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It’s back to basics for me.
When my daughter turned 4 years old, the same age where a lot of my early memories start picking up steam, it prompted a nostalgia-laden look at what life taught me during those early years when a younger me wore Toughskins jeans and carried a Big Red Chief tablet and metal Star Wars lunch pail to school.
There is a book titled, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
I know the sentiment. From age 9 to 11, I thought I learned everything I needed to know about God the Father from the Old Testament, deeming Him a scary, hard-to-please overseer that doled out the 10 Commandments and a book full of Levite rules that made life hard for the Jewish people to live by.
I am not Jewish by blood, however, even as a gentile boy, I had a little taste of Judaic law.
My grandparents’ church, the only church I was familiar with, didn’t believe in the New Testament and didn’t teach it. For me, the Bible stopped at the conclusion of Malachi. Jesus wasn’t talked about. Christmas and Easter weren’t celebrated.
Instead, I remember “celebrating” the Feast of Unleavened bread around Easter, where every single possible crumb of bread was eradicated from the house for a week as a purification ritual. This meant I had to take matzo sandwiches to school for a week. Have you ever tried to keep baloney and cheese together while munching on two sheets of stale Manischewitz matzo crackers?
Several years ago, Stephen and I had finally reached a place financially where we could afford to use our tax return to do something we wanted, rather than sending it to pay off debt. The first thing on our list was to get rid of our old carpet that was covered in sippy-cup spots (can I get a witness?), vomit stains (thank you stomach flu), and just everyday grossness. I was finally getting new flooring! It was like 10 Christmas mornings put together!
The night before the crew was scheduled to come, we started moving all the furniture out of the living room. The last thing to go was the rug that had been lying in the same place for about 4 ½ years. We rolled that thing up and I was stunned. The carpet it had been covering up for all that time was at least 5 shades lighter than the surrounding carpet. It didn’t even look like the same flooring. It was so clean, while the rest of the carpet was worn, dingy, and disgusting. Why? This 5’x8’ rectangle was stainless and like new because, for the duration of most of its time in our house, it was covered and protected. It wasn’t exposed to the same level of wear and tear that the rest of the room was. It was shielded from the spills, muddy shoes, toddler brawls, and settled in grime. But as we were going about our days, we were oblivious to just how much damage was being done to the surrounding carpet until we saw the difference side by side.
Insert cheesy spiritual analogy . . .
Isn’t it so true though?
If you study the Bible from cover to cover, one of the most consistent themes you will find is the command and reminder to pursue holiness, to be set apart from the rest of the world.
It’s pretty incredible when you just stop and think for a moment about what God has done for us. Just take a moment out of your day, right now, and consider this…God actually sent His one and only Son down here to earth…who lived a perfect life…died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins…and rose from the grave defeating death and sin in victory.
Regardless of what is going on in our lives…are we blessed? You tell me.
I don’t ever want to come across insensitive to what you might be experiencing in your own life right now, but oftentimes I think we all lose our perspective on what is most important. Even in the hardest of times, we can trust Jesus to carry us through it. He went through the toughest of trials and can sympathize with our every weakness (Hebrews 4:15).
And because of what Jesus has done, we are blessed. Not only are we forgiven for all eternity (which is quite the blessing), we are also made righteous through Him so that when God looks at us…He doesn’t even see our sin but sees us through Jesus Christ.
You are blessed. I am blessed. We are all blessed for following Jesus and having a relationship with the very God who created us. That is simply amazing!
Here is what the Bible has to say with scripture on blessings:
In light of my most recent post regarding the days of Noah, I’d love to take a break from all the heaviness and explore a topic a little less heady . . . . . false teachers. If you haven’t had your coffee yet, you might want to go ahead and get that over with before continuing.
I have felt so weighed down by this issue for some time now because we are walking around in a day and age where new false teachers are popping up every day and they are getting more and more clever yet brazen. The main reason being that it’s so easy for anyone to have a platform, thanks to the wonder of blogging and social media. Trust me, the irony of that statement is not lost on me.
But that is the reality we are living in. Anyone who thinks they have something to say can click a few buttons, type a few words, click submit, and bam! They’ve now put their thoughts out there for anyone with internet access to read.
The vast majority of these posts are about completely innocent topics such as the latest fashion trends on a budget, recipes for the best pot roast on the planet, and current movie reviews. To all of you, keep up the good work. You’ve saved many a buck for my family and plenty of meals at my house. But this is not who I’m talking about. The ones that we are to be wary of are those who dive into topics of the spiritual realm. Too many times now, this same scenario has played out in front of us . . .
In this series, Back to Basics, it’s my hope to shed some insight about the freedom I found in Christ through some personal stories from my early years of wrestling with fear of Old Testament law.
When I was eight, I had a mesh baseball cap featuring Garfield the cat saying, “I live for Saturdays.” It wasn’t true. I survived Saturdays.
I lived at my grandparents’ house. They belonged to a church that I later learned was designated as a cult. I wasn’t forced to go to the church, but I was expected to obey the house rules.
One of those house rules, the Sabbath, was a doozy for a kid to handle. The Sabbath lasted from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. The Sabbath meant no television, no video games, and no playing outside or inside with friends. Basically, it meant no fun.
My grandparents went to church. I stayed at home. Alone.
Being a resourceful kid, I read all day, played with toys and listened to the radio (securing 80’s song lyrics in my head that stay with me today). I even went so far as to tape record the audio from Cheers episodes when they aired on Thursday nights so I could listen to them again on Saturday if I wanted to.
The hypocrisy. I was “obeying” the Sabbath, but I was audibly hanging out with a bunch of boozing adults at a Boston bar.
Beating the system felt good. But, I felt guilty. If Saturdays weren’t supposed to be fun, what did God think of my actions to disobey even though I was never officially told not to do something? I sure wasn’t going to tell my grandparents what I was up to. They just might take me with them to church if so.