“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

What child has not heard that query and what young person has not pondered its implications?

Ein Hirtenknabe by Franz von Lenbach

To a child the options seem nearly limitless. We smile at the enthusiasm of the bright-eyed little boy who, clomping around in his favorite boots, dreams of becoming a cowboy one day, only to inform us the very next day that he is going to be an astronaut instead. We smile recalling our own childish dreams and fancies. But, as that little boy scampers off to try his hand at stargazing, we are reminded that life is big and complicated, not unlike the vast universe he is trying to glimpse through his tiny telescope.

Life’s path, which seemed straightforward as a child, now twists and turns. Hopes are dashed and cherished dreams lie shattered in the dust. How can we fulfill God’s purpose for our lives now as we stand bewildered at the dead end to which our lives seem to have come? We are in desperate need of a shepherd–the Shepherd–to guide us through the chaos and lead us in His perfect path.

The Lord is my Shepherd…He leadeth me.

Several years ago my own path took a sharp turn. The bright green meadow, the idyllic pastureland to which I had been heading, was suddenly barred before me. “No Trespassing!” glared the sign on the imposing barricade.

“How can this be?” I wondered in shocked disbelief. “The path has been arduous, but the hope of soon reaching this bright meadow had spurred me on. Now that I am here, entrance is denied me?” With reeling mind and aching heart I frantically examined the fence line, “Surely this is a mistake! There must be a way in.”

“Keep Out! Violators Will Be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law” was the stern rejoinder.

I lifted my tear-stained face and bleary eyes to the Shepherd. “Did I mistake the path? I thought this was the way You were leading me.”

With deep compassion His nailed scarred hand pointed to the dark, rugged track veering off to my right.

“No! Not that way!” the tears began to stream again. “It is too dark and lonely a path. The rocks are jagged, the cliffs sheer, and the wind fierce. Why am I denied entrance into this beautiful, peaceful meadow? Was it my disobedience and unbelief as I followed the path to this point?” I fell on my knees, confessing my sin, pleading for the Shepherd’s forgiveness.

Lovingly He assured me of His complete forgiveness—He Himself had paid the penalty for my sin. His deep scars bore eloquent testimony.

My eyes turned again to the bright meadow. Bird song drifted from beyond the fence. Tall, lush grass rippled in the gentle breeze. The happy gurgle of a brook echoed just out of sight. “Why may I not enter this joyful haven?”

Slowly He shook His head and again pointed to the treacherous path. “This is the way you must go. Do not fear. I will never leave you or forsake you. You must simply trust and obey.”

I wept and pleaded, but His answer did not change. Finally, with heavy heart and weary feet, I yielded to His will.

Time has lessened the sting of the initial blow. Distance has given clearer perspective. Although I do not fully understand the leading of my Shepherd—questions still haunt my mind on occasion—I know His way is best. In faithfulness He is leading me.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” Psalm 23.

What glorious hope is offered in that 23rd Psalm! The Lord Himself leads His sheep. He leads me, and, if you are a member of His fold (John 10:27-28), He leads you.

Recently I encountered another bright meadow, more beautiful than the first. Again the way was barred. I trust my Shepherd. By His grace He is teaching me to say:

“My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word.

Remove the false way from me, And graciously grant me Your law.

I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me.

I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame!

I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart” Psalm 119:28-32.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Little Ann Sucking Her Finger Embraced by Her Mother by Mary Cassatt

A dear family in my church is expecting their tenth child next month. Monday night we celebrated this joyous event with a baby shower. I was asked to give a devotional; below is what the Lord laid on my heart to share (with some minor editing for the sake of clarity and readability).

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What do the following people have in common?

  • Franz Schubert—the famous Austrian composer
  • Bedřich Smetana—the “Father of Czech Music” (He composed the opera The Bartered Bride, among others works.)
  • Modest Mussorgsky—a great Russian composer (Pictures at an Exhibition is one of his best known works)
  • Johann Christian Bach—the youngest surviving son of J.S. Bach and a great composer himself
  • Benjamin Franklin—one of America’s Founding Fathers
  • Benjamin West—famous painter (if you’ve ever been to BJU’s War Memorial Chapel, you have seen his work)
  • Sylvanus Crosby—grandfather of Fanny Crosby, the great hymn writer
  • Jonathan Edwards—theologian who played a huge part in the First Great Awakening
  • Susanna Wesley—the godly mother of 19 children, including John and Charles Wesley
  • John and Charles Wesley—Founders of Methodism and hymn writers

All of these people made significant contributions to the world—through their music, art, inventions, writing, teaching, preaching—and they were all from large families (in fact they were child number 10 or beyond in their families). [1] The newest C— Baby is in good company, I think.

The Bible says children are a blessing

Ps. 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

We tend to agree that children are a blessing—as long as there are only two (especially one boy and one girl) or at the most three. However, the Bible doesn’t set a limit on how many children constitute a blessing. In fact many passages indicate that the more children you have, the more blessed you are.

Gen. 1:28 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:”

Gen. 24:60 “And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions…”

When the children of Israel were preparing to enter the promised land, Moses told them,

Deut. 1:10-11 “The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)”

Deut. 33:24 “And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children;

I Chron. 25:4-5 “Of Heman: the sons of Heman; Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamtiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth: All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn [exalt, honor him]. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.

I Chron. 26:4-5 “Moreover the sons of Obededom were, Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethaneel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth: for God blessed him.

If God says that children are a blessing from Him—a reward, a heritage, a way in which He honors people—why do we as Christians not see it this way today?

There are many arguments against having more than just a few children. For time sake, we are going to focus on what is probably the most popular “Christian” argument against having many children:

The Stewardship Argument

It runs something like this:

“God has given us resources of time, energy, money, possessions, etc. We must be wise stewards of all the resources God has given us. Having more children when the economy is bad, or when dad doesn’t have a job, or when money is scarce and we barely have enough to feed, clothe, and house the children we do have would be foolish and very poor stewardship. Also having more children would cause us to be a bad stewards of the ones we already have. How can we possibly train more when our hands are already full with two?!”

Let’s examine this argument.

Bob Acres and His Servant by Edwin Austin Abbey

First, what is a steward? A steward is someone who takes care of another’s resources—whatever the master gives him, he takes care of it, uses it wisely, makes a profit. The steward of an estate, for example, takes care of the house, property, belongings, etc. of the estate owner.

The steward does not have the authority to say, “Master, you already have such a big estate! I’m already overworked as it is. Adding on another room to your house means more for me to clean. Buying another car means more maintenance for me to do each month. Adding another horse to your stable means another animal to care for, groom, and ride. Taking care of all your stuff is taking too much of my time and energy and it costs you so much! I don’t want to be a bad steward, so I’m not going to let you add anything else to your estate.”

Whose estate is it? The master’s. It is the steward’s job to take care of it all, wisely manage it. It is not his job to tell the master what he can and cannot add to the estate.

It is the same with us. God has entrusted us with life, health, money, things—it all belongs to Him and we are to use it for His glory and the furthering of His kingdom.

If God says to us, “You have done such a good job with what I have given you. I’m now going to give you more money to take care of (steward) for me.” We say, “Wow! Thank you, God! Yes, I’ll gladly accept more money and use it for you.”

If God says, “You have done a good job with that beat up little car. You’ve been using it for My glory. I’m going to give you a nice, new car to use for Me.” We say, “Thank you, God! Yes, a nice, new car will be so much easier. I’ll take good care of it and use it for You.”

But if God says, “You’re doing such a good job with those little children I’ve given you. You are raising them for My glory. I’m going to give you more children to raise for Me.” We say, “Oh, no, God! That’s too much! I’m having a hard enough time with the ones you’ve already given me. I would be such a bad steward of Your money and car and house and even of the time You’ve given me if I let You give me one more child! How can I serve You if I’m tied down at home with another baby? I don’t want to be a bad steward, so I’m going to have to tell You, ‘No, I won’t take any more children.’”

Do you see the faulty reasoning? Who is the Master and who is the steward? We are to steward whatever God in His wisdom and kindness chooses to entrust to our care. We are not wiser than God. [2]

We would do well to remind ourselves who creates life. Do parents create life? Many think that they do, that it is completely up to the mom and dad as to whether or not they have a baby.

The Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible tells us that it is God alone who gives children. Consider, for example, the account of Rachel and Leah. Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah. He didn’t really love her, he loved Rachel.

Gen. 29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

God blessed Leah and gave her four sons. After the birth of her fourth son, “she left bearing” (v. 35).

She didn’t want to stop having children (that is clear from what she did in the next chapter—giving her maid to her husband so she could have more children by her), but God had decided four children was enough for the time being. (Later, God gave her three more children.)

Rachel also wanted children. However, years went by, and still she had no child. The Bible records a conversation she had with her husband:

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (Gen. 30:1-2).

Clearly, it wasn’t up to Jacob whether or not they had a child. Nor was it up to Rachel. God had chosen not to give them a child.

Several more years went by,

And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son” (Gen. 30:22-24).

Just before she died, she gave birth to her second son, Benjamin.

Both women wanted children (and neither took measures to prevent them), but God was in control of how many they received. God gave Leah seven. After years of barrenness He gave Rachel two.

People say, “Well certainly people wanted children way back then, but nowadays children are expensive and times are hard. Surely God wants us to be careful and make sure we don’t add another mouth to feed when money is so tight.”

In the Bible, even when commodities were scarce and life was hard, God still blessed His people with children.

Consider the time before Moses was born. The Children of Israel were slaves in Egypt and life was incredibly hard for them. Yet God kept giving them children.

Ex. 1:12 “But the more they [the Egyptians] afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.”

In fact, they were having so many babies the king of Egypt was scared that in the case of war the Hebrews would side with the Egyptian’s enemies, fight against them and leave the land of Egypt. To keep this from happening he tried desperately to kill all the baby boys who were being born.

Yet, even in the face of their children being potentially murdered, God kept giving them babies. He wanted His people to have many children, even in this tremendously difficult time.

It was in the midst of all of this that Moses was born. If we had been there, we would have called Moses’ parents “bad stewards.”

“Don’t they know they are endangering the life of their child by bringing him into this awful world?! They should have prevented his birth. Now he’s going to be murdered!”

In our human reasoning we would have prevented God from sending the very one who was to deliver them from their bondage and lead them to the Promised Land.

Today there is a profusion of “Christian” advice to, “Be wise! Don’t have a baby unless you can afford one.” Or, “Don’t have any more children! You can barely afford the ones you have and, besides, you don’t have time to do anything else. God wants you to be a good steward.”

This is simply not Biblical. Nowhere does the Bible teach that parents have the authority or responsibility to decide whether or not God should give them another baby. Using our brains and the available technology to “play God” and try to control the timing and number of children is a very dangerous thing. It’s trying to be the master, not the steward.

Actually rejecting children, doing all we can to prevent ourselves from bearing children, is a sign that we are under the wrath and judgment of God. It is beyond the scope of this talk to fully study Romans 1:18-32, so I challenge you to take some time to prayerfully examine this passage on your own in the near future. In brief, this passage reveals a progression of rejecting God, turning to idols, and the judgment that follows.

One of the consequences listed here for turning away from God is that of God giving people up to “vile affections.”

Vile is defined as “wretchedly bad; repulsive, disgusting; morally debased, depraved, despicable; foul, filthy.” [3]

Two vile affections are then listed:

Rom. 1:26-27 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

First, women change the natural use for that which is against nature. I always assumed, because of what follows in verse 27, that this was talking about females engaging in the sin of sodomy. That could be the case. Sodomy is definitely against nature—unnatural and contrary to God’s design. However, generally speaking, in various cultures throughout history men tend to embrace this sin before women do. [4]

Could this then be referring to something else? What is the natural use of the woman? What did God design a woman to do that a man cannot do? The answer is evident from the features of a woman’s body: God designed her to bear and nurture children. [5] The Greek word used here for “women” (thelus, as opposed to the more commonly used gune) underscores this point. “Thelus comes from the root word thele, which means, ‘nipple, to suck, to nurse, to mother”[6]. Bearing and nurturing children is the natural use of the woman.

When women take either permanent or temporary measures to prevent themselves from bearing children, they are going against nature and, according to this verse, engaging in vile affections—sin before God and, in fact, a sign of His judgment.

The next verse makes it clear that when men separate the act of marriage from God’s design of bearing children, God is giving them up to a second “vile affection,” that of sodomy and the practice of unspeakable perversion.

At this point some of you are probably thinking, “Vida, are you actually suggesting that birth control is sin?? I can understand your reasoning that it is a rejection of God’s blessing and that it is a lack of trusting God (like a steward telling the Master he knows better than him), but now you’re saying practicing birth control is a vile affection—SIN—and a sign of God’s judgment?!”

I know this flies in the face of everything our culture – and even the church at large – says. Actually though, up until about the early 1930s, the church as a whole preached against birth control. They taught that it was indeed sin. It was primarily through the indefatigable work of that wicked woman [7] Margaret Sanger (the founder of what is now known as Planned Parenthood, the organization that has been instrumental in the murder of 1000s of unborn babies) that birth control became widely accessible and finally completely legalized (in 1965,[8]). Only now—within the past 50 years or so—is birth control culturally acceptable, normative, and even the “Christian” thing to do.

Allegorie des Lebens by Karl Geiger

I challenge you to study what the Bible actually says about this subject. Ask God to give you a clear understanding that is not muddled by cultural expectations. (Some books that you might find helpful in your study: Be Fruitful and Multiply by Nancy Campbell; The Way Home by Mary Pride; A Full Quiver by Rick and Jan Hess; and The Bible and Birth Control by Charles D. Provan.) I submit to you that if you truly search out what the Scriptures say, you will see that we must repent—of our vile affections, of our rejection of God’s blessings—turn from our sin, and even take measures to get things reversed if possible and open ourselves back up to the blessings of God.

Ps. 127:3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

There are people who look at the C— family and say they already have a full quiver.

“Wasn’t 9 enough?? We don’t believe in abortion, but surely they should stop after the 10th is born. Surely that’s a full quiver!”

Only God knows if the quiver is actually full. For Abraham and Sarah, their quiver was full with the one arrow He gave them—Isaac. The same was true for Zacharias and Elisabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. But what if Mrs. Mary Annesley (the mother of 25 children, the last of whom was Susanna Wesley) had said, “10 is enough for me!” or “I’ll stop now that I’ve given birth 20 times,” or “Surely 24 is enough!”? No one would have blamed her or thought she was limiting God if she had prevented further childbearing. In fact, today people would be encouraging her to stop, “Don’t you know what causes that?!” If she had used her human reasoning to take control of the number of children she had, Susanna would not have been born. Yet the world would have never known what it was missing.

I’m so glad this woman allowed God to decide when their quiver was full! Her final arrow—Susanna—would go on to be the mother of a very full quiver herself (19 children, in spite of marital difficulties, financial straits, bereavement, and even a house fire). Two of her youngest children—John (child #15) and Charles (child #17)—went on to make humanly incalculable impact for Christ. There are probably people in this room who came to Christ because of the impact of these men. God knows best and we must trust Him!

Woe to us if we discourage, tease, or mock those who are obeying the Lord and trusting Him to decide when the quiver is full. Woe to us if we through our words—negative comments, snide remarks, or even reproachful sighs—encourage someone to prevent further blessings from God. And woe to us if we ourselves have cut off the blessings God wanted to send. Only God knows if we have been the cause of cutting off our generation’s equivalent of John and Charles Wesley.

Let us search our Bibles and our hearts, repent, and do all in our power to accept all the blessings God wants to give us and encourage others to do the same.

At Play by Dorothy Tennant

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1 This list comes, in part, from Rick and Jan Hess, A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ (Brentwood: Wolgemuth and Hyatt, 1990), chapter 4, “Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner.”

2 A 2nd Generation of Homeschooling has an excellent article on this subject here: http://www.a2ndgenerationofhomeschooling.com/2010/07/having-many-children-is-poor.html (accessed: March 27, 2012).

3 vile. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vile (accessed: March 27, 2012).

4 Mary Pride, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality (Westchester: Crossway Books, 1985), 27.

5 Charles D. Provan, The Bible and Birth Control (Monongahela: Zimmer Printing, 1989), 27-28.

6 Nancy Campbell, Be Fruitful and Multiply: What the Bible Says About Having Children (San Antonio: Vision Forum Ministries, 2003), 106.

7 Campbell, pp. 151-152, states, “Margaret Sanger [was] a woman who ferociously believed in Malthusian Eugenics and who practiced and promoted blatant sexual promiscuity. Margaret Sanger championed the cause of the elimination of inferior races. Her plan was to ‘create a race of thoroughbreds.’ She coined names for all those who were not of the superior Aryan race–’morons, misfits, and the maladjusted’ and ‘defectives, delinquents, and dependents.’ She believed that the physically unfit, the materially poor, the racially inferior–including the Jews and the African Americans–must be restricted or eliminated. Contraception, sterilization, and abortion were the perfect methods for getting rid of these ‘human weeds.’ This is the origin of today’s birth control movement which the Christian church has ignorantly embraced.”

8 In my talk I mistakenly gave the date 1916 as the year abortion was legalized in the US. Actually 1916 was the year Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the US. The police shut down this illegally operating clinic 9 days after its opening and Sanger spent 30 days in prison.

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Addendum:

It was not my intention in giving this talk (or in publishing this article) to leave anyone feeling hopelessly condemned under the wrath of God. No matter how grave the sin, the blood of Christ can completely cleanse us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9. Praise be to God!

Also, lest my words be misconstrued, let me give further clarification to a point I made above. Merely looking at the number of children a couple has (be it many or few or even none) is not an indicator of their obedience or disobedience in this matter. I gave as examples Abraham and Sarah and Zacharias and Elisabeth, two couples whom, if we had known them personally yet had not talked with them or heard their hearts, we could have easily judged as being disobedient to the Lord in this matter because of sustained barrenness. We would have been wrong. God, in His perfect timing, gave to each of those couples only one “arrow.” Their quivers were full in His sight.

On the other hand, we could look at a couple with 24 children (the Annesleys before the birth of Susanna) and judge them to be completely obedient to the Lord in this matter. Yet, if they had decided to take control and prevented any further children, their quiver would not have been full. Likely (because people did not openly talk about their personal practices then as they do today) only God would have known that they had cut off His opportunity to bless them (and the world).

My point is that we cannot–must not–judge one another on the basis of how many children we have.

However, because birth control is now culturally acceptable (and expected) people often openly talk about their practices. Because the church has been largely silent on the Scripture’s teaching about this subject for the past 50+ years, most Christians are not even aware that God has an opinion on the matter. They honestly think the Scriptures are silent. That is why talks (and articles) like this are necessary. I do not present this information judgmentally or as one who is wanting to stir up discord among the brethren. Instead I write and speak these words with the earnest prayer that God will open our eyes to truly see this matter as He sees it and that He in His goodness will lead us to repentance.

“It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” Genesis 2:18.

Signing the Register by Edmund Blair Leighton

 

Recently there has been a flurry of engagements and weddings among my friends from church and school and even in my own family! Two of my cousins and my own dear brother have each entered into the sacred covenant of marriage this summer and one more cousin will follow this fall.

The first wedding was in May. My dear little cousin Courtney married Chad Phelps, a godly young man whom she met while attending school up at Maranatha. The wedding was beautiful! I am so happy for them and excited to see how God will use them as they serve Him together.

Kenny and Hannah (photo courtesy of Jana and Janene Brackbill)

My brother’s wedding was on July 6. Last August/September, at the close of Kenny’s leave, my mom suggested that Ashley and I “introduce” Kenny to some of the sweet girls we know via facebook. He was quite taken with one of the profiles I showed him…the one of my friend Hannah Potter. I met Hannah a number of years ago at Mount Calvary, the church where I was a member during my time at BJU. The Lord enabled us to renew our acquaintance a couple of years ago when I returned to BJU to finish my degree. After a note of introduction (warning Hannah that she would soon receive a friend request and note from my brother) their correspondence began. After a month or so of writing, a meeting was arranged and Kenny and Hannah met in person for the first time. Not long after, the Lord made it clear that He intended them for each other. In February, approximately six months after the first letter, Kenny, with her father’s full blessing, asked Hannah to be his wife. The wedding was a glorious celebration of all that God has done! They plan to spend the first two years of their marriage in Korea, Kenny’s next duty station.

Two of my other cousins, Josh and Caleb, will also be married very soon. Josh is getting married this afternoon and his brother Caleb this fall.

It is exciting to see how God has worked and brought each couple together for His glory. May each of these marriages grow to become radiant pictures of Christ and the church!

Many projects have filled our days and nights over the past month or so. After working tirelessly for weeks on end, we were exhausted! So, this past Wednesday, with my dad’s blessing, my mom, sister, and I took a “girl holiday.” After seeing my dad off to work (I wish he could have enjoyed the “holiday” with us!), we baked a (double) batch of our favorite Cranberry-Nut Muffins and watched BBC’s Return to Cranford on Youtube. What a delightful day! Admittedly, it was a mistake to double the recipe–we ended up eating far too many of these delicious muffins!

It is difficult to find wholesome movies, so we were very glad to stumble upon this one and are happy to be able to heartily recommend it for your enjoyment. Return to Cranford, the sequel to Cranford (which we watched sometime last year), is a delightful tale of small-town life, based upon the writings of Elizabeth Gaskell (the author of Wives and Daughters and North and South).

Below you will find our muffin recipe which is adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, p. 636.

Cranberry-Nut Muffins

Yield: approximately 20 medium size muffins

2 Cups raw cranberries (we buy extra during the holidays and freeze them for later use)

1/2 Cup turbinado sugar

Zest of one orange plus 1 Tablespoon orange juice

6 Tablespoons soy margarine (We use Earth Balance)

1/2 Cup sucanat

1/3 Cup turbinado sugar

Egg Replacer for 2 eggs (we use Ener-G Egg Replacer)

1 Cup vanilla soy milk

2 1/2 Cups pastry flour

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 Cups chopped pecans and walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and prepare muffin tins
  • Combine the cranberries, 1/2 Cup turbinado sugar, orange zest and juice in a saucepan and cook over high heat for approximately 5 minutes, until berries pop and sugar is dissolved. (This makes a most delicious concoction–a cranberry marmalade–that would be wonderful on its own!)
  • Cream together soy butter, sucanat, and remaining 1/3 Cup turbinado sugar.
  • Mix egg replacer (follow manufacturer’s instructions) in a separate bowl then pour it into the sugar and butter mixture, beating until smooth.
  • Add soy milk.
  • In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (except the nuts) and then add half of this mixture to the batter.
  • Add cranberry mixture and nuts and then fold in remaining flour mixture.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool and then enjoy with a cup of your favorite tea!

I am linking up with Designs by Gollum‘s Foodie Friday.

After one of the snowiest winters ever (for this part of the country), it is exciting to know that spring is right around the corner! Not willing to wait for its official arrival, we have been adding glimpses of spring all around the house.

We spruced up the couch with spring pillows.

These cute little bunnies were found at the thrift store.

The chair by the piano received a newly recovered seat.

Each year when the daffodils bloom, I am reminded of a favorite poem I learned as a child.

The Daffodils

William Wordsworth

.

I wander’d lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils,

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretch’d in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

.

The waves beside them danced, but they

Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:—

A poet could not but be gay

In such a jocund company!

I gazed, and gazed, but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

.

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

.

God is so good to graciously give us such delights with each new season!

Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O LORD our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.”

Jeremiah 14:22

This evening, while struggling under the weight of spiritual attack, my heart was greatly encouraged through meditation on Scripture and beautiful, uplifting hymns. Fear finally fled away and peace filled my heart as I listened to the following two hymns which focus on Christ’s righteousness and His atoning work.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Stand therefore, …having on the breastplate of righteousness” Ephesians 6:11, 14.

His Robes for Mine by Chris Anderson, arr. Dan Forrest

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Chorus:

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!

My Jesus, Fair

My Jesus, fair, was pierced by thorns,
By thorns grown from the fall.
Thus He who gave the curse was torn
To end that curse for all.

Chorus:
O love divine, O matchless grace-
That God should die for men!
With joyful grief I lift my praise,
Abhorring all my sin,
Adoring only Him.

My Jesus, meek, was scorned by men,
By men in blasphemy.
“Father, forgive their senseless sin!”
He prayed, for them, for me.

My Jesus, kind, was torn by nails,
By nails of cruel men.
And to His cross, as grace prevailed,
God pinned my wretched sin.

My Jesus, pure, was crushed by God,
By God, in judgment just.
The Father grieved, yet turned His rod
On Christ, made sin for us.

My Jesus, strong, shall come to reign,
To reign in majesty.
The Lamb arose, and death is slain.
Lord, come in victory!

(Both hymn texts were written by Chris Anderson. More information is available here.)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits” Psalm 103:1-2.

God’s blessings are incalculable; yet how prone we are to forget His benefits and instead dwell on our own petty grievances and wallow in self-pity. This day of Thanksgiving should be one of recalling His blessings, remembering and blessing Him for all His benefits.

He pardons all our iniquities–all of them.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins” Isaiah 43:25.

“The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” I John 1:7b.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9 (KJV).

All of our wickedness, unbelief, pride, self-righteousness, unkindness, bitterness, anger, evil-speaking — all of our sin — is freely pardoned through the blood of Christ. What a glorious truth! What a benefit for which to give thanks!

He heals all our diseases.

This is sometimes a difficult truth to grasp. How can it be true that God heals all our diseases when so many of His people, even the most godly, get sick and die? We must remember that sickness and death are consequences of sin. “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). However, God offers eternal life to all who put their faith in Christ Jesus. Ultimately, all believers, no matter what their infirmities in this life, will have complete and perfect healing in the next.

Oftentimes, however, God does choose to physically heal His children, for a time, during this life. Eleven years ago my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Having just watched a dear friend suffer tremendously and die while undergoing the conventional cancer treatments, my parents prayed and sought the Lord for direction concerning her own treatment. The Lord graciously directed us, through research and the helpful advice of friends and relatives, to change our diets to a mostly raw, vegan diet (no meat or dairy products). The diet helped rebuild my mom’s immune system which in turn battled the cancer. What at first seemed a terrible trial, turned out to be a great blessing from the Lord. This diet has been His means of healing us from all our physical diseases.

He redeems our life from the pit.

“The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned” Psalm 34:22.

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” Revelation 5:9.

We deserve hell because of our sin. Yet Christ has redeemed us — bought us back — not with silver and gold, but with His own precious blood (I Peter 1:18-19).

He crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion.

“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23.

Every day He offers fresh lovingkindness — mercy — and compassion to crown His children. No matter how wretched and ill we behave, even when we are unfaithful to Him, in His goodness He draws us to repentance and shows mercy and compassion. How much we must praise Him!

He satisfies our years with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagles.

This is certainly true in my life. My years have indeed been satisfied with good things! God has blessed me with a godly family and friends, a lovely home, a good church, a wonderful education, and many rich resources and opportunities.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

This simple meditation on God’s benefits just begins to scratch the surface of all that God so freely bestows upon His children. May the Lord help us to remember and give thanks for our many blessings!

“When all thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys,

transported with the view, I’m lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts my daily thanks employ,

nor is the least a cheerful heart that tastes those gifts with joy”

(Joseph Addison, When All Thy Mercies, O my God).

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