Pi / Pie Day

Today is National Pi / Pie Day.  And while the men in my family really wish I was a good pie baker, the best I can offer them is a Pizza Pie.  Not sure why, but traditional pies just aren’t my thing.  So I thought I’d share a twist on Pizza Pie with you.

A few weeks ago we went to Texas for work and to visit family.  While there, one of the nieces made us a grilled pizza.  Seriously?  It was to die for.  Well, maybe not literally DIE for, but really, REALLY good.  We came home and had to give it a try.  We ended up making two and had very few pieces left over.  The crust was just our normal pizza crust.  You heat the grill up until you can only hold your hand over the grate for a couple of seconds.  You brush the grate with olive oil then place your shaped dough on the grill.  Close the grill and let it bake for 2 minutes.  Check it after 2 minutes and see if it’s golden colored with grill marks.  If so, remove from heat and flip over, so that you are putting your toppings on the grilled side.

I made this pizza sauce for one of our pizzas.  It came from littlespicejar.com and I found it on Pinterest.

A homemade pizza sauce recipe that’s sure to make your homemade pizzas taste so much better! This sauce is quick and easy to make, it freezes well, and has no mystery ingredients! Don’t you love knowing exactly what goes in your food?
Ingredients
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed or finely diced tomatoes (the best quality you can find)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated onions (or finely diced for chunkier texture)
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on heat preference)
  • 3 cloves garlic (grated or minced)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. If your tomatoes are packed whole, pour them into a large bowl and using your hands break down the tomatoes so that they’re chunky but not completely liquidy. This can also be done with an immersion stick blender by just pulsing it a few times. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, grated onions, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Allow the oil to cook the ingredients for 3-4 minutes, stirring as necessary. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes from step #1, along with the sugar and salt. Turn the heat down to low-medium and allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings to preference. If you’d like a more concentrated tomato flavor, you can continue to simmer the sauce for an addition 15 minutes.
  4. Use the sauce for pizzas immediately or allow to come to room temperature before storing in containers. Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.

For the pizza that we put this on we added smoked sausage pieces, onions, peppers and mushrooms that had been sauted ahead of time.  We then topped with a little mozzarella cheese.  For the other pizza we used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce then put on some cooked chicken breasts and red onions along with some mozzarella cheese.  Be sure to not make your pizza too topping heavy as it will cause the crust to become soggy.  Put back on the grill and cook another 4 to 5 minutes until the bottom of the crust is golden with grill marks.  Eat immediately!  Enjoy!grilled pizza

Lent – Day 14 – Spectatorship

palm sundayToday we join in as Jesus travels from Bethany to Jerusalem just two short miles away.  Jesus has a crowd following Him that had gathered the night before to see both Jesus and Lazarus.  Entering Jerusalem with a crowd of followers and disciples, Jesus was further surrounded by a crowd already gathered in the city for the festival of the Passover.  The scene that follows is one that Christians have heard often – maybe too often.  You see, we become complacent when the story becomes too familiar, too stale.  So today, allow your childhood imagination to take you to the scene.  Enjoy it in living color, in surround sound, in 3-D, in odor vision (although beware, animals and crowds of people are both smelly).  John 12:12-19

12-15 The next day the huge crowd that had arrived for the Feast heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem. They broke off palm branches and went out to meet him. And they cheered:  Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!  Yes! The King of Israel!

Jesus got a young donkey and rode it, just as the Scripture has it:
     No fear, Daughter Zion:
    See how your king comes,
    riding a donkey’s colt.

16 The disciples didn’t notice the fulfillment of many Scriptures at the time, but after Jesus was glorified, they remembered that what was written about him matched what was done to him.  17-19 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, was there giving eyewitness accounts. It was because they had spread the word of this latest God-sign that the crowd swelled to a welcoming parade. The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: “It’s out of control. The world’s in a stampede after him.”

For a brief moment, the crowds of Jerusalem honored their King.  Covering the road in a royal carpet of palm branches and cloaks (coats), the multitudes shouted messianic praises to their one and only King of kings.  And, you know what?  Jesus didn’t stop them.  In fact, when the anxious religious leaders told Jesus to rebuke His fans, he replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:39-40)

In just a few days, the crowds would change their shouts of “Hosanna!” to ones of “Crucify Him!”  Yet, even though Jesus knew this shift would come, He still showed up for the parade in His honor.  Jesus did not let the rejection of tomorrow cause Him to reject the love of today.

That brings us to today’s fast – we are to fast from spectatorship.  The whole celebration on what we now call Palm Sunday was too out of control, too wild.  The religious leaders refused to join in and sacrificed joy to something they deemed greater – be that propriety, suspicion or even jealously.  I wonder what my reaction would have been.  Would I have joined in the praise session or would I have faded into the background as a spectator instead of a participant?  I’m not one to jump right in to a situation without careful consideration.  Today, we’re to fast from spiritual spectatorship.  Enter into worship.  When considerations start turning into hesitations about something Jesus is clearly at the center of, throw hyper-caution to the wind and celebrate Jesus with abandon.

As an end note…..after I had this all typed out I went to look for an image to include.  What I discovered is all the images aimed at adults seemed to portray a neat and orderly celebration – like the religious leaders wanted.  Only in the children’s illustrations do we find a tiny bit of the joyous chaos.  So enjoy a little childlike, chaotic faith today.

Lent – Day 12 and 13 – Six Degrees and Lavishly Loving

You may recall the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar healed by Jesus.  In celebration, he followed Christ into Jericho, joyously telling all near him of his healing.  And he was there when Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the tree.  Can you imagine, healing a physically blind man then dining at the home of a spiritually blind man all within a day?  Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus were from the same town.  Zacchaeus may have disgustedly passed by Bartimaeus on a regular basis.  He may have collected such high taxes from the man that the only way he could survive was to beg.  And yet they all 3 sit down together at Zacchaeus’s home to eat.  Is it possible that the beggar helped to make spiritually rich the man who made him financially destitute?  Here’s the thing, while following Jesus is most often an individual act of faith, that act almost always affects those around you.  We are interrelated.

In 1929 a Hungarian writer named Frigyes Karinthy wrote a short story called “Chain-Links”  in which he suggested the theory of Six Degrees of Separation.  This theory is a key concept in city planning and social networking.  Spiritually, the theory highlights the truth that each life needs and, in turn, affects all other lives.  Therefore, we are called to fast isolation.  Spend time interacting with others.  Call that family member.  Visit a friend or neighbor.  Link and be linked, need and be needed, see and be seen.  Refuse to discount your influence, especially in small act and intentionally nurture your God-given web of relationships.

Read John 14:15-22.

Day 13 takes us from Zacchaeus’s joyful Jericho party to yet another dinner held in the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.  Arriving just 6 days prior to the Passover, Jesus sat down at a dinner held in His honor and “Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (John 12:3)

Each of the Gospels present an account of Jesus being anointed.  I had always assumed they were the same story told from different perspectives.  I now believe I was wrong.  The anointing in Matthew and Mark were likely the same event.  It took place two days before the Passover in Simon the Leper’s house in Bethany.  The one in Luke took place before John the Baptist was beheaded.  And finally the one in John took place 6 days before the Passover in Lazarus’s home.  Which means that as Jesus was traveling cross-ward, Jesus was quite aromatic.  Nard was a very strong smell and he was essentially covered head to toe in it.  It was often used in preparing bodies for burial.  When Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss in the garden, he would have been reminded by the fragrance that Father God prepares all things well.

Jesus spent much of His last days at tables, resting in the company of new and old friends.  If you only had 6 days to live, how and with whom, would you live them?

Today, we’re called to fast from stinginess.  Nard was a very expensive essential oil made from the roots of a plant that only grows in the Himalayas of Nepal, China and India.  In the account of Jesus’ anointing in Mark, the question was posed, “Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.”  Why this waste?  Because love does not calculate.  What an honor to be remembered as one who loved lavishly.  Today, fast stinginess:  seek an opportunity to be irrationally lavish toward someone who cannot possibly return the favor.  Give because you love.  Give without letting reason ration out your love in stingy portions.

Read John 13:23-31

 

Lent – Day 11 – Profiling

Profiling – now there’s a word we hear on a regular basis in our culture.  Our media in America seems to believe profiling is a rather new idea but our reading today shows us that the disciples were involved in religious profiling.  We look at the time when Jesus and the disciples were traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem.  We all know what happens when He gets to Jerusalem, so that makes this trip special.  Jesus knew it was a trip that would end in His crucifixion.  So, knowing these were His final days and weeks, what does Jesus do?

Let’s look at a series of events recorded in Luke during this time.

  1. Jesus tells the Parable of the Persistent Widow, who cried out for justice until she received it.  (Luke 18:1-8)
  2. Jesus tells the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, in which the Tax Collector is described as justified before God. (Luke 18:9-14)
  3. People bring children to Jesus and the disciples rebuke and try to stop them. (Luke 18:15-17)
  4. A rich ruler asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life and the disciples do not interfere.  (Luke 18:18-30)
  5. Jesus once again predicts his death.  (Luke 18:31-34)
  6. A blind beggar cries out for Jesus to help him and the disciples rebuke him, telling him to be quiet.  (Luke 18:35-43)
  7. A tax collector climbs a tree to see Jesus and the disciples are silent (Luke 19:1-9)

Jesus taught on the power of persistent supplication and then Luke provided 4 pop quizzes.  How did the disciples do?  Let’s see, they rebuked the children, allowed the rich ruler to question Jesus, rebuked the blind beggar and allowed the tax collector to call out to Jesus while remaining silent.  They profiled.  They were wanting Jesus to be surrounded with the rich and powerful.  Maybe they were doing it because they thought that was the best way to draw more people to Jesus.  Maybe they had forgotten their roots.  They were a part of Jesus’ inner circle now, not the fishermen and laborers he recruited just years before.

Are we more like Jesus or more like the disciples?  Who do we spiritually underestimate?  Have you forgotten your beginnings before Christ?  Do you value the input of young and old alike?  Do you believe the individual who’s just scraping by in this world and the wildly successful can be on the same spiritual level?  Do you wish to hand pick those who serve with you instead of allowing Christ to move in their lives and bring them along side you?  Today we are to fast from religious profiling.  I thought that was all I had until I went to Biblegateway.com to copy today’s reading.  Instead God had this nugget of wisdom sitting there for me:

God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. But he also pays back those who hate him, pays them the wages of death; he isn’t slow to pay them off—those who hate him, he pays right on time.

Deuteronomy 7:9 MSG

 

Today’s reading is John 14:1-14

The Road

14 1-4 “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”

Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”

6-7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”

Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”

9-10 “You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, ‘Where is the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.

11-14 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

 

 

 

Lent – Day 10 = Jockeying for Position

Oh, sons of Zebedee.  Matthew suggested your momma was behind this move for power but Mark  was certain you were strong enough men to make your own case.  The other disciples we frustrated with you two – whether it was because they wished they had thought of it first or because they couldn’t believe you still hadn’t really understood the whole teaching on “the first shall be last” concept Jesus had been teaching.  No matter, you put yourselves in a position that wasn’t the one you sought.

The sons of Zebedee, James and John, had just heard another reminder from Jesus of His coming death.  They felt their world spinning out of control and chose to make a grab at some sort of control.  How do you react to uncertainty?  The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our soul’s defaults.  In response to a yet-unnamed but imminent storm, some hide, some run, some live in denial, some escape into fictional worlds, some feast and some, like James & John, stake out their territory.  Our defaults by and large are self-serving.

To change our defaults, we must address our theology of uncertainty.  And to address our theology of uncertainty, we must befriend mystery.  Do you remember how exciting mysteries were when we were kids?  As adults, we often just see mysteries as yet another thing to solve and don’t wonder in amazement at them.

Today we are challenged to fast from avoidance.  Look carefully at your life and examine times when you’ve used avoidance as a coping mechanism.

Our reading today was John 13:31-36.

31-32 When he had left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God’s glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!

33 “Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.’

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

36 Simon Peter asked, “Master, just where are you going?”

Jesus answered, “You can’t now follow me where I’m going. You will follow later.”

Lent – Day 9

Jesus often taught in parables – a simple story with a much greater meaning.  Unfortunately, those around Him, including the disciples, didn’t always understand the meaning of His words.  And there are times we don’t understand.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why did that baby have to die?  Why did that family fall apart after they lost their mother?  Why do wildfires destroy not only land but lives?  Why?  What does God really mean when He says the first must be last and the last will be made first?  I’m often guilty of reading Scripture only to act indignant over the fact someone who had gotten to walk and talk with Christ in person couldn’t understand what He was talking about.  I mean, there’s no language barrier, no lack of personal communication, no lack of actions matching words.  But all the same could be applied when I’m seeking answers to my whys.  The real reason we don’t understand everything is………..WE ARE NOT GOD.  There are things we don’t need to know.

Today we’re reading from John 13:18-30.

18-20 “I’m not including all of you in this. I know precisely whom I’ve selected, so as not to interfere with the fulfillment of this Scripture:

The one who ate bread at my table
Turned on his heel against me.

“I’m telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am. Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me.”

21 After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. “One of you is going to betray me.”

22-25 The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, “Master, who?”

26-27 Jesus said, “The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I’ve dipped it.” Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.

“What you must do,” said Jesus, “do. Do it and get it over with.”

28-29 No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.

30 Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.

And there you have it.  Jesus had answered the question of who would betray Him.  And the disciples reasoned what the betrayal might be – incorrectly but reasonably.  God doesn’t always act in a way we consider reasonable.  That’s something to be thankful for.  He doesn’t feel the need to fit in the box that we have for Him.  The disciples were thinking with a reasonable faith.  We often do the same.  Today we are challenged to fast from rationalism.  As soon as I read that an image of Sheldon Cooper, lead character on “The Big Bang Theory”, popped into my mind.  He would say without rationalism there is not meaning to anything.  But King Solomon taught something entirely different in Proverbs 3:5-6.  It’s a verse I first memorized while teaching children at Pleasant Grove Church in Hatton, MO.  “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”  So today, let’s all attempt to submit to God and not our own understanding.

Lent – Day 8

Wow, we’re already 1/5th of the way through lent.  Today we read John 13:8-17.

Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”

10-12 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

So, was Peter being a spokesman for all 12 disciples here?  And think about it a minute.  Jesus has been performing miracle upon miracle and now He’s talking about crosses and being crucified.  You can strip a gear changing subjects that fast!  We’re about two years into the disciples following Jesus and doing life with him everyday.  Let’s look as just a few of the miracles they had witnessed:  a dead girl brought back to life, a demon-possessed man returning to peaceful sanity, storms calmed, bodies healed, bread multiplied and most recently, water walking by Jesus.

All these miracles had not prepared them to welcome the crucifixion.  The problem isn’t with the miracles but rather with our perception of the miracles.  We think that if we get one miracle, should continue getting miracles – a kind of divine monthly deposit.  Once raised, shouldn’t Lazarus live forever?  Miracles are less a promise for tomorrow and more of a showing of God’s love and power for today.  Today, God provides bread.  Today, God calms storms.  Tomorrow’s needs and storms cannot void the reality of today’s miracles any more than today’s miracles can void the potential of tomorrow’s needs and storms.  I’ve seen miracles and be bewildered by them.  The miracle of a child born perfectly healthy, only to die of SIDS weeks later.  The miracle of a “God-only” pregnancy, only to end in miscarriage.  The church in general panics when miracles miscarry.  We scurry about in an attempt to prop up God’s sagging reputation.  “There must have been a problem,” we offer.  “God must have something better around the corner.”  Must He?  Herein lies our lent challenge for the day:  let the mourning mourn.  Allow those who grieve the dignity to ask questions.  Grant those bewildered permission to NOT edit their honesty.

Take a moment to recall miracles that ended in heartbreak in your life or in the lives of those close to you.  When have you felt the need to “prop up God’s sagging reputation”?    The challenge today is to fast from fixing things.  Let the broken be broken for a day – be that a tool or a heart.