Looks Can Be Deceiving

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Looks can be deceiving. Pilot and I saw that truth in action that during a recent trip to the Texas Hill Country, where we visited several churches built by Czech settlers between the late 1800s and early 1900s. The fascinating thing about these churches is their artistically-crafted painted interiors. From their unassuming exteriors you wouldn’t know how impressive the interiors were until you stepped inside.

 

While there are individual differences in each church, they basically have the same structure of massive altars in the front of the building, balcony with organ at the back, and Stations of the Cross along the sides of the sanctuary.

The present structure of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, or the “pink” church, is the third church built on the property.

The first church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1909, the second church burned to the ground eight years later. The structure that stands today was completed in 1919.

This current church is much simpler than the previous two churches. A glance behind the ornate altar facade proves this point. Yet, the church is still very pretty. Remember, these settlers were farmers and didn’t have a lot of money to put into building programs. Especially in such a rapid succession of time.

The hand-carved altars in St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption are painted white and gilded in gold. The painted interior is bright turquoise, emerald greens and blues intended to create a sense of the Garden of Eden.

 

 

In the Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin Catholic Church the architect relied on decorative painting to create the illusion of Gothic groin vaults and joints.The columns are painted to look like marble.

Saints Cyril and Methodius was also destroyed in the same 1909 hurricane that destroyed St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. $5,571.90 was raised to build the new church. Quite a bit of money and sacrifice at the time, wouldn’t you say?

Again, paint techniques were effectively used to create the illusion of marble and vaulted ceilings.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

Well. Perseverance for one thing, as in the case of the congregation who rebuilt their church three separate times and never gave up; even though they had to scale back their initial plan.

Sacrifice of the members of the churches that were destroyed to stick together, join their resources, and rebuild to the best of their abilities instead of scattering to other churches, for another thing.

And finally, just as with these Painted Churches, while we may not seem like much from the outside when people look at us, looks can be deceiving.

Sure. Looks can be deceiving, but God created us, and he knows what’s going on in the interior he created with utmost care and detail for his glory. God knows our heart.

Have you ever been deceived by outward looks?

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Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Don’t toss me aside, banished forever from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.  Psalm 51:10-12 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Is The Righteous Judge to Blame?

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Have you ever been asked how a loving God could send people to hell? Whenever I’m asked that question, I say, “God doesn’t send people to hell. People choose where they’ll spend eternity.” God provided a way for us to be saved through his Son Jesus. As the Righteous Judge, God isn’t to blame if we choose not to accept the gift of salvation he offers.

In one of Billy Graham’s devotions in his devotional, Hope for Each Day, Mr. Graham asks who’s to blame; the judge for sentencing the criminal, or the criminal for committing the crime? He goes on to ask if someone deliberately commits a crime and is caught, is the judge to blame for sentencing the criminal, or is the criminal to blame for the sentence he receives?

Yes. The judge is the one who hands down the sentence, but he did so by following the law. The judge is not the one who broke the law.

God, The Righteous Judge, like the earthly judge, hands down the sentence and consequences we, the criminals, deserve. When we break God’s laws, we can’t blame him for the punishment we receive. It’s our fault we sinned, not God’s.

But thanks be to God. When we belong to Jesus and claim him as our Lord and Savior, we don’t have to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus took our debt upon his perfect sinless self and paid the debt we owed but could never pay with his blood sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.

We deserve the punishment, but the Righteous Judge made a way for us to be spared by not sparing his own son.

God loved the world so much he sent his only son to this world to die a horrible death for us. As the Righteous Judge, God is not to blame if we don’t accept his perfect gift.

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For God did not send His Son into the world to say it is guilty. He sent His Son so the world might be saved from the punishment of sin by Him. John 3:17 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God’s Love Is Not A Fairy Tale Story

courtesy Wikimediaby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Perhaps you have a favorite fairy tale story. The story probably transported you to another time and another place. Most fairy tales have a love element with a happily ever after ending. And while the Bible is a love story with a happily ever after for those who know and love God, God’s love is not a fairy tale story. It is truth.

After a recent discussion with my son, Pie, today I’m taking another look at The Princess Bride, a fairy tale love story that ends with a happily ever after. It is a story I rank as most enjoyable. The movie has become a classic with as many favorite lines and scenes as there are people you could ask to name one. If you remember my earlier post about this story, I hope you won’t mind revisiting it with me today.

Westley’s “As you wish.” Vizzini’s “Inconceivable.” Inigo Montoya’s “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Miracle Max’s line about a paper cut and lemon juice. Fezzik’s rhyming, or “I don’t think that means what you think it means.”

As easy as it is to rattle off a line from The Princess Bride, or any other pop culture media, I wonder … do we recite verses from God’s love story as readily?

For God so loved the world … There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus … Greater is he who is in us, than he who is in the world …

In The Princess Bride there are the Cliffs of Insanity. The Fire Swamp with its R.O.U.S. — Rodents of Unusual Size. The Pit of Despair. And, of course, the Castle.

I’m sure many of us have felt as if we were teetering on the cliffs of insanity, stranded in the fire swamp facing R.O.U.S., or trapped at the bottom of the pit of despair.

While in those dreadful places, we need to hang onto the truth. Jesus is preparing a place for us; a castle in the sky, where there will be no more pain. No more tears. No more sorrow. No more pits. And definitely no R.O.U.S.

Face of Christ Bronze<br /> Giovanni da Bologna<br /> Jesuitenkirche St. Michael Munchen

At the heart of God’s love story is the love our Savior Jesus has for his bride the church. And the love our Heavenly Father has for us his children.

Inconceivable.

Westley promised Buttercup he would return for her. And he did. Jesus promised he would return for us. And he will.

Facing the cliffs of insanity, fire swamp, R.O.U. S., or pit of despair ? Hang on. Don’t give up. Hold tight to the promise Christ will return. God’s love is not a fairy tale story. It’s the truth.

“Have fun storming the castle!”

What’s your favorite fairy tale?

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Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  John 14:1-4

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Gluten-free Crock Pot Saucy Pork Loin

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

This Gluten-free Crock Pot Saucy Pork Loin recipe is super simple and amazingly delicious.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white cooking wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cup peeled potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes

Mix chicken broth, soy sauce, cooking wine, lemon juice Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, garlic and cornstarch together until smooth.

Place olive oil in bottom of crock pot. Add tenderloin, then potatoes. Pour sauce over potatoes.

Cook on low heat for 8 hours.

Enjoy!

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Stress of Life

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The stress of life can be good or bad. It isn’t the stress itself that is either harmful or beneficial. It is what we do with that stress that matters. There is a Greek Proverb that says, “You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.”

During the archery class I took my second year of college, we strung and unstrung our bows before and after each session on the archery range. To some that may seem like a waste of time, especially since classes followed ours that would use the same bows, but this routine had its purpose.

If the bows were left strung, they could break under the constant stress it took to bend the bow and keep the string taut. While this amount of stress could be detrimental, it also served the necessary purpose of allowing the string on the bow to be tight enough to shoot a straight arrow.

Stress in our lives is the same thing, I believe. Too much, and we could break either emotionally or physically. Too little, and we may not be able to work at top efficiency. One of my psychology professors explained stress as being similar to the strings on a violin. Too much stress, the strings will break. Not enough stress; the strings won’t perform as they should.

When we encounter certain potentially dangerous situations, like a child dashing out in front of our car, the stress produces an adrenaline rush that causes us to avoid the child. That’s good stress.

More times than not, though, we carry stressful things around with us, and allow them to keep us worried, anxious, and unproductive. If we constantly put ourselves in situations we know will create unhealthy levels of stress, perhaps we need to re-evaluate those areas, and see if we can “unstring the bow” in any way.

One habit I’m trying to rid myself of is allowing stressful scenarios to keep running around and around in my brain; worrying about things I cannot control instead of recognizing them for what they are, and doing what I can do. Turn them over to God.

How do you manage your stressful situations?

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Give all your cares to the Lord and He will give you strength. He will never let those who are right with Him be shaken. Psalm 55:22 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry — God’s Love

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Welcome to Pause for Poetry featuring a poem written by my writer-friend, Frances Gregory Pasch.

God’s Love

God’s love has no boundaries

It’s flowing everywhere…

He has enough for everyone

And even some to spare.

So take a heaping handful

And give some out each day…

Speak it by your actions

And with the words you say.

As you share His love with others,

He’ll make it multiply…

For God’s love has no boundaries

There’s an infinite supply.

© Frances Gregory Pasch

Frances Gregory Pasch’s devotions and poems have been published hundreds of times in devotional booklets, magazines, and Sunday school papers since 1985. Her writing has also appeared in several dozen compilations. Her book, Double Vision: Seeing God in Everyday Life Through Devotions and Poetry is available on Amazon. Frances has been leading a women’s Christian writers group since 1991 and makes her own holiday greeting cards incorporating her poetry. She and her husband, Jim, have been married since 1958. They have five sons and nine grandchildren. Contact her at www.francesgregorypasch.com.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this please share it through the social media buttons.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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