Meals for June

DSCN1298Listening to the rain outside and feeling the chill in the air meant that I needed to still include a big pot of chilli con carne in this set of meals.

And at some point this coming month I must find time for this new recipe

June 2014




Right fear, true delight

Recently I was stewarding at a wedding where the final hymn was this one:

Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.

Of his deliv’rance I will boast,
Till all that are distressed
From my example comfort take,
And charm their griefs to rest.

O magnify the Lord with me,
With me exalt his Name;
When in distress to him I called,
He to my rescue came.

The hosts of God encamp around
The dwellings of the just;
Deliv’rance he affords to all
Who on his succor trust.

O make but trial of his love;
Experience will decide
How blest they are, and only they,
Who in his truth confide.

Fear him, ye saints; and you will then
Have nothing else to fear:
Make you his service your delight,
He’ll make your wants his care.

The hymn is actually a paraphrase of Psalm 34 which is worth a read through too.  I was really struck by the last verse.  It seemed to cut right through the complexity of life in someway, and get right to the heart of the matter.

Fear him.  Fear God.  We don’t talk much about fearing God, but it is a theme that runs right through the bible.  It’s not about a cringing fear that we have to tiptoe around God in case he suddenly explodes like an irascible old man.  But it is a right fear of the One who holds our lives in his hands and who will bring  down the final verdict on our lives.   It is a fear that causes us to run to him, for the only place of safety from our God, who is a consuming fire, is his embrace.

If we really fear God, then all other fears fall into perspective.  The fear of what others will think.  The fear of failure.  The fear of not measuring up. The fear of mistakes.  The fear of loss.  Because if we really fear God we will make his service our delight.  And then our wants (i.e. the things we lack to serve him – our real needs) – he will make his care.  His care.  There is a childrens CD playing in our sons’ room right now with a song on it that has this line “remember, God knows what you need, remember to follow him first, and he’ll provide the rest…”)

Remembering that  is hard right now in the fog of no sleep.  In the fog of a baby waking twice each night to feed, and a 2 year old who wants the comfort of our big bed half way through the night.  In the fog which results from broken night after broken night, and consequent exahustion.  In the fog of figuring out how to get work done, and of how to go about looking for the next steps.  In the fog of not getting done what should be done.   So I put up this hymn as a great reminder of what it means to trust in God, and pray that I might do what it says.

The humble King

Today I read these verse in Matthew:DSCN0551

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””
(Matthew 11:27–30 ESV)

I think I’ve always subconciously read 11:27 on its own, and read on its own it gets caught up into all the difficult debates about God’s sovereign choice.  Today though I read straight on to the next verse, and it hit me forcibly that read together these verses explain exactly to whom Jesus chooses to reveal the Father.

Jesus chooses to reveal the Father to all who labour and are burdened.  To all who struggle under burdens they cannot bear.  Read on in Matthew and the next stories show how Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and came to restore Sabbath to its original purpose of celebrating and giving life, rather than being a burden.  Read on further and Matthew quotes Isaiah 42 to describe Jesus, the one who will not put out a smouldering wick, or crush a bruised reed.  To all who struggle under man made burdens, to all who are weary Jesus says one word:

Come. Come to me.  He will give rest.  He will give us a yoke that we can bear. It takes some learning.  But we have a gentle and humble teacher. It could actually be that these verses are the source of the much maligned description “meek and mild”.  We’ve taken those words to mean wimp.  But they don’t.  Not unless standing while you are whipped to an inch of your life before you are nailed to a cross (when you could call down a legion of angels in your protection) means you are a wimp.

And as we come, and as we take up His yoke, and as we learn from him what real gentleness and humility are we will find rest.  Not an absence of work, but a yoke that fits.  The ESV translates it as “easy”, but it could be translated “kind”, a yoke that is kind, and a burden that is light – the same word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 4 about our “light and momentary troubles” which are outweighed by the eternal glory.

Do we want to know the Father better? Then come to Jesus, and take up his yoke – be ready to learn from him and know what it is to truly have rest – a work that fits us, and that is bearable – because it is Jesus who gives it to us.  He is the God of the broken, the friend of the weak, he is the one who washes the feet of the weary and embraces those in need – he is the humble king – the God who loves so much he gives his all to draw us to him.  The God who kneels in humility and washes our feet.  The God who shows his glory by giving it away – whose glory is most clearly seen on a cross.

In all our strivings, all our works, all our efforts to serve God and do his will let us remember these things, and be those who point others back to the God of the broken.

I love this Vineyard song which sums up most of what struck me this morning:

Confessions IV

A shorter snippet – and almost every line alludes to different texts of Scripture, woven together into this end of chapter prayer (Book IV xvi 31, Chadwick translation)

O Lord our God
Under the covering of your wings
We set our hope
Protect us and bear us up
It is you who will carry us;
You who will bear us up from infancy
Until old age
When you are our firm support
Then it is firm indeed.
But when our support rests on our own strength
It is infirmity.
Our good is life with you forever
Because we turned away from that we became twisted
Let us now return to you that we may not be overturned
Our good is life with you and suffers no deficiency
For you yourself are that good

Confessions III

Following on from the previous post Augustine focuses on Jesus’ victory (IV. xii. 19 – Chadwick’s translation, occasionally abbreviated).  This is tantalisingly beautiful, and ever so slightly obscure in places, but ultimately encouraging – God is not found by climbing, but in the depths, because it is to the depths that Jesus descends.  At least that’s how I read it.  (I imagine Augustine would be fine with any misreading of his words that led us to love Jesus more – see his “On Christian teaching” Book 1)

He who for us is life itself
descended here and endured our death
and slew it by the abundance of his life.
In a thuderous voice he called us
to return to him,
at that secret place where he came forth to us.

First he came into the Virgin’s womb
where the human creation was married to him,
so that mortal flesh should not for ever be mortal.
Coming forth from thence
“as a bridegroom from his marriage bed
he bounded like a giant to run his course” (Ps 18:6)

He did not delay, but ran crying out loud
by his words, deeds, death, life, descent and ascent –
calling us to return to him.
And he has gone from our sight that we should “return to our heart” (Isa. 46:8)
and find him there.
He went away, and behold, here he is.
He did not wish to remain long with us, yet he did not abandon us.
He has gone to that place which he never left,
“for the world was made by him”;
and he was in the world, and ‘came into the world to save sinners’.

Sons of men, how long will you be heavy at heart?
Surely after the descent of life, you cannot fail to wish to ascend and live.
But where will you ascend when “you are set on high and have put your mouth in heaven”.Come down so that you can ascend and  make your ascent to God.
For it is by climbing up against God that you have fallen.
Tell souls that they should weep in the valley of tears.
So take them with you to God, for by his Spirit
you declare these things to them
if you say it burning with the fire of love.

Meals for May

Not sure where April went and so this month’s menu plan is a few days behind schedule but there are still some new meals to try out and a fantastic new muffin recipe. We have also discovered the ease and joy of making our own breadsticks which the boys love.

Image         May 2014

Confessions (II)

Today’s Augustine comes from him speaking to his soul in search of rest (as before I’ve used Chadwick’s translation – book IV.xi.-xii):

Do not be vain my soul.
Do not deafen your heart’s ear with the tumult of your vanity.
Even you have to listen.
The Word himself cries to you to return.
There is a place of undisturbed quietness
where love is not deserted
if it does not itself depart.

Fix your dwelling there.
Put in trust there whatever you have from him, my soul,
at least now that you are wearied of deceptions.
Entrust to the truth whatever has come to you from the truth.
You will lose nothing.
The decayed parts of you will receive a new flowering,
and all your sicknesses will be healed.
All that is ebbing away from you will be given fresh form
and renewed, bound tightly to you.
They will not put you down in the place to which they descend,
but still stand with you and will remain in the presence of God
who stands fast and abides

Stand with him and you will stand fast
Rest in him and you will be at rest
Where are you going to along rough paths?
What is the goal of your journey?
The good which you love is from him.
But it is only as it is related to him that it is good and sweet.