Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Marriage Questions

Hey Creekside . . . thanks again for your questions.  Each week you honor me when you choose to text or e-mail your questions from Sunday's teaching.  Here are a couple that came in.

Q. How old were Mary & Joseph when they got married?  

A.  We really don't know, however the tradition of the day was for a man to be much older that the woman.  A man in Jewish tradition entered manhood around 13, but was considered "marriage material" around 30.  Usually he had to have his own home and property, but not always.  This means Joseph was probably in his late twenties or early thirties.  

Women were married much younger, usually in their teens, so Mary could have been somewhere in the 15 to 18 age range. There is a very practical reason for this, as childbirth was difficult and took many lives.  Also, large families were needed to work the agrarian culture the Jewish people lived in.  Large families meant more workers and a more prosperous family business.  So, all in all being a was pretty tough and it wasn't uncommon for a man to have several wives. 

Q. When would a young man report to the census rather than being claimed by his father?

Again, a man would have to be on his own to report to the census.  Also, no one was "claimed" on a census.  Taxes then were not like ours.  A man was taxed on the value of his estate, regardless of how big his family was or even how much money he made.  There were no deductions or claims.  The goal of the Roman Government was to get as much money as possible out of the jewish people, or any people they conquered.

It actually makes you appreciate our American system of government, which not only takes into account your personal expenses, such a medical and family size, but also allows you to deduct your tithe and gifts to the church and other charitable organizations. American has some things wrong with her for sure, but she also has a lot right with her.

Just a thought . . .
Thanks again for your questions.  Next Sunday we'll talk about how to give some incredibly valuable gifts that will not cost you a dime.  They're some great Christmas ideas as we continue with the "Advent Conspiracy"
See you then,

Monday, December 08, 2008

Two More "Dragon" Questions

Last week we finished up our "Dealing with Dragons" series having to do with the addictions in our life. As usual, we got a couple questions from Sunday's teaching, which I really enjoy.

Q. You used the scripture from James about being "double-minded". What does it mean to be "double-minded"?

A. The verses you are referring to are from James 4:7-8, which say, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.(NIV)

The primary point I made from these verses is that we cannot resist temptation, so the Bible teaches us to resist the devil. If we try to resist temptation, we will always fail, because temptation deals with our immagination. It is like telling someone not to think about zebras. They will of course, always think about them. But when we realize the source of the temptation and resist the devil, we will win.

To be double-minded, literally means to be of "two minds". In the context of these verses, James is telling us that we can't be of a mind to serve God and at the same time choose to give into temptation. We need to make up our minds and become of one mind. A double-minded person simply hasn't made up their mind to do what verse seven and eight are commanding him to do.

Q. 2 Can you explain a little more about the verse in I Corinthians dealing with temptation?

A. Sure. The verse you are referring to is 1 Cor 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (NIV)

This verse is good news because it first tells us that the devil cannot read our mind, because it says we are tempted by what is "common to man", which means the devil does not tempt us specifically according to our weaknesses. There are some general things that the devil will tempt us with, then he will watch to see where we fall, and then hit us there again.

It also says that God is faithful and will never allow us to be tempted above what we can handle, which tells us that God does know us well. God will also make sure that every time we are tempted, He will give us a way of excape, or a way out. If we take the escape route, we will continue to confuse the enemy and our temptation battle will be won.

So the choice is ours, as to whether we give in or not. We can no longer use the excuse that the temptation was just too strong, because God has promised He will make sure it never is.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dragon Questions

Here are two questions from last Sunday's teaching on "Fatal Attractions".

Q. How does gambling fit into these fatal attractions?

A. Last week we heard two stories about drugs and alchohol and I identified six other fatal attactions that are found in addictive behavior. That is not to say there aren''t more, because there are. Almost anything can become a fatal attraction. Someone can be addicted to spending, money, video games, so certainly gambling can qualify as an addiction.

A gambling addiction is just as real as any other kind of addiction. I have talked with several people who deal with this dragon in their life. In some cases they have deeply hurt, not only themsleves, but their families as well. Consider the definition of addiction below and you will see that gambling, and many other behaviors, could become an addiction.

Defining Addiction: When a person compulsively and habitually devotes themselves excessively to a behavior, substance or relationship and is willing to sacrifice family, job, economic security and personal sanity that devotion becomes an addiction.

Q. How do you plan overcoming your food dragon?

A. Last week I mentioned that food is my drug of choice, hence the question above. Being a leader in God's kingdom means you get to learn and grow publicly. While this is not always fun, easy or enjoyable, it is true. I would like to say that I have a working plan in motion, but that is not the case. Unlike drugs and alcohol, someone cannot completely give up food, so it has to be dealt with in moderation.

I have, however; put a plan in motion. I have joined a support group, go to meetings and have sought out some personal accountability. I have also begun to list and ask some of the deeper questions that drive a food addiction.

I also took a deeper look at God's Word for help on this subject, and found the Bible has a lot to say, such as:
  • "You were bought with a price, so honor God with your body" I Cor. 6:20

  • "Everything is permittable, but don't be mastered by it . . ." I Cor. 6:12

  • "Your body is God's temble, don't destroy it" I Cor. 3:16

  • "Food does not bring us closer to God" I Cor. 8:8

  • "Whether you eat or drink, do it to God's glory" I Cor. 10:31

  • "Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony" Prov. 23:2

  • "Drunkards and gluttons become poor" Prov. 23:21

  • "It is not good to eat too much" Prov. 25:27

  • "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach . . " Phil. 3:19
The bottom line is that I know I cannot win against this dragon on my own. I need the help of the Spirit, some trusted brothers and God's grace just like anyone else.

I take solice in the fact that we at Creekside Church are not a group of people who have it all together. If we were I could never be this transparent with you.

We are a group of wounded people, choosing to follow the one who was wounded for us, inorder to expereince His healing. He was bruised so we can be healed. He took our pain so we can find our way out of the pain that would otherwise destroy us.

Jesus is the ultimate dragon slayer, and any victory we experience is just imitating His great win over the devil. We can, infact, never win outside of Christ's victory. So, battle on!

Thanks for your questions.