Doxology (Jude 24-25)

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." - Jude 24-25

You may have heard this as a doxology at some point if you come from a church which does that sort of thing.

I just wanted to comment on how this brief verse contains so many things. First of all its a prayer and ends with "Amen". Next it contains worship and adoration speaking of God's strength in ability to "keep you from stumbling and present you blameless." Then it reminds us Jesus is God, Savior, and Lord.

Finally it worships the Lord with a call for glory, majesty, dominion, and authority - things which are already His and always will be His - to be ascribed to Him forever.

Jude was brilliant. I hope I can learn prayers as beautiful and concise so as to praise and worship my heavenly father.

Our God holds the keys to Death and Hades - sweet (Revelation 1:17b-18)

"But he laid his right hand on me, saying, 'Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.'" - Revelation 1:17b-18

The more scripture I read and the more I write about it, the more I'm shocked at just how much of the scripture declares the awesomeness of our God. I've said before when I pray I have a difficult time 'adoring' the Lord as part of my daily routine. But it has gotten easier and part of it is reading all this adoration scripture.

Our God is the first and the last. He died, yet he is the living one, who will endure forever. In fact he holds the keys to Hell and Death. How crazy is that? He can lock up Death and make it go away, and he will someday. He can lock up Hades and make it a place no one can any longer go. As the one with the keys He decides when the door is shut, locked, dead-bolted (pun intended), barred up.

Satan no longer has the keys and when the Lord so chooses He'll close that door forever. He endures forever. He is alive forevermore and can not be bound by death despite the best efforts on behalf of His enemy.

Our God is worthy of praise because is the first. He is the last. He lives forever. He passed through death and conquered it. Took the keys to Death and to Hades.

Our God is an awesome God.

(p.s. How freaked out would you be if a God this powerful put His hand on you when he talked to you. I imagine I'd probably wet my pants among other things)

Sunday Scripture Day (Zechariah 1:3-4)

"Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD." - Zechariah 1:3-4

James a servant. Me, proud. (James 1:1)

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ . . ." - James 1:1

Who in their right mind considers themselves a 'servant' of their older brother? I have an older brother, and I'll tell you its about the last thing I would ever do.

Why is it that the brother of Jesus (probably) is able to understand his place in the Kingdom of God and I - a nobody - can so often desire to be an equal with God rather than a servant?

What is it about my pride that's different than that of the apostles? I really wonder, had met Jesus face to face would He be so strikingly authoritative and in love with His Father I would immediately know my place? Or would I continue to think the way I do now?

How is it that I can have a relationship with the Lord and frequently see His magnificence and yet be so quick to try to be anything in God's Kingdom except His servant?

When am I going to get my act together and live the things I know in my head? When will it be natural, obvious, or easy? And why can I see freedom from so many sins in so many areas of my life but be unwilling to give up my pride, do I really think that highly of myself?

I think I do.

I long to be a servant of Christ but I think so highly of myself as to see who will be my servant. How long O Lord? Save me from my pride and help me to humbly accept the worthless state I am in apart from you.

Don't sin by NOT doing something. That's just sad. (James 4:17)

"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." - James 4:17

James is sometimes a scary book. There's a lot in it that certainly makes me feel like I'm saved by works and if I'm not working enough then I might not be saved. I easily fall into trying to earn my salvation even though I very much think this isn't what the book is trying to say.

Then I get here and read about sins of omission. Things I know I'm supposed to do and then don't. Like when I know I'm supposed to give to a beggar or take him to lunch but I walk by instead, somehow justifying the hurry I'm in. Or when I know I'm supposed to stop and ask the guy on the street if I can pray for him, but I don't.

It's odd how you almost have to train yourself to do the things you know you're supposed to. I frequently feel like I'm supposed to stop and pray for people. Last week I saw a girl walking down the street shaking like she was suffering from MS or something (I don't know what it was) and I felt like I was supposed to go pray for her. It's awkward sometimes, but I have a standard opening line.

"Excuse me, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable but I believe in a powerful God and if it's okay with you I'd like to pray for you real quick." Then I ask if I can pray for healing or whatever the stink it is I feel like should pray for.

When I walk by these people it becomes harder and harder to ever stop and do what I'm supposed to. But when I stop and do it, it gets easier every next time and I like doing what I know I should be doing.

That said, in college once I walked by the boss of my boss (I worked for the University while I was attending) walked by me on the street and I had recently found out that he had HIV from a very promiscuous homosexual lifestyle years before. I walked right by him saying "No way Lord" when I knew I was supposed to pray. Turning around and running back to catch him was as awkward of a thing as I've ever done. But he was very thankful for someone to lay hands on him and pray for him. Touched I think would be the right word.

I know God wanted to use that situation. I'm glad I didn't fail to do it. I wonder about how he might have used the situations I walked right by. I hate the idea of a sin of omission. But when God wants to make use of you, if you pass it by you're probably passing by a pretty cool opportunity.

Don't miss what he has. Don't miss the opportunities for blessing, or giving, or healing, or whatever it is He calls you to. A regular sin is usually doing something sinful because we know it will satisfy us. Sins of omission are lame because it's NOT doing what will satisfy us (if not in this life then in the next) AND sinning.

Just a thought.

A theology worth embracing. Issues worth ignoring. Bringing our faith elsewhere.

I do ministry in a sensitive location. Due to a growing number of Christians but a strong government opposition to the faith we are raising up churches mostly underground. There are many different networks of churches but everyday we wrestle with what theological points are necessary to bring to these to people and what aren't.

What should church government look like outside of America? Is it okay to dance? To drink? Can women lead or not? What's Biblical and what's not? What's significant and what's not? What are the majors that we can major in them and not the minors?

In a place where you're faith is daily a matter of life and death or at least personal safety it's shocking to see how differently Christianity is embraced than in America. In America where it's acceptable to be a Christian we have the time to worry about our eschatology, are we dispensational or covenantal? Calvinist or Armenian?

Here I daily interact with people who know the word inside and out but never make it to such questions. For them life is about worshiping God, following God, honoring God despite opposition, and bringing the gospel to all those around them.

Now I'm a firm believer that our theology will affect how we live daily. But I also look at what we did to the Koreans. Korea is one of the most successful missionary stories of all time. We brought Christianity to Korea like no one ever has. They are prayer warriors in a way most Americans can never dream and through it they have saved their nation.

That said, we also taught them they shouldn't dance. Shouldn't drink. Ever. Can't smoke.

I absolutely abhor the idea that we taught them there is something evil about dancing. How could we teach them not to drink when Jesus' first miracle was turning water to wine? And what do they do when in a situation where they're asked to share a cigarette with a poor friend and it is a great way to open and door and discussion? I'm not arguing these things should be outright embraced, but certainly not outright forbidden yet we have made a whole nation full of people who think this way.

So what does life look like when we major in the majors? How do we grow a church and raise up leaders in a country where people are turning to the Lord in droves but few of them are educated enough to lead a church? What does it look like for a person who has been a believer for 10 years to not know a thing about the end times, but only know that Jesus is coming back? How do view someone who has led hundreds to salvation but has never heard of dispensationalism or covenant theology?

Finally, when a movement is growing so fast its hard to control, what sort of church leadership do we raise up? Should the churches be presbyterian? Congregational? What do we do if the people value one strong all powerful leader, but power leads to corruption? Do we raise up leaders and make them accountable to fit the culture or do we challenge the cultural norm with what we believe is a Biblical norm?

These are all issues I deal with everyday.

I love seeing hordes of believers who don't know about the minors. They care about God and advancing His kingdom. In America I went to see a doctor. The nurse saw I was reading a book about the Psalms and asked me straight out if I believed in "Replacement theology." Who are these people? How can I answer such questions that seem petty to me in light of the significance of others coming to faith?

I've offered up far more questions than answers. But I challenge you to consider what is major and what is minor. How many hours of your life have you spent worrying about a correct interpretation of Revelation rather than saving your neighbor from the burning fires of eternal damnation? How many hours have I spent? How many hours SHOULD be spent on theology and how many on evangelism?

If you were to bring your faith elsewhere, what would you major in? Would you be so 'emergent' that people would miss Jesus but catch the new church movement? Would you be so die hard about one theology that you would forget to explain the trinity?

How do we live in a world that needs salvation, but reconcile our own views and theology?

(I posted this at OpenSourceTheology.net which I visit occasionally, if you wish to comment please do so there to keep the discussion all in one place, here is that link: http://www.opensourcetheology.net/node/1598)

Freedom through servant-hood (1 Peter 2:16)

"Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God." - 1 Peter 2:16

What I love about this verse is the juxtaposition of free and servant. One of the interesting things we struggle with as believers is the dilemma of not living unless we die, and here not knowing freedom unless we submit ourselves to servant-hood.

Our freedom comes from God. It is only through serving Him and obeying His every command that we truly know freedom. This is because we ourselves are slaves to sin unless we choose something better, like God. When we do not submit ourselves to God we are bound by our own limits, misunderstandings, and frequently our own stupidity.

We make poor choices because we don't know how to live our lives fully. But our Creator? He knows. And when we serve Him we are listening to the one who knows how to have the most fun, the most freedom, the most joy.

The trick is to not confuse our freedom with satisfying our sinful desires, which is not freedom but slavery. When we use our freedom as a cover-up for evil we're choosing to follow someone or something which does not know how to live as well as our Creator.

Therefore, go and through obedience learn to enjoy your freedom as a servant of God.

You foolish person, faith apart from works is uselss (James 2:20)

"Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?" - James 2:20

For the class I'm about to take on Hebrews through Revelation (I've been doing the pre-reading for some time now) I will be required to write three papers where I pick a book of the cannon Heb-Rev and then write about how my life or ministry would be easier if that book did not exist.

This is a relatively odd assignment but the obvious answer for at least one of the papers is to discuss removing James and making the salvation by faith alone argument that much clearer. I really am appreciating that this class is helping me to understand how the writings of James and of Paul can be reconciled.

Anyhow, then I read this. It sounds like a threat. DO I want to know how faith apart from works is useless? I don't know if I do, I mean, if I'm going to be called foolish for it.

All of this is to argue the obvious outcome of faith is works. There really needs be nothing more said about this. If you're not exemplifying your faith with your works then there should be some doubt about your faith. You yourself should be concerned about your faith because true faith will affect your life in everything, especially your actions.

Anyone willing to take up this challenge? Ask God "How is faith apart from works useless?" And then come back and explain to me about your smiting. I'm curious.

His voice shook the earth (Hebrews 12:26)

"At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." - Hebrews 12:26

An earthquake is a scary thing, until God does it spiritually.

Jesus a priest because he is INDESTRUCTIBLE (Hebrews 7:15-16)

"This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life." - Hebrews 7:15-16

When you read this picture a movie preview for a DC comic with a deep voice, over the top voice over. The music intensifies and the voice drops even deeper as it says, "but by the power of an INDESTRUCTIBLE life."

How cool is it that our Jesus lived an indestructible life? How cool is it that if we knew someone else who lived an indestructible life we would make them into a superhero. Indestructible man. And how cool is it that our God is even bigger than that.

Superman was pretty tough, but not when he was around kryptonite. Our God doesn't have kryptonite. He is always stronger, always more powerful, and can always win whenever He wants to. He will win too. Our God is so much more infinitely powerful than His enemy that if we were to really understand the power gap we would think the battle was uninteresting because it is so weighted in God's favor.

I love this. Our God is a priest. Our Jesus is a priest. Not because of who His father was (a mere carpenter) or who His mother was (no offense Catholics, but she's hardly worthy of praise), but because he is indestructible.

By the power of an indestructible life.

Sunday Scripture Day (Psalm 145:9)

"The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made." - Psalm 145:9

If you're blessed, bless others eh. (Hebrews 6:7-8)

"For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned." - Hebrews 6:7-8

Reading this I'm just thinking about when God gives us good gifts. My God blesses me like crazy, giving and giving. I feel like I am constantly rained on and blessed to grow.

Now if I produce thistles then I'm near to being cursed. That's interesting. But if I'm producing a good and useful crop then I receive a blessing from God.

I seem to understand this as if we're being blessed we should bless others.

If we're being blessed frequently but then being a thorn to others then what good are we? What value are we? If we were a crop in a field and only hindered the good crops around us we would be uprooted and thrown away. But if we're producing things useful to the one who planted us, then we can expect to be continually watered and cared for.

If the Lord is blessing you, do what it takes to bless Him back and bless those around you. The Lord blesses me, I have no excuse.

How much more then if you're not being watered and you still produce a good fruit?

Alas - spelling is my downfall

Today I was looking through Google webmaster tools and looking at which searches returned my pages.

I was excited to see that in a search for evangelism on Google my site shows up as hit number 4.

Affliction - number 8
Despite - number 3

But then I looked closer

Turns out the words where I was at the top of the list were actually

evanglism, aflliction, and dispite.

Alas. Now that I've made the corrections I wonder if my traffic will substantially decrease... You win some, you lose some.

Jesus, perfect, therefore the source of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9)

"And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him . . ." - Hebrews 5:9

First of all, I desperately wanted to use the word "ergo" instead of therefore because I felt it slightly snobby. But feared the reading base would not understand. Is that even snobbier?

Someday I would like to be able to look back on my life and think I've saved someone's life. I have helped lead a few people to Jesus and I like to think that basically counts, but really it's Jesus doing the saving and I just get to play a part.

I don't know about you but I'm far from perfect. I can think of at least um... 5 things off the top of my head that make me less than perfect (and that's only because I'm willing to follow that train of thought to it's obvious conclusion down a road of millions of possibilities).

I'm fearful, selfish, unkind, self seeking, and just plane lame. What does your list include?

But God, in Jesus, being made perfect, became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. Awesome.

That's my God. Worthy of praise because of His perfection. Because of His awesome offering of Himself as salvation for me and you.

I'm learning to adore a bit better. I hope I can keep it up.

Jesus not prevented by death - awesome (Hebrews 7:23)

"The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office . . ." - Hebrews 7:23

What I love about this verse is the subtlety. Now the very next line, "but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever," (vs. 24) makes things pretty clear.

Basically, verse 23 would work without 24. And 24 mostly just serves to clarify things. But if you add 23 to 24 (stay with me here) it's emphasizing the fact that Jesus not only continues forever, but that He is not bound by death. We know this to be true, but this verse states in emphasis of what is coming.

Jesus lives forever, even death cannot stop Him.

We have a high priest who can identify with us, who was tempted as we are. He loves, cares for us, even died for us, but death could not hold Him back. Death could prevent Him from nothing. Anything our God wants to do He can do because He is not bound by death.

We are kept from jumping from high places or going too long without air. We are prevented by death from seeing God face to face. But Jesus? He can do all of that. Our high priest doesn't even need the blood of anyone or anything else.

Our God cannot even be stopped by death. Not like the former priests. He lives forever.

God supplies my every need (Phil 4:19)

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:19

I have a friend who strongly feels we should give big gifts. His argument is that the Lord has all the money in the world. This may apply, as I assume this verse does refer to money amongst other things...

In addition I'm thinking of joy, satisfaction, love, etc...

I read a thing today about Larry Crabb arguing that believer's are confused when they think the life of the believer is better than the life of the non believer without the promise of heaven. I completely disagree.

I believe the Lord has supplied me with a hope, a joy, a freedom, and an understanding in life that I could never have apart from Him. I've been fearful, sinful, boastful, and weak. Now I'm brave, saved, more and more humble, and stronger every day because the Lord.

Everyday I live a life of more satisfaction than any of my non-believing friends. I do believe that sin satisfies, but only for a very short time. I believe listening to the one who created us and His guidance helps us understand how to really live. I believe that He gives, and He gives, and He gives.

Because I have received. The God I worship is worth living for today, not just for the promise of heaven. His riches (be it money, or joy, or salvation, or hope) are worth far more than anything else I can fathom. And I can testify He gives generously.

Sunday Scripture Day (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

"'But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.'" - Jeremiah 31:33-34

He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement (John 16:8-11)

"And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." - John 16:8-11

Do you remember back before we had the Holy Spirit? I can't say that I do. And I'm quite thankful. When I read this verse I remember Jeremiah saying, "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:33b).

It's hard to fathom that there was a time when people weren't necessarily sure what was right and what was wrong. Even stranger is the things we sometimes are not convinced of. It seems like the Lord convicts us of things slowly, almost because we cant possibly deal with all our sin at once.

But we now have the Holy Spirit. He convicts us and the world regarding sin, righteousness and judgment. Thank God for His provision for us in choosing to dwell in us that we may all know the Lord.

A priest who continues forever (Hebrews 7:23-24)

"The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever." - Hebrews 7:23-24

There is no need for Jesus to die again and again on the cross. His sacrifice was sufficient.

We do not need many saviors because Jesus did not die and then cease to exist, He lived again. His priesthood is forever because He endures forever.

I frequently have conversations with people who ask me about God and how He could do certain things. Every time I end up back at the same thing, "You cannot comprehend because you are thinking of a man, not God." That is, they put God in a box and think of Him as limited by the same things that man is.

Again, I'll inevitably say something about how pleased I am to worship a limitless God. An infallible, all powerful, all knowing, all loving God. Not a God like a man. My God doesn't change day to day, doesn't have bad moods and good moods. Doesn't get overwhelmed. Doesn't want to quit. Doesn't give into temptation.

Indeed we have a wonderful high priest. A priest, who will not lose His priesthood. Does not need to be a priest again. Who made a sacrifice which will last forever. Who loves us, identifies with us, died for us. And continues forever.

Regard the Lord as holy. Defend your hope (1 Peter 3:15)

"But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." - 1 Peter 3:15

Regard Him as holy.
Be prepared to defend the hope within you.

I've lately been focused quite a bit on the latter but failing, as I think about it, with the former. I think there's something about being an American that makes it so I have a more informal attitude about everyone. That is, I regard most of my authority as questionable and challengeable.

In fact I have a particular personality that makes it so I feel unusually comfortable with my authority figures. Sometimes this makes it so I treat them with less respect than I should. I am aware of the personality, and I am aware I need to respect my authority... But when I fail with my earthly authority it almost makes it even easier to fail with my heavenly authority.

I tend towards a "God is warm cuddly" over a "God is powerful and mighty" mentality because that has been more my experience. But the truth is that He's both. Seeing Him as holy means regarding Him withe proper authority, strength, might, fear, love, warmth, care, majesty, etc... and I far too often leave many of these out.

When I'm defending the hope that is in me, I want it to be obvious that I worship a wonderfully personal God, but also a powerful God worthy of praise.

I'm prepared to defend the hope within me.
I'm learning just how holy He is.

Do good, silence the foolish (1 Peter 2:15)

"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people." - 1 Peter 2:15

When I read this I think about the world looking at Christians and thinking us foolish. Now, first of all, we definitely do foolish things. Often to our detriment and give ourselves a well deserved bad name. BUT, there are many of us who are doing what we can to bring glory to the Lord and it is still looked upon as foolishness.

This verse seems to be saying, if we are pursuing the will of God long enough then it will eventually be obvious to others that what we're doing really is good, wise, and right. Making them out to be the foolish ones.

What this doesn't mean is we should do good so they may look like fools. But rather, by doing good they will see that there is something behind what we do that motivates us to do right, that produces good fruit, that is worthy of worshiping.

I hope by the good I do it will "put to silence the ignorance of foolish people" and that silence will lead to repentance. Salvation. And a soul changed for eternity.

Sunday Scripture Day (Hebrews 12:18-21)

"For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, 'If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.'  Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, 'I tremble with fear.'" - Hebrews 12:18-21

Building up the body in love (Ephesians 4:16)

"From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." - Ephesians 4:16

Thinking about this verse today it occurs to me the necessity of each piece of the body. Some people get along just fine without an arm, or missing one leg, but there will always be limits on them in the same way there is on someone who has all his limbs, but some don't work properly.

I wonder how often the Church is like that. Either parts of the body decide to take off for a little while, or when we're all sticking together just fine one decides to take the day off and not be useful.

It's also to think about what role we play in the body of Christ. I have my ministry. I have my job. I have my friends and the ministry I to them. I have the several people I try to pray for everyday. I have this blog. There are a lot of functions that I, as one small limb on the greater body, can accomplish. Many of which I'm called to accomplish.

If I'm walking with the Lord then I have a little extra energy and can make up for or help out a brother who is having a hard time. It's like when your arms are really tired but you have a little extra in your legs.

But how would we look different as a body of believers if we were all walking with the Lord. If all of us had a little extra and didn't have to pick up anyone else's slack because no one was slacking?

I want to be a part of a body working together. I want to build you up in love. I need you to build me up in love. Lets do what it takes to get this body healthy, strong, in shape, and really moving. Lets build one another up through prayer, and encouragement, and gentleness and patience.

Like verses 1-3 say, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

What is one thing you can do today that will help build up the body? Is there someone you can pray for? Encourage? Love? Forgive? Bless?

Jesus by his own blood, and eternal redeption (Hebrews 9:12)

"He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." - Hebrews 9:12

When the high priest wanted to go into the Holy of Holies he had to sprinkle himself with blood. Now I don't know about you but I'm not much of a blood kind of guy. In fact, I don't particularly care to be covered in mud much, let alone blood.

One time I was served blood tofu which was a bad call. I almost ate it until someone explained to me just what it was. I have accidentally eaten curdled blood when it was served in a dish, but it's not the kind of thing I'd like to make a habit of.

Jesus didn't have to sprinkle Himself with the blood of animals and, apart from the obvious hygienic benefits this had, is of serious spiritual significance. The blood flowing through His own veins was worthy to enter into God's presence. He did not need an animal to be slaughtered and for God to look on the animal instead of Him so as to finally make Him clean enough to enter the Lord's presence.

But thanks to His blood being good enough, God is willing to look on Jesus and pardon us. We are in effect constantly sprinkled with the blood of Jesus and made clean enough by His sacrifice to enter into the presence of the Lord.

I say all this to remind us to be thankful than any of us (who profess Jesus as savior) can enter the Lord's presence because of what Jesus did. And that we do not have to slaughter animals and sprinkle ourselves with their blood to be regarded as clean enough.

God did it with Jesus. Once and for all. "Thus securing an eternal redemption."

Jesus was a forerunner, now we can enter the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 6:19-20)

"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." - Hebrews 6:19-20

Reading my commentary on Hebrews yesterday I was pretty fascinated by this verse. Now this verse says that Jesus went in to the inner place, behind the curtain. That is, the Holy of Holies. A place where only the high priest could go.

Jesus was and is forever a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

But the significance of this verse is in the word forerunner. Every priest before Jesus that went into the Holy of Holies came right back out. And the next time it had to be a priest again. Only the high priest in fact...

But Jesus was the forerunner.

After he went in, we all are allowed in. This is HUGE.

Because of what Jesus did and because of who he is we are able to enter the Holy of Holies and dwell with the Lord, experience His presence and commune with Him.

Thank you Jesus.

Tip - Don't try to trick or corner God. You'll lose (Mark 12:14)

"And they came and said to him, 'Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?'" - Mark 12:14

Picture the most clever person you know and then try to imagine catching them making a mistake at something they're particularly good at. I'm thinking of lining up chess pieces before a chess champion and then trying to get him to make a stupid move. Or asking a translator about a tricky phrase hoping he'll mess up.

Now imagine if that clever person is actually God incarnate. And imagine trying to catch Him over something you think is pretty tricky by asking a question you think will trap Him.

I want to stop you before you do this because you're going up against God himself, not a chess champion. And you'd have to be an idiot to do so, or just believe that He's not actually God incarnate....

This is what I like about this passage. I read this knowing who Jesus is and just think these people are morons. But the truth is, they don't believe and they think God Himself will mess up just like anyone else.

I think the fact that Jesus answered correctly in this instance shows how brilliant He was. The fact that Jesus managed to do what was right in EVERY situation is proof of how wise, strong, self-controlled, eternal, and Godly He was.

A gospel contrary to the one we preached (Galatians 1:8)

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed." - Galatians 1:8

I always just wondered how the mormons reconciled themselves with this verse. After all this is almost exactly what they believe. Maybe they think their gospel isn't different. Who knows.

When I read this I think through all the many different cults that exist and how seemingly easy it would be for me to turn astray. I like to think of myself as pretty grounded in the Lord, but there are a lot of 'well grounded' people out there who turn to something else.

I'm also remembering two good friends I had in high school. One was considering leaving the mormon church to become a Christian (yea, like a Jesus follower as opposed to the whole Joseph Smith thing) and the other was spending hours with her everyday just sharing about how real Christianity is different. It was fascinating her understanding of the two and why one was true and the other wasn't.

The one girl did eventually leave the mormon church, but I was saddened to find out about 3 years later that the other girl had converted to mormonism for a guy she had met, and then married. So sad. And so amazing. The very same person who so understood the falsehood of mormonism turning to it later in life. Sad because it's salvation gone... eternally. These are cosmic decisions, not simple things like which chocolate bar to eat, but HUGE decisions.

And I think it's clear why those who lead others astray are cursed. Also makes me hope I never lead others astray!