Pastors, Churches and Money.

For some, this is a messy subject. For myself, I find that many who debate Pastors, churches and money often anti-Christian, anti-Church and/or anti-religion. What ensues is a total mess, as I listen to individuals misuse terms, scripture and display a general lack of humanity, in order to get their point across as right, based on the dislike of an institution they don’t understand and have (usually) never been a part of. In light of this, I’m going to start by laying out a correct definition of terms, which I’ll then build on. You can take the information I give and run with it as you please but, at least having read this, you can run with some understanding of a Christian standpoint.

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Let’s first define ‘Church’.

I believe that, as the Bible is instructional, it contains translational templates.
Translational Templates?
Yes. Translational Templates.
An example could be Leviticus 23:22, which reads,

“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.”
This is an example of a Translational Template. It can, in a literal sense, apply to your regular Christian farmer. However, the likelihood of your regular Christian being involved in the regular activity of harvesting is extremely minimal. The idea behind this verse, though, is Translational through both time and situation, in that it is an instruction to give thought to those that don’t have when you reap of your harvest. Whether that be money, goods, time or effort. When you have, give to those that don’t. This is actually something we see in the template given to us of the early Church.

The template of ‘Church’ can be found in the book of Acts, chapter 2, in the New Testament. Focus on verses 41-47, which reads,

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

It’s important to see here that ‘Church’ is a group of like-minded people who all have a single purpose. They met regularly in the temple (church building) and each others’ homes. The Church, here, is not just an institution or a business. Neither was it designed to run at a profit or any other gain, for that matter.

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I also want to take a quick moment to expand on verse 45.
In the year 112AD, Pliny the Younger, a Governor of the Roman province Bithynia (Modern-day Turkey), wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan. In the letter, he asked the Emperor what he should do about the Christians in his realm, who would not worship the gods of the time. The letter reveals a group of people who were deemed a threat to the Roman empire (According to other sources), following an ‘extravagant superstition’. As it turned out, Pliny the Younger took to executing those that would not recant their faith.
Further to point out, and in support of Pliny’s mention of separation, the early Church would buy, sell and trade their goods amongst themselves. Christians had ‘stuff’ and, in that they were able to give and take amongst themselves, we could dare to say that, in areas, they would have had excess. This is to counter the idea that your modern day Christian should be living the broken life and be without money and possessions.

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A further clarification that I see needing to be made is that of a separation of Christianity from Catholicism. The Christian church is not one of the richest organizations in the world. The Catholic church is. The Pope is the head of the Catholic church, whereas Christianity is more like a group of organizations who all operate according to similar structure. The separation can be somewhat of a grey area but, for the most part, Christianity sees Jesus (Son), God (Father) and the Holy Spirit as three facets of the same entity, where Catholicism, for the most part, sees the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three separate entities. I won’t dive too deeply into this, as this is not a theological discussion. My point here is that, when dealing with the Church and money, it is important to separate the two because money is handled differently and for different reasons.

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So, what is a Pastor?
Dictionary.com defines ‘Pastor’ as “A person having spiritual care over a number of persons.” It goes on to give history of the word, from the Latin, meaning ‘feeder’. Coming from the base of ‘pastere’, which is “to put to pasture”. A pastor is a shepherd. A shepherd’s job/career is to tend to his flock and to see that their welfare is looked out for.
According to the Strong’s Concordance, reference 4166, ‘Poimen’ (Greek) appears 17 times in the New Testament as ‘shepherd’, in the King James Version. ‘Pastor’ is used in Ephesians 4:11, with the International Version going with the term ‘shepherd’. That is 18 references in total.
Strong’s Concordance reference 6953 gives the Hebrew ‘Qoheleth’. A collector (of sentences) or, ‘preacher’. It is used 7 times in the Old Testament, all in the book of Ecclesiastes. ‘Preacher’ is defined, according to Dictionary.com, as “a person whose occupation or function it is to preach the gospel.” We could say, then, that a Pastor is one who shepherds and preaches the Gospel. Operating outside of these parameters would cause one to cease being a Pastor. That is, if you are a shepherd but not preaching the Gospel (a false leader) or preaching the Gospel but not a shepherd (a teacher/preacher who doesn’t look after a specific congregation. In modern day society, a Pastor is similar to a social worker. Constantly on-call for the congregation they pastor. The congregation could be a small group of just a small number of people or a mega church of thousands but the Pastor’s job remains the same. That is to watch over the ‘sheep’ and to preach the Gospel.

Not all Pastors are full-time Pastors. My Dad and my Step-Dad are both Pastors. Both work full-time. I know, personally, Pastors who work full-time and pastor and I know Pastors who are full-time Pastors, with no other form of employment or income. I also know Pastors of small congregations, as well as Pastors of very large congregations. I may not be a role model Christian but I have been in and around church and Pastors since the age of about 7. In my experience, the vast majority of Pastors are not robbers or mere entrepreneurs. Also, having seen both sides of the pastoral fence, pastoring is one of the most difficult jobs out there, keeping in mind that every church congregation is a microcosm of the society it resides within. A good Pastor seeks the betterment of each member of his or her congregation, according to what the Lord has laid out in His word. Each member of a Pastor’s congregation has a spiritual life AND physical welfare that needs to be attended to. A Pastor has to understand both sides and be able to help bring about a balance to each individual, aiding in growth, teaching students to become teachers themselves. A form of parent, if you will. Can you imagine ‘parenting’ multiple individuals and families? Couples, singles, adults, children. Pretty much, can you imagine trying to bring balance, stability and then growth to each individual in your neighbourhood, catering to all of their needs, based on a structure that you are supposed to grow in, yourself, with Love, care and compassion? I’ve seen the toll it can take on a man and his family firsthand. It’s not pretty.

Anyway…. Pastors receive money. In a Christian church, in whatever form it takes, you’ll hear the words ‘tithe’ and ‘offering’. As I’m speaking to those that are Christian and otherwise and varying knowledge and acceptance of the Bible, I’m going to keep my explanation simple. This is also NOT a theological debate on the collection of tithe. Merely an explanation for those that don’t understand.

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Let me first explain that there is a difference between tithe and offering.

Tithes are given by the members of a congregation. The tithe is a sum of 10% of the giver’s income and is supposed to be the Pastor’s income.

“And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” – Numbers 18:21

The Tribe of Levi were the ‘Pastors’ of the Old Testament (Think translational template here). They were workers in the house of the Lord and they had no inheritance (Income), as the remainder of Israel had. There is a history and reason for this but this isn’t the forum for that discussion. The thing to note here is, the Levites had no other income. Situationally, it would be important to note that their income was commensurate to the income of Israel.
Translating this situation in to the modern day, the tithe is a Pastor’s income. In my experience, any Pastor who has a job aside of Pastoring will generally have a small congregation and monies from the tithe would be combined with that of the offering and put forward to the upkeep of the church. Whether it be for utility bills, rent, refreshments for after service. Leftovers would go into a church bank account. As a church will be a microcosm of its surrounding society, the Pastor’s income will reflect his or her surrounding demographic. If the church has 10 MEMBERS who earn $2000 per month, the Pastor will also bring in $2000 per month. This is provided the members pay their tithe. The simple fact is, this is life and it is not uncommon for church members to not pay their tithe. I know this because I don’t always pay mine.
Immediately, the critic may turn to Pastors who are millionaires and have large churches. Let’s face it. They exist. At this point, though, we also need to remember what a Pastor is and what they (Are supposed to) do. If you have 1000 members, all earning $2000 per month (Way above the national average, may I add), your Pastor will earn $20000 per month. But this same Pastor is now responsible the wellbeing of 1000 people, 24 hours a day. People that want to develop, and MUST develop, in both their physical and spiritual lives.

According to www.payscale.com, a senior Pastor, in the USA, would average about $57k per year. Your ‘straight-from-the-call’ Pastor would earn just under $30k. Real Pastors don’t go into the business for the money, believe me. In fact, real Pastors don’t even ‘go into the business’. Pastoring is a passion. It’s a calling.

Are there Pastoral frauds? Yes. Do I agree with a Pastor asking for money to preach somewhere other than their own congregation ON A REGULAR BASIS? No. Do I agree with a Pastor skating on dollar bills at the altar? No. Do I agree with Pastors charging a fee to PREACH THE GOSPEL (Not to be confused with giving a speech/lecture on a subject they are proficient in)? No. However, all of these things have happened, continue to happen and will happen in the future. If we are going to make these actions becoming of every Pastor then we need to make enslavery of black people becoming of every white person and we need to make so-called ‘Islamic’ terrorism becoming of every Arab.
If you walk into your average Christian church, you’ll probably come across a group of between 20 and 60 persons, Pastored by someone who is a leader with a passion for the betterment of everyone he or she comes across.

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So, what of Offerings?

Offerings could take up an entire blog of themselves, as there are offerings for different times and different reasons. To keep this blog simple, though, assume that the tithe of the members goes to the upkeep of the Pastor and the offerings of the present congregation goes to the upkeep of the Church. The ‘upkeep’ would generally be things like the utility bills and the rent. Money, put into the bowl or basket, in larger churches may also be to support people in need, within the church, or to fund church outings or projects in the local community. Considering the template, given to us in Acts 2, your average church will not have a bulging bank account. This does raise the question of mega churches, though.

I can’t comment directly on any one church but I will say this. When passing judgement, ask yourself if the church falls in line with Acts 2. Does the congregation average out to a level playing field? Does the church form a microcosm of the social demographic surrounding it? Is the Pastor preaching the Gospel and looking after the welfare of the congregation? Is the church active in its local community? At the end of the day, if the church you are passing judgement on matches the template provided in Acts 2, it’s doing what it is supposed to do.

I’ve done what I can to keep the blog explanatory and I hope it has provided clarification on some terms and situations, which will help you obtain better judgement.

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If I were to put this blog into a descriptive nutshell, I’d have you consider a privately owned gym. One like MuscleWorks, in London, U.K. My first gym!

The gym has an owner. An owner, who would be there for you to get fit and achieve your goals. These goals are achieved by working within a structure that the owner didn’t create. The owner may not even like the way certain goals have to be achieved but these ways are the standards he operates by and holds himself against.
When I attended MuscleWorks gym, back in the early 2000s, I didn’t think twice about having to pay for the services I received. I was in a building that cost money to run, using equipment that required money to maintain and replace, asking for the time and effort of a man who offered these things with no other source of income (per se). Church is no different.
When I attend church, I enter a building that comes with a running cost and expect the services of a man or woman who, should they be full-time, has no other source of income but needs to live, just like I do. Why should I think twice about giving?
The difference, here, between church and gym is that, there is no penalty for not giving. The Bible, however, does give us some guidelines on giving and receiving. But this isn’t the forum.

Many thanks for reading.

@geminidimension

There is More to Hospitality than Giving of Food!

I came across this article and it got me thinking about how I used to give water and food to some of the homeless guys in Philadelphia, when I was Uber driving. I started to think about how we actually help people to stay in their current situation.
For example, giving a homeless person water, while they beg at the traffic lights, only serves to keep them cool and hydrated while they continue to beg. Wisdom, regarding strangers, will always prevail. However, what a homeless person really needs is hospitality. Someone that gives them a home to stay in, that can serve as a foothold while they re-introduce themselves back into society. Something that is actually expected of us as Christians…

You can read the article HERE

@geminidimension

Featured Picture taken from http://www.gofundmission.org

When it is Difficult to Pray…

I came across this article regarding prayer. You can read it using this URL:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/inside-bst/when-you-need-new-words-to-pray.html/?utm_source=bible+study+tools+weekly+-+biblestudytools.com&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=05/31/2017

It’s not always easy to pray, as some may think. Often, life can take over. You can feel bogged down with worry and stress. I can think of countless times where I’ve wanted to pray and have just had no words.

This article gives 8 simple ideas to get you started.

Photo Credit goes to issacharinitiative.org

Dietary Intake: The BIG Change

In January 2015, I decided that I was going to take up a Kosher diet.
A personal experience through that year, though, caused me to actually look at why I was following the diet. This, in turn, caused me to actually research the diet itself.

In January 2015, I decided that I was going to take up a Kosher diet. It seemed pretty simple at the time. I simply wanted to do what I thought was right, in accordance with the diet set out for the Hebrews in the Old Testament and, for the most part, it was just a case of giving up pork and certain seafoods that I loved. A personal experience through that year, though, caused me to actually look at why I was following the diet. This, in turn, caused me to actually research the diet itself.

The first thing that I looked at, regarding the Kosher diet, was the ‘seething a kid in its mother’s milk’. This is found in Deuteronomy 14:21 and has the modern-day equivalent of eating a cheeseburger. In brief, my finding was that it is OK to eat a cheeseburger. The actual reason for not seething a kid in its mother’s milk is something I’m still undecided on but I found a web publishing by Keith Hunt to be a good starting point for study. You can find it HERE.

As I continued my study, looking at why I couldn’t eat pork and the other ‘meats’ that were prohibited, I came to a realization. In the Torah (I will stand corrected if I’m wrong.), there is only regulation as to how vegetation should be GROWN and not necessarily how it should be EATEN. I’d found myself doing the very thing I tell others not to do. I read the books of law with a focus on what shouldn’t be done, questioning why, with no focus on what can be done without fear of consequence.
Coupled with the knowledge that, in this period, the common man would eat when hungry, as opposed to eating food because it was there, I began to question if really our diets should be vegetarian, with an option of eating meat if it was necessary. This hit home when I read through the story of Noah, followed by Abraham and Joseph.

We could be exact about the measurement of the ark but that is for another forum. For the sake of this post, I’m going to go with the Wikipedia measurement of 450ft x 75ft x 45ft.
Pre-flood, micro-evolution had not yet begun so there were nowhere near as many sub-species as there are now. I think the ark would have been very basically populated with creatures so the question would always taunt me. How DID Noah and his family survive in the ark for almost 6 months. After much deliberation, and looking at the Kosher diet, I’ve come to the conclusion that they would have to have eaten at least a primarily vegetarian diet, if not a totally vegan diet of starches, grains or both. A heavy meat diet could have, based on the calories meat provides and how long meat lasts once an animal is slaughtered, caused the animals to dwindle in numbers very swiftly. Causing sickness, disease and, ultimately, death of the animals, Noah and his family.
Grains, starches and legumes, on the other hand give you more ‘bang for your buck’ when it comes to the provision of carbohydrates for energy and last a lot longer than any meat product.

Abraham was a nomad with many, many people in his tribe. To the point, he was able to muster a nomadic army of 318 men to rescue his nephew, Lot, in battle. His herds were enormous. Understanding the nomadic lifestyle of the time, we can again see that, in the very least, meat was only eaten if necessary, if at all. Having such a large tribe, living in a primarily desert region (We see this when Abraham and Lot part ways), a primarily meat diet or any other excessive intake of meat would have meant a decrease in animals to actually work the land, in order for any food to be planted or for any other work that strong animals could have been used for back then. The erection of large tents, for example.
What actually comes to mind at this moment of typing is that, there are very few instances in the beginning of the Old Testament where meat is used for food.

Joseph’s story sees him become a leader of the Ancient Egyptian empire. When famine was predicted, the first step he took was to create large granaries and fill them with grain. The grain lasted through a 7 year famine. There is also archaeological and historical evidence to suggest the common Egyptian man of that period would have eaten a rice-based diet. Interestingly, hair analysis of the Pharaoh mummies we have now shows that they ate more meat than their ‘common’ counterparts, which could go to show that meat is more a consumption of choice than need.

As I started decreasing my meat intake and focused on eating the right meats, according to scripture, a good friend of mine (You can follow his great mind HERE. He has a good spirit to share.) pointed me in the direction of a video called the Starch-based Diet, on YouTube.
John McDougall MD gives a lecture, where he breaks down how, scientifically, historically and archaeologically, we are to be eating a starch-based diet. He then goes on to, a lot better than I could right now, break down how the starch-based diet can better our bodies, our pockets and the environment. It’s the combination of ‘all of the above’ that has driven my decision to make this big change.  I really do strongly suggest watching this gentleman’s video. You will find it most informative, even if you chose to not follow a starch-based diet afterwards.

The key aid I have in this change is my choice of sports to make headway in. That is Track & Field (400m Hurdles) and the Triathlon. Indeed, I’m currently heading down the pathway of my first Iron Man, which I hope to attempt in 2017. These sports don’t require the muscular growth of, say, a bodybuilder. I have several friends that are heavily involved in the sports of bodybuilding and sculpting. I would say that their requirement for protein wouldn’t be adequately met by a natural intake of carbohydrates and fats. My sports, on the other hand, require massive amounts of energy. The long miles, running, cycling and swimming and the constant repetitions on a track, over hurdles. These are energy-intensive feats that I have ahead.
For my vegan friends and followers reading this, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be joining your ranks. Although, I’ll be eating a primarily vegetarian diet, there is still a necessity for muscular repair (As opposed to development.) so, if you see me somewhere eating some chicken or fish to top myself up, don’t scream at me. I’m thoroughly aware of tofu and qinoa. No need to mention. Thank you!

So, there you have it! My reasoning for making a shift to a heavily vegetarian diet, which is, in my eyes, what the Kosher diet is supposed to be. Please, feel free to share any recipes you may have!

I’ll let you know how this goes in a few weeks!

 

Choices: Stuck in the Blocks from a Christian Perspective

My first attempt at a structured Bible Lesson.

At first, it was always seen as ‘the enemy’ robbing me of my blessing but now I see more clearly. Understanding that the Lord is, first and foremost, our father, I’m able to rationalize that my inability to reach the next level and, ultimately, my purpose, is because He sees that my decision-making has deemed me not ready to move up. I’m coming out of the blocks all wrong.

I see decisions we make to be the equivalent of exploding from the blocks, at the start of a 100m sprint. With every moment a decision made, the importance of getting it right is paramount. Cleaning up the mess of poor decisions and re-training our block-starts, in life, is hard and sometimes painful. Especially when we reach that point where poor choices are habitual.

Any sprinter will tell you, practicing your start takes hours and hours of finagling angles of the body’s joints and placement of the starting blocks. Why? Because exploding in a leap of faith, from a poorly placed foundation prevents you from performing to your fullest potential. Ultimately, it makes the difference between winning and losing, remembering that, in a 100m sprint, 2nd place is the first loser. No one takes to the starting line to lose.

I miss the rush of adrenaline that Track & Field brings. Preparing for the start is a powerful experience that you only really feel in individual sports, I find. There is no one to hide behind, no one to blame or bless for your performance. It’s just you and your preparation against the one thing nobody can cheat: Father Time.
As you warm up, you channel your adrenaline from fear to aggression. It’s time to impose, as opposed to being exposed. As you stride out and open your legs in preparation, they feel like jelly and your whole body becomes a computer, as every muscle fiber communicates with your brain. Sensitivity is on Level: 1000. In a few mins, it’ll all be over. Months, sometimes years, of practice have been undertaken in order to produce just a few seconds of perfection. You think back over the practice hours. The injuries overcome, sessions carried out in inclement weather, those times when it was just you and the rain. Ultimately, good athletes remind themselves why it is that there is no reason for them to finish second on this day. No one and nothing else matters.

When the moment arrives, you are called to your marks.

“Set!”
The position of commitment. Decision time…

In the Set position, for a small moment, you aren’t you. You are Preparation and Instinct. A human machine. Within a second, you calculate the finest of every detail.
You feel for good foot contact on each block. You feel for the angles of the hip joints to be just as you practiced. Not too great, not too small. There can be NO time spent working through a negative phase. Milliseconds count. Your poise brings your shoulders slightly forward of your wrist. It’s uncomfortable but you’ve practiced this. It comes with the territory. Then you focus on a speck of floor, a few inches above eye-level. Your heart beats through your chest, rapidly, pumping adrenaline through your body like high-octane fuel…

“BANG!”

Your entire being goes from zero to one hundred in a tenth of a second. The good foot contact ensures there is no sinking of the ankle, enabling every leg muscle to extend the hip, as over 3000 watts of power is sent through the starting blocks, propelling you towards the finish line.

Imagine if we realized that the choices we make, in our lives, were just as the moment described?
Whether it is a choice made on what to eat or a choice made on what career field you should be in, choices, large and granular, have put us where we are now.

I pondered my life the other day, in the best way I know how. I ran!
My 36th year, headed to my 40th, is going to be iconic but I’ve become aware of really poor choices I’ve made and have come to see how I’ve often moved in circles, facing the same choice over and over again. At first, it was always seen as ‘the enemy’ robbing me of my blessing but now I see more clearly. Understanding that the Lord is, first and foremost, our father, I’m able to rationalize that my inability to reach the next level and, ultimately, my purpose, is because He sees that my decision-making has deemed me not ready to move up. I’m coming out of the blocks all wrong.

As a Christian, your foundation and your blocks are already set firm and sure. This is because our standard isn’t our own. All we have to do is be in the right position when the gun goes. When decision time hits, the instinctive reaction should be a leap of faith from a position that is correctly set in the foundation we have been provided with.
Obviously, there are times you will get the start right and move on to the next level. For me, there are too many times when I’ve come out the blocks with angles too small and angles too great. In a 100m sprint, angles slightly in any direction can have drastic impact on your performance. Within the same remit, slight angular discrepancies in our choices can have drastic impact on our performance. Not just in our Christian development but in our every day life as well.

When it comes to my personal story, regarding choices and, chiefly, the repetitively poor ones, I have to akin myself with Samson. A raw, hot-blooded (pretty literally!) man. Given a purpose, knows his purpose but has to deal with a side of himself that is as raw as his purpose is refined. Other guys like me will agree that, even though we have a purpose and know our purpose, we are harassed with a particular weakness. A weakness that ALWAYS presents itself and has us going through this training cycle of block-starts over and over again. For Samson, it was women and I’m pretty certain a lot of us men fall under the same judgement. Maybe for someone else, it is money or a career. Whatever it is, it has us transgressing the law time and time again and I speak from experience when I say, the consequences, just as for Samson, get more and more severe. It’s the onset of a seducing spirit (Sometimes referred to as the Delilah spirit) and the way in which it brought Samson to his knees that also has me associating myself with his story.

Something that I’d like to raise about Samson is that Samson wasn’t a player. He wasn’t a man that simply wanted get with any female breathing life. I believe Samson’s issue was that he fell for women very easily. To the point he would break the law he was under to please her. Hence the seducing spirit.
This isn’t to say, for the politically correct reading this blog, that all women are creatures of seduction. For Samson, there was a spirit that used individuals to play on his weakness. I share this weakness. It’s called an overwhelmingly loving character. Yes, I’m about to defend Samson’s spot!
Love will always leave the lover open to hurt and seduction but we often see that this is when said lover is out of position. For Samson’s 3 mentioned failings, he was out of the position he should have been in (Physically. However, spiritually this was ordained by God). None of the three women we hear of were of his own country and the situations he would have been in to meet them were also against the grain of the law laid out for a Jewish man at that time. Also, Samson was a Nazarite. Simply put, leading up to his final rendezvous with Delilah, Samson gives us plenty of ‘Wait… What?!’ moments to ponder. These were his poor decisions. These were his incorrect block starts.

The Seducing Spirit.

Seducing spirits are fascinating to me. Maybe a strange statement but they are, as I’m fascinated with how the human body and mind work. Seducing spirits manipulate truth to caress human pride. Their ability to remove men and women from their rightful position is both remarkable and terrible at the same time and their accuracy is like that of a sniper. It’s the seducing spirit that begins downfall by having us believe that we can do it without God. Adam and Eve being the first example. For the Theologians out there, room could be made to suggest the first example was satan bringing a third of the angels with him when he was cast from heaven. That’s a totally different blog, though!

I believe words are exceptionally powerful. We see in Revelation 8:3-4 that the ‘prayers of the saints’ have a physical form as ‘smoke of the incense’. Matthew 12:36 also tells us how every man will have to give an account of every idle word he speaks. ‘Abracadabra!’ comes from a root word meaning, “With my words, I create.” This is a genuine incantation used by witches and reinforces my belief that we can become the product of statements leaving our mouths.
Judges 16:7, to me, is the beginning of the end for Samson. It was the first documented time that he verbally admits A weakness. At this point, the work of the seducing spirit is done. Samson’s position is now compromised, and permanently. Even if Samson, at this point had escaped, the source of his strength would have spread like wildfire.
After being broken down for a large part of his manhood, Samson finally caved, speaking his own fate.
I believe, as with many characters of the Bible, we are given a synopsis of Samson’s life. I find it difficult to believe that Samson only clashed with the Philistines a handful of times and, given his weakness, I would totally disagree with Samson only ever being with 3 females, especially seeing as one was a harlot, hailing from Gaza. Samson was a well-known gentleman throughout Israel and throughout Philistia. THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME that Samson came under pressure, from a female, as to the source of his strength.

Positioning, at the point of decision and action is so paramount. I’m only seeing it myself as I type.

It’s sad to see the final suffocation and succumbing of Samson. He goes from admitting his weakness to then affirming the fact he has a weakness. That is, when he was then bound with something a little stronger. Then he directs Delilah to his hair and she weaves it into a weaver’s machine before he finally caves in totally and she cuts his hair off.
It’s crazy that Samson was so smitten by her, he became powerless to walk away, powerless to say no. Love, taken for granted. Are you, reader, allowing your Love to be taken for granted? Are you in position, aligned with your purpose, to answer the question correctly?

Thought. Wow. Being out of position can cost you your life, as it did for Samson.

Every one of Samson’s decisions was based on previous experience. Every time he left the blocks, the Lord had him come back and practice again. 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Matthew 11:30 are good examples of where we are shown that the Lord will not give us more than we can handle. In that, it would not only make him a bad father but it would also make him a liar if he were to allow us to make it to the next level when we are not ready. Hence the necessity for continual training. It isn’t simple sadism. Sadistic behaviour is not a behaviour God displays, in spite of some believing so. He just wants us to make sure we can perform on the level we are aiming for and that’s why our positioning is so important.

When the gun goes at the start of a 100m sprint, there is a massive amount of power generated in the leap of faith that occurs. Indeed, Usain Bolt, when at speed, can exert over 1000lbs of pressure, through the floor, in less than a quarter of a second.

When angles are too great, the leap also has too great an angle. This causes the body to become upright too quickly. I’ve been here. It is soul-destroying when you know you have come up too quickly and you are passed by others in the race, who’s acceleration period lasted much longer than yours.
Likewise, in terms of choice. When your angles are too great, you can come up too quickly. This is symptomatic of operating above your ability. Sometimes this is through excitement and being eager. At others, unfortunately, it is due to some simply operating above their station. People that wish to be seen. Ultimately, both scenarios are a result of confidence in one’s self, as opposed to God.
The result of coming up too quickly is that of hardship. Any headwind will hit you that much longer than if you were to have driven for a longer period of time and then, of course, there is that discouragement from watching others come from behind you to pass you. Interestingly, the only thing that you can do at this point is retain form. You can only go through the motions and cover the distance, while giving testimony of going up the rough side of the mountain.

The experience of positioning with angles too great in the blocks can lead a Christian to then start with angles too tight. My honest belief is that, by the time Samson got to meeting Delilah, he was here. The same can be said of many men and women. The same can be said of me on many occasion.
When your angles are too tight, the leap of faith is done from hurt and the fear of letting go and letting God. The heels are often brought away from the block at this point, meaning the ankle sinks, costing time when the gun goes, and certain of the leg muscles are not used to full potential in the leap of faith. Thus leading to a lack of extension of the hip, resulting in shorter, more labored steps. It is also possible for the toe to drag, which can see you stumble and fall. I should know. I’ve been there, physically as well as spiritually. The pain and embarrassment can cause you to walk away altogether.
There are only 3 women mentioned, in order to give us example of Samson’s life. All three used him for personal gain. When Samson met Delilah, he just couldn’t take anymore. She wasn’t the ultimate breaker of men. She was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. After years of holding it together, Samson leaped from the blocks, relying on himself and paid the ultimate price.
Are you making decisions from that place of hurt? Have you given up on relying on God and are at a point where you are fearful of extending, in faith, from the foundation He has provided?

I find it interesting that, as people, we crave something so much that we are willing to let remove ourselves from our standards in order to obtain it. Samson left his calling as, not just a Jewish man, but as a Nazarite. Further, and most saddening, we are never told of Samson’s purpose. All of the judges of Israel had one but Samson committed suicide. Yes, he took a large amount of Philistines with him in the process but this time, when he came in line with his purpose, it cost him his own life.

So, how does one practice to get the art of decision-making right? How do we avoid coming out of the blocks with the wrong angles?

Spiritual Myelination.

Myelination is the process carried out by the brain to secure neurological pathways of remembrance. Put simply, the more you do it, the better you do it!
As you practice getting out of the blocks more and more, with the knowledge and guidance of getting it right, the more proficient you become at doing it. Your brain begins to secure communication paths just for that particular movement so that, when called upon, your body will, almost, worry about nothing else.
In that we are always in God’s presence (He is omnipotent), he takes the role of Coach. Communication with him takes the form of prayer. I kind of see this as turning up to the track for practice. It’s that one-on-one time, where a bond is developed and where your coach provides you with feedback on you and how you are performing. It’s also a time for chastisement, when you aren’t applying yourself. Interestingly, in this time, it is the coach that does most of the talking. Imagine taking that into your prayer life!
While away from the track, it’s important to dedicate yourself to your goal. In this, the 21st Century, Google, YouTube and a plethora of online resources are at our disposal to fine tune our craft. The Word of God. For some, it is the book on the bedside table, that has managed to gather dust (Some are honest and say they don’t read it, others try to convince me that they regularly turn the pages on their smart phone. Anyway…!). For others it is the book they always have around, pages falling out of well-thumbed leather binding. Whatever state it is in, it is the study manual every Christian needs to be attentive to. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Interestingly, alongside the shield of faith, it is the only part of the armour of God, spoken of in Ephesians 6, that is only operational when used dynamically. Static, it has no use and we see it used in dynamic form by Jesus himself, when he was tempted by satan in Matthew 4. Every response was a direct response from the Word of God and to every response there was no argument.

In that the Word and Faith are both useless when static, we come to the final point.
James 2 tells us that Faith, without works, is dead. Romans 10 tells us that Faith ultimately comes by the Word of God. Further, John 1:1 tells us that God IS his Word. That being said, I believe God, his Word and our Faith, therefore, can be linked in the following sentence, to effect an explosion to perform at your fullest potential:

“Know God (as opposed to know OF God) and use his Word to understand where he wants you to be. Then take the leap of Faith in HIS confidence.”

It may be that you have to try several times. It may be that you have your angles too great or too small to start off with but, in that you are operating in Faith, you CANNOT give up because to give up leaves you stuck in the blocks, going nowhere, fast.

God Bless.