Exodus 27:20-21

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

For the next several days we’ll be looking at some detailed instructions I gave to the Israelites about how, where, and with what equipment I expected them to worship me. You may find it tedious. Just keep reading and consider why I thought this information was important enough to have it preserved for several thousand years just for you to know.

Exodus 27:20-21
20 “You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What do you think was the point of this lamp?
What does it tell you about me?
What does it tell you about you?

My Weekend Picks for 3-4-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I take great comfort in this truth…

The Gospel is for Older Brothers, TooMichael Kelley
boys-838221_960_720“The gospel is for those who turn their backs on their father and walk away and it’s for those who grudgingly nod their head in rigid but reluctant compliance.

The gospel is for those who know the fleeting pleasure and the consuming emptiness of the far country and it’s for those who know the never-ending struggle of performance in the back pasture.

The gospel is for those who wake up one day and say, “What have I done?” and it’s for those who lay down exhausted at the end of the day and say, “Look what I’ve done.”

The gospel is for those who come crawling back home wondering if they’ll be accepted and it’s for those who constantly wonder in the back of their minds if enough will ever be enough.

For all the younger brothers, the gospel is the refrain that says, “Welcome home, son of mine.” And for all the older brothers, the gospel is the refrain that says over and over again until by God’s grace we believe it’s true: “What are you trying to prove out there? The celebration has already begun. Come inside…”


I can’t help but wonder which side I will be on…

A Coming Evangelical Civil War?Alan Cross
A Coming Evangelical Civil War?“Will we see God as a “means to an end” of pursuing our own success and happiness in this life, which is basically Voodoo Christianity, or will we recognize that God is the end that we seek and His Way is better and we meet Him at the Cross where Jesus was sacrificed outside the camp?

Christianity is not about gaining worldly power and greatness. It is about dying to self and the world and being transformed by the sacrificial love of Jesus so we can be His ambassadors and proclaim and demonstrate that love to the nations that are broken and in need. But, unles we see this and can recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church and the martyrs and of the global missions movement, then we might possibly regain some sense of “greatness” in this world, but we will cease to be good and will ultimately lose our souls in the process.”


Election Day wisdom from Russell Moore…

Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?
Russell Moore
Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?“Can a candidate make promises about issues then do something different in office? Yes. Can a candidate present a sense of good character in public then later be revealed to be a fraud? Sure. The same happens with pastors, spouses, employees, and in virtually every other relationship. But that sense of surprise and disappointment is not the same as knowingly delegating our authority to someone with poor character or wicked public stances. Doing so makes us as voters culpable. Saying, “the alternative would be worse” is no valid excuse…

In the cases when I’ve voted for an independent or written in a candidate, I didn’t necessarily expect that candidate to win—my main objective was to participate in the process without endorsing moral evil…

When Christians face two clearly immoral options, we cannot rationalize a vote for immorality or injustice just because we deem the alternative to be worse. The Bible tells us we will be held accountable not only for the evil deeds we do but also when we “give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).

This side of the New Jerusalem, we will never have a perfect candidate. But we cannot vote for evil, even if it’s our only option.”


Funny how my perspective on this has changed over the years.
I admit to a few regrets in this area from my younger days…

The Thing About Old PeopleSteve Bezner
“If there is one common question I receive from young or new pastors, it is this: How do I lead the senior adults in my church?

I tend to say two things. First, you must genuinely love them. Secondly, you must realize that they have a great deal to offer you. That’s the thing about old people in your congregation: They are perhaps your greatest opportunity to be loved, taught, and appreciated—if you’ll only take the time to recognize it…

They love the church—perhaps (probably?) more than you do… I cannot forget this. I love my church, to be sure. But I do not have the time, energy, money, or sweat equity invested in her yet that many of my longest-standing members do. I hope one day to have done so, but until then, I look to them as models of how to love a church for the long-haul. Too many people come and go. But these people are heroes, and they are examples of long-standing faithfulness.”


Because, who doesn’t need 6 minutes of the Dowager Countess’s best lines?

 

Exodus 27:9-19

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

For the next several days we’ll be looking at some detailed instructions I gave to the Israelites about how, where, and with what equipment I expected them to worship me. You may find it tedious. Just keep reading and consider why I thought this information was important enough to have it preserved for several thousand years just for you to know.

Exodus 27:9-19
“You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side. 10 Its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. 11 And likewise for its length on the north side there shall be hangings a hundred cubits long, its pillars twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. 12 And for the breadth of the court on the west side there shall be hangings for fifty cubits, with ten pillars and ten bases. 13 The breadth of the court on the front to the east shall be fifty cubits. 14 The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. 15 On the other side the hangings shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. 16 For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. It shall have four pillars and with them four bases. 17 All the pillars around the court shall be filleted with silver. Their hooks shall be of silver, and their bases of bronze. 18 The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, the breadth fifty, and the height five cubits, with hangings of fine twined linen and bases of bronze. 19 All the utensils of the tabernacle for every use, and all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of bronze.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What do you think was the point of this courtyard?
BTW – Just for some perspective, a cubit is about 18″ so 100 cubits would’ve been half a football field.
What does this courtyard tell you about me?
What does it tell you about you?

My Picks for Thursday 3-3-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Yes, Downton Abbey ends this Sunday. In this article, Trevin Wax articulates a criticism of the show which is noteworthy…

One Thing About “Downton Abbey” That Really Let Me Down
Trevin Wax
Highclere_Castle_(April_2011)“A hundred years ago, the most popular tales and stories had to do with knights and battles and princesses in the medieval times. The point of those stories was not to pity the people who lived in less technologically-advanced eras, but to learn from our ancestors, to consider their morality and their actions and to allow them to guide us.

Downton never tells that kind of story. It’s like sitting down with your great grandmother and asking about her life as a child. And then, after she tells you her story, you walk away feeling smug and self-assured about how wonderful the world is in which we live today.

It’s one thing to learn Grandma’s story; it’s another thing to learn from Grandma’s story in ways that cause you to question your own.”


An important reminder…and exhortation…

My Current Convictions Concerning Donald Trump and Hillary ClintonRon Edmondson
image“I’m not suggesting you take down your political post or fail to speak out in truth. Yours may be the one voice which gets heard within a crowd of noise. I’m not even suggesting you don’t have your candidate in mind whom you are supporting. I would suggest, however, if you can’t share truth with love – it’s usually best not to share at all.

But, the point of this post is not to silence anyone. I embrace our freedom of speech. It’s not to advocate for or against any candidate. There are plenty of other posts doing that. What I am suggesting – and where I was convicted – is we remember our larger, perhaps more important purpose as followers of Christ. Prayer.

So for now I will pray. I will pray greatly. I will pray daily. And, may prayer never be seen as a lesser or a weaker response.


Don’t miss this short but powerful reminder…

The Orthodoxy of CommunityBurk Parsons
“The church community is not just a crowd of people on a Sunday morning; it is the gathered, worshiping people of God in a congregation where masks aren’t needed and where real friends help bear the real burdens of one another. Community is not just getting together; it is living together, suffering together, rejoicing together, and dying together.

Although many Christians claim to want genuine community, many want it only on their own terms, when it’s convenient, and when it demands nothing from them. What they want isn’t the church community, but a country club where they pay their dues for services rendered. They want to be served without having to serve anyone else. Real community forces us to die to ourselves and get over ourselves so that we might love one another as ourselves.”


The Hamilton Netflix account…
Source: Zits Comics

 

Exodus 27:1-8

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

For the next several days we’ll be looking at some detailed instructions I gave to the Israelites about how, where, and with what equipment I expected them to worship me. You may find it tedious. Just keep reading and consider why I thought this information was important enough to have it preserved for several thousand years just for you to know.

Exodus 27:1-8
“You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits[a] long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits.
And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. And the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles are on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What took place on this altar?
Why?
What does this altar tell you about me?
What does it tell you about you?

My Picks for Wednesday 3-2-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Important stuff for American Christians here…

We Must Not Play by Majority RulesCollin Hansen
Lightstock“As a holy people in exile, we see much in the majority that grieves us. We long for our neighbors to forsake their sin and turn to Christ for their temporal and eternal good. We pray for wise government leaders and the blessing of common grace. We even vote and lobby for just laws. We do not expect, however, that coercion is the primary way to accomplish good. In fact, history tells us the political process often distracts us from the work of the church to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach his disciples in every nation to observe everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19–20). Minorities like the early church did not win their neighbors through domination or duplication but through difference and depth…

…The choice before us now as Christians is stark. We are a minority. We must not pretend to be a majority. On the one hand, accepting this fact will enable to church to protect our distinctive testimony to the gospel. Never before has it been so clear to American evangelicals that to think and act like a majority corrodes our faith. For the assurance of military protection and political preference we must not forsake our witness to a Savior who died for his enemies.

On the other hand, accepting this minority status entails risks to our safety and security. It means we will work to the good of our neighbors even though we cannot expect them to respect or reinforce our values. We cannot merely dictate the common good but must seek allies where they can be found as we model a better way to human flourishing and proclaim the only path to eternal peace.”


This question has been tackled by a number of people but I like how this gets to the heart of the matter with a few important questions…

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?
A Brief Reflection
Austin Brown
http://gentlereformation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/coexist.jpg
“The problem here is the desire to build upon perceived ambiguities so as to construct a viewpoint that downplays key differences between Islam and Christianity.

Those of a more liberal mindset don’t want hard edges.  They want Muslims to go to heaven as Muslims.  This, it seems to me, is the impetus behind the question.

So let’s not start there.  Let’s ask other, more relevant questions; the kind of questions that readily dispel ambiguities…”


Absolutely stunning images here…

Scott Kelly’s Year in SpaceEmily Fortier
“NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is scheduled to return to Earth tonight after a 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station, where he participated in research on how the human body reacts and adapts to long-duration spaceflight. He also captured views of our planet that unify science and art, sharing them on social media for the earthbound to follow. Even President Barack Obama kept an eye on Kelly’s accounts, asking him on Twitter, “Do you ever look out the window and just freak out?” to which Kelly replied, “I don’t freak out about anything, Mr. President. Except getting a Twitter question from you.” Abstract and out of this world, here’s Earth from an astronaut’s perspective.


 

What would we do without you, Sean?
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/bz-panel-02-25-16.jpg
Source: Bizarro

Exodus 26:1-37

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

This is a little longer than most days, but take a few minutes and do more than just read the words. Do your best to visualize what is being described…

Exodus 26:1-37
“Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them.
The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits,[a] and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall be the same size. Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set. Likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outermost curtain in the second set. Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole.

“You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains shall be the same size. You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. 10 You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set.

11 “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that it may be a single whole. 12 And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. 13 And the extra that remains in the length of the curtains, the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. 14 And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and a covering of goatskins on top.

15 “You shall make upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 17 There shall be two tenons in each frame, for fitting together. So shall you do for all the frames of the tabernacle. 18 You shall make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side; 19 and forty bases of silver you shall make under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons; 20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side twenty frames, 21 and their forty bases of silver, two bases under one frame, and two bases under the next frame. 22 And for the rear of the tabernacle westward you shall make six frames. 23 And you shall make two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear; 24 they shall be separate beneath, but joined at the top, at the first ring. Thus shall it be with both of them; they shall form the two corners. 25 And there shall be eight frames, with their bases of silver, sixteen bases; two bases under one frame, and two bases under another frame.

26 “You shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle, 27 and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the side of the tabernacle at the rear westward. 28 The middle bar, halfway up the frames, shall run from end to end. 29 You shall overlay the frames with gold and shall make their rings of gold for holders for the bars, and you shall overlay the bars with gold. 30 Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain.

31 “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 32 And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. 33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. 34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 35 And you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table, and you shall put the table on the north side.

36 “You shall make a screen for the entrance of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. 37 And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them with gold. Their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five bases of bronze for them.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Today I suggest you carry the image of this place of worship in your mind. Visualize the colors, the detail, the layout and consider:
What does this structure tell you about me?

My Picks for Tuesday 3-1-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Confessions Of An Inconsistent, Terrible Bible Reader
David Santistevan
CONFESSIONS OF AN“It’s not that I woke up one morning and said, “I’m finished with reading the Bible. It’s not helpful. I can figure things out on my own.”

Most of us don’t say that. It’s more of a slow decline as responsibilities and stresses pile up. As our to-do list grows, meditating on Scripture feels like more of a waste of time, sadly…

God, protect me from being a worship junkie who jumps from song to song, concert to concert, experience to experience without personally knowing the God who gives me life.

Take away the entertainment for a time. Take away the fluff. Give. Me. Jesus.”


A Lot of PeopleDanny Franks
“According to the polls, a lot of people like Donald Trump.

You’ve heard of him, right? Real estate mogul. Reality TV star. Hair icon. Trump’s rise in popularity has single-handedly managed to bewilder the free world: “Why is this a thing?” “Is this really happening?” “CAN SOMEONE GET ME THE NUMBER OF A CANADIAN REALTOR?”

The only thing is, I can’t point to a single friend / acquaintance / distant stranger who would admit (at least out loud) that they’re a Trump fan. Just this weekend I saw my first ever Real Life Person wearing a Trump t-shirt. At first I assumed it was a joke, but before I could say, “Haha…nice outfit!” I decided that maybe that person was serious and maybe it was better for me to move to the other side of the street.

But if the news is to be believed, a lot of people like the guy. A lot of people are pulling for the guy. A lot of people love the guy.

And at the risk of taking a political stand, I’ll come right out and say it: just because “a lot of people” think it’s a good idea, that doesn’t make it a good idea.


When Character Was KingGlenn Packiam
https://mysteryoffaithblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/img_0211-1.jpg
“The Kingdom of God does not arrive through political machinery. Christians, it seems, are always choosing the lesser of two evils. Our goal is not “changing culture”; and our instrument is not “cultural power”. Our goal is to faithfully bear witness to the arriving Kingdom of God, which Jesus the Messiah inaugurated by His life, death, and resurrection, and which will culminate at His return and reign. Christians, therefore, are not necessarily looking for the best Christian as president.

And still: Christians of all people should understand how good it is for everyone when Character is king.

Think of what our sons and daughters will remember about the people we admire.”


Election 2016…
Cfa619a0bbca0133417a005056a9545d
Click image for larger version. Source: Pearls Before Swine

Exodus 25:31-40

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Exodus 25:31-40
31 “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, 35 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand. 36 Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it a single piece of hammered work of pure gold. 37 You shall make seven lamps for it. And the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. 38 Its tongs and their trays shall be of pure gold. 39 It shall be made, with all these utensils, out of a talent[a] of pure gold. 40 And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Take a moment to try to visualize what I’m describing.
Why do you think I’m being so specific?
How valuable do you think this thing is?
What are my specific expectations for your worship?
How valuable is it?