Staple Food

I am the bread of life.  Of more than 50,000 edible plant species in the world, only a few hundred contribute significantly to human food supplies. Rice, maize and wheat comprises two-thirds of human food consumption. These three are the staples of over 4 billion people. Staple foods vary from place to place, but typically they are inexpensive or readily available foods that supply one or more of the three organic macronutrients needed for survival and health. Although corn is the US’ largest staple today, in ancient Palestine, wheat was quite significant. We read a lot of stories in the bible about wheat as well. These simple words “I am the bread.”; perhaps at that time may have seemed confusing to some, but it makes sense today. Thank you God for being the staple part of our every day diet, the essential and un adulterated nutrition for our every day living. All we have to do is is make the decision to eat.

Then What?

“Teacher, what good deeds must I do…?”  Matthew 19:13-22  This discourse reminds me of a an exercise I participated in while at a business conference. We were asked to find solutions to a problem by continually asking the question; “Then what?”  The rich man in this passage seems to play this game with Jesus until he gets an answer that leaves him silent. “Sell your possessions, give the money to the poor…then come follow me.”  Perhaps he should have stopped at just keeping the commandments. We all get to a place in our lives where we want to move forward until we realize in order to do so we have to let something go and the trade off is scary. Then What? Of course like the rich man, Jesus also gives us something to consider. When we are willing to let go of the thing that holds us back, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience God’s love and faithfulness as something greater than all our fears.

Making Room For Faith

“You lack one thing … sell what you own and give the money to the poor.” Mark 10:17-31  You never know how attached you are to something until someone asks you to give it up. But to give something up means you now have room in your heart for something else. The rich man in the passage asked for eternal life but he didn’t realize that eternal life didn’t need his treasured possessions only his faith. Jesus encourages us, to not be found lacking! Make room for faith and have treasure in heaven.

Triumphal Entry

Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me, or the hand of the wicked drive me away. Psalm 36:5-11 The “leaders” did everything they could to keep Jesus from making his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Bu his entry wasn’t about being a fearless leader of the people of Israel. It was about being undeterred in God’s will and purpose for a people he loved. Our triumph is in moving forward in the journey – physically and spiritually, with the confidence in knowing that God’s love is greater than our fears and that like Christ, we are moving from death to life.

For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!  Hebrews 9:11-15

Fashion Of The Week

…work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. John 6:27-40   There’s a scene from the Soul Musical “The Wiz” in which the Wizard of Oz constantly changes his mind about the color of the day. Instantly as he changes his mind from green, to red, and then gold, the outfits on the citizens of Oz would change. After feeding five thousand people, the crowd that follows Jesus to Capernaum, wants more food but perceiving their heart, he urges them to understand that “food” is not the priority today nor will it be necessary for “the end of days.” It’s Jesus’ way of saying don’t just fall for the “fashion” of the week or even the season. These things go as quickly as they come; sometimes overnight (like the Wizard in Oz)! Through Christ, God has given us that which is eternal, a spiritual home overflowing with enough love (spiritual food) to continually fill an eternal number of people.

Boldness And Intentions

‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Mark 10:17-31 

I remember the first time I met Maya Angelou. I don’t remember the exact question I asked her but it was something along the lines of “What must I do?” However, what I clearly remember was her answer “read.” I have to say at the time I was a bit perplexed on one hand and disappointed on the other. “Read what?” Why hadn’t I asked her something else? Maybe she would have given me something I could use. Today of course I read all the time but thirty plus years ago I only read out of necessity. It’s no wonder I was perplexed. Consequently, for some time I dismissed the advice of someone I still admire today. The old statement about being careful of what you ask for is very important in today’s gospel message. You’re not always going to like the answer that you get, particularly when the answer requires you to do something you don’t really want to do, regardless of how simple or complex. So, you go about finding other solutions to your quest, never fully fulfilling your desire.

The man in the gospel reading called Jesus “Good Teacher.” So we can assume that he valued Jesus’ authority. However, when he was advised to sell everything he had, he was left perplexed and discerning his true desire for eternal life. Honestly for me, asking us today to sell everything we have seems drastic and extreme. This is one of several events where Jesus advises drastic actions, including cutting off body parts (Matt. 5:30) and leaving the dead to bury the dead (Matt. 8:20). But I really believe Christ makes the point that no obstacle tangible or intangible should come between our desires to be in relationship with God. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12). If we are bold enough to ask the question, we must be bold enough to accept the answer that challenges our commitment to God’s will. “Follow me.” Sometimes that means we have to let some things go completely. When we do, God’s graciousness rewards us a hundredfold in this life. Yet with the persecutions we will have to endure, the greater reward is eternal life, that being the assurance of God’s presence with us today and the life to come.

Hebrews 4:12-16 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 

Do This

Remember my life! Remember my death! When people we dearly love die, these are the two things we remember most about them; their life and their death. We remember how they impacted us in their living and we remember the sorrow of hearing that they had died. We do this even for people we simply admire, like Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King among many others. As we move on, we often take on some part of that person in our own lives so that some part of them moves on with us. Hopefully it is a good part. When Jesus started saying to his followers “I am the bread of life.”, many claimed it was a difficult teaching and some turned away. For us today I believe it remains an invitation to carry Jesus’ life, death and resurrection with us as we move forward in our own life. If we can do this in our remembrance for the people in our lives that we love so dearly or simply admire, how much more should we as Christians desire to do this with Christ? Perhaps it is overwhelming to eat all of this bread in one day, but if we eat what we can to sustain us for each day, will we not be sustained every day for life?

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

John 6:51-69 …”the one who eats this bread will live forever…The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

The Vine Connection

If in fact eternal life is our goal it seems to me that we must first understand what eternal life really means for us. Based on what I have come to understand about those individuals whom we’ve read about (Abraham, Moses, and the prophets etc.), all had direct relationship with God, I recognize and believe that eternal life for us today is synonymous with eternal relationship with Christ. The cleansing words of Christ in John’s gospel make it very clear, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”  The purpose of this is to leave little room for anything else to take root in our lives that might influence us away from God. By definition, to abide is to continue or remain in a particular condition. Thus to abide in Christ is to remain in relationship with him in order that we may bring forth the fruit that is God’s love. Every relationship is potentially a branch to God’s love. As long as we abide in God’s love, we as believers strive to continue in this world as Christ is in this world. If we lose connection with the vine then every branch (relationship) we have, potentially loses connection through us. The life of the vine is  what gives us hope. Stay connected to the vine!

Walking with God

The moment we decide to accept Christ in your life the quest to walk in God’s peace becomes a lifelong endeavor.

God commands us to love one another. The first letter of John in fact tells us that everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love – does not know God because God is love. I find however, that the walk with God often seems so abstract – and – set apart from the physical reality of life that we live on a day-to-day basis. What runner runs a race without first knowing the specific goal or having a particular purpose? I use the term runner not only to refer to a physical track race but also to represent every facet of life; education, career, or project of any kind, that has a starting point and an ending point. (But) As you can see, to use the terms start and end already contradicts abstract. So the moment we begin and accept Christ into our life and make the decision to walk in God’s love, we soon realize that while our physical beginnings will end and begin again, we are all always striving towards a goal that has no end. This leads me to ask the question, that although this journey involves interacting with the physical, why do we forget that the goal (eternal life) is never ending?

Treasures Of The Heart

Lent: Day 32 – If we only see Christ from a physical point of view, we will never fully understand who God is. A wealthy man walks up to Jesus and asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Jesus gives a physical answer to a physical question. From the story we know that the man has followed the law (Commandments) and yet he asks what else must he do. Perhaps, he recognizes that his soul is not fulfilled yet the wealthy inquirer becomes saddened when he is told to sell all that he has to achieve the one thing that he believes he doesn’t have. This story is more about our relationship with God than it is about sacrificing the physical things we possess. In this physical life, when we really want something for our selves or the people we love, we will make sacrifices. How much more are we willing to sacrifice, if our true desire is eternal life? What the wealthy man doesn’t realize is that the reward for living a righteous life is life itself and not the things we possess in it. What is the righteous life? Love God and love neighbor as self. Possessions come and go, but love endures forever.

Mark 10:17-31 ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

2 Corinthians 3:7-18 Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory… how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? …Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.