Thankful Thursday

ThankfulTrees

  • I’m thankful that we safely arrived at our destination, even though roads were icy and foggy, and are able to spend some wonderful quality time with my husband’s family.
  • I’m thankful to be able to take off work and have some time to relax this week.
  • I’m thankful for my coat, hat, and gloves…and for heaters in both cars and houses. All those people who say they’d rather be too cold than too hot (“because you can always put on more layers but can’t take more off”) have never been to Minnesota in January. You know who you are.
  • I’m thankful for such creative and fun-loving sister-in-laws that organized the perfect surprise birthday party for my mother-in-law. And I’m thankful that she was indeed very surprised and had a great time (sorry, no pictures. I was too busy living in the moment).
  • I’m thankful to be able to visit with my sister-in-law Mary before she leaves for a 3 month internship to Mexico!
  • I’m just thankful for family. There are too many little details to name to be thankful for. Each day is a blessing!
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The Dream of God

The beginning of that transformation which is to change the believing man’s nature from the image of sin to the image of God are found in conversion when the man is made a partaker of the divine nature. By regeneration and sanctification, by faith and prayer, by suffering and discipline, by the Word and the Spirit, the work goes on till the dream of God has been realized in the Christian heart. Everything that God does in His ransomed children has as its long-range purpose the final restoration of the divine image in human nature.

                      -A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (emphasis added)

Romans 8 Meets J.R.R. Tolkien

OneRingForgive me while I “nerd out” for a moment.

The first book I finished in 2013 was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I didn’t “review” it because all I could say is: I loved it. Read it. Since reading the book and seeing the newest Hobbit film in theaters, my husband and I have been watching all the old Lord of the Rings trilogy at home – me with a new appreciation for the background. Needless to say, I’ve had Middle Earth on the mind.

Yesterday our pastor preached a sermon titled “Making War on Sin” out of Romans 8:12-17 where he passionately expounded the importance and benefits of what the Puritans referred to as “mortification of sin,” that is, putting sin to death.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13

We are not debtors to the flesh because Christ paid the debt of our sin by his death and resurrection, which we receive by faith and repentance. Paul is saying that my sin is “cancelled,” and the power of “cancelled sin” is broken; therefore, live like that’s true! We confirm our deadness to the flesh and confirm our life in the Spirit by walking according to the Spirit.

“Putting sin to death” may sound extreme and unnecessary especially to unregenerate persons, but even to some Christians. Can’t we just manage sin? Put it in a box? Compartmentalize? Our pastor asked the rhetorical question and I imagined it in the voice of the Joker: “Why so serious?”

And here’s where my mind went wild. The answer is: “Because sin wants to reach its full potential, which is spiritual and physical death.” It’s almost like sin has a mind of it’s own. In fact, it’s very much like a certain ring of power. As he is sending Frodo out on his first adventure to meet him in Bree, the wizard Gandalf gives this solemn warning:

“Always remember, Frodo, the ring is trying to get back to its master. It wants to be found.”

It wants to be found! Our founding pastor used to say this about sin: “It always takes you further than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and charges more than you wanted to pay.” It’s not that sin is sovereign over anything, but that the deception of sin is so “tricksy” it convinces you that you’d be better off following the path of death and destruction.

So many characters in The Lord of the Rings are tempted to use the ring “for good” or to exalt themselves. Gollum, Bilbo, Gandalf, Boromir, Galandriel, Faramir – each one walks themselves through a scenario where they could use the one ring to create a better world for themselves. But it’s all lies. The truth is that the ring is entirely and indestructibly connected to the evil lord Sauron.

This is why the ring must go to Mordor. Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29) Just as the only solution for the ring was to cast into the fires of Mordor, the only solution for sin is to utterly destroy it by the Spirit.

The Gospel Song

By Sovereign Grace Music

I am so excited to introduce this song to our congregation this morning, Lord willing. The song has resonated in my heart since the first time I heard it. Just four little lines, but so packed with truth! I say with Paul – I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

Holy God in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame.
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again!

Be blessed on this LORD’s day!

Oatmeal Banana Cookie Bites

Confession: My husband and I are foodies. We love food, we love to make it and we love to eat it. We like fancy food and most of the time we like foods that are perhaps not the best for you, depending on what kind of health-kick you’re on. We often have heavy whipping cream in the fridge. If the recipe has any form of the word “cheese” (cream cheese, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese) it’s going to be a winner in our book.

So it’s always nice to find something that is both good and good for you. I would not tell you about these if both my husband and I didn’t think they were yummy, and trust me they are. They have no added sugar and are full of good-for-you protein. Thanks to my big sister, Laura, for introducing me to these delights.

Recipe slightly adapted from Slender Kitchen

Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a food processor, pulse the almonds to create almond meal which should be the consistency of sand.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder, almonds, and cinnamon together until well combined.

4. In another mixing bowl, combine your wet ingredients – mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and unsweetened apple sauce.

5. Mix together the dry and wet ingredients until well combined. The dough will be a little moist which is what you want.

6. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop 1/2 tablespoon of dough (bite-sized) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment (or cooking spray) and cook for 14-16 minutes.

Bananacookie1
Bananacookie2
Result: Delicious little bite-sized snacks that you need not feel guilty eating one, or two, or ten. Banana plus the applesauce and dark chocolate is more than enough to satisfy your sweet-tooth. This recipe yielded about 35 bite-sized cookies for me. And they are a lot easier to form with a melon-baller if you have one. Enjoy!!

Web Variety

It seems like it was a “heavy” week out there on the interwebs, but there was so much wisdom and grace in it as well. These are a few articles that really affected my heart:

1. Life Lessons at Thirty – “Loss and tragedy have a way of forcing you out of the carefree, naïve days of childhood whether you’re ready or not.” Kalle Stinson discusses how the glory of Jesus shines in your life through trials and affliction.

2. Should You Abort? – In an open letter to anyone considering abortion, Jessalyn Hutto lovingly and graciously shares her own pain and experience in the loss of her unborn children and begs this person to reconsider.

3. God Came Down – Juanita Stauffer shares the story of the tragic murder of her 14 year old daughter. She shares about fighting bitterness and doubt and how God’s sovereignty brought her peace in her suffering.

On a somewhat lighter note:

4. 10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Leading Worship – I thought this was a good list, especially the one about making assumptions about what your congregation does and doesn’t understand. I still need to work on that.

5. The Secret to Ministry – Paul Tripp has the answer. You’re going to have to read it to find out.

_____________________

The stuff you learn beforehand will never be one-tenth as useful
as the stuff you learn along the way.
Hugh MacLeod

Books

Photo credit: MB Photography

Thankful Thursday

  • I’m thankful to live in a country where the transition from one Presidential administration to another is peaceful and not riddled with riots and war. Thanks to Albert Mohler for helping me recognize this.
  • I’m thankful that this little cough/cold I’ve been fighting hasn’t taken hold and that I’m feeling much better today. I have my singing voice back and that makes a huge difference in my outlook on life!
  • I’m thankful for a husband who loves me well, especially when I’m sick.
  • I’m thankful for Apple’s Facetime that allowed me to see my great grandmother (my mom’s mom’s mom) in Texas this week while she celebrates her 92nd birthday! What a blessing!
  • I’m thankful for God’s word cutting away at my flesh like a two-edged sword.
  • Oh and I’m thankful for the Wendy dog (who clearly still loves her new bed)

wendybed2

(Copying Kim Shay at Upward Call and Persis at Tried With Fire)