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Monday Meditations: Preach the Gospel to Yourself Every Day

open bibleYesterday, my husband preached a message titled “Unbelievable” from Mark 6:1-6. This passage tells of Jesus and his disciples returning to Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, and teaching in the synagogue. Jesus’ friends and family “took offense” (v. 3) at Jesus and rejected him. They didn’t believe he was who he said he was. They couldn’t get over who they thought him to be (i.e., merely Jesus, brother to their neighbors, a carpenter’s son, the son of Mary). Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief” (v. 6). It is unbelievable that people would hear and see Jesus, yet reject him.

It is unbelievable to me when people hear the gospel clearly presented and yet reject Jesus. I recently had the opportunity to study one of the gospels with a friend for about 2 months. It was sad and unbelievable to me that she should come away rejecting Jesus as who he clearly said he was–God the Son.

Yesterday evening our ladies’ study discussed a passage from our current book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Our emphasis was the Gospel. The point was that in order to fight our sin, we need to view our sin in light of the gospel. We each need to “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.”

As I thought about this and typed out for myself a reminder to do so (see below), I thought that believers can also struggle with unbelief in the gospel. When we live constantly giving in to our sins (even–especially?!—the “respectable” ones), when we wallow in the guilt over our sins, when we strive to meet God’s approval only with our good deeds, etc we don’t practically believe the gospel. We’ve given in to unbelief. And this should be unbelievable too. It is unbelievable that believers should live every day without practically living out God’s work in us through the gospel every day.

So, as I told my ladies that I would do, I typed out this reminder to preach the gospel to myself every day. I’m going to print it out and put it somewhere visible, so that I will remember the gospel.

Preach the Gospel

{On Mondays, I 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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Tasty Tuesday: Mom’s Meatloaf {with tomato sauce gravy, caramelized onions, and french fried onions}

024First let me warn some of you off. If you never veer off the path of pure healthy eating, you will not care for this recipe. Second, if you like your meatloaf dry and able to be perfectly sliced like a loaf of bread (as my husband does), then this recipe is not for you either.

But, if you are willing to occasionally indulge in a splurge of homey, meat-and-potato goodness. . . . If you relish the thought of a moist bite of meatloaf, topped with caramelized onions and crunchy fried onions, all smothered in a tomato gravy atop a bed of mashed potatoes . . . then this recipe is for you! 🙂

Initially, my mom’s recipe did not have the onions on top. Years ago, though, I ordered meatloaf at a restaurant (something I rarely do, because–well–who orders meatloaf at a restaurant??). Anyway, it was some of the best meatloaf I ever had, smothered in caramelized and french fried onions. I decided to make the onions a staple (and defining, I might add) part of Mom’s meatloaf recipe.

One more note before I get into the recipe: Technically, this recipe does call for hamburger, which usually has a higher fat content than ground beef. The higher fat content helps the loaf better stick together. However, I usually use ground beef, which does mean that the slices of meatloaf  somewhat fall apart when sliced. This does not bother me, but if it bothers you, use hamburger, as the recipe calls for.

I love to serve the meatloaf over mashed potatoes, spooning a little more of the gravy on top, then sprinkling the caramelized and french fried onions on top. Absolutely delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds raw hamburger
  • 1 large onion, chopped fairly finely013
  • Onion and garlic powder (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (I used saltine-type crackers)
  • 1 tbsp A-1 sauce (any steak sauce will do)
  • 3 8-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cans golden mushroom soup
  • 1-2 green peppers (chop ½ of 1 green pepper and slice the remaining to place on top of the meatloaf)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine hamburger, chopped onion, spices, eggs, cracker crumbs, A-1 sauce, 1 can tomato sauce, and the chopped green pepper in a large bowl. Use hands to mix thoroughly.
  • Form into a loaf shape and place in a casserole dish. (I recommend a 9×13 if you are going to make the gravy.)020
  • Place the pepper slices on top of the meatloaf, pressing them slightly into the meat mixture.
  • Mix the remaining 2 cans of tomato sauce and 2 cans of golden mushroom soup. Pour the soup mixture on top of the meatloaf.
  • Bake uncovered for 1 hour, 45 minutes.
  • While the meatloaf is cooking you can prepare your mashed potatoes and caramelize your onions.
  • For each serving, place a slice of meatloaf on top of mashed potatoes, add gravy, and sprinkle with caramelized and french fried onions.
  • 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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Monday Meditations: The Power of the Son of God

wavesMy husband has been preaching through the Gospel of Mark, and it has been so refreshing to hear this “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) preached straight through. It has been humbling and awe-inspiring to see the immense power in simply a word or a touch of Jesus Christ.

One of the primary emphases lately in my husband’s sermons is that Jesus is God. While some think the title “Son of God” implies only that Jesus is God’s Son, the fact is this title means much more. Jesus, as “Son of God” shares the qualities of God. Jesus is, in fact, God. I have heard my husband say basically the following words  many times over the past few weeks: “If you can come away from these passages and not see that Jesus is God, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Nature

In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus had finished a day of teaching in a boat to a huge crowd by the sea. At evening, Jesus and the disciples left the crowd to go to the other side of the sea. Jesus fell asleep in the boat, and there soon arose a fierce storm. The storm was so bad that waves crashed over the boat, filling it with water. Jesus continued to sleep, so the disciples woke him, asking him if he cared that they were perishing.

Jesus responded by simply standing up and rebuking the wind and sea with one command: “Hush, be still. And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.”

Then Jesus asked why they were afraid. He asked them if they still have no faith. The disciples response? “They became very much afraid,” wondering “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

What made the disciples afraid? Who then is this? Who then can say a word and all nature obeys him? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Demons

In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea. As soon as they got out of the boat a man with an unclean spirit met Jesus. This demon-possessed man lived naked among the tombs, was so strong that he was unable to be restrained even with chains, spent night and day screaming in the tombs and mountains and gashing himself. Note the demon’s response (through the man he possessed) when he saw Jesus:

  • He bowed before Jesus (v. 6).
  • He referred to Jesus as “Son of the Most High God” (v. 7).
  • He appealed to God for Jesus not to torment him when Jesus commanded the spirit to come out of the man (v. 8).
  • He earnestly implored Jesus not to send them out (v. 10) but rather into swine (v. 12).

When Jesus asked the demon’s name, he responded “Legion; for we are many.” A Roman legion consisted of 1000-6000 men, so it is possible that this many demons possessed this man.

            “Jesus gave [the demons] permission [to enter the swine].”

After the demons entered the swine, the pigs jumped into the sea and drowned. When the pigs’ herdsman told the people of the city and country, they ran to see what had happened.  They came to Jesus and saw the once-demon-possessed man sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. Their response? “They became frightened.” So frightened, in fact, that they asked Jesus to leave. The man who had the demon removed, however, begged to go with Jesus. Jesus denied him, telling him instead to go home and report “what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” This the man did and “everyone was amazed.”

What frightened the crowd? What amazed everyone? What kind of person does a demon bow to, beg for mercy, and ask permission to leave the one it is inhabiting? Who can command  thousands of demons with a word? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Disease and Death

In Mark 5:21-43, Jesus went back to the other side of the sea by boat, only to be greeted by a large crowd. The crowd gathered around him, and Jesus stayed on the seashore. One of the synagogue officials, Jairus, came to Jesus, fell at his feet, and asked for the life of his dying, 12-year-old daughter. He asked that Jesus would come lay his hands on her, so she would get well and live. Jesus went off with him.

While he and Jairus were walking to Jairus’ home, the large crowd continued to follow him and to press in on him. A woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years (thus considered unclean and untouchable according to Jewish law) heard about Jesus and squeezed her way through the crowd to get close to Jesus. Her goal was to simply touch Jesus’ garments in order to be healed. This she did, and immediately the hemorrhage stopped and her body healed.

After simply touching Jesus’ garments, the woman was healed. Jesus could perceive that power had left him by this simple touch.

Jesus asked the disciples who had touched him, and the disciples were incredulous that he would ask such a question because there were so many touching and pressing in on Jesus. Still, Jesus looked around and saw “the woman fearing and trembling.” Jesus comforted her, telling her to go in peace, because her faith in Jesus’ healing power had made her well.

Now, remember, Jairus was still with Jesus and likely saw this whole thing. In fact, while Jesus was still speaking to the women, people came from Jairus’ house, saying that his daughter was dead–no need to trouble the Teacher anymore. Jesus, ignoring this announcement, said to Jairus, “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

Jesus, now taking only Peter, James, and John with him to Jairus’ house, saw people making a commotion, weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus informed them that the commotion was unnecessary because the girl was not dead, just sleeping. The people laughed at Jesus, and Jesus put them out of the house. Taking his three disciples and the girl’s parents, Jesus entered the room where the girl was lying.

Jesus took the dead girl by the hand and said “Talitha kum” (“Little girl, I say to you get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk.

They were astounded. What kind of person could bring healing by a woman’s touching his garment in faith? What kind of person could say two words, commanding a dead girl to come back to life? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Only the God who is Creator of the winds and waves, Sovereign over demons and disease, the Creator of life itself can have the power to still the storm, demand demons to depart, heal disease, and command life. Only Jesus, the Son of God, can share this power to its fullest extent.

Over and over again, the people who saw Jesus’ power were afraid. They recognized that Jesus was not mere man; He is also God. Unfortunately, some people were (and still are) fearful and rejected Jesus, asking him to leave. Others though–afraid and awed at Jesus’ display of power–did not remain fearful, but believed in Jesus as Son of God.

When we view Jesus Christ, in all his magnificent power, we should have a holy awe and reverence. Yet let us not “be afraid, only believe” and then report “what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

{On Mondays, I 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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Frugal Friday: Filling the Freezer for Post Baby, Part 3

297The past couple weeks I posted parts 1 and 2, each listing 10 recipes that I made to fill my freezer with meals to eat after my third baby was born. Here are some more of the recipes I made. Again, I’ll star my absolute favorites that I know I’ll make again.

  1. *Homemade Pizza

These are delicious, easy, and frugal–not to mention much healthier than store-bought frozen pizzas! I make my own crust, using this simple no-rise dough. I also make my own sauce, using this delicious and easy sauce recipe. I often make double the pizza when we have pizza and follow these simple instructions to parbake and freeze one of the pizzas. Delicious and easy!

  1. *Slow Cooker Italian Beef 

Another delicious and easy winner! Techinally, you don’t really freeze this meal, unless you have a roast that you bought on sale and froze. I also definitely recommend the baked potato wedges recommended at the end of the recipe. Delish!

  1. Freezer egg sandwiches using homemade sausage patties.

I will not make these again. The homemade sausage was good and maybe I’ll make that (but I would cut them in patties before freezing next time!). It was quite a bit of work for the quantity I made, and I did not care for the way they reheated. The English muffins were soggy and the eggs were kind of spongy. Oh well, live and learn. . .

  1. *Instant Oatmeal 

So simple. If you buy instant oatmeal packets, just stop! 🙂 This is so much cheaper and healthier. Not to mention really easy.

The following are some side dishes I made as well.

  1. *Homemade Salsa (whichever is your favorite!)

After blending, simply place in freezer bag container or bag and freeze.

  1. Twice baked potatoes 

These were fine, but I thought the work outweighed the convenience factor.

  1. Cheesy potato skins 

If you do make #6, though, do make these. 🙂 They were good.

  1. Sweet Broccoli Pasta

Confession: we still have this in the freezer. We did not care for this when we made it. It was just weird to have sugar in a pasta dish.

  1. Southwest Rice and Beans

This a great, delicious side dish. I just didn’t care for it after frozen. It’s so easy anyway (especially if you have rice in the freezer) to just throw together–I just make it fresh.

  1. Spiced Roasted Cauliflower 

This was good. I just prefer to use whatever fresh veggies are in season, though.

Hope these lists are a help. Happy cooking and freezing! 🙂

{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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Worthy Word Wednesday: Pornography: How It Works and How to Reverse Its Effects (Part 2 of 2)

My husband, David, blogs at proclaimchrist.org and gave me permission to post his articles on my blog.The below article is  helpful in understanding what has typically been perceived as a male problem. However, the fact is that many women view or read pornographic material as well. The below article is one my husband wrote for his men’s Bible study, so it is geared toward men, but I’m sure that much could apply to women ensnared in this sin as well. Last week I posted part 1 about how pornography works. This week we look at how to reverse its effects from a biblical perspective. You can find the original article here.

staring-eyesHow to Reverse the Effects of Pornography: A Biblical Perspective

As helpful as it is to understand the physiological process of how pornography works, God gave us His Word to correct and instruct us on any matter, let alone the topic of sexual sin (cf. 2 Tim 3:16–17), and beyond this, Scripture has a great deal to say about the topic of sexual sin. This is not to say that it would not be useful to some degree to do physiological studies that would yield suggestions for battling porn. It is to say, however, that God’s Word already explicitly addresses the matter of how to handle sexual sin, so why would we run elsewhere first for answers?

What follows below is a brief look at the greater biblical means of reversing the effects of porn. It would certainly help to give a detailed examining of many texts on the topic of sexual sin, but for the sake of brevity, these texts must be assumed within the broader framework of what follows below.1

The work of God in salvation begins a definitive work in us whereby we progress in our sanctification and thus desire all sin, porn included, less and less over time. We must avail ourselves to God’s many means of grace so that we increase in our affection for Him and thereby diminish our desire for porn. What follows are a few points to explain these thoughts more fully.

Repent of sin and Believe in the Gospel

Seeking and deriving pleasure from pornography is sin. As with any sin, one must understand Jesus Christ as fully God and man who lived a perfect life and sinlessly died for the sin of all mankind (Rom 5:8–10; 2 Cor 5:20–21), including sin that involves pornography. All those who repent of their sin and place their faith in Christ find forgiveness and cleansing in Him (1 John 1:8–9).

Die to sin and live to God in Christ Jesus

The work of salvation includes having died to our former way of life and being no longer dominated by the power of sin (Rom 6:5–6). The reign of sin in our lives has been definitively breached and broken. At the point of salvation and thereafter, we progressively put away what remains of sin and live unto righteousness by the power of the Spirit (Rom 6:6; 8:13; Gal 5:16–26).2 We will certainly do so because God continues His work in us until Christ’s return (Phil 1:6). As we grow in our affection for God, our desire for pornography will diminish.

Put the Pornography Away

“Sexual immorality, impurity, passion”—it is these things that we must “put to death” immediately (Col 3:5). To actively sin through pornography while claiming to have fellowship with God is to walk in darkness, lie, and not practice the truth (1 John 1:6). Along with our salvation [i.e., as one who has been saved], we [you] must get rid of your porn. Throw out your magazines and videos, clear your internet favorites, and get rid of all your pornography, whatever form it may be.

Lead Yourself Not into Temptation

Not only must we get rid of our porn, but we must also put up checks and balances that keep us from engaging in this sin again. Just as we are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” so also we must “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14). It is not sin or legalism to do what it takes to keep yourself from sinning again. Get a filter for the internet on every device, have an accountability partner, and do whatever it takes to keep yourself away from porn.

Equip Yourself with God’s Word

We have all we need for “life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” open bible(2 Pet 1:3). This knowledge of God is found in His Word and comes to us through personal study and preaching. It is through Scripture that we may be “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–17). Memorizing and meditating upon Scriptures immediately applicable to pornography are particularly helpful activities that will equip you to do battle against your sin. As David said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11).

Change Yourself through the Church

The ministry of the saints to one another grows us toward a “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13; cf. 4:11–16). The church and its individual members spur one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24–25) and provide an accountability to one another that brings about admonition and discipline when necessary (Matt 18:15–18; Rom 15:14). Our interaction with one another pushes us away from sins like engaging in porn, and the saints and the assembly admonish us to stop such sin if present.

Intentionally Renew Your Mind

In whatever you do with the time that would have been given to pornography, “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17), and “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). Since you have previously given yourself to sensuality through pornography to some degree, you should likely be all the more mindful to do things that intentionally renew your mind unto righteousness and holiness in order to diminish the effects of your previous habit (cf. Eph 4:17–24). Such renewal could be through listening to sermons, reading Christian literature, or meditating directly on Scripture.

Conclusion

Perhaps we could tread lightly and suggest that salvation and progressive sanctification undo the physiological effects of pornography over time. The satisfaction one knows from salvation and its fruit and whatever concurrent dopamine release there may be along the way may just leave pathways created by iFosB that help to motivate righteous habits in time. Meditation upon one’s redemption and its practical outworking may give a joy whereby the brain says, “This feels good; let’s remember how to get back there.” Perhaps the former pornographer finds himself eventually thirsting not for porn but for God because his joy in Him is so much more fulfilling than what he once received from porn. Could this not be so?

Whatever the exact physiological description of the joy of our salvation may be, as we have seen, we can actively choose by God’s power to abstain from sexual sin. We find our joy in Christ, and though we struggle to put away what remains of our sexual sin, whether involving pornography or something else, we do so with the hope that all our spiritually destructive cravings will one day be changed and we will no longer want porn again. Our “Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:20–21), and “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). May we strive to be now what we shall be then, like our Savior Jesus Christ, with no addiction to porn, and living for the glory of God.

  1. For further study, however, see Tim Challies,Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn(Adelphi, MD: Cruciform, 2010); Erwin Lutzer, Winning the Inner War: How to Say No to a Stubborn Habit (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2002); and Edward T. Welch, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave : Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001). 
  2. For a theology of definitive and progressive sanctification, see Anthony A. Hoekema, “The Reformed Perspective,” 59–90, inFive Views on Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987); John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955), 141–50. 

 

{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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