Friday, July 31, 2009

The Squirrel Can Cook - Chili

For me, nothing says "comfort food" like a big bowl of chili. Whether you like it hot and spicy or just flavorful and savory, chili is just good food. This is a milder chili, since Mrs. Squirrel (and certain sissy-mouthed regular readers of The Squirrel Can Cook) doesn't like it spicy. I'll note [recipe variations] for a bit more "burn" along the way, for the brave and adventurous types.

This recipe is for a large batch of chili, as I like a lot of leftovers when it comes to chili, soup, and stew. For a smaller batch, just half all the ingredients.

Our ingredients are:

2 pounds stew meat, cut small (1/4 inch pieces)
2 - large onions, chopped
[2 - Jalapeno chilies, chopped - leave seeds for more heat, remove seeds for less heat]
4-6 - garlic cloves, crushed
2 - tablespoons chili powder
1/2 - teaspoon salt
2 - teaspoons ground cumin
2 - teaspoons dried oregano leaves
[1 - teaspoon cayenne pepper]
1 - teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 - 28-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 - 15-oz. cans tomato sauce
2 - 6-oz cans tomato paste
2 - 19-oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 19-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 19-0z can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, onion, & garlic [& Jalapenos] and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned, about 8 minutes or so. Unless you used a really fatty cut of meat, don't drain the juices from your meat mixture, but transfer the entire contents of the skillet to a large stock pot.

Put the stock pot over medium-high heat and stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, the spices and the Tabasco sauce -- actually all the remaining ingredients except for the beans -- & heat just to a boil. then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high and stir in beans. Return to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer covered about 30 minutes. You'll want to stir about every 6 to 8 minutes, and, if it becomes too thick, you may need to add some water. (It's a good idea to keep a hot tea kettle handy for that. But do not add too much water! Remember, we're making chili, not soup.)

After about 30 minutes, your chili is ready to serve. I like mine topped with cheese and raw onion. Dad always liked to crumble a few saltine crackers in his. Mom likes hers with cornbread. Enjoy!

The Squirrel shall not live by bread alone!

post signature

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 7/30/09

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

"Oh, I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener..." Well, not in Hawaii, it seems. Some environmentalist group has filed an official complaint that the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile violates the state's advertising and billboard laws. Oh, please! These people just do not have enough to worry about at all! Good grief! It's the Wienermobile folks! It's an American Icon.

I had a discussion a few weeks ago with some folks about the fact that children are not born innocent. Here is a good example of the willfulness of a child. It seems that a 7-year old boy in Park City, Utah didn't want to go to church... so he stole the family car and led police on a car chase. Now, it is Utah, so chances are he was fleeing a cult and not a real church, but still...

The first of two Twitter stories - The British government has issued a 20-page report urging government agencies to use Twitter to keep subjects of the Crown informed of their nations doings. This isn't actually such a bad idea. I follow the NASA tweets because I like to keep up with the space program. Technology can be useful.

[h.t. Maty] I keep trying to tell you that squirrel's are smart. Well, it looks like scientists agree with me. Of course, looking at the undeniably atheistic bent of this website... I'm not sure I'm happy with the association, nor the unfair characterization of squirrels as thieves...

The rodent uprising hasn't abated, it seems. Something sure ticked this groundhog off! I would give this rodent the same advice I would give Professor Gates or anyone else who comes into contact with law enforcement; do what you are told and don't cause problems and make things worse.

The second Twitter story: Well, if you believe that prayers are magic, and that where the prayers are "postmarked" from is important, then here's a service for you. Your prayers can now be "tweeted" to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, so that, well, they'll get more attention from God? Bleh, bunch of high-tech pagans...

[h.t. Lockheed] When people began to push for "gay marriage" rights, those who opposed such unions warned that, if we allowed this, soon all bunch of different "weddings" would be demanded. And now, a Pennsylvania woman wants to marry a roller coaster... My question is, does this mean she gets free rides? Or does she have to pay to enter the park like everybody else?

That's the Nut Cache for this week! Stay Nutty!

post signature

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who Controls Salvation?

I've been doing a lot of reading, listening and watching as I research and prepare my series defending Calvinism. As I said, I'm no high-powered scholar, so I like to get all my ducks in a row. I probably take more time then I really need too, but I like to be well prepared.

Anyway, one thing I've been doing is listening to a lot of debates on the subject of Calvinism, including a debate between James White and George Bryson. I was particularly struck by Dr. White's closing statement, and I thought you might find it edifying as well.

Meanwhile, my post on Unconditional Election should be up first thing in the morning in the near future.

post signature

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Squirrel Can Cook - Steak Frittata

A few days before, I had made Philly cheese-steaks for Mrs. Squirrel and I for dinner. The piece of steak was much larger then I needed for two sandwiches, but I cut it up and cooked it anyway. I knew I’d find something to do with it. The following Saturday morning, I did. I decided to fix a Steak Frittata for breakfast.

A frittata is a type of omlette, and can be fixed with all kinds of different ingredients. As I've said before, breakfast is one of my very favorite meals. Growing up, Dad used to fix a ham & cheese frittata at least once a month. He would make his with ham, cheese, onion, & green peppers. I recall him fixing a bacon frittata as one of the last meals we had together before he went into the hospital for the last time.

Our Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/2 cup of cheese, shredded (I used a “processed cheese food product” that is too soft to grate well, so I cubed it)
1/4 pound of steak, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces and cooked through
1 medium onion, diced
Some minced garlic (mince your own, or use from jar)
2 ounces of water
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat your broiler. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and 2 oz of water, set aside.

Heat your cast iron skillet (you did buy one, right?) over medium-high heat, add oil, onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and sweat the onion until it is translucent, then stir in the steak and heat through. Then spread the mixture evenly through the pan. Add the eggs to the pan. DO NOT STIR! Add your cheese evenly throughout. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top.

Place the pan under the boiler for another 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy. Remove from pan and cut into 4 servings. (Need to feed more people? No problem, just add eggs and cook a little longer for a thicker frittata.) Serve immediately. I served ours with hashbrowns (and a little extra cheese found its way onto the hashbrowns!) Enjoy!

The Squirrel shall not live by bread alone!

post signature

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 7/23/09

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

Whenever you have a bunch of people over, something always seems to go wrong, right? That's happened to you? On the same week as the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, the International Space Station had the largest number of residents ever at 13. And then the toilet stopped up...

Just when you start to think that life just can't get any more weird, you read this. So now we're getting people in government who think that animals should have the right to sue people? Ideas have consequences & theology matters. Your homework this morning is to read and reflect on Genesis 9:1-3.

A Creation oriented Dinosaur museum has opened in Glendive, Montana. As you can imagine, this has generated a bit of ridicule and scorn in the local papers. I remember when I was in school, being told about the "free exchange of ideas" and how that is what "drove science." But it sure seems to me that evolutionists sure don't want to have to compete in the "marketplace of ideas." I wonder why that is?...

Remember a ways back, we had a couple of stories about people calling 911 when they couldn't get their orders right at McDonald's? Well, this guy in Denver didn't have to call the cops... he was a cop! "Was" may be the operative word, here, as I doubt that he'll be a police officer for much longer. He should have just had lunch at Pho 11's...

In times to come, this may not be so uncommon as today. If we get a new, ultra-expensive, taxpayer paid-for, socialized health care system, like it looks like we will, back-alley health care providers may be just what the doctor orders...

That's this week's Nut Cache! Keep looking up, these things fall from trees, you know...

post signature

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Were The Moon Landings Faked?

Fred Butler at Hip and Thigh posted a link today to a clip from the television talk show The View in which Whoopi Goldberg expressed some doubts as to whether or not the Moon landings were faked.

Oh, wow! I almost feel sympathy for Goldberg. It is horrible to have to display your ignorance on national television that way. “Who took the pictures?” have you ever heard of a tripod, Whoopi? And then Walters has to cap it off by trying to explain that Mike Collins, still in orbit aboard Columbia, was some of taking the pictures. And people watch this show?

Okay, about the flag, when they set it up it began to swing, not from air resistance but from gravity and inertia. Without air to slow it down, the bottom corner of the flag kept swinging like a pendulum for quite some time. This is been replicated in vacuum chambers more than once. Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel recently did a whole show debunking many “the Moon landings were faked” myths.

Several years ago, I was sitting in my office and I had a picture from Apollo 15 on my computer desktop. A really nice color shot of one of the astronauts standing by the flag in front of the lunar module with the lunar rover parked close by. A guy came into my office, saw the picture, and remarked, “You know that was all faked, don’t you?” Initially, I thought it was joking, but it was soon evident that he was quite serious. After a few minutes, it was also quite apparent to me, that no amount of discussion would change his mind. This was my one and only personal encounter with a Moon-landing Denier.

The main “evidence” that was brought up that day, the same “evidence” that such Moon-landing Deniers always point to, was; #1) the waving flag; #2) the lack of stars in the background of the photographs from the Moon; and #3) the shadows of objects in the photographs from the Moon. The waving flag we have already dealt with. The lack of stars in the backgrounds of the photographs is easily explained when we understand that the camera’s aperture was set to take photographs in full daylight. Compared to everything in the foreground, the dirt, the rocks, the lunar module, and the astronauts, all standing in full sunlight, the stars are too faint to show up in the photographs. The problems with the shadows disappear when you realize that the surface of the Moon is not flat and uniform. Shadows cast on a sloping surface will seem to be pointed in a different direction from shadows cast on a flat surface.

The fact that so many people believe that the Moon landings, all six of them, were faked, and denying the Moon landings while using personal computers, cell phones, the Internet, and watching satellite television, is just another testimony to the total inadequacy of the American education system!

For detailed refutation of the "Moon myths" see here and here.

post signature

Monday, July 20, 2009

Has It Really Been 40 Years?

Exactly 40 years ago today, at 20:17:39 GMT (3:17 PM EST,) the first manned spacecraft to ever visit another world landed on the Moon. I was only four years old, but I remember my dad getting me out of bed when, almost 7 hours later, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. I have a very vivid memory of sitting in my pajamas with my sisters on the green carpet in the den in front of the television.

To get into the mood for this anniversary, Mrs. Squirrel and I watched The Right Stuff on Friday night, and then HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon on Saturday. (Mrs. Squirrel drew the line and would not let me watch Apollo 13 today. (Well that’s not quite true, but I could tell that it would not have pleased her.))

Here are some interesting facts that you may not known about that first Moon landing:

Because Neal Armstrong diverted from the primary landing site and landed manually some distance away, Mike Collins was never able to spot the landing site from orbit.

While Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 ½ hours on the surface, they only actually walked outside for 2 hours and 36 minutes.

The "dashboard" of the Apollo 11 command module had 24 instruments, 566 switches, and 71 lights. The command module also had approximately 15 miles of wire, enough to wire about 50 houses.

Mechanical problems with the command module’s water filtration system caused hydrogen bubbles to build up in the drinking water supply, resulting in some rather odiferous “out gassing.” It affected all three crew members, so at least no one could point fingers. (From all reports, after a few days in space without any kind of shower facilities, an Apollo capsule wasn’t the most pleasant place to be. I understand that things are much better now aboard the space shuttle and the international space station.

When Armstrong and Aldrin came back inside from their moonwalk, their suits were coated with a fine powder of Moondust. Armstrong said that it smelled like “wet ashes in a fireplace” while Aldrin described it as a “spent gunpowder” smell.

Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) that directed Eagle, the Apollo 11 lunar lander, to and from the surface of the Moon, had 74 kB of memory and 4 kB of ram! Oh, and it cost $150,000+… (my cell phone has over a gigabyte of memory, and cost about $100…)

Before they left the Moon, Armstrong and Aldrin threw their boots, EVA backpacks, and garbage out the hatch and left it all on the Moon.

The Apollo 11 crew only spent 21 ½ hours on the Moon. The last Apollo mission, Apollo 17, would spend the longest time on the Moon, at just over three days.

NASA's Apollo 11 40th Anniversary page

Wikipedia's Apollo 11 page

Apollo 11 Fact Funs

More Fun Facts

Mankind is visited the Moon only six times, and each time only two men walked on its surface, and all that took place in three short years 40 years ago. We haven’t been back since. In total, in the entire history the world, 12 men have spent a total of 300 hours on the Moon. That is less than two weeks.

Maybe it’s a result of such early exposure to space travel, but I’ve always been nuts for outer space. The vast majority of my recreational reading is science fiction, and I’m talking the hard, technically oriented stuff. Honestly, growing up, I figured that there would be all sorts of space based industries by now. But all that we have is one itsy bitsy collection of components without a commercial application on board; about the equivalent of a dozen or so shipping containers held together of baling twine.

But 40 years ago, expectations were much, much higher. If you watched the television coverage or read the newspaper reports from the time, it’s easy to see that they expected us to have permanent settlements on Mars by now. Even with the turmoil and social unrest of the late sixties, there was a much higher level of optimism in the future then we see today.

The space shuttle, now almost 30 years old, is slated for retirement some time in 2010. And the Constellation program, with its Ares rockets and Orion crew vehicles, essentially updated 5-man Apollo-type capsules, which is the manned space vehicle that is supposed to replace the shuttle, now faces an uncertain future due to possible NASA budget cuts.

If NASA’s budget will allow it, the Constellation program plans on returning man to the Moon by the year 2020, 48 years since our last visit. Plans are then to establish a permanent base on the Moon, and push on to Mars.

So today as we look back it that achievement 40 years ago, and salute Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins, let’s see if we get our imaginations going about the future again.

post signature

Friday, July 17, 2009

Defending Dordt

Part II

[Programing note: There will be no The Squirrel Can Cook this week, as it is just too hot to cook. Deo Valenti, The Squirrel Can Cook will return next Friday]

Returning to our examination of the doctrines of Calvinism, I would like now to turn to the doctrines themselves. It is difficult to deal with each doctrine separately, as they are all intimately woven together, so there will be some crossover with the other doctrines as we deal with each.

I have come to the conclusion that people who reject the Doctrines of Grace usually do so for a combination of two reasons: 1) an inflated view of man and 2) an insufficient view of God. They fail to grasp just how totally sinful man is and just how absolutely sovereign God is.

The TULIP begins where we must begin, with the Total Depravity of Man. While most people who reject Calvinism point at the doctrine of limited atonement as the point they disagree with most, a little digging shows that it is an inadequate understanding of man’s total depravity that is really the issue. Because if our starting point is a failure to recognize just all sinful man is, and how debilitating to man that sin is, we will fail to understand how difficult saving man really is.

Totally Depraved | Humans are corrupt throughout | Not "bad as can be" – TurretinFan

Most people misunderstand what is meant by that term “total depravity.” And, truthfully, depravity is not the clearest word that could be used. John Macarthur refers instead to man’s total inability; because the Bible tells us that man, in his natural state, is unable to seek God, obey God, or to please God in any way. “Depravity” is not the best choice of words, because when we hear the word “depraved” we think of the worst of offenders; mass murderers, child molesters, concentration camp guards, telemarketers, and the like. We don’t think of ourselves as “depraved.” And, in a sense we are correct (I hope none of my readers are a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Pol Pot.) But, in the theological sense, we are all depraved. Total Depravity does not say that men are as bad as they could be. What it does say is that every part of man is tainted and corrupted by sin.

Cloud defines total depravity this way: “Man is totally corrupt and dead in his sin so that he cannot even respond to the gospel unless God sovereignly enables him, which only happens if he is one of the elect. God not only must enable the dead sinner, but must sovereignly regenerate him and give him the gift of faith.” This is a fairly concise definition, as far as it goes. Mr. Cloud does not address the Calvinist position that man is responsible for his own sin.

The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way: “By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body… From this original corruption, hereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.”

So what is the scriptural support for this doctrine? While there are many passages that allude to the doctrine of total depravity, Romans 3: 10-18 is surely high on the list.


In these eight verses, Paul quotes from Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Psalms to show that all mankind is sinful without exception. He sums it up quite clearly in Romans 3:23 when he writes, “for all have sinned, and fall short of the Glory of God.” Note that Paul, and conversely the Old Testament prophets, say that there is no one who does good and there is no one who seeks after God. Humanity is so unable to please God that the Bible calls mankind “spiritually dead.”

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2 NASB)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but dead people very rarely do anything for themselves. Like, NEVER! A funeral home attendant, while preparing to a body for burial, does not set a pile of clothes down and ask the corpse to get dressed. Just as those who are physically dead are physically helpless, the spiritually dead are spiritually helpless. As Paul says, in Romans 8:6-7, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,” we are, by nature, hostile towards God.

This is not to say that man does not have choices, just that man’s choices are not free. We will not, on our own, choose to do good, or to follow God any more than a lion would choose a pile of bananas over a steaming pile of fresh meat. It is not in his nature.

I hear the questions, because I’ve heard them before, “What do you mean, ‘none who does good?’ Lots of people do good! Feeding the poor; helping little old ladies across the street; supporting the symphony, are these things not good?” I’ll let Isaiah answer that one…

“…all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” – Isaiah 64:6 (NASB)

The literal translation of “filthy garment” (“filthy rags” in the KJV) is “used menstrual cloth,” an undeniably disgusting image. And Isaiah says that that is the value of our righteous deeds! How much more ugly are our unrighteous deeds? But we can see that what we see as good the Bible describes as truly worthless and disgusting in God’s sight. In even the best things that we do there is an element of pride and self-righteousness. Every thought that we have, and every action that we take, is not free from the taint of sin.

It is reported that John Bunyan said that there was enough sin in the best prayer that he ever prayed to damn the whole world. That is the essence of Total Depravity.

post signature

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 7/16/09

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

As you are probably aware, I am a space and technology nut. 40 years ago today, the a Saturn V rocket was launched from Florida, taking Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins towards the moon in their Apollo 11 spacecraft. NASA is streaming the complete audio of all communications between the ground and the spacecraft as it happened exactly 40 years ago. Give it a listen here!

The Iowa state fair. A wholesome, all-American sort of thing. And what could be more American, or Iowan for that mater, then a sculpture honoring Michael Jackson in... Butter! That's right, a butter sculpture of the now room temperature pop star will be featured at this years Iowa state fair. I was unaware until now, but butter sculpture seems to be something of a tradition in Iowa. But, wait! The weirdness is not done! PETA is protesting the butter sculpture, and demanding that Jackson be immortalized in cow-friendly non-dairy spread, instead.

Here's a story about an 88-year-old woman and a purse snatcher... except this time the 88-year-old woman is the purse snatcher! Italian police say that 88-year-old Filomena Barbetta has a rap sheet for petty theft related charges going back to the 70's. When asked to investigate an rise in pick-pocketing at the weekly market in Pesaro, Italy, guess who the police caught? Some people just need to know when to retire.

I quit smoking a long time ago, and when I quit, a pack of cigarettes cost about $2.00. I, of course, had heard that, due to increased taxes & some lost lawsuits, prices had gone up. But at these prices I think even the most hardcore smoker will soon quit. I mean, $23,148,855,308,184,500 for a pack of smokes? Ouch!

Australian snipers to penguins: "Don't worry, little birds. We've got your back!" Something, most likely a dog or a fox, is eating the fairy penguins that reside in a national park outside of Sydney, Australia. Well, now they're getting cover from a pair of snipers, charged with "instructions to do what it takes to protect these tiny creatures." Sleep well, flightless waterfowl, you've got friends!

That's the Nut Cache for this week. Stay nutty!

post signature

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Defending Dordt

Part I

Late last week, I received an e-mail containing a link to an article “refuting” Calvinism by King James Only advocate David Cloud. The person who sent me the link, not a Calvinist herself, knows that I am a Calvinist, and wanted my opinion on the article. While I had heard the name in regards to King James Onlyism, I had never read any of Mr. Cloud’s writings before. I was most pleased to see that Mr. Cloud’s writings were, in contrast to the abundant vitriol of many in the King James Only camp, reasonable in tone & less of an “attack piece” then I had expected.

Unfortunately for Mr. Cloud, poor arguments and incorrect conclusions, however well written they are, are still poor arguments and incorrect conclusions.

I’ve given a lot of thought to how best to respond to Mr. Cloud’s position. I could go through Cloud’s arguments, and answer each in turn, but that has already been done, and done well, here. My apologetic methodology has always been to basically just tell people what I believe, and why I believe it, and let them do with that information what they will. So I’ve decided, instead, to present a positive defense of what is known as the 5 Points of Calvinism. For, if I can show that the doctrines that we collectively know as Calvinism are Biblical, then Mr. Cloud will stand refuted.

But, throughout my positive defense of Calvinism, I will address certain of Mr. Clouds errors along the way.

Before we begin: some preliminaries. I am a Calvinist. What does that mean? When I say that I am a Calvinist, I mean that I hold to the 5 Solas of the reformation (Sola Fide - by faith alone; Sola Scriptura - by Scripture alone; Solus Christus - by Christ alone; Sola gratia - by grace alone; Soli Deo gloria - glory to God alone,) and to the 5 points as codified at the Synod of Dordt in 1618-1619, and that is all I mean. I’m not an expert on Calvin, his life or his theology. I know that my theology differs from his on a few points, including baptism and eschatology. While I do own a copy of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, I have not read it cover-to-cover, nor studied it in depth. (I do intend to at some point. I even downloaded a lecture series on Calvin’s Institutes from Covenant Theological Seminary, but I haven’t listened to it yet.)

Also, I am not an expert on Church History. In fact, I’m not an accomplished scholar in any field. I’m just a humble country preacher who’s trying to do the best that he can. So, if you’re expecting some doctrinal dissertation, you’re in the wrong place. Just so you know.

It is my intention to break this into several parts. We’ll just stick with the TULIP order, for convenience and familiarity, if for no other reason. Today, I’ll introduce our subject.

Introduction: Why 5 points?

John Calvin never reduced his theology to five points, and the 5 points do not encapsulated Calvin’s entire theology, but deal only with the questions of “Who does God save?” and “How does God save them?” Calvin died in 1564, but the “5 points” didn’t come to be until 1618-19, during the Synod of Dordt, which was held in Dordrecht, Holland, in response to the teachings of Jacob Arminius and his followers, who published the 5 Articles of Remonstrance (re•mon•strance noun 1: an earnest presentation of reasons for opposition or grievance [Webster’s]) in 1610, the year after Arminius died.

It was 8 years later, during the winter of 1618-1619, that the Synod of Dordt met to address the Remonstrants’ articles. They met in session 154 times, from November 13th, 1618 to May 9th, 1619. The results of their deliberations were published as The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands, commonly known as the Canons of Dordt. The Canons were never intended to be a comprehensive or exhaustive treatment of Calvinist theology, but were narrowly focused on the issues brought up by the Remonstrants. The point being that it was the Arminian Remonstrants, not the Calvinists, who first developed 5 points, which are the polar opposites of the Calvinist’s TULIP.

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

Cloud is correct when he says that the TULIP acronym did not appear until the 1700's, and was developed as a memory aid. A brief web search does not reveal exactly when, where, or by whom the TULIP was planted.

Mr. Cloud made a point of saying that, while he is certainly not a Calvinist, he is also not an Arminian. And I understand that. There are people who sit somewhere between 5-point Calvinists and 5-point Arminians, so that is not really an issue. But Cloud takes issue with Calvinists’ “black and white thinking.” Well, the real heart of the issue is Monergism vs. Synergism, and that is a black or white issue.

Monergism (“mono” - one + “erg” - work - the work of one, or working alone) is the doctrine that salvation is entirely God’s work from start to finish. He begins it and He accomplishes it. Man adds nothing to his salvation, and can take absolutely no credit for any part of it. It is all God’s doing, and to Him belongs all the glory.

Synergism (“syn” - together or with + “erg” - work - to work together, cooperate) is the doctrine that salvation is a cooperative effort between God and man. In order for a person to be saved, God has done His part, but the individual must do his. Synergism says that the human will and the divine Spirit work together in the act of regeneration.

That is the heart of the issue; Those are the two sides of this debate. I hope, by the time we’re done, that you will have gotten a good understanding of both sides.

post signature

Monday, July 13, 2009

Got a Favorite Teacher?

We've all got favorite Bible teachers, both living and dead. I listen to John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, & Phil Johnson, among others. I read books by James White, Jerry Bridges, John MacArthur, and so on, and so forth.

But do the people who hold to a certain doctrine prove that doctrine? Of course not, the Bible must be our ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice.

Terry Rayburn wrote a great piece on this topic a while back, I link to it now for our edification.

post signature

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Squirrel Can Cook - Mrs. Squirrel's Fruit Salad

This week I bring you a treat from Mrs. Squirrel's recipe file. This fruit salad has become a family favorite for pot-lucks, picnics, and just hot summer evenings when you don't want anything hot or heavy to eat. I now turn my keyboard over to Mrs. Squirrel.

Here we go: This is really just a foundation to which you can add (or change) lots of things. The original recipe that came to me had regular (heavy syrup & small pieces) fruit cocktail and chunky pineapple. Using no-sugar-added fruit & pudding makes the salad lighter, a bit more diabetic friendly and quite refreshing (especially on a hot summer day). I also found (by happy accident) that crushed pineapple makes a salad that is less likely to "invade" other food items on your plate (perfect for potluck meals), so I made it a permanent change in my own recipe. As follows:

Three cans (15oz) of chunky fruit cocktail (no sugar added)
One can (20oz) of crushed pineapple (no sugar added)
One package of sugar free lemon pudding mix
One large crunchy apple - Granny Smith (or your favorite)

Directions: Drain all canned fruit and KEEP THE JUICE. In a large mixing bowl, gently mix the fruit cocktail and pineapple together. Dice up the apple and add to the fruit mixing occasionally (the pineapple acids keep it from turning brown). Open the dry pudding mix and sprinkle it over the fruit. Gently combine all of the dry pudding into the fruit. This will make a very thick "mess", so begin to add some of the fruit juice as you mix the salad to thin out the pudding. Keep adding fruit juice to reach the desired consistency. [I typically have a lot of the juice left over, but I save it and drink it later as a treat.]

Note #1: The fruit itself will release some of it's juice as it sits, so thicker pudding is easier to contend with than thinner pudding.

Note #2: I highly recommend letting the salad sit for a few hours (or over night) so the pudding absorbs the juice and loses that gritty "powder" texture. Remember to stir the salad again before serving (to mix any juice that has separated).

Note #3: This recipe fits very nicely in a bowl that holds 10-cups.

Some options I had considered but have not yet tried:
  • Adding different kinds fruits like bananas or mandarin oranges.
  • Adding nuts.
  • Changing the flavor of the sugar free pudding - white chocolate or cheesecake seemed like decadent choices (but sounded potentially a little heavy).
  • Possibly blender-ing it and freezing it into home-made pudding pops.

Play with it! Enjoy!

When Mrs. Squirrel made the batch that is pictured above, we were out of apple, so it got left out. It was good without it, but it is better with it! But, hey, you work with what you've got, right?

post signature

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 7/9/09

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

Happy 500th Birthday, John Calvin! Take some time this morning to read this article at Tom Ascol's blog. I think I'll celebrate by having a blueberry muffin for breakfast, instead of toast. I know, any excuse for a party... (Calvin's actual birthday is July 10th)

Well, you may have noticed the new item in my sidebar. Wait! Wait! Don't say, "Pffft!" just yet! Let me explain! Phil Johnson, James White, Al Mohler, Tom Ascol and others have convinced me that John Calvin & Charles Spurgeon would have used Twitter... Really...

How's this for a reality game show? "Penitents Compete will bring together an Islamic imam, a Jewish rabbi, a Buddhist monk and a Greek Orthodox priest seeking to convert the atheists." Religions compete for converts! On TV! As entertainment! Anyone who converts to one of the competing religions wins a trip to their chosen faith's holy sights. I'm sorry to see Christianity represented by a Greek Orthodox, but at least they didn't get Rick Warren...

5 days late, and an outfit short. Seems a Connecticut man showed up for his appointment at his dentist office sans clothing. To make it worse, he was late for his appointment, 5 days late. Is it just me, or are there really more naked people news stories lately? Reminds me, I need to do some laundry today...

Alcohol makes you do stupid things. Really. Here's an example. Fact- driving while drunk is dangerous and illegal. Fact- stealing anything, including tractors, is wrong and illegal. Fact- Police cars are faster then tractors. Stupid thing? Thinking you can outrun the police in a stolen tractor while intoxicated. The smart thing to do would have been to call a friend, or a cab, or walk, or just about anything else...

I can't get away from the Michael Jackson madness. It seems that the Family Christian Center in Munster, Indiana, is preparing 500 dancers to perform the dance from Thriller. Pastor John Ponder said, "We believe (Jackson) was a saved man." Really? Based on what, exactly? Funny, about 10 minutes at the church's website, and I couldn't find a statement of faith...

Well, that's the Nut Cache for this week!

post signature