Saturday, October 31, 2009

Flavor-of-the-Month - Pumpkin Pancakes with Warm Cider Syrup

Bake at 350

It’s fall! And this year Arizona is actually acting like it - for the time being at least. And so, with much appropriateness, Bridget from Bake at 350 has chosen pumpkin as the theme for this month’s Flavor-of-the-Month. Nothing says Thanksgiving is right around the corner like the spicy aroma and flavor of pumpkin.

So I decided to whip up something I’ve wanted to for a long time: Pumpkin Pancakes with Warm Cider Syrup. These are as light and fluffy as all get out. Tip: since the syrup needs to stand for 25-30 minutes after cooking, begin preparing it first, then start the pancakes while it’s simmering.

And don’t forget to click on over to Bridget’s Flavor-of-the-Month blog to check out her Pumpkin Woopie Pies and all the other pumpkiny treats.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Warm Cider Syrup

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
½ cup canned pumpkin
2 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 egg whites

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine milk, pumpkin, yolks, and oil.

2. Add pumpkin mix to dry mix and stir just till combined.

3. In another bowl, beat egg whites till stiff. Fold into pumpkin mix.

4. Heat oil in a skillet till hot and drop pancake mix by 1/3 cupfuls, (or whatever size your little ol’ heart desires). Flip when the pancakes form a few bubbles on the top and cook till golden. Makes about 10 pancakes.

Warm Cider Syrup

¾ cup apple cider
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat till sugar dissolves and mix is bubbly. Simmer about 20 minutes till reduced to 1 cup.

2. Let stand about 25-30 minutes to thicken.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Halloween Or Not To Halloween

I remember as a little girl trying to peer through tiny holes that had been cut into a small, white sheet and tripping through our cold, dark neighborhood in hopes of filling my bag with candy. I remember keeping a watchful eye on a very, scary witch who was standing in her doorway handing out candy and hoping that we would not end up on her darkened porch. I remember hearing electronic screams throughout the neighborhood and being glad when we were finally home.

So, what’s wrong with that? It’s become part of the fabric of our American traditions. (And by the way, Halloween is also celebrated in several other countries around the world.)

But, once we surrender to Christ, I think we can sometimes forget to go back and ask ourselves, and even more importantly, the Lord, if some things we’ve become accustomed to are things that we should still be doing. We keep practicing them because we see others do them and we don’t see the harm. But now that we are The Called of God for His purposes, He has created us to be a separate people unto Him.

“You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden. People don't light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

We have been called to come out of the world and its darkness and join the city of believers that casts the light of God brightly into the world. And that means casting off the things that would darken His light in our lives. And we may not even realize that some things, like Halloween, may be part of that darkness.

I’ll give you a brief overview of the origins of Halloween and some of the traditions associated with it.

Halloween’s origins began at approximately the time of the birth of Christ with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (sow-in) in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and the northern part of France. Samhain was celebrated on the night of October 31, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth to play tricks on people. To appease the dead, the Druids would visit homes and the people would give them offerings of food. During the celebration of Samhain, the Celtic priests, or Druids, built huge, sacred bonfires and the Druids would disguise themselves by wearing animal-head masks and animal-skin costumes and jumping through the flames. The people from the surrounding villages would gather around the bonfires (which comes from the words “bone” and “fire”) to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to appease the Celtic deities and so that these deities would enable the priests to use divination to make predictions about the future.

In the 800’s, Christian religion had spread over this area and Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day, which would honor saints and martyrs. This celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas. The night before this celebration, October 31, was known as All-hallows Eve, and eventually became known as Halloween. November 2 later became known as All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead by building bonfires, having parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils.

European immigrants began coming to America and bringing their Halloween traditions with them. The celebrations were in limited sections of America and began as parties to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, tell ghost stories and cause destruction.

Later, Halloween celebrations spread across America and people began to borrow from the old European traditions by dressing up in costumes and go from house to house asking for food or money. It was also believed that young women, on Halloween, could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple pairings or mirrors.

Trick-or-treating probably evolved from the Samhain traditions to those in Ireland of going door-to-door begging for soul cakes in exchange for promises of prosperity or protection against bad luck.

Carving Jack-O-Lanterns originated from a myth about a man named Stingy Jack who invited the devil to have a drink with him. Jack tricked the devil into turning himself into a coin to pay for the drinks, and then he tricked him once again before he died. God wouldn’t let Jack into heaven, and the devil was angry with Jack and wouldn’t let him into hell, so he sent Jack out with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The carving of turnips to scare away Jack began in Scotland and Ireland, and then eventually the tradition transformed into carving pumpkins here in America.
Today, of course, Halloween has become synonymous with horror films, blood, death, witches, ghosts, haunted houses and evil. Darkness.

“But,” you say, “I don’t do any of those things. We just dress up in cute costumes and walk around the neighborhood getting candy.”

I don’t want to be your Holy Spirit. But I am encouraging you to allow the Holy Spirit to be your Holy Spirit. Ask Him if this is something that is honoring and glorifying to Him or is it participating in a celebration that is glorifying His enemy?
Because the reality is, we don’t see the spiritual warfare that goes on that night, or any night for that matter. But it is a celebration that is steeped in pagan worship, in divination, and in sacrifice in order to appease demons. We may not take it seriously, but I bet the enemy of God does, and I believe he’ll use any opportunity to worm his way into the lives of people.

And yes, I know the Lord may choose to use you in a way on this night that truly is glorifying Him, and that's wonderful, too. 

“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. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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.” 1 John 1:5-7

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cross-Like T-Shirt Design at Penn State University Sparks Controversy

Now even the shape of a cross, even when the shape isn't intentionally depicting a cross, is deemed offensive.  Where will it end? The following is a news article on

A blue, cross-like design emblazoned on T-shirts at Penn State University has some critics seeing red.

The shirts — intended to foster school spirit — sport a vertical blue line down the center with the words "Penn State White Out" emblazoned across the chest, forming a design that some say resembles a cross. The back of the shirt depicts the same blue line obscured by the words, "Don't be intimated … It's just me and 110,000 of my friends." Roughly 30,000 of the shirts have been sold.

Penn State says it has received six complaints about the shirt, including one from the Anti-Defamation League's Philadelphia branch, from people who say it connotes a Christian cross. The logo design also has become the focus of controversy in the student newspaper, "The Daily Collegian," which has received several letters to the editor on both sides of the issue.

Michal Berns, a junior majoring in media law and policy, said she refused to buy the $15 shirt because of its religious connotations.

"At first glance, you don't necessarily think that's what it looks like, but when you look at it more, it does look like a cross," Berns told "That's the reason I didn't purchase it."

Berns said students can purchase the shirts when they buy season tickets for the university's nationally ranked football program or during the football season at the campus bookstore and other stores. The shirts are typically worn at Penn State's annual "White Out" game, at which a crowd of 100,000 screaming Nittany Lions fans creates a virtual sea of white at Beaver Stadium.

While Berns acknowledged the shirt's single blue stripe resembles the stripe on the team's football helmet, she and others at the university's Hillel Jewish organization plan to show their school pride in other ways.

"There always has to be some sort of separation," said Berns, referring to the state-funded school and religious affiliation. "Me personally, I'm not going to buy the shirts and I know others at [Penn State Hillel] who won't, either."

Bill Mahon, vice president for university relations, said six people have contacted Penn State to voice their objections to the shirt's design.

"Six complaints is not a controversy," Mahon wrote "Students submit shirt designs to the student paper each year. Students then vote for their favorite design and they are sold in the campus bookstore."

Mahon said the design was based on the single blue stripe on the football team's helmets and will not be pulled from store shelves as some have asked. "The shirts have sold out and no changes are planned," he said.

Stephanie Bennis, a senior at the school, said she created the shirt's design in March with fellow public relations major Emily Sabolsky, and in no way did they intend to create religious overtones. Like Mahon, she said the single blue stripe is a nod to the university's football program.

"That was the entire idea," she said. "And all we thought was normally wording goes right across the chest. That's truly the reason why we did it."

Bennis said she was "very shocked" when she learned the university had received complaints about the design.

"It's just sad to see that in this day and age, the most offensive thing on a shirt can be what people see as a religious symbol," she said.

"Are we going to ban lowercase t's in the alphabet? Where do you draw the line?"

Barry Morrison, regional director of the Eastern Pennsylvania-Delaware region of the Anti-Defamation League, said the organization contacted Penn State officials last month after receiving a complaint regarding the shirt.

Morrison said the similarity to a cross appeared to "inadvertent and unintentional," but he acknowledged that some could take exception.

"This is not intended to be a cross," he said. "But some people clearly saw this connection and decided to complain about it."

Other students contacted by said if there is a hidden religious message in the shirts, they haven't seen it.

"It's a little blown out of proportion," senior John Shoemaker said. "I kind of see where they're coming from, but I don't think it was designed as a religious statement."

Shoemaker, who purchased one of the shirts for $15 to wear at Penn State's loss to Iowa last month, said they're "relatively common" on the State College, Pa., campus.

Nick Mangus, a senior majoring in East Asian studies, described the controversy as "ridiculous" and said images of crosses can be seen virtually anywhere, even in "tiles on the floor."

"Honestly, I think it's basically people just trying to stir up controversy over something that's ridiculous," Mangus said. "If you don't want to buy it, don't buy it. It's that simple. You don't have to try and force everyone else to change their ways because you think it's offensive."

The Promised Land - Breaking Down Strongholds

Series on The Promised Land

So, now we have our spiritual armour firmly in place.  No?  Time to go back and put it on.  Now, time to slay the dragon. Time to drive our personal enemies out of our spiritual promised land flowing with milk and honey.

When Moses was still leading the Israelites toward Canaan, he knew that enemies lurked there and God’s people would have to wage war in order to drive them out of the land that God had promised to them. The first order of business was to send spies to evaluate the enemy territory.

“These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Joshua. And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, ‘Go up this way, southward, and go up into the mountain. And see the land, what it is, and the people that live in it, whether it is strong or weak, few or many. And see what the land is that they live in, whether it is good or bad; and what cities they dwell in, whether in tents or in strongholds;” (Number 3:16-19)

And this was the answer the spies brought back to Moses and all the people:

“And they told him and said, ‘We came to the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey. And this is the fruit of it. However, the people that dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are walled, very great. And also we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south, and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea and by the coast of Jordan.” Numbers 13:27-29

The Israelites faced many enemies who were very well established in the land and who did indeed live in strongholds. A stronghold is “a fortification, castle, or fortified city; a fenced or walled fortress.”

The warfare that was ahead of this bunch of weary travelers, of whom there were no formally trained warriors since most grew up in the desert, save maybe Moses since he grew up in the Pharaoh’s house, but that was 80 years past.

But one of the spies, Caleb, “stilled the people before Moses and said, Let us go up at once and possess it. For we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

And then were the poo-pooers. “But the men that went up with him (Caleb) said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched to the sons of Israel, saying, The land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up those who live in it. And all the people whom we saw in it were men of stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, of the giants. And we were in our own sight like grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:31-33)

All these men saw the same land, the same people. All of them were certain of heart that they could not wage a successful warfare on these giants. But one man, Caleb, had faith that they could.

But the Israelites believed the majority. They were the majority, so they must be right, right? And once again, they regretted they had not died back in Egypt – the land of slavery from which God had delivered them. And they began to grumble against Moses.

But Joshua and Caleb tore their robes at the faithless response to the Israelites. The two of them spoke to multitudes and reminded them that they were not just rebelling against their leader, they were rebelling against God. God had promised this land to them and the pair knew that God kept His promises, if they would only follow Him.

And even in the rebellion and provocation of the people that God loved so much, He remained faithful to be with them.

So, what did it take to bring down those strongholds, and what will it take to bring down the strongholds that the enemy has long set up in our own minds and hearts that keep us from entering into a spiritually victorious life? Not one always free from attacks, but one in which we dwell with our God in peace with all trust and faith and joy in Him? One that is free of those walls that keep us from fully entering in to a life flowing with milk and honey, flowing afresh daily with the Holy Spirit Himself.

We’ll see next time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friday Foodie - The Crabcake

Mmm…crabcakes - tiny, delectable patties of sweet seafood goodness. 

Perfect Crabcakes with Green Onion

1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced green onion tops
½ teaspoon Chesapeake seasoning, such as Old Bay
¼ teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1 pound lump or backfin crabmeat, drained and picked over for shells
4 teaspoons milk
10 saltine crackers, finely crushed
6 tablespoons olive oil for frying
lemon wedges for serving

1. Mix egg, mayo, green onions, Old Bay and hot sauce in a small bowl until mayo is completely incorporated, then set aside.

2. Lightly break up crabmeat in a medium bowl. Add milk; toss gently to coat. Add crushed saltines; toss gently to combine. Add egg mixture; gently toss, once again, to combine. Divide crab mixture up into 8 portions and form compact patties. (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 8 hours.)

3. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Carefully add crab cakes; sauté, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Well-Worn Heart

What is it about the show Touched By An Angel that gets me every time?  When I think of it I remember how it can be a little on the cheesy side.  But I think I've hardly watched a show that I can get through without a least a tear or two.  This last one I watched was no exception.  In fact, I cried most of the way through it.  Darn their cheesiness. 

It was about a 16-year old girl who was in the hospital and needed a heart transplant.  Another woman, in the same hospital, had just been in a horseback riding accident and was being kept alive by machines.  The doctor and the angels were trying to talk to the woman's husband to explain to him how he and his wife could help this young girl by allowing the woman's heart to be donated.  The man would hear nothing of it.  He couldn't accept the fact that his wife was really already dead and his own heart was broken. 

The doctor's daughter visited the young heart patient and they became fast friends.  At one point, the 16-year old girl, facing her own death, looked at her new young friend and said, "You've done well with your heart."

At that moment I thought, have I done well with my heart?  Have I used it to it's ultimate capacity?  Have I loved all I could love?  Have I forgiven all I could forgive?  And, of course, the answer is no.  I've succeeded many times, but others I haven't.

But I have this moment in time to choose whether to do well with my heart or not.  I pray I choose to do all I can possibly do with my heart with the power of God moving me for the rest of my life.  I have one life.  One chance each moment.  How will I look back on those moments when my life nears its end? 

At the end of the show, the husband is finally able to accept his wife's death, and sees the good in donating his dear wife's heart so that another doesn't have to die.  Sadly, he chose too late.  The young girl received her new heart, but along with a new body in the arms of her Savior. 

The husband had been warned many times not to take too long in his decision.  And God speaks to each of us, too, to choose Christ before it's too late.  God desires to give you a new heart.  Not a literal heart, of course, but a soul-heart, if you will, that is not laden with your own sin, but rather one that has been forgiven of all your sins because of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for you on the cross.  You can receive that forgiveness by simply telling God that you are sorry for your sins and that you want His Son Jesus Christ to come into your life to be your Savior and your Lord.  Please don't wait. 

If you have any questions, please email me by clicking on the postcard in the sidebar. 

God bless.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

George Street Testimony

Never underestimate the ability of God to work powerfully through you when you simply do what He has called you to do at this moment.  He may not call you to be a pastor or a well-known evangelist, but He has called you to your own ministry. Whatever that is, whether that's raising children to love the Lord, praying for a neighbor, or sharing the gospel with others, if you'll do it faithfully, in God's strength and to the best of your ability, though you may not see results in this lifetime, He will do amazing things.  This is but one such story. 

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from the heavens, and does not return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring out and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break out before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." (Isaiah 55:10-12)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Armour of God - Pray Always

Armour of God series - Part 1, Part 2a, Part 2b, Part 2c, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

I didn’t want to finish up talking about the armour of God without including the call of Paul to prayer. Each piece of armour – the truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation and the word of God, are all obtained through prayer and will be maintained and strengthened by prayer.

“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints..” (Ephesians 6:18)

Paul includes the words “always” and “all” four times in this one verse.

“praying always”…Our call to prayer is not just when we feel like it, or when things get really, really difficult, or when we’ve exhausted all other resources. We were given the Holy Spirit so that we could be in constant communion with the One to Whom our battles belong.  We can go to Him day or night, home or away.  God is always listening. 

“all prayer and supplication”…Literally, this means with every form of worship and request imaginable. We should never be afraid to bring anything before our Lord. Nothing is too small, too big and there are no feelings of fear or anger or any other emotions or thoughts we can have that He doesn’t already know about. He wants us to learn to completely depend on Him.

“with all perseverance and supplication”…Don’t give up. You may have prayed about something for years. Don’t give up. You may feel discouraged. Don’t give up. You may think God has forgotten you or your prayer. He hasn’t. Don’t give up. See your request through to the end, whether the answer you are given is yes, no, or wait. Don’t give up.

“for all the saints”…The saints are not those few chosen by man to be put on a pedestal for others to worship. The saints are all those who have been made pure and holy by the blood of Jesus Christ. The saints are all those who have believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They are you and I. And we are to pray for all of them – as many and as often as the Lord puts on our hearts.

There is a couple who used to go to our church many years ago, but who moved out of state. I haven’t heard from them or anything about them since they left. But every now and then, God will put them on my heart, and I know I need to pray for them. The next time you think of a brother or sister in Christ, pray for them. You may not even know them personally, but pray for them.

Which brings me to the reminder that Paul gives to pray “in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit knows of things that we don’t. He knows the needs that my friends whom I haven’t seen in years have. He knows the needs of that person sitting across from you in church. He knows the needs of your pastors and their families. He knows all the needs of all the saints that He puts on our hearts to pray for.

As we sit before Him, entering in to all praise and worship of our God, He will show us how to pray for the members of the body of Christ, and how to pray for ourselves. And as we lift up those prayers and supplications, the peace of God will fill our hearts, and each piece of armour will be even stronger than it was before.

God bless!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fraturday Foodie - Cheddar Cheese Buttermilk Scones

Yep, Friday's gone, so this week it's Fraturday Foodie.  We had these scones with homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.  The first soup of the fall/winter season.  And then I had one for breakfast this morning.  

And p.s..can somebody please tell me why they have you use unsalted butter and then add salt??  Oh, wait. I think I just answered my own question.  Maybe it's because the amount of salt varies from one brand of butter to another and this way they can be precise about the amount of salt added to the recipes.  Huh.  Well thanks for helping me answer a question I've been wondering for a long time.  Who says you don't help out around here.

Cheddar Cheese Buttermilk Scones

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 1/4 cups shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons chopped chives
baking spray
milk for glazing

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, dry mustard, baking powder, sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Add butter, rubbing in with your fingers to form a course meal.  Add cheese and mix.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk and chives.  Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add egg mixture.  Using a fork, toss lightly just until all the dry mixture is incorporated. 
4. Drop by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet to make 12 scones.  Brush the tops with milk.
5. Bake 9-12 minutes, just until tops are lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Persecuted Church in Indonesia

The focus of the persecuted church this month will be on Indonesia. Indonesia is made up of 18,306 islands, 6,000 of which are inhabited. Indonesia is currently listed as a hostile nation, wherein the government attempts to protect Christians, but they are still victimized with violence because of their Christian beliefs.

The religious affiliation currently in Indonesia is 80% Muslim and 16% Christian. The Indonesian government holds a belief called “Pancasila,” where people are technically allowed to choose the religion they follow, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism, but Muslims are given preferential treatment.

Two families in West Java, Indonesia have recently been forced from their homes because the families converted to Christianity and baptized. A Voice of the Martyrs contact reported that, “They were summoned by a Muslim leader [in the village] and told they should leave the village because Christians make the village unclean.”

The Voice of the Martyrs reports that in May of 2008, Muslim warriors attacked a Christian village, burned the homes and threw bombs. They killed a 47-year old woman and her 6-year old granddaughter, smashing the woman’s skull with an ax, and hacking the girl’s stomach with a machete.

Prayer Request

Some Christians had gathered in Indonesia to pray that the hearts of Muslims would be open to the gospel. A video tape of the prayer service leaked to Islamic organizations and Daniel and 40 other Christian leaders were arrested in Indonesia in April, 2007. Daniel, an evangelist, was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Please be praying for Daniel and other prisoners who are currently serving prison time or are being persecuted in any way in Indonesia. If you’d like to write a letter of encouragement to Daniel, you can do so through Prisoner Alert.

Please pray for continued growth of the body of Christ in Indonesia, that the Lord will strengthen them in body and spirit to stay strong in their faith, that they will keep spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and that the Holy Spirit will draw many Muslims and people of other religions to the Heavenly Father and that they will be saved.

God bless.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Armour of God - The Sword of the Spirit

Armour of God Series - Part 1, Part 2a, Part 2b, Part 2c, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

“..and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Ephesians 6:17b)

Greek Word Lesson Alert!

There are two words for “word” in the New Testament.

The first is logos, which means “something said, or the expression;” as in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (Jesus Christ) was in the beginning with God.” Or in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” This is the spoken word of God, or the expression of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The second, which we are discussing today, is rhema, which means “an utterance, individually, collectively or specifically; a command.” This is a specific word given by God for a specific situation, as in Acts 11:16, when Peter said, “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” This was a specific word that the Lord gave to him. God can speak to us for specific situations through the scriptures, through another believer or directly into our hearts. You know those times you’ve been in a trial or praying for direction about something and God speaks to your heart? That’s the rhema of God.

(By the way, the word for the scriptures, the written Word of God, is another word, graphe, meaning “a document.”)

We’ve been given a sword, our only offensive weapon, which is the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within His believers in all power, speaking to our hearts, giving us wisdom, direction and encouragement when we are confronted in an enemy attack.

There was a night very soon after I became a Christian when I was at home alone that I got a very strange and scary phone call from someone I didn’t know. Because of some circumstances in my past, I was filled with fear after I received the second phone call just minutes after the first.

Immediately, the Spirit of God spoke to my heart words from scripture that I had heard at church or bible study. I didn’t even know the reference but I ran to my Bible and tried to find it. It took a while to find it because, as I found out, I had heard the verses in a different translation than the Bible I had was in. But God was faithful to put a few keys words on my heart and I found the scripture soon enough.

“Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret-it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more.” (Psalm 37:1-10)

Through my graphe, the Holy Spirit spoke His rhema to my heart. When satan would have filled me with fear, the Spirit comforted me and reassured me that I was safe.

Don’t wait until you’re faced with an attack, or a trial of some kind to get into God’s Word. None of us knows what a day will bring. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word (rhema) that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"  We need to hear from the Lord.  Only He has the wisdom we need for each decision. 

Keep your sword at hand by stepping in closer to the Lord right now. Be familiar with God’s Word so that He can bring it to your mind when you most need it. Cultivate that intimate relationship with Him today so that your ears and heart are attuned to Him.

{I know it’s long - so sorry! And thank you to those of you who voted in the poll. We basically ended up with a tie!}

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Step 1: Wait

I had the chance to bake this week. I've been baking now for about 20 years, and I love it.  To me, it's a way of expressing my artistic side with some flour, egg, sugar and usually, some chocolate.  In the beginning, I wasn't very patient.  I'd try to rush through steps and the end product would always show it.  At one point I realized I needed to slow down and do each step until it was thoroughly completed. 

Bring the water to a full boil.  Mix until the cream held stiff, not medium, peaks.  Add the sugar slowly, rather than all at once.  Don't forget the baking soda in the chocolate chip cookie dough. 

So as I was baking this week, I reminded myself that I needed to do each step to perfection before moving on to the next step. 

And then it hit me: God does the same thing with us.  He is patient.  He takes us through each step of growth and waits until we've completed it to His satisfaction, and then He will move us on to the next step. 

Learn to forgive that person.  Purge the bitterness.  Empty myself.  Gain compassion.  Learn wisdom through trials.  Know Him.


The only thing is, I also have the same impatience I had in creating a pastry or a cake in God's process of creating me who He wants me to be.  I need to remember that I can't hurry the step God has me in right now or the end result will not be the same. 

I don't know exactly what God is creating me to be, but I do know that He is the consummate Craftsman.  He has a vision and I need to trust Him with each step.  And ultimately, if I slow down and yield to Him, I will be honored to mirror the supreme Artist.

"Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God'? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."  (Isaiah 40:27-31)