Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Light of Easter

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right;
Faith and Hope triumphant say
Christ will rise on Easter Day.”
~Phillips Brooks~

Bulls, goats, a spotless lamb.  The Old Testament is full of  sacrifices -- each one using the blood of the animals as an atonement for sin.  Still there was a darkness over the earth.  The darkness of sin that required the earth to be flooded, darkness that led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, darkness that led King Saul to the witch of Endor and led Jeremiah to walk the streets of Jerusalem forty years pleading for the city to turn to God.

Photo by Emily
Then Jesus came -- He came with miracles, love of sinners and warnings for those who revel in rules without grace.  He came from Heaven to a dark, dark world.  And with that coming, lived as a sinless man.  Still, the world needed bulls, goats, a spotless lamb for atonement. 

Then Jesus died -- betrayed by one of His closest friends, condemned to die at the hands of a man who found no fault in Him.  Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb -- atoning for our sins.  He died, but oh, there's a difference in this Lamb.  Yes, Jesus was chosen because He was sinless.  Yes, He died for our sins.  And, yes, in His death He was separated even from God, His Father.

Then Jesus arose -- the sealed tomb wasn't an obstacle, the guards couldn't guard him, and on that glorious morning, the devil shuddered realizing the Light illuminated the darkness he craved.  The resurrection gives us a living sacrifice.  The world no longer needs bulls, goats or a spotless lamb for atonement.  In death, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom -- to signify the end of animal sacrifice -- sending light streaming through the Holy of Holies.  In resurrection, the light of grace shined brightly to illumine our darkened path.

Photo collage by Emily

The grace that I hold in my heart wasn't cheap.  It cost Jesus' life, yet was freely given.  The Resurrected Light lived in the hearts of the early Christians, the Puritans in the New World and Jews during the Holocaust. The Resurrected Light lived in the hearts of my grandparents and parents. That same Light drove the darkness from my heart and filled it with light -- the Light of Easter.

* * * * *
Easter Song Candles
I asked RB and Emily their favorite Easter season song.  RB -- He Lives.  I should have know that.  I've heard him tell the story behind the writing of He Lives so many times throughout the years.  Emily -- Because He Lives. I chose Charles Wesley's And Can it Be for my favorite.

Photo by Emily
He left his Father's throne above
(so free, so infinite his grace!),
emptied himself of all but love,
and bled for Adam's helpless race.
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!
'Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!

I scanned the songs in the computer, cropped them to the size I wanted and printed them on parchment.  After cutting them, I used my Martha Stewart scalloped punch (found at a reduced price at TJ Maxx) for the edges.  Then all I had to do was glue each one to the candle and add some ribbon. 

These would make great sheltering gifts for any time of the year.  Oh, the Love of Jesus for Valentine's Day, Silent Night for Christmas, There's a New Name Written in Glory for a new Christian, From Every Stormy Wind That Blows for a friend going through a difficult time. 

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Feeding on Caviar

It is wonderful the effect of a single verse of Scripture when the Spirit of God applies it to the soul. What power would come upon the soul if we would grasp a single line of Scripture and suck the honey out of it till our soul is filled with sweetness?  ~C. H. Spurgeon

Caviar, unfertilized eggs of sturgeon fish, has been one of the delicacies the great leaders in the world dined on.  I'll spare you the details of how it is harvested since I'm not into cutting fish apart.  In the 2nd century during Rome's greatest influence, the price for a jar of caviar was 100 sheep.  Throughout many centuries, it remained rare and expensive.  Then in the 19th century, when industrialization and mass harvesting of natural resources arrived, you could find caviar in every restaurant in major cities. Then the source dried up and supply was limited.  Caviar prices soared and today it is again a luxury -- with Kaluga Caviar costing $447.00 for a 1.75 ounce jar (1-2 servings).

Caviar -- luxury food for the body.  I can do without it.  But the caviar of God's Word?  It's as necessary to me as air.  I crave the luxurious words found only within the leather cover of my Bible.  I find myself meditating -- contemplating -- on them throughout the day.  We're commanded to meditate.   Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do (Joshua 1:8).

All throughout the Psalms David promises to meditate on the Word of God and in particular on:

 God's unfailing love (Psalm 48:9)
God's work and mighty deeds (Psalm 77:12)
God's precepts (Psalm 119:15)
God's wonders (Psalm 119:27)
God's commands and decrees (Psalm 119:48)
God's promises (Psalm 119:148)
God's glorious splendor and majesty (Psalm 145:5)


In spite of gossip (Psalm 119:23) and though wronged without cause (Psalm 119:78)
Because he loved it (Psalm 119:97), gained wisdom from it (Psalm 119:99)
During the day (Psalm 1:2) and night (Psalm 119:148)
While reminiscing on God's help in the past (Psalm 119:143:5)
With rejoicing (Psalm 104:34)
With a desire that his meditation be pleasing to God (Psalm 19:14, 104:34)

 I'm such a practical person.  I love the beauty of the lyrical words and the joy of reading its prose.  But if I can't apply it to where I am living, it doesn't draw me in.  Just like if we bought a jar of caviar but didn't eat it, the luxuriousness of God's Word is not effective if we don't apply it. 

A couple ways I've found to claim the Scriptures for myself:

1.  Substitute my own name:  Blessed is Pamela who walketh not in the council of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But (my) delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth (I) meditate day and night.

Soren Kierkegaard said,   "When you read God's Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, "It is talking to me, and about me.'"

2.  Use a different version:  How well God must like (me)— (I) don't hang out at Sin Saloon, (I) don't slink along Dead-End Road, (I) don't go to Smart-Mouth College. Instead (I) thrill to God's Word, (I)chew on Scripture day and night.

3.  Categorize the verses: 
  • Is there a command to obey? 
  • Is there a promise to claim? 
  • Is there a warning to heed?
  • How does this apply to my life today?
4.  Pray the verse:  Lord, I am so blessed.  Keep my heart from ungodly influences, loving the ungodly, sinners and scornful, but not allowing them to affect my relationship with you.  My delight is in Your words to me; may I joyfully meditate on them as I go about my day.

5.  Sing your joy:  Sing a song throughout your day.  Learn The Meditation of My Heart.

On my wish list

The meditation of my heart,
The thoughts I ponder through the day,
May they be pleasing to you, Lord,
And keep me steadfast in your way.
When worries weigh upon my mind,
And make me restless in the night,
Then may I meditate on you
And things I know to be upright.

Whatever things are chaste and true,
Whatever virtue they may be,
Whatever things well spoken of,
May thoughts of these bring peace to me.
How precious are your thoughts, O God,
 Beyond all counting is their sum.
 So may I ponder your own words,
 Absorbed in them may I become.

During the years caviar was plenteous, it was served frequently, thus became commonplace and ceased to be precious.  It was only when it became scarce again that rising prices sent it back to its luxurious status.  There are many books written about the Bible, but I've found I need to read the Bible more than simply read about the Bible.  I still read the truths Beth Moore, Anne Graham Lotz and Nicole Johnson dig out, but only after the Bible has saturated my mind.

I need God's Word.  Like caviar, it's luxurious.  Even more, it's essential to my soul's daily nutrition. 

* * * * *

Cowboy Caviar is such an easy dish to fix.  And we have the perfect friends to share it with.  DeWayne and Renee are such a blessing, not only in our church music program, but as friends.  Somewhere along the way they have acquired a taste for hot, hot, hot.  I sneaked in a bit more of the hot sauce than what this recipe called for.  They'll probably still be dousing it with the flamin' hot sauce they bring back from Mexico.

I turned one of Ethan's picture sepia, then ordered it in a wallet size.  Using a purchased tag for stability I covered it with scrapbook paper, added the picture and a brad or two. 

There was a small bowl left, but most of it fit into this jar from Walmart. (I had to leave the avocado out since it was brown when I cut into it.)  Hobby Lobby has glass jars cheaper -- especially when they are half off (or you use your 40% off coupon) but I found them after I purchased the one at Walmart. 

Cowboy Caviar

1 avocado, chopped
1 can corn, drained
1 can black eye peas, drained
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Mix together and set aside

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Mix and pour over pea mixture.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mixing Practical Sheltering with Spiritual Blessing

Hungry for love, He looks at you. Thirsty for kindness, He begs of you. Naked for loyalty, He hopes in you. Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks of you. Will you be that one to Him?  ~Mother Teresa

Abraham was exhausted from chasing the soldiers who took his nephew Lot, Lot's family and all they owned.  He had three hundred and eighteen men to take with him -- men who were servants, trained by him. 

Dividing the men into small groups, they came at the enemy from many directions -- in the middle of the night.  As one man said, "He whooped him."  Not only was Lot freed, but his people and possessions, too. 

Melchizedek, king of Salem,  went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh.  Before Melchizedek saw to Abraham's spiritual needs, he first served him bread and wine. 

The Joy in Living
A great choice for your Sheltering Library.
And then...a beautiful blessing offered for Abraham, the Friend of God: 

 Blessed be Abram by The High God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth.
 And blessed be The High God,
 who handed your enemies over to you.

You see, Melchizedek wasn't just a King, he was a priest of the most High God.  He knew it was hard to concentrate when you're hungry and thirsty.  He got it right.  Practical sheltering, then Spiritual blessing.

How often do we get it right?  We want to get people saved first.  Or we get the practical sheltering and leave out the blessing. 

I want to be more intentional in my sheltering.  And to get it in the right order.  Practical first -- blessing second.  Many Christian writers believe Melchizedek was the Son of God Himself.  Hebrews chapter seven at least uses the priesthood of Melchizedek as a type of Jesus Christ.  I don't know about you, but I do know I want to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

Practical food for the body, then Spiritual blessing for the soul.

* * * * *

Soul Food

In the days after Sarah died, my friend, Janet, and I ate our weight in baked potatos.  They were warm and comforting.  This is a potato casserole recipe from my friend, Lorna.  She's a dumper, not a measurer, so dump to your heart's content to suite your taste.

Bacon Ranch Potatoes
Dice and cook potatoes to fill whichever size dish you need.  Spray dish and fill with cooked potatoes. Saute chopped onions and add to potatoes.  Fry  1/2 lb bacon.  Crumble and sprinkle over potatoes.  Pour ranch dressing over layers and sprinkle with shreaded cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted, approximately 30 minutes.

This is a casserole I would suggest taking to a new mother or a senior saint.  It's as good the second day as when it is fresh.