a thought on Leviticus 19:19

You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material. Leviticus 19:19

Leviticus is the book of the Bible that seems to be the favorite target of those that would seek to discredit the revealed word of God. For some reason, this passage seems to be one that’s pointed to as one of the more absurd in the midst of a long list of laws that were given for the people of Israel.

But as I have been working my way through the Bible this year, I’ve found that it is far from disjointed and self-contradictory. Despite the myriad human authors and the time that the Book spans, it is remarkably cohesive. This has been especially evident thanks to the reading plan that I am using, the 5 Day Plan. It’s structured in such a way that you see Old and New Testaments working together to present the truth to you in a way that both makes sense and leads you to worship.

Reading of the institution of the Aaronic priesthood while also reading in Hebrews of Jesus’ function as our great high priest with a Psalm in the middle is awe-inspiring.

So when I see a passage like the one quoted above, I do not see a weird law telling the Israelites that they can’t wear a cotton-poly blend robe, but that they are to follow the one, true God alone. That they, we, have been set apart for holiness because our God is holy. That kind of holiness means that there is nothing that can be allowed to defile His people. It’s why the sacrificial system was put in place. It is why Aaron and his sons had to wash before donning the priestly garments (only to be covered with oil and blood soon after).

What seems like a ridiculous decree is actually a call to purity and faithfulness to the God that brought them out of Egypt.

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the church’s responsibility now that we have our president-elect

It’s been an apocalyptically disappointing election. In January, a man who shows no fruits of the Spirit yet claims Christ as something (definitely not his savior because he said he doesn’t need saving) will be inaugurated as the President of the USA. He was helped along in no small part by people that also claim Christ, yet find it possible to excuse the gross misconduct in every facet of life that has been displayed by Donald Trump.

So what do we do now? We thank God that His will has been done. We don’t understand it right now and we may not until the very end, but what transpired yesterday was foreordained by the Triune God in eternity past.

When Donald Trump is made president, we as Christians need to do three things, no matter how annoying they may be.

we need to pray

We are told in Scripture to pray for those in power. They were placed there by God and that means that whatever they do while in power will ultimately be used for His purposes. It doesn’t matter if we disagree with them or if we are angry about them. We have to pray for our leaders. We weren’t given an out on this one. For everyone’s sake, we need to pray that he is a successful president.

use respect when we talk about the president

Our time to call these candidates names has come to an end. Donald Trump will need to be referred to as either President Trump or Mr. President or even simply by his last name. There are a lot of things I would like to call him, but now those will be kept silent.

love your neighbor

The people that voted for Trump are not all deplorable people. They are your neighbors, family and friends. They are the people you work with, for and over. They are not your enemy unless they have proclaimed themselves as such.


Now is not the time for continued debate. It’s time to get to work and our work, as Christians, is the spread of the Gospel. Always, always, always make that first.

Photo credit: Michael Vadon. Licensed under Creative Commons

But what about the expiation songs?

If you follow any sort of liturgy for a worship gathering then Advent can either be a relief for planning or difficult. At Redeemer, we use a liturgy that is based off of Isaiah 6 and includes the following elements:

  • Revelation (v. 1–2)
  • Adoration (v. 3–4)
  • Confession (v. 5)
  • Expiation (v. 6–7)
  • Proclamation (v. 8a)
  • Dedication (v. 8b)
  • Commission (v. 9–13)

And for the most part, we are able to choose songs that fit within this structure that match the sermon.

Until Advent…

At Christmastime we tend, rightly and wrongly, to focus on the Incarnation and the birth of Jesus. It’s the start, kinda, of the plan of redemption being put into action. It’s good to remember and find yourself filled with awe at the Word made Flesh but that can’t become the entire focus. Because the purpose of the Incarnation was for Jesus to live a perfect life and die a death He did not deserve before being resurrected.

Which brings me to the problem: There aren’t a lot of Christmas hymns about expiation. As far as Redeemer’s worship leaders and elders are able to discern, there’s pretty much What Child Is This and that’s it. We have songs of expectantly awaiting the Savior, songs of adoration, songs of dedication and commission, but not really anything about expiation. So I made one of them work.

I’ve done this before, having added a couple of lines to the end of The Gospel Song so that rather than ending with Christ’s death, it ends with the hope of His second coming. My pastor wrote a post about that, if you’re interested.

This time around, I took God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and made it into a 5-verse song. We’ve traditionally sung four verses and this one goes right between the last two verses:

His blood would flow down the spear and stain the cross the same

While blameless, willingly he’ll take upon himself our blame

To make propitiation, saving all he calls by name

We sing songs of expiation to remember what Jesus did in our place and for us. By His life, death and resurrection, He didn’t simply wipe the slate clean and make us pure, the way I was taught to believe. When He died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself, sins that He did not commit. This can’t be boiled down to wiping a chalkboard with a damp rag. While taking upon Himself those sins, He also put His righteousness upon us so that when the Father looks at us, He sees only the work of Christ. By dying the death that He died, He made propitiation meaning He satisfied the Father’s just and holy wrath upon sin.

It’s a lot to try and fit into a song that also acknowledges and celebrates the Jesus came to us at all. But my hope is that I’ve successfully made something that will be helpful and useful for our church and others to include as they sing of the Savior this Advent season.

This is what churches are for

There’s a video in which, during a panel discussion, Stephen Fry[1] goes on about the ills that the church has committed with regard to moralism and slavery and it ends with him asking the question:

Then what are you for?

His tone is harsh and biting. To his mind[2], the Church has outlived its usefulness. When you see things like Westboro or the child abuse scandals in the Catholic church[3], you have to ask yourself the same question. Unless you’re actively involved and engaged in the life of the local church.

There, it’s easy, blindingly so, to see what the Church is for.

Being Broken

The Church is for broken people. I said yesterday that we all, those saved, were once broken mirrors. As we spend time with Jesus as our God and with the church as our family, those cracks begin to heal[4] but we all start out broken.

Celebration

The Church is our family. We are brothers and sisters under God our Father because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the sanctifying, uniting work of the Holy Spirit. With family, you celebrate. Whether it is the birth of a child or the beginning of a new earthly family during a wedding, we share meals and stories and drink. We remember the good times that the Lord has blessed us with and enjoy the simple act of being in one another’s company.

Mourning

Since I got back from the UK in 2011, I have played music for five funerals. I served as a musician today. It is not secret that the world we live in is broken and that until Jesus returns, we will witness and mourn death. This death is a result of sin and while we know we already have eternal life in Christ, we must still wait for the promise of life eternally with Him. This is part of the Kingdom of God being already and not yet here. Just as families celebrate, they also mourn together. When we share our burdens, our pain, our struggles, we are able to carry them easier. There is great comfort in knowing that those that you call family are praying for you and helping you through hard times. It’s one of God’s greatest blessings to us, a blessing that has been in effect since God created man incomplete without a companion.

To say “we were made for each other” is often exclusive to romantic relationships. But it applies to family and friends and the Church as well. God, in His providence, made us to need each other for love and fellowship and celebration and mourning.


  1. Regardless of the fact that he is a very staunchly atheist, anti-Christian, he is a national treasure in the UK and a brilliant writer and actor.  ↩
  2. And that of Dawkins, Hitchens, Adams, Cox, Minchin, Savage…  ↩
  3. I’m including them in this post because even though I am staunchly Protestant, they are part of Christendom writ-large.  ↩
  4. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. – Romans 6:22  ↩

Broken Mirrors

Disclaimer: Because the goal of this project is to simply get 500 words written everyday, there are going to be posts, like this one, where I make some bold claims based on what I believe and what I know about my faith. Take these posts with a grain of salt and know that I am not claiming to have all the answers or even any answers concerning difficult topics. I’ve also barely researched any of this because I’m just trying to get the words down. I’m completely open to the possibility of being wrong here. But, at least with this post, I don’t think I am. As I write this, I find myself very grateful for not being on Facebook. I went back on to try and find the post I’m referencing but couldn’t. Anyway, here goes nothing…

The way we react to news about refugees from anywhere says a lot about our theology, whether we want it to or not.

A few weeks or possibly days ago[1], I saw a man post a comment on Dr Russell Moore’s Facebook page in response to his post about refugees from Syria. The comment was long and was basically a guy trying to choose between his love for America and the fact that he is a Christian.

And if I recall correctly, he came to the wrong conclusion. I tried to find the post and comment to confirm but couldn’t. But that isn’t the point I’m trying to make anyway.

The big issue here is that a man who says he is a Christian is trying to reconcile his political views with his religious views. He is struggling to figure out which path to follow. That of ’Merica or that of Jesus. If you are struggling with this then you’re trying to serve two masters.

The word and command of Jesus to care for the least of these[2] matters far more than anything to do with a love for king and country. Our first allegiance, as Christians, must always be to the cause of Christ. It’s in our name. We must only boast in Jesus Christ[3]. The fact that this battle exists for some Christians tells me that they do not take God or His Word seriously.

I know that terrorists are scary. There was a mass shooting in California yesterday and that, whether the journalists or politicians say it, is an act of terrorism. The shooting in a church is an act of terrorism. The stoning of Stephen[4] was an act of terrorism. The apostle Paul was a terrorist and yet he wrote 14 out of 27 New Testament books.

Let us not be so in love with the country of our birth or residence that we waiver in the cause of Christ. Letting refugees into the country is an opportunity for Christians to evangelize and serve in real tangible ways. It’s the mission field coming to us. Let us remember that we were once broken mirrors barely reflecting the image of God in which we were made, but still reflecting. Committing a crime does not cause a person to lose the fact that they are made in the image of God.


  1. Ok, I have actually checked in on Facebook and Twitter to see if any actual important messages have come in and ended up reading a bit. I’m not sure when Dr. Moore posted the thing but it doesn’t actually matter. Anyway…  ↩
  2. And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25:40  ↩
  3. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. – Galatians 6:14  ↩
  4. Acts 6–7  ↩

Noah’s Farce?

I read an article attached to a video on The Guardian and couldn’t help but get upset.

A Christian ministry in Kentucky is building a 1550-metre-long (510ft) wooden boat for a planned religious theme park.

The very idea of a religious theme park deeply offends me. The idea of a Christian theme park is absolutely asinine. It’s got nothing to do with the Gospel. It’s going to be as effective as The Buttercream Gang as an evangelistic tool.

It’s a waste of time and money that would be so much better used by actual ministries that are trying to reach the lost and need funding to support the pastors doing that work.

This is just showboating.