Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: bread

What is a miracle?

canola-field-3436417_640A few weeks ago farmers in our area seeded many fields with tiny, round, black Canola seeds. Before long green leaves appeared and grew large. Then flower spikes grew upwards and little yellow flowers appeared. Now we are seeing golden yellow fields like the one in the picture above.

That little black seed contained coding that enabled it to take nutrients and moisture from the soil and turn them into a plant many times larger than itself. Each flower will form a seed that is an exact copy of the seed from which the plant grew.

Is that a miracle? No; it is a predictable result of putting that seed in the ground. Do I  comprehend how the seed is able to do that? I can explain what happens, the why is beyond me. Only God could build a seed with life in itself and the ability to reproduce itself.

Have you ever thought about how much rain must fall from the sky to produce a crop? One centimetre of rain on one hectare of land amounts to 100 tonnes of water. Canola plants need 20 cm of rain between seeding and harvest to make a good crop. That is 2,000 tonnes of water per hectare. All that water is held in clouds in the sky and delivered to where it is needed.

Is that a miracle? No, it is simply another of the wonders of cration. Solomon described the cycle of water several thousand years ago: “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:7).

bread-1281053_640

Jesus fed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread. I expect the loaves looked much like the ones in the picture above, as housewives in Israel weren’t using bread pans back then.

I expect that it was done so simply as to be almost imperceptable. Jesus broke a large piece off a loaf and gave it to one of the disciples. When he went to break off another pece to give to another disciple the loaf in his hand was about as big as before he tore anything from it. The disciples had the same experience. They kept breaking smaller pieces off the large piece in their hands and there was always more to break off. After everyone had eaten there was more bread left than there had been at the beginning. Now that was a miracle.

Jesus could have asked for a thousand loaves of bread to appear in the midst of the crowd. Think of the tumult as each one tried to grab some for himself. That was not His way. He blessed the bread and broke it to give to the people and it was clear to all that He was the giver. Most miracles occur quietly, almost unseen.

A few years ago Doctor Kevin Dautremont wrote in his blog of such a miracle. A young man had been a Christian, but became angry and bitter when he developed cancer and had to have one of his legs amputated. He turned away from God and from his family.

He was in palliative care and near the end when Doctor Kevin was called to see him. The young man’s voice had previously been almost inaudible, now he asked in a clear strong voice for help to stand. He stood on his remaining leg, looked at his mother, smiled and said “I’ve been with Jesus. And we were running.” Then he laid back on the bed, closed his eyes, and died.

Doctor Kevin asked: “Is there a greater miracle than a heart changed? A soul saved? A prodigal returned to the loving arms of His Father?”

You can read the full text of Doctor Kevin’s blog article here.

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Activating the gospel leaven

[I am posting this again for the benefit of the email subscribers who received only half of the original post because  I accidentally hit a button before I was finished.]

Matthew 13:33  Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

In this parable the woman is the symbol of the divine agency, the meal is the humabread-417801_1280n heart, the leaven is the Gospel. As leaven diffuses itself through the meal until the whole lump is leavened, so the grace of God and the power of the Gospel are a diffusive power, which impregnates the whole heart and transforms its character. As the parable of the mustard tree describes the external, so this parable describes the internal prevalence of the Gospel power. It describes the internal influence not upon the individual alone, but upon the masses of humanity. (Daniel Whedon, Whedon’s Commentary)

loaf-of-bread-529237_1280When my mother baked bread, she kneaded the dough three times: first when she mixed it; then after it rose the first time she would punch it down and knead it again; after the second rise she would punch it down and knead it again, then form it into loaves and allow them to rise once more before baking. The purpose of all that kneading was to distribute the yeast evenly through the whole lump. The result was a light loaf, with no big holes in the middle.

Leaven, or yeast, is a living thing and needs warmth to grow. So does the gospel. It is obvious to believers and unbelievers alike that the cold, hard confrontationalism of the Westboro Baptist Church does not make the gospel grow and spread.

But how are the rest of us doing? Are we expending too much of our time and resources worrying about conditions in the world over which we have no control? And not enough spreading the warmth of Christian love in situations near at hand where it might make a little difference?

God’s hatred of sin is real. But the good news of the gospel is that God loves sinners and wants to rescue them from the bondage and consequences of their sin. We can become so wrapped up in a constant striving to be good, that we hardly have time to do good to those who are hurting. Where then is the warmth of the gospel?

Can people feel the warmth of genuine Christian love when they meet us, visit in our homes, visit our churches? If they can, then surely the leaven of the gospel will grow and spread.

The education of a pioneer bride

The first settlers on the Saskatchewan plains were faced with a quandary – there were no large trees that could be cut to build log houses, and lumber yards were usually far away. So they set to work to build their first homes out of the material under their feet – the sod.

This was actually quite a practical choice. This was native grass prairie that had never been cultivated. The dense root structure made sturdy building materials. The sod was cut into strips two feet wide, about six feet long and two to three inches thick and they were laid much as one lays bricks, with alternating joints to tie the structure together. The sod was removed from around the growing house, providing a fire guard to protect against prairie fires.

Poplar poles were cut from nearby ponds or streams and lashed together to make a framework for the roof, which was then covered with sod strips. There was usually one door and two windows cut into the walls and a stovepipe stuck out the roof. The inside walls were often covered with a material like canvas. The result was a cozy home that was well insulated from the winter cold and the summer heat. Sometimes the roof would get saturated from a heavy rainfall and it would be necessary to move the bed and table away from the leaks.

Many a bride spent her first few years in a home such as this until her husband could accumulate enough money to buy lumber to build a wood frame home. No doubt the promise of that soon to be built two-storey home with a proper roof made life in the sod home easier to bear, but those early prairie brides had an amazing ability to adapt to conditions as they were.

Nevertheless, sod homes did present some unexpected challenges. Early one fine summer day a new bride set to work to bake some bread before her husband came home for dinner.  She measured the flour and other ingredients, soaked the yeast in water, then mixed it all together and set it aside to rise. But it didn’t rise. She checked it anxiously as the morning hours went by. There was never any change, it sat there in exactly the same shape as when she had first mixed it.

She set about making dinner, without the hoped for bread. She checked it one last time, then, not wanting her husband to know of her failure, she took the bowl outside and with a large spoon dropped a portion of the dough into the gopher holes around the yard. She felt a little solace in knowing that at least she had hidden the evidence.

When her husband came in for dinner, his first words were: “I just saw the most amazing thing. There are big white mushrooms growing out of all the gopher holes in the yard.”

I think it was the sudden flush of red in her cheeks that gave her away. Together they realized that she had done nothing wrong, but it was just too cool in the sod house to activate the yeast. The ground outside had been warmed by the sun and the hidden dough just couldn’t stay hidden.

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