Peanut Butter Pizza

Take peanut butter cookie dough (whether you make from scratch, use a mix or the pre-made dough rolls at the store), spread out in one big cookie on a cookie sheet.
Bake as directed until 2-3 minutes are left. Pull out of oven and sprinkle mini marshmallows on it. Stick back in oven for the remaining 2-3 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly browned. Take out, sprinkle chocolate chips on it. And voila!

Quotes from Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

“Our cultural value for privacy is strictly a Western value; it is not derived from the Bible. This is not to say that privacy is wrong, just that it is a neutral value.”

“If we’re not careful, our individualistic assumptions about church can lead us to think of the church as something like a health club. We’re members because we believe in the mission statement and want to be a part of the action. As long as the church provides the services i want, I’ll stick around. But when I no longer approve of the vision, or am no longer ‘being fed,’ I’m out the door. This is not biblical Christianity. Scripture is clear that when we become Christians, we become – permanently and spiritually – a part of the church.”
“…we are not free to dissociate our identities from them – mainly because once we are all in Christ, our own individual identities are no longer of primary importance.”

“While culture determines how we understand the consequences of sin, God’s will and commands are universal. It doesn’t matter if our culture says it’s okay if God says it isn’t.”

“At some point in this generation, ‘Take up your cross and follow me’ changed into, ‘Come to Jesus and he’ll make your life better.'”

“One aspect of moralistic therapeutic deism is the assumption that the purpose of religious faith is ‘providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents.'”
“…doesn’t view humans as existing to do the will of God; rather, they view God as existing to meet human needs.”

“Much preaching is focused on the felt needs of listeners; this style communicates that the value of the Scriptures, and ultimately the gospel itself, is what it can do for me. This means that while the church has not created the American preoccupation with me, it has certainly reinforced it. If we are encouraged to think about our relationships with God and the church in terms of what’s in it for me, it’s only natural that we approach the Bible the same way….this tendency can cause us to misread the Bible.”

“The Christian church has always believed that the Scriptures are for us. But our historical location changes what that means.”
Until the Reformation, people heard the Scripture together, through speaking, reading aloud, listening. Once the printing press came about, then people were able to read the Bible for themselves, which also meant alone.
“This allows a communal process to become individualized.”
“The shift to individual, reader-centered interpretation was natural, post-Gutenberg. But we must never lose sight of the implications of that shift.”
“…what goes without being said is that it’s all about me. We believe the Bible endorses our preoccupation with ourselves.”

“All things work together for the good of God’s people (collectively), even though individual believers may endure all manner of senseless suffering and death. We must be very careful applying a promise intended for the people of God in general to an individual or even a specific group or generation.”
“…this is not a promise that God will protect us from harm or heartache. Rather, it is a promise that through the inevitable harm and heartache that comes with being human, God can train us up in godliness. The focus, in this case, is better preparing us (his people) for God’s service, rather than expecting God to work things for our good.”

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the BibleMisreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by E. Randolph Richards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Because our worldview (the way we look at things) and our cultural values are so much a part of who we are, we often read the Bible with these values and assumptions. There are things in our culture that are often unsaid but these are often not the same things that are unsaid in the culture of the Bible. We misread the Bible when we bring our own assumptions and values to it instead of reading it with the assumptions and values of the culture it was in.
This book takes us through many of the common mistakes Western culture makes when reading the Bible. The difference between honor/shame cultures and right/wrong cultures makes us read the story of David and Bathsheba differently than perhaps it actually was. Other examples include our racial and ethnic views, our view of time, and our individualistic culture versus the collectivist culture of those in the Bible.
Very eye-opening and helpful book, giving examples of how we misread verses, not just taking them out of context but out of the culture they were written in. Perhaps the biggest thing we in America do is reading the Bible as an individual and what it has to say to me, rather than reading it as part of a group, which is how the culture was in Biblical times. I highly recommend this book for a better understanding of the difference between our American culture and the Biblical culture.

“…there’s no way around the fact that our cultural and historical contexts supply us with habits of mind that lead us to read the Bible differently than Christians in other cultural and historical contexts.”

“Before we can be confident we are reading the Bible accurately, we need to understand what assumptions and values we project onto the Bible: those things that go without being said and that make us assume that some interpretations are self-evident and others are impossible.”

“If our cultural blind spots keep us from reading the Bible correctly, then they can also keep us from applying the Bible correctly.”

Reading from Isaiah

Isaiah 5:1-7, 12-13 (emphasis added) – boy, this sounds familiar!

1Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
2He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.
3“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
4What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?
5“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
6“I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”
7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

12Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine;
But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord,
Nor do they consider the work of His hands.
13Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge;
And their honorable men are famished,
And their multitude is parched with thirst.

(From NASB version, as found on Youversion)

Am I Really a Christian? by Mike McKinley

Am I Really a Christian?Am I Really a Christian? by Mike McKinley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the issues that I see among evangelical Christianity is this whole concept of being “saved” because of saying a prayer or responding to an altar call. This book addresses this issue and uses Scripture to show what being a true Christian is about.
I think there are too many people in today’s churches who think they are going to heaven but do not have a true relationship with Jesus Christ. This book is an excellent wake-up call to examine ourselves to see whether we really are following Jesus. It takes us through several indicators that help show whether we really are Christians or are just going through the motions. Things like evidence of change in our lives – if we still love sin, we are not really Christians – and loving our stuff more than God. While salvation is not about our works, for it is Jesus’ work that saves us, the evidence of our salvation comes out in our actions and works.
A good reminder to examine ourselves and see whether we really are following God or are just relying on a one-time prayer without really growing and changing to become more like our Savior. The end of the book also stresses the importance of being part of a local body of believers, a place where we can be challenged in our faith and where we can challenge others to grow in their faith.

The Complete Guide to Bible Translations by Ron Rhodes

The Complete Guide to Bible Translations: How They Were Developed - Understanding Their Differences - Finding the Right One for YouThe Complete Guide to Bible Translations: How They Were Developed – Understanding Their Differences – Finding the Right One for You by Ron Rhodes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent book giving information behind many of the English translations of the Bible that we have today. Information is given as to the types of different translations – word-for-word vs. thought-for-thought (or a combination of the 2) as well as who was behind the translation and reasons for why the translation was done.
Most of the chapters give an overview & history of the various translations – such as the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, the English Standard Version, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the New Living Translation and other popular translations.
Very readable and helpful resource for understanding the different translations that are out there. A brief chapter in what to look for in a Bible is also given at the end of the book.