Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Molasses Sugar Cookies

You know those cookbooks you get as gifts as a child; the easy-to-follow cookbooks made especially for kids? Well that's where this next recipe came from. I don't remember if it was from my cookbook or my sister's, but this cookie recipe has been a family favorite for years. I remember making and eating them as a kid and they still manage to show up at most family get-togethers today. In our house, our youngest daughter frequently makes them, and let me tell you she's a whiz at it — they always turn out soft and chewy.

3/4 c shortening
1 c sugar (plus 1/2 c set aside)
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

Beat 1 c sugar, the molasses and egg into shortening. Sift together dry ingredients and add to the molasses mixture, mixing well. Form into 1 inch balls, roll in 1/2 c sugar that was set aside, and place on greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Macaroni and cheese with Andouille (a rascal?)

Fall was in the air last week; strange for June. But no matter, cool days always bring to mind my favorite childhood comfort foods. So naturally when it came time to think about making dinner, I dug through my recipe box looking for my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. It was then that I remembered a potluck get-together we went to this past winter to which my good friend Karen (see her wonderful new blog here) brought an amazing macaroni and cheese dish with some kind of sausage in it. I just couldn't remember what it was. But after a few phone calls, I had the name of the mystery meat — Andouille. A funny name; and French, too. No wonder I couldn't remember it. Apparently, the word 'andouille' is also an insult in French, designating a ridiculous or incompetent person, or a rascal. What that has to do with sausage, I have no idea.

8 oz any kind of pasta noodles
1/4 c butter
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 c)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c flour
1 3/4 c milk
8 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 links Andouille sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
2 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Cook and stir butter, onion, salt and pepper over medium heat until onion is slightly tender. Blend in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted.

Place pasta in ungreased 1 1/2-quart casserole. Stir cheese sauce and sausage into pasta; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serves 5.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More word plays - authors

by Warren Peace

The Commuter
by Jocelyn Train

Rocks Ahead
by Vera Way

At The Eleventh Hour
by Justin Time

Down South
by Louise Yanner

by I. C. Hugh

Spoil The Child
by Molly Coddle

The Tightrope Walker
by Betty Falls

Make 'em Laugh
by Joe King

by Belle Ringer

Take Stock
by Russell Steers

Will He Or Won't He?
by Mae B. Sew

Triumphal Procession
by Victor E. March

Is It Love?
by Midas Wellbee

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rest fully assured in Him

How much faith does it take to be saved? Some people think they don’t have enough faith to be saved. Others, who have placed their faith in Christ, doubt their salvation because they fear their faith is too weak. But the answer to this question is that we are saved, not by the strength of our faith, but by the strength of our Savior.

A few Sunday mornings ago, my pastor told a great story about three people on an airplane that illustrates this point very well.

“In the seat by the aisle is a businessman who flies all the time. In the seat in the middle is a student flying on her own for the first time. In the seat by the window is an old lady who has never flown before, and is already vowing that she will never fly again.

As the plane taxis to the runway, the businessman takes out his paper, the student in the middle is slightly on edge, and the old lady is holding onto the seat white-knuckled with fear.

When the lunch is served, the businessman eats the lot, the student eats about half, and the old lady can’t watch. She has her nose in the barf bag. Here’s the amazing thing: All three of them arrive in exactly the same place at precisely the same time, though their flights were enjoyed (or not enjoyed) in varying degrees.

Why? It’s not your degree of confidence, but the trustworthiness of the plane that will get you there.”

In like manner, our arrival in heaven does not depend on the degree of confidence we have in Christ, but on the Christ in whom we have placed our faith. Therefore, if we are in Christ, our destination is secure. Weak faith will get us there just as surely as strong faith, because it is Christ who saves us, not our faith.

Conversely, many people think it's inappropriate and even presumptuous to confidently claim they're saved because everybody still sins. (But didn’t Christ die for sinners?) If you ask these same people if they believe their works or sinlessness saved them in the first place, however, most would emphatically say, "No!" Yet somewhere along the line they were taught to intertwine the salvation message with works. You hear it all the time: "You can't have the one without the other!" Or, "If you don't persevere, then you were never saved in the first place!" It seems the focus is on the believer — it is the believer who perseveres — instead of on Christ. And even though they say it is God's power that is causing them to persevere, the center of attention is still on the believer. But, how many works does it take to prove you're a believer or sins to prove that you're not? There can be very little assurance of salvation if our focus is on us and what we do — because we all still sin. In fact, many who hold to this doctrine have concluded that only those who are presently persevering can be assured of eternal life at that moment, and that those who confidently claim they're saved at all times, are just being presumptuous.

Now it may well be that some are not truly saved — if their lives show absolutely no evidence of faith. But even then, who are we to judge? Only God knows their hearts. Look at it another way, aren't unbelievers able to be kind to their neighbors, be gentle, use self-control, etc. just like believers can? Yet we wouldn't want to assure them of salvation simply because they're demonstrating something that mimics the fruit of the Spirit. When we judge by what we see, we can never be sure we're seeing the whole story. And the truth is, those who have placed their faith in Christ and yet have grown very little over their lifetimes, are just as securely saved as those who are spiritual giants. This does not, of course, give us an excuse to remain mere babes (2 Cor 8:7, 10:15; 1 Thes 3:2; 2 Thes 1:3; Col 2:6-19; Eph 4:1-6; Phil 3:12-21; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18) or to willfully sin (Rom 6). Let's not forget who we are in Christ (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:26; Eph 1:3, 2:10). Be yourself!

Thankfully, salvation does not rest on the strength of our faith (Rom 12:3, 14:1; 1 Cor 2:5), on our works (Gal 3:1-3), or on how little we sin (Rom 7:14-8:4). It never was, nor does it ever become, what we do. Rather, salvation always rests fully on what He did (Jn 3:16, 5:24, 6:47)!

My pastor puts this so well -

“If salvation rested on what you do for God — your praying, your serving, etc. — then assurance would be nothing but pride and presumption.

Salvation does not rest on our work but on Christ’s, not on our righteousness, but His righteousness made ours through His finished work on the cross. Far from exalting ourselves, Christian assurance exalts Christ because it is confidence, not in what we have done for Him, but in what He has done for us.”

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy full confidence and assurance that you are eternally saved, instead of being miserable and worrying all the time like the old lady on the plane? Scripture is full of this wonderful assurance (e. g., 2 Cor 5:6; Rom 8:1, 38-39; 2 Tim 1:12). Take Him at His Word! Assurance of salvation and eternal life is possible; it only wanes when we take our focus off God, His promise of eternal life, and the finished work of Christ.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Jesus, You're Beautiful To Me

Jesus, bright as the morning star
Jesus, how can I tell You
How beautiful You are to me
Jesus, song that the angels sing
Jesus, dearer to my heart than anything

Sweeter than spring time
Purer than sunshine
Ever my song will be
Jesus, You're beautiful to me

Jesus, bright as the morning star
Jesus, how can I tell You
How beautiful You are to me
Jesus, song that the angels sing
Jesus, dearer to my heart than anything

Sweeter than spring time
Purer than sunshine
Ever my song will be
Jesus, You're beautiful to me

Oh Lord You are so beautiful
Jesus, You're beautiful to me

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Jesus, You're beautiful to me
Wonderful, Heavenly, beautiful
Jesus, You're beautiful to me

Sweeter than spring time
Purer than sunshine
Ever my song will be
Jesus, You're beautiful to me

By CeCe Winans

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Can every promise given in Scripture be directly applied to us today? For example, Israel was told:

But be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you (Deut 9:3).

Has God promised us the same thing regarding our enemies? Has He even promised us a land?

Or how about this promise made to King Zedekiah?

'Yet hear the promise of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the LORD says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully (Jer 34:4-5).

Can we claim this promise for ourselves? Most would say, “Of course not! All these verses were given to a specific person or people under specific circumstances; and besides, they were plucked out of the middle of the OT.”

Well then let’s look in the NT. What about this promise?

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you (Lk 10:19).

Or this one?

And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained” (Jn 20:22-23).

Have we been given the power to tread on serpents unharmed or to discern and declare whose sins are forgiven?

There’s an old saying about being careful when reading other people’s mail. If a father writes a letter to his son promising him his pocket-watch when he dies, his daughter can’t read that same letter and claim the promise of the pocket-watch for herself. She can learn things about her father by reading the letter, and even apply general family-related things to herself, but she can’t directly apply things that were meant exclusively for her brother. In the same way, we must be careful to interpret Scripture within its context and ask ourselves: To whom was it written? What were the circumstances? What specific things can I directly apply to myself? What general principles can I apply? And, have things changed since then? (Watch for the progression of Scripture!)

Keeping all this in mind, what about the following promises regarding prayer? How are we to view these verses? Are we to claim them as direct promises to us today?

If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven (Matt 18:19).

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mk 11:23-26).
I will do whatever you ask in my name…You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (Jn 14:13-14).

The Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (Jn 15:16).

I tell you the truth, My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (Jn 16:23).

Notice that all these verses are from the gospels, which tells us several things right off the bat. First of all, Christ had not yet died and rose again throughout most of what takes place in them; second, people then were still under the law; third, miracles were being performed by Jesus Christ, but also by his disciples (Mk 6:7-13).

Additionally, these accounts all speak of the same promise. And to whom was this promise given? In every case it was given to the 12 apostles (see Matt 18:20 post here). But can every word addressed to the apostles be intended to apply to all believers at all times? For example, look at John 14:12. Is every believer to be endowed with miraculous powers equal to or greater than those performed by Jesus Christ Himself? We are quick to say, “Of course not.” So should we then suppose that the verses that immediately follow are for universal application?

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (John 14:11-14).

It seems obvious that in all these verses Jesus was giving special powers to the 12 apostles to perform miracles at that time. And in fact we do see the apostles performing extraordinary miracles in His name, especially in the beginning of Acts after Christ's ascension.

Though no one may dare limit what God will do for the believer today, we need to realize that in this time of grace we live by faith, not by sight, and that ours is a higher privilege as those “who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).” If everything we asked for in His name was given to us, faith would sink to a lower level, and the whole standard and character of the believer's walk would be altered. In fact, when we look at Paul’s life, we see that the sufferings toward the end of his life show a higher faith than the miracles of his earlier ministry.

Moreover, many of Paul’s letters contain accounts of unanswered prayers. One time he pleaded three times with the Lord to fix his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-8), but did God say to him, “I will do whatever you ask in my name?” Not at all. The Lord told him that His grace would be enough for him. And, “…My strength is made perfect in weakness...” (2 Cor. 12:9). We always want God to fix our problems, but He wants to show us the sufficiency of His grace and His power working in our lives.

But wait, what about James 5:14-15?

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.

Because James is a rather difficult book (in fact, Luther referred to it as an "epistle of straw") and because this blog post is already quite long, I think I will tackle James 5:14-15 separately sometime in the future.