Monday, December 29, 2008

Real Chicken Soup for the Soul, and the body!

The weather is cool and last night I made an amazing pot of homemade chicken soup. What I love about making this soup is that it is sooooo easy! And it costs so little to make so much. I bought a whole body chicken at Stater Bros for 49 cents a pound (around $3.50 for one chicken!). I had left over celery and carrots in my fridge but that would have cost me less than $2. I bought a bag of frozen carrots, $1.50 and 2 bags of frozen grandma noodles (taste homemade) for $2.99 a bag, this was my most expensive purchase. So for around $11 I made enough soup for two meals and I had extra chicken for sandwiches or whatever strikes our fancy.

The recipe:

Put one whole chicken in crock pot and fill to the top with water, add a couple stalks of celery and a couple carrots and one quartered brown onion, cook on high for about 5 or 6 hours (till done). Also add seasonings: salt, pepper bay leaf, etc.

Remove chicken and let cool. Once cool enough to handle remove chicken from bones. Throw away those bones! Store in fridge.

Strain the broth through a cheese cloth and a strainer

Store broth over night in fridge. Next day remove fat from the top of the broth and discard.

Heat broth, add chicken cut into pieces, carrots (I used frozen carrots), and grandma noodles (found in the freezer section of the store). Bring to boil then simmer till noodles are cooked and enjoy!

Tip: taste the broth if it doesn't have enough chicken flavor, add chicken bouillon and maybe more salt. If you do not have enough liquid add canned chicken broth.


New Book!

I have just started reading a new book I got for Christmas (thanks Michele!): Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright. Amazing book!

The book is filled with great insight into the hope we should focus on as we consider the resurrection. Are we just going to a better place? Where are we going and when will we get there? What is the impact of the Jesus' resurrection? What was the reaction of the disciples? What should my reaction be? How should it affect my life today, tomorrow?

What we say about death and resurrection gives shape and color to everything else. If we are not careful, we will offer merely a "hope" that is no longer a surprise, no longer able to transform lives and communities in the present, no longer generated by the resurrection of Jesus himself and looking forward to the promised new heaven and new earth.

Therefore Wright says it matters what we do in the present. It is not a future expectation but rather a life lived fully now.

Easter was when Hope in person surprised the world by coming forward into the present.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Peace Thought

I am nearly finished reading "Three Cups of Tea" and have been praying and thinking about Advent when I came across this incredible statement:

In times of war, you often hear leaders--Christian, Jewish and Muslim--saying, "God is on our side." But that isn't true. In war, God is on the side of the refugees, widows and orphans.

This kinda sums up my messages the past two weeks, God hears the cries of the oppressed, and He responds because God is active.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Books I am Reading

Lately I have had some free time to read, being unemployed affords you the time to read. It is funny that I heard on the news last night that more and more people are re-discovering the library. I know as my own economic situation worsens I will be buying less books and checking out more books from the library. APU Grad library here I come!

I just wanted to share what books I currently have been actively reading

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson. This is an amazing story of a former mountain climber’s compassion for people. By accident he got lost on the trail down a mountain and ended up in a village here he warmly received and nourished. While spending time with the villagers he sees the need for education in this community, especially among the girls. So his story involves building schools in a country, Pakistan, where many would stay clear of.

The Wounded Healer by Henri M. Nouwen. This book is rocking me! I was encouraged to read it as I continue to deal with my own personal and spiritual healing. As I am reading through this book, which has now become my morning devotional, I see insight into our world today through the eyes of the writer written over 35 years ago.

Reimaging Church by Frank Viola. I am about half way through this book but it is getting increasingly harder and harder to read. I will finish it! The author believes that the church structure, including the building, has been lost through time. The first century church should be the model of the church today as we build community. I do not discount the home church model but wonder if we that model is the predominant choice. Is it too late? But what can we pull from the first century church and incorporate into our “traditional” churches today?

Planting Missional Churches: Planting a Church That’s Biblically Sound and Reaching People in Culture by Ed Stetzer. I have just started reading this book and I am very excited about it. It is a “how to” book but it is so much more, Stetzer discusses the need for church plants and why we should plant churches. Stetzer identifies problems in the church and gives solutions. Financial support, discipleship, denominational influences and other issues are all explored. I am looking forward to reading through this book.

As we are exploring the possibility of starting a church I am also revisiting some of my seminary books. Two of these books on my desk right now are:

The Open Church: How to Bring Back the Exciting Life of the First Century Church by James H. Ruiz

Shaped by God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Peace Prayer

From the Common Book of Prayer
A Prayer for Social Justice

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit
may so move every human heart,
that barriers which divide us may crumble,
suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease;
that our divisions being healed,
we may live in justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

One Example of Peace on Earth

One definition of peace is an absence of war or conflict. I am not sure if I will ever see our world in a time without conflict, there always seems to be a war somewhere. But I do know that when Jesus came to earth as a man He brought peace. John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Peace on earth can be experienced, maybe not in the fullest sense we see in Isaiah 11:6-9 where predator will live peacefully with the prey.

As you consider aspects of peace read through the amazing story of a time of peace experienced on a battlefield many years ago. I am praying that a time of peace, regardless of how short, can be experienced on our many battlefields this Christmas.

The Christmas Truce

The truce began on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium, for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols, most notably Stille Nacht (Silent Night). The Scottish troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols.

The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were calls for visits across the "No Man's Land" where small gifts were exchanged — whisky, jam, cigars, chocolate, and the like. The soldiers exchanged gifts, sometimes addresses, and drank together. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Proper burials took place as soldiers from both sides mourned the dead together and paid their respects. At one funeral in No Man's Land, soldiers from both sides gathered and read a passage from the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Article on The Christmas Truce came from

Friday, December 05, 2008

Another Nouwen Jem

He is confronted with not only with the elaborate and expense to save the life of one man through a heart transplantation, but also with the powerlessness of the world to help when thousands of people die from the lack of food.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Great Henri Nouwen Quote

I just started reading another amazing book by Henri Houwen, The Wounded Healer. I only on page 8 and came across this great quote:

When man's historical consciousness is broken the whole Christian message seems like a lecture about the great pioneers to a boy on an acid trip.

I am excited to get deeper into the book. Thanks Anne Jackson for recommending this book. Please check out Anne's new book Mad Church Disease coming out soon, there is a free chapter available to read.

Hope vs Hopelessness

The message of the first week of Advent is HOPE. Hope is the desire for something with the possibility of, or belief in, its realization. Hope must have a goal. Hope is foundational and based in truth; otherwise, our hopes are just daydreams or fantasies. Hope involves our belief that what we hope for can be accomplished.

But maybe the best way to understand hope is to compare it to hopelessness.

We live in a world filled with guilt, shame, fear, loneliness, anger, sadness and oppression. Hopelessness is suicide, abortion and divorce. Hopelessness is bigotry, hatred, violence and murder. Hopelessness is hunger, poverty, sickness and death.

Feelings of hopelessness overcome us as we lose all out material objects. Sometimes this happens through natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and fire. I have a friend that is sifting through the ashes of his home that burned to the ground looking for anything of value, any memory, or any heirloom. Hope comes from the ashes.

To take residence in hopelessness is to live without Christ. The sign above the entrance to Dante’s hell says, “Abandon hope all you who enter here.” For Dante, hell is a place with no hope. Enter hell and give up hope. Hell is the place of hopelessness.

Hope has history. If we look at our Bible we see a story, a history of God trying to reconnect with His people. Creation could have just rolled over and died by living in hopelessness. But it didn’t, there has always been hope.

Hope and faith are cousins, they are related.
Jesus Christ is our hope, and we place our faith in Jesus

Hope has a past
Hope is present
Hope has a future

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lam. 3:21-23).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Advent Week 1 Hope

While preparing for my message on hope this past Sunday I happened upon an incredible article titled "African American Advent and Christmas Spirituals" by Melva Wilson Costen. Although Melva was writing to an African American situtation, the opening paragraph speaks volume to conditions throughout the world today.

Waiting, expectantly and patiently waiting, for one who has already come. Waiting, hopefully waiting, in anticipation of the promised peace and justice in a world overwhelmed with injustices of all kinds. Longing, waiting, yearning, and simultaneously rejoicing that the Prince of Peace has appeared and is to be remembered in a special way. Preparing to receive again the ultimate gift from God - Emmanuel -God with us. This is Advent.

The four weeks leading up to Christmas is called Advent. Advent means coming or arrival. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance! Jesus’ coming to earth was a history changing and a life changing event for a group of oppressed people 2000 years ago. But it is just as significant for our culture today as we continue to be prepared for the day when Jesus comes again. This is Advent.

"Christ has come! Christ has risen! Christ will come again!"

Isaiah 61:1-4 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.