How do you cook for ten? 8 Food Rules

How do you feed ten hungry mouths…every day? I enjoyed reading this homeschooling Mom’s answer.

I never realised that we even had food rules until I started to write this post… but horrors we do and lots of them!!! So I thought I would begin the series with se7en + 1 unspoken food rules in our home. A lot of our rules have evolved as the kids grow older and become more capable so the rules do change, they are a framework freeing us up from making major food decisions every single day. The rules are there to rely on but they are also their to be broken from time to time and I would never pin them up on the fridge and say… this is how it is done. Because families change and times change and needs change…

  1. We Cook And Eat and Clean-Up Together
  2. We Eat in One Place
  3. We Eat Three Meals a Day
  4. We Cook From Scratch, Mostly
  5. We Eat Out, But Not Take-Outs
  6. We Don’t Eat or Drink in Transit
  7. I Don’t Buy “Treats” Very Often
  8. Keep it Fun

Read the full post here. You’ll find lots of good ideas.

Check out

Obscure writing is not evidence of profound thinking
And neither is obscure preaching.

When Christ orchestrates a prison break
Wonderful testimony of how God used R.C. Sproul’s radio ministry to set a prisoner free.

Joel Beeke on “Precious Puritans”
A response to Propaganda’s rap against the Puritans.

Preaching Christ from Deuteronomy
Excellent resources from The Gospel Coalition.

10 Questions a pro-choice candidate is never asked by the media
This might help you in the office or factory today.

How Creativity is affected by time

What if Jesus is still dead?

If Christ is not risen…

Awful thought isn’t it. Unthinkable, actually.

Yet the Apostle Paul considers the possibility in 1 Corinthians 15, and he also thinks through five terrible consequences…if true.

Pointless preaching
First, if Christ is not risen, preaching is pointless (1 Cor. 15:14). Christ’s resurrection was the most important event in the New Testament. Christ preached about it frequently before it happened and the Apostles preached it relentlessly afterwards. Take it out of the Gospel message, and you have nothing left. It’s like trying to build a house without cement; it’s pointless and vain.

A preacher without Christ’s resurrection is a preacher without a message. He has nothing useful to say and nothing he does say will result in anything good. He’s just wasting his time preparing sermons and preaching them. And we’re wasting our time hearing them.

In fact, such a preacher is a liar, a false witness (v. 15), because he is misrepresenting God by saying He did something He didn’t do – that is, saying that God raised Christ from the dead.

Futile faith
Second, our faith is futile (v. 17). If our faith is in Christ, and Christ lies dead and still under a Middle Eastern sky, then our faith is in a pile of human dust. The thief was right, if He could not save Himself, He can’t save us.

Christ rested the validity of all His teaching and claims upon his resurrection. Without it, the foundation cracks, crumbles, and turns to dust – as does our faith.

Christ’s death was a remarkable proof of His love and willingness to save, but without His resurrection, there’s no proof of his power and ability to save. All hope of salvation lie dead with Him. Our faith clings to a decaying skeleton. Such faith is futile.

Sinking in sin
Third, we are still in our sins (v. 17). Our sins have not been removed from our account. They still exist, charging and condemning us before God.

Moreover, if sin has not been removed from our account, it cannot be removed from our nature. If Christ remained under sin’s power, how can He deliver us from it? We are just like any other pagan, trying to be good in our own strength. We remain unfit for heaven and unprepared to meet God.

Dead and damned
Fourth, the dead are damned (v. 18). Paul beautifully describes a believer’s death as simply and quietly falling asleep in Jesus’ arms. Their souls are immediately perfected in heaven, and “their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves until the resurrection” (Shorter Catechism 37). It’s magnificent, isn’t it!

But then Paul introduces an ugly note that mars the chords of hope. If Christ is not risen, those who have fallen asleep in Christ “have perished.” It’s so violent, so hideous. Their souls are perishing in hell and their bodies are perishing in the grave.

They turned up at heaven’s gates, but when they looked for their advocate, they were told, “Oh, he died long ago.” All hope dies. Death can separate us from the love of Christ. The dead are damned. Therefore, let us mourn as those who have no hope.

Miserable men
Fifth, we are the most pitiable of men (v. 19). Think of all the spiritual stress, strains, and sufferings that Paul went through to testify to the risen Christ. What self-denial, what self-sacrifice! And what kept him going as he faced beasts and beastly men? The hope of the resurrection (vv. 30-32).

But if Christ didn’t rise, then neither would Paul. He has no life here, and he has no life hereafter. “Pity me!” says Paul, “more than anyone else in the world.” Anybody is better off than the Christian. Better to be a Muslim, a Buddhist, or even a devil worshipper. Better to be anything than a Christian without resurrection hope.

From black hole to beautiful sunrise
Imagine the Corinthian believers as this letter was read to them. How the darkness must have settled on the congregation as Paul explored the black-hole consequences of a still-dead Christ.

But then, just as despair was about to overwhelm them, the sun breaks through the storm: “But now is Christ risen from the dead” (v. 20), Paul emphatically asserts. He’s brought us to the abyss of hell, to endear the risen Christ to us all the more.

Don’t despair, He is risen – He is risen indeed!

Therefore preaching is the most momentous activity in the world. Our faith is well-grounded in a living Savior. Our sins have been wiped off our records and are being worked out of our hearts. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, and we believers are of all men to be envied.

O, unbeliever, don’t pity us; pity yourself! And look to Christ for enviable hope.

An edited version of this article was first published in Tabletalk.

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Atheism behind the black church veil
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More on can your body make you sin
So, so helpful. And here are 3 self-study projects for the depressed. Be sure to read parts 1 and 2 first.

The ultimate sermon for preachers
I agree with Gary Millar: “Deuteronomy is the key to understanding how Old Testament theology unfolds.”

In praise of clerks
Those who know me will be amazed that I’ve just written that headline. But this article is worth a read. Secretaries of the world, watch out! Rebecca is after you!

Homeschooling on a Scottish island
Shona compares home-schooling in  a small and remote scottish island with her experience of it in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

My church is too small
Does the phrase “Saturday morning” excite you and “Sunday morning” leave you cold? You probably need to read this.

Connected Kingdom: Interview with Tullian Tchividjian

Download here.

As I wrote in today’s blog post, while I appreciate much of what Tullian Tchividjian has written in his most recent book, Glorious Ruin, I do have some concerns.

Tullian was gracious enough to allow me to put some of these points to him in this interview and to clarify some of what he wrote. He also speaks about his own experiences of suffering, why he chose to write about it at this time, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.

Glorious Ruin: Appreciation and Concerns

Later today, I’ll be posting a Connected Kingdom podcast in which Tim and I interview Tullian Tchividjian about his new book Glorious Ruin. I have some worries about this book that I put to Tullian in the interview, and which he graciously answered, but in the meantime here’s a fuller explanation of these concerns. 

If you’re looking for a book on suffering that offers simplistic answers, easy solutions, five-step formulas, and “pull up your bootstraps” triumphalism, don’t buy Glorious Ruin.

This is a brutally honest book about suffering: its universal reality and agonizing mystery. It calls us to embrace suffering and sufferers, to walk with them in it, and to encounter and enjoy Christ and His Gospel in the crucible. As such it restores a much-needed emphasis in our theology of suffering.

Tullian is right, too often our focus while suffering is on “Why did this happen to me?” and/or “How can I get good out of this?” Instead, Tullian argues that our question should be “Who is God in this?” turning the focus away from ourselves and towards our Savior.

While definitely agreeing with the need to add that third question, I don’t agree with Tullian’s rather dismissive attitude to the first two questions. He does briefly admit that there is a place for them, but the rest of the book mainly critiques them, resulting in imbalance and even confusion.

I’ll come back to this, but first of all let me agree with Tullian as to his diagnosis. He puts his finger on two sinful and damaging responses to suffering: moralizing and minimizing.

Minimizing and Moralizing
Moralizing is our tendency to say that there must be a moral reason for our suffering. Like Job’s friends we think, or even say, “You’re suffering because you sinned.” Who can deny that this is often our default response to others’ pain? We hear of something bad in someone’s life and we think, “They deserved it!” Especially if we don’t like them.

Minimizing can take the form of blowing off the pain with comments like, “Oh, well, it could be worse.” Or, more common in the church, the agony of the suffering is ignored and the focus is on what good results the suffering will bring about.

Two Theologies
Tullian argues that both moralizing and minimizing flow from a mistaken “theology of glory,” the idea that God is only present in victory, and that suffering must be viewed as a means to the victorious end of personal growth and progress. Instead, he calls us to a “theology of the cross,” which accepts the suffering, and does not try to trace it to a moral cause, change it, or use it.

Tullian is right to emphasize this. In suffering we are all tempted to moralize or minimize, all with the aim of getting out of this pain as soon as possible. Rarely do we seek God and enjoy Him in the midst of our agony. No, as He must only be on the other side of our ache, we’ve got to escape from the trouble as quickly as possible. As Tullian puts it, by asking only “Why?” and “How?” we forget to ask “Who?” and thereby miss God.

However, while he’s right to include and emphasize the “Who?” question, by virtually ignoring and mainly critiquing the “Why?” and “How?” enquiries, he runs the risk of confusing people, or even limiting the benefit that they can get from suffering.

Although “Why?” and “How?” are sometimes overemphasized to the exclusion of “Who?” the solution is not to overemphasize “Who?” while shrinking “Why?” and “How?” virtually out of sight. Let’s ask all three together. We might get answers to all three. Or God may choose just to answer one, or even none.

Tullian beautifully explains the necessity of asking the “Who?” question and has some wonderful insights into the way we should do this – worth the price of the book in my opinion. Let me, therefore, conclude this review by explaining the necessity of retaining an equal emphasis on the “Why?” and the “How?” questions.

The “Why?” question
Tullian seems anxious to sever any moral link between sin and suffering. While it is definitely wrong to make infallible links between them, God does link them at times and calls us to search for those links as well. That’s the purpose of his Fatherly chastisement – a word and concept that is surprisingly absent from the book.

Tullian does allow for painful consequences to follow from sin (e.g. a drunk gets cirrhosis of the liver), but that mechanistic cause-and-effect analysis is very different to God actively, lovingly, and painfully intervening in our lives to call us away from our sin and to Himself, a practice I’m sure that Tullian himself practices as a loving Father.

The “How?” question”
Again, Tullian is right in saying that an over-hasty run to “How can I get good from this pain?” minimizes the suffering and the potential of learning about God in the suffering.

The Bible, though, does allow and even encourage us to pray, seek, and even work for fruit from our suffering (Heb. 12:10-13, 2 Cor. 3:2-7).

At times Tullian admits that good can come from suffering, but he seems to allow it only if it is not sought for, if it is incidental and almost unconscious; and he seems to limit the fruit to theological knowledge rather than also ethical and moral change in the sufferer.

However, Job used the hope of “coming out of the furnace as gold” to strengthen him and motivate him in his agony (Job 23:10), and Paul expects moral and ethical change to result from our sufferings (Rom. 5:3-5).

Pastoral heart
I know where Tullian is coming from in his desire to get people away from an exclusive focus on “Why?” and “How?” and to put the “Who?” question center stage. It is well-motivated and pastorally helpful in many situations, especially where there is no answer to “Why?” and “How?”

I also understand that in such a short book, no one could do justice to every aspect of the great mystery of suffering. Tullian admits that his book is limited. However, I think he could have accomplished his goal of getting people more focused on the God who answers the “Who?” question without diminishing and in some ways denouncing the “Why?” and the “How” questions. Can we not add without taking away?

Holding all three together is much more likely to set us free from our sin and liberate us to worship and serve God.