How To Use Transition Words

Hello Everyone!

I just read this amazing post about using different transitional words. Do you and your kids often use “first, second, and third,” when explaining things in reports or essays? Read this post and try out some of these tips!

Enjoy the article!

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-use-transition-words

I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP! – Part 4

And now… Question #4 of the blog post series, “I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP!” Read the other blog posts here:

Introduction

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Question #4: “Aren’t you emotionally involved?”

Nope! I’m not! And of course, it’s taken me a little while to get here. But I’m so glad that I learned these lessons early on so that now that I’m older I know how to interact with people of the opposite gender. It makes my life – and the lives of those around me – much easier and definitely not as awkward as it would’ve been if I had shut myself off from boys at a young age. Because the fact is…

If you don’t know how to talk to guys (or girls!), what happens when someone wants to court/date you? You’re not going to know what to say, what to talk to them about, or if you even like this person! What if you aren’t even compatible? Wouldn’t it be smarter to at least have some friends of the opposite gender who are really just your friends, so that you know how to interact with them, and your potential spouse, in the future?

And this doesn’t necessarily have to be in groups all of the time, either! I love spending time in big groups of people. I feel you get to know people really well that way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a one-on-one conversation with a member of the opposite sex. I’ve been able to do this, cultivate good friendship, and not get married! :-)

For example…

I was taking music classes at a local college. I had several friends there, and we would often meet for lunch on the one day a week that I was going to school. On several occasions, I ended up just having lunch with one of my guy friends. Or at least having thirty minutes to an hour of time with a guy friend before others joined us. Did we plan for that to happen? No, we didn’t. Was it a date? Definitely not! It was just two friends eating sandwiches on the front porch of the music building, catching up on life and talking about classes. We never got super in-depth. Neither of us shared our hearts. We were open and had fun and had great conversations and got to know each other better. We were in a public place and got to meet some other college students, as well. It was a great time of refreshment and fun and getting to know each other. But no, we’re not getting married.

At Spiritual Twist Productions, we often have late night play practices or performances or stay out late going to get food because we’re starving. :-) The guys always make sure that the girls get to their cars safely, which we greatly appreciate it! On several occasions, I’ve ended up talking with a guy who’s having a hard time or who just wants to catch up on life. People know where we are. We’ve never shared anything inappropriate. We aren’t getting married. We’re just friends.

Several of us really like to contra dance! Recently, our contra dancing hall moved to a creepy area of town, and then moved to another building where the only parking was a parking garage. Being a girl, I don’t like to go to parking garages by myself at night. I actually don’t like going anywhere in the dark by myself for reasons of safety. My guy friends always make sure I’m ok getting to my car. Not because I’m not a capable young lady, but because they want me safe, and I want me safe. So, in order to not be stuck in a creepy/unsafe parking garage by myself, I met one of my adopted little brothers for dinner at Wendy’s and we both drove the ten minutes to the dance together. Was it a date? No. We’re just looking out for each other and eating cheap food and having a good time! :-)

Some of my friends and I wanted to support a locally made Christian movie. When I got to the theater, it ended up only being me and one of my guy friends. Did I get up and leave because it was awkward and uncomfortable? Nope. I trusted him, he trusted me, and we had a good time supporting a good movie. It wasn’t awkward at all!

Since I speak and travel to conferences, there has been several times when I’ve taken a road trip with one of my publisher’s sons. We drove for several hours together, listened to music, talked, sang, even had dinner and ice cream together. His parents knew that we were coming to join them. My parents knew that we didn’t want to drive two cars several hundred miles there and back and were totally fine with it. We both had a great time and got to know each other better. Again, no one thought we were getting married. We were two friends going to work at a conference.

In all of these instances, again, you have to communicate and be careful.

I communicated to my parents when we needed to go to conferences together. I told my parents every time I ended up being alone with a guy eating food or talking, even if it was just for a few minutes. They knew where I was, what I was doing, and who I was talking to. There’s accountability there. There’s trust built there. And most importantly, you learn how to be friends and how to encourage each other in Christ.

But of course, use common sense and young ladies, don’t go anywhere with a guy you don’t know or are barely acquainted with. Instead, invite them to your church, your home, other group events. Guys, don’t go off with young ladies, either. Show you want to be friends, but again, communicate and be careful.

I’ve had many guy friends who have had to correct me on things. There have been times I’ve been too judgmental, or actually been unkind or unfeeling. There’s been times that I’ve been gossipy, or down in the dumps and self-pitying, and I needed someone to pull me back up. There have been times when I’ve had an emotional break-down with a guy friend of mine on the phone when I called to apologize or talk about something. There have been times I’ve been struggling in my walk, and the only people around at the time were my guy friends. I’ve been sick and had guys pray over me and comfort me. All of these times have been wonderful periods of growth for me. The guys all handled themselves respectfully in pointing me back to Christ, encouraging appropriate and Biblical behavior, protecting me, or just giving me a hug when I needed one. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had shut guys out from interacting with me. I know I wouldn’t be the person or the Christian that I am today.

Allow God to use the people in your life, guys and girls, to teach you how to interact with people and how to grow into the person that He means you to be.

Stay tuned for the final part of this series, Question #5, coming in just a few days!

 

“A Cry From Egypt” has been awarded “Christian Small Publisher 2014 Book of the Year”!!!

Yes!! You read that correctly! My book, “A Cry From Egypt,” received the “Christian Small Publisher 2014 Book of the Year” award!! Ahhh!!!! :-)

Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK you so much to everyone who voted and who passed on the word about my book! I couldn’t have done it without all of you faithful fans and friends! :-) This is such a huge blessing to me, and to the Great Waters Press family, who now has two award-winning books in their catalogue! :-)

The crazy thing was that I really didn’t think I was going to win. I barely had any hope of receiving the award. I promoted it a ton on my blog and Facebook and other places when it was first announced, but I hate having to ask people to vote for things and didn’t push it too much. I meant to do another wave of posts on April 1st, when I suddenly realized (on April 1st!!) that the voting was closed!! No!!!!! Terrible planning on my part. ūüėõ So I just assumed that I hadn’t received the award and blamed myself for it.

On Saturday night, my dad got a phone call from my publishers saying that they wanted to come by our house. Now, my publishers live over an hour away. They don’t just come by. I had no clue why there were coming. My first thought was, “This is either really, really bad, or really good.” Since we’re still working through the editing/publishing process with book 2, I prepared myself that this would be pretty bad. Either that, or they just wanted to bring me a contract or let me know that I’d been accepted by a big distributor or something. So I prepared myself for the worse and was really nervous. They didn’t get to my house until over one-and-a-half hours after they had originally called. At this point, my nerves were fried!!

Then all of a sudden the doorbell rang. I immediately jumped up to answer it. My publishers and their son came in, and Mr. Young had a purple folder in his hand. Mrs. Young was holding something behind her back, and told me to scoot away from the door so that I couldn’t see what it was. My mind was kind of in a whirl at this point, and I didn’t know what to expect or what to do. Mr. Young simply said, “We received this email today about your first book and we really thought that you needed to read it.” He said it with such a straight face!! I don’t think I even said anything. I just took the folder that he offered me and flipped it open. My heart was racing! And then I read this:

Congratulations!

A Cry From Egypt, Hope Auer, Great Waters Press,

has won the 2014 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award in the Young Adult category!”

I still can’t remember how I responded. I think I gasped and screamed and said something along the lines of, “I got the award??” And my mom screamed. And my dad and brothers cheered. And my heart started racing in a completely different way and I had a hard time breathing. And I couldn’t stop smiling. :-) And my grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousin who were visiting for the night all ran up to congratulate me! And Mrs. Young presented me with flowers that she had been hiding behind her back. And I was laughing. Oh my goodness. Sometimes my heart still pounds thinking about it! To go from expecting the worse – or at least something not NEARLY as good! – to getting the best surprise of my LIFE!!

I want to again thank all of you for your votes and for spreading the word about my book! You all are so amazing! And I want to give a HUGE shout-out to my publishers, Hal and Melanie Young at Great Waters Press! They have worked SO HARD to get my book into the hands of so many people, and they worked hard to get it nominated for this award and get enough votes for us to win! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU everyone!! :-)

And finally, all glory and praise to God! This book is completely based off of His story, and as I’ve said before there were so many times that I know that He wrote through me. It was nothing I did of my own accord. It was all Him. Thank you, Jesus, for this wonderful gift to me! :-)

Click on the link below for the official announcement!

http://christianbookaward.com

Yep. That smile says it all! :-)

My publishers and I!

My publishers and my incredibly supportive and amazing parents. :-)

 

Numbers 7:89

Well, you all know I’m writing books based on the Pentateuch in the Bible. One day, I hope and pray that I’ll be a “Pentateuch Expert.” :-) But for now, I’m still learning so much as I read through different passages of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Joshua and some of Judges are on the list, too! :-)

I’m working through Numbers right now. There are so many great stories of God’s mercy, justice, and provision in Numbers. But right now, I want to share with you a verse that really jumped out at me as a read through it. This is when Moses, the Levites, and the tribes of Israel had finished the tabernacle and were dedicated to the Lord, Yahweh.

Numbers 7:89, “Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.”

As I read that verse, I thought, “Whoa!! God was really, truly talking to Moses! With a real voice that Moses could hear, not just feel or hear in his mind! I wish I could have that kind of experience and talk to God like that!”

But then I realized, “Wait a second. I can talk to God whenever I want! And I have His whole Word to read and study whenever I want. Moses didn’t have any of that. He had to purify and cleanse himself before he could be in front of God Almighty and talk to Him. I can pray whenever and wherever I want, and I know that God hears, knows, and forgives.”

How cool is that?! While we might not hear God’s voice coming from the Ark of the Covenant, we can hear His still small voice through the Holy Spirit speaking inside of us. We can know His will from His word and His commandments. And we can go to Him no matter what.

While Moses’s experience might have been amazing, awe-inspiring, and astounding, I don’t know if I would really trade my life for His. I know that now I’m so much more grateful for what God has given me in this life. What about you?

Meet Shayna!!

Hello All!

Naomi Koch as “Shayna”

I would like to introduce you to Naomi Koch who is playing the role of “Shayna” in our radio drama! Naomi is one of my very best friends and accountability partners. I met her just over a year ago in our local Christian acting group. She’s incredibly talented! And really, she’s not bossy at all. Well…. Let’s rephrase that. She’s only bossy if she’s got a camera in her hand and is working on a photoshoot, or teaching one of her art classes. But in both cases, she’s entitled to be bossy because she knows her stuff! :-) Her artwork and photography skills are incredible! But even more so is her devotion to God, her family, her friends, and her work. She is so diligent, and loves to study the things of God and point others to Him. When I first met Naomi, she asked if we could go out for lunch. As we ate, she questioned me on exactly where I stood in my faith with Christ. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised that she was so bold and so passionate for the Lord. Many of my close friends at the time wouldn’t come out and ask me deep questions like that! She’s truly one of the best young ladies I know. This is what Naomi says about herself and her portrayal of “Shayna”:

“I like to think of myself as a passionate artist and follower of Christ! That pretty sums up who I am.¬†I try to live and surrender my life and walk to Him every day. Apart from my Savior I have no purpose or true meaning in life. He is my All and All. He paid the price for my sinful nature and I live¬†continually¬†in awe of His overwhelming mercy to save me from eternal death!

“I am secondly an artist and art teacher. I have many students who I have the blessed¬†opportunity¬†of being able to inspire and be inspired by. I am growing as I watch them grow. It is so amazing to see the many talents God has given them being put to good use!

“Acting and singing are also hobbies of mine! I got started in drama about two years back when I joined a theater group called Spiritual Twist Productions/Christian Youth Theatre. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my entire life and stretched me in so many ways! God has really used it to teach me a lot about dedication,¬†hard work, patience, and acceptance of His will.

“Being a part of the radio drama was such a great experience on so many levels! There were so many great moments that created lasting memories I will never forget! For starters, portraying my character Shayna was a real adventure to say the least! I am not sassy or flirty, and I’d like to think I’m not very bossy either. (My family might say¬†differently.) Rather than learning a good lesson of what¬†to¬†do from my character, as many of my fellow actors did, I learned many lessons of what¬†not¬†to do. I am very happy to be able to say that I don’t think I really relate to her in any way. She was fun to act though. I mean, where else can you get away with bossing your friends around?

“I certainly will never forget the many retakes and attempts made at Shayna’s “flirty giggle.” That had to be the most awkward and¬†embarrassing¬†moment of my life. But I think one of my fondest memories was getting to¬†ad lib in the background with all the “siblings” in one scene where “the mom” was shouting around the house. What was simply supposed to be chatter in the¬†background¬†between the kids turned into hilarious banter and bursts of laughter!
“I am so excited to see how God will work in the lives of young ones through this book and audio drama. I am blessed to be a part of it, and I cannot wait for book two!”

Meet “Eitan”!!

Hello All!

Let me introduce you to Jonathan Walton, who is playing our “Eitan” in the radio drama. I’ve known Jonathan for nine years now. He’s been a great friend and role model to me in so many ways. I’ve enjoyed our conversations about music, school, life, acting, and the spiritual discussions we’ve had during plays and Bible studies. It’s very obvious that Jonathan puts God first in his life, and that has been a huge blessing to many. Jonathan is also a phenomenal actor. I’ve had the privilege of acting with him in a few plays. I was his gun-loader in the spiritual twist version of “Les Mis,” and when he was “Jesus” in the Christian Youth Theatre production of “JESUS!”, I was the woman who anointed his feet with perfume. He always worked so hard in his roles and I enjoyed acting with him.

When we started with this process and I knew I needed to find a talented guy to play “Eitan,” Jonathan immediately came to mind for two reasons. First, he’s a great actor, a good friend, and had many similarities to Eitan. The second reason is actually rather comical… When Mike, my illustrator, was trying to finish up the cover for “A Cry From Egypt,” I couldn’t stand the way he kept drawing Eitan. He made him look like Moses from “Prince of Egypt.” I kept trying to get Mike to change the way Eitan looked on the cover, but Mike was having the hardest time finding a picture in his mind to help him make the switch. I was trying to think of people we both knew that could possibly look like Eitan. Nothing was clicking for either of us. I finally said, in exasperation, “Ok! Think Jonathan Walton with longer hair!” When Mike brought the revised cover back to me, I was like, “NO WAY!! That’s it!!” So, Jonathan ended up on the cover as Eitan, and it made perfect sense that I should try him out as the part. :-)

Jonathan Walton as “Eitan”

The day of the cold read, I was camping out in the Campbell University library working on the radio drama. It was finals week, and I had somehow managed to grab a group study room. When Jonathan got out of classes, he met up with me in the library. I knew that I didn’t have a ton of time to decide who was which role, so I immediately threw Jonathan into the middle of everything and asked him to do a cold-read of the proposal scene to see how he did. I read for Ada, and he read for Eitan. He nailed it!! I remember listening to his voice and getting so excited that I forgot to try and act, myself! He even sounded like he was really, truly crying! It was amazing. Just wait until you hear it! That and the whipping scene. Oh goodness! Chills! :-)

Jonathan Walton was home-schooled all through grade school and is currently studying Criminal Justice at Campbell University. He has a passion for music and acting, and has been involved in musical theater for eight years. During that time he performed in more than sixteen productions, and was a stagehand for over twenty productions! Jonathan plays a variety of instruments including the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, banjo, piano, mandolin, and harmonica. Jonathan currently leads worship for the youth group at Sovereign Grace Church in Apex, North Carolina, and also helps play music for his small group and, occasionally, for the worship time at the Sunday morning service. Here’s what Jonathan said about playing his role:

“I really enjoyed playing the part of ‘Eitan’ because of his strength of character. I can relate to the struggles that Eitan deals with, and it made the role easier for me to portray. ‘A Cry From Egypt’ is a book that people of all ages can relate to and learn from. I was encouraged by reading the book, and even more when I actually working on the audio book. The rest of the cast are Godly examples to me, even though many of them are younger than I am. I’ve known all of them for many years, and I have grown to love them even more through the time spent recording. I hope you enjoy the story, and more than that, I hope you learn by listening to it.”

 

All That I Need

It seems as though my most thoughtful blog posts come out on Mondays…. Not quite sure why that is….. But oh well. Here’s a rambling author’s thoughts for the day. :-)

These past couple of months have been incredibly hectic and crazy around here. What with having three birthdays in our family, the Christmas season, my parents going on a 2-week long mission trip to Africa, the recording of audio for my book, my grandparents needing some extra care…. Ahh! Not to mention that I’m trying to get my speaking schedule lined up for next year and somehow make head-way on all of this audio editing and working on ideas for the study guide and my second book. Oh, and teach piano to fourteen amazing students and enter a few in a competition. Whew! Life is never boring!

But as I’m trying to make all the decisions and sort through things, today I kind of realized that I wanted a normal life. Just for a little while. It just doesn’t seem like there’s enough of me and there’s always so many things for me to do. But this phrase kept coming to me…

God is all that I need.

He is everything that I will ever need.

We say that all the time. I say that all the time. I say it when I write, when I speak, when I teach piano. I know you home schooled moms say it many times each day as you teach your children and take care of the home. But today I realized…. I don’t believe it. I know it, but I don’t believe it. Deep down in my heart, I can’t seem to accept it. And now I know why.

I rely too much on myself and on my family and my friends. Today, I had to think about what my life would be like if I didn’t have my family or my friends. I realized that I might not be able to handle it.

This year, I’ve made it my commitment to learn to trust completely in God, to make Him my best friend first. Jarah’s journey is so similar to mine in all of these books. She’s learning the same thing – making God her best friend first. And obviously, both of us need some more work in that area. :-) Thankfully we still have three books to go and we can learn together! :-)

Here’s some verses to meditate on if you’re still struggling with trust and Jarah and I seem to be. :-) And just keep saying “God is all that I will ever need” to yourself. And then maybe, we’ll all be able to believe it together. :-)

Psalm 9:10, “And those who know Your name will but their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass.”

 

Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am¬†afraid,¬†I will¬†put my trust in You.¬†In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust;¬†I shall not be afraid.¬†What can mere¬†man do to me?”

Psalm 62:8, “Trust¬†in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is¬†a refuge for us. Selah”

Psalm 73:28, “But it is¬†good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust¬†in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.”

Meet “Acenith”!!

Hello All!

Meet one of my closest friends and accountability partners, Lindy Meeker! Lindy Meeker is playing “Acenith”¬†in the radio drama, Jarah’s Egyptian friend who lives in Rameses.

Lindy is an amazing and beautiful young lady. Her heart is devoted wholly to seeking God and His plan for her life. Lindy is a constant source of encouragement and support to me. She always points me back towards Christ and His word. Lindy helped me edit my first book, and has provided great insight for what I have of book 2! She is also an amazing actress. I met Lindy briefly at a homeschool conference almost six years ago, and then got to know her that Winter when we were in a play together. Our paths crossed for years, but we began to get closer after we both graduated high school and found out how much we had in common! She is such a blessing to me, and I know you’ll be blessed by listening to her in the role of “Acenith”!

Lindy Meeker as our “Acenith”!

Lindy was homeschooled all through school, and graduated in 2010. She attended Ellerslie Leadership Training, an intensive discipleship program in Colorado, during the Fall of 2011. Now she is¬†working as a part time nanny for a precious two year old girl, and loves being “Miss Lindy”!¬†She has been a part of Christian Youth Theatre for 7 years, as an actor, class assistant, stage director, and is now assistant directing. Lindy enjoys singing, acting, playing piano, laughing, being with family, and Christ-centered conversations with wonderful friends! Although she has a few ideas, she doesn’t know right now what her near future holds. She is trusting that God will make the next steps clear in His perfect timing! This is what Lindy says about playing her character:

“I learned a lot from playing Acenith, not necessarily from the character herself, but certainly through the process of bringing her to life! God faithfully helped me see that I could never do it in my own strength. I’ve never even tried to scream like that before! As I prayed, God enabled me to trust Him to do it through me. He always gives us grace for what He calls us to do. If something is challenging, it gives me an even greater opportunity to rely on Him, and to know in the end that is was only by His grace that it happened! “And¬†God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency¬†in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

My Book is Coming to Life! :-)

Hello All!

It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that we have decided to start recording my book and turning it into an audio drama! Trailers and promos are first on the list of production, but maybe one day it will actually be completely finished and you can listen to my book as dramatized and acted by my friends and family members!

We’ve had several recording days and have made many wonderful and amazing memories. I’ve pulled people from my family, church, and local Christian acting group to play the parts in my book. We are very far away from having anything listenable, but over the next months you will be seeing sneak-peaks of behind the scenes footage, get some previews of the recorded audio, see lots of pictures, and get to meet the cast and crew! :-)

Please be in prayer for us. A lot of this is super intense. Though I’ve done some acting coaching in my time, I was not completely prepared for this task. It’s a completely new medium of acting to me! And the editing and recording process is a very long one. It will take a lot of work, perseverance, and prayers from you all in order to have some finished products.

Thank you for your prayers and support! I can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on with you all!

Here’s the first picture for you all! This is part of our recording set-up. I’m working with our “Jarah,” played by one of my dear friends Tori MacDonald. Can’t wait to show you all the rest! :-)

 

Why Leviticus?

For the past several years, a good portion of my personal Bible study has revolved around Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. After all, if you’re writing an account of Biblical historical fiction, the more you know about the Bible the better! :-) However, I won’t lie to you and say that there have been many days where the last thing I wanted to do was read through all the laws about sacrifices and what was clean and unclean and what was moral and immoral. And then Numbers! Goodness! I’m not a numbers person. I’m a words person. So to be reading and trying to process all of those numbers in the book of Numbers…. Let’s just say that’s one of the last things on my priority list. :-)

There are many days where I’ve wondered, “Why in the world did God have to put in all this stuff? I mean, He could’ve summarized most of this. It’s not really relevant, is it?” Well, of course it is INCREDIBLY relevant! All of God’s Word is relevant and sufficient for us even today. But sometimes it does take a little longer to dig out.

Here’s some what I’ve learned over the past few years of my study of Leviticus:

First of all, I always wondered what was up with the whole “unclean animals.” Almost all of those animals we eat today, and there’s nothing wrong with them. But then, in my senior year of high school, I took an outside biology class. And guess what I discovered? All of the animals on the “unclean animals” list carry many parasites and diseases that could easily kill humans!! Today, we have ways to cook everything to the point where we can kill off those dangerous parasites. But for the Israelites who were traveling around the wilderness and didn’t have ovens or refrigerators or freezers, it was for their health and well-being, not just because God was a cruel tyrant. He was actually looking out for them. It may seem kind of blunt and mean the way all His instructions came across. But think if you were the Israelites who didn’t know what a microscope was. How would this sound to you?

“You may not eat from the pig, because inside of the pig are little tiny creatures so small that you can’t even see them. These little tiny creatures will make you so sick that you can die.”¬†That sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?

So in the end, God was protecting and preserving the Israelites, and not just trying to make their lives miserable.

Second, reading all these instructions about the sacrifices. In my new Bible I have a nice little chart describing all of the different sacrifices and what they were used for and when it was required that you bring that certain sacrifice to the tabernacle. We know that the sacrifices were to make atonement for the sins of the Israelites and the Israelite leaders. But my friend, Patrick, had a really, really good observation about why Leviticus goes into so much detail. Read this passage below:

Leviticus 4:13-18, “Now if the whole congregation of Israel commits error and the matter escapes the notice of the assembly, and they commit any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and they become guilty; when the sin which they have committed becomes know, then the assembly shall offer a bull of the herd for a sin offering and bring it before the tent of meeting. Then the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be slain before the LORD. Then the anointed priest is to bring some of the blood of the bull to the tent of meeting; and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil. He shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before the LORD in the tent of meetings; and all the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering which is at the doorway of the tent of meeting.”

Here’s what stood out to Patrick and I as we were reading this passage… No one, besides a specially appointed priest, was allowed to approach God’s presence, or even talk to Him! You couldn’t have the personal relationship we have with God today where we can pray to Him all the time, confess freely of our sins, and have His Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us. If it wasn’t for Christ’s sacrifice and death, we would be like this Israelites – separated from God by a thick veil, constantly having to kill animals to cleanse themselves of sin, and only watching Him and following Him, not being in Him. Yes, they were His chosen people. But today, we get to experience what the Israelites then never knew – God is with us. He is in us. We are forgiven because of His Son. We are truly free.

As we approach Christmas day, let’s remember Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. Remember that we are bought with a price, and that the little baby in the manager was also your personal Savior.