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Friday, February 18, 2011

Energy given, the Feast of first Fruits, occurs inside the feast of Unleaven Bread!
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Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
-Lao Tzu

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Giving of oneself, particularly in establishing the joys of a fruitful Earth, is one of the great gifts people give to each other and God.

We all have a certain amount of energy and strength to get through each day, and we try to apply it, to our life task, in a way that benefits ourselves and others. (Well, at least most of us do this!)

Each day we take our allotment of time and energy looking to find a multiplier that will take what we have, and enable it to grow and do more that what we have put into it.

In some strange way, each of us looks to extend ourselves past our immediate effect and establish something of worth in the day. Something that increases our value within the human race! 

Is that not why we, as humans, continually increase in abilities and capabilities?

Yet, perhaps the one area we often ignore in the western world, is that our lives are linked to the cycle of the seasons, and what they produce in the land.

First world people walk into a superstore, and they expect to be able to get something at almost any time of the year!


Modern transportation, refrigeration and containerization means it’s summer somewhere, and so the produce we need can be made available to us 12 months a year. All we have to do is move it around the world to our tables!

Yet, for those that produce this food, the process has a cycle linked to the seasons.

Since antiquity farmers have waited for those first rains, they have plowed, weeded, seeded and waited for growth.

Finally the first fruits appear!


It is with this appearance of first fruits in ancient Israel, that God linked the Feast of First Fruits.

It generally occurred on the 16th day of Nissan, the first Jewish month of the year. It occurred during the seven days of the feast of the Unleaven Bread and was first started when the Hebrew people moved into the land of Canaan and started to live there.

God said:

Leviticus 23:10-11 (NIRV) "Speak to the people of Israel. Tell them, 'When you enter the land I am going to give you, bring an offering to me. Gather your crops. Bring the first bundle of grain to the priest. He must lift the grain up and wave it in front of me. Then I will accept it from you. The priest must wave it on the day after the Sabbath.”

So you can imagine this was a feast of thanks!

It was part of a seven day party and was intended to show the sweetness and sustainment God brings to the people. It was a renewal feast! 

What is interesting is that more than a thousand years after the feast was started, Paul, a guy who knew Jesus says,

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NIV) “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

So here Paul, (who really studied and understood the ancient laws), is deliberately linking Jesus to this feast!

Interesting!

Jesus was the first person who died and was given a resurrected body after death! He was first among humans to get this gift.

Okay so what does this mean for us today?

Well, consider what we do each day to increase our worth, and how we see something happen as a result of this effort!

Maybe it’s simple, like seeing a set of clean dishes after doing the washing up after a meal, perhaps it’s that wave you get back after slaving to get that young person to school, perhaps it’s the satisfaction achieved at resolving that problem that has plagued many people, perhaps it's lending a helping hand where the feeble person cannot help themselves.

Whatever your gift to the world is, appreciate the fact that without God’s intervention, our energy and time is misdirected and with it, it has eternal value!

Then, thank God for the opportunity to use our energy and time to add value to our lives, the lives of those around us, and to give glory to God himself.

Even if no-one else notices, God does, and I am sure he smiles and says “well done my good and faithful servant!”

Words to desire!

Right?
        
Fri, February 18, 2011 | link          Comments

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Graciousness under fire, a forgotten skill?
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If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.
Francis Bacon
 
 
Being gracious is defined as being courteous, kind and pleasant under adverse circumstances.

Being gracious is something that is no longer a key objective of most people, is it?

Being REAL seems to be the new war cry
and it is used to inflict ourselves on others based on our own circumstances isn’t it?


Today I woke with a headache, having had back pain and tossed and turned all night. I have a meeting one hour earlier than normal, meaning I have to work twice as hard to get this blog out to everyone today. It’s raining and cold! I don’t have time for my coffee as usual, and I seem to be rather grumpy.


Ever had a morning like that?



Probably not, maybe you are one of the people who are fortunate to always have everything going right, but many of us aren’t that fortunate! Some of us wake up with hell nipping at our heels!



My greatest desire today is to focus on the grace of God, and allow it to work out into my day. The well known author Rick Warren said

“And you know, when you've experienced grace and you feel like you've been forgiven, you're a lot more forgiving of other people. You're a lot more gracious to others.”


I’m at risk today of treating others incorrectly so I have to make an effort to correct that before my day starts. My first action was to take it to God minutes after the shrill alarm bounced me from the little sleep I had last night. “Lord, I’m feeling awful, help me to not inflict this on others was my prayer”


Then as I encountered each situation that could cause and issue (e.g. the guy who cut me and half the traffic on the five lane road off) I pray for them.


Now I want to focus on God’s grace! Think about it!

We insulted God as the human race by ignoring his warnings in the garden of Eden, we take his enemies onside in our life doing selfish, nasty and ignorant things, we fail to follow the guidelines he sets for our safety and health!

When he sends his son, we kill him! When he sends his Holy Spirit to be within us, we fail to listen or acknowledge him! God continually offers to forgive and help us, and sometimes we even reject that!

Yet, this God, who created the universe, who can bring in meteors to destroy Earth, Tsunamis’ to wipe out cities, earthquakes to reduce our lives to rubble, circumstances to destroy our livelihood and family life, instead simply holds out his love to us and asks us to come to him to be forgiven and live victoriously!

When I consider the pain of the nails smashing through flesh and bone, and know he could have ended it in a millisecond if he didn’t have our lives in his hands, it shocks me to think I can be so immature as to fail to extend that same love which he has handed to me, out to others!

We don’t have to be complicated or have fancy titles to be gracious, the bible says of Jesus


Luke 4:22


“Everyone said good things about him. They were amazed at the gracious words they heard from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked”


So now I know, humble people can be gracious too! Jesus took so much to love me!

Then, as I look at the grace of God, I can more easily take the strain of today and turn it to joy in the love of life and loving others.


What about you?
Thu, February 17, 2011 | link          Comments

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Being one! What does that mean?
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There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.
….
I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.  Maya Angelou


We each have a sixth sense that is attuned to the oneness dimension in life, providing a means for us to guide our lives in accord with our ideas.
  Henry Reed


Loneliness is a dangerous encounter for any human being.

That is why in prisons, solitary confinement is the ultimate punishment and why each of us look for others to fill and complement our lives.
 
We find it better to fight, argue and struggle, than to be alone in many circumstances.


Is this perhaps because we have an inbuilt need to be with others?

 
Evolutionists would say that this is due to the need to live together with the pack or group and mutually face the odds of our harsh existance.

Maybe this is so, but this drive started somewhere and now it pushes us onward.

It is of great interest to me that when Jesus was about to go through being alienated and finally killed, this thought was in his mind, but in a way unlike it would have been in most of our minds if we were faced with similar circumstances.

He said…
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.

Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

He was not focussing on himself alone, but also focussed in meeting the need for the oneness of all people who gather under the banner of Jesus love.

This oneness of people, he said, would come through allowing a oneness with God himself.

We don’t often consider ourselves as one with the God of the universe or even one with each other do we?


Our multiple sects, dispositions and varying attitudes seem to argue against this don’t they?


Yet, for all that the pain of aloneness of being left behind by someone significant, crushes each of us at times as if we are being squeezed under an iceberg.

Cold, lonely, and in great pain we cry out.

But to whom do we cry out?

This is the fundamental question.

Who do we cry out to?

Why do we even cry out, if we lack knowledge oand belief in God?

God is real, in our innermost depths we know this, even if we choose to ignore or disclaim his existence.

Jesus, who claims to be this God, says we need never be alone!

We have an “sixth sense” communication with the God of the universe, and this not only aligns us with his presence and power, but if I understand the words above, “for those who will believe in” Jesus makes us as one.

We are part of the biggest family in and outside this universe!

We have family all around!

When I changed continents, I found this to be absolutely true.

Arriving on a continent where I knew no-one, it took less than a week to be connected with new family and linked into the family of God.

Those people are dear to me and now almost two decades later, we eat, drink, and party together, and all love God equally! Some of us have gone through pain of loosing loved ones, some have enjoyed seeing their families increase, but none of us can say we are lonely!

That’s the truth of Christian oneness and love.

Do you have this priviledge? It’s free you know!
Wed, February 16, 2011 | link          Comments

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feast of Unleavened Bread [part two] , Sincerity and truth!
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After sunset on the day following the day of preparation, the feast of unleaven bread starts with a special meal called the Passover, and then  the feast begins.


I have written previously on this subject (See
Feast of Unleavened Bread [part one] and where that bread was baked)


In that blog the linkage between sinless bread (unleavened bread) and Bethlehem (the house of bread) and Jesus was explained.


Today I want to look into how Jesus entered into this feast period after the last meal, (the last supper) and the discussion with God the Father he had at the start of this feast period.


This most amazing chat between Jesus and Father God is found in John 17. [Yeh, i know it's difficult to think of one God as two people, let alone three , but you can find out more on that in my blog God. . .One, two or three persons? ] To get back to today's topic...


Jesus knows he is about to die horribly and like any human, he wants out!


He asks the Father to change the course of history and find another way, but since that doesn’t happen, we can only surmise that there was only one way through the situation. It wasn’t the nice way either!


The word “excruciating” which means agonizing, or extremely painful, are derived from crucifix which referred to the nasty way they killed criminals and God’s son.


So, just before all this happens, how would we react? I hate to say it, but I think I would probably go for a dodge and run approach!

What would you do?

I just don’t think I have it in me to man up and let aggressive people smack nails through my limbs and then hang me out on a piece of wood for the birds to peck at. I'm not to keen on being placed out there stark naked either! Particularly not in a public place where people including women and children go past all day!


Not nice! I don't think I could volunteer for that, and in fact if I knew it was coming, I doubt my mind would let me think of anything else.

So what did Jesus think of at the time. I will quote just a few words…

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

Talk about looking at the bright side of things and considering others! Isn’t that an amazing peice of dialogue in it’s positive attitude?

But there is more…

They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.

This guy is about to be pegged out for all to see and his life blood drained from him, and he is thinking of US!

Do you see how Christians react under pressure when Holy Spirit moves inside us?


We do things considered weird and incredibly loving!
Would we have been praying for others with our life about to be snuffed out? I hope so!

People often label Christians as wimps! They know nothing! It is a strong person who allows God to guide their life, and yet, not incredibly strong because God does so much of the work (if we let him).

So this is how Jesus started the Feast of Unleavened bread! In power and self sacrifice.


He did it so we can be unleavened, that is to say, so we could  be sinless (without selfish, nasty, ignorant and stupid influences in our life).

Many years before Jesus the Hebrews were told by God in Exodus 12
 
“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”

Then Jesus came to bring the divisions of sinners out of the lair of the evil one. The new feast of un-leaven bread!

Perhaps that’s why that great ancient leader Paul says

1 Corinthians 5:8
Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sincerity and truth!

Let’s make that today’s focus. Have a great day!
Tue, February 15, 2011 | link          Comments

Monday, February 14, 2011

The greatest Romance, is not Valentine!
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"To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement."
    St. Augustine of Hippo

 
Romance is in the air! It’s Valentines day again!

Once a year the metronome of this event plays the emotional strings of our hearts with tunes that vary from an exquisite enthrall with another to deepest dread!

Some us, use this time for an excuse to cheat on our mates with lovers, others use it to deepen their relationship with a life partner!

Where did this strange cultural ritual come from?

Why do it?

The Catholic church originally had a St Valentines day but removed it from their calendar because...
 
“Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.”[1]

Wierdly enough without any more of a factual basis this practice and the card giving became popular around 19th century and has continued to today.

Why when there is no basis for this day?

Is it our deep desire for love that pushes us towards this strangeness?

Entwined within this mix of mumbo jumbo is that plump roman god, cupid,  with an arrow and tiny wings that only a bumble bee could understand.

This was the Roman god of erotic love and desire.  Not of true love mind you, mainly weird erotic type love and sex, and if you check up you will find there is a very weird story that goes with his type of love. It's got to do with poisoned arrows!

This holiday seems at best to be based on an unstable footing and to a large extent is probably as popular as it is due to the sexual drive of the human race.

Love is not always the center of the valentine objective, but rather a statement of love that could somehow lead to erotic love, true or forbidden.

Now when true love already exists, the day is good. However often it is a subversive love!

One where it can creep you out! Those flowers that arrive from a nobody and the chocolates that tempt us without a known giver.
In my time in the office I have seem more than one woman not wanting to go to the car park at night on Valentines day after receiving what the giver probably intended as a “love” gift.

So what is true love? We know that it is something that builds as part of relationship where transparency and trust are enshrouded in integrity and deep compassion for the other person.

The bible’s love chapter is 1 Corinthians 13, which says…

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love
. (NIRV)

While men often use these words as measures to evaluate their love of a woman, and women use them to evaluate love of men, they were originally from a man to express our love towards God!

That’s why Paul talks of the mirror bit. He is explaining while we are alive we cannot know true love, as it is a heavenly attribute of God (not cupid).

To be Godlike, is to move towards this greatest love. God has started the greatest romance with man, and we are not in the mid stages of a great dance of life with our eternal lover!

Now that’s the type of love that inspires me to love my spouse the right way and to push away those false loves of people who would lead me astray.

What makes you a great lover?
 


[1] Calendarium Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Œcumenici Concilii Vaticani II Instauratum Auctoritate Pauli PP. VI Promulgatum (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, MCMLXIX), p. 117

Mon, February 14, 2011 | link          Comments


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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

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