The Sanctity of Even Animal Life

This week’s parsha (weekly Torah portion) is Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16-18. In it, we find rules pertaining to killing and eating animals. The main one that I want to focus on is that you must drain the blood from the meat, for the soul (nefesh in Hebrew) is in the blood.

I read the parsha and didn’t think twice about it. Like, cool. Respect the life of an animal, don’t eat the blood. Gotcha. I’m not against hunting animals or killing pests or whatever the case may be, so I’m good.

But, as our family reads through the Torah with the rest of the Jewish community around the world, we also watch videos from the not Messianic Rabbi David Fohrman’s ministry Aleph Beta. Despite not having the rest of the story, Rabbi Fohrman has some incredible insights into the Old Testament, especially the Torah, the first five books.

This parsha’s newest video is called, “Are We Supposed to Eat Animals?” and started out sounding kinda PETA-y. “Oh, this verse makes it sound like it’s murder to kill an animal, even though God already gave us permission, so we should seriously consider vegetarianism.” So I was skeptical. #bereanwholikesagoodburger

But then I remembered Pandora. No, not the Greek myth, but the planet from the movie Avatar. I recently rewatched Avatar, so it’s been kinda rattling around in my head. It’s very obviously not a Christian movie, and it’s actually very animistic and new age-y. “God is in everything. Our spirits join the universe when we die.” whatever. HOWEVER…

In the movie, the main character, a US Marine in his Pandorian “avatar”, is about to get eaten by a pack of alien creatures. Suddenly, someone attacks Them, saving his life. The female native who saved him is very upset that she had to kill even these seemingly evil creatures to save him. She “prays” over the carcasses, releasing their spirits and apologizing for taking them. The American, as a trained Marine, is scornful of this ritual. But it was very very important to her. Why? Because all life was sacred to their culture.

And this is the point that the video gets to. God created all life as sacred. He has given animals to us for food, but we need to be considerate of the soul inside them as well. There’s a progression that He has given us as a commentary on what it means to kill.

Genesis 9
v.3 All animals, every living thing, I am now giving you as food. Just like I gave you plants, now I’m giving you everything.
v. 4 But flesh, with its soul (nefesh), its blood, you shall not eat.
v. 5-6 But your blood, of your souls, I will demand [an account]…whoever sheds the blood of man, through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man.

Plants don’t have nefesh, a soul.
Animals have nefesh.
People have nefesh, but are also made in the image of God.

Any nefesh is to be protected and cared for. When we kill an animal, we have ended the life of another being. We are to be respectful of that, not flippant. God calls us to cover up the blood, almost as a sign that He’s not holding the death of another creature against us.

And that’s where the video ends. But we have the blood of our Savior covering us, so we have even more insight into this idea. Instead of us covering up the blood of our necessary evils, Our everyday sin is covered By The Blood. And That’s the greatest news. That’s the fulfillment of the love for all that Genesis 9 first implements. God cares for all His creatures, but He created us just a little lower than the angels. He cares so much that He didn’t even spare His son’s life.

And do you realize what that means? If the soul is in the blood, then the nefesh of the Son of God covers US. I can’t even begin to fathom it. Now That’s good news.

That’s the gospel.

Squid 🙂

What An Opportunity!

As I approach the end (don’t remind me! I’m loving this season of my life!) of the second-to-last semester of high school, I am very aware of the opportunities and privileges I’ve been given.

  1. I am dual-enrolled in a Stats class at our local state college.
  2. I finally made it to Advanced Band as a (mainly) mallet percussionist.
  3. I help lead worship once in a while at our synagogue and church.
  4. I’ve already been accepted to both of the colleges I applied to, Covenant College and The King’s College.  I pre-qualified for a $18,000 scholarship from TKC, which makes actually going there a realistic possibility.
  5. I am eligible for a full-ride scholarship from both colleges, but I have to write some essays and jump through some other hoops first. But praise God that I had a high enough ACT score to actually qualify!

But that all fades away in light of the world-wide opportunity for ALL Christians that Adam Ford breaks down brilliantly for us in his latest CDRticle.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Ford’s work, he’s the guy who started the Babylon Bee.  Sometime last year, he sold that lovely website to the other guys who were helping him with it so that he could work full time on his newest project, the Christian Daily Reporter.  He makes podcasts and comics as a part of CDR, and they’re always insightful and hardhitting. socialism-doesn't-work

But if his political commentary is brilliant, his Christian encouragement and admonitions are even better.  His latest CDRticle is called What an Opportunity We Have as Christians Today

I hope it strengthens your resolve as much as it strengthened mine.  For Narnia! 🙂


In today’s exceedingly polarized and angry political climate, what an opportunity we have as Christians.

As warring factions fight in the streetsbombs are planted in mailboxespoisons are mailed to government officialsrocks are chucked through office windowsracist robocalls are circulatedpoliticians and their families are chased from restaurantsand parts of cities fall to manic mobs, what an opportunity we have to season our convictions with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

As social media and click-bait websites intoxicate the masses with fleeting dopamine hits as rewards for “owning” one’s foes, what an opportunity we have to care deeply about policy and social issues not out of resentment or self-importance, but as a outgrowth of our love of neighbor and care for our fellow man’s physical and eternal well-being.

As political camps, drunk on ideology, proceed to hate, curse, and wish ill upon each other, what an opportunity we have to be willing to discuss our beliefs in a civil manner, attempting to persuade using reason, logic, and grace; firmly, yet with broken hearts and love in our eyes.

As politicians and their armies on all sides will increasingly do or say anything — anything — to accrue power, what an opportunity we have to refuse to compromise truthfulness or bear false witness.

As groupthink-fueled tribes and their echo chambers become more deeply entrenched, what an opportunity we have within the body of Christ to exhibit our dedication to each other as paramount by disagreeing with one another on politics with care and affection — not as the world does, but as fellow members of the royal priesthood and siblings in God’s eternal family, in a way that might manifest Christ’s words in front of unbelievers: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As our culture increasingly worships politics, what an opportunity we have to show that our politics are subservient to — and an overflow of — our worship of the One True God and the life He has called us to live in Jesus Christ.

These are unique and furious times, and you and I are not here by accident.

What an opportunity we have.


Squid

The Christian Foundation for the Highest Human Ideals

The doctrine that we are created in the image of God gives a solid foundation for human freedom and moral significance. We do not have to resort to an irrational upper-story leap [from “fact- based science” to “value-based morality/ethics”]. Given the starting point of a personal God, our own personhood is completely explicable…The Christian worldview provides a firm basis for the highest human ideals.

-Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey (p. 111)

Are You Texting God?

Have you ever texted God?

You know, when you send up a quick prayer in the middle of something else, like you’d text a friend.

“Hey, God, I can’t find my keys and we have to leave in 5 minutes.  Please give me clarity!!” 

“God, You are so good!! Thank you!!” 

“How do I reach this person?  Lead my words please, Holy Spirit.”

“Please heal [friend who is sick] and give them your peace during this time.”

Recently, I’ve realized that this has become the bulk of my prayer life, which I’m not OK with.

Why? (you might ask)

Have you ever met a friend at a camp, vacation, or other short-term experience?  You get close to them, exchange numbers, and promise to keep in touch. But how often does your relationship stay that close or get better? Not very often, at least in my experience.  Some friendships are close enough or evenly-enthusiastic (where both of you desperately want to talk to each other) to stay close, but it’s always a different dynamic over text. You can’t help it!

In my experience, when you have a solely text-based relationship, it deteriorates. 

Example: I have/had two very close friends from camp this summer, one I text, one I email.  The email relationship “lasted” longer, as in, we talked more, and more frequently, than my texting friend, but it still was less fulfilling than talking in person, and we’ve drifted apart by virtue of busy schedules and other important things.  My texting friend is a lovely person, one of my favorite people I’ve ever met, but we have different lives!  If we hung out in person, I know we’d reconnect really well, but it’s just not the same over text.

But when you spend quality time with your friend, even when that’s just hanging out after church because your moms are talking (this never happens to me 🙂 ), you get a feel for their tone, their personality, and their character. You invest in the relationship in an almost tangible manner, and that counts immensely.  (Also, as a physical touch person, being able to interact physically (waving, hugging, smiling, making eye contact, hearing actual laughter, and pretending (or not) to hit them when they’re teasing you) is huge.)

(wow, a three-deep parentheses nest! … I’m not sure I should be proud of that, lol)

This applies to our relationship with God tremendously. 

When the only contact we have with God is over text, we lose the personal connection we had with Him whenever we last (first) truly connected with Him, whether it be at church, church camp, or in a middle-of-the-night prayer session.

In the Psalms (I’m mainly thinking about 119, but there are definitely a lot of others), David raves about his joy in God’s commands, how they direct his life in blatant ways, how they give him a reason to live, and how God is really incredible (but that’s obviously a huge understatement).  He sounds like me when I talk with my friends about a close friend who we all think is awesome and are just really thankful for.

But do you know how we got to know that really awesome friend? BY SPENDING TIME WITH THEM.

We have to have “face to face” talks with God to really keep the beauty of our relationship with Him alive.  This usually works best in a private place, though I’ve had some intense prayer arguments with God that left me in tears at His goodness in a group setting. 🙂 Setting aside time for, well, anything is something I struggle with, but it’s so important that I can’t afford to let it slip away from me. 

This is my resolution. To stop letting other “priorities” in my busy high school lifestyle get in my way of my time with God. Texting Him needs to be a supplement to our awesome recurring “face to face” conversations.

Sydney

The Privilege of Prayer

It’s a privilege, Lord
To talk to You in prayer
You bend your ear
And listen there

My filthy soul
You see as clean
All because of
Christ in me


I know this is the third poem in a row, so if you don’t like poetry, sorry, haha.  If you do like poetry, then here’s a little background:

The first stanza was written in March 2016, and the second stanza over a month later. But I wrote them on the same piece of paper, so I read them together, and I quite liked it. So, this is a composite prayer-poem. I hope it touches you as much as it continues to touch me. 🙂

Sydney

Trees

With quiet dignity

Standing as a refuge

For those who flock to you.

You are shelter,

Security,

A place for us to

Grow.

Rooted in reality and

Reaching to the sky,

You remind me that

An acorn has to

Die

Before it can

Thrive.

Hey, guys! It’s been a busy summer at Camp Gilead, so this is a poem I wrote in April on the prompt “A Tree.” I look forward to reconnecting with you all after the end of this last week of camp!!

-Squid

The Shedding of Perfect Blood

“In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22 CJB

I often forget that it should have been my blood shed upon the cross.  But my blood couldn’t have atoned for my sin, because I am not a spotless lamb, I am a crippled one; I should have died without ever being restored to God and would have spent eternity in the flames of Sheol.

Jesus, Yeshua, our spotless Passover Lamb, sacrificed himself to Death so we could live.  Praise God!  Forever!  Seriously!

Sydney

 

 

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