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When Jesus instituted what we call the Lord’s Supper, He pointed to the cup that points to His covenant.

After telling His disciples to eat the bread representing His body, “he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins'” (Matthew 26:27-28). Luke recorded it also, “Likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood'” (Luke 22:20).

The “new covenant” is named as such in Jeremiah 31:31, and related descriptions are paralleled in Ezekiel 36. This new covenant is not like the Mosaic covenant given to Israel when they came out of Egypt. In this one, the Lord promised to put His law directly within them, to write it not on stone tablets but on their hearts. This covenant wouldn’t just point out why they needed forgiveness, it would purchase and apply it.

In its original setting the new covenant was for “the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31). The Lord compared the likelihood that He would fulfill this promise to the fixed order of the sun and moon. “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation forever” (Jeremiah 31:35-36).

And it is the Lord who has opened the door for us who were not Jews to enjoy the good news of forgiveness and new hearts. He has opened the way for us, He will finish His promise to save a coming generation of Israel by His Spirit (Romans 11:25-26), and His Word is as good as it has ever been.

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We’ve been talking at our house about how no one could have predicted that the two people doing the most for Christianity on a national level in our day are Donald Trump and Kanye West. They are not having influence for Christianity the same way; to talk about how the President’s influence works is another discussion. I’m also not bringing them up in a belief that influence must be national in order to be God-honoring and important. But this definitely seems to be an example of God drawing straight lines with crooked sticks.

Do you know who Kanye West is? Some don’t want anything to do with him, others attach to him for reasons that aren’t great, others reading this maybe really don’t recognize his name. He’s an A-list celebrity hip-hop artist, married to an A-list celebrity Kardashian. In his rap music Kayne used to celebrate all the sins that unbelievers exalt. But he’s changed his tune. A few months ago he professed that he became a Christian. His new album came out a couple weeks ago titled, “Jesus Is King,” and all ten songs made the Billboard top 100 list last week.

I wasn’t in to hip-hop, or Kayne before his profession of faith. If I was a single man I probably wouldn’t have heard any of his new album. But I keep seeing videos where Kanye keeps doing things that aren’t cool for no apparently good reason except for Christ.

He’s spoken out against abortion. He’s lamented the damaging effects of pornography. He’s described new convictions about how he wants his wife to dress more modestly. He’s explained that he loves his wife and kids, that he hopes to have more kids, that he thinks having kids is the greatest treasure. And when asked directly about the difference between his current life and not that long ago, he said that Jesus has caused him to wake up (also part of the previous video). He even wrote an ode to Chick-fil-A.

What should we do with all of that? We must give thanks, because God says to (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and it’s not actually that hard to find reasons. We can also pray for Kanye and his life as a new professing believer. But also, we should pray to be that sort of not ashamed of the gospel. Jesus is King. Kayne has been giving true, clear, and honoring testimony to Jesus. Even if, in the unlikely but possible worst case scenario, this gospel seed is on rocky soil or among thorns, and only grows for a short season, it’s still a challenge to those of us in good soil to bear the fruit of bold witness for our King.

liturgy

4 of 5 stars to The Household and the War for the Cosmos: Recovering a Christian Vision for the Family by C.R. Wiley

The title is provocative, and I am thankful for Wiley’s guided meditation on the significance of what it means to live in an ordered cosmos and also on the thickness of household (and patriarchal) piety compared to the thin individualism causing our culture’s current foolish fruitlessness.

Should you read it? If you want to please your Father in heaven, then queue this one up.

Goodreads

Here’s a strange idea — what if a university marketed itself as a place to acquire an education?

“What if a university took a completely different tack? What if it rejected the claim that subjects like philosophy, theology, literature and history are basically useless? What if, to the contrary, it insisted precisely on the usefulness of the great books, books like the Iliad, the Bible and The Brothers Karamazov? What if it sought not to coddle students, but to strengthen and toughen them for the challenges of adult life?”

These are good questions.

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5 of 5 stars to Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

This book was even better than I hoped. Plus, James Clear is from Ohio, and played baseball. Boom. 

But also the content about starting good habits and stopping less good ones is clear and promotes action and iteration (without causing guilt to metastasize). If you’ve read The Slight Edge, which I highly recommend as well, then the idea of small but consistent changes will resonate. 

Clear also doesn’t let the reader off the hook. We always do what we most want to do, and what we want to do comes from our own hearts and our identity, for which we are responsible. Any long term changes we make will necessarily require identity change. He also talks about personal limits very fruitfully, reminding us that we can’t be just whatever we wish we could be, but we can look for areas and ways to maximize who we are as God made us (emphasis mine). 

Should you read this? Yes, you should start today.

Goodreads

4 of 5 stars to Inferno by Dante Alighieri

I enjoyed this imaginary epic trip through hell again following Dante following Virgil. I still don’t know much Italian history, making me thankful as in previous reads for the footnotes. While I wouldn’t call Inferno helpful for Christian doctrine, I definitely think it works for deepening Christian devotion.

Read again in December 2016 as part of reading the entire Divine Comedy in Omnibus V.

2014: Entertaining and frustrating. Entertaining, not in the sense of amusement, but in the sense of focusing attention on the many deserved punishments of sin, even if only imagined by the poet. Frustrating because I know so little history in order to fully appreciate all the allusions. Thankful for the many notes by Musa.

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4 of 5 stars to The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

I listened to The Fellowship this time through, and found that Tolkien’s goal for the story rings true for me:

The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them.

My review from 2013: Alright, alright, I actually enjoyed it. I even sorta, kinda appreciate Frodo as both reluctant but doughty hero who is strong because he is weak (at least so far).

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I’m going to try something I haven’t done before, which some of you will not care to read, and some of you may not be able to read. Others of you may have nightmares harkening back to junior high English classes.

My favorite thing to do for Bible study is diagram the sentences, in the original language when possible. Here’s the first three verses of the next paragraph I’m preaching in Revelation, Christ’s message to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.

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This is a meal of remembrance. We remember, and proclaim as we remember, the death of Jesus. Communion points us to the cross week after week.

It is also good to remember that Jesus remembers us. This truth could be used for selfish purposes, to puff up our esteem, as if God thought us important enough to get us on His side. But the good news is that He does choose us, and He does get us on His side, and He knows us by name.

Computing power and intelligent algorithms can collect and process a lot of data. The limits of digital databases are virtually non-existent, and columns can be matched, even with names. But it still isn’t personal.

The Father chose a people for His Son, and sent His Son as a Shepherd to lay down His life for His sheep. He calls them by name, and they recognize His voice (John 10:3-4). Their names are written in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain (Revelation 13:8). The names in the book, the names who are known by Jesus, are the names He took with Him to the cross.

Christian, you are not a number to God. You are a name. You will walk with Christ in white. Christ will confess Your name before our Father. Remember what you have received and been taught. Remember Jesus’ body and blood. Remember that He knows your name.

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