Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: Making God’s Love Visible

sidewalk_heart_200291Last week, I posted about what it truly means to fellowship. Our Ladies Bible Fellowship closed with taking a look at God’s love. If true fellowship means being united with God and other believers, because God loved us enough to wash us with Christ’s blood, then the following is true:

  • Because God loves us, we should love each other.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God (1 John 4:7a).

  •  Whoever loves others can only love because they have been first loved by God.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8).

  • God loved us in such a way that he sent his Son so that when God looks at us, He sees Jesus. Jesus took God’s wrath on himself, so that we have NONE of God’s wrath.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

  •  Because God loves us, we ought to love each other. Remember to what extent God loved us (He sent his son to die for us); to this extent we should love! This is not love only as it is convenient for me!!

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).

  • Why do we need to love each other? No one sees God. But they can see God’s love through us. Believers have the opportunity to make the invisible God “visible” through loving others with the love that God has loved them with!

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12).

I concluded with an illustration that helped us better understand this truth:  If I were to stare from my window at a completely empty parking lot free of leaves, dirt, paper, etc., and someone told me that the wind is blowing, I wouldn’t really be able to tell. Wind is invisible. But as I stare out my window at the tree that the wind is blowing, I see the branches moving, the leaves shivering, and some leaves falling to the ground. Similarly, if we tell people God is love. . . ok, but how do they see that God is love? How do they see the “wind blowing”? They see God’s love through our love for each other!

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: Christians and Halloween

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, maintains a favorite blog I follow, albertmohler.com. He speaks to many moral issues, always in light of biblical truth. His writing always causes me to evaluate my practices, beliefs, and values through Scripture’s lenses.

Last year, I remember his posting this article around Halloween, and I thought it was excellent. He posted it again today, and I thought I’d share. I’ve read other articles, claiming that Christians are being a bad testimony when they don’t give candy out at Halloween, but rather they shut themselves in their darkened homes. I must admit that I laugh when I read stuff like that.

If Christians choose to go trick-or-treating, that is a decision up to each family. Trying to tell another Christian who has made a decision based upon a biblically-based conviction that he is not being a “light” to the unbelievers around him when he turns off the house lights (again, I can’t help but laugh!) is unhelpful, to say the least.

A Christian’s values should not based upon what the unbelievers in the neighborhood expect. They should not be based solely upon  an emotional tie. They should be based upon Scripture, whatever choice is made. Mohler makes this clear.

The coming of Halloween is a good time for Christians to remember that evil spirits are real and that the Devil will seize every opportunity to trumpet his own celebrity. Perhaps the best response to the Devil at Halloween is that offered by Martin Luther, the great Reformer: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.”

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation with a declaration that the church must be recalled to the authority of God’s Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. With this in mind, the best Christian response to Halloween might be to scorn the Devil and then pray for the Reformation of Christ’s church on earth. Let’s put the dark side on the defensive.

Ephesians 6:11-13  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

 

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Frugal Friday: Paper for Printing Coupons

One of the ways I save money is using coupons, particularly internet coupons. Included in the cost of printing internet coupons, however, is ink and paper.

The way I’ve saved on paper is simple. I reuse paper. Any leftover lessons or extra prints I turn over and use the backs for printing coupons. Just make sure you feed it into the printer the correct way, so it prints on the blank side! 🙂

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}

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Thursday Thoughts: Fellowship~Friends, Food, & Fun?

two-ladiesPeople who fellowship often are friends–usually because they have something in common, whether it is an activity (soccer), a hobby (knitting), a goal (promoting an event), etc. Often these friends will have fun together as they accomplish their goals and activities–especially over food! 🙂 Our church recently started a Bible Fellowship on Sunday evenings, alternating weeks with men and women. Our first week focused on what fellowship really is.

The Bible talks about fellowship (koinōnia) in a slightly different sense. The Greek word means “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse, the share which one has in anything, participation, intimacy” (Thayer).

The idea of sharing something is evident. Believers shared bread and prayer (Acts 2:42), they shared money with poor believers (Rom 15:26), believers share in Christ himself (1 Cor 1:9), they share in the blood and body of Christ (1 Cor 10:16), they share in the Holy Spirit and all his gifts (2 Cor 13:14), Paul desired to share in Christ’s sufferings (Phil 3:10), Philemon shared his faith with others (Phm 1:6), and believers are to share what they have with others (Heb 13:16).

So, the idea of sharing in Scripture is clear, but the sharing is of those things which have eternal significance. We focused primarily on the concept of fellowship in 1 John. A great article by Dr. Bill Combs really helped me understand 1 John 1 and shaped much of our discussion.

1 John 1:1-3 discusses having fellowship with God and with each other, but it does not explicitly state what we are sharing with God and each other. Verses 1-2 make it clear that what believers share with God and with each other is eternal life!

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Verse 5 goes on to state what the basis for our fellowship is: God is light. He is absolutely without sin; he is holy.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Here is the problem, though: How can we have fellowship with God–walk in the light–when we are so sinful? Here are a few ways in which people err in trying to explain this seeming difficulty:

  1. They claim that they have fellowship with God, yet their lives are characterized by habitual sin. They show themselves to be liars, because the truth is that they do not have fellowship with God.

1Jn 1:6  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

2. They deny the existence of sin in their very natures, lying to themselves.

1Jn 1:8  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

3.  They deny that they commit individual sins, making God a liar.

1Jn 1:10  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

I want to park on this third point for a moment, because I think this is where we believers struggle sometimes. I don’t think any of us would actually verbally deny that we sin. But we try to put up a front that we don’t sin. We try to let others around us think that we really are perfect. Like Adam and Eve, we cover ourselves in “churchy-looking fig leaves” (quote from Elyse Fitzpatrick). But, if we are really walking in the light, our sin will be evident.

Have you ever used one of those cosmetic mirrors that amplify your face and have lights? I hate those things! Why do I dislike them so much? Because they show me the impurities on my face. They bring to light what is ugly.

When we walk in the light, when we fellowship with God and each other because of the eternal life we share, our own sinfulness in all its ugliness will be made clear. But we do not need to hide our sin. We don’t need to pretend that we are sinless. We don’t need to pretend that we’re not ugly. Why? Because you don’t need a Savior if you’re not a sinner!

Why is it that we can have fellowship with God (and thus each other)? What allows us to share in the light with Christ? The blood of Christ!

1Jn 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Stott (as cited in Dr. Comb’s aricle) says that “The proper Christian attitude to sin is not to deny it but to admit it, and then to receive the forgiveness which God has made possible and promises to us.”

We took a look at the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11, the believers that God commended as examples. We didn’t want to focus on the negative, but we did want to focus on the fact that their being sinless was not what qualified them as examples. Note the following: Noah-got drunk and became naked; Abraham-lied about his wife to protect himself; Sarah-laughed at God’s promises; Jacob-deceiver; Moses-murderer; Rahab-prostitute; Gideon-coward; Barak-coward; Sampson-immoral; Jepthah-sacrificed his daughter; and David-adulterer and murderer. Clearly, we only noted their sins, yet was is more clear is that these believers made it as examples not because of their sinlessness, but because they had faith in the one who was sinless!

I have heard this passage in 1 John preached in this way: You must confess your sins in order to have fellowship with God. God will not have fellowship with you if you do not confess your sins. Now, we saw above the error of one who refuses to acknowledge his sin, showing himself not to be a believer. But what about the believer who is really struggling with a sin and hasn’t confessed it yet? Or what about the many little ways we sin and don’t even realize it? Or what about the things we should be doing but don’t? Are we “out of fellowship” with God, thus other believers?

NO! Dr. Combs stated so well that 1 John 1:9 “says nothing about restoration of fellowship. While it is true that a believer needs to confess his sinful acts and omissions, that has nothing to do with fellowship. . . . Fellowship is a sharing by the believer with God and other believers in a common life. Nothing can break that fellowship. Verse 9 simply gives the proper attitude of a genuine believer toward sin.”

We sin. God knows, and Jesus has already cleansed us from it. Our fellowship is with God despite our sin. We still need to confess our sins, which means we need to admit our sins. We need to be real with the believers we are fellowshipping with. We need to admit we are sinners and point ourselves and others to our Savior who has cleansed us from all sin. As we admit our sins and struggles, we can help each other. We can pray for each other. We can point each other to Christ. We can fellowship with one another, as we fellowship with Christ.

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67)

“Many have forsaken Christ, and have walked no more with him; but what reason have YOU to make a change? Has there been any reason for it in the past? Has not Jesus proved himself all-sufficient? He appeals to you this morning-‘Have I been a wilderness unto you?’ When your soul has simply trusted Jesus, have you ever been confounded? Have you not up till now found your Lord to be a compassionate and generous friend to you, and has not simple faith in him given you all the peace your spirit could desire? Can you so much as dream of a better friend than he has been to you? Then change not the old and tried for new and false. As for the present, can that compel you to leave Christ? When we are hard beset with this world, or with the severer trials within the Church, we find it a most blessed thing to pillow our head upon the bosom of our Saviour. This is the joy we have to-day that we are saved in him; and if this joy be satisfying, wherefore should we think of changing? Who barters gold for dross? We will not forswear the sun till we find a better light, nor leave our Lord until a brighter lover shall appear; and, since this can never be, we will hold him with a grasp immortal, and bind his name as a seal upon our arm. As for the future, can you suggest anything which can arise that shall render it necessary for you to mutiny, or desert the old flag to serve under another captain? We think not. If life be long-he changes not. If we are poor, what better than to have Christ who can make us rich? When we are sick, what more do we want than Jesus to make our bed in our sickness? When we die, is it not written that ‘neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!’ We say with Peter, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?'” (Spurgeon, Morning and Evening).

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Tasty Tuesday: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

We had a bunch of people over on Sunday for lunch, and people raved about these cookies. They really do melt in your mouth {which may or may not be due to the large amount of butter in this recipe}.  My sister actually made this recipe, following the original Better Homes and Gardens recipe with the glaze. She said she preferred it without the glaze. This recipe, however, thickens the glaze into a frosting, which is delicious.

So, if you’re wanting soft, delicious pumpkin cookies and are able to splurge a bit, try these out. You won’t be sorry! 🙂

yield: about 60 cookies  prep time: 30 minutes  cook time: 10 minutes per batch

Ingredients:

2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
4 cups all-purpose flour

Frosting: 
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (add until desired consistency/firmness)
ground cinnamon sprinkled on top (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl beat the 2 cups of butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, the 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Beat until combined. Beat in the eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the four as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon.

2. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

3. For frosting, in a small saucepan heat the 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired.

Original recipe: Better Homes and Gardens

Modified recipe: http://parentpretty.com/pumpkin-cookies-recipe/

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Monday Meditations: Our God is Glorious!

Yesterday, Dave interrupted his series in 1Timothy with a series on the glory of God through the Bible. His first message was “A Glimpse at the Bookends and All That Lies Between.” We looked at Genesis 1-3; 3:15; and Revelation 21-22. He had 4 points as to how God is glorious that encouraged my heart and helped me better worship God and desire to obey him in response.

  1. Our God is Sovereign.

We looked at the creation week, the story of God’s creation of the entire universe. God spoke, and it was so. God’s spoken word resulted in the creation of everything out of nothing. That should awe us. That should cause us to worship. God spoke, and it was so!

This made me think of some of God’s other words: I will never leave you nor forsake you. My grace is sufficient for you. I will forgive your sins. You will be my people. When God speaks, it is so!

    2. Our God is Personal.

In Genesis 2:19, God brought the animals to Adam so Adam could name them. Just as he spoke the animals into existence, God could have as easily assigned them their names. But he let Adam exercise his creativity.

In Genesis 3:8, after Adam and Eve had sinned and were hiding from God, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God walking in the garden. They recognized the sound because they had heard it before. God walked in the garden to fellowship with Adam and Eve because he is a personal God. He didn’t just create them and let them be. He created them and fellowshipped with them.

In Revelation 1:13 and 2:1, we also see Jesus walking in the midst of the churches. Church is not something we just go to or do. Church is us with Christ in our midst!

    3. Our God is Just.

Genesis 3 tells the story of the first sin. Adam and Eve–just like us when we sin–operated according to a word other than God’s word. They operated according to Satan’s word, because it appealed to a desire to be their own gods and to rule the world their own way. God justly revealed that there would be consequences of their sin: strife and pain in life, physical death, and eternal death.

But I love this part. . . In Genesis 3:8-9 God still came to the garden looking for Adam and Eve–after they sinned. God still wanted to fellowship with them in their sinful condition, even when they were trying to hide from God!

   4. Our God is Merciful.

In the midst of God’s explanation of the consequences of their sin, God gave Adam and Eve hope. They would have children, and one of their offspring–Jesus–would eventually crush Satan.

Adam and Eve believed God’s promise. In Genesis 3:20-21, Adam called Eve the “mother of all living.” Eve did not yet have children, showing that he believed God’s promises.

Eden was an amazing place, but it ended up being tainted by sin. Dave reminded us that one day we will experience all of the benefits of Eden but even better! Revelation 22 tells us of a place in which we will actually eat of the tree of life. It tells us of a place that will be curse free. It tells us of a place in which we will see God’s face forever!

We wonder sometimes why sin was even allowed. I truly think we can worship God better because we, as sinners, get to experience God’s mercy and grace. As we see God in all his glory–his sovereignty, personality, justice, and mercy–we should be happy to obey him. And one day, when we stand sinless before him, our worship will be perfected.

{On Mondays, I would like to share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s 🙂 ) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

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Worthy Word Wednesday: Peace in Times of Trouble

peace in troubleHow do we have peace when outside pressures, let alone our own hearts, trouble us? Paul David Tripp spoke to this at a conference I attended recently. He said, “No one is more influential on yourself than you are. You talk to yourself more than anyone else. During a crisis, what gospel do you preach to yourself?”

He pointed us to Psalm 27, such a beautiful, encouraging psalm. The psalmist was very honest, as he always was when he poured his heart out to God. His trouble was clear:

Psa 27:2-3  When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

Tripp pointed to the fact that biblical faith never requires us to deny reality. David did not sugar-coat his troubles in order to make himself feel better: “When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh. . .” David’s life was far from “functional.” Yet, David had faith.

Tripp’s point was that “Peace in trouble begins with rich biblical theology and Scriptural knowledge.

Psa 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

But notice that David’s knowledge of God was not cold book knowledge alone. Tripp said that “Grace has connected me to light, salvation, stronghold.” The Lord is my light. . .

So, what does David do next? How does he get peace from this knowledge? Tripp said that “Peace in trouble is rooted in the worship of God.”

Psa 27:4-6  One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Tripp went on to say, “There exists in God a greater beauty than any ugly situation in life. You will never understand your troubles properly until you view them through the lens of the stunning beauty of the Lord. . . . Peace in times of trouble is rooted in the worship of God.”

Tripp encouraged us not to meditate on the sinful, painful realities of life, for these realities are not our identity. He said, “If your suffering captures your meditation, your suffering will be worse because your heart is not captured instead by God’s beauty.”

He then went on to draw our attention to the example of Abraham, as referenced in Romans 4:18-21. Abraham, though fully aware of reality–his old age–grew stronger in faith over time because he meditated on God and his promises of a child and a whole multitude of descendents.

So, what do we actually do when trouble comes to our doors (because it will!)? Tripp concluded his message with 4 practical helps:

  1. Gaze (not on your trouble) on the beauty of the Lord and let your heart be filled with the grandness of his beauty.
  2. Remember that God’s beauty, by grace is for you (my Light, my Salvation). Remember your identity in Christ!
  3. Rest (never in your own understanding or ability) in the One who rules all and understands all.
  4. Act – Because you are now living in the reality of who God is and who you are by grace, and you are resting in God, you can now act accordingly.

Here is the conclusion to David’s psalm:

Psa 27:7-14  Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

We all have ugly situations in our lives. This is reality, and dwelling on their ugliness is not going to make them less ugly. May we remind ourselves and those we love who are troubled to dwell, instead, on the beauty of the Lord!

You can watch or hear Tripp’s message or read the script, entitled “Troubled People Helping Troubled People.”

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}

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Tasty Tuesday: Mom’s Homemade Bread {the BEST white bread you’ll ever make!}

Mom's homemade breadI have been making my mom’s recipe for white bread forever. It is the best homemade bread I have ever had. If I wasn’t concerned about my weight and health, I would make it every week and eat it every day. Let me just say that if you use this bread to make a grilled cheese sandwich, you will never be content with store-bought bread ever again. I promise.

Now, this bread must be kneaded for 10 minutes. This feels like eternity if you’re doing it by hand (but it’s worth it!). But, if you have the wondrous Kitchen-Aid mixer with the dough hook, you are all set (just make sure you don’t forget to add flour as necessary).

I’ve tasted other recipes that are basically the same, but don’t call for the milk (just more water). These are really good, and if you don’t have time to scald and cool the milk, they are good. But I think the milk gives it an extra bit of amazingness (for lack of a better, real word). Also, don’t forget the salt; it ruins the flavor of the bread if you leave it out (don’t ask me how I know that).

Well, here’s the recipe. It makes 2 regular-sized loaves.

Ingredients:

2 pkg yeast (4-1/2 tsp)

1/2 c warm water

2 c milk

1/3 c oil

1/4 c sugar

1 tbsp salt

6 c all purpose flour, divided (I have mixed and matched various amounts with wheat flour too with good results. I have never made this recipe with all wheat, though.)

Directions

  • Dissolve 2 pkg yeast in warm water (let sit at least 10 min).
  • Scald milk then cool.
  • Mix yeast/water, cooled milk, oil, sugar, and salt with mixer.
  • Mix in 3 c flour and blend for 3 minutes.
  • Knead in remaining 3 c flour for 10 minutes, adding additional flour in small amounts as necessary until dough is elastic.
  • Rise until doubled (cover bowl with towel and place in an oven that had been heated for 1 min. Put a bowl of warm water under the bowl with dough to decrease raising time).
  • Punch dough down and place in greased and floured pans. Let rise covered for 30 min.
  • Bake at 350 for 30 min (place oven rack on rack 2nd from bottom).
  • Enjoy!

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Thursday Thoughts: In God We Trust?

ImageOur nation’s health care situation scares me. It makes me wonder what kind of country I am going to grow old in. It makes me wonder what kind of country my children are going to grow up in.

I see and hear many similar sentiments from those around me–Christian or not. In fact, I see much anger toward our government from those around me–Christian or not. People keep saying that we need to go back to the way our nation once was, to a nation that boldly proclaimed, “In God we trust!”

But, sadly, I am not seeing that trust in God among many of the Christians around me who so vehemently demand it of our country.

I am not saying we should like the negative aspects of our government. We are privileged as American citizens to have a voice in our government–for now. And while we still have that voice, we can object strongly to what is wrong. But we should do so in a manner that magnifies our creed, “In God we trust!”

In a way, I am actually thankful for our current health care issues. Our family has been personally affected by it. And I don’t like it at all. But this trial has given me the opportunity to trust God in a way that I wasn’t able to before.

We have been privileged to have excellent healthcare for so long, but now we are starting to get a very tiny taste of what the rest of the world gets to experience. . .for the minority of the world that can even afford insurance at all, for those who even have available medical help.

People have asked me why I even want more kids, foreseeing what kind of a world they may grow up in. Well, it can’t be much different from what the majority of the world has grown up in. Children have been born into poverty and persecution through the ages.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not want my children to grow up in either poverty or persecution. But I do think that growing up in an atmosphere in which they don’t feel so “entitled” to their “rights” will give opportunity for their faith to be more real. I pray that my children will have real faith in God. I pray that they will have opportunity to boldly proclaim “In God we trust.” I pray that their faith will be tried and will come forth as gold.

I pray that the faith of true believers would be purified through these trials. We can oppose what is wrong within the means that we have graciously been given at this time, but we should always do it in such a way that everyone who sees our opposition should just as clearly–if not more so–see our trust in God. Any opposition should be done in a respectful way that points to the Supreme Ruler. Romans 13:1 makes this principle clear: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

I found a commentary by Barnes helpful on this point:

The kingdoms of the world were then “pagan” kingdoms. The laws were made by pagans, and were adapted to the prevalence of paganism. Those kingdoms had been generally founded in conquest, and blood, and oppression. Many of the monarchs were blood-stained warriors; were unprincipled men; and were polluted in their private, and oppressive in their public character. Whether Christians were to acknowledge the laws of such kingdoms and of such men, was a serious question, and one which could not but occur very early. It would occur also very soon, in circumstances that would be very affecting and trying. Soon the hands of these magistrates were to be raised against Christians in the fiery scenes of persecution; and the duty and extent of submission to them became a matter of very serious inquiry. . . .

The apostle gives a “reason” why Christians should be subject; and that reason is that magistrates have received their appointment from God. As Christians, therefore, are to be subject to God, so they are to honor “God” by honoring the arrangement which he has instituted for the government of mankind.

Paul wrote to a people not governed by men with godly values. He wrote to people ruled by men like Nero. And so, he writes to us, “ruled” by men who can be godless as well. We show our trust in God when we subject ourselves to the authority God has instituted.

So, in a way, I am thankful for the leaders who disappoint me. They give me great opportunity to put my trust in God, not in a country, a man, or a system.

In God we trust.

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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