Measure Up!

Monique has just completed a two-and-a-half-day stint with a fourth-grade class. She likes the continuity of substituting in the same class consecutively! This assignment was a bit more challenging though. She was required to teach a math-measuring, specifically geometry, exercise using a protractor. During her twenty-two years in the classroom before retirement, she taught her second graders mathematical concepts on many occasions. However, the math that fourth graders are doing these days looks a lot more like what was done in high school back in the day!

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It's a good thing we have a family math expert in one of our daughters who majored in the subject and taught high school math for 14 years. Michelle usually gets a call for assistance when mother is faced with questions about obtuse and acute angles, tangents along with various geometric shapes. As you can imagine, this is quite “above her pay grade” as an elementary school substitute. This time the daughter was unavailable. So, it was YouTube to the rescue! With a brief tutorial from another kind of expert along with some serious tenacity, our favorite sub was able to successfully complete the assignment.

I like practical math. It’s gratifying to see school-age children using manipulatives and tools that equip them for everyday issues like measuring ingredients for cooking or using a simple ruler to measure the width, height, and depth of things. I still use my algebra to determine ratios and percentages for budgeting and financial matters. How important are math skills? I remember a local high school physics teacher tutoring and telling one of our girls, “Math is in everything!”

Math and measurement are used throughout the Bible.  Dry volume measures like omers, seahs and ephahs were regularly used as Jewish standards in ancient times. Do you remember how Ruth gleaned at harvest time in the fields of Boaz? The Scriptures say that “She gleaned in the field until evening, and beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.” (Ruth 2:17, NKJV). That measurement of barley would be approximately the equivalent of a bushel today. No wonder Naomi, her mother-in-law, exclaimed, “Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? Blessed be the one who took notice of you!” (2:19).

It's fascinating to consider the accuracy of measurement prescribed in the Bible. The dimensions of the Hebrew Tabernacle were calculated in cubits (17.5 inches).  This ancient and portable worship structure measured 10 cubits (15 feet) wide, 10 cubits in height, and 30 cubits (45 feet) in length. All covered in goats’ hair for the tent. Its opening entrance was on the east side. Imagine the incredible beauty of those “ten curtains woven in fine linen, and of blue, purple, and scarlet thread… the length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits.” (Exodus 36:8-9).

There are some numbers that factor into this season of Lent on the Christian calendar as well. We are on a forty-day journey of introspection, renewal and spiritual development. Ash Wednesday on February 22 was the launch date for Lent, and it will officially conclude with Holy Saturday on April 8. Some interpret this as a time of sacrifice and giving up some things. Others see this as an opportunity to take up new ministries and spiritual exercises.

On a personal note, I am reading the book of Luke each day using a 40-day reading guide from a popular Methodist pastor and author, Adam Hamilton, of the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, Missouri ( This resource syncs up nicely with the study book by Hamilton (Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws, Abingdon Press). Our online small group is using this book for our weekly Lenten study for the next six weeks. What do we hope to get out of this? Aside from inspiration, we are hoping to be renewed by God’s heart of love for the marginalized, broken and bullied of our world today, the ones that Hamilton regards as “Jesus’ friends in low places!”

How do you measure up spiritually? As believers, God is measuring us each day by the life of Christ and the spiritual gifts He has bestowed upon us through the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul offers this instructional warning, "Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." (Romans 12:3,NLT).

What intentional steps are you taking in this season leading up to Easter to look upward, then inward and finally, outward to the mission we are called to in Christ Jesus, our Lord? Let’s be humble, teachable, and renewed in these days of Lent! 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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