Crystal Writes A Blog

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How to Care for a (Pet) Rock


Pet Rock in Cage by Flickr User Gary Crook, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Pet Rock in Cage by Flickr User Gary Crook, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s photo stream at Flickr.

Depending on your age, you might remember when everyone just HAD to own a pet rock. It came in its own little cardboard carrier, complete with a layer of straw for the comfort of your rock. There were no googly eyes on it, but your purchase included an entire booklet with all you could ever want to know about the care and feeding of a pet rock. It took me a while, but I found an interesting article with a picture of a real pet rock, info on the amazing marketing and profits, and even the full text of the companion booklet at http://wellingtonmarketingexperts.com/creative-marketing-for-the-pet-rock/

In today’s reading from Exodus 17:1 through Exodus 17:16 (the end of the chapter), we will see even more things you can do with a pet rock. The people were traveling through the desert and had no water to drink. They begin to grumble against Moses, demanding that he give them water. He asks why they are testing God and picking fights with him, and they just accuse him even more of bringing them to the desert so their children and livestock can die of thirst.

Now, here’s where rocks first come in. If you’re among the grumblers of Israel, you threaten to stone your leader to death. If you’re Moses, when the people cry out for thirst, you obey God and meet Him where He will be standing before you on a big rock in Horeb. And then, as directed, you strike the rock. If you’re Yahveh, you stand on the rock in front of Moses, and then, when he strikes it with his staff, you make water pour out of it for the people to drink. God then names the place both Massah, meaning “testing,” and Meribah, meaning “quarreling” or “contention” because of the quarreling of the people as they tested God by asking if He was with them or not.

And then our story switches to an enemy by the name of Amalek. He starts a fight with Israel at Refidim, and Moses tells Joshua to pick some men to go out and fight him. In the meantime, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climb a mountain to overlook the battle. When Moses raises the staff of God in his hand, Joshua and the soldiers have victory. But when Moses’ hands get weak, and he begins to drop his arms and the staff down, Joshua and the soldiers begin to lose. Now, we see another rock as Aaron and Hur pull one under Moses for him to sit on while they lift his hands in the air until Israel has complete victory over Amalek.

At the end of the battle, God tells Moses to write in a book and record all the events, so that they would be remembered. He then instructs him to share it with Joshua, so I’m guessing He was talking about the part Joshua could not see–the part that showed it was God who won the battle by the uplifted staff. God loves to show His power, and I believe He loves to show how He uses men to work with Him and with each other to bring about victory. This way, they can also trust the rest of God’s words that He will completely blot out Amalek from under the heavens., and that He will fight them from generation to generation because Amalek dared to set himself against the throne of God.

At this, Moses builds an altar to God (likely using yet another rock or two or three), and he names it Adonai Nissi meaning “God is my banner/miracle.” He declares that because Amalek dared to set himself against the throne of God. God will fight Amalek from generation to generation. And we can also claim God as our banner and miracle as we claim His promise to fight our enemies when they raise themselves up against the throne of God by attacking His children. We have Him to run to as our Rock of Salvation now and forevermore.

January 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delivered to Deliver


Moses-Aic by Flickr user Brionv CC License = Attribution, Share Alike

Moses-Aic by Flickr user Brionv CC License = Attribution, Share Alike
Click image to open in new tab with access to full photo stream.

How many times have we heard the question, “What am I here for?” Do you suppose Moses ever asked the same question? In today’s reading from Exodus 1:18 through Exodus 2:10, the Hebrew midwives who were told to kill the male Hebrew babies use the excuse that the Hebrew women are quick (lively in one translation) and deliver their babies before the midwives are able to arrive. Scripture tells us that God blesses them to be parents of strong children because of their integrity. But Pharaoh decides then that they should just throw the living boy babies in the river.

As our story progresses, we see Moses delivered multiple times. First, he is delivered as a newborn. Then, for three months, he is delivered from being discovered as his mother hides him to keep Pharaoh’s people from killing him. When his mother places him in a basket of reeds and hides him in the river, he is delivered from being alone as his sister, who works as a handmaid for Pharaoh’s daughter, keeps watch over the floating basket. And then he is delivered from the water when Pharaoh’s daughter finds him, and from death when she takes pity on him. He is delivered from being an orphan when his big sister offers to get a Hebrew woman to nurse the infant and goes to get Moses’ own mother for the task. Finally, he is delivered from being raised in ignorance of his true identity by having his mother and sister around to speak the truth to him about his heritage as a Hebrew.

The story has a long way to go before we will see Moses act as a deliverer for his people, but we are told in today’s reading that his lineage comes from the tribe of Levi, and we will learn later that this is the tribe of the priesthood. And what are priests called to do? They help people in becoming delivered from the bondage of sin. So deliverance was in his DNA as well as in his history.

Deliverance is also in our DNA through our salvation and new birth in Yahshua. In 1st Peter 2:9 (NKJV–italics mine) we read, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Just like Moses experienced an abundance of deliverance to become a deliverer, we who have been delivered (saved) from sin through the grace and mercy in the Blood of Christ were also delivered for a purpose. We may not all do the same job, but we all can do whatever we are called to do for the same reason–to help deliver others from an eternity of separation from the presence of their Loving Creator.

December 22, 2013 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

You Can Lead A Camel to Water…


Camel image from Wikimedia Commons

Camels at Giza.
Visit the Wikipedia article on camels for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camel

…but you can’t make the girl give it a drink. Of course, Abraham’s servant knew that, so he prayed and asked the Lord to give him a sign that he was on the right path. Today we read in Genesis 24:10 through 24:26 a short but hopeful jumping off place for the rest of the story about Isaac and Rebekah (called Yitzchak and Rivkah in the Complete Jewish Bible).

The servant makes it to his destination, and he is near the home of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. He’s supposed to pick out a wife from the neighborhood and hope she is family, so he can bring the girl back for Isaac to marry. If it were me, I’d be a bit uncertain too. I mean, he knows that if he doesn’t find the right one, he is released from his obligation, but he also knows and cares for his master’s plan.

And here, I want to talk about signs for a moment. The New Testament tells us that an adulterous and sinful generation seeks after a sign, so I hear a lot of people suggest that God’s people should never seek a sign from God. But I don’t believe that particular text is talking about the kind of sign the servant is requesting in today’s study. His purpose in requesting a sign is to be pleasing to his master and maybe even to God. (The text leaves me a bit uncertain as to if the servant actually served Yahveh Almighty, but he definitely believed and prayed to “his master’s” God.) I think those referred to as adulterous and sinful are those who are looking for some mystical sign before they will give up their sinful ways to follow God. When God’s children ask for a sign to know we are pleasing to Him, it is out of our love for Him and our desire to do well.

Now, back to the servant. He says that when he sees a girl come to the well for water, he will ask her for a drink. He asks for a sign that if she gives him water and then offers to water his camels as well, he will know she is the one for Isaac and that God has shown him favor. When he sees the beautiful and single Rebekah, he starts his plan into action, and she immediately begins the task of providing water for the servant and all his camels. When he asks her whose child she is, she tells him she is the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor, and in this she confirms that God has indeed blessed the servant in his task for his master.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what sign to ask for because we might be concerned we’re asking for something that could happen anyway–like a girl offering to water thirsty camels. But if our hearts are pure in our requests, I believe God loves to show off and confirm His word and His directions to us. There is so much blessing to come out of the future of Isaac and Rebekah, so of course God would confirm His words and the desires of His faithful Abraham. We too have blessed futures that God wants to lead us into if we are willing to follow. And sometimes, if we need a reminder that we’re on the right path, I believe God will give us the confirmation we need to either keep going along the road we’re on or make a turn. May His perfect will be done in all things. Amen!

October 28, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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