Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth . . .
              Matthew 10:34

I knew I would have to do it sooner or later.  My Bass Family and Friends Cookbook has three different recipes for meatloaf and it was inevitable that I would have to make one of them.  But I don’t like it.  Meatloaf has never been on my requested foods list.  Not only do I dislike the taste, but meatloaf represents the least exciting food imaginable; the very definition of bland and dull.  Needless to say, I’ve been putting this recipe off.

When I became a pastor, I worried that this vocation would be a lot like eating meatloaf.  Too many people in our world today already think of Christians as being (at best) proper, but dull folks.  Pleasant rule-followers who keep their lawns trimmed and are always on time.  They might get along well with neighborhood associations, but few people can or want to live that way.  These folks are just . . . well . . . bland. 

Christians shouldn’t be that way.  Jesus certainly wasn’t.  Though we sing about “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” our savior didn’t always make a good neighbor.  He talked to all the wrong people.  (Samaritans for heaven’s sake!  And women!)   And he managed to tick off all the religious leaders so badly that they wanted to kill him.  I think about this every now and then when I’m having coffee with pastor friends.  We could be called the “religious leaders” of our time.  How would we deal with a savior who seemed to bend the rules so badly?

In recent times, Christians have sacrificed their well-being, even their lives, by standing against norms of a broader and more powerful culture.  From South Africa to the American South – and too many places in between – Christians have endured violence and hatred in order to bring about change when the world didn’t reflect what God intended for us.  Of course, Christians have also caused violence through the years too, and done many things in the name of Christ that did not reflect Christ’s teaching.  But that certainly doesn’t mean that faithful Christians sit quietly with hands folded, making no waves or enemies.

Jesus was edgy.  And if we really want to follow our calling, we will be edgy too.   But I’ll warn you, this kind of edgy isn’t always cool.  Our calling is a radical one.  We’re not just meant to be nice.  We’re called to love our neighbor to the point of sacrifice.  We are called to include the outcast, stand up for the downtrodden, and raise our voices against the realities of injustice and abuse.  Behavior that is truly Christian can get us kicked out of the “in” crowd, and it won’t always make us nice neighbors.

You might be different from me.  You might like meatloaf.  Living faithfully, however, will not allow us to live meatloaf lives.

I chose this recipe because I was intrigued by the inclusion of Portobello mushrooms.  As meatloaf goes, it wasn’t bad, though it was still meatloaf.  If you like meatloaf, you will probably enjoy this recipe.  Our family ate it with Ratatouille Pasta from Food to Live By, the cookbook from Earthbound Farms.  May you and your family and friends enjoy this meatloaf and be blessed.

1 tablespoon olive oil                     1 cup chopped onions
1 6 oz pkg. sl. Portobello muchrooms, ch.
1 large egg                                         2 tablespoons water
¾ pound lean ground                      ¾ pound ground turkey
2/3 c. fresh bread crumbs             3 T finely chopped carrot
2 t. coarse grain mustard               1 t. minced garlic
1 t. salt                                                ¼ t. freshly ground pepper
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil; lightly coat foil with vegetable cooking spray.  Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over high heat; add onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 7 minutes, until mushroom liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are browned.  Cool.  Toss onion mixture with remaining ingredients lightly with fingertips in a large bowl.  Shape mixture into a 9x4-inch loaf in pan.  Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes.  Uncover meatloaf and bake 25 to 30 minutes more, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in center registers 160 degree F.  Let meatloaf stand in pan 5 minutes.  Remove from pan with a large spatula and transfer to serving platter.  Makes 4 servings. – Lisa Wade

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God. 
     Ephesians 2:21-22

There is a reason I like to make my own pizza dough from scratch.  It may seem an excessive expenditure of time when whole pizzas, or crust, or dough can be easily purchased at any grocery store.  But I love it because when I can smell the yeast, I know I am cooking!  I am taking part in that ritual of mixing, kneading, shaping and cooking that ultimately keeps us all fed.

Even though we have a bread maker that makes phenomenal bread or dough (or even jelly, but that’s a story for another time), I love making dough from scratch.  Working and kneading flour and yeast mixture not only lets me pound out a lot of frustrations, it makes me feel like I am doing something real, something that has both meaning and nutritional value, something I can sink my hands into.

I’m pretty sure my son agrees, though he doesn’t have the words to express it yet.

In fact, Roland made a pizza breakthrough on this recent dinner.  I have long been trying to get my kids even minimally involved in cooking.  Pizza with its easy, hands-on quality has been one of my tools of choice.  But in the past, even this bore little success.  On this night, however, Roland not only took an interest in the pizza, but saw the whole process through to the end.

He helped to knead and roll out the dough – a part he always did like – spread around the sauce and even put on toppings.  It used to be that I had to nearly tie him to the chair to get him involved, and his interest was short lived.  That he sat still and took an interest in all of the steps was miracle enough.  Then he decided it was important enough to take pictures of the event! (More honestly, he just likes playing with the camera.)

Any parent will consider it important to see progress in their children.  But when children have special needs, any step forward is a cause to celebrate.  Such opportunities don’t come around often and when they do, it’s a party.

Progress is often painstaking.  When it happens at all, it might be unnoticeable if not downright invisible, or at the very least exasperatingly slow.  This is true in both children and adults, in our personal projects as well as in spiritual matters.  We crawl forward, bit by bit, fingers clawing the dirt.  We hope and hold out faith that we are going somewhere good, even when it isn’t at all obvious. 

But spiritual progress rarely shows up in measurable ways that are looked for in job evaluations.  This lack of external proof can be even more frustrating since it often means we are working through our scrap, our compost if you will.  Our history, our pain, the not-so-pleasant parts of ourselves are the very things we have to look at long and hard.

There are, however, signs that tell us of our progress.  We can begin to see ourselves with new eyes, which can be happy or painful, depending.  We may actually smack our head in despair thinking that we have gotten worse at some habit, or realized some less-than-wonderful attribute of our character when we are simply beginning to see ourselves as we are.  We didn’t suddenly gain this woeful attribute.  We see it because we are beginning to change.  When that happens to me, I take it as a sign of God’s work on my disposition.

Then, of course, there will be those joyous moments when our vision clears and we can see how far we come; when our progress becomes evident.  Then we celebrate.  We applaud our own efforts for the distance traveled.  We thank God for the journey.  We put our heads down and return to the fray.

Ultimately, our progress should be perceptible, both to us and to the outside world.  Whether or not we can prove it with test scores or character inventories, we should be better from doing the hard work of spiritual growth.  We won’t be able to unless we are willing to dig our hands into the dough.  Knead it and let it rise.

The pizza was excellent.  That my kids even tried it was a huge step forward. None of it, however, came from my Bass Family and Friends Cookbook.  You can find the pizza dough recipe here, and the sauce recipe here.

Blessed Eating!