Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fight the Bites

"But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand."
Acts 28:3

Allow me to give a brief overview of the varying circumstances that occurred before this verse.
Paul was a prisoner.  Over two years earlier, Paul had been arrested by the Romans for "disrupting the peace" in Jerusalem (see Acts 21:26-40).  Felix, who was governor at the time of his arrest, failed to issue a verdict on Paul's case.  Paul finally appealed to Caesar when Festus took Felix's place.  Festus granted Paul's request and sent him to Rome, along with several other prisoners, under the supervision of a centurion named Julius.  On the way Paul forewarned that this voyage would end in disaster but the sailors and soldiers didn't listen.  True to the prophetic word of Paul, a huge storm arose and after battling the elements for 14 days they were finally shipwrecked on a tiny island southwest of Italy called Malta.
Okay, imagine Paul's current circumstances.  He's a prisoner under the hands of the Romans, he was shipwrecked on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and now he's serving!?  Glance back at the verse mentioned above..."But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire,...".  He, being the Christian man that he was, lost himself in service to others.  I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure I would have just plopped on the beach thankful I survived; not really caring about anybody else (I certainly hope I wouldn't but I know my flesh all too well).  I've been swimming in rough water; it takes a lot out of you.  But Paul, as soon as he had caught his breath, picked himself up and gathered sticks out of love and care for those around him. 
Now look at the last part of this verse.  It says, "...a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.".  This verse gives a great example of what might happen while you're serving.  Sometime you may get bitten by a snake, THE snake.  Satan is the snake that tempted Eve in the garden and continues to tempt us to this day.  His bites can be subtle but extremely deadly if not handled properly.  Another snake which we must constantly fight against is our own flesh.  The real question is how will these bites affect you and me?  When the bite of worry or doubt comes do we take it to Jesus?  When the poison of lust or envy enters our mind do we "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ"?  If you continue reading in Acts 28 you see that Paul was unaffected by this bite.  How?  Well, look at what Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18, "And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
These things are humanly impossible but with God all things are possible.  These bites only affect us as much as we let them.

So, when we're bit by a snake in our life (overcome by a certain sin) what do we do?  Do we carry everything to Jesus and let Him take care of it or do we allow the little bites to stop our service to Him?  Satan (and our flesh) would like nothing better then to see us stop serving, stop caring for others.  Don't let the bites take you down.  Let's defeat them in the name of Jesus and show the world what He can do with a Christian who fights the bites and wins!

Learning to delight in Jesus,

All creation sings God's praises!!

Please, please watch this with your whole family!!  A friend of mine showed it to us last night and it was quite powerful!  All creation does indeed praise Him - and He is so worthy!

Learning to delight in Jesus,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book Review: The Heavenly Man

My dad had read this book years ago and when he told me about it I was immediately intrigued.  I always love reading stories of courageous Christians who have gone before.  We finally ordered the book and I have since been inspired, challenged, and convicted by it.

The Heavenly Man tells the story of a young Chinese boy by the name of Liu Zhenying (better
known by his Christian brothers and sisters as Brother Yun).  He was born into a poor farming family in 1958 as the 4th of 5 children in China's Henan Province.  When he was still young his father became very sick with cancer and was told by the doctors that he would soon die.  One night, after trying many unsuccessful ways to heal their father, Liu's mother heard a voice say to her "Jesus loves you".  Immediately she called everyone together and told them to pray to Jesus to heal their father.  The next morning he was found to be much better!  Within a week his cancer was completely gone.  This was the turning point in Brother Yun's family.  He, along with all of his brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, received the knowledge and love of Jesus into their hearts because of this testimony of healing power.  Blessed with the amazing ability to memorize whole books of the Bible in only one month, Yun began preaching and teaching to the people in the surrounding villages- he was 16.  Because of his boldness Brother Yun was soon a target on the enemies radar. I wish I could go into more detail about the persecutions he endured, the many times God miraculously intervened and set him free from the enemies hands, the way of faith that he followed and is still following to this day, etc. but time (and space) does not allow.  Although the PSB (mainland China's "police") tried repeatedly to kill him the Lord brought him through the fiery furnace even stronger than before.  Finally, he, along with is wife and 2 children, were able to escape to Germany (although it took several years of long hard work).  He now assists in operating a ministry called "Back to Jerusalem".  The goal of this ministry is to train and send out Chinese Christians to all the countries east of China to Jerusalem as ministers in some of the darkest regions on earth.  While no longer in his home country, Brother Yun continues to teach and to preach God's Word boldly and passionately.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to draw closer to Jesus.  Because of some graphic descriptions of the torture he repeatedly endured I would not recommend this book for young children.

Learning to delight in Jesus,

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Recipe: Noodle and Chicken Bake

"These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season."
Psalm 104:27

I was planning on writing up a book review but things are busier than I anticipated.  We had a yard sale to do, my cousin's regatta to attend, and hungry men to feed as our kitchen addition started earlier this morning!  Phew!  I hope you enjoy this recipe.  It's easy, yummy, and great for large crowds!  Enjoy!

Noodle and Chicken Bake

3 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk
4 T. butter
4 t. chicken boullion
2 t. dried parsley (or a 1/4 cup fresh)
12 oz. bag of egg noodles
1 large can of chicken (or 1 large chicken breast)
1 cup parmesan

Combine the first 5 ingredients and heat in microwave until hot.  Lay out uncooked noodles in a 9x13 pan and top with chicken.  Pour hot mixture over noodles and chicken.  Cook covered at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.  Then stir in parmesan and cook last 5 minutes uncovered.
Serve with green beans and rolls!

Learning to delight in Jesus,

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Look

"But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!"  Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.  Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."  So Peter went out and wept bitterly."

Luke 22:60-62

I have always paused when I come to this section of Scripture, trying to comprehend what that look must have said.  Can you imagine?!  It must have been full of love, pity, compassion, and yet disappointment.  After 3 years in His presence you would think He would expect something more from His disciples...but He didn't.  He remembered that they were but flesh and prayed for them.  He knew every sinful thought, every evil deed of the past and yet He loved them.  He understood His mission and knew it would have to be accomplished alone.

Just like Jesus loved the disciples with all their sins and weaknesses, so He loves us.  Now, please understand that I am not condoning a sinful lifestyle.  If we call ourselves Christians we should live like Christ.  He calls us to be "holy as He is holy"...that is the ultimate goal.  But what I am saying is that Jesus does not wait for us to be perfect before He saves us.  Jesus lived with sinners, called sinners to be His disciples, and died for sinners.  To this day He continues to use sinners to bring glory and honor to Himself - All Glory to God!

Jesus is right now looking at each one of us.  What does that look say?  Is it saying, "well done, good and faithful servant" or is it warning us that we've strayed off the straight and narrow?  Do Jesus' eyes light up when He sees me or are they dim with sadness because I have chosen something or someone over Him?

During this Resurrection weekend may we dwell on the face of Him who died for us.  May we learn from the look we find there.

Learning to delight in Jesus,