Thursday, 10 December 2015

A gluten-free pudding!

Eve's Pudding?

Why this pudding has that name is hard to know.

In the recipe below you will not find a single piece, not even a slice, of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the FotTotKoGaE).  Not even a speck.

There are apples though, which are easier, in once sense, to come by. 

I say that apples are easier to come by than the FotTotKoGaE.  Actually, we "eat" a lot of that fruit in my house.

For example, I tell my children not to shout at each other, because that is wrong and unkind.  And I then I spend 10 minutes shouting unkindly at a child who has wet themselves.  Why?  Because I am having a bad day - that is, one full of opportunities to lift stresses to the Lord in prayer, chances to trust Him, but completely fail, and instead carry a weight too heavy for me to bear, the salvation of the souls of the people who come to our after-school club.

How is this eating the FotTotKoGaE?  Well, I decide what is right and wrong for myself, and even change the definition of acceptable behaviour depending on how I feel and who is the subject.

It is EVIL for eldest to screech at me or youngest in frustration.

It is GOOD for me to screech abuse at them for an accident.

I'm sure you can think of many examples in your own life where you've overthrown God and taken the definition of good and evil into your own hands.

Even as I am screaming, I am so grateful for my Saviour, Jesus, who only ever did good.  But who chose the cross deserved by evil people, so that we could walk free.

I have a friend who has one birth child and has since adopted three other children.  I told her that one thing that scares me about the thought of adoption is losing my temper at scarred children in the same way I speak to my own children.   My wise friend said that it is the way that we restore relationship after sinning which makes the difference.   Children of neglect do not see that a relationship can be restored.  Nobody says sorry, and relationships don't recover.  This is damaging to a child.  Although I've always thought that it is important to say sorry when I sin against my children, my friend opened the door to a new way to thinking about how I restore relationship with my kids after I have sinned against them.  Now I battle my way through hard-hearted pride to restore peace. 

Our Creator, the Lord, could condemn all of us to an eternity without him because of our rebellion against his right to choose what is good and what is evil.   Instead he sent his Son to die for us rebels.  He chose to restore relationship with people.  What a gift of grace.


Gluten-free Eve's Pudding

4 cooking apples, peeled and chopped
75g light brown soft sugar
200g butter
200g granulated sugar
180g Dove's Farm wheat-free self-raising flour
40g ground almonds
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 180C.

Put the apples into a square oven dish (about 20x20cm).  Sprinkle the brown sugar over.

Put the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until well combined.  Spread the mixture over the top of the apples.

Put the dish on a baking tray (this helps to conduct heat), and bake for about 40 minutes, until well browned.

Enjoy this with custard, or like me, Creme Fraiche.


Friday, 4 December 2015

Infidelity... the pulpit

Another week, another person leaving their wife and moving in with someone else.   Oh yes, and did I mention this was an evangelical vicar?



Then, belief.





And then a thought process.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to the women in our church from Colossians 1.  The aim was to remind us all of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.  I spoke from the heart about my failure to keep Jesus commands, specifically about adultery and murder.

Woah!  Have I committed adultery and murder? 

Matthew reports that Jesus said:

"You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart...

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment."

So, in that case then, yes. Guilty as charged.

When I spoke to my ladies, I was hoping for a sombre tone.  I was imagining that they would be convicted of the sin in their hearts.

But they laughed.   

Repeatedly, through that whole part of my talk.

When I asked (from the front!) why, the answer given was that they identified exactly with what I was saying, but the laughter came from the shock of someone standing in front of them and admitting it.  Admitting to the deep darkness in my heart, the desperate need for a saviour, because on my own terms I will never come close to the standard of love of God or neighbour that He requires.  And no-one had heard this coming out of the mouth of a preacher before.

So when I hear about a vicar leaving his wife for the church secretary, although one of my first reactions is JUDGEMENT, what comes afterward is the memory that I said to my ladies "If I had the opportunity, would I?"

Would I?

Would you?

Have you already?  

Are you a pastor, or pastor's wife and have already taken a step towards this?  

Have you made someone an idol?  Have you compared them with your spouse and thought that actually, that other person would be much better for you.  They would treat you as you deserve.  They would respect you.  They would love you unselfishly.  They would love you in the way you need, which apparently your spouse hasn't noticed you need.  Perhaps they seem to love Jesus more than your current spouse does.  They don't have the struggle with sin that your spouse does, and would be so much better for you.  They'd help you in your relationship with God.  Perhaps God wants you to be with them instead?  Because then your relationship with God would be better...

If these things are going through your mind, can I urge you to bring them out into God's light.  Tell Him.  But please also realise that these are lies.  

Whoever we marry will fail us. Perhaps a new spouse would love us in better ways, but they would also, inevitably fail us in some other way.

I have come to realise over the years of wrestling with my heart that anyone else I give the above characteristics to is imaginary at best, or an idol at worst.  The person who I build in my head doesn't really exist on earth. 

But He does in the heavenly realm.  He is my beloved, and I am his.  

Jesus is better for me.  He treats me far better than I deserve.  He loves me unselfishly.  He loves me in the way I need.  He certainly loves me more than Nick does (and, incidentally, even more so, he loves Nick more than I do).  Jesus doesn't struggle with any sin, and he is so good for me.   He helps me (oh, my intercessor!) in my relationship with God.   And in the end, on the last day, when we live in a time when marriage no longer exists, he will replace my husband, and be my eternal groom.

When you're tempted, as we are, to replace, mentally or actually, your spouse with an idol, please remember that you would be replacing one sinner with another.  Wait for that glorious day when we will all be joined to the bridegroom.

Then, remember your vows.  I promised to love, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or health.  And in the presence of God I made that vow.  My commitment to Jesus needs to be reflected in faithfulness to the promise I made in his sight.

And bring it to the Lord.  Fuming at him, crying to him, calling out in desperation to him at a time in your marriage when you are just at the end of wanting to be there is a precious gift.  There is often nobody else we can go to, but He should be the first.


Pastors.  Please.  Preach from your heart and be honest with your congregation because they (we!) need to know that they are not alone, that we all struggle with sin, and here, in the gospel of grace, is the answer.  

And if you're on the verge...please tell someone, and tell yourself the truth.