*Disclaimer: First Baptist Church is not affiliated with, nor does it necessarily endorse any of the restaurants that are discussed in these posts. These are just the personal opinions of the blog writer and are meant only for information and fun.
Poke Bros. – 2009 Greene St #102, Columbia, SC
When one of my cooler-than-me designer friends breezed through Columbia from Nashville for a visit, she messaged me about meeting up. This is one of those friends who usually tells me where we’re going, which is oddly nice for me since I’m often the one having to decide where to eat. Often she picks somewhere I haven’t been or haven’t been in a long while. She still enjoys the Five Points area, while I often avoid it. Because I’m old. And I don’t like don’t like being irritated. But Five Points has been getting some culinary upgrades and shouldn’t be written off as just the college bar area anymore.
One of the culinary upgrades is Poke Bros., the restaurant where my friend said to meet her for lunch. While I had heard of it and was aware of the premise, I didn’t do my research before and was unaware that there’s nowhere to sit at this restaurant. It’s tucked away in a small space in the building next to Andy’s Deli and near the tattoo parlor. Every dish is to-go. So on this particularly hot day, we had to find a place outside to perch ourselves.
Poké (POH-KAY) bowls are Hawaiian style fresh fish dishes. Think of Poke Bros. as the Chipotle of sushi. You get a base of rice and then top it with fresh vegetable toppings and sauces. The featured component is the sushi grade fish. If raw fish isn’t your thing though, you can get shrimp or cooked chicken. Think of this as a big deconstructed roll of sushi. You go through the line and tell them whatever you want in your bowl and then you pay at the end of the line.
Some folks that I know love this place to no end. They try to eat there at least once a week, if not more. While I like sushi and enjoyed my Poké bowl, I’m a little less enthusiastic. But I’m less enthusiastic about most places that are popular. Take Chipotle for example. There are people who can eat there everyday and swear by it. I could eat there twice a year (or less) and be perfectly fine.
Anyway, Poke Bros. does get the seal of approval. It’s a healthier alternative to that burrito bowl and it will definitely leave you feeling full. I didn’t even finish my bowl, that’s how full I got. It also gives you a clean feeling—fresh food and no grease. So, whenever your doctor tells you that it’s time to take a break from the pulled pork and bacon, give Poke Bros. a try. Your body will probably thank you.
Swallowed Up in a Big Fish
I’m stretching this devotional to make a connection with the fact that I wrote about a restaurant that serves raw fish bowls. I know this. I can’t help myself. Humor me. You know the story of Jonah, right? If not, it’s a really quick story, so read it here. If you haven’t read or heard the story since you were in a children’s Sunday school class, read it again. It starts to take on more meanings than it did when we were children. Here are a few observations that I’ve made from reading this book as an adult that I didn’t catch.
- Jonah seems to know God well. God speaks directly to Jonah and Jonah responds to Him. Even when Jonah runs from the responsibilities that God has given him and God creates a huge ruckus with a dangerous storm to get Jonah’s attention, Jonah is still at perfect peace, able to sleep through the thing until some of his terrified shipmates wake him up. Jonah rises from his slumber and is like, “Oh yeah, you have to throw me overboard to get this storm to stop, so just go ahead and do that.” While he seems distressed about being stuck inside a rather large fish, He never loses confidence in God and His Salvation.
- Jonah is kind of a horrible person. By verse three in this story, Jonah is deliberately disobeying God. He wastes no time at all! One might try to read into this as maybe Jonah was afraid to go to Nineveh since the people were Godless, barbaric, and totally wicked. Usually when you go to a Godless, barbaric, and totally wicked nation and tell them that they are Godless, barbaric, and totally wicked, they try to kill you. Fear is understandable in this case. But fear of death does not seem to be something that plagues Jonah. When he gets vomited out of the fish, he finally does what God wants him to do and goes to Nineveh and tells them that God is going to destroy them. The people quickly repent and God spares their lives. That sounds great, right? Any minister of God would be thrilled to see an entire nation repent and turn to God, right? Not Jonah! He gets angry that God doesn’t destroy them. In his anger, we find out why he fled from God’s orders in the first place. He says that he “knew that [God is] a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” (Jonah 4:2) God’s kindness angers Jonah so much that he asks God to take his life. He’s a hothead and a drama queen.
- God’s love and mercy is infinite. God doesn’t delight in seeing people punished. God doesn’t delight in suffering. Instead He rejoices over changed hearts and is quick to turn away from His wrath when people turn to Him. While Jonah sat back and waited for fire to fall from the sky, God was eager to hold back that fire. While Jonah was filled with anger, God was filled with compassion. Also, God has an extreme amount of patience with Jonah. Jonah disobeys God even though he knows better and God still spares his life. Jonah is angry that God is merciful and God still shows mercy to Jonah, teaching him object lessons instead of raging against Jonah’s hate and stubbornness. God also uses the opportunity of Jonah’s failure to bring more people to Himself by allowing the sailors on the ship on which Jonah ran off to see and know His glory. Never mind the fact that Jonah just doesn’t seem to be that great to begin with, God uses him anyway. This angry man was a prophet! Based on the information that we’re given about him, I wouldn’t want him on my ministry team. Yet, God is always able to take the most unlikely people and the worst situations and still get His will accomplished.
- I’m not that different from Jonah. While I’ve never found myself in the belly of a big fish, I have run away. One time that I remember vividly was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college. I applied to do summer missions, but wanted to stay in South Carolina. I thought that working at a children’s home would be perfect, but there was a position in Kansas doing video production for two months. Everyone said that I should do that. I said that I shouldn’t. I was the only one with prior video experience. I didn’t care. It wasn’t what I wanted. Yet God did. And despite my best efforts to downplay my skills, up play my abilities in children’s ministry, and avoid the whole Kansas thing in missions interviews, it’s where I was placed. While I accepted my fate by eventually going, like Jonah, I wasn’t happy about it. I’m usually afraid of flying, but I boarded the plane sulking, not fearful. God was getting me to Kansas and I knew it. I tried to distract myself with music, but my CD player (this was pre smart phones and mp3 players) broke in the weirdest way once I got on the plane. So I crossed my arms and pouted on the way to Kansas City. I’d like to say that I was a much better person after arrival, but I still had some bratty moments, moments that make me cringe when I look back, moments when I could have been way more compassionate towards the people with whom I was placed. But God still taught me lessons; He still used me after that summer, and He still was merciful towards me. My journey to First Baptist was another of reluctance. When I first had a conversation about working here, I said, “No.” It was tempting, but not a leap that I wanted to make. But a few months later, an opportunity at a different job came around and I thought that I better sit up and pay more attention this time. Even though I miss certain things, this is where I needed to be. God dealt graciously with this stubborn heart to get me here.
So now, I ask, “What about you?” Is God laying something on your heart that you’ve been trying to ignore? Do you struggle with feeling hostility towards those that you should love? Are you running away from the responsibilities of God and right into the mouth of a big sea monster (or something metaphorically equivalent)? If so, see this as a sign, dear friend, to stop running and yield to the will of the Almighty, Compassionate God. You won’t regret it. Take it from someone who knows 😉
Have A Seat At Our Table
Let’s chat! Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below. If you are a church member and restaurant owner and would like for us to come visit your restaurant, e-mail me here. Or, if there’s a place you’d like for us to check out before you spend your money, let us know in the comments below. We want to hear from you!
Hi! I’m April. I work on staff here at FIRST designing a bunch of things for print and Web. I believe that world peace can be achieved over a pan of fresh baked biscuits and everyone coming to faith in Jesus. Ok, really it’s just Jesus, but the biscuits help.