What’s on my bookshelf?

No one asked me what I was reading but I thought I would share it anyway.  The method I have developed for reading involves 3 categories.

1. Professional Development–this category is for books that I think will help me grow as a pastor.

2. Personal Development–this category is for books that I think will help my faith grow or encourage character growth,etc. Really, one could argue that category 1 and 2 are two sides of the same coin.

3. Pleasure Reading–this category is for books that I read simply for pleasure.


 

1. I am currently reading D.A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation. In this book, Carson takes a careful look at the prayers of Paul in the New Testament to encourage us in our own prayer life. Carson is one of my favorite Bible teachers; I just started this but I am certain it will be of great benefit to my vocation.

2. Last night I just started James B. Jordan’s commentary on Judges called (humorously) God’s War on Humanism. I have only read the introduction but I am excited to get further into this one.

3. For pleasure, I am reading the final book in the Expanse Trilogy: Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey. These books are a lot of fun. One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed about these books is either at a crucial moment or simply as an important character, the authors (James S.A. Corey is a fake name for two men) bring in Christian clergy. In the first book it was a Methodist missionary. In the second book it was a military chaplain and in Abaddon’s Gate it is a Methodist minister. I’m not Methodist and I don’t like how liberal they have made the clergy but it is encouraging to see that a secular, sci-fi work, recognizes how important religion is to society and the authors seem to feel authentic world building in the far future will still involve established religion. One of the more interesting things about this book is the main character made a comment last night that, once again, reminded me that biblical illiteracy makes it much harder to appreciate literature. The character, Holden, was trying to avoid going to a certain destination and doing everything he could to avoid going. But the harder he tried to flee, the more likely it was that he would end up there. Finally, Holden gave up and realized he was going to have to go to the place he wanted to avoid and said, “Alright. I guess I’ll go to Nineveh.” A small allusion to the book of Jonah that really provides a tremendous depth into how hopeless the character Holden must have felt at that moment. Something that a reader unfamiliar with the Bible, and in this case the book of Jonah, would miss completely.

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Summer Recipes!

Well, it was a long time coming but Spring appears to finally be here. I have a French Saison that I hope to brew in the next week or two (depending upon when the ingredients arrive and I actually have the time) but I thought I’d share three of my favorite recipes for the summer.

The first is technically not a beer. But it isn’t a cider either. It is kind of hard to classify because it is hard lemonade. It is somewhat similar to Skeeter Pee but Skeeter Pee (A) involves a white wine yeast cake and (B) is a terrible name. No, mine is the stuff of the gods. A number of years back, Mrs. Wine and I went down to Louisiana to attend the wedding of our friends. One day, while walking in the French Quarter I purchased a glass “Louisiana Lemonade.” This was essentially Lemonade with rum. It was very refreshing and so last Spring I thought I’d try my own take on it.

Now, somewhat amusingly, I didn’t really care for the final product. So I gave it away (Mrs. Wine was pregnant at the time). It was such a hit that I actually made another batch just to give away to more people. And already I have been asked if I would be making more of it this year. Maybe. But, here is the recipe for those who are interested.

Louisiana Lemonade (Hard Lemonade)

3 Gallon Batch

  • 3 gallons of organic lemonade
  • The peels of 3 lemons
  • 4 cups of white table sugar
  • Yeast (S-04/05 I never use wine yeast except for my meads)

I let this ferment for about 3 weeks and then right before bottling I added:

  • 1 cup of simple syrup
  • 1 375ml bottle of Bacardi Limon


So there ya go! If you are gluten free and miss Mike’s Hard Lemonade, you can make this for the summer.


 

The next recipe I’d like to share with you is a single hop IPA. I’m from Columbus, Ohio and as everyone knows, we have the best football team in the country (Go Buckeyes!). But in the day under coach John Cooper, the defense was called the “Silver Bullets.” So I decided to make an all Columbus hop (get it?) IPA for football season.

Silver Bullet IPA

5 Gallon Batch

Fermentables

  • 3lbs Sorghum Extract
  • 1lb 6oz rice syrup
  • 2 1/2 lbs Honey

Hops

All hops are Columbus

  • 1 oz @ 60
  • .5 oz @ 15
  • .5 oz @ 5
  • .5 oz @ 0 minutes

Miscellaneous

  • 1lb lactose

I used S-o4 for the yeast and then dry hopped 1oz of Columbus hops for 7 days in the primary before racking to the secondary for another 7 days.

This turned out fantastic. It was so bitter I couldn’t touch it for at least a month after bottling but eventually, the bitterness subsided and the lactose added just enough sweetness to really balance everything out. I really recommend this for a summer brew. It was so good the batch didn’t make it to football season!


 

Last but not least a very important recipe. This beer I brewed fairly early in my GF homebrewing experiment and it taught me that I could do this and that I could do it really well. The recipe was designed by Homebrewtalk user Igliashon (who has taught me much). He has taken a job as brewer at Ghostfish Brewing Company and on their blog provided the recipe and instructions for the Grapefruit IPA. I will most definitely be brewing this again very soon for the summer months.

A few minor changes that I made when I brewed this:

Grapefruit IPA

5 Gallon Batch

Fermentables:

  • 3lbs Sorghum extract
  • 1lb 6oz Brown Rice Syrup
  • 2lbs D-45 Candi Syrup
  • 80z honey

Hops:

  • 1oz Columbus @60 minutes
  • 1oz Cascade @15 minutes
  • 1oz Centennial @10 minutes
  • 1oz Cascade @ 5 minutes
  • 1oz Cascade @1 minute

Miscellaneous:

  • S-05 Yeast
  • 8oz of Maltodextrine
  • Zest of half a grapefruit at 5 minutes

Finally, dry hop 2oz of Centennial hops for the first 7 days. I would also recommend adding some large pieces of grapefruit peel for that time period as well. If you only make one beer, make this one. You won’t regret it!

Acts 2.42-47: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (ESV)

Seek and Ye Shall Find

This summer will mark my third year of ordained ministry; yet I am still a rookie at this ministry business. On a near weekly basis something comes up that catches me by surprise and I learned a long time ago that seminary is probably the worst degree program for preparing someone for ministry. To paraphrase a quote I read a few months ago, “When I graduated from seminary I knew church history, church theology, Greek and Hebrew and discovered the only job I was qualified for was to be the Pope; but that position had been filled.” Seminary really teaches you a lot about the Christian faith but the practical day to day aspects of ministry: administration of a church, organization of church programs, human resources, conflict resolution; management (time and people), contract negation, understanding our penal system, complex matters of mental health (both personal and institutional problems)—the list goes on and on.

 

So I have been praying for a while for the Lord to place a seasoned minister in my life to help me and guide me. Alas, for a while it felt as though God had ordained that I figure this out on my own. Then one day I read an article about reading classic works and having the authors be your mentor in ministry. I like to read; but I often feel guilty if I read something that I can’t “justify” with regards to my job. This seemed like the perfect solution: I could read and not feel guilty about it!

 

So I have been reading and God has really been helping my soul through the works that I have read thus far. First I turned to C. Jack Miller’s (one of my favorite pastor/authors) The Heart of a Servant Leader. This is a collection of letters he wrote to individuals while he was a minister. They cover a wide range of topic but almost all of them in some way deal directly with being a leader in a church since his audience was almost exclusively missionaries, elders or ministers. I learned a lot from this book, specifically how I communicate with others and how I could improve my communication skills. What I mean to say is every time we engage in communication with someone we have the opportunity to witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; we have the privilege of being humble and showing repentance and we have the chance to encourage someone in their walk with Christ.

 

So in my e-mails now, even the “most mundane” I try to always share some bit of spiritual wisdom. I have also sought to really organize my email inbox and other segments of my life.

 

This work also encouraged me because Jack (whom I think most would classify as a “successful” minister) said he thinks it took him about 20 years before he figured out how to be a minister. He had hardships (as I have had), he’d had crisis (as I have had) and he even left the ministry for the time (as I have contemplated). It is encouraging to learn that someone who would later plant a church which would become large enough to have its own network of churches and start a missionary organization (World Harvest Missions), a publishing company and author numerous books would have had so many struggles and felt it took that many years to actually become a minister.

 

The next book I read was Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor “by” D.A. Carson. This is a book written by D.A. Carson about his father, Tom Carson, who was a missionary pastor in French Quebec. The book is written by Carson but his primary source material, quoted extensively, are letters and journals and notes kept by his father.

 

Tom Carson felt called to bring the gospel to the French Roman Catholics who lived in Quebec which, by the picture D.A. painted, was another world and a tough nut for a missionary to crack. This work was easy to read, yet hard to digest. At many points it made me cry—and that was a good thing.  Tom was never “successful” by our standards—and that was the point of the book. To show us what faithfulness looks like despite a poor “production.” Tom’s churches were never large (30-40 people at their peak); they were never financially secure but lived day to day. D.A. Carson grew up extremely poor. Tom eventually, discouraged, left ministry and went to work for the civil service. He struggled mightily (as do I) with administrative and organizational tasks. But as his son put it, there is no verse in the bible that says “blessed are you who are organized and skilled at administration.”

 

This was a great encouragement for me—I often wonder if I am qualified to do anything because of how disorganized I am. I was going through a box of keepsakes I recently came across and in it was a chart my mom made me when I was about 11; it was one of many attempts made by others to help me get organized. For as long as I can remember I have struggled in this area but nothing really, ever changes. So reading that another minister struggled with that and to read Carson’s appraisal of those skills really lifted my spirit.

 

But Tom devoted himself to knowing the Word of God, and to seeking to do God’s will. Even after he left ministry he effectively became the associate pastor for the church he started to attend. When they sought to hire him as their associate, the head minister pointed out that Tom was already doing everything in the job description and more.

 

The book challenged me because it made me question my devotional life: my prayers and my attention to Scripture. These last months have been hard beyond measure and the harder they have gotten, the more I seem to have abandoned the rock on which my faith was built. So I have been challenged to really return to that—and I have and I have been reminded just how sweet the Lord is (Ps 34.8)

 

Finally, it is called the “Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor” because of what D.A. learned about his father after he died. People showed up at the funeral and told remarkable stories about Tom; things he had done for them, visitations made at just the right moment, a word shared exactly when it was needed—and none of these events showed up in Tom’s daily journals or even in his list of visitations. As D.A. Carson observes, “Some of these visits are briefly alluded to in his journals, but one would never guess from the entries what had gone on. Why should such matters be reported? Tom was simply serving as an ordinary pastor.”

 

I am currently now working through J. Graham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. My primary goal here is to familiarize myself with Machen through this classic work. If there were any take away I have learned thus far in reading it, it would be that ministers of the gospel must not be afraid to take a stand when it comes to the purity of our doctrine and the centrality of the cross.

Fall Harvest Mind Crusher (Mead)

Today I bottled two meads: the blueberry pancake mead and the red bamboo mead. In a couple of months I will hopefully be able to provide an update on how they taste. Both of those were new recipes. Today I also made a mead, but it is an old, familiar one called Fall Harvest Mind Crusher. Technically, the mead I made today is a cyser–but who is keeping track. This is our (my wife and I) favorite mead. It tastes amazing and everyone who has tried it enjoyed it as well. Fall Harvest is based on an existing recipe but my version is modified. As with all of my meads, this is for a 1 gallon batch.

Fall Harvest Mind Crusher

  • 2lbs Honey
  • 1 gallon of cider or apple juice (I used organic because it was on sale and cheaper than non-organic).
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon)
  • 1/2 TBSP of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 packet of Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast

Now, technically this is a cyser because it is cider and honey mixed together. But it is easier to just call it a mead when I share it with someone. Let this go for several months and then bottle it, let it sit for more months. We have a couple from last year we will probably enjoy over the summer. It tastes good in the fall but really, with those flavors it tastes good all the time.

There is no picture this time because the picture of the original by the author of the original recipe is pretty sweet. Here is a link to the original recipe with a sweet picture of it bubbling away. Literally, bubbling away.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/fall-harvest-mind-crusher-317341/

The search is over!

One of the common problems gluten free beer drinkers (and homebrewers) run into is the absence of good head retention. There are numerous threads on this on the Homebrewtalk GF forum as well as essays, blog posts, etc out on the worldwide web. In the past, I have spent a lot of time reading what others have attempted and experimenting with ingredients…to no avail! There is actually head retention powder available for purchase. It is basically guar gum. When I learned that was the primary ingredient, I thought about using xantham gum (since I had some on hand), but I never did go that route.

One day, I read an article on the proper way to clean your beer glasses. Turns out, I was cleaning my glasses wrong. Now, I use soap on the exterior of my glass, and around the lip (where I put my lips!) and use very, very hot water to wash out the inside of the glass. But never soap on the inside, only hot water!

Since following the advice of the article I have discovered something: my gluten free beers have great head retention! Not only do the beers (once aged properly of course!) pour a great frothy head, but the head stays there as you drink the beer. On my dunkel, there is significant lacing of the glass. So much so that I’m wondering if I’ll have to scrub it!

So there ya have it. Throw what you thought you knew about cleanliness out the window and all of your problems (at least head retention on gluten free beer problems) will be solved!

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The proof! (Transfiguration IPA)

Philippians 4.10-13: “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Do right!

I am fairly certain that everyone has a song which they identify with; a song that on some deep level sums up how they feel and interact with the world. This song is sometimes called one’s “soundtack”. And I am also fairly certain that after 31 years on this earth my soundtrack would be Do Right! By Jimmie’s Chicken Shack. Because, let’s be honest: what do I do right?

If you are curious, here is a link to the music video. Listen carefully to the lyrics. What do I do right? Nothing.