It is exasperating to watch American cooking shows or read cooking magazines with their constant mentions of store-bought meat or seafood stock.

There is no reason why we cannot prepare our own at home. It is a responsible, simple and economical use of the meat and seafood that we purchase.

In our household, we use stock all the time, not only for sauces and gravies but also for cooking vegetables and potatoes. Stock adds much more flavour than water and, if you make it yourself, it’s free.

What follows are stock tips!

Basics

Professional chefs say, ‘Stock boiled is stock spoiled’. That said, I have not noticed any difference in taste if I’ve inadvertently left the stock pot boiling.

To further reduce the liquid and intensify the flavour, keep simmering for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Leave the finished stock to cool and absorb more flavour overnight. If your kitchen is very warm, decant everything into a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

The next day, strain the stock into a large mixing jug and use a funnel to decant into a clean soda/mixer/spirits bottle. Put the cap on and refrigerate.

To freeze stock, use small plastic containers with lids.

Stock made without aromatics — e.g. herbs, vermouth — will stay fresh in the refrigerator for at least two, if not three, weeks.

Stock with aromatics — and fish/seafood — will last a few days in the fridge but should be frozen if you have no plans to use it immediately. They go mouldy remarkably quickly.

I used to add port or Noilly Prat to meat and seafood stock, respectively, but I don’t bother anymore. I didn’t think they added much flavour to the stock and were put to better use once in making a sauce.

Fish and seafood

Chefs advise against using bones from oily fish (i.e. salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring) for stock. As for seafood, any lobster, crab, prawn or crayfish shells can be used. They can also be combined for enhanced flavour.

Fish

Bones from bass, bream and other white fish make good stock which can be used for fish sauces or stews.

As the bones do not supply a robust flavour, use a smaller saucepan. Put the bones and heads, if you have them, into the pan, add water to cover and let cook over medium-low heat just until they come up to the boil. This takes about 45 minutes. Turn down the heat, season with salt and pepper and allow the stock to simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how concentrated you want the flavour to be.

Let rest overnight or refrigerate before straining the next day.

Seafood

Generally, one can adopt Guy Fieri‘s ‘Everybody in the pool!’ here, with a few exceptions outlined below.

Seafood shells can also be combined with fish bones for extra flavour.

Crab and lobster: Both have feathery looking ‘dead man’s fingers’ — lungs — which are toxic. Remove and discard them before adding the rest of the shells to the stock pot.

Lobster: Depending on where you live, tomalley (from the Caribbean ‘tumali’) — the green stuff (liver, pancreas) in the head — may be dangerous or a delicacy. The US and Canada have warned people not to eat it because it is toxic and can cause paralysis. As we have no such restrictions in the UK, I add it to my sauces rather than the stock pot. In short, if you live in North America, throw it out with the dead man’s fingers. Those living elsewhere can use their own discretion. Tomalley, when untainted, has a marvellous, highly concentrated lobster flavour. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

Prawns: The heads have the most flavour, so be sure to add them along with the shells. However, the larger the prawn, the larger the waste canal. The really huge ones sometimes have waste slipping into the head. You can remove this with a kitchen towel and put the head in the pot. On that subject, once you remove the shell, carefully slide a knife lengthwise down the centre of the back of the prawn and prise out the waste canal. Discard immediately.

Skim any froth when cooking. Leaving it in may cause flatulence.

The higher the density of shells, the greater the flavour. Follow the instructions under Basics above for length of cooking, resting and decanting.

Meat

Sunday roasts are a staple in our house. They also mean we can have roast dinner the first half of the week, requiring simple reheating and fewer pots and pans. If more people roasted meat, they’d find cooking less of a chore. In most cases, it really is only a matter of putting a joint of meat into a roasting tin and sticking it in the oven unattended for 90 minutes at 180° C (350° F).

Roasted bones

Before carving the meat, have a large pot set aside so that you can put any bones into it straightaway. That way, you free up room on the tray as you carve.

This applies to poultry (including the carcass), beef, veal and pork.

Follow the instructions under Basics above for length of cooking, resting and decanting.

Raw bones

Escoffier advised that one should always sear raw bones with a bit of fat in a frying pan before making stock with them.

Not only does the caramelisation add flavour but one also avoids the semi-solid lumps of meat and blood by-products that spoil stock’s appearance.

Making stock with raw bones takes 30 – 45 minutes longer because they need to be thoroughly cooked. After cooking, follow the instructions under Basics above for length of cooking, resting and decanting.

Why use raw bones? If you are stuffing chicken legs, breasts or pork chops — or curing your own bacon from pork belly — you can put the bones to good use rather than throwing them in the bin.

Ham

Taking a tip from my grandmother, I always boil rather than roast a ham. The cooking water can be decanted for stock and makes a great base for soup.

Ham stock is also excellent for cooking black eyed peas.

Mixed stock

Purists often like to keep stock isolated by meat type, however, a professional chef on television recently used a combination of poultry and pork stock from the same container.

Because I sometimes have more stock than will fit in one bottle, I have another bottle on hand for the excess. My most flavoursome stock was a mix of chicken, pork and duck. I used it to make a soup which required very little extra seasoning.

So, yes, you can combine various meat stocks!

Aspic-like stock

For gelatinous stocks, use cooking liquid from boiled bacon (ham) collar, pig trotters (your butcher can supply these) and poultry wings. Once chilled, the liquid becomes jelly-like.

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I hope these suggestions pique more interest in the versatility of homemade stock. You’ll be delighted at the flavour they add!

John F MacArthurYesterday’s Forbidden Bible Verses examined Luke 17:20-27, wherein Christ discusses the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 24, our Lord explained that the world would endure many travails before that time.

Today, many believers over the age of 50 wonder what happened to our secure Western world where, even when people didn’t attend church often, our societies respected biblical values.

John MacArthur’s monthly letter for September 2014 discusses the Church’s travails today. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Perhaps, like me, you grew up in America when there was widespread, cultural Christianity. There was a kind of Christian consensusTo some degree, people understood the church, the Bible, and the gospel.  They accepted the Judeo-Christian ethic.  While most people weren’t genuine Christians, there was still superficial acceptance—or, at least, tolerance—of a cultural Christianity in politics, business, education, and public life.

But where are we today?There is no more cultural Christianity; there is no collective Christian consensus wielding any significant power in this country.  In fact, the more biblically that true Christians speak and live, the more they are being labeled as extremists, homophobic, intolerant, and guilty of hate crimes.  We are now aliens.  And I think we can all foresee a day when being a faithful Christian will cost us or our children dearly, and in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a decade ago.  I think we’re closer than ever to living in conditions like the people did in the book of Acts.

His letter says that the first Christians, a number of whose experiences feature in Acts, led difficult lives with some dying as martyrs for the faith.

Although many mainstream American clergy would say that Western churchgoers are far from being persecuted, the trend in Europe is towards a continuous denigration of Christianity which started in the last century and ramped up gradually after the Second World War. The same trend is coming to the United States, just at a slower rate of speed.

MacArthur also takes issue with churchgoers who think along extremist lines as well as those who adopt an everyone-is-saved outlook:

For years I’ve been concerned by the church’s pursuit of cultural change through political and social activities.  Large swaths of Christians have placed enormous time, energy, money, and hope in the wrong placesHand in glove with that thinking, superficial, cultural Christianity has blurred the clear lines between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world, and has softened the hard demands of the gospel, making professing Christ easy and without cost.  As a result, churches have been filled with highly religious, superficially moral, self-righteous people who don’t understand the gospel and are self-deceived about their true spiritual state.

We’re in a lot of trouble, certainly.

That said, MacArthur sees a silver lining now that Christianity stands in such sharp relief against an increasingly secular world.

His solution is a simple yet powerful one:

Scripture teaches and church history confirms that the Body of Christ is most potent and most effective when it simply speaks and lives the gospel without equivocation or apology.  With the mask of superficial Christianity gone, I believe the best days for the spread of the true gospel are ahead of us.

The gospel advances by personal testimony to Christ, one soul at a time.  When the church acts like the church; when shepherds preach Scripture and confront error with clarity and boldness; when believers are sanctified, built up, and equipped in truth; people are saved.  And that’s when the culture truly changes—nothing transforms the culture like genuine conversion.

As Christ said (Luke 17:21):

the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

MacArthur echoes this:

Our confidence is in Christ and His perfect, powerful Word.  Nothing brings us greater joy than seeing that confidence spread in and through God’s people, to His glory and honor.

I know a vicar who is determined that his congregation do something ‘big’ and bombastic (in the nicest sense of the word) for their local community. Thankfully, no one has contributed any suggestions as to what this might be. Still, he perseveres because he says that our God is a ‘great, mighty’ God. Therefore, they must do something works-based to show their faith.

So wrong on so many levels!

Isaiah 64:6 says:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

If this vicar and his congregation were to adopt MacArthur’s long-standing approach of preaching and teaching nothing but Christ through Holy Scripture, then they truly would be honouring a great and mighty God. This doesn’t mean giving sermonettes and handing out tracts on street corners, but it does require that believers competently answer questions on what they believe and why they believe it. This involves prayer and regular Bible reading. The latter, in particular, moves us away from error and easy-grace Christianity.

May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit prevail upon them and us to adopt John MacArthur’s decades long — and highly successful — one-soul-at-a-time conversion to biblical Christianity.

May God continue to bless those converts and those who have returned to the faith after a long absence.

Bible kevinroosecomContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? You decide.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and Thomas Coke. Coke (1747-1814) was a Welsh lawyer and mayor who later became the first Methodist bishop and Father of Methodist Missions.

Luke 17:20-27

The Coming of the Kingdom

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

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The Pharisees had a worldly idea of what the kingdom of God would be and their enquiry of Jesus (verse 20) is a mocking one. How could this humble man before them possibly know anything of the long-awaited kingdom?

Thomas Coke’s commentary explains:

They had very grand notions of the extent of the Messiah’s kingdom, the number of his subjects, the strength of his armies, the pomp and eclat of his court; and were eager to have that glorious empire speedily erected; or, being inveterate enemies of our Lord, they might ask the question in derision, because every thing about Jesus was so unlike to the Messiah whom they expected.

Jesus told them that the kingdom would not manifest itself in these ways. Matthew Henry says that our Lord’s answer was intended more for the disciples than the Pharisees. The disciples were better able to understand it. The Pharisees’ hearts and minds were closed to Jesus and His message.

Jesus also warned against false prophets talking about their own divination and predictions (verse 21). This was an immediate message to the Jews but also to us today to ignore preachers and notionally Christian authors who arrive at a date for the end of the world. No one knows when the Second Coming will occur.

He elaborates on this in the ensuing verses, specifically directed towards the disciples — and us: the dark days of persecution and waning of faith which makes us long for Christ’s return (verse 22); another warning against following false prophets (verse 23); the statement that His return will be accompanied by terrifying circumstances (verse 24).

For now, the kingdom of God is a spiritual one inside each believer. God’s grace and the Holy Spirit are working through us quietly. Henry tells us (emphases mine):

The kingdom of God will not change men’s outward condition, but their hearts and lives. Then it comes when it makes those humble, and serious, and heavenly, that were proud, and vain, and carnal,–when it weans those from the world that were wedded to the world and therefore look for the kingdom of God in the revolutions of the heart, not of the civil government.

Therefore, it is not liberation theology, big government, theonomy or ecological dogmas which are intended to bring about utopia, heaven on earth or the Second Coming.

Jesus says in Matthew 24:

6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.

 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Note especially the last verse: that the Gospel will be spread to every corner of the world and then the end comes. We have not reached that point yet, and as one popular Christian online plug-in shows, many remote peoples have still not heard the Good News.

In verse 25, Jesus alludes to His own rejection and death, which must occur before anything else can happen related to the heavenly kingdom. During His ministry, the Jewish establishment actively rejected Him, taunting Him wherever He went.

In verses 26 and 27, He refers to the world in Noah’s time. I posted recently on the biblical account of Noah and his family which gives the background to our Lord’s reference here. God sent the flood because (Genesis 6:5-8):

5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Jesus says that the Second Coming will take place in similar circumstances. He will come whilst people are going about their daily business with many sinning through revelry, hate and evil.

Daily news reports concern war, crime and atrocities so appalling that it is hard to imagine how much worse things can get. We also live in an increasingly secular Western society. Yet, our Lord calls upon us to stand firm in the faith, as did Noah, regardless of the sin around us.

Henry’s commentary discusses the waxing and waning of the Church:

This looks forward to his disciples in after-ages they must expect much disappointment the gospel will not be always preached with equal liberty and success. Ministers and churches will sometimes be under outward restraints. Teachers will be removed into corners, and solemn assemblies scattered. Then they will wish to see such days of opportunity as they have formerly enjoyed, sabbath days, sacrament days, preaching days, praying days[:] these are days of the Son of man, in which we hear from him, and converse with him. The time may come when we may in vain wish for such days. God teaches us to know the worth of such mercies by the want of them. It concerns us, while they are continued, to improve them, and in the years of plenty to lay up in store for the years of famine. Sometimes they will be under inward restraints, will not have such tokens of the presence of the Son of man with them as they have had. The Spirit is withdrawn from them they see not their signs the angel comes not down to stir the waters there is a great stupidity among the children of men, and a great lukewarmness among the children of God then they shall wish to see such victorious triumphant days of the Son of man as they have sometimes seen, when he has ridden forth with his bow and his crown, conquering and to conquer, but they will not see them. Note, We must not think that Christ’s church and cause are lost because not always alike visible and prevailing

The most important things we can do are to pray for more grace and wisdom during these trying times — and to know what God expects of us. May we take this opportunity and use it wisely, especially where our children are concerned. They, especially, will need to know how to conduct themselves in the years ahead during difficult times among sinful people.

Next week’s entry continues our Lord’s discourse on His Second Coming.

Next time: Luke 17:28-37

My grandmother used to make this soup during the summer, although she used French beans because they were more plentiful.

She put a serving of pork steak — which had been cooked in the soup — on a side plate. One had the option of adding it to the bowl after having eaten most of the soup (which my parents did). Alternatively, one could add the meat to the soup straightaway (which I did). Either way, it was a memorable meal in a bowl.

My version below is particularly tailored towards a high fat low carb ketogenic diet.

Notes:

1/ Using good stock as a base for the soup adds much more flavour than using water.

2/ Fat adds not only flavour but also satiety, eliminating one’s need for carbohydrate.

3/ You will need a deep pot for this; I use a Le Creuset size E (4.2 litres or 4 1/2 quarts).

4/ This soup tastes even better when made the day before. As Grandma would say, ‘It’ll be good tomorrow!’

Runner bean soup with pork steak

(Prep time: 30 min.; cooking time: 2 hrs; serves four)

Ingredients:

1200g (approx. 2 1/2 lb) pork steak

600g (approx. 1 1/3 lb) prepared, sliced runner beans (the link has instructions)

1.2 litres (5 cups) of flavoursome meat stock

2 large (or 3 small) shallots, finely chopped

2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped

2 – 3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 to 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

5 tbsp fat (butter, goose, duck fat or a combination thereof)

2 – 3 tbsp flour

120 ml (4 oz) whole milk

Salt, pepper, cayenne, Old Bay to taste

Method:

1/ In a large, deep pot melt 2 tbsp of fat over medium heat and lightly season it.

2/ When the fat is hot, add the pork steaks to the pot and seal the meat on both sides. This takes between five and seven minutes. Turn the steaks over halfway through.

3/ Take the meat out of the pot and put on a plate. The meat is added to the soup to cook with the beans later (see Step 10 below).

4/ Add the other three tbsp of fat to the pot, season and, once melted, add the shallots. Cook until translucent. This takes between five to seven minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

5/ When the shallots are properly cooked, add the scallions, the red bell pepper and the garlic. Stir well and cook until tender and translucent.

6/ Add the flour to the vegetable mixture and stir well to throroughly incorporate. Let the flour cook for two to three minutes until golden brown.

7/ Add the stock little by little to the floury vegetable mixture and stir well with each addition of liquid. There should be no lumps. You are making a roux, which will add body to the soup.

8/ When the stock has been fully incorporated, add the beans, stir and cook for 15 minutes. Skim any frothy residue from the sides of the pot and discard. (It’s important to do this, otherwise, those eating it might be gassy later on!)

9/ When the beans are nearly tender, add the milk and stir well.

10/ Add the pork steaks back to the pot. There is no need to break the meat up at this point.

11/ After the meat has cooked for 15 minutes, skim any frothy residue and discard.

12/ Put a lid on the pot, turn the heat down to low and let the soup cook for another 60 to 90 minutes. Check every half hour to see if there is more residue to skim. After skimming, if necessary, stir the pot to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.

13/ When the soup is finished, the beans and meat will be tender yet still holding their shape. The shallots and scallions will have dissolved into the soup and the red pepper pieces will provide a pleasant contrasting colour. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Stir well after adding seasoning.

14/ Take the pot off the heat and set aside on another burner. Put the lid on askew to allow a bit of air to get in the pot. Unless your kitchen is really warm, it should be fine to rest overnight. However, if it not, let the soup cool thoroughly and put into a Pyrex container, cover and refrigerate.

15/ Reheat at a medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like, you can break up the meat roughly into bite-sized pieces or cut the steaks into four equal portions and place them on a side plate.

 

University students and others just starting out on their own in flats or shared houses might wonder how they can prepare tasty, restaurant quality meals at home without breaking the bank.

The following staples have served my better half and me very well over the course of our 20+-year marriage. I hope you find them equally helpful.

Kitchen cupboard staples

1/ Decent sea salt. We use fine sea salt which alleviates the need for a grinder. A little goes a long way and a 350g (approx. 12 oz) container lasts us several weeks. Ours costs less than £1.

2/ Garlic — fresh or puréed. Garlic is the basis for so many sauces and main dishes; it really is a must-have.

3/ Garlic salt. Garlic salt was one of my mother’s staple ingredients. It adds that extra something to any savoury dish, including mashed potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and sauces. It also comes in handy when one has run out of garlic or garlic purée. Dollar stores and pound shops enable the shrewd buyer to get several months’ worth of an off-brand garlic salt for a song. I can’t live without it.

4/ Rainbow peppercorns. I started buying these in 1999, having had them in France that summer. You can buy a huge bag of these online which you can then decant into a pepper mill. You’ll appreciate the expanded flavour profile they add to any savoury dish.

5/ Cayenne pepper. A few years ago, I began buying cayenne for the odd dish or two. Since then, I’ve been adding it to everything. Besides adding that nuance of heat, it’s also very good for neutralising saltiness.

6/ Good, creamy butter. A good butter that doesn’t melt when sitting out on the countertop means that it has a lot of cream and very little air in it. Surprisingly, supermarket own brands offer great value, high quality butter for much less than the market leaders.

7/ Quality dark chocolate. This is another product which I used to stock up on when on holiday in France or Spain not so long ago. Now it’s widely available; as with butter, supermarket own brands offer superb quality at a reasonable price.

8/ Umami ingredients. When it comes to savoury sauces and sautéeing vegetables, we don’t need to go out and buy a special tube of sauce. We throw out a lot of umami ingredients, yet, saving many of them from the bin or the kitchen sink can enhance the most ordinary dishes. Olive brine is great in sauces as is the leftover oil and salt in the anchovy jar.

9/ The right flour for the job. Pizza dough and homemade pasta require type ’00’ — or type ‘0’ at least. Bread flour makes excellent Yorkshire puddings, especially popovers baked in a muffin tin. Restaurant quality food is possible at home, and flour is an important part of it.

10/ Good yeast. The US has better brands of yeast than many other countries. Here in the UK, I have turned to French yeast for my bread and pizza needs. Whatever brand you choose, ordering in bulk is much better value than buying a cube or a small box of packets.

11/ A fat bowl. Start your fat bowl here!

12/ Dark fruit jam or jelly (US meaning). This is also good for savoury dishes. My mother used to use grape jelly in her meat sauces to tone down saltiness. I use damson jam for that purpose — and to add a hint of fruit to gravies for duck and game.

Money-saving seasoning tip: Whenever I melt butter or fat, I always season it with a bit of salt, garlic salt, ground rainbow peppercorns and cayenne before adding vegetables or meat to the pan. This saves on seasoning because the flavour cooks into the ingredients. It’s rare that I need to add additional seasoning at the end or put salt and pepper on the table.

Kitchen utensils and equipment

1/ Quality chopping / pastry board. My grandmother had a small marble pastry board which served her well most of her life. (She died at the age of 93, if that helps to convince you!) My better half and I bought one just before we got married for £10. I am happy to see that nearly a quarter of a century on, the price hasn’t risen much. We use it for everything: dough, pastry, chopping, cooling — you name it. As long as you wipe it clean after chopping veg or working with fruit, it doesn’t stain.

2/ Decent knife set. I rely on a set of slightly serrated Japanese knives made for Henckels which didn’t cost the earth. They’re still in use and a delight because they never need sharpening.

3/ Garlic press. The shallow, round ones work much better and are easier to clean than the deep, square models.

4/ Large serrated spoon. These are indispensable for dishing up watery vegetables and poached eggs; no one appreciates the school canteen lake on a plate.

5/ Pizza cutter. No explanation needed!

6/ Solid rolling pin. ‘Solid’ here means ‘one-piece’. Nothing is more frustrating and inefficient than the two-piece models. A solid rolling pin guarantees you’ll be baking all sorts of pies.

7/ Hand-held electric mixer. It used to be easy to buy good own brands in the supermarket but not anymore. However, there are still decently priced models on the market that really do have multiple speeds from folding to turbo mixing. Beware mixers that have a lot of holes in the front which will blow flour, cocoa or powdered sugar all over the kitchen!

8/ Pans with lids. If you haven’t inherited any from the family, please make sure that you buy pans with lids, even if the latter cost extra. They’ll save you a fortune in gas bills because the lid will help food cook more quickly.

9/ Glass jars with lids. If your budget is tight, why not clean and reuse glass jars from mayonnaise, jam, olives and so on? We have a lot of plastic containers which I use only for the freezer as they are lighter weight. Everything else, it seems, keeps and even increases flavour better in glass. I noticed this ten years ago with gravy and sauces. The flavour intensifies overnight. I then noted how leftover meats and casseroles tasted stored in Pyrex dishes with lids compared with plastic lidded containers. Other than for portable lunches or freezer items — and provided there are only competent adults in the house — glass jars are excellent for storing leftovers. If you can find rectangular Pyrex baking dishes with lids, so much the better. SpouseMouse bought a set over a decade ago, and they are brilliant. Bake a casserole, serve half of it, put the lid on and stick it in the fridge.

10/ Food processor with attachments. Although the average price for a good food processor with all the attachments is around £100, this appliance is a cook’s best friend. It’s well worth the investment. Depending on the attachment, mine makes bread dough, bread crumbs, chopped nuts, vegetable juices, steak tartare and chicken liver pâté. I couldn’t live without it.

I hope this has helped novice cooks plan their first kitchen. Other suggestions are welcome in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

Early in our marriage, my better half who is English got me started on an old family tradition of his: the fat bowl.

As traditional roast potatoes are a staple in England, one needs high quality animal fat in order to guarantee a crispy, unctuous result.

We have maintained a large fat bowl in the refrigerator for over 20 years. When the post-Christmas goose fat runs out, we start roasting ducks and use their rendered fat. Over the past few years, I have begun rendering nearly any and all animal fat.

I have been following a low carb high fat (LCHF) way of eating — the ketogenic diet — since late April. I have never felt better or more satisfied after a meal.

Incidentally, The Goose Fat Information Service (based in Oxford) has statistics on not only goose but also other animal fats.

If you are following LCHF, whether fully ketogenic or not, what follow are my suggestions for creating a fat bowl.

You will need a decent sized Pyrex mixing bowl for goose fat. For other fats, which render a lesser amount, use a smaller bowl and a clean glass jar (e.g. mayonnaise) with a lid.

And do remember the oven gloves — along with sobriety! Rendered fat is dangerously hot.

Goose fat

A turkey baster is essential for siphoning goose fat from the roasting pan. If you’re planning on having goose for Christmas and don’t have one, buy a baster beforehand.

You will also need a rack sitting on top of your roasting tin so that the fat can drain freely.

While it’s roasting, the goose needs to be taken out of the oven every half hour so that excess fat can be drained. This can be difficult to do single-handedly, so ask another responsible adult to help, if necessary.

Before removing the roasting pan from the oven, place a large wooden cutting board on the floor, right in front of the oven.

Carefully take the roasting tin out of the oven and place it on the board. Have the turkey baster and a large Pyrex bowl nearby. Use the baster to siphon the fat and release it into the bowl.

When the goose is done, remove it to a carving tray and drain the rest of the fat from the roasting tin into the bowl.

Put the bowl on a trivet or small chopping board, because it will be very hot.

Leave the bowl on the countertop for a few days, even a week. It ends up being more solid than goose fat put in the refrigerator within 24 hours.

It is the best fat for roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.

Duck fat

Over the past few years, there has been a significant reduction in fat on English ducks.

I used to be able to get a small Pyrex bowl of fat from one duck, now I barely get a quarter of a cup.

Many home cooks might not realise that a duck is likely to contain two less obvious portions of fat. These are just inside the cavity, one on either side.

Gently pry these fat pockets loose with your fingers and put them in a small saucepan. Put the pan on medium-low heat to render. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the two fat bits over halfway through to ensure thorough rendering. Take care that the fat does not splatter; if it does, turn the heat down to low.

When the fat has rendered, turn the heat off and let the pan cool well before pouring the fat into a 100g (3.5 oz) jar.

Before roasting, place the duck on a rack to sit on the roasting pan, as with goose. When the duck is done, remove it to a carving tray and drain the fat into a small bowl before adding it to the jar. It could well cause the jar to crack if it is too hot.

Leave the fat to cool overnight, then put the lid on the jar and refrigerate.

This is excellent for roasting potatoes and for Yorkshire pudding.

Pork fat – lard and crackling

These days it’s hard to find a good joint of pork with a rim of fat that is 2 cm (1″) thick. (N.B.: The following applies only to fresh pork, not ham.)

However, in order to make decent crackling, you’ll need that amount of fat.

Crackling is a British tradition, one which turns roast pork into a delicacy.

The only recipe that works for me is Gary Rhodes‘s. He had his own television series in the 1990s which I watched often. It’s time the BBC reran it. (Rhodes, incidentally, began cooking as a teenager when his mother was at work and his siblings were little. He’d get home from school and prepare dinner from scratch. It was something he volunteered to do.)

Rhodes carefully cut off nearly all the fat in one piece — this takes a while to do at home — and generously salted both sides before placing it in a separate (and smaller) roasting tin.

While the joint (with a thin rim of fat) was cooking in the main roasting pan, he put the crackling pan on another shelf to render. Both finished at the same time, although, while the meat is resting, the crackling can continue to render quite comfortably in the oven.

Drain any excess fat from the crackling tin into a small bowl to cool on a trivet before putting in a 100g (3.5 oz) glass jar. Break the cooled crackling into smaller irregular slices or pieces then serve alongside the meat. Delicious!

You can wrap any leftover crackling in aluminium foil and reheat uncovered in the oven at 150° C (300° F) for 10 minutes the next day.

Leave the drained pork fat on the countertop overnight, put a lid on the jar and refrigerate. The solidified product is lard.

Homemade lard is much tastier and better performing than the commercial product. Therefore, if you can render your own pork fat, it’s well worth it, especially for pan fried breaded fish and vegetables and homemade roasted oven chips (fries).

Beef dripping

As with duck and pork, finding a fatty joint of beef is becoming more difficult. There used to be a nice clump of fat sitting along the rib bones which I used to render.

A butcher might be able to supply a bag of fatty offcuts. These lumps of fat can render nicely in a small saucepan (see Duck fat, above).

That said, the average joint of beef can still provide a small quantity — several tablespoons — of beef dripping which you can use for homemade chips, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.

As with the other aforementioned fats, let this cool overnight before putting the lid on the jar and refrigerating.

Beef fat has a tendency to smoke when rendering and roasting. Place a dash or two of salt on it to prevent this from happening.

Chicken fat (schmaltz) and skin

After roasting a chicken, I pour the few spoonsful of rendered fat in a very small pudding bowl or jar and refrigerate it to use later when sautéeing vegetables.

Although I have been flattening out the skin and reheating it the next day uncovered in the oven (150° C (300° F) for 10 minutes) for a while, it is gratifying to see that professional chefs around the UK and the US are popularising this reuse of a tasty ingredient.

The crispy chicken skin can top or be propped up against a serving of meat or vegetables. It really is a melt-in-the-mouth delight.

Use fat only once — and sparingly

Rendered fat should be used only once for cooking then discarded. Otherwise, it can oxidise and eventually become carcinogenic. Therefore, even if it still looks clear, why jeopardise health and encourage the aging process by reusing it again and again?

I did see one fat bowl years ago which was actually a brownish black. New fat was added to old and the whole thing reused so many times it must have been a health hazard. Ugh!

The other bit of advice is to not use too much. An excess of fat can clog drains. Therefore, less is more:

Roast potatoes / oven chips: 1 level tbsp for a small quantity, 2 level tbsp for a large quantity.

Yorkshire pudding: 1 tbsp for one large one; if using a muffin tin, put 1/3 teaspoon in each section.

Sauteeing vegetables or browning meat: no more than 2 tbsp, generally 1 tbsp suffices.

The bits at the bottom

The bits at the bottom of the fat bowl or jar generally have too much meat juice to be used for frying or roasting.

However, their fattiness and flavour are perfect for sauteeing vegetables or browning meat.

Rendering and using animal fat is making use of as much of the animal as possible.

I hope that many more home cooks will discover the joys and glories of the fat bowl along with LCHF/ketogenic ways of eating!

The summer of 2014 has produced a surfeit of runner beans in southern England.

Not surprisingly, many shy away from this delicious vegetable because of its stringiness. Nearly every oversized runner bean has at least one dreaded, fibrous string.

Hoping she doesn’t mind, I have borrowed Shaheen’s marvellous picture of runner beans for those who do not know what they look like. Her entry on A Seasonable Veg Table (Allotment2Kitchen) explains that, although this is one of Britain’s most prolific vegetables, the runner bean is of South American origin.

To prepare runner beans for cooking, I do the following, which yields favourable comments:

1/ Top and tail the beans. With ordinary green beans, I often keep the curly bit on the end, but the runner bean’s is too fibrous to cook, so I discard it.

2/ As I top and tail, I run my paring knife down the length of the bean on both sides to remove any fibrous strings.

3/ I cut the beans on the bias (diagonally) in bite-sized pieces.

To cook runner beans, this is what I do:

1/ Sauté 50 – 60g (approx. 2 oz) of chopped pancetta or bacon in a shallow pan.

2/ When the pancetta/bacon bits are cooked, add 454g (1 lb) sliced runner beans to the pan and add just enough stock (or water) to cover. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. They should be al dente when done.

3/ Drain the cooking liquid, taking care to retain the pancetta/bacon pieces.

4/ Add a tablespoon or two of butter along with a dash or two of garlic salt or one clove of crushed garlic. Stir well until the bacon and garlic butter are evenly incorporated, then serve.

Making vegetables more interesting keeps both children and adults happy at table.

Keeping carbs to a minimum and fat relatively high with the ketogenic diet increases satiety, calms the mind and helps the body decrease fat stores. These buttery runner beans are deeply satisfying for health and taste buds.

I’ll have another runner bean recipe soon. It, too, is perfect for those on a low carb high fat eating plan.

The Adulterous Woman (Lorenzo Lotto, circa 1527-1529) One of the most unusual aspects of being a Christian in the 21st century is reading what seems to be a constant barrage of biblical reinterpretation by modern ‘experts’.

The Puritan Board forum has lively discussions on Scripture. A recent one concerned the verses John 7:53 (‘They each went to his own house’) through to John 8:11, about which I wrote in 2011.

Bibles often have a notation saying that these verses were not in early editions of the New Testament. I’ll explore that below.

However, in general, it is galling to run across so many modern ‘expert’ opinions on the Bible, as if everyone from the early doctors of the Church to, say, clergy of the mid-20th century were talking out of their collective hat. Atheists often make good use of this modern ‘research’ to discredit Christianity.

In reading through the aforementioned Puritan Board forum thread, I nearly applauded when I read this comment by the Revd Bruce G Buchanan of the ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church in Central Lake, Michigan (emphases mine):

I, for one, will not abdicate my mature discernment to the opinions of “experts,” many of whom are not even believers (no matter how practically reliable their overall ability, or pure their intention). Why should a group of modern scholars–them[selves] not especially cognizant of standing in a long historic line of men equally dedicated to accuracy in transmission–determine for me that I should begin with suspicion of Jn.7:53-8:11 as coming from the Spirit of Christ; when 40-50 generations of my fathers heard Him very well in those same words? Perhaps even decline to share that testimony with me?

A Puritan Board entry from 2007 on the same passage explores these concerns. Admittedly, some ‘modern’ scholarship is actually quite old. That said, it has only been circulated widely in recent years.

As Steve ‘Jerusalem Blade’ Rafalsky, member of a Presbyterian church in Queens, NY, says:

This is a case in point, the destruction and confusion engendered by the secular antichristian criticism that came out of Germany (and Rome as well) some centuries ago. Now even genuine believers are in doubt as to what belongs and what does not belong in their Bibles!

And it will not get better, but worse as the years – and generations, should the Lord tarry a while – pass. Better a sure Bible with some antiquated words than an unsure one. It comes down to this, we have a “Critics’ Bible” and a “believers’ Bible”, the former torn to shreds by a methodology alien to faith, and the latter intact, though suffering ill-repute due to a concerted attack of slander. She remains pure nonetheless.

Rafalsky has spent years studying the Bible and the scholarship connected with it.

The contentious passage from John’s Gospel under discussion contains the story of Jesus forgiving the adulteress, telling her to go and sin no more.

Theologically, the passage is known as the pericope de adultera.

In supporting the pericope de adultera Rafalsky cites Edward F Hills’ The King James Version Defended, 4th Edition (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1984).  Excerpts follow:

The story of the woman taken in adultery (called the pericope de adultera) has been rather harshly treated by the modern English versions. The R.V. and the A.S.V. put it in brackets; the R.S.V. relegates it to the footnotes; the N.E.B. follows Westcott and Hort in removing it from its customary place altogether and printing it at the end of the Gospel of John as an independent fragment of unknown origin. The N.E.B. even gives this familiar narrative a new name, to wit, An Incident In the Temple. But as [John William] Burgon has reminded us long ago [1896], this general rejection of these precious verses is unjustifiable.

(a) Ancient Testimony Concerning the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11)

The story of the woman taken in adultery was a problem also in ancient times. Early Christians had trouble with this passage. The forgiveness which Christ vouchsafed to the adulteress was contrary to their conviction that the punishment for adultery ought to be very severe. As late as the time of Ambrose (c. 374), bishop of Milan, there were still many Christians who felt such scruples against this portion of John’s Gospel. This is clear from the remarks which Ambrose makes in a sermon on David’s sin. “In the same way also the Gospel lesson which has been read, may have caused no small offense to the unskilled, in which you have noticed that an adulteress was brought to Christ and dismissed without condemnation . . . Did Christ err that He did not judge righteously? It is not right that such a thought should come to our minds etc.” (32)

According to Augustine (c. 400), it was this moralistic objection to the pericope de adultera which was responsible for its omission in some of the New Testament manuscripts known to him. “Certain persons of little faith,” he wrote, “or rather enemies of the true faith, fearing, I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord’s act of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who had said ‘sin no more’ had granted permission to sin.” (33) Also, in the 10th century a Greek named Nikon accused the Armenians of “casting out the account which teaches us how the adulteress was taken to Jesus . . . saying that it was harmful for most persons to listen to such things.” (34)

That early Greek manuscripts contained this pericope de adultera is proved by the presence of it in the 5th-century Greek manuscript D. That early Latin manuscripts also contained it is indicated by its actual appearance in the Old Latin codices b and e. And both these conclusions are confirmed by the statement of Jerome (c. 415) that “in the Gospel according to John in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, is found the story of the adulterous woman who was accused before the Lord.” (35) There is no reason to question the accuracy of Jerome’s statement, especially since another statement of his concerning an addition made to the ending of Mark has been proved to have been correct by the actual discovery of the additional material in W. And that Jerome personally accepted the pericope de adultera as genuine is shown by the fact that he included it in the Latin Vulgate.

Rafalsky also cites John William Burgon’s The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, by John William Burgon, Edward Miller, ed. (London: George Bell And Sons, 1896), pages 247-249.

Here is a brief excerpt from Burgon demonstrating how widely the early Doctors of the Church cited this passage:

We are thus carried back to the second century of our era: beyond which, testimony does not reach. The pericope is observed to stand in situ [in the same place] in Codd. [Codexes] b c e ff g h j. Jerome (A.D. 385), after a careful survey of older Greek copies, did not hesitate to retain it in the Vulgate. It is freely referred to and commented on by himself in Palestine: while Ambrose at Milan (374) quotes it at least nine times; as well as Augustine in North Africa (396) about twice as often. It is quoted besides by Pacian, in the north of Spain,—by Faustus the African (400),—by Rufinus at Aquileia (400),—by Chrysologus at Ravenna (433),—by Sedulius a Scot (434). The unknown authors of two famous treatises written at the same period, largely quote this portion of the narrative. It is referred to by Victorius or Victorinus (457),—by Vigilius of Tapsus (484) in North Africa,—by Gelasius, bp. of Rome (492),—by Cassiodorus in Southern Italy,—by Gregory the Great, and by other Fathers of the Western Church.

Today’s revisionism regarding this passage and other reinterpretations of the Bible is some of the Devil’s finest work. We would do well to ignore it and read Holy Scripture as it is, being assured that it is the inspired work of the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday’s post featured the first four verses of Luke 17.

The Revd Matt Kennedy, rector of Good Shepherd Church in Binghamton, New York, and a regular columnist for Stand Firm, included Luke 17:2 — among other New Testament verses — in his recent article, ‘A Declaration of Principles for Reconciliation’.

Most of my readers know that The Episcopal Church (as well as other parts of the Anglican Communion) has been torn apart by gender-based discussions over the past decade.

Kennedy’s article explains that the Church must not encourage or condone that which Scripture forbids. Anyone who does promote these ideas and activities is a false teacher. False teachers must be removed by the church community until they repent and are forgiven, at which time they can be readmitted to full participation in it.

As the New Testament passages cited say, this means anything which would encourage serious sin by the believer (the ‘little ones’ to whom Christ refers below).

Excerpts from Kennedy’s post follow, emphases mine.

First from the Preamble:

… about those who encourage such sins Jesus said: “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”(Luke 17:1-2)

Heresy, as Bishop Fitz Allison wrote, is cruel. It is cruel because it offers joy and fulfillment but delivers emptiness and hopelessness because it is grounded in a misrepresentation of God’s nature and character. Therefore, the New Testament everywhere instructs Christian shepherds to identify false teachers and drive them from the flock of God.

It is for this reason — as well as John MacArthur’s idea that our inability to forgive may inhibit God’s blessings — that some Christians might not be fully experiencing worship and fellowship. We’re still desperately unhappy, possibly even clinically depressed, because of — or aided by — the skewed, false teaching we receive from the pulpit.

From the principles to which clergy should commit (which follow the preamble):

1. Since Christian fellowship necessarily involves mutual recognition of the legitimacy and validity of one another’s profession of faith, as well as congruence of belief in the same Gospel, Christian fellowship with false teachers who purport to be Christians, yet do not believe the Gospel and lead people away from Christ is impossible. Reconciliation in the church means restored fellowship. There can be no fellowship with false teachers unless and until they publicly repudiate their false teachings and repent for the injury they have done to the body of Christ.

3. The success of the ministry of a false teacher adds greater influence and authority to his office and teachings. More souls are set at risk, the body of Christ injured, the glory of Christ diminished. Therefore we will not cooperate, collaborate, promote, or aid the ministry of false teachers in any way.

9. Teachers in the Church are accountable to the word of God. Rank and high office in the Church come with increased responsibility to live and speak as ambassadors of Christ. Leaders must submit both their words and their deeds to the measure of scripture. We willingly submit to biblically faithful correction and accountability and commit to hold one another to fidelity to the truth of the Gospel and to our vows.

10. Christians are called to live lives of repentance. In carrying out all of these commitments we recognize that we fail and fall in many ways every day personally and professionally. It is by grace alone that we are saved through faith and this is not of ourselves, it is a gift from God and not of works that no man should boast. We commit to confess our sins daily and to seek God’s grace and mercy remaining mindful of our weaknesses.

Luring people into sin is a serious offence against God. Sin, encouraged by false teachers, makes us doubt God or makes us think that we are on a par with Him. It is deceiving and unsatisfying. Ultimately, it weakens our faith by enabling an overly enhanced belief in our own wills rather than a reliance on God’s grace.

Bible GenevaContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? You decide.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (sermons cited below).

Luke 17:1-4

Temptations to Sin

1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

——————————————————————————–

These first four verses of Luke 17 give us important lessons about sin, forgiveness and humility.

Jesus urged His disciples to disregard the Pharisees’ system of legalism and hypocrisy. The Pharisees talked about divine law and imposed an onerous burden on ordinary Jews, however, with the help of their colleagues the religious lawyers, found numerous loopholes for their own religious observance. Their elitist system allowed them to ignore the spiritual health of what they might have called ‘the lesser orders’ and possibly caused countless souls to be condemned for eternity.

Yet, as John MacArthur tells us, even the Old Testament pointed to salvation through imputed righteousness not meritorious works. He explains (emphases mine):

Genesis 15:6. Abraham or Abram believed God, and it was imputed to him as righteousness. Because he believed, God credited His own righteousness, completely alien to all of us, to Abraham. Psalm 103:17, “The loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting…listen to this…and His righteousness to children’s children.” He just keeps giving His righteousness to every generation of people who believe in Him.

How were you saved in the Old Testament? You were saved in the Old Testament by believing in God as sovereign Creator, all-holy Judge, understanding, therefore, your own sinfulness and repenting of it before God. Acknowledging the fact that salvation could come only on the basis of sovereign grace, because it couldn’t be earned. Embracing the fact that God is a forgiving God by nature. You come to Him offering nothing but your faith, no works whatsoever, realizing that if you were ever to enter into the presence of God and be considered righteous, it’s going to have to be because some alien righteousness is credited to your account. God will accept you on that basis until He can make you fully righteous in His presence.

Furthermore, as God forgives our sins, our responsibility is to forgive others. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) says:

forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

In the first verse of Luke 17, Jesus speaks against the Pharisees’ condemnation of Him and His ministry. It is also a warning to unbelievers and believers today. If we cause others to disregard Christ as our Saviour through our words and actions, we, too, will be condemned.

That can include all manner of sin which detracts from the Christian message. MacArthur says that the Greek word used there was skandalon, from which we get ‘scandal’, which originally referred to a baited trap:

When the animal grabs the bait, the stick is released, the trap is closed, the animal is caught. That’s a skandalon, it’s a trap. We know we live in a world of traps. We know we live in a world where people are going to be offended. God’s little ones, God’s children, believers, are going to be offended. And by offended, trapped, harmed, hindered. That’s what it’s talking about. The world is full of stumbling blocks. They’re all over the place, to seduce us directly into error, to seduce us into heresy and false understanding of the Scriptures, false understanding of God and Christ, to seduce us in false understandings of how we are to live our Christian lives. And there are scandalous temptations laid out there to directly or indirectly drive us toward sin. There are all kinds of bad examples and there are all kinds of things that lead us away from righteousness. The world is just filled with them and we, of all generations, are exposed to them in a way that prior generations have not been. There was a time, you know, in the world when you had to see the sinner do the sin to see sin. And now you can see the sinner sin at home pumped into your house on your TV. You can read the ugly details of the sinner and his sin in a book or a magazine or a paper or other media exposure. But there was a time when you had to see the sinner sin to know the sin occurred, but now you can experience it constantly in a barrage of images. It’s a different world and there are all kinds of seductions to evil. It’s inevitable that they come.

Our Lord tells us that it would be better to be drowned with a heavy stone around our neck than to cause others to sin (verse 2). Divine punishment will be that severe. MacArthur explains:

The one who sets the offense in motion is guilty before God…guilty before God. It’s a serious thing and God considers it a serious thing … It’s better to stop him now by an execution than to let him keep doing this because if he is a non-believer, he is only going to incur greater damnation, a hotter hell. If he’s a believer, he is only inviting greater chastening and forfeiture of eternal reward. Better that he be dead. Better that he die a horrific death now than to continue to offend and therefore accumulate ongoing damnation.

Why did Jesus choose drowning in this warning? Because it was a Roman import. The Jews were not only terrified of this method of punishment but also considered it as one for Gentiles. Therefore, Jesus’s words have added impact. MacArthur notes:

The Romans did that. The Jews did not do that. In fact, the rabbis taught that drowning was for Gentiles, not for Jews at all.

In verse 3, Jesus says the right thing to do is to call a sinner’s attention to his transgressions. If he acknowledges that he regrets them and turns his behaviour around — repents — then we are to forgive him (or her!). MacArthur says that Jesus speaks of persistent, serious sin:

So we beware of offending and we beware of being indifferent to the sins of others. The Pharisees, they didn’t care about the sinners … We don’t lead people into sin, we lead them out of it. And that starts with rebuke …

Matthew gives the process. The process, is if your brother sins you go to him. If he repents, you gain your brother. It’s over. If he doesn’t repent, you take two or three with you so that you can confront his sin again and confirm his response. If he still doesn’t repent, you tell the church and the whole church goes to call that person back. That’s a concern that holy people have for the debilitating sins that find their way into the lives of the fellowship. This is done out of love. You that are spiritual restore such a one in love…Galatians 6. We don’t sit by and watch some sinner go off into a pattern of sin without caring.

However, MacArthur warns that our Lord did not intend us to turn into nagging busybodies:

Not every sin is to be confronted, please. Love covers a multitude of sins. We don’t want this to go berzerk. It’s those sinful patterns, it’s those sins that are destructive, long-term pattern. It doesn’t mean that every time you say a thoughtless word, or every time you fail to do something you ought to have done, or you have a slip up here or there, somebody has to set confrontation in motion. No … I’ve giving my wife‘s testimony. She couldn’t live with me if she had to confront every failure in my life. This would be a rather dominating feature of life. Love covers. You couldn’t do that with a dear friend, you couldn’t do that even with your children, or children with parents. You couldn’t do that in the fellowship. But there are some sins that effect the life in a turning sense that send it in a new direction and impact the church, and those have to be dealt with. And for those kinds of things, forgiveness becomes conditional. And that’s what he’s talking about. It’s those kinds of sins that you rebuke that must be repented of.

Jesus concludes His brief discourse by saying that if someone sins against us multiple times — even in one day — and says that he repents each time, we are to forgive him each time (verse 4). MacArthur explains that if we do not forgive, God will not completely forgive us, even if we are eternally saved:

Until a believer forgives, he remains in a temporal sense unforgiven. While in an eternal sense we are forgiven, that’s in our justification, in a temporal sense we can be in a condition of being unforgiven in our sanctification. In one sense, all my sins are forgiven because Christ paid the penalty in full. But in another sense, as I go through this world and sin, God will not continually forgive me on a parental level, on a temporal level which opens up blessing and joy to me unless I am forgiving others.

No doubt a number of us have a nemesis in our families or at work or both. They’re draining influences. Our spirits fall a bit every time we encounter them. They might hold grudges against us and we against them. These can last for months or years. Alternatively, we might be angry with a certain institution, e.g. church, employer, political party.

This negative energy, MacArthur says, might well be preventing us from reaching peace of mind in our lives. On this subject, he has an interesting observation, which could well be true:

I think there are Christian people who have had their sins forgiven on an eternal sense, but on a temporal sense, they’re not enjoying the rich fellowship that they should with God and they’re undergoing discipline from Him because they don’t forgive others. They carry around bitterness. I think the emptiness in people’s lives, even those who are Christians, depression, dullness, lack of joy is often due to withheld blessing, withheld forgiveness, guilt and chastening from God.

Offline, I know many churchgoers and clergy who have no end of emotional or psychological problems. My better half often asks, ‘How can a churchgoer or clergyman be clinically depressed?’ MacArthur posits that reason, which seems plausible.

Our modern society is an unforgiving one, even though we believers are always talking about peace, unity and reconciliation. (We had more of all three in the old days when we weren’t talking about them all the time.)

Yet, we look in our hearts and are angry.

We are often calm on the outside, but what’s going on inside?

Some Anglicans are angry because we don’t have female bishops in most of the Anglican Communion. Some leftist churchmen are angry because we don’t have a ‘fair and just’ way of life in a fallen world. Traditionalists and modernists scoff or rail at each other’s interpretation of Christianity. Those are just a few church-oriented examples. The list is endless.

We would do well to pray for grace to forgive others and, in turn, be divinely forgiven. This is why I advocate prayer and Bible reading over a primary focus on things that will never be resolved in this world.

That doesn’t mean we should not try to improve the Church and the secular realm. However, if we turn our attention more to our everyday blessings — and learn to forgive others — we would find this task easier.

As Matthew Henry’s commentary for the first few verses of Luke 17 says:

That we have all need to get our faith strengthened, because, as that grace grows, all other graces grow. The more firmly we believe the doctrine of Christ, and the more confidently we rely upon the grace of Christ, the better it will be with us every way

Next time: Luke 17:20-27

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