Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The gifts of the tabernacle

Sometimes vacations include unexpected learning opportunities. I was able to have such an experience a few months ago. I learned. I felt in awe. I experienced an appreciation for the gift of Jesus. I started writing this around Christmas. I put it off...found other things to do. I then heard some things on the radio that enhanced upon the thoughts I'd been thinking. So I share, in a new year. A time we usually learn to refocus and make promises to ourselves to do better.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas. Jesus was born with a purpose of allowing us to be back in communion with God. On our own. Without a bunch of ritual, sacrifice or someone else (priest) bringing our concerns to God. We have the ability to pray and experience the Holy Spirit because that little baby came to earth and into our humanity.  

The trip was to Florida to help a friend relocate for the winter. We drove past a sign on the way to Tarpon Springs that mentioned Tabernacle in the Wilderness. We did some web searching and scheduled a tour. There were only 3 of us, but we received a tour that would have easily been expected for a group much larger. I could do a review of the site itself, but that really isn't the intent of this post. The post is more of a visual and reminder of the purpose of the tabernacle and how it plays a bigger part of the Bible and making it more real for me. 

We entered a rather unassuming (from the outside) building. The actual area of the tabernacle replica was (at first glance) similar to the inside of a large gym. However, when looked at closer and some was explained, we noticed the floor was painted to look like a desert. The far wall was painted to simulate mountains. The attention to detail was interesting and informative. 

The majority of what is written in the Bible about the tabernacle (tent of meeting) is in the book of Exodus. The Israelites (people of God) left Egypt. God served as their protection and what we could consider GPS by providing a cloud by day and fire by night that let the Israelites know when they should move or stay and led them where God wanted them to be. 

The biblical tabernacle was built to God's exact specifications of dimensions and materials. There were very specific instructions to Moses of what and how the tabernacle should be built. The priests were the only ones allowed IN the tabernacle. There were rules and laws of what the priests needed to do even before they entered the tabernacle. 

Throughout this time, even though the Israelites were able to see proof of the Lord, even they struggled with following the directions and laws the Lord made. They made idols. They rebelled. They wandered in the desert because even then they lacked faith in what God told them.

(The ark of the covenant contained the 10 commandments, the budding staff of Aaron, and a container of manna that God provided during the Israelites years in the desert)

Tabernacle in the Wilderness - Tarpon Springs FL website. The location also includes a large display of antique Bibles.

Hundreds of years later, Solomon was tasked with the job of building a permanent temple. Even in this temple and those that came after due to destruction, there was a curtain separating people from the ability of communicating directly with God. It was still the job of the priests.

1 Kings 6:37 (NIV)
The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. 38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.

Many years later, Jesus referred to himself as a temple:

John 2:18-20 (NIV)
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

When Jesus was crucified and gave up his spirit to death, the temple curtain was torn in two. It was no longer required that only the priests could talk to God for us. We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and the ability to talk to God directly on our own.

The gifts continue as we look forward to Easter and celebrating a risen King that led His people through years of wilderness, tore the temple curtain and enables us to present our thanks and needs to a God that knew we needed a Savior because we would continue to try to save ourselves.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Two Chairs

Life. It remains hectic. To my detriment. I get overwhelmed. My cup gets empty. I don't take time to build myself back up. I don't get enough sleep. I don't make it to church. I make excuses. Many. Excuses. But yet. I seem surprised when this happens. It is a cycle. Vicious. Unrelenting. Mostly in my head.


Sunday, I made myself go to church. I made myself "people" (get around people other than my immediate circle of family and friends). I had the nagging for awhile. Not really guilt. Or shame. Just feeling like it was one more thing on the to do list in my head and one more thing I couldn't/wouldn't do. Sometimes I feel like it is one more place where I will find I need/want to do one more thing that right now I can't. Or won't.


Then I get there. I am reminded why I need to go. I need to praise. I need to worship. I need to listen. I need to learn. I've been a Christian for a long time. I still sometimes hesitate to tell people. I'd like to think I live my life like it. Honestly, that's not enough.


There are still new things to learn. New ways of explaining that just seem to make more sense. Sunday was one of those days.

There are various ways to explain God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to someone that maybe hasn't heard, doesn't want to or won't acknowledge the possibility that there is: a higher power, a creator, God. One of the illustrations available is a bridge. That we (people) are on one side. God is on the other. Sin got in the way. Jesus on the cross became a bridge to let us cross the gap. (Sometimes search links don't always work the greatest so search: bridge salvation illustration if you'd like to see one...or many!)

At church on Sunday, there was another illustration...even better than a drawing. (This is a very abbreviated, observational description) I'll break some of it down with thoughts, etc. in another post.

Two chairs. The chairs face each other. The speaker* sat in one depicting us. The other chair was the "God chair". We were created to be in relationship with God. Facing each other. Not equal. But able to know God on our own. Sin entered the world and we turned our chair around with our backs to God because we wanted to see things from God's perspective. A bunch of rules, regulations, laws and communication through the priests became the way to communicate with God. God wanted more for us. He sent Jesus, his son. He lived, grew up, taught, was accused and sentenced to death. He was beaten, crucified on a cross, died and was buried. This. This, paid the price for sin and the curtain in the temple was torn and allowed us to speak to God on our own again. Our chair was turned back around. Three days later, Jesus was resurrected and lived on the earth again for a time.

We have the choice (freewill) to turn our chair back around to God. We can turn our chair around again, but turn it back. We can choose to never turn that chair around.

I will add: We can investigate further to understand more of what God will do for us if we do turn that chair back to Him. There are many resources available to do that. (https://leestrobel.com/ , http://coldcasechristianity.com/ are just a couple)

What Jesus did for us is called salvation. There are people that will think we never need saving. That we are not created. That there is not a Creator. That there is not a God. You may be one of those people.


Are you at least willing to take a seat?

*Thank you R.W. Young Life

1 Chronicles 16:23-24 (NIV)
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Friday, September 15, 2017

All day Every day 24/7 signing off?

Gather round boys and girls, lassies and lads and let me tell you something you may not be aware of. There was a time that television stations actually stopped broadcasting each day. There were 3, yes my dearies, ONLY 3 main networks. You might be old enough to remember. I'm stretching my memory muscles AND had to check YouTube to verify. The national anthem would play, our U.S. flag would raise, then there would be multi-colored vertical bars and a very annoying audio tone. I believe it was around midnight or maybe after the late night show....and then. Nothing. Until the next day.

Wow, maybe that is why sleep didn't seem to be as MUCH of an issue as it is now for me. The choice? was made for me. Turn off the TV or hear the annoying audio tone. The TV usually went off pretty quickly after that.

Fast forward to now when there are HUNDREDS of possible channels, let alone music stations included in cable packages. I don't believe any stations actually go "off" the air anymore. There are always reruns...and home shopping networks. ;) AND, just in case one cannot find anything on the actual TV, there is always the internet! Open. 24/7 for your viewing pleasure and convenience and sleepless nights.

While sometimes it is handy and even life-saving to have more coverage, as with weather for warnings, etc., even this can get taken to the extreme as every airtime second must be filled with SOMETHING! It is frustrating, and OK, often times entertaining/humorous to watch news people try to check in with each other as one stares blankly during the brief delay until it is their turn to speak or to not realize they are "on air". It is often painful to watch someone be interviewed that just lost their house or their child to an accident or, or, or......

"Can you tell us how you're feeling?" REALLY?!?!?!

Maybe that is part of the problem: we are so busy WATCHING that we forget about the actual important personal connections of family and friends. We don't get a chance to process feelings without a camera or microphone being shoved in our faces. AND that's only actual news people. Our cell "phones" have cameras and video capabilities that can record those moments too.

I started writing this even before the latest hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and now, Jose and wild fires. Too much water in some places....and not enough in others.  I cannot watch too much news coverage usually. I feel it too deeply and it affects my mood and attitude. I've learned to filter (for the most part) what I partake of.
I'm realizing I'm not so good at shutting it off though. I'm going to have to be responsible for my own "signing off". I have an alarm on my phone to "remind me" to go to bed. I often ignore it. Sleep experts would say no screen time an hour before bed. Ummm. There are often TVs, cell phones, lap tops, tablets, etc. IN OUR BEDROOMS! However, that is also a choice.

We can be kept busy 24/7 if we allow it. Time to be more aware of what I allow and choose. How about you?

Signing off. For now.

Psalm 25:5 (NIV) Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Food for Thought

Recently, I attended a conference with my parents. There was breakfast, some speakers, lunch, speakers, dinner...and fun. I did not attend the speakers....but I was there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. ;) There was good conversation and good food. The food was served buffet/cafeteria style. There were many workers keeping the serving dishes filled and the line moving efficiently. There were approximately 350-400 people for each meal.

I also know there were the behind the scenes workers. The cooks, dishwashers, and the clean up crew all helped to keep things moving and ready for the next meal. They were good at their jobs, helping when needed, and making it all look easy. People that are good at their jobs always seem to have this skill.

On the other hand, put me in a commercial kitchen and I wouldn't even know where to start. I might be able to muddle through to fill serving dishes. I know I would never make it as a waitress without spilling. I can barely (and rarely do) make dishes for my own little family of 4. I have a hard time coordinating dishes to come out at the same time so that the hot dishes stay hot and cold dishes are cool!

I've been to other events and watched food service workers move in coordination to get a large amount of meals served in a timely manner. I've been to conferences that served from a seeming mountain of boxed lunches to hungry conference goers. We are not always the nicest people when we are hungry and/or thirsty so this can be QUITE the job.

It made me think this particular time though....this is "just" about 400 people. I've read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. I also discovered in the Bible that this had happened MORE than once. There was also a time of 4,000 (Matthew 15)....just men AND then additionally women and children!

Food for Thought:

God will meet BASIC needs first and then deal with the rest.

God is a God of MORE than enough. Both times of miracle feedings there was extra left over. The 5,000 there were 12 BASKETS of food left from starting with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Hmmmm....maybe one for each of the disciples?

God can take a little and make it a lot.

God did miracles then and still does. 

God is OK dealing with doubters.

Bread plays a major role (ohhh....punny) in the Bible. There was manna from heaven, Jesus is seen as the bread of life, last supper/communion, in the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) Give us this day our daily bread

Were people really that excited to see Jesus, that they came without bringing food/basic necessities? Do WE get that excited to get into His presence?

John 6:35-40 (NIV) Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me,but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Taking Care of You aka The Dwindling Roll

I have read often during parenting and just for life in general that one needs to invest in "self care". That if you don't take care of you, who will take care of them? (and them can refer to children, parents, other family members, friends, etc) That you can't fill from an empty cup. That in case of an air emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.

I used to dread the term "self care". I'm still not real fond of it. However, if you are going to help others with their care, you deserve to give yourself at least (if not more) than what you are willing/required to give away to others. Yes. DESERVE.

BUT what does that look like? HOW does one take time in an already filled, overwhelmed feeling of a day FIND time to take? I have never been walking around when a yellow cup, air bag and strap magically appear in front of me making me aware or reminding me of the need to put on said mask before assisting others. Usually, by the time I remember or take notice, I am well into assisting others without putting on my mask first!

For the days you don't remember, I have found a reminder that will be in front of you every day. You will notice it slipping away as it is used up AND if like at my house, YOU will be replacing it when it is empty/used up. What is this wondrous bit of knowledge? Have you guessed?

Toilet paper!

DISCLAIMER: I am preaching to myself with this post as well as I am far from reaching where I should be with my own self care. However, journaling, blogging and support of others I'm finding is part of my self care. We gotta start somewhere, sometime. Might as well be here....and now.

In this example, we start out as a full roll. I purchase by the square feet on the package and MUST be 2 ply. Bigger rolls = less times I have to change it out!

Lesson: Start out in the best "big roll 2 ply" condition you can: good sleep, fully hydrated, fed, medicated (if necessary), exercise (if you can't find 10 minutes now, will you find it when you are sick?), listen to music to get you moving, find something that makes you laugh and something to be grateful for

Approaching used up, mask dropping phase. Time to be careful. Your spare a square is running low. Keep some for you! Try and avoid the desperate cry for more while in a somewhat precarious balancing act!

Lesson: NOTICE when you are getting used up. Time to have a spare roll available on back up (accept help if people offer. ASK if necessary). The more people that are counting on us, the faster we disappear. Use those last few squares (actually, real paper probably works better for this) to write down a list of activities that may not take a lot of time, but make you feel better. This list comes in handy for when you are entering the land of Overwhelm. You won't need to THINK of something to do on top of already feeling stressed out.

Uh oh! Empty roll. No paper left. The mask is swinging around wildly in front of you. Now what?

Lesson: DON'T feel guilty about getting drained/used up/overwhelmed. It happens sometimes without us noticing. We are slowly slipping away in the hustle and bustle of life. Don't seek an hour, take 5 minutes to sit somewhere and take a deep breath. Let it out. Repeat.

Notice it's time to replace the empty roll....and start the whole cycle again!

If you are here and you have not felt like a full roll in awhile, it is never to late to start doing things a bit differently to have a different tomorrow.

There are numerous resources about self care available online and books. If you can't think of some activities that will help, look some up to start a list.  Keep the list in a visible spot so when you can grab a few minutes you don't have to think of something that helps. 

Self care doesn't mean by yourself. If you have not "peopled" (been around anyone other than your child(ren), people depending on you), find a way to get out and about....especially if there is sunshine available!

Get out of the habit of saying there isn't enough time. We might be looking for a significant chunk of time and we should plan for those, but do not overlook the small moments of joy available in a day. I have learned to say that taking time sitting with a cat on my lap is lowering my blood pressure. ;)

Personally, my best self care is spending time alone with God. Praying. Reading the Bible...not a book about the Bible. I don't do it enough. When I do, I am never disappointed and always reminded that I do not have to do life on my own. You don't either.

1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Matthew 11:28 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.