Soul Food

There was a bear cub who didn't like to eat. You know the kind- there's one in every family. When his mother gave him milk, he'd demand to know why he had to drink it. "To give you strong bones." she would say. When she gave him meat, he would demand to know why he had to eat that. "To build up your muscles." his mother would reply. When she gave him fruit and he complained, she'd say "to build up a healthy layer of fat for when winter comes. And when it came to his least favorite food of all, vegetables, she told him "Because if you don't eat it, you'll get a whipping."

But the cub obeyed and as he grew up, he continued to eat according to the regimen his mother had given him.

Then one day, disaster struck. As the bear was climbing up a rocky hill, a large rock was jarred loose and fell on him.

When the bear realized that none of his bones were broken, he was glad that he'd been drinking his milk. As the ice cold stone lay against his fur, he was glad he'd eaten his fruit. When he finally lifted the stone off of himself, he was glad he'd eaten his meat. He never found out what the vegetables did for him, but in light of the situation, he was glad to have whatever advantage they had given him.

We all know how important a balanced diet is. we need sugars, salts, vitamins, minerals, proteins, water and other vital nutrients to stay alive and in good health. (Or in as good health as we can be)

Do you ever think about how important is to have a blanced diet spiritually?

If it is important to feed your body right, which is here today and gone tomorrow, how much more important is it to feed your mind and soul correctly?

How do you feed your spirit, anyway? (points to his eyes) with these... (points to ears) and these. With all your senses, really, but mostly with your eyes and ears. Every piece of data you take in is food for your spirit. Just like every bit of matter you swallow is food for your body. It may not be particularly good food, but it is food. Even the air you breathe is used for the purpose of processing your food at the cellular level. Likewise, everything you take in through your senses becomes food for your spirit. It's therefore important to be careful what we take in. As the song goes, "be careful little eyes what you see..."

But we have a very special gift. (hefts bible) This right here is a horn of plenty. It has enough to meet all of our nutritional needs and it never gets empty. We can go to the bible each day and get something from each of the food groups.

So what are the food groups? Let's take a look at a passage which relates to that...

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it covers the biggest areas.

Doctrine- the knowledge of what is true. Doctrine is like milk, building up the spirit's structure so that it can withstand such missiles as doubt and fear.

Reproof- finding fault. Reproof is the vegetable portion of our diet. It may not taste very good (I notice most of you here are not herbivorous species) but as vegetables bolster our immune system and clean out impurities, so reproof cleans out sin and error from our lives.

Correction- Correction is more than just finding what's wrong. It replaces that which is faulty or weak with that which is good and strong. It is like meat, which builds up muscle. Correction makes us spiritually strong, able to perform those mighty feats we never could have done as babies. Look at guys like Moses, Elijah, Paul, Peter... they ate their corrections.

Instruction in righteousness- Instruction is the fruit and bread of our diet. It is useless to have all that power and no way to apply it. Instruction gives us the drive and the energy we need as well as the direction.

But there is another food group. Just as there is a fifth food group in the physical realm. Desserts are actually very necessary to a balanced diet. A child who never has sweets will become malnourished. I find of myself that I quickly become depressed if I can't have any goodies. The spiritual food group which corresponds to this is comfort.

The unfortunate thing about comfort is that like the physical food group, many people choose to eat only the one group, ignoring the rest of their nutritional needs. One who goes to the bible only for comfort is going to be as well off as one who only eats desserts. His bones are going to be brittle. His claws will be dull. His senses will be swampy. His brain is going to be like lime jello. His fur- probably mangy. His teeth... what teeth?

That's not to say that there's anything wrong with going to the bible for comfort. Not at all. But if that's all you ever go for, you're going to end up like this mangy, bloated toothless wonder, having no foundation for your faith, being riddled with spiritual disease, having neither the ability nor the thrust to do much of anything.

So how do you insure a balanced diet?

First, it isn't necessary to do so EVERY day. Now generally, when you fix a meal, you make sure you get a little of everything. For example, I like to have a grilled salmon filet, some rice, some spinach and a glass of milk. Then for dessert, I'll have a cup of gellatin. Another day I might have some chicken and stuffing (made with a little milk) accompanied by brussel sprouts and a soda. Both very balanced meals. But I don't do this every day. Sometimes I eat ramen. Sometimes I have hot dogs with no vegetables. Sometimes I'll just have yoghurt. There is nothing wrong with meals like this, as long as I don't eat like that all the time.

Likewise, getting a balanced meal is not something that you have to do fearfully. sometimes you're just going to want a little doctrine. Sometimes, some juicy correction. Sometimes, a big steaming bowl of instruction. There's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, it's what you need. When you have a craving for meat, it's probably because your body needs protein. When you crave instruction, it's because that's what your spirit needs at that moment.

What is important is to be sure you are getting all of the food groups on a regular basis. How do you do that? I have five suggestions that have proven helpful and true.

The first and most important thing I can tell you is READ THE WHOLE BIBLE! Everything in it is there for a reason. Picking certain bits and ignoring others is a surefire way to get malnourished.

Now I'm going to pick on a couple of groups here. One of them is the jewish religion. Now anyone who knows me knows that I love the jews. But there is a sad practice that goes on in Synagogues today. There are certain portions of the scripture which rabbis forbid their congregations to read. Among them, Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Why? Because they contain messianic prophecies. The jews who obey this imparative, therefore, lack a key "protein" of doctrine. They are thus too weak to make the leap of faith to the acceptance of the Messiah.

The second group I'm going to pick on is the Jehovah's Witnesses. This group is forbidden from reading any scripture except what they are specifically told to read. As a result, Jehovah's witnesses are to fragile to stand up to attack. Do you know what a JW is supposed to do if they meet a Christian minister? They are supposed to run. Their leader know full well that they are not equipped to defend themselves.

My second suggestion is to hop around. Don't just read straight through the bible, but get a variety throughout the week. For example, study a chapter of the old testament on Wednesday. Read a psalm on Friday. Start your saturday off with some proverbs. Listen to a sermon from the epistles on sunday and on Tuesday, attend a lecture on Revelation.

One of the great things about the bible is that everything is interconnected. You may learn some very interesting things by going from book to book. For example, by going from Joshua to Nehemiah, I was able to see the history of the Gibeonites in Israel. I learned something about history, which in turn taught me about God's love, which in turn reinforced the massage about loving one another, which caused me to examine myself, which reminded me that I, too am a sinner who has been forgiven.

Doctrine, correction, instruction, reproof, comfort, all in one.

My third suggestion is to listen to your spirit. Just as your body will tell you what it needs through cravings and yens, so your spirit will tell you what it needs if you listen. The trick is not to mistake your wants for your needs.

My fourth suggestion is to take what is served to you. I am fortunate in that my parents love to have me join them for dinner every day, even though I have a working kitchen down here in my place. And I know that my mother (and sometimes my father) works hard to prepare a balanced meal. By accepting what is given to me, (including my box of pills) I can be sure that I'm getting everything I need.

Likewise, one of the best ways to insure you're being fed properly is to go to feedings regularly. I know that many of you do. You attend small group, you go to church locally and you come to church here, in addition to having your own devotions. On top of that, some of you are getting a formal education in religious studies. To that I say "Bravo!"

My fifth suggestion: ruminate. There is a reason we call meditating on an idea "rumination". It refers to the digestion process of certain animals, cows in especial. Grass, while being a very convenient food for its abundance, is very hard to live on. So to extract all the nutrition they can from their food, cows bring up food they have already eaten and chew it more thoroughly before sending it down to their third and fourth stomachs.

By bringing up something we have already learned and meditating on it (No, I don't mean closing your eyes and going "ohm!") we can learn more than if we just let it sit there in the back of our minds.

Now there is one nutrient which doesn't belong to any of the food groups which none of us can do without. Most life forms need to consume it in large quantities. I'm speaking about water. Without any one particular vitamin or mineral, we get sick, weak or fragile. Without water, we die after a few short, torturous days. Even koalas, whose name means "no drink" need the water which they get from the leaves they eat.

In the same way, we will die without the living water that is the Holy Spirit Himself. How fortunate we are that we do not have to drink this water. It is present inside us, welling up like a fountain. The only way for us to get thirst is if we stop up the fountain. How is that done? Consider that the Holy spirit is alive. I have lots of other living things inside me, from e-coli to eyelash cleaners. I can stop these organisms from doing their jobs by fighting against them. I do this by taking antibiotics- poisons which allow me to live but kill most anything living inside me. Those of you who are familiar with antibiotics know that the result is hellacious. without your symbiotes, you cannot absorb all the needed nutrients. Your body also tends to eject water in most uncomfortable ways. Eventually, your immune system becomes very weak and the antibiotic exacerbates the very sickness it was meant to cure.

It is the same way, spiritually. If I take in poisons, I won't kill the Spirit, but I will prevent Him from doing His job. By fighting against Him, I keep Him from helping me to absorb what I need from his word. While He is still alive inside and I am still alive outside, with me weakened and Him stopped up, I would quickly become unable to defend myself against an attack. And like antibiotics, those poisons can have a permanent effect. For example, when a man looks at pornography once, the images he sees are going to be in his mind for the rest of his life.

It is of vital importance, therefore, that we are very careful what we see, hear and feel. Even smell in some cases. And yes, even taste. You can ask me about that later. And if there are any sharks or platypi reading this sermon on the website, be careful where you point your electron radars.

My challenge to my Christian brothers is manifold. Do your best to get a balanced diet. Keep away from spiritual poison and as much as it is possible, enjoy your food.

To the unsaved- Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8a

Pastor Oren Otter
April 1, 2006

Today's reading
2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.