This is an absolutely wonderful message…
From Max Lucado –
At Advent, we are invited to immerse ourselves in hope. Biblical hope is not wishful thinking. It is the unshakable confidence that God can be trusted. It is the belief that God is always at work for our good (Rom. 8:24-25, 28). It is the assurance that God’s promises are true even while we wait for their fulfillment.
Stuffed jalapenos are one of those things that everyone has a different way of doing. My brother and cousins all do them somewhat differently.
There are just a few ingredients in my stuffed jalapenos: jalapenos, bacon, cream cheese and raw shrimp. Toothpicks are useful in holding everything together, but my wife doesn’t really like me using them so I try to avoid it.
At the store:
I tend to look for the cheap bacon, about 1 oz. per slice. So a 1 lb. of bacon will make 15-16 jalapenos. I don’t like to have extra bacon leftover, so the number of slices determines the number of jalapenos to get. You don’t want the bacon paper thin or too thick.
When looking at the jalapenos, I look for good sized and nicely shaped ones. Wrinkly skin indicates they are somewhat old. If it’s not too bad, I’ll still use them. Not too large and not too small. I always get a few extra just in case I counted the slices of bacon wrong or just to have a few extra jalapenos to grill or to slice up.
I get the medium or large, uncooked shrimp. Sometimes I get the peeled and de-veined shrimp if I’m short of time. Which ever way you decide, make sure it’s the raw shrimp.
It doesn’t matter what cream cheese you get. Store brand, lite or full calorie; it really doesn’t matter.
Putting them together:
One caution before we start, jalapeno oil will burn. You may want to use food safe gloves. Regardless of using gloves or not, avoid touching your eyes after touching the jalapenos. Wash your hands with soap periodically.
First wash the jalapenos.
Then slice the tops off of the jalapenos. Try to keep the tops with the bottoms because we’ll put the tops back on later. If they get mixed up, it’s not a big deal.
Next, remove the veins and seeds from the jalapenos. I’ve used slim knives, but I prefer the handy gadget in the picture. I find that it’s faster to use and I’m less likely to slice out the side of the jalapenos. The better you are at removing the veins and seeds, the less heat there will be in your stuffed jalapenos. The other thing that controls the amount of heat is the length of time you grill them. The longer they go, the milder they will be.
I put some cream cheese in first, stuff a shrimp in and top it with more cream cheese. If the shrimp doesn’t fit, then I’ll cut it to make it smaller and put it in. It’s important to have some cream cheese on the top to stick the top of the jalapenos on temporarily. If you find there is room for more shrimp, add another one or a partial one. Thinking about the shape of the shrimp and the jalapenos, I tend to put the shrimp in “tail first”.
If the top has seeds, you may want to remove them. The tops hold the cheese and shrimp in the jalapenos.
Stick the top onto the cream cheese, it will stay there while you wrap it with bacon. To start the bacon, I usually find a split in the bacon near one end and poke the stem of the top through the split. Then I wrap it around the jalapeno. By putting the stem through the bacon and wrapping it so the tail of the bacon is under the wraps, it kind-of holds it all together. See the pictures to get a better idea.
Put a tooth pick through to hold the bacon on. If you’re careful in handling them, it’s not necessary to do this. It’s just easier to use the toothpicks, but comes with the risk of someone eating the toothpick.
I usually run the grill at about 325 degrees. It’s hot enough to cook the bacon, but low enough that it will take 30-45 minutes to cook. Adjust it based on your grill. The jalapenos are done when the bacon is done. I cook the jalapenos using indirect heat, i.e. turn on the burners on one side and put the jalapenos on the other side.
You can find jalapenos racks to use. They keep the jalapenos standing up and are a fun way to serve them. The only downside of using a rack is that the bottoms gets extra done compared to the tops. The downside of laying them on their sides is that the tops tend to fall off. In that case, I would definitely use toothpicks and be extra careful when turning them.
This is what they look like right before they are served. If you like the bacon a little more done, then cook them to your desired perfection.
In one of our meetings, Pastor Chad asked the question “what about the next day”. This question caught my imagination. It was asked in reference to the story of the healing at the pool Bethesda. You can find this story in John 5. Miracles that Jesus performed were on real people and changed lives. This question is valid for all of Jesus’ interactions with people; day to day interactions and miracles.
Take the example of Jesus healing the invalid man at the pool.
The next day I assume that this man would need to find a job, acquire a skill, and provide for himself now that he wasn’t an invalid. Did he have family and friends that helped him each day get to the pool? He didn’t need that help now. Would he return the favor to them in their areas of need? Did he praise God for the healing? How would he live his life going forward? Is he going to continue to offer excuses for his life like in verse 7? And what is being referred to in verse 14 (he needs to stop sinning or something worse will happen)?
We don’t have any details of his life after being healed except that he later ran into Jesus at the temple. And really for me it’s more of a curiosity about what happened to him. The question lingers, “what about the next day?”.
Another example is the woman caught in adultery in John 8.
She was taken into the temple courts where Jesus was teaching. I’m sure everyone heard the commotion and gathered to hear what was going on. Everyone heard that she was caught in adultery. If her life wasn’t ruined before, it was now. Even after the accusers left, she was still there. Even after Jesus didn’t condemn her and told her to not sin. Everyone knew. We know how fast gossip travels. Did it even take 15 minutes for her family and friends to find out if they didn’t know before? So, the question stands, “what about the next day?”.
Did her family and friends effectively disown her? Did she have a husband and if so, what happened to the marriage? Did she turn from sin or did she fall deeper into it? Was she loved or made an outcast? She was used by the establishment to try and trap Jesus; then left there destroyed. Scripture doesn’t say what happened to her. Scripture does say that Jesus didn’t condemn her. How did she go forward?
The question “what about the next day” also applies to us. I have been given great blessings. A good job, great kids, a wonderful wife, and the saving grace from God. So, what about my next day? And, if you were to meet Jesus, what about your next day?
Some days I’m the main character in the story. He has healed me; he has forgiven me; my life is changed. How do I react? How do I go forward? And there are always consequences to our actions and the actions of others. Consequences may be good or bad. How we handle these events is the key in answering “what about the next day?”.
Some days I’m a supporting character in the story. Sure, it’s up to the main character to follow through; i.e. to work, to not fall back into sin, to mend fences, to confess, to be grateful, etc. But it is my responsibility to be the supporting cast. To love them, to support them, to guide them, to help them, to teach them, … It’s how we affect the outcome. It how we make the difference in someone else’s life. It’s how we are part of God’s work.
I enjoy thinking upon what the “day after” events may be in the scriptures. What might have happened, both good and bad. It’s harder to think of my “next days” and then live it. The “next day” is where the rubber meets the road. Do you follow the path God has laid before you? Do you follow where He leads? You decide.
The Firefighter Devotional is an excellent blog that I follow. Today’s post talks about the phrase “More Than You Can Bear”. One of my pet peeves is people quoting scripture that is not in the Bible or taking what is written and misinterpreting it for their own uses.
Give a close read. There are quite a few lessons in such a short article!!
I knew retirement was coming and I had been thinking of what I wanted to do during retirement. I just didn’t know it would be a few years earlier than I had planned. Sure, there are several things that I had neglected and need to do. Such as cleaning out the garage. And we want to travel and visit parts of the country that we haven’t been to. And we want to remodel our bathroom. And I could work at some of my hobbies. And I suppose I could get another job. But what could I do that had a lasting effect? More importantly, what did God want me to do during retirement?
I really don’t have a clear-cut answer. It’s not like I’ve received an email saying “David, I want you to do _______”. I trust it will be revealed when the appropriate time comes. Need to have faith, have patience, seek guidance. He will guide and direct me like He has throughout my life.
Pastor Chad uses a couple of phrases that ring true in this excellent sermon.
“Christians are not guided by fate; Christians are guided by faith.”
“God had plans for us.”
From Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
I often think that children’s messages in church teach as much or more than the regular sermons and this is a prime example.
We all get in trouble. Sometimes intentionally. We want something and decide to break the rules.
Sometimes we like to walk on the edge. There is something exciting about seeing how close to the edge you can get without falling. But in this scenario, there is no room for error. A little push or the wind blows the wrong way; down we go. Taking whomever is along with us.
Sometimes we get into trouble through no fault of our own. We get pulled down with others or we get blamed when things turn bad. These are the more difficult cases.
Do we still ask for forgiveness? Do we still turn to God in prayer? I believe we ask God for guidance in these difficult cases. He will show us our role and we go from there.
My favorite comic of all times is Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. You can find them at https://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes.
What makes them special to me? I’m not entirely sure. I think it’s as simple as we are taken on adventures. Crazy, fun adventures. Perhaps because the strips touch deeper topics than a simple joke or perhaps because I can really relate to the 6 year old’s mentality. Whatever it is, I really enjoy the stories that are told.
Some of my favorite topics are sledding, snowmen, Calvinball and the bedtime stories. A couple of examples…
My favorite strip was the last one:
Go, explore, have adventures, and enjoy this life God has given us.
Several years ago, I taught a Sunday School class of pre-school boys. One if their favorite activities was to knock down blocks. We had these big soft blocks and I would stack them high. Invariably one of them would hit or kick and knock down the tower. Once one started the rest would join in. Then we had to build it again. There wasn’t nearly as much energy in building the stack as there was in knocking it down.
We start at an early age. Many boys (and girls) love to examine things and take things apart. Grabbing glasses off of faces and pulling earrings off. Then they start taking apart simple toys and then progressing to more expensive toys. Later on, some of them actually learn to put things back together and eventually start to make things better.
Taking things apart is much easier than building things. Destroying things is much easier than building things. It doesn’t really take much to tear things down. But, it’s difficult to build things and build them well.
The part of software development that I enjoyed the most was building it. Planning on how it was put together, creating it, and making it run correctly. Building is also why I enjoy home improvement projects, origami, and woodworking. Sure, tearing down is fun. But the sense of accomplishment when you’ve built something is much more satisfying and longer lasting. You see the results for much longer.
It’s harder to see when we talk about building someone up. We are to build each other up. From 1 Thess. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” An encouraging word. Coming along side of another to help them when and where they need help. To remind them they are not alone (not just in this time of Covid, but all of the time). To listen to them. To pray for them. To feed and help with shelter. To teach.
Unlike doing a home project, you probably won’t see the results immediately if at all. This is where faith comes in. You need to continue to build them up even without the feedback of accomplishment or a sense of change. It will take many, many, many repetitions. Keep at it. Work at it. Use your stubbornness and “don’t quit” attitude to build others up. But don’t be obnoxious about it. It is not really your project. It’s God’s project. You are his hands and feet. You are his instrument to build others up. Listen to His leading on where you need to help and build.
I’ve always enjoyed maps. When taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills tests many years ago, the map part of the test was the one that I enjoyed doing and the part that I always did well on.
Today, the maps on your phone are great for getting from point A to point B. They really don’t give you a sense of distance or what is in between the start and end points. It’s easy to put in 2 points and it calculates the trip distance and time. A 1003 mile trip in 15 hours is easily computed. But that doesn’t include stops for gas, food, hotel, etc.. Plus, there is a multitude of places that you might was to stop in between!
I grew up using the large paper state maps. When planning a trip, you would need to decide on which roads to take and calculate the distances from one location to another. Attractions or places of interest would be noted on the map as you planned your route. You never know what you might find to make the trip more interesting! Seems like there is a poem that contains the phrase, “I took the one less traveled”.
Of the various map types, I enjoy historical and topographical maps the most. The following links point to some references where you can find these types of maps.
The USGS has topographical and historical maps of the entire U.S dating back to the late 1800s. You can find them at https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/topoview/ You will want to select “View and Download maps now”. You can even see how a place has grown over time.
The Library of Congress has collection the contains a wide variety of historical maps. https://www.loc.gov/collections/general-maps.
Maps that relate to stories help put the story into perspective. Think about the maps for Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and the Hundred Acre Woods. It gives both scale and a quick guide to the world that the story is written in.
Many games have maps as an integral part of the game. Sometimes mapping the levels or the world are the only way to win.
As you can probably guess, I can spend a lot of time just browsing at maps. It’s a wonderful world to wander about in.