The Root of the Matter

When we feel unloved, worthless, rejected; we often believe it’s because we are unlovable and worthy of rejection. Of course, those are lies, as revealed in God’s Word.

But I think the deeper lie is nestled in who we think we are as compared to how others treat us.

The lure of Satan and the flesh is believing that we will be like God – that we should be lifted high because we are mighty. Our insecurities lie in the anger we have because others don’t treat us the way we think they ought.

Fear, for example, comes about because of lack of control. Same with anger.

A child who is raised by parents who abuse (physically, emotionally, verbally) will easily grow up fearing everyone, unable to trust; that fear may manifest as anger. That child’s first interest is self-preservation. Children learn some pretty kooky ways to protect themselves. Sometimes they get smart-alecky. Sometimes they crawl inside themselves and are very quiet. Sometimes they become bullies. Sometimes they become extra nice/giving. Sometimes they turn to substance abuse, or fornication. Sometimes they become murderers. Sometimes they learn to act just like everyone else so they can blend in. Each person carves out their own safe zone, however they think will work best for them.

But the real root is self. No matter how a person is treated, we are responsible for our own actions, attitudes, words, and emotions. We may point to a horrible childhood and excuse horrible behavior. But the root of it is a person feeling that they deserve better, and they’re doing whatever they know how to get there.

Consider a person who was raised in a wealthy family, even a loving wealthy family. As he grows, he is showered with everything he wants. Is he satisfied? No. Flesh always demands more: more respect, more love, more power. Look at Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. Look at King Saul. Look at Haman in the book of Esther.

In a “perfect” fleshly world, everyone would treat us with love and respect all the time. If they didn’t, they would be struck with guilt and apologize all over the place to us. We like to think we would never have to apologize to anyone because we never do anything wrong. But, if we did make a mistake, we just know, because everyone is so nice, that we would be forgiven and our wrong forgotten. Then, we think, we would be happy and have a great self-image and be nice to everyone. What we really want, in our flesh, is complete control over everything. THEN, we think, everything would be alright. Of course, there can be no perfect fleshly world because we always would want more than what we get. (Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world, and wanted more than they had.)

Flesh is flesh, no matter how it is raised. And flesh will always sin in the climb to obtain what it desires most – to become like God in its own efforts.

May I submit that negative thoughts are sin.

I imagine Jesus (as much as my human mind is able): Someone rushes past Him in a hurry, knocks Him aside, and doesn’t apologize. Or someone hurls cruel words at Him (as they indeed did); or as a child He makes a mistake and that nail goes in crooked. I don’t believe He berated Himself or others, even in His mind. Because He was God, He was able to take every thought captive, able to continually set His mind on things above. I don’t believe He had negative thoughts, because He never sinned.

As contrary to flesh as this appears, God is the answer – the only answer. He created us, He knows our flesh, and He designed us to desire Him above all. When we live outside that design, we become miserable and tend to blame everything outside of ourselves, and we get mad at ourselves when we’re not perfect.

So I think the answer to people with low self-images, or who think they are unimportant or worthless; I think the answer is not to build them up and try to talk them into believing that they really are worthy (worthy of whatever – love from people or love from God). I think the answer is in digging down deep and realizing what sinful flesh resides in us; in understanding that I am indeed a sinner and that I don’t like to think that about myself. That others are also sinners, and everyone hurts everyone else – I hurt people, too.

This is sin to be confessed. People must realize, confess, and repent of sin.

If fear or anger result from lack of control, we must give up our right to control, and trust God: He is the One Who controls it all, anyway. You are not on top of the totem pole, not the CEO, not the VIP: God always is. Trust that God is in control, and that He has your best interests at heart. Rest deeply in God. Give it to Him. If you don’t trust God, confess that sin of unbelief.

The whole point is to point people to God – it’s all in His Word. We MUST understand and believe that we are as dust. We must understand that our flesh is evil (Jeremiah 17.9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?). We must confess that before God. All our self-loathing comes from trying to deny the fact that we are sinners, and from not accepting / believing that God pursues us and woos us because He loves us so much, and that He forgives us because He wants us to have His Peace.

What – a loathsome sinner like me? He loves ME? Believe it.

He will forgive ME? Yes!

1 John 1.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

HE is the faithful One! HE is the perfect One. HE is the One who can and will cleanse us and set us free.

Do not fall into the sin of unbelief. If God says He loves you and that you are precious to Him (you can read a little about that here) – then BELIEVE it! 😁 Do not doubt God Almighty.

We must live in complete dependence on Jesus Christ. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15.5). Give up the false notion that you can do it yourself.

If you want to know more about yourself, read God’s Word.

If you want to feel better about yourself, read the passages about how much God loves you.

But be sure to read the passages that show what a sinner you are, too, because that’s how much you need Him.

When you have these negative thoughts, these vain imaginations, substitute with words of praise, and the Word of God. Here are some passages for you:

God gives us the whole Truth in His Word. It’s important to know the whole Truth, because it’s that Truth that will set you free. John 8.31, 32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Ephesians 3.14-19 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

2 Corinthians 10. 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Romans 8. 13For 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. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.

A note of thanks to Stu and his postings derived from the “Get Out of Your Head” series by Jennie Allen, which inspired this post

Recipe Friday: Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

Soups are so flexible because you can throw almost anything in: left-overs, the bottom of that old jar of herbs or spices, the tail ends of veggies, etc. I had some left-over potatoes and gravy from our pot roast, and threw that in. If you have been saving ends  of onions, celery, and carrots, you can throw them in, too: be sure clean them first, and fish them back out before you serve.

This soup can easily be made on the stovetop. Allow it to simmer for about 2 ½ hours total.

This would be good with a can of diced tomatoes in it; but my husband doesn’t like tomatoes.

I make my own bone broth and use that for the broth. Read more about the health benefits of bone broth here and here.

I like to cook my meat and veggies separately because the veggies get mushy if you cook them for as long as you need to cook the meat. But if you don’t mind the mushiness, you can throw everything in at the same time and pressure cook for 30 minutes total. Still use the natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes, though, so your meat doesn’t toughen up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb beef stew pieces
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • ½ cup red cooking wine
  • 2 cups coffee
  • 3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbs tamari (soy sauce that’s really soy)
  • ¼  tsp liquid smoke (if that’s to your fancy)
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup sliced or chopped mushrooms
  • 4 cups beef bone broth
  • 1 tsp thyme or basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 cup instant barley
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Directions:

Turn the Instant Pot to sauté.  Heat the oil, then brown the stew meat (salt and pepper the meat). Remove the stew meat to a bowl. (If desired/needed, cut the meat into bite-size pieces.)

Add the chopped onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and cook until browned (add salt and pepper as desired). Remove to a separate bowl.

Add the wine to the pot and scrape the fond up.

Add the browned meat back into the pot.

Pour in the coffee, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, and liquid smoke.

Tighten the lid and cook at pressure for 15 minutes. Natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the pressure.

Cancel, and turn to sauté.

Take off the lid. Add in the veggies (onion, celery, and carrots), mushrooms, garlic, tomato paste, bone broth, thyme, bay leaf, and barley. Stir well.

Cancel, and turn to meat/stew pressure for 5 minutes.

Cancel and natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the pressure.

Remove the lid, and take out the bay leaf.

Turn to sauté. Stir in the peas and cook until the soup is hot.

Taste test and add salt, pepper, more broth, or whatever else you like (like the left-over potatoes and gravy).

Serve with a salad and some crusty bread.

Recipe Friday: Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

As usual, I don’t measure stuff when I’m cooking. I put this all together, and then wrote down the amounts I thought might be accurate. Use whatever you have on hand.

There was an issue, when it was done and served, of clarified butter puddling on the bottom.

I considered cutting the butter amount in half for the recipe; but we liked the taste (and texture) of the dish so much that I’m keeping it as-is. The butter melded into the creaminess of the sauce and potatoes eventually, as it cooled.

I used red potatoes, which hold their shape and texture well with longer cooking times.

My husband and I both had seconds of this dish, we liked it so well. I recommend against seconds, though; it’s pretty filling.

One more note: After we finished eating, I kept having flashes of nutmeg, almost in my mouth. So I think maybe a dash of nutmeg in this dish might be good.

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 90 min

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 extra large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8-10 oz fully cooked ham, cut to bite-size pieces (this was four, thick, maybe 3”x4” slabs of ham)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 T flour
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Put the sliced potatoes, onions, and ham into a large bowl. Salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter and cream cheese, whisking together. (It’s a little clumpy.)

Whisk in the milk and heat to simmering.

Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. If it gets too thick, add more milk.

Whisk in the Parmesan cheese. Pour the cheese mixture over the ingredients in the bowl (potatoes, onion, and ham); stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×11” (or similar) baking dish. Cover with foil.

Bake at 375° for 70 minutes. Uncover, turn the oven to 325°, and continue to bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot, with a vegetable and/or salad.

God’s Light

Genesis 1.1-4 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

1 John 1.5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

God is pre-existent, from eternity past to eternity future. As humans, we cannot have a correct concept of eternity, not having been existent before we were born.

We cannot have a correct concept of light, either. God created the heaven and the earth, and there was darkness. He created light. It’s not that God created light for Himself, because He is light. No, God created light for us.

Maybe, when Adam and Eve were created, and perfect in the Garden, maybe they could see God’s light. Maybe their bodies were shimmering with light. Maybe that’s why, when they sinned, they were able to see that they were naked: their own light had darkened, and they were ashamed. And their eyes were darkened, and they couldn’t see God’s light any more.

God knew from eternity past that He would create us, and that we would sin. He knew that we would not be able to see His light, that we would need the light that He created for us.

He knew what we would need to live on earth, while we waited for eternity with Him. He provided everything.

All of creation cries out with God’s handiwork. All of this He did for us, an outpouring of His tenderloving care for us. It’s not just the light that He prepared. He also prepared a way for us to see His light again:

John 8.12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus is our light (because He is God, and God is light) and our salvation.

Today may we celebrate the light God gives us through His Son, Jesus Christ. May we celebrate His light we have in our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Above all, may we celebrate God, Himself, Who is worthy of all praise and adoration!

Recipe Friday: Kathy’s Instant Pot Chicken & Dumplings

This is a comforting, stick-to-your-ribs dinner. It’s also time-consuming, so pick a day when you really feel like cooking, and want to bless your family. You’ll want to plan ahead and make sure you have all the ingredients at-the-ready before you begin. Plan 3 to 3 ½ hours from start to finish.

This serves 3 with generous portions.

I started with frozen chicken breasts, bone-in. Because they were bone-in, I didn’t want to try to separate the meat from the bone until after they were cooked. If you have boneless chicken breasts, you can skip the first step, and just put in the raw, cut-up meat. Similarly, if you’re using left-over chicken, skip the first step.

Because my bone broth is concentrated, I used water and wine to supplement the amount of liquid. For extra nutrition, whisk a big scoop of collagen powder into the liquid.

The peas are optional. In our house, the peas only go into my bowl. 😉

Here is the complete list of ingredients. They are listed again later, separately, to show where in the recipe to add them.

Into the Instant Pot insert, put:

  • 3 large frozen, bone-in chicken breasts
  • 2 cups chicken bone broth

Close the lid, set to Seal, and cook 10 min at pressure. Allow 10 min natural pressure release, then release pressure and open the lid. Push Cancel.

Remove the chicken to a plate and allow to cool.

Pour out the liquid into a 2-cup measuring cup.

While the chicken is cooling, set the Instant Pot to Sauté and start in on the next set of ingredients:  

  • 4 T Butter
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut to bite-size chunks
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut to bite-size chunks
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp thyme or rosemary (or both)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Add the butter and olive oil; allow butter to melt.

Add the onion and celery, and sauté only 3-4 minutes.

Add the carrots, potatoes, garlic, mushrooms, thyme/rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir.

Separate the cooled chicken from the bones. Cut the chicken into strips or bite-size pieces. Add the chicken to the Instant Pot.

Add back all but ½ cup of the cooking liquid (keep that ½ cup broth in that cup; you’ll use it for the dumplings). Stir.

NOTE: If you don’t have at least 1 ½ cups of liquid in the pot, add water until you do.

Cook 15 minutes at pressure. Allow 10 minutes natural pressure release, then release the rest of the pressure and carefully open the lid. Push Cancel.

Next ingredient set:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 Tbs softened cream cheese OR ½ cup heavy cream

Stir in the ½ cup water, ½ cup white wine, and 2 Tbs cream cheese (or heavy cream).

Set the Instant Pot to Sauté.

While the cream cheese is melting, mix the dumplings (This made 6 medium-size dumplings.):

  • ½ cup broth from cooked chicken mixture
  • (If your broth isn’t very salty, you’ll want to add a bit of salt to the dough.)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Tbs butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

In that 2-cup measuring cup with the ½ cup broth left in it: mix the dumpling dough together.

Stir the chicken mixture, making sure the cream cheese is blended in.

Drop dumpling dough by spoonfuls onto the top of the chicken mixture. DO NOT mix the dumplings into the liquid; leave them on top.

Replace the Instant Pot lid, but do not tighten or seal it. Cook, on Sauté, for 15-20 minutes. On my Pot, the Sauté function gets the mixture to a rolling boil. I let it boil for 8 minutes, then turned it off to cook the rest of the time, still with the lid on. (Alternately, you can seal the lid and cook at pressure for 10 minutes.)

Open the lid and check the thickness of the liquid. If you like, you can thicken with 2 Tbs flour:

GRAVY (optional):

  • 2 Tbs flour, mixed as a slurry with water or broth

First carefully remove the dumplings to a bowl or plate and keep warm.

Stir the flour slurry into the chicken mixture and allow to boil for at least two minutes.

If you like, add the frozen peas at this point, mix in and allow to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Replace the dumplings on top of the chicken mixture, or serve them from the separate plate/bowl.

This is the pot after 2 servings were taken out.

Promises and Peace in and of the Trinity

I love how God reveals Himself to us. We are but poor, frail humans, with limited understanding. But God is abundant and gracious in His teachings, parables, examples, and love.

I was thinking about Jesus as He hung on the cross, with the two thieves next to Him. One of the thieves reviled Him; but the other thief asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23.43) I’ve often wondered how that worked. I know that Jesus speaks only truth. I also know Jesus died that day, went to hell to pay for my sins, and rose again the third day. How could He be in paradise that day, but also go to hell? Of course, it’s because Jesus is God. God is always in paradise; and Jesus is God. The repentant thief could join God in paradise because he accepted that God had sent a Saviour in Jesus, and that He paid the price for his sins.

Like in Matthew 18.20: For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Jesus spoke to them while in His physical body. When we pray in His name, He is not here physically, but His Spirit is here. Jesus and the Spirit and God are all the same. Here they are / here He is.

In John 8.56, Jesus told the Jews “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” The Jews didn’t get it: Jesus was too young to have known Abraham. But Abraham knew Jesus, and rejoiced for the day He would come because Abraham knew God. Jesus was right there: John 8.58: Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Jesus has been God, has been with God (and with the Holy Spirit) for eternity past, and will be for eternity future.

I get immeasurable comfort and peace from God, from knowing God, from reading His Word. And that’s what God wants for us – it’s why He offers it to us. Do you, too, delight to abide in the truth of God’s presence, His Word, His Trinity?

A few more Trinity verses (of the many that God gives us):

Hebrews 9.14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Ephesians 2.18 (speaking of Christ) For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

John 14.16 (Jesus is speaking) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14.26 (Jesus is speaking) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.

John 15.26 (Jesus is speaking) But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Matthew 28.18, 19 (Jesus, after His resurrection) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

2 Corinthians 13.14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

1 John 3.21-24 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, and we will receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and we should love one another just as He commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments remains in God, and God in him. And by this we know that He remains in us: by the Spirit He has given us.

1 John 4.2 By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God