Monday, September 18, 2017

Jesus Loves Me

I wonder if you can imagine it.  You go out to dinner one night with your best friend.  It is a time to share stories and enjoy being away from the kids for just a few hours.  When you leave the restaurant, it is already dark outside.  As you walk together to the car in the dark, she says something totally hilarious, and you grab her arm and tilt your head back in a loud burst of laughter.  Then, out of the darkness appears a man with a gun.  He asks for your money and your rings.  He is screaming at both of you and waving his gun around erratically.  You plead with the gunman to take whatever you have but to please not take your wedding rings.  This just makes him even angrier and his behavior becomes more erratic.  As you both tearfully try to get your wedding rings off of your fingers, the gunman yells one final time, and you hear the discharge of the gun.  As if in slow motion, you see your friend step in between the gunman and you.  She falls to the ground as the gunman runs away.  He makes a clean getaway, but your friend does not make it.

Looking back on that night, you might have lots of doubts and questions.  You might question where you chose to park or where you went to eat.  You might question why you said anything about those rings.  Your wedding ring is special to you, but it was not worth your friend's life.  You might question lots of things, but you would never, ever question your friend's love for you.  She loved you enough to give her life so that you could live.

John 15:13 (ESV) says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  If someone laid down their life for you, wouldn’t you know without a doubt that they really, truly loved you?

This is what Jesus has done for us.  He laid down His life out of His love for us.  Romans 5:8 (ESV) says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  I wonder if you know that today.  I wonder if you believe that today.

I almost wish we would sing the children’s song Jesus Loves Me once a month in our corporate church worship service.  It is such a simple song, and it is so cut and dry.  Jesus loves me.  Do you really know that today?  Do you really believe that today?

I think a lot of people, including myself at times, wonder about the extent of God’s love for them.  How can God love me when I have committed this horrible sin?  If people at church knew what I did behind closed doors, they not like me anymore.  So how could a righteous God love me if my friends at church wouldn’t even accept me?  He is so holy, and I am so not.

There are a million reasons why God could not love us and why he should not love us.  We are but a vapor (James 4:14).  We are unholy.  We are sinners, and He is not.  We are greedy, lazy, selfish, and want what we can't have.

Despite all of the facts and all of the ways in which we come up short, Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.  I would like to take it a step further.  Jesus loves me this I know for the cross tells me so.  No greater love than this has ever occurred than Christ laying His life down for us.  

Jesus endured the cross, because He loves us. He endured the shame.  He endured the pain and the mocking, but He didn't back down.  Can I please encourage you today?  No matter what is happening in your life today, God wants to have a relationship with you.  He wants to talk to you.  The reason is because He loves you.  He loved you so much He laid down His life for you.  There is no greater love than this.

Jesus loves me! This I know, 
For the Bible tell me so; 
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Life and love to all who live.
Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for thee.
Anna B Warner

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is It The Universe or Is It God?

Recently, my daughter was watching a show on the Disney channel.  I happened to hear a very familiar phrase as I passed through the living room.  The lead character on the show said something along the lines of, "The universe knew I needed that today."  

I have been hearing similar phrases regarding the supremeness of "the universe" with increasing frequency in the main stream media or sitcoms or celebrity interviews.  I started to walk through the room, but decided instead it was a very teachable moment.

I walked over to the TV remote and paused the show.  I formed my hands into the shape of a T as my daughter looked away from the TV I had just paused and cast her gaze up to me.  "TV time out," I said.  "What do you think she meant when she said 'the universe'?"  

Lauren answered with a shrug of her shoulders, "I think she is just talking about God."  In Lauren's mind and in our home, there is nothing different than God so I am sure that is what she thought, but I was quick to point out it was not what the character had said.  "Ok," I asked, "if you think she was talking about God, did she ever say God?"  The answer was obviously no, and we had a great talk about how God and the universe He created are not the same thing or even on the same plane.  When you put anything in the place of God, it is a false idol.

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened...They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised.  Amen."
Romans 1:21 & 25 (NIV)

God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it (Genesis 1).  "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the sky above proclaims His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1, ESV).  The universe and everything in it answers to God, not the other way around.

I saw it this week too as Hurricane Irma came onto shore, and the reporters would say something like, "We are really seeing the strength of Mother Nature."  Again, nature is not showing you anything.  If you are seeing anything, it is the power and might of God Almighty.  God is in control of the winds and the waves.

When there was a storm raging on the sea with Jesus' disciples, Jesus was able to calm the waves (Matthew 8:24-26).  The disciples then said in verse 27, "What kind of man is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!"  Jesus had created the heavens and the earth, and the earth had no other choice than to obey the voice of its Creator.

People can and will continue to tell "the universe" what they want or need, but that would be like me sitting under a tree telling the tree what I want and expecting the tree to react somehow.  It is the Creator who is over the creation.  It is the potter who is over the clay (Romans 9).  John Piper is quoted as saying, "All that looks like reality to us is dependent on God.  There is creation and Creator, nothing more.  And creation gets all of its meaning and purpose from God."

So, I am sure the world will continue to use words such as the universe or Mother Nature which celebrate the created, but I will choose and will teach my kids to worship God alone, the Creator, who made it all. 

“I am the Lord; that is my name!  I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to the idols.” Isaiah 42:8

Blessings, Andrea

Copyright 2017

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sour Cream Chicken Casserole

This is a recipe I have had for a long time.  It may be even older than I am.  It just proves, in my mind, that this recipe has stood the test of time.  I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does.

Sour Cream Chicken Casserole

4 split chicken breasts
1 8oz sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tube of butter flavored crackers (I use Ritz.)
4 tablespoons of butter, melted

Place thawed chicken breasts in a large dutch oven filled 2/3 of the way full with water.  Sprinkle water with garlic powder, salt, pepper, poultry seasonings or any other seasonings, to taste.  Boil for one hour or until chicken is falling off of the bones.  Remove chicken meat from bone.  Be careful.  It will be hot!  Discard bones.  Cut or shred by hand chicken and place in the bottom of a 8 x 10 casserole dish.  Mix sour cream and chicken soup together and pour over the chicken.  Crumb crackers and mix with melted butter.  Sprinkle the cracker mixture on top of the chicken mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

  • To reduce fat, use reduced-fat butter flavored crackers or reduced-fat sour cream.
  • You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts.  This is quicker, but you will lose flavor and tenderness which comes from the bone.

Enjoy, Andrea
Copyright 2017