Book Review: Ligon Duncan’s – Fear Not!

Ligon Duncan’s Fear Not! was one of the book giveaways at last year’s Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY. I got around to reading this after my curiosity finally got the best of me. For whatever reason, I had it in my mind that this was going to be (at least in part) a book on grief counseling or maybe one of those “don’t be sad, he’s with the Lord” kinds of pamphlets. I guess I got that idea from the cover because it’s a bit on the sentimental side.

Anyway, that was my bad because that’s not what this book is. Amazingly, it’s about what it says it’s about: death and the afterlife from a Christian perspective.

First, this is a small book (93 pages including the foreword and introduction) so don’t expect a completely fleshed-out study on every aspect of death. This is more a “raw facts” book. It presents bare naked biblical facts, without worrying about opposing views, counter-arguments, historical contexts, etc. It’s a primer kind of book and, on that level, it’s a pretty good read. Dr. Duncan could have gone in-depth because he’s a very intelligent man but he saw a need for a clean, tidy book on this topic, and he filled that hole.

Of course, Dr. Duncan keeps the gospel front and center. So the first couple of chapters is a brief survey of what the Bible says death is — physical and spiritual separation as a result of sin — and what happens when you die. He talks about the paradox of dying, and how it is both an enemy and comfort to those who are in Christ. In this way, Dr. Duncan is sensitive to the issue of dying throughout his book, without compromising the biblical data. That is a tough line to toe, and he does it well. He also mentions in this chapter how we ought now to hide death from children — an approach I agree with — because death is a fact of life.

Chapter 2 (What Happens After Death?) ends like this, in speaking of the unbeliever’s fate:

If you want unfairness, if you want discrimination, I can give you that.  That is called heaven by grace.  Heaven by grace is the most unfair doctrine imaginable.  Sinners deserving condemnation get heaven forever because the One who was without sin became sin for their reconciliation.  That is unfair, but hell is the fairest doctrine in the world.  In hell, you not only get what you want, but you also get what you deserve.  In hell, you are paid your wages.  In hell, you reap what you have sown.  It is the fairest doctrine in the world.  Heaven, that is unfair.  A sinner enjoying Christ for all eternity is unfair.

Give me unfairly!  I will take heaven by grace.
(pp. 39-40)

This is necessary for discussing death and one’s eternal fate. It places God’s sovereignty at a premium and identifies him as right and merciful, regardless of one’s fate.

The rest of the book is essentially about the events and facts surrounding death — Christ’s return, the judgment, Heaven. For the most part, Dr. Duncan leaves it to the reader to kind of “apply” these facts to his own life, to let them permeate his mind. In that regard, this is a “grief counseling” book because it lays the foundation for the hope and glory believers find in death.

This is a nice little book to have on hand in both those moments where death seems to be at the forefront of your life, and if you might be trying to understand death from a Christian perspective.

Homemade Sour Cream

My homemade sour cream was ready this morning. Yum…I had a spoonful straight from the jar. I can’t wait to use it to top…well EVERYTHING. Yogurt is not the only cultured milk product teaming with probiotics. (Although homemade yogurt is great too) Sour cream also has all the good little critters that help support digestion, the immune system, and keep us on track. I love love love sour cream.

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons yogurt or buttermilk

Make sure when picking your cream you read the ingredient list. I grabbed an organic carton only to find out later it also contained Carrageenan. Back to the store I went. Here I am trying to introduce good bacteria into my gut and carrageenan was trying to step in there and irritate the situation.
Yes, this natural, although unnecessary, ingredient wreaks havoc on the digestive system.

“Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. It irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. No thank you.

Carrageenan is used as a thickener and what I didn’t realize is I grabbed an ultra-pasteurized version. I went back and found the same brand without the added carrageenan.

Anyway back to Sour Cream making!!! It is so simple, it is ridiculous. Why did I not do this sooner? Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk in the yogurt until it is blended, pour into a jar, cover with a lid, and leave it on the counter to culture for 18-24 hours until thickened to your liking.

When it’s ready, transfer it to the refrigerator and it should last about 6 weeks. I know, right? Ridiculously simple. You can use buttermilk instead of yogurt if you like, but I always have my homemade yogurt in the house so I used that. Enjoy.

I got this recipe from the RV Cooking section of The Road Tripster blog by Andrew Schmidt. I can’t say enough about what a fabulous site this is. My total favorite at the moment.

My Life Through a Baseball Player’s Eyes

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.” – Stephen Covey

I’ve played on a ton of sports teams over the years, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the following remarks.
“Coach hates me, that’s why I’m not playing.”
“I’m better than Jordan, but the coach likes him better.”
“That ball was three feet outside, umpire is freaking blind.”
“I shouldn’t have washed my underwear yesterday, I was in the middle of a hitting streak.”
The list goes on and on, but the consensus is always the same. When you play baseball, it is never your fault when you strike out or sit on the bench. The problem with this thought process, is you spend your life being reactive instead of proactive.

Being reactive looks something like this. A young guy walks on to play baseball at a four-year university. He is automatically put at a disadvantage against scholarship players. This is true. It is true because scholarship players are highly recruited, and the coaches already know who they are. The young man complains because he is constantly at a disadvantage. Instead of working that much harder to prove his worth, he sticks with blaming the coaches for his lack of playing time. He eventually gives up and quits, ultimately saying it was because he never had a chance.

Then there is being proactive. The same young man walks onto the baseball team. He realizes he is at a disadvantage but chooses to use it to only motivate him further. He knows it is not enough to just be better than the scholarship players, but he has to outshine all of them. He puts it upon himself to make the change. Ultimately, he puts the ball in his court to either win or lose. If he gets to play, it is because he earned it. If he doesn’t, it was because he didn’t work hard enough.

Being proactive in life is saying, “It’s up to me.”
Being reactive says, “It’s his or her fault.”
Proactive people get ahead in every part of life. There is nothing where they don’t excel. In business, the proactive employee doesn’t bring organizational problems to light; but offers up solutions to ongoing problems. How easy is it to say something is broken? Anyone can do that. It is the person who offers up a solution, who gets ahead.

There are so many different avenues where we can be proactive. We can be proactive in relationships. It might look something like a husband who keeps loving a wife long after she has reflected that love. He pursues her constantly, regardless of how she treats him.

Being proactive isn’t always easy. It’s difficult because it goes against our “sitting around watching Netflix all day mentality”. But it leads to a more fulfilling life. A life where we can ultimately say, it was up to us. We accomplished this, or we failed at that, not because of anyone else other than the person in the mirror.

Is there a time when being reactive has caused you pain or regret? Is there a time when being proactive has helped you move along in a relationship or life?

It’s More Than Just “I Love You”

I don’t typically do posts about relationships, but in the 15+ years that I’ve been in one (the same one, I might add) I’ve learned a few things. I’ve seen my friends go through harsh breakups and I’ve also seen a few of them find love and happiness. And since I’m on a “finding happiness” kick currently, I figured I’d start here.

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5 Things We Are Giving Up (temporarily) To Reach Our Goals

That may seem like a bizarre concept, but when we get to the root of our troubles, we may think we are doing everything to fix the situation when in reality we are just stalling the situation. If we don’t set out a plan that has intentional behaviors, we are doomed to fail. Case in point: “I want to lose weight.” Ok, great. That sounds like an awesome goal, but what are you going to DO to lose weight. “Well, I am going to eat better.” Ok, awesome. What the hell does that mean? That is not being intentional. That is letting life live you when you should be the one in control. A more intentional approach would be to say that you are going to invest in a meal planning service like Emeals and grocery shop every Saturday and then do all meal prep on Sunday. You are now in control so that when 3 pm on Wednesday rolls around and you are starved you know that your dinner has already been planned and you won’t cave into eating out that night wasting both money and precious calories. Intentional living isn’t just saying what you want. It is dreaming, planning, and then doing.

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The Kid’s Table

Growing up, my siblings and I had the coolest kid’s table ever. The table itself was nothing fancy, but the memories are unforgettable. There were 4 stools, and the stools and table had a white hard-plastic surface that nothing would stick to. At that table, we ate, we played, we laughed, but most of all we created. My mom was an art teacher, and her creativity was unmatched. Somehow she managed to come up with projects that all three of us at different ages could accomplish. We colored, painted, glued, and constructed masterpieces. Sadly, we all grew up and eventually didn’t fit anymore, but the table lived on. It eventually made its way into my mom’s art studio where it continued fostering the creativity of her littlest students for 10 years. Now, this table, a little worse for wear, is at the center of a very busy basement where my 2 beautiful nieces and newest nephew spend their cold or rainy days…being kids.

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Thanksgiving Traditions

I love Autumn! Crisp weather, crisp leaves, fuzzy sweaters, and red cheeks, LOVE IT! Halloween sort of ushers in the holiday season and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed that most stores tend to jump straight from ghouls and goblins to holly and ‘Ho, Ho, Ho!’. What happened to Thanksgiving? Rather than lament the ways of the world and decry commercialism, I’ve decided to focus on my holiday traditions and go at my own pace.

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Unlucky Lottery Winners – The Lottery That Broke Them All

Right now, the Powerball is sitting over 200+ million dollars just waiting for some lucky sap or saps to take it home and buy all the things their hearts desire. Sure, some folks say they’re going to solve world hunger or clothe the poor, but most people are going to go out and buy all the things. There are more than a handful of folks who won and are now living a life of shame for blowing through their earnings. This does not surprise me as people who come into this kind of money typically have no idea how to manage it. This amount of money seems so large that someone can’t imagine even being able to spend that kind of money in one lifetime, but it can be and has been done. Check out these crazies who once were the luckiest folks on the block only to be broke as shit now.

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Sweet and Spicy Coleslaw

One of the blogs I follow is Kelly’s Korner. She’s such a sweet Southern momma of 3 precious kids. Once upon a time ago, she has started a Friday series called “Show Us Your Life”, where people can share recipes, get decorating tips, and even play matchmaker! I find that I am constantly trying to figure out what to serve with our main dishes and I’ve come across a recipe recently that has become one of my summer favorites! It’s a Spicy Coleslaw – now I’m not typically a coleslaw person AT ALL, but this recipe has turned me into a huge fan. It has a lime vinaigrette base instead of a typical mayonnaise base. It’s perfect for those summer barbeques or even an accompaniment to a sandwich/burger/brat/hot dog. Give it a try!

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