Our 25-year friendship ended in a hospital bed — after a double amputation. Her heart, they said, simply stopped beating.
Although she had ten years on me, Mary and I shared something in common that perplexed us daily — our rambunctious little boys. As a baby, hers would crawl around on the floor looking for cords to yank. The louder the lamp would crash the more it delighted him. Mine was a happy little guy that walked every edge he could find, and crossed every line I drew. To no one’s surprise, they also became instant friends.
After a long morning of shopping together, we sat down hoping to relax and enjoy a little quiet, a cup of coffee and some grown-up conversation. It didn’t happen. Instead, her four-year-old boy began to run in circles. Up over the chairs, across the couch rounding the coffee table and back again. Over and over, around and around he went, howling at the top of his lungs. This went on for what seemed like an hour. He couldn’t stop.
This was bad behavior, even for this kid. The year was 1981. If ADHD was invented then, we hadn’t heard of it. It was also long before it was popular to look anywhere other than a pyramid for nutrition. Mary traced his behavior back to a red Kool-Aid and a hot dog lunch and a sugar cookie for dessert.
Few people, at that time if any, were correlating behavior with diet in children. She didn’t look for an excuse for his behavior — she looked for a catalyst. Through trial and error this mother found what foods would transform her boisterous little boy into an uncontrollable little monster. The most obvious offenders were dyes, sugar and any processed foods.
What Mary knew so many years ago, is almost common knowledge among mothers today. What Mary didn’t know, what Jordan S. Rubin explains in his book The Maker’s Diet just might have saved her life.
I didn’t realize it, but apparently my son asked a theological question that divides Christians and Jews. Only fourteen at the time, and obviously contemplating the tempting life of a teenager looming before him, the boy asked,
“If there is no heaven, would being a Christian still be worth it?” He went on trying to clarify, “I mean, what if we’re all wrong? What if when we die there is no heaven? Would you be sorry that…”
“Sorry I didn’t have ‘fun’?” I interrupted.
“Well, yeah,” he said sheepishly.
To his surprise my answer was an emphatic “Yes.” I didn’t become a Christian for the gold star at the end of the day or a mansion in the clouds for that matter.
In this week’s reading of Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesusthe rabbi spends several chapters explaining why Jews can never accept Christ in the manner Christians do. He states that the differences between Christianity and Judaism could fill volumes. I get that, and have no interest in debating or highlighting our theological differences. Rather, it’s my intention to find common ground and promote our shared values.
Boteach cites a separation between the faiths,
“Christianity is extremely concerned with heaven and the afterlife. This urgency entails a list of things people can do to ensure that they receive the best rewards in the world to come. This is very different from Judaism, which focuses almost exclusively on proper behavior in this world.”
I see an opportunity for unity. It’s tempting to divide Christians and Jews along these lines. However, it is an unnecessary division. Here is where we can learn something from the Jewish side of the family.
Well folks its been fun.
This is the final installment of our 13 Weeks to Family Financial Freedom After a Crisis series. Although I can’t honestly say, after just 13 weeks of effort, we are now flying high; I can say we are not in a financial free fall. We are gliding to freedom on the wings of God’s grace–and frankly, the view has been both frightening and exhilarating.
In “5 Rules for Lifting Your Family Out of Economic Hardship” I rolled out my “13 weeks” goals: Track daily my progress on a Seinfeld calendar, write a new budget, assess our lifestyle, cut living expenses by 40 percent and increase our income by at least that much.
Tracking my daily progress on a calendar didn’t work out as planned. Turns out, my inconsistency is the most consistent thing about me. My failure could be attributed to my personality type or the fact that my stated goals for marking-off days needed to be more concrete (low-tech operator error). Did you do it? Yes is an X, no is a blank spot or a “broken chain.” Which is, of course, its original purpose.
It did serve as sort of an invisible timer constantly running in the background of my mind. The designated days combined with weekly progress posts certainly kept me focused. In that, I’m declaring it a success.
The new budget is still in flex, as 13 weeks is only three months of budgeting with an inconsistent and unreliable monthly income. However, it is in place and we are growing more comfortable living within its bounds. I found a combination of using the YNAB, and good old fashion pen and paper works the best for us. We already owned YNAB. I added the phone apps so my husband and I have equal access and responsibility in maintaining the budget.
The only downfall to using YNAB, is that it does not allow you to project income or plan for next month’s bills, that’s where pen and paper comes in handy.
Gone are the days of dining out regularly, recreational shopping and living comfortably under a mortgage. In assessing our lifestyle, I’ve realized the best safety net we can have is a mortgage free home.
In retrospect, the goal of cutting our cost of living by 40 percent is unattainable–expenses fluctuate and there’s no way to cut unexpected expenditures by any percentage. I held a misconceived presupposition that I could control living expenses. Control is almost always an illusion. A more accurate and obtainable goal– remove all unnecessary spending and reassess. Repeat as needed.
The real success of our 13 weeks together didn’t come in achieving my stated goals.
Instead, it was in the lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn.
Have you ever heard a child say “I can’t wait until I grow up so I can do whatever I want.”? You may have said it yourself or at least thought it.
What an irony. When you think about it, at no other time in our lives than childhood do we have more real freedom. Our days are spent in self-indulgence, playing, learning and growing into who we are meant to be. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to go.
Children tend to bristle under rules, testing their validity usually by breaking them to see if consequences will follow. Some of mine bucked up against them on a daily basis. In a child’s eyes, adults make the rules. Their narrow view of life makes incapable of understanding the multitude of laws adults abide everyday.
Since most traffic laws are color-coded, children catch on to what means stop and what means go fairly quick. When the rambunctious toddler doing the back-car seat driving squeals to “Go faster!” the sign along the side of the road or the police car you just passed, makes a good visual aid for explaining the law you are currently trying to follow.
However, not all laws are as visual or as well enforced. A society runs on a host of laws. There are moral laws, social and criminal laws. All must be followed, the extent to which they are written or enforced does not, in any way, negate the law.
The same goes for dietary laws. Our heavenly Father put them in place. I don’t believe they are meant for our salvation, but for our health and happiness. Much the same way we as parents place rules in our homes for our own children.
Being our human condition lends us with a natural bent toward rebellion, most of us would prefer to roll the dice on our health. Then when the consequences — such as pounds or a frightening diagnosis — we cling to the newest fad diet hoping it will serve as a get out of jail free card.
WWJD? became a
irritating wildly popular slogan that garnered untold millions in T-shirt and bracelet sales to teens. Supposedly, the idea was to remind someone to think about how they should act — like Jesus — in any given situation. As far as I can tell, its real success was only a grand slam for marketing.
Don’t get me wrong. If a kid’s going to be a walking billboard, then a Christian slogan is my first choice. However, I do have a real problem with bumper-sticker or T-shirt theology.
In this week’s reading of Kosher Jesus, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach not only puts forth his admiration for the courage of Jesus but also challenges Christians to look closely at what Jesus is actually saying.
What would Jesus really do?
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…” Luke 6:27-28
People that hate, curse, and mistreat are not the same as people that rape you in the street, throw acid in your face, or fly airplanes into your office building. Boteach points out that Jesus is not talking about everyone. Too often, this verse is used to portray Jesus as someone who just loves everyone. That he’s not willing to fight. That’s not the author’s impression of a man reaching for the mantle of a messiah.
But Jesus does not tell us to love God’s enemies. It is one thing to love an irritating colleague, a very different thing to love their murderous Ahmadinejad or Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the abominable head of Hezbollah. For Jesus to argue in favor of loving such a man, or any enemy of his people, would be immoral. He neither says nor means anything of the sort.
The author explains:
In Matthew “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…” Jesus was calling his men to arms. An armed insurrection against Rome was his battle cry, even if such armed struggle tore families and communities asunder. Evil has to be resisted.
While we can debate whether or not Jesus came purely for the redemption of souls, or if his disciples thought he came to free them only from Roman rule, in both events he had to hate and fight against evil.
Christmas came up at a church meeting this week. We were all sent home with a question to ponder:
“How can we as a church love and serve the people around us this Christmas, both inside our walls and out?”
When the idea of a toy drive came up, I immediately found myself immersed in conflicting emotions. Caught off guard by my own reaction, I had to go home and unpack some baggage I didn’t realized I carried.
If you’ve been following this series for the last 11 weeks, you know our family has lived a traditional, small town American lifestyle for most of our married life. My husband, Mike, and I have raised nine children mostly on one income. I say “mostly” because as a police officer in a small community, Mike often worked in more than one precinct so I could stay home.
We were used to making sacrifices for our chosen lifestyle–a large family, country life and one wage earner. Together we made it work and took pride in our calluses. Even through the Carter years, Mike never went without work until a pulmonary embolism knocked him down.
For the following two years, we depended on the grace and support of our church, friends and community as he recovered. That first Christmas, I suppose a similar meeting was held in another church. Someone must have brought up the local police officer living outside of town with his house full of children.
Unbeknownst to us, our names went on their list.
Just a few days before Christmas, a strange car pulled into the drive. A man and his wife came to the door carrying a large bulging garbage bag and a cardboard box. They dropped the bag on the floor and handed me the box with a cheerful “Merry Christmas” and went on their way.
The box was filled with a frozen turkey, a canned ham and various canned goods. In the bag we found a wrapped present for each child. The tag on the gift didn’t have a name on it– just an generic “Girl age 9″ or “Boy age 3.” I was so thankful. It’s been so long ago I don’t remember– but I probably cried.
We locked ourselves behind a closed door and unwrapped each gift. Determined who would like what, and then wrapped them again with his or her name on the tag. We all felt blessed beyond measure.
Then it all turned on me.
“You can always tell a first time mother,” she said, as we sat in the kitchen sipping our coffee. “They’re always jumping up, running after the baby, worried about every little thing she touches. By the time the third one comes along, she’s like, ‘Oh look, the baby’s licking a shoe–isn’t that cute?’”
A quick glance at my toddler revealed the source of my friend’s caffeinated blurt of wisdom–my eight-month old daughter, sitting quietly at my feet was teething on a sandal.
No, I didn’t give it to her; she slipped it off my foot without me noticing. And no I didn’t think it was cute, but I didn’t panic either.
She was right.
You might be tempted to say a mother of several children just gets lazier. I say, she gets wiser or she won’t survive.
It always seemed curious to me that children in small families, living in town with mothers that kept immaculate homes and doted over them– were constantly sick. I noticed these families because, well in some ways, I envied them.
Although I couldn’t stand the thought of raising a large family in a subdivision, raising kids in an old farmhouse was a lot of hard work.
Open windows welcomed the dust in from the fields, and a constant stream of little feet imported dirt and mud from every corner of the yard. It was hard enough to keep the house clean, but keeping it sterile was not an option.
Oh, and their favorite place to play? The barn. Followed closely by the large eight-by-eight foot sandbox under a magnolia tree. The boys built
treetop shanties tree houses and played army barefoot in minefields of manure the pasture.
In this week’s reading of Jordan S. Rubin’s The Maker’s Diet I found the reason my kids were seldom sick. To this day, even as adults– it takes a lot to knock them down. I used to think it was because I was such a good mother. Wrong. It was because God is such a good Father.
Rubin explains how science is just now discovering how the Creator designed our environment to keep us healthy. Which, it turn, also explains how we’ve messed up the process.
What are Judeo-Christian values? How can Jews and Christians learn from each other to strengthen one another’s faith? What are the obstacles that stand in the way? Rhonda Robinson explores these questions and more in her ongoing series on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus. Check out her previous installments in the series:
July 21: Jesus a Pharisee?
After over two thousand years of Christianity, the historical character of Jesus remains shrouded in mystery. Scholars, clergy, and lay-people have used many methods in an effort to unlock the secrets of Christianity’s founder.
– Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus
Perhaps the most famous mystery surrounding Jesus, as the risen Christ, is the shroud of Turin. Whether you accept its authenticity or believe it is a forgery, the controversy itself bears witness to the impact that Jesus of Nazareth still has on the world to this day.
As all good authors do, Boteach has loaded the bases to drive home his theory. But first, let’s underscore the few simple points we can agree upon. Jesus lived. Jesus was a devout Jew. He lived as a carpenter and a rabbi (a teacher). Jesus was crucified.
The answers to questions such as “Why did he die?” and “Who killed him?” should be what separate Judaism and Christianity in faith — not hatred. This, I believe, is the heart of what Boteach is trying to convey.
The bulk of the author’s work points to the Christian text (New Testament) revealing Jesus as a devoted Jew. Comparing his knowledge of Jewish laws and tradition with the life and words of Christ, leads the author to conclude that Jesus should be embraced as a beloved Jewish son. Followers of Christ should have no problem with this.
However, Boteach paints a picture of a bipolar Jesus by contrasting the scripture where Jesus called Jews “a pack of vipers” with his instructing the disciples not to go among the gentiles but rather go to the “lost sheep of Israel.”
“The two Jesuses– the anti- Semitic firebrand condemning Jews to hell, and the soft shepherd of Israel with no interest in proselytizing gentiles– are utterly irreconcilable. One is authentic, the other manufactured.”
I have a different theory.
This week, in our ongoing series of 13 Weeks to Family Financial Freedom After a Crisis, I was reminded of a lesson learned by watching my daughter and her young family as they made the hard transition into military life.
Soon after my son-in-law enlisted, he got stationed in Hawaii. Needless to say, they were elated. Undaunted at the prospect of leaving friends and family an ocean behind, they all flew off to paradise to live happily ever after.
It took several months, but something most unexpected happened. Gradually, they went from living in paradise to being stuck on an island.
What, you might ask, could you lack in a tropical paradise like Hawaii? After all, they’re living in a place most people can only dream of visiting. They had a good income and a nice home. Weekends were filled with family outings to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Every day, almost without fail, a rainbow appeared in the sky. What changed? What’s missing that was there before?
Simple contentment. For a brief time, they lost sight of that secret ingredient.
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
Discontentment will take a wonderful life and turn it sour. That’s not to say that military life is a piece of cake. Neither is raising young children separated from extended family–it’s hard. So are job losses, sickness and all the other trials that cause economic distress. But contentment is even more vital in those times.
In fact, faith and contentment are the key ingredients to happiness. Sound too simplistic? Well, if being content in all circumstances were easy, everyone would be doing it.
However, it can be done.
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate to cook? If I haven’t, I’d be really surprised. I say it often. In fact, I’ve said it so often, that at one point, my husband fired me from cooking for the family.
It’s true. Although he did do it nicely. He offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse. “You keep the kitchen clean” he said, and then promised, “I’ll do all the cooking.” What fool wouldn’t jump on that? Especially since, at the time, we had four young children and I owned and ran a small business.
Mistakenly, I took his offer as a sign of his love and appreciation. When I excitedly thanked him with a kiss on the cheek, the truth fell out: “I’m just tired of the [expletive] you’ve been feeding us.”
He was right — it was bad. My motto at the time, “If I can’t nuke it, or pick it up in a hit-an-run, we don’t eat it.” When asked, what do you want for dinner? My children would call out names of their favorite restaurants rather than actual food.
His cooking and my cleaning arrangement only lasted until I closed my business to take care of our growing family full time. Once back on my own, and without the means or excuses for eating out all the time, I began complaining again — this time to the neighbor.
She didn’t offer me the same deal.
However, she did make me her pet project. Her new goal in life: Teach me to cook and love it. She only partially succeeded. Much to my family’s delight, she taught me how to cook venison, make homemade pizza and twice baked potatoes. But most of all, she showed me the happy faces of my children around a dinner table.
After expressing my sentiments on cooking to a recent houseguest, she looked at me in total disbelief. In fact, if she wasn’t such a lady, she might have called me a liar.
She may be right, and I just really didn’t notice the change. Preparing food for my family has taken on a completely different meaning now. It has become a life saving medicine for my husband, and a new way for me to see God’s provisional hand in every area of our lives. Taking extra pains to be sure we have meals that are as rich in nutrients as they are in flavor has become a small pleasure.
In this week’s reading of Jordan S. Rubin’s The Maker’s Diet I realized why what we eat, and eating together, actually brought joy to a drudgery I hated. The author has a scientific explanation:
We all have a “second brain” in our gut that controls more than we think.
“Anti-Semitism always takes on the idiom of its day, and the forms of its day. And while before, there was a center-peripheral relationship for anti-Semitism. It even had an address for a long time, which was the Vatican. It was centered in Christian Europe and spread outward.
Now it is all over the world, flows go in every direction– there is really not a place it can’t be found. This is also due in part to digital technology…there is something today, which has never existed before. Not only in regards to anti-Semitism but with other prejudice, which is an anti-Semitic international alliance.
You have an alliance of many, many countries around the world who actually have a foreign policy to promote anti-Semitism, promote anti-Semitism at home and promote anti-Semitism abroad, but an anti-Semitic alliance against Israel primarily but also against Jews in general. This has never existed for anti-Semitism or any other kinds of prejudice.”[Emphasis mine]
– Daniel Goldhagen author The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism Interview with Sara Ivry, Vox Tablet hat-tip Prof. lw
In the first half of his book Kosher Jesus Rabbi Boteach went to great lengths explaining his belief that Christ should be embraced as a beloved Jewish son- an honored sage that died a martyr for his people. This view should not change the way Christians see Christ, only cast him in a light that provides more detail to the man we love and the God we serve.
However, as we delve deeper into his work, the author’s premise becomes glaringly obvious: Jesus, along with Christianity in its infancy, was ripped from the arms of Judaism then nursed at the breast of a graven Roman image.
According to Boteach, in an effort to placate Rome, the early Christian Church fathers rendered Jesus as little more than a white hooded, vitriol-spewing enemy of Judaism — a deity that would wear a swastika on his arm.
That explains a lot. But it also begs questions that must be answered.
It’s already week 10 in our 13 weeks series of financial recovery. This week revealed a side of me that I would prefer to keep covered — my financial underbelly. I got a good look and it’s not pretty. It is solid yellow.
I’ve never really thought of myself as a coward until now. In my first installment, “5 Rules for Lifting Your Family Out of Economic Hardship,” I explained that several years ago, we experienced our first real financial setback. A pulmonary embolism ended my husband’s career in law enforcement. Apparently those two years without income left some emotional scars that went deeper than I realized.
Last week I wrote “Financial Miracles or Happenstance? You Decide,” about the unseen hand that has held us in a firm grip of grace and provision. It’s good to remember the miracles in our lives, an exercise I try to do daily. It reminds me that our Heavenly Father really does care for our needs. However, I’m old enough to know, He cares more about my character and the state of my spiritual health than my bank account.
He also tends to reveal the parts of us that need transformation, as He did this week.
Instead of facing truth head on and setting up my budget before the first dime was spent, as I know to do — instead I hid behind an illusion of a “big pot” of money.
Let me explain.
Nothing gave me a better glimpse of the Father’s love for me than looking into the face of my newborn. Only then did I understand what it meant to love someone else more than myself.
The first time my boy got sick it broke my heart. Lying in my arms his limp little body radiated heat. His eyes seemed glazed over with a sheet of pink glass. I thought to myself, “I wish it were me and not him.” At that moment, I realized I would gladly give my life for his. Almost instantly, I understood why God described Himself to us as our Father, and why Christ would die for us — unconditional love.
Then came the toddler years. Although my love never changed, how I expressed it sure did. I made rules. Most of the time, he really couldn’t understand why I said no. That’s perfectly fine with me. I didn’t need him to understand that the big brown “boat” swirling in the water was not put there for him to play with. He’ll get it later when he discovers the meaning of gross, and eventually he’ll understand the concept of germs. Until then, I just expected obedience.
He’s 35 now. It’s not an issue. Although he’s never thanked me, I’m pretty sure he’s glad I never let him splash in the toilet, or eat everything he found on the floor.
In The Maker’s Diet the author Jordan S.Rubin, makes a strong case that the dietary laws given to God’s chosen people, is His hand of protection. Apparently God knew that with enough barbecue sauce we would happily lick a toilet.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
CS Lewis Mere Christianity
In Kosher Jesus, Rabbi Boteach agrees with Lewis. At least in part: Anyone claiming to be God, would have been considered a lunatic. However, by claiming to be the Messiah, Boteach explains, Jesus was making a political statement more than a religious one.
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?”
I sniffed a few times, considering this.
“Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie…”
A friend told me of this quote from Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, years ago. The truth of it has impacted my faith ever since.
To put the quote into context, Corrie is crying because she’s afraid her father will die. This is a terrible thought for any child, however, it’s hard to imagine how much greater that fear would be when the danger of war is all around.
When we lost our son five years ago, people would often say to us that there is nothing like losing a child. That is the most tragic death to experience. It certainly was, and still is, the hardest for us.
While talking with a widower not long ago, he shared with us that he and his wife were married for almost 50 years. It had only been a year since he lost her. He still wore the pain on his face.
“They tell me losing a spouse is the hardest loss you can experience,” he said, “even harder than losing a child.” My husband and I stole a glance at each other and flashed a knowing half-smile. Then we both quietly nodded in agreement with the gentleman. His eyes dropped to the floor and a quiet pause fell over the conversation.
The loss each of us experience, whether it be a death in the family, joblessness, a marriage, or even losing a home can’t be measured by anyone else’s loss or pain. If it’s the hardest crisis you have ever experienced, it is the worst thing in your life to have happen.
It’s a given that we must take responsibility for our own lives. However, there are times when you work hard to do all that you know is right, and life spins out of your hands. Knowing there’s nothing more within your power you can physically do is even more devastating.
In week nine of our 13 weeks series of Lifting Your Family Out of Economic Hardship, I’m reminded of the times that the heavenly Father did come through with the ticket in the last hour.
One of the nice things about getting older is that you begin to understand, and learn to appreciate, the fact that you’re not alone. Your health crisis, while a tragedy, is still only unique to you. That is comforting and extremely empowering. Especially when it comes to taking control of our health and healing. We can learn from each other’s hard-won knowledge.
When Mike’s health deteriorated, and our medical options ran out, we turned to a “radical” nutritionist. We based our decision to go the nutritional route on this simple premise: God created us and He wants us healthy and whole. He also created the food we eat, to give our bodies what it needs to heal itself. We’ve dubbed our journey back to health and its new lifestyle as “Kosher-Christian.” You can read more about our story here.
It’s Jordan Rubin’s story that has captured my interest today. Although his is quite different than ours, the essence is the same. When medical options failed, he found a nutritionist that believed the Creator has already given us the resources for healing. His health was restored, better than before and he found a new life and purpose.
But that’s where our similarities end. You could almost say our situations stand at opposite ends of the spectrum. At the young age of 19, Rubin went from a strong healthy college student, to a fragile patient with Crohn’s disease. Over the course of two years, he traveled oceans and saw seventy doctors in search for help. He tried everything that offered even a sliver of hope. Nothing helped. Not until he met a nutritionist, who told bluntly why he was sick. He was not eating “the diet of the Bible.”
Rubin dubbed his journey back to health The Maker’s Diet. The New York Times bestseller encompasses a complete lifestyle change.
After two years of suffering, his turnaround came in the first 40 days. If you need encouragement, and want to borrow someone else’s faith for your own journey back to health, I found a good place for you to start.
Take a peek at Jordan Rubin’s “after” picture.
We are all grown-ups here. We understand there is no Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or truth in Hollywood. Nonetheless, the Pontius Pilate film rumored last winter to star Brad Pitt is a fine example of how even to this day Pilate’s role in Jesus’ death is whitewashed.
This script follows the evolution of Lucius Pontius Pilate from the sensitive son of a Roman Knight into a ferocious soldier whose warrior exploits make him a general and puts him on a political track under the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Promised a military governorship in Egypt, Pilate is instead assigned by Tiberius to become the prefect of Judea, at a time when Jerusalem was a cauldron of religious tensions between various factions of the Jewish faith. Pilate veers from the political fast track into the express lane to hell and historical infamy. Rather than a straight ahead Biblical film, Blasi’s script reads almost like a Biblical era Twilight Zone episode in which a proud, capable Roman soldier gets in way over his head. His arrogance and inability to grasp the devoutness of the citizenry and its hatred for the Roman occupiers and their pagan gods leads him to make catastrophic decisions. All of this puts him in a desperate situation and in need of public approval when he is asked to decide the fate of a 33-year old rabbi accused by religious elders of claiming he is King of the Jews.
This week’s reading in Boteach’s Kosher Jesus claims that throughout history to present, Pilate has been wrongly portrayed as nothing more than a benevolent pawn easily persuaded by those he’s conquered, washing his hands in innocence, and leaving the real cruelty to the Jews. But does this view of Pontius Pilate hold true by what we know of history?
Boteach says no. There’s more to the story.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” Luke 16:10
Have you ever had an epiphany?
Are all epiphanies so simple you wonder why you could’t see it before? That’s the way mine was. It went something like this: You know how your bank account seems to leak? Just $20.00 here, and $35.00 there, and the next thing you know a hundred dollars has vanished?
Well, if that’s true, then it has to work both ways. Just $20.00 here and $35.00 there, and the next thing you know a hundred dollars has accumulated. Genius — I know.
Ok, so one man’s epiphany is another man’s “Well duh.”
The bottom line is that the little things really do matter. The old adage “Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves” kept coming to mind this week. Although I plugged most of the holes, at least one of my money saving strategies backfired and it cost more rather than saved.
Here’s what happened and how I fixed it.
Real change in life is hard. In fact, it’s so hard it seldom happens without a major paradigm shift.
Life changing events can range from a death in the family to a health crisis to a job loss. However, too often, we don’t realize that we do have some say in how our circumstances change us.
We can’t stop tragedy. What we can do is use the force of it to generate the power needed to alter our circumstances for the better. There are some things that are so entrenched in our lives that it takes the energy of a crisis to give us the strength to correct it.
Health issues easily fall into that category. For example, a treadmill doesn’t look so much like an instrument of torture after a heart attack scare.
The good news is that we don’t have to wait for a crisis to change our lives. As human beings we hold the unique power to shape our future. We alone have the ability to envision a life beyond our current reality.
What’s even more amazing– we can create that vision.
Pick an area of your life you want to change. Is it your health? What about your career? Or your relationship with your spouse or children. All of these seemingly fixed areas of life are subject to change at any given moment.
Why not be your own catalyst for change?
In my recent post “How These 3 Simple Principles of a Judeo-Christian Diet Saved My Family” I wrote of our journey back to health, a complete lifestyle shift we’ve dubbed Kosher-Christian.
How ironic is it that the very key to my husband’s recovery is the food he eats, or more accurately, my cooking? Have I told you that I’ve always hated cooking? Now everything’s changed from his health to my cooking. And honestly, I’m loving it.
Soon after he was sentenced to a “skilled, nursing facility” I made an appointment with the dietician. I explained to her that we had come to the belief that nutrition, on a cellular level, was our only ticket to recovery. She agreed. However, in the first week on their “portion control” diet for diabetics, he was constantly hungry. As bad as that was, nothing compared to the moment he got on the scale and discovered he actually gained weight.
That’s when we took matters into our own hands and hired a professional nutritionist. We gave the facility the responsibility of only serving him breakfast (our menu) then my daughter made his lunch and took it to him, and I took his dinner.
Together we followed and created recipes for a low glycemic, anti-inflammatory organic diet, rich with super foods — and chocolate.
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” — Adolf Hitler
Nothing thus far in Rabbi Boteach’s Kosher Jesus has disturbed me so deeply as did this week’s reading. Not because we differed, I expected that. What has grieved me to the core is the truth about the lies.
In John 8:44 Jesus says,
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
In this passage, Jesus was talking to Jews. But more precisely, he was speaking directly to individuals — not a nation. He called out a small group of men in a crowd for their murderous thoughts and intent. He was judging their hearts.
The “father of lies” has twisted Jesus’ words in the minds of religious leaders, which in turn warped their theology. Boteach quotes both respected Catholics and Protestants that, through the ages, have spewed and perpetuated the lie that the Jews murdered Jesus.
Impossible I say.
At the risk of sounding like I’m channeling George Carlin, this week I’ve thought a lot about grocery shopping.
Have you ever thought about just how phenomenal grocery shopping in America really is? We walk into a large (and climate-controlled) building and push huge metal baskets on wheels down aisle after aisle lined with food. We can even fill that basket with produce that’s in season and out of season, from countries all around the world.
Not so long ago, grocery shopping for me meant pushing one overflowing shopping cart while dragging another behind. Then I would hit the local Sam’s Club and buy what would be, for most people, a lifetime supply of peanut butter and several restaurant-size cans of tomato sauce, not to mention the industrial-size package of toilet paper. I would repeat the process just two weeks later.
I prided myself on the fact that I could feed ten of us on less money than did the average hypothetical American family with only 2.6 children. When you throw in the homeschooling factor, you realize I made three meals a day plus snacks because my children were home all day — eating.
Feeding everyone well, for as little as possible, was my primary goal. Nutrition (and saving money) meant cooking mostly from scratch. However, things have changed — our family has changed.
Now nutrition not only means cooking from scratch, but, due to my husband’s health, it also means gluten-free, MSG-free, and primarily organic.
Pondering the fact that we do live in abundance, that we have access to all the healing herbs and nutrient-dense foods from around the world, makes me so thankful for God’s blessings. However, I’m also keenly aware of how expensive it is.
So the challenge this week is to maintain a high standard of nutrition, while slashing our grocery budget by $250.00 a month.
Here’s the plan…
We’ve all seen the charlatans, from snake oil salesmen to traveling “preachers” pulling actors out of wheelchairs. They pepper history with shameless fraud, preying on the frail and the weak– those with no hope.
When Jesus walked the earth, he performed miracles. He calmed the seas, cast out demons, and fed multitudes. An impostor performs to be rewarded; Christ healed to demonstrate love.
Physical healing is extremely personal. That is to say, the true impact of healing is only felt by one person– the one who is healed. The exception is those who are forced to watch someone they love suffer or die. Then the healing is parallel, as the physical pain is healed for one and the emotional pain or grief is turned to joy in the other. Therefore both are healed of their suffering.
I know the searing pain of grief. The depth of that sorrow is directly proportionate to the love held. Grief is the bloody hand that rips love from the lining of your soul and turns it inside out. I can only begin to imagine the depth of joy the parents of the dead girl must have felt, after watching their precious child suffer and die, when Jesus told them she was not dead — just asleep.
How could you keep that a secret? How could you not tell someone? If this is true, how is it not proof that He was sent from God?
As I continue to read Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus, I’m struck at how the author acknowledges Jesus’ miracles as truth.
Life is like a three-ring circus.
Well, at least mine is. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just part of living a full life. This week, in the center ring we had a new grandson born. All eyes were fixed upon his beautiful little face. We marveled at the goodness of God. Like any grandmother would do, I traveled across a couple states just to kiss his cheek and give him my personal welcome. The front ring filled with anticipation and excitement as the new school year began for our last child at home. She’s inching closer to the high school finish line. Then there’s the ring in the back, behind us, where the light is dim and hidden from everyone’s view — it stood empty with only shadows of a 19th birthday party that would have been.
Over it all we walk the tightrope of a precarious financial state. We are attempting to balance health needs, an ever-tightening budget, and current obligations, all without dropping off that red line into the abyss of default.
I stumbled a little this week, but I didn’t fall. What I did do is learn a valuable lesson and make a firm new resolution. There will be no safety nets. A “safety net” is a false sense of security.
Allow me to explain.