Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Three Feasts God Wants Us to Celebrate “unto Him” -- Exodus 23:14-17



“Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.”
 
I do not know about you, but I have often thought that we have too many holidays.  If you subscribe to an on-line ‘holidays’ software package in conjunction with your computer calendar, you will soon notice that just about every day of the year it seems is a ‘holiday’ somewhere. In North America in January, we have New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In February there’s Groundhog Day; Lincoln’s Birthday; Valentine’s Day; Family Day, Louis Riel Day, Islander Day (these last three in Canada); President’s Day; and Washington’s Birthday. Do I need to go on through the rest of the year? Yes, some are even religious holidays although we have done our best to change even that.
There are many references to feasts in the Bible, but here in this short passage, God is requiring that we celebrate three of them “unto Him” annually. Without going into great detail about each of these feasts, let us focus on what we believe to be God’s purpose in having us celebrate them “unto Him”.
The first one, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was intended for us to remember that it was God who brought them out of slavery from the land of Egypt and how miraculously He did it. For us today, it would mean celebrating and remembering how God brought us out of our sinful state and saved us through the miracle of His Son Jesus Christ coming to earth and dying in our place.
The second one, the Feast of the Harvest in which the Israelites were to present God their “first fruits” from the annual yield of their fields, was intended to keep reminding them that it is God that gives the harvest and arranges for it, not they themselves. For us today, it would mean celebrating “unto Him” and thanking Him for the fact that we can and are totally dependent on Him for all of our earthly needs and the products of our labor.
The third one, the Feast of the Ingathering (also known as the Feast of Booths) takes place after the last harvest of the year is gathered.  It was for the purpose of giving thanks to God for His provision of the right weather to allow the Israelites to process their crops, especially grapes and grain, before the yield would be useful for eating. In those days all the winepresses and threshing floors were outdoors and the Israelites needed favorable weather to carry these activities out.  Again, for us today, this would mean giving God thanks for how He is involved in our day-to-day lives, taking care of the details if you like.
In asking them to celebrate these three feasts, God makes two stipulations.  First (provided at the end of our passage) that “all the males” should gather together at these three events and that they should eat together at them (after all, that is what one does at feasts). And secondly, God tells the Israelites that no one (no male) is to appear before Him at this celebration “empty-handed”.  On this latter point, Matthew Henry writes,
Some free-will offering or other they must bring, in token of their respect and gratitude to their great benefactor; and, as they were not allowed to come empty-handed, so we must not come to worship God empty-hearted; our souls must be filled with grace, with pious and devout affections, holy desires towards him, and dedications of ourselves to him, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.”
In our modern world, full of hustle and bustle, and never a spare moment, we have developed the ability to do more in less time.  We have fast-food, drive-thru bank services, stay in your automobile carwashes, texting (vs. writing or calling or even emailing) ‘sounds’ or ‘short-forms’ rather than full words, and I am sure you can think of many more shortcuts that you take. We seem to have done the same thing with the Feasts that God wanted us to observe. We now have one annual Thanksgiving Day (at which many do very little giving of thanks and some don’t even feast) to replace all three feasts God had prescribed we celebrate. And you we claim to love Him dearly.
I humbly suggest that as a minimum at our next Thanksgiving Day Feast, we try to consider what God wanted us to remember through the three feasts He describes in this Scripture passage. Let us at least take time to thank Him for delivering us from sin, His provisions for our daily needs, and His involvement in our lives.  And if you are really up to it, try establishing three different feasts for your family.
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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stand Your Ground (A Cry for Justice)


Stand Your Ground (A Cry for Justice)



I agreed to review this DVD because I believe there will soon come a time, if it has not come already, when each of us, will need to “stand our ground”.  What sane, dedicated to God and family person does not, once challenged, want to stand up for his/her family, his/her rights, and his/her faith?

This movie depicts the real life experience of Jackie Carpenter, a wife and mother who had to do just that when it seemed “the system” was taking care of itself -- at the expense of the truth and her son.

In the process, Carpenter feels she is forced to take on not only her husband who prefers not to make any trouble, her advisors, her son’s lawyer, and ultimately God Himself.  She tells God that if He won’t “fix this” when He hears the “cry for justice” [which also happens to be the movie’s sub-title], she will.

It is at this point that she may have felt as abandoned as Christ may have felt on the cross when He uttered the words, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It was not an easy place for Jesus to have been and it is never an easy place for any of His followers to be – to feel like that. Understanding that God is still there and cares very much requires great commitment and dedication – a faith that you do not get until you have to be there. Carpenter has to come to grips with her options. She can fight this alone with her own human capabilities and knowledge or she can let God be God and participate as a child of His while still fulfilling her role as a mother and watching her son suffer.

Trusting God and accepting what He allows are two different things as Carpenter finds out. And some people handle it bette than others.

The main actors are Drew Matthews (the falsely accused son); Francine Locke (the mother); Kelsi Chandler (the daughter-in-law); and Cameron Arnett (the brilliant defense lawyer). But do not watch this movie if you insist on perfection when it comes to the films you watch. There are no Oscar nominations waiting to be announced. Some of the lines, especially those taken from the real story, sound corny and no award-seeking writer would ever have proposed them. I felt the music did not always fit the scene and was quite disjointed. But once you get over these expectations that you are accustomed to, you will find a gem from reality – and most often real life is more awkward than how Hollywood portrays it. Here is a low budget film with a great message. You can knock it or you can ask yourself, “Am I prepared to go through what Jackie Carpenter went through? And what if in my case, the results were different? Would I survive – my faith, my family, myself?”

The movie was issued in 2014 by Triple Horse Studios and distributed in 2015 by Phase 4 Films.  It is now available on DVD.  Watch it alone, with your spouse, and even with your teenagers.  

    -- Ken B. Godevenos, http://www.accordconsulting.com , Toronto, 15/05/17  

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, May 18, 2015

God's Strict Orders -- Exodus 23:13


“Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.”
 
I remember as a young lad being put on a Greyhound bus from Toronto to New York to visit my aunt and uncle during summer and Christmas breaks, as well as Easter breaks (for that is what they were called when I went to school; not March or Winter breaks). The reason for my visits was that my father and mother both worked and I would have no one to take care of me.  I remember all the instructions I was given about what I was to do on the bus ride and how to be on the alert for various things, plus what to do if by chance my uncle or aunt were late in coming to the New York city bus terminal to meet me. Those directives or teachings came from my loving parents who were reluctant to let me go, yet realized they had to for my own welfare. Overall, these were pleasant separations between a parent and a child. But the world is also full of unpleasant, unkind, and very often undesired separations between parent and child.
No matter the circumstances of separation, when there is time and opportunity to do so, a wiser older person will often say to the younger, weaker one, “Now remember everything I have told you. Watch out for those that may hurt you or trick you or rob from you. Be alert. And whatever you do, do not . . ..”
That’s exactly what is going on in this verse. You will remember way back in chapter 19 of Exodus, the story begins of Moses meeting God on that awesome mountain. It is during that time with God that all the commandments and directives of how the Israelites are to live were made known. And while there are some instructions with respect to various feasts and other matters still to come, for the most part this awesome meeting with the Living God Almighty is drawing to a close. So God says to His beloved children of Israel, “Remember everything I have told you. Be alert.” It was as if God was saying, “Sons, daughters – you are going to need to do these things if you are going to survive and do well in your life for the Enemy is great and active and just looking for a chance to ensnare you.” How true that is of life for us today.
But God also goes on to give a very significant warning that I believe many of us have either forgotten or we have chosen to ignore. God says, “ . . . do not mention the name of other gods. Do not even let them be heard from your mouth.” In context, God was likely referring to Baal and other similar idols or heathen gods that people worshipped at the time. He knew that uttering their names or talking about them in any capacity except to denounce them was dangerous, as they had the power to entice and lure people into their realms, inch-by-inch, thought-by-thought, and practice-by-practice.
We also know that for us today, “another god” is anything that takes us away from our reliance and dependence on God and God alone. Be it that new car, some form of music, sports, making money, that summer escape, a bigger home we desire, any vice, and anything else we can think of that makes us lose our focus on what is God’s desire and plan for my life right now. God says, “Stop talking about those things!” Doing so does not help and it can definitely hurt.
This verse is a gem that many of us miss. Or we try to avoid it all costs.  But we do so at our own peril. Be alert.  If we love our Heavenly Father the way we say we do, at least during the worship singing time at church, then we must listen to His very strict order to us –“Stop talking about other gods in our lives.”
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Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

In the Line of Fire: Raising Kids in a Violent World




I agreed to review this book because I have six living grandchildren ranging from 14 years of age through to 10 months whom I love dearly.  And while none of them live in a constantly violent world per se, each one of them is a candidate for being exposed to violence in their lives, both now and in the future – be it in the playground, at school, riding our public transit, driving our congested highways along with those prone to road-rage, or in the workplace.  Their chances of experiencing violence is growing daily, especially if they were to venture to parts of the world where violence is a way of life. Or perhaps, they, God forbid, will be in the wrong place at the wrong time when those who import violence to our world are doing their thing.

Jan Arnow’s 2015 book entitled, In the Line of Fire: Raising Kids in a Violent World, with a forward by Maryum Ali (peace activist, gang prevention specialist, and daughter of Muhammad Ali) and published by Butler Books of Louisville, KY, is a formidable reference volume on how to guard our children from violence – both being impacted by it and participating in it.  The book is attractively designed with many color photos throughout its 226 full-size (8 ½” by 11”) pages.  At 5/8” thick, sitting on a coffee table, it will be picked up readily by any awakened mind.

But who is Jan Arnow and what qualifies her to write on this most complex topic? Well, for starters she personally knows the horrors of growing up in an abusive household. That may be qualifications enough, but she also has credentials that may count for more in some peoples’ minds: She’s the founder and executive director of Innovations in Peacemaking International; internationally recognized lecturer and authority on multicultural education, violence abatement, prejudice reduction, creativity, and leadership; award-winning author of nine books and scores of articles; and currently working a new peace curriculum for schools, houses of worship, and neighborhoods.

The book’s table of contents speaks for itself.  Each of the nine chapters is filled with sub-topics that we as parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers can identify with. Here’s what Arnow covers:
·      Conditioning for Hatred and Violence (War Toys; Video Games; Television; The Next Step: Real Violence; Media Literacy; Responding to Kids’ Concerns)
·      What Is Your Child Reading? (Sexism; Racism; Other Forms of Bias; Finding the Materials)
·      The School Climate – Creating a Supportive Setting (Who Fails and Who Succeeds?; Why Keep Kids in School?; Strategies to Improve School Culture)
·      Growing Up Equal – Gender Fairness in the Classroom (Early Gender Socialization; Sexism in the School; Sexual Harassment; Connection Between Gender Inequality and Date Rape; The Call for Equity)
·      Parents and Teachers as Partners (Barriers to Parental Participation; Redefining the Concepts; Parental Involvement Helps Prevent Violence)
·      Sticks, Stones, and Digital Damage (Kids Will Be Kids; What is Bullying?; Cyberbullying, the Anonymous Destroyer; The Dangers of Sexting; It Doesn’t End There)
·      Guns Are Us (Guns Up the Ante; The Gun Industry; How Do Kids Get Guns?; The Path of a Gun; Myths and Truths about Guns; How Guns Affect Kids; Who or What is to Blame?)
·      From Hate to Harm (Persistence of Social Problems; Hate Crimes and Gangs; Community Services)
·      Actions as Antidotes – Working for Change (Compassion Fatigue; Reactions to Troubled Times; Commitment to Change; Where Do We Begin?; What Our Children Deserve).

Every chapter in the book is filled with very valuable information, fully researched and well presented.  Her chapter four on Gender Fairness has no hidden agenda as many authors have today.

Her chapter seven on Guns is not about gun control or taking away the Second Amendment rights that Americans enjoy – it’s about “children dying unnecessarily from gunshot wounds.” As such, there is no fear that the NRA or any wise owner of a gun would object to what she is saying.

Arnow’s chapter six on Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Sexting is a must read for every parent and guardian. I would even go so far as to say it’s a must read for every pre-teen.

Every chapter of Jan Arnow’s book is filled to capacity with what parents and teachers need to know today about their children and how violence is impacting their lives. In fact, Arnow is working hard to develop a teacher’s and community guide that can be used in conjunction with her book.

And if that’s not enough, to help you each chapter has eight different types of “aids” clearly marked to help you make the best use of what you are reading. These are:
n  For Your Information (Annotated book and resource reviews relate to the chapter topic.)
n  How Do You Rate? (Topic-specific checklists.)
n  Programs that Work (Examples of proven practices, how-to’s, and so on.)
n  Expressing Your Concerns (Where to send letters and faxes.)
n  Straight Talk (Quotations from parents, teachers, children, and experts.)
n  What Does it Mean? (Definitions of key words in each chapter.)
n  Did You Know? (Lists of easily grasped, pertinent facts.)
n  What You Can Do (Lists of action steps to take, by topic.)

There are two quotes at the beginning of the book that well-represent Arnow’s thinking in writing the book and what she hoped to accomplish.  The first makes a statement; the second explains her purpose:
n  Quote 1: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi as quoted in The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer (1950).
n  Quote 2: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality . . . I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, December 10, 1964.

As a Christian reviewer, while I understand and accept the point Gandhi was trying to make in his quote, and while I firmly believe in the act of forgiveness, I take some exception to his absolute conclusion.  An eye for an eye does not mean “an eye for an eye for an eye, ad infinitum.” Only that misinterpretation of the phrase could lead to Gandhi’s conclusion.

Martin Luther King, Jr. on the other had indeed hit upon truth, but in his attempt to appease all, he fails to clearly state what the Gospel he preached truly maintains.  That is, that while the world is indeed “tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war”, the root cause of the problem is man’s fallen state of sin.  King is correct in saying we can look forward to the “bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood”, but this “reality” can, given our condition, only fully come in the “unarmed truth and unconditional love” found in the person of Jesus Christ.  In the meantime, Arnow’s book is an amazing tool to help each of us limit, and hopefully overcome, the “racism and war” and hatred in the lives of our children and grandchildren – and perhaps more importantly, in our lives as we model what it truly means to be human “living in peace with all men or women”.

With the copy of the book I got, there was an insert that went exactly like the following.  I recommend you take the steps suggested:
n  Step One:  Light a match.
n  Step Two: Hold your finger in the flame for as long as you can stand it.
n  Step Three: Reflect on how terrifying and awful that felt.
n  Step Four: Read In the Line of Fire: Raising Kids In a Violent World to understand why our children feel that way, literally and figuratively, and what we can do about it.

    -- Ken B. Godevenos, http://www.accordconsulting.com , Toronto, 15/05/17  

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Everything and Everyone Needs A Rest -- Exodus 23:10-12:


“And you shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat.  You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.  Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor; in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.”
 
At face value, this instruction is addressed to those who farm the land. But does that excuse the majority of us who today find ourselves otherwise occupied? I don’t think so. This “6 and 1” rhythm seems to have been established earlier in scripture.  Back in Genesis we noted that God Himself worked six days and then rested on the seventh. Earlier in Exodus (chapter 20) we are told we must do all our work in six days and then rest on the seventh. And now here, God says that “6 and 1” rhythm is good for the land as well. Farm it for six years, reap the harvest that it yields, and then let it rest. If God rested, and if He requires that His creation (the earth) rests, how much more important is it for our working animals and us to rest?
And then God interweaves a key principle into this direction. He is in essence saying, “Don’t be so fanatical about this to the point where you do not allow others with real need to gather what I provide naturally as you allow the land to lie fallow (tilled but not seeded).” Directly or indirectly, God is saying, while you have food in your stockrooms and silos for this year of rest, you still have to be conscious of the needs of others; you still need to take care of widows and orphans.
God also shows His care for animals, for as we leave our farmland to lie fallow allowing the needy to be taken care of, so too, what they leave, will take care of the beast of the field. It never fails to amaze me how well things would work if we were to follow God’s plans in every detail. In this case, the needy, as well as the beggar on the street would be fed and so would our four-legged friends.
This passage deals with years – allowing the land to rest on the seventh after it was worked for six. The “6 and 1” rhythm principle is not to be limited to those among us who till the ground and grow our food. It is a principle that can, and should, be transferred to all of our labor activities – in the office, in the classroom, on the professional sports arena, and so on. We can transfer the idea of “years” to days in keeping with God’s other commandments. Failure to apply the principle is at our own risk. I have recently started speed walking daily with my wife but we both realize that our bodies need rest each week. If we don’t take that rest, we do not make it through the next week.
Ask yourself “Am I maximizing on the rhythm that God established for the physical aspect of my life? Am I taking the rests that I need? Am I giving my family, my workers, and my staff that rest? Am I thinking creatively about those in need?” I cannot vouch whether or not “Things Go Better With Coke!” but I can tell you “Life Is Better In God’s Rhythm!”
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Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.