Counterfeit Gods

After the economic crash in 2008-2009, Tim Keller came out with a book titled Counterfeit Gods. Following the downward turn from an economy booming with money, success, and pride came an ugly and harsh reality of our society’s false identity. And so, after a series of suicides from successful businessmen came the truth…America stood “under God” but worshiped the gods of love, money, success, and power. Why else would a bunch of educated businessmen begin to take their own lives after an economic crash? The life they lived for had been lost. Their idols of success, power, and money were gone and so was their meaning in life.

So, what is an idol? Tim Keller defines it as, “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” pg xvii Tim Keller walks us through the four most powerful false gods our society has seen. The god of love and the disillusionment that with it will come true happiness. The god of money, and the false sense of power and security wealth can bring. The god of success and the lie that through our own “personal achievement we ourselves are god.” pg 75 And lastly, power, the illusion that we are in control.” pg 115 These four idols are only the beginning to a root of other false gods within our own lives. “Western, secular cultures make an idol out of individual freedom, and this lead to the breakdown of the family, rampant materialism, careerism, and the idealization of romantic love, physical beauty, and profit.” pg 130 For in the end, “an idol is something that we look to for things only God can give.” pg 131

Counterfeit Gods reminds us that, when Christ came down to earth, in the end he wasn’t loved by the people, he was poor in wealth, and by the world’s standards he was neither successful or powerful. He was instead nailed to a cross by people who hated him, in the most unloving and humbling way.

In the end, you can conclude that idols are present everywhere. They are all around us, and all within us. In the epilogue. Keller begins his section on “identifying idols” by saying, “I am not asking whether or not you have rival gods. I assume that we all do; they are hidden in every one of us. The question is: What do we do about them? How can we become increasingly clear-sighted rather than remaining in their power?” pg 167 For “the secret to change is to identify and dismantle the counterfeit gods of your heart.” pg 166 How do we do this? Well, Keller suggests these things. First, begin to think of “where your thoughts effortlessly go when nothing else is demanding your attention.” Look at where you spend your money, or what generates uncontrollable emotions inside your heart. “Look for your idols at the bottom of your most panful emotions.” pg 169 I suppose his ultimate question asked was, “Is their something here too important to me, something I must have at all costs?” pg 169 It is when we begin to discern what our idols are that we begin to reveal who we really are.

Once these counterfeit gods begin to surface, they must be replaced. “If you uproot the idol and fail to “plant” the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.” pg 172 By seeing our heavenly God as more beautiful, more satisfying, and more worthy of praise we can begin to feel a change within our own hearts. Prayer, meditation, and ultimately worship can bring us to our knees and “on the road to freedom from the counterfeit gods that control us.” pg 177

* This was the first book I’ve read in almost a year. It has stirred the most difficult questions within my own heart. I know replacing my own idols sounds impossible. But I suppose to merely turning a little closer to Christ might make the true heart’s desires a little darker amongst the light.

Keller, Timonthy (2009). Counterfeit Gods: The empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only hope that matters. New York: Dutton.

http://www.counterfeitgods.com

Kidney Bean Salad

Yesterday, I was rummaging through my cupboard attempting to find a side dish for my plain old egg salad sandwich, when I saw a can of kidney beans in the back. I usually keep one or two cans around in the winter for chili but don’t tend to use them in the warmer months. So I typed in kidney bean salad in the internet and found this amazing recipe from Wholefoods! Enjoy their version or my slightly altered one!

Salad:

1 can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

1/4 cup minced red onion

1/3 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (cut in half) OR 2 Roma tomatoes diced

Dressing:

2 garlic cloves pressed in a garlic press and then allowed to rest for a few minutes

1 lemon juiced

1/3 cup olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste (pinch of each)

Directions:

Add salad ingredients together. Combine garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper while whisking in olive oil. Pour dressing over salad.

Aren’t we all 2!

Some of my best thoughts and processing occurs during my morning runs. Adding a toddler to the mix, however, doesn’t provide a ton of reflection time as I tend to hurry my way through the lights and traffic. This summer Ella and I have discovered many of our neighborhood parks, making running the area a bit more challenging. Now, whenever we pass a park (which occurs during almost every run), I hear a little, or loud, voice yelling “PARK, PARK” over and over again! I do try to hand her a snack, give her a video, or quickly race the stroller by without too much attention. Today, just grateful to even be out of the house, we had barely reached the park when I began to hear Ella repeatedly yelling for the swings. I then proceeded to remind her of the wonderful and exciting swim lessons we had planned for the morning, and the farm we were suppose to visit in the afternoon… none of which mattered because the “PARK” was directly in front of her at that time. It was at this moment, when I realized, no matter what activities I had planned for the day, this park was her immediate desire and want. There was nothing I could say to convince Ella that what mom had in store was better than this old, boring, germ infested play area. Poor thing I thought! She would settle for this silly park, which would leave her skinned up, over heated, and crying by the time we left; when I had something better waiting for her only a few hours away. And that’s when it hit me! Aren’t we all like a 2-year-old! Just minutes earlier I had seen a double stroller, and thought to myself, I want one of those. NOT because I necessarily want to be pushing a double or triple wide, but because my heart saw a baby and said, “I want that.” And how many times have we seen someone’s dress, or hair cut, or car, or house, or vacation, or kids, or their friends, or their work, or their organization, their spiritual life, or their personality, and said “I want that!” Never thinking that what our heavenly father has in store, for us is greater, bigger, and better than our hearts immediate desire.

 

Herbed Quinoa

After doing a little reading and research on quinoa, I decided to try this new food (for me) out for myself! With only a few ingredients in my pantry and garden, I made this simple but delicious summer recipe for a tasteful dinner. The only downside was Ella didn’t like it…so if you have a favorite quinoa recipe or one your kids eat…send it to me!

Herbed Quinoa by Giada De Laurentiis

2 3/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 cups quinoa

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup chopped basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 Tbsp thyme

2 tsp lemon zest

kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

Add chicken stock. lemon juice, and quinoa to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 12-15 min.

Combine dressing ingredients together and add to quinoa once cooked.

Quinoa

A friend just recently shared her new book Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood and its amazing health benefits with me. Although, quinoa is treated like a grain, it is actually a seed related to the spinach family, and has been around for years! Quinoa is a native plant to the Andean regions of South America, and was a staple food to the Indians living in the high Andes mountains. Know as the “mother of grains” by the Inca’s; today, quinoa is fairly cheep and widely versatile in use. This amazingly nutritious food is a supergrain and a complete protein. It is high in fiber, magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese, and it’s gluten-free. It provides antioxidants to fight cancer, improve cardiovascular health, prevent migraines, reduce childhood asthma, diabetes, and so much more. And if that’s not convincing enough, quinoa can be used in a wide variety of ways from salads, to a starch, to crust on meat.

Listed below are a few websites I found intriguing on the history and benefits of this amazing “supergrain”.

Wholefoods; Body Ecology; Quinoa Corporation; Quinoa History

Zucchini Sliders

Zucchini is one of summer’s well-known fertile vegtables producing fruit the size of arms and legs within days. I’m always on the lookout for new and tasty zucchini recipes as my one plant seems to produce an ample supply for my little family. This has become one of our favorite summer lunches.

Zucchini Cakes

Recipe modified from Ina Garten at foodnetwork.com

1 small zucchini shredded (or 2 cups worth)

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 egg

3 Tbsps flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Shred zucchini and chop red onion. Turn stove top on to med-high allowing fry pan to heat. Combine veggies adding the egg, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper to mixture. Add oil or butter to pan. Drop spoonfuls of mixture into fry pan leaving enough room to flip zucchini cakes. ** Serve with cheese and a tomato slice on top! Or place on a dinner roll for a fun zucchini slider!

Fruit Pops

In honor of these hot summer days, and with an effort to add more fruit and veggies to Ella’s diet, I have started making my own fruit pops. Some of you may already be doing this, and if so I’d love to hear your favorite recipe! The idea started after throwing together a fruit smoothie no one wanted to drink. With an entire blender of smoothie leftover, I decided to pour a small amount into popsicle containers for a cool and perfect kid friendly summer treat!

Here are a few ideas to get your creativity juices flowing!

Combine 1 cup blueberries + 1 cup strawberries + 1/2 cup frozen peas+ 1/2 cup vanilla yogart+ 1/4 cup apple juice to blender and puree until you have a smooth consistency. Add more juice as needed. Put into popsicle containers and place in freezer!

And here are a few other recipes I found on the internet.

Smoothie Pops (Family Fun Magazine)

Fruit Ice Pops (foodnetwork.com)

Frozen Fruit Pops (joyofbaking.com)

Have fun making your own combinations and finding out what your kids like best!