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Ritual into Manhood — A Cherokee Story . . .

The Cherokee Night Ritual Into Manhood

For a Cherokee Indian youth to be considered a man, he must endure the ‘Rite of Passage.’

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.  He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the morning sun shines through it.  He cannot cry out for help to anyone.  Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.  He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

The boy is naturally terrified.  He can hear all kinds of noises.  Wild beasts must surely be all around him.  Maybe even some human who might do him harm.  The wind blows the grass and earth, and shakes his stump but he must sit stoically, never uncovering his eyes.  Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removes his blindfold.

It is then he discovers he is not alone.  His father is sitting on the stump next to him, having been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We too, are never alone, not matter how frightening our circumstances.  Even when we aren’t aware, God is watching over us, always protecting us.  When we are afraid and feel alone all we have to do is reach out to Him.  He may not always give us the answer we want, but He is present!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in manhood

 

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Time for a Great Commercial — Geico! True Fear!

I love that commercial!  It raises the question, what are you and I afraid of?  Many in our culture think that FEAR is a dirty word, but it isn’t. There are times when we ought to be overwhelmed by fear.  The fear that hits you when you come home to find you’ve been robbed and you don’t know if the thief is still in your house.  The fear that the medical tests won’t come back negative.  The fear that your mother-in-law is coming to live with you . . . forever (just kidding about this last one).

But what’s the more important and often overlooked fear?  The fear of the Lord, of course.  Here’s what Scripture has to say about fearing Him:

Exodus 14:31
And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Leviticus 19:14
“‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 25:17
Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 31:12
Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.

Joshua 4:24
He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

1 Chronicles 16:25
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

2 Chronicles 19:7
Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”

2 Chronicles 19:9
He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 26:5
He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.

These are just a few of the many passages that tell us to FEAR the Lord. The fear of the Lord caused the Israelites to put their trust in the Lord and in Moses. The fear of the Lord is something that must be learned. God’s power is often connected with fearing Him. Fearing Him ought to cause us to judge carefully, not to show any injustice or partiality or engage in bribery. Our service to the Lord ought to be faithful and wholehearted because of our fear of Him. Success was given to King Uzziah because he had been instructed in the fear of God. As a result, he sought the Lord and the Lord gave him success!

Wow! I need to think a lot more about fearing the Lord. You?

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2018 in fear of the Lord

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior! (Part 7)

Jonah’s call is clear — and his response, though unspoken, is equally clear.  He ran away from the omnipresent God.  He might have felt that he was successful in “fleeing” from the Lord.  But he was wrong.

We always are when we think we can escape God.  He is no wimpy celestial parent who wrings His hands at the rebellion of His child and says, “Oh, no!  Whatever shall I do?”  God acts.  He has the whole universe at His disposal to deploy against His mutinous missionary.  God uses, or rather “sends,” a “great wind on the sea.”  We read in Psalm 135 that “He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.” (v. 7, KJV)

Great winds produce great storms and this storm caused hardened, nauseous sailors to panic and become incredibly religious!  As they called out on their “own” gods, they divested themselves of the very cargo they were paid to transport.  They did everything they could to preserve their own lives, even resorting to religion in their despair.  But where is Jonah? (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) Part 12

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-6-04-16-am
When I was a wee lad, the worst that could happen to me would be people talking to my parents about something I allegedly did or did not do. Here we have the Pharisees engaged in “Meet the Parents!”

They don’t believe the man’s oft-repeated story of his healing, so they send for Mom and Dad.  This must have been traumatic for them.  They are  interrupted as they are presumably looking at brochures for a sight-seeing tour for their son and are hauled onto the carpet to be interrogated by frustrated, angry Pharisees!

They are grilled with three questions: (1) “Is this your son?”; (2) “Is this the one you say was born blind?”; (3) “How is it that now he can see?”  The first two questions are easy to answer, although some parents might have been tempted for reasons of self-interest to not claim this man as their son.  But how in the world were they to answer the third question?!

They keep their answers short — out of fearscreen-shot-2017-03-01-at-6-30-31-amFear of being expelled from the synagogue, the center of Jewish social and religious life.

If you were to list your top 10 fears in life (being tossed in a pit with rattlesnakes, becoming the hairdresser for President Trump, etc.), would being tossed out of the local church be one of them?  For many of us, if that were to happen, we might just say as we were walking out, “I NEVER LIKED THE COLOR OF THE CARPET ANYWAY!”  And then just go to the church down the street.

To the Pharisees acknowledging Jesus as the cause of this man’s healing meant (virtually) acknowledging Him as the Promised Messiah.  And that they could not allow!  So the parents pass the buck — back to their wide-eyed son. (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in fear

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 76)

Psalm 76

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.

God is renowned in Judah;screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-6-25-21-am
    in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem,
    his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows,
    the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.

You are radiant with light,
    more majestic than mountains rich with game.
The valiant lie plundered,
    they sleep their last sleep;
not one of the warriors
    can lift his hands.
At your rebuke, God of Jacob,
    both horse and chariot lie still.

7 It is you alone who are to be feared.
    Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment,
    and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge,
    to save all the afflicted of the land.
10 Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise,
    and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

11 Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them;
    let all the neighboring lands
    bring gifts to the One to be feared.
12 He breaks the spirit of rulers;
    he is feared by the kings of the earth.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2016 in fear

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon: Monsters Under the Bed?!

Screenshot 2016-03-07 05.58.49

I don’t think clearly when I’m hungry, either! How about you?

What are the monsters under your bed?  Have they identified themselves?  Are they hungry for your soul?

The monster I am thinking of today is . . . FEAR.  What things keep you up at night?  What anxieties work you over as you are trying to get some rest?  Our culture suggests that fear is only a negative emotion, something that stifles our creativity and inhibits our success.

The Bible has a lot to say about fear.  For example, it says that “the fear of man brings a snare.” (Prov. 29:25).  Here is the verse in the New King James:  25 The fear of man brings a snare,  But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  There is an alternative to fearing man —  it is trusting in the Lord.

There is plenty to fear in life — but I can choose to trust in the Lord.  My hope and faith must not be in fallible man (especially in myself), but in Him!  HE is to be feared, for “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction,” we read in Proverbs 1:7.  We are told in Psalm 111:10 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs eternal praise.”

When I properly fear the Lord, I can relinquish to Him my expectations Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 6.14.15 AMand my anxieties.  And — I don’t have to look under my bed at night!

 

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in fear

 

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The Believer and Government (Part 3 of 5)

We are continuing to think through Romans 13:1-7 in this election season.  How is the believer in Jesus to relate to human authority?Screenshot 2016-01-23 06.55.23

Here is what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 13:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13)

I see this passage breaking down into four sections:  I.  A Command to Obey (v. 1); II.  A Servant to Fear (vv. 2-4); III. A Freedom to Find (vv. 3-4); and IV. A Debt to Pay (vv. 5-7).  That’s my sermon outline.  Let’s think about —

III.  A Freedom to Find (vv. 3-4)

We can be FREE from FEAR if we don’t do what is wrong!  That’s pretty simple, isn’t it?  There should be a legitimate fear for wrongdoers.   They should fear the power of human government to bring the sword into the Screenshot 2016-01-23 08.40.01conversation!  We can be free from the fear of punishment by properly submitting to human authority and doing what is right.

There is much attention given these days to terrorists, but little emphasis on the TERROR which ought to plague evildoers!  Human government is (although unknowingly) functioning as God’s servant when it brings punishment on the evildoer.  (to be continued)

One takeaway: I should fear the Lord, but not fear the authority He has put over me (if I do what is right).

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2016 in government

 

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