Crystal Writes A Blog

A Place to Read What "Crystal-Writes"

Only the Best for God’s Kids


Simply the Best by Flickr User Ray Larabie, CC License = Attribution

Simply the Best by Flickr User Ray Larabie, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

We all want the best of everything in life, but those of us who truly care about others don’t want them to have the worst either. So, most of us either become highly competitive or totally non-competitive. The fact is, life is filled with bests and worsts. There are best-case and worst-case scenarios, there are best-in-show designations, and there are bests in our gardens. We have the best of the times and the worst of times, and we have ratings from best (five-star) to worst (one-star). The middle-of-the-road average is just not acceptable to most of us, so the idea that everyone can have the same thing in a world of bests and worsts is pure fantasy. So, since it won’t work that way, then we should see the value in following a God who wants His children to have only the best.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:13 through Deuteronomy 33:17, we will read Moses’ blessing to the tribe of Joseph. It includes a blessing for the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh–his children by non-Hebrew wives while he lived in Egypt. It’s short enough that I will go ahead and paste the Scripture here from The Complete Jewish Bible

Of Yosef he said:

“May Adonai bless his land
with the best from the sky, for the dew,
and for what comes from the deep beneath,
with the best of what the sun makes grow,
with the best of what comes up each month,
with the best from the mountains of old,
with the best from the eternal hills,
with the best from the earth and all that fills it,
and the favor of him who lived in the [burning] bush.
May blessing come on the head of Yosef,
on the brow of the prince among his brothers.
His firstborn bull — glory is his;
his horns are those of a wild ox;
With them he will gore the peoples,
all of them, to the ends of the earth.
These are the myriads of Efrayim;
these are the thousands of M’nasheh.”

Simply the best, and only the best, of everything from crops to gold to the favor of God. Now THAT is a blessing! If someone said these things to us these days, we’d be saying something like, “From your mouth to God’s ears,” and we’d hope for it all to come true. That said, I see this as a reason to bless our brothers and sisters in Yeshua as much as possible, and let the greatest blessing we offer be one of a deeper walk with our Creator.

If you’re like me, you might sometimes withhold blessing others with your lips for concern of sounding like you carry the apostate messages of our current generation. We don’t want to speak the blessings of God above the God of the blessings like so many “prosperity preachers,” but prosperity in the perfect will of God is not a sin. God says He gives us the ability to make wealth to bless others, so speaking blessings on our brethren for the sake of lifting the needy and spreading the gospel is a good thing. Speaking it only for selfish gain and benefits is what we must avoid.

Readers, I bless you now with the wisdom of Yahveh Almighty to know when to speak blessings and how to speak them–both toward others and toward yourselves. May you have only the best of what God has to offer in your lives that you may draw closer to Him as you walk through this life with Him. And, may you always remember that when all else seems to fail, if you have God in your life and heart, you have the best already.

P.S. Just for an off-the-path side note: If you grew up on Dukes of Hazzard, you probably remember “Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane” as one of the quirky characters. Well, the actor who played him, James Best, was born in Kentucky and raised in the cute little town of Corydon, Indiana, where I live now. I also remember him from a number of old episodic shows like Twilight Zone and Bat Masterson. Click here for his Wikipedia page just for the fun of it. 🙂

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All In The Family


It used to be that naming shows from a specific era was a clear give-away to someone’s age. But now, with the advent of cable and satellite, and stations dedicated to classic television from days gone by, lots of people have the pleasure of enjoying television and movie entertainment from the past. Of course, the older I get, the more I change what I consider to be entertainment, but I do enjoy the stuff from the era when joking about a miniskirt was considered risqué instead of the out and out sexuality that’s pushed out of Hollywood now.

In today’s reading from Numbers 36:1 through Numbers 36:13 (the entire chapter), we complete another weekly portion, and we finish the book of Numbers. And Moses is finishing up his ministry as the leader of Israel by taking care of a few loose ends. In this case, a clan member from the tribe of Joseph has just realized that an earlier ruling requested by the five daughters of Zelophehad could turn out to create an imbalance in the inheritance of the tribes. The ruling was simply that if a man had no sons, his daughters would receive the inheritance from their father as if they were sons.

The problem, as pointed out by the clansman, is that if these girls marry into another tribe, they would take their inheritance with them, taking away part of what rightfully belonged to one tribe and giving it to another. In addition, they would then have a new inheritance with their husband’s family. At the year of Jubilee, when all properties return to their original owners, the tribes these daughters married into would have more than their fair share, and the tribe from which they came would be short some of its inheritance.

Moses decreed a new law that stated these daughters, and any daughters in the same position, would be required to marry within their own tribe to prevent any imbalance in the portions of inheritance. The tribes and the daughters seemed receptive to the law, and in obedience, the girls married from the sons of the brothers of their father. (In other words, they married their cousins.) In doing this, they fulfilled the command that no inheritance would be shared tribe to tribe, and each person would cling to the inheritance that belonged to the tribe of his or her ancestors.

I know there are lots of jokes about intrafamily marriage relationships and inbreeding, but I’m certain God wouldn’t have told them to do something like that if it was actually considered incest and would cause problems like birth defects. I’m happier that we consider that off-limits now, at least in the U.S., but for the purposes of keeping the purity in the tribes, it made sense for their situation. At the same time, I have a feeling that those tribal lines did eventually get blurred, and they may have led to some pretty heated conflicts in the future of Israel. Maybe they still do.

Now, I wonder how God sees the tribes and His family as it is scattered all over the world. Wouldn’t it be funny to find out that by way of ancestral bloodline, your next-door neighbor is actually related to you? Or, what if you found out that you and your cousin had ancestry from Israel but from different tribes? Thankfully, God does have it all sorted out, and He knows who is who right down to the DNA in each strand of hair. And we can be even more thankful that no matter how many families are on the face of the earth now, God has a plan to turn the multiple flocks into one flock under One Shepherd, and we will spend eternity worshiping the One Father we all share equally. Those will be the days.

July 18, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sinai Poisoning


Mt Sinai by Sunrise by Flickr User Yann Pinczon du Sel, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Mt Sinai by Sunrise by Flickr User Yann Pinczon du Sel, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

There are a lot of ways you can die in the desert. You can get sun poisoning, you can die of dehydration, or you can cross paths with a desert critter that bites and poisons you. None of these types of deaths sound in the least bit pleasant, and thankfully, most people who live in, or pass through, a desert won’t face a desert-related death. Personally, I loved living in the high desert of Kingman, Arizona, but I also loved having a cool house and cool water to get relief on the hottest days.

In today’s reading from Numbers 26:52 through Numbers 27:5, our reading begins with God telling Moses how to divide the land between the tribes of Israel. Because He is a fair God, He says to give the larger plots of land to the larger tribes, and the smaller pieces of land to the smaller tribes. The reading also goes through the ancestors of the tribe of Levi who will not get any land of their own because they are set apart for the priesthood.

There is a quick rundown of all the clans numbered in the recording of the Levites who now number 23,000 in the count of men who are one month old and older. The clans include Gershonites, Kohathites, and Merarites, along with the sub-clans of Libnites, Hebronites, Mahlites, Mushites, and Korahites. There were still Korahites because Korah’s sons were not killed when the followers of Korah were swallowed up by the earth for their rebellion against God and Moses. And the Kohathites are from Kohath, an ancestor of Amram. Amram married Jochebed and fathered Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.

The current census as taken by Moses and Eleazar the high priest is a registration of all the people now living in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan river from Jericho. The reading points out that not one person who was registered in the previous census taken in the wilderness of Sinai was still alive–except Joshua and Caleb. As God prophesied to the previous group of people, they all died in the wilderness without seeing The Promised Land.

The reading concludes with a group of five sisters whose father, Zelophehad, was a descendant of Manasseh but had passed away without leaving any sons to carry on his name. The daughters go before Moses and Eleazar to plead their case for their own piece of property. They state that their father did not die in the rebellion with Korah, but died in the desert due to his own sin and did not leave any sons. Moses and Eleazar promise to take the matter before God to seek an answer for them.

There are many ramifications that follow both faithfully serving God and disobeying Him. The Sinai wilderness proved to be a giant graveyard for those who refused to trust in the Word of The Lord. Maybe all those incidents of rebellion, like that of Korah and those that followed him, were the times God gave the people over to their reprobate (condemned) and fleshly minds, so their behavior would help fulfill the prophesy that they would die out there. Maybe all those places where I was reading and saying how I could not believe people could be so stupid were just areas where I was seeing what it looks like when God sears a conscience with a hot iron.

Thankfully, the end result of failing God is not always to end with a troubled mind, but what about those who have been given mercy after mercy, grace after grace, and proof after proof of God’s love and power yet still choose to walk opposite His desire and will? In today’s Proverbs (Chapter 30 for the 30th day of the month), it speaks of how churning milk produces butter, and pushing angry words produces strife. We could add that drinking poison produces death, and purposeful rebellion against Yahveh Almighty produces the wages of sin. We could also add that confession and repentance of our sins produces God’s everlasting mercy and grace, and puts our sin and its wages under the blood of Yeshua. It’s all simple mathematics (you get out what you put in) and chemistry (God is better than “poison control”), and we can trust that God will be fair and balanced and faithful to His word. HalleluYah!

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is Just


Book Cover for Shattered Justice (Family Honors Series, Book I) by Karen Ball

Book Cover for Shattered Justice (Family Honors Series, Book I) by Karen Ball
Click the book cover image to open a new tab/window for the book page at Amazon.

God is just. No matter what we may see, feel, imagine, or think, that is an absolute fact. Sometimes it feels like He is far away, maybe even ignoring us, but He always knows what He is doing, and He will always answer the right answer in the right time. This world has so much injustice, which by definition means justice is not done, so we may wonder what God is doing as we watch the innocent suffer and the criminals prevail, but there is an eternity of true justice in our future if we trust God.

In today’s reading from Numbers 7:42 through Numbers 7:71, we get a little more of a glimpse of what our future world might be like as we see more of Israel’s leaders bringing gifts for the wilderness tabernacle. I say it’s a glimpse of our future world because right at this moment of our reading, we’re only seeing the well-oiled workings of people in obedience to Their Creator. In addition to obedience, these men are gathering love offerings to help keep the ministry moving forward, and the offerings are abundant.

For just a quick rundown, yesterday’s reading covered days one through five in the list of those bringing gifts to the priests, and today covers days six through ten. Yesterday’s givers included representation from the tribes of Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, and Simeon. Today’s givers include representation from the tribes of Gad, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, and Dan. On both days, the gifts included silver, gold, grains and oils for sacrifices, animals for sacrifices, and much more. And, again, I recommend reading the linked passage above for complete details.

Now, I’m going to go in a totally different direction here and use something from the reading to jump off into a quick book review. One of the leaders of Israel, the one from the tribe of Benjamin, is named “Avidan.” That is the name of the main character from book one of the Family Honors trilogy by Karen Ball. Avidan means “God is Just.”

I’ve read all three of the books in the trilogy, and they are some of my favorite books. The three books are about three siblings in the Justice family, and each sibling gets the focus of one book, though all the siblings show up in all the books. The characters all became so real to me that now, years later, I still want to find the little town in Oregon where they lived and try to meet all three of them. 🙂

Book one is called Shattered Justice, and it focuses on the story of Avidan, aka Deputy Sheriff Dan. Dan is the law in a small town that has its share of big problems. He faces more than most of us could deal with, and it shatters his sense of justice. In a “Job-like” storyline, we watch Dan go through his trials in very human ways as he struggles to find the help he knows God promises his children. As readers, we get to see the people God sows into Dan’s life to give him strength to face each new trial and an uncertain future, and we get to watch Dan discover why these people are there as he needs them.

I’m struggling to figure out what to tell that won’t be considered spoilers, though knowing things ahead of time does not hinder the reading. I read the books out of order since book two, “Kaleidoscope Eyes,” was the first one recommended to me, and I read it before realizing it was part of a series. The affect it had on my reading of book one was simply that I was prepared to cry at any moment because I knew bad things were going to happen, but the story still surprised me with just how they happened.

I want to just say, “Trust me, this book and series is worth reading,” but I know people want reasons for that, so I’ll just add that if you have ever experienced struggles that seemed impossible to get through, read this great piece of fiction with realistic events and emotions to find hope. By the time you get to the end of Dan’s struggles to come back from blaming and rejecting God, you will see how, even in the face of tragedy, God is just.

May 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Church Camp


Church Campground by Flickr User Jimmy Wayne, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Church Campground by Flickr User Jimmy Wayne, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’ve never been much into camping, myself, but I suppose if home means camping, being asked to camp around the church is not quite the big deal it would be to me. I have gone to church camp a couple times, and it wasn’t too bad because of having a cabin, but I still prefer my own home and bed.

In today’s reading from Numbers 1:20 through Numbers 1:54, we’ll read about a whole group of people that God wanted to set up a church camp for Him. The portion starts out with talking about the census that God had just asked the leaders to do in order to find suitable soldiers for His service. The numbers are pretty impressive for a group of people forming an entire community in the middle of the desert. You can read the whole list by clicking above, but the total comes out to 603,550 men who were twenty years or older and fit more military service. That doesn’t include the women and children, or any disabled people.

But the part that got my attention came after the counting. The list of men is divided by tribes, and we see that the tribe of Levi is missing. That tribe is reserved for all the work necessary to keep the tabernacle operational and in a holy state. The Levites are in charge of everything associated with the tabernacle, and God even says that if anyone else tries to involve themselves in it, they will be put to death. God commands that the Levites camp around the tabernacle, so that no anger will come upon the community of Israel.

The reason I took note of that last part is in comparing it to the modern church. There are many who claim to be “called” to work for God, but without the connection to a bloodline as they had back in the Old Testament, how do you actually know? I read that part about putting to death any non-Levites who try to involve themselves, and I wondered if there is any correlation to those now who camp out in church leadership without an invitation from God. What risk does a person take if he calls himself a prophet, or she calls herself a prophetess, and they have not truly been called to that position?

I love being used of God for His work, be it as a foot soldier on a small mission, or in ways that can influence many lives. My sister and I just talked about the great feeling of being used even as a link in a chain of events that can lead a soul to Christ. That’s why I created my website at http://www.41soul.com to focus on the idea of being used by God even if it was only for the purpose of saving one soul. I think, whether we are called to soldiers in the community (body of Christ), or to be in leadership positions over the community, we must take heed to do all we do in total obedience to the leading of The Holy Spirit, and if we are called to devote our entire lives to “camping in the church,” we must remember it is to bring joy to the community–and to protect the community, not to have authority over the community or to receive praise from them. God is the only authority, and He is the only one that deserves praise.

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not One is Forgotten


Well, if you thought yesterday’s reading was short, wait until you see today’s. It’s a total of only seven verses from Genesis 25:12 through Genesis 25:18. It covers a brief genealogy of Ishmael, and it tells us that he had twelve sons who were tribal rulers. But the unspoken word in this story is that, like Abraham’s sons by Keturah, no one is forgotten. Remember that Ishmael was the boy who twice was left to die when his mother Hagar was sent out by Sarah and thought she had no hope in the desert. But out of hopelessness came hope. Hagar blessed Yahveh as a God who hears and as a God who sees. And when she acknowledged Him, He blessed her and gave her promises about her son and his future. And here we see the beginnings of those promises coming to pass.

It goes on to say that Ishmael lived 137 years. And I’m stating that to compare with the fact that he almost died twice in his youth, but also to say something else. If he were alive today, that would be a lot of chances to write a novel through National Novel Writer’s Month aka NaNoWriMo. For me, this is only my sixth time of writing a NaNo novel. But every time I have worked on one, it has been worth every ounce of effort and time. There is something about knowing a huge chunk of the world is pushing for the same goals and keeping the world of muses busier than ever. And it’s a great way to just write and create without boundaries and anxiety because you’re not as worried about the outcome as you are the process.

I’ll close with the update that I have written 2552 words today on my novel about a girl named Cameo and her muse named Kalida. The title right now is “A Muse in Mourning,” and it’s already going places I did not plan, so I’m hoping it will be a base draft for something more promising after editing. If you are registered at the NaNo site, be sure to look me up at http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/crystal-writer and add me to your buddy list. If you are a Christian who writes for NaNo, request to join our Christian Wrimos on Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChristianWrimos/ and join us for some chat and maybe a word war or two. Oh yeah, and if you would like to share your NaNo activities with friends, Also, I have a word count shirt and a “Cooking up a Novel” apron at Zazzle that you can purchase if so inclined. I made everything there more for fun, but I get sales every now and again, and it’s nice when that happens. 🙂

Apron:

http://www.zazzle.com/simple_nano_novel_apron-154200723324813416?rf=238233668200987035

T-Shirt

http://www.zazzle.com/nano_word_count_shirt-235435977536038317?rf=238233668200987035

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, NaNoWriMo, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary, Zazzle | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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