Friday, November 27, 2009

The Escape Valve

The Escape Valve


A pressure cooker is a special cooking pot with a locking, airtight lid and a valve system to regulate internal pressure. Pressure cookers operate on a principle whereby the steam that builds up inside the pressurized pot cooks food at a very high temperature; the more pounds of pressure, the higher the internal temperature and the quicker the food cooks.  This reduces the cooking time by as much as two-thirds without destroying the food's nutritional value. Traditional models are equipped with detachable pressure regulators that can adjust the pressure.  Newer pressure cooker designs feature built-in valves and indicator rods that indicate the pressure.  So, pressure cookers have a safety valve, which will automatically vent the steam should there be a malfunction.  Safety valves are also called escape valves.  It is a valve in a container which opens automatically when the pressure reaches a dangerous level. 


The term pressure cooker is also used as a metaphor for social situations or atmospheres of difficulty, stress, or anxiety.  The challenge is to have also a metaphorical escape valve.  The truth is all of us have been in situations or circumstances were we have snapped or exploded.  We have dealt with it out of our frustration or irritation, in other words in anger.  Such was the case of Moses and Aaron in Numbers 20.  In verse 1, we read that: "…Miriam died and was buried."  Moses and Aaron at this point are 120 and 123 of years of age, respectively.  And, they had just buried their Sister.   The unsympathetic crowd only thought of themselves.  We read the rest of the story in Numbers 20: 2 - 13


2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron.

3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: "If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!

4 Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?

5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink."

6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them.
7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

8 "Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals."

9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?"

11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."
13 This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was hallowed among them. 


On a human level, it's easy to understand Moses' frustration. First, as mentioned above, he just had buried his sister, and no doubt was feeling pain over that. And then to hear these people utter, basically, the same complaint that their forefathers had made years ago? Nevertheless, in the Lord's eyes, none of this excused his behavior.  The Lord's rebuke toward Moses and Aaron in verse 12 was very strong.  God also gives them the reason: "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them"   Moses and Aaron sinned because in that moment they lacked faith.  This displeased God.  Sister White says their bad example affected the whole congregation,


"The water gushed forth in abundance to satisfy the host. But a great wrong had been done. Moses had spoken from irritated feeling. . . . When he took it upon himself to accuse them, he grieved the Spirit of God and wrought only harm to the people. His lack of patience and self-control was evident. Thus the people were given occasion to question whether his past course had been under the direction of God, and to excuse their own sins. Moses, as well as they, had offended God. His course, they said, had from the first been open to criticism and censure. They had now found the pretext which they desired for rejecting all the reproofs that God had sent them through His servant."—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 417.


All it took was one irrational act to destroy everything done up to that moment.  We may think it was little and of no consequence, but the ramifications were felt negatively within the future generations.  This is a lesson for all of us.  What we do not only affects us but those around us as well.  It would do us well to have an escape valve, so our anger and frustration do not reach dangerous levels in which we explode, thus destroying ourselves and those around us.  Of course, that escape valve is Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  But, it only works if we believe (have faith).  The Apostle said, "Be ye angry, and sin not …" (Ephesians 4:26).  Only the Holy Spirit can help us do that.  Do we believe He can?  Will we let Him? 

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 13, 2009




Young Cecilia lost her mother when she was 3 years of age.  Since then she stayed with her grandmother.  Her Aunt Heather looked after her.  Aunt Heather mad sure she had enough money for things.  She paid for Cecilia's school, bought her clothes, and bought her expensive gifts.  All other Aunts pitched in occasionally but not as much as Heather. 


One day when many of the Aunts were home.  They approached Cecilia and started asking her about her relationship with Heather.  In doing so, they started to tell her things about Heather so as to question Heather's best interest in Cecilia.  Cecilia was now confused.  Could they be right?  Aunt Heather was like a mother to her.  All the things they said made sense, but how could it be?  How could Heather have deceived her all these years?


Cecilia decided to approach Heather and ask her.  Needless to say, Heather was hurt that Cecilia would question her intentions.  Wise grandmother was overhearing the conversation.  She called Cecilia.  Cecilia reluctantly came to her.  Then grandmother said to Cecilia, "Some of the things that you're Aunts said may be true.  I know.  I raised them all.  I also know that about sibling rivalry.  I have siblings myself, and a few of us do not get along until now.  My daughters are no different.  It hurts me that they do not get along.  It hurts me more that they are trying to use you to play games with each other.  Aunt Heather loves you.  The others are jealous of her.  Where were they when you needed help and nurturing?  Where were they when you needed someone to look after you?  Never forget that.  Aunt Heather has always been here for you.  They have not.  I love my daughters, but the truth is the truth."  Cecilia cried and ran to Aunt Heather, hugged her and asked for forgiveness. 


Behind many an accusation there is a hidden agenda.  On the surface the reasons for the accusation may seem rational and logical, and even altruistic in nature.  But, more often than not, there is underneath a self serving reason.  Typically, the accuser is trying to position him/her to gain something.  Even when the accusations are false the accuser is trying to gain something. 


Such seems to be the case with Korah.  We read in Numbers 16: 1 - 3,


Numbers 16

 1Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:

 2And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:

 3And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?


From an outsider point of view it may seem that way.  Of course the accusations were false. God was not with them in the same way He was with Moses, had this been true they would have never rebelled against Moses and accuse him that way.  It was not Moses decision to create a division of labor.  It was God's decision based on the people's rejection of God's plan to make them all priests.  It seems Korah thought that what God had appointed him to do was beneath him.  Korah wanted more.  This is what Moses implies in his response to the accusations in Numbers 16: 9 - 11,


Numbers 16

 9Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?

 10And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?

 11For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?


Moses unmasked Korah's real intention.  Moses also told Korah that although he is accusing Moses and Aaron, Korah's rebellion is really against God.  When the people rejected the prophet Samuel as Judge and asked for a King God told Samuel "… they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them" (1 Samuel 8:7).   It is the same today.  The same two things happening with those accusing God's appointed servants of wrong doing: 1. they have a hidden agenda and an ulterior motive, and 2. they are really rebelling against God.  Next time you are accusing or accused keep this in mind. 


Raul Diaz

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fwd: Sincerity.doc

A Sincere Christian

 The Etymology (origins) of the word sincere is not clear.  Scholars are divided in this issue.  The Oxford English Dictionary and most scholars state that sincerity from sincere is derived from the Latin sincerus meaning clean, pure, sound (1525–35). Sincerus may have once meant "one growth" (not mixed), from sin- (one) and crescere (to grow).  Crescere is cognate with "Ceres," the goddess of grain, as in "cereal."  According to the American Heritage Dictionary[6], the Latin word sincerus is derived from the Indo-European root *sm̥k─ôros, itself derived from the zero-grade of *sem (one) and the suffixed, lengthened e-grade of *ker (grow), generating the underlying meaning of one growth, hence pure, clean.

It does not help that there is n often repeated folk etymology proposes that sincere is derived from the Latin sine = without, cera = wax. According to one popular explanation, dishonest sculptors in Rome or Greece would cover flaws in their work with wax to deceive the viewer; therefore, a sculpture "without wax" would mean honesty in its perfection.  Another explanation is that without wax etymology "is derived from a Greeks-bearing-gifts story of deceit and betrayal. For the feat of victory, the Romans demanded the handing over of obligatory tributes. Following bad advice, the Greeks resorted to some faux-marble statues made of wax, which they offered up as tribute. These promptly melted in the warm Greek sun."

Regardless of the true origin of the word sincere (which means free from hypocrisy, honest, genuine, and/or real), it seems to mean that inside and out is made of the same material: no blends, no mixes, no filling.  This reminds me of how the Lord ordered some things to be done in the sanctuary.  The sanctuary's lamp was made out of pure gold.  Everything in this lamp was to be gold.  We read of this in Exodus 25:31 and 39,

Exo25:31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.

Exo25:39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.

Also the silver trumpets in Numbers 10:2,

Num10:2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.

 The trumpets were made out of a whole piece of silver only.  It is this kind of integrity that Christ had while on earth.  Through and through He was all the same.  His intentions, His thoughts, Words and His actions were in harmony.  All were clean, pure, sound, and not mixed with self (sin).  This is why many considered Christ different than any other man (John 7:46).  This is what men are looking for in us.  This is what the Holy Spirit is trying to produce in us.  It is not only what we say, but how we live, and this requires sincerity.  Sister White says why,

"Our confession of His faithfulness is Heaven's chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world. We are to acknowledge His grace as made known through the holy men of old; but that which will be most effectual is the testimony of our own experience. We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves the working of a power that is divine. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked by our own individuality. These precious acknowledgments to the praise of the glory of His grace, when supported by a Christ-like life, have an irresistible power that works for the salvation of souls."—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 347.  

True sincerity in a Christian is when the intentions of the heart, the words of the mouth, and the actions perform in perfect alignment with agape.  Like the lamp and the trumpets they are made out of one "one whole piece" of agape. 




Raul Diaz