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In the Defense of Snow

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BY DAN KIEHL, Senior Pastor of Oakwood Presbyterian Church

     During the winter months I become a fan of meteorologists. I avidly follow their websites, trying to discern when the next big snow storm will hit. Oh, how I love a good snow storm. I can’t rejoice too loudly, because most people associate these events with shivering, slipping and sliding, and shoveling-induced soreness. While I admit that major snowfalls have some downsides to them, they are still one of my favorite events of all that goes on in God’s creation.

     I may be in the minority, but I’m certainly not alone. In the insufferably catchy tune that Maria sings in The Sound of Music, some of her favorite things are “warm wooly mittens,” “sleigh bells,” “snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,” and “silver white winters.”  But she doesn’t describe some of the best things about snow:    

1. Snow quiets the world – One of the best moments of a snowstorm is right after the snowflakes stop falling. The world is never quieter than it is when it is covered with a blanket of fresh snow. We have so many noises in our lives – demands from our children, rants by our bosses, shouts from advertisements, and the cacophony of electronics and machinery that surrounds us constantly. Quietness is best context for hearing God. Elijah heard the Lord’s voice in a whisper, something he couldn’t hear while all the wind, fire, and earthquakes were going on.

2. Snow slows the world down – To a child there is no parental declaration more precious than the early morning announcement, “Snow day!” Even most adults appreciate the schedule-clearing effect of a major snowstorm. We are way, way too busy in this culture, so snow-covered roadways that cancel school, work, meetings, games, practices, and lessons are good occasional reminders that we need to simplify our lives and make time for the more important things, from an eternal perspective.

3. Snow beautifies the world – Just as a multi-hued sunset, a majestic mountain, and a starry midnight sky can take away my breath, so does a fresh snowfall. In God’s wise providence and artistry, when the creation is in its most stark, bare, and dingy condition, He will lay down a brilliant white covering on the landscape and paint the edges of tree branches and bushes. People who live where it’s always warm and green (or concrete gray) are missing the joy of watching God redecorate His place every few months!

4. Snow is a picture of our redemption – In Scripture, the image of snow is used to give us an inkling of what it means to be forgiven in the sight of our holy God. The dazzling whiteness of the snow is only a pale reflection of the righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been given to us as a gift. Our Lord says to us in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” We cry out for mercy in the words of David in Psalm 51:7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Every snowstorm should be a time for reflection, praise, and thanksgiving… we are clean before the Lord!    

Posted by Rev. Dan Kiehl with

A Taste for Finer Spiritual Foods

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 BY DAN KIEHL, Senior Pastor of Oakwood Presbyterian Church

     I once read a medical news report about an usual side effect of brain damage in some people:

     “Swiss researchers report finding a new brain disorder in a small percentage of people who have suffered strokes, brain tumors, and head traumas. In each case, the damage has produced a persistent behavioral effect. Yet none of the victims desires a cure. Indeed, they're enjoying the fallout: a craving for fine foods.

      Marianne Regard of University Hospital in Zurich and Theodor Landis of Geneva University call this benign disorder gourmand syndrome.

      Regard first encountered the condition 8 years ago in a 48-year-old political journalist who had been hospitalized with a stroke. Scans of the man's brain identified a lesion around the middle cerebral artery in the right hemisphere. The wound produced a temporary weakness on the left side of his body, making him unable to walk. Even so, Regard recalls, "he didn't complain about that." Instead, he griped about hospital meals.

      "Since most people complain about hospital food, we initially took no notice," the neuropsychologist admits. But when she asked him to keep a diary of his thoughts, the man exhibited an inordinate preoccupation with food. Before the stroke, he had had an overwhelming interest in politics and had shown no particular food preferences, Afterwards, he lived for food. Indeed, as soon as he returned to work, he abandoned politics to become a columnist on fine dining.

     When she observed a businessman hospitalized for stroke who also exhibited a newfound "lusting" after food, Regard says, she began investigating the role of the brain damage. After studying 723 patients suspected of having a discrete lesion in the brain, she and Landis identified 34 more instances of gourmand syndrome. Each patient had brain damage, usually in the right frontal region.

     What constitutes fine food has proved "very individual," Regard says, with no single cuisine or taste--such as sweet or salty--driving the compulsion.

     Most patients exhibited additional symptoms at first, such as spatial memory problems or diminished control over impulsive behaviors. During 8 years of follow-up, these symptoms disappeared for the most part, but the passion for food remained, Although preoccupied with shopping, dining rituals, and food preparation, the patients did not become overweight.”1

     This could be good news for someone like me with notoriously undiscerning culinary taste. Not to make light of a serious condition, but I sure wish that my tastes in foods (as well as in many other things) could be improved by a good knock in the head! It’s just as well, though; I can’t afford to eat fine foods anyway.

     I especially wish that my taste and passion for the presence of Christ and the things of His Kingdom could be improved that easily. God’s Word tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4a) and “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). God promises that if you will seek fullness and satisfaction in Him that He will “give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4b) and Psalmist declares to God his confidence that “You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11) The problem is that we have dulled and deadened our spiritual taste buds with a steady diet of the pleasures of sin and materialism, along with the empty “calories” of spiritual and emotional junk food. We just don’t have a taste for the “fine foods” of heaven – the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and our King’s banquet table – and we have no idea what we’re missing.

     C.S. Lewis once wrote, “…if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.” We need to grow up in Christ and discover the much finer foods offered at His table. But this will only begin with a conscious change in lifestyle and focus. We must stop filling our hearts and lives with temporal things that cannot satisfy more than a moment. We must simplify our lives and make time to relish the presence and promises of the Lord. Whatever it takes, let’s live to savor the glory of God!

1"Patients savor this brain disorder.." The Free Library. 1997 Science Service, Inc.


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