Monday, March 15, 2021

Throwing stones at giants

A friend recently shared something that was very meaningful, which triggered some musings on my part:

(Excerpted from a blog by Susie Larson...

God has wired you uniquely for a distinct purpose. He's graced you with gifts to offer to a world in need. He's writing a story with your life, and it fits you perfectly. Not every battle is yours to fight, and not every wrong is yours to right. Yours is not to be understood but to understand. It's not to win the favor of man; it's to walk in the favor of God. Jesus wants you to trust Him, and that's enough. His assignment is why you're here. Sometimes you'll feel in over your head, and other times you'll feel sure you're not doing enough. But your mission is not up to you. Nor is it up to the masses. Your calling originated in the heart of God and will be completed by the hand of God.

Which prompted my reply:

Interesting that she would talk about being "graced with gifts." We talked about this very thing over breakfast yesterday. 

DH was talking about the pastor's recent sermon (David and Goliath) and he further reflected about how, throughout the Bible, different people were anointed for specific tasks... but people today don't think they have been anointed. Worse still, they doubt that they have been "gifted" to do much of anything for the Kingdom. I came to the conclusion that people today shy away from the term "anointed" because it can have a religious connotation, or they don't believe that they have been given certain gifts to accomplish what God has for them because we make the mistake of thinking God wants us to take out Goliaths.
As DH pointed out, God anointed Betsal'el in Exodus 31 to do metalwork and "all manner of workmanship"... not to take out Goliath but to GLORIFY GOD with the skills God gave him.

To be sure, there have been and will always continue to be those people or experiences that are the equivalent of 'Goliaths' in our lives, but if God is for us, who can be against us? When the enemy comes at us with his agenda of abortion, pornography, racism, or confusion and disbelief about who God Created us to be (think gender dysphoria and homosexuality), are we saying with David, "... 'You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the Name of יהוה of hosts, the Elohim of the armies of Yisra’ĕl, whom you have reproached.'?

I love (LOVE!) that Susie goes on to say, 'It's not to win the favor of man; it's to walk in the favor of God. Jesus wants you to trust Him, and that's enough. His assignment is why you're here...'

In the current whirlwind of cancel culture and COVID fear, and mask/vaccine shaming, and Antifa riots and... and... and... fill in the blank of the many ways the enemy has tried to shift our focus from our calling and anointing, it's not hard to know what God has anointed us to: What resonates with us when we look around and see the lies of the enemy taking ground in the lives of those around us? THAT is what He has anointed us to do. 
  • Speak the truth in love, 
  • serve one another with gladness, 
  • feed the poor, 
  • teach little children The Way, 
  • lift each other up. 

"...your mission is not up to you. Nor is it up to the masses. Your calling originated in the heart of God and will be completed by the hand of God."

I believe it. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Not So Woke

I listened to an interesting interview between an Australian and an Englishman, discussing (among other things) critical race theory, thoughts about re-writing history and blaming everything on "white privilege" and colonialism:

"The “Woke” religion has superseded all other things and can therefore judge history in whichever way it chooses to."

"Calling everyone a 'racist' who disagrees with you."

It got me wondering why we are so fixated on defining people by something so superficial as the amount of melanin in their skin instead of their faith or integrity or courage or love or commitment to family.

Then I trolled through the posts on Blexit's Instagram feed to get the perspective of those who are not white, just to see if my point of view was so out of bounds:

And now I'm thinking this whole "woke" movement and focus on BLM is just one more ploy to divide and conquer our nation.

Each one of us bears the responsibility - we can do better than this.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

COVID Musings (Update)

This is an update of my previous musings about the whole pandemic paranoia. Other, much more scholarly and/or scientific articles and blogs have been written over the past several months. Like this one.

But, harking back to my original comments in March when this whole shutdown began, I quoted CDC when I said:

CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.

So... let's just take a peek at what the current COVID stats are and see how they compare. (I copied and pasted from CDC's actual website.)

I'm not sure this is the time or place (nor do I have the data or credentials) to comment on the blatant padding of statistics that we are all well aware of. (We've all seen or heard about the memes...)

We've also read or heard about doctors reporting on the falsification of COVID statistics at various hospitals and care facilities. No one is going to ever be able to give an honest report of how many people actually died from COVID, compared to how many deaths were attributed to COVID. So, while 249k deaths is markedly higher than the "norm" of 12-16k deaths attributed to influenza each year, I think I am safe if saying that: 

  • YES, there is a pandemic. (Because by definition, a 'pandemic' is a disease that is prevalent over a whole country or the world)
  • YES, the COVID virus has been responsible for the deaths of many people (possibly .02% of those who have actually contracted the virus)
  • YES, some people are at higher risk than others of dying from the virus.
  • YES, washing our hands and refraining from hugging and smooching during 'flu season is a smart idea.
  • YES, staying home from work (or church or the store, etc.) is to be recommended when you are not well.
But, I think I am also safe in saying that certain government officials have grossly overstepped their authority in dictating (I do not use that world lightly) how we live our lives in where we go or what we do. As if we are a bunch of 5-year-olds who don't have enough sense to cover our mouths when we sneeze.

I still believe that most people have enough common sense (and hopefully, enough common decency) to sequester or self-quarantine if they are sick. Or to self-isolate if they are in fact in danger due to underlying conditions of being at higher risk. 

I am just fed up with Nanny State officials assuming that none of us have brains or care about our fellow human being. And I am way beyond fed up with the notion that healthy people cannot be in charge of their own bodies. 

I wonder how the suicide rate this year compares to a normal year... maybe that is something to consider as well. Because frankly, this isolation from family and friends is doing far more damage to our society than anything I have seen in a long time.

Or maybe that was the idea all along?

Thursday, November 12, 2020

White is not a race: Or Why I Write “Human” on my Census Questionnaire

I have long been troubled with the question we find everywhere on various forms such as medical, DMV, census, asking us to label ourselves as White, Black, Hispanic, Asian… etc. Finally, about 30 years ago, I decided that I was tired of being forced into an artificial identity box and made the (to me) bold and audacious choice to self-identity as HUMAN from that point on.

I was sure the census police were going to come looking for me and throw me into some kind of cultural orientation re-training camp, but shockingly, nothing happened. No one batted an eye.

In retrospect, had the question asked me to identify my heritage or ethnicity, I probably would not have cared one whit. But the question: What is your RACE, followed by the listing of colors Black or White is really what set me off.

White is not a race. Black is not a race. Neither are Asian or Hispanic races. We’ve all seen the PassItOn billboard quoting Garth Brooks. We are all one race: humankind.

The original basis for my decision was purely Biblical: Genesis 3:20 states that Eve “was the mother of all living.” Revelation 7:9 describes the people of the earth as “nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” ... no mention anywhere as to the color of a person’s skin. The closest they even get to the concept of ethnicity would be “tribes.”

And will someone please show me how I am supposed to fit into the 16 allotted spaces the fact that I am Norwegian, Swedish, German, French, Finnish, Irish, Spanish, Polish, Austrian, Portuguese, Scottish and English? And those are just the tribes with which I can identify. Throw the monkey wrench of untraceable adoptions a few generations back, and who knows the tribes from which I hail.

Frankly, if you live in the United States, or the Western hemisphere for that matter, unless you just stepped off the boat within the last generation, what tribe does anyone fall under? A simple DNA spit test is going to reveal that even if you think you are 100% Italian (or Greek or Egyptian, etc.) chances are you are going to be a mixture of cultures. Let’s face it, invasions have been taking place all over the globe for millennia.

And lest you are tempted to disagree with me and call me racist, let’s hear what people who happen to be of color have to say on the topic:

Thoughts by Morgan Freeman on racism in a 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace:
FREEMAN: …I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
WALLACE: How are we going to get rid of racism until …?
FREEMAN: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?

Martin Luther King in his famous “I have a dream” speech:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

The idea that race is nothing more than an artificial social construct is not a new idea. More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. DuBois (himself a person of color) was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of "white" and "black" as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.

In an article published February 4, 2016 in the journal Science, four scholars say racial categories are weak proxies for genetic diversity and need to be phased out… "It's a concept we think is too crude to provide useful information, it's a concept that has social meaning that interferes in the scientific understanding of human genetic diversity and it's a concept that we are not the first to call upon moving away from," said Michael Yudell, a professor of public health at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

I can testify from personal experience that it doesn't matter what color your skin is: if you are raised in a different culture you are going to have a different outlook on just about everything when you compare yourself to someone else with the same skin tones who was raised elsewhere. Period. It's not about your skin, folks.
Apparently, I was not anywhere near as bold and audacious as I originally believed, which is completely fine with me. I’d never want to be stuck in a box anyway.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Keeping Some Perspective

Every morning, I'm hopeful to see something different, but until we at least get some rain, I fear we will have more of the same. We are thankful that we have an air purifier and not much requiring us to be outside.

It was sad, though, to check the update and learn the confirmed death toll has been raised to 12. What we formerly called The Bear Fire, now referred to as “The West Zone of the North Complex” has burned 72,500 acres with 7% containment. The larger North Complex has burned 252,313 acres at 21% contained across multiple counties.

I’m not sure that living in another state is necessarily the answer. The latest statistics I can find for Hurricane Laura in the Gulf States put the fatalities at 14 and estimates up to $12 Billion in damages. Last year, flooding in the Midwest caused upwards of $1.3 Billion in damages in Iowa and Nebraska, with 3/4 of the state of Nebraska being declared a disaster area, and with 3 deaths. And that’s just a few of the recent natural disasters in the continental US.

Earthquakes, tornadoes, cyclones, volcanoes, famine around the globe means that there is really no place on Earth that is exempt from what the Bible refers to as “the Earth groaning.”

Not to be a pessimist here, I prefer to think I’m a realist. But it helps me keep in perspective that we are not the only place experiencing suffering. It doesn’t make the suffering less real, but it certainly helps me adjust my focus away from myself.

*cross posted from my photo blog

Thursday, September 10, 2020

44084 :: States Aflame

It could be tempting to default to complaining about the smell of smoke in the air and ash covering every surface. But when I think of the people who are evacuated or even have lost their homes, it is almost like a slap in the face.

There are so many directions my mind goes in these situations. Part of me is angry and would love to see domestic terrorists who are starting so many of these fires tried for treason and yes, even put in front of a firing squad. In my mind, they deserve no less.

Another part of me ponders the enormous loss of property and life and I think of how we bring nothing into this world and we take nothing out of it. Having lost several friends and family (not fire related) in the last month, I am reminded again of just how transitory this life is. That allows me to adjust my focus and say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

So, wearing a mask and hosing off the patio and car seems like a drop in the bucket.

Cross posted from my daily photo project 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

What is a "Torah Observant Believer"?

-adapted from Katie Hirn at Hirn Homeschoolers *

I think the easiest way to explain what a Torah observant Believer is to define each of the words in the name:

Believer is a follower/believer in Yeshua as the Messiah.  Yeshua (often called Jesus in mainstream Christianity) was a man who lived, died, and rose from the dead over 2000 years ago.  The story of his birth, life, death, and resurrection is told in the Bible.  The first four books of the New Testament are called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and they are the story of Yeshua’s life as told by four different men who were eye-witnesses to his life and ministry.  Believers are people who believe that this man, Yeshua was the promised Messiah of the God of Israel, YHVH.

A believer is someone who accepts that Yeshua is the promised Messiah (Savior), and that He lived a sinless life and died and rose again to prove that He conquered sin and death.  Sin is anything we think, say, or do that deviates from God’s Instructions on how to live a life set apart to Him which effectively separates us from fellowship or a relationship with God.  A believer knows that through the sacrificial death of Yeshua, our sins were paid for.  A believer knows that all people are sinners and can only be saved from the penalty of death, which is eternal separation from God, through the sacrificial blood of Yeshua.  A believer is someone who, once they admit they are a sinner and accepts the gift of God’s gracious forgiveness, then commits to live their life to glorify Yeshua.  A true believer turns from their life of sin to a life of obedience to YHVH (the name of God in the Bible).

The Torah is the name of the first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  The word Torah means “law, instruction, teaching, Word, writings, and/or commands.”  The first five books of the Bible are made up of all the instructions YHVH God gave to His people, the Israelites (which also included a "mixed multitude" of non-Israelite followers of YHVH.)  These instructions were given to them to bless them, benefit them, and guide them in the Way of YHVH.

The word Observant can mean different things, but in this situation it is best defined as “to see or recognize something as beneficial and blessed and set apart by YHVH, and therefore to keep that thing set apart in one’s life and home.”

A Torah Observant believer therefore is a believer and follower of Yeshua Messiah, who believes that the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, have blessing, beneficial, and sacred instructions for life, and therefore they apply those instructions to their own life and homes as best they can in this day and culture.  There are only four obvious differences between most evangelical Christians and most Torah Observant believers. 

1.  Most Torah observant believers keep Saturday, the Sabbath day, set apart and often worship on this day instead of Sunday, and they try not to work or cause others to work on it. 

2.  Most Torah Observant believers celebrate the Biblical feasts for their holidays, as found in Leviticus 23.  These are often referred to as “Jewish holidays”, when in reality Scripture calls them “The Lord’s Appointed Festivals.”

3.  Most Torah observant Christians don’t eat pork or shellfish or any of the other unclean animals listed in Leviticus 11

4.  Lastly, many Torah Observant believers wear tzitzit on their clothes as reminder to walk in the Ways of  YHVH, as commanded in Numbers 15 – much like a married person wears a wedding band as a symbol of their marriage.

None of these things is required for salvation: they are how we walk out our beliefs, how we respond to YHVH and His gift of salvation through our Messiah, Yeshua.

A Torah observant believer is a person who knows that they are a sinner saved by the gracious love of the Savior (Messiah) Yeshua, through His sacrificial death.  They are a believer who knows they do not deserve the forgiveness of a Savior.  They love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and choose to walk out their faith in accordance to the Instructions YHVH has revealed in the Torah every day, until their Lord and Savior returns.

* I have edited and inserted a few of my own comments into Katie's original post.