Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Enough and Not Enough

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Jesus: Let the little children come to Me; do not get in their way. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to children like these.Matthew 19:14 VOICE

I think there are times when we can become too serious about being "good" Christians. We can loose the child like quality of wonder and thankfulness and be all about trying to be good enough. 
The fact of the matter is that none of us will ever be good enough to meet the standards of a Holy God. Want proof - read the Old Testament. All the laws and regulations and they still needed a yearly atoning sacrifice on their behalf. The good news is that Jesus is our atoning sacrifice he paid the price once and for all when he went with out sin, willingly to the cross. 

Some of you are approaching your Christian life from a stand point of trying to read your bible enough, trying to pray enough, trying to do enough good things, trying to go to church enough. 
ENOUGH!!!! Really where do you draw the line between enough and not enough?

It takes child like faith to believe that all you need to do is believe that Jesus was able to take care of  it for you. We want to earn God's favor when it is entirely undeserved. 

So what about Christian disciplines? We're supposed to pray and read the word and do good deeds.... right? Christian disciplines of prayer, silence, bible study, devotion, worship, thankfulness, are all important but we don't do them to earn God's favor or to negotiate our way in to right standing with a Holy God. We do them because we want to become more and more like Jesus. We do them out of a heart of gratitude for what has already been done for us by Jesus at the cross. We do them because they help us to understand the heart and mind of God. 

A Crock for making Sauerkraut 
So to change the subject a wee bit or maybe its just my childlike interest in nutrition, wellness, cooking with real foods and  fermentation. 
A slicer for grating the cabbage or vegetables. 
Anyway, I was looking through the photos of the historic homestead that we visited recently. At the time I took some photos but really didn't register what they were. In my current fascination with fermenting vegetables I remembered the tour guide mentioning that they used a slicer and a crock to make sauerkraut.  Looking at the size of that crock they were making pretty large batches. Far beyond my overly large mason jars.

I have been looking into the history of fermenting. It seems that people kind of stumbled upon it. You milked your cow or goat and if you did not drink it all you put it in a skin and carried it around with you. Well it would turn into something yogurt like. In an effort to not waste food someone tasted it and didn't die or get sick. Turns out it was pretty good. Before you know it someone figured out cheese.

Meat was preserved by drying, smoking or salting. Vegetables were preserved by salting and allowing them to ferment.

Wine and beer seem to be some of the earliest fermentation discoveries. That wonderful grape harvest made some wonderful fruit juice, but let it set very long and it would start to ferment. Its pretty amazing to think that people figured these things out. We are so detached from the process of making things in our society.
In my wellness studies I am seeing that there is a value to being able to use real, un processed foods.
Did you know in the Hebrew culture they have a food called Russel or Fermented beets. Russel is a Slavic word for brine. Anyway they used these fermented vegetables in soups, and flavoring, and for things like horseradish.   I found this quote that I thought was interesting. 
"What's that mean? Sour pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables are an important part of Eastern European Jewish cuisine. Sometimes people just say "sours."
What's in it? According to fermentation expert Sandor Ellix Katz, properly made sours are brined, not preserved in vinegar, and get their sour flavor from the fermentation process. Whether the brine is all salt or part vinegar, the pickles also get flavor from cloves of garlic, dill weed, dill seed, peppercorns and sometimes coriander seeds. The best pickles have cloudy brine and lots of these herbal bits floating at the bottom.
When do you eat it? Pickles are good with a sandwich in a deli, on a cut-glass dish to round out a meal or just out of the jar for a snack. You might need help getting the jar open, as the fermentation action inside sometimes creates a powerful vacuum.
What's it like? You can get pickles at all stages of fermentation: new pickles, half sours or full sours. Half sours are my favorite. (The same goes for sauerkraut--usually the jars are marked "new kraut.") The little Israeli cucumber pickles from a can are very sour and limp and preserved in vinegar--those are the ones that come in a felafel. In Israel you can also get pickled eggplant, which looks like it comes from Mars and is, in my opinion, completely awesome, and pickled turnips, which are beautifully colored and crunchy."  From the Jewish Food Cheat Sheet By InterfaithFamily

Here's another tid bit that I stumbled upon my child like love of information.
Captain Cook, fed sauerkraut to his crewman, and was  awarded a medal by the Royal Society for conquering scurvy. Sauerkraut is very high in vitamin C and very easy to take with you to sea in crocks. Armies on long campaigns would get scurvy even on land when fresh foods ran out.  Between 1500-1800 about two million sailors would have died of scurvy. Scurvy was pretty nasty stuff, causing the gums to bleeds and bruises and itching sores on the body.  I found a very interesting article on Scurvy if you want to know more about it click the link.

Lacto Fermented Vegi Cole Slaw
This morning I used my lacto fermented vegetables to make a coleslaw in my mini food processer that was so yummy I ate the whole batch.  Think I'm probably safe from Scurvy for today. Just think about all those wonderful bio available vitamins. I found out that the good bacteria that is introduced into you system actually makes B vitamins.

Then I started something called a Ginger bug that makes a fermented bubbly liquid out of Ginger and a sweetener, that you can use to make homemade soda pop.  My kitchen is becoming a big science experiment.

So I have probably gotten to Enough on the food experimentation for my devotional blog. But I am sure there are some lessons to be learned in how you can start with one thing and it be transformed into something new. Jesus does that with us, he takes us in our raw sinful form and he is like the good bacteria that transforms us into something new.

St. Patrick used the very common shamrock to explain the trinity. We should be able to use common things to explain the truths of the Kingdom. Jesus taught using parables and examples that were common to the people of the day.

I pray that as you go through your day you will notice the things around you that might just lead you to talking to someone about the deeper truths of God. Help us not to relegate our faith to church on Sunday but for it to be evident in every part of our life. 

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