Saturday, February 25, 2006

Leviticus 1-9

Sarah and I have now ventured into Leviticus, and I have to say, wow. The holiness of God is so clear, and His great mercy in providing a way that we can approach Him. And the priests and the sacrifices all point so clearly to Jesus, it's thrilling.

I wanted to share something that really stood out for me.

Pretty much from Exodus 25 to Leviticus 9 you've got a list of specific commands from the LORD, followed by obedience by the people. Firstly on how to build the tabernacle He will dwell in, and secondly on how to approach Him, ie. with a substitute to make atonement. His instructions are explicitly clear, and again and again you hear the "as the Lord commanded Moses" mantra, as the people of Israel follow God's commands down to the last detail.

Then at the end of Lev 9 you get "And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces."

So Aaron offers a sacrifice for the sins of the people, God is pleased with it and blesses them. Then He burns up and utterly consumes the sacrifice. So you can imagine the Israelites looking on, seeing God destroy the sacrifice, knowing that it has been destroyed for their sin. Because there was a substitute, they receive God's blessing, and the sacrifice receives His wrath. And the people shout out and fall on their faces.

And I think, is this my response when I see Christ taking God's just wrath against my sin instead of me? Am I completely humbled and rightly in fear and awe of my God? Sadly, most of the time the answer is no. Because I spend so little time meditating on the cross, and what it means. This is my problem, and I guess the problem of most of us.

Lord, fix my eyes on the cross, overwhelm me with the death of my Saviour, that I would truly understand that His punishment should have been mine, that my blessing should have been His. Only then will I truly live a life of worship!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

In case you haven't heard...

I'm getting married to Pete Campbell in October :)

God has, as always, been abundantly good, and has led us clearly since we started courting in December. We both feel convinced this is His will, and are very excited about it :)

Pete proposed last Sunday in a muddy field in Sandhurst, after we got approval from both sets of parents. Now comes the madness of planning the wedding, and preparing for marriage! Do pray for us, that we would fix our eyes on Jesus, that our relationship would be glorifying to God, and that He would continue to guide and lead us. I'd really value prayer as the wedding prep begins - the thought of it stresses me out!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

On Valentine's Day...

Pete and I trekked down to Bristol to see Beth Orton at Colston Hall. She was brill!

The support, Clay Hill, were great, the singer had a beautiful voice, and they had a very cool guy playing double bass and the scissors (which featured in a song called 'beard', inspired by seeing lots of people with wierd beards at a festival. Brilliant!).

Beth Orton was fantastic. She has the most gorgeous voice, and great songs. She played a lot of new stuff, which was great. For the old stuff it was just her and her guitar - marvellous. And she's nuts - in between songs she told corny jokes, and was generally quite random.

Colston Hall's really nice - having only been to standing gigs in students unions, the CIA and places like that, it was great to be in a non-smoking, sitting venue without the smell of pot and the random drunk guys falling about the place. And they sell coffee and ice cream!! man, I really am getting old...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

On the second half of Exodus...

Reading thru Exodus 20-40, a few things have really struck me.

20-33, God has redeemed His people, and now calls them to a holy life. He gives the Israelites specific commands, including having no gods before Him, and not making graven images. The people are afraid to hear God speak, so tell Moses to go speak to God, and then pass on what He says. So Moses goes up into the mountain, and he's away for ages.

And the people get restless. While God is telling Moses how the people are to give their silver and gold for the building of the tabernacle, they are giving their gold to Aaron, to make them a graven image. He makes them a false god, an idol. God Himself spoke to them in ch 20, yet here they are in ch32 worshipping a golden calf, offering it sacrifices, giving it credit for redeeming them from Egypt.

So God tells Moses what the people have done. He tells Moses to stand back - He'll destroy the Israelites, and just make a people for Himself from Moses. Moses pleads with God, not on the basis of any worthiness in the people, but rather on the basis of His glory, and His covenant. Firstly, His glory - what would the Egyptians think of a God who redeemed His people only to kill them in the wilderness? Secondly, His covenant - God cannot go back on His word to their ancestors.

So God says ok, I won't destroy them. I'll give them the land I've promised them. BUT I won't be there with them. (In this bit you get the dreadful reference to God blotting people out of His book, 32v33, reminding us there's more than just temporal things at stake here). The Israelites at last seem to get it. They mourn. God has promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, but if He isn't with them, they won't be satisfied (33v15,16). Which really struck me - do I long for God more than material comfort? Does the thought of Him removing His presence terrify me?

So God promises to go with them. And they respond by abeying everything He has commanded with regards to the building of the tabernacle - in ch39,40 there are loads of references to the people and Moses doing all that God commanded. And when they do that, God comes and dwells amongst them, in the tabernacle. They make a house that is fit for the King. Now under the new covenant, God dwells in me. Am I fit for the King to dwell in me? Do I pursue holiness in my life, to bring Him glory?

I've loved studying Genesis and Exodus over the past few months, seeing how God sets a people apart from Himself, not because they are worthy, but because He seeks to show Himself as glorious to the whole world, and to show grace and mercy to these people. And when He redeems this people, He calls them to live lives worthy of the One who redeemed them, and continues to provide for their every need. God hasn't changed, He still saves people according to His grace, and for His glory. He still calls us (me!) to a holy life, to show the world how great our God is. What a massive challenge!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Observations on waiting rooms....

I spend quite a bit of time in waiting rooms, and I've noticed a few things...

The music is generally inappropriate (eg. in the GP surgery, "There may be trouble ahead" was playing one time - I mean please, that's not gonna help anyone! Another time they were playing "dead in the water" by David Gray. Again, hardly helpful.)

The magazines are at least four years old, and yet are in remarkably good condition.

When old ladies who know each other meet in the waiting room, they have the same conversation - "Oh, hello love, how are you?" "I'm good thanks, you?" "Yeah I'm well". What??? If you're in the waiting room, then you shouldn't be well! If you are well, stop wasting the doc's time!

In the waiting room for the psychiatrist, they have magazines like Ok! with pictures of stunning, skinny women - please guys, your patients are largely neurotic and insecure about their self-image - don't leave that around for them!

In the dentists', they have a poster advertising organ donation. Is my dentist really that lethal??

Kids are the only people who make eye contact with you in the waiting room. Everyone else keeps themselves to themselves, in case
a) in the GP surgery, you have something contagious,
b) in the psychiatric unit, you are a psycho and will kill them.

Receptionists are generally (not always, but generally) confused. This manifests itself in inability to book appointments, to work out who sees which doctor next, etc.

Old people have no shame. They will happily talk loudly to the receptionist all about what's wrong with them.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The gift of older, wiser Christians

This afternoon I had the real privelege of meeting up with Colin and Glenys Jones. He was the pastor in my parents' church during their courtship, he married them, and pastored them for the first few years of marriage and when me and my sis were small. It was so good to meet up with them, twenty years after, and to share how God has been so good to us. They can testify to God's faithfulness in their lives, and so can I. And it's just brilliant spending time with older, wiser Christians, to learn from them, and be encouraged by them.

God is so good, giving us older Christians who can teach us and help us. I was reading in Exodus 18, when Moses's father in law Jethro comes to see him. He looks at Moses's situation, and as an outsider, and an older man, is able to give Moses really good advice. Praise God for the wisdom that comes with experience and time, and can be of so much benefit to us young'uns!