Sunday, August 30, 2009

Broiled Lamb Patties

If you're tired of the usual beef and chicken fare and are looking for something just a little bit different, why not give ground lamb a try? I unearthed this recipe from an ancient Betty Crocker Cookbook a couple of years ago, and it instantly became a family favorite. There's no telling how old my ripped and battered cookbook is because the copyright page is long gone. I'm fairly certain it was printed sometime after the Flood, though from the looks of the cookbook itself, I can't be absolutely sure.

1 lb ground lamb
2 tbsp dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp snipped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried dill weed (I usually add more than this.)
1 egg
1 clove garlic, crushed (I usually add more than this, too.)
4 slices bacon

Mix lamb, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, dill weed, egg and fresh garlic. Shape mixture into 4 patties, each about 1 inch thick. Wrap bacon slice around edge of each patty secure with wooden picks.

Set oven control to broil and/or 550 degrees. Broil patties with tops about 3 inches from heat, turning once, until done, about 15 minutes. Serves 4.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God With Us

Who are we---that You would be mindful of us?
What do You see---that's worth looking our way?
We are free---in ways that we never should be.
Sweet release---from the grip of these chains.

Like hinges straining from the weight,
My heart no longer can keep from singing.

All that is within me cries
For You alone be glorified:
Emmanuel, God with us.

My heart sings a brand new song.
The debt is paid, these chains are gone.
Emmanuel, God with us.

Lord, You know---our hearts don't deserve Your glory;
Still You show---a love we cannot afford.

Like hinges straining from the weight,
My heart no longer can keep from singing.

All that is within me cries
For You alone be glorified:
Emmanuel, God with us.

My heart sings a brand new song.
The debt is paid, these chains are gone.
Emmanuel, God with us.

Such a tiny offering
Compared to Calvary;
We lay it at Your feet.

Such a tiny offering
Compared to Calvary;
We lay this at Your feet.

All that is within me cries
For You alone be glorified:
Emmanuel, God with us.

My heart sings a brand new song.
My debt is paid, these chains are gone.
Emmanuel, God with us.

(by MercyMe)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Against the law!

Do you know that it's illegal to throw shoes at a bridal couple in Colorado; rob a bank and then shoot the bank teller with a water pistol in Louisiana; sneeze in public in Nebraska; eavesdrop in Oklahoma; sing out of tune in North Carolina; push a live moose out of a moving airplane in Alaska; sit on the curb of any city street and drink beer from a bucket in Missouri; and, wear a false moustache in church in Alabama if it makes people laugh?

I doubt these are state-wide laws. But according to some sources, all of them, though old and outdated, are on the law books somewhere in these states because it isn't worth legislators' time to remove them. It's hard to imagine the circumstances that required such laws to be written in the first place, or even how they could have been enforced. But do you suppose for a moment they made people live their lives any differently? So often, prohibiting something makes us want to do the very thing that is prohibited.

I think the prohibition era showed us that human behavior cannot be legislated. And this is true with the law of God as well. Some people think that the Ten Commandments were given to help us to be good, but this is not so. The Bible clearly says they were given to show all of us that we can never obey them and therefore need a Savior. Romans 3:19 tells us that the Law was given "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." And Romans 3:20 says, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin." This is why we see in Romans 8:3 that "what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature," God sent Jesus Christ to accomplish. Also in Hebrews 7:19 we read that "the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did." This "better hope" is "that through Jesus Christ there is forgiveness for your sins." And "everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do" (Acts 13:38-39).

EVERYONE has broken the God's law (Rom 3:23). Do you believe that Jesus Christ paid your penalty for you (Rom 6:23; Jn 3:16)?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And, here's the pitch ...

So, you've settled into your seat, read your program book, and now, the concert is about to begin. The Concertmaster — whose job it is to tune the orchestra — walks onstage, acknowledges the applause of the audience, turns his back, and then points to the oboist. On cue, she lifts her oboe and plays a single note until all the members of the orchestra have had a chance to hear it. But not just any note, mind you — an A. And not just any A, but A-440.

But what in the world does A-440 mean? I'll try to explain what I've found out about it.

All the sounds we hear are produced by vibrations, or waves, in the air. The number of waves that hit our ears in a given second is called the frequency, AND the more waves there are, the higher the frequency is and therefore the higher the note that we hear is.

In the music world, the note that everybody tunes to is called A-440 because that particular sound has a frequency of 440 waves per second — producing the note A.

But how can anyone possibly determine with any accuracy what frequency their instrument is playing? Well, it used to be that great musicians were able to learn to tell the differences. These days, however, many musicians use a tuner. This little machine, about the size of a deck of cards, has a meter on it which measures the exact frequency.

Actually, A-440 hasn't always been the standard for tuning. The standard pitch has gone up over the years. In fact, in the Baroque era (about 300 years ago), musicians tuned to a lower version of A — about 430 cycles per second. Because of this, music written for sopranos in the Baroque era is much harder to sing now than it was back then. The high notes in Handel's Messiah, for instance, are much harder for the chorus to hit now than they were back in 1742.

And the frequency of tuning continues to rise. Today many orchestras are tuning to A-442. It's only a slight difference, but they feel that the higher frequency gives them a brighter sound.

Hmmm, I might finally have the perfect excuse for not being able to hit some of those high notes ...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More word plays

She's happy to make a pair of pants for you, or at least sew its seams.

Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine.

The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

A cardboard belt would be a waist of paper.

He said I was average - but he was just being mean.

It's a fact, taller people sleep longer in bed.

Did you hear about the fire at the circus? The heat was in tents.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

She was the apple of his eye and he liked to sit down be cider.

If you leave alphabet soup on the stove and go out, it could spell disaster.

In a recession, the most secure job is garbage-man. Business is always picking up.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

If a judge loves the sound of his own voice, expect a long sentence.

The primary responsibility for a child's education is apparent.

The liquor store advertised, 'We De-Liver.'

Seven days without a pun makes one weak.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Above the law?

Some people think that living under grace means we may do as we please. But grace is not a license to sin (Rom 6:1-2). It is argued, however, that because the covenant of the law was made with Israel, we were never under the law:

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God (Rom 3:19).

Yes, the covenant of the law was made with God's chosen nation, Israel, and no such covenant was ever made with any other nation, BUT that did not exclude Gentiles from God's law because it also says that the law was given, "that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God" (Rom 3:19).

So, Israel was to represent the righteous and holy standards of the Law of God in the world. And, "when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves" (Rom 2:14) shows that Gentiles had "the work of the Law written in their hearts" (Rom 2:15). It's no wonder we live the lives we do when we feel we're above the law of God.

Instead, now, where there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28), it should be true of us, that "sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Rom 6:14). "Not under law" does not mean that we are above the law. We are to produce fruit that is spiritual (Col 3:1-4), and heavenly (Eph 1:20-21; 2:6) in nature. And in doing so we will, by His grace, accomplish what the law could never do.

It is for this reason that, as members of the Body of Christ, Paul tells us to, "walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Gal 5:16), and reminds us that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Gal 5:22-23).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Matthias, the right man for the job?

At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. "For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry." (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) "For it is written in the book of Psalms, '(LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT'; and, 'LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.' "Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us--beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us--one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection." So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Act 1:15-26).

Acts 1:15-26 speaks of the first official act of the eleven disciples following the ascension of Jesus Christ — that of appointing a successor to Judas to bring their number up to twelve again (Matt 19:28; Lk 22:30).

Not everybody agrees that Matthias was the right man for the job, however. In fact, some hold that the choice of Matthias as Judas' successor was a great mistake. They believe that this choice was made in the flesh; that the disciples were out of order in appointing two candidates and then asking God to choose between them; that they should have waited for God to appoint a successor, and that this was demonstrated by the fact that God later appointed Paul. In short, they believe that Paul, not Matthias, was God's man for Judas' place.

But this can't be right because the Lord had given the apostles authority to act officially in His absence (Matt 18:18-20; Jn 20:23). And it seems to me that because they had been instructed to obey the commands of Ps 41:9; 69:25; 109:8 (Lk 24:44-45), that in harmony with the Law of Moses, they would also cast lots (Num 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2).

Additionally, to say that the disciples acted first and prayed later is as untrue as it is unfair because of what we see in the verse immediately preceding this passage:

These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers (Acts 1:14).

Furthermore, Paul could not have taken Judas' place as one of the twelve because of the following reasons:

First of all, the requirements for the new disciple were very exact:

"Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us--beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us--one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection." (Acts 1:21-22).

So Paul wouldn't have been eligible at any time, because he had not accompanied the Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry — in fact, he had not even seen Him.

Secondly, Paul was reserved for a special ministry entirely separate and distinct from that of the twelve (See Acts 20:24; Gal 1:11-12, 17-19; 2:2, 7-9; Rom 11:13; 15:15-16; 16:25; Eph 3:1-3).

And finally, that Matthias was indeed God's choice for Judas' place, is evident from what we read in the very next passage:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance (Acts 2:4).

Surely this is confirmation enough!

Monday, August 3, 2009

He's Concerned About You

God is just a prayer away
All you need to do is call
He will hear your faintest cry
He's concerned about you.

So while your tears are flowing through
Your time of mourning
He is here to lift your heavy heart
Because He's in love with you.


He knows
He cares
He sees
He's there
He'll carry you
He's concerned about you.

Weeping may endure for a night
But the morning will bring joy
He won't give you more than you can bear
He's concerned about you.

He loves you, oh yes
He loves you
He loves you (I know He does, He really does)
He's concerned about you.


He knows
He cares
He sees
He's there
He'll carry you
He's concerned about you.

He knows and
He cares
He sees
He's right there
He'll carry you.
He's concerned about you
He's concerned about you
He's concerned about you.

(by CeCe Winans)

Ezekiel 36:26-27

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Excuse me while I vent a little ...

If one were wanting to talk about regeneration, would one pick this passage to help explain it? Are these promises for us? Are all promises in the Bible ours to claim? Maybe some would say yes. But let's look at a few more verses in Ezekiel 36, verses 24-25:

For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

Should we claim these promises then, too? Are we going to return to the land of Israel and remove all images and idols from it (cross references - Is 2:18, 20; 43:5-6; Ezek 34:13; 37:21)?

And what about verses 28 through 30?

You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. "Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. "I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.

Has abundant grain, fruit and produce of the field been promised to us as well?

Context is king. We must always look at the context to find who is being addressed and what subject is being talked about. When we look at verse 22, we see that the house of Israel is being addressed. And the subject? The Lord is promising Israel, that though they are scattered and exiled for a time, they will not always be. God promises to gather them again and cause them to walk in His statues.

Don't get me wrong, verses 26-27 do seem to speak about our regeneration. However, it's not what is being spoken of here. So why go to Ezekiel and pull these few verses out of the middle of a passage so obviously not about us in order to talk about what happens to us at our conversion? Wouldn't it be so much better to use passages like these instead?

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:6-8).

But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (Rom 10:8-10).

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation (Gal 6:14-15).

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).


The Book of Job is generally considered to be the oldest book in the Bible. And its main theme is the sovereignty of God. It's almost like God was saying to us right from the start, "Before we begin all this, I want you to know — I'm in charge!" The Book of Job also gives us a vivid illustration of God's protection over His own people in respect to the attacks of Satan.

In this book, Job is represented, not as one who needs to be punished for evil — as Job's three friends thought, and whose error God severely condemns at the end of Job's trial — but as one who God declares to be "blameless" and "upright" (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3). (As Christians, we are also blameless and upright in God's eyes — because we are in Christ. — Rom 8:1; 10:10; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9)

However, Satan has two complaints regarding Job: (a) Job is so completely protected that Satan cannot reach him, and (b) Job does not really love God. Satan declares that God is paying Job a salary to pretend that he loves Him. So putting this challenge to an experimental test, God releases Job to the power of Satan. But until that time, as pointed out by Satan, Job is safe in God's hand. And even before God transfers Job to Satan's hand, He limits what Satan can and cannot do, which Satan can in no way over-step.

So, Job was given the privilege and honor of proving that God is worthy of all adoration, apart from His benefits, and the lie of Satan was completely exposed, to the glory of God.

Satan was not, however, given this kind of physical power over Job indefinitely, because we see at the end of the book that God restores all things and more to Job. And it cannot be assumed that because this happened to Job, God may allow it to happen to us as well. God allowed it to Job because He used Job to make a particular point at a particular time in His revelation to us.

Indeed, God's will was accomplished in every respect — He revealed that He is sovereign and that we are safe in the palm of his hand.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Divine Communication - general revelation

It is truly incredible that infinite God has chosen to communicate to finite men, and yet that is exactly what He's done. Because of this, although God is incomprehensible, He can be truly known, but not fully known. He hasn't told us everything (Deut 29:29), but He has told us everything we need to know. And one way God has chosen to communicate to all mankind is through general revelation.

He has done this through creation:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world (Ps 19:1-4a).

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom 1:18-20)

From looking at creation, we can know that God is powerful, that He is above creation, and that He has a personality — He isn't just an abstract concept. And when Paul says this information is "evident," means that we are capable of knowing it. Therefore, ignorance is willful disregard of God.

Another way God has communicated through general revelation is through man's conscience:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (Rom 2:14-15).

Conscience is the inward sense of right and wrong, and everyone has it to one degree or another. The ability to know right from wrong is part of the image of God in man, but it can be become seared, making it less sensitive. (Reminds me a bit of that line from Finding Nemo — "Are--Are you my conscience?""Y-yeah yeah yeah, I'm your conscience! We haven't spoken for a while! How are you?")

While we do have some knowledge of right and wrong, it is only through the Bible that we can learn about all of God's standards. So the statement "Let your conscience be your guide" is not exactly right. People often don't feel any guilt about their sins because conscience decides on the basis of the standard given it. And if the standard is not God's word, then the standard is wrong, and the behavior will be wrong. Therefore, conscience is an unreliable guide.

The purpose of general revelation is to reveal general truth about God; such as, 1) God exists; 2) God is the creator; and 3) God has established standards of right and wrong that must be obeyed. Therefore, it renders all men inexcusable before God.

General revelation by itself cannot save, however. It doesn't have enough content. It communicates enough truth about God to make a man responsible to seek God for salvation (Heb 11:6), but it does not communicate the gospel message (Rom 10:14).

The following question is frequently brought up: "But what about the native in some remote corner of the world who has never heard the gospel? If he follows the light that he has, acknowledges the God revealed in nature, and sincerely seeks to do what is right, won’t he be saved?" The answer is found in John and Acts:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (Jn 3:16).

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (Jn 14:6).

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

... Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved ... (Acts 16:31)

No one responds to general revelation by being saved. That’s why we need special revelation.

And regarding the so-called remote native: I don't see that the Bible specifically says what happens in such circumstances. But I do know that God always knows what is truly in a man's heart (Ps 44:21; Lk 16:15; Acts 15:8; Rom 8:27; 1 Jn 3:20), and that He is a God of justice AND of mercy.

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy (Rom 9:14-16).

So I must leave this in His hands.