Jesus is awesome.
The word gets used a lot. It genuinely applies to Jesus. The more we get to know Him the more awe He inspires.
I know it’s not common for many Christians to study the Old Testament. Leviticus may get the least attention. Yet, the books of Moses are extremely helpful in understanding the awe-inspiring nature of Jesus. In fact, Jesus plainly taught that Moses wrote about Him:
“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47, bold added)
One thing always stands out as I read Leviticus. Instructions about how to avoid becoming unclean. Unclean is a ceremonial and religious term, not necessarily a sanitary term. It speaks about a condition that separates the unclean, at least temporarily, from fellowship with the community and with the Lord.
Leviticus speaks about unclean or uncleanness 128 times in 90 verses. The book of Leviticus itself is only composed of 859 verses. The words “unclean” or “uncleanness” appear explicitly in more than 10% of the book. The surrounding verses often continue the discussion. So, it is safe to assume that this concept is pretty important to understanding the point of Leviticus.
Many New Testament believers find this subject boring. Irrelevant. A waste of time. For the nation of Israel it was incredibly important to know and understand how to remain ceremonially clean. It was essential for their life and worship. But how is this relevant for believers who are not under the Law?
The concept, when rightly understood, isn’t boring at all. It should increase our awareness of who Jesus is. What He has done for His people. How glorious and awesome He is.
Every job has certain occupational hazards. One of the hazards of being a preacher is getting funny looks or outbursts from the people you are preaching to.
I’ve been preaching and teaching for about a decade. I’ve seen some interesting things in that time. I know I missed a good amount in the years I preached without my glasses. I couldn’t really see anyone clearly past the third or fourth row. Now, I see it all.
By far the most hostile and aggressive hearers I’ve encountered are those who have heard me preach outside of the church building. When proclaiming God’s Word in the open-air you should expect a little more… colorful responses. Preaching in the safety of your own church building tends to minimize the negativity and hostility.
But not always.
Once when preaching on everybody’s favorite subject – obedience – a young woman emphatically crossed her arms, made eye contact with me, then stuck her tongue out. Her body language perfectly communicated her distaste for the topic at hand. She wanted to make her dissatisfaction with my topic clear to me.
I get it. Teaching obedience isn’t popular. It can be labeled as being legalistic. But it’s part of the Great Commission whether we like it or not.
Do this. Don’t do that.
Shop here. Don’t shop there.
This is acceptable. That is an abomination.
Is this really what following Jesus is all about?
Don’t get me wrong. Christianity does have a moral code. That’s undeniable.
And that moral code is not popular. Not by a long shot. The Bible is clear that the moral code is contrary to the flesh. By definition it goes against the grain of fallen human nature.
But Christianity isn’t moralism. Continue reading
Many people have heard of the “problem of evil” or the “problem of suffering” – but the problem of God’s goodness? For many people that’s a new one.
As I’ve shared the gospel over the years I have heard people bring up the problem of suffering many times. The basic version asserts that any god who is all-powerful, all-good, and all-knowing would eliminate suffering and ensure that bad things don’t happen to good people. Yet, clearly the world contains much suffering.
Many people who are seemingly decent have terrible things happen to them. Human action can’t account for all of the suffering either. Natural disasters bring suffering to both kind and unkind people equally.
Of course, this philosophical objection is merely a straw man. It may be a strong argument against the god of the philosophers. This god exists only in theory. It is a non-argument against the living God revealed in the Bible. The reason is not because the logic fails. The reason is because the argument fails to account for God’s goodness.
The problem of God’s goodness is the one we need to worry about. Continue reading
I always enjoy seeing how different movies characterize John the Baptist. In the portrayals I’ve seen he usually looks like a wild-eyed lunatic.
I get it. He lived in the desert. He ate bugs and honey. He wore a belt.
None of this means he lived like a crazy person.
No doubt John was a bit eccentric. Jesus had pretty high praise for John, though.
I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. (Matthew 11:11a NET)
There are many noteworthy characteristics in John’s life and ministry. However, one always stands out to me. And it wasn’t that he ate honey or that he wore a belt. Continue reading
I love Christmas.
You probably wouldn’t know it by observing my activities.
I don’t decorate my house. I couldn’t care less about having a Christmas tree. I’m pretty sure I haven’t gone Christmas shopping in over a decade. I don’t dream of a white Christmas. Sugar plum fairies don’t dance in my head.
We don’t play Santa, Elf on the shelf, or any other reindeer games.
I will admit that I eat my fair share of Christmas cookies. Otherwise, Christmas for me is pretty much like any other time of year.
So why do I love Christmas? Continue reading
One of my favorite holidays is approaching followed immediately by one of my least favorite days of the year: Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
I like to eat. I hate to shop. I love jellied cranberry sauce. I strongly dislike waiting in lines. I desire to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude in my heart and home. I want to put to death the covetousness that dwells in my flesh in obedience to God’s Word.
Immediately following a day that is supposed to be dedicated to giving thanks for what we have is a day that offers deals on everything we don’t. People will wait in lines, sleep outside, and fight with each other to get the best value on stuff that no one really needs but seemingly everyone wants.
As we get closer to Black Friday I am thankful that the greatest value is something that I don’t need to wait in line for or wrestle out of someone else’s hands. Neither do you. Continue reading
I had the privilege last weekend to share the gospel together with Christians from four different local churches. I love the unity of believers who worship the same God but in a different building than I do.
Over the years of walking with Jesus I have had countless conversations with non-believers about the gospel. Last weekend I had a conversation with a young man that I feel like I’ve had a thousand times all by itself.
This particular young man was kind, candid, gracious, and polite. As is the case with many non-believers, he had never personally read the whole Bible for himself. His understanding of Christianity was based primarily on his experience living in America.
Hearing Christian cliches. Reading bumper stickers. Talking with people who identify themselves as Christians. Seeing stereotypical Christians portrayed in the media.
During our conversation this young man said to me something along these lines (I’m paraphrasing): “I just find it hard, personally, to believe in a god that doesn’t care about all the suffering in the world. A god who is supposedly all good and loving and powerful, yet who seems to maybe even enjoy allowing so much bad stuff to happen. If some people want to believe in god because it gives them hope, I get that. But I don’t.” Continue reading
My children enjoy making obstacle courses in our backyard and basement. They enjoy racing against each other to see who can get through the course the fastest. Some adults enjoy obstacle courses.
I am not one of those adults.
Obstacles are annoying to me. I prefer a straight, smooth course. Even still, life is filled with obstacles. They are unavoidable. We must learn to deal with them.
Everyone who desires to live as a witness of Jesus Christ needs to understand three common obstacles to the salvation of others. We must understand and look for them so we can faithfully navigate the way. Continue reading
When I was growing up I was taught that you don’t talk politics or religion. At least, not with strangers. Better to keep these topics “in-house.” Only bring either of these up when you know the people you are conversing with already agree with you.
If you’re not careful these two topics can be polarizing. It can get heated pretty quickly.
After becoming a Christian, I found out that followers of Christ are commanded to talk religion. It’s the Great Commission. We are supposed to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.
We can’t do that without opening our mouths. We have to talk about it. We have to tell people about Jesus. Who He is. What He taught. Why it matters.
I also found that when followers of Christ are humble and loving in their evangelism that many people – even strangers – don’t mind the conversation. Surely, some people still get pretty upset whenever someone talks about Jesus. But this isn’t new.
Experience has taught me that politics can sometimes be much more treacherous territory than religious talk. That’s not what concerns me. Continue reading