Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Direct Communication From God...Are You Listening

I’m back to reading my way through the Old Testament, so be prepared for a number of posts focused around lessons learned from Moses and the Israelites. 

I really do love this part of the Bible.  The Israelites are normal people with messed up lives, and Moses struggles regularly with his leadership role.  It’s real life, devoid of the TV sitcom sugar coating!

A few days ago I came to chapter 7 in the book of Numbers.  This chapter takes 88 long verses to describe (in great detail) the offerings of dedication each of the 12 tribes of Israel brings to the Lord at the dedication of the Tabernacle.

Each one brings the same thing, over and over, and over again…x 12!!  I was getting a little bored, my mind was wandering, and I admit to scanning the text instead of fully reading it.

But then, the very last verse, number 89, caught my attention….

“Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover – the place of atonement – that rests on the Ark of the Covenant.  The Lord spoke to him from there.”  Numbers 7:89 (NLT)

Moses heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him!  There are many occasions throughout the Old Testament where God speaks directly to the people…

  • Adam and Eve
  • Abraham
  • Noah
  • Samuel
  • David
  • Ezekiel
  • Jeremiah
  • Jonah
…and the list goes on.

My imagination was off and running!!  What was it like to have God speak directly to you? 

It terrified the Israelites when God spoke to them on Mount Sinai!  It must have been amazing and terrifying and wonderful and humbling and awe inspiring…I imagine it defied description.

But here’s what’s interesting.  Many of the people God spoke to didn’t want to hear what He had to say…

  • Eve – bit the apple
  • Moses – argued about going to Egypt to bring the Israelites out of slavery
  • Jonah – didn’t want to go and preach to the people of Nineveh
  • David – after being anointed the king of Israel, goes back to being a shepherd
  • Jeremiah – says no way God, I’m way too young to be your prophet

And yet, with the exception of Eve, all these people do eventually follow God’s call and accomplish great things for the Kingdom.

Many times I’ve wished God would speak directly to me, so I’d be clear on what He’s saying.  Today we don’t hear God’s voice speaking from the place of atonement, but we do hear His voice through the words in the Bible and through the movement of the Holy Spirit. 

God speaks through many people - pastors, church members, friends, family, co-workers, the person next to you on the bus, your spouse…

So it’s not a question about God speaking directly to me.  The real question is am I listening and willing to respond? 

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Are you listening to God?  Are you willing to respond?  What are you arguing with God about?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Strawberry Pie With Chocolate Drizzle

Normally the last week of the month is recipe week, but with strawberry season in full swing I couldn't wait to post this mouth watering creation!


What You Need:
1 frozen pie shell
2 vanilla pudding cups
1 pkg strawberry glaze (usually found with the fresh fruit in the grocery store)
4 to 5 cups fresh, sliced strawberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Bake the empty pie shell according to the directions on the box.  If you want to make a pie shell from scratch visit "A Plethora Of Pie" for a never-fail pastry recipe.  Cool the shell completely.

When the pie shell is cooled, spread the vanilla pudding cups over the bottom of the baked pie shell.


Follow the instructions on the strawberry glaze package to make the glaze.  Mix the sliced strawberries into the glaze and heap them into the pie shell on top of the vanilla pudding.

Melt the chocolate chips on VERY low heat.  Pour the melted chocolate into a small zip lock bag.  Squish all the chocolate into one corner of the bag, then cut a small bit of the corner of the bag off.  Drizzle the chocolate over top of the pie.

Chill for two or three hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Knowing God's Presence

The cloud covered the Tabernacle and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle…The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it.  This continued throughout all their journeys.  Exodus 40:34-38 (NLT)

What would it be like to wake up in the morning, yawn, stretch, scratch, and look out the window to see physical proof of God’s presence hovering over your place of worship?

Or imagine screaming yourself awake from a nightmare and peering blindly into the thick darkness to see a reassuring fire glowing over the church – a constant reminder that God is with you.

Would it make your faith stronger?  Would you trust God more?  Would you worship more?  Would you treat people better?

Or would His presence become common place, instead of sacred…just one more cloud on the landscape?

So often we struggle to “see” God, and we look for reminders of His presence.  We carry symbols with us.  We wear jewelry in the shape of a cross.  We put fish stickers on our bumpers.  We carry small polished rocks engraved with words like “faith” and “hope” and “Jesus”.  We wear bracelets proclaiming , “I am second”.

We yearn for a constant sense of His presence and we do all these things to remind us of Christ’s death and resurrection.  These are signs and symbols of our faith, but none are the physical presence of God. 

Yes, the Israelites were fortunate enough to journey with visual proof of the physical presence of God, and it must have been amazing, awe inspiring, and frightening all at the same time.  But today we don’t need physical proof of God’s presence.

When Jesus gave His life for us, was crucified and rose from the dead, God’s presence came to dwell in us in the form of the Holy Spirit. 

Admittedly there are times when you don’t “feel” the presence of God, but if you’ve trusted Jesus with your life, then you can be certain He is there with you always.


“The eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him – but some of them doubted!  Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)

Some of the disciples doubted Jesus’ presence even though He was standing right in front of them.  But He reassured them, promising to always be with them.  We can take reassurance of His presence from this promise, too.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Do the times you think God isn’t there outweigh the times you “feel” His presence?  Are you like the doubting disciples, needing reassurance?

Share your thoughts by clicking on “Comments” below.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Home Made Creamy Caesar Salad

It's the last week of the month and that means recipe week.  Normally I try to post a recipe for a super easy or extra ordinarily yummy dessert, but I thought I'd deviate from the norm this month.

Canada Day is coming and that means picnics and potlucks and the need to bring some food item to share.  What better thing to feed your friends than a home made caesar salad that puckers them up and leaves their taste buds quivering for more! 

And yes, it's easy to make...right down to the croutons!

So let's start there...

Super Easy Home Made Croutons

Toast two or three slices of your favourite bread until it's fairly well done.  Cut the toast into cubes. 

Melt about 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch x 9 inch pyrex pan in the microwave.  Sprinkle in garlic salt and garlic powder - go a little lighter on the garlic salt so it's not too salty.  Stir this around and dump in the toast cubes.  Mix well until the butter is absorbed.

Broil this for a few minutes, stirring periodically until the croutons are nice and crispy.  Pull the pan out of the oven and let the croutons cool.

(Quite often I'll use left over hot dog or hamburger buns that happen to be in the freezer just to use them up.)

Creamy Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 minced clove of fresh garlic

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.  Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavours can blend.

NOTE
For extra tangy dressing add extra lemon juice to taste (using the juice of 1/2 a squeezed lemon works well too)

NOTE:  This recipe is enough for one large head of romaine lettuce.

The Salad
  • 1 head of fresh romaine lettuce - I like the full head with the dark green leafy parts instead of just the romaine hearts
  • Home made croutons
  • Bacon bits - you can use store bought, but if there's left over bacon from a weekend breakfast, I cut it up and store it in the freezer so it's ready to toss into a salad.
  • Green onions (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese - I leave this out due to my lactose intolerance and my husband's extreme loathing of the "stinky foot cheese", but typically Caesar salad should have Parmesan included in it - fresh if you have it - otherwise the dried grated version works.
Mix this all together, pour the dressing over top, and toss well.

NOTE:  Caesar salad is always best eaten fresh - if it sits for an extended period of time I find it turns rather slimy and, while the flavor is still good, the texture and aesthetic qualities leave something to be desired.

Enjoy and happy Canada Day weekend!




Friday, June 20, 2014

Eternal Hope

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Judy.  In memory of her daughter.  Thank you for sharing your pain with me.
 
How do you find hope in your life in the midst of pain and suffering?  What a question!

This past weekend I was facilitating a women’s retreat for Southwood United Church.  The retreat centre is located on an escarpment in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains overlooking the Ghost River.  This was the scene of a major flood that swept across Southern Alberta in 2013.
 

Trees that previously stretched their limbs to the sunlit sky now lie on the ground, flattened by the rush of water that buried them one year ago.

On Saturday afternoon I went for a walk by the river with a dear friend who recently lost her daughter.  Her pain is fresh and raw, and my heart broke for her as we grieved together by the river.

 While we were there we noticed an interesting characteristic of the trees in the devastated landscape.  Each tree appeared to be lying on the ground.  On closer examination we realized that although they were flattened out, each tree had brilliant green spring growth on it. 

 Intrigued, we looked closer and saw that the trees, weren’t actually uprooted. Their trunks lay parallel to the ground, forced down by the weight of the flood waters, but their roots remained firmly planted in the ground.

 Despite adverse growing conditions, their roots extended deep into the soil and they continued to thrive and grow. 
 

My friend, in the midst of her pain, looked at this and commented on the similarity to a faith journey.

 Life’s events knock us down and leave us lying on the ground, but our faith roots us firmly in Jesus Christ so we are able to drink deeply from His well of life-giving, life-sustaining water and continue to grow through difficult times.
 

This beautiful woman is an inspiring example of what a strong faith looks like.  She grieves, and yet she finds and accepts the gifts that God continues to bring into her life.

I’m reminded of this scripture…

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”  Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)
 
So we suffer and we grieve, but Jesus is our solid foundation.


Yesterday I received this picture from my friend.  A reminder of our time together.  She titled the picture “Eternal Hope”.  Now I share that hope with you and pray for all who grieve.  May you find the hope of Jesus Christ in the midst of your pain. 
 
 
 

 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Beautiful Mess

It’s Sunday morning.  For a change, we’re not rushing to get to church.  I sit on the front porch, tea in hand, basking in the early morning sunlight while I enjoy the unexpected gift of an unscheduled 20 minutes.

The chaos of colour from my flower bed draws my gaze.  Yellow, orange, red, and white sway in the morning breeze.  It’s chaos! 

California poppies self-seeded from last summer have hijacked the soil. 
They spring up everywhere burying ,the miniature rose and subduing even the strongest hosta in a sea of colour.
In the self-ordered world that is my mind, it’s a mess.  But through the eyes of a gardener it’s beautiful.

 I smile and wonder…is this how God sees my life?  Does He gaze at the chaos, the struggles, the failures, the missed opportunities, the pain and grief and brokenness…and see beauty?

“Look at the lilies how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed a beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?”  Luke 12:27-28  NLT

God takes the time to create the flowers, making them perfect and beautiful.  I think He smiles when He sees them in their radiant colour.  And He smiles when He sees us, no matter what condition we’re in.  He made us and loves us in the midst of our messy, broken lives.  To Him we are beautiful, regardless of where we’re at.

The mess in my flower bed is a gift.  A gift of colour and beauty given by God.  I take the time to enjoy it and give thanks for it; thankful that He loves me in all my messiness.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
You may not love yourself, but know this…God does. 

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NLT)

Substitute “the world” with your name in that scripture and let the words sink in slow and deep.  “God so loved…that He gave his one and only Son…”

That’s how much He loves you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Give Me Strength

“Lord, I’m tired.  Exhausted to the core of my being.  And I’m far from you.  Please renew my energy and spirit.”

I sit in the sun on Saturday morning talking to God.  It’s week number five of a cold that won’t quit.  I have no energy.  I’m tired of being tired.  I don’t feel close to God.

“What can I do, Lord?  Please bring healing and rest.”

I sit with eyes closed and listen to my breathing, trying to sense God’s presence.

“Are you here God?  Are you listening?”

I breathe slowly and my shoulders relax.  A scripture comes to mind.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.

“Yes Lord, Isaiah 40.”

I open the bible on my lap, turn to Isaiah 40, and scan down to the bottom of the chapter until I find the verse.

I read, “Even youths will become weak and tired…but those who trust in the Lord will find new strength”

I close my eyes and breathe deep, feel the sun on my face.

You’ve been working in your own strength, not Mine.  That’s why you’re tired.  Trust Me.  Turn each day and everything in it over to Me.  Do the work you need to, but do it in My strength, not yours. 

That’s it.  I’ve missed God.  I’ve made time for many things, but not Him.  In my time of weakness when I turn to Him, He reminds me.

My job is busy and challenging.  There’s no way I can do it in my own strength and knowledge.  I need God alongside helping me.

This is my challenge.  At the start of each day, before I get out of the car and walk into my office, I need to turn everything over to God.  Give Him the day and let Him work in it.  Pray for daily strength and wisdom, then rest in that prayer and His presence throughout the day.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

This is my daily challenge…to trust God that the work that needs to get done will be done.  To realize I can only do so much in one day, and to seek His strength and wisdom every morning.

What about you?  Do you need to renew your strength in God each day?  Do you need to seek rest?  Do you need wisdom?  Start the day with a prayer for God to be in everything you do.