Friday, August 26, 2016

AN APPLE A DAY - DO YOU KNOW THE BEST FRUIT ON EARTH?




DAY 112 OF 365 DAYS TO A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
LOVING THE BEST FRUIT ON THE EARTH
(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

So now that we know a lot more about the top three vegetables to eat for nutrition (watercress, bok choy and chard) and even another one on the side (broccoli).  I thought it might be beneficial to leave our vegetables for a bit and look into some fruits.   After all, most of the Mediterranean diet we have discussed using for good nutritious health is mostly made up of fruits and vegetables.  
I’ll give you three guesses as to the most nutritious fruit on earth…..

No, no, no…….it probably isn’t what you might think! 

The most nutritious fruit on the earth is the tiny little blackberry that I used to pick with my grandmother every time she wanted to make a pie.  Yes, the number one nutritious fruit on earth is the blackberry!  I’ll bet you are as surprised as I was to find this out.  

I was also surprised to find that in a group of over 30 fruits rated nutritiously good for you; most of
the fruits I eat almost daily were not at the top of the list!  Surprise, surprise.  I MUST begin to eat more blackberries!

The ratings for choosing these most nutritious fruits were based on analysis of calories, sugar content, fiber, omega-3 content, antioxidant content, glycemic load and vitamins the fruit contained.  The little blackberry won out over all the larger fruits! 

Fortunately, the blackberry grows abundantly on southern hillsides.  You can find them everywhere in Alabama, especially this time of the year.  It is getting a little late into the season though, so hurry up and go blackberry picking before they are gone!  Go out and get some sunshine while you pick you a bucket full.  Google blackberry farms and you will find they DO exist.  Go find them! 

Bring some luscious berries home and wash them well.  Put the clean berries into a zip lock bag and store them for up to six month in your freezer; that way you can enjoy blackberries all year long.  Blackberry jam is awesome.  You might want to try canning some.  Of course, they taste best just fresh off the vine before any processing at all, and this is where you get the most nutritious value. 

Blackberries are delicious in salads.  They make great flavors for a smoothie.  They are tasty mixed in with yogurt.  Blackberry jam is delicious on your pita bread sandwiches, and you can mix it with peanut butter for making gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.   I love blackberries on pancakes and waffles.  I love to sprinkle them in sugar or oatmeal.  We all need a little blackberry cobbler from time to time.  Just go easy on the ice cream topping and be sure you are on a feast day!

That little blackberry contains loads of vitamins C, A, B, E and K.  It is full of antioxidants that are good for fighting ageing, inflammation, cancer and several chronic diseases.   The blackberry is loaded down with nutritious minerals. 

There is one factor in the blackberry that makes it stand above all the other fruits for fighting cancer.  It has the ability to act as a natural chemotherapy drug to prevent the formation of certain cancer cells. 

Blackberries are good for keeping your brain healthy and preventing memory loss.  Science Daily has reported that berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage and improves both motor control and cognition. 

You may not be aware of the fact that the leaves of the blackberry bush may also be consumed.  People have used these leaves to treat inflammation of the gums and to soothe sore throats.    You can also use the blackberry leaves for a refreshing cup of tea.  It taste at bit bitter, but it will be better if you add honey to make it sweet. 



Blackberry juice is effective in helping blood to clot.  It is often used to aid in child labor, to stop the pain.  It is a muscle relaxer, and is a good natural remedy for women who suffer from severe menstrual cramps. 

A cup of blackberries will provide you with more fiber than a cup of bran flakes.  Eating blackberries should also help to increase your energy level.  Several recent studies indicate that blackberries are great for increasing the strength of your cardiovascular system and eliminating heart problems. 

The astringent tannins found in the blackberry is effective for oral hygiene and can be used to make a gargle or mouthwash.  Eating blackberries may help kill oral bacteria that cause illness.  According to Oregon State University, blackberries contain gallic acid, rutin and ellagic acid, compounds that may have antiviral properties.  Researchers from the University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina found the blackberry extract’s antibacterial properties are beneficial.  They tested this on ten different kinds of bacteria and concluded that blackberry extract’s ability to kill pathogens, along with its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties make it a promising ingredient in products designed to prevent or treat periodontal infections.

It may disturb a few people to learn that drinking blackberry wine in moderation has good health benefits.  Please note the word “moderation,” as you pour a delicious and luxurious glass of blackberry wine.  As you sip, sit quietly and take in a sunset.  It is good for the soul!  A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that people who imbibe wine from dark berries are 45 percent less likely to develop colon cancer.

How is all of this possible from just one little berry?   Amazing!  All I can tell you is that you should eat your blackberries and become more fruitful!  I hope to post some good recipes for blackberries eventually. 

We will be talking much more about other fruits in the future.  Fruit is very good for you; both physically and spiritually. 

So now we know that the blackberry is the best fruit on earth, and you would do well to eat blackberries often!  That is true in a physical sense only, but if you are looking to find the best spiritual fruit the answer can be found in the following verse taken from Galatians 5:22-23:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

What better combination could you ever find on this earth?  Serve up those blackberries with love!  They were meant to be shared.  Just blackberries and love will drastically improve your lifestyle and add flavor and fun into your days at the same time!






Thursday, August 25, 2016

COME AS A CHILD LESSON 133 RECEIVING THE MANNA FROM HEAVEN




RECEIVING THE MANNA FROM HEAVEN
(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

So the time came to leave Elim, which I’m sure wasn’t something the Israelites wanted to do.  You know how it is when you are in a perfect moment and you just want to linger there and not move on?  That was probably how they felt, and maybe that contributed to the beginning of a change of mood among the people. 

The whole community left Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.  The Desert of Sin was a whole new ball game.  So different from Elim!  It was hot and dry and food and water was not readily available. 

It was a hard and rugged journey for SO MANY people to make.  They all began to grumble and complain.  They said; “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death!”  These ungrateful people were very fickle!  They even sort of accused God of planning their death in Egypt, so very opposite of what had really happened!  Their complaints were so overly dramatic!  Complainers are usually always dramatic and overstating with their complaints. 

There just seemed to be much disrespect for what had actually taken place.   They went from dancing and rejoicing to grumbling and complaining in no time!  The victory songs had turned to a grumble march and the thankfulness for the miracles was discarded for a spoiled, selfish complaining nature.  Moses and Aaron must have been so frustrated!  If they were frustrated; you can just imagine how God felt!  What a slap in the face.  He had given them freedom and luxury and rest in the middle of the desert.  When they had moved on; they were complaining and wishing for slave food again.   Where was their faith? 

This was no way to be going toward their wedding day to God!  They had promised after Morah to obey God and follow His commandments!  They had seen how he could use an old tree (symbolic of Torah) to change everything and to provide for their every need, but how quickly they forgot!  They were not calling on God at all; instead they were throwing verbal stones at Moses and Aaron. 

So God, in spite of their attitudes, brought a surprise solution to their problems.  He told Moses He would rain down bread from heaven for them!  God told the people to go out each day and gather enough food for that day.  God was testing them to see if they would REALLY follow His instructions as they had previously promised.  God told them exactly how much to gather each day and he also told them to gather twice as much as they usually gathered on the sixth day. 
So Moses and Aaron gathered the grumblers together and told them God’s instructions:  “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because He has heard your grumbling against Him.  Who are we, that you should grumble against us?  You will know that it is the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because He has heard you’re grumbling against Him.  Who are we?  You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”  



Moses understood how serious this was. He probably hated that the people were acting like a spoiled brat child with their constant whinning and complaining!   So Moses told Aaron to gather the entire community and tell them to come before the LORD because he had heard their grumbling.  While Aaron was speaking to the people they looked toward the desert and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.  I’m sure it was a fearsome sight!  Had they grumbled so much that the cloud had removed itself temporarily?  

God said to Moses:  “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.  Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.”

The people had already received a glimpse of the Torah at Morah; now God was going to give them some more information to add to that glimpse.  He was going to tell them how He kept time and He was going to let them in on the use of His holy calendar.  He would teach them in the way that men usually understand; through the filling of their bellies.

The meat was to appear at twilight.  Twilight, also called sunset, is the beginning of God’s clock for a new day.  His days go from sunset till sunset.  The days of God change each time the moon reappears in the sky.  The moon is God’s official clock.  

God was showing this to the people in a way that they would understand by feeding them according to His heavenly clock.  God had put men inside of time at the creation.  Time was created for men; it was the window of life from which they lived.  God lived outside of time; but He cared for mankind living inside of time.  

Over and over in Genesis when we hear of the creation week those words were repeated; evening and morning and the first day, evening and morning and the second day, evening and morning and the third day, evening and morning and the fourth day, evening and morning and the fifth day, evening and morning and the sixth day; and it was VERY good.  Then came the end of the sixth day and the beginning of the seventh day.  Evening and morning, and God said at the end of the sixth day just before the seventh day: “It is VERY good.” 

The seventh day was sacred and special; set apart from the other days as a day for men to rest.   And God began to teach mankind all of this way of living before Him all over again.  Their ancestors knew these things; but while they were slaves in Egypt they had forgotten about God’s clock.  Instead they had been on Egyptian time.  It revolved around the sun and the pagan gods that came with the worship of the sun and the planets. The People of Israel had to re-learn everything that God had originally commanded, and keeping the Sabbath was given top priority in these lessons that God was slowly progressing through with them.  If they were to be God’s special Bride; they needed to keep God’s special ways.  They had to leave the ways of Egypt behind.

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.  When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw this they looked at each other and asked, “What is it?”  They did not know what it was!  So Moses explained to them that this was the bread that God had given them to eat!  That is why to this very day when we speak of this story, we call the bread Manna, Hebrew for “what is it?”

Moses explained further:  “This is what the LORD has commanded!  Everyone is to gather as much as they need.  Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.”  So this is how the people started measuring with the omer again.  They had used it in ancient times to measure grain, now they would use it to measure out their daily manna.  The omer would hold about three pounds of the heavenly bread.  An omer was one tenth of an ephah.  Thus they began to learn how to set aside one tenth each day of all of their provisions from God.  Abraham had always set aside a tenth; and now God was showing Abrahm's ancestors how to do this.  This is where we get the tenth requirement for tithing.  Each day the people set aside one tenth.  They went out and gathered the bread.  They gathered an omer for each person in their household daily.  Some families gathered a little, some families gathered a lot.  When they measured what they gathered by the omer those who gathered much did not have too much, and the people who gathered a little did not have too little.  Everyone always had just what they needed. 

When they had gathered Moses told them; “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” 
Some of the people, however, paid no attention to Moses’ instructions.  They kept some until morning, but when the morning came it was full of maggots and began to smell.  Moses finding this out, was angry with them.  They quickly learned how much to gather for each day, only one tenth!  Every morning they gathered what they needed and put it inside their tent to use for that day. When the sun grew hot what was left on the ground simply melted away. 



On the sixth day they gathered twice as much; two omers for each person, or approximately six pounds of bread for each person.  Moses told them this was the LORD’s command.  He explained that the next day (the seventh day) was to be a Sabbath rest.  It was to be a holy Sabbath to the LORD.  Moses told them to bake what they wanted to bake and boil what they wanted to boil on the sixth day and save whatever is left and keep it until morning.  They would eat what they had gathered on the sixth day on the seventh day too.

Of course, the people thought it would contain maggots and stink, but they did what Moses instructed.  From the sixth day till the seventh day ended, it did not stink or get maggots in it!  Moses told them to eat what was left over because that day was the Sabbath to the LORD.  On the seventh day there was no bread on the ground.  There would be no gathering of food.  They would eat what had already been provided.  For six days they gathered and on the seventh day they kept Sabbath and did not gather.  This was how Moses heard God command the people to act.  This is what Moses told them to do. 

Of course people have to learn the hard way!  They seldom listen to instructions; even from the mouth of God!  On the seventh day some of the people still went out to gather.  They found nothing!  The LORD said to Moses:  “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?  Bear in mind; the LORD had given the Sabbath; it was a perfect gift to mankind.  That is why on the sixth day He gave enough bread for two days.  Everyone was to stay where they were on the seventh day; no one is to go out to gather food.”

So this is how it was that the people learned to rest on the seventh day as they wandered through the Wilderness of Sin.  This same pattern still applies to us today; though mankind has tried to change it a million times over.  God never changes.  He is the same today as He was yesterday.  His ways never change.  He instituted the seventh day Sabbath; and this is still a holy and sacred day for God to spend in uninterrupted time with His people; a time of rest.  The Torah and the laws of God did not change with the cross.  It was not changed but fulfilled.  What changed was our redemption from breaking the law.  The laws are still in effect; only now we have the mercy of God because of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross.  Do not make the mistake of thinking that grace is being able to live in sin and break the law.  Grace was simply God’s Son paying the penalty for all the laws we have broken.  He bore our sins and shame so that we could live forever.  It still matters that you know and live Torah if you are a child of God.  God doesn’t change and His laws are forever. 

Can you imagine living like this and learning life the way the Israelites did?  Every morning your bread would rain down from Heaven; a daily gift from God the Father!  No toil, no strife, no cooking, no going to the grocery store, no saving up coupons and budgeting to be able to afford groceries!  Automatically with each new day came instant food from Heaven, once a day for every day of the week, and life-giving peaceful rest with God at the end of the week.  How good is that?  Life was easy, simple and delicious every day.  Each morning brought totally healthy food straight from the sky to your table.  All you had to do was pick it up six days a week.  Who could ever complain again?

The people called the bread manna.  It looked like white coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 

Then Moses proclaimed yet another thing that God had commanded; he said; “Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so that they can see the bread God gave you to eat in the wilderness when He brought you out of Egypt.”  Do you get the feeling that God was saying:  “Remember this forever!”?  That is how it strikes me.  The omer of manna in the jar was a constant reminder of who provided for them in all circumstances. 

So Moses and Aaron, carefully following God’s instructions, took a jar and put an omer of manna in it.  They placed it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.  The LORD commanded Moses and Aaron to put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law so that it might be preserved.    This was the beginning of God teaching His people His best ways to live; His law.  In this wilderness journey they were re-learning to obey God’s commandments.  God would soon give them the law written down on tablets and they were to put the preserved jar of manna with them and set them aside as sacred and holy.  It would always be a reminder through all time of God’s provision for them in the wilderness. 


This was the beginning of the Israelites coming back under God’s holy clock of six days for work and one day for rest, and they ate manna (the bread from heaven) for forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; when they reached the border of Canaan.   While they wondered through the wilderness God would teach them the answer to this question they asked as the Manna fell from Heaven.  They had said “What is it?”  They would soon discover the deeper meaning of the Bread of Heaven provided from God.  One day they would all come to know that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Heaven.  They would pass the truth of that discovery down through the generations, until the present day called “today” because God always keeps His promises and God never changes.  From the Bread of Heaven we now know as Jesus, all may come to know the glory of God.  The pattern was formed right there as the Israelites wandered through the Wilderness of Sin.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

OH THE PLACES WE SHOULD GO - ALABAMA WILDLIFE CENTER



ALABAMA WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTER
200 Terrace Drive
Pelham, Alabama  35124

(Writing and photography by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

My eight year old grandson just LOVES animals; especially turtles.  

He is fascinated with the way injured animals can be rescued and rehabilitated.  

He seems more interested in this subject than most kids; so for his last visit to our house; I decided to share The Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center with him.  

I could not have picked a more wonderful thing!  He absolutely loved it! 

I had no idea that a place just a short distance from our home would provide him with so much fun and enjoyment.  The Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is located inside Oak Mountain State Park, which provides lots of amazing entertainment for people living in the area, as well as visitors from other parts of the country.

I had never been to this particular part of the park, so I really did not know what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised and amazed at the discoveries we uncovered.  We followed the long wooded park road drive to the center, and as we drove I explained to him what we would be doing on the visit.  I didn’t see much reaction on his face at first; but I knew I had made the right decision when we arrived and he skipped out of the car and held both arms up high in a victory dance.  

He was so interested in everything that was going on there.  He took it all in with wide eyes, noting the information on the signs as we entered, and liking the rustic outdoorsy look of the building surrounded by beautiful and natural woodlands.  This was his kind of place!

Upon entering we could hear the sounds of birds singing and chirping “hello.”  

It seems that they receive over 1,800 birds from over 100 different species at this center.  They rehabilitate the injured and orphaned birds by providing them with food, shelter and medical care while they heal.  Of course the goal is for each of them to be able to return to the wild.

We arrived just before the morning feeding started.  We had to wait a bit; so we took in the curious books, pamphlets, stuffed animals and T-shirts in the lobby.  There were some very interesting items and I told him he could pick just one.  He very carefully chose a sweet little stuffed animal; a little wood owl.






As we were walking around looking through the glass walls at the birds who had found temporary homes in the shelter, a young girl approached us who worked there.  To our delight she had a miniature wood owl on her arm!  He was just adorable and Vinny actually got to touch him and gaze at him up close!  



 How cool was that!  We wondered around more and took in some of the nicely labeled and very informative exhibits, and looked through the glass walls to observe what was going on outdoors.






These people are really serious about their work.  They are open and working at this center every day of the year.  



The tables inside the building held lots of interesting information and great children's story books about birds and nature in general.  We got to go back to the feeding room and watch how they were feeding and caring for those birds who could not move around on their own.  

Later, we drove down the hill a bit to Terrace Drive and turned left.  We went past the park Headquarters on our right and made our way to the Wildlife Center's Treetop Nature Trail, on the left.  This was a wonderful 300 foot elevated boardwalk set among mature hardwoods in a stream-fed valley close to the lake.  There we visited with injured birds living in gigantic elevated cages.   These are the homes of the non-releasable birds of prey.  There were workers feeding the birds when we arrived.  They took time to chat with us and explain all the different species living in the large cages.  My grandson was glad to know that they still could live in the woods and have lots of room to try to fly if they wanted to.  I didn't have the camera with me for this leg of our journey, but I hope to go back to this awesome boardwalk again one day and get some great photos of the birds of prey and the boardwalk.  

At the beginning of the trail we saw two turkey vultures.  One had black feathers and one was an albino.  We immediately knew who they were because we had read about them.  We read that "Logan" the turkey vulture with the black feathers was found in 1997 near Hayden, Alabama.  He was suffering from wounds that impaired his ability to hunt for food.

We had also read about "Princess" the white albino turkey vulture who was brought into the center emaciated and starving in 1994.  

These two had to leave their home in the Oak Mountain forest for a brief period of time once as the extensive repairs and renovations were made to the Treetop Nature Trail.  Now they have completely remodeled new homes!  Their remodeling happened because of a partnership between the Shelby County government and the State's Department of Construction and Natural Resources.  The Alabama Wildlife Center is partnering with many community leaders, groups and organizations and corporations in order to accomplish continued support for making the Wildlife Center the best ever.  They provide a very important public outreach to our community and all of those living in the area are appreciative of their constant efforts and hard work.  

After viewing the vultures we saw some red tailed hawks, some great horned owls, barn owls and barred owls.  All of these birds have names now, which the public has helped to recommend.  You can make suggestions for names of any new birds by visiting The Alabama Wildlife Center facebook page or going to their website at www.awrc.org.

As we were leaving my grandson waved goodbye to the dedicated workers and thanked them for helping all the birds.  They smiled grateful smiles.  Without their hard work none of these birds would have survived in the wild.    

I highly recommend this great part of Oak Mountain State Park.  Any age would love visiting; it is interesting and informative.  We certainly had a great time there!




Friday, August 19, 2016

AN APPLE A DAY - THE WINNING QUALITIES OF BROCCOLI




DAY 111 OF 365 DAYS TO A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

Watching the Olympics and seeing the athletes from around the world that are praising God and giving God glory with their bodies has been so very refreshing!  

Sometimes we get bogged down here in America with the bad news of how the culture is caving and doing so much to dishonor God; yet in the Olympics this year I have been surprised to see this is NOT trending in so many other places that are represented; and I’ve also been very grateful for those American Olympiads who have taken a firm stand against the culture and proclaimed their faith out loud in front of the whole world and given glory to God.  

These brave individuals are living examples of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of The Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore; honor God with your bodies.”

I can almost guarantee you that these faithful Olympians know the value of the food they are putting into their bodies every day!



So are you using the three most nutritious vegetables (watercress, bok choy and chard) a lot more often?  I hope so.  They are loaded with nutritious value! 

You probably think you are going to hear about the fourth most nutritious vegetable in today’s blog; but I’ve decided to be random today!  I have no idea where broccoli fits on the most nutritious vegetable list; but I’m pretty sure it has to be close to the top.  I’ve discovered something I want to share here, about broccoli, and about pretty much any other nutritious vegetable for that matter; they all taste better when they are roasted or grilled!
 


I have eaten broccoli most of my adult life.  I hated it when I was a child, simply because I never gave it a chance and never tried eating it.  Finally, it was broccoli salad that first grabbed my tastebuds.  I found that I liked broccoli prepared that way and eventually I found I liked it steamed and mixed with other vegetables.  That is the same old boring way I’ve eaten broccoli since I grew up and started eating like an adult. 

A few weeks ago I was reading through some food blogs and discovered the REAL way to fix broccoli!  You roast it! 

Set your oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Clean, dry and chop your broccoli into flat slices and sprinkle sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder all over them.  Toss the broccoli in extra virgin olive oil and arrange in a casserole dish.  Sometimes I add finely chopped onions or mushrooms to the mix.  Roast in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.  In the meantime, mix 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/3 cup lemon juice and 2 Tablespoons soy sauce in a small bowl.  When roasting is done, remove the broccoli from oven and toss in this mix.  Delicious!   

So there is another interesting and tasty vegetable to add to your fast days (when you are only eating vegetables and fruits and nothing else)! 

Are you still alternating fast days and moderate days with one feast day a week?  I’m sticking to this plan and it seems to be working well.   I’m down twelve pounds in spite of the fact that I’ve celebrated this week with birthday food, and will be eating the festive foods from two baby showers this week (I may have to confess more next week).  You don’t have to be legalistic about this diet; it works so well when you follow the weekly patterns of fast/moderate day/feast.  You will have room to stray a little here and there for special occasions as long as you don’t go wild and remember to keep up your exercise routines going.  

I exercise by walking laps around my office building (it is a large building in an office complex.)  The six laps I divide up into twos three times a day probably equal to a mile each day of the work week.  Find something that works for you and fit it into your schedule daily (if you make it like brushing your teeth – you won’t feel the same if you forget it!)  

My daughters go to their gym on a regular basis.  I have a friend who enjoys working with horses and she gets her exercise by riding and training horses.  I have another friend who hikes every weekend.  I know several people who are “mall walkers.”  They are out there every morning, walking the halls of the mall as soon as it opens, getting their exercise and a little window shopping done at the same time.  I've heard a lot of people say they love pilates. Cycling is also a great way to get exercise, either outdoors or inside your own home on a stationary bike.  Just get an exercise routine and follow it faithfully!  Try to make it “doable.”  Something that fits into your day easy and natural, that way you will be sure to keep it up. 




The same "doable" factor should apply to your daily meals.  Try not to prepare recipes that are too complicated or take too much time and effort.  The simpler; the better, that way preparing meals at home do not become a dreaded chore.  The broccoli is easy and “doable” and should be a simple compliment to any of your nutritious meal plans.  

Broccoli is known for its cholesterol lowering abilities.  Broccoli also helps the body with detoxification.  It lowers your retention of unwanted contaminants.    In case you haven’t noticed, America is under a Vitamin D deficiency epidemic.  Almost everyone is deficient in this one vitamin.  Broccoli is full of vitamin D, and it can help to overcome this problem.  Every home in America should be preparing broccoli often!   

Broccoli contains ample supplies of vitamin A and vitamin K which we need to work with the vitamin D in our metabolisms.  This combination of vitamins is a winner every time.   If you are using vitamin D supplements, eating broccoli could only help them to work better. 

Broccoli is rich in kaempferol, which helps stop inflammation as well as wards off skin allergies.  A lot of us are allergic to the unnatural things we are absorbing in pre-packaged foods.  Broccoli can help your body to fight these things. 



So many people today seem to be suffering with problems of the stomach and the lining of the stomach.  Sometimes this happens because of the overgrowth of a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori.  This bacterium forms excessive attachments to the inner stomach lining.  Raw broccoli sprouts appear to provide special stomach support with respect to these unwanted overgrowth and over-attachement circumstances.  Researchers have studied the provision of HG broccoli (high glucosinolate broccoli) in the genetic activities of the stomach lining cells.  The glucosinolates in broccoli are clearly a key part of broccoli’s ability to support stomach health, and they seem to alter gene expression in cells that provide the stomach with its inner lining.  So, if you are experiencing stomach problems, get some ordinary broccoli and eat it without cooking (in salads and with dips) to help provide plenty of those glucosinolate phytonutrients that your stomach may be lacking. 

As well as everything mentioned above, broccoli has good qualities for fighting cancer.  

If all of this information isn’t enough for you; consider that broccoli also provides chromium, folate, dietary fiber, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, choline, vitamin B1 and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), potassium, copper, vitamin B1, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc, calcium, iron, niacin and selenium!  That should convince anyone that broccoli is a perfect addition to your menu at any time or place.

Exodus 15:26 proclaims how God has put healing factors in our foods (such as these nutrients found in broccoli):  He said; “If you listen carefully to The LORD your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all of his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am The LORD who heals you.”

Keep speaking to THE ONE WHO HEALS YOU.  God is always listening and always ready and willing to help us understand these things better.  Who better to consult about your body than the One who created it?

So keep eating that broccoli; because God has given it healing qualities that your body needs!  Keep the Olympic spirit going of those who are faithful and give glory to God for the victories and medals they achieve.  He is our provider and the One who causes us to be champions!



Thursday, August 18, 2016

COME AS A CHILD - LESSON 132 - A WONDERFUL PLACE CALLED ELIM




A LONG WALK THROUGH THE EXODUS
A WONDERFUL PLACE CALLED ELIM
(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

In the last COME AS A CHILD lesson, we left the Israelites happily camping at Elim where there were twelve abundant springs of fresh clean water, and seventy flourishing palm trees full of dates providing festive food and providing cool, restful shade for everyone.   (Have you ever noticed how palm trees seem to lift their branches up in worship to God?)  

Elim was quite a contrasting change from the bitter waters of Marah.  Remember the original request of Moses to Pharaoh when he first asked him to let the people go?  He asked that they could be free to go out to the desert to hold a feast before their God.  At Elim, this finally happened.  The people rested, worshipped and were refreshed before God.   

The scriptures that back up what I want to explore in today's lesson can be found in that last short little sentence at the end of Exodus, Chapter 15, verse 27 that states:  "Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water."  



The scriptures state this so plain and simple.  As so often we find there are no elaborate details; yet why were the words even stated in the first place?  There is always a good reason when you take your study deeper.  I think this last statement of the chapter is loaded with hidden meaning.  We touched on this a bit before; but I want to be sure to emphasize the importance of this part of the journey.  Elim was so much more than just a stopping off place along the way.  I think Elim can be compared to the place of safety that we read about in Revelation 12:14.  "The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach."  

The people had been through quite a dangerous and treacherous journey so far; and they were just getting started making their way toward the life God wanted them to have.  They were on their way to meet God; and they were tired and worn out already, in the beginning the journey.  I think God wanted them to have a time of refreshment before they moved on to the BIG important events He had planned ahead for them.  So; He led them to Elim, a wonderful, little known, hidden oasis in the desert.

We begin to read about Elim at the end of Exodus, Chapter 15 right after the dramatic song of Moses and Miriam and the hard time they had at Morah where the water had been bitter.  It is interesting that the biblical meaning of the number fifteen (the number of that chapter in Exodus) is "rest."  Rest is certainly what the people found at Elim.  The number fourteen (the number of the previous chapter where they were delivered from Pharaoh) is symbolic of deliverance, which is also truly what happened just before Elim.  I am always amazed at the fascinating meanings of biblical number sequences.  Only God could have made such orders with such clear meanings, and only He could have put them together in this way!  The mind of God is so vast and so high above anything we could ever think!  

These scriptures at the end of Exodus 15 give the exact number of springs and the exact number of palm trees whenever they speak of Elim.   It is detailed in that way; yet all of the other details are left for us to research and come up with on our own.  You can’t help but wonder why the exact amount of each spring and tree was given; is there a good reason for this? 


The old sages of long ago asked this same question.  Many of them have supposed that the twelve springs correspond with the twelve tribes of Israel, and the seventy palm trees correspond with the seventy elders of the Sanhedrin, and/or the seventy elders who were later chosen by Moses to approach the Mountain of God for the giving of Torah.   

Others even go so far as to say that at the time of creation God was anticipating this day that His people would be wondering through the wilderness with the thought that each tribe of Israel would be able to come to Elim and sit beside their own spring of water and each elder of each family would have their own palm tree for their family to sit under.  They would sit down right there in the middle of a hot dry desert and be comfortable and well watered and give thanks to The One and Only God who had thought of them at the very time of their creation and had even made this oasis in the desert especially for them to rest, enjoy and be restored.  It is a nice little story; and quite imaginative; but what is the real reason that God brought Israel to this very spot after Marah?  Is there any truth to the old imaginings of the sages?




At Marah the people got a “glimpse” of Torah.  As they journey further and further toward Sinai' they are about to discover the WHOLE Torah. God is going to refresh their souls with His word; but perhaps He is refreshing their physical bodies for the journey first.  Many times in the bible when we read of spiritual things there is an equal physical thing that foreshadows the event.  At any rate The People of God will soon begin to understand how significant Torah will be to them.  It would seem that the Torah is a very special gift from God; it is comparable to a wedding gift for a much cherished bride!

The giving of Torah worked in a similar way to the giving of a wedding ring.   It was a commitment and a promise.  God was giving His people Torah as a permanent symbol of His love for them.   Torah was a gift that would embellish the life of the people after they took special vows to live before God forever and to serve Him with their lives.   With the giving of Torah God would be making an official, public statement to the people of Israel as well as the whole world that they were to be His very own special Bride. Torah was their wedding covenant.   So, you might say the journey into the wilderness was the beginning of Israel becoming God’s Bride.  Elim came to serve as a safe and special place where they could rest up for the wedding vows that were ahead of them. 

At Mt. Sinai the Bride of God called Israel would receive The Torah, which was equivalent to her wedding ring.  This is true because the Torah is full of God’s commandments, and there with the great leadership of Moses they would take a vow to obey those commandments given by God forever.   There was to be a type of wedding ceremony between God and His chosen people; Israel, God's beloved; and all of the nation of Israel was invited to attend this special event as the guest of honor!  

I honestly think that was the heavenly perspective of the coming events at the time the people journeyed to Elim.  I'm not sure, on the other hand, that all of the Israelites totally understood the extent and significance or importance of God's BIG plans for them; yet.  Like many young brides, Israel was na├»ve and unaware of many things.  

I DO think Moses understood the full extent of God's intentions though, and I think Moses tried to communicate this same message to everyone involved.  At this point of the journey God was definitely making plans to make Israel His nation and His Bride.  It was something He had planned from the beginning of creation!  Israel was to become the model nation that would bring all other nations into the family of God.   



So how does this relate to Elim?  The grove at Elim, on the way to Sinai, was like unto an expensive resort hotel where you would put up your wedding guests before a very special wedding took place.  There would be parties and little celebrations and times of refreshments and relaxation before the big event.  This set aside time is to prepare the people for the mood of the wedding.  At most resorts of this sort there is a bridal suite; and it is set aside and reserved especially for the Bride.  It is a place where she can receive her special invited guests and spend festive times with them.  There are wonderful well appointed rooms for everyone.  Is is a super special place!  There are gifts and luxurious days to be had in such a place; especially if you were there as a member of God's family in the making.  

I'm sure you are familiar with these types of establishments of which I am speaking; the one's where special guests get baskets full of wonderful goodies delivered to their room because The Host (knowing all of their own special tastes) has taken special care and planning to have very creative people prepare exotic baskets to be delivered which are filled with delicacies that He knows they will love and adore.  No one else knows you like your beloved!  He knows the things that will bring you delight and He has spared no expense to give them to you! There are rooms full of flowers and gifts just for the Bride.  



There are also other special suites for special guests with selected functions to perform at the wedding.  Maybe each one will even receive their hometown newspaper bought and brought in, delivered especially for them from their own home town which is far, far away from this resort, so that they will not miss any local news or events going on in their homeland, and especially so they will be made to feel right at home and comfortable while they are attending the wedding feast.  I guess little glimpses of Torah COULD read like a newspaper from your own hometown.   Every effort has been made to dot the i's and cross the t's and all the little special things are being put into place right here at Elim for the sake of honoring and cherishing the bride just before the wedding.  The Groom has spared nothing to show His unwaivering love for His Bride.

There is lots of special individual attention given to each guest at such a resort as this!  There is a special place prepared for each one who has accepted the invitation to the wedding.  No one is overlooked or forgotten here; everyone is special!  Nothing is held back.  Nothing is too fine for these guests!  No small favor is overlooked in this wedding preparation! 

After all, this is the upcoming wedding of Isreal to the Ruler of the Universe!  It is no small occasion!  Elim is like that luxurious resort hotel filled with special wedding guests, including the most honored Bride.  All of this is happening on the journey to the wedding; in the time leading up to  the date of the wedding of Israel to God.  What a grand celebration!    Everyone is gathering together in one place at the same time for festivities that go on and on.  Not only have they celebrated great freedom and liberation from the bondage of slavery; they have met their lifelong lover.  They are going to be married to an awesome and powerful King!

At Elim, each head of household of God's future family had their own designated individual stream for drinking and bathing and swimming.   No one was crowded; everyone had just what they needed and more.  



This trip the Israelites took to Elim is comparable in nature to the family trip we take each year on our annual celebration of The Feast of Tabernacles.  That festival mirrors this time in Elim, as well as The millennial reign of Christ in the days to come.   The time in Elim was a refreshing break from the madness of life in the wilderness.  The Annual Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is a refreshing break for us from the madness of today's fast-paced and stressful world.   Eight days of celebration of our freedom in Christ away from the rest of the world; like a little oasis with God.  

At Elim each head of household had their own special palm tree to sit under.  These are special palms which are in season and each of the trees are filled with luscious palm-dates for good eating.  It reminds me of the scriptures that speak of how it will be in the last days that we read of from the prophet  Micah in Micah 4:4; "Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for The LORD Almighty has spoken."  This is exactly what the people experienced at Elim.  They were getting a "taste" of what eternity might be like when they are married to God forever.

Everyone in the wedding party at Elim had been given a luxurious place to stay as they awaited the wedding of the Nation of Israel to God.  God has gone out of His way to impress His Bride before she receives her wedding ring (Torah.)  

Elim is yet another gift from God, a place of rest and refreshment before the special wedding day.  Here the bride is to be pampered and treated like a queen!   Here in this spa of twelve springs and the shade of seventy palms the bride may at last come to act like a bride.  She will be safe from the enemy here.  She will be protected and unafraid.  This will get her ready for the wedding at Sinai where she will get her first full glimpse of The Face of God.  Can you imagine how Israel must have felt?   Can you imagine God's anticipation of becoming more and more intimate with His chosen people?

It does seem as you read between the lines of the scriptures that God had waited and planned for this very special time all the way from the first point of creation!  It is so much like a time in the life of a perfect groom.   Perhaps He was thinking of His Bride, Israel as He created these 70 palm trees and these 12 streams that He knew would be a special oasis for His very own Bride as she waited in route to their very special wedding day.  



The seventy elders who would sit under their own individual palm trees would be the ones who would record the awesome events of the wedding.  They would note each little detail and later they would tell the stories of them to all the earth throughout all of history.  Their job was very important; they were very honored dignitaries; the close and special guests who would perform very special tasks for the Bride and Groom.  One of their jobs would be to make sure everything was up to par with The Kingdom they were representing at the coming wedding feast.  Nothing but the best!  The finest wine, the best food, clean white linen, the most beautiful music, and perfect attire for all of the attendees.  It all would be arranged.  

They; (everyone who made the journey past Marah to Elim;) were to be honored at Elim.  Everyone who arrives at Elim is to be treated as royalty!  God has rolled out the red carpet and chosen the best servants to cater this event!  (Angels guarding the way and the camp; headed up by none other than The Angel of The LORD Himself!)  God has provided for every need!

These wells and water and palm trees speak of a joyous times of sheer refreshment.  Here under the trees and next to the fresh streams of waters the people are healed from their long tiring lives as slaves to another king where they were held in bondage against their will.  They have been rescued and they are on their way home.  They are restored.  They are set free.  They are given back their hope. They are healed and refreshed right here at Elim.  Their eyes are opened to a whole new way of life.  For once; they see they DO have a future; an awesome one! 

The healing at Elim comes from the very voice of the groom; their God.  He speaks through the language of love found in Torah.   It is alive and it resounds long and loud, like the sound of a trumpet blast announcing good news.  The voice of God is now coming into their lives in a very official and permanent way and it brings healing to the whole nation; which eventually, over time will bring healing to all of the earth.



The coming wedding of Israel to God sets the pattern for the coming future wedding of the Church to Christ; God's Only Begotten Son.  It is a family tradition!  The Son will follow in the steps of His Father in choosing His Bride and setting up the plans for His wedding celebration.

With God’s wedding to Israel at Mt. Sinai, there were twelve tribes that made up the Bride and seventy elders that were made up of those who would take God’s word forward and teach the people how to live life God’s way from that point on through time.  This would be their healing; this would bring them joy. 

With Christ’s wedding to the church there are twelve original disciples who taught God’s word and seventy other disciples who committed to come with them.  They were commissioned and sent out two-by-two to preach the word of the gospel of Christ to the world.  They were told to deliver the good news, to cast out demons, to raise the dead and to heal the sick.  This was their time of refreshment from the wilderness of life; this was their joy and purpose!  This time of grace and the giving of the gospel is their Elim.

Jesus is coming back soon!  We are now supposed to be living and waiting like the Israelites who were in Elim; waiting on the royal wedding feast.  It is a wonderful place!  

Are you there yet? 

Are you covered in the blood of the Lamb and waiting on your time of rest and restoration and joy? 

Are you looking forward to that trip to Elim right before the Marriage Super of The Lamb? 

Jesus promised us; “I will prepare a place for you so that where I am, you may also be.”  Just as God had on the day of their creation, prepared a place for his Bride named Israel; Christ too has prepared a place for his Bride; the Church.    



Jesus was there at our creation and He has prepared for our future right from that very day that He created us.  We are His and He is ours; we must get ready to go to Elim.  We will receive new bodies, new clothes, new minds and hearts and in that place is rest and delight.  We will find the time of our healing and restoration there.  We will totally understand our future and our purpose there.  We will no longer be looking through a glass darkly; but we will see and know that God will be with us forever, and we will be wed to Christ and rule and reign with Him in His Kingdom.  As The Son of God, Christ has chosen us to be His.  In describing our relationship He has repeated those famous words of Solomon; “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine!”

We must keep moving on past Marah to Elim. 

As I said before; there is no proof of Elim on the map.  Geologists cannot tell us that it ever existed.  We simply have the scripture references for knowledge.  I believe this is true for a reason; it is because Elim is not a “physical” place but a “spiritual” place.  It is a place we arrive at when we have been through the wilderness and tasted the bitter waters at Marah and kept the faith in spite of it all.  It is a place of overcoming the world and holding on to Christ and His promises for our future.  Whenever this world becomes too crazy and unforgiving and evil; we must hold onto Elim in our minds and wait on our Bridegroom.  Stay ready because He is coming soon!
 
We have spoken of the twelve wells of water at Elim, and the 70 palm trees that grew there.  We have seen how the bitter waters were made sweet at Marah by a tree which we have equated to The Tree of Life that heals the nations.  We have discussed the fact that The Tree of Life relates to Torah.  Torah is the direct Words of Christ.  The only way to the Tree of Life is through Christ.  The Torah was given to Moses to bring the people life and redemption and freedom.  They got an early glimpse of part of Torah at Marah.    The sacred words of Torah have been given to us directly from Christ in the time that He walked the earth.  He was like Moses to us.    

As we read about end times; we come to hear of another place similar to Elim; a place of bountiful water and trees that provides rest, restoration and healing.  It is called The River of Life and it flows from The Throne of God through the City of God.  There seems to be 12 kinds of fruit growing here, a different fruit for each month of the year.   We know that it takes water to grow fruit trees, possibly these trees producing the fruit are found beside twelve wells of water similar to the trees that grow in Elim.  The leaves from the two trees that produce fruit in this city (are the trees maybe Israel and the church?) are for healing; just as the tree in Marah was for the healing of the water.  The 70 nations of the earth (another symbolism represented by the 70 Palm Trees) will receive healing from the leaves of these two trees that grow in this city by the river that is so similar to Elim.    

Here are the words we read from Revelation 22:1-3:  "Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb, down the middle of the main street of the city.  On either side of the river stood a tree of life, producing twelve kinds of fruit and yielding a fresh crop for each month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse.  The throne of God and the Lamb will be within the city, and His servants will worship Him."


Elim was like a replica of this City in Heaven.  It is a special place where God will have us to stay as we await the coming Marriage Supper of The Lamb.  Elim was a special city where God was having Israel to wait on the receiving of the Torah, which would officially wed God to the People of Israel forever.  

Can you see these patterns that develop to show us we have a hope and future?  

God was doing this for Israel back in their wilderness journey; and He is doing the same for us as we await his instructions in the wilderness journey we are now taking through life.  

Enjoy Elim!  Get excited about the wedding day!





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