Monday, June 2, 2014

40 days without Facebook


April 20th - Resurrection Day- (commonly called easter) I decided to do something a little different. 

We have been exploring our faith from a different perspective this past year or so... rather than just blindly accepting the things we have always been taught, we have been researching them, studying them, to see if they prove true. 

Most of what I have practiced as celebratory for many years may actually have roots in a very old religion, the religion of the Sumerians. When Drason and I discovered this, we immediately began changing some of our practices to either eliminate the elements which appear to worship another deity, or to stop calling some fun days in our culture a Holy day or a day for worshiping God.  God's will is not a mystery, he gave Holy days to the Israelites and then gave instructions to the apostles in how to worship and celebrate Holy days in a way which honors God.  I have come to realize that it is only through thorough study of scripture, understanding the day as they were originally commanded, their meaning, their fulfillment by Jesus, and Jesus' commands to his believers that we will ever understand worship.  That sounds legalistic even to me - but - it is not rooted in the desire to change others to conform - it is the desire to learn and grow in the understanding of God - to understand how even the feast days pointed to the coming Messiah and to grow closer to the Lord as a family that worships together. It's about love, not legalism.

If you are interested in learning more about this - you might try this book

So what does all this have to do with Facebook?

Some of my friends were a little bit confused as to why I would stop using Facebook and why 40 days AFTER Christ's Resurrection, and not the 40 days prior (aka Lent)

The origins of Lent are somewhat muddled....
There was a man named Nimrod, who was the grandson of one of Noah's son named Ham.
Ham had a son named Cush who married a woman named Semiramis. Cush and Semiramis then had a son named him "Nimrod." After the death of his father, Nimrod married his own mother and became a powerful King. The Bible tells of of this man, Nimrod, in Genesis 10:8-10 as follows: "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad,and Calneh, in the land of Shinar." Nimrod became a god-man to the people and Semiramis, his wife and mother, became the powerful Queen of ancient Babylon.  When Nimrod was killed his Queen retained power by claiming that he became the sun god 'Baal' She taught that she was the moon and a goddess that went through a 28 day cycle and ovulated when the moon was full. She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River. This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. Semiramis became known as "Ishtar" which is pronounced "easter", and her moon egg became known as "Ishtar's" egg." Ishtar soon became pregnant and claimed that it was the rays of the sun-god Baal that caused her to conceive. The son that she brought forth was named Tammuz. Tammuz was believed to be the son of the sun-god, Baal. Tammuz, like his supposed father, became a hunter. The day came, in the spring, when Tammuz was killed by a wild pig. Queen Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal. She also proclaimed a forty day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz. During this time, no meat was to be eaten.  (This is mentioned in Ezekiel 8) Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made at dawn. It was Ishtar's Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs - both symbols of fertility. Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday.  Most of this information is widely available online from a variety of sources including Wikipedia and others.  Through this story you can see the origins of lent, easter, easter eggs, rabbits, sunrise celebrations, and even easter ham!  These are items which we have removed from our celebration of Christ's resurrection because of our own convictions.  
Why then would I choose to participate in a 40 day fast AFTER Christ's Resurrection?

After Jesus death his followers were scattered and in mourning.  Some had denied him, others returned to their old lives as if nothing had ever happened, some locked themselves away in fear. Jesus took this scattered group, the doubters, the deniers, those cowered in fear, all of them - and transformed them into the pillars of the Church.  Not a church, not a religion, the Church, the Army of the Living God Church, with Jesus Christ at the head, His Church which stretches throughout human history.  Hebrews 11 tells us that by Faith people are added to His number.  Jesus spent 40 days on Earth AFTER His death to teach and instruct His disciples, to give them hope and a future, to encourage them, uplift them, and TEACH them how to be His.  A good place to read about this time is Matthew 28, Luke 24, John 20-21 and Acts 1.

Jesus used 40 days to bring hope, to bring purpose, to overcome fear, to bring acceptance, to show love and compassion, to encourage his followers to spread the gospel, to restore the doubters and to cement the foundation of the era we know as the church age.  The church age, or the time between Jesus first and second coming where God shows mercy to mankind, and allows for our redemption. 

For me, 40 days without Facebook was a celebration of the 40 days of Jesus on Earth, after His resurrection.  It has been a time for me to look forward to the bright future that He has planned and my own transfiguration.  It was also a time to be renewed, as I imagine it was for the disciples, and has brought some clarity to several situations which, when viewed through the lens of life without Facebook, seem rather trivial.  Ending Facebook interactions actually eliminated a source of attack and discouragement in my own life and left me with more time to interact with the people I love and to re-discover some very wonderful friendships in real life =) I have a better sense of peace, purpose and belonging than I have felt in some time - I imagine this is what the disciples felt after their 40 days with Jesus.

How amazing it must have been to see Him alive and well.  I can't wait!



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seeking God

I am dreaming of spring - can you tell? This is like the winter that won't let go!

Right now, life is full of a lot of 'faith' things.  Maybe life is always full of faith things and I missed them so God is giving me some things I can't miss!

I am re-reading a book that I very much like.  I read it about 5 years ago after a very hard time in my personal life - I remember seeing this book at the library - and it just jumped off the shelf at me.  I thought 'This is the book that is going to explain why person X did that terrible thing to me!!'  God sure does have a sense of humor because in the end, the book was about me, and how I couldn't change them, but I could change me - and I needed to - fast!
Here is the book - I highly recommend it!

So this comes from the book I have been re-reading...  The author suggests that one of the main ways that Christian people are seduced into sin, is by taking their eyes off of the Lord (Faith) and doing what seems 'reasonable, rational or even religious'.  How many times have I fallen into that trap! 

Getting the right person for the right jobs, and all without hurting anyone's feelings.  Having enough money to pay the bills.  Choosing and buying curriculum for next year.  Making decisions about Grandpa's health. Working on relationships with my teen boys! All of these things require me to have faith that ultimately God is in control, but they also require that I take off the reasonable, rational or even religious, and instead seek God continually in these matters.  What I think may not be right, what I feel can deceive me, but what the Lord says, what He gives, is correct - even if it seems odd. 

I am not super mom/Christian/leader.  Please do not be under that delusion - I am only human and will likely disappoint.   I sometimes have difficulty knowing how to say what may need to be said or when I know I may be afraid to hurt someone's feelings.  God is working on this in me but I often put my foot in my mouth.  Because of this, I may not say something, even when I feel in my spirit that something is just not quite right. This is something God is working on in me - that I would have the courage to stand up for that voice, and the wisdom in how and what to say!

Part of the way that I discern God's voice is through spending time in His word and through isolating myself from most outside voices. So while I may not be spending lots of time on facebook or in emails or even in person, I am seeking, I am pursuing God for wisdom in all of these areas and so that when he speaks my spirit will hear!  What a blessing to be listening to the Holy Spirit that says 'this isn't quite right' or the quickening of knowledge 'YES, this is the way, walk in it!' 

So here is the word of encouragement to all you homeschooling moms who are thinking about next year (or really anyone who is thinking about anything!)
Maybe you aren't sure about curriculum or co-op classes or activities to plan. I would encourage you to take off what may seem reasonable, rational or even religious, put aside your expectations, and spend time in God's word.  Pray and seek him, seclude yourself in prayer, pray without ceasing - pray about it every time it comes to mind - stop and pray about it right now.  I had a friend who described her life as 'praying at the bookshelves, praying at the computer screen, praying at the dinner table.'  She was on her knees before the Lord seeking guidance and direction for her homeschool - and it shows!

I promise you that God does not want His will for your life to be a mystery - instead He wants to show you great and remarkable things! 

Jeremiah 33:1-3 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message: “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.

Please don't think it was just Jeremiah - because the Apostle Paul had this prayer - which he prayed for you and I. 

Ephesians 20: 14-21
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

and AMEN =)  God has great things in store for us!  Seek His will and be brave enough to follow him no matter where He leads!