Chili Rellenos (Contains Dairy and Gluten)

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Note from Andrea: while I’m swamped with adoption stuff, my friend and sometime co-author Cindy Koepp offered to share some recipes with you. Enjoy!

Quico Piedra, the star of “Hard Knocks” and Joya’s bratty cousin in “Jewel Among the Stones,”* loves chili rellenos. Here’s a recipe for them…

*episodes from Avatars of Web Surfer

You’ll need…

Big, fat peppers (Anaheim, for example)

Cheese (queso asadero or cheddar or monterrey Jack or … whichever you like)

¾ cup flour … plus a bit more

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

Sour cream or salsa, if desired

Big toothpicks

Oil for frying

 

  1. Roast the peppers in a broiler, turning a couple times until they’re blackened all around.
  2. Put them in a covered container to cool off
  3. Meanwhile, mix eggs, flour, and baking powder to make dough. (some recipes have you add spices to the dough like cumin, cilantro, etc)
  4. Once the peppers are cool, rub off the charred skin
  5. Slit the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes
  6. Stuff the peppers with the cheese
  7. Pin them closed with toothpicks
  8. Dunk them in the batter then dredge them through the extra flour
  9. Fry them in the oil until they’re brown all around
  10. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream if you want.

 

If, however, you are like my folks who can’t do deep fried anything, you can also do this much simpler version, much more like jalapeño poppers.

You’ll need…

 

Jalapeños (or other peppers)

Cheese (any kind you like)

Sour cream or salsa

 

  1. Slice the jalapeños in half and remove the seeds and membranes
  2. Load with cheese
  3. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350
  4. Serve with sour cream or salsa

[tweetthis]Chili Rellenos #recipe (Contains Dairy and Gluten) from Cindy Koepp @CCKoepp [/tweetthis]

8 I AM Statements of Christ.

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8 I AMThe Gospel of John is interesting in that it focuses on 7 “I Am” statements. It starts with Jesus’ genealogy as the pre-existent one1. It’s hard to recognize that as a family record, but each of the gospels presents Jesus in a different way, and three of four have genealogies. Mark doesn’t because Mark presents Jesus as a servant and no one cares about the genealogy of a servant2.

John focuses on Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. To accomplish this, there are 7 “I Am” statements.

The first is “I Am the bread of life3.” In this segment, Jesus uses an analogy of the manna that came down from heaven to feed the Israelites in the Wilderness. Like manna, we can’t collect any for someone else. Each has to get his own4. You can’t accept Christ for someone. They have to do that for themselves. You get exactly what you need5. Jesus meets you where you are and helps you get better from there. They had to strike it to make it edible6. Jesus was stricken for us. You need to get it daily7. Storing it up for future use was no good. You won’t survive well or long if your only dose of Christ is for two hours on Sunday. It tasted sweet8. We have joy in Christ. Unlike manna, though, when we commune with Christ, we will not see death9. Likewise, Jesus is called the Word10. There are times when we are told to eat the word of God11. Recall that clean animals were the ones that chewed the cud12. That means they ate it, partially digested it, and then brought it back up to chew on some more. We should be like clean animals and chew the cud more often by not just reading the Word, but really getting to know it personally. Man shall not live by bread alone13, unless that Bread is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second I Am statement is “I Am the light of the world14.” Chapter 8 of the Gospel of John contains a massive round of verbal fisticuffs between Jesus and the Pharisees. Don’t let the politeness of the translation fool you. They’re going head to head on this one. The Pharisees call Jesus an illegitimate son, and he in turn explains who their father is. Definitely not for the G-rated audience. To the point, however, Jesus is the light to the world. We, by emulating him, reflect that light to the rest of the world. Because of the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in our lives, we become the light to show the way to others in the darkness15. We do need to be careful that we remain in the light because if we stop, the darkness will overtake us16.

Next up, the third and fourth are very close together in the text and tightly related: “I Am the door of the sheep,” and “I Am the good shepherd17.” Jesus is the only way to the sheepfold. If there’s any other way, his prayers in Gethsemane were unanswered. Anyone who comes by any other route than the door is a thief and a robber18, and the thief comes only to kill and destroy19. That’s where Christ’s job as the Good Shepherd comes in. Any but the shepherd would run when they see danger, but the shepherd will give his life for the sheep, and he did. Jesus gave his life for us so that we could stand in the presence of a perfect God. There’s no other way.

The fifth I Am statement is “I Am the resurrection and the life20.” If we die to ourselves and live in Christ, we will know true life now and hereafter. I find it interesting to read how this scenario played out. Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead21. He even told Martha as much, although she misunderstood and thought he was speaking of the general resurrection22. So why did Jesus grieve so greatly23? He was doing what we should all do: share one another’s joys and burdens24.

Moving right along to the sixth I Am statement, we find “I Am the way, the truth, and the life25.” Jesus has gone on ahead of us to prepare us a place so that, when the time is right, we can go be with him26. When will the time be right? Well, either we die in this life and find ourselves there facing judgment27, or the Fullness of the Gentiles will come in during our lifetime, and Poof! We’re outta here28! There is a number of Gentiles at which the Body of Christ is complete. Then the Father will tell the Son to go get his Bride. As amazing as that is, not only is Jesus the only way to heaven, but he’s the way to live in this world, too. Because he went to the Father and sent us the Holy Spirit, we can do great works in his name29.

The last official I Am statement is “I Am the true vine30.” Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The branches of a tree can’t do much except wither and die without a connection to the source of life. Likewise, we can’t, either. As branches from the vine, we are expected to produce fruit, or else we’ll be cut away and cast into the fire where we can’t do any more harm to the vine and other branches31. Our fruit is our changed life and our good works. It’s not the works that save our miserable hides, but the works are the exercise that keep our faith healthy and witness the glory of God to a world that would just as soon not care32.

There is one last “unofficial” I Am statement in the Gospel of John that doesn’t make the usual list but is probably the most critical, the most amazing. In fact, it knocked a collection of Roman soldiers and Pharisees on their rears. Check out John 18. When Judas and company come to arrest Jesus, three times he says, “I Am.” The “he” that is included in some translations is there to help the readability, but in my interlinear Bible, there’s no word there for “he,” and the margin translation says, “I AM” without the “he.” He is, in effect, declaring his identity as God. If you read the accounts of the confrontation in Gethsemane, in fact of all of Holy Week, you find out pretty quickly that Jesus orchestrated the whole thing.

So, Jesus is the bread of life, the light of the world, the door for the sheep, the good shepherd, the resurrection, the way, the truth, the life, the true vine, the lamb of God, and indeed truly God. He’s all these things and much more.

Endnotes:

1 John 1:1-5

2 Missler, Chuck. Learn the Bible in 24 Hours. Koinonia House.

3 John 6:35-59

4 Exodus 16:16

5 Exodus 16:18

6 Ibid.

7 Exodus 16:21

8 Exodus 16:31, Psalm 34:8

9 John 6:58

10 John 1:1

11 Jeremiah 15:16, Revelation 10:9

12 Leviticus 11:3-7

13 Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4

14 John 8:12-59

15 Matthew 5:14

16 John 12:35

17 John 10:7-18

18 John 10:1

19 John 10:10

20 John 11:17-44

21 John 11:11

22 John 11:23-27

23 John 11:33-36

24 Romans 12:15, Galatians 6:2

25 John 14:1-14

26 John 14:2-3

27 Hebrews 9:27

28 Romans 11:25, 1 Corinthians 15:52

29 John 14:12-14

30 John 15:1-8

31 John 15:6

32 James 2

Three Lessons from Esther.

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condesign / Pixabay

If you’re looking for Esther and having a hard time of finding it, don’t feel so bad. It’s all of 4 chapters. Find Psalms and go left two books. The book of Esther is read in Jewish homes at Purim, which celebrates the survival of the events in Esther. Now, to do this properly, you need to remember that you should hiss whenever the name of the bad guy comes up (Haman. Hissss)1. Okay. Now that you’re prepared, let’s dive in.

There was much argument about whether the book of Esther should be included in the canon. There’s no mention of God anywhere in the book … at least not in the open. The name “Esther” means “Something Hidden.” The name YHWH is actually encrypted behind the text. If you take an equidistant letter sequence starting from a couple places, you get the name YHWH more often than is statistically expected. So, God is in the book. Per her instructions, Esther, the queen and the book, hid her heritage2. For your very great amusement, there’s another hidden bit of text in there, too. “Haman and Satan stink” is concealed in the text using an equidistant letter sequence3.

Anyway, back to the point. The king of Persia at the time was very volatile. In Chapter 1 of Esther, we find that he put away his wife, Vashti, because she wouldn’t appear before a group of guys who’d been drinking for seven days. Some commentators suggest that this wasn’t just a matter of her wandering in to join the party but rather that she would perform, dance, or otherwise become the entertainment4. When she declined, Ahasuerus kicked her out.

So, that gets us to Esther, who was the ward of Mordecai, a descendant of Shimei. Does that name sound familiar? If you’re familiar with David’s adventures, it might. Shimei was a kinsman of Saul. This relative of the former king cursed David as David fled his son’s rebellion, and the king’s soldiers wanted to explain very clearly to this rabble rouser that cursing the king was not healthy. David wouldn’t allow his people to kill Shimei5. Now, I’m not suggesting that David might have known the significance of Shimei’s descendant, but if Shimei had been killed, there wouldn’t have been a Mordecai.

Esther ended up in the king’s harem, then so impressed the king that she became queen. Meanwhile, Uncle Mordecai made one of the king’s advisers, Haman (Don’t forget to “Hissss” when his name comes up) mad by refusing to pay homage when he passed. Haman decided to concoct a plan to make this annoying Jew pay.

Now, when you read Esther 3:1, you find that Haman was an Agagite. That’s also significant. Saul had been instructed to wipe out Agag and his people but chose to spare at least Agag and possibly a few others, unless there were some escapees6. If Saul had followed God’s directions and destroyed everyone and everything, there wouldn’t have been a Haman.

To cut to the chase, Haman hatched a plan to kill the Jews. Mordecai got wind of it and warned Esther. Esther thwarted the plan, and Haman died. For the details, read Esther. It’s short and very engaging.

So, if all Scripture is there for our instruction7, what are we supposed to do with this?

There are actually three good lessons for us to find here. First, Esther had been placed in a position to do something on behalf of God’s chosen, and she took a great deal of personal risk to do it. Not only did she walk uninvited into the throne room, which bore the death penalty unless the king extended his scepter; but she also revealed her identity as one of the condemned Jews, confronted Haman, then worked with her uncle to find a way to give her people a chance in the impending slaughter. Do you take any risks for God’s kingdom? Do you ever step out of your comfort zone to do something boldly for Christ? You may not have to face a volatile king and his wily adviser, but you might have to risk upsetting someone or facing the unknown. God won’t let you do this alone, but the initiative to do it is yours. He won’t force your hand.

Secondly, consider David’s response to Shimei. If the soldiers had gotten their wish, Shimei would’ve died that day, and there would’ve been no Mordecai to raise Esther or get word to her of the impending death sentence. David showed mercy, which is “not giving people what they deserve.” God shows us mercy, too. Are you merciful toward others, or do your thoughts go to making sure a well-deserving adversary gets his comeuppance? Instead, we should be kind to our enemies, and thereby dump burning coals on their heads8.

Finally, Saul’s error could have been very costly. Haman was an Agagite, and Saul had been told to wipe out every single one of them some generations before. He chose not to, Haman’s ancestors survived, and Haman had an opportunity to wipe out God’s chosen. He didn’t succeed, obviously, but as a result of Saul’s disobedience, things were much more difficult for Esther and Mordecai, among others.

Likewise, if we choose not to do God’s will for us, the work still gets done, but there may be hardships and extra burdens for others down the road. James says that God will give you wisdom if you ask for it9. So ask, find out what God wants you to do, and get it done.

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Cindy Koepp is originally from Michigan. She moved to Texas as a child and later received a degree in Wildlife Sciences and teaching certification in Elementary Education from rival universities. Her recently concluded adventures in education involved pursuing a master’s degree in Adult Learning with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Cindy has four published science fiction and fantasy novels, a serial published online, short stories in five anthologies, and a few self-published teacher resource books. When she isn’t reading or writing, Cindy spends time whistling with a crazy African Grey. Cindy is currently an editor with PDMI Publishing and Barking Rain Press as well as an optician at monster-sized retail store.

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true”]Three Lessons from Esther by Cindy Koepp #bible #devotional #commentary #faith #mercy #obedience[/tweetthis]

Endnotes:

1 Missler, Chuck. Verse by Verse Commentary on Esther. Koinonia House

2 Esther 2:10; Ibid.

3 Missler, Chuck. Verse by Verse Commentary on Esther. Koinonia House

4 Ibid.

5 2 Samuel 16:5-13

6 1 Samuel 15

7 Romans 15:4

8 Proverbs 25:21-22

9 James 1:5