Archive for April, 2008

De-Termination!

April 28, 2008

KEY SCRIPTURE

Exo. 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

Are you a fan of those old karate films from back in the day? Remember how their lips would move BEFORE you would hear the sound of their voice? And what about those plots? The hero had to: 

(1) avenge his teacher,

(2) gather his fellow countrymen to face invaders, or

(3) recover stolen treasure to list a few examples.

Usually the good guy would accomplish his mission with relative ease, exuding a high level of confidence. However, there were occasions where the bad guys would be so formidable that the protagonist would have to retreat. It was strange watching the hero getting “whupped”, running from an adversary who would laugh hysterically. We got this ominous feeling as it appeared that it would be impossible for the good guy to win. How would he be able to “save the day” if all he could do was put his tail between his legs and run away?

Everyone loves a winner, especially if we can identify with their particular weaknesses, or have had to endure their particular struggle. In the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day, our favorite Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is programmed to be as implacable (unyielding) defending Sarah Connor’s son, John Connor (man’s last hope for survival), as this new, more deadly Terminator (Robert Patrick). However, this second Terminator is more pitiless, merciless, relentless, ruthless, cruel, hardhearted, callous, rigid, unbending, obdurate, cold-hearted in its search for John. Arnold does his very best to try to help Sarah (Linda Hamilton) and her son (Edward Furlong) escape from Robert. Eventually the two Terminators engage in battle, and it looks like Terminator 1 just might prevail. However, Robert is actually able to “kill” Arnold, which undoubtedly shocked many in the audience.

Hatefulness triumphing in any way, form, or fashion somehow disquiets us, maybe because we know that if “love don’t love nobody” (as the song says) hatred CERTAINLY doesn’t! One of the root causes of hatred stems from jealousy which is “as cruel as the grave (Sg of Sol. 8:6), keeping you out of the Kingdom.” In other words, hatred is like pulling the trigger of a loaded gun pointed at your head, while hoping that your enemy dies! It’s uncanny that some people think abusiveness, arrogance, and annoyance are a sign of confidence. They prefer this sordid, repugnant path as opposed to developing true confidence, which requires overcoming trials. So, to look good they tear everyone and everything down – even the venerable standards of excellence! They can’t envision themselves making an effort to improve, so they keep seeking loopholes! Often evil seems to “win”, “but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength (Isa. 40:31).”

As mentioned, sometimes even heroes have to retreat in the face of adversity in order to regroup. We see in the KEY SCRIPTURE that Moses had to flee from Pharaoh because earlier he had killed an Egyptian. Though Moses was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, this act would be perceived as treason since this Egyptian was an operative of Pharaoh. Moses certainly realizes that Pharaoh would hear about this act, quite possibly from the slaves he was trying to defend! Jealousy, spitefulness, or the hope for an extra crumb will reduce some to a crab-in-the-barrel mentality. Ironically, despite his humility, compassion, and his anointing, Moses had to endure this mentality throughout his life.

Leaders often find themselves in conflict with their own affiliates, however that can not be an impediment to their mission. To this end, leaders must not only have faith, but the Bible says to:

(1)5 add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control

perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness

love (II Pet. 1:5-7)”; also

(2)And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily (cheerfully), as to the Lord and not to men…(Col. 3:23).”

Now, Moses escaping to Midian symbolically represents a spiritually immature person who is starting to turn from his evil ways (spiritless task-orientation), aided by a fresh anointing (“he sat down by a well”). The worship of YHWH may have begun by the Midianites, some scholars speculate, although Josephus, in “Antiquities Of The Jews,” BK IV, Chapter VI, contradicts this claim. He talks about the seduction of young Israelite soldiers during the time of Moses by Midianite women, who lured them to idolatry. An Egyptian inscription refers to “Yhw in the land of the Shasu” as a tribe or people dwelling in what would later become Midianite territory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midian).

Moses had to be prepared for his next confrontation with the ideology of task-orientation. Just like in the movies, sometimes the protagonist would have to hightail it back to his “comfort zone” to either regroup, or get additional training. By virtue of his two moms, Moses was exposed to an incredible amount of wisdom – worldly (Pharaoh’s daughter) and spiritual (birth mother). At this point he represents the spirituality of those who have yet to learn to “enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat (Mat. 7:13).”

The seven daughters symbolizes self-preservation; self-gratification; self-definition; self-acceptance; self-expression; self-reflection; and self-knowledge, and represents the fullness of God. Moses taught (watered) the hampered flock (students or teachings). Impressed, the priest took Moses as a student. This, of course, is an allegorized view of the KEY SCRIPTURE.

Many of us still spiritually play the hokey-pokey with one foot in the Word, and one in the world. Some of us truly desire to mature spiritually by overcoming (1) anger, (2) lust, (3) greed, (4) attachments, (5) ego, (6) laziness, and (7) envy. Others, however, will simply give up trying to mature, which creates a situation reminiscent of the story of The Two Mice. Trapped in a cup of milk, one mouse urged the other one to keep trying to escape. The other one asks, “what’s the use when it’s too slippery? I’m getting tired of paddling!” The first one continues his exhortation (urging) to which the second one says, “forget it man, why are you trying? Just let me die!” So he stops paddling and starts to drown, prompting the first mouse to yell his name “Jerry!” The surviving mouse mourns for a minute – then he stepped on Jerry’s head and got out of the cup!

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Hitting On All Cylinders!

April 28, 2008

KEY SCRIPTURE  

Exo. 2:11 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.

Why do we recognize some people as being good in their “craft”? Take a singer for instance; if he mumbles in a monosyllabic, monotonic manner, we’ll probably not be impressed. If the next singer doesn’t mumble, he’ll probably be considered better than the first one. If the third singer doesn’t mumble and has a nicer “flow”, he’ll probably beat the first two. Finally, if the fourth singer can also add melody to his voice in addition to the other two skills, he might get “4 STARS!” from the judges. As the winner, this singer could go on to bigger and better things including fame and fortune. This last singer, more so than the others, is “hitting on all cylinders”, and exhibits a higher degree of excellence.

Receiving “greater blessings” may sometime require us to overcome “insurmountable” odds, and even TERRIBLE mistakes! A young couple indulges in pre-marital sex which produces a child before they themselves were able to finish high school. This conception was not planned, and yet this child grows up and makes an impressive mark on the world! While this is only a fictional account, let’s look at the story of Anthony A. Williams (1951-) an African-American politician, this being BLACK HISTORY MONTH.

Williams was born in Los Angeles and was adopted by Virginia and Lewis Williams, one of eight children in the family. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale and went on to get a doctorate in law from Harvard and masters in public policy from Harvard. His career has been mostly in financial administration, but he also served in the US Air Force and as an adjunct professor at Columbia University. He entered the administration of the District of Columbia and rose to become its chief financial officer in 1995, before being elected mayor in 1998 (http://www.dil.aber.ac.uk/dils/Research/RFocus9/html_a_k.htm#ltrD).  

Slave mentality tries to prevent us from achieving our purpose to be “fruitful and multiply” beyond a nominal level, and may be induced by breeding. However, another obstacle to faith in the ability to generate prosperity in every area of life stems from the lack of recognition of successful members of your ilk. To see Mr. Williams reach such a high level in his education and career has to be inspirational to other disadvantaged African-Americans. Beyond that, an adoptee shouldn’t feel that life will necessarily result in disenfranchisement, poverty, or criminality. Hopefully, this story may also inspire Blacks to adopt more.

To reach parity with White & Hispanics, Blacks would have to adopt 44 kids per 10,000 families to their 6. 

Referring to Exodus 2 we find the birth of Moses (drawn out of the water) and the favor which allows his life to be spared. “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord 

 

 

(Prv. 8:35).” This verse extols the virtue of wisdom, which would truly be demonstrated in the life of this baby who was found by Pharaoh’s daughter! Remarkably, his mother is able to become his nurse for his adoptive mother. For us to appreciate the exposure he received from his moms, especially as it relates to leadership, let’s consider the following example.

While playing alone, Lil’ Johnny was approached by another kid who said, “I know how much two plus two is.” Lil’ Johnny asked, “how much?” The kid replied, “four!” An awe-struck Lil’ Johnny then asked, “for real?!” A second child joins in and says, “I know how much two plus two plus two is.” Lil’ Johnny asked, “how much?” The second child said “six”, to which Lil’ Johnny asked again, “for real?!” Another kid said, “I know how much two plus two plus two plus two is.” Once again Lil’ Johnny asked “how much?” to a response of “eight”. And again Lil’ Johnny asked, “for real?” That’s when a slightly older child approached their group and stated, “I can show you how to get eight with just three two’s.” As the other little kids argued back and forth that it couldn‘t be done, all Lil’ Johnny could do was watch intently. The older kid then put a small three on top of the two, and explained that it means to multiply two times two times two. Upon realizing that the older child had told them the truth, the younger children exclaimed, “awesome”, except for Lil’ Johnny who could only use both his hands to hold his head in amazement.

Soon Lil’ Johnny starts school, and the teacher asks, “class, how much is two plus two?”. Only he knows. In the next grade the teacher asks “how much is two times two?”, and only he knows the correct answer. Eventually he reaches a grade where the question is “what is the logarithm of two?” None of the other students bother to raise their hand, they just look to Lil’ Johnny who answered “.301029996”! The whole class went, “WOW!” By being in “good company” Lil’ Johnny was much more advanced than his class.

 

Moses was exposed to royalty and slavery, which to some degree prepared him to be Israel’s first Pastor. However, in the KEY SCRIPTURE Moses kills an Egyptian, and thought erroneously that he had got away with it. Sometimes we think that we are hiding our inequities without realizing that in a lot of cases that’s simply isn’t the case. This certainly portrays the situation Moses was in, but more importantly, it causes him to flee in humility – another necessary trait to becoming a good leader. Surely this experience taught him to have compassion, which would certainly make him a more complete leader. He must have carried himself like a man of great stature to be asked, “who made thee a prince and a judge over us? ” in verse 14

Moses was exposed to royalty and slavery, which to some degree prepared him to be Israel’s first Pastor. However, in the KEY SCRIPTURE Moses kills an Egyptian, and thought erroneously that he had got away with it. Sometimes we think that we are hiding our inequities without realizing that in a lot of cases that’s simply isn’t the case. This certainly portrays the situation Moses was in, but more importantly, it causes him to flee in humility – another necessary trait to becoming a good leader. Surely this experience taught him to have compassion, which would certainly make him a more complete leader. He must have carried himself like a man of great stature to be asked, “who made thee a prince and a judge over us? ” in verse 14

 

 

He probably had the kind of physical presence that commands respect. In short, it appears that he indeed was hitting on all cylinders!”

Another strong point to consider in the analogy of the singers deals with how well we identify with them. It is most likely that the singer we choose will be the one we feel we can, or would like to, relate to the most. Like all of us Moses made a mistake (albeit his mishap resulted in the death of a human being; this incident was of course pre-Law). He had to deal with being an adopted kid, who are usually unaware of their origin, uncertain of their purpose, and unknowing of their destiny! Even today we can identify with him as confusion plays a role in the life of everyone of us. From the beginning God had “ordered the steps of a good man (Psa. 37:23)”, Moses in this case. To just view his humble start it would have been impossible to see him becoming what he became – a highly venerable (esteemed) servant of the Lord.  

Why don’t blind people skydive? Because it scares their dogs! Seriously, they don’t have the required ocular gift of sight. God blesses us with gifts to help our fellow man out of their bondage. Sometimes that may very well mean leaving our comfort zone. Moses was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but he showed a compassion by intervening in a fight between two slaves in 

 

 

verse 13 of the KEY SCRIPTURE. On another level, the story of Moses and how he delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, is replicated in the story of Jesus and how He delivers from the bondage of sin. However, those of us who profess to have faith in Christ have also been commissioned to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…(Mat. 28:19).” 

Imagine how effective you could be in making disciples as God’s servant “hitting on all cylinders”. Perhaps you were the last one picked for the team, or you weren’t the homecoming queen at you school. One thing we can clearly see from this story is that your beginning is NOT a hindrance to your future!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Purpose, Pattern, and Promise!

April 27, 2008

 KEY SCRIPTURE

Exo. 1:15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. 18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? 19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

While God’s purpose for us is to: (1) live a life that pleases Him (Rev. 4:11); (2) to “be fruitful and multiply, and have dominion (Gen. 1:28)”, His pattern includes (1) creating, (2) classifying, (3) empowering, (4) expanding, (5) regulating, (6) galvanizing, and (7) resting. It should be realized that we have to undergo this seven-step process in order to achieve our ultimate purpose! As pertaining to this story, let’s examined the first four steps. After creating Man, God reveals His “chosen people” (Gen. 9:26), calls Abram, and promises that “all families of earth…” are blessed thru him (Gen. 12:1-4). As Egyptian slaves the Israelites now seek a Deliverer, NOT just to free the Jews, but to also further God’s purpose so that all can enjoy God’s promise.

In this story, Egypt represents people who are unconcerned with Yahweh’s purpose, seeking prosperity with no regards to His promises, and is the world’s greatest civilization at the time. Their focus is bringing glory to themselves by afflicting the Jews with an ideology (belief system) of task-orientation. This system prioritizes the attaining of goals over the concerns of the well-being of people. Imagine the world of a toddler who spends the majority of his time in a care-free existence. Leisure would be the only aspect of life that would be “real” or relevant to him. As a parent you know that there’s a reality beyond his scope, and you have the duty to prepare him for it. You know, for example, that he will soon have to enter into the school system, and the question is what ideology will you employ (wittingly or not) to get him ready?

Utilizing a task-orientation system will force the child to “perform”, that is to say attend school, although it’s likely that he will do it in a perfunctory (robot-like) manner. There is little probability that the child would grasp the idea that this undertaking is for his betterment, but indeed is simply drudgery. So, as soon as he is able to overcome the fear of your “whip”, he most likely will seek to extricate himself from his perceived “predicament”. Conversely, by indoctrinating the toddler with a purpose-driven ideology, he is motivated to reap benefits by first becoming an asset. In one system he will find drudgery, in the other – rewards! In the first example there may be only little, if any, positively transference of high expectations, ideals, or standards. In the second instance the child is inspired to achieve his goal by taking the right direction, and realizes that his future gain is part of a greater initiative yielding greater compensation.

Egypt couldn’t allow Israel to have their hope for a Deliverer realized, so in the KEY SCRIPTURE we see that Israelite midwives are ordered to kill newborn Jewish sons. It should go without saying that to kill the “seeds” of a nation would kill its growth, averting it from its purpose of being blessed. Referring back to the toddler reared by task-orientation, imagine how he now has a son whose chance for completing school is also dismal. With the continuation of this cyclic occurrence it can readily be seen how it would negatively impact a community. Such a community would develop a virtual “slave mentality”, ceasing to want to be “fruitful and multiply”, while living only for handouts (personal, governmental, spiritual, etc.).  

It must be noted that the slave mentality starts with a slippage in spirituality, which is defined as the quality or condition of being spiritual or saintly. “Jesus answered them, ‘verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin (Jhn. 8:34). This mentality runs afoul of God’s desire of vitality, prosperity, and a peaceful posterity for us. On the other hand, God can bless us even when we’re in the bonds of physical slavery! Look at how He treated Shiphrah and Puah in the KEY SCRIPTURE for not following the Pharaohic decree to kill newborn Jewish boys. In Jhn. 10:28 Jesus said, “and fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Instead of fearing a mortal king, these two chose to follow “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen (I Tim. 1:17).”

An important lesson that this story illustrates is that we are not righteous based on what we think is right. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts (Prv. 21:2).” Additionally, it should be realized that Egypt considered itself spiritual with 1,500 gods and goddesses. 

(http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/religion.htm)   

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered (Prv. 28:26).” When a thought enters our head we must use judgment to determine whether or not we should follow that thought. The guiding principle required for this endeavor is found in Mat. 6:33, which reads, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” It’s written that only God is good (Mat. 19:17), that He is love (I Jhn. 4:8, 16), and that “love worketh no ill to his neighbour (Rom. 13:10)…” Read Mat. 22:36-40.

Another lesson is that… without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).” God is NOT a man (Num. 23:19), but a Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Jhn. 4:24; Gal. 5:22-23) who influences thoughts; thoughts influences behavior; behavior habits, which creates our character. The fool hath said in his heart, ‘there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good(Psa. 14:1; 53:1).” Wisdom has varying degrees, just as foolishness, which has its affect on our perspective, ideology, character, and even our religious beliefs. Entities incongruent (dissimilar) to God’s Spirit shall vanquish! But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it (Prv. 2:22).”

THE WORLD’S MAJOR RELIGIONS BY SIZE  

Christianity       1758.8        “Follower of Christ”

Moslem               935.0        “Submit to God”

Non-religious     866.0         Unbeliever

Hindu                  705.0         Duties, Rebirth, Karma, Soul Liberation, and Yoga

Buddhist              303.0        Enlightened; 8-Fold Path

Atheist                233.0        Secularism

Other                  219.3        Skeptic

Chinese              180.0        Ethical, Moral, And Social Values

Tribal                   92.0        Local-Driven

Jewish                  17.4        Laws, Commandments, Statutes, And Judgments

These figures, taken from the World Almanac 1992, are in millions, and shows that Christianity is the most popular religion, with love as its tenet. However, Jesus did say, “when once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open unto us’; and He shall answer and say unto you, ‘I know you not whence ye are:’ (Luk. 13:25)