Wednesday’s Worship: Better Word

Today’s song was a difficult choice, because there were a few different songs that I could have shared. But Sunday, an old song popped into my head, “Nothing But the Blood” by Matt Redman. The verse that stuck out was, “Your blood speaks a better word…” and I began to think about different aspects of the Word.

In Genesis, God spoke a word and the world, and everything within was formed. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Then John 1:14 described Jesus as the Word made flesh. In John 19, Jesus said that “it is finished” and then in Revelation 12 we read that Satan, the accuser, is conquered by the blood of the lamb and the word of the testimony of the believers.

And so, the song we’re looking at today is “Better Word” by Elevation Worship. Beside the chorus singing, “Nothing but the blood/A better word was spoken” the bridge goes on to state “I left my shame where the nails were,” and I can’t help but get excited about this song, and the fact that it reminds us of what Christ did for us on the cross. There aren’t a lot of current songs that talk about our sin and need for Christ–it’s actually something that I personally feel has prevented revival in this generation; a lack of brokenness and repentance, but that’s a conversation for another date.

Check out the lyrics below and listen for yourself to this simple, but beautiful song describing an individual who finally realizes there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. It’s only by the blood shed on the cross that we’re saved, and it’s to that, we cling.

What can wash away the guilty stain
After all the wrong I’ve done?
I’ve already tried a thousand ways
But it’s never been enough
What could be enough?

Chorus: Nothing but the blood
A better word was spoken
Oh, I know it was
Nothing but the blood
Every curse was broken
Oh, I know it was
Nothing but the blood
Nothing but the blood

And when I’m reminded of my shame
To the fountain I will run
Every failure covered now in grace
For the Lamb has overcome
What can overcome?

Bridge: On that cross, hallelujah
I left my shame where the nails were
Jesus Christ, O Lamb of God
Be lifted higher forever
On that cross, hallelujah
I left my shame where the nails were
Jesus Christ, O Lamb of God
Be lifted higher forever

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Wednesday’s Worship: Even Louder

I woke up Sunday in a mood; one of those moods where I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep through church. The hubby went in to church early, because he was playing percussion for the worship team, so I forced myself to get up and get ready before Cookie Girl woke up. I was trying not to let my downcast mood get to me and started listening to worship as I got breakfast ready for the both of us, and “Even Louder” performed by ISAAC began playing. And my mood began to change as I sung…even when my eyes can’t see it/I’ll sing ’til I believe it/Even Louder/Even Louder.

Sometimes we have a hard time facing the day, because of the things that are going on in our lives, or the enemy is playing games with our emotions, or whatever reason, and we have to remember that we praise God because of who He is; and the only thing to do is praise Him right on through the storms and struggles. I love the lyrics of this song because they talk about God’s faithfulness, holiness, & love; how He’s worthy of praise; and how even when it’s difficult we’ll choose to worship Him.

Faithful in the sanctuary/Faithful in the storm/Worthy in the empty spaces/Worthy in my song

Pre-Chorus: A thousand years of endless praise/Will never be enough/Through it all my heart will cling/To Your unfailing love

Chorus: Even if the drums stop beating/My soul will keep on singing/Even louder/Even louder/Even when my eyes can’t see it/I’ll sing ’til I believe it/Even louder/Even louder

You are holy in the highest places/Holy in the flood/Even in a world that’s changing/I will lift You up

Bridge: I will sing Your promise in the dark of the valley/’Til I see your goodness in the land of the living

This is a pretty simple song for a congregation to sing, has an upbeat tempo, and would be a great addition to a worship set list.

Book Review – God of Creation: A Study of Genesis 1-11

God’s been impressing a lot on my heart these last few weeks, as I’ve been studying the book of Proverbs, so I figured I should get this book review on God of Creation, by Jen Wilkin posted while it’s still somewhat fresh in my memory.

I tend to be somewhat wary of studies created by, or directed towards, women. Mostly, because I love expository teaching of the Word, and most women’s studies tend to be a little more expressive; and I really just want to know more about the Word. But after finishing this study, I felt like I really do have a better understanding of Scripture, and I felt like even my husband would enjoy this!

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God of Creation is a 10-week study on Genesis, chapters 1-11. “But I know what happens in these chapters, why would I want to do this study?” Here’s the thing, before I begin any study, I pray that God will reveal something new to me. I mean, I’ve read and learned about Genesis 1-11, since I was a little girl. However, it’s incredibly important as believers, that we never stop learning, and seeking God’s wisdom and insight. And no matter how much we study the Word, God always wants to reveal something new to us. I always say the Bible is like an onion, with endless layers; which the Holy Spirit peels back, one layer at a time.

This study covers creation, the fall, Cain & Abel, the flood, and more. Some of my favorite aspects about it are its lack of fill-in-the-blank notes and its use of open-ended questions. I love the questions because they encourage the reader to think for themselves; and thinking critically about the Bible is an important skill that all believers should strive to acquire.

Some things I learned from this study are the importance of repetition in the Word; to pay attention to how things are ordered in Scripture; and to not just skim over genealogies, because they have a purpose, and not just for scholars.

I’d recommend this study to anybody, really; and I’m looking forward to Jen Wilkin’s continuation of Genesis in God of Covenant: A Study of Genesis 12-50 which is supposed to be released in January 2019.

Music & Lyrics

I’ve been debating the best way to use this page. Lately, I’ve been listening to a ton of worship music and finding some great songs, that really aren’t all that popular. I think it’s because we just get in a rut, and stick with artists that we’re familiar with.

So, that’s what we’re going to do here!

Each week I’ll share with you a new worship song that I’m enjoying. I’ll tell you why, I’ll share some lyrics, and the YouTube video (if there is one). And you get to hear something new (hopefully), or perhaps uncover something you heard a long time ago and have simply forgotten. So check back next Wednesday, for a new installment of Wednesday’s Worship.

Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

FontCandy (12)When I was little, I learned a lot of Scripture through song, and the verses to the left are an example of that. I do most of my private Bible study in my Amplified Bible (AMP), because it provides additional phases of meaning included in the original word, phrase, or clause of the original language and clarifying words or comments; I also like the English Standard Version (ESV, which is more of a word for word translation). But most of the Scripture I have memorized, is either in the King James (KJV) or New International (NIV), since that’s what I grew up with.

Therefore, when I come across familiar verses such as these in my AMP Bible–I sing the song, lol–and take notice of the additional words used that I might gain greater insight into the text.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP

Recently, I’ve noticed Facebook posts including Scripture, and then people stating their personal opinion regarding said Scripture. Basically, they attempt to void the Scripture, with their opinion. However, if something is found in the Word of God, it’s not opinion, it’s Truth. We have opinions, but God sets the standard. If our opinion goes against the Word, we’re in the wrong; and we’re being rebellious.

But…but…the are no buts. As the Bible tells us, we’re not to be relying on our own understanding of how we think things should be, because God doesn’t think like us. It’s us who should be striving to see the world as He does! If the Bible says something that we don’t understand or agree with, then we should pray that God change our heart (and mind) and help us to see as He sees, or to help us be obedient in that area, even if/when we don’t understand.

I guess what it comes down to is, are we confident that the Lord is good (perfect), and that His ways and plans are higher and greater than our own? Are we dependent upon Him for direction and revelation? Do we trust Him, fully, completely? If so, then we have to trust that what He says in His Word is true, whether we agree with it or not.

Furthermore, sometimes we simply don’t agree with something because it’s being taken out of context. This is one reason why I say the Bible needs to be read in its entirety. You may find that in one book you’ll find something that you think contradicts another verse, but in reality it simply gives us greater understanding and insight into what God really meant. The God of the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament, with the same love for humanity, but He’s also holy, righteous, sovereign, and oh-so-wise.

So, let’s keep our eyes on the path ahead, and not turn to the right or left (Proverbs 4:25-27). Let’s remember that His Word is truth and our opinion, just that, our opinion. We don’t see the big picture as He does, but if we’re believers, the Holy Spirit can help us not to just see, but also to walk in obedience, trusting in the Lord every step of the way.

Characteristics of the Wise as Found in Proverbs

Originally this post was supposed to be about the characteristics the book of Proverbs says we should look for in our friends. However, upon further review, I realized that we’re someone’s friend, and we shouldn’t expect something of others that we aren’t willing to aspire to ourselves. So, instead we’re going to take a look at the characteristics God desires to see in us–and our friends.

Based on the book of Proverbs, not only does God desire that we hold Him in highest esteem and reverence, He also God desires that we be…

  • Kind & merciful
    • A righteous man has kind regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10, AMP)
    • He who oppresses the poor taunts and insults his Maker, but he who is kind and merciful and gracious to the needy honors Him.” (Proverbs 14:31, AMP)
  • Ever-learning, or seekers of knowledge
    • “A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none [for his ears are closed to wisdom], but knowledge is easy for one who understands [because he is willing to learn].” (Proverbs 14:6, AMP)
    • The mind of the prudent [always] acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise [always] seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15, AMP)
  • Seekers of wisdom & wise counsel
    • Happy [blessed, considered fortunate, to be admired] is the man who finds [skillful and godly] wisdom, and the man who gains understanding and insight [learning from God’s word and life’s experiences], for wisdom’s profit is better than the profit of silver, and her gain is better than fine gold.” (Proverbs 3:13-14, AMP)
    • The wise will inherit honor and glory, but dishonor and shame is conferred on fools.” (Proverbs 3:35, AMP)
  • Forgiving
    • “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.” (Proverbs 17:9, AMP)
  • Humble
    • Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners, yet He gives His grace [His undeserved favor] to the humble [those who give up self-importance].” (Proverbs 3:34, AMP)
    • The reward of humility [that is, having a realistic view of one’s importance] and the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord is riches, honor, and life.” (Proverbs 22:4, AMP)
    • A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23, AMP)
  • Disciplined & obedient
    • Take hold of instruction; [actively seek it, grip it firmly and] do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. (Proverbs 4:13, AMP)
    • Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected]
      is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble].” (Proverbs 25:28, AMP)
    • “He who keeps the law [of God and man] is a wise and discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father [and himself].” Proverbs 28:7, AMP)
  • Righteous
    • “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just and righteous.” (Proverbs 3:33, AMP)
    • “The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs—how blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow].” (Proverbs 20:7, AMP)
    • He who earnestly seeks righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21, AMP)
  • Just
    • The violence of the wicked will drag them away, because they refuse to do justice.” (Proverbs 21:7, AMP)
    • “These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judgment is not good.” (Proverbs 24:23, AMP)
    • Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are unfortunate and defenseless; open your mouth, judge righteously, and administer justice for the afflicted and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9, AMP)
  • People of integrity
    • “He stores away sound wisdom for the righteous [those who are in right standing with Him]; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity [those of honorable character and moral courage].” (Proverbs 2:7, AMP)
    • For the upright [those who are in right standing with God] will live in the land and those [of integrity] who are blameless [in God’s sight] will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous shall be [forcibly] uprooted and removed from it.” (Proverbs 2:21-22, AMP)
    • Like a muddied fountain and a polluted spring is a righteous man who yields and compromises his integrity before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26, AMP)
  • Discerning
    • “Hear, O children, the instruction of a father, and pay attention [and be willing to learn] so that you may gain understanding and intelligent discernment.
      For I give you good doctrine; do not turn away from my instruction.” (Proverbs 4:1-2, AMP)
    • “The naive or inexperienced person [is easily misled and] believes every word he hears, but the prudent man [is discreet and astute and] considers well where he is going. A wise man suspects danger and cautiously avoids evil, but the fool is arrogant and careless.” (Proverbs 14:15-16, AMP)
  • Diligent
    • “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the negligent and lazy will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24, AMP)
    • The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, but everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5, AMP)
  • Slow to anger
    • “The [arrogant] fool’s anger is quickly known [because he lacks self-control and common sense], but a prudent man ignores an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16, AMP)
    • “Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger, and it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment].” (Proverbs 19:11, AMP)
    • Do not even associate with a man given to angry outbursts; or go [along] with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his [undisciplined] ways and get yourself trapped [in a situation from which it is hard to escape].” (Proverbs 22:24-25, AMP)
  • Speakers of truth, honest & reliable
    • The thoughts and purposes of the [consistently] righteous are just (honest, reliable), but the counsels and schemes of the wicked are deceitful.” (Proverbs 12:5, AMP)
    • Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is [credited] only for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19, AMP)
    • A false witness will perish, but a man who listens to the truth will speak forever and go unchallenged.” (Proverbs 21:28, AMP)
  • Slow to speak, or we think before speaking
    • A shrewd man is reluctant to display his knowledge [until the proper time], but the heart of [over-confident] fools proclaims foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23, AMP)
    • He who has knowledge restrains and is careful with his words, and a man of understanding and wisdom has a cool spirit (self-control, an even temper).” (Proverbs 17:27, AMP)
    • He who answers before he hears [the facts]—it is folly and shame to him.” (Proverbs 18:13, AMP)
  • Accepting of correction
    • The ear that listens to and learns from the life-giving rebuke (reprimand, censure) will remain among the wise.” (Proverbs 15:31, AMP)
    • Listen to counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.” (Proverbs 19:20, AMP)
    • When the scoffer is punished, the naive [observes the lesson and] becomes wise; but when the wise and teachable person is instructed, he receives knowledge.” (Proverbs 21:11, AMP)
  • Peaceable, or having a soft-spoken and gentle spirit
    • There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18, AMP)
    • “A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath, but harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1, AMP)
    • “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife and keep aloof from it, but every fool will quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3, AMP)

These are not all inclusive, and many of these have multiple Scripture to back them up, but for sake of time I maxed them out at 3 verses. Lastly, again, I encourage you to read the book of Proverbs on your own. See what other characteristics of the wise leap out at you, and share with us in the comments below!

Take care. May God bless you. And be sure to come back in the upcoming weeks for more on the book of Proverbs.

Family Meal Planning on a Budget

Beside the cost of housing, food, literally, eats up one of the largest percentages of the average family budget. If we’re not careful, we could easily end up spending way more than we can afford on dining out and groceries. Our family rarely eats out, although, we do budget a small sum each month “just in case” we need to eat on the go. Instead, we try to plan and shop smart, for meals at home.

I haven’t done a budget grocery post since 2015’s Pantry Staples on a Frugal Budget, when I was unmarried, and without a child; and I thought now would be a good time to do so. Back then, I wasn’t cooking or eating (as a nursing mom) nearly as much as now, and cooking for 1 is much different than cooking for 2 adults and a choosy toddler. Furthermore, since I’m a stay-at-home momma (SAHM), I’m making food and snacks for myself and Cookie Girl throughout the day. So, my $30 a week budget from 3 years ago, definitely wouldn’t fly today. Now, we have about a $100 weekly budget. Some weeks we spend a little more and others a little less, but since we create a monthly budget (using the Every Dollar app), as long as we stay within what we’ve budgeted for groceries for the month, we’re good to go.

I’m gonna be honest, I struggled with meal prep and budgeting, for a while after baby was born. The hubbs did a lot of the cooking and grocery shopping, and while he’s a great cook (thank you, Lord), he doesn’t care much for sticking to a budget. When I did begin cooking again, it was a challenge because our family needs had changed. When we both worked outside the home, I would batch cook on the weekends so we’d have frozen/leftover meals for lunch and make simple stuff for dinner during the week. However, I’m no longer working outside the home, and we now live 30 minutes away from town; so we need meals that require little time for preparation, or we’ll end up eating fast food. Now that I’m a home during the day (for the most part), I have a little more freedom to make a variety of delicious, but simple home-cooked meals.

So, how are we doing it? Well, we’re still following those simple tips from that 2015 post, but we’re also incorporating the following…

  1. Monday morning I plan my week. That way I know what’s happening during the week.20180910_120555.jpg
  2. Then I plan my meals around what we’ll be doing during the week. We usually have leftovers on the days I won’t have time to cook, use the slow cooker, or pull out a freezer meal. (We’ve been testing recipes from the “Seriously Good Freezer Meals” cookbook; so far, I love it.)
  3. I plan 4 meals for the next week, so I can go grocery shopping the week before. That means, I have all the groceries I need this week, because I picked them up last week.
  4. I do most of our shopping at Aldi. We buy practically everything at Aldi because you just can’t beat their prices. Yes, it’s further away for me–we have a grocery store much closer to home–but the prices are nowhere near the prices we can get at Aldi. If there’s something I can’t find there, then I’ll go to another grocery store. (Note: Target is not a grocery store! Grocery prices tend to be much higher there.)
  5. We only go to Costco twice a month. I’ve found that if I made weekly trips to Costco I would over-spend every time and always end up busting our budget. When I do go, we only pick up pantry items, or items we can freeze, like meat, fish, chicken nuggets, peanut butter, bread, or rice; items that won’t spoil before we can eat it all and that will last us for a long time. There’s no point in purchasing groceries at a good price only to have them spoil. Additionally, Costco’s prices aren’t always the best deals you can find; I hardly ever buy fresh produce there, because the prices are too high. Always compare the cost per unit/lb/oz before purchasing.

As you can see, that takes care of dinner. As far as breakfast and lunch go, there are always items we keep on hand.

  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Milk (Almond milk in our house)
  • Rice
  • Lunch meat & sliced cheese
  • Peanut butter & jelly (The hubby’s go-to are PB & J sandwiches.)
  • Kodiak cakes (pancake mix)
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar/Stevia
  • Pasta
  • Cheese (blocks)
  • Frozen fruit & vegetables
  • Cheerios
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Tomato Sauce & paste
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Canned beans
  • Coffee & creamer
  • Fruit & veggie pouches
  • Fresh fruit
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Garlic (fresh or minced)
  • Vegetable/olive oil
  • Butter
  • Chicken/Beef Bouillon, powder, or stock
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, chili powder, oregano, etc. (we have a pretty big collection)

Some of these we only keep on hand because we have a 13-month-old in the house, the fruit & veggie pouches, and Cheerios, for instance.

But these are pretty much staple items that we try to always keep on hand in our house. From here, we can fill in the gaps for specific recipes we put on the menu. Usually, that would include meat or fish, fresh herbs or veggies, or milk or heavy cream. Planning our weekly meals, grocery shopping with a written list, and on a full stomach are just some of the things that we do to prevent us from overspending on our groceries each month (which is very easy to do). What are some of the ways you save on groceries?