Archive for August 2017

Cover Reveal for “A Threatening Fragility”   Leave a comment

A Threatening Fragility Front Cover

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Rockers Who Speak Their Mind   Leave a comment

Dream Machine’s Matthew and Doris Melton were dropped by their record label for being politically-incorrect pragmatists. They exercised their right to express an opinion. Doris, a legal immigrant from Bosnia, said she thought illegal immigrants who break the law should be deported. Doris, a woman, also believes that girl bands have become overly political manhaters who don’t play their instruments properly. Matthew and Doris both believe that we are too sucked into social media that we’re missing out on real life. Those are opinions, but I’m not really sure how they are hateful.

I find it ironic that their record label, Castle Face, dropped them after Matthew said such complimentary things about them.

So, I finally found the interview and thought you should have the opportunity to read what they actually said that was supposedly so “hateful”.

http://www.stillinrock.com/2017/05/interview-dream-machine-melton.html

I first became aware of this controversy on Fox News while I was sweating on the exercise bike. Matthew made a point that I really agreed with – rock has always been about protest and counter-cultural thinking, so it is a real shame that currently you can’t express a politically incorrect opinion without facing sanction.

Matthew believes that, over time, more rock musicians will become more outspoken and start speaking out against political correctness. I hope so and this is my way to do my part toward that movement. Since they don’t do social media, I’ll do it for them.

Stay Tuned for the Cover Reveal   Leave a comment

Image may contain: textThe cover for “A Threatening Fragility” (Book 3 in Transformation Project) will be revealed this evening.

I’m celebrating with a Rafflecopter giveaway of books in the series. The grand prize is all three books in the series.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, you are welcome to join me for a reveal party on Facebook, going on right now.

https://www.facebook.com/events/506887886327272/?active_tab=discussion

 

Our Lord & Savior, the President   Leave a comment

Image result for image of blimey cowSo young to be so wise!

Setting the Table   4 comments

August 28, 2017 – Favorite Foods. What are your favorites, something you could eat weekly or more often. Feel free to share a recipe.

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My parents were restaurant workers. Dad was a chef and Mom was a diner waitress. They even owned a restaurant together for a time. So, I grew up with a tradition of bravery with food and food preparation.

Do I have a favorite dish? Wow, that would be a tough one. I have a favorite broad cuisine – Asian/Oriental. I like a smattering of dishes across the continent. I’m not fond of really hot curries, but I do like milder curries. I’m frankly nervous of sushi because raw fish done wrong will kill you, but I do eat it sometimes. Generally whatever the equivalent of pad thai is in a specific country cuisine is my go-to meal option if dining in a Asian restaurant. I figure if they get that right, I’ll come back and try other dishes at a later time.

I’m fortunate to live in one of the most diverse states in the union. Asian/Oriental restaurants outnumber almost all the other cuisines combined. Oddly, most of these restaurants are owned by Koreans, but they offer other Asian cuisine and do a good job at it. But we also have Italian, Greek, Mexican (by real Mexicans), American Pub Style, Middle Eastern, Seafood, Cuban, Fusion, and, of course, American steakhouses. We even have some vegetarian restaurants. Because Alaska is such a unique place, we have Alaskan-style restaurants which concentrate on what can be flown in fresh by Alaska Airlines. Chena Hot Springs resort also specializes in greenhouse grown veggies from their onsite greenhouses.

Image result for image chinese fried riceBut the truth is, we don’t like to spend a lot of money, so we don’t go out to a lot of restaurants. Instead, I make a lot of meals at home. So, our admin suggested a recipe.I have tons, but this is my son’s favorite.

Chinese Fried Rice

  • Make several servings of rice the night before and allow to cool. This is very important. You won’t get good results with warm rice.
  • Cube up Chinese barbecue pork (you can use any meat, but Kiernan likes barbecue pork). This should be tiny pieces.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in a wok. Beat eggs with water and make a thin omelette in the wok. Remove from wok and shred into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add more oil to the wok – you could splurge and add sesame oil. Don’t skimp. You want enough oil to coat the individual grains of rice when added.
  • Add a chopped up yellow onion to the hot oil. Add enough soy sauce to double the pan liquid — you can cut it with water if it’s too salty (or use low salt soy).
  • Chop up a red bell pepper (it could be any color, but again, Kiernan likes it that way).
  • Add spices. My favorite are chile powder, ground mustard, tumeric/curry powder, cinnamon. Flavor to taste. I can’t give exact measurements, but I’d guess about 1 tsp each.
  • When the onion is translucent, the pork and a bag of frozen peas and carrots. Stir. (Using frozen makes this a simple recipe. You can use fresh, but you will need to cook before adding to the rice which turns a 15-minute meal into an hour or more)
  • Add cold rice. Break up chunks. Stir to coat individual grains with spices and oil. Add the eggs.

Let mixture warm through. Serve hot.

 

Now my favorite weeknight meal. It takes 25 minutes.

  • Oil in the wok. Canola or vegetable will do. I find sesame is too strong for this dish.
  • Start rice enough for who you plan to feed.
  • Add cubed up pork (could be chicken, beef or shrimp) to the oil when hot.
  • Add onions and peppers. (I buy these as a frozen mixture for weeknight ease).
  • Add soy sauce (I preferred brewed).
  • Add spices. Tumeric, chile, ground mustard, ground ginger, cumin, cinnamon. Experiment for taste. Stir.
  • When meat is almost done, add one or two bags of frozen Asian vegetables. Stir. We also like to add kale, bokchoy or mustard greens to this, but it’s not necessary and is probably an acquired taste.
  • Pour some bottled sesame-ginger sauce over the warming vegetables. (I make my own, but that’s a lot work for just one meal, and the store brand isn’t bad).
  • Put the wok lid on and turn to low. Come back when the rice is ready. Put stir-fry mixture over rice. The melt water from the veggies and the soy sauce combines with the sesame-ginger sauce to make a great sauce that soaks into the rice.

Image result for image pork stir fryIf it takes more than a half-hour to prepare, you’re doing something wrong or making brown rice, which is a valid excuse. The coolest thing about this is that you can change up the flavors with different bags of vegetables or swap the rice for thin noodles (I prefer whole wheat durum thin spaghetti over Asian noodles, but you can do it YOUR way.) Sometimes we use chow mien noddles, adding them to the top of the dish while the veggies are reducing. It gives a crunchy-soft mix to the flavors.

 

Posted August 28, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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#Free #Apocalyptic   Leave a comment

lifeasweknewitFirst in series, #free today only.

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Posted August 27, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion, Uncategorized

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A More Excellent Way   Leave a comment

A friend tells me that he thinks 1 Corinthians 13 may be the most misunderstood chapter in the Bible, because people don’t read it in context. It is sandwiched between Chapter 12 and Chapter 14, which both discuss spiritual gifts within the church. If that’s the gem setting, it casts the message of the chapter in a different light. Because I can’t cover three chapters in one post, I had to break it up, but you can read it for yourself in one go.

And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison. (1Corinthians 12:31b)

The Way of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angelsbut I do not have loveI am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophesy, and know all mysteries and all knowledgeand if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have loveI am nothing. If I give away everything I ownand if I give over my body in order to boastbut do not have loveI receive no benefit.

Love is patientlove is kindit is not enviousLove does not bragit is not puffed up. It is not rudeit is not self-servingit is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injusticebut rejoices in the truth. It bears all thingsbelieves all thingshopes all thingsendures all things.

Love never endsBut if there are propheciesthey will be set asideif there are tonguesthey will ceaseif there is knowledgeit will be set aside. For we know in partand we prophesy in part, but when what is perfect comesthe partial will be set aside. When I was a childI talked like a child, I thought like a childI reasoned like a childBut when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectlybut then we will see face to faceNow I know in partbut then I will know fullyjust as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faithhopeand loveBut the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

Introduction

Image result for image of christian loveI find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe the Corinthians deliberately chose to abandon Christian love. I believe they were so caught up in certain spiritual gifts that they had unconsciously abandoned true love. They were something like Samson after Delilah cut his hair. Samson leapt to his feet, fully expecting to be able to handle the Philistines, not knowing that God’s power had departed (see Judges 16:18-21). The Corinthian church was like the church at Ephesus which had lost its first love (Revelation 2:1-7).

Why is love important? Why do Christians need to study it more intently?

  • The whole Old Testament Law is summed up by the one word, “love” (see Leviticus 19:17-18Matthew 19:19).
  • Love sums up the Christian’s responsibilities in the New Testament (Romans 13:9).
  • Love is the capstone, the crowning virtue, the consummation of all other virtues (Galatians 5:22-232 Peter 1:5-7Colossians 3:12-14).
  • Love is the goal of Paul’s instruction (1 Timothy 1:5).
  • Love is the distinguishing mark of the true Christian (John 13:35).
  • Without love, the value of spiritual gifts is greatly diminished (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).
  • Love is greater than any of the spiritual gifts and is even greater than faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13).
  • Love endures suffering under persecution, and Christians will be persecuted (Matthew 24:102 Timothy 3:12).
  • Love is easily lost, without one’s even being aware of it (Revelation 2:1-7).
  • Love is misunderstood and distorted by the unbelieving world.
  • Love is vitally important to Christians, for it should govern our relationships with other Christians, especially those with whom we strongly disagree.

So why did Paul decide to address love right in the middle of an ongoing discussion of spiritual gifts? I think it was because the church at Corinth greatly resembled the churches of today. In the Corinthian church of Paul’s day, and in the evangelical church of our own day, strong polarization exists between charismatic Christians and non-charismatic Christians. As the charismatic movement has grown, it has become more diversified, thereby rendering many generalizations about it reductionistic, but its fair to say both charismatics and non-charismatics often cherish neat stereotypes of the other party.

As judged by the charismatics, non-charismatics tend to be stodgy traditionalists who do not really believe the Bible and who are not really hungry for the Lord. They are afraid of profound spiritual experience, too proud to give themselves wholeheartedly to God, more concerned for ritual than for reality, and more in love with propositional truth than with the truth incarnate. They are better at writing theological tomes than at evangelism; they are defeatist in outlook, defensive in stance, dull in worship, and devoid of the Spirit’s power in their personal experience.

The non-charismatics themselves, of course, tend to see things a little differently. The charismatics, they think, have succumbed to the modern love of ‘experience,’ even at the expense of truth. Charismatics are thought to be profoundly unBiblical, especially when they elevate their experience of tongues to the level of a theological and spiritual shibboleth. If they are growing, no small part of their strength can be ascribed to their raw triumphalism, their populist elitism, their promise of short cuts to holiness and power. They are better at splitting churches and stealing sheep than they are at evangelism, more accomplished in spiritual one-upmanship before other believers than in faithful, humble service. They are imperialistic in outlook (only they have the ‘full gospel’), abrasive in stance, uncontrolled in worship, and devoid of any real grasp of the Bible that goes beyond mere proof-texting.

Of course, both sides concede that the caricatures I have drawn admit notable exceptions; but the profound suspicions on both sides make genuine dialogue extremely difficult. This is especially painful, indeed embarrassing, in the light of the commitment made by most believers on both sides to the Bible’s authority. (D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), pp. 11-12.)

But, while all Christians now share in the “unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3; compare 4:5; 2:14-22; 1 Corinthians 12:13), we do not all share in the “unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:13). This is because we only “know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). We Christians disagree, in part at least, because our knowledge is partial and incomplete. We don’t know what we don’t know and we tend to disagree over those things we do not fully know, even though we may believe we do know. Love is the means God provided for us to live in harmony and unity, even though there is a diversity of doctrine in matters which are not fundamental. Paul’s instructions on love then become absolutely vital to our Christian walk and unity.

What is distinctive about Christian love? It’s important to answer that question before looking further at Chapter 13. We overuse that word “love” in the modern world so that the meaning of the word is sort of fluid. And, yes, there are different Greek words for our single English word love and they all have different nuances of meaning, but I’m not going to get into that in this study. Paul provided us with a definition of Christian love in the writing of Chapter 13.

He didn’t instruct us about the importance of distinguishing between Greek words for love. He began in verses 1-3 by showing that spiritual gifts have only minimal value, unless they are exercised in love. In verses 4-7, Paul didn’t attempt to give us a very technical definition of love; instead, he described love in a way which makes it very clear what Biblical love looks like. His description makes it glaringly evident that the Corinthians had indeed lost their first love, even more quickly than the Ephesian saints (compare Revelation 2:1-7). If verses 4-7 contrast the behavior of true love with the conduct of the Corinthians, verses 8-13 contrast love with all spiritual gifts, showing that while all of the spiritual gifts are temporary, Christian love is eternal, outlasting even faith and hope. If we measure the value of something by how long it lasts, love comes out on top. Love is the “better way” (see 12:31) beyond all comparison.

I’m going to break the study up into segments over the next few weeks, but before doing that, I want to make a few observations.  Paul took what are considered to be the greatest gifts anyone could possess, starting with tongues (the “ultimate gift” for the Corinthians and many charismatics today), and granted that each could be exercised to the fullest possible extent. Even then, these spiritual gifts would be of limited value unless exercised out of a heart of love.

Tongues is the ability to speak in unlearned earthly languages as seen in Acts 2. Or is it? If you go back to that Biblical passage (Acts 2) and read it without a preconception, you quickly realize that the miracle was not that the disciples spoke in tongues, but that the hearers understood what they were saying in their own language. Peter could not have preached in more than one language. It would be a physical impossibility to speak in more than one language at the same time. Yet, hearers from all over the Mediterranean understood what he said.  So, while the disciples did speak in tongues that day, it may not be the sort of tongues we are familiar with today. And, even if it were, Paul declared, if this were done apart from love, it would not be profitable to men: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Can you imagine listening to a cymbal or a gong hour after hour? I actually can because my nephew played the drums. Babysitting him was hell. Hour after agonizing hour of drums pounding away. Some instruments are not good alone. Rather than being enjoyable, they can be irritating. A tongues speaker without love could speak long and loud, enraptured by the sound of his own voice, but apart from interpretation, there would be no value to those who hear or even to the speaker (see 14:14-17). Exercised in love, and in accordance with the restrictions set down by Paul, tongues could be edifying. But without love, tongues would be irritating.

How do I know? I have worshiped with charismatics on-and-off throughout my Christian walk. In very few groups is any interpretation offered. In one prayer meeting a woman erupted into an ecstatic utterance that sounded a great deal like an old-style coffee percolator. I got nothing spiritual out of that meeting, though occasionally I have been in groups where interpretation occurred and it was very uplifting.

Any gift exercised primarily for the benefit of the one who is gifted is a prostitution of that gift, and the end result of that kind of “ministry” is not edification but exasperation. Love seeks to serve others to their benefit and at the sacrifice of the one who serves in love. This kind of ministry blesses others. Self-serving, self-promoting ministry is a pain to others, something to be endured at best.

The Corinthians wrongly measured their own significance by the gifts they possessed. Were this false assumption granted even for a moment, without love, the greatest gift, exercised to the fullest measure, really makes the exerciser a nobody.

Luke 7:36-50 illustrates this truth. There, everybody who was considered important seems to have gathered at the dinner Jesus attended at the home of Simon the Pharisee. A woman regarded as a “nobody” came, uninvited, and washed the feet of our Lord. Simon the Pharisee took note and, in his heart, thought less of Jesus because He allowed this woman to touch him. He thought, “If Jesus knew who she was and what a sinner she was, He would have nothing to do with her.” But Jesus turned the tables. This woman went away forgiven and saved. She who was a “nobody” was a “somebody” in the kingdom of God, simply because she loved her Lord. The one who was least, but loved, was the greatest. Those who were the greatest, without love, were the least.

Look at Jonah, the prophet. He enjoyed the kind of “success” of which the prophet Elijah could only dream. Elijah wanted to convert the nation Israel. He “failed” because this was not God’s purpose for him. So, too, Isaiah “failed” by secular standards of success. But when Jonah preached, the entire city of Nineveh repented. It was a success Jonah did not want. It was a success that made Jonah angry with God. Who could leave the Book of Jonah liking this loveless prophet? He was nothing because he lacked love.

In addition to the gift of prophecy, Paul wrote of the gift of faith. Faith, exercised to the ultimate measure of success, would be a faith that could not only move mountains but remove them (compare Matthew 17:20; 21:21). If one had this kind of faith, yet lacked love, he would be a nobody.

If I possess the greatest of gifts and exercise them to the fullest degree, yet without love, I am nobody. I am nothing. These words must have struck the Corinthians with considerable force.

In verse 3, Paul speaks of gifts in terms of the greatest imaginable sacrifice. “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Paul spoke of great personal sacrifice that would gain one favor and approval by his peers (compare Matthew 6:2-4). The ultimate sacrifice is made, either by giving up all of one’s possessions for the sake of the poor, or by the giving up of one’s life as a martyr. Because love is sacrificial (see Ephesians 5:25), some might be tempted to conclude that “great sacrifice” (giving up all one’s possessions or one’s life) was proof of great love.

Paul disagreed. People give away their possessions for any number of reasons, and many of those reasons can be self-serving rather than sacrificial. So what if I bequeath all my wealth to a charitable organization upon my death. I can’t take my money with me anyway. Even if I deprive my children of any inheritance, it really doesn’t mean I’m generous. I’m dead. The bequest doesn’t affect my life. People have set themselves on fire for causes they believe in and I’ve heard pundits ascribe that action to a love motive. I’m not confinced. Ultimate sacrifices can be made apart from love, and if they are loveless, they are of no eternal benefit to the one making the sacrifice.

Benefits and blessings may occur through the loveless exercise of spiritual gifts, but these benefits are greatly reduced when love is lacking. The Corinthians were obsessed with the value of spiritual gifts, equating the social status of the gift with the significance of the one who possesses it. Paul sought to elevate love, the fruit of the Spirit, above the gifts of the Spirit.

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