Religion can be a terrible thing when people get attached to the form of something and miss its essence. About 500 years before Moses introduced the nation of Israel to the idea of having a whole tribe that were priests there was a man named Abram (which means exalted father) who encountered a guy who was both a king and a priest. Abram recognized that this man was awesome and spontaneously gave him 10% of the loot that he had collected from a battle with a bunch of other kings. Then the man, who was a king-priest, refreshed Abie with wine and bread, and blessed Abram, giving him a new name... Abraham—father of many nations.
Fast forward to Psalm 110 and King David gets a peep into heaven and observes a conversation between Father and Son. “The Lord said to my Lord sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool… The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow:
“You are a priest forever in...
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
At the beginning of Luke 10 Jesus lays out a pattern of missions: go from house to house until you encounter a “Man of Peace” which you will discern, in part, because they receive your blessing. Listen, eat, perform signs and wonders, and talk about the kingdom. (The acrostic BLEST helps me remember all five crucial aspects of this pattern.) This is great missions stuff, but what did a “man of peace” look like to Jesus? The short answer is… a woman. Martha.
The scene is that Jesus and his disciples are “on their way” which is usually the way it is with Jesus. Many people stay at home waiting for Jesus to talk to them about ‘getting on their way’ but he already did this. Some of your best conversations will happen with Jesus while you are on your way somewhere with him. They come to a village and Jesus,...
When I came to the USA from South Africa in 1986 I had to get used to new colloquial expressions. I remember asking a senior executive how much tailored executive information he received: “A goose egg,” was his reply. I was wondering, “Is that a round zero, is that a golden egg…?” Another expression was “we eat our own dog food” and I remembered when my dad was sworn off meat because of his high blood pressure. My mom went out and dad attacked the remains of a meatloaf that was in the fridge, frying it in copious amounts of butter. When my mom returned she asked, “What happened to the rest of the dog food… it was in the fridge?” Eating your own dog food can be a wonderful thing, and I have been thinking a lot about this during the pandemic.
According to Investopedia, “Eat your own dog food is a colloquial expression that describes a company using its own products or services for its internal operations. The term is...
You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing. Isaiah 42:20
We have so much information streaming into our lives on a daily basis. Much of it is good—there are great podcasts of excellent preachers and teachers, there are online books, there is 24x7 news (some of which is not good because media channels retain viewers by stirring up anxiety). If you want to miss the bad news you can subscribe to 24x7 prayer rooms, and endless streams of ‘prophetic words’ and megabytes of preaching a minute. There is no shortage of information. We spend so much time drinking from the information fire hydrant that we have little time or cause to ponder. We are on the brink of information inoculation. Our heads are getting bigger, but our hearts are getting dryer. Unless…
Before I get to the “unless” let me restate the obvious. It has been said many ways, but talk without tasks leads to trouble....
Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening. How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all.
Psalm 104 is wonderful in its description of the whole of creation, rightly sweeping it under the domain of God… clouds, springs, mountains, moon and sun, lions.
He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens the heart of man,
“Let us make every effort to enter that rest
so that no one will fall by following their example
of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:11
South San Francisco has many small hills and winding roads. Clearly I was directionally challenged as I tried to find the small home where the social event was happening. A pre-smart-phone passenger suggested we use a map. I replied, “Who needs a map when you have a full tank of gas?” At <40 it seemed a smart, perhaps even a pioneering-sounding statement; 35 years later it sounds dumb. I am aware most days that I have less time and energy than I did back then, and the days don’t seem to get longer nor the gas tank bigger.
Which takes me back to Hebrews chapter 4. Whoever wrote the book of Hebrews was acutely aware that some people got the whole Jesus thing, and others missed what was under their noses. “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail...
When I see the word “inheriting” I generally think about getting something for nothing, having assets passed on to me that someone else stored up. Psalm 105 reinforces this idea:
He brought out his people with rejoicing,
his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—
that they might keep his precepts
and observe his laws.
Even the phrase, “they fell heir” sounds like something falling into one’s lap. Quite a number of Hollywood movies have been made about young people inheriting a father’s or grandfather’s billion-dollar business or estate, usually subject to quirky conditions which make the movie entertaining.
This week I noticed a different angle on being an heir, or inheriting. The writer of Hebrews starts this way:
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the...
Some mornings you wake up, read a few lines and think, “If we all did this, we would sort out a lot of problems. If we all had this mindset then things would clear up pretty quickly.” I know there are complex problems, but I challenge us to stack those problems on one side and this remedy on the other and consider the outcome.
1 But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please ourselves.
2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up.
3 For even Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written, "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."
4 For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.
5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus,
6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord...
“They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” Exodus 38:8
Tsaba is a Hebrew word that means “to go forth, wage war, fight, serve.” We don’t know who these women were, or how they got there, but there they were ministering at the entrance to the place of worship. There is no record of Moses saying, “How about we get a women’s fellowship, or a weekly ladies prayer meeting…” These ministering women just appear. They probably saw, not just with their natural eyes, that God was up to something, and they wanted to be right there.
Theirs was not a soppy, soaking, sloppy worship either: it was “tsaba” – waging war, fighting, going forth. These were women on a mission, with a purpose, doing spiritual battle before anyone stepped into the tent of meeting.
Scripture does not tell us whether these were single or married women, but it...