Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride Desiring God 2010 National Conference

Here is something to start off your morning... a message from Francis Chan that he gave this past weekend at the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I woke up this morning still thinking about it and challenged by it in my morning devotions (ironically on the self-centeredness of Saul). Anyway, if you feel like meditating on 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 and growing a heart for your brothers and sisters, you better listen.

Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride on DesiringGod.org

via Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride Desiring God 2010 National Conference Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God - Desiring God.

Delicious Adventures!

Last night, we experimented with a recipe from my Good Housekeeping Healthy Choices cookbook. The recipe was for tortilla pizza, but we transformed it into a lasagna and it was so wonderfully delicious! My roomie is a veggie (my affectionate term for the vegetarians in my life), so I'm always on the lookout for recipes that we would both like. This one turned out to be the BOMB! Then, for dessert, I made baked apples with a recipe from the same cookbook in an effort to welcome fall to the rain and sun of this country that knows not the four seasons.

Tonight, I'm having my high school girls over for movies and THIS incredible apple cinnamon cupcake dessert! Doesn't it look amazing?

Here's the description from the website:

Shredded apple replaces some of the oil and keeps the cake moist in these cinnamon-spiked cupcakes. There is a generous amount of fluffy marshmallow frosting to mound or pipe on top for a festive look.

via Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Marshmallow Frosting.

We'll see how it turns out!

****UPDATE**** Here is the result of several hours in a warm kitchen... lots of laughter... and maybe a few foibles. The recipe is posted below the slideshow.

[slideshow]

To make the CUPCAKES

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded peeled apples
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apples (I used a baked apple leftover from yesterday to save on cost)
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, plus 3/4 cup, divided (I used 1/2 cup loosely packed for less sweet)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk (I made my own with milk and vinegar)

FROSTING

  • 1 cup light brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons dried egg whites (I used 2 egg whites)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish

PREPARATION

  1. To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cupcake liners or coat with cooking spray (I made about 17 cupcakes with this recipe)
  2. Combine shredded and dried apples in a bowl with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside. Beat oil and the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined. Add vanilla, increase speed to high and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Stir in the reserved apple mixture until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. (The cups will be full.)
  5. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before frosting.
  6. To prepare frosting: Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Combine 1 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool. Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle cinnamon on top, if desired.

rain, rain, it will stay... until January!

As much as we would like the rain to go away, this news article says it will stick around until January. The ground is already saturated and all the excess water makes a treacherous course down the mountains and hills, causing landslides in its wake. Much of the coffee and sugar cane crop has suffered terribly due to the rain, so this prescription of rain until January is more than bad news.

Read this article and join me in prayer for the people here in Honduras.

Click here for the article. You will need to translate the page (unless you are fluent in Español), so if you are using a browser capable of translating like Google Chrome, that is best.

These pictures below are from the article and show some of the patterns and movement. Don't ask me to explain them... I am just relaying the information!

Honduras is affected by the phenomenon of rain has already happened in the 50's.

A phenomenon called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has distorted the thermohaline circulation and is producing more rain than they should.

The country is practically in the line of hurricane formation and climate affect Pacific and Atlantic.

God, my place - article by Andrée Seu

This morning as I read this article, I was reminded that our comfort and refuge and peace is not a place in the distant future, but a promise for right here and now. Be encouraged today by Seu's words and remember that God invites you into His presence to experience His joy and perfect peace. After Hurricane Matthew loomed on the north coast this past weekend, a safe place seems much more urgent. In God's grace, Tegucigalpa escaped with only rain, but our brothers and sisters in the North are feeling the repercussions of the tropical storm. Always - in times of uncertainty and in times of great promise - we will find a welcome location. Amen?

She writes,

Being “in Christ” was once an abstract doctrine. No more. It is a location. And when I obey His commands, those are doorways that bring me deeper into Him. The deeper into Him, the greater the experience of peace and joy. “Abide in me,” He says, and I had thought it was a metaphor, when all along it was a mystery.

Here's the full article: God, my place.

bursting with joy

Cover of "The Four Loves"

I'm sitting here, under my tree, with books stacked high to my right and my heart full to overflowing with thanksgiving. I just spent way too much time looking at old blog posts trying to find some musings from the book, "The Four Loves" by C.S. Lewis, but I came up empty-handed.

I'll have to rely on my memory to relate the bliss I'm feeling and how I think Lewis explains it best.

It is only fitting, I might add, that I'm comfortable under my tree, where roots are stretching out underneath, reminding me where I find life.

Many of you are probably well aware of Lewis's famous book on the four different types of love, but I want to just skim the surface of what has me flying so high tonight: friendship. Lewis suggests (apologies for my crude summary) that friendship draws out God-designed parts of us that we never knew we were hiding. In community, we are able to watch God reveal Himself in us because of the way we are made to live in community together.

Isn't that magnificent?

Today is a repeat of so many other times in my life where I realize there is joy bubbling up in my soul that is set free when I place myself in community. It's like a pen full of words that finds paper or a box full of seeds that finds ground.

Community is a place God has specifically designed to reflect Him and point to His glory. I love how C.S. Lewis says that God ordains our friendships. There are certain people ordained for certain times in our lives for a very certain purpose - to draw out ways in which we never knew we were capable of giving God glory.

How beautiful!

I can't tell you all the ways this makes sense for today, but I can tell you that this day (beginning, middle, and end) made me ready to burst with the joy and inspiration of community. God's design is so very good!

Here is one of the reasons for my joy... one of my students Alejandra! She has a wonderful way of drawing out something strange and silly and spectacular... and I always walk away blessed!

I hope you are intentionally putting yourself in the company of others who are pursuing Christ. You will be so blessed by the new ways you find to give God glory for His design!

As always, .let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

Reflections on Bonhoeffer

Cover of I scanned the last sentence of Eric Metaxas's Bonhoeffer and it was regret that stared back when I saw the next page titled, "NOTES."

Over 500 pages of a beautiful submersion into a life lived completely and I find myself wishing the book were longer so that I could walk next to someone who understood how theology spilled out into and gave purpose to *viviology (knowledge, study, and act of life or living).

Few people, especially those blessed with academic minds, are able to meet the needs of the former without sacrificing the demands of the latter. Bonhoeffer refused to only stand behind a podium in the high brow, organized classrooms of universities and behind closed doors of churches. The more he learned and studied, the greater he felt pulled toward living out the Truth he so passionately taught.

I love how he didn't abandon the books and the study to live among the people in radical opposition to his intellectual contemporaries' expectations.

Bonhoeffer saw, in his travels to the United States, what could happen when people step away from Truth and place something else at the center. He traveled to the US first in 1930 to study and teach at Union University and then again briefly in 1939 to consider a teaching position. Both trips were filled with the realization that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and will always at the center of Christianity. This is what he said during his first visit,

"The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events. As long as I've been here, I have heard only one sermon in which you could hear something like a genuine proclamation ... One big question continually attracting my attention in view of these facts is whether one here really can still speak of Christianity, ... There's no sense to expect the fruits where the Word really is no longer being preached. But then what becomes of Christianity per se?

The enlightened American, rather than viewing all this with skepticism, instead welcomes it as an example of progress.

...

In New York, they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life."

It's funny ... how timely these words are today. Maybe "sad" better describes how far we've come since Bonhoeffer's evaluation in 1930. We preach on "virtually everything" but what will reach, save, and transform lives. We preach on trees and health and wealth and all the ways the world is evil, but we don't preach Christ. Could it be because we are scared of the price? Bonhoeffer's approach to life was, in large part, informed by God's approach to grace and discipleship.

We want the discounted version - the less painful, less costly kind of grace - but with the full benefits of its original value. In what he would call "cheap grace," Bonhoeffer explains how we do ourselves a disservice in settling for something less than what God originally intended (by straying from Jesus Christ at the center of the Good News). In his book, "Cost of Discipleship," he says,

"cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church disciplineCommunion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."

We've created a grace that strips it of all its power. When we're done sermonizing, what we've given people is at best hollow and full of despair. There is no life in it. In contrast, is this costly grace:

"costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." "

I still cannot figure out how Bonhoeffer merged his knowledge with his life, but I can certainly see that he did. For three months in 1931, he conducted confirmation classes in rough neighborhood of Wedding. He took the post shortly after being ordained and the zeal with which he approached the class of fifty boys might have been characteristic of a new minister, but the care and perseverance he applied in every aspect of his teaching was unique. His life with those boys emphasized community and sacrifice. The textbook was not drudgery, opened with great pain and resistance. The Text was carried around in their hearts and gave the greatest joy to its living out.

Even as the very church he helped to build up (The Confessing Church) failed to stand for Truth when it mattered most, Bonhoeffer's resolve grew only stronger. He believed that he had been "grasped" by God - that he had been chosen for something. But, that something was only important because of (and dependent on) the God who decides to break through and use people, sermons, and situations for His glorious purposes.

He resolved to not only preach Christ and Him crucified, as Paul declared in his letter to the church in Corinth, but he endeavored to LIVE in obedience to Christ's costly call to follow as a disciple.

How do we marry Theology and *Vivology?

I think it means knowing the Word so well it becomes a part of you. I think it means keeping your bookshelves loaded and guarding time for study, even if technically no longer a student. I think it means dedicating uninterrupted times of prayer. I think it means loving Truth because you believe in your deepest soul it redeems and reveals life. I think it means fellowship around campfires and crazy games of soccer. I think it means coffee and conversation and debate. I think it means keeping Jesus Christ at the center - recognizing that every good gift is only good because God wills it to be so.

And, I think it means delighting in this life. I think it means being deliberate about our thanksgiving - walking in each day knowing that God's glory is what shines bright to reveal He is at the center.

I must end this musing here, but I promise I will continue to ponder. Until then, would you, with me,

.let LOVE FLY like cRaZY.

*I might have just made up this word, but give me credit because it's got two parts that should work together - viv is the latin/greek root word meaning "live" and ology is a suffix used to describe bodies of knowledge. I'm trying to say that, just like we aspire to grasp theology, we must also pursue a grasp of vivology and a combination of the two. What is knowledge of God without a life lived out as a result of that knowledge? And really, how does one know about 'living,' exactly?

Also read: interview with Metaxas by Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition blog blog reflections on Lent, self-denial, life and Bonhoeffer by Brett McCracken

Please pray - Hurricane Matthew is on the way!

Reports vary, but somewhere between tonight and tomorrow we are supposed to see Hurricane Matthew show up here in Honduras. Read this report to find out more. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/09/24/tropical.weather/

I'm not sure how much longer I will have power, but with the ground already saturated from an unseemly amount of rain during this rainy season, there will surely be flash floods and landslides.

Pray especially for those who have houses on mountains and precarious places... and for those without shelter.

chocolate cupcakes

Normally, this day would have already ended. I'd be tucked in my bed and flipping pages (trying frantically to finish with Germany and Bonhoeffer so I can read over all the scratches I've made in the pages) until I finally fall asleep. Not so tonight. After school and a teachers' meeting, I met up with the first of two Vivians. We caught up and zoomed around town and jammed out to Coffey and smiled the perfect amount.

Then, I met up with Vivian number two and we endeavored to make chocolate cupcakes for tomorrow's even with the seniors (a hopefully very competitive capture the flag game). We got creative about the frosting and thought up this new recipe: 2 cubes almond bark 1/2 stick butter 1/3 cup powdered sugar 1/4 cup milk 1 - 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Add in this order over a medium-low heat stove top. Taste OFTEN and continue stirring. Taste for adjustments. Lick the spatula (then swear to not tell anyone you licked the spatula). Let it cool a bit and thicken. Add to cooled cupcakes and put sprinkles on top .....

ENJOY!

[slideshow]

‘Green Awakenings’ and Missing the Point of God’s Story

I'm re-posting this story because I could not afford to pass it up. This so clearly articulates what my emotions seem to keep me from saying. After studying at a Christian liberal arts college and then working at a different liberal arts college for a year, I have grown to respect "creation care" with a healthy disdain for its deception. Deception? You ask.

Yes, deception. When we are torn from the MAIN THING and convinced that other things are just as important, we have lost sight of Truth. As you can read in this article, we can even cleverly REPLACE the central message of the Gospel with a different message entirely.

NEWSFLASH: The new message doesn't save.

Read the article here: ‘Green Awakenings’ and Missing the Point of God’s Story.