Thursday, April 22, 2021

Integrity over Popularity - Martin Wiles

If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. Acts 25:11 NLT

Of the many students who didn’t, he chose integrity over popularity.

Jason appeared to be a loner when he came to our school. On field day, he rarely attended. When I asked his older brother why, he said he just didn’t enjoy such activities. Nor did Jason ever attend our end-of-the-year party at the local bowling alley. During lunch, we often watched him sit by himself. We felt sorry for him, but he enjoyed being alone. 

A part of why Jason stayed to himself was that he enjoyed it that way. Give him a book to read, and he was set for the day. But integrity also drove him to be alone. Some of his classmates involved themselves in actions and spoke words that Jason didn’t agree with. He belonged to a Christian family, and his parents had taught him Christian principles. He wanted to follow them, so he merely chose to stay away from temptation to maintain his integrity.

Paul chose integrity as well. He was in prison and experiencing false accusations. It appeared he had no choice but to appeal to Caesar in Rome, the highest authority. And he did.

Integrity does the right thing when everyone looks and when no one looks. Peer pressure is real. Jason experienced it. So did Paul. I have, too. And it doesn’t stop when we finish school. It lingers into college…work…life. Some will always tempt us to do the wrong thing. We can follow the crowd, which chooses wrong regularly, or we can choose God’s principles.

When we choose integrity, some will disown us, as many did Jason … and me when I was in middle school. Jesus didn’t compromise His integrity for popularity with people. When He confronted the crowds with God’s principles, some believed, but most rejected Him. Some hated Him so much for His stand that they took Him to a cross.

Only God can give us the strength to say “No” when we need to—or to look the other way when we should. Making up our mind to do right ahead of time is also important. Waiting until we’re in the heat of the temptation to decide usually leads to failure.

Make up your mind to choose integrity over popularity.

Prayer: Father, give us the strength to stand for Your principles even when many others don’t.

Tweetable: Do you choose integrity over popularity? 


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Monday, April 19, 2021

Meandering Monday - Life on a Treadmill - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again. 

Life on a Treadmill

Is not all human life a struggle? Our lives are like that of a hired hand, like a worker who longs for the shade, like a servant waiting to be paid. Job 7:1-2 NLT

Round and round life goes. Where it stops nobody knows.

I suppose it was one of the earlier pets my parents allowed me to own. Why I chose a hamster, I’m not sure. Since hamster cages are somewhat small, it’s not uncommon for them to include exercise wheels. Most owners also have a plastic ball for their pet so it can roll around the house. I had both, but they achieved different results. In the ball, my hamster could scoot all over the house. When he hit one wall, he merely switched sides of the ball and took off again. The wheel, however, was quite different. He would often run on it all night, but he made no forward progress. Sometimes life can feel the same. 

Although it may appear that I, like the hamster, am running on life’s treadmill and going nowhere, such isn’t the case. I must believe God has a plan for the world in general and for me in particular. Things are not occurring outside of his control, nor are they random and unconnected. Furthermore, his plans are good and for my good. When he is finished weaving them together, I will understand that. 

As the hamster spins in one direction, so must I—God’s direction. When I hit a wall in my ball, I determine I’ve taken a wrong course and then correct it by going in another direction. My directions are determined through prayer. I can know the mind of Christ, but this doesn’t mean I’ll always get it right the first time. Walls and treadmills remind me of this. God’s Spirit residing in me gives guidance to know when and when I’m not heading in the appropriate direction. 

When life feels as if it’s nothing more than a spinning treadmill, remember God has good plans for you. Pursue them. 

Prayer: Thank You, heavenly Father, for having good plans for us. Prompt us to follow them so we might experience the fullness of Your blessings. 

(Photo courtesy of morguefile and xandert.)

Tweetable: Does your life seem like a treadmill? 


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Friday, April 16, 2021

Crockpot Chicken and Dressing

Ingredients

2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix (cooked)

4 Biscuits (cooked)

2 Eggs

1 Onion

2 Cans Chicken Broth or the Broth from the Chicken

3 Boneless Breasts (Boiled)

2 Tablespoons Sage

2 Tablespoons Butter

Salt/pepper

2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup


Directions 

Mix cornbread, biscuits, eggs, sage, salt/pepper, and butter in a large bowl. Set aside.

Boil chicken and onion together. 

Once the chicken cools, pull it apart and place in a separate bowl.

Pour chicken broth into the cornbread mixture and mix. If needed, add broth from the chicken.

Grease crockpot and add one can of Chicken Soup. 

Add half of the dressing mixture, followed by the chicken, and then by the remainder of the dressing. 

Top with the other can of Cream of Chicken Soup.

Cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours. 

If needed sooner, cook on high for 1 hour.

Tweetable: Enjoy this delicious chicken and dressing recipe. 

We believe Good food and God's Word go well together. After you've enjoyed this dessert--or even as you enjoy it--why not hop over to our main page and enjoy one of our encouraging devotions. 


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Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Source of Life - Martin Wiles

For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:4 NLT

Within a few days, the large, green vibrant leaves were reduced to a brown, crumpled heap.

Mid-spring had arrived, and I decided to plant a small vegetable garden in our backyard. I made sure to plant yellow crook-necked squash—our favorite to fry when battered with cornmeal. Initially, the plants didn’t do well, so I brought out the Miracle Grow and poured it to them weekly. In no time, the plants perked up, grew at a rapid rate, bloomed, and produced numerous squash.

Then spring ended and summer’s heat arrived. The amount of squash diminished, and the once vibrant leaves faded. One day, I said to my wife, “I think I have just picked the last squash.” After doing so, I used my flat hoe to sever the shanks of the plants from the root balls. I left the severed plant lying where I had performed the surgery…and watched.

As my wife and I sat on the patio each night thereafter, we watched death spread. By the end of the week, our once large squash plants lay in a small brown pile. I had severed their source of life. They could no longer produce. They could only fulfill their destiny: death.

The ugly truth is sometimes hard to swallow: I came into this world dead. Not physically, but spiritually. At a young age, I began to show the truth of Jesus’s statement and of the Bible’s message. Through actions and words, I violated God’s principles and commands. I was severed from the Vine. Left that way, I would have carried that state of spiritual death into an eternity separated from God.

But Jesus shares good news amid the bad. If we connect with Him, the Vine, we’ll experience spiritual life now and in eternity. Forgiveness of all our sins is a part of the connection. Once in Him, we produce fruit in our actions, attitudes, and words—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. We’ll also enjoy life as God intended—in a relationship with Him.

God doesn’t will for any to perish but for all to connect to the Vine. Are you connected?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the connection You provide through Jesus Christ.

Tweetable: Have you discovered the source of life? 


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Monday, April 12, 2021

Meandering Monday - The Head Lifter - Martin Wiles

Welcome to Meandering Monday, where we take a trip back to an earlier post and enjoy it again. 






The Head Lifter

But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. Psalm 3:3 NLT

When my head is lifted and gripped by God’s hands, troubles take on new meaning.

The pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I had heard my grandfather talk about his one-time experience with the flu—the intense aches and pains--so I wondered if that’s what I had contracted. My body ached from head to foot. Lifting my head from wherever it rested was almost more than I could muster the strength to do. Read more...

Tweetable: What lifts your head when you're down? 

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Friday, April 9, 2021

Apple and Grape Salad

 


Apple and Grape Salad

Ingredients

1 Red Apple (cut in chunks)

1 Yellow Apple (cut in chunks)

1 Green Apple (cut in chunks)

1/2 lb Green Grapes

1/2 lb Black Grapes

2 (10pk) miniature Butterfingers

4 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)

8 oz. Sour Cream

1/2 C. Sugar


Directions

In a small mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar.

Add fruit.

Pour into an 8 x 12 container.

Top with crushed butterfingers.

Keep Refrigerated.

Tweetable: Why not try this healthy dessert? 


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Thursday, April 8, 2021

When the Battery Dies - Martin Wiles

But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.” Acts 27:31 NLT

Around our house, a dead battery on a computer, iPhone, or iPad is a major disaster.

Although we didn't let our two grandsons who stayed with us five days each week remain on their devices continually, we did allow them several hours each day. In fact, getting on their devices was the first thing they wanted to do when they arrived each evening after school. 

If my wife or I had forgotten to charge the devices the night before, the scenery changed. Our grandsons’ moods changed drastically. In their little minds, they had planned to watch videos or play games as soon as they got to Meme and Pop’s house.

One morning during the summer when our grandsons arrived, one of the device’s batteries was dead, leaving only one device between the two of them. Instead of fussing, the younger grandson took his charged device and invited his older brother to sit beside him to watch videos. A rare moment of unity between them. Of course, it didn’t last long, but I saw what could happen when a battery dies.

At the moment, Paul’s dead battery included a hurricane, a group of sailors who wanted to steal the lifeboat and escape the sinking ship, and a group of soldiers who wanted to kill the prisoners so they wouldn’t escape when the ship sank. In the end, they all had to pull together to reach the island shore after the ship ran aground on a sandbar.

Sometimes, God takes things from us or allows a trial in our life to help us see what’s most significant. Paul was a prisoner and on his way to Rome to stand before the most important person in the known world: Caesar. He wanted to get there. Thus, the advice he gave to the officer and the soldiers. Our grandsons getting along was more important than the devices themselves.

Through trials, God helps us distinguish between wants and needs. Devices are wants, not needs. When God reduces our income or our possessions, we quickly learn how much we can do without. Chances are, we already have more than most people in the world.

When life’s batteries die, we also see how important relationships are. Hopefully, our grandsons discovered the lesson, and I’m sure the soldiers and sailors did, too. God created us for relationships with others and, most importantly, with Him. Things … unnecessary things … can promote or hinder our relationships.

When your battery dies, look for the lesson God wants to teach you.

Prayer: Father, show us through trials what the most important things in life are.

Tweetable: What have you learned from a dead battery? 


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