Monday, May 10, 2021

Meandering Monday - The Goodness of Grief - Martin Wiles

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

David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan. II Samuel 1:11-12 NLT

The news hit him like a bombshell.

Running for his life, hiding like the criminal he wasn’t, and constantly looking over his shoulder wasn’t the life David had bargained for. Caves, wildernesses, enemy camps. Not places he enjoyed laying his head down at night. He had no choice.

King Saul had placed a price on David’s head and hunted him like a dog. Even the king’s son—who was also David’s best friend—couldn’t save him. Now it was finally over. The enemy had won. Saul and Jonathan lay dead on the battlefield. Words couldn’t adequately convey David’s grief. 

David’s sorrow started long before the death of the king and David’s good friend. Because of the king’s jealousy, David had to leave his best friend and had been hiding in the wilderness for months as the maddened king sought his life.

Grieving often precedes the actual grief event itself. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her book On Death and Dying, detailed the stages most people experience when receiving news of their or someone else’s impending death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Grieving over loss or impending doom is necessary. Tears provide a healing flow. Refusing to grieve by repressing emotional turmoil only leads to further emotional issues. When my father died, I experienced emotions as I never had before. But my emotional states were necessary on my journey to acceptance.

Grieving also happens in various time frames. Some grieve and heal quickly while others remain in grief’s grip for months and possibly years. Only God can help us grieve properly and heal sufficiently.

Comfort for believers is found in what the apostle Paul wrote, “You must not carry on over them (the dead) like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 MSG).

Rather than reacting in unhealthy ways, let God help you grieve properly.

Prayer: Guide us, God of comfort and grace, to a healing state when circumstances cause us untold grief.

Tweetable: How are you dealing with grief? 


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Friday, May 7, 2021

CREAMY CHICKEN LASAGNA

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.


Ingredients

½ BOX OF LASAGNA NOODLES

1 STICK OF BUTTER

1 ONION, CHOPPED

½ CUP PLAIN FLOUR

2 CUPS CHICKEN BROTH

1 ½ CANNED MILK

4 CUPS SHREDDED ITALIAN CHEESE

1 CUP RICOTTA CHEESE

1 (10 OUNCE) PACKAGE CHOPPED SPINACH, THAWED AND DRAINED

1 (10 OUNCE) PACKAGE OF FROZEN CORN


SPICE MIXTURE OF SALT, PEPPER, GARLIC POWDER, ONION POWDER, PARSLEY, AND ITALIAN SEASONING (¼ TEASPOON OF EACH)

Directions

STEP 1: PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES. BRING A LARGE POT OF LIGHTLY SALTED WATER TO A BOIL. COOK LASAGNA NOODLES IN BOILING WATER 8-10 MINUTES. DRAIN AND RINSE WITH COLD WATER.

STEP 2: MELT BUTTER IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN OVER MEDIUM HEAT. ADD ONIONS AND SEASONINGS TO MELTED BUTTER. COOK ONIONS UNTIL TENDER. STIR IN FLOUR AND SIMMER UNTIL BUBBLY. GRADUALLY ADD BROTH AND MILK, STIRRING CONTINUALLY FOR 1 MINUTE. STIR IN 3 CUPS SHREDDED CHEESE AND RICOTTA. REMOVE FROM HEAT. ADD SPINACH, SHREDDED CHICKEN, AND CORN. STIR UNTIL CHEESE HAS MELTED.


STEP 3:
 LAYER LASAGNA NOODLES AND CREAMY SAUCE. START AND END WITH SAUCE, TOP WITH REST OF CHEESE. BAKE 35 TO 40 MINUTES.

Tweetable: Try this healthy full-meal dish. 


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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Gaining or Just Maintaining - Martin Wiles

You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. Hebrews 5:12b NLT

If I didn’t maintain, I’d gain … so I walked.

Summers for me are tough when it comes to weight gain. During the school year, I’m busy, walking here and there, constantly moving about. But during the summer, things slow down. No kids to keep up with. No copier to walk back and forth to. No trips to the office. Instead, I do a lot of sitting. And the pounds come. Usually, about ten of them, which seem never to disappear when the next school year begins.

Calculating my weight in my head, I knew I could not afford to gain ten pounds each summer. By the time I retired, I would weigh …. Well, we won’t talk about that number. One summer I decided to take action. Instead of walking my normal thirty minutes, I increased it to forty-five. And rather than walking with my normal posture, I decided to square my shoulders and suck in my gut.

My plan worked. That summer, I maintained my weight rather than gained any extra pounds. I also gained a tighter belly where a bulge had once begun to form.

The writer of Hebrews addressed the matter of maintaining, yet he didn’t want his readers to just maintain. He wanted them to gain. They had been believers for quite some time and should have been able to teach others the principles of God’s Word. Instead, they still needed someone to teach them.

In our spiritual journey, maintaining doesn’t exist. If we don’t move forward, we fall backward. A diet of only milk is for babies—and the same is true for spiritual babes. God wants us to learn more about Him and His ways. He wants us to grow in our love for Him and in our service to Him and others.

Gaining takes initiative and a plan. Spiritual growth doesn’t happen automatically, as physical growth does. I can’t place a Bible on my nightstand or under my pillow and expect to gain knowledge.

God gives methods by which we grow—most of which come through action. Reading and applying the teachings of His Word, staying in a spirit of prayer, hanging out with spiritual mentors and friends, serving others, and using our spiritual gifts. When we do these things, we’ll gain—and in the process help move God’s Kingdom forward.

Let God show you what actions you need to take to move forward in your spiritual walk.

Prayer: Father, move us into gaining spiritual ground for You.

Tweetable: Are you gaining or losing spiritual ground? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Monday, May 3, 2021

No, Not That One - Marci Dittmer

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NRSV)

Years ago, my uncle promised to find a date for my dad.

He called a young lady who said, “Oh, I’m sorry, Werner, but I already have a date.”

The second one responded, “I’m sorry, but I’m going home to visit family.”

The third call ended with, “Oh, that sounds exciting, but I have another engagement. Maybe next time.”

Disappointed, Werner made one final call. Hardly knowing this woman, he doubted she would accept, but she kindly agreed.

The prophet Samuel experienced a similar situation when God sent him to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as Israel’s second king. Jesse paraded each of them before Samuel. As Samuel saw the first son, he thought, Surely, God wants me to anoint him as king. But God, looking at the son’s heart, said, “No, no. Not this one.”

The second son stepped forward, but again God said, “No, not this one either.” The same thing happened with the third son, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, and, finally, the seventh. Outwardly, all looked fit to wear the crown, but God told Samuel, “No, I have chosen none of these.”

“Do you have another son?” Samuel asked.

“Well, I do have the youngest.”

“Get him,” Samuel ordered.

As David arrived, God told Samuel, “I choose this one. Anoint him. He will be king.”

Although we, like Samuel, often view the world and its people through our own eyes, God sees people differently. When we seek to discern God’s will, God calls us to listen and discern His leading. If doubt or disappointment arises, we must think like God and trust Him.

God’s choices may differ from ours. He may choose the smallest, youngest, or last in line. After all, He chose David for Israel, and He chose my mom for my dad.

Trust God’s choices, whether you understand them or not.

Tweetable: Are you trusting your choices to God or yourself? 

Marci Dittmer is a private math and English tutor who holds a master’s degree in education and is pursuing another degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. She also writes freelance articles and serves as a vestry member, greeter, and lay reader in her church. Marci loves to spend time with her husband and friends and visit her two adult daughters and son-in-law.


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Cheesy Chicken Noodle Soup

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


Ingredients

4 BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS

     

1 CAN CREAM  OF CELERY


1 SMALL BLOCK VELVEETA

   

2 CANS CHICKEN BROTH


1 BAG EGG NOODLES


1 CAN CREAM OF CHICKEN


1 CAN MILK


1 STICK BUTTER


SALT/PEPPER


1 CAN ROTEL


Directions

COOK CHICKEN BREASTS IN BROTH, BUTTER, AND SALT/PEPPER.


ONCE COOKED, REMOVE FROM BROTH.


ADD NOODLES TO BROTH AND LET COOK.


SHRED CHICKEN, THEN ADD BACK TO NOODLES AND BROTH.


ADD REMAINING INGREDIENTS AND LET COOK FOR 30–40 MINUTES ON LOW.


Tweetable: What recipe would like to share with our readers? 


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Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Dark Day of the Sole - Martin Wiles

Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy? Job 13:24 NLT

I looked down to see something I’d never witnessed before.

My daughter and I were on an overnight backpacking trip. At noon, thunderstorms rolled in. As we hiked through mountain valleys, we saw dark clouds decorating the neighboring mountains. Fortunately, we dodged them, until an entire system of storms rolled through.

After waiting out the storm in a porta-potty, we made our way back to our tent. Rain had turned the trail into a river. As we plodded through the water—her in a new pair of boots but me in a pair I’d had for quite some time—I heard a strange noise coming from my left foot. Looking down, I saw my sole had separated from the boot. Not much farther down the trail, the right boot did the same. For the remainder of our journey, I experienced a dark day of the sole.

A more familiar phrase is “dark night of the soul.” John of the Cross, a sixteenth-century Spanish priest and poet who worked with Teresa of Avila to reform the Carmelite Order, first used the phrase in two of his major writings, The Ascent of Mount Carmel and The Dark Night. But he used it in a different way than it has come to mean today.

Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer, and theologian gave the phrase a different meaning. He realized the warmth of God’s presence can elude us. In his secret journal, he told of a dark season in his life in which he couldn’t feel God’s love. Although he had helped millions of people around the world experience a more intimate experience with God, he was in a dark night of the soul.

So was Job. He did everything right, but got caught up in a wager between God and Satan. God permitted Satan to torment Job in any way he chose, except for taking his life. His friends told him he had sinned, and his wife told him to curse God and die. Although Job had questions, he maintained his integrity and refused to walk away from God.

Sometimes, we blame God for what are natural consequences to our poor decisions or to the natural effects of sin on our world. When Adam and Eve sinned, not only did they die spiritually and later physically, but the world also experienced a change. Eve experienced pain in childbirth, Adam poured sweat and had to fight thorns as he farmed, and an unseen battle raged between good and evil.

God is sovereign and controls all things—including our dark nights of the soul. Why He permits bad things to happen to good people is a question we can’t always answer, but He never stops loving us or controlling our undesirable circumstances. He promises to bring good from bad things. At least, I still had a shoe—and the sun did come back out and gave us a beautiful remainder of a hike.

Don’t let your dark nights of the soul cloud and destroy your trust in a good God who loves You and wants to give you His best.

Prayer: Father, increase our faith when we experience our dark nights of the soul.

Tweetable: How do you handle your dark nights of the soul? 


Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Meandering Monday - Maintaining a Clear Conscience - Martin Wiles

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

Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people. Acts 24:16 NLT

Clear consciences lead to healthier living.

Our front and back doors are solid glass. Since I’m not one to like fingerprints hanging around on glass—whether on doors or on bathroom windows--I regularly clean both areas. Until our first grandson came along and my wife started keeping him every day, clean doors weren’t an issue. Suddenly, they were. 

Our grandson liked the wooden doors open so he could see outside. He also loved to put his grimy little hands all over the doors while he peered at the sites outside. Although I cleaned the doors once a week on the day he was not here, it accomplished little. As soon as he arrived the following Monday, the doors were covered with fingerprints again. I determined fingerprint-free glass doors were an impossibility as long as he was around. 

The apostle Paul encountered and endured many a sticky situation during his early missionary journeys, but maintained a clear conscience in spite of the attacks and accusations. He regularly confessed what his life was like before Christ as well as what Christ had done for him afterward. Regular confession of sin keeps my conscience clear and the causeway open between me and God. Guilt—whether false or genuine--melts away when I come clean before God.

Regular reading of God’s Word—along with other helpful Christian material--also helps maintain a clear conscience. Through his Word and other authors, God persistently reminds me of his standards so I can judge myself accordingly. 

Continually monitoring my actions, attitudes, and speech is a necessity. God helps me do that through spiritual disciplines, but having an accountability partner also helps. Often, what I can’t see, God gives others the ability to see clearly.

Understanding God’s forgiveness affects the state of my conscience as well. While God has forgiven all my sins through Christ, I still must acknowledge and own them. Otherwise, my conscience will suffer. 

Is your conscience clear before God? It can be.

Prayer: God of love and grace, we thank You for the forgiveness that’s available in Christ and for the further ability to live free from guilt. 
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and jade.)



Thanks to all our faithful followers who share our posts! We also invite you to follow and like us on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram. Help us spread God's encouragement through His Love Lines.