Friday, April 18, 2014

John 15:4

"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

I read John 13-17 this week. It recounts Jesus' last supper with the Disciples.

John 15:4 stuck out to me. Jesus asks that we remain with him - loyal, true, faithful to him as he is those things to us. How can we expect to be blessed and have his help if we do not reciprocate the love he has shown to us?

Letting go, and giving God full control of your life is the hardest thing to do. And even once you reach the level of being able to let go, it's also hard to continue to do it because the temptation/human nature is to want to do things ourselves. You may just forget to seek God.

The only way to live John 15:4 is to put God as #1 in your life. Focus on him every day and truly make Him the most important priority. Do that and everything else falls into place. It's a lot easier said than done, and that's the challenge. The good news is the Holy Spirit is there to help.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Being Content with God Providing Our Basic Needs

A Right From the Heart message by Bryant Wright...

"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." - 1 Timothy 6:8

In spite of the recent financial troubles that have run rampant in so many of our lives, somehow we still find the need to have more "things." In our rush to acquire wealth and possessions, shouldn't we be asking ourselves, "Just how much is enough?" Simply put, God's Word tells us: When you see that God is meeting the basic necessities of your life, be content. Be thankful. The apostle Paul says, "Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need."

In other words, the apostle Paul understood. He could be content with little. He could be content with much! Let's learn to follow his example. Because Christianity is most of all a relationship, when we are in a right relationship with God through Christ, one of the many by-products is contentment.

So, as long as the basic necessities of life are being met, be thankful. Everything over and above is just extra blessings!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

God is Always There

One thing I've learned is God is always there. Once you ask the Holy Spirit into your heart, that only makes sense, right?

So that's bad news and good news. On one hand, when you think about the fact that the Holy Spirit is with you while you sin it makes it that much worse. But on the other hand, the Holy Spirit is always there even when you're down and out - you are never doing it alone.

Sometimes it feels like, how am I going to make it? How can we afford to do this? How will we survive that? It feels like we are going through some trial in our lives and it's obvious we have to find a way out ourselves because God is busy with something else - if he was around this bad thing wouldn't be happening, right?

But that's not it at all. God is there. Why do we go through bad things? I think there are several reasons, but here's the biggest two I know of:

1. to make our faith grow stronger and recognize how powerful God is

2. to create experiences that benefit others

Number one is pretty self-explanatory...maybe you are in a dire situation and God opens doors to pull you out of it and you see His hand in it.

I'll expound on number two. Say you are diagnosed with cancer, but you trust God and lean on Him. Then you survive cancer. There may have been someone watching you, maybe (probably) multiple people taking cues from how you acted, and were inspired by your faith. What's more, you now have a connection with anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer...something you didn't have before. God put you through that for the benefit of other people.

God is always there. Even in the little things in life. Instances we come across at work or interactions with people - in all of God's planning he puts people before you, and you can either have a positive influence or a negative one. God is always at work so we have to be at work to seek God's best. It's hard to do, but remembering that he is always there helps remind us to do our best.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Five Blues

I'm into stuff with 'Blue'.

Blue cheese
Blue crab
Blueberries
Blue Moom
The Blues

I'll eat anything with these ingredients. I can't eat Blues music, but it's fun to listen to while eating the blues.

Blue cheese butter - melted butter and blue cheese. That's it. It's is REALLY good on some buffalo wings. I typically make my own blue cheese dressing which is really good, but this is just as good and much easier.

Blue crab - lump crab meat is so good. Crab soup, crab over steak, just eating the crab plain. Whatever, it's so good.

Blueberries are the perfect breakfast treat. Absolutely anything with blueberries in them is where I want to be. Bagels, muffins, coffee, casserole, waffles, syrup, etc. etc. I love blueberries. Blueberry jam is excellent too - having it instead of jelly on a PB&J is delicious.

Blue Moon has always been one of my favorite beers. But they have such a great collection of beers. Spring, summer, fall and winter seasonal beers plus special brews as well. I've had about 10 different kinds and they're all good. The original is still the best, but I've enjoyed them all. I'm hoping for a blueberry Blue Moon soon - I've had their blackberry so I know it's possible!

Blue Cheese & Spinach Bake

This is so good it's unbelievable.

I use a small black skillet....which is about half the size of a regular cast iron skillet.

Blue cheese, spinach and butter - that's all you need.

Heat up some spinach in the skillet over medium heat - about two handfuls. The leaves will wrinkle over the heat (should only take a minute or two), and once they have add 1/2 stick of butter. Then add 1/2 of a container of blue cheese crumbles. Let it mix together and stir it for about two minutes over medium heat...then remove from the heat.

Next, put it into the oven for about 10 minutes - 400 will do.

If you want to, you can put a little sprinkle of cheddar over the top.

It's a great side dish.

Making the Feta Dip (with Pita Mozz) from Kiefers

One thing I miss about living in Jackson, MS is Kiefers. But mostly just because of the Feta dip. I've eaten as several other Greek or Mediterranean restaurants but I haven't had anything else like it. So I set out to see if I could make it, and I came pretty close.

The Pita Mozz is pretty easy. It's basically a grilled cheese (or quesadilla) with pita bread and mozzarella. Just take two pieces of pita bread, rub a little olive oil on them, put a munch of mozzarella cheese in between and cook on a skillet until done.

The feta dip is easy to make, just has a lot of ingredients:

feta cheese (use a container of the crumbles)
sour cream - 1 teaspoon
milk (or heavy cream)- two splashes
mayo - 1 1/2 teaspoons
garlic powder - 1/4 teaspoon
pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
onion powder - 1/4 teaspoon
worstershire - 1/8 teaspoon
olive oil - 1/8 teaspoon
red wine vinegar - 1/8 teaspoon

Dip the Pita Mozz into the feta dip. It's good.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Don't Understand "Christmas"

My wife wanted to put up the Christmas tree the other day, why? Why do we put up a tree?

Why do I have to make a list of stuff I want? Why do I have to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for my family to celebrate Jesus' birthday?

My in-laws save up money all year to have a big Christmas. They spend equal amounts of money on all their kids and grandkids, even me, an in-law. Each Thanksgiving we are supposed to put about five things on a list that we want for Christmas. I struggled to think of anything I would want, and only came up with two things - a stick to scratch my own back with and work pants. My mother-in-law called my wife the other day and asked her what else I might want because they haven't reached the amount of money they were going to spend on me yet.

This is irritating to me. Just give the money to the poor. Give it to the church. Give it to someone who needs it. I do not need anything. I have a home, food to eat every day. Clothes to wear. I have a wonderful wife and a beuatiful baby girl. I've got parents that are still alive and healthy, a couple of brothers, a niece and nephews. I haven't made a bunch of money this year or been able to buy anything that I want, but that doesn't mean I need to get anything for Jesus' birthday.

Santa Claus, and gift-giving, seem to be in competition with the real meaning of Christmas - Jesus Christ.

There's no doubt, we as Americans place more emphasis on giving gifts, and getting gifts, than focusing on Jesus. This is understandable for a casual, or cultural Christian. But for someone who claims to believe, to live their life according to His will....someone like myself, I just can't bring myself to accept what I am doing to Christmas.

What would Jesus do if he were on the Earth today? Would he be buying gifts for his family and friends? Or would he be taking that money and buying gifts for the poor, or donating it to charity or the church? Wouldn't he be more focused on helping others than helping ourselves?

I've got more than enough. I don't need anymore. I've always felt dirty getting gifts on Christmas. I just don't like it. Of course, I married someone whose 'love language' is receiving gifts. But gifts are fine, I just don't like them for Christmas. I don't want to have to make holiday plans around opening them, and put all the emphasis in the month of December around buying them.

When Christmas day is over, what do you have? You spent Christmas Eve celebrating Jesus, but Christmas day celebrating yourself. Did you spend any of December 25th thinking about how God sent his only son to save us? Or did you unwrap a bunch of stuff that you don't need, eat some dinner and fall asleep?

I don't want to be a Scrooge. Just the opposite, I rather celebrate the season by giving to others. I want to turn Christmas around and put the focus on Jesus' goals, not my own.