The Ultimate GMO

*Image is from Rodale’s Organic Life

Genetics. We can’t get away from them. Pretty much everything we eat, unless you are a strict geophagist, has a genetic component. And what constitutes a genetically modified organism? People have been modifying the genomes of plants and animals for millennia. Just look at all of the varieties of apples we have, or man’s best friend.

It seems that the term, GMO, is reserved for creatures whose genome has been altered by means that are beyond natural cross-breeding; alterations that would never happen in nature, by any stretch of the imagination.

And what about our genomes? We are finding that things people once thought were simple choices, like alcoholism, lesbianism, being socially insensitive most of the time (now known as autism) have very strong genetic components.

I, of course, struggle with autism, and I am certain I could very easily become an alcoholic, which is why I am very careful about how much and when I drink.

So why does God tell me through the Bible,

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)?

God does not say I shouldn’t drink alcohol at all, but I shouldn’t let it take me over, instead, I should let Him take me over. But for someone who is a candidate for alcoholism, I can understand how that would be a very tough statement for someone who actually does struggle with alcoholism.

And why, when God knows it is extremely difficult for me to think of the perspective of others (actually it is impossible, on my own, without a lot of coaching, first), does he say this in Philippians 2:1-4:

(1) Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, (2) then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.

(3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. (4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

As I was talking with a friend about this the other day, suddenly the following flowed out of our conversation. Now, keep in mind that I have a biology minor, so I am somewhat well-versed in the scientific perspective of biology in general, and genetics in particular. But as we were talking, God seemed to pour this through us:

Yes, we are all genetically predisposed to various things, be it singing, stealing, dancing, dealing, cooking, cheating, making things, murder, smiling, smoldering, you get the picture. It is impossible for us, on our own power, to follow what the Bible says, to even want to follow what the Bible says, without this:

(5Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. (6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (7)So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ (8The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you it is with people born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 5-8)

So, Jesus is saying that to be part of His kingdom, I need to be genetically modified. I need to be unnaturally changed by the supernatural to even be interested in living life to the fullest.

Does God actually change our physical genome, or does he just give us the supernatural power to overcome our genome, I don’t know.  I just know that I want that!

Jesus, later in that chapter tells us how we can experience being born again:

(16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16 -17)

Believe in Jesus, and God will genetically modify you by giving you his Holy Spirit to help you do the impossible.

Wow! I want to be the ultimate GMO! How about you?

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I didn’t choose to be gay

This phrase has baffled me for some time.

As you may have gathered from previous posts, I interpret the Bible to say that heterosexuality or abstinence is the way that has God designed people to interact.

However, I also believe the Bible says that God is a just and loving God, so He would not expect people to behave in ways that are against the way they were designed to behave.

For instance, people who are left-handed used to be vilified in the worst sorts of ways, being thought of as spawn of the devil, himself. But a quick read of the scriptures (ok, so maybe it isn’t the most talked about story in the Bible, but it is in there) finds a story about a left-handed judge of Israel. Judges were selected by God to rule, so clearly, it is not against God’s design to be left-handed:

15 Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab.

So I kept asking God,”How is it that you seem to say that we should not be homosexual, yet so many people who claim to be homosexual say that they did not choose to be so? I know you do not ask people to be something that they are not able to be.”

After a few years of pondering that question, He brought to mind an incident that I had totally forgotten about:

Many years ago I had just gotten home from spending some great time with friends. As I was thinking about how wonderful it was to have such a fabulous support system to laugh with, cry with, study with, just live life with, a thought I had never had before ran through my head. I don’t remember the exact wording of the thought, because I dismissed it so quickly. But it had something to do with the idea that I could become homosexual, if I wanted.

As I said, I quickly dismissed that thought as something from I don’t even know where and went on with life as a heterosexual. I did not choose to think that thought. None of my friends had ever done anything to induce that thought. It just was a random thought.

But now I understand how people can truly believe that they did not choose to be homosexual.

And I also understand how God can ask something of us that we initially may think isn’t very fair.

Just because a thought runs through our head, doesn’t mean that we have to accept it or act on it. We must always hold it up to the Bible to see if it is what God would have for us. If it is not, we can dismiss it. If it is something God wants for us, we, with His help can make it a part of us.

Oh, and we don’t need to be embarrassed by an errant thought – everyone has them:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

It’s what we do with those random thoughts that matter. Here’s to a great day corralling the unhelpful random thoughts, and acting on the good ones in all areas of our lives! Blessings, everyone.

 

 

What’s the difference

Some girls like things that, traditionally, are seen as more masculine, like sports, not dressing up, leading rather than following, and so forth. And some boys like things that are traditionally considered more feminine, like playing house or other sorts of care-taking rolls, dressing well, being more collaborative rather than dictatorial, and so forth. But those preferences aren’t what matters. There is something deeper. To explain that, let me tell about my journey:

Years ago I heard a Christian women’s conference speaker talk about how there really is no difference between men and women, just cultural stereotypes. I was skeptical. After all, where do stereotypes come from? Well, she handed out a survey that listed traditionally female ways of behaving, on one half of the sheet, and traditionally male behaviors on the other, in opposing pairs. She asked us to survey ourselves by picking one from each pair, to see if we fit into the gender stereotype.

While my responses were mixed, I tended to fall just a little heavier on traditionally male characteristics. For instance, I prefer the end product of a project rather than the process. I prefer to lead rather than follow. I prefer to work alone rather than collaborate. All of these things, I guess, are considered male, though I know quite a few other women who prefer these things, too. And I know a number of men who love to collaborate, enjoy the process and prefer to follow, as long as the leader knows where they are going!

She seemed to prove that there is no intrinsic difference between men and women. But deep down, I knew that wasn’t true. But what is the difference?

A year or so later my husband and I hit a bump in our marriage, as pretty much all couples do, so we decided to talk to the Marriage Ministries pastor at our church. He had us do some reading, and that’s when I learned what makes men, men and women, women. Basically it comes down to this verse:

Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you [husbands] also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Men crave respect above all, that is why God is reminding women to respect their husbands. Women crave love above all, that is why God reminds the husband to love his wife. We both want and need both, but each gender has a different hierarchy of needs.

When teaching kids about how to demonstrate love , a friend of mine asked for examples from her Sunday School class. The girls piped up with all sorts of warm, fuzzy things like giving gifts, saying, “I love you,” etc. But the first male response was, “being respected.” There you have it folks!

So girls and boys are different at the core.

As girls, we can’t truly understand what it means to be a boy, and vice versa.

Therefore, we must trust that God made us who we are, and wants us to be the gender we were born with. If we don’t match up to society’s stereotypes for behavior, that’s okay. As long as we are following God’s plan, we are on the right track. Sometimes it means learning new things to get along with others in our gender, for instance, learning to be more collaborative, on my part!

What do you think is the core difference between men and women?

Squirrelly

Two weekends ago our family was able to spend a little time along the North Shore. For non-Minnesotans, that is the north shore of Lake Superior. When looking at a map, it really seems to be more the west shore of Lake Superior, but for some reason, unknown to me, we call it the North Shore. Can any of you Duluthians tell me why it is called the North Shore?

We visited Tettegouche State Park, getting there just before lunch. After hiking about 15 minutes we found a beautiful overlook at the start of Shovel Point. Another couple was just finishing up eating as we arrived. As they moved on, we settled into our usual picnic lunch of summer sausage, chips, baby carrots, apple wedges and juice boxes.

We had been munching about 3 minutes when my husband noticed we had a visitor. It never ceases to amaze me that the squirrels in protected wildlife areas are so much more tame than the squirrels in my own back yard. I guess it makes sense, as there are not numerous people sitting in my yard eating food everyday, leaving behind crumbs and purposely throwing out snacks. But I still find it to be an oxymoron to find tame wildlife in the wild, and wild wildlife in my suburban neighborhood.

I know that Funyuns and potato chips are not healthy food for red squirrels. They really aren’t very healthy for people, either. But he was so cute, we just couldn’t help but leave him some. When he came across a tiny piece of chip, he quickly ate it. But the apple wedge was grabbed up and whisked off down the boardwalk.

A minute or so later, he was back looking for more. This time, he found the Funyun. He took a nibble, then decided that should be whisked off, too. We were done with our lunch so took off after him, trying to see where his cache was. We saw him zip up into an evergreen, then jump back down and disappear deeper into the woods.

Upon close inspection of the evergreen,
this is what we found about five feet up!

Hopefully he remembers where he put it before someone else comes along to enjoy it! The next day, while driving home in a soft rain, I wondered about the Funyun, hoping it had been enjoyed before the rain melted it away.

This made me think of Matthew 6:19-20:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Lukewarm

While baking the other day, I got what I considered to be lukewarm water, as instructed by the recipe. I decided, before adding the yeast, to get out the candy thermometer and see if the water was in the temperature range recommended (110 – 115F, as all of you who use yeast on a regular basis know). To my surprise, the lukewarm water I had taken from the tap wasn’t even close to 110F. It was maybe 80F!

I have a history of making not very good homemade bread. But my daughter really wanted to try a recipe that she had found in a craft book based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. The final product was to be a lovely loaf of bread in the shape of a sheaf of grain, tied with a braid around the middle. Not wanting to squelch my daughter’s enthusiasm, or interrupt the development of her blossoming culinary skills, I decided to give bread another go. This thought buoyed my hopes: if people were able to bake this bread out on a windswept prairie in a wood stove, surely I should be able to meet with some success in my modern kitchen.

To give the bread the best chance at turning out I decided that I had better make sure that I got the tap water to the correct temperature. So I turned on the water, and put the candy thermometer bulb into the stream. I had to keep pushing the faucet handle farther to the left, but finally, the thermometer measured 113F. When I touched the water with my finger, I was surprised to find how warm it felt. That was not at all what I would have called lukewarm! I found it quite warm – almost hot!

Now, I don’t know exactly what temperature God had in mind when he said that he doesn’t want Christians to be lukewarm in their faith (Revelation 3:16), but I have a feeling that He may have been trying to get my attention with this little baking experience. What I consider to be, “on fire,” may be what He considers lukewarm.

Hmmm, it seems He may want me to step it up a bit. Thankfully, he never asks us to do things that he will not sustain  us in. May we all never be spit out!