Wonton Pizzas

Ever since Lacy has learned about her allergy to anything with yeast, whether it’s yeast extract, “nutritional yeast”, or full blown yeast, pizza delivery has been completely out of the picture.  We’ve had to make our own pizzas.  And yes, we’ve discovered some great baking soda pizza crusts to make, but fixing homemade pizza takes away a little bit of the charm of “pizza party!”  It’s such a hassle and it takes hours in the kitchen.

Sometimes our craving for pizza is worth all the work, but much of the time it’s not.  So we’ve discovered a great alternative.  It’s not only a good substitute for people with a yeast allergy, but it’s also great for diabetic family members, too!

WantonPizza-Ingredients

Makes 8 pizzas

Serves 2 people

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

16 wonton wrappers

16 thin slices of small sweet tomatoes (about 3 tomatoes)WantonPizza-TomatoSlices

1 cup mozzarella cheese

¾ cup Italian cheese

24 slices pepperoni

1 cup of your favorite store bought marinara sauce or pizza sauce

A cup of cool water

Other pizza toppings are optional (mushrooms, black or green olives, Canadian bacon, etc.)

Steps:

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

STEP 2: Heat the marinara or pizza sauce on the stove, stirring occasionally.

STEP 3: In a skillet, fry the pepperoni on High heat.  Don’t cook it with oil or water, the pepperoni has its own grease that it will cook in.  Cook each pepperoni for about 1 minute on each side.  This will free the juices and they will shrink and crisp up.

WantonPizza-Pepperoni

STEP 4: Spray 2 pizza pans or cookie sheets with olive oil cooking spray.

STEP 5: Place 8 wonton wrappers onto the cooking pans, about 1 inch apart.  It’s ok for the olive oil cooking spray to soak into the little wrappers.  Once cooked, the pizzas will pop up off the pan.

STEP 6: Place 1 or 2 tomatoes onto each wrapper and cover with a small pile of mozzarella.  If you don’t prefer tomatoes, you can place the pepperoni here instead.  Place 1 to 3 pepperoni slices, depending on how much flavor you like.  If you have more than 2 toppings chosen for your pizza, you can also add 1 more topping along with the pepperoni. Just remember, the more toppings you put into the pizza, the harder it will be for the wanton wrappers to hold everything.

WantonPizza-Layer1Wanton

STEP 7: Cook for 5 minutes.

STEP 8: Place another wrapper on top of each pizza, then take a spoon and dip it into water.  Line the edges of each wrapper with water to let the wrapper sink.  Push the wrapper edges down on top of the bottom wrapper edges, to seal the pizza “crust” closed.  If you filled the last layer too much, it will have trouble closing, and that’s ok.  Just push the edges closed as well as you can.

WantonPizza-SealedShut

STEP 9: Top the pizza with a spoonful of sauce, spreading the sauce evenly on the top.  Place a pile of Italian cheese to cover the sauce, and if the pizza was filled with tomatoes, then place 1-3 pepperonis onto the pizza.  You can also place other toppings on top with the pepperoni, if it fits.

WantonPizza-Layer2

STEP 10: Cook for 12 more minutes until the sides of the wrapper look slightly golden and you can hear the pizzas sizzling.

STEP 11: Serve the small wonton pizzas with salad.

WantonPizza-Finished

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Ying’s Sesame Chicken Stir Fry

Being a writer, it’s a pretty amazing experience to have a personal relationship with your own fictional characters.  “Personal relationship”- It sounds pretty crazy.  Schizophrenia or something, right?

It’s not exactly the same thing; it’s not like our characters have audible voices or visual appearances (or at least not until we draw them.)  It’s all just in the head; like a daydream, a conversation you have with yourself, except one side of the conversation is a fictional character that you’ve written into a story.  Kinda like in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, except if Walter Mitty had been imagining fictional characters instead of his boss or the co-worker that he liked.

Sometimes, the conversation you have with a fictional character can be quite enlightening.

Lacy and I have been cooking stir fry for years now, but we could never figure out the way to master the meal.  Chicken, tofu, etc… no matter what we tried… it tasted… “home-made”.  Which isn’t a bad flavor, not bad at all.  But not authentically Asian take-out.

“The trick is sesame oil,” we would always hear.  But we’ve tried sesame oil, and it’s never worked well in our meals.  We just… always seemed to do something wrong.  The flavors don’t mix well with… whatever else we do… I’m not really sure why.

But finally, one day, we had the kitchen completely to ourselves as we chopped the veggies and prepared the chicken for the stir fry (which was as simple as opening the cans and draining the liquid from it).  We were having fun, joking around in the kitchen, and “hanging out” with a character from one of our stories, one of our Asian characters.  While I was on one end of the kitchen chopping garlic and onion and the veggies for the recipe, Lacy decided to take the advice of Ying – our character – and experiment with the chicken and sesame oil.  She voiced the conversation out loud so that I could be a part of it. (Hence, the “having fun, joking around… and hanging out with a character” mentioned above.)

Lacy: Ying wants me to do something different with the chicken.

Kat: (sidetracked with chopping carrots) Oh….kay?

Ying: Please, please let me try it.  I promise it will taste good.

Lacy: (hesitant) I don’t know… we don’t like sesame oil Ying.  I don’t want to ruin the food for everybody.

Ying: Oh, please.  It won’t be ruined.

Kat: (stops chopping to think) Well…

Ying: Please.  I know how to do it. I cook like this all the time!

Kat: How different will it be?

Lacy: (still hesitant) Well it won’t be that different.  She just wants to put the sesame oil and maybe some soy sauce and ginger on the chicken before she puts it in the wok to cook.

Kat: Hmm…

Ying: (begging) Please.  I promise, it’ll be good.  Everyone will like it.

Kat: Well… what’s the harm?  It’s not that much different.  We’ll just do it this once, so… just let her do it.  (joking) Besides, she’s Chinese, she’d know how to do it better than we would, right?  (to Ying) Go ahead.

Ying: Yay!  Thank you so much, I won’t let you down.

Lacy: Ok. (shrugs) Let’s do this, Ying.

We were hesitant about changing our recipe, because we’ve never been able to make the sesame oil taste very good.  But Ying was so confident in her knowledge on cooking Chinese food, we decided to take her word for it and experiment with the food.

What resulted was… by far the best stir fry meal we had ever made.

Lacy wrote down the recipe, in the diction of her character Ying.  Here it is below:

Ying'sChicken-Ingredients

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: about 20 minutes

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Cabbage, about 4 cupscabbageHeadTip

Baby Carrots, about 4 cups

Celery, 4 large stalks

Broccoli, 1 (12 oz.) bag frozen

Onion, 1 sweet yellow

Garlic, 8-10 fresh cloves

Sesame Oil, 1 tablespoon

Ginger, 1 teaspoon ground + additional sprinkling

Canned Chicken, 2 (12.5 oz.) cans

Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon + additional sprinkling

Coconut Oil, 3 tablespoon

Coconut Sugar, 1 teaspoon

Red Wine Vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Steps:

YingsChicken-Rice

If you want to serve rice with your stir fry, the first step is to put the rice onto cook. Having a rice cooker makes this very easy. I recommend jasmine rice as a wonderful compliment to this meal, but you can cook brown rice if it’s your favorite.

Step 1 – Open cans of chicken and drain liquid. Place chicken in a bowl and stir in sesame oil and soy sauce (1 Tbsp.), then evenly stir in the ginger (1 Tsp.).

YingsChicken-ChickenStep 2 – Chop the vegetables. Cut the cabbage into large shreds, baby carrots into chopped pieces, and celery into crunchy slices. The onion should be diced, and the garlic also. This is all very good for your muscles and diet, to stand in kitchen and cut, except the crying part when you cut the onions, although some even consider that cleansing. I don’t know if I do.YingsChicken-ChoppedVeggies

Step 3 – The best pan to use with this recipe is a wok, because it is a deep pan that you can cook meat and vegetables in with a searing technique. Pour coconut oil into wok until the bottom is covered. Swish it around, to cover it more evenly. Add cut onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the aroma of the garlic fills the air and their colors change slightly (don’t burn it!). Drop chicken on top of the oil mixture, letting it stay on top, and cook on high heat until the garlic has browned, then stir, with a wooden spoon, the mixture together.YingsChicken-CookGarlicOnionsChicken

Step 4 –  Turn your oven onto “Broil” setting. Did you know that by putting the frozen broccoli under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes, you can remove the excess water and ice, and give the stir fry a better quality? That’s why you want the broiler on. Open the bag of broccoli and dump the florets into a cake pan, opening the oven and putting it under the heat. Watch it carefully because you don’t want the florets to get black on them; so in about 4 minutes, take it out of the oven and stir the florets, placing it back under the heat for another 2-3 minutes. When it’s finished heating, the broccoli will be less icy and a bit rubbery to the touch. That’s ok. You will cook it all the way in the stir fry.

YingsChicken-Brocolli

Step 5 – Keep searing the chicken on high heat. Juice is good. It keeps garlic and onion from burning. However, what you are trying to do is sear the meat until all the juice is gone and the chicken is being directly impacted by the heat, so you can brown the sides. Watch it carefully, letting it cook without stirring for about 3 minutes until you fold the chicken again, trying to turn it and let it cook on other sides. Cook until all the juice is gone and the meat is browned on different sides. (Some sides may be browner than others, and that’s good.) It’s about a total of 8 minutes cooking the chicken.

Juggle the task of checking the broccoli in the oven and chicken in the wok, keeping an eye on both while they’re cooking.

Step 6 – Add carrots to the chicken in the wok. This is a new layer, so begin with not stirring it in while you let it sit and cook for another minute on high. You can add more soy sauce if you want, and also, now it is time to season the stir fry with red wine vinegar and coconut sugar, because the carrots are delicious with their own seasoned taste.  After seasoning, stir the carrots into the chicken and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.YingsChicken-LayerCarrots

Step 7 – Add a new layer: celery. In this layer, you may add more ginger to your liking, sprinkling it in, to give the vegetables a bit more flavor, stirring the celery in after you season it. Cook for another 4 minutes on high heat.YingsChicken-LayerCelery

When you are able to slice a carrot with your wooden spoon, you are ready to move onto the next step.

Step 8 – Add broccoli on top. Do not stir it in. There should be enough liquid from the vegetables at this point, but if you need more (check the bottom to see) add more soy sauce. More ginger can be added (optional) in this layer, too, but only in a sprinkle. Cook for 3 more minutes on high heat.YingsChicken-Layerbroccoli

Step 9 –  In all it is about 10 minutes that you have been cooking the veggies. YingsChicken-CabbageAt last, add the cabbage layer and cook it only until the cabbage is slightly limp and less white in color, but it is best with a slight crunch which can only be kept with minimal cooking. Let the cabbage stay on top, and don’t stir until it’s almost ready to take off the heat. Salt and pepper this layer if you’d like to. I personally don’t like too much pepper but a little can add flavor. Add soy sauce, or take the soy sauce to the table for others to use it like they want. Some people like the saucy, salty taste while some the plainer flavor, I’ve learned.

Step 10 – Enjoy!

YingsChicken-Enjoy

 

The Methodist Church

“Methodism was founded by John Wesley, an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Wesley lived and died an Episcopalian and had no intention of organizing a new church. The Methodist Episcopal Church came into existence in this manner: John and Charles Wesley, with Whitefield and about a dozen other students at Oxford formed themselves into a society for the purpose of overcoming the formalism and ritualism of the Episcopal Church and to stimulate piety and spirituality among its members. Other societies were organized and because of their methodical manner of life they were called Methodists. The appellation obtained currency and upon the death of Wesley these societies banded together under a conference and became known as the Methodist Episcopal Church, although they for a time considered themselves a part of the Episcopal Church.” Churches of Today (p.57)

At the time of L.G. Tomlinson, the author of Churches of Today, there were nine English divisions of the Methodist church and fifteen different Methodist churches in America. The aspect that changed each church is not described, neither is it applied to the text of Churches of Today. When reading it I thought, there really needs to be a chart comparing the branches of Methodist churches and what they believe, but that was probably an impractical task for a book writer to do in the 1920’s. I am left scratching my head not knowing which issues are to be associated with which church. There’s a question that the Methodists answer: does it matter to God that churches separate and disjoin and branch away in their own independent communities? I think the Methodists are people who believe that God dwells across denominations and their churches are one of the many among the elect. Let us explore some of the issues presented by Tomlinson, along with commandments in the Bible itself, and discover if the Methodists adhere to these teachings:

Lord’s Supper (also called Holy Communion or The Eucharist in other divisions)

On page 65, Churches of Today states, “That it is not necessary to observe the Lord’s Supper each week. The Methodists commune once each quarter”. Tomlinson argues that the Methodists are wrong for not recognizing communion every week. It does not seem they do. I would recommend a person go to the Methodist churches in his or her area to judge the common practice of the individual body. The Free Methodists and the United Methodists, two separate bodies of Methodists, have their own teachings which are laid out in exhaustive texts, each known as the Book of Discipline. The instructions in their books lay out the style in which they perform the Lord’s Supper, and according to the 2011 edition of the Book of Discipline for The Free Methodist Church (USA):

“The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death. To those who rightly, worthily and with faith receive it, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ. The supper is also a sign of the love and unity that Christians have among themselves. Christ, according to His promise, is really present in the sacrament. But His body is given, taken and eaten only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. No change is effected in the element; the bread and wine are not literally the body and blood of Christ. Nor is the body and blood of Christ literally present with the elements. The elements are never to be considered objects of worship. The body of Christ is received and eaten in faith.”

They perform the ritual of communion in the Methodists’ known “methodical manner”, having the partakers reciting in unison a prayer led by an ordained pastor or elder before partaking of the eating of bread and wine/juice (some Methodists have wine, while others have grape juice. Did you know that Welch’s grape juice was originally made for Methodists who were uncomfortable with wine?)

Full Membership

Another point Churches of Today argues is the fact that in the Methodist church, there must be a 6 month probation of a new member before he or she can gain full membership status, and that is wrong. I noticed in my research, it appears the Free Methodist Church’s 2011 Constitution has no mention of a timeframe of how long members must be tested. That probably means they have updated their rules since Tomlinson wrote his book, which is a common practice for the church leaders to gather once every four years and make corrections to the Book of Discipline. It may be that the older arguments against the church are outdated because of the fact Methodists are always progressive about their ideals. Therefore, the Churches of Today book is not an updated view on modern day Methodists on their requirements for membership.

Baptism of Unbelievers

The Free Methodist church states, “Baptism is a symbol of the new covenant of grace as circumcision was the symbol of the old covenant; and, since infants are recognized as being included in the atonement, they may be baptized upon the request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training.” Following it states, “They shall be required to affirm the vow for themselves before being accepted into church membership.” It is true the Free Methodists themselves believe that infants are incapable of knowing they are members. But in the Methodist tradition, baptism is a reassurance for the parents who have anxiety for the child’s discipleship or acceptance into the church.  It is almost like a rite of passage which children are not denied from entering. It seems the Methodists still have the value that the church can baptize unbelievers, at least when it comes to infants, which on the Methodists’ behalf are not unbelievers, just like they are not believers either, because they are infants who have not yet decided. There is room for debate on this subject though since it’s so important.

Legalism

As I study it appears that legalism is the base of the Methodist church. Legalism is a word that is thrown around a lot by churches and many times it is used as a negative reason not to attend that church. Even the church I was raised in is known to be legalistic, and members leave as a result of the strict adherence of rules. The Methodist church may also fall in this trap, due to their dependence on liturgy and formal rituals. However, there are many points where Methodists are right, and they have successfully carried out the Great Commission for hundreds of years, as they are still surviving today. Their lampstand continues to burn, like in Revelation 2:1-7 to the church of Ephesus, Jesus Christ the star holder says:

“This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Ephesus:

“I am the one who holds the seven stars in my right hand, and I walk among the seven gold lampstands. Listen to what I say.

“I know everything you have done, including your hard work and how you have endured. I know you won’t put up with anyone who is evil. When some people pretended to be apostles, you tested them and found out that they were liars. You have endured and gone through hard times because of me, and you have not given up.

“But I do have something against you! And it is this: You don’t have as much love as you used to. Think about where you have fallen from, and then turn back and do as you did at first. If you don’t turn back, I will come and take away your lampstand. But there is one thing you are doing right. You hate what the Nicolaitans are doing, and so do I.

“If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will let everyone who wins the victory eat from the life-giving tree in God’s wonderful garden.” (CEV)

Reconciliation with God

Churches of Today states an argument I believe is essential in our spiritual walk, otherwise we will choose to fall from God because of our misunderstanding:

“XXIII. That Christ was in the world to reconcile His Father to us. (Art. 2, Book of Discipline)

“THE BIBLE:

  1. The exact opposite is true. Christ was in the world to reconcile the world to God (II Cor. 5:18.19; Rom. 5:10).”

“Death-Bed” Repentance

“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.

“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

John 3:4-8

Repenting of one’s sins and entering into heaven while on the deathbed is a universal debate. Pro debate argues God’s love and grace is willing to redeem one when dying. The anti debate argues Jesus strictly stated that “unless a person submits to…” the spirit and baptism, they cannot enter the kingdom of God, and that strict statement is final; there is nothing a sinner can do on his deathbed while preparing for his last breath to ensure he goes to heaven except wake up from his death, ask for water, and be baptized. It is a debate that continues. Who am I to have an opinion on such a grave matter? Therefore, I leave the debate to continue, while sharing the truth of John with you. If you don’t understand the above passage, I recommend finding other versions besides The Message. I simply chose it today because The Message is always approachable and interesting.

There are so many other debates that Christians can have. I merely touched on a few. But I sincerely hope it has done something for you. Strengthening the churches is my mission. Releasing the tension in our talk, I believe, will help us walk the walk. At least that is my prayer.

 

 

 

Papa’s Old Fashioned Movie Popcorn

Although she may argue when she sees this, I will admit that a lot of our cooking experience was taught to us by our mother.  She was our teacher in our home school years, so when Lacy took a “Math Chef” math class in 3rd grade, it began our learning how to cook.  Aside from the killer salad I learned how to make from watching my brother make the best salad I had ever tasted as he prepared for us to watch the Ten Commandments movie with him (This was before I could stand any type of salad), my mom is pretty much the one who taught me how to cook.  That and… well.  The old fashioned movie popcorn my dad proudly passed down to me from his father, who I called Papa.

Our family had a tradition of eating popcorn every Friday, whether we were watching a movie or not.   Even if we were doing our own separate things, Dad would always fix a pan of popcorn for us to take to our room.  I was so happy when he finally taught me how he did it.

Dad would actually take a bag of microwavable popcorn, cut it open and add some fresh kernals to the buttered kernels, and then pop the popcorn on the stove.  Since then, I’ve learned that coconut oil works just as well, and you don’t have to trouble yourself with cutting open a bag of microwave popcorn.

If you like the taste of the Orville microwavable popcorn (or any other brand!) but you want an extra freshness that makes the popcorn taste heavenly, feel free to try it out.  Just substitute the coconut oil and ½ of the popcorn kernels in the following recipe with the butter and kernels from the microwave bags.

Serves 6-8 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup popcorn kernels

2 tbsp coconut oil

salt

You will also need a medium or large pan with a lid.

Popcorn-IngredientsSteps:

STEP 1: Mash popcorn kernels into 1 Tbsp coconut oil until all the kernels are coated with the oil.

Popcorn-Oil&Kernels

STEP 2: Over medium-high heat, melt remaining coconut oil into a medium or large pan.

STEP 3: Drop one kernel into the melted coconut oil, and when the kernel begins to

Popcorn-cloudyKernelshow a translucent cloudy color, dump the rest of the kernels into the pan.  Yellow corn kernels will show the cloudy look better than the white kernels will.

STEP 4: Cover the pan with the lid, but keep the lid loose on the pan so that there will be room for the steam to escape the pan.  Very frequently, take the pan and spin the oil and kernels inside.  The movement will keep the popcorn from burning. (Be careful not to slosh the oil out of the pan though, because oil and fire does not mix well!)  If the popcorn takes forever to begin to pop, then you can heat the stove to high heat, but I typically keep the heat balanced between medium-high and high.Popcorn-WithLid

 

 

Get a very large bowl ready!  When the popcorn starts, you’ll be trying to keep up with the popping!  (Have you ever read the children’s book “Popcorn (A Frank Asch Bear Book)”?  It was my favorite storybook as a child, and that’s exactly what the popping popcorn experience reminds me of!)

PopcornBook

STEP 5: When you hear the popcorn begin to pop, then get ready!  Keep the pan moving; while you spin the contents you can fasten the lid, but whenever you stop make sure the steam can escape.  It’s tricky, and may be intimidating when you first start.  But experience makes it easier, and the fresh popped popcorn is worth the effort!

Popcorn-SlingingPopcorn

STEP 6: When the popcorn starts to fill up the pan, go ahead and open the lid just enough to pour some of the popcorn into your bowl.  Be quick because you need to put the popcorn back on the fire to keep the kernels popping.  And don’t be startled when a kernel suddenly pops in the bowl!  By the end of the night, you’ll probably have popcorn all over your stove, and maybe even covering your kitchen floor.

Popcorn-IntoBowl

STEP 7: About every other time you pour some popcorn into your bowl, sprinkle just a little bit of salt onto the popcorn.  It’s always helpful to have a helping hand to salt the popcorn for you, but if you don’t have help, you can easily just wait until the end to do this step if you forget to do it now.

STEP 8: As the popcorn reaches the bottom of the pan, be careful!  You don’t want to burn the popcorn!  You may want to cut the stovetop heat down a bit if the popcorn is popping too fast for you to keep up.Popcorn-Everywhere

STEP 9: Serve and enjoy!  Another tasty way to serve the popcorn is by sprinkling Parmesan on top.

The Presbyterian Church

Over the course of the week, Kat and I have been delving into the teachings, the doctrines, and the ways of the Presbyterian Church. Last study, Kat said that trying to understand the beliefs of the Baptists was a “maze of uncertainty”. The Baptists and Presbyterians both worship the Godhead, like other branches in Christianity, but each worship differently.

I promised two weeks ago I would study the book Churches of Today (by author L.G. Tomlinson) and update on what has changed since the book was written. Kat told me while fixing lunch, after having done research the modern way (online), that the book’s contents feel a bit outdated, but only in one real way: “Modern Christians have molded their words to counteract the image that other denominations stereotype them as.” In simpler words, churches have altered over time because of the arguments leaders have and the way culture has changed. The way the church is viewed by the members also has a great impact on what happens in the church to overturn (or not overturn) old traditions.

Origin


 

“…Calvin, however, never founded a distinct denomination, but he preached and put into practice the principles which underlie all Presbyterian Churches… The Westminster Association, which was in session from July 1, 1643, to February 22, 1649, framed the Westminster Confession of faith, which became the doctrinal foundation of English and American Presbyterianism. Francis Makemie, who is called the ‘Father of American Presbyterianism’, organized the Rehoboth Church in Maryland in 1684.” –Churches of Today

Not all Presbyterians strut their history on their church websites and informative sites. I doubt that every church to come across touts their Calvinistic views, or even knows who John Calvin is other than the fact their religion is based after his beliefs and they follow those beliefs to stay within their denomination. Many of the churches are much more focused on present day, as in their members, their outreach, and their good-standing ideals.

Sacrament: Lord’s Supper


Churches of Today says:

“PRESBYTERIANISM TEACHES:

“…the Lord’s Supper does not need to be observed weekly.”

Now, the great thing about the Bible is it never changes whether it’s 1927 or 2018 or 2029. The Word of God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let’s place the foundation of the Lord’s Supper by finding where it starts in the Bible, to see why it is a sacred practice:

The Old Testament “sacred bread” practice:

Leviticus 24:5-9 (CEV), “The Lord said, Use your finest flour to bake twelve loaves of bread about four pounds each, then take them into the sacred tent and lay them on the gold table in two rows of six loaves. Alongside each row put some pure incense that will be sent up by fire in place of the bread as an offering to me. Aaron must lay fresh loaves on the table each Sabbath, and priests in all generations must continue this practice as part of Israel’s agreement with me. This bread will always belong to Aaron and his family; it is very holy because it was offered to me, and it must be eaten in a holy place.”

The New Testament practice of the Lord’s Supper:

Acts 20:3-12 (CEV), ”Paul was about to sail to Syria. But some of the Jewish leaders plotted against him, so he decided to return by way of Macedonia. With him were Sopater, son of Pyrrhus from Berea, and Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica. Gaius from Derbe was also with him, and so were Timothy and the two Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. They went on ahead to Troas and waited for us there. After the Festival of Thin Bread*, we sailed from Philippi. Five days later we met them in Troas and stayed there for a week.

“On the first day of the week we met to break bread together. Paul spoke to the people until midnight because he was leaving the next morning. In the upstairs room where we were meeting, there were a lot of lamps... 

”...After Paul had gone back upstairs, he broke bread, and ate with us. He then spoke until dawn and left...”

*NOTE: The Festival of Thin Bread was a holiday observed by the Jews near Sabbath time.

The Presbyterians are always stressing individual conscience; to each his own when leading the church. The Lord’s Supper is one of the two Sacraments they follow (the other one baptism). I saw many saying they practice communion on a once per month basis, but there are variations in divisions.

Sacrament: Baptism


 

My findings were that Presbyterianism allows for a baptized believer of any denomination to come and partake in the blessings of their church, albeit that person was baptized in the name of God in three parts (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). They have infant baptism and adult baptism, either sprinkling or immersion, and have ordained leaders that take care of the ritual.

I wondered the question, “Does an infant who is baptized get re-baptized as an adult, or are they baptized once and that’s final? Does the church encourage believers who were baptized as infants another choice, or do they discourage any guilt that may happen?” I ask this question because I am a Christian who was baptized a second time; I did not feel secure in my original baptism at age 9. To this day, I do not know if I needed to be re-baptized to gain entrance into heaven. My family tells me I knew Jesus Christ the first time I was immersed in water, and I did not need a second baptism, but fear gripped my heart and once I was baptized again (after prayer and counsel) it hasn’t been an issue in my spiritual walk. If nothing else, it gave me assurance in my faith and for that I am thankful I did it. But this question for the sake of Presbyterians is on my mind: do Presbyterians feel assurance in their early baptism? My studies have uncovered the answer that one baptism is what the church believes is a good-standing ideal. Quoting Reverend Roy R. Bennett,

“Baptism was instituted by Christ as a perpetual ordinance until the end of the age. This sacrament signifies a person coming to faith and belonging to Christ and is to be administered only once. The sign used is water and is correctly administered by pouring or sprinkling. Salvation is not inseparably connected with baptism nor is the effectiveness of baptism tied to the time of its administration.”

Churches of Today argues against infant baptism:

“THE BIBLE:

“1. Without faith it is impossible to come to God (Heb. 11:6)

“2. Faith cometh by hearing (Rom. 10:17)

“3. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16)…

“4. There is not one mention of a child ever being baptized. The household converts were preached to, showing they were old enough to hear.”

Presbyterianism doesn’t really teach that infants are baptized because they are sinners, need salvation, and understand their need for repentance, in fact, infant baptism is almost more for the parents than for the child. It is a sign that the church and God approves of the baby, and they consider it a seal of God’s faithfulness and love, at least according to the rhetoric used on church websites.

However, it is true that infant baptism was a practice established after the apostles’ early church. It was not a practice started by Jesus Christ. Some argue that Jesus holding the children, accepting them, and saying not to turn the little ones away is validation to keep infant baptism in practice.

Predestination


 

Predestination is a debate many religions hold, not only Christianity. Much of the debate in the Christian realm comes from the teachings of John Calvin, also known as Calvinism or Calvinistic views. The Westminster Statement of Faith (the teachings upheld by traditional Presbyterian church leaders) holds to the view that some persons are predestined to receive God’s grace, while others are predestined to damnation, God having not only foreseen it but also purposed it. These views come from the Bible — yet denominations that are anti-Calvinistic argue that it is perverting Scripture to say that we do not have a personal choice, and that God destined and made us either for glory or ruin.

A concern I have is whether Presbyterians believe that God predestined souls to come to him depending on the person. Many of their modern churches focus so much energy on individual conscience, diversity, and allowance of choice-making. Many of those churches hold liberal/progressive values (in the political sense) like pro-choice women’s rights, which marriage partner, school choices, etc.  But if our choices are not a part of our destination (meaning our choices do not change God’s plan for our eternal life), then why make choices at all? If that were the case, we would simply wait for the Lord to tell us whether we were chosen, and if we were invested in the journey of winning God’s trust (if indeed it could happen), maybe we would try to live righteously to prove that we belong to him; but if the predestination statement means what I think it means, it could also be true that a righteous person who prays and follows God in every way would live their whole lives, never being heaven-bound; or is it more, they would never have felt the desire to pray in the first place, because they were destined for hell and never got the power of the Spirit within?

The paradigm of Calvinism is a bit confusing. Again, “a maze of uncertainty” as you try and understand the rhetoric of the church.

Romans 8:9-39 (bold-type added by me) tells the truth for us in detail:

“You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. People who don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them don’t belong to him. But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. Yet God raised Jesus to life! God’s Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit.

”My dear friends, we must not live to satisfy our desires. If you do, you will die. But you will live, if by the help of God’s Spirit you say ‘No’ to your desires. Only those people who are led by God’s Spirit are his children. God’s Spirit doesn’t make us slaves who are afraid of him. Instead, we become his children and call him our Father. God’s Spirit makes us sure that we are his children. His Spirit lets us know that together with Christ we will be given what God has promised. We will also share in the glory of Christ, because we have suffered with him.

“I am sure that what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us. In fact, all creation is eagerly waiting for God to show who his children are. Meanwhile, creation is confused, but not because it wants to be confused. God made it this way in the hope that creation would be set free from decay and would share in the glorious freedom of his children. We know that all creation is still groaning and is in pain, like a woman about to give birth.

”The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it.

”In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people. We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose, and he has always known who his chosen ones would be. He had decided to let them become like his own Son, so that his Son would be the first of many children. God then accepted the people he had already decided to choose, and he has shared his glory with them.

”What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else? If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God’s right side, speaking to him for us.  Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? It is exactly as the Scriptures say,

‘For you we face death
     all day long.
 We are like sheep
 on their way
     to be butchered.’

“In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Westminster Statement of Faith


 

The main reason why Presbyterianism is different than other Christian faiths is for the Westminster Statement of Faith. This document (founded in 17th century England) was not meant to replace the Bible, neither does it hold the authority of the Bible in their view. Instead, it was a document made to accompany the Bible: maybe a little explaining, a lot directing, and a lot answering questions… also elaborating on the original sacred text, the Bible. Their statement of faith is not unlike “The Baptist Faith and Message” which is the guide of Baptist churches, but also each a very unique set of words. To have a summary on the basics, I found this document, A Summary of the Westminster Statement of Faith by Reverend Roy R. Bennett, to be very helpful as a reminder of what the long text had.

In a personal story, I had a close relationship with someone who had trouble with Christianity and the dogmatic principles they advocate. It stifled her love for God. She no longer believes. Her fall from faith was due to the division between Christians. Why did that have to be? She thought it was better to leave God instead of feel pain and misery. What could the churches do differently to help her understand? Give her the truth about Jesus Christ. Why did they not “snatch her from the fire” while she had the chance? They let her fall through the cracks. Did I personally do enough? These convictions still lay close to my heart.

A soul’s destiny is the hugest subject that the Christian faith is about. How we define sin, faith, salvation, baptism, and fellowship is everything, and how we reach others depends on everything we teach them. What I said and what I did that may have caused a rift in my friend’s salvation is everything, and for that I’m sorry. To her, I betrayed friendship, becoming another Christian bigot, hurting our love. My words taught Jesus, but my insistence that she was in sin taught her low self-esteem, when in reality, the first sin was in the church. That is why we should be careful what we teach.

After reading Roy R. Bennett’s summary of the Westminster, it concerns me again what Presbyterians believe about our destiny (“God’s Eternal Decree”). Take the book of Job for example. It takes a trained eye to read the whole text of Job with the full speeches of Job, his friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar), the mysterious man Elihu, and God himself, the Almighty, and understand the meaning. But the Lord is straightforward when he says to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” God spoke personally to Job’s friend and confirmed their speeches were wrong and deserving of wrath, and yet if Job was willing to sacrifice for them, which in Job 42:9-10 it confirms Job prayed for them and the Lord accepted his prayer; Job was their mediator, standing before God on their behalf; they were forgiven because of their obedience to God. This proves that their action was capable of altering the outcome. Someone can argue, “God knew Eliphaz would obey, and so he was one of the ‘elect’ – that is why God says that he will not deal with him and the others according to their folly.”

However, take King Solomon as another example. In 1 Kings 11, verses 1 through 6, it says (eloquently in the VOICE, italics added by the VOICE):

King Solomon loved countless women from other countries—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites—as well as Pharaoh’s daughter.

“All the countries of the king’s lovers were heathen countries that the Eternal One had warned the Israelites about: “Do not mingle with them, and do not allow them to mingle with you. They will corrupt you and lead you away from Me. They will seduce your hearts to follow their own gods.” But Solomon clung to these lovers. He had 700 royal wives, as well as 300 mistresses. And his wives and mistresses seduced his heart away from God.

Solomon followed the Lord during youth and middle age, but when Solomon was an old man, these women seduced him into following other gods. His heart was led astray and no longer completely belonged to the Eternal One, his True God, as his father David’s heart did. Solomon pursued Ashtoreth (the Sidonian goddess) and Milcom (the abomination of the Ammonites). Solomon abandoned his lifelong integrity and committed evil in the eyes of the Eternal. He did not follow Him completely, as his father David had.”

I will say, in the Summary of the Westminster Statement of Faith, in section 4, it says regarding creation, Adam, and Eve, “God endowed this first couple with the ability to obey His command as well as the freedom of will to choose otherwise, making them capable of a fall.” It seems the Presbyterians do confirm free will, and they do acknowledge the need for obedience, and it may not be an issue to argue. Their doctrines do make the Bible appear contradictory at times, which other denominations do not experience with their faith journey. The Westminster Statement of Faith accentuates certain verses in ways that make the Bible enigmatic and hard to grasp.

What it says about Jesus Christ seems completely Biblical (meaning they accept Jesus as Lord, part of the Triune God, and Savior and Redeemer, and he was born to virgin Mary and was connected to the Father God during his walk on earth) and that is a truth worth celebrating.

 

The Baptist Church

“So much confusion exists today because of division that the honest seeker after truth finds himself in the maze of uncertainty.” (Quote from Churches of Today, by L.G. Tomlinson.)

I find myself here, in the maze of uncertainty, as I emerge from researching the beliefs of the Baptist church.  Fortunately for me, I believe Galatians 2:17-21 as it reads “If we are those who desire to be saved from our sins through our union with the Anointed One, does that mean our Messiah promotes our sins if we still acknowledge that we are sinners? How absurd! For if I start over and reconstruct the old religious system that I have torn down with the message of grace, I will appear to be one who turns his back on the truth.  But because the Messiah lives in me, I’ve now died to the law’s dominion over me so that I can live for God.  My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me-we live in union as one!  My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!  So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something minor or peripheral.  For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, the Anointed One would have died for nothing.” (TPT)

Baptists allow for every person to have their own interpretation of the Bible, so everyone will have a differing slant to their belief in salvation and grace and what God requires, but typically they will follow a statement of convictions which summarizes their beliefs, known as “The Baptist Faith and Message”.  The differences and similarities are all seen when a general search is done on the Internet.  One example is that some Baptist readings state that The Lord’s Supper should be taken quarterly or yearly, but some Baptists online also argue the case that it should be observed every week.

Looking at the websites of some Baptist churches all around the world, it can be seen that they are very direct in what they believe.  They are all very organized.   They know what they believe, and they list it out for visitors to see.


God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit

Baptists believe that God is the one true God, the creator of the universe, and that he shows himself through the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, he lived a sinless life, he died on a cross and then was resurrected 3 days later, and that His blood washes away the sins of humanity. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father, God, and acts as a mediator, an intercessor.  We are allowed a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and don’t need the priests of the old law any longer because as believers in Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit who fills us and makes us holy temples of God.

This is true, as you can see in the following scriptures.

God the Father

"...being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny.  For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father.  And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!"   Ephesians 4:4-6 (TPT)
"So Jesus said, 'I speak to you timeless truth. The Son is not able to do anything from himself or through my own initiative.  I only do the works that I see the Father doing, for the Son does the same works as his Father.  Because the Father loves his Son so much, he always reveals to me everything that he is about to do. And you will all be amazed when he shows me even greater works than what you've seen so far! For just like the Father has power to raise the dead, the Son will raise the dead and give life to whomever he wants.  The Father now judges no one, for he has given all the authority to judge to the Son... I speak to you an eternal truth: if you embrace my message and believe in the One who sent me, you will never face condemnation, for in me, you have already passed from the realm of death into the realm of eternal life!  ...For the Father has given the Son the power to impart life, even as the Father imparts life.  The Father has transferred to the Son the authority to judge, because he is the Son of Man."  John 5: 19-22, 24, 26-27 (TPT)

Jesus the Son

 "Throughout our history God has spoken to our ancestors by his prophets in many different ways.  The revelation he gave them was only a fragment at a time, building one truth upon another.  But to us living in these last days, God now speaks to us openly in the language of a Son, the appointed Heir of everything, for through him God created the panorama of all things and all time.  The Son is the dazzling radiance of God's splendor, the exact expression of God's true nature - his mirror image!  He holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word.  He accomplished for us the complete cleansing of sins, and then took his seat on the highest throne at the right hand of the majestic One.  He is infinitely greater than angels, for he inherited a rank and a Name far greater than theirs.  For God has never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: "You are my favored Son, today I have fathered you." And this: "I will be the Father to him, and he will be the Son to me."  Hebrews 1:1-5 (TPT)
"He longs for everyone to embrace his life and return to the full knowledge of the truth.  For God is one, and there is one Mediator between God and the sons of men - the true man, Jesus, the Anointed One.  He gave himself as ransom-payment for everyone.  Now is the proper time for God to give the world this witness." 1 Timothy 2:4-6 (TPT)

Holy Spirit

"But when the Spirit of Christ empowers your life, you are not dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit.  And if you are not joined to the Spirit of the Anointed One, you are not of him.  Now Christ lives his life in you! And even though your body may be dead because of the effects of sin, his life-giving Spirit imparts life to you because you are fully accepted by God.  Yes, God raised Jesus to life! And since God's Spirit of Resurrection lives in you, he will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that breathes life into you!"  Romans 8:9-11 (TPT)
"We carry this confidence in our hearts because of our union with Christ before God. Yet we don't see ourselves as capable enough to do anything in our own strength, for our true competence flows from God's empowering presence.  He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on an entirely new covenant.  Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit.  The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life." 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (TPT)

God-Inspired Truth

Baptists believe that the Bible is the absolute truth, and it must be obeyed.  They do not rely on creeds or doctrines to tell them how to act, and they believe that any doctrine written by man can – even subconsciously – replace the laws of God.

"Every Scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness." 2 Timothy 3:16 (TPT)
"For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword.  It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet!  It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts.  There is not one person who can hide their thoughts from God, for nothing that we do remains a secret, and nothing created is concealed, but everything is exposed and defenseless before his eyes, to whom we must render an account."  Hebrews 4:12-13 (TPT)

The two ordinances- Believer’s Baptism and The Lord’s Supper

Baptists believe there are 2 things ordained by God: baptism and the Lord’s supper.  To the modern Baptist, it is a sin for a believer in Christ to not be baptized or partake of the Lord’s supper. They are symbols of a believer’s faith: Baptism symbolizes the believer’s death to sin in comparison to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; The Lord’s Supper is a memorial to Christ’s death, and also symbolizes the believer’s anticipation to His coming again.

Baptism

To a Baptist, baptism is the step into a membership with the church community. To become a member of the church and receive the privileges given to the community of believers, a person must be baptized into the church.

"Peter replied, 'Repent and return to God, and each one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus, the Anointed One, to have your sins removed.  Then you may take hold of the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For God's promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and your families, for those yet to be born and for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' ... Those who believed the word that day numbered three thousand.  They were all baptized and added to the church." Acts 2:38-39, 41 (TPT)

Lord’s Supper

Baptists also believe in the importance of memorializing Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross with the Lord’s Supper. You can read in Galatians 3:21-25 the importance of Jesus’s death. “Since that’s true, should we consider the written law to be contrary to the promise of new life?  How absurd!  Truly, if there was a law that we could keep which would give us new life, then our salvation would have come by law-keeping.  But the Scriptures make it clear that since we were all under the power of sin, we needed Jesus!  And he is the Savior who brings the promise to those who believe. So until the revelation of faith for salvation was released, the law was a jailer, holding us as prisoners under lock and key until the “faith,” which was destined to be revealed, would set us free.  The law becomes a gateway to lead us to the Messiah so that we would be saved by faith.  But when faith comes the law is no longer in force, since we have already entered into life.”  (TPT)

"Those who believed the word that day numbered three thousand.  They were all baptized and added to the church.  Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles.  Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. " Acts 2:41-42 (TPT)

Stewardship

Baptists believe that because God’s grace is undeserved, believers in Christ should recognize their duty to share the gospel with the world.  They must serve God in the form of living sacrifices, by serving others in brotherly love.

"And as a spiritual father to you, I will gladly spend all that I have and all that I am for you!  If I love you more, will you respond by loving me less?"  2 Corinthians 12:15 (TPT)
"All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had.  Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them.  Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another's homes to celebrate communion.  They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility.  They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life."  Acts 2:44-47 (TPT)

Separation between the church and civil governments:

Baptists believe that the government which the church is under should offer religious freedom and protection to the believers, but that in return, the members of the church should respect and obey the laws that the government puts into place.  The government should not be in subjection to the church.  With that said, the government should keep in place certain morals in accordance with God’s laws.  (For example, laws against murdering.)  Believers in the nation’s government should always, through prayer, seek peace with other nations.  They should never push their religion off onto the people who they care for but allow freedom in their country. Baptists believe in Hell.  Believers will not fall from God’s grace, but one can see a believer’s true faith through his stewardship.

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God's spiritual child and has been fathered by God himself. And everyone who loves Father God loves his children as well. This is how we can be sure that we love the children of God: by having a passionate love for God and by obedience to his commands." 1 John 5:1-2 (TPT)
"'Show me one of the Roman coins.' So they brought him a silver coin used to pay the tax.  'Now, tell me, whose head is on this coin and whose inscription is stamped on it?'


'Ceasar's,' they replied.

Jesus said, 'Precisely, for the coin bears the image of the emperor Caesar. Well, then, you should pay the emperor what is due to the emperor. But because you bear the image of God, give back to God all that belongs to him.'"  Matthew 22:19-21 (TPT)

Pastors and Deacons

Baptists believe that men are placed over the church to advise the members.  These men must match the standards expressed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.  Once a believer becomes a pastor, he earns the privilege to admonish the church and lead it into God’s grace.  Deacons are civil servants, serving the members of the church with God’s guidance through the Bible.

"For those who serve in this way will obtain an honorable reputation for themselves and a greater right to speak boldly in the faith that comes from the anointing of Jesus!"  1 Timothy 3:13 (TPT)

As a Christian based after the Church of Christ, I don’t agree with everything that I read from the Baptist websites.  Many of them spoke truths; they all have the right intentions: to live under the forgiveness granted to us by our faith and obedience in Jesus Christ, spoken of in the Bible.                                                                                                                                             

Introduction into Book Study

A terrific fact about the deep library of old-fashioned books in my home is that there is much to be read and much to be learned, deriving from a place besides the computer’s internet. Although the internet is a vast resource of free information, facts are sometimes cheap and lies are spread without realization. It’s almost inevitable to get lost in a sea of shallow reading, and we seem to use Wikipedia as the master source. It’s almost like we (those existing in the digital sphere) read an article or source of information, and double-check those facts by going to the “common book of knowledge” that Wikipedia is, where we compare research there. We lean on Wikipedia as stability in that sea of shallow reading. The mental backbone of our minds: if Wikipedia has it, the facts are valid or probable.

So be it. It is what it is. But today, I have decided to “go astray” from that mainstream view we hold dearly by returning to the pages of a book with a 1927 copyright. It’s titled “Churches of Today”, by L.G. Tomlinson, which ironically, is nearly 100 years of yesterdays ago, making it no longer today, yet the book lives on addressing the exact problems we still have. Isn’t that the definition of a classic: a book that stays helpful after the test of time?

The problem we face today and in the day of L.G. Tomlinson is that there are so many branches of Christianity, it seems no outsider (and even insiders have this problem!) can understand the raw truth of the Bible, found in a variety of churches, in a variety of arguments and views of the same gospel, without danger of being swallowed in false teaching; in the worst case, an outsider will face damnation – in the darkness – because he “never saw the light”.

Quoting the beginning of the foreword, we get to know L.G. Tomlinson’s voice:

“There is always a reason for the writing of every book. Indeed, if there is no good, impelling reason for writing a book it had better be left unpenned since the world is already full of good books and we find time to read so few of them.”

Such a well selected choice of words already. Reading further leads us to the number one purpose for his writing:

“To help those who are confused and lost in the way to find the light. So much confusion exists today because of division that the honest seeker after truth finds himself in the maze of uncertainty. This church says, ‘This is the way to believe and practice;’ that church says, ‘Our way is the right one to follow in matters of faith and discipline;’ still another says, ‘Neither of these ways is apostolic, come with us.’ To further add to his difficulty, the earnest seeker hears others say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t make any difference; one is just as good as another; all roads lead to the same place.’ This book is an honest effort to assist such persons to diligently compare the different churches with the Bible and thereby find which one follows the straight and narrow way that leads home, even though there be only a few that find it.”

What I will be doing with my multi-week book study is discussing the same things the author of Churches of Today discusses; I will use modern means of study via the internet to update the words in the book, but as I stated before I am not going to use Wikipedia; my study will be “new” and different from our already established mental backbone. Instead I will be researching individual church websites both locally and around the world for my sources on what denominations believe in modern words.

Our first study will be jumping to the 6th chapter on the Baptist church, what they believe and how their doctrine looks in light of Scripture. I believe the Baptist church is a great place to begin our study, because it has withstood a fair reputation and is a bit populistic in belief, meaning the doctrine of the Baptists are among the most approachable and commonly comprehended.

To set it straight, the main reason why I make this book study is for the purpose of celebrating virtues, while accepting  faults found in each denomination. Even in Christ’s churches, we cannot find perfection, nor will we find a church completely flawed if Jesus is Lord and Savior. Explanatorily, in Mark 9:38-50, Jesus Christ tells his disciples not to allow any person trusting in Jesus Christ to stumble, and to cut off any part of you that causes sin; he says that after one of his disciples judge another person over being different or “not one of them”. His disciple John noticed someone performing miracles in Jesus’s name, but that person was an alien to the disciples’ cause. That’s when Jesus warned strongly to not stop others from preaching the gospel and to “live in peace with each other”. That is the backdrop to my desires of celebrating and accepting the virtues and faults of Christians from all walks of life.

Nonetheless, the Bible tells us that God’s Word is absolute truth (Psalm 119:159-160, 2 Timothy 3:16-17), men and women are flawed beings in need of salvation (Hebrews 7:28, Romans 3:23), and doctrines are mankind’s corruptible attempts at obtaining righteousness (Colossians 2:20-23). Therefore, I will begin the study in a storm of joy, caution, consideration, and bewilderment at all that brings us closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.

1st Study: The Baptist Church

2nd Study: The Presbyterian Church

3rd Study: The Methodist Church

4th Study: The Anglican Communion (discontinued due to personal troubles)

The Cheesy Cheese Geewls’ Mac & Cheese

Lacy and I had a dinnertime nickname when we were children.  We were called the “Cheese Geewls” (pronounced g-EE-uls, as in Gasoline, Sealion, & Ultimate) which was really just a silly way of saying “cheese girls”.  The truth is, we loved cheese as kids.  Whenever we had spaghetti for supper (which was a favorite meal that the whole family could… somewhat agree to love) I would eat my spaghetti, plain with grated Kraft Parmesan Cheese (The Ragu sauce that was served had little pieces of onion that ruined the sauce for me) and I would also serve myself a little wooden condiment bowl full of Parmesan cheese to eat by itself.  Of course, as with everything, I was picky about my cheese.  No Cheese-its or any other processed cheese, please!

When I got old enough to experiment in the kitchen, Mac & Cheese was an easy meal that I made an effort to learn.  After years and years of cooking it for the family, I’ve finally gained enough confidence in my mac & cheese technique to share it with others.

MacCheese-Ingredients

Serves: 6-8 people

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

5 cups Elbow Noodles

4 Tbsp. Butter

1 1/2  cup milk

¼ cup pasta water

1 Cup mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cup fiesta blend cheese

1/3  cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/3  cup Italian cheese

2 cup cheddar cheese

2 oz. Velveeta

Pepper

Steps:

STEP 1: Cook 5 cups of the elbow noodles in a large pan, following the instructions on the package or box.

STEP 2: While the noodles are cooking, fill a medium pan with the butter, milk, and cheeses. Also, while the noodles are boiling, take a spoon or ladle and take some of the white foamy water, putting it into the cheese sauce as well.  Don’t take too much because you don’t want to flavor the cheese with it; just take enough for the nutritions.

STEP 3: Cook the sauce, stirring often so the cheese and milk won’t burn, until the cheese is all melted and very runny.  This is what will prevent your Mac & Cheese from being stringy.

CheeseSauce

MacCheese-CookedNoodles

STEP 4: After the noodles have been cooked, drained, and placed back into the pan that they were cooked in, pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and stir it in until all the noodles are covered with cheese.  Sprinkle pepper over the mac and cheese and stir it in, too.  Sprinkle a little more pepper on before serving.

 

MacCheese-CheeseOnNoodles

STEP 5 (Optional): For a more formal version of this recipe to take to pot lucks or parties, pour the mac and cheese into a casserole dish with a lid and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, covered.  I love baked mac and cheese, even though I don’t fix it this way because it’s such a quick and easy meal without this last step, and also the rest of the family prefers the mac and cheese when its not baked.

STEP 6: Serve the cheesy macaroni with a delicious freshly chopped salad!

MacCheese-Plate

Reality Check

An important topic came up in this weekend’s Sunday morning conversation.  “Your generation needs a reality check.  Kids believe in playing games all day.” The topic was idols and the generation’s dependency on them.

Let me quote Isaiah 44:9-10, 15-17, and 19, an explanation of what God thinks of idols: “All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless.  Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing?…It is man’s fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill.  He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down and says, ‘Save me; you are my god.’ …No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” (NIV)

Isaiah tells us that the items themselves are worthless.  We needn’t defend them against harsh words.  They aren’t sin. But at the same time, they can lead to sin.   Anything that you love unconditionally which gets in the way of your service for God is considered an idol.  If you love something too much to set aside when God calls, you should check your priorities.  That’s an idol: not the object itself, but your level of respect for it.

Anything can be idolized.  Do you love something that’s important to you? Ask God in humble prayer if its ok to feel your heart’s involvement.  Promise your loyalty to Him.  Check your life.  What’s important to you?  Do you love video/computer games, politically pushed values, or hyped movies? Youtube? Is personal nit-picks, team loyalty, or lucrative money-spending of high caliber in your life? Do you consider PhDs, pledges from trendy celebrities and TV publicity, or searches on the internet as a reliable source of information?  Listen for God’s answer: does any of this get in the way of God’s purpose for you?

2018 Begins with the Flu

It’s the beginning of a new year!  My wishes and prayers are that all of you have a blessed 2018.

The first Sunday of the year should be encouraging and bright with hope, but this year many people are suffering from the flu; some cases are even severe and life threatening.  Hospitals are having to turn people away, or set up tents because there are so many people who have caught the flu.

Let’s pray for all the people who are at home or in the hospital suffering from symptoms, and pray for the serious cases to be healed.

Also pray for Lacy, our father, and our little brother Jake, who’s come down with the flu; and for my health and Mom’s, so that we may stay free from the illness, and also that we stay strong enough to tend to the others as they get better.

I pray that God grant you with wisdom, peace, and love in the new year, and that He shows you His amazing mercy and power as you live each new day.