Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer (available on amazon.com) continues to influence my daily thoughts. In the Foreword of A Gospel Primer, Mike Bullmore compares the writing and reading of Vincent’s book to preparing and enjoying a tasty meal from a slow cooker. He makes a good point; a wise reader will not speed-read this book. Instead, just as time is needed for flavors to mix well in a crock pot meal, time will be necessary for the Gospel truths Vincent shares to permeate your thinking.
Here is an example of how Vincent’s book has helped me in my spiritual growth with respect to my view of trials in life. In the past, I struggled more often than I do now with the temptation to find someone to blame for every challenge that I face. Having spent some time reviewing A Gospel Primer, I more often find myself wondering how the Gospel relates to the details of a particular challenge instead of figuring out who is culpable. Sometimes my challenge is simply a difficult circumstance involving no other human being. Other situations involve another person. In these and various other situations, I have been helped tremendously by the principles which Vincent helps his reader consider.
For example, some mornings, I awake with a stiffness or pain in my neck or back that makes the beginning of the day rather slow for me. Other times, I am clearly reminded of my physical limitations when I cannot maintain a pattern of mixing rest times in with periods of working or socializing. It seems that I can’t participate in as many activities as “normal” people can without reaching the point of complete exhaustion or a debilitating headache after a couple of days. These kinds of challenges are simply due to my living in a decaying body in a world that is cursed from sin; no particular person is to blame.
In other cases, I may need to speak with someone to work out a misunderstanding or to address a hurt between us. That is uncomfortable for me, but maintaining any relationship will, at some time, require this difficult work of reconciliation. When someone has hurt me, I tend to be quick to anger; I also have struggled for years to obey the command not to keep an account of the wrongs others have inflicted on me. Sometimes I wonder, “Why do I even have to face this? I wish I didn’t have to address this difficulty with this person!” Vincent’s Gospel Primer has helped me to switch my thinking more quickly to, “What might God be teaching me about the Gospel in this situation? Or, is this an opportunity for me to grow spiritually by exercising faith in His promises as I obey His commands?”
Whether my trials involve other people or not, I am reminded from the Gospel that God is at work in the difficulty, molding me into the image of His Son. When I am firmly convinced that God is for me, then I truly can exult in my tribulations and count my trials all joy since I know that God is deliberately designing my circumstances for the purpose of changing me spiritually to be more and more like His Son.
One day recently, I wanted to try a new way to cook chicken for Brody, and he suggested a garlic/herb combination. Starting with ideas from about.com in the Frugal Living and Southern Food categories, I came up with this recipe. We put some of the chicken on a plate with our usual black beans, rice and broccoli just for the “photo op” one evening, so it does look like a lot of chicken for one serving! 🙂 We liked the taste of the crock pot chicken, even if it doesn’t look as pretty as our chicken taco meal does! At times, our work schedules and my need for rest make the crock pot a very attractive option for meal preparation. We’re beginning to experiment more often using the crock pot with the recipes we already developed in A Recipe for Survival.
Herb/Garlic Crock Pot Chicken
¼ cup water
2 lbs chicken breasts
2 tsp dried parsley
3 large sage leaves
a sprinkling of dried thyme
4” fresh rosemary
1/8 tsp ground cloves
a sprinkling of ground nutmeg
10” fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves