Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BE MERCIFUL....This week's meditation from Daria

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
One day, a dad was playing with his young daughter, holding her above him in the air like an airplane. Looking into her father’s eyes, the daughter suddenly squealed with delight, “Daddy, I see me in your eyes!” The father grinned, “I see me in your eyes too.”
This is the kind of face-to-face encounter that God, our heavenly Father, wants to have with us. Just as children reflect their parents’ philosophies, dispositions, and even mannerisms, he wants us to reflect his own heart of compassion and mercy as we relate to the people in our lives. There is truth to the old saying “You may be the only Bible some people ever read!”
Of course, the most perfect reflection of the Father is Jesus himself—the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). As the perfect image of the Father, Jesus came to earth not only to reveal God’s compassionate heart but to teach us how we too could live as God’s children. In today’s Gospel reading, he gives us some very practical ways that we can show the world who our Father is. First, he gives us two things to stop: “Stop judging. Stop condemning.” Then he give us two things we should do: “Forgive” and “Give” (Luke 6:37-38).

Saturday, February 23, 2013


(Mexican Pizza Variation)


1 bag of Corn Tortilla Chips
1/2 cup grated Jack Cheese
1/4 cup BBQ Chicken, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon Black Beans
1 tablespoon Salsa
1 tablespoon Sour Cream

Pour out the chips onto a sturdy, microwave-safe plate. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over the chips, creating a barrier to prevent the salsa from making chips soggy. 

Pile on the chicken pieces, black beans, and strategically dot salsa over the top, as shown.
Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted.  Add a mound of sour cream in the middle, and serve. 

Mexican Pizza Ole` 

For mouth-watering pizza with a Baja-fresh flair try making these 2 unique varieties!  Baja shrimp with garden veggies or Mexican beans and Spanish rice! Both are covered with cheese and can be topped with hot peppers or olives. 
The perfect no-fuss crust is easiest made in a breadmaker but you could also purchase a ready-made pizza-pie crust, and then add your own sauce and toppings!

Breadmaker Pizza  Crust

Makes 2 large 10" -12" pizza crusts

(add ingredients to the canister in this order)

1-1/4 Cups water                                           
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1  Tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
4  Cups whole wheat bread flour
1   teaspoon rapid-rise dry yeast 

Put canister into the breadmaker, set it on the "dough" cycle (1 hr. 20 min.) and 
your breadmaker will do all the kneading.
At the end of the cycle take the dough out and split it in half for 2 pizzas (pictured above).  Pull the dough at opposite angles around & around until you have it shaped round enough to put into a pizza pan.

Continue pulling opposite sides until it fits your pan.  Don't worry, it doesn't have to look perfect, as it will be covered with sauce and/or toppings! No need to pre-cook the crust either!

Pizza Sauce
For Baja-Fresh Shrimp Pizza add your favorite variety of spaghetti sauce.  I'm using my homemade chunky spaghetti sauce (my secret recipe for Pasta Primavera Sauce is found in our Hot Sauces section along with my Sassy Salsa).

For Mexican Pizza spread refried beans, as you would the sauce, and cover with a layer of Spanish rice, and optional salsa.

Pizza Toppings

Top both with healthy onion slices, which cook up nicely. I like using a variety of white and purple/red onion slices.

Smother with cheese shavings, or grated white cheeses, such as jack on the Mexican pizza or mozzarella on the Baja shrimp pizza. 
Over the cheese add either mild Greek pepperoncini, or jalepeno HOT pepper slices.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


No sign will be given … except the sign of Jonah. (Luke 11:29)
Public figures tend to speak candidly in smaller, private gatherings of firm supporters. But when they are in front of larger groups, they paint with broader brushstrokes and use crowd-pleasing language. Not so with Jesus! Upon seeing a crowd swelling, he decided to challenge his audience. They were looking for a supernatural sign, but he invited them to repentance and conversion instead.
Clearly, Jesus was very generous with miracles. Over the course of his public ministry, he healed countless people, drove out demons, even brought the dead back to life. But he didn’t perform these wonders to satisfy people’s curiosity. He did it to reveal his Father’s love and power—and he did it in response to their faith. In today’s Gospel, however, Jesus could tell that the people in this crowd were in greater need of having their hearts opened, not in witnessing yet another marvel.
So Jesus told them about the citizens of Nineveh, who repented when Jonah called them to put away their sin and turn to the Lord. Even though the Ninevites were Gentiles, and even though Jonah was a reluctant prophet, the people accepted his word and offered a very impressive display of public repentance. By recalling this Old Testament story, Jesus made it clear that the most powerful “sign” he could give was not a spectacular miracle but the sign of repentance and transformed lives.
Jesus is speaking the same message to us today, and sometimes he speaks it very directly and pointedly. Don’t shy away when he does! Instead, let it move you to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Come to confession so that he can shine his light on whatever darkness is lurking in your heart. Open your heart to him, trusting that he loves you too much to let you remain in a rut. His call to repentance is not a rebuke but an invitation to companionship. It’s an invitation to a new life. You don’t really need another sign, do you? Confess your sins. Embrace his mercy. As you do, you will find more than enough signs of his presence.
“Jesus, make me into a sign that will bring people to you. I want to embrace your mercy so that other people may see you and believe.”
Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
When you were young, did you enjoy hearing firsthand accounts of where your parents or grandparents grew up? Didn’t it feel as if you could picture their homes because of the vivid way they described their younger years? Well, Jesus also had a firsthand account of the place where he came from—heaven.
When Jesus spoke about heaven, he wasn’t talking about a distant reality but a real place that is his home. He was talking about a reality that was as near to him as our world is to us. Jesus knew heaven as a place free from pain, weeping, and death (Revelation 21:4) He knew it as a place of everlasting joy and peace. He often spoke of the rewards stored in heaven for the righteous (Matthew 5:12; 6:20; 19:21). The very reason he became man was to testify to the reality of heaven and to make a way for everyone to join him there.
In all his preaching, as well as in his miracles and acts of forgiveness, Jesus sought to give the people a sense of hope: heaven had broken into earth, and everlasting life was now on the horizon! Through his death and resurrection, Jesus overcame the sin that had separated us from God. He brought us close to our heavenly Father and made it possible for us to become citizens of his heavenly kingdom. What’s more, by the gift of his Holy Spirit, he has made heaven a present reality for us. Each and every day, we can experience a touch of heaven as the Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
So what does this mean as we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” Good news, that’s what! It means that as we try our best to do God’s will every day, we are aligning ourselves with heaven. It means that the reality and the rewards of heaven will flow into our lives. It means that we can experience all the blessings, gifts, and grace that God has stored up for us in heaven—right here, right now!
“Father, teach me to love heaven as my new and eternal home.”
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34:4-7, 16-19

Friday, February 15, 2013


.....AT OUR OWN PERIL.....
As if we needed more proof that the America, on which this country was founded, has turned its back on God, the Gallup polling organization has confirmed it with its annual long at the state of America's dark soul.

In the just released survey of all 50 states, some not so surprising news turned up. The country which was founded and built on the Bible, Biblical principles and prayer had its foundations set in the New England region in the early 1600's. Yet, within the first 100 years of civilization on this continent, God had to send revivalists like George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards to preach the Gospel (again) as decline had already set it! So it is now, absolutely NO shock, that the most pagan parts of America can be found in every single state in New England. Of course, we know God has His people everywhere. I know of solid Christians and those who are ministering in Bible-believing congregations in Boston, the Berkshires and a good friend of our ministry over in Salem, Oregon among the few other outposts of God's Kingdom out there and in Alaska.

Therefore, without further ado, here are the least "religious" states of the United States of America:

Gallup: These Are the 10 Most (and Least) Religious States in America
Poll: Courtesy: the Gallup Organization
While these states are officially non-believing and very hostile towards Christians; home-schooling families and traditional institutions, they have opened up to all kinds of other systems like earth-"worship"; wicca; buddhism and other mystic philosophies. These are also states with the most liberal governments, almost all have enabled so-called "gay marriage" and educational indoctrination -from K-12 and beyond. 

If you will also notice, the District of Columbia - Washington DC is right up there with the rest of them. This is the center of American power and so-called democracy. You can trace the decline of this country from the type of policy and the lack of Godly leadership coming out of there for decades and decades. Apart from the personal faith of Ronald Reagan and Calvin Coolidge, which affected their conduct, you have to go back to the 19th century to men like Daniel Webster to find Christ-like courage and faith in DC. 

With all of this proof, of man, who thinks he is superior to God, is it a coincidence that more and more natural disasters have been slamming the northeast since earthquakes showed up there in 2011? Mortal man, who is a legend in his own mind, has set up his own high places - like the ancient pagan asherah poles - where he puts man-created systems of knowledge of things like evolution and weird philosophies. Even medical sciences, which are actually God-given talents, and technological advances have become idols as the Hands of the Creator are spurned in favor of the velvet hammer of intellectual tyranny.

All of this, from the Gallup surveys, and the countless commentaries (most of which will be correct) on them, reminds me of the passage from Isaiah 14 about the fall of the great worship leader of heaven...who was the first among created beings - Lucifer himself. Here is what God said about Lucifer, who now reigns in darkness until the time of the Gentiles have come in "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! (Isaiah 14:12 NASB).

This is exactly what happened to this country - once the Christian bastion of the world. Even now, if you speak to folks who travel from as far away as China or Indonesia etc...what they think of America, they still think we are a Christian nation! Nothing could be further from the truth anymore. There are only an estimated 25-30 million born-again believers in this country of 330 million. There are actually almost 300 million Christians in the underground Chinese church, which is thriving under the jackboot of communist persecution!

But take heart, my friend - the Lord is still with us. He has called His people back to repentance time and time again. He is always full of grace and love and mercy and compassion to those who call upon His Name in all humility. While the nations rage and the worldly people "imagine a vain thing" (Psalm 2:1), God is longsuffering and will only act when provoked. Even though He is provoked right now by a corrupt liberal American society, God is still in the Salvation business. All you have to do is ask for it. Humble yourself. Seek forgiveness for your sins. Cry out honestly and open up your entire life to Him. Invite Him to take the wheel and drive from now on. Realize you and I cannot make it on our own. Put all our trust and faith in the Savior and then live like we're dying...to the world, so we can be eternally alive in Him. Amen.

Here are the most "religious" or Christian regions of America:
Most Religious States, Based on % Very Religious, 2012
Poll: Courtesy: the Gallup Organization

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Choose life … (Deuteronomy 30:19)
The Israelites were just about to enter the Promised Land. Forty years of waiting and wandering had finally come to an end, and Moses was preparing the people for the next phase of their history: the time when God would bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey.
So standing before the Israelites, Moses issued them the most important challenge they would ever hear. Would they choose life by following Yahweh’s commands? Or would they choose death by following their own ways and the ways of the nations around them?
This challenge didn’t come out of nowhere. Moses had already spent much time reminding them of all the Lord had done. He reminded them how God had delivered them from Egypt and continued to offer them his protection. He spoke of how manna showed up every morning, and quail every evening. He told them that even their clothes did not wear out as they wandered in the desert. But now the time had come for the people to decide for themselves to live under God’s protection. The manna would stop, and so would the quail. God’s miraculous provision would end so that they could choose the way of life, the way of faithful obedience.
Today the Lord stands before us and offers us the same call and promise. He is asking us to choose life, not death. He is asking us to follow his commands and share his love with one another. And he is promising that if we do, he will be with us to strengthen us and lift us into his presence.
Our God has already performed so many miracles for us: he has risen from the dead; he has opened heaven to us; he has filled us with his Holy Spirit; he has given us every gift and blessing we need for our everyday lives.
Now the choice is ours. Will we choose life and live in his presence and know his love? Or will we choose death and live a life of isolation and loneliness?
“Father, you are the author of life. I choose to follow you and heed your voice. Thank you for calling me and filling me with your infinite love.”

Sunday, February 3, 2013


BEN-HUR (1959) Winner of 11 Academy Awards
Before anyone think it is strange that I would be reviewing a movie that has been around for almost 54 years, check this! MGM, the makers of this version of BEN HUR is in the process of raising the capital for a massive remake of the Lew Wallace book, which spurred this classic epic into existence! This monthly movie review feature aims for cutting edge commentary which never conforms to current cultural configurations. Therefore, for this wonderful month, we look at an action packed thriller set around the time of Jesus Christ: BEN-HUR!

Union Civil War General Lew Wallace wrote and released Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ in 1880 and it is still called the most influential book of the 19th century.  Including 1959, there have been four movies made on this book and the upcoming MGM remake will be number 5! Wallace's story revolves around Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy Jewish nobleman (played by Charlton Heston) in the Jerusalem of AD 26. Judah was childhood friends with the Roman Messala (Stephen Boyd) who has now Roman military elite! Rome had conquered Judea at this time and ruled Jerusalem with an iron fist causing conflict between these two long time friends. Due to some evil shenanigans by Messala against his long time, now ex-friend, Ben-Hur is taken prisoner by Rome and sentenced to the Roman ships as a galley slave. 

On the way to the ships, Ben-Hur and a group of slaves stop in a town called Nazareth, dying of thirst. Local natives start giving the slave gang water out of gourds, but the brutal Roman guard are under orders not to give any water to the parched Ben-Hur....that is, until a local Carpenter shows up! This is AD 26 and the Carpenter, Whose face is never seen, stands His ground in giving water to Ben-Hur, even when the Roman prison guard threatens Him! The look on the Roman guard when the Carpenter turns around and looks at the guard, while giving Ben-Hur more water is priceless. The audience knows by now that the Carpenter is Jesus. It is a great object lesson of evil shrinking away under the Powerful Stare of the Creator!
The long narrative sees our hero, Ben-Hur, still full of hate against Rome,  going through many personal trials and then victories when he is adopted by Arias the Roman consul (Jack Hawkins) after Ben-Hur prevents him from committing suicide. Life takes an amazing turn for him now as he returns to Jerusalem, having been a champion chariot racer, in his new station in life. The greatest chariot racing of any kind, in Hollywood movie history, then takes places in this Wilder's 1959 version of Ben Hur! It is 15 minutes long and breathtaking. 

Apart from this excitement, the story really turns on Ben-Hur's new wife, Esther, who hears a man named Jesus Christ preaching "The Sermon on the Mount"! Hoping to cure her husband of his long time hatred of the Romans, Esther takes him to listen to the Messiah preach of love and forgiveness. He could hear but not see the speaker close up. After hearing Jesus, Ben-Hur rejects his favored adopted status as a great Roman charioteer and returns to his Jewish roots. He tried to take others to see Jesus, but the Christ's trial before Pontius Pilate is already going on and Ben-Hur is too late! As the Romans parade a badly beaten Jesus through the streets on the way to crucify Him, Ben-Hur finally recognizes Jesus as the Man Who gave him some water in Nazareth seven years before! He tries to return the favor to Jesus, but this time, the Roman guard has his way, and knocks the water away.

This is a beautiful movie of forgiveness and made for family viewing on the many cold long winter's nights as we have been having! Ben-Hur's famous line "I felt His Voice take the sword out of my hand" is a classic in redemption stories. The quality of Ben Hur was high definition, before HD was cool! It was restored and remmastered to be released for its 50th Anniversary in 2009, frame by gazillions of frames in this 222 minute long film! If you get the Blue Ray version or even the regular DVD or stream it live from Netflix or Amazon.com Prime, you won't be disappointed in this widescreen delight. The music score is classic as you would expect from a William Wilder movie and scored by the famed Hungarian composer Miklos Rozsa. Miklos is famous for other Academy winners like Spellbound (1945) and A Double Life (1947).

Be on the lookout for the sixth and amazingly technology to be introduced into the coming MGM remake of Ben-Hur! The script has already been written by Keith Clarke and will have a more focused protrayal of the adult life of Jesus, including the Crucifixion. Keith Clarke wrote the remarkably intense movie "The Way Back" and this new remake of Ben-Hur marks another in the sudden turn to religious epics in Hollywood! The History Channels' upcoming 10-part series called THE BIBLE, produced by Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel); Pontius Pilate (Warner Brothers): Moses (Spielberg) and the upcoming Noah, starring Russell Crowe, are surprising in this secular age when  Christians are under persecution everywhere!
Ben-Hur is recommended as the movie for such a time as this!