Suicide by Junk Food

The people of Danville (my hometown) are killing themselves by eating too much, and especially by eating too much junk food.  We may have more fast food joints per capita than anywhere in America.  Despite being surrounded by fertile farmland, the vast majority of Danvillians eat french fries and Big Macs rather than healthy and nutritious produce.

Just consider these alarming facts.

(numbers are based on incidence per 100,000 people)

Rate of Coronary Disease:
United States 163.4
Virginia 124.9
Danville 281.9

Rate of Diabetes:
United States 24.9
Virginia 21.6
Danville 78

Rate of Stroke:
United States 51.1
Virginia 50.6
Danville 94.7

And we wonder why health care costs are skyrocketing.

Love Wins

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Hello Summer

That’s Will standing in the sweet corn.  He’s 6′ 1″, so obviously the corn is doing well.  We grow without using pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizer.  Sometimes that means we fail.  Cabbage worms took all our cabbage this year, for example.  But it is satisfying to know that everything we produce is produced naturally and using sustainable practices.  And there hasn’t been any poison sprayed on it.

We baled more hay this weekend.  Now we probably have a lot more than we need.  But I like knowing that we’ll have plenty even if we get hit with an unusually harsh winter.  It’s also nice to be able to use the extra hay for animal bedding.  Once it’s spoiled by the animals, and enriched in the process, we put it in the compost pile.

Compost we produced on the farm, together with crop rotation, is responsible for our great looking corn, for example.

Lots of challenges come with farming the way we do.  We are dealing with verticullum wilt in the tomatoes, flea beetles in the eggplant, weeds in the potatoes and onions, etc etc.  I’ll be honest–there are days when I imagine how easy it would be to solve a problem with a sprayer.  But it’s not going to happen.  We’ll just accept reduced yields when we have to, and keep trying to make improvements.

I’m considering expanding our normal 3 year rotations to 7 years or more.  We’re evaluating what we need to produce for our families, and how best to generate surpluses to sell and give away.  We’ll probably be implementing some significant changes next year.

For now, the green beans will be ready any day now.  The garlic is dried and ready to store.  The onions and potatoes will be ready to harvest soon.  The cucumber, squash and tomato plants are heavy with fruit.  We’re picking, eating and freezing blackberries.  And we’re going to have a lot of sweet corn.

Hello Summer.

Love Wins

Lukewarm

Francis Chan on “lukewarm people.”

LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go. (See Isaiah 29:13)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE give money to charity and to the church … as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? (See 1 Chronicles 21:24)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers. (See James 1:22 & 4:17) 

LUKEWARM PEOPLE rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. (See Matthew 10:32-33)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. (See Luke 18:11-12)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives. (See Luke 9:57-62)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for pastors and missionaries and radicals. (See Matthew 22:37-38)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached. (See Matthew 5:43-47)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. (See Luke 18:21-25)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.” Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel “called” to minister to the rich; very few feel “called” to minister to the poor. (See Matthew 25:34,40)

LUKEWARM PEOPLEdo whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without requiring too much of them. They ask, “How far I can go before it’s considered a sin?” (See 1 Chronicles 29:14)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God. (See 1 Timothy 6:17-18)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christians or because some people persist in calling us a “Christian nation.” (See Matthew 7:21)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they don’t have to. They don’t’ have to trust God if something unexpected happens – they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them—they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live—they have life figured out and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis – their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.

Ouch.

Love Wins

God Wins

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  1 John 4: 7-8

Everyone who loves knows God.  If we love, then we have been born of God and know God.  In fact, God is love.

So who has been born of God?  Everyone who loves.

Who knows God?  Everyone who loves.

Seems that it doesn’t take a seminary degree or strict adherence to a bunch of religious laws to know God.  God is love.  Know love and we know God.

How cool is that?

God Wins.

Mercy

When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations…and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy….You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity…  Deuteronomy 7:2, 16.

No mercy?  No pity?  Destroy them totally?

Is this the model for how we are to treat foreigners?  Is the model for how we are to treat those who have something we want?  Is this the model for how we are to treat those who are at our mercy and over whom we have been given power? 

Fortunately, the story does not end there. 

Jesus alluded directly to this passage  in one of his most famous parables:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

 He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”    Luke 30: 25-33

Love Wins

Lisa’s story

A third-grade teacher gave a creative writing assignment to her class.

“I’m going to tell you the beginning of a story, and your task is to write a creative and imaginative ending. There was once an ant and a grasshopper. The ant worked hard all summer, storing up food for the winter. The grasshopper played all summer and did no work. Winter came and the grasshopper, starving to death, went to the ant’s house. ‘Mr. Ant, my family and I have no food, and we will not last through the winter. You have plenty for your family and enough for us. Would you share?’ Now write the ending.”

One of the little girls, Lisa, shot her hand into the air. “Yes, Lisa,” responded the teacher.

“Can I draw a picture instead of writing the ending?”

“Yes Lisa,” she replied, “You may draw a picture, but you must also write the ending.”

The bigger question: How would you write the ending of the story? Better yet: How are you writing the ending of the story?

The papers came streaming in. As always, a few papers proffered this sad ending: “So the ant said, ‘No, Mr. Grasshopper! There’s only enough food for me and my family. You don’t deserve any food. You should have worked in the summer.’ And the grasshopper died.” Most of the papers came in with the traditional ending. I call it the Veggie Tales ‘God likes it when we share’ ending. “So the ant shared his food with the grasshopper and they all lived happily ever after.” But there was one more paper. Remember Lisa, the girl who wanted to draw a picture? When her paper came in, the teacher, visibly disturbed, proceeded to call her mother. She recounted the assignment saying, “In my fifteen years of teaching this class and giving this assignment, I have never seen this ending.” Here’s how Lisa finished the story:

“So the ant gave all his food to the grasshopper. And the ant died.”

And underneath the ending she had drawn a picture of three crosses.

(from asburyreader.com)

Love Wins

Informed

There is possible no deep sense of beauty or human heroism of conduct, and no sublimity of religion, which is not informed by the humble sense of man’s precarious position in the universe.

John Crowe Ransom

Love Wins