Consuming the Bread of Life

Today I preached from John 6, specifically verses 22-58. It is a wonderful text and one that is truly vital for, I think every believer in Jesus, and certainly me. It has been an encouragement in my walk and pursuit of Christ.

The text has a confounding bit mixed in with some amazing theological encouragements. The declaration that the Father gives those that believe in Jesus to the Son and those that come to him will never be cast out. What grace, what joy to be included in this number.

The confounding piece though is that Jesus tells the crowd that is seeking after him that they need to eat him, consume his flesh, drink his blood.

Now the crowd did have some mixed motives for tracking Jesus down and attempting to force him to give them miraculous food. Just the day before he fed more than 5,000 and they sought more free lunches. But they were after temporary things and Jesus was set to provide something permanent and satisfying. Himself.

So he says that he is the Bread of Life. He is the sustenance, the provision, the life-giving portion for those that believe.

For those that reject Christ, this is a good place to throw a punch. The Savior claims you have to dine on him.

Of course when we have a fuller view of what took place during Holy Week, the death on the cross as foretold and the resurrection, we gain an understanding of what Jesus meant. That he must be seen, trusted, and pursued as the only thing, One that satisfies. That meets the internal desire for more. And that trust is in his body broken for us and blood shed to cover our sin and disregard of our creator.

This is then what we consume. A steady and daily diet of reminder of what Jesus accomplished for us. That we have been forgiven and called to life in him. That what aches in us is only satisfied in him.

As we head into Holy Week (the days leading up to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday) perhaps John 6 is a good place to linger. To meditate on Christ’s words and his promise. That we would consume the Bread of Life.

Roots over Reach to Eventually Reach

The reach of a tree depends on its roots. Choose roots over reach.” Karen Swallow Prior


A few weeks ago my wife was cleaning or just moseying about when she bumped into one of our house plants. I love house plants. My desk is a miniature jungle and while we are not the best at keeping things thriving we give it the old college try.

When she made contact with the plant she noticed that it strangely moved. On closer inspection, the plant seemed to be rootless and not tied to the soil. It was without an anchor in a ravaging world of dogs, active Children, and a woman who dusts. It was befuddling because without roots surely a thing which is a plant must be dead. This plant, however, had the green appearance of life while actually producing no flower or other sign of life.

Thinking likewise of the church or even one’s faith, it must have roots to absorb nutrients, to sustain life and to grow.

As a small church pastor, I can get so wrapped up in a “blooming” church or the desire for a significant reach that I neglect the roots. The long process of being settled dug deep into the rich soil of the Biblical gospel and grace drenched community. It is the roots that determine the reach. And even if something seems to have broad leaves, without broad roots, it may be dead.

The stronger the roots are, the more sunk down into Jesus we are, the more likely we will go further.

We hate it though because we want results now, line items to prove and donors to appease. But life is in the roots. It is from them that fruit eventually comes.

May we sink the roots deeper that we would be truly alive and not just in appearance only.

Jesus. People. Place.

As I continue on this journey of life and ministry I was reminded this week that our posture in building a church, discipling those around us, and sending people out to do the same must be founded in and focused on three things. Jesus. People. And Place.

Jesus

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:2–5 (ESV)

Gospel-centered, Christ-centered, Jesus people, pick your description, Christians are meant to be “all about Jesus.” Paul says it here reminding believers in Corinth that that is all he offered, Christ and him crucified. A finished work of the cross. A Savior who died for us. Then the rest of the New Testament keep rolling with the same point.

As we preach him, as we center our life around him, he works, the Spirit empowers us and faith is birthed in us and those in our hearing.

The implications are broad but they are all a narrowing to that which is most important in the life of a believer and the church, Jesus.

People

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18–20 (ESV)

While the introverts among us might prefer the Christian life just be “me and Jesus” he actually makes us part of a family or other people that trust in him. And the purpose of that family is to serve as ambassadors for Jesus, God making his appeal through us. Imploring reconciliation to God.

While it is easy in the Evangelical world to recognize the need “over there,” awash in statistics of unreached people groups, most likely God has surrounded you with people he loves and desires to call his own. So as you cling to Jesus, you notice the people around you and you love them as you have been loved.

May the Lord increasingly give us a vision for how much he loves the people we come into contact each day that we would implore them to reconciliation.

Place

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,” Acts 17:26–27 (ESV)

Finally, God in his sovereignty has put you in a place. While that place may change over time, while you are there you are meant to recognize your placement, proclaiming Jesus to the people there, and endeavoring for the good of that city (or town or borough, etc)

In the exile, God would tell his people to labor toward the prosperity, or flourishing of the city they were in. As those living in boundaries determined by God claiming it as our own, becoming a champion of “local” for the good of the people around us that they might meet Jesus.


For me, this works out as a steadfast determination to know nothing but Jesus as I preach, have conversation and disciple those in our church, Reservoir. It also means I want to clearly see they image-bearers around me and reveal my own need for Jesus that they would recognize theirs. All while loving the place I live, where I am called (Escondido is my hood).

It also means that members we encourage, leaders we train and residents we prepare to send out all have to be conditioned likewise, to be about Jesus, People, and Place.

Are you down?

Worthwhile February 15, 2019

Do you have a Valentine’s Day hangover? Feeling loved and noticed or lonely and hopeless? At either end of the emotional spectrum, and in every spot along the way, the love of God is poured upon your heart by the Spirit (Rom. 5), may you feel that today as you trust in Jesus for all of life.

A few items to share this week that could all be filed under false teaching/ heresy. Each informing us toward clarity and clinging more tightly to the biblical gospel of grace.


Jared Wilson has an article on For The Church where he outlines key differences between biblical Christianity and Mormonism. While the recent tactic of this man-centered religion is to claim being Christian, their doctrinal beliefs makes that an impossibility.

Wilson gives a good starting point to recognize the difference and still love Mormons with the hope of Christ.


From the vault, as recent as December, Christianity Today highlights some new research that points out the link between pursuing “health and wealth” spirituality and actually feeling worse about life. This is the false gospel that says God wants you to be rich and without problems. It ignores so much of the hope found in the New Testament in trusting Jesus through troubles and usually has a swindler telling you God will heal you if you “plant a faith seed of $1000…”

New research suggests that Americans with poor physical health and low socioeconomic status are particularly inclined to look to the Bible for insights into attaining “health and wealth”— an aspect of prosperity gospel teaching—even though doing so often ends up making them feel worse.

God still heals, but you can’t buy it and when he does it is for his glory. Read more on the research here.


And to close us out this week, a new video clip from the Gospel Coalition with Francis Chan sharing why the Prosperity Gospel is unhealthy.