Patience, Discontentment and snakes in the desert

In my daily studies I’ve started to get back into some of my Theology studies from school and study the Old Testament books grouped into the Pentatuech (or the Christian name for the Torah, the first 5 books of the bible). I think these are often overlooked by people but they are, absolutely, the foundation of the Christian faith and great tools to learn from in our lives.

This morning, with a super sore throat, I’m here in my apartment putting in my own time in the word (and not infecting everyone at my church). I’ve been spending more time listening to podcasts lately and today listened to Todd Nighswonger of Cornerstone church in Simi Valley, CA. He spoke on exactly what I had gotten back into reading and from the book of Numbers. Here’s what I read:

Numbers 21: 4-9

The Bronze Snake

4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,[a] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

So let’s set this up…The Israelites have been wandering the desert for many years at this point (remember, they were on a 40 year journey to the Promised Land) and are getting a little impatient. I’m sure if you were told by someone that you were going to be wandering the desert for 40 years looking for a promised land that no one person is really sure where it’s at you may not be as excited as you should be. These people were feeling just that.

But wait, God was providing food right? Yes, he was giving them Manna (a sweet “honey like” seed or grain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manna) and Quail (bird/meat) to eat and providing water in a desolate and lifeless desert that never should have sustained these things. So what’s the big deal? What’s their problem? Imagine your favorite food in the whole world…got it? Ok, now imagine eating it for every meal…for 40 years…every day. Would you get sick of it? Probably. If it was the only thing to eat and was provided for free would you be discontent with it? The Israelites sure were. They were so sick of the food and the terrible desert conditions that they lashed out against Moses and God (v.5).

How could they be so displeased? Moses is leading them to the land that God (creator of the earth and source of salvation and all life if you’re keeping score at home) has laid out just for them and they are complaining? So God shows them it could be way worse by releasing hoards of venomous snakes amongst the people, even killing some of them.

God then instructs Moses to create a snake and put it on a pole. I’m sure Moses thought “ok, I will but…what is this going to do?” God says that “…anyone who is bitten can look upon it and live (v.8).” Don’t miss the point here! The staff is representative of the Lord!

Fellas, what did we get from this? 1. The Lord provides us with so much! Never be unhappy with what has been given to you by grace and mercy. Use these gifts for good and continuing the Kingdom. Lashing out at God is not the answer and eventually we will be eaten alive by the “snakes” of this world if we allow ourselves to think we can do this on our own. 2. Look to God and you will be saved from all of your selfish ways and thinking. Let’s make a connection here: We always reference John 3:16 as a landmark verse, and it is, but check out John 3:14-15:

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[a] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[b]

So look to Christ continuously and have eternal life. Look, we can’t do it by ourselves. Try and we will fail.

~MB

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The Shop

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Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a man? I know that is a question I have asked myself a lot over the last couple of years. There is a phenomenon sweeping the nation; men loosing their roots and becoming more like a hypoallergenic Bechon. With one of my best friends, I am lucky and have 3, getting married I knew I would fail as a friend if I did not figure out how to find our roots on his journey to find his soul mate.

My family on my mom’s side is quite large and never disappointed for a good party when we all got together. I have 8 aunts and uncles and over 20 cousins who now are having children of their own. I am the third oldest of all the cousins and so my age kind of separated me from the majority of the group. I always looked up to my cousin Chris and Christina, both older than me, and I had a few that where just younger than me. Mitch is the closest to my age of the younger cousins and had aspirations to go on a unique and manly path. He wanted to be a barber with his own shop, and I got to experience that with the wedding party.

Mitch’s shop is one of a kind. He shares it with a salon but do not be confused, this is a barber shop. We were lucky enough to have the place closed off for just us and we had the time of our lives. Mitch is known as one of the few people around Columbus that can deliver a mean straight razor shave. We sat down, enjoyed some Maker’s Mark, which Mitch graciously let us drink out of mason jars, and hung out. He took great care of each of us while creating an atmosphere that any man would feel welcome in. Each one of us got some of the best hair cuts we have ever had and felt amazing after a shave. I knew exactly how my grandpa probably felt on a regular basis when he walked into the local Barber shop and got his hair cut and kicked his feet back for a nice straight razor shave.

Bottom line on the day, we had great fellowship with my friends and my cousin and we felt and acted like men. I would recomend this to any one who lives or travels through Columbus. We are going to look great for the big day on Saturday and it was all thanks to Mitch. So go out and be a man, find a barber and get a shave, you will thank yourself when your done.

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Matthew 8:5-13

The Faith of the Centurion

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

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Talk about something remarkable to learn from! A Centurian, often regarded as the highest military figure in the world at the current time and the pride of the Roman forces, this man showed humility to it’s fullest. This man states the case of his servant whom is ill to Jesus and says that he, the polished military figure, is not worthy of this dirty carpenter to come under his roof to heal the man but knew that if he said the word that it would happen and the servant would be healed. The Centurian sees that Jesus is over his life by speaking of the comparison of him over his men and servants who report to and serve him and knows that His words can create action. Think of how we view ourselves. I am admittedly very prideful and self sufficient feeling about many things. I figure I have everything under control and can make good decisions to get myself and others through problems based on my own volition. This is just not the case! Call yourself to see that you are not more righteous than anyone or too weak to ask for help. And always remember that faith is the answer of so many questions and request. Show faith, love and pursuit of Christ and you will be handsomely rewarded.

~MB

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Matthew 8: 1-4

1 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy[a]came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

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God gives us the ability to be great every day. He allows us to tap into is unlimited potential and achieve our destiny. The man here does not ask of God to please do this one thing for him, he tells Jesus, “…if you are willing you can make me clean”. That is a powerful statement, one that showed admiration for Jesus and confidence in His power. God desires this from us every day.

Think about the potential you have to achieve greatness. It’s time to stop being content with the way things are and become something more. Figure out where God is leading you and then take from His blessings. If you pray earnestly and confidently like this, God will bless you. James 5:16 describes this. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. Figure out what your part in the kingdom is and then attack the obstacles in your way. This man had leprosy and he knew Jesus was the answer to this crippling ailment. Run to Him with the same passion and confidence and you will come away changed.

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Friday Quick Tip

Warm-up first. Too many people think they need to stretch before they workout. The NSCA recommends doing a warm-up first. This allows your muscles to become more elastic and stretching more effective. If you plain on lifting don’t bother with the stretch at all. Stretching can lead to micro-tears in the muscle fiber. This isn’t terribly important for an endurance workout, but sprint work and lifting will further tear your muscle, (that’s actually how muscle grows, it tears and rebuilds bigger) which can lead to injury.

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Matthew 7: 24-29

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Hearing is not enough. Doing is what separates Christians from non-Christians. Someone once told me, and I believe he was quoting someone, that even Satan himself believes in Jesus. Too many Americans claim Christianity, but don’t live Christianity.

As a Younglife leader I often heard high school student tell me that they believed in Jesus and went to church on Sunday wasn’t that good enough? IT was always interesting to see their response when I told them no, that truly loving Jesus was to follow him and obey his commands. It wasn’t just saying, “I believe in Jesus,” and then doing whatever you please. That path does not lead to the Kingdom. These words are harsh, but I could not and can not tell a lie about something like that. So I ask today for you to take a look at your faith. Do you merely believe in Jesus because in America that is the cultural norm? Or do you wish to/have a personal relationship with the Creator, loving Him as he has loved you?

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Within and Without

 

Recently through GQ, I have stumbled upon a band that intrigued me. Through the Ipad version of the publication I previewed a song by Washed Out called Amor Fati. This is interesting in itself because Amor Fati is Latin for love of one’s fate, a common expression from latin like Carpe Diem, which means seize the day. So I decided to listen to a couple of the songs on Washed Out’s new album Within and Without.

The overall aura of this album is jazzy electronic and sounds a bit like M83; if I had to compare them. To me the music is soothing in nature and would be perfect for hip background music to your next BBQ or dinner. I have been listening to the album on repeat at work for the past 4 hours and I have to say that I am not tired of it. I am one to like repeating beats that seem to move through the song intermixed with vocals and other sounds. This relaxes me and puts me into focus. My favorite song on the album is definitely Amor Fat. It has an eclectic feel to it that I can’t quite put my finger on. I feel like it would be the perfect song for a snowboarding playlist.

Overall, I think that this album is a good one, I am going to keep an eye on Washed Out to see where they go, but Within and Without is a winner in my book.

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