Saturday, February 19, 2011

Just Give Me Jesus!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled weekend for this important announcement:  Jesus loves you!

I was talking to some friends about how noisy the world is and how sometimes I am overwhelmed with all the do's and don'ts, the criticism and rejection.  Sin abounds in the world and temptation is ever lurking.  Life is hard and painful and exhausting....and sometimes, I just want to shut all that out and say, JUST GIVE ME JESUS!

My dear sister in the Lord, Anne Graham Lotz, evangelist Billy Graham's daughter, wrote a book and recorded a DVD set of teachings called Just Give Me Jesus.  Every now and then, when life just gets to be too much, I think of her teachings and say, "Just give me Jesus!" 

Oh, how I hope this gives you a measure of comfort in your life right now in those hard-to-reach corners of your heart that have become weary...those places you try to ignore and hope they'll go away on their own..those places you've tried filling up with anything other than Jesus Himself. 

He is waiting to fill them up, to fill you up, with His love and His good and faithful character. He is complete and He is all you need. I pray that after listening to the precious words of Anne Graham Lotz you will be inspired to draw closer and dive deeper into the God Who created you for a purpose and loves you over and above anything you could ever imagine.

Just let the world go, let Him have your cares, close your eyes and let Him love you. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Funnies - The Don't Song

As we head into the long weekend, some sage advise...even when it comes wrapped in a wig. 

Have a great one!

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Extravagant Love

There is one love that surpasses them all, the love story of all love stories. A love that overshadows all other loves, one that has been since before time and always will be, and that is God’s love for you and me.

God is the genesis of all love. His love is pure, it is perfect, it is constant. It is unconditional and selfless. All He has done and ever will do stems from His unwavering love for us. He has poured out His love on us so lavishly that sometimes we hardly notice it.  Nevertheless, He’s been wooing his Bride since the beginning of time.

He gave the sun to warm us, the stars to shine and lead our way. He gave us galaxies to discover, mountains to climb, caves to explore. He gave the oceans’ waves to ride and summer's smell of fresh-cut grass. He paints a new masterpiece to wake us and another to send us to bed. He gave us cool breezes rustling through leaves.

He gave us one another as spouses, as parents and children, and as friends. He gave us language that we might speak and pen our love for one another. He even gave us fragrant roses, diamond mines and cocoa beans.

He called one man to be the father of His people that He might show His amazing love to and through them. And He never left them. He led them through the desert to the Promised Land, provided all their needs and came to their rescue time and time again.

Then He gave another Man to show His love to all the world; He gave His only Son over to death to purchase our souls from hell.  He then raised Him from the dead, showing us His power over death and gave us hope.

And though it could never contain Him, His Holy Spirit dwells within our hearts, even the very darkest, most broken recesses. He leads us and ministers to us, counsels us and comforts us. And He rescues us time and time again.

He is our Knight in shining armor, sparing nothing to go after us, revealing Himself to us over and over until we let Him in and His love is ours and ours is His. He has given all the universe, and imprinted the farthest reaches with His everlasting love.

This is a picture taken by the Hubble telescope of the center of the Whirpool Galaxy, which is located approximately 31 million light-years from our Milky Way Galaxy.  The radius of the Whirpool Galaxy is approximately 38,000
light-years. This center, thought to be a black hole, stands perpendicular to the spiral nebula

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting
love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Secret World of Snowflakes and You

In the last week or two here in the U.S., people have shoveled, scraped and trudged their way through one of the biggest snow storms we (and when I say “we,” I mean “they,” since I’m from Arizona) have seen in quite a while. My guess is most of those people have seen enough snow to last them until December.

But as we take a magnifying glass and look at a single snowflake, we'll see that they really are fascinating little miracles. Just like precious pearls begin as something ordinary--a grain of sand, snowflakes also begin as something just as unpretentious--a dust particle, a piece of volcanic ash or sea salt.

As it falls through the atmosphere, each particle forms into a clear ice crystal, its individual shape and size determined by the various conditions, such as the altitude, temperature and humidity, that each particle encounters as it falls to the ground. The one thing that all snowflakes have in common is that they each have six sides or branches.

All of us are also born with an ingrained imperfection, that is, our sin nature. As we grow, the conditions we encounter, such as the family we grow up in, the experiences we have in life and even our own personalities determine the one-of-a-kind of person we become. But our sin nature continues to act as an irritant, wreaking havoc in our souls.

“’Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD,
‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

Interestingly, crimson is deep, red color named after maggot-like insects called Kermes that produce the scarlet color. It’s a type of plant parasite that feeds on the leaves of evergreen oak trees. (Here’s another snowflake factoid to blow your mind: though snowflakes come in many different shapes, the snowflakes with branches like the ones in the picture are called Stellar Dendrite snowflakes. Dentritic means “tree-like.”) Our sin acts like those parasitic creatures, eating away at our joy, our lives and our souls.

The Lord tells us that though we have been stained with the blemish of sin, He will make them white as snow. But we are all individual clear ice crystals, if you will. What makes snow, and us, white?

As snowflakes fall to the ground and begin to gather together, the light shining into the snow gets scattered around inside and is reflected around all those unique six-sided snow prisms and the light that comes back out appears white. And the imperfections are no longer seen.

The Bible refers to the number six as the number of mankind, of incompleteness. Just as the one commonality among snowflakes is that they have six sides, we all have in common our imperfect humanity. Without Christ, we are incomplete and impure. But as we receive Jesus Christ by faith and become part of God’s family, His light shines into us and is filtered back out through the prism of our character, purifying our hearts and making us white as snow.

It’s amazing to me that God made snowflakes as a microscopic allegory showing us our need for Him. It’s as if He calls to us in the whisper of a tiny, almost secret world and says, “I know all about your weaknesses, your frailties, your sins, but the power of my love can overcome all that!” You have come through different backgrounds, different circumstances, different sufferings and different joys than anyone else. And the shape that your heart and mind have become through your own uniquely-designed life allows Christ to shine through you in the extraordinary ways He’s chosen just for you and the lives around you.

Praise the Lord!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Foodie - Chicken Sandwiches with Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

So it's Friday and that means time for a foodie, a wintery barbecue foodie. (It has molasses in it and to me molasses means winter.  Don't ask me why.)  These pulled chicken sandwiches are sweet and tangy all at the same time, easy to prepare and the recipe makes enough for leftovers.  And there's nothing like walking into the kitchen the next day to make dinner and realizing, "Hey, I have leftover chicken sandwiches already made!"

I made some homemade baked sweet potato fries (sprinkled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and baked on a greased cookie sheet at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, turning once) to go with.  Enjoy!

Chicken Sandwiches with Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

1 4-lb. roast or boiled chicken, shredded
Sourdough or other sturdy sandwich rolls

Balsamic Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon worcestershire
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

To make barbecue sauce, add all ingredients in a 2-qt. saucepan.  Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to about 2 cups, about 12-15 minutes. 

Mix together shredded chicken and sauce.  (You may not need all the sauce.  Add some, stir in, and add more according to taste.)  Serve on rolls. 

Have a great weekend!