Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Everyone struggles. But what am I struggling toward? Throughout different seasons of my life, I’ve been reminded that “this too shall pass.” But when the depth of my anguish overwhelms my struggle, there is no ability to grasp such a thought. It doesn’t seem like my struggle will end. What then? “Where does my help come from?” And I wait.

“Then only do we rightly advance the discipline of the cross, when we learn that this life, judged in itself, is troubled, turbulent, unhappy in countless ways, and in no respect clearly happy; that all those things which are judged to be its goods are uncertain, fleeting, vain, and vitiated by many intermingled evils. We conclude that in this life we are to seek and hope for nothing but struggle; when we think of our crown, we are to raise our eyes to heaven. For this we must believe: that the mind is never seriously aroused to desire and ponder the life to come unless it be previously imbued with contempt or the present life.” John Calvin Institutes Book 3.9.1
Everyday that passes drives me to pray for a peace that passes understanding, a peace that calms in the midst of tragedy. It's easy for me to allow my circumstances and feelings to dictate my reality. But there's something more satisfying. God promises that He is greater than my limited mind and turbulent emotions. So I wait; I rest; I say to myself, my help comes from the Lord, hope in Him, my salvation and my God. (Ps. 42.5 & 121.2)

Come Then, Lord Jesus
1. The Church has waited long Her absent Lord to see
And still in loneliness she waits A friendless stranger she
Age after age has gone, Sun after sun has set
And still, in weeds of widowhood, She weeps a mourner yet

Come then, Lord Jesus, come
Come then, Lord Jesus
Come then, Lord Jesus, come, come, come.

3. The serpent's brood increase, The powers of hell grow bold
The conflicts thickens, faith is low, And love is waxing cold
How long, O Lord our God, Holy and true and good
Wilt thou not judge Thy suffering Church, Her sighs and tears and blood?

4. We long to hear thy voice, To see Thee face to face
To share Thy crown and glory then, As now we share thy grace
Should not the loving bride, The absent Bridegroom mourn?
Should she not wear the weeds of grief, Until her Lord return?

5. The whole creation groans, And wait to hear that voice
That shall restore her comeliness, And make her wastes rejoice
Come, Lord, and wipe away, The curse, the sin, the stain
And make this blighted world of ours, Thine own fair world again

Come then, Lord Jesus, come
Come then, Lord Jesus
Come then, Lord Jesus, come, come, come.

Monday, May 12, 2014

It's Definite

In class I read the following quote by J. I. Packer in the forward of, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonemtne in Historical, Biblical, Theological and Pastoral Perspecive:

In this understanding of Christianity, Christ's achievement by his cross of the corporate redemption of the whole church - past, present, and future as the Holy Three know and love it, and thereby the individual redemption of everyone whom the Father has given to the Son to save, is both the mountaintop of glory, in the primary sense of God putting himself fully on display, and the wellspring of glory, in both the secondary sense of the spur to endless doxology and the tertiary sense of divine action to glorify the redeemed in, with, and through Christ, so that they bear his image and likeness in a full sense. (p. 14)
Why would I read such a heavily packed sentence to seventh and eighth graders? For one, the students are intelligent enough to wade through the syntax. Secondly, it's important to share the weight and awesomeness of God's love, which leads me to my main motive. It's easy to get caught up in arguments on such a topic or reading doctrine simply to amass intellectual knowledge, but the real meaning not to be missed in this sentence (and the overall book) is life changing - God loves you. Those words put life into perspective - God loves you. Don't miss the delight of those words - God loves you.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Rebels rebel; Haters hate

April 1865
Even as the guns of war grew still, emotions seethed. The hate, of course, was the most perilous. One Southern innkeeper told a journalist that Yankees had murdered his soldier sons, torched his house, and taken his slaves. "They left me one inestimable privilege - to hate 'em. I git up at half past four in the morning, and sit up til twelve at night, to hate 'em. . . . A planter said "I have vowed that if I should have children - the first ingredient of the first principle of their education shall be uncompromising hatred and contempt of the Yankee. Day by day and hour by hour does the deep seated enmity I have always had . . . for the accursed Yankee nation increase and burn higher." Jay Winik, April 1865: The Month That Saved America (p. 351-352)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore,we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5.6-10

It's true that before God saved me I was His enemy. I was a sinner at enmity with God. If that is biblically true, then how did one who was opposed to God willingly become reconciled to God? Did the Southerners who hated the North really want to be a part of the Union they hated? The Southerners quoted above may have become a citizen of the United States, but it was not their choice

Reading the New Testament leads a Christian to worship. Reading and understanding your position before God as a sinner leads you to bow in reverence, worship, and be in awe at the God who is mighty to save. God's mercy and justice are more amazing than my free will. I don't have a problem recognizing my inability to save myself. The problem develops when believers make this issue divisive. Even when I struggle through difficulties in God's Word, I trust His plan over my ability to work out that which I don't understand. More specifically, God does not need me to make up an excuse for why all people aren't saved. My free will does not solve all the problems associated with people who do not respond to the Gospel. Free will diminishes God. It minimizes God's omnipotence, and depicts Him as following the choices of man. This is not a biblical view of God. God works all things according to His will, not mine. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

That's Crazy!

Each night before bed, Karen or myself are in a habit of reading with Isaac. The books change slightly as Isaac comes to prefer one book over the other. We were in a smooth rhythm of Thomas the Train - Troublesome Trucks, Jonah, and the finale with David & Goliath. I enjoy listening to Isaac quote the various stories and ask questions along the way. David & Goliath seems to be a staple in our nightly repertoire. When we get to David & Goliath the conversation goes,
"Is David listening?"
"Yes, David is listening."
"Is Goliath listening?
"No, Goliath is a pagan. Pagans don't listen."
It's great to hear him now say "Goliath isn't listening; Goliath is a pagan."

For a three year old, the story of Jonah isn't outlandish. Isaac asks the same sort of listening questions for Jonah, the sailors Jonah attempted to join, and the Ninevites. When Jonah is in the fish, Isaac wonders if it's dark in there. I assure him it is dark in the belly of a fish and a bit stinky too. For many of us, though, the reality of a man being swallowed by a large fish, whale perhaps, is crazy. There's no way a story like that could be literally true. Stories like that must have only been written to convey . . . uh, faith or . . .  the reality of a Sovereign God whom people should turn to or He'll wipe out?

It is crazy to think of a man being swallowed by a fish. When that's observed in nature, game over. No more observation. But in a world that supernatural intervention takes place, miracles happen. A man is swallowed by a fish, prays for God's mercy, and holds onto his hope in God.

Even if this story is discounted, it's interesting to hear Jesus' thoughts on Jonah. When people demanded Jesus to perform a sign so they would know He was the Messiah, he turned their attention to Jonah. Just like Jonah was really in the belly of a fish for three days, so will I be dead for three days (my paraphrase Matt. 12:38-40).

That's crazy to think of a man being in a fish for three days and living. Yes, it is. It's even crazier to think a man can be brutally killed and after three days rise from the dead.

Jesus says all of this is true. Are we listening to His words?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Taking God Seriously

When a man of wisdom and reputation stands up with an indictment against those who make up the church, self labeled Christians, I think we would be wise to listen.

J. I. Packer's new book, Taking God Seriously

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Your New Favorite Burger

Here is a Hutcheson family favorite. You may get as far as the title or the recipe source and automatically put it in the "no way" category. I would say that's just like Isaac saying no to cookies. No matter how much I tell him that he'll like the treat, he's missing a great treat. Although, now that we've started potty training, the word treat has a marvelous ring to him. He'll eat mostly anything with this sweet bell of a word.
(On a budget note, this recipe is the priciest of the ones I've listed.)
Nutty Veggie Burgers from Dreena Burton Let Them Eat Vegan
Makes 5 to 6 Patties
1 ½ cups raw almonds ½ cup raw walnuts ½ cup raw pecans (or more walnuts) 1 small clove garlic, cut into quarters ½ teaspoon sea salt 1 tablespoon ketchup 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 1 tablespoon tamari ¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning, or ⅛ teaspoon each of dried thyme and dried sage ½ cup (packed) finely grated carrot ½ cup (packed) finely grated zucchini ½ to 1 cup rolled oats A smidgen of oil, for panfrying
In a food processor, combine the almonds, walnuts, pecans, garlic, and salt. Puree until the nuts are finely ground. Then add the ketchup, nutritional yeast, tamari, poultry seasoning, carrot, and zucchini, and pulse until the mixture becomes dense and is starting to hold together. Pulse in the oats. Remove the blade and shape the mixture into patties.
To cook, lightly oil a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties for 5 to 7 minutes on the first side, and then another 3 to 5 minutes on second side until golden brown, working in batches, if necessary.

John Mark simple recipe  There's no simplifying this recipe. It's all good and worthwhile as it is. I'm sure there's some substitutions or variations that you could experiment with for your tastes. I hope you've enjoyed some delicious new and healthy meals in your home, or plan on enjoying once the next grocery trip rolls around. Eat together and enjoy!
(For the record, I'm not anti-McDonalds. The recipe above is my preference over Micky-Dees fine double cheeseburgers.)

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Coconut anyone?

After yesterday's post for a phenomenal kale salad, here's another recipe - Karen's coconut lentils. Here's the good news about lentils, you can do whatever you want with them. Feel free to throw an onion and a couple of carrots in a food processor for this recipe. Typically that's the base for our lentils regardless of the additional spices. You can use garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, berbere, sriracha, thai red curry paste; I think you get the point that in whatever you cook lentils they absorb. On a side note, red lentils cook a little faster than green or brown lentils, but the latter are slightly cheaper. 

  • 1 lb. (2 cups) red lentils 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric 
  • 1 (15 oz.) can light coconut milk 
  • 1½ cups water 

  1. Place the lentils in a medium pot and gently rinse 2-3 times or until the water runs clear. Drain as much water out after the last rinse as possible.
  2. Mince the garlic and add it to the pot along with the salt, turmeric, coconut milk, and 1.5 cups of water. Give it a gentle stir to make sure everything is mixed.
  3. Bring the pot up to a boil over medium-high heat (use a lid to make this faster). Once it is boiling, remove the lid and let it boil gently for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. When most of the liquid is absorbed, turn off the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes to continue to absorb. Taste and season with more salt if desired.
John Mark's simple recipe
It's really the same just not measured exactly. True cooks, my wife included, don't measure teaspoons, tablespoons, etc. They know it when they see it. If you want to expand your cooking knowledge, measure out a teaspoon or tablespoon then pour it in your hand. Get to know the feel of it and what the approximate size is in your hand. 

As for this recipe, I do like to add thai red curry paste. Depending on your taste, one jar might last two or three various recipes. It's an additional cost for this recipe, but turmeric might be an additional cost for your spice draw as well, if you don't use it in any other recipes. Turmeric is a great spice that adds flare to many recipes and is a great antioxidant. The bottom line is that lentils provide excellent nutrition. Plus, you can tailor them according to you tastes AND satisfy your palate. Enjoy!