Bread – Counterfeits

October 31, 2014


Readings for Friday, October 31, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 13:1-10; Luke 12:13-31; Psalms 40,51,54

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Today is Halloween. Among other things, it is a day when people dress up in costumes, to appear and act as someone other than themselves. It is a time for the timid person to become a pirate, the thinking person to become a ghoul or a goblin, the unbeliever to become an angel, the mean person to become Snow White, and the college professor to become a farmer with a pitchfork. At Halloween, those who participate become someone who they are not; they become counterfeits. The person looking like a pirate is not a pirate; the person looking like an angel is no angel. They are counterfeit reproductions of the real (or imagined) thing.

Boy, being told you are a counterfeit angel sort of takes the air out of our wings, doesn’t it?

We live with counterfeits all the time. People who pretend to be friends but who are not. People who pretend to like us but do not. Actions stated to be out of love really being actions taken out of desire for higher position. People who pretend to have wisdom, but have none. People who pretend to represent God, but really represent themselves.

The question we need to ask ourselves every day is simply (and harshly) – are we a counterfeit Christian? Do we say that we love Christ, but do not. Do we say that we pray regularly, but do not. Do we say that we trust Jesus Christ, but show more trust in our retirement account than we do in the God of the universe. Do we say that Christ is the Way when asked by our pastor, but then teach our children that there are many ways to heaven?

We often act like a bad example of a Christian, even though we know in our hearts that God is working a miracle in us, that He has saved us, that He sustains us, that He helps us grow in our walk with Him, that we are slowly transforming our mind through Him and His Word, that we are slowly growing from strength to strength. So what is to separate the truly counterfeit from just the bad example?

In our reading from Revelation today, there is a Halloweenish beast presented to us. “…and they worshiped the beast, saying ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” … And the beast as given a mouth to utter haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority …Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them…[A]ll who dwell on earth will worship it …” Rev. 13:4-8

The beast is seen by the people as having divine powers because of his authority and speech and power. He is a counterfeit messiah, even going so far to pretend it was resurrected from death from a mortal wound [“One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.” Rev. 13:3]. To many people, he is a type of messiah, but we know that he is a counterfeit messiah because there is only one, Jesus Christ.

We can be fooled by counterfeits, and in fact many people follow the beast. They see what they want to see.

The Christians, however, in the midst of this do not fall for the counterfeit. “…and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Rev. 13:8

There will come a time and it may well be around the corner when the beast appears and makes war against the saints. The saints will be killed, tortured, beheaded, stripped of power and secular authority, imprisoned. The counterfeits will follow the beast; those whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life “before the foundation of the world” will not.

Instead, the real Christians who live in those times will persevere, saying prayers and songs similar to what is given to us today in the Psalms. Listen to the Psalmist today from Psalms 40, 51 and 54:

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction … and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! Then I say, ‘Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.’  As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (excerpts from Psalm 40)

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight…  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.  O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (excerpts from Psalm 51)

“O God, save me by Your name, and vindicate me by Your might.  Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.  I will give thanks to Your name, O Lord, for it is good.  For He has delivered me from every trouble…” (excerpts from Psalm 54)

Can a counterfeit say and mean these things? No. But a bad example can. Why? Because God saved us by His choice, by His grace. He did not save us because of who we are but because He chose to do so.

Thanks be to God!

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Rules

October 29, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, October 29, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 12:1-6; Luke 11:37-52; Psalms 49,53,119:49-72

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In our reading today from Luke, Jesus has something to say to the Pharisees and then he turns His attention to the lawyers – “And He said, ‘Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear…Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key to knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’” Luke 11:46,52

Now some might think it is time for a lawyer joke, but it is not.

Lawyers are very knowledgeable about the rules and our ethics and training orient us to obedience to the rules. The rules (the law) are everything – if you get the rules right and your opponent does not, you often win. Why follow the rules? Because that way you can be winners (the right way).

“If we just follow the rules we can be winners” is almost hard-wired into everyone’s minds (except criminals and sociopaths). So, why is Jesus saying “woe “ to the lawyers.

I think the key to understanding Jesus’ anger is locked up in the phrase “For you have taken away the key to knowledge.” What is that key?

To answer that question we first have to ask about the kind of knowledge being spoken of. We tend to think of knowledge as “book learning,” something we get in school, something we get through reading and studying. However, knowledge also comes from experience. When we experience someone crying, we gain knowledge about pain. We gain knowledge by direct experience (having pain ourselves) and vicarious or indirect knowledge, through experiencing the life of someone else. When we read about it, it is book knowledge. When we see it, it is experiential knowledge.

The Greek word used for “knowledge” in the Luke passage is the word for experiential knowledge.

So, to paraphrase Jesus, “Woe to you lawyers because you have taken away the key to experiential knowledge.”

What is the key to experiential knowledge? Experience – doing things, being in relationship, seeing and hearing and touching. Whereas book knowledge touches the brain and may sometimes penetrate to the heart, experiential knowledge touches the heart and may penetrate to the brain.

We do not learn about humility by reading a book, but by experiencing the negative effect our pride has on our world around us. We do not learn about charity by reading a book, but by giving generously of what we have and by receiving generously of what other people give. We do not learn about love by reading a book, but by loving and by letting ourselves be loved. We do not understand a sunset by reading about a sunset but by experiencing a sunset.

This discussion is not intended to say that experience is the only thing that matters because it is not. God’s revelation to us is also contained in His Word written, Holy Scripture, and our desire to be obedient to our Savior and Master should drive us to reading, digesting, discussing, and meditating upon His Word written.

However, Christianity is not and never has been about head knowledge. It is about facts, yes. Our Lord was born, grew up, preached, died, was resurrected, and ascended. And we know from Scripture that He will come again. The past are facts. The future is hope based upon faith, facts, and God.

But “knowledge” in Christianity is experiential. We love God because He first loved us. We love Jesus not only because of the historical facts but because of the reality of the relationship with Him in our lives.

We are saved not because we have followed the rules, because as sinful people we cannot follow the rules (we can and should try; but we cannot ever be 100% perfect). We are saved because Jesus wrote our name in His book, because He raised us up from being dead in our sins, because the Holy Spirit has come to empower us for daily living.

There is a funny thing about Scripture, and that is that is both book knowledge (I read it) and experiential knowledge (as I read it, the Holy Spirit lets us “see” how it applies in our lives, resulting in changed behaviors).

If all we are doing is following the rules, if all we are doing is reading Scripture as a novel or for further rules about how we are to live our lives, we may be a lawyer. What is worse, if we are teaching others, leading others, serving as an example to others, we may in our earnestness as lawyers be taking away the key to knowledge.

The key to knowledge, experiential knowledge, is not in the rules … it is in Jesus. To obtain that knowledge, we must have a relationship with Him.

How does that occur? Not by following any set of rules or rituals or magic words or actions. It comes from a turning of the heart away from ourselves toward the Creator of the Universe and having faith in Him.

It is that simple and that hard. And isn’t that the nature of the two types of knowledge. The knowledge from books is complex but can be mastered. The knowledge from experience is simple but hard to do (and really can never be mastered). A book can be read in isolation. Experience requires you and someone or something else. Books are clean; experience is messy. There is safety in rules; there is danger in change. Reading a book only requires trust in me; living an experience requires trust in others.

This is why lawyers can take away the key to knowledge. We can create rules which create boundaries of safety, clarity, certainty, and predictability. And living within those structures will deny you the knowledge from experience you need for true success. For that, you have to step out into the unknown, into faith. But that is where life is. That is where hope is. That is where Jesus is. That is where eternal life with the Father is.

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Unknown

October 27, 2014


Readings for Monday, October 27, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 11:1-14; Luke 11:14-26; Psalms 41,44,52

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Sometimes calamity falls upon us and we know not why. Oh, we know we sin, sometimes grievously, despite our best efforts and despite our desire to please God. And we know that our worship is not what it could be or should be, given our rescue by Jesus from eternal death. But, we have Jesus Christ as our Savior, and for that reason alone we know that we are accepted by God the Father, in spite of the filthy rags of our sin. So, why does calamity befall us? Is it because He is displeased, because we have done something wrong, because the rituals have not been properly performed, because we don’t have an “attitude of gratitude.”

Our reading from Psalm 44 today addresses this question. An excerpt: “O God, we have heard with our ears…what deeds You performed in their days…You are my King, O God;…for not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But You have saved us from our foes…we will give thanks to Your name forever. But You have rejected us and disgraced us…You have made us like sheep for slaughter…All this has come upon us , though we have not forgotten You, and we have not been false to Your covenant. .. Awake! Why are You sleeping, O Lord?…Why do You hide Your face? … Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of Your steadfast love!” Ps. 44:1-26

Psalm 44 reports that they were doing everything right – they remembered God, they followed God, they honored God, they listened to God, they gave thanks to God, they trusted in God rather than themselves. And, in spite of all this, calamity falls upon them and they know not why. The Psalm ends with a please, “Rise up; come to our help!” And yet there is no evidence in this Psalm that help ever came.

From our childhood, we remember asking questions of our parents and finally eliciting from them the answer to end all questions – “because.”

Calamity befalls us and we pray to God, “why, why, why.” And there is no answer, there is no response. There is silence. At this time, we must either conclude that God is remote, is gone, does not care, or conclude that He has His purposes which are unknown to us because we are not Him. In the first instance, we demand to be God and to know what is going on. In the second instance, knowing that we are not God, we must increase our faith, because there is no rational reason upon which we may stand. And who knows, maybe increasing our faith is the whole point.

But we do know this – we are not in the same boat as the Psalmist. He ends Psalm 44 with this plea: “Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!” Ps. 44:26b

We do not need to end our prayers this way because Jesus has redeemed us by His death on the cross; He has paid the price we could not pay for our sins. Jesus was sent to earth by God the Father out of His steadfast love for us, redeeming us with His life. So we do not need to ask God to redeem us from our circumstances because, for those whose faith is in Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed for eternity.

We have been redeemed from certain death into certain life, not because of who we are but because of who He is.

The Psalmist wanted to be redeemed from his dire circumstances, from all of the calamities which had befallen him and the nation Israel. In spite of the calamities which fall upon us, from war to sickness to poverty to homelessness to pain and loss, we have been brought out of the calamity of life and placed in the kingdom of God.

There are really two unknowns here. The first is why we can believe, worship, act, and speak from the best motives and hard things, calamities, still strike us. The second unknown is why God would have such love for us that He has redeemed us, in spite of ourselves. Of course we know the answer … because.

We didn’t like that answer as children and we like it even less as adults. But it is the answer … God knows because He is God; we don’t know because we are not. The unknown of God remains a mystery to us, and it will remain a mystery. However, we know that Jesus was born, died, resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven. Why? To save His people. Why? Because God loves us. Why? Because.

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Vessel

October 22, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, October 22, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 8:1-13; Luke 10:17-24; Psalms 38,119:25-48

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From Revelation in Scripture we read today: “”And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints … Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth…” Rev. 8:3-5

A censer is a vessel, designed to hold what is put into it and to release its contents at the right time and in the right manner. The vessel itself is neutral. When incense is put into it to mix with the prayers of the saints, blessings follow. When fire from the altar is put into it, curses follow.

This reminded me today of the vessel we call our brain. When it is filled with Scripture, faith, and desire for God, blessings follow. When it is filled with the hollow musings of this world, curses follow.

This also reminded me today of the vessel we call our body. When our body is filled with obedience to the ways of God, blessings follow. When sin takes over so that we follows the enticements of the world, curses follow.

We know that the brain is corrupt from birth because of the sin of Adam, but we can replace its contents with good music, good reading, Scripture, prayers to God, answers from God, and right thinking. Or we can just leave its contents where we find them, slave to the world and to sin.

But there is a subtlety in today’s reading that I initially missed, but is really the essence of what it means to be a Christian. In the first instance, when the censer was filled with incense, the angel “was given much incense.” The source of the incense, of the good things to fill the vessel, did not come from the angel, it came from ‘another.” Since the angel was standing at the altar before God, I think it is a fair conclusion that the source of the “was given” was God Himself.

On the other hand, the source of the fire, the censer contents to destroy the world, was the angel himself – “then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire…”

When we focus on this, the conclusion is too huge to ignore. When the vessel is filled by God, there are blessings. When the vessel is filled by the angel (by man), there are curses.

Isn’t this really the message of Christianity. For ourselves, we will build idols which suit our fancy, listen to preachers who will tickle our ears, read books which reinforce our faulty ways, and succumb to the world’s enticements. But God Himself sent Himself to die for us that, by His power and grace, we might through confession, trust, and belief have eternal life. When God fills us with Himself, empowers us with His Holy Spirit, feeds us spiritual food through His Word written and incarnate in Jesus Christ, blessings flow. When we fill our own vessel in our own power, we fill it with fire to destroy us and the world we live in.

So, pretend you are the angel reported in Scripture today. You have your body, your mind, your soul … which is your vessel. Do you take what God gives you and fill your vessel with God’s gifts, adding them to your prayers in worship of Him who made you and saved you? Or do you fill your vessel yourself, full of fire and destruction?

God gives us the vessel. What we fill it with today either comes from God or from the world. The stuff of God is different from our stuff. What will you choose to fill your vessel with, today and for the rest of your life?

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Am

October 20, 2014


Readings for Monday, October 20, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 7:1-8; Luke 9:51-62; Psalms 9,15,25

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In today’s readings from Scripture, we are confronted with the difference between “I will” and “I am.” This is always used in the context of what is going to happen next or is happening right now. For example, with respect to breakfast, we would say “I will eat breakfast [tomorrow]” or “I am eating breakfast [now].” The “am” is immediate; the “will” is future. When I am doing something in the present, I “am” doing it. When I intend to do something in the future, I “will” do it.

In our reading in Revelation today, the four angels are standing at the four corners, holding back the four winds. They “are” holding back the four winds from destroying the earth and the sea. Another angel tells them “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God …” Rev. 7:3. From this passage we understand that the four angels “will” release the winds and harm the earth, seas, and trees, but right now they “are” not doing so until an event occurs. Upon the occurrence of the event, the “will” changes to “am,” and then something happens.

In today’s reading from Luke, Jesus differentiates between those who ‘are” His from those who “will” be His. In doing this, He essentially says that there is no “will” in the kingdom; there is either “am” or nothing. The passage most clearly demonstrating this principle is “Yet another said, ‘I will follow You Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:61-62

As Christians, we live much of our lives in the “will” rather than the “am.” We “will” pray for our friends, rather than actually pray for them right then. We “will” worship on Sunday, rather than worship right now. We “will” give tomorrow rather than give today. Built into every “will” is some form of a condition … if I live, if I am able, if I want to, if I have to, if, if, if…. The “am” has no condition to it, because as soon as you say it you are doing it. With the “am” there is no difference between the future and the present, because the future is always the present. The “will” is a promise; the “am” is a fact.

Are we fit for the kingdom? How much of our attitude, our intent is “will”-driven as opposed to “am”-driven?

Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Is your answer “I will” or “I am?”

Do you love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and soul? Is your answer “I will” or “I am?”

When God calls us in whatever way He does, is our tendency to say “I will once I get my affairs in order” or “I am in spite of my affairs being in disarray?”

The commitment God demands of us is now; we want to defer our response to the future.

God says that when we put it off, when we make it conditional, when we adopt the “I will” approach to Him, we are not fit for Him.

Think for a minute about how difficult it is to say “I am.” To say “I am” to God means that every bit our my agenda is out the window, everything I care about takes second fiddle, my wants and desires become irrelevant. If I am really going to say “I am” to God, it must be the absolute subjection of myself to my master. How difficult is this? It is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit.

To proceed from “I will” to “I am” is nothing we accomplish on our own; it is impossible on our own. It can only be done by a power greater than us, by the one and only “I am” – God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So if I have any chance of saying “I am” it is because “He is.”

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Declare

October 13, 2014


Readings for Monday, October 13, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Micah 7:1-7; Acts 26:1-23; Luke 8:26-39; Psalms 1,2,3,4,7

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The Gospel of Luke today informs us about Jesus’ encounter with the man possessed by many demons, whose name was “Legion.” This is the event where Jesus told the demons to leave the man, but they begged Him to let them go into the herd of pigs, which He did. The pigs then ran into the lake and drowned. The people were afraid of this great work of God in their midst, and asked Jesus to please leave. The man who was healed of demons instead asked Jesus whether the man could stay with Him. Jesus’ response was to the point – “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” Luke 8:39.

There was a great miracle performed in this man’s life by God, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. And notice that there were three reactions by the people involved.

The first reaction was the one we see today in secular society about how they deal with Christians — “Please go away and take your Christ, Holy Spirit, prayers, blessings, miracles, hope, and love with you. We don’t understand who or what you are and we don’t want to. Thinking about the things of God and Jesus Christ give us a headache.”

The second reaction is that of the man who, after being healed, clung to Jesus. We have seen people like this and maybe we have been or are one ourselves. Our desire is to hold on tight, not let go, sit under the wings of God, lay in His rest, soak up His blessings, be with Him all the time. We might think of this as being on the mountaintop.

But Jesus did not let the man stay there and He will not let us stay there. He said to the man, “Go home.” Go to where you live, work, and play. Go to your family. Go to the familiar. Go into the world.

And, once you are home, remember the good works which Jesus has done in your life (He is the one who throws out the demons so that the man may come to understand what is real and Who is God).

And “declare how much God has done for you.” Declare, speak out, pronounce, explain, tell, state. To whom? To those at home, in your neighborhood, in your workplace, in your various groups and among your friends. What about? “How much God has done for you.”

How much has God done for you?

Are you declaring it?

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Positions

October 8, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, October 8, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Micah 2:1-13; Acts 23:23-35; Luke 7:18-35; Psalms 128,129,130,119:145-176

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Our readings today from Scripture struck me as somewhat disconnected until I realized that they really speak to positions we have in life and how those work themselves out in God’s plan. Sometimes positions are called roles or titles. There are many positions we have in life, and in a way our Scriptures today speak to all of them.

In Micah, there are at least three positions spoken of – leaders, family, and preachers. Micah speaks about all three of these in the negative – people using their position to cause harm or to have harm visited on them by their position. With respect to leaders, Micah says “Woe to those who devise wickedness …because it is in the power of their hand.” Micah 2:1. The reason we know he is talking about leaders is because of the reference “it is in the power of their hand.” Of course, this is true of any person in a position of authority, and so could refer to an elected government official, a president of a company, a boss, or even a father or mother. With respect to the position within a family, Micah reports that, just as the family might benefit from the leader’s abuse of authority, so will they be punished along with the leader at the time of reckoning. (see Micah 2:3).

With respect to preachers, again Micah refers to leaders of the church (synagogue) who would use their positions of authority to preach untruth, saying that people who “devise wickedness” will take preachers who state “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink.” Micah 2:11. Before we start laughing, imagining our preacher telling us that wine and strong drink are beneficial for us, isn’t this a form of “name it and claim it” or “prosperity gospel” which thousands of people are flocking on Sunday to hear from the pulpits of progressive churches?

In Acts, we pick up the story of how Paul ultimately reaches Rome. He has been threatened by a plot to kill him, and, because Paul points out that he is a Roman citizen (a position), he has been put into protective custody and rushed to the Governor to determine his fate. Paul is a preacher, a follower of Jesus, a man, a Pharisee (by training), and a tentmaker, but it is his position of citizenship which becomes important. As a citizen of Rome, he has certain rights and, at an appropriate time, he stands on those rights.

In Luke, we see a dialogue between John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ. John, in the position as questioner, asks Jesus who He is. Jesus responds by pointing out all the ways He has fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and lets John work it out for himself based upon the evidence. But Jesus also says that John is the messenger, the forerunner, prophesied in the Old Testament, to come before Jesus and “prepare [His] way before [Him].” Luke 7:27.

But Jesus then says this: “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28

Think about this for a minute. John and all the prophets and the leaders are born of women, and John the Baptist, the prophet of God who was the advanced messenger for Jesus Christ is the greatest. And yet, as great as he is and was, the believer in Jesus Christ who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than John.

You see, in our lives there are only two positions which matter. We can be great leaders or followers, of the basest or the finest character, and be on the side of John (the Old Testament, with its righteousness gained through works, through obedience to the law) or Jesus (the New Testament with its righteousness gained through the finished work of Christ on the cross, reborn through the Holy Spirit into belief in Jesus Christ, transforming our minds through His word written and made flesh).

Our position is either Christian or not. Those are the two positions which matter. One is life and eternity in the kingdom. The other is death and judgment when the time comes. One is received by the power of the Holy Spirit and the other is earned by “good” works, the best of which are filthy rags before a holy God.

Two positions which matter. One in Christ and the other without. In what position are you … really?

____________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Winds

October 1, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, October 1, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Hosea 4:11-19; Acts 21:15-26; Luke 5:27-39; Psalms 101,109,119:121-144

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In our reading from Hosea today, there is a useful phrase – “A wind has wrapped them in its wings…” Hosea 4:19

Not only is this phrase poetic, it is visual and practical. You can just see the fingers of the wind blowing here and there, wrapping themselves around us, comforting us, supporting us, calming us, and even caressing us. Who has not thought or dreamed about being carried upon the wind from one place to another? Isn’t that what hot air balloons are about?

What winds have wrapped us in their wings today?

Maybe it is the wind of fear, wrapping us and enveloping us in a brew of suspicion, concern, and distraction. We here about new diseases, one of which has just come to our city, and the winds of disease and destruction swirl throughout the news media and our conversation, wrapping us up in today’s disaster.

Maybe it is the wind of work, wrapping us and enveloping us in a brew of busyness and business, wrapping us up in the wings of economics, jobs, money, position, activity, and “achievement.”

Maybe it is the wind of new ideas from the mind of man, wrapping us and enveloping us in a brew of self-satisfaction, intellectual treats, educational snobbery, and “thoughtful” pursuits.

In Hosea, it was the wind of whoredom which has wrapped Israel in its wings, sending Israel into both spiritual adultery (where idols made by man become more important than God) and physical adultery (where man’s conduct devolves into immorality and satisfaction of base passions).

We know as Christians that the only wind we should have wrapping us up in its wings is the wind of the Holy Spirit, the breath of life, the power to engage the world without becoming polluted by the world.

And yet, what wind do we let wrap itself around us? The wind of change, the wind of politics, the wind of activity, the wind of intellectual curiosity, the wind we create ourselves, the wind that others create for us?

It is Wednesday and the week is half over. What wind have you let envelope you this week? What wind will you let cover you this week going forward?

You know, my earlier reference to a hot air balloon sticks with me. Man makes the balloon and he makes the hot air which fills the balloon. When filled with hot air, the balloon will carry the man over far distances, limited only by the amount of hot air the man can generate from his machines. When the hot air runs out, the balloon lands on the ground and the trip is over.

But when we fill our spiritual balloon with the wind of the Holy Spirit, where can we go? To infinity and beyond, to eternity. Will the wind of the Holy Spirit go away? No (We might fail to use it; we might even fail to see it, but the wind of the Holy Spirit remains.)

So, ultimately, there are two winds which can enfold us. One is from God and the other is of the world, of man, of Satan. One is the breath of life, and the other is the wind of idolatry.

Both winds can fill our sails, but one sustains us on the journey of life and the other on the journey of death. Which wind will you let wrap you in its wings today?

____________

© 2014 GBF

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