Jesus is Hope

I've always thought of hope in the light of Hebrews 11:1, "Now hope IS being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I believe that, but I never realized that it really only scratches the surface. Parked in Romans 8, I see the word hope repeatedly and I couldn't help but take a closer look.
As I've mostly understood hope, it is the desire of good with the expectation of obtaining it. I love the example that Paul gives the Romans  in Chapter 4:18, Abraham is said to be without grounds to hope (Sarah was barren and 90+ years old), but was still hoping in fulfillment of God's promise to give him as many descendants as the stars. I stop to ponder that and compare myself to this example. I am without grounds to hope (because I'm not deserving of any good thing on my own) but I am still hoping in the fulfillment of God's promise to be with Christ and to know Him even as I am fully known (1 John 3:2, 3). I fully expect to obtain this promise.
I am inspired by David in Psalm 16:9, "My flesh will also rest in hope." Because God gave him instruction for life, David rested in hope, not having seen the Messiah, long before Jesus came to earth in bodily form, died and rose again, David had hope. What preceded David's hope? A glad heart and his body being tranformed into glory rejoicing. Shouldn't I have much more hope having the Scripture that testifies to Christ's sacrifice, burial and resurrection?
What I failed to see in the past about hope is how Jesus is our hope. I have to back up a littler here. Back to when God gave Moses the law. I never full understood that God's purpose for the Law was that we'd realize that we couldn't keep it and that we need a better way. Christ was that way. Christ is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1).
Interestingly, Jesus didn't use the word hope. Perhaps He didn't want to deter Jews to believe in Him, the Messiah, he just said, come to Me (Matthew 11:28). It would not have made sense for Jesus to say have hope in Me. He was the hope fulfilled. When we get something and see it, we don't need to have hope in getting it anymore. Hope is complete...past tense at that point. I understand why Paul wrote, "Hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes in what he already sees?" Romans 8:24.
Today, our hope is closely tied up with our future transformation of glory, when we are made complete and perfect, just as Christ intended. But the creation was subjected to vanity, in hope (remember, Jesus is hope). So, we are subjected to vanity but IN Christ. Christ dwells in us and in this we have a small foretaste of the future glory. Christ is the hope of glory (Col 1:27). Therefore to be without Christ, is to be without hope....this reminds me of Obama's 2008 campaign slogan...Hope. Not really. Hope distinguishes us from non-believers. Those who do not have Christ do not have hope (Ephesians 2:12). I can't really imagine not having any hope. I need to pray that God gives me a bigger heart for those who don't have hope and courage to share hope (Jesus).
I am so relieved that I can have REAL hope, expecting what I long for to really happen. I have Jesus (hope) to heal Micah and those we love facing cancer. I have Jesus (hope) to give Madison a good friend at school. I have Jesus (hope) to provide good friends for our family in Minnesota. I have Jesus (hope) to provide us with a small group. I have Jesus (hope) to bring Derrick home safely from work travel. Now, may I follow David's example REST in hope (Jesus)!

*Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may about in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit

What's the plan?

At Canvas a month ago, I heard Jeff Wendt ask, "So, what's the plan?" Teaching from the book of Acts, Jeff shared how life doesn't always go as expected, but we have the promise then when life doesn't go as planned, we have the promise and comfort of knowing we don't face difficult circumstances alone. Jesus promised his disciples in John 14:27, peace and commands do not be troubled or fear for He is with them. This promise is for me today as well. He is with us, He will never leave for forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Deut. 31:6). I decided to wake every morning and ask God what His plan is for the day. I may have a plan, but I've decided to let God direct my steps (Proverbs 16:9).
This morning, reading and rereading Psalm 16, suddenly the last verse, 11, jumped out of the page: "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." I see three promises:
1. When I ask God to show me His plan, He will show me a path for life, not sin and death. "The mind set on the flesh (self) is sin and death, the mind set on the spirit is life and peace," Romans 8:6. I can not see His plan unless my mind is set upon Him.
2. When I'm on the path for life, I am in His presence and no matter the circumstance, I can experience joy. His presence is enough.
3. At His right mind's eye sees Jesus sitting at God's right hand and me kneeling down beside Jesus' right hand in worship experiencing pleasure forever more!
Even as I type, the sun peers from behind a cloud as if God is saying, Yes, you get it, now stay in a posture of worship at my right hand today!

Yogurt...a bonus!

When we moved and were somewhat settled, I had a couple Suzy Homemaker goals for myself:
  1. Start making our own bread again
  2. Make our own yogurt
Making yogurt was a brand new adventure for me but totally intrigued a kitchen nerd like me. (Who am I kidding, the kitchen is my favorite place to be!) I feel like I've streamlined the process now, six months later and thought I'd put my process to paper...or keyboard. This is what I've found works for my crockpot:

Late afternoon, I begin the process (3 or 4 pm). I put 1 gallon of milk in the crockpot on high. It will take 2-3 hours for my pot to heat the milk to 170-180 degrees. At that point, I cool the milk on ice water to 120 degrees. Then whisk in a heaping tablespoon of old yogurt. (So always save a little bit left from your last batch.) Reassemble the crockpot, and wrap it up in a beach towel or blanket and shove it to the back of the counter. I put my thermometer in the middle of the milk with the digital reader out of the towel wrap so I can easily check on the temperature for the next 8-12ish hours. The aim is to keep the temperature between 110-120 degrees. I've read that if it's below 110, the cultures don't reproduce, if it's above 120, the cultures are being killed. If I'm at the 120 degree range (usually after dinner time) I just leave it wrapped up in the blanket (crockpot NOT on). Then before bed, I plug in the crockpot for 10 minutes while I get ready for bed and then unplug before signing off for the night. In the morning, you have yogurt. It will be runny though. When I wake, I line my strainer with a clean old t-shirt, set it on top of my biggest bowl and pour the yogurt into the strainer. It strains quickly when it's warm, so if you leave it for 15-30 minutes, it might just right. If you leave it for 1 hour, you'll have greek yogurt I guess. (If you don't want that, just stir in more of the whey.)
What's in the tshirt is your yogurt ready to go. What's in the bowl beneath your strainer is whey. I've been tossing that, but just recently thought, there has got to be a use for this. I LOVE google! Mostly, I've been soaking my whole wheat flour in the whey, it makes for awesome wheat bread. Here's the other uses I've googled (I've adapted this list from Salad in a Jar):
  1. Substitute for other liquids when baking— gives breads and pancakes a nice sourdough-ish taste.
  2. Use for soaking whole wheat flours. (This is my number one use of the whey.)
  3. Use whey for boiling noodles or cooking rice. (Haven't tried this yet.)
  4. Feed it to outdoor plants, tomatoes particularly need and benefit from the extra calcium.
  5. Mix it half and half with iced tea — sort of an “Arnold Palmer without the lemon-aid.”
  6. Use it to thin out a batch of homemade hummus or pesto.
  7. Use it to cook quinoa.
  8. Boil your oatmeal in whey. Top with dried Montmorency cherries reconstituted in (you guessed it!) whey.
  9. You can use it as the liquid in pizza dough, and it adds a wonderful flavor to the crust. (Great!!)
  10. Use whey as clear buttermilk. (I made biscuits.)
So, I guess the sky is the limit, but I won't be throwing the whey out anymore! Your yogurt will need to be sweetened with sugar, honey or artificial sweetener. My favorite is 1/2 a mashed banana, 1/2 a packet of equal and blueberries! I've also just stirred in a spoonful of jam when in a hurry.

Yes be yes

Why do I talk so much? Sometimes I hear myself and think, just be quiet. I'm reminded of my friend in Billings who often quoted, Ecclesiastes 6:11
The more the words,the less the meaning,and how does that profit anyone?

I've been pondering this in parenting while reading Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman. (I am a big Leman fan...he's so entertaining and to the point.) Why do I feel the need to explain everything to death with my golden heads? Yes, teach them, make sure they know the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) but why should I have to tell her more than once why she isn't getting to play with the neighbor kid today. It's exasperating! Matthew 5:37, "Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." I also agree that it's a bit demeaning to my child. When repeating the same thing, it's like saying to her, I don't think you're smart enough to get this the first time, so I'll say it again.
I am striving to stop repeating myself. It will also train my golden heads to be better listeners. I pray for consistency and to always say what I mean and mean what I say.

What we don't have

I am learning so much from my children. As I talk with God throughout my day, I can't help but see what He teaches me as their little lives unfold. A big irruption of barbies was going on first thing in the day. After a few hours, the compassionate one was finished. It wasn't fair that both her sisters have barbie houses and she was in the position to share a barbie house with the calculating one. I love an opportunity to be creative! So I attempted to have her think outside the box in how she might "make" a barbie house of her own. The card table idea won. Back in the "game" of barbies, the calculating one thinks this not fair! Why does her sister get the cool, "new" barbie house? Think of that, a card table, covered in blankets over the top (verses a real barbie house) was cause for jealousy. After pulling my hair out, I heard God gently say, "See, how you're never content or happy with what you have?"
Aren't I just like that? I am constantly looking for a new gadget for my kitchen, functional furniture for our home. If a neighbor gets a new car or friend get the new iPad, I think how I'd like a new ____. How does this line up with the Word of God? I think of Solomon writing the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon who had everything, at the end of his life saying, "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless," and concludes his writing in Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments. For this is man's all."
I make note that I need to study the fear of the Lord. I want to understand what that fully encompasses. Until I carve time for that, I strive toward obedience. What I have or do not have is meaningless,
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6