Crystal Writes A Blog

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How Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow


Field at Sunrise by Flickr User Moyan Brenn, CC License = Attribution

Field at Sunrise by Flickr User Moyan Brenn, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I remember sprouting a lima bean in a wet paper towel when I was in one of my lower elementary grades. I also remember that I found it fascinating. I think most people who take the time to see how God makes things grow are in awe of His handiwork. I am especially in awe at how, just as His Word tells us in John 12:24, it takes the death of the seed to make the plant grow and bring forth fruit. Sometimes, we only look at things at the point of death or hopelessness, and we forget that even out of that, God can bring new life.

Today’s reading from Leviticus 27:16 through Leviticus 27:21 doesn’t talk about anything growing, but it does talk about the fields where the growing is done. It’s basically about people who want to consecrate a field to The Lord. God informs Moses that the priests are to value the field according to its production using a standard measure of barley. Later, if the person wants the field back, he can redeem it for the value plus another one-fifth of the value, unless someone else purchased it. If it has been sold, then on Jubilee when the new owner vacates it, the land will become a permanent possession of the priesthood, and it will be holy to The Lord.

So, a field consecrated to The Lord will either be redeemed for a greater value than when it was consecrated, or it will become perpetually holy. Because God takes possession of it, He brings new life from old. If that can happen with a field, what then can happen with a soul? How many times have we prayed over a person and dedicated them to the work of God from their youth. And then they grow up and make bad decisions that go against everything we hoped and dreamed they would do for The Lord. But if we let go and trust them into God’s hands, He can add value to them or draw them to Himself as His permanent possession.

I write this at the end of a long day with a lack of sleep, but I am happy for the day because the works done in its hours have been necessary due to the work God has done in our lives. A few weeks ago, you may recall my writing about the nephew who was in a coma due to a drug overdose. If not, you can read the post “When Brothers Weep” for more information. At that point, and based on all the tests, we prayed for a miracle but were fairly certain that we had a long road ahead even if he ever woke up. Our tasks today were part of that road–which it turns out will not be as long as anticipated.

Beyond the test results and expectations, our nephew Joshua is out of both the hospital and the in-patient rehab facility, walking with a walker, thinking and remembering with almost perfect cognition, and in the process of amazing his out-patient rehabilitation workers. His biggest deficit is neuropathic pain in one foot that keeps reminding him that he just took his body through something from which it should not have recovered. And yet it has. And we are praising God for the opportunity to encourage him to use his second chance to become what God created him to be and to share his testimony with others.

My husband and I took Joshua and his three brothers to church when they were very young, and we prayed over them more than once. We had dreams of their dedication and service to God. We didn’t get to keep them in our custody very long, but we loved them as if they were our own, and it has caused us great pain to see these “fields” misused and under attack of the enemy because their mother makes herself more available to the enemy than to God. But today gives me hope of change and hope that those prayers from so long ago will be answered. Those prayers came before all the attacks of the enemy that have sought to bring these boys down, and maybe it’s those prayers that have stopped the enemy from being able to fully take their lives. Maybe these boys that we dedicated to God will each find their way to Him, increased in value and perpetually holy, before their ends come and/or before the end of life on this earth. I am going back to that prayer and that dedication and asking God to make it so. You, my friends and readers, are welcome to join me. Thank you.

May 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chariots of Mire


Pharaohs Chariots Image by Flickr User Nick Thompson, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Pharaohs Chariots Image by Flickr User Nick Thompson, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s photo stream at Flickr.

Maybe they ran in like Chariots of Fire thinking they were all that and a bag of chips, but the pride that pushed Pharaoh along with all his chariots and cavalry, made them nothing more than an army trapped in the muck and mire of the returning sea. In today’s reading from Exodus 14:26 through Exodus 15:26, we will see what God does when anyone tries to raise himself up as if he is greater than Yahveh Almighty, and we will see what God does for those who lift Him up as God and Lord, so He can deliver them from the miry clay at the bottom of the deepest sea of sin. His mercy endures forever!

So God tells Moses to stretch his arm out over the sea to bring it down upon the Egyptians, and he does it. The Egyptians try to flee, but they are swept into the sea, and not one of them is left. But Israel continues to walk on dry ground with the sea walled up on their right and left. On that day, Israel sees the might of God, and they believe in both Him and His servant, Moses. And they begin to sing what has been sung to a variety of tunes and names, but often known as The Song of Moses.

The first twenty verses of Chapter 15 are the lyrics of the song that begins with a praise to God because He is exalted and because He threw the horse and rider into the sea. I love what would be considered the second verse of the song…

Yah is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.
This is my God: I will glorify him;
my father’s God: I will exalt him.

The rest of the song goes back and forth from praising God for who He is and for His strength and describing exactly what He did to the sea and to Pharaoh and his men. At the end of the song, it speaks of Moses’ sister, Miriam, picking up a tambourine and playing along with the praise song while leading other women who played tambourines and danced. Somehow, I can just hear the inspired singing and see the inspired worship as Miriam and Israel lift their praises up to Yahveh who has just given them life after what looked like impending death from all sides. This is a true revival praise service.

After the song, Moses leads Israel deeper into the desert, and suddenly the children of Israel are thirsty. The only water available is from the river of Marah, meaning bitter, and so named because the waters were too bitter to drink. The children of Israel, delivered miraculously only three days before, start whining again. Still, even with the whining, Moses seeks God who shows him a piece of wood that when thrown into the water makes its flavor sweet and drinkable.

Now I’m wondering if the children of Israel were like fish with short memories, or if whining was just their preferred method of asking God for favor. His word says we have not because we ask not, but I wonder if how we ask makes any difference. I know that God, like any good parent, wants to provide for His children, so I think we should come before His throne with confidence and trust that He will ALWAYS provide for us as we need. Of course, I also think we should ask realistically and with respect. In other words, it’s probably not wise to ask for all the gold in the world just because we know Our Father owns the gold in a thousand hills. 🙂

While Israel is stopped in the desert, God begins to give them His laws and rules of life. His ways, which are, and always have been, above our ways, were most certainly the best ways to live for those who wanted His peace and the best life. I love verse 26 in today’s reading, so I’m going to add it here in the words from The Complete Jewish Bible… He said, “If you will listen intently to the voice of Adonai your God, do what he considers right, pay attention to his mitzvot and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am Adonai your healer.” I know that when we do what He considers right, we will find similar promises for our lives now.

January 14, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At The Water’s Edge


Red Sea Parting Graphic by Flickr User Amboo Who?, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike

Red Sea Parting Graphic by Flickr User Amboo Who?, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike
Click image to open a new window to access user’s original image and photo stream at Flickr.

Almost 30 years ago, I wrote a song based on this story. While I never spent time with other writers on this, working on editing and such, the words and ideas from the rough draft fit the theme. So, without digging out my old tablets, here are the words to the best of my memory…

As the Jewish nation stood before the Red Sea,
Pharaoh came in after them, although he’d set them free.
All at once the children of Israel began to cry,
Moses did you just lead us out here so that we could die.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So Moses said, “Hush all ye children and wait upon the Lord.”
And then he held up his staff, and the sea rolled back at God’s word.
So the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land,
And Pharaoh was killed by the sea and the mighty power of God’s hand.
(CHORUS)
And God will part the waters… of sorrow before your eyes,
And you can cross your troubles… on land that He makes dry.
And when you reach the other side and climb to higher ground,
You’ll find God’s washed away the things… that tried to drag you down.

There was a third verse I can’t seem to remember, but I know the last line in the verse said something about, “And at the water’s edge, everything can change.” Even without remembering the rest of the verse, that one line has come back to me to give me strength and encourage me multiple times. I know that when things look the most impossible, sometimes it’s just the darkness before the dawn, or God planning on showing off like He did in today’s reading from Exodus 14:15 through Exodus 14:25.

As we begin today’s verses, Adonai is asking Moses why he is crying to Him when all he needs to do is stretch his staff out over the sea, divide the water, and send Israel across on dry land. I love the matter-of-fact way this is worded, and I’m thinking that Moses was thinking, “Hmm, why didn’t I think of that?” I mean, unless God had already told Moses exactly what he was going to do, I’m certain Moses knew God was going to do something, but I doubt he had an idea of exactly what that was going to be or that he had the freedom to just lift his staff and make things happen.

So God tells Moses to go ahead and do this thing, and that He will win glory through it at the expense of Pharaoh and his army. He says the Egyptians will know that He is The Lord, He then sends both the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud behind Israel’s camp to separate them from Egypt’s camp. He kept it dark for Egypt and light for Israel all night long. Then Moses lifted his staff, and God caused a strong wind from the east that made the sea go back. The waters were divided, the sea floor became dry, and the children of Israel walked on dry land between the two walls of water.

As the story for today ends, Pharaoh decides that if Israel can do it, so can he, and he leads all his horses and chariots into the now-dry sea to pursue them. Just before dawn, Scripture says God looked through the pillars of cloud and fire at the Egyptian army and through them into a panic as He removed wheels from their chariots, so they could only move slowly and with great difficulty. They figured out that God was fighting for Israel and tried to turn back, and we’ll see what became of that in tomorrow’s reading.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen just how well Jim Carrey does at acting out how messed up men would be if we tried to harness the powers of God, or even if you have and really like this movie like I do, have a little fun with this video clip from Bruce Almighty

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

Greater Than; Less Than; No Equal


Equals Sign by Flickr user Colin Jagoe, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Equals Sign by Flickr user Colin Jagoe, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab with access to the original image and the user’s photo stream at Flickr.

Here are a few questions to think about… 1. What is the opposite of light? 2. What is the opposite of good? 3. What is the opposite of love? More than likely, your answers are dark, evil (or bad), and hate. Now, a new question… What is the opposite of God? If your answer is satan, guess again. I’ll tell you the answer by the end of this post, but you may get it out of today’s reading from Exodus 7:8 through Exodus 8:10 (8:6 in Complete Jewish Bible since there are more verses in chapter 7).

Our reading begins with God speaking to Aaron and Moses about what miracles to perform in front of Pharaoh. They do as Yahveh commanded, but Pharaoh is unimpressed because he is able to call out magicians to perform the same “trick” with turning a stick into a serpent. Well, except for the fact that Aaron’s serpent ate up all the magicians’ serpents. Still, Pharaoh stayed hard-hearted as Yahveh told them he would be. Even in the face of the miraculous, Pharaoh could not see God as greater than him nor himself as less than God. It’s the same fatal mistake made by the angel Lucifer when he thought he was equal to God.

The next miraculous work performed by Aaron and Moses turns all water in Egypt to blood. The water in the river turns to blood, kills all the fish, and makes the river stink with their death. Even water in jars and buckets turns to blood. The whole land of Egypt is filled with blood, but Pharaoh is so hard-hearted that he actually has his magicians perform the same feat. Now why didn’t he have his magicians make him some pure water to drink? I guess hard-heartedness comes bundled with idiocy or something.

Never-the-less, even after seven days of drinking blood, when Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh to let the people go to worship, he still refuses to let them, so the men warn Pharaoh of the coming plague of frogs. At God’s word, frogs come up from all over the place and swarm the land and homes of all Egypt. And, again, Pharaoh has his magicians do exactly the same thing. Political logic is just illogical. Demonstrating power just for power’s sake has no wisdom. This is why it is so important to make sure that we who believe in the miraculous do not worship the miracles themselves, nor should we worship those whom God uses to perform His great works. Worship should be saved for Yahveh Almighty and Him alone. Not the miracles, but the God OF the miracles. See the wisdom here?

Finally, Pharaoh gets it enough to realize that he needs Moses to intercede with God for the frogs to be taken out of the land. He promises that if Moses will intercede, he will allow the people to go worship. Moses tells him that he will not only intercede, but he will allow Pharaoh to choose the time. Pharaoh requests the frogs be taken from all but the river by the next day. And I love Moses’ answer to Pharaoh’s request: Moshe said, “It will be as you have said, and from this you will learn that Adonai our God has no equal.”

And just in case you haven’t quite grasped my point from the question at the top, the answer to what is the opposite of God is NOTHING. In order for satan (ha satan meaning “the adversary”) to be the opposite of God, he would need to be as purely evil as God is good; as purely hate as God is love. But God has no equal even in the opposite sense. God is greater than all, and absolutely nothing or no one is greater than–or equal–to Him. And yet, He cares enough for us to create for us, walk with us, talk with us, listen to us, lay down His own life for us, and prepare an eternity for us. Hallelu-Yah!!

December 31, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

De Do Do Do De Da Da Da


I haven’t had to speak very many times, and I’ve been told far more often that I should speak because God has given me so many wonderful testimonies that bless others, but I think I know how Moses felt in today’s reading from Exodus 3:16 through Exodus 4:17. Even when others tell you that your speaking is great, you feel like you just stood up in front of everyone and babbled like a baby–or spoke nonsense like the title of the 1980’s Police song I used above. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In yesterday’s reading, Moses discovered the burning bush and the voice speaking from it. Today, we hear more of that conversation. First, God tells Moses that he is to gather the leaders of Israel to tell them that God has heard their groanings and that He plans something better for them. He promises that Israel’s leaders will pay attention. Then God tells Moses to go to the Egyptian leaders and request a three-day leave of absence to go into the desert to worship Yahveh. He goes on to tell Moses that the king of Egypt will not do the right thing until he is forced to do so by the wonders of God, but that he will eventually let the people go.

Moses first excuse to God was that the Egyptians would not listen to him or believe that he was speaking for Yahveh, so God asks the question of him, “What’s that in your hand?” Moses tells him it’s just a staff, and God turns it into a snake which He then tells Moses to grab as He turns it back into a staff.

Now, I want to break away for just a moment here to share a little inspiration. I started a writing project back in 2006 called “Good Morning Christian Writer” that was to contain devotions written specifically for Christian writers. Each devotion contained a story and a related writing exercise. Yes, I still plan to get back to the project which was sidelined by two neck surgeries and all else that comes with putting something on the back burner. Anyway, one of the submissions was from a woman who used that question from God to Moses as related to Christian writers and their writing instruments. From the moment I read it, that has been an inspiration to me, and I just want to pass on to all of you who are writers to ask yourself the same question. When you do, remember that God can turn a staff into a snake and back again, so instead of looking at what is in your hand (be it pen, pencil, computer, a talent, money, etc.), look at how God can use whatever you hold.

Even after witnessing God’s wonder, Moses was still a bit concerned about people believing him, so God had him stick his hand in his coat. When he pulled it out, it was leprous. Then he had him put it back in again, and when he pulled it out, it was healed. So once Moses was sure they would believe the words were from God, he challenged God as to whether he was the right messenger for such a task. He told God that he talked slow and basically that he got tongue-tied. And that’s what the song in the above video is all about. It’s called You Aint Been Nothin’ Yet, and it’s a parody of You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. It poses the possibility that Moses stuttered, so he says to God, “I ain’t b-b-b-been n-n-n-nothin’ yet.” It’s a cute one.

But God didn’t think Moses excuse was cute, and He got a bit angry. He asked him who made his mouth and who gave men the ability to speak. Never-the-less, since Moses’ brother was just on his way to meet him, God told him that Aaron could speak for him. He said Aaron would be like his mouth, and he would be like Aaron’s God. He then tells him to go and to take the staff because he would need it.

I’ll close with a note that the last part speaks to me both in God’s message to Moses that He is the one who enables man to speak, and in that He provided a speaker already on his way because He knew ahead of time that Moses would doubt himself. We don’t know when Aaron came on the scene, but I’m guessing he was an older brother that was born before the Hebrews were forced to give up their baby boys. The fact that he was alive and that Moses knew him even after being mostly raised in an Egyptian palace and then moving to Midian tells me that God planned for the two of them to minister together. He knows plans we cannot even imagine, but in our humanity, we still question God just like Moses did. I guess that’s why Paul said he had to die (repent) daily, but it’s also why God’s Word says that His mercies are new every morning. Hallelu-Yah!

P.S. Merry Christmas once again–and don’t forget to read the story I posted yesterday where I used the titles of Christmas carols and songs to create a humorous tale.

December 25, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All That God Commands


The title for this post comes from the last verse of this reading from Genesis 6:9 through Genesis 6:22, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” (This verse from the Amplified Bible.)

I just spent an evening and a full day at a training seminar to learn about prayer and healing and ministering to others. I have about 25 pages of notes, and I saw some amazing things in the Power of God. Since I have walked as a follower of God, I can testify to multiple miracles, including one that is medically verified. And yet, I look at these chronicles of Noah, and I wonder, if it were me in his place, would I do ALL that God commanded me to do?

If we all told the truth, I’m sure we would all admit that it would be a struggle to exceed the boundaries of the natural things God wants us to do and take a jaunt into the supernatural. If we can’t see it or feel it, can it really be true? Then again, we can’t see love, but we somehow trust it is true. We can’t see salvation, but we know it is true, and often trust someone who says they’ve become saved just on their word. And salvation, the regeneration of the human soul, is the greatest miracle of all. Of course salvation wasn’t even part of the culture back then–except for Noah. The world had never yet seen a drop of rain, so just believing that God was going to destroy the earth with water was a stretch, but he did it. But then, to build a boat on dry land, build it the size required and believe it would float, and then trust that the animals from all over the earth would just find their way there and walk right in? Wow! Most of the world would have called, and probably did call, Noah a crazy man. But he obeyed in spite of their accusations.

Growing up, we had a record, and yes I mean a vinyl LP album, called “Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow…Right!” I can’t tell you how many times we listened to it, but it was funny pretty much every time. The part we listened to most was the three skits where God calls on Noah to build an ark. Noah asks questions like, “Am I on Candid Camera?” and “Who is this really?” And while the story is written as a comedy, so much of it rings of truth when thinking about how humans react to that which is supernatural in God. To hear it for yourself, listen to this recording at God Tube… http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WL7YYLNX and let me know if it’s your first time hearing it, or if it brings back some great memories for you.

And after you listen to Bill Cosby, and/or read today’s Scriptures, ask yourself whether you would act like Bill’s Noah, or the Noah in the Bible who, rather than doing things his own way, did ALL that God commanded of him. No wonder he found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

October 5, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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