Saturday, January 31, 2015

Be Careful What You Borrow From, or Be Safekeeping For, Others -- Exodus 22:7-9:


“If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him, and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double.  If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property.  For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.”

 
I was telling a friend of mine that a snow-blower I share with two neighbors was in the shop for repairs.  One of the owners thought we could save money by letting him do last year’s end-of-season cleaning and storage.  Not so.  My friend, before he knew the machine was jointly purchased, said, “Surely, you don’t loan things like that to others, do you?”
The truth is, it took me close to five decades of life before I realized that even a brand new automobile that I purchased was not really mine, but a blessing from God for me to share with others.  Up to that point, I’d drive you anywhere you wanted to go, but don’t ask me to lend you my car.
But here we have a little different spin, not so much on the lending of things, but more on asking others to safe-keep valuables for us.  And interesting enough, the major focus of these three verses is not on the owner, but on him who agrees to keep things safe for us.
Now, true to form with respect to previous laws God had given, if you ask someone to keep something for you and it gets stolen from their possession but the thief is caught, the thief will pay double.  No problem there.
But what happens if the thief is not caught?  Well, it appears that the first suspect is the person you asked to take care of your valuables.  And he/she needs to be cleared first. The implication is that the person responsible for keeping the owner’s goods safe appears before a judge.  But, in today’s terms, how does he/she get there except that the owner of the goods lays charges against them?  Now what?  Is that what we are to do?
First of all, remember that today one remains innocent until proven guilty and that has to be beyond reasonable doubt.  Secondly, assuming the individual to whom you turned your possessions over for safe-keeping was a friend or a relative, accusing them through the legal system is a pretty sure way of ending any relationship you may have had.  Finally, if, like you, the other person was a Christ-follower or believer, then you are instructed elsewhere in Scripture not to take him/her to court.  So what can you do?
There’s an adage in Human Resources dealing with problem employees that goes like this: “The best time to fire someone is before you hire them.”  The point is that if we are not prepared to lose something (or have it damaged) that we lend to someone else or something that we ask someone else to safeguard for us, we should never be lending it or asking them to guard it.
As we can see from the rest of the passage, the issue is first and foremost about trust.  We lend things or ask others to take care of them for us because we trust them to be able to do so.  If they do not, we are the ones that erred in our estimation of the person’s integrity or ability to do so.  We cannot blame them or at least doing so would only get us so far – in the wrong direction.  That said, borrowers of integrity would normally, of their own accord, actually replace anything lost or damaged that they borrowed.
However, if we do pursue court action, and the person is found willfully negligent or criminally involved in the loss or damage of the goods, and the courts so find, then he/she shall be required to pay whatever the judge levies on them.  While the Old Testament calls for double-payment, unfortunately in today’s world, we cannot demand it.
As those with whom people entrust their valuables to for safe-keeping, we also have a great responsibility, assuming we are willing to do so, to do all in our power in protecting the owner’s property until it is returned to him/her.  David Guzik suggests that this is required of us as faithful stewards or managers, and it includes what God gives us to manage or steward for Him.
Bottom line, let’s live by these principles: Think carefully before you lend something to others or ask them to keep it for you for a while, and consider whether you are prepared to lose it.  And, think carefully before you accept the responsibility of borrowing someone else’s goods or guarding their possessions.
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 [Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dealing With Fires -- Exodus 22:6

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-->“If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing grain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make restitution.”


I remember as a very young boy setting a hydro field on fire when my cousin and I tried to smoke our first cigarette.  We were not adept with matchbooks, and needless to say the fire spread through the tall dry summer grass, well, like ‘wildfire’ – exactly what it was.  We were scared as the field started to be consumed.  Fortunately the wind was blowing towards the road where the fire came to a natural extinction and not towards the ravine in the opposite direction.
We had started the fire for sure.  I cannot remember whether it was my cousin or I that actually dropped the culprit match, but it did not matter.  We had to pay restitution.  While the fire engine came with sirens blaring and the firefighters made sure everything was safe, my father came with a broom and I assure you it was not to put the fire out.  He must have thought our rears were burning because he certainly did his best, alternating swats at the posteriors of each of us, until we foolishly believed death by natural burning might have been easier to take.
The point in this verse is simple: What we do foolishly or in ignorance may well have a drastic result or consequence for others – their livelihoods or even their lives.  We are therefore to live our life carefully thinking out our actions before we do them.
Let me give you an example, albeit an insignificant one, but I believe the point will be made. Our grandchildren eat breakfast at our kitchen island counter.  Recently our nine year old was enjoying a full bowl of cereal at one end while his eleven-year-old sister was doing the same thing at the other.  He was sniffling and his sister asked him to blow his nose for she could not stand the noise that made.  He ignored her until she finally got up, went and got a recently opened box of tissues (thus still heavy) and slide it at him across the island hitting his bowl and forcing him to block, like a goalie in hockey, the bowl from crashing onto the floor at which point the consequences would have been obvious, not to mention that I would have blown up even more than I did.
Our granddaughter was trying to be helpful and did what she thought was appropriate.  But the way in which she did it and perhaps her attitude were not worthy of praise.  The consequences could have been pretty drastic on a morning when time is limited and one needs to head off to school.
David Guzik says the following on this verse:
This translates into a proper concern for the property of others today. A Christian, if he backs into someone else's car, will certainly leave a note and make good the damage. A Christian will have proper insurance, guaranteeing they can compensate for someone else's loss. If someone gives you something to hold for them you are responsible for it as a faithful steward or manager. This includes what God gives us to manage or steward for Him.
Matthew Henry adds:
If the fire did mischief, he that kindled it must answer for it, though it could not be proved that he designed the mischief. Men must suffer for their carelessness, as well as for their malice. We must take heed of beginning strife; for, though it seem but little, we know not how great a matter it may kindle, the blame of which we must bear, if, with the madman, we cast fire-brands, arrows, and death, and pretend we mean no harm. It will make us very careful of ourselves, if we consider that we are accountable, not only for the hurt we do, but for the hurt we occasion through inadvertency.
For all of the above, let us be careful to consider in advance the impact of all our actions and while we are at it, our words.

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 [Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

God’s Laws Regarding Theft -- Exodus 22:1-5

“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.  If the thief is caught while breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guiltiness on his account.  But if the sun has risen on him, there will blood guiltiness on his account.  He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.  If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.  If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.”

Exodus chapter 22 begins with laws on how those that are involved in various types of theft are to be treated. To begin with, contrary to what liberal minds may think, stealing is not a God-given right regardless of one’s circumstances.  Responding in forgiveness may well be encouraged, but the activity that initiates the need for forgiveness, is not.  The Bible calls for some restitution or repayment for theft.
We note in verse 1, that God calls for different amounts being paid as restitution for a stolen (and killed or sold) ox versus the amount paid for a stolen sheep.  Expositor John Gill (who preached in the same church as C. H. Spurgeon over one hundred years earlier) says this about the reason for the difference:
“ . . . because the one was more valuable than the other, as well as more useful, and also more easily stolen, and therefore the greater mulct or fine was laid upon the theft of it, to deter from it: the Targum of Jonathan expresses the reason of the law thus; five for oxen, because the theft of them hindered from ploughing, or made to cease from it; and for sheep but four, because there was trouble in the theft of them, and there was no tillage or agriculture by them: and Saadiah Gaon observes, that the damage that comes to the owner of the ox is more than that by a lamb, because with it, the ox, he ploughs, which is a creature that was used in those countries to be employed in that service, as well as in treading out the corn: Maimonides accounts for it thus:
“The restitution of the theft of oxen is increased by one, because the theft of them is easy; sheep are fed in flocks, and are easily kept and watched, and can scarcely be taken away by theft but in the night; but oxen are fed scattered here and there, and therefore cannot be so easily kept by the herdsmen; hence also their theft used to be more common:”
“Fourfold restitution was in use with the ancient Persians, with whom it was a rule,
“Whoever took any substance of another, in retaliation they took fourfold from him, and if he restored it, he gave fourfold of the same.''”

The text then turns to a matter of great debate of late.  What happens when the owner of the property kills the thief during his attempt to steal?  Or put another way, “do I as a guardian of my home and family, have the right to attack and perhaps kill an intruder in my home or on my property who is clearly stealing?”  I do not venture to answer the question from a legal standpoint – as I not a lawyer.  I will leave that to my friends.  But the Bible clearly states that in such a case, “there will be no blood guiltiness on his (the dead thief’s) account”.  John Gill explains it this way:
“There shall no blood be shed for him: as for a man that is murdered; for to kill a man when breaking into a house, and, by all appearance, with an intention to commit murder, if resisted, in defense of a man's self, his life and property, was not to be reckoned murder, and so not punishable with death: or, "no blood" shall be "unto him"; shall be imputed to him, the man that kills the thief shall not be chargeable with his blood, or suffer for shedding it; because his own life was risked, and it being at such a time, could call none to his assistance, nor easily discern the person, nor could know well where and whom he struck.”
This interpretation of the verse goes far into outlining some of the key considerations one must look at today in such cases, including: What would have been the intention of the thief if and when his/her action was resisted? Was anyone’s life at risk? Was other help available? Did the one that kill the thief know what he was doing? Etc.  (I am reminded of the case of Oscar Pistorius, the famous “Blade Runner” who is charged with killing his girlfriend in the bathroom because he thought the person in there was an intruder. He went to prison for five years at the end of 2014.)
Matthew Henry on the other hand, suggests the following on the interpretation of verse 2:
“He that does an unlawful act bears the blame of the mischief that follows to others, so likewise of that which follows to himself. A man's house is his castle, and God's law, as well as man's, sets a guard upon it; he that assaults it does so at his peril.”
But God’s rules on this now add another dimension – that of time of day.  If the attempt to steal took place during the day, the “blood guiltiness” referred to above would be paid by him (supposedly the owner of the property, or perhaps a servant) who killed him.  The idea is that we must be considerate of all life, even of those who we know or believe to be evil.  Our reparation must not come from our vengeance, but from the legal system, and especially for Christians, from our God.  When we take the law into our hands beyond that, we start to stand on shaky ground.
So, where possible, we are to “catch the thief” but not kill him.  And then in that case, as he is still alive, he must make restitution for all he has stolen.  And if he can’t afford it, he then is to be sold (one assumes into slavery) and the money goes to the owner of the property he stole.
And still more twists to the law: if he stole animals and they are found alive, that is the thief is caught red-handed with the goods, he shall pay double the amounts he otherwise would have paid.  Interesting, but why? Matthew Henry explains it like this:
“Thus he must both satisfy for the wrong and suffer for the crime. But it was afterwards provided that if the thief were touched in conscience, and voluntarily confessed it, before it was discovered or enquired into by any other, then he should only make restitution of what he had stolen, and add to it a fifth part, Leviticus 6:4,5.”
So, there is clearly an advantage to admitting and pleading guilty if indeed it is a true confession, rather than a forced confession.
Finally, we are told that if one simply uses things that are not his to use, without permission (a form of stealing one might say), then he repays from the best of his own possession or equivalent.  I live with two of my granddaughters.  They borrow each other’s stuff (clothes, accessories, etc.) without each other’s permission.  Needless to say that the volume of discourse rises greatly depending on whether the owner wanted to use it that day herself, if the borrower misplaced it, or if the borrower damaged it or worse still, lost it.  Whereas my solution would be to ban all so-called “borrowing”, God’s approach seems to indicate that the ‘owner’ could then help herself to the best of the ‘borrower’s’ goods.  But then again, my ways are not necessarily His ways.
For us, the facts remain: we are not to steal, we are to know how to deal with those that do, and in all cases, we are to make restitution for things we have taken or misused or lost that belong to others.

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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

BLACKFACE, POPE, FREEDOM, LAWYERS & ‘JE SUIS TWU’, and THE COMING HELL



Here’s what I gleaned from the news today:

 [BLACKFACE]  A theatre company in Montreal had a year-end review skit that lasted 90 seconds; they were poking fun at a Montreal Canadians’ hockey player who happens to be black.  To play the small part they used another cast member who was already on board.  Problem was he was white and they painted his face ‘black’ for this part.  All hell broke loose from the art and acting community for the production company’s insensitivity.  Without boring you with all the arguments for and against the action, let me just tell you that when I first heard about the complaints, I thought, “Get a life.  It’s a show for Pete’s sake.  No one is making fun of a prophet or a religion.  It’s a comedy skit.”

But then I read some of the background.  Apparently “blackface” (according to Graeme Hamilton writing in the NationalPost) is the word that was assigned to the old practice that originated in the racist 19th-cetury minstrel shows depicting blacks as buffoons.  The argument is that doing so now is a throwback to that time and racism, something many feel mocks and belittles blacks.

Furthermore, there is no excuse for this in Quebec where the issue has been discussed and brought to mind several times with respect to recent theatre.  On the other hand, one black actor is quoted as saying he would be really ticked (he used a stronger word) if someone white was portraying him and they didn’t paint his face black.  So he was okay with this – it’s theatre for Heaven’s sake.

So I considered the history and the fact those in the profession (in Quebec at least) should have been aware of the concern and known better than to do this.  Of greater potential influence on my personal thinking, however, is the admonition in the New Testament that, at least Christians (if not all men, and women) should be careful not to offend (James 3), especially if the offense is not based on fact and truth and reality.  [Sometimes we go out of our way to tell lies to people in order not to offend them and that’s not what I’m talking about here.]  For all of the above, I came down on the side of those that opposed the ‘act’.

[THE POPE]  Which nicely takes me to the Pope.  Although, I haven’t agreed with a number of his actions and/or statements lately and his single-handed attempt to save the world through the acceptance of other religions (we’re not just talking about being at peace with them), I did appreciate his comments in the Philippines yesterday on the issue of “freedom of speech”.  Here is what CNN provided on the subject:  Freedom of expression is a right, but there are limits when it comes to insulting faiths, Pope Francis told reporters today, referring to events surrounding the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.  ‘One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith,’ Francis said. Likewise, he said, people have religious liberty, but ‘one can't kill in the name of God.’ He said this after a reporter asked him about religious liberty and freedom of expression.”

I must admit, it appears the Pope is indeed right on with respect to this issue.  But while reading his quotes again, I just noticed he makes another interesting point that President Obama may not like or accept.  The Pontiff implies the killings in Paris were done “in the name of God”.  Since the killers were Muslims, the entity that the Pope must have been referring to was Allah.  And Allah is the god of Islam.  Why the American President refuses to accept that connection is beyond many minds.  Especially when even the Pope, as well as some world leaders, and a majority of Mr. Obama’s constituents, relate this terrorism to an issue with Islam – maybe Islam gone wrong – but Islam nonetheless.

[FREEDOM OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT, LAWYERS, & TWU]  Freedom of speech leads me to freedom of religious thought.  And that is very much currently being violated right now with respect to all the Law Societies trying to block graduate lawyers from Trinity Western University’s Law Program practicing their profession in their provinces.  Not only are their rulings illegal but they have no logical basis.  Rather than get all upset about this personally, I’ll let Marni Soupcoff’s excellent piece present a position I fully support on the issue.  You don’t want to miss it.  Click: Defending the TWU Dissenters
(Picture accompanying article from the National Post Jan. 15, 2015)
It’s a pity that the matter will require the decision of the Supreme Court again just as TWU’s successful court case to have their graduate teachers practice their profession did a few years ago.  And just so know, professional bodies in neither field had problems with the actual courses the students were taking at TWU.  It was their beliefs they objected to.

[THE COMING HELL]  What do all of the above have in common?  Simply this.  We’re in a terrible ideological war but one side is failing to recognize the true enemy.  Some of that side’s leaders even think we’re winning.  And worse still, they turn a blind eye to more and more atrocities each day – the latest being the massacres in Nigeria.  I guess the estimated 2,000 murdered recently are not a big enough number of deaths to really get excited over.  But this stupidity has its ultimate consequences that are best summarized by Francois Bugingo, writing in the “Le Journal de Montrèal”.   There he warns the West for ignoring “the slow death of Nigeria” because in so doing, we “gradually open the door to our own hell.”

Now you can never say, Bugingo and I, didn’t warn you.  – Ken Godevenos, Toronto.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Original “No Fault” Approach To Accidents Exodus 21:35-36

“And if one man’s ox hurts another’s so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide its price equally; and also they shall divide the dead ox.  Or if it is known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring, yet its owner has not confined it, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall become his.”
 
This to me looks like the original version of “no fault” accidents policy that many jurisdictions have today.  If two oxen belonging to two different individuals get into a goring battle between them and one of them dies, then both owners jointly sell the ox that stays alive and equally divide the money they receive for it.  With both being involved in the sale, there was a greater chance of the deal being honest and fair.  And in keeping with earlier principles that God had given the Israelites, the two owners also divide the carcass of the dead ox.
But those approaches are only implemented in the case where neither ox ‘had a record’ of previous such accidents.  Clearly, since no one could correctly assess which ox was to blame for causing the fight, both owners could be said to have benefitted and also both may have lost. (The idea reminds me a little of the story of the two women who each claimed before wise Solomon that they were the mother of a baby they both wanted.  Not being able to carry out DNA tests at the time, Solomon dictated a very unusual solution – simply cut the baby in half.  Of course, Solomon knew exactly what he was suggesting because the real mother would rather give the baby to the other woman than to see it killed.)
But where one of the oxen (and it implies the one that remains alive) had a previous ‘goring record’ or a habit of goring other oxen or people, then the owner of that animal incurs the entire blame and compensates the owner of the other animal.  Not unlike how our courts approach the establishment of blame today.
Is there a lesson here for us?  I think so.  The commentator Robert Jamieson suggests this principle led to laws in certain eastern regions that were intended to inspire caution in us, and help us to “keep noxious animals under restraint”.  As a minimum, we should heed that caution.  Commentator David Guzik suggests that this principle was God’s way of helping us deal with human negligence.  He goes on to imply that these various laws were intended as instructions to judges who were to adjudicate matters between the Israelites.  As such, the judges were required to investigate, to the extent possible, any wrongful intent and then to rule accordingly keeping fairness as the goal.
Those principles can well be applied to the responsibilities of parents or grandparents who are often asked to break up an argument or a fight between siblings.  Our goal should be to investigate and then to act fairly.  Finally, supervisors, managers, and owners can apply these principles where their subordinate employees (assuming there are no labor unions involved) are at odds with each other.  In all these circumstances, the “no fault” decision may be appropriate, but sometimes through observance and investigation we may conclude it is not.  As ‘judges’ of the behavior of others where we rightfully have that responsibility (e.g. as parents or employers), we can only pray that we would have Solomon’s type of wisdom to adjudicate fairly and virtuously.

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 [Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Word of Caution Regarding Construction Projects -- Exodus 21:33-34

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“And if a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall become his."
 
A few years back my family took on a building project. We were replacing my parents’ home built in 1953 with a new one that we moved into in 2009.  I learned a lot during that process.  Getting permits for various aspects of the job was a monumental exercise in patience and determination.  As I now study this passage, I realize it may well have been the origin of all of today’s rules, regulations, by-laws, and restrictions that are in place when someone tries to build anything that alters or involves the earth we dwell on.
So whether we are doing new construction, or repairing an old structure, or adding on to an existing structure, this verse and today’s laws apply.  If we are negligent in the way we do so and that negligence causes harm to others, we are liable for legal consequences.
Our Exodus verse talks about an ox or a donkey falling into uncovered pit.  Many of us do not use oxen or donkeys these days, but the principle is the same.  In the days of Exodus, an ox or a donkey could well mean the difference between having a living and starving.  These animals were the means to a livelihood for many.  Injure or kill their animals and they have no means of income.  And then the owner of the pit or the “construction site” needs to make financial amends to the owner of the animal for any loss in terms of the ability of the animal to do its job.  And so it is with today’s laws and lawsuits involving injury where someone has been negligent in the process of the construction they are carrying out.
Of course, in current day situations, this gets a little more complex.  Who is the actual owner of the “pit” at the time – is it the owner of the property or is it the owner of the construction company?  Is it the worker or workers operating the backhoe or the excavator?  Well, it does not matter – an injured party, trying to play it safe, sues everyone involved and the courts have to determine who was really to blame and what portion of the payments due would be assigned to each.
The later portion of verse 34 does require some closer examination.  Why would God give the “dead animal” to the owner of the pit after he pays the original owner of the animal for the harm caused?  The reason is that there is value in the carcass of a dead animal – either for their skin value, or possibly as fodder for other animals.  The original owner cannot have full compensation for his loss as well as maintain the residual assets of the animal.  David Guzik suggests that this is original “you break it, you bought it” principle that we find in many stores today.
Matthew Henry sums it all up nicely when he suggests that this passage alerts us to the fact that it is not enough “not to do mischief” or wrong.  He suggests that we are also to “contrive to prevent mischief, else we become accessory to our neighbors' damage. Mischief done in malice is the great transgression; but mischief done through negligence, and for want of due care and consideration, is not without fault, but ought to be reflected upon with great regret, according as the degree of the mischief is: especially we must be careful that we do nothing to make ourselves accessory to the sins of others, by laying an occasion of offence in our brother's way.”  But we’ll save that last point of Henry’s for when we study Romans 14:13.
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 [Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

A Word of Caution to Animal Owners -- Exodus 21:28-32

--> “And if an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished.  If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring, and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.  If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him. Whether it gores a son or a daughter, it shall be done to him according to the same rule.”
 
Picture by: PAT MCGRATH / POSTMEDIA NEWS: Pitbulls account for 3% of dogs, but almost a third of fatal dog attacks. They are bred for battle.   (from the National Post, January 2, 2015)

The actual words of this passage are clear.  If your animal has a ‘habit’ of goring, and it kills a person (male or female), it is to be killed and so is its owner.   The owner's life can be redeemed if such a redemption is acceptable by those suffering the loss.  It is its application in today’s world that may require some careful thinking.  What is this passage saying to us now?
What oxen do we have today?  The following come to mind: our personal vehicles, large pieces of equipment in businesses that we own, and of course, our animals, be they working animals or pets.
If we are to follow the principles given to us in this passage, we are personally responsible for the damage that our vehicles cause to others, whether we are driving or our dependents are.  And to protect us from the losses that we can incur, we purchase insurance.  We do, however, fall short in the case of dealing with drunk drivers, and even repeated drunken driving by the same driver – even if injury has been caused on previous occasions.  For some reasons, we seem to allow these people to keep on driving – and unfortunately, drinking.
We are also responsible for any damage caused to others by our machinery, be it at home (by our lawnmower, our skill saw, or snow blower, etc.) or at our place of business (by heavy machinery e.g.).  Homeowners have insurance for that and employers are also insured against lawsuits for accidents at work.
There seems to be little opposition to applying penalties in these two areas, although imprisonment or capital punishment seems to be reserved for occasions where it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt that an individual acted with ill intent and planned to actually do harm or kill another individual using such machinery.
The most difficult of the three most common potential applicable scenarios identified above is that of the ownership of pets.  And here we are talking about owning pets that are potential killers.  For example, pets that are known to have the ability to harm others include members of the wildcat family (lions, tigers, cougars, etc.), some dogs (pit-bulls, Dobermans, etc.), and some members of the snake family (boa constrictors, pythons, asps, etc. come to mind), among other animals.  Of course, there is great argument by many that these animals are only dangerous when handled without care or handled inappropriately.
Assuming we accept that for the moment, the problem arises in that there is no guarantee you the owner (who knows how to handle these so-called pets) will keep them from having access to someone who does not.  On the other hand, exposing a gold fish to such a person is not likely to endanger their life.  And therein lies the difference.
The debate still goes on even today and as recently as January 2, 2015, columnist Barbara Kay wrote about it in Canada’s National Post (see Pit Bull Denialism).
The waters of course get even more muddled when an owner of a pet in this category (i.e. one having the greater likelihood of harming a person) argues that all guns have the potential of killing or maiming someone when exposed to the handling of an untrained or unstable individual.  True enough.  And therein, lies our dilemma in not knowing how to address these issues.  There’s no consistency and thus no sense of fairness.  What we allow in one area, others can claim they expect in another.  We have lost our moral compass and thus we argue from the position of what suits us best.  Let me close our own study with this thought.
It is noteworthy to point out that God allows the owner of an ‘ox’ that has killed a person to go unpunished if the ox has not gored anyone before.  The owner is only killed if the ‘ox’ has been in the ‘habit’ of goring.  So, even here there is some forgiveness for those who own or are responsible for the animals (or machinery) that kill the first time.  But notice, the animal would be destroyed and by implication today, any machinery (think vehicle) would be taken away from the person forever – even the first time. 
   
The bottom line is that God does not expect us to kill or hurt others or to have possessions or animals that kill or hurt others.  I think we can all agree on that.  With that being the case, we must all do what we can to prevent, minimize, and eliminate all such possibilities to the best of our ability.

-- 30 --

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Striking One’s Servants (Workers) -- Exodus 21:26-27

--> “And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.  And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth."
 
We return once again to instructions regarding the treatment of one’s slaves.  For whatever reason, God in the days of the Old Testament did not abolish slavery.  Perhaps we will never know why He did not at the time.  Looking at the history of mankind after God created Adam and Eve, He pretty well left us alone to exercise our free will, sometimes not positively and often beyond what Cain had done to Abel.  We slowly fanned the flames of our sinful nature and developed a number of practices that were not to God’s liking.
Slavery was one of these.  Another was how we thought of, and actually treated, females.  So in the Old Testament God takes steps to curb our behaviors in those areas.  But as we progress through the centuries and move into the New Testament, we see God’s ultimate plan for ending slavery as a means of economic gain being played out, and eventually being outlawed many centuries later.  Similarly, God intended for male and female to be different, but equal.  This too is taught in the New Testament and is also what we believe today.
In our current Exodus passage, God is giving His people instructions as to how they need to treat their slaves.  And while doing so, He emphasizes His position on equality of the sexes, in this case in the equality of male and female slaves.  The ordinance He gives here applies equally to both genders of slaves.
God, in this passage, is focusing on the master-slave or servant relationship.  And the general principle He imposes is twofold.  First, there are limits to what masters can do to slaves without consequences, and secondly, when you physically harm one of your slaves to the point of permanent damage, he or she is to be given their freedom.
In today’s world, the context changes from a master-slave relationship, to an employer-employee one.  In keeping with what God was imposing on His people in Exodus, employers are still limited in how they are allowed to treat their employees.  And if they neglect paying attention to the laws that prescribe such treatment, at a minimum, they can suffer considerable financial penalties.
But what does all this teach us in 2015?  Let me suggest the following:  We must understand that God never intended for one man (or woman) to be owned by another.  He believes in the equality and dignity of all men and women.  It is with this understanding that the American Pledge of Allegiance (since 1954) is what it is, and I quote, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Furthermore, we who care about what God thinks and desires from us, have a responsibility to work to eliminate anything in society which allows one person to ‘own’ or ‘misuse’ another.  As a minimum, we should call it out and make it public.
And finally, we have a responsibility to make sure we personally and genuinely value the intrinsic worth of all individuals, of both genders, alike – be it our children, spouse, parents, co-workers, employees, and employers.
Are you really there?
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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.
________________________________________________________________________

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.