Psalm 46

ps46.jpgGreetings!  This Psalm has some famous verses in it that you may want to commit to memory if you haven’t already. 

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah

I love those verses.  When I focus on all God is and all He has done, I realize there is nothing to fear.  But the worries of the world consistently chip away at that, so I need to remind myself of this often.  God will give us strength and He has given us refuge – a place to stay and even hide if we need to. 

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;

God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;

he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8 Come and see the works of the Lord,

the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;

he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,

he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Yes, be still and know that He is God!  I need to do more of that – just being still and reflecting on him and his goodness.  When you are done reading this, please be still for a time and think about God and his message.  He is with believers and can mold and strengthen us to his image.

Death taxes are ghoulish

money2.jpgWhile the estate tax debate is typically framed as a soak-the-rich proposition, I find the whole concept to be immoral. If the government desperately needs those tax revenues it should find them somewhere else. It is simply wrong for the government to profit from the death of anyone, rich or poor.  If actions such as earned income or sales transactions generate taxes, so be it.  But dying should not be such a catalyst.

I like it better when governmental and business entities root for me to stay alive, such as in the case of life insurance. Note that I don’t expect to benefit if the estate tax is eliminated permanently; I just think it is wrong. 

Keep in mind that the rich folks who come out in favor of estate taxes may not be quite as noble as they appear. Some of them buy businesses on the cheap because families must sell them to pay estate taxes.

The “really rich,” whom the government wants to soak, typically find loopholes to avoid paying taxes. The “sort of rich” are the ones paying most of the taxes.

As George Harrison of the Beatles sang in Taxman, “And my advice for those who die . . . Declare the pennies on your eyes.” As a life-long fan of Beatles music, this is one of the few times I agreed with their politics.

Moral schizophrenia

carenet-walk-05-55.jpgIf you haven’t seen the video and story of the boy with autism who got to play in a high school basketball game and proceeded to score 20 points in 3 minutes, you need to watch it. It is truly inspiring.

When I watched this, I couldn’t help but think about the bizarre extremes our society goes to when it comes to the disabled. Consider all the positive and noble things done for the disabled:

  • Handicapped parking spaces, accessibility to buildings, etc.
  • Celebration of their accomplishments in events like the Special Olympics and the story above
  • Countless technological aids to help them use computers and work
  • Fund raisers and ministries to find cures and to provide care and encouragement

Yet what is society’s general attitude towards unborn humans who may be disabled when born? The current climate is that it is OK, and often preferable, to kill them before they are born. For example, abortion occurs roughly 90% of the time in pregnancies where Down Syndrome is diagnosed. Some babies are even aborted for correctable problems like club feet or cleft palates.

Jocylen Elder, former Surgeon General of the U.S. said abortion “has had an important and positive public-health effect” because it reduced “the number of children afflicted with severe defects.” She pointed out that “the number of Down Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower than it would have been without legal abortion.” She meant this as a victory of sorts, but what message does this send to the disabled and their families?

Of course we don’t wish medical problems on anyone. There is always an element of tragedy when they occur. Yet what about all the joy and life lessons they bring? And disabled people are less likely to commit suicide, so they aren’t necessarily less happy. We may rationalize that we are “helping” them, but who are we really trying to help?

Parting thoughts:

  • How long will it be until insurance companies pressure people to abort potentially disabled humans?
  • If autism could be detected in utero as Down Syndrome is, how many fewer autistic people would be with us?
  • I know several people who were encouraged by their doctors to have abortions because problems were suspected. Yet the children in question are alive and healthy!

I wrote about prenatal testing for Down Syndrome and one of our World Vision sponsor children who has it here.

Further reading on how our culture is continuing to warp: A Perfect Child

Numbers 35-36

n35.jpgGreetings!

Towns for the Levites

35     On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns. 3 Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for their cattle, flocks and all their other livestock.

4 “The pasturelands around the towns that you give the Levites will extend out fifteen hundred feet from the town wall. 5 Outside the town, measure three thousand feet on the east side, three thousand on the south side, three thousand on the west and three thousand on the north, with the town in the center. They will have this area as pastureland for the towns.

Cities of Refuge

6 “Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone may flee. In addition, give them forty-two other towns. 7 In all you must give the Levites forty-eight towns, together with their pasturelands. 8 The towns you give the Levites from the land the Israelites possess are to be given in proportion to the inheritance of each tribe: Take many towns from a tribe that has many, but few from one that has few.”

9 Then the Lord said to Moses: 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 11 select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee. 12 They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that a person accused of murder may not die before he stands trial before the assembly. 13 These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge. 14 Give three on this side of the Jordan and three in Canaan as cities of refuge. 15 These six towns will be a place of refuge for Israelites, aliens and any other people living among them, so that anyone who has killed another accidentally can flee there.

Justice and fairness are very important to God.  Our judicial system is based on the Bible, though we are drifting from it.  We would do well to return to its principles, including taking perjury more seriously.

16 “‘If a man strikes someone with an iron object so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. 17 Or if anyone has a stone in his hand that could kill, and he strikes someone so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. 18 Or if anyone has a wooden object in his hand that could kill, and he hits someone so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. 19 The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. 20 If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at him intentionally so that he dies 21 or if in hostility he hits him with his fist so that he dies, that person shall be put to death; he is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.

22 “‘But if without hostility someone suddenly shoves another or throws something at him unintentionally 23 or, without seeing him, drops a stone on him that could kill him, and he dies, then since he was not his enemy and he did not intend to harm him, 24 the assembly must judge between him and the avenger of blood according to these regulations. 25 The assembly must protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send him back to the city of refuge to which he fled. He must stay there until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the holy oil.

26 “‘But if the accused ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which he has fled 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the city, the avenger of blood may kill the accused without being guilty of murder. 28 The accused must stay in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the high priest may he return to his own property.

29 “‘These are to be legal requirements for you throughout the generations to come, wherever you live.

30 “‘Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.

This is an important part of God’s provision of the detah penalty.  Also, perjury was taken very seriously in the Bible, with those guilty of it being given the same punishment as the accused.

31 “‘Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to die. He must surely be put to death.

32 “‘Do not accept a ransom for anyone who has fled to a city of refuge and so allow him to go back and live on his own land before the death of the high priest.

33 “‘Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.’”

Inheritance of Zelphehad’s Daughters

36     The family heads of the clan of Gilead son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, who were from the clans of the descendants of Joseph, came and spoke before Moses and the leaders, the heads of the Israelite families. 2 They said, “When the Lord commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance to the Israelites by lot, he ordered you to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. 3 Now suppose they marry men from other Israelite tribes; then their inheritance will be taken from our ancestral inheritance and added to that of the tribe they marry into. And so part of the inheritance allotted to us will be taken away. 4 When the Year of Jubilee for the Israelites comes, their inheritance will be added to that of the tribe into which they marry, and their property will be taken from the tribal inheritance of our forefathers.”

5 Then at the Lord’s command Moses gave this order to the Israelites: “What the tribe of the descendants of Joseph is saying is right. 6 This is what the Lord commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father. 7 No inheritance in Israel is to pass from tribe to tribe, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal land inherited from his forefathers. 8 Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father’s tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of his fathers. 9 No inheritance may pass from tribe to tribe, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.”

10 So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the Lord commanded Moses. 11 Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side. 12 They married within the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in their father’s clan and tribe.

13 These are the commands and regulations the Lord gave through Moses to the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Numbers contains many lessons and warnings for us.  Paul refers to them in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12: For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Interestingly, I already had 1 Corinthians in the queue to study next after a few Psalms and a chapter of Proverbs.  Please join us for that!

Reruns

as_seen_on_tv.jpgSo I’m going to re-post some of my favorite pieces the next few weeks and take a partial sabbatical.  Some of you old-timers may recognize them, but the newer folks may not.  Many are from my pre-Wordpress days. 

I edited and updated many as I went along.  I didn’t necessarily pick the most popular (or the most un-popular), just ones that I liked the best.

I have a few series in mind but need some time to work on them and will work in some new stuff as well along with Weekly Roundups.

Thanks for being regulars (and visitors), and I hope you keep coming back!

By the way, if you ever do something similar I encourage you to leave your old posts as they are and just copy them to new posts.  Otherwise you’ll mess up any links to the old posts and have to fix them.  Not that I did that or anything.

Numbers 33-34

n33.jpgGreetings!

Stages in Israel’s Journey

33     Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2 At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages:

3 The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians, 4 who were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them; for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods.

5 The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Succoth.

6 They left Succoth and camped at Etham, on the edge of the desert.

7 They left Etham, turned back to Pi Hahiroth, to the east of Baal Zephon, and camped near Migdol.

8 They left Pi Hahiroth and passed through the sea into the desert, and when they had traveled for three days in the Desert of Etham, they camped at Marah.

9 They left Marah and went to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there.

10 They left Elim and camped by the Red Sea.

11 They left the Red Sea and camped in the Desert of Sin.

12 They left the Desert of Sin and camped at Dophkah.

13 They left Dophkah and camped at Alush.

14 They left Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.

15 They left Rephidim and camped in the Desert of Sinai.

16 They left the Desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah.

17 They left Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth.

18 They left Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah.

19 They left Rithmah and camped at Rimmon Perez.

20 They left Rimmon Perez and camped at Libnah.

21 They left Libnah and camped at Rissah.

22 They left Rissah and camped at Kehelathah.

23 They left Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher.

24 They left Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah.

25 They left Haradah and camped at Makheloth.

26 They left Makheloth and camped at Tahath.

27 They left Tahath and camped at Terah.

28 They left Terah and camped at Mithcah.

29 They left Mithcah and camped at Hashmonah.

30 They left Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth.

31 They left Moseroth and camped at Bene Jaakan.

32 They left Bene Jaakan and camped at Hor Haggidgad.

33 They left Hor Haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah.

34 They left Jotbathah and camped at Abronah.

35 They left Abronah and camped at Ezion Geber.

36 They left Ezion Geber and camped at Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.

37 They left Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the border of Edom. 38 At the Lord’s command Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor, where he died on the first day of the fifth month of the fortieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. 39 Aaron was a hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.

40 The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev of Canaan, heard that the Israelites were coming.

41 They left Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah.

42 They left Zalmonah and camped at Punon.

43 They left Punon and camped at Oboth.

44 They left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim, on the border of Moab.

45 They left Iyim and camped at Dibon Gad.

46 They left Dibon Gad and camped at Almon Diblathaim.

47 They left Almon Diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, near Nebo.

48 They left the mountains of Abarim and camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 49 There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim.

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the Lord said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.

55 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’”

 The Bible is spectacularly detailed in its recording of historical events.  Some people want to dismiss it as fairy tales, but archeology is the Bible’s best friend and historical documents outside the Bible back it up as well.  It would be odd to be so detailed if this were a mythical tale.

Verse 55 isn’t a veiled threat.  The Israelites will fail in completely driving out the people, just as we fail to completely drive out sins from our lives.  And they will experience consequences, just as we do.

Boundaries of Canaan

34     The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance will have these boundaries:

3 “‘Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. On the east, your southern boundary will start from the end of the Salt Sea, 4 cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, 5 where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Sea.

6 “‘Your western boundary will be the coast of the Great Sea. This will be your boundary on the west.

7 “‘For your northern boundary, run a line from the Great Sea to Mount Hor 8 and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, 9 continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north.

10 “‘For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. 11 The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Kinnereth. 12 Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Salt Sea.

“‘This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.’”

13 Moses commanded the Israelites: “Assign this land by lot as an inheritance. The Lord has ordered that it be given to the nine and a half tribes, 14 because the families of the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance. 15 These two and a half tribes have received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan of Jericho, toward the sunrise.”

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “These are the names of the men who are to assign the land for you as an inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun. 18 And appoint one leader from each tribe to help assign the land. 19 These are their names:

Caleb son of Jephunneh,

from the tribe of Judah;

20 Shemuel son of Ammihud,

from the tribe of Simeon;

21 Elidad son of Kislon,

from the tribe of Benjamin;

22 Bukki son of Jogli,

the leader from the tribe of Dan;

23 Hanniel son of Ephod,

the leader from the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph;

24 Kemuel son of Shiphtan,

the leader from the tribe of Ephraim son of Joseph;

25 Elizaphan son of Parnach,

the leader from the tribe of Zebulun;

26 Paltiel son of Azzan,

the leader from the tribe of Issachar;

27 Ahihud son of Shelomi,

the leader from the tribe of Asher;

28 Pedahel son of Ammihud,

the leader from the tribe of Naphtali.”

29 These are the men the Lord commanded to assign the inheritance to the Israelites in the land of Canaan.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

The audacity of being an abortion survivor

Please read this whole article about Gianna Jessen, a woman who wasn’t supposed to exist and who Barack Obama thinks could have been legally and morally killed after surviving an abortion. 

By the way, I don’t mean she was the mother who survived an abortion, she was the baby.

After being burned alive for approximately 18 hours in the womb from the saline solution, Gianna was delivered alive in a Los Angeles County abortion clinic. Her medical records state, “born during saline abortion”…this is what caused her Cerebral Palsy.

From a recent Wall Street Journal article:

Miss Jessen is an exquisite example of what antiabortion advocates call a “survivor.”

Had the abortionist been present at her birth, Gianna would have been killed, perhaps by suffocation. As it was, a startled nurse called an ambulance, and Gianna was rushed to a nearby hospital, where, weighing just two pounds, she was placed in an incubator, then, months later, in foster care.

As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama twice opposed legislation to define as “persons” babies who survive late-term abortions. Babies like Gianna. Mr. Obama said in a speech on the Illinois Senate floor that he could not accept that babies wholly emerged from their mother’s wombs are “persons,” and thus deserving of equal protection under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

When I asked Gianna to reflect on Mr. Obama’s candidacy, she paused, then said, “I really hope the American people will have their eyes wide open and choose to be discerning. . . . He is extreme, extreme, extreme.”

Mr. Obama has compiled a 100% lifetime “pro-choice” voting record, including votes against any and all restrictions on late-term abortions and parental involvement in teenagers’ abortions.

To Mr. Obama, abortion, or “reproductive justice,” is “one of the most fundamental rights we possess.” And he promises, “the first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act,” which would overturn hundreds of federal and state laws limiting abortion, including the federal ban on partial-birth abortion and bans on public funding of abortion.

He is such a uniter.

This guy really, really likes abortion.  I’m amazed that he is considered a Christian.

Also see Barack Obama – pro-partial birth abortion, among other things