Read Numbers 15 – 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’ “
God tells Moses to tell the people that they are supposed to put tassels on the corners of their clothes so that they can be constantly reminded that they are supposed to live like God has told them to. Anyway, if you were a Jew in those days, you’d see people wearing these tassels all throughout the day and when you saw them, you remembered that you were one of God’s people.
The Hebrew word for “corners” is “kanaf” and the Hebrew word for “tassel” or “fringe” is “tzitzit.”
Many Jews wear a prayer shawl today in order to keep this commandment. The tassels today have 5 knots in them representing the 5 books of the Torah (Our first five books) and the four spaces between them represent the four letter for God’s name YHWH. Along the shawl there are also 613 knotted strings to remind them of the 613 laws of the torah.
Now check out Malachi 4 – But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.
The Hebrew word translated “wings” is “kanaf.” Now what do you think?? This means that the verse could be translated “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its ______.” (Tassels.)
Now because of this there was a legend that people began to believe about the coming Messiah which said that there would be some kind of mysterious almost magical healing powers in the tassels of his prayer shawl.
Now read Luke 8 – As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Pretty cool huh? Did you catch it? The woman believed the legend and actually touched Jesus’ “tzitzit,” His tassles, His “kanaf.” In her actions she was proclaiming that she believed He was the Messiah. This is why Jesus was so quick to say “Your faith has healed you!” Her action alone was a huge expression of faith.
I read a blog by Alan Danielson this morning that brings home a concept that’s been rolling around in my head for a while.
Here’s a quote: “Often we think that a great harvest is when masses make a decision for Christ, but Osborne (in his book, Sticky Church) challenges that mindset. Farmers don’t celebrate and call it ‘harvest’ when seeds sprout tiny green buds for the first time. It’s not ‘harvest’ until the plants have grown to maturity and produce fruit.”
Yes!! That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. The church has grown to be obsessed with hype and big events that engage people in first-time decisions. No, I’m not knocking first-time decisions. I’m just saying that all too often that’s also the end of our efforts. The farmer image captures it very well – the larger celebration should be at the end of the harvest and our efforts should be consistent throughout the growth process!
PS – If this one concept is this powerful, I need to read this book.
Miranda asked a simple question. “Where is Kasen?” I didn’t know. We had been home for a few hours from our vacation and were relaxing on the floor of the living room. Kasen had been right there with us just minutes before. We yelled for him. . . No answer or any noises from other parts of the house. We got up and started looking. There are only a couple of places he could be – the living room, the kitchen, his room, our room. (He can’t open doors yet and we keep the rest of them closed.) In a matter of seconds we had searched the whole house – panic was quick to follow. Miranda and I both were yelling his name. I checked behind the closed doors. And then the closets. Fear escalated. I remembered a story of a friend who had climbed in a trunk (Caylin Brashear) and I checked our trunk – then Kasen’s toybox. Miranda was screaming with a voice I had never heard. Shrieks. Her breathing had an unnerving “ohhh. . .” sound. She met me in the hall and screamed, “the pool.” Kasen loves the “poo” – maybe he could be there?.?. but logically, he couldn’t get the back door open. Could someone have come in the house and taken him? Could he have somehow gotten a door open? My mind raced. I was desperate. . .I ran outside slamming my face into the patio door. No. . .he wasn’t in the pool. . . Heart racing, I ran back inside.
Miranda was holding him and yelling to me that she found him. Evidently, he had been laying in his bed the whole time with his covers over his head. We had each been in his room multiple time during those moments. He likes to take Kesleigh’s binky and then run and hide getting his little oral fix ’cause he knows he’s not allowed to have one. Evidently, that’s what he had done and probably fallen asleep. Or maybe he didn’t answer our calls ’cause he was hiding.
Either way, it couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes total. But it was enough. Enough to realize how quickly things can go downhill. Enough to realize how great our love for our children is and how quickly it can turn into fear. This kind of experience changes a man.
As I look back on it I wonder, “Where was my faith during these moments? What happened to trusting in the Lord? Why did I panic so quickly?” I am a weak man. Sinful. Even at my best, I am still very frail. I need God.
Prayer: Lord, take care of my children. You have given them to me for a few years and I truly want to be a good steward. I want to be a great father and a good example. I want to protect them. I want to represent You to them. All of these things are noble thoughts, but the bottom line is that I can’t do any of these things near as well as You. Lord, cover them with Yourself. Protect them when I fail them. Hold them close and keep them safe. Lord, in the same moment that I pray for their protection, I also pray that You will ultimately use them in mighty ways. May they be arrows (Psalm 127) that break into enemy territory taking ground for Your kingdom. May they understand You and the strength they have in You so well that they are willing to follow You into situations that may even seem dangerous to others. May they be in Your hands at all times, with or without me, in every situation – that’s the safest place to be. AMEN.
Thought I’d put this up just in case anyone ever wants to go on a cool trip. Miranda and I would be happy to be the guinea pigs – you pay and we’ll go to Fiji to check this place out for you – and we’ll even take plenty of pictures and tell you all about it (or write up a report for you) so you wouldn’t miss out on the best things they have to offer. Any takers?
His 19-month-old finger pointed awkwardly at the bottom of his cereal bowl and he grunted to get my attention. Kasen has been daddy’s shadow lately. Everywhere I go, he’s just a step behind. Miranda’s says he’s “daddy’s little boy” right now and she laments that she doesn’t get to be the “hero” like me. I’m not sure I’m a very good hero, and I know my influence on him is a huge responsibility, but I must admit that I really enjoy watching him try to be “like daddy.” This morning, we went on our walk together and then he ate breakfast with me. He tried to do everything in exactly the same way he witnessed me doing it. He even sat facing me so he could see everything clearly.
As a disciple of Jesus, I think I could take a few lessons from my son. Do I follow Him as closely? Do I sit facing Him? Am I one step behind Him? Is He truly my “hero?” Is being “like Jesus” my highest priority?
I’m 9 Weeks into this whole weight loss/exercise/diet thing and I guess I hit a bump in the road. Last week I weighed 227.5lbs and this week I was back @ 230lbs. I don’t really think I gained 2.5 lbs. I think it has to do with when I weigh myself. I didn’t eat as well this past week (and I have no excuses – well, maybe I could blame Shana’s visit for one meal, but. . .well. . . that’s just me playing the “blame game” that I learned from my ancestors back in Genesis.) Anyway, I think there are probably gonna be weeks where I feel like I’m getting nowhere. This is one of them, but regardless of what the scales say, I can still say I feel better. I feel like I’m really doing well. I’ve been on the cholesterol medication for just over a month now and taking “fish oil” for about as long. The lifestyle change that I’m really seeking is well underway and it really hasn’t been as difficult as I had imagined. If I can just make my feet hit the floor in the mornings, then after that, the exercise part comes easy. Eating better will always be difficult, but I’m finding more things that I enjoy that are “healthy.” (By the way, Miranda made some great pork chops last night!)
These are things we should all think about every now and then.
As you think about your personal vision…
What one thing bothers you most about the world?
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what one thing would you pursue for God?
What do you tend to pray for the most?
What gives you energy?
What have you secretly believed you would be really good at if only you were given a chance?
What do others say that you are good at? That you are not good at? (Have you asked lately?)
What projects or accomplishments, though probably unnoticed by others, created a deep sense of satisfaction on your life’s journey? What projects or accomplishments from grade school years, high school, college and early career?
What would you want people saying about you at your funeral? State three words that reflect “who you were.” State three words that reflect “what you accomplished.”
Who are your heroes? Why do you admire them? Who have you wanted to emulate or spend time with but have not been able to?
As you read notice that I have inserted a few of my own comments (in blue). I’m hoping that they will help you to understand what you’re reading a bit more.
1 This is God’s Message to Hosea son of Beeri. It came to him during the royal reigns of Judah’s kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This was also the time that Jeroboam son of Joash was king over Israel. This Whole Country Has Become a Whorehouse
2 The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:
“Find a whore and marry her.
Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here’s why: This whole country
has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.”
What?? God wants Hosea to marry a prostitute? Yep – you read that right. Hosea is a godly man. He is a prophet. Why would God want him to marry a prostitute? . . . Well, here’s the deal – God wants to show Israel (His chosen people) how much he loves them. God loves them even though they are chasing after false gods and doing things that don’t honor him. Israel is acting like a prostitute. God is gonna use Hosea as an example – He’s asking Hosea to love someone who doesn’t love him back. Kinda like the way God loves us.
3 Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She got pregnant and gave him a son.
4-5 Then God told him:
“Name him Jezreel. It won’t be long now before
I’ll make the people of Israel pay for the massacre at Jezreel.
I’m calling it quits on the kingdom of Israel.
Payday is coming! I’m going to chop Israel’s bows and arrows
into kindling in the valley of Jezreel.”
6-7 Gomer got pregnant again. This time she had a daughter. God told Hosea:
“Name this one No-Mercy. I’m fed up with Israel.
I’ve run out of mercy. There’s no more forgiveness.
Judah’s another story. I’ll continue having mercy on them.
I’ll save them. It will be their God who saves them,
Not their armaments and armies,
not their horsepower and manpower.”
8-9 After Gomer had weaned No-Mercy, she got pregnant yet again and had a son. God said:
“Name him Nobody. You’ve become nobodies to me,
and I, God, am a nobody to you.
OK – So now Hosea is married to a prostitute and he has 3 kids. Here are their names:
Jezreel (which recalls a sad event in Israel’s history)
Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”)
Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people” – some scholars believe that this was not Hosea’s son but one whose had been fathered by one of Gomer’s customers.)
Whoa – talk about a dysfunctional family!!!
10“But down the road the population of Israel is going to explode past counting, like sand on the ocean beaches. In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God’s Somebody. 11Everybody in Judah and everybody in Israel will be assembled as one people. They’ll choose a single leader. There’ll be no stopping them—a great day in Jezreel!”
1In that day you will call your brothers Ammi—‘My people.’ And you will call your sisters Ruhamah—‘The ones I love.’ (NLT)
So now it sounds like theirs is gonna be a time when things are gonna be better. Maybe God is hinting that there is gonna be a happy ending to this whole thing.
Now – the next section lists God’s charges against Israel and Hosea’s charges against Gomer (his prostitute wife) I’ll warn you it gets pretty graphic.
2-13 “Haul your mother into court. Accuse her!
She’s no longer my wife.
I’m no longer her husband.
Tell her to quit dressing like a whore,
displaying her breasts for sale. 3If she refuses, I’ll rip off her clothes
and expose her, naked as a newborn.
I’ll turn her skin into dried-out leather,
her body into a badlands landscape,
a rack of bones in the desert. 4I’ll have nothing to do with her children,
born one and all in a whorehouse. 5Face it: Your mother’s been a whore,
bringing bastard children into the world.
She said, ‘I’m off to see my lovers!
They’ll wine and dine me,
Dress and caress me,
perfume and adorn me!’ 6But I’ll fix her: I’ll dump her in a field of thistles,
then lose her in a dead-end alley. 7She’ll go on the hunt for her lovers
but not bring down a single one.
She’ll look high and low
but won’t find a one. Then she’ll say,
‘I’m going back to my husband, the one I started out with.
That was a better life by far than this one.’ 8She didn’t know that it was I all along
who wined and dined and adorned her,
That I was the one who dressed her up
in the big-city fashions and jewelry
that she wasted on wild Baal-orgies. 9I’m about to bring her up short: No more wining and dining!
Silk lingerie and gowns are a thing of the past. 10I’ll expose her genitals to the public.
All her fly-by-night lovers will be helpless to help her. 11Party time is over. I’m calling a halt to the whole business,
her wild weekends and unholy holidays. 12I’ll wreck her sumptuous gardens and ornamental fountains,
of which she bragged, ‘Whoring paid for all this!’
They will soon be dumping grounds for garbage,
feeding grounds for stray dogs and cats. 13I’ll make her pay for her indulgence in promiscuous religion—
all that sensuous Baal worship
And all the promiscuous sex that went with it,
stalking her lovers, dressed to kill,
And not a thought for me.”
She did all this stuff and never even thought about her husband. Remember: Israel was doing this stuff to God too. Have you ever gotten so caught up in what you were doing that you didn’t even think about God? Have you ever decided to do something that you knew you shouldn’t do and ignored God?
Now go back and read verse 8 again. Notice that even when we’re misbehaving, it’s God who is allowing it. Even in our sin, God loves us. (Check Romans 5:8)
This next section describes how much Hosea loves Gomer in spite of how bad she has treated him. (God loves his people in the same way.)
To Start All Over Again
14“And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her. 15I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.
Wow!! The day will come when he’s gonna take her back to where they first dated and remind her of how good he has been to her. He will remind her of the life they had together before she ran off and got into the whole mess.
16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’[g] 17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
and you will never mention them again. 18 On that day I will make a covenant
with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
in peace and safety. 19 I will make you my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion. 20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord. 21 “In that day, I will answer,”
says the Lord.
“I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds.
And the sky will answer the earth with rain. 22 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries
of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees.
And they in turn will answer,
‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’ 23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
and raise them for myself.
I will show love
to those I called ‘Not loved.’
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’
I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”
When things get better between Hosea and Gomer, everyone else will benefit too. Their kids (Jezreel, “not loved,” and “not my people”) will become blessed again too.
In Time They’ll Come Back
1 Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife.
Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people,
even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.”
2I did it. I paid good money to get her back.
It cost me the price of a slave. 3Then I told her, “From now on you’re living with me.
No more whoring, no more sleeping around.
You’re living with me and I’m living with you.”
4 The people of Israel are going to live a long time
stripped of security and protection,
without religion and comfort,
godless and prayerless. 5But in time they’ll come back, these Israelites,
come back looking for their God and their David-King.
They’ll come back chastened to reverence
before God and his good gifts, ready for the End of the story of his love.
This last section is my favorite. Check out verse 2, “I did it. I paid good money to get her back. It cost me the price of a slave.”
Whoa! Imagine that scene. He loved her, cherished her, took care of her, and provided for her. She runs off and becomes a prostitute. She get into all kinds of junk. Lives a party lifestyle – lots of different men, lots of hotel rooms, lots of drinking and drugs. She finally hits bottom and is being sold as a slave on an auction block. Probably stripped naked and standing in front of a crowd of people, she is being sold to the highest bidder – and no one is bidding. No one wants her.
Then, from somewhere in the back of the crowd, she hears a voice, “I’ll take her.” She sees the crowd begin to part as the stranger makes his way to the front.
Her eyes meet the face of the man she ignored and treated so badly. It’s Hosea. In her horrible broken condition, he buys his own wife back. He takes her just as she is. He loves her just as she is. We know he’s planning on taking her back to the place they first dated – reminding her of they life together and his amazing love, care, & protection.
The story of Hosea’s love for Gomer is also the story of God’s love for us. We are the prostitute. He is the lover. It doesn’t matter how bad things have gotten or how far you’ve gone away from God. It doesn’t matter what kinds of things you’re into or how bad things have gotten. God loves you just as you are. He has paid the price (His own’ son’s blood) to have you back. He has redeemed you from your old life.
“What if church planters quit planting churches and instead planted church “practices?” Like a doctor’s practice, I believe the church shouldn’t be about building some institution, but about practicing the faith that has been given to them. It should be about “being” the church – not about building the church. The analogy breaks down in the sense that at a doctor’s practice, the only one “practicing” is the doctor. The church should be a place where everyone is “practicing” – maybe more like the imagery of the doctor’s “clinic” on Patch Adams. Everyone was a patient (in need of something), but everyone was also a “doctor” who helped others – sometimes he helped by listening, or by picking up trash, or whatever, but he contributed to the health of someone else and that made him a “doctor” by Patch’s definition.
I think these are important ideas for church planters. If a planter begins his ministry working to build/grow a church, then things are going to get really confusing – think about it – everyone has a different idea about what a church should be. And everyone has a different need that they want to see met by the institutional church. Instead, if the planter works to “be” the church and works to equip others to “practice” their faith, then won’t that church naturally become whatever it’s supposed to be? If each member is doing the ministry that God has called him to, then when they are assembled, it wouldn’t be about building the institution, but simply about celebrating the things God has been doing throughout the week.
This was just a random thought I had in the car today. I thought it was worth sharing.