Category Archives: Bible

Going back to the garden.

What is 28 days of faith and food?  This month we pledge to seek a more balanced approach to food as enjoyment and fuel.  Together we will discover delicious recipes, healthy tips and find a little food for thought as we dive into the Bible to discover a little more of what God says regarding food.
_______________________________________________________ Before we begin I suggest reading Genesis 3 to get a little background on the topic we’ll be discussing.

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The scene is set.  A beautiful garden, a lovely young girl.  Wandering through the garden seemingly aimless, uncertain of what to do next she is met by a friend or so she thinks.  This friend convinces her to try something that she knows is forbidden, he convinces her it will do no harm.

This moment filled with temptation, seduction and pressure.  We’ve all had a moment like this.  A day when we’ve been trying to eat right and a friend hands us a donut saying it can’t hurt, it’s only one day.  A moment when a magazine ad caught our eye and those Oreos with rainbow frosting suddenly became irresistible.   We know the rules.  We know to avoid processed food.  We know to limit our portions.  Yet when we enter society there is so much around us, so much to tempt us and seduce us.  How can we possibly resist?

When we look at the story of Eve and this forbidden fruit we see that ultimately she makes a choice.  She chooses to take that bite, chooses to give in to the pressure that surrounds her.  We also have to make that choice.  Temptations today may not come in the form of an apple or a pomegranate, they might come in a bag of kettle chips or a slice of pound cake, but they are real.  The choices might not have the eternal consequences that Eve faces but they do come with consequences.  Each morsel of food has the potential to provide our bodies with antioxidants, nutrients and healthy calories it needs to keep going.  Our choices affect how we feel and function in this world.

In a way it’s rather humbling to realize how little things have changed over time. To realize that temptation is still such a force in our modern lives when things are supposed to be easier and experts have all the answers.   We are told what to eat, what not to eat and how much of everything.  In all of the rigidity, in all of the rules it would seem that we’ve forgotten something very important.  God has given us food to eat and enjoy.  In the story of Adam and Eve there is only one tree that’s off limits, we’ve got the whole world to explore and enjoy.

There is so much available to us in the world.   So many fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils and so much more.  God has given us a world of food to explore and discover.   Unfortunately we’ve lost sight of how appealing this food is, we’ve discovered ways to change and manipulate God’s gift to us to create some pretty unhealthy things.  It’s time to take our food back.

This week as we make our food choices we need to listen for our serpents, for the voices in our heads that attempt to sway us and drag us in directions we don’t wish to go.  We want to make healthy choices from foods that are given to us by God.  This week the goal is to discover the rest of the food in the garden, to find the things Eve overlooked when she was seduced by the forbidden fruit.

As you head out this week to do your shopping pick up a fruit or vegetable you’ve never had before, grab some beans if you’ve never used them and experiment with the gifts in God’s garden.  If the ingredient list is a mile long or you don’t know what an ingredient is, put it back.  This week we embrace the food that God has given us.  This week we’re going back to the garden.  As we go through the week I’m will post some recipes as I experiment myself and if you have any great culinary success let me know and I’ll post a link here.  We’re all in this together!

Faith and Food Challenge:

Every week I thought I would add in an extra challenge for those who are interested.  This week’s Faith and Food Challenge comes from Michael Pollan who says “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re probably not hungry.”  This week every time we’re about to mindlessly munch or grab a few crackers we should ask ourselves if we want an apple.  If I’m not hungry enough for an apple, I’m probably not hungry.

 

I’m getting a little tired of 1 Timothy…

Women have always been a part of things.  From the very beginning Women have played an important role in the life and times of the people of God.  The moment that Eve plucked that apple {or some might say pomegranate} from the tree, women have definitely impacted the faith in good ways and in bad, much like the men.  As you travel through the Bible one encounters judges who were women, mothers who made choices, prophetesses who spoke the word of God, and countless others who impacted a people and helped shape their faith.

Lately it seems that the focus of much of the Christian blogging community has been placed on keeping women in their place.  On preventing women from taking positions of authority.  I wonder why so much emphasis and energy is placed on preventing ministry from being done?  Is this a good use of our resources?

There are so many blogs and so much passion surrounding this topic.  I’m pleased that people are invested in their faith but I have to say I’m getting a little tired of reading the same argument over and over again stating that 1 Timothy clearly indicates that I should not be an ordained pastor and women have no place in the church.  It’s interesting to me that things are so cut and dry for some people.  Life is rarely black and white.  Things are never that easy, at least not in the world I live in.  Jesus rarely spoke directly about anything.  His parables were told in such a way that not everyone would understand.  I just don’t think it’s as easy as picking one passage from the Bible to determine who’s in and who’s out as far as leadership goes.

When we look at 1 Timothy 2, there’s so much more than just the verse regarding leadership.  Shortly thereafter we see that the author of this letter declares women to be saved by childbearing after he forbids them from teaching. Do we honestly still believe that? What about women who don’t have children? Do we think a woman is only good with God once she bears a child?  I always thought that it was Jesus’ redemptive actions that saved us.

Understanding and interpretation changes over the years thanks to the infinite, complex and mysterious creator who continues to engage and enlighten us.  When we read the Bible we need to understand the context and the culture of the time it was written.  Reading the Bible through our own lens instead of that of a 1st century person risks skewing the meaning and the message behind it.  We must remember that 1 Timothy is first and foremost a letter written from one colleague to another addressing specific concerns relating to the Church in Ephesus.

These letters weren’t written as scripture or as a history for us.  They were written for a community, in this case it was from one colleague to another.  The author wasn’t thinking about the future, he was thinking about Timothy’s ministry in his present.  I think this is why we as a church tend to get in trouble with the Epistles.  The authors weren’t actually writing for us, they were writing for their communities.  They were writing the present, not the future.

I do accept the Epistles as scripture and see merit in reading them but I feel we must learn as much as we can about the context of the time and place we are reading about.  They are a large part of our history, a great part of our story and when we read them we must remember their original purpose.  None of the Bible can be read in isolation.  Everything comes from something. Everything has a story around it and all of that impacts the words we read on the page.

God has blessed us with a faith that is filled with mystery and wonder.  Our story has fear and hope, desire and passion.  We long to connect with God and that’s one thing that never changes.  Our history tells tales of men and women who’ve fought bravely for the faith, who’ve done what God asks and never gave up.  Women do play a part in this story.  We read stories of Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Esther, Mary, Martha and so many more who’ve made lasting imprints on the fabric of our faith.  Each woman played a role.  Each one was called by God into service.  Each one played a part in bringing us to this point in our journey as a people of God.

We all have a part to play, a story of our own.  My story was challenged and affirmed by the church as I wrestled with discovering what it was God wanted from my life.  I was called by God to minister to his people.  That’s my story.  I am called by God to do his work and I happen to be a woman.  Women have always played a part in the workings of the people of God, I don’t think God wants to change that now.

 

Frozen in fear

I have been accused in the past of having high expectations of people.    That I think they are capable of more then they actually are.  I’ve been told that I should just accept that some things won’t change.  I doubt God endorses this philosophy as God is constantly pushing people to change, to be better and to trust him.  This is seen time and again in the Bible and in our own lives if we’re honest.  God wants good things for people, for all people and that rarely lets anyone off the hook when it comes to change.

I think this is why I get so frustrated with the church.  Presbyterians in particular are notorious for halting any hint of change with debate and discussion.  We table absolutely everything.  We claim we are waiting on the Holy Spirit but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit is dancing about in the room and no one is willing to see it. We are afraid of doing anything for fear that it might be wrong or it won’t work.

This fear is killing us.  It’s paralyzed us.  We aren’t doing anything for fear of offending or losing people.  We do this delicate dance around this issue of change and growth.  We never want to talk about what needs to be done because we are afraid.  In my reading this week I came across a passage in Deuteronomy where Moses reminds the people of God that God is always with them.  That God in fact goes before them:

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 NRSV

We need to remember that God is going before us.  Our trust should be in God, not our processes.  We need to accept that movement is part of faith.  Movement and change are built into our history.  There is only one constant, God.  That constant is the thing we should cling to.  We need to push through the fear we feel.  God has moved on and is expecting us to catch up.  It’s time to let go of our attachments to what we know and move forward into the unknown believing that God will provide.

Do you think that’s possible?
Will we find the courage to follow God into a new {different} life?

Here it is…

When I announced the I was going through Leviticus I knew that someone would want to know my stance on Homosexuality and Jesus.  I didn’t expect it to come quite so fast but thanks Robert for prompting me to share.

Here’s it is:

God doesn’t make mistakes.  God makes people.  Some people are gay, some are straight and I think God loves everyone.  Some of you might wonder why I would say this.  You might think I’m a horrible Christian for believing this but here me out.  I don’t think God ever intended for us to hate gay people and I’m fairly certain as a church we’ve got it wrong.

The first thing I thought when I got to Leviticus 18:22 was “well I guess it’s ok to be a Lesbian”.  There’s no mention of women/women relationships and I guess that’s probably due to the fact that women were not really citizens.  I’m not sure why we got hung up on this line really.  It’s one line in a bunch of lines that we don’t really follow anymore.  Think about it for a moment

Truthfully there’s a lot more said about menstruation, semen emissions and sleeping with other animals then there is about homosexuality.

I do not know why one rule is held up over these others.  I do not understand why  Christians who follow Jesus think it’s okay to hate others.  Jesus spoke love into the world.  Jesus lived love in the world.  Jesus showed us how much God loved us and tried to demonstrate how we should live.

When asked which were the most important parts of the law Jesus said “‘…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” {Matthew 22:37-40 NIV}

We need to love our neighbor.  We need to love them.  This is what Jesus taught us to do.  We are called to love, serve and speak God into the world.  We need to love.

I love gay people.
I love you too.
I try to love everyone.
That’s what Jesus taught me to do.

God doesn’t quit.

I’m wading through Leviticus right now and am awfully thankful I was not a priest back in the day.  I don’t think I could have done it.  I really would have had a hard time killing a cow/sheep/insert animal here.   I’d make friends with it and then when the time came to say good bye I don’t think I’d be able to do it.  It’s really not something I would have to worry about though as I’m a women and therefor unclean a lot of the time and also unworthy of the task.

Have I mentioned how thankful I am not to have been a priest back then?

A few days ago I decided to read the Bible from front to back as I was jumping all over the place.  I started to wonder if I was missing key things because I wasn’t following a plan.  This forces me to hit areas of the Bible that I forget about. Leviticus is one of those areas.

As I’ve been reading through from Genesis to Leviticus 16 and what I’m really appreciating about God this run through is that God lays everything out neatly in great detail {in fact some might argue too much detail} so that the people of God ‘get it’.   God’s people make mistakes and he stays with them.  Explaining things over and over again.  He doesn’t quit.

We worship a God who doesn’t quit.
This is great news!

God doesn’t quit.  God is there.  Persevering through the ages.  Trying to catch our attention and draw us back into right relationship with him.  God loves us so much he even joins us on earth for a bit to see if that helps.  God is pretty great that way.  We’re pretty lucky people.

I think this is something we need to remember.  We think if we’ve made a mistake it’s over.  We think we can’t turn back but the truth is we can.  We can always go back.  Even when we build a golden calf, we can always go back.

We worship a God who doesn’t quit.
Even when we as individuals don’t ‘get it’.
Even when we as a church don’t ‘get it’.

God doesn’t quit.
We shouldn’t quit either…

Great things might happen.

This weekend I’m preaching on Luke 24:36b-48 and I didn’t intend to.  I thought I would preach on 1 John but something kept calling me back to this passage of doubt and the disciples.  How they were scared and unsure when Jesus arrived.  How Jesus brought peace.  How he was patient with them in their uncertainty.  How he didn’t give up on them.  It spoke to me.

Jesus offered the disciples a tactile experience.  He allowed them to touch, to feel him.  He showed them how alive he was by eating and just being with them.  He calmed the chaos in simple ways.  He just was with them and brought them peace. This was his way of connecting to them after the resurrection.  It is so simple yet beautiful.

There’s so much we could learn from this.  He calmed the chaos by offering peace and just being there. As the church in transition we are living in a state of anxiety.  Anxious about what we should do, how we should act and what we are doing wrong, we find ourselves flailing looking for answers.  What we need to do is surrender control to God and just be.  We should be witnessing to the moments of grace that God has shown us.  We should be sharing the power of God in our own lives as individuals.

In our anxiety is feels like we’re trying to plan our way out of this mess.  We hope that with a powerpoint projector or some kind of fancy program people will see Jesus.  We believe if we find the next best thing they’ll realize the importance of Church.  Those things are great but they aren’t how Jesus did things.  If we look at Jesus’ example, he ministered through relationship.  Everything he did was about people and he didn’t have an agenda.  It was never about growing a church or keep one open.  He ministered and shared God’s love because he loved people and wanted them to know there was nothing God wouldn’t do to get into relationship with them.

That’s the best part of the Christian message isn’t it?  There’s nothing God wouldn’t do to get into relationship with you.  God loves us so much that he would die so that we could always be with him.  This kind of love is so incredible.  It’s so powerful.  It’s our story to tell and we should tell it.

We are witnesses to this great love.  We should share our individual stories of grace and the power of God in our lives.  If we let go of our anxiety and started to just share the story we would find ourselves in the communities in which we live.  We would meet people and discover who they are.  We would find out what the needs of the community were and we could begin to meet them.  There would be a sharing of lives, our stories and love would flow abundantly.  With no agenda beyond living the message of grace and love in the world, great things might happen.

It could be incredible if we just let go and lived.
It could be incredible if we just let go and trusted God.
Do you think it’s possible for us to ever let go and truly trust God?

An Easter Reflection: They had a choice

The sun is beginning it’s stretch into the sky.  Two women gather at the door while waiting for one inside.  They are ready to go.  Eager to begin the most dreaded task.  Eager to finish so they can try to move on.  She leaves her home, gently shutting the door behind her so as not to disturb those who may still be asleep.  It’s time.  They begin their journey.

They walk arms tucked in close to their bodies.  Baskets hanging from their arms bounce against their hips as they try to stay warm, try to stay unnoticed.  They walk together towards a tomb. Stories pass among them of better days.  Laughter slips out uncomfortably and they look to each other for acceptance and peace.  Their grief echoes with each step.  This is a terrible journey.

Their conversation shifts and one woman raises the question they were all thinking.  “Who will roll the stone away?”  The stone that is far too heavy for them.  Who will move it? They keep going, determined to succeed.  Regardless of the obstacle that lies ahead they know what they have to do.  They must give their teacher a small portion of what he gave them.  They must show him love in this final task.

As they arrive at the tomb their worries shift.  The stone is no longer an issue.  They are now faced with something much worse.  Their friend’s grave has been tampered with.   The three of them look at one another.  Lines on their forehead begin to collect sweat as they panic.  What will they do?  What if the thieves are still in there?

Bravely, together they burst forth into the tomb.  Almost as if to surprise who is there.  They don’t surprise him, he surprises them.  He sits as if waiting for them.  Dressed all in white, calm and collected.  The women alarmed hold each other for support.

He is waiting for them.  They wonder why?  What’s going to happen now? Where is his body?  What has this man done?

He tells them not to worry.  He tells them of a miracle that’s happened.  That Jesus is up, he’s alive.  He tells them to go tell the others.   He expects them to do it right away.  Backing out of the tomb.  The women turn and flee.  Uncertain of what to do.  They tell no one. Their instructions were to share.  We’re told they said nothing.

They said nothing…yet.

We know the end of the story.  We know they shared with others.
We’re gathered all over the world today celebrating this moment because they told shared the message and it has now been shared with us.

They had a choice.
They could choose belief or disbelief.
They could choose to keep this good news or to share it.

Today because of their choice we gather and celebrate.
Today because of their choice we know Jesus and his love.
Today because of their choice the world is changed.  Hope is reborn.  Life is new.

He is risen.
He is risen indeed!

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This is based on the Easter Story found in the Gospel of Mark.  If you’d like to read more click here.