Read an Excerpt
Breakfast with GodSpiritual Food for Every Day
By Duncan Banks Gerard Kelly
ZondervanCopyright © 2002 Zondervan All right reserved. ISBN: 0-310-24831-0
Breakfast. I got off the early morning express train at London's Marylebone station, took a black cab past Buckingham Palace getting out just before Piccadilly Circus. My appointment was an 8 a.m. breakfast meeting with one of London's most influential and wealthy businessmen. The venue was the famous Ritz Hotel. I sat with him amongst London's finest and we ordered food that came disguised as a work of art. I caught a glimpse of the bill as the waiter presented it to my friend. I gasped. It looked more like the annual budget of a small South American country and as I caught the train home I thought to myself, "Now that's what you call breakfast!"
Breakfast. It was early and jet lag was still playing games with my body. I was sitting in the board room at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago with a bunch of leaders from across the globe, trying to prop open my eyelids with matchsticks when in came the food cart. I headed fast for the coffee. Forget international unity and Christian love, we are talking coffee here and if I didn't get some soon there was no telling what damage I was capable of. However, as I elbowed past a huge German I caught a glimpse of the muffin basket. My English eyes had never seen such outrageous baking. Theywere massive. The size of Florida. I grabbed a coffee and a blueberry muffin. It took two hands to carry the muffin whilst performing a clever balancing act with the hot coffee that a Russian gymnast would have been proud of. And as I ate and the tiredness slipped away I thought to myself, "Now that's what you call breakfast!"
Breakfast. The early morning sun was hot and already putting my sunscreen to the test. I had driven for hours along dusty tracks and then further through nothing but bush land. My breakfast appointment was spontaneous and it was with a ten-year-old boy called Alex. The jeep pulled up in one of the remotest parts of southern Uganda in a region where Compassion, the child sponsorship agency, had just begun working with some of the poorest children I had ever seen. Alex beckoned for us to visit his family. We climbed a dusty, barren hillside and sat outside his house. Well, not so much a house, more of a hut made of mud and covered with a banana leaf roof. Inside it was empty. No pots, pans or any possessions, just shelter from the sun and it was all they had. Alex offered me a banana as we sat together. I knew it was a very expensive gift for him to offer me. I saw the look of shock on his mother's face that quickly turned into a proud smile. I peeled it, took a small bite and held it up to Alex's mouth. He looked into my eyes as he bit into the fruit and as I looked back I saw the face of Jesus. And as I put my arms around that frail boy I realised that out of all the breakfasts I had ever had in my thirty-eight years on planet earth, this morning I was actually having breakfast with God himself. And I thought to myself, "Now that really is what you call breakfast!"
Are you hungry for breakfast with the divine today? The book you hold right now is your personal invitation.
Don't shelve it; don't lose it.
Respect it and I guarantee your very soul will be satisfied.
Choose the Vital
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the side of a mountain and sat down.
Matthew 5:1 CEV
The Big Breakfast
Now hold on. Stop filming. Time out. This just can't be right. What on earth was Jesus doing, ignoring the crowd and wandering up a mountainside for a sit-down? Surely it was for the crowd that he came to earth in the first place. That crowd would have been full of sick people who needed healing and confused people who needed setting free. The crowd would have been bulging with lost people who needed saving. So what's with the hike up the hill?
I guess the answer is blatantly clear. In that moment Jesus saw what was pressing but chose what was a premium. In our own lives there will always be people and their demands crowding in, pressures and deadlines that scream at us. Unless we choose premium mountaintop moments with ourselves and our Creator we will come to ruin. We need a daily dose of peace and perspective or we will burn out fast.
Phone calls, emails and deadlines will always demand our immediate response. Choosing to stand daily on the mountain top with God and breathing in the fresh air of his kingdom will give us new energy to face the madness of the market-place. If Jesus himself needed to schedule regular appointments with his Father ...
Bill Hybels is one of the world's most successful ministers. He leads Willow Creek Community Church, the largest church in America. Yet he confesses, "If I do not set aside a time for a private meeting with God at least once every 24 hours, I tend to drift way off course spiritually."
Choose the vital right now. Choose to sit at the feet of Jesus. Choose a private meeting with God before the marketplace comes crashing in today.
Choose the Vital
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The Big Breakfast
If you distil fruit juice, you get alcohol. If you boil down a carcass you get bones. If you reduce a perfume to its essence, you get a single, powerful, concentrated fragrance. What do you get if you take 2,000 years of Christianity and similarly reduce it?
According to theologian Hans Küng, you get Jesus. Küng writes: "Christianity does not stand or fall by an impersonal idea, an abstract principle, a universal norm, a purely conceptual system ... Christianity stands and falls by a concrete person, who represents a cause, a whole way of life: Jesus of Nazareth."
No matter how religious those who follow Christ become, no matter how complex their systems of theology, the heart of the matter remains a tangible person. It is this that has made the Christian faith so durable, so adaptable, so attractive over 2,000 years of exploration and diversity. And it is with this that the 21st century must do business - not the system of Christianity but the person of Christ.
How much of your spiritual investment is in the system of Christianity, and how much is in the person of Christ?
"To you we come, O Lord, the true goal of all human desiring. Beyond all earthly beauty, gentle protector, strong deliverer; from first light be our joy."
Celebrating Common Prayer, London, Mowbray, 1994
Make Following Worth It!
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers ... "Come, follow me," Jesus said.
The Big Breakfast
Some years back there was a man from the United States who tramped round the world with a huge wooden cross. He was called Arthur Blessit and he caused quite a stir. I remember him coming to our town. Everyone was talking about him. Loads of people turned up to hear him speak. Some even began to travel with him. It was a bit like that scene in the movie Forrest Gump. Forrest was running across the United States, and people fell in behind him and started running with him. It was all a bit silly, really, but following is something we humans do. Take a look at the shoes you're wearing. Who started that fashion craze? Mr Nike? Now look how many of us are following it.
Jesus reaches out to the part of us that wants to follow, the part of us that gets excited about great causes. Jesus is the greatest cause of all. Follow him and you will find yourself in a relationship that makes the hike worth it.
Jesus has a load of competition these days. Voice after voice yells at us every day: "Buy me!" "Love me!" "Indulge me!" Be smart enough to follow Jesus all the way, not just part of it.
I have been a Christian for many years. I think the most important thing I've learned is that following Jesus is often a struggle, but it's always the best road.
The Secret Place Revealed
The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?
2 Peter 3:10-11
The Big Breakfast
Read the verse above and imagine you are sitting in the soft seats of a multiplex cinema, eating popcorn and listening to a Hollywood-epic voice previewing the latest sci-fi blockbuster: It could well be a trailer to a modern-day movie, but the question that Peter asks in his 2,000-year-old letter is bang up-to-date: "What kind of people ought we to be?" It is one we would do well to try to answer in this millennium. Peter's next few words give us a good answer to be going on with:
You ought to be people of good and holy character (PHILLIPS).
Do you get his drift? If the world is going to come to an end and our lives fade away quicker than we imagine, let's invest now in the really important things of life. Not so much in our outward appearance, but on what our characters are like. The question being asked is, "Who are you really, when no one else is looking?"
I guess we all have a clever public image carefully fashioned. We know who we are with others around us. The more painful and probing question is, "What goes on under the surface and behind closed doors?" Answer that and you get a pretty good idea of how your God relationship is going.
I once stood in a packed tube train in London overhearing a conversation between two businessmen. One was attempting to describe a great new office colleague to the other. He quickly ran out of adjectives and said, "I can only say, she has a beautiful soul."
I desperately want my soul life to be far more memorable than my public life. Take some time to consider your progress on your inner journey.
O Lord, you have searched me and know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Psalm 139:1-2 NIV
The Big Breakfast
We used to laugh at our mother. When she wanted to get hold of one of us, because there were six for her to choose from, she would often go through all our names before she got to the person she really wanted. She would then tut at herself in frustration. Poor lady. She always had far too many things on her mind. To get the right name straight off was a struggle.
God knows our names, and he gets them right every time. That's a good feeling, isn't it? He also sees what we get up to. Scary as that may be, it is actually very, very good news. Nothing can shock him. He's beyond that. Nothing can put him off. There is also plenty that excites him. We have so much potential! All he wants is to get into partnership with us.
Matthew 10:30 reminds us that even the hairs on our heads are counted. Now that is amazing.
How do you feel about yourself today? Do you feel special? You are, and that's a fact. You are known and accepted inside and out. You belong.
Just then a woman ... came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."
Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." Matthew 9:20-22
The Big Breakfast
I once had a friend who received an unusual package from abroad. A certain preacher had sent him a handkerchief, sealed in a plastic bag and marked with the words, "Only to be opened in case of emergency". This handkerchief had apparently been blessed and was available for use when my friend needed a miracle. If the plastic packaging was opened, the blessing would be lost, the spiritual freshness dissipated. I wish I was joking, because such an idea is profoundly silly and conflicts with my idea of how the world works.
Yet here we are with a story about a woman who gets healed by touching Jesus' cloak. How offensive that is to my rational sensibilities. What does Jesus say to this woman? "Don't be so superstitious, you stupid girl." Nope. He says her faith has healed her. The odd thing is, the Greek word for "healed" can also be translated "saved". It seems that salvation might include the whole person, not just their soul or spirit.
It is often said that most Western Christians separate the "sacred" and the "secular", whereas the Bible doesn't make this distinction and treats the whole world as one - as God's.
If our salvation covers the whole of life, not just "the spiritual bit", that makes a big difference to all kinds of stuff - our lifestyle choices, our home life, our work ... Is there anything in your own life which you have separated off from God? What do you need to do about it?
The world did not recognize him.
The Big Breakfast
Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, is among other things a master of disguise. Like other super-agents before him, he must know how to insinuate himself into a new and foreign situation without being detected.
This is not true of that other man of mystery, Jesus. God's "disguise" was not deliberately chosen to deceive us. The reverse is true - the Incarnation is an act of self-exposure: it makes God more visible, not less. Continues...
Excerpted from Breakfast with God by Duncan Banks Gerard Kelly
Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.