March 30, 2015

About coleen hayden

Coleen Hayden – Director of Women's Ministry - Prayer Ministry Leader - Blog Contributor
Coleen and her husband Robert have been married for 19 years and currently live in the Capital District area of New York State. They have one beautiful daughter, Kassia, who is married to Matt, and 4 delightful grandchildren Elijah, Kaylie Joy, Levi, and Rebekah. She enjoys sewing, cooking, and playing the piano.

You Are The Shepherd

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Recorded in the Gospel of John, our Lord made seven statements referring to Himself as I AM

I AM The Light of the World
I AM The Bread of Life
I AM The Door

I AM The Good Shepherd
I AM The True Vine

I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life
I AM The Resurrection and The Life

Each week during this season of Lent, here on the Seeking Him blog, we will be focusing our devotionals on a different aspect of Jesus’ revelation of Himself as I AM.  The aim of Lent should be to prepare our hearts for the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice—His trial and torture, the Crucifixion and His death…and above all, the celebration of His Resurrection from the dead.  We pray that this will be a great encouragement to each of you who read them.  And that all of us will consider the significance of Jesus’ words and, through them, be helped as we remember and are thankful for all Jesus went through during the last few weeks of His life on this earth.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

 Jesus said to him,
I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life;
no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.


You are the Shepherd, I belong to You
When I walk on rough ground, You will guide me through
You know my name, You know my voice
Before I was born I was Your choice
Show me how to follow, Lord, keep me close to You
You are the Shepherd, I belong to You

Open eyes to see You are the Way
Open ears to hear You are the Truth
Open hearts to know You are the Lord of Life
For every one You hold a special plan

This Week…I AM The True Vine (John 15:1-8)

SeekingHimLogo

Recorded in the Gospel of John, our Lord made seven statements referring to Himself as I AM

I AM The Light of the World
I AM The Bread of Life
I AM The Door

I AM The Good Shepherd
I AM The True Vine

I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life
I AM The Resurrection and The Life

Each week during this season of Lent, here on the Seeking Him blog, we will be focusing our devotionals on a different aspect of Jesus’ revelation of Himself as I AM.  The aim of Lent should be to prepare our hearts for the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice—His trial and torture, the Crucifixion and His death…and above all, the celebration of His Resurrection from the dead.  We pray that this will be a great encouragement to each of you who read them.  And that all of us will consider the significance of Jesus’ words and, through them, be helped as we remember and are thankful for all Jesus went through during the last few weeks of His life on this earth.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

I AM the True Vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in Me, as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.
I AM the Vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from Me you can do nothing.
If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers;
such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples
John 15:1-8

This week, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, our sisters have shared some insight on these words spoken by our Lord…specifically regarding the statement He made, “I AM the True Vine.”  Jesus gave us such clear direction AND encouragement as He made it very clear that it is vitally necessary to abide/remain…and that, apart from Him, we truly cannot do anything of worth or value.   Here are a few highlights from the devotionals that Laura, Cynda, Ann, and Ahmee wrote to encourage us.

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In Bearing Fruit in the Vine, Ann asked some needful questions…(have you answered them?).

“This passage gives us an illustration of how bearing fruit is essential in the eyes of God.  The Bible is talking of a garden that is being taken care of by God Himself.  And Jesus said “I AM the True Vine…”.  This means there is another vine that is not true and has not been planted not by God.

As Christians we need to understand which garden we belong to—
is it God’s or the other garden?

We are told “you are the branches.”  Branches bear the fruit; and so if a branch is not producing fruit, then it must be cut off.  If we do bear fruit, we are true branches. If we do not, then we are not true branches. Which side of the coin are we?”

In God the Gardener, Laura made the comparison between a person tending the garden in their yard—purging and pruning—and God as He cares for us, the branches.

“Just as a gardener works to keep their garden beautiful, so does God in His relationship with us.  He points out the things that we need to cut off and get rid of in order to strengthen our relationship with Him.  The stronger we are in God the more fruitful we are in His Spirit.  We are the branches of God’s beautiful Creation—His own garden. God makes us (the branches on His vine) stronger through our blessings and the hardships He guides us through.”

In Just Hanging Out, Cynda reminded us that as we abide we are able to bear fruit…because of the Vine.

“Philippians 4:13 AMP (one of my favorite verses) tells us:

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me
[I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him
Who infuses inner strength into me;
I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

Christ empowers me!  And when I abide in Him, I have full access to all His power.  The fruit will be a natural result.  I like the way David Guzik * puts it: ‘Fruit bearing is impossible without abiding; but it is inevitable with abiding.’  Philippians 1:11 HCSB tells us when we hang out with Jesus we are ‘…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.’

We have two choices then: either hang out with Jesus or go it on our own.  If we hang out with Jesus, fruit comes naturally.  If we go it on our own, we will continue to struggle and begin to wither.  Not much of a choice really, is it?”

In Fellowship Through The Vine, Ahmee addressed the difference between relationship and fellowship.

“I pondered the difference between relationship and fellowship.  Relationship, although very basic, is a distinguishing factor of Christianity.  (Without a dictionary in hand) I concluded that it is possible to have a relationship with someone, but not be in fellowship with them. And it seems very unlikely, if even at all possible, to be in fellowship with someone and not have a relationship with them.

But now, I have my NLT dictionary/concordance handy and have the proper definitions:

  • Relationship (n): a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings
  • Fellowship (n): friendship; association; company; partnership

Stay connected to Jesus (via the word, prayer, etc.) and this will be evident in your life. We have to have our Life Source in order to do anything productive. We need more than just a mere relationship…we have to have that fellowship…that DEEP connection.

So, take a look at your relationship with God…
Are you in a relationship only? Or is there fellowship?”

Have you had the opportunity to read through these blogposts this week?  If not, I would encourage you to do so!  Our bloggers have made these as well as some other wonderful points to direct us towards Jesus, Who IS The True Vine in Whom we can abide and remain.

(Only Love) Sólo El Amor

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

For love I’d do almost anything
I’d cross the widest of oceans
For love, I’d fly with an broken wing
Just to taste it for a moment
For love, I’d turn back the strongest tide
There’s no storm I couldn’t weather
‘Cause it’s more than a gleam in someone’s eye
It’s what holds us all together
But I’ve only known once in my lifetime
Love in its purest form
He came here for me
Suffered and then died under a crown of thorns

Sólo el amor es la salida {Sólo el amor, only love can save me}
Limpia, construye, concibe y procres {Conquering death and the sting of the grave }
Tan solo el amor sana la herida {Kingdoms will fail and tongues will cease}
Que alguna vez nos causara el dolor {But through all eternity love will remain}

Sólo el amor, when all else has failed me
Will take me to places that I’ve never dreamed
Healing my wounds and setting me free
There’s nothing else worth living for
Sólo el amor

Por amor murio crucifecada la esperanza de la humanidad
{For love the Hope of humanity made the lame to walk again}
El amor es al fruta sagrada {For love He settled the raging sea}
La promesa de la libertad { And became the sinner’s friend}

For love He drank of His Father’s cup
With all my shame on His shoulders
And He offered forgiveness through His shed blood
Tell me, is it any wonder
That I’ve only known once in my lifetime
Love in its purest form
He came here for me
Suffered and then died under a crown of thorns

Sólo el amor…only love

Sandi Patty and Miguel Angel Guerra
Songwriters: Donato Póveda / Kelly Minter

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This morning I was sitting at my piano playing, and singing along to the words of this song.  I was struck so deeply by the very first line: “For love I’d do almost anything…”.  Because I WOULD do almost anything due to the love I have for my family and loved ones!  You would, too…I am sure!  Those of us who are mommas (or grammas!), we know the truth of this feeling in our hearts.  Y’know the whole “don’t get between a mother lion and her cub!” thing.  Definitely a deep, strong, passionate love there. But there is a love that goes beyond what you or I have done or could even imagine doing—the love of Jesus our Savior and Redeemer.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless,
Christ died for the ungodly…
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6 and 8

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…
we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:3-5
(spoken prophetically about our Messiah)

But God—so rich is He in His mercy!
Because of and in order to satisfy
the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,
Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,
He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ;
[He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for]
it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve)
that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation.)
Ephesians 2:4-5

Christ’s death is not only the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the ultimate expression of Jesus’ own love for all mankind. And my part (yours AND mine) is being convicted of this fact: “Christ loved me and gave Himself for me.”  And not just convicted…my response (OUR response) should be LOVE.   How do we prove our love for our Savior?  Simply by our obedience.

No matter where you look in the Scriptures—whether back in the records of the Old Testament…or in the words of our Lord contained in the Gospels…or in the doctrine given to the 1st century Church—to say ‘I love You, o God’ means you choose to obey.  Here are just three examples:

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God,
who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousand generations
with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
Deuteronomy 7:9

“If you love Me, keep My commands.
Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me.
The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father,
and I too will love them and show Myself to them.
…Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching.
My Father will love them,
and We will come to them and make Our home with them.
Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching.
These words you hear are not My own;
they belong to the Father who sent Me.”
John 14:15, 21, 23-24

By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God and observe His commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:2 and 3

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I would love to leave you with a couple of resources that communicate so beautifully about the love of Jesus demonstrated through the sacrifice of His life for you and me.

  •  Herein Is Love, a sermon that Charles Spurgeon preached.  Click here.
  •  Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die,  a book written by  Pastor John Piper wrote.  Click here.

I hope that you will take make the time to read and meditate on the words of these two wonderful men, maybe not today but soon…or perhaps read them as part of your quiet time over a few days.  As you listen to this song and read through these teachings, my prayer is…

“…that you, being rooted and firmly established in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love,
and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge…”
Ephesians 3:17-19

The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean,
In its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Thy glorious rest above

O the deep, deep love of Jesus
Spread His praise from shore to shore
How He loveth, ever loveth
Changeth never, evermore
How He watches o’er His loved ones
Died to call them all His own
How for them He intercedeth
Watcheth o’er them from the Throne

O the deep, deep love of Jesus
’Tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me
And it lifts me up to glory
For it lifts me up to Thee
And it lifts me up to glory

Selah
Lyrics: Samuel Francis / Music: Thomas Williams 

*  ~    ♥ ~ ✞ ~ ♥    ~  *  

Such a stirring, convicting song!  These lyrics remind us of the immensity and the magnitude of Jesus’ love.  As the song goes, “…vast, unmeasured, boundless….”  No love on this earth ever was, nor ever will be, any greater!  His is a deep, deep love!

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down His life for His friends.
John 15:13

Truly, it could only have been His pure love that compelled Him to die for us. Jesus was fully aware of the kind of sacrifice that was required to redeem mankind.  In His last moments of freedom, while praying in the Garden at Gethsemene, He agonized over what He knew was to come.  And yet, He did it. For us…with deep, deep love!

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps
for a good man someone would dare even to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood,
we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God
through the death of His Son, much more,
having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:6-10

And so deep is this love of Jesus for us that it requires being born-again—to have Christ living in us—to even be able to comprehend this deep, deep love!

…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend
with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ…
Ephesians 3:17-19

But, by God’s grace and through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, we are given some insight into this love.  And to begin to know this love.   To fully comprehend this kind of love I truly believe it will take having the new minds and new bodies which are promised to us when He returns.  Perhaps it is just too much for us to completely understand His deep, deep love at this point.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38 and 39

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you…” (John 15:12).  These were Jesus’ words to His closest friends during the last meal He would share with them.  He knew the time was imminent and that the time was at hand when He would show His deep, deep love.  He gave clear command to them (and to us—we are to do the same).

And so, what does that mean to you (me, too) today?  How will we show this deep, deep love of Jesus to others today?  This wasn’t Jesus’ suggestion or even His plea…it was His command.  And it is how the world will know that we ARE His!

By this all people will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.
John 13:35

Homemade Chicken Meatballs

Y’know those fully-cooked ground chicken sausages and meatballs that you can find in almost every grocery store?  There are any number of brands that now make them…plus they come in quite a variety of flavor variations.  You can find breakfast sausages, dinner sausages, mini-sausages, and meatballs.  I have been a big fan of these for quite some time now.  Of course, there is ‘variety’ in quality amongst the different brands, too. You probably wouldn’t have to search too hard to find organic chicken sausages and meatballs.  All very helpful towards a healthy eating lifestyle! And they are so handy for those nights when your meal plan falls apart (or you forgot to take something out of the freezer)! These even defrost right in their package in a bowl of cold water for 10-15 minutes!

But recently I had the crazy thought, ‘Why can’t I do that? I should be able to make my own, right?’ And then I found it that wasn’t really so crazy!  Easy to find the ingredients…easy to throw together…easy to prepare…easy to cook!  And here’s the best part—making them from scratch in your own kitchen, the variety’s are almost endless.  But I started fairly simple…check out the recipe!  The variety I made this time lent itself well to serving with some Tzatziki (zah-d/zee-kee) Sauce (Greek yogurt cucumber sauce) alongside some spaghetti squash and steamed broccoli…yum!  I would love to hear about your version, if you decide to make them.  Enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Meatballs—Greek Style

2015-03-11 20.11.51

ingredients:
meatballs:
2 (10 ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoon +/- olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 heaping tablespoons chopped garlic
1 egg, lightly beaten
(2) 4 ounce pkg. crumbled feta cheese (set aside 2 ounces or so)
2# ground chicken (or ½ chicken, ½ turkey)
2 tablespoons lemon-pepper blend
1/4 cup almond flour

tzatziki sauce:
1+1/2 cups Greek-style plain yogurt
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
1/3 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped small
3 tablespoons fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1/2 lemon, juiced
sea salt, freshly ground pepper (to taste)

directions:

  • mix up the tzatziki sauce and refrigerate ’til ready to serve
  • preheat oven to 400; line a baking sheet w/parchment paper
  • cook frozen spinach (stovetop or microwave) just ‘til heated through; drain excess liquid, dump out onto a clean dishtowel and squeeze dry; set aside
  • preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  • in a large bowl combine onion and garlic; add egg
  • add the spinach, pulling it apart to separate it
  • add feta, chicken, and seasoning to the bowl
  • dust the almond flour over top
  • start combining and add a 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • lightly mix everything ‘til well-combined
  • using a 1+1/2″ cookie scoop, or something similar, form 36-40 meatballs; they do not have to be perfectly round…I left mine fairly rustic
  • place the meatballs on the lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes and then turn them over
  • cook for additional 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of them) ‘til they are beginning to brown
  • I used my instant-read meat thermometer (165 degrees for poultry); you can also test them by poking one and making sure the juices run clear
  • serve with tzatziki sauce and a sprinkle of the leftover feta cheese

I know I often mention that I use ‘lemon-pepper seasoning’ in the place of salt&pepper.  Here is a link to what I use.

  ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥       ♥

God loves you!  ♥  (Don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen

(When You) Abide In Me

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Recorded in the Gospel of John, our Lord made seven statements referring to Himself as I AM

I AM The Light of the World
I AM The Bread of Life
I AM The Door

I AM The Good Shepherd
I AM The True Vine

I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life
I AM The Resurrection and The Life

Each week during this season of Lent, here on the Seeking Him blog, we will be focusing our devotionals on a different aspect of Jesus’ revelation of Himself as I AM.  The aim of Lent should be to prepare our hearts for the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice—His trial and torture, the Crucifixion and His death…and above all, the celebration of His Resurrection from the dead.  We pray that this will be a great encouragement to each of you who read them.  And that all of us will consider the significance of Jesus’ words and, through them, be helped as we remember and are thankful for all Jesus went through during the last few weeks of His life on this earth.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away;
and every branch that bears fruit,
He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
Y
ou are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine,
so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
I AM the Vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up;
and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit,
and so prove to be My disciples.
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you;
abide in My love.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love;
just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be made full.

When you abide in me
Then I’ll abide in you
My words in your heart
Child, believe
That when you seek My face
And make Me your first love
Then all of the rest
Will be taken care of

Don’t worry what the future may hold
For I have overcome the world
And all these things I speak
Our solemn joy may be complete
When you abide

Kristen Chenoweth
songwriter unknown

This Week…I AM The Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18)

SeekingHimLogo

Recorded in the Gospel of John, our Lord made seven statements referring to Himself as I AM

I AM The Light of the World
I AM The Bread of Life
I AM The Door

I AM The Good Shepherd
I AM The True Vine

I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life
I AM The Resurrection and The Life

Each week during this season of Lent, here on the Seeking Him blog, we will be focusing our devotionals on a different aspect of Jesus’ revelation of Himself as I AM.  The aim of Lent should be to prepare our hearts for the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice—His trial and torture, the Crucifixion and His death…and above all, the celebration of His Resurrection from the dead.  We pray that this will be a great encouragement to each of you who read them.  And that all of us will consider the significance of Jesus’ words and, through them, be helped as we remember and are thankful for all Jesus went through during the last few weeks of His life on this earth.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

I AM the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep.
So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.
Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I AM the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me—

just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father—
and I lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.
I must bring them also.
They too will listen to My voice and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd.
The reason My Father loves Me
is that I lay down My life—only to take it up again.
No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.
I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.
This command I received from My Father.
John 10:11-18

This week, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, our sisters have shared some insight on these words spoken by our Lord.  What love and sacrifice Jesus has proven as He laid down His life for us, His people…the sheep of His flock.  Here are a few highlights from the devotionals that Tina, Laura, Cynda, Ann, and Ahmee wrote to encourage us.

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In Surrender, Cynda brought our attention to Jesus’ example of choice.

 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV) tells us, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.”

“Christ led by example.  He became our example.  He is our Good Shepherd—the one who cares for us and leads us to safety.  He has called us.  Yet the choice is ours.  No one else will make the decision for us.  No one is going to snatch our struggles from us.  We must willingly…voluntarily…surrender our will to His and allow Him to lead us.

For me, the surrender is daily; sometimes minute-by-minute.  But when I do and I trust my Good Shepherd following His lead, well, therein lies the victory!”

In The Good Shepherd is Selfless, Tina shared the record of Jacob and his tireless efforts as the shepherd, as well as God’s love.

“If God cares enough for the sheep to have those kind of shepherds like Jacob, how much more will He care for us…?  God’s love is so immense.  It is so full of goodness, and will help us overcome our feelings of inadequacy. As long as we lay our feelings down at His feet, we will be able to overcome them.  God loves us so much.  The fact that He sent His Son to die on the Cross is evidence of His great love.”

In Dedicated to You, Ahmee reminded us of how much the Lord loves us and is always there to be our Good Shepherd by leading and guiding and watching over us.  She also asked an important question.

“God cares for us. He sent us Jesus. Jesus cares for us, and because He does, He has chosen to be our everything.

  • Are you hungry…physically or spiritually? He will lead you to the food you need.
  • Are you tired? He will give you a safe place to rest.
  • Are you lost? He will guide you.
  • Are you scared? He will shelter you.

He is our EVERYthing. There is nothing in this world that you can experience that He Himself cannot help you with. The real question is…

Will you let Him be your Good Shepherd?”

In The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep, Ann also encouraged us to follow Jesus’ example and to be shepherds. 

“Christ was mentioned as Good Shepherd in John 10:11-14; Great Shepherd in Hebrews 13:20; and the Chief Shepherd in 1 Peter 5:4.

We also, as His followers and believers, are shepherds.  We win souls, we are shepherds of His sheep also.  Others (pastors/evangelists) also shepherd the flock.  Do we sacrifice ourselves for our sheep or we leave them to die of thirst?  We are to take our sheep to the river banks where they can get water (the Word of God).  As true believers we are to care for the sheep, and are to think about the sheep first and then ourselves.

Let us truly take care of the sheep—pray with them, feed them with the Word every day, and follow up with them—so that they should not be in any want.”

In The True Shepherd, Laura made the comparison between how Jesus has shepherded our lives, and how parents are to shepherd their children.

“When I see that sheep, I think about how my children are my sheep. They are mine to lead and take care of until they are grown.  It is my job to help them learn right from wrong.  It is my job to help start their spiritual foundation.  I am supposed to nurture them and help them.  They listen to my voice and look to me for security and love.

Just as my children are my sheep, we are the sheep of God.  We are His children.  When we listen to His voice and accept Him as our Savior, we become part of His flock.  Jesus laid down His life so that we may be reconciled to God and return from sin.  He went to the Cross to bring us home.  He is the Good Shepherd.”

Have you had the opportunity to read through these blogposts this week?  If not, I would encourage you to do so!  Our bloggers have made these as well as some other wonderful points to direct us towards Jesus, Who IS The Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us.

The Compassion Hymn

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There is an everlasting kindness
You lavished on us
When the Radiance of heaven Came to rescue the lost;
You called the sheep without a shepherd
To leave their distress
For your streams of forgiveness
And the shade of Your rest.

And with compassion for the hurting,
You reached out Your hand
As the lame ran to meet You
And the dead breathed again
You saw behind the eyes of sorrow
And shared in our tears
Heard the sigh of the weary
Let the children draw near

What boundless love, what fathomless grace
You have shown us, O God of compassion
Each day we live an offering of praise
As we show to the world Your compassion

We stood beneath the cross of Calvary
And gazed on Your face
At the thorns of oppression
And the wounds of disgrace
For surely You have borne our suffering
And carried our grief
As You pardoned the scoffer
And showed grace to the thief

How beautiful the feet that carry
This gospel of peace
To the fields of injustice
And the valleys of need
To be a voice of hope and healing
To answer the cries
Of the hungry and helpless
With the mercy of Christ.

Keith and Kristyn Getty
written along with Stuart Townend

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The meaning of compassion is to recognize the suffering of others,
then take action to help.

-from the mission statement of Compassion International

“If you would sum up the whole character of Christ in reference to ourselves,
it might be gathered into this one sentence:
He was moved with compassion.”
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Strong’s Concordance defines compassion in this way:

  • to have compassion
  • to have the bowels yearn, i.e., (figuratively) feel sympathy, to pity
  • have (be moved with) compassion

How about you…when you hear the word, compassion, what does it make you think of?  Surely amongst the first things that spring to mind would be how very compassionate is our loving Heavenly Father.  The Scriptures tell us in many places about His compassion toward mankind.  In fact, as part of a word study in the Bible on this attribute of God’s nature—compassion—I found (literally) over 125 individual Scriptures that talk about God’s compassion…His being compassionate and His having compassion.

Compassion is a defining characteristic of Who Almighty God is!  For example, in this record (Nehemiah 9), God’s compassion is spoken of seven separate times.

But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
And You did not forsake them.
Nehemiah 9:17

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.
Psalm 116:5

The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.
Psalm 145:9

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
Isaiah 30:18

But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:
It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed
because His [tender] compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self);
therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him,
to those who seek Him. It is good that one should hope in and wait
quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:21-26

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And, to be assured, there is record after record after record in the Gospel accounts of Jesus and the loving compassion He had for those around Him.

Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him,
and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Mark 1:41

When he went ashore He saw a great crowd,
and He had compassion on them,
because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
And He began to teach them many things.
Mark 6:34

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
Luke 7:13

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We, too, are to live the same.  As the words of this beautiful hymn express, “Each day we live an offering of praise as we show to the world Your compassion.”

Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience….
Colossians 3:12

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic,
love one another, be compassionate and humble.
1 Peter 3:8

But if anyone has this world’s goods
and sees his brother and fellow believer in need,
yet closes his heart of compassion against him,
how can the love of God live and remain in him?
1 John 3:17

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May we each today reach out to those around us…our loved ones, strangers, the untouchable, the harsh and critical, those who persecute us, those who do not understand us, the hurting, and the hurters…with this compassion that is ours to freely give by God’s grace.  May we be Christ’s love to them…and show them the love, grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness given at the Cross.

I Choose Jesus

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I have searched to find the meaning of this life
Something that would fill my empty soul
Some believe a lie, choose darkness over light
But I will stand and let the whole world know

I choose Jesus, I choose Jesus
The One who first chose me

I stand unashamed trusting in one Name
‘Cause I have seen the Cross and I believe
This choice comes at cost, all other things are lost
No other love could mean so much to me

I choose Jesus, I choose Jesus
The One who first chose me
I choose Jesus, I choose Jesus
For now and eternity

He chose to love me when I felt unlovable
He chose to reach me when I felt unreachable
He carried me out of my fear and doubt
How I want the world to know—I choose Jesus

Moriah Peters
along with songwriters: Tony Wood, Chuck Butler, Ed Cash

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Have you searched to find meaning and SOMEthing that would fill the emptiness of your soul?  I have….  Oh, how I have yearned to KNOW I was l-o-v-e-d!  Probably for most of the first quarter century of my  life, I attempted to fill that void. But nothing…not accomplishments, not approval, not food, not inappropriate relationships…nothing was able to fill that hole in my heart.  And, assuredly, there is nothing which COULD fill that hole in my heart…only Jesus.  Perhaps you have heard this quote,

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person,
and it can never be filled by any created thing.
It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”

(Blaise Pascal)

I think that describes it so well—a ‘God-shaped vacuum in the heart.’  I believe God created man (and woman) with that need.  And I know He perfectly provided for the filling of that vacuum when He made Adam and Eve and gave them the opportunity to have perfect fellowship with Him every moment of every day.  And I trust He would have always supplied their need…but they were deceived.   They chose to think that something else—being equal and alike to God Almighty—was the true answer to their needs.

But the serpent said to the woman,
You shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate.
Genesis 3:4-6

And, because they chose the deception of the enemy of their souls and disobeyed the One Who truly DID love them, they lost that fellowship and perfect connection and the fulfillment that a relationship with their God gave them.

And mankind has suffered under the sin of Adam since.  But God would not allow His plan, His desire to fail.  And He provided so that all of humanity could have that ‘God-shaped vacuum’ filled in the way He has originally planned.

By this the love of God was manifested in us,
that God has sent His only begotten Son
into the world so that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:9 and 10

Jesus IS the perfect and complete filling of that vacuum!  We do not need to search or attempt to fill the void inside…we need to accept God’s perfect provision making Jesus our Lord and Master and live our lives in obedience to Him.

In this beautiful song, Moriah Peters sings, “He chose to love me when I felt unlovable…He chose to reach me when I felt unreachable…He carried me out of my fear and doubt.”  No longer do I (nor you either!) have to search for something to fulfill the emptiness, the void.  We need to choose Jesus!  He has chosen me (you, too)!

Would you sing and praise along with me…

I choose Jesus, I choose Jesus
The One who first chose me
I choose Jesus, I choose Jesus
For now and eternity

Good-For-You Shamrock Shake

It is tradition to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in our family…heritage and all, y’know!  (Your name can’t be coleen ann brigit mcelroy hayden…and not recognize your Irish background!)  So while we have a really nice gluten-free ‘almost’ rye bread, and some lovely oven-roasted cabbage steaks to serve with the corned beef and other veggies, this little healthy indulgence fits in perfectly, too!  We enjoyed it in the morning.

So, I have to admit to indulging <in the past!> in a Shamrock Shake or two ;-) from a certain fast food place…uh-huh…you know what i mean!  But that just does NOT fit into our healthier eating lifestyle now…by God’s grace!…and so I took a little peek ‘n see about the nutrition facts (from the manufacturer) for that minty shake of my past.  Can you say “Holy Saint Paddy!”  530 calories, 86 grams of carbs (of which 73 were sugar carbs, mostly corn syrup), and 15 grams of fat in a 16 ounce cup!   If you were here, I would share these healthy but-oh-so-yummy! green minty “shakes” with you!

I think you will find this version equally satisfying and delicious.  I would love to hear from you if you decide to try this recipe!  Enjoy!

Good-for-you Shamrock Shake

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ingredients:
1 scoop protein powder
2 cups almond milk (or sub some full-fat coconut milk)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or 2 drops peppermint essential oil)
1 packet of stevia sweetener
1 cup greek yogurt (sweetened or unsweetened, your choice)
1 ripe avocado
2 handfuls of raw spinach
2 very ripe bananas, cut up and frozen
4 or 5 ice cubes

directions:

  • start off with the first six ingredients; blend for 10-15 seconds
  • pile in the balance of the ingredients and whirl away ‘til nicely blended!

This made more than enough for two big servings; the glasses pictured hold more than 14 ounces each.  You certainly can prepare this shake/smoothie in a standard blender, too. i would suggest doing it in two batches, however, using 1/2 of the ingredients at a time.

Also, check out this link…here are a few other options for making a healthier Shamrock Shake—one includes kale instead of spinach!— (note that some of these do include food coloring).

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

may the road rise up to meet you.
may the wind be always at your back.
may the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and, until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

God loves you!  ♥  (Don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen