Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The High Priest's Garments

Have you ever wondered why the Old Testament contains so many things that seem of little importance today? You know that "all Scripture is important," but why do we need to know the dimensions of the tabernacle and details of the priests' clothes?

Here are a few quick takeaways from specifics of the priestly attire as recorded in the book of Exodus.

Chapter 28 goes into precise detail in laying out the garments for the high priest. An easy takeaway from this is to see that God is a God of order, one who is involved in the details. But there is more to take away than just that.

Verses 5-14 describe the ephod, which was similar to an apron, that contained gold and precious stones. On each shoulder strap of the ephod was to be a gemstone, engraved with the names of six of the tribes of Israel; therefore, the priest would have all twelve tribes “on his shoulders as a memorial.” Since the shoulders are associated with work, the priest would always remember that as he ministered for the Lord, he also worked for the people.

In addition to the ephod, the high priest would also wear the breastplate of judgment. Across this golden plate would be four rows of three gemstones, with each stone bearing a name of the tribes of Israel. This way, the high priest not only carried the tribes on his shoulders, he also had them on his heart. The priest must have love for God’s people, as we should today.

The breastplate had a pocket which contained the Urim and Thummin, which were two stones used for discerning God’s plan. One stone was light and one was dark, representing a “yes” or “no” answer from God. When the priest had to make a judgment (thus, the breastplate of judgment), he reached into his pocket and blindly pulled out one stone to get his answer from God. In God’s sovereignty He guided the high priest’s hand to the correct stone.

We don’t need Urim and Thummin today because we have the Holy Bible and Holy Spirit. An old country preacher once said that when we don’t know what to do, we should grab the Bible and start usin’ and thumbin’ through it, and we will find our answer.

The high priest also wore a turban that bore the inscription HOLINESS TO THE LORD on a golden plate. The priest was set apart (holy) to the work of the Lord, and each time he put on that turban he would be reminded of the manner in which he needed to conduct himself. This reminds believers of the helmet of salvation which covers our minds, and should govern our thoughts and actions. We are set apart to God, so we should live a life of HOLINESS TO THE LORD. 

Family Enrichment Weekend

Below is the Schedule for the Family Enrichment Weekend.
You MUST sign up at the bottom to attend.

Friday April 17 (6:00-9:00)


6:35-8:45—Session 1
                        Brad and Stephanie—Marriage Enrichment
                        Brian and Kerri—Parenting Enrichment
                        Tommy and Alicia—Family Spiritual Enrichment
                        Dale Palmer and Kenny O’Shields—Money Enrichment
            *7:30-7:45 will be a break

Saturday April 18 (9:30-2:30)

9:00-9:25—coffee and refreshments

9:30-11:30—Session 2
Brad and Stephanie—Marriage Enrichment
                        Brian and Kerri—Parenting Enrichment
                        Tommy and Alicia—Family Spiritual Enrichment
                        Dale Palmer and Kenny O’Shields—Money Enrichment
            *10:30-10:45 will be a break


12:20-2:20—Session 3
                        Brad and Stephanie—Marriage Enrichment
                        Brian and Kerri—Parenting Enrichment
                        Tommy and Alicia—Family Spiritual Enrichment
                        Dale Palmer and Kenny O’Shields—Money Enrichment
            *1:20-1:35 will be a break

Childcare will be provided throughout the weekend. More information will be provided soon.

Click here to SIGN UP.

For more information please contact the church office at 427-8726. Return to Philippi's home page.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wind and Window Flower

One of my favorite poems by Robert Frost is Wind and Window Flower, which goes in part like this:

Lovers, forget your love, and list to the love of these:
She a window flower, and he a winter breeze.

Perchance he half prevailed to win her for the flight,
From the fire-lit looking glass and warm stove-window light.

But the flower leaned aside and thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze a hundred miles away.*

Despite being a person who likes to be on stage, I have always struggled in one-on-one conversations. I would rather talk to a thousand people than one person. In high school I often used this poem as motivation to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I never wanted to be like that flower, who, thinking of nothing to say, missed out on what could have been a life-changing relationship.

Today this poem reminds me to share the gospel. If I choose to keep my mouth closed, morning might find that person a hundred miles away.

If the Lord leads you to share your faith with someone—anyone—don’t put it off. We never know if this will be the last opportunity to do so.

*This is 3 of the 7 stanzas 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mr. President, Don’t Compare Me to ISIS

At the Presidential Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Obama seemingly equated Christians with ISIS.

48 hours after the world watched in horror as ISIS thugs burned a Jordanian man alive, the President warned of Christians being on a “high horse,” and called for them to remember their own shortcomings. While the free world is still waiting for Mr. Obama to actually do something about this disgusting evil presence, we will have to settle for another lecture; ironically, this condescending lecture included a call for humility. 

The President cited the Crusades as a time when people did horrible things in the name of Christ. He specifically mentioned Christ over and over, yet has still never identified terrorists as doing their evil in the name of Allah or Mohammed. Today he said their evil is done in the name of “religion.”

The problem with using the Crusades against Christians is three-fold. 1, the Crusades were a thousand years ago; 2, the Crusades were done by the Catholic Church (Christians do not consider the Catholic Church to be Christian); and 3, the Crusades were the result of the Muslims terrorizing the Catholics who refused to convert and stealing their land.

Telling Christians to dismount from their high horse because of a century-old event seems silly at best. Scolding Christians for what the Catholics did is simply ignorant. And not recognizing the role Muslims played in the Crusades is a perversion of history that plays right into the hands of the Islamic propagandists.

The President further referenced slavery and Jim Crow. Yes, many Christians fell on the wrong side of the slavery issue, but it was evangelical Christians who also opposed Jim Crow (see William Wilburforce). Born-again President Lincoln literally gave his life to give freedom to blacks. Jim Crow is not burning people alive and raping 10 year old girls; ISIS is doing that. ISIS uses dull blades to saw the heads off of people; they create Twitter hashtags for people to suggest gruesome forms of execution; this past week ISIS tossed five gay men off of a tower toward their deaths; they invade towns, steal, and murder people by the dozens. Christians preach peace and love.   

Christians are not perfect and never claim to be. But Mr. President, we are not ISIS, and to even remotely compare us in the tiniest degree is so grossly offensive that you should be ashamed of yourself.

*Editor’s Note: Because we are not ISIS, we will not be rioting or burning down buildings even though our religion was insulted.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Roe v. Wade Decision

For many people, the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was a wholesale acceptance of abortion on demand. People refer to the decision as if Constitutional scholars envisioned our founding fathers wanting to ensure all women could abort for any reason.

But the language of the majority opinion does not read like that at all. I would advise people everywhere to read the decision for themselves. In the meantime, let me share with you a few highlights.

The majority opinion delivered by Justice Harry Blackmun conceded: “On the basis of elements such as these, appellant and some amici argue that the woman’s right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not agree.”

If the Court rejected the notion that women could abort at any time or for any reason, what should the restrictions be? Women today abort their boys if they wanted a girl, and vice versa. That was clearly not the intent of the Court.

One restriction Justice Blackmun favored was that a woman and “her responsible physician necessarily will cover in consultation” a plethora of circumstances before an abortion. The “counseling” done today by clinic workers is a far cry from “responsible physicians.” Even the abortion providers are a far cry from “responsible physicians.”   

The Justice also expressed limitation when he wrote, “at some point in time another interest…that of potential human life, becomes significantly involved. The woman’s privacy is no longer sole and any right of privacy she possesses must be measured accordingly.”

At the real heart of this issue is whether or not the unborn child was a life or only the potential for life. The Court realized that if someone could prove that the child was a living being, it would be entitled to rights that would supersede the mother’s Fourteenth Amendment.

Jane Roe was the plaintiff for a class action suit against the abortion laws in the State of Texas. Her defense team argued that her Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy was violated by the State laws. The State argued that the child’s right to life must also be considered by the Amendment.

The Court recognized that “The appellee [Wade] and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant [Roe] conceded as much on reargument (sic).”

Blackmun continued: “The Constitution does not define ‘person’ in so many words…the use of the word is such that it has application only post-natally. None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible pre-natal application.” He was saying that neither the Constitution nor the law had previously defined when a person becomes a life, and therefore it was difficult to rule in favor of the unborn versus the born.

That did not stop Texas from trying. “Texas argues that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception…We [the Court] need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

The majority opinion, then, was that the Court did not have the authority to decide when life begins. The judiciary was established to interpret the laws, not create new ones; they were in no position to make a landmark decision that life begins at conception, but conceded that those in the medical, philosophical, and theological fields could come to an agreement.

Now, 42 years later, they have. Scientific developments, such as 4D ultrasound technology, and advances in neonatology and embryology, make a strong case that life begins at conception. The world’s leading theological voices—the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention, now teach that life begins at conception. Many philosophers certainly agree. 

There is still no law on the books that says an unborn child is a life, but that can change. Justice Blackmun concluded, “In short, the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.” That same argument was once applied to blacks; through the Three-Fifths Compromise, the Constitution once recognized blacks as only 3/5th of a person and the property ("chattel") of the white man, but they were eventually emancipated, given rights, and recognized as fully human.

Justice Blackmun attempted to strengthen his belief that American support was turning in favor of abortion; to do so he wrote, “modern medical techniques have altered the situation.” He was referring to advances in abortion practices that made abortion safer (for the mother, of course) since he felt many only opposed abortion because of the risks. These “modern medical techniques” should be weighed in favorable light for abortion rights.

But ironically, that same logic can now be weighed in favorable light for abortion critics. Modern medical techniques and advances now show that the unborn child is far more than a glob of tissue that doesn’t resemble a human.

Applying the Fourteenth Amendment to abortion was quite a reach to begin with. In his dissent, Justice Rehnquist noted, “To reach its result, the Court necessarily had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment.” Indeed, the anti-abortion laws were on the books decades before the Fourteenth Amendment; the fact that they were not struck down with the passage of the Amendment says a lot to Mr. Rehnquist’s point.

We are in a better position now then we have ever been. Momentum is swinging in the unborn’s favor. Bills like the Pain-Capable UnbornChild Protection Act are finally recognizing the unborn as people with Constitutional rights. Please continue to pray that Roe will be struck down, and that these millions of babies will be afforded their “right to life.”