I haven’t been writing a lot lately. In fact, for the last several months I’ve been struggling with the inability to concentrate, fatigue, aches and pains, and weakness in my extremities. It seems I can no longer eat properly. Even simple tasks like taking a shower or going to the bathroom have become difficult. 

I finally saw a doctor. After several tests, she told me I have an affliction that affects almost 750 ooo Canadians each year! Sadly, no research is being invested in a solution because it’s incurable. 

It’s called grandbabies. 

One Hour

This weekend in North America, we travel backwards in time one hour. In the olden days, this was a big deal because we had to manually adjust clocks around our home and work. There was always that one clock at school that never changed so we had to wait for spring when it would be the correct time again. (Not to be confused with the clock that seemed to slow down during last period.) Today with most clocks computer controlled so it all happens magically.

If you could actually go back in time one hour at any point in the past, what would you do?

The Momentous Lamb

Some people make a big fuss about when Jesus was born. The thing is, we are 99% sure that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. The evidence suggests he was born in September-October probably at the Feast of Tabernacles; the time when the Jewish people would remember when God made his dwelling with them in the wilderness. Ultimately, the Bible tells us the year but it is silent about the exact day and I suspect it’s because we’re not supposed to make an idol out of a day.
I would like to suggest that more important than when he was born is WHERE he was born.  Do you know where he was born? In Bethlehem. Why there? What’s the big deal?

Do you recall the story about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son? It was a lesson for Abraham about who God really is. Abraham was faithful, he trusted God, and he prepared the sacrifice but at the last moment he was stopped. Then a miracle happened. Close by in a bush was a male sheep – a sacrificial lamb was provided in the place of Abraham’s son! Now that’s where that story usually ends in the Bible but I’m told that in the Quran, it states that there would be another sacrifice beyond Abraham’s son, beyond the lamb provided on that mountain, and it would be a momentous sacrifice; a more excellent, better, sacrifice.
Where would that sacrifice come from? What or who would that sacrifice be? As the story unfolds through time we get more insight about this sacrifice. The prophet Isaiah revealed this momentous sacrifice to be a suffering servant. He wrote:

“He will be led like a lamb to the slaughter.  And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he won’t open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he will be led away. No one will care that he dies without descendants, that his life will be cut short in midstream. But he will be struck down for our brokenness, suffering, and pain so he can heal all of us.”

And that brings me back to Bethlehem. Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Why were events arranged to get his parents to that town at that time? Why not just stay home where it was warm and safe?

Because Bethlehem was where the sacrificial lambs came from.

And who were the first to hear the Good News? Who were the first to witness this new baby born in a manger? Shepherds – those that cared for the lambs. And when the time came for Jesus to begin his mission, the prophet John the Baptist saw him and told everyone – “Behold! Look! Understand! There is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world.”  The momentous lamb had arrived!

Never Let Go

I confess I like Radio Babylon’s “Coffee with Jesus” comic strip. They have some good points and they get me thinking. This one takes on an event in the eighth chapter of John’s Good News letter about Jesus.

Coffee with Jesus

The leaders of the community want to set a trap for Jesus so they manage to catch a woman in the very act of adultery. The whole thing stinks of deception, manipulation, and hypocrisy. Fortunately, Jesus turns the tables on these evil people and saves the woman from certain death. Their conversation concludes:

“Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.””   John 8:10-11 NLT.

This got me thinking about how we often approach this beautiful passage in John 8. Whenever it comes up in a discussion, there’s always one person who really wants to stress “Go and sin no more.”

But what a minute. Let’s put ourselves in the woman’s shoes. It’s very likely that this woman is the same one who would later take every penny she had to buy ointment that she would use to wash Jesus’ feet. That means it’s very likely she’s Mary, sister of Lazarus and niece of Simon the Pharisee. How did she find herself being accused of adultery and being threatened with death? Evidence suggests that her uncle Simon, led Mary into it and may have even led her to a life of prostitution. That would not have been a life with very many options. Today we know that most prostitutes are not choosing that life because they are licentious, sin-loving, women enjoying the profits of their sin. More often they are in that life through a series of abuses in a society that chews women up and spits them out.

So the one way to look at this is Jesus saves her from being murdered and then says, “Stop being such a screw up.” My initial thought is, that doesn’t make me want to take every penny, buy ointment, and then fall at Jesus’ feet as I weep in gratitude.

But what if we see that sin is much more than the bad things we do? Ultimately sin is being separated from God; alienated, unreconciled, broken. What if we brought this deeper, broader, understanding into this passage?

Jesus saves her from being murdered and then says to this woman who has been abused, manipulated, and then left for dead, “I will never condemn you; never let go of me.” Would that make your heart sing?


This is my last post in my short series on God’s sanctuary. It all began here.

I wanted to share with you that God directed the making of the sanctuary so that he could dwell with his people. That is his eternal desire. The message of the sanctuary was that God was demonstrating his love to us in that while we were sinners, Jesus Christ died to save us. Why did he do such a thing? So that we would dwell with him as he wants to dwell with us.

But then I shifted focus to the judgment. I’ve heard the judgment described in various ways, many of which make God look terrible and run contrary to the purpose and message of the sanctuary. Usually, the Son of God is having to convince God the Father to forgive, accept, and receive us.

In contrast, I suggested that the scenario I see in scripture reveals a God who stands between you and the Accuser, the hater of love and life, and not only defending you but claiming you as his child. Does that sound crazy?  Well, I got it from the Bible. Does it have anything to do with the sanctuary? Yes!

Let me set the mood with Psalm 109: 26-31
Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy, That they may know that this is Your hand—That You, Lord, have done it! Let them curse, but You bless; When they arise, let them be ashamed, But let Your servant rejoice. Let my accusers be clothed with shame, And let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle. I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; Yes, I will praise Him among the multitude. For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, To save him from those who condemn him.

And now consider Zechariah 3. Here we find a high priest, standing before God, and he is being accused by Satan. God will have none of it and he shuts Satan down. Verse 2 says, “The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?””

Pretty cool, right? Here’s the thing, this short passage is talking about the high priest in the most holy place of the sanctuary on the day of atonement – judgment day! What’s really amazing is the high priest is wearing filthy garments (actually covered in excrement). This is despite all the cleansing and care he would have taken to stand in rightness before the LORD. And yet, it’s clear that it’s nothing the high priest did or said that commended him but it’s because of Christ Jesus who is promised in verse 9. The changing of his garments indicate he has been made right, he is accepted, God wants to dwell with him. And, in the end, we can see that this is our story, too

Behold what manner of love is this?!?

Your Advocate Part 2

I’ve been sharing a short series on God’s sanctuary, his beautifully complex theatre of grace. Last week, I wanted to get you thinking about our need for an advocate. How does our need for an advocate connect to the sanctuary?

In the sanctuary, there is an aspect of judgment that becomes most evident during the time of Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement. I don’t have time to do into detail right now but the Bible is clear we are currently in the time of judgment on the eve of Jesus Second Coming; it’s even at the door!  The Bible says his return is certain and when he returns he will have his reward with him. These promises indicated that a judgment will take place on who will be coming home with Jesus and who will not. 

The problem is when we talk about God’s judgment I’ve heard a couple scenarios. Some of these pictures of God that we pick up are dangerous. As CS Lewis once wrote: “Not that I am in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like.” A Grief Observed

Most of the time, judgment is talked about in courtroom language. Let me attempt to diagram with words the judgment scenarios I have heard people talk about:

Scenario #1

Heavenly beings (Jury)

You (guilty party)  –>   Jesus (your advocate) —>   Father (judge)

Like a good advocate, Jesus is pleading with your Father for you. His role is to convince God and the heavenly beings to accept you.  The problem with this scenario is it puts the son against your Father when they are both in the saving business. God (all three members of the trinity) delights in you; he wants you to be in his home. Jesus did not die to change your Father’s mind about you.

Scenario #2 – slight variation of Scenario #1

Heavenly beings (Jury)

You (guilty party)  –>   Jesus (your advocate) —>   Father (judge)

                           Satan (prosecuting attorney)

This is a slight variation on Scenario #1.  Satan is in the mix and he is arguing the case against you. Jesus is still pleading for you as your advocate. Unfortunately, the goal is still to get your heavenly farther to accept you.  

Scenario #3

Heavenly beings (Jury)

You (guilty party)  <—  God  —>    <—— Satan (accuser)

This is the scenario I see in scripture. You are saved by grace. God has done for you what you could not and cannot do for yourself. God desires you in his home; he even has a celebration banquet planned for your arrival. Satan is furious that God would let you into heaven so he goes on the attack. Satan accuses you, points out all your sins and wrongdoings; he says you shouldn’t go to heaven, don’t deserve to go, wouldn’t be safe if you were there. What does God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – do?

Jesus your Advocate, Your Father in heaven, your comforter the Holy Spirit stand up for you; they stand between you and Satan, rebuke him, and claim you as their child!

Can you have faith in a God like that?