Sunday, January 30, 2011

The God we serve is able... but even if He does not...

Don't you just admire the undaunted faith and bravery displayed by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they stand firm and refuse to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar, even as they risk being burned alive in a fiery furnace?

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."  Daniel 3:17-18

He is able.  Yes, it's one thing to worship this God, the One who is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace.  But even if He does not...  Trusting in that God is different.  You've heard of faith healers, well it seems to me being healed doesn't require nearly as much faith as not being healed.  That requires real faith.  Trusting God even if He does not deliver you from your trial requires submiting to God's will and more.  It means believing that God's will is perfect and that God is good, even when it doesn't appear so on the surface.  Even when you end up being thrown into the furnace.

I've been thinking about these words as I pray for a dear friend of ours, a 19 year old young man in our church facing the fiery furnace of cancer right now.  The doctors no longer hold out hope for a recovery, but we know even now our God is able.  We've been appealing to the God who is able, able to heal, able to deliver.  And we will continue to plead with God to spare Connor's life.  But even if He does not... Will we worship that God?  Will we trust in that Savior? 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn't actually escape the fiery furnace, did they?  They were thrown into it, but they weren't in there alone.  The Lord preserved them in the midst of the furnace.  Connor isn't alone, either.  The same God who is able to deliver, able to save, able to heal, that God is with him through his fiery ordeal.  That God will not leave him.  And that God will ultimately deliver him through a bodily resurrection and eternity in heaven.

Please pray for Connor and for his mom and dad.  Connor is such a brave young man and has told my husband he looks forward to heaven, but the rest of us, especially his mom and dad, aren't nearly so brave.  Please pray for a miracle, that God will completely heal Connor of cancer for His own glory.  But please also pray that God will be glorified, even if He doesn't.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Operation World

One change that we're making in our homeschool comes from my reading Radical by David Platt.  He challenges believers to pray consistently that the gospel will be spread around the world.  One tool he suggests is Operation World, so that we can be focused in our prayers and make sure to cover all the people groups of the world.  Our prayer guide and map came in the mail today and I'm so excited!  Can you tell someone else is excited, too?

We'll be utilizing this tool in two ways: 

1.)  Prayers during morning devotions.  Normally we pray according to our character studies.  For example, if we're studying grattitude, then we pray that the Lord will help us to be grateful and to show grattitude to Him and others.  We'll be adding the Operation World prayer calendar to our morning prayers.  From now until the end of the month we'll be praying for Asia, in general.  Then beginning Feb 9th we'll start praying for individual nations alphabetically as outlined in Operation World

2.) Geography.  We normally study geography along with history and we're studying American not World History this year, but I just can't pass up this opportunity to discuss the culture and location of these nations while we're praying for them.

I'm just so excited about this and have no idea why we haven't been doing it all along in our home.  Well, better late than never, right?

Oh, and for the record, our adorable Prince charming pictured above came to us from Kazakhstan, less than 2% evangelical Christian.  This little boy loves to pray and his precious prayers would just melt your heart.  He's such a blessing!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

90 Day Bible Challenge- Kindle style and while nursing update

I haven't posted much on my Bible reading this time around, but wanted to give a brief update.  I'm reading 1 Chronicles right now.  I think I'm on day 28 or so, still a few days ahead.  I love reading with the Kindle this time.  It wouldn't have worked well for my first couple of times through the 90 day challenge, because I wrote way too many notes while reading.  This time, though, it's working like a charm.  Mainly, I love how small and easy the Kindle is to handle.  I can easily read while nursing Calvin and usually have my reading done by the time he's nursed two or three times, so by lunch.  I haven't been taking notes this time, but I have been surprised that things stick with me throughout the day and I've even looked up questions later. 

I've found this is the easiest the challenge has ever been for me.  That may because I'm used to it, this being my third time in a little over a year, or it may be because I have to sit and nurse the baby so often that it forces me to get off my feet long enough to read.  The latter is more likely. 

I was impressed once again with the important role we mothers play in the faith of our children when I realized that Caleb's father was not an Israelite.  He was a Kenizzite.  So Caleb's father was descended from Abraham, but not Isaac.  He was descended from Esau.  Interesting.  Maybe Caleb's father was a believer.  Maybe his father was also a slave in Egypt.  The Bible doesn't tell us, at least not that I could find.  But we do know Caleb's mother was a Jew and that Caleb, along with Joshua, trusted God to deliver the land of Canaan to the Israelites when the other spies were afraid and "leaning on their own understanding".  Caleb believed God's promises.  Caleb trusted in God's provision and protection.  Caleb knew the Canaanites were no match for the omnipotent God of the universe.  His mother must have had a formative role in training up Caleb.  God was so pleased with Caleb's faith and courage that Moses allowed Caleb to hand pick his inheritance (land for Judah) whereas the other tribes had their portions chosen by lot.  Interesting.

How's your reading coming along?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reach out and touch someone

Remember that old AT&T commercial that encouraged us to reach out and touch someone?  That's actually something I've been working on, and I'm not talking about making long distance phone calls.

I've been reading 3 great books lately, all on different topics, but all hitting on this theme.  (Could it be God's trying to tell me something?)  In Radical by David Platt he challenges believers to spend at least 2% of their time (about 1 week per year) sharing the gospel with others.  Two percent is so little, not even a tithe, but do we do that? Do we really spend 2% of our time sharing Christ with the lost?  Do we even spend 2% of our time talking about God, His mighty acts, His always new mercies, or His all-sufficient Word?

Dan Cruver says that "missional living is not directionless living.  Missional Christians daily fix their eyes on the climax of God's work of adoption- God's renewed heavens and earth."  (Reclaiming Adoption p. 14)  In other words, they live each day in light of eternity.  Or in the words of the apostle Paul, "redeeming the time".  (Eph 5:12a)

And finally, I've been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  This book is so what I've needed right now.  She's inspired me to slow down and live in each moment instead of hurrying and rushing through life, always onto the next thing, but never fully living in the moment that just slipped away.

Part of what I've taken away from these books is that I want to be intentional in my relationships with people- even those that I only brush up against in passing.  My mom and I were talking about this just the other day.  How do you bypass the small talk and cut right to matters of substance?  I have to reveal something of myself to you at this point, since you have no way of knowing.  I'm an introvert.  I mean I'm really introverted.  I used to say I wasn't a people person, until I realized how offensive that must be to God.  Not being a people person is not an option for the believer.  My idea of heaven on earth is reading a good book in a hot bath while drinking a cup of hot cocoa.  Then when that book is finished I want to read another one, and so on.  Let's just say that when I took the MMSE to prove I was sane enough to adopt, I was barely sane enough.  The shrink's exact words were, "for a woman with a PhD in a laboratory science, you're normal."  Oh well, at least I passed.  I mean, you're either crazy or you're not, right?  And I'm not.  All that by way of saying, this isn't easy for me.  I have to intentionally pull myself out of whatever thought is going through my mind, and focus on the person in front of me.

Yesterday as I was on my way to the grocery store, I decided it would be the perfect testing grounds.  The nice young man who was bagging my groceries was not unfamiliar to me.  He's bagged my groceries many times.  He's always interested in talking about video games and I usually ignore him while politely nodding.  Yesterday though I knew I had to break through the video game chit chat to something more meaningful.  Guess what?  God must have a sense of humor because once I got this guy talking about the Bible, I couldn't shut him up.  That's right, my big attempt at sharing the gospel with "the man on the street" had a surprising twist.  He's already a believer.  You know what?  I'm so glad to know that.  I really enjoyed our conversation and would MUCH rather talk with someone about God's Word than video games!  And his prayer partner is the other bagger that I've talked with about spiritual things (this one's a retired minister).  Maybe I need to find a different grocery store : ).

The point is, I really want to share Christ with others and I know this is from the Lord.  I'm excited about what He's doing in my heart and praying for the courage to be obedient to this all important call.

What are you doing to reach out and touch someone?

Now I'm off to that hot bath, book, and cocoa I've been waiting all day for.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Consecrating our homes

What does it meant to consecrate something?  The definition I've always been taught is that it has to do with setting something apart for God.  In A Church in the House by Mathew Henry (1704) he encourages believers to "proceed in the right method; first set up Christ upon the throne in your hearts, and then set up a church for Christ in your house.  Let Christ dwell in your hearts by faith, and then let Him dwell in your houses.  Let there be churches in all your houses.  Let those that have the statliest, richest, and best furnished houses, reckon a church in them to be their best ornament."  (p.74)

Now I know that consecrating our houses mainly has to do with how we use them- what we do in them- how we behave in them.  Is Christ honored in our homes by our words and deeds?  Is God's Word read?  Are the the Lord's praises extolled?  In short, is He worshiped in our homes?  Do we open our homes and hearts to one another in order to share Christ?

But having said that, we all do well to have visible reminders of the purpose of our homes.  I love having Scriptures about such as the famous declaration of Joshua,  "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  I'm reminded of the importance of the shema to the Jews and how they had it written on their doorposts.  "The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."  Deut 6:4-5  Really, the next part of the shema has been taken up by homeschoolers, myself included, as a sort of battlecry:  "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  YOu shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on  your gates."  Deut 6:6-9

Of course, it doesn't do any good to have God's Word on our doorposts if He isn't in our hearts, but what a great daily reminder to make loving God with all of our being and treasuring and teaching His Word our top priorities.

Li Quan and his wife in Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, use an empty chair as a visible reminder that Christ is always right there with them in their home.  If we are in Christ and He is in us, then He really is present with us in our homes!  It's one thing to believe it in some abstract, theoretical sense, but quite another to be reminded of it in a physical way by a tangible object.  In the book, their guest keeps wondering what in the world that empty chair is all about.  At one point, Li Quan pulls the chair up to the piano as he plays worship songs.  Finally, Li Quan explains the chair that his grandfather had made:  "... it became for him the chair of Yesu.  When others claimed to rule the world, it reminded him who was the true King.  But most important, this chair is a remembrance of Yesu's promise to always be with His children.  At every meal we have, we remember He is with us.  When we sit in the evening, when we go to sleep at night, we remember He is there, watching over us.  No matter what.  My father said his father, Li Wen, taught that Jesu was truly in the chair, that though He was everywhere and the chair was but a symbol, it was a very important symbol."  (pp. 278-279)

So about a year ago I asked a good friend of ours at church to do a painting of Christ's throne that we would hang above our fireplace in our living room.  This is the room of our house where we most often gather- for devotions and worship, for Bible study, hospitality, family fun, even homeschool.  Our friend completely surprised us a couple of weeks ago with the finished and framed painting and wouldn't take any money for it!  I love it so much, but even more I love what it represents.  He really is among us.  As believers, our home really is consecrated to Him.  My prayer is that this visible reminder will help us consecrate our words, actions, and very lives to Him, as well.

What do you think?  Cool or weird?  My husband stood back, looked at me and said, "I think you've got some Anglican in you.  They're into all that symbolism."  I love it and am so glad to have our family portrait replaced by the throne of Christ.  I want us to be God-centered in our home, not us-centered.  We need every bit of help and every reminder possible to live each day in light of the reality of the presence of Christ in our lives.  He didn't just die on the cross for our sins, He's alive and reigning physically on His throne in heaven right now just as He's reigning spiritually in and through God's chosen people, His church. Now that's what I call good news!

Did you miss me?

I missed you all!  My computer has been in the shop.  I'm not too happy with the results, so it may go right back in tomorrow.  Why didn't I just buy a new one?!

I tried reading your blogs and commenting from my son's computer when I could steal it away from him and his sisters, but I wasn't able to blog or upload pictures from my camera.  I have a few saved up to share with you.

Somebody got into the sports equipment closet.

You may  not be able to appreciate this if you've never put on a latex swim cap before, but it isn't easy. 
I can't believe this girl has been donning swim caps since she was a year old!  And goggles, too!

See how versatile she is- easily switching from sport to sport.

You know those moments when you suddenly realize you haven't seen your 2 yr old for 15 minutes?

Love that face!

These days Mr. Calvin is all smiles as long as he has some part of his hand in his mouth.

I think he actually got fatter in the two days between these pictures!
 So what have I been doing with all my time, since I haven't been blogging?

Reading, reading, and more reading.  Hopefully I'll post on some of my reading material at some point.  I've been so blessed and encouraged by these books that I want to pass them along to you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our $25 brownie experiment

Twinkle Toes has been learning about healthy eating this year for science using the book Nutrition 101:  Choose Life.  It's been a learning experience for all of us.  Yesterday she made some super healthy, super expensive bar cookies.  They called for organic carob chips, organic raw almond butter, and blue agave nectar.  I had to make a trip to Natural Grocers just to get the ingredients.  It called for an entire 16 oz jar of almond butter!  The verdict?  Not bad as far as taste, but my wallet took a hit.  Was it worth it?  Let's just say we won't be making them for our church fellowship this Sunday.  Maybe we can save up and make them again next month : ).  This healthy eating sure is a lot of trouble!  Are sugar and chocolate really that bad?  On second thought, don't answer that.  Ignorance is bliss.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stirring one another up- in a good way!

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  Hebrews 10:24-25

I never imagined when I started blogging that I would meet so many women who would encourage me spiritually.  Knowing you all has been such a blessing!

Thank you Amy at Mom's Toolbox and Kimberly at Raising Olives who first encouraged me to try the 90 day Bible challenge.  I'm doing it three times this year (Lord willing) and it really has changed my life.  My love for God's Word has increased to the point that I no longer have a desire for or feel like I'm missing out on anything on tv (not even the Duggars or Food Network.)  And I'm so excited that this time around my friends Debbie and Roan are also doing the 90 day Bible challenge and Kimberly's doing it 3 times, like me.  I need the accountability!

Thank you also Kimberly for introducing me to Jamie Soles.  We listen to his two Psalms CDs, Ascending and Pure Words, in the car every single day.  It was so fun sitting in church recently and seeing my 4 yr old's face light up during the sermon when he recognized one of the Psalms we listen to. 

Thank you also Debbie for telling me about the Colossians in a year memorization program through A Holy Experience.  I'm excited to be doing Scripture memorization apart from what I work on with the kids- it's been a while. 

And thank you Sonlight for introducing me to the Harrow family's Sing the Word CDs.  The kids and I have memorized whole chapters of the Bible like Psalm 103 and are working on Psalm 19 using their music.

And thanks Mom for having always encouraged me to make God's Word a priority in my life.

Who's stirring you up, in a good way?

I just had to leave you with a picture of Calvin from earlier today.  He's only 3 months old, but his size and hair make him look much older, don't they?  Love that kid!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The mystery of the missing socks, solved!

When reaching in to get some diapers out of my fancy schmancy washing machine,
I noticed something peeking out at me.

Look at that.  There's something hiding in there!

Aha!  Found you!

I wonder how long these socks have been hiding out in here.

Their mates will be glad they've been found.

In other news, today I remembered that Calvin's supposed to have some tummy time each day.  Yes, that's right.  He's my sixth child and I forgot until today that he's supposed to spend time on his stomach every day.  Great.  Now he's going to be behind developmentally.  Hopefully he'll catch up later. 

What do you think?  Is he enjoying himself?

Is it just me or is he really cute?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Super fast and easy and did I mention delicious taco soup!

The 4 Moms are sharing cold weather recipes today.  This one's our favorite:

Super fast and easy, delicious taco soup

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 packet mild taco seasoning
1/2 packet dried ranch dressing
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn

Simmer until ready to eat.  You can make many different variations of this recipe.  I've doubled it for a big crowd without doubling the beef.  I've used hominy instead of corn.  I've made it without black beans.  You can make it with ground turkey instead of beef.  Last time I even used ground deer since a friend had given us some.  It always turns out good.  And it's fast enough to make that I can throw it together in no time- especially when one of my trusty assistants opens all the cans for me.

Serve with your choice of grated cheese and sour cream on top.  I like to make corn bread when we have taco soup and some of us eat the corn bread in the taco soup while others of us like it on the side with honey.

Check out all the great cold weather dishes the 4 Moms feed their families.

Raising Olives
In a Shoe
Smockity Frocks
The Common Room

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Infertility as a national curse

A friend of mine wrote a blog post recently in which he talked about the blessings of obedience and curses of disobedience as outlined in Deuteronomy 28.  I added that fertility is listed among the blessings and curses- verses 4, 11, and 18.  If you believe that believing Gentiles have been grafted into Israel (Romans 11), then these blessings and curses still stand- at least as general principles. 

"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: ... Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land..."  Deuteronomy 28:15 and 18a. 

I wrote about our food crisis the other day, so today I'll focus on infertility as a curse. 

As a nation, we've chosen...

abortion over adoption

gay rights over the right to life

feminism over femininity

humanism over human life

materialism over motherhood

creature comforts over procreation

Where's the curse, you might ask?  The ironic thing is most Americans don't even see our declining birth rates as a curse. 

Who's going to fund our retirement?  Have you thought about that? 

Who's going to pay for our healthcare in our old age?

Social security is bankrupt.  In theory, it should have worked IF the workforce had continued to increase.  But, it hasn't.  If it weren't for steady rates of immigration, we'd be in serious trouble.

What about the church?  Is it any different than the world? 

The church in our country unfortunately resembles the culture.  It is not holy, or set apart to the Lord, but mainly looks mainstream.  The church endorses birth control, natural family planning, two household incomes, and all the -isms listed above.  Incredibly there are even churches that won't take a stand against abortion.

And as a nation, we are suffering for it, even if we don't know it yet.  We will.

Did you know muslim birth rates worldwide remain high?  Think about that for a minute.  So while Christians are having fewer children, muslims are having more children (same birth rates, lower death rates). 

But be encouraged...

There is an antidote to our sin.  Christ came to bridge the gulf between God's holiness and our sin.  Someday, those who are in Christ will live forever in the Promised Land.  Until then we are destined to live among the curse of sin.  The church, however, should be a glimpse of heaven on earth.  The church should be set apart for the Lord.  Let us be different.  Let us be obedient in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Calvin is 3 months old and his dad is already after me to cut his hair.

I mean, I get that his hair is long.  Every single time I take him in public, people remark on his hair.

But do I really have to cut it so soon?  I'm just not ready yet for sideburns!

Forget trimming above the ear, Big D wants to take the clippers to his hair.  He's talking buzz.

I can't stand it.  Am I being irrational?  I really love Calvin's hair.  He's just a baby.

It's not that his hair just doesn't bother me.  I really, honestly LOVE it. 

I think Calvin is the most adorable baby boy, ever.  And his hair just adds to his charm.

Someone at church asked me Sunday if we were going to wait until he had his first birthday to cut his hair.  They were just wondering how long it would be.  I don't know, but I'm thinking ponytail?

I did mention to Calvin that his daddy wants to cut his hair.  I don't think he was too thrilled.

He even looks a little offended.  I told him not to worry.  I won't let Big D cut it just yet.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Are we having a food crisis? Who's to blame?

My mom read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan a month or so ago and it's on my list, too.  My husband brought home Food, Inc. the other night and we watched it.  Are we having a food crisis?  My mom is on a histamine free diet so she can survive at night without taking drugs (histamine triggers allergic reactions, thus the class of drugs called anti-histamines).  Did you even know there's histamine in foods?  It's mainly the additives and preservatives she can't handle. 

Did you realize that not only are we having to fight superbugs in our hospitals (like MRSA, methicillin resistant staph), but that we're also fighting superbugs in our meat packing plants and chicken farms?  What are the implications?  Do we have to move out to the country and raise our own cattle and chickens to feel good about safely feeding our families?

What about corn?  Is it mostly genetically modified now?  Does that matter?

I don't have the answers, but one thing is painfully obvious to me.  The same culprit that contributed to both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the 1930s is causing this food crisis.  One guess.  Yes, that's right, it's our government. 

The Federal Farm Loan Act made low interest loans to farmers to encourage the tilling up of the land and the Federal Bureau of Soils proclaimed the inexhaustability of the prairie grassland.  That coupled with the increased efficiency of farming brought about by the invention of the tractor and other farm equipment meant that more land was being farmed than ever before by the 1920s.  Then as wheat prices began to fall at the end of the 1920s, farmers tilled up even more land hoping to make the same amount despite lower prices by selling more bushels.  Hoover decided government intervention was needed so he established the Federal Farm Board which pegged the price of wheat at 80 cents a bushel and cotton at 20 cents a bushel.  The Farm Board accomplished this price fixing by buying up huge quantities of wheat and cotton, which ended up killing our export of these crops since our prices were higher than world prices.  Meanwhile, all this turning over of the prairie coupled with drought brought about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. 

FDR arrived on the scene in 1933 on his white horse and along with the NRA immediately passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA).  According to Timothy Egan of The Worst Hard Time, "Free-market agricultural economics was over, for good."  (p. 133)  Here's how the AAA worked:  "First, some farmers would be paid not to produce on their land; second, farm prices would be pegged to the purchasing power of farm prices in 1910; third, millers and processors would pay for much of the cost of the program.  What's more, power would be centralized through the secretary of agriculture, who would set the processing taxes, target the price of many commodities, and tell farmers how much land to remove."  (New Deal or Raw Deal p. 60 by Burton Folsom, Jr.)  Due to the crop shortages encouraged by the AAA, by 1935 the US had become a major food-importing nation for the first time in its history and we're still reeling from the continued effects of the AAA.

Did you know that Mrs. Butterworth's maple syrup doesn't contain any maple syrup?  Did you know that it's made largely from corn?  And did you know the reason it's so cheap is because the government subsidizes the cost of raising corn to artificially lower its price?  Guess how much real maple syrup costs.  Ouch.  About 4 X more than the cheap stuff.

Again, I don't have all the answers, but I sure wish the government would butt out of agriculture and let the free-market determine prices.  Then maybe it would become economical someday for real maple syrup to compete against corn.  Groceries might cost more in the short-run, but in the long-run prices would equalize and we would have a healthier food supply.

Why is it that everything the government touches gets screwed up, but the government continues to stick its fingers into everything it can anyway? 

Are we ready for the government to take over our healthcare system next like it already has our food system? 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lessons from Leviticus: The salt of the covenant

I may have written about this before.  It seems familiar, but isn't that the way it is?  Some lessons have to be learned over and over again every time we read the Scriptures.

"And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering.  With all your offerings you shall offer salt."  Leviticus 2:13

It might seem strange to us that God cares about the smallest of ingredients withheld from or added to His offerings, but every detail is important and serves as an object lesson for a deeper truth.  Yeast was NOT to be contained in the grain offerings as a reminder of that first Passover when the Lord told them to be ready to flee Egypt quickly- there was no time for their bread to rise.  Also yeast is usually associated with sin in the Bible.  Sin is pervasive in the same way that a little yeast spreads throughout a lump of dough.  Again, I love the imagery. 

So, what about salt?  Why is it significant that our offerings be made with salt?  What does this mean?  What is the salt of the covenant?

Salt is a natural preservative.  It prevents food from spoiling.  In the same way that yeast is associated with contamination, salt is associated with purification.  Charles Spurgeon elaborates on this in his sermon entitled Salt for Sacrifice that he preached in 1887.  "We require a deal of this. Brothers and Sisters, if we come before God with holy things while we are living in sin, we need not deceive ourselves—we shall not be accepted!"  This reminds me of the truth that God desires obedience from us, rather than sacrifice.  He wants us to delight in doing His will more than offering sacrifices.  (1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 40:6, Hebrews 10:8-9)  I believe right here in Leviticus, the rulebook of the sacrificial system, is a picture of what God really wants from us.  Yes, He's telling Israel to offer sacrifices, but He's also telling them that the sacrifices are useless if they are offered in sin (with yeast) or apart from being pure (without salt). 

But, you might be thinking we're under the covenant of grace, we don't have to obey God.  Oh yes we do.  We're not saved by works, but saved for good works. (Ephesians 2:4-9)  Jesus calls believers to be salt and light.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."  Mathew 5:13

In other words, what good are believers if they look and act just like the unbelieving world around them?  Believers are to have a preserving influence on the wicked culture in which they live.  Our obedience should help to slow the rot in the world.  Remember that God told Abraham He would spare Soddom and Gomorrah for the sake of even 10 righteous men.  But, guess what?  There weren't 10 righteous in Soddom and Gomorrah.  There maybe wasn't even one.  (I think Lot was rescued for the sake of Abraham, don't you?)  This helps to explain the complete and utter state of immorality there. 

So as believers we must remember that going to church and paying a tithe, teaching Sunday School, or heading up various ministries mean little to the Lord when we're living lives of disobedience to Him, refusing to confess and repent of our sins.  It's easy to go to church.  It's easy to drop money in an offering plate.  It's hard to die to self and live for Christ.  God doesn't want the one without the other.

What about the covenant of salt?  In acting as a preservative and preventing food from spoiling, salt extends food's shelf-life.  This imagery when applied to the covenant God made with His people emphasizes the long-lasting nature of the covenant, as opposed to it being a short-term agreement. 
"My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips."  Psalm 89:34

So the "salt of the covenant" was an object lesson to Israel on multiple levels reminding them of God's everlasting promise to deliver His people and in return of His desire for their obedience. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A story of two breastplates

This morning I was reading in Exodus 28 about the priestly garments and for the first time the priest's breastplate really registered with me.

"You shall make a breastplate of judgment... So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually."  Exodus 28:15 & 29

Aaron, the priest, served as mediator between Israel and God.  The names of the 12 tribes of Israel were written on this breastplate of judgment that Aaron wore as a reminder that all Israel had sinned and was guilty before God, deserving His judgment.  As the priest or intercessor, Aaron bore that judgment for Israel symbolically during worship when he offered up the sacrifices Israel brought before the Lord.

Jesus is our High Priest.  We need no other mediator with God. 

"For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the peoples', for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself."  Hebrews 7:26-27  

And because Christ bore our sins before God and brought the judgment we deserved upon Himself, we who are in Christ no longer need to wear the breastplate of judgment.  Praise be to God, because of Christ's work, we are able to wear the breastplate of righteousness.

"Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness..."  Ephesians 6:10

Saturday, January 1, 2011

90 day Bible- Who was Melchizedek?

This is my 3rd 90 day Bible challenge and I'm amazed at the new things I see and ponder each time through.  This time I've been really thinking about Melchizedek. 

What do we know about Melchizedek?

1.  From Hebrews (5:5, 6:20, 7:9-11, 7:15, 17, and 21) we know he is a type of Christ.  For this reason I believe he merits further investigation.

2.  He was king of Salem.  (Genesis 14:18)Some say this Salem would later become Jerusalem.  At any rate, Salem means peace.  He was a king and not just any king, but the king of peace.

3.  He was the priest of God Most High.  (Genesis 14:18)  This is fascinating to me.  I've always thought of the priesthood originating with Aaron.  Melchizedek was a non-Levitical priest.  So he was a priest of a different order.  In other words, this Melchizedek was a priest who superceded the Levitical priests and operated in a different way.  The language of Hebrews stresses this distinction.  Melchizedek did not offer up animal sacrifices for his people.  And the name God Most High refers to El Elyon, further clarified in Genesis 14:18 and 22 as "Possessor of heaven and earth".  So this God Most High was the same God Abram believed and worshiped.  Interesting.

4.  His name, Melchizedek, means "righteous king".  So not only was he a king and a king of peace, but he was a righteous king, according to his name.  Starting to see why he's a type of Christ?

5.  No geneology is given for him.  Although Melchizedek certainly had parents, it's strange that they aren't mentioned.  He seems to arrive mysteriously and then disappear in an equally mysterious way.  Some think Melchizedek may have been Shem.  I don't know about that, but the fact that his geneology isn't given makes him appear to be eternal- with no beginning and no end.  This perception of Melchizedek is used by the writer of Hebrews to make him a type of Christ, who actually is eternal.

6.  He blesses Abram.  (Genesis 14:19)  We think of Abraham as being the father of our faith, yet here is one with the position and authority to give a blessing to Abraham. 

7.  Abram gave a tithe to him.  (Genesis 14:20)  Some say this is a "payment" for services rendered- for either the provision of food or soldiers, but that's not the language used.  A tithe is an offering, an act of worship to God.  Again, this causes me to think that Abram saw Melchizedek as a priest, a representative of God Most High, whom according to Melchizedek delivered Abram's enemies into his hand (Genesis 14:20).

Interesting, is it not?  When the writer of Hebrews calls Christ a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, as opposed to the Levitical priests, what does this mean?  I think it means several things that we learn from the characteristics of Melchizedek given above.

1.  Christ is King, He rules over all.
2.  Christ is eternal, with no beginning and no end.
3.  Christ is the prince of peace.  It is through Him alone that we can have peace with God.
4.  Christ is deserving of our worship.
5.  Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for our sins once for all.  There is no need for the continual offering of animals.

What do you think?  What are you learning as you read through the Bible?


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.