It’s a WONDER-ful Life!

Last Christmas our 3-year-old daughter fell in love and became obsessed with the famous fictional character named Charlie Brown. I’m talking completely obsessed despite the fact that she had never even seen him on TV. All she had was a Charlie Brown Christmas music book that went with her wherever she went…to the grocery store, to the doctor’s office, to my parents’ house…it went everywhere! If it was accidentally left behind, she made sure I’d never want to forget it ever again. 



Though the book offered 10 various push button sound effects, she only cared about one. All day long I cleaned and cooked and played to the sound of Charlie Brown’s children’s choir singing, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!” I often had to resist the temptation of mercilessly pleading for my daughter to stop playing the carol one more time as George Bailey did in the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 



My daughter’s sense of wonder and imagination didn’t end with Charlie Brown. Eventually there was a new imaginary friend, named Gracie, who began to make frequent visits. As someone who extensively studied child development, an imaginary friend was not alarming, rather expected for this age. However, I began to wonder about this Gracie the more my daughter talked about her. I taught my daughter the difference between real and pretend. She could correctly identify items and concepts as either real or imaginary, so when I suggested Gracie was just pretend, my daughter became agitated by my inference and insisted Gracie was real. I didn’t push the issue and continued to listen and wonder as my daughter engaged in full on conversations with this Gracie while playing around the house.

One night, as we cuddled in bed reading a Bible story that pictured an angel with majestic wings holding a fiery sword, my daughter pointed to the flaming object and nonchalantly mentioned that Gracie has one of those. “What does she use it for?” I curiously inquired. 



“Nothing. She just keeps it by her side.” replied my little one. Again, deep inside me I began to wonder if Gracie might be real. 

Weeks later, my daughter began to tell various family members that Gracie is an angel. Perhaps she finally found the word she had been searching for to correctly identify her familiar companion. Thankfully, nobody argued or questioned my innocent child’s faith. Her awe-inspiring claim was actually refreshing and I could see wonder welling up in those she shared with. 

As much as I would like to think I had something to do with cultivating a child so spiritually in tuned to the whispers of God, I can take no such credit. When my daughter told me that Gracie likes to sing, I asked, “What does Gracie like to sing?” Because we enjoy a plethora of children’s music to worship music, I assumed my daughter would say whatever song we happened to have stuck in our heads that day from our morning music selections. 

Rather, my daughter exclaimed, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” before I even finished my question as if Gracie was already singing the hymn for my daughter to overhear.

I know Angels exist, but I had my own preconceived ideas of what they did and playing with my 3-year-old daughter was not one of those ideas. It was then I realized that all this time my husband had been praying every night for God to send His mighty warrior angels to protect us. So, why did I fail to expect God to hear our prayers and be awestruck when we actually received what we requested? I struggled with this question thinking I have such little faith. While I know God tells us to expect our prayers to be heard and answered in faith, I think He delights in answering our requests in unexpected ways just to watch us wonder and awe at His works! So, the next time you pray, pray with expectation, but expect God to answer your prayer in an unexpected and wondrous way. 

Merry Christmas,

Jennifer McDaniel

Feast of Tents!

Feast of Tents began today! Okay, so it’s not really called Feast of Tents, it is called Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, but essentially the term tent is accurate since tabernacle means dwelling and sukkahs are temporary shelters. Thus, Feast of Tents is understood by our daughter who expresses great joy in the simple hanging of blankets and sheets!

Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

Deut. 16:13‭-‬15 NIV

“ ‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’ ”

Lev 23:39‭-‬43 NIV

If setting up temporary tents for a week sounds labourous, consider what the Israelites went through as they traveled by the couple millions through a desert! “That was the best camping trip ever”…said no Israelite ever! Have you read through the account lately? I’ll remind you what it entailed…travelling, complaining, people dying, Moses praying, God revealing His glory…repeat 10 times…or something like that. It wasn’t exactly the finest moment for the Israelites nor did it seem joyful in the moment, yet hindsight is 20/20 and the Jewish people recognize how God sheltered and provided all the way to the promised land.

Feast of Tabernacles is to be a joyous celebration of God’s provision and protection. So, go ahead and share the story with your kids as you build some amazing tents. Remind them that our home here on earth is temporary like a tent and that Jesus is preparing a place for us in heaven. Here are a couple links to help explain Feast of Tabernacles to your kids.

Jumpin Jerusalem – Sukkot

Livin in a Booth – Music Video

Blessings,

Jenn and John

Our Favorite Rosh Hashanah Links

Did anybody else have a sweet Rosh Hashanah meal last night followed by a sugared up toddler? Our meal was concluded by a 3-year-old meltdown begging for more honey after licking her bowl to the very last drop. It made me think…how many times do we cry and demand more blessings rather than gratitude after receiving good things from the Lord? 

Our daughter may not understand the reason for our celebrations or more accurately our rehearsal for God’s appointment with us at Rosh Hashanah, however, once tucked in bed last night she had some mature ideas regarding Christ’s return. She told me that His trumpet might be too loud and that she’ll have to cover her ears. Then she admitted that she hoped Jesus won’t touch her. Of course, I thought “WHAT?! Where have I gone wrong in teaching my daughter about Jesus’ love?” But, I restrained my deep concern and gently reminded her that Jesus loves her so much that He’ll want to give her a hug when He returns. Her reply to me was heartbreaking yet awesome. She wrapped her arms around herself as if demonstrating a hug and said, “But he might get His owies on me.” My dear little child understands Jesus’ owies, the cross and death, but understanding that Jesus is now alive and scarred is a little harder to grasp. After offering some clarity to my daughter about Jesus’ ressurection and scars, she ended the conversation with “I don’t think God will have honey in heaven, but I hope he has lollipops!” I’m not sure if she likes lollipops for their taste or the way it changes the color of her tongue as she giggles looking in a mirror.

We thought today we would share some of our favorite links that we have shared with our daughter to help us celebrate Rosh Hashanah together in fun, music and learning. Hope you enjoy as we continue the Feast of Trumpets.

Shana Tova!

~Jenn and John

Western Wailing Wall Live

During the day you can even hear the shofar being blown in Israel! *Note: Israel is 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

Rosh Hashanah Jumpin Jerusalem

A couple presents the meaning of Rosh Hashanah to children in a simple and cute way.

All about that Rosh

A talented guy sings accapella about Rosh Hashanah

What’s for Dinner this Rosh Hashanah?

It’s already the Friday before Rosh Hashanah and I’m just now menu planning. Last year, I spent weeks browsing Pinterest for apple recipes, decor and kids crafts. To be honest, our family celebrated Rosh Hashanah a month ago when it was rumored that Israel erroneously added a month to make it a leap year despite the barley harvest being ready. Between some following the solar calendar and others the lunar calendar, really only God knows what day it really is! Interestingly, if you read the rules regarding observing the Passover, in Numbers 9 God allowed Israelites to observe the Passover (called a second Passover) exactly a month later if circumstances prohibited them from being able observe the official Passover the month prior. What a gracious God to recognize that we are only human and though He has set an appointment, such as the Passover, He is willing to delay for our benefit. Perhaps the same will be true for the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). If He delays keeping the Feast it is for our benefit as His desire is for none to perish, but all to come to Him through repentance. So, have you been in a time of repentance? Is the Lord waiting for you to confess that stronghold in your life? If you have been reading Psalm 27 every day, you will have noted that the Lord is to be our stronghold. Often the word “stronghold” is seen in a negative light. It has almost become synonymous with the word addiction and an addiction by definition is anything you keep returning to. Therefore, Psalm 27 remains in perfect context describing the Lord as our stronghold. Our prayer is that you are holding strong to Him and experiencing the blessing of repentance and victory in Jesus.

Rosh Hashanah follows a solomn time of reflection and repentance. It is a 180 shift in emotion met in joyous celebration. Nehemiah concluded the rebuilding the city’s wall with a Rosh Hashanah celebration and encouraged the people to rejoice and delight in what must have been a very promising and happy new year!

On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding. Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all of them, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.”

Nehemiah 8:2‭, ‬9‭-‬10 HCSB

Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah meals are saturated in honey, apples and pomegranates. The sweetness of the food is a symbol of a sweet new year and the joy of the Lord. Honey reminds us of the promised land that flowed with milk and honey. The Israelites had to wait much longer than a year to enjoy the sweetness of a promised land, but once there it certainly did not disappoint. 

Pomegranates…oh how I do not like pomegranates! Sorry, but way to much effort for only a miniscule amount of sweet juice. Has anybody ever tried to count the seeds? Even though pomegranates can contain between 200 to 1400 seeds, Jewish legend taught there were 613 seeds representing the 613 mosaic laws…equally as annoying I’m sure. I much prefer going to the store and buying a bottle of Ocean Spray Pomegranate juice! The juice, therefore, could be equated to the age of grace. Jesus fulfilled all 613 laws and now offers the juice of His hard work on the cross to each of us.

So, as you plan your Rosh Hashanah meals, keep these ingredients in mind. We will be enjoying garlic honey crockpot chicken with rice, sweet glazed carrots, pomegranate ginger ale punch, and upside-down apple cake! 

Shana Tova!

~Jenn and John

The Last Trump

Have you been wondering who to vote for this election? May we suggest voting Biblically?…The Bible says we will be raised at the LAST TRUMP! Haha! Okay, no political agenda here, but we couldn’t pass up a great pun. We don’t know if God’s sense of humor will stretch into our election this year, but we do believe Jesus is coming soon!

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NIV)

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

The Feast of Trumpets is quickly approaching. September 1st is the day Teshuvah begins – 30 days before the Feast of Trumpets followed by 10 more days before the Day of Atonement. Everyday during Teshuvah the trump is sounded to call people to repentance. Then, on Feast of Trumpets the shofar is sounded 100 times. The 100th blast is the last trump! Originally, Teshuvah was just the 10 days between Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. However, the 30 days prior were added that all may be found right with God before the Feast of Trumpets lest they find themselves in the Days of Awe known as the 10 days in between. The 10 days of repentance are the last days to seek repentance before the Book of Life is thought to be opened on the Day of Atonement.

You are invited to join us during Teshuvah and seek repentance during this time. John has put together a daily reading guide for us that can be found HERE or by clicking on the “Teshuvah 2016 Readings” on the above menu. 

We also put together a short video for you to hear (and practice if you have a shofar!) the various trumpet blast that occur during Teshuvah and Feast of Trumpets. See below or click HERE to watch our video…and our funny 3-year-old who just had to show you her trumpeting skills too!

Stay tuned for some more posts like how to host a Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) gathering and maybe some sweet recipes for a sweet new year…that is a Jewish New Year!

Blessings,

~John and Jennifer 

The Jewish Wedding

If you have been following along, you know that we have been equating the Feast of Trumpets with the marriage of the Bride (the church) to Christ (the Bridegroom).

…the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

Matthew 25:10

 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.

Ephesians 5:25

The thing about weddings is that every culture has their own traditions. I can assure you that American weddings differ from Chinese weddings or African weddings, etc. Furthermore, in the American culture there is trendy freedom for a Bride and Groom to deviate from tradition and add their own personal touches. So, it can be very easy to have a distorted view of what the marriage of the church to Christ might look like depending on what culture you are accustomed. That is why we would like for you to watch this video that details what the traditional Jewish wedding entailed. Since Jesus is Jewish and explained things or taught parables that reflected the relevant Jewish culture He was within, we must learn from our Jewish roots to better understand the scriptures and picture of the coming wedding. Hope you enjoy!

The Jewish Wedding

Love,

John & Jenn

Fall Feast Rehearsals

It has been a while since we have blogged…it’s been a little busy around here as many of you can surely relate. But, before we break down each fall feast in their beautiful details of foreshadowing and future fulfillments, we would like to briefly share the fun we have had these past few weeks in celebrating them this year.

Feast of Trumpets

As we shared in prior posts, Feast of Trumpets begins when the new moon appears. It begins the Jewish new year and since it is the only feast that falls on a new moon, it is also referred to as the unknown day and hour. It’s a feast with a little bit of mystery because when you read through Leviticus 23, all the other feasts have several components and instructions. Feast of Trumpets, on the contrary, is simply a day of blowing trumpets. It is the only feast that has over a hundred trumpet blasts with four specific rhythmic blows. The first is an awakening blast and the last is just that…saved for last and known as the last trump!

For many reasons found in scripture and in conjunction with Jewish culture, Feast of Trumpets is considered to be the future marriage of Christ to His Bride…the church. In order to get married, it only makes sense that Christ would have to first come get His Bride…referred to as the rapture, or snatching up, or catching away. We will examine the support for this in later posts.

So, how did we celebrate Feast of Trumpets? We continued to use the shofar app on our phones, but John found a live webcam of the Western “Wailing” Wall in Jerusalem and we tuned in for a couple days and got to hear the real shofar blasts throughout the day! It was a beautiful and sad experience. Beautiful because theses Jewish people are really wanting to seek repentance and blessing through their prayers for a sweet new year and sad because they have misunderstood and rejected Christ who offers both. Without a temple, we can only imagine the hopelessness they must feel.

We ourselves looked for the new moon (even in the middle of the night), but Wednesday came and went, Thursday came and went, but not a sliver of the new moon appeared. Friday morning we packed up and left for the Northern California coast where John had the honor of officiating a wedding for our friends. It was a perfect way to spend Feast of Trumpets as we anticipate Christ coming for us His Bride! Every Feast of Trumpets is a rehearsal for the marriage of the Lamb. Every marriage between a godly man and woman is a tangible, experiential glimpse of Christ’s love for us. Witnessing a wedding reminded us of how we felt before our wedding…excited beyond words and a little nervous about the unknown of how life was going to be different as two become one. It is with the same excited yet anxious expectation we await the second coming of Christ.

McDaniel Wedding-378

Day of Atonement

Ten days after the new moon is seen, Day of Atonement begins. The day is initiated with a 25-hour fast, prayer, 5 services, sacrifice for atonement and wearing white to symbolize purification. There is much significance in the foreshadows and future fulfillment of this day too, which we will dedicate to a post of it’s own. The day is regarded as God’s final judgment, thus is why it is considered the holiest Jewish day of the year. To be honest, we admit we did not observe this feast as the Jews do. We actually got carried away with a limited opportunity to remodel our kitchen. Here’s where irony enters. We bought a new home a year and a half ago and immediately noticed flaws and blemishes with our kitchen. We eventually discovered major construction mishaps that actually posed safety risks. With some investigation we found out that the kitchen was constructed by an unlicensed felon! For a whole year, we sat in disgust every time we looked at all the imperfections of our kitchen. Long story short, we finally were allotted time and resources to fix the structure and paint over the cosmetic issues. We spent our entire Day of Atonement working furiously. We hardly ate anything (maybe a granola bar for lunch) and ended up covered with white paint. Our cabinets now serve as a visual reminder of atoning…making right what was wrong. We certainly do not mean to take the day lightly, we revere His holiness and our need for atonement. However, we claim the blood of Jesus as the once and for all atonement for our sins. If we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive.

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20141011_231107{After}

Feast of Tabernacles

Last but not least, Feast of Tabernacles is an exciting feast full of rejoicing! To describe it’s celebrations in very simple terms, it is a cross between a wedding reception (think lots of food, people, music) and the Olympics (think torch, lights, nations). But, yes you guessed it, we will post all the fun details in another post. If you have been following the blood moons, then you know that the second blood moon in the 2014-2015 tetrad fell on Feast of Tabernacles. The blood moons serve as book ends for the feasts this year. The first blood moon fell on the first feast (Passover) and the second blood moon on the last feast. This will also happen in the same manner next year.

Before bed October 7th, we set our alarm for 3:30am. We awoke just before the fullness of the lunar eclipse. Because our entire Bible study has been following the feasts and studying Revelation together, we knew they were planning to watch too. We sent out a mass text that read, “Wake up, O sleepers and look at the moon!” Only close Bible study friends allow you to text sarcasm at 3:30am! We got texts back immediately stating they were already awake. One family even woke up their four children (the youngest just 7 months old) and sent us a picture of all them in the backyard on a blanket. It was in that moment I felt so excited to be a part of something so big and together with other believers. It was a special time of watching and waiting together.

20141008_034136_LLS

It also just so happened that we were gifted tickets to a King & Country concert at a local church for the next evening. Jenn felt like the only one present crying just 3 songs into the concert overwhelmed by such joy in being together with others as we sang and danced in worship to God. It was a beautiful rehearsal for the millennial and heavenly unity and praise we get to participate in one day.

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During the dinner reception at the wedding we attended during Feast of Trumpets, we had the privilege of sitting next to and talking with a lovely couple about the feasts of the Lord. As we were discussing Feast of Tabernacles, the gal shared how she and some family friends have celebrated with a progressive dinner party. If you’ve never done a progressive dinner party before, it is a group of people who alternate hosting each course of dinner. So, appetizers would be at one house, main course at another house and dessert at yet another house. The significant symbolism is that Feast of Tabernacles is a reminder of temporary dwelling. Therefore, a progressive dinner party also achieves the same feeling of temporary dwelling as you travel from home to home. So creative and something we would love to plan for next year!

 

We would love to hear if and how you celebrated the fall feasts in comments below. Stay tuned for posts digging deeper into the Biblical historical, foreshadowing and future fulfillments of these fall feasts.

Blessings,

– John & Jenn