A rising star in the world of pastry

BEING ONE OF AMERICA’S leading pastry chefs, Brother Isaac Carter faces up to a hectic schedule but his strong faith in God dictates to him how to go about his work and what he must truly prioritize. “I always prioritize the worship service. When my schedule’s tight, no matter what, I’ll prioritize where I’m going to attend the worship service before everything else,” he said with conviction.

In his line of work he has to be creative, innovative, and patient with a good eye for detail and a distinct sense of taste because, he said, “In my work there’s a lot of trial and error. If I have an idea for a savory ingredient for a dessert, I try it, but sometimes it doesn’t taste good so I scratch it out. It’s just test, test, test until I get the right texture and flavor.” The end product must not only tickle the palate but must also be visually appealing, since today’s gourmet pastry has become a work of art with highly technical sculpted pieces. Speed is also a must because, he said, “The pressure is on when 10 to 20 tickets are fired all at once and you have to plate it now. No questions asked.”

He is currently one of the pastry chefs at the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California. He had worked in various high-end restaurants and hotels in San Francisco and Los Angeles and became the executive chef in a restaurant with a Michelin Star, a hallmark of fine dining quality. “I create the menu. I come up with different seasonal items that are great for dessert. Every time I go out and I see a certain ingredient, I figure out in my mind if that would go well with this and that or use this kind of chocolate. Anywhere I go, if I taste something, something just triggers inside of me. ‘Oh! I can create something with this vegetable, this fruit’,” Brother Isaac enthused. He continues to come up with charming-looking delectable cupcakes, desserts, and stunning special occasion cakes.

This year, he was one of the 15 finalists selected from across America to compete in the U.S. Pastry Competition, the most prestigious pastry competition in the United States, hosted by a leading specialty food importer and distributor. The event took place in the International & Foodservice Show of New York held on March 5, 2017 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Prior to that, he won in “Cupcake Wars”, a competition aired on US television. It was a close battle with three other bakers, but as the program’s host put it: “The judges have been impressed by your unexpected flavors. And your innovative use of cupcake wrappers on your splay has wowed them.”

Brother Isaac is a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) in the local congregation of San Leandro, Northwest California Ecclesiastical District. Despite his busy schedule, he still finds time to volunteer to teach his craft to the youth in the Church and to children with special needs in his community.

Brother Isaac’s goal is to open his own ice cream shop. Encouraging him along the way are his parents and his wife. “They’re my biggest supporters,” he quipped, “and the one thing we constantly do is pray. To be successful also takes a lot of sacrifice as you work your way up, really stressful. It’s not easy. I wouldn’t have received all of these blessings without God’s help through prayers.”


By MARIE F. RUIZ

God’s Message Magazine, August 2017

Priest shortage will mean end of regular weekend Masses —Ireland bishop

Warning that vocations crisis is worsening

PUBLISHED RECENTLY ONLINE, a news item expressed the concern of a Catholic bishop over a problem facing the clergy in Ireland hat he sees will gravely impact the laity. The following are excerpts of the news item:

  • Due to he decline in priest numbers, in the Diocese of Kerry in Ireland there were now six parishes out of 53 without a resident priest.
  •  According to Bishop Ray Browne, soon it will not be possible to have a weekend Mass in every church in the diocese.
  •  The lack of resident full-time priests in Kerry’s churches will mean parishioners will have to attend Sunday Mass in neighbouring churches …, the bishop said.
  •  The parish of Knocknagoshel is the latest to be hit by the vocations crisis It has lost its resident priest.
  •  The neighboring diocese of Cork and Ross is also concerned about an ageing and declining cohort of priests.
  •  In Limerick there were 10 parishes in the diocese without a resident priest in active ministry, though four of these had retired priests living in them.
  •  Bishop Brendan Leahy, of Limerick, said that they are facing many challenges due to the decline in vocations.
  •  Diarmuid Hogan of the diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, believes that in the years ahead parishes will have to be “consolidated with larger congregations at fewer Masses in fewer, larger buildings.”

http://wwwindependent.ie/irish-news/priest-shortage-will-mean-end-of-regular-weekend-masses-bishop-35887774.html

Is the Religious Recession Real?

TWO OF AMERICA’S PROMINENT FAITHS, Catholicism and Protestantism, are sharing a big part in the religious decline in people nowadays. In a survey called “Americas Changing Religious Landscape”, Pew, a research center based in Washington, whose research helps U.S. and international policymakers, civic leaders, educators, and the public at large to understand and address some of the world’s most challenging problems, found that almost every major Christian professing church has been losing members. What is striking is that it is not only young members who are departing from their religious life; rather, every demographic group has seen a drop in people who call themselves Christians. This survey stated; “While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men … the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated—describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”—has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.”

“… the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans—roughly seven-in-ten—continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith. But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage point in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014.”

“Of the major subgroups within American Christianity, mainline Protestantism—a tradition that includes the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Churches USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church, among others—appears to have experienced the greatest drop in absolute numbers. In 2007, there were an estimated 41 million mainline Protestant adults in the United States. As of 2014, there are roughly 36 million, a decline of 5 million—although, taking into account the surveys’ combined margins or error, the number of mainline Protestants may have fallen by as few as 7.3 million between 2007 and 2014.”

“Like mainline Protestants, Catholics appear to be declining both as a percentage of the population and in absolute numbers. The new survey indicates there are about 51 million Catholic adults in the U.S. today, roughly 3 million fewer than 2007.”

“More than 85% of American adults were raised Christian, but nearly a quarter of those who were raised Christian no longer identify with Christianity.”


Reference entry: http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

Jacob wrestles with an angel

DO YOU KNOW WHY JACOB, son of Isaac, was later renamed “Israel”? Find out by reading this story from the Bible.

 

  That same night Jacob got up … Then a man cam and wrestled with him until just before aybreak. When the man saw that he was not willing the struggle, he hit Jacob on the hip, and it was thrown out of joint. The man said,

“Let me go; daylight is coming.”

“I won’t unless you bless me, Jacob answered.

“What is your name?” the man asked.

“Jacob,” he answered.

The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won; so your name will be Israel.”

Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.”

But he answered, “Why do you want to know my name?” Then he blessed Jacob.

Jacob said, “I have seen God face-to-face, and I am still alive”; so he named the place Peniel. The sun rose as Jacob was leaving Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Even today the descendants of Israel deo not eat the muscle which is on the hip joint, because it was on this muscle that Jacob was hit. (Excerpted from Genesis 32:22, 24-32, Today’s English Version)

 

   This account on Jacob’s life illustrates what true servants of God are willing o do to attain His promised blessings. Church of Christ members are exhorted to “earnestly desire the greater gifts” (I Cor. 12:31), among which are the duties and obligations in the Church (Rom. 12:6-7). This, even if they have dangers and endure pain and suffering, the faithful church officers willingly make the sacrifices to fulfill their duties to God. For, it is their faith that nothing they do for the work of the Lord will ever become useless but will result in their receiving the great reward. (I Cor. 15:58; Phil 3:14)

“White Christian America is dying”

Robert P. Jones is the CEO of he Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and author of the book, The End of White Christian America. In an interview with him by John Sides, an Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, regarding his book, Hones spells out the profound social implication of a new reality: America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.

 

“Let’s start with a graph from the book … tell us what you see and how you interpret it.

“The chart below reveals just how quickly the proportions of white, non-Hispanic Christians have declined across generations.

“Like an archeological excavation, the chart sorts Americans by religious affiliation and race, stratified by age. It shows the decline of white Christians among each successive generation.

“Today, young adults ages 18 to 29 are less than likely to be white Christians as seniors age 65 and older. Nearly 7 in 10 American seniors (67 percent) are white Christians, compared to fewer than 3 in 10 (29 percent) young adults.

“Although the declining proportion of white Christians is due to large-scale demographic shifts—including immigration patterns and differential birth rates … the other major cause: young adults’ rejection of organized religion. Young adults are three times as likely as seniors to claim no religious affiliation (34 percent versus 11 percent, respectively).

 

“What’s the broader implication of this generational pattern?

“The American religious landscape is being remade, most notably by the decline of the white Protestant majority and the rise of the religiously unaffiliated. These religious transformations have been swift and dramatic, occurring largely within the last four decades …

 

“I think the decline in the ‘white part of White Christian America is well known, given the country’s obviously increasing ethnic diversity. But let’s talk about the ‘Christian’ part and particularly the increasing number of people who aren’t affiliated with any religious tradition. Why are the ranks of the unaffiliated increasing?

“The rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans over the last few decades is one of the most important and dramatic shifts in American religious history. As recently as the 1990s, less than 1 in 10 Americans claimed no religious affiliation …

Looking ahead, there’s no sign that this pattern will fade anytime soon. By 2051, if current trends continue, religiously unaffiliated Americans could comprise as large a percentage of the population as all Protestants combined—a thought that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. …”

Source: The Washington Post: White Christian America is dying,

August 15, 2016

A dad who makes a difference

A father has to work hard to provide his family with all the things they need to survive and, hopefully, thrive in this harsh world. It is tough being a father; a father must always make sure that everyone at home has enough food to eat and clothes to wear, and provides his wife and children with a decent and stable home. He also has to insure that all his children get the best education they can to help them have a bright and prosperous future. A good father does more than those things.

A good dad provides for the spiritual needs

Though it is important to make sure that our children have all the material things they need in this life to live comfortably, we should realize that is not the only thing that should concern us. As fathers, we have an even greater responsibility to them, and that is to help make sure their spiritual needs are provided for; that they are taught the true religion. That is not a personal opinion; that is what the Holy Scriptures teaches:

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with loving kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4 Amplified 2015)

The apostles advise the fathers inside the true Church Of Christ that they are to bring up or raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. As fathers, we are not to let our children  grow up without any meaningful parental guidance or instruction. Though there are plenty of books and videos out there on the subject of raising kids, what we should take and hold on to as the ultimate guide or final authority in raising our children are the teachings and instructions of the Lord God, recorded in the Holy Scriptures (III Tim. 3:15-17). If ever the advice offered in a parenting book, video, or online post contradicts the sound or solid advice in the Holy Scriptures, we should choose to—without any hesitation or mental reservation whatsoever—follow and implement what the Scriptures say, for that is surely the right thing to do. A father will not go wrong if he sticks to or does what the Bible says is right.

       We should teach our children the laws of God, as fathers, not only once in a while or when the mood strikes us. We should do this consistently or on a regular basis, at all opportune times:

      “You and your descendants must respect the LORD your God as long as you live. You must obey all His laws and commands that I give you today. Be sure to teach them to your children. Talk about these commands when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:2, 6-7, Easy-To-Read Version)

We should realize, however, that our duty as fathers or parents is not done by simply telling our children what to do or by teaching them God’s will. We should be considerate and understanding with our children, and help them to know and understand the will of God. Be a patient and gentle teacher (II Tim. 2:24-25; I Thess. 2:11-12). We should also supervise or monitor their activities to make sure they are living the right way, that they are upholding a way of life that is consistent with the gospel of God.

Parents are to supervise the activities of the members of their family. We should ask ourselves: Are we doing this? Are we aware who their friends are and the people they hang out with? Is everyone living a lifestyle that conforms to God’s will or teachings? If not, what actions do we take to help them back on the right track? Parental instruction and supervision is vital for the happiness of the family within God’s nation. As dads, we must make sure that such instruction and supervision is done.

 

A good dad upholds biblical principles

The kind of leadership that, we fathers, provide within our home should be one that is firmly based on sound principles. The principles we uphold are a reflection of the things that matter most to us. For members of the Church Of Christ, the nation of God in the Christian era, a principle that they uphold and instill in their children is that—they will serve God. This is what God’s servant, Joshua, a family man himself, declared:

“But if you don’t want to worship the LORD, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!” (Joshua 24:15, Contemporary English Version)

Joshua said these words when he, as the leader of God’s people, challenged the Israelites to make up their minds about whom they were going to serve: the false gods that others had served before them, or the true God? For this father, his mind was already made up. He led his family in deciding to stand on God’s side and serve only Him. He declared with conviction, “My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD!” That principle is what we, as fathers of the Church Of Christ, want to uphold in our life, no matter how turbulent at times life may be; we are ready and willing to lead our wife and children in serving the one true God forever, even if it involves making sacrifices on our part.

To help encourage and convince our family to stand with us in upholding that principle, we should be willing to take the time to relate to them the wonderful things that God has done for us, our family, and the entire nation of God. This was instructed to parents in God’s nation before:

“You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well. …And what makes us greater than other nations? We have God who is close to us and answers our prayers.” (Deut. 4:9, 7, Ibid.)

That is why it is important that we remember the good things that God has done. We are not only talking about the incredible things that God did for His ancient people; we are also talking about the amazing things that He has done for His people today. How greatly has God blessed the Church Of Christ and made it successful in all its endeavors since its establishment in 1914, more than 102 years ago? How wonderfully has He cared for us, the members? This shows how God has been so close to His people. When our children understand this, when they have this firmly embedded in their hearts and minds, it will produce in them an eagerness and enthusiasm to take their stand in the side of serving the one true God. This is what we want to see happen, as good fathers.

It is not enough, though, that our children just know about the one true God. To show that we have taken our stand to serve God we should be filled with determination to lead our wife and children to attend worship services to honor and praise Him for all His goodness.

“The Lord will choose a single place where He is to be worshiped, and there you must bring to Him everything that I have commanded: your sacrifices that are to be burned and your other sacrifices, your tithes and your offerings, and those special gifts that you have promised to the LORD. Be joyful there in His presence, together with your children …” (Deut. 12:11-12, Good News Translation)

Good dads in the Church Of Christ always make sure that all the members of their households are fully dedicated to attending the congregational worship service. They see to it that no matter how busy life gets, everyone in the family regularly attends the worship service, to give glory to the Lord God.

 

A good dad defends his wife and children

A good dad is a protector of his family; he does everything he can to keep them safe. For example, he is ready to defend them from bad people who want to hurt or take advantage of them. But, most of all, he will defend his wife and children from anything that could call them to be turned away from God. This is what the Bible says:

“Make sure that no man, woman, family, or tribe standing here today turns from the LORD our God to worship the gods of other nations. This would be like the root that grows to be a bitter and poisonous plant.” (Deut. 29:18, Ibid.)

What causes people to be turned away or separated from God is sin (Isa. 59:2). So, we want to make sure that no one in our family is doing anything that is sinful in the watchful eyes of the Lord God. We want to help our children cultivate in themselves the ability to refuse (or say no) to do anything evil when people, like friends, try to get them to do it. Solomon, a king and a father himself, told his own child:

“My son, should your less honorable peers pressure you to do what is wrong, you should be strong enough not to go along.” (Prov. 1:10, The Voice)

We want to see our children grow and learn to be able to stand on their own feet. We want them to succeed in getting a good education and a gainful job or career that can provide for their needs and their future families. But, most of all, we want them to be spiritually strong as members of the Church Of Christ. But that will happen only when the true word of God, has found a home in them or lives in them. This is what Apostle John wrote:

“I write to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One. Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world.” (I John 2:14-16, GNT)

 

A good dad and his family will be blessed

As good fathers who diligently and patiently teach the true religion to our household, who lead our wife and children to live a life of obedience and loyalty to the Lord God, we will see Him bless our entire household. We will enjoy happiness and blessings from God even in this life:

“Happy are those who obey the LORD, who live by His commands. Your work will provide for your needs; you will be happy and prosperous. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in your home, and your children will be like young olive trees around your table. A man who obeys the LORD will surely be blessed like this.” (Ps. 128:1-4, Ibid.)

But that is not all. For the ultimate happiness or blessing that awaits a family that has been taught the true religion—where the father has done his duty to make sure his family has learned and abides by the true word of God—is the reward of salvation and everlasting life in the Holy City (Rev. 21:1-4, 14).

If we and our whole family have served God loyally all the days of our lives and, thus, make it to the Holy City, then what more can we say? As imperfect and flawed as we are as men, we have done our job as a father and could ask for nothing more. So, let us be the father that God wants us to be.


By JOHNNY J. MARTIN

 

Praying for the dead: Biblical or not?

Why don’t Church of Christ members pray for their dead?

   Members of the Church Of Christ do not pray or their dead because it is not prescribed by the Bible. Not only is this practice unbiblical, but it is also pointless. This is so because the Bible says:

“For the living know hat they will die; But the dead know nothing. And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished: Nevermore will the have a share in anything done under the sun.” (Eccl. 9:5-6, New King James Version, emphasis ours)

Those who die return to dust (Gen. 3:19), lying in their graves until the heavens are no more, or on Judgment Day, the time when they will rise again to face judgment (Job14:112; II Pet 3:10; John 5:23-29; Matt. 25:31-34, 41, NKJV).

Indeed, praying for the welfare of the dead is in vain. Clearly, there is nothing the living can do that will benefit the dead. For these reasons members of the Church Of Christ do not pray for their dearly departed.


Source: God’s Message Magazine

Pursuing wisdom wisely

 

PROVIDING GOOD EDUCATION is one of the responsibilities of parents to their

children. This is why responsible parents strive not only to send their children to good schools but consistently encourage them to give their best in their studies. For without it, one’s bid for a bright future might be jeopardized. Truly then, the pursuit of wisdom is vital in achieving ones dreams. Whereas others suffer because of outright failure to obtain a good education, others do because, although they are learned, they use their wisdom wrongly. Worst of all, many have failed to discern which knowledge man needs the most As true Christians, we should be able to avoid such follies Thus, it would greatly hep both the parents and children to keep in mind and heart the following:

 

Invest in education

The Bible tells us, thus: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7, New International Version). Thus, parents should save up (II Cor 12:14) for their children’s education In extreme cases where parents ae incapable of sending their children to school, the latter should strive by themselves by working part-time or studying short-term or vocational courses.

 

Learn well

One cannot hope to become skilled in his or her chosen field without studying well. It pays that one truly devotes himself to his studies because the Bible says: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Prov. 22:29, NIV). Clearly, one gains a more favorable status when he is a skilled worker or professional. Thus, the youth should strive to gain competence and expertise in their chosen career or vocation.

 

Don’t use your wisdom to sin

We should not allow our own wisdom to mislead us into committing sins This is what God tells those who use their wisdom to commit evil, thus: “You felt sure of yourself in your evil; you thought that no one could see you. Your wisdom and knowledge led you astray and you said to yourself, ‘I am God—there is no one else like me.’ Disaster will come upon you, and none of your magic can stop it Ruin will come upon you, and none of your magic can stop it Ruin will come on you suddenly—ruin you never dreamed of!” (Isa.47:10-11, Ibid.). Thus, parents should not stop giving their children admonition just because they have already grown up and already in school. On their part, Christian youth should stay humble enough to heed God’s teachings imparted by their parents.

 

Don’t make human wisdom the basis for faith

In I Corinthians 2:4-5, Apostle Paul an ambassador of Christ, says: “And my teaching and message were no delivered with skillful words of human wisdom, but with convincing proof of the power of God’s Spirit” (Ibid). Thus, no matter what one learns in school , he should remain faithful to the commandments of God. No matter how lofty one’s educational attainment gets a true Christian will never give up the true faith and will never turn to man’s hollow and deceptive philosophies (Col. 2:8, NIV)

 

Seek God’s wisdom over and above human wisdom

We should never forget that over and above all knowledge is the wisdom of God contained in the Holy Scriptures which can lead man to salvation (II Tim. 3:15, TEV). Hence, true Christians  should seek and value God’s words above human wisdom.

 

 

Seek refuge in God and not in human wisdom

The Bible records a prayer of a true servant of God, thus: “LORD, I have come to you for protection; never let me be defeated! Because you are righteous, help me and rescue me Listen to me and save me! Be my secure shelter and a strong fortress to protect me; you are my refuge and defense. … Sovereign LORD, I put my hope in you; I have trusted in you since I was young” (Ps. 71:1-3, 5, Ibid.). The same conviction should be seen in us, members of the Church of Christ Thus, parents should constantly remind their children that more than human wisdom, more than a good education, a truly bright future depends on the mercy and grace of God. The youth should learn to place their complete trust in God. 

Aaron’s wooden rod

 

THEN THE LORD SAID TO Moses, “Tell the people of Israel that each of their tribal chiefs is to bring you a wooden rod with his name inscribed upon it. Aaron’s name is to be on the rod of the tribe of Levi.  Put these rods in the inner room of the Tabernacle where I meet with you, in front of the Ark. I will use these rods to identify the man I have chosen: for buds will grow on his rod! Then at last this murmuring and complaining against you will stop!”     

So Moses gave the instructions to the people, and each of the twelve chiefs (including Aaron) brought him a rod. He put them before the Lord in the inner room of the Tabernacle, and when he went in the next day, he found that Aaron’s rod, representing the tribe of Levi, had budded and was blossoming, and had ripe almonds hanging from it! When Moses brought them out to show the others, they stared in disbelief! Then each man except Aaron claimed his rod.

The Lord told Moses to place Aaron’s rod permanently beside the Ark as a reminder of this rebellion. He was to [bring it out and show it to the people again] if there were any further complaints about Aaron’s authority; this would ward off further catastrophe to the people. So Moses did as the Lord commanded him.


(Excerpted from Numbers 17:1-11, Living Bible)