Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Christian Meditation (Pt 1)

Meditation can be a taboo thing in Christianity for the fact that when we think of "meditation" we automatically think of nature soundtracks, positive affirmations, hypnosis, and other worldly things. Nevertheless, meditation is actually a concept the world has taken from the bible and made their own! Now we find that Christians rarely ever meditate because they don't want to be like the "world". However, it was a practice that started in the bible!

Sometimes in the Old Testament, when the word "meditate" appears, it was literally meant to mean, "tune out" or be unaware of your surroundings. In Isaiah 33:18, the scripture reads “Your heart will meditate on terror”. In the literal translation of this scripture the term “soliloquize” is used in place of the word “meditate”. Soliloquize means to utter in a soliloquy. By definition, a soliloquy is an utterance by a person who is talking to himself or herself and is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present.

We get the idea that to be disregardful of one's surroundings means a person is in an intense state of meditation or concentration. The way the word meditate (or soliloquize) was meant to be used here shows a deep level of being consumed by one's thoughts: to "meditate on terror".

In comparison to the way the term meditate was used in some other parts of the bible, to soliloquize means to be in a deeper state of concentration. For example, David says in Psalms 145:5, “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty”. Here David is implying he will think about or reflect on something. This use of the word shows less intensity than being consumed by thoughts of terror as seen in the above scripture, Isaiah 33:18.

Interestingly enough, the intense version of the word “meditate” is also seen in one of the most popular Old Testament scriptures where the word is used. Joshua 1:8 reads:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous”
In this scripture the word “meditate” was, once again, literally translated from Hebrew to the word “soliloquize”. Unlike common belief, this scripture does not simply mean to read the word or reflect on the word every day and night. It literally means to utter repetitively to oneself, with such a level of concentration that the person becomes disregardful or oblivious to his or her surroundings. This scripture was actually a suggestion for Joshua to engage in actual meditation in order for the book of the law to be a subconscious lifestyle for him. Doing this is what was suggested to Joshua as the way for him to make himself successful and prosperous.

Meditation has become a practice that is almost barely used in Christianity. In fact the world has taken meditation and trivialized it to become a worldly concept with an almost evil connotation. However, just because the world has trivialized meditation this does not mean it is something that should be removed from Christianity. (The world has also trivialized music, but as we know, music is something that was created in heaven!)

Nevertheless, believe it or not, meditation is actually used in Christian churches more than we realize. Every time a congregation is directed by a leader to repeat a certain phrase, especially when the people are asked to repeat the phrase over and over again, this is a form of meditation. When a preacher says the same phrase or idea to a congregation in more than one different ways, this is a form of getting the people to meditate on what they are being told. Meditation literally is the act of concentrating on and rehashing a concept or thought in order to reach a heightened level of awareness (almost at a subconscious level) so that the concept can automatically come back to your remembrance whenever necessary (in times when you're not "meditating"). 

Click Here to Read on to Part 2 of Christian Meditation
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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Benefit of Having God on Your Side

Studying the life of David, I became curious when I read that King Saul's ashes were buried under a Tamarisk Tree after He died. So, I did research to figure out what the significance of a tamarisk tree is when used in the bible and found it's a beautiful thing to those who are numbered among God's people.

Firstly, the tamarisk tree is only mentioned four times in the bible.
  1. Genesis 21:33 
  2. 1 Samuel 22:6 
  3. 1 Samuel 31:13 
  4. 1 Chronicles 10:12 
Now before I even mention the tamarisk tree's significance in the bible, let me explain the nature of the tamarisk. The tamarisk tree can  pretty much be described as a "selfish tree". With extremely deep roots, a tamarisk takes in about 1000 liters of water a day! This makes it hard to care for a tamarisk tree in the sense that it depletes the water supply for those in the region surrounding the tamarisk. Not only that, the leaves and branches of the tree cause for the ground surrounding it to be covered with a salty residue that disables other plants from growing around it! As if that weren't bad enough, this salt increases the risk of fire in the area where the tamarisk grows. However, the tamarisk not only survives such fires, but it also causes them to multiply being that hundreds of seeds PER TAMARISK TREE are now able to grow in a nitrogen/salt filled environment; suited for the growth of tamarisk trees. The only considerate thing that tamarisk's provide for non-tamarisk's is shade and nesting places for some species of birds.

So you see, when I say the tamarisk is a "selfish tree" what I'm saying is that it is hard for people or other plants to dwell in an area where tamarisk's are planted/growing. Yet, the same things that make it hard for others to dwell in that area are beneficial for the growth of tamarisks. This is interesting in the sense that the first reference of the tamarisk was in Genesis 21 when Abraham planted one. This comes after Abraham had lied to Abimelech and told him that his wife was his sister. The bible says Abimelech "took" Abraham's wife and God came to him in a dream and said "Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”

Abimelech had no idea that Sarah was Abraham's wife and it was because of Abraham's dishonesty that Abimelech had taken Sarah in the first place! Nevertheless, you see God selfishly preparing an environment for His own people to dwell seemingly having no real remorse for the lives of the people around them. 

God then says to Abimelech in the dream:
 “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.  Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
Fearing his life, Abimelech follows God's orders and goes down to meet Abraham. Now 2 things should be noted here:
  1. Abimelech was a king in that region; THE king of that region
  2. And Abraham had come into HIS TERRITORY; not the other way around
Nevertheless, when Abimelech went down to Abraham (following God's orders), Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech and then planted the tamarisk tree. This signifies that this region is now on God's side and Abimelech (and his people) are now, by association, a part of the favored clique that is God's people. This is similar to the way the tamarisk tree provides a safe dwelling environment only for other tamarisk's and some species of selected animals. It is way better to be on the side of the tamarisks than it is to be consumed by their very presence!

On the flip side, in the last three instances where the tamarisk tree is mentioned, this is when King Saul was trying to kill future King David. First Saul is sitting under a tamarisk right before murdering all of God's priests. Then, when Saul finally dies in war His ashes are buried under a tamarisk tree (the three scriptures where this takes place are the last three scriptures listed above). As we know, Saul wasn't exactly favored by God in either of these instances. This signifies the negative aspects of being around a tamarisk tree while not being one of the tamarisks. It is not beneficial.

Saul was trying to kill David the first time he is mentioned to be under a tamarisk. The mere mentioning of the tamarisk was a symbol of the fact that Saul was not going to prevail against God's favored servant. Since Saul was no longer numbered as one of God's people, being under a tamarisk only means that damage was inevitable for him. As suspected, Saul dies in war without ever harming David. Metaphorically, he is then burned and his ashes are buried under a tamarisk! Eerie...

So the mentioning of the tamarisk tree in the bible, shows God's loyalty and unmerited favor towards his people and those who his people are at peace with. Remember, the bible says that no weapon formed against you will ever prosper and every tongue that rises up against you will be condemned. You can rest assured that the battle is not yours; the battle is THE LORD'S and if the King of kings is on your side, victory is assured!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

E-Book: The Holy Spirit Series

It's finally here! The ARevelationRevolution Holy Spirit Blog Series has officially been turned into an E-Book! It's called The Holy Spirit Series and is available for you to download for free or read online for free. Please share this with others! Thank you for your continued support.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

What the Bible Says Your Purpose Is

You and I have never seen dinosaurs, right? Well, the reason why can possibly be explained by Genesis 1. The bible says in the beginning when the heavens and earth were created, the earth was without form, void and darkness was on the face of the deep. The word void here is not a noun and therefore cannot be defined by the noun's definition of the word; empty. It is an adjective. So we can apply the adj. definition of the word "void" to the way it was used in Genesis 1; useless, ineffectual or in vain. Meaning the earth had no purpose.

To further illustrate this let's look at the Hebrew Interlinear Bible. We know the old testament was originally written in Hebrew and was later translated into english. The literal translation of this line (from Hebrew to English) is as follows:
and·the·earth she-became chaos and·vacancy and·darkness over surfaces-of abyss  
Here, the verse says the earth became chaos. The earth was not made to have chaos. The literal Hebrew Bible says it became chaos. Now, how could there have been chaos on earth if nothing was on it? We know one thing: whatever was on the earth was not fulfilling the will and purpose of God because we saw Him give the earth a makeover so whatever He did purpose for the earth would come into fruition.
Now, when God created man, He gave Him 4 assignments.

  • Be fruitful and multiply
  • Fill the Earth
  • Subdue the Earth
  • Have Dominion over Every Living Thing 

Actually, the literal translation of the verse where God commands Adam of these things (Genesis 1:28), says be fruitful and increase, fill and subdue the earth and sway the animals. Now we automatically assume that God was telling Adam to have lots of children, but actually the word "increase" is not limited to expanding in kin. God was telling man to operate in abundance. Not just in family, but in prosperity and success. God didn't just want Adam to exist. He wanted Him to to add to the earth. He was telling man to fill and subdue the earth. Subdue means to overcome and bring under control. God did not want for chaos to abound the way it was before He created Adam. 

Now God could have done this task Himself, but He created man in His own image and likeness with the ability to add to the earth and to overcome and take dominion over it. It is your and my assignment for the will and glory of God. Satan Himself is the prince of this world (John 13:40). Nevertheless, God has given you the assignment to use your God-given authority to subdue (overcome and bring under control) the work's of darkness and the things of this world. This is your purpose. You have an assignment. Don't just exist for existing's sake lest you become useless for the will of God. Walk in Your God-given purpose!

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Is it a Sin for Christians to Drink Alcohol?

Is it a Sin for Christians to Drink Alcohol? This one is easy. My answer to that question, according to the bible, is a big "No". It is not a sin and here's why:

  • Jesus's first miracle was turning water into wine
  • Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to stop only drinking water and to drink some wine because of his stomach condition
  • In 1 Timothy 3 while Paul explains that a Bishop must be "not given to wine", he makes the distinction that a person in church with a lesser office (a deacon) must be "not given to much wine"
  • In Genesis 27:28 the blessing Isaac gives to his son Jacob is that God will give him the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth and plenty grain and wine
  • Wine is promised as a blessing/gift from God many, many times throughout the book of Deuteronomy
Throughout the Bible, the only time drinking is mentioned as a sin is when a person is being referred to as drunk with wine. But is the actual act of drinking (without getting drunk) a sin? According to the bible, no.

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Is it a Sin to get a Tattoo?

The only verse in the bible that actually makes mention of tattoos being a sin is Leviticus 19:28 where the word of God says:
You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.
Although many people use this as an argument against tattoos, I personally do not. That is because in the verses before and after this one there are some laws given which we break today all the time! For example verse 27 says:
You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.
Now we all know men, even preachers, who do this. Are they sinning every time they get a haircut? 

This chapter in Leviticus also says we are supposed to observe the Sabbath. Christians don't do that nowadays. Unless we agree that men shouldn't shave or that we must honor the Sabbath, etc. it is hypocritical to use Leviticus 19:28 as a means of telling people not to get tattoos.
However, this is what I always tell people when they ask me if getting a tattoo is a sin (especially people who go to church). It is always going to be hard for tattoos to be accepted in church for cultural reasons. In time past, tattoos were most widely recognized as being associated with Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, culture (etc.). All of which had religious beliefs and ceremonial practices that were not Christian. 

Tattoos got introduced to Anglo-Saxon culture when American settlers came in contact with the culture of Native Americans. Once again, their religion was different from the Christian religion. So you can see how getting tattoos could easily have been something that passed down through Christian generations as an act of going against your own religion (and into someone else's). So even if you wanted a tattoo for innocent reasons, this is why people with traditional Christian values always saw it as being wrong.
Here's the bible scripture(s) I always tell to people who want tattoos (or who want to engage in anything that they think is not that big of a deal while others think its a sin). Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
Here Paul is saying, it is not a sin to eat meat even though many people believe so due to the old laws given in the Old Testament. However, he says a Christian who is new to the faith might not understand how and why it is not a sin. Whereby, he will follow you in eating meat, but will have a guilty conscience about it, while your conscience is free. See, Paul explains in Romans 14:23 that whoever eats meat with a guilty conscience is actually sinning because they believe it is a sin yet choose to do it anyway. He says:
But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

So even if your conscience is free because you know eating meat or getting a tattoo or working on the Sabbath or not shaving are Old Testament laws for when people were under the law, a person who does not know that will follow you. However, because they are following you thinking they are doing something wrong, their own decision to do what they think is wrong is an act of "sin" according to the bible; even if it is not really wrong! The rebelliousness against their own guilty conscience is what is judged as wrong.

So Paul puts it best in Romans 14:19-22 when he says this:

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Food for thought :-)

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