The Places You’ll Go!

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Each Thursday morning, the staff and students of YWAM Turner Valley gather for PFTN – Prayer for the Nations. During Spring break a few weeks ago, the morning’s PFTN leader had all present post sticky notes on the cities/countries where we had gone on mission trips for a week or more. Afterwards, we shared testimonies of our time on outreach, and prayed for the nations we had visited, and the people we met in those places. It being Spring break, not everyone was present, but still, it was amazing to see the number of places God has taken us as a small group of YWAMers in southern Alberta! It never fails to amaze me the places our God will send us – places we may never even dream of going, and places we likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to see if we were not on this crazy adventure with God.

Where is God calling you to “go?” It might be a place on your city’s map, or a nation on a world map. Either way, follow Him! The places He’ll take you and the gifts He equips you with are part of His plan to reach your city, nation, and world with the love of Christ, and the Truth of the Gospel. Say “yes” to the places God wants to take you!

Recipe Resources

When people find out I (Helen) plan eleven meals a week for 20+ people, they often ask where I get my recipes. My typical answer is “google” or “pinterest,” and while that’s certainly true, I do find myself heading to some of the same sites and recipe books over and over. The following are a few of my favorite recipe resources, in no particular order; I hope you’ll check them out!

  1. foodwishes.blogspot.ca. Considering the number of times I’ve referenced this site in my “Recipe of the Week” series, it should come as no surprise that this is a go-to for me! Chef John creates entertaining videos demonstrating his tried and tested recipes; his chicken tikka masala is a firm favorite.
  2. ohsheglows.com. Don’t tell anyone, but this is a vegan cooking website! While I don’t believe meat has to be present in every meal, I know my opinion isn’t necessarily universally accepted (especially in Alberta!). Nevertheless, I like to include a few vegetarian and even vegan meals throughout the week, for health and budgetary reasons. I also have blogger Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows cookbook, which I use often, though mainly for personal cooking. In addition to being a great resource for vegan recipes, many of the recipes on the blog and in the cookbook, are gluten-free. Some fave recipes from ohsheglows.com include the black bean and butternut squash burritos and the vegan tortilla soup.
  3. damndelicious.net. I hesitated to include this one because of the name, but it really is a great resource for recipes, and I use this site often for Asian-inspired meals. I found this site via Pinterest, and the Thai peanut beef recipe has proven to be a winner around here. I also really enjoy the one-pan Mexican quinoa recipe.
  4. smittenkitchen.com. This blog has been around for 8+ years, and with good reason: every recipe I’ve tried from this site has been a winner. While I’ve mostly experimented with Smitten Kitchen’s sweet recipes, the soft pretzels recipes is such a favorite amongst our friends, I’m making them as an appetizer for a wedding I’m catering this summer!
  5. bbcgoodfood.com. Okay, I mostly use the BBC’s cooking sites for Mary Berry’s baking recipes, as seen on the Great British Bake Off (with which I am more than slightly obsessed), but this site has all sorts of great recipes, sweet and savory. This week I’ll be trying a Thai green chicken curry recipe from BBC Good Food; hopefully this curry will turn out as well as Mary Berry’s chocolate fondant tart, or her Bakewell tart!

These are just a few of my go-to resources. Others include Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, Elizabeth Gordon’s allergy-free focused cookbooks, allrecipes.com, and of course, Pinterest. You can follow my “Feeding the Masses” board on Pinterest to see what recipes I’m trying! Bon appétit!

Inductive Bible Study Overview

In February, Michael and I had the pleasure of teaching an Inductive Bible Study seminar to our church, Okotoks Alliance. We had a wonderful time with the 30+ people who came to the morning session, and we were so thrilled by the turnout! We had hoped for maybe a dozen, so to have over thirty people come on a blustery wintery day was so encouraging. There’s certainly a hunger for the Word and for Bible study at our church, and that makes us feel even more blessed to attend and serve at Okotoks Alliance.

A few weeks ago, one of the pastors at our church requested that we provide a document overviewing the Inductive Bible Study method, so those who attended the seminar could have a refresher available, and those who weren’t able to make it would be able to have a starting point to use Inductive Bible Study in their own devotional and study times. You can see that document on Okotoks Alliance’s website, or you can check it out below.

Inductive Bible Study is not the only way to study the Bible, but through focusing on observation, interpretation, and application, and the question “what does it mean to the original reader?” Inductive Bible Study focuses on understanding the meaning of the text, when it was written, to whom it was written. It really is a tremendously helpful way of studying the Word in context.

If you have any questions about using Inductive Bible Study in your own devotional and study times, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We’d love to help in any way we can.

Missions Night 2015: A Fundraiser for Our Friends, the Greenwoods!

Michael’s in a video! Each year, YWAM Turner Valley hosts a “Missions Night,” and this year’s event is dedicated to highlighting and raising support for our very good friends, Evan and Melissa Greenwood, as they move into the mission field in northern Thailand. Michael recently got to be involved with the making of the below video to promote this exciting event. Evan and Melissa truly are good friends of ours, so it was fun for Michael to be a part of the lead-up to this fundraiser, which we pray will be a huge blessing to them.

If you live nearby, we would love to see you at YWAM Turner Valley on May 14th at 7:30pm (1205 Okalta Rd., Turner Valley, AB) to find out more about Evan and Melissa’s upcoming move to Thailand, and to make a direct contribution to the gospel going to the nations.

We hope to see you here!

Hillsong United – Touch the Sky

“what treasure waits within your scars, the gift of freedom gold can’t buy, I bought the world and sold my heart, you traded heaven to have me again.”

“my heart beating, my soul breathing, I found my life, when I laid it down, upward falling, spirit soaring, I touch the sky, when my knees hit the ground.”

“find me here at your feet again, everything I am, reaching out, I surrender come sweep me up with your love again, and my soul will dance, on the wings of forever.”

Recipe of the Week: Seeded-Quick Bread

I love making bread. Really, I love working with yeast, but I won’t turn my nose up at a good quick-bread recipe, especially Martha Stewart’s Seeded-Quick Bread. This bread is made up of equal parts whole wheat flour and spelt flour, and is packed with all sorts of delicious and good-for-you seeds. And it’s really easy to make! I made four loaves for lunch on Monday, pairing it with carrot soup, and everyone loved it…but no one went back for seconds, as it is incredibly filling! Now I have two and a bit loaves in the freezer, so this bread will definitely be reappearing in the near future.

The changes I made were unintentional. I discovered at the last moment we had no caraway seeds, so I left those out. Caraway is meant to be the dominant flavor of the bread, so I worried the bread would be lacking in the flavor department, but then I discovered the black sesame seeds we had were seasoned black sesame seeds. To be fair, the finished product probably had a totally different taste than what the original recipe is going for because of these little changes, but the result was great, and the method produces beautiful, rustic loaves that are as easy to make as banana bread.

The recipe for this bread came from a video from Martha Stewart’s test kitchen, which you can check out here. I’ve come across a few really great recipe ideas via the test kitchen video collection, so check it out for inspiration! I’ve recorded the recipe below, and have included a screen shot of the finished product, which could totally be infringing upon copyright laws…Martha, if you’re perusing the internet and happen to come across this little blog, please let me know if the inclusion of this recipe and picture has offended you or violated any copyright laws!

Martha Stewart’s Seeded-Quick Bread

  1. Blend 2 cups whole wheat flour with 2 cups spelt flour. Add 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup black sesame seeds, 2 tbsp caraway seeds, 2 tbsp flax seeds, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp baking soda. Whisk together.
  2. In separate bowl mix 1-1/2 cups room temperature milk, 3/4 cups room temperature buttermilk, and 2 tbsp honey.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated, and then continue to mix for another minute to develop the gluten. You can do this in a mixer.
  4. Prepare pan: spray and line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper (an overhang of parchment paper will help you remove the loaf later). Pour batter into loaf pan, and smooth out top with spatula.
  5. Sprinkle top of bread with 2 tsp sunflower seeds, 1 tsp black sesame seeds, 1 tsp caraway seeds, and 1 tsp flax seeds.
  6. Bake into 350 degrees F oven, for about an hour and five minutes.
  7. Let the bread cool for 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack; remove from pan, and let fully cool before slicing.
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Screenshot taken from Martha Stewart’s Test Kitchen video, “Seeded-Quick Bread Recipe.”

Book Review: Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey

I (Helen) have read a few books on the topic of women in ministry, ranging from the more scholarly (Good News for Women by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis), to the tongue-in-cheek (A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans). I’ve read excerpts of others, including Discovering Biblical Equality (especially the articles by Gordon D. Fee), and Why Not Women? by Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton. While all of these books and articles have contributed a lot to my thinking and studying on the topic of women in ministry (for a Women in Ministry lecture and for personal interest), Jesus Feminist by Canadian author Sarah Bessey, has been such a breath of fresh air for me. While I wouldn’t say she presented anything earth-shatteringly new for me as a student of this topic, her approach won me over. This approach is probably best encapsulated by her final sentences in her “thank you” chapter at the end of the book: “And Jesus: if I had an alabaster box full of expensive perfume, I would smash it on my front sidewalk. I just want to be with you, walking in your way, always” (p. 206).

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The title “Jesus Feminist” might put some off, but Bessey gets right down to explaining how Jesus made a feminist of her, in the very first chapter. She outlines the history of feminism, reminding the reader that “feminism’s roots are tangled up with the strong Christian women’s commitments to the temperance movement, suffragist movements, and in America and England in particular, the abolitionist movements of the nineteenth century” (p. 12). She defines feminism as “the radical notion that women are people too. Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance – not greater than, but certainly not less than – to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women” (p. 13-14). She asserts that “in Christ, and because of Christ, we are invited to participate in the Kingdom of God through redemptive movement – for both men and women – toward equality and freedom” (p. 14). She tells her own story of how she became a self-proclaimed “Jesus feminist,” and how it is Biblical to support such a claim. And she does it all with humility, grace, a distinct lack of snarky-ness, and with her eyes on Christ through it all.

I sincerely wish I could quote paragraph upon paragraph of Bessey’s book in this review; if I owned the book (I borrowed it from the library)I would have underlined something on every page. Jesus Feminist not only reminded me of the importance of embracing and championing the gifts of women in the church (including teaching and leadership), it really ministered to me as I read the freeing words of this woman who is completely in love with Jesus. Her words are not poised to be the winning jab in a theological fighting match, but are rather poured out in a desire to please her Savior, and uplift and celebrate others who love Him. The topic of women in ministry can sometimes feel like a never-ending debate surrounding a few verses of the Bible (often taken out of their historical context), but in her chapter “Kingdom Come,” Bessey reminds her readers,

“The Kingdom is a glimpse of true manhood and womanhood, without fear or stereotypes or abuses from the world. We are the restored image bearers in concert together, all participating, all parts functioning with holy interdependence. It’s trust and laughter and holy risk taking; it’s vocation and work and worship. It’s sharing leadership and responsibility. It’s turning away from the language of hierarchy and power to the posture of servanthood. It’s affirming all the seasons and callings of each other’s lives. It’s speaking out and working and advocating on behalf of our oppressed brothers and sisters around the world” (p. 165).

I really cannot say enough about this book. Other works may have more deeply informed my understanding of Scriptural interpretations and historical context of verses in question (and for a detailed, thorough examination of such verses, I recommend Good News for Women), but Jesus Feminist causes me to look to Jesus first and foremost: the Man and God who loved, championed, affirmed, and celebrated women, and longs for them to be actively involved in building His Kingdom, through the gifts His Spirit has given them.