Saturday

review

Man, I really need to blog more than weekly. I have no imperative for doing so other than once a week seems too far between posts.

Anyway, the week in review. Weeks go really fast, don't they? Some faster than others, some a weird mix. I was supposed to teach a group of pastors this week at a prayer meeting. The pastors here meet in varying locals to pray for and encourage one another. Normally it goes something like this:

9:00 - sing hymns and songs and pray
10:30 - drink some kind of atol (a hot drink normally made from rice or corn) and eat some kind of bread
11:00 - pray more
11:30 - Someone preaches
12:30 - sing more songs
1:00 - eat lunch
2:00 - drive home

So, when I go out, that's what I normally do. It's usually somewhere within 2 hours of the house so I leave at 7 and get back around 4. Not too bad.

This last Tuesday I went out to a great little place of which I forgot to take a picture (again) and met with the pastors. I was excited because I finally brought the camera and remembered to ask one of the pastors to take a picture of me preaching so all you folks will actually believe I do it. But when it came time to go up front, another guy was teaching! Basilo, a good friend of mine, said, "Oh, you had something ready?!" and I told him not to worry about it. So I spent about 8 hours getting something ready that I didn't' use...but I have a great little sermon with cool handouts ready for next time! All printed up and ready to roll.

I also went to a breakfast meeting yesterday at 8:00 (for which the guy did not show) and wasted an hour after that standing in line at the bank.

I was very busy accomplishing nothing. Sigh. That's life sometimes. I did get a good deal of time in preparing a sermon over Matt 28:16-20 which has been a ridiculous amount of fun.

So, add in normal filling out of forms and errands and planning and whatnot and you have a week done and gone.

I want to talk about being a dad and the shoeshine boys and how someone stole our neighbor's dog. Man. It's a bad world out there.

not a scholar

I must admit that part of my job is to study the Bible. That may be part of the reason I do what I do. I am no Bible Scholar. Not that Bible Scholars are bad, they are actually very helpful, I am just not one of them as anyone who knows me and also knows a Bible Scholar can clearly see. I'm not actually certain what is required to have the title, "Brandon Scott, Bible Scholar", but I am certain I do not meet the requirement.

Anyway, so I've been looking at Proverbs 9 where Wisdom and the Woman of Folly or Foolishness are personified and contrasted. I really recommend you take just 5 minutes and read it. It's only 18 verses. And it's really fascinating because, well, we all hear both voices in our life. One calling us to wisdom and a life lived in awe of God, the other to a life of foolishness and perceived pleasure. One leads to a life of, well, life and meaning. Tho other leads to death.

What's fascinating is that both sound the same at the outset. Both say, "Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? Come with me." So how are we supposed to know which one to follow? Verse 10 says this:

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

Ah! Even the structure of the proverb points to this verse as the center, the key. Fearing God is not like fearing an angry bear. It is a reverent awe, not so much an acute terror. Now, people faced with God's wrath, they ought to be afraid, ought to feel abject terror. But we are called to be awed into silence, to kneel and understand that God is the Lord of all and we, we are not. He is utterly other than we. He is not like us. We make a grievous error when we believe God is like us. When we make the Creator like the created. He made us in His image - not like Him. Not anymore than a picture of a tree is a tree. And yet...we can know Him. "Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding", says the proverb. Jesus says, in praying to the Father, "This is eternal life, that they may know you, the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." That we can know God, being utterly unworthy of such knowledge just blows me away. That we can live a life of wisdom and understanding by having an attitude of humility and awe and by knowing God is just so amazing to me.

The call of God is an invitation to life. It always is. A life of understanding, of wisdom, of peace and hope and joy. A life lived not by sight but by faith. A life lived by the power of another world. A life...lived.

A life really lived.

Thursday

a good talk

We had a meeting yesterday with about 15 pastors where we discussed the role of women in ministry or the role of women in the church. In a machismo culture it was a truly great discussion where we talked about what the Bible says and where we are at fault and how the culture tries to press us into its mold. I was really proud of the pastors for accepting the responsibility of being men who place themselves beneath the authority of the Bible and then try to figure out how to do minsitry within that reality. It's not an easy thing to do when there are a lot of voices (very loud, sometimes passionate voices) telling you a variety of things, most of which are contrary to what you believe.

It was a good time. It's amazing how much you can have in common with people who believe in the same Lord.

Saturday

While it lasts



Saturday mornings are a time when we allow our children to rot their brains by watching cartoons and eating cereal so unnaturally colored and devoid of nutrition and that the cereal people are forced to add in vitamins just to avoid prosecution. But they like it. Of course it tastes good and is crunchy. I just ate a little blue ring that tasted like stale blueberry syrup. My daughter is giving them to me one by one. Surely nothing given to me by so beautiful a courier could be bad? The chewing surfaces of my teeth are now smooth, filled to the brim with a rainbow of fruit flavored pseudo grain. A swig of room temperature coffee and all is well.

Our tiny backyard has been overrun by black woolly bear caterpillars. They are an appropriately named creature. Our son enjoys collecting them and storing them in a liter yogurt container with holes punched in the lid. It's a sub-standard prison, but the alternative is death by garden shears or being flung over the razor wire wall into the neighboring corn field so all together it's not a bad deal. He plays with them in the sand box: gritty, fuzzy pre-metamorphosed worms spilling from his hands. He piles them in his dump truck and buries them in the sand and shrieks with delight when they wriggle to freedom, tiny Shai-Hulud ruled by their blue eyed master in a green plastic turtle. It's fun. And boys who can play with dirt and bugs make better men. Of this I am certain.

And so our Saturday is. It will change. As our children grow and sleep until 11, these mornings will pass away and I will have to rouse them from sleep to go and do whatever teenagers will do in a dozen years from now on a Saturday morning in a place I do not yet know. So I will enjoy it now. While it remains. For I am sure I will miss it when it's gone.

Sunday

hungry people

Sundays are wonderful days. For believers we either get to go to church on Sunday or, if we're one of the 'professionals' (a truly silly and misleading title), we get to teach and preach and serve on this first day of the week.

God is so good to give us this day to meet together. To remember that on this day the greatest news ever spoken was uttered to a small group of broken, defeated women who had come to execute their duty to their fallen Teacher.

"He is not here. He is risen"

I let out a whoop every time I read that in the gospels. It's more exciting than last second touchdowns or triple plays or clearance sales at Gymboree. And this coming from a man who truly loves the game of College football and is married to the greatest woman in the history of forever who truly loves shopping with her momma - I think maybe even more than I like football.

I guess to even compare the defeat of death and sin by the resurrection of Jesus to football or shopping just shows how very little I understand it and how tiny I am in my thoughts when compared against the glory of God and His plan and love for His children.

And that's why I love Sundays. It is the day when we all come together to remember. To worship together. It's not the only day we are to worship, mind you. We must do that every day. Intentionally. Consistently. But often we limit our walk with Christ to Sunday. Could you imagine if your child only ate once a week? Only grew on Sunday? How tragic would that be? To what lengths would you go to get them to eat every day. To grow a little everyday.

See, Sunday is not the day we go to 'get fed' as I hear so very often. It is the day we go to be together. And get fed together. Far too many people tell me that they are not, "being fed" at church and while this is problematic, the greatest and deepest problem is with the person telling me that very thing. If you feel you are not being fed at church it is most likely because you have starved yourself all week and expect to gorge on Sunday, hopefully enough to allow you to fast the rest of the week. This is not how things are designed to work. And it turns us into takers instead of givers on Sunday and robs all the rest of the body of your spiritual service and worship. We are a one another body, but starving people are only intent on satisfying their hunger. They have energy for little else.

The solution is to take your walk with Christ seriously and to walk with Him a little every day so that on Sunday you can be dedicated to the body instead of distracted by your hunger. I wonder how different our churches would be were this the case. Were our members waking up and putting on their nice clothes and going to church not to be served, but to serve. To worship together by serving one another as a filled people.

I daresay it would be better than football.

Thursday

Not by might, sister.

I just had to share this, though many of you may have seen it. Don't you ever tell me you are too old to be used by God!


thoughts on a thursday

Last night our 3.5 year old son decided that it would be a good idea to pee in his toy box. So he unzipped, did the deed, then kept on playing with his toys. Took me a few minutes to notice.

I was rather upset.

I'm not anymore, but I admit I was a little shocked. He's our first, so I guess he gets the brunt of our inexperience and has the unique job of breaking us in to parenthood.

There are things that I need to learn about God that are only possible once I became a father. I don't think that being a dad is necessary to spiritual growth. But it sure puts things in focus. I understand a little better how much God loves us as his children. My love for just our 2 sweet kids is just the faintest reflection of God's love - if even that. A fleck of sea spray compared to his ocean. A molecule, a proton in his universe. I don't know how to go larger in the difference, but you get the point. I don't have to work to love my kids. I just do. Because they are.

I discipline them because I know they need it if they are to survive and thrive in the world in which we live. I teach them what is dangerous or useless or beneficial. I get disappointed in them but never stop loving them. I mean, both our children have a combined age of less than 6, so I'm not so much disappointed as I am flabbergasted momentarily at the creativity with which they demonstrate their sinful natures.

When Jesus wept over Jerusalem and expressed his desire to put them under his wing as a mother hen - I get that now like never before. Every day, however, is a new test as a parent. A new...something to keep us on our toes. Marriage and parenthood are the primary crucibles in which the Lord makes me more like Him. They are the testing ground, the examination, the weight room where no bombs explode, no Scan-trons are bubbled in and no bar bells clang but growth happens. And I can't really explain how other than that the Lord uses my wife and kids to grow me up. A lot. Every day.

While, were we not to have children, I would have more time to meditate and read and study, I would not be very grown up in my faith. I just wouldn't. I don't think that's axiomatic; it doesn't apply to everyone. But it sure applies to me. And I am so thankful that the Lord, in his marvelous wisdom and grace chose to bless me with such beautiful and brilliant and sometimes belligerent tutors.

And so begins another day to grow a little more. Of course the bonus of toddler snuggles and kisses and giggles helps soften the blow. At least a little. Or maybe more than that.

Saturday

Good times in the OT

There is a book of the Old Testament that mentions sin more than any other. One that contains more of God actually speaking than any other book of the Bible. One whose theme is holiness and worship.

Can you guess?

It's Leviticus. And along with Numbers and most of the prophets are among the most unread books of the Bible. Which may be why so many misunderstand what God teaches us in the New Testament. A college student once asked me why he was having such a hard time understanding Revelation. I asked him if he had read the other 65 books before it. He said no. Then I asked him how well he would understand any book if he just read the last chapter. But we do that all the time. Heck, I do it all the time.

So here's a look at just 3 verses:

Leviticus 1: 3 " 'If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect. He must present it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. 4 He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. 5 He is to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron's sons the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting"

INCREDIBLE!

Goodness there is a lot of theology packed in there. One of the themes of Leviticus is God's holiness and how we are to relate to him as a sinful people. Sin causes problems. Big problems. It even defiles the place where it occurs! In order to have a relationship with God, something has to happen. And when sin is the problem, something has to die.

This is a model of what the Tabernacle could have looked like. We're just going to use it to see where things were placed:



Here are God's instructions to the Israelites for how to worship him. If you have cattle, this is what you are supposed to do. Take the best, a perfect male from the herd. You go into the front gate where priests stand to help in the sacrifice. In front of you is the Tent where the presence of God sits in a cloud. You cannot enter that tent, unless you want to die. Only the priests can enter. And into the presence of God? Not you. Because inside that tent is a room called the Holy of Holies where the Ark sits, atop of which is the mercy seat, where God chose to be present. And only the High Priest can go in. Once a year.

So look at that model. What's in between you and God?

An altar. Blood. A big basin to wash. Priests. A veil. The fire on the altar never went out. Heady incense is burning all the time. The smell of roasting meat and burning fat and burning grain mixes with the incense and the wood smoke and the sweet stench of freshly spilled blood. You hear the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep and goats. The swishing of robes and the muffled voices of the congregation. You feel the heat of the animal beneath your hands. It is full sensory experience.

You take your bull (if you are a man) and you walk into that gate. You place your hand upon the animal and you slit it's throat, the blood pouring onto your hand. The priest sprinkles the altar with blood. You are to skin the bull and cut it up into pieces. The priest places the animal on the altar and the fire consumes it.

In laying your hands on the bull you performed something called imputation, a transference of guilt. You transferred the guilt of your sin to that bull and you took it's life in place of your own. The priest then atoned for or satisfied God's holy demands on your behalf. It is an act of propitiation. A death occurs because one must occur to pay the ransom for your sin. It's you or the bull. You then leave the courtyard where the altar burns your bull but you cannot approach the LORD in his Holy Place. You have merely paid your debt to Him.

You have worshiped your God.

Christians don't have to do this. Do you do this? PETA would sue you into poverty if you tried.

Long after Leviticus was written, God sent the perfect Male. From our herd. He was acceptable to the Lord. He was the Lord. We (as a race) laid our hands upon him and we slaughtered him by nailing him to a cross. He looked down on those who killed him and said, "Forgive them Father, they know not what they do."

They were sacrificing. For all of us. But they didn't know that. They imputed, transferred sin to the perfect Lamb who was slain. His blood made it so that we needed no more bulls. No more goats or sheep or doves. At the death of the Lord of all creation the veil in the temple tore in two from top to bottom. It was finished.

We simply cannot understand what happened to Jesus and all that is taught in the New Testament without understanding what happened in the Old. Look at that model of the tabernacle. Christ has accomplished all that the tabernacle and the sacrificial system had to offer and we receive it all through faith in what he has done. For those who believe, there is no more altar of burnt offering. No more wash basin. No need to be made clean. No more priesthood. We have been made the priesthood, the Lord Jesus our high priest. No more need for atonement, imputation, propitiation. The temple, the tabernacle is no longer needed. We are the temple, filled with the Holy Spirit, the presence of God. Christ Jesus came and tabernacled among us. It's huge. The hugest thing that has ever happened. And it is finished. Once for all. No more veil between God and his people. We can approach the throne of grace, the mercy seat, the presence of God.


Now read this and think about how awesome, how wonderful, how marvelous is this truth:

Hebrews 4:14 "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Let's approach together. With confidence. Let us hold firm the faith we profess. We need help. And we will receive it.

Friday

fri-day

I started Leviticus yesterday and I must say that for the first time I am excited to read it. But I doubt you want to hear about that.

This has been a fairly pedestrian last 10 days or so. Just not much exciting has happened. I mean, there are problems with kids and laughs and issues. Life. But not anything terribly exciting. Sometimes life just plods along. I'm not complaining either. It's sort of nice.

Jenny has just 16 weeks left in her pregnancy. 16 weeks and we 4 become 5. Wow! We're already 5, but the 5th needs a bit more baking before he or she is ready. This will be the 3rd time we've done this but you don't get any less excited about having a baby. It is truly one of the more miraculous things that happens every day. The main difference is how exhausted we are. Taking care of a 3 1/2 and a 1 1/2 year old is...tiring.

Ok. Well, I doubt this blog will incite much debate. I guess, of course, one could always get upset about something.