Guest post!

Today I'm featuring a guest post - by a guest who hasn't made it onto my blog yet.  My husband!  For those who don't know him, in addition to being a handsome husband & fantastic father, he also holds a Bachelor's in computer science and a Master's in theology.  Translation: he is smart and has a lot of Bible knowledge! Tim has served as a youth pastor, a US Army chaplain. He has also worked as a computer programmer and is now employed as a system administrator.

Here is his blog on "The Glory of God".

The first mention of the appearance of the glory of God is found in the story of the Exodus. God appeared to the entire congregation of Israel on Mount Sinai. Beforehand, they were warned not to approach the mountain because anyone or anything (including animals) would die immediately if they even touched the base of the mountain. In that situation, it was the first and only time God appeared and spoke directly to such a large gathering of people. The appearance of the glory of God and the sound of His voice was so intense and terrifying to the people, they begged Moses to ask God not to talk to them directly any more but to speak to them through Moses. 

The glory of God also led them daily through the wilderness and dwelt in the tabernacle during their time of wondering. Every time Moses spoke to God, he had to cover his face afterwards because his face shown with the reflection and exposure to the glory of God

There is also a story in Exodus when two of Aaron’s sons decided they had the authority and position to approach the Holy of Holy’s uninvited. They were struck down (killed) on the spot. 

This was the light that the shepherds experienced on Christmas night and why they were so afraid. 

Tradition says that these shepherds were probably watching the Jerusalem temple’s flock of sacrificial sheep, so these were no ordinary shepherds. They were probably very familiar with the stories of unworthy people suffering the consequences of approaching the presence of God uninvited. 

So, when they were surrounded and enveloped by the shekinah light of Gods glorious presence, they had every reason to be afraid for their lives (and it wasn’t because of aliens). It wasn’t because they were just startled by a bright light in the darkness, although that can be very disconcerting. It was the fear of a powerful and Holy God whose very presence reveals our shortcomings and fallibility. But it was this very God, whose perfect completeness exposes our lack, that chose to encompass Himself in vulnerable baby flesh. He clothed His all consuming light in this tiny body in order to cover our shame, our shortcomings, our fallibilities and everything we lack, so we could experience freedom from fear and death and take part in His amazing gift of peace and grace. 

This was the message the angel of the Lord shared with the shepherds: Do not fear but take part in the peace, grace and love your Heavenly Father has given you through the sacrifice of His son that was born this very day in Bethlehem. 

May His peace cover you this Christmas and remind you that He has covered all that has separated us from Himself and we can approach him without fear and partake in the peaceful light of His Glory. 

Twinning: Elijah & Elisha

Elijah and Elisha.  At times their coupling in the Old Testament appears twin-like. Even down to the spelling and pronunciation of their names.  Like the old DoubleMint gum, they resembled two prophets for the price of one.  Elijah was Elisha’s mentor and they often traveled and ministered together.  In 2 Kings chapter 2 (catching on to all the two’s??) we see the bittersweet and miraculous end of the Elijah/Elisha era as they quite literally part ways.  

Elijah knew that his “time had come”. He makes 3 attempts to separate from his mentee, all of them unsuccessful.  Elijah tells Elisha to “stay here” but Elisha refuses.  He cannot conceive of not being with this man of God…”so the two of them went on (v. 6)."  However, Scripture states clearly in verse 1 that the Lord intended to part them and to take Elijah to his eternal home in heaven.  The two of them must be split. 

At the location of his third unsuccessful attempt at separation, Elijah stands at the bank of the Jordan River with Elisha at his side.  This passage tells that Elijah took his mantle - that garment he had placed over Elisha when he found him plowing in the field, conferring spiritual authority from God on him - rolled it up, and struck the water with it, parting it to the right and left. Moses, anyone? (The book of Kings was written to  the Jewish exiles who had been dispersed in the 500’s BC and any of them who heard this story were no doubt reminded of the great leader who had led them out of captivity in the days of their earlier existence!)  God allows the water to be parted by this demonstration, a physical display of the parting which he intends for the two prophets. 

Elijah and Elisha crossed over on dry land and Elijah began his parting words to Elisha by asking him what he would like him to do for him before he is taken away.  Elisha replies he would like a double (2!) portion of his spirit. This request evoked the rights of the firstborn in the Hebrew culture to receive double portions of a father’s inheritance. Elijah’s response leaves the reader with a degree of uncertainty as to whether or not his request will be met.  Even so, they continue on together, walking and talking. 

Then, in a swift and sudden spectacle, the Lord separated the two Israelites with chariots and horses of fire and a whirlwind.  This parting was final and God carried Elijah up to heaven in the whirlwind.  Elisha’s response?  He took his clothing and tore them in two.  Yup, in two. Then he reached for the mantle and repeated the water-parting actions of Elijah on the Jordan.  The results for Elisha were the same: the river parted to the right and the left.  Only this time, Elisha crossed back over alone.  Through this manifestation of God’s power, Elisha knew with confidence that the Lord God of Elijah was with him.  The men of Jericho who were observing from the water’s edge confirmed that “the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha”.  Elisha’s request had been granted: he received his own portion of God’s spirit along with Elijah’s.

Working through Elijah’s faithful mentorship and intentional discipleship, God raised up another mighty prophet to help guide his people. As people of God’s new covenant, we can see this Old Testament story as a foreshadowing of Christ who led and loved his disciples while he walked with them and who, following his death and resurrection, ascended to heaven as a true and better Elijah. And as believers in the eternal life he offers, we inherit a portion of his spirit which both comforts and empower us, his children.

Finding joy even here

The soil beneath my gloved hands felt loose, tender, and cool.  It felt good to turn over the dirt in that clay pot. I churned and aerated its contents.  The smell was earthy, its color black. It held moisture and promise.  I dug my hands in, filled my palms, lifted them up, and let the dark particles fall back into their container.  And instantly I remembered how much I look forward to this springtime ritual of sewing in soil.  There is nothing quite like the comfort and thrill of gardening. 

This spring season, my gardening efforts were small. They consisted of 2 small pots near our back door which I filled with flowers of varying and beautiful colors - not expensive but lovely still. Nothing like the raised bed gardens filled with herbs and vegetables I’ve had in the past.  Or the rose bushes I’ve tenderly nurtured.  Or the porches I’ve adorned with ferns and foliage.  Where we live now has no yard or porches. We have a stoop out back that holds my only hope for gardening of any sort.  

This place where I am is not what I wished for.  Not where I want to be. But I am where I am.  Better said, I am where God has me.  This is not a place I would’ve chosen for myself.  I don’t want to be here, much less be here long.  But I am here.  And I don’t know for how long. I am waiting on God, trusting in His timing, listening for his voice, and seeking His wisdom and guidance. And while I am here, I want to find the joy God has for me - even in this season of being where I don’t want to be.  God gives us joy for our journey, no matter where that journey takes us.  Jesus gives abundant life and because of Him I am never alone.  I may not be where I long to be in life, but I can still celebrate in the place I am.  Count the joys.  Mark the seasons. Enjoy life. Plant the flowers. 

Next to my clay pot of promise were three beautiful plantlings purchased that day from a local nursery - one vibrant in color, one a neutral white with trailing blooms, and one a deep, rich color that would vine and sprawl.  I dug dirt wells with my gloved hands and nestled each plantling into the rich soil. My teenage son (talk about watching something grow!) came out to help me water - giving each plant an ample drink. I tidied up a bit and took a step back to admire. To celebrate the beauty, color, life, and seasons. And I smiled.  I’m not where I want to be but He is here with me. And there is life and beauty even here.

From Drowning in Disappointments to Upheld by Hope

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