Monday, February 18, 2013

The Pig

Down here in the land of all things Southern, there is a chain of grocery stores bearing the name “Piggly Wiggly”.
Now, I’m not sure who came up with this rather unique name.  While it might not be the sort of name I’d give a grocery store, I can say naught against it, especially when I review the incredibly boring names I tend to choose.  However, I do wish to complain about the fact that almost no one actually calls the store, Piggly Wiggly.
No, they’ve shortened the name down to The Pig.
And then without thinking, they say things which… frankly, are slightly disturbing.   (That’s an understatement.)
“I’m fixin’ ta git some milk from The Pig.”
“Let’s go git some beef.  From The Pig.”
“I’ll just run an’ pick up some eggs from The Pig.”
Seriously, people?  Don’t you realize how that sounds?  Don’t you realize how disturbing this is to those who don’t automatically know that “The Pig” refers to a grocery store?
Please, stop.  Unless you’re going to buy bacon there, please don’t refer to it as “The Pig”.  Just… don’t.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Followers of... Christ or Culture?

I’m tired of watching the mainstream church in America become less and less Biblical.
Rather than having the church* influencing and shaping the culture, we have the culture shaping the church.   Entertainment churches abound, and rather than looking to Scripture for direction, we look to society and seek that which is trendy and popular, trying to draw in new members.  Free doughnuts, free coffee!  Rock music!  Helicopter-Easter-egg-drops!  Halloween celebrations!
Hymns and Psalms are deemed to be too archaic, and we dumb down our songs to ridiculous extents.  I was once in a church where they sang a modernized version of  the song, “Joy to the World”.  The lyrics had all been removed, except for “Joy to the world, let heaven and nature sing.” (Which was then sung over… and over… and over…)  What is that even supposed to mean?  Without the rest of the words, that song doesn’t even make any sense!
We rely upon cute, goofy movies such as VeggieTales to teach our children Biblical truths.  Slushies rained down upon the heads of the Israelites while they circled Jericho, and bad guys were sent to the horrible Island of Perpetual Tickling!  Noah’s ark motifs upon the nursery wall depict giraffes and elephants stuffed into a wee yacht, and Jesus was apparently blue-eyed with blond hair and a white robe.  Why are we surprised when kids have trouble telling the difference between fairy tales and the Bible?!  
For adults, we have The Message  “Bible”, with ducks in Romans and John 3:16 promising “whole and lasting life” to those who believe in Jesus, rather than “everlasting life”.  Scripture is apparently too difficult for us to understand, so we resort to paraphrases and platitudes.  I’ve actually been to church services where the Bible isn’t once opened or even quoted from.
Kids are put into “children’s church” until high school (or sometimes even college!) ages.  Instead of arming their young people with the Word of God and training them for the battles life will inevitably send, churches are coddling them and presuming that they are incapable of listening to a regular sermon, that they cannot handle the hymns which have been sung for hundreds of years.  We deem these things to be “stuffy” or “archaic”, and then we’re surprised when these same kids leave the church upon graduating from youth group.
Armed with a handful of skewed Bible stories and vague Biblical truths, kids are supposedly sufficiently equipped to evaluate their choices in light of Scripture.  And we’re surprised when they leave the churches in droves?
Instead of evaluating decisions in light of God’s word, all too often our choices are governed by choosing the route that is the least offensive or most popular.  We’re following the culture and doing our utmost to reflect the world, rather than showing the world a reflection of Jesus.
We strive to reach the world by becoming like them rather than striving to become like Christ. This is exactly the opposite of what we ought to be doing:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.   -Romans 12:2
We don’t follow the teachings of Titus 2.  We don’t honor the wisdom of our elders (Lev. 19:32).  We constantly feed people spiritual milk (and maybe a few marshmallows) rather than meat, and even our milk is watered down.  We seek to entertain people every Sunday.  We ignore and undermine the structure of the family.  We don’t have a vision for the future.  We’ve thrown out creeds and catechisms, deciding that we don’t need such things anymore.
We focus completely on the love of God, and forget that we also need to fear Him.  We are saved, but we don’t seem to know what we have been saved from.  If we have been saved from the world, then why are we seeking so desperately to be like them?
Matthew 5:13-16 states:
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Now, I know that what I’ve written here doesn’t necessarily apply to every church.  I’m aware of the fact that there are well-meaning people in the mainstream churches who sincerely love Christ, who wish to promote His kingdom, and who are honestly seeking to serve Him by their deeds.  Just because I strongly disagree with their methods and believe that their tactics are incorrect does not mean that I don’t appreciate their efforts.  However, I do wish for them to open their Bibles, study Scripture, and truly evaluate their ideas in light of Scripture.
We must realize that Scripture cannot be made better.  It is perfect, and we are not.  For us to try to improve upon perfection is laughably ridiculous.  The Bible isn’t outdated, and we must not view ourselves as its judge – rather, we must do as the Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  
The Bible must be our ultimate authority.  Not our own understanding, not the culture, and not anything else.  God’s infallible Word should govern our actions and principles, and we should not seek to improve it in any way.  Ever.

*Please note that when I refer to “the church” in this blog post I’m generally referring to the average mainstream churches in America.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Black and White... *Things*

I’ve been debating for some time now what to call these.  Muffins? That’s what original recipe called them, but these seem to be far too sweet and chocolate-y.  Cupcakes?  Maybe, but aren’t cupcakes supposed to be frosted?
A Google search didn’t help.  It seems that everyone has their own opinion on how muffins and cupcakes are different.
They’re chocolate, and have a cream cheese filling studded with chocolate chips; therefore, they are too sweet to be muffins and must be cupcakes.
They aren’t frosted, which obviously means they must be muffins.
They have a fairly fine crumb, and the only reason they aren’t frosted is because that would make them far too sweet.  Cupcakes.
They’ve been made with oil, not butter.  Muffins.
They wouldn’t make a very good quick bread, which means they’re cupcakes.  Except for the fact that they also wouldn’t make a very good cake, which supposedly means that they’re muffins.
Perhaps I’ll just alternate between the two terms.  If we’re serving it for breakfast, they’ll obviously be muffins.  We wouldn’t want to serve something as unhealthy as cupcakes for breakfast, would we?   And when we offer it for dessert, they’ll be cupcakes.  Because after all, cupcakes make much better desserts than muffins do.  Right?
Black and White Cupcakes (or Muffins)
Sift together, in a large bowl:
1 1/2 c. Flour
3/4 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and then add:
1 c. Water
1/3 c. Oil
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
Mix together until just blended.
In a separate bowl, cream together until fluffy:
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 Egg
3 Tbsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
Stir in:
1 c. Chocolate Chips
Prepare muffin tins. Fill 1/3 full with batter and top each with a dollop of cream cheese mixture. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes for 350°.