Friday, April 26, 2013

Beauty or Beast?

The cleanness laws were for the purpose of training Israel in the virtues of distinguishing between the holy and the common and between the clean and the unclean. But now Jesus has declared all foods clean. Therefore, we no longer have to have our senses trained to distinguish between holy and common, clean and unclean.


Not only is that conclusion wrong, it is dangerously wrong. Our God is a consuming fire who will show himself holy. People die when they make his holy things vulgar. That in itself is enough motivation to pursue proper distinctions.

But that is hardly the whole story. Proper distinctions and harmonious order make the beauty of our Lord apparent to us. We were created to have our souls overwhelmed with the joy of Awe-full Beauty. We have been called to become like our holy Lord. And since we become like what we worship, as we observe the distinctions between holy/clean and common/unclean in our worship, we will enjoy more and more of the beauty of Christ. Life becomes more and more meaningful as it is more and more a participation in the eternal life of God by the Spirit.

But if we blur those distinctions, we actively work to erase all that makes us glorious in Christ. We take a wrecking ball to our reason and plant maggots in our minds. We warp our wills and hollow out our hearts. Our affections become mere appetites. We become a parody of what it means to be human. We become bestial.

High Country Baptist Church is committed to worshiping in the beauty of holiness. We would rather not be the local herd of steers, grunting and bellowing our approval when the feed truck shows up on Sunday morning to fill our bellies. We live in a society hell-bent on ignorant bestiality,  but like Bunyan's Christian we run after Christ crying, "Life! Life! Eternal life!"

Come with us, and make proper distinctions.

Psalm 117b
Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (#220)
Come We that Love the Lord (#223)
Lord, How Delightful (#726)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 20:1-9; Psalm 106
New Testament: Luke 12:22-34

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Clean and Unclean in Our Worship (Part 3) - Leviticus 11-15

P.S. Here's new song by Josh Bauder that I have enjoyed meditating on this week. Perhaps it will stir up your soul to find delightful rest in God.

(HT: Chuck Bumgardner)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Your Kingdom Come

The cleanness laws of Leviticus shaped the community of Israel to match the character of her holy Lord as he revealed it in his creation. Israel would learn to love what he loved and to hate what he hated. She would learn to be like him and enjoy his life-giving presence. But creation itself was just the starting point for seeing and savoring God's harmonious order. The end-point was God's kingdom, and the road from starting point to ending point was laid out by God's covenant. By keeping covenant with God through these cleanness laws, Israel was saying, in effect, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

We now live under the new covenant, which has huge ramifications for how we participate in what is clean and avoid what is unclean. But the basic thrust remains the same, "Your kingdom come." Join us this Lord's Day as we joyfully and humbly strive to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Sing the Mighty Power of God (#19)
How Firm a Foundation (#610)
My Soul, Be on Thy Guard (#595)
How Good Is the God We Adore (#738)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 19:19-37; Psalm 19
New Testament: Luke 12:1-21

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series - Clean and Unclean in Our Worship (Part 2) - Leviticus 11-15 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


"Community" is a big word in church circles right now, and for good reason. Of course, whenever a word becomes a big word, there is a powerful tendency for it to carry small meaning. Professor Kevin Bauder has been writing a bit about building community, and I would encourage you to read about it here.

He writes,

In order for a church to function as a community, its members must develop relationships that touch all of life. The development of these relationships requires Christians to share interests outside of the purely devotional and ecclesiastical. The question arises, however: will not the sharing of secular interests result in secularized Christians who have less interest in spiritual things? Specifically, do not secular interests constitute a distraction from God’s work?

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meaning, Meaning Everywhere

If you have any interest in music at all, and I hope all Christians have an interest in music (Eph 5:19), I highly recommend that you watch all four of the 2013 Epiphany Lectures by Ken Myers.

Just to whet your appetite, I will embed the first lecture here.

Myer's "motifs" for his talks are
  1. Music is a wonderful gift from God that presents unequaled opportunities for delight, for sharpening our perception of reality, for enabling unique communication between people, and for conveying to us something of the beauty of God and his creation.
  2. Modern culture's typical treatment of music eclipses its greatest possibilities.
  3. The church's counter-cultural identity should render it into a people with a distinctive musical life.

Friday, April 12, 2013


When we read the laws about cleanness and uncleanness in Leviticus, we tend to take away only one point - we no longer have to abide by those old rules. But we cannot read the words of the New Testament without quickly realizing that there must be more to it than that.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

It is just as important for us as it was for Aaron and his sons to "distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean" (Lev 10:10).

Distinguish. Make proper distinctions. Understand right order.

We have said often that worship drives culture. This is why.

Join us this Lord's Day to dive into the significance of those old cleanness laws in Leviticus.

God Himself Is Present
Called unto Holiness (#226)
Psalm 15a
Holy Savior, We Adore Thee (#73)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 19:1-18; Psalm 36
New Testament: Luke 11:33-54

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Clean and Unclean in Our Worship - Leviticus 11-15

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Strange Fire

Do you like stories that keep you on the edge of your seat through unexpected twists in the plot? If so, then our text this Lord's Day should definitely keep your attention.

Everything seemed to be glorious. The Lord had come to dwell among his people Israel, the sacrificial system had been instituted, the priests had been consecrated, and now God and man could live together in peace, love, and abundant life. What could go wrong?

But something did go wrong, and in a deadly way. Join us tomorrow to learn some serious lessons about our worship.

God Himself Is Present
Psalm 42
Holy, Holy, Holy (#3)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 18:19-30; Psalm 15
New Testament: Luke 11:14-32

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series - Strange Fire and Our Worship - Leviticus 10 

Thursday, April 04, 2013


But-may some think-what though now and then I swear an oath? Words are but wind.

But they are such a wind as will blow thee into hell, without repentance.

Thomas Watson, from a sermon "The Evil Tongue"

"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless." James 1:26

Delighting in the Trinity

Without a doubt, the most enjoyable book I have read this year is Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. I think I enjoyed it so much because it dovetails with something the Lord has been teaching me over the past few years, namely, that the triunity of God is urgently relevant to everything about Christianity and the Christian life. Preaching through the Gospel of John brought it alive to me, and reading Augustine's works let me see in the life of one man.

Now comes the most recent issue of Credo Magazine, dedicated to the topic "The Trinity and the Christian Life." I encourage you to read it.