We’re All Givers

Looking at the Old Testament through Kings and Chronicles, something stuck out to me. There are some good kings and a lot of bad kings. Typically, we categorize people as givers and non-givers, but the truth is we’re all givers. The Old Testament kings made me think of this because who they sacrificed to. Solomon, for example, sacrificed like 120,000 sheep when he dedicated the temple. That’s a lot of lamb chops. He gave incredibly to the Lord.

On the flip side, you have kings like Ahab who sacrificed to Baal or other kings who sacrificed their own children to gods like Molech. They still gave. They still sacrificed. However, their deplorable sacrifices were to the wrong gods.

The truth is we’re all giving something. You may be saying to yourself, “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to start tithing.” You’re money is going somewhere. What god are you giving in it to?

This goes far and beyond just our time, talents, and treasure. This goes to our attitude and our thought processes as well. The Biblical definition of worship is essentially willful surrender. Our attitudes and thought lives are surrendered, given to someone. Is it ourselves? Our pride? Do we sit and jealously bemoan others’ blessings while smiling on the outside telling them how happy we are for them? Do we silently curse the driver that just cut us off? Who are we giving to in those situations?

We’re all givers. We give our time, talents, treasure, thoughts, and attitudes to someone. Let’s be sure we lay those on God’s altar at His temple and not in the pagan high places of our singular nature.
That’s the Josh Perspective.

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The Thin Gray Line

Ever heard anybody say, “There’s no such thing as normal” or “What’s normal anyway”? Most of the time when we hear these phrases, they’re being used in an attempt to make someone feel better about a certain situation: a medical condition, a physical abnormality, or personality traits that tend to set that person aside as “not normal.” When we say “normal,” were referring to a set of standards that are used a guideline for activity or traits in a certain area. In sociology, a big area of these guidelines are called social norms, social guidelines that set how people in a society are expected to behave.
I’m not an expert in this area. I’ve never claimed to be. I haven’t even done a lot of research for this blog, just to be honest. It’s just my blog; take it or leave it. Either way, I welcome comments on my Facebook page or below.

The social norms of the United States have been under heavy scrutiny for a long time, at least since the Rock and Roll era of Elvis Presley and The Rebel Without a Cause James Dean. I guess each generation feels like they have to challenge the social norms of their parents’ generation to reach adulthood or “find themselves” or something. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes this is bad. One thing is for sure, our generation is no different. The big difference now is that social norms have become more politicized than ever.

Why do social norms even exist? There are two reasons I know of, and I’m sure there are more: to allow orderly and meaningful social interaction and to steer each other socially from harm’s way.
Meaningful social interaction is something human beings were designed for. In Genesis, the Bible declares it wasn’t good for man to be alone, so God created Eve. It says they walked with God and spoke with Him in the Garden of Eden. God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so we could be with Him forever and have a personal, intimate relationship. Social norms help us maintain this type of interaction with each other.

Everyone has expectations. When we meet someone for the first time, we have certain expectations. We don’t anticipate that person sharing personal, detailed information at the first encounter. The first time I meet someone, I don’t expect to hear about their sexual encounters or about their latest bowel movement or their first kiss. It’s personal information. You may have read my testimony on this blog or in my book, which is one thing; that’s not a social setting. There are things in my testimony I wouldn’t bring up the first time meeting someone because it would go against social norms and disrupt meaningful social interaction.

A second reason social norms should exist are to protect from harmful decisions. Before I get into this, let me say that in the past, social norms have existed and probably still exist in some cases that keep people from making healthy decisions. For example, some people fear social reprisal for substance abuse so they don’t seek treatment. They’re afraid of what everyone would think. Women have been afraid to speak out against abusers for the same reason. These are damaging social norms that are being reversed, which is a good thing.
On the other hand, healthy social norms that historically have inhibited people from making destructive choices have also deteriorated. For example, decades ago, if someone smoked, particularly teenagers, they were considered deviant. Now, smoking marijuana as a teenager is almost considered normal. Legalizing it furthers the normalization of it. Sexual deviance was once considered abhorrent behavior. Now promiscuity is almost expected and other forms of sexual deviance are simply considered sexual preference. While some non-traditional sexual preferences could be argued as not damaging to the individual or society, I hope we can agree that certain sexual deviances certainly are. For example, if pedophilia ever became considered a normal sexual preference, that would be a complete travesty.

The point to this blog is not necessarily to argue for or against social norms that have shifted over the past several decades in our nation, but rather simply to say that we should have social norms. Everything shouldn’t be ok. There should be a standard. Many of our founding fathers believed the Bible should be the standard. I do to. The difficult part in the Church is how do we not accept certain behavior societally but still accept every individual as they are to lead them to Jesus? This is the difficult duty as pastors and Christians. It takes prayer, divine wisdom, and guidance from the Holy Spirit to walk that thin gray line. Pray for your pastors today.

That’s the Josh Perspective.

Jarha’s Greatest Service Part 4

Jarha and Yafah weren’t married yet, but he already viewed her as his wife. They both entered into this relationship reluctantly at the behest of the master of the house to maintain his inheritance and secure his lineage, more important than their own personal preferences. After all, few people either of them had ever met actually married for love. Yafah’s parents married for similar reasons, and Jarha’s culture practiced polygamy before being taken by the Israelites, so his mother was just property to his father whom he barely had a relationship with. It wasn’t until being bought by the master of the house that he felt he truly had a father. He found it ironic that his real father treated him like a slave, and his slave master treated him like a son. Now, here he was marrying the master’s daughter and gaining an inheritance! He never thought life would take this turn. His only task ahead was to tame his wild bride.
Yafah was quiet at dinner, which was becoming more and more normal.

“How was your day, sweetie,” her father asked.

“Ok,” she said tearing her bread. It was an improvement. For days after being asked to merry Jarha she wouldn’t eat at all.

“Well good. I’m glad you had a good day.

Jarha didn’t say much either. He saw Yafah as more of a project than a fiancé. He just kept staring at her shoveling food into his mouth, at least that’s how she felt. In reality, he didn’t know what to say. He had agreed to merry his master’s daughter because he cared for him like a father, the only father he knew, but he didn’t know anything about women. All he knew was she didn’t want to merry him. She’d agreed to it to please her father and because she wasn’t sure if anyone would want to merry her at all.

“I’m finished,” she said. “I’ll be in my room. Let me know when you’re done, and I’ll come clean up.”

“That’s ok, honey. We’ll get it.”

Yafah went up to her room, shut the door, and lay silently on her bed praying in her heart to the Lord that He would provide some other way for her father’s heritage to be salvaged.

“She’ll never be happy with me. She has these fantastic ideas of love and romance in her head.”

“Just give it time, Jarha. I truly believe she’ll come around.”

Jarha and the master stayed up for a bit discussing the arrangements for the marriage (ceremony, dowry, the house, etc.). Soon, neither of them could focus on the conversation, and they knew it was time to retire for the evening. They said their goodnights and went to their separate rooms.

As Jarha was saying his evening prayers, he heard sounds in Yafah’s room. He knew she was awake. He stood still like a lion about to pounce on his prey. He soon heard her door open. He knew she’d been sneaking out, and this was his chance to follow her to see what exactly she was doing. He waited a few minutes and left to follow her.

He expected her end up at a street corner or a lover’s house, but when she didn’t even go through town and just ended up in the pasture, he was bewildered. Unwittingly, she led him up to the top of a large hill with short grass. There wasn’t really any place for him to hide, so he just lay facedown in the grass on the side of the hill.

It was dark, but the sky was lit with thousands of stars. He simply hoped she couldn’t see. He watched her lay down on the hilltop on her back and simply stare at the stars. It wasn’t long before she began to speak.

“Lord, I know you hear me. I don’t deserve an answered prayer. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. I need your wisdom, Lord. You know I don’t want to merry Jarha. Well, I don’t think I do. I don’t really have a reason not to. I can’t say I’ll never love him. He’s a good man, Lord. I know he cares about you. He’s been good to my father. I know he’ll be a good husband. He just isn’t what I’d always pictured for myself. Lord, I’m not worthy, but if this is your will, will you please give me a sign?” Yafah waited to hear the Lord speak. She waited for anything. She felt the cool breeze blow across her genteel face. Then, she saw a shooting star. “Is that it, Lord? Is that my sign?”
Just as those words left her lips-

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Ants! Ants! Ants!” Someone was yelling and hitting themselves all over.

“Jarha!” She rushed over to him.

“What are you doing here,” she yelled.

“You followed me here?! I knew it! You think I’m some kind of ‘lady of the night.’ I have news for you-“ She started him all over.

“ANTS!” was all he could say. “Thank you!” She just kept hitting him all over at first because she was mad, but then she realized the ants we’re no ploy. They were big, red, and extremely territorial.

“Ouch!” she cried. “I’m getting bitten!”

“Let’s move,” Jarha urgently suggested. Slapping each other all over, they fled. When they finally reached the house, they were out of breath, stared at each other and laughed so hysterically-

“KNOCK IT OFF!!!” yelled a neighbor. That just made them laugh even harder.

Smiling, he stared at Yafah. “For a few minutes, I thought we were children again.”

It was as if his voice brought her back from that childhood place.

“You followed me. You followed me to my secret place and listened to my conversation with God. Why did you follow me?”

“You will soon be my wife. I needed to know where you were going.”

“You could’ve asked.”
“I didn’t know if I could trust your answer.”

“Why?”

“Honestly, you’re pretentious, immature, and sometimes outright cantankerous.”

“Well, I think you’re brawn doesn’t reflect your brain. You’re stuffy. You’re too presumptuous, and most of the time you smell like a goat, a goat I met recently actually.”

“You never listen! You’re rebellious. You avoid your duties and frankly-“ he paused.

“Frankly what?! What else do you have to say?”

“Frankly—Well, the only thing else I can think to say is. . . We’ll, you’re beautiful.” He blushed.

“I’m what?”

“I’m sorry. Even standing here arguing with you trying to tell myself all the things I don’t like about you, I still can’t help but stand here and be consumed with just how beautiful I think you are.”

“Hah,” she said with her arms folded. “I don’t believe it. You just don’t want to lose an argument and that was all you could think to say.”

“It was all I could think to say because the longer I look at you, the more overcome I am. It’s the truth. I’ve always thought you were beautiful, but I was just a slave. When your father said he wanted us to merry, I got defensive because I thought you’d never agree or be happy with me. Just a slave.”

The truth struck her heart. Suddenly she realized her father was right. Growing up, he was less than a brother, but much more than a slave, even more than a friend. Since they lived in the same house, they had to distance themselves emotionally from each other, but now they could both embrace what they’d always wanted.

“Yafah, do you think you could learn to love me, just a slave?”

“Jarha, you’ve never been just a slave to me, not truly, not in my heart. I . . . I’m sorry for the things I said to my father and to you.”

“I’m sorry, too. Let’s go inside.”
They headed upstairs to their rooms, but before they parted-

“Jarha?”

“Yes?”

“The answer is ‘Yes.’ I know I can grow to love you. You’re a wonderful man. That is if I don’t already. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” he said. She shut her door, and Jarha just stood there not knowing for how long breathing in the moment and looking forward to a nearest to perfect future this life had to offer with a love so perfect, so pure, so unusual, it had to be divine.

Jarha’s Greatest Service Part 3

The following story is based on I Chronicles 2:34-35. . . loosely. . . very loosely. Ya’ have to read between the lines A LOT. Now, we’ll pick up where we left off.

Yafah spent the coming days just waiting. She waited hear from her father that she had to marry Jarha. He was a servant. It’s true they grew up together, but he was a servant. Her father treated him like a son, a first born son, but he was a servant. She couldn’t get past it. The day finally came.

All day she’d been thinking about it, painting herself as the wife of a slave skewing reality to the point that she was being sold in slave markets being separated from her children. Cooking dinner with her father, she could feel it coming on. He was cheerful, smiling, talking about how she was when she was just a little girl. All the while the knot in her stomach grew. She felt as if her life would soon be over.

“Where is Jarha,” she asked as they sat down on the floor pillows to eat.

“He went out with some friends. It’s just you and me tonight.”
Great. A slave and a drunk, she thought.

“It’s been the three of us for a long time, but you and he have never really spoken much have you. Why is that?”

“I don’t know, Dad.” She stared at her plate and a piddled with her flat bread. “Because he’s a slave. He’s a slave, Dad.”

“Sweetie, he’s not a slave, and you know that. You’ve grown up with him. When you were children, you welcomed him to our home. You played together. You read together. You learned together, but one day something happened.”

“I know what you want me to say, and it isn’t true. The truth is I realized he’s just a slave.” Her voice quivered and tears began welling in her eyes.

“He’s not a slave. You know that. He’s always been much more than a servant but not quite a brother. It’s put you an awkward position, especially after both your mother’s passed away and it was just the three of us. You’ve always had to deny what you both wanted, and it’s been so long that now that you can embrace it, it’s almost impossible for you to accept it.”

“I won’t merry that slave! I won’t! He’s not my brother! He’s not my friend. He’s a slave. That’s all he will ever be to me.” She began sobbing into her hands. Her father was taken aback. “I heard you last night, you and Jarha talking about me. Pretentious. Immature. Spoiled. He didn’t say it, but he wanted to. He practically accused me of being a harlot, and you did nothing to defend me! How could you,” she screamed. “Why don’t you just take me outside the gates and have me stoned!” With that, she ran upstairs, slammed the door to her room, and lay down on her bed weeping. Partially, she didn’t know why, but mostly because of the words she heard her father and more-than-a-slave but not-quite-a-brother Jarha said to one another.

Her father cleaned up the dishes with the washing pots and threw out the palm leaves. He decided she needed a little more time to herself, so he went into his room and prayed. He prayed for restoration with his daughter and acceptance to the agreement. He would not marry her away without her consent; he loved and respected her too much.

I know she snuck out last night, Jarha thought to himself, but I have no idea what she was doing. I can’t just jump to conclusions. Gathering eggs from the chicken coup didn’t take much thought, so his mind had plenty of freedom to wander. Still, I agreed to merry her, so merry her I will. Then, I will tame her wild heart.

Jarha’s Greatest Service Part 2

“Daddy, I’m home,” Yafah proclaimed as she walked through the door. “Bati, you can just take my clothes to my room.”

“Yes, my sweet buttercup.”

“Don’t call me that!”

“Is that boy with you, Yafah,” her father yelled from upstairs.

“Which one?”

“Never mind. I’ll be down soon. Jarha and I are discussing business.”

Jarha, she thought to herself, what a prude. He’s hot, though. What a waste. He’ll never get a decent woman being so stuffy.

“OK, Daddy!” With that, she went into her room and turned her attention to Bati who had neatly folded all of her new clothes and arranged them by color on her lavishly perfumed bed. As she approached, he took her by the hand and blushed.

“Not now, you moron. My Daddy’s home. If he sees you touching me he’ll kill you.” She always had a way to keep the boys at bay. While she didn’t exactly keep all the rules, she wasn’t one to be taken advantage of. “You should probably go.”

“But you promised me dinner.”

“I know. I’m just really tired. I’m sure you understand. It’s been a stressful day,” she explained as she practically pushed him out the door. What a loser. He’s sweet, but a loser. Lots of money, though.

“There’s my girl,” he exclaimed embracing Yafah, his only child. “Business matters are done. Yafah, let’s fix dinner. Jarha, I know you have some matters to tend to, but I hope you’ll join us this evening.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Jarha, you’ve been wish us for over a decade, since you and Yafah we’re children. You’re no slave. You’re no servant. You’re family. You can dispense with formalities.”

“With all due respect, sir, even if I were born into your family, I would still call you ‘sir’ because you are worthy of that respect.”

“Well, then. I suppose I can’t argue with that! I’ll look for you at dinner time. Yafah, let’s fix dinner.”

Fresh flat bread from that morning, tomatoes, black olives, toasted lamb, and red wine mingled with goat milk made a fine and tasty meal. Yafah told the story of Bati dropping all of her new clothes and realized how much she had overreacted.

“I know. I owe him an apology.”

“It’s more than that, Yafah. You are 19 years of age. You are my only child. Though I do not desire to be alone, I do desire you to wed. You need to be a bit more mature and start treating people with respect.”

“I know,” she sighed as she stuffed her mouth with a large piece of flat bread with a large glob of hummus.

Late that night, Yafah had gotten up. As many times before, her plan was to sneak out of the house, climb to the top of the hill, lay in the grass, and stare at the stars. Her plans were interrupted come from her father’s room. Slowly she crept to the door and put her ear up to it. She clearly heard her father and Jarha quietly speaking.

“She is pretentious. She’s is lax in her duties. She sneaks out at night doing who knows what with who knows whom. Sir, I’m not trying to be insulting, but are you even certain she’s still a virgin?”

“Jarha, I know that’s important to you. I won’t force you to do this, but please understand my position. She is my only child. If she marries anyone else, my legacy, my posterity will be lost to another clan. Please, at least consider it. I know she’s immature and a bit harsh on the outside, but she has a heart of gold, Jarha. You just have to see it.”

“I will consider it. I do not believe she will agree to the arrangement. She hates me.”

“She doesn’t hate you, Jarha. She just doesn’t know how to act sometimes.”

“She barely speaks to me.”

“That could change. At any rate, it’s getting late.”

Yafah quickly but quietly made her back to her own room and lay down in her large, down bed.

How could he do this me? Merry me off to a slave? A servant? What was Jarha talking about? Plenty of men would want me. Just look at Bati. He practically swoons over me. I’m smart. I’m pretty. Right? I am pretty. I can do a little better in the “nice” category, but I’m desirable right? She began to tear up. I don’t want this. She hugged her pillow and cried herself to sleep.

Jarha’s Greatest Service (Part 1)

The following story is based on I Chronicles 2:34-35. . . loosely. . . very loosely. Ya’ have to read between the lines A LOT.

Yafah and Bati briskly walked through the marketplace, when Yafah said to him, “Hurry up, Bati. Caleb’s Garments is supposed to be the best place for linen in all of Judah, and if we don’t get there soon, they’re going to sell out.

“I’m going as fast as I can, my beautiful sweet date,” he said to her, “but it’s quite difficult to see around all of these clothes you’ve piled in my arms.”

“I let you take me shopping. The least you could do is try to keep up.”

“I am sorry, my raven-haired jewel,” he said as his toe caught a small stone jutting slightly from the road. He fell forward losing his grip on the multicolored tower of dresses, scarves, and jewelry, and it all came tumbling down.

“My clothes! Bati! You . . . You. . . Well, hurry and pick them up!”

Bati scrambled to gather up all the extravagant clothing.
“I’m so sorry, my love!”

“Don’t call me that, and if there is so much as a wrinkle on one of those, I’ll make you buy me two to replace it!”

“So sorry!”

“Stop telling me how sorry you are because I already know! Now, hurry up and let’s go before Caleb’s runs out!”

“Yes my dear!”

They increased their walk to a more brisk pace and arrived at Caleb’s in minutes. It was a small tent, and a short, plump gentleman wearing a fez and accompanied by a slowly chewing goat sat behind the wooden counter.

“Are you Caleb?” Yafah snarled and dug her fingernails into the counter practically peeling away a layer.

“Yeeeeeeeeeeesss. It is I, Caleb the Taylor of wonder. And who might you be?”

“What is that horrible smell? It smells like my father’s farm.”

“Oh, that is Muffins. She’s my seeing eye goat.”

“Baaaaaaaaaaa,” declared Muffins without trepidation.

“You’re blind?”
“I like to say I see with my hands,” he stated wiggling his fingers.

“Where are your clothes?”

He confusedly touched his fingers to his chest.

“The ones you’re selling!”

“Oh! I didn’t think I’d left without my shirt again. My wife hates it when that happens. Well, it was only once. Isn’t that right, Muffiwuffikins,” he said hugging Muffins around the neck.

“Baaaaaaaaaaa,” replied Muffins.

“The CLOTHES, and I’m getting impatient.” She had to force her words through clenched teeth.

“Oh yes! I sold out about 10 minutes ago.”

“WHAT?!!! Sold out?! Wudda’ you mean sold out?!”

“Sweetie, your face looks so wonderful in lavender,” Bati piped in.

“YOU.” She turned on her heels and pointed her finger directly and lethally at Bati. For a moment, he felt his heart stop beating, and he literally thought her looks would kill him.
Lord, spare me today. There are none that praise you in the pit. He had instantly become so spiritual he was quoting Psalms that hadn’t yet been written.

“This is YOUR fault.” In his mind, her eyes had become red with the blood of devilish sacrifices and her voice otherworldly. “Had you not fallen like a clumsy fool, I’d be covered in eastern silk woven with gold strands right now.”

“You’d be breaking the law of Moses for mixing two-“

“I DON’TNEED YOUR INPUT.” Her voice boomed and throbbed like the heavy steps of a giant golem created by a hundred masters. “COME WITH MEEEEE,” she commanded. Bati could’ve sworn he didn’t even see her mouth move.

“Yes, my dainty, fuzzy peach.” What am I thinking? Fuzzy? Are you mad? Are you trying to get yourself killed, Bati? “I. . .I mean peachy fuzz.” Whew! That was a close one.

Yafah began walking quickly home. Bati did his best to keep up, but he certainly didn’t drop any clothes again.

We’ll, y’all. That’s part one. If you like it so far, share it on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever. We’ll do part 2 next week, but I guess you figured that.

Home Remedy for Staph Infection

Before I get into this, let me just say I’m not a doctor. I’m not the son of a doctor. I’m not a licensed naturalist. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Before you try this home remedy, consult your doctor. Staph infections can be extremely serious depending on the variety of the staph, location of the infection, and other conditions the patient may have that could make things worse, like diabetes, a compromised immune system, nutritional deficits, heart conditions, and other things.
I had some before and after photos, but apparently I lost them. I get recurrent staph infections. A lot of people do. Once someone gets one, they’re easy to get again and again and again and again. Sometimes, mine heal on their own, but about every 3 months, I get one that I have to do something about. Since I don’t want to go on antibiotics every 3 months, I’ve searched online for home remedies. Antibiotics kill good bacteria in the body along with the bad and going on them repeatedly for the same thing contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria, and I don’t want to contribute to that.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran across an article on garlic. I had heard before that garlic was antibacterial. This article claims that it’s also antiviral and antifungal. It said the primary chemical compound in garlic with these properties is called allicin. Allicin, it says, breaks down in heat, so eating garlic actually lessens the positive effects and can kill the good bacteria in your GI tract. However, it can be absorbed directly through the skin. The article suggests several ways to accomplish this. I’m going to tell you what my experience has been.
I first tried this when I felt like I was coming down with a cold. I took a fresh clove of garlic, out it in my mouth, and crushed it in my teeth and just held it in my cheek. Bad idea. After a short time, it literally started to burn. As a matter of fact, it took a couple of days to heal. My second go watch just biting into it a little bit at a time and leaving it in my mouth for a couple of hours. The next day, I felt right as rain.
My second experiment involved a staph infection in the tip of my nose about the size of a medium sized marble. In this case what I did was put a about half a teaspoon of solid coconut oil on the inside of a ziplock bag. Then, I put a garlic cloves inside the bag on the coconut oil blob. Then, using a heavy glass, I crushed it and mixed the oil with the garlic clove really well. I used the garlic cloves to wipe the oil inside and outside my nose and left it on overnight. I saw improvement the next morning. I did this once a day until the infection was pretty much gone.
Next, I developed an infection on my rear. I used the previous method until I was out of coconut oil. The infection was almost gone, so I thought it’d be ok. It wasn’t. Two more infections popped up in its place. I started using olive oil. As you can imagine, this could quite messy. I used a piece of 4×4 gauze. Put the oil garlic mixture on the gauze and tape it on my spots. The first day, there no improvement, but it didn’t get worse, so I decided to keep at it. It’s been getting steadily better every day since. However, my wife can’t stand the smell. The article I read stated the garlic is most potent within the first fifteen minutes of crushing it, so what I’ll try next is staying in the bathroom for 15 minutes, whipping it off, and seeing if that’s tolerable and effective.
Here are some additional tips. Never apply the garlic directly to your skin without a carrier oil. It can cause a lot of skin irritation. If you do try this for a staph infection, you should see results the next day. At the very least it shouldn’t be noticeably worse. If it is, go the doctor. Home remedies do t work for everyone, and staph infections progress extremely quickly. Don’t wait to be septic to see a doctor. If you develop a fever, that’s a strong indicator that you’ve waited way to long to see a doctor.
I hope this post helps someone! If you think it might, share it to your Facebook page!