Monday, May 23, 2011

Are You Blessing Your Children on a Regular Basis?

Usually on Sabbath (Friday evening) before retiring for bed.
This is usually pronounces while the father is laying hands on the forehead of each child and speaking the blessing. In some homes the blessing is followed by a kiss, and in other homes it is followed by personal words of praise.

This will 1) make each child feel loved, significant, and special 2) give each child fond memories of “family-together-time, and 3) enact the blessing of God in each child.
The Blessing for a Son

May the Lord make you like Ephraim and Manasseh

Just before he dies, Jacob blesses his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh . He says they should become role models for the Jewish people in the future.
So Jacob blessed the boys that day with this blessing: “The people of Israel will use your names when they give a blessing. They will say, ‘May God make you as prosperous as Ephraim and Manasseh.’ ” In this way, Jacob put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. [1]." (Genesis 48:20)
Ephraim and Manasseh did in fact become role models worthy of emulation. Unlike those before them, including Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers, Ephraim and Manasseh were not rivals. Rather, Ephraim and Manasseh were brothers united by their drive to perform good deeds.

The Blessing for a Daughter

May the Lord make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Each of the matriarchs has qualities that qualify them to be role models.
The matriarchs were strong and laudable women. They endured difficult home lives, hardships in marriage, infertility, abduction, envy from other woman, and difficult children. Nevertheless, these righteous women, through their individual passion, their partnerships with the patriarchs and their loyalty to God, succeed to build a nation.

The Blessing for Children
May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Number 6:24-26

[1] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible : New Living Translation., 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Ge 48:20.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Death of Osama bin Laden


I am concerned about the finality with which most are dealing with the death of Osama bin Laden. It seems that now that justice has been served (somewhat,) many are once again feeling safe and sound. Unfortunately, I believe that these are greatly deceived. You see, we in the West are judging things by our own understanding and culture; but Middle Eastern culture is very different. While we have looked at the governmental structure (or lack thereof) of the Taliban and such, we have looked at that structure through our own, western-civilized lenses … and thus overlooked reality.

Modern US governmental structure is what might be labeled as a centralized system: that is, there is structure (including ranks of command and control) and there are rules. Middle eastern organizations (?) such as the Taliban, Al Qaeida, and others tend to operate in a way that we might label as “decentralized systems.” This means that there is no clear leader, there is no rank of command and control, and instead, there is distributed or shared power, and ambiguity.

We are aware of this in the US but oftentimes, we fail to think of it regarding modern leadership. We are familiar with Wikipedia, where there is no ONE center of authority. We are familiar with the internet; and even though it was invented by Al Gore (GROAN!!!) we understand there is no clear, central authority here.

Two authors have defined such decentralized activities and comparisons in terms of starfish and spiders. Their illustration may be summarized thusly: The Spider is Centralized. It has a Central body with legs. If you cut off its head, it dies. The Starfish might be seen as a Decentralized network. It has no head and its major organs are replicated throughout each arm. If you cut it in half and you get two starfish. (If you would like to read more, check out The Starfish and the Spider:  The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. All I just gave you is a summary of the first two chapters.)

This above picture is what I think, even as I write, is taking place among Radical Islam. So, in my opinion, the death of Osama bin Laden does not bring an end to the terror or the uprisings; instead, it gives naïve American citizens a false sense of security.

So then where can we rest and be secure?

Let’s put our trust in the Lord!

Here is my paraphrase of Psalm 91

    1 Those who live in (abide in, dwell in) the shelter of the Most High will find rest (and peace and security) in the shadow of the Almighty.
    2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety (not relevant news or public acclamations); He (alone) is my God, and I trust Him (and Him alone.)
    3 For He will rescue you from every trap (including deception and false security) and protect you from deadly disease.
    4 (Like a mother hen) He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter (protect)  you with his wings. And His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
    5 Do not be afraid of the terrors (or terrorists) of the night, nor the arrow (bombs, threats, etc.) that flies in the day.
    6 Do not dread the disease (unknown, mysteries) that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster (threats to eradicate the free world) that strikes at midday.
    7 Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you,
      these evils will not touch you.
    8 Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

   14 The LORD says, “I will rescue (all) those who love (and who prove that love by trusting) me. (In fact, and I assure this,) I will protect those who trust in My name.
    15 When they call on Me, I will answer (respond and come to the rescue); I will be with them in (every) trouble.  I will rescue and honor them.
    16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation (both here and in eternity.)” Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible : New Living Translation., 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Ps 91.

And finally, as we face uncertain days ahead, I close with the words of Job as he, too, face uncertain days: “Though He may slay me, yet will I still trust in Him …” (Job 13:15 my paraphrase)

As most are, I am glad this phase (bin Laden) has come to an end in our narrative; nonetheless, I choose NOT to place my hope in reports, tales, and celebrations; I put my trust in the Lord.

Where will you put your trust?


Isaiah 49:2- “I am like a polished arrow in His quiver.”

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