Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Truth in Love


I know it might seem odd but my most read section of Scripture, other than the Psalms, is the Book of Revelation.  Specifically, the Letters to the Churches.  They have fascinated me for a long time.

Imagine that Jesus is telling us (those words are in red, you know) what is good about each of these churches and for most of them... "this is what I have against you".  Yikes!  So wouldn't it be a good thing to read what He likes and what He does not?

This past week, I was reading my Bible... the large print Modern English Version I've been using since the whole eye episode began... when I wandered over to that well read section again.  I felt that is where the Lord was leading.  Isn't it amazing how you can read the same passages over and over (and over) again and still see something new?  That is what happened this week.

I've always read about the things Jesus commended in the Church of Ephesus and thought it a very good list.  The kind of works one can admire in the conservative Churches today.  Things like: you cannot bear those who are evil, you test those who say they are apostles but are not, you have endured and have been patient, and for Jesus sake you have labored and not grown weary."  Good stuff, right?

That is what I have always read and nodded my head in agreement.  This time something was different and I am certain it was because of where my own prayers have been recently.  This time I noticed the "yes but" of the Letter.   The "this I have against you" part of it... and I was astounded I hadn't noticed it before.

"This I have against  you... that you have left your first love (or "abandoned the love you had at first" in the MEV).  Hmmmm... what does it mean?  So I looked up a couple Study Bibles and commentaries on my husband's section of the Study's book shelf and found that most believe it meant that they have left their original love for Jesus and for each other while others thought it was mainly their love for each other.

One of the commentaries I looked up said the Church of Ephesus was the "gatekeeper of truth".  In a city of a quarter million people, where many cults existed, not to mention the center of Diana worship... it is easy to see how the Christians in Ephesus could see standing for Truth as their main concern.

However, truth began to be more important than loving others... and that is why God had sent me to these passages.  For I had been in prayer about a couple of acquaintances I knew on Instagram.  One that I know is very into the New Age and the other a very liberal Christian who leans toward the  New Age.

I have felt guilty because I commented back and forth with them, both women I have many things in common with, and wondered if I should say anything about their beliefs.  My "Gibb's gut" reaction was that I was to remain silent and pray for them.  Care for them. My early evangelical training resisted.  That is when I asked the Master apologist and He led me to this section of Scripture.

For you see, cheap grace really bothers me.  I get concerned about the many books and sermons by people who preach cheap grace without the real grace of God's forgiveness of our sins.  One is only a shadow of the much greater Truth.

However, I have seen what legalism does for my mother left the faith of her youth and while I believe she came back to Christ eventually, she never found peace in Christ.  For to her the faith was a list of rules and regulations which she could never live up to.  Rules without love are just as deadly as grace without Truth.

God reminded me that some are to plant seed and others are to harvest when the seed becomes mature.  My role in the lives of these women is to be a friend who is a more orthodox Christian than either would choose to be around in real life.  But thanks to the world wide web, we can forge a friendship online over those areas where there is a mutual agreement.

This whole biting my tongue and just loving people thing is different than the work He gave me in my youth.  I'm not sure... maybe it is a whole getting older kind of thing.  People don't need grandmothers to shout Truth, they just need them to love them.

I think that is why the Holy Spirit, my Teacher of the Word, led me once again to what God likes and does not like in the Church.  For while they are commended for standing up for Truth and against Evil... they began to do it with a lack of love.  That makes all the difference in the world.

So unless He tells me otherwise, I will plant seeds of love in the lives of these women and let someone else will... at the proper time and place He ordains... harvest with the Truth of God's Word.  When each person is ready.  Never compromising my own beliefs in the process but not feeling I have to preach Truth when that is not my role at the time.

Only God knows the heart of men (and women) and He will tell us when there is an opportunity to speak.  That is why He tells us to be ready in good time with the Gospel.  We study and learn so He can bring someone across our path when they are ready to hear the Gospel of Jesus. 

You may be the person who people will remember as the Christian who baked cookies, served them hot soup on a cold day, listened when they needed a friend, and was a safe harbor in the storm.  The person they will remember when... in a foreign city... they need a refuge and look for a building with a cross or they remember there is a Christian student in the dorm room next door.

You were the person whose actions spoke louder than any words.  So if you are more comfortable sharing a meal instead of memorizing the Four Spiritual Laws... that is the way God gifted you... and that is good.  You plant the seeds and pray and someday they will be harvested.

Then again... knowing God and how He likes to stretch us and all... you just may be surprised to find yourself having coffee with a friend someday and have them tell you they have been considering this God of yours and how does one come to know Him?  Then it is  your time to harvest the seeds someone else has nourished for years.

Scripture: Revelation 2: 1-7

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - What is an emergency pantry?


Today's post is getting in just under the Saturday deadline.  We had friends drop by just as I was going to write earlier.  Then there was one thing after another and... here it is early evening.  So I'll make it quick just to get it in today.

As for my eyes, they are a little better but I still cannot read out of my right eye.  The steroid eye drops were stopped on Wednesday night and that came with its' own side affects.  So we will see what happens.  I'm praying for a good report when I see my retinal specialist nest week.  In the meantime, excuse any typos please.

I've been asked what is the difference between a regular pantry and an emergency pantry.  Well, in a lot of ways they overlap.  The regular pantry is the heart of the kitchen as it is where the food is stocked up (especially on sale) that you need for your everyday food preparations.

It may also hold extras of other basics you need such as coffee filters, paper towels, etc.  I have a very basic (and not very deep) pantry for meals, a baking pantry in the yellow vintage cabinet, and I have had a cold & flu pantry set aside in a Rubbermaid style container.

I consider extra paper products, dish washing soap, liquid hand soap (I wash my hands a lot when cooking it seems), disposable plates, kitty food, and such... all a part of the pantry.  Some families would include items like disposable diapers, hygiene supplies, etc..

The basis for my pantry is what I need to have on hand to prepare meals, do some baking, and take care of the house.  It is mostly the same all year but there are some seasonal items.

An emergency pantry is what I have on hand given circumstances when it won't be possible to go to the store... from a possible snowstorm to TEOTWAWKI (which no one can really prepare for).

Part of my regular pantry would be utilized in such an emergency.  All of it if there is power or an alternative way to cook.  Some things I keep on hand for emergencies assume there is no way to cook other than building a fire outside or on the grill.  Since I live in the country, that is an option.  Hopefully not in January.

Items I have on hand for an emergency situation would have little need in normal times unless I choose to use them.  For instance, I have oil lamps that are essential in an emergency but just nice to have in the darker months of the year.  I have a NOAA weather radio that can be used as a... radio.

I have a very good Berky water filter that we did use when we didn't have a built in under the sink filter.  It was purchased in the 1990s so when I had a little extra money last year, I used it to replace the old filters.  I could have done a whole lot of things with the money but having the new filters gives us a practically new water filter to use... just in case.

I keep food such as granola bars in a small bug out bag (which really needs attention), as well as in my purse and in the glove compartment of the car.  High blood sugar is not good but low blood sugar can kill you.  I've been close before so I may be more than a little paranoid about the subject of snacks.

Where you live will also make a difference as to your emergency pantry.  Where I live, chances are high that any emergency would require staying home.  If you live near a fault line or in an area that has seen floods or wildfires before, you need to add very well prepared bug out bags for each of your family and pets.

Your age and circumstances make a difference, too.  There are only two of us at home now (well, three if you count the one with fur) so both pantries are different than they once were.  Thanks to her fairy godmother, Florie has her own pantry.  ;)

For an emergency pantry, I'm trying to collect Mountain House pouches again to have on hand since they have a long shelf life and are easy to use.  But their prices have increased a lot.  All emergency type food costs have increased.  I guess I can't be surprised when it seems like the world has gone crazy.

Honestly, entire books are written about the subject of an emergency pantry but I think that answers the question.  Regular pantry... regular life.  Emergency pantry... what you are in an emergency situation such as bad weather in your area or when transportation is shut down even when the emergency is not local.

We can't prepare for everything.  Most of us have neither the space nor the finances to do so.  But it is far better to have some rice and beans put in a Tupperware style container than nothing at all.  So often we do nothing because we cannot do everything.  That is human nature.  Not smart but still human.

Thank you to everyone who enters Amazon through a link or widget.  I hope you can see the widget on the sidebar.  Some people cannot see it and I haven't a clue why.  There are only two items showing at any given time.  When I see better, I will try to come up with a better widget.

Mentioned in this Post
Mountain House six pack of pouches... here.  This is the chicken and dumplings, one of the dinners I really liked when I tried it. I did some research and found by buying a box of one type of item at a time, the price is still what it used to be.  It isn't as fun as buying one pouch of a few different breakfasts or dinners to try but the way to go on a budget.  Their products also come in a #10 can.

I've heard Auguson Farms is really good, too.  They make most of the products available through Jim Bakker's website.  Unlike Mountain House, which was originally packaged for hikers and backpackers, Auguson Farms is a true preparedness product. 

I hear their blueberry pancakes mix is delicious... here.  It would be a fairly inexpensive long term storage product to put back.  I have not tried any of their products.

Big Berky has long been considered the granddaddy of the water filters.  It was a pricey purchase back when my husband was still working in the 1990s but it got a lot of use and two new filters practically make it new again.   Info... here.  There are good smaller filters that I have not tried.

Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Image: USA Today

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Between Prayers Asked and Prayers Answered


"I don't like the look of this eye."  That is what my eye specialist said to me this past week as he was looking at the photo of the inside of my retina.  It was not what I wanted to hear for my vision had cleared a little so I was hoping that meant a full recovery soon.

As I was sitting in the chair with all the modern equipment surrounding it, my thoughts went back 2,000 years to when Jesus healed the blind man but the first attempt left him seeing people looking like trees and total healing came on the second attempt.  My right eye is a little like that first attempt as I can see shadows, colors, etc. but I still cannot see details. 

I think we spend a lot of our life between that time of prayers asked and prayers answered.  The old timers often called it "God's waiting room".  Been there.  Set up housekeeping there at one time.  I'm certain those are the same magazines from ten years ago.

When I was a young Christian, a popular teaching was that one should ask God only once for anything or it would be a lack of faith.  I soon learned that is ridiculous and not at all Biblical.  The Bible is full of His people asking Him over and over again.  Even Jesus talked about the unrighteous judge and how the widow finally wore him down to answer her request.

God is far from being like that judge.  He not only loves us but He is love incarnate.  Because He made us, He also knows just how we learn and how we grow and how we know Him better. 

Unlike the unrighteous judge, God in His infinite wisdom lets us wait not because He is a cranky unwilling ruler but we wait because He knows it is in the process of waiting that we grow in our faith.

Faith is like a muscle and the more it is used, the stronger it gets.  Which is why you rarely find a child with great faith (although they can have great hope) but many of His people who are now elderly, who have walked with Him and never gave into bitterness, who never stopped trusting Him... they have the faith of giants.

For they have been there and walked through the valley of the shadow of death with Him.  They have prayed in their next meal and the gas money needed to get to work.  They have sat beside a child all night with a raging fever and placed cold compresses on their forehead and watched as the fever reduced and the prayer was answered.

For every person of great faith, there are those who gave up way too soon.  Who became angry with God (not temporarily as most of us do but forever and ever), who became weary in the battle, who failed because they did not run to the Lord when they were weak but instead listened to the voice of the enemy.

God did not answer their prayer in their time period or as they had asked.  Sometimes God makes us wait but sometimes His answer is... no.  He has something else for you and while you may not understand this side of Eternity, He always has your best in each answer.

The Bible tells us all kinds of stories of prayers asked long before prayers were answered.  Daniel was told by Michael, the archangel, that his answer was delayed by spiritual warfare with the Prince of Persia. 

We know Martha and Mary were more than a little peeved with Jesus because he didn't show up before Lazarus died but Jesus knew their prayers would still be answered... only in a miraculous way that would make the pages of His Book!

Much of the time in God's Word and in human history, there is a time between asking and receiving that was due to God's timing or His ultimate plan for each person.  These are the times in our own lives where we can look back and often see God's weaving together of circumstances.

Since it seems we rarely have just one opportunity to trust God at any given time of our life... and quite often multiple trials no matter now small surround us... we will most likely be in that state between asking and receiving the rest of our life.  How we choose to walk during that time will determine the kind of person we become and how others will view our walk with Christ.

As for me and this trial, I'm still praying for a full recovery of sight in that eye.  Whether it comes through medicine or the miraculous, I don't care.  I just desire it very much.  In the meantime, I'm doing the best I can to read and blog and cook and clean, etc.  Soon I'll share a funny story about cooking with blurred vision.

There is one book that I'm working my way through right now, a little at a time, stopping when my head hurts from eye strain.  That is my friend, Sally Clarkson's, new book called The Life Giving Table.  I love love love this book.  It even has lots of good recipes.  I will be writing a full in depth review soon but I'm including the pre-order link today.  It is worth my taking a couple of Excedrin to read. 

Once again, I've proofread as much as possible, please forgive unseen typos.  Blogging right now is doing the best I can even if that is far from perfect.  :)

Mentioned in This Post
The Life Giving Table: Nurturing Faith through Feasting One Meal at a Time, info... here.

Scripture: Mark 8:22-25, Daniel 10: 12-14, John 11:20-44

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  I thank you.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - After the Storms


My eyesight is a little better, not great but good enough to write a blog post.  Today I want to write about some lessons I took away from Harvey and Irma. Just ponderings off the top of my head.

Like a lot of people, I had the Weather Channel on to watch the progression of both storms.  What I found most interesting were the interviews from people once the storms had passed.  There were so many stories!

I've written about how supplies of food and other products have been affected by events in other parts of the country before.  That was very evident in Florida when grocery store shelves were emptied in Northern Florida days before the storm was to hit and... at the time... not thought to be impacted as heavily as the Southeastern part of the State.

On one hand, that is a good thing because people took the storm seriously.  On the other, it is a reminder that we should always be stocked at least a little with the basics we need.  Most events that happen to us are not tracked in the Atlantic for a week and they do not have to happen in our own backyard to affect transportation.

I have found it a good thing to have an emergency grocery list on hand.  While I try to keep the pantry stocked, it is never completely full.  Such a list allows one to go to the store quickly and come away with what is needed.  It avoids impulse purchases (kind of) and helps keep my budget on track.

The emergency list can also be used as an essential pantry list if one considers the refrigerator and freeze a part of their pantry as I do.  The priorities may change if I know a storm of any kind is approaching. For instance, I will concentrate more on food that does not need to be cooked if there is a chance the power will go out. 

It doesn't take much money or space to keep an extra loaf (or more for bigger families) of bread in the freezer.  Whether store bought or homemade, bread and shelf stable ingredients for a sandwich will be a huge blessing should one not get out of the house for awhile.

Not only sandwich bread but quick breads can be prepared ahead of time and frozen for snacks and meals that do not need to be cooked.  Should the power go out, quick breads will last for awhile out of the freezer.  They are also excellent gifts for neighbors needing something to feed the body as well as the soul.

My orange cranberry bread recipe and my Amish pumpkin chocolate chip recipe have been doubled long ago.  Even with the kids grown and in their own homes, I still make the entire recipe so one can go in the freezer.  These breads are easy to make and when you bake your own, you know what ingredients go into them.

I do buy crackers although they don't store well, especially in humidity.  However, I always try to have Ritz crackers and Triscuits on hand, as well as saltine crackers in Winter (the best I think for flu).  If I know a storm is expected, I purchase an extra large box of crackers as they can be used in place of bread when it runs out.  Soft taco and burrito shells have a long shelf life and are perfect for sandwiches, too.

There are so many food items that do not need to be cooked.  From nuts and dried fruit to fresh fruit to canned fruit (especially helpful if it has a flip top lid).  Vegetables like carrots and celery can be kept without refrigeration awhile.

This is when having a large package of paper plates, bowls, cups, etc. will be worth their weight in gold as well as extra trash bags.  I learned when we had to turn our water off for two weeks that the cheap paper plates were actually the best.  If we just had a sandwich on them, the top plate could often be removed and the next layer used again (they often stick together with more than one plate).

The people in Houston didn't have quite as long to prepare so an emergency pantry would have been a life saver for some and at the least make life easier for others.  Of course, for the homes completely flooded then no amount of preparation would help except for having a bug out bag with food and important documents and a pet carrier ready.

What I heard about quite often was how the supply trucks could not get into the Houston area to resupply grocery stores NOT IN FLOODED AREAS because of impassible roads.  We live in the country and while not far from town, far enough that winter storms keep us on our own for awhile.

My husband told me of a news story he found amusing and I thought it quite a lesson for people.  A father had just rescued one of his daughters from her home and was taking her to her parent's house.  He was on the way to rescue another daughter.  It wasn't that their places were flooded but neither had food or water in the house.  He told the reporter that he has been telling them since childhood to prepare for emergencies and they didn't listen to him.  He hopes this taught them a lesson.   A very wise father.

I know this is not extensive or anything but once again, just off the top of my head thinking.  There is so much to learn from these storms and so many things going on in our country and around the world.  We need to be taking being prepared for emergency situations seriously.

Mentioned in this Post
My two quick bread recipes can be found... here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Russia Rising: Tracking the Bear in Bible Prophecy, a review


As soon as I heard about this book, I was interested in reading it.  I have come to appreciate Mark Hitchcock's teaching over the years and this book did not let me down.

With Russia in the news once again, Mark tackles of the issue of where that country stands in light of end times prophecies.  Although he writes from a pre-tribulation rapture perspective, I think anyone could appreciate the information about Russia in general and Putin as its' leader.

The Chapters are:
  1. There is a Bear in the Woods
  2. The Final Game of Thrones 
  3. Is Russia really in the Bible?
  4. Ezekiel's Prophetic Intelligence Briefing
  5. Triple Threat: Russia, Iran, and Turkey
  6. Vladimir Putin, Rising Czar
  7. Red Dawn, The War of Gog and Magog
  8. How Close Are We?
  9. What Does the Future Hold?
  10. It's Always Soon
Appendix 1; Ezekiel 38-39

Appendix 2: The King of the North: The Northern Confederacy by Dr. John Walvoord

Appendix 3: Common Questions Related to Russia, the Middle East, and the End of Days

People who like to read about prophetic end time events will welcome this book for the detail and the variety of possible scenarios the author provides.  I think it would be appreciated by any Christian who is interested in where Russia may be found in the Bible. Very interesting!

Russia Rising was provided by Tyndale House for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information can be found at Amazon.com... here.
Author's Goodreads page is... here.
Title's Goodreads page is... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Working through the challenges


I'm a little better but I still cannot see clearly, neither can I read regular books. Seeing through my right eye is like looking through heavy gauze.  I can now see shapes and light gets through, a hope of an eventual return to normal.  

So I decided since this recovery is taking longer than expected, to tackle it for what it is... a distraction from what God has called me to do.  I'm using every trick in the book.  For instance, I set the font higher in my browser and while doing this I found a teeny tiny sentence asking me to set what I wanted as the smallest font online.

I've set and reset options for years and I don't recall seeing that.  Probably because I didn't need it.  Who knew?  But I changed it from the absurdly small font it accepted and behold, it works on almost every site.  My email account was set to a larger font to see easier, as well as Facebook. 

This year has had a variety of health issues that are all part of developing Juvenile Diabetes long ago. However, I am blessed with a good physician and retinal specialist. Not to mention the Great Physician. I'll be seeing the specialist again next week to check the progress of the right eye.

I learned long ago not to waste a trial and this past week, as I listened to a sermon on TV (cannot remember which one), the pastor reiterated that God redeems our trials if we ask for wisdom. I've been asking!

So I continue to ask for complete healing so my eyesight returns.  By changing to a larger font, I can write once in awhile here.  However, the light of the screen still hurts so I can't promise regular posts until further healing is manifested.

I am late for one book review and another is coming up very soon.  We will do the best we can to get them posted.  Thank you for your prayers.  (Sorry for any typos.)

Image:  When the azaleas were blooming.  Lovely.