Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tasty Tuesday on a Wednesday

"A hot dog at the ball park is better than steak at the Ritz."  ~ Humphrey Bogart

When a holiday falls on a Monday and everyone is home from work & school, the whole week gets pushed back a day.  At least, it does for me!  This is why I could never work from home - I'm not nearly disciplined enough to keep on schedule!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend - the weather was gorgeous here in northern NJ!  For our family it was the first time in over a decade that we didn't spend the entire weekend on a softball field.  It was a little strange, I will admit.  All these years I thought we were missing something by always being on the road, but now I know: the holiday, as with any holiday, is what you make it.  Softball tournaments were weekends spent together as a family, cheering on the team (our extended family).   This year, we stayed close to home, went for a walk in a nearby park, tackled a few outdoor projects, played & relaxed.  It was the 'unofficial' kick off to summer.  I guess they call it 'unofficial' because around here the kids still have a month of school and the weather & water isn't nearly nice enough to call it summer.  Where I grew up - south central PA - Memorial Day is the official start of summer.  The pools are open, people are headed to the beach, and school is finished in about a week.  It's amazing how different the same holiday feels based on where I live & my stage of life.

One thing about the long weekend that doesn't change is the cookouts!  (It's Tasty Tuesday, you knew I was going to bring food into it.)  For some people the debate is what to grill: chicken, steak, hamburgers, hot dogs?  But where I come from, almost everyone eats hot dogs, so the debate is: what do you take on your hot dog?  The answers are as varied as the  people you ask!  And maybe it offers a little insight into a person's personality...

Me? It depends... I like my hot dogs several different ways, depending on what's offered, the season, the setting, and what kind of hot dog it is.  I know what you're thinking: hot dogs really shouldn't be that complicated.  Here's the run down, in case you ever need to get me a hot dog!

1) I prefer Sechrist Old Fashioned Smoked Franks found in York County grocery stores or directly from Sechrist Brothers Meats in Dallastown.  Click here to understand that this is NOT a brat, sausage, or manufactured hot dog!  On these franks, yellow mustard is all you need, if you need anything.  And they are best when made on the grill!

2) At a picnic with "regular" hot dogs and the "regular" offering of toppings, I like all the fixin's except mined onion.  Pile it high with ketchup, yellow mustard & sweet pickle relish!

3) There's sauerkraut?!  Yes!  Squirt a little yellow mustard and then pile on the kraut!  This is especially good at football games or autumn cookouts!

4) Now, if I'm visiting my parents and my dad gets a hankering for texas hot weiners (invented in PA), we go to The Famous!  The original restaurant dates back to 1923, and even though they've grown to 3 locations, they hold on to old fashioned service & value.  If you plan to visit, note that none of their locations are open on Sunday.  Order your famous hot weiner with everything: it's split down the middle and cooked on a flat griddle, then topped with yellow mustard, Famous chili sauce and chopped (minced) onion!  Even though I don't normally take onion on my dog, I do if it's a hot weiner!

5) Chicago Dogs are a whole different breed of hot dog!  My parents spent a few years in Chicagoland and of course my dad's love for hot dogs led them to Portillo's.  It was here that I picked up my taste for toppings like chopped cucumber, fresh tomato, and a dill pickle spear!  Here's a picture of my version of a Chicago-style dog from this weekend: ketchup, yellow mustard, chopped cucumber, dill pickle spear and fresh tomato.

No hot dog is worth eating, however, if it's on an inferior bun!  My choice is always Martin's potato rolls!  The Chicago dog is usually served on a steamed poppy seed bun, which is hard to find around here, but worth it if you can!

Did you ever think there were so many ways to top a hot dog?!  And I didn't even include my youngest daughter's favorite: the corn dog on a stick!

So, whether you like Ball Park, turkey franks, Sechrist, or veggie dogs there's as many ways to eat them as there are people who eat them!

I can't wait to hear how you take your hot dog!  What does it say about you?
I hope mine says that I'm flexible and enjoy variety, with high quality and good values!

Click here to go to the blog if you're reading this in your e-mail.  Leave a comment about your hot dog preferences!!

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."  ~ Lewis Grizzard

This rain is exactly what my garden needs!  Sunny days are essential, but every once in a while it's nice to have mother nature give my plants a thorough wetting.  I think the vegetables & flowers must feel the difference between being watered with a can and a nice rain, like we know the difference between water filtered through a Brita pitcher and a drink straight from a natural spring!

There's nothing quite like delicious produce from your own garden!  Whether your crop of choice is flowers, fruits, vegetables, or a little of each, growing a garden is a thing of beauty and bounty.  I can remember my mom planting a garden over the spot where the drain field used to be.  That soil was rich and the plants grew out of control.  The best was the tomatoes!  I lived on tomato sandwiches all summer.  If you haven't harvested your own tomato for your sandwich, you are missing something delicious.  Even the best grocery store tomatoes taste bland in comparison.

There was other produce and my dad planted some fruit trees (which sadly the birds got to before we could), but we always had something growing at our house during spring & summer.  I suspect my mom got her gardening acumen from her grandparents.  Grandma Wellmann lived in the city, but she had a successful little garden.  And Grandma & Pappy Fortney (at least when I knew them) lived in the 'burbs with a little garden and lots of flowers!  Always red geraniums in window boxes at the front of the house.  This love for beautiful flowers and homegrown food was passed on to me and so was the green thumb!

I have had various kinds of gardens in my homes.  A terraced garden filled with vegetables & strawberries and a "kitchen garden" overflowing with herbs at the old farm house.  A big vegetable garden of watermelons,  pumpkins, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, pole beans, and sunflowers all fed with home made compost and harvested by little hands at the split-level.  Ever pick and eat a sugar snap pea while standing in the garden?  "Yum" doesn't quite cover it!  Even red beets & carrots in a small urban garden in Ontario!

Alas, our last move brought us to a yard filled with rocks, so I've been confined to containers for the past 8 summers.  My success with container gardening has improved, but it is limited to flowers & herbs.  Both of which I love, but I miss garden tomatoes & veggies (those things were always a big fail in the pots).  So this year I decided to build a small raised bed and planted 2 kinds of tomatoes with marigolds for protection, bush beans, and cucumbers!  I cannot wait to eat that first tomato sandwich!   My pots are filled with beautiful flowers, including a few red geraniums and edible flowers like pansy and lavender (which already smells divine).  Of course, I may have to fend off Peter Rabbit and his friends, but that's part of the challenge and the charm of growing food!  Here's a picture of the newly planted garden.

I have the cutest little garden intern!  She loves to garden as much as I do and was very helpful in choosing and planting the flowers & veggies.  Eager to learn, not afraid to experiment with color, and loves to get dirty: excellent qualities for a gardener in training!

How does your garden grow?  And since this is Tasty Tuesday, share your favorite homegrown treat, even if it's not something you personally grew.

Your Partner in Ministry (and green thumb),

P.S. If you've not had a drink from a natural spring, I know of one and will direct you to it.  Just let me know in the comments.  

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, May 18, 2015

ReAwakening 3 John 1-2

"Dear friend, you are doing a good work for God when you take care of the traveling teachers who are passing through, even though they are strangers to you."  3 John 1:5

I am so glad you are here today.  Welcome!  Kick your shoes off and have have a cup of tea with me.  I wish you all were knocking on my door right now.  But since you'll most likely be reading this at different times (even on different days), let's imagine that we are all just stopping by to chat, right here on the blog.  Our virtual living room :)

So, today I read 3 John.  It's a nice letter to Gaius, a friend of John's, who has been very kind in hosting traveling teachers.  He opens his home to them, showing them hospitality and friendship, even though they are strangers to him.  This kindness has gotten back to John and he was so moved, that he wrote a letter to his friend commending and encouraging him in continuing to do good.  John also mentions Diotrephes, who apparently is doing the exact opposite!  And lets Gaius know that he should not be influenced by this bad example, even though Diotrephes is a leader within a church.

Hospitality is one of the lessons we can take away from this reading.  But, today I am led to something else.

This exchange got me to thinking...  How often do I wonder if I'm doing the right thing, especially when I know of a leader or successful someone, doing the opposite.  It raises a lot of questions, maybe some over thinking and doubt.  What a blessing it is when a confirmation of what I'm doing comes along.  Sometimes it's in a note, a piece of Scripture, a brief exchange with a friend, a thank you from a stranger, or an affirmation from a loved one.  I don't do good works for the praise or applause, but it's nice to know I'm on the right track.  When these moments occur, I hear God's voice in them.  I hear His reassurance when He knows I am in doubt.

Stop and think for a minute....
Have you ever received encouragement at just the right time?
Has anyone ever said to you, "I really needed to hear that!"?
I don't know about you, but I think those are times when the Holy Spirit moves us to encourage others.  We are called to live in community with one another, love each other (John mentions this again) and support the church.  John tells us, "Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God's children."  3 John 11, in part.  The proof is in the fact that we do these good works out of gratitude and love, not as a way of racking up points to earn our way into the Kingdom.

Do you recall a time when you received encouragement at just the right time?  I'd love to hear about it over a cup of tea!  Post it in the comments and I'll comment back.  We all need encouragement at times.  The best place to get it is through the Word of God; Scripture always encourages us to do good.  But, it is comforting to hear it from others, through the working of the Holy Spirit.

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"No joy is complete unless it is shared."  Amish Proverb

It's Tuesday!  Yum!

Last summer we did a read-along, Amish Values for Your Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  It's a great book and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.  I've read it twice and will probably read it again.  It's one of those books that entertains and teaches, but it takes a few readings to absorb it all.  The quote at the beginning is from the book: each chapter starts with an Amish Proverb.  It's no surprise that many of them are rephrased Biblical ideas.  Some of them are downright funny, in a 'told you so' kind of way.  The Amish do not lack a sense of humor.  Nor good taste - especially when it comes to food!

Growing up in York County, PA I was exposed to the Mennonite and Amish culture, mostly through their food at Central Market, though it has changed a lot over the last 30 years.  It's said that one of the best ways to get to know a culture is through it's food.  Their baked goods were, of course, one of my favorites.  They made the best pies and breads!  Occasionally we had the opportunity to make our own Amish bread.   My mom would receive an Amish Friendship Bread starter from a friend - back in the day, it was kind of like a chain letter for adults.  It was great the first time, often friends were happy to receive a starter or even asked for one.  But eventually it was hard to give away because everyone already had one or two themselves.  We didn't know what else to do with it, so we usually just tossed it once we were tired of making Amish Friendship Bread.  It was good, but enough is enough.

The idea behind Amish Friendship Bread is the sharing.  A sourdough starter takes time and nurturing, though it's not a difficult thing to do.  But, when you share the bounty of your kitchen you are also sharing the love and nurturing you've put into that starter.  It really is a wonderful gift!

I never knew what to do with any extra starters I had, so there have been times I've had a dozen bags of sourdough sitting in my kitchen!  Can you imagine!?  I'm not good with math, but each one would eventually divide into 4 - wow!  That's a lot of bread!  Too much, I'm afraid.  I could have opened a road-side stand with all that bread.  But I didn't.

Fast forward to the summer of 2014 when my mom brought me an Amish Friendship Bread (AFB) starter.  She actually brought a few that were ready to be made into bread, so we spent the day making different flavors  - I never knew this could be done!  Exciting!  But now I have several starters and I'm leaving in a few days for a week in Colorado.  The nurturing and baking would fall to my husband, son, and youngest daughter.  They did it, though they forgot to adjust the oven temperature and they didn't check for doneness.  Once cooled they wrapped them and popped them in the freezer!  AFB freezes well.  But, when I defrosted them they were raw in the middle.  Oh no!  We ate the ends and tossed the rest.

At my wits end with all the starters (left over from their baking) I consulted Google!  Thank goodness for the Internet and Darien Gee!  I found her website,  Friendship Bread Kitchen, and I no longer have a love/hate relationship with AFB.  It's an adventure!  I'm happy to say I have several bags of AFB starters in my freezer.  Yes - you can freeze the starter!  I never knew this before and I can't tell you how it changed my life.  To have a sourdough starter ready and waiting is brilliant!  Should I ever run out, she even has a recipe to start it from scratch.

I have tried just a few of the hundreds of recipes on the site; you can make just about any baked good with this stuff!  It's amazing!!   But my love for chocolate and cherries is met in a most delicious way in Chocolate Chip Cherry AFB !  Click the recipe name to get the recipe!  I made one regular sized loaf pan and split the remainder into mini loaf pans.  My original thought was so that I could have a little something on hand to pull out of the freezer if I needed it.  However, after devouring the regular sized loaf, I realized that the mini loaf is probably a better size.  I can eat the whole thing and not feel too guilty!  LOL!

Check out Darien's website by clicking the link above or on the "Inspiration" side bar!

If you had 4 bags of Amish Friendship Bread starter, what would you make and with whom would you share it, aka the bounty of your kitchen and the love & nurturing you've put into it?  

Click here (if you're reading this in your e-mail) to go to the blog to leave a comment and share your thoughts with us!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, May 11, 2015

ReAwakening 2 John 1-2

"Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning."  2 John 1:6

Welcome!  This week we are reading 2 John, chapters 1 & 2.  The chapters are so short, the verses are numbered straight through; just 13 verses for the entire book.  I know, it's getting nice out and the garden is calling, but trust me, you can read 13 verses sometime over the course of this week.

Yesterday we drove to the University of Rhode Island to bring home our oldest child from her first year of college!  What a day!  Probably one of the best Mother's Day ever - having all my kids together again!  And it was quite a year - for her and for me.  Parenting from afar has it's challenges.  I'm grateful she often reached out to me to share her difficulties and frustrations.  One of the things my husband and I reinforced is encapsulated in the verse above: "...he has commanded us to love one another..." .  It didn't always take this form; more often than not, it was in reminding her of who she is and what she knows to be the right thing to do.  However, I was most impressed with how she often handled situations and  people completely on her own.  She truly did love others, just as God commanded.  I could give you a ton of examples, like when she jumped in between a guy who was hitting a girl, the time she helped removed a bee from a girl's hair who was deathly allergic to bees, and when she noticed that a teammate was 'not herself' and offered a listening ear.  I could go on, but I won't.  Let's just say I'm very proud of who she is becoming!  I hope you will forgive the gushing ;)  But finally, the hard work of parenting is starting to show!!

She is living out just what my study Bible says is the command to "love one another".  We have heard this command before, most recently in 1 John 2:7.  Let me share with you what the notes in the study Bible say concerning this verse:

"The statement that Christians should love one another is a recurrent New Testament theme.  Yet love for one's neighbor is an old command, first appearing in the third book of Moses (Leviticus 19:18).  We can show love in many ways: by avoiding prejudice and discrimination, by accepting people, by listening, helping, giving, serving, and refusing to judge.  Knowing God's command is not enough.  We must put in into practice, "doing what God has commanded us"  (see also Matthew 22:37-39 & 1 John 2:7, 8)

We hear once again the call to take action.  Christianity is not a passive faith.  We are called to go out into the world and actively love one another.  Showing that we are children of God is a powerful testament of His love.  How do you show the world that you are a child of God?  We all have our own style of doing things, our own passions & talents.  

Here are some of the ways I have seen people show God's love for one another:

* serving those in need (Faith Kitchen & Family Promise right in our own community)
* listening to a friend or even a stranger who 'needs to talk'
* accepting people for who they are
* giving time and/or money to help the church and those in need
* making prayer shawls and chemo caps
* enlisting support for families facing a crisis
* offering words of support & encouragement, rather than judgement
* building a school in Africa
* building a church in the Dominican Republic
* lifting women and girls out of human trafficking in India

Loving our neighbor will look different for each of us.  Won't you share how you show love for your neighbor?  Perhaps a story of a particular time when you showed love, were shown love, or were a witness of this amazing love.  No act of love is too small to share.  The more we show it and the more we notice it, the more it will seem that the world is filled with it!

As Christians, our challenge today and every day, is to fill the world with the Love of Christ.  To show and share His love, in a real and radical way.  Praying is essential, but we are called to action too!  What action, big or small, are you taking today so that the world will know you are Christian by your love?

For inspiration, click here!  And check out all the websites on the left under "Inspiration".
Remember, if you are reading this in your e-mail, you have to go to the blog, to see the "Inspiration" links and to leave a Comment.

I can't wait to read how you are showing " to one another..." (2 John 1:6)!!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ReAwakening 1 John 5

"I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life."  1 John 5:13

John has a way of writing that makes my head spin sometimes.  Then he makes a statement like this - so clear and understandable, despite the fact that 'eternal life' is still a bit of a mystery to me.

I've heard different theories on what eternal life is - never ending, life in heaven with God, light, love, an existence without fear or pain or suffering.  So, I can imagine what it might be, but I still think it's rather mysterious and I'm perfectly okay with that!
The best part about this verse for me is that John says " may know you have eternal life."  Not that I could have it or that I have to earn it or I'll be rewarded with it sometime in the future... he says I have it, present tense!  It's mine because of what God sacrificed for me - His son, Jesus, the Christ.  And because I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, I am granted this gift of eternal life!

As that fact sinks into my heart, it spurs me to action.  I ask myself: What am I doing with this gift of eternal life?  If it starts now (as it was explained to me once) how am I honoring God with my life?  What am I doing, everyday, to be the person he created me to be?

This week, even as I SOAK in other verses, this one is the most important for me.  I will come back to it and check myself against it.  John reminds me (and you and all believers) that eternal life is ours already.  A gift given.  The question is - how will I receive it?  And what will I do with it?  It is not a trinket to display on the shelf or a piece of jewelry to wear only on special occasions.
It is an essential, beautiful piece to make use of every day and to adorn myself with day and night.  It is my favorite pot holder (yes, I love my potholder!) and my diamond earrings (they never leave my ears!).  I don't liken eternal life to these out of humor (though it does sound kind of funny), but these are two gifts that are a part of my life every single day.
My potholder, handmade & simple, is the first one that I always reach for.  If I can't find it, a little panic sets in and I search until it's found.  It perfectly protects me and I use it every day!  Then there's my diamond earrings - a special gift of love from my husband and I adore them for what they represent!  They have been in my ears for over a decade!  I never take them off, but I bet many people don't even know I have them.  They are not flashy, though they are beautiful.  I am so use to them, I sometimes forget they're there.  Then they catch my eye, their sparkle reminds me of his love, renewing my heart on even my worst days.
Eternal life is like my potholder and my diamond earrings.  It is "handmade" (that is... God made), an essential part of my every day life, protecting me from the 'heat' of life lived on earth.  It is a special, beautiful gift to remind me of God's love.  To be worn every day, a sparkly adornment to be noticed by others, but mostly remembered by me.  Renewing my heart and getting me through life, even on my worst days.

As you read and color code 1 John 5, don't forget to come to the blog and share with us something you have learned.  I'd love to know which is your favorite verse.  Did you have an ah-ha moment you'd like to share?  All are welcome at the blog!  Your involvement is greatly encouraged!

Until next time...

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations."  Oscar Wilde

I know, I was was MIA yesterday, but I hope you continued reading the book of 1 John, we're now on chapter 5.
Did you ever have one of those days where things didn't go quite as planned?  No major upheavals, but just out of routine, with a few glitches thrown in for good measure.  Thankfully, other important stuff and some quality mothering was accomplished, so I can't complain.

Today is Tasty Tuesday!  In honor of Mother's Day (that's this Sunday!) I thought I'd take a brief look at food & mom.  I found Oscar Wilde's quote humorous in the light of the upcoming holiday.  Because no matter how crazy our moms can make us, or we moms can make our kids, when it comes to food, nobody can cook quite like mom (or grandma)!  Whether it's meatloaf, cookies, or the way she makes the perfect PB&J, there's something about how mom does it that makes it special.  And when we're sulking in our rooms, mad as a hornet at that woman who said we can't go to the 10 o'clock movie on a Tuesday night, when the smells of dinner waft up the stairs, we just can't help not being mad at her.

My mom's a pretty good cook - she learned from her grandmother, who never used a recipe!  She also likes to watch cooking shows and isn't afraid to experiment.  She was brought up in a family that healed all ills, soothed all heartaches, and celebrated all happy occasions with food!  Other families plan what they are going to DO on vacation, we planned what we were going to cook and at which restaurants we were going to eat!  Nothing brings a family together like sharing a delicious meal and indulging in a decadent dessert.

One of my mom's more famous and most often requested treats is Wacky Cake with Peanut Butter Icing.  It's made for any and all celebrations!  The cake can be made ahead of time and frozen and the icing can be kept in the refrigerator during warm months (this is actually recommended, otherwise it "melts" off the cake).  I remember one year she made it for some one's birthday and the cake sank in the middle (the baking soda must have been old).  Faced with a sunken cake, but needing the top to be level, she made extra icing and filled in the hole with it!  You can imagine what those pieces looked like when they were served - half cake & half icing!  My sister and I thought those were the best pieces.  This cake is also good with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top instead of the icing, for those with nut allergies or those trying to keep the calorie count on the low side!  But honestly, the peanut butter icing is delicious, and I don't really like peanut butter.  Last year my daughter & I were at a wedding reception (she was video taping and I was her support staff), when the desserts came around we were offered "peanut butter mousse" in very fancy mini champagne flutes.  Turns out, the peanut butter mousse tasted exactly like my mom's peanut butter icing!!  So, yes, you can just eat it with a spoon if you don't want to put it on the cake!

Here's the recipe:  Wacky Cake with Peanut Butter Icing
Makes a 9x13 pan or 2 round cake pans

Cake Ingredients
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 T cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 T vinegar
12 T vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups tepid water

Mix the dry ingredients in the cake pan (if making 2 rounds/squares mix it in a large bowl).  Make 3 holes - 1 for oil, 1 for vinegar, 1 for vanilla.  Add liquid ingredients as indicated into these holes.  Pour tepid water over all and mix.  If you've mixed this in a bowl, spray the pans before adding the batter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Check often, center should not wiggle.  Cool completely.

Icing Ingredients
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups peanut butter, smooth
2 boxes powdered sugar

Mix first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  After they are well blended add the powdered sugar until you get the correct thickness.  One box should be enough.  The "correct" thickness is up to you :)  I've had it thick and peanut buttery, I've had it light a fluffy (aka mousse).  Every time you make it, it might be a little different.

I hope you enjoy my mom's Wacky Cake.  I can't wait to try your favorite mom-recipe!  Don't forget, click here to post your recipe in the comment section on the blog.

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24


Friday, May 1, 2015

ReAwakening 1 John 4

"We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in him."  1 John 4:16

Welcome to our final day of 1 John 4!  It has been a challenging read this week.  There is a lot of talk about love in chapter 4, but there's this scary talk of false prophets and the Antichrist.  The love part I get - I like - it's all rainbows and sunshine.  But false prophets & the Antichrist!?   That takes some time to really come to terms with.  

This warning about the spirit of the Antichrist is quite difficult for me because it's just not something that has been discussed much in my upbringing in the Lutheran tradition.  I do believe evil is at work in the world - individually and on larger scales.  So, this idea of false prophets being in the world intrigues me.  One of my SOAK verses for this week was verse 1, 

"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit.  You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God.  For there are many false prophets in the world."

I didn't SOAK on this verse until the end of the week - after absorbing all the love this chapter has!  But, I was drawn to verse 1 because I saw that while the world changes, it also stays the same.  There were "many false prophets" then and now.  As I spent some time wondering who these false prophets could, be our previous lessons on 'where our hearts lie, there's where our treasure is also', kept coming to mind.  That makes sense to me in the 21st Century!  The false prophets telling me that I will be better & more fulfilled if I: wear a certain size, use a particular product, drive a certain car, shop at the right store, prescribe to the latest lifestyle, trash this & uphold that, it goes on and on!  I consider these 'false prophets' - a bombardment of messages urging me to seek love & wholeness anywhere but the One True God. When I hear these over and over again, I start to believe them.  And that's when I need to take John's advice and test them for myself.
I also recognize that there are actual people out there who are false prophets, claiming to be from God.  I think those are more difficult to discern because people and society are so complex.  But, I'm sure you can think of a few individuals, usually more infamous than famous, or maybe someone you've encountered personally, who fit this description.  People who fan the flames of discontent, stir up trouble for trouble's sake all while claiming they are Christian and following what the Bible says.  People who claim the Bible tells them to hate, ridicule, and discriminate against others.  Yes, we probably know a few of these people.  Would I go so far as to say they have the spirit of the Antichrist?  I don't think so in every case, but certainly misguided and in need of some help.  I add them to my prayer list and move on!

The opening verse is another one I took some time with this week.  It is reassuring that 2 very important things have already happened, John is just reminding us that:
1) God loves us
2) We have put our trust in Him
Sometimes it's the simplest things that we forget as we live our harried & complex lives.  I am so glad that John takes the time to remind us of these precious facts.  When life seems overwhelming, I come back to these: God love me and I trust Him.  What a wonderful mantra!

What was your favorite SOAK verse this week?  What insight or thought would you like to share with the group?  I look forward to reading what you discovered in God's Word!

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Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24