Tables in the Wilderness: A Book Review

What happens when you ‘find’ God, get ‘lost’ and then ‘find’ Him again? Author Preston Yancey proposes just that in this Advanced Reader’s Copy of Tables in the Wilderness. According to this memoir, Yancey grew up Evangelical in the South, Southern Baptist to be exact. He went away to college and ‘stumbled’ upon the Episcopalian church and began living in what he calls a ‘two-church’ lifestyle ever since.

So many of us have begun to ‘search’ our roots; test our beliefs in the Christian faith. With all of the tens of thousands of Christian denominations out there, why do you suppose we are all confused. As one traveling this path myself, (see story here), I was so excited to receive this Advanced Reader’s Copy to dig into. I have watched many ‘conversion/transfer’ stories, read many memoirs on the subject and it fascinates me as to why so many leave the faith/religion/denomination they grew up in.

While I am trying to remain unbiased, as this IS an advanced reader’s copy, I must say this book was very difficult to get into. It seemed to hop all over the place. I kept plugging through hoping it was just the beginning, but quickly became bogged down and had trouble ‘keeping up.’

Review disclaimer

Purposeful Ponderings: Trumpets

Feast of Trumpets

These have been a challenging couple of days! We are fairly new to studying about God’s appointed times, or ‘moed’ in Hebrew. We barely scratched the surface with Shavuot/Pentecost but felt drawn to learn more with the next upcoming time. And…in just our usual fashion, it was perhaps one of the hardest ones to ‘nail down’ accurately. Basing itself on the first day of the new moon, of the seventh month, and required eye witnesses. In Jerusalem. It has been a fascinating journey, though! It brings new depth and meaning to some of the things, including a parable, that Jesus talks about it Matthew 24-25! How prepared are we?

A really neat homeschooling/fellowship I am in as part of a member of Homeschooling Torah, was discussing the unknowns/Biblical calender/requirements/timing of the “Feast of Trumpets” mentioned in Leviticus 23. This has been so enjoyable, albeit a little nerve wracking, for me to figure out “what” to do. I’m a gal who needs a plan! Isn’t our Lord amazing? NO ONE knows the hour, and rightfully so! A friend in the group I mentioned, informed us that the verse referencing His saying, is a Hebrew idiom for the new moon. Perhaps most ‘fun’ was stalking Nehemia Gordon’s, (a Karaite Jew and Hebrew scholar/teacher), Facebook page awaiting the ‘witnesses’ in Jerusalem’s report. We were also watching a live webcam located at the Western (Wailing) Wall. They have been dancing, singing, chanting and praying there for two days now!

I was running in so many directions trying to figure out what to do, when two wise ladies in the group shared some really great information with us. With no more sacrifices, and no Temple to gather around, much less not being in Jerusalem, what’s a person to do? Well, our sacrifices include praise, worship, and Paul says that our bodies are living sacrifices and to be presented as holy–that is what is accepted by God.

We have lost so much by losing our “Hebrew” perspective of things; our ‘big brothers’ in the faith. SO MUCH points to Jesus. SO MUCH can be learned about Jesus, the time He was living in, His sayings and SO much more by looking into that mindset. Two amazing video ministries have helped me tremendously, after deep Scripture searching of my own. One is Passion for Truth Ministries and the other is 119 Ministries.

So while we see many people celebrating it on different days, at different times, we know for SURE how true it was when Jesus said “no one knows the hour” that He is returning. The parables of the virgins with the lamps remind us to ALWAYS be ready. So, for many, it looks like it will be a “double Shabbat” this year, with celebrating Trumpets on Friday sundown. May you have a blessed rest and enjoy meeting with God on HIS appointed time!! We can ALWAYS meet with the Lord, but how amazing that He has ‘special appointed’ times!!

Update: As me and two of the kids were gazing at the sky, looking for that sliver of the moon, my mind began to wander. Will we be looking at that sky as eagerly awaiting His return? While we are gazing up, we will be awaiting His arrival someday!!

Sabbath Ponderings: Bread of Life

 

 PicMonkey Collage

Excitement boils in the air most Friday mornings. My little 5 year old often pipes, “Today is the day to make the Challah bread!” Long become a favored ‘tradition’ around here, now I see how much more deeply these ‘new’ ‘Jewish’ traditions, remind me of my Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus). Would they know how far apart we had come from the early century of believers? Would they embrace this new zeal and love for our LORD? Would they understand that with God, there is NO Jew or Greek, and these things we do are because WE are grafted into Israel and NOT the other way around? Oh, my heart…I hope so! I hope each ‘new tradition’ we come across points us to the One who loved us SO much, that He came to die so that we may live in and through Him, reconciled to God. I pray that their sweet little hearts embrace Him more and more, wanting to live and love for Him.

Researching some of the ‘traditions’ of the meaning behind the Challah bread, I was amazed beyond belief just how much they remember Him. However, simply ‘remembering’ alone isn’t enough. We have to internalize those memories. We have to draw close to a very personal and loving God. For me, today, the meaning of the Challah bread changed entirely.

Suddenly, I saw the bread as a remembrance of Christ. In the tradition, two loaves are made to symbolize the two portions of manna in the wilderness. The verse, about Jesus being the bread of life, when read in context–He was speaking to His disciples about the manna in the desert. They ate this bread, but still died. When we ‘eat’ of His ‘bread of life’ we live…eternally.

Making Challah bread has several processes and requires patience–something my girls don’t like so much. You have to let the yeast froth, which takes all of about 10 minutes. Then, you slowly add the ingredients, kneading by hand for 15 minutes. Then, it is left to rise for 2-3 hours until doubled and finally, you ‘punch’ the air out of the bread before separating. Suddenly, the image of Christ, beaten and bruised for my sins, came rushing in. Each pull, each punch, each twist reminded me of what He had gone through for me. Seeing the bread ‘rise’ because of the yeast/leaven. This is usually seen as a bad thing in the Bible when referenced to the Pharisees, but today….I see it as the ‘leaven’ or ‘doctrine’ of the Messiah. The one who came to serve. The one who came to give me life. The one who gave it all for me….shouldn’t I give my all to Him?

 

Book Review: the stickyfaith guide for your family

From the back cover:

Nearly half of all young people raised in Christian families walk away from their faith when they graduate from high school. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: Parents are one of the primary influences on building a lasting faith in their children.

This isn’t the first time I have seen this quote…..nor will it be the last. Survey’s have been done and the statistics are there. My question I often ask is what percentage of those learn in hostile, non-believing environments (secular public schools and colleges for example), parent’s are too busy working to spend time studying with their children, or depend upon church leadership to ‘evangelize’ and ‘sharpen’ their children’s hearts?

This book lists many ways to create a ‘sticky faith’ environment for your children from Why to Communities, all the way down to Transitions–leaving home for example. I appreciate the ‘ideas’ in each section (differentiated by light bulb images), and ‘your family’ sections to help you search your family. The ending of each section also has a “Our Family’s Steps toward Sticky Faith” questionnaire, complete with 1-5 scales to rate some of your answers.

While the only book that holds up to 100% accuracy, and is ‘the’ guideline for life, home, etc. is the Bible, this book is handy if you feel you need something more ‘contemporary.’ SO many books are out there to encourage and guide you on this path, and perhaps that is one of our biggest challenges as parents.

While I occasionally enjoy books like this that help, many times I find it doesn’t really work for *my* family. I fear we have become an entertainment driven society and just the Bible alone isn’t good enough anymore. It was, however, good enough for my 85 year old grandma who raised almost a dozen kids. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I believe we need to get the whole word, in context, into our hearts and the heart of our children. God promises that His word never returns void.

Review disclaimer

Sabbath Ponderings: Day Set Apart

sabbath

Image from A Little Perspective

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.   (Colossians 2:16-17)

Interesting how in my NKJV, starting at verse 11, this section is labeled “Not Legalism but Christ.” Considering there were no subject headings in the original Greek, we created them for what we call ‘better flow.’ Not always true.

Since beginning this ‘new path,’ I have come across MANY testimonals and blogs that I enjoy reading. Many that I do not. Many people, including Evangelical Pastors, use these verses to tell us that these things, including Sabbath, are done away with. Hmm. With much prayer for wisdom and guidance, late late nights of studying with Strong’s and Thayer’s Greek New Testament Lexicon, and a hungry spirit, I hope you will allow me to share what I have found.

Starting off, the first thing I did was look in Strong’s and write down EVERY reference to the Sabbath in the Bible. I found 93 Scriptures in the Old Testament, but even more surprising is that I found 55 in the New Testament. Obviously this ‘day’ was a big deal.

Strong’s G4521- “day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself). The root means “to cease, desist”; the doubled b has an intensive force, implying a complete cessation or a making to cease.” Interesting enough, if you read all the way through to #11, you will find this note: For the first three centuries of the Christian era the first day of the week was never confounded with the “sabbath”; the confusion of the Jewish and Christian institutions was due to declension (a falling off or away; deterioration) from apostolic teachingWHOA! That is in Strong’s!! Not a Jewish book, not a Messianic book, not a Hebrew Roots book…Strong’s. The same book many Christians, Pastors, seminaries, and Speakers use for language studies!

How many times have you heard us say, “we want to be a New Testament church!” or an ‘Acts’ church…..post coming on that later……….

Being one who loves the word and loves languages, I can’t just let a word go without seeking out it’s ORIGINAL meaning. We often take words for granted. Yes, we have an English Bible, but it was written by Hebrew men, into the Greek language, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Phew…does that rattle your brain?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch……as I said before, these verses are often used as ‘proof’ that Sabbath, and the “Jewish” festivals/feasts are done away with. Um…read Leviticus 23…right out of the gate we are in big trouble. Who does God say Sabbath and the Feasts belong to? ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’ That is just in verse 1!!! They are HIS feasts!

Now, back to Colossians. Verse 17 has the evidence in question. These things are a shadow. Here is what Vine’s says about the word shadow in this verse: of “the image” or “outline” cast by an object,” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon saysan image cast by an object and representing the form of that object. So, they are a ‘shadow’ but the ‘body’ is of Christ (v 17). 

Just because it is a ‘shadow’ doesn’t mean that it has disappeared. When we think of Sabbath, we think of the ‘rest’ Jesus gives (come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest), and we think of the Great Sabbath Rest spoken of in the NT, which is yet to come. You see, a shadow serves a purpose, even when the body is already come. On a sunny day, you cast a shadow, yet you haven’t disappeared. The shadow looks like you, but it may be distorted–shorter, taller, etc. So it was with the Sabbath, or any of the Feasts of the Lord.

To *really* get to the heart of what I am talking about, and the Pharisees Jesus was opposing/the Judaizers Paul was battling, you need to learn more about THEM. How? Read the Talmud-a collection of ‘Oral Laws’  (online free here). They created 23 laws just for Sabbath making sure they did it just right! They ADDED TO God’s Word! Jesus said Sabbath was created for US. It’s a gift. It’s a good thing. They were using it to trap people, as well as to show how ‘holy’ and ‘righteous’ they were…on the OUTSIDE…remember Jesus’ talk with them?!?

To put it into perspective, with some humor attached, read this article on the Oral Law by Nehemia Gordon.

So where am I in all of this now? Learning day by day. I now see Sabbath, which is Saturday (7th day according to God), as a ‘date’ with the Lord. A day HE appointed and set apart. A day HE blessed. A day HE chose. A day ‘set apart’ unto Him. What does that look like? Whatever He calls me to. Be it rest, be it study, be it fellowship, or be it ‘serving’ in His kingdom…whatever HE chooses for me.

Be a Berean! Pray much for wisdom and discernment! Buy a good Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Get Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. Or, go to Blue Letter Bible and use all of these neat tools for free. Don’t just take everything that everyone says to you and make it your doctrine. Make the LIVING WORD OF GOD your doctrine. Finish what the Reformers started–they put the Bible into the hands of the common man–now we have the Holy Spirit and tools to understand the Bible for ourselves and not be ‘swayed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.’