It’s a new year and with a new year in the church comes new boards and committee officers. To aid in training and assisting those that will be training new secretaries for boards and committees I’ve created a notes form. This template can be used in the meeting to record the notes of the meeting and then used to type the formal minutes of the meeting. If you have new secretaries this year for your boards or committees give this resource a try to see if it helps them to record all that happens in a typical ministry meeting. You can find this template on the resources page.
Lent and Easter are my two favorite seasons of the church year and of the holiday seasons in general. I think I like them so much because they are less secularized than Christmas. Additionally, when celebrated appropriately Lent can be an overwhelmingly formative experience. Lent is the season of forty days, not counting Sundays, prior to Easter. It is a season of preparation that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The word Lent comes from the Anglo word lencten meaning spring. Lent has its roots as a season of fasting and preparation for baptism for new converts to the faith. Following in these historical beginnings it later became a time of penance for all Christians to prepare for the great feast of Easter.
Penance is defined as a voluntary act of self-punishment in association with the repentance of sin. In the Catholic tradition, it is considered a sacrament whereby the penitent parishioner confesses his or her sin to the priest and receives absolution for the sin. As protestants, we believe that we can be forgiven directly from God so we do not practice penance as a sacrament involving our pastors or priests. Rather we should practice penance by confessing to God our sins and then engage in the act of fasting, self-examination, prayer, and self-denial to make a right beginning of repentance (UMC Book of Worship pg. 322-323). The invitation to the observance of Lenten discipline found in the United Methodist Book of Worship states that Lent and the act of fasting and spiritual disciplines are used to help believers who have committed serious sin find reconciliation and restored participation in the life of the church. Several years back Cardinal Timothy Dolan described Lent as spring training for Christians. I believe this is a proper analogy as Lent has a way of helping us improve our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ, but only when practiced faithfully and with pure intentions.
Many people who observe Lent get in the habit of giving something up, fasting from cokes (soft drinks, soda pop, or pop for those of you not in the South), chocolate, candy, alcohol, TV, certain foods, etc. While it isn’t necessarily bad to fast from these things, the fact that many fast from the same thing year after year without much thought as to why doesn’t allow for spiritual formation. We are called to practice fasting and self-denial during Lent, but the reason we practice isn’t to see if we can go all Lent without a candy bar or a coke or to see if we can lose a little weight. No, the reason to fast is so that we are spiritually transformed by our fast. That is what we give up should in some way or another relate to our sin or help us to be drawn closer to God creating within us the fertile ground to produce the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:16-26) in our lives. Therefore, it is not enough to simply fast we must fast and reflect upon our relationship with God.
Lent begins next week with Ash Wednesday as we remember our mortality and repent of our sin by smearing ash on our foreheads, thus beginning that 40-day fast and call to the spiritual/lenten disciplines. This year instead of just giving up the same old thing, because it’s what we’ve always done. Let’s truly consider the state of our sin and our souls and give up something that along with the Holy Spirit and prayer will truly provide spiritual formation. Before the pastor smears ash on your forehead in shape of a cross and says, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return. So, repent and believe the gospel” reflect long and hard on what is holding you back from a deeper relationship with God? What can I give up that will draw me closer to Christ? Then, Give it up.
This recipe works great with whole cut meats. You can use, pork, beef, turkey, or wild game such as venison, Elk, Moose, etc. In our house, it’s venison that is always used for this recipe. Begin by freezing the meat so that it is partly frozen this will help to get consistent thin slices. Slice the meat thin and according to the type in the direction that is best for tender jerky (i.e. with or against the grain).
- 2-3 lbs of meat sliced thin
- 1 ½ tsp of Tender Quick Salt per pound of meat
- ½ cup of Allegro Seasoning or Allegro Game Tame (either works fine)
- ½ cup of gluten-free soy sauce
- ¼ cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of sweet rice wine or rice vinegar (they’re the same thing)
- 1 Tbsp and 2 tsp of brown sugar
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp of ginger powder
Prepare meat as stated above and allow to thaw. Next, combine ingredients 4 – 10 in a small saucepan and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Next, add Allegro Seasoning to Teriyaki sauce and allow to cool. Drain and rinse meat in a colander and pat dry. Place meat in a zip top bag and coat with Tender Quick Salt. Then add Teriyaki marinade and allow to marinate for 24 hours. Finally, place meat in a dehydrator and dehydrate overnight about 6-8 hours depending on how dry you want your jerky. After the meat has been dehydrated place in a 170-degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes. Package meat in zip-top bags and refrigerate or freeze jerky that will not be eaten in 2-3 days.