Even the blood of wild animals

“Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth” (Leviticus 17:13).

Many years ago I took a course on meat preparation and was introduced to “Kosher” meats. That is the term used of meats approved for eating by Orthodox Judaism. At that time at least the processing of Kosher meat not only meant to select only “clean” animals as sources of food, but also the complete removal of all blood from the carcass. As I recall the lessons, Orthodox Jews only ate beef or mutton that had been de-veined. Simply bleeding the carcass out was not sufficient – the veins themselves had to be removed. Since the hind quarters of a cow (steer) could not be feasibly de-veined, those who required Kosher meat could only eat the front quarters (shoulders). Think of all the wasted T-bone steaks! Continue reading “Even the blood of wild animals”

Drink indeed: What it means to drink Christ’s blood

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him’” (John 6:53-56 NKJV).

In all of the paradoxes that constitute Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation which he delivered to mankind there may be nothing so startling and difficult to comprehend than his statements about drinking his blood. Those of us who were never under the Law of Moses and were not raised to avoid even the taste of blood under any circumstances may not have the innate aversion to the very idea that devout Jews have long considered an essential aspect of their identity. Continue reading “Drink indeed: What it means to drink Christ’s blood”

Convinced of God’s power and love

The weather here in northern Alabama this past week or so has reminded me of that old saying, “Be careful what you pray for; you just might get it.” After an unusually wet spring and early summer, we had been in a dry spell for three or four weeks and were beginning to hurt for rain.

Then tropical storm Marko and hurricane Laura showed up bringing deluges over a wide area, including us. Now we continue to have fronts coming through with frequent local showers. For all of these we are very grateful.

When James wrote to encourage Christians to pray he cited Elijah as an example of the power of prayer: Continue reading “Convinced of God’s power and love”

Exalting God together

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:1-3, ESV).

The fundamental motives for evangelism and missionary activity are frequently identified as love for the lost and zeal to spread the good news of salvation. Somewhat less obvious today, but prominent in the New Testament, is the goal of exalting God in an unbelieving world.

Jesus spoke repeatedly about his earthly purpose, which was at least in large part to “glorify God” (John 17:1, 4). He taught his followers to live so that “others … may see your good works and give glory (i.e. praise) to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). One significant result of God’s plan to save mankind from sin was to demonstrate his glory both to all creation and to all the spiritual realm: Continue reading “Exalting God together”

What is it?

“So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat’ . . . And the house of Israel called its name Manna” (Exodus 16:15, 31 NKJV).

As one travels throughout the world there are many occasions when he or she may ask, “What is this?” It may be regarding a food, a drink, a piece of household furniture, a tool, or even a custom or behavior. There are many cultures in this world, each with its own history, traditions, and particular resources. It is not surprising that varying cultures have found different solutions to many of the same needs. One person’s familiar object may be completely strange to someone else. Continue reading “What is it?”

Extreme requirements of those who serve God

“Thus the Lord said to me: ‘Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water’” (Jeremiah 13:1, NKJV).

I am often amazed at how many modern Christians seem to consider their religion to be non-demanding. This is often reflected in the denial that God would require any inconvenience or excessive demands from them. They also assume that God wants them to have a prosperous and enjoyable life, whatever may be required to make that happen.

Whenever I am confronted with such attitudes I almost unfailingly think of the lives of the prophets of Israel as related to us in the Old Testament. Jeremiah, often called “The Weeping Prophet,” is a particular example of God’s extreme requirements of those who would serve him. Continue reading “Extreme requirements of those who serve God”

Wishful thinking?

“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with persistence” (Romans 8:24-25 NKJV).

The apostle Paul listed as three abiding virtues, “faith, hope, love, these three” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Modern skeptics often dismiss one of these, hope, as nothing more than wishful thinking and at best a delusion. One hears the promise of eternal life derogatorily called “pie in the sky by and by.” The emphasis of the world is upon immediate gratification – obtaining what one needs or wants right now without delay.

What exactly is hope, and how is it different from faith? Both place trust in the unseen and expect future fulfillment of promises. Continue reading “Wishful thinking?”

Give thanks

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psalm 107:1-2 NKJV).

When I first began traveling to Nepal almost 30 years ago I was told that, until recently, there had been no word for thank you in their language. After exposure to western vacationers following the opening of the country in the 1950s, someone coined the word dhanobhad to translate the English term “Thank you.”

Words express ideas or concepts and denote objects and actions familiar to those who speak a given language. If a society uses something, they generally have a word for it. Continue reading “Give thanks”

Why so many gods?

“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23 NKJV).

Travelers to Kathmandu typically visit the expansive Hindu and Buddhist enclaves where they view hundreds, if not thousands, of images, temples, stupas and other shrines and icons of those polytheistic religions. Many westerners accustomed to faith in one God wonder why anyone would be attracted to an immense pantheon of lesser deities. Surely monotheism is a superior and more desirable faith, since it honors one Almighty, All-wise, Ever-present Being. Continue reading “Why so many gods?”

To God be the glory

“Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27 NKJV).

Paul’s letter to Roman Christians is widely recognized as the most complete explanation of the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ found in any single New Testament document. It begins with an assertion that there is one true God who is manifest through his creation (Romans 1:19-21). It ends with a beautiful doxology (an attribution of honor or glory to God) to “God, alone wise.” Continue reading “To God be the glory”