World events in the last few weeks have given me cause to wonder. In both positive and negative ways. I’m naturally a reflective person, so any time events happen, my heart turns to mulling over ideas and trying to understand. It’s been heartbreaking to see the response to attacks of terror, especially from those who label themselves Christ-followers or Christians. The response of fear, hatred, anger and venom have reflected something that is very Anti-Christ. It’s completely against the Good News that we are supposed to carry. So, this morning, I just wanted to take a moment and wonder what would be different if we chose to live in a place of wonder. To wonder and reflect on those things that we need to be challenged by and work on, and to wonder and reflect on those things that are brilliant and stunning and beautiful and filled with love and goodness.Read More
Again, something from a bit further back in time… originally written in 2005, and revamped a little in January. Hey, it’s good to look back.
The first sin had to do with food. The Serpent said, “chow time” and humanity lost everything. Innocence, good times in the Garden, and relationship with God. Gluttony took over and humankind … wait. Gluttony? What is gluttony anyway? Dictionary.com has a rather vague definition, something along the lines of “eating or drinking in excess.” But really, why is that a “deadly sin?” God seems intimately concerned with our food. His first commandment regarded food in the Garden. Under Law, kashrut (keeping kosher) governed many aspects of daily life. Under grace, freedom in diet became a prominent issue. God is involved with our diets. He cares that no one go hungry, that we ask him for our “daily bread.” And yet, so few of us surrender our diets to him. How often do we “drive thru” because we’re running late? Or grab junk food because it’s easy?
Eating disorders are rampant. And, I’m not simply discussing those who are refusing to ingest calories. I’m also talking about those people like me…the ones who get stressed out over finals and drive 20 minutes to 7-11 to get the pack of peanut butter M’n’Ms and the Yoohoo. The stress-eaters, compulsive-eaters, fidgety-eaters, boozers, winos, munchers, and gourmets. Anyone who surrenders their self-control to food or beverage rather than Christ. This, my friends, is gluttony. And the consequences of this sin are both vast and manifold. Obesity, heart problems, diabetes, self-esteem issues, depression, cavities, high cholesterol, and liver problems to name a few. Yet, we eat what we want, when we want. We are defiant and “in control” of this area, leaving God to deal with the “spiritual” stuff. Gluttony takes over when we allow our own desires and wants to fill our bodies in the same way that pride takes over when we allow our own desires and wants to fill our souls. I believe that our bodies are just as important to God as our souls. Food has left the realm of fuel or art and entered the realm of instant gratification and hedonism. “If it tastes good, eat it!” Portion sizes are out of control, and people are needing to staple their stomachs in order to learn how not to eat. And yet, the church rarely confronts this as sin. As we in the US have more food in our trash each month than a microstate sees in a year, are we really being faithful with *all* that God has given us?
Our gluttony no longer affects just us and our bodies, or our relationship with God, but also the world. Jesus reinstates Peter by asking him to feed his sheep. He is constantly concerned with feeding the hungry. Jesus’ view of super-sizing a meal is multiplying bread and fish to feed 5000 people, not so that the boy can make himself sick to his stomach. His prophets reveal wrath unto Israel for allowing his people to go without food. Is it really necessary to “super-size” it in our way? There is a huge discrepancy between the amount of food we consume and the labor we produce or the effort we expend feeding the hungry. Our assumption that all food is ours for the taking and consuming and throwing away blatantly goes against God’s desire for those who are hungry to be fed. We’ve been blessed with wealth for God’s goodness and pleasure, not our own.
I’m not perfect. I’ll admit. I struggle with stress-eating. I’m having to radically transform my life in order to submit my food and diet to God. But it’s worth it. Just because we can afford to eat whatever we’d like doesn’t mean that we ought to. “Everything is permissible” but not everything is beneficial (1 Cor 10:23). With Lent just around the corner, I encourage you to fast from some food that you hold precious. Four years ago, my first fast was potatoes – do you have any idea how many things are based on potatoes? But it was worth it. Now, I don’t have to have the fries at In-N-Out, but I choose to. And the blessing before the meal really means something. As I’ve been surrendering food back to God, it’s amazing how my “Dear Jesus, yay for food” really becomes meaningful to me. I can delight in my food, be present to my meals, and remember who provides it. And by allowing myself to say no to myself sometimes, it allows me to often say yes to other people – like giving the guy holding out the cup my banana and power bar for breakfast because he needs it more than I do.
We live in the idle world of the everyday, praying for something more, something meaningful for which to live. And when those things don’t come, we always hold onto the hope that someday they will appear. But do they? There is always hope, but sometimes that hope seems so distant and so unlikely.
We find something, someone to cling to. They give us hope in this dark, dreary world, where war is always just around the corner and fear is a part of our daily lives. We listen to announcements about curfews and curses. We spend half our lives in pursuit of a goal that will never satisfy. Until we, like the precious money we so covet, are completely spent. We lose our emotions, our willingness, our courage.
And I still want to get hurt.
Because I was willing to be vulnerable and to trust my hope.
Because I was willing to open the floodgates and invite someone else in.
Because I wanted something more.
I knew deep down inside that the pain and anguish that I would inevitably feel would dissipate to be replaced with strength. Nothing loved is ever lost or perished. I will not allow myself to live in fear of pain. I will not allow myself the luxury of regret.
It had been an incredibly long day. I had left Berkeley early that morning, a bit rough from the night before. I’m honestly not sure whether or not I had even slept. But I arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t come for a specific purpose, but then again, in those days, I ran full gypsy, embracing the road like a drunken lover. I had left Berkeley in order to run from something – I was usually running from something – and arrived in Los Angeles in order to escape.
Dead tired, red-eyed from lack of sleep, I decided my next step. It didn’t matter that it was nearing midnight, or that I hadn’t even rested in days, I headed out to the Nuart. It was Saturday night, and Sins of the Flesh was on. I had never wanted to perform in the show, but normally it was enough to go and see the old crowd. Various people would come at various times. But this night was slightly different. Someone was joining the navy the next day.
I think many of us were still wondering why
Based on the ancient doctor Luke’s telling of the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus:
Read the ancient text here
In this text in Luke, we have the Transfiguration. At first glance, it seems like a simple tale of Jesus’ glory revealed. But as I was trying to read more closely, I noticed a few things.
First, Moses and Elijah don’t just appear to cheer Jesus on. God does that himself a few verses later. Verse 31 talks about an Exodus and fulfillment. Considering that Luke puts this story between two stories about his prediction about his death, this makes a great deal of sense. Because Moses and Elijah are probably the best two people that God could have sent to Jesus to help him understand his mission there.
Moses – the son of unfulfilled promises and Elijah – the son of silence and glory…
This post will be the first in a series of three. My original single post wound up far too long, so I figured wisdom dictated breaking it up. All three posts are grounded in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4, verses 1 to 24.
There are two portions to this text – the testing in the desert, and Jesus’ return to his hometown.
Jesus and His Trials in the Desert
There are three tests here:
- the temptation to turn a stone into bread (here in Part One)
- the splendour and authority of the world (read more in Part Two)
- a wild leap of faith (read more in Part Three)
Henri Nouwen, in his In the Name of Jesus, deals with these three trials. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it. I’ll be working somewhat from his work, and also moving forward from my own reflections.
Test 1: A Stone into Bread
Jesus has been fasting for 40 days (which in the Bible normally translates as an inexplicably long time). And wouldn’t you know it, he’s hungry. We’re in the beginning of Lent, in which we can give up things or take up new disciplines in order to come closer to understanding God’s purpose and presence in our lives, as well as the things that Jesus gives or takes up in his journey to the cross at Easter. Lent can be a special time. But have you ever noticed that the more that you cannot have something, the more that you want it? For example, I don’t eat pork or shellfish. In general, I have a cheeseburger about once a month or so – if not less frequently. But one year I went kosher for Lent. I hoped that I would learn more about a Godly perspective on food – which I did. But I’ll tell you, I also craved bacon and cheeseburgers and just about everything that I couldn’t eat while being kosher. It didn’t matter that I didn’t eat them regularly, it just mattered that I wasn’t supposed to eat them.
And Jesus was hungry.