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Advent Reflections: Week 3, Day 4

Week Three Day Four: The Sacrifice without Spot and Blemish

“I will not take what is yours for the Lord[1] or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (King David) 1 Chronicles 21:24

It is easy for us to picture Christmas in light of the Hallelujah Chorus and sing “Wonderful! Counselor! The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!” This is certainly the celebration of the overall character of Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth in Bethlehem anchors our celebrations. Yet Christians recognize not one Advent but two. The second is the one yet to come: when He returns and initiates the visible Kingdom of God in all things. The first Advent leads us to Bethlehem and the manger.

In the gap between the two Advents, something else had to happen. (click here to read more)

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Advent Reflections: Week 3, Day 3

Week Three Day Three: A Sense of Destiny

“For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.” John 12:35 (NASB95)

The sensation that is myrrh, though, does not stop in everyday use. Myrrh was a portion of the anointing oil of the Tabernacle. In fact, it was the largest portion of this oil. Exodus 30 records this oil and its purposes. Whatever was touched by this oil was considered holy. It was to be used on the priests and the implements of sacrifice. It was used on the altar and on the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant was the symbol of the center of God’s presence in those times. He never expresses Himself as limited to wherever the Ark is, but for the Israelites of those years, the Ark was where they could know God certainly was. The Ark was to be kept near to the altar for sacrifice and to be kept separate from the people by a heavy curtain.

Why? (click here to read the rest)

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Advent Reflections, Week 3, Day 2

Week Three Day Two: A Sense of Intimacy

“All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.” Psalm 45:8 (NASB95)

For now, lay aside the thought of myrrh as a burial spice. Instead, let us consider myrrh and its place among the fragrances of intimacy, of relationship, of celebration. Myrrh carries a picture in the Old Testament that is quite different than what we see in the few references to it in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, myrrh is a part of the marriage celebration. The Scripture above, from Psalm 45, is a good reference point for that use. The whole of Psalm 45 is a celebration of marriage. (read more here)

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Advent Reflections: Week 3, Day 1

Week Three Day One: Senses and Sacrifice

“Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds.” Genesis 43:11 (ESV)

Coming to the last gift, we find myrrh. Myrrh, like frankincense, was an all-purpose spice. It is another agricultural product. Well, more like a silvicultural product since it comes from trees, but you get the point. It is not something valuable because it is rare. It is instead valuable because people liked it.

How do I know people liked it? (read more here)

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Advent Reflections: Week 2, Day 5

Week Two Day Five: Priest Above All Problems

“Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.” Exodus 18:15-16

If a train leaves New York at 0545 traveling 60mph on the same track to Philadelphia as a train leaving Philadelphia leaves for New York at 0600 headed to New York traveling 45mph leaves on, how much time does the dispatcher have to warn both trains to stop?

Sound like a major issue? Maybe not if you live in Atlanta, but if you are on one of those trains, it is a huge deal. Yet what you see above is a typical story problem from a math book. It is, however, lacking information. For example, how far is it from Philadelphia to New York? How big of a train? After all, it takes longer to stop a 100-car banana train than to stop a 10-car passenger train.

Without that information, can you actually solve the problem? I’m not asking if your math skills are up to the division, multiplication, and addition necessary. You can see, though, that you do not possess all the information to solve the problem at hand.

This is considered a simple problem, one that a fifth grader may find in a math book. What about the problems we face in adulthood? (read more here)

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Advent Reflections: Week 2, Day 4

Week Two Day Four: Priest Above All Practices

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24 (NASB95)

If you live in the South, you probably realize that many Southerners do love football. Especially college football. The traditions and excitement that surround Saturdays between September and December overtake even the most casual of fans, and cause some of the sanest of people to do some rather crazy things.

The traditions of college football are as diverse as the crowds that do them. In Oxford, Mississippi, the well-dressed members of the football team walk through the tailgating crowd to get to the stadium. In Arkansas, grown people stand up and shout “Woo! Pig! SooIEEEE! to call the Hogs. Auburn University lets an eagle fly around the stadium.

Even the idea of “tailgating” is a strange one… (read more here)