Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Reflections 02:Is the Virgin Birth Important?

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

From the confessional history of the church, the Apostles' Creed is one that emphasizes the basic essential doctrinal points of the apostles' teaching. The confession begins this way:

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary..."

Have you ever wondered, "Is the virgin birth of Jesus really that important?" After all it is scientifically unprovable and seems highly improbable that this could even happen. Yet it is predicted in the Hebrew scriptures, fulfilled in the New Testament, and affirmed by the early church fathers as essential. But how does that affirmation of belief impact our practical reality? And why is it so important?

Christian doctrine can seem so impractical without a solid understanding of clear application to our present lives. And without the clear application all we are left with are words to give verbal assent, a warm fuzzy feeling, and questions about the infallibility of the Bible. Although, to the early church, the Apostles' doctrine was completely practical. It met them in their life and fuzed meaning into their experiences. It also helped shape their understanding of how God has created the world to work, how it was broken, and how it is fixed. We should share their perspective on doctrine, and this blog is designed to take something that seems impractical and show that it not only applies to our lives, it is essential just as the early church affirmed.

The practical implications of the Virgin Birth are related to sin, or should I say, the possibility for the removal of sin. There are three aspects of sin that are important for each of us to understand if we are going to see the necessity of the Virgin Birth. The three aspects are as follows: original sin, generational sin, and personal sin. I will discuss these more in part two of this blog. For now, just know that these are real parts of our depravity that are addressed in the application of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.

Before we get to our sin let's look at what the Hebrew scriptures say about how atonement or reconciliation with God is made. Exodus 12 details the requirements for the Passover. In verse five a lamb without blemish is to be prepared. The blood is to be placed on the doorpost and lentils so so the angel of death would know who belonged to the LORD. Leviticus 1 outlines many of the sacrifices to be made including a lamb without blemish for the atonement of sins. These sacrifices had to be made repeatedly until the LORD sent His final sacrifice to redeem His people through a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:14-20; and Hebrews 8-10). Jesus was the perfect Passover Lamb and the sacrifice for all time establishing the new covenant of God's grace between God and His people.

You see the sacrifice had to be without any blemish or stain (perfect). This is the reason for the Virgin Birth, which will make more sense when we begin to understand more about sin.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snow in the Mountains

Here are 10, no wait, 11 things that I have learned and love about mountain snow. It's not the miserable midwestern or southern mess that probably comes to most of my friend's minds. If you don't believe me come and visit for a week this winter!

1. It's not that people don't know how to drive in snow at sea level. It's just that it is impossible to drive on ice. Snow is very manageable in the mountains.

2. The roads are clear within hours of the snowfall finishing. And by clear, I mean dry!

3. There is practically no slush as the midwest knows it.

4. We can ski on this snow!

5. Snow ice cream once a week:)

6. You know those brushes on some ice scrapers? I understand why they are there now. You can literally clean all of the snow off your car with those, no ice layers!!!

7. We clear snow with plows here. No more shovels for the driveway!

8. No need to shovel the deck. We can sweep this powder!

9. There is a clear difference in the cold here. It does not feel like your skin is going to break off and bones shatter. It is just simply cold, no side affects.

10. The mountains are beautiful covered in a white blanket!

11. The deep blue sky the day after a snowfall. It is amazing. It should be on all bucket lists to see.