This is different. It's Sunday, January 31, and instead of playing the organ, I'm typing this article. I can only remember 3-4 times in 30+ years that church had to be cancelled due to weather. So, my Sunday morning routine has been disrupted. It just doesn't "feel" right. I went for a short walk this morning, just to enjoy the view and the crisp air. I took some pictures of the white wonderland that lay before me. Snow is a big deal to us. When I talk to my son, Chris, who lives in Minnesota, he says they laugh at us because we get all excited over a couple of inches of snow. That's merely a flurry to them. But, since we don't get snow often, we can get excited all we want. In my Bible readings, the people of Israel have had some things to be excited about. First off, they got freed from Egypt. That was pretty exciting! Walking through the Red Sea only to turn around and watch the sea swallow up the Egyptians. 

COOL!!! They got food provided to them every day for free. Manna and quail. All they had to do was pick it up. Life wasn't so bad in the wilderness. Until things went wrong. Then they would groan and moan about everything. Putting poor old Moses in a pickle. Well, you know how the story goes. Two things have stuck out to me this time, from Exodus and Leviticus. First, while Moses was on the mountain, getting the original copy of the Ten Commandments, the people were making a golden statue of a cow. They had already seen the power and might of God, but just because Moses was gone too long, they figured they'd make something of their own to worship. An idol. And we all know how God feels about idols. I wonder, are we any different today? I was watching a show the other night, showing how they built the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. They claim it's the biggest and best in the world. And it may be. But in some ways, isn't that an idol. Many of the people responsible for building it, and many of the ones that will go there seem to worship that stadium more than God. How many of us do the same, on a smaller scale. We think we need the biggest flat screen TV there is, the fanciest car, the best house, I could go on and on. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having nice things. I think God wants us to have nice things. But it's when those nice things come between us and God, there is a real problem.

The people of Israel had nice things, even though they were wandering in the desert. The Bible says they took their jewelry and other gold things to make the golden cow. It would take a lot of earrings to make a cow! I think what the Bible is trying to say to us is this. Keep God first in your life. Worship Him only. Do this and you will find true happiness.

The second thing that sticks out is in Leviticus. If you have never read the Old Testament, then you should read Leviticus. I think if I were of the people of Israel, I would ask God to just go ahead and kill me. Because I could never keep all the rules and regulations concerning offerings and cleansing and what you can do and can't do. The whole book tells the people what they must do to atone for there sins. It's horrible actually. The sacrifices, the blood, the guts, the mess, the stench. And if it wasn't done exactly right, God might just kill you anyway. With Lent starting this month, we should think about these things. If it were not for Jesus, we would still be doing all these awful sacrifices just to try to get God to forgive us. But Jesus changed all that. When Jesus came and died on the cross, everything changed. No more sacrifices of animals. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice. No more blood and guts and smoke and stench in the church. God decided He didn't really like that smell after all. Once Jesus came and died for us, the only sacrifice we have to make is to confess our sins, turn away from them, and worship. When we fully realize what God has done for us, and what Jesus did by dying on the cross, we can't help but worship Him and Him alone.