Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tiger Woods - I'm sorry!

Yesterday was Tiger Woods much anticipated public confession. Here is some of what he had to say.

“I was unfaithful, I had affairs, I cheated. What I did was not acceptable and I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. ... I ran straight through the boundaries a normal marriage should live by. ... I thought that I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find [temptations]. ... The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world that admired me.”

But why was the apology necessary? We live in a culture that assumes premarital intercourse as a right. Where adultery is common. Where pornography is rampant. In fact, in the state where he had many of his affairs, prostitution is legal and beautiful women are on call for the rich and famous. So what code did Tiger break? Why does our promiscous culture want an apology?

Listen to some of what God had to say about sex some 4000 years ago. Some things are just NOT ok!

Leviticus 18:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God. 3 So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. 4 You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. 5 If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.


6 “You must never have sexual relations with a close relative, for I am the Lord.
7 “Do not violate your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; you must not have sexual relations with her.
8 “Do not have sexual relations with any of your father’s wives, for this would violate your father.
9 “Do not have sexual relations with your sister or half sister, whether she is your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born into your household or someone else’s.
10 “Do not have sexual relations with your granddaughter, whether she is your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, for this would violate yourself.
11 “Do not have sexual relations with your stepsister, the daughter of any of your father’s wives, for she is your sister.
12 “Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister, for she is your father’s close relative.
13 “Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s close relative.
14 “Do not violate your uncle, your father’s brother, by having sexual relations with his wife, for she is your aunt.
15 “Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, so you must not have sexual relations with her.
16 “Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife, for this would violate your brother.
17 “Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. And do not take[o] her granddaughter, whether her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, and have sexual relations with her. They are close relatives, and this would be a wicked act.
18 “While your wife is living, do not marry her sister and have sexual relations with her, for they would be rivals.
19 “Do not have sexual relations with a woman during her period of menstrual impurity.
20 “Do not defile yourself by having sexual intercourse with your neighbor’s wife.
21 “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the Lord.
22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.
23 “A man must not defile himself by having sex with an animal. And a woman must not offer herself to a male animal to have intercourse with it. This is a perverse act."

Some things are not OK. Period. Cheating on your spouse is one of those. It is hard wired into our conscience.

Roasted Gecko, Anyone?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had roasted Gecko? Or, perhaps, mountain lion baby back ribs? Or camel steak? Bat bites or vulture drum stick?

Today's reading has a long list of clean and unclean animals. I've never really figured out why some animals were OK to eat and some were not. But in today's reading I was struck by the fact that most of the animals on the prohibited list we don't eat, have never eaten, don't even want to eat. Interesting!

4 "You may not, however, eat the following animals[a] that have split hooves or that chew the cud, but not both. The camel chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The hyrax[b] chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. 6 The hare chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. 7 The pig has evenly split hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is unclean. 8 You may not eat the meat of these animals or even touch their carcasses. They are ceremonially unclean for you.


9 “Of all the marine animals, these are ones you may use for food. You may eat anything from the water if it has both fins and scales, whether taken from salt water or from streams. 10 But you must never eat animals from the sea or from rivers that do not have both fins and scales. They are detestable to you. This applies both to little creatures that live in shallow water and to all creatures that live in deep water. 11 They will always be detestable to you. You must never eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies. 12 Any marine animal that does not have both fins and scales is detestable to you.

13 “These are the birds that are detestable to you. You must never eat them: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, falcons of all kinds, 15 ravens of all kinds, 16 the eagle owl, the short-eared owl, the seagull, hawks of all kinds, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the barn owl, the desert owl, the Egyptian vulture, 19 the stork, herons of all kinds, the hoopoe, and the bat.

20 “You must not eat winged insects that walk along the ground; they are detestable to you. 21 You may, however, eat winged insects that walk along the ground and have jointed legs so they can jump. 22 The insects you are permitted to eat include all kinds of locusts, bald locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers. 23 All other winged insects that walk along the ground are detestable to you.

24 “The following creatures will make you ceremonially unclean. If any of you touch their carcasses, you will be defiled until evening. 25 If you pick up their carcasses, you must wash your clothes, and you will remain defiled until evening.

26 “Any animal that has split hooves that are not evenly divided or that does not chew the cud is unclean for you. If you touch the carcass of such an animal, you will be defiled. 27 Of the animals that walk on all fours, those that have paws are unclean. If you touch the carcass of such an animal, you will be defiled until evening. 28 If you pick up its carcass, you must wash your clothes, and you will remain defiled until evening. These animals are unclean for you."

What do you do if God prohibits something you want to do? Do it anyway? Pause? Stop and obey blindly?

These are the thoughts I had today as I read this rather tedious passage...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aaron had 4 boys - Oops, now only 2!

Aaron had 4 boys - Oops, now only 2!

This is a troubling story from any angle you look at it.

God has asked for some pomp and circumstance in the ordination and inaguration of the priests.

Leviticus 8:1 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Bring Aaron and his sons, along with their sacred garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of bread made without yeast, 3 and call the entire community of Israel together at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[a]”

4 So Moses followed the Lord’s instructions, and the whole community assembled at the Tabernacle entrance. 5 Moses announced to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded us to do!” 6 Then he presented Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. 7 He put the official tunic on Aaron and tied the sash around his waist. He dressed him in the robe, placed the ephod on him, and attached the ephod securely with its decorative sash."

All was grand and beautiful. Sacrifices for sin are instituted, and there is a lot of emphasis of "just as the Lord had commanded."

22 "After that, Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them. Then, after presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, he stepped down from the altar. 23 Then Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. 24 Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground."

Forgiveness of sin! Worship of God! Great joy! They all go together.

Then...

Leviticus 9:1 "Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. 2 So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.

3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said,
‘I will display my holiness
through those who come near me.
I will display my glory
before all the people.’”

And Aaron was silent."

This was serious stuff! And the dad isn't even allowed to grieve his two sons.

4 "Then Moses called for Mishael and Elzaphan, Aaron’s cousins, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. He said to them, “Come forward and carry away the bodies of your relatives from in front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 5 So they came forward and picked them up by their garments and carried them out of the camp, just as Moses had commanded.


6 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not show grief by leaving your hair uncombed[g] or by tearing your clothes. If you do, you will die, and the Lord’s anger will strike the whole community of Israel. However, the rest of the Israelites, your relatives, may mourn because of the Lord’s fiery destruction of Nadab and Abihu. 7 But you must not leave the entrance of the Tabernacle[h] or you will die, for you have been anointed with the Lord’s anointing oil.” So they did as Moses commanded."

What are the lessons to be learned?
One - certainly God is to be respected, and not trifled with. Two - He wanted to create fear of God among the people. Three - These were to be spiritual leaders of 3 million people. With priviledge comes responsibility.

What other lessons can you think of? Any way you cut it, this is a troubling passage...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Guilty! - Forgiven...

All religions deal with guilt. Only Christianity provides free and complete forgiveness through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on our behalf.

Even in todays passage, God defines guilt, and provides for forgiveness and covering for that guilt.

“If you are called to testify about something you have seen or that you know about, it is sinful to refuse to testify, and you will be punished for your sin.

2 “Or suppose you unknowingly touch something that is ceremonially unclean, such as the carcass of an unclean animal. When you realize what you have done, you must admit your defilement and your guilt."

Sin? - Guilt.
Followed by confession - offering - and forgiveness.

5 “When you become aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin. 6 Then you must bring to the Lord as the penalty for your sin a female from the flock, either a sheep or a goat. This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord.[a]


7 “But if you cannot afford to bring a sheep, you may bring to the Lord two turtledoves or two young pigeons as the penalty for your sin. One of the birds will be for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering."

Again:
Sin? - Guilt.
Followed by confession - offering - and forgiveness.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, 15 “If one of you commits a sin by unintentionally defiling the Lord’s sacred property, you must bring a guilt offering to the Lord. The offering must be your own ram with no defects, or you may buy one of equal value with silver, as measured by the weight of the sanctuary shekel.[c] 16 You must make restitution for the sacred property you have harmed by paying for the loss, plus an additional 20 percent. When you give the payment to the priest, he will purify you with the ram sacrificed as a guilt offering, making you right with the Lord, and you will be forgiven.

Again:
Sin? - Guilt.
Followed by confession - offering - and forgiveness.

17 “Suppose you sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin. 18 For a guilt offering, you must bring to the priest your own ram with no defects, or you may buy one of equal value. Through this process the priest will purify you from your unintentional sin, making you right with the Lord, and you will be forgiven. 19 This is a guilt offering, for you have been guilty of an offense against the Lord.”

God knows we commit sins.
Our consciense knows we commit sins.

Psychology teaches us to ignore or override our consciense. It doesn't work.

God shows us how to confess, make atonement for, and recieve forgiveness for, sin.

Love

Today is Valentines Day, so it is appropriate to talk about God's Love Letter to mankind - the Bible.

The most famous love note of all time?

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

The most quoted passage at weddings?

4 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

13 "Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."

So - Happy Valentine's Day, from God to you!!