Sunday, December 29, 2013
This morning I awoke with a vision.
In no ordinary way thoughts came to me about the temple. The Bible says in Hebrews 9, "Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now."
Once a year the High Priest would enter the the Most Holy Place and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. The sacrifice was required, but remained insufficient for permanently cleansing the people who offered the sacrifice.
I was not given a glimpse into the Most Holy Place this morning, neither was I given special insight into the reason God fashioned the temporary requirement of animal sacrifice. What was given to me was a powerful sense of waiting outside for the High Priest to return form making the sacrifice.
For all the difficult things to understand in the Old Testament covenant and culture one thing was made simple, the people knew where to find God. He was in the tabernacle. It is not like God was waiting in the tabernacle like a genie in a lamp. In 2 Chronicles 7:15-16 the Lord appears to Solomon and promises, "No my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this place so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there."
Returning to the temple meant returning to God. And once a year those who faithfully sough His presence would gather to see if their sacrifice was accepted.
Recently God has been filling my heart with the desire to return to him, like those people who would return to the temple. I want to wait. For some time now I have been exploring my options, living how I please, and hurting the Spirit that God has put in me. Will God accept the sacrifice I bring? I can quickly spout off accurate theology that God permanently and perfectly accepts the sacrifice of Jesus. The death the perfect Son of God died, he died for me. But that truth is not offered for us to forgetfully go about our lives. That is not faith. Faith hungers and thirst. "O god, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you" (Psalm 63:2-5).
Will you wait with me?
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Sometimes I am not sure if I really want to be like Jesus. Truthfully, I am not sure what my other options are, but I am certain of what I am rejecting when it comes to this decision.
Selflessness, that's what I'm rejecting.
When I don't want to be like Jesus it is because I am done with trying to be like him. I can't do it. Something always frustrates my attempts. My attempts only peel back the layers of good intentions to show something unpleasant beneath.
Inside I need grace. Grace that will come like a careful surgeon and skillfully fix what I do not have the ability to reach. Internal issues that require a surgeon cannot be figured out by a butcher wielding a butter knife. Both will make cuts, but only one will prove to be healing.
Every Christmas we celebrate the birth of the finest soul surgeon. He came to make the cut. And he used the sharpest tool: love.
Christmas is always a day of paradox. On one hand we see the complete selflessness of God and on the other hand we often spend a good deal of time setting the stage to put ourselves front and center. So often gift giving is more to prove a point than to simply lavish love.
We have this example:
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1 John 4:9-11)
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Thursday, December 29, 2011
To mortals death is a paradox. It is both awaited and postponed. It is completely contrary to life, but it is intimately involved in the complete living process. “Though man’s nature is mortal, God had destined man not to die,” says the Roman Catholic Catechism. It is not that man does not know how to die; he does not know how to do it well. Scharz reminds us that “there is no good death, as the term ‘euthanasis’ (meaning ‘good death’ in Greek) intimates. Death is always ambiguous; it can be a release from suffering, but it is always the loss of life.” We do not know how to die well because we do not know how to preserve life (not speaking merely biologically)—that which we have always striven to maintain. Jean-Paul Sarte saw death as a loss of meaning, but it is only so if life already lacked meaning. If we see life only being healthy vital signs then death is simply a period marking the end of life. But that would fail to acknowledge any meaning in the actions that have been lived. It would be the same as saying that there is no difference between breathing and laughing or that a runner has no more meaning because the course was is completed. The Apostle Paul speaks in the same metaphor revealing the only way to actually die well: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Thursday, December 8, 2011
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