Leviticus 14:1-32

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’re going to be going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious…and your stomach a little queasy. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 14:1-32
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look. Then, if the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person, the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two live[a] clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop. And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh[b] water. 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. 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. And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent seven days. And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean.

10 “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[c] of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log[d] of oil. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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. 15 Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand 16 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 Lord. 17 And 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. 18 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. 19 The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. 20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

21 “But if he is poor and cannot afford so much, then he shall take one male lamb for a guilt offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, and a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil; 22 also two turtledoves or two pigeons, whichever he can afford. The one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 23 And on the eighth day he shall bring them for his cleansing to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, before the Lord. 24 And the priest shall take the lamb of the guilt offering and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. 25 And he shall kill the lamb of the guilt offering. And the priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering and 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. 26 And the priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, 27 and shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the Lord. 28 And the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand 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, in the place where the blood of the guilt offering was put. 29 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, to make atonement for him before the Lord. 30 And he shall offer, of the turtledoves or pigeons, whichever he can afford, 31 one[e] for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, along with a grain offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for him who is being cleansed. 32 This is the law for him in whom is a case of leprous disease, who cannot afford the offerings for his cleansing.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Can you tell that leprosy is a big deal?
Think about what Jesus did in Matthew 8:1-3.
Do you have any uncleanness that Jesus can’t handle?
What kind of a God do you think I am?

 

My Weekend Picks for 4-29-2016

Picks Weekend

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Guess what: It even happens to worship leaders…

What to Do when You Don’t Feel Like Worshiping This WeekendChuck Lawless
Don't Feel Like Worshipping
“It happens. Even believers struggle sometimes with worshiping. Life gets hard. Problems get in the way. We go to church, but leave our heart at home. What should you do if you expect to find worship hard this weekend?”


I think I’m acquainted with quite a few “Bad News” types…

Governed by Bad News or Good News?David Prince
good news
“If the people you work with, and live with, look at you and conclude that you think that it is a terrible time to be a Christian in America, you are on the wrong track. We must not be apostles of bad news. It is an excellent time to be a Christian in America right now. Look around! The world is full of Gospel opportunity! When your emotions tell you it’s a bad time to be a Christian in America, repudiate your emotions. They are wrong…

…Like Paul, we must make a radical commitment to be governed by Gospel truth, rather than our emotions, or the bad news on the 24-hour news shows. If bad news becomes our most prevalent reality, then our emotions will enslave us. But Gospel truth will always set us free. Paul is moved by the bad news he saw, but he was not governed by it. We know this because no matter the circumstance, Paul did not stop expectantly and passionately proclaiming the Gospel. If we would have our lives defined by good news, we must do the same. For the Christian, bad news is the shadow and Good News is the eternal reality.”


Interesting analysis. Interesting that it appeared in Vox…

The smug style in American liberalismEmmett Rensin
https://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/L3Y7KO6HIvDIiYLyTWF5mM6N8Os=/0x136:3200x1558/1350x600/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/49364193/SmugStyle_Final.0.0.jpg“Suffice it to say, by the 1990s the better part of the working class wanted nothing to do with the word liberal. What remained of the American progressive elite was left to puzzle: What happened to our coalition?

Why did they abandon us?

What’s the matter with Kansas?

The smug style arose to answer these questions. It provided an answer so simple and so emotionally satisfying that its success was perhaps inevitable…

…The trouble is that stupid hicks don’t know what’s good for them. They’re getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists until they believe all the lies that’ve made them so wrong. They don’t know any better. That’s why they’re voting against their own self-interest….

…Finding comfort in the notion that their former allies were disdainful, hapless rubes, smug liberals created a culture animated by that contempt. The rubes noticed and replied in kind. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Financial incentive compounded this tendency — there is money, after all, in reassuring the bitter. Over 20 years, an industry arose to cater to the smug style. It began in humor, and culminated for a time in The Daily Show, a program that more than any other thing advanced the idea that liberal orthodoxy was a kind of educated savvy and that its opponents were, before anything else, stupid. The smug liberal found relief in ridiculing them.”


Seth is short and to the point, as usual…

Transformation tourismSeth Godin
“I bought the diet book, but ate my usual foods.”

“I filled the prescription, but didn’t take the meds.”

“I took the course… well, I watched the videos… but I didn’t do the exercises in writing.”

Merely looking at something almost never causes change. Tourism is fun, but rarely transformative.

If it was easy, you would have already achieved the change you seek.

Change comes from new habits, from acting as if, from experiencing the inevitable discomfort of becoming.”


Thanks for this good reminder, Trevin…

3 Reasons You Should See Going to Church as a Privilege,
Not a Chore
Trevin Wax
church-768613_960_720“If you think of attending a worship service as merely a duty or an obligation that you are bound to fulfill, then you are speaking of worship as if it were a chore. Regular church attendance may feel like that at times, just as a daily “work out” sometimes does. But we’re off base if we regularly conceive of our weekly efforts to “meet together” and to “stir one another to love and good works” as merely an obligation….

…We are not lonely pilgrims on individual journeys to glory; we are a community of faith, marching forward as exiles in this world, beloved by God and beloved by each other. It is a privilege to be part of each other’s lives, to cheer one another on in the faith, to chasten and chide with holy reverence when needed, and to love one another as Christ has loved us.”


https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/prefixation.jpg
Source: Wrong Hands

Leviticus 13:1-59

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’re going to be going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious…and your stomach a little queasy. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 13:1-59
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
“When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous[a] disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean. But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up for another seven days. And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the eruption spreads in the skin, after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again before the priest. And the priest shall look, and if the eruption has spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprous disease.

(There is a lot more detail, and a lot of specific instructions in verses 9-46. I’ve omitted them for space, but you should read them
to get the whole picture.)

47 “When there is a case of leprous disease in a garment, whether a woolen or a linen garment, 48 in warp or woof of linen or wool, or in a skin or in anything made of skin, 49 if the disease is greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin or in the warp or the woof or in any article made of skin, it is a case of leprous disease, and it shall be shown to the priest. 50 And the priest shall examine the disease and shut up that which has the disease for seven days. 51 Then he shall examine the disease on the seventh day. If the disease has spread in the garment, in the warp or the woof, or in the skin, whatever be the use of the skin, the disease is a persistent leprous disease; it is unclean. 52 And he shall burn the garment, or the warp or the woof, the wool or the linen, or any article made of skin that is diseased, for it is a persistent leprous disease. It shall be burned in the fire.

(I’ve also omitted verses 53-58.)

59 This is the law for a case of leprous disease in a garment of wool or linen, either in the warp or the woof, or in any article made of skin, to determine whether it is clean or unclean.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Can you tell that leprosy is a big deal?
After reading this entire chapter, now think about Matthew 8:1-3.
What uncleanness do you have that Jesus can’t handle?

 

Greatness Is Overrated

The following is written by my good friend Jeff Hill. I use the word “good” intentionally because I believe him to be the embodiment of what it means to be a truly good man.

-Lloyd

Few words are more validating or reassuring to someone than to be told they are “a good man” or “a good woman.”  This is especially true if the compliment comes from someone who really knows you well, like your spouse or children.

But is “good” good enough?

I’m not referring to our need for God’s grace, instead just reflecting as a human being, living a good life and trying to make a difference in the world.  Should I not be striving to be “great”?  Isn’t being great somehow preferable to just being good?  The words themselves tend to imply the comparison.  How can anybody be great unless they can be compared to others who are just good?

What are the common attributes of “great” people according to our cultural labels?  Who are the ones with the historical monuments?  Who gets the accolades that come from changing the course of history?  They are generally the ones who have a strong vision and a personality that attracts others, leading them confidently to victory.

But many of the examples of “great leaders” have some pretty glaring personal flaws.  Underneath their “greatness,” is a person who may not be a particularly “good man or woman” at all.

Good vs. Great may be a false comparison.

I’m not convinced being great entails an underlying goodness as a prerequisite.  Families are often neglected.  Lack of integrity and infidelities of many kind undermine the baseline definition of being “good” but it seems no impediment to being “great”.

My conclusions?

“Greatness” is over-rated!

It’s not the “great” people who change history, it’s the “good” ones.

Not to say we don’t need the great ones to lead and inspire, but it’s the good people who make us truly great.  It’s the “good” people who lead families, churches, and communities who will never get the big tombstones, monuments, or accolades but who make the GREATEST difference to us all.

“Well done GOOD and FAITHFUL servant…
Enter into the joy of the Lord.” –Matt 25:23 

-Jeff Hill

My Picks for Thursday 4-28-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

What Does It Really Mean to Be #Blessed?
Vaneetha Rendall Risner
What Does It Really Mean to Be #Blessed?“Feeling blessed is in vogue.

A quick look at Facebook and Twitter shows how many people today feel #blessed. In our social-media world, saying you’re blessed can be a way of boasting while trying to sound humble.

College scholarship? #Blessed. Unexpected raise? #Blessed. Wonderful family? #Blessed.

As Christians we use that term too, of course. We pray God will bless our family. We attribute our undeserved gifts to “God’s blessings.” We talk about ministries being blessed. But what does it really mean? How should we understand the blessing of God?…

…One translation of the New Testament (ESV) has 112 references with the words bless, blessing, or blessed, none of which connect blessing to material prosperity…”


Powerful and insightful piece on how the scourge of pornography eludes moral judgments…

See No EvilSamuel D. James
https://d2ipgh48lxx565.cloudfront.net/uploads/article_5720d0b2968f4.jpg?Expires=1464408048&Signature=en184o-4wXyZB5476TUiIjug3hQFb08hJYX8i1VSjFYPEP6kbIIwyV0ZvTakSQvEahpEMZHYd2fAn2RlcgdjaLVFAB-dC5ivJCLhtkGM5vXR8ltHrJvV7GGywOmOeE~fGr5dN6EEyLLZKQtLNgGblwWySu7NbWfreESW0uuZTovZugX90fnGzBIVGBBQjzqdXm6CK5dO0cv-VYIz~P1TDynLvny5S8-7~SL3MfJFeRTLiiAfksyz~Phu-WbeXDQp76v-BEi6CCH5YHaLJ~5Oe6KYMfuVLrduTMQc~qcOE3kRjrZfihAYlCLWWm18rMBt0QcMvJH3ZlKhqsEZLx25sQ__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIN7SVXNLPAOVDKZQ
“Of all the Sexual Revolution’s fruits, porn is arguably the one that has rotted fastest. It has defied the categorical wisdom of libertines by growing in users and extremeness, even as cultural mores against casual, commitment-free sex have eroded. Contrary to the predictions of many, porn has proven to be addictive and isolating. What was once promised as an end to slavish prudishness has instead ensnared millions in powerful neurological patterns, patterns that, if unabated, are conducive to the worst kinds of abusive and sadomasochistic behavior…

…Because modern progressivism lacks categories of moral obligations for the isolated, autonomous individual, it cannot speak meaningfully to the pornography crisis. The best it can do is to correctly identify the anti-social effects of porn addiction. But even then, liberals are handicapped, since porn’s effects on relationships and social capital can only really be felt where those human bonds are still strong—such as monogamous marriages and covenant communities. A culture where meaningful mutuality is fraying and isolated and autonomous individualism is growing is a ripe host for the parasite of pornography.”


I have often wondered about this…

Gay grooms and a Colorado baker: Why don’t reporters ask about motives anymore?Julia Duin
“What do these two stories have in common? For starters, it’s the reporters’ refusal to ask anything about the motives of those bringing the lawsuits.

What brought up a red flag for me in the B&B story was a simple search of gay-friendly lodgings in Illinois that could have met the needs of the couple wanting the civil union ceremony. But no, they only wanted their festivities at the one place that didn’t want to host the event and of course they sued. And like the plaintiffs in the above-mentioned Oregon case, they alleged thousands of dollars of emotional distress and harm.

Am I the only person seeing a pattern here? Go find a business that doesn’t believe in gay weddings, tell them you want them to bake you a cake/supply you with flowers or host your ceremony and when they say no, then sue them out of existence? A lot of monetary judgments haven’t come down yet because the cases haven’t been resolved, but there’s obviously gold in them hills.

Why aren’t journalists asking similar questions to mine?…

…What about bakeries owned by people who belong to other religions that are also opposed to gay marriage? The Washington Times did a story a year ago about Muslim bakeries in the Detroit area that likewise don’t want to cater gay weddings but which have stayed under the radar. Why is the Times the only newspaper to ask this question?

I see a lot of painting by the numbers, a lot of writing according to a formula and a lot of not wanting to look under certain rocks. There are stories out there, folks, but they may be stories that don’t line up with your personal views or those of your editor. There was a time when reporters went after such stories nonetheless. Those days may be gone.”


If you’re in the ministry, or know someone who is, you should read this emotional reflection…

Thoughts On The Rise And Fall Of PastorsScott Sauls
“For reasons beyond my ability to understand, God has graciously protected me from moral collapse over the years. Knowing the fragility and fickleness of my own heart, sometimes I marvel at how this could be the case. Why them and not me? Sometimes I wonder if, under different circumstances, I, too, could collapse morally. As the famous hymn goes, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it…” Indeed, I feel my proneness to wander every single day.

When I was a seminary student, an older, seasoned pastor spoke in a chapel service and said, “Some of you are very gifted. You aspire to do great things in ministry one day. God have mercy on you.” Eighteen years later, I am beginning to understand what he meant by that…

…Thanks for listening to this grammatically messy dump of my feelings, which also represents the messiness of my heart as I cry over friends who have fallen…

…and as I wonder why it was them instead of me.”


For my cat-loving friends…
E4355cf0e7eb013354ae005056a9545d
Source: Off the Mark

Leviticus 12:1-8

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’re going to be going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious…and your stomach a little queasy. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 12:1-8
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.

“And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,[a] one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Why do you think my requirements for the birth of a daughter were different than for a son?
Children are a blessing, right?
So why would childbirth make you unclean?
Notice: I provide a way for everyone to be made clean.

 

Music part 1 – The album that changed the trajectory of my life

The (Christian) Music that Shaped Me – Part 1

(I introduce this series here. In this series I’ll be sharing music that has been influential to me, personally. My hope is twofold: First, that some of my younger friends will be able to appreciate “from whence we’ve come” and to be encouraged to continue to seek fresh ways to communicate their faith through music. Second, that those of my generation will enjoy looking back a bit, but more than that, I pray that we will continue to recognize and encourage the creativity of today’s Christian musicians.)

I know it sounds exaggerated, but I believe there was one album that changed the trajectory of my life.

I grew up in a small church on the east side of Cincinnati. (I share some about what I learned in that church here.) I’ve heard it said that Cincinnati experiences all the same cultural trends that occur on the coasts, just 5 years later. I think there’s truth in that, and I think it may apply in this case.

My love of music began and was fueled in high school. Specifically, my love for dissecting and creating interesting music. I was also definitely serious about my faith, but the truth is much of the music of the church that I experienced left me a little flat.

In the time and place where I grew up Christians liked both kinds of music: Southern and Gospel. I suppose there were really 3 types: hymns (All Hail the Power), camp choruses (Walkin’ On the Heaven Road), and Southern Gospel.

See, I was in the process of exploring the music of some great jazz musicians, and wondering why some of that same creativity couldn’t be applied to Christian music. I don’t want to get any hate mail here, but southern Gospel music just isn’t very creative. You need a tenor who can make your hair stand up, a bass who can vibrate your intestines and a couple of guys who can harmonize in the middle. Have them sing some material about the “golden streets,” “mama’s Bible,” or the conversion of the town drunk, and you’ve got yourself a Southern Gospel song. Now, please understand, I don’t hate Southern Gospel music. In fact, there are times when it is exactly what I need. It’s just that those times don’t come around all that often.

Anyway, in 1969 I remember going to a concert at Taft Auditorium in downtown Cincinnati. They would have these gospel concerts there from time to time featuring all your favorite Southern Gospel groups: The Florida Boys, The Oak Ridge Boys (when they did only gospel), The LeFevres, The Rambos, The Statesmen, etc.

This particular night, they introduced a quartet called The Imperials. I had heard some rumors about these guys and how I absolutely needed to hear them, but figured they would be more of the same, only maybe a notch better. Our seats were in the balcony. After their introduction the band began playing. Suddenly I heard voices singing but didn’t see anyone. Soon I saw these guys walking down the aisles from the back of the auditorium singing into cordless(!!) microphones!

I simply wasn’t prepared for what I heard. Their music featured arrangements like I’d never heard in Christian music before. Their music became a bridge for me. A bridge between interesting and meaningful music and a growing and deepening Christian faith. I bought this album that night and, over time, purchased virtually every album they ever produced.

This was a group that came out of the Southern Gospel culture (Jake Hess and the Imperials) and began to push the boundaries. While they celebrated their heritage, they seemed to have no desire to remain stuck in the past. I looked forward to each new release to see what their next step was going to be.

I mentioned in my previous post about how I loved big band jazz because of the way it combined a creative and coherent arrangement with opportunities for soloists to spread their wings. The Imperials music did the same thing vocally. Their arrangements influenced my own vocal arranging for decades to come.

What I didn’t realize until later was that they were beginning to bring together some of the new music coming out of the “Jesus Movement(Which I didn’t really know anything about at the time. Remember, Cincinnati is five years late.) along with more traditional elements, and even some current popular hits, and creating something that I found extremely powerful. This combining of styles and cultures is something that has informed my approach to church music over the decades.

You don’t always realize a life-changing event when it’s happening, but in looking back, I can safely say that this group, and this album specifically, changed the trajectory of my life and career.


Listen to this track and you can hear a vocal arrangement closer to The Association than The Statesmen. Also, the lyrics spoke to me in a way that the Christian music I had been familiar with never did…

A New World
Ronn Huff – Heartwarming Music
It’s a new world you say, things have changed,
they’re not the same today.
It’s a new world today, your walk, your style,
and the words that you say.
It’s a new world you say.

But you still walk in trouble, that hasn’t changed.
Men hate men, and that hasn’t changed.
Nations rise against nations, and that hasn’t changed.
And men still turn away from God, and you tell me, brother,
It’s a new world today!

But if you really want a new world, start a new way,
Sing a new song on a new day,
You need a new heart,
And only Christ can give a new heart.
And what a change, my friend, there will be!

It’s a breakthrough to a new life.
It’s a breakthrough to a great life.

Now you really have a breakthrough to a new world today!


The album also included a cover of the song People Got to Be Free by The Rascals


In case you’d like to compare, here are The Rascals in concert the same year…

My Picks for Tuesday 4-26-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

This a very absorbing, inspiring, and challenging article about the church in China…

The China SyndromePhilip Yancey
Shanghai_on_the_Bund_The_Pudong_skyline
“We live in a time like the apostles,” Pastor Yuan reflected.  “Christians here are persecuted, yes.  But look at Hong Kong and Taiwan—they have everything, but they don’t seek God.  I tell you, I came out of that prison with faith stronger than I went in.  Like Joseph, we don’t know why we go through hard times until later, looking back.  Think of it: we in China may have the largest Christian community in the world, and in an atheist state that tried to stamp us out!”…

…Chinese leaders know that all of the top fifteen countries ranked on a Prosperity Index have a Christian heritage.  Indexes that rank nations by freedom, lack of corruption, and gender equality show exactly the same trend.  Even die-hard atheists have to recognize that religious faith can have good effects on society.

David Aikman records a statement from a Chinese social scientist indoctrinated in Maoism.  “One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.  We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective.  At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.  Then we thought it was because you had the best political system.  Next we focused on your economic system.  But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.  That is why the West has been so powerful.  The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics.  We don’t have any doubt about this.”


In case you hadn’t heard…

Christian author Jen Hatmaker takes stand for LGBT inclusion Jonathan Merritt
“Her seeming shift will undoubtedly anger some conservative Christians who have decided that homosexual marriage and relationships are a hill on which to die. Hatmaker acknowledged that some Christians may abandon her in light of her evolution on this issue, but appears willing to accept whatever blowback is coming because she believes the stakes are too high.”


While on the subject: This excellent article by my very good friend appeared about a year ago. It showed up again in my FB newsfeed and I’m glad it did. It is truly worthy of your time and attention…

Pondering the Future of MarriageJon Weatherly
02_Weatherly_JN
“But let’s not kid ourselves. Becoming clearer about what we object to morally, becoming more effective in showing Christ’s love to LGBT people are vital steps. But they will not satisfy the church’s critics. The real-time social media reaction to the ERLC conference shows that our critics will accept nothing short of full endorsement of same-sex marriage, even labeling the failure to endorse it as “hate.” We need to get used to that, if we aren’t already. Don’t search the Internet on this subject unless you’re consciously empowered with patience and grace from the Spirit of Christ.

As the church provides cruciform community, can we somehow address the culture at large? Conference participants answered with a thoughtful yes. Apart from the Bible and Christian theology, a potent case can be made for the traditional view of marriage.

Tired of the culture wars, many Christians concede they cannot impose their morality on others. Yet, if we believe same-sex marriage is harmful, we do not express love for neighbor by staying silent. An effective public case must be made without recourse to the Bible’s authority…Sherif Girgis and Ryan Anderson, two of the authors of the recent book, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, provided provocative approaches to the topic from what all can observe of the world around them. The church needs to become familiar with such ideas to maintain a faithfully robust witness…

…So will the church exhibit sufficient confidence in its position to engage the culture with patience, humility, and forthrightness? Bold in speech by our calling in Christ, we Christians generally talk about our beliefs a lot. Conscious of the difference Christ makes in us, we distance ourselves from those whose lives do not reflect that difference. But at least, in part, our words have failed to persuade because we have failed to make friends and listen to them.

Our bold speech and distinct identity can work differently. If we are confident about God’s Word and our standing with God, we can be confident enough to listen, empathize, and build respectful, loving relationships with LBGT people. They mostly know what we think, and we do not need to remind them in order to fulfill our responsibility or to maintain our purity. God’s Word is powerful enough that we can wait to speak, even if it is a long wait, and to speak with gentleness that befits the Christ of the cross.”


For church leaders who recruit leaders…

What Happens When Character Matters Less Than Talent?
Mike Leake
“It’s easy to pick on celebrity culture, but I wonder how often this plays out in the local church? You’ve got a gaping whole in your children’s ministry. It seems that all of your prayers are answered as Mr. Good-Theology expresses interest in heading up the department. He has passion, great theology, and tremendous talent. He’s also got a good deal of arrogance to match his gifts.

So what do you do?

Most will propel him to that position of leadership. On the front end the benefits seem to outweigh the pitfalls. We hope that eventually his character will catch up with his gifts. But it seldom does.”


 

Your idea has already been tried…
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Leviticus 11:1-47

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’re going to be going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious…and your stomach a little queasy. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 11:1-47
And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.

“These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. 10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. 11 You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. 12 Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you.

(In verses 13-44 he discusses birds, insects and other specific types of animals, which are clean and unclean, and how they can make you unclean, then concludes with this…)

45 For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

46 This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, 47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Could you keep this straight?
Verse 45 explains the reason for these commands.
Does the reason make sense to you?
See if you can explain it.
Does vs. 45 affect your behavior today?
Should it?
How?