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Bible Insights

Adam Was a Vegetarian

Discover When Our Ancestors Starting Eating Meat

Adam was a vegetarian—really, he was. So were Eve and their kids too. In fact, the next several generations likely avoided meat was well. They all had a vegetarian lifestyle.

How do I know this? After creation, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat any plant or fruit tree for food. Meat was not mentioned as an option (Genesis 1:29).

However, less we conclude that we are supposed to be vegetarian, consider God’s follow-up instructions after the great flood. At that time, God gave all animals to Noah, stating that they would also be used for food (Genesis 9:2-3).

One might argue that God’s original plan was for a vegetarian lifestyle. That is an acceptable conclusion, but it needs to be kept in balance with the also acceptable perspective that meat was given to us to be enjoyed. Both are biblically defensible conclusions.

So, be we herbivore or carnivore, we need to get along with each other. That is even more in line with God’s desire for us then what we eat.

Bon Appétit!

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 9-11 and today’s post is on Genesis 9:2-3.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

A Shepherd Cares for His Flock

Discussing Church 33

Even though this church is only nine miles from our house, the contrast between their lives and mine is stark. These people live in poverty. And their shepherd cares for his flock.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #33

1. We struggle to sing hymns. The organist learned to play because no one else could, and the minister isn’t adept at leading singing. We push through. God doesn’t care about our musical ability, only our heart. 

How can we better align our perspective with his?

2. The people of this rural congregation struggle getting enough to eat. Behind the church is a sizable garden, planted for their church community. The pastor offers venison for Thanksgiving to those in need, as well as firewood to help heat their homes. 

How open are you to see the needs of others? What can you do to help?

3. The reality of these people’s lives puts an exclamation point on being in need. Their physical needs are great and their life, far different than mine.

How can you help meet the tangible needs of the people in your church? Your neighborhood?

4. These people worship God with their church community, their extended family. Being together is what matters. This minister takes care of his congregation; he’s a shepherd who cares for his flock. He loves them, and they, him. 

How can you show love to others?

[See the prior set of questions, the next week, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Commitment Sunday and Celebration

Discussing Church 32

This church has been homeless for a while, but they moved into their own space last week. Today they celebrate God’s faithfulness on a trying journey with their annual commitment Sunday.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #32

1. We arrive to learn that it’s commitment Sunday for them, with contribution pledges sought for the upcoming year. The woman who explains this is embarrassed that our first visit falls on their annual plea for money. 

When you ask for money, how can you help visitors feel welcomed and not obligated?

2. When their minister learns we’re not used to liturgical services, she introduces us to someone who can guide us. He takes his job seriously and performs it admirably. 

How can you apply this visitor-friendly gesture to your church services?

3. The guest speaker says, “Bigger is no longer better in the church world,” and “Smaller is where the work will be done.” He’s so right. 

What is your attitude toward church size? Does something need to change?

4. Afterward is a brunch to celebrate God’s provision and praise him. “We don’t want to intrude on your celebration,” I say to one lady. Her response removes all doubt, “You are one of the reasons we’re celebrating.” 

How well do you celebrate visitors?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

A Day of Contrasts

Discussing Church 31

This church offers a mix of old with new, contemporary with traditional, and public friendliness with personal indifference. As a bonus, they also talk about having a Thanksgiving potluck.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #31

1. At one point, the leader asks everyone who is able, to kneel. It hurts when I kneel. So focused on my pain, I miss the prayer. 

What practices in your church may get in the way of people encountering God?

2. Two girls read about the Good Samaritan: the first in Spanish and the second in English. But this is the only bilingual part of the service. 

What changes can you make to your service so it’s more accessible to people of other languages or cultures?

3. Afterward is a Thanksgiving potluck. Publicly, they invite all to join them, but no one personally does. “If we walk slowly,” Candy says, “maybe someone will ask us to stay.” No one does, so we leave. 

What can you do to personally invite someone to do something?

4. Aside from the two greeters at the door, no one talks to us. After the service I try to make eye contact with many people, but fail each time. I don’t matter and want to cry. 

How can you let people know you care?

Though this church had much going for it, the lack of personal connection is my lasting memory.

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Enhance Community: Sharing a Meal Matters

Discussing Church 9

Today, we’ll go to a United Methodist church, our first visit to a widely recognized denomination. They know how to enhance community by sharing a meal.

Consider these four discussion questions about Church #9:

1. Their services are traditional. I wonder if I should dress up, but their website doesn’t say. Though my casual attire is out of place, no one seems to object.

How do you react when someone shows up at church who looks or dresses differently from everyone else?

2. We make our way inside. Two greeters hand out preprinted nametags to the regulars. They offer us stickers to write our names on. I find nametags helpful.

How can you use nametags to enhance community and celebrate guests?

3. The minister is female. I applaud the opportunity for all people to use their gifts and skills to serve God in any capacity, including leading and teaching.

How do you react to women in leadership and ministry roles at your church?

4. A closing number ends the service, and we make our way to the fellowship hall for a potluck. These Methodists know how to cook.

How does your church use a shared meal to enhance community?

[See the prior set of questions, the next set, or start at the beginning.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Reflecting on Church #39: A Different Twist on Sharing a Meal

The Value of Eating Together

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #39.

Many churches share a meal or food after their service, but this one put a new twist on it: we head off to a restaurant, en masse. Though not everyone goes, a significant number do, including my wife and me. As we form a line at a nearby fast food joint, one of the church members passes out coupons to everyone.

Though it’s great to spend time together outside of church, I wonder what kind of impact we make on the restaurant staff, with a bunch of church folk descending upon them, all bearing coupons and looking for a deal.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

Once we have our food and sit down, the people from church sit at tables all around us, but no one joins us or invites us to sit with them. Though they are all having a great time moving from one table to another and bantering back and forth, Candy and I are left out.

One person can make a difference. Click To Tweet

We are all alone in a group of people. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.

However, midway through the meal, one woman gets up from her table and slides into ours. We have a great conversation and feel cared for.

Again, one person made all the difference between us feeling included and being ignored. Isn’t inclusion the purpose of sharing a meal?

Building community within a church family can take on many forms. Often this involves food, such as when sharing a meal. Eating together, however, is only one way to connect with those you worship with. Working together on service projects or community initiatives is another.

[See my reflections about Church #38 and Church #40 or start with Church #1.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Reflecting on Church #9: A Potluck Builds Community

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #9.

In a word, the potluck at this church was epic. Between the delicious food and making connections, it remains a significant memory of our journey. Sharing a meal helps build community. And this church showed how it should be done.

Although an older congregation (which does not excite me), many of them act young (which does excite me). It’s a busy church, with lots of community outreach. On the fourth Friday of each month, they hold a community dinner, which is legendary among area Christians.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

With a guest speaker on the Sunday we visited, I wanted to make a return visit to meet their pastor and hear her speak, but a few months after our visit, she retired. However, I do want to check out one of their community dinners. I suspect it will be like their church potluck, only more.

When we visited they had two Sunday morning services. Now they have just one. I wonder if they’ve lost members or attendance is down. I hope the situation is temporary.

[See my reflections about Church #8 and Church #10 or start with Church #1.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Methodists Know How to Cook (Visiting Church #9)

This Sunday we visit a United Methodist church with two traditional services. We go to the second and I’m expectant for what I will learn.

Two greeters hand out nametags to the regulars; they offer us welcome stickers and we write our names. The nametags are a first in our 52 churches journey, an appreciated gesture. The sanctuary, with a white décor, is cube-like in shape, seating about 120.

Up front is a large, backlit cross. A colorful banner to the right proclaims, “Catch the Spirit.”

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

The pastor is away and another is filling in for her. There’s also a farewell potluck for their departing organist/pianist. Several people invite us to stay. With an air of pride, they say, “Methodists know how to cook.”

After ceremonial lighting of two candles, a layperson opens the service with a short liturgy, Bible reading, and acknowledgment of the week’s birthdays and anniversaries.

Although most of the eighty or so people present reside in the senior citizen demographic, six kids hear a children’s message from a hand puppet and its partner. There’s no choir today, but there is a guest soloist. We also sing several hymns, using two different hymnals.

The congregation stands as the minister reads Mark 1:14-20. Her sermon is “Come, Let’s Go Fishing.” She smartly compares fishing for fish with fishing for people, which is what Jesus invited his followers to do.

After the sermon we sing a closing number, the candles are extinguished, and we move to the fellowship hall to eat.

The food is ample and delicious. I eat too much. Sharing a meal is a great way to form a community and get to know people. The potluck did that for us today. I’m not sure if all Methodists know how to cook, but this congregation sure does.

[Read about Church #8 and Church #10, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #9.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Personal Posts

I’ve Got Food, But Not Everyone Does

On my post last April, I pondered how any effort to curtail water usage on my part could serve to help those halfway around the world who are thirsty. Alas, there is no direct solution (but I did suggest a course of action).

This discussion reminded me of the prodding I heard as a child to eat all the food on my plate because there were starving children in India.

Not only are there starving children halfway around the world there are also hungry people in your local community. Click To Tweet

Well, I thought to myself, just send them my food; I’ve had enough and don’t want any more. As a tiny lad, I even envisioned placing my unwanted food in the mailbox for the kids in India. Unfortunately, viable solutions are not so simple.

Not only are there starving children halfway around the world (and a plethora of organizations who provide sponsorship opportunities), there are also hungry people in your local community. Many are homeless, relying on homeless shelters and food kitchens for their daily sustenance.

A couple of bucks will provide a meal for one of them. The results can be even more significant in feeding the hungry in impoverished third world locales, where a few cents can provide a basic meal.

So, I can go out to eat at a moderately priced restaurant—or feed ten people at the local shelter—or 180 people in Uganda.

Think about it. I sure do.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Who Would Like to Pray?

Let Us Pray

Recently my wife and I were hanging out with friends, good friends, the best. The time we spend together is always a spiritual experience. As we immerse ourselves in each other’s presence, God joins us.

We don’t realize time’s passing, only becoming aware of the hour after seeking out a clock. The dinner hour snuck up on us. We order pizza—not because we are hungry as much as we know we should eat.

Soon we’re sitting at the table. “Who would like to pray?” our host asks. With little hesitation, their oldest, a preteen girl offers. We bow our heads but she doesn’t launch into a flurry of words; she pauses.

When sufficiently ready, she prays, not a memorized petition or spewing phrases of rote familiarity, but considered words appropriate to the situation. When finished, we thank her and nod our approval, but no one lunges for food; we wait.

Prayer should be communication with our Father in Heaven and not a performance. Click To Tweet

“Does anyone else want to pray?” Her brother and sister both do, but her sister speaks first. We bow again. She prays, too. Her brother is next. These kids know how to approach the Almighty. Their parents have taught them well.

Only the youngest has not participated. “Do you want to pray?” his mom asks him. He nods. He’s not yet talking much so I wonder what he might say. Like his siblings, he prays from his heart; his few words surely bless God.

We affirm his prayer, just as we did for his older brother and sisters. Only then do we consider the food before us.

As I savor my first slice of pizza, I contemplate what just happened.

These kids want to pray. They place prayer over food and their siblings’ turns over their stomachs. Their reverence inspires me. The prayers they offer are not a performance for people but communication with their Father in heaven.

May I be more like them.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.