First Lesson: Acts 11: 1-18
Responsive Reading: Psalm 148
Second Lesson: Revelation 21: 1-6
Gospel Lesson: John 13: 31-35
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I want to tell you this morning about a gentleman named Tom Ciola . Ciola opened his first health food store in 1970. He had a successful career as a bodybuilder and powerlifter. Ciola was in such good shape that he was named Mr. New York in the year 1975. Ciola’s health discipline is especially incredible considering he’s the rare bodybuilder who rejects taking steroids for only natural supplements. Tom Ciola is also an extremely devout Christian and he’s an author.
His first book published in 2001 was titled Moses wasn’t Fat. How does Ciola know Moses was in really good shape? Moses worked all day in the fields of Egypt and was able to lift the stone tablets known as the Ten Commandments easily. So Ciola uses this as evidence that we need a specifically Christian diet plan.
So in 2002, Ciola got to work. Ciola determined that the Bible mentions seven holy foods that God calls good in the Book of Deuteronomy: wheat, barley, vines (raisins), figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and honey. These were the foods that God described as evidence of the newfound promised land upon leading the Israelites out of Egypt. So Ciola set out to make a Bible-based energy bar based on these seven holy foods of the Old Testament. The product would be organic to be in line with Biblical farming methods. Ciola soon determines additional ingredients were required in puffed rice and raspberry flavoring for taste and texture. Bible Bars appear to be a hit. Ciola soon gets a big market, 2500 health food stores and Bible book stores begin to sell his bar. He was for a while adding 30-40 new stores per week. What happened to Bible bars? When I did an internet search, I came up empty for options regarding purchasing such a seemingly perfect snack.
Tom Ciola is correct when he points out that the Bible spends an extensive amount of time talking about what foods to eat: fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, and nuts along with what foods not to eat: such as shellfish or pork products such as bacon or sausage.
Ciola makes the point, Christians have been debating what they can or should eat for as long as there’s been a Christian church.
In the Early 1840’s, William Miller was the founder of a church group known as the Seventh Day Adventists. Miller believed the church’s mission was preparing for Christ’s imminent second coming. One of the ways the Adventists did this was by making a healthy lifestyle a vital part of their belief system. They would advocate for Vegetarianism. They would follow Kosher restrictions from the Book of Leviticus to such a degree that they would never eat Oreo cookies which were be made from pig fat known as lard.
One of the most famous Seventh Day Adventists was a gentleman named John Harvey Kellogg. Kellogg wanted a breakfast option for Adventists as opposed to the standard fare of “bacon” and “eggs.” So he developed a product known as Kellogg’s “Corn Flakes” of which you’ve maybe heard of.
Seventh Day Adventists have many health habits beside their diet though: they don’t drink, use tobacco, or any illegal drugs. A strict Seventh Day Adventist might not even drink coffee, tea, or cola.
What the Seventh Day Adventists do works quite well. The National Institute of Health did a study in 2005 which showed that the average Seventh Day Adventist because of their strict diets, live on average 4-10 years longer than the ordinary Californian.
Now I want to tell you Today about another guy, who was very religious and had very clear ideas over what was the best way to eat as a believer. His name was Peter. He was known for being one of Jesus’ disciples. Maybe what I should say about Peter is he grew up with very strict ideas about what to eat, then got older and saw his life change, especially his diet.
In our lesson, some good Jewish believers wander upon Peter eating at the house of Gentiles . Now one of the significant issues in the 1st Century Church had to do whether Christians should eat meat. The reason this was controversial had to do with its selling in the Roman marketplaces. Roman butchers tended to pray for blessing upon the meat to Roman gods. Jewish Christians would be unsure if this meat was handled in accordance with proper health regulations as laid out in Old Testament books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy. So for Peter going into the home of those Gentiles who didn’t follow the Old Testament dietary laws as he did would have been controversial.
So Peter explains his changed idea over with whom and what to eat to his fellow Jewish believers as such. One day while Peter was praying, he saw a vision. Peter’s vision consisted of a large sheet coming down from heaven containing: ‘four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds.’
The Lord commands Peter: “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
Todd Marinovich was born in 1969. Todd’s father Marv played Football at University of Southern California when they won the National title in 1962. Marv tried Professional Football only to see his career flame out due to over-training and over-eating. Marv then became an athletic trainer.
Marv vowed that his son’s career would be different. When his wife was pregnant, she didn’t touch sugar or salt. When his son Todd was a baby, he only ate: “vegetables, fruits, and raw milk.” When Todd was growing up: he wouldn’t eat McDonald’s, nor touch Oreo cookies. When other children invited him to Birthday parties, he would bring his own cake and ice cream so as not to touch refined sugar or flour. Todd would only eat natural beef and never dare tough store-bought ketchup. By the time, Todd Marinovich was a freshman in High School; his dad’s plan seemed to be working as he was considered to be amongst the top high school football players in the country and would eventually play in the NFL.
Now imagine asking Marv Marinovich if his son can now indulge at the first bit of success in all the foods that he had spent his whole life avoiding? The question would have seemed silly at the time.
Now things were the same way for Peter as the Lord put this vision of the four animals before him: “Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.”
Peter had seen the Risen Lord; he had been tasked to be the leader of the First Christian Church; he had witnessed all sorts of conversions. The last thing, Peter now would ever do would be switching his lifelong diet.
The voice from heaven had to ask Peter four times to change his mind. “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
As soon as this vision ended, it became clear that the Lord had way bigger plans for Peter than what he did or didn’t eat.
Three men soon after the vision ends, come to visit Peter. Peter is invited to the house of a gentile man named Cornelius. Peter could have never imagined that he’d been sitting down to eat and ultimately praying with a Roman solider, but the vision of the four animals changed everything.
Peter began to preach; he saw the Spirit of the Lord come upon these Gentile men like it came upon Peter’s fellow Jews on the Day of Pentecost.
All this happened, because Peter saw it’s okay that he could be a little, less strict with his life-long diet? So much so that Peter ends the lesson declaring: “So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
So what does this all mean to us? It speaks to how we ultimately understand the Christian scriptures. Now most of us in this room have probably enjoyed either Ribs, Bacon, Pulled Pork, Sausage, or Porketta (Leviticus 11:7), Shrimp, Crab, or Lobster (Leviticus 11:9-12) or even touched a football (Leviticus 11:7).
Are all of us hypocrites who are being unfaithful to the Bible for doing so? No, because the point of the Old Testament is to speak to God’s activity within the nation of Israel, this is essential history because it sets the stage for Jesus Christ, whereas the New Testament describes God’s activity through Jesus Christ for all the nations of the earth. The major point of the New Testament is how the Cross of Christ changes everything.
Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the (Old Testament) law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Whether Christians should keep a stringent diet like Tom Ciola, Todd Marinovich, the Seventh Day Adventists, or the Disciple Peter is not the question of their salvation. One’s diet only affects this world concerns it does not concern your standing in the world that is to come.
Let me close with a final story concerning Grandma. Grandma rarely practiced a healthy habit in her life. It was always interesting to have meals with Grandma. She would always eat her dessert first. If her table mate didn’t want her dessert, she’d eat that second. When they’d put meals before her, she’d only really like the meat if it was fatty, turkey she never cared for much. When she wanted me to get her food, it was “McDonald’s cheeseburgers with extra ketchup.” So my Dad wanted me to talk to her about eating a healthier diet, she was like “92” at the time.
I said: “At her age, let her eat what she wants.” When you’re at that point in your life, as the Disciple Peter would learn it’s not your diet that’s going to save you.
One time, a number of years back, I was driving Grandma when she wanted to stop for breakfast. She told me to pull over at a gas station; I asked her what she wanted there, only for her to declare “A Hershey Bar.”
I never saw Grandma eat a cornflake, I couldn’t even imagine her eating something so soggy, yet that’s ultimately alright. Amen
 “Tom CIola.” Fresh Fiction for Today’s Reader. Web. May.9.2019.
 Ciola, Tom. Moses Wasn't Fat. Axion Publishers. 1.Jan.2001. Web. May.9.2019 found on Amazon.com
 Ellerburg, Harris. Review comment for Moses Wasn't Fat published on Amazon on 19th, October, 2010. This was accessed on May.9.2019.
 Washingston Times. “Holy health food.” 29.July.2002. Web. May.9.2019.
 Neary, Lynn. “Bible Bar.” National Public Radio: All Things Considered. 15. Nov.2002. Web. May.9.2019.
 Neary, Lynn. “Bible Bar.” National Public Radio: All Things Considered.
 “Seventh Day Adventist Church.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 9.May.2019. Web. May.9.2019.
 “John Harvey Kellogg.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 23. Apr.2019. Web. May.9.2019.
 Seventh Day Adventist Church.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation
 Seventh Day Adventist Church.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation
 “What does the Bible say about eating food/meat that has been sacrificed to idols?” Got Questions. Web. May.9.2019.
 Acts 11:6.
 Acts 11:7.
 “Todd Marinovich.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 6.May.2019. Web. May.9.2019.
“ Todd Marinovich.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation
 “Todd Marinovich.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation
 Acts 11:8.
 Acts 11:9
 Bratt, Doug. “Acts 11:1-18.” Center for Excellence in Preaching. Calvin Seminary. Grand Rapids, MI. 18.Apr.2016. Web. May.9.2019.
 Acts 11;12.
 Acts 11:15
 Acts 11:17.