Wednesday, February 27, 2013

People grow up

I thought a lot about patience today, as I walked my dog. She's going to be one year old in just a couple of weeks. I have no idea how many times I've walked her up and down our road in that year, but it's been many, many, many times. Probably close to 250 times, since I walk her 4-6 days a week.

It's so important for her, that walking time. It's important for me, too. It's a time of bonding, of learning about each other, and about the world of our little road.

It's taken me nearly 9 months to teach Reya to walk on a leash with me - or maybe it's taken me that long to learn how to teach her. When we began - the second day I owned her - she was afraid, and unsure of everything. The leash was new. This big, scary black pavement was new. The cars were monsters. She tiptoed behind me, sitting down on her little furry bottom every few steps and looking at me as if I was crazy for wanting to be out in this big, scary world.

I didn't want to frighten her more by coaxing, so I waited patiently (most of the time) for her to decide to get up and follow me again. I used dog talk - body language - to convince her that everything was all right. I pretended I didn't have a care in the world. I pretended I didn't notice that she was afraid. I hoped she'd pick up on my unspoken message. It took several weeks, but as she adjusted to our family and our environment, the road was no longer quite so scary. She would trot behind me fairly confidently, only sitting down occasionally.

Then Reya began to discover her nose.

She had a nose! God had given her a wonderful nose, and - look! - He had put all these wonderful smells in the world! There was something in the ditch! There was something in that mud puddle! There was something over there, in that driveway....

She wanted to go everywhere and smell everything. She'd walk contentedly enough with me until her nose touched the pavement and she picked up a scent. Then - whoosh! - she was off to find the source of the smell. ...Until the leash stopped her.

Walking Reya began to be quite a task. I would come inside every morning with sore arms, and blistered - sometimes bleeding - fingers, where the leash had rubbed them raw. I determined not to "choke" my dog into walking beside me - the leash is for corrections, not the steering wheel - but continual corrections left me drained and discouraged. Would she ever learn? I marched up and down the road every morning, tense and upset, face straight ahead, correcting my dog with the leash every few steps, swallowing down the lump in my throat and calling myself all sorts of names for not being able to handle my own dog, and crying silently every time I had to hurt her a little to correct her. I despaired over ever being a good mother some day - if I lost my temper over my dog, how could I mother children?!

I've heard the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, so, based on that definition, I suppose I was being stupid. I needed to try new teaching tactics.

Eventually I got the point, and I began to try different ways of walking her. The first change was huge.

Before I got a dog, I walked a mile or two every morning by myself, and I didn't like the loneliness. I pictured my dog and I exercising together every morning - her trotting submissively by my side. This new puppy didn't want to stay by my side, and she grabbed the leash to play tug-of-war every time we started to run. Instead of a profitable exercise time, I had to stop every few seconds and correct her, or drag her away from cat poo. How was I supposed to get my heart rate up for decent cardio, if I had to stop every few feet? And how were we supposed to walk a mile in 15 minutes if she didn't behave? 

My first change was a change in attitude and priority. This wasn't about me getting my morning mile in. This was about teaching my dog, and I would take it as slow as I needed to, and stop as many times as I needed to until she learned. I knew it'd pay off in the future. I turned off the internal stop watch in my head.

As I did so, I thought about all the times I've heard older mothers advise younger mothers; "just slow down and let your children be a part of your life. Take the time to teach them to do things, even if it takes longer than doing it yourself. It will pay off later." I always thought that was great advice. Pity it took so long for me to apply it to my situation.

That was huge. It took a lot of stress out of my walk. And Reya behaves better when I'm not stressed. I think I'm a good actor, but she always smells my moods - maybe literally - and reacts like a mirror.

I continued learning new ways to teach her - holding the leash differently, using voice commands, practicing in restricted areas, putting the leash higher on her neck, using a different collar, using treats. ....Some things worked (like holding the leash differently), some things didn't (like the treats). But I learned. I laughed and told myself that Reya wasn't learning to walk on the leash - I was learning to walk Reya! 

I saw small improvements, but over all I just kept seeing the continual corrections every morning, and the fact that she always jerks my shoulder when we passed that certain tree, and that she always tries to chase the grey and white cat. 

This morning, I compared her walk with me to our walks of three months ago. Ya know what? She's improved. I looked down at her fuzzy black head, bobbing along by my knee, her white paws (looking like kid gloves), padding next to my feet, and I was pleased. So what if her ears were pricked, and she was looking for the next cat to chase? She hadn't touched her nose to the pavement in several minutes. So what if that was the dreaded cat up ahead, and I would have to spend several minutes in the middle of the road teaching Reya what submission means? I knew it was coming, and I'd do it. I wouldn't let myself worry about what the neighbors think of me, or wonder when Reya would learn. I know she is learning. I know that each battle takes us one step further on the road to being the perfect team.

Sure enough - the cat was temptation enough for Reya to break her beautiful "heel," and dart to the end of the short leash. I was pained, hearing her choke a little, but stayed calm, and brought her back to me, and we practiced laying down and keeping her gaze on me, not the cat, right there in the middle of the road. (Thankfully we have a quiet road in the morning.) It took longer than I thought it would, but that was okay. She wasn't perfectly obedient, and that was okay too. I didn't expect her to be. But we stayed there until she was.

She's learning. And so am I. I'm learning that dogs - and people - grow up slowly, and you mustn't judge them before God is finished growing them up. You must be patient, and also you must be happy and excited over the little victories, because those lead to bigger ones. You must trust God to work in His time, and you must remember that He's never in a hurry. You must look ahead with eyes of faith, and see that this creature - this person - is going to be a wonderful team mate by the time God is through with them.

Yes, Reya is learning. But I'm learning more than she is.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Fruitful Old Age

We are blessed to live on a (semi) quiet road that is populated by at least 50% older folks. (By older, I mean "grandparent age.") There are some younger families or couples at either end of the road, but our house is smack in the middle of the road, where most of the older generation lives. We like that.

One exception to the "young folks at the end of the road" rule is the second-oldest lady here, who lives on one end of the road. (The oldest is 101 years old.) This woman is a widow, and lives alone, but despite her apparent age and limitations, she is one of the most active older folks I know. She has a small garden, on a very sloped yard, and you can spot her stooped over there 'most any cool summer morning, wearing a hat, holding her cane in one hand, and pulling up weeds and staking tomatoes with the other. She loves to sit on her front porch, on her very green, very vintage, metal porch furniture, and she is often seen waiting there for a friend to pick her up so they can go out and do something together (shopping, church, etc.). I've stopped on that front porch and sat on the cement step before, chatting a bit, and discovered that her mind is still sharp and her hearing not bad at all for a lady her age.  

She's different from the other older folks on our road. Some of them are much younger than her, and they are still active in small ways, like planting flowers in the yard or going out with friends. But those who are in her age bracket don't seem to get out of the house much. Or even do much in the house. Some of them are hard-of-hearing, and their life seems to revolve around watching other folks live.

We have good relationships with several of the older folks. A couple of them are Christians (I think the lady I talked about above is). Most are not. We sometimes Christmas carol, sometimes take them Valentine cards, and sometimes share garden produce, and try to win a way to their hearts so that we can witness to them.

So I've been into many of their homes. And you know something I've noticed? Almost all of them play the TV ...a lot. It's just the thing to do when you live alone and want some noise in the house, I guess.

That's why I stared so hard when the gloomy weather today allowed my to see right through this lady's clean window into her lamp-lit living room early this morning while I was walking my dog. I saw something there that took me by surprise, and yet shouldn't have surprised me at all. I think I've discovered her secret.

She was reading.

She sat on a comfy-looking couch, in a spotless living room, with a side lamp pouring light over her shoulder, and she was reading. I couldn't see what kind of book it was - only that it was black-and-white print, so it wasn't a magazine. Was it her Bible? Another book? Don't know. But she was reading.

That early morning living room looked so peaceful. So quiet.

I think I know now why she is so independent, and still has a sharp mind, and still gets out in her garden every summer. She hasn't succumbed to letting life go by, and settled down to just watching other people live. She hasn't finished living her own life yet!

Monday, February 18, 2013

How to Make Your Own Toothpaste

I'm not a dentist, a doctor, a surgeon, a physical therapist, or a certified nutritionist. I have no health credentials that say I'm qualified to tell you anything about anything concerning your body.

I suppose that's a standard disclaimer, but as I was typing it, I thought to myself, "How strange. Everybody in the human race has a body, but only a handful of people want to learn more about such a marvelous machine. And only a handful are considered qualified to talk about it. But we all have one."

I think that the marvel of the human body is one of the strongest evidences for the existence of a God. Whether we're talking about the mechanical wonder of the skeletal structure, or the psychological intrigues of the brain, the case that carries our soul is amazing. And it proves how amazing our Maker is.

I love to study the body, and I am passionate about caring for our body in a way that complements the original design, and follows the pattern and thought process of the Maker. That means embracing the idea that when God made the perfect world He gave us what we need to care for our bodies, and although sin has created many problems since then, many of those resources are still widely available to us.

I believe in following the thought processes that recognizes God as sovereign over our health; not doctors, not surgeons, not specialists, not special diets, or strict lifestyles. He alone controls life, death, and health.

But I also believe in "owning your health," and taking responsibility for the stewardship you've been granted over that body of yours. It's your machine, and it's your only one, and you ought to care about how it runs, and how what you do affects it.

I'm not a big fan of the modern medical mindset. In fact, you could say I'm pretty opposed to it. Please note that I said the modern medical mindset. The research and discoveries modern medicine has done or made have been astounding, and I wouldn't want to miss out on all that! But the modern medical mindset in general says that everything can be cured with the right drug, if it doesn't work, cut it out, and, by the way, doctors are fail-proof. 

To illustrate my point...let me tell you about the last time I visited a doctor. It's not a frequent occurrence, so we'll have to go back awhile. About a year and a half ago, I caught what my family and I were pretty sure was pink-eye. We hadn't had it in the house for many years, and it can be a very contagious disease. My mom was concerned, and wanted me to go to the doctor right away. I asked for time, and researched the disease. I found out that there are several strains of it, and only some of them can be treated with medicines. From reading about the different symptoms, I suspected I had the strain that is not affected by and can't be helped with antibiotics. I told Mom I would just wait it out. I felt pretty sick, but didn't mind suffering through a couple of days, and it wasn't the end of the world. But she insisted that I go, out of concern for everybody else in the family, as well as for me. She's a pretty cool mom. :) I figured that being an obedient daughter was more important than being right about my health, and even though I was gritting my teeth against the idea, I went to see a friendly doctor.

He spent maybe 20-30 seconds looking at my eyes, and told me, "Yup, that's pink eye. I'll give you a prescription to take - two, actually. One to kill the bacteria, and another to soothe the eyes."

I asked him what strain of pink eye I had, and he laughed "Oh, you're like my wife. You like to research your own problems." I smiled, but I was thinking "Duh. It's MY body."

When I pressed him for an answer, he said that he wasn't sure which kind of pink eye I had, but he was prescribing the drug "just in case." That made me feel wonderfully secure, ya know?

I paid for the medicine, and took it home. I told mom I wasn't going to take it. ....But I'd paid for it, and she really wanted me to I took it. Just one of them - I didn't bother with the "soothing drops," if I remember correctly. I took the other one ....twice.

I improved a bit - enough to go out a few days later. On the way home, I was sitting in the car and felt a bad ache in the left side of my chest, just about where my heart is. That happened several times for two days - I'd get a random pain in the chest for a few moments, then it would go away. I believe to this day that it was caused by that medicine. I didn't take another drop. ...And I got better anyway.

I do believe we should have doctors. They've done wonders with medical missions! And they are wonderfully helpful in diagnosing many diseases. I just think that their responses are a little out of tune with the body's natural design.

All that being said...guess what my latest health interest has been? I've enjoyed researching and learning about dental health. One of my biggest concerns about dental health is the amount of fluoride we are exposed to, and the way it is touted as beneficial, when the research on it is in fact very conflicting.

Did you know that the body can't process fluoride? It can't pass through the body. Whatever gets in, stays in, unless you do a major detox with certain substances that pull fluoride out of the body. It can build up to quite toxic amounts in a lifetime. It's dangerous to have it floating around in the bloodstream, so fluoride - which has an INSANE amount of bonding power - binds to the bones in our bodies, making them very brittle.

Through my research, as I've listened to seminars, and looked at photos of bones that have been saturated with flouride (they look like a spiderwebby piece of swiss cheese next to lovely, health dense bones), I've developed a heath fear of the stuff. At this point, I can't do anything about the fluoride the government puts in my water (withOUT my permission), but I can make choices to reduce exposure elsewhere (although drinking water is the biggest exposure source).

That means not using fluoride-based toothpaste. Now, sure, many health companies make fluoride-free toothpaste, but who wants to pay such steep prices? Not me.

So I've made mine own. I'm very pleased with it. Like I said, I'm no dentist, but to the best of my understanding, good teeth-cleaners should contain at least two things:
   - An anti-bacterial agent
   - A slightly abrasive substance, to scrub the teeth

Rinsing the mouth thoroughly and often is helpful, as are flossing, and Oil-Pulling (not enough time to discuss that here), but for the toothpaste itself, it sounds pretty basic. I used:

- 1/3 cup Coconut oil, for my anti-bacterial agent (Non-refined is best)
- 1 TBS Baking soda, as a slightly abrasive substance (at this ratio, it's not overly abrasive on the teeth, I'm pretty sure)
- Roughly 10 drops Essential Oil of Mint, or to taste (I like a very strong mint taste) Be sure to use good quality oil, since it's going in your mouth. (I recommend the Young Living brand)

Melt the coconut oil until it's completely dissolved. You don't need to - and don't want to - get it super hot. putting the outside of the bowl in contact with hot water will do the trick. Stir in the baking soda and mint oil. The baking soda will dissolve a little bit, but most of it will puddle in the bottom of a bowl. Transfer the mixture to a plastic baggie, and let it cool. As it solidifies - which will take several hours - spend a few minutes every so often massaging the bag, mixing the baking soda with the oil so that it's thoroughly incorporated and spread out evenly. After the mixture is solidified, cut off a tiny tip from one corner of the baggie, and use as your new toothpaste tube! Store in a sealed container when not in use.

Wala! Try it and let me know what you think!  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ways to Celebrate Sunday

It all starts with the attitude. This is the most legitimate holiday in the world! (If you're wondering WHY the Lord's Day is such a big deal, read this post.)

You know that feeling you get when you open your eyes on Christmas morning? It's finally here! Or that jumping-up-and-down-can't-wait-'til-we're-all-gathered-'round-the-table feeling you get on Thanksgiving? There's nothing magical about those squares on the calendar - we get excited because we have made those days special. We've created traditions, we've talked about the day for weeks, we've made plans, we have special clothes, special food, or special activities....we've created a holiday. And it's fun!

But Sunday, the Lord's Day, the Sabbath, is special. This is a day God has told us to celebrate - and to keep special and holy. We have the official sanction to do no work, to shut our minds to the business side of life, and focus just on Him. We are free to do nothing else but worship, and we have no reason to feel guilty about shutting off normal life for a day - God Himself has told us to do so!

Doesn't that make you feel amazingly free? I mean, honestly, when the God of the universe tells you that you can take a day off....that's pretty cool. 'Specially for somebody like me, who struggles with guilt if I don't keep busy every single minute. I asked my brother once for suggestions about where I needed to work on things in my life and, after thinking a minute, he replied, "you need to learn to relax and just enjoy life once in awhile and not worry about all the projects you want to work on."

But I feel guilty when I'm not busy! (Don't get me wrong - I definitely have my struggles with laziness - but I always feel terribly guilty while I'm indulging in it.)

So how can it be okay to stop working for a whole 24 hours? YIKES! I'll get SO behind!

Nope. ...God Himself said I can take the day off. No guilt.

So that's one reason to love Sundays. But there's more to it than that. Sunday is for rest, yes, but also for worship. It's not for "thinking our own thoughts," and entertaining and partying all day long. No, this is different. This is a sacred, set-apart day.

Think of it as a date. Your Beloved One has asked you to spend the whole day with Him.

Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate and make that date the best it possibly can be:

- Greet all the family with "Happy Sunday!" when you see them first thing in the morning.
- Make all the food you can ahead of time, on Saturday, so you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen. (Think about Christmas - don't you make a TON of stuff ahead of time so you can take it easy day-of?)
- Go to all the church services you possibly can. This is the Lord's Day. Be in His house!
- Plan your outfit the night before. Make it special. This is His DAY! Look your best for Him. Please Him with what you wear.
- Take time during the afternoon to be completely alone with Him. Sure, it's a day for fellowship with His people, but you need one-on-one time with Him too. Quiet your mind. Pray. Sit and enjoy His company.
- Pray for the services as you head to church.
- Have certain foods that you make JUST for Sunday. Your favorites.
- Ditto for books. Have appropriate ones that you save for Sunday night, just before you fall asleep.
- Wake up early enough (and go to bed on Saturday night early enough) that you can get ready for church peacefully, and not be stressed out as you're walking out the door.
- Pop in a CD, and play hymns softly in the background all day long, when you're at the house.
- Pray that God would show you how to delight in His day.

This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but I'd like to stop for now, and give you the floor. What do YOU do to make Sunday special? How do you plan your "date with God?"

Monday, February 11, 2013


Deep breath....

I'm writing a blog post.


It has been way too long. Are you even still there?

I feel like I owe you an explanation - like when your phone battery dies in the middle of a conversation, and you have to find a different phone and call the person back to explain, so they won't think you are the rudest thing born since Henry IIX. Yes, I'd definitely like to offer both an apology and explanation. The only problem is that I'm still figure out what all I would say.

I could say that my schedule has changed and blogging time has fallen way down on the priority list. That sounds good. It even sounds mature, as if I'm finally learning to manage my time better. (The only problem is, how do you reconcile the image of a reformed time-manager with that of a blogger saying "I don't have time"?)

I could say that I haven't had post ideas.

That would be a lie. Scratch that explanation.

I could say that I didn't feel like writing. That would only sorta-kinda be true.

I could say that I began to ask myself "why bother sharing your thoughts? Everybody out there is tons more brilliant than you anyway." That would be a lot closer to the truth.

I could also say that I have a stalker.

Creepy, I know. Not dangerous - not this particular stalker (thank the Lord!). But creepy enough to make me highly un-inclined to post anything where they can read it. I'm sure you can imagine. I just don't feel like sharing my thoughts with someone like that.

But I've decided to ignore this passive, tame, but slightly creepy situation and post anyway - when I can (that first explanation up there wasn't that far off from the truth!). That being said, let me dive right into a post without wasting any more precious blogging time.

I have so much to say! Where to begin? I have post ideas about hospitality, new recipes, a entrepreneur-related announcement, recent projects, stories about my puppy...

Um....let's see....

I'd like to tackle a subject that God has been laying on my heart for awhile now. It can be a highly divisive topic, though, so I am a bit nervous about bringing it up. I just feel like I can't not say something. I want to share the blessing God has been showing me.

Let's talk about the sabbath.

Just that word alone strikes the ear as old-fashioned, doesn't it? It conjures up associations with various things. Some people have had very legalistic experiences with the word, and it makes them cringe. Others automatically think "that's Old Testament" or "That's Jewish." Others ask "huh? Sa-what?"

For those of you in that last category, let me explain. The word "sabbath" literally means "rest." It is used in the Bible to describe various holidays/holy days (same thing, right?) that God ordained for His people. Sometimes it is used in the singular form (sabbath) and sometimes in the plural form (sabbaths). In each case, it refers to a day or days that God commanded His people to use as days of rest from specific things.

For those of you just approaching this subject for the first time, it is important to have a clear understanding of the distinction between "the sabbath" and "sabbaths."

"Sabbaths", in the plural form, can mean any number of feasts and holy days that God set in place for the nation of Israel. They had - and many still have - multiple days throughout the year that they celebrate by resting from ordinary labor and pursuits.

"The Sabbath," distinguished from the rest both by the article "the" and the singular form, is a specific holiday. It comes once a week - and this is the sabbath referred to in the famous Ten Commandments. This is the day that God said to "remember" and to "keep holy." This is the day of which He also said "in it, thou shalt do no work."

For the Jews, the Sabbath was a memorial of two things; Creation and Redemption. That is reflected in the Ten Commandments; God says one of the reasons for the command for sabbath rest was "for in six days the Lord made Heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that in them is. But He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it." At the beginning of the Ten Commandments, God mentions that the reason He is giving them these laws is because He "brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." So we see creation and redemption out of Egypt both given as reasons for the Jews to keep one day out of seven set apart for worship and rest.

Let's take a little history tour:

Throughout the Old Testament, we see the Israelites breaking God's sabbaths over and over again. The books of the prophets are full of references to this particular sin. In fact, God gives their neglect of the sabbaths as one of His primary reasons for destroying the land of Israel in the days of Babylon, around 600 BC. He declared that, one way or another, His land would get its sabbath rest (referring to the "sabbath year" of rest for the farmland that was supposed to be carried out every seven years. That was one of those "plural sabbaths").

When the people finally got to come back to their land, 70 years later, we see Nehemiah involved in helping rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Do you remember how the men of Tyre peddled their wares and sold fish and other things in Jerusalem on The Sabbath in chapter 13 of Nehemiah? Whoosh, did Nehemiah get mad! He shut them out of the city, and they camped outside once or twice, hoping folks would come out to them, since they couldn't get into the city to sell stuff there. Nehemiah said, "If you do that again, I'm going to lay hands on you!" And he didn't mean hands of blessing, either. :) He talked to the elders and nobles of Judah and basically said "What?! How could you allow this to go on? Isn't this what we got sent out of the land for in the first place - polluting the sabbath by carrying on normal business days instead of worshiping and resting?"

Then we have a break of 400 years between the old and new testaments, and Jesus comes on the scene. At this point, and new role of spiritual leadership has risen in Israel; the class of "Pharisees." Yes, those same bad guys that handed Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. We think of them as the worst kind of hypocrites and sinners, (do we not?), but in their day they were THE highest of all spiritual ideals. The populace had been convinced that the Pharisees were the spiritual experts, and whatever they said was right....was right.

Enjoying this power, the Pharisees did what all humans do when they are trying to "be spiritual" on their own, without the spirit of God or the grace of God. They created lists; rules and regulations about HOW to keep the law. Before long, their lists WERE law in the sight of all the people.

Gradually, Sabbath activity became more and more restricted. You could only walk a certain amount of steps on the seventh day of the week. You could not help the sick. You could not lift anything heavy. Specific, nit-picky rules that the Pharisees created were put side-by-side with the Ten Commandments, and upheld as revelation from God Himself.

No wonder it made Jesus angry. The Pharisees had taken His holy day, a day of fellowship with God, a day of worship and rest, a day designed to celebrate two wonderful acts of God - Creation and Redemption from Egypt - and turned it into a day all the common people dreaded.

I think we can all understand why Jesus harped on them so much for adding to the law, and making it a burden instead of a delight. In the book of Isaiah, God had promised "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth..."

...That verse shows His heart! But the Pharisees had become lost in a list. So Jesus told them that the Son of Man (Himself) was Lord also of the sabbath, and that man was not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath was made for man. It is for man's benefit!

The next big event on the time line of history was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection - that grand and glorious event - happened on the first day of the week; Sunday, the day after the Jewish sabbath. That very same day - the first day of the week - Jesus appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). He appeared later that day, in the evening, to the gathering of disciples in a closed room (John 20:19). But Thomas wasn't there. ...That turned out okay, though, because they were assembled again, exactly a week later, on the first day of the week - and Thomas was there. Again, the doors were shut tight, and again Jesus came into the room. ...On the first day of the week (John 20:26).

After being with His disciples for 40 days, Jesus ascended up into Heaven. 10 days later, "the comforter," the Holy Spirit, was sent to the disciples in fulfillment to Jesus' promise to send Him. How do we know it was 10 days later? It's very simple: this event happened on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost happens 50 days after Passover. Jesus was resurrected during the Passover celebration. 50 days between dates - 40 days spent with disciples = 10 days the disciples waited alone.

Brief explanation of Pentecost:
This was the end of "the feast of weeks." Barely harvest lasted 7 weeks in Palestine, and there were ceremonies of worship and offerings at the beginning and end of the harvest time. The first day of harvest started on the first sabbath (Saturday) after Passover and ended exactly 50 days later. ....on a Sunday.

Are you seeing a pattern here? It becomes more and more clear that the early church had a habit of meeting together on the first day of the week.

They had good reason to; they were celebrating two things; new life in Christ, and redemption from sin!

...Does that sound familiar?

Yes, it seems that Christ's resurrection moved the date of the sabbath, for the church, from the seventh day of the week to the first. But it still celebrates Creation of life, and Redemption.

Whoa - hold on. ...Is Amber saying that the sabbath is still binding today? That we are still obligated to obey that command about "keeping the sabbath holy"? But that's so "Old Testament!"

May I gently remind you that ALL scripture is given by God?

"But the law was set aside when Christ came!"

Jesus Himself said, "think not that I have come to destroy the law. I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it." He also said that not one jot or tittle (the smallest letter, and smallest part of a letter in the Hebrew alphabet) of the law would pass away.

Now, all that being said, we must remember that we HAVE been set free from the law. Isn't that what Galatians is all about? We are no longer bound by the law!  But what law is Paul talking about?

The Old Testament contains three different categories of law: #1) Ceremonial Laws for the worship in the temple, and connected activities, #2) Judicial Laws for the nation of Israel, and #3) The Moral Laws of God, showing His character and setting His standards of what is right and wrong.

The second category does not apply to any other nation, and the first category was set aside when Jesus made the final sacrifice on our behalf (as it obviously explained in Galatians). What then should we do with the third category of law?

These moral laws are contained in the Ten Commandments, but were not invented on Mt. Sinai. Murder was wrong way back when Cain murdered Able. Adultery was wrong way back when Abimelech stole Sarah from Abraham. Having other gods besides the LORD was wrong way back before the great flood. And the sabbath was mentioned in the second chapter of Genesis. These moral standards have existed since before time. The Ten Commandments merely collected them all in one place and set them down in stone.

No one argues that murder and adultery are still wrong today. God's law is written on our conscience. Why then is the fourth commandment so attacked?

Is it really such a burden, to set aside one day a week for worshiping our Lord?
Do we have so little faith in His ability to provide for us that we feel we must work 7 days a week?
Do we care so much for our own pleasure and entertainment that "not thinking our own thoughts, or seeking our own pleasure" for one day is too much to ask?

Perhaps the answers to these questions are too sad to even speak. But they are questions I have been asking myself.

I have become more and more convinced, the older I've become, in the blessing of the Lord's Day. I strive to keep Sunday holy with the same effort I give to not lying, not killing, or not dishonoring my parents. I believe it is that important. It's not about "lists," or a fear that God will curse me if I don't honor His day. ....No, indeed. It's simply that I believe Him when He promises a blessing for those who call the sabbath a delight. And I want that blessing. I want it with my whole heart.

That is why I am choosing to share this with you. That is why I've written this lengthly chatter about the history behind the sabbath. I love to talk about His day. I love to look at verses that show how highly He esteems this holy day - this holiday. I love to read about the blessings promised to those who keep it holy.

Are you willing to think about it with me? Have we really embraced all there is to know about the Lord's Day? Are we really reaping all the benefits from it that God has for us there? He said the day was made for us - for our benefit. What is still there that we haven't yet learned?

The next time I post, I hope to talk about ways to keep the Sabbath - and I don't mean a list of rules. I mean talking about ways to celebrate. Yes, celebrate! We are celebrating His resurrection every Sunday. We are celebrating His redemption and creation of new life.

...Or are we? Are we really celebrating? Or are we just following a routine, and fighting traffic, and hanging out with friends, watching TV, and sleeping in? Do we really celebrate Sunday? Where is the joy?

That's what I want to talk about next; ways to CELEBRATE Sunday. :) :) :)