Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Empty Pickle Jar

I love pickles, including the brand shown here, but here in Colorado we get a local brand that is incredible. I will only reveal the names of both pickle brands if the manufacturers donate generously to the WACIRF*. Regardless, I love pickles and if you do too, you can play along at home. Otherwise you're going to have to come up with your own metaphor.

What do you do with your pickle jar when the pickles are gone? if you're like most modern Americans you either toss the jar away or you dump the "pickle juice" out and recycle the jar. Either way you do it, you're wasting a Valuable Culinary Resource. 

When the pickles are gone you have a half of a jar of "Pickle Juice". Think of the things in that liquid: kosher salt, vinegar, dill, garlic, onion, pepper... all potent flavorful ingredients, it's a sin to waste them. My mom was a child of the depression, she and my aunts and uncles were raised by my widower grandfather to believe one important truth: "do not throw good away". Mom always had a jar of pickle juice in the fridge and would get upset if you threw that away. To me a tuna salad sandwich is not worth eating if there wasn't a splash of pickle juice in the mixture. A great salad dressing is simply mayo or Miracle Whip thinned out with pickle juice. And on french fries it's incredible! (not those whimpy fast food fries,steak fries or the big crinkle cut things) 

Feeling adventurous? Slice up a cucumber and put it in the left over pickle juice, and put the jar in the back of the fridge for a few weeks. Surprise - you just made pickles.

On to metaphorical territory**: This jar of pickles is the Bible, it contains the word of God. As you eat the pickles; study the bible, learn the lesson in church, you are enjoying his word. Each bite delicious and refreshing and satisfying. And when you finish 'eating' you still have that wonderful juice that you can use to flavor what ever you do. Look at Chick-fil-A, they use that left over juice to flavor their interaction with customers; "Yes ma'am", "Yes sir", genuine smiles, polite conversation, fast service, clean appearance. They aren't preaching the gospel with words but with actions.

In my town here on the edge of the Colorado prairie (I think I'll call it West Woebegone) there is a McDonalds, Chick fil-A, Taco Bell, and Arbys all in a row, and any night of the week except Sunday you can drive right up to the drive-thru microphone and order your Big Mac or Chalupa box or Beef n' Cheddar without a wait, but if you want a chicken sandwich and waffle fries, you're going to wait. The lines to get in to Chic-fil-A go around the block every night Monday through Saturday without fail while there are no lines at any other store.

The lines around the block show that people want the Christian values that are displayed at Chick fil-A. Other than the lemonade the food is not that incredibly better than any other drive through, and the prices are in the same ball park, it's the way you are treated there. Not all employees are Christian, but all must be polite and respectful and that's one thing we strive for in our Christian walk. That's the flavorful juice.

Today's lesson was on Acts 23:1-15 the local centurion wanted to know what the hubbub was all about so he demanded the Council to assemble and brought Paul to them. Paul "looked at them intently" and said
“Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”
That is the juice, but sometimes people don't like to hear it***. Ananias took exception to this and told someone to punch Paul in the mouth, probably because Paul's preaching on the previous day caused a riot. The text doesn't say if Paul was hit or not, but I'm going to guess he was because his next statement was:
“God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?”
A "whitewashed wall" is a very biblical insult. I don't know enough about the age to tell if the Jews just didn't like painted walls but Ezekiel 13:10-16 tells us that liars and cheats use whitewash to hide flaws in a weak wall and in Matthew 23:27 Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees "white washed tombs". Tombs were whitewashed to make them visible because stepping on one causes ceremonial uncleanliness, and it made them look good on the outside but inside was decay and rot. Paul is told that this was Ananias the High Priest, and Paul said:
“I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
This is directly from Exodus 22:28 and something he would later expand upon in Romans 13:1-3. This wasn't an apology, but I suppose it was taken as one because no one called him out. This is the 'juice' because it was respectful. Then he said it:
“Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!”

That did it. That was like tossing a skunk into the meeting hall. It was like wearing a MAGA hat in Boulder Colorado (AKA Berkeley East). The fight was on! Pharisees who believed in resurrection and the Sadducees who didn't tore into each other with a vengeance. This too is 'the juice'. Sometimes the Gospel is not going to make everyone happy, but it needs to be shared.

(Personally I think Paul started this riot as part of an elaborate escape plan where he would slink away during the confusion, unfortunately he bumped into a Roman Centurion)

A couple of years ago I had a visit from the local Mormon recruitment society. Two lads in white long sleeve shirts, black ties, and black slacks showed up to my door with a few books. They asked me if I believe in the bible, I told them that I believe that the bible is the inerrant word of God. We talked a little bit more about bible versions, they mentioned that the KJV is the best version out there, I replied that it is linguistically beautiful, but I do not speak 17th century English so for me the very accurate NASB is more readable.

The younger of the two asked me if I believed in prophesy. I of course said "Yes, as long as it is true biblical prophesy and not false prophesy" and went on to explain how to identify false prophesy. The conversation engaged the younger recruiter, but angered the senior of the two because what I was attempting to do was wake the younger one up, to look at the writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young with the true word of God foremost in mind.

I could have just slammed the door in their faces (and my door slams good), I could have loudly and truly denounced Joseph Smith as a lying womanizer. Neither option would have done anyone any good. Either one would have left me angry, and would have reinforced their beliefs in their false prophets. But planting the seed - maybe one, or both, sat down and compared the Word of Smith with the Word of God.

That's the juice!


*Wide Awake Christian Involuntary Retirement Fund
** What is a metaphor? A Metaphor is like a simile... (for you non English majors, that was a joke)
***I know it's incorrect grammar to end a sentence with a preposition, but sometimes you just have to (for you non English majors, that was another joke)