Friday, January 31, 2014

Salsa Chicken---------------The Anticlimactic Life

You'll be using a frying pan and a baking dish. This chicken is excellent with tomato rice (just cook rice in tomato sauce instead of water and season how you like). In the image you'll notice there is a dense bread under the chicken, which is totally unnecessary, but I love carbs. Oven should be at 375!

-1 Chicken Breast
-1/4 cup tomato sauce
-Diced tomato
-Diced pepper (of your choosing, I just used red bell)
-Diced celery (just a little)
-Seasonings (paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper, whatever you like)
-A tiny bit of oil

1. Heat a tiny bit of oil in a skillet over medium. Feel free to just lightly spray cooking spray instead of oil.
2. Rub a chicken breast in dry seasonings, including a little sugar.
3. Place the chicken in the skillet. Flip after one minute or when browned on the bottom.
4. Allow the opposite side of the chicken to brown, likely two minutes or less.
5. Reduce heat to low, add tomato sauce and diced veggies to skillet with chicken.
6. Simmer over low for three to five minutes.
7. Transfer into a baking dish and place it in the heated oven for ten minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Note: For juicy chicken, cut tiny slits into the breast before adding the veggies and sauce to the skillet. Keep the sauce and veggies close to the chicken. Flip the breast part way through simmering to ensure that both sides are absorbing some moisture.


Thoughts on The Anticlimactic Life

In our modern western culture, we're all told we have a story. We hear many perspectives that rely on the assumption that every person has their own story, determines their own destiny, and can be anything they want to be. Everything comes down to the choices we make and all meaning in every one of our lives depends on what we gain -tangible and intangible.

Sadly, the church often promotes the same message, provoking and inspiring people, like us, to "do something" with our lives, to make a difference, to set goals and reach them and bring the Kingdom now and do what God made us to do. We're told to look for a calling, to find a purpose and meaning, to expect that God has something special for us.

And there is some of these notions. God has plans for us. God uses us for His purposes. He expects our faith to have fruit. The Lord promises His Kingdom and we're reminded that it is His Kingdom that our hope is in (1 Peter 1 has words about where our inheritance is, for example).

But I fear that this focus on "stories" and especially on the individual's own story, misleads us. Perhaps most of all, because our concept of a story involves a climax and a main character, a pinnacle at which everything is tied together because of a person that everything is centered on. And the idea of celebrating and focusing on our "stories" makes us the center and makes our goals the climax we have to reach.

We miss, in so upholding this concept of the individual story, that there is an author doing more than penning nice beginnings, platitudes, healthy plot twists, and a beautiful climax before the happy ending.

We miss that the author of the universe is a character in every individual story and is tying together a story that is much larger, grander, and more meaningful than we understand.

We miss that Christ is the main character in every subsection of history, including our own individual lives, and He has been in the role since the beginning of time.

 Throughout our little micro-stories, in our own little micro-worlds, we set things up as if they will be the pinnacle of our life: things like accomplishing particular goals.

Then, we are surprised when earning that promotion doesn't complete us. When we get married and have a family and something is still lacking. The times in which we reach the highest point we ever dreamed of...and there is yet something else we desire. We feel like life has stagnated, we start to see the brokenness in and around us as a new problem we have to fix, and we stop finding joy and peace...and hope.

And we desperately seek out that thrill in our own little ways. We look for that climactic moment in which everything makes sense and has purpose.

In the process, we utterly miss the truth that the climax of our lives is not in gaining anything but in losing ourselves -in losing the stories we treasure and navigate as if they were maps being designed after our wandering footsteps.

We miss, so sadly, that the point of the story, the climax that we all seek and yearn for, is just the opposite of what we expect. It isn't us. It isn't about us.

Truly the climax of our lives is to meet the main character and to allow our stories to be joined to His story. To the story. Whether we acknowledge it or not, ultimately this is all God's story. When it all comes to an end (that end being eternity...which never actually ends!) the only point that will have mattered is God's. The best that we have to hope for is that we lose ourselves in His story, in His purposes, in His character, and become one, as Jesus prayed:

"“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”" John 17:20-26

And there, in our lives becoming His life, is peace, joy, hope, assurance, and everything else we need and are made for. There is the climax: meaning in the glory of the only one who is worthy of it.

I think we miss out on that when we make God a supporting actor, a distant author, and a stepping stone to whatever climax we believe will make it all feel worthwhile.

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