Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Glimpse As To Why Ministry Is a 24/7 Calling

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Exodus 27: The Tabernacle’s Altar of Burnt Offering, The Court, & The Use of the Lamp

Exodus 27:1-21: In chapter 27 of Exodus, God gives detailed instructions for each of the items listed in our heading. Please read your preferred version of Scripture in parallel. Below we simply highlight some of the key features of the chapter for our study. 
In the first few verses (eight to be exact) of this chapter, God describes how He wants the altar to be constructed. I found verse 3 to be of significant interest. There we read, “And you shall make its pails for removing its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its fire pans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze.” Now if we ever needed evidence that God cares for the details in our lives (beside the reminder elsewhere in Scripture and in song that ‘His eye is on the sparrow, how much more does He care for us’), this is it. Here is the Almighty God giving instructions to His people about building an altar and He bothers to mention all the ‘maintenance’ tools required for this altar to operate properly – tools to prepare sacrifices and offerings, as well tools for its cleaning. One would have thought that the children of Israel didn’t need to be told what was required to keep an altar going and clean.  So, yes indeed, I can safely say with a lot of assurance that He cares about all the details of our circumstances and lives.
In the next section of this chapter (verses 9 to 19) God describes the courtyard He would like the tabernacle to be set in and subsequently the “hangings” that are to go around the edge of the courtyard.  You will remember when we were studying the previous chapter (Chapter 26) we indicated there was some confusion as to ‘what was what’ especially with respect to “boards” vs. “curtains”.  Well, the plot thickens in this chapter, as it appears that God has given instructions that involve curtains and boards and ‘hangings’, the latter for the periphery of the courtyard.  If we stick with Him in this regard, we would then have to rethink our position on what the ‘boards’ were, or more precisely where they were used.  We will leave this to others to figure out.
The most important part of the chapter in my thinking is found in the last two verses, 20 and 21, which read:
“And you shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually.  In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the Lord; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel.”

These verses carry for us a most symbolic message as I see it. God charges us to offer Him clean lives as a continuous light to the world. It is interesting that NASB uses the term “beaten olives” in verse 20, as does the KJV, the ESV, and the RSV.  We note, however, that the NKJV, as well as the NIV and NLT have utilized the phrase “pressed olives” instead. Commentator David Guzik prefers the latter saying that believers are not beaten but we are – “hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed (2 Corinthias 4:8) - and God uses our times of pressing for His glory.”

Our pastors and priests and ministers are charged with a 24/7 responsibility to keep that light (the congregation or people that God has put in their charge) in good working order before the Lord, so they can be that light to the world. And part of that responsibility is that those who are appointed as official priests and pastors and ministers are to help us keep that command of God’s from generation to generation.

So there you have it. We can well ask ourselves several questions:
1.     Am I doing my part to see that this responsibility is indeed being met as God commanded?
2.     Is my church (and I as part of it) ‘burning continually’ as a light to the world?
3.     Do my spiritual leaders understand that their calling and job is a 24/7 one, not a 40-hour or even 60-hour week, fighting hard for their vacations and times off in lieu?
4.     Will the generation that comes after me keep this statute as God commanded?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No”, then we must ask ourselves “Why not?” and “What can/should we do about it?” Then we must pray for God’s discernment and direction to make things right.

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God's House vs. Place of Meeting: There is a Difference, then and now.


The Tabernacle’s Curtains, Boards, Bars, Veil, and Screen
Picture courtesy of: "Tabernacle-view" by Epictatus at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tabernacle-view.jpg#/media/File:Tabernacle-view.jpg

Exodus 26:1-37: In chapter 26 of Exodus, God gives detailed instructions for each of the items listed in our heading. Rather than repeat the entire chapter here, the reader may want to study the fine detail from the Scriptures itself. We have been using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as it is excellent study version of the Word of God, but many of the other renditions are also helpful. Below we simply highlight some of the key features of the chapter for our study.
In verse 1 of the chapter we note that Moses was to use skillful workmen in the work that God wanted done to precision.  God wants the best in His service and He will see to it that we have the best because He equips His people to do the job He wants done. However, sometimes we rush things – using the wrong people, just to get the job done and God is not pleased. I am not suggesting that God can’t use untrained people, He can and He does.  But I can confidently say that I believe He does not use un-equipped people. Those of us in charge of ministry need to make sure the people we use are indeed equipped to do the job God wants them to do.  [By the way, God repeats this request in verse 31 when it comes to the making of the “veil” for the tabernacle.]
In verse 30, God again repeats the caution that He already has given Moses with respect to the furniture he was to have built. God says, “. . . erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown in the mountain.” Follow the instructions.  That’s central. And get the instructions when you go to “the mountain”. We can’t get clear instructions from God when we hang around with the masses.  We have to go alone to the mountain. We have to turn off the din of the world – the television, the radio, the magazines, and yes, even the newspapers that we claim simply keep us abreast of things.
In verses 33 and 34 we are told that the Ark of the testimony (that first piece of furniture God ordered) complete with the “mercy seat” (its lid) was to go behind this veil they were making.  And the veil itself would divide the tabernacle into one section called “the holy place” and another one “the holy of holies”. God visits His people in the “holy of holies”.  He can visit us anywhere, but He prefers to visit us in the “holy of holies”. For the Israelites it was behind the “veil”.  For us today, it is through God’s “holy of holies” – His Son, Jesus Christ. It is there we get the clearest message from God as to how then we should live.
In verse 35 we are told that the table of the showbread and the lampstand go outside the “veil” in the holy place, but not in the holy of holies.  Here’s a picture courtesy of http://www.bibleforums.org. Also, the “boards” were stronger than the curtains that were around and over the Holy Place and Holy of Holies. The “boards” were around the whole structure.
Earlier on we saw that the tabernacle was to have numerous curtains that basically formed its walls making it a distinct structure in the midst of the Israelite camp. And in verse 36 we are told that they were to build a “screen” to serve as the doorway to the tent.  The colors of the screen are very significant (blue, purple and scarlet).
Chuck Smith goes into great details about the construction and relationship of the various curtains of the tabernacle.  The whole idea was that this was a well-constructed and yes, portable, tent. He also reminds us that while we may think our modern-day houses of worship should somehow reflect the tabernacle, we need to be very careful not to think of either as “God’s house”.  God cannot be contained in the heavens, let alone a man-made structure, even if it is made to His specifications. No, both the tabernacle and our own places of worship are “meeting houses” – places where God’s people may come together to meet with God collectively, and individually, if one chooses.
Of course, we can meet God (or more precisely, God can meet with us) anywhere – by the seaside, in our car, at our prayer room in our home, in the hospital, etc. But if we want to meet Him in the fellowship of others who want to meet Him too, we need a “meeting house”.
There was, however, a difference between our “meeting” God and the Israelites “meeting” God. We have Jesus Christ that allows us to meet with God; they didn’t.  So they couldn’t meet with Him directly.  They could only go to the place or tent of meeting in the overall tabernacle structure and had to remain in the courtyard.  There they would offer their sacrifice and ask the priest to approach God on their behalf.  Only the priests could go beyond into the holy place and the holy of holies.  According to Smith, this was the case until the time of King David. After that, Solomon, his son, built the temple and the tabernacle was done away with, although obviously there was still a veil in the temple thereafter as it was that veil that was torn from top to bottom when Christ was crucified.
Of course, God chose all His instructions purposefully. Goats’ skins were used and that signified sacrifice.  Brass was used and that symbolized judgment. Also remember that the tabernacle proper was most critically the holy place and the holy of holies. It is this section that had the curtains referred to in the beginning of the chapter for both walls and roof coverings. The whole tent or place of worship (also referred to as the tabernacle by some) added space around the holy place and the holy of holies, plus a courtyard and a main gate.
In closing let me state that as I studied the commentaries on this chapter, I found that they all had various versions of what was really being constructed and how.  There is confusion on what constitutes the “tabernacle” per se versus the “tent”.  There is some confusion about where exactly the “boards” went versus the “curtains”.  And so on.  What I have referenced above is some of the perspectives that made sense to me.  When we get to heaven you may well want to ask God for a peek at the original blueprints, although I neither believe it will matter at that time, nor do I really think He has a “hard copy”. What really matters is that we will be together in the heavenly and intended tabernacle, worship God rather than in one of its replicas here below. 

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What you don't want to hear is: "Big Mistake. Big Mistake. Huge Mistake."

The Lampstand


                        

Photo courtesy of: http://www.templebuildersministry.com/ -- please do visit their site.

Exodus 25:31-40: Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lampstand from its one side and three branches of the lampstand from its other side. Three cups shall be shaped like almond blossoms in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bulb and a flower—so for six branches going out from the lampstand; and in the lampstand four cups shaped like almond blossoms, its bulbs and its flowers. A bulb shall be under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand. Their bulbs and their branches shall be of one piece with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold. Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it. Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made from a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.”
We come now to the third piece of furniture God wanted constructed by the people of Israel – a lampstand of pure gold. He gives them specific instructions that one reads in this passage.  There are a few special aspects we should point out. The text speaks of “bulbs” and one could well say, “Wait a minute, they didn’t have bulbs, as in light bulbs, in the day of Moses.” And one would be right. This lampstand would not even be lit with candles. Instead, the ‘cups’ that were shaped like almonds, but also looked like flowers, made of gold, were to be filled with oil and a wick placed in them, which would be lit.  But once lit, they were to remain lit, and so we imagine the wick and the oil would need replacing and replenishing often. David Guzik suggests the use of the almond blossom image is significant in that it is the first tree to blossom in the springtime. I draw from that the “children of Israel” were the first of God’s children and the real light (Jesus Christ) came to them first.
It would have six branches going out from it, three on each side, and the center post shall have four ornaments looking like flowers on it, likely spread out from the top to the bottom of the stand, the top one also used as a lamp along with the other six ornaments – so seven lamps (or lights) all together.
And if that’s not enough detailed instruction, God wants the flame in each of the seven lamps to be placed in such a way that each one sheds light on the space before it.  Accessory equipment like the snuffers and the trays they sit on are also to be made of pure gold.  Wow not even ladies of the southern aristocratic families of the last century had these many demands for anything they ordered for their fancy plantation homes. And God drives home His request by telling Moses to make sure that all these things are made in accordance to the pattern He gave to him on the mountain.  Our God is a demanding God.  But here’s the newsflash – He has every right to be.  And once again that is the hardest foundational hurdle of faith for us to overcome, and the rest comes easy. For those that are looking for a better (from a human perspective) explanation, Chuck Smith says God wanted it exactly the way He wanted it “because it has to be an exact thing if it’s going to be a model of the heavenly.” Then he points out that in Hebrews 8:5 we are told that that’s exactly what it is.
Remember this lampstand (along with the Ark and the ‘table of showbread’) was to be kept in the structure that God instructs His people to build next – the tent we call the Tabernacle. The lampstand was to be the light in the tent that would be completely covered and thus needed internal light, but Chuck Smith commentates, “it really was a symbol of God’s desire for the nation Israel to be the light of the world.
Matthew Henry takes the symbolism one step further. Until the real Light (Jesus Christ) was to come to earth (for He already existed in the heavens), God was not left without witness of His existence. The lamp, to Henry, represented the commandments of God, and the lights of this lampstand the law.  The branches from the lamp were the prophets who gave light in their time throughout the Old Testament.
As interesting as all this symbolism is, I must remind myself that it is all symbolic and sometimes left to the interpretation of commentators.  However, what we should not ignore to any extent is God’s caution that He now has repeated twice and I believe does so again later in Scripture.  Simply put, it is “Follow the Instructions!”  Not, “If all else fails, follow the instructions!” But follow them the first time. Henry says, “Nothing was left to his (Moses’) own invention, or the fancy of the workmen, or the people’s humor; but the will of God must be religiously observed in every particular.
And here’s why this is so significant according to Henry: “All God’s providences are exactly according to his counsels, and the copy never varies from the original.  Infinite Wisdom never changes its measures; whatever is the purposed shall undoubtedly be performed.” That’s critical.  God’s principles do not change.  If something was wrong in the days of Israel, it’s wrong today. If God desired a relationship with us in the day of Moses, He desires a relationship with us today. And so on. And thus His representatives in the Church today must administer all his ordinances according to His instructions. Jesus Himself echoed this when in Matthew 28:20 He said, “Observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

In the business world today, contractors lose their jobs if they fail to follow the exact specifications of the blueprints they are given. Engineers can get sued if they fail to build a product to spec. Deaths can result from such disobedience. So we all do our best to follow the instructions to a tee if we want something to work well. But for some reason, when it comes to either our relationship with God, or in our obedience to His directions for our lives, we think we can improve on the design or the process.

Many of you have seen the old movie with Julia Roberts were she, looking a little like a tramp, was refused service when trying to buy something at a very expensive store on Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills, California. She was asked to leave.  Later in the week, she drops in to the same store, loaded with several bags from a competitor elite retailer, finds the same saleslady, holds ups all her shopping and utters her famous line, “Big mistake. Big mistake. Huge mistake.” You ask what’s the connection? Simply this: When God tells you to do something, do it.  If you’re there to serve others – don’t pick and choose who you serve; serve all that God brings your way.  And you can draw many of your own inferences.  The point is you don’t want God or the angels He sends in disguise coming back and saying, “Big mistake.” Let’s get serious about God’s instructions and let’s follow them religiously. 


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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, December 28, 2015

God Wants To See The Bread at All Times & He Wants Us To Know It's There

The Table of Showbread


Exodus 25:23-30: “And you shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high. And you shall overlay it with pure gold and make a gold border around it. And you shall make for it a rim of a handbreadth around it; and you shall make a gold border for the rim around it. And you shall make four gold rings for it and put rings on the four corners which are on its four feet. The rings shall be close to the rim as holders for the poles to carry the table. And you shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, so that with them the table may be carried. And you shall make its dishes and its pans and its jars and its bowls, with which to pour libations; you shall make them of pure gold. And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.”
Moses is given more instructions for more furniture. This time, God wants the Children of Israel to build a table. And He gives them detailed instructions, not unlike the Ark. This time though he adds a request for a border around its rim. This is thought to have been like a molding or ornamental rim, raised above the level of the table, to prevent anything from falling off.  In addition, provision for carrying the table via poles through gold rings is required similar to the case of the Ark. It seems this table was also to travel with the Israelites, although, according to commentator Robert Jamieson, the poles could be removed to make it easier for the priests to carry out their duties at the table.
And for the table, God gave instructions for the production of gold dishes, pans, jars, and bowls. That’s the NASB list; other versions replace some of these with spoons, pitchers, cups, ladles, flagons, and goblets. You get the idea. Generally God wanted utensils to serve as broad platters to hold the bread, vessels for holding incense, and something to hold the libations, likely wine, made or offered to God according to the historian Josephus, and changed once a week when the bread was changed.
It is on this table, so furnished, that God instructs the people to “place the bread of the Presence”, and to keep it there, at all times, “before Him”.  So what is this “bread” or “bread of the Presence” as the NASB refers to it? David Guzik quotes Meyer in stating that the reference to “presence” is related to the idea that bread which is necessary for survival, should also remind us that God’s presence with us, in a relationship with Him, is just as necessary for us to survive. Literally, it may be translated as the “bread of faces” because it is associated with bread that is to be eaten before the “face of God”. Its presentation consists of twelve loaves.
Later on in Scripture (Leviticus 24:5-9), we will learn that twelve loaves were required – one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. They were made of fine flower (each of a specific quantity), set in a special arrangement on the table, and sprinkled with pure frankincense, and replaced weekly on the Sabbath.  But it is to remain in place all week long. Jamieson says, “This bread was designed to be a symbol of the full and never-failing provision which is made in the Church for the spiritual sustenance and refreshment of God's people.”

We need to keep in mind that this furniture – the Ark, the Table of Showbread, and Lampstand for which God gives instructions later, are all to be part of the Tabernacle, or as Matthew Henry puts I, “God’s house”.  It is here that God said He was pleased to dwell among the people. And He wanted to set a pattern for keeping a good house, in good order, clean, etc.  Oh that it were an example to us today.
Matthew Henry adds that this bread was an acknowledgement of God’s continued goodness to His people, in giving them their daily bread, manna in the wilderness, where He prepared a table for them, and, later in Canaan, the corn of the land. For this reason, Christ, in the New Testament, taught us to pray every day for the bread that we need. Henry takes the symbolism further by pointing out that this is a “token of their communion with God. This bread on God's table being made of the same corn with the bread on their own tables, God and Israel did, as it were, eat together, as a pledge of friendship and fellowship; he supped with them, and they with him.
Many of us do not have a “God designed” tabernacle at our place of corporate worship, let alone where we live. Even fewer of us have a “table of showbread”. However, we would do well to recognize the significance of God’s table of showbread weekly (the bread was replaced every Sabbath), better still daily (the bread symbolized God’s daily provision for us), and best continuously (God wanted the bread “before Me at all times”). He is the One Who dwells with us, for us, and in us. He is the One Who sustains us, protects us, and seeks a close relationship with us. We need Him and His Presence for our daily survival and our eternal salvation. I pray you will meet with our God at His Table of the Showbread today.



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- - Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.
 

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I Wish I Hadn’t Read It; But I Want My Children To and Fast

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Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Atul Gawande, Metropolitan Books, Henry Hold and Company
New York, N.Y., 2014

I picked up this book when it first came out. It was highly recommended by one of the magazines I read. With the exception of books that I read to help me with my spiritual journey, this book has had more impact on me than anything I’ve read lately.  Here’s why.
Atul Gawande is a skilled writer.  His sentence structures flow easily.  Here is a medical doctor that is also very much skilled in the craft of communication. You will enjoy his honesty, his humor, and his ability to share difficult news with you in a way that has you saying, “Thank you, although I wish I had not known”.
Gawande admits that doctors today are wired to keep us alive and really have very little knowledge of how to let us die, seeing death in their patients as a failure. And this sets up the main foundational premise of his book as he writes, “Death, of course, is not a failure. Death is normal. Death may be the enemy, but it is also the natural order of things.” It is then up to us, our family, our medical team, to determine just how much and for how long we will fight this enemy.
Early in the book, Gawande introduces us to the concept that while they have the physical ability and the financial means, “the elderly have. . . chosen what social scientists have called ‘intimacy at a distance’.” This then provides the setting for most of us when we do get beyond being elderly and actually arrive at being old, no longer having our full physical capabilities to serve us well, and in many cases, not having the financial resources to buy that care.
Regardless of our personal circumstances, sooner or later, “ . . . independence will become impossible. Serious illness or infirmity will strike . . .And then a new question arises: If independence is what we live for, what do we do when it can no longer be sustained?” The author spends considerable time showing us how things fall apart with some real-life examples from his family and his patients.  You’ll see someone you know in one or more of them and you may even imagine, down the road, your parents, or worse still, as I did, yourself in one of them. Gawande says the problem is that more than half of the very old live without a spouse; have fewer children than ever before; and have given no thought to how we will really spend our last years.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, the latter will never be the case after you read this book.
As the author steers us to our second “dependence” stage of our life (the first one being our infant years), he also reminds us that we cannot rely on the typical nursing home to make it all bliss.  He writes, “They [nursing homes] were never created to help people facing dependency in old age. They were created to clear out hospital beds – which is why they were called ‘nursing’ homes.” He then goes on to explain the likeness between prisons and nursing homes and how while they serve one or more societal needs, they do not address “the goal that matters to the people who reside in them: how to make life worth living when we’re weak and frail and can’t fend for ourselves anymore.” Much of the book is spent in answering that question and he does so competently. That alone makes the book valuable reading.
He also points out that an adult child, when trying to find a residence for their aged parent, who asks, “Is this a place I would be comfortable leaving Mom?” is asking the wrong question.  What should be probed is, “Is this place what Mom would want or like or need?”
The book covers our search for autonomy and a better life in our old age, as well as when it’s time to let go and the serious and very difficult conversations and decisions that must take place at some point between and by parent and child, and between and by patient (and family) and doctor.  These are very insightful chapters. In the chapter on letting go he tells us, reminding us of his earlier premise that, “. . . the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation.  You don’t want Custer.  You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knows how to fight for territory that can be won and how to surrender it when it can’t, someone who understands that the damage is greatest if all you do is battle to the bitter end.” And then he shows us how we can do that.
What I also found fascinating and very helpful was his description of three types of doctors a person can have – not so much in what they do for us, but rather how they arrive at what is done to us.  In a day when doctors seem to have a choice who to take on as patients, maybe it’s time we considered seriously who we want taking care of us or our aged parents.
The last chapter in the book is entitled Courage and it includes a line I found most memorable, “Assisted living is far harder than assisted death, but its possibilities are far greater, as well.
In the Epilogue, using the death of his own father, also a doctor, as was his mom, and the ritual of sending him off, Dr. Atul Gawande shows us exactly what he means by “Being Mortal”.
This is a book very highly recommended for all who have reached the age where they get a senior’s discount, for all who have parents of that age, for all doctors who deal with aging patients, for all politicians, and all ministers or counselors. If I left anyone out, please forgive me. It was an oversight on my part and you can blame it on my age. 
-- Ken B. Godevenos, Accord Resolution Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario. 15/12/27  

--> Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Gaining Access To God That's Acceptable To Him


God’s Desire To Meet With, Speak To, and Instruct, Us

Exodus 25:22: “And there I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you, about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”
Earlier in our comments about this chapter we pointed out how there seemed to be a bit of confusion as to what exactly was to go into the Ark that God wanted His people to construct.  Was it just the Testimony, the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) that He had given them in chapter 20 and if so, why was verse 21 referring to the Testimony He was to give them in the future? It turned out as we saw that the whole Testimony of God includes more than the Ten Commandments and this verse validates that interpretation. God wanted them to place in the Ark all the commands and instructions that He would give the people of Israel.
But what is really of greater focus at this point in the chapter is that God again repeats or makes reference to both His desire to meet with us and that He actually will. He intended then to meet with His people and speak to them and give them instructions.  And He still wants that for you and me today.
In the days of Moses, God said He would come and meet with Israel “from above the mercy seat”. He would come there because that was the place the blood of animals sacrificed to Him would be poured on once a year, on the Day of Atonement, and at that time, that was the necessary and acceptable sacrifice that God wanted.  Today, He comes to us also ‘through’ another ‘mercy seat’.  It is because of the acceptable sacrifice made on our behalf by His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose own blood was shed for us on the cross of Calvary.  What was happening with and because of the Ark in Moses’ day was symbolic of what was to happen, and did happen, with Christ on the cross – the ultimate “mercy seat” when God showed us ultimate mercy that we did not deserve and provided us a way of salvation through His Son.
It is because God accepted His Son’s sacrifice for us, and because we have acknowledged that Jesus paid the entire penalty for all of our sins, and taken Him as our Saviour and Lord, that God can and wants to come to meet with us today, to speak to us, and to give us His commandments (to us as a Body of believers through His Holy Word) and to us individually through His specific instructions for us.
While none of us were around to help build the Ark that God wanted and to experience Him visiting His people from above the mercy seat between the two cherubim, we have the privilege of being invited to meet with God, to have Him speak to us and to be guided by Him in our everyday lives because of the mercy shown to us by God and His Son.  All we have to do is accept that Christ’s sacrifice was made on our behalf; that His blood was shed for the purchase of our salvation; and that the one and only Almighty God, the Creator of the universe and all that is within it, does in fact want to meet with us, speak to us, and provide for us all we need to live this life.
The skeptic would say it’s too good to be true.  The salesman would say, “but it can’t be free.”  The scientist would say, “It doesn’t compute.”  The philosopher would say, “Surely, if there is a God, He could have come up with other plans.”  Believe me, it’s true and it’s free. It does not make sense from our perspective until we earnestly want it to see it from God’s perspective. And, no, there is no other way.  Yes, there is a catch – for one or more of all the above objections, our human nature often gets in the way of our believing it and thus we ultimately miss out.


Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.
 

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Friday, December 25, 2015

God's Instructions Include Not Only What, But How


The Mercy Seat and The Two Cherubs
 

Exodus 25:17-21: “And you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. And you shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. And the cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. And you shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I shall give to you.”
To my knowledge there is only one “mercy seat” and thus its definition is singular.  Simply put, the mercy seat is physically the gold lid that sits on top of the Ark of the Covenant or Testimony that God told the Israelites to build. But its intended meaning goes much deeper.
To begin with, it would be part of the two gold winged angelic beings that God’s instructions included – one at each end of the lid, each facing inward and thus each other – and together with the lid itself, all made of one piece of crafted or hammered gold.  Hammered gold results from the process of beating gold into an extremely thin unbroken sheet for use in gilding.  The modern process of gilding involves the application of different decorative techniques with a fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give them a thin coating of gold. It is of note here that when God gives us instructions of what He wants, He also tells us how He wants it done.
In particular, the two cherubim (or angelic beings) were to have their wings spread upward and covering the mercy seat.  Thus we assume that in order for the seat to be covered, the tips of the wings of the cherubim must touch.  The eyes of the cherubim were to be looking or focused on the main part of the mercy seat – the part of the lid in the middle between them.
However, the mercy seat is also where God comes in a formal sense and dwells among His people in the Old Testament.  Later, we learn it becomes critical in the Day of Atonement – it is on the mercy seat that the sacrificial blood is poured.  Put another way, it represents the locale of where our sins are covered, when in fact, later in the New Testament, Christ’s blood is shed for us in the ultimate act of atonement (payment of the penalty) on our behalf.
And then in our current passage, once again, God repeats His instructions of what is to go inside the ark – He wanted the law, the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments to be placed inside (as given to Moses already).  But here we have a bit of a snag in the text for God tells them to “put (in) the testimony which I shall give to you.”  How do we explain the future tense here?
The perplexity is best explained by having a broader definition of ‘testimony’ to include all of God’s laws that He gave and was to continue giving to the Israelites with respect to how they should live and worship.  The testimony in essence becomes God continued “communication” with His people regarding formal instructions that they are to observe and carry out.  Thus, on this day when He was giving these instructions to Moses for the people, while He had already given them the Decalogue or Ten Commandments, He knew there were still more instructions that He would give the people in the near future.  (Verse 22 of this chapter that follows this passage actually speaks of this. And once again, we find that if we sincerely want to allow Scripture to answer the questions that Scripture itself raises, it will.)

I believe that for us today, God’s instructions collectively for His people have been given.  His communication to His Body as a group has been completed. The finished work of Christ when He died for us on the Cross resulted in a completed work of salvation.  That is not to say that He cannot or will not speak to His people again as a group in the future, but I believe that will be after the return of Christ to the earth in what we refer to as “the second coming”.  For now, what remains is for each of us, individually, to heed God’s specific instructions to us – as we pursue our personal relationship with Him.  And in attempting to carry out those particular instructions to each of us, it is of paramount importance that we react the same way as the Israelites were intended to react – following all the specifications with respect to both the what and the how.


Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

 

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.