Tag Archives: Food

Power

And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. (Matthew 15:37 WEB)

 
In Scripture there are a couple accounts where Jesus makes use of a small food supply to feed the large number of people who came to listen to His words of wisdom. In each case the audience is starting to get hungry, the disciples don’t have sufficient funds to purchase food, a young bystander offers his meager stores, and Jesus demonstrates the power of God to provide. These miracles are spectacular demonstrations of the simple truth that God cares about and meets our basic needs. Are there people in this world who starve to death? Certainly, but that is not the topic here. It is the power of God to provide. Actually, I’m talking about the power of God, aka a miracle.

What confuses me is the ability of people to create detailed and convoluted explanations to remove any hint of a miracle in the Bible. In their minds the ability of Jesus to feed these people must be explained away, at any cost, to debunk any possibility that a spiritual world with special powers can exist in our world of science and fact. I’ve read explanations that attempt to disavow any hint of the spiritual or miraculous by relying on the overt generosity of the people offering up their hidden foodstuffs to fill the need as the meager amount of food was passed to satiate the palate of those around them. However; why do we need to discard the possibility of God as creator of the universe performing the miraculous in the midst of the everyday?

Today, according to many people and supported by news articles and published papers and books, there are crystals that have power; certain mountains have power, and tarot cards predict the future. People can read palms, minds, talk to the dead and divine the events of life from soaked tealeaves. These are promoted as viable and understandable beliefs. Really? They’re all just as ludicrous in the literal vision of the modern scientific, informed, and “educated” mankind as the possibility of spirituality and the existence of God.

How can we claim to believe sitting inside a pyramid will give us special mystical powers and then blithely dismiss the distinct possibility that God exists and interacts with the universe as we know it? It seems the modern thinker, drowning in the belief that nothing can exist which cannot be explained, touched, or measured, has tossed aside the one inkling of reality which can assuage their concerns about life and the reason for existence. This is mental redaction to the extreme.

We make fun of past generations because they marveled at the roll of thunder or flash of lightening and assigned them to someone or something outside of their existence. We snicker when we look at those who once thought the world was the center of the universe or the earth was flat. When these misunderstandings of the nature of the universe and the world were clarified it wasn’t the destruction of belief in the spiritual world, or God, but the further understanding of both. There are many other aspects of this world where we live that defy our explanation and will continue to confound the great thinkers of the world and refuse to succumb to the scientific method of the day.

It’s the wonder of life, the mystery of creation, the noise of a bubbling stream and unhindered laughter of children that should fascinate us. The wonders of God’s power should enthrall us. The power of God’s grace to tolerate our disobedience and snubbing of His presence in the world should cause us to stop and think daily if not moment-by-moment. The fact that someone in this world, much less the creator of the universe, can love us with our quirks, faults, and secrets should make us realize there is more to life than what can be categorized and pigeon holed by the sciences. The God who has the power to add fish to a basket as it is passed in order to feed a crowd, filled with believers and mockers, surely has the power to make a difference in our life.

Perhaps now is a good time to closer our eyes and think about the things we cannot explain. Then; consider whether a piece of crystal or building in the shape of a pyramid has a greater possibility to answer our questions than a God who has power to feed the hungry on a warm afternoon. The same God who was incarnate among us to restore our relationship with Him and express to us His grace and love

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Fast Food

The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 WEB)

I remember my first visit to White Castle as a little boy. This paragon of good food and fine dining set my standard of cuisine excellence for a lifetime. When I was older, I was introduced to the world wide favorite, McDonald’s. Say what you will about their dietary presentation I like the place and apparently so do millions of other people. My life is filled with fast food and I’m not complaining. I’m enjoying the experience.

Fast food makes any dietitian shudder with fear but it has its uses. When you have two minutes between trains, it can keep you from starvation. A car full of boisterous children can quickly be quieted by a stop at the drive thru. And, traveling missionaries can eat without the fear of ingesting a case of Montezuma’s Revenge.

I remember eating at McDonald’s in Russia, Sri Lanka, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and a mess of European countries. (Some European countries are a mess but that is not the point.) Other countries, unfortunately, don’t support such modern conveniences, at least nothing I recognize. One exception was my work in Central Asia.

White Castle CupAfter arriving and gathering all our equipment and then loading the vehicles we drove from the city where the airport was located to another city in the mountains. What would normally be a one-and-a-half-hour drive took more than two hours including a stop for a bite to eat at a roadside BBQ. This was the Central Asian version of fast food.

The outdoor BBQ kitchen was located on what used to be a building site on the side of the road. All that was left was the concrete flooring which made room for parking. The kitchen stove consisted of a tin tray with wood burning at one end. When an order was placed, the pieces of lamb were stuck on a long metal spit and laid across the tin box with hot coals from the fire pushed below to start the cooking. It didn’t take long to cook the meat and the heat from the fire helped warm up my cold hands.

When we wanted more the proprietor reached into the trunk of his car and extracted more pieces of meat for the next spit. I watched as small pieces of rust fell from the dilapidated vehicle trunk lid into the box of freshly butchered meat. I suppose this was part of the unique seasoning.

It was a particularly tasty meal served on flat, paper thin, bread. As the cook prepared our afternoon snack we stood in a heavy breeze between Snow covered Mountains. My Guam blood wasn’t happy with the situation and I was already bundled up with a sweater, two shirts, several pairs of socks, coat and gloves. I reminded myself God called me there.

Sometimes people approach the Lamb of God like selecting items in a fast food restaurant. We order a piece here to cure that grumbling in the stomach. We order a bit there to give us a little strength as we hurry to another event. It might keep us alive but we won’t develop properly any more than eating fast food for a lifetime will provide all the necessary nutrients.

I like what it says in The Message, “An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth; fools feed on fast food fads and fancies.” (Proverbs 15:14) Are we grabbing for fads and fancies? It may be time to grow strong on the good food of God’s word?

 “Every Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16 17 WEB)

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Thanks

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

I’m sitting on a red couch watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade with my daughter and her family. I don’t feel the best as I’m trying to avoid the full fledged flu. One of our sons and his family will be arriving soon to add to all the noise and excitement. I think it will turn out to be a full day and lots of fun, noise and great food.

Throughout all this I’m thankful for more things than I can list in a short note. There is God at the top of the list followed closely by my loving wife and our children, children in-laws and beautiful grandchildren. I think of all the years God has provided all our needs. I think of the years of bringing God’s message of grace and love to the world in ways I never imagined.

It’s easy to get bogged down in illness, busy schedules or a plethora of other annoyances in life. I’m reminded of a phrase from a chorus which says,  “Give thanks with a grateful heart.” it always makes me think, “Can you give thanks if your heart is ungrateful?” I don’t think so. To give thanks, not just say thanks, requires a sense of gratefulness. We can give lip service regardless of the state of our heart but we can’t give true thanks unless or heart is grateful. Anything else is hypocritical.

Hypocrisy is just lying with fancy words. I don’t know about you but I’m guilty of saying thanks when that’s the last thing on my mind or in my heart. As I think of the pending turkey dinner, for which I suspect I will be truly grateful, I’m thinking I should be careful at other times to insure my thanks are real and not just hypocritical lip service. I don’t want to be impolite but I don’t want to be a politically correct liar.

All that said I thank God for his grace, love and salvation which has guided my life. I thank him for family, friends, beautiful days and good food. I could go on but I can smell the turkey and it’s distracting me from writing. I hope we can all be thankful from a grateful heart and praise God for his provision.

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Flying First Class

like the dew of Hermon, that comes down on the hills of Zion: for there Yahweh gives the blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalms 133:3 WEB)

For years we lived in the Pacific and travel always involved a lot of airline miles. After a couple years of bouncing back and forth between the US and Guam I had a large number of unused miles saved in my airline account. For years I felt the airline miles packages were a scam, until I had a massive number waiting to be used.

One spring I was again scheduled to travel from Guam to North Carolina and back. I must admit, I’m not a lover of airline travel. The seats are too small with the headrests constantly pressing against my shoulders and providing no rest. Sitting in the shape of a pretzel for twenty hours is not my idea of fun.

With the trip pending I pulled out my air miles report and made some calculations. If I pooled my miles with the other family miles I could fly first class! I’m not talking the mediocre business class but right up front, glass dishes and all, first class.

I went to the airline office, handed them the tickets and they upgraded my cattle car, shoe horn seats for the luxury of first class. I wasn’t sure what to expect but figured it had to be better than riding in the back mooing for dinner.

The travel date arrived and I boarded the plane, ahead of everyone else! The flight attendant’s manners were spectacular, pleasant and helpful. I didn’t have to wait for takeoff to enjoy a refreshing drink or a snack. They were just waiting for me to climb aboard and indulge.

To compare the seats in first class with economy would be difficult. Cattle car contains benches with arm rests to separate the stalls. First class has cushions, foot rests, headrests (which actually reach your head) and sufficient lateral space to wiggle until you are comfortable. Thirsty? Drinks are available any time during the flight. Hungry? You have a choice of several meals served with real dishes and glass glasses.

I landed in Japan and was personally greeted by the sunny smile of an airline worker. Apparently I was the only one in First Class and the others were subject to the lesser honor of business class. Nobody greeted the business class passengers. They were on their own.

I was escorted around the crowds, through special walkways to a waiting area just for first class. There was more room for the dozen or so first class passengers than the hundreds of cattle rustling against one another two flights up. Food and drink were available and part of the package. No announcements were necessary. When it was time to board, ahead of everyone else of course, the staff tapped lightly on my shoulder and escorted me to the plane.

This treatment continued for most of the four flights to North Carolina and back. When the domestic planes were too small for a real first class cabin the service was reduced to drinks, food and smaller seats. At least I could still board and exit ahead of the stampede.

I have never again flown first class. The strange thing about upgrading was you got extra mileage flying first class. Thus I recovered my mileage in the one trip plus some.

Later I used the mileage to move up to business class and gave up unused mileage when I left the Pacific and participating airlines. One year Beth and I took Ellice to visit Thailand using mileage. It was our high school graduation gift to her, a once in a lifetime treat.

Computers put me on more air flights than I imagined. There were chances to see my brothers and visit my mother while in the USA. In the midst of their frustration computers provided little gems of enjoyment and benefit. Attending training and global IT meetings in the US racked up plenty of mileage.

When the Lord puts us in a ministry we didn’t expect we sometimes wonder what He is doing. There are frustrations which threaten what sanity we have left. Then He reminds us it is His work and not ours. He is in control and knows what we can and cannot do. When we are faithful to press forward God reminds us again with little gems of enjoyment and benefit.

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Out of the Lips of Children

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; (Matthew 11:25 ESV)

If you travel west from Guam toward the USA you’ll find China. Usually you travel east to the USA. But things aren’t always as you’d think. It was cheaper to fly to Hong Kong first, purchase a ticket to the USA and then fly to the USA. Go figure. There’s something strange about airline ticket pricing. So, on our first furlough we decided to visit Hong Kong and take a one day trek into mainland China. We settled into a small apartment in Hong Kong and prepared for the big day.

We boarded a bus in Hong Kong and headed toward the China border. When we arrived at the border we were inspected, checked, and passed on from station to station. With our money changed and bags in hand we entered China ready for a first hand peak at our biggest target area. While everyone else on the bus was going to visit relatives, we were the only family on “tour.” After crossing the border we met our private translator and our driver and climbed into a small van.

We rode around and enjoyed the sites and learned more about the people. During our tour we had a chance to chat with the translator. The driver wasn’t interested in conversation and the translator indicated we should be quiet about certain subjects so he would not report her to the authorities.

Our translator made a comment after Ellice began singing, “Jesus loves me this I know.” Ellice wanted to share the Gospel of Jesus with the people of China. She knew this was why we were living on Guam and so she wanted to help in our ministry. Thus the conversation turned to the Gospel.

Turning to face us and not be heard by the driver, our translator meekly let us know she was Christian. She had heard the Gospel over the radio! What a marvelous confirmation of God’s work in our lives. The work to minister to this vast nation was having an impact. We were encouraged as God provided us with a face to face confirmation. “So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do.” (Isaiah 55:11 WEB) We have no information about the young lady’s name or what she’s done since this meeting but pray for her walk with the Lord in a nation which opposes her belief.

We were also interested in visiting a Chinese home if possible. Finally, after many inquiries, our translator gained access to a three story home. We were informed this was a single family home but if that were true it was a very large family. As we wandered through the rooms to the balcony on the top floor we discovered why they allowed us to tour their home.

Little girls with long, blond, curly hair were unknown in their culture. They were fascinated with a little girl sporting a head of long, blond, curly hair. Almost everyone in the house reached out to touch Ellice’s hair. Personal space is a different story in China.

In America people don’t like to be caught staring at another person. If we’re watching someone and they turn our direction we quickly look away and pretend we’re doing something else. During the trip we were taken to visit a large Department Store.

As we walked through the building we noticed a couple of things. First, we were the only people in the store besides the employees. This was not an average Chinese shop but designed for visitors. Second, we realized everyone was staring at us. When we turned and saw them watching they kept right on watching and didn’t attempt to turn away. The store had lots of goods for sale inside and a small bumper car ride outside.

We decided to allow Ellice to ride the bumper cars. It’s not fun if you’re the only participant. So we paid to have our translator drive one of the cars. It took a bit of convincing and coercion to get her to agree to drive the little car. It wasn’t a matter of her driving but the combination of her driving and our paying the bill. This show of generosity was not in her frame of reference. When she started the ride her smile and joy was more than we needed in repayment for the kindness.

Since this was an all day tour we stopped for lunch. The tables were full, conversation was loud and energetic. There was a pause in the restaurant’s din of conversation as we entered and took our place around the round table. The table was large so we could all sit, including the translator but not the driver (who went off on some unknown function while we ate), to enjoy a preset meal. A white tablecloth hung over the edges and rice bowls were placed at each seat. The only utensils provided were chop sticks.

One item missing was a napkin. I looked about to see if other tables had these, in my opinion, essential items. They were not. I soon discovered the purpose for such a large tablecloth. Glancing down at the overhanging cloth on my table I saw the remains where others wiped their mouth, hands, whatever on the cloth in lieu of napkins. Next visit to China, I bring my own tissues, for lunch if nothing else!

The food was tasty and plentiful. I don’t remember all the dishes we received but one caught Joel’s attention. A large fish of some sort was brought out on a platter and placed in the middle of the table. It was split open, broiled, but the head and tail were still attached. Like the other dishes we all reached to the platter and removed a portion with our fingers to eat over the rice bowl in front of us. The bowl provided a nice catch for anything which missed the lips and fell.

Joel leaned forward and stared at the fish. He didn’t attempt to reach for any of the meat. After a couple of minutes he looked at Beth and me and said, “That fish is looking at me!” The fish was situated with the head and eyes towards Joel’s seat. He wasn’t about to eat something which was staring him in the face. We turned the fish the other way and Joel then enjoyed the tasty meal.

When we finally departed the country it was back through the border. In the time it took us to enter the country, visit a museum, see a reservoir, shop in the stores, eat lunch, drive about and return to the border the exchange rate changed. It changed in our favor and we received more money when we turned in our script than we paid to receive it. It was a free day after all!

Children say the most unexpected things at the most embarrassing times. Ellice was open about her faith and love for our translator. If not for her honesty we never would have known to pray for our young translator and her faith.

As adults we miss things we once saw as children. It seems our observations are hampered with age. Jesus made it clear wisdom was hidden to the wise and open to the child. Maybe it’s time we started acting like children in our faith and see what God wants us to see.

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