Crystal Writes A Blog

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The Frog and The Scorpion


The Frog and The Scorpion by Flickr User José António Fundo, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Frog and The Scorpion by Flickr User José António Fundo, 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’s an old fable about a scorpion who asks a frog if the frog would carry him across a river. The frog is wise enough to know the deadly effect of a scorpion’s sting, so he tells the scorpion he won’t carry him. But the scorpion tries to reason with the frog by reminding him that if he stings him while they are in the water, both will die. The frog is convinced and lets the scorpion climb onto his back while he swims across. But just as they are halfway across, the scorpion breaks his word and stings the frog. The frog immediately feels the paralysis start to set in, and he begins to sink. Just before he goes under, he asks the scorpion why he would do something like that when it would kill them both. The scorpion’s dying declaration was simply this: It’s in my nature.

In today’s reading from Numbers 31:13 through Numbers 31:24, we have the men and leaders coming back from war with the Midianites and bringing the prisoners and the spoils to Moses and Eleazar. As the commanders came in from the battlefield, Moses got angry with them because of the women he saw with them who were being held as prisoners of war. He told them they should have killed the women because they were the ones that, because of Balaam’s suggestions, were tempting the children of Israel and causing them to transgress God’s law. Moses then instructed the leaders to kill every male plus every female who had slept with a man. They could keep the young virgins alive.

Moses then told the men to pitch their tents outside the camp, so they could complete all necessary cleansing rituals. They would have to stay outside the camp for seven days, and then they were to purify themselves on the 3rd and 7th days. Because of their proximity to corpses, it was also required for them to purify every garment, whether made of skin or goat’s hair, and to purify all wood. In addition, even though gold, silver, brass, and other metals had already been purified by fire, because they were spoils from the enemy, Moses told them to purify them under water. Anything that could pass through fire would be put through fire and water, and anything that could not pass through fire needed to be cleansed with water. After seven days, the soldiers were to wash their clothes and be clean, so they could enter back into the camp.

Sometimes, seeing people killed even if they’re the enemy feels harsh. It’s an especially harsh feeling when we stop to think of God’s grace–and of Yeshua’s words to love our enemies. But remember, these instructions were given even after the commandment that said “Thou shalt not kill,” so as it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time to kill. Are there people who refuse to discard their old nature and will continue to attack and sting even to their own detriment? Ask a suicide bomber. Even when someone seems like an innocent woman or child, if they are from the enemy’s camp, they are not friends, and if we do not handle the battle correctly, we will become casualties of war.

Remember these things when you fight battles in the spirit realm as well. We know, as Scripture says, that our weapons are not carnal because most of our battles are not in the flesh. That said, the enemy will try to convince you to fall for some kind of trickery in an effort to destroy your soul, and you have to arm yourself with wisdom and preparation, so you won’t give in and end up paralyzed as you press your way to the other side. Don’t fall for sin just because it looks pretty or innocent, and always remember that you are a soldier for God. The good thing about this fight, however, is that both the battles and the weapons belong to The Lord, and the end of the war promises victory.

As for the physical battles in this life, most of us won’t have to fight them, but we should have compassion and love for those who do. God will lead those who need to fight for us as He would have them to fight, and the rest of us can support and uplift them. If you know a soldier who fights for the good, pray for him or her, and ask God to protect that soldier from attacks of our enemies. If you don’t know any soldiers, pray for all of our U.S. troops. Also, pray for the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) to prosper against all advancement of their enemies and the weapons of their enemies. Pray that only those in the perfect will of Yahveh Almighty will prevail.

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

When War is Your Only Option


War and Peace by Flickr User Jayel Aheram, CC License = Attribution

War and Peace by Flickr User Jayel Aheram, 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.

I had a wonderful day at the conference, and there was so much to learn from so many people that are willing to share because they value this calling from God to write as He leads. Liz Curtis Higgs, our keynote speaker, is as much entertaining as instructive, and she is humble enough to tell on herself in humorous ways that make us laugh with her.

But, as much fun as training can be, in the real field of life, the training is not just an exercise but is often real war, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. Of course, we all want peace, and we all want life to be comfortable, but we also want to stay young forever while gaining in the wisdom and authority that comes with age and not gaining in the pains and responsibilities. But that’s not reality anymore than the idea that all things will be at peace just because we want them to be.

In today’s reading from Numbers 21:21 through Numbers 22:1, we finish out our week and our 7th section of the week’s portion with another attempt on the part of Israel to pass through a land owned by a rival king. Israel does the right thing by sending a request to the king and promising to stay on The King’s Highway without entering into any of the fields or vineyards of the city or kingdom.

Most would say that Israel was being a peacemaker, but Sihon, king of the Amorites, didn’t care. He mustered all his people, and they went out to fight against Israel. Of course, because God is on the side of Israel, they defeated the Amorites by a force of arms and took control of all his land up to the river near the people of Amon. Israel did not fight the well-defended territory of the Ammonites but stayed in Heshbon and the cities they defeated.

While Israel was staying in the land of the Amorites, Moses sent men to recon Jazer, and they captured its towns and defeated the Amorites that lived there. Then they turned and went along the road to Bashan where Og, the king of Bashan, came out against them with all his people. God told Moses not to be afraid and said he had given them to Israel just as He had given them Sichon, so they defeated all of them until no one was left alive and took control of that land as well. They stopped to camp in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan River, opposite Jericho, and that’s where the portion ends.

When I saw the mention of the Jordan River, I immediately thought of all the references we give in Christianity where death is compared to crossing “the chilly Jordan.” Somehow, that made me realize that God was giving all these life-giving victories to a people who would not even enter into The Promised Land. So, other than needing someone to raise the next generation who would enter, God didn’t necessarily need these people and could have let them die in all these battles. But He did not let them die because they were still His people, and He still loved them.

I think of all the times I am certain I have disappointed God, but He has delivered me in spite of myself. Just today, someone prayed with me about my uncertainties in things like writing, reading, singing, etc., and the part that meant the most was the reminder that if I have chosen to serve God, all my steps are ordered of Him–even in those places where I am uncomfortable. Israel dealt with all the stuff we do these days: discomfort, hopelessness, depression, and war in response to their call for peace. God continued to order the steps of Israel and give them victory in spite of themselves. Even when war is our only option, if God is our only Captain, we can face the enemy with confidence that He is ordering our steps and giving us victory.

June 20, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ready or Not (Ready)


Ready or Not by Flickr User Greg Westfall, CC License = Attribution

Ready or Not by Flickr User Greg Westfall, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream on Flickr.

So, if you’re one of those who stays up late, you might be wondering why you didn’t see the blog before midnight. First, I was out at a wonderful planning meeting for the next year in our Christian writer’s group, Louisville Christian Writers. Well, the meeting didn’t go that long, but it was followed by the kind of fellowship that makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t get how great it is to be a Christian. But then, it’s those times when we visit with friends who cherish the presence of God the way we do that help us get through those times that make it a bit harder to be a Christian.

Anyway, I’m going to change the time of this to show a post by 11:59pm on January 11th, just so it will archive correctly. But so it doesn’t look like a lie, here’s my confession. After getting home at 5 til midnight, I forgot for about 20 minutes. Then I was like “EEK, I forgot!” and quickly plugged in and started my laptop only to have it get part way and refuse to totally boot about three times. I finally got it going, and since then I have struggled with the picture to go with it. I wanted to use something about being battle ready, but no pics or videos really fit what today’s reading from Exodus 13:17 through Exodus 14:8 was really saying.

As our newest portion begins (Parashah 16, Hebrew B’shallach meaning After he had let go), God is leading the newly delivered Israelites away from the land of the Philistines because He thinks they may see war and turn around to go back to Egypt. Combining this with a few verses later where the Scripture says the people of Israel went up from Egypt fully armed, and then the last verse of today’s reading that says they went out boldly, I was thinking, “Boy, there are a lot of messages just in this.” But the one that really strikes me is that when God saves and delivers us, He gives us a full armor and His Spirit gives us the tools we need for boldness. Many people even start out going boldly to others to share what they have gained and from what they’ve been set free. Still, when we see things get tough, signs of war like God knew the Israelites would see in the land of the Philistines, do we consider going back into bondage just so we won’t have to fight?

As the reading progresses, we have Moses keeping his promise to carry the bones of Joseph, and we are told of the pillars of cloud and fire that follow Israel by day and by night to guide and protect them. And then God tells Israel to repent–literally. He tells them to turn around and backtrack, to go the opposite way they were traveling. But God does it for a purpose. He wants Pharaoh to think the children of Israel are lost and wandering in the desert so Pharaoh will come after them. And He plans to use that against Pharaoh and his armies to show Egypt that He, Yahveh, is truly the Lord.

Pharaoh fell for the trap and began to question why they were so stupid as to let their slaves go. Actually, it says Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart. Yeah, I guess as soon as they had to make their own cup of coffee, they were reconsidering the loss of all those obedient and subservient people. So Pharaoh prepared 600 of his chariots and his people plus all the other chariots in Egypt along with their commanders. And God made Pharaoh hard-hearted so he pursued Israel.

And so we come to an end with Israel leaving Egypt boldly but God knowing their hearts might shrink if they see war, so we can’t be sure if they were ready. And then we see Pharaoh following after Israel, also boldly, but for stupid reasons. And we know Pharaoh isn’t ready for what is to come, but he doesn’t know that yet. Ready or not, God’s got a plan, and He’s got a place within it for whosoever will make themselves ready to follow Him. Will that be you?

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

Ease on Down the Road


Red Dirt Road--CC License

Looking down a red dirt road,
CC image by Yeweny at Flickr
Click image to visit Flickr page

It wasn’t that many months ago that I had to make a major move after nearly 19 years of living in the same place. Many years ago, and without nearly as much stuff, I remember thinking what so many of us think, I never want to go through this again. Moving is just plain difficult. Well, imagine what it would have been like way back in Old Testament Bible times when moving may not have meant moving as much stuff as we deal with now, but it did mean moving lots of people (family, servants, etc.), and lots of animals. Plus, it meant huge changes to cultures and traditions in the places you wanted to set up house. And many of those we read about had to move many times over. Today’s short reading from Genesis 26:13 through Genesis 26:22 tells of just such a situation.

From the end of yesterday’s reading and into the beginning of today’s reading, we are told that God blessed and prospered Isaac more and more until he became quite rich. And then we find out that the Philistines began to envy him. They went through the land and put dirt in all the wells his father Abraham dug while he was living. So Isaac, trying not to fight, dug new wells. The first one he dug, God revealed a natural spring, so the envious Philistines claimed it as their own.

Okay, to tell you the truth, I’m getting a bit miffed with these guys now. It doesn’t seem right that Isaac is just doing what is right in God’s eyes and receiving a just reward as a result, but these people seem bent on making his life miserable instead. I mean, why couldn’t they have befriended him and shared in his blessings? That seems like common sense to me, but unfortunately, common sense isn’t all that common, and I guess it never has been. And Isaac seemed to have a better attitude than I think most of us would these days. Instead of fighting, he just dug another well.

As we read on, we find that every time Isaac moved down the road and dug another well, these envious men started a fight over it and said it was their well. They didn’t want him to have what had already been dug (meaning they even buried their own blessings by filling in the wells), and then they fought over every new well he dug. At least as the well-digger, he had the right to name the wells, so he named them words that meant fighting and quarreling. Finally, though, he moved again, and this time he dug a well that no one fought over. He named it “Rehoboth” meaning room or wide open spaces and said, “Now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper.” The great attitude that Isaac had made me think of the title for this post which comes from the song of the same name. While I haven’t yet seen The Wiz, I have always liked the song. One line in it says, “Don’t you carry nothin’ that might be a load, come on and ease on down, ease on down the road.” I think Isaac did well at not carrying argument, resentment, or his own envy against these men who had set themselves up as his enemies.

One final thought: Maybe our land here in the United States was settled in a similar way. Men got tired of quarreling, so they set off for a new land where they could prosper. They still had to fight for it, whether fighting the original inhabitants, fighting those who wanted them back under their rule, or fighting the land and weather and illness. But they did make it a prosperous place, and they gave God praise for it. Now, we have envious people that want to “stop up our wells” and fight over what we claim through our original Constitution. Many have walked away and just gathered in states with like-minded folks who believe in the same history, but the envious have pushed to take over and take away our rights now in almost every part of our land. Sadly, we are probably going to have to fight another war within our own borders or ease on down the road and hope for another place to build a dream while the ungrateful destroy what our founding fathers built. But we must pray and ask God whether He wants us to fight or move. And when we get His answer, it might just be to wait because He has plans to ease us down the road into the New Heaven and New Earth where we will prosper and where we’ll never have to move again.

BTW, just to keep stepping stones on my daily word counts, my NaNo total for day #4 is 9487.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Battle in Clay


I know some things may seem to just be things, but I am one of those who believes that everything and everyone has a purpose. In today’s reading from Genesis 14, verses 1 through 20, we find a battle among kings. Five kings to four kings to be exact. And if you want to read all their names and such, just click the link since The Complete Jewish Bible has them listed mostly phonetically. Anyway, in this battle of kings, they are fighting in a valley filled with clay pits where many fall in.

When I read of clay in the Scriptures, I always think of the flesh. So, here are a bunch of kings (people with authority–some to do good and some to do evil) fighting not to fall into clay pits (flesh). And I don’t think it’s just chance that this valley is near the Dead Sea. The evil kings have kidnapped Lot, the nephew of Abram who we introduced in yesterday’s reading. Abram calls on those born and trained in his own household to go out to battle with him and rescue that which belongs to him (Lot) who is likely in the valley of pits himself. They succeed and bring back Lot, his possessions, and all the women and children that were taken with him.

Not only is this a battle with which most who serve God and reject the flesh are acquainted, it ends with the kind of victory most of us seek. They get help from like-minded soldiers, and they take back what the enemy has stolen. When it is all said and done, Abram goes to meet the King of Salem (later called Jerusalem), aka King of Peace, and the King, Melchizedek, blesses him. When we get victories over the flesh, we praise God for His mercy and deliverance, and since Melchizedek was a high priest for God, it was a similar action. As part of their meeting, they shared bread and wine, and at the close, Abram gave the first recorded tithe (tenth) I’ve read about.

So next time you feel like you are in a valley of pits, gather some prayer warriors and fight to win. Scripture tells us that we have more who stand on our side than we have who stand against us. It also says that He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world. We can win in our battles if we open our eyes and take care not to fall into the pits of flesh. Oh, and when we win, we can offer our praises to Christ our King of Peace.

And here’s a nice chorus about the subject from the song, He Brought Me Out of the Miry Clay

He brought me out of the miry clay,
He set my feet on the Rock to stay;
He puts a song in my soul today,
A song of praise, hallelujah!

Also, if you’d like to read some interesting information about the connection between Melchizedek and Jesus, check out an article from Hebrew for Christians where you can also find more commentary on this Torah portion.

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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