War in Ukraine…

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has got my American blood boiling. As an Army Veteran, I hate to see the advance of evil in our world. Indeed, I’m praying for the country of Ukraine, its’ political leaders, and military soldiers. Specifically, I’m praying that the Ukrainians would be brave as they attempt to beat back the thick darkness that has descended upon them from land, sea, and air.

As I think about the War in Ukraine, I am reminded of my time of service during the War in Iraq. I served in the U.S. Army as an Intel Analyst/Paratrooper from 2006-2010 and deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served as a Targeting Analyst during my first deployment and as a Political Analyst during my second deployment. Here are some basic lessons I learned during the War in Iraq that surely apply now to the War in Ukraine…

  1. Evil exists. So many of us are quick to reduce evil to a mere concept, but mark my words, evil has a face. There are evil people in this world, and they intentionally unleash evil deeds upon people and places. Evil people aren’t simply misunderstood or lacking in hugs, they are evil by choice. Evil people tenaciously seek to steal, kill, and destroy. Yes, evil exists.
  2. Good exists. Despite the advance of evil in our world, there is good in this world “and it’s worth fighting for.” Indeed, goodness has a face. There are good people in this world who are willing to hold the line and beat back the darkness. I had the privilege of serving with such people during the Iraq War. They come from all walks of life but are willing to stand up against tyranny and oppression. I thank God for such people.
  3. Life is fleeting. Here is the sad reality of the War in Ukraine: People will die. There is nothing that can prevent this sad reality. Both soldiers and civilians, adults and children, young and old, will perish in this war. Blood will be spilt. War is such a stark reminder that life is precious, but fleeting.
  4. Eternity is forever. All of the people who perish in this bloody conflict will be ushered into one of two eternities: Heaven or Hell…This is the ultimate binary reality of life. For those who perish inside of Jesus, they go to Heaven. For those who perish outside of Jesus, they go to Hell. This is why I left the Army to pursue pastoral ministry. People need to know, during wartime and peacetime, that this world is not all there is, there’s an eternity that awaits us. Are you prepared for eternity?

Pray for the country of Ukraine. Pray that Ukraine experiences victory over Russia. Pray that the Gospel advances despite evil…

My Wife’s Question…

As we sat at our little round table in the kitchen, sipping our morning coffee, my wife said to me, “So, I was reading in Leviticus 21 earlier this morning, and I have a question.” Leviticus 21? A question? I was intrigued. “What’s your question?”, I asked her excitedly. “Well, I was rather disturbed by God’s qualifications for the priesthood. He says that no one with a blemish or defect may officiate the offerings as a priest. I mean, didn’t God make these people with such defects (i.e., blind, lame, etc.), why would He make them this way and then disqualify them from the priesthood?” Wow! A deep question…And I hadn’t even finished my first cup of coffee yet!

So, we examined the text together. The Scripture text in question reads like so…

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’ So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.” – Leviticus 21:16-24

How should we take God’s prohibition against certain Levites with blemishes and mutations? A few thoughts surface in my mind, and I would like to present three of those thoughts in this blog post. In fact, I will unpack this prohibition using three lenses: the harsh lens of sovereignty, the gentle lens of grace, and the ultimate lens of holiness…

The Harsh Lens of Sovereignty – Simply put, God is sovereign. He is in perfect and loving control over all peoples, places, and procedures. If He says that a disfigured man is disqualified from certain priestly duties, then that’s the way it is. Psalm 115:3 is clear, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” Furthermore, the Apostle Paul, in unpacking God’s sovereignty in salvation, states in Romans 9:20-21, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Certainly, if God is sovereign over our salvation, He is sovereign over who will serve Him in certain roles and who will not serve Him in certain roles. So, why did God give a prohibition against certain disabled men serving in priestly roles? Well, simply put (and perhaps harshly stated), God is sovereign, and He does whatever He pleases.

The Gentle Lens of Grace – There’s another way to look at this Leviticus 21 prohibition and it’s through the gentle lens of grace. Yes, God sovereignly chose for some of these men to be born into a handicapped situation. So, He graciously limits them from certain activities. Think about it. How cruel would it be for God to allow a Levitical priest to be born blind and then require him to offer sacrifices for the people of Israel. How’s he going to see what he’s doing?! Or how mean would it be for God to sovereignly make a man lame and then require him to offer the daily sacrifices. How’s he going to get to the altar in his lame condition?! God sovereignly allowed these men to be born with, or develop through an accident, a defective condition, but in His grace He limited what they could do in serving Him in the tabernacle.

The Ultimate Lens of Holiness – Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Why did God set a boundary upon who could serve as priests and who could not? Because God is holy and He required pictures of holiness through animals and people of wholeness. No defective or spotted lamb could be offered as a sacrifice to God. Only the best lambs could be offered in sacrifice. Why? Because God is holy and He demanded pictures of holiness through animals of wholeness. In the same way, no defective or spotted man could serve as a priest. Only the best men of the tribe of Levi could serve in the priestly role. Why? Because God is holy and He demanded pictures of holiness through men of wholeness.

Man alive, my wife’s question was a good one. I trust my threefold answer was equally as good. Now, to finish my coffee!

2022 IARBC Annual Conference

We are excited to try something new for our IARBC Annual Conference.  We are headed to our camp at IRBC for three days of challenge and encouragement from the Word with our theme, As For Me and My House – Discipleship at Home.  

Pastor Samuel Choi and Dr. Kraig Keck are our keynote speakers for the conference. They both have a passion for the family and ministry.  

The conference has something for the whole family!  We have workshops planned for both men and women.  Faith Baptist Bible College Students will help with children & teen classes.  We will have great food and fellowship in The Cove and opportunity for activities in The ROCK and on the campground.  

There are affordable options to register and stay on the grounds or at area hotels.  

Plan on joining us!

Tim Capon
IARBC State Representative

Phil Betz
IRBC Director

Register Here: http://irbc.org/retreats-events/iarbc-annual-conference

Pay Attention To Detail…

The longer I serve in leadership, the less enamored I am with people who have a big vision for the future. Vision. It’s such a buzzword in modern-day culture (both in business and in church). Now, don’t get me wrong, good leadership certainly has a big vision for the future. But how does a vision go from a mere dream to a reality? It’s all in the details…

Indeed, the longer I serve in leadership, the more enamored I am with people who pay attention to detail. I think that such a person is who King Solomon had in mind when he penned these words in Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” The idea here is of a painter, sculptor, or woodworker, who, with passion, focuses his energy on each and every brush stroke, chisel, or cut. The vision of what could be and should be is there, but it comes together with a godly obsession and zeal for each and every detail.

When I served in the military, I would often interact with Captains and Majors. Most of these men were highly intelligent and skilled in combat. They would outline the mission with stunning precision and then rely upon guys like me to execute the mission by obsessing over the details that they laid out. But every now and then, I would encounter a military officer who had so many good ideas, but with no concept of the details. Indeed, we would call these officers “the good idea fairy.” These officers had great and grandiose ideas for the future, but no real pathway to get these ideas up off the ground. Alas, many of these good ideas died in infancy. Why? Because a vision of the future, without a detailed plan to get there, is, well, useless…and annoying. Vision demands details. Yes, vision demands that we pay attention to each and every detail.

The mantra of many today seems to be the following: “Well, at least it’s done.” OR “At least no one died!” OR “Done is better than perfect.” Sometimes, especially in a crisis, these are words to live by. But in the regular rhythms of life and leadership such statements are possibly indicative of a lazy spirit who prizes a task being done over a task being done well. Let me say it straight up: Anything worth doing is worth doing well. From mopping a floor to preaching a sermon, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Or to phrase it another way, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth paying attention to each and every detail…