Thursday, October 23, 2014

Loaded Chicken and Potatoes

This is SO good. It takes a little time to prepare and cook, so you do have to plan ahead, but it's worth it and it makes great leftovers. Bacon, cheese, chicken, potatoes, and ranch dressing. What's not to like?

1/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp hot sauce or vinegar
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
6-8 medium red potatoes
2 cups fiesta blend cheese
1 cup bacon crumbles
1 cup diced green onion (optional)
Ranch dressing

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, spices, and hot sauce or vinegar until thoroughly mixed. I'm not big on spicy foods, so I just use vinegar. If you like it spicy, use hot sauce (which has vinegar in it). You're basically making a salad dressing with oil and vinegar and spices.

Cut the chicken breasts into roughly 1" cubes. Cut the potatoes into 1/2" cubes (they can be longer than 1/2", but shouldn't be too thick). Stir the chicken and potato pieces into the oil and spice mixture until all pieces are well-coated.

Pour into a 13" x 9" baking pan or large casserole dish. (In these pictures, I actually did a recipe and a half and put it all in a 15" x 11" baking pan. It works just as well, but it might need a few extra minutes in the oven.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is done. You may want to stir it a couple of times during cooking to be sure it all gets evenly done.

While the chicken and potatoes are in the oven, cook about 1/2 a pound of bacon until it starts to get crispy. Cool and crumble into pieces.

When the chicken and potatoes are done, top with bacon, then with fiesta cheese, then green onions (if you want them). Put the dish back in the oven for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

Serve with ranch dressing (or sour cream, but ranch dressing is way better). Enjoy!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Four Promises for My Boys if They Tell Me They are Gay: From an Ordinary Christian Mother

Today's post is a guest post from a family friend, Martha McLean. It originally appeared on her new blog, Confessions of a Horribly Disorganized, Totally Weird, Homeschool Mom. I read it and really liked it because it is exactly how a Christian parent should respond to a child who "comes out" as a homosexual. It balances truth and love. It affirms love for the child, but doesn't condone sinful behavior. May we all learn to speak the truth in love like this.


I read an article recently titled “If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises from a Christian Pastor/Parent.” The thoughts represented in it have stayed with me for about a week now, begging to be answered. Maybe answered isn’t the right term here. It isn’t really an answer to that blog that I need to write, but an answer to my own children on why some of my promises will be a bit different if they come home and tell me they are gay. The author of the post I mentioned claims to be a Christian parent and pastor. I do not claim to know the author’s heart, and I am not trying to belittle anything he wrote. In the end, what I think, what he thinks, or what you think, have no bearing on truth, and therefore, I do not seek to change the minds of any reader here, nor of the man who wrote the original post.

There is a matter here that I feel is important. My child, as of this moment, has not come home and told me he was gay. I have never faced this issue, and therefore, I can only promise my children what I plan to do. How I plan to react. I do understand that quite often the moment we find out what we will really do is the moment we face the realities of the situation. The following four promises are made from what I know and understand now. The rest I will only know and understand when and if I ever walk this path.

 1. I will not hide you, nor will I applaud you.

I believe living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. (Just so you know, same sex attraction is not a sin.) My opinion on this comes from the Word of God. Whether anyone else believes the Bible or not, I do. Without apology. I believe that homosexual behavior is a sin because the Bible says it is. However, I also believe marrying a woman (all my kids are boys) who is not a Christian is a sin. Having a sexual relationship outside of marriage is a sin. Lying in order to be looked upon in a better light is a sin. Gossip is sin. Laziness is sin….and the list goes on.

If you come home with a woman who is not a Christian and announce you plan to marry her, I will not applaud your decision, nor will I hide it. It will be no different if you come home with a man.

No matter what behavior you may embrace, you are still my child. We will always be a family. You will always be welcome in my home. Those you love will be welcome in my home. I will ask that while in my home you respect my beliefs, just as I would in your home. If you come home with the girlfriend you are living with, you will not sleep together while in my home. If you come home with a boyfriend, I will ask the same. However, if I go visit you, I will not ask you to change because I am there. This is simply a matter of respect. I hope that I will have taught you to respect others in a way that this would never be a problem.

I also would expect others to respect you, and consider you part of the family. Family reunions where you are not invited, I will not attend. This is not an endorsement of your lifestyle. It is a confirmation of your permanent place in my life and my heart.

2. I will pray for you.

I will pray for you to change, but I will not pray for you to conform to my way of thinking. Instead, I will pray that God will draw you, my son, to Him. This, by the way, is the same prayer I pray for all of my children already. It is the prayer I will pray for my kids regardless of your life choices. It is the prayer I will continue to pray daily for the rest of my life. 

3. I will love you.

I would like to stop here and tell a story that has helped me understand true love. As an adult, I have heard stories of extreme love shown by parents whose daughter came home pregnant, or whose son had to enter drug rehab or other such things we would consider “bad”. On the other hand, I have also seen and heard of those who have rejected their children. For some it has been because of “tough love”, for others it was because they were simply repulsed by their child’s behavior. There is a family I know, however, that has truly shown Christ’s unconditional love in the face of what seems to be overwhelming obstacles. I will not mention their names, nor will I go into great detail about their story. I will simply say that I watched as their child was convicted of murder. I have shed tears as I see pictures of them together posted on facebook taken from a prison visiting area. I have stood and watched from afar as parents love their kid regardless of what they may have done. Through this family, I have been able to get a small glimpse into the “other side” of tragedy. The side of the silent victim—the family of the accused/guilty. Through them I have seen an honest glimpse into the love my Heavenly Father lavishes on me, a sinner no better than that son who committed a terrible crime, that daughter who gave her body away for a needle full of heroin, or any other human that goes astray. I am that woman who gossips as God weeps over my sin, yet He still loves me. I am the one that sometimes has a bad attitude when my Father simply asks me to go out of my way for a minute to help someone else. I am the child that doesn’t trust as I should. My Father doesn’t always approve of my lifestyle, but He always loves me.

I say all that to say: A parent does NOT have to agree with their child’s lifestyle to love them. They do not have to love what the child does to passionately care for their child. Just as I love you now when you lie or disobey, I will love you when you are older, regardless of what you do. 

4. I will not change my mind for you.

I think this is where people tend to have a problem. People seem to think that in order to love and accept another person, they both must agree on important things like this. Honestly, sometimes it seems that this area of homosexuality is so much more important than other areas to many people. If I disagree with you then I am simply a hateful bigot. So many times the “Judge not lest ye be judged…” line is spewed (out of context I might add) without the first thought to the fact that they have in fact judged those with whom they disagree. I want my kids to be clear on this one thing….your “coming out of the closet” will not change my love for you, nor will it change my mind about the behavior.

Romans 1 tells us that people will begin to live exactly as they are living now. It also warns that those who know the truth about these things will, “not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” This chapter speaks of homosexuality, backbiting, murder, haters of God, and many other sins. I, with the help of God, will never take pleasure in your sin. I will, however, always take pleasure in the fact that you are my son.

If you have same sex attractions, you may already or will soon struggle in this area. If you don’t have same sex attractions, there will be some other temptation that plagues you. Every one of us is born with a sin nature. The Bible clearly teaches that Adam’s original sin brought sin into the whole world. As I said above, I am quite adept at sin myself. I, like Paul, can say, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:14, 15) In other words, I do the very things that I don’t want to do. I have a struggle with my sinful nature on a daily basis. You have the same struggles. I want you to know that you can talk to me…we can pray together. I cannot promise that things will get better, that your struggle will go away, but I can promise that I will listen and not condemn (that’s not my job). I will not change my mind because I can’t. I believe the Bible is clear on this issue, but I can share with you where I struggle. I will remind you that God loves you, and I will always, always love you too.

Martha McLean is a wife, homeschool mother, interpreter for the deaf, and most of all a Christian.  She has written on and off for many years, but has just recently started a blog where she will be discussing her homeschooling successes and failures, as well as other things that are important to her.  Her goals through her writing are to encourage others and to glorify the Savior.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Bible is NOT a Book

Many times, when I engage in discussion with atheists, I get some sort of dismissive remark about how I get my morality from some 2,000 year old book or ridiculing the idea of depending on an ancient book for knowledge about God. Even many Christians speak of the Bible as “a book.”

But we need to get away from referring to the Bible as a book. The Bible is NOT a book. It is a collection of books and other writings, written by roughly 40 different authors over the span of about 1,600 years. There are 66 distinct documents in the Bible, some of which are actually collections of works themselves (such as the Psalms).

Thus, referring to the Bible as a book is incorrect. It is more like an anthology. It may be printed as a single volume, but it is not a book.

Realizing that the Bible is not a single book is important for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, the real nature of the Bible as a collection of works from multiple authors means that the books of the Bible are independent sources that confirm one another. This cannot be overemphasized.

In many cases, during a discussion of the Bible’s accuracy, I have had people ask me what evidence I have “outside the Bible.” Of course, I can and do provide evidence for the claims of the Bible from outside sources. There are many, many evidences from multiple sources that support the accuracy and historicity of the Bible. Archaeology and various written records throughout history have confirmed details written in the Bible. Science sheds light on some aspects of the Bible. There are many kinds of evidence one could use. Christians should be informed of these evidences and use them to defend their faith.

However, the books of the Bible also confirm one another. And because the books in the Bible are independent documents, this is important evidence for the Bible’s accuracy.

If the Bible were a single book, it would be far easier to dismiss. If one person were making all these claims which were not backed up by any other source, it would be easier to ignore them. But when you have 40 different writers, in different places and times, with different backgrounds and purposes, and recording different events, but whose writings remain consistent with each other and, in many cases, confirm and support one another – that’s powerful evidence that what they wrote was true.

As an example, take the life of Jesus. People often ask what evidence we have of Jesus’ existence or of certain things He did. There is certainly evidence outside the Bible that Jesus existed from Josephus and several other writers of the first few centuries AD. But the Bible itself contains four independent testimonies about Jesus that confirm one another. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by different people. Matthew and John were actual disciples of Jesus who were there during His ministry and crucifixion. Mark was a protégé of Peter, another disciple. Luke was a historian and scholar who compiled accounts of Jesus from eyewitnesses. All of them verify each other’s accounts in multiple places.

In addition to the gospel accounts, the writings of Paul, Peter, John, and others in the rest of the New Testament, though they aren’t specifically written to give the account of Jesus’ life, often refer to details of Jesus’ life and teachings that agree with what the gospels tell of Him.

Considering that the books of the Bible are separate and independent documents, dismissing them as a unit is erroneous. One might be able to claim that the authors all had a bias or ulterior motive for what they wrote, but so did most of the people who wrote documents from which we piece together history. The point is that there are multiple, independent sources which confirm details of the Christian faith and the historical timeline associated with it. The fact that we often collect these documents into one volume and call it “The Bible” does not in any way reduce the importance of this confirmation.

As an analogy, suppose people were to collect all the books, letters, diaries, and news articles that have been written about the events of 9/11 into a single volume called “The Attack of 9/11.” Then, in a couple thousand years when a skeptic is doubting that 9/11 ever happened, someone shows this volume to him. The skeptic says to the other person, “Yeah, but that’s just one book. What evidence do you have outside this book?”

Obviously, the 9/11 skeptic would be ignorant and incorrect to say that. While there might be other evidence outside “The Attack of 9/11” that could be used as confirmation, the skeptic would be ignoring the many evidences “inside” the volume which record and confirm the events. The individual news articles from different parts of the country which all portray the events in the same way, the diaries of people who remember it, and the books written about it by people who talked to eyewitnesses are all independent sources, even if they are published as a single volume. It is the same for the books of the Bible.

In our society, there are many attacks upon the Christian faith and the historicity of the Bible. One of the ways to help combat these is to point out that the Bible is not a single book, but an extensive collection of documents that support one another. This “internal” verification and consistency is important evidence of the Bible’s authenticity that should not be overlooked or ignored.