Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Eternal Sacrifice

Blogging is difficult to do on mornings that I have class.  No class on Wednesdays though so praises for pockets of time like to today when I can breathe.

This morning I read Hebrews 10:1-18. My study bible splits it into 3 parts so I will look at the verses in three parts.

The first is verse 1-4 which say "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins."

As a believer today in our world, the idea of animal sacrifices is just an abstract idea.  After all, we have the New Covenant that we use and usually abuse.  As a result I feel like we can never really appreciate the gravity of this passage from old to new. I will not recount the rituals needed to be done to be cleansed.  For that I point you to the Deuteronomy which is where I believe it is recounted in painstaking detail.  Rather imagine with me once a year taking your family and whatever animal you happen to need to a priest so that he can cleanse you and your family.  In this sacrifice, you carry all the guilt you have.  All the shame of whatever wrong doings you have committed go with you to this sacrifice. Now imagine watching the blood pour out of the animal, being told you are clean but, and this is an important but, in the back of your mind you know you will have to do this again because you are not really clean.  For a moment sure, but the moment you sin, which lets be real for some of us it would be right as we leave the synagogue,  another sacrifice is necessary.  I cannot feel that sense of foreboding of another sacrifice, nor can I feel the joy of momentary cleanliness.  If the sacrifice is enough, should we not, as the scripture says, have no more consciousness of sin?  But we do when the sacrifice is not enough.  Every subsequent sacrifice you make is a cleansing and a reminder that your failures will always outweigh your sacrifice.  You are told though if you make enough sacrifices (reminders of sin) and live uprightly, you will be right in Gods eyes.  The writer of Hebrews states it plainly in verse 4 "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins".

The next section is verses 5-10 and verse 5 starts with a "therefore" which I was taught is always a clue to look and understand what the therefore is "there for".  In this case it is because of verse 1-4 and specifically verse 4.  Sacrifices were always shadows and symbols of the real thing, the final sacrifice, Jesus.  Verses 5-7 says "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.  6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come--in the volume of the book it is written of Me--To do Your will, O God." Verse 9 goes further and says, "He takes away the first that he may establish the second." Sanctification was never possible though the shadows and symbols of the former sacrifices.  In the final sacrifice of Jesus, God stripped away the shadows of animal sacrifices and established the eternal sacrifice.

Verses 11-18 are about Christ sanctifying us.  The writer makes the contrast between the priests who stand in the same place every day preforming the same sacrifices that have zero eternal significance with Jesus, the Son of God, who offered His life as a sacrifice and then sat down at the right hand of God until "his enemies are made His footstool." (V. 13)  There is a difference in triumph in the sacrifices.  In the old sacrifice there is no triumph, only a reminder of sin.  In Jesus there is triumph because sin has been forgiven. I cannot with my words express fervently enough how stark a contrast this is and how confusing this must have been for the people hearing these words.  Until I consider the Jewish man who had been seeking these sacrifices day after day, year after year, and then come to the realization that the Man he saw die on the cross makes it so that he never has to sacrifice again.  That man is no longer bond to sacrifices which are there own kind of chains.  He is free.  Until I consider that man I cannot appreciate these verses.

It gets better though.

It is not just the promise and act of sanctification from Jesus' sacrifice, the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days says the Lord: I will put my laws in the their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." (V. 16-17) We receive simultaneously eternal forgiveness but also the promise of our Helper to help us understand this great work the Lord has done through His son Jesus.  Imagine again that Jewish man with me.  The dawning realization that the sacrifice of reminding is unnecessary AND the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of Gods glory, will help you understand all of these things and plant His law in your heart and mind.  The holiness that this man as been chasing for so long through sacrifice is now his. As a grand exclamation point to this whole passage is verse 18 which says "Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin."  Glory Hallelujah our chains are gone, we've been set free.  These words take on new meaning in light of these verses.

So what does this mean? I have, in some small way, crafted a story of 18 verses about sacrifice but why does it matter. I think that a lot of times Christians are that Jewish man, seeking sacrifice after sacrifice, unaware that the final sacrifice is the "one sacrifice for sins forever" (v. 12).  I see many brothers and sisters, myself included, that miss the joy and faith of embracing Jesus for what he did and instead, remind themselves of what they've done.  I can be the poster child for this if that you make you more comfortable because I am a sinner of the highest order.  What I am saying though is it doesn't matter. These verses ask for trust, faith, and hope in Him.  I hope that this can serve as a reminder of our precious freedom because that is what it was to me. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Morning Meditations 7/7/14

Hebrews 12:25-29

Continuing from yesterday, Hebrews 12:25 starts right off by telling the reader to not refuse Him who speaks.  As a christian, this is one of those passages that we hear/read and pass over quickly because why would we ever refuse Him who speaks?  The issue i think is that we refuse Him more than we would like to admit.  Maybe not every believer but certainly a large subset of them.  Essentially whenever I choose sin I refuse His voice. This passage though is speaking more to those who are contemplating turning away from Christ, which some days would be me I guess.  The writer again recalls those who rejected God at Mount Sinai as "they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth." (v. 25)  He likens those who turn away from Him who spoke on earth to us who turn away from Christ now, saying, "much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven." (v. 25) I think this is again drawing the parallel between old and new testament just as the previous passage had done.  This one is different though.  The last passage contrasted the foundations of two belief systems and how one was rooted on the earth and the other was rooted in heaven.  Here, the writer is exhorting the reader (I think) that though the foundations differ in wonderful ways, it is imperative that you still do not turn away from His voice.  He requires obedience regardless and to turn away would be at your own peril.

Verse 26 describes His voice as shaking the earth but adds, "now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." (v.26) Verse 27 and 28 elaborate, "Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."  I think this is again referring to the temporal nature of the earthly kingdom and contrasting it with the eternal nature of the Heavenly Kingdom.  I wonder after reading this passage and the last if this is a useful text in sharing Christ with Jewish people? I have no way of knowing, maybe one of yall can shed some light on that.  Anyway, the passage ends in verse 29 which says "For our God is a consuming fire."  This is a good meditation verse I think.  The human heart and spirit needs to understand the nature of our God in order to serve and love Him.  I invite anyone who happens to read this to think on Him being a consuming fire.  I think it is a beautiful description of Him in light of everything else He is, particularly when contrasted with our enemy.

Thanks for reading, this is of course all for His glory.  I hope this blessed someone today.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Morning Meditations 7/6/14

Hebrews 12:18-24

From what study I have been able to do this morning, 18-24 is a contrast between Judaism and Christianity and it is a drastic one at that.  Judaism being described as "the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore." (v. 18-19)  Well dang.  Verses 20 says that they could not endure what was commanded and verse 21 says that the sight was so terrifying that Moses himself said "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling."  I am sure this can be unpacked more.  Verse 18 is referring to Deuteronomy 4 when Moses is recalling what happened at Mt. Sinai way back in Exodus.  I am sure there is someone more read than I that could perhaps lead me to deeper wisdom (this is an invitation) but I interpret this brief description in Hebrews as recalling the foundation of Judaism.  The writer then contrasts that foundation with what appears to be the foundation of Christianity.  Another context clue is the writer says in both v. 18 and 22 the word "mountain" or Mount which I interpret as being the broad foundation on which greater things stand.

Where Judaism is described as being dark and gloomy, Christianity (keeping with the interpretation of these verses as provided by my study bible) is called "Mount Zion, the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God  the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel." (v.22-24) The writer says in 18 that we have not come to that mountain but instead we come to the one just described.  Aside from contrasting two types of beliefs, it also is contrasting the old and new covenants.  The Old bring fear and separation and the New overwhelming blessings.

 I think this contrast is helpful to understanding where our faith as come from and where it is now.  I think a lot of times believers can make the mistake thinking we come to that old mountain.  The truth is much different actually.  We do not come to the mountain where we cannot keep what has been commanded of us, where Moses himself trembled with fear.  We come to a different foundation, the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem.  This is important for our salvation as far as knowing where we stand in the kingdom.  It is interesting to note that in the old covenant, God was Judge and he is mentioned as such in verse 23.  God is still the same and always will be.  The foundations are different though.  Luke 10:20 is reference in verse 23 and it says, "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."  There is eternal assurance in the New covenant and in Christianity.  The same cannot be said of Judaism, at least not according to this passage.

If anyone as further input or thoughts, please share. Lets grow together. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Overwhelmed for the First Time

It is days like today that I feel like my dreams will never be accomplished.  I know today is an example of being overwhelmed by the waves and that Jesus can quiet them because that is what He does. Still though...

 I get tired of being a work in progress sometimes if i am being honest.  The process of sanctification is nothing that I am particularly fond of.  I get tired of messing up and upsetting people.  I get tired of having a feeling of dread come over me when someone asks to speak to me because, somewhere in my mind, I am sure I must have wronged them and they are about to tell how and in what ways I have failed them.  I get tired of striving to meet teachers expectations while striving to meet my own expectations for this final semester of undergrad. 

I just feel like, what with 18 hours of school (6 classes), Wesley Internship, a girlfriend, applying for grad school( as well as finding a way to pay for it), and a d-group...oh and on top of that i have my personal health to worry about, paying bills, dealing with a psychotic landlord, finding a new place to live and potentially a new roommate, and more...where is the time for it all.  Im trying to do all of the above while trying to restore some friendships, move on from others, build new ones, find the strength to talk to the people who matter most.  Buh. 

I know it gets better.  I know its not me who gets me through each day.  I know it is not I who holds my future in my hands.  The Lord is in charge of my life and I am more in love with Him than ever.  Today is just the first day that I am overwhelmed in a semester that is seemingly meant to overwhelm me.  I am reminded that no man is an island right now.  It is imperative that I, (and anyone who is stressed really) keep myself open when i am overwhelmed.  I cannot close up when I feel like a boxer who has taken to many punches to the body.  My vulnerability is key to the Lord continuing to reveal himself to me.  He wants to show me, in the storm, that he is the master of it. I just have to yield to me master. 

Ultimately this is why I am sharing this.  I need help. I cannot do this semester alone.  I need each of you and the Lord above all else.  I ask that you pray for me and i hope that the Lord will open up opportunities for me to serve each of you throughout this semester.  Thanks for reading.
God Bless

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Me & Jesus

Welcome to 2014 y'all.  I want to kick off this year by saying that I am bad at doing things.  In fact, I suck at these "things".  By "things" i mean the things that matter.  Most people are good at doing menial things.  Sending an email, washing their clothes/dishes, or even brushing their teeth.  When these "things" begin to matter however, I become pretty reluctant to do whatever that "thing" is.

Example time.  Having a much needed conversation with a roommate, sibling, parent, significant other, whoever it might be, having that conversation is rather difficult and all I would like to do is not have said conversation.  Maybe it is a parents bad habit, or a friend's questionable relationship.  I sometimes justify not talking to this person because having the conversation will not serve much of a purpose other than to voice my displeasure (after all, it shouldn't be all about me right?) Other times i refuse the conversation simply because avoiding the confrontation is far more comfortable (unless I do not know the person all that well, then I have no problem with confrontation.) In the end, i don't have the conversation because silence is the best way to protect myself from whatever it is my mind has conjured up that I am trying to avoid. I consider it kind of pathetic and it is something that I want to change this upcoming year.

Another "thing" that I am bad at is taking care of myself spiritually.  I know that is not a thing that christians are supposed to admit but it is something I am bad at.  By taking care of myself, I mean stuff like daily repentance, daily reading the word, appealing to my Almighty Father for help and love and the like.  I am bad at it.

I was watching a podcast over at my friend Katie's house the other night and this pastor is preaching out of Titus two.  Essentially the passage is about what living as a christian should look like.  Convicted me for sure because I look at the scripture and see that on the large, the lifestyle it describes is not the one I lead.  I think further on the examples of the "christian life" around me that I see in pastors, parents, friends, and even in the stories in the bible.  That life is not there! Drives me crazy sometimes because I hear pastors say sometimes and read other times that, as a believer, if you love the Lord, your life will look like XYZ.  Bahhumbug to that because I must have missed the Holiness Ferry to the land of Christiandom.  I love the Lord and I know that I do. So clearly my love must not be big enough, not exuberant enough.  Or maybe I am not hermit like enough for my love to shine through.  Could it be I do not dress enough like a hipster for my Love of the Lord to be considered real and I do not like to sip local coffee use Instagram enough.  Maybe I am not made of the right stuff to have lasting, real, relationship with my Precious Jesus.

Now I know that there is a lot of self-help crap and books and prosperity gospel stuff that I could plug into this issue and fix it.  But here is what I think my problem is: All that stuff above is noise and it all overshadows what is true. What is true is that it is not my job to have it figured out.  In other words, I do not have to be Francis Chan right now or ever.  The Truth found in scripture is the same for each of us but the application and the general timeline of that application is different.  I also need to quit trying to be the best at prayer, scripture memory, fasting, disciple making, and tithing all in one day.  Pride is terrible thing and I think that it is the undercurrent that drives this within me.

To kick off the new year I want to start out by saying that I suck at doing "things".  I suck at loving the Lord with all of my heart every second of every day.  I suck at reading and loving to read the Word.  I suck at treating other Christians with love often more than non-believers.  I suck at the little things.  More often than not I am selfish and do what is comfortable.  I put up walls in front of those I love so that maybe they will not notice.  Simple said, I suck.

It is okay though because I do love Jesus, and He knows my heart.  He made me a promise when he died on that cross for me.  He promised to take all of my "suck" and make it beautiful.  Every bad habit He promised to purge away.  Every spiritual discipline that I am bad at doing, He promised to teach me.  He promised to take my hand and walk me through the rough patches of life so that he can raise me up to glorify him on the other side.  Who I am not is not who I will be six months from now because of the love of God and how it manifests in my life.

Every new year begins with a bit of suckiness.  But that is okay, because we have a God that is committed to taking our suckiness and making us better than we were.  SO this year, I will get better at these "things" not because I want to master these things, but because I want to grow closer to the Lord who loves me and will help me.  God Bless and Happy New Year

Sunday, December 29, 2013


The Lord led me to read the beginning of 2nd Samuel the other day and I want to share with you lovely people what I found.  It has to do with reverence of the Lord. A reverent heart is something I lack sometimes but I think it is something every christian can work on.

Second Samuel 1 is where David receives word that Saul and Johnathan are dead.  There is a song thrown into that chapter plus a lying servant as well but that is generally chapter one summed up.  Up to this point in Davids story, he has long been next in line for the throne.  Saul, the former anointed one, has chased David all over trying to kill him.  David trusts that, when it is Gods time, He will be given the throne of Israel.  So Saul, the now former king and only obstacle to David ruling, is dead.  Sounds like a good time to ascend the throne.  David, though, waits another seven and a half years to take the throne.  Why?

I have heard David cited for his patience but his reverence for the Lord, His timing, and his own anointing is on another level.  David was a consummate servant of the Lord.  David followed the Lord all around the wilderness alluding capture for years.  He was afraid at times, as the psalms written during that time show, but he never stopped trusting or fearing the Lord and his plan.  Even in the moment that he had been waiting for since the Lord anointed him to be the future king seemingly come true, he still waited because the Lords timing and plan was better.  I believe it takes a reverent heart for the Lord to be this patient.  What is so amazing about David to me is that he rarely moved without the Lord telling him to go.  He feared the Lord and all that He is.  Our Father and Lord in heaven is far more holy and wonderful than we can comprehend.  His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.  His plan is complete and perfect. He is at all times completely just and righteous in His judgements.  His love is perfect, lacking nothing, and is the only love that knows the furthest reaches of eternity.  He is the perfect King and David understands this in his heart.  His patience in ascending to the throne of Israel extends from him recognizing how small he is in the presence of the Lord and, at the same time, recognizing that God, infinite in every way, has a plan that he is executing perfectly because that is the Lords nature.

I hope that all makes sense.  It is my prayer to not lose sight of the Lord and how incredible and beautiful he is.  I think I often commit silly sins I should not because my eyes come down from the brilliance of God and becomes enamored with something far less beautiful.  I want to live constantly aware of how small I am and how big God is and, because of that difference, live aware of how beautiful it is that the Lord has a plan for me that he is perfectly executing because of His great love for me. God bless.

5 Things I Like and Don't Like

1. I believe that their should be someone who is the facial hair police or something of the like.  Sounds goofy I know.  But only certain kinds of facial hair should allowed.  If you cant grow it, dont. (No shave November is different) There are too many neards in the world.

2.  I love cloudy and rainy days. If it was sunny only two days out of the week I wouldn't complain.

3. I do not fans of the following teams or the teams themselves: Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Heat, Lakers, Panthers, Saints, Patriots, 49ers, Auburn, Ga Tech, Florida, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State.

4. I love the ocean. I see God in the ocean and can just begin to understand what eternity looks like by looking at the ocean.

5. The MLB season needs to either be shortened by 80 games or the game itself needs to be spiced up.  For instance, if no one has scored after seven innings, the mound needs to be moved closer, base runners forced to wear clown shoes, and second base removed. I would watch that.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day

Well, I said that I wanted to try and blog everyday of break but that has not happened. It has given me a week of thinking and reflection on the past semester, family, friends, and the coming year. I am going to use the first part to talk about something that is on my heart.  The second part will be borrowing from one of my favorite writers Zach Lowe over at Grantland where I will be doing something called 5 Things I Like and Don't Like.  He does ten things but he also writes that part once a week.  Here goes, hope you enjoy and share.

I have been reminded this break the importance of communication and, a step further, meaningful communication.  Lack of communication has often been the Achilles's Heel of my family and I would imagine it is for a number of families.  It is something we have been improving on in the years since we were healed but it still is a work in progress.  I often joke that I am the last to know anything in my family and with good reason.  The lanes for communication just are not there all the time though, I will admit, it is getting better. There are reasons for these break downs.  Some are relationship specific (e.g. brother-to-brother or parent-to-parent), while others are just mistakes made we make when attempting to communicate. I want to to unpack a few of these.

The first is brother-to-brother.  My brother and I are very different communicators.  I am the more outspoken one between the two of us.  I yell and stomp and get in people's faces. My brother on the other hand rarely verbally says how he feels but he wears it on his face and in his posture.  Non-verbal communication is not good for much though.  This is not to say that my brother and I do not have an unspoken language.  Best friends and siblings are just like that. Non-verbal communication though should not be the chief form of communication.  This is something I am working on changing in my relationship with my brother.  Few things are more important to me than my relationship with him and I firmly believe that he is one of my biggest allies I have on this earth. Non-verbal communication relies on assumptions based on your knowledge of the other person.  It is impersonal though and leads to numerous mistakes.  My prayer is that one day their will be healthy, two-way communication between us to go along with all the non-verbal stuff that we are so good at. 

Tone is important when communicating with someone.  Tonee communicates much to the person who is being spoken too.  The quickest way to eliminate quality communication is by adopting an accusatory tone.  I have noticed that this tone runs in my family.  Common responses to questions or questions themselves become strange accusations.  Once offense is taken, quality communication goes out the window.  Being in my family, I have come to realize being a good communicator means not taking offense easily which means loving a person even when they are being crazy or are just being plain mean.  Becoming offended accomplishes little so I try to limit how often I take offense.  While I believe the world would be better off by practicing my take-little-to-no-offense method of life, I must also admit that I am not perfect at these things.  I take offense and get mad with the best of them.

There is grace though and I am thankful for it because remembering to give grace is key to being a good communicator.   Grace is important because without it, we would all just walk around bitter at each other.  People are obnoxious sometimes but everyone is obnoxious sometimes so that really is not saying much.  It helps me to place myself in other peoples shoes because it provides another perspective for me to examine myself by.  Having grace can negate offense which allows for smooth communication.

I realize that i may have oversimplified some of these things but I believe there are simple solutions to problems if we are willing and humble enough to seek them out.  This topic could be expounded upon many times over but they will not here.  Feel free to share what works for you or things you have learned in your journey to communicate with people. On to the 5 Things I Like and Don't Like!

1. I like Basketball.  National Basketball League mind you, not collegiate.  I am enamored with the NBA.  I also love all of the analytics that is now a thriving part of it.  About a year ago I embarked on a journey to understand basketball on both a nuts and bolts level and a historical level.  What a year its been! Seriously, the NBA is the best of the major sports in America and its not close.

2. Speaking of collegiate basketball, I do not like it.  I cannot think of a bigger waste of time other than the WNBA. Until NCAA players are required to stay in college, get a degree, and develop their skills further and mature as players and adults, I will not be a fan of NCAA basketball.  The one-and-done rule is stupid and makes a mockery of the "student-athlete" title.  Offenses are often slow and have very little creativity built in, at least from my eye.  Offenses are little more than a few pick rolls while the ball swings from side to side while the players look for a lane to dribble drive and pass out. 

3. I love to serve people more than I probably let on a lot of time I think.  It is literally my favorite thing to do things for people.  I never want anything in return. I just like to help. 

4. I don't like people who take a lot of selfies.  Not bad some times. But lets be real, if someone were to scroll through someones Instagram and Twitter and more than 15-20% are of your face, you need something else to do with your time. 

5. Celtic music holds the key to my heart.  Something about it transports me somewhere else.  I really cannot explain it.

Thanks for reading guys. God Bless