Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Baking Bread…again

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:35-40

Growing up in small West Texas towns, I came quickly to understand where bread came from: the grocery store.  On many occasions, my mother would hand me a little money and tell me to hop on my bicycle and run to the store for milk, or meat…or on occasion, bread. 

No one I knew…(or at least no one I was aware of) BAKED bread…everyone BOUGHT bread.  That’s where bread came from: grocery stores. …Well, actually, I knew that it came from the bread factory.  As I have recounted before to you, early in my school years I went on a class field trip to the Mrs. Baird’s bread factory in Abilene, Texas and got to watch bread go from bags of flour to hot steaming slices of buttered bread.  So, I knew where bread came from. 

But that isn’t the whole truth is it?  Bread didn’t always come in colorful plastic bags on brightly painted trucks to the waiting shelves of the local grocer.  In simpler times, bread dough was painstakingly prepared by mothers and grandmothers (and no doubt by not a few fathers and grandfathers as well), allowed to rise, and baked in the ovens of local homes.  THAT’S where bread came from…you made it at home!  And if you were out of bread, it was because YOU hadn’t baked any.  There was no running to the store, you ran into the kitchen and got busy!

Well, somewhere in the early 1900’s large factories began cranking out loaves of bread by the thousands.  And while home baked bread wasn’t eradicated by any means, it was certainly becoming less and less an American way of life.  So, there I was, a child of the 1970’s riding my bicycle to the store again to fetch another bag of bread.

Recall with me, if you will, the advent of the automatic bread machine of the mid 1980’s… Do you remember these?  What amazing wonders were they?  Many of us still have them.  As I remember the process, it was possible to put the dry ingredients and the water in the machine (keeping the yeast away from the water), set the timer, and go to bed.  At some point during the night, the machine would wake up and while you slumbered, IT made the bread.  You could awaken to the smell of freshly baked bread…and you had done relatively nothing in order to have it!  Pour in the dry ingredients, add water, mash the buttons, go to bed…BOOM bread in the morning.  What a life!

BIG TRANSITION…Don’t let me lose you here…

Of himself, Jesus said: “I am the bread of life...  As followers of Jesus, it occurs to me that much of what we are to be doing in life is emulating the life, love, and compassion of our Lord Jesus.  For the sake of this devotion and the point I wish to communicate, I would like you to consider our daily lives…our individual pursuit of Jesus, and our personal growth in the Christian faith as “baking bread.”  It occurs to me that the ingredients of this fresh bread we are to be baking would include our personal prayer time, our reading and contemplating of the Holy Bible, as well as our corporate worship and study at Church. 

In living and practicing our faith actively, we are reproducing the life and example of Him who is “the bread of life” in what we do and say, how we love, act, and react.  We are, if you will…baking bread!  Think about that for a moment…

So, if we aren’t…well, baking fresh bread…the bread of life…living actively as Jesus daily.  If we are leaving the business of baking bread up to those large factories and spiritual grocery stores that we call churches…then the art and ministry of “baking bread” while not eradicated by any means, is certainly becoming less and less an American way of life.  Did you follow that?  We are to be baking bread…AT HOME, in the kitchens of our own heart, and personal life.  Our family is to feed on that bread! We are to take the extra bread of life that we produce and feed the spiritually starving of our neighborhood…of our work place… of our circle of friends!  They NEED the bread of life too!
Granted anyone may at any given time pick up a Bible and read for him or herself about our Lord Jesus.  But most of us don’t stumble into the kingdom of God accidently.  We are LED there intentionally by God fearing men and women who are baking bread daily in their living and pursuit of Jesus.  They helped us catch a smell of the bread baking in our kitchens and we were drawn in for a sample!  Right?  Listen, this is not the will of God for our lives…that we should leave the baking of bread up to professionals in big buildings…Oh, there is good bread to be found there to be sure.  But we are to return to our own kitchen and stir up the aroma of fresh bread baking there…again!  And let us not allow easy patterns of speech and trite spiritual truths to become a spiritual bread machine in our lives.  Others might be impressed that we can produce bread quickly and easily with our little machine, but we would know the truth…that we have not taken the time to measure out the scratch ingredients…work the dough with our own hands, and watch it carefully as it bakes.  Let our faith baking be that of sincere preparation and attentive execution as the need is great…and many are so very hungry!


Almighty God, awaken the bakery of my heart!  Stir into fire the oven of my faith where I have allowed it to grow cold and unused. Help me…inspire me, fill me this day what you would have me exhibit, live, say to, and share with others as I go about. Let my life be the aroma of fresh baked bread again!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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