Poem: Don’t You Think That God

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Don’t you think that God

Strips and scatters the leaves,

Brown and withered,

From winter’s tree

So the inner tree can rest–

Awaiting with anticipation the coming buds of spring?

Through winds and weather,

The LORD God takes away

Any unnecessary hindrance,

Leaving the tree

Only bare bark and limbs.

From the outside,

It looks wasteful.

Maybe even heartless and murderous.

Because the tree was ready to stay green

In that place,

Forever. . .

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Its barren arms, arching to the sky,

Once luxuruiously covered in sleek foilage,

Is now a reminder to those passing by

Of the seasons in life.

And God’s ultimate plan.

You see, He has a better vision

For the tree–

For you, for me–

Spring will come. . .the new leaf will unfold. . .

The flower will gloriously bloom,

Again.

(Copyright @ Sislyn Stewart, 2012)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “As far as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55: 8-9, 11 NASB

I’m so glad I can trust in my Heavenly Father to know what’s best for me. . . I just have to trust in His vision, His plan. Do you feel the same?

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn

Lookin’ Up

Funny how the Lord can bring the smallest things across your path to remind you that He’s still in charge, that He’s there, that He loves you. I call these little gifts of His working, “Spirit hugs.” Only God can give you one. . .and you know in an instant it was HE Who did IT. It’s just one of those unexplainable perks He gives believers to build our confidence in His absolute faithfulness.

I was still contemplating the President’s State of the Union address from the other night, when I picked up my Bible. Regardless of your opinion about the political state of our country, we can always to God’s Word for a clear picture.  My Bible reading took me to Luke, 21st chapter. The title of the day’s devotion? “Look Up.” It was a Spirit hug!

Here’s a portion of my Bible reading, which will leave you in a state of hope or perhaps fear of that wonderful day:

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because you redemption draws near. (Luke 21:25-28, NKJV)

 

One only needs to glance at the TV or in a newspaper for what Jesus calls in another passage “the beginning of birth pains.” This stuff is all around us! But it doesn’t have to cause distress and it shouldn’t . . .

Remember in my last Friday’s blog where John Piper outlined a progression of hope? “The Hope of the Gospel. . .leads to Joy of God’s Sure Ending. . .leads to Overflowing Love Outward to the world.”

So take heart, Christian, if this message of this discourages you a bit. Ask the Lord to renew your mind through His truth. It’s in His hands, isn’t it? Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit with the proper reaction to these events. . .

I cannot say any better what Jack Hayford, pastor and Bible teacher, has to say about these verses:

    When Jesus returns to earth, there will be signs of His coming. There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars—ozone depletion, global warming, greenhouse gases. There will be distress among nations—the collapse of communism, Middle East unrest, and crises in international economics. There will be failing of men’s hearts for fear—AIDS, unemployment, collapse of the family. But Jesus said that when all “these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Every generation of Christians, beginning with the first century, have believed that Jesus would return in their lifetime. The headlines in the newspapers change, and the crises facing man continue to grow. But the answer is always the same: “Look up and lift your heads.” The answer for man’s need will never be found in technological breakthrough, political change, or social evolution. Earth’s needs can only be answered by heaven’s resource. So let us keep our eyes heavenward as we continue living for Jesus and loving the world. He is coming back with power and great glory, very soon.

There it is again: HOPE. . .JOY.. . . OVERFLOWING LOVE TO OTHERS. We must keep reminding ourselves to look up and know He’s got it all handled—He, and therefore we who are in Christ, are the victors! Hallelujah!

But for those of you still squirming under anticipation of this Day, God leaves us a little wiggle room. You are allowed to pray for a way of escape. Yep. It says so, in Scripture. If you are counted “worthy,” you may escape “all these things”:

Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36 NKJV)

So child of God, stay steeped in the Word. . .rest in God’s plan. . .and keep lookin’ up.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn

Crockpot Chili

These cold, wet days have put me in the mood for chili, and I’ve been on the look-out for a new recipe. One that is simple, crockpot ready, and not fiery-hot with spices.

I think I found it in the latest edition of Prevention Guide’s Slow Cooker Recipes. It got a two-thumbs-up last night at the dinner table. Enjoy!

Chili

2 tsp olive oil

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14-19 oz) no-salt-added red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp brown sugar

1 ½ tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp salt

¼ cup low-fat sour cream

Few Tbsp shredded Mexican cheese

Cornbread (optional)

Chopped jalapeno peppers (optional)

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, breaking up lumps, until no longer pink about 4 minutes. Cook until beef if browned, about 7 to 8 minutes.

2. Transfer to a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, beans, tomatoes, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cover and cook on high 3 to 3 ½ hours or on low 6 to 7 hours. Top with cheese, sour cream, and serve with cornbread, if desired.

 (4 servings/310 cal/31 gm protein/28 gm carb/8 gm fiber/8 gm fat/2.5 gm sat fat/602 mg sodium)

P.S. You’ll notice the picture above shows a whole bell pepper inside the crock—that’s because I don’t chop bell peppers into anything I cook or dear husband won’t eat it. I cook the whole pepper, let its juices eek out into the dish, then discard the pulp after the cooking time. Easy-peasy.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn