly heal us.

Do you want to be healed? Jesus wants to heal you – he says “I am willing.”  He invites you to receive that healing through believing He is the Son of God who died for your sins.  Repent of your sin and turn to Him and you will receive new life in Him, complete with a new whole heart.

He has invited, will you believe and receive Him? He waits for your answer.

Advertisements

Today’s Prayer

Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.  His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.   Psalm 146: 3-4

“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  John 12: 25

“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”  John 12: 36a

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry.  The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.  The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous.  The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.   Psalm 147: 5-9

I have been interrupted so many times this morning I don’t remember exactly what I wanted to say about the above verses.  (The curse of having Attention Deficit Disorder.)

I do know that I liked these verses and thought they fit together very well.  I also remember thinking I can be very prideful sometimes.  I don’t put my trust in other people, but I put my trust in myself and my own wisdom (which is never as good as God’s, even on His worst day – if He has a worst day – which I doubt).

So, my prayer this morning is this:

Lord, help me to put my complete trust and faith in You and no one nor nothing else.  Especially myself.  That only leads to destruction!  Let me not love this world and my own knowledge more than I love You and Yours, for they are infinitely better than mine.

Let me never be ashamed of my faith in You nor worry about what the doubters will say.

Let me always remember the love, grace, and mercy You have for us.  And let me always praise You and bless You with all that I have, because You are the God of the universe.  You are the God who created heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them!

Praise the LORD!  Praise the LORD, O my soul!  While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.   Psalm 146: 1-2

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Who’s Judging?!?

“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies.  For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.”  Proverbs 1: 28-33

These verses always bother me.  Not because I think they are wrong in any way – I believe this is God’s word and He has kept it complete and correct all through the ages – but because it makes me worry about my loved ones.  I worry they don’t know Christ as their savior and I won’t get to see them in heaven.  It breaks my heart!

Some people say I am being judgmental when I say this, and I guess through their eyes, I am.  But I don’t feel judgmental, I feel like a mother who worries about her children.  I want them to be safe and happy and healthy.  When I see them do dangerous things, i.e. skateboarding without a helmet, eating nothing but junk food, or getting drunk with friends, I am most definitely going to cringe and stress and worry until they come home safe.

So, when someone accuses me of judging I go back to my bible.  It tells me to be discerning.

He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment,  Ecclesiastes 8:5

Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.  Malachi 3:18

“and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’  Hypocrites!  You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.”  Matthew 16:3

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  1 Corinthians 2:14

But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Hebrews 5:14

Discernment

anakrino – examine or judge

  1. To investigate, examine, inquire into, scrutinize, sift, question (Specifically in a forensic sense of a judge to hold an investigation).  To interrogate, examine the accused or witnesses
  2. To judge of, estimate, determine (the excellence or defects of any person or thing)

I love this word and its definition!  Probably because I love forensic science and solving mysteries and this word is telling me to do exactly that.  Dig deeper!  Find clues!  Look for the truth!  Solve the mystery!

Most people will pull out their trusty go-to verse:  Judge not, that you be not judged.         Matthew 7:1   But this word has a different meaning.

Judge

krino – to separate, select, choose; to determine, to judge, pronounce judgment

  1.  to assume the office of a judge
  2.  to undergo process of trial
  3.  to give sentence
  4.  to condemn
  5.  to execute judgment upon
  6.  to be involved in a lawsuit, whether as plaintiff,  or as defendant
  7.  to administer affairs, to govern

The word in Matthew 7:1 is a word that describes a judge slamming down a gavel and condemning a criminal.  This is where we have to be very careful.  We are not called to be the judge, the sentencer of criminals, the krino.  We are called to be the anakrino.  We are called to be the investigator, the P.I.  Like Thomas Magnum, Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, and Shawn Spencer!  And don’t forget Scooby Doo and the gang!  (Jinkies!  I think I need to pause and go read a good mystery book…)

If you have ever been accused of being judgmental or if you have accused someone else (I have been on both ends, as I am sure most of us have), I hope this helps.  I hope with this extra insight we can all pause for a moment before we throw out those hurtful accusations.  Am I being the krino, the executioner?  Or have I investigated thoroughly like the anakrino and know the facts?

Remember, we want “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Nobody Sinned

Ok…  if you know anything about the bible at all, you will know there’s something not quite right about the title.  But that’s what Jesus said.  Right there in God’s word.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.   John 9: 1-3

Now, according to Romans 3: 23, everyone has sinned.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,   

Everyone has sinned.  The bible is very adamant about that.  Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, 1 John 1:10.

So what does Jesus mean when He says no one sinned?  Here’s what I think…

The disciples question, “who sinned… that he was born blind?” Wasn’t a question about who was doing something wrong.  They wanted to know what caused this man’s blindness.  The disciples – like us – wondered why “bad things happen to good people.”

Jesus gave them an answer.  I’m not sure the disciples totally understood at the time.  It takes most of us years and years to understand, if we ever do.  The answer is simple.  God has a plan.

So, yes, these people had sinned in one way or another.  We know this because EVERYONE sins.  But their sin did NOT cause this bad thing to happen.  Whatever caused the man’s blindness probably has a wonderfully simple scientific answer, that today, the doctors could have told his parents at the time of his birth.  Maybe his retina didn’t develop properly.  Maybe his optical nerve was detached or never attached to begin with.  It doesn’t matter.  What truly matters is “that the works of God should be revealed in him.”  Then Jesus showed everyone the works of God by healing him.

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”     John 9: 4-5

Maybe you know someone who you feel has had a bad lot in life; someone you feel did nothing wrong and they are being punished.  I want you to remember these verses.  Then look for the works of God in their life and in the lives with which they come in contact.  Look closely and you will see the works and the glory of God.

 

 

IMG_3686

For Margot, who is perfect in God’s plan and shows His works and glory every day.

Brown Sugar Cookies

When I think of Brown Sugar Cookies, I think of thunder storms.

I grew up on the edge of tornado alley.  So, when we had inclement weather the power would most likely go out and, when I was a kid, it would usually stay out for a while.  I don’t ever remember being scared of thunder storms.  Even BIG thunder storms.  They could boom and roar outside.  The house would shake and shudder.  Our eyes would get big, but then we would smile. My brother and I were hoping the electricity would go out, because if it did…  COOKIES!!

Mom would grab candles, Jason and I would grab flashlights, and we would all head to the kitchen.  We would light up the gas oven and gather all the ingredients.  Within thirty minutes we would have a warm, candle-lit kitchen that smelled wonderful.  Not long after, we were tasting and nibbling as many as we could before Mom would say, “That’s enough.”

Later the power would come back on and we would go about our regular business… usually bedtime at that point.  But I always loved knowing – even when things were dark and scary there was still good in the world.

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11

I love this verse.  The Psalmist tells us when we are in God’s presence we will have fullness of joy.  It’s like eating Brown Sugar Cookies in a warm, wonderfully smelling kitchen.  It’s comfortable and calm and makes you happy.  No matter what is going on in the world around us, we are safe and happy in the presence of God.

Brown Sugar Cookies (A.K.A. Power Outage Cookies)

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups sifted flour

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

Cream together the sugars and butter.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  Add everything else and mix well.  Shape the dough into balls about the size of quarters and roll them in granulated sugar.  Place the sugared balls on a cookie sheet and press them flat (about ¼ inch thick) with the bottom of a cup.  Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

All Babies Are Blessings

I found out recently that I’m going to be a grandmother in about seven months.

It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped an announcement like this would be due to some “unsavory” circumstances.  1) My daughter is only twenty.  2) She is not married.  3) The “sperm donor” is (and I’m trying not to judge here…) not a nice person.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, showed me something today that has me rejoicing and excited about being a grandmother at the age of 44.

For You formed my inward parts: You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, The day fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.       Psalm 139: 13-16

If this is true, and I believe the bible to be the true and living word of God, then God has a plan for my grand-baby.  Not only for my grand-baby, but he had one for me when my mother got pregnant at the age of sixteen.  God had a plan for my son when I got pregnant and wasn’t yet married.  And now God has a plan for my daughter and her child.

I don’t know what that plan is exactly.  Maybe I will never know.  The important thing is God knows.  He formed and protected us in the womb.  He knew we were growing and developing even before our mothers knew they were pregnant.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Every one of us!

No child is ever a mistake!

All babies are blessing!

 

Minestrone Life…

I want a Minestrone Life!

I bet no one has ever said that to you before, so I guess I should explain…

The story goes that the ministers in Italy would travel around the countryside giving sermons and helping to feed the poor and sick wherever they could.  The ministers would use whatever was available in that particular season along with some salt and pepper to make soup and, voila!, much less starvation. This hodgepodge soup was cheap, filling, and good.  The people who benefitted from this soup started calling it minestrone for the ministers and thus you have the story of Minestrone.

Now for a little more research based information….

Minestrone is a wonderful tomato based soup.  It was originally a very humble dish made with leftovers or just whatever was on hand at the time.  It was intended for everyday consumption with the idea of being (like it says above) cheap, filling, and good.  In Italy it is part of what is known as “cusina povera” – literally “poor kitchen,” meaning poorer people’s cuisine.  The name minestrone came to mean, “that which is served.”  In modern Italian it is also used to mean a hodgepodge of things.

I, personally, like the first story.  And, just so you know, the second explanation doesn’t totally negate the first…  they could both be true.  I just didn’t find a whole lot about it on the internet.

Anyway, back to why I want a Minestrone Life.

First of all, I LOVE FOOD!  Yes, I am yelling that sentence.  Go back and read it again in a yell if you must.  Food is one of my favorite things. (And now I’m singing…)  Sunday dinners at Grama’s house, baking cookies in a gas oven on a stormy night by candle light when the power is out, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, hor d’oeuvres on New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day and any other occasion on which I could possibly have hor d’oeuvres, and then there’s BBQ on the 4th of July, not-to-mention get-togethers at church and family reunions!!!  Oh my goodness, I’m so excited!!  (And I’m singing again…)

So, uh, I like food….  and music…

Second, I tend toward chaos.  I have a whole lot of small pieces of big things in little places in closed drawers on tall shelves in my room on the third level in my apartment.  Yup…  That’s what I said.  So, using whatever is available, using what is on hand, that’s kind of my style.  And so much fun!!

Lastly – but definitely not least, I want to be a ministering spirit.  I want to help others when I can.  I want to encourage people to live well and love always.  And, more than anything, I want to help others learn about God and the wonderful relationship we can have with Him here on this planet and for eternity.

Well, that is what I mean when I say I want a Minestrone Life.  It is very simple, but very rewarding.  I hope that you will join me as I explore God’s word and new recipes and the chaos of my craft closet drawer shelf cabinet box.