Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hungry for Love

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6

I was reading this morning one of my favorite passages - Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 18-21. I've read it many times before, but this time something jumped out at me which I'd never seen before. In the first paragraph, it reads, "Righteousness is love...." Suddenly, I thought, What if I replace the word 'righteousness' with 'love'? I read the verse again: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after love: for they shall be filled." Shivers coursed up and down my spine as I drank in the words.

So many of us - all of humanity in fact - are searching, longing, for love. Josh Groban sings, "Everybody wants to be loved...." There is another secular song which speaks of "looking for love in all the wrong places." It seems that no matter how hard we search for true love in this world, it always eludes us, deceives us, betrays us. Yet, we have a promise that when we hunger and thirst for God's love, we will be filled - not just with His love manifested towards ourselves, but with a heavenly love that wells up inside and flows out to all around us. When I recognize the quality and magnitude of God's love, I can't help but covet it. But for some reason, my heart despairs, because it seems that such a love is so hard for this weak, fallible human being to obtain.

The very next paragraph speaks directly to me, like a thunderbolt from heaven. "Not by painful struggles or wearisome toil, not by gift or sacrifice, is righteousness [or love] obtained; but it is freely given to every soul who hungers and thirsts to receive it." I struggle to wrap my mind around it. By my very nature, I feel compelled to struggle and toil for that which I desire, else I can not receive it. But this is not heaven's way. No matter how much I struggle and fight, I will never obtain this love I desire. The only way is to rest and receive. To surrender. No fighting or striving required. God's love is my love. All I have to do is long for it. Long for it with all my heart. And I will receive it. Wow...

What will it take for me to stop fighting and struggling? To just be still and receive?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

As He Loves

[Thoughts on Steps to Christ, chap. 1]

Through the ages, Satan has distorted man's perception of God to such an extent that most people view God as a stern judge - always "watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them." [SC 11] My heart was immediately pricked with the thought that I probably come across the same way to the boys I homeschool - always watching to catch them in some misdemeanor so I can give them a mark. But if I am to be a representative of Christ, and reveal His love to the world, I must work to remove this misconception of God's character. How am I to do this, and yet maintain proper discipline and structure? The rest of the chapter explains how Jesus did that very thing.

"Love, mercy, and compassion were revealed in every act of His life." SC 11-12

"Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He always uttered it in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. ...tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes." SC 12

I am also reminded of what EGW says in another place, "We are to put the best construction upon the words and motives of others." If the boys see that I expect only the best from them, at first they may try to take advantage of that, but I believe that in time, they will be prompted to put forth all their effort to measure up to that expectation and prove me right. At the same time, I must be careful not to "censure human weakness" - to be aware of their limitations and not demand things beyond what they are able.

This goes right along with what Alicia told me last night about Daniel - he doesn't respond well to punishments and negative consequences, but rather to positive reinforcement - rewards and encouragement. Of course there will always have to be consequences for our actions, but God's way, I believe, is the same - to shower us with love and encouragement, gently, lovingly nudging us forward towards the right, and expressing genuine sorrow when unpleasant consequences must be meted out.

I love this closing thought at the end of the chapter:

"The thought [of God's love]...brings the mind into captivity to the will of God." SC 15

It is only as my mind is in "captivity to the will of God" that I will be able to accurately portray His character to the world, and remove the misconceptions that Satan has planted. According to the above quotation, if I want to have the mind of Christ, to be always in harmony with Him, all I need to do is meditate on His love for me. This simple meditation has the power to captivate my heart and bring me into harmony with Christ. What a wonder!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Courageous


 I scrolled nonchalantly through the movie list, not expecting to see anything worth watching. However, my eyes stopped abruptly when I saw “Courageous” on the movie list. Now, I’m not one to typically watch movies, but I knew that this was a Christian film, and I’d heard a lot of good things about it. So I settled back in my seat to watch it.

     It was about fathers. The story of five policemen who signed a resolution to be the best they could be for their families and for God. It tells of the battles Satan hurled at them as a result, and how they (minus one) conquered together through Christ. About halfway through, the dam broke, and tears cascaded down my cheeks as I thought of my own father, now deceased. What if he’d had a chance to watch a film like this, I wondered. Might things have been different?  Would it have changed him?

     My father wasn’t a bad man. He tried to do what was right. He had a passion to proclaim the truth. But like the 5th policeman, he had “lost control of the wheel,” and didn’t know how to get it back. (Or maybe he never really had the wheel.) It wasn’t his fault, really. It started decades before, with his own father…or rather, the lack thereof. Habits were formed which I guess seemed to him impossible to break. And even though he became an SDA and passionately proclaimed the truth, he never learned of the power of the truth to wholly transform him. What if he had? Oh, how things could have been different. I try to imagine what it would have been like to have him in my life now, as a truly converted man and father – transformed.

     Yet, God reminds me again of the miracle he brought into my life through my step-dad. No, he’s not my idea of “the perfect dad” – he doesn’t have all the characteristics on my wish list, but he has the most important thing yet – a solid walk with God. And he has been an incredible example to me of what a godly man is supposed to be like. For this I thank God immensely.

     As for my birth father, well…I just hope he made things right with God before he died. It’s been a long journey, but now I can truthfully say that I sincerely hope to meet him in heaven, so we can rebuild a relationship together, and then he can learn to be a real father, the way God designed.

I highly recommend “Courageous”. It’s even better than Fireproof (in my humble opinion).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Law According to an Apple


I found something interesting in SOP this morning which started a train of thought...

If the Ten Commandments really are Ten Promises (see 1BC 1105.1), then they really are moreso descriptive statements than they are commands - descriptive of how a true child of God will act when he truly loves God.

Take the Law of Gravity, for instance. If you hold an apple above your head and suddenly let go, does that apple have to struggle and put forth effort in order to comply with the Law of Gravity and fall to the ground? Of course not! That's silly, right? It is merely a natural, predictable phenomenon - what goes up must come down.


It is the same with the Law of God - the Decalogue. Those 10 Laws are merely descriptive of what will happen when you are subject to God's rulership in your life, just as the Law of Gravity is descriptive of what will happen to weighty objects subject to the atmosphere of Earth.*

The difference between people and apples is that we have a choice as to whether or not we will be subject to the Law. (Apples, obviously, do not.) Keeping the Law is not the problem; choosing to be subject to the Law every moment, by accepting God's sovereignty over us, this is where we find our perpetual battle. When we fully accept Him, it will be (through His power) but a natural, predictable phenomenon for us to abide by His Laws and display His character.

Isn't that beautiful? 

"You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will. He will then work in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ." ~ Steps to Christ, p. 31




*Disclaimer: I am not a scientist. Please forgive my painfully pathetic description of the law of gravity. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blessings in Disguise

Mom and I have been partners in missionary adventures ever since I was a baby, when she took me in a stroller to distribute tracts and booklets door to door. Since I've been home from college, we've been at it again - this time, I drive her from house to house as we systematically blanket a neighboring town with literature. We've long since finished the easy part - the city limits. Now we're in the byways. And I assure you, it is one adventure after another!!! Here's a sampling of the latest. :)

The Dog Bite
We always carry a dog daser with us. It emits a high frequency which dogs dislike, so most dogs run away when they hear it. This particular day, Mom got out of the car and dased the huge white dog cautiously approaching her. Nothing happened. He advanced. She dased him again. Still nothing. Thinking perhaps he was scared, she thought, I'll just pet him to let him know I'm okay and won't hurt him. Wrong move. The instant her fingertip brushed the tip of his bristled neck hair, his jaws connected with her forearm. Dazed, she stood there, holding her arm in shock as wet, crimson liquid soaked her white shirt sleeve. Just then, the owner - who had been sitting outside when we drove up - arrived to assess the situation. "Did he bite you?" Well, obviously... She thoroughly scolded Mom for petting a strange dog, and proceeded to escort her dog to the house.

She returned shortly with first-aid paraphernalia. We kept telling her, "Don't worry, it'll be fine." At first she was like, "Don't worry?!! My dog just bit someone and you tell me 'Don't worry'?!!" But she calmed down bit by bit. When everything was bandaged up, the lady ushered us over to the chairs where she had been sitting before we arrived, and said, "Well what did you come to bring me? Invite me, invite me!" We were able to share what we had come to bring her, as well as a copy of The Great Controversy. The lady was intrigued, and said, "I'm a librarian, so I will read this and research it for myself." We had a wonderful conversation together, and ended with prayer. By the end of the prayer, this lady - who had sort of a scowl on her face when we drove up - hugged us, all aglow with smiles. 

We met her again this past week, and she was so happy to see us. Of course she wanted to see Mom's arm immediately, which has healed up very nicely except for a little scab. She also informed us that she had her dog put down just a few days ago. You see, 14-year-old Shay was blind and deaf, which explains why he never heard the high frequency of the daser. He just knew that he smelled someone strange and he was going to protect his owner whatever the cost.

The Car and the Ditch
A few weeks later, we went out again to continue our door-to-door adventures. All was going well, until we reached this gravel driveway that went up, and up, and up, until finally even the lowest gear couldn't handle the grade. So Mom got out and walked the rest of the way up to the house. When she returned, I proceeded to back down the driveway, as there was no turnout in sight. Now, I've had to back down many a driveway, and I believe I've gotten quite proficient at it. However, something happened that day. I don't know what - I just know that, in the process of trying to avoid a deep rut on the left, I must have overcorrected, and by and by I found myself hugging the muddy mountainside on my right. I maneuvered this way and that, but no matter what I tried, the tires spun us deeper into the muck.

Finally I concluded, "We're stuck." So I order Mom into the front seat, while I get out in my white denim skirt and proceed to push our little Toyota with all the strength my 90 pounds could muster. Fail. Okay, I know what to do. No problem. We'll just get those flat rocks piled beside the driveway, wedge those under the wheels and drive out. Easy! Uhh, well, actually not. That didn't work either. We had been praying all this time. I tried pushing some more, adjusted the rocks, adding more here and there. Then I stopped. Lord, I'm going to try this one more time. If you want us to get out of this mess and proceed, please get us out. But if You have a special reason for us to meet the owner of this house, then have this last effort fail also. You can probably guess what happened. FAIL! :D

So we trekked up to the top of the mountain, where we met a kind old hermit. He was very gracious, and successfully pulled us out of his muddy driveway. But as we talked together, he confided that he didn't study his Bible all that much. In fact, he was rather disgruntled with organized religion. But he agreed that it was important to follow Christ's example, doing good to others, etc. We prayed with him before we left, and shared with him Steps to Christ.

Conclusion
These experiences reminded me of Paul's account of his missionary experiences: 
"Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep, in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (2 Cor. 11:24-27) 
 And yet, he didn't complain. He penned the words to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." Having gone through our own small trials of dog bites and a car in the ditch - which "delayed" us from the Lord's work - Mom and I are starting to see why Paul could rejoice even in trials. You see, really, those trials were God's blessings in disguise. They weren't really delays - they were keys to building friendships, chances to minister to souls, who might never have listened if we hadn't shared that bond of working through difficulties together. God always knows what He's doing, and what a blessing to be His instruments, his servants, even if we have to suffer a little in the process. Because really, what is the price of a soul? Is it worth a dog bite? Is it worth a muddy white skirt? I say far, far more. For Christ, it was worth leaving paradise. It was worth even life itself - just to save one soul. Just to save you; just to save me. How can I complain?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Miracles

My heart sings.
Which such an awesome God as mine,  how can I be silent?

Two phone calls. $1000.
Yes, that's three zeroes.

God, you take my breath away.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's Official

The torture of keeping this secret is finally ended, because it's now official - I'M GOING TO THAILAND!!!!! ^_^

John Baxter from AFM called me a couple months ago with an urgent need - a homeschool teacher for the children of a young missionary couple in Thailand. After much prayer, I accepted the call.

Now, let the challenges begin. The first $1,700 of $5,000 is due in just 10 days. The rest is due by August 15.  Then, there's the language... Then, the challenge of trying to teach two active little boys, when I've had only one class on such things - "Intro to Teaching" - 6 years ago. Am I in over my head? Perhaps so. But by holding God's hand, I can walk on water, just like Peter. Where challenges abound, God's grace much more abounds. I'm excited. :)

Contact me for more info on how you can help with this project! I'd love to answer any questions you might have. You can email me at studentmissionary05@gmail.com or call me at (828) 837-4219.

I look forward to seeing how God is going to work!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gems from Acts 8


Acts 8:30 - "And Philip ran thither to him..." He ran...he actually RAN! Can you imagine? A grown man sprinting across the desert... :D

And I thought, Do I have the same sense of urgency? I remember seeing some in my canvassing team a few years ago who actually would RUN from house to house, with that heavy canvassing bag! I remember thinking to myself, How do they do that?! They had that sense of urgency, that divine unction.

Acts 8:37 - "...And he [the eunuch] answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." And he was baptized.

You know, I've heard this verse used a lot among the conventional Christian world. They say, "See, all you have to do is believe!" For a while, this puzzled me, too. Why, throughout the book of Acts especially, does it seem like so little was required for one to become a Christian and be baptized? What about all the other important doctrines that we teach before baptism today?

This time, it finally hit me. That was their "present truth" - that Jesus was the Son of God. It was unpopular. In fact, many lost their lives because of that profession. Keep in mind, too, that - especially in the beginning of the apostles' ministry - most of their converts were Jews. They already knew the doctrines. They were only lacking Christ.
To claim the same "present truth" today - to require only that people profess belief that Jesus is the Son of God - would not require any real sacrifice. It has become the popular, accepted belief in mainline churches. We need to go deeper. The Three Angels' Messages - the Sanctuary message - the anti-typical Day of Atonement - the Sabbath truth, and how it relates to the Mark of the Beast, etc. - this is our "present truth". Does that mean we should abandon the "present truth" of yesteryears? By all means, no! All present truth builds on the foundation of present truth that has come before. The Three Angels' Messages would have no impetus without preaching Christ as its center. Likewise for all the other messages we preach.

Anyways, sorry to get all preachy, but I'm excited. :) Now I finally have a totally logical answer to those "just believe" objections, without having to just scramble around from verse to verse and put puzzle pieces together. (Though of course that definitely has its place, too!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Parfait

Mother's Day Parfait 

(or anytime, for that matter!)


Simply layer granola, fruit sauce, and vegan whipped cream in a tall glass. Top with a sprinkle of granola. For an extra special gourmet touch, slice a fresh strawberry from bottom to top, not cutting all the way through, then fan out the slices and place in the center of parfait.
Enjoy!! ^_^




Fruit Sauce

½ cup frozen white grape/raspberry juice concentrate (100% juice)
2 Tbs. cornstarch or arrowroot
1 12-oz. (or 16-oz.) bag of frozen strawberries or blueberries
½ cup water

Dissolve cornstarch in cold water, then thicken with juice in a saucepan, stirring constantly.
When thick, add frozen fruit. Simmer for 2 minutes; turn off heat.

Makes 3 cups.

Whipped Topping

1 cup water
2 Tbs. agar flakes (or 2 tsp. powder)*
½ cup raw cashew nuts
1/3 cup honey or ½ cup evap. cane juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon guar gum (optional)
1 can coconut milk (or 2 cups soy milk)   I use Thai brand coconut milk; it is thicker and has no added chemicals or preservatives.

1.  Stir together the agar and water, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
2.  Place remaining ingredients in blender (Vita-Mix is best) along with hot agar mixture.  Blend on high until smooth, adding water as needed to make 3½ - 4 cups total mixture (3½ cups total mixture for icing; 4 cups for whipped topping).  Pour into a quart container and chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight.  For quicker chilling, use a large shallow container. 

Hint:  Since this recipe needs blending twice, leave the blended mixture (step 2) in the blender and refrigerate overnight.  Then simply re-blend as in step 3, saving the work of washing the blender and containers twice!

3.  Before using, place chilled mixture (which will be quite firm--almost sliceable) in blender or food processor, and blend until creamy.  (If you have a lightweight blender, you should blend just half of the mix at a time.)  It should be the consistency of Cool Whip.  Try not to add more liquid.  The mixture will eventually go through the blades and become creamy if you carefully push it toward the blades with a rubber spatula. 

*The agar is a key ingredient in this recipe.  The mixture has to be re-blended only once.  Then it can be frozen and used without re-blending , but remains a nice creamy texture.  So make a double recipe and freeze in small containers to use as needed for icing, dessert topping, or pancakes.

Makes 6 cups.
  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joy

I love cooking for my family.

I love watching them enjoy the delicacies I've worked so hard to prepare. I don't consider it work, really; it's just something I've come to love - making others happy, especially those I love.


Of course, I have a wonderful family who make sure I know how much they appreciate my efforts, and a mother who habitually brags on me. :)


Yet, as I washed dishes today, I pondered: Would I enjoy it as much if my efforts went unacknowledged, unappreciated? Would my heart still sing if my efforts were belittled or even criticized by ungrateful people?



This is the ultimate test. Lord, help me. I fall short.


Yet, my heart is encouraged by this: Our Father always takes delight in our efforts, no matter how many others fail to notice. In fact, He takes pride not only in our successes, but even in our apparent failures, because at least we tried. We gave our all. And that's what counts. To Him, it's as if we had the most stunning victory. Because really, we did.

Isn't He awesome? :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What If I Prayed Like the Heathen?

I was studying about prayer yesterday morning, and a thought came to me. What if we Christians prayed to God as the heathen of Bible times prayed to their gods? Remember how the worshipers of Baal in Elijah's time would dance around, beat their chests, and cut themselves? Not that I'm suggesting those things -- no, not at all, for I think that would be offensive to God. But what if we prayed with the same intensity, the same earnestness? I Kings 18:26 says they prayed from morning till noon. That's several hours of intense prayer! Do we persevere in prayer to a similar extent? When I don't see an immediate answer to my prayers, I tend to get lax; I start to lose my earnestness and intensity. What if, like the heathen Baal worshipers, my earnestness in prayer only intensified when the answer didn't come right away?

Then there were the Molech-worshipers. These people even went so far as to sacrifice their dearest earthly possession -- their own children -- in order to appease their god. What if we sacrificed (in a figurative sense) our dearest earthly possessions, not to appease God, but because we love Him, and want nothing to stand between us and Him?

What if?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sadness and Health

"Sadness deadens the circulation in the blood vessels and nerves, and also retards the action of the liver. It hinders the process of digestion and of nutrition, and has a tendency to dry up the marrow of the whole system. . . ."  ~ The Upward Look, p. 102.3

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rachel A. Perry, LMBT

Rachel A. Perry, LMBT 

The words sound strangely wonderful on my tongue. Yes, the day I've been waiting for has finally arrived. I got my NC massage license in the mail yesterday! :D

Praise the Lord. Now, prayers are ascending as to what steps to pursue next.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Taking the Plunge

I perused the latest blog entry of Sean Nebblett in near disbelief. Acts? The whole book of Acts?! Seriously...he's going to attempt to memorize the entire book of Acts in just 300 days. And he wants people to join him. There's no way...who would do that? I mean, that's an honorable endeavor, but...I don't know about this.


My incredulity grew as I read the comments below his post. Not one, not two, but countless other young people, and even some parents of those young people, were not only committing to join Sean in his incredible memorization endeavor, but were citing their other memorization goals and/or accomplishments. Two had embarked upon memorizing the entire New Testament. Another had just finished Revelation. Wow. My mind was (and still is!) blown. What are these people? Modern-day Waldenses?! Suddenly the scattered verses and few chapters I had memorized over the years seemed rather pitiful. I felt like a weak soldier in holey armour.

I grappled with the idea throughout the day. This is too extreme..., my thoughts echoed Sara's. But the next morning, I found myself turning to Acts chapter 1, "just to see." I was hooked. By breakfast, I had gotten 3 verses down. By the end of the day - 8. I can't believe I'm doing this, I pondered in amazement. And I got to thinking, If the Waldenses could do this centuries ago, what makes me think I can't? They didn't have any supernatural ability...just access to the power of the Holy Spirit - the same power I have access to. 


So, Sean Nebblett and company: I'm on board. :) Anyone else want to join?

For more details, memorization tips, and memorization/review schedule, visit Sean's blog: www.seannebblett.com.

If you just now heard about it, and you're thinking, "There's no way I can catch up," don't worry. :) There are plenty of review days in which to catch up, and besides, it doesn't matter even if you never catch up. The blessing is in memorizing, no matter when you start, no matter how much you memorize. The point is: just memorize. (But doing it with a group on a schedule does help tremendously.)

Pray for us!!!!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trespass Offering Box???


"Let the members of every family begin to work over against their own house. Let them humble themselves before God. It would be well to have a trespass offering box in sight, and a rule, to which all the household are agreed, that whoever speaks unkindly of another or speaks passionate words, shall drop therein a trespass offering of not less than ten cents [equivalent to about $3.10 today!]. In this way all would be on their guard against these wicked words, which do harm to their brethren, and much more to themselves. No man can of himself tame that unruly member, the tongue; but if you come to God with contrite hearts in humble supplication, in faith, He will do the work for you. By the help of God you must bridle your tongue; talk less, and pray more." {15MR 183}

I came across this quote while doing my sanctuary study recently, and it quite intrigued me! Does anybody actually do this??? I don't know of a single family who follows this practice. I wonder why... Have you ever heard of this idea of a "trespass offering box," or do you/your family have one? I'm actually thinking of making one myself...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Covenant of Salt


"And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." ~ Leviticus 2:13


I don't remember ever reading this before (although I'm sure I have), and it boggled my mind. Salt? Why did God tell the Israelites to salt all their offerings? There must be some significance to this that I'm missing. So off I went on my quest to discover the meaning behind salt, and the "salt of the covenant".


Here's what I found.

For centuries, in Arabic-speaking countries, salt has been a symbol of loyalty and friendship. The Arabic word for "salt" and for "compact" or "treaty" is the same. This probably comes from the ancient practice of  eating a meal together to seal a covenant - a tradition still practiced today among Arabic-speaking people. Since salt was considered an essential component of the daily food, the word became synonymous with hospitality and friendship. (Thus the Arabic expressions, "There is salt between us"; "He has eaten of my salt.")

Salt also is known to be a preservative.

So now with these properties of salt in mind, let's unravel the symbology. I like the point brought out in Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary: "Salt is required in all the offerings. God hereby intimates to them that their sacrifices, in themselves, were unsavoury. All religious services must be seasoned with grace." (Another verse comes to mind: "...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags....")

Elsewhere in Leviticus 2, the use of leaven, or yeast, is forbidden. Why? Usually in Scripture, leaven is a symbol of sin. Things that have been made with leaven tend to spoil quickly. Contrast that with the preserving properties of salt. Salt and leaven are opposites.

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary sums up the symbology of salt better than I ever could.
"The same reasons which led to the prohibition of leaven, recommended the use of salt--if the one soon putrefies, the other possesses a strongly preservative property, and hence it became an emblem of incorruption and purity, as well as of a perpetual covenant--a perfect reconciliation and lasting friendship. No injunction in the whole law was more sacredly observed than this application of salt; for besides other uses of it that will be noticed elsewhere, it had a typical meaning referred to by our Lord concerning the effect of the Gospel on those who embrace it (Mr 9:49, 50); as when plentifully applied it preserves meat from spoiling, so will the Gospel keep men from being corrupted by sin. And as salt was indispensable to render sacrifices acceptable to God, so the Gospel, brought home to the hearts of men by the Holy Ghost, is indispensably requisite to their offering up of themselves as living sacrifices."
 So, ceremonial salt can be summed up as representing an everlasting commitment of friendship between us and God, and His grace, which will keep us pure and undefiled from sin (Titus 2:11-14), and without which all our offerings and attempts at righteousness are insufficient. Wow!!! Who knew Leviticus could be so powerful? ^_^

Hot Tamales!

I did it. I finally did it. I made tamales.

I had been wanting to learn for months, but I kept putting it off for fear of doing something wrong, and I kept making silly excuses like, "I need a Mexican to teach me!" or "I can't find the right chili powder seasoning that the recipe calls for," or "It takes too long to make!" But finally I put all excuses aside and determined, "I'm gonna do this. Today."

And yes, it did take me 4 hours in the kitchen (including the steaming process), but that's only because there were several things that should have been pre-made and weren't (like the "Bulgur Burger" and tofu mayo). And I was probably being too perfectionistic (as usual) about assembling the tamales. But hey, I had fun. =)

And the end result? Perfection!!! ^_^ My family loved it, and Mom has decided we will definitely make these again. ;-) Recipe and pictures are below.



Amazing. Simply amazing. My mouth is watering again, even though I'm full. =P


Tamales 
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
half 8-oz. package dried corn husks
2 cups Masa Harina Flour
1 can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. water, or more as needed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. Chicken-Like Seasoning

Tamale Filling: 
1 cup burger replacement (recipe below)
2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. Homemade Taco Seasoning (recipe below, but actually I didn't add this - I just sprinkled in some cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt, and added a few Tbsp. of canned green chilies)
1/4 cup water, or more to moisten
Simmer Tamale Filling ingredients together until moisture is evaporated, then add 2 Tbsp. Simple Mayonnaise (recipe below).

1. Soak dried corn husks several hours (place in a bowl or bread pan and cover with water). Use a weight on top to keep them submerged. (I soaked mine overnight.)

2. Combine in a mixing bowl the masa flour and seasonings. Stir in coconut milk and water to form a soft dough. Divide into 12 balls. 
The dough should be soft, but not sticking to hands. Press some of it into a flat pancake in your hand; if it cracks and doesn't hold together, add a bit more water.

3. Place corn husks, one at a time, on a flat surface or plate. With your fingers, flatten dough on each husk 1/4 inch thick, leaving about a 1-inch margin at the bottom and sides. [I left about 3-4 inches at the bottom, and 1 inch from the top and sides.] Place 1-2 Tbsp. Tamale Filling lengthwise down the center. Lift long husk sides toward the center, gently sliding the dough away from the husk to cover the filling. Overlap and press edges of dough together, forming a tube of masa filled with burger. [I should have taken pictures of this process, but didn't think of it till later. =\ Sorry.]

4. Wrap the sides of the husk around the masa filling, then fold up the bottom. Fasten the bottom fold with a strip of corn husk. Don't tie it too tightly, though, or you'll squeeze the filling out! :)

5. Place tamales in a steamer basket in a kettle over boiling water. Cover and steam for 1 hour.

6. Serve hot in husks. (Remove the husk to eat the tamale.) Delicious topped with salsa and guacamole! =D These can also be frozen.
Tip: Oven reheating makes tamales dry out; it's best to reheat in a steamer or microwave.

Makes 12 tamales.

Bulgur Burger
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
1 cup bulgur wheat
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 cup walnuts, ground
1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp. powder)
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or increase salt to 1 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. Beef-Like Seasoning
8-oz. can tomato sauce

1. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until thick. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

2. Use as is, or place in a Teflon skillet over medium-high heat and brown, stirring now and then. If desired, add about 1 cup diced onion and brown with the bulgur wheat. [I've never done this. I just use it as is.]

Makes 3 cups.


Homemade Taco Seasoning
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
2 Tbsp. onion powder
3 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup California Chili

Mix together and store in an airtight container.

Makes 1/2 cup.


Simple Mayonnaise
(Taken from Seven Secrets Cookbook)
12-oz. box Mori-Nu Silken Soft Tofu, or 1/2 brick regular tofu plus 3/4 cup water
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-1/2 Tbsp. honey (or 2 Tbsp. sugar)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend for at least 1 minute until silky smooth. Chill to thicken.

Tip: Don't underestimate the importance of the right balance of lemon, sweetening, and salt. For low salt, cut salt, sweetener, and lemon juice in half.

Makes 3 cups.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Greatest Thing We Have to Offer

Here's a quote I was really blessed by today:

“The greatest thing we have to offer our people is not our education.  It is not our good ideas.  It isn’t even our gifts and abilities.  It is the fruit of the time we have spent with the Savior, the utterly unique and unparalleled thing that happens when we are simply in His presence.”  ~ B.  Patterson


What are our priorities today? What do we have to offer?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Out of Egypt...Into the Wilderness

"And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God." ~ Exodus 29:45,46


I love how God is always wanting to dwell among His people - to be familiar with us, to be part of us, to identify Himself with us. He doesn't hold Himself aloof, thinking Himself too exalted or too holy to contaminate Himself with the likes of us. Instead of us contaminating Him (which is basically impossible), He wants us to be transformed and purified by being in His presence! What a novel idea - instead of our dirt rubbing off on Him, His "cleanness" rubs off on us.

Then, "they shall know that I am the Lord their God" - there is no doubt, no questionings, no "I think" or "maybe". They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is real, and that He is the only reason they are freed from their bondage.

Now here's what I thought was really interesting. Why was Israel "brought forth out of the land of Egypt"? It was so "that I may dwell among them." In other words, God couldn't dwell among them while they were in Egypt. Why??

Exodus 20:2 calls Egypt "the house of bondage." Revelation 11:8 makes reference to Egypt representing spiritual Babylon. Time and time again throughout the Bible, Egypt is referred to as a place of worldliness, idolatry, and rebellion, and Israel was in bondage here - in bondage to sin. So long as we are in bondage to our sin, God cannot dwell among us, cannot dwell in us. We have to allow God to break our shackles, and lead us out of the world, out of the prison house of rebellion and idolatry, and into a wilderness experience with Him. A wilderness devoid of distractions and where there is no earthly support - where we must learn to trust in God and God alone for our sustenance, and where He can have our undivided attention to teach us His ways, and retrain our thoughts and habits. Then He can lead us to the Promised Land, once every longing for Egypt is silenced in our hearts. I want this experience!