Crystal Writes A Blog

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The Ferguson Golden Rule


Agape by Flickr User Marcelino Rapayla Jr., Creative Commons License = Attribution

Agape by Flickr User Marcelino Rapayla Jr., Creative Commons License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’m not sure when it became en vogue to pay people back as we feel they deserve, but it is a horrible twisting of God’s real “golden rule.” Injustice should not breed injustice, especially when the first act has not been proven. What has been proven is that people are excusing bad behaviors as balancing justice. Individuals are burning businesses of people who have done them no wrong, and journalists are publishing private information of the innocent family of a perceived wrong-doer.

And what if we all, including the police, did what rioters are doing in the name of justice? What if, every time an African-American gang member shot a white police officer, the rest of the white police officers burnt down the houses of all the gang members and their families? Without any color or race in play, what if police routinely attacked innocent civilians coast to coast as a method of payback for the deaths of their brothers in blue? Would any consider that to be justice?

What does Scripture tell us that God considers justice or right behavior? Here are a few verses from the New Living Testament

Matthew 22:39b–Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 5:44-45aBut I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 4:31-32Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Two wrongs have never made a right. I believe Yeshua told people to forget the old “eye for an eye” instructions for more than just His mercy. I believe it was because people misused and abused God’s instruction, and they used payback for personal reasons instead of under God’s direction.

If we try hard enough, any one of us could find a reason to hate, or at least dislike, any other of us. I have known people who wished evil on others just because of what state they were born in or what team they favored. This idea that we should hate someone because of the job they do, the race they were born into, their financial status, or whatever, is senseless. Those who incite the hatred in others are just as guilty as those who start the fires because they ignite the matches that ignite the matches.

Here’s what I want to know: Where are those who are using this situation to teach their children why they should never put themselves in bad positions by getting involved in criminal activities? Foolishness is born into the heart of a child, and only the rod of correction will drive it from them. Children aren’t necessarily innocent just because they’re children, and by the time they’re teens, they are old enough to take responsibility for their own behaviors. There’s no personal responsibility for them or their “defenders” in trying to refocus the attention on how the police dealt with the criminal instead of reminding youth that crime doesn’t pay.

This new “Golden Rule” as promoted by events like the Ferguson riots, and older versions of the same, is neither golden nor a good rule to live by. It’s all about division even if it disguises itself as unifying people because it’s only unifying for the purpose of being set against others.

The spirit of division began in the garden when Adam blamed God for the woman who helped him sin, and Eve blamed the serpent for offering the sin. In truth, Eve was responsible for listening to the temptation, and Adam was responsible for choosing to obey a voice other than that of his Creator. It continues to this day in dividing race, gender, status, etc. It won’t stop as long as sin reigns in us, but that doesn’t mean any of us has to live by its rule. Will you be one to choose God’s word and rules over man’s?

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December 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Current Events, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Balanced Meal


New York Steak and Rice by Flickr User Cliff Hutson aka The Marmot, CC License = Attribution

New York Steak and Rice by Flickr User Cliff Hutson aka The Marmot, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Has anyone here tried quinoa? I’ve been contemplating giving it a shot because I like rice so much, and I’ve heard that quinoa is a grain that is also a complete protein, yet it absorbs other food flavor and has a texture like rice. If things slow down, I want to try a Tupperware party where we use the new metal-infused steamer to cook chicken on one level and quinoa on the next to simmer in the chicken juices. I’m intrigued with the idea but a little afraid to try something so new to me.

In today’s reading from Numbers 15:8 through Numbers 15:16, we’ll read about a balanced meal request from Yahveh when people offer him a meat offering. He wants all bulls, rams, male lambs, and kids offered with a partnering of a grain offering of flour and a meat offering of wine. I don’t know if rice grows (or grew) in the area where they were dwelling, but if so, the fine flour God requested could just as well have been rice flour as wheat or some other grain. Who knows, maybe they even had quinoa in that desert place.

The reading goes on to tell Israel to apply the formula of meat offering to grain offering to drink offering for every sacrifice they make, regardless of how many animals are offered. He also says this is to apply to every citizen and foreigner throughout all their generations as a permanent regulation. He then reminds them that the same Torah and standard of judgment is to apply to both citizens and foreigners living with them.

Way back then, there wasn’t the division of Jewish and Christian believers like we have now, but there was a division between those who served the God of Israel and the many false gods people created over the years. But regardless of the God or god a person was raised with, in the House of Israel, the God was The God of Israel, and His laws reigned supreme. It didn’t matter if the land they dwelt in was formerly a place where other gods were worshiped, when Yahveh Almighty came on the scene, He became what mattered most because even those that did not follow Him knew of His power and authority.

In our current world and culture, we try so hard to create balance in giving others what we expect them to give us that we often put the authority and power of Our God in the back seat. Our government–one that was supposed to have been built on the blessing of Yahveh and His Word–tries to make us allow people to come into our homes and businesses and conduct themselves as they choose rather than as we choose, and it’s as out of balance as an offering given in a different way than what God requested.

It’s not easy to stand for only our One God while refusing to bow to the gods of others, so some people try to create balance by creating things like “Chrislam” (a unification of Christianity and Islam) and saying we all serve the same god but by different names. But the fact is, if we do not adhere to the same foundations and laws, and if we do not abide by the same Word of God, we are not to be unified. If we serve the God of the Torah, and if we believe we have been grafted into the root of Israel, then we should be abiding by the laws of Yahveh in our hearts by keeping a lawful heart toward Our Creator.

Imagine the difference in just the United States of America if we applied all laws the same to all people. But we don’t. Instead, we make excuses for foreigners who “just don’t understand.” We give liberties to foreign leaders by allowing them to skate around personal responsibility while claiming “diplomatic immunity.” And, we pardon those who have skirted the laws we set for citizenship because we feel for whatever situation they are running from. We don’t have to boot them out, but we don’t have to let people just get away with everything either. God set the example even down to the details of how to present an offering that would be acceptable to Him.

We may not be able to change the laws ourselves, but we can govern our own homes, and we can vote in ways that bring spiritual balance to our country. We can stand for and support those businesses that have chosen to represent God in all their dealings both personal and business, and we can refuse to bring those that don’t under our roofs. For example, we may want to consider refusing to watch HGTV because of how they treated the Benham brothers simply because they stood for Biblical values. If we don’t bring balance according to God’s will and God’s plan, we will bring a false balance and a false peace that will end in sudden destruction.

June 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tipping the Scales in God’s Favor


https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewgustar/8510497174/

Equipoise by Flickr User Andrew Gustar
CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works.
Visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewgustar/8510497174/ to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I remember learning in some class in school about butchers who would place a thumb on the scale when weighing out meats, and how this would charge the customers for more than they received. Later, I saw a few different movies where people would catch a merchant using lighter weights to make it appear the seller’s trades were not as valuable. Two different verses in Proverbs tell us what God thinks of those who try to tip the scales in their favor. Proverbs 20:23 says, “Adonai detests a double standard in weights, and false scales are not good,” and Proverbs 11:1 says, “False scales are an abomination to Adonaibut accurate weights please him.”

In today’s reading from Leviticus 19:15 through Leviticus 19:22, we get some examples of scales that are tipped out of balance in the eyes of God. One thing important to Him is how we judge others. He says in our portion for the day that we should neither show favor to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but we should always judge with justice. I believe the current economy in the USA is a good example of what happens when judgment is not done with justice. The poor have developed an attitude of entitlement–because of their history, because of their weaknesses, because of this and that, and the rich have learned how to buy their own way by greasing the palms of those in power. It has created an angry and bitter middle ground where many now hate all above and below them. But we can’t judge with justice if we don’t acknowledge Who determines what is truly just and balanced.

Another verse of wisdom from Proverbs 6:19 says, “A false witness who lies with every breath, and him who sows strife among brothers,” are among the things God hates. This speaks to the next Levitical law that says not to go around spreading slander among people. But there is balance needed here too. While God doesn’t want us sharing damaging thoughts about our brothers and sisters, He also doesn’t want us ignoring a neighbor who is being hurt by someone’s damaging ways. Israel is told not to stand by idly if a neighbor’s life is at stake. And that could also mean a neighbor’s spiritual life and soul as well.

Verse 17 really got my attention where it says, “Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly.” The reason for the ruling is what grabs me. It says, “…so that you won’t carry sin because of him.” Carry sin? Can that happen from hating a brother? I think that’s answered in yet another verse from Proverbs. Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better open rebuke than hidden love.” I think we carry sin (and pain) when we do not speak what’s in our hearts, and then we allow it to fester and turn to bitterness.

Verse 19 simply tells God’s people to observe His regulations, and then the reading continues with instructions to not allow livestock to mate with another kind, to not plant two different kinds of grain in a field, and to not wear clothing made with two different kinds of thread. God knows what He made to go together and what should be kept apart. He knows when one species, grain, or type of thread could weaken or destroy the other. And our result of not observing those things when they were simple is to live now without even knowing if the corn syrup in our candy bar is made from genetically modified corn. (By the way, I’ve been told that most corn by-products these days are GMO, so I’ve got to wonder exactly what all that “franken-fruit” and “franken-vegetable” stuff really does to our systems. Don’t you wonder too?)

Let me close now with something interesting I’ve learned recently. Did you know that there is no Hebrew word for “fair” or “fairness”? So balance may not mean exactly what we think it means in our human understanding. There are Hebrew words and descriptions for justice, so we can trust that God does believe in balance by justice, which is why He couldn’t just let us “get away” with our sins simply because He loves us. Too often, that’s what we do–we let people off the hook for their behaviors because we love them, and somehow we don’t think it’s fair for them to pay for their misdeeds. But God knew the price needed to be paid, so He robed Himself in flesh to pay the cost of justice and bring things back into a right balance. Every time a new soul commits his or her life to Christ, and every time we make a genuine effort to live according to God’s word, I believe we are bringing balance by tipping the scales in God’s favor.

April 13, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out of Balance


Seagull Out of Balance by Flickr User Erwin Fisser, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Seagull Out of Balance by Flickr User Erwin Fisser, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original and to access user’s photo stream at Flickr.

In the Proverbs of Solomon, Chapter 11, verse 1, we read (from the Amplified version)…A false balance and unrighteous dealings are extremely offensive and shamefully sinful to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. I think people (made in God’s image) feel something similar. We need to see things in balance to feel like life is working as it should. We desire justice, and most people want to see fairness and equity in all parts of life. It is this need for balance that makes the blood of Yahshua necessary.

Without the blood of Christ, the balance of sin must be paid for with the wages we see in today’s reading from Exodus 21:20 through Exodus 22:3 (4 in other versions) of a life for a life, a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, etc. The rules given in the Scriptures from yesterday and today all lead to that same need for balance. Sadly, too many people think that evil does not need to be recompensed. They think that saying I’m sorry is a recompense for doing wrong. They think having a good excuse for evil doings is reason the evil should not require recompense at all. And, sadly, too many Christians think the blood of Our Savior removes more than just the wages of death, and that repentance should mean they earn a “Get out of jail free” card from a trip to the altar.

Of course, some wages do escape payment by the unmerited favor of God known as grace. I cannot tell you how many issues I should have paid for while I was living in a constantly sinful state. I did things that the laws of the land would have punished with jail time, and I’m certain I’m not alone in that based on many testimonies I’ve heard. But I would never dare to demand that God follow after me with a spiritual “pooper scooper,” cleaning up my messes just because I committed my life to Him. I believe that committing my life to Him makes me that much more responsible for learning what He considers to be a balanced walk of faith and obedience.

When God was giving these rulings to Israel, He was speaking to those who were supposed to be His people; those who desired to live in a way that uplifted and glorified their maker. That said, they had to be told how to keep those things in order. For example, the reading talks of the owner’s responsibilities if one of his animals gores a human being–especially if that animal was known for doing that, and the owner did not properly restrain it. Most of the reading covers common sense ways to keep balance even for those who do not claim to serve Yahveh, such as paying for an animal that falls into a cistern if you were the one to leave the top off of it.

If you decide to read the passage for yourself, refer it to the Scripture I used at first, and remember that God’s ultimate goal is to keep things in balance. Just like we need a balance of faith and works to keep from going in circles as if we were rowing with one oar. The world is balanced with seasons, and our lives are balanced by work and wages, sin and grace, and always by the governing of God who promises to make all things balanced and beautiful in time. (See Ecclesiastes 3:11).

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sexual Harassment


First, before I get into today’s Torah commentary, let me pass along a blessing to you that your Thanksgiving providence will be with you throughout the next year, and that you will always know and trust Yahveh Almighty as your Creator and Provider. I had a wonderful day with friends and family (and food, of course) at Joe Huber Family Farm and Restaurant. I still feel stuffed, and I didn’t even eat any stuffing because I’m a potato person. Stovetop Stuffing never would have used me in their stuffing vs. potatoes commercials. Comment if you remember those though, and tell me how you would vote.

Okay, so on to today’s reading from Genesis 39:7 through Genesis 39:23–the end of the chapter. I actually think this should have included verse 6 where it talked about Joseph being a good-looking man since that’s where everything in today’s reading branches off from. Potiphar’s wife noticed him and asked him over and over to sleep with her. Now, I don’t know if it counts when it’s the boss’s wife, but this was most certainly a case of sexual harassment. It got so bad that Joseph did everything he could to stay away from her.

One day, none of the other employees were in the house, and Joseph had to go in to do his day’s work. But Mrs. Potiphar was there, and she set in after Joseph again. This time, however, she became hands-on with him. He told her that it would not only be a violation of the trust her husband placed in him, but it would also be a sin against God for him to sleep with her. Finally, to get away, he had to take off his robe and leave it in her hands. Unfortunately, this gave her the perfect tool for revenge against Joseph for his rejection of her.

Mrs. Potiphar set Joseph up by screaming until she got the attention of others and then telling the story that Joseph tried to rape her and that she took his robe when he ran away due to her screaming. Her husband believed her and had Joseph locked away where the king’s prisoners were kept. I’m guessing it was much like some of our minimum-security prisons now because the warden paid little attention to Joseph and pretty much let him have his freedom there. Eventually, even the warden saw that God was with the man and gave him reign over the other prisoners.

Yahveh was with Joseph even in his imprisonment, and His presence was noticeable even to others. I believe God knew the heart of Potiphar’s wife, and He used her predator personality to put Joseph in a situation where He could bring about a blessing that would change the world for Joseph and many others. Somehow, through it all, we are not reading that Joseph fought for his innocence, his personal rights, justice, or his desire to be treated fairly. Somehow, I’m guessing the presence of his God was enough for him, and maybe God was even comforting him by letting him know that all would work toward a good end. I wrestle with the need for balance, justice, and equity in my life, but Joseph found his in The Lord. I’ll file this in my lessons to take to heart. How about you?

P.S. Here’s another ApologetiX video that encapsulates the life of Joseph–including today’s story portion. It’s called “Somebody Sold Me” and it is a parody of the song “Somebody Told Me” by The Killers

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What You See is What You Get


Okay, just a little give away to my age here, I remember when Flip Wilson had his own television show, and when he did a skit as a character named “Geraldine.” I was still pretty young, but as I recall it, Geraldine’s famous line was “What you see is what you get.” In the above video, they switch to the Geraldine doll at 37 seconds and then at about 1:08, you’ll hear the line. I felt the video of the doll was a cuter way to share, but you can always do a search if you want to hear the real skit.

These days, it’s usually abbreviated WYSIWYG and pronounced “wissy-wig,” and it usually relates to something technical. But whether it is about technology or a girl pretending to be unpretentious, it still makes the same basic statement: What you are able to view with your eyes is exactly what you will be able to take home with you. In today’s reading from Genesis 30:28 through Genesis 31:16, we will take a trip back to Bible times when Jacob used the idea of WYSIWYG to make himself rich.

See, his uncle Laban had been gaining off of Jacob’s hard work and genetic providence since he came to visit. He took far more than his fair share, and Jacob knew it was time to take his wives and go home, but he needed some type of inheritance to support them with. When Laban wouldn’t give him a rightful due of livestock, Jacob made a deal with him. He told Laban that he would feed and care for his animals and that when they bred, he would take all those that were streaked, spotted, and speckled. Laban agreed, and then he took away all the streaked, spotted, and speckled animals so that when they bred, there would be less chance of them breeding the ones he promised to Jacob.

Now, Jacob had been given a dream by God. Yahveh told him he saw the unfairness of his uncle and told him exactly what he needed to do to fix things. He advised him to cut branches from poplar trees and peel the bark away until the branches were streaked, spotted, and speckled. He then set the branches up at the feeding troughs since that is where the animals went to mate. Upon breeding, all the babies came out with the designs instead of plain, because they birthed just what they saw as they mated. This meant all the newly born livestock went to Jacob and his family per the agreement with Laban.

When Jacob was ready to go back to his homeland, he ended up going with everything that he had worked for and that rightfully belonged to his wives. God saw the inequality, and God created a way to balance things out. And, yes, Jacob had to listen, he had to obey, and he had to do a little work to help bring that balance, just as we often have to do when God gives us the tools and direction to bring balance into our own lives. We need to pay attention to His direction, and we need pay attention to what we place before our eyes. But if we will turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face, then WYSIWYG will mean wonderful things for us.

P.S. Barely any NaNo words in the last two days (none today), but I hope to make up for them at our upcoming retreat. Sitting now at 22,802 words.

November 13, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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