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The Story of the Sabbath – Chapter Two

The Priority of Worship

The 10 Commandments set the stage for worship. Or, I should say, they reaffirm the stage and help us — to this very day — to know the stage never left, nor has it been for any one nation.

The Seventh day Sabbath is more relevant than most people realize. It will get more relevant as The Story nears its close for our planet.

As promised on the podcast, here are the corresponding questions for each of the first four commandments:

  1. What or who comes before our Creator God in our daily living? 
  2. What have we made with our hands (or in our minds) that we bow to in deference and submission, or put above God in some way? 
  3. What have we named that has this kind of authority in our lives?
  4. Do we have 24 hours in our lives where we can magnify or concentrate on all of these?

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast

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Story

The Story of the Sabbath – Chapter One

As I mention in this new episode, I have been looking forward to this series for a long time. It’s a highly important topic to me — especially after reading a wonderful book a few years ago and, one I will be drawing from for this series: The Lost Meaning of the Seventh Day by Sigve Tonstad. I even hope to interview him for this series if I can.

If you happen to be listening to these in order, you may also notice I haven’t finished telling and updating my own story. I will mix these in with stand-alone episodes until caught up.

Also, be patient with me as I pace myself to get this series out there. I want to avoid simply rehashing what is already in some great books I have for research. I am prayerfully and slowly asking God to show me how to present this in a way that is relevent and like, well, storytelling.

One book I read much from for this episode (and I can’t say I won’t in the future) is The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel. I love his insights and perspective from a lifetime of immersion in the Jewish life and significance of the Sabbath for him, and for us to read.

Enjoy this introductiory chapter.

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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Story

My Story in The Story – I Get Married!

Before moving on to The Story of the Sabbath series, I wanted to make sure and continue my story. I know it’s not the most exciting, but just like yours, my story has value to God and to people who see God in it. I am keeping true to the foundational verse of this whole podcast: “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb the word of their testimony…”

This short episode includes my wedding when I married my bride, Kimberly. As of today, we’ve been married more than 25 years, by the grace and love of God! She gets me closer to God. Together, we have been through much. She is a gifted and talented pediatric nurse. Many years before I ever met her, she dreamed of taking care of kids through nursing. She’s been living that dream for nearly three decades now. I am so proud of her.

Again – these books are the ones we worked on selling, this time in the summer of 1996 in Orlando, Florida:

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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My Story in The Story, cont

Before moving on to The Story of the Sabbath series, I wanted to make sure and continue my story. I know it’s not the most exciting, but just like yours, my story has value to God and to people who see God in it. I am keeping true to the foundational verse of this whole podcast: “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb the word of their testimony…”

I mention a series of books that I grew to love, and still do to this day. I’m linking all of them directly to their own page where you can read any of them for free, and most if not all of them are available for audio download as well.

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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The Story of Prayer – Chapter Five

As we finish our time of prayer, we finish with confidence.

Because we’ve been cleansed by Jesus’ blood and filled with the Holy Spirit and given away our prayers for others, we can now come into God’s very presence! Even if we’ve been doing it all along, it’s a beautiful thing to know we can approach God as we would a friend.

And, as promised, click here to download a PDF outline of this whole framework.

God wants to connect with us. He wants to dwell with us. It is for us to choose it now in this life by faith, so in the next, we can walk and talk with him in person!

Imagine walking with Jesus himself on the new earth out on an open prairie somewhere and the conversation is…what? What will you talk to him about in that moment?

The glory of the Father’s face is shining from the throne off in the distance. The sweet Holy Spirit is caressing your faces in the breeze and all is well.

What what do you want to talk to God about?

He’s waiting with love.

The golden Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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The Story of Prayer – Chapter Four

Bread. Eating. Nourishment. Sustenance. Food.

We need to eat to stay alive and it is no less true for our soul. We cannot survive, let alone find eternal life if we don’t take in the essential life-giving presence of natural food.

As it is with our bodies, so it is with our spiritual life. We must choose to be nourished and feed upon the Bread of Life, that is, Jesus who is also the Word of Life for our souls.

Very simply: if don’t, we will starve and eventually die a slow spiritual death. I might even say, it won’t be a painless death. It might be a comfortable death. But, it may even be worse — we could die and not even know it!

This part of our prayer time is to remind us we need Jesus to survive.

  • John 1:1-2In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
  • John 1:14The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

A table with 12 loaves of bread in the Holy Place.

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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The Story of Prayer – Chapter Three

This episode is all about the altar of incense. And, what about it? Why is that important when it comes to prayer?

This is where we spend time on behalf of others. I mention a couple of places in the Bible where the smoke of incense specifically correlates this with intercessory prayer:

  • Psalm 141:2May my prayer be set before you as incense, the raising of my hands as the evening offering.
  • Revelation 8:4The smoke of the insence, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God.

This place in our time of prayer can, honestly, take the longest. Especially if you have a long list of people and needs to pray for! I have found if I do have a long list, but not a ton of time, splitting up the list over days works.

When praying for people, see their faces. Hear their voices as they have shared. Imagine God working in places within, around, and on behalf of those you are interceding for. One prayer I’ve prayed is: “God what I cannot and go where I cannot. Do only what you are capable of doing for this person.”

It’s powerful to think God “gets permission” as we pray for people to do what he otherwise might not do. I wholeheartedly believe that. It’s one reason to keep on praying and not giving up. See Luke 18:1-6

A depiction of the altar of incense.

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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The Story of Prayer – Chapter Two

Finally…after many months of delay and all kinds of things happening in my story, I have published the latest installment — the next chapter in The Story of Prayer. I will also restart telling parts of my story after this series is done.

I think having shorter episodes will help you as well.

In this first episode/chapter where we spend more time within the tabernacle itself, we cover three places to help us in our prayer structure and framework:

  • Entering the gates with thanks and praise
  • Time at the alter of sacrifice and laver basin
  • The candlestick within the Holy Place

All of these have meaning and can help us move through our prayer time with intention. They have helped me immensely through the years, even if I haven’t done them daily. Every time I intentionally walk through these in my mind and imagination while praying I find myself getting closer and closer to God.

A better prayer life will help you continue to overcome as Revelation 12:11 says we can. Here are a couple of depictions of the alter of sacrifice, laver, and candlestick.

Notice on the left the smoke coming from the altar of sacrifice and the laver for washing to its right.
The golden candlestick depicting almond leaves, which symbolize new life.

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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The Story of Prayer – Chapter One

Wow, talk about God-breathed! The actual title to this episode (I believe) God plopped into my brain as I was thinking about it this past week.

With this first chapter on a structure for prayer, I mention my definition of prayer, directly quoted from a favorite book of mine, Steps to Christ:

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend.

Page 93

I also mention a study I found on the number of Israelites who were rescued out of Egypt – you can find that here.

This whole study is going to be immensely helpful for you, especially if you find regular prayer to be a challenge. Using the imagination God gave us and adding power to the words we say can transform us like nothing else.

Meanwhile, please share below so others can see parts of your story, and maybe we can talk on the podcast!

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I Apologized to My Lilac Bush

Beautiful blooming lilac flowers. Violet springtime flowers.

I am no tree hugger. But the earth has had its woes, thanks to us humans.

I was watching a science fiction show recently and the crew of the ship headed to Mars had to stop watering their plants to conserve water. Suddenly, it was so powerful how much it means to have plants and vegetation for our well-being.

Why is that?

Why has modern science proven what God built into our DNA: We are meant to be healed by nature? I read an article recently on the benefits of “forest bathing” — essentially immersing yourself in the woods, in the vegetation and environment of a forest, letting it saturate the senses.

There’s great research that shows how spending time in nature can improve mental and overall health. This piece here is a great example, with lots of legitimate research cited. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.
  • Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort. (I believe this genetic programming is what God put in Adam and Eve originally, and it’s been passed through all humans for all time)
  • In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced
  • Time spent in nature connects us to each other and the larger world.

There is a ubiquitous amount of research proving over and over the benefits and healing powers of being in nature. God’s Creation.

And, no, I do not believe the Creation we see now is what God meant our world to be. Not when “Since the start of 2020, it’s estimated that fires have burnt through 20 million hectares (49 million acres) of the Russian landscape, which is an area bigger than Greece, and about 10.9 million hectares (27 million acres)”1 Not when I come across a photo of a predatory bird about to eat a parakeet. Or countless other morbid examples of death and destruction even in the midst of stunning beauty found in a landscape or a mountain valley or a sunset along a beach to melt the heart.

So, yes, I found myself standing outside my house on our side deck next to our lilac bush, empty of leaves and long ago any delicate buds with their exquisite scent reminding me of my childhood. It was stark and ugly. Right next to the lone aspen tree with an entire vertical section dead as of this past year with one single angled branch losing its leaves in the wind.

It’s not their fault they die. It’s our fault. We humans wrecked it for them. They were supposed to grow from an earth covered not in God’s curse, but his blessing and pronouncement of “good” on Day 3. Can you imagine soil so blessed, anything that gets planted there, just grows? No weeds. No invasive species. No animals or insects devouring its life. Just wonderfully uninhibited and perfect growth to keep the ecosystem balanced.

What I love to think about when I am in a forest or meadow, is how even though God cursed the earth because of Adam and Eve’s decision to listen to the snake — the blessing still has power.

Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit according to their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, according to their kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:11-12

After doing all of his work of creating, we read in verse 31: “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

Very Good!

The Very Good of Day 6 is still good this very day. Trees still grow. Crops still come out of the ground. Fruit is still to be had from trees, vines, and bushes with their wonderfully fragrant blossoms every spring. I can still walk in a lush green valley of river grasses in the high country of Colorado where I live.

The curse caused thorns to form on rose stems.

The curse allowed for devastating hurricanes to decimate and destroy whole cities and landscapes.

The curse causes an entire region of a continent to become a sandy and nearly lifeless desert.

When I hike here in Colorado and look into the woods around me, I see conspicuous evidence of the curse with trees decaying on the ground, trunks shattered from a lightning strike or windstorm.

I guess it remains a choice, of whether I am going to pay attention to the curse of death so easy to spot or recall a place in our ancient (but not forgotten) past when the earth was pristine and perfect. It was willing, able, and ready to produce abundance for the inhabitants meant to multiply everywhere.

Our Story, which began so promising and perfect — rich in potential for an abundance the likes of which we can barely imagine — is about to have its do-over. Earth 2.0 will burst upon the Creation scene of our universe when God doesn’t just bless the ground, he is with us on that ground! Our planet in that day will be made new, to be filled and perfectly balanced with abundance and life, joy and happiness, worship and praise to our Creator.

May that day be soon.