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Friday, January 28, 2011

What is the Passover? Yearly practices (part 4 the cup of praise and acceptance)
cheers.jpg
 

I do believe in praising that which deserves to be praised.
Dean Smith

 
Why give praise? What type of praise do we like? What emotions travel through us as we receive true solid praise in front of peers and family?
 

Praising someone shows our love for them in an active way doesn’t it?
 

I must say sometimes, when I get praised and I know that I am not worthy of the accolades being showered on me,  I feel uncomfortable. Those are difficult times because I don’t want to point out the inaccuracy as it would hurt that person (and it is after all the persons own opinion), but I also feel like I want the true me to be known, not the me being presented incorrectly.
 

Other times the praise is accurate and I glow in the warmth of love I feel towards the person giving it. I am thankful and want to respond in love towards them.
 

So we accept praise differently depending on the worthiness we attach to ourselves at hearing the words.

If a person really fails to even mention anything much and glosses over the moment, we could feel like something was stolen from us right?

In these circumstances it is best to take the little provided and be gracious, accepting that others take a while to get to know us!
 

So what about God? How will he feel in similar circumstances? 

God is ultimately praiseworthy! We cannot overdo his praise!


Praise is a small gift we can provide to the God of the Universe. Praise has eternal value.

The amazing thing is that if praise is approached in the correct way, with the correct attitude, it enables us to experience God’s grace in a deep way, and by praising God we lift ourselves up!
 

Perhaps that is why the Passover feast ends with psalms of praise.
The psalms 115 to 118 are read by different readers.

It starts:
 
Not to us, LORD, not to us

  
but to your name be the glory,

  
because of your love and faithfulness.
(Ps 115:1 NIV)


 
and it ends

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

  
his love endures forever.
(Ps 118:29)
 

The focus moves away from ourselves to God and his love!
 

This fourth cup is filled and we reflect on Jesus as the leader reads words like:
 

“You are blessed, our Lord and our God, Ruler of the universe, for the vine, and for the fruit of the vine” 

These words are from the Jewish Haggadah and have come to us over the centauries.
 

Thousands of years ago these were probably said the same way at that last supper, only Jesus didn’t drink this last cup.
 

When taking the previous cup, the third it says…
 

Luke 22:17-20 After Jesus took the cup, he gave thanks. He said, "Take this cup and share it among yourselves. I tell you, I will not drink wine with you again until God's kingdom comes."
 

 
Then Jesus took bread. He gave thanks and broke it. He handed it to them and said, "This is my body. It is given for you. Every time you eat it, do it in memory of me."
 

 
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup. He said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. It is poured out for you.
 

This is supported because as he died on the cross it says…
 

Later Jesus said, "I am thirsty." He knew that everything was now finished. He knew that what Scripture said must come true. A jar of wine vinegar was there. So they soaked a sponge in it. They put the sponge on a stem of the hyssop plant. Then they lifted it up to Jesus' lips.

After Jesus drank he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and died.
 

The kingdom of God had come to mankind and the work was finished!
 

Jesus said:


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:1-3
 

These words are activated in the hearts of those that know them as we hear the words in the Haggadah

“You are blessed, our Lord and our God, Ruler of the universe, for the vine, and for the fruit of the vine”
 

With this in mind the fourth cup is drunk by ourselves.

Then we notice that at the Passover feast table, one place is left set, but nobody sits at it!
 

The leader explains to the children it is time to go and see if the prophet Elijah has come. He takes the children to the door and they look outside to see if Elijah is there. Then the words of Malachi 4:5-6 are read…
 

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
 

As Christians we remember the words in the new testament…
 

The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
 

Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.”
 

So as Christians we understand there will be no Elijah! We do have the spare place as well, this time for Jesus himself as we await his coming again…
 

Matthew 24:42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
 

Now the leader of the festival points to a shank bone of the lamb that will be on the Passover plate near the leader. He explains that this bone is not touched because lambs are no longer sacrificed.

As Christians we remember Jesus died once and it is sufficient to ensure no other death has to occur!
 

So we conclude with understanding these words(Heb 10:5-10 NIV):
 

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
 

  
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,

  
but a body you prepared for me;

  with burnt offerings and sin offerings

  
you were not pleased.


Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—

  
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

 

 
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
 

We deserve to give God praise for accepting Jesus' sacrifice and in that way empowering our lives.
 

Let’s go use that power wisely today!
Fri, January 28, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How much acting is lying? How much lying is acting?
lieMeter.jpg


Acting is like lying. The art of lying well. I'm paid to tell elaborate lies.
Mel Gibson
 

Lord, save me from people whose lips tell lies.       Save me from people whose tongues don't tell the truth.
Psalm 120:2
 

How do we reconcile these two statements?

Considering both of the above, it seems like we need to run far away from actors! Yet this is not the correct interpretation and I am not sure that acting is lying.
 

Mel Gibson says acting it is LIKE lying, NOT that it IS lying. 

So, on that continuum between lying and truth, where is the point one goes from truth to the lying.

Many Christians like to think it’s a clearly defined line which you can easily determine.

Is it?
 

When someone asks us “Do I look fat?” and we answer the way I sometimes find myself doing “That’s not the way I see you!”

Have I lied?
 

Perhaps the person is overweight, but I don’t see them that way! I see a person who God loves, who is having difficulty with a part of their life  that needs to be submitted to God’s will, whether that be low or high weight values. The real problem isn't their weight, but their perception that they are perhaps not where God want's them!

Sometimes he wants people thinner, sometimes heavier, it's his choice and theirs. So I rarely consider weight in the same way as others. This helps me with answering the question truthfully but at the same time avoiding the expected answer.


Is it a lie? It is answering their question in an unexpected way! Isn't that what Jesus did so often?
 

So, finding ways to answer difficult questions in a way that enables others to connect with God better is not lying in my mind. Sometimes this is not possible but with some thought we can find accurate yet comforting and directing answers can't we?
 

An actor playing the part in a Christian movie, are they lying?
 

I don’t think so!

It’s the content and message of what the acting is to project that is important!


Sometimes we want an unpleasant portion so people can see the error of that path of life. A story is often more vivid than life itself. In this way if the content is truthful to God’s promises and laws the acting is good.
 

If however, the message is anti-God, and anti-man, and anti-love, then I believe to be acting in part of such a message would be embracing a lie!
 

So in my simplistic mind, an actor is not lying if the whole content of the acted message is one that upholds God’s desires for our world. Therefore, in my mind, actors need to know the global message that they are part of before they accept their assignment.
 

As an individual, each person will set limits based on their own walk with our Lord as to where they will go and how they are willing to be represented to convey this message.
 

Now to the another aspect. When lying are we acting?
 

This is a different question and one that is easier to answer. It really doesn’t matter! Once we are lying we are doing wrong and so whether we are acting or not is of little consequence isn’t it.
 

Let me end todays thoughts by pointing out that lying and sin are tightly aligned. If our speech is designed to lead to selfish, ignorant, nasty or stupid actions it is not acceptable by God, whether we are lying or not.
 

The truth is that God looks into the heart of our motives and intentions. The only other person in the universe that get close to doing that is ourselves! So we have the best understanding of what is lying and what is truth. We judge ourselves in this regard and the measuring stick is in God’s word.
 

A word of caution here! God often forgives us when we fail to forgive ourselves. There is no use writhing under guilt that God forgives if we ask him to! Ask forgiveness, but God hears so you don’t have to do it repeatedly (unless you repeat the sin).
 

God loves us and wants us to love ourselves and then others. That’s why he said “love your neighbour as yourself”
 

Have a great day!
Thu, January 27, 2011 | link          Comments

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is the Passover? Yearly practices (part 3 the cup of Redemption)
cup3.jpg

 
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
Albert Einstein


 
Okay, so today we talk about the third cup, the cup of redemption! 

There are a few things that happen in the Passover feast prior to this cup being drunk.
 

The Passover plate has a cracked, burnt, hard boiled egg on it
.
(The Passover plate is a central plate on the table that holds the symbolic food that is shown to others by the leader) I guess this tradition goes back a long way and so there are a few explanations of it’s symbolism.
 

One explanation is that it stands for life and the chicken/egg cycle of life is explained by it. (If so, why is it cracked and burnt?).  Another explanation is that it represents God because an egg is round and has no beginning or end. (If so why is it cracked and burnt, I don’t go for that one either). A third is that the egg represents the broken down temple. Since the temple was burnt and broken down, I get this as a possibility, but again, when Jesus was around it wasn’t broken and burnt!
 

So, in simple terms I don’t get the egg! It doesn’t fit for me! Sorry, but that’s where I am! All I can see is the egg is dead, and will not produce life, it’s scarred and damaged. If anything, to me it represents Satan’s fall! He had life, but screwed it up, has lost it, cracked up and will burn in hell! (Just my wild thoughts, not an official explanation)
 

Okay, so the next thing we do is say a grace over the middle piece of Matzah that is removed from the cover(see previous blogs on this subject to understand the cover and Afikomen). 
 

We bless and praise God for producing bread and for giving us his commandments regarding the eating of bread
. Then, a blessing is also said over the bitter herbs (horseradish)  

Then symbolically combining on a piece of Matzah bitter horseradish and another piece of Matzah, a sweet mixture of apple sauce, nuts, honey and spice, we eat it. Generally the bitter is eaten first, and then before the bite of the horseradish gets to us, we eat the sweet mixture (called Kharoset) which takes the bitter away.
 

This shows that the bitterness of life is offset by the goodness of God.
 

Generally, this is about the time of the feast that the food and drink is brought out.
 

What is interesting is that the Afikomen, wrappen in the linen is hidden just as the meal starts. (The children are sent out the room and adults hide it). Then the children are invited to look for it, and when they find it and return it to the leader of the feast, the child who found it is given a reward of some money.
 

Symbolically Jesus is buried, and those of us the accept he rose from the dead, receive our reward!
 

The money reminds me of Judas’s betrayal and the money paid to him for turning over Jesus. (Strange this happens in a Jewish feast right?)
 

After the meal the Afikomen who has been found is broken into pieces and distributed to those present as the third cup is filled.
 


This Afikomen is the substitute for the passover lamb, and for Jesus.
 

The bread is striped, unleaven and pierced. Jesus was whipped, without sin, and pierced in his side, hands and feet.
 

As we eat this in a manner in which communion is eaten, we remember Jesus who gave himself for our sins.
 

His words:

Mark 14:22

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”


 
We need to judge ourselves as we eat this so we don’t come under condemnation (1 Co 11:23-32)

 
The people eat the Afikomen matzah they have received.

 
Then taking the cup of redemption as Jesus would have on that last supper, in the Christian Passover celebration the leader holds it up saying :  

Luke 22:17,20

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”


 
   In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you

 
The third cup is drunk!

 
On the night before his death this was the last cup that Jesus drank.

 
The next and last cup was not drunk by him that evening. (explained in a future blog)

 
As we drink this cup, we consider how worthy and mighty Jesus is!

 
It is at this time that songs are sung, the songs referenced in the bible by

 

Mark 14:26 :

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives
.  

Jesus is the one who saves us! Isn’t it good that he is remembered in this way.
 

Well, I hope you learned a little more about the Passover feast that perhaps could still be done each year to remember this special night.
 

Hey, that’s a suggestion of how to liven up your Easter, don’t take it as a must do!
J Just a thought! 

Have a great day!
Wed, January 26, 2011 | link          Comments

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Should we plan?
planning.jpg
 
Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.
William A. Ward  

Always plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

Richard C. Cushing


 
“I don’t have time to plan!”


 

This is a typical the cry of a person who has lost control. We all do fail in our planning at times don’t we?

 
How biblical is planning?
How much does God ask us to plan?
Surely God expects us to walk by faith and faith has nothing to do with good planning?
Isn’t planning in fact counter productive to having faith?

 



Let us address these questions one at a time:

 

How biblical is planning?
 


Here are a few biblical excerpts to give us some of the answer…

 
Exodus 26:30

“Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.”  (God speaking)
 

Numbers 33:55-56

 
“‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’” (God himself planning)


 
1 Chronicles 28:12
He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things.


 

But wait it also says ...



 Psalm 94:11
The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.

 

So there is a difference to planning in God's will and planning outside of God's will. When we plan we must stay inside God’s will for our planning to be effective!



  How much does God ask us to plan?

 

Proverbs 12:5

The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.
 

From this it seems that planning is part of what righteous people do!
 

Isaiah 32:7-9

Scoundrels use wicked methods,

  
they make up evil schemes

to destroy the poor with lies,

  
even when the plea of the needy is just.

But the noble make noble plans,

  
and by noble deeds they stand.

 
I guess this is a suggestion that we need to make noble plans!
 

We can see from this God expects us to plan wisely, but planning must be noble and I suggest this means that this means God should be involved. We need to pray and look for God's input! (that can mean alsoto God speaking to Godly men and women) 

 
Surely God expects us to walk by faith and faith has nothing to do with good planning?
 



Faith and planning are not opposites. In fact to build faith, a good bible reading plan is almost a necessity! God gives us brains and we should use them effectively. Can I dare to suggest we often don’t plan (and dare I add the word “budget”) simply because it is an uncomfortable task for us to do? We are pampering self, not pleasing God. Right?

 
So today, I want to plan my day effectively and then work the plan! That way I know I have set up the day to do what God wants, and I know why I deviate if I do!
Tue, January 25, 2011 | link          Comments

Monday, January 24, 2011

What is the Passover? Yearly practices (part 2 the cup of Judgment or Deliverance)
plaguedrops.jpg


 

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

Matthew 12:36
 

Doesn’t that sentence make us shudder? Isn’t it true that many words we let loose in anger, wreck havoc on the unsuspecting world and we would like to call them back? Once released, they develop life that cannot be undone, racing forward in time to damage and destroy!
 

How often I would have like to invalidate my words! kill them!
 

Yet, they are mine and their effect is totally my own!  

Truthfully, all I can do is approach God in humility and confess my failure. Thankfully, he is a forgiving God who forgives and heals!
 

So, out of the ashes of failure we have second, third, and future attempts to do the impossible and control our words and actions. Each attempt with God in control provides a little more success, each attempt without God brings guilt and failure! Unfortunately, if failure is the inevitable option we choose, it brings dullness which ends in a deadness that robs us of life’s joy.
 

So often we fear the judgement of God, and can criticise God for such a judgement! If we do this we are being untruthful! Each and every one of us knows that even without God, when faced with ourselves and truth, we would still find ourselves guilty!
 

This universal truth lies in the Passover feast as part of the second part of the traditional Passover ritual. In my last blog we looked at the first cup, the washing of hands and eating of the vegetable dipped in salt water.
 

The next event we look into is the taking of the Matzah, which is unleaven bread. This often comes in squares of baked bread rather like an oversized cracker. It has a grid of lines made of small pinholes in it. It is white, but has brown stripes where it has been baked. 
 

Notice the simlilarity between the Matzah and Jesus? Pierced, like Jesus! Striped, like Jesus (when whipped by Pilate, it would have left stripes in blood on his back)


This Matzah is prepared as three pieces, each separated by linen and all inside a cover. A top, middle, and lower piece of Matzah.
 

The leader takes the middle matzah out and breaks it in two. Then, one piece is placed back into the middle compartment of the cover.
 

The other half is called the Afikoman. The matzah is held up and a prayer reminding the partakers that this was the bread of affliction in Egypt is said.
 

As Christians during this time we consider the three parts of God and Jesus as the intermediary between mankind and God. Jesus called himself the bread of life.
 

John 6:35 (NIV)
 

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
 

Jesus body was broken for our selfish, ignorant, nasty and stupid activities and words. As the Matzah breaks, we feel ourselves as part of the humanity who broke the body of God’s son.
 

The Akfikoman is wrapped in linen as Jesus’ body was wrapped for burial those 2000 years ago.
 

Now the second cup, the cup of Judgement, or plagues, is filled. Four questions are asked by the youngest present. They are…
 

What makes this night different from any other?
  (a)            On other nights we eat leaven and unleaven bread, why only leaven tonight?
  (b)            On other nights we eat herbs of many kinds, why only bitter herbs tonight?
  (c)             On other nights we don’t dip herbs once, why tonight do we dip twice?
 
(d)            On other nights we eat in any manner but why tonight do we recline on the table? 

Showing the Matzah the leader answers, firstly explaining that God free the Hebrews from Egypt, and Jesus frees us from evil in this world. Secondly the leader explains God’s promises hold true and like how he saved the Hebrew people many years ago he still saves us today as Jesus makes a way for us to life and truth.
 

In memory of this each of the plagues set out onto Egypt is spoken as a drop of wine is transferred from the cup to a plate three times in succession for each plague.
 

Can this be symbolizing all aspects of God taking part in this judgement?
 

There is an understanding that
 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV)
 

This is a Christian understanding, the pure Jewish Passover misses this truth and only remembers the past.
 

Then three things must be mentioned.
  1. the Passover lamb
  2. the unleaven bread
  3. the bitter herbs
 A shank bone of the lamb, not broken, is on a plate together with matzah and some horse radish. These symbolize Jesus, the Passover lamb who died to stop all further sacrifices, Jesus as the sinless one enabling the feast, Jesus pain and our sorrow, a bitter sadness should fill us for what we did to God’s son. 

Generally Psalm 113 and 114 are recited before everyone recite a prayer together thanking God who perform miraculous deeds and releases us from being locked up by evil and sin.
 

Then in remembrance of Jesus death and suffering, the cup of judgement is raise in toast as a prayer is said and then everyone drinks it.
 

The symbology of this part of the feast is significant and if we today could only understand and start to allow ourselves to feel the emotions and mindset that this great ceremony brings with it, we cannot but start to understand how much God loves us.
 

It’s with this respect for God that it’s worth going out into this world and perhaps being willing to give a little of ourselves to help others.
 

In that way we can also be a little divine today! Right?
Mon, January 24, 2011 | link          Comments


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A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

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