Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sicilian Meatloaf

This next recipe is from the same wonderful cook who gave me my Kringle recipe. If you like a good meatloaf, you'll enjoy this Italian version.

2 beaten eggs
3/4 c bread or cracker crumbs
1/2 c catsup
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp crushed oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 sm clove garlic, minced
1/2 c chopped onion

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb ground Italian sausage

8 thin slices ham
1 8-oz pkg sliced mozzarella cheese, saving aside 3 slices
3/4 c chopped black or green olives

Combine ingredients up to meats and mix well. Add meats. On foil, pat meat into a 12x10" rectangle and layer ham slices, cheese slices and then olives on top. Starting from short end, carefully roll up using foil to lift. Seal edges and ends and place seam side down in 13x9" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Halve remaining 3 cheese slices; after baking, place diagonally on top of loaf and return to oven to melt. Serves 8.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Does God Hear Us?

A man, who had a habit of grumbling at the food his wife placed before him at family meals, would often complain and then ask the blessing.

One day after his usual combination complaint-prayer, his young daughter asked, "Daddy, does God hear us when we pray?"

"Why, of course," he replied. "He hears us every time we pray."

She pauses for a moment, and asked, "Does he hear everything we say the rest of the time?"

"Yes, dear, every word," he replied, encouraged that he had inspired his daughter to be curious about spiritual matters.

However, his pride turned quickly to humility when she asked,

"Then which does God believe?"

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Anvil of God's Word

Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith's door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, and then, with twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."

And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed — the hammers gone.

— Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yay Dayna!!!

The daughter of some good friends of ours at church was recently awarded the position of concertmaster of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. She is now the youngest concertmaster in the country! WooHoo! Way to go, Dayna!!! We are so proud of you!

(Dayna - right - and our daughter - left - at Sr. prom)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why did Jesus die?

Did Jesus die in order to help us live good lives? If so, does He help us 50-50, where we do 50% and He makes up the other 50%, or, 60-40, 70-30, etc...? Or, did He die because we couldn't live good lives, that in ourselves we're incapable of doing anything good? These are important questions because they make a big difference on our focus.

So many Christians are busy and yet barren — they're busy "working" for the Lord but have burned themselves out and lost their joy in the process. With sincere hearts, wanting to please the Lord, they loaded themselves down with endless Christian activities — evangelism, Bible memorization, witnessing, visitation, prayer meetings, and church attendance, etc... — but slowly shifted from responding to the love of Christ to totally seeking the approval of both man and God through performance. Like the foolish Galatians in Gal 1:10 and 3:1-3, they began well by accepting Christ by faith, but now are trying to advance in the Christian life through legalism. What makes us think we can be sanctified by doing good works any more than we can be saved by them?

Frequently we point to verses such as Phil 2:12 that say, " out your own salvation with fear and trembling..." and verse 13 which says, "...for it is God who is at work in you..." and figure it must mean 'we work and He works', or maybe even 'we work all we can first and then He picks up the slack.' Actually though, the "work out" in verse 12 can have the meaning of "be engaged in" or "participate in", but W.E. Vine explains this as meaning "...the present entire experience of deliverance from evil, as the outcome of that which was granted through grace at the beginning of the Christian life. The working out of this means the realization of the power of God to do His will, victory over sin, and the enjoyment of communion with God." And, the "work" that God does in verse 13 has the meaning of "power." Vine goes on to say, "The working out is not our own doing, but God's in-working. This encouragement both to dependence on God and to the holy awe. God's grace and power and our freewill are both in view." Therefore, these verses are clearly saying that God is doing the work, we are simply to be aware of it and allow it (our free will). It's not an obligation, but a realization (maybe even a celebration) of what we are in Him.

And the truth of the matter is, if our focus is on how we're measuring up to the law, on our commitment to the faith, on our good works, and on our zeal to reach others, our focus is...well...on ourselves...which inevitably leads to pride. For whenever we see that we've done anything good, we're so very quick to pat ourselves on the back.

If, on the other hand, our focus is on Him and what He's done for us and continues to do through us, He will mold us into His likeness, He will produce good works in us, and He will work through us to bring others to Himself (Gal 5:16-23).

So where, then, is our focus — on ourselves or on Him (Heb 12:2)?

Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Cor 3:12-16).

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).

Don't go back to being "veiled." Instead, as my good friend Stacie always says, "Keep looking up!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

More word plays - authors

by Trudy Light

by Isadora Jarr

Is It Love?
by Midas Welby

The Singer
by Barry Tone

The Void
by M. T. Ness

The Accused
by Watts E. Dunn

Don't Ask Me
Howard I. Know

The Bouncing Bullet
by Rick O'Shay

I'll Follow
by Hugo First

That Can't Be Right
by Shirley Knot

by Abel Lever

English Breakfast
by Chris P. Bacon and Ann Negg

Urban Areas
by Bill Tupp

Primitive Transport
by Orson Cart

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why the calamity in Haiti was NOT a judgment from God:

  1. There was no clear prophecy to that effect. God does not punish by stealth (Gen 19:12-13; Jonah 1:1-2; Ezek 26:1-15; Lev 26; Zech 7:12).
  2. The righteous were not removed prior to its destruction (Gen 7:1; 18:23-19:25; Ex 8:21-23; Ezek 14:13-14; 2 Pet 2:6-7; 1 Thes 1:10, 5:8-10).
  3. Grace now reigns (2 Cor 9:8-9, 12:9; Rom 5:16-21; Titus 3:5-7).
God did frequently punish cities and nations, especially under the law when physical blessings and punishments were attached to the obedience of it. But we are not under the law, and God has postponed judgment (1 Pet 3:8-9), now showing grace and mercy to all. As Sir Robert Anderson in his book, Silence of God, so well put it

“…The era of the reign of grace is precisely the era of the silence of God. To grace, therefore, we look to explain the silence. Christianity is the supreme and final revelation of the Divine “kindness and love-toward-man.” Therefore when God again declares Himself it can only be in wrath, and wrath must await “the day of wrath.” (Rom 2:5)

“…From the throne of the Divine Majesty there has gone forth the proclamation of pardon and peace, and this without condition or reserve. And now a silent Heaven gives continuing proof that this great amnesty is still in force, and that the guiltiest of men may turn to God and find forgiveness of sins and eternal life.”

A time is coming when God will once again display His wrath (Rom 2:5, 9:22; 1 Thes 1:10; 1 Pet 3:10; Rev 6:16), but because of His infinite patience and mercy, that time has not yet arrived.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Opposing viewpoints

Debate. Two opposing viewpoints, yet both can be supported by Scripture. Can both views be right when they appear to be direct opposites? And can we even know the truth? Or should we write off all such problems as things that can’t be known by man, only by God?

Sometimes I fear that, in order to avoid controversy or further biblical study, we are too quick to pronounce something not knowable or understandable, citing Deut 29:29a to back up our point: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God…” But take a look at the last part of v 29: “… but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” We can’t know the whole mind of God; if we did, we would be His equal. God does have secrets He has revealed to no one, nor could we understand them if He did, and we are not accountable for them. However, we are accountable for all that He has revealed.

Of course this verse was referring to only the very small portion of the OT that the Hebrews had at the time. Today we have the completed canon, and like Israel of old we are accountable for it. We are to study it and make it our goal, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to understand it and view the world around us from its perspective.

Take for instance this question: How should we view the catastrophes that hit Louisiana several years ago and now recently, Haiti? One group of evangelicals has pronounced them to be judgments from God on a sinful city/country; another group says that’s ridiculous, God doesn’t work that way! But both sides quote Scripture to support their views, so how can one side be right and the other, not? Has Scripture even revealed enough information for us to discern why things like this happen today? Or, should the reasons behind such calamities be considered one of the secret things of God?

I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I propose if we look at the verses that each side is quoting as proof text in the light of their immediate contexts as well as in the whole scheme of the Bible, we can determine which side is correct. When doing so, though, we must all start from the same place by remembering that the Bible is a progressive revelation and that it must be interpreted as such. Scripture must also be interpreted literally or plainly, thereby avoiding imposing a completely different meaning on something previously revealed because of subsequent revelation. In other words, later revelation on a subject does not make the earlier revelation mean something different. It may add to it, or even supersede it, but it does not contradict it.

So let’s look at the Scripture each side uses to support its position.

Interestingly, both use Luke 13:1-5: "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." They merely emphasize different parts of it. Those who say these catastrophes are not meant as punishment point to the bolded parts, and those who say they are, to those parts in red. Both truths are there, though. Some combine both truths into one thought as did D. Matthew Brown in his post “On Haiti: Unless You Repent, You Will Likewise Perish”:

“Christ does not say that these calamities were a fluke or that God had no hand in them, but he intimates that these things should be to sinners who still live a call to repentance, for he says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (v. 13:5).

In other words, these calamities were not the result of grosser sin but neither were they simple tragedies. These events were foretastes of the wrath of God that will one Day consume all sinners, therefore, between that Time and this, the people should repent lest they suffer the same fate.”
Perhaps the question should then be raised, “What do these verses mean when they say ‘perish’?” Do they mean perish physically? Or spiritually? Or both? The one side seems to view its meaning as spiritual or spiritual and physical, while the other, physical or physical and spiritual — different emphasis, but only slightly.

Let’s look at some of the other verses quoted by those who hold that these calamities are judgments from God. Invariably, they are plucked from the OT, such as Gen 18-19; Lev 26:3-12; Deut 4:5-10, 5:32-33, 28:2-68, 30:15-20; Nah 2-3; Amos 3:6; Ezek 26; although Heb 12:5-10 is frequently mentioned, too.

And the argument generally goes something like this:

“The truth is that, starting with the famed episode in the Garden of Eden, people ever since Adam and Eve have chosen to live their own way, apart from God's revealed instruction and involvement in their lives. Romans 8:7 says humanity by nature does not want to live by the laws of God.

Sadly, mankind has chosen to abandon the laws of Almighty God that would bring us blessings, prosperity, happiness and protection from natural disasters. So He allows us to suffer the consequences of living our own way and also allows natural disasters to take their toll in human lives and suffering.

God pleads with mankind to reject going the way that seems right to us and instead open His instruction manual, the Holy Bible, and live by His way of life that will result in His blessings.”

Verses quoted by those who believe these natural disasters are NOT direct judgments from God (which I agree with, BTW) usually come from the Book of Job; the account of Joseph being sold into slavery and carried off to Egypt in Gen 37-47, as well as Gen 3-5, Rom 3:23, 6:23, 8:18-23, and 1 Cor 15:20-22; all of which tell us this world has been corrupted by sin but that God is in control.

The thing is, these verses do explain that because of the fall of man, bad things happen to good people. They do not, however, answer the question of whether or not cities/countries may still experience the judgment of God today like Israel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, and Tyre, etc... did in the OT. Because the truth of the matter is, God did "work that way" in times past. If, in fact, He isn't still doing so today, we must explain why He isn't. And I believe we can do that by looking at the progression of Scripture.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Repetition of prayers

I wonder why so many sincere believers repeat over and over again prayers that have been prepared for them to recite? Undoubtedly the greatest number of all make it a practice to recite The Lord’s Prayer. I think they must have overlooked that He said, "Pray, then, in this way:" (Matt 6:9). But not only that, the verses right before this prayer specifically say: And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him (Matt 6:7-8).

The reason for this seems obvious; there is no one prayer that fits every occasion.

Moreover, The Lord’s Prayer did fit perfectly into the circumstances then, but imperfectly fits ours today. One of the reasons is, at the close of His earthly ministry our Lord gave His disciples further instruction about prayer.

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf (Jn 16:24-26).

After the Lord’s ascension into heaven the disciples were to make their requests to the Father in Christ's name. This in itself would have excluded their (and our) reciting The Lord's Prayer. Yet both Protestants and Catholics still make much of repeating it, saying it in unison in sickness and death, in drought and storm, in peace and war, etc... with almost no regard to its contents.

What a difference there is between praying and "saying prayers."