what the use of incense in ancient worship means for you

Frankincense

I recently bought a kit of essential oils, and one of the ones in the package was frankincense. Have you ever smelled it? I bought some of the resin for a children’s ministry project once, but never have I smelled the distilled essential oil. I started looking it up online because I knew there were several references to it in the Bible. Of course, the most memorable reference to it is as one of the gifts of the magi. Frankincense was likely brought to Jesus because it was a symbol of his priestly role. The job of the priests was to go between the people and God, offering sacrifices and burning incense to God on their behalf. The people could not access God on their own, they needed this intermediary. Frankincense was also a huge part of the temple rituals. Exodus 30 details the building of the altar of incense, which … Read More

Are there shades of love?

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is currently a big maelstrom online about the movie, 50 Shades of Grey, set to come out in theatres on Saturday (Valentines Day). It’s like the world suddenly woke up and noticed how this insidious shadow has captured the imaginations of so many women, and they abruptly realized that there’s no light in it. The book and the movie are essentially glorified abuse (read this illuminating article written by a survivor of an abusive relationship). Even the co-stars seem as though they’re wishing they hadn’t signed the contract. When even the non-Christian world is calling for the plug to be pulled on a movie due to its pornographic, abusive, misogynistic, violent premise, there’s something wrong. But here’s the thing – mothers all over the globe have jumped on it as an acceptable form of “mommy porn”, hoping that it will rejuvenate their marriages. And I’m … Read More

How to cultivate a true friendship

friendship

Friendship during the school years was relatively easy for me. When I was younger there were one or two friends at a time, and in high school we were a group of seven. Those are the friends with whom I spent most of my noon hours, Friday nights, and birthdays. In university I joined Campus Crusade and developed some healthy friendships with people who were like-minded and who challenged me to do more than study. (I also met my husband, who has been a very enduring friend!) Going to school is like being in a friendship hothouse. You become friends with those who are close by, and the friendships grow fairly easily because of proximity. There are some weeds (i.e. teenage hormones), and some people are toxic in close proximity, but I think many of us can trace at least one of our most enduring friendships back to our school … Read More

How to avoid having God veto your plans!

After [David] the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”  2 Samuel 7:1-2 I listened to this chapter of David’s reign today, and it made me scratch my head. David has just brought the ark of God to Jerusalem after its many years in exile away from the spiritual heart of Israel. He’s so jazzed about it that in his enthusiasm he doesn’t do his research and gets a man killed by transporting the ark incorrectly (2 Samuel 6:1-11). Then, when they finally get it to Jerusalem, he embarrasses himself by dancing half-naked in the streets (2 Samuel 6:14-15). Obviously he is excited to have the ark, the earthly throne of Israel’s God, back in … Read More

4 ways busy moms can get into the Word

3 ways for busy moms to get into the Word

I hunched over the stove, tears dripping down my nose.  “Why God?” Another wail came from upstairs. It was my baby, who hadn’t slept more than 45 minutes at a time since he came home from the hospital, weeks ago.  I was exhausted, but I hoped against all hope that this time he would sleep for a bit, and that I would get to sit down with God for a while.  But no. My eldest was snoozing soundly in his bed, but this baby needed constant movement to sleep, and my power levels were flashing red.  “Why won’t you make him sleep so I can spend some time with you? Isn’t that a good thing?”  In the midst of his wailing, I was reminded of a Bible passage I’d read a long time ago:  “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us … Read More

A tale of two pigs…er, mothers

This morning was the worst morning ever. No, not because I felt sick, or worried, or exhausted. I was tired, since the baby had been up crying a lot in the night, but I’ve felt worse. Much worse. This morning was the worst morning ever because I acted like it was the worst morning ever. When the boys woke up, I sent them downstairs. They came back up. They were noisy and the baby was actually sleeping, so I hissed at them. They disappointedly went back down. It felt like every thing they did pissed me off, and so I snapped and hissed like a rattlesnake about to kill its innocent prey with its venomous bite. And my prey was innocent. Now, I’ve had times where I’ve snapped and hissed, and it usually doesn’t last long. I snap out of the funk and apologize. But this time it almost felt … Read More

Why a balanced heart is better than a balanced life

A balanced heart

It’s been a long time since I listened to a sermon. In between leading the children’s ministry, spending time in the mother’s room with one of my three babies, and just being my usual distractible self, it’s not very often I have the time or the presence of mind to sit and actually learn from a sermon. Today I found myself in the rare position of not having something on my mind, not having any children around, and not teaching. It’s like all the circles in my life’s venn diagram suddenly intersected and my brain actually felt like cooperating. The pastor asked a question: “What do you think Jesus would say if you asked him how he was doing?”  He concluded that it’s very unlikely he would say “I’m SO busy!” Ask me the same question. Or I’ll ask you. But yes, yes, I know, I know, we’re all busy … Read More