Tag 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.

 

It all begins with an apple…

This July I thought I’d do something a little different.  Last year I did a mid-summer project that involved families and God.  It was great!  We loved it and I am glad we did it.  This year I thought we would spend the month of July dealing with food and faith.  A sort of quick glance at what the Bible has to say about the food we eat and how in today’s world we process it all.

Why faith and food?  Ultimately we all need to eat.  It’s an important function of survival but in today’s day and age when processed cheese has replaced the small batch cheese from years of old and cookies are bought instead of made it can be difficult to figure out how to relate to the gift of food that God has given us.  We are made to enjoy food {as we have all these wonderful senses} but perhaps we have taken things to the extreme with our extra large slurpies and low-carb diets.

This month I pledge to seek a more balanced approach to food as enjoyment and fuel.  I will endeavor to provide delicious recipes, healthy tips that I’ve found from reputable sources and food for thought as I dive into the Bible to discover a little more of what God says regarding food.

Every Monday throughout the month of July I’ll be writing about this and I’d love for you to join me.  This week our journey begins with Adam, Eve and Temptation.  After all it all began with an apple, didn’t it?

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?

You’d think I was in Seminary…

My Bible is permanently cracked open to the page that I last left off.  I cannot stop reading.  Not because it’s always interesting {it’s not} it’s because of the one random detail I never noticed before.  A small fact that had previously slipped my notice or was long ago forgotten.

There’s a book that rests beside my Bible filled with notes on random things.  If you peeked inside you might find a comment on how old Aaron was when he died, how crazy the Israelites are to constantly complain over and over again when God is sure to hear them and how not much has really changed as it still happens.  There are quotes and scripture references to go back to in the future.  It’s probably something I’ll never read again but at the time I felt like I had to remember whatever it was I wrote down.  So it’s written.  It is written.

I have no idea why I’m doing this.  I’ve read large chunks of what I’m reading before.  I am a little crazy I think.

I’m not getting anything accomplished really.  When I’m not doing this I’m reading Andy Stanley’s book Next Generation Leader and talking about it with my optometrist who then encouraged me to abandon everything and go to the Drive Conference in Atlanta.  It was tempting.  I’d love to be filled spiritually and find some new direction.

This might seem like rambling and I believe that it is but that’s truly where I sit right now.  I’m feel like we’re weaving through the desert heading into the promised land and I’m surrounded by people who don’t believe it, cannot fathom it, would push it away.  There are others who stand with me.  Others who stand apart and believe that things are possible but I wonder where our Moses is.  Who will lead us and push us and say the tough things?

I guess I should mosey on over to the New Testament and see what Jesus has to say for this week but my heart still hangs back with the Israelites as they threaten to enter the promised land.  Will they do it?  Will it actually happen for them?
Of course we know the answer.  We would know the answer for ourselves too if only we would trust.  The question is when will we do that?  When will we trust?

I probably should stop reading.  I probably should stop worrying about others and think about where I’m going to go next.  It’s just not likely to happen.  It’s not really my style.

So here I sit.  Reading and thinking.  Praying and reflecting.  Coming up with more questions instead of the answers I seek.  God is funny sometimes and I look forward to seeing where this all leads.

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?

It’s in the doing…

“Life’s not about expecting,
hoping and wishing.
It’s about doing,
being and becoming.
It’s about the choices you’ve just made,
and the choices you’re about to make,
it’s about the things you choose to say – today.
It’s about what you’re gonna do after you finish reading this. “
~Mike Dooley

“It’s about doing, being and becoming…”

What am I going to do after I finish reading this?
What am I going to do after I finish?
What am I going to do?

I’ve been mulling this phrase over in my head for quite some time.  What am I going to do?

I’m often told that I must wait to hear what the Lord requires, that I need to be patient and not move too quickly.  I am reminded that we need to sit in contemplation.  I am told that we must not move too quickly for fear of moving ahead of God’s plan for us.

I’m all for not jumping ahead but it seems to me that as Christians we’re being encouraged to do too much sitting.  Far more sitting still than Jesus ever did.  I feel like God is so much about the doing.

Take Micah 6:8 for example

“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.”

or Matthew 22:37-40

“Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

These two passages are really about doing.  About living and loving.  Being just, kind and fair to your neighbor and living as God wants us to in the world. We are told not to ourselves to seriously. Perhaps all of this contemplation is leading us astray and preventing us from doing.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of hoping, expecting and wishing that things will change.  It’s easy to sit and wait thinking someone else will take care of the mess we’re in.  But God reminds us that the most important thing, the thing that really matters is people.  The rest of our concerns are secondary to the needs of the people around us.  I’m going to listen to God.  I am going to do that thing, that important thing he says, I’m going to love.  I’m going to serve.  I’m going to put myself out there.

Maybe if I do this.  Maybe in this action I will find myself going where God is leading.   After reading this I know what I have to do, I have to become the person God is calling me to be and the only way to accomplish that is in the doing.

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          This post is part of the Gathered Thoughts Link Party that’s happening today at LoveFeastTable.  I was given the prompt by my fantastic hostess Donna at Hey Donna and the task was to write something inspired by that quote.  She sent me the quote on a beautiful card that unfortunately I cannot take a picture of due to a broken camera but as soon as I get it fixed – you’ll see a picture!
          I’m linking up with many others today and would love it if you’d pop over and check out some of the other posts that are going to be featured.  There were 365 cards sent out with inspiring phrases so you’ll be sure to see some amazing posts.  What I’ve read so far has been incredible!

Called out of the wilderness

“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1:9-13

Isn’t this a great moment.  Jesus is chosen, marked as special and then thrown out into the wilderness.  This would have been a huge moment in Jesus’ life and after he gets the accolades, it’s ripped from him.  It’s almost like God was afraid it would go to his head, that he would forget what he was supposed to do, that he would place himself above others instead of living with them.

I wonder if God threw his son out into the wilderness to give him some perspective.  Jesus understood what was at stake, he was born for it but God wanted to make sure he was prepared and ready for everything that was to come. This moment is a stepping stone, a place to learn and a trial to pass.  It was a necessary piece of the puzzle that helped shape what his ministry was to become.

In some ways it feels to me as though the Christian church has been thrust into the wilderness.  We had our moment of glory. The time when it was easy to be Christian and everyone went to Church and now God has said get out there.  Go be alone.  Figure out who and what you are and then, then we’ll talk.

Jesus persevered.  He passed his test.  He struggled and came out on top.  We will be so persistent?  Will we recognize our gifts, our blessings and be able to stand strong in our faith?  We will realize the need to fight for people, to share the faith and be willing to move and change as God calls us to?

This is our time of preparation.  A time when we are being called face to face before God and must answer the questions that are asked of us.   We are given a choice, to surrender to the temptation of the easy road or to embrace a new path few have tried.

After Jesus’ wilderness period he came back into society and became the best teacher the world has ever known.  He lived with people.  He shared meals and stories.  He loved them.  He embraced them, faults and all.  Our challenge is to live like this.  To exit our wilderness period with the same fire and determination to make this world a better place.  To encourage people to embrace relationship with God.  To help people understand that they matter to us and to our creator.

Imagine what a difference we could make if we chose to see our struggles as a time of preparation and focus.  If we could see it as God’s way of ensuring we are ready to move forward into his vision for our faith.

The time in the wilderness changed Jesus.  No longer just the son of God, he was now the son of God in action. He became a doer. He became someone who worked for people, who loved them and served them.   This is something we need to be as well.  We must be people of action.

We are being called out of the wilderness.  We are being told we must return to the world and be part of it once more.  Are we ready to take those bold steps?

A tent for Jesus.

As I was writing my sermon this week I was entertained by Peter’s interruption of the whole transfiguration moment.  As Jesus is conversing with Elijah and Moses, Peter interjects with an offer to built a tent for Jesus and the moment is over.  In the bible it actually goes like this:

 “…And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.  Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.”
                                                                                                             Mark 9:4-8 NIV

As soon as Peter tries to take some control of the situation God steps in, clouds the scene over and in effect says listen to my son.  It’s a very strong statement. It’s an important moment.  God seems to be reminding Peter that listening is good.   Peter loses his vision when he tries to take control.  He loses the connection when he jumps in before it’s his time to participate.

I think this is something we can all learn from.  When we try to take control of things and don’t allow God to guide us we can find our vision shut out.  It is important to follow Jesus.  We must listen to him as God commands.  We need to discern his path for us before we jump in and try to help fix things.

In a time of panic in our churches this is an important reminder that we are not to be in control.  It’s not about our comfort or easing our fears but instead about learning and listening.  Once we take a step back and begin to listen with our hearts we may find that our fears are eased and we have direction once more.