Jesus

Amen Jesus.

My pastor posted this video on Facebook recently. I loved it. Looooooved it and cried.

And Sighed.

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The “contending for the faith” crowd raised their eyebrows:

  • His wording is off.
  • He didn’t actually claim Jesus as his Savior.
  • Let’s wait and see if this is real.
  • etc.

Wait and see if this is real and then what? Accept him as a brother? As if our acceptance of him matters.

I get it.  I guess. The disciples were leery of Paul at first.  Accepted him cautiously to make sure his conversion wasn’t a trick.  After all, just days earlier he had been killing Christians.

And you know how Hollywood is…

Sigh. We contenders complain that Hollywood oppresses Christianity and then, when one of “them” gets on board with what Christ is doing, we shoo him away.

And so it went: The contenders raised their eyebrows at Jim Carrey and then the “enlightened” raised their eyebrows at the contenders.

Sigh. We enlightened self-righteously shudder at the self-righteousness of the contenders.

And then someone wrote this:

What I don’t like about these conversations is the us vs them, “We good! Christians vs those “repressive Christians” positions that these set up. It often reads like nothing other than an alternative self-righteous orthodoxy. It is heartbreaking to watch factions of the church bite and devour itself, as if one side is more righteous in their newly found warm and fuzzy Jesus than the “judgmental”, “mean-spirited” side. And it all comes from the flesh. When you can embrace the fact that you are no more right or righteous in your view of God than your more “traditional” brother, who is also doing the best that he or she can, and embrace them and love them instead of sowing division then maybe there is something to say. And even then, humility may dictate to simply keep your mouth shut. If you love, you have no agenda to shove down someone else’s throat. If you love you have no “position” to co-opt from someones comments. If you love, you have no stake in the religious/political/justice causes pronounced by your favorite pastor or famous person in an interview or video. (Rant over). – Matt Mirabile

When you can embrace the fact that you are no more right or righteous in your view of God than your more “traditional” brother, who is also doing the best that he or she can, and embrace them and love them instead of sowing division then maybe there is something to say.

Amen.  (I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but just stop and ponder all that is wrong with assuming your brother or sister’s position is “mean-spirited.”)

The pendulum always swings to the extremes before it rests in the middle.

When I became a Christian in the 80’s, judgment was in. Amy Grant sang Fat Baby and none of us dared be one.

Now that warm and fuzzy is the fad, anyone who is not is bad.

Lord have mercy.

My Christian thinking has been influenced by both camps, but I won’t pitch a tent in either one. I prefer the solitude of the cross to the fellowship of a fad.

The cross with its vertical holiness and its horizontal compassion.

I’ll live in the small lonely space where the two intersect.

“And even then, humility may dictate to simply keep your mouth shut. If you love, you have no agenda to shove down someone else’s throat. If you love you have no “position” to co-opt from someones comments. If you love, you have no stake in the religious/political/justice causes pronounced by your favorite pastor or famous person in an interview or video.”

Let’s not be lemmings.

Let’s just recognize God in the things people – regardless of who they are – do and say and then applaud Him.

With our tears flowing and our mouths shut.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”    Mark 9:38-40

Amen Jesus.

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Food

Date Sugar

It’s not the little smooch you get at the end of a night out.

It’s what I used in yesterday’s beans recipe.

The advantages of using date sugar over brown sugar when baking beans are several:

  1. It’s better for you (fiber and minerals) than brown sugar.
  2. It’s not as sweet as brown sugar.
  3. Most importantly the fiber in the finely ground dried dates plump when they absorb liquid which creates a thicker sauce.

With date sugar you won’t have soupy beans.

Just FYI.

And remember, the root word of incredible is edible.

 

 

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Food

Beans

My sister’s husband is a talented architect.

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The inside of their house – which he designed – is very cool.

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The outside is lovely, too.

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It was the perfect setting in which to celebrate my mom’s 87th birthday.

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The garage.

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The architect and his dog, Lily.

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Life feels special when there is beauty all around.

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“Let me get a picture of the bi-racial couple,” I said. “Every family needs one.”

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As usual with my family, the food was really good. Those are my beans on the right.

The architect liked them so my sister asked me to jot down the recipe.

As long as I’m jotting it for her, I’ll jot it for you, too:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Get out a big 14 inch cast iron skillet* and start warming it on medium low.

Open a package of bacon. I used this:

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Use whatever thick cut bacon you have.

If you use what I used there will be 10 slices. You’ll only need 8 slices for the recipe, but cook them all.

You’ll understand why once they start to sizzle.

Cut them in half with your kitchen scissors and then cut them in half again.

Place 20 of the pieces in one layer in the skillet.

When the fat is pretty well rendered but the bacon is not too crispy, remove them from the skillet and put them on a paper towel lined plate.

Don’t bother draining the pan, just put the remaining 20 pieces right into the hot grease.  When the fat is pretty well rendered, remove 12 pieces from the skillet and add them to the paper towel lined plate.

Leave the other 8 pieces in the skillet until they are as crisp as you like them.

While the bacon is slowly rendering, dice a medium onion and half a green pepper.

Remove the 8 crispy morsels from the pan and pour the bacon grease into a jar.

Now put 2 or 3 tablespoons of it back into the pan.

Saute the diced onion and green pepper in the bacon fat in the skillet until soft, about 5 minutes.

Use those 5 minutes to whisk together 3/4 cup bbq sauce**, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1.5 Tbsp. dijon mustard and 1/2 cup date sugar.  (It’s just ground up dates.)

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Open 3 (28 oz.) cans of plain old pork and beans.

Pop a piece of crispy bacon into your mouth.

Empty 2 of the cans into the skillet and stir.

Add the bbq sauce mixture and stir.

If it looks like your pan might overflow, drain the liquid from the remaining can of beans before dumping them in.

Stir. Carefully because your skillet will be full to the brim.

Bring mixture to a simmer.

Now arrange the 32 pieces of bacon – you should have eaten the other 8 by now – on top.

CAREFULLY, so you don’t slop any on your oven door, put the skillet in the oven.

Wipe that little bit of slop off your oven door. (I used six 15 oz. cans so my pan was full to the absolute top.)  That’s why I’m recommending you use three 28 oz. cans.

Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours.

*If you don’t have a 14 inch skillet, use whatever size you have to cook the bacon and saute the veg. Add as many of the beans as will fit and bring to a simmer, then mix in everything else in a big bowl and transfer into a greased 13x9x2 pan.

Or cut the recipe in half. We have a big family.

When the beans come out of the oven finish them with a drizzle of reduced Maple balsamic vinegar, if you have some and IF you remember to do it, which I didn’t in my haste to get the beans to the party.

Serves about 18.

Mom’s Birthday Beans

8 thick slices of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 a green pepper, diced
3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans (I used Van Camps)
3/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used Simple Truth Organic Original)
1/2 cup date sugar (Now Foods)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1.5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
reduced Maple balsamic vinegar (optional) (I would have used Fustini’s had I remembered.)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Fry bacon in a 14 inch cast-iron skillet.
Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.
Add onions and peppers to drippings and sauté about 5 minutes.
Stir in beans and whisked together sauce and bring to a simmer.
Top with bacon
Bake 1.5 to 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

**Tip: If, in making this recipe, you use the last of your bbq sauce, put the empty bottle on your kitchen scale, pour the 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of apple cider vinegar directly into the bottle, put the lid on and shake. Now add the vinegar to the sauce ingredients.  That way you don’t waste anything.

#savoringsummer

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Light

A Nugget for Your Noggin.

I’ve excavated some old Biblical logic in hopes that you will bury it in your brain:

I was reading my Bible Study Fellowship notes while savoring a hot cup of my good friend joe (with cream). The topic was John’s vision of the throne room and everything was clipping along just fine.

“The Bible speaks of other believers who received visions of God’s transcendent nature and character,” a new paragraph began, and it mentioned Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.

Good, good, good and good.

And then:

“The apostle Paul was ‘caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’”

Whoa! What?

When was Paul “caught up to paradise”? I checked the footnote to see what Scripture they based that statement upon.

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.  Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  2 Corinthians 12:1-7

How does Paul saying he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven translate to HIM being caught up to paradise?

I was too comfy and too lazy to get out from under the cozy afghan on my cozy sofa to brave the 22 chilly steps (44 round trip) to my library to grab The Bible Knowledge Commentary, so I stayed put and checked an online commentary.

Matthew Henry: “for doubtless [Paul] himself is the man in Christ of whom he speaks.”

Doubtless? I’m in doubt.

Mr. Henry proceeded to commend Paul for his humility in not referring to himself directly. Paul’s humility? Since when? In that very same chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote:

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!   2 Corinthians 12:11-13

Paul’s defensive and accusatory remarks don’t sound like the model of humility to me.

Even his self-deprecating remarks come off as humble brags. Take this one, for example:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Philippians 3:3-6

And then there are all the I, I, I’s of 1 Timothy 2: I urge, I was appointed, I am telling the truth, I am not lying, I want, I also want, I do not permit.

John often referred to himself indirectly as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and it was well within his personality to do so, he did so consistently and there are verifiable incidents that tie that descriptor to him.

But indirectly and humbly referring to himself in the third person was NOT within Paul’s personality and no where else was it his m.o.

So let’s get logical: In the context of 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 – where Paul is arguing that he is equal to the apostles who actually walked with Jesus – a humble, indirect statement just doesn’t make sense.  If ever there is a time to speak boldly and directly it is when arguing a case or asserting one’s credentials.

Perhaps it was due to Matthew Henry’s impressive and exhaustive work that this doubtful interpretation has been promulgated in commentaries ever since. Even by my beloved BSF – who taught me to read the Scriptures for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When I read, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven,” for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  I hear Paul saying that he knew someone who had been given a vision. And that person may have shared it with him. Or that person may have told him he couldn’t share it with him.

And I wonder whether that person was John, because John and Paul may have very likely crossed paths in Ephesus.

Or perhaps it was someone else altogether.

All I know for sure is that Paul DID NOT say that HE was “caught up to paradise.”

So why does the church twist Scripture and logic and temporarily change Paul’s personality in order to say he did?

Perhaps, when it comes to the church’s love affair with Paul, the lover is blind to its beloved’s blemishes.

#buryitinyourbrain

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life

Rookies

Remember Remember the Titans? I love that movie.

Remember when Coach Boone said, “You’re overcooking my grits?”  Cracked me up. Being a northerner, I had never heard that expression.

But now I utter it sometimes.

Like I did on Saturday evening when the hub and I went to the lake for a little after dinner fishing/reading.

Sitting in his SUV waiting for our turn to launch we witnessed all manner of buffoonery.

There was the guy who had his jet ski tied to the dock while he was off doing who knows what.

When he finally returned it took him forever to load it onto his trailer.

After he finally pulled it out of the water he stopped broadside across 3 of the four launching lanes to do who knows what.

Are you kidding me!?

I got out of the truck.

“Excuse me, the tie down is ahead.”

Blank stare.

“You can’t block the launch lanes. You have to pull up and tie down there.”

Two docks were taken up an awfully long time by guys who don’t know how to load a boat unto a trailer.

One guy finally got his boat out and then stopped broadside across three lanes.

I got out of the truck.

“Sir,” I tried to say nicely, recognizing that he was probably stressed by now, “the tie down is ahead.”

Blank stare.

“You have to pull ahead to tie down so you don’t block the launch lanes.”

Blank stare.

The guy in the truck pulled ahead the WRONG WAY while his buddy followed on foot behind him.

“Sir! You’re going the wrong way. Look at the arrows on the pavement.”

Like I said, buffoonery.

The guy at the other dock left his boat and returned with a battery.

That’s when I said it.

“He’s going to tie up a dock while he does boat repairs? He’s overcooking my grits.”

“Why doesn’t he beach his boat to change the battery?,” I asked, kinda’ LOUDLY, with the window rolled down, hoping he’d hear me.

Once a lane finally opened up the hub, a seasoned professional, had his boat launched in less than 2 minutes.  I pulled ahead and parked the trailer while he beached the boat and waited for me.  He’s a good boating citizen.

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As we pulled away from the docks I remarked, “The downside of the upswing in the economy is that the launch is now flooded with first-time boat owners.”

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“So you should retire and hang out at the boat launch all day.  You could make a boatload of money launching newbies in the morning and pulling them out in the evening.  You could fish in between.”

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He liked that idea.

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Who can stay annoyed when the late evening sun is glistening?

“Or at least teach them basic boat launching techniques and etiquette.”

“The problem,” he said, “is they tie the boat to the dock and then try to back the trailer in under it.  And it doesn’t work well that way.”

Did you hear that rookies?

  1. Beach your boat next to the launch (proper etiquette so others can launch while you go get your trailer).
  2. Back your trailer into the water.
  3. Drive your boat up onto the trailer (this technique makes it so much easier and quicker to get your boat on straight.
  4. Now pull your boat the rest of the way forward with the winch.
  5. Get in your truck, drive it out of the water PAST THE LAUNCHING LANES, to the designated tie down area.

Before I have to get out of my truck.

Deep breath.

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The hub had fishing to do.

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While I was serenaded by the bells of St. Mary’s Seminary (see it behind the trees?)

Please, for the love of God and my grits, float this sage advice to the boaters and jet-skiers in your life.

Especially if they live around here.

 

 

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family, Food

Plymouth

The old Wilcox house was built in 1903 by William Markham, inventor of the BB Gun and co-founder of the Daisy Air Rifle Company.

In 1911, George and Harriet Wilcox purchased the Victorian house, which sits proudly and elegantly downtown, right across from Kellogg Park.

Somewhere along the way it was converted into four separate apartments – two upper and two lower. If I remember correctly.

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My dad moved into the apartment in the front, street level, after he and my mom divorced.

It suited him because he was elegant, too.

The furnishings were simple – bought on a newly divorced budget – but pleasingly graceful and stylish.

I loved visiting him there. I loved sitting on a bench in the park across the street discussing philosophy and the deep things of life, the giant fountain bubbling next to us.

We both liked to walk, and it was on one of those walking days that I had my first caper.

We left his apartment and paused on the porch while he locked his door.

“I didn’t used to lock my door,” he said, “until I came home one afternoon and found a stoned and scruffy young man sleeping on my sofa.”

It happened during one of the town’s annual events – the Fall Festival or Art in the Park.

Door locked we headed out into the beautiful morning. We walked all through town and around town and landed at a Steak and Seafood Restaurant in time for a late lunch.

It was the first fancy restaurant I had been to with my dad. Just the two of us. I felt grown up.

He was having the Whitefish so I ordered it too.

Whitefish with a white wine and caper sauce.

“Watch out for all the little pin bones,” He warned.

It was my first whitefish and my first taste of capers.

And it was delicious.

I always think about that apartment, that porch, that story of the young man sleeping on my dad’s sofa and that special meal whenever I open a jar of those little pickled flower buds to make a sauce of my own.

 

 

 

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