Tag Archives: Food

Sailing Through Life- Part 3 The Importance of Reading the Menu

Before we headed to our first meal on the ship we read the food/dining guide information that was in our stateroom. It gave the prices for some of the various onboard eateries. Their menus looked wonderful. The seating was special. It was tempting to make some reservations.

But then we noticed a couple of important facts. The prices at these eateries were somewhat on the high side. And there were numerous places where we could eat without reservations and without paying any additional cost. Dining and food was included in the ships’ package deal. It was already purchased. The temptation to make reservations at the higher end locations quickly faded. After all, we Dutch folk are all for the cheaper fare!

As I began to think about paying for what’s already included I realized a strong spiritual parallel. So often we try to ‘pay’ or ‘buy’ our way into God’s good graces. We commit to study more, pray more, or attend church more regularly. We do good deeds to pile up the credits. We bargain with God – ‘God if You will do this I’ll do this’ – to gain something more from Him. We do so because we forget to check the guide and menus.

The truth is, when God saved us it was a package deal. Everything we try to pay for is already ours. It’s included in the deal, along with so much more. Here’s some of God’s menu already available to us.

We have joy (John 15:11)
We are beyond condemnation (Romans 8:1)
We are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)
We have been adopted (Ephesians 1:5 & Romans 8:15)
We have abundant life (John 10:10)
We are blessed (Ephesians 1:3)
We are loved (Ephesians 1:4)
We are chosen (Ephesians 1:4)
We are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7)
We are redeemed (Ephesians 1:7)
We are lavished with the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7-8)
We have incredible power (Ephesians 1:19-20 & 3:20)
\We have a seat in the heavenly with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6)
We have access to God at any moment (Ephesians 2:18)
We are members of His kingdom (Colossians 1:13)
We will never be abandoned (Hebrews 13:5)
We have an imperishable inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

Isn’t it rather foolish and fruitless to pay for what’s already purchased – especially if, in the process of paying, we miss the most exquisite menu and most nourishing food of all?

I wonder how much life-changing, healthy food I’ve missed, and how much effort I’ve wasted because I have failed to keep God’s menu in front of me.

Now here’s the really good news. The bottom line of our sailing excursion was that we had already paid for the food; it was included in what we paid. It wasn’t really ‘free.’ But God’s food was paid for by Jesus; it’s truly free.

Take some time each day to look at God’s menu. Digest His offerings. Respond to His invitation:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
(Isaiah 55:1-2)

Sailing Through Life – Part 2 Proper Attire

When I’m enjoying a nice, relaxing cruise I appreciate being able to be casual – in personal interactions and clothing. It helps me relax and unwind. Perhaps that’s why we didn’t frequent the main dining room very often. To eat dinner there, guests must meet the more formal dress requirements.

I just couldn’t get excited about it. First of all, it meant we had to pack extra clothes just so we could eat ‘finer fare in a finer atmosphere.’ Second, it meant we had to change out of our comfortable casual clothes just long enough to eat. Third, it made me feel like I had to be acceptable before I was worthy of being fed. Yes – I know that’s a stretch, but it’s true! I even convinced myself it’s just not biblical – because it stipulates that I must meet certain requirements to be acceptable. I thought, “That’s totally opposite of what the New Testament teaches.”

The truth is, God has already clothed us with proper attire. Even the prophet Isaiah understood:
“The LORD makes me very happy; all that I am rejoices in my God. He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness” (Isaiah 61:10). And the New Testament repeats and amplifies this. “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. (Galatians 3:27 New Living Translation) God has taken care of the dress code by clothing us appropriately.

But as I thought about this acceptable clothing further I realized God, too, has some requirements.

• “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. (Romans 13:14 New Living Translation)
• “…and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24 Common English Bible)
• “Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. (Colossians 3:9-11 The Message)
• Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12, 14 New Living Translation)

Through Jesus, God has given us the clothes to wear. But we must put them on and wear them! Make no mistake – we are already accepted. It’s a matter of whether or not we want others to know. And we do that by wearing the clothing that reflects Jesus.

I recognized one more valuable truth as well. Even though our clothes come from God, we’re still not totally satisfied. “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling…” (2 Corinthians 5:2) Why do we groan? Because we know the best and finest clothes are yet to come. We still have one more wardrobe change. Our current clothes are not to be worn forever. The Apostle Paul explained it: “And when the rotting body has been clothed in what can’t decay, and the dying body has been clothed in what can’t die, then this statement in scripture will happen: Death has been swallowed up by a victory. (1Corinthians 15:54 Common English Bible)

By the way. We did, a couple of times, dress well enough to be accepted into the main dining room. I not only survived – I enjoyed it. We were treated with extra-special care and honor, the food was prepared a little more exquisitely, and the environment was extra warm and friendly.

The reality is, if I hadn’t put on the proper clothes, I would never have experienced all the ship had to offer. The fact is if I don’t put on the clothes God has provided, I will never experience all He has to offer. Proper attire is not so much a mandate as it is an offer to live in the environment of God’s richest blessings. Wearing proper attire does have its benefits!

An Inside Job

Everyday I take some pills. Some are vitamins and some are prescriptions. I don’t know how they get into and go through my system. I do not feel them doing anything. Yet I seldom ask “Why should I take these pills – I don’t feel any different?” Why? Because the state of my health assures me they are working inside my body. It’s an inside job.

Similarly I eat meals everyday. I have some understanding of how they get into and go through my system. But unless I overeat I do not feel them doing anything. And I can’t tell you what I ate for lunch July 21 or dinner April 3 or even lunch last Monday. Yet I never ask “Why should I eat these meals- I don’t feel any different and I don’t remember them anyway?” Why? Because when I have strength to get up each morning I know the food is working inside my body. It’s an inside job.

I also read the Bible with great regularity (I confess I do not do it everyday, much to my own disappointment. And there’s no one to blame but myself.) Sometimes as I read I am not inspired, am not moved, and learn nothing new; I do not sense anything happening. Yet it’s been many years since I’ve asked “Why should I read the Bible so often – so often I don’t feel any different? And I don’t remember what I’ve read.” Why? Because the Bible assures me that God’s Word always does something inside me. It’s an inside job.

Consider Psalm 119. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” (9) I” have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. “(11) “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (24) “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” (93) “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” (99) “I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.” (100) “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (103-105)

Consider Isaiah 55:10-11. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Consider Hebrews 4:12-13. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I am convinced that every time I read the Bible the Holy Spirit goes to work in me – even if I am totally unaware of what He is doing. It’s an inside job. John Piper put it beautifully: “I spend this much time on Bible memory because I believe in the power of the indwelling Word of God to solve a thousand problems before they happen, and to heal a thousand wounds after they happen, and to kill a thousand sins in the moment of temptation, and to sweeten a thousand days with the ‘drippings of the honeycomb.’ (“When I Don’t Desire God”, 123)

I will continue to read the Bible. But not to be inspired or moved, or to learn something new or with the hope that I will experience some great feeling. Any of these dynamics are but bonuses. Rather, I will read knowing that God will go to work on and in me. He will increase my spiritual health and strengthen my faith. He will continue to transform me into the image of Jesus. It’s an inside job I can live with. In fact, I cannot live without it.