Job

A Blessing of Preparation


Job 26:1-30:31

“God has loosed my cord and humbled me,” Job 30:11

My friends, so much has happened in so little amount of time that I haven’t had time to write it all down, as much as I would have liked to have. Please be praying for me and everything that God has in store for us. Right now He is working mightily in me and I imagine it’s safe to assume that He is doing the same for you as well.

There is so much I’d like to share with you at this time, and so little time in which to share it. Plus, I don’t believe that it’s time to share quite yet.

So I guess for the time being, just know that I’m thinking of you, praying for you and your strength, and preparing something amazing for you.

May God bless you with a prepared heart to receive, an open mind to learn and open ears to hear. May the Grace of Jesus overtake you this very day in such an overwhelming magnitude that you are brought to your knees in gratitude. May the love of Christ compel you in all your ways and may your knowledge of Him abound all the more because of it. In Jesus’ name; Amen!

Categories: 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Job, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

A House Safe from FEAR


Job 21:1-25:6

“Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them.” Job 21:9

My friends, can you image a place like that? A place that is set so far above Fear that it literally can not be touched. A house that is so set apart that it is unaffected by Fear and all of his counterparts. It makes me think of the 23rd Psalm,

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

A while back I was watching a show with my kids about sheep. It was a show where the kids in the show got to be shepherds for a day and spent the show learning things about the sheep. One of the things that the shepherd said to them, I doubt I will ever forget. He handed one of the kids a shepherd’s crook and then immediately followed it with, “Do NOT hit the sheep. We never use the crook to hit the sheep. We use it to point them in the direction we want them to go.” Then he called to his sheep dogs and told the child to point the crook toward the shed where they were trying to herd the sheep. And the sheep went toward the shed. They had heard their shepherd’s call and they had seen his rod pointing in the direction he wanted them to go (which conveniently was away from the dogs that were chasing them).

In today’s Word of the Day, the scripture I pulled out is something that Job was saying about people who don’t follow God. He was commenting on how, it seemed to him, that even though they didn’t follow God their house was safe from fear even though God’s rod of direction wasn’t on them. So often we can look at others outside the faith and see their wealth and possessions. We can see their seemingly absence of trouble in life and think that they’ve got it made. But we have to remember that there are always things that we simply can not see. We can’t see inside their hearts, but God can; and does. We may be able to look at those people and think, “He’s not afraid of anything”. But the truth may be that he’s actually afraid of everything.

This doesn’t have to be the case for those who see God as their Shepherd in life. His rod and His staff can comfort us.

In addition to using the Shepherd’s crook as a way to direct the sheep, the crook is also used to defend and safe the sheep. It was often used to ward off wild animals who had come to attack the sheep. As well as using the crook itself for keeping the sheep in line and away from danger altogether. The shepherd could use the crook to hook a sheep that had fallen into a pit and lift him out.

Our Good Shepherd uses His rod and staff to comfort us, to lift us up from the pit of doubt and fear. He uses it to direct our steps and deliver us from evil. He uses it to lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He is Jesus, the house of the LORD that is safe from FEAR. And you can dwell in Him all the days of your life.

Categories: 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Job, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

Deliver Us from Evil


Job 11:1-15:35

“Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” Job 11:6

I don’t think any greater understatement has ever been spoken!

In Matthew 6:11-13 Jesus tells us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

That word “deliver”, in the Greek is the word “rhoumai” and it means to rush or draw to oneself in salvation or deliverance. This word finds its origin in two words: “rheo” which refers to a rushing flow as in water & “rhusis” which refers to a flow as in blood. What a beautiful word!

Lord, evil surrounds us on all sides, in every way, please give us that daily bread of Jesus on the cross that reminds us of your mercies morning by morning. Yours The kind of mercy that decided to forgive us in the garden and provided the means of that forgiveness at the cross before we were even born. Help us to accept and receive your amazingly generous gift of forgiveness day by day, moment by moment. Help us to pick it up from the earth and wield it like the weapon it was created to be. Help us to swing that sword of the Spirit against the Enemy, the accuser of the brethren. DELIVER us from his evil, keep us far away from his temptations by helping us focus not on the problems, but on Your faithfulness. It is our shield and rampart in times of trouble. (Psalm 91)

Thank You Lord that You are the GOOD SHEPHERD and You don’t lead your flock into dangerous situations unless absolutely necessarily. I thank You that it is in those times of danger as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death that we will fear no evil because Your rod and Your staff will be a comfort to us. You are our defender. We are but weak sheep who don’t know any better. Help us to better tune our ears to hear Your voice, O Good Shepherd. Help us to follow Your feet through the darkness of night as the dew settles on the grass preparing to sweeten it for the morning munching.

You are good, help us to SEE Your goodness, right here in the land of the living, while it is still called TODAY! Help us to lay down and sleep IN PEACE because You alone, O LORD, make us dwell in safety. Help us to be still and know that YOU alone are God. Help us to remember the words of Moses to the Israelites in the moments before You parted the Red Sea. “The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14) You have plans for us, and they are for our good and not our harm. Help us to focus on those plans; Your plans and not our own. Although the man plans the way, the LORD guides his steps. I call on that today LORD. Help us to remember who it is that guides our steps. Help us to see Your footprints in the sand during this time Father God. Help us to remember that we are NOT alone in this mess of a time. You have promised never to leave us or forsake us, and Your word never comes back void. You are incapable of lying so that means that You MUST be with us, not matter how alone the Devil tries to make us feel. You are good and you are not only just, but our JUSTIFIER. You’re not just the judge, you’re the attorney too. Thank You for everything that you do for us Lord. Thank You for pouring Your love out on us in such abundance that it puddles up in the streets like that water that collects after a day filled with rain clouds.

You cloak yourself in darkness to hide Your glory. You led the Israelites through the desert in a cloud by day and fire by night. Lord, I KNOW that You are cloaked in this darkness… somewhere, You are the silver lining to every cloud. You are the light in every fire. You are there, and I will find You. I will seek you with all my heart and I will find You. I will call to You and Your word in Jeremiah 33:3 tells me that You will answer me and tell me great and unsearchable things that I do not know.

Oh Jesus thank You for not leaving me abandoned in this hopeless place and time. Thank You for using people along the way to make sure that Your words were not just preserved, but made public! Thank You for using regular people to make sure that we today would have Bibles on our phones and in our pockets! Help us to remember what a tremendous blessing that is. Help us to remember that there are some places in this world right now that to have that Bible in their possession would mean a prison sentence, or death. We are so privileged to have the Bibles that we have, help us to remember that and to READ THEM!!!!!

Your word is the bread of life, give to us to eat from it fresh morning by morning. I pray that You will waken our ears to hear You calling us early in the morning to rise and shine our light into this dark world but first rising and allowing Your light to shine on us through Your Word. Lord, Your presence is such a gift, help us to never take it for granted.

In Jesus name I pray,

Amen!

Categories: 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Job, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

Bright and Morning Star


Job 6:1-10:22

“What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment?” Job 7:17-18

I latched onto this verse today like a nursing baby to its mother after a long night. GOD, the God of the universe, the creator of ALL things, GOD visits us EVERY morning. Is that not the most beautiful Truth? Drink deep from its nourishment and hope. Warm yourself with the comfort of this TRUTH. Jesus comes to visit you EVERY morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23 reads “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

His faithfulness IS great! But when life starts to get messy it’s all too easy to forget how Awesome He is. We forget to remember the million and one things He’s done for us lately and focus on the one thing He doesn’t seem to be acting on today. We sink our teeth into that one thing and forsake all the rest. It kind of reminds me of a specific tree in a specific garden that has become the symbol of humanity’s downfall over the years. We had permission to eat from ANY tree in the entire world. The whole WORLD! That’s a LOT of trees my friend. Yet there was only one tree that Adam and Eve found themselves standing right next to and eyeing the fruit.

There is a whole world of trees out there that are pleasing to the eye and good for food, let’s try focusing on one of them instead of this tree that Satan keeps calling you over to. And he does. He beacons like a siren; calling you to come and focus your attention on one thing. It’s the one thing that God wants you to forget and stay away from; your sinful imperfection.

“As far as the east is from the west”; is how far you have been separated from your sins. Did you know that if you start going north and keep going north, once you get to the North Pole the only direction you can go is south? But if you start going east, no matter how far you go you will NEVER reach a point where you will be forced to go west. The east is so far separated from the west that no matter how far east you go you will never reach west. How far you’ve been separated from your sins? So far that no matter how far you go to try and find them again, you never will.

God says in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

Tell me, if God doesn’t remember our sins anymore, should we? If God has forgiven us of our sins, shouldn’t we also forgive ourselves? If God isn’t holding them against us, then why are we holding them against ourselves (or others for that matter)?

In Exodus 16 God rained down manna on the Israelites. Each and every single morning (except the Sabbath) they would wake up, put their shoes on, and go out to their back yard to pick up the food that God had rained down for them during the night. Every day, for forty years He did this for them.

And on those Sabbath days when there was no manna to collect, it wasn’t because they had been disobedient, it was because God didn’t want them to have to go out and even bend over to pick it up! He wanted them to REST on those days. So the day before the Sabbath they were to collect twice as much and keep it over the Sabbath. And it never went bad on those Sabbath days either.

Well, in John 6:31-35 it says, “‘Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’

Jesus said to them, “‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'”

Jesus is the daily bread, the manna from heaven. His death on the cross is to be gathered and eaten up each day; mourning by mourning. “Sufficient for today is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34) We needn’t dwell on tomorrow’s possibilities and troubles; they aren’t here yet and may never arrive – God willing.

Today, right now, there is something in your life that God has given you to cause you JOY unspeakable. Something that no matter how hard the Thief tries to steal it, he will never be able to wrangle it away from you. It’s Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Right now, if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have access to God Almighty through the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer – USE IT!

Categories: 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Job, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | 2 Comments

Received by Faith


Job 1:1-5:27

Ahhhhhh…… I love that new book smell! And it’s funny because so often people talk about the book of Job and how much he suffers. But they miss the whole point of the story! The book of Job isn’t about Job, just like the book of John isn’t about John. Every book in this Bible is about Jesus. They all either point forward toward Him or backward to what He did in His ministry and on the cross or forward to what He is doing now and in the future. The book of Job is no different.

Here in the opening chapter of Job we’re introduced to Job and his astounding wealth and prosperity. We’re told that he is “the greatest of all the people of the east”. (Job 1:3) Next we find God holding a heavenly counsel, to which Satan is in attendance. And at some point in this soiree Satan sidles up to God and strikes up a conversation with Him. God asks Satan, “So whatcha been up to lately?”

To which the Accuser of the brethren replies, “Eh, you know, the same old, same old. I’ve been here, there and everywhere; just doin’ what I do.”

With His thumbs stuck proudly under the hems of His robe at His chest God said, “Mmmm…. HEY! Have you seen my man Job lately? Boy that’s a guy I’m awfully proud of. There’s nobody like HIM in all the earth. He’s a real stand up kind of guy that Job. And boy does he hate you.”

“Well sure he loves You! You’ve given him everything a man could ever want; ten kids, all the livestock he could ever need and more, servants to care for his every wish. You’ve got such a high hedge of protection around him that he has no reason NOT to love You. I bet if you took that hedge of protection away and let me at him for a few days he would curse you and spit in your face.”

At this God rubbed His long white beard as He considered the merit of what Satan was saying, he might have a point… and not just the ones on the top of his head.

“Alright,” God said, “I’ll take you up on that bet. Everything he has is in your hands now. But you are NOT allowed to touch him.”

Satan swirled around in his haste to set his plot against Job into action. He knew that if he hit just the right buttons he would be able to get Job to turn away from God. And by the end of chapter one we find Job’s servants coming to him one right on the heels of the other. “The oxen and donkeys and the servants watching them have all been killed except for me.” As the first servant was finishing his report the next one came, “Lightning just struck all the sheep and your servants! They’re all fried crispy but me!” Then the next servant came and reported, “Master, the Chaldeans just surrounded your camels and servants in the fields! It was a massacre! I’m the only one left!” And just when Job had to be thinking, “Dear God, please, no more!” The final servant came to him and breathlessly reported, “A tornado just hit the house where ALL your children were having a party! The house collapsed and killed every single one of them; I’m the only one that survived!”

THAT, my friends, is a bad day.

In a matter of a few simple hours Job literally lost everything but his house, his wife, his life and four servants. Just this should make your day seem at least a LITTLE better. But it’s what happens next that absolutely blows my mind. After all these reports what is Job’s reaction? He worships.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

Honestly, I don’t know how in the world he did it.

Now I need to tell you another man’s story of Satan working in his life. I think his reaction we’ll be able to relate to a little more readily; at least I know I can anyway. He had a very different reaction than Job did. Come with me to the Last Supper and I’ll tell you the story of Peter.

(Luke 22:31-34) “‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you, both to prison and to death.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know Me.'”

Later that night Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and the soldiers,

“seized Him and led Him away, bringing Him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together. Peter sat down among them.” (Luke 22:54-55) “And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, ‘You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I neither know nor understand what you mean.’ And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders. ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’ And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” (Mark 14:66-72)

Here we have the stories of two men; both good upright men being “sifted” (as Jesus puts it) by Satan. One of them boasts in the LORD and His provision and protection and when he has been sifted he continues boasting in the LORD. The second man boasts in his own love and loyalty toward the Lord Jesus. He boasts that even though Jesus tells him that he will deny even knowing Him, Peter adamantly sticks to his guns professing that even if everyone else runs away and hides in fear, he won’t. He promises that even if everyone else denies Jesus, He won’t. Yet when the time comes, He may have been the only one to follow Jesus to the high priest’s house, but he was also the only one even tempted with denying knowing Jesus.

When I read Peter’s story this time I found it quite interesting that it’s a rooster crowing that signals the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic statement of Peter’s denial. It was Peter that was “crowing” about his love and loyalty to Jesus just a few hours earlier. I’d never noticed that before.

Like I said, Peter’s story is an all too familiar one for us, myself oh so included. All too often we crow about our accomplishments to make ourselves look good in front of others, or to make us feel good about ourselves. But that’s not where our identity and safety are found. They’re not found in our generous wealth, or the abundance of our friends, or the amount of our paycheck. Our identity and safety are found in the LORD alone.

For all of us who have fallen short of the glory of God I think we need to finish Peter’s story and receive some hope for the future.

(John 21:1517) “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’

He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’

He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said it to him a third time. ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep,”

At the Last Supper Jesus alerts Peter to the coming danger of Satan sifting him like wheat and then foretells of Peter’s denial of even knowing Jesus. How many times did Jesus say Peter would deny Him? Three.

In the courtyard next to the warm glow of the fire, how many times did Peter actually deny knowing Jesus? Three, and the third time it was even with curses!

On the sea shore after breakfast how many times did Jesus ask Peter if he loved Him? Three.

My friends, this passage is so lacking when it is translated into English!!! So allow me, if you will, a few extra moments to pack in the extra punch that the original Greek contains. There’s a secret play on words that is hidden in the English that is plain as day in the Greek. There are two different words here that have been translated into “love”. There’s “agape”, which is the kind of love that only God can give. It’s a deep relationship and intimacy that has a one-sided generosity without ANY expectation of repayment. And then there’s “philos”. This kind of love is a deep emotional attachment that comes with a deep and abiding friendship. If we were to look back at their conversation in “Greek-lish” it would look more like this.

Jesus said, “Simon, son of John, do you agape Me more than these?”

Peter said to Him, “Yes Lord, you know that I philos you.”

Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.

Simon, son of John, do you agape Me?”

Peter said, “Yes Lord, you know that I philos You.”

And Jesus said, “Tend My sheep.

Simon, son of John, do you philos Me?”

And Peter, grieved, said, “Lord, You know everything, You know that I philos You.”

To which Jesus replied a third time, “Feed My sheep.”

In Peter’s confession of his own faithfulness, he was crowing about his agape for Jesus. In Jesus’ questioning of Peter’s agape for Him, Jesus was calling Peter to come to terms with his humanity. As humans we aren’t capable of giving agape, only receiving it.

In Peter’s reply to Jesus questioning him THREE times about his love for Him, we see Peter’s heart break on the third time through the process. The first two were to humble him and remind him that his betray was proof of his lack of agape love for Jesus. On the third time through the questioning Jesus comes down to Peter’s level which emphasizes His acceptance of this level of love for Him. “Do you philos Me?” And with a sigh Peter responds, “You know EVERYTHING”.

Jesus KNOWS that we aren’t capable of agape love. He knows that as humans we can do our best to attempt the kind of love towards God that doesn’t expect anything in return, but at some point we will always fall short of the glory of God because we simply were not made to be gods. We were made to be justified by HIS grace. It’s a GIFT and should be received as such. An agape gift where He has given IT with no expectation of repayment; because honestly, He knows that there is absolutely no possible way for us TO repay Him for it. That’s agape! Not that we loved Him. But that He first loved us. And while we do our utmost best for our Highness, we will fall short. And that’s OK.

Categories: 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Job, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

Kick Fear to the Curb

I have a confession to make, I’m a scaredy cat. My eyes have been opened to the chains of fear that bind me and often times direct my actions. I fear that I’m not a good enough mom, so I worry and fret. I fear that I’m not a good enough wife so I clean and regret. I fear that I’m not a good enough Christian so I fall and repent. When all the while my kids are screaming “I love you Mommy” (you are a good enough mommy for me). My husband is saying “I love you Baby” (you are a good enough wife for me). And my God is saying “Let My complete love for you through them cast out your fears. (1 John 4:7-21) They love you because I love you. Listen to their love, because it’s My love. Let My love for you erase completely your fear of not being enough. Let My grace be sufficient for you. You are what I made you to be, human, and everything that implies.”

So, this New Year I have decided to conquer my fears. I have decided to take God at His word, literally. My New Year’s Resolution this year is to memorize two scriptures on fear (and not being afraid) every month. This is where I’m asking for your support Sheridan. There is strength in numbers and I’m pretty sure that there is at least one reader out there that would like to kick Fear to the curb with me! How great would it be to kick him clear out of Sheridan altogether?

On the first and third edition of the month I will share my verse on fear with you in my article. You may choose to ignore it, read it, memorize it, whatever, it’s up to you. I will also post a printable color picture card for that verse on my website for you to print out and tape to your mirror, your desk, or your steering wheel for all I care. On the day of the post, if you would like to let me know that you’re memorizing with us, stop by my website and leave a comment on the blog. While you’re there, encourage each other to keep going. We’re in this together! All moms for one, and one for all! I am really looking forward to getting rid of this irrational fear of imperfection and others judgments of it. But I’m even more excited to see what God will do with those of us who live by faith and not fear. So, will you join me? Tell me at www.TamarKnochel.com.

 

I would LOVE to hear your testimony of how God is working in your life! It is through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony that we defeat the Enemy! (Revelations 12:11) So let’s get busy kicking some Enemy tail and share those testimonies!


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Perfect in Weakness

Now, as someone whose picture appears under the headline “Not the Perfect Mom” week after week, I’m sure you can understand how I might be interested in perfection. In fact, I struggle with it constantly. That’s why I made it the name of my column, to remind me that I don’t have to be perfect to find favor in God’s eyes. You see, the concept of perfection haunts me like a bad haircut, it stares me in the face daring me to admit that I am afraid of my imperfections. Well, in order to conquer fears we must first face them and see them for what they really are. So what does it mean to be perfect?

According to Dictonary.com perfect means: 1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type, 2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement, 3. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose.

OK, confrontation time, am I able to conform completely to the ideal type of mom; especially if there IS no ideal type of mom? No, of course I can’t! Can I reach a state of “complete beyond improvement”? Uh… NO! Can I exactly fit a need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose? Sure sometimes. But certainly not for all needs or all purposes!

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says “Concerning this thing (Paul’s thorn in the flesh) I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. What are your weaknesses and how has God’s strength been made perfect in them?

 

If you’d like to share your answer, learn more about me or read more of my writing, visit my website at www.TamarKnochel.com. I would LOVE to hear your testimony of how God is working in your life! It is through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony that we defeat the Enemy! (Revelations 12:11) So let’s get busy kicking some Enemy tail and share those testimonies!

Categories: Job | 2 Comments

Merry CHRISTmas

(The following appears in today’s copy of the Sheridan Reporter)

The holidays abound with many good and joyful things. However, within those festivities can be many unspeakable pains. Family and friends gathering together for a joyous occasion can unthinkingly speak things that are wounding to the spirit and the soul. We can be celebrating Christmas for the first time without that special loved one by our side. Life can be dealing us a devastating blow. Christmas can be hard. But take heart my dear friends, because God is the God of all comfort. The baby in swaddling clothes that we flock to see in the manger is the Prince of Peace; He is Immanuel, which means God with us. The Word of God has proclaimed throughout the entire world to all the people of the world that He will never leave us or forsake us. We may feel as though we have not a friend in this world, no one to whom we can run to and confide. Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth; because we have the God of all truth living inside each and every one of us who have believed with their heart and have been justified and have confessed with their mouth and have been saved. Even when you feel hopeless and alone, you are NEVER truly hopeless and alone, because He is also the God of all hope who is always with you. There is a light, the Light of the world that can not be stopped, a lamp on a stand that can not be put out. There is a savior who overcame this world of darkness and brought with Him light and love and peace and hope and goodness. And He came without honor, He came without crown or robe or even a bed. He came as a babe, humble and helpless, pure and lovely. The Word of God came and couldn’t talk. The One who said “follow me” came and couldn’t walk. He came, and He conquered all our fears.

While the festivities of the holidays bring many emotions and chaos, the reason that we celebrate brings peace and joy. In the midst of the pain that life can, and probably has brought to us all this year. Let us take this season and allow the Light to come and fill us with His peace and joy and love. Let’s let His perfect childlike love cast out our fears of loss, rejection and hardship. There is a new year, a new start, and a new beginning dawning. And it is dawning, not with a ball dropping, but with a child crying out to all the world that Jesus saves. God with us saves! He saves “everyone [who] has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past; for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-26 NLT)

Jesus is the reason for this season. Jesus is the reason for EVERY season. And Jesus is the reason that nothing is impossible with God! Merry CHRISTmas Sheridan! Let your little lights shine!

Categories: Job | 1 Comment

Not the Perfect Mom

(The following appears in today’s copy of the Sheridan Reporter – Yeah, I’m writing for the Sheridan Newspaper now!!!)

I am not the perfect mom. No one is. That’s an illusion that each and every one of the moms I know struggles with. You know, those moms on Pinterest and Facebook that are posting how they’re making their own deodorant and soap and four course meals for their families, they have perfectly behaved children because they know all the answers to child development and rearing. Or how about the ones that are on TV and keep the perfectly clean houses, you do realize they don’t ACTUALLY live in those houses right? I know this may come as a shock to some of you as it did to me, when I tell you that there is no perfect mom… except you.

No, really. You may feel like you do everything wrong, nothing by the book. You may actually buy your own deodorant and soap, go through the drive through for most dinners, and have children that are in constant need of correction. You may even lose your temper with them from time to time and your house may be a disaster area, but you’re still the perfect mom for your family. You see, something that’s taken me a very long time to learn is that I can’t be like those other moms, I know news flash right? The reason why I can’t be like those moms is because they’re not like that either. No mom does all those things, but rather maybe one or two of them. The TV moms, they’re acting in a set. The Pinterest and Facebook moms with blogs about how to make soap and four course dinners… how many have you seen like that? And if they’re spending all that time making dinner, what are their children doing?

I had this unrealistic expectation for myself that I had to do all those things to be a “good mom”. I had to cook every day, clean the house to spotless every day, and be uber crafty at the same time. But the end result was that I was making myself miserable! While I like to cook now and then, I don’t love it and I’m not that great at it. I don’t mind the cleaning, but when I’m screaming at my kids to pick up their socks 24/7 it gets a little old after awhile. And I love to be crafty and make things with my hands, but it’s certainly not my life. I’ve discovered that God gave me my children because He created them to be part of our family. He put them in my care because He knew I would be the perfect mom for them. He knows that I am not the perfect mom, but I am their perfect mom. I know what they like, I know what they don’t like. I know who they are and who they aren’t.

God told me once that what I do for the least of these I do it for Him (Mat. 25:21-46). I ask you, who is less than a child? They can give you nothing, no payment for your service, no recognition for your hours of hard work; they are literally at the bottom of the totem pole. And yet every day when we pack their lunches, wipe their noses, give them countless drinks throughout the day, we are doing those things for Jesus too. When we look into their eyes, we are looking into the face of God, and then kissing it goodnight. God never asked us to be perfect, because He knew we couldn’t do it! God asked us to follow Him in love.

When Jesus died on the cross He “gave up” His spirit (John19:28-30). And at the moment we choose to allow Him to be the leader of our life, we receive the Spirit of Jesus from Him and it lives in our bodies in order to guide and direct our steps. And all we have to do is learn how to follow His gentle leading. And sometimes, it isn’t the way you expect it to be. Sometimes, it isn’t toward that perfect mom image, but rather away from it. I learned that my husband is the only one in my house with the acts of service love language. That means that he receives and gives love the best through acts of service. But to him it’s not critical that I have a homemade meal every night, but rather that I have something edible every night. He doesn’t expect to come home to a spotless house every night, but one that has been filled with love for his children.

I’ve come to realize that as a mom, it is not my job to do everything for my family. However, it is my job to make sure that everything gets done. It’s my job to make sure that my family knows that I love them and that Jesus loves them. It’s my job to be their mom, not the perfect mom.

Categories: Job | 4 Comments

Feel Better Fudge

As you may remember, I spent the entire week last week flat on my back on the couch in pain. My massage therapist, thank You Jesus for her, said that she thought that while I was sick a month ago, I managed to cough a rib out of place causing my back to hurt. And then I decided to move furniture. Siiigh… anyway, yesterday was the one week anniversary of my furniture moving disaster and I decided to celebrate my new ability to stand erect again by making dinner. Except I couldn’t… there were no clean dishes! At first I was angry with the other members of my household that had so lovingly left this pile for me to take care of, when I realized I had done it to myself. At no point did I ask any of them for help with those dishes. And what’s even worse than that, I hadn’t even taught them how to do them in the first place so even if I had asked them for help, they wouldn’t have known how to do it (my way). As I plunged my hands into the first tub of warm sudsy water (our dish washer is broken) it occurred to me that my job as a mother is not to do all the work for my children, but rather teach them how to do the work on their own. My main purpose isn’t to coddle them and shield them from hard work, but rather to introduce them to it gradually as they grow so that when they are old enough they can go out and effectively manage a household of their own, and leave my husband and I to enjoy a nice empty nest! I made a mental note to teach the children how to hand wash dishes in the near future and also have a talk with them about noticing when someone needs help, even when they don’t ask for it, and then giving them that assistance post haste!

Then this morning I got a text from my dear friend Jennifer (Hi Jennifer, I love you!). She has five beautiful girls…all at home, all sick… and so is she. LOVELY! I immediately told her that I was making dinner for their family tonight, AND she immediately turned around and told me not to bother. WELL, if you know me at all, you know how stubborn, I mean… strong-willed, I can be at times and I had decided that I was going to pour out the help for Jennifer that I had not received during my stint in sickness. So, I told her that I would think and pray about what God would have me bring, but I was going to bring something over there. Period.

After I had lunched on the most delicious tortilla filled with a schmear of cream cheese, peanut butter w honey & Nutella rolled up next to tart little apple slices (soooooo yummy) I felt pulled to go pray before picking up the laundry or the laptop again for the day. Among all the things that God and I discussed during that time, we also discussed my love offering to Jennifer and her family. While I had been thinking chicken noodle soup, He suggested I take her some “feel better fudge” aka salted caramel fudge. And I had to admit, He was right, what’s better for a house full of sick girls than chocolate!?! But then I got to thinking about the flip side of that, what is it that we need the most when our souls are sick? We’re all His bride, so are we not then a house filled with sick girls? I pondered what the spiritual version of feel better fudge might be? And of course, He answered me with the most obvious answer of all; the cross! Our spiritual feel better fudge is the sweet good news that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we are all eternally forgiven. If the feet that bring good news are beautiful what are the lips that speak that very truth? Or the fingers that type it? J He then showed me a woman holding a cube of chocolately fudge swirled with sweet and salty caramel. When she went to take that first bite her teeth just sank into the soft chocolate, allowing it to give away and break off a bite-sized morsel into her mouth where she gratefully closed her lips around the sweet goodness of it, holding it in her mouth and allowing the heat of her breath to melt it. As it melted it surrounded her tongue with the most amazing flavor and sweetness, balanced perfectly with a touch of salt and then slowly swallowing down that perfect truth that she is saved, and loved and forgiven completely; allowing it to become part of her innermost being.

James 3 tells us that with our tongues we both bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (verses 9-12) And so I ask, my dear friend, can a tongue that has just tasted of the sweet truth that they are completely forgiven by the One whom they have so brutally betrayed continue to withhold forgiveness from any man or woman who has recently wronged them? Not if she has fully accepted the forgiveness that has been offered to her she can’t. And not if she is continually feasting on the forgiveness Jesus offers.

Salted Caramel Fudge

(This recipe is a combination of two of my favorite recipes and it’s a little bit eye-balled on the ratio of fudge to caramel.)

 

Caramel Ingredients:

2 sticks butter

2 c. white sugar

1 bottle dark Karo syrup

2 c cream

2 tsp vanilla

 

Fudge Ingredients:

1 pound semisweet chocolate

2 Tbs butter cut into small pats

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 tsp vanilla

 

Kosher salt

 

* Heavily butter a 9×13 pan and a large mixing bowl and set them aside.

* In a double broiler (not on the heat yet) combine all fudge ingredients except vanilla. Put water on to heat but do not put chocolate over the heat until the caramel is completely finished.

* Melt butter for caramel in a heavy sauce pan. Add sugar and syrup, continue cooking at a low boil. When completely mixed very slowly add the cream, slow enough that the mixture continues to boil.

*Stir constantly until it is in the soft ball stage.

* Remove from heat, add vanilla and mix well.

* Pour into well buttered mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

* Put the chocolate mixture over the heat and stir all ingredients until chocolate is melted and well mixed together. Remove from heat.

* Add in the vanilla and stir well. Pour into 9×13 pan.

* Take the mixing bowl of caramel, be careful it will still be quite HOT, and scoop caramel over fudge until you are satisfied with your fudge to caramel ratio. There will be a lot more caramel than fudge. If you want you could double the fudge ingredients to get them to match up more effectively, or you could just have extra caramel to eat by itself. It’s up to you.

* Use a knife to swirl the caramel into the fudge.

* Sprinkle the Kosher salt onto the caramel fudge to taste.

* Chill for 90 minutes or until set.

* Cut fudge into desired size with a sharp knife. After each cut, wipe knife with a damp paper towel. Enjoy!

Categories: Job | 2 Comments

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