Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ultimate Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich

What You'll Need:

-Favorite Brownie Mix or Recipe
-2 Cups Creamy Peanut Butter
-1/4 Cup Sugar
-1/4 Cup Shortening

For the Sauce:

-1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
12 Tbsps Butter

How To Do It:

  • Mix up your favorite box of brownies or brownie recipe. Add an extra egg in. 
  • Reduce the cooking temperature you usually use by 25 degrees. 
  • Grease 6 ramekins thoroughly and coat with sugar. 
  • Fill each ramekin 2/3 full with brownie batter. 
  • Bake for approximately 10 minutes less than usual, checking for doneness with a toothpick. 
  • In the meantime, whip peanut butter, sugar, and shortening together until fluffy.
  • Once your brownies are cool enough, remove from ramekins and divide in half.
  • Spread peanut butter filling on the bottom halves, then replace top halves. 
  • Melt chocolate chips and butter together in microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring thoroughly.
  • Once the chocolate is smooth, pour over chocolate peanut butter sandwiches.

Warning: These are super decadent! Alter as needed. And serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for a little "balance"...or an extra treat...depends on your perspective...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why We Like False Gospels

When a false gospel is preached, it seems that often the falsehood is simple derived from over-emphasis on one trait, one gain, one reward, etc.

For example, a gospel of “prosperity” is considered false because of its focus on personal gain and the misconstrued beliefs that follow, like that Christians should always prosper and that Jesus exists to make us happy. Likewise, a gospel of “experience” may put excessive value on the personal encounter with God, leading many to believe that whatever they feel or interpret must be true.

When such a one-sided gospel is presented, it is often to make the true Gospel more palatable. “Gospel” means “good news.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel. It’s the good news that we are redeemed in Christ and can be reconciled with God. But that is big news, and, while giving the deepest joy and peace and purpose to life, is also hard news.

Often false gospels are just snippets of the easier parts of the good news. They address one particular need that is being felt.

Many false gospels, rather than sharing the truth of Jesus Christ, select and run with a chunk of the truth easier to accept for those who aren’t looking to give their lives over to God, acknowledge their sinfulness, and spend eternity glorifying the Lord instead of themselves (and really, how many of us are eager to do that?)

Prosperity gospels share good news about feeling fulfilled and gaining what you desire, not self-sacrifice or laying up treasures worthy of heaven and denying the power of currency of this world. Experience gospels validate feelings and soothe fears of inadequacy at the cost of standing on the more difficult to like, whole truth.

Sometimes, apologetics becomes a false gospel of reason and intellect. Addressing the needs of those who find God irrational or Christianity foolish, the false gospel of apologetics often fails to address the aspect of Christ that is indeed foolishness to this world and that isn’t rational within our bounds of reason.

Apologetics can be presented as being supportive of faith rather than supported by faith. Further, rather than basing a relationship with the Lord on a faith so deep and true that it includes reason, apologetics at times suggests that as reason stands, faith can have a place if you’d like it to.

It’s not that apologetics or appreciating intellect is wrong. Or that the Lord causing you to prosper or blessing you with His presence is anti-Jesus.

Few false gospels that live under the auspices of Christianity say “this is it. It’s all intellect. It’s all in your heart. Or it’s all in your wealth.” It’s rare for such false gospels to even claim to be anti-Jesus.

But rather, in “sheep’s clothing,” many who proclaim false teaching seem harmless and even enticing (Matthew 7:15). At their core, many false gospels fit within the confines of truth, but rather than building up off the foundation of Christ, they build out additions to make the space of faith a little more comfortable.

In Jeremiah 5:30-31, we read that:

“An appalling and horrible thing

    has happened in the land:
 the prophets prophesy falsely,
    and the priests rule at their direction;
my people love to have it so,
    but what will you do when the end comes?”

2 Timothy 4:3 seems to echo the words: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”

It’s no surprise that false teachings always seem to align with the fears or obsessions of current generations or cultures. Many arise not out of a desire to divert from the truth, but to gratify the part of the flesh that is currently hungering most. Like a piece of candy given to a crying child, false gospels are given in response not to needs, but to desires.

We’re a part of that. Our demands to have things our way and to have our preferences often affect the truths we’re willing to hear. We feed and reward those churches that perhaps aren’t heretical but certainly aren’t mature, wholesome, or Biblically-based when we fail to seek the Lord for what He says we need. Instead, we tell the Lord or we direct His words in order to meet the wants that we perceive.

Imagine what we lose. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Announcing a Second Blog!

photo from:

Taste and Truth is still up and running. 

I've also launched a second blog focused of topics concerning Christians weddings and romance. 

It's more female-focused (since we do tend to care a bit more about the flowers and the bridal shower and all that).

Enjoy : )

Thursday, February 12, 2015

At a Price: The Relationship Between Love and Freedom

Why do the innocent suffer? Because of love. God designed love to be based on our free will. He didn’t want to be loved out of fear, or out of compliance. He wanted to be loved out of gratitude. But love has a price tag. If love is free, then a lover is free to be unloving. Otherwise love is forced. Because we are free to be unloving, many of us have been run over…” –Pg. 71. Safe People by Cloud and Townsend

Love and freedom are inextricably connected. The two are interdependent.
Without love, you cannot experience true freedom. Without freedom, love isn’t love.
That’s the way God designed it, and the implications are many:

What Love Gives Us: Freedom

  • ·         Because He loved us, we are free

The truth will set you free.” But what is the truth? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The truth is revealed by the loving character and actions of our Lord. That’s how He gives us freedom.

  • ·         His love gives us the freedom to truly love others

1 John 4:19 says it concisely: “we love because he first loved us.” The love we have to give, in and of ourselves, is limited by our sinful nature. Our natural love is flawed and distorted. But the love of God, instilled in us and flowing through us by the Spirit –that’s perfect. In Christ, we are free to truly love others as He intends, in His timing, as His children.

  • ·         The love of God frees us to be who He made us to be

Sin, as exemplified by Satan’s temptation tactics, tells us that who we are isn’t enough and that we can change who we are in order to be like God. We’re enslaved by the sinful conviction that we must take the place of God in our lives. When we ground our hearts in the love of Christ, we find that we can be who we are and that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What Love Costs: Freedom

  • ·         For God, love meant giving up freedom temporarily

In the person of Christ, God “Himself bore our sins” (1 Peter 2:24). The Lord who created everything and lives forever died for you and me before rising again. He “gave Himself up,” temporarily surrendering His freedom and rightful place. And He did that because of His great love for us.  

  • ·         Loving God means becoming a slave to righteousness

When Christ died and rose again, we were redeemed. Each of us was “bought with a price; do not become slaves of human beings” (1 Corinthians 7:23). Instead, your freedom means being a “slave to righteousness” (Romans 6:18). When you love the Lord, you surrender your will and your freedom to Him that you may gratefully serve Him as an expression and a natural result of your love.

  • ·         Emulating His love requires that we allow others their freedom

The Lord’s love sacrifice’s self. Those who love the Lord plead “take this cup if you are willing” and obey when the answer is “no” (Luke 22:42). Often encumbrances on our freedom are the result of loving others as the Lord does.

Consider the fruit of the Spirit. Those fruits aren’t conditional on those you love behaving how you would like them to. To love like the Lord, you set aside your freedom to sinfully manipulate others or to seek personal gain, and you emulate Godly love (patiently, gently, meekly) as others use their freedom (even in ways you don’t like)!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Promises of God

A sampling of a few of the most popular types of images on the internet that are associated with "promises":

To be clear, I'm not talking about the sources these images came from, or what the images were originally intended for. I'm looking at these as examples of the things that come to mind when we start talking about promises.

Things like making an agreement with someone else, being hurt or disappointed over a broken promise, or keeping a cheery perspective while holding out hope that God's promises are true.

I've known -and you probably have too- people who refuse to make or accept promises for fear of disappointment, as well as people who throw around promises like discount coupons.

Broken promises and agreements can cause a lot of pain. 

Of all those we want to trust and put our hope in, the promises of God stand out. But sometimes, it doesn't feel like God keeps His promises. Sometimes, He seems as unreliable and sneaky as the people around us.

Scripture assures us this isn't the case, for example: 

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise" -2 Peter 3:9
"I will not forget my promises" -2 Chronicles 6:14

It seems that the promises we tend to feel God isn't keeping are the promises He never made. 

That's human. All too often, we add to Scripture. We tack on clauses and develop formulas and make unspoken, one-sided agreements with the Lord.

It's stuff like asking the Lord with the expectation He'll give, but asking with the wrong intentions (James 4:3). Or, the classic "Lord, if you___, then I will___."

You might not phrase it that way. I don't always. For example, in working on a book recently, I was convicted that to write from God's Word, I had to know God's Word. I read all the way through Scripture for the first time. And when I finished His Word, I waited a day...two days. 

Then I got upset. The long-awaited, lots-of-hard-work book was nowhere near finished. I did what He asked. I finished His Word. Why wasn't He enabling me to finish my words?

I didn't start off my reading with "Lord, I'm doing this for you, you do this for me." But somewhere, at some point, in my heart, I determined that because He asked me to write and to read, that He would fulfill it just as I was working hard to fulfill.

That's a promise God never made to me. And it's a just a simple example.

Once a friend of mine swore off dating for a year. Felt like God said not to. And when the year was up, my friend was mad because within a few weeks, even months, God hadn't yet honored the commitment by providing a significant other.

Do you do this?

It can be even subtler…

Like believing what Scripture says about something specific -and applying it more broadly. Or taking what the Word says broadly and applying it specifically to my situation. His Word can easily be twisted, and often it is. 

When we believe the distorted Word of God, we are set up for disappointment. Our expectations are skewed, and our priorities are too.

If God's word is contorted to say that your happiness is God's goal, then you're going to feel at times, like when you're sad or suffering, that God isn't living up to His promises. You're going to place a wrongful priority on your happiness because, if that's what God promised you, then you are entitled to it. 

The promise of God to all people, according to Scripture, is His son Jesus Christ. If you’re looking for God to fulfill His promises, look no further –“it is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus came, He died, He rose again, and He offers the free gift of grace and eternal life.

In the earlier cited verse of Chronicles 6:14, we read about God fulfilling His promise to David to keep his descendants on the throne. Other promises in the Old Testament are similar in that they all play a part in God keeping His word, the word he gave in the beginning when He said that the offspring of woman would crush Satan.

2 Peter 3:9, also cited earlier, says that the Lord isn’t slow in keeping His promise. What promise? The one fulfilled in Christ. The one that continues to be fulfilled in Christ as the Lord so patiently draws people to Himself, giving everyone a chance at eternal life. In Revelation, we read all the more of how God has, is, and will keep His promise.

He will restore the world. He will save His people. His promise is good, it’s perfect, and it matters above all else.

That’s God’s priority. That is what we can rest in and set our hope upon. Those that belong to the Lord will spend eternity in His presence.

A lot of things won’t work out that we think should. Plenty of feelings will be felt that we think shouldn’t be necessary or serve no purpose. Our circumstances often won’t be what, by all reasoning, we deserve.

But in the end, we’ll get what we don’t deserve: mercy and grace. We’ll be made complete in Christ. Our feelings will be all to His glory. And all things will have worked together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

That’s the promise of God. It is sufficient. Surely He is faithful.