Bread – Idols

September 6, 2017


Psalm 81

O Israel, if you would but listen to me!  There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.”  Ps. 81:8b-9

What got me thinking about idols this morning was actually not the quoted verse above, but actually the title of the Psalm – “…according to the Gittith of Asaph.”

Now there is nothing about idols in this title; really all it is an instruction about how to read or sing the Psalm, the word “Gittith” likely meaning something musical.  However, the oddness of the phrase got me to thinking about how we are always referring to oracles of modernity as authoritative, as if they somehow had something to say worthwhile.  For example, when Tom Cruise speaks, many people listen because, after all, he is a successful actor.

If we are not very, very careful, when we place undue authority in a person or a document, we are lifting that person or document up as an idol as much as if we had a totem in our house surrounded by candles.  When we place the word of the preacher over the Word of God, we are raising up an idol.  When we place the Declaration of Independence over the Word of God, we are raising up an idol.

And this is what strikes me about our reading today.  One way to read this is to think of two complete thoughts.  The first is a lament “O Israel, if you would but listen to me!”  The second thought is a command “There shall be no strange god among you…”  And we might be inclined to read it this way because the two sentences are separated by an exclamation mark.

But another way to read it is as a continuous thought – “O Israel, if you would but listen to me there shall be no strange god among you…”  If…then.

If we but listen to God, if we read His Scripture, pray to Him, listen to Him and follow Him, if we worship Him … then our likelihood of following idols is greatly diminished.  But, if we are not engaged in God’s Word, are not testing our thoughts against His thoughts and our actions against His desires for us, if we are not listening to Him, then the chances of us chasing after idols is greatly enhanced.

Are we today preoccupied with listening to our oracles of the day, following the trail of fame, fortune, and futility, ever-engaged in the climb up the ladder?  What idols have we hooked onto?  What idols do we worship?

The answer to the idol problem is not in obeying God’s rules but in listening to Him.

What time have we spent today in listening to God?  How does that compare to the idols we are listening to?

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

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Bread – Prey

August 2, 2017


Psalm 76

Glorious are You, more majestic than the mountains of prey.”  Ps. 76:4

What are the “mountains of prey?”  In my Bible, there is a cross-reference to Nahum, a “minor” prophet whose book I admit I have never read.  Like a dictionary, this cross-reference is not much help, being a reference to Nineveh (Assyria) and this statement – “Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions.  I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard.”  Na. 2:13

In our way of thinking, the word “prey” is something or someone who is attacked by a predator.  So between the murderer and the victim, the victim is prey and the murderer is predator.

So, since nothing in my Christian library helps me understand what “mountain of prey” is, I translate it roughly as a “mountain of things I chase after, I hunt for, I run down to the ground.”

And what are those things?  What do we chase after, hunt for, and run down to the ground?  What about the idols of this world?  Don’t we hunt for prestige, for honor, for glory, for a “special place,” for money, for wealth, for power, for position, for influence, for respect, for love?

And, indeed, all those things we search for on a regular basis, ready to capture them and put them into our storehouses, create a mountain to climb every day.  If we are not more cunning, our opportunity will be lost to someone more aggressive.  If we are not more assertive, our desired position will go to someone else.  If I don’t save my money, I won’t have enough to withstand those who would take it away from me (through selling me things I don’t need, etc.).

We chase our mountain of prey every day; we attempt to climb the mountain of what we want out of life.

There was (maybe is) an old video game called “Super Mario” where this guy, who looked like a worker, ran, jumped, twirled, and walked, a lot uphill, through all kinds of obstacles and dangers, to get his “prizes,” which included “gold coins.”  It wasn’t until I was thinking about a mountain of prey this morning that I realized that is what Mario was doing in that game, chasing his prey up the mountain … and that is what we do.

But God is more majestic, more glorious, than that mountain of junk, of idols, we chase after.

And of course He is.  This “mountain of prey” is nothing more than a “mountain of ….. dashed dreams, broken promises, faulty gods(idols), selfish ambition, spent time on things  which will pass away.”

We will spend hours today chasing our prey and climbing the mountain of prey.  But how many minutes will we spend chasing the One who is “more majestic?”

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

Bread – gods

March 29, 2017


Psalm 58

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?  Do you judge the children of man uprightly?  No, in your hearts you devise wrongs…” Ps. 58:1-2a

To some extent, we are victims of our particular Bible translations.  Today is an example.  In the ESV translation, the Hebrew word is translated “gods.”  In the NIV, it is translated “rulers.”  In the NKJV, it is translated “silent ones.”  The problem is that the literal translation of the Hebrew word actually used is “muteness.”

Rather than consider this a barrier to understanding, I think that such multiple interpretations or translations actually help us to see deeper into God’s revelation, and to realize that words and meaning are not flat and poor, but are multi-dimensional and rich.

If we were to think for a minute about some of our major barriers to effective Christian engagement with the world, what would they be?  Top of the list probably would be our seeking after other gods, other idols – money, honor, power, respect from the world, our selfish selves.  Perhaps second on this list would be how we actually rank the importance of people in how we actually conduct our lives – us first, family second, others third, God fourth.    And then third on this list would be our chronic view that God is not really present to the point we have to pay attention to Him; our perspective that God is mostly silent in our lives.

And all these concepts are wrapped up in our interesting Hebrew word today.  There is the concept that there are many gods, many idols.  There is the concept of these gods as rulers of our lives.  There is this concept that these “gods” of our lives are our bosses, our political leaders, our captains of industry, our significant others, our “leaders.”  There is the concept that these gods keep silent when maybe they shouldn’t, in our view.

At one level, David is addressing mere people who think they are gods and lord it over the rest of us, misjudging, and devising and implementing a litany of wrongs which we must suffer under.  At another level, David is addressing the idols of power and money (the values of the world).  At another level, David is addressing the forces which we think of as gods, as having power over our lives.

But, unlike us sometimes, David is not thinking of these gods as “God.”

Do we organize our lives in such a way that God is one of many gods for us?  Do we give Him even as much attention as we give our boss at work?  Do we organize our day around Him or around them?  Are our emotions wrapped up in God’s truth or the whispers of the other gods in our life?

If the gods are silent, do we think of God that way?  If the gods are noisy, do we think of God that way?  If we listen to the lies of gods, are we made clean?  Do our gods offer us eternal life, or merely existence in time?

The gods may instruct us to be silent in the face of evil, but God says otherwise.  The gods may tell us to fear the evil day, but God says otherwise.  The gods may be silent, but God is not.  The gods may be confused about their names and character, but God is not confused about His.

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?  The answer to that is “no.”  Do You indeed decree what is right, God?  The answer to that is “yes.”

If what I said is true, then why do we pay any attention to “gods” at all?

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Reliance

May 29, 2015


Readings for Friday, May 29, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 5:1-22; 2 Cor. 4:1-12; Luke 16:10-18; Psalms 31,35

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In the last two weeks, I have seen a friend find out that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer when he went to the doctor because he was just not feeling well. Another friend has lost his job for no good reason except for a change of management. Bread has not come out for the last two weeks in substantial part because my e-mail “broke,” and when it became “unbroken” two months of e-mails had disappeared. Another friend has, in the last three days, had four major appliance-systems in his house fail. A client has been flooded from the rains.

All these disasters have given me pause to think about how much I rely on – my health, my wealth, the Internet, the weather, and, finally, my gadgets.

And when those things fail I find that my reliance on them rests upon a crumbling foundation. I cannot rely on my health when it has failed; I cannot rely on my wealth when it has disappeared; I cannot rely on good weather when it turns bad; I cannot rely on my gadgets when they don’t work; and, finally, I cannot rely on the Internet or my e-mail or any other kind of technology. It all disappoints, falters, and finally fails.

And yet isn’t it sort of a sad statement on me and everyone else for that matter that we rely on what fails all the time, as if it won’t fail. I know they will fail but I rely on them anyway – doesn’t that seem like some form of foolishness?

The truth is that I probably, if I admit it, rely more on my dishwasher than I do on God. The dishwasher fails and God does not, but I rely on the dishwasher more often and more consistently more than I do God.

Our money says “In God We Trust.” Really? Isn’t it true that we trust first in ourselves, in our thoughts and ideas, our inventions, our tower of Babel than we trust in God?

What will carry us through this storm of failures – failure of health, wealth, weather, friends, ourselves, our gadgets, our technology, our education, our science?

The answer is nothing will carry us through the deadly tornados of life except for Jesus. I would say “that’s it” but that would be an untrue statement, because Jesus is not a “that,” He is not a philosophy or an idea or a man-made invention; He is He. So what I should really say is “that’s Him.”

Our reading today from Corinthians says it all – “We have this treasure [Jesus Christ, the Lord] in jars of clay…We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair …” 2 Cor. 4:7-8.

I have to admit that when I was afflicted with the loss of my e-mail, my first tendency was to be driven to despair as I spent hours trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together. It was only when I focused on Him and not me that I realized my reliance had been misplaced.

It’s Friday and all week long I (and I’ll bet you as well) have been relying on our health, our wealth, our education, our talents, our friends, the Internet, and our gadgets … and what has it gotten us except to the end of the week, barely, maybe. Maybe, reflecting on that, I (and we) can begin relying more regularly and completely on the One who can and does bring us through adversity into life, here and forever tomorrow.

There was a good friend of mine, now dead, who always prayed before he started his car that it would start and prayed before he hit the garage door button that the garage door would open. Now, me, I’ll just go start the car and hit the garage door button, in total reliance that they will work. But I think my friend got it right – why rely on what will fail and instead rely on who does not?

A thought for the day as I go and start my car. Will I rely on the car to start or Him? I don’t know. Old habits are hard to break. Thank God He is patient and that He does not fail, even though I do.

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Decision

April 22, 2015


Readings for Wednesday, April 22, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Dan. 5:1-12; 1 John 5:1-12; Luke 4:38-44; Psalms 38, 119:25-48

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In our reading from Daniel today, Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, has taken over rule of Babylon. In the preceding verses, Nebuchadnezzar is prideful and is brought low by God, only to be restored to his kingship by God after Nebuchadnezzar “lifted my eyes to heaven … and praised and honored Him who lives forever…” Dan. 5:34

Now King Belshazzar knows this history, but behaves sinfully anyway. He has a party for 1,000 men and takes out the gold and silver “vessels” which had removed from the Temple in Jerusalem by his father. He then drank wine from what had been consecrated to God and he and his fellow revelers “praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.” Dan. 5:4 In other words, King Belshazzar and his friends worshiped everything that the world offered and not God. We end today’s reading with the hand of God writing Belshazzar’s future on the wall.

In another reading from today’s lessons, Jesus in Luke is reported as follows: “Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.” Luke 4:40

What do these verses have in common. Each involves an individual, a single person, making a decision for himself or herself. Belshazzar could not rely upon the faith of his father Nebuchadnezzar, but had to learn history for himself and make his own, individual, decision about whether he would worship idols of his making or God. Likewise, each person who came to Jesus for healing made an individual decision to come; he or she may have been helped by their friends, but there is nothing in the passage to suggest that these friends brought the sick to Jesus against their will. The sick came voluntarily to Jesus for healing.

In the study notes in the ESV Bible I am using, it is noted that Jesus could have healed everyone at one blow with a single word, but that He did not. Instead, even though the sun was going down and time was running out (electricity was still to be invented), Jesus “laid His hands on every one of them [individually].”

We make our decision to worship our idols or God individually. No one makes us make that decision. History may point the way to a good decision, but it does not dictate the decision. We make the decision to acknowledge God as an individual, detached from our history and, quite frankly, our future. Our decision to follow God rather than the world is an individual decision made, in one sense, once for life and, in another sense, daily as we choose to walk in obedience or not.

Likewise, our understanding that we are sick is our understanding, not someone’s understanding for us. As a parent, we may teach our children, we may show our children, we may pray for our children, and we may even coerce our children – but the decision to realize that I am sick with sin resides with me alone. The decision to go to Christ for healing is an individual’s decision, not a group decision.

And isn’t it amazing that our Savior takes the time to heal us individually, that His decision for us is not as a group but as an “I.”

We like to hide our decision-making in groups and committees. There is safety in group decisions because the individual cannot be wrong.

But the decision to follow God, to admit sin, to accept forgiveness and mercy is not a group decision and never will be. I cannot choose for you. You must choose for yourself.

So, we can try to hide behind our family, our community, our friends, our co-laborers at the workplace, in committees, groups, and clubs – but the decisions that matter our each individual’s decision. You may be helped by friends, but they do not and cannot make the decision for you.

So, as we sit here in the middle of the week, what is your decision today? Don’t look around…just look in the mirror. And answer the questions. Who or what do you worship today? Are you pumped up in pride today or sober in assessment? Will I seek to be healed or just talk about it? Are you ready for Jesus to touch you?

What can you do today? Anything you want. What should you do today? Follow Jesus. What will you do today? It is your decision, so only you know.

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Adultery

March 6, 2015


Readings for Friday, March 6, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Jer. 3:6-18; Rom. 1:28-2:11; John 5:1-17; Psalms 72, 119:73-96

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From our reading today in Jeremiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? … Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.” Jer. 3:6-9

How does a nation commit adultery with stone and tree? Both represent worship of idols, gods of our manufacture which are not God. Both represent nature, the created as opposed to the Creator. So, one possible interpretation of this passage is “the nation Judah committed adultery with its idols.”

“Adultery” in the ordinary use of the word means sex outside of the marriage relationship.

In the broader definition, “adultery” is ignoring a covenantal relationship (marriage) in favor of satisfying self-desire (or lust). You can see, therefore, where this has potential huge meaning in our lives. In fact, in this broader definition, we commit adultery all the time.

Since this is Lent and a time for reflection upon our lives and our loyalty to our Savior, Jesus Christ, perhaps we should mediate further on all of the different ways we commit adultery. It first begins with identification of the people or organizations with whom you have contracts or covenantal relationships. Perhaps it is God. Perhaps it is with a spouse. Perhaps it is with a friend. Perhaps it is with work (employment contract). Perhaps it is with a customer or a client. Perhaps it is with a partner in business or other profit or non-profit enterprise.

Once you have identified all of these relationships, then it merely becomes a process of thinking about each person and asking yourself what you have done to ignore, bypass, defeat, or otherwise harm that relationship. In asking yourself what you have done, you will also answer the third question, which is with whom have you committed and are you committing adultery?

When we raise up an idol which we worship and follow, whether it be some other person, wealth, position, power, or some other object or objective, we are committing adultery with that idol because we have abandoned the relationship we have with God.

So, do you find yourself in the midst of adulterous relationships, following idols of man’s invention rather than the God of the universe? If so, Jesus has a question for you in today’s reading from the gospel of John: “Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6

If you want to be healed, Jesus says to you just like he said to the invalid at Bethesda, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” John 5:8 Through faith in Jesus’ authority over sickness, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the man stood up and walked.

For Christians who sin, the answer to shedding that sin and living in victory is the same answer given to the invalid by Jesus: “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” Walk away from your adulterous relationships. Flee sin. Abandon unrighteousness. Not in your own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit applied in your life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Easy to say. Hard (and really impossible for man) to do. That is why we need supernatural help. “Lord, I need to be healed. I believe; help me in my unbelief. Come, Holy Spirit.”

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Affluence

February 23, 2015


Readings for Monday, February 23, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 8:11-20; Heb.2:11-18; John 2:1-12; Psalms 41,44,52

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Affluence, wealth, stuff. I have heard a saying that anyone born in the United States has won the worldwide lottery. And to a great extent the saying is probably true. Even the poorest among us generally have drinkable water, regularly operating electricity, a place to stay, clothes, transportation and roads to drive on, telephones, television and food. There are many places in the world where many of these things either don’t exist on any regular basis or where they are reserved to the wealthiest of society.

We are wealthy and, because we are wealthy, there is a new argument which is coming up in criminal cases – the “affluenza” argument. This appeared in our own backdoor in Fort Worth this last year, when a teenager argued that he should not receive jail time for killing four people while he was driving when drunk because, to paraphrase the defense team, “he was brought up in an environment of considerable wealth and privilege, in which his parents did not place limits on his behavior, and he therefore did not know that his actions had consequences.” Using this argument, he avoided jail time.

Where are we when we can say with a straight face – “It is OK to be immoral because we are so wealthy that we no longer know what the word “immoral” means.” “It is OK to live by the base standards of our sinful nature, as a sacrifice of self on the altar of self, because we are so wealthy we don’t know any better.”

And, yet, before we react by saying, “No, we don’t think or act like this,” look around.

We have a warning in Scripture today about the disease of wealth, its corroding nature. The writer of Deuteronomy says:

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God…, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart will be lifted up, and you forget the Lord you God, who brought you out of the…house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness…who fed you in the wilderness…Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” Deut. 8:11-18

Beware the wiles of wealth! Beware the pride which comes from looking around at nice cars, big houses, running water, air conditioning and heat, plentiful food, money in banks and safes. Beware, beware, beware!

In this season of Lent, it is appropriate I think that our meditation begin with this question – “Lord, how has my wealth blinded me to You and yours? How has my wealth kept me from loving You? How has my wealth kept me from loving my neighbor?” And then we need to meditate on this question – If the Lord reveals the nature of the impediment and how it is negatively affecting your walk with Christ and your fruit in the world, what are you willing to do to remove that impediment?

Can we who are wealthy really ever say that we will follow Jesus regardless of the cost? I know some people who have … but I also know many whose wealth is a snare and a heavy burden they willingly lift up upon their shoulders every day.

In Deuteronomy, does the Lord tell them to get rid of the wealth which the Lord Himself has bestowed upon them, the wealth which God has given them the power to obtain? No, He doesn’t. However, He does say that the great tendency of wealth is to cause us to forget what God has done for us, to forget that He is the source of all and is to be honored above all, and to follow after other idols of our choosing – generally idols designed to bring us more wealth.

Has affluenza so overcome us that we forget Who we were saved by and Who gives us the life and blessings we so enjoy?

A worthy question this Monday morning. Has affluenza overcome me and, if so, what damage has been done? Fortunately for us, there is no damage done which God cannot repair and He is mighty to save. The only real damage is the damage which is not recognized because we believe that we are blinded by our wealth and forget our God.

How has my wealth blinded me?

Let us begin with this simple test…At the very beginning of this Bread, there is a listing of Scripture from the Book of Common Prayer assigned to this day. Before you read Bread, did you read these Scriptures? Did you pull your hard copy or electronic Bible off its virtual wall and read what God has to say before you read what I have to say? If not, why not? Is it because you don’t have enough time … because you need to get to work so that you can make more wealth?

How has my wealth blinded me? My hunch is that the answer to the preceding simple test has already exposed the answer.

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Substitutes

December 17, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, December 17, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 9:8-17; 2 Peter 2:1-10a; Mark 1:1-8; Psalms 49,53,119:49-72

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From our reading in Isaiah today, the following: “…who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.’” Isa. 9:9:b-10

Perhaps our lives are cut down by illness. We then say to ourselves, ‘Through hard exercise and a better diet I will improve my health and be even better than I was before.’ Perhaps we have lost our job or find ourselves paid or treated inappropriately. We then say to ourselves, ‘Through hard work and using my friends and family and broader network, I will improve my economics and life by finding me a better job.’ Perhaps we have suffered from some kind of addiction. We then say to ourselves, ‘I will raise myself from this muck by keeping to the straight and narrow, by following the plan, and by avoiding triggers and people and situations which are not good for me.’

Every one of these situations is a problem in life. And our responses are not bad – surely it is better to rise to the challenge rather than sulk in defeat!

But Isaiah warns us about something – does this self-improvement effort arise from “pride and arrogance of heart” or does it proceed from obedience to God’s commands and in reliance upon His grace, wisdom, power, and love? The actions may look the same to an outside observer, but the effort based upon self-will soon falters and withers because in our own power we are weak, but the effort based upon God’s direction and support in our lives will succeed (maybe not on our timetable or in the way we think is right, but will succeed nonetheless).

When we substitute our efforts and plans for God’s efforts and plans, we have chosen a poor substitute. If we have been commanded by God to build a house of bricks and we choose instead to build it out of dressed stones (a superior and prettier product, to be sure), we have chosen a poor substitute. When we substitute our goals for God’s goals for us, we have chosen a poor substitute.

Why do we pick a poor substitute over a better? We cannot hide behind the excuse that “we don’t know better,” because God through His Word has shown us better. Maybe it is because we really don’t trust God. Peter has something to say about that in today’s readings – “…the Lord knows how to rescue the Godly from trials.” 2 Pet. 2:9

Indeed He does. Indeed He has.

So when are we going to stop replacing the real thing with bad substitutes?

Let’s begin today!

____________

© 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

Bread – Deeds

February 26, 2014


Readings for Monday, February 24, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Prov. 3:11-20; 1 Jn. 3:18-4:6; John 11:17-29; Psalm 106

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Today’s Bread is very simple and very hard. From our reading today in 1 John, we see “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth… And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God, and God in him.” 1 Jn. 3:18-19, 23

Real love, placing another’s interest above our interest, laying down our life for another, is accomplished in the doing, not the saying.

We say we love God, but what have we done to love Him? Have we read His Word, spoken with Him, worshiped Him, communed with Him? We say we love God but how many minutes have we spent and will we spend today in doing it? To be blunter, beginning with the time you read Bread today and looking backwards to the time you woke up, how much time have you invested in doing things today with God?

We say we love our spouse, but what have we done today to love her or him? How much have we done without telling them? Have we served them or ourselves? Have we talked to them (beyond mere exchange of information about schedules), have we walked with them, have we waited on them, have we lifted them up in prayer, have we voluntarily and with gladness of heart done their chores?

We say as Christians that we love our neighbors and then, of course, get into arguments about who our neighbors are. But let’s just keep the discussion to the people who live next door to us, our so-called “next-door neighbors.” What have we done for them today? Did we pick up their paper while we were picking up ours and put in on their porch? Did we weed their garden while weeding ours? Did we speak a word of blessing or even “good morning” to them? Do we even communicate enough with them to know if they are even home, if they are sick, or if they need something from the grocery store?

The fact is that, if we were to closely look at what we do, we would discover a great deal of love – for ourselves.

The problem not that we don’t love God or others, but that we love ourselves more. When we give away our money, it is “our” pot of gold which is being diminished. When we give away our time, it is “our” day which is being used up. When we give away our efforts, it is “our” energy which is being consumed.

How do we bridge that gap between words of love and a life of love? It is not enough for us to look to ourselves first, because we are empty of ability to love anyone but ourselves. And is not enough to look toward others, because they are as broken and incapable as we are. It is enough that we follow the command of God – “And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another…” 1 Jn. 3:23

How do we get from talking to doing? By first believing in the reality of Jesus Christ, in “His name.” Once that happens, we receive the Holy Spirit and gain not only the desire to love but the ability to love.

But, you say, I believe in Jesus Christ, have the Holy Spirit, and still only talk about love. Well, for those of my friends who like guns, you will understand this analogy. The Holy Spirit is like have a love gun in your gun safe. You can talk about your love gun all day long, but you actually have to practice using your gun to learn to shoot it. And, after you have practiced a while, you can hit what you are aiming at. If your love gun shoots love bullets, by practicing using the gun you will become adept at shooting those love bullets into the situations and people who need them.

To do love you have to practice doing love.

But, if you are Christian, you have the tools to do it. Just take them out of the tool bag, use them, and then let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest.

Do it!

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© 2014 GBF

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