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March 27, 2011

food and the Christian

For some time now I have been wanting to study the theme of food in the Scriptures. I call this my theology of food. Life and Scripture are both full of eating and drinking. I think that to trace those themes would be a profitable study. But for now the ideas are just collecting and simmering, encouraged by books like Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art (of Homemaking). This homemaker classic gives a Biblical perspective on how Christian women can make their homes places of creativity and art. Framing everything Biblically, Schaeffer details how the everyday tasks of cooking and eating serve greater purposes.

What follows are a few things I learned while reading Hidden Art.
  • The variety and diversity of foods available on earth echoes the creativity and care of God. We should richly enjoy what He has given (without making it an idol, of course).
  • The kitchen is an artist's studio and meals should show imagination! Schaeffer writes "Food should...give variety and interest to meals... Meals should be a surprise, and should show imagination." When a cook considers the plate her canvas, "not only does this give interest, atmosphere and pleasure to the meal, but it gives dignity and fulfillment to the one who prepared it."
  • Children can learn many important life lessons in the kitchen: lessons about working, cooking, taking time to care for and help others and sharing with strangers.
  • Shared kitchens and meals open avenues to deeper communication and meet not only physical needs but deeper, inner needs as well. "The kitchen should be an interesting room in which communication takes place between child and mother and also among adults. It should be interesting in the same way as is an artist's studio, as well as being a cosy spot in which to have a cup of tea while something is being watched or stirred, or while waiting to take something out of the oven." "Meals...should always be more than just food. Relaxation, communication and a measure of beauty and pleasure should be part of even the shortest of meal breaks.... Food cannot take care of spiritual, psychological and emotional problems, but the feeling of being loved and cared for, the actual comfort of the beauty and flavour of food, the increase of blood sugar and physical well-being, help one to go on...better equipped to meet the problems.... The cook in the home has opportunity to be doing something very real in the area of making good human relationships." 
  • The fact that Jesus speaks of coming in and eating with the person who opens the door to Him "is a promise of communication which is very close and special." The Lord wants such a relationship with each of us.
As Christians we have much to enjoy with food. His Word gives purpose and direction to quotidian areas of life. We should see this art as an opportunity to be good stewards (not wasteful), caring, sharing—to be creative, fulfilled ministers of Christ through food!

March 14, 2011

come what may: contentment

The following definitions of "contentment" have blessed my soul in the past months.
From Jeremiah Burroughs in The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment:
Contentment is "that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal of every condition."
From Arthur Pink:
"Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul's enjoyment of that peace that passes all understanding. It is the outcome of my will being brought into subjection to the Divine will. It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good."
From Martyn-Lloyd Jones:
"Man's happiness was never meant to be determined by his circumstances, and that is the fatal blunder that we all tend to make... Man's happiness depends on one thing onlyand that is his relationship to God! ...We cannot get it anywhere else. We must come back to the soul and to God who made it. We were made for him, we are meant for him, we have a  correspondence with him, and we will never come to rest until, like that needle on the compass, we strike that northern point, and there we come to rest—nowhere else." 
I could likely read these words daily and be instructed every time. Barbara Mouser writes that from God's point of view, "the height of femininity" is a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). Gentle: that is, meek, under authority, not rebellious or contentious. Quiet: that is, full of faith, not troubled, upset or fearful. In a word, the woman of God is content. Resting. Gracious. Quiet. Sweet. Her soul is anchored in Christ (Heb. 6:19) amid the storms of life. She is content because her joy depends on the Lord, and on Him only. Is my heart a restful and orderly place, a gentle and quiet corner that reflects contentment in Christ?

(Contentment quotes found in Holding Hands, Holding Hearts by R. & S. Phillips)