Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is It Arrogant?

One of my dear friends (who is now Eastern Orthodox) would tell me that we are to humble ourselves and listen to the Church Fathers. He would say that it's sassy and disrespectful to think that they may have made occasional errors or that we (18 centuries later) might see something in a better way than they.

Many years later, I'm still wondering about that.

In Psalm 119 (:97-104) the psalmist says he understands more than the ancients,he has more understanding than all his teachers, because he meditates on the Lord's testimonies. I'm wondering if/how that fits in with my friend's comment about submitting to the Church Fathers.

Adam & Eve's children knew that the Seed of the Woman would crush the head of the serpent. Adam walked with God and talked with Him. And yet, through the centuries, God revealed more and more. The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. And later, the Messiah would come from the line of David. And later, the Messiah would be born of a virgin. And many years later, the Holy Spirit --through the prophets-- reveals that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. As the prophets meditated upon God's word, preached God's word, wrestled with God's word, the Holy Spirit showed them more details. Does this mean that Habakkuk and Jeremiah were lacking in respect for Adam and Noah?

You know in your own life how you take more care with situations when once you have encountered a problem. Me -- I don't like kids to slam doors. I "knew" that door-slamming was bad, but I became vehement about it after my baby's finger was nearly severed in a slammed door. I am more diligent about washing the undercarriage of my vehicles during salt season winter after we lost a reliable car to huge amounts of rust [at 220,000 miles]. It's not a bad thing to face problems and cope with them and try to prevent those problems from coming back to cause harm another day.

The Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost. The apostles knew Jesus' teaching; they were close to Him; they are the authority upon whose word the Church is founded. The church fathers knew the apostles' teaching; they were students who passed on the message they had heard. But do we have less now? Less reliability? Less insight? Less accuracy? I think, as the Church has encountered heresies and heterodoxy, as the Church has struggled to refine her language in response to misunderstandings, she has gained, not lost.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Delight in Loving

I know, I know ... they've told me a thousand times. Love is not a feeling. Love is an act. Love is a commitment. Love means doing whatever is necessary that the beloved might live.

And yet, being the sinners that we are, sometimes we love begrudgingly. We love because it's our duty to love. We're called to love our neighbor, and by gum, we'll grit our teeth and love, no matter how much we'd rather not.

And then there's the love that rejoices in being able to love. The love that gives delightedly. The love that is unaccountably tickled pink to sacrifice itself for the beloved.

It can sometimes be discouraging to be loved by someone who is dutifully loving you. But oh, how the heart dances with sheer joy when it is loved by one who is delighted to do the loving, whether it's your husband, your Savior, your mom, your friend, or even just your dog.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Enchilada Soup

After stewing a chicken this afternoon, I objected to making chicken-vegetable soup again. I'm not tired of eating it, but right now I'm tired of making it. After hunting up some decidedly different recipes and merging them and then tweaking a bit, I came up with a soup I loved. Even Alia (a soup-hater) thought it was good and snarfed it down. The balance of ingredients listed below is approximate, as I was wingin' it, tasting and adjusting the whole way. If you try it, you may have to adjust amounts of spices and salsa and peppers to suit your own taste.

Stew a 3-4# chicken in 3 quarts water.
Remove chicken from broth and let cool until it can be handled.

Mince 2-3 hot peppers.
Chop a sweet bell pepper and a large onion.
Saute veggies in a small amount of oil.

While whisking chicken broth, slowly sift into the broth
1 ½ cups cornmeal,
stirring so that there are no lumps.
Continue to stir frequently while soup heats,
so that the creamy texture doesn't burn onto the bottom of the pot.

When broth begins to thicken slightly, add
1# frozen corn
1#-can of black beans, drained
1 cup salsa
the sauteed onions and peppers.

Season with approximately
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
dash cayenne
Continue to stir frequently over medium heat until corn is hot.

Remove meat from chicken bones. Chop.
Add 1/2 the chicken and
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar or American cheese.

Stir gently until cheese melts.
Top with Fritos, salsa, and/or chopped cilantro.
Makes about 6 quarts of soup.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Legal Holidays

I have a hang-up. I think Memorial Day is on May 30 regardless of when the government decides to skip the mail delivery on some late-May Monday. I think Lincoln's birthday is February 12 and Washington's is February 22, regardless of this new-fangled "Presidents' Day" when the banks and schools are closed. So I smiled broadly at the interchange at school on Monday morning.

Every day after chapel, before the students break off into their classes, the headmistress covers several all-school items. First is the date. "Today is Monday, October the ..... ???" And one of the little kids tries to answer. Yesterday the response was "the 11th!" And the headmistress says, "No, but you're close" whereupon several quizzical looks were tossed her way by the adults. Pastor checks the date on his watch and says, "Yes, it is too the 11th."


Well, she goes on to talk about Columbus Day and the discovery of the Americas. Then it was Pastor's turn to be momentarily confused: "But it's not Columbus Day. Columbus Day is the 12th!"

Ah ha! Another person who thinks that holidays belong on their actual dates! So all these middle-aged folks are confused by the government's declaration of legal holidays, ranting about Armistice Day being on November 11, and Memorial Day being on May 30, and that it's not really Columbus Day on the 11th whether or not the banks are closed. We know the truth about the dates.

And these kids ... Their whole life's experience has been Monday holidays, with no understanding that these days weren't plucked out of nowhere but were anniversaries of real events that really happened to real people in history.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Leviticus 13 contains instructions for determining whether a skin sore was leprous, whether a person was clean or unclean, waiting periods, and other practices associated with leprosy.

In the middle of the passage is the curious statement that a person whose skin is all white, a person who is entirely covered with the leprosy in every spot, shall be declared clean. Pastor Wiest told us that this verse ultimately referred to Christ, who was thoroughly and totally and completely infected with the leprosy of our sin, but who was clean.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Go, Show Yourselves to the Priests

This Sunday's story was the Ten Lepers (Luke 17). Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests. So, where were the priests?

Yup, they were in Jerusalem.

Where was Jesus headed? How about that! He was headed to Jerusalem too. Why? This wasn't just one of His many trips there; this was the last time to go up to Jerusalem.

So these nine dudes who did not cling to Him and thank Him for His healing, they are off on a trip to where there are soon to be universe-shaking events. Will the men still be there on Palm Sunday and through the holiest days of all history? Maybe not. But it's likely, as long as they were in Jerusalem anyhow, that they would stay for the feast of Passover after having been cut off from the worshiping community.

The very events that won the forgiveness of sins would be preached & displayed in Jerusalem soon enough. Although these lepers did not return to Jesus in faith, Jesus nevertheless graciously sent the men to a place where they might hear the Gospel again.

Weekend Projects Go Bust

The air is warm; the windows are open. This will not last long. It's time to cram in a few projects that must be done according to weather. For example, use the smelly polyurethane now or forever hold your peace -- or till next spring at least.

We had about 3 cups of forest-green paint leftover from the old tree house. The forest-green picnic table was in bad shape. Time to use up the leftover paint so as to dispose of the container and spiff up the worn spots of wood. When we woke up this morning, the picnic table looked wet, really wet! Turned out I put water-base on top of oil-base paint. Gary came to the rescue. He hosed down the picnic table and benches, washing the unstuck paint onto the deck, and then he sprayed down the deck so it didn't turn green. And all this before he headed out to preach this morning. Wow -- that's patience for a wife who screwed up her first weekend project.

The kitchen table has been SO sticky. Don't know why. But when it's not just paper that sticks to the table but even potholders that need to be peeled off, it's time to do something. Friday afternoon I stripped the table top. One polyurethane coat after another went on smoothly, leaving me an increasingly smooth and beautiful table top. Anticipating a final coat, I just went to check for dryness. There are bubbles. Not little pinprick air bubbles that make the smooth surface feel a bit sandy -- these are airbubbles 1/4" or 1/2" in diameter. WHAT HAPPENED??? Screw-up #2.

As long as I was wielding a paintbrush full of polyurethane, I decided to coat the mantel. The wood there is so rough that it cannot be dusted: the wood shreds fibers off the dustcloth. Six coats of polyurethane later, it's not smooth, but it is definitely smooth enough to dust. After my experience with the kitchen table, I'm thinkin' better to leave well enough alone on the mantel.

The last summer project to tackle is freezing or canning the hot peppers. But I can wait until a rainy or cold day for that. No sense in wasting these final gorgeous days of sunshine!