That should be me

Baruch was meditating on Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac to God. Convicted by his own half-heartedness, he dedicated himself anew to Jehovah and promised to be more whole-hearted in his faith and life.

The Volunteer (Lev. 1:3)
In token of this promise, and to seal it to his own conscience, he decided to bring a burnt-offering to the Tabernacle that day. He rose from his knees, went through the tent door, and started walking towards a small pen containing livestock. Every step was full of cheerful willingness. There was no reluctance nor compulsion, no formalism nor hypocrisy – simply the eager happy service of a believer who desired a closer walk with Jehovah. He went to “offer it of his own voluntary will.”

The Value (Lev. 1:3, 10)
Standing by the fence, he surveyed the few animals he possessed. What would he offer to express his devotion and surrender to God? His eyes passed over the handful of doves. “Too little,” he thought. He looked at his one bull. The flesh started lusting against the spirit, suggesting many reasons why he should not offer it this time. “Yes,” he reasoned, “I will reserve my bull for another day.” So, it had to be a sheep or a goat. Again, temptation started getting the better of him. “Remember that old, weak-looking sheep which has not been gaining weight?” suggested an inner voice. “No,” Baruch replied out loud. “If I want this to be a real turning-point in my spiritual life, I will offer my best lamb.” Looking at the possible options, the choice was clear.

The Transfer (Lev. 1:4)
Approaching the door of the Tabernacle, he paused. Turning to the lamb, he placed his hand on its head and confessed, “O Jehovah, I deeply regret my lukewarmness and half-heartedness in your service…I want to be wholly and completely yours…” As his tears began to flow, and his passion for God overflowed, his hand pressed ever heavier on the lamb’s head.

The Killing (Lev. 1:5)
Baruch dreaded this part of the ritual. He looked into the eyes of the lamb he had helped deliver into this world, the lamb he had fed and cared for, the lamb he treasured above all the others. “Must you die for me?” he whispered. As he took the knife and began to cut, he cried out with deep longing, “Oh, for the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world…and the need for all these sacrifices?”

The Sprinkling (Lev. 1:5)
Life drained from the lamb, the priest gathered the blood in a basin and sprinkled it on the altar, as Baruch repeated again and again, “Precious blood, precious blood, precious blood…”

The Flaying (Lev. 1:6, 9)
As Baruch dissected the carcass of the lamb and washed the various parts, his trained eye could see the value of each and every part more clearly. He wondered how the value of the ultimate sacrifice for sin would be measured and publicly displayed.

The Burning (Lev. 1:9)
The moment was always awesome and solemn. The priest used long forks to maneuver the body parts into the flames, stoking the fire higher and hotter.  Baruch watched entranced as the life of the lamb was turned to ashes in the fierce heat. “That should be me…that should be me…” he whispered.

The Blessing
As he left the Tabernacle, the image of the lamb consumed by the flames was burned into Baruch’s mind. That evening, he not only prayed for the Final Perfect Sacrifice, but also for what the sacrifice symbolized: whole-person devotion to God, “Lord, make me burn for you. Take all I am and have and use it for your glory” (Rom. 12:1).

Check out

Can we be positive about Psychiatric Medications
Hugely significant article by Ed Welch. Also see Why do we seem so negative about Psychiatric Medications?

Praying past our preferred outcomes
Nancy Guthrie with Prayer Theology worked out in the trenches.

Four reasons why you should write in your books
I’m doing a lot more “writing in my books” since I started reading most of them on the Kindle. Does that count?

What brain food actually does for your brain
Fascinating discoveries that have probably come too late for some of us.

How can I stop using my phone all the time?

Adam Dachis asks: “How can I stop using my phone all the time and actually connect with people in the real world?”

I think many of us can identify with this question. If it’s not a problem for us, it probably is for our kids. If it is a problem for us, our bad example will soon make it a problem for our kids.

Apparently the most common accident for an iPhone is for men to drop it down the toilet! Which says a lot!!

This can be a real addiction. Scientists have detected that every time an email arrives, or we get an RT, or a Facebook like, our bodies inject a tiny squirt of pleasure chemical (it’s like a mini crack-cocaine hit). So every buzz or beep notification creates a craving in our bodies for the squirt-hit.

How to break the addiction? Adam’s strategies include:

  • No phone usage at social events unless you really need to call someone or you’re looking up information as a group activity ,
  • No answering calls or text messages on a date unless you’re expecting an emergency call or the calls will not stop coming.
  • You can only use the phone at stoplights, and only to check directions or change music.
  • No smartphone usage during short-term interactions (e.g. checking out at the grocery store).
  • Turn off alerts for most apps
  • Lock your phone with a long password

Lots of families use a phone basket where everyone’s phones have to be placed during mealtimes with no access exceptions, no matter if the pile is beeping and buzzing like a Nasa rocket.

Also, how about switching on airplane mode one hour before bed and not switching it back until after you’ve prayed and read the Bible each morning.

Another approach is to set a rule that for every time you check email, etc., the next time you feel the urge, try to pray for someone. That will cut phone use by 50% and significantly increase the number of people you pray for every day.

What other strategies have you found helpful?

Read the rest of Adam’s post here.

Check out

Pixels are people
Can you have friendships with people you’ve only met over the Internet? And what difference does it make when you meet them in person? Nathan Bingham reflects on his recent move from Australia to work for Ligonier in Orlando.

Reflections after being on the road
Kevin DeYoung and Nick Setterington are just back from a “mission/teaching” tour of the Middle East and Turkey. I enjoyed reading Kevin’s reflections on his trip.

Can Minerva build an online Ivy?
“The first elite American University to be launched in more than a century.” And it’s all online!

Forget Newsweek. Follow Jesus
“Like the perennial dandelions that pop up on lawns each spring, when Easter week rolls around you can expect Newsweek to put some form of Jesus being blasphemed on their cover.” Barry York responds to Newsweek’s advice to “Forget the Church, follow Jesus.”

Renewing your mind minute
New one minute podcasts from Ligonier.

8 New Counseling Discipleship booklets
I haven’t read these but the ones I have read in this series so far have been excellent. Great Church door resources.

The secret to grace under pressure

So how do we avoid the kind of public speaking brain freezes I highlighted yesterday?

Time Magazine suggests two strategies:

Play it down
The last thing you should do is tell yourself: “This is really important.”

Instead of  spurring you to new heights, it’s likely to increase anxiety and undermine your confidence. Research shows that reminding yourself how unimportant the event is in the big scheme of things is a better tactic, and psychologists have come up with a variety of ingenious ways to help us do so.

Well, this is hardly an acceptable strategy for preachers of the Gospel. Because this really is important. Nothing more important.

Next strategy please…

Remember your ancestors
Yes, apparently students who “thought and wrote about their ancestors did better on subsequent intelligence tests than members of the control group (who were asked to think instead about their most recent trip to the supermarket).”

Why should remembering our great-great-grandparents help us perform better?

Normally, our ancestors managed to overcome a multitude of personal and societal problems, such as severe illnesses, wars, loss of loved ones or severe economic declines. So, when we think about them, we are reminded that humans who are genetically similar to us can successfully overcome a multitude of problems and adversities.

Now there’s something that preachers could learn from.  Next time we start sweating, choking, freezing, or sinking, let’s think back through Church History and through Biblical History to remind ourselves of the great army of preachers who have blazed the trail before us, usually in much more difficult circumstances.

Certainly a bit more inspirational than the last trip to the supermarket.

Check out

It’s been a year
After living a life that blessed multitudes, a dear friend to so many is coming to the end of his journey.

How eternity shapes the mundane
Parental amnesia is where we forget about two things: tomorrow and eternity.

A Guide to staying Christian in Seminary
Here’s an index to some of the multiple recent posts on this subject that have been appearing all over the web. Although there’s some excellent material in here, I do think this subject has been a bit overdone. I can think of a multitude of other environments that are significantly more dangerous, but have not been given such treatments.

Affective Preaching
Fascinating post, but particularly appreciated this line: “Those preachers whose sermon outlines made it difficult for their hearers to remember it for later were not viewed as popularly as those whose outlines made remembering it easier.”

Do eBooks make it harder to remember what you just read
Think the answer is probably “yes” but the highlights/notes features in the Kindle help preserve the fruits of reading much more efficiently.

One third of US High School students own an iPhone
And this is supposed to be the worst recession since the Great Depression?

What’s a steal and what’s junk at the dollar store
Hope my wife reads this one