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Archive for December, 2010

scandalous, p.103

Do you not understand that we overcome the accuser on the ground of the blood of Christ? Nothing more, nothing less. That is how we win. It is the only way we win. This is the only ground of our acceptance before God. That is why we can never get very far from the cross without distorting something fundamental, not only in doctrine but in elementary discipleship, faithful perseverance, obedience, and spiritual warfare against the enemy of our souls. If you drift far from the cross, you are done. You are defeated. We overcome the accuser of brothers and sisters, we overcome our consciences, we overcome our bad tempers, we overcome our defeats, we overcome our lusts, we overcome our fears, we overcome our pettiness on the basis of the blood of the Lamb. We dare to approach a holy god praying in Jesus’ name, appealing to the blood of the Lamb.

DA Carson

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Confession, so they say, is good for the soul, and I must come clean.

I am not a fan of Glenn Beck. Something has always seemed a bit off to me. Don’t know why. A few years ago when I had opportunity, I listened to him for a while to try to figure out what it was. I came to a conclusion about what bothered me, but don’t remember what it was. I ignore the Mormonism stuff, so that’s not it. I agree with the majority of the political and cultural stuff I hear him say.  But something doesn’t ring true with me, so I don’t listen to him a lot. Thus endeth confession #1.

I was somewhat startled to find out a while ago that Beck doesn’t like Teddy Roosevelt. “What?!” said I. “Surely not.” After a wee bit o’ research, surely so.

Confession #2: I highly respect Teddy Roosevelt. Contrary to JFK’s thoughts about Thomas Jefferson, TR was likely the most brilliant and accomplished Chief Executive to steward the White House. He was a great man, a Christian worth emulating, a faithful, loving husband, and an excellent father.  TR was a man of immense integrity.

He was a man of his time and for his time. Beck accuses him of being a “Progressive,” making the typical yet horrific mistake of reading contemporary thinking/perspectives into the past. Beck sees socialism in the overreactions to TR’s achievements and thoughts. (sigh) Every good idea can be perverted by taking it to extremes. Even Paul had to write Romans 6 to combat an overreaction to a key point of God’s gospel. We don’t need to run around blaming God for idiocy on man’s part. And arguing from greater to (much) lesser, Beck sure doesn’t need to blame TR for the idiocy exhibited by Wilson and Obama, among others.

Anyway, now that I have that off my chest I feel much better. As my daughters would say, “X Beck. Circle Teddy Roosevelt.” I suspect, however, that TR would not pay much attention to the likes of Beck. After all, Roosevelt faced critics in his time and provided his thoughts about them:

Remember, it is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

George Grant posted eleven things he has learned from TR, and they are well worth reading. If you haven’t read Grant’s book about TR, I would highly recommend it.

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Holiday visits to family allow for a lot of extra read-time since the kidlets are playing with cousins, and they stay up a good bit later-and therefore sleep later-than normal. Plus, Jill’s parents don’t have a computer, let alone the internet, and the kids are playing Wii or watching Toy Story 3 for the seventeenth time.

So here are the books I have been able to read in the past week:

DA Carson

Orlando Saer

Tony Dungy w/Nathan Whitaker

David Eddings

Greg Lucas

Pat Kirwan

These are in no particular order of importance or recommendation. I may blog about some of them in coming days.

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  • why do I need to be stretched in order for God to prove Himself and His promises to me…again?
  • why is it necessary for life to get so uncomfortable for God to answer prayer and prove His promises are reliable?
  • why is my vision so limited and selfish that I overlook and take for granted the multitude of promises fulfilled every day?
  • why do I feel so distorted while I am actually being stretched and changed into the image of Christ, being made into what I was intended to be?
  • how disconcerting it is to conclude from the Bible that I am so used to these distortions that I think they are the way things really are.
  • it is amazing to consider that one day God will do away with the imperfections and all will be as it should be.
  • I wonder how long it will take to get comfortable with that.

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north! or be eaten

This fall Andrew Peterson came out with the second in his “Wingfeather Saga”, North! or Be Eaten. In this book, he picks up the story begun in On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and continues the adventures of Janner, Tink, and Leeli, along with their family.

I wasn’t especially thrilled with some aspects of the first book (read my review here), but North lessens the irritations considerably. It is a little clunky in spots, with some of the plot twists being a bit herky-jerky.

Peterson divides the company of travelers and traces two and then three and then four different plot threads before weaving them back together at the end. This was where some of the clunkiness came in, but all in all he was pretty effective with this rather difficult maneuver. Peterson is growing rapidly as a writer…in my never-to-be-humble opinion.

North is a rip-roaring good tale and it is fast-paced! Once the reader gets past the halfway point, it will be very difficult to put it down. Parents, your son will likely be reading this at the dinner table!

I liked the development of the theme of the Throne Warden. It continues to provide discussion opportunities for parents and children. Interesting theme introduced of abandoning responsibility which will necessarily be played out in the next book as well. I would have liked to see a tighter biblical theme of evil developed. I’m not sure what needs to be done, but something seems a bit lacking to me. Something along the lines of those who are oppressed by evil also choose it and embrace it. It’s hinted at here and there. I dunno maybe I’m reaching too far.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book and I am very much looking forward to the next in the series.

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no greater love

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.        John 15.13

This verse has faintly puzzled me for a long time. When I read it, my thoughts tend to compare it to Romans 5.7-8 “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— [8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Surely the greater love is to die for one’s enemies, is it not? Or is it?

Think of the context in which Christ is making this comment. He is with His disciples in the upper room just hours before He will be arrested after being abandoned by these very men.

It is one thing to sacrifice for those you know will hurt and reject you. But is it not, perhaps, the greatest expression of love to continue to love and give and sacrifice and honor and favor those who betray and ignore and hurt and rebel and sneer at that love?

Is that not exactly what I do?

I am one of His disciples. And that is a damning statement.

On the one hand I embrace His love and grab all He gives me, and in the next moment I demand more, spurn His grace, think only of myself, sin against the very love that forgives me. “perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die” – there are no good persons, even among the redeemed. Our goodness is gifted, and it is so uncomfortable for us that we cannot wear it for long before removing it and returning to our filthy rags.

His love is an alien love. It is so far outside our comprehension that it looks bizarre to us. Consider a wife whose husband is continually cheating on her. What is our reaction if she stays in that marriage? What are some of our first thoughts? “I’d kill him!” “She oughta…” “If I were her, I’d…”

Could it be possible that she is showing a strength, a greater love, emulating our Lord, rather than showing weakness?

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,       Col 2.13

He forgave me all my trespasses. It was not a general, sweeping, see-them-all-in-a-messy-pile forgiveness. He saw and knew and forgave each trespass, knowing Every. One. Of. Them. He forgave and He still forgives after making me His friend. Some friend.

Some Friend.

Well, I don’t want to push this too far. The Bible is not so much competing loves one against the other. It is rather showing all the facets of love. Of His love.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, [5] to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Gal 4.4-5

God in love sent His Son. Christ in love died. And in love God forgave. And forgives. And forgives. And forgives.

Merry Christmas.

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Italian Wedding Soup with Grilled Cheese and Bacon on Sourdough

I made Italian Wedding Soup a couple months ago for a church lunch, and it turned out to be so good that we decided to have this for our Christmas dinner on Wednesday. From the online research I did, IWS seems to be an empty-the-cupboard soup with only four common ingredients – chicken stock, meatballs, leafy greens, and Parm cheese.

So here is my version of IWS this time around:

ingredients

  • 7-8 Cups homemade stock* (about half of it was a vegetable stock and the other half was chicken stock. The first batch a few months ago was made with turkey stock and it was outstanding.)
  • 1 medium onion, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced on bias
  • 1 bag of frozen meatballs. One of these days I’ll make my own, but the store-bought stuff is fine (especially the Italian meatballs) and a lot quicker. I usually cut these at least in half so the kids don’t wrestle with them while they are swimming in broth.
  • 1 Cup orzo
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach (probably about 8 oz-the rest of the bag is back in the freezer and I don’t want to get up and look at it to see the exact size. sorry)

directions

  1. Soften the onions in a splash of olive oil, then add garlic. Deglaze with some white wine.
  2. Add frozen meatballs and stock. Simmer at least till meatballs are heated (duh). You can let this simmer for several hours without any problems.
  3. About 15 minutes before dinner, add the orzo and turn heat to medium. After 8 minutes add the spinach and wait a few minutes till spinach is warmed through (duh).
  4. Add salt to taste.
  5. I forgot the Parm Cheese this time. Add this at the end. If you have a rind from the real cheese you can add this to the soup as it simmers. With our budget we use the green can stuff.

I like my soups really thick. A lot of IWS’s are more brothy. Needless to say, you can adjust things as you would like.

*if you have an extra freezer get in the habit of making your own stock. It is ridiculously easy to make, you can control the ingredients (ie. salt), and the store-bought stuff is ridiculously expensive.

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