Leviticus – Defining the Relationship

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I am in my 8th week of reading through the Bible in a year. Right now, I’m somewhere in the jungles of Leviticus. Hacking my way through the sacrificial system (lots of blood and heavenly BBQ). Contemplating how my relationship with my pastor might change if I had to go to him for bumps and rashes (see Chapter 13). Okay, I’m not thinking too much on my pastor being bi-vocational dermatologist.

Photo by Alexandra K on Unsplash

In the thick of all the details regarding discharges, the Day of Atonement, and forbidden sexual practices, one can see that God is a God of detail. Conditioning and preparing His people to be set apart for Him, different than the people who were then occupying the Promised Land. These rules and boundaries were not only there to set His people apart but to also protect their very beings.

  • Drinking blood? Don’t do that.
  • Sacrifice your kids to an idol? Don’t do that.
  • Sleep with your mom or sisters? Just don’t.

Even more, God was teaching His people how to interact with Him. Christian vernacular would call this a DTR (define the relationship) moment. God was calling His people to participate in a relationship with Him. A relationship that would require:

  • Dedication – To following His rules/law.
  • Honor – Honoring God with the first fruits of their crops, animals, essentially their labor.
  • Sacrifice – Both literal animal sacrifices and the daily sacrifice of living set apart/holy.

God wanted His people to be dedicated solely to Him. Not looking at the surrounding culture, how they worshiped their gods, but looking to Him alone.

Reading through Leviticus, I’m reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross. How his death made a way for us to be with God forever. I am thankful that I do not have to visit my pastor to have a skin rash examined; I am thankful for not having to worry about how my food is cooked—rare steak can be amazing!—. I praise God for being a God of detail. Revealing Himself to the Israelites… revealing a glimpse of Himself to us.

East Texas Yamboree – 2019

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While driving to the East Texas Yamboree, in Gilmer, Texas, I saw a deer off to the side of the road. The doe seemed to contemplate running across the highway. I could see her muscles tense as she started to run in what would have been a direct line for our car. She tensed up, ran, and then seemed to think that running into a car wasn’t the best of ideas for an overcast Saturday. Just one of those surreal moments where I could see things playing out in slow motion and couldn’t do anything about it. Thankful she decided to veer off.

The East Texas Yamboree was fun. We met up with some friends and watched the parade. We saw:

  • Harry Potter (JK Rowling)
  • Mary Poppins
  • Julia Child
  • Beverly Clearly
  • Mary Kay Ash
  • Joanna Gaines

One of the local cowboy churches even had a float with Moses and Jesus on it. Harry Potter and Jesus in the same parade. Only in Gilmer, Texas can you celebrate yams and Jesus. And tons of American manufactured cars. Parade might as well have been sponsored by Ford.

How has your weekend been? Drop me a comment below.

A Letter To My Church Family

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Dear Church Family,

Back in February, during the Life Action Conference, God spoke to Tabitha and I. He told us that it was time to move on from the grieving process of not being able to have more children. After 9 years of trying to conceive, we felt Him calling us to adoption. So we stepped out of the boat, out of our comfort zone, just like Peter in Matthew 14.

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

In obedience to God’s call, we have completed:

  • 40 hours of state-mandated PRIDE Training (for foster and adoption families)
  • Numerous forms and have submitted an ant mound of paperwork
  • A home study interview that delved into our backgrounds, relationships, and family structure

Through all of the above, we have continued forward, waiting for the day that we will bring a child into our home. But like Peter, we do have days where we question; days where we freak out a little.

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I was telling Dr. Kelley (our pastor), who recently resigned, that even on our worst days, I still have God-given peace. A deep knowledge that God is in control, no matter how unknown (timing, age of child, etc.) the adoption process is moving forward.

I want to take a moment to encourage my church family. We are voting on an interim pastor this upcoming Sunday. I want to encourage you to:

  • Think about where we are as a church. We are not the same church that we were seven years ago when Dr. Kelley was hired.
  • Think about where we are going as a church. What does it mean to live out the Gospel in Longview, Texas.

I want to encourage you, church family, not to retreat to what is comfortable. Please do not grasp at what has worked before because someone is available OR because popular people say we should vote a certain way.

If God has been teaching Tabitha and I anything, He has been teaching us to let go of the boat and grab onto Him. I pray that our church would be able to do that, even if that means taking a deep breath, a moment, and searching for a different interim pastor.

Change is hard… but He is good.

Your brother in Christ,

Bryan

From Across the Net – “Putting the “Service” Back in Worship Service”

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We want to be served… but Jesus calls us to more. I liked this piece from Chad Ashby, of 9Marks, titled “Putting the “Service” Back in Worship Service“.

How many of your Sundays look like this?

You show up, and parking lot attendants greet you. Faithful teachers instruct you. Ushers find a seat for you. A well-practiced worship band leads singing for you. Your pastor preaches a faithful, God-glorifying sermon to you. Childcare workers care for your children. And after all that, you pick up your kids and simply return home.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “This Is America”

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

“But, but, Jesus wants me to live my best life now.” I joke, but deep down I wonder if I sometimes believe it. Great piece from Things We Didn’t Know – about life & missions entitled “This Is America“.

If sermons in your church sound more like self-help, living your best life (“for Jesus” of course), or simply marital and family advice, then you need to be asking yourself some serious questions about what you are being taught.  Jesus warns in Mark that many will come to deceive in the name of religion.  They will say all the “right” things, dress in all the “right” ways, know the popular prayers and sayings and topics of the times, and they will be leading you astray from the path to Jesus.  Guys, Jesus never promised a “better life” here on earth.  Following Him is costly, dangerous, painful, lonely, unpopular, counter-cultural.  And did I mention that it’s also worth it?  *don’t quit yet, I promise I will get there.

You can read more here

 

 

Notes from Sunday School – Follow Me

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Follow Me

Intro: More than 24 times in the Gospels, Jesus invited people to follow him. Who did Jesus invite?

  • The wealthy and powerful.
  • The casual observer.
  • The spiritual seekers.
  • The religiously devoted.

Read Matthew 4:18-20

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

Note: Peter and Andrew knew Jesus. He had talked with them previously (John 1:35-42) and had been preaching in the area. They knew what kind of man he was.

Read Matthew 4:21-22

21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

Note: Verse 22 says that they immediately followed him, no excuse.

Q: What excuses do we give God daily?

Side Note: When Jesus asks us to serve him, we must be like the disciples and do it at once.

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Read Mark 1:16-20

16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon[a] and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.

Note: The disciples were not men of great faith when they met Jesus.

Read Luke 5:1-11

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee,[a]great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon,[b] its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Q: What is Peter’s reaction to the fish?

  1. Realizes what Jesus has done.
  2. Realizes his own insignificance/sin.

Q: What did following Jesus equal?

  1. Leaving old life.
  2. Being trained by Jesus.
  3. Learning to obey Jesus (coming under his authority and leadership).
  4. Having a life that looked like his (character, priorities, and practices).

Closing Questions

Who are you living for today?

What does it mean to follow Jesus today?

How can you refocus your relationship/walk with Christ in 2019?

Memorize

John 3:17 – “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (NLT)

These are my notes from teaching this morning. I thought sharing them might be helpful.