Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Stuffed Bread----------The Savior Complex

What do people eat for holidays? Ham. Potatoes, mashed. Corn or another veggie. Rolls. At least in my experience. And, maybe I'm just weird, but I love all those thing smushed up together on my plate. So this recipe is a holiday meal, pre-mixed together. Also easily made largely from leftovers.Yum. Preheat your oven to 400.

-Dough (pizza, turnover, dinner roll dough, you pick) OR french bread with a bunch of its core removed.
-Mashed potatoes or smashed potatoes. Creamy and good. But stiff. So leftovers are perfect.
-Ham, chopped into bits.
-Creamed corn. Or another veggie of your choosing.
-Cheese. Colby Jack is great.

Cooking Instructions:
1. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface OR remove most of the fluffy white insides of some french bread. 
2. In a bowl, whip together mashed potatoes, ham, and veggie. Add some garlic, salt, and pepper for a good flavor. A little butter never hurts either.
3. Spoon mixed ingredients onto dough and wrap dough around, forming a ball OR stuff mixed ingredients into bread.
4. Bake in the oven on a greased cooking tray for about 15 minutes. Top with cheese. Bake another 5 minutes.


Thoughts on the Savior Complex

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." -John 15:12-15

How many times I've heard this verse misused (and misused it myself!) It's so common to hone in on the laying down one's life part and to catapult into thoughts and discussions of who you would gladly die for. But that isn't the point here. 

Consider the phrase "lay down my life" in another context.

"Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" -John 13:36-38

That Peter denied Jesus is not what killed Christ. Nor was admitting he knew Jesus necessarily going result in peter getting killed. Laying down one's life has little to do with dying and much more to do with a willingness to sacrifice things of the self for the sake of others. 

Including pride. Sometimes it is truly laying down your life to not step in as a hero or a savior because you know that if you did so, it would honestly be for your own ego. Any other benefit for any other person would be the side dish.

Yet in so many ways, we make ourselves up as savior figures. Mini-Jesus'. Surely the intentions are good in many instances. 

I don't want to hurt her.
If I walk away, there will be no one left to witness to him.
It can't be loving to disappoint or offend so much.
Without pushing church on her, she'll walk away from it all.
He just needs to see that my love in unconditional, whatever the cost.
Too much hardship in her life- I just need to be nice no matter how mean she is. Kill her with kindness!
But, he needs me.

And it goes on and on. Sacrificing because we love others. Laying down our lives because we want them to live more wholly....

Stepping into shoes we cannot fill, or, more accurately, a cross that has already been the death of a Savior and already witness His rising again. 

Dying for someone doesn't save them, not truly. Giving up everything in one's life to try to be right in front of others, even for others' sakes, cannot save anyone. Being overly loving or extremely strict will save nobody.

The church cannot save. I cannot save. You cannot save.

Only Jesus Christ can save. 

We tread on dangerous ground when we develop a savior's complex. Satan lurks there, eager to bind us in our pride. To trample us when we don't measure up as we want to. To push us when we see "progress" and believe that we're succeeding.

In the wise words of my husband, "never try to do for God what is God's alone to do."

When He calls on you to be willing, to lay yourself down and the life of your's you so cling to, and to do so because He is at work in someone's life, obey. But never look for ways to be a martyr. Never pounce on the opportunity to be a savior-sort. The Lord can save without you. And when He calls on you, consider it pure joy and prepare to suffer. That's sacrificial love. 

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." -Acts 20:24

Monday, December 2, 2013

Easy Apple Ham----------The Edge of Christmas

Hooray for breakfast for dinner! Especially when it is this easy. I recommend pairing this apple ham with pancakes for a big smile! For the ham, you just need a skillet and a cutting board.

-1 Peeled and Sliced Apple (the sweeter the better)
-1 Slice of Cooked Ham
-Cooking Spray or Butter
-Maple Syrup (the real stuff is best)
-Brown Sugar

Cooking Instructions:
1. Spray a skillet lightly with oil or melt a little butter in the skillet over low heat.
2. Cut the ham slice in half and place in skillet, keeping the heat low.
3. Flip the ham when the oil starts to sizzle.
4. When both sides of the ham have warmed, place the ham on a plate off the stove.
5. Pour about 1/8 cup of syrup into the skillet, just enough to make a puddle in the pan the size of a cracked egg.
6. Sprinkle in a little brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing with the syrup.
7. Drop the apple slices in, stirring with the syrup.
8. Flip the apples in the syrup after about two minutes.
9. Wait another two minutes, and scrunch all the apples up on the side of the skillet. Drop the ham back in and cover with the apples and syrup.
10. When the ham and apples are nice and warm and syrupy, you're good!


Thoughts on the Edge of Christmas

I've noticed in the last couple of years that a vast number of churches and Christian groups advocate for people to use the specific phrase "Merry Christmas." There is this big to-do about making sure that Christians defend and exemplify their faith and the "reason for the season."

And, I'm not saying that the word "Christmas" should be put aside...I'm asking more about whether or not Christians (myself included) actually recognize and proclaim what the celebration is all about.

Now you might expect the sentimental list of ways that we tend to misconstrue the meaning of Christmas. Our culture, even in the Church, has certainly been caught up in a trend of self-service and materialism.

And, I'm not saying that steering clear of consumerism or greed is at all wrong...but that issue isn't what concerns me either.

My point, I think, is that Christ is so rarely the center of Christmas. Little Baby Jesus might be the figurehead of the holiday, right up there with Santa, the "spirit of family," or "stars and bells and remembering what matters most..." but Christ is not so much remembered.

On Christmas Eve, hundreds of thousands of people who otherwise do not attend church come for one service. They come for the carols. And they come for Aunt Carol who reminds them it's tradition. Some come for that reminder that God likes people and gave us his wee little son as a nice gift. There are, I think, even some that come because the rest of the year they struggle with the idea of God, but on Christmas, they want that experience of considering that something besides "us" exists and is good.

I do not think many people come to Christmas concerts, plays, events, and services to hear that Christ became man, remained fully God, lived perfectly, took on all of humanity's sins, died, rose again, and offered to each and every person salvation and a relationship with the Almighty God through submission to His great grace.

Yet isn't that what we all need to hear? Isn't that good (but difficult and convicting) news exactly what we are told to share?

The Jesus born into a manager was not simply made in the image of man. He was man. He was THE man. The last Adam. And yet He was God. THE God. The creator of all things. The King of kings.

And we make a day designated for commemorating Christ about one brief moment. About a few short sentiments. Twisted around several popular concepts and stories.

"Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ." -2 Corinthians 4:1-6

To make Christmas all about Jesus, the baby, to the exclusion of the whole truth of Christ, is to render Christmas meaningless. God sending His son as a baby and calling Him a King does not save us. Even if it makes us feel good.

Ultimately, that is what Christmas, minus the Gospel and amplify the Nativity, is. Another fuzzy. Another feel-good. Another thing for our glory and not for God's.

Because when Christ is just a little baby God who reminds us that there is something beyond us and that family is nice and generosity feels good, Christ is just another object. One more object for us to want to call our own. And one more object and sentiment for us to sell.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." -Galatians 1: 6-10

Whether we're trying to please other people or ourselves, we must remember who Christ is, who He was born to be, and how God revealed Himself through the process.

Also, see 1 Corinthians 1:26-2:13. A wonderful truth.