Meditating on the Commands of Christ (84): Sow, Reap, and Weep—Or Sow, Weep, and Reap!

“You’ll reap what you sow” is foundational, not only to farmers but to all of us as humans. Not only physically, but spiritually. That’s doubtless why Jesus urged us in Matthew 13:18 to “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.”

Reaper by Victor Borisov-Musatov, 1897. Public Domain

What was that parable? “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:3-9).

What did Jesus want his disciples to understand? “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23).

If you’re a believer, then the message for us is to sow the Word of God (the Bible and the Gospel of Christ) liberally, everywhere, to everyone, without worrying about whether or not it will always be successfully received.

As a case in point, I eagerly received Jesus as my Savior the first time I ever heard the Gospel, which was at a Youth for Christ rally when I was twelve. The next day, I started trying to explain the great, good news to Jocey, who took clarinet lessons with me at our junior high school. “Oh, I’m already a Christian,” she replied casually. “I got saved when I was four.”

“Really?” I asked in shock. “Then why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“Because I didn’t think you were the type.”

Fifty-seven years later, I’m still pondering that one. Who is “the type?” I don’t think any of us can tell who might or might not respond to the wonderful news that God loved us so much that He sent his uniquely begotten Son (Jesus) to die in our place so that we can have our sins forgiven, be reconciled to God, and become his children—receiving his eternal life and being assured of going to heaven to be with Christ when we die.

Therefore, Jesus tells us to share the living seed of the Word of God freely. “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). The Bible also gives us several wonderful promises to encourage us in our task:

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6). So, beyond the “sow and reap” principle, there’s the even better, “sow, weep, and reap with joy” principle.

Contrarily, there’s the “sow, reap, and weep principle: “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:8-9). How much better to continue in patiently sowing the Word of God despite persecution, belittlement, and weariness. God promises to bless us with everlasting life, and I think in this context, He’s not saying our own. Our own promise of everlasting life was secured for us when we committed our lives to Christ. The promise of Galatians is that we will reap the joy of seeing many other people receive everlasting life if we don’t give up!

Do you ever get frustrated and tired of sharing the glory of God with those who don’t believe a word of what you say and think you’re nuts? Don’t grow weary! Don’t give up sharing the blessed Good News of the Gospel! “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

God wants us to keep sowing the good seed of the Kingdom of God so that some day we will be overwhelmed by the joy of seeing multitudes experiencing the bliss of heaven with us. Beloved, keep sowing and weeping. We may never know in this life the effects of our scattering God’s Word, but someday, in heaven, we will reap with joy!

The reaper after millet by Vincent van Gogh, 1889. Public Domain

(P.S.—As a tribute to Jocey, she became a wonderful friend, and her mother patiently drove both my sister and me to church several times a week for over two years until my sister got her driver’s license and we could get there on our own!)

Coconut Chews

When my husband and I were seniors in high school, I thought it would be fun to play an April Fool’s joke on him, so I called his mom to get her recipe for his favorite cookies. She said his all-time favorite treat was probably “coconut chews,” which are like coconut blondie brownie bars. She gave me the recipe, and I made a big pan of them, which I took to school and passed out to all our friends over our lunch break. However, I placed a thin layer of cardboard (from the packaging from one of my dad’s dress shirts) in the bottom of the pan, so every “coconut chew” had an inedible bottom layer that made eating the bars extremely awkward! To actually eat them, we all had to scrape off the chewy brownie from the top of the cardboard with our teeth and then throw out the cardboard.

Alan was quite shy and duly impressed by the treat . . . but not sure how to react to the cardboard. As I was very much into practical jokes and having fun, I thought it was a great gag. He must have forgiven me, because we did get married about five years later. I had planned to make him some cardboard coconut chews for a gag again 50+ years hence, but somehow with the COVID crisis, I didn’t have the heart. Nevertheless, I did make some recently, and he still loves them, so here’s his mom’s recipe:

Coconut Chews
(Makes 12 large or 24 small bars)

Preheat your oven to 350° F.
In a blender add:
3/4 c. softened butter
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla

Whip for three minutes or until well blended and a little fluffy, then add:
1 and 1/4 cups flour
2 cups shredded or flake coconut, firmly packed (or, one 7-8 oz package)

Beat until completely mixed, then spread evenly into the bottom of a well greased 9X13″ baking pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F. or until the edges and top are just starting to turn a golden brown and the center is relatively firm to the touch. Don’t over cook, though, because you want them to be chewy even after they cool.

Serve warm if you can, although they’re good warm, room temperature, or reheated. Now that I don’t have a big family to eat them all the first day, I keep mine in the refrigerator with saran wrap so they don’t dry out. I can keep them all week that way, but when I’m ready to serve them, I reheat each one for 12-15 seconds in my microwave to make them just a little warm. They also freeze well if you want to make them ahead for a party.

Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

Paraprosdokians to Make You Smile

Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous. (Winston Churchill loved them.) 

1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it. 

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you…. but it’s still on my list. 

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak. 

4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong. 

5. We never really grow up…. we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right, only who is left. 

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. 

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research. 

9. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you. 

10. In filling out an application, where it says, “In case of emergency, notify…” I answered, “a doctor.” 

11. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy. 

12. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

13. I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure. 

14. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target. 

15 Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. 

16. You’re never too old to learn something stupid. 

17. I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

My son, be wise, and make my heart glad,
that I may answer him that reproacheth me” (Proverbs 27:11).

The Wisdom of Winston

World War 2 was a fight for freedom from tyranny, and Winston Churchill led that charge. As we face the frustrations and inequities in America, I think it would be good to remember some of the philosophical underpinnings that helped the world overcome oppression 75 years ago.

Wisdom is justified by all her children” (Luke 7:35, ESV).

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (83): Listen!

So many voices, including “deepfake,” introduced in 2018 and added this year to Merriam- Webster Dictionary. Know what “deepfake” is? it’s “an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said” (Merriam-Webster). In other words, our world is on the cusp of being able to bring propaganda to a whole new level.

Example from Wiki of a deepfake gif, where actress Amy Adams’ face has been modified to look like the actor, Nicolas Cage

We’re already struggling to discern “fake news” from genuine news and determine to what extent the media is agenda driven rather than truth driven. I have no confidence that there’s a completely trustworthy source for discerning fact from fiction and half-truths from outright lies politically. Do you? All the sources I know of are funded by ?? . . . people and groups with political opinions! It will be taking deception to a whole new level if we can’t even trust that the person on the screen is actually whom they appear to be—and if what they appear to be doing is actually what they said or did.

This makes me think of the deceptions of the devil, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), who is out to confuse the entire world into thinking evil is good and good is evil. We are told not to be caught off guard, “for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, ESV). It’s comforting to know that there is a God who is a righteous judge and will someday set things right, but in the meantime, beware!

At a time when the world is struggling to know the truth about COVID and which way to turn for economic and political stability, the last thing we need is even more convincing deception. What can we do? Jesus speaks into the vortex of this confusion: “Hearken!” “Listen!” And then he tells a number of parables (which can be found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the parables, but for today, I want to invite all of us to respond to Jesus’s command for his disciples (and all of us) to “Listen up!”

If you’re not sure what you should do: Watch and pray, and listen for the answer! “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). I don’t know the answers, but God does, and he tells us to be watchful and prayerful. Do you want to know how to safely tend to your personal needs during the COVID-19 pandemic? “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). Ask God to direct your steps, and then thank Him for doing so! Are you not sure for whom you should vote in the upcoming election? “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). God wants us to pray not only for ourselves but for others!

Notice that these verses tell us to “watch and pray” . . . not simply pray, and not just watch, but to actively engage in both: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Why? Because in this time of national and international crisis, we need true wisdom which is far above our own ability to reason out. If things go badly wrong, it could be the end of America as we know it. If COVID escalates into a plague that disrupts the entire world’s stability, it could be the beginning of the end of the world as we know it, at least for our lifetime! The Bubonic Plague back in the 1300’s killed nearly one-fourth of the world’s population, and it took almost two hundred years to recover!

I don’t know WHEN the beginning of the end will come, but I do know that it will come, and we are instructed to be prepared: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7). Are you watching and praying? Are you listening to the Word of God to you? The Bible is the only unchanging source of reliable truth there is! We need to believe it, treasure it, meditate on it, and listen to what God is teaching us in it! Let’s “Listen up!”

Jesus preaching from boat. Jan Bruegel the Elder. 1606.
National Museum. Stockholm. (Public Domain)

Texts for today’s meditation: Mark 4:1-3. “And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,Hearken“—

Matthew 13:1-3; 10 -17 “The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.And he spake many things unto them in parables” . . . 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

Classic Chicken Salad

As a mother and grandmother, one of my goals in publishing recipes is to pass along the best of what I have to offer from what I’ve learned over the years, not only to you but also to my kids! My daughter’s family was visiting recently, and one of her favorites is chicken salad, which can be made and served over a bed of greens (as above) or used as a filling for sandwiches. Either way, the recipe is the same, and it’s always a treat, but especially on a hot summer day like today (the Fourth of July)! Here is the recipe:

Classic Chicken Salad
(Serves 4)

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
1 large can chunked chicken breast (12.5 oz or two 5-oz cans;
press out most of the liquid before adding to bowl)
1/2 cup red grapes (chopped either in half or quartered;
can use fresh or dried cherries instead)
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or salad dressing if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt (or whatever you like)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste (if needed; it may be salty enough as is)

Mix together thoroughly by hand with a spoon and divide into 4 equal portions (about 1/2+ cup each) to spread over bread or fill a croissant to make sandwiches (lettuce added is a bonus). The filling can be made ahead, but just before you make your sandwiches, add:
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or other nuts) to the filling. It makes a great, quick lunch!

For a lighter meal (lunch or dinner), spoon out the chicken salad filling over four plates prepared with lettuce greens, and then top each plate with 2 tablespoons of pecans (halved or chopped) just before serving.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).



Out of the Mouths of Grade-Schoolers

“SOLOMON, ONE OF DAVIDS SONS, HAD 300 WIVES AND 700 PORCUPINES.” Ah, and this is just the beginning! A retired Episcopalian minister passed along this great list of responses given by grade-schoolers at a Christian school when tested on their understanding of the Old and New Testaments: “Imagine the teacher at her desk grading these papers while trying to keep a straight face and maintaining her composure . . . (The wording and spelling have not been corrected or retouched.)”

IN THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, GUINNESS, GOD GOT TIRED OF CREATING
THE WORLD SO HE TOOK THE SABBATH OFF.

THE EGYPTIANS WERE ALL DROWNED IN THE DESSERT. AFTERWARDS, MOSES
WENT UP TO MOUNT CYANIDE TO GET THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED FROM AN APPLE TREE. NOAH’S WIFE WAS JOAN OF ARK. NOAH BUILT AND ARK AND THE ANIMALS CAME ON IN PEARS.

THE GREATEST MIRICLE IN THE BIBLE IS WHEN JOSHUA TOLD HIS SON TO
STAND STILL AND HE OBEYED HIM.

LOTS WIFE WAS A PILLAR OF SALT DURING THE DAY, BUT A BALL OF FIRE
DURING THE NIGHT.

SAMPSON WAS A STRONGMAN WHO LET HIMSELF BE LED ASTRAY BY A JEZEBEL LIKE DELILAH.

SAMSON SLAYED THE PHILISTINES WITH THE AXE OF THE APOSTLES.

MOSES LED THE JEWS TO THE RED SEA WHERE THEY MADE UNLEAVENED BREAD, WHICH IS BREAD WITHOUT ANY INGREDIENTS.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENTS WAS WHEN EVE TOLD ADAM TO EAT THE APPLE.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT IS THOU SHALT NOT ADMIT ADULTERY.

MOSES DIED BEFORE HE EVER REACHED CANADA THEN JOSHUA LED THE
HEBREWS IN THE BATTLE OF GERITOL.

DAVID WAS A HEBREW KING WHO WAS SKILLED AT PLAYING THE LIAR. HE
FOUGHT THE FINKELSTEINS, A RACE OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN BIBLICAL TIMES.

WHEN MARY HEARD SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF JESUS, SHE SANG THE MAGNA CARTA.

WHEN THE THREE WISE GUYS FROM THE EAST SIDE ARRIVED THEY FOUND
JESUS IN THE MANAGER.

JESUS WAS BORN BECAUSE MARY HAD AN IMMACULATE CONTRAPTION.

ST. JOHN THE BLACKSMITH DUMPED WATER ON HIS HEAD.

JESUS ENUNCIATED THE GOLDEN RULE, WHICH SAYS TO DO UNTO OTHERS
BEFORE THEY DO ONE TO YOU. HE ALSO EXPLAINED A MAN DOTH NOT LIVE BY
SWEAT ALONE.

IT WAS A MIRICLE WHEN JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD AND MANAGED TO GET
THE TOMBSTONE OFF THE ENTRANCE.

THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED THE LORD WERE CALLED THE 12 DECIBELS.

THE EPISTELS WERE THE WIVES OF THE APOSTLES.

ONE OF THE OPPOSSUMS WAS ST. MATTHEW WHO WAS ALSO A TAXIMAN.

ST. PAUL CAVORTED TO CHRISTIANITY, HE PREACHED HOLY ACRIMONY,
WHICH IS ANOTHER NAME FOR MARRAIGE.

CHRISTIANS HAVE ONLY ONE SPOUSE. THIS IS CALLED MONOTONY.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him” (Psalm 91:15. I am so thankful that when God answers us, we can be sure what He says is “true and righteous altogether” [Psalm 19:9]!)

Mental Acuity Test (Or Not)

Today is my husband’s last day of official work as a physician after forty years of practice! In honor of Alan’s many years working in a psychiatric hospital, and to introduce this exciting new chapter in our lives, I’m going to pass along a “test” for fun. In truth, I completely flunked, so if you do too, then—like me—you probably think more like a retiree than a four-year-old! 🙂

Theoretically, this test is to ascertain your mental state now. If you get one right you are doing okay; if you get none right you’d better go for counseling. (I’ll meet you there.)

There are 4 test questions. The first one is called the Giraffe Test

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? Stop and think about it and decide on your answer before you scroll down.

















The correct answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

Test Number Two: the Elephant Test

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?


















If you said, “Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator,” that would be the Wrong Answer.
Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

Test Number Three: Lion King Test

3. The Lion King is hosting an Animal Conference. All the animals attend … except one. Which animal does not attend?










Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.


Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

Test Number Four: the Crocodile Test

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?








Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Haven’t you
been lis-ten-ing? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Conference. This tests whether you can make logical deductions from previous information.


According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide
, around 90% of the Retirees they tested got all questions wrong, but many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively proves the theory that most Retirees do not have the brains of a four-year-old.*

Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). Really, though, if you study this passage (Matthew 11:16-30), you will notice that the truly wise are those who see the works of Christ and believe that he really is the Son of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. For whatever reason, adults have more trouble believing the truth than small children. Do you suppose it’s because people are told so many lies as they grow up that they become jaded?

*This joke “test” was an email forward, so I’m not perfectly sure if Anderson Consulting Worldwide actually had anything to do with it, but it is cute, isn’t it? 🙂 Also, we’re having various of our kids visiting this summer, so some of my posts may be on the lighter side if I don’t have enough time to write. I will glean from forwards sent to me by friends and hope they encourage your hearts. Also, I pray you can have (and enjoy) a little vacation this summer, despite COVID. May the Lord bless and keep you safe!

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (82): TRUE Clean

COVID is spreading like a sinister wildfire smoldering its way around the world. It’s a time when we’re all very concerned about being “clean” and washing properly, so I think the account of Jesus failing to wash up before dinner is particularly noteworthy today. Jesus had been invited to a Pharisee’s home for dinner but was looked at critically for not washing up according to code before the meal.

Was Jesus simply too busy, or did he intentionally choose not to wash up in order to make a point? Either way, his statement (as was so often the case) seems like a skew line from the issue: “”Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you” (Luke 11:40-41). The apparent issue was personal cleanliness, but like God, his Father, Jesus didn’t look on the outward appearance. Jesus looked on the heart. In a room full of well dressed and carefully manicured guests, who actually qualified as being “clean”?

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner). This thought kept coming back to me as I pondered giving alms and the question of what is truly clean. The answer? Not those who have washed up, but those who have given out. Not those who have mastered social graces, but those who are actively following God’s call to meet the world’s deep hunger by giving “alms” out of their personal storehouse of deep gladness.

Do you know what “alms” are? I always thought the term was synonymous with “money,” but I was wrong! The term alms is only used 14 times in the Bible (New Testament), and the Old Testament sequel, “tzedakah,” literally means “righteousness.” It refers to doing what is right more than giving charitable monetary gifts. In fact, the Jewish wise man, Maimonides, rated “enabling the recipient to become self-reliant” as the highest form of tzedakah possible.

Jesus was the perfect example of this. There is no record of his giving money to help the poor, although he healed many people, enabling them to become self-sufficient and whole . . . a much greater benefit! This was also true of Jesus’s disciples: “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).

In the light of this, it’s not surprising that Jesus told the Pharisees to give alms “of such things as ye have.” What do you suppose they had? If they had wisdom to share or the power to heal, what gifts those would be! If they were truly just and righteous in their dealings with others (rather than being self-serving and oppressive, which is what angered Jesus about the Pharisees in Matthew 21) . . . well, that would have been wonderful too! If the deep gladness of their hearts had been a recognition of Jesus as the Messiah who had come to save the world from sin and set us free . . . what a blessing they could bestow on others!

Sadly, the Pharisees had none of these gifts to share. All they had was money, and they were careful to tithe, but not to use their money to care for others. Jesus had this scathing rebuke to offer them: “Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness” (Luke 11:39), and a few verses later he adds, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them” (Luke 11:44).

Just a question, but is there any chance you’re reading this and sense hypocrisy deep within your heart? Do you look pure, clean, and polished on the outside but know that on the inside you’re as dead as an unmarked grave? God does have a remedy, which is rebirth through faith in Christ. (Click on the “Coming to Christ” tab at the top of this page if you’re not sure what that means.) Jesus cleans us from the inside out. He can give us a gladness deep in our heart that becomes like a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14). Out of that heart of joy will flow a desire to love others, pursue justice, and “give alms of such things as ye have.”

What are the “such things” that you and I have? Well, they are doubtless different, but God wants us to give to others out of the abundance of our hearts. “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Proverbs 28:27). It might be money to meet a need, it might be volunteering time to help teach, it might be writing a song, singing, sewing masks for COVID patients, knitting hats for cancer patients . . . there is no end to human need and no end to human creativity to help meet those needs. God wants us all to be “busy about our Father’s business” reaching out to others. I love the promise at the end of this command: “give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

Yes, COVID is spreading like a sinister wildfire smoldering its way around the world, and we’re all very concerned about being “clean” and washing properly! Yes, it’s a time when “reaching out” physically is much more limited, but we can still reach out spiritually, and if we want to bring joy to our Father—and still be as safe as we can be—if we want to be truly “clean”—then let’s share from the deep place of gladness in our hearts with those who are experiencing deep hunger! It’s important to keep washing the “outside of the cup.” (I sanitize and socially distance for sure, and Jesus said that tithing is good.) But, let’s remember that TRUE CLEAN is on the inside, in our hearts, and that’s what matters the most!

Text for this meditation: Luke 11:37-44, “And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.”

(*Photo used by permission of http://Havenlight.com )

Classic Scottish Shortbread

This is about the world’s easiest cookie recipe, but it’s also one of the finest and happens to be my Scottish husband’s go-to favorite!

Preheat the oven to 350° F. and then, in a mixer, dump together:
1 cup softened butter
2 cups white flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
pinch of salt

Blend until completely mixed.

It will look a bit crumbly and on the dry side, but don’t worry; that’s the way it’s supposed to be!

Place it in a shortbread pan (or a cake pan).

Spread the mixture evenly into the pan, pressing gently into place. (Don’t overwork the dough, though).

Bake it in the oven at 350°F. for 20 minutes or until it’s starting to look a bit golden-brown and crispy around the edges. Let it cool for 15 minutes and then carefully overturn it onto a large, flat platter. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cooled.

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore” Psalm 86:12).