Bread – Mine

May 8, 2017

Psalm 63

O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Ps. 63:1

A few years ago I was in the Texas panhandle during the heavy drought.  There was nothing green for miles.  One place I went struck me particularly hard.  It was a bridge over a waterway which was easily a football field wide, which obviously was designed to cross over a flowing large creek or small river.  There was nothing in this creekbed and there had been nothing in it so long that the ground of it was hard and cracked.  Why was the bridge there?  In times of plenty it was the way across a large flowing stream of water.  In time of drought, it looked odd.

In speaking with a rancher there, he was telling me about the extraordinary lengths he was going through to save his cows, digging deeper wells, bringing in water, and, most remarkably, purchasing hay from Indiana because none could grow on his ranch.

I asked him when and if he would decide to give up and sell out.  He basically said never, because the land was his father’s and grandfather’s.  The land was his and he would not abandon it.

There was an old Golden book I read, first as a child and then to my children.  It was about firemen.  One statement in that book has always stayed with me.  There was a fire and the family was rescued by the firemen.  The family’s house was burned to the ground.  And the family was standing outside looking at the burning house, each of them holding something.  One person, a boy, was holding a pillow.  The statement was something to the effect that “Each of them stood there holding the thing that was most valuable to them.”  I always thought it was funny that someone would hold onto a pillow as their most valuable thing to rescue from a fire.

In the middle of the drought, the thing most valuable to the rancher was his land, because it was “his.”  In the fire, the thing most valuable to the boy was his pillow, because it was “his.”

When will we treat our Lord that way?  When will we so possess Him that He is “mine?”  When will we consider Him so valuable that in the drought, we will take Him as ours; in the fire, we will leave with Him as our most valuable possession?

As I think about that question and look around my home office, I see many things which I might grab if my house were burning to the ground.  Among those things are my laptop computer, my files with important financial information, and my boxes of family history.  Would I care enough about God to take His Word, a Bible, with me?

I like to say that God is mine, just like I am sure you do.  But do we see God as “mine?”  Do we consider our relationship  with Him the most valuable relationship we have?  To we consider His Word to be the only fountain of wisdom in our library?  Do we seek Him in the morning, during the day, and at night?  Do we seek Him in the times of plenty and the times of drought?

If our house caught fire, would He be the first thing on our mind or the last?

As this Psalm shows, there is a whole lot of difference between thinking God is mine and acting like He’s mine, and there is a whole lot of difference between acting like God is mine sometimes and acting like He is mine all the time.

Lord, I know You have made me Yours.  Now, Lord, so increase my love of You that I have made You mine.  Amen.


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




Bread – Iniquity

August 29, 2016

Psalm 32

Bless is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”  Ps. 32:2

This is the last of the three types of sin which the Lord deals with through and in Jesus Christ.  The first one on Monday was the sin of transgression, the idea that we personally rebel against God and His authority.  We transgress God, we personally rebel against Him, every time we attempt to place ourselves above Him or treat Him as our equal or place Him under our judgment and evaluation.  This sin is in the context of our relationship to God and offends Him.  This sin God forgives through Jesus Christ.

The second type of sin we discussed on Wednesday was the one of failing to meet God’s plumb line of righteousness, of obedience to His law.  This is the idea of missing the mark, failing to hit the bulls-eye in archery.   This sin is in the context of our relationship to God’s law, His standards for our lives.  This sin God covers in the blood of Jesus Christ.

The third type of sin in our reading today on Friday completes the trio.  That is the sin of character, of corruptness, of being crooked in our ways and in our walk.  It is called “iniquity” and is often translated simply as “sin.”  This sin is in the context of our relationship with ourselves, where we corrupt the image of God imprinted on us into something ugly, something twisted.  In study, we might call this the fight between the old man (outside of Christ) and the new man (inside of Christ).  It shows up in inconsistency and in doing what we know we ought not to do.

What does God do with this sin?  He ignores it; actually, as the Psalm says, He does not “count” it against us.  Why not?  Because for those who believe in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is counted in place of our own unrighteousness, our own iniquity.  God does not count our iniquity against us because He counts Christ’s righteousness instead.

Our offense against God, our offense against the law, our offense against ourselves – all of these are forgiven, covered, and not counted against us when we believe in Jesus Christ.

So, what’s stopping us?


© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.



Bread – Eat

April 22, 2016

Psalm 16

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”  Ps. 16:5

I have heard it said many times that you are what you eat.  We hear every day from some doctor, nutritionist, book author, trainer, life coach or government official that we will be healthy, wealthy, and wise, if we just eat better – e.g. less saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, refined sugar, processed flour, gluten, salt, caffeine, sugary drinks, diet drinks, and genetically modified foods of any kind.   We hear every day from the same people that we would be faster, have more strength, and have less pain if we but “eat” daily exercise like walking, stretching, running, bicycling, and dance.

Well, here the Psalmist David is saying that he eats of the Lord (“my chosen portion and my cup”) and that, as a result, the limitations of life “fall in pleasant places” and his inheritance, what he ultimately gets as his reward, is “beautiful.”

What David is talking about here is not the beautiful body which comes from good eating and nutrition, which is the outside, but the beautiful soul which comes from making God your chosen meal and drink, which is the inside.  And, of course, what is interesting is that we can make the outside beautiful all day long while the inside is miserable, but by making the inside beautiful we will also make the outside beautiful as well.

How can we tell what we are eating?  By looking at a plate.

How can we tell what our chosen portions are?  By looking at our calendar.  If we consider today (24 hours) a plate of food, how much on the plate is useless to good nutrition of the heart and soul?  How much on the plate lifts up our day by giving us power and energy, and how much on the plate of life brings down our day by giving us more burdens to bear, more worries to fret over, more opportunities for the world to tell us who we are.

We are what we eat.  Psalm 16 reminds us that we should be eating of the Lord and His Word, because by making Him our chosen portion and our cup, we live in a pleasant place, no matter our circumstances, and we have an even better inheritance, no matter what.

So, what’s on your plate?


© 2016 GBF  All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.




Bread – Sense

January 26, 2015

Readings for Monday, January 26, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 48:1-11; Gal. 1:1-17; Mark 5:21-43; Psalms 41,44,52


From today’s reading in Mark: “She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment….and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” Mk. 5:27-29

We are familiar with the five senses of the body – touch, smell, taste, hearing, seeing.

We are also familiar with something called the sixth sense, having to do with our mind telling us that something is wrong although none of our other senses are picking up anything.

I would like to propose a seventh sense – a soul sense. This is the sense that is attuned to God, that lets us know when we are receiving His pleasure and when we have wandered afar from His presence. I propose that it was this seventh sense which is present in our reading today – “she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”

What was her disease? Well, the Bible describes it as uncontrolled bleeding for twelve years. And in one sense a disease is the body not behaving the way it should because it has been thrown off the mark by virus or bacteria, by imbalance in exercise or caloric intake, by some part of the body refusing to work the way it is designed.

But in another sense, disease goes to everything which causes us not to rest. When we are resting, we are at ease. When “ease” is “dissed,” we get dis-ease. Sin is disease and it causes dis-ease. Sin shows up in our bodies as disease which can be cured by medicine, but sin also shows up in our seventh sense, our soul sense, as dis-ease, which cannot be healed by medicine. The dis-ease of the soul which causes the soul sense to behave poorly (showing itself in depression, anxiety, worry, anger, covetousness, jealousy, etc.) can only be healed in one way. You must touch the Master.

That’s it. It is just that simple. First you must hear the story of Jesus, which is the proclamation of the good news by all Christians whose soul sense is working in a positive direction. Second, you must seek Jesus and find Him. But, just like the woman in the story, she did not have to go far because He was right there, walking in front of her. Third, in faith, the same faith which drove you to find Jesus, must cause you to reach out to touch Him. The dis-ease of the soul sense is not cured by thinking about Jesus and it is not cured by reading about Jesus, it is healed by touching Him and, so doing, knowing Him. Instantly, at that point, the soul sense is set on the right path, its compass true.

Does the soul sense often send out warning signals. Of course it does. As we float farther away from the light of the world, our world gets darker. Our soul sense throws off warning signs and dis-ease. If not attended to, the dis-ease will reflect itself in bodily disease and the other senses will start becoming aware of the problem. They may not be able to identify the problem, but they know it is there.

If you are attentive to your soul sense, you know what you need to pray for. The soul sense reminds us daily to surrender to our Christ, to listen to Him, and to follow Him. The soul sense is at peace when you are properly aligned with the author of peace. The soul sense is quiet when you take up your rest under the shelter of the Most High.

Do you feel today that something is wrong, but you don’t know what it is? Maybe it is your soul sense sending you a message, telling you to re-attach to the vine, to reach out to the Lord in prayer, to be still and to know that Jesus is Lord. Of course, some people might just blow it off by saying it is something you had for breakfast which upset your stomach. And if that is what they have been blinded to see, then that is all that they will see.

But you, beloved of the Lord, saved by grace, strengthened in the Holy Spirit, full of wisdom from the Lord, know better. You know that sense of dis-ease arises from your fundamental disobedience to the One who made you. You know that your dis-ease is warning you of sin crouching at the door of your life.

So, when we hear our soul sense telling us something is awry, what is our reaction? Is it to ignore it until our life falls apart? For many that is often the case. Is it to suppress it with worldly wisdom of causation, so that the sense of wrongness is subordinated to the “I would feel better if I ate better” worldly wisdom?

Or is it to embrace the message from the soul sense to return home, to return to the vine, to return to God?

It is Monday, so it is a time to take stock of what we are going to be doing for the rest of the week. What about committing to feed our soul sense by having, this week, a strong relationship with the Master. What about praying instead of reading about prayer? What about telling people about Christ rather than reading about evangelism?

What about just taking the time to touch Jesus? The woman did and she was healed from top to bottom. We can too and in the process remove the dis-ease from our soul sense and begin improving our life.

Does this make sense, soul sense? If so, then let’s do it.


© 2015 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


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?


© 2014 GBF

Bread – Gong

February 18, 2013

Readings for Monday, February 18, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 63:1-6; 1 Tim. 1:1-17; Mk 11:1-11; Psalm 89


The gong has always been an interesting instrument to me. It is the instrument of entrances and exits. A gong would often be used to introduce a king or some other potentate as they entered the room. It is an announcement – “Wake up! Someone important is coming close!” It is also the instrument of exits. In this respect, “The Gong Show” comes to mind, as some hapless would-be entertainer is gonged off the stage to the boos of the audience.

But the gong, particularly the big ones, also create a visceral reaction, a reaction deep in the recesses of our soul. It is almost like there is a sympathetic vibration which is taken up, begun by the gong but ended by the bodily response. It is a basic reaction, so fundamental that, although we are aware of it at one level, that level is beneath our consciousness. We cannot “think” a gong; we can only experience a gong.

In a sense, truth has that same gong-like effect. When someone speaks the truth, your ears perk up, your eyes turn toward the speaker, and you have a visceral, fundamental reaction of “yes.” Oh the mind may rationalize away the truth or corrupt it to the particular need of the day, but we “know it when we hear it.” We do all those things which humans do – we ignore it, we submerge it, we disown it, we twist it, we flip it, we complicate it – but at the end of the day the gong in our soul vibrates because it has been touched by God (God being the source of all truth).

You notice that I have said nothing of feeling good. Feeling good and sensing the ringing of the gong, the vibration of truth, in our soul are two different things. The fact is that the gong noise can hurt and the truth which the gong heralds can be bitter to the taste. Truth and feeling good are disconnected events. Truth and the sympathetic vibration in our soul when we are properly aligned with God are connected events. The healing nature of truth may bring, ultimately, good feelings, but truth does not begin pain-free.

So what does any of this have to do today with our readings? My “gong” moment this morning was with the first verse of Psalm 89: “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations.” Ps. 89:1

What got me about this verse is its double meaning. One way of reading it is me-focused – “I…forever; with my mouth … to all generations.” The other way of reading it is God-focused – “…love of the Lord, forever; … Your faithfulness to all generations.”

Will I really speak of God’s love forever? Will I really speak to all generations about His faithfulness? I would hope so, but it will be in heaven because my time is finite. However, the Lord’s time is not finite. His love really does last forever. His faithfulness is really to all generations. Gong!

One way we read Scripture exports us to God. The other way we can read it imports God into us.

Are we taking the time to savor the sound of the gong in our soul? If not, maybe we should ask the question of whether we are in the business of exporting our thoughts to God or importing His truth to us.


© 2013 GBF

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