Archive for April, 2009
Calling all Facebook bloggers!
Last night, I was belittled by my wife because of the number of our Facebook friends. She has 115 and I have a paltry 105.
Well, I can’t stand for that, now can I? Please, I beg you, if you, my dear reader, are a Facebooker, please befriend me (Peter M. Lopez) here. I only need eleven to take the lead, but I want to close the door on this discussion forever.
I will be forever grateful!
So, I will do my best to avoid stepping on any land mines. I do, however, want to share a little of what I was asked to share yesterday during our church’s offering time.
First, the scripture to make it official:
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. (KJV)
Abraham and his crew, having just returned from battle, are met by Melchisedec (to use the King James spelling), King of Salem, who blesses Abraham. In response, Abraham gives Melchisedec a tenth of all.
It’s been a while, but many of you know that a primary focus of this blog is the ancient Hebrew alphabet and the stories told thereby within Biblical words. For example, see Hebrew-The Divine Language. The story told by the ancient Hebrew pictographs that make up the word “tithe” is equally remarkable.
A quick recap, the ancient Hebrew alphabet was made up of pictographs, each representing a letter, a number, and a symbolic meaning (I just recently heard that each represented a color as well, but it was news to me, and I can’t say much more about that).
The Hebrew word for “tithe” is ma’ asser, and please forgive my transliteration. In Hebrew, ma’ asser is spelled by the Hebrew letters MEM (the equivalent of our letter “M”), which is pictured as waves of water and symbolically means nations or waters; AYIN (perhaps our letter “O” or “E”), pictured as an eye and meaning to see; SHIN/SIN (“Sh” or “S”), pictured as two teeth, meaning to consume or destroy; and RESH (“R”), pictured as a man’s head, meaning the first or highest person.
God promised Abraham he would make of him a great nation. He then asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. Thus, “tithe” is the picture of Abraham, the great NATION, SEEing the DESTRUCTION of the FIRST son (Isaac was the son of promise as far as God was concerned). However, “tithe” also represents the act reciprocated by God, in part, because of Abraham’s obedience. We now know that the NATIONS have SEEN the DESTRUCTION of God’s FIRST SON.
Regardless of your theology regarding the tithe, Abraham tithed to Melchisedec after being blessed by him, and his great-grandson got credit for it; and his descendants received tithes from the rest of the nation. I can’t think of a better reason to tithe than simply because we have been blessed by God in his tithe to us: the sacrifice of His son. How better to leave a lasting legacy for your great-grandchildren’s descendants.
Here is the visual of “tithe” (recall, Hebrew is read right to left):
I want to alert everybody to a new blog that just launched yesterday, and that I’m excited about. It is Monday Morning Review. It is my Pastor’s blog (perhaps, “the Pastor of our church” would be more appropriate).
I believe the plan initially is to post a Monday Morning Review on Mondays (cleverly enough) following the goings on of the previous Sunday. The reviews contain the sermon notes/highlights (a look into the mind of a C/charismatic Pastor – that should be worth the price of admission in itself, and it is because it’s free). They also contain links to music played during worship, YouTube and music videos, the sermon podcasts, and other related stuff.
Psst (whispering), for any of you pastors out there, I don’t think he would mind if you poached a sermon idea or two.
I think the plan is also to post a devotional of some sort on Thursdays. I’m looking forward to those which should be interesting as well.
I encourage all of you to check it out and see how it unfolds. It will be well worth your time.
Which reminds me…I need to tell him to run some sort of contest or giveaway to get the blog off and running. Stay tuned, I will probably be posting about that as well.
I cannot say enough about our recent trip to Redding, CA, for the children’s pastors conference I blogged about last week. But, for the time being, I just want to share three new blogs I have come across as a result of my trip to Bethel Church.
Here is the rest of the “Blogging From Bethel” Series:
Blogging From Bethel:
During one of our sessions, we practiced hearing God. We were to ask God to tell us our heavenly name, or what God calls us. It was pretty cool.
My wife has two, they are “Glorious” and “Lovely,” and she is definitely both of those. I’m glad God notices, too, and it’s not just me.
I asked on behalf of Libby (our nine-month old), and she is a lamp, a “Guiding Light” which is also fitting. I prophecied over her shortly after she was born that she would wear a soul-winner’s crown, and that leading people to the Lord would come easily to her, so that she is a lamp unto the feet of others is nicely comforting.
My heavenly name is “Absalom,” which was rather disturbing at first. If you’re familiar with Absalom, you know what I mean. But as I contemplated the meaning of “Absalom” (peaceful father or father of peace), I realized this was a good thing. I’m a pretty peaceful guy, and I’ve always thought of myself as a peacemaker, therefore blessed.
It’s also just like God to give me my name in Hebrew and have me go search it out. He’s really awesome that way!
The following day, when I was not around, a woman approached my wife out of the blue with a word for Libby: she would be a peaceful child, which, if you know Libby, is hard to fathom (she’s quite the spitfire). So, I guess that makes me a father of peace afterall.
Updated Blogging From Bethel Series:
Bethel Related Sites:
Yesterday, I learned that young children are, for the most part, literal thinkers and incapable of abstract thought. It makes sense, I just never thought about it.
I’m a lawyer, and as an undergrad I studied political science, communication, and philosophy, so I have been neck deep in the abstract for almost 20 years. I don’t think I can understand the literal without abstracting it first.
I think that’s why I dig Jesus, he taught in the abstract, but lived in the literal, “Life is like a fig tree,” … “Now, stretch out that withered hand.”
Do Christians, though, teach in the literal and live in the abstract? “The earth is 6000 years old.” … “Well, God could heal you, but He might not, and, if He doesn’t, well, God works in mysterious ways…”
None of this has anything to do with the conference, but it got me thinking. The point the speaker was making was equally profound though : that kids cannot really get into worship because they really don’t understand what they are singing, and they end up just copying their parents rather than encountering God.
It was eye opening, but the results of implementing simple fixes are amazing. The testimonies about some of these kids and their encounters with God make me…well, jealous.
Updated Blogging From Bethel Series:
Bethel Related Sites:
Here are a few of the highlights so far:
1. Hebrews Humor: Immediately following registration, my first order of business was naturally to get a cup of coffee, and what, to my pleasure, was the name of Bethel’s coffee bar? You guessed it, “HeBrews Coffee.” Cleverness is one of the charismata, isn’t it?
2. Worship: Each general session started with a time of worship, and the presence of God was palpable. Quite extraordinary, although it shouldn’t be. It should be much more common.
3. Teaching: To my surprise, I’ve learned quite a bit. Not that I questioned the faculty or subject matter, only my interest level therein-my wife is the kids pastor afterall, I just tagged along for the ride.
4. Scenery: The location and view are incredible. Bethel Church is perched atop a hill with an amazing panoramic view of lush valleys and snow-capped mountains. It is breathtaking.
5. The People: Californians aren’t so bad. Everyone is surprisingly nice, from the people at the airport and rental car counter to the conference hosts and attendees, but I expected them to be, many being from TX, OK, AR, and other Southern states.
Tomorrow I plan to hit the prayer center and a few other things I missed today because it was too cold.
Updated Blogging From Bethel Series:
Bethel Related Sites:
I recently visited a popular chain Christian bookstore, and something struck me as curious.
I was in the checkout line, and there was a lady and her son behind me. The boy (well behaved, or certainly normally behaved for a child about his age – I’m guessing about 4), grabbed an item off the impulse counter and asked his mother what it was.
The mother responded, “Shhh.” Her response wasn’t loud, angry or inappropriate in any way. But, it made me wonder, “Are we supposed to be quiet in bookstores too?”
Libraries, I understand because people are reading and researching, but bookstores? Aren’t bookstores like toystores for adults? Kids too.
Am I wrong about this?
I just noticed that my last post was my 99th, which makes this my 100th post. Tada!
After blogging for almost exactly 18 months, that number seems surprisingly low. All you bloggers who post 3, 4, 5 posts a day, I don’t know how you do it. If I have that many in a week, it’s an extremely busy week. These three today are a record for me.
Anyhoo, after 18 months and 100 posts, here are a few lessons that I’ve learned about blogging:
10. Blog on Tuesdays: Since today is Wednesday, I obviously don’t follow my own advice. However, as a general rule, traffic is better on Tuesdays. If you have something profound to say, say it on Tuesdays. I suppose people actually try to work on Monday, but by Tuesday they are ready to play around.
9. Blog is a Verb: Apparently blog is also a verb (to blog). I don’t question it, I just accept it. I learned my lesson questioning the use of rodeo as a verb. Apparently, as my wife once pointed out, one can rodeo, which means to participate in rodeo and rodeo-related activities, as in, “What do you do for a living?” “I rodeo.”
8. Don’t Blog on Fridays: I personally blog on Fridays (it’s a relatively slow day for me at the office), but traffic stinks. If you have something profound to say, don’t say it on Fridays.
7. Check Your Emotions at the Keyboard: Bloggers burnout. Blogs fizzle. Why? I suspect it is because blogger has something new, exciting, revelatory, earth shattering to say, and no one reads. By contrast, same blogger quickly jots some silly little comment about this or that trivial little thing, and the readers and comments come out of the woodwork. Example: my short little post wherein I simply ask, “Why is the Tithe a Tenth?” generated 56 comments (almost double any other post). Not that tithing is trivial, but the post was. I was busy answering comments on that post for 2 weeks. Yet, some of my other, more profound, groundbreaking, earth shattering stuff, nothing, zilch (oh, and it was good stuff, too). But, I’m not bitter, and neither should you be.
6. Write Short Posts: Okay, I know, I can’t help myself. I didn’t say I’ve implemented the things that I’ve learned, only that I’ve learned them. Your reader’s attention span is…well, I’m not even going there. See 3. above.
5. Write “Top _____” Lists: It solves multiple problems: you can write longer posts, you can generate traffic, and it doesn’t matter if you’re right or not, readers will chime in about your list. Let “top,” “best,” “worst,” and “most” become your friends. For example:
- Top 5 Overused Words in Christian/Bible Blogging
- Top 10 Reasons to Put The Sundry Times on a Top 10 List
- Top 5 Authoritative Bible Translations
4. Ask Questions: I know I complained about it above, but short posts asking questions get a lot of traffic and responses.
3. Write “How To” Posts: Not that anyone cares how you do stuff, but it gives others an opportunity to tell you how they do stuff. How I Mark My Bible was a huge hit because everyone else was sharing how they marked their Bibles. It wasn’t my idea either, which brings up another lesson: participate in the blogosphere (comment on blogs, link to blogs, acknowledge others, in other words, apply the Golden Rule).
2. Be Yourself: I’m not a Bible scholar (believe it or not ), and I don’t pretend to be (anymore ), I just love writing and what I write about. I spent six months trying to make this blog’s traffic grow, and it didn’t until I stopped worrying about it. Find your niche, stick with it, be patient through the slow times, and appreciate the audience you develop.
1. Have Fun: Blogging about the Bible, ancient Hebrew, and religious stuff can be pretty heavy, but it’s what interests me. I realize it doesn’t interest everyone (although when I first began, I assumed it would), but if you write about something you enjoy, you will never run out of stuff to say. Keep blogging.
In August of 2007, my wife and I went to Israel with a group from our church. One predictable question frequently asked of tourists is, “Where are you from?” The standard response was to say, “Spain,” “Canada,” “the United States,” or some other such country of origin.
However, everyone in our group always answered by saying, “Texas.”
It didn’t seem to come as any surprise to anyone asking. And almost to a person, they would respond, “So you ride horses?”
“Yes, I tied mine to the parking meter at the Western Wall,” I would say. I’m kidding, I wouldn’t really say that. But they really did ask? One cab driver in particular seemed especially dismayed that we didn’t own a single horse.
Do any other Americans identify so principally with their state. New Yorkers, Illini, Rhode Islanders? Or is it just Texans.
By the way, I spent several weeks leading up to our trip learning conversational Hebrew, and I only got to speak Hebrew once. In fact, I spoke Spanish more than Hebrew because we met a group from Spain at one of the hotels. Apparently, my Tex-Mex is very close to their Castilian.
And to think, I spent all that time learning Hebrew so I could get it right when I asked, “Where can I park my horse?”