Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Veganism? Omnivore? Carnivore?

"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. - 1 Corinthians 10:23

The human race, and all of creation, began it's existence on a diet of plant matter. The Bible clearly dictates that "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." Gen 1:29 It wasn't until after the flood that God instructed Noah and his family to begin eating meat. It also began an enmity between the animals and mankind. After we began eating animals, they began to fear us.

Now, am I saying that we should all be vegan? ... I personally wish that we would, for the ecological reasons, and the ethical reasons that I believe. However, I do not believe that Biblicaly we need to be. However, God did appoint us stewards over the earth. By factory farming we are slowly eroding many parts of the earth, destroying our ecosystem, polluting our waters, and pumping our animals and our people full of chemicals. All in the name of 'tasty meat.' I do not believe that we can do this in the name of 'Christian stewardship'.

Factory farming is an evil that we must examine with the heart of Christ, as we are risen with him. Paul said that "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20. We are to walk as the Risen Christ, a light for the world to see. We must look at our actions with that heart, and with that mindset, not with the thoughts on things of the earth, but on things heavenly. To copy an old cliche, what would Jesus do. Would he support locally grown, organic produce? Or would he buy something shipped across three countries in a diesel truck? Would he support factory farming? Or buy local, organic meat from a local butcher? Or would he not eat meat at all? These are decisions you must look at prayerfully for yourself, as stewards of the earth and of your own heart.

We must make conscious decisions in every action for our planet, our children, ourselves. We are the stewards of this world. We must take action, and look at it through the eyes and the love of Christ. His blood is a filter that we must also use to filter our own vision, that we can see the world through it! When you look at the world, try to see it from God's pure vision, from Agape! When you do that what do you see? What choices would he make? How would he treat that person you just shunned? Or the one coming toward you now? How would he choose his next meal? Who would he pray for right now? How would he spend his next paycheck? How would he spend time with his children? How would he make that next crucial decision?

God is love, but he is also so many other things. Cultivate your relationship with him today. Praise him, worship him, get to know him. Study his word, and give your heart over to him completely in obedience to him today.

In Christ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good luck? Or Not luck at All?

Lately I have found myself weary of using the phrase good luck. I have used it most of my life, but the last few weeks whenever I start to utter this seemingly innocuous statement I find myself stuttering to find a replacement. "God bless your endeavor." "God bless you." etc. Some may find it silly, but I think it is very important for a Christian to remember that luck really has no place in the Christian world view. Everything happens according to God's plan. He knows what is going to happen, and when. Even though we have free will and we do make choices, those choices are according to a plan that is mapped out for eternity. Kind of a paradox eh?

God does not make choices for us, but he knows what choices we will make. It's almost mind blowing, but to me so comforting as well. Once we realize that his will is that we love one another, and be loved life becomes so much easier. That is our purpose, to love Him, and to love each other. We then fall into obedience of his word, and have faith on His Son out of faith! There is no luck for us. We have things given to us, or taken away from the Master's hand. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Eph 1:3-4) He knew us before we were born, and he knows us today, tomorrow and forever.

So what would you say instead of good luck? Or do you use the phrase anyway? Is it simply a silly thought for me to even consider it? Remember, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
I wrote about this verse of scripture a few years ago on Myspace, and I was disappointed to find out I missed a sermon on it the other day when I stayed home to watch one of the children who did not want to attend church. She is too young to be quiet when she doesn't want to be there, and too young to leave at home. That being out of the way I just wanted to share some thoughts on it because it is a beautiful set of verses (aren't all of them?)

John 21:15-17
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

It seems odd in the English translation to keep asking Simon over and over, do you love me? Mostly because we only have one word for love. However, in the original language there were four different words for love. Two of them were used here. They were:

Agape - the love of God or Christ for mankind, unconditional love
phileo - brotherly love

So to paraphrase the conversation above, Jesus who had just risen from the dead and had dined on some fish said, to his friend and disciple.

"Do you love me unconditionally as I love the world?" Remember Jesus loved the world so much he died on the cross for all of our sins.

Simon peter replied, "Of course, I love you like a brother."

Quite a bit of difference in brotherly love, and the love of God for the world. Though some brothers would die for each other, would a brother die for everyone? I know some brothers who would not even lift a finger for each other as well.

He asks him again, "Simon Peter, do you agape me?"

Peter replies, "Yes Lord, I phileo you!"

Once again the Lord wants to know if he loves him as much as God loves us! Peter says I love you like a brother, he still isn't getting it!

Then a third time Jesus asks, and when he look at it, he asks "Simon, do you phileo me?" Simon is hurt, because he asks a third time. I also think he is hurt because he realizes what Jesus is asking of him, asking if he loves him that much and Simon isn't ready for that. He wants to be, but he's not sure that he has the love in him that Jesus, the living God has! He says, "You know all things! You know that I love you like a brother!" Jesus commands him one more time "Feed my sheep!"

This is a lesson for all of us today. Do you agape Jesus? Do you love him enough to die on the cross with him and rise again the third day? That's what we as Christians do when we are baptized. "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20 We are dunked under the water 3 times, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; symbolizing our three days in the tomb. When we rise out of that water we are a new creature. "Not I, but Christ liveth in me!" We are to live by the faith in the son of God!! Walking in obedience to his commandments. We are no longer part of this world, but children of the Living God! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ! Our sins are washed clean! We are to agape one another forgiving each other our sins and sinning no more! Amen, Hallelujah!

It also means that some of us aren't ready for agape. Some of us are still at the phileo stage. Some of us haven't gotten there yet, but that doesn't mean we don't have to strive for more! We have to keep trying. Just like my mother used to tell me when I fell off a horse, get back on it right now! Dust yourself off and start riding again. You might get angry at someone, or not like someone, work to love them no matter how hard it is. Know that Jesus loves them, and that God loves them. It doesn't mean you have to have them over for coffee every day, but you don't have to give them a cold shoulder and not wave when they pass you in the hall. If you see them with a flat, don't pretend you don't see them flagging you down. Work towards agape. Work towards being Christ. So that when people look at you, they don't even see you anymore, they see the Christ that has risen in you.

One last thing, I agape you. No matter who you are, where you are, you are beautiful, each and everyone of you. God loves you, and so do I. God bless you, and may he pour out all of his love on you. If you haven't accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior please do so today. If you don't know how just ask him in your words to come into your heart, and pick up a bible and start at Mathew and start reading a little at a time. If that seems like to much, or you just want someone to help or guide you, feel free to send me a message. I'd be happy to pray with you, or even suggest some reading. May God bless you in your journey.

In Christ,