Welcome We’re looking at about six weeks until the new year. Can you believe that? Seriously, we are amazed at our house by how quickly this calendar year has gone. In typical fashion, as the year winds down, we begin to examine the events over the past year. I often look back and wonder if my time has been spent in the best way possible. Our time is truly a precious and valuable gift. I’m going to talk a little about this today and my recent study in the book of Ecclesiastes. Thanks for joining me. Note–I may receive a small compensation from affiliate links seen on this blog post. For further information, please see my Terms and Disclosure page.
Food For Thought I love the book of Ecclesiastes. I know, probably not many people would place this in their top 5 or even 10 books of the Bible. But I can relate so well to this book written by Solomon, identified as “the teacher,” who shares so much wisdom for us in the Old Testament. As I was sharing some of my notes and reading with my husband, he was curious why this book means so much to me, when many would consider it quite pessimistic. I love how the book is so REAL and full of RAW EMOTION. The author is offering a completely human perspective on the meaning of life. He says what so many of the rest of us want to say. I believe most of us can relate to those times in life when we throw our hands up in the air and say “It’s all meaningless.” Having wealth is meaningless. Well, I can’t speak personally for the wealth part, but I do know that having a lot of material possessions can be meaningless. Having wisdom, as far as education and “book smarts” can be meaningless. Physical beauty is meaningless. Earthly pleasures are meaningless. Work, success, esteem, reward…all meaningless. There are times when I have looked around and said, in some degree, this is all meaningless. Why am I working so hard for people who don’t like me or care about me, when my physical and emotional health are about to give out, and for money to buy stuff that doesn’t last? This is earthly, human life! And it is no mistake that God would include these words in scripture for us to study and learn from, no matter how negative they appear on paper. God knows we are all going to experience times when we are either crying out “It is meaningless,” or we are going to need a lesson in what is meaningful and what is not.
Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes is probably one of the best known passages in the Bible, if for no other reason than the song lyrics from “Turn, Turn, Turn” performed by The Byrds in 1965. Even people who are not necessarily Christian or spiritual have some familiarity with the words in this chapter. The idea that there is a time and a purpose for everything under heaven is comforting to me, even though some of those events include sorrow, death, and weeping. In a nutshell, verses 2-8 outline our lives. We are born and we will die. In between those times we will experience sadness and laughter, times of silence and times of speaking, times of love, and yes, even times of hate. But through all this, there is purpose. When I read this passage, I can identify times from my life, either in quick moments or longer instances, that fit into each of the categories of verses 2-8. As a history buff, I can study and see how these descriptions of Ecclesiastes 3 are relevant to moments throughout recorded time. It’s powerful, to me, because God KNOWS. Remember, even though Solomon wrote the words we now read as the book of Ecclesiastes, the scriptures of the Bible are God’s inspired words. He’s the Creator of all things and sees how all of these moments in time are fitting together, weaving the events of our life into the fabric of mankind’s existence. Yes, we ARE that important! And we find out by reading the entire book of Ecclesiastes and witnessing the “teacher’s” journey from believing all is futile, to realizing that “it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him…” (5:18.)
By my own interpretation, and remember, I’m no Bible scholar, the primary lesson here is how we are spending our time that God has blessed us with. Are we using our time in ways that are meaningful or meaningless? I can spend my life chasing things that are meaningless…riches, possessions, personal pleasures, OR I can spend my life doing meaningful work to benefit my friends, family, church, and many others. I can spend my precious time dwelling on events of the past and worrying about the future OR I can spend my time in the present, enjoying my family, friends, and the countless blessings I have been given. So many of life’s circumstances are beyond our control or choice, but I CAN choose HOW to spend my time while here on this earth. As we head into a new year in a few weeks, examine your clocks and calendars. Are the things that are most precious to you how you spend your days and hours? Clear the clutter of your calendars and spend time with the people you love, doing meaningful work. And in all this, remember Ecclesiastes 11:8, “However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all…”
Today’s Scripture I spent last week reading and studying the book of Ecclesiastes, again. I would love to dig even deeper into this book. I do encourage you to read the book in its entirety when you have a chance. In addition to Ecclesiastes, I would like to share these verses from the book of James about “time.” I have so much I can learn and apply to my own life with these five verses!
James 4:13-17 “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
Today’s Recipe Sometimes I need a low-maintenance dish for a lot of different reasons. We all love our slow cookers for times like these. I don’t always need to cook something all day in it, but a short cooking time of just a few hours, like while we are gone to church or a weekend afternoon activity. Today’s recipe is perfect for those half-day meals. I call this Meat Lover’s Supreme Pizza Casserole because it has all of the great toppings you find on a meat-lover’s or supreme pizza. Because of my tomato allergy, I only add the tomato sauce to individual bowls for my husband and daughter so I still get all of the flavor, without the serious reaction. And while we’re on that topic, you may notice in my recipes that I often use jarred roasted red peppers where tomatoes are typically called for, as this has become my stand-in ingredient. I love the flavor, they have some similar nutrients, and the color and texture remind me of tomatoes. So, if roasted red peppers aren’t your thing, you can obviously leave them out and use real (canned) tomatoes in this recipe. You can also stir in the tomato sauce with the meats if you don’t have to avoid any allergies or picky eaters.
Meat Lover’s Supreme Pizza Casserole
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. Italian sausage
- 1 pkg Italian seasoning blend
- 1 pkg Hormel pepperoni
- 1 pkg Buddig salami, cut into strips
- 16 oz pkg rotini pasta
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
- 1 small can mushroom pieces, drained
- 1 jar deli-style roasted red peppers, undrained
- 1 8-oz pkg shredded Italian cheese blend
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 jar marinara sauce
- Additional parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes for serving, if desired
In large skillet, cook ground beef and Italian sausage until no longer pink. Add Italian seasoning and stir. In large pot, cook rotini pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta.
Spray large slow cooker with nonstick spray. Place cooked beef and sausage in bottom of cooker. Add pepperoni and salami slices.
Add diced bell pepper, black olives, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers to cooker.
Add cooked noodles and stir everything in the pot together. If cooking your casserole with marinara, you can stir that in now. Cook on low 3 hours. Add parmesan cheese and Italian cheese blend and stir together. Turn off slow cooker and place the lid on to melt the cheeses. Serve with additional marinara, parmesan, and red pepper flakes, if desired.
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