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Archive for October, 2017

In Exodus 26 we find all the instructions on the making of the tabernacle.  The tabernacle was to be the meeting place of God and man in the wilderness as the people of God travelled through.  It was basically a tent with expensive and intricate items of great significance inside.  It’s specifications were very detailed and every item had a purpose.

What we find here is that God not only wanted a special place to meet with his people, but he wanted a specific kind of place.  The kind of place God wanted was: movable, humble outside with treasures inside, with all parts and pieces well-made.  God is making a specific kind of place to point to and represent a specific kind of people who, in turn, would point to and represent Him and His own image.

God wanted not only his meeting place with his people to be movable, he wants he his people to be movable.  God wants us to understand that neither this world nor any place in it is truly our home.  Nothing here is permanent.  We are just pilgrims passing through.  God wants a movable, changeable, moldable kind of heart and soul to be evident in His people.  One who is dead set on their own works and their own strength is not suited to follow a Lord and King who is ever directing our paths and lives.

Secondly, the tabernacle and everything inside was very specifically made, placed, and positioned.  It was humble outside but held great treasures inside.  This is the way God would have his church and his people – who are, essentially, his church by the way – to be.  Hypocrites are shiny outside and rotten and ugly inside.  God’s people are to have their treasure inside and be humble on the outside just as the tabernacle was to be built.

The greatest things God determined to place inside the tabernacle were the law, the mercy, the light, and the bread of His Presence.  If a child of God or any church lacks any of these essential elements on the inside, it matters not how shiny and superb they may look or act on the outside.  We must possess a holy knowledge and fear of God’s law, extend his mercy and grace, be light in the midst of darkness, and rely on His provision and presence at all times.  If any of these precious things are lacking or we fail to possess or extend them, we fail to be the kind of representative, temple, or adequate dwelling place for the Spirit of God.  If we fail to hold high any of these specifics, we are likely not a person or a place God will use to meet with man very often.

Lastly, everything in the tabernacle was to be well-made.  Nothing God builds is weak, ill-positioned, or cheaply assembled.  WE are God’s workmanship.  God designs and builds his people in such a way that we are made strong, well-positioned, and well-made in Him and by Him.  In fact, it is because we are in Him that we are, by virtue of His indwelling Spirit, well-made with the very finest, strongest, and best raw materials.  The same was true of each and every very important, symbolic items he instructed to be built and placed in his tabernacle.

If you ever doubt your worth or God’s work in you, consider the tabernacle.  1 Corinthians 3:16 tells you otherwise.  You are His temple; His dwelling place; the very vessel He – by His Spirit – chooses to live in.  Paul reasons that this is the reason that Christians ought to be unified. Consider what kind of place he is building you to be.

 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. ~1 Corinthians 3:16

 

 

 

 

 

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golden-lampstand.jpg

The third item Moses was instructed to tell the people of God to build that was to be placed in the not-built-yet tabernacle was a golden lampstand.

The lampstand was to have one central shaft with six branches – three on either side.  This was representative of an almond tree.  The purpose of this item was to give light.  There were to be no windows in the tabernacle.  This lamp had great use.

Symbolically, we know that the golden lampstand pointed to the prophets and to the future church.  These were to be the light-givers among God’s people and in the world.

In the book of Revelation, we find Jesus Christ giving a warning to his church in Ephesus saying, “…I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5b)

What were they to repent of?  Why this kind of warning and what did it mean?

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. – Revelation 2:4-5

Despite the fact that many “good works” were being done and much good doctrine was being taught in Ephesus, Jesus tells this church that he was going to remove their light; withdraw His presence and Spirit; snuff out their very existence as a light-bearing influence in the world for one reason and one reason only.  It was this: they had abandoned their first love.  There was NO LOVE!  They had turned aside and loved the world MORE than they loved their Lord who should have been all to them.  Therefore, he tells them to repent.  REPENT, CHURCH!  Those are the words Jesus Christ chooses to say to an erring church who is failing to obey his two primary commands which are to love God and love others.  If they refuse to repent, their lampstand will be removed and there will be no light; no Holy Spirit; no presence of God in their assembly.  I am not sure what is left in a “church” when those things are removed.  External works and religious shows, I suppose.  That is all that’s left in the place of a church who has no love and no light from God.

From this we know that the very Spirit of God will leave a church when that church lacks love and fails to repent.  He will remove their light and close their doors.  This is what God does when His church is consistently unfaithful to Him.

We are called to be salt and light.  Our vine, Christ, is the Light of the world and we are to be his branches shining light into dark places.  When we fail to do that, he removes His light from us.

Little wonder why the instructions for making this golden lampstand were so detailed and why Moses himself was told, “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40)

See to it that you make this light properly, Moses.  See to it that you love, Church.  See to it that you do these things MY WAY lest your light be taken away, Followers of God.  These are the things God is saying to His people.

If we learn anything from this passage, it is that the things we make and do in God’s house must always, always, ALWAYS be done His way; according to His specifications, His instructions, His will, for His glory.

“Infinite Wisdom never changes its measures…All His ordinances must be administered according to His institutions.” Matthew Henry

See to it, Church.  See to it.

And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.” Exodus 25:40

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table-of-showbread
The second item to be made and be placed inside the house God was building for Himself and His people was a table.  The table was to be made of a specific kind of wood and overlaid with gold.  The dimensions of the table and the instructions God gave for making it were very detailed and specific.  This was the table for showbread.  It was also known as the “table of the Bread of Presence.”

It was God’s presence being sited here.  This special table was not to be placed in the innermost room (also known as the holy of holies) with the Ark of the Covenant.  It was to be placed in the outer part of the tabernacle in a place called the “holy place,” or the “sanctuary.”  The table was to be spread at all times with the showbread.

The showbread, as it was called, was literally twelve loaves of bread – six on each side – representative of the twelve tribes of Israel; God’s elect people.

The presence of God…in the sanctuary…always spread with a portion for each and every one of God’s elect.  Doubtless we have here a picture of not only what Christ is to his people, but of what the church is to be for the people of God.  This was the sanctuary – a safe place; a refuge where the presence of God had provision ever set before his people.  That provision of showbread being always on the table for God’s people typifies Christ being the bread of life always offered as a sacrifice and a provision for his people. He is the Bread of Life and He is always enough for every one of His own.

This special golden table for the bread of God’s presence was to serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in giving their (and our!) daily bread.  It also served as a reminder of their communion and fellowship with God Himself.  He delights in our company when we delight in Him and His presence.  God is pleased to be in sweet fellowship with us.  What grace!

There is always room and provision at My Father’s table for those who love Him; for those who come; for sinners; for me.  I never have to fight for a seat or be sent away.  Men told Jesus’ own parents there was no room at the inns, but God made room in the world for him.  We, being called to be like Him, must always make room for others in our lives and at our tables.  We must trust in the spiritual, physical, and emotional provisions God will provide when we extend hospitality and practice inclusion toward all those who belong to God, and, even, those who don’t.

God keeps a good house.  He provides and presents to us all that we need if we but trust him.  The more times we spend in His presence, the more we taste his goodness, and the more we learn to trust the daily bread he provides.  The Lord told us to ask, and we shall receive.  His Word says we have not because we ask not.  Little wonder why Christ taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Trusting in God for daily provision for all things is a great act of faith.

God wants us to ask; to trust; to wait upon his faithful provision and to be content with whatever he provides for our sustenance in this wilderness we call earth.  One sweet day we will sit at the table with Him in His kingdom with all the saints eating and drinking eternally.  Even now, He is preparing that place for us and, as he said, there are many rooms in His house.  Not one who loves him will be left out.  Praise God!

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Is there grace for me here?

This is the singular question I asked upon joining the membership of a church five years ago.  This was my primary concern because, ultimately, a place where the gospel is preached must be a place where grace is extended to all people – not just some.  Not only that, but I know my own desperate need for grace.

After several months of feeling left completely out of the grace equation, I felt I had to ask.  When I looked around, I recognized that others were afforded love and grace that was continually, purposefully withheld from me personally.  Think junior high.  In junior high, one is very keen to the fact that they are not part of the accepted group.   It is an obvious observation because when the pariah walks in, she is avoided.  She sees them talking to everyone but her.  It doesn’t take too long to figure out that, no matter how many times she invites them, they are never coming over and that she will never be invited by them.  No matter what she does, she will never be good enough to meet their standards or be a part of whatever it is they are doing.

Still, we joined this particular church as members and continued to be avoided and accused by men who should have loved us; men who weekly claimed to offer grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy to all alike.

Finally, the initial red flag I had feared from the beginning was realized as right as rain.  I found that there was not grace for me or my family there.  Others, perhaps, but not us.  We were unmistakably avoided, repeatedly accused, and eventually slandered and excommunicated for reasons no one cared to discuss with us personally.

Sometimes people just don’t prefer you.  In these times, any offense will do.  Any irritation becomes criminal.  Every disagreement is grounds for nothing short of divorce.  When our hearts are hardened, whether our gracelessness is displayed toward a people group, a race, a religion, or an individual whom we simply do not prefer, the deceit within our hearts will justify almost anything including gossip, slander, maligning, misrepresenting, hatred, oppression, injury, and even murder.  Yes, this is the root of the transgression of the sixth commandment: You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)

(Read and watch more on that here: https://lorirodeheaver.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/command-number-six-you-shall-not-murder/  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jjfBYaQjnQ)

Sometimes preachers get sent to preach to people they simply do not prefer.  Yesterday, I watched, in living color, the story of a man sent to preach to a group of people he hated.  When God called him to the task, he refused it.  He ran in the opposite direction as fast as he possibly could.  He got into some “deep” trouble and he ended up doing exactly what the Lord had told him to do in the first place…but he was NOT happy about it.  In fact, he was so angry when those no-gooders repented and believed the truth of God that he wanted to die.  His name was Jonah.

But what would cause a God-fearing, scripture-loving, truth-telling man of God to hate the very people he had been sent to preach to?

The Ninevites were not nice people.  They were cruel, ruthless, wrath-bearing killers.  They were all kinds of evil.  They were not part of God’s elect Jewish nation.  They did not follow the Law of Moses and the only sacrifices they made were men, women, and children from other people’s families.

Jonah, on the other hand, did all the right things.  From childhood, Jonah loved God and his people.  He prayed; he served; he did good works; he followed the law; he obeyed God.  Surely he was entitled to things those evil people were not – things like God’s love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy —right?

Wrong.  Funny thing about love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy – no one deserves them.  God gives them as he wills to whomever he wills.  It is not our call despite any position or privilege we may or may not have within God’s church.  Jonah was a prophet who heard the very voice of God for himself and even he did not have authority or preference when it came time for God to pass out his mercy, forgiveness, love, and grace.

(You can read more about Jonah here: https://lorirodeheaver.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/running-away-from-gods-will/ http://www.lulu.com/shop/lori-rodeheaver/tomato-sandwich-rebellion-one-little-girls-journey-through-the-book-of-jonah/paperback/product-21012747.html )

Yesterday I received a letter from the second church who chose to avoid, accuse, and condemn me personally for reasons I have yet to be told.  As I sit wondering what on earth I did to cause so many people to hate and exclude me, I can only think of Jonah.  Regardless of whether I am indeed the worst sinner in the world and deserving of this kind of dismissal, the question that begs an answer is why?  What is the reason and why won’t anyone show me that reason so I might be able to see it and repent?  Isn’t repentance always the goal of excommunication?  Where are my accusers and why are they not accusing me of that which I must repent lest I be lost and damned?  Better yet, why are they not preaching the gospel to me in truth and love?  Am I beyond help?  Is anyone?

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I have been accused -always and ever accused.  Yet, none of the accusations made against me have been specific to any certain word or deed I have supposedly done.  All accusations and charges against me personally have been just that – personal attacks meant to injure and abuse.  No facts or specific situations wherein I have been found guilty have ever been brought up to me or discussed.  All accusations have been generalized, vague, broad-brush character assassinations.  No specifics; no examples.  And that’s how you falsely accuse someone without telling them why; without giving them an opportunity to reconcile, to be forgiven, to be restored, and to be a part of your fellowship.  That is how you exalt yourself to the position of judge, jury, executioner, and, yes, god himself.  That is how you rid your life of those you do not prefer.  I believe the Biblical term is “favoritism” and “partiality.”

Nevertheless, I know my own heart.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am not entitled to God’s favor.  I do not deserve grace or mercy or love or forgiveness.  The very nature of those gifts precludes merit altogether anyway.  So, if those who claim to be God’s people do not love and accept me, I have no grounds by which to argue for a seat at their lunch table.  I am a sinner and nothing more.  I am Nineveh and I deserve nothing but God’s wrath and judgment.

The truth is, the very men who tell me and my family that we are not welcome in God’s church must, in doing so, recognize that neither would they be if we use only the law to determine inclusion.

Thank God for His mercy!  Thank God for His love!  Thank God for His grace!  Thank God for His forgiveness! I may not ever be on the guest list at any church’s preferred people parties on Sunday mornings, but I know that my name is written in His Book of Life.  Thank God!

As for Redeeming Grace Fellowship, I have a few questions and a very few things I need you – and anyone unknowingly walking into your church – to know.

Dear Dana and members of Redeeming Grace Fellowship,

My family and I love you all very much.  We forgive you for all the things you have done to hurt us.  We ask that you would do the same for us.  We want only reconciliation and restoration. We don’t understand the reasons you have chosen to avoid us, abuse us, and remove us because you have not told us those reasons.  The silent treatment we have received and the absolute avoidance you all have conducted over the past year and even beforehand is not a Biblical method of dealing with erring brothers and sisters.  The Bible teaches us that if we have a grievance or if someone hurts or offends us, we are to go to that person individually, privately, and talk to them about how we feel we have been wronged or how we feel that person is sinning.  The goal of correction and discipline within the church is always repentance and reconciliation, not avoidance, exclusion, and exercising the silent treatment when asked for reasons for the avoidance and exclusion.

Telling your members they are not qualified to pray with other members is not a Biblical practice.  Telling your members they are not called to do ministry within the church to which they belong is not a Biblical practice.  Calling an emergency meeting of the entire church and having a session of gossip and slander about members who are not present is not a Biblical practice.  Avoiding accountability after doing such things is not a biblical practice.  Pretending nothing happened after doing these things and refusing to talk it over to find the root problem is not a Biblical practice.  Refusing to answer phone calls when questioned about why you feel the need to exclude, avoid, and remove members of your congregation is not a Biblical practice.  Speaking with the entire congregation about reasons why certain individuals are members of your church but are not welcome to attend any longer while simultaneously refusing to talk to the individuals themselves about these things is not a Biblical practice.  Failing to clearly address the sins of members and correct, pray with, and help them understand what they are doing wrong, your concern for them, and their need for repentance is the opposite of what the Bible teaches leaders in the church to do.  Telling your members it is inappropriate to pray with them about the unrest, injury, and overt division within your church is antithetical to what the Bible teaches. Telling a member that she is the problem when she is asking for clarity about why she is being removed is not a sufficient, helpful answer.  Telling her she is being divisive because she openly disagrees with a man who is telling the congregation that they cannot use Biblical methods is not a valid accusation.  Telling her she is divisive for attending a member meeting as a member is not a valid accusation.  Having the congregation vote to remove members after refusing to speak to those members for months – all after telling the congregation they are not welcome to attend despite their membership is not a Biblical practice.  Sending a letter informing individuals that they are no longer members without responding to their numerous, serious inquires asking why and when these matters could be discussed is not a Biblical practice.

These actions, and many other actions like them, which have all been practiced in your assembly are not Biblical, Redeeming Grace Fellowship.  Repent!  Please, please repent.  Please speak to us.  Please seek the Lord and the scriptures and see whether the things you have done to us and others in your assembly have been done according to the Scriptures.  The Lord is not pleased with leaders who abuse His people.  He will not bless your assembly unless you repent of these actions and attitudes.  He will not bless a church when they are running away from obedience to Him.

A church without grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness is not a church.  By definition, a place void of these essential elements is properly termed a club, not a church.

Lastly, if this excommunication were Biblical, would that not mean that we could not join any other church until the matter was reconciled with you and we repented of the grievous sin which caused it?  In your letter, you encourage us to go elsewhere and “peaceably get involved.”  There is no peace for an excommunicated member who refuses to repent to the point of being thrown out of a church.  That ex-member must make peace with God first, correct?  He or she must repent!  He cannot just go to a new church and “peaceably get involved” can he?  How?  He is at odds with God and man according to his spiritual authorities who have deemed him anathema!  Please, please explain this to us.  Either we need to reconcile with you all according to whatever charges you have against us and repent or we cannot go anywhere else to any other church and “peaceably get involved.”  Sinners must repent and be forgiven before peace can be made between they and God and others.

To that end I ask, why has not one single member or any leader contacted us after our many attempts to discuss these things and be reconciled?  (Save one couple who has since rescinded their own membership due to these numerous, unbiblical actions and practices.) Do not your own bylaws as well as the scripture text state that every effort must be made to bring a person to repentance before excommunication?  Why has that never once – not one single time! – been done by anyone?  Even criminals must be told what they are being charged with and why they are under arrest.  How can you claim to love Christ while hating your brother and sister? If the gospel is true, why can’t we be reconciled to one another as the gospel calls us to do?  And lastly, if you can do this to us – people who you have so many things in common with from skin color to theological understanding to socio-economic status to family dynamics – what will you do to those who are unlike you in many other ways and how will they feel when they come to your club?

In summation, we have but one single question for all of you individually and I do hope you will all come to us with an answer for yourselves.  It is this: WHERE IS THE LOVE?  This is God’s house!  These things ought not be so!

We love you no matter what you do or don’t do in regards to these injuries.  We forgive you and we pray for you daily.  We miss and love you.  We want only to be restored to all of you rightly.  Please consider your actions and do right by the Word and Our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Kyrie eleison.

In Christ,
Tim and Lori Rodeheaver

 

 

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ark
In Exodus 25:10-22, the Lord describes how he wants the Ark of the Covenant to be constructed.  What we find is gold, gold, and more gold was to be used to build this “box” or sorts.  Little wonder why God asked the people to offer their gold.

By making the Ark of gold, God was conveying its great importance.  Not only that, but being the very first item built for God’s house spoke volumes on its great importance.

So what exactly was this Ark and why was it so important?

The Ark housed the testimony of God.  This is where the Ten Commandments were to be kept.  There were angels to be carved out on top and in between the angels is where the Lord promised to meet with man.  This in-between place was called the “mercy seat.”

The mercy seat was, “the place at which estranged parties reconciled,” says R.C. Sproul.  It was the place of atonement or covering for sin.  Therefore, because we know that inside this Ark the law was carefully kept, we ought to remember that because we are now all a temple of the living God we must hide God’s Word in our hearts in the innermost places – just like the Ark was kept in the innermost part of the tabernacle – and learn to keep it carefully.

Israel carried the Ark wherever they went.  Likewise, we are to carry God’s Word in our hearts with diligent constance.

Still, when we sin against God’s laws, we have a covering.  Jesus Christ meets us at the mercy seat and atones for our sin.  Now that’s good news!

 

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familyworship
In Exodus 25, we find the three furnishings that the tabernacle was to house.  Here, we find what the contributions the people of God had been called to make were designated for.

It is somewhat unusual to build furniture before building the house, but perhaps the Lord intended here to show us an order of importance of sorts.  What goes into God’s house, namely the law, the mercy, the place designated for the bread, and the lampstand, is more noteworthy than the building itself.  These items represent what actually constitutes a true Christian and a true church today.

If we have not law and grace, a special place for the presence of God, and a light-bearing witness, we have not an individual nor a place prepared and fit to worship Almighty God.  We can place all kinds of other things into our hearts and inside church buildings but nothing other than these particular furnishings will suit.  Nothing other than these particular things will make either us or that building a place fitting, pleasing, and suitable for the Lord to dwell.  I imagine the reason why so much unnecessary and spiritually unrelated “stuff” goes on in the church is because the real elements and foundation necessary for true worship to take place are not even present.

 

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Life is so long and so short at the very same time.  We close our eyes exhausted from chasing toddlers wondering if the day will ever end and when we open them we are looking back wondering how they could possibly look so much like adults.

Every single day is so very important.  Every day.  Our time here on earth is short.  We have but a few minutes before we are gone.  It seems it is only the good things that pass by so fast.

The seasons of discouragement and doubt seem to last and last.  If we are not careful, bad days can turn into bad years, and bad years can turn into joyless lives.

Every single day is so very important.  Every day.  Our time here on earth is long.  We have years upon years to make a difference and influence those around us for the good.  We cannot allow personal setbacks or problems distract us from our purpose and the greater good.  If we do, we will end up looking back on a life poorly spent and largely unaccomplished.

I have taken somewhat of a hiatus from writing my personal thoughts over the past couple months.  I have not felt particularly inspired.  Truth be told, I have felt unloved, discouraged, and even unnecessary.  I have experienced heartache, hardship, and hurt over the past year.  If I am being honest, it has been a hard year. Still, a good year. I have gotten to know my Father so much better. What could be better than that?

And, I have been healing.  I have been sitting at the feet of my Lord and allowing him to be all that I need.  Healing is not a process one can easily explain and share while undergoing it.  But by God’s grace, I can see light.  His provision is evidenced in so many blessings that I can’t help be be thankful.  I have finally come to the place where I can honestly say to the Lord, “Whatever your plan is, that is exactly what I want today.  Suffering?  Give me that.  Miscarriage?  You’re sovereign; I surrender.  Shunning?  OK.  It’s your world, Lord, and I am just your kid. It’s your plan.  It’s your will.  It’s your authority to which I bow and none else.  USE ME.  Whatever that means in my life, do that.  Just use me.  Somehow, someway, get glory from my meager little life.  That is all I want and it is all that truly matters to me anyway.

I open my hands.  I unfold them and I wait.

When I was a young Christian, I used to pray every single day that God would allow me to die a martyr for him.  What I have found over the past twenty years is that it is likely easier to die for Christ than it is to truly live for him.  We die once.  As each day begins, we must live over and over and over again.  So I changed my prayer:

Lord, whether I may or may not die a martyr, please allow me to live a martyr.  Allow me to live dying daily for you that you might use me.  Give me peace with your perfect, sovereign plan.  Let me not miss the opportunities you give.  I do not need to understand, I just want to be used.  Please use me in this long, short life.  Amen. 

Every single day is so important.  Don’t waste it.

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