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My first all Mexican cuisine cookbook was created by a blind woman, Maria Zalayeta. She cooked by the sounds of the food. Her cookbook format included stories about her recipes. One story was about a group of nuns in a poor convent some years ago. Upon receiving an unexpected announcement about the imminent visit of their archbishop, the flustered nuns raced to their cupboard and discovered…very little. Sacrificing one of the few remaining chickens in their yard, they used what ingredients they had on hand: cocoa, peanut butter, tomato sauce, and Mexico’s ubiquitous cinnamon. The result? Mole poblano.
Now God is an amazing “cook.” What about his ingredients?
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. –Romans 3:10-12, 23
So God uses the “ingredients”–the people–he has on hand to accomplish his will and purpose. For example, a coward became the prophet-leader of a great nation–Moses. A poor shepherd boy became a king–David. Another passionate coward became the founder of the church–Peter. Saul the murderer became the great apostle Paul, and the fearful band of twelve, minus the traitor Judas, became the kernel of the greatest faith the world has ever seen.
Obviously, this story has a moral: The secret of great cooking lies with the cook, not the ingredients. Don’t be afraid to give yourself to the Lord. He uses the people he has on hand to do great things.
In case you’re curious–the photos above show my breakfast omelette. Due to coronavirus, my shopping these days is limited to no more than once every two weeks. Also, I find it more frugal to eat what I have before buying more. So, this meal came when both my closet and refrigerator were on the skimpy side. The filling ingredients are: Ricotta cheese (which unfortunately doesn’t melt), olives, and fresh jalapeño peppers, which I’ve learned to purchase in copious quantities, and one of the last remaining slices of deli ham. I had recently cooked a pot of dry red beans–they went on top of the eggs, along with Greek nonfat yogurt (always nice and thick), and an olive leftover from some nachos I had recently made. A few drops of Sriracha hot sauce added color and a bit of spice. Admittedly, this was not the best tasting omelette I’ve ever made…
After all these years I learned how to thicken a sauce with Arrowroot. Fantastic!
Jesus, Lord, help us to repent.
John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Luke 10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.
32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
In general, broadly speaking, knowing there are exceptions, but as a basic principle, hasn’t white evangelical America played the role of the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan? Ever since the very beginning when we pushed the native Americans to the driest, most barren parts of our country with a sigh of “Good riddance,” haven’t good, Christian, church-going white people been ignoring the plight of people of color in our country?
The priest and the Levite did nothing to harm the Samaritan who had been attacked, beaten, robbed, and left for dead by the side of the road. They didn’t throw a stone at him or kick him out of the path. Their sin was that they saw, they witnessed, they understood, and they chose to ignore. They probably said their prayers that night.
Perhaps Trump’s Christian base made an honest error in electing him the first time. But in the wake of all the violent murders, beatings, and oppression by rogue policemen in our country, not just now with the slaying of George Floyd, but the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that…all the way back to the 1600’s, how can we possibly elect a man for a second term whose mouth spouts hatred, insults, and lies against our fellow human beings with every other tweet? We need to repent on our knees before God, confess our sin of indifference, and elect people at the national, state, and local levels who not only promise to change the culture of policing in America, but people who will actually do it.
And on a personal level, what can white evangelical Christians do? Just for starters, speak out. Call a spade a spade. Don’t tolerate the kind of language we hear from our President on a daily basis. Don’t vote for him. Vote for someone else. Don’t remain silent when you hear your neighbors disparage people of other colors, races, religion, nationality, and cultural mores. Jesus did not appoint us to judge others–he appointed us to love. Write letters to elected officials, including the chief of police in your community when you hear of atrocities. Don’t vote for offenders a second time. Require accountability from policemen.
And what about the aborted unborn? Don’t use them as a scapegoat to excuse our blind eye toward the unjust violence against entire races of people around us. Attend rallies, join a pro-life group, such as 40 Days for Life, buy tickets to movies such as, “Unplanned,” for all your neighbors and your church’s youth group, support your local charities with diapers, baby blankets, clothes, and words of encouragement and love for women without supportive homes for their newborns. Donate. We don’t need a foul-mouthed president in our fight against abortion. Especially when the world he espouses is dangerous for all children and adults not exactly like himself.
Don’t fall for the other excuse that says, “But most policemen are good people who do their jobs well.” That’s a cop-out. If a medical doctor intentionally murdered a patient, would you say, “We can’t discipline him and change the rules because most doctors are good people who do their jobs well?” If you happened to go to a sadist dentist who tricked you into a tooth extraction without medication, would you protect him from all accountability by saying, “Most dentists are great people who do their jobs well?” No, that particular doctor needs to be punished, that particular dentist needs to have his license stripped, and that particular policeman needs to be fired and held accountable in a just court of civil law.
To “love our neighbor” means we need to leave our zones of comfort and actually DO something. We need to stoop, bend, lift, carry, and pay for. Only then will America begin to heal.
Father, forgive ME, for I have sinned. I helped kill George Floyd. Help ME to do better.
Start with your white rice, reheated okay. Sauté with a small portion of cashews. Add sweet peppers you just steamed, and lastly, a generous amount of canned peaches with their juice. The peaches should be about 1/5 the total bulk. Serve on a plate with a tablespoon of spicy chili on top for a modest, low calorie, pick-me-up hot lunch.
This recipe reminds us that Christians should find that perfect balance of sweetness and spice.
Matthew 5:13 (ESV) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
Paul always opened his letters with a mention of God the Father or even “God our Father,” as in Colossians 1:3. Christians nowadays are so used to hearing about God as Father that we tend to just gloss over these references at the beginning of Paul’s letters as mere formalities. Paul, however, never wrote, “God our Father,” without great joy.
The Bible of Paul and all the early Christians was the Old Testament, since the New Testament was still in process of being written. In the Old Testament, God was rarely referred to as “Father.” Scholars have counted only fourteen such occurrences (1). Some of these were specifically about Christ the Messiah to come.
2 Samuel 7:12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son… (ESV)
Others were about Israel as a whole, but often showed God’s displeasure with his chosen people.
Jeremiah 3:2 Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile whoredom. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed. 4 Have you not just now called to me, ‘My father, you are the friend of my youth–5 will he be angry forever, will he be indignant to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken, but you have done all the evil that you could.”
Gregory Brown writes,
When God delivered Israel out of Egypt, he adopted them as his “firstborn son” (Ex 4:22). Therefore, occasionally, Jewish prayers would reference this. But no Israelites personally called God, “Father”–ever. In fact, out of respect for God, they even stopped using his covenant name, Yahweh, and instead, would simply say Adonai or some other name of God. For a Jew to call God, “Father,” would have been considered irreverent and even blasphemous (2).
One of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture is when Jesus spoke to Mary after his resurrection:
John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” (ESV)
Far too infrequently do churchgoers hear their pastors teach about the great differences between the two testaments of Scripture, the big changes that occurred after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. One of these changes is what Christ spoke in the quotation just above. Because Jesus Christ was God’s very own offspring, his Son, and because post-cross believers are joined to Christ–only for that reason can followers of Christ now call God their Father. This is huge. Paul never forgot this glorious outcome of Christ’s sacrifice. This is why he never tired of repeating, “God our Father,” in the greetings of his letters.
In church and in Christian music we often hear about, “The glory of the cross.” This is one reason why the cross is so glorious: Believers in Christ can now call God, “Father.” I pray that Christians everywhere will know how special they are to the heart of God, their own Father, and that they will never quit praising him, thanking him, and rejoicing in this marvelous outcome of what began as shameful tragedy–the cross of Christ.
1 Brown, Gregory, “The Sermon on the Mount: Experiencing God’s Kingdom on Earth. 20. Our Father (Matthew 6:9a),” available at https://bible.org/seriespage/20-our-father-matthew-69a#_ftnref3, accessed May 20, 2020.
When seeking solutions, something to remember.