A Creamy Garlic White Wine Sauce and 1 Tim. 5:23

Sometimes, as I read the Scriptures, I get inspired in various ways. This post is for those of you like me: one of the ways I get inspired is to cook, I think of food. So here is a meditation on Scripture with a recipe that it may inspire you to create. In 1 Timothy 5 Paul writes this to Timothy,

23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)

Reading through this chapter, you may be caught off guard by Paul’s seemingly disconnected instruction to young Timothy. Though I am inspired to drink or cook with wine, I suspect that this may not be what Paul intended this verse to accomplish. This verse at first seems completely out of place, yet a closer look at the context sheds some light on why Paul says this.
 

Paul is in the midst of exhorting Timothy on how to conduct himself as a leader in the church and how to lead his flock. In verse 22, Paul turns to personal instruction: Timothy, be pure, keep yourself from sin. Making this practical, Paul inserts some personal health instruction. He is saying something like this, “Focus on pursuing godly conduct and leadership—and take care of yourself in the process!” Ethically, that Paul instructs a Church leader to drink wine suggests that there is no absolute Scriptural prohibition against drinking alcohol—though there are relevant prohibitions governing particular circumstances (e.g., Romans 14) and drunkenness (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:8, Gal. 5:19-21). Furthermore, though he makes it clear elsewhere that godliness is the priority (1 Tim. 4:8), Paul makes the point here that one can only lead others and serve Jesus when he or she is alive to do so—so health has some measure of importance. The fact that Paul sandwiches this instruction between the greater contrast between good works and sin suggests, probably, that Timothy was only drinking water (abstaining from wine) to avoid connection with the sinful practices of others. Paul is, then, reinforcing Timothy’s purpose but encouraging a different practice.

What can we take from this, other than a recipe? Paul cared about practical issues, he cared about people, their health, and though we should focus on godliness—dying to self and following Jesus—we need to be alive to do so, so we shouldn’t neglect those means of healing made available to us as we seek first Christ’s kingdom.

 

With that in mind, here is a great (at least my wife thought so) wine inspired recipe, a sauce for any pasta—ideally paired with seafood but great with any herby Chicken or pork.

 
  Creamy Garlic White Wine Sauce  (serves two people)

1/4 a cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)

1/2 chicken broth

1/4 tsp salt (I added a bit more at the end, depending on the salt content of the chicken broth)

1/3 – 1/2 cup diced onion

5 or 6 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicy you like it)

Fennel seed (I used about half a tsp)

Diced Mushroom

1/2 cup Almond milk

2 Tbsp. butter

Ground pepper to taste

(For thickening, I used about two tbslp brown rice flour)

 

Heat up ½ tbsp. olive oil in a 7-9inch (medium sized) pan. Add 1 tbsp of butter to the hot oil, sauté onions for 1 minute with fennel seed. Add garlic and mushroom, sauté for another minute with 1/4 tsp of salt. Add tbsp. of butter, then chicken broth and wine. Bring to a boil at medium heat, boil for 5 minutes. Add almond milk and pepper and bring to a boil at medium, boil for 1 minute. Thicken by boiling and adding flour to liking, add more salt as necessary. Serve hot.

The Facade of Confidence; How Self-Confidence Destroys Our Identity

One thing our culture is great at these days in encouraging self-confidence. We are told from childhood that we can do anything we put our minds towards, we are often presented with this picture of children being born innocent and being corrupted by time—in the Christian culture the corruption of our children is often pinned on the perverting influence of our culture. Walking into even a Christian bookstore we see shelves full of books on ridding ourselves of negative mindsets, of acquiring good self-esteem so that we can achieve the abundance we are said to be entitled to. I recently watched a spoken word on YouTube from a Christian guy ranting about the awesome man/woman inside of each of us that we need to unleash. The last 200 years have been filled with utopian visions of the goodness of mankind and how if we work together we can achieve boundless prosperity and happiness. Until I came to Bible College there were times when I actually thought it was a good idea to follow my heart.

It is so easy in a culture of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-you-name-it, to get the idea that we deserve things like God’s love or mercy. It is easy to get into the mindset that we can go places with our lives, attain righteousness, or—at the very least—deserve the love of God on our own.

When we attempt to understand our identity in Christ and God’s relationship to us from this foundation we find ourselves all over the place; our view of God, of ourselves, and of our sin are dangerously skewed and we find ourselves reading Scripture through the damaging lenses of these harmful presuppositions.  As I have wrestled through different passages of Scripture over the last 3 years and have attempted to see my identity not in what I am or what I do but in my relation to Christ I have constantly run into the foundation I had laid before of how deserving or worthwhile I was. What I have come to see, courtesy of insights from various authors (such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, etc.), is that without looking back to where I was before the Spirit renovated my heart, without tearing down the idols and illusions of self-confidence, I would never get to a healthy place of seeing myself as God sees me. I came to the conclusion that as long as I clung to my ideals of self-confidence I would find myself floundering in my own depravity and inability as I attempted to do things by my own strength, will, and ability. What I needed to do was get a healthy biblical position of who I was apart from Christ.

What I needed to do was strip aside my cultural presuppositions and get a healthy dose of reality; I needed to examine myself apart from Christ and see myself as the truly wretched hellion I am without His grace. From this perspective of stripped down and worthless, my state before God changed me, I could THEN, and only then, look at my identity in Christ; it is from here that I could truly grasp the profundity of God’s love for me.

I set it up as a I was, I am, I am becoming contrast, starting with who I was before Christ—who am I apart from His Spirit, the darkness is that is still hiding in the recesses of my heart awaiting final destruction in the resurrection and glorification. Who was I?

– I was a child of the devil[i]
– I was of this dark and writhing cesspool of a world[ii]
– I was a sinner from birth[iii]
– I was in Adam, under sin[iv]
– I had no righteousness[v]
– I was dead in my trespasses[vi]
– I hated and blasphemed God[vii]
– I was an enemy of God[viii]
– I faced His wrath[ix]
– I knew God existed, but abandoned him in pursuit of my selfish desires[x]
– I was an idolater
– I was a murder[xi]
– I was an adulterer[xii]
– I was a liar
– my heart was and is deceitful above all else[xiii]
– I was a slave to sin[xiv]
– My mind was set on the things of the flesh[xv]
– I was and am (in myself, apart from Christ’s righteousness imputed to me) unworthy of anything but the fiery wrath of God poured out against my own unrighteousness.
– I was a man of unclean lips with dirty hands
– I was covetous and deceitful
– I was untrustworthy

I still struggle with much of this, for we are all caught in the already/not-yet tension of Christ’s kingdom;[xvi] but this is no longer my identity.

 

When I examine my abilities and moral capacities I realize that apart from God and His work I am unworthy of love, I am unworthy of mercy, I am unable to do anything meaningful in this life. But then came Jesus! While I was still a destitute sinner, an enemy of God telling Him to leave me alone and offer His grace to someone else, and while I did my own thing, He burst in and changed everything. He sent His only Son—God Himself, the third person of the Holy trinity—to die in my place.[xvii] He sent His Son to bear His own wrath so that I may be reconciled to God and enjoy Him forever.[xviii] He so loved His Church, of which He has made me a part, that He came to sanctify her for Himself as a bride to spend eternity with Him, her creator.[xix] He loved me so much that He reached down and took my wretched heart of stone that hated Him with all its might and replaced it with a heart of flesh that I might be drawn to Him and be raised up on the last day.[xx] He foreknew me in my wretched state and chose to show mercy on me, a sinner;[xxi] despite my lowly position, despite my nothingness, despite my lack of anything positive to earn His love,[xxii] He set His loving affections upon me in eternity past and He predestined me to be conformed to the image of His son.[xxiii] Because I have been loved and changed, because His work in me is certain, I can have the trust that all things will be worked by Him together for my good[xxiv]—that is, for my sanctification and eventual glorification.[xxv] Because of Him and His work I get to enjoy Him in this life, because of Him and His work I get to enjoy an eternity with Him for He is the end of the Gospel.[xxvi] Because Christ died I know I have forgiveness of my sins, because He rose again I have the guarantee that the work was finished and surety of my eventual resurrection to glorious life eternal with the Father Son and Spirit.[xxvii] Throughout Scripture I see that my identity is in Christ;

-In Christ I am free from condemnation through my faith[xxviii]
-Through Christ I am adopted as a son[xxix]
-in Christ I am a co-heir, awaiting my inheritance[xxx]
-in Christ I have peace with God[xxxi]
-in Christ I have access to the Father[xxxii]
-in Christ I am a new creation, the old is gone but the new is here[xxxiii]
-in Christ I have a foreign righteousness not my own[xxxiv]
-in Christ I am a part of the new covenant community of his people
-in Christ I am being sanctified  by the work of the Spirit[xxxv]
-in Christ I have security for that final day.[xxxvi]

The beauty of all this is that I didn’t deserve it. Nothing in God’s character necessitated that He save me.[xxxvii] He did not have to show mercy, He did not have to love me salvifically, He would have been well within His character to pour out the white hot wrath of His righteous indignation upon my head for an eternity stripped of all providential blessings that even this fallen world has in store for His creation.[xxxviii] Nothing in me necessitated He save me, in fact it was in spite of anything I could do that He saved me: He was faithful to His good and faithful character by upholding the highest end in this universe by glorifying His Holy name in sovereignly dispensing His mercy solely on the good graces of His mercy.[xxxix]

 

When I take account of what the Bible says to who I am outside of Christ I am forced to come to a healthy understand of how wretched I am, of the worm I am in the presence of God’s holiness. I am forced to see how marvellously profound the love of God is for me in that I am who I am today standing in the place I am. Like a space shuttle jettisons its fuel pod and extra boosters to breach the bounds of earth’s atmosphere, I am forced to jettison the facade of self-confidence, I am forced to realize my utter incompetence and come before God in every endeavour I am to undertake. I am forced to see how all my ability and intelligence is for naught unless His Holy Spirit is illuminating His word and sustaining the gifts He has given me. I am forced to give Him glory for every good grade, every success, I have ever had and ever will have. I am forced to give up any thought that I could do it and completely surrender every ounce of self-dependence. I am forced to fall on my knees ever moment of the day to go to my source for all things.

As the illusion of my self-confidence is stripped away and I am laid bare my Father in heaven wraps His arms around me and covers my nakedness with His love and mercy, He clothes me in His Son’s righteousness to cover my disgusting flesh and I am left with a greater confidence then I could ever have had before.

In life or death I will rejoice because whether I fail or succeed, trip or run, my Father’s love was never dependent upon my success and therefore will never be lost.[xl] No force of darkness, spiritual being, earthly kingdom, mighty man, fit of depression, abyss of despair, ocean of pain, heart wrenching loss, or act of violence can ever remove me from the love of God.[xli] When trials come I know that I can rejoice for it is not my ability that will get me through but God’s gracious power at work in my faith ensuring that I will endure all the darkness that this world has to throw at me.[xlii]

In light of this I will set my sights on my maker, look towards the inheritance He has set aside for me, turn away from the things of this world, set my eyes on the kingdom above and work out my faith with fear and trembling—knowing all along that it is Him working in me so that I am able to work and to will.[xliii] I will run the race set before me with endurance knowing that He will get me through all hardship and that every hardship will only produce more endurance,[xliv] I will strive to be conformed to the image of my God setting my sights on the eternal rest that awaits and running until my abilities are spent knowing that when I hit the wall it won’t be my strength that gets me through but His Spirit, the seal of my inheritance, who will ensure that the work He started in me is completed when I am glorified.[xlv]

Praise be unto that glorious savior, praise be unto that mighty God,
Praise be unto the one who gave His only Son to drink of the full force of His wrath in my place,
Praise be to the one who holds the entire universe together by the power of His word and willed for the nails holding his arms and feet in place to exist even as He surrendered his last breath declaring “it is finished” that I might have life,
Praise be to Him who created and sustains all things by the word of His power.
Who can plumb the depths of His majestic wisdom?
Who can know the depths of the wisdom of the sovereign king of kings,
The king who would give His life to make a wretch like me His treasure.

Soli deo gloria.


[i] 1 John 3:10

[ii] as John likes to use term “world” with which all who are not of God are identified

[iii] Psalm 51:5, 58:3

[iv] Romans 5

[v] Romans 1:18-32, 3:10-18, Romans 8:5-8

[vi] Ephesians 2:1

[vii] Romans 1:18-32, 3:18, James 4:4, Romans 8:5-8

[viii] Romans 5:10, James 4:4, Romans 8:5-8

[ix] Romans 1:16-3:20, John 3:36

[x] Romans 1:18-32

[xi] Matthew 5:21-22

[xii] Matthew 5:27-28

[xiii] Jer. 17:9

[xiv] Romans 6

[xv] Romans 8:5-8

[xvi] Meaning that with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ the coming kingdom which the Jews were expecting has come in part, and we see the fruits of this in the New Covenant relationship we have with God, but its fullness is still coming with Christ’s return. We are caught in a tension as we still are in this world and still struggle with our sinful desires, we still face temptation and succumb to it, but at the same time we are not citizens of this world but of God’s kingdom and have His spirit dwelling in us working through us and sanctifying  us.

[xvii] John 3:16, Romans 5:10, Romans 5:6, 1 Corinthians 15:3, 1 Pet. 3:18, etc.

[xviii] Romans  5:1, 1 John 4:9, 1 John 4:10, 1 John 4:14, Gal. 4:5-6, Col. 1:22, 2 Cor. 5:18

[xix] Ephesians 5:2, 5:25-27; Rev. 19:7.

[xx] John 6:37-45, cf. Isaiah 54:13, Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-28, 11:17-20; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, 1 John 4:7.

[xxi] Romans 8:29

[xxii] 1 Corinthians 1:22-31

[xxiii] Romans 8:29, Eph. 1:3-6

[xxiv] Romans 8:28-30

[xxv] Romans 8:29-30

[xxvi] John 17:3

[xxvii] 1 Corinthians 15

[xxviii] Romans 8:1

[xxix] Ephesians 1:5

[xxx] Romans 8:17, Titus 3:7, 1 Peter 3:7

[xxxi] Romans 3:20-31, Romans 4:4-5, Romans 5:1

[xxxii] Hebrews 7-8, esp. 8:11, Hebrews 4:14-16

[xxxiii] 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

[xxxiv] Romans 4:4-5, Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 2:21

[xxxv] 1 Thessalonians 3:1-7, Philippians 2:12-13, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Hebrews 12:14, 1 Peter 1:2, Romans 6:19-23.

[xxxvi] Romans 8:28-39, 1 Peter 1:1-7, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 6:1-20, John 6:37-44, John 10:25-30, Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30.

[xxxvii] Romans 9:14-16

[xxxviii] Romans 9:18, Romans 9:22, Matthew 5:45, Matthew 6:25-34

[xxxix] 1 Corinthians 1:22-31, Romans 5:6-8, Romans 9:6-23, Eph. 1:1-23.

[xl] Romans 8: 31-39

[xli] Ibid.

[xlii] 1 Peter 1:1-7

[xliii] Philippians 2:12-13

[xliv] Romans 5:3-5, Hebrews 12:1-2

[xlv] Hebrews 4:11, Eph. 1:13-14, Romans 8:28-30, Philippians 1:6

Do I Hate Religion?

James 1:26-27 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV)

Do I hate Religion but love Jesus? No, I hate false religion and love Jesus.

 

Religion is not the enemy, Christianity is a religion. The enemy is false religion,  that which takes faith and holiness and relationship with the Triune God and replaces it with hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and legalism. True religion, pure and undefiled, is living according to the Word; doing the Word. True religion is trusting God (Heb. 13 & Matt. 5, et al.), true religion is taking care of the orphans and widows (James 1:27), true religion is pursuing righteousness as an outworking of faith (James 1:27,  2:14-26, Rom. 6, Matt. 5-6), true religion is loving God with all our being (Deut. 6:4-5, Mar 12:29-31). If we hate religion we sound foolish; for we are in a religion–the only true religion, but a religion at that–and the Word talks about religion; instead of hating “religion” we need to model true religion and live like the Word calls us to live.

 

LORD, I need Your grace to change and become who You are changing me to be. Show me how to model true, pure and undefiled, religion. LORDm make me a light in the darkness of this world that will reflect Your glory and show the world the difference between true religion and human religion. Praise be unto Your holy and righteous name oh glorious king.
Amen

 

re•li•gion \ri-ˈli-jən\ noun
[Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at RELY] 13th century
    1      a : the state of a religious 〈a nun in her 20th year of religion〉
      b      (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural
      (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
  2      : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
  3      archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
  4      : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith — re•li•gion•less adjective[1]

 

[1] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.

What Hath We to Fear?

What hath I to fear with God as my LORD and Father? Death? Christ has destroyed it and redeemed me from its sentence. Life? God has promised provision and works all things for the good of me becoming more like Jesus. Pain? Throughout I am made strong by the Power of the Spirit and God receives the Glory(Jam. 1, 1 Pet 1, et al.). Poverty? God promises to provide for my needs(Matt 6, Heb. 13). The powers of Darkness? My God is victorious, and victory is His(Rev.). Hell? God’s omnipotent power working through my faith given to me by the Spirit’s effective work ensures that I will persevere through thick and sin so that He receives all the glory(rom. 8, 1 pet. 1).

Life is tough, it can really suck, but as an adopted son (rom. 8) of the sovereign king of the universe what is there to fear, what worries remain?

Eph. 5:25, 28

Eph. 5:25, 28 “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,… 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Us Complementarians tend to focus on the command for wives to submit to their husbands leadership in Eph. 5; this is probably because this is the most controversial aspect of our position. Unfortunately we often fail to place proper emphasis or give attention to the 9 verses that talk about a husbands duty in marriage. It is a steep call, but one we were made for. In verse 25 husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. This is an intense call; this means that we are called to a self-sacrificial role. We are to love and cherish our wives (v. 29), as we would take care of our own needs we are to take care of our wife’s. This goes beyond physical needs, which we are to take care of, but also emotional and, as the spiritual leader of the household, spiritual to some extent. We are called to put her needs before our own.

Next time we read that the wife is to submit to her husbands leadership and give him respect (v. 22, 24, 33), let us ponder the type of men we are to be that will make that easy. We are to be servant leaders, leading by serving.

In Ephesians 5 there are 3 verses on a wife’s role in a marriage, but there are 9 on a man’s role. With all the attention given to the controversial 3 verses we cannot neglect the 9 verses that talk about the type of leader the a husband is supposed to be.

Romans 12:21

Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In fighting the evil and corruption in this world we must not respond in like ways. We are to be the light, fight darkness with light, not fire with fire.

When the world hates us, we respond with love.
If the world curses us, we bless them.
If they sue us, we give to them freely.
If they rob us, we give them what they need.
We are to be the light in a suffocating darkness.

As a community we are the city on the hill, if we shine bright we will not be hidden!!