Youth has its allure, but I've always felt life improves as you grow. I certainly wouldn't want to go back in time to any of my younger years! Certain advantages and improvements come only with age, it seems. The Bible compares Believers to trees bearing fruit, teaching the moral that we should be growing and improving over time. I know that I certainly am a better person than I was at any time prior in my life. Hopefully we all are, and we keep looking for improvement. Fruit represents the good things in our character, and the Bible says that you will know people by the fruit they bear. This is much like Dr. King Jr.'s famous quote about judging a man by the content of his character. You judge a tree by its fruit, and a man by what he has to show for his character. Yes, our character produces visible signs.
We finished planting our fruit trees yesterday. We planted one each of a pear tree, cherry tree, peach tree, fuji red apple tree, and a golden delicious apple tree. We are still looking for a green apple sapling.We planted the burning bush as well but decided to plant it by the well in the front yard. I heard it is a "deer-magnet" of sorts, so if the deer show up for dinner, I want to enjoy their company from the deck :) The fruit trees we planted across the lawn, to provide shade from the evening sun, as well as fruit in years to come.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, self-control: against such there is no law. KJ2000 (The King James uses the word temperance for self-control.)
As you can see, our place is a work in progress. The line running North to South in the grass is the new well line, where we replaced the well pump & lines. The grass has just about grown back over the top, but the line is still faintly visible. The fruit trees are mere saplings and won't bear fruit for 2-3 years. But, when they do... I can taste them already! Things like this amaze me! I mean, think about it. It is like planting a factory and watching it work independently. Go figure! We planted the tree, and that's about it. God provided the earth, the rains, and the sunshine. We just need to sit and watch patiently. And, make sure they get watered when it doesn't rain. Hopefully they won't be damaged in rough weather before they are grown and producing fruit.
In the 33 years I've lived a Christian life, I have invested a lot in my Spiritual growth. For example, I couldn't begin to count the verses and chapters of the Bible I've memorized, nor the number of times I've read the Bible through. But, I could read the Bible all day long, and it wouldn't change a thing about my character unless something takes root inside me. Sadly, this is where humans are different from fruit trees. We know what fruit a Believer is supposed to have, and we can bear "faux fruit," or fruit that is fake. This would be like using a nail gun to nail peaches on a pine tree. There's no point in that. Fruit trees must be grafted to form a new kind of fruit. Pine trees are pine trees. When you want a juicy peach, you've got to find a peach tree.
Mothers are nurturers... builders... gardeners. What are you building Mom? What is it you want to see nurtured and growing?
Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
Our goal is certainly to build our home. we've spent this week having a deck built, with an ADA Ramp for easy access, and for warm Summer evenings at home. I got a patio table set for Mother's Day, and can't wait to bring home Kentucky Fried Chicken today to try out on the deck. I recorded a time lapse video of the construction below, that is 2 minutes long, set to music, and includes info on the builders for those interested in having something built in this area of Georgia.
Oh, but that's not the type of construction Solomon was referring to in the Proverbs, is it?! No. He was referring to the fact that Mothers build homes... the people and organization of the family institution itself, and not just the physical structure. So, what are you building Mom? Are you raising children? Are you building futures? Are you assuring maximum growth by weeding out thorns? Are you tearing down bad foundations and building something that will endure the storms of life? Whatever you plant will grow. Whatever you build will tower over you years from now. Think hard on what you want to see from your rocking chair one day. Consider the view and build accordingly.
Abscond, avoid, bolt, break away, clear out, cut and run, decamp, disappear, fly, get away, hasten away, hide, hightail, light out, make a getaway, make a quick exit, make off, run for it, run from, run, skedaddle, skip, steal away, take flight, take off, withdraw... whatever the expression you use for it, everybody wants to escape something. We use numerous metaphors to describe the desire to reach, be, or achieve the things we want. I most find myself wanting at be a better person... in terms of abilities and character. Fact is, faced with our own humanity, it is easy to see why we might feel the need to escape our own limitations; be they physical, material, or Spiritual. I've always been enchanted with the idea of flying. I don't remember when it began. The Job Corps base I attended after High School Graduation, though it was a miserable place, was right beside an airfield and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Our windows from the 2nd story Clerk/Typist training room overlooked the airfield. I quickly became addicted to two things: drinking coffee with my coworkers while on our "coffee breaks" (it was training for the work world lol,) and watching through the windows, as the planes would take off and land.
By the time I was in college, I was taking rare lunch breaks away from campus at the local airport, eating a sandwich while I watched the planes from my car. I've flown a few times: in a small Cesna craft, in a few jets, and most recently in a helicopter. And, in between I've launched and flown just about everything I could with my students and sons; kites (store-bought & home-made newspaper kites,) helium balloons, toy soldiers in milk carton baskets with multiple helium balloons attached, balsa wood planes, model planes, model rockets, model rockets with action figures attached, water bottle rockets, and pencils with rocket motors attached. Yes, pencils can soar.
Since my surgical accident a few years ago, I've been missing the opportunity to enjoy any of those things. Now, they have great new technology that makes flying things possible, giving us a "bird's eye view" from right here on Earth. I've been experimenting with some aerial photography with my Droid, in the "Fly Away" video below.
This was the last flight of the day, just after sunset, after Larry got home. He made a cameo appearance in the video :) as you can see in the snapshot above. The day had been too windy for flying, but I couldn't wait. So, I made sure I landed whenever a gust came up. I had kept closer to the ground on the earlier flights. In this one, I had taken it up much higher. Then a huge gust came up, and it was far above the trees, to late too land and whipping away fast, beyond our yard. I hadn't considered the fact that retrieval would be very difficult in the dark. But, luckily we found the drone by it's bright lights on the next road over. Larry said he thought it had gone much farther than just next door like I had believed. But, I don't think it got there by it's own power. I had lost control and it had started its descent and lost contact next door at least. (The property is empty and for sale.) Apparently the strong wind currents carried it on over the trees a good distance from there. But, the guys were great sports; willing to help me retrieve the droid.
Nobody's perfect, at least that's what we all say. I haven't found the man or woman who defies the statement yet. We arrive on this planet kicking and squalling, then live our lives as a tale that is told... according to the Psalmist, and pray that the ending comes out better than the beginning. Psalm 90:9
Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking. Even riding a bicycle demands an acquired skill, very different from walking, whereas a spaceship—oh, brother! I won't live that long. Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians.
— Juan Rico, in Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, 1960.
The AR Drone is operated by smart phone app, which is downloaded in the marketplace. The app allows you to see the drone's eye view on your smartphone and record video and snapshots. It also connects you to the AR.Drone Academy lessons and soon coming online games, using your Drone. The AR Drone is equipped with an interchangeable hull for flying indoors as well. It is fairly easy to learn to fly in a day, with no lessons. As with anything else, to fly well requires practice. Naturally, there were several mishaps with trees. But, Travis came out with a hook and ladder to pull it out of the tree branches. And, I got a kick out of "radioing" for help on my phone, "Droid down, droid down, pilot requests rescue assistance on North side of property!" You can see some of the blunders and outtakes from the first few flights in the "I'll Fly Away" video below.
Naturally, I have been intrigued by the use of drones, just like everyone else today. I believe we are nearing the last days on Earth before the rapture of the Church. The Bible says no man knows the day, nor the hour of His coming. Mark 13:32 But, we can see the signs of the times everywhere. Matthew 24:3-51. One of those signs is the development of technology in recent years to "see" around the world. I find it odd that most of the newer technologies today were predicted and imagined since practically the dawn of the ages. Drones certainly combine elements of many different technologies.
But, regardless of your religious or political ideologies, escape from this planet is at the front of most everyone's minds. All religions expect an end time "end of the world." Scientists expect a cataclysmic event to destroy the Earth eventually. The time frames just differ. We all feel like our way of life is definitely coming to an end.
I've been re-reading the book of Ezekiel since I got my Droid, and I find some similarities in some of the characteristics of Ezekiel's "wheel in the middle of a wheel" and drones. Not all the characteristics match, certainly and the description given by Ezekiel was somewhat difficult to understand, but the fact is obvious that drones have cameras that "see" like the many eyes in Zeke's wheels. Also, the wheels control the creatures he describes in the same type of remote control fashion as unmanned drones are controlled. This doesn't mean that they are one and the same, of course, just that the technology is remarkably similar in some ways, enough to remind me of Ezekiel's wheels at least.
Ezekiel had many reasons to be looking towards the sky for an escape route. He was a slave in captivity, down by the river of Chebar. His country had been taken over by a foreign power. His people were in bondage. Yes, we all have a desire to escape; our limits, our problems, our handicaps, our world, and this earthly world at times. I often feel like I'm bound to the house, and look forward to the finishing of our deck with a ramp so I can get in and out of the house easier in my power chair. I am often overcome with a wanderlust, that consumes me with the desire to travel the planet, see foreign cities, and experience the cultures of the world. But, that seems less likely now. Not impossible, mind you... just less likely. But, I have to say that I can think of nothing in the here-and-now that can give me wings to see the world around my home, and lift me up off my limitations like the eyes of my drone.
In the Spirit world, we have access to God through prayer. Prayer functions like a drone in its ability to lift us up higher to heaven, and it gives us eyes to see the world and the things happening around us differently ... with Spiritual eyes. Prayer gives us wings to overcome our problems, failures, and limitations, and draw us closer to the place we want to be in God. That kind of access is remarkable! As with everything else, we earn our wings in the Spirit world by practicing prayer often. We are ultimately handicapped in the Spirit realm without the eyes and wings of prayer. Today, is the best day you've ever had to escape on a prayer to God. It is there... in His hands... that you will find your wings to overcome all that limits you.
Right now, at 12:30 pm, LiveAction groups are taking the message of LIFE to the streets TODAY in Washington, D.C. At the 'Stop the Killing' rally at 12:30pm EST, they will be calling on the abortion industry to stop the #Inhuman attack on the most innocent among us! The Rally is being held outside Santangelo's Surgi-Clinic. Whatever you are doing now, hold a prayer in your heart for those who will never be held in loving arms. More info follows for those who are interested. Thanks for praying!
If you need more info on upto date happenings, follow Lila on Twitter, and keep up with the Tweetchat by hashtagging #INHUMAN on Twitter.
For the most recent investigative video on abuse at abortion clinics, watch on YouTube below at DC. As always, you can also find the subject in God's Word, the Holy Bible.
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth as witness this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live:
Sometimes it seems our faith is weak, and what do we do about that? Faith is like a muscle. It becomes stronger when we use it. That is easier said than done, so I have a list of exercises that have been done by heroes and she-roes in the Bible. I know many people think they were super-strong guys... like the instructors at the gym. Just remember; they didn't get there without lots of faith sets & repetitions. They exercised their faith until it hurt. No pain, no gain. Check out the following sets & reps to see just what it was that made these Bible heroes so strong. I've used the Faith chapter; Hebrews 11, to list 20 sets of exercises. The repetitions needed vary for each set. Some can be done in a few minutes, while many must be repeated over the course of a lifetime for success.
20 Faith Exercises:
1. Use your faith to give a good offering. -Abel/ Hebrews 11:4
2. Use your faith to build a building to save the lost. -Noah/ Hebrews 11:7
3. Use your faith to move to a foreign land like God told you to do. -Abraham/ Hebrews 11:8-10
4. Use your faith to become pregnant when you are old and childless; or to bring unbelievers to be born-again into God's kingdom, even though you've been saved for 30 years without leading anybody to Christ yet. -Sarah/ Hebrews 11:11-12
5. Use your faith to speak good godly futures into the ears of your children, when they are ignoring the things you taught them and you dislike everything they are doing. -Isaac/ Hebrews 11:20
6. Use your faith to speak good futures into the ears of your grandchildren, even if they are like strangers, and living in another state or country. -Jacob/ Hebrews 11:21
7. Use your faith to declare political freedom for your country, even when you know you will die before that happens and you can already see the country is under domination by a foreigner. -Joseph/ Hebrews 11:22
8. Use your faith to give your child up for adoption so you won't have to have it aborted. -Moses' Mother Jochebed/ Hebrews 11:23
9. Use your faith to live off the land, rather than take a handout from an evil leader, or to watch him abuse your countrymen. -Moses/ Hebrews 11:24-27
10. Use your faith to change your religious traditions, because you know what worked for Grandpa is not going to save you. -Moses/ Hebrews 11:28
11. Use your faith to walk right through your troubles. -Moses/ Hebrews 11:29
12. Use your faith to march circles around your enemies until you overcome them. -Captain Joshua/ Hebrews 11:30
13. Use your faith to join up with God's people, even when you know you are a prostitute, a drug addict, or a murderer; because you know you can't save yourself no matter how good you are anyways. -Rahab the Hooker/ Hebrews 11:31
14. Use your faith to fight to defend your country in battle in the name of Jesus; to defeat enemy terrorists who have attacked your country. -Gideon, Barak, Samson, & Jephtha/ Hebrews 11:32-33
15. Use your faith to tell your country's leader that God will punish him for his sin. -Samuel/ Hebrews 11:32
16. Use your faith to tame wild hungry animals. -Daniel/ Hebrews 11:33
17. Use your faith to walk through fiery trials and come out alive. -Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego/ Hebrews 11:34
18. Use your faith to raise the dead. -Elijah & Elisha/ Hebrews 11:35
19. Use your faith to preach to people who throw stones at you. - Stephen/ Hebrews 11:35
20. Use your faith to have angels wake you up in your darkness and chains; and to be delivered from your bondage to return to the church. -Peter/ Hebrews 11:36 & Acts 12:1-12
Completion of sets & reps of these exercises is guaranteed to make your faith grow stronger. Of course, experience is not the only teacher... though it is the best. Some people are teachable and will learn by watching other people. Some of us will learn by example of others. I feel my faith growing stronger just hearing about all the things these people did by faith! The Bible tells us that Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17 Will you hear God today? Numbers 12:6
Hebrews 3:7 Wherefore as the Holy Spirit says, To day if you will hear his voice,
It's easy to find our words drifting, like race cars following the leaders of our day. Though life may seem like a race, the Bible tells us that the race winner is not the one who runs fastest, but those who make it to the finish line.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.
Yes, we are all running this race. It is important to remember that, and to remember that when we speak the Words of God, that His Words become our words.
Psalms 119:57 You are my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep your words.
In the video above, a number of phrases Christians have gotten comfortable with are demonstrated, and they seem to be rather unfamiliar to most young non Christians today. The video is quite popular, and many people have seen it on Godtube as well. But, the message is eye-opening. Part of the purpose of carrying the Gospel is to make sure that all who hear the Word can come to an understanding. We want to make sure the Words we carry are not just the stuff of commonplace, but unique and purposeful as well.
Adjective- (of a remark, opinion, or idea) Overused and consequently of little import; lacking originality or freshness.
Synonym- shackneyed - banal - commonplace - trivial - threadbare
What words do you see as essential to the Gospel that may not be so trite? Are there words in the telling of Jesus' story that many of the un-churched may not know? Consider words like Omnipresence
(everywhere present at once,) Omniscience
(all knowing,) and Omnipotence (
all powerful.) What about sanctification
? How would you explain the compound names of God, like Jehovah-Jirah
, to a new believer? (For a list of them see my Where's God? page
on Sunrise Scriptures.) What about when we refer to Jesus as the Shepherd
I Peter 5:4, or the Rock
I Corinthians 10:4 , or the Lamb of God
? Most would agree that they are important to the message today because they help tell the story. Consider how they may sound to those who don't know them, and how you might explain them. While there are many words you may never find need to use, such as the many -ologies and the -isms; there are a number as essential to our redemption as redemption.
Do we only have a vague sense of how we've heard the words used over the pulpit, or are we confident in the use of these words ourselves? Can we explain to someone that not only does Jesus' blood sanctify
us- wash our sins away and leave us stainless, but His death justifies
us- leaving us as guilt-free as if we had never sinned? (Don't forget the little mnemonics tool: It is "Just-if-i'd-never sinned.") That's a lot to think about. Maybe you have some words to add to the list. But, regardless of where we find ourself in our ability to explain the gospel of Jesus, words won't save anyone if they never hear them. It would be without purpose and just as trite to understand the gospel in entirety and yet to never have shared it with those around us.
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." -Stephen Hawking
"Our universe didn't need any divine help to burst into being... What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?" - Stephen Hawking
"God not only plays dice. He sometimes throws the dice where they cannot be seen." -Stephen Hawking
"We should seek the greatest value of our action." -Stephen Hawking (in answer to a question on how we should live)
This image appeared in The Economist magazine in association with the release of Stephen Hawkings latest work - The Grand Design.
These are the words of famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking on God
... and he certainly is not the last word on the subject of religion or God, or even the universe. The last book I read of his was, "The Universe in a Nutshell." The thing that struck me most was, that for a man who professes to "believe" in Science, he has more faith than I do. He has faith in the power of his own mind, though his body has so apparently failed him. And, this is strange, in my opinion, seeing his take on the power of the brain, and that he expects it's power to terminate at death. He envisions our mind as the product of a supercomputer, that was not intelligently designed, and morphed into being on its own. He believes in spontaneous generation of life... of universes... of the cosmos. Yet, he does not believe in a resurrection, a higher power, a supreme being, or a different state of existence for mankind. He only believes in what his fragile mind can conceive, as if the human mind isn't as prone to failure as the rest of the body. And, as if the brain is not a part of the body. Clearly, this is flawed reasoning, as his brain is his god.
"I see Earth! It is so beautiful!" These were the words of the first man in space... Yuri Gagarin. The 12th of April was Yuri's Night, the anniversary of Yuri's famous Sputnik capsule spin around our planet. Though his flight would have international implications, and propel the U.S. organization to push their plans for the Moon landing up, now Yuri's Night is celebrated around the world each year. Star Parties, and what have you. Here is a remake of an old video I've shown before, which I see has been removed since I blogged about this a year ago. The music is different, but it appears to be the same video image colorized. (I liked the original better :)
But, imagine what the first men to view Earth from the planet would have seen, on foot. Imagine you are the first man, Adam, and walking around the Earth for the very first time. I can just hear Adam's words, with God walking beside him. "Adamah, it's so beautiful God!" For, Adam was named after the Earth since he came from the ground, much like naming a boy Clay now.
Now, imagine when we walk our eternal homeland. Heaven will be a paradise unimagined heretofore. Past limitations will have no meaning there. The solar system will not be an unknown. No longer will mankind suffer and war. We will all be at peace. I know others have sung a song they titled "Imagine." But, just imagine with me that there is a God, and all the people are waiting to meet their Maker. Imagine we see the Light of God in all His splendor, and all the atheistic, agnostic fears are dispelled finally and God is revealed to man. What will be your words?
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, you King of saints. Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? for you only are holy: for all nations shall come and worship before you; for your judgments are made manifest. Revelation 15:3-4
But, more than imagining the removal of earthly limitations, and the beauty of heaven; imagine living a life that is for someone else, rather than for the greatest value for ourselves while here on Earth. What if I spend my "threescore and ten," minus the fourteen years before I met Jesus, entirely for God? What if I give myself to His service and glory, and become a vessel of His praise? Is that of value to anyone here on Earth? That is determined by what happens in those minutes after the components of our brain stop working, as referred to by Stephen Hawking. If there was nothing before Creation, and there is nothing after death, then I've lived my life for an idea... a thought, which is exactly what Stephen is doing at 71 years of age. He is living for the thoughts of his own ideology. No more...no less. Same/same. But, if God is and was, if He will be and awaits me; then I will have lived for so much more than I could ever be within the limits of my own imaginings. I will have lived for the glory of the magnificent Creator of all that Stephen worships.
If Stephen is right, then our brain is no better than a stick, since it will fall into the earth and rot... and the remains will lay motionless for hundreds of years like a rock. This makes his trust of the human brain as ultimately evolved as ancient man who worshiped stone statues. I may as well worship my big toe, without which I could not walk. If I did, then my God would be dead if I could no longer walk. Likewise, since Science can not be comprehended by late stage Alzheimer patients, then their brain can not be a god; else it would be a dying god.
If Stephen is right, then he very soon will be dead, as is the fate of all of mankind. Then what will it matter if we understand anything at all? How is it for the most value to know anything, if we all die and go to the grave in the end? Why care where the Earth came from, or where it is going...unless, of course, somewhere out there, there will be a meeting with eternity?
Pop Quiz: Can you guess who these celebrities are in the sound clips below? They are all clips from well known movies. Test your movie memory and then check below for the answers. If you get 8 to 10, you are exceptionally knowledgeable. All clips are courtesy of the computing magic of MovieSoundClips.Net Now... listen up!!!
Context of the script, familiarity with that particular actor, and prediction have a lot to do with the fact that you can identify and recognize the voices of the different actors. If they were saying something unfamiliar, or perhaps you didn't know ahead of time that they all would be celebrities from movies, and I'd pulled in different topics, then it would have been more challenging. But, regardless of how you did recognizing the clips above, how well do you think you would recognize the voice of God? That all depends on how familiar you are with His voice, and how familiar you are with the script-ures, and your expectations of hearing God speak to your situation at all. Has God spoken? Sure He has... just listen...
God, who at many times and in various manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hebrews 1:1
Quiz Answers follow!
1. Liam Neeson - Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia; the Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe
2. Mel Gibson - William Wallace in Braveheart
3. Christian Bale - Jim Graham in Empire of the Sun
4. Russell Crowe - Maximus in Gladiator
5. Bruce Willis - RJ in Over the Hedge
6. John Wayne - Lt Rusty Ryan in They Were Expendable (1945)
7. Sylvester Stallone - Barney Ross in the Expendables
8. Will Patton - General Bethlehem in The Postman
9. Antonio Banderas -Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan in the 13th Warrior
10. Nicolas Cage - Ben Gates in National Treasure
The God of the Old Testament, though not a visible God, was a living God; a God of flesh and blood. God lived in the blood of every goat and bull that was sacrificed in the temple. God emphasized to His people that life was in the blood, and therefore when we accept His blood now in atonement for our sins, we accept the life that is in Him. We agree with His Spirit that our life was created of Him, by Him, and for Him. We are of Him, for were we not made in His image? At Creation, we were formed from the dust of the good earth, Adamah... Earth in Hebrew. We were inspired from the creative breath of God. Inspired means "God-breathed." And, we were created with the intended purpose to worship and bring praise to the God of the Universe.
Worship, like faith, comes from hearing about God's great Words and Works. Great books, though publishing increases, seem to become less common every year. I find myself drawn to the classics more with each book I read. That is especially true with books about Christian living and God's Word. So, it is a pleasure to find a new book that belongs with the ranks of say, Dwight Pentecost, Oswald Chambers, Charles Sheldon, C.S. Lewis, or A.W. Tozer. Let me give you a peek at the book I am currently reading. I am sure you will find something here to inspire your worship of the Most Inspired Creator. And, I noticed this book can be loaned out free to a friend, once only, for a period of up to two weeks. Something to keep in mind when I finish reading. Why keep it all to myself?
The carnivores among us buy our meat well butchered and shrink-wrapped, and the vegetarians among us probably feel an even greater disdain for the culture of animal sacrifice and bloodshed in the Old Testament. So when we engage with the story of the Old Testament, the Passover, and the temple, we have a certain sense of disregard or distance for the bloody practices that punctuate Israel’s rhythms of life. If we’re entirely honest, we probably find the whole thing a bit gross. Thankfully, we think, we’ve been shielded from such gore. The sentiment of most contemporary Christian worship is high on emotional language, heavy on the Spirit (and its accompanying imagery of flames, wind, and doves), but usually thin on (if not bereft of) the topic of bleeding birds and beasts. 2 We talk about the cross as shorthand for the bloody sacrifice of Jesus, but even that is removed from the hands-on messiness of Israel’s worship. But any conversation about the story of worship forces us to detour into the viscera of animal sacrifice. Reading through Exodus and Leviticus can feel like a trip through an ancient butcher shop, with rules about the age and purity of livestock, ritualistic practices for killing them and draining their blood, and regulations for burning their flesh. Like a trip to a foreign land, it all requires getting familiar with some of the local dialect: clean and unclean, arks and covenants, tabernacles and holy places, and of course, the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place. If we’re not careful, it can start to sound like Dungeons and Dragons. Add to that the pop culture view of this strange world, best exemplified by Raiders of the Lost Ark and the melting faces of the Nazis in the blaze of the opened ark. Altogether, it’s a difficult pill to swallow— a mysterious and violent time and place. No wonder we write it off, preferring to think of it all as metaphor and imagery, rather than a very real, earthy reality in which God lived in community with mankind. But as Christians, we don’t get a pass on this part of the story. The story of God and Israel is the story of God and us. The bleary hope sung by the patriarchs became a tearful slave song in Egypt, and in the deserts on the other side of the Red Sea another movement of the song began. “God lives with Israel” was the title of the movement. Its rhythms were carved into the flesh of lambs and goats, punctuated by a river of blood flowing out of the temple and shouts of “glory, hallelujah” as the divine presence filled the tabernacle.
Cosper, Mike (2013-03-31). Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel (Kindle Locations 686-704). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
***I highly recommend the above book. This is not a paid endorsement. I am not affiliated with the author in any way. The opinions expressed are my own, though the excerpt is the property of the author.
Today, I had an uncommon thing happen to me. A child... 4 years old... asked what happened to me. He looked at the chair I was driving, then down at my legs, and said, "What happened to you?" I had to think my words out carefully to avoid blaming doctors... God knows you wouldn't want a child to be afraid to go to the doctor! But, he then asked could I stand? Did it hurt? Was I sad about it? He really cared. He wanted to know. And, it was the first time he'd ever seen me. So much sympathy in a four year old for a stranger! He almost seemed to hurt with me. So, I told him the chair was pretty awesome, and he started asking questions about the mechanics of it: the joystick, the wheels, and got under it to see the two batteries. Then, I opened my phone and showed him I had Marvel Comics on it, since I had noticed his Marvel Comics T-shirt. Seeing the phone, he ignored the comics, and asked if I had any games. So, I flipped open the folder of game apps I have installed on it, and showed him my arsenal of games. He pointed straight to the Monster Truck game and the chair was forgotten when he started driving the big trucks. That's the way life is. Period. It's not about what you don't have. It's about using what you have. Believe it or not, there is someone who would find what you have exciting. I know I'm blessed. I have no doubts. I can see it right in front of me.
God has been so very good to me and my family. I can't say enough how thankful we are for His blessings. We didn't take a fruit basket to the Pastor when we got our land, like commanded in the ancient Law of Firstfruit, Deuteronomy 26:2 (since we don't raise crops on it) but we did give half of the land back to God in a money offering. Likewise, I gave the $200.00 inheritance to the Church Food Pantry, after my Father died.
I've written about some of those blessings on my Sunrise Scriptures website, on the page titled, "The King's Table.
" I've embedded that page below, for you to read if you haven't, along with the brief update at the bottom of it. But, the rest of the story is so much more beautiful, and of course nobody knows "the rest," except my husband, my son, and I. I haven't gone into the personal details, but they are known by God, and that's what matters. We made giving and supporting God's work a priority portion of those blessings, just as I've done in the past.
After we had given beyond tithes and offering on what was to be a fraction of my income for the rest of my life. And, we followed the details of Deuteronomy 26 out of a desire to bless others less blessed. Even after giving away, we dealt with different sharks from satan taking money back that we had already given offerings for. But, we didn't care. The gifts and offerings hadn't been demanded from us, but given freewill. Then, God turned around and gave us 10 times more. Rinse, lather, and repeat... to make a long story short.
God took care of us. We have our home, and we were able to honor God and the needy well beyond the tithes and offering on my income. But, beyond that, God had already been taking care of us, during those 2 years I had gone through the surgeries with no income. When I had no paycheck God still took care of me. In the end, God took the fact that the insurance company was trying to shirk paying me for the rest of my life, and turned it into a home for me and my family. He took what was a knife in my back, and made it a tool in our hands, a tool for our good. Every time I look at our physical blessings, I feel God's pleasure and bounty in our life. And, I wasn't even hunting for a bounty. I was loving and living the life I had been given, and the God who gave. I had accepted that I had lost years of income, and possessions, and we were just trying to dig back out from under the medical debt. I didn't pursue to take them back, as David did in the Bible. I did not even sue the Doctors who injured me. Then, God rang my telephone. Special Delivery! God's bounty came to us. God replaced lost income. God is very good! So, today we can say, just like the Israelites when they first got their land...
Deuteronomy 26:5-10 And you shall speak and say before the LORD your God, An Aramean ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians mistreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression: And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terror, and with signs, and with wonders: And he has brought us into this place, and has given us this land, even a land that flows with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which you, O LORD, have given me. And you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God: