A Pre-Emptive Strike Against Thanksgiving Gluttony (and Dairy Queen)

I wrote something like this last year after the Thanksgiving festivities…I thought I’d share it this year before we gorge our bellies ; )

Buzzin’ on Grape Juice

Church culture intrigues me.

I am always curious as to how inconsistencies or contradictions are birthed in church traditions and cultural Christianity. Alcohol consumption is just one example. Especially in my own tradition (Baptist), abstinence from any alcoholic beverage, no matter the temperance exercised, is a prerequisite for any church leadership position. It is written with permanent ink in the church bylaws. And though this would be another post topic, I can never reconcile how drunk people in John 5 thought Jesus saved the best wine for last if He was only serving up watered down grape juice.

While we strain a gnat out of our wine glasses, one “camel” that is commonly overlooked in cultural churchianity (especially the Southern flavor) is gluttony (Leviticus 19:18). Yes, Thanksgiving is a celebration of faith, family and provisions (as it should be), but it has also become centered around ginormous meals that include ungodly amounts of red meat, lardy gravy, casseroles, sugary pies, and sweet tea. It is a time to brag about caloric intake and the intestinal fortitude it took to force down that last bite of pumpkin crunch.

I consume enough each Thanksgiving to get sick to my stomach for the rest of the evening and well into the night, the ache only subsiding after a couple BC powders and Sprites.

It’s not just during Thanksgiving.

Follow my example…to the buffett…

Look at church leadership. When was the last sermon you heard from the pulpit condemning the sin of gluttony? Even worse, when is the last time you saw a pastor who was clinically obese preaching from the pulpit, a likely persistent indulger in the sin of gluttony?

I’m always reminded of the story about the interaction between CS Lewis and a well-meaning pastor. The Pastor beseeched CS Lewis to quit his unseemly habit of cigar smoking, being it was such a nasty inelegant act for a Christian leader. Lewis quipped back to the portly pastor, in effect, “When you lose the fifty pounds you need to lose then you can come talk to me about bad habits.”

Many rotund pastors will rail against drugs, sex, and rock & roll without a batting of the eye, all while carrying their idol before the congregation within their size 44 waistband. Since when does treating our body as a temple only have to do with premarital sex and masturbation (1 Cor 6:19-20)? Of course it is wrong to murder, but why is it OK to slowly kill ourselves with our poor lifestyle habits?

It’s not just my Baptist brethren.

Supernatural Jenny Craig

No lie: I heard a personal account of one pastor in the apostolic/prophetic movement who was counseling a young single lady who should be considered medically obese. She suggested to the pastor that she felt she needed to lose weight and find a man. The pastor told her, “Don’t worry about that. God is going to grant you supernatural weight loss very soon, and you will find a man soon after that.” (!?!?!)

Do huh?

I don’t have time to address all the glaring problems with this miracle “cure” and the irreparable damage it may do to this girl emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Not only is that pastor making an irresponsible and whimsical false promise with no biblical truth in it, he is putting that woman’s very life in danger. Instead of speaking into her life a healthy lifestyle change (and the pitfalls of gluttony), the misguided pastor gave her a quick lightning bolt fix she would rather hear (tickling ears); Supernatural weight loss sounds better to me too than eating broccoli, tuna-fish, and sweating my butt off….

I’m not saying we should elevate gluttony and food excesses above any other vice, just a call to make an honest evaluation as to why we overlook some sins and not others. As with everything, it is not a physical issue but a spiritual issue. Addictions come in all forms, the most subversive types are usually the culturally accepted ones.

Thankfully, the gospel of Jesus Christ heals all addictions; and always gives grace towards our daily indulgences.

But as new creatures, if we are called to crucify the flesh (Galatians 2:20), that would seem to include the syrupy sweets and fried fatties we take with gleeful gratitude into our flesh. How would a dead man (or lady) react to the temptation to “super size” or “have it your way” when the opportunity daily presented itself?

To be crucified with Christ in part means the dynamic sway of Dairy Queen has died to us.

To be honest, I don’t like that. Because, after all, Dairy Queen has some really tasty fried onion rings.

Bryan Daniels

A New Year of Binge Eating, Great Music and the “Ekklesia”

Here’s three random musings from the year of 2011 thus far:

1.  My New Year’s diet was going along swimmingly until yesterday evening. My breakfast was low sugar oatmeal, an egg and water and no coffee. My lunch was an apple pecan salad with pomegranate dressing and plain grilled chicken sandwich. When dinner came around my stomach was racked with hunger pains and my head felt like it was being stabbed by an icepick (from the coffee withdrawals). After deliberation with my wife, I succumbed to CiCi’s and personally ate about 27 pizzas of astounding variety, a couple cinnamon rolls, and a brownie. I also started with a water but ended with a Pepsi. I only vaguely remember the meal now, for it was a warm gooey whirlwind of parmesan cheese, pineapple, barbecue and italian sausage.

Hello, my name is Bryan. And I am a binge eater.

On a positive note, the night did produce one crowning achievement for me. After the copious amounts of pizza and Pepsi intake I unleashed a burp that lasted for literally 14 seconds. It was a deep and guttural explosion of sorts. My wife said it made her want to both “cry and puke” at the same time. Awesome. 

2.  The word “church” in Scripture is “Ekklesia” in Greek. Now I am not a Greek scholar but it is a word with some far-reaching and striking implications. Ekklesia means literally “called out” or “called out to assembly”, which is exactly what every Christian is through Christ (1 Peter 2:9). The historical context of the word is also compelling.  Before the word had a theological meaning for the church it had a political meaning for ancient Greece:  

When the Greek city states found their governments had become too corrupt and oppressive, they would call for an ekklesia, an assembly outside the civil authority of the city. If enough people came out and refused to accept the existing centralized civil authority, that government would collapse. Non participation has been a successful and peaceful means to free mankind from oppressive civil authority throughout history.

 So when we are “called out” by Christ to join His church, we are being called to an assembly with ruling power and real authority. When sin and Satan have oppressed a city the “called out” are then called to use their weapons of the word, prayer and fasting. MUCH MORE could be said on this subject but I am too lazy to expand on it any further here; alas, you should do your own study on “Ekklesia.”

3.  I’m gaining a newfound respect for the musical talent of John Mark MacMillian. His voice is very rich, unique and a bit raw, but I would challenge anyone to find a better songwriter in the Christian music scene. The general levity of the CCM scene with its laments over “torn jeans” and vaguely Christian pop lyrics is a bit sickening. Macmillian’s song, “Death in His Grave,” has some of the most poetic and biblical lyrics I’ve heard put to music.  His song “How He Loves” (remade by the David Crowder Band) is both anthemic and worshipful. The story behind the lyrics is a touching reminder of redemption in tragedy.

It may be time we get out of the cultural Christian mainstream and find some of the unearthed gems giving a creative and authentic voice for the Lord.

Bryan Daniels

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