Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Northwest Salmon Chowder

Howdy.  I've been choppin' veggies and prepping a feast of a natural kind for tonight.  Friends are joining us for dinner and we're looking forward to a lot of good food and fellowship.  The bread dough is rising, the soup is made, and since this recipe is an often-asked for one, I thought I'd pop it up here on my blog before I go make a salad to go with it all.  Yum! 

Northwest Salmon Chowder
1/2 cup each (chopped celery, onion and green pepper)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons butter
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 cup uncooked diced peeled potatoes
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4-3/4 teaspoon dill weed
1 can (14 oz) cream-style corn
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups fully cooked salmon chunks (can used canned or fresh, bones/skin removed)

In a large saucepan, saute celery, onion, green pepper, and garlic in butter until the vegetables are tender.  Add broth, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper, and dill; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are nearly tender.  Stir in the corn, cream and salmon.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until heated through.  Yield: 8 servings (2 quarts).

Mmmmm...smelling good around here! 

A banquet of grace, part 5

Wow.  Well, where do I begin?  For the past few weeks I have been studying everything I can find on "adoption"; "fatherless"; "orphan" and the related in the Scriptures, and chewing until it has laid me low once again.  I've been leveled by God's grace and filled with joy and gratitude and mission.  He reveals Himself to be "Father of the fatherless" in Psalm 68:5; the "Helper of the fatherless" in Psalm 10:14, etc.  In Deuteronomy 10:12-22, He describes Himself to Israel and tells His people what He requires of them and why...go read it and anticipate how the Lord will do more great things in and through us to the praise of His glory as we walk by faith in obedience.  Will we fear the LORD and serve Him who "administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing"...will we "therefore love the stranger," remembering our own rescue?

A verse often quoted by adoption advocates is James 1:27 which says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."  How many of us tend to think of religion as a set of rules to live by?  Or a system of faith?  Its etymology suggests it means to reconnect (re = again; ligare = bind/connect).  From Adam to us [apart from His amazing reconnecting grace] we're separated from God because of our sins...not separated in the sense of just being in a different place, but separated from His love and positively due His wrath/awaiting His just judgment.  Before the foundation of the world, He chose many to show compassion to, sent His son who bore His full wrath in our place, and justly/lovingly/mercifully reconnected us to Him.  If we've really been reconnected to God through Christ, He assures us we will grow in His likeness.  Pure and undefiled "reconnectedness" is observable...with heart and soul and mind and strength we begin to properly fear and serve the Living God, therefore loving the stranger [visiting orphans and widows in their trouble], remembering our own rescue.

Why are we told to be holy? (1 Peter 1:15,16)  Because He is holy.

Why are we told to walk in the Spirit? (Galatians 5:16-25) So we'll bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives in contrast to busying ourselves with the works of the flesh.  Our reconnectedness is made visible.

Why are there many exhortations to administer justice for the fatherless, widow and stranger?  (Deut. 10:18) Because God administers justice for them.  In Hosea 14:3, God's people pleaded with Him for help on this basis:  "For in You the fatherless finds mercy."  He has also commanded provisions be made for them via gleanings and tithes, often reminding Israel to remember "you were a slave in Egypt."  He wanted His people to take special care via free will offerings during the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles to make sure the fatherless, widow and stranger were also able to rejoice within their gates (Deut. 16:9-17).  There are seven references in the book of Job to the fatherless...Job uses his care for them as an example of his righteousness and his "friends" accuse him of mistreating them as examples of his unrighteousness, but either way there is a connection between righteousness and how we treat the fatherless.  Why is that?  Because pure and undefiled religion (reconnectedness) is observable...God has made it known that He cares for the fatherless and therefore, if we are united to Him we will too.  If we don't, that is a problem...in fact it is such a problem that a number of verses relative to the fatherless are declarations of judgment by God against those who have failed to plead the cause of the fatherless (see Jeremiah 5:28 for one example...God describes this failure as wickedness) and God specifically calls His people to repentance in this arena (see Jeremiah 7:3-7 for an example).

In the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus tells us He "came to seek and to save that which was lost."  We were not out of sight, out of mind.  How thankful I am!   If you do a concordance search for "adoption", the only references you will find relate to adoptions of people by God...He continues to seek and to save, and those of us who are sought and saved have been "predestined to adoption", we've "received the Spirit of adoption," and "we are eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."  I mentioned in part 4 of this series that "the Bible isn't an encyclopedia; it is a story, the great origin-to-destiny story of redemption (quote by Paul Tripp)."  There are individual stories, but they/we are all a part of a much greater story.  The kingdom of God is at hand...His Kingdom is the ONLY future of this world...the glory of the Lord will cover the earth; He shall have dominion from sea to sea.  He is the King of all kings.  He has come to seek and to save that which was lost...individually and globally.  His command word, in all its glory, communicates His will for His kingdom and that command word tells us among many other things to visit the orphans and widows, to administer justice for them, to please their cause, etc. 

Some people want to keep the fatherless as someone else's ministry, out of sight, out of mind...God apparently equates our "visiting" them with being reconnected with Him.  I, for one, want to keep learning what visiting the orphans and widows in their trouble looks like so I can do it.   How about you?

David Platt said: "Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."  Get to know their names, turn your eyes to their faces, hold them in your arms...that is what God does so you'll be right where He is, and there is no better place to be than with Him.  Reconnectedness is observable.

To be continued...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Enjoying the Banquet of Grace

I will return to our study A Banquet of Grace next time, Lord willing, but today I want to simply share the enjoyment of the banquet of grace God provided us this week by way of a camping trip.  We journeyed to Fort Stevens with our friends, the Adams and the Niemans, for a few wonder-filled days.

 Can you camp and not roast hot dogs? 

During a brief rain shower, the kids grabbed a deck of Uno and played 
(notice some of them still wearing their bike helmets, ready for the sun to shine again any minute)

All the kiddos posing in front of Fort Steven's, 
the only military installation in the continental United States 
to receive hostile fire during World War II.

Overlooking the Columbia River, 
this Fort was part of a Three Fort Harbor Defense System 
built to defend the mouth of the Columbia River  

 My peeps!  I love that God has knitted my life together with theirs.

Showing off one of the guns...we all learned the difference between guns and canons on this tour.  
I thought anything big was a canon, but not so.

Climbing around on another gun.

The army truck tour...a bit bumpy, but good.

Back at the campgrounds, roasting marshmallows for s'mores...yum!

Riding in the back of the pick up truck on our way to Coffenbury Lake, 
Bekah and I attempted a self-portrait...
it is the only picture of myself the whole trip so I thought I better include it. 

Looking out at Coffenbury Lake, 
where we enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch.

 A highlight for Bekah 
was being able to run 2 miles on the beach with Mrs. Nieman...
she LOVES to run! 

Chasing waves, or being chased by waves...
either way, it was a GREAT day down on the beach.

We came home with over a hundred pictures, but these give you a taste of our week together.  Food, fun and fellowship...an absolutely delightful time of tasting and seeing the goodness of our Lord together with friends, seeing prayers answered, playing, praying, relaxing, singing, eating...rain and shine, we're thankful that God gave us this banquet of grace to enjoy.  There were nine children on this trip and they ALL have moms and dads who are loving them, protecting them, providing for them, teaching them, and raising them up to know and love the God who made them.  Whether homegrown or grafted, this is a testimony to God's grace!  As the mother of the three who were grafted into our family, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God!  His mercy amazes me!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A banquet of grace, part 4

A concordance locates approximately 40 references for "fatherless," depending on which translation is being searched. I can find 4 references for "orphans".   And there are 6 for "adoption."  I have been taking some time to look each of these up and I'm finding them in their contexts quite interesting to chew on.  I will attempt to articulate some of my thoughts next week, but I have time constraints keeping me from doing so for the next few days.

As helpful as it has been to meditate on these verses that mention the fatherless, the orphan, and adoption specifically, I find this reminder by Paul David Tripp (found in his book What Did You Expect?) important to keep in mind: "We mistakenly treat the Bible as if it were arranged by topic -- you know, the world's best compendium of human problems and divine solutions. So when we're thinking about marriage, we run to all the marriage passages.  But the Bible isn't an encyclopedia; it is a story, the great origin-to-destiny story of redemption.  In fact, it is more than a story.  It is a theologically annotated story.  It is a story with God's notes.  This means that we cannot understand what the Bible has to say about marriage by looking only at the marriage passages, because there is a vast amount of biblical information about marriage not found in the marriage passages."

I think concordance searches can be instructive, but they aren't exhaustive by any stretch and Mr. Tripp's comments, relating to marriage, apply to our topic as well.  Jacob claimed Joseph's two sons for himself in Genesis 48; Moses became the son of Pharaoh's daughter in Exodus 2; orphaned Esther was brought up by her Uncle Mordecai; Hannah's son Samuel was raised at the temple by Eli, Jesus was raised as the son of Joseph...none of these stories came up in the concordance search by topic.  And in the concordance search for "adoption," the references all relate to God's adoption of us so we know there is a vast amount of biblical teaching that relates simply as God reveals who He is (Father) and who we are (His children by adoption).

I'm out of time for now, but looking forward to continuing this banquet of grace as God enables...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A banquet of grace, part 3

Friends of ours welcomed a new daughter into their family via an emergency c-section this week.  When I saw her picture pop up on FB, my first thought was "she's beautiful."  And she is.  She is because God has made her to be an image-bearer of Himself; because she is His workmanship and He is an amazing Creator.  Just looking at her picture moved me to praise Him.  She's also a little sinner due to the fallen nature of mankind and in need of His mercy.  Her parents will wash her in His word, and pray over her, and point her regularly to Jesus as they train her up, hoping all the while in our God who's name is excellent in all the earth.  I pray she will bear eternal testimony to His goodness and grace.

C.S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory, wrote:  “You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”  This is true of my friends' new little baby and it is true of every other person on the planet...the rich, the poor, the healthy, the sick, the lovely to behold and the hard to look at, everyone!  We're immortal, we're image bearers of God, and as Psalm 8 tells us He is mindful of us and visits us...incredible!  But before we think we're such hot stuff, in contrast to the last post where it was made plain we're sinners in need of mercy, let's take a closer look at Psalm 8.

Notice the bookends of this Psalm: “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!”  Our Lord, who is pleased to ordain babes with strength to silence enemies.  Our Lord, who made the incredibly vast and glorious heavens pays attention to this speck called earth and visits His image bearers, and crowns us with glory and honor.  Our Lord, who gives the stewardship of the earth to the sinful likes of us, knowing full well we'll make a mess of things along the way (this is the stage upon which He displays His glory through His just judgments and the outpouring of His redemptive love).  The middle stanzas all testify to the reality that Yes, indeed, His name is excellent in all the earth!  

How does this relate to our study?  Romans 1:25 tells us there are those who worship the creature rather than the Creator...even as Christians we can fall into this temptation.  We can take verses about being crowned with glory and honor right out of their contexts and begin to think too highly of ourselves, to see ourselves as the end all.  Psalm 139:14 is another one I have noticed being used in this way... “we're fearfully and wonderfully made” and while that is true, it wasn’t written so we can exalt man or glory in our self.  The whole verse says “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”  The entire Psalm is a song of praise to God.

When we consider the complexity and wonder of the human body, we shouldn’t be moved to think ultimately how great we are, but rather how great God is who made us.  We ARE amazingly complex and it is good to recognize the wonders of God's handiwork...it is right to look upon a fellow immortal and behold their beauty, their smile, their good works, etc, and let these all move us to praise our Creator.  The vastness of the heavens, the beauty of a sunrise, the variety of colors and shapes and aromas of roses...it is too amazing to soak in, but we are prone to focus our attention on creation and stop there when all these things declare to us the manifold perfections of our God and invite us to sing His praise.  I am convinced that the more faithfully we comprehend the greatness of our glorious God, and our utter inability to draw our next breath apart from His decree, it will change how we live in relationship to each other dramatically in the remaining days He gives us on this earth.  Our motives and actions will be Godward, and this has everything to do with our study.  God grafted us into His family to glorify and enjoy Him forever...we are not here to pursue our own agenda's, but as the blood purchased body of Christ we are called and empowered to be about our Father's business together, spurring each other on to love and good works.  This very much effects what we do, why, and how we do it in every area of life, including how we "visit the fatherless."

til next time...