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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The vow, part two.

As I mentioned in my last article, when we make a vow it is imperative that we fulfill our agreement. In the case of Hannah making the vow of the Nazarene for Samuel, he really wasn't given the option. Thankfully Samuel understood and was respectful of his parents and at least it appears went continued on. Samuel served in the priestly duties reserved for Levites. Thanks to 1st Chronicles we can see that Elkanah, Samuel's father, was a Levite and resided in the area allotted to the Ephraimites, one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Nazarite vow is recorded in Numbers chapter 6 and clearly lays out the requirements.
The first thing to observe is the vow is a dedication to the Lord. Have you ever gotten something for your birthday or Christmas that you know someone else got you so they could use it or in reality have it because it is something you completely wouldn't ever use? Well I have and I can remember talking about things I may enjoy or things I could use and every time the conversation would go back to, but you could really use one of these things. Needless to say when I received it I felt like, "this really isn't even mine or for me". This is magnified in the vow of the Nazarite. If you dedicate something to God, it had better be of first rate quality. Fortunately God deals with works in progress.
Verses 6:2-4 talks about the abstaining from alcohol or anything used in the process including grapes and vinegar. The last thing the lord would want is an intoxicated you. Many times in scripture you will see the effects of alcohol on people and their lack of good decision making ability. the more alcohol the worse the decisions. Now don't get me wrong, scripture does not forbid the use of alcohol, however it does have guidelines. Not only are there guidelines but you must consider the risks of alcoholism, stumbling, and what scripture does say about the use of it. Ignorance will not be a legitimate excuse to God. I usually tell people that decide to use alcohol there are four qualifiers.
1. you must be of legal age and of sound mind. Illegal use of alcohol, regardless of how old people were in the Bible is not a valid argument. Scripture says to honor the authorities and governments unless their is a conflict with the teachings of the Bible, my paraphrase.
2. If you cannot drink with a clear conscience you should not be drinking. If someone comes to your house and opens the fridge would they see alcohol? If so would you be ok with that? What if you were out to eat and ordered a drink and someone you knew from church or where ever came in, would you try to hide what your drinking? These are things to consider and honestly some of you answered, "it depends who it is that comes in". My question to that is, "should it matter?"
3.You must always be in control of it, not it of you. Scripture condemns drunkenness and the drunkard. Drinking has potential health risks anyway, as well as a few benefits but the benefits are only in moderation. I have never visited with anyone who says their marriage is so wonderful thanks to alcohol, or I can drive so much better when I'm drinking. Ok I have had people claim to drive better but the owi says otherwise.
4. and this may be the most important. A mature Christ follower will surrender his/her freedom to have an alcoholic drink if it is a point of causing a brother/sister to stumble. You need to decide before you reach for that drink if it is more important than your friends faith. Their are mature Christians that view this is the one area, they feel, you have no freedom and will try to force you to see things their way. This is an opportunity for folks to look to the word of God and grow but usually they have had a long history of associating bars, sex, rock and roll, drugs and all the things we "shan't" not do. Kind of like going to the movies or a dance. Amazing how all these things have gotten dumped into the category of Satan's trickery to get us in. I see David danced mightily before the Lord, and the movie the Passion was rated r but filled with people.
Bottom line is drop the legalism, look to scripture and live for Christ the best we can this side of paradise.
Till next time study that Bible!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Making the vow

In a world full of promises and pledges, it appears that our words have become resounding gongs and clanging symbols. It is pretty easy to make a promise but sometimes fulfilling it is the difficult part. Take the example of Hannah, found in 1st Samuel 1. She is the wife, one of two, of the Levite Elkanah, who resides among the Ephraimites. She was a woman who was unable to have children. Her rival, Peninnah torments Hannah because she has sons and daughters. In those days and in our day most guys would like to know that their family line will continue on when they pass. A son affirms this at least to some degree. Year after year Peninnah torments Hannah, to the point that one specific year, Hannah goes to worship God and is intently praying. We see that prayer in chapter one of 1st Samuel, where she makes a vow to the Lord. The vow specifically is a Nazarene vow. This is explained in Numbers chapter 6.
Num 6:1 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 6:2 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,
Num 6:3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.
Num 6:4 'All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin.
Num 6:5 'All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.
Num 6:6 'All the days of his separation to the LORD he shall not go near to a dead person.
Num 6:7 'He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head.
Num 6:8 'All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD.
Num 6:9 'But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day.
Num 6:10 'Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting.
Num 6:11 'The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person. And that same day he shall consecrate his head,
Num 6:12 and shall dedicate to the LORD his days as a Nazirite, and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his separation was defiled.
Num 6:13 'Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting.
Num 6:14 'He shall present his offering to the LORD: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering,
Num 6:15 and a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering.
Num 6:16 'Then the priest shall present them before the LORD and shall offer his sin offering and his burnt offering.
Num 6:17 'He shall also offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, together with the basket of unleavened cakes; the priest shall likewise offer its grain offering and its drink offering.
Num 6:18 'The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.
Num 6:19 'The priest shall take the ram's shoulder when it has been boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair.
Num 6:20 'Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.'
Num 6:21 "This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the LORD according to his separation, in addition to what else he can afford; according to his vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation."
This was not only a very serious vow, it was a vow of dedication to the Lord. Sanctification or cleanliness is of the utmost importance and when we make a vow to God we better make good on it.
I will be spending the next few weeks expanding on this vow. So today was just to get your feet wet.
Till next time
scripture was taken from the NASB Bible, Lockman Foundation.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Look at whats inside

Driving through the beautiful countryside today and nearly creaming a deer, I was struck with the reality of churches today behaving as a museum for saints. Come and look at how good we are! We want to be more "visible" within the community. What ever happened to being "available" for the community? I recall sitting in my office in Virginia reading an article regarding a certain main line denomination that had two articles that made the front page of the newspaper. Now understand this was a wealthy area and money talked or people walked. Anyway the main story was on the multimillion dollar addition a church had put on and paid for. The article spared no information as to the conveniences this church had incorporated into their new facility. State of the art electronics, the most plush and comfy of seating, etc. You get the idea. But as the article rambled on it said to see a following page for the remainder of the story, but among the fold of the paper was another article about the same main line denomination, probably the same church. Almost as a box ad the small bold font begging for attention proclaimed, "qpvkrndi raise 5000 dollars for missions in Africa".
I remember thinking, "oh that's nice isn't it? People mean everything to the church, especially the ones with money and within our own walls." Shameful is what it is. It was about this time the crystal cathedral announced they would be claiming bankruptcy, and another church was putting in a huge aquarium I their entryway hiring two employees to feed and care for the tank. I admit the tank was impressive and with the verse that says I will make you fishers of men, who could be upset?
I for one was sick with shame to even be associated with these people who have lost their way. I don't recall Jesus being "hung up on" a fish aquarium, or ornate glass or plush seats to sit our pious, better than you, sinner boy, hineys.
I will leave you with my summation. I don't want the church to be a museum for saints anymore, but a hospital for sinners.
Keep it real.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Creation vs Evolution

Well its been set for the big show down. In one corner, you have apologist author and Christian good guy, Ken Ham, in the other corner, science funny man, Bill Nye the science guy.
I remember watching Bill as my kids grew as well as Beakmans world. Bill Nye did do a good job at getting kids excited to learn about science. The problem..... not being politically correct...... I don't want some guy who doesn't adhere to the laws of science and discovery to be teaching my kid or any other kid in America. Science is supposed to be the observation, study and fact finding for the sake of learning truth. It gripes me when you present logical evidence and someone can completely disregard it. I'm not even a scientist and I get the flaws with carbon dating. Why don't the real facts get discusses such as lack of fossil record, lack of "stages of evolution, and how in the world does a chipmunk become a giraffe? Oh that's right it evolves over millions of years, after all we couldn't possibly live on a planet that is only 1000's of years old. I mean, really maybe these crazy folks who call them selves scientists should go to ivy league schools like the liberal, atheistic scientist's do? Oh wait, they do. What a surprise that when everything is laid out on the table, the evidence is obvious and the crazy science begins. I suppose its a bit like the journalists that used to report the NEWS, and not make up their own stuff to sway their readers. I think of the people I know who bash Rush Limbaugh and the like but get offended if you talk poorly of any liberal off CNN. Lets look at the facts and face up to them.
In reality I just want to say that the stakes are very high here. Ken Ham has the knowledge, skills and expertise to wipe the floor with Bill but Ken will be gracious and try to reason with Bill. We all know that the liberal paper will report otherwise but I pray that Bill sees the reasoning in what Ken will say. Bill would have the opportunity to make a significant impact if he would just admit the truth and not become defensive and argumentative. Remember when science used to be discussion? That is what I pray for. Won't you join me in praying for this encounter? Mark your calendars and pray daily but especially on the 4th of Feb at 7 pm. which is when the encounter will take place.
As one final note, I find it disturbing that if you Google the event you will find Bill Nye's name repeatedly but very seldom find Ken Hams. Another observation is the degrading comments made by self professing atheists regarding Ken Ham. My friend your obviously lower on the evolutionary progression than most to call names, slander and to claim we should spend the money wasted on these debates on nature. ........Who do you think is responsible for nature you moron? Creation demands a creator, the same as your mouth demands consequences.
Anxiously awaiting the debate and opportunity.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Invest in your marriage.

I've been a big fan of Greg and Erin Smalley for a long time. We hosted a marriage conference in North Dakota and asked them to be our speakers. They are great folks and very down to earth and relational. When I saw they had a new resource out I new I needed to ck it out. Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, who provided me with a complimentary copy of this for my review I got my wish. I was instantly impressed with the quality of the book. The book is easy to use and has an index to give you a specific idea or you could go through it with a date suggestion for every week of the year.
My guess is at the end of the year, your marriage will look much different. By the way if your not married this would make a great preparation tool or gift for a couple you would like to bless.
Each "great date" has a tool, relevant story, an activity and questions to get you talking. Greg and Erin use their experience, humor and knowledge to lead couples to a more fulfilling marriage. Imagine doing things together again like when you first started dating. Pick up a copy today and let me know how it has affected your relationship.

First,, you should honor thy God!

The forecast is for difficult days, difficult finances and difficult weather. Thankfully they leave us a little optimism by not forecasting impossible days, finances and weather. As if things aren't hectic enough we have a zillion, self professing experts giving you advice on everything from shoe laces to rocket ships.
Thankfully, I don't get my encouragement from things that are temporal and shallow. I don't need to let my anxiety build to the point I feel like I will explode, and go running to the latest news stories to see how I should prepare.
While the government forces industries to shut down, such as lead bullets, light bulb factories, etc., while they buy shipment after shipment of bullets including hollow points, while they force you to become reliant on their health care, while they push their agenda and take your freedoms away, I don't have to be anxious, worried, or scared.
My God is bigger than all these things, and although I might get a bit irritated, I call it righteous anger, my wife disagrees, I not only have the satisfaction of serving Him I have the confidence that in the end all things will be sorted out and those who are working their wickedness are of this world and will inherit an eternity of torment. Putting it that way I feel almost guilty that for the small time of suffering they cause us they will have forever to have their suffering. I said almost!
In all seriousness, when I keep my eyes on Jesus my days are encouraging, rewarding and I look forward to each morning. Not so long ago I began to lose track of that and became discouraged and depressed with the way everything seemed to be going.  I lost my focus and hated it.
If you know Jesus you know peace, if you have no Jesus, you have no peace, its as simple as that.
My encouragement this year to you and yours is to not be disheartened or distracted. God hasn't abandoned you, or left you to wallow in your self pity, but He uses these times to bring clarity to your life. He will work these things out and give you purpose and passion if you let Him. This year start off right and seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all His treasures shall be yours. Happy New Year and may this be the year of our Lord Jesus.
See ya in the clouds

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cloak of the Light

Spiritual warfare is a difficult thing for us to comprehend because we can't see it. Author Chuck Black does a great job in his new book, Cloak of the Light. With in a few pages I was drawn in and tied to the characters as if I knew them personally. Not only was this book hard to put down, I found my self at the edge of my seat multiple times. Drew Carter is a teen tossed into the thick of spiritual warfare after a scientist disappears. He is in a new school and sticks up for the computer geek who turns out to be a vital part to his future. Given "special abilities" after the lasok device goes up in flames, he learns to observe another dimension. Sydney, the Christian crush that Drew has, prays for Drew but Drew is convinced that the earth is being invaded, until he notices the light invaders who appear to be good guys.
You will not be disappointed so be sure to pick up a copy of this book, which by the way is a trilogy. I can't wait to read the next two!!
Why not visit the authors website by clicking here? You could also read a chapter and preview it by going to wars of the realm.
I was given a free copy of this book by blogging for books for my review.