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Looking for a New Restaurant? Try God’s Kitchen

As a kid I didn’t have time for food, except peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hamburgers, and an oatmeal-like breakfast cereal I called “Cooked Bird.” I liked it because it had a funny bird on the box. Eating got in the way of playing.

But my mom worried. So, the doctor said, “If all he wants to eat are burgers and PBJs, let him.” I loved that doctor. She wore galoshes and a dress that looked like John the Baptizer’s camel hair cloak.She was smart and well dressed. But I was really skinny. “Eugene the string bean,” my sister teased threatening to tie string to me and fly me like a kite.

Even when I was older, however, and gained weight, food was little more than a necessary evil.

That was then. This is now.

Today I not only eat healthily but I enjoy food. I even cook. Ask my wife, Dee Dee.

What’s changed?

I wound up in God’s Kitchen.

First, I learned eating is a good way to stay alive. Dee Dee, taught me this. After we were married she said, “I don’t care what Dr. Thulin said. Eat what I cook or die.”

Dee Dee is a woman of her word and, fortunately, a fabulous cook.

Second, I’ve been surrounded by people who are gastronomical geniuses, including Dee Dee, three Dietitians, and several outstanding cooks. They’ve rubbed off on me a bit.

I’ve always been a little mystified and jealous of the above friends who really love food. At almost any meal not only did they savor

the same meal I was mindlessly shoveling into my gaping mouth, but simultaneously they recalled details of meals past.

“Remember the aioli sauce on the burgers we ate in 01? In that cafe in South Dakota?” one might say.

“Yes.” Lips pursed, eyes glazed, poised fork full of fettucine. “It was heavenly. So creamy but alive.”

What? I can’t remember my last bite.

Food is more than physical nutrition.

But the real turning point came when I discovered my eating habits were, in fact, going to kill me. In the spring of 2011, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Read about that here. In the process I realized eating is as much emotional as physical. In their book “The Insulin-Resistence Diet” Cheryle R. Hart and Mary Kay Grossman argue having a “food memory” such as my friends have, contributes to physical and emotional health. They say overweight people often overeat because, though they are physically full, not having paid attention to what they just ate, they are emotionally unsatisfied and go back for more. Many without a food memory read, watch TV, or work while eating. For many then, enjoying food can contribute to emotional health because it works to satisfy on multiple levels.

Pre-diabetes I had zero food memory, though I was not hugely overweight. And dissatisfaction raged in me. I did not so much overeat as I ate fast and moved on to the next experience.

Food is also spiritual

Though I am still a food connoisseur in progress, slowing down and savoring meals has expanded more than my palate. Food is spiritual. Most religions feature feasts and fasts as disciplines for growing spiritually. Some form of food (mostly chocolate) is the number one item people give up for Lent.

Enjoying food is becoming a main ingredient in my spiritual life, a metaphor for slowing down to savor all aspects of life. Instead of simply praying a blessing over my meal, I take the first bite of my omelet, fully tasting it, slowly, and say the prayer of thanks with the flavor in my mouth. As I wrote here, slowing down and paying attention to life in general is this year’s Lenten practice.

And I am beginning to better understand Jesus’ many references to food.

“Man cannot live by bread alone, but by everything that comes from God,” he said. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Eugene, branch out. There’s more to food than PBJs and there’s more to life than bread. Just as you sustain yourself on the bread that comes from God, do so with all of life. Pull up a chair in God’s Kitchen.”

Here Jesus seems to be trying to convince us that in God’s Kitchen, material and spiritual provision are not cooked up in separate bowls. They are one.

Then Jesus made an even bolder, stranger claim about food. One that had early Greeks accusing followers of Christ of being cannibals.

“Take the bread and eat. It’s my body, broken for you. Drink the wine. It’s my blood to wash you clean. As you eat, remember me.” Bread and wine then taken in the way Jesus prescribed fill the hungry void between us and God and mysteriously become sacramental, spiritual made material and material made spiritual. Communion, two worlds joined, becomes the means for God healing our souls.

This means when we are seated in God’s Kitchen, a meal is not merely a plateful of spices, textures, flavors, hot and cold, nor proteins, vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates, but rather a mysterious mixture of heaven and earth. Food is not a waste of time, but the redemption of it. I’m learning.

Of course there are still times, even in God’s Kitchen, I wolf my food and end with an embarrassing belch.

To that God usually responds, “Bless you. And cover your mouth when you do that.”

Eugene C. Scott usually eats with his mouth closed and believes hamburgers are humankind’s greatest culinary invention. He is attempting to see 2012 as “The Year of Living Spiritually.” You can join the Living Spiritually community by following this blog and clicking here and liking the Facebook page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church. God’s Kitchen, several good charities that feed the hungry go by this name.


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Holding the Cup, Part 2: The Cup of Sorrow

by Jadell Forman

(This is part of a series posted each Monday at The Neighborhood Café.)

Sometimes when I look into the cup in my hands, as I reflect upon the life I hold, I see sorrow.  Sorrow within my own heart and throughout the entire world.  It’s too much.  If I look too long, it’s overwhelming.

All around my neighborhood and our world I see political corruption, social oppression, environmental destruction working its evil in political captives, impoverished children, and littered streets.  In addition to those distant sorrows, people close to me experience sickness, loneliness, hopelessness, anguish.

When Jesus looked into his cup, he saw an overwhelming amount of sorrow, his and ours:

Jesus‘ cup is the cup of sorrow, not just his own sorrow but the sorrow of the whole human race.  It is a cup full of physical, mental, and spiritual anguish.  It is the cup of starvation, torture, loneliness, rejection, abandonment, and immense anguish (Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen, p. 35).

Often when I’m upset, all I really want is someone to look into my cup with me and say, “Yes, that is upsetting, isn’t it?”

Christians mourn with those who mourn.  Jesus mourns with those who mourn.  And in the midst of the sorrow, he brings blessing.  Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  By whom?  By Christ, and by Christians who have themselves received Christ’s comfort.

For our sake, Christ held his cup (and our cup) of sorrow, saw the immense anguish, and said a loving yes to God’s call to drink the cup.

Jesus didn’t throw the cup away in despair.  No, he kept it in his hands, willing to drink it to the dregs.  This was not a show of willpower, staunch determination, or great heroism.  This was a deep yes to Abba, the lover of his wounded heart (p. 37).

Christians know that no amount of our willpower, determination, or heroism will eliminate the cup of sorrow.  We won’t eliminate sorrow when we can get the right people into government office, the latest education model into our schools, and a better flowchart into our businesses.  Governments, education, and organization are tools God gave us to solve some, even many, of our world’s problems but never empty the cup of sorrow.

No.  Christians share in Christ’s suffering, including sorrow.  Even so, sharing that cup with him and with other Christians is also, oddly, the cup of joy.

Next Monday: Holding the Cup, Part 3: The Cup of Joy

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Holding the Cup

Years ago, my friend Cristi and I were in Dallas, outlet shopping.  She wanted to go to Mikasa for “stemware.”  I didn’t really know what stemware was, but obliged her so that I wouldn’t feel bad when she obliged me by going to a store that didn’t interest her.

As we strolled down the aisle, she was on a mission.  I was on a ferry, merely moving along as an obligatory part of the trip.  Suddenly, I stopped mid-stream and gasped.  She looked at me as I looked at a display of stemware.  I reached for and held the coolest wine glass I’ve ever seen.  I had no idea so much creativity could go into a wine glass.  I turned it and admired it–the square lip and curved sides, the simple elegance and understated uniqueness…all the while, being utterly surprised by my interest in “stemware.”

Cristi drifted away at some point of my love-at-first-sight moment.  The store noises and movements bobbed on the far shores of my awareness…until the sound of an approaching shopping cart grew increasingly loud and stopped right behind me.  I turned abruptly.  It was Cristi…with a cart.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“Your stemware,” she said.  I smiled gratefully, she enthusiastically.  And I bought stemware–something I had no prior intention of doing, and would not have done had Cristi not recognized and embraced what was going on within me.

What was going on within me?  I was delighted with a new discovery.  Upon entering that store, I had no interest in stemware.  In reality, I didn’t know how to appreciate stemware.  And I still really don’t care to know the intricacies of wine glasses and iced beverage glasses, or whatever they’re called.  I just know that I will never, ever see stemware that I prefer over what I now have.

What if in the same way I appreciate my stemware, I knew how to appreciate my life?  What if I held my cup and at some point gasped at the surprising simple elegance and uniqueness of this life within my hands, even if I don’t understand much of what’s going on?

Some of us know how to appreciate wine or coffee.  How would we live if we knew to do the same with life?  Holding, noticing, questioning the angles, curves, simplicity, elegance, uniqueness?

Holding the cup is a hard discipline.  We are thirsty people who like to start drinking at once.  But we need to restrain our impulse to drink, put both hands around the cup, and ask ourselves, “What am I given to drink?  What is in my cup?  Is it safe to drink?  Is it good for me?  Will it bring me health?…[J]ust living life is not enough.  We must know what we are living.  A life that is not reflected upon isn’t worth living.” – Henri Nowen, Can You Drink the Cup?, pp 27-28, 26.

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The Question

by Jadell Forman

So, one day, many years ago, I’m waitressing at The Happy Chef…

I have the section by the bathrooms.  I don’t like this section.  My friend/coworker once complained about that section, listed all her reasons, and started me thinking the same.

It’s the place where big parties usually sit (and big parties usually make a big mess but rarely leave a big tip); and if there are kids in high chairs and booster seats, they eat crackers and leave an explosion of crumbs.

At least it’s mid-afternoon, when business is slow.  The hostess, after moving together several tables, passes by and tells me to expect a party of fourteen.

Oh, yippee.

As I’m preparing water glasses, four of the party enter my section.  Three thirty-something men and an older woman, all with jet black, wavy hair, and not from my small town.  Two of the men are clearly brothers, almost identical in appearance, pretty darn cute, and the spitting image of the woman I assume to be their mom.  The other guy is normal height and not cute at all, yet…interesting, in an attractive way.

The other three defer to him, choosing their seat after he chooses his.  He sits at the end closest to my waitress station, with his back toward me, facing the plate glass windows.  The mother sits across from him, facing but not noticing me.  One son sits next to her; the other, next to odd-ball guy.

Immediately after everyone is seated, the woman catches the odd guy’s attention and does sort of an Eastern bow.  She joins her hands in a prayer position, closes her eyes, and bows her head.

And I’m thinking, Now that’s weird.

The odd guy says, “What do you want?”

With her hands still joined, she raises her head, meets his eyes, and says, “Give me your word that my sons will be your right- and left-hand men when you take over.”

Take over!  Take over what? Images of President Carter and foreigners holding hostages come to mind. 

The brothers look at the woman, with huge eyes, dropped jaws, and amused grins, as if to say, Dang, Mom!  That’s ballsy of you! Then they look at take-over guy, eager for his response.

The guy says to the woman, “You have no idea what you’re asking.”  Then he looks at the brothers.  I’m not sure if he’s mad, or considering if these guys can handle the job, or what.  But I expect him to say something.  Something like, Can you handle the job?  Or, Did you put your mother up to this?  He’s looking at them intently. I can tell, because when he and the brother next to him look at each other, I see their profiles.  Then he speaks to the brothers: “Can you drink the cup I’m about to drink?”

Omigosh!  The water. I’d forgotten all about it, fourteen filled glasses, setting on my tray, which I promptly pick up, with a turn toward the table.

“Sure, why not?” the brothers say with a shrug and glance at each other.

As I step out of my waitressing station, I step into their drama, but act like I haven’t.  “Hi, my name’s Jadell…” I glance at the brothers, now in non-silhouette light—and, holy moly, they are cute!  Blushing like all of us waitresses do when Mike the new cop comes in, I set down their water glasses, and their mom’s, while finishing my schpiel.  “…I’ll be your waitress today.  Would anyone like coffee?”  I set down take-over guy’s water, and look him in the eye.

He’s smiling at me, glances at my name tag, and smiles again, as if he knows me.  Everything inside—bones, blood, organs—turns to warm wax, and I want to be his friend, and sit down at his table and talk.  Now that I’m looking at him straight on, he doesn’t look like a take-over guy.

“Maybe later,” he says.

I return his smile, sure I’m his favorite person or something.  And I wonder if he’s heard good things about me from the hostess.  I continue setting down glasses at the other ten place settings.

What a great day.  What a great section.

Pretending to focus on my job, I watch him out of the corner of my eye.  He’s leaning back, with one arm draped over the back of his chair, using his other hand to twist his glass of water in quarter turns while it sets on the table.  Looking, turning, as if looking at different angles of a thought.

“Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup.  But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business.  My Father is taking care of that.”

Okay, so, it’s a family business.  That’s safe.  That’s cool.  Nothing earth-shaking.

At this point, I thought I could relax.  But that wasn’t true, because the earth sure shook when the rest of the group showed up.

I’ll tell you about that next week.

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The Perils Of Asking Kobayashi To Dinner

 If you don’t recognize his name, you haven’t kept up with the news.  Kobayashi is the world-wide sensation in international competitive eating. The 5 foot 8 inch, 128 pound man holds the world record in the following categories:

  • Eating 97 hamburgers in one sitting
  • Devouring 83 vegetarian jiaozi dumplings in 8 minutes
  • Consuming 100 roasted pork buns in 12 minutes
  • Wolfing down 58 bratwurst sausages in 10 minutes
  • Choking down 17.7 pounds of cow brains in 15 minutes
  • Inhaling 64 tacos in 15 minutes

Unfortunately he was arrested on July 4 after allegedly trying to disrupt a hot dog eating competition in New York City that he had been forbidden to compete in.

Some people approach worship like Kobayashi does eating.

Please join us as we discuss this in today’s daily Bible conversation.


Esther 1:1-3:15
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Psalm 35:17-28
Proverbs 21:19-20


Esther 1:1-3:15. We don’t know who wrote the book of Esther, but it was likely someone from Persia because we’re given no information on what was happening in Jerusalem. The king at the time of the events in this book was Xerxes who ruled from 486-465 B.C. This would place the events of Esther at the time of Ezra and thirty years before Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem.

Probably the most outstanding feature of this book  is the absence of any reference to God, worship, prayer, or sacrifice. Many scholars believe the author avoided these in order to build heightened sensitivity to God’s providential hand in circumstances and “coincidences”.

Interestingly enough, archeologists have uncovered historical support for some of Esther’s characters. The name Hegai (Esther 2:8) appears as an officer of Xerxes in the Histories of Herodotus. Also, a man named Marduka appears in a text from this period who served as an accountant on a royal inspection tour from Susa. Many scholars believe this was Mordecai. Apparently Mordecai carried considerable influence with the king. At the end of chapter 2 we read that Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. This means he had been appointed as a judge, because the gate was the traditional court of law.

The New Bible Commentary offers an interesting observation on the difference between Xerxes the king, and his accountant Mordecai:

Unlike Xerxes, Mordecai was able to rule his household. The fact that he cared enough about Esther to check daily on her well-being provides a clue to his secret. Esther obeyed because she loved and respected Mordecai.

Queen Vashti, however, was not at all like Esther.

Being chosen for the “queen selection process” exposed the women to extravagant beautifying treatments. But after spending the night with the king, if they weren’t chosen, they were destined to spend the rest of their lives in his harem as one of his many  concubines. Many never saw the king again.

The story of Esther reminds us that coincidences do not exist. In fact, both Esther and Nehemiah found themselves in providential positions that preserved Israel’s existence. Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king and Esther the newly crowned queen of Persia. Not to be forgotten is Mordecai, who overheard a conversation and diverted the assassination of Xerxes.

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Reading Paul’s criticism of the church’s practices regarding the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11 tells us that the early church wasn’t passing out little cups of grape juice and tiny wafers. The Lord’s Supper was really that—a supper.

Their purpose was to join in a common meal, irrespective of social class. Apparently people were bringing their own food, eating at different times, and only sitting with their friends. The meal that was intended to bring the people together was actually dividing them.

The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remember our common unworthiness and our common need for Jesus. We all partake of the body and blood of Jesus because we need him.

In the body of Christ, no one is better than the other. Wealth, influence, personality mean nothing. We are all one body, gathered together in the name of Jesus.

“Recognizing the body of the Lord” means being sensitive to the needs of the people around us. It means being cognizant of our need for forgiveness, so in turn we forgive others.

Many people today like to slip in and slip out of church without being noticed. That sounds more like the Kobayshi approach to dinner. Stuff yourself with food while avoiding interaction with the people around you. That, or limit yourself to a select circle of friends, ignoring people who are hurting or newbies exploring the faith.

If you’re involved in a faith community, recognize the body of the Lord by ensuring that no one is marginalized or pushed to the side in your community.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading
  2. Where did you see God’s providential hand in Esther’s story?
  3. Think back over the last day or two. Where have you seen God’s providential hand in your story?
  4. What can you learn from Xerxes’ leadership style?
  5. What does it mean for you to recognize the body of the Lord”?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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What We Can Learn From Alferd E. Packer

In the winter of 1874, a man named Alferd E. Packer showed up in Gunnison, Colorado claiming that the rest of his party of gold seekers had perished in a snowstorm. Eventually he confessed that during the blizzard, in order to stay alive he had eaten some of his friends who had died in the storm. He had no choice, he remarked. If he hadn’t eaten them, he would have perished as well.

The legal authorities couldn’t stomach his claim, and convicted him of murdering his cohorts. After serving time in prison, he was released and died not far from my home in Littleton, Colorado.

One hundred years later, the students at the University of Colorado christened their new cafeteria the “Alferd E. Packer Grill” with the slogan, “Have a friend for lunch.”

Stories of cannibals have existed for millennia. Like Packer, some have resorted to “having their friends for lunch” out of necessity. But for the most part, cannibals have resorted to eating people in order to gain something from the person being consumed.

In many ways, the same holds true of Jesus’ followers.

Please join me…but not for lunch!


1 Samuel 10:1-11:15
John 6:43-71
Psalm 107:1-43
Proverbs 15:1-3


1 Samuel 10:1-11:15. Samuel’s words to Saul in 10:1 are very telling: “Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?” Samuel was appointing Saul to lead God’s people. Israel didn’t belong to the newly anointed king. Instead, God appointed Saul as a steward over his possession. This is a great perspective for any leader.

In chapter 11, it quickly becomes obvious that although Israel now had a king, each tribe operated independently. Faced with the possibility of one region being forced into servitude, Saul rallied the other tribes into battle. Saul—and Israel’s victory—solidified his role as king.

John 6:43-71. Jesus’ words in this passage make it abundantly clear that he was more than a prophet. Every line is saturated with meaning.

Psalm 107. I always enjoy reading this psalm. The theme of this psalm gives praise to God for his unfailing love. Despite our digressions and failures, God proves that his love never ends. We can run out of patience, out of ideas, even out of gas. But God’s love and forgiveness is in infinite supply!

Proverbs 15:1-3. The subject of the first two verses concerns our words: “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

I readily admit that I’m a talker. But when I reflect on these two proverbs, I’m inclined to talk less, listen more, and measure my words wisely.


Yesterday’s post about Israel’s evil request for a king generated an interesting insight from one of our readers. In two different posts, Elna remarked

Can you imagine how it was before Israel got a king? Everything belonged to the people, no excessive government spending, no overbearing and under-achieving bureaucracy? And no, I am no socialist…

Maybe that’s why God called a king a curse.
Being answerable to your direct family/family head makes your ‘sin’ more real…because it’s not “them” you are in rebellion against; its “us.” People always talk about the inhuman way of stoning. But it really puts the onus on the community to keep the sinner from sin because you really don’t want to stone your friend/family member. And from wrongful accusation/fraud because if you lie you will be committing murder. By putting justice in the ruler’s hand we are shirking our duty towards our community, and our own conscience because it is so far removed from ourselves that we don’t take responsibility.

My colleague and co-blogger Eugene Scott responded,

It seems that though the people sinned by each “doing what was right in his own eyes,” God’s idea of a theocracy (if we should call it that) in Judges and even part of Samuel had to do with the people not having an excessive government, bureaucracy, king, dictator, etc. But rather a loose system of family and tribal leaders that allowed them to be in more direct dependence on God.

What an enlightening and thought-provoking discussion! That’s why a daily Bible conversation is so much better than one person droning on and on about what the Bible says.

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The early Christians were accused of being cannibals–and what would you expect when outsiders heard that the Christians were gathering on a regular basis to eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood?

Today, we read some fairly confusing words uttered by Jesus:

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. John 6:53-56

What in heaven’s name does Jesus mean?

For centuries, theologians have debated this passage, likening it to various interpretations of communion. Granted, it points to communion, but on a deeper level, it points to the way you and I regard Jesus. Do we keep him at a distance or do we make him our life…and our death?

Ingesting Jesus means to consume him and look to him to give us life. It means to seek him, rely on him, and give him predominance in our thoughts. It means depending on Jesus to be our savior and follow him as our Lord.

That’s why his disciples told him, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

At the end of Jesus’ hard words, and after many of his disciples left him, Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter then answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood means leaving no room for other options. He is our only way to true life.

You see, following Jesus doesn’t mean he’s a part of your life, it means he is your life.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does John 6:43-71 tell you about Jesus?
  3. How do you consume Jesus? How have you discovered him to be your life?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.


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