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Entries in God's love (4)

Thursday
Oct192017

When a Biscuit Blunder Reminded Me of God's Love

Susan K. Stewart is a no-nonsense Christian with a strong desire to inspire and equip people in various walks of life. In this UPLIFT post, she encourages us to find hope in God's love in the midst of life's "blunders."

“Little did I know," Susan says, "my granddaughter, Wendy, would remind me of God’s love when she baked biscuits for dinner.”

God's love? Biscuits? OK, Susan. I (Dawn) think you've got our curiosity!

Susan continues . . .

Eleven-year-old Wendy had just made her first batch of homemade biscuits. She put the plate down in front of her grandfather. “Papa, try one of my biscuits!”

Wendy followed instructions carefully, but the biscuits didn’t rise as usual.

No concern.

The color wasn’t quite right.

Well, it was her first try.

After slathering with butter, Papa took his bite. For a moment his face gave away a concern—just for a moment.

Wendy bit into hers.

“These are great, aren’t they?” She was proud of her effort.

Papa’s initial reaction confirmed that the biscuits weren’t quite right. They were course, not fluffy, and a bit gritty.

I pondered what had happened. What could have gone wrong?

I had supervised the baking effort and didn’t see any mistakes. Well, other than the flour looked odd. While munching my gray, gritty biscuit, the proverbial lightbulb came on.

It wasn’t flour. It was diatomaceous earth (DE).

We keep DE in the pantry to use for bug control. It looks similar to flour except a little finer. The wrong container had been grabbed.

Thankfully, DE isn’t harmful to humans.

In spite of the odd gray color and gritty feel in our mouths, we laughed about the blunder and enjoyed Wendy’s first made-from-scratch biscuits.

Even after learning what happened, Wendy was not discouraged. This was her creation and she was pleased.

Isn’t that like God? We are His creation, and we can sometimes be gray and gritty.

He doesn’t throw away any of us.

God said His creation, including humans, was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Not just “good,” but “VERY good.”

Even after Adam and Eve fell into the snare of Satan, God didn’t give up.

He wasn’t discouraged and didn’t throw us in the trash can.

Instead, God had a plan to restore His creation to Himself:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8 ESV).

God made a way for us to come to Him. Jesus died to renew our connection with God.

That’s amazing! Even when I have a gray attitude or am abrasive, God shows His love. He says, “Isn’t Susan very good?”

Like Wendy, God sees beyond the blunders, my blunders, to His creation. He’s not downcast or unhappy. God continues His love. He is still proud of His effort put into me.

The next day, Wendy called her mom to tell her and laugh about her biscuits. She was so happy to have had the opportunity to be part of the meal preparation. We’ll forever talk about the DE biscuits.

“(God) will rejoice over you with gladness” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). Sometimes it’s hard to fathom that God takes delight in us, just as Wendy was delighted in her biscuits. He created us, saved us, and takes pleasure in us no matter what.

He continues to rejoice in His creation.

A few days later, Wendy made a new batch of biscuits—this time with flour. They were tall and white with a hint of brown crust. The butter melted into the fluffy bread. Each bite was a delicious. A new baking creation to replace the old.

God does that for us; He makes us a new creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

In spite of our sin and rags, He offers us hope.

God doesn’t see us as those old dark and sinful creatures. He sees the new, clean creation we are in Jesus.

Take joy in what God has created—a new you.

Have you mistaken one ingredient for another other when cooking? Was the result a disaster or a fun story for the family? What is your reaction to blunders? Are you downcast? Or do you rejoice with God? What is your hope today?

Susan K. Stewart—when she’s not tending chickens and donkeys—teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire others with practical, real-world solutions. Susan's books include Science in the Kitchen; Preschool: At What Cost?; the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers; and her most recent book, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook. Learn more about Susan at Practical Inspirations.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Olisa655 at Pixabay.

Thursday
Sep282017

Your Position in the Family

Kolleen Lucariello is a gifted writer who greatly desires to help Christians understand their identity in Christ. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she encourages us to "live loved."

"When I was seven-years-old my parents adopted a little girl from Korea who bore the name of Park Sun Duk," Kolleen says. "I remember scanning over the pictures of children provided by the adoption agency until the face of a little girl captured our attention. It was love at first sight!"

I (Dawn) always wanted to adopt a child; the Lord didn't have that in His plans for me. But adoption has always been dear to my heart, and I love the picture of God adopting us into His family. So I appreciate this powerful encouragement.

Kolleen continues…

In early April, after months of waiting, our family of five piled into our borrowed grandfather’s car and took off for the eight-hour-trip to the Chicago airport soon to become a family of six.

I only remember bits and pieces of the trip, but one thing I recall is how extremely excited we were to meet our new sister.

When she finally appeared, I could not take my eyes off of her. She was the cutest baby I had ever seen, and boy, did we show her off.

Once she was placed in my mother’s arms, a new name, as well as a new life, awaited her. She was now Kara Louise, a member of the Okerlund family. I loved her instantly.

Of course, like most families—I won’t say all, as there actually may be some families who never experience sibling stuff—but like most, we had our sibling squabbles. As the baby of the family, she could drive me crazy; as cute as she was, she was also just as stubborn. But I loved her. 

Throughout the years, we’ve clashed and had our share of disagreements, but I never stopped loving her. We’ve had moments of contention and seasons of silence, but through every emotion and every moment, I’ve continuously loved her.

The funny thing is, regardless of how loved she was, she never fully believed or accepted the love of her adoptive family.

It didn't matter how much we spoke it, tried to show it, or showered love upon her, she just had a very hard time living life loved by us. Simply because she was adopted.

She had moved in, but continually struggled to fully accept that our parents’ love for her was the same regardless of the origin of her birth.

Because of this struggle, she never completely felt secure in her identity as an Okerlund.

I imagine Father God’s heart breaks for His own adopted children who fail to experience the fullness of His love.

Many move in, but continue to live in doubt, wondering how God could love them. We refuse to accept His perfect love based on our simple understanding of love, not His.

Through faith we've been adopted into His family, yet, for some reason, we struggle to feel secure in our new identity as a believer in Jesus.

What a tragedy to reject this kind of love.

In June my sister slipped from her earthly home into her heavenly one, and I believe her struggle to live loved finally ended.

Now, in the presence of Jesus, she is fully aware of the extent of what real love is.

While my heart always broke for her battle here, it now rejoices for her as she finds rest in the fullness of God’s love.

But, why wait? Trust His love is for you, now.

You UPGRADE your life when you:

1. ACCEPT your new identity in Christ!

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)!

Your new identity awaits you. Change your name. You are now a child of God!

2. BELIEVE the celebration is for you!

Jesus said there’s great rejoicing in heaven over the lost sinner who returns home (Luke 15:7).

Share in the excitement. Rejoice in your salvation! Let Him show you off!

3. CLAIM your position in the family!

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5, NLT).

It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, when you move in with Christ, you are home.

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29, NKJV).

You’ve captured the attention of God. Now it’s time to move into His plans for your life.

What thinking must you overcome to accept, believe and claim your position in the family of Christ and live loved?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ, one letter at a time. Read more from Kolleen on her website.

Family photos from Kolleen.

Tuesday
Feb072017

Love Notes

In this Valentine's Day and Parenting UPGRADE, Morgan Farr—a mom with young children who transitioned from feminism to biblical womanhood—encourages parents to share the true Source of love with their children through "love notes."

"Each day I strive to instill a good work ethic, teach self discipline, and most importantly, demonstrate godly character to my sons," Morgan says, "but it isn't always easy."

Like Morgan, I (Dawn) have two sons. I remember those challenging days when I wondered whether anything I taught and modeled was "getting through" to them. But I'm sure of one thing: they knew they were loved.

Morgan continues . . .

This Valentine's Day, I want my sons to learn more than just paper hearts and candy.

This year, I will write three love notes for my sons to read when they are older. These notes will help them to see what real love truly is as they deepen their understand the perfect love of God.

Today I want to share these notes with you.

First and most importantly, I want my boys to know that the Creator of the universe made them by hand.

"For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13).

Long before I knew my boys where there, God knew. He formed each and every part of them, to His exact specifications.

Second, I want my boys to know that it is alright for them to stand strong.

"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Many things in this world will try to pull them away from the work of God. Many things from this world will try to undercut and downplay their role as men of God.

I want them to know that they can stand firm in His unwavering love.

Third, I want my boys to know that once they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are reborn with a commission—a great one, in fact.

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Fatger, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Christ has a calling for each of my son's lives. They may not have a garage gym ministry like my husband and I do. They may be mechanics, professors, senators or translators.

Whatever it is that they do on this earth, I want them to remember the real work to be done for the kingdom of God.

Charles Swindoll wrote:

"Each day of our lives, we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."

These love notes are the deposits I am focusing on this month.

What love notes will you focus on with your family?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her wonderful husband Brian and their two sons. She is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one interactions and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog. You can find her training programs on her blog, FarrFunctionalFitness.blogspot.com.

Tuesday
Sep132016

Trusting the Trustworthy God

Rhonda Rhea is just plain funny. Until she's not (on purpose). Rhonda's spiritual depth always amazes me, like when she's sharing about the character of God and how we relate to Him, as in this Spiritual Life UPGRADE.

"Sometimes people agree with me without even thinking it through," Rhonda says. "Of course, let’s face it, that shouldn’t happen all that often. Still, when something happens only occasionally, it makes every occurrence that much sweeter."

Have you ever had anyone trust you that much? I (Dawn) have, and I can testify how sweet that is!

Rhonda continues . . .

When someone agrees before even fully knowing what I’ve said, it makes me feel like I’m sort of the “terms and conditions” of people. Oh, the power.

Basically I’m letting you all know that you can trust me. At least part of the time. I’ll be honest and tell you that you still wouldn’t want to leave me alone in a room with your nachos.

But other than that, trust.

The trustworthiness of a promise always depends on the nature of and the power held by the one making that promise.

Let’s get real, once someone adds a layer of melty cheese, if you trusted me, I would question your trust-judgment. But our God? The very essence of who He is in nature is flawlessness. The power He holds can’t be compared to anything or anyone else. He has it all.

Paul said in Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (ESV). So Paul is talking to us as believers here when he says in the next sentence, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (vs. 23).

It makes sense to have faith in the One who is faithful.

It makes sense to trust in the One who is trustworthy. His record is clear. He has never failed to deliver on a promise. Never.

God’s Word is filled, cover to cover, with one blessed occurrence after another of promises kept.

We have His nature as the basis for our trust in Him. We have His power, knowing He is fully capable of carrying out His promises. And if that’s not enough—which it certainly is, but still—we have His love for us to top it all off.

You can trust the One who loves you without limits, without reserve. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV).

Our Lord loved us all the way to the cross. His love is perfect. And that leads us to trust Him without the slightest apprehension. Our faith is well-placed. “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth” (Psalm 86:15, HCSB).

David wrote also in Psalm 143:8, “Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You” (HCSB).

Love leads to trust. And trust leads to love. That is perfect!

Anytime you encounter a challenge, difficulty, doubt or question, it changes how you see that struggle when you remember that Your Father is trustworthy. Not part of the time. All. In every room. He is perfect, He is powerful and He loves you with a lavish love.

Those are His terms. Those are His conditions. Oh, the power!

What encourages you to trust God the most: His nature, power or love? Can you thank Him today for being your trustworthy God?

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality, speaker and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?, Espresso Your Faith - 30 Shots of God's Word to Wake You Up, and a book designed to encourage Pastor's Wives (P-Dubs): Join the Insanity. Her new book, Turtles in the Road—coauthored with her daughter Kaley (another UPGRADE blogger)—is releasing soon. Rhonda, a sunny pastor's wife, lives near St. Louis and is "Mom" to five grown children. Find out more at www.RhondaRhea.com.