Before you start reading this post be forewarned that the contents in here may actually change your life and the lives around you….plus, it is part 2 of three so go back and read the first one if you haven’t yet.
In this section of the time I spent with Mary Jo having coffee we discussed in depth her love for her Jewish roots and also “Tentology”…which is a word that Mary Jo created herself to talk about pulling away from the busyness of camp.
The gleanings from these two questions I put into affect in my household THIS week and it has already changed the atmosphere. I will go into it more in my gleanings.
Again, Mary Jo is so precious and wise. The anointing that she carries for prayer and her insight into scripture is contagious. So again, be forewarned….you may catch it too after you read and watch this post.
Me: Alright so the other thing about you that I love that fascinates me is…falling in love with our roots. And you do the same thing…you celebrate Jewish festivals and you do Shabbat as well. How long have you been doing that? What shifted in you? Why do you do that?
Mary Jo: Okay…so…I’ve watched other families incorporate it into their lives…and it has always been fascinating to me. I would read about the feasts…I’m going to Israel so I am understanding more and more about the times and the seasons of God…but what happened specifically about Shabbat was…about 5 years ago…a few years ago….I was trying to understand rest.
Mary Jo: Mmmm! That four letter word rest?
Me: Yes…its convicting…go ahead.
Mary Jo: I was really coming from a time of burn out. Just being more of a DO..er than a BE..er. I was having a serious conversation with the Lord about it. I’ve gone down the road before where I’ve said to Him…I know how to do but I don’t know how to be. In fact these are from the days of Shady Grove. I can remember exactly where my prayer chair was at that time. The Lord said to me, “If you learn how to obey, you will learn how to be. Spell Obey.” And right in the middle of the word obey is the word be. So He said “If you learn how to obey you will learn how to be.” So I have always known that that was foundational to finding the rythym of God in my life. But sometimes my enthusiasm, commitments, life itself..can get ahead of me. So here I was asking the Lord really about how to find that rythym of rest…in my life. I was googling rest and I came across the book called “The Gift of Rest” by Joe Lieberman. Joe Lieberman is the democratic congressman. He is an Orthodox Jew…so I downloaded it and I opened, and there it was. On the very first page was a quote from the Talmud…and what it says is, “The Holy One blessed be He”. And the minute I read that, Megan, the rest of God settled on me. The Holy One blessed be He…and there was like an awe that came . I know that we call Him Abba and Daddy…but the Holy One blessed be He said to Moses “Moses, in My storehouse is a goodly gift, and Sabbath is its name.” The Lord said to me, “Mary Jo…it’s a gift. It’s a goodly gift I’ve given you. If you’ll learn how to Shabbat…If you will learn how to Sabbath…you’ll go another lap.” That’s all it took, Megan, and I am on a quest. I’m not where I want to be. I’m not where I need to be, but I am in love with the goodly gift and the graciousness of God…to WANT us to have a rhythm of rest in our lives. To want us to come to Him…”all ye who are weary and heavy laden I will give you rest.” And all of us no matter where we are in our walk with the Lord…our prayer burdens can become unrighteous. They can become heavy. They can become burdensome. We think that we care more, but we don’t care more than God does. There’s always got to be that alignment and that…that lining up and that measuring and that walking with God…and Sabbath is the goodly gift. I went and I polished my silver and I’m reading his book and I got my china out. I called Central Market and I said…I thought I would dumb it down for them….”Do you have any of that CHallah bread? (Ch…being pronounced here)” And they said, “Oh do you mean the Challah bread (Ch…as in phlegm pronounced)?” And I set the table and I invited guests. We just talked about what God was doing in our lives. So that was the small beginning. Then in really finding the heart of God for this…it’s enormous. I’m having fun with it now. I’m learning how to make the challah bread. I’m finding out that I “need” to “knead”. I love every bit of the process. God has hidden in His scriptures…He has hidden in the feasts…and if we dig there is tools and there is tips…and there’s life. There’s a blessing that comes with Shabbat that I’ve watched demonstrated in Israel in the homes that I have been invited into to experience their Shabbats. When I was in Israel one time it was a friday night and our team we were having dinner at our table and behind us were two long tables. There must have been 40 relatives. Generations. Before they started the meal they went around and blessed each other. Mothers cupping their children’s faces. Uncles hugging each other. Grandparents embracing the grandchildren. Laying hands. Fathers going over to their sons. There was such a blessing. I thought…wow, God…how many people do we minister to today that are in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s…that have never had a father’s blessing? What if the church…had in us…a weekly gathering where the fathers honor the wives…where the fathers spoke blessings over the children? What Joe Leiberman said was that his children…no matter what went on that week…good, bad, or ugly…they knew that when they came to the Shabbat table (begins to get choked up) that their father was going to bless them. I want that for the church. I want that for us. I want that for the believers. So…I’ve really come to believe that….this is my theology….that in the Romans scripture where it says, the one new man where the Jew and Gentile come together…I don’t believe that the Jews are going to become Gentiles. You know where in scripture that it says that we provoke them to jealousy? (choking up again) I’m provoked to jealousy right now. I believe that they have keys that we need in the church…that we need incorporated into our lives…a rhythm of God. Pastor Robert teaches…there are not nine commandments…there are ten commandments. We must remember to keep holy the sabbath day. What does that look like? What does that look like? I believe that there is more intentionality. So, Megan…I’m on this side of what I am learning. I love what God is showing me personally. I’ll tell you this…when I talk about it…it creates a hunger and a thirst and a curiousity in other people. I love what you are doing because a leader just shares what they know. I know that there are a lot more people that know a LOT more about Shabbat than I do…and the feasts…and the celebrating, but I know a little bit more than some others…so I want to share my little and continue to grow in the much.
Me: Well, it bridges the gap.
Mary Jo: It does.
Me: It calls people and brings them along to where as you learn more..then the rest of us can learn more…then other people.
Mary Jo: Plus, I sense the heart of God on it. I mean…I’ve taught people to needle point, crochet, cross stitch, make pies…I’ve taught prayer, communing with God, quiet time, spiritual disciplines…but there is a weightiness of God on this that says this is not you, Mary Jo. This is something that I am depositing in you that I want for others. This is how I feel about intercession. I’m an intercessor, and often times with intercessors God will trust us to carry a mandate, an anointing, a calling…that He wants us to war for so it paves the way for the others to come in. Does that make sense? Like Moses standing and getting the water parted.
Me: Like a trail blazer.
Mary Jo: Yes. That’s how I see a lot of intercession. So I am contending…what does that look like in my life? What sacrifices do I have to make? How does that flush out? Here is something else that I love that Joe Leiberman talked about in the book…Shabbat is not 24 hours…it is a mindset. Its all week long. I am going to have to find out that somewhere in that that God is teaching me ceaseless praying…because on Tuesday I could find chocolates and think…Oh…that would be good for the Shabbat meal. All week they are planning on meeting with God. There’s more of an intentionality in that that I have in my life…so ….
Me: Just in you saying that, I’m thinking about the Father’s blessing. For a kid to come up and know that they will get that weekly blessing from their father on Friday…but EVERY SINGLE DAY…we can wake up…He will hold us in His hands and say…You are my child, and I love you.
Mary Jo: There is something to it. So I am on a journey…a quest…I love the baking. I’m a Home Ec. major…they don’t have that anymore. They made me take chemistry, so I quit and joined the airlines. I love the kitchen. I love the preparing. I’ll put my ear phones on, and turn up Marty Geotz really loud. We just start singing about Shabbat in the kitchen. Even if I am making bread and we are not going to have a gathering, I make it to give it away. I love it so much.
Me: I was going to ask you why you like to bake but you just explained it. You also talk about Tentology….which is kind of in the same realm…I’m thinking….but what exactly is Tentology?
Mary Jo: I will tell you what Tentology is…because it is my favorite word…because I made it up. I don’t love it because I made it up but I love God’s heart behind it. In Exodus 33:7 it talks about Moses leaving the busyness of camp and pitching a tent to meet with God. It goes back to that busyness of life, and how important it is for us to be able to leave that busyness of life and establish a place to meet with God. Tentology is really the study of the tent…so…I’m a Tentologist. (We laugh) My life is dedicated to studying about meeting with God. Now I’ve written about it and I wrote about it in my book…my prayer chair…an intential place to meet with God. I know that I can pray with Him in the car, shopping, hunting…wherever…but this is a dedicated set apart sanctified place that I meet with God. It’s my tent of meeting. Then I’ve learned how God has taken that presence of God that I meet with Him here tucked it in my heart…and I can be teaching…I can be in a moment of contending…I can be in a busy place and I can find that tent place in my heart and just tuck in. I call it tucking in. Tentology is the study of meeting with God. It is the study of the pulling away from the busyness of life. Its back to that rhythm of God…incorporated into our daily life.
Me: How would you give advice to Moms….where even when you go to the bathroom you see the little fingers under the door?
Mary Jo: Here’s a couple of things. One time at the alter I was praying for someone…it was a young mother…they live in an apartment…married…four children…and I said, “You need a place to meet with God.” You need a tent. I said, “Let me pray for you.” I prayed that God would show her His place to meet with her. A couple of weeks later she found me…she was all excited and said she had found the place. Her “tent” was in the bathtub with no water. She would literally go into the bathtub and that was her place where she met with God. I know that that just blessed the Lord…He met with her there, and that was her tent of meeting. For some it is sitting in a car…not on…its removing yourself….and I know those little fingers that come under…YET even in that…I’m thinking about the very first prayer room that I ever had when my grandchildren were 2 and 3. They would color while I wrote. I think of Susan Wesley the mother of…she had 19 children and she ended up raising 10. Her tent was an apron. When her kids saw her apron go over her head they knew she was praying. How about that? I love it!!! (pure giddiness)
Me: (In shock…my brain just blew up a bit) I. Love. That.
Mary Jo: I know!!! I love it. AND…a friend of mine loved the idea of a prayer chair…the intentionality of it…what it said…and she went home…she has small children…she found a chair and she carried it into the bedroom. They asked what she was doing, and she said listen you can talk to God anywhere but this is my special chair. This chair is my meeting place with God. A couple of days later her young boy…probably about 7 or 8…came home and said, “Hey mom, I need to talk to God about something…can I sit in your prayer chair?” She watched him go in there and she watched his face have this intense conversation with God…and when it was over he got up and said, “That was good.” And she said, “What was that all about?” And he said that there was a bullying situation at school and he didn’t know how to handle it and God gave him an idea.
Me: (speechless) (silence…wait for it…THEN I speak) That’s amazing.
Mary Jo: That IS amazing, Megan!!! This is my prayer chair…this is my safe place…this is where I am totally me. This is where I meet with God and I work things out with Him. I LEAVE burdens with Him here. Where I had this prayer chair recovered my sister who moved to Heaven in 2004 was my prayer partner and she had a slipcover over her prayer chair, so I got the slipcover and the fabric that is under mine is her prayer chair. Isn’t that sweet? So, tentology is really just a study of meeting with God. Where it becomes a place that we meet with God and it becomes the presence of God that we anchor in here and we take it wherever we are at. You know when people say…”There is just something about her. She carries the joy of the Lord. She carries the presence of God.” What is it? I believe that it is that they have learned how to meet with God, and they carry that with them. Even in the bad times…I don’t want to be Pollyanna about this…but I’ve gone into some very hard places…sad places…but I carry what God has given me here.
Me: Because you have got to be the light.
Mary Jo: You’ve got to meet with God. How to leave that business…and meet with Him face to face. Read Exodus 33. Scripture says that when they watched Moses walk towards the tent of meeting they would put their little tents on. Did you know that the tallits are called “little tents”?
Me: Yes, I did know that.
Mary Jo: Some theologians say that Paul was a tent maker but his “tents” were prayer shawls. Did I share that?
Me: Yes you did. I love that. I want one.
Mary Jo: Well there is one right behind you.
(This picture is from Mary Jo’s website http://www.maryjopierce.com and also her facebook page. It is a picture of her lighting the Shabbat candles…and by the shape of the bread loaf…it was Rosh Hashana.)
Ok…my Christmas list is ever growing longer and longer as I keep reflecting on my time with Mary Jo….now I have added a prayer shawl to my list. So…Kyle….hint hint…wink wink…nudge nudge. I also need to learn how to bake bread, but that is a different story…and requires much practice.
Rest. Yes. It has been a dirty little four letter word in my life and even now it still can be. Rest. It has been a knock down drag out fight between me and the Lord…of which He always wins. I must rest. It isn’t a time out…punishment…which is how I viewed it until just the past year or so. It is a gift…a necessity…a command. “If you learn how to obey, you will learn how to be. Spell Obey.” A simple Word from the Lord, but difficult nonetheless. We could interpret this as obeying every rule to the T from the Bible and making sure we are picture perfect and at church EVERY single time the doors are open and….and….and…that is not what it is meaning. The Lord is saying…meet with ME…obey ME…rest in ME….Abide in ME…and then and only THEN can you BE. Be who you were meant to BE.
And as Mary Jo was saying Rest is a mindset…Shabbat is a daily practice. This is why I loved gleaning everything that I could from Mary Jo about Shabbat. There is a deliberate intentionality to weekly rest and meeting with God in your own home with your loved ones that fills me with awe. You are saying “God, we as a family are making room for you to come in and meet with us in a very special way at this Shabbat meal as we celebrate You and that we can eternally Shabbat in You.” Yes, it is a mindset we have as believers all week BUT to actually have a dedicated meal to remember this and be intentional about it…it is just beautiful. I also love the blessing of the children and the mothers. Every week my husband lays his hands on our children and speaks a blessing over them…no matter how the week has been. He then blesses me and my kiddos lay hands on me and bless me as well. “Her children rise up and call her blessed;her husband also, and he praises her:” (Proverbs 31:28) Mary Jo is right. This is a key we need in the church. Her words and the cry of her heart…I am gleaning and pasting below for they have been pressed upon my heart now as well. There is no going back after gleaning this:
There was such a blessing. I thought…wow God…how many people do we minister to today that are in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s…that have never had a father’s blessing? What if the church…had in us…a weekly gathering where the father’s honor the wives…where the father’s spoke blessings over the children? What Joe Leiberman said was that his children…no matter what went on that week…good, bad or ugly…they knew that when they came to the Shabbat table (begins to get choked up) that their father was going to bless them. I want that for the church. I want that for us. I want that for the believers.
Now…tentology. Don’t you just love that word? I’m just upset that I wasn’t cool enough to come up with it first. I gleaned this and was able to put this into practice first thing the day after having coffee with Mary Jo. I had my quiet time and when I went to pray I told my daughter that I was going under the “prayer tent” and that while mommy was under there she needed to not interrupt. She was polite and obeyed…after about the 2nd reminder…we are working on it. However, the most touching part was that during her nap time she emerged from her room to tell me that she had just come out of her prayer tent. I went into her room to see her prayer tent, and when I approached her bed I saw her little blanket piled in the middle around her Bible. She is three….and she is learning to meet with God. I asked what the Lord talked to her about and she said…”That He loves me.” Yes. Tears!!! More TEARS!!!!! I texted Mary Jo immediately to let her know of the blessings that are spilling over into our family from just that one particular gleaning.
This week I remind myself of this gleaning and to pull away from the busyness of camp to meet with God for it is a heart crushing week. I lost a dear friend, mentor, and colleague to cancer this past Saturday. “There is just something about her. She carries the joy of the Lord. She carries the presence of God.”…are words that Mary Jo could have used to describe my friend. In reading this and typing it….that is my prayer. I want to carry the presence of the Lord in this difficult time. I must make room for Him. I MUST leave the busyness of camp and meet with Him in a very intentional way. He has something to tell me, and most importantly He wants to hold me and let me cry and yell if I have to.
So, tentology is really just a study of meeting with God. Where it becomes a place that we meet with God and it becomes the presence of God that we anchor in here and we take it wherever we are at.
So, I must meet with God and abide in His presence and anchor in that…THEN I can take it wherever I go. THEN and only THEN can I change and affect the world around me. Where the presence of the Lord is change happens, and I can carry it with me IF…I meet with Him. This week I want to take His presence with me even if I am in mourning and the others around me are mourning. We will make room for Him…meet with Him…mourn with Him…remember our friend with Him…laugh with Him…and the more of HIM we get…the more of HIM we will leave wherever we go. Just like my friend did, and just like Mary Jo does.