The Ferryman

There is a story that’s more than lore
About believers who have come before
Those who sought Jesus over earthly more
And earnestly asked him to save

These folks acknowledged the pain he bore
And answered when He knocked on the door
They found meaning they always longed for
And loved the grace He gave

To them, serving was not a chore
When they prayed, they felt their hearts soar
Scripture changed their very core
Their eternal future was gilded and paved

Then one day our precious Lord
Ferried them to the beautiful shore
Asking them to trust Him just once more
And ride the uncertain wave

When they did, they found what they were created for
Streets of gold and everyone they adore
Waiting at the golden door
And the joy that God naturally gave

So what can we learn from this report?
Well, whether long or even short
Our earthly time is not for sport
And eternal life starts before the grave.

-Landon DeCrastos

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The Fight (Reposted/ Updated)

Ladies and gentlemen
Welcome to the main event
A fight of the century
The bout worth every cent

In this corner, Daddy
Big, strong and wise
In the opposite; daughter
With the biggest blue eyes

This fight will put chills down your spine
It’s bound to be a thrill
Let’s listen to this verbal match
Lean in quietly and be still

The smallest one starts it off
Let’s hear her first swing
With a phrase she starts the brawl
Then Daddy steps into the ring

“I love you so much” she begins
We can almost hear the crowd roar
Their eyes stare each other down
She gets the very first score

“I love you more than you will ever know”
Daddy says with a smug grin
Then little lady fires back
The intense struggle is about to begin

“No, I love you times a million”
She says thinking she was going to win
But Daddy was ready for her joust
He cracks his knuckles, takes a breath, and leans in

“You are out matched little one
You don’t have a prayer
Mom and I asked God for you
We loved you before you even breathed air”

Daughter tried to fire back
But Daddy didn’t let her go
There was more that needed to be said
He was not nearly out of ammo

“I love you more than wide is wide
I love you farther than the planet Mars
I love you all the way to God and back
Way past the twinkling stars

Don’t try to defeat me in this
Because you have already lost
I would do anything for you
No matter what the cost

Sometimes mom and I can get mad
And raise our voices to correct
But never forget how much we love you
You are mine, despite whether or not you object

And with that final blow
The little girl accepted defeat
Not a thing could be said
As she stared at her little feet

Then, suddenly she looked up
with joyful tears in her eyes
She kissed Daddy on the cheek
And he realized this was all a guise

All she really wanted
Was to hear her Daddy say
That He loved her without conditions
And then she ran off to play.

-Landon DeCrastos

“Love” is a lie.

One of the most fundamental flaws in Western thought is one that is endlessly propagated through movies, TV, and Fiction novels. It is the idea that love is an impulsive feeling and not a long term conscious commitment despite outward circumstances.

I’m some cases, this idea can be pretty harmless…but think about how it can leak into every square inch of life. If it leaks into Christian practice, then it is absolutely valid to look at a believer with this mentality as a hypocrite. That’s because they will always express love based on what serves them. When this unhealthy definition of love is embraced, then we see infatuation treated as “true love”.

In the realm of church, we see a lack of commitment because the person is relying on “synthetic enthusiasm” psychologically created by music, laser lights, or creative presentations and this is what they rely on to move forward.

In marriages, if this definition of love is attested to, we see relationships dissolving seeking the “next best thing” and lacking the resolve to show love through a lifelong study of the other person and daily compromise.

Finally, if this thought process leaks into our personal thought life, we can develop bitterness or constant discouragement because we never “measure up”. We will assume that the world around us is always taking notes and measuring our actions to then distribute their “love” to us and they feel.

Do you see how toxic a bad understanding of love can be?

In 2019, seek to understand this concept better. It will do more good than resolutions.

Kingdom Politics

Hi Friends!

I wanted to encourage you to listen to the most recent podcast. In this recording, I wanted to briefly reflect on implications from Biblical Exile…in comparison to the division we see today in our political system. The voting booth should not be our sacrificial altar. Click on the player below. You can also subscribe to my podcast through iTunes!

Also, check out a post I made a couple years ago pertaining to voting. Perhaps this will shed some light on where our minds and hearts should be. Click here!

The Meeting

Holy-of-Holies

The High Priest opened the curtain and slowly walked into the Holy Place. His hands were still damp from the recent experience in the water basin. He took a deep breath as he walked through the threshold and whispered a quick prayer during the initial steps.

He looked to the left and made note of the candelabra. This priceless piece was hammered out of one piece of pure gold. Until this point, this lampstand has been used for several generations, but one would have poor observation skills not to notice that the stand still looked brand new. He knew that there was deep meaning in all the pieces that were placed in the Temple, but there was something in him that understood that there was a far deeper meaning to this lamp than what he could currently comprehend. Perhaps the full meaning would be revealed in time…

As he shuffled forward, his robe nearly dragged on the ground. He, once again, became aware of the weight of his breastplate. When he looked to his right side, he remembered the 12 tribes of Israel. This was symbolized by the loaves of bread on the table. The High Priest closed his eyes and inhaled through his nose. The smell of freshly baked wheat filled his nostrils, and for some reason, as if it was forcibly planted in his mind, stories of the times that God was faithful to His people were recalled.

The path became shorter, and the priest saw the last stand that he had to navigate around. The closer he got, the more the scent of incense gripped him. This small table had great significance, and the placement made it so it was almost an obstruction to the final goal. As the smoke filled the air, he was made acutely aware of his mission and purpose. The incense symbolized the prayers of the people that he was there to represent. One concept that struck him, that he had never thought of before, concerned the placement of this table. It was strategic. When God gave the instructions through Moses to build the original Tabernacle, it seems as if He wanted to make sure that prayer was the closest thing to Him. Perhaps there is more power in this action that we often think.

With a bowl full of blood in his hand, the High Priest approached the final curtain. He opened it to see the Arc of the Covenant. His heart pounded harder and harder. He felt slightly dizzy and had to compose himself. The makeshift room seemed to be illuminated and he felt as if it was significantly hotter. Then, he gave thanks to Yahweh, and began sprinkling the blood on the artifact. The experience seemed short lived as he concentrated on the ritual. He exited.

Weeks later, the High Priest heard rumors of a baby that was born not too far away. This child was born during the empire-wide census in a stable among animals. People spoke of a scandalized mother, who was pregnant before she was married to her husband. After a while, word about this little boy seemed to fade away. Perhaps we may hear more about this story later.

The Killing

lamb

The priest thrusted the knife into the lamb, and within seconds the animal was slain. After some the blood was collected for later, the fire was built to burn the remains. The first part of the atonement process was complete, and he was only beginning an intense spiritual journey on behalf of the people.

As he shuffled toward the water basin, he couldn’t help feeling very uncomfortable. All his life, he was told that contact with blood and death made one unclean. That was bad enough out in public, but it was sinful to enter the temple if you knew you were unclean. In s technical sense, he was sinning, but he knew that God required it, so it wasn’t sinful. Perhaps, then, he was representing sin.

He approached the water with calculated reverence but somewhat of an impatient anticipation. He ritually said a prayer and quoted the Torah then plunged his hands into the tepid water. The water became tinted, and he move on his way into the tent. He took a deep breath and prayed with each step.

He would never consider questioning God or His highest purposes, but admittedly he couldn’t help but wonder why blood had to be involved. If God wanted, He could require grain, coins, or some concrete action of devotion. Why death? Why such permanence? Perhaps, the High Priest thought, the answer is in the question. Permanence. When a created being is killed, there is no purpose left on earth for it. There is no turning back. Considering a second option such as something superficial we could simply take out of our personal inventory would not be as powerful, because we would not feel the weight of the action. Plus, the lamb symbolizes innocence. It is animate. It has breath. It has gender, and a role within its family. Taking away this creature disrupts life to an extent.

The High Priest entered the place and he was alone. Even though he just walked in, he could already smell the incense. He couldn’t think about that right now because that was near the end. His attention was grabbed by the flickering of the candle stand. His heart began to beat out of his chest. He felt a sense of fear that seems appropriate and even healthy considering the context.

As he slowly walked to his ultimate destination, the priest’s mind slightly wandered back to the mental picture of the slain lamb. He remembered the look in the animal’s eyes as it took its final breath. It was an odd combination of scared and peaceful.

He snapped out of his daydream and continued…

…to be continued.

The Approach

altar-bronze

If you think about it, the High Priest and the Lamb are two sides of the same spiritual coin. Neither one could fulfill their life’s purpose without the other.

The High Priest, as he walked and guided the lamb down the center of the city, briefly closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. He concentrated on the dressing ritual he just finished and went through the mental task list to make sure there was nothing he missed. He was interrupted by the savory smell of mutton cooked in olive oil, and immediately he remembered the task at hand.

He looked down and made eye contact with the precious animal he was guiding, and he mentally noted the ironic beauty in the events of the day. This small creature had no idea what its job was for the day, yet it seemed perfectly content with the way things were going. There was a bliss in the ignorance. With each step, other sheep from various households would bleat almost as if to tell this lamb what was about to happen. In utter joy or perhaps stupidity, the animal would answer back as if not believing what they were saying. It was almost a shame that its end would come very soon. No matter though. It had to be done.

Taking each step, the priest became more and more aware of the weight both figuratively and literally. Figuratively in the sense that he knew that what he was doing was something that he could not afford to mess up. Literally in the sense of the physical discomfort he felt wearing the necessary garments. The vest alone weighed him down, but it was a vital piece of the overall ensemble.

The High Priest silently prayed as he walked to make sure his heart and attitude were right. For a little while he could concentrate on the blessings that he as praying, but as he came closer to the Temple, he could hear the near-deafening activity that was happening in the courtyard. As he entered the front gate, a domino effect of attention was directed at him, and one by one people took notice of the fact that he was entering. The sound started to diminish, and even the commerce halted.

After the introductions, quotes, songs and psalms, the priest went about his duty and bound the feet of the lamb to bring about full submission. He readied the bowl in which he would collect the blood and looked up to make sure the fire was burning.

He raised the ceremonial knife and said a final prayer. His hands shook as if it were his first time.

The crowd went completely silent.

…to be continued

The Dressing Room

temple

Staring off in a daydream, the bleat of a lamb from the outside of the room breaks his trance. It’s almost as if this innocent creature knows what is coming. As always, even though he is completely experienced in what he was about to do, he can’t honestly say he is used to doing it. Each time a sacrifice occurs, he is at the center, and there is a great responsibility on his shoulders. After all, he is the High Priest and his job is to become unclean and kill for the cleansing of an entire nation. When he finds his focus once again, he finds himself staring into the slightly distorted reflection of a highly polished bronze mirror. It is time to get dressed, and he begins the clothing ritual.

His hands tremble as he puts on each requisite piece of clothing. With each article, he not only feels the physical weight, but he also acknowledges the spiritual, emotional, and mental gravity of what he prepares to do. The ephod goes on comfortably, but when the specialty pieces are assembled on his body, the realizations flood into his mind. There is a sense of pride that occurs due to his office but is dampened with a healthy level of fear. He runs through a catalog of memories of recent events and tries to recall any sins that he may of knowingly or unknowingly committed before going any further. After a deep breath, he continues.

It is great to be dressed as the High Priest in public. People respect you, and there is a certain celebrity status associated with the position. That however does not negate the gruesome task at hand. He looked at his reflection a final time before he tied a rope around his ankle. Tying this rope forces him to think about the importance of what he is about to accomplish. The braided rope is also a visible sign that he is imperfect and doesn’t deserve to be in God’s presence. It symbolized a possibility that he dares not think of. He thinks of the stories in which his own people treated the holiness of God with a casual apathy, and thus were struck down. He could easily die in a matter of hours. This would invalidate the absolution of an entire people group. He needed to be right with God. As the mediator of the people, he closes his eyes and breathes a desperate prayer. The only comfort he has with the thought of dying is the fact that someone can pull him out of the Holy of Holies using this rope if it does occur. He tames his beard with a little olive oil, nods his head at the mirror, and walks out of the room. He avoids eye contact with the lamb that is roped to a post outside of the room, and then their journey begins to the Temple.

God is waiting…but there is much more to do before they meet.

…to be continued.