No flesh should glory in His presence. —1 Corinthians 1:29
Legend has it that Michelangelo painted with a brush in one hand and a candle in the other to prevent his shadow from covering his masterpiece in progress.
That’s the kind of attitude we should adopt if we are serious about wanting to display the masterpiece of God’s glory on the canvas of our lives. Unfortunately, we tend to live in a way that draws attention to ourselves—our cars, our clothes, our careers, our position, our cleverness, our success. And when life is all about us, it’s hard for people to see Jesus in us. Jesus saved us to be reflections of His glory (Rom. 8:29), but when we live for ourselves, our shadow gets cast on the canvas of His presence in us.
When the believers in Corinth were feeling too full of themselves, Paul warned them “that no flesh should glory [boast] in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:29), and reminded them of what Jeremiah said, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31; Jer. 9:24).
Think of your life as a canvas on which a picture is being painted. What would you rather have people see: the masterpiece of the presence of Jesus or the shadow of your own profile? Don’t get in the way of a great painting in progress. Live to let others see Jesus in you.
My life is a painting created by God, And as such I’ve nothing to boast; Reflecting the image of Christ to the world Is what I desire the most. —Sper
A Christian’s life is the canvas on which others can see Jesus.
When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision”—not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ.Acts 26:16 is tremendously compelling “. . . to make you a minister and a witness . . . .” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
This Torah portion for this week, Beshalach, is from Exodus 13:7–17:16 and Judges 4:4–5:31.
The children of Israel were not out of Egypt very long when they faced their next enemy: The nation of Amalek. In describing the battle that took place, the Bible explains that as long as Moses had his hands up, the Israelites were winning, but when his hands came down, the battle favored the Amalekites. How can it be that the course of the battle was determined by the motions of Moses’ hands?
The Sages explain that Moses’ hands weren’t responsible for the tide of the battle; the people’s hearts were. And their hearts were connected to the hands of Moses. When his hands were up, they looked up — literally and figuratively — to God as their hope and savior. When his hands were down, their faith faltered. Without faith, no amount of arrows in the world could penetrate the enemy of Amalek.
You see, Amalek was not like any other nation, and this battle was not just any other battle. Amalek represented the biblical paradigm for evil in the world. More specifically, the nation of Amalek symbolizes a “godless world,” where things happen randomly and there is no such thing as reward and punishment. In a godless world, anything goes and anything can happen. We are at the mercy of the role of the dice.
Further, Jewish tradition teaches that the numeric value of the word ‘Amalek’ is the same as the Hebrew word for ‘doubt.’ This is because the godlessness of Amalek makes us doubt the existence of God and His involvement in our lives.
This is why the battle against Amalek had to be fought with faith: It could only be won with faith. The antidote to the evil espoused by Amalek is the faith taught and lived by Israel. Tradition teaches that Amalek and Israel will be locked in battle until the end of time. Amalek says God is nowhere; Israel says God is everywhere. The two ideas are mutually exclusive, and only one nation will emerge victorious.
The battle between Amalek and Israel rages on today, only it’s a spiritual fight, fought in the deep recesses of our minds and hearts. Rabbi Chanina Bar Chama, a Talmudic Sage in the third century, used to say, “No person hurts his little finger, without it having been first ordered from Above.” He taught that God’s Providence extends to every detail of our lives on earth and nothing happens without His knowledge. The more we integrate this message into our everyday lives, the more we will weaken the remnant of Amalek. When our faith is complete, we will have finished the battle that began with Moses and ends with each and every one of us.
|On Gun Control|
|Back in 2009, Columnist and National Review Online Editor Jonah Goldbergh commented on then Obama administration’s now immortalized guiding principle.
The real scandal is that this administration thinks crises are opportunities for governmental power-grabs…”
True enough for the administration, but this principle has defined the anti-gun lobby’s response to the Sandy Hook tragedy. But no, ‘tragedy’ is not the right word. Sandy Hook was shockingly heinous – an atrocity, an act of almost unimaginable evil.
It was a crisis of humanity.
And thus it was an event to be exploited for political purpose.
The days immediately following the Sandy Hook shooting saw public figures like Michael Moore, whom no one would accuse of being an objective thinker, calling for greater gun control laws.
Then, a group of A-list celebs released a video on YouTube to “Demand a Plan” for gun control.
Now the most recent champion for the gun control advocates has been CNN’s host from the motherland, Piers Morgan. Morgan relies heavily on his British accent and his innate ability to interrupt any guest who won’t help him make his point to articulate his dislike for “military-style assault weapons.”
Anti-gun legislators have caused an uproar by introducing legislation that would regulate certain semi-automatic weapons and magazines of greater capacity than they deem necessary.
The President’s own record on the 2nd Amendment, including expressed support for an assault rifle ban AND a handgun ban sent firearm enthusiasts scurrying to pick up any gun they could get their hand on.
As a budding gun hobbyist, I had my eye on one of those possessed pieces of steel known as AR15s before the panicked gun control conversations started. I then watched virtually every AR and AR part on the market dry up.
One thing is certain. No matter whether new laws controlling the purchase of semi-automatic rifles is ever passed, this panic has led to a much better armed American populace.
In the follow paragraphs, the invaluable Thomas Sowell pulls apart Mr. Morgan’s favorite argument for gun control – namely, that there is less gun crime in England due to gun control laws.
“If we are serious about the role of guns and gun control as factors in differing rates of violence between countries, then we need to do what history professor Joyce Lee Malcolm does — examine the history of guns and violence. In England, as she points out, over the centuries ‘violent crime continued to decline markedly at the very time that guns were becoming increasingly available.’
England’s Bill of Rights in 1688 was quite unambiguous that the right of a private individual to be armed was an individual right, independently of any collective right of militias. Guns were as freely available to Englishmen as to Americans, on into the early 20th century.
Nor was gun control in England a response to any firearms murder crisis. Over a period of three years near the end of the 19th century, ‘there were only 59 fatalities from handguns in a population of nearly 30 million people,’ according to Professor Malcolm. ‘Of these, 19 were accidents, 35 were suicides and only three were homicides — an average of one a year.’
The rise of the interventionist state in early 20th century England included efforts to restrict ownership of guns. After the First World War, gun control laws began restricting the possession of firearms. Then, after the Second World War, these restrictions grew more severe, eventually disarming the civilian population of England — or at least the law-abiding part of it.
It was during this period of severe restrictions on owning firearms that crime rates in general, and the murder rate in particular, began to rise in England. ‘As the number of legal firearms have dwindled, the numbers of armed crimes have risen,’ Professor Malcolm points out.
In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s, there were more than a hundred times as many. In England, as in the United States, drastic crackdowns on gun ownership by law-abiding citizens were accompanied by ever greater leniency to criminals. In both countries, this turned out to be a formula for disaster.
While England has not yet reached the American level of murders, it has already surpassed the United States in rates of robbery and burglary. Moreover, in recent years the murder rate in England has been going up under still more severe gun control laws, while the murder rate in the United States has been going down as more and more states have allowed private citizens to carry concealed weapons — and have begun locking up more criminals.
In both countries, facts have no effect whatever on the dogmas of gun control zealots. The fact that most guns used to murder people in England were not legally purchased has no effect on their faith in gun control laws there, any more than faith in such laws here is affected by the fact that the gun used by the recent Beltway snipers was not purchased legally either.
In England as in America, sensational gun crimes have been seized upon and used politically to promote crackdowns on gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, while doing nothing about criminals. American zealots for the Brady bill say nothing about the fact that the man who shot James Brady and tried to assassinate President Reagan has been out walking the streets on furlough.”
But, the next liberal bullet point states, why does anyone need thirty round magazines?
The answer? Math.
The demonized AR15 launches a .223 caliber projectile. For the unitiated, that’s closer to the size of a .177 caliber BB than it is to the size of .380 caliber pistol round which is considered by many to be the smallest desirable bullet for self defense. For the really unitiated, that is smaller in diameter than a number 2 pencil.
Of course, a.223 round has much more powder behind it and a higher velocity, than a BB or most pistol rounds, but size does matter in ballistics.
I again rely upon Sowell to make my point:
“Anyone who faces three home invaders, jeopardizing himself or his family, might find 30 bullets barely adequate. After all, not every bullet hits, even at close range, and not every hit incapacitates. You can get killed by a wounded man.
These plain life-and-death realities have been ignored for years by people who go ballistic when they hear about how many shots were fired by the police in some encounter with a criminal. As someone who once taught pistol shooting in the Marine Corps, I am not the least bit surprised by the number of shots fired. I have seen people miss a stationary target at close range, even in the safety and calm of a pistol range.”
Not to get too gruesome, but one hole that small is not likely to immediately incapacitate an attacker.
I recall reading a news story of a young man who heard gun shots. As he ran away, he felt like he was punched in the shoulder, but it wasn’t until he stopped running that he realized his punch in the shoulder was, in fact, a gunshot wound from a stray bullet.
We owe Hollywood for the idea that being pierced by one fast-flying, spit ball sized piece of lead immediately kills a 180 pound human being.
The fact is, the only way gun control could ever work is if we could snap our fingers and make every firearm disappear. Of course this still wouldn’t eliminate violence or murder. After all, Cain didn’t use a AR15 on Abel.
Until everyone can be disarmed at once, it will be law-abiding citizens who are left defenseless, while criminals find ways around the laws to get guns. Breaking the law is, after all, the definition of criminal.
As the saying goes, “God created man. Sam Colt made them equal.”
Now when Ahab told Jezebel that Elijah had put the prophets to death with the sword, she sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “As surely as you are Elijah and I am Jezebel, may the gods do to me what they will and more too, if I do not make your life as the life of one of those prophets by to-morrow about this time.”
Then he was afraid and fled for his life. And he came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness and sat down under a desert tree, and he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Then he lay down and slept under the desert tree, but an angel touched him and said to him, “Rise, eat!” When he looked, he saw there at his head a loaf, baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. But the angel of Jehovah came again the second time and touched him and said, “Rise, eat, or else the journey will be too long for you.” So he rose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mountain of God.
Then Jehovah passed by, and a very violent wind tore the mountain apart and broke the rocks in pieces before Jehovah; but Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake; but Jehovah was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but Jehovah was not in the fire. After the fire there was the sound of a low whisper. As soon as Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then he heard a voice saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very jealous for Jehovah the God of hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken thee, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword, and I only am left; and they seek to take my life.”
Then Jehovah said to him, “On your way back go to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you arrive there, anoint Hazael to rule over Aram, Jehu, the son of Nimshi, to rule over Israel, and Elisha, the son of Shaphat, to be prophet in your place. Then every one who escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death; and every one who escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. Yet I will spare seven thousand in Israel–all who have not worshipped Baal and kissed his image.”
After he had left, Elijah found Elisha the son of Shaphat, as he was ploughing with twelve pairs of oxen. When Elijah went up to him and threw his mantle upon him, he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Elijah said to him, “Go back, for what have I done to you?” So Elisha turned back and took one pair of oxen and offered them as a sacrifice and, using the wooden ploughs and yokes as fuel, boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people to eat. Then he arose and followed Elijah and served him.