October 28, 2011
Yay — it’s Friday! It is nearly the freakin’ weekend, you guys. I think Friday is a good day for randomness, so let’s get our list on:
1. Last day to enter the drawing for the prize package of a book by Lauren Winner, a DVD by Ray Vander Laan, a vintage Hanukkah card and a gift card to Chick-fil-A! Make sure to leave your comment and tell your friends! The contest closes tonight at 11:59 p.m. MST.
2. How about those baseball-type people, huh? Crazy game last night, but such a good World Series! I’m cheering for Texas, mainly because every single time anyone on the Rangers does a good job, their manager jumps up and down and hugs people. I love that guy. He’s so cheery.
3. My friend Brad is having a Sabbath dinner tonight. (I didn’t even force him to do it; it was all his idea! I love when people get weird like me!) I am forcing us to light Sabbath candles, though, and to say the blessing in Hebrew. Which means I need to learn the blessing in Hebrew, right quick.
4. I am spending some time with my favorite young men this weekend (ages 5, 3 and 9 months). I’ve heard rumors that they always play quietly, get along, don’t jump off furniture, go to bed within five minutes of being asked, and never get up during the night. Or maybe I just made those things up. Either way, I’m looking forward to hanging out with my guys.
5. Do you all watch Psych? Shawn and Gus are my heroes — you know that’s right. I heard their latest episode was really funny, so I went to Hulu to watch it yesterday and it was not on Hulu. Excuse me, Internets site that I don’t pay for — where is the latest episode from the network I don’t pay for that I would like to watch without paying for it? Rude.
6. I found this on Pinterest. It sums up 1) awesomeness, 2) the horrible things I will do to my child if I ever have one, and 3) how I feel whenever I have to go to my Monday night class that doesn’t get out until 9:15.
7. Ahh, number seven. Numbers are very important in the Bible — not in a mystical, weird way, but in a way that helps us better understand what’s going on. Oftentimes they tell us something about the story — so, if you see a number in your Bible reading, don’t just skip over it. It’s probably there for a reason. For example, in the feeding of the 5,000, we see the numbers 5, 2 and 12. These numbers were all symbolic of Israel — there are five books in the Torah, two tablets of the Law, and twelve tribes of Israel. This event happens near Bethsaida, a Jewish town, and so the story tells us — through the numbers — that Jesus came to feed the nation of Israel. However, in the feeding of the 4,000, we see the numbers 4 and 7. Four was a number associated with Gentiles, and seven is a number of completion and wholeness. This miracle was done in the region of the Decapolis — where Gentiles lived. Now we know from this story that Jesus came to nourish the Gentiles as well.
These accounts are not the same story with a couple of authors who just messed up and got the numbers wrong. These are two different stories that share two different messages. Jesus, the bread of life, came to satisfy the hunger of the Jew and the Gentile. Salvation is available to everyone — Jesus is willing to share it with any who believe. Pretty awesome.
So, watch the numbers when you’re reading. Pay attention to the locations mentioned in the Bible stories. They might be trying to tell you something!
OK, have a good weekend, friends! Come back Monday and I’ll announce the winner of the prize package! Shalom!
October 5, 2011
Right now I have three whole hours where I don’t need to be in class or writing a lesson or in a car or in a library. (Let’s also pretend that there’s no homework to be done and no working out I should be doing. Let’s live in this sweet, little fantasy just for a few moments.) The sun is shining, there’s a nice breeze, the house is quiet, and I’m drinking a protein shake with fresh raspberries and almond milk. Restful. This is a word I don’t use often, but it is how I feel right now.
We have a mentoring program at Denver Seminary, and it requires me to make a character contract each semester. This past summer I felt stressed all of the time. I had a lot to get done, and it worried me. So this fall, I am supposed to be working on rest. I am trying to remember that it’s God’s strength that gets me through. I am attempting time each week to take a Sabbath. God took one. He told us to remember to take one in the 10 commandments. In fact, we are supposed to keep that day holy. Am I ever that intentional about a Sabbath rest? Never. But it seems very important to God; it should probably be important to me.
I heard a speaker the other day who was talking about God’s creation. He talked about the beauty and care God took in creating the world the way he did. He showed us how trees are a constant theme in the Bible — some provided knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2), we are to be like trees planted by the water (Psalm 1), Christ died in our place on a tree (Mark 15), and in the end, the leaves of the tree of life will heal the nations (Revelation 22). He talked about Job — when God finally responds to Job it is fascinating. God goes on and on about animals, the seas, the storms, the constellations. He talks with pride about his creation.
The speaker then went on to talk about the Sabbath. God commanded us to rest, to remember, to make the time holy. When we stop, as God stopped, we have a moment to notice what God has done. To notice his creation, his great works, the beauty he provided. Our God is a very creative artist, but in our nonstop world, we don’t often notice it.
In her book Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren Winner talks about things she used to do as a Jew before she became a Christian. Sabbath was her favorite — it was not a burden or a chore — it was a time of peace and noticing God’s grace. She writes about a friend who was explaining the Sabbath to a Gentile who was a bit annoyed by all the Sabbath practices — they seemed tedious and ritualistic. “Does God care if I microwave a frozen dinner on a Friday night?” she asked. The friend responded: “What happens when we stop working and controlling nature? When we don’t operate machines or pick flowers or pluck fish from the sea? … When we cease interfering in the world we are acknowledging that it’s God’s world.”
That is what I think Sabbath can do. It shows me that my stress and my worrying and my fretting are me trying to control God’s world. His plans and purposes will prevail, whether I get good grades or turn everything in on time or make enough money. God is in control.
So I think we should rest. If nothing else, we should consider it because God commanded it. And in that obedience, I think we might find that we’ll better remember that God is in control. Our God provided time for us to stop, to rest, to recharge, to recognize his holiness. He did it for us because he loves us that much. I think it’s pretty awesome.