Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Eat Clean

"About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."

14"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."

15The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

16This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven." Acts 10:9-16

This particular passage of the Bible has been on my mind a lot lately. Really, I think about it randomly and I've really been dwelling on it, desiring to know more about what God is trying to tell us through this passage in the Bible. I know in one instance, it's speaking specifically to us gentiles- Peter intentionally did not spend time with gentiles because to the Jewish community, they were considered unclean. Jesus's death changed all that, for He died for ALL men- that we may all know God and be considered clean. I love hearing that, reading that, and reading this passage in the Bible that confirms that again and again.

But I also happen to think that this passage is also speaking a mystery or two for us regarding our diets. I know many people change their diets in ways to try and fit Biblical standards, using different areas of the Bible. Many people decide to eliminate pork products and to keep a Kosher diet- because God directs the Israelites to do so, so there must be some value in that today. There very well could be for those people who feel compelled to follow that diet. I've heard of other people trying to eat a diet like what Jesus would have eaten while He was on the earth. I'm sure that's all well and good- unless you live in a region of the earth where there are not fig trees or olives in abundance or other mid-eastern specialties that can't be found elsewhere.

The more I'm writing this today, the more I'm wondering if this is even a good topic for a devotional blog post, but it's where I'm headed, so it must need to come out. The more I read this passage in the Bible, the more I'm convinced that as human beings, the diet that we should be following IS in fact a scriptural diet. Here's what God says:

"The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

So what did God make? He made plants for food, he made animals to produce products for food like eggs and milk, and he created animals to be killed for food. What God didn't make is un-natural chemicals and preservatives. God did not create chemicals to be substituted for real food. Instead, God created real food for all mankind. He created a vast variety of plants and animals to meet all of our unique dietary needs. I've read so many books about diets around the world- and I've come to one very specific conclusion. The cultures who eat what God has provided are the healthiest on the planet. The cultures who eat the man-made preservatives and highly processed ingredients are the most un-healthiest.

So, so many people go from diet to diet, searching for the best combination of foods for their health, when a vast majority of modern diets today rely on convenience foods- laden with chemicals and preservatives. Or they rely on using chemical substitutes in place of real foods. Or a diet will specifically eliminate a food group- a group that can provide a vast store of nutrients that our body needs. Just as one example, I think of the humble potato. If there is one whole food that has been vilified, it's the potato. The low-carb craze has turned the potato into an undesirable starch, when it is an incredible source of vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need to function. I just think we need to be very, very cautious when we eliminate a food group from our diet- whether it be starches, meats, dairy, etc. God gave us the perfect combination of ingredients to make our diet work for us- when we combine them all in varying ways, our bodies take in exactly what we need to function at our best.

Where we get in trouble, especially as Americans, is that we consume too much of it on a regular basis. We sit down for dinner five nights a week and fill our plates with mashed potatoes, and then wonder why we aren't feeling more healthy. Mashed potatoes are a fabulous source of nutrients- even when we add butter and milk to them, we're adding vital nutrients that only animal fats can provide- but when we eat too much of them, we send our system into overload and shock.

Did you know that animal fats provide essential nutrients? And yet, we've become so accustomed to trying to scrape off every bit of animal fat we can find. We blame animal fats for diseases and maladies, when it's really our over-consumption that is to blame. There are actually very healthy fatty acids in animal fats that are vital to our body chemistry- yet we proclaim fat the enemy and say it is unclean. In actuality, we are becoming deficient in these healthy acids and our immune systems become taxed trying to make-up for our shortcomings. Now, I'm certainly not sitting here thinking that we all need to rush out and start frying up food in beef tallow or goose fat. But I am saying that we should start thinking twice before eliminating something that God created for our benefit. Many of the diseases plaguing people today are directly attributed to a poor diet- one that could be improved if we simply opened our eyes to what we consume, and try to focus on eating those things which God already provided for our benefit.

When people ask me how it is that I eat well yet stay in a healthy weight range- I can honestly say that it's because I eat what God created me to eat. And I try to keep my family eating what created for them to eat. The occasional splurge or treat is not going to be harmful, and we'll enjoy them as they come along, but I am amazed at the number of conversations that go on between God-loving people about diet. Everyone wants to know what's the best diet out there. Everyone wants to know what the secret is to being healthy- and I believe that God has the answers right in His Word.

"Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. " Genesis 1:29

"Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." Genesis 9:1-3

God gave us the plants on the earth, and all the beasts, birds and fish for food. He tells us what we need to eat to sustain our earthly bodies. Nothing HE created should be considered unclean. When we eat what God has created, we can take joy in eating what God has provided for our needs. When we eat what God has deemed clean, when can take great satisfaction in knowing that we are taking in the best He has for us and we can eat clean.

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