How do the Faithful Pack a Lunch?

For many years, I made lunches for our daughter, Shannon, to take to school.  As a vegetarian, she sometimes had few options provided in the school cafeteria, and packing her lunches was a good way to make sure she had something she would eat.

Shannon graduated from high school in 2012, and by that time, I had added lunches for Jack to my daily routine.  For each, I made sure that the lunch contained a healthy balance of items:  one main item (like a sandwich or wrap), a veggie, a piece of fruit, chips and a treat.

lunch

Some might question if that is, in fact, a healthy balance; I say yes, given some of the alternative choices we face.  As a junk food junkie myself, I know the temptation to select the quick and the easy.  I don’t want that for my kids (we’ll talk about me another time), so I’m happy to pack the lunch each morning.

For whatever reason, this morning got me thinking about each of the items in the lunch, and how living a faithful life also requires us to select from certain ‘food groups’ every day (or at least every week).  Let’s take a look at the lunch items and see if we can determine an equivalent for leading a faithful life:

  1. The Sandwich:  being the main portion of the lunch, this item keeps us filled and fueled until the next meal.  What’s a sandwich in our spiritual lives?  I’d suggest that worship fills this role.  Once a week, we come together with others to hear a message, learn more about God and our relationship with God – to praise and to proclaim that which we know is good.  With lunch, some choose turkey over pastrami; some choose a veggie wrap over chicken tortilla wraps.  With worship, some people choose traditional, some like modern or contemporary.  Some prefer live streaming, some come in person.  Whatever the choice, the meaningful service hold us over until the next week; but alone, it’s not enough.  What else do we need?
  2. The Vegetable.  Yes, I know.  Many of us would not choose to include a vegetable for our lunch.  Yet, each day, I make sure I put carrots, or green peppers or cucumbers in Jack’s lunch sack.  Vegetables are those lunch items that need a little more chewing; they are often crunchy, needing more time to digest than some food items.  The equivalent in our spiritual lives, I think, is bible study.  No, not because the Words is hard to digest;  when we read and strive to understand the Word, we are pondering and listening, and learning.  Reading the Word, and understanding it, takes time – just like eating the crunchy vegetables sometimes takes time.
  3. The Fruit.   You’re waiting for me to make some kind of lame connection to the apple, aren’t you?  Instead, I’m going to point you to Galatians 5:22-23:  “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Packing a piece of fruit in our lunch reminds us that there are ‘fruits’ we gain from living a faithful life.
  4. The Chips.  Let me be the first to say, this is a hard one for me.  I often go overboard on chips.  But adding chips to the meal brings a variety, and adds a bit of tasty salt to the mix.  Wait – you ask – isn’t salt bad for you?   Yes, it can be, but not the way Matthew uses it in The Message, MT 5:13.  In that verse, Jesus says, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?”  Using salt – and chips – sparingly when we pack our lunch, that’s the key.  We add chips and salt to flavor the rest of the meal – the worship, the bible study, the fruits of the Spirit.
  5. And finally, the Treat.  This morning, I packed the Boy Scout Trail’s End brand of chocolate covered popcorn.  Soon, I’ll switch to Girl Scout cookies.  Often, I pack graham crackers and nutella spread.  The lunch just isn’t complete without that last item.  In comparison, I don’t think a life of faith is complete without relationships with other people.  We read in Genesis 1:18 “It is not good that the man shall be alone.”  And so God created humanity, and gave Adam a partner to share life, and it was only after God created humanity that it is written “and it was very good.”

That treat in the lunch is not meant to be eaten alone; when we live a life of faith, we want to share the joys of that life with others.  We share by faith and by actions – loving others, serving others, loving God, serving God.

That’s what I call balancing a faithful life.  And I think about it every morning, when I pack Jack’s lunch.

What’s Your Station?

I have a short commute to my office.  That usually doesn’t sit well with those who endure traffic, sometimes for hours, each day.  But it’s true – generally, I’m in my car less than an hour a day.

Whether the commute is long or short, we might share a common dilemma:  What shall I listen to on my drive to work?  How will I listen to it – on radio, by smartphone, or CD?

When it comes to car music, I’m old fashioned.  I like radio.  My first car was a Ford Mustang (brown, with a hatchback to carry the bass guitar and amplifier) – the buttons were hard to push, and I programmed mostly Southern Rock, 80’s pop music and classic rock on the stations.

old car radio

Time passes, and cars change.  Today, I drive a Subaru Outback (grey, still with hatchback for the boy’s equipment for numerous activities).  And the radio in the Subaru has a more technological feel to it:

new car radio

But I noticed the other day – we still have those buttons, numbered 1-6, to store our favorites, the old standby stations that we can access instantly, depending on our mood or circumstances.  Yes, automakers have expanded the number of stations that can be stored, creating FM1, FM2 and even FM3.  I’m content with just the AM and FM, though.  Too much decision when I am behind the wheel of the car leads to distraction; and distraction leads to veering; and veering leads to – well, you get the picture.  That Subaru has a few dings in it.

I was changing the stations the other day, and for some reason, I imagined that each selection was a book of the Bible.  I pulled over safely, wrote down my thought, and gently eased back into traffic, knowing that I would one day finish that thought.

The question is:  If certain radio stations bring a certain comfort, are there books of the Bible that bring the same feeling?  I say yes.  So I want to ask you:  What’s Your Station?  Here are the top six I find myself pulled to at any time (in order of the settings on my car radio).

  1. Christian Radio.  Now, I’d like to say that I select this every time I get behind the wheel; alas, I do not.  I’d like to say instinct calls me to play this one in every car ride.  Again, no.  But for those times when I really need to hear the Gospel; whether I am feeling upbeat and thankful, or whether I am anxious and concerned, I choose button #1.  Once I do, I almost always feel like I have just left a Sunday morning worship service, and my heart is lifted.  Button #1 Bible twin:  The Gospel Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Acts.
  2. 92.5FM:  Lone Star Classic Rock.   lonestar925                   You know the tunes here – classics from Boston, Kansas, Styx, BOC, The Who, Skynyrd, and the ever-present Beatles.  These are the old standby’s – the ones I love to go to – at any time.  This is the music we taught (and continue to teach) to Shannon and Jack.  Kind of like the traditional Bible Stories.  They are comforting; they remind me of a foundation that was laid years ago; and I know all the words.  Button #2 Bible Twin: The Bible Stories I Learned when Growing Up.  The Classics.
  3. 99.5 The Wolf/Country Radio. 995 the wolf                                                I listened to quite a bit of country music in college and post graduation.  And I still do, occasionally.  There are all kinds of lists on the web that tell us why we should listen to country music, and most of them include ‘it’s relatable’ as a reason. There are country songs for every emotion:  happy, sad, angry, disappointed, anxious, or jubilant.   So, too, is the Book of Psalms.  150 Psalms, written by at least 7 authors over a period of at least 900 years (and here you thought David wrote all of them…..no more than Willie Nelson wrote every country song!).  In the Psalms, we find the ‘relatable’ context in the Bible – if you feel it, there is a Psalm for it.  Really.  Button #3 Bible Twin: the Psalms.
  4. 1080 AM – News Radio/Traffic and Weather on the 8’s.  krldThis isn’t ‘talk news’ radio – not the dial in, discussion type.  This is 15 minute chunk of what’s going on in the day.  Short little previews, with regular weather and traffic updates to keep me on the right track.  Bible twin?  Proverbs, of course:

    The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

    for gaining wisdom and instruction;
        for understanding words of insight;
    for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
        doing what is right and just and fair;
    for giving prudence to those who are simple,[a]
        knowledge and discretion to the young—

    Think of this as a “Things my Dad taught me” book.  While we traditionally attribute this book to the wisdom of Solomon, it’s likely that his sages, counselors and other persons actually did the writing.  Even so, Proverbs gives us wonderful direction and caution signs, much like the News and Weather station.  Read a few – you’ll see what I mean! (Don’t take Central Expressway – use an alternate route)  Button #4 Bible Twin:  Proverbs.

    5.  105.3 The Fan/Sports Talk Radio.  1053 the fan      You had to know I’d end up here at some point.  Let me be clear:  Sports is not a religion – there is no transformation, no redemption.  We can get into that discussion later.  As this relates to Bible, though, we find Paul’s letters surrounding us with imagery of athleticism:  2 Tim 2:5 (competition); Phil 3:14 (push to the prize); 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (athletes running the race); 2 Tim 4 (fought the good fight, run the race).  I’m certainly not going to say that when I listen to my FanFave @BenRogers and @SkinWade  ben&skin, I pull over and start reading the letters of Paul.  But I find it interesting just how many times I hear something on 105.3 that reminds me of Paul’s imagery of athletes finishing the race.  Button #5 Bible Twin:  Letters of Paul.

    6.  You may be surprised to learn that Button 6 is not pre-programmed.  That’s because sometimes I like to try something new, and I use this button to save a new station I might find with the scan button.  You may have one of those buttons – scans through all of the local antennae and pushed the strongest ones out to you.  I use it a lot when I am driving long distances, or when I am unsure of radio stations in certain areas of Texas.  And, while the ‘scan button’ may not have a Bible Twin, I do hear a comparison with the Holy Spirit.  John 3:8 (NIV) reads “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  When we push our own ‘scan button,’ we’re listening for those top five or six places where the Holy Spirit nudges us.

    Whether your commute is long or short; whether your car has an old-fashioned radio or the snazzy new technology – choose your stations wisely.  I’m sure you’ll hear God in many of them, if you are listening.

    [photo and logo credits from Google Images]