Monthly Archives: September 2014

To Be One in the Body

What if your hand decided it didn’t like being attached to your body? It thinks your stomach is a little too flabby or your armpits need better deodorant. It thinks it would be better off on its own. So your hand decides to sever itself. What would happen?

Obviously, it’d die.

With the body, your hand can paint a masterpiece (more or less) as well as feed the body (for better or worse). But a severed hand is useless (excepting Thing). It can do nothing. Not even sustain its own life. Your hand is dependent on your body and cannot function alone.

Further, my pastor added in church that a hand disconnected from the body is, by extension, disconnected from the head. The Bible calls Christians the body of Christ while Christ himself is the head. Each Christian makes up one part of his body, just like a hand is one part of yours. Therefore, if we want connection to Christ, we have to be connected to his body. If we want oneness with Christ, then we must be one with his body. There is no having Christ without having his church (which just means other Christians).

stockvault-people-walking-on-the-beach132394Christians also like to call each other “family.” Once upon ages past, family had a weightier meaning than it often does in today’s American culture. The majority of the world has kept this “traditional” style of family, where the family is the most basic social unit, not the individual person. Families are there seen more like a body, and I believe this is the way families were seen in biblical times. But American families now look increasingly segmented and estranged rather than a united and close-knit body.

Sometimes I wonder which of the two kinds Christians refer to: the modern American family or the more globally historical one. If the first, that would explain many issues now present in the American church. A family that is not a body is easily divided, easily weakened, easily destroyed. If the second meaning of family is used, then the church is full of hypocrites, which we already knew.

What we need is a resurrection of the family body. May all Christians live as if other believers are actually part of the same body. When one part of your body hurts, the whole body suffers. I’d like to see my brothers and sisters stop being ashamed of each other or setting themselves up as judge. Stop criticizing; start encouraging. We need to stop attacking and start defending. As one body, we belong to each other in Christ. “Be devoted to one another.”

Once we can stand up for each other, we need to also lay down. Lay down our pride, our self-righteousness. Let’s be courageous enough to be vulnerable. Let’s admit that we are dependent on each other. Let’s humble ourselves in front of our family and confess to one another that we don’t have life together and that we do need help. No one is immune to discouragement and stumbling. God works through his people, so let him use his people to answer our prayers. Care for the body, and let the body care for you.

After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. Ephesians 5:29-30
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Posted by on September 27, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Why Being Vegetarian is Like Being a Christian

Recently I came to a tipping point. I could no longer ignore the people I had met, the arguments I had heard, and what I had learned. It was time to make a decision.

And it’s a decision I’ve had to remake every day since.

Every meal in fact.

I choose to eat vegetarian.

picnic (2)In some ways, this choice is easy. I’ve accepted seafood (technically making me pescatarian), which allows me to splurge when beans and salads don’t cut it. Three of my housemates have chosen the same diet, so I can depend on them for support and accountability. Hardly any meat enters the house (seafood is too expensive). We enjoy an abundance of delicious, home-cooked meals without meat. And ice cream is meatless.

But then I go to a restaurant and salivate for a chicken sandwich or mushroom swiss burger. I envy the non-vegetarians at my table. Or then I’m packing my lunch for work and eyeing the leftover pasta with ground beef sitting in the fridge at home. Or then someone suggests buying pizza, and I mourn that I won’t get any pepperoni or Hawaiian.

Now there are many things that do not tempt me, but food is one of my weaknesses. Last spring I decided to fast from sweets for one month. The idea was one month would break my sugar addiction and create healthier eating habits. Before the end of the first week, I started making “exceptions.” I decided Fridays could be splurge days. And sugar in coffee or fruit pastries didn’t count.

It was a downward spiral. One “exception” led to more. Pretty soon, I gave up altogether. I felt surrounded by sweets. There was no way to escape, and I couldn’t endure the temptation.

So now when I face a menu, the question is always, “Which will I choose this time?” Each meal presents an opportunity to either follow my temptation or follow my conviction. Will it be the eggs and bacon or cinnamon muffin and power smoothie? Juicy all-beef burger or the avocado salad sans chicken? Teriyaki pork or Cajun rice and beans? Each meal is a choice.

A day can sometimes feel like only a series of meals, a series of choices. Like a vegetarian, every Christian faces a series of choices, from the moment they wake until the moment they drift to sleep.

vineyardI’ve heard it said that being a Christian means each day waking up to die again. If a Christian truly wants to live up to the name of Christ, it means giving up himself, emptying himself, and taking on the likeness of Christ (Matt. 16:24). It means to live for Christ and not for himself.

This isn’t something that’s done with a prayer one night when it feels like nothing can be truer than that you are a sinner and Jesus loves you anyway. It isn’t done by asking Jesus to save you, getting baptized in water, or receiving the communion bread and wine. It’s never done. If a Christian, you are not done.

Being a Christian is a daily lifestyle, a series of choices. Each moment the question is, “Which will I choose this time?” Will it be my new self or my old self (Eph. 4:20-24)? Christ or Satan? Heaven or this world? Holiness or sin? Life or death? Each step towards Christ gets easier, and each “exception” makes it harder to turn around again. Christianity isn’t about being “in” or “out.” Rather, it tells the direction you are moving. Are you following Christ or moving away from him?

You see, I couldn’t have decided to become a vegetarian and gone on as I was. It required making a choice the next time I ate. And the time after that. And the time after that. For every meal onwards. The Christian life is the same, whether the vegetarian or Christian chooses their lifestyle because of moral conviction or personal health.

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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Other thoughts


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It’s Not about Abstinence

Every now and then someone asks me if I’m engaged. No, I’m not. They ask if I have a promise ring. I laugh. Then they ask if the band on my hand is a purity ring. At one time, I would have said yes. Now I’m more hesitant.

The ring is a simple, silver band with a line of seven crosses etched on one side and “John 3:16” on the other. My parents gave it to me for Christmas about five or six years ago. They didn’t call it a purity ring, but it fit perfectly on my ring finger.

SONY DSCI remember my hand feeling heavy and I would play with the ring constantly. Now I’m used to the weight of it. But after a while of wearing anything, you stop being so consciously aware. It doesn’t attract your attention until it attracts someone else’s.

On the occasion that someone does notice my ring, it comes as something of a surprise. Like when a new acquaintance comments on your eye color. “Oh,” I say. “I guess my eyes are blue.” It’s such an unconscious fact that it’s startling to have it pointed out.

“Yes, I do wear a ring.”

“Is it a purity ring?”

“Um, I suppose…it could be…in a way.”

The difficulty is my ring doesn’t mean to me that I’m “waiting until marriage.” It’s no “true love waits” message. Sexual abstinence can’t prevent sin. Jesus said adultery happens as soon as lust enters your mind (Matt. 5:27-28). Sin doesn’t begin with the physical act. Sin comes out of the heart.

Wedding rings signify vows made between two people. They’ve committed themselves to the needs of each other. Instead of abstinence, the goal is faithfulness. In all ways, not just sex. The ring reminds a spouse to be faithful to their partner while also saying their partner has promised to be faithful in return.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

God proved himself faithful to me even before I loved him, even before I knew him. He gave me his son; his son gave me his life. And he continues to love me every day. Jesus Christ is the love of my life (Isa. 62:5). That’s why I wear my ring.

My ring reminds me to be faithful to Jesus. And it reminds me that Jesus is faithful to me (Matt. 28:20). He’s promised to love me and do everything for my good. I’ve promised the same for him. We’ve made our vows.


Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized