Saturday, May 14, 2016


"You're not really sorry if you keep on committing the sin."

There is some truth to that.  A nine-yr-old isn't really sorry if he's just saying the words while inwardly plotting a way to keep on whopping his brother as soon as Mom is occupied elsewhere.  The car thief isn't really sorry when he's found guilty before the judge for one theft, while at that very moment his chop-shop is dismantling or disguising another dozen cars. 

But there's the gossip who intends to do better, who desires to do better, but who slips back into her old ways during the course of what started as a normal, pleasant conversation.  Or maybe there's an addict who does what he can to stay clean, but sometimes in weakness succumbs to the addiction.  The devil is quick to accuse: "See?  You're still committing the sin.  You aren't sorry.  That means you are impenitent, and there is no forgiveness for you."

It gets worse when the sin is failing to trust in the Lord with all your heart.  "You aren't trusting in Him?  You still sin?  Obviously you are not repentant.  Because if you were, you'd just knock it off and overflow with abundant trust, never struggling with sin again." 

Repentance means a person is turned from trusting in his own works to relying upon the Lord.

Relying upon the Lord?

For what?

For good behavior?
For strength to stop sinning?
For wisdom and fortitude to do what is right?

Well, yes.  For those things too.

But mostly ...
for relying on His forgiveness. 

If repentance means making sure we Just Stop Sinning Already, then repentance is still about trusting in myself.  And that's really no repentance at all.

Today's Laugh

Santa and his wife weren't getting along.  They went to a marriage counselor but still could not work out their differences.  They decided to divorce.  They discovered --to their amazement-- that divorce is not allowed at the North Pole. 

So instead of a divorce, they got a semicolon.

Because a semicolon separates two independent Clauses.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs

It's like magic!  Alton Brown said to peel the hard-boiled eggs before they cool.  And it works!

With fresh eggs from happy chickens, I found it nearly impossible to deal with hard-boiling eggs.  I tried letting them get old before boiling.  I would add vinegar to the water they're boiling in.  Or add baking soda.  But it was hit-or-miss as to whether the eggs would peel.  And when they would peel, it was a painstaking and time-consuming job.

Obviously, this peel-when-warm plan is useless for Easter eggs.

But for egg salad, deviled eggs, tuna salad, etc, hard-boil the eggs, and then put them in cold water for a few minutes.  Peel them while still slightly warm.  Put the peeled eggs in a closed container and pop 'em in the fridge until you need them. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Worst Cooks in America

The "Survivor" version of cooking lessons.  Gary and I have been enjoying watching Worst Cooks in America.  This is much better than Chopped and even more enjoyable than Iron Chef.  The contestants begin as clueless cooks.  Along they way they are taught and challenged and helped and flummoxed and just keep cookin'.

I thought I was a pretty good cook, but I've learned a few things as I watch.

~ An easier way to cut an onion.  If you halve the onion vertically, peel it, and then begin dicing without going through the root end, the root will help hold the pieces of onion hold together.

~ Frugal Gourmet always said, "Hot pan.  Cold oil.  Food won't stick."  The teacher-chefs on WCiA tell the recruits to make sure the oil is just beginning to smoke before adding the food.  Then you know the oil is good and hot.

~ Chicken and fish go skin-side-down in the skillet or baking dish. Don't try to fudge and fuss with it and loosen the meat to prevent sticking; just wait until it's cooked.  Then move it.

~ Never ever press a spatula on top of a burger.  (That habit is going to be hard to break.)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Liberation Theology Pops Up Again

With the current crop of presidential candidates, American Christians are wondering about voting this November.  Many Christians are saying that disciples of Jesus should be voting for a candidate who will help the poor and homeless, who will fight the injustices of racism and sexism and bigotry.  They quote passage after passage of Jesus' words about oppression and comfort and poverty. 

Hold on a minute, guys.

The problem Jesus came to solve was the problem of sin.

The solution Jesus offers is forgiveness of sin.

When Jesus talks about oppression, He is talking about the church leaders who oppress people with the laws and the rules and the demands for obedience.  The oppression is that we must earn God's favor through our behavior.  When Jesus talks about freedom, He is talking about the gospel of His mercy and forgiveness.

When we make an idol of our worldly goods and worldly comforts, then we think that's the main thing God cares about too.  When we make Avoiding-Suffering our top priority, we think that God is loving if and only if He frees us from temporal suffering. 

To be sure, the Lord does care about the temporal suffering of His creatures.  But sometimes He nevertheless permits it for the sake of faith, that people might call out to Him and rely on Him instead of depending upon themselves.  Christians, too, will care about their neighbors' suffering.  Insofar as they are able, they will offer help and comfort, food and clothing, clean water and mosquito netting, homes and medical care.  They will share the neighbors' burdens.  They will pray and they will give physical relief.

But we cannot eliminate poverty.  (Jesus said that too.) 

The government's place is to maintain order in society, to punish those who take what belongs to others, to take vengeance on those who do bodily harm to others.  It is not the government's job to be merciful, giving to people what they do not deserve.  That is the Church's job.  But what the Church gives is the word of forgiveness for Jesus' sake.  This may offend those who see the Church as a social agency, but it is nonetheless true:  Earthly blessings from Christians to the needy isn't the top priority; those works of mercy are rather an outgrowth of Christian love.

Those who say otherwise,
those who think Jesus is all about providing fairness in creature-comforts to everyone,
are looking for a Bread-King.  (See John 6.)
They are preaching "another Jesus" and "another gospel."  (See 2 Corinthians 11.)

Sunday, May 08, 2016


The last month I've done some things that I hadn't done yet in my post-stroke life.  The garden is tilled and waiting for seeds or seedlings.  The cherry trees and apple trees have been severely pruned and are looking lovely as they flower.  The blackberries and raspberries have been pruned too.  We made a trip to Minnesota to see Paul and Mandy's house and to attend a baby shower. 

One of my projects at church is (I think) completed.  Not to worry, there are plenty of other projects.  The next big project will probably be prepping a manuscript for the publisher, which is easier than decision-making.  (Making decisions is far more tiring and mind-muddling than it used to be.)

It's 74 in the house and I am cold.  Remember how, as a kid, you would go into nursing homes to visit and feel stifled by the heat?  Yeah ... that's the kind of heat I'm craving now.  I was looking forward to swimming at a family reunion this year.  After a couple of nice warm days recently, when I still needed a jacket, I suspect I'll be too chilled to get wet unless it's 100 out.

Garlic is amazing.  After a year and half of living with an infection that I got during my hospital stay, my doctor sent me to a specialist.  I did not appreciate the specialist's advice.  I determined to get serious about using garlic to eliminate the bacteria.  It took over a week.  I ate more than three heads of raw garlic.  I'm sure I reeked.  But the infection cleared up.  Finally.  Four months now and no sign of the problem.  I can now do wild and crazy things: eat a donut, or have a cup of coffee on the same day that I eat a cookie, or go for a walk that's more than a mile long, or have a beer, or drive six hours without taking a month to recuperate.  This is fantastic!

I have continued working on Saturday mornings since I ostensibly quit my part-time job last summer.  I have two Saturdays left before I'm done done.  I have such mixed feelings about leaving.

My mom's house sold the day after it was listed for sale.  I feel like a schlock that I haven't been down there this month to help finish clearing it out.  I keep giving myself the speech that I can only do what I am able to do.  And I'm not very good yet at admitting that I cannot.

Next big job must be to organize the basement.  It's become a dumping spot.  This is going to require some amount of physical labor, but more exhausting is going to be the decisions.  Especially the decisions of what to eliminate.  I had been doing a decent job of submerging my pack-rat tendencies.  But it's become harder lately.  And really, who wants to be organizing the basement when it's spring and I could be outside instead?  (Shhhh -- let's not talk about the fact that I didn't organize the basement in winter because it was too cold down there.  Excuses abound!)