Jesus and Breakfast

My go-to breakfast is simple: Oatmeal, mashed up banana, 2 tablespoons of ground up flax seed. Quick. Easy. Nutritious.

It is a very filling breakfast – lunch is rarely on my schedule nowadays. As my doctor explained, this simple meal clocks in with around 10 grams of fiber and eating this amount can keep you full for a while.

Yesterday, someone asked me what Jesus ate for breakfast.

Good question.

I know he didn’t eat Apple Jacks or Fruit Loops. And I’m guessing a grilled peanut butter and jelly wasn’t in his diet.

Fish and nuts and flatbread and olives and fruits and vegetables were staples of the region of Israel. He probably ate some combination of those foods to start his day. Oh, and garlic.

Why garlic?

The Israelites loved garlic, they even complained about the lack of the stuff to Moses in wilderness. 

So I’m thinking that Jesus ate his fair share.

$81.10

Yeah, I laughed as I checked out at CPH ordering the 2019 Pastoral Desk Diary. Imagine, paying $81.10 for residential shipping. Granted, I’ve made fun of CPH’s shipping charges in the past, but to see a cost of $81.10 to ship a relatively small and light book made my day.

#HolyCow

#FiveBucksShipping

Meatless Good Friday

Balancing the spiritual desires of Holy Week with the realities of real life sometimes causes me to shake my head.

I’ve been asked a half-dozen times in the course the last two days whether it is a church rule that you can’t eat meat on Good Friday. The “understanding” of not eating meat on Friday is burned into the minds of Roman Catholics who will this Friday eat enough salmon or tilapia that will cause a shortage of the little critters come Saturday morning. And because most of us here in New Jersey have relatives who are Roman Catholics, their ideas on refraining from meat on Fridays is passed onto us non-Catholics through words or osmosis.

It is not a church law that you must refrain from eating chicken nuggets on Good Friday.

Coming from a strictly Lutheran perspective, Good Friday is a holy, introspective day where one could, if they so choose, fast, that is, to refrain from eating. Good Friday offers Christians an opportunity to use that day as a spiritual exercise by reflecting on our lives as God’s children knowing that He sent His Son to pay our debt of sin. But this is an exercise, not a law. So, if you really are hankering for a cheeseburger on Friday, God isn’t going to hit you with lightning as you walk out of Burger King.

Yet the “eating fish, not meat on Good Friday” lives on.

The owner of a local deli told me yesterday that he is going to have four fish options for “Christians” on Friday, one of which is a lobster bisque soup, another is pan fried tilapia. Supermarkets have great sales on everything fish this week including tuna in a can that is going for less than a buck at some stores. And as I see what deli owners and supermarkets do for us “Christians” this week, I wonder why don’t they offer deals on tofu dishes? That way, no animal flesh at all on Good Friday!

Well, I don’t eat meat any day. It’s not a spiritual exercise; it’s a health exercise. Should you stop eating meat this Friday for a day? It won’t kill you, but don’t do it because you may think it may make you more holy. Focus your day on Christ and fasting. That’s a better way to tackle the spiritual aspect of Good Friday.

Back to Normal

It is chilly outside this morning.

While thermometers say it is 9 degrees outside, the real feel temperature is -8.

That’s cold.

Here in Northern New Jersey, we received anywhere from 5 to 9 inches of snow during Thursday’s nor’easter that walloped a large chunk of the northeast. But we remember the people of the area in and around Boston where high tides washed seawater onto the streets that froze. Cars are encased in feet of ice and the more than the foot of snow that fell. And with the frigid weather pounding the region today, it isn’t melting anytime soon.

It is going to be a miserable time up in Massachusetts for the next couple of days.

Around here, we’ve cleaned up pretty well. Streets are drivable, many of the main roads are down to blacktop. Side streets are mostly a mix of icy blacktop and snow. Schools here in New Milford are open but are under a 2-hour delay. Life is getting back to normal quickly, though I think our supermarkets are going to be a little low on bread and milk following Wednesday’s onslaught of people rushing to stock up before the storm.

For us at St. Matthew’s in New Milford, it means that our regular schedule is back on track. This schedule includes Saturday morning’s “undecorating” of the church beginning at 10:00 AM.

Yeah, it is going to be a cold weekend. Dress warmly. See you Saturday morning at church.

Common-sense Ten Commandments

If we pray the Ten Commandments each night before going to bed, then we’d see their actual importance for our lives. When we recognize our failures in each of the commands of God to the Israelites, we see ourselves as sinners who are not only are in need of forgiveness, but also of guidance to be better people.

In this morning’s Your View section of the Editorial page, a writer from Paramus states that as we enter the New Year, we all pray and hope that the world will become a better place. I don’t think many people say to themselves, “You know, I want this new year to be miserable for everyone.” Most of us do hope that the coming year is better for us as individuals, but also for others.

We all want our hopes to overcome the sadness.

The letter writer gets it.

The Ten Commandments are an authoritative guide to our everyday behavior.

In my sermons recently, I’ve preached on the importance of living one’s faith, expressing the love of God in words and deeds. See, the center of the Christian heart is on the confession of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and what it means for us individually. When we confess God in words and deeds, we are saying something about what God has done for us – saving us from the eternity away from Him and creating in us a new person each day where we love God above all things and love one another without condition.

The Ten Commandments stress these points out clearly. In the first three commandments, we are shown the importance of putting God above everything, of respecting and loving HIm like He has loved us, of receiving Him and responding to His love as we worship Him. When God is at the center of our lives, we are different. We hold onto God’s grace and love and mercy and announce it to others. No matter our lots in life, we trust God through everything.

The remaining commandments show us the same point of the first three: We are to love and respect all people. Of course, the hard part is doing it because there are way too many people who get on our nerves. God wants us to be His agents of love and mercy and grace in this world. The specific commandments show us how we are kind and merciful and gracious and loving to others.

As the letter writer wrote, the world would be a better place if we all tried to follow the commandments.

They’re Not Resolutions

In earlier December, I started an informal list of ‘things’ I want to do to improve both my professional and personal life. While not classifying them as “New Year’s Resolutions,” they are more like resolutions that I care to admit. January 1st resolutions are really meant to be broken because when your resolution is to lose weight, you really shouldn’t gorge yourself on doughnuts eight hours into the new year.

In the middle of summer of 2017, I made the decision to declutter my life by getting rid of all those material things that I hadn’t used in a while. Honestly, I spent more days at the recycling center/dump dropping stuff off I think the guys there are going to name the place after me. Yet with all the elimination of “stuff” in an effort to declutter my life, there is still plenty to do. And the process continues until my stuff problem is normalized.

That is what prompted me to start my December list. It includes so many little odds and ends ideas that I wonder why in the world hadn’t I already accomplished those tasks?

For example, I want to make my internet life safer by utilizing a password manager. My password list is so long, I end up changing passwords a lot of the time because I just can’t remember the current password to a whole range of websites. Also, I wanted to make my  “passwording” stronger. I sometimes use the same password for similar websites. That’s a no-no, but I did it because it was easier to remember those passwords for say news sites.

By using a password manager, I could update all of my passwords with much stronger combinations and have them available through a web browser or sharing sheet on my phone that is “password” protected by my face (I have the iPhone X).

This morning at 3:45 AM, I started using a password manager and began what will be a laborious process of changing passwords and adding all those website accounts to the program. It won’t be completed overnight, but the move has begun. Continue reading “They’re Not Resolutions”

Monday Morning, November 13th

A few years ago when I was sick, one of my doctors told me rather emphatically to stay away from sugared cereal, especially every brand of Cheerios. Considering the advice was coming from a doctor promoting a whole food, plant-based diet, the “stay away from the presweetened cereal aisle” advice didn’t seem so far-fetched.

Yet to the doctor, the importance of staying away from added sugar was important since a number of studies showed that sugar helps feed cancer. And if you have cancer, my doctor believed the best way to stop feeding it was to stay away from added sugar in foods.

CheeriosA couple of days ago, the New York Times ran a story about Honey Nut Cheerios, asking whether or not this sugar-laden cereal was healthy. Over the years, General Mills, the creators of the Cheerios brand, have reduced the serving size of the Honey Nut cereal from one cup to three-quarters of a cup to reduce the sugar-per-serving visual on boxes. Honestly, have you ever eaten just three-quarters of a cup of Honey Nut Cheerios? No. Do people actually follow the serving size suggestions on the sides of their breakfast cereals? No. All of us end up pouring cereal into a bowl until our eyes smile saying “Yeah, that’s enough.”

My doctor from years ago suggested I eat a more balanced whole foods breakfast. Maybe some scrambled tofu with vegetables, or if I am more adventurous, eat a salad. But my doctor’s advice was clear – stay away from the cereal aisle.

Hat Tip to The New York Times: Are Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy? We Look Inside the Box https://nyti.ms/2hpLggR

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Yesterday, our Voters’ Body at church held their not-so-monthly, not-so-bimonthly meeting. Usually, we hunker down in the weeds of finances and budgets, the workings of ministries and calendar issues, business plans and worship thoughts. Essentially, it is a business meeting that most people don’t want to go to, but do because the running of the operations of the church is important.

One idea that I brought up was to start a conversation that builds on our evangelism team’s efforts to rebuild the outreach of St. Matthew’s. I asked if it would be prudent to sit down with our paid staff at church – our music director, church secretary, and pastor – and evaluate what we expect from and determine the future duties of our staff. Our evangelism team is working on the outreach part of our church life. Our Voters’ Body is going to focus on the structure of our operations. To me, both our Vision and Voters’ initiatives will help redevelop the direction of St. Matthew’s for the future. Both church entities are on the same page, yet are doing different and very important leadership tasks. Sunday’s meeting was good.

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This week, we are going to re-launch our Prayer Team’s digital webpage and newsletter. The webpage should be live on Wednesday, the same day we’re sending out the newsletter.

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One question that we received at church this weekend was when were church announcements due in the church office for publication on the weekend? Wednesday at noon has been our traditional date and time. We’re going to stick with it.

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The recent explosion in sexual harassment and assault allegations against a large contingent of male Hollywood stars and leaders shows us once again that our world is sick. Today, say a prayer for an end to this violence, healing for the victims, and that those who committed the acts repent.