It’s 4:30pm, What’s For Dinner? – By Megan Jennings

This is a great idea from my wife for all of our home-maker friends. I love this guest blogger!

Have you ever had your kids or husband ask you the infamous question, “what’s for dinner” and you stared back at them with a puzzled look. You have no clue what is even in the fridge or how long its been there.
   Then there is the cost of food.  A little over a year and a half ago I was reviewing our expenses from a previous month and was floored by the amount that was spent on dinning out and groceries. I also knew that I hadn’t done a very good job at planning meals even though my grocery receipts stated otherwise. 
   Meal planning has been an area I have struggled with since we first were married almost 5 years ago.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to cook, I just had a hard time planning things that sounded good. I tried cutting coupons for a while and saved all sorts of money on various products, but at the end of the day what am I going to cook with 10 bottles of ketchup and 6 boxes of mac and cheese?
   Once my daughter came, I felt extremely overwhelmed with trying to raise my family, be a ministry helpmate, work part time, and plan meals. My husband saw me overwhelmed and encouraged me to just do whatever I needed to do to make things work.  I dropped the coupon clipping (except for diapers and wipes) and just planned whatever I could. 
   This is when I stumbled upon E-Mealz on facebook.  I visited the website and after some research my husband agreed to take 3 months and $15.00 to try and see if it could work for us.  I signed up, and the ease of meal planning and shopping became a burden lifted off my shoulders. Not only that, but it has allowed us to save money on dinning out because we are doing it less.  We are actually eating the food we purchased at the store for our meals.
   E-Mealz is a weekly meal planning subscription that will help you save time and money. The cost is just $1.50 per week, purchased in 3 month plans. There are a variety of meal plans to choose from: “meal plans for 2” for those of us with smaller families and for those who are empty nesters, or “family plans” for families of 4-6. They base their plans on in sale items from stores like Publix, Kroger, Walmart, and ALDI.  They also make plans that are for point systems, vegetatian, low carb, low fat, and even gluten free diets. You choose the store and/or meal plan and they give you the plan with a complete aisle by aisle grocery list. Your grocery bill based on the plans typically run around $40-50/week for the couples’ plans and $60-80/week for the family plans.
   I have used E-Mealz for over 6 months and I know it has saved me time and money, not to mention the stress of planning. There is also a program to help you earn money as you promote E-Mealz to your friends and family.  One of the other benefits is that it gives me new recipes that I might not have otherwise tried.  Everything is very simple to make and typically uses ingredients that you have actually heard of and probably already have at home. Give E-Mealz a try and see for yourself how much time and money you can save.

Disasters and God

Guest Blogger Sandy Huntsman- a former professor, pastor in Boca Raton and mentor wrote this article for the Boca Raton Tribune. You can find the original article here.

No question has evoked more discussion or arguments than the problem of evil in the world.  The very fact that there are earthquakes, wars, floods, babies born blind or maimed, innocent people suffering or why a promising life is snuffed out when it is on the rise has baffled men and women for centuries.
Any attempt to make sense of such enigmas is doomed to failure unless we steer clear of three dead-end thoughts: trying to assign blame for them; imagining that people should have known before what we know now, and presupposing that life is or ought to be fair.
No matter what the tragedy, it can cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is very “interesting” that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature that govern it (Genesis 1:1). Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.
It should be noted first that natural laws are universal. If a man, any man, steps off the roof of a five-story building, gravity will pull him to the pavement beneath. If a boy steps in front of a moving freight train, since two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, the train will strike the child and likely kill him. The same laws that govern gravity, matter in motion, or similar phenomena also govern weather patterns, water movement, and other geological/meteorological conditions. All of nature is regulated by these laws, not just the parts that we find convenient.
Secondly, natural laws are indiscriminate.  In addressing this point, Norman Geisler has noted: “In a physical world where there is water for boating and swimming, some will drown. If there are mountains to climb, there must also be valleys into which one may fall. If there are cars to drive, collisions can also occur. It may be said that tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are likewise by-products of a good physical world. For instance, the purpose of rain is not to flood or drown, but the result of rain may include these disasters. Likewise, hot and cold air are an essential and purposeful part of the physical world, but under certain conditions they may combine to form tornadoes” (Geisler, Norman L., The Roots of Evil,1978, p. 72).
Sometimes people ask, “But why can’t God ‘selectively intervene’ to prevent disasters?” Bruce Reichenbach has addressed this question:
“Thus, in a world which operates according to divine miraculous intervention, there would be no necessary relation between phenomena, and in particular between cause and effect. In some instances one event would follow from a certain set of conditions, another time a different event, and so on, such that ultimately an uncountable variety of events would follow a given set of conditions. There would be no regularity of consequence, no natural production of effects…. Hence, we could not know or even suppose what course of action to take to accomplish a certain rationally conceived goal. Thus, we could neither propose action nor act ourselves” (Reichenbach, Bruce, “Natural Evils and Natural Laws,” International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 16.1976, p. 187).
All of us naively and with obvious biases wish God would stop some evil, but not all (my) evil, forgetting that our whole concept about what is good is distorted.  Too many people, “good” is anything I want that brings me pleasure and “evil” is anything I don’t like or disagree with.  Again Geisler has remarked: “…evil men do not really want God to intercept every evil act or thought. No one wants to get a headache every time he thinks against God. One does not want God to fill his mouth with cotton when he speaks evil of God, nor does he really desire God to explode his pen as he writes against God or destroy his books before they come off the press. At best, people really want God to intercept some evil actions…. it is probable that chaos would result from continued miraculous intervention. Imagine children throwing knives at parents because they know they will be turned to rubber, and parents driving through stop signs, knowing God will create crash-protection air shields to avert any ensuing collisions. The necessary intervention would finally grow in proportions that would effectively remove human freedom and responsibility’”(Geisler, Norman L., The Roots of Evil,1978, p. 75)
The story of the Bible is that God made the world good, and man by His own choice messed it up.  The story of the Bible is that God the Creator will fix it again… but not by fantasy, but reality… the cross.  A skeptic once challenged a minister “Where was your God when my son was dying?  He said, Exactly were he was when His Son was dying.”
Our minds cannot comprehend the ways of God, for “the secret things belong to the Lord our God (Deut. 29.29), but our hearts and prayers go out to those who have suffered during the recent tragedies…
Pastor Sandy Huntsman
Boca Glades Baptist Church

Missions and the Japan Earthquake

Tonight I got an email update from the Baptist Bible Tribune that contained a portion of a letter from a national pastor and former graduate of my alma mater. He is a pastor now at a church in Tokyo and explained the importance of their response to the crisis there:

Do we have Sunday school and services as usual? What would people think? They might misunderstand that we do not care about people in the disaster?
     As a local church pastor and as a Christian, I think we must gather, worship the Lord, and learn from the Bible what should we do in this situation, and why we are here. We must express our faith with hope in Christ even though the world is shaken by an earthquake.
     First, we are the only people who know whom we can pray to and ask for help.
Second, we are sent by God to the world as salt and to share real hope in Christ and His Salvation, especially in this disaster situation.
     Those reasons are enough that we should hold the service and Sunday school as usual. So we did. We had Sunday school as usual. We had the morning service, and had a meal as usual. We had the Lord’s Supper in afternoon as we already planned. … And on Sunday, about 70 percent of our regular number of the people came to the church for service. Most of the others were either too sick or too far to come by driving because there was no gasoline.
     Our church member and their families are okay, so we prayed other people in Japan to be saved. We have a mission to be witnesses for the Lord. So I thank those who pray for us and our country, because praying for each other is the Lord’s teaching. Our needs are fulfilled by your prayer. The Lord answered. Thank you.
In Christ
Hiroshi Saito
Tokyo Bible Baptist Church

This is why we support foreign missions. Please pray for this pastor and church as they seek to make a difference in this crisis