Boot Camp for New Believers

I have been involved in a Bible study with my small group, which unfortunately is disbanding because only four of us came on a regular basis and that includes the couple in whose home we were meeting. The whole church has been going through the Positive Action book Milk. We got into a discussion about what tools we would choose to further disciple a new believer. I put forth the suggestions of a good Bible concordance and a Bible dictionary as references, and to start a study working through John, Acts, and Romans, to cover the gospel, early church history, and a good foundation in doctrine. I was immediately shot down about the length of John and how it would be too intimidating for a new believer and we should start them out with a much shorter book, even if it is not as easy to understand so they would have a sense of accomplishment when they were done so soon.

That has frankly been sticking in my craw. That is not how we teach. Starting with something short but confusing so the student can feel good about finishing it rather than beginning with the basics and building a firm foundation? Is this how we welcome any newborn? Welcome to the world, have a steak? Is that how we train for any other endeavor? Is that how we start soldiers in any other conflict?

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12

The answer is a resounding, “No!” We start recruits out in boot camp, training them rigorously over and over again in the basics of what they will need to know and how to face the enemy. Ask any sports coach the same thing. Because Satan will look at the new believer and see nothing but fresh meat. We cannot, must not allow them to be turned into cannon fodder. Once we have led someone to the Lord, we become their spiritual parent. We can no more abandon them after that event than a natural parent can abandon his or her child. The relationship is an eternal one, bound by the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ. We have become so egocentric that we forget inherent in every relationship is a reciprocity of responsibility. Ephesians 5:21 – 6:9 and Colossians 3:18 – 4:1 both emphasize this in showing the dual responsibilities of mutual submission as unto the Lord. We need to guide the newborn along into the corpus of the Truth with patience and long-suffering, letting him or her know that we are in this together for the long haul. Training together, fighting together, working together, serving together; serving each other and the Lord.

 

Positive Action also has Meat, Bread, and Fish study booklets available on their site. I remember Milk, Meat, and Bread from my teens, but I don’t remember Fish. I will have to check into them as I can in the future for personal study.

Book Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews (Innkeeper #2)

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2)Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again, Andrews spins a web of many threads into a complex tapestry that dazzles the reader and draws her in.
In this second installment of the series, Dina is playing host to a Peace Conference that no other Innkeeper would touch. Betrayals, manipulation on a Machiavellian scale, assassinations, and a culprit that had me slapping my forehead thinking that I should have seen it coming because all the clues were there.
The world building is meticulous and intricate. Cultures are diverse and well-developed with their own histories and consistent internal logic. I’m addicted.

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Thanksgiving 2015

Of all the things I am thankful for, my salvation must take the top spot, but where things fall from there is a turkey shoot. My cats, my relative health, my living conditions, my relative mental status, my comfort, my stability, my family, my friends, my rediscovered joy in cooking, my writing, my freedoms as an American. All these gifts from God that surround me and that I know could be taken at the blink of an eye, I am so thankful for.


William Bradford giving thanks at the first thanksgiving by Jennie Brownscombe.

There are some nice people bring me a Thanksgiving meal today since I don’t really have family to celebrate with. Brother #1 is probably working at the car dealership and Sister-in-law #1 wouldn’t go out if her way to come get me. Everyone else is out of state. I’ll probably do some phone calling later.

 


Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way?

I have seen this phrase many times in my life, as the title of Bible Studies, messages, and devotional speeches. There was also a book by this title that I saw as a young woman directed at male Christian leadership. Shoot, I’ve even passed it on as a meme myself. I was awakened this morning with a conviction by the Spirit of this attitude. In my essay on the Bible not being misogynistic, I made the comparison of the man being the captain of the team. This is not a team-building attitude, especially on a Christ-centered team. As believers and followers of Christ, we are admonished to:

  1. Build one another up –

     

    Romans 14:19 – “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”

     

    Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

     

  2. Bear one another’s burdens –

     

    Galatians 6:2 – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

     

  3. Submit ourselves to one another –

     

    Ephesians 5:21 – Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

     

  4. Serve one another –

     

    Galatians 5: 13 – “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

     

  5. Admonish one another –

     

    Romans 15:14 – “And I myself am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

     

  6. Love one another – so many, but this one sums up the motivation and the example the best –

     

    Ephesians 5:2 – “And walk in love, as Christ hath also loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

     

  7. Grieve not the Holy Spirit –

     

    Ephesians 4:30 – “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

     

  8. Have the mind of Christ –

     

    Philippians 2:5-8 – Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The last is the most important. Christ was not a dominating leader. He had the mind and attitude of a Servant. He was the King of Heaven and came to earth to die for our sins. He was “made lower than the angels“. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. He sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane, yet said, “Not My will.”

 

So let us say instead, “Father, lead us. We will follow Christ and we will get out of the way of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us.”

Book Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Introducing the concept of Inns, semi-sentient, symbiotic waystations that absorb energy from the presence of guests to provide a magical safe haven for them; this book is a wonderful start to a new series by one of my favorite ‘authors’, a husband-and-wife tandem team writing under the name of Ilona Andrews. (If you haven’t already, check out the Kate Daniels series.)

Dina DeMille is an Innkeeper, as were her parents. After a fruitless search across the Great Beyond to find them and their missing five-star (on a one-to-four scale) inn, Dina is asked to take on the dormant Gertrude Hunt. Struggling to awaken the potential of the Inn, Dina, her magical ‘Broom’, her dog, Beast (a Shih Tzu Chi), and their single permanent guest (a bloodthirsty, genocidal, interplanetary tyrant in asylum) run into werewolves, vampires, intergalactic assassins, and a too-inquisitive local cop. Some light romance that is part of the story but doesn’t overwhelm the integrity of the whole.

I immediately bought the second eBook, Sweep in Peace, upon finishing the first.

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Chicken Salad

My friend (Facebook counts, right?), Cedar Sanderson, will post on her blog a feature she likes to call “Eat This While You Read That”. Cedar will get recipes from other authors that they like and/or feel will pair well with one of their books. She prepares the recipe, with instructions, commentary, and pictures, and tells a little bit about the author’s work, especially the book that goes with this recipe. Need I mention that Cedar is intimidating as all get out? Newly remarried, mother of two, digital photographer, full-time graduate student taking a double major, *and* a professional author. I even reviewed one of her books here.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a recipe of my own that may go well with reading my blog. It’s my own spin on the old classic, chicken salad.

Ingredients:

    2 6 oz. pkg. of chicken breast strips (I get the southwest seasoned for more flavor)

    ½ diced jumbo red onion

    1 diced bell pepper (Pick a color, any color! I most recently used orange, but I’ve used red, green, orange, and purple.)

    4-5 stalks celery, also diced

    1 3.5 oz. pkg. bacon bits

    ½ 16 oz. bottle Peppercorn Ranch dressing

 

Directions:

Chop chicken, but not too finely. I like to know I’m chewing on something, not a sandwich made with baby food.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.

Refrigerate in an air-tight container.

Serve wrapped in small flour tortillas.

 

There you go. CJ’s colorful, flavorful chicken salad.

Tornadoes, Snow Flurries, and Two Book Reviews

So, in the middle of November, with typical Iowa whimsy, the weather presented us with six confirmed tornadoes, with eleven possibles yet to be evaluated, and then snow flurries. No accumulation, thankfully. Not even a dusting on the ground when I was chivvied out of bed by my feline overlords’ demand for breakfast.

Then, being “my town”, literally *seven hours* after all the storms had passed and the skies were clear, my power went out. I should have known better. I had just reset the clock on the VCR from the last time the power went out last summer. I was on the way to bed anyway but had planned on reading before going to sleep. I read a while by flashlight. T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, but decided to quit after about half an hour.
I woke up a couple of hours later and the power was on again. I reset the clocks, except for the one on the stove and the VCR (I learned my lesson) and, because I couldn’t fall asleep again, I decided to read for a while. This time, I got my Kindle. Good thing, too. After about an hour, the power went out again.I was on a roll, so I finished one short novella (novelette? I can never remember the difference) and started, then finished a new book. The reviews are below. I finished the book at about 7:00 am, but the cats decided they were starving at 9:15, so I was up and about without a lot of sleep.

Bolg, PI: The Vampire BrideBolg, PI: The Vampire Bride by Dave Freer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short and cute. The story as well as the main character. Bolg, the medium-boiled, sarcastic, Pictish detective goes to work for a vampire bride who was left at the altar. The adventure to track down her missing bridegroom leads through a cemetery, a strip club, and a basement.
The $2.99 price tag is a little steep for 50 pages. It is a good story and a good introduction to the character and the series.

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A Cat Among DragonsA Cat Among Dragons by Alma Boykin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A half-breed running for her life, Rada ni Drako, nee Rakoji da Kavalle (a vile insult in the language of her father’s people), sometime Trader, sometime mercenary, finds herself the Lord Defender of the planet Drakon IV.
Working against the reptilian race’s prejudice against females and mammals, she earns the respect of her troops and establishes a safe place for herself. However, I’m sure the adventure is only beginning. I look forward to the following books in this series.

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Potassium and Haloperidol

Yes, I know I’m falling behind on my goal of posting every day. This has been kind of a crazy week, but I am trying.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I have been struggling with persistently low blood potassium. I had been tested at 3.4 before and so my previous PCP put me on 10 mEq every day. Normal range is 3.5 to 5.0 mEg/liter. My new PCP tested me again when I first visited her and the test came back as 3.2, so she had me double the dose to 20 mEq. We tested again in a week. It *dropped* to 2.8! So she doubled it again to 20 mEq twice a day. That brought it up to 3.1. Dose up to 20 mEq three times a day. Brought the level up to 3.2. I think it is almost hilarious that raising the dose is actually dropping the blood level. Then she decided to try cutting my hydrochlorothiazide in half, but somewhere in the conduit the one week follow up blood test for that one got lost. My endocrinologist also did various bodily fluid tests and things there were all normal. So now she is sending me to a nephrologist. I haven’t been experiencing the usual symptoms of leg cramps or heart palpitations. Then, in doing some research today, I discovered some of the less common symptoms are abnormal psychological behaviors like depression, psychosis, delirium, confusion, or hallucinations.
I have been complaining to my psychologist about an increase in the visual hallucinations I’ve been experiencing. We’ve been going back and forth about starting on one of the new antipsychotics because I am at a higher risk of developing the side effect of diabetes. I was diagnosed with type 2 many years ago and was on a series of prescriptions for insulin resistance, which was also a symptom of my PCOS. Then about four years ago, when my A1C had been consistently running around 4.8 to 5.2, my PCP felt that I really didn’t need to be on a medication that I was not exhibiting symptoms for. I did not protest dropping a drug I didn’t need when I already take more than enough for other things that do need treatment. Anyway, on Thursday she settled on Haloperidol as the least likely to create negative interactions with my other meds. We are starting on a dose of 2 mg at bedtime and checking back in a month. I didn’t notice any help last night. I looked it up today as well and saw that it could take several weeks to get the full benefit. Considering I saw her after being awake for 30 hours straight, I think we came to a reasonable conclusion. In addition to the hallucinations, I have been having increased severity of nightmares. I had one a couple of weeks ago that had me waking up almost screaming with a panic attack. I called my mom right away and kept redialing until I got past her voice mail. I could hardly speak. I was stuttering and my heart was practically beating out of my chest. The cats did come cuddle.
Speaking of which, (smile), I took them to the vet on Wednesday for the first time since I had them declawed in 2006 when I got my SSDI settlement. For being 13 years old, they are both in very good shape. I discovered that the reason Pacem has been having the “chattering” motion with his jaw is most likely because he has a broken tooth that is causing him a lot of pain when he bites down on it. Poor kitty! The estimate for the surgery to fix it, including the pre-surgery blood work, comes to $450-$530 depending on how long they have to actually keep him under anesthesia. I guess I know where next year’s rent rebate is going.
Well, I think I have made up a little for the days I have missed, so I am going to quit for the day.

Cooking

Cooking is a whole new adventure for me now. When I was younger, especially when Dad was working full-time second shift, going to school full-time first shift and Mom was working full-time third shift, I got to do a lot of cooking for the family. Granted it was simple stuff. Mac and cheese, hamburger casserole, stone soup, peeling and making the mashed potatoes and vegetables while Mom made the chicken fried steak. Only she made it soft, not fried crisp, kind of like built in gravy. I made spaghetti and meat crumbles (browned and broken into chunks, not fancy-schmancy balls). I was a much pickier eater then. I have branched out since. I will eat cooked carrots, green beans, rice, brussel sprouts, broccoli, raw cauliflower, even (some) beans in my chili. Still ain’t touching peas, lima beans, asparagus, liver (or any other organ meat for that matter), or beets. I’m still kind of iffy on the whole zucchini, squash, sweet potato front, though.

I just started with an online meal planning service. Every week, they send a budget friendly plan for 7 meals portioned for 1-2 servings. Some of them are off, with one thing in the description, another in the ingredients list and a third in the instructions. This past Sunday, I tried to follow the recipe for pumpkin pancakes. 2 cups pancake mix to 3 and a half cups water. I thought that seemed like a lot, but I thought maybe they were compensating for the pumpkin. Nope. When I ended up wth soup, I doubled checked the box and that was more than twice the amount of water needed. So I added 2 more cups of the pancake mix. They said I could freeze the leftover pancakes. Maybe I could skip a step and freeze the batter?
Tried to cook the on an electric fry pan I have. It’s an old heavy-duty iron one. Suckers stuck ugly on an ape. Okay, maybe not enough oil. I’ll try the skillet I cooked the bacon in. Any more oil in the bottom of that one and I’d be deep frying the things. Might as well call them funnel cakes at that point and sell them at the State Fair.
After much struggle and frustration, I came up with 5 pancakes and a bowl full of batter. The pancakes were good with maple syrup. S said she’d be glad to take the batter home to feed her boys.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the next week’s recipes are going to be. Some of the better recipes last week were smothered pork chops in the slow cooker, Italian sausage-and-potato soup, loaded baked potato and BBQ chicken casserole, and pesto chicken with zucchini and summer squash over pasta. Lots of spice and flavor, which is good, because with my poor sense of smell, I need the strong flavors. I can smell three kinds of flowers: roses, lilacs, and “flowers”. Lilacs are my favorite. Well, that’s it for today. I may revisit this one later in the month, but I’m getting kitty-swarmed because he thinks it’s bedtime and must finish.