One of my favorite meals as a young wife was brats with mustard and sauerkraut, red cabbage, and “German Potato Pancakes” with home made applesauce and sour cream on top. Now that I actually have a daughter-in-law from Germany, I’m not totally convinced this is as authentically German as I used to think, but that doesn’t distract from the great taste, so let me share my recipe for potato pancakes!
As with most recipes, I adapt them for convenience, so I generally use leftover potatoes that have already been baked, boiled, or fried into hash browns (as long as they’re not so cooked that they’ve become mushy). In fact, I’ve been known to used leftover mashed potatoes, and they’re good too!
In a large mixing bowl, combine: 2 cups cooked, chopped potatoes (or: shredded, uncooked potatoes) 1 egg 2 crispy slices of cooked bacon, chopped into small pieces 2 T. (melted) bacon fat 2 T. flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ small onion, chopped 2 teaspoons chopped chives ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon spicy Montreal steak seasoning ½ teaspoon parsley flakes ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste) ¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
Mix thoroughly, divide into 6 approximately equal patties, and fry them over medium heat in 2 tablespoons melted bacon fat (or butter) until crispy and golden brown on both sides.
Serve immediately (or keep warm in covered pan and reheat for a few seconds before serving).
They can be served “as is,” or with ketchup (which Americans tend to love with most potatoish sides), but they are especially delicious topped with home made applesauce (or store-bought, but at least use chunky-style and warm it up) and sour cream. Oh, and if you’re like us (at least this year), you might try serving up some great German devotional “spiritual food” for dinner while you’re at it!
Matthew 8:23-27 says, “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”
Last weekend—perhaps because we unconsciously had Memorial Day, war, and death on our hearts—we watched two movies that, as it turned out, had more in common than I ever could have imagined! Both are based on true events, both involved teams of men who believed they were being heroes, and both groups were on highly illegal missions. However, the outcomes of their actions were as different as night and day!
If you’re like me, you probably have vivid memories of the second event (which occurred just 18 years ago and has changed our country forever), but you’ve probably never even heard of the other (which occurred secretly in 1948). A Wing and a Prayer is a 2015 documentary making public the rogue heroism of a team of ex-World War 2 vets who risked (some gave) their lives to prevent a second holocaust from occurring in Israel when the Brits left the freshly-minted Jewish nation without any weapons to defend their new-found freedom from the planned attacks of neighboring nations.
In contrast, United 93 is a 2006 portrayal of what happened on September 11, 2001, when 13 Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial jets, killing 2,996 people, injuring over 6,000 others, and causing some $10 billion in damages. It will always be remembered as “9-11.”
Three of the aircraft reached their targets that fateful morning: Two crashing into the heart of the World Trade Center and a third dive-bombing the Pentagon, but because of the heroism of the passengers aboard United 93, that flight never reached its target.
Instead, United’s flight 93 plunged into a field in Pennsylvania, where all the passengers were killed instantly.
Think of the contrasts between these two events! In A Wing and a Prayer, about 13 men (many of whom were not even Jewish but were motivated by compassion) acted in opposition to the law in order to protect the lives of a beleaguered people still grieving the terrible exterminations and terrors they experienced during World War 2.
These young pilots weren’t terrorists, they were trying to protect foreign people from being terrorized. Many of them were not particularly religious; this was not a “holy war.” However, the men took a moral stand against the American government, who was refusing to aid the Israelis for fear of alienating Middle Eastern leaders with whom we were involved in commercial (oil) enterprise. Their punishment: $10,000 in fines per person and the loss of their civil rights.
In contrast, the 13 al-Qaeda terrorists were on a mission, not to protect foreigners but to terrorize them. Not to preserve but to destroy. They were not taking a moral stand against wrong; they thought murder and terror was “right!” Their hope of reward? Suicidal death leading to immediate transportation to paradise. No fines, no imprisonment, no punishment, no loss of privileges. But, tragically, the loss of their lives along with those of thousands of others.
I highly recommend your watching the one-hour documentary on A Wing and a Prayer. However, I confused United 93 with Flight 93, which I saw 13 years ago and definitely prefer. Flight 93 has a PG-13 rating and tells much the same story without the terrible language or quite as much blood. So, I guess that’s yet another contrast between two movies!
Last thought, but I’d also like to contrast the Christian and Muslim views on heaven and how to get there. Muslims believe in a sensual paradise filled with pure rivers of water, milk, honey, and wine, where men can take pleasure in beautiful women every day (among other things). Christians believe in a physical paradise but with a spiritual purpose: Worship and fellowship with God and fellow human beings. Jesus taught that in paradise people would not marry but would be like the angels in heaven. The emphasis is not on personal sensual gratification, but on love in its highest and most transcendent forms.
What about how to get to heaven? Muslims believe you can only be assured of going straight to paradise by dying for Allah. Christians believe you can only be assured of going straight to paradise by believing in Jesus, the God who died for us! Muslims hope to get to paradise by being good. Christians know they’ll never be “good enough” to get to heaven, but they trust in Jesus, who was perfect, and who died for each and every one of us, so that we can be reconciled to God by repenting of our sins and putting our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.
Want to be assured of heaven when you die? You don’t need to become a suicidal terrorist! Believe in Jesus, and embrace him as your Savior!
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” —G.K. Chesterton
“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory.
Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.”—Mary
“On Memorial Day, I
don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out
of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women
who have made this world a kinder place to live.” —Eric Burdon
not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as
well as strong.”—James Bryce
“137 years later, Memorial Day remains one of America’s most
cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed-it
remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy.”
“Over all our happy country—over all our Nation spread, Is a band of noble heroes—is our Army of the Dead.” —Will Carleton
“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust, their courage nerves a thousand living men.”—Minot J. Savage
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt
“No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.”—General Douglas MacArthur
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that
the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.”
—John F. Kennedy
“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.” —William J. Clinton
“Veterans are a symbol of what makes our nation great, and
we must never forget all they have done to ensure our freedom.”—Rodney
“May we never forget freedom isn’t free.”—Unknown
“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (—Jesus, in the Bible, John 15:13).
What a Friend We Have in Jesus (—Joseph M. Scriven, 1855, Public Domain)
What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged— Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge— Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear; May we ever, Lord, be bringing All to Thee in earnest prayer. Soon in glory bright, unclouded, There will be no need for prayer— Rapture, praise, and endless worship Will be our sweet portion there.
(I took all the photos in May of 2016 during a trip to Normandy, France.)
If we can do nothing else, we can at least stand up! That’s what Martin Luther had to do back in April 1521 when Emperor Charles V demanded that he recant. Luther was unable to disavow the pile of books on the table in front of him (which he had authored), because Luther sincerely believed they were true, and so it is often reported that he finished his defense with: “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”
In today’s account, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on a sabbath day and saw a man with a withered hand. I suppose he could have ignored the man’s weakness to avoid confrontation (since he knew the scribes and Pharisees were just looking for a chance to accuse him of doing something “wrong”), but Jesus’ compassion for the man obviously outweighed any human desire to avoid conflict. Without flinching, the great teacher took time to heal! He told the man to “Rise up and stand forth in the midst.“
Even the scribes and Pharisees hadn’t added any regulations denying a man the right to stand up on the sabbath, so Jesus wasn’t asking the man to do anything the religious leaders could condemn, although I’m sure the man with the withered hand would have felt both fear and joy at the prospect of Jesus singling him out. Why was Jesus asking him to stand up in the middle of everybody? Would Jesus heal him? If so, how would Jesus heal him? Would Jesus require anything from the man that would make the religious leaders persecute him or kick him out of the synagogue?
In our lives, no matter what our problems, Jesus is able to heal us. But, he will often ask us to take a stand, the way the man with the withered hand had to make a public “spectacle” of himself, and the way Luther was required to stand up for what he believed to be true about God and the Bible. Do you need healing? Do you want Jesus to heal you? Are you willing to “Rise up and stand forth in the midst” ?
I have a friend who is a Messianic Jew (that means he is Jewish by birth and by religious conviction, but he does believe that Jesus is the Messiah who was prophesied to come as the Savior of the world). Because he was a member of his synagogue from childhood (and before his conversion to Christ), the leaders didn’t kick him out of the synagogue until . . . until the new rabbi (who was a female) had an agenda to support abortion. When my friend took a stand against abortion, he was summarily kicked out of his synagogue.
How tragic that religious leaders sometimes stand against the way of mercy and truth. If you are part of a church where the Bible is not revered as Truth and the God of the Bible is not worshiped as the one and only true God, please be willing to take a stand! You might not get thrown out. (The man with the withered hand did not, although my dear brother in the faith did.) You might not get burned at the stake. (Martin Luther did not, although I’m sure he feared that, because he was so influenced by the work of John Huss, who had been burned at the stake exactly 100 years before Luther posted his 95 theses.) Any time we stand against false doctrine, we are very likely to be persecuted, but that is part of the cost of discipleship: “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Let’s be willing to take a stand!
“The Stand” (Hillsong United)
You stood before creation Eternity in your hand You spoke the earth into motion My soul now to stand
You stood before my failure And carried the cross for my shame My sin weighed upon your shoulders My soul now to stand
So what can I say? And what can I do? But offer this heart, Oh God Completely to you
So I’ll walk upon salvation Your spirit alive in me This life to declare your promise My soul now to stand
So what can I say? And what can I do? But offer this heart, Oh God Completely to you
I’ll stand With arms high and heart abandoned In awe of the one who gave it all I’ll stand My soul Lord to you surrendered All I am is yours
Texts for this study: “And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth” (Mark 3:1-3).
“And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth” (Luke 6:1-8).
We stayed under the shadow of Notre-Dame last time we were in Paris and visited twice.
We sat in solemn resonance through a service.
We climbed the 387 steps to the bell tower.
We breathed in the ethereal air above the Parisian landscape.
And, we gazed in rapture at the dazzling stained glass windows. But, it never once crossed my mind that it might be the last time I would ever have such a rare privilege.
Yesterday, in a matter of twelve hours, a fire destroyed two-thirds of the roof and enveloped the interior of this iconic 856-year-old bastion of our Christian faith, which is home to more than half a million parishioners.
As of yet, the extent of the damage is unknown, although there have been reports that heat melted the lead holding the panes of some of the stained glass windows, and France’s largest pipe organ, with its 8,000 pipes, has suffered damage.
Nearly 400 fire-fighters battled heroically to save the twin bell towers,
although the cathedral’s spire has collapsed.
The stone exterior of the building has been saved, but so much of the interior was made from wood that there are questions about the basic integrity of the cathedral. Is enough intact for it to withstand rebuilding?
Beyond structural issues, Notre-Dame cathedral was filled with irreplaceable treasures, including seventy-six paintings dating back to the 1600-1700s, along with many other relics, statues, and carvings, some of which have been saved, but many which could not.
This morning, a team will be assessing the damage, and I find myself holding my breath as I await further news.
France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised the world that France will rebuild Notre-Dame, and two french billionaires have already pledged $339 million towards the restoration. A call has gone out for the those who are artistically gifted throughout the Christian world to offer their help in the restoration. But, will it ever be the same?
The answer, of course, is that it will not! In the Gospel of John, Jesus forewarns his disciples that life will be full of sorrow and troubles, but that we can find comfort, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Even though we suffer great disappointments in this world that change our lives forever, that doesn’t end God’s goodness or his constant work within us.
God will make something new for us, just like He will make us new! As He promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ” I believe God will help the world rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, just as I believe God will give new life to all who put their trust in him!
God is THE God of love and mercy. He is always up to something good, even in the midst of apparent evil: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Our responsibility is to believe in God and do what He’s asked us to do: to accept forgiveness for our sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ for us, and to surrender our hearts to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He can make something new from the ashes of our lives, just as I believe He will make something new from the devastating loss of Notre-Dame.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:1-7).
The most disturbing but worthwhile film from 2018 that I watched was Operation Finale, based on the memoirs of Israeli officer Peter Malkin, concerning the capture and testimony in court of Adolph Eichmann, the “Architect of the Holocaust.” Ben Kingsley did a masterful job portraying Eichmann, and Oscar Isaac was absolutely brilliant as the cunning but compassionate Israeli intelligence operative who was able to form a positive emotional bond with the man who had been responsible for the murder of his (Malkin’s) sister and her children, along with six million Jews and six million people of other nationalities, including 1.5 million children.Is the movie accurate? Overwhelmingly. According to Director Christ Weitz,“For example, there was a girl in Argentina who was tortured by authorities and had a Swastika carved into her chest. We moved it forward to up the suspense, but we didn’t change any outcome. The majority of the film is accurate to the history.” In an interview, Weitz pointed out that he actually moved his family to Argentina so he could film on location . . . even using the same movie theater to shoot the scene where Eichmann’s son takes an interest in a beautiful young woman (who turns out to be Jewish). So, touches of extra romance (the expedition’s physician was really a man) and suspense (the timing of the plane’s departure), but otherwise distressingly factual.If I were still teaching history, I would definitely have my kids watch this movie, because the issues are (sadly) current within the Neo-Nazi movement today.I have no Jewish blood, so I can say (without feeling biased) that I stood in awe of the compassion and self-control Malkin exhibited. He said he thought Eichmann would be a monster, but when he spent time with him, Malkin realized that Eichmann seemed very human in person. In his memoirs, Malkin wrote, “A monster can be excused for his behaviour . . . The problem is not how a monster could do it, but how a human being did it.” -Peter Malkin ObituaryI also marveled at how humane the 11 operatives were who were involved in the case. They didn’t torture Eichmann or brutalize him. He was fed kosher food and allowed to sleep in a regular bed. All this for the man who had been responsible for executing “The Final Solution” (extermination) for over 12 million people.Operation Finale tells the story of Eichmann’s escape from Germany to Argentina, how he was discovered fifteen years later, and how he was eventually brought to trial. This was the statement he was persuaded (without violence) to sign:
I, the undersigned, Adolf Eichmann, hereby declare of my own free will that, since my true identity has become known, I realize the futility of trying to continue to flee justice. I declare myself ready to travel to Israel and to stand trial before a competent court. It is clearly understood that I shall be provided with legal counsel, and I myself will endeavor to clarify the facts of my years of service in Germany so that future generations may receive a true picture of those events. I am making this statement of my own free will. I have been promised nothing and no threats have been made against me. I desire at long last to find repose for my soul.As the head of the Jewish department, Eichmann had been responsible for orchestrating the deportation of millions of Jews, but he never admitted any guilt: “As far as this question is concerned, I can only say that I’ve never killed anyone . . . I had to obey orders. I had to do it.” “So, it looks like, in those days, behind a desk, you could kill much more than with a pistol, and that’s what he had done. He’d just send them to the camps.” Peter Malkin-Charney ReportThe terrifying question that we all have to answer is: For what are we willing to die? Would we kill others to avoid being killed ourselves, or are we strong enough morally to choose what is right, even when it means resisting evil and most likely being killed as a result? I’m sure (I hope) that all of us believe we should and would stand up against evil and take the consequences, but in reality, martyrs for the sake of truth and righteousness are few and far between. Jesus is the only man I know who willingly subjected himself to death—and the horribly cruel death of crucifixion—for the sake of overcoming evil with good. He knew the night before his capture that he was going to be arrested and killed, and he forewarned his disciples of this. Jesus could easily have slipped away in the night and left the area. No one would ever have found him. Why didn’t he?
Why did Jesus tell Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:37)? Why did Jesus go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he knew Judas Iscariot would betray him? Why didn’t he defend himself when he went to trial? All he would have had to do was deny that he was God, and he could have gone free! Why didn’t he? Why didn’t he call down 10,000 angels to save him?
“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:6-7).
Ten Thousand Angels
They bound the hands of Jesus
In the garden where He prayed
They led Him through the streets in shame
They spat upon the Saviour
So pure and free from sin
They said, “Crucify Him He’s to blame”
He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free
He could have called ten thousand angels
But He died alone for you and me
Upon His precious head
They placed a crown of thorns
They laughed and said, “Behold the King”
They struck Him and they cursed Him
And mocked His holy name
All alone He suffered everything
When they nailed Him to the cross
His mother stood nearby
He said “Woman, behold thy son”
He cried, “I thirst for water”
But they gave Him none to drink
Then the sinful work of man was done
To the howling mob he yielded
He did not for mercy cry
The cross of shame He took alone
And when He cried, “It’s finished”
He gave Himself to die
Salvation’s wondrous plan was done
He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free
He could have called ten thousand angels
But He died alone for you and me
Did you watch the 2019 Academy Awards Sunday night? (I didn’t; we were out of power . . . again!) Anywho, out of the 37 movies nominated for prizes, I’ve really only seen a handful, but I now have a list of about 15 more possibilities to try. Among those seen thus far, the courage and perseverance of RBG are truly inspirational, and the playful visual effects in Christopher Robin are innovative, but my first choice for an excellent, worthwhile film is First Man. Everything about the movie is stellar. To begin with, First Man is based on a biography by James. R. Hansen and runs very close to the true story of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Academy Award Winner, Damien Chazelle, directs the movie, and film legend, Steven Spielberg, is the executive producer. Ryan Gosling does a great job of portraying the quiet, humble but determined Neil Armstrong who was absolutely driven to give everything he had for space exploration. Claire Foy (Emmy for her fantastic work in The Crown) also does a really credible job of making the viewer feel the gut-wrenching pain of a wife trying to stand by her husband and provide for her children while living with perpetual anxiety over the probability of her husband getting killed at any time. (Roger Chaffee, from Grand Rapids, was one of the many who did tragically die.) First Man tells the dramatic story of the years of training leading up to their historic trip to the moon, when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins blasted off in the Apollo 11 spacecraft (which was launched by Saturn V) and landed safely on the moon on July 20, 1969. Alan and I both remember the feelings of terrified awe as we watched everything live on T.V. The next day, July 21, 1969—which will be 50 years ago this summer—Neil became the first man to walk on the moon, pronouncing to the world: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”I totally believed what I was seeing on T.V., although I’ve since heard many rumors questioning the veracity of the events. One of the most convincing arguments to me was hearing that the flag was blowing in the “breeze” (which couldn’t happen since there’s no real atmosphere on the moon). However, I also heard the explanation that they inserted a rod along the top of the flag to hold it out, and it moved some simply from the impact of its being planted and arranged. To me, the arguments for real landings are more compelling than arguments of the “conspiracy theorists,” who say it was all made up. For one thing, some 400,000 people over the past 50 years would have to have continued supporting the deception, and I can’t help but think that somewhere along the line, somebody would have exposed “the lie.” Nevertheless, I could be wrong, although whether it actually happened or was all a hoax doesn’t impact my day-to-day life too much. On the other hand, there is another event from history that many people also dismiss as a hoax: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again, opening the way for each of us be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, and to be resurrected to eternal life after we die. Although I don’t spend much time worrying about what my distant cousin (?) did fifty years ago, I have staked my life on believing in Jesus, and that effects what I think and do every day or my life! Without Christ, I would be “of all men most miserable,” as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 15:19, but with him, I am full of hope and joy! I never feel alone or abandoned, and I am 100% convinced that Christ can truly lead me safely home—not to earth—but to our Father, who is in heaven!
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).