Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Where does it mention cannibalism in the Bible?

James Eating Bread
Image by Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha via Flickr

What if you walked into the movie “Tangled” and heard the line, “Frying pans, who knew?”  You might assume the movie is a kids cooking show and leave.  You would miss the story of an innocent girl successfully defending herself with a frying pan and finding deep inner courage.

That’s what happens when we read parts of scripture without knowing or connecting to the whole.

First impressions:

I knew someone who decided to pick up a Bible and read only the book of Ezekiel.  Why that section caught his attention, I’ll never know.  This prophetic book has some outrageous imagery, which I cannot yet fully understand.

He found himself stunned and decided the entire Bible was absurd.  How sad he had no one to guide him at this vital corner of his life.

Due to the depth of info found in this humble book, people spend their whole lives searching to discover its mysteries.  No matter how long we’ve studied, we need to surround ourselves with people who’ve known God and His story longer.  It doesn’t guarantee perfection (which is found in only in Christ), but it provides a guide for the road ahead.

Fellow hikers:

In the same way, those of us who’ve been on the road (that is reading scripture and living it) longer need to be brave enough to share our experience.

I went hiking with some friends in our local mountains.  Another group passed us on their return trip.  As we crossed one another, the second group shared, “Be careful, we saw a snake ahead.”

Rattle snakes often sun themselves in the morning hours on desert, mountain trails.  We decided to heed their advice, found a walking stick, and banged the ground as we walked.  In retrospect, we probably appeared stupid to anyone with binoculars aimed our direction,  but we didn’t care.

We aimed our eyes down and remained alert.  Then, we saw a head peek out from some bushes near the trail.  Because of our awareness, we easily startled the snake, waited for it to pass and continued our hike.  Without the warning of others, our morning activity could have ended differently.

But, cannibalism?

One section of scripture could be seen as Christ calling for cannibalism.  This section would make no sense to my very literal 7-year-old.  I wonder what would happen if someone picked up a Bible and flipped to this page without ever seeing the rest or seeking guidance.

Many parts of scripture say what they mean and mean what they say like, “Don’t commit murder.”  Sounds clear, right?

Other portions need more story to explain. Like one line from a movie, these verses tell part but not all.  The Bible is full of moments where it compares hunger and thirst to our desire for God.  The psalms says,

“As a deer pants for water, my soul longs for you.”

For people who lived predominantly on bread and water, these things defined their ability to live.  Israel’s history shows the need for bread.  For example, when they wandered in the desert, God provided bread from the sky (called manna).

God sustained them in a miraculous way.  Bread had great history for them.  God also provided water from them in outrageously unexplainable ways.

Jesus knew the history and used it to redefine bread.He called himself the Bread of Life.

He also knew the need for sacrifice.  The Israelite experience involved real blood sacrifice.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we do it too. How do you think we get meat?

With our eyes open and our ears ready, we can read the verses below and see more than what is written.  We see a sacrificial love and willingness to give all for those He loved.

   I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” John 6:48-56

Can you see how someone might assume cannibalism ?

My choice today:

Devour God’s word and seek guidance  from others who have munched more than me.

Have Bible verses ever thrown you?  Share what you thought and where you read it (if possible).

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Superfood for the spirit

lamb stew with leeks, lentils, yellow (heirloo...
Image via Wikipedia

Magazines and newspapers declare new superfoods annually. We read the benefits of everything from berries to dark chocolate.  Each amazing foodstuff holds great value for the body, but what about the spirit?

The mouth opens and intakes items to better build the body, but what feeds the spirit?

Instead of plucking the perfect item from a tree or vine, let’s consider this spiritual superfood a recipe.

Like a juicy stew, the flavors join together to create an intense mental meal. This combination will strengthen and build your spirit.  But beware, substitutions or alterations weaken the fortitude of this super supper.

What we think flows into our being and thoroughly shapes our spirit. It feeds us.  Here’s the recipe as found in Philippians 4:8:

Super-thought Stew 

2 cups of truth (Not my truth or your truth but the truth.  As Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”) 

1 cube of nobility (It implies having higher principles and consistently adhering to them.)

a sprinkle of right thinking (Ecclesiastes tells us, ‘Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” With that in mind, right thinking depends on God’s thinking.)

1 1/2 tbsp. purity (aka. Clean, modest, blameless, sinless thought…in other words, what Jesus would do). 

3 oz. of loveliness (That which inspires love.  Read the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13–patience, kind, not envious, etc.)

a drop of admirable actions (Actions inspiring approval, reverence, or affection. )

Blend until smooth and creamy to create excellent and praise worthy thoughts. 

Warning:  This precise combination produces spiritual strength and takes time to perfect.  The more you make it the better it gets. When in doubt speak with the Master Chef who created the stew.  He directs the eager student to the best ingredients every time. 


 

You’re welcome, no really, you are

Welcome
Image by alborzshawn via Flickr

We toss that expression out our mouths so fast.  Something happens, a kindness, a smile, allowing someone to pass us in the grocery line, and we say, “You’re welcome.”  But are they?

For some of us this is a skill, welcoming I mean.  I’ve known outrageously welcoming people.  One of my friends is so welcoming, she redesigned her home to make it more comfortable for others to visit.

I know people who greet you and smile and embrace each and every moment.  They are a blast to hang with.   It’s not like they hit servant mode or anything, they just make you feel good in their presence.  They invite people into their space regularly and enjoy it.

I want to be like them, but it doesn’t come easy.

For some people this is a natural skill, a spiritual gift possibly.  But all of us are designed to exist within a community.  We need it and want it, but don’t always know how to start.   I’m one of those non-natural starters, but that’s not going to deter me.  Don’t let it stop you either.

I want an open door attitude, in my house and in my heart.  The best way to start is to start.  Maybe I’m clunky and awkward, but hey, so was walking.  But now, I can prance down the street effortlessly.  This hospitality gig doesn’t have to intimidate.

I started learning how to welcome people.  While I don’t have it wired yet, I’m toddling better each day.  You can do it too.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  Invite people over, even if it feels uncomfortable.  You’ll get over it.

2.  Understand that people decline invitations all the time, this isn’t a knock on you. A busy world creates busy people.

3.  Smile.  Whether the house is perfectly clean or the meal perfectly finished, smile.

4.  Remember the mantra, “If at first you don’t succeed,” a burnt meal is better than no meal at all, and Pizza Hut delivers.

5.  Be the welcome wagon. Don’t wait for invitations, you may end up just waiting.  Take initiative and risk opening your home.

The Bible gives us great examples of this which have stuck in my head, and it pulls me out of my lethargy when I’m tempted to shut the doors and hide in my abode.  You knew I was going to bring the Bible into this, didn’t you?

The apostle Paul welcomed people:

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.” (Acts 28:30, NIV)

This is why he did it:

“We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:8, NLT)

For those of us who struggle with a welcoming attitude, the question is clear.  Do we love enough to really share ourselves?

I say, “Discomfort be darned.  You are welcome, you really are.”

My teeth look like your teeth

Smiling girl from Tatopani
Image by Dey via Flickr

As parents, we treasure certain moments as our children grow: first steps, first words, lost teeth.  I remember one unique occasion I’ll always treasure, when my eldest child learned about race.

Sitting in the lobby of our church as I met with a friend (I’ll call her Nina) from Kenya.  My eldest daughter (3 years old at the time) roamed the room.  In her pink dress and long, blond, tousled hair, she went under tables and touched everything available until she landed on my friend’s lap.  There my daughter remained throughout our conversation, holding hands and looking deeply at the beautiful lady seated across from me.

Suddenly she burst out, “Hey, your skin looks different from mine.”

There was no malice, no accusation present, merely observation.  Nina stated, “Yes, that’s true.”  She gazed into my little one’s eyes.

Again, my daughter declared, “Your eyes are different from mine.”

The gentle brown eyes sparkled at her tiny blues and again Nina said, “Yes, that’s true.”

Then, Nina still holding my girl’s hand, pointed out, “But our hands look similar and so do our nails.”

The three-year old pulled her own hand close to her face and next Nina’s.  “They are,” she said.  She looked up into Nina’s mouth and declared, “My teeth look like your teeth.”

It’s easy for us to noticed our differences and separate ourselves from one another because of those differences, but what if we choose to be more like a little child.  What if we choose to seek out the things we have in common.

The history of Christianity is filled with people who became caught up in the dissonance of life and not its harmony.  But we can learn from the early believers who reminded us this way:

Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

We’ll build more bridges with one another when we realize we’re using the same tools.  What are some similarities you can think of between you and other believers?

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Procrastinator keeps friends waiting, but will they?

Railroad watch

The Bible instructs us in James 5:16 to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another.  Here’s my confession:

“My name is Paula, and I’m a procrastinator.”

I don’t want to put things off, but I do.  For whatever reason, I occasionally find myself running late, sometimes very late.  It upsets business plans and frustrates friends and family, and yet I continue.  As I struggle with this sin, please keep me in prayer.

I confess also that I’ve learned interesting things from this person trial.  Other people procrastinate too.  Their issue may not mirror mine but it exists none-the-less.

Whether we keep people waiting at a restaurant or put off pertinent conversations or delay decisions, we all procrastinate in one way or another and we need each other’s compassion and prayer.

Will our friends and family stick with us through our delays?  Will our problems disappear if we ignore them?

These valuable questions cause us to seek to over come our challenges but one delay in particular cannot be put off forever.  Deciding to give God a chance.

Early in my dating journey with my future husband, I put him through his paces.  I exposed my sin early.  On our first and second dates, I arrived 30 minutes past the scheduled time.  Inexcusable, right?

Apparently, he saw something worth waiting for and it made me appreciate him all the more and inspired me to work on this arena of my life.

God does the same for us.  Many of us think we’ll approach Him and seek Him when we grow old or when life’s difficulties approach.  He faithfully waits.  He sees something worth the wait in each of us.

But will He wait forever?  He will, but we won’t know when the end comes.  There will come a point in the relationship where time runs out and our procrastinating ways cost us an amazing friendship.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

As Tim saw more in me than my problematic procrastinating ways, so God sees more in us.  We do have to show up and make the effort though.  Are you or someone you know putting off God?  Let’s confess together:

“Hi, my name is __________, and I’m a procrastinator.  Please forgive me.”

Do you procrastinate?  I’d love to pray for you. Let’s share our confessions and if you have advice on overcoming this issue, let the fingers do the typing and offer guidance.

Feed children the yum,yum of God’s words

Child Feeding Extreme
Image by Carlos Lorenzo via Flickr

Sometimes my husband accuses me of always being “on” when it comes to our kids.  Prior to our personal parenting journey, we both helped kids and adults to learn about Christ in multiple ways.

As a youth pastor, I saw kids who came to church because they grew up there and lived in strong, supportive, Christian families. Some kids arrived at church for the first time at age 17 with  cigarettes in hand, sometimes slightly tipsy, they showed up seeking…something.  They didn’t always know what.

My heart ached for them.  They were the high energy, high effort people many adults reject.  With little effort, they could cut you down to size and make you think you had nothing to offer them.  Yet, they came.  They knew, they needed something, Someone.

We worked on memorizing Bible verses while having fun together. One set of verses I clearly recall was found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the  door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

 We practiced these verses daily, a little at a time, for a month. As the teens learned, so did I.  I desired to become “that” kind of parent.  It matters to me that we talk about Jesus and His passion for us whenever and wherever.

 If a movie comes on that clearly goes against what God has said, I’ll either eliminate it from what they see (I’m a previewing parent) or pause it and ask them if they think God would like what is happening.  I’ve been known to rewrite endings of movies to make them more Christ-centered in approach. Driving down a road, if we see picketers or interesting signs, I welcome the questions of my children so that I can share with them God’s view for the topic at hand. Even struggling beside my children is a blessing as we join together to figure out what God wants in our lives.

The only way to have this attitude on  a regular basis is to constantly seek to learn ourselves.  Both my husband and I consistently read the Bible and spend time with others who are growing in their faith.  Without the continuous in-pouring of God’s Spirit into our lives, we wouldn’t be equipped to share or understand what we see.

I’m sure we still miss stuff or get it wrong, but we both know these two girls are the only ministry we’ll ever do that no one else can do.  It matters so much that we try our best.  Of course, we have a wonderful support system.  Christ is our leader and we go to Him regularly in prayer asking for His guidance in our lives and in the lives of our children.  We require His wisdom.  Don’t all parents?

When we follow the guidelines of Deuteronomy, we feed our children, spiritually speaking. The word of God provides spiritual nutrition to help them grow.  Those kids who arrived at our youth group had not previously been fed God’s word.  Their hearts were like dirt.  They needed nutrients or soil amendments added into their lives to enable them to receive God’s words for them.

Whether we start earlier or later, the value of God’s nutrition is unmistakable.  Those of us blessed to start earlier may experience an easier journey.  But any good gardener knows, yanking out weeds, removing rocks, and adding nutrients enables all dirt to develop into great soil.