Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Eve 2009

This really should have been a few days ago, but sadly I am not always as organized as I should be.

First some recipes:

Sauer Kraut Casserole.

1 large can of Sauer Kraut
2 packages of sausage
5 tablespoons of mustard powder.
2 tablespoons of caraway seed.

Slice the sausage thin. Mix everything together and bake or microwave until hot. If baking, I suggest 350 for about thirty minutes. Cover with foil before hand to avoid browning.

Sauer Kraut is popular in Germany and in parts of the US where German immigrants settled for New Years Eve.

Black eyed peas

2 cups peas (soak overnight before cooking)
1 hambone
2 jalapeños
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash Worcestershire sauce.
Chopped onion and cilantro (optional)

After soaking, cook for about an hour and a half. Add water as needed. Add cilantro in last 10 minutes. Add onion in last 30 to 5 minutes depending on how well you wish them to be cooked.

Both these recipes are considered good luck for New Years. Blacks in Central America also consider it good luck to be in church on New Year’s eve. Of course we as Christians know that we don’t have good luck from any of these, but that God will bless us as we obey him (and withhold the blessing if we don’t. For that reason it is important to line our lives up with his will.

Some people make resolutions for New Year, and some of those are good, but most are forgotten before January is done. Personally, I think the best thing to do on New Years is to see where you came from, where you are now, and plan for the future. As Christians, we know the future is not ours to see, but we should still plan for it. We should have certain goals, and should be aiming at those goals. Some of these goal we will look at again as we come into pre Lent, but for the secular year, we should be checking carefully in these times on our management of time and money. In both of these the first things we need to look at is God’s portion. You show me how you spend your time, I will tell you if you are really a Christian. Sunday definitely should be set aside for God and for family. Hopefully you are a member of a church which still has morning and evening Sunday services. Go to both. Ditto for Wednesday services or Bible Studies if available. Time for family prayer, spousal prayer and private prayer time are also important as well as studying God’s word. Look at where you are on these, and seek improvement. The time is there if you put God first. (I might not in passing, that I came up from Honduras to vacation one year. Of course there were no funds for this, so I worked at a car wash. I told the guy I would not work on Sunday, and he respected that. For some strange reason, even though I was the only one not working on Sunday, I always managed 40 hours or more per week, something that the other guys rarely managed. God respected my commitment to him.)

Aside from church, and Bible study, Sunday is a good time for family time. Pic Niks, hiking, bike riding, monopoly, whatever are good family activities. We always have leftovers Sunday lunch so no one has to cook, and after sunset we fix something simple (our family keeps Sunday Sabbath from sunset to sunset as Jesus did.) We don’t buy anything, or go to movies or knowingly do anything that would require anyone to have to work to serve us, so as to keep the Sabbath. Many young people today have no opportunity to go to church on Sunday anymore because they end up working on Sunday.

God must come first though. We have a habit of allowing other things, which may be good in an of themselves to be gods in our lives. Some time should be set aside for exercise, but it should not consume us. How much time do you spend playing tennis, or soccer, or golf. These are all good things, unless we allow them to be gods in our lives. I have seen the same thing with volunteer fire fighters. That becomes their god. So always be careful how you spend you time.

Money of course is the other big one. The Bible tells us the tithe is the minimum standard. I have found that when I am tithing, things have a way of working out, despite the amount of money I have. We also need to plan our use of money. Car and other major repairs. Money saved up for house repairs, money saved up for if a job is lost. We need to always be prepared, especially in these precarious times. Do we really need a four bedroom house? Or a brand new car? Spouses should sit down and think about these things.

Also of course teach your kids about wise use of time and money. Either a regular allowance or report card money or both. I know of one guy who gave his kids (starting in jr. high) money to buy their own clothes for a year. He didn’t help them, and they learned to make the dollar stretch. One of his sons was stunned when he realized that his prom tux had to come out of that money too, and found a perfectly good tux at Goodwill. It is not enough to tell the kids, we have to show them as well.

We might think about a vegetable garden too. If you are in the south or southwest, you might even want to start know. Cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, swiss chard and beats all grow well in cool weather. Cabbage and everything mentioned before it, but especially broccoli takes a light freeze well. Cilantro and parsley grow well in cool weather, as do some spices. We have thyme, parsley, and oregano that all took a hard freeze and still growing well. If you live further north, think about what you can plant and when.

By the way, for tonight, egg nog, smoothies, banana milk shakes are all good. Pray for a good year to come, and especially pray for the church, and for the leadership of the country and your state. After we ahve finished praying and making noise, we watch movies.

May God bless you this year to come.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

30 December 2009

As Christians, we are about raising up our children to be good Christians as well. Part of this process is in developing communication skills, and socialising. It seems and others are in agreement with me that mealtimes should be the main time for socialising, for finding out what is going on with your kids and to plan activities.

Of course with all out busyness and schedules and what not this can be very difficult, but if possible it is good to try and have two meals a day with family. Impossible you cry. When we were in Danli, Honduras, we had 5 kids in three diferent schools, with three different schedules, yet managed to have breakfast and dinner together every day. It is just wanting to do it enough, and being willing to sacrifice other things. The trick is to mark out those mealtimes as necessary and work around them, instead of putting everything else as necessary. So if God is first then everything should be arranged around prayer times and meal times. You can do it, if you really want to.

Don't forget to set boundaries. Everyone is to be on time. If you just cannot stand to let call notes or the answering machine answer your phone, unplug it. Remember it is family time, not work time, not friend time but family. In the same mode, cell phones should be off, no texting, no telephoning, no telelvison, no radio. It shows tremendous ego that we have to be connected at all times. In other words, we don't. If it is really important, they will call back or leave a message. One of the saddest things I ever saw was a car load of people all on cell phones, all talking away, but with nothing to say to each other. Cell phones are useful. I even text occasionally, and use it mostly for emergency, but there is something insidiously wrong about not being able to be disconnected from the cell phone or phone. We need ot sit down and be family together and friends together.

In a family that I have been working with, the mother complained that her family never talks to her at meals, yet she always managed to be talking with someone else on the phone during meals. In other words, set the example. If you want your kids to talk to you at dinner, you need to talk to them. If we start off making meal and prayer times sacred even before kids come along and keep it up, the kids will keep it up as well, as long as both parents buy into it. The moment either family decides not to go along, it will rapidly fall apart. We adults have to be disciplined to be leaders in our families.

One other thing, it is good to have silence in our lives. Between radios, stereos, televisions, telephones, many of our kids (and some adults) no longer have silnce in their lives. The TV or radio goes on first thing and stays on all day. The teenagers have their cell phone surgically attached to the ear or text all the time. Remember, God revealed himself to Moses and Elija in the silence. We all need some quiet time each day (and not just during our regular prayer time.)

Have a great day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

29 December 2009

Blessed Childermas to all. To find out more about Childermas go to:

The thought for today is in saving money. Many of us have dripping faucets or toilet valves that run all the time. These can cost us a lot of money. So, should you call the plumber? No definitely not. Most people can take care of most of the plumbing needs in their house. You will need to buy about $30.00 worth of tools, (tub and basin sockets, seat wrench, small stilsen wrench and maybe a crescent wrench) but you will have them forever as long as you put them up. Instructions on how to change the washers can be found on the internet, just type in your question, “How do I change the shower washers?” or kitchen sink washers or whatever. Once you have the tools in hand, the parts are cheap. It cost me about $3.00 in parts to change the washers on one shower today, much cheaper than calling the plumber. Toilet flapper valves are usually easy to change as well. Sometimes a new float is needed. Don’t be afraid to try it, and look for stuff that saves water.

While thinking of this, do you have fluorescent bulbs in the house, or the new energy saver bulbs. Please don’t throw them in the garbage. They have mercury in them and will contaminate the water supply. Take them, and any mercury batteries (and NiCad batteries for that matter) to the recycling center so as not to contaminate the water supply. Something else new out. Wallmart and several other stores now have trash bags made of starch. Right now they are twice as much, but if people buy them the price will go down. Use them especially for leaves, and the bags will biodegrade, allowing whatever is in them to biodegrade as well. This will help keep the landfills from filling up so much and will cut down some on our use of petroleum. We do need to save money and protect the environment.

One more quick way to save money in the bathroom. The hardware store has small screen drain plug filters, they come in a size good for the tub or wash basin and also for the sink. Put one in each tub, and you will never have your plumbing stopped up by hair. Also if you wash your hair in the kitchen sink you can put one there, and it will keep the hair out. They also make rubber ones which are good for shower applications.

Got a septic tank. Copper sulfide crystals will help keep roots out. RidX will keep your tank clean. Butter milk once a week will do the same trick (I am talking the old systems, not the new anaerobic ones.

An ounce of prevention in worth a pound of cure.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

28 Deceber 2009

Well I thought I had something for today, but I either didn't or saved to some unknown point in cyberspace.

For those of us who are working, and who are not teachers, tomorrow is stepping back to the normal workweek, except of course for students. It is still Christmas though and remains Christmas until the 5th of January. Today is the 4th day of Christmas, and if you like, to remind yourself, you could sing the 12 days of Christmas today up to the the fourth day. That is something we do most years until we get to the 12th day. In addition, we keep the Advent wreath on the table and will continue praying and lighting all five candles. For the 12 days of Christmas, we sing "the Light of Christ has come into the World" January 5, we will sing, "Shine Jesus Shine," a great song to bring in Epiphany, and that will be the last night of the Advent, now a Christmas Wreath.

Drive your neighbours crazy, keep your Christmas lights on and your tree up until January 6th. Remember we start Christmas December 25th and celebrate 12 days. Keep telling everone "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Christmas" outside the US.

Kids driving you crazy? Put them to work, leaves to rake, snow to shovel (well not here in La Porte), there is no reason the kids cannot help, and when done, put them to work making Christmas cookies. Go caroling tonight. There is always something to do. Nothing wrong with having Christmas parties for the kids either. Help them be in the mood that we are still celebrating the dear Saviour's birth.

Another recipe for left over turkey:

Turkey omelet:

Chop the turkey into fairly small pieces.

Scramble eggs, and pour into skillet on high. Allow to cook without stirring and flip over. Spread the turkey over half the omelet, and then spread guacamole. Fold over, heat a little longer, flip over and serve.

If you don't know how to make guacamole:

Slice up two avocados.
Mash, and mix in four tablespoons of mayonaise,
Chop fine 1/4 stick of celery.
Chop fine 1 Serrano pepper.
Chop fine 1 tablespoon of Coriander (cilantro)
Chop fine 1 tablespoon of onion.
Mix it all together adding a dash of salt,
Grind about 1 teaspoon of black pepper and mix in.
(if you have left over guacamole, leave the seed in the guacamole to keep it from turning black. Most people add some lemon juice, which is not for flavour, but to keep it from turning black as well. If you make it immediately before eating, there is no need for lemon juice, and in my opinion, it is better without it.

For more American style leave our Serrano and cilantro. For Honduran style, chop in some hard boiled eggs.

Friday, December 25, 2009

26 December 2009

Today is the feast of St. Stephan and the second day of Christmas. What to do today? Lots of wonderful recipes on the internet for left over turkey, look around and try one out. Of my favourites is Turkey Pot pie, turkey Tetrazzini, Turkey in cheese sauce, white chili using turkey instead of chicken, of course turkey soup as well. Since we smoked out turkey, we will be having turkey sandwiches. As I have four hungry carnivores for children at home for Christmas, we don’t have to worry very long. If you do have a bunch left over, freeze it in bags with portions right for the family, or for the guests to take home with them.

Today is a great day to go to the store and buy Christmas supplies if you need them. Main trick, make a list and make a promise not to buy more than one thing that is not on the list. That will help you to save money. The new LED lights really save electricity. The electricity for one bulb of the traditional lights (C7) will light two strings of 60 LED’s, so if funds are available, it might be a good idea to start changing over to keep that electrical bill down. Limit your time at the store. If you need to take something back, it is probably better to wait to January, especially if it is a Wall Mart item.

Some of us sadly have to work. Just make the best of it, and remember, eleven more days to celebrate the birth of Christ. Twelve days of Christmas is not just a song. The liturgical churches celebrate the Nativity of Christ and his incarnation from the 25th of December until the 5th of January. The 6th of January we celebrate the Epiphany, a day associated with the visit of the Wise Men to see the toddler Jesus some two years after his birth.

Today is also a good day for evaluation. What worked and didn’t work yesterday. Were we worried more about Christ, or presents, more about food or fellowship. Food is a means to fellowship, but can also be an idol. Too much turkey leftovers, smaller turkey next year. Make a list of things you may have run short of and have it ready to check next December. Did something not get eaten this year. Don’t get it next year. Did someone spend too much time cooking, maybe change what you are eating. My wife spends a lot of time making tamales for Christmas. Maybe she should make them some other time and freeze them, so she is not so worn out, or we should help her more, or both even. If you don’t like traditional Christmas foods, do something different. How about Chinese for Christmas. You decide. Look at how Christmas might be more Christ centered. Maybe remove presents from Christmas all together and have them on St. Nicholas day. You decide what works for you. I am only giving suggestions. In your house, God is the boss, followed by you.

Merry Christmas and blessings to each of you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

24 December: Chritmas Eve

Christmas Eve at last. Some of us will be having our Christmas meal tonight and others on the morrow. Take time to be with friends and family this day. Keep an eye out for older family members, especially those who have lost a spouse, and for younger family members (and friends) who may be alone for the first time ever at Christmas. Christmas without family (and without Christ) can really be depressing, and suicides spike this time of year. Take the time today and tomorrow to talk about Jesus, who came to make us whole, showing us the way and dying on the cross for our salvation.

Have fun doing whatever needs to be done today. Take the time today and tomorrow to call those relatives you haven’t seen for a while. Talk about family, talk about Christ. Be sure to go to church tonight and/or tomorrow depending on your church’s tradition. If you are in La Porte, Texas, or near by, come see us at 204 Sylvan St. at 8:30 tonight. We would love to have you. Remember, Christmas is chiefly about Christ, and him coming into the world to show us the way and to save sinners.

Guys, and kids, help the lady of the house in the kitchen. There is always lots to do and everyone can help.

Christmas donations are always welcome.

Shalom to each of you, and a very blessed Christmas celebration.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

23 December

It is getting closer to Christmas. Give yourself a break today. Whether a full time housewife, a working wife, or husband, take time off from cooking, shopping and whatever else may be happening for Christmas. Hopefully you have everything you need in the house. I am almost there, just need to check firewood and charcoal. Everything else is ready. Still some presents to get because I am waiting cheques to clear the bank. So if you have everything ready, kick back and relax. Give yourself a lunch time date with your spouse. If work precludes this, then lunch or dinner with a friend. (Of coarse if we are fasting for Advent, it might be a meatless lunch). The idea though is just to take a break from the endless activity, Christmas music and what not. Advent should be a time to get ready for the second coming and for Christmas. Spiritual preparation is every bit as important, if not more so than physical preparation. Do not let business rob you of spiritual preparation, and not just at home, but church as well. Men and other last minute shoppers, do it tomorrow, do not wait till the 24th. Believe me, it is not worse it, you will just stress out.

If you are on track, then start looking for the darkest corner of your heart. Whether it is jealousy, selfishness, gossip, or whatever, that is where Jesus wants to be born today. When he came about 2000 years ago, he was born in a stable in a cave. He looks for the darkness, so that he can conquer the darkness with light. Repent as you are able, and allow Jesus to come in. He stands at the door knocking, but awaits our permission to enter.

Some do’s:

Don’t worry

Do sit down with spouse and make sure you are both on the same page.

Meditate on the Sermons of John the Baptist in the Bible and Advent wreath lighting lessons.

Do sing Advent songs.

Don’t get excited about the little things, nor the big things.

Take time to pray.

Give the house a once over. Get those kids to give a hand.

Make sure you already know where your Christmas table cloth, turkey plate, crackers or any other special things you want for Christmas are.

Monday, December 21, 2009

21 December 2009

In Advent, we prepare we prepare for the coming of Christ, both his entrance into the world as a child, and his second coming. If we wish to truly keep these themes then giving presents should not be the prime emphasis of Christmas. Santa Claus can be a problem. As for myself, my children have never been taught that there was a Santa Claus to bring them presents. We have talked about St. Nicholas and who he was and how he morphed into Santa Claus. Personally, I think the countries which celebrate St. Nicholas Day (6 December) have it right. Let St. Nicholas give out presents on the 6th of December, and just keep them away from Christmas (and of course be honest and tell the kids he is a man dressed as St. Nicholas, not the real one). Of course the Spanish have a good habit too. Presents are given on Epiphany (6 January) in remembrance of the gifts given by the wise men.

As to Santa Claus, be real and honest with your children. I have known some children who were horribly disappointed to find out that Santa Claus was not real. I have also seen some kids make the jump, “Well Santa isn’t real, is Jesus real? We need to be careful as to what we are really presenting. As to removing presents from Christmas, this probably won’t work unless you are just starting your family out.

Now to put presents in their proper perspective. Since our church is one of those which has a Christmas Eve service (Jewish days begin at sunset, so to the Jewish way of thinking anything after sunset on the 24th is actually Christmas), for out family we open one present after the church service and save the rest for morning, after our morning family devotions. If you belong to one of those churches which still have services on Christmas day, I would suggest opening the presents when you get home from church. This will help the kids see that Jesus comes first. My mother made us wait an hour between opening presents. During that hour we would eat chocolates and marzipan and either try out the new toy or try on the new clothes, or start reading the book. Do give your kids books for Christmas. Get them excited about reading. Aside from salvation, love of reading is one of the best gifts we can give our children. I also have a friend who does something similar, except that she also makes her kids write a thank you note to the person who gave the present. A wonderful way to teach good manners.

Gifts of course should match your circumstances. Remember, big showy expensive gifts don’t always show love. Often it is the practical gift which does. I remember one year at a gift exchange, I spent a fair amount of time sneaking around to find out just what it was that Carolyn wanted (a piece of cloth with flower pattern so she could make herself a new dress). It was inexpensive to me, but the look of joy on her face was wonderful. Unfortunately our children, like their parents often want the newest most expensive new toy. One needs to ask whether the kids really need that or gadget, whether it really help them, and whether it will still be in use in one year. Games (I am thinking of board games and card here, not computer games) usually get played over the years and help keep the family together. Bible Trivia is one of my favourites, as are Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders (of course parents need to make time to play these with the kids too).

Of course the real focus on Christmas should not be the gifts, nor the meal, nor the family. For close to fifteen hundred years, the main focus of Christmas was the birth of Jesus. The puritans and other groups who first came to the US often did not celebrate Christmas, because it had become frivolous and a time for people to get drunk. As the industrial revolution came upon us, it did indeed become a time of carousing. Hallmark and others have converted it to family time so they can sell more cards. Thanksgiving and Christmas were originally religious holidays following times of fasting. Having a feast was the Biblical way of praise and thanksgiving. Look at the Passover. And whether or not a feast was commanded in the Old Testament, there usually is one for each celebration, including the Sabbath. Family has become associated with these holidays because for many it is the only time people are free. Sadly in today’s society many people are forced to work on Sundays or in the evening, making that family time even more important, yet it is never to be the focus. That must always be Jesus.

By the way, do keep an eye on your family and friends. Christmas is a popular time for suicide, and we can often help prevent it by reaching out. Call your local college, and find out if there are kids who cannot go home, and invite them over. Singles or older or younger people who live near you, but have no family close by may be overjoyed if you invite them over for dinner, or even to snack and have egg nog. Christmas is also a great time to tell people about Jesus.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

21 December 2009

Sadly, Mr. Tiger Woods has seen a lot of Television coverage these days. I am going to write him a letter and ask him to watch Fireproof. For those of you who have not seen it, it is about a fireman and his wife, whose marriage is on the rocks. The man’s father suggests that he fight to keep the marriage together and gives him a book of advice. I’ll stop there so you can find out the rest when you watch it.

As Christians, we must really be committed to marriage. Marriage is an icon, or a picture of the relationship between Christ and his church. The man must love his wife. The wife must respect her husband. We men are somewhat fragile. We really need our wife’s respect. Our own self esteem is partly built on it. If the wife doesn’t respect her husband, the children will not either. If children see Mom respecting hubby (whether he deserves it or not), they will learn how they must respect Christ. Men too, must love their wife’s so the children can learn how Christ loves the church.

In these days there are many obstacles to successful marriage. One is our television programmes and movies either disparage marriage, or give us no examples, or bad examples. Divorced people and people having sex without being married abound on the small and large screen. Some popular music as well disparages sexual purity. Virginity as a normal condition before being married is disparaged. Even worse, 14 year old boys, whether they are fourteen or fifty or seventy tell us, they cannot resist, it is only natural. Christians though are not called to live in the natural. We are called to live in the supernatural (we should also not watch those programees and movies or listen to music which glorifies a non-Christina lifestyle. The Holy Spirit living within us gives us the power to conquer sin and death. Sexual sin in some ways is more serious than other sin, because when we have sex with another person, we are now one flesh with them. St. Paul talks of this clearly asking whether we should unite a prostitute (as in nonrepentant and practicing) to the church, the body of Christ.

The Bible tells us that we will not be tempted beyond what we can endure. Our problem is we often put ourselves in the path of temptation. Lots of married men ogle the good looking ladies. The Bible tells us that if we lust after someone in our heart, it is the same as committing adultery. The problem is that many men lust in their hearts and it becomes action.

So what to do? First stay away from pornography of any kind. Pornography is almost as addicting as heroin. Pornography gratifies us in a way which requires no commitment. It has no relationship to reality. It is a trap, plain and simple. If you have an addiction to pornography, you need to find an anachamra (a soul friend) or an accountability group. You pledge to always be honest to the person or group, and they will ask you periodically whether you are looking at pornography, and the last time you looked. As you are accountable to them, and of course being embarrassed that you have fallen into the trap, they will help you to stay off it. Also, as much pornography is computer driven, put your computer in a public place in the house. Computers should be in the living room, kitchen, or someplace where someone will be walking by. If you are really tempted, you can block off sites you know about. If it is really bad, you might just have to get rid of the computer. It is easy to fall, but God will give you the strength not to if you really want it. Other things that are helpful is to watch what you watch on TV, movies and listen to on the radio. Personally I like a steady diet of Christian radio. It help keeps me focused and on track.

Women, if you feel your husband is doing something he shouldn’t be, whether pornography or physical things, you should check your data first. Sometimes we are suspicious when nothing is happening. If it is true, talk to him one on one. Be honest about your feelings. If he does not admit wrong, then go to him with a witness who knows what is going on. If he still does not repent, then you should go to your pastor (or one of the elders or deacons) of your church and ask for their help. The point is to bring him to repentance, and to restore the marriage, not to make him feel bad for failing.

Both men and women, keep yourselves chaste. Submit your thoughts to Jesus. Whenever you have a tempting thought, just give it to Jesus then and there. Watch how you dress. We men are much more visual than women, and immodest clothing will get the wrong kind of attention from us. If you are married and go out with someone for lunch for business or whatever, make it a group meal, or if you can bring the spouse along. I have known pastors who refuse to ride with a woman if there was not another person, or if their wife was not present. We are to maintain holiness and not allow even the thought or idea of evil to come into our lives.

Also parents, watch what your children wear. Girls who dress like prostitutes will be treated as prostitutes especially around 14 year old group. Make your boys dress modestly as well. They may attract the kind of attention they do not want. Aside from chaste, watch out who you advertise for. Abercrombie and Fitch, and Calvin Klein have some very provocative adverting, so I would not want to promote them. It is also amazing how many girls wear Playboy bunnies. Don’t they know what it stands for. After all we don’t let our kids advertise drugs and alcohol. Should we let them advertise sex?

Keep the romance in your marriage. Everyone should strive to take their wife on a date once a week. Some women won’t want to leave the kids behind. Just remember, you won’t be spending the rest of your lives with them kids, but with your spouse.

It is important to communicate, pray (together and separately) and be on the same track. Study God’s word together, and do things together as well. Remember, adultery in the mind will lead to adultery in fact. Remember, God hates divorce.

By the way, if you like the movie Fireproof, you might like Not Easily Broken as well

Friday, December 18, 2009

19 December 2009

As promised, we will talk about prayer today. To take off on a popular saying, the family that prays together is the family that stays together. Prayer can unite us, but most important it lines us up with God and his will. I recommend prayers on several levels. Depending on whether or not you and your spouse are morning or evening people, I recommend that either after you have gone to bed, or before you get up in the morning, that you pray about your needs and your children. This would be especially about prayers you might not want to pray in front of the children.

At some point, you and your spouse should also pray alone. Remember that Jesus often went off by himself to pray. It is good for each of us to have a time and place to go read the Bible and pray. You may be fortunate as we are to have a room you can use as a chapel. Otherwise you may use the corner or wall of a room. You can put up a cross, icons, candles, incense, etc. Let it be known, that when someone is in the chapel or prayer area, they need to be left alone. Lit candles could be a sign to let others know, or the woman with her head covered, or the men fold wearing a tallit.

It is also important to pray with your children. Part of the reason for this is so your children can learn to pray. We all learn to pray by listening to others. Depending on when you do your prayer, you might want to do Matins (Moring Prayer) and Vespers (evening prayer around Sundown) or Compline (bed time prayers). In our family we do both Matins and Compline as a family, and we have intercessions at both. As head of the house (and Bishop) I remember the needs of the church and the nation, as well as friends, relatives and family. We encourage the children to remember their friends and teachers as well as anything going on in their lives. The Daily Office may be found here: but may not type up well, or may be purchased from A person could also use the Episcopal Prayer Book or the Orthodox as well as several others. For our family use we do not follow the lectionary that accompanies these books. It skips too much. Each morning we read in course a chapter from the Old Testament, and a pericope (a section) from the Gospel also in course. At night we read a section from the Epistles. The first Sunday of Advent each year we swap the Epistles and Gospels. This way the entire New Testament is read through several times a year, and the Old Testament once about every five years. After reading we allow some time for reflection, and maybe a brief explanation or discussion. If Mom and Dad are both ready for this, and haven’t done it before the kids will usually go right along, although teen agers may resist. Of course if they have done it since they can remember it is a different story.

Officially Dad is the spiritual leader, but at his discretion the kids and he and Mom can take turns leading the prayers. It gets the kids more involved. The boys and men in our house wear tallits for prayer. They represent the blood of Jesus which covers us. The women as per the New Testament wear veils. If you decide to do Compline instead of Vespers, always give silence before beginning the confession, and if necessary allow the kids to confess their sins out loud. Compline is also a good time to thank God for the blessings of this day.

As part of our personal devotions, Christian radio often has good stuff. For women, between 9:00 and 10:00 AM there are excellent studies for women at From 8:00 to 9:00 there is good stuff for men or women. My habit when I was working a full time job was to do Terce in the parking lot when I arrived at work, Sext at lunch time, and Nones in the parking lot again just before leaving for work. Most people of course will not just start with the seven fold office. It is something that one usually works up to, but it is something that helps us to grow in faith as we hear God’s word and pray for the church and the world. Remember, the goal is to pray without ceasing.

Now for three easy turkey recipes:

First make sure you thaw out the turkey sufficiently. We want to avoid food poisoning, especially salmonella. A twenty lb. turkey needs about five days in the refrigerator to thaw out. Twelve to fifteen lbs. about four days. If you come down to the wire and the turkey is still frozen put it in the sink and fill it with tap water, not hot. Allow it to thaw out and as quick as is practical get the neck and giblets out, which will allow it to defrost more quickly. Don’t leave it on the counter and don’t use hot water. Also, every time you touch raw turkey (or turkey bacon, ground turkey, turkey sausage or chicken) wash your hands before touching any other food product. We do not want to spread salmonella. Keep a cutting board just for raw meat, and wash it with peroxide after use, this will save much grief.

OK, easiest first.

Rotisserie Turkey

Do you have a gas grill? Take your turkey and put it in a zip lock bag filled with beer and chopped coriander (cilantro), hot peppers, and onion. Allow to soak overnight. Put your turkey on the spit, plug in the rotisserie and turn up the grill. Maintain the temperature at 325. Depending on the size of the turkey it should be ready in one to one and a half hours. Use the meat thermometer. 180º for turkey to be done. Let it sit about 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Cooking in this way has the advantage of not heating up the house (if you are cooking this in the summer, of course in Texas sometimes that is a problem in the winter) and freeing up your oven for other things.

BBQ Turkey

As in the first, marinade your turkey overnight as above. Take a can of beer, open it and stick the open end of the can into the turkey and stand it up. There is a little stand that can be purchased so as to keep the turkey standing up. Light charcoal about thirty minutes before starting the turkey. After putting the turkey in the smoke, add hickory and oak. (you can use pecan instead of hickory or mesquite) If you use just hickory, the turkey might come out bitter. Leave the vents almost closed so that the fire stays low, you are smoking the turkey, not roasting it. I baste periodically with the beer mix. Add wood as needed, not too much at once or it will catch fire instead of smoldering. I soak the wood in water overnight which helps keep the wood from burning too fast.

Under 10 lbs: 25 minutes per lb.

10-16 bs,: 20 minutes per lb.

Greater than 18 lbs: 18 minutes per lb.

If the turkey is not done, go ahead and put it in the oven at 325 and heat till the internal temperature is 180º. Let sit 15 to 20 minutes before carving and serve with BBQ sauce.

Traditional Roast Turkey

Remove all the entrails. Cut a couple of onions and apples into 8 pieces, and insert a clove in each piece. Cut the outer stalks of celery and some parsley. Put apple onion and herbs in both ends of the turkey. Don’t pack tight. You may sew up the neck if desired. Cover the turkey with really fat bacon. Place in oven or roaster and cook according to the table above. I usually put the turkey breast side down. After one and one half hours, begin basting the turkey every 30 minutes using the drippings from the bacon. .When done, allow to sit some 13-20 minutes before carving.

Gravy: Take some of the drippings from the turkey and put in a frying pan. Heat till hot and add several tablespoons of flour and cook till it bubbles. Add milk and cook till thick. Add a bit of salt, and poultry seasoning to taste. Chicken broth can be added as well. If it gets too thick add more milk. Too thin, cook a little longer, and maybe add some more flour.

Dressing: Melt ½ stick of butter. Take a cup of chicken broth and cook onions or celery in it. Allow to cool, put in blender, with melted butter and add a good handful of parsley, a handful of rosemary (strip the leaves off the branch first), four or five leaves of sage, and strip leaves off thyme. Add to blender and grind up fine. Take a nine inch round loaf of corn bread and crumble in, and add butter. If too dry, add drippings from the turkey. Microwave on high about five minutes and fluff. You can also bake it, but if baking add a beaten egg. Cook at 300, and keep an eye on it.

After you have stripped the turkey, you can boil the skeleton with celery, onion, a handful of rice and the turkey drippings for a really nice turkey soup. Boil until all the meat comes off the bones and simmer for an hour or so until it is reduced. Yummy.

As today is Saturday, there will be no message for tomorrow. As part of our Sabbath discipline, the computer is turned off before sunset on Saturday evening, and does not get turned back on again until after Sunset on Sunday.

As mentioned before, we are grateful for donations to allow us to continue in this ministry.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

18 December: An Introduction

Shalom and welcome to Christian Home Companion. I’m no Garrison Keeler, and if you want to know something about me, please read the sidebar on the right. This little blog will have several layers, and is intended for all Christian couples, regardless of age or experience. Many of the more spiritual suggestions here will only really work if both the husband and wife are committed Christians. By committed Christian, I mean someone who is totally sold out to Jesus as LORD and Saviour, and who believes that the Bible is God’s word. I unashamedly believe that the man is the spiritual head of the household, and his wife must respect him. He for his part must love his wife and children, and take their wants and needs into full consideration before making his decisions. It is good that he consults with his family, but ultimately, he makes the decisions.

I saw the need for this blog, because we seem to have lost a generation or more of Christian counselors. Some 40-50% of the young men today have no father image they can look up to for example nor guidance. Many women entered into the work force and never learned to be Christian homemakers, and now cannot advise their own daughters on these matters.

While some of this will be most useful to newly weds, much of what will be presented can be used by older couples as well. Keep in mind that with older children, implementing some of these ideas will be tough. Also keep in mind, that for these ideas to function, husband and wife must be on the same track. Many children have been lost because their parents were not on the same track, and of course some of these discussions need to happen before children come along, and in truth before the marriage occur.

So are you ready for Christmas. By this time you should have everything you need for the Christmas meal purchased except for perishables that might not keep. Have you got a turkey of more than 20 lbs? If so, to safely defrost, the turkey needs to start thawing out on Monday or Tuesday as the latest. Having family over for Christmas, assign each person or family something to bring. Don’t kill yourself cooking the Christmas dinner. If no one is coming, assign each person in the family something to do. When I was fifteen or so, my mother would cook the vegetables, my sister the salad, my grandmother the desert, and I would do the turkey dressing and salad. No-one got worn out over doing everything, and it was a shared experience. Some people (us for one) have the Christmas dinner on the 24th and just have leftovers on Christmas day so no-one has to do any major work that day.

Of course it is a bit late to talk about the Advent Conspiracy and presents, but do look at the following if you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet: . I agree it is time for us to remove the materialism from Christmas and put Christ at the centre. Personally, I usually start my Christmas shopping in August and finish by November. This way I can take more time for each present.(I did this originally because my mother’s birthday was Christmas Eve, my father’s on December 28th, and my sister on January 2nd, so I needed to spread out the purchasing) Large family, draw names and let each person buy one present. Buying presents early also allows us to contemplate the season, instead of getting caught up in sales, and rushes and crowds. The important thing is to convey to all involved that the main point of Christmas is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Christmas is to be about Christ, not about presents. To help convey the spirit of the season, try to stay away from Christmas parties during Advent. Advent is a time of preparation. We ask ourselves, “What would we do different if we knew Christ was coming today?” and then go and do it. It is not so much a time of partying, but preparing, and repenting, not as penitential as Lent, but still there should be some fasting involved. Hopefully you have an Advent Wreath on the table and are preparing both for Christmas and the second coming of Christ. If you don’t have prayers for lighting the wreath, go to:

Tomorrow: Prayer and turkey recipes.

If this blog is helpful to you, we would greatly appreciate donations. I am a tent maker bishop, which means my church lets me earn my own way. But a teacher is worthy of his keep, so if these musings help you, then please help me. Thanks.