Crockpot Meal Exchange
Invite the women to bring the ingredients (minus the meat) along with the recipe for a tried–and–true crockpot meal that serves 5 people. Each woman who brings these will exchange with another and go home with a variety of meals to put in their freezer for later use.
Ask the women to bring copies of a favorite family recipe to exchange with others. Ask them to share what makes that particular recipe a favorite, what memories are associated with it, or even any funny stories of mistakes that have been made while trying to prepare it. They may want to bring samples.
Taste of the Pantry
Have the women use ingredients from the corps pantry to create easy family recipes. Produce these in a booklet along with a devotion to give out to pantry clients. Include an invitation to attend the corps programs: women’s ministries, men’s ministries, youth programs and Sunday services.
Fund Raiser Idea
Host a fund raiser evening in support of the social services ministry of the corps. Invite high-profile community members to come and make a dish using typical food pantry staples. Invite these community “chefs” to man their table, give out samples and recipe cards for their dish, and encourage people to support the work of The Salvation Army through the pantry. Provide information on how The Salvation Army is working to impact hunger in the community, and invite attendees to be an on-going part of the work through volunteering, contributing and other means of support.
Invite the women to put together kits that could be given out at the food pantry as a means of inviting the women to come to the women’s ministries meetings:
- Home Spa Day Kit (bath bombs, facial scrub, body lotion, nail kit, foot soak)
- Good Morning Kit (favorite coffee/tea, mug, devotion suggestion, biscotti)
- Sun Fun Kit (small sunblock tube, after sun gel/lotion, book, water bottle)
When you hear or use the word “hope,” what comes to mind? In what scenarios might you use the word “hope”? Some examples might be: I hope we have pizza for dinner. I hope my jeans fit. I hope I don’t lose my job. I hope I have enough money to pay bills. I hope my kids know how much I love them.
Most of the time, when we use the word “hope,” we aren’t using it in the same way it was used by Paul in Galatians 5. The Greek word Paul used was elpis (el-pē’s) which means, according to Vine’s Dictionary, “a favorable and confident expectation.” Traditionally, when we say we hope for something, we are saying it with some hesitation about whether or not it will happen, which is not what Paul was saying. To put it in context of some of the recipes you’ve received today, the difference might sound like this:
|Instead of:||Use “hope” the elpis way:|
|Gosh, I hope this works…||This is going to be great.|
|I hope this tastes good…||This will be delicious.|
|I hope I have all I need.||We have more than enough.|
Throughout Paul’s letters in our New Testament, we can see that he clearly spent a great deal of time helping people understand the grace of God. Out of His great love for us, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to take the punishment for our sinfulness. He died in our place, the ultimate once–for–all sacrifice, clearing the way between man and God, so that we can have a right relationship with God again. We call this grace. We can’t do anything to earn it. We can’t pay for it. We can’t sweet talk God into loving us more, and we can’t promise Him our best so that He will forgive our worst. Instead, God has given us what we never deserved in the first place—the only solution that works. His loving grace.
There were false teachers in Galatia who were trying to convince the Christians that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough, that they still had to follow the Jewish laws in order to be in right relationship with God. Just like they had been doing for years, the believers and the false teachers alike were completely ignoring the fact that God is so much less about doing and so much more about being.
Paul had been adamant about reminding the people that he had worked hard to develop their faith with the assurance that they were free people—free from slavery to the law, free from the need to make sure they are doing all the right things and not doing all the wrong things. They were free to be who God created them to be, first and foremost in relationship with Him. And in that freedom, the rest would come as they and we participate in life with Him.
The lifestyle of freedom was a difficult thing for the early Christians to understand. I believe it’s also difficult for us today. Most of us feel we function far better when we have a “job description,” clear–cut boundaries, a list of “do this” and “don’t do this.” However, that’s not what relationship with God is all about. It’s not what it was designed to be. It’s about hope. It’s about faith. And it’s about love.
In Galatians 5:4-6 (NIV), Paul says it this way: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” We wait for the hope of righteousness—we do not work for it.
Paul addresses the nervousness–turned–faithlessness, which described the believers’ relationship with God, using circumcision as an example. Back then, circumcision wasn’t done for medical reasons or for personal choice. Instead, as part of the Jewish Law, it was a definite sign of belonging to God, and the false teachers were causing the Christians to waffle about whether or not some of these outward indicators of relationship with God were still necessary.
Outward signs of the inward grace that takes place are a part of our Christian faith. The biggest outward indicators are the “fruit” that comes from the Spirit’s indwelling presence (which naturally includes our obedience to God through loving Him and loving our neighbors), not our adherence to Law that focuses on ourselves instead of on God.
Choosing to follow any part of the Law in order to gain favor with God had become a stumbling block for these Galatian Christians. In some cases, it would seem that the Law was quickly becoming a “just in case” thing for some of them, like insurance in the event that the grace offered through Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t actually enough to set them free from sin. (Like having the Domino’s Pizza “Order Now” button online ready to push just in case one of these new recipes doesn’t quite work,)
God did the work of providing a way for our forgiveness so that we could live with Him in freedom. His desire is that we would not only experience freedom, but keep on experiencing it, keep on growing and participating in it. He wants us to settle in with Him, to make our home with and in Him, and for that relationship to characterize our lifestyle. When this is so, we know that one day, we won’t have to worry about what’s going on around us, what’s pulling us this way and that way. We will have the full experience of the righteousness for which we have hoped—life in the full presence of God, being fully known and knowing Him fully.
Are you living in freedom today, living in the hope (the confident expectation) that one day, thanks to the grace of God, you will live in complete righteousness with God? Or are you trying to do good things, be a good person, win points with God, worrying in the background that you might not have done enough? I encourage you to spend some time in prayer, asking God to relieve you of the burden of trying to do enough good to win Him over or to “balance out” your sin. Ask Him to help you to live in the confident expectation available to those who have put their full trust in Him, so that you can freely live in love with Him and others in His name. Keep having that conversation with Him, living more and more in hope.
Close in prayer.