Wednesday, December 31, 2014

News Year's Eve 2014

It's New Year's eve and I want to reflect a bit on the past year. We looked at Psalms, several prophets, Genesis, part of Exodus, 1 Samuel, and finished Isaiah from last year. That's a lot of territory for the year. Beginning tomorrow I am going back to the New Testament on weekdays and we'll keep looking at Exodus on weekends. This will take us from Matthew through Revelation by the end of the year. Looking forward to sharing The Word with all of you.

Personally it's been a trying year, my mom passed in March somewhat unexpectedly. We've had more than our share of family problems. My wife has health issues that continue to get worse and we've been fighting with insurance people for most of the year. But we are still on top of the dirt and I am still teaching The Word to children on Sunday and Wednesday.

Two parting thoughts I want to leave you with. We looked at the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread last weekend. I want to expand on that a bit. In this modern age very few of us cook everything in our homes, a Jew 1500 or so years BC would actually grind the wheat or corn to make flour first then bake bread. The prohibition of leaven or yeast was a representation of sin and it really is a good picture because of what it does. Moving ahead to modern times, a typical Jewish family that wishes to celebrate the Passover will spend up to a month removing all traces of leaven from their homes. A painstaking spring cleaning. Couches and beds are disassembled and vacuumed. Pockets of clothing are turned inside out, any nooks and crannies are swept as clean as possible to remove all leaven before Passover. Yet yeast is a tricky thing, it's all around us. The minute we walk outside we are exposed to wild yeasts and will unwittingly bring them in our homes. What a great picture of sin, I can spend days, weeks, months or more trying to clean all of the sins from my life but as soon as I walk out the door i am bombarded by those same influences, and as a fallen man will succumb. In the case of yeast and bread, those who bake can attest to this, should someone prepare a dough of flour and water with no active yeast but leave it unattended for several hours, it will begin to rise. Perhaps not all over but there will be pockets. That's because wild yeasts in the air have found it and are making a home. We humans can never get all of the leaven out of our lives but because of The God-Man, Christ Jesus sin could find no place in Him and He has redeemed us.

The final parting thought is on rituals. Do you perform any rituals that you do without thinking and if asked couldn't give a specific reason? I am asking this question because I recently had a conversation concerning prayer before meals or what most call 'grace'. I stated that I seldom say grace before a meal, except in special occasions, typically when with a group. To me it just seems like a ritual. The argument was made that Jesus prayed before meals, while this is partly true, there is no evidence that Jesus prayed before EVERY meal. There have been times when I've been with a group and asked to say a blessing, in those times I truly am thankful, not just for the food but certainly for the fellowship. And there are times when I've been asked not to or to not pray to Jesus. Good luck with that. One may say grace is to stop and give thanks, OK but what about giving thanks for the air and gravity and sunlight, and the thousands of other things? We could be saying prayers all day long, which is my point. We should be in a constant state of thankfulness. It's not a ritual or canned prayer that makes a difference, it's an obedient heart turned to God. If it's your desire to say a prayer before meals, that's fine, we all need to take time occasionally to see what is real in our lives and what's just ritual. May you have a happy New Year's celebration.

Today's workout.  Step, grapevine, burpee, windmill, jump rope, weight swing. 6 moves 36 intervals.

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