Vitamins for Christians

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I used to take a lot of vitamin and mineral supplements because I believed it would help me to be healthy. I also went through a weight training phase that consisted of taking protein supplements and amino acids regularly. Then one day I had an eye-opening experience. I read study after study about the different ways that vitamins and proteins are absorbed in our bodies. Not all supplements are equal, even when it comes to vitamins. Some are fat-soluble ones (like A, D, E, and K), and others are water-soluble ones (like B and C). Also, our body absorbs two types of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) are your body’s direct fuel or energy sources, whereas micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) indirectly influence available energy by serving as catalysts to release the macros. But unless they’re efficiently absorbed, none of the nutrients can fulfill their duties optimally.

I spent so much time pouring supplements into my body but they weren’t doing what I’d hoped they’d do. I wasn’t taking them in the correct manner nor was I always doing the correct activity to help boost their effectiveness. When it comes down to our health and fitness, we can take pills and powders all we want, but we won’t get the desired results unless we get up and move, and do so efficiently. Our body has limits to the amount of vitamins and minerals that it will absorb. When levels are low or you’re deficient, your body tries to regain homeostasis (equilibrium) by absorbing more of whatever is needed. Once that balance is reached, absorption will again be decreased in order to maintain the appropriate level. In short, our bodies are way smarter than we are. God’s design in the human body is absolutely astounding. In addition to all these factors, there are several outside influences to our nutrient absorption. Stress, sleep patterns, alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, and exercise are perhaps the greatest among them.

This isn’t a health blog so here’s what I’m trying to get at. We can take in a lot of spiritual nutrition, but unless we do it properly, and target the outside influences, we will never grow like we are intended to. Simply put, we can do 10 devotions a day, Bible studies three times a week, and go to church weekly, but if we aren’t putting things into practice then where’s the growth? If I put a lot of time into studying how to fight stress and live in the peace of God, but don’t let it eradicate my worries and increase my faith, then what’s the point? If I hear sermons and read books on discipleship but I’m not actively trying to connect with people and love and change lives, what good is it? If I do devotions and sing songs about the love of God and surrendering my life, but I hold on tightly to control, how does it benefit me? If I run through quick prayer times in the morning or evenings but spend all my time speaking and no time quietly listening, how will I ever hear from Him? So many of us are taking spiritual supplements but we’re seeing no change. We should be different today than when we first decided to follow Christ. We shouldn’t be battling with all of the same junk. The Christian life is one of surrender, peace, love, truth, grace, kindness, joy, and humility. Those things may not characterize a new believer, but they shouldn’t certainly be displayed the longer we follow Jesus. God’s goal for humanity is to change them into the image bearers we were always meant to be.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8:29 (ESV)

Reading the Bible, praying, devotions, Bible studies, worship, and prayer time are amazing and essential. But no matter of spiritual supplements can make a difference without submission to the Holy Spirit and passion for our Savior. This is a lesson I’ve been confronted with every time I’m going through something that I “know” the right answer to but I’m not living the right answer. I know people who have battled with anger, anxiety, depression, addictions, and the like for the entire time they’ve walked with Jesus. There might be stuff that we all have that nag at us till the day we die, but we’re meant to walk free and redeemed. I need to be reminded of that. How about you? Brothers and sisters let’s not just be hearers (and studiers, and singers, and discussers) of the Word, but lets put it into action and see is transform lives! Let’s put the supplements to work.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:22-25 (ESV)

 

 

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Once and for All

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On the Biblical calendar exists one of the most distinguished days of the year. It’s called the Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement. This day falls on the tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei not July). The Bible doesn’t operate on the Gregorian calendar that most of the world uses today because of the Roman Empire.  That’s why Yom Kippur can be in September or October depending on the year. This day is packed full of significance in terms of the Messiah. This is post number two from the book of Leviticus showing how the Messiah is revealed in the Old Testament. The first post looked at the process established for cleansing leprosy in chapter 14. Feel free to scroll back through my site for the posts out of Genesis and Exodus as well. If you’re joining us for the first time, welcome!

Sabbath

The Day of Atonement is regarded as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”. The word sabbath means “rest” in it’s simplest terms. Sabbath was first practiced by God in the process of creation and then humanity was invited to follow suit. Yom Kippur would be a day unlike any other, where the people of God poured out their hearts, sang worship songs, praised, lamented, and more. Basically, anything that had nothing to do with a person’s relationship with God would be set aside in pure devotion. It was also seen as the day that people’s souls could find rest with God as the Atonement and repentance were done. The Messiah and Sabbath are incredibly connected. It is the Messiah who provides the ultimate rest for our souls and mends our relationship with God. That’s exactly what Jesus came to do.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

Atonement

The act of atonement is the idea of making full reparations for a wrong or injury. The wrong in this context is sin. The sins of the people needed to be paid for. The injury was dealt to God since sin is an offense towards Him as well as others who are hurt by our selfishness. While sin carries with it, often heavy consequences, every sinner has the hope of escaping the full wrath that their sin deserves. We can’t always escape the temporal effects of our sin, which makes it all that more important to try to live a God-honoring life. And a good Father would never spare us from all of the consequences of our bad choices. That’s how we grow. But a good Father does spare us from His wrath because His love is so much greater. In God’s economy, payment for sin would only be fully made through the Messiah.

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 2:22-24 (ESV)

High Priest

It was the responsibility of the High Priest to carry out the service on the Day of Atonement. He made the sacrifice. He got blood on his hands. He prayed for the people. In a sense, the High Priest acted as a mediator between God and His people. The Messiah would step into this role upon His arrival. Only the Messiah would have to be a greater-than the high priest. Jesus Christ is called the Great High Priest because the sacrifice He made was greater than all of the sacrifice of the sacrificial system combined.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 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. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:7-14 (ESV)

Scapegoat

While one goat was sacrificed, the other was taken outside the gate and released into the wilderness. Before this was done, all of the sins of Israel were confessed and figuratively laid on this animal. Of course, the goat couldn’t carry the sins of anyone. But this was a powerful image of innocence carrying the sins of the guilty. The Messiah would be someone without guilt but would be treated and punished as someone who was sinful. A scapegoat is an innocent person who takes the blame and punishment for the guilty party on themselves. That’s exactly what Yeshua (Jesus) did for humanity.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

It is Finished

This day atoned for the sins of the people for the year. It would have to be repeated each year at the same time. The nation of Israel would spend an entire day repenting for sins known and unknown, for themselves and for those they knew. It was a day that many would both dread and rejoice over. It is a day to remember the price for sin as well as the goodness of God to make a way for our sins to be atoned for. The Messiah’s atoning sacrifice resembles that in all ways but one. His death on the cross should be both a dreadful moment for Christians, as well as a sacrifice that causes rejoicing. Remembering our Savior on the cross should lead every Christian into heartfelt repentance. Because it was our sin that put the Messiah there. Hebrews chapter 10 is a great description of the Messiah’s sacrifice in comparison with that of the Day of Atonement.

 …we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:10 (ESV)

Four Reasons Hanukkah is Important to Christians

Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is also known as the Feast of Dedication and the Festival of Lights. It’s origins come from the Jewish rebellion against outside oppression and idolatry over 100 years before Jesus was born. Its a fascinating story of heroism, faith, and God’s people refusing to compromise. While it’s not one of the commanded celebrations of the Bible (like the feasts of Leviticus 23) it has become a greatly cherished season for honoring God. It seems to have started out that way very quickly because it was being celebrated in Israel during the time of Jesus.

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.I and the Father are one.”

John 10:22-30 (ESV)

Here are four reasons why Hanukkah holds so much significance for the followers of Christ.

#1 Light of the World

The centerpiece of Hanukkah has to be the Hanukkiah. It is an eight candle lamp with one center candle called the Shamash. In the Temple, this candelabrum was to remain burning at all times. It was the source of light that allowed the priests to carry out the worship of Yahweh. Christians often celebrate this festival by decorating their houses with lights, inside and out, and lighting of the hanukkiah in honor of this element of Hanukkah. There is no greater light in the world than Jesus. The Festival of Lights honors the Light of the World as well as reminding us of our role to serve as lights in this world for all those walking in darkness.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 (ESV)

#2 Miraculous Provision

When the Maccabean revolt regained the Temple, one of the first things they did was to light the lamp using the oil available there. The problem was, there was only enough oil for one day. However, the oil miraculously lasted a full eight days which is why Hanukkah lasts for eight days. This was nothing short of a miracle. And God is a God of miracles. Jesus demonstrated that during His earthly ministry. Remember those two times that He multiplied the fish and bread to feed thousands of people? Not only did He demonstrate miracles, But He is also a miracle. His birth to the Virgin Mary was a miracle. His death on the cross on behalf of humanity was a miracle. And His resurrection from the dead was a miracle. Jesus is, in fact, the miraculous provision of God for humanity. Far greater than the oil. And nothing is more miraculous than a sinful people being cleansed and made new by God. Hanukkah is eight full days of praising the Lord for cleansing us of our sins and giving us new life.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2 (ESV)

#3 Dedication of the Temple

The temple had been desecrated by the leader Antiochus and idol worship had become a common activity there. The Jews chose to bring an end to this idol worship in the house of God and rose up in arms. After defeating their enemies, the Temple had to be rededicated to the Lord. Nearly 200 years later, Jesus would enter the Temple in Jerusalem to call out the idol worship being conducted there. He overturned tables and reminded the people of the purpose of the Temple. Jesus also changed the idea of what the Temple was. You see, God had chosen to live among His people in multiple ways throughout the story of the Bible. In the beginning, He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. Later, He gave Moses the blueprints for a tabernacle. Solomon would construct the first Temple not long after King David passed away. Jesus said in John chapter two that He would “destroy this temple and in three days raise it up.” He wasn’t speaking of the building in Jerusalem. He was talking about His body. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the temple became the believer and follower of Jesus. In the Temple, God’s Holy Spirit resided. Now His Holy Spirit lives in those who dedicate their lives to the Messiah Jesus. Hanukkah is a great time to rededicate our lives to the One who saved us.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

#4 Jesus celebrated it

In the first Bible passage of this post, John 10, Jesus is shown celebrating the Feast of Dedication. That is obviously speaking of Hanukkah. As followers of Christ, we are supposed to do as our Savior did. Our life belongs to Him, to live a life honoring of Him, sold out for Him. If Jesus believed it to be important to celebrate Hanukkah than shouldn’t His followers? Besides, the Festival of Lights all points to Him anyways.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God.All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5 (ESV)

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters and happy Hanukkah!

Tear Out The Dividing Page!

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When Christians distance themselves from their Hebrew roots it’s like cutting the branch off that they stand on.

The entire Bible is built on Hebrew themes and context. The New Testament, while written primarily in Greek, is an explanation of so many of the things that the Old Testament laid the foundation for. God used the Hebrew people as a means of revealing His character to the nations. God instituted His feasts, first among the nation of Israel, as a way to teach His redemptive plan seven times a year. Yeshua (Jesus) is our Hebrew savior. He taught using the Hebrew text and customs for illustrations. He was given titles understood best in the Hebrew context (Lamb of God, Messiah, the Word, Son of Man, etc…). He used people of Israel, His disciples, to take His message to the world and seek and save the lost.

Romans chapter 11 makes it pretty clear that non-Jewish believers (gentiles) were grafted into the tree of faith that God had been growing through the nation of Israel. We didn’t become an entirely new tree. We entered into a covenant relationship that existed for over a thousand years before the first “Christian” church ever met. Jesus came to bond the nations through His sacrifice.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:11-13 (ESV)

We have been adopted into a family of faith, that is rich, and so beautiful. To know our Hebrew roots unlocks so much of the magic in the Bible. To disregard the importance of our spiritual ancestry is to walk blindly towards key elements of our faith. That single page that divides the Old and New Testament is a relic and a unhelpful distraction from reality. The Bible is one unified story from beginning to end. To live exclusively in Matthew to Revelation is like only knowing half the story. Same goes for those who stick so tightly to the Torah and rarely venture to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles. God gave us seven beautiful feasts to learn from and celebrate year around. He gave a law that reveals so much about who He is and what holiness looks like. And He spoke hundreds of prophecies about our Savior, His plan for our lives, and the course of the world. The story of Israel is the story of us. We can see life experiences through theirs. It’s time for that page that divides our Bibles to be torn out, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Because Jesus tore it out spiritually.

…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 (ESV)

Cleansing Lepers

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The entire system of Judaism was the gospel veiled.”

Stephen Haskell (The Cross and It’s Shadow)

We’ve moved into the third book of the bible on our journey to see how the entire Old Testament revealed the Messiah. The book of Leviticus is jam-packed with laws and regulations. This leads many people to avoid it all together. I admit, I was one of those people for many years. It wasn’t until I started to spend a lot of time studying the significance of the unfamiliar Old Testament passages that I began to appreciate all the little details.

One of the most incredible images of sin in the bible is seen in the leper. There is something about this disease, and the frequent alluding to it in the bible, that stands out. A leper was often treated with contempt and judgement, especially in the time of Jesus. They were separated from society and considered unclean. Their uncleanness made them social, and quite possibly, spiritual outcasts. Occasionally, people were struck with leprosy due to their rebellion against God. Like in the case of Miriam (Moses’ sister) for her actions against Moses. Or when King Uzziah was got it after doing what he was forbidden to do in the temple. But that is not the main point behind this disease. Many people got it, and many still do today. And it did make people unclean, but in a ceremonial sense, not in a moral sense. However, leprosy is a good outward picture of humanity’s inward sickness.

The nation of Israel had to experience cases of leprosy regularly, which I believe is why God created a method of cleansing them. In Leviticus chapter 14, God lays out specific steps for the leper to go through to be reinstated as ceremonially clean. That’s extremely important so that the individual can return to certain methods of worship that they would have to abstain from while unclean. I would suggest reading through all of Leviticus 14 on your own because I am going to be selecting only about 10 of the verses for this post. The verses I have picked all show some aspect of the Messiah’s purpose (verses 5-14), as well as the impact that He has on His followers’ lives (verses 15-18). Here we go…

#1- Birds and Pots

And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. (v.5)

The earthenware vessel of this ceremony is a picture of Christ’s dwelling in a human body which would eventually be used in the sacrifice. The bird being slain over flowing water alludes to the Messiah’s ever-flowing and ever-cleansing efficacy of His blood in the redeeming process.

#2- More birds, wood, hyssop, and blood

He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. (v.6)

The cedarwood tree represents the cross on which the Messiah hung and a small reed of hyssop supported the sponge that was dipped in vinegar wine and given to Him to quench His thirst as He hung there. The blood and the water were reflected by the blood and water that flowed from the side of Yeshua when the spear was jammed into His side (John 19). The live bird in this scene gained it’s freedom only after it was dipped in the blood of the slain bird. The Messiah, being that slain bird, who’s blood paid for our release.

#3- One last mention of birds

And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field. (v. 7)

Seven is the number of completion in the bible. The blood being sprinkled seven times shows the completeness of the Messiah’s sacrifice in cleansing the leper, the sinner, you and me. We are said to have been sprinkled clean by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1).

#4- The blood of the Lamb

“And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil.And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord.And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (v.10-14)

A lamb without blemish, just like in the Passover celebration, is the image of the sinless one who was the Messiah. The blood was placed on the ear, thumb, and toe of the leper covering his body to signify he was wholly clean. Once the leper was deemed clean through the process described, he was then anointed for service.

Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LordAnd some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord. (v.15-18)

After the sprinkling of blood, the newly cleansed person’s hands and feet were anointed with oil for service. His head was then anointed with oil which was often used in the method of commissioning people for service (like King David being anointed by Solomon). This is exactly what the effect of the Messiah would have on those who believe in Him. To accept His cleansing sacrifice is to also accept His anointing on our lives.

The leper was cleansed from a loathsome living death. He must have felt so thankful to God for the freedom and healing that he would have consecrated his life to the service of the Lord. His worship would have been amplified. His heart would have been open. No doubt, grace would have filled his life like never before. Another story of leprosy in the bible brings this to life even more.

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11-19 (ESV)

Jesus cleanses ten lepers but only makes one well. The reaction of the one is the response of the truly humble. All ten received physical healing. The leprosy was gone. But when it says that the one was made well, it uses the same word (sozo in greek) that means saved from perishing. Wow! And the response of the one who was saved was humility, thankfulness, and straight up falling at the feet of Jesus. That was a man who recognized how desperate his situation was and how miraculous his encounter with Jesus was. That reminds me of yet another story in the bible.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-50 (ESV)

Throughout the bible the condition of humanity is made very clear. We are all spiritually dead and separated from God because of our sin. God created a means, a process by which we can be in His presence. All of the old testament ceremonies were foreshadowings of what the Messiah would ultimately do once and for all. The Messiah’s mission was to heal the common leprosy that all of humanity suffers from. Yeshua did that for you and me. And His sacrifice comes with a calling. The oil of anointing is an emblem of the Holy Spirit, which is often symbolized by oil, preparing the follower of Christ for service. The Holy Spirit enables us to live the new life of freedom that Christ’s sacrifice made possible.

Here in a book written 1400 years before the Messiah would make His appearance and give His life to cleanse the world, God was giving us a picture of what to look for. The relationship between sacrifice and service was inextricably linked. To be cleansed means to be called.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

Be at peace my fellow cleansed and called ones!

A Story About Impact No Matter Our Age

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.

Revelation 1:9

“They have burned our possessions, but they cannot burn Jesus from our hearts.”

I read the following story from the Voice of the Martyrs. It’s an amazing organization that helps the persecuted believers around the world.

Origen was not the typical eighteen-year-old. He was a teacher in second-century Egypt. As the church of his day suffered severe persecution, Origen did not spend his time chasing girls or trying to impress his peers. Instead of running from the horror that had killed even his own father, Origen chose to become a companion with the persecuted church.

Origen spent his time encouraging Christians who had been brought before the court. When they were led to death, he walked up to kiss them. He even visited the prisons to comfort the believers. But Origen soon found himself in grave danger for his compassion toward the condemned believers. Soon soldiers were posted around his house because of his influence on the church. He had many enemies, and the anger towards him grew hotter each day. He was eventually forced to leave the city. He moved from house to house because of the many threats against his life. But spurred on by the examples of faith in Hebrews, he continued being a companion to those who were persecuted. He even employed several people to handwrite additional copies of the Scriptures.

Eventually, his amazing attitude drew some of his enemies to Christ. However, he was eventually imprisoned, tortured, and killed for this same attitude.

When I read this story I couldn’t help but to think about both my children and my own childhood. I seriously doubt that I would have been like Origen at 8 years old. It takes a special person to join a cause that risks their own life at such a young age. Origen’s father must have been a great example for him. Will my children be empowered and passionate about the things of God? Am I teaching them the values of a Biblical lifestyle and what it means to be committed to the cause of Christ? When I go home to be with Jesus and leave them behind, will they take their place in the kingdom mission? Am I displaying a life of surrender to the greater calling on my life? This was such a challenge for me!

We have to be a legacy for our next generation. Every child is passionate. We have to guide their passion in the use of the gospel. Anyone can inspire. Anyone can encourage. Anyone can display the love of Christ. Age is no barrier.

One of the songs that’s spoken to me a lot on this topic is Only Jesus by Casting Crowns. Take a look at the lyrics:

Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourself
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers
But all an empty world can sell is empty dreams
I got lost in the light when it was up to me
To make a name the world remembers
But Jesus is the only name to remember

CHORUS
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
Only Jesus
And I, I’ve only got one life to live
I’ll let every second point to Him
Only Jesus

All the kingdoms built, all the trophies won
Will crumble into dust when it’s said and done
But all that really matters
Did I live the truth to the ones I love
Was my life the proof that there is only One
Whose name will last forever.

When it all comes to an end, it shouldn’t matter to us whether our loved ones cherish our memory, but the memory of a life lived for Jesus. Origen must have seen the life of Jesus displayed in someone close to him. No doubt, those in his life saw Jesus displayed in him.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

1 Timothy‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Stop Dogging on Millenials

MarketingToDifferentGenerations

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

It seems like a constant message portrayed about Millennials is that they are lazy, disrespectful, and morally corrupt. Ever hear that? Every generation has had its highs and lows. Every generation has contributed to the next. Every generation is to blame and to praise for where we are as a nation today. Plus I would venture to say that most people who refer to Millennials are doing so incorrectly.

I am a high school teacher. If you’ve been following this blog for long you probably already knew that. I’m in my 13th year of teaching which means I’ve now seen kids from two generations which happen to be the two that followed after mine. Having parents and grandparents from two previous generations and being pretty well versed in US History, I feel like I have a fairly grounded knowledge about many of the generations in this nation. With that said let’s see how they stack up shall we?

  1. The Lost Generation (born 1890-1910)- They fought and won World War One and led the way through the progressive movement. On the other hand, they drove the nation through one of the worst moral declines with organized crime, underground criminal networks and loose and crude behaviors like the nation had not seen on a grand scale before.
  2. The Greatest Generation (born 1910-1930)- The name speaks pretty boldly and for good reason. It weathered the Great Depression and fought in World War Two. But it also saw a stark rise in racism and violence towards ethnic minorities exceeding that of previous generations. It created the battleground in large part that the next generation would fight on.
  3. The Baby Boomers (1945-1964)- By far the largest generation in US History, it fought vigorously for civil rights for both women and minorities. It also led a religious revival that the nation was desperate for and had been sparked by the previous generation. On the downside, the rebellious nature of this generation led to a counterculture steeped in drug use and moral deprivation.
  4. Gen X (1965-1985)- They were the products of their parents but they did try to right the ship. This generation brought a climactic end to the Cold War and sought to right a lot of the wrongs done by our nation. They’ve stepped up to fight the war on terrorism as well. They brought healing and unity to a nation divided and some of the highest levels of economic success in US History. However, this was the punk rock generation that saw a spike in gun violence and suicide rates. They also picked up the nasty habit of overspending and use of credit which skyrocketed personal debt in the US.
  5. Gen Y/Millennials (1986-1994)- This generation has created and innovated more than any generation before it. Technology and medical advancements are rapidly evolving and impacting our day to day life and much of that is thanks to this generation. They are also far more empathetic and compassionate as a whole than any previous generation. On the other hand, this group’s accepting nature has contributed to an immoral eruption in our nation that doesn’t seem to be slowing. It had moved further away from moral certainty and is embracing moral relativism, which had devastating effects.
  6. Gen Z (1995-2012)- This group is perhaps the most interconnected generation in history. They are still a little young to have a huge impact but they resemble baby boomers in a lot of ways. They are passionate and outspoken about injustice. They are incredibly bright as well. On the flip side, this young generation has inherited the problems of the technology revolution. The internet and social media are crippling our youth as much as it’s helping. And unlike any generation before them, they both love those who are different from them but also promote morally questionable behaviors.

Let’s face it, every generation has had its set of problems, mostly inherited by contributions, either directly or indirectly, of the previous generations. But God has always had a remnant in every generation, including the youth of today. That’s our hope for this country. Not the pros and cons of each new age group, but that fact that a small group of people, in every generation, is walking with God.

No generation is like the one before it. Thank God! That’s because no generation has ever been worth emulating. No generation has ever modeled, in whole, what it means to be upright and just. No generation has ever displayed the character of Christ like we’re meant to. No generation has loved sincerely and upheld truth and honor as we are called to by the one who made us. That’s because no generation is the goal of what it means to be a complete godly human being. The goal is Christ. The goal is to be changed into the full meaning of what it means to be made in the image of God.

My kids are part of the new generation, Gen Alpha. My hope is not that they will overcome the struggles of Gen Z or Gen Y, but that they will surrender their hearts to Jesus. Gen Alpha will screw things up just like every generation that ever came before them. They will also contribute great things to society, like every generation before them. But my hope is not that they will be counted among those who give to society, but that they will be people of great faith and of great love. My job as their dad is to lead them and model for them what it means to follow Jesus. That has been the role for every parent in this nation’s history. It’s when we don’t step into that role that we leave our next generation crippled.

What we need is fewer naysayers, quick to point out the faults of our youth. How is that going to call them into the life they’re supposed to lead. Criticism tares down. Truth and love build up. Anyone who wraps on the youth is all too quick to forget the faults of their own generation. We need to be a part of raising that God-fearing, love-driven, truth-centered remnant of the next generation and that starts in the home.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…

Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)