The title of this book is too intriguing not to read the entire book. And it’s only 54 pages of content without the acknowledgements and Scripture index pages.

The real question is, if God really desire all to be saved, then why doesn’t he save them all? Why does he allow some to endure eternal punishment?

I am writing the following purely for my own understanding. It’s not an attempt to summarize what Piper said since he explains it much better and I may not fully represent what he said.

Both the Armenian and Reform view agree that while God really does desire all to be saved, God does let some to be punished. They differ in the reason why. Armenians say it’s because God is restrained by his commitment to ultimate human self-determination. Free will is such a high priority that he allows people to make their choice even though he would will that they be saved. While this sounds right to us from a human point of view, it doesn’t seem to be what Scripture teaches. If this were true, that means human choice is stronger than God’s will. God does not have absolute control of all his creations. Scripture is clear that God has absolute control over everything. His will cannot be thwarted by human choice.

The reform view says God’s will to save all is restrained by his commitment to the glorification of the full range of his perfections in exalting his sovereign grace (p.52) But if that is true that God can in fact choose to save all but he doesn’t, isn’t he making people suffer? And isn’t that evil to make people suffer when you have power to stop it for your own glory?

The book gives several places in Scripture showing that God does allow evil, sometimes even wills it. “…God chooses for behavior to come about that he commands not to happen.” (p.29) Does that mean God has sinned in willing sin to take place, even when he said not to sin?

Reformed view appeals to “secondary causes” or “intermediate causes” between God’s sovereign will and the immediate effecting of a sinful act. (p.42) Quoting Jonathan Edwards: “It implies no contraction to suppose that an act may be an evil act, and yet that it is a good thing that such an act should come to pass…As for instance, it might be an evil thing to crucify Christ, but yet it was a good thing that the crucifying of Christ came to pass.” (p.38) “In other words, the Scriptures lead us to the insight that God can will that a sinful act come to pass without willing it as an act of sin in himself (p.38)

Another issue of discussion is, if God has compassion for people, yet doesn’t save them if he’s able, that means his love is not love at all. He’s a hypocrite. The answer to this argument Piper quotes Robert L. Dabney’s analogy from the life of George Washington. Washington faced a decision of a young Major Andre’s treasonous acts. Signing the death warrant for his friend was one of the most difficult thing he’s had to do. Washington’s compassion for his friend was real and profound, but if so, then why did he sign the death warrant? “Washington’s volition to sign the death warrant of Andre did not arise from the fact that his compassion was slight or feigned, but from the fact that it was rationally counterpoised by a complex of superior judgments…of wisdom, duty, patriotism, and moral indignation…” (p47-48)

There are arguments against this analogy, explained in the book that I will not go over.

Overall, this book helped me to understand this complex question of why God does not choose to save everyone. No explanation can satisfy every question this side of heaven, but there are certainly reasonable ones that help me understand Scripture more.

 

 

25
Jul

I wanted to do a podcast with our family pastor at church, for church people. But we haven’t had time.

So I decided to experiment with my own podcast. Thanks to Aaron for his help whenever I need it.

This was recorded a few weeks ago, and I finally sat down to learn how to host it on Soundcloud. I’ve submitted for iTunes approval, so maybe you can subscribe when that happens.

I’ve held off posting this on my facebook because I’m not sure if I want all my friends to see it. But I probably will after I do a couple of episodes.

 

 

Thom Rainer mentioned this book in one of his podcasts. He didn’t talk about it, he just mentioned that it was a good book. Since it was available at the library, I read it.  If it wasn’t free to read, I don’t think I would’ve bought it. Not that it’s not a good book but it’s not a topic that I would’ve wanted to invest money in. I did want to read it though, because much of what we do in life, in fact almost everything, is teamwork.

After reading the book, I searched Youtube for Patrick Lenioni’s lectures. He’s a great speaker. Also found out he’s Catholic, which makes sense given some Christian references in the book. His company is a consulting firm for many companies and organizations, including churches.

The book starts with a fable to display how the 3 characteristics of an ideal team player is played out in a construction company. That made it more interesting and faster to read. Lencioni starts off by saying that the 3 characteristics of the ideal team player is simple and obvious. But when explained the way how the 3 interacted together, it was very insightful.

So the 3 characteristics are Hungry, Humble, and Smart – people smart.

There is always room to grow in all areas. But if anyone is deficient in an area, it would affect the entire team. If everyone on the team is an ideal team player according to the definition, productivity would excel as well as having an ideal environment to work in. The idea is not to fire people who come up short, or to label people a certain way. It is a helpful way to pinpoint ways to help people grow that would be most effective.

This is a good framework to use to see how I can grow and help those I work with to grow. It’s simple enough to remember, which I think is Lencioni’s intent, yet can have maximum impact.

30
May

This is the best Char Sui Chinese roast pork sauce I’ve had. The original recipe is from one of my favorite recipe sites. She’s paleo which means I can eat most of what she makes. Her cookbook is beautiful!

As with every recipe, I tweak it with what I have on hand. So here’s my version of NomNomPaleo’s Chinese roast pork marinade and sauce.

1/2 cup any kind of jam – my fav is apricot, but I’ve also used my homemade orange marmalade

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 Tablespoons tomato paste – I cheat and use ketchup or cook up some fresh tomatoes if I don’t have tomato paste

1 Tablespoon of almond butter – this is the game changer in this recipe, makes all the difference, don’t skip this ingredient

1 Tablespoon honey – optional if you want to keep down sugar, I skip it for myself, but add it if it’s for other people

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder – I add a little more because I like the flavor

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder – I add more of this too

1 teaspoon of salt – you can add more if you’re not on low salt restrictions

Heat in a pot to blend everything nice and smooth, cool and marinade the pork according to the recipe.

I only put sauce recipes here to remind myself. You’ll have to go to NomNomPaleo for the rest of the cooking instructions. The recipe works great, comes out just like her pictures, no lie!

 

 

 

 

29
May

I made this to put on my broiled pomfret. It’s an adaptation of several sauces I was looking at.

I think I’ll make it again to put on other dishes.

1/2 – 1 Tablespoon lemon juice – or lime but I only had lemon. I used 1/2 because I don’t like it too sour

1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes -or chili or whatever spicy ingredient you want

4 garlic cloves

2 -3 green onions – depending on how big they are, it’s up to you

2 Tablespoons fish sauce

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves – this is a must. I love basil so I added more

4 Tablespoons coconut oil – if you don’t like coconut, you can use olive or other healthy, yummy oil

1 teaspoon melted butter

optional 3 kaffir lime leaves – I did not have this, but one recipe includes this. I would like to try it next time if I ever get some.

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender.

I had a little leftover sauce after the fish meal. The next day I stirred it in some yogurt and put it on leftover shredded chicken. I’ve cut taco shells out of my diet, but my hubs put the chicken and the sauce in the shell along with some zucchini. It made a great lunch.

 

In keeping with my goal of reading a book a month, I count this one even though technically I used this book to lead small groups. Actually, I read this more thoroughly than other books and marked it up quite a bit because I had to internalize it in order to lead a discussion on it. It’s a book made for group discussions.

The Gospel-Centered Community by Robert Thune & Will Walker was recommended to me by Pastor H. He hasn’t read this one, but he likes the writings of Thune. I have to be honest, I didn’t love this study guide. I only used it loosely for my groups.

To be fair, I didn’t use it completely. I didn’t give participants each a book. I merely read the material and led the discussion. If I had thought it was good enough, I would’ve bought a book for each person, but I didn’t think it was worth it.

The topics are good, and the concepts presented are fine. In the attempt to make this “practical”, there are exercises we are suppose to do together. This is where I found impractical. Maybe in my context I didn’t think it’d work. For example, the chapter on How the Gospel Shapes Community, the exercise is to have communal prayer and worship. We are to read some Psalms and scriptures together, and confess our sin and idolatry. Perhaps this would be a good experience for a small small group like 3-4 people, but anything over that is awkward to have deep open confession.

Overall, the book gave useful background and understanding of what a gospel-centered community would look like, but I didn’t think it’s that great of a study guide. I’m sure the authors’ other material on community is better.

 

I’ve been downloading free ebooks. They are free…and they are short usually. And they are concise. I know some of the free stuff are a teaser for the real book they want you to buy but that’s ok with me. I like getting an overview and if I like the topic I will in fact buy the book. I love books.

I like printing out the downloaded ebook, it’s easier for me to read that way. Maybe if I had a Kindle or tablet, I may not do that. But it’s not a pleasant experience to read a book on my iphone or on my laptop.

This Primer by Bill Hull and Ben Sobels gave me a lot of insights into the gospel that I had thought of and also many I had not thought of. Naming the different kinds of gospels (which in some ways isn’t the gospel at all) convicted me about how I communicate the gospel to people and inadvertently gave them the wrong gospel. Well, maybe not wrong, but incomplete.

The 5 different false gospels are: Forgiveness only; Gospel of the Left; Prosperity; Consumer; Gospel of the Right. There are more false gospels of course, but these may be the most prevalent in our society right now that get confused as the true gospel. I was convicted by the Forgiveness Only gospel because that is the one we tend to teach the children. The gospel tracts we use are based on forgiveness, which of course if a main component of Jesus’ message, but it would be incomplete if we don’t teach that salvation is about following Jesus. So based on this understanding, this past Sunday I gave a sermon to the children that we are not saved simply by being sorry for our sins. We are saved when we join God’s family and follow Jesus as his disciple. The way to join God’s family when we are far from him is to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus.

I also liked the book outlining the 7 Essential Elements of the gospel. They are: God’s Kingdom is here; Jesus is the Christ; He died for our sins; He was resurrected; repent of sin; believe the gospel; follow Jesus. The first 4 are content of the gospel, the last 3 are the call of the gospel.

The book makes it clear that these points are not the gospel, but if the gospel we teach people do not contain these elements, are we preaching the complete gospel?

The conclusion of this free ebook makes it clear that the full length book will go into more details with a link to buy it. But I don’t need that book right now. Maybe later if I want to go deeper. For now, the insights I gained was already very extremely helpful.

I like these small books, they are concise, and gives me enough that if I want to dig deeper, I can get a bigger book on the topic, and maybe even by the same author.

Found: God’s Peace by John MacArthur is a book (88 pages excluding notes) I would read again to be reminded of why I don’t need to worry when God so abundantly takes care of me. The idea of humility, to be under the submission of God’s will, is a point I need reminding. But the book also gave me the perspective of submitting myself under God’s love and care, not just his will. If I merely submit myself under his will, I may be fearful of his will. But I can know that he loves and cares for me, then there’s no need for fear.

The end of the book contains excerpts of Psalms that are really good. I will put them on index card or in my phone to review them.

 

 

 

25
Apr

I don’t eat spicy, but decided to make some hot wings for a potluck.

This sauce turned out well. Spicyness can be adjusted according to your taste. You can use this for anything. I think I’ll use it on ribs next time.

I don’t measure, all according to taste, so these are approximate measures for a reference point. You can figure out how much or little of it you would like. For example, I like cumin, but if you don’t, then don’t add it. I add less of the spicy ingredients!

5 T butter, melted

Add 1 T of flour

Add:

2 T soy sauce

1 T cumin

1 T paprika

1 T oregano

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp crushed pepper flakes

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 T chili garlic sauce (if you have it)

Siracha to taste approx 2 T

Honey to taste approx 1/3 cup

Juice of lime or lemon approx 2 T

 

 

 

 

I downloaded a free ebook titled “Pipeline-Creating and Curating a Recruiting Culture” by Todd Adkins (Lifeway).

The title of the book drew me in because it’s exactly what our church needs. As with all books I read, I always hope for an easy answer to a complex problem, same as when I google for a health remedy (omega 3 antioxidants will cure all my problems!) It’s no surprise when the book doesn’t give an easy solution. But I was not disappointed with this book because it does give good insights of what I would run up against when trying to curate a culture different than the current culture. There are some ideas I haven’t thought of or needed to be reminded of.

My takeaways:

  • leadership pipeline is a long-term investment in people, not delegate a task
  • people must multiply themselves at their current leadership level
  • there has to be core competencies and responsibilities for each level of the leadership pipeline ie all must be learners, be able to handle conflict, etc. in addition to role-based skills
  • there must be a training pathway for the person to develop
  • create an environment that builds biblical community during training

The book is a simple introduction with the intent of upselling you to a conference. I don’t mind that, that’s usually what free ebooks do. But it still gave helpful information.

In keeping with reading a book a month (small or big books count), I read A Practical Guide to Culture – Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World, by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle.

The book breaks down the various issues of the day such as gender identity, addiction, racial tension. Then it explains the cultural lies, and why we should not buy into those lies.  It ends each chapter with ideas for parents to engage their children on this issue, additional resources, the hope of change, and discussion questions. I find many of the ideas for parents are very idealistic, such as “have a conversation with your child” – unfortunately many parents do not know how to engage their teens in conversation – when their teens don’t want to talk to them.

Part 4, the last part of the book on Christian worldview essentials was most helpful. The chapter titles are how to read the Bible, why to trust the Bible, the right kind of pluralism, taking the Gospel to the culture.

I recommend this book to parents and those who work with teens, as an overview.

I have a hard time finishing this book. It started well, but I started skimming through it. It took me a long time to get through.

It’s not theologically accurate to the interpretation of the parable Jesus told, but that doesn’t bother me. I didn’t read it for it’s theological content. The book is more about Nouwen’s interpretation of the painting by Rembrandt.

Typical of Nouwen’s writings, reading this takes a lot of introspection. If you just read the words, it’s not very meaningful. But the introspection got too much – how he sees himself in all the characters of the story just got too long. Maybe I could not personally relate to much of what he says. But I can see how the book can hit audience who are struggling with accepting the Father’s love.

 

 

Finally decided to read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and then I find out it’s a Disney movie.

I’m trying to read a book a month; so far I’ve read short books the first 3 months of 2018. The idea is not the length, but just keep reading stuff that I want to read. (check Book Review category)

I borrowed A Wrinkle in Time from the library, and it turns out to be the Disney edition with color pictures from the movie in the middle of the book. I intentionally avoided looking at the pictures and not let Disney distort my imagination.

It’s a fun read, I have no complaints about the adventure/fantasy story. But I’m disappointed at the writing style and the ending. Even a children’s book could’ve had more style, not a plain ‘he said this, she said this’. And it sounded like the author got tired of the story and just ended it quickly.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler shows how a children’s book can be well written.

I am trying to finish a book a month, in addition to other books I’m trying to read.

Cold-Case Christianity for Kids by J. Warner Wallace is a good introduction to anyone, including adults, who is interested in knowing a little about how you can know if Christianity is true. The methods are similar to a detective solving a mystery.

Of course this is a simple book for kids, so the subject is presented at a low level. But the basic principles are the same. And it’s nice that it’s easy to read.

I wish I could read faster, but being a slow reader doesn’t stop me from reading.

14
Feb

This is a basic “Asian” flavor marinade. Anytime you use soy sauce and garlic, it tastes Asian.

You can add variations to it to make it different every time: siracha or red pepper flakes, 5 spice, herbs, lemon zest are a few examples.

I used it for pork chops, but I think it’d be good for chicken.

Basic Asian Marinade

3 T soy sauce

1 T ketchup

1 T worchestershire

2-3 T honey

1 T chopped garlic

1 tsp apple cider vinegar (you can skip this if you don’t have it on hand)

1 tsp oil

Mix all the ingredients, reserve a tablespoon or 2 to brush on the meat before serving if all the sauce dries out during cooking.

 

I like sauces because they are usually easy to mix up, and adds extra flavor to any food.

Last night I had some leftover grilled fish. I don’t like to eat leftovers for dinner. Lunch is ok, but dinner is my biggest and most enjoyable meal, so I like to have something interesting – not leftovers.

The leftover fish was perfectly good, just needed a new sauce on it! So I made this and it was delish. Made a leftover meal into a fresh dish.

Parmesan sauce

1/3 cup grated parmesan (I use parmesan and romano interchangeably. That’s just me because I like both.)

1/2 cup softened butter and/or mayo and/or sour cream and/or cream cheese (I used a combo of mayo and cream cheese)

1-2 Tablespoons chopped green onions (the amount depends on your preference)

1-2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1 tsp dill

Mix all the ingredients together. Put it on top of cooked fish or chicken or whatever you like. Grill it just enough to brown the sauce a little bit. Don’t do it too long or it’ll all melt. That’s ok too, but it tastes better with the parmesan just a little brown.

 

 

 

 

31
Jan
stored in: Sauces

I am adding a new category – Sauces

I want to experiment with cooking but I don’t like to have to get all complicated and buy multitudes of ingredients. So I decided to experiment with sauces. If the sauce is good, it makes all the difference in the meal.

I also like sauces because they are versatile. They can be marinates or put on sandwiches. Some can be used as dressing, mix into fruit salad, add to just about anything you want to give added flavor.

And sauces are easier to make :)

When you’re out of ideas of what to have at mealtime, just cook up some chicken or fish or whatever meat, add a sauce – and instantly it’s elevated to a different level of deliciousness.

The sauces I will post are not necessarily my creations. But I will try to put my own twist to it and see if I can give it more “depth” of flavor – I like the word “depth”. I will also create some originals.

Here’s my first sauce that I liked. I put it on pork stew the first time I made it. The next day I spread it on a sandwich for my husband.

Mayo Siracha 4 ingredients: (I prefer to call it mayo siracha, not siracha mayo, just because.)

1/4 cup mayo

a squirt of Siracha to your desired spicyness. I was careful the first time because I don’t like spicy foods, but found that I needed more after mixing in the food. The flavor of whatever food you’re putting the sauce on will dilute the spicyness

1 tsp of orange zest – add more to taste

a drip of maple syrup – this is my healthier option for sweetness instead of sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. A fork is useful for this purpose.

Enjoy!

I read this small book many moons ago, I have it somewhere. I read it again this week, borrowed it from my daughter.

One insight: We already have the Holy Spirit, and that’s like having Jesus with us all the time.

If Jesus was with me, I would not be afraid of anything. I would be bold, and do whatever God asks me to do with no hesitation. My fears come because I depend on my own [lack of] strength. I want to practice Jesus’ conscious presence with me. I like to think of that as him holding my hand.

 

 

George Muller is one of my heroes. Whenever I need inspiration to pray and have faith, I read his biography.

I happen to spot this biography in the church library, and again, I am inspired by Muller’s life and faith.

While we don’t put ourselves in situations where we need to pray for daily provisions (which may or may not be a good thing), there are many areas in our lives where we should be praying desperately, as desperate as if we have no food in the pantry to feed 1000 hungry orphans.

Muller outlined 4 conditions for successful prayer.

1. Our petitions must be according to God’s will.

2. We must not ask on account of our own goodness or merit, but “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

3. We must exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to answer our prayers.

4. We have to continue patiently waiting on God till the blessing we seek is granted. “We might as well say there is no need to tell Him once, for He knows beforehand what our need is. He wants us to prove that we have confidence in Him, that we take our place as creatures towards the Creator. ”

I am also inspired how he loved his wife of 40 years. “Every year our happiness increased more and more. I never saw my beloved wife at any time, when I met her unexpectedly anywhere in Bristol, without being delighted to do so.” I believe she was 7 years his senior. After her passing, he remarried a woman about 20 years younger, and traveled with her preaching around the world. He outlived her by a few years. He never retired but served the Lord until the day he died at 93.

I often say I don’t want to live that long, and I don’t want to remarry if my husband dies, but if the Lord wills that He provides another husband and if I can serve him until the day I die, then I’ll be ok with following the example of George Muller.

16
Oct

Trickle-down Evangelism

“Here’s the version you’re most likely to hear: “We have to focus on our people. So many of them are immature and in desperate need of spiritual instruction. If we prioritize the growth and maturity of our people then that will have a trickle-down impact on their passion and ability to live on mission and share the gospel.” And so we design our churches for growth, consciously or unconsciously, through this filter.

This rationale at first-blush seems prudent, but far too often the stated goal never comes to fruition. Rather than passionate, mobilized, mature believers, the church’s efforts end up fostering an inwardly-focused people who are increasingly isolated from the world they are commissioned to reach. Instead of a kingdom warrior, our trickle-down efforts seem only to muster an isolated, insulated, and evangelistically impotent churchman.”

The Courage to be Ordinary 

“And finally, as you embrace your limitations, you will cry out to God in “Jesus only” prayers. My pastor, Geoff Bradford, introduced me to the idea of “Jesus only” prayers. A couple of years ago, he started making a list of things he longed to happen that only Jesus could make happen. And he started to pray for those things every day. I hear the massive problems and start looking for quick fixes. He keeps praying Jesus only prayers, and therefore often getting Jesus only answers.”