The World of Pickles

Here’s a little graphic I have been working on recently, trying to give a fresh look at the idea of sharing a recipe online.  I may work on more in the future, but I figure that this is the test subject on the idea of a recipe infographic.  By the way, the finished product was superb.  I enjoy store-bought dills, but these are quite a few steps above.  Enjoy!

Smacking the Liberal Elites Upside the Head

It is becoming more “strange” to be a Christian living in the 21st century.  I wonder why the majority of American citizens think of us, the ones which held the standard of our nation for two centuries, are looked down upon as extreme–and even compared to the Taliban of Afghanistan sometimes.  Why is this?

As a Christian who studies the Bible, I know the answer.  It is simply that those that love Christ will be hated by the world (John 15:18).  The problem is that most of the world today has made Jesus Christ out to be someone who he is not.  As an example, to see Christ as a preacher of social justice and social welfare is completely fraudulent.  All one has to do is read the four gospels and know that Christ was preaching the Kingdom of God to the hell-bound world, not trying to make all of the classes “equal.”  Yet most mainline denominations (United Methodist, UCC, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, etc.) preach the “social gospel” instead of the real gospel.  They make Jesus Christ, our Savior, out to be someone who He is not.  He is not what some author says (Mark Driscoll, William P. Young).  He is not what my minister says.  He is not what my high school teacher says.  He is who He says He is.  The only truly foundational picture we have of Jesus Christ is in the Bible.  That is all just one example.

Something that tends to irritates me as a fundamental Baptist is the fusing of Protestants, Catholics, and Baptists together as “Christianity.”  The “intellectual” elite tend to do this most unashamedly.  They will say things like, “The worst atrocities committed in history were in the name of Christ.”  Or, “Religion has caused more bloodshed than anything else.”  In one strain, they are right; but when they lump me in there as well, that is when the line is crossed.  Did you know, that in history, it was the Roman Catholics mainly, and to a lesser extent, Protestants, that made war in the name of religion?  I doubt that anyone can name an atrocity committed by Baptists as a whole.  In fact, we were the ones being persecuted by the Pope, John Calvin, and Philip Melanchthon. We never have persecuted other denominations just because they believe differently.  We have always been for what Christ has preached: loving your neighbor, and your enemy! It comes from a complete lack of understanding by these intellectuals when Baptists are lumped together with every other religion under the sun.

All of this to say that we are a very strange people to the world.  They do not understand that I, who am called by God to be in His ministry, do not concern myself with making “the big buck” in life.  Sure, I will make as much as I can to provide for my family, and work for every bit of it; but I did not attain a degree in higher education to make a lavish career for myself.  This is one of very few things that people go to college for, caring little if any for the amount of money they make.  It is foolish to the world to go to school for four years, just to be a pastor some day, never making a six or seven digit salary.  Often, God calls his people to do what will seem very peculiar to the world–and the joy that comes from this money could never buy.  This is what the world could never understand.  They may try to hyper-analyze and say that, “Oh, he is just given security by his religion.  That’s good for him.”  I can stand up and say with all confidence: I get all of my security from my God–not some “made-up” religion.  The more that the sociologists and physiologists try to analyze, the more foolish they become.  I just wish they could know God, and how great He is.  Then, they would fully understand.

None of this is esoteric.  I am for sure not “duped” by religion, or “brainwashed as a child.”  Everything about my faith and belief in God is my own decision.  They call us anti-intellectual.  I say that they make intellect into something that it is not: secular humanism.  They hate to hear it, but humanism is just as much of a religion as anything.  Their god is their mind.  Their church is the extremely dumbed down universities (compare them to institutions of the 19th century).  No, they are the ones duped by their finite minds.

They compare us to this???

Then, they call us the “American Taliban.”  What???  First off, I would never kill someone unless they threatened me or my family.  Second, I don’t kill civilians.  Third, I don’t kill people from other religions to instill fear and make them convert.  Fourth, I don’t advocate modesty police for every citizen.  Now what are the similarities?  “Oh, you both want our government to be a theocracy.”  Now, I believe that government is best run by non-hypocritical Christians, but I would never impose by force or politics my religion on anyone else.  Then they say, “Just like the Taliban, you want to impose your morals on everyone.”  Again, that is a false and non-informed statement.  Do I think that our society is better without alcohol?  Without a doubt.  Do I believe that people should never live together unless they are married.  Definitely.  But to do that through politics or mass forced conversion would be like trying to paddle up a waterfall.  This is foundational: without people genuinely–by their own decision–being born again, the moral makeup of a nation will never completely accommodate the Christian.  Of course, I believe that we should never let our country become Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abortion should be outlawed because it is murder.  This is not a religious argument!

Altogether though, I simply wanted to illustrate a few points where the liberal elite–religious or not–are so blinded by their own pattern of thinking.  They believe what they want.  They cannot tell me what I believe nor try to hyper-analyze who God is.  God is my creator, savior, and life.

Sweetened Up

I never used to be a big fan of iced tea–sweetened or unsweetened.  I liked hot tea, whether it was black or some kind of herbal.  When I did drink hot tea, I liked it BLACK!  The same with my coffee–BLACK: no cream, no sugar.  None of that wimpy stuff goes in my morning drink.  By the way, I think I have mentioned before that caffeine doesn’t do anything to me…at least not to the point where it’s noticeable.  I just drink coffee or tea for the comfort of it more than anything else.  My good old Dad (no, I’m not going to say how…um…young he is turning in few days, right Dad?  Let’s just say it is a milestone in life.) says that used to be him too, until he hit about 40.  Then, he said, he drinks a coffee in the evening and ends up staring at the ceiling while trying to fall asleep.  That does not sound very fun at all!

Now, Ms. Andrea, she likes plenty of sugar in her tea.  I always make fun of her for it!  “Oh, we can’t afford all of that sugar you’re putting in there!”  “Why don’t you have some pancakes with that syrup?” etc.  I am still the unsweetened person–in tea preference and personality!

Over the past couple of years I have grown to like iced tea on the rare occasion–unsweetened of course.  Once in college, just because it was a dollar, I bought a large McDonald’s Sweet Tea.  I don’t hesitate to say that college kids many times sacrifice quality and taste, and just throw money at it just because it is cheap!  Let’s just say I almost gagged because that goop was so sugary.  I vowed to never drink sweetened tea again!

Recently, something has come over me, though.  Maybe it’s being married has sweetened me up a little bit.  All of the sudden one day several weeks ago, I had a craving for sweet tea.  “What’s wrong with me!?  I don’t like that stuff,” I thought.

Andrea and I were looking on All Recipes (our main “cook book”), and there on the front page of the site was a highly rated recipe for Smooth Sweet Tea.  Well, we made some up according to the recipe, and I fell for it–and am still falling for it!  With ice, tea, sugar, and the secret ingredient, you will be craving more even after already drinking a big glass!

We adapted it a little to our taste, and tend to drink it regularly.  It is so much better than hot coffee or tea on a hot, muggy summer day.  I find the biggest glass in our house, and fill it to the top.  And when we don’t have any made–I hate to admit this now–I even enjoy having a McDonald’s Sweet Tea.  Indeed, my Andrea has sweetened me up some!  But I will always just like my coffee and hot tea black!

Here’s that recipe adapted to us a little:

  • SECRET INGREDIANT–1 pinch baking soda (1/4 teaspoon or a little less)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 7 tea bags
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 6 cups cool water

Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda (yes, that’s what I said…just do it!) into a 64-ounce, heat-proof, glass pitcher. Of course, make sure you warm the pitcher warm water before pouring in the boiled water…unless you want a broken pitcher.  Pour in boiling water, and add tea bags. Cover with saran wrap, and let it to steep for 12 minutes.  Next, remove the tea bags, and throw them away; stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Pour in the cool water, then refrigerate it until cold.  Optionally, you can add ice and subtract some water for a quicker drink!  The baking soda acts as a base on the PH scale, therefore countering the acid in the tea.  This makes the drink slide right down!

Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War

Here are just a few brief thoughts to put the issue of slavery and the Civil War into perspective:

  • The Baptists at the time of the Civil War were basically divided into two very loose conventions: The Southern Baptists and Northern Baptists.  They were one fellowship, but separated because they began to disallow slaveholders to be supported as missionaries.  Therefore, the Southerners separated just before the Civil War because they still believed that slavery was instituted by God to “keep the races separate.”
  • The Puritans (Congregationalists) of the era strongly opposed slavery.  One of those men was D.L. Moody. Moody enlisted in service with the YMCA to preach to Northern soldiers of General Grant, and was present at the battles of Shiloh, Murfreesboro, and the taking of Richmond.  Moody was also a staunch supporter of Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party.  The south may have had General Jackson on their side praying, but the north had “General” Moody praying!

  • Other Christian abolitionists of the time included Peter Cartwright and Charles Finney.  Even the English preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon preached against American slavery.  In the south, his sermons were outlawed and burned due to his strong opposition of slavery.
  • The Republican Party was only a few years old when their first president, Abraham Lincoln, was elected.  The Republicans were the main stream abolitionists of the period.  Democrats, for the most part, opposed the war and complete abolition.

  • Yes, I believe that the Civil War, at the beginning, was an issue of states rights (Confederate thought), and preservation of the nation (Union thought).  No, the union was not the side who made the war an issue of slavery: it was the south.  The north simply wanted the Union preserved, while the Confederacy wanted their supreme “state right” of slavery.
  • The south was the aggressor.  Simply because they didn’t like that Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans were elected, they separated from the Union.  They fired the first shots at Fort Sumpter.  They continually insisted that “their land” was being invaded, while at the same time invading the Northern states of Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  Any black man found in those states, whether they had ever been a slave or not, was sent into bondage.  Now, who was the aggressor?  And who was trying to preserve peace and justice?
  • The Confederacy had some very godly generals fighting for them: including Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee.  That does not prove, however, that the south was justified.

  • Some would say that it was good that slaves were brought to America, because without slavery they would still be living in absolute poverty in Africa.  So, they would say, American slavery was a righteous cause.  Here, I believe I can equate the bondage of Israel in Egypt with the bondage of blacks in America.  It grieved God to see his people suffer in affliction.  He did not want them in slavery.  Yet even amidst the slavery, God’s Divine Will still worked, despite the sin of slave-holding by the Egyptians and the Confederacy.  Even in spite of bondage, slaves came to know Christ as Savior, and would eventually be free in the most prosperous country in the world: with an opportunity to live with Christian liberty.

  • The freeing of slaves itself did not promote the degradation of much of the black society as we know it today.  There were many Christian agencies (not government!) that taught the freed slaves business practice, land ownership, and agriculture.  Men like Booker T. Washington promoted the ideas of opportunity through industry and intelligence.  Black society made large steps in the right direction during reconstruction and into the late 1800’s.  It was not until the socialist/welfare preachings of W.E.B. DuBois and others that black culture took a drastic turn in the wrong direction.  Unfortunately, entitlement replaced industry in the minds of many blacks, the results of which is seen prominently today.  However, each man still has his chance to be a successful American, no matter what his or her background may entail.

Let me know where you agree, or even disagree!  Comment away!