I normally don’t write about what I see in movies, but after watching “Food Inc.” at Cine Theatre in downtown Athens, GA, I have to write about this one.  As a follower of Jesus I am convicted about how relatively little thought I have given to the subject of food, particularly where it comes from and who is part of the process.  It’s not that I haven’t thought about it at all, my wife and I had started buying organic milk and vegetables in recent months.  But I had not put all the pieces together, and this movie was a big step toward seeing the bigger picture.

If you don’t know me, it is important that you know that I am a carnivore extraordinaire!  When the film said that the average American eats over 200 pounds of meat a year, I said, “YES!”.   I generally make it a point to eat meat at least once a day and rarely go without.  I love to grill!  Some of you are right with me and others of you are probably revolted at my carnivorous appetite.  But those are the facts about me…and now on with the issues at hand.

After watching “Food Inc.” I am convinced that this issue is not a preference issue, but rather it is an ethical issue.  And for those who are followers of Jesus our Christian ethics must examine this important area of life.  Why?  Because we all eat – and many of us do so multiple times a day.  And all of this eating means that many people and animals are directly affected by the choices we and businesses make.

Of course the main issue is on the people side of things.  My conclusion is that people are heavily exploited when it comes to food.  Not just a few people, but masses of people.  Migrant workers are particularly exploited by the system.  I’m left just being angry about this part of the equation.  The source of the anger is compassion.  Remember how Jesus looked out at the masses with compassion.  Before going into other elements let me just say that if you don’t have compassion for humanity then you aren’t very much like Jesus.  If you are not burdened for the people and nations of the world, then you aren’t very much like Jesus.  You need to ask him for a new heart, new eyes, and new ears, so that you may see as He sees, and be compassionate as He is!

Here are the issues:

How does my food consumption affect the lives of other humans?  Can I change my eating habits in a way that helps people?

Should there be standards for how animals are raised and killed for food?  Does the Bible have anything to say about this?

How can I make those I feed safer based on how I buy food?

What should my perspective be on laws concerning immigration, the patenting of life, farm bills, and safety as related to the food industry?

Are there certain companies I should avoid buying from or owning stock in?

What other difficult issues come into play?

I’ll do my best to give some direction or at least point us to those who have a good direction on these issues.

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On Monday, I was driving out of my neighborhood to go to a meeting when I saw a small dog running past me going the opposite direction. Dogs in my neighborhood do not generally run around – they are walked – and I could tell this was definitely an inside dog.  I stopped and tried to get the dog, but the little one just kept on running.  I knew that I wouldn’t like myself very much if I went ahead to the meeting and came back to find the dog laying dead on the road.  So I turned around and with the help of a couple neighborhood kids and another man caught the little guy – actually a girl – named Sweetie!

Sweetie’s dog tag had an address from the other side of town and a phone number.  “How in the world did you get way over here?”  I called the number, but I just go an answering machine.  So I grabbed a dog crate from my house and headed to my meeting with Sweetie in tow.  No return call before, during, or after my meeting.  When I got home it was dark, and I’m thinking that I will just have to figure this out tomorrow.  Before taking Sweetie in for the night I grabbed a leash in hopes that the dog would use the bathroom outside and not in my house.  As I’m walking back toward the house with the dog behind me, I suddenly realize that there is no longer any tension!  I turn around, and I all I have is the leash with the entire dog collar including the identification tag!  “Oh no!”  I look around the other side of the truck and yard – no dog – I look up the road and there is Sweetie – booking it.  So I take off after her IN FLIP-FLOPS…I had already played basketball and mowed a lawn so I don’t have much in the tank and this little dog is fast.  So the rest of this is like something out of a movie – I’m yelling at a car to stop that is about to run her over.  I lose track of the dog at one point and don’t see which way it went, the dog ends up running across 5 lanes of traffic, several motorist point me in the right direction, and people are looking at me like I’m crazy because I’m at a full sprint in flip-flops.  A 1/2 mile later from when we started running, I finally catch up to Sweetie in the Wendy’s drive-thru.  She is now safe once again.  After some detective work the next day, I was able to track down the person who was in charge of watching Sweetie while the owner was on a cruise.  The son-in-law who is a local police officer called to thank me and told me that Sweetie was a “rescue dog” and that she is an escape artist…with a history of running away.  In his opinion, this cute, little, dog is very fortunate to still be alive.

I’ve been reflecting some this week about Sweetie, and how I have observed that many people are the same as Sweetie – running away from the Person or people who are trying to help.  Ever since I was old enough and spiritually mature enough to understand it I have seen people run away from Jesus.  They think they are wise and are doing what is best for them – but they run from Jesus and into the Enemy’s trap.  It is only by the grace of God that more are not utterly crushed.  I’ve also noticed over the last 15 years the tendency of people to run from the truth tellers and spiritual helpers in their lives.  In western culture it is in large part due to the drastic individuality we are taught to embrace. “Whatever makes you feel good is right for you,” and “You don’t have to listen to anyone but yourself,” are the mantras of our culture.  The extreme emphasis on the individual is a great hindrance toward healthy churches in the west today.  So, if you are being like Sweetie, STOP, and let Jesus grab you with His gentle and scarred hands and let Him embrace you deep into His love.

Please take a few minutes to read and meditate on the following verses:

Judges 17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Praise Jesus for His sacrifice for us!)

I Timothy 1:1-2, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…”

Hebrews 13:17, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect, and may God use this for His glory and honor.

Penn from Penn and Teller asks a profound question of those who have faith in God.  “How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”  Penn is a self-proclaimed atheist, and yet he gets this serious truth far more than many followers of Jesus do.  We can see the task Jesus gave us to do (“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”) should be an obvious top priority.  Please also recognize how profoundly touched Penn was by a Christian who”loved his neighbor” by engaging him as the Scriptures teach us.  The video is 5 minutes long – it is worth your time – watch it!  You can also say a prayer for Penn that he will read the Bible he was given and come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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I was driving on Wednesday when I heard two back to back radio ads.  The first reminded me that I only had a short time to buy flowers for Easter.  The second wanted to let me know that I needed to buy some new clothes so I could look my best on Easter morning.  As if Jesus cares whether I bought flowers or new clothes.  Many of His followers in the world can afford neither.  Do we really think that Jesus is more pleased with the man who has new clothes than He is with the the man who has ragged clothes? Of course not!  Jesus is primarily concerned with the heart, while the hearts of men and women are often concerned about what those around them will think.

The only things in the New Testament I read about clothes are that we should be modest (I Timothy 2) and that we should not play favorites based on attire (James 2).  On a related note, if we really wanted to be symobolic in our attire for Sunday then perhaps we should wear work clothes to remind us of the cost of following Jesus.  His road was a hard road of suffering.  Are we greater than He?  In fact Jesus instructs us to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9).

Jesus, please help us to keep everything in perspective of Your life, Your death, Your resurrection!  You are the glorious Lamb of God that was slain!  Help us to complain less and act in love more!

Romans 1:24-32 (some of the most unpopular verses in the Bible)

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are
whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

II.  The result of humans rejection of God – God gave them up: (1:24-31)
A.  to dishonor their bodies (1:24-25)
B.  to vile passions (1:26-27)
C.  to a debased mind (1:28-31)

The result of humans suppressing the clear things they know about God is given to us.  God “gave them up”.  What does this mean?  The greek word is “paredoken” and means “abandoned”.  So in other words God stopped restraining humans desire to sin and let their sin nature take its course.

Before we get into the specific results of humans dishonoring their bodies, living in vile passions, and having debased minds, let us remember Paul’s audience.  Rome at the time this is written was a terribly wicked place and would continue to become worse and worse until its fall.  We can say without doubt that the specific sins Paul is about to give were participated in by at least some of those receiving this letter.  We can see from the letter Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth (I Corinthians) a great example of this same thing.  Now much of their sinful activity would have come before their belief in Jesus but not all of it.  Paul takes the opportunity to point out to all what is wrong in the sight of God.

The result of rejecting God is to no longer have a basis for right and wrong but to live by selfish desires, emotions, pragmatism, and if it feels good to you in the moment – do it. We do not need to look but a few minutes on the news or at history to see the results of such godlessness…the pain that both the one who is sinned against and the one who sins endure.  On sanctity of life Sunday, why does the church even need to talk about the sanctity of life?  It is because the world has made life very cheap.  Today about 16,000 children will die from hunger related issues. Why?  We can even say that never before in history has so much been done or so much been given to help the poor.    Yet we continue to fall so short.  When we think of MLK day, why was there the need for a civil rights movement?  It is because the hearts of humans are corrupt and the minds of humans are debased.

Whether or not you or I have participated in all of the sins that are listed, no one can honestly read the list, examine their heart and their past, and feel good about the life they have lived.  Who among us has not been “disobedient to parents” or “gossips” or “full of envy” or “prideful”. Now it is important to note that the Greek words used here are in a present tense and give the idea that these things are the ongoing pattern of life – without repentance, without seeking forgiveness, without striving to walk in the ways of God.  So we can say that verses 28-31 are surely descriptive of most everyone at some point in their lives, but it doesn’t have to stay that way because the Gospel of Christ is the power of salvation to everyone who believes.

III.  The righteous judgment of God against ungodliness is death (1:32)

Note the strong statement given in verse 32 about those who approve of sin. We must call sin, sin, if we are to have any hope.  The list before us must first be dealt with in the local church and then that church can have a proper voice in its community.

Humans who have rejected a good and loving God, who have suppressed the knowledge of God, who have perverted justice and exercised evil are deserving of one thing and one thing only; and that thing is death.  By death we mean a termination of life on this earth and an eternal separation of one’s spirit from God Almighty.  If we know what we really deserve then we can be full of thanksgiving for God’s grace!

On Tuesday’s Inauguration day, I paid particular attention to the opening and closing prayers.  I’m interested in who will be asked to take on that task and how they will handle it.  For Obama’s inauguration Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery had the honor and difficult task.

Rick Warren is known as a popular evangelical preacher and writer (Purpose Driven Life), and Joseph Lowery is known as a civil rights activist and is a Minister in the United Methodist Church.

From my perspective Warren’s positive points were:

  • he stated firmly that there is one God
  • he prayed in the name of Jesus and made clear that this was his prayer and did not represent it as a prayer from all the people present and watching on TV
  • he gave testimony that Jesus had changed his life
  • he asked for justice and the helping of one another
  • by using the Lord’s prayer he made it clear that God’s glory and kingdom are primary

From my perspective Warren’s negative points were:

  • he could have used the opportunity to thank God for Jesus as the only source of salvation (Some will argue that wouldn’t be appropriate at the time, but the problem I have with events like this is that many people walk away with a false sense of security that they are okay with God.)
  • he went a little extra-biblical on the idea that MLK and a “great cloud of witnesses” were rejoicing in heaven (We know there is a great cloud of witnesses – Hebrews 12:1-2, and we know there is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents – Luke 15:7, but I do not find any biblical precedent for the idea of rejoicing in heaven over a strictly political event in the world.

From my perspective Lowery’s positive points were:

  • asking for the forgiveness of our national sins
  • asking for protection for the poor that they would not be exploited
  • asking for help that we would work together

From my perspective Lowery’s negative points were:

  • he does not seem to believe in the One God presented in the Bible and expressed that there are multiple paths to doing God’s will
  • though early in the prayer he talked about unity, he ended with what many decry as racism and a step backwards.  I’m not really sure what “when yellow will be mellow” means – if someone in the know could help me with that one I would appreciate it.  I do know that Asians don’t want to be called yellow and that Indians don’t want to be called red – so in that regard the whole thing is a little insensitive – even if meant in fun. I do greatly wish that we would treat each other with no regard to ethnicity, but it seems like the devil and the sinful human flesh are going to keep dragging this one out as they have for thousands of years.  Regardless we all still have personal responsibility to think and do right.

May we be right with God through His Son Jesus Christ and may we learn to pray in a way that pleases God.

(Click on the name for the entire transcipt of each prayer:  Warren Lowery)

Also please note previous post on praying for our new president.

From Romans chapter one verse eighteen through chapter three Paul makes his case for the sinfulness of man and God’s righteousness in condemning sin.  He begins with showing the guilt of those who blatantly deny God and then he shows the guilt of the moralists and religious people.  Remember that Paul has already claimed that they only way to be made just in God’s sight is by having faith in the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16-17).

Romans 1:18-23

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Romans 1:1-18-32  The wrath of God against ungodliness

I.  The reasons for God’s wrath against humans (1:18-23)

A.  Humans suppress the truth about God (1:18-20)

  1. the knowledge of God is within humans
  2. the evidence of God’s design is all around us

Paul makes the claim that the general truth about God is obvious to humans but that most humans do not want to know about God. Therefore, they suppress what they know in their hearts and what they perceive with their minds.  The denial of God must be fortified on two fronts – the heart and the head. Human’s selfishness (the desire to do one’s own thing) is of great use is suppressing what the heart knows about God.  On an intellectual level the truth of being accountable to one’s creator is slapped down by denying anything was created in the first place.  If we are here by chance then at most I have to answer to my society, but in all reality my goal is to please myself.  Despite the abundant evidence all around us of God’s design the reality is rejected and the self-blinding goes deeper and deeper.

B.  Humans alter the truth about God (1:21-23)

  1. Professing to be wise they became fools
  2. Made God into an image – depicted by corruptible things

The fool has said in his hear there is no God (Psalm 53:1).  In particular the fool denies the true and living God.  He makes his own god(s) to his own specifications.  He often worships the creation or even himself via humanism and materialism.  He sets the rules of his life to his own liking and he makes or picks god(s) to match.

God is rightly angry at such things, but we should be so thankful that while God’s holiness demands the condemnation of sin, God’s love desires the redemption of you and me!

(In Part 2, we will look at God’s response to human’s suppression of the truth.)