Saturday, October 25, 2014

Where did the other dollar go?

Three friends have a nice meal together, and the bill is $25

The three friends pay $10 each, which the waiter gives to the Cashier

The Cashier hands back $5 to the Waiter

But the Waiter can't split $5 three ways, so he gives the friends one dollar each and keeps 2 dollars as a tip.

They all paid $10 and got $1 back. $10-$1 = $9

There were three of them 3 X $9 = $27

If they paid $27 and the waiter kept $2: $27+$2=$29

Where did the other dollar go? $30 - $1 = $29

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Have you raised your Ebenezer?

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

These lyrics are from the traditional hymn, "Come thou Fount of Every Blessing." Before your mind starts racing, the lyrics aren't referencing hoisting Ebenezer Scrooge on a pitard.

Some context is in order to help us understand. Samuel grew up in the church, under the care of Eli, along with Eli's two sons Hophni and Phinehas. Samuel had to deliver the disastrous news to Eli that God was not happy with him and his sons and that they would soon perish, which happened shortly. During that battle, the ark of the covenant was lost, taken by the Philistines where it remained over the winter until the Philistines sent it back on a cart pulled by two dairy cows.

The ark made the 20 mile journey to Bethshemesh, where farmers saw the cart with the ark and a great celebration took place. But they weren't totally ready for the responsibility of caring for this relic so some men were summoned from Kirjath jearim to come take the ark from them. A fellow by the name of Eleazar was given the responsibility of caring for the ark and he did so for the next 20 years - apparently alone!

During these 2 decades, the people of Israel lived a miserable existence. The presence of God was absent from their life and the Philistines defeated them in battle consistently. Imagine this country's outlook if we were to undergo a 20 year war!

Samuel tried to console the people and to tell them there was hope. He presented to them 5 conditions of deliverance:

·         Return to God with all the heart

·         Put away all strange gods

·         Put away Ashtaroth

·         Prepare hearts for worshipping the true God

·         Serve God only

Samuel stated this conditional promise to the nation with the understanding that, if the conditions were met, that God would deliver them from under the oppressive hand of the Philistines.  Their contrition proved true this time, as the nation met at Mizpeh for a time of repentance and revival.  An interesting note in the midst of this story is found in 1 Samuel 7:8.  Gathered for a time of renewal and repentance, the people beg the man of God to not stop praying for them.  THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRAYING FOR THEMSELVES ALL ALONG!

The Philistines, seeing the great assembly of folks in the small site at Mizpeh decided this would be a great time to launch another assault.  How could they not win – it would be like shooting fish in a barrel!  But God…

Don’t you just love that phrase!  God had other plans.  Notice in the KJV, in verse 10, the Bible says that God discomfited them.  Love that word.  It means technically “made them to be ill at ease”.  In redneck terms, they was skeered!  And they should have been, for once again God was on the side of his rebellious children and a great slaughter of Philistines was exacted.

Now back to Ebenezer-

In verse 12 we read the following:

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

I’ve come to realize that there is a lot of stone work that takes place in the Bible.  But let’s focus on this stone.  After a time of rebellion, a time of repentance, and a time of restoration, it was now time for rejoicing.  Samuel wanted to make sure that this time would be memorialized in the annals of their history – an important milestone in their walk with God.  The stone symbolized that up until now (signified by this here rock) God has sustained us, God has provided, and God has prevailed.  By looking upon this memorial, faith could be strengthened – because God has helped to date, by faith I’ll look for him to help tomorrow!

I think these stones were the refrigerator magnets of their time.  We have all kinds of reminders in our lives – our daytimers are filled with post-its, our phones are filled with alerts, our cars beep to remind us to buckle up, remove the keys when we turn off the engine, and so on.  These stones meant the same to them – a reminder of what God HAS DONE.  Because of what He HAS DONE, we can have faith in what he WILL DO.

A more recent musical take on this theme is found in the song Safe Thus Far. 

I just came from the throne room today, been talking with Him. And I was reminded were i am and where I've been. I've sailed many waters rough and deep, but someone has sailed each one with me. Safely and sure I've weathered the storms with my dearest friend.

Yes, I am safe thus far, He's brought me safe thus far. I'm in the ship with the one who made the moon and the stars. I'll praise him for mercy that can't fail, amazing grace that still prevails. This is my story, I'll give Him the glory safe thus far.

Raise your own Ebenezer and have a listen to a great version –