Sunday, November 29, 2015

Jesus as Levitical offering

It's Christmas time, so our pastor has turned to Leviticus...


But as it started it makes sense leading up to the birth of Jesus. It's a book full of ways that the Israelites could be close to God, from thanks offerings to sin offerings. And then Jesus came and he fulfilled all those offerings at once and forever.

A grain offering was of flour, with oil and frankincense, and was an offering of thanks and submission to him as a ruler. It was a thanks for providing "our daily bread."

That's why we give offerings in church today. It's a way to worship, to thank him for providing for our daily needs, giving back some of what he has so generously given us.

The burnt offering makes sense when it comes to Jesus. Those offerings covered sin, just like Jesus' death was the offering that covered all our sins. But how does the grain offering point to Jesus?

Jesus is the bread of life. "This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me." This was unleavened bread, with no honey, so that it didn't decay. It was salted bread so it was flavorful and preserved. Jesus is everlasting and will fulfill our needs. He is our daily bread, and we are to feed on him and his word every day.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lessons from volunteer time

So many places and so many things could not be successful without volunteers, and everyone should see where their passions lie and get involved in those causes. It's so important to give of their time.

I work with volunteers in a lot of areas of my life, and I am a volunteer, and I've learned some lessons from those experiences.

-People want to feel wanted. It's that simple.

-It's OK if things are done differently than you expect as long as they are done. People go about jobs in different ways, and I shouldn't make people do something the way that I would do them if they get to the same result.

-We give 100 percent when we're paid. But does that mean we're not supposed to give 100 percent in paid positions? I see it with myself, that when someone is paying me I will put forth my best foot but that doesn't mean I shouldn't give 100 percent when I volunteer to do something too.

-People become blunt as they get older. I see this often, in a variety of ways, and I think it's OK. People learn how they truly feel, and they become unafraid to express their opinions and emotions. It's up to other people to take or leave those comments.

-Everyone is different. Even if interests overlap, all people are different, have different experiences, have different emotions and should be accepted for who we are.

-Sometimes the gruffest people need the most love, and if they see that they are loved, they can become your strongest supporters.

-Listen, don't always talk. Sometimes people just need to be heard and don't need your opinion.

-Accept mistakes and move on with kind reminders. We all need reminders sometimes.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Abram didn't want the problems in Canaan

Abram was given the land of Canaan.

If God gave me a house, I would be thankful and overjoyed.

But what if someone was already living in the house? What if there was a famine where the house was and there wasn't any food? Well, we might start looking for solutions to those problems, and we probably wouldn't just move right into the house.

That's what happened with Abram. Instead of immediately settling in Canaan, he kept traveling and headed to Egypt to find food. Maybe God had an amazing plan to provide for Abram had he stayed, but he missed it because he tried to solve those problems himself.

In Egypt, Abram also let his fear of the future lead him into sin. He lied about his wife being his sister because she is pretty and he thinks someone might kill him to get to her. He let Pharoah have his wife, and then he didn't have any way of getting out of this trouble.

God knew Abram had a mess on his hands. So he plagued Pharaoh's household. It says "God touched Pharoah so he couldn't touch Sarai." He gave Pharoah a disease so he didn't want to get intimate with her. He gave her back to her husband.

So Abram went back to where God had originally told him to go. He had too much stuff and have away part of his land to his nephew. And think about what he had to deal with from his wife after he gave her away to another man. Plus, Sarai eventually have her Egyptian maidservant --- who wouldn't have even been there had they not gone to Egypt --- to her husband so she could have a baby. There were a lot of issues that came about because Abram didn't immediately obey as he should have.

Sometimes we don't immediately obey. We question the gift of the house because it doesn't seem perfect. But if we just listen, God will work it out. And if we do make a mistake, we go back, go home and trust him to deal with the problems. He is so much bigger than we think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Good-bye to my vet

He was laying there in that same beige recliner that had been his for years. His head was tilted back, his mouth open, his face gaunt, his breaths like gravel.

I walked into the trailer and my grandpa lay there, but he wasn't the same.

He had hardly moved in days, water having to be squeezed into his mouth with a sponge, soaking his desert-like tongue and dribbling down his throat. But even that was too much. The inability to swallow that small amount caused him to choke, but the lack of muscle throughout his body didn't allow coughs to expel it.

I fought the urge to just walk away. I wanted to help, but it seemed like helping by wetting down his dry mouth was only causing him more pain. I tried to squeeze out enough water that would moisten his lips and tongue without letting it run down his throat.

He just stared at me. I could feel him watching me and thinking something, but his atrophied body wouldn't let him say what it was.

"I love you," I said.

His hand that I was holding moved. It hadn't moved in days, but it had something to say now. His dry fingers, just skin and bone, held my warm flesh tightly as he slowly took it and put it on his chest. Twice he tapped his scrawny frame, right above his heart.

"He says, 'I love you too,'" my grandma said from the next chair.

My grandpa's hand dropped back to the recliner, having used all of its minute strength to convey that last message.

I talked to him and prayed over him, and he stared back. Mom and I curled up on the floor and couch that night, not wanting to leave, waking every few minutes when we couldn't hear breaths being taken from his chair.

The next morning I said good-bye. I went back home only to receive a message the next day that Grandpa hadn't made it through the night. That truly was good-bye.

I think about this on Veterans Day, because my grandfather fought in the Korean War. He would tell story after story about his experiences if you just let him talk, but he wouldn't say a word if you actually asked a question. Even 50 years later, it was still too raw, too hard, too traumatic to conjure up those memories on purpose.

Grandpa never felt appreciated for what he did. Not many veterans do. However, at his funeral service, his casket was wheeled in by his beloved family. It was covered in an American flag, and he was given a 21-gun salute.

"He finally got the appreciation he never felt when he was alive," my mom said through glassy eyes.

His service was appreciated. His life was appreciated. His love was appreciated.

Even at the end, when he wasn't himself on the outside, I could still look in those eyes and see him looking back at me. He wasn't necessarily a man of love during his life, but I knew in those last moments he was.

So happy Veterans Day to my late grandpa and to all those who serve. We see you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Does your correction really help?

I started out the blog writing sermon notes, and something else caught my attention.

The pastor asked a question about who watched a certain TV show and said the name wrong. Someone piped up and corrected him on the show name. Then he said a date wrong, and someone piped up that he said the date wrong when everyone knew what he meant. The microphone went out and batteries needed changed, and people giggled and made fun of the guy who brought the pastor new batteries but dropped them.

Usually, church is a positive atmosphere and we let go small misspeakings. But once someone started the correction, it opened everyone else up to bringing up correction and a lack of decorum.

That's what happens so often. It just takes one person to bring up a mistake, to gossip, to laugh at something inappropriate and everyone else joins in. Kids get in trouble all the time when they feed off of one child who is misbehaving. Adults need to grow up and think about their actions too.

It all goes back to that adage --- if you don't have something nice to say,  don't say anything at all.