Is God the Author of Disasters or a Deliverer from Them?


Have you ever noticed religious people believe natural disasters, crises, and pandemics are how God gets people to repent? They believe God is behind all these events to punish people for their sins. Their so-called gospel isn’t good news but a threat that more trouble is on its way if you don’t repent and stop sinning.
People who promote such false and misguided ideas show their lack of understanding of what the gospel is all about. The apostle Paul, writing to the Roman church, which was suffering under severe persecution told them it is God’s goodness that leads a person to repentance (Romans 2:4). He goes on to tell them that nothing can separate them from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39).
Paul wanted this young church to know that when you face or go through tragedy, tribulations or persecutions, etc. it has nothing at all to do with how God feels about you. It is also not to be seen as His punishment for your sins. If God was punishing people for their sins today, He would owe Jesus an apology because at the cross, Jesus paid the price for all our sins: past, present, and future. God isn’t sending pandemics, tornadoes, tsunamis or manmade disasters to punish people for their sins or to pressure them to repent.
Jesus taught the Pharisees that He would use mercy to turn sinners to God (Matthew 9:13). He proved that showing people mercy would, in fact, help them turn away from their sins to God. The woman caught in adultery in John 8 was told by Jesus He wouldn’t condemn her for her sin. He empowered her through forgiveness and mercy to live free from her sin. The demoniac in Mark 5 was set free by Jesus. Afterward, he testified to his city about the compassion of the Lord and how He freed him from his torment. 
One of the worst sinners around, a tax collector named Zacchaeus in Luke 19, had his life turned around because Jesus visited his house. He stopped stealing and returned all he stole four-fold to his victims—all because Jesus showed him mercy.
Religious people struggle to understand mercy because the stronghold in their belief system is built around working and earning their favor and righteousness with God. Why would we need mercy if we could be good enough to earn it from God? 
One of the main conflicts Jesus had with the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day revolves around Jesus showing sinners mercy. The religious establishment saw this as weakness or as some would say today, “a license to sin.” For example, the prostitute who came into the home of a Pharisee and washed and perfumed the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:36-50).
The self-righteous Pharisees were appalled that Jesus, being a man of God, would even let a sinner like this woman touch Him. However, Jesus went on to explain that she would love God more than they would because she knew without His mercy she had no hope. Jesus offered her forgiveness; this act of mercy helped her fall in love with God.
When people attribute natural or manmade tragedies to God, they do far more damage than they realize. They give the impression that there is no difference between God and the Devil. When people are confused about who does what, it directly affects their ability to trust God. It is no wonder many people want nothing at all to do with a God like that. This is why Jesus came to show us what His Father is like (John 14:9). 
When we see Jesus interact with people, we see the will of God in action. How Jesus dealt with sinners in His day is no different from how God deals with them today. Jesus didn’t make people sick or even withhold healing to punish them for their sins. No one ever had to ask Jesus for forgiveness. He freely offered them forgiveness all the time. He wanted them to know the heart of His Father wasn’t about holding their sins against them (Psalm 103:2-10). If God wasn’t holding their sins against them, it also meant He wasn’t punishing them for their sins. He also would not use them as an excuse for not desiring a relationship with Him.
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
The resurrection of Jairus’ daughter is a classic example of God’s mercy. Jairus wasn’t a follower of Jesus. You could say being the head of the synagogue, he was a leader of the opposition. No doubt he read many reports of Jesus healing the sick and performing miracles. 
As his daughter grew weaker and closer to death, Jairus made the decision to reach out to Jesus for help. He loved his daughter more than his job or the prestige it gave him. Going to Jesus for help would most likely cost him his position and respect in his religious community.
Jesus, who taught His disciples to love their enemies, is now walking that powerful truth out in front of them. Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. What kind of impact do you think that had upon Jairus and his family, as well as the community that was preparing for a funeral? If tragedy brings people to repentance then Jesus obviously didn’t know that because His actions undid tragic situations. He ruined every funeral He ever attended and when a wedding ran out of wine, He turned what could have been an embarrassing situation for the host into a joyous occasion.
Don’t let religious people who have no understanding of the gospel redefine the nature and character of God. Allow Jesus to reveal who God is to you to your heart.
O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You and has never acknowledged You [and the revelation of Your mercy], yet I have always known You; and these [believers] know [without any doubt] that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them [overwhelming their heart], and I [may be] in them. (John 17:25-26, Amplified Bible) 
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
It is God’s blessing that helps people turn away from sin, not natural or manmade disasters.
“Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26).


What Does It Mean to “Be Willing and Obedient?” (Isaiah 1:19)


As young believers preparing for the ministry in Bible school, we were often quoted a verse that became very well-known in our circles.
“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).
The main idea being conveyed to us is the importance of obedience to God. Don’t misunderstand me; I believe obedience to God is how we should always live our lives. However, what I didn’t know at that time—which I learned much later—is exactly what is the “obedience” God is calling us to that makes it possible for us to “eat the good of the land.” I had assumed it was directly connected to my performance in hearing and obeying God’s specific direction for my life. For example, if God told me to go to such and such place and do XYZ, and I obeyed Him, I would be mightily blessed, which equals “eating the good of the land.” Moreover, if I wanted to stay blessed, I had better be 100% obedient or I wouldn’t experience the good of the land. 
When you study the apostle Paul’s life and missionary journeys, you begin to question if “eating the good of the land” is something Paul might have missed out on. I doubt prison food was up to Michelin Star status or he had turndown service with a mint left on his pillow each night. Yet, no one would question Paul’s devotion and obedience to God. At times, he did experience royal treatment but more often than not he suffered persecution and fought off wild animals to spread the gospel. So I think the term, “good of the land” might have a much deeper meaning than just material wealth and comfort. 
As I grew in my knowledge of the New Covenant and understanding of God’s character, I began to see that it isn’t my obedience that earns God’s favor and blessings in my life. It is all about what Jesus did for us that enabled us to have access to all the blessings and promises of God.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
It is important to know that the book of Isaiah is prophetic and all about Jesus the coming Messiah. When I went back to study this book, as  I read the first chapter, I saw something that thrilled my heart and filled me with joy. Isaiah 1:19 wasn’t about my performance. It wasn’t saying that being perfectly obedient to God earned me the right to “eat the good of the land.” Rather, it has to do with my heart agreeing with what God desired to do about my sins. Verse 18 referred to how God planned to cleanse people from their sins, so they could enjoy all of His blessings in their lives. This was all about Jesus and what He would accomplish on the cross for us. The obedience God requires is for us to simply trust Him to do what only He can do.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:18-19).
The willingness and obedience God is talking about are aimed at the belief of our hearts. Will we believe that God will turn our crimson red sins as white as snow? And will we live our lives knowing and believing we are white as wool and snow? The “obedience” God requires of us, so we can “eat the good of the land” is believing He has made us righteous in Him. God is good all the time. When we know this, we can enjoy His goodness all the time.
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).
There is nothing as tasty and delicious as knowing and experiencing God’s goodness. It isn’t material wealth that is the “good of the land.” It is living this life in a loving relationship with a good God that is.
Don’t trust in your obedience. Instead, trust or have faith in the obedience of Christ on your behalf. It is His blood that cleanses you from all sins. It makes you as white as wool and snow.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

These Lemon Meltaway Cookies truly melt-in-your-mouth!
COURSE: DESSERT
CUISINE: AMERICAN
KEYWORD: COOKIES, LEMON DESSERTS, LEMON MELTAWAYS
SERVINGS: 32 COOKIES
CALORIES: 63 KCAL
AUTHOR: AMANDA RETTKE

INGREDIENTS
COOKIES
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (96g) cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup (96g) confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 cup (128g) all-purpose flour
GLAZE
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar,divided
  • 6 -8 teaspoons whole milk,divided
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • yellow food color, optional
INSTRUCTIONS
COOKIES

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer, mix the butter and cornstarch until well combined and lighter in color.

  3. Turn mixer off and add in confectioners sugar.

  4. With the mixer on low, and the lemon extract and mix until ingredients are fully incorporated.

  5. Turn mixer off and add flour. With the mixer on low to medium-low, mix until the dough comes together (pulls away from sides of the bowl).

  6. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, (you can also use a tablespoon measuring spoon) remove about a tablespoon of dough. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. (for a standard cookie sheet you can fit at least 8 cookies, a larger cookie sheet can hold about 14)

  7. Once the cookie sheet is full, gently roll each between your hands until it is a smooth ball.

  8. Bake 8-10 minutes.

  9. Right out of the oven take a glass with a flat bottom (that is smaller than the cookie) and gently press into the cookie.

  10. Allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Make sure cookies are completely cool before adding glaze.

GLAZE
  1. In a medium bowl add 1 cup confectioners sugar, 3 teaspoons of milk, and 1 teaspoon lemon extract. It’s best to start with 1 teaspoon of the extract and sample as you go. (Some prefer less, some folks prefer more intense flavor.)

  2. Stir until smooth. Place in a piping bag and seal with a rubber band.
  3. In another bowl add 1 cup confections sugar, 3 teaspoons milk, and 1 drop of yellow food color. Stir until smooth.

Spiritual Growth

Misconceptions about spiritual Growth

1. Spiritual growth is automatic

2. Spiritual growth is achievable in isolation

3. Spiritual growth is directly related to how much Bible knowledge one has.

Stages of spiritual growth :

1. Nepios: Simple minded(0-2years)- unskilled, struggling under bondage.

1cor 3:1, Heb 5:13, Gal 4:3

2. Paidion: (3-12years) a young child who is a little advance. Instant obedience. Growing fast.

Luke 2:40, Mark 10:13

3. Teknon: ( 13-29years) following family traits

Gal 4:19

4. Huios: (30years) – It is the stage of maturity.

Matthew 3:16-17

5. Teleios: A stage of total perfection

Heb 5:14

Accelerating Spiritual growth

  1. Life transforming truth
  2. Continuous awareness of God’s presence in our lives
  3. Practicing spiritual disciplines
  4. Significant relationships

Peri peri chicken

It’s very easy to make your Peri- Peri Chicken at home. This one-pan meal of roasted chicken with savoury rice is full of “dee-liciousness”. Best served with a green salad, caramelized potatoes or baked vegetables.

Chicken Marinate

Whole Chicken 1 (Medium)
Garlic cloves 10 (Grated on a micro plane or crushed)
Lemon juice from 2 lemons
Smoked paprika 3 tsp (Can use ground paprika or chilli powder if the smoked paprika not available)
Bay leaf powder 1 tsp (if not use dried bay leaf and crush the leaf)
Rock salt 2 tbs
Unsalted butter 2 tbs
Scotch Whisky 1/3 cup or 80ml

Peri peri sauce

Bird eye chillies – 10
Lemon juice from ½ a lemon
Garlic cloves 2 (Grated on a micro plane or crushed)
Salt to taste
Olive oil – 1/3 cup

Pre heat the oven to 180 degree celsius.

Clean and wash the chicken, wipe the chicken with a paper towel. Remove the wishbone from the chicken and butterfly the chicken from the breast side, not the backbone side. Flatten the chicken on a baking tray and randomly make some inserts in the chicken skin.

Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl and pour over the chicken. Massage marinade onto the chicken to absorb all the flavours.

Leave the marinated chicken in the fridge overnight for best result. You can use a BBQ or smoker to cook the chicken.

If you don’t have a BBQ or smoker, use an oven-safe pan. Heat the pan for 3-4 minutes on a lower heat. Add a splash of olive oil and place the chicken skin side down and cook for 5-8 minutes until the chicken skin is caramelized. Turnover and cook for another 5 minutes.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce, until the mixture is emulsified. Use a pastry brush and brush the chicken with peri peri sauce both sides. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the oven for 45-50 minutes to cook.

Baste the chicken every 10-15 minutes with peri peri sauce. Once the chicken is cooked, rest the chicken in a tray for 10 minutes. Chop up the chicken into medium portions.

Savory Rice

2 cups Basmati Rice (preferably cooked the day before)
Red Capsicum 1 small
Green Capsicum 1 small
Yellow Capsicum 1 small
Red onion 1
Garlic cloves 1
Bay leaf dried 2
Paprika 1 tbs
Turmeric Powder 1 ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Peri peri sauce 2 tbs (Which is used for chicken)

Cook the rice according to the instruction on the packet. Add the turmeric powder and salt to the rice, for better results cook the rice day before.

Dice capsicums, onion and garlic. Heat up a wok with a splash of olive oil. Add bay leaf, onion and garlic to the wok, cook until caramelized.

Then add diced capsicum and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and paprika to the wok and mix well, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the rice to the wok and mix well, then add the peri peri sauce to the rice. Cook for another 5 minutes until it’s ready.

Faith speaks out boldly

2 Corinthians 4:13 ‘It is written:’I believed; therefore I have spoken’. Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak’.

Jesus responded to satan with ‘IT IS WRITTEN’.

Paul responded with ‘IT IS WRITTEN’.

The best way for us to respond is, ‘IT IS WRITTEN’.

The grace of faith combined with ‘IT IS WRITTEN’ is an effectual remedy against fainting in times of trouble.

According to that which is WRITTEN, I BELIEVED, and therefore have I SPOKEN; we also believe, and therefore speak, without fear or timidity.

Faith speaks out boldly but fear brings timidity.

Your faith will confess what you believe. Not even trouble, adversity, or suffering can silence faith. Faith speaks out through adversity.

Speak and testify that your deliverance is from God. He does not fail those who trust in Him, and He saves to the uttermost those who come to Him through Christ Jesus.

We as believers do not speak like God speaks when we choose our own words. We must speak like God speaks, to get Heaven’s backing.

Speak words of faith that God, by His Holy Spirit, has given. Even in your greatest dangers, trials and tribulations, you should speak what you believe; and you will believe right when you speak what is WRITTEN.

Your business may be down, but what do you believe? You may be facing employment issues, financial crisis, marital problems, physical challenges; but what do you believe? What you believe makes all the difference.

Even a lie, if said long enough will get you wonder at some point, ‘what is the actual truth about this thing?’.

Today, I pray that the Holy Spirit strengthen you to speak out. Not speak out your fears, not speak out your problems, not speak out your confusions but what is WRITTEN.

I am blessed. I am prosperous, I am healed. I have a goodly heritage. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I am the head and not the tail. I believe, therefore I have spoken.

When your faith is in God, God will rescue you.

Only believe and receive.

HOME MADE PINEAPPLE JAM

Since we came to Rwanda, we enjoy fresh fruits. They are available everywhere. I love mango, varieties of banana, strawberry, papaya, guava, pineapple etc. You name the fruit and it is on dining plate. Some time due to availibilty we dont comsider them much. Kids they love fruits but when it becomes regular they refuse. So I thought of using Crush pineapple to sharpen my cooking skill as well something new in the kitchen, which kids love. HOME MADE PINEAPPLE JAM

ALL YOU NEED

4 Cups of mashed

2 cups of sugar

1/4 cup of orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1/4 T spoon of cinnamon powder( optional)

Best part of this recipe there is no time management confusion. You take all ingredients and Stir in the mash pineapple in a heavy pan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Once it start to boil make sure sugar is dissolved. Turn up the flame to high, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the mixture thickens. (I continually stirred mixtur to remain up to half of its quantity.)

Take clean glass container/jar keep it open, under sun for one hour. Put 1/4 Tspoon of cinnamon powder and pour jam in that jar ( Do not stir with cinnamon powder). Keep refrigerated. Always use dry spoon to scoop your jam.

I also use this with whipping cream to sandwich my vanilla cake.

It’s a blessing to live on this blessed land.

He is

He was always a mystery to me. I was always attracted to him. But I felt as he is not interested in me. Many times I thought he doesn’t even know of my existence. Many times I hesitated to face him because he always shown as he is ignoring me.

I was ready to accept anything but his ignorance. If I am not worth I can understand but before even knowing my worth, “disqualifying me” was not accepted. I was failing to draw his attention to me. I was going through many painful foolishness to prove my presence but still I did not see any reaction in him.

I was determined, that’s what people say but I am a stubborn, is my reality. I have also decided not to give up. I have started to chase him. People gave me many names. Some I bothered but most I did not.

Year after year I realised the passion for him was given by Him. His strategy was different than others. I myself was a full time project for him. It is his ignorance brought me upto this point where I see him next to me. He cried for me. He loved me before me. His plans for me always higher than my plans. He loves me more than any one else. I realized very late that he will never leave and forsake me. His love for me is unfailing love. As I am passionate for him, he is for me. When I do something for him he makes all things for me.

Cont.