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

Herniated Discs and The Delight Of The Father

Turns out herniated discs are about as fun as a fart in a wet-suit.

On and off back pain from the past few months culminated this past weekend with sharp stabs to my lower back when I walk and a dull firm ache even when I sit still. When I went to the Dr. today I was informed a slipped lower disc was the cause of my considerable chagrin. The Dr. signed me up for an MRI but when I calculated how much I’d be paying out of pocket for it I respectfully declined.

Though I have two little boys who demand regular WWE Smackdowns and I coach two sports I have no clue as to how my back got into such a predicament. This past week I’ve been walking like an arthritic 120 year old trying to do the robot. I’m glad my source of pain has been entertainment for someone somewhere, maybe.

Herniated disc pain usually goes away on its own after a few weeks; only 10 percent require surgery. I’m praying mine won’t. I’m thankful for the health God has granted to me over the course of my life. After years of competitive football and being a reckless manboy I have never broken a bone, had major surgery, or incurred any major medical expenses.

I am especially thankful for familial blessings God grants that seem to be healing agents in and of themselves. After the particularly tough day at work (mainly due to the severe back pain and unforeseen medical expenses) I sat down on my recliner with my almost 1 year old son, Gideon, in lap. My three year old, Josiah, crawled up with us and my two lover boys commenced to laugh and kiss one another for the next 10 minutes or so (see my site banner photo for a sample). As their father I delighted in the whole experience. My son’s birth an irrepressible joy in me.

A little discomfort pales in comparison to such amazing graces.

I am also thankful no matter how bad, good, wise, dumb, weak or strong we may be or feel at any given moment, this is true: In Christ, we are never more or less than a son or daughter of Father God. If Christ’s blood was shed for us then the Father looks at us, in spite of all the entanglements of sin and selfishness, and sees a perfect spotless Son whom He is eternally pleased in (1 John 3:1).

God delights in His own glory, amen! He delights in Christ, absolutely!. But here is the biblical reality that makes me supremely uncomfortable almost daily. If I am in Christ, then…God…delights…in me (Zep 3:17). Yes, it is through His grace. Yes, I deserve wrath on my best days.

But the work and person of Christ has now replaced eternal disdain with Fatherly delight. Sworn arch enemies have been made adopted sons and daughters (Gal 4:6).

And a million bad days and herniated discs can’t hold back the contagious joy God has over His own children.

Bryan Daniels