Yesterday Stokes made the comment that lately he's been inundated with telemarketers and phone solicitations. I mentioned that while I endured a flood of such calls a few weeks ago, recently things had died down. Of course, as you would predict, before the day ended I received such a call and was sufficiently tricked into answering.

You must give these telemarketers credit - they've designed computer programs to bypass "do not call registers" and our basic common sense. When we do slip up and answer, the voice on the other end sounds very "live" and interactive ... nothing like what we'd expect a robo call to sound like. I've learned to not answer when a call pops up from Del Rio, TX or Patriot, OH or Bainbridge Island, WA or even just the USA ... but when a 640 prefix number appears I'm probably going to answer it if I'm available to talk at that time. The enemy has now penetrated our own phone system and is originating these calls in our own back yard!

Yes, I realize that technology can make it look like the call comes from our area when, in fact, the call actually comes from somewhere like Salina, UT ... but that's part of their strategy. Their goal is to just get me to answer by whatever means necessary. This, too, is the strategy of our enemy the devil. He has the technology designed to make me believe whatever he throws at me is good, safe, local, trustworthy, and reputable. He knows better than to call me from Hell's Headquarters or Satan's Simple Slide into Sin Service ... he'll reach out to me from the most innocent sounded sources available. Often his strategy is to make me think the voice of my own conscience is actually the voice of God.  We must stay alert to the enemy's subtle strategies and attacks. Let's remember the exhortations of God's Word:

  • James 4:7-8 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kids of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

The enemy is real and he wants to distract us, make us miserable, hinder us from obeying God, render us useless for the Kingdom, steal our joy, and tempt us to fall into various sins. But remember the cross where this enemy was defeated ... the weakness of Jesus conquering forever the strength of Satan. Remember the resurrection where Jesus rose victorious over the grave, death, sin, and the curse. Remember the Gospel and go proclaim it to those living in darkness and deception, still on the phone with the enemy.

And one more thing, remember 1 Thessalonians 5:17 - "pray without ceasing."  Perhaps if we stayed on the phone with our Father we wouldn't be so tempted to answer any and every other call that comes our way.

Visit to the Dermatologist

A couple of weeks ago I endured my annual physical exam ... was told I'm overweight (didn't need a Dr. for that diagnosis), blood pressure was okay but need to keep an eye on it, all the poking and prodding revealed no problems, and the blood work was fairly normal.  Today was my annual visit with the Dermatologist. The exam isn't nearly as invasive but it does cover the largest organ in my body ... my skin. So it is rather important.

People gather with me in that waiting room for various reasons. Some were there for cosmetic reasons - botox injections, skin tightening, dark spots, etc. Others for medical reasons such as acne, psoriasis, rashes, warts, etc. And still others are there because of skin cancer concerns. 

I had never seen a dermatologist until a couple of years ago ... didn't really see or feel the need for it. But when, during an annual physical, my Doctor said I have some pre-cancerous looking spots I realized it was time. I guess I could have ignored the spots since they weren't really bothering me or causing discomfort. Perhaps I could have decided to manage these spots by myself.  But wisdom dictated that I get them treated and removed before they developed into something much more severe. Sure enough, when I did visit the dermatologist that first time she said the spots were indeed pre-cancerous and needed to be dealt with.  She also said that more spots would appear over time and that I must give constant attention to my skin. 

All this in some ways makes me think of church - why are people there? what motivates them to come? Let's be honest, not just about other people but about ourselves. We often involve ourselves in the life of the church for cosmetic reasons - we feel like we look better, others will think more highly of us, it makes us happy, we get a good feeling, it eases our conscience, it energizes us for the week, maybe it helps us see some spots in our lives we need to better manage, etc. But our Great Physician has diagnosed us with a much more severe problem = sin. This sin is extensive and pervasive, we're not able to manage it, if not dealt with it will result in death (physical and spiritual), and it keeps reoccurring and must be dealt with constantly.  

There are various ways to treat skin cancer - surgery, excision, laser, radiation, freezing, etc. Today, as expected, Dr. Appell brought out the liquid nitrogen and froze off a few spots. I'll likely be going back for some additional treatment in the next few weeks - pending approval from insurance. But there's really only one treatment for sin - the cross, the substitutionary atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As we consider our motive for church involvement, let's be sure it's not just for cosmetic reasons, let's not try to manage sin on our own (with a little help from Jesus and our friends). Rather we must recognize our sin problem and run together to the healing power of the blood of Jesus Christ ... and not just to apply it to a few spots, but to bathe ourselves in it completely.

The Mind of a Murderer

Like many of you I woke up Monday morning to the news of the horrific shooting out in Las Vegas.  The recent numbers are 59 people killed and 527 more injured from this violent act. Those figures are rather staggering ... yet at the same time I'm somewhat amazed that more lives weren't lost.  Many of us have listened to the various stories coming out of this ... stories of incredible sorrow and loss as well as those of heroism. We've shed tears and prayed for those families whose lives will never be the same.  We've likely become frustrated with those on both ends of the spectrum who wish to politicize this tragedy for their own agendas. We've wondered what we would do if we were ever in such a situation. We've reflected on the fragility and transitory nature of human life. And hopefully somewhere in this mix, we've looked to our God who meets us in weakness, pain, and sorrow.

One of the things I've personally been pondering is what would move this man, Stephen Paddock, to commit such an atrocity. Why would he do such a thing? What was he thinking? What happened to push him to this point? What was going on in his mind?  I've read some of the information about him - a rather reclusive 64 year old accountant with no criminal record, a licensed pilot with a history of some high stakes gambling, not involved in any significant political or religious activity, and whose father was a notorious criminal once on the FBI's 10 most wanted list back in the '70's. Perhaps he inherited a "criminal" gene from his dad ... who knows. None of that really explains the mind of such a maniacal and savage murderer.  He just doesn't fit any profile so where does one go to better understand this sort of mind/heart/being?

After thinking about this for a short while I've concluded where I should do more research - my own heart. While I can't fathom actually doing what this man did, I do admit that my sin is just as horrific, violent, and wicked ... only mine is a bit more sophisticated. And though I've never been charged, tried, or convicted of mass murder (or even a single murder) the Holy Spirit convicts me from God's Word that I'm absolutely guilty of such atrocity. Though every culture in human history has condemned the act of physical murder, Jesus came along and raised the bar rather substantially:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment." But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, "You fool!" will be liable to the hell of fire. - Matthew 5:21-22

How many of us (even as professing believers) are content to hate, be angry with, or insult a group of people because of their skin color? ... country of origin? ... political affiliation? ... football team allegiance? ... socioeconomic status? ... morality? ... education? ... etc.  What is this other than mass murder? If we want to figure out how Stephen Paddock operates we must look to our own hearts which God describes as "deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9).  So while I must truly hate the actions of this Las Vegas shooter I must equally learn to hate my own sin and murderous thoughts, motives, and intent toward others.

Now here's the frustrating part - Jeremiah ends this same verse with, "who can understand it?" clearly implying that we're not going to fully comprehend the wickedness of the human heart ... whether our own or that of some convicted criminal. But our hope isn't in just understanding, educating, and regulating the patterns of the sinful heart. Rather our hope is in the glorious truth of the Gospel that God grants us a new heart, and it's from this new heart that repentance, faith, and obedience flows. So what's keeping me from being the next Stephen Paddock?  I'm certainly capable ... I have enough sin and anger and hate to qualify as a mass murderer. But my hope is in the work of God in me, His gracious gift of a new life in Christ, and the working of His Spirit reminding me who I really am. This is why I need the Gospel every day ... this is why we need to remind each other every day of this Gospel ... this is why those who don't know Christ need to hear this Gospel.

Football, Flags, and Faith

It seems this issue with NFL players kneeling during the national anthem has stirred up some strong passions on both sides of the issue. Just a heads up ... if you're wanting me to clear up the issue for you or simply gives you ammo to affirm what you already believe, just stop reading now, go to the pantry and grab a bag of cookies, turn on the TV, and enjoy something more productive. However, if you're willing to struggle through it with me then keep reading.

Let me first lay a foundation ... we (Christians) tend to not want to listen to and hear others. Just yesterday I was privileged to attend a one-day workshop with the ministry of Evangelize Today and Allan Dayhoff ... this is who I've been working with the past year in evangelism. The fundamental principle of Evangelize Today is that we must shift from "listening to respond" to "listening to hear." We've been taught that we as Christians are to speak (true) and that we have the truth on our side when we speak (also true) and the quicker we speak all this truth to someone the better (not true at all). Sometimes this actually does more harm than good. Fact is, the non-Christian is still created in God's image and, therefore, is due the respect, worth, and dignity of actually hearing what he/she has to say before we unload all our information, effectively treating him as a project rather than person. Theology is on our side here ... because our unbelieving friend really does bear the image of God, that image will come through as we patiently wait for it. We will surely find, most likely in some sort of common wound or hurt, some way to connect and engage with the unbeliever. Yet we must first actually listen to and hear this person. 

It seems like most anytime someone comes along with ideas or actions that seem foreign to us we are quick to condemn and recite everything we know about the matter. We probably learned this from our parents. How often did our parents take the time to sit down with us for a discussion and we left feeling we'd been "heard"? (I realize some parents did this but most didn't.) And now, how often do we wish to "hear" what our children are saying to us? It's much easier to just let them rant and then respond with whatever we were going to say before they ever even opened their mouth. This same scenario plays out everyday not only at home in marriages and with children but also in the workplace, classroom, church, club, team, etc. We simply don't want to listen to anyone or anything that may challenge our cherished beliefs. Please hear me ... I'm definitely not saying we shouldn't have convictions or that we should cave in every time one of those convictions is challenged. I am saying that as Christians we are obligated to "love" our neighbor. This at least means showing him the respect of "listening to hear" what he's saying rather than demonizing him. How many of us have already had or are willing to have this conversation? Again, I'm not urging anyone to change their convictions about our country, the military, patriotism, respect for the flag, or anything like that. I am asking us to develop the conviction of seeking first God's Kingdom and His rule in our lives.

One other thing to consider ... and I don't think it will be new to you. Often when our emotions get aroused and enraged, we have to explore whether or not an idol is being exposed. Oftentimes this is exactly what's happening ... an idol comes under attack and we become overly sensitive. This idol gives us meaning, purpose, assurance, confidence, and hope and the thought of it being diminished is unsettling. Yes, I know I'm treading on some rather sacred ground when I suggest that the flag and national anthem could be idols but I'm committed to the absolute truth that we have a higher allegiance to God and His Kingdom. (btw, while I never served in the military, my dad and several uncles did during WWII and I typically tear up during the national anthem.)  These same emotions get stirred up when idols of family, children, college football, work, money, hobby, fashion, etc. are exposed. This is just a reminder to not be guided by our emotions, but rather be guided by the Holy Spirit as He illumines our hearts and minds to the Word of God.

From Beauty to Beast

Though I'm not a "nature boy" or wildlife expert by any means I've always been fascinated by animals, both domestic and in the wild. My first dog, Penny, a Springer Spaniel, was a beloved friend. Over the years I enjoyed other dogs and cats as pets. As a child I remember enjoying watching the many varied birds fly around in our back yard, eating from the feeders, and bathing in our bird bath ... and squirrels playfully scurried around brought great entertainment to my watching eyes. As I grew older I encountered other fascinating critters - raccoons, possums, snakes (yes ... I hated them back then too), ducks, and whatever else was common in north Florida. Occasionally we would spot something exotic like a deer or turkey out in a field or some geese flying overhead. One of the highlights of my childhood was going to Lion Country Safari in south Florida - lions, zebras, giraffes (one of whom tried to eat the luggage on top of our car), monkeys, rhinoceros, etc. all in one place. To this day I love watching Jack Hanna!

Ok, so deer and turkeys and geese aren't so exotic anymore but it's still pretty cool to see deer or turkeys.  Geese, on the other hand ... I now hate them! They have to be among the most annoying creatures in the entire animal kingdom. They're rude, aggressive, loud, gross critters that are trying to take over civilization. And they're not afraid of us ... they just laugh at our attempts to run them off. A few years ago I thought it was sort of cute when a couple of geese would land in our neighborhood ... now they come in by the dozens, honking their way into my yard, leaving a trail of poop everywhere. They are a certified nuisance.

As we've been studying Leviticus, have you wondered why God seems so serious about sin, imperfection, impurity? Why won't a lame or imperfect animal suffice for the offering? So what if there's a bit of leaven or honey in the grain offering? Is it the end of the world if some of the fatty meat ends up in tonight's stew? Why make such a fuss if I inadvertently brushed against a dead mouse with my foot? Is it really the end of the world if I put off paying for a service rendered because I have some other expenses?

Sin is like geese ... it seems so innocent, even rather cute, when it's small and seemingly manageable. But consider two things: First, when seen in the light of God's stunning holiness, no sin is innocent, cute, or manageable. Second, sin never stays small. One day you think everything is okay and the next you wake up to loud sounds of honking and poop everywhere. And when you try to run off this sin in your own strength, it just laughs at you and continues to grow in number and strength. Only Jesus Christ is sufficient and capable to deal with the sin and impurity in our lives. 

I (we) need to get serious about identifying and dealing with sin ... not hypothetical or theoretical sin, but actual sin. I need to get serious about clinging to the cross of Jesus Christ because that's where sin is dealt a death blow ... I don't defeat sin, but Jesus did and does as I run to Him in faith and trust in the powerful, cleansing, atoning blood He shed for me.

Now, if I could get Jesus to do something about these geese in my yard!

Cat or Dog?

Every morning as I walk out the back door of my house, I'm greeted by my two cats - Tobias and Sagwa. This brother (Tobias) and sister (Sagwa) are really good cats but, as cats tend to be, very demanding! Tobias protests as if he hasn't been fed in weeks and won't relent until the food appears in the bowl. He then attacks it like a lion on a wildebeest. Sagwa doesn't seem quite as hungry for food ... perhaps because she's not as lazy and will occasionally catch her own snack ... mouse, bird, chipmunk, mole, etc.  However, Sagwa is simply starving for attention and affection. So in order to pacify her I have to either reach down and give her a good rub or pick her up and cradle her in my arms like a baby. Only then is she content to leave me alone. If ignored, they both have the uncanny ability to walk right in front of me at a half-step slower pace while incessantly meowing, reminding me of my failure as a cat care-taker. 

Though we've had several over the years, we don't have a dog right now at the Boykin home. While I truly do love both, you have to admit the personalities of dogs and cats are entirely different. Perhaps this old joke best summarizes the differences:

A dog says, "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me ... you must be God." A cat says, "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me ... I must be God."

Cats truly believe you exist to serve them while dogs believe they exist to serve you. This brings up an interesting question as we think about our relationship with God. Do we relate to God as a cat or dog? Consider the various differences in how we approach certain things:

  • cats pray fundamentally for their needs to be met - dogs pray for God's glory to be known
  • cats worship God for what's He's done - dogs worship God for who He is
  • cats want to feel good - dogs want to obey
  • cats submit when it fits their agenda - dogs submit because Jesus is Lord
  • cats want the privileges of being a Christian - dogs accept the responsibility
  • cats are attentive to their own comfort - dogs are attentive to their master
  • cats are concerned with self-esteem so can't recognize sin - dogs are concerned with holiness and repent of sin
  • cats want to be entertained in church - dogs hunger to know God
  • cats are content to be fed - dogs desire to serve their master and feed others
  • cats are swayed by comfortable trends - dogs are committed to absolute standards
  • cats view each day as an opportunity to be cared for - dogs view each day as an opportunity to care for others
  • cats want their children to bring them glory - dogs want their children to bring God glory

I'm pretty familiar with the previous list ... the reason is because I'm pretty much a cat! I want to be a dog, but I typically behave like a cat. I know God loves me, cares for me, provides for me, defends me, etc - so I tend to believe I'm god!

If you're a fellow cat-like-Christian and need to join me in repentance, now's the time. Let's ask Him to forgive us on the merit of Christ's sacrifice and work His grace in us and transform us into dogs for His glory!

Building the Church

Every day I get to drive past a new house under construction on Robbie Dr. here in Moody. It started with the clearing of some trees, then moving some dirt around, followed by digging and pouring the footings, then concrete block was laid, and now they are in the midst of framing the house. I've always been fascinated by the construction process: watching something pop up where there was nothing, observing how initial small details really matter, seeing all the various aspects of the building process come together, observing how various workers and craftsmen coordinate their efforts toward a common purpose. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about it is that all of it is the fulfillment of the architect's design.

I find an even greater joy and amazement at how the Lord builds His church. He's the architect and has a design for what He is building. Often His church pops up in places of utter darkness where it hasn't been before. He is concerned about and involved in every single detail of how His church is being built. He has gifted various workers to be involved in the building process. His Holy Spirit enables His workers to be coordinated in their efforts. He is building His church in His way and in His time and using us to do that amazing work.

I'm especially amazed at how He has constructed Community Presbyterian Church. From the very beginning He had a special and unique design prepared for us. Early on He took care of some seemingly minute and insignificant details that were necessary for the building of this church. Throughout the years He has used some incredible craftsmen to be involved in the construction process (here are just a few no longer at CPC - Craig Childs, Mike/Mary Johnson, Carol Downey, Mike Russell, Toni Hill, Jim/Lois Rich, Chuck Eady, Tom May, Steve Morgan, Quinn Hill; these and others in addition to the many skilled craftsmen who are presently involved at CPC.) And somehow, in God's amazing grace and power, all these workers have been coordinated in their efforts toward a common purpose ... to see God glorified and enjoyed!

But here's the thing that is sometimes frustrating ... it's His house and He gets to decide how everything is going to be.  At the Boykin home we just spent 3 months trying to decide what shade of white to paint our kitchen cabinets. But in God's house, the church, He gets to pick the design, the colors, where things are placed, who does what work, what it's going to look like, etc. But yet here's the comforting truth - just as I'm not knowledgeable enough or adequately equipped to design and build a physical facility, neither am I equipped to be in charge of building God's church. Sure, I'm one of the skilled workers, and so are you, so let's work together in submission to God, the architect and designer, to see His church grow and be strengthened in His grace.  And take some time to step back, look at the bigger picture, and be amazed at how God is at work.

Devastation in Texas

I'm sure that you, like me, have been and continue to be saddened by the horrific and disastrous flooding out in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey. It's simply staggering how much rain has fallen in the coastal areas and even inland up into Houston. Obviously those who endured Katrina in New Orleans can relate to this tragedy but few are able to say they've experienced anything the magnitude of what's happening right now in Texas. We've all seen varying degrees of flooding but this is almost beyond comprehension. The pictures we see on the news and social media help us gain a bit of perspective but still, it's hard to wrap your mind around the extent of the devastation. At least 30 people have already lost their lives from this storm. Homes, farms, businesses, and possessions are literally being washed away. Consider some other numbers provided by CNN regarding the impact of this storm:

  • it's expected that Harvey will dump 25 trillion gallons of water over the state
  • 13 million people are under flood watch or warnings
  • 3400 people rescued just in Houston alone
  • 450,000 are expected to ask FEMA for assistance

Most of us have probably felt moved in some way to extend help to those in need. You can visit the PCA's MNA website  and find good ways to either contribute, provide supplies and equipment, or even go and physically help. On September 9 we have the opportunity to go into B'ham and help Red Mountain PCA assemble flood buckets to be delivered to the Texas area (for more info on this contact the church office). Hopefully many of us will participate in one or more of these ways as well as continuing to pray for the multitudes who are suffering.

Not in any way to downplay the disaster in Texas, but the devastating fate of those who don't know Christ should also move us to action. When Jesus saw the crowds in Matthew 9 "he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'"

Consider the staggering numbers of those who don't know Jesus Christ and are condemned to eternal destruction apart from saving knowledge of Him. The estimated population of earth is around 7-8 billion people and only about 30% profess to be Christian (keep in mind this includes many groups other than evangelicals so the true number of Christians is much, much less). Even in our own cities, communities, and neighborhoods we are seeing increasing numbers of those who don't profess Jesus Christ as Savior.

Might God be calling you to have compassion on the lost? (easy answer - yes)  Might He be calling you to pray for more laborers in the harvest field? (again, easy answer - yes)  Might He be calling you to go into some sort of mission work, perhaps even cross-cultural or in a foreign land? (can't answer that one for you, but I'd encourage you to pray about it)  Might He be calling you to engage with a neighbor, friend, family member, co-worker, classmate, etc. for the sake of proclaiming Christ in both word and deed? (back to the easy answer - YES)

Let's be a church family, committed to God's glory, that responds to the needs of people - whether it be relief from flooding or salvation from eternal damnation. Let the Holy Spirit move us to action in both of these ways today.

Was There a Solar Eclipse?

It's the same with most any really big event ... the build up and anticipation of it outweighs the actual event itself which passes so, so quickly.  Keep in mind, I'm writing from the perspective of someone who didn't travel north to be in the path of totality. Rather I chose, as did most of us, to stay here and witness this heavenly phenomena in it's 93% version.  We made our viewing boxes, went outside, saw the crescent shaped shadows everywhere, watched the sun get mostly covered and uncovered by the moon, and then returned to the normal work of the day.

While it was a fascinating and eerie experience I sort of have to agree with a number of others I talked to about being a bit disappointed.  Perhaps the build up was so big that my expectations were too high. But I wanted it to get a lot darker than it did.  I know, it wasn't a total eclipse here in Moody and those who did travel and saw the full eclipse may have an entirely different story to tell, but still, I was hoping for something greater!

But in the midst of this experience the Lord really impressed three things on me. The first is that disappointment is okay; it's just a reminder that there really is something greater and my heart longs for it. We all long for something more ... something greater ... something more satisfying. However, this side of heaven we're going to be disappointed more often than not. Relationships, job, church, family, etc. is never going to measure up to what we want it to.  Yet God tell us to embrace that feeling and let it point you to eternal things in Christ that never disappoint.

Secondly, I was reminded that light always overpowers darkness. You'd think that when 93% of the sun is covered it would get really dark. Yet even that very small percentage of the sun that was showing was more than sufficient to drive away the darkness.  As we carry forth the light of the Gospel into this dark world, God's purposes will be accomplished. Sure, it may not look exactly like we think it should, but the light overcomes the dark. There is always hope when the Gospel is proclaimed and believed. So whatever dark situation some of us (or family members) may be facing, let's rest in the knowledge that the light of the Gospel is going to do its work.

And thirdly, how big, holy, awesome, and powerful God must be! Here's a quote I came across from Luke Walker: "The sun will burn your eyes out from a distance of 92 million miles and do you expect to casually stroll into the presence of its Maker?"  We really do tend to minimize His holiness and this is seen by how we seek to relate to Him. Do we quickly, fully, and brutally repent of our sin? Do we aggressively run to the cross of Christ? Do we spend any time preparing for worship? Do we actively seek to spend time with Him on a daily basis? Or do we (like Walker suggests) "expect to casually stroll" into His presence if and when we think of it and in whatever manner we please? Even after just one week in Leviticus we've hopefully seen that God is holy, that He truly cares how we worship Him, and that serious preparation must be made on our part.

Anyway, the eclipse has come and gone. Apparently the USA gets another one on April 8, 2024. Go ahead and make plans to travel to Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, or another state in the path of totality!

Leviticus ... Here We Go!

I continue to say that this study of Leviticus may be the dumbest thing I've ever done!  This Sunday I'm going to share a story of how Leviticus almost cost me my ordination ... but I'm saving that for Sunday ... hope you're there to hear about it. But here's the problem with a sermon series through Leviticus - there's just too much good stuff in there to adequately cover and do real justice to it. However, we're gonna give it a shot and see what the Lord does over these next few months. If you haven't started reading Leviticus yet, that's okay.  Actually, let me encourage you to read through Genesis and Exodus which really provide a context for our study. And then read through Leviticus!

Leviticus answers a very basic and important question for us - "How can sinful man live in the presence of a holy God?" While we've probably been conditioned to view this book as rather burdensome and hard the Israelites viewed it as a blessing because it answered this question for them.  Sure, there are lots and lots of rules, laws, rituals, etc. throughout the book but they are all given to help God's people better know their King as well as return to the original purpose for which they were called and set apart. I trust this same thing will happen among us as we go through Leviticus.

Here are some themes we're going to see throughout this book: God is holy, eternal and living, personal, powerful, righteous, sovereign, gracious, jealous; God's people are set apart as a holy nation and kingdom of priests, bear His image, are to live in community, and must have their sin atoned for through a perfect sacrifice, and live in faith according to the covenant God made with them. Pretty interesting huh ... all this sounds very new testamentish of sorts doesn't it?!?! I'm confident we're going to see Jesus all through Leviticus.

We'll be going through the book in fairly large chunks. For instance, this Sunday we'll cover the entire first chapter. That may not happen every week but it certainly won't be unusual. With that in mind, I do ask you to invest time in reading these sections each week and prayerfully asking God to instruct your heart in the Gospel. As I mentioned this past Sunday at the conclusion of our Galatians series, I want us to leave each service utterly stunned and in awe of what God has done for us in Christ rather than just wondering what we're now supposed to do as good Christians. This will be the work of God's Spirit so I beg you to pray ... pray for God to give you discernment to see Jesus but also pray for me as I prepare and deliver these messages. The big challenge in preaching through something like Leviticus is definitely not struggling to find enough material to preach each week; there's more than enough for a 3 hour weekly sermon. Rather it is trying to wisely discern what not to say so we won't be there all day.

Anyway, I look forward to this study and I trust you are to. May God grant us all eyes to see more clearly and hearts to believe the amazing love, grace, and work of our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. I really hope to see you this Sunday. And invite a friend to come along in order to be exposed to God’s Word and God’s people.