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    • "Lord, Give Me Back My Mouth!"
      By David Ettinger in David Ettinger's Blog
      One-Track Mind
      While listening to Voice of the Martyrs radio recently, I heard an extraordinary account of faith and devotion which gave me goosebumps.
      In the South Asian nation of Bangladesh, where Christian persecution is severe, Pastor Steven had been warned several times by Muslim extremists to cease preaching the Gospel. Though he knew the threats were real, Pastor Steven had a one-track mind; he lived for but one thing: to preach the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
      One day as Pastor Steven was riding his bicycle, he was ambushed by a group of fanatics and thrown to the ground. Within seconds his foes efficiently spewed their wrath upon the unarmed preacher. They shot him in the jaw, slit his throat, and stabbed him eleven times. Miraculously – and I do mean miraculously ­– Pastor Steven was alive. As he lay wallowing in his blood, he prayed. Surprisingly, he did not ask the Lord to spare his life. Rather, he prayed these words: “Lord, give me back my mouth.”
      You see, Pastor Steven was asking God to allow him to go on preaching. The bullet through the jaw damaged his mouth, and Pastor Steven was concerned that if he lived, he would not be able to speak. To him, losing the ability to preach the Gospel was akin to death. Now that’s a one-track mind!
      Reminiscent of Another Great Preacher
      Pastor Steven, who did recover his speech, reminds me of another great preacher who was threatened often, but refused to cease spreading the Gospel. In comparing himself to the “super apostles” the Corinthians were embracing, Paul said this:
      And that’s not even the most extraordinary part. Despite all of these hardships, Paul was still able to assert: “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (2 Corinthians 9:16). Like Pastor Steven, Paul had a one-track mind. He was created to preach the Gospel, and I can well imagine him, following one of his severe beatings, especially if he hadn’t the strength to speak, praying similarly to Pastor Steven: “Lord, give me back my mouth.”
      A Great Example for Us
      Both Paul and Pastor Steven felt “compelled” to do the thing they were created to do, and this despite vicious opposition. In the same way, God created you and me for a very specific purpose. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10: “For you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
      We may not be called to preach the Gospel in hostile areas, but all believers are to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness, into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Your calling may be to teach Sunday school, deliver meals to the needy, drive the elderly to doctor’s appointments, run a sound system at church, or simply show kindness to the strange neighbors everyone dislikes.
      Once you determine what it is God would have you do, I believe the Lord would have you do it faithfully, without compromise, and with a sense of being compelled, as were Paul and Pastor Steven. Pray for God to give you the resolve to say, “Woe to me if I do not (fill in the blank).” Ask God to give you a one-track mind for Him and His kingdom, that you may do that for which you were created, and to do it with fervency and conviction.
      And if you should ever be hindered in your kingdom work by persecution, fear, illness, or doubt, then take a page out of Pastor Steve’s book and pray, “Lord, give me back my hunger and ability to serve you with all of my heart, soul, and desire. Help me to be a Paul and a Pastor Steven!”
      Read more by David Ettinger: https://ettingerwriting.wordpress.com/
    • Listen Mirror
      By Ragamuffin_John in Ragamusings
      Ragamuffin in the mirror,
      who's the world's most careful hearer? "You!  When you are all by yourself. Why not when with someone else?"   Today, my conscience talked back loud and clear.  Why not not?  Even David talked to his soul.  Well, I don't want to get too deep into self-examination other than to ask, can I really blame it on the ADD of life when I am not listening?  This is becoming like blaming Bush for everything.  Like most, I don't have the diagnosis.  Just what feels like a heavy competition for priorities.   This is becoming a more important question to me as I start to see the years fly by.  Hearing is now high on my list of spiritual barometers.  Verses like, "Hear, oh Israel", "Faith comes by hearing" loom large.     Maybe I'm aware I've confused works as some kind of balance or anecdote for an irrelevant faith life.  But these would be a false paradigms.  True faith must out of its own accord, like a sprout that bursts through the hard soil of life.     So where have I been that I have not been effectively listening in some arenas?     I can see where I have been negligent to rest.  That makes hearing hard; when we're fatigued we get inward-driven.  Ah, the wisdom of Sabbath!     I think, too, that superimposing my thoughts over others' words is a way to deal with pain.  I don't know why, but it's there.  I don't have time to determine causes.  I need to let the discomforts come so that I can learn to comfort others with the comfort with which I have been comforted--by Jesus.   So mirror, I'll check you later.  I hope to hear a good report.
    • Gender is Not a Social Construct
      By ksquaker in GOD SQUAD
      I read a story on parenting a few years ago.  It was eye opening to say the least.
      A mom and a dad wanted to start a family.  They wanted to raise their child in a better way than they had experienced.  The parents wanted to raise their child to have better choices free from social norms that they considered harmful in our world.  This all sounded fine and dandy until I read their plan.
      You see, they believe that society imposes certain gender norms on people.  And these norms make us who we are.  Biology has nothing to do with it.  Boys are wrapped in blue blankets and girls are wrapped in pink blankets at the hospital.  We are all hapless victims of circumstance and society after that.  Boys play with toy guns and girls play with dolls.  This forms us.  Boys take wood shop in school while girls take home economics.  This determines who you are.  All of these social constructs are then forced down on the individual child and that is what makes us a guy or a gal.  We become products of our environment and mirror the social norms around us.
      The couple has a child and launch out on their parenting plan.  From this point on, the story reads more like a strange sociology experiment.  They give their child a gender neutral name.  They dress their child in neutral clothes, so that it could decide if it wanted to be a boy or girl.  They give their child a neutral haircut or hair style, so that it can have the freedom to choose its own gender.  You see the parents are just waiting for the child to tell the parents how it wants to be raised, known, and identified.  Will the child play with boys or girls on the playground at school?  They will stay out of the way until the individual child makes a decision.
      This libertine parenting method struck me as very odd.  Why would these parents purposefully keep truth from their own child?  If there is no truth from mom and dad, what kind of life will this kid endure?  What other choices are they leaving up to their child?  Why wouldn’t they try to help, protect, and actually raise their kid?
      A laissez-faire approach to life can only get you so far without dramatic consequences.  I am personally grateful that my parents taught me that fire is hot, some snakes are poisonous, and to come in from the rain.  That sounds ridiculous, but so is laissez-faire parenting.  Perhaps it is best to share the truth with those that we love.  Living in the example of Jesus, wouldn’t that be a better way?
      Part of that truth is that we are made in the image of God.  Psalm 139:14 declares, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . .”  Each life is a wonderful masterpiece made by our Creator, the Living God.  God does not make garbage.  While people may question who they are or why they are here, they always bear the fingerprint of the Master.
      God made us male and female.  Pointing to Genesis 1:27 is not bigotry, but science.  Our DNA is unique from our parents.  Gender is determined immediately upon fertilization or when life begins. The 23rd pair of chromosomes will establish the sex of a baby.  Biology, not feelings or childhood toys, determines our gender.
      We are all called to honor God with our body.  This means living in purity.  This is accomplished by upholding fidelity in marriage and upholding chastity outside of marriage.  We need to be aware of potential temptations and be transparent with those who hold us accountable.  This is also where parents need to speak truth to their children.  A laissez-faire parenting plan in this arena is reckless and harmful.  Teach your kids what is right, don’t ignore the truth.  Scripture calls us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” and to be “transformed by the renewing of your minds” Romans 12:1-2.  Heaven help us all to live by this standard.
      As the bathroom wars of 2016 go on, let us remember to speak the truth to those we love.  Let us also remember that parenting is a ministry of the heart that deserves our very best and sharing what we know is never the wrong answer.
      By simplyrhetorical in simplyrhetorical
      The point of this article is not to open up the different categories of the marriage subject, but to bring awareness of how important the marriage contract is to God.

      One of the difficult things in life is adjusting to life itself.  There is a continual evolving of every aspect of life.  Change is everywhere.  If one does not readily adapt to the engine of change, he will become a caboose seeing only the past as it fades from his eyes.  Change is usually initiated when something does not work, or is not as effective as it used to be.  Change is looking for something that might expand ones appreciation of life.  Change influences every aspect of life: things like apparel, language, literature, entertainment, relationships, values, politics, and even religion.  Change is usually initiated by a minority of individuals that are dedicated to expanding the definition of life.  They are willing to push the envelope and, through shock and awe, will influence the masses to launch out into the realm of endless possibilities.  Change will rapidly approach the eyes and ears of the unexpecting and gullible public.  Not all change is bad, but whenever it challenges God’s plan and purpose, it becomes an instrument of division.
      When we think of marriage, we immediately think of God and His desire to join man and woman together as one.  It is a lifetime contract that couples enter into with each other.  They make their promises to one another and to God.  Are the vows that are made just words or are they truly life long promises that will be honored to “death do us part?”  Today, three out of five marriage partners end up in breaking their vows and promises to each other and God.  What is so shocking is that Christians are part of these negative statistics.  Believers expect God to fulfill His promises, while some rationalize away their broken promises to Him! 
      One day, a group of Pharisees confronted Jesus with a question that would either bring Him into opposition to the Pentateuch or show His Scriptural ignorance.  The question was simply, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?”  Jesus responded by asking what their take was on the subject.  They unanimously claimed that Moses supported Divorce. (Mark 10:2-13)  Jesus’ response was that because of man’s hardened heart, God had Moses put into the Law that the only cause of divorce was sexual impurity. (Deuteronomy 24:1)  It would seem that before this, it was permitted that a man could send his wife away for any reason.  So God said enough is enough and a “bill of divorcement” was instituted.  Jesus would reiterate the Law by saying, “Whosoever will put away his wife, except it be for fornication…” (Matthew 19:9)  To show how seriously God looks at marriage, Jesus stated that anyone who divorces his wife and she then remarries, causes her to be guilty of adultery, and not only that, but whoever marries her is also guilty of adultery. (Matthew 20:9)  I wonder how many newly married Christians have underlined these verses in their Bibles.  The wind of change has affected marriage to the point that the term is becoming archaic.  Unity without God’s oversight will continue to focus on the temporary.  If anyone of the contract partners chooses to cancel his covenant, it is a hop skip and jump to “freedom.”  The “I do” changes to “I don’t!”  Also, officiating at the marriage ceremony is open to anyone with a simple license to perform a secular or religious ceremony.  Pastors have even crossed the gender lines in performing unions that God does not acknowledge.  How can a Pastor, who stands as a representative of God, lead a non-Christian couple into making a sacred covenant that they don’t understand, and will not think twice about breaking?  As our generation continues to pursue an ever changing agenda, let us continue to follow the One who never changes. 

    • Did Moses Grow Horns? (Qeren, Qaran)
      By Harry Golemon in Biblical Word Studies - Goldtmann
      During the 16th century, a very famous painter, architect, poet and sculptor carved out a statue of Moses with two horns on his head.  This person is well known for his sculpture of David, his painting of the creation of Adam, and his amazing paintings in the Sistine Chapel.  His name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.  So how did this renowned person come about creating a sculpture of Moses with horns? 
      The answer lies in the translation of the Hebrew Bible during the time of Michelangelo, which was in the Latin Vulgate.  The scripture of interest follows:
      “Cumque descenderet Moyses de monte Sinai, tenebat duas tabulas testimonii, et ignorabat quod cornuta [horns] esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Domini”  Exodus 34:35 LV  [Emphasis mine]
      The Latin Vulgate was completed in the late 4th century and for about a thousand years, Europeans thought Moses came down from the mountain with horns.  A Middle English version of the Bible, written by John Wycliffe, in approximately 1395 A.D. translated the verse as follows:
      “And whanne Moises cam doun fro the hil of Synai, he helde twei tablis of witnessyng, and he wiste not that his face was horned of the felouschipe of Goddis word.” Exodus 34:35 Wycliffe 1395 [emphasis mine]
      It was not until Martin Luther and William Tyndale (1533) that the translation was corrected. 
      35 And the childern of Israel sawe the face of Moses, that the skynne of his face shone with beames: but Moses put a couerynge vppon his face, vntill he went in, to comen with him.
       [emphasis mine]
        The Old King James version of 1611 translates as follows:
      “And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skinne of Moses face shone: and Moses put the vaile vpon his face againe, vntill hee went in to speake with him.”  Exodus 34:35 KJV 1611 [emphasis mine]
      How did we go from Moses having horns to his face shining?  The answer lies in the Ancient Hebrew verb used in this verse qaran,  קָרַ֔ן, and the noun version qeren, קָרַ֔ן.  Both words are spelled the same, but pronounced differently.  Ancient Hebrew was limited with approx. 7,500 words, so in some instances, the same word can have several different meanings.  In the case of qaran, it is defined as to shine, radiate, emit beams of light, send out rays, yet also means to display or grow horns. 
      (In case you are wondering, the Islamic book, Quran, which would have the same Hebrew letters, means to read.)
      As we have improved our translations of Ancient Hebrew, we now look at the form of the verb in the Bible to distinguish between to shine (simple form Qal), and to be horned (complex Hiphal form).  A Hiphal form shows up in Psalms 68:31 and is translated as horns, but I’m being led to see the verse can also mean shine, which will be another word study.
      After the error in translation was revealed, some continued to hold on the notion of Moses emitting rays of light in the form of horns as seen in paintings after Michelangelo’s time.   I spoke to a young lady about the translation issue, and learned this was one of her favorite versus, for she wants people to see an aura about her, that she has been with Jesus. 
      As I consider the whole translation issue, I am reminded that when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior, we have a light inside of us that shines, yet we are told not to cover it.
      “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 NKJV.
      As I contemplate the word qaran and the subject verse, I understand Moses was with God. His face physically showed it.  Whether he beamed rays of light in the shape of horns, or his face radiated or glowed, from my experiences with the Holy Spirit, I’m sure he was “beaming” on the inside and in awe, for he had been with God.  May we radiate the light of Jesus to others.

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