Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"They celebrated the Feast of Booths, as it is written..." -Ezra 3:4

"They celebrated the Feast of Booths, as it is written..." -Ezra 3:4

We were so incredibly blessed this year by our first celebration of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Ingathering.
It is a 7 day celebration and the 8th day is an extra day to mark the turning over of the Torah reading for the year.
The Biblical Feasts can be a beautiful opportunity to learn His Word, history, and to honor G-d Most High. The Spring Feasts are ones Christ fulfilled in His first coming; Passover, Feast of First Fruits, Pentecost... the Fall Feasts are ones He will fulfill during His second coming; Trumpets, Tabernacles, etc.
Once we started researching the significance of these festivals, and also learned that historically speaking, in regard to when John the Baptist was born, it is highly likely that our Savior was actually born during the Feast of Tabernacles, we were hooked. In a great way! Let us celebrate our Lord!!
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:5

"You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;" -Deuteronomy 16:13

"Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me." -Exodus 23:14

"'Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work, and you shall observe a feast to the LORD for seven days." -Numbers 29:12

"'Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days." -Leviticus 23:40

What do all these verses mean today, for us, as Christians? Weren't these things just "for them" and not "for us"? Or... are we All One?

What really encouraged me most to embrace the celebration and symbolism of observing the Feast of Booths, was, the fact that according to Scripture, we WILL be celebrating this feast with Christ when He returns!!! It's right here, in Zechariah, in the context of Christ's return and reign on earth:
"Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths." -Zechariah 14:16-19

That was amazing to me. If we will be celebrating Sukkot when He returns, why aren't we now? For that matter, I didn't even know how to celebrate it! Isn't that reason enough to learn all about it? What is this feast we will be observing with our Lord when He comes again? I was beyond eager to know more!

"All the earth bows down to You; they sing praise to You, they sing the praises of Your Name." -Psalm 66:4

Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles
"In Y'shua (Jesus), God tabernacled among us. He chose to be born into a less-than-glorious space, where certainly the stars might have peeked through the cracks in the roof, the elements might well have invaded. Nevertheless, in that lowly place dwelt the glorious presence of God, wrapped--the transient and the eternal beautifully coming together in God's provision and God's presence." -David Brickner

We ordered a real Lulav and etrog from Israel! Just as it is described in Scripture. It really made our lessons come to life. The lulav has much symbolism as well. It represents many things, including our hearts. With the blessings, tradition is to shake it in all directions, to remind us that G-d Is Everywhere. They consist of "four species": the etrog is a citron fruit, similar to a lemon, sweet smelling and said to represent our hearts; the lulav is the palm branches (our spines); myrtle branches (our eyes); and willow branches (the mouth). Another interpretation, according to David Brickner in his book "Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles", is that, like the Sukkot booth, the four species represent the four types of terrain that Israel covered during the forty years wandering the wilderness. Most importantly, because it is a Harvest festival, these species have to do with returning THANKS to G-d for His provision, faithfulness and promises.

"I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." -John 8:12

A blessed time of Thanksgiving
There is so much beautiful symbolism in the Biblical Feasts. Sukkot is like all of our favorite holidays mixed together: Thanksgiving, Harvest, Christmas and camping, all together. My husband took the week off from work, and we soaked up EVERY DAY!
The kids had so much fun decorating our backyard sukkah. A sukkah is a booth, a temporary dwelling, a reminder of what the Israelites stayed in during their time in the wilderness. It also reminds us that G-d is our Refugee. He protects and provides. The requirements for the sukkah are that they have 3 walls (any material) and the roof needs to be made of natural materials, such as branches, cornstalks, etc. It needs to offer more shade than sun and provide some light covering from the elements but still allow you to see the stars through it at night.
You are to eat most of your meals in it, open it to serve others, and you can sleep in it as well. (We set up our tent next to it to sleep in, and chose to pray and eat our meals in our sukkah.)
Our activities through the week varied, and of course we invited lots of friends over to come celebrate with us. We made beef and turkey pasty for the first night during a lunar eclipse supermoon, which was a wonderful way to tie in our fall tradition of making pasty from our Finnish heritage. The next night, we had more than half a dozen families out--we served a big roaster pan of turkey chili. It was great to see all the kids playing, learning and coloring tabernacle pictures in the sukkah, and playing with our Tabernacle model.

"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." -Matthew 4:19

"He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark." -Psalm 91:4"

On the first night of Sukkot, during the lunar eclipse, it was really CLOUDY. "He obscures the face of the full moon And spreads His cloud over it." -Job 26:9 We could only see portions of the amazing moon during periodic breaks with the friends we had over. We used that to our advantage the next day at our homeschool co-op, in the Weather Science class I am teaching this semester. We studied the types of clouds, and G-d's design of them.

Also, during this week, I borrowed the idea from some friends to speak of the clouds that Scripture describe for the very Israelites we are remembering during Sukkot!
"The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." -Exodus 13:21-22

Mid-week, we were invited to a friend's sukkah!!! It is such a fabulous blessing to learn and grow and celebrate with friends. It was such a comfort of family. Fellowship is a thing of beauty.

Another exciting aspect of celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles was a deeper understanding of when Christ called Himself the Living Water. John 7 explains Jesus attending the Feast of Tabernacles. It was during the water pouring ceremony of the Feast that Christ said the thirsty shall come to Him for a drink of Living Water. Mayim Chayim. Hallelujah! We believe!

On the last night of Sukkot, we were blessed to attend an end of tabernacle celebration at Tree of Life in Grand Rapids. They had awesome games, food, fellowship and joyous worship of Adonai. Words can't really describe the embracing beauty of Holy Spirit we felt that night, so I won't try. I will just say, Scripture describes the Feast of Booths as a true time of rejoicing, and we absolutely found deep JOY.

"The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day And there was great rejoicing. He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day And they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance." -Nehemiah 8:17-18

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Least of These

The Least of These...

What does it mean to help the least of these? What does Yeshua mean, when He tells us what we do or don't do for the least of these, we do or don't do, for HIM? It's a startling, humbling question. And often times, it doesn't look like what culture says it looks like. In our homeschool week last week, we focused much of our attention and love on looking at the verses that address this.

Matthew 25:35-45:

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’"

Compelled by the millions of refugees fleeing Syria for their lives, we did what we could to show the kids what tangible love looks like. We had a blessed evening packing and praying for the Syrian refugees. The kids packed individual hygiene kits with their friends (division, multiplication, fractions, addition, subtraction...) and we boxed up blankets, shoes, socks, sheets, maxi pads and more. We prayed over the supplies before dinner and read to the kids from the verses of what our Lord says about such matters, then we found on the globe where they are fleeing from as well as the countries, so far, that are letting them in. Not enough. 11 million. Eleven million refugees!! More than the entire population of the state of Michigan. So overwhelming. Lord, move us all to make a way.

The hygiene kits to MD were $15 to ship. We used International Orthodox Christian Charities. Here is a link to their website with instructions:

We got the address for Greece from author Ann Voskamp. Her touching blog, "Dear Alyan" about the little boy washing up to the shore is enough to move anyone to tears and action. Please take the time to read it here:

The shipment to Greece was the one I knew would be super expensive, because we did one huge box with shoes and blankets, etc. in it. That one was $93. We have had some people donate toward that, so that is a blessing. Praying it gets exactly where it needs to be.

I am not going to take the time to address much of the response people have as far as not helping, or the dangers that come from helping non-Christian families in need. I would just urge those in doubt to read the verses that I started this post with.

And, for those still needing some kind of thread to hold in regard to conversion---which, I agree with a recent post that points out that "to tie humanitarian needs to conversion is sick"---but alas, I will share from one outlet that exposes there are hundreds reportedly finding Christ through this process.
"CBN News SHOCKING: In Germany, hundreds of Muslim refugees are turning to Christ at a Berlin church. The Evangelical Trinity Church has swelled from 150 to 600 members in just two years, and many are Muslims fleeing Iran and Afghanistan.
Mohammed Ali Zonoobi, an Iranian asylum seeker, was recently baptized.

"I feel like I am born again", he sobbed.


Guess what? I would still love my enemy, regardless.

Are there political powers at play? Absolutely. I pray we can, as a society, push past the politics, and see the PEOPLE.

Here are the other verses we looked at throughout our home learning journey last week in connection. I pray they bless you, as they have continually blessed us.

Luke 6:27 - "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you."

Exodus 23:5 - If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

Acts 7: 60 - And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Mark 11:25 - And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sola scriptura: A series for home educating with The Bible

A day in Deuteronomy 28: Blessings Follow Obedience

This year we are letting the Bible shape our days. You can read about my decision here: The Bible as Curriculum.

"If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them."

We started our day comparing and contrasting the verses in the various translations we own. Discussing the differences, and identifying what Synonyms are. The kids picked up right away that they could understand the context of the Scripture better by reading two or more translations of the verse. We learned the root language and vocabulary of Deuteronomy. Then I had the kids handwrite and recite the blessing portions.

Next, we picked apart portions for study and comparisons. "You will be blessed in the city, you will be blessed in the country." The kids listened to the book on tape of "Town Mouse, Country Mouse" which helped us cover geography, literature, reading comprehension and listening skills. They also painted pictures of a city scene and a country scene for art.

We covered health by defining what it means to have "the fruit of your womb be blessed."

We reviewed directional practice and spacial reasoning for right and left.

For math we took a look at the number 28, backwards and forwards. This covered counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, sequencing, and concrete problem solving.

Bringing back around our directional practice, spacial reasoning, listening and observational skills into a fun game, I put a spin on "Follow the Leader" and we went outside for fresh air and gym time. I made 3 tags: one "Obedience" and two "Blessings". We pinned them on our shirts with clothespins and the blessings had to follow and copy whatever and wherever the obedience went. We all took a turn being the leader, and the kids had a blast getting mom to swing off trees, be goofy all around the yard and go down the slides. They loved playing our new game, "Blessings Follow Obedience."

It fit in nicely that our classic literature read aloud as a family is currently Black Beauty. We read our chapter after dinner and even took an impromptu field trip to the neighbor's house, where she talked with them all about their horses. It was a great hands-on animal science lesson. She has retired horses, so she was able to talk to the kids about a lot of the themes throughout Black Beauty, including animal care, respite, communication, training and grooming. She told the kids, "an untrained horse is a useless horse." It tied in beautifully with our lessons on obedience and how God can use us better when we are fully trained. What a blessing!!

We topped off the day with this wonderful song I found about being blessed through obedience. It's called, "Listen, Obey and Be Blessed- Kingdom Song 120"

I can't wait to see what God has in store for us next; home learning through His Word.