Where Shall We Buy Bread? Part Two

Bible on a dinner plate with silverware in lent

This is Part Two of a two part post, Where Shall We Buy Bread? It will make more sense if you read Part One first.  You can find Part One here. Your feedback and comments are always welcome!

Part Two of Two

We are taking up where we left off in Part One, considering God’s dealings with the Israelites when they suffered hunger on the exodus from Egypt. According to Deuteronomy 8 God was humbling and testing His people. It was He who caused their hunger so they could realise their total dependence on Him.

You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord… Deut. 8:2-3 NASB

The people were instructed to gather what was needed for their household for one day only. When some of them disregarded this commandment they found the manna they had tried to keep overnight went bad and filled with worms. Furthermore they were not to gather it on the Sabbath, the day of rest. God would provide double on the sixth day so the people could rest on the seventh. There were those who disregarded this commandment also and went out seeking bread on the Sabbath, but there was none. Israel was being tested by God. Would they trust Him unconditionally to deliver them from bondage and provide for them and their children? And His testing was revealing the true nature of their hearts.

So unfamiliar to the Israelites was this bread from Heaven it became known among them as ‘manna’ which means “what is this”.

The Old Testament manna was symbolic of the Living Bread Who was to come: Jesus the Christ. Now, for the second time in Israel’s history, God had provided bread in the wilderness. And for a second time in their history, many in Israel were saying “what is this?” of the Christ.

But Jesus, the Living Bread, read their hearts. Many of them did not seek Him to quench their spiritual hunger. Life under Roman rule in Israel was not easy. The people sought a political Messiah who would vanquish the Romans, become their national king and cause Israel to prosper so that no-one would be hungry. They were following in hope of easier lives, not because they believed He could save them from their sins.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing,He tells them. The words (rhema) that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).

It was not very long afterward that many who just one day before had tried to make Him their earthly king abandoned Him, complaining they could not understand what He was saying (Jn. 6:60-66). They could not understand because His words were of the Spirit.

“Do you also want to go away?” Jesus asks the twelve. But at least one of them had understood the lesson of the Living Bread.

But Simon Peter answered him: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words (rhema) of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-68).

The life Peter spoke of was the Greek word ‘zoe’, the endless, abundant, spiritual life essence of God. The Logos had spoken truth from the mind of God; the Spirit had breathed the God-Life into Peter’s heart. Christ was being revealed.

Law and Life

You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life (Jn. 5:39-40).

Life! The Bread is always about Life.

The words Jesus spoke were eternal life, spiritual life, God-life. They were rhema. Eternal life is not life after death. Eternal life is always present. It is the endless, perfect, pure Life that is only found in God and emanates from Him. The written scriptures are only life-giving to the extent they reveal a Living Christ to a searching human heart.

As a very young Christian those in authority over me consistently emphasized the importance of daily Bible reading. Being eager and hungry for more of God I followed their advice. I received comfort, hope, instruction, and training by doing so. But the Bible was also law to me. Reading it was a religious duty. I could quote it but I couldn’t live it.

I learned something. If the Bibles we carry around don’t deliver a living Christ to us, they are nothing more than a temporary fix, just like the bread we eat. You will be hungry again tomorrow, as the Israelites were. The Logos is not to be quoted, He is to be lived. Rhema is the Spirit-breathed revelation of the Living Bread being unveiled within our own hungry spirits.

The ‘word of God’ we call a sword is only effective, dividing between soul and spirit, when wielded by the Spirit of God. Scripture on human tongues can convey life or can be used as a weapon of destruction, condemning rather than convicting. Scripture does not convict the world of sin unless it is delivered as rhema, by the power of the Spirit, because it is the Spirit’s role to convict of sin, not ours (John. 16:8).

Some people may as well carry around stone tablets under their arm as their Bible  I have heard people rattle off scriptures like machine gun bullets believing they are speaking for God and carry His authority. They do not. They are speaking condemnation and death. They are merely quoting, but they are not imparting Life. Scripture is only holy as it reveals a Living Christ to us or to others. Otherwise it’s  just another set of moral guidelines like any other religious book, with no life and no power. Many don’t want to hear this but the Bible is not to be treated like a book of magic. We need to stop worshiping the ‘good book’ and start seeking its Author.

Somewhere in my journey I caught a glimpse of the Living Christ in the pages of my Bible and from that point on I began searching for Him every time I opened it. Gradually, the scriptures became a delight to me because I met Jesus there. Everywhere I looked in them I found the Beloved, revealing Himself to me, beckoning me to follow and seek more of Him.

Our attitude to ‘the word’ is determined by who or what we’re looking for. If we are taught, or teach others, that reading the Bible will make us  good Christians, we will find only a moral framework – law. It’s tough to chew and will soon become lifeless ritual.  If, however, we are truly hungry for Christ,  He will reveal Himself to us within its pages.  The word of God really is living and active when wielded by the Spirit of God.

These days I go to my Bible looking for a living Jesus. If I am not beholding Christ within a few minutes of opening my Bible, if I am not receiving a tangible impartation of His Life, I put it down and walk away. I refuse to look for the Living One among the dead letters of law. I love the written Word of God, both logos and rhema, more than I can tell you, because it has become a sacred meeting place to me, where the One who is Life awaits.

The bread I seek to impart through Bread for the Bride posts is always Christ. Truly, if you are not receiving a portion of the living Christ when you read these posts, please do both you and me a favour and unsubscribe. Go somewhere else where you will be fed Christ-Life. I have absolutely no desire to pass on anything but the Living Bread through my writings.

The Word of God, written or spoken can only be two things: it is Life, or it is Law. Law is for the satisfied. But Living Bread is for the hungry. We don’t need an ever increasing choice of Bible colours, covers, styles, and formats to prove we are Christ-followers. Christ does not live in black, white and red print. He lives in His people.

We need Living Bread, the Spirit-breathed revelation of Jesus Christ, in our hearts and on our tongues. That’s when we’ll turn the world upside down.

Related Article: Where Shall We Buy Bread? Part One

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Where Shall We Buy Bread? Part One

 Bible on a dinner plate with silverware in lentThe following post has been on my heart to write for some time.  Due to length I have divided it into two parts for easier reading.  It could not be fully covered in a shorter article and I believe this subject is worthy of  serious consideration by all committed Christ followers. Part Two will be posted shortly after Part One. Your feedback and comments are always welcome!


I stumbled over our town’s only Christian Bookstore recently. I say ‘stumbled’ because the last time I remember seeing it the store was two streets south of where it is now. When I asked the man behind the counter how long they’d been in the new place, he replied “two years’. Uh huh, I definitely need to get out more.

I admit I barely glanced at the latest book releases – I was too distracted by the bibles. Buying a Bible these days is evidently a minefield. Hard cover, soft cover; women’s, men’s, youth or children’s; study, parallel, large print, travel, compact, slimline, new believer’s or orthodox. How about the ‘thirst quencher’, a ‘manga’ bible or a’ creative journaling’ bible? And several Christian celebrities like Joyce Meyer and Jack Hayford have even come up with their own bibles….who knew?

Add to those a seemingly endless number of translations and the choice becomes even more head-spinning.

As a younger Christian I was taught the Bible, aka the word of God, was my daily bread. Spending time in the ‘word’ first thing every morning was the eleventh commandment, usually preached by a male pastor whose wife fed the kids, got them ready for school and ironed his shirt while he clocked up his essential time in the word.

My little visit to the bookstore prompted me to do a quick, non-exhaustive internet search on the Bible as our ‘daily bread’. Here are some unaltered quotes from my search:

Website One: “The holy Bible is our bread.”

Website Two: “(Ministry newsletter name) delivers the Word of God as the bread of life daily via email. With a few verses from the Bible and a short word of ministry it will nourish you and strengthen your faith.”

Website Three: “I will eat the word of God every day.”

Website Four: Bread represents God’s Word. The Bible is spiritual food. Bread is a symbol for Scripture. The Bible says, ‘People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord’ “

So is the Bible our daily spiritual bread? Can reading the written word of God every day really strengthen our faith and make us grow spiritually? I believe regularly meditating on scripture can certainly edify, encourage and comfort us. Here’s what Paul wrote to Timothy about scripture:

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work  (2 Timothy 3:14-17 Net Bible).¹

And this in Romans:

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).

The word used by Paul for written scripture was the Greek ‘graphe’, meaning a document. As we’ve just seen, the purpose of the written scripture is teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness, patience, comfort and hope – “that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”

However, nowhere in the New Testament do we find bread as a symbol for written scripture. Maybe this is going to be news to some, but our Bibles are not our spiritual bread – Christ is.

But what about this?

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ ” (Matt. 4:4).

Let’s unpack this a little.

Logos and Rhema

There are generally two distinct New Testament Greek words for ‘word’: logos and rhema. Without getting too deeply into linguistics, logos conveys the idea of ‘reason’ and is our source for the English word ‘logic’. In the New Testament logos can be used for the spoken word or the written word. Jesus is called The Word – the living ‘logos’ that was with God and is God (John 1:1). Rhema, on the other hand, usually emphasizes divine utterance. For instance the verse in Hebrews 4:12, so often quoted to describe the authority of written scripture, is not speaking of written scripture (graphe) or even logos. It is speaking of ‘rhema’.

For the word (rhema) of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

People sometimes define ‘logos’ as exclusively the written word and ‘rhema’ as exclusively the spoken word, but it is not that clear-cut. Logos can be both spoken and written, and rhema can also be written or spoken. Here is one of the best statements I have seen on how both the logos and the rhema can represent God:

“God the Son as the logos word defines, explains and expresses the Father’s thought, and God the Spirit as the breath conveys the rhema word to the recipients and applies God’s essence to them.” (Roger Good)²  

Now getting back to our verse in Matthew 4:4, Jesus is responding to Satan who has tempted Him to turn stones into bread  to satisfy His physical hunger. He is quoting Deuteronomy 8:30.

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word (rhema) that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “

So here we have Jesus (the living Logos) quoting written scripture (graphe) stating humanity should live by the ‘rhema’ word (revelatory utterance) of God.

Logos and rhema are not opposites. They are simply the word of God in different stages of declaration as expressed by our three in One, One in three, living God. Logos and rhema are separate yet connected parts of an unfolding process, beginning in the mind of God as divine thought, taking form in human flesh through the Son who is the Living Logos, and quickened as revelatory truth in humanity by the Spirit who is the Breath of God.  In this divine process the written word can, when uttered under the unction of the Spirit, become rhema, or revelation, of the living Christ. Equally, the same written word when uttered under the influence of human flesh, is not rhema, and is no more than a quotation devoid of supernatural power. Even Satan can quote the logos word of God, but the result is death, not life.

The “every word from the mouth of God” that Jesus said we are to live by was not written scripture, but rhema: always fresh, always Life-imparting, always Spirit-breathed, always revealing some aspect of Christ.

The Bread

Many are familiar with the narrative in John 6 which relates the feeding of over five thousand people. A great crowd, after witnessing His healing miracles, had followed Jesus into the wilderness (Luke 9:10). Realising the people are hungry Jesus asks Philip “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” The best the disciples can come up with is five loaves and two fish and Jesus, despite His own weariness, miraculously multiplies them so that everyone can eat and be filled (Jn. 6:1-15)

On the following day many who had eaten the miraculous meal came searching for Jesus. They had seen Him multiply a few small loaves, had tasted and been filled. They knew this was no supernatural food they’d eaten – it was ordinary, everyday, belly filling bread. And they wanted more.

It reminded them of a similar event recorded in their scriptures when their ancestors ate bread in the wilderness on their journey out of Egypt. They started comparing Jesus with their greatest national hero, Moses. Could He provide them with bread for themselves and their families every day?  After all, Moses had done so for forty years, hadn’t he? So they asked Jesus for a sign to prove He was as great as Moses. The sign they wanted was more ‘manna from Heaven’.

Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. (Jn. 6:31-36)

God provided Israel with bread, or “manna”, for forty long years. Think of it, for forty years every Israelite woke up each morning to find fresh bread had appeared in their camp overnight.  God would rain down the manna each morning, which fell as fine dew on the ground and solidified into paper thin wafers that tasted like honey. Six days a week for forty years the Israelites would collect and eat fresh, heavenly manna until they reached the Promised Land (Exodus 16).

What was going on here?  We’ll investigate further in Part Two of Where Shall We Buy Bread.

¹ I quoted the Net Bible in this instance because it is the only translation I found that says ‘person’ rather than ‘man of God’.   If Paul had wanted to be gender specific he would have used ‘aner’ the Greek word for a male, but he used ‘anthropos’, which is a human being, male or female. Why do translators persist in translating this phrase as ‘man of God’?

² God As The Word: Logos and Rhema, by Roger Good

Related Article: Where Shall We Buy Bread Part Two

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

From The Archives: Of His Flesh and Of His Bones: A Mystery

wedding favors and wedding ring on on colored background

One of the things I like about some more historic versions of the Bible is their poetic language. I know not everyone will agree and some struggle to understand the older translations, so this is purely an individual observation. Modern language translations and paraphrases also have an important place and personally I enjoy consulting a variety of Bible versions, old and new, to catch the full panorama of what the writers were trying to convey.

A certain phrase that always draws me in the New King James Version is found in Ephesians 5:30, describing our mysterious relationship with Christ as our Bridegroom:

‘For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.’

In many more recent Bible versions this phrase has been omitted on the grounds it doesn’t appear in some of the oldest manuscripts. I’ll leave the ongoing ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’ for its inclusion in Ephesians to the translators, while still choosing to meditate on the beautiful implications of the words in revealing the depths of Christ’s passion for us. (For a list of some Bible versions that do include this phrase see my footnote at the end.)

In the preceding verses Paul is writing to the church primarily about relationships, with God and with others. He begins to speak about the marriage relationship and in the middle of his statements seems to catch hold of a revelation of Christ and His Bride. (Now I’m not going to divert into the varied viewpoints on Christian marriage in this post, but in case you’re interested in that topic you may find this useful.)

The phrase Paul uses to convey his revelation takes us back to Genesis 2:23 and Adam’s announcement: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.’ The first bride, Ishshah (woman), was formed by God from the very physical substance of the first man. (Ishshah was not called Eve until after the Fall.) She was not a separate creation to the man, as many believe. The Hebrew word used to describe her formation by God is ‘banah’, meaning to build, rebuild or establish, and implies a continuation of something already begun (Gen. 2:22). It is not the same word used for humanity’s creation in Genesis 2:7, which is ‘yatsar’.

An enduring truth we learn from the New Testament is that God reveals spiritual revelations first through natural circumstances (1 Cor. 15:46). Jesus is the second Man and the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45-47). Just as the first bride was formed of natural substance from the opened side of the first Adam, so was Christ’s Bride brought forth from His spiritual substance when blood and water flowed from His pierced side at Calvary (John 19:34).

Genetically you can’t get any closer to a person than being their flesh and blood. In using the phrase ‘of His flesh and of His bones’ I believe Paul wanted to bring the church to the realisation that Jesus looks on His Bride not as separate to Himself but as an essential part of Himself, more intimately connected to Him than anything else in all of creation.

Genesis 2 continues: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (v.24). This blueprint for human marriage, which is an imperfect shadow of Christ and His Bride, was reaffirmed by Jesus under questioning from the Pharisees in Matthew 19:3-6.

The perfect ‘one flesh’ unity experienced by the first man and woman is something that was lost to humanity at the Fall. Between them there was no shame, fear, contention, suspicion, envy, or striving to control or rule the other – just a wondrous sense of being ‘one flesh’ in everything. The flesh referred to here is more than just a physical union. The Biblical concept of flesh encompasses the entire earthly nature of man: body and soul, which includes our minds, emotions, wills and thought lives. The very essence of the man, the physical framework as well as the ability to function as a fully individual, intelligent personality, was the material with which the newly fashioned woman was formed. Her breath of life, the spirit, however, was from God (Gen. 2:7). And this ‘new creation’ of womankind had been there, hidden inside the male, from the beginning (Gen. 1:27)

It is not the first Adam and his bride that I want to focus on in this post, but reviewing some of the events in Eden is helpful in understanding our own role as Christ’s Bride. The story of Adam and his bride Ishshah is only a foreshadowing of the more perfect and wondrous oneness that Jesus intends to establish between Himself and His perfected Bride.

Jesus, as the last Adam, left “His father and His mother” – God. (And yes, God is both Father and Mother in the sense that He encompasses what we ourselves have neatly divided into male and female qualities). Jesus, like the first Adam, experienced a deep sleep in the tomb and while His human body slept God was busy building another body: the spiritual Body of Christ we call the church. God specialises in bringing form out of chaos. Amid all the confusion, fear and despair of those hours between the death and resurrection of Christ, the young church, having come forth from the opened wound on His side, was being formed.

Jesus came not only to offer salvation but to ‘be joined to His wife’. This phrase “be joined” does not accurately convey, in the English, the true depth of its ancient meaning. It means to be stuck together like glue, cemented, or to be fastened to one another as two oxen were yoked with the same yoke. Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when He told us His yoke was easy (Matt. 11:29-30).

‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh’, proclaimed Adam. But in Christ, the last Adam, the order has been reversed: we are of His flesh and of His bones. Bearing in mind that the natural comes before the spiritual, in the first Adam’s statement bone came before flesh. Bones are the rigid inner structure of the body, representing the Old Covenant with its inflexible framework of law inscribed on hard and impersonal stone tablets. The flesh nature, the part of us that houses the heart and the individual personality, characteristics and disposition, is mentioned second, symbolizing the New Covenant relationship of grace instituted by the second Adam, Christ. The law of the Spirit is now written on our fleshly hearts and fulfilled in us by Christ Himself. That is why in Christ, the order has been reversed and we have become ‘of His flesh and of His bones’.

This ‘flesh and bone’ Bride was hidden in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:24; Eph. 1:4), even before the creation of Adam and Ishshah.   She is being made ‘one flesh’ with Him, not through natural means but through His Spirit. We acknowledge this every time we partake of the bread and wine that symbolically represent our Bridegroom’s flesh.

The place Christ has reserved for His Bride could not be any closer or any more intimately connected to Him. He has prepared her a royal table and calls her to sit with Him there, even in the thwarted presence of her defeated spiritual enemies. At that table He pours out His Spirit abundantly upon her, in an unending anointing of His own divine essence. He clothes her richly in His own righteousness and gracious mercy, and provides her a dwelling place with Him into an eternity which God has ordained they will cohabit (Psalm 23:5-6).   Once and for all, two shall be one, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.

Yes, it is a mystery, but a glorious mystery being unfolded in and upon us, even now. Selah!

Footnote: King James Version, New King James Version, 21st Century King James Version, Youngs Literal Translation, Wycliffe Bible, World English Bible, Jubilee Bible, International Standard Version, Geneva Bible, Darby Translation

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

The Word

The WordIn the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.

The beginning.  Not the beginning of God, or of the Son, or of the Holy Spirit, for indeed God knows no beginning.  From everlasting to everlasting He is, and was, and ever will be.  But the beginning of this creation, the beginning of our history, the beginning of you and me.

In that beginning was the Word, fully present, fully functional, fully sovereign.  This is the Word, the Logos, of the God Who is One yet Three-In-One. Living Word, Creative Word, Holy Word, issuing forth from the unfathomable mind of the Eternal One True God.

He was there with Father God and Holy Spirit God when creation was but a thought, a desire, as yet unspoken. He was there in that beginning as God, partaking in the unbroken, perfect, equal Community of the Three-In-One Who is One. He was there in the fullness of His unique divinity: God the Word.  He was there when the Breath of God brooded over the deep darkness.  He was the very Utterance of Creation.

All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.

All things that form the foundations of this earth and the heavens beyond and around this earth, all things that make created life sustainable and renewable and good – light and darkness, sky, land and water, vegetation, sun, moon and planets, every living creature.  And finally – humankind.  All things.  Created by the Word, through the Word, and for the Word.

The mind of Elohim, threefold God – Father, Son and Spirit God – who is eternally One, imagined creation and uttered forth His desire through the agency of The Logos, The Word, the Utterance of God.  And God spoke as One, with one mind, one purpose and one voice.

The Father, Perfect Love, willed;

The Spirit, Perfect Authority, travailed;

The Word, Perfect Truth, manifested.

Love desired, the Breath empowered and the Word created.

He is The Word, the ‘let there be’ of God, who manifested the Life of Elohim into matter.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

In Him:  The Word Who carried the seed of original, absolute, unlimited Life; The Word whose very sound is Spirit-Life; The Word whose very touch creates Life where death, disease and decay encroach.  This Word, this Life-Bearer, this Creator, invaded the darkness of humanity’s fallen environment.

Let there be Light’ burst into humanity’s darkened territory and ‘there was Light’.   And the great deep darkness had no defence or power in the presence of this Life who emanated untainted Light.

That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 

The True Light.  Not the false lights of lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes or the pride of fallen life, for these lights are nothing more than different shades of darkness.  The Word came, the Word manifested.  Into the darkness of a creation trapped in false light “let there be light” broke through to offer true Light to every human being.

The Word who is divine Life shone Truth into every heart He encountered. He Who is Truth exposed the lies of darkness for one does not know they are in darkness until one has seen light.  The Life who is Light shone, not upon this world, but in it; not from the heavens but from a human body of flesh and blood.

He came to light the way back to Life – not biological or psychological life as we in our darkness perceive life, but the abundant, uncreated fullness of the God-Life that is without end, without beginning and without boundary.

The Word came to us, clothed in human flesh, personally delivering His God-Life into a race trapped in darkness and death.  The Word came to us: that humanity may recognise and possess the abundant God-Life that created all things….in the beginning.

And humanity loved the darkness more than the Light.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name;  who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

BUT:

As many as received Him:  there were those who, perceiving the Light and in turn their own darkness, reached out to receive the God-Life.  The Word imparted to these the Life for which they had originally been created.  He still does.

Those who had once been born of blood (in the image of Adam), or of wilful flesh (the desire for progeny), or the will of men (male dominion), would be born a second time by the perfect will of God.  They would believe in the name of The Word who is Truth.  That Name is known among humankind as Jesus the Christ, the only name by which human beings may be saved from the darkness of eternal death.

The Word and The Breath once again would provide the agency for that which the mind of God, the mind of Perfect Love imagines, bringing many children into glory, born not of the corruptible seed of the first Adam but of the incorruptible spiritual seed of God. These would become new creations in the image of the last Adam who is The Word – in the image of Life.

The Father, Perfect Love, wills;

The Spirit, Perfect Authority, travails;

The Word, Perfect Truth, manifests.

Love desires, the Breath empowers and the Word creates.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…

The Word, the Creator, the Life, the Light, immersed Himself, willingly and wholeheartedly, in fallen human flesh.  He embraced death and left it cowed and beaten.

The darkness has a vanquisher whose Name is Light.

Death has a Master whose Name is Life.

He is The Word, who is the Beginning and the End, the Author and the Finisher, the Yes and Amen.

…and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

But human flesh and blood could not conceal the glory that is The Word.  John said he beheld that Glorious One, and others also beheld.  There are those walking this earth even now whose privilege it is to always behold the glory of The Word, to walk in the Light of His grace and His truth.

Many children have come to the glory, many continue to come. There are a multitude of children, born of God, but only One begotten of the Father.  He was in the beginning. He was God and He was with God. He is The Word.

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

Of His abundance of endless Life, we who believe in and follow The Word have willingly taken, and we have received and continue to receive grace without limit.  And we have found no place on this earth where the darkness can overcome His Light.  And we have found no experience for which His grace is not sufficient.

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

The very best that fallen humanity can bring forth is the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, called Law.  Even with the best of intentions, humanity must produce law to live before God and live with one another.

But The Word who is Grace and Truth, the divine grace and truth that created all life, sent forth from the will of God, has come to replace the best humanity can produce.

In Jesus the Christ, God and humanity converged. A new race has emerged, the church of the firstborn, who God has chosen to make His dwelling place. The Word is their Life and their King. Grace and truth are the pillars of His Kingdom.  His Kingdom is without end. His Kingdom is Life.

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The Word, Divine Personality and equal member of the tri-une Godhead, was manifested in the flesh in human personhood, dwelling among humanity.

And yet The Word remains still within the very heart of the Father, in timeless intention, always being uttered forth declaring to creation the nature, purpose, love and Life of the Living God.

Jesus Christ, The Word, the declarer of God.

Jesus Christ, the only declaration of God.

Selah.

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

The Rock And The Hard Place

Rock and Hard PlaceHe is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. Deut. 32:4


A night of high drama. A brotherly kiss between friends, but not all is at it seems. Eyes meet in a silent moment of raw, agonising truth. Hearts are laid bare. One man weeps hot bitter tears; another discards all hope. A bag of silver coins is thrown in the dust. A verdict, a sentence and an execution.

The various threads of that fateful night intertwine in a series of familiar stories, any of which we may follow and examine more closely. Eternal destinies were decided that night. Events were set in motion that will never be turned back. Before the coming day was over mercy would triumph over judgment and truth and grace would embrace.

Let’s turn our attention to just two of the lives eternally impacted for better or worse on that Passover night: Peter, a Galilean fisherman and Judas Iscariot, presumably named for Kerioth, the town he hailed from. Both had been chosen by Jesus as members of His inner circle, and both had been named as His apostles (Jn. 6:70; Lk. 6:13).

From the gospel accounts we understand that Peter was somewhat impulsive and, like the other disciples, struggled with personal ambition (Jn. 18:10: Mt. 18:1). A man of extremes, he could be defiant one moment and remorseful the next (Lk. 5:4-8; Jn. 13:8,9)

Satan had already asked for Peter. Jesus made no secret of this fact, warning Peter that He had interceded for him (Lk. 22:31,32). Peter was unable to believe that he was capable of denying Jesus. Until he did. He had been openly resistant to Jesus’ return to Jerusalem with all its obvious danger. He opposed Jesus’ disturbing references to crucifixion and martyrdom. Such possibilities offended him (Mat. 16:21-23).

As his eyes met the probing eyes of Jesus the truth about himself confronted Peter head on. Christ is Truth – not one of us can meet His penetrating gaze and remain in deception. To his horror Peter discovered he was not a leader, he was a coward; he was not a follower, he was a denier; he was not a friend, he was a betrayer; he was not worthy to reign with the Christ, he was unworthy to even be His disciple. There was not one thing he could bring to his own salvation. But with truth came grace, for in Jesus Christ grace and truth converge (Jn. 1:14). A hardened heart was softened and restored and a life in the balance changed forever.

Less is revealed in the gospels about the personality of Judas but we do know he had a weakness for money and was stealing from the common purse shared by the disciples (Jn. 12:6; Mt. 26:14-15). Satan did have access to Judas and even more so when Judas made up his mind to carry through his plan of betrayal ( Lk. 22:3,4 ;Jn. 13:27). Judas’ actions that night were deliberate and calculated. He had pre-arranged to receive thirty pieces of silver in exchange for disclosing Jesus’ whereabouts to the authorities when He was away from the crowds.

Judas also had his heart laid bare that night. He wanted nothing to do with any talk of dying. When it became clear that Jesus had no plan to resist arrest, lead an insurrection and unite Israel in rebellion against Rome, he was offended. He obviously had not signed up for this turn of events.

At the crucial moment of betrayal, however, he too was confronted with the naked truth about himself. ‘Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’ The question must have stung to the core and echoed in his conscience thereafter. Had he really thought Jesus was unaware of his secret? He had been deceived into thinking his thieving had gone unnoticed and so would his plans for self-preservation. But none of us can kiss the face of God and not be confronted with our need for redemption.

Suddenly thirty pieces of silver meant absolutely nothing. The money was thrown in the temple, unwanted. In similar fashion the grace on offer was declined. Silver is the Biblical symbol for redemption while thirty represents fullness or maturity. But there would be no bitter tears, repentance, and forgiveness accepted by this offended heart. Rather than surrender to a grace he could not understand Judas chose to go his own way, ending his life (Acts 1:25).

Two men. One night. Both of them offended by the Cross of Christ. Both of them finding themselves between the Rock and a very hard place. Two extremely different outcomes.

Years later Peter acknowledged the One whose penetrating eyes met his that fateful Passover night as ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence’ (1 Peter 2:8). Each of us at some time will stumble over that Rock so that our need for Him can be revealed. For Peter that revelation was stark. Peter stumbled badly, and broken, threw himself on the mercy of the Rock. Judas stumbled badly, refused to believe Christ could redeem him, and was crushed by the weight of his sin.

Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust (Lk. 20:18)

There is a reason Jesus Christ is called the Rock of Offence. It offends the carnal human mind that we need a Saviour. It offends us that the Saviour we need died violently, innocently, and brutally on an execution stake fashioned by human hands. It offends us that His innocent Blood is the only means of our redemption.

We are offended intellectually. The thought of a blood-spattered cross being our only means of salvation is just too humbling, and let’s face it, too unreasonable for proud human minds.

We are offended morally, because we each think we understand justice, but we don’t understand THIS justice.

We are offended emotionally. We don’t want to acknowledge that such a gruesome suffering and death was willingly undertaken purely on our behalf.

We stumble. The offending Cross either brings us to our knees or sends us running in search of a more reasonable god. We find that more reasonable god in Christ-less religion that demands we work for our salvation, or in humanism that assures us we are our own gods and we get to decide what is just and what is unjust.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face. (Ps. 89:14)

Righteousness, justice, mercy and truth are chief characteristics of God.

God gave the Law first to teach us about justice and mercy. Without first knowing Law we would not recognise mercy or our need for it. Similarly, without first being introduced to the cold stark truth about ourselves we would not recognise grace, or our need for it. But a tutor is not meant to stay forever (Gal. 3:24,25). After the Law served its purpose, in the fullness of time, came Jesus Christ, the personification of grace and truth together.

Only in Christ do mercy, truth, justice and righteousness merge. At the Cross mercy triumphed over judgment and God made just all who believe on Christ (Jas. 23:13; Acts 13:39).

A rock can be a place of safety and refuge, or it can be an agent of disaster. Peter yielded to the Rock and found grace. Judas chose his own way and found law. Law says a life for a life. Grace says His death for my life.

The greatest Offender to the fallen carnal nature of every person is Jesus Christ; the greatest offence humanity has ever experienced is the Cross of Christ.

For those of us who follow Him, falling on the Rock is not a single event, it’s a daily choice. The hard places we find all around us loom darkly, threatening to overwhelm and destroy. But we bear witness that there is a Rock of Offence who is our hope, our healing and our ever present salvation. This good news is the gift we offer to a stumbling world.

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Related Post: Silent Encounter

Somewhere A Church

somewhereachurch

Heard the one about there being no perfect church? It goes like this: ‘Well, there’s no perfect church because churches are made up of imperfect people’, or words to that effect.  It’s one of those often repeated Christianese statements that have no basis in scripture but are frequently thrown around as if they do.

I don’t buy it.

I believe there is a perfect church. Here’s why.

This week I was preparing an article for another blogsite about a woman born 100 years before me, who died twenty years before I was born. She was a dedicated Christ follower who sacrificed a brilliant career, fame and wealth to pour out her life in His service in an unfamiliar, hostile land. And we connected. As I researched her life, which was very unlike my own, I sensed a depth of bond with her that I’ve seldom known with any other believer. Our connection was in the Holy Spirit.

How is it that Christ followers can be united across boundaries of time, geography and culture in this way? How is it my spirit leaps when I recognize the same Christ in another as dwells in me, even if we have never met, even if we have never heard each other’s voices or physically sat together to worship or talk over coffee? How is it I often feel more closely bonded to someone half a world away who has shared their hopes, fears, and faith with me through emails and blog posts, than with people I share the same history, culture and cafes with?

It’s because there is just one church (Ephesians 4:4).

It’s because this one church, this Body of Christ, is a spiritual entity. Its members have been baptized together into Christ by the Spirit of God, to whom boundaries of distance, time, language and culture are irrelevant (1 Cor. 12:13)

It’s because this same Spirit refuses to be confined within the multi-denominational structures, doctrinal boxes and brick and mortar walls that are popularly called ‘the church’ on this earth.

Somewhere a church exists in the Spirit whose members are united and bound together by the Spirit of God (Eph. 1:3). Somewhere a church exists in the Spirit that looks, loves and sounds just like Jesus Christ whose members are being continually conformed to His image by the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:18). Somewhere a church exists in the Spirit that is perfect because its members are perfected and sanctified by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:14).

And when we as disciples of any colour, gender or culture connect with another by the uniting power of the Holy Spirit, we have found that Somewhere Church.   Our membership in it is guaranteed not by signing a card or regular attendance but by our faith in Christ.

But I keep hitting up against a problem. The latest example of this problem occurred recently when a local pastor implied we (husband and I) should be attending his church. Bear in mind he has not met either of us, we have not been to his church and have no indication from God that we should do so. We had simply contacted him by phone in connection with a practical matter to assist a close relative who does go to that church.

The problem? The problem is an almost blind assumption that those of us who choose to opt out of traditional organized Christianity are somehow spiritually less than those who do. The problem is others automatically presuming they know better than I how, where, and when I should worship. And the problem is friendship offered not on the basis of faith in Christ, but on condition of conformity to another person’s specific Christian tribe.

Seriously, if someone truly believes that Christ cannot sustain me outside the walls of their own church setting, then even when that church is the biggest in town, their church is too small and their God is too inadequate.

I know, it’s easy to label Christians ‘backslidden’ when they are less than enthusiastic about church involvement, or dismiss them as those pesky ‘perfect church’ seekers: easier, that is, than deal with the uncomfortable fact that there may actually be something missing in our local church that people are desperately seeking. I can’t blame anyone who chooses to think that way: we’ve all known people who are serial complainers, who are always more focused on the problem than the solution. We’ve all breathed a secret sigh of relief when they move on in search of whatever it is that will satisfy them.

But the largest percentage of non-church-attending Christians are sincere Christ followers who are non-attenders because the hierarchical, controlling atmosphere of many local churches has become toxic to them. And for many, institutional Christianity has become irrelevant. They are searching for, and often finding, other ways to assemble together, deeper more authentic ways of connecting to fellow believers and more diverse expressions of corporate fellowship than traditional settings offer. They are following a living Christ they have not been able to find within the hyped or stifled environments of their local church experiences.

If my words offend you, that is certainly not my intention. I bless my Christian brothers and sisters who acknowledge there are serious problems in organized Christianity and have nevertheless chosen to serve Christ from inside the institution. I would never question your ability to hear for yourself where and how, or in what setting, you should express your Christian beliefs. But I would ask that the same level of respect be given to those of us who worship Christ outside the walls of the local church by choice because that’s where we believe He has led us.

For the record let me clear up a few general assumptions often made about we ‘outside’ Christians:

*We are not all wounded, angry and bitter. Each of us as individual believers, whether attending a local church or otherwise, is on a journey into wholeness in Jesus Christ. It’s true many do cease regular church attendance because they have been deeply wounded or spiritually abused, but many find their healing through following Christ outside the institution rather than inside it. Wounded, angry, bitter people are just as often present within the walls of local churches as outside them.

*We are not spiritually dysfunctional or less of a Christ follower because we no longer find the atmosphere of a local church relevant to our Christian walk and growth. You don’t have to be an active member of a local church for Christ to meet you, heal you and lead you. If this is something that is incomprehensible to some readers may I gently suggest you leave aside what you do not understand rather than judge it as aberrant. God does not need to fit into our understanding of Him or give account to us for how He works with His own.

*We have not ‘left’ the church. It is no more possible for us to leave the church than it is to shed our natural skin. If we are in Christ we are church. Period.

*Finally, we are not your mission field. It is not your God-given calling to get us back into your church just so you can feel better about us. The mission field is anyone outside Christ – let’s all focus our evangelism there.

I share as one who spent over forty years in organized Christianity before God called me to follow Jesus outside the local church system. It came as a surprise and has certainly not been an easy path, but I have no regrets. Bread for the Bride is primarily a ministry to my fellow ‘wilderness dwellers’ – those who for whatever reason have not found Christ in His fullness within the walls of organized Christianity, or who have not found the local church scene to be the safe, nurturing environment it should be. I could hardly minister to this ‘congregation in the wilderness’ in the small way that I do without walking alongside them.

Whether someone is actively engaged in a local church, or has been called to another expression of the Christ Life that is in them, should really not be an issue. If we are in Christ we are the Church. Our connection to one another as Christ’s Body is in the Spirit, not within temporary structures, shared traditions or specific sets of doctrines.

I read something this week by a great teacher from a former time, T. Austin Sparks, that articulates the true nature of the church far better than I can:

You can only really see what the Spirit presents when you occupy a heavenly position. To see the Lord and His Church, as we have it in Ephesians, you must be in the position that is there: “He hath raised us up together with Him and made us to sit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” It was from that position that Paul gave us the revelation of Christ and His Body.’

I am beginning to see the Church as Jesus sees her, from a heavenly perspective. I am beginning to perceive that great crowd of witnesses from every age since Adam whose individual testimonies of the living Christ are the organic cells that make up the Body of Christ. And I am beginning to understand why buildings, creeds, traditions, doctrines and organisation can never equal or contain this spiritual ecclesia whose members can only ever be knitted and held together by the Spirit of God.

If you are one who chooses to worship Christ from within a local church congregation, be blessed, and welcome to the Church. If you are a fringe dweller, seeking to follow Christ but unsure where you fit in, be blessed, and welcome to the Church. If you are following Christ outside the traditional venues, again, be blessed, and welcome to the Church.

I’ll meet you in Church….Somewhere.

*The Persistent Purpose of God, Chapter 8 “The Glory and The Spirit”, T. Austin-Sparks 

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

The Vine And The Grain

vineandgrainSix years have flown by since we moved into our current home. The recent anniversary of our move came with a jolt. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the home we left six years ago: a huge two storey brick and tile on 1.4 acres near the edge of our town. We lived happily there for seven years.

When the time came to leave the hardest thing was saying goodbye to the orchard and the garden. Both the house interior and exterior grounds had been severely neglected and were in a sorry, run down state when we arrived. I am not much of a gardener, but my husband is. Often assisted by our youngest daughter he expended untold hours of hard, sweaty labour on making the grounds both beautiful and productive.

Tiny citrus trees were planted out the back of the house during our first year there. Various varieties of lemon, orange and lime were hunted down and the baby plants lovingly placed into well-prepared ground …… in the middle of a cruel summer in one of the worst droughts our region had seen in many years. Wiser, more experienced heads scoffed at our apparent foolishness for planting in such an unkind season and declared we would lose every one of our little saplings within months.

Whether it was stubbornness or faith I don’t know, but every morning of that summer would see my husband gently hand watering the saplings, tending each one with loving care, willing them to live. Every evening would see me just as determinedly circling our little orchard, blessing, praying and calling forth the hidden life and fruit I knew each one carried.

Gradually a garden arose around us. In place of dry grass, weeds and dead plants, colourful beds of roses, azaleas and gardenias emerged. A verdant, green lawn was nurtured and maintained. And best of all, our citrus orchard flourished, producing sweet, succulent fruit so abundant it was gladly shared with friends and neighbours. Much to the surprise of some, not one of our little saplings succumbed to the drought. The ugly, uninviting grounds that had greeted us a few years earlier had been transformed into a peaceful, lush, life-filled environment, even providing an appropriate venue for our daughter’s wedding.

That lovely transformed garden and the fruitful, healthy orchard we left behind when it became clear God had plans to move us on have been on my mind lately. The developer who bought the old home didn’t dream of juicy orchard fruits or fragrant roses on his dining table. His mind was set instead on dividing the grounds into multiple lots to build profit-producing dwellings for young couples needing their first homes.

The gardens were ripped up by bulldozers, making way for builders’ trucks and materials, and ultimately new houses. The sturdy native trees we planted to border the property were replaced by metal fencing. And our cherished citrus orchard, a waste of good building land, also had to go.   In place of attractive gardens and a prolific orchard brick and mortar homes now stand, where people return each night to rest their weariness before tackling the troubles a new day will bring.

We had known this would happen when we left. And there was not a thing we could do about it. You can’t dream, plant, nurture, and bring forth something beautiful and fruitful without experiencing sorrow, sometimes even deep sorrow, when that which you’ve carried in your soul and built with your own labour becomes seemingly annihilated, as if it had never existed in the first place.

Today when I stand on the verandah of this present home of six years I look out on young, thriving new plants that are growing steadily into a beautiful, established garden. And this year we had our first crop of citrus. Sweet juicy oranges sit alongside newly picked lemons and limes on my kitchen bench. A vegetable garden too has been planted and I hear plans are afoot for apple trees. Life is flourishing around me once more, but it didn’t come without cost. The former had to be relinquished so that something even more fruitful and productive could be birthed.

This principal of death before life is one we must wrestle with in our spiritual walk too. Jesus spoke of Himself as the Vine and we as the branches that are pruned in order to bring forth abundant fruit.

‘I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.’ (Jn. 15:1-2).

At another time He gave the example of a wheat kernel that is buried in the ground and subjected to death for a season, so that it might emerge and multiply into a harvest of grain.

‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.’ (Jn.12:24-25).

We pass through seasons in our spiritual lives. There are seasons of pruning, when that which is unproductive, diseased or simply an impediment to the healthy flow of life in us is revealed and removed.

There is another kind of season also where our dreams, hopes and labour suddenly come to naught. It is a season of obscurity, of burial if you like, where all that we have been building, all that we have identified ourselves with sometimes over many years, is brought to death. In such a season we may even see the hard-earned fruit of our labour placed into the hands of someone who has a different vision or purpose.

To our dismay, the pall of death hangs over all we have expended our lives on. What’s more, there is nothing we can do about it. It is taken out of our hands. Furthermore, we seem to be cocooned in a dark, barren place, stripped of all we thought we knew and left with nothing but raw, naked faith that there is a God, that He is good, and He will not leave us alone in this place of burial. Apart from that, we cannot say we know anything, nor can we say we are anything.

Whether we find ourselves in a season of pruning, or a season of death and burial, God’s purpose in us is always Life.

As branches, we are not sent off to be pruned while He waits indifferently. He will never leave or forsake us, but will sustain us during every season. His grace is sufficient for the pruning season.

Nor will He abandon us to the cold, dark soil of our grain season, for He is Lord of both the light and the darkness (Jn. 1:5; Job 12:22). He will do that which is true to His eternal nature of Love and Life, He will complete the work He has begun in us – He will bring forth Life both in us and from us.

Both the Vine season and the Grain season are integral to our Christ-following journey if we are to be reduced and Christ is to increase (Jn. 3:30). Perhaps you have already discovered this. But these are not the only seasons we will encounter on this journey. The branch is pruned only in preparation for the coming season of Fruitfulness. The grain is buried into death only in preparation for the coming season of Resurrection Life.

God’s purpose is always Life. He cannot be otherwise. Life must bring forth life. His intention and plan for us is always fruitfulness. Where Life is present, fruit must be evident.

This principle of death before life is something Jesus’ first disciples had to experience also. All that they had worked towards, envisaged, talked about, planned for, hoped and dreamt came to a thundering crash at Calvary. It was a shocking, sudden and brutal end to their expectations. It tested their faith to the utmost and nearly broke their spirits. Only a handful of disciples, one male and several female, could even bear to witness the crucifixion (Mark 15:40-41, Matthew 27:55-56, Jn. 19:25-26).

Those first disciples experienced a crushing to their very core, yet, revived by the same Spirit who raised Christ from death, emerged to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

Christ-less religion conditions us to call many things ‘life’ that are not Life, to settle for far less than the vibrant, thriving Christ-Life which is the lifeblood of the true Body of Christ.

Religion produces  undernourished, tasteless fruit instead of the abundant, Life-filled fruit that is pleasing to our Father. Religion will attempt to rescue us from the pruning shears and snatch us from the Cross of Christ. Religion is death masquerading as Life. And religion will never allow us to emerge from the grave as overcomers fit to reproduce the resurrection Life of Christ.

Choose Life, even if the way to Life is through the valley of death. You will never be left in the grave.

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016 and beyond.   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.