Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kutless sings This is Christmas

After writing the post Forget Not, my sweet husband sent me off with his blessings to finish up some Christmas shopping.  Oh what fun that was!  During the various drive times, I kept thinking about this time of year and how so many people celebrate Christmas all around the world.  My mother-in-law and I were just marveling the other day that people who do not even believe in Jesus celebrate.  What they are celebrating exactly, I am not sure, but gift giving and feasting abound under the heading of Christmas.  And as such thoughts ruminated in my mind, this song came on the radio:

It seemed to sing the very thoughts I was thinking.
Just had to share it with ya'll.
Yes indeed, tis a Savior born that we celebrate!

Forget not

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 1:15 that "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners". 

Now keep that in mind as we hop over to Psalm 103...the kids and I were reading this yesterday together.  Verses 1 and 2 start with:
"Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits..."

I asked my kiddos, "What is another way of saying 'forget not'?"  Their answer: "Remember."  That's right...we are positively to remember His benefits.  What benefits?  The passage continues...
* He forgives our sins
* He heals our diseases
* He redeems our life from destruction
* He crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies
* He satisfies our mouths with good things
* He brings justice to the oppressed
* He makes His ways known
* and more

Our family just read through the book of Esther together over the last couple of weeks.  There was some serious rejoicing happening at the end because the very real threat of annihilation was met with a very real deliverance.  Now remember how I opened this post...Jesus came to save sinners.  Save?  From what?  Do we know?  Do we understand the very real wrath of God against sinners?  Do we know we are sinners? Do we "get" that Jesus came to save sinners, and that in fact He did! 

It was commanded in Esther that Purim be celebrated year after year as a remembrance...they were to give gifts to each other, feast, and remember the poor.  The generation that lived through the threat did so was the overflowing response of their joy in being delivered. Did future generations celebrate with as much joy?  Did gift giving come to feel obligatory and bothersome?  Did the feasting requirements become a burden?  Did the poor become neglected?

It is Christmastime...will we remember that Jesus came to deliver us?  He physically took on flesh a couple thousand years ago, but His love is steadfast and His sacrifice was once and for all time.  Remember His benefits....they are graciously being applied to all who have faith today...this generation has just as much opportunity to respond with joy as all those who have gone before us for the deliverance is every bit as much ours. We have experienced an even greater deliverance than the Jews did in the days of Esther! If celebrating the birth of Jesus feels so far removed that you are tempted to feel burdened about gift giving, about feasting, about remembering the poor, then carve out whatever time is needed for you to remember Jesus came to save sinners.  Now.  The rescue is real.  Let us celebrate our Deliverer...may we overflow with joy in Him!

"Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits..."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Easy Slow-cooker Fudge

Slow Cooker Fudge
Taken nearly verbatim from the website: 

This is a new-to-us recipe that we tried last week.  We altered it slightly to make use of ingredients on hand...instead of raw mild honey, we used regular clover honey; and instead of sea salt, we used kosher salt.  And being hopeful that it was going to be yummy, we doubled the recipe, which seemed to work dandy.  Also, due to not ever having developed pioneer woman arms, I used the strength of the paddle in my kitchen aid mixer when I got to the instruction to vigorously stir for 5-10 minutes.  That is how I get away with renaming this fudge as "easy."

What was the vote?  Two thumbs up.  It is truly rich and yummy.  We experimented a bit with shaping some of the pieces into balls and rolling it in things like powdered sugar or toasted coconut...we liked it even better that way.  

So for all you friends who may like to try this as fudge, or roll it into balls and call it a truffle-like candy, here you go...we think we will try substituting mint extract for vanilla in our next round.  Hmmm...soooooo many possibilities :-).

Fudge is perfect for the slow cooker because it doesn't scorch or burn. 

Add chocolate chips, coconut milk, honey and salt, stir to combine. Cover and cook on low 2 hours without stirring. It's important that lid remain on during this 2 hours. 

After 2 hours, turn the slow cooker off, uncover, add vanilla and stir to combine ingredients. Allow to cool in uncovered slow cooker, until fudge has reached room temperature...approximately 4 hours. Using a large spoon, stir vigorously for 5-10 minutes until it loses some the gloss. 

Lightly spray a 1 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour fudge into dish, cover and refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Cut into 30 pieces. This fudge is very rich and meant to be eaten on occasion as a treat.

Note: Canned coconut milk can be found in the Asian or organic sections of most grocery stores.