Friday, November 27, 2015

The Season of Flavors

I remember the last huge meal challenge that I took. It was a burrito about the size of a football. I came within one bite of finishing it and I've never been so glad to leave it on the plate. It was delicious when I started, a glutenous pile of beans, rice, salsas, guacamole, cheeses, peppers, pork beef and chicken all seasoned to perfection. The first two thirds of it went down easy and then I hit my natural limit, the point where chewing and swallowing become work and your guts become uncomfortably pressurized by every bite you force down. Textures and tastes that were pleasing at first become vomit triggers that you have to repress. It was the last glob of juice soaked tortilla that got me in the end. It looked like what I imagined throwing up if I tried to eat it, so there it stayed. Maybe if I'd eaten the tortilla first... whatever.

The end result was that instead of enjoying the delicious burrito, I spent the next day and half proving what I don't have in common with snakes or my cat that can eat a large gopher in one sitting and look happy with a distended belly for days afterward. True gluttony is painful. I didn't even enjoy the burps, and that's a real tragedy!

I did better yesterday, though. I'm writing this as the morning after Thanksgiving closes in on eleven o'clock and I still have no urge to eat yet today. But the burps are delicious and the smell of another good dinner is already taunting me. Praise God for taste buds and the elastic nature of our stomachs.

Feasts are an essential part of life. It's God himself who built them into our routine for honorable occasions to remind us of the flavors he makes us able to appreciate and the abundance he meets our needs with. He knows better than anybody that the way to my heart is through my stomach and he proves it daily through my wife. I remember when she asked me what she should make for a friend's birthday party and the only guideline was something chocolaty. "REALLY!? Like, just imagine something and you'll make it?!" And so the marbled mint mocha ganache cheese cake was born, and devoured. Hope you enjoy the holiday flavors as much as I will. Just pay attention to your full switch. God made that so the rest of your body can enjoy the food as much as your tongue will.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Search for Christian Coffee

Let's get right to the point this time. When scripture gives us "do nots", it's usually because we have a strong tendency to do exactly those things and we're a bit slow to recognize them as harmful. Well, me anyway, and "a bit" is a bit of an understatement. So for only my sake, let's look at this one:  "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." 

The holidays provide plenty of opportunity to judge each other by exactly these standards. Most gatherings will include some unspoken disapproval of the food, the gifts, the decor or the people. If those topics don't supply enough rocks to throw, there's always Starbucks. This week, I found myself thinking about their de-Christmassed cups with an unsettled feeling in my gut. Actually that feeling was a latte double shot on an empty stomach, a must if you were up too late the night before and want to do it again for the sake of a really good dinner on the company's bill. And so the holiday spirit is upon us.

The reality  of that spirit is what's pointed out in the second part of our scripture. Just like Christ was the real gift of the holidays that preceded him, the people we love are the real gift of our current holidays. It even says it's his grace expressed through our gifts of service. So give your friends and family a break, and even your enemy if you get the chance. Life is a lot more gratifying when you're focused on enjoying the people around you more than the trappings of the holiday that twisted your arm into seeing them again. And, just like Christ, if we only pay special attention to them during the holidays, we're missing a lot.

Give Starbucks and their ilk a break, too. Christ specified he didn't come to judge the world. If you need a corporation or government or anyone else to validate your faith, I would encourage you to reevaluate it over a generically festive cup of mint mocha anything. I'll join you.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Truth About Grilled Meat

I was wondering what to write about this week until I went for a run, then it hit me right in the nose, mesquite barbecue (or anything done skillfully on the grill for that matter). Some inconsiderate neighbor with no regard for my endless struggle to stay focused had his delicious smoke drifting across the street right in my path. The next time I put Leah's teriyaki chicken on the grill, I hope the smoke blows his way and sabotages whatever he's trying to pay attention to.

There's a dark side to that delicious smell, though. Before it was tantalizing our noses and triggering our salivary glands, it had a life of it's own, except in the case of veggie burgers and fake bacon which are admittedly impressive attempts at duplicating what's naturally irresistible, carefully cooked flesh. "I want to eat something that had parents," is how one comedian said it.

What we may not think of right away, and possibly be offended by, is how straight forwardly God can relate to our pleasure in that way. In the Old Testament, he said sacrifices (prime animals cooked on a very big grill) were a pleasing aroma. In the New Testament, there's a twist. We're the ones on the grill! We're encouraged to, "...offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God." Christ drove home just how literally this was intended when he said "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them." I hear he's got some killer recipes.

Don't worry. I'm not a cannibal. But think about how literally that's true of the flesh you can't wait to eat off your grill. It's flesh and blood literally becomes your flesh and blood when you eat it (especially if you're one of those weirdos who like blood sausage and rare stakes). It becomes the energy you burn to live and the substance your body uses to build and maintain itself. You are what you eat, right? So if Christ is on my menu and I'm on his, that's all the better for me! Think about that the next time your olfactory receptors take you to heaven in a cloud of smoke. That pleasing aroma is a sweet reminder of just how literally we're made in his image and likeness.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Both are jealous. Neither will share.
Not one with the other. No treaty declared.
A war for a hostage who holds his own fate.
What God has entangled, he alone separates.
Yet patience endures what for now is entwined
To fashion from clay what becomes the divine.

random, happy picture to be less
depressing and cryptic

One flirts with your longing to be satisfied, then turns to sand in your mouth the moment the cup leaves your lips. It seduces your mind with whatever will keep it wandering further into the desert. It sleeps beside you like a lover but gives more loneliness than comfort. It torments your dreams and wakes you to disappointment. It fades to keep its welcome only to rush back into your chest like a vacuum that threatens to collapse your heart. It is the lust for more that destroys the soul not by violence but by one subtly refreshing gouge at a time.

One offers its whole self freely, yet inspires the greatest price. Its drink always satisfies yet causes you to crave the whole river. It is an incomparable force of progress yet it yields to the hearts of men. It is truth yet gracious to the ignorant, faithful yet pursues the faithless. It is a limitless and reasonable hope that changes nothing but the heart, yet through the heart it changes everything. It is the true alchemist. It is the Spirit of the living Christ shining ever brighter through every gouge that was meant to kill.