Sailing with Jesus in the Hold

We know that Jesus is our anchor, but that is a metaphor about assurance that only works when there is a storm, or port – the idea that we need to firmly stay put and Jesus holds us in place amidst the tossing seas. Anchors keep ships in one place. And that is a helpful image at times, but if it is the only nautical metaphor we employ for Jesus it gives us the impression that the Christian life is meant to be static and safe.

Ships are made to sail, though. The Spirit is like the wind, going where He will and our job is to learn how to sail. Not play it safe in a cozy cove somewhere. Another helpful metaphor for Jesus, in terms of ships, is ballast. Ballast is weight used to keep a ship steady and upright in the water. Anything can be used as ballast, whatever is in the hold of a ship must be evenly distributed to keep the ship sailing properly; ballast keeps a ship stable.

Imagine a modern freighter where all the containers of Camry’s are on the port side and all the containers of Duracell batteries are on the starboard side. That ship would list and roll. In wooden ships they carried over 3,000 gallons of water and after three months at sea, the weight shifts, so the barrels, the resources, the ballast needs shifting.

When you get the ballast wrong what happens is either the ship is tossed about like a cork in a hurricane or the ship can’t sail properly – it’s sluggish and unresponsive to the rudder or it lists to one side and no amount of wind can get the ship up to top speed. Continue reading “Sailing with Jesus in the Hold”

Love is Our Livery

1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.” John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” Col. 3:14 “…put on love…”

Are you known in your circle of friends and relations as a Christian? Do the people at the supermarket where you shop and the club where you work out and the people on your commute look at you and know that you are a Christian?

Should they? In the OT the people of God were known as the people of God because of their dress (tassels, beard curls, the cloth and cut of their robes, etc.) They were also known by their behavior and by their speech.

How are the NT believers known as the people of God if all of the clothing and purity laws have been fulfilled in Jesus?

The Apostles instruct us to be clothed in love; to put on love like you put on a robe. Jesus said love would be the identifying marker of Christians. That love would be our livery.

What is a livery?

It’s not simply a uniform. It’s more than that. It is clothing but it’s a sign of covenant; of fidelity and family. Continue reading “Love is Our Livery”

Escaping the Christian Ghetto of the “church”

Individuals are saved into a community. St. Paul refers to this community as a temple of the Lord. This temple is unfinished. It’s a work in progress.

It’s an ever-expanding renovation project, acquiring new people, new tribes, new lands and new areas of human culture – sanded, refitted, resurfaced, polished and repurposed – without end – from the rivers to the end of the earth.

It’s messy but this building is being shaped into something beautiful that houses the Triune God.

But like all renovation projects, in which you are still trying to live in it – it strains patience, strains belief, strains our ability to envision the final product – it requires a lot of faith and hope.

We all know that.

People sin. Circumstances of life are difficult. People move away. People in church are not perfect. Resources are strained.

The people being repurposed into this building, the church, are delicate and difficult, they require specialized tools. And those tools are you and me.

I don’t know if you know this – but you – with all your attributes, life experiences, frailties and character traits – complete me. Without you I am a foot without a leg, an ear without a head.

You were born to have a significant role in my life. To play the part of sandpaper and duct tape. Pry bar and finishing hammer. Veneer and scrub brush. Congratulations. But I also complete you. This community is not the elders. This community is not a select clique.

You need everyone in this community. Not just the folks whose company you enjoy most – who are the most compatible, likeable, lovable and the least work.

I instill a lot of patience in people, by nature, because it takes a lot of patience to be close to me. Ask my wife. There is a fruit of the spirit that you are most adequately equipped to encourage in me. Trust me. Continue reading “Escaping the Christian Ghetto of the “church””

Empty and Wide Open

Death and resurrection aren’t just events, they are a process. Jesus didn’t die so that you could live, he died so that you could die. To your sin, to death, to temptation, to worldly passions and desires. Jesus lives so that you can live.

Jesus went into the grave so that you would stop fearing the grave to live a life of hope. He rose so that you can rise. He died under sin so you could die to sin. He died under the curse to free you from the curse.

This is a process called sanctification. You are embroiled in something. Covetousness, lies, debauchery, drunkenness. You murder in your hearts. Back bite, gossip, slander and lust. You justify your sin and condemn others while your spiritual life is choked with self-reliance, envy and shame. Don’t fear that death. Put it to death. Continue reading “Empty and Wide Open”

God Vowed to Walk There With Them

Zampieri - Adam et Ève (détail)
Zampieri – Adam et Ève (détail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had  enjoyed with man.

In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading “God Vowed to Walk There With Them”

The Liturgy of Covenant Renewal worship

Landscape with Noah's Thank Offering (painting...
Landscape with Noah’s Thank Offering (painting circa 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leviticus 1:1-9 ESV “The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron‘s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.”

  1. Call to Worship: God calls the worshiper to draw near. In response to God’s call the worshiper comes with the appropriate animal. Lev. (1:1-2).
  2. Consecration: God moves the priests to cut up the animal, making it fit to ascend the altar into God’s fiery presence. The worshiper/animal must not only die, but it is necessary that he be properly prepared for God’s holy presence. (Lev. 1:6-7)
  3. Commissioning: Once the sacrifice is over, Yahweh sends the worshiper out renewed and empowered for service in the kingdom. (Num. 6:22-27).

There are various ways in which this can be expressed. Jesus Christ fulfills and established the genuine meaning and practice of sacrifice and offering. Sacrificial images and rites are part of the central core of the biblical revelation of the personal relations between God and man (from Gen. 3:21 through Rev. 21:22-27). The way of sacrifice, therefore, transcends the Mosaic institution of animal sacrifice. Better yet, the sacrificial rituals of the Old Testament are not merely ad hoc arrangements,  but rather are grounded in the rich relational life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sacrifice reveals something of the nature of what it meant for God to be personal (Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to one another sacrificially).

In the New Testament the old animal sacrificial typology is fulfilled by Christ and in the believer who is united to Christ by faith. In union with Christ – who offered Himself as the sacrifice – we not only have the penalty for sin removed, but we are also being made in acceptable sacrifice by faith. The promise is that if we offer ourselves to the Father through Christ in the Spirit we will become what God has destined us for – men and women remade in the image of God.

Sacrafice in the New Covenant

Like Marriage (which is a human covenant modeled after God’s covenant with his church, Eph. 5:22-33), God’s covenant with us has a definitive form and content. Furthermore, there is a distinctive way of renewing covenantal relations in the Bible, and that is by way of sacrifice (Gen. 8:20-9:17; Exod. 24:4-11; Lev. 24:1-8; Ps. 50:5).The way of sacrifice has not been abrogated: animal sacrifices have. Much of the language used to describe the Church and the Christian life in the New Testament is derived from the tabernacle, temple, and sacrificial system. This means that the reality of life in the new age was pre-figured in the sacrificial rituals of the old age. Hebrews 10:1 identifies the ritual/sacrificial system as the “shadow of the good things to come.” Jesus’ sacrifice not only did away with the old animal offerings, it also illumined for the Church the true meaning of the sacrificial rituals for life and liturgy. Continue reading “Sacrafice in the New Covenant”