Saturday, July 26, 2008


Let me encourage you to read Leviticus chapters 1-6 and follow along with this blog. Notice the offerings made by Israel were a sweet "aroma" to God. Not the odor of the meat but the faith which prompted its presentation. "Sacrifice" is just that, a sacrifice. Lambs, goats and cattle marked the wealth of the people of the OT. When they sinned they had to sacrifice something. To kill such a valuable holding was indeed a sacrifice. The sacrifice could not be nay old goat. It had to be one of "proper value" since it was being offered to pay the "penalty" for sin. So when sin takes place it comes with a price tag - that price has to be paid. Not just anything will do.
So, what is valuable enough to pay for the sins of the whole world (See 1 John 2:1-2). Only God himself. The death of one divine was the price of payment for our sin. this follows exactly what our father set forth as the remedy for sin.
What more can I do not be saved? Nothing. The price is paid in full. All God requires of us is faith in what HE has done. No matter how bad - Jesus is worth it. Forgiveness if offered at the price of Christ if we will receive it in faith. Jesus is the sweet aroma - not us. God paid the penalty - not us. Once for all the sacrifice was made - by God, not us. There is nothing for us to do but trust. Foree

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


As we travel along dealing with the eventualities of life whatever they may be we are left finally with one enduring blessing from Reading the book of Hebrews, Christ, the anointed one, replaces every man made effort to reach God. Angels, tabernacles, Holy Of Holies, lamp stands, lavers for washing, washings themselves, animal sacrifices, the sprinkling of blood on everything pertaining the the tabernacle or temple were all replaced with Christ. Jesus himself became the sacrifice for our sins, a pleasing aroma to God. John says Jesus atoned for the sins of the whole world.
Now what more can we do to reach out to God? Is there any prayer or effort more capable of pleasing the Father than all that Christ has done? If we suffer from "not doing enough" what can we do at all? Is there any wonder that Paul said we are saved "by grace through faith?" It is trusting Christ that makes all the difference. Having faith that he has done enough before the Father and now sits with the Father to plead our case (1 John 2:1-2).
Too often we worry about our place in eternity when Jesus has given us the right to walk right into the Holy of Holies and be in the presence of God (Hebrews 10). So, with all of our weaknesses and thorns and trials and worries there is one worry those of faith do not have...that is if we have done enough. Christ has already done it.

Monday, July 21, 2008


So recently given a number of very significant thorns, mostly in the lives of others this time, I am reminded of how ready I am to see the Lord. It would be of great relief to hear the trumpet about now. It is not depression or a death focus it is just the relief which will come when the end is upon us and the reality of the thorny world is no longer a reality.
I suppose the end times, eschatology as the scholars call it, has never been a very pleasant thought to me. I remember singing There's a Great Day Coming and always being more focused on the Sad Day Coming than the Great Day Coming. To me, growing up, judgment was a a thing to be avoided as long as possible. Stay alive for as many years as you can because judgment is at best a chancy thing. I might make it but then again I might not so, since eternity is so long it is better to stay here and put off the inevitable as long as possible.
Not so today...a new perspective for me (relatively speaking I have had it awhile now) is that judgment day is not about me but about me IN CHRIST. The focus of Jesus' new order is that He is the focus, HE is the Savior, Friend, Sacrifice, Obedience etc...HE IS THE WAY (John 14) I cannot come to the Father except through HIM. HE himself is the peace for which people look, he is the forgiveness people need and he is the hope every person lives on, or should live on. The eschatology of Christ is that HE takes care of the final days. He has prepared a place and HE will come again to get me, all of us...we simply trust Him to do what he said HE would fine...COME LORD end to the thorns will be right nice...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why It Is So Hard....

There is a word used in the book of James, a Greek word, that is translated in English as "trial" and "tempt." How the word is translated has to do with context because both "trial" and "tempt" are proper translations.
Hardship, trial, suffering, difficulty and problems are part and parcel of our lives. Perplexity (see 2 Corinthians 4:7-12) is just as important a facet of our existence as is relief. But it is perplexity and being "hard pressed" (trial) which make us what we are to be. After Jesus had been here for awhile and lived the human trek the Hebrews writer said "he learned obedience through the things that he suffered (5:8), "even though he was a son." Peter, who struggled along mightily, wrote in his first letter that it is the "fire" that tests and proves our faith in God (1 Peter 1:4-9) and the brother of Jesus would say that it is "trial" that matures us as we have faith in God (James 1:1-18). So hardship, suffering and trial make us...they are necessary as we move along in life. They are the thorns which put our trust in God to the test...
Back to this word translated "trial" and "temptation." In the midst of our trial, our testing, however long it may last and however intense it might be, there is another spirit being doing its best to pull us away from faith/trust. As in Genesis 3 he speaks another word than God's word and seeks to get us to focus on what we like or an experience we might cherish. He tells us lies about what is right and uses rationalization (ours) to create a new perspective. He redefines truth and often makes us the author of it instead of God. HE is a liar and Jesus even said lying was his "native language." So in the midst of our suffering, trial, hardship or perplexity the tempter is there turning TRAIL into TEMPTATION.
The line between trial and temptation is a thin line which cannot be seen. It is the invisible line of faith in the God who remains outside our tangible world. Faith is evidence of that which we do not see (Hebrews 11). When the thorns arrive God demands we trust him and that is the trial. The "father of lies" tells us God us not trustworthy and that we should lean on ourselves, our wisdom, our insight, our mental and physical strength. That is when "trial" which is for our own good and growth is turned into temptation. The difference between trial andtemptation remains a thin invisible line. Drawing close to God demands trial and when the trial comes the other one tries to turn it into temptation...that is why it is so hard...for trial to work we trust the God whom we have not seen...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thorns - Here They Come Again

The last two and one half weeks have been a mixture of glory to God for his creation and for rest and praise to God for being there when once again life is interrupted with a thorn or two. Part of my family and I gathered at our cabin in southern Colorado for some relaxation. Last winter the snow fall was over the top. That resulted in a lot of run off and very green fields and mountain sides and rivers and streams full to the brim and running at very high speeds. The rivers were so fast that dry flies cast into them were just swept along. The calm spots were few and far between and in those spots the fish did not respond very well at all. So, fishing was difficult and in some places impossible. But was it ever green and beautiful. The cabin time was warm, familial and relaxing. Eating, games, resting, reading, visiting etc...were the plans of the day with fishing interspersed throughout. We did manage to catch come 44 Brookies at the beaver ponds and have a nice meal on Friday before we left for home.
In the middle of the two week vacation and family gathering a very wonderful lady at our home died. She had been in a battle with cancer, had to leave her teaching job which she loved and became clinically depressed. Her depression and loss of perspective took her away from her husband of 25 years and her two teenage daughters and many very close friends. "Thorns,"... they arrive at any time with no respect for time, energy, patience etc...they just come. I flew home for the funeral and was blessed to be of service to the family.
So when thorns arrive coming for whatever reason we can only respond in faith. It means we trust God no matter how terrible the circumstance to guide us along as we try and do our best in response. It is here that God's grace is most visible. He works through various individuals in various ways depending on the gifts He has given. Some are there for words to say, others for prayers they pray and many to hold and reassure and just be present. It is time to trust, explanations fall short of offering real relief. Theological discussions touch the mind but in these moments it is the heart felt needs that have to be addressed. What we have learned, what we know and believe about God (theology) is lived out personally in the interaction of souls in times of high grief and stress.
The most amazing thing is God at work, doing His thing like He did when He caused the snow of the winter in cold Colorado to green the spring fields and wet the dry summer. Amazing as that is to see and enjoy it is even more amazing to see our Savior at work in people in time of thorny tragedy. That is the real blessing. For His grace I am thankful.