Food Bank Epiphanies

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The last two months I’ve been the recipient of some reasonably heavy lessons of understanding. I was just standing in line at the food pantry. I’m learning more here than in my Biblical Doctrine class my first year at Bible college. Amazing! But again, maybe not.

My 10 Commandments of the Food Pantry

  1. Jesus has a special connection to the poor among us.
  2. The needs are tremendous as many lack food. (This may be a new concept for some.)
  3. The Church has the mandate and potential to meet these needs.
  4. What the government does is often just confusing the real issues.
  5. The stigma in receiving food seems to be temporary.
  6. Understanding and wisdom are more important than the box of food.
  7. People will stand in line for a long time to help their families.
  8. Most people are nicer than they used to be by going to the food bank.
  9. Some people’s abundance should be given away.
  10. You can never have too many boxes to use to carry stuff (and avoid the milk.)

What is worked inside is far more than what we get standing in line. Many things can happen once humility and need does its work inside. There is a powerful comradeship that can develop. Strangers become friendly when they are in line. There is a kind of a mutual understanding that proceeds out of poverty, and takes root, and spreads.

I honestly believe the distribution of food is only the secondary benefit. I really think the spiritual work is the new found work done in people’s hearts. There should be a dignity that saturates this work.

The Church Leader’s Ten Quotes on Giving

  1. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.   Amy Carmichael
  2. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.  C.S. Lewis
  3. The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.   Corrie Ten Boom
  4. Get all you can, save all you can and give all you can.   John Wesley
  5. Christian giving is to be marked by self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness, not by self-congratulation.   John Stott
  6. God doesn’t look at just what we give. He also looks at what we keep.   Randy Alcorn
  7. Our giving is but a reflex of God’s giving.  Sam Storms
  8. God made all of His creation to give. He made the sun, the moon, the stars, the clouds, the earth, the plants to give. He also designed His supreme creation, man, to give. But fallen man is the most reluctant giver in all of God’s creation.   John MacArthur
  9. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.   C.S. Lewis
  10. I will place no value on anything I have or may possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ.   David Livingstone

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God’s Hamburgers

 

 “So the people left the town and went to see Jesus.

 31 Meanwhile, his followers were begging him, “Teacher, eat something.”

 32 But Jesus answered, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

 33 So the followers asked themselves, “Did somebody already bring him food?”

 34 Jesus said, “My food is to do what the One who sent me wants me to do and to finish his work.  

John 4:30-34, NCV  

  

 Jesus was amazingly attractive to people.  With an almost magnetic pull, they were drawn to Him.  He connected to each one in a powerful and intimate way.  In our time, and in our way,  Jesus continues to have this incredible appeal.  People are quite attracted to Jesus, and continue to be. They deeply respect and esteem Him. They maybe turned off by the Church, or by doctrine, but they are amazed by Jesus.
  
As disciples, there was a general consensus that Jesus had become a little too popular–to the extent that He wasn’t taking care of Himself.  The thought was that He need sustenance–calories, they hadn’t seen Him eating.  They were concerned that Jesus was “spreading” Himself far too thin.  But this concern was not valid.  Jesus tells of His “food” that the Father was giving Him.  Nourishment was something that Jesus didn’t have to worry about.  The Father took responsibility for Jesus’ hunger.  And Jesus trusted His Father implicitly.
 
***

Often our physical needs become our central issues, taking a consistent center-stage.  We start to make eating to an fairly elevated importance. We aren’t just eating, we become gourmets. We will follow Jesus, but only if we can bring our refrigerators.  It may seem subtle, and unimportant, but our stomach can be diverting.  Our appetites subtly encroach on God’s claim on our lives.  The story of Esau in the book of Genesis is a warning for us today–he traded his birthright for a bowl of savory stew.

Whenever Jesus comments deeply, He will clarify much.  He is not worried about His physical needs, that it the Father’s concern.  Instead we see Jesus focusing, with almost pinpoint precision on the Father’s will.  Such focus seems fanatical, way too zealous for us.  It seems that we have exalted culinary excellence, and have been gastronomically led to a place where are palates and stomach’s start to rule.
 
“My food is to do His work.”  Jesus had a focus, that took Him into a way of life we admire, but don’t ever attain.  We certainly will never diminish or minimize Jesus.  But I think we do this when we just gloss over verses like this, and try to ‘side-step’ the obvious meaning with an interpretation that removes the stinger.  We must arrive at this point.  It’s the place were our physical hunger for “good food” is replaced by a strong appetite to do the will and direction of our Heavenly Father.
 
What do you intend to do now?  Will you trust Him to meet your physical needs?  Will the active pursuit of God’s will nourish you completely? You need to figure that out for yourself.  All I can do is to lay this before you so you can make a decision.