Fall Teaparty With Friends

November 23, 2011

Every year, my Mom, sisters and I have had a Fall Teaparty with some dear friends of ours. There is always much joy, excellent food, quirky games, and laughter. My two sisters were married last year and moved to Montana, so sadly they were unable to join our festive gathering this year.

We usually divide up the menu between our two families, and I have contributed some of my own creations in the past, but this year my dear Mom provided her own special appetizer. (Not pictured below, but Butternut Squash Soup was our main dish)

  Baby Brie With Caramelized Onions And Toasted Hazelnuts

This Brie was absolutely delicious; baked with the caramelized onions and toasted hazelnuts, then spread on some crackers, it made a wonderful Fall appetizer.

  Apple Salad With Cinnamon

I’m not too big on apple salads, but this one was a nice side with these delicious sandwiches:

     Chicken Salad On Croissants 

We had a lovely dessert that, while a bit on the sweet side, tasted perfect with a nice cup of tea.

     Chocolate Toffee Bars

We took turns, after our meal, going through the alphabet attempting to name an author whose name began with that letter. We were able to make it through most of the alphabet, but amongst many giggles were unable to discover any authors with names beginning in “U, X, and Z.”


Beelzebub: King Of The Earth, Or Chicken?

November 19, 2011

Technically, this post isn’t about food, but chicken is pretty tasty and I’m looking forward to all the eggs we will be obtaining from our 31 chickens. This little black chick, which my brother cleverly named “Beelzebub,” set the wheels in my head to turning though, and reminded me again of how Christians don’t need to fear Beelzebub, a.k.a Satan.

A small red man, with a gargoyle face and horns sprouting from his head, jumping from side to side yelling and waving his sharp trident in the air, while flames spurt all around him – this is just one of the many wrong views people have of Satan. Not only do they believe he is this little horned man, instead of the fallen angel Lucifer, but some also believe he and God are locked in a deadly battle of equals, and he, Satan, has the world wrapped around his fiendish finger. Even though Satan is demonic, he is a virtual Sherlock Holmes wearing many disguises, and he can appear angelic to people, even at times quoting Scripture to them.

In his book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis clears up one of the greatest misconceptions about Satan; that he is God’s opposite:

The commonest question is whether I really ‘believe in the Devil.’ Now, if by ‘the Devil’ you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly No. There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite… The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God and, as a corollary, to us. These we may call devils. They do not differ in nature from good angels, but their nature is depraved. Devil is the opposite of angel only as Bad Man is the opposite of Good Man. Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael.

If Satan and his devils are the opposite of Michael and his angels regarding their natures, I think it safe to assume that would also mean they are opposites regarding their appearances.

Usually, when somebody says the word, “angel,” what do you think of? The first thing that comes to most people’s minds is either an innocent little cherub holding a harp, or a beautiful woman with wings wearing a long, flowing dress of white. However, the Bible teaches that angels are fearsome creatures to behold. Everyone recorded in the Bible who saw an angel, was accounted as having fallen flat on his face, because he was so frightened by the angel’s appearance (Joshua 5:13-14, Numbers 22:31, Genesis 3:24, and Ezekiel 10:14). Because devils and angels are opposites, this means instead of presenting a frightful façade, a devil may make himself look very alluring. In Genesis 3:1, Satan is portrayed in the shape of a serpent. The word serpent means: a dragon or other mythical snakelike reptile. Most pictures of dragons illustrate them as very beautiful creatures. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Not only does Satan change his appearance to that of a messenger of light, but we are told he can also quote scripture. Unfortunately for him, Satan can’t quite get the meaning right. He spoke to Jesus in Matthew 4:5-6, saying:

For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’

Even though he uses Psalm 91, he muddles the meaning from that of urging believers to put their trust in God, to making it sound like a test, throwing doubt on God’s faithfulness. His muffing of Scripture he uses to his advantage however, by entrapping people in telling them part of the truth (or minor truths) so they will place their confidence in him; and once he has their trust, he betrays them in ways so major it is enough to send them to Hell.

Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, illustrates this point very well, when the witches tell Macbeth he shall become the Thane of Cawdor. Their prediction comes true, but Macbeth’s friend Banquo wisely asks, “What, can the Devil speak true?” Later, seeing what the witches prophesied did come true, he gives Macbeth an insightful warning:

But ’tis strange, And oftentimes, to win us to our harm the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequences.

Knowing Satan has the power to entrap and attack people, or change his appearance may seem frightening, BUT it is only because God gives him that power and permission to do so. Satan is a mere, helpless puppet in the sovereign hands of our Lord. The most famous proof of this is in the book of Job, where Satan must first obtain permission from God before he is allowed to torment and tempt Job. Satan may be stronger than human beings, but Christ is stronger than Satan and has triumphed over him. Satan is destined for the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10; Job 1:12, 2:4-6: Mark 3:26-27; and Luke 22:31). God’s promise of crushing the serpent’s head was fulfilled in Christ’s death on the cross, a cross which was set on a hill called Golgotha, a name which means “Place of the Skull.”

If we continue to cling to a wrong view of Satan based on superstitions instead of God’s Word, then we’re no better than people of the past who were so caught up in pagan holidays (such as All Hallow’s Eve) they began to believe in the very witches and spirits they made up! These mythical beliefs have led to profound outcomes such as the Salem’s witch trials, where many innocent people were persecuted and killed because some fell so far away from God and His truth, even to the point of being frightened into believing a black cat was the devil.

Just like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, Christians have forgotten to put their trust in the real King. When Christian attempts to enter the palace Beautiful, he hesitates, frightened by two lions standing on either side of the narrow path that leads to the door of the palace. What Christian doesn’t realize is that these lions are chained, and even though they are roaring, angry, and intimidating, they cannot possibly harm him. Just like Christian, we forget Satan is a defeated enemy, a chained lion, and the real King of the earth is not bound. He is the one who has chained the lion, and who still (and always will) have a firm grasp on that chain. We do not need to be afraid of Satan, who is “chicken”; he is terrified of our Great Redeemer.

He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world   ~1 John 4:4

~Soli Deo Gloria

The Joy In Eating

November 17, 2011

Christians should take joy in eating food. That’s right, I used the word joy. When I use the word joy I don’t just mean the kind of joy where you are happy about eating (I am elated every time my Mom makes her delicious Minestrone Soup, however) but I do mean joy in the sense that we take pleasure in our food.

One of the greatest heresies the Early Church faced, was Gnosticism. Gnosticism is the belief that we live in a “dualistic universe” made up of matter and light. Matter, the things of this earth, were categorized as evil and the works of the devil. Light, the supernatural things, or the realm of God, were categorized as good, but could be tainted by the evil matter of earth. That’s why Gnostics also hold to the heresy that Christ did not come to earth to live a perfect, sinless life in physical form, because He would have been “corrupted” by the evil things of this world; and that when He died on the cross His spirit fled and He never actually died.

Gnostic teachings have grasped on to some Christians’ views of this earth, like blood-sucking leeches. It may seem “more holy” to not take pleasure in earthly things, such as food. In Genesis 1:29-31a. however, God stated:

See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food;” and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

It’s important to notice that  God doesn’t only say He has given every “herb and fruit” for our food, but also declares what He created was “very good.” We are to emulate God in seeing our food as very good. Another way we are to emulate God, and take joy in our food, is by being creative in the foods we make. Just as our Creator was creative in the food He designed for us, we are to be expressing our Christianity through being inventive in the foods we design for our (and others) consumption. Giving our best to God.

The Bible speaks quite frequently about food. Many places in the Bible speak about the Passover Feast, wine, manna, fish, and bread. These accounts of God’s people feasting also describe them enjoying what their Creator made for their pleasure. (Ecclesiastes 10:19, 2 Chronicles 8:13, John 6:1-14 to name a very few instances) We are also told to look forward to the Great Feast we shall participate in someday with our Lord. (Revelation 19:9) Christians even use the term “feasting on God’s Word” to illustrate taking pleasure in it.

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches remember the joy that is to be found in our food. Remember our God gave it to us as something “very good.” Remember the imagery shown in the feasts we celebrate here on earth that are a shadow of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

~Soli Deo Gloria

Simple Things

November 16, 2011

I firmly believe the simple things in life are usually the things that stay with us the longest, give us the greatest joy, and bless us the most. Whether it is a note from a sibling saying they love you, a scribbled drawing from a tiny hand, a hug from one of your parents, or enjoying God’s creation while taking a walk, these simple things are powerful in how they remain in our hearts and minds.

I find simple foods are usually the best, as well. Just eating a cracker with some cheese can taste absolutely delicious and excite your senses much more than eating a fancy meal of stuffed pheasant and crême brûlée, or some such nonsense. And eating a bowl of homemade granola with yogurt can taste so much better than eggs and bacon, some mornings.

12 C. Oats

1 C. Wheat Germ

1 C. Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

3/4 C. Oil

3/4 C. Honey

1 C. Nuts of your choice (Optional)

1 1/2 C. Dried Fruit (Optional)

Mix the oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl. Mix oil and honey together and microwave for two minutes. Pour the hot oil and honey onto oat mixture and stir until combined. If adding nuts, coarsely chop them and mix into granola. Spread onto two parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and cook at 275 degrees for two hours, stirring every half hour. After granola has cooled completely, add chopped dried fruit and enjoy with milk or yogurt.

~Soli Deo Gloria