When I came to Michigan, I thought the only redemptive work that I would be involved in was preaching the good news of Jesus. However, I soon learned that there are other opportunities for redemptive work. Michigan has very generous redemption values that it places on canned and bottled beverages. Most soda and alcoholic beverage containers have a redemption value of ten cents. That is much higher than the value on the aluminum or plastic alone, so many folks here collect bottles and cans to make ends meet. In fact, it is against the law to throw away redeemable containers in Michigan.
During the severest part of the COVID shutdowns here in Michigan, the stores were not allowing any bottle returns, so I found a lot of extra cans and bottles just laying around in people’s recycling bins. I started to collect them for a couple months and ended up redeeming well over $100 worth over several weeks once the COVID shutdowns ended and stores again allowed customers to redeem bottles. This extra money helped me buy groceries for people to whom I delivered in order to help them make ends meet. I continued to collect cans and bottles in the months following the reopening and kept buying groceries and toilet paper for a handful of people, on an as needed basis.
Once, I was at a bus stop and picked a few cans and bottles out of the trash. A fellow who regularly hangs out at the bus stop and solicits small donations from any willing soul tried to stop me. He said, “You should get a real job. Stop begging for money! You are dirty!” I turned around and talked to him, “Well, I’m not asking anyone for money. I’m on a redemptive mission. These bottles have value, so I plan to redeem them. It’s a crime to throw away what can be redeemed. You can be redeemed too, and you wouldn’t want anyone to throw you away, right?” After that, he lightened his tone and was more friendly again.
On Thanksgiving while my lovely wife fixed a delicious meal for the two of us, I got bored, so I wandered over to a nearby university campus. When I started to find redeemables, I decided to collect them while I was on the phone with my Mom. I ended up scouring half of the campus and collecting bottles and cans worth about $2.50. It’s not often I get paid to talk on the phone!
On New Year’s Day, I again was bored and again went over to the nearby University campus. Again, I made a call to someone and again I picked up $2 to $3 worth of redeemables from the other half of campus. Nobody had picked up any trash since Thanksgiving and the University was basically closed since then due to a rise in COVID cases locally in December. And nobody had gotten any of the cans or bottles since then, so I decided it was high time somebody rescue what could be redeemed.
There is a neighbor who regularly drinks tall beers and discards cans and some Coke bottles too, so I’ll pick up the cans, empty out the remaining beer onto the ground, and take a couple dollars’ worth of bottles and cans home from there every week or two. Sometimes he has even given me whole bags filled with redeemables. Once, he was moved with compassion and gave me a couple $2 bills as well. All I have to do is stop a little off my regular route, sort through the recycling, and rescue what would otherwise go in the garbage.
These cans are such a hot commodity that people will sometimes post on Facebook that they are having some difficult economic times and ask if people will let them pick up cans from their homes. Most of the time, several people will post that cans are available, the person will put gas in their car or buy groceries, and that is the end of it. But recently, a woman who works for the same public service agency as I work for viciously berated a can collector for asking for the help. Because her comments were relayed to me via the agency Facebook page, I gently corrected her and suggested she use more discretion in her online interactions. The next day, when we were both in a webinar on sensitivity towards those who have suffered racial injustice, she was visibly shaken.
My mother taught me to redeem the time, to stretch my money, and that there are no throw-away people. The week of her birthday and anniversary, I will celebrate by redeeming a large bag of cans and bottles, then getting food and toilet paper for people that I serve. Thanks, Mom, for not letting me waste my life!
Islam is the system.
Muslims are people.
I don’t know of any time in the Bible where we are commanded to love systems. Nations are redeemable according to Scripture, but systems are more akin to what the Bible calls the Beast and the AntiChrist and the False Prophet.
Here is why I believe praying for the fall of Islam is one way to love Muslims:
- Islam teaches that Jesus is not God, that there is no Son of God, and that Jesus did not die on the cross. In itself, this is adequate reason to pray and work for the collapse of Islam by converting Muslims to be Christians. These three teachings of Islam are lies and must be countered with the Truth of the Bible. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God and that Jesus claimed to be Lord. The Bible in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Covenant teach that God does have a Son, and that Jesus (salvation) is his name. Jesus did die on a Roman cross, which is prophesied by the Hebrew Prophets and, predicted by Jesus himself, and historically verified by both the gospels, the teaching of the Missionaries, and the practice of the churches, not to mention external historical records.
- Islam exhorts the exemplification of Muhammed. If he were a godly person, this would be a good thing. However: Muhammed was anything but virtuous. He married a little girl. He had sex with a prepubescent girl according to Islamic tradition. He taught that raping any and all female prisoners of war was an OK thing to do, and commended it to his followers. Muhammed himself at one time had 10 wives. Historically, Islam has permitted other people to have 4 wives at a time. (Polygamy is oppressive to women and corrupts society. There are indication in Genesis that this one of the main reasons for the OT Flood in Noah’s day.) The Lord Jesus taught that marriage is to be between one man and one woman for as long as they both shall live. The missionary Paul taught that women (and men) should be mature before they marry.
- Islam, again following Muhammed, has been one of the perpetrators of racism and oppression of dark skinned peoples of Africa. Tradition Islamic teaching is that Muhammed was white and that Blackness of skin is a sign of a curse. Islam promoted the black African slave trade and spread it to Europe. The Bible says that all peoples are equal in the the Messiah.
- Islam launched as a military raiding movement. Islamic sources tell us that initially Islam spread primarily by military conquest. It did not succeed by the virtue of it’s ideals but by the sword. Arabs conquered other Arabs and then conquered other peoples and nations. Local people’s were exploited for their skills and resources, but once Islam’s system of oppressive taxation on minorities took root, the Arabic renaissance collapsed. Jesus rebuked his disciples for defending him with the sword. The message of Jesus is called the gospel of peace.
- Islam has a book that is full of significant alterations and changes, but most Islamic scholars refuse to address the textual corruption of their supposedly holy book. It is a book which promotes falsehood and is derived from Jewish and Christian sectarian and heretical works, not rooted in divine inspiration, see #1. Jesus urged people to look at the words of the Bible carefully and to remember truth accurately without distorting the words of revelation. Christians and Jews spend a lot of time and energy ensuring the accuracy of the Scripture.
There are other reasons, but these are some of the more major reasons I pray for the collapse of Islam.
Appearance Oriented – Attitude Oriented – Action Oriented
Been perfect – Becoming perfect – Be perfect or be gone.
Love one another
Compartments of worship – Complete worship – Complaining, not worship.
Issues of Sin
Delving into sin – Deliverance is of the Lord – Deliverance ministry.
Nature of Ministry
Express yourself – Experience God’s presence – Extend your hand.
Failure – Faithful – Fighter
Gifts – Giver – Giving
The Cross & Resurrection
Heretical Renderings – Historical Reality – Hysterical Ruin
Investigate the Author – Invested with Authority – Invest in Autocrats
View of God
Joking matter – Jesus Saves! – Judge
Kingdom of God
Kiss the son lavishly – Keep a simple faith – Kill Enemies
Lust – Love one another – Love as duty
Mean people cause it – Method of growth – Meaning of life
New Livelihood – New Life-Source – New Lifestyle
Position toward Christ
Original sin – Order restored – Original Sin
Please self. – Please God – Please men
Character of Worship
Quest – Quietness – Quick
Restore – Rest – Repent
Nature of righteousness
Surface – Solidity – Shallow
Dealing with Hurt
Tears away from other – Tears at sin – Tears up in pain
Unity of the Saints
Umbrella for any sinner – Understanding shared – Unique identities stressed
The Sovereignty of God
Vanquish the thought – Vanguard of the soul – Victory in behavior
Balancing the Way of the Lord
Walk in Unity – Worship God always – Witness to God’s glory
Nature of God’s Word
X out the unwanted parts – X-Ray exposing our hearts – Xerographic conservation
Cause of Joy
Yesterday’s strength – Yes, Today is the day – Yearning for tomorrow
Paths to choose from
Zoological worship – Zeal for the Lord – Zeroed out religion.
Look up the verses, with their context and answer the questions. In the NIV, the phrase, “one another” is in each of these passages.
1. Compassion from God. Exodus 25:20; 37:9 – The cherubim on the on the ark of the covenant were facing one another looking at the mercy seat. Why? What needs to be at the heart & center of our worship? Peter 1:12
2. Covenant. Genesis 26:31 – These two men covenant together and kept their word. What does it take for us to be faithful to one another?
3. Covering. Exodus 26:3; 26:5 – How can we be better fitted together as a people who worship the Lord?
4. Contracts. Leviticus 25:14 16-17, 46 – Does God care if we treat one another like slaves and our own personal servants? How should we deal with one another?
5. Confession. Genesis 42:21 – Have we failed any of our members? For example, letting them go to the wolves?
6. Communication. Leviticus 19:11 – How do we communicate with one another to preserve the community?
7. Complaining. Numbers 14:3-4 – What is your first reaction when you face challenges & promises from God that seem impossibly great?
8. Conspiracy. Genesis 11:3 – What did God want the people to do following the flood? What did they do instead? Are you working against God’s plan?
9. Confusion. Exodus 16:15 – What are things that we discuss among ourselves when we need to ask God?
10. Collapse. Leviticus 26:36-38 – What happens to the Lord’s people who face judgment because of rebellion?
Most of us are familiar with the fact that Jesus was born in Judea in a year of a Roman census. (Luke 2:1-5) Census taking in the Roman Empire, generally affected the taking of taxes and the allocation of imperial resources to public works. Likewise, in America, census usually accompany allocation of resources to the states … and relate somewhat to taxation. This year, for example, the Census will be taken during the same season as taxes are gathered in by the IRS. Government officials will be allocated according to the number of people discovered.
What does that have to do with the rest of the Bible and the cause of Jesus other than an off-hand comment that helps us properly place the birth of Jesus in historical time?
In 1 Chronicles 20, almost 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, David the forefather of Jesus took a census of fighting men in his day. Joab his general objected, but the king prevailed. The king had been fighting a battle for years to establish the LORD’s people secure in the land. He wanted to ensure he had adequate personnel to fight if they needed to do so again. Where was the Kingdom after all those years? The curse that followed David’s decision resulted in the death of thousands of men in Israel. The Lord made it plain that the curse which lasted for days upon the land was the result of the unwise taking of a census. 70,000 people died.
Just as Israel had fighting surrounding nations for a generation or two (the reigns of 2 kings, 40 years each), the USA has seen at least 80 years of regular waves of global conflict and war. Most recently the USA has been fighting the heirs of Edom, that forebear of Islam. The President has staked his administration on preserving the nation and the people of God. We may be charitable and assume that he is doing all he knows to do to lead the battles we are facing. However, not a few people are dying. Currently the flu along with COVID-19 are plaguing the land along with any number of other illnesses, disorders, and diseases that could be prevented. Suicide is killing far more youth and soldiers each year than COVID-19 has killed globally so far. Rumors of conflict arise in the news as there is regular talk of police brutality and occasional terror strikes and school shootings. An outsider’s perspective could lead to the conclusion that there is a curse in the land.
Perhaps we can learn something from David’s response to the curse: He invested in land to be used as a house of prayer for all nations. He bought the threshing floor from someone who was present where the plague stopped, and David dedicated that land to serve as the foundation for the Temple. The same area where Jesus would later be dedicated to His Father as a baby, as an adolescent, and as an adult. God used the disaster of an unwise census to prepare the way for His Kingdom agenda.
What was wrong with the census?
In the book of the Law in Exodus 30:12-16, the LORD says that whenever a census was taken, all those 20 years old or more were to give an offering equivalent to ½ Shekel. The value of a shekel has fluctuated over time, as has the standard weight of the unit. At times, ancients were paid as much as 7-10 shekels per month in the ancient world. So, a Shekel paid for as little as 2 day’s wages at times. A half-shekel would have paid approximately 1 day’s wage for a common laborer. If a day’s work is 8 good hours at minimum wage, you are looking at ~$80. ($120 if you work for 12 hours of daylight! Or maybe you earn more than minimum wage .…)
If that seems to be a burden, another way of figuring the value of a shekel is to look at the weight of a sheke since the word shekel means weight: A shekel was the basic silver coin of that day, of whatever nation. In the days of the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD, a half shekel weighed about 8.6 grams of silver (Jesus seems to have critiqued the cheap money changers and the low value of their temple coinage, and thus prophesied its collapse in the gospels.) The value would have approximately been $5 in today’s market. Another way to calculate, would be to figure the value of the main American Silver Coin now made: one troy ounce coins are valued at around $15 if you sell them to a dealer, or you can buy them for $30. So, if $30 is a shekel, then $15 is a half-shekel.
David prayed that the guilt for the wicked census would not be on the people but would be on his family and on his house forever. He did not collect this amount from the people to be put it in the temple treasury, instead he bought the land for the temple. However, can a building and religious services remove guilt? No, Jesus, the Son of David removed that guilt by bearing the sins of His people as the King of the Jews upon the Roman cross outside the city. Jesus was rejected, yet He knew He’d win the hearts of all nations. Has Jesus won your heart? Have you received the mercy the Messiah made available when He offered Himself up for many?
What was the spiritual responsibility of the people of God during a time of census?
God’s people are to invest in the house or center of prayer. Let me encourage you to make a special offering to the Lord’s house of somewhere from $5 to $15 to $80 (or more if the Spirit so leads you), per adult person to pledge loyalty to God’s call to pray. Perhaps you already tithe to your local church, but you really want to honor the Lord’s call to pray for all nations, which is commanded in Psalm 2:8 and Isaiah 56:7 and Mark 11:15-19. You could give a special gift, of the weight that accords with your commitment to pray for God’s Kingdom to Come, to a ministry that is focused on the nations. Not just your own nation. A ministry equipping you to pray for other nations & the advancement of Jesus’ kingdom. You are after all, a kingdom of priests. You are welcome to donate to this ministry which regularly offers and shares prayer for those nations and peoples and individuals of the world that are outside of the realm of Christ’s honor, which is their obedience to His name. (Perhaps you guessed I’d say that.) 😊 But, if you feel uncomfortable donating to the work that I do to advance the Father’s kingdom, I would be happy to suggest some other ministries that are also raising prayer among the nations. Remember, giving to the Lord’s work (and I’m much less concerned if I gain from this teaching than if you do), is a privilege. I have personally seen the Lord’s healing and protecting hand on me as I sought to obey this simple teaching. It has led to some significant gifts to ministries promoting prayer for the nations … and it has resulted in lives and nations being changed. I am committed to promote prayer for unreached Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist lands and direct my investments accordingly, to the Father’s glory.
I do not want the King to return and ask me why I have invested so little into His business. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Are you merely investing in your own time to worship and spiritual services that cater to you? Or are you investing in prayer for the nations, as David, Solomon, and Jesus did?
Mert Hershberger, PO Box 981215, Ypsilanti, MI 48198-1215 – 734-678-1367 – email@example.com
To donate online: https://bit.ly/375HzSk
You may print off the attached file that has this teaching and a donation card: 2020-Census-HalfShekel. OR
To make Check donation,
- mail it to:
IF4ES-Donor Services, c/o New Horizons Foundation, 5550 Tech Center Drive Ste 303, Colorado Springs, CO 80919
If you need further help email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 531-4075
Name of Project: “IF4ES” (International Fellowship for Everyday Saints)
The body grows weak, dreams come to mind.
All food abandoned, an annual fast.
We’re seeking forgiveness and healing that lasts.
Forty days pass, like Jesus I fast.
Temptations and trials start to attack.
Breakthrough will come, if only I win.
Could fasting help us all overcome sin?
Abstaining from pleasure, I walk Daniel’s path:
Rich foods forgotten, in this partial fast.
I yearn for my homeland: a vision revealed.
The future unfolds; the Scripture unsealed.
Demons must flee, as I starve my old flesh.
Evil must leave! I passed the test!
Mercy increases, I yearn to be right.
The journey’s been long, but the end is in sight.
Transform my hunger to faith in the Lord.
Refraining from comfort as I bear the Sword
Of the Spirit to vanquish my foe and pierce
Through the dark: no lusts, no pride, and no fears.
This morning I woke up after dreaming of a missionary carrying the gospel to tribes in distant nations (namely Roger Doriot). As he was heading to the states, there was a song that an angelic choir was singing and I started to join in the song as well. When i woke, I jotted down a few lines that I hope will encourage you. If you can find a tune to sing this to, please do so!
We Must Tell the Gospel
From ancient times and from years now of old,
The message was spread by those who were bold.
We heard it and learned it and then we believed.
We’ll share and declare all the truth we’ve received.
Past mountains, by foot, and by bus and by plane,
It’s our job to tell it and make the truth plain:
Refueling our hearts on all the Word’s Truth,
Translating, relating—our lives were once mute.
We dare not be silent or hush up the Word;
We’ll spread Good News Broadly till all folks have heard.
Though we’re not the answer, we’ll answer the call:
We’re telling the nations that Christ gave His all.
We put forth the effort in good times and bad,
Through lives and our deaths, in the end we’ll be glad.
The nations shall come to the Light of the Lord;
The Spirit ensuring the Father’s adored.
You mothers must raise up your children to serve.
You scholars confessing God’s grace undeserved.
You churches must send forth the brightest and best.
You workers enduring and passing the test.
No culture exempt from the judgments of God.
No tongue shall be silent, we’ll till up the sod.
“To God be the glory, great things He has done!”
Which we shall announce till the vict’ry is won!
Trapped by a master not of my choosing:
The hating, beating, scarring, and bruising—
The beast-like man attacks the soul.
He challenges ev’ry cry to be whole.
Trapped by choices now old and unchosen:
Heart and mind numbed cold and frozen.
The burden of sin now crushes my life:
The cravings are cruel and cut like a knife.
Trapped by my doubts and all of my fears:
Ev’ry threat makes eyes flicker and tear.
Anxiety rips the life from my chest,
No longer free to put forth my best.
Trapped by pride that boosts up my ego:
Blinding my mind to all my own evil—
Deluded by lies I’ve told to myself;
Haunted at night by an unwanted elf.
Trapped by my past, my history of crime:
I’m stuck in a cage and covered in grime.
Regret makes no sense since my future is lost.
I chose to kill at my destiny’s cost.
Trapped by the dirt, the fire and hell:
I’d blame the Most High, but I’m covered in welts.
Pain and torment are all that remain.
My face is downcast and smothered in shame.
Trapped by expenses and mortgage and debt:
The long-promised “good life” departed and left.
My work is a waste, a life without grace;
All my earnings have vanished, my savings erased.
Trapped by a vow and a love for mankind:
“You’re chosen to die!” the Spirit reminds
Of commitments to you—lost all I had,
Yet I’ll rise in the end …. I know I’ll be glad.
Chains shall be loosed; bars shattered; ropes burned.
Old patterns shall change; old habits unlearned.
Faith conquers fear; truth defeats doubt.
Pride is confessed; the humble break out.
Pris’ners set free; crim’nals forgiven.
Graves shall be emptied, the dead shall be livin’.
Debts cancelled; promise kept; price paid.
Shouts erupt from where Jesus was laid,
“Freedom to captives! The blind can now see!
Good News to the poor! At last, we are free!”