Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Behold the Lamb of God

In the Past (Preparation)
Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.”
He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

(Genesis 22:7-8, ESV)

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
(Isaiah 53:7, ESV)

In the Present (Fulfillment)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, ESV)

In the Future (Completion)
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
(Revelation 5:6-10, ESV)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent: Labor of Love

I've been loving the honesty, rawness and reality of this Christmas song from Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb sung by Jill Phillips:

Monday, December 12, 2011

From Conception to Birth: A Visualization

Justin Taylor reposts this amazing video:
Alexander Tsiaras, chief of scientific visualization in the department of medicine at Yale University, uses micro-magnetic resonance imaging to visualize the development of the human body in the womb, from conception to birth.

In this 10-minute presentation to TED, he shows some samples:

HT: LifeSiteNews (via Dallas Richards)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Do You Know How to Grieve?

Recently we held a special service at OBF with a focus on Lament. Lament is the idea of processing your grief and the pain of loss through various means. It may entail crying, journaling, singing, verbalizing with others, remembering, fasting, etc. And it may hit you because of the death of a loved one, a failed relationship, your parent's divorce, personal sin, unfulfilled expectations, etc.

Outside of Good Friday and funerals services, I don't think I have ever experienced an opportunity like this. We were working off the observation that American culture does not do a good job of helping people to express grief and sorrow, and that American Christianity doesn't do much better. We tend to have a "get over it" mentality, or we think that if we grieve over something too long then it must mean we are not very spiritual. Our culture tends to be inward, so many people struggle deeply with hurt and bitterness because they have never learned to grieve over their loss. Instead we suck it up or bury it. Eventually this leads to coldness, bitterness, loss of intimacy with God & others, and even a loss of feeling.

Instead, we need to process our losses. Scripture affirms this: David laments deeply, openly, verbally over the death of people in his life. He writes songs about them. He mourns in community. Check out 2 Samuel 1:17-27, 3:31-39; 12:15-23, along with numerous Psalms (3, 6, 13, 32, etc.). Even Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:35).

But death isn't the only thing we need to lament over. As I mentioned above, there are many other things that give cause for grieving. We are broken people living in a fallen world. Relationships fail. Life doesn't turn out the way we want. People disappoint us. Changes shake us. We cannot ignore how much life affects us without serious consequences. We can't just suck it up all the time. Sometimes we need to lament this brokenness, this loss. Of course, we don't stay grieving forever, but we must be willing to walk through a process of grieving and this takes time.

Looking at how David handled his sorrow, we first see that he embraced it. Then, he processed it in three realms:
  • In Himself - personally through prayer, confession, crying, writing, remembering, fasting.
  • In Community - in relationship with others through song and public mourning.
  • In God - ultimately he looked to and hoped in his sovereign and loving God.
Everyone will processes grief in a slightly different way, but the important point is that we are willing to embrace it and process it personally, in community, and most of all in our God.

For more, here is the full message Embracing Lament.

And here is a Puritan Prayer that we adapted and used during the service (from The Valley of Vision: Confession & Petition):


We have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find our mind in your word, of neglect to seek you in our daily life. We often fail to grieve over our sin and brokenness. We have acted as if all is well.

Help us to see the terribleness of our sin and the futility of our attempts to live life without you. Let the loss of relationship with You burn in our souls and draw us back to your side. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lusting of the mind bring our spirit into subjection, but rule over us in liberty and power.

Grant us a godly sorrow, a humble heart, a repentant spirit. Let us not refuse grief, but use it to draw us back into communion with You.

Our transgressions and short-comings present us with a list of accusations,but we bless You that they will not stand against us, for all have been laid on Christ; Go on to subdue our corruptions, and grant us grace to overcome them.

We thank you for your wisdom and your love, for all the acts of discipline to which we are subject, for sometimes putting us into the furnace to refine our gold and remove our dross. Only use these things to make us more like You.

Father, hear us as we grieve and remove our guilt. Fill our longings. Give us rest in You.


Monday, December 5, 2011

More Artistic Brilliance

Yet another way that someone made in the image of the Creator is using his creative ability. I'm not sure this artist (Liu Bolin) sees it that way, but God's Word reveals to us that is exactly what is happening when we as humans create anything of beauty. Enjoy!

From Yahoo! Games:
No, you're not looking at a Predator. This is Liu Bolin, also known as 'China's Invisible Man,'
who specializes in camouflage body-paintings. The seamless blending-in with
his environment is the result of hours of painstaking work.

See more here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011