Friday, February 19, 2010

Lessons from a loaf of bread

I love to bake!  I think I pretty much always have.  My favorite things to bake has almost always been sweets: cookies, brownies, cakes, pies - anything sweet.  In an effort towards a more healthy lifestyle, we have been doing more baking of breads and bread products (bagels, pitas, rolls, buns, you name it!)  We have been using whole grain wheat and grinding it at home for over a month now, and have enjoyed the extra flavor of good homemade bread, and the knowledge that our bread was better for us.  This past week, we saw mention of the dangers of whole wheat flour - and an investigation has followed.  Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are present in whole grains and many suggest soaking grains to convert the phytic acid and neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.

After looking into various facts and points of view, we have decided that phytic acid is not a dangerous substance for most diets, and enzyme inhibitors are not dangerous when fresh fruits and vegetables are part of the diet.  At this point, you're probably wondering what my point is, this blog is not usually about baking.

In our investigation, we stumbled onto sourdough bread - a fermented starter that neutralizes phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, and food spoilage bacteria.  And the bacteria that causes the rising in the bread, even though killed in the baking process, gives added flavor and nutrients to the bread.  So for the last several days, we have had sourdough starter (named 'Fred') sitting on our counter.  Fred is a hearty guy, but fred needs something on a regular basis.  Fred needs to be fed.  Fred is healthy; his bacteria fight off food spoilage, kill of non-beneficial bacteria, and cause my bread to rise properly when preparing for baking.  Fred takes carbohydrates and gives off tiny CO2 bubbles that make light and fluffy loaves.  But in order to do that, Fred needs food - good food.  So every 12 hours on the counter (2-3 days in the fridge), I need to add more flour and water to Fred to keep him growing and protected.

Fred struck me this morning as a picture of our spiritual lives.  With proper feeding and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we grow healthily to fight off the attacks of sinful influences and spoilage that comes from wrong thoughts and actions.  With proper feeding, growth is evidenced in out lives and spreads easily to infect all areas of our lives.  But without proper feeding, just like Fred, we would cease to grow, and not have the strength to fight off unwanted influences and the spoilage that comes from them.

Fred likes to be fed twice a day, when is your next feeding?

"As newborn babes, 
desire the sincere milk of the word, 
that ye may grow thereby:
If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." 
- I Peter 2:2-3

Friday, February 12, 2010


It's always interesting to hear how some people talk about 'sheltered' kids in a way that makes it clear their disgust for the parents who shelter, and sympathy for the poor children being sheltered.  I suppose, at one time or another, I have made comments about someone living a sheltered life - because they didn't know what a tuna melt was, or was unaware of some piece of pop culture that I was familiar with.  Yet, everyone could be considered sheltered in that respect.  No one knows everything or has experienced every experience.  So the question is, what things should we experience?

If experience is your god - that is, if your list of experiences and knowledge is what is important to you, then any sheltering might seem to be bad, but is it?  Would such a person want to experience exposure to a desert climate with no water, or an arctic environment without proper protection?  Even for such a person, there is a limit to what they desire to experience.  Not many people would want to experience that which would harm or destroy them.

We have always sheltered my children.  We do not allow them to play in the street, we always attach them to their car seats, we keep the poisonous chemicals out of reach, and we have trained ourselves to avoid 'bad' words in our speech (stupid, dumb, idiot - in favor of biblical words like foolish and sinful).  Recently, we have stepped up our efforts in the sheltering area.

To some, it may seem like we are already overboard.  To others, they may wonder what took so long.  At any rate, we have seen that sheltering does not just apply to our children - it applies to our lives as well.  What message does it send to tell a child that "This is a show for mommy and daddy?"  It tells them that sinful words and behaviors are OK to watch when you are more mature.  Wouldn't it be better to show my children that sinful behaviors and words are less tolerable to a spiritually mature believer?  A healthy man who eats right and exercises cannot ingest poison without consequence 'better' than an out of shape couch potato.

For the last several years, I have enjoyed NASCAR races, and even real sporting events like football from time to time.  All  the time trying to tell my children that I find it unacceptable that their jobs require them to work on Sunday.  My children would 'play' sports and talk about sports as something they could do when they grow up.  Could a football player take a stand and not play in the Superbowl because it was on Sunday?  Would coaches agree to take on a player that would only play games that didn't fall on Sunday?  The long and short (mostly long) of it is that we have disconnected the antenna from our TV.  Even our favorite viewing of PBS is training our children to be entertained.  As I look at my goals for my children, I want them to be creative, to serve others, but most importantly, to put God first in their lives.  As I look at my goals for myself as a parent, I want to be a parent that spends time with my children, and interacts with them rather than entertains them.

So, we are simplifying.  But simplifying is not simple.  As you think of us (whether you agree or not), please pray that we would be diligent in seeking the best for our family and our children.  And if you want us to pray specifically for you, leave a comment and we'll be in prayer for you.  I'm looking up because my future is bright!

"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Revelation 21:23