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Thursday, September 18, 2014

suffering

This post is written from the standpoint of a believer in Christ and isn't meant to be interpreted by a believer not in Christ.
It is so refreshing to be shown wisdom from the Holy Spirit.  It seems it has been several years since I have been encourged like this with His Truth.  But then it says "you reap what you sow" and I have not sown time into His Word habitually in the past long time--especially with a truly seeking heart.
Anything and everything that encourages me recently deals with the issue of suffering.  Whether it's Christians suffering because of righteousness' sake, or Christians suffering because it's a Fallen world, or whether it's anybody suffering because it's a Fallen world.  Since we live in this kind of a world, there will be suffering. 
Every story in Scripture includes an aspect of suffering.  All over the New Testament we are warned of suffering.  We are encouraged as believers in Christ to expect suffering. 
I suffer all the time.  Only because I live in such a comfortable place, my sufferings are sufferings of affluence.  That's a good way to put it.  I suffer out of having an abundance of riches and material.  Possessions.  And yet, how do I act when I suffer?   How do I act when I lock the keys in the car.  How do I act when it's hard to get along with those I love?  I don't have any enemies.  Nobody is coming after me because of my beliefs.  My enemies are the people I love--at least, those are the people who are hardest for me to love.  How do I fail at loving those close to me?  And how do I act when I am late for something--totally sinless?  When I wish I worshiped with perfect people instead of people like me--people who don't have it all together and don't even try to enough or who don't have all the 'correct' thoughts about God, when these people aren't enough for me--how do I treat them?  Do I even think about others at church or do I only think about myself?  Am I thankful for my circumstances or just bitter that I can't seem to get everything running smoothly enough.
Consider the interests of others and don't merely look to your own interests.  Regard one another as more important than yourself.
So those are some of the ways I suffer.  And it dawned on me that when I miss those opportunities to put on Christ, then I AM MISSING THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY I HAVE.  Therefore, my blessing is small because a true blessing is being conformed to the image of Christ.
Others who suffer in real ways and are acknowledging Christ and are thankful for their circumstances are being blessed HUGE because this was how Christ suffered.  And it's a lie that this earth is just a fun check in point for Christians because we're saved into heaven and the party is starting now and then we die and go to heaven to party some more.  I don't know how else to put it.  The Bible told us how it all began, how God wanted it, and then how we intervened and then what happened after.  And the Bible tells us what it was like for people who loved God and how it was for Christ.  But now here we are in America and it seems we're kinda beating the odds.  Because life is pretty great.  And we're rich but we're still going to heaven so what was all that "eye of a needle stuff."  Oh well.  Well and there's nothing wrong with being rich, so I'll just share some of my stuff and then I'll really be safe.  And treat others nicely. 
If that's being a missionary to America and that's what God means for my Christian life then there's too much missing in my theology and I'm not buying it.
So one thing I'm getting at is that I cannot complain about suffering in the world of any sort until I in my own suffering allow the Spirit to produce Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Love, and Self-control.  If I don't exhibit the evidence of the Spirit in my life in this way, it's not that I don't deserve to pray to God with anguish about this world, it's that I obviously don't understand this worldI don't understand what place suffering has in this world for Christians or for any "deemed innocent."  But when I read His Word and really count on it for truth that stuff just instinctively to my Spirit seems in line.  Not that God initially ever wanted any of His Creation to suffer but that we set it up that way.  And what God is doing about it in love is that He is using the outcomes to work together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  I will trust Him in this instead of using my senses to come to a different conclusion which is only natural and caused the pain in the first place.  I believe that.  The pain is coming from reaching our own conclusions instead of trusting in God's Word.  And I cannot exempt myself from being part of the Problem.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

old news but still Good News

The Lord has been teaching me things!  Or I could say He has been clearing up my mind.  I've been suspicious that the Christian life--my life--should look very different than it does.  The lives of those who love God who are in His Scripture are depicted so differently.
As I have been reading (not recently) The Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford, it became my suspicion that the Christian life (the eternal life) begins (after salvation) by changing the mind to what the Lord wills.  Then after the mind is changed the life is changed.  For example, "fixing your eyes on Jesus, setting your mind on things above, have this mind in you...."
The other day I read in Ephesians about "don't walk as the Gentiles walk" and I realized this was the Bible addressing my very concern.  And it goes on to say don't walk as they do "in the futility of their mind, in their ignorance, and with their hard hearts."  Gentiles are walking according to their physical senses or even their gut responses or instincts but Christians walk according to faith.  My faith may be ignorant if all I know is that I'm going to heaven and then I won't know how to live before that.  That was my problem and now I have been trying to learn about what is true about this abundant life Christ has given me.  It's not enough that His life is true after I die, I want to see how it is true while I am here for this short time.  So I need to walk with an eternal mindset which isn't natural but I rely on faith and facts in God's Word.  And I need to keep learning or I won't grow.  Finally, I need to keep a soft heart which isn't pride.
Then in church on Sunday, the Lord addressed my heart again about the issue of struggling in the world. 
I had felt like America is just so difficult as a Christian because it's so materialistic, wealthy, and easy.  What shall we be thankful for--ease and wealth?  No, because those things don't bring us closer to the Lord.  Blessings are what we should be thankful for and those are things that are eternal.  They are things that Christ was living for.  All over in the New Testament, it is clear and obvious that TRIBULATIONS, TRIALS, and suffering are what we should expect and be thankful for.  They unite us with the way Christ lived.  But am I supposed to move to another country so it's easier for me to be a Christian?  At this point, I am convinced I am to live in America where I am and be a set apart believer here. 

Now it gets kind of hard to tie everything together, so I'll make it more bullet-pointly.

Lies easy for me to believe and live if I am not reading and trusting the Bible:
  • the meaning of life is that things are easy
  • Jesus who is God didn't really and truly suffer everything
  • Scripture doesn't really show us exactly how to live
  • I haven't sinned enough to explain the world's or other Christians' present anguish
  • Sin is small and so is the weight of the Garden
-Paul is content in every circumstance, which means even the wealthy and comfortable circumstances.  I just need to repent of trusting in the ease rather than finding my identity with Christ.  And how do I know if I am trusting in comfort or trusting in Christ?  When the smallest of upsets occur how do I act--with a proud heart or anger which is evidence of a futile mind or with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control which are evidence of an eternal mindset? 
-I need to take responsibility for the suffering in the world if I am conceited, wicked, self-entitled, or proud.  
There hasn't been ANY suffering that I have PRAISED GOD FOR.  But those who walk with an eternal mindset praise God for their trials.  For example, Corrie and Betsy Ten-boom who learned to thank God for fleas in concentration camps that hosted them.  They didn't know why they should thank God for fleas but did and found out later that the Gospel was spread because the soldiers didn't want to come into the fleas' quarters.  
-God uses ALL CIRCUMSTANCES to bless us (to make us more like Jesus/comform us to the image of His Son).  If this is the true meaning of life, it is going to be hard.
-I repent of the wealth, ease, and comfort and take up Christ's identity as my own so that when things crumble as I see it, others will see the fruit of the Spirit instead of the evidence of a futile mind.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Some recipes that have been rocking our world:
Happy Herbivore's Everyday Mushroom Gravy (apparently a video recipe by Lindsey here http://happyherbivore.com/2013/11/vegan-plant-based-thanksgiving-recipes/)
We have put this on rice or vegetables or both (like on potatoes or green beans or broccoli and rice). 
It is water-based and only has a little bit of alternative milk (since we're "watching our weight") and uses almost a POUND OF MUSHROOMS....

Also, something's magical about this green salad:
Sliced romaine hearts (2)
1/2 bag (~6?oz) spring mix
any vegetables. we like a small head of broccoli, one pepper, tomatoes
optional: dried cranberries, chopped nuts
Anyway, then you dust it heavily with nutritional yeast, give it a good sprinkle of seasoned rice vinegar, salt and pepper it and it's SO good.  Oh and some onion and garlic powder. Magical, like I said.

When I'm just cooking for me and the boy, I often just make a humongous batch of rice (3 C. dry to 3.5 C water, soak it first) and prepare some frozen vegetables to go with it.  We love peas.  And corn, my goodness.  I sprinkle a small amount of rice vinegar on my corn before microwaving it and add salt and pepper.  It tastes delicious and I have no idea why.

Corn on the cob is in season too, so that's a great idea.

Small red potatoes and squash and zucchini are great.  That was inspired by my SILster, Nicole.

Stuffed squash is on the docket.  It's my "Mom"s recipe.  Take out the squash insides and replace with rice, whole wheat bread crumbs, diced tomatoes, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder....I think that's about it.  You can really put in anything you want--mushrooms.  Then bake it at about 350 until the squashes are ever so tender.

Tonight, I'm going to make rice and cauliflower with corn and serve it with the mushroom sauce.

Here's some things I really want to make once we can afford to eat it:
Spaghetti Squash with thai peanut sauce
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
Pasta with Butternut "Parmesan" Sauce
slow-cooked Stuffed Bell Peppers (minus the cheese)
peanut butter chocolate chip Cookie Dough bites
I found these ideas at www.takethemameal.com and I'm going to copy them but not use any oil or dairy and instead use Happy Herbivore's recipes.....so I'll be changing them quite a bit and hopefully post my results.