Saturday, May 18, 2024

Cheesy Bacon Dip

 

cheesy bacon dip

Ingredients
2 CUPS SOUR CREAM

1 JAR REAL BACON BITS

2 CUPS SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE  

8 OUNCES CREAM CHEESE (SOFTENED)

Directions
COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER AND PLACE IN A GREASED BAKING DISH.

BAKE AT 400 DEGREES FOR 25 TO 30 MINUTES.

DIP MAY ALSO BE PLACED IN A HOLLOWED ROUND FRENCH BREAD LOAF, WRAPPED IN FOIL, AND HEATED THE SAME TEMPERATURE AND TIME.


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Friday, May 17, 2024

The New Norm - Martin Wiles

the new norm
We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance. Romans 5:3 NLT

He stood and talked to his brother, never realizing that in a few moments, his life would change forever.

When I became his pastor, he was a vibrant man and a diligent church worker. Some years before, his life had been changed when he was diagnosed with a type of cancer most don’t survive. But he had.

Then it happened. Not the return of cancer, but something more permanent. Neither he nor his brother knew what was happening but that something was, was evident. A stroke slithered into his life. Although he incurred no permanent paralysis, he did suffer life-changing brain damage. For months, he couldn’t stay alone. His short-term memory, for all practical purposes, disappeared. He blurted out things he wouldn’t have dreamed of saying before in public. Time dragged along, but he learned he must adapt to his new normal.

Paul says what we don’t enjoy hearing: troubling times produce perseverance, and perseverance ushers in new norms. God has sent me troubling times that tested my faith more than once. I haven’t enjoyed any of them, but I have learned to find peace in the new norms.

When God sends faith-testing trials, He doesn’t design them to destroy but to hone our faith. God rarely gives us the inside scoop on why He’s testing our faith, but we can know it’s for a good reason. He may need to stretch our faith or prepare us for a new assignment. Either way, when we endure the stretch with the right attitude, we enter into the new normal with the right spirit instead of a bitter spirit.

Rather than resist the new normal, God wants us to adapt, learn, and enjoy the new place He has brought. Typically, the new norm will give us opportunities we’ve never experienced. Using what God has taught us during the stretching period allows us to make good use of the new opportunities.

Rather than resisting your new norm, enjoy it and use it for God’s glory.

Father, give me faith and courage to live in the new normals you bring. 

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Power of Unity - Martin Wiles

the power of unity
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 1 Peter 3:8 NLT

I watched as they clung to my pants’ legs.

I never knew what I might run into when hunting in South Carolina’s Lowcountry—or just traipsing through fields exploring new lands. My grandfather had plenty of farmland and woods for my cousin and me to explore. But as young boys living in a time when backyards were large and parents didn’t have to worry as much about our safety—we were more likely to get into trouble ourselves than we were to have someone kidnap us—our grandfather’s land wasn’t enough. We wanted more. So we ambled across his land and onto neighbors’ lands. It didn’t matter. We might not have known the property owner, but they knew we were the grandsons of “Dan’l Martin.” That made walking across their land—and even hunting on it—permissible.

Beggar lice—or begga lice as we called it—was one thing that liked to cling to our clothes. If we came home with it, my grandmother insisted we pull it from our pants before we entered her house. Doing so wasn’t such a big deal, just time consuming. It stuck to clothes as if somebody had superglued it. And when I thought I had gotten it all, I’d see some more. As soon as we were lice-free, we could enter—usually to a good home-cooked meal she had slaved over the oven to cook. Rice, butter beans (with a ton of pot liquor, as she called it), fried chicken, pan gravy, and ears of fresh corn.

But another culprit often attacked my cousin and me as we scampered through the woods and fields. This one wasn’t as friendly as beggar lice. We called it cuka burs. The proper name is cocklebur. We often didn’t know we had accumulated them until we rubbed our hands on our pants for some reason or until our pants suddenly felt tight around the leg area. If we rubbed without looking first, we’d immediately recognize the culprit. Sharp pricks pricked our fingers. Removing them without contracting bleeding fingers proved difficult. Sometimes, we’d wait until we got back to our grandparents’ house, where we’d find a pair of gloves or perhaps use a pair of pliers. Like beggar lice, cockleburs stuck like glue.

Much later in my life, another item was often used in place of glue: Velcro. I didn’t know its origin until years later when I taught grammar to my eighth graders, and we worked through an exercise picking out adjectives in sentences. There, I came across the story of Velcro’s beginnings. The story sparked my interest because it mentioned cockle burrs, which immediately took me back to my childhood.

George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, while hunting in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland in the 1940s, discovered that cockle burrs had decorated his pants and his dog’s fur. He wondered how these tiny things attached so well to him and his feline friend. When he returned, he observed the cocklebur under a microscope and noticed a hook and loop design. With the help of friends in the weaving business, De Mestral duplicated the hook and loop of the cocklebur and began manufacturing what we now know as Velcro. The word comes from the French words for velvet (velour) and hook (crochet).

Peter encouraged first-century believers to be of one mind—to hook and loop. Still good advice. His directive didn’t’ mean then—nor does it now—that they had to agree on everything. But they needed to work together. Join hands, arms, feet, and spirits.

One hook and loop serve little, if any, purpose. Yet, a half- or one-inch square of Velcro shows the power of unity—hooks and loops working together to hold together the strongest of things.

Such is the power of unity when God’s people unite. We have different personalities and share various interpretations about some things in the Bible, but our common ground of belief in Jesus as the way of salvation and our mandate to share his love with others is stronger than the minuscule things separating us. We are many hooks and loops with unmeasured power.

The Coronavirus pandemic demonstrated what can happen when people and industries come together to fight a common unseen enemy. Our spiritual enemy is no different. He roams about like a roaring lion seeking to kill, steal, and destroy. But the power of God’s love, when hooked and looped together among his people, will overcome our enemy’s worse tirades.

Strive for unity with others, and be amazed by what God can do through you.

Father, give me a spirit of unity so my work for you might be effective to the uttermost degree. 

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Monday, May 13, 2024

Directing the Wandering Child - Devon Harrison

Directing the Wandering Child
With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Psalms 119:10 NASB 1995

My eleven-year-old son is a wanderer.

He is at the age where action figures, Legos, and superheroes no longer captivate him for hours. Iron Man and Captain America will need to conquer more fearsome foes to grab his attention. His favorite phrases have turned into “I’m bored” and “There’s nothing to do.” And mine have turned into “Hey Bored, I’m dad,” and “Go outside.” He follows me around—mere inches behind me. I ask him what he is doing and what he wants. All I get is, “Nothing,” or “I don’t know.” He is aimless with no destination—a kid who’s growing up.

The Israelites were in a similar state. The pillar of fire that led them by night did not burn in their hearts, nor did the manna entice their appetites. The promised land seemed unreachable. They grumbled, doubted, and wandered. They did not seek the Lord or grow up. And only two of the original twelve spies reached their destination.

Will my son die in the wilderness? Or fail to grow up? I don’t believe so. But just like him, we all wander at different times. We stay at dead-end jobs because they pay the bills, focus on problems instead of God’s promises, and make decisions based on feelings rather than solid principles. We wander and lose our aim because we don’t plan a path to our destination.

I must give my son things to do and learn different ways to help him find his way—reach his destination. He will pick up pinecones and help his mom with the dishes. He will have a destination; I’ll ensure it.

But as my son comes to me, we must go to the Father. With God, we have direction and a promise. And we become much more than wanderers.

Don’t let your children be directionless wanderers. Consult the one who gives perfect direction for you and them. 

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Devon Harrison is a dad who shares his home with four rambunctious boys, one wife, and a small pooch—and loves every minute of it.
 


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Saturday, May 11, 2024

Bacon, Cheese, and Hashbrown Casserole

 



Ingredients
1 Bag of Shredded Hashbrowns 

2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 Bag of Real Bacon Bits

Salt/Pepper

2 Tablespoons Butter

Directions

Mix all ingredients and place in a casserole dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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Friday, May 10, 2024

Stopping for Directions - Martin Wiles

stopping for directions
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Psalm 143:8 NLT

Stopping for directions sometimes took a great deal of courage.

In the days before GPS systems, smartphones, Google Maps, and Siri, finding an unfamiliar location could be challenging. Filling stations offered maps to travelers. Each state map had an inset of the largest cities and showed most of the downtown area’s street names.

But if a person sought county roads, they were out of luck. No 911 system existed. Country residents were assigned a route and box number—which typically weren’t displayed anywhere. Pity the mail person who had to remember who lived where. But at least they knew who their neighbors were.

Asking for directions before the technology boom was common—at least for women. I often sent my wife into a store or filling station for directions—but rarely did I go. Nor were other men likely to stop. Pride was my issue—and probably theirs. To enter a store and ask for directions was unmanly. I’ve been guilty of riding around for thirty minutes—wasting precious fuel in the process—rather than admitting I didn’t know how to get where I needed to go.

Although the psalmist had no wheels, he wasn’t afraid to admit he needed God’s direction. He often got lost on his journeys and knew only God could point him in the right direction. His motto was to trust the Lord with all your heart and let him guide his path.

Pride will cause us many missteps, and not getting directions from God is one of them. If I think I have it all figured out, I don’t need to consult God to see if I really do. But chances are I don’t and will find myself driving around in circles, making the same wrong turns.

Fear of what others think will also keep me driving when I should stop for directions. What will the convenience store owner think if I, a man, stop for directions? Really, who cares what they think? Some will always think I’m foolish to follow God’s will and pray about every detail of my life.

Rather than being foolish, stopping for directions is the smartest thing to do. It saves time and fuel. It also saves us from sinful detours and foolish decisions. Make sure you get your directions from God regularly.

Father, give me the courage to consult you on every life journey. 

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Advice from the Wrong Place - Martin Wiles

advice from the wrong place
Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do. 1 Samuel 28:7 NLT

My wife and I once faced a situation where we needed to escape, but we had no means to merely pick up and leave. Nor did we have anything to leave for. The longer we stayed, the worse things got, and the more debt we accumulated.

I decided to consult my middle brother since he had a business degree and was always level-headed with financial decisions. I gave him the scoop, the prognosis, and the question. He suggested a few “outs,” but I’d already tried them. None had worked. However, our conversation did set the wheels in motion, and we eventually made a clean break.

King Saul’s repeated disobedience shortly after God appointed him king resulted in the mantel passing to young David. Saul’s archenemies, the Philistines, had gathered for battle. He was afraid. His guidance counselor, the prophet Samuel, was dead. Who could he get advice from? He decided to visit what he had banned in the kingdom: a medium.

Advice of all varieties abounds—it always has, but now it’s more prevalent. I can find out anything I want to know through my smartphone, iPad, or computer. The roles of parents, grandparents, schoolteachers, Sunday school teachers, and pastors have all been affected.

Although the number of sources—and the sources themselves—from which advice can be obtained has changed, the importance of getting sound advice has not. Advice from others is beneficial when making decisions, especially major ones.

Our ultimate Source should be God. He advises prayer and meditation. God will speak to our spirit if we take the time to listen and not do all the talking. Trusted Christian friends who are spiritually mature are also good sources. We can trust that their advice will be based on God’s Word. Books written by respected Christian leaders and consultations with sound spiritual counselors are further places for appropriate advice. And when both are on the same spiritual journey, spouses should certainly be consulted.

God didn’t create us to be alone. When you need assistance, go to God first, and then find a trusted source who will give you honest and wise advice.

Father, guide me to you and a sound source when I need life advice. 

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