a time to make new, refresh

For your Sunday, a day to renew a freshness in your relationship with God, to make new your heart to love and to offer mercy and grace. 

Titus 3:4-6 – (ESV)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Joy in brownies, cats, and fake fireplaces

John 15:10-12 English Standard Version (ESV)- If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. fudge-brownies-1235430__340 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

What??!!! Brownies relate to commandments – love – joy? Come on, it’s not that early in the day that your brain is still asleep. How in the world can you connect brownies with joy in the Lord?

Well, since you asked…..

I enjoy cooking. As a child and even into young adulthood, brownies were one thing I could not master. They would either be too dry (to the point of hard) or too gooey (not fudgy, just nasty). And then I gave up trying to make the fudgy brownies and stuck to the cake brownies, they were okay. But ultimately, okay was just not good enough. (Persistence in the midst of adversity?) And, of all places (like it hadn’t been there for years), I found a recipe on the back of a baking cocoa can and tried it. They were good. But the next time better, because I had to make a substitution and it improved the recipe! I have used that adapted recipe ever since. These days I can eat one, maybe two brownies. But then I have an almost full pan. That is the commandment – love – joy part. Love your neighbor as yourself. I take a couple brownies out of the pan and then I start walking down the hallway in my apartment building, knocking on doors. I’ve done it enough that sometimes I’ll see someone in the hall and they ask, “Did I smell you baking brownies?” I smile and tell them it was me and that I’d come by in a little while to share. The result – Joy.

Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world. – John Piper

Okay, what about cats?

Well, I swapped dogs for cats and have discovered they can be fun (well, mine is) as they interact with humans. Their independence is amusing, cat in a basketas well as frustrating at times. But the silly cat knows when I’m troubled, or sad and comes to me purring his heart out. And he can tell when I am really happy,  and then it’s play time! The cat is a creature of God, so of course, I will find joy in all that having a pet encompasses, being obedient to do the right thing for him, in love, with joy, knowing a commandment has been fulfilled.

Proverbs 12:10 -The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Okay, fine. Fireplaces?

Fireplaces mean memories to me. In my case, wood stoves where you could watch the flames. Memories of not only family, but warmth, and earthy smells, sounds of the crackling burning wood, the work required to lead up to having a fire, all wrapped together in a basic need for warmth. God supplying creature comforts in a way appealing to the senses. Sight, sound, smell. It reminds me that God is a consuming fire. However, in my little apartment, options for real fires are not allowed. Someday I’ll have a real fake fireplace (haha), but for now, the television will have to do.fireplace

The commandment-love-joy in a fireplace, how do I connect it with joy? Throughout the Bible, fire is recognized as a symbol of the presence of God. What greater joy is there than that? My own personal reminder, where I can be still, and know that He is God. Obedient to acknowledge Him, love Him, find joy in Him to prepare me to love others in turn.

Okay, so I’ve had some fun with this blog. But hopefully, it has been a reminder that joy can be found, as Piper said, in the Word and in the world around us.

John Piper is a Bible teacher I have enjoyed reading and listening to, and I’m sharing a link here in case you’re interested in a short series on joy.

How Do You Define Joy by John Piper

Next blog: Recognizing the things that hinder you

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging Deeper

gardener-digging-garden-spade-man-260nw-1009308727I was sick for the entire month of September in 2018. The kind of sick where coughing forces you to sleep upright in a chair if you hope to get any sleep at all. The Lord and I had some interesting talks that month. Perhaps the blessing that came from that month of confinement was the realization that maybe I was doing too much of the talking and not enough listening.

So I took the month of October and cut way back on the internet and television and focused on seeking God with whatever options were available. That month of seeking and listening began a journey of deeper study into Holy Scripture. I listened to some solid Biblical preaching, I took advantage of some great online streaming studies, I took some free courses from a seminary, and I did several systematic theological studies.

Now, as month number six of this dedicated time of study is coming to an end, the one thing I have discovered is how much I didn’t know.  Like most committed believers, submitted to Jesus as Lord and Savior, I knew a good amount of scripture, prayed, and did Bible Studies. What I discovered I was ignorant of were those things you don’t see when you are not deliberately digging deeper and deeper into original languages, grammar, culture, and a myriad of other factors I have been taught to look at in the last six months.

One thing I do know, I won’t stop the continual digging to understand as much as I can to really, truly know God as much as humanly possible. And hopefully, share some of the joy that gives me.

Life is full of so many exciting things. We need to just dig as deep as we can, even in the hard times, to find level upon level of joy in the truths we find and embrace.

Next Blog: Joy in brownies, cats, and fake fireplaces

 

Back to Basics

simplify-complicate-red-circle-pencil-260nw-296778314Back to basics-which in my case means scaling back on this site in order to get back to a more simple blog.  Sometimes my love of creating new looks on the website takes more time than actually writing which means I complicate things. In trying to do too much, the one thing I am compelled to do suffers. Time to stay true to the initial purpose of this site, time to simplify.

Next blog: Digging deeper into the Word.

Praising Forever

88888-1399-Music-notes-across-ElementI was doing some editing on my latest project while the local Christian radio station played quietly in the background. Suddenly a song came on that was familiar enough to bring my attention away from the words in front of me to the words in the song.

Ah. My eyes closed and I was transported back twelve years or so in time, to a season of learning just how important praising the Lord is to survival. I sat with eyes closed as the words wrapped themselves around me like they had so long ago. A simple song. One I had played over and over as a reminder that I was loved,  that no matter what happened, I was not alone. That God was with me. Always. And praising Him, something I’d practiced for so long, took on a whole new meaning.

I rarely hear the song anymore. But it always pulls my mind out of whatever its focus is on to sigh, smile, and praise.