It’s a Double Edged Sword

Welcome back! April has begun and our calendar is looking busy busy busy! Are you in the throes of preparations for Easter yet? Our schedule has a few things booked before then, but our pastor has been doing a few preparation messages for us these last few weeks… which had me musing…

Sunday, we spoke about Jesus’ arrest and Peter cutting off the ear of the soldier. Which had me wondering, did men in Bible days just indiscriminately carry around swords and swipe at each other randomly whenever the notion took them? Was it a simple dagger? A knight-in-shining-armour sword? What does it symbolize? Why didn’t the soldier fight back and chaos erupt in a full-on Narnian war in the Garden? Yes, my mind goes there.

I do love a good sword fight. The chink and clash of ancient battles. The courageous “charge” – full speed ahead into death and bloodshed for the sake of honour and justice and true love. Okay, maybe it is my romantic side and one too many movies speaking… but have you thought about biblical swords before?

Apparently, the word “sword” appears 424 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The context is somewhat varied… many times in the Old Testament the sword was referenced in war, where enemies were “smitten” in battle. It was a great symbol of power and defence. Think about the angels who wielded their firey swords at the gate of the garden of Eden when man was cast out. A deterrent. A symbol of strength and power.

The sword was also a symbol for anything that inflicted pain on another. The tongue or the actions of a promiscuous woman. Danger, danger! Be warned by such things. Or, let’s think about the double-edged sword. Extra sharp for the deep cuts to the bone… often needed when speaking about God’s judgement. How sharply are we cut down by our own faults and sins. God’s word (the sword of truth) is part of the whole armour of God as we go out to fight the spiritual battles before us.

 “It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions”

(Heb 4:12). 

My studies tell me that a “two-edged sword” marks its own meaning. A double-edged sword is tricky, in that it is sharper and does more damage, potentially, but the damage is not only reflected towards your enemy, as one sharp edge is still pointing towards you as you wield it! (FYI, if you say that something is a double-edged sword, you may be referring to an Arabic expression that basically says if two sides of the same blade are sharp, it cuts both ways.)

So. A lot of info out there about ancient swords. And a lot of symbolic meaning behind such weaponry. And Peter’s little dagger? Yeah, a common tool used by the men of his day. The people Jesus spoke to would have understood about swords and their uses. They would have wielded them honourably in defence. Do we do the same with our sword of Truth? Do we use it as a defence against the rhetoric of today’s world? Do we say: “the Bible tells me blank in answer to your question or statement”. Perhaps Google is our go-to instead. Or Alexa before Jesus. I’m afraid I’m not like Peter coming to Jesus’ rescue when He is questioned.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Yes, indeed the sword is a powerful tool. We must learn to use it well in battle, my friends.

Rotting Fruit

Alright, my friends… this post is not for the squeamish, so if you can’t handle the yucky stuff, move on. I have a funny story to share. We had a lovely dinner out this past weekend, and halfway through dessert, I put my hand down on the booth beside me, only to discover something sticky… which I promptly blamed on my son for being messy and dropping his dinner between us. I was wrong. It seemed to be my purse leaking some awkward, yet sweet-smelling substance. Rewind a few days. Heading home from work late and a dear co-worker says, “Here, take this banana home – it’s a little too spotted for my liking”. Yup. Popped it in the purse to empty it later… fast forward to three days of overripening fruit accumulating in the bottom of the handbag. Lightly coating the contents in the thin, fruity film à la rot. Gross. Lesson learned.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this constant battle of trying to keep fresh fruit and veggies crisp and vibrant. Who else fights with avocados and zucchini, willing them to stay around long enough to be eaten? Or “gently reminds” their children not to play with the apples for fear of bruising? Of course, individual consumers are not the only ones who fight the rot. Margaret Barth, author of “Microbiological Spoilage of Fruits and Vegetables,” estimates that of all the product that is grown in the United States, 20% will be lost to spoilage.  In Canada, 45% of produced fruits and vegetables are wasted. And 1.4 million kids don’t have access to healthy choices. A sad reality.

And although efforts are being made to rectify these issues, moving forward is prooving to be difficult. I watched a video recently about “American dumpster divers”. Folks who make it their mission to finding the treasures left behind by stores. Now, second generation iphones are one thing to find… but 50 lbs of overripe cherries? How do we save such a rich resource? One lady in the video explained it simply… time. Her crew of helpers wash, cut and process the perfectly-good-but-needing-quick-attention produce to share with those who need it. A job the supermarkets simply can’t take on, and so the dumpster it is. The divers have a worthy cause, although unconventional. How many of us are willing to make the sacrifice? Visions of one slimy purse banana creep into my head.

And so I muse. What “good intentions” do we have that seem to solve little in this messy world? God created the natural world and humans to co-exsist in perfect harmony. Sin arrived and made it messy. Unfortunately, nothing we can do can restore that perfect connection we had with our Creator. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that it is only through God’s gift of grace are we re-united with Him (perfectly…as He originally intended). None of the “good things” we do can reconnect us. Despite our best efforts, good food still rots. If we work hard and make good choices, we can preserve a larger portion of “fruit” and share the wealth with others who can benefit from our efforts… but ultimately God’s perfect gift of salvation is the only way to an eternity in Heaven.

So next time you pluck out that bruised apple from the fruit basket, or search near the back of the fridge and discover the shrivelled up zuchinni (or dare I say find the left over lunch at the bottom of your purse?) be reminded that our best “fruit” still spoils quickly. The dumpster divers among us can assist in using our resources as best we can. We can help reduce the waste by working together to get the job done before time takes over and everything gets yucky. Ultimately, though, we simply must take the gift God gives us from His pure and perfect garden. And how sweet it is, friends, to taste that perfect offering!

Want to learn more about food waste? Here’s some interesting stats: Food Waste

Want to learn more about accepting God’s free gift? Try here: Perfect Fruit

Want to learn ways to make your food last longer? Here’s one source: Preservation

Fun Froggie Facts

When we were younger, a great gang of us kids would spend long summer days catching frogs in the lake near our summer home. We’d create a make-shift home in our buckets with a landing rock and some seaweed and hope they would stay forever. They didn’t. Our moms would send us back to shore with our bucket o’ frogs and make us release them to the wilderness once again at the end of the day. There aren’t too many frogs left now, pollution has stolen up most of them. They say an unspoiled wetland is teeming with frogs. And they are not just in wetlands, either. Apparently, there are approximately 5 000 species of frogs covering every habitat from wetland to desert tundra! Plus, new types of frogs are being discovered every day!

Here are some fun Froggie facts:

  • a group of frogs is called an army
  • one species of frogs does not have lungs… they breathe through their skin
  • the name Kermit has all but disappeared from the new baby list due to our muppet frog friend
  • frogs blink when they eat in order to push their food down… by using their eyeball muscles
  • the largest frog is the goliath frog weighing in at about 3 kilograms, the smallest is merely a centimeter

Obviously, this week I have been learning some fun frog facts — for some reason, I stumbled upon a fabulous frog fact and haven’t looked back since. Wanna see?

The Glass Frog. Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution

This is a Glass Frog (Centrolenella colymbiphyllum). Its skin is so translucent that you can watch its heart beating, its blood flowing and its food digesting! They used to be a bit of a mystery to the scientific community because they are only translucent on the bottom half. The top of the frog is lime green, which makes sense, as this is the same colour as the tropical leaves they hang out on. As it turns out the hue of their legs blends in even better when the sun shines down on their leafy home — the brightness shifts — adding to an increase in camouflage for these little buddies. How cool. Not to mention a see-through belly where one can watch digestion happen in live-action? Even cooler. I muse again at the handiwork of our Creator!

Javan gliding tree frog

Wanna hear another fun frog fact? I’m just a bundle of frog information this week, aren’t I? Here goes: frogs have a 3 chambered heart. One part for bringing in oxygen from the skin and two chambers for oxygenation of blood from the rest of the body. A good system as designed by a good God.

So why all this froggie fraternizing this week? Diversity. Frogs are a phenomenal example of how vast and diverse a species can be. Each is adapted to their own special gift; perfectly designed for their specific habitat or lifestyle. Should the giant Goliath frog be jealous of the glass frog’s translucency? Nope. Should the tiny tree frog crave the Hollywood lifestyle of Miss Piggy’s Kermit? Even though it’s “Not easy bein’ green?” I say again, no.

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that we are all individuals, yet still a part of the bigger picture of the body of Christ. We come with our own unique talents, gifts, abilities and yes, faults. Not all of us are perfect, and many of us struggle to change the bad for the better. Our churches are collections of people with differing opinions and ever-changing views. Some we like, and others we argue over. None has been more evident to me than during these last two years of vaccines, lockdowns and Covid restrictions. Still, I believe God has equipped us with a specific set of skills to be His advocate and further His kingdom to the best of our abilities. I mean, if he can make teeny see-thru frogs, why not the complex brain of a human?

We have the unique ability to rationalize. To think and reason and weigh the consequences of our behaviour. Should we really be so petty to focus on being hearts when we should be being hands or feet, or eyeballs that help swallow our food? God designed us to all be parts of the body! Fully Relying On God, Graciously, In Everything. In case you didn’t get it… that’s being a happy little: “F.R.O.G.G.I.E”

Happy Musing, my friends.