Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

IMG_9367

photo by Matija Barrett

One of my USSR immigrant patients informed me that ‘equality’ only works until people realize they get paid the same for tiny potatoes as they do for big ones.

This is how I explain it to my children (remember there are 7 of them, so we have a variety of personalities…).

If I gave $100.00 to each of you every week, what would happen?

A few of you would spend it right away, and still have nothing at the end of the week. You would be complaining that you had no money for whatever you needed and would ask for more.

A few of you would not spend anything, or maybe $5 here and there for the barest neccessities (Ramen Noodles) and have a huge amount saved up at the end of the year.

And some of you would budget wisely, spend enough to meet your needs and a few wants, and save a little as well. (This is probably the happiest way to live…)

The people who spent it all on the first day would be mad that their brother who usually did not spend a dime (we know who this is in our house) had so much- it would be ‘unfair’ and he was ‘lucky.’ In their childishness they would not see how many times he sat there without a soda or other ‘extra’ while they splurged.

The people who saved would see the ones who splurged as ‘stupid’ and ‘careless’ and perhaps even label those who spent some and saved some in the same way, saying, ‘If you had been like me, you would have all this right now,’ not realizing that money is a tool, and, if used wisely, makes life more enjoyable.

Life is not fair- we all know this. But many times it is not merely what we were given, but how we use it, that determines how much we have and whether or not we enjoy ourselves.

Another life lesson that has been repeated to me by some great Bible teachers is that you cannot give what you do not have. Generosity, which is not only the giving of money, but the giving of time as well, cannot be practiced if you have neither. Working hard enough, and obtaining skills so you are paid well enough so you don’t have to work all day, is important for a balanced life. There may be sacrifices at first, but there needs to be a path and a plan to a life you will find comfortable enough to be generous as well.

Advertisements

The beginning of this relationship is good. Both David and Michal prove their love for one another- Michal by requesting David as her husband and then saving his life, at risk to her own, by lying to her father to save David’s life. Michal puts an idol in their bed and claims David is ill. Since Saul almost kills Jonathan, his heir, over his loyalty to David, there is a very good chance he will not spare his daughter’s life if she angers him. David too risks his life to be with Michal. As he is a poor shepherd boy, with no means to pay a royal bride price, Saul asks him for 100 enemy foreskins. (Since Jewish men are circumsized, only those outside the Jewish faith would have these intact.) This is a suicide mission. Not only does David have to slay an inordinate amount of men, he must desecrate their corpses- not something the enemy who remains will take kindly to… But David manages to bring 200 foreskins to Saul and is allowed to marry Michal.

After fleeing for his life, David does not come back for Michal. He is able to slay and desecrate 200 warriors, but cannot sneak back for the love of his life?!?!? This likely makes no sense to Michal.

Rule 1: No matter how busy you are- make time for your wife. Women do not do well waiting for you to eventually get around to paying attention to them, and they will assume they are unloved no matter what you have done for them in the past.

Wives: In Song of Solomon the woman goes out and seeks her husband, despite the danger, when he is absent/ inattentive. Use common sense to stay safe, but you have a responsibility to address him and seek to resolve the issues when you feel lonely as well.

David then takes additional wives when he is on the run, proving he believes he can keep his women safe under these conditions.

Rule 2: Do not pay more attention to another woman than you do to your wife. No matter what your relationship with the other woman, she will likely not understand.

Wives: Don’t be stirred to jealousy easily. In today’s work situations men and women must spend time together and will enjoy each other’s company. Address situations that make you uncomfortable with your husband and resolve issues in a way that makes you feel loved without making it difficult for him in the workplace. Remember, Paul has female friends which he addressed as his adoptive sisters and/or mothers. Deborah sang a duet with Barak. Prophets stayed and formed relationships with married women and widows, and helped them achieve the desires of their hearts, etc. Plutonic relationships between men and women exist in the Bible, keep this in perspective.

Michal is then married to another by her father. Whether she has had it with David and was willing to remarry, or whether she was forced by her father, we do not know.

Rule 3: If you leave your wife feeling alone for too long you may lose her. Whether she gets sick of it, or others convince her you are never going to change, you are taking a chance by taking her for granted.

Michal and her new husband, Phaltiel, develop feelings for each other and Phaltiel follows Michal crying, asking for her back as she is taken to David. When David sends for Michal, it is after Saul is dead and Abner defects (Ishbosheth’s head of the military-the new kings, Saul’s heir as Jonathan is dead). It is also a sign of ‘proof’ the Abner is now loyal to David as he goes to bring Michal back. This does not look like the act of a loving husband, but an act of convenience. David, as king, cannot have his wife married to another- proving he cannot protect what is his. He also need proof that Abner is serious when he says he will now be loyal to David, and bringing Ishbosheth’s sister to David will definitely upset the new king.

Rule 4: If you leave your wife lonely, another man may pay more attention to her and gain her affections.

Rule 5: If you only pay attention to your wife when it is convenient, or suits your needs, she will not believe you truly love her, even if you do.

Michal is not back living with David. David dances before the ark, joyous. Michal is upset and berates him when he comes home. David banishes her. (Since she is the wife of a king he likely continues to support her and protect her, but has no contact with her. She cannot have children with another or it will make David look bad, but since David will not acknowledge her, she will be left childless, an embarrassing and potentially difficult situation for women at this time.)

Rule 6: Being happy when your wife is not happy with you will only enrage her. Don’t see her lashing out at you as her fault entirely. Try to discover what is pushing her to nag and/or lash out and work together to fix it.

Rule 7: If you nag and/or lash out at your husband, you will place distance between him and you. If you don’t resolve your issues, the distance may become permanent.

Rule 8: Passionate arguments often mean that the other person still cares. Sound contradictory? If someone I don’t know lashes out at me, I ignore or avoid them. They do not consume my time or energy. The people who get under my skin the most are the people who matter to me. Why? Because I want to matter to them too. You can’t get hurt easily by someone whose opinion or actions mean nothing to you. (Though some of us are such people pleasers that everyone’s opinion matters at an unhealthy level, but that is for another post…)

Real life example: (and I hesitate to put this in because of the emotional nature of our current situation- which I feel is also junior high idiocy- but again, that is another post…) Donald Trump was once interviewed as to what went wrong with his first marriage and rightly said that it was his fault- he spent more time on his business than he did on his marriage. This is true of too many people. Given how well he seems to know his three children from that marriage, it seems he learned from his mistake. Don’t make so many mistakes that you lose what is truly important in life- the people you love.

IMG_2933

Notes and Ideas based on my reading of

Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings of Both the New and the Old Testaments, An Argument of Their Veracity by John James Blunt

(published by Robert Carter & Brothers, New York, 1851)

Today’s Question: Why did David move his parents to Moab for safety when he was running from Saul? And then, why did David destroy Moab?

Jewish tradition claims that moving his parent was a mistake, and that David’s parents were eventually killed in Moab, which would explain why David aggressively destroyed Moab after his reign over all of Israel was established.

Israel at this time was not friends with her neighbors, so David had to choose the lesser of a few evils.

The Philistines were out, since David was the one who slew their champion, Goliath, although David does hide in Philistine territory at one time, in the city of Gath, where Goliath is from. Likely he does this because it is the last place Saul would expect him to be, and he ends up pretending to be ‘mad’ (mentally unstable) to avoid being killed by the local ruler.

Moab on the other hand, is the home of David’s great grandmother, his father’s grandmother, Ruth. It is likely over time that the relatives visited and that there was good will between the families. Additionally, Orpa, Ruth’s sister-in-law, parted with Ruth and Naomi on good terms and her descendents would also know of this family. Further, like Naomi and her husband, many Jewish people left Bethlehem during the famine and traveled to Moab. Not all would have returned after having established lives there, so there was likely a Jewish community in Moab. So why would Moab kill David’s family? (If it did occur, which seems likely since David would not easily attack the place where his family was living, especially if they had provided well for them.) This was a time when ‘the kings went to battle’ every spring. Having a large family group, with military men in it (remember, David’s brothers were part of Saul’s army), who were related to a foreign king (remember, David was married to Saul’s daughter and was prophesied to be the next king) meant that they could be plotting, with the rest of the displaced Jewish population living there, to take over the kingdom. A paranoid king, which many were for good reason, could not let this happen.

It is extremely likely therefore, that tradition is correct and David’s parents (and possibly his brothers as well) were killed in Moab and that David’s rage against the Moabites now makes sense.

 

Money Changers

IMG_4702

So today I was asked an interesting question at church, so I thought I would share the answer here as well.

What about the money changers upset Jesus so much that He overturned tables and whipped them with his cloak?

First you must understand the way the Temple was set up during the time of Jesus. This was NOT God’s design, but it was how it was when Jesus walked the earth.

First you had the Court of Gentiles. This was the only area the Gentiles were allow in and it was where the money changers were (remember this).

Next you had the Court of Women. This was as far as the women were allowed to go.

Then you had the outer courts of the Temple itself where only Jewish men were allowed.

The money changers, being in the Court of the Gentiles, were the only representatives of the Temple worship that the Gentiles would see. Their job was to change coins with pictures of idols on them for Temple coins. They also had tables where you could purchase animals for sacrifices. The problem was they were charging fees and basically ripping people off- not a good representation of the Jewish faith. AND, it was one of the only things the Gentiles could see regarding the Jewish worship of God.

Today this would be like the televangelists who use emotional methods to trick widows and others out of their life savings to support their greedy lifestyles. Do you see why Jesus was mad?

IMG_2581

Notes and Ideas based on my reading of

Undesigned Coincidences in the Writings of Both the New and the Old Testaments, An Argument of Their Veracity by John James Blunt

(published by Robert Carter & Brothers, New York, 1851)

 

Regarding Balaam of Pethor- you remember- the guy with the talking donkey who kept trying to curse Israel, then figured out God would punish them if they sinned so he had the king send a bunch of prostitutes into the Israelite’s camp… (Num 22-25)

Well… it seems he visited Midian just after this event, and got himself killed along with the five kings of Midian when the Israelites fought them. (Num 31:8)

It also seems, when looking at the next census, that it was primarily the tribe of Simeon that slept with the prostitutes as their numbers have decreased significantly after the plague, while the other tribes only decrease slightly. As a chief in the tribe of Simeon is the one Phineas puts his sword through while he is ‘in the act,’ during the plague no less, this makes sense. Simeon is also not blessed by Moses a short time later…. And, just to pick on the tribe of Simeon a bit more- they do not take the land in the Promised Land as they were supposed to and end up with a remnant of Judah’s land, since Judah, under the leadership of Caleb has taken more than they can take care of. (Remember Joshua and Caleb of the two spies story- the only guys who had faith they could take the land as God told them to? He is now in charge of the tribe of Judah, while Joshua takes Moses’ place.).

Caleb is an interesting dude too. He is obviously old, being one of the only two men who survived in his generation wandering in the desert. He goes into the Promised Land, kills giants and leads his tribe to take more land than they can handle. He then promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to the guy who can take a certain parcel of land with giants in it. (Likely this is a test for her suiter, since later she seems pretty happy with the arrangement….) So Othniel, who will become the first judge in Israel, takes the land, slays the giants and wins Caleb’s daughter’s hand. But, when it is discovered that there are no good watering sites on the land, Othniel makes his wife (Caleb’s daughter) ask her father for a stream. It seems he is not afraid of giants, but a little scared of his father-in-law. Caleb is one tough cookie! (Josh 15)

The tribe of Dan also screws up. They are supposed to take the land the Philistines live on. Since we hear a lot about the Philistines throughout the Old Testament it is obvious they don’t. Since the Philistines then become trapped between Israel and the ocean, it makes sense that the two are constantly at war, since the Philistines, due to their position, would otherwise be at Israel’s mercy. Then the tribe of Dan, needing more land, goes north and takes a peaceful city that they were not to bother whose only fault is that they were isolated and had no ‘friends’ to come to their aid. (Though judging from the behavior of their neighbors, ‘good’ friends were likely difficult to come by in that area.

It would be nice to say that the tribes of Simeon and Dan redeemed themselves, but the truth is that, other than the years of David and Solomon when the kingdom is united, the northern tribes (everyone but Judah and Benjamin- which is tiny due to its previous misbehavior…) have very few bright and shining moments until Israel is united again after captivity.

So what can we learn from this?

  1. Don’t sleep with prostitutes- just don’t. And don’t tempt others to do it either.
  2. When God tells you to do something, do it. Don’t take the seemingly easy way out, especially if it involves taking advantage of the weak or innocent. The unforeseen consequences of not doing it are just not worth it, and if God says He will help you do it, He will.
  3. People who listen to God and do what He says can be a little intimidating, even when they are old, in a good way- the way a Navy Seal is. Strive to be that person.

Ruth vs Job

IMG_5850

The book of Ruth and the book of Job both deal with God’s faithful people during times of great struggle.

Let’s look at the contrasts.

Job is male; Ruth is female.

Job is a Jew; Ruth is a foreigner (and a hated one at that!)

In the ancient world the roles of men and women are vastly different. Job has the ability to be autonomous and pull himself up by his boot straps, while Ruth, as a female and a foreigner, has less opportunity to provide for herself and her mother-in-law.

Job is wealthy and loses everything quickly. Ruth marries into a starving immigrant family and loses the little she has over time.

Job loses his children, but his wife survives. Ruth loses her husband and has no children.

Job’s wife is not an encourager; neither are his friends. Boaz and Naomi work in Ruth’s best interests.

Job has friends who come to help him (which is a mixed blessing). Ruth has a mother-in-law, whom she helps.

Job is wrongly blamed for his situation. Ruth is praised for her godly actions.

Job’s losses are evident. Ruth and Naomi live in a cave and it is not until Ruth begins to glean that the extended family seems truly aware of how bad off they are.

Job loses his health. Ruth is strong and able.

God speaks to Job. For Ruth, God works through Boaz, a godly man.

So, Job has some advantages. He is male, self-sufficient, married and has friends. Ruth too has some advantages. She is in good health and has her mother-in-law, who owns land.

Both have disadvantages as well…

In addition to the devastating losses both suffer, Job has ill-health, and psychological ‘torture’ from his wife and friends. Ruth has racism and sexism to combat as well as a history of being barren, which makes her a poor marriage choice.

Both Ruth and Job are restored and extremely blessed. What the two accounts show us is that no matter how you end up in difficult situations, and no matter what is stacked against you, God is able to bless you beyond your wildest imagination. Nothing is impossible. Both accounts encourage us to be godly, and to remain godly, despite our circumstances.

 

Side note: What is interesting to me, at this time, is that Naomi has land. It is likely that the cave Ruth and Naomi are staying in is on her husband’s land, indicating that the house she thought to return to is not in livable condition. It is likely that Ruth and Naomi thought to farm the land, but were unable to produce enough to support them. Naomi may have stayed on the property to tend to their crops while Ruth gleaned. It is also likely that Boaz did not help prior to this time as it may have appeared that Ruth and Naomi were getting along okay. Ruth showing up to glean may have been the first indication the community had that things were not going well for the two women. Just something to think about. When scripture tells us to look out for the widow and the orphan it is implied that we are to know their situation and help as is appropriate. Too often in our society we find people saying, ‘If I had known, I would have….’ As Christians it is our job to keep our eyes open so that those who are in need do not suffer unnecessarily.

IMG_1434

In reading Romans I realized there was a similarity between what the church in Romans was experiencing, and our ‘mega-church’ problems.

In Romans we see Jewish believers who have grown up in the ‘church.’ They have been raised with rules and expectations regarding what it means to be ‘good.’ Some are saved, and others believe that they are believers even though they are merely rule followers. Both groups tend to believe the ‘rules’ are very important and their words and actions imply that the rules may even be more important than belief, even though they may deny this to be so.

We also see, in Romans, that there are a lot of Gentile believers. They did not grow up with the ‘rules’ and many of them have not bothered to study scripture. They have faith, but only a few know how to live as a believer. There are more ‘true Christians’ in this group, but their lives are often messier than those who have no faith, but live according to God’s law.

How to balance these groups is difficult. Those who grew up with the ‘rules’ and whose lives are a lot less messy will of course believe their ways are better, except the truth is that some of them are not saved- which is worse than having a messy life. Many with messy lives believe, but see the rule followers as judgmental. The lack of faith of some of the rule followers likely draws those who believe away from discovering the blessings associated with knowing and following God’s laws. It was a mess then, and is still a mess now. Combine that with the fact that those who really like the rules expect new believers to be completely perfect in actions upon salvation. These ‘old believers’ (who may not actually believe, but think faith is about works- like the Jews in Romans) will then criticize those who are actually trying to disciple people, which is a slow process (think about how resistant you are to change and conviction even though you are saved and then imagine if you had bigger hang ups such as addiction or family and/or close friends who were loved by you but not good influences). Paul was likely pulling his hair out when he wrote Romans (and every other letter…).

Mega-churches are getting people saved. They may not be doing it the way other churches are doing it, and not everyone may be truly ‘saved’ within the church, but the people are there worshipping God and praying. Mature believers need to figure out how to come along side to help these new believers with their messy lives and lack of Biblical knowledge rather than tearing down what their leaders are doing. They are introducing people to God. Small churches with few converts often resemble the Pharisees more than the early church, making them lovers of the ‘rules’ more than lovers of God. The early church was messy in many, many ways (hence the many different letters, all addressing different problems). Jump in, join the mess and welcome someone to life in Christ!

 

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: