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Blessings customs under the microscope

Achoo!…God Bless you! This is the first knee jerk response for most people when they hear someone sneeze. Gesundheit is another word used, which is a German word that according to my friend Webster means “to wish good health”

According to my research this practice stems from a bubonic plague in Rome around AD590. Pope Gregory I, ordered unending prayer throughout the streets and since sneezing was a common symptom of the plague, people would “bless” anyone sneezing as a chant of prayer against the disease.

In looking this up I found very interesting feedback. There are some people who are actually offended by someone saying “God Bless you” to their sneeze, even some believers who commented on an article that I read that thought that the practice was superstitious. In California, a teacher even scolded a student for “blessing” another one who sneezed. Wow!

The other blessing cliché that I’ve encounter is asking elders for blessings. Culturally, as a Hispanic, I’m accustomed to be blessed by my mother or any other family authority figure (aunts, uncles, grandparents). It is taught to the children to ask for their parents blessing when gathering or departing their presence. Even as grown ups most of us still ask for our elders blessing when interacting with them.  It’s a sign of respect, endearment and fellowship.

Blessing others is not far from biblical principles either. In the Old Testament we see various characters even fight for their parent’s blessing, which meant their wealth and prosperity in many cases. Read about Jacob and Esau and you will see how much a father’s blessing meant.

Personally I don’t mind being blessed; I sure can use all the ones I can get a hold of. So regardless of the setting, although it may be cliché, manners, and customs or in a deeper meaning, I don’t think that wishing someone blessings or placing blessings upon others; even strangers could be a negative thing.

So from my heart to yours…God Bless you today!

Christians getting tattoos

I had an interesting conversation the other day about tattoos. Like any form of art, they are quite interesting, some are really nice, and some are not. But the discussion was, Are Christians allowed to get tattoos? This discussion does not relate to those who come to Christ already with tattoos, we are talking about those who are already saved, didn’t have one and are now getting them or contemplating them.

For the longest time I was one of those raising the hand with Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” (NLT), but is not as clear cut as that. First of all there’s the judgment part. If I am judging other people for getting tattoos, piercings or men wearing earrings, then I’m the one in trouble for judging. I’ve met true worshipers with all of those or some, these are Christian leaders who I truly respect for their spirituality and who have been mentors in my life. I admit that at the beginning I was conflicted. So I decided to do some research.

First of all I discovered that we need to read things in its context This rule and many others in the Old Testament were placed by God to avoid pagan rituals amongst the Israelites. He wanted for his people to be set apart and he still does. So does getting a tattoo makes you conform to what the world is doing? There are two schools of thought, some that say that the rules in Leviticus still apply to us, some that say they don’t. Well, I agree in Leviticus 19:29 when it says “Do not prostitute your daughter…”, but it also says two verses before, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” (19:27) and we know that men have haircuts and shave everyday.

From the majority of the articles I read that do not attack the tattoos (meaning not necessarily approve of them, but don’t have the notion that they will send you to hell) I gather that it’s all in the motivation and heart. Even tattoos are a matter of the heart. Why do you want to get a tattoo? Is it to fit in within the culture? Will the tattoo bring more attention to you than to Christ? Remember that our ultimate goal is that He becomes greater as I become less (John 3:30)

Some people even claim that God has tattoos using the scripture of Isaiah 49:16 “I have tattooed you on the palm of my hands” Others have said that Jesus has a tattoo as well referring to what is said in Revelations 19:16 “On his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”

At the end, more than the focus of is it right for a believer to have or not a tattoo look at where your heart is. If you don’t have one, “are you looking at the sawdust in your brother’s eye while paying no attention to the plank in your eye? (Matthew 7:3) If you are considering one, why do you want one? Have you talk to God about it? Will getting one affect your relationship with God or make others stumble?

Personally I’ve looked at some and they are quite interesting, I could never get one and it goes beyond any religious convictions. I don’t see myself sitting for any extended period of time to be voluntarily poked. Also, I don’t think I could commit to a design. I don’t think I could agree to one color as my favorite color for my entire life, it used to be red, and somehow my mom says it used to be yellow and if you ask me now it’s blue. Can you imagine?

As always I’m interested in hearing your opinion. Let me know your thoughts and hope you have a blessed day.

Right where you are

Last week was quite unusual.  At least in the south US, things came to a halt. Airports, schools and workplaces were closed due to traffic and weather conditions and many were stranded on the streets.  It got me thinking to never underestimate the places where you were assigned to be at any moment in a situation.

Sometimes God’s places us in weird places or even alone for a purpose. You don’t know when the place where you think that you’re uncomfortable and stranded is an opportunity to witness to a person. A simple conversation that starts about a delay can end up in a healing conversationIsaiah 43:10  says“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me”

If you were like me, locked inside your house there are many things that could be done. If you have family, when was the last time that all of you spent time together? Take opportunities like this to get out, play with your children, and find out what’s going on with that teenager that’s been giving you a headache.  Use that fireplace that you’ve never used and burn marshmallows on a stick and create the perfect time for a conversation.  Look at your spouse, when was the last time that you had a romantic moment? 

If you live alone, It was a good time to rest from the craziness of life, instead of trying to craze out of the house. Contact those family members or friends who you haven’t talk to in years. Write that letter that you’ve been putting off forever.  I know I did.  Anyway, seek God and find out why in this time and in your current circumstances what is the purpose of your place, as it is no coincidence that you are where you are. (Matthew 10:29-31)

I hope you enjoyed this time in a way or another.Now that we’re back to the everyday routine, take time to evaluate how every second of your life has a purpose an enjoy your life, right there were you are. Live with purpose.  Live intentional, regardless of your surroundings

Seize the moment and live every moment with purpose to live a fulfilled life.

Blessings

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