How do I read through Leviticus?

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Do you have difficulty reading through certain books of the Bible?

Here is my short-list:

  • Revelation
  • Ezekiel
  • Some of the minor prophets (about 9 out of 12…)
  • Parts of Exodus
  • Leviticus

Prophetic books containing apocalyptic language are an obvious challenge. It takes research into the symbolism, a knowledge of the historical time frame, and a good hard look at the context. You can’t just glide through them like you do through the Psalms or Proverbs where the meaning is obvious and the verses highly quotable.

The book of Leviticus is not apocalyptic, it’s laborious. Twenty-seven chapters overflow with detailed rules, regulations, and instructions. It’s a bit like reading the United States Tax Code, only it makes abundantly more sense.

If you are in the midst of your daily bible reading and find your eyes glazing over Leviticus, try the following: Continue reading

Bible Teaching Tips. (Tip #1)

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Today’s teaching tip is one I find helpful when teaching children and those who may not be very familiar with the Bible. Are you ready? Continue reading

Sharpening Christians

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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What happens when you use a knife repetitively? Over time, the blade starts squishing tomatoes instead of slicing them.

Pencils need sharpening. Pens need refills, drills need charging. Tools have to be maintained in order to be effective.

In a similar way, we are instruments of God. Are we sharpened, filled, and charged for action? Or, are we gunked up, run down and dull? Continue reading

Converting Converts into Strong Christians

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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Water rolled down her cheeks as she was lifted from the cool water. A thrill of joy sang within her. Her sins were gone! She was no longer lost! She wished Jesus would come right at that moment so she wouldn’t mess up this new life into which she was entering. After drying off, she re-entered the auditorium where a small crowd was waiting to hug and congratulate.

One older lady, embraced her tenderly and said, “The angels in heaven are rejoicing for you, dear.”

Yes, the angels were rejoicing! “And so am I!” she thought.

Two weeks later, the same girl lay curled up on the floor of her bedroom crying. Continue reading

No tests?

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The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

~ Proverbs‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My children have taught me a great deal about parenting. For instance: when I was a starry-eyed parent-to-be I said things like, “I’ll never yell at my children. I’ll never say, ‘because I said so.’ My child will never do that.”

Are you chuckling yet? I certainly am.

My children have been great instructors in humility. I have been tested repeatedly. Sometimes I fail. Being a parent has provided insight into how our Heavenly Father looks at us. To Him, we are like growing children—lovable, learning and fallible. He extends us grace when we fail and trains us that we might be better equipped for the challenges ahead.

About 6 weeks ago, my child had to write a short blurb for school about what she’d do if she were president. (I had no idea that she had socialist tendencies…)

I chuckled to myself when I read the line: “there would be no tests.” In many ways, I can’t blame her for hating tests—the schools make them take heaps more tests these days than I ever took at her age!

Testing is an excellent way of gauging comprehension and retention. As much as I hate giving and taking tests, they are necessary and not a “necessary evil.”

When God tests me, I don’t often recognize it as such. Mostly, I wonder why such-and-such is happening to me instead of looking at it as a growth opportunity. I ask “why”; I long for it to end; I wonder  what I did to deserve it. When I think this way, I am looking at the situation like my 8-year old: “if I were in charge…there wouldn’t be any tests!”

God, being the loving, omniscient Father that He is, longs for us to have luxurious spiritual blessings, not cheap dollar-store gifts. Becoming like Him and desiring the greater, more heavenly gifts requires testing—can we handle the gifts he wants to give us?

My 6-year old wants to have a jeep when she turns 16, so we have a 401-daddy plan: for every dollar she saves, we’ll match her dollar. She has to commit to putting a minimum of $2 per week into the fund if she wants to meet her goal within the next 10 years. You know what? She’s been doing it! She’s also found ways to earn extra money. Who do you think will be getting more advanced testing in money matters? This little one who already has an aptitude for it! Her older sister gets commission and it burns a hole in her pocket. Her tests are more basic—can you divide your money properly? Can you refrain from touching your gifts envelope when you want something? Can you keep yourself from dipping into your savings? Are you willing to work a little harder?My 6-year-old already tested out of that and is on to bigger things. It doesn’t make one child better than the other—they simply have different skill sets. It’s my job to hone those skills and improve the ones they struggle with.

In the same way, God tests and trains us. He does not tempt us—there’s a big difference. Satan tempts us so that we will fall deeper into his clutches. God tests us to lead us on to greater things.

People used to say this often: “Don’t pray for patience. God will make sure you get all the practice you need.” There is a certain degree of truth to that statement. I’ve prayed for patience and then 5 minutes later had to deal with behavior from my children that demanded “the patience of Job!”

God does not foist attitudes upon us; we have to learn them. When we request things like patience, contentment, or self-control, He will help us by providing opportunities to learn. If we work with God, we’ll learn faster. If we resist, we have to constantly be retested.

I’ll say it one more time: testing and tempting are not the same. Satan tempts with the intent to destroy. God tests with the intent to refine.

Are you taking a test right now? I’ve got some great news for you: God allows us to take open-book tests! If you don’t know what He expects from you, use His Word as a reference. If you aren’t sure of the answer, you can raise your hand in prayer.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

~ James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Day 26: Lights

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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We have a fun family tradition that the kids look forward to every year—decorating for Christmas.  The day after Thanksgiving, we pack away the pumpkins and leaves and pull out the reds, silvers, greens and golds of Christmas.

I try to get everyone just as jazzed about decorating for fall, but it just isn’t the same. Fall decorations lack the warm glimmer of lights. There aren’t presents for fall either (unless, of course, it’s your birthday).

There’s just something about Christmas.

Right now, I’m gazing at our tree that is somewhat bottom-heavy with ornaments. It was fun listening to the kids chatter about memories associated with their ornaments as they placed them randomly about the tree. It’s not a Pinterest-perfect tree, but I’m glad it isn’t. It’s our tree, full of our memories. I love the warm glow of the lights and the way they soften the living room.

Outside the house, the facia is lined with a simple string of multi-colored lights inside large bulbs. Simple. Warm. Inviting.

I am thankful for lights.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

~ Genesis 1.3-5, ESV

There is the God-created light of the Sun and the beautiful hues it creates in the early dawn and early twilight. I love those times of the day all year round. The starlight gives a soft glow even on the darkest of nights and has guided many a sailor to safety.

There are man-made candle lights and oil lamps. What would we have done throughout history without the ability to light our way at night? I suppose we would have slept more… and accomplished less!

Then, there are the Edison-created lights. I am thankful that I don’t have to attempt writing by candlelight. Isn’t it wonderful that we can just flip a switch and have light? Talk about a blessing we take for granted!

As the season is lit up around us, be sure to thank the Lord for giving us light. In my final two thankfulness posts, I’ll be touching on the greatest lights of all. Stay tuned!

Day 25: Thanksgiving

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you are all enjoying the day with people you love.

I first heard the term “Turkey Day” in High School. While I thought it amusing (initially), I soon realized that it was problematic. Words carry meaning, even lightly used words. By not using “Thanksgiving” the focus and purpose of the day was lost.

I am glad that George Washington proclaimed that our new nation should observe a day of  Thanksgiving in 1789. The idea was to recognize God’s bountiful blessings on our infant nation. He set a precedent. It wasn’t made a national holiday until several years later, but we have continued to observe it throughout the decades.

When God established the Passover for the children of Israel, the idea was similar: remembering deliverance from slavery. Thankfulness. Gratitude. It was supposed to be observed down through the years so that they could instill gratitude in their children and trust in the Lord.

Today, as you gather with family and friends, take a few moments to remember what the Lord has done for you. Give thanks to the one who gives us so many bountiful blessings, not the least of which is salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!

His steadfast love endures forever.

 

Day 24: History

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I did not have internet yesterday and was unable to get my post up. You’ll be getting TWO posts today: yesterday’s and today’s!


 

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One of the greatest failures of our current public school system is the adequate teaching of history. I don’t recall learning much history in elementary school. We learned about the gold rush of California, the Spanish missions, the Mayflower and Christopher Columbus. I remember vaguely learning about Ancient Mesopotamia in sixth grade. In High School we learned about the industrial revolution, Napoleon, the french revolution, the kings and queens of England, Russian Czars and more. It seems to me that in every single year of school we learned about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement of the 1960s—-not that it was unimportant, but it seemed as though it was the only bit of history that mattered to the school system.

I remember being on a walk with my dad during our study of France and he asked me, “Did they teach you about the June rebellion of 1832?”

“No…” I replied, a little uncomfortably.

He continued to pepper me with questions and I had few to no answers. I realized then how woefully ignorant I was about history. In eleventh grade I took AP US History. It was a joke. My teacher, while passionate about history, didn’t have a clue how to teach it. I learned as much as I could outside of class, but I was grossly underprepared for the exam. I failed the AP exam, which meant I had to take American History in college.

So, around my junior year at Cal Poly, I took a U.S. History course. Once again, I was let down. The professor was teaching a more modified history of the United States and focused more on social injustice than anything else. Oddly enough, I was reading one of the books and it sounded a great deal like the republican talking points of the present… but it was written in the 1960s. I told my dad about it. He chuckled and said the guy was a democrat in the 1960s, but our country had veered so much to the left that the conservatives were now where the liberals used to be and the liberals were now where the socialists used to be. I scraped an A in the class, but my piecemeal knowledge of history frustrated me greatly.

The curriculum we currently use for our kids starts incorporating history at the kindergarten level. My daughter, a first grader, is learning about Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt and in the next semester will be covering Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I have learned a ton just by reading the books to her. We have an enormous canvas map hanging in our living room and my 4 year old can already point out the Himalayas, the Andes the Equator and China. I love that they have such a better feel at such a young age for geography and history than I did at that point in my life. I am looking forward to continuing to teach them about World History and Bible History. I get to learn right along side them. The curriculum also uses historical fiction books to bring each period to life.

I was fascinated to learn about Alexander the Great and the spread of the Greek language all the way to India. When Jesus died and the apostles began teaching the gospel and writing letters, the manuscripts were predominantly written in Koine Greek. This language was used not only in Rome, but in other parts of the world as well, allowing the gospel to spread more easily.

History is so vital to all people of the world. It angers me how often people try to distort it or erase it. ISIS has destroyed or defaced many Ancient Mesopotamian sites. The former Iranian president was a holocaust denier. There’s been a push to rewrite United States History. We are foolish to try to alter history and even more foolish if we fail to learn from it.

I am thankful that General Eisenhower told his troops to take tons of pictures of the German Concentration camps so that people wouldn’t forget the atrocities that man was capable of.

I am grateful that someone had the foresight to keep Manzanar in place on US Highway 395, so we would remember that we interned the Japanese during World War II.

The National Archives in Washington D.C. hold many of the original founding documents of our country. I am thankful for such a place that keeps our history alive.

I am thankful for biographies because not only do they document the life of an individual person, but they touch on the historical atmosphere swirling around that person and how they impacted it.

I am not a history buff, but I am grateful for history and all the men and women who documented the past. History tells us where we’ve been and gives us insight on human nature, the cycles of nations and the hand of God.