Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: Abram Rescues Lot

A funny thing about a lot of the forgotten stories in the bible is that while they are often interesting stories, they contain no particular lesson. Perhaps that’s why they are forgotten.

One such story involves a little mess that Lot, Abram’s (Abraham’s) brother got into. You probably remember that when Abram and Lot first arrived in the land of Canaan, they divided the land in half, and each took a half. Well, there were still people and cities in those lands, and Lot picked a land that was more fruitful, but it was also in the middle of a pretty nasty war.

Lot built a home on the outskirts of Sodom. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were apparently losing the battle, because the armies of those cities fled to an area that was full of “slime-pits,” or bitumen pits – a sticky, petroleum-based goop. The few who were left back at home fled into the mountains, and when the opposing armies collected spoils of Sodom, they took Lot and the people of his household prisoner.

Among the group taken, one escaped and ran to tell Abram about it. Abram, not involved in the war, but having a decent size household of his own, sent his men to rescue Lot.
After having success, two kings came to Abram – the king of Sodom and the king of Salem, who’s name was Melchizedek. Melchizedek blessed Abram, even offering Abram some sort of sacrament.

Sodom, on the other hand, tried to cut a strange deal with Abram. Having retrieved much of the spoils that the captor army had stolen from Sodom, Abram had returned the stuff where it belonged, but the king of Sodom was more interested in having people than stuff. He offered Abram the recovered stuff in exchange for the recovered people.

I don’t know exactly what Sodom wanted with the people, but remember that the city of Sodom was deeply entrenched in homosexual practices – so much so that Lot later had to flee with his family for their lives while being chased by overanxious Sodomites.

Of course Abram flatly refused any kind of deal with the king of Sodom.

Here’s the account:

Genesis 14:8-24

8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;
9 With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.
10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13 ¶ And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
17 ¶ And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: Lamech

The story of Lamech is hardly an inspirational one, but it carries a very important warning. The Lord has no toleration for secret combinations, and Lamech was what you might call the heir to Cain’s secret society. We know little about what happened to Cain after he was cursed, except that he was a fugitive and a vagabond, and had to constantly watch his back for fear someone would kill him.

Anyone who was leader of this secret combination was called Mahan, master of the great secret, and from the Pearl of Great Price, we learn that this combination didn’t end when Cain was “discovered” and cursed. Lamech, one of Cain’s descendents, became Master Mahan.

Lamech murdered a man for the sake of the oath, and as is common for evil leaders, Lamech became prideful in his position. He thought that as Master Mahan, he could boast to his wives about the murder he had committed. He was sure that in his position, and as devoted to his secret society as he was, he was more dangerous than Cain ever was. He thought that the combination would take vengeance on anyone who tried to stand in Lamech’s way. Big mistake. He forgot that satan has no concern for his own, and hates his own followers just as much as he hates the Lord’s people.

When Lamech’s wives made the secret of Lamech’s crime known to the people, he was in big trouble, because it meant that Lamech had exposed the secret. In fear of his own band, Lamech had to flee. He became a fugitive and a vagabond like Cain.

Often it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.

The secret combination grew, and became like a deadly cancer to the world, destroying souls. I guess the point of the story is that satan will not take care of the wicked, and he will destroy anyone he can, whether they are helping his cause or not. There can be nothing gained by alliance with evil. So stick with the Lord and His prophets!

Here’s the scriptural account:

Continue reading

Music and the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Music and the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Music, Art, and Media Series

Ezra Taft Benson:

We seek that which is praiseworthy, lovely, virtuous, and of good report; and we salute Beethoven, Shakespeare, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo. In due time, we will also have more of our own giants–particularly great father-patriarchs and noble companions and mothers of men. There is certain music heard and art seen and clothes worn on this campus [BYU] that must pass away–not because the styles change but because our standards will be Continue reading

Music for Its Own Sake: A Dangerous Philosophy

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Music for its Own Sake

talltabMusic has a powerful effect on the mind and heart.  It can change the entire mood of an environment in seconds.  While there may be different factors that determine what music effects people in what way – such as personal taste and style, music is a powerful influence.  This has always been the case.  And I am not only speaking of New Age or classical music.  I am speaking of all kinds of music – pop, country, classical, rock, hip-hop, alternative, rap, a capella, folk, hymns, chant, Jazz, oldies, choir, not to mention all the world music – Celtic, African, South American, Middle Eastern, Asian, Aboriginal, and so forth.

talltabMusic has power.

talltabBecause of this, I think it is very important that we recognize that music is not an end of itself.

talltabThere is a popular idea which toys with the idea of music for it’s own sake.  Or you might say, music as a contribution to the arts in general.  I can understand that, but I don’t like that idea.  I simply don’t.  I suppose that makes me a bit of an outlaw in the field of the arts, but if music is written for no intent at all, then what is it worth?

talltabWhy do I say this?  Mainly I am concerned that if we put too much emphasis on music for its own sake, we may praise it while overlooking its intended message.  Some call pornography an art.  I used to disagree with that, until I reminded that art is not necessarily good of itself.  Whether or not pornography is an art is irrelevant.  There is good, clean art, which portrays positive messages, and there is evil art, which carries poison that can destroy the soul.

talltabIf masterful music is put to a degrading message, can we really praise the music as being a positive influence on society?  I don’t believe so.  In fact, such music is more poisonous than if the message was put to a discordant, unpleasant sound.  Skill, talent, and power can be used for evil just as they can be used for good.

talltabSome use the beauty and talent of an artistic portrayal to justify it as a worthy influence.  But satan will use as much “light” as necessary to sneak in a dark message.  You may have an entire glass of fresh juice, but one drop of a strong poison will still kill – even if the poison doesn’t effect the flavor of the juice.

talltabBasically, there is music of God, and there is music of satan.  Art and music are not good or bad of themselves.  They are only as good or as bad as their message.

In Eden’s Garden: an Original Hymn

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In Eden’s Garden

I’ve never considered myself much of a poet, but once in a while I get the urge to try it out.  Did you know you can submit original hymns to the Church?  I wrote music for it, too, but I don’t know what I ever did with that music.  Maybe I’ll write a new tune for it someday.

Anyway, here’s one of my original hymns:

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In Eden’s Garden

In Eden’s luscious garden green,
where fruit and flow’rs grew wild and free,
God’s holy presence could be seen
beginning mankind’s destiny.

Though all was good, and life was fair,
and all things lived just as they would,
our parents Continue reading

The Incrediblenet

The Incrediblenet

Isn’t the Internet amazing? From genealogy to gardening, from movies to email – the Internet has so many resources that it has made a great impact on our day to day living. While we must make necessary precautions to avoid the evil influences that can be found on this almost unlimited source of information, the good influences are more prevalent than ever before.

At least once a month, I discover a new website that absolutely impresses me. I’m sure many of you have the same experience. So let’s share what we’re finding. What are some websites or Internet resources that have really impressed you that other readers may not yet know about?

Here are two of mine:

Pandora.com
I don’t think I’ll ever go back to ordinary radio, so long as sites like Pandora exist. Pandora is an online radio station where you create your own stations (as many different stations as you want) from your favorite songs or artists. Once you type in a band or song, it will create a station based on that style, and then find other bands of the same style. As it plays songs, you can thumb up or thumb down the song to tell Pandora if you like it or not.
No matter what kind of music you listen to, it’s there. I have an LDS station, a contemporary rock station, a Celtic station, a piano solo station, an African traditional station, a country station, a soundtrack station, an oldies station, a native American station, an a cappella station, and about half a dozen other stations. I have friends with hip-hop stations, goth stations, and oh, I almost forgot, I even created a funny station. It’s really amazing. I can listen to it all day.

http://pandora.com/

Podcasting
I’ve known about the idea of the podcast for over a year now, but only in the past few months have I discovered that podcasting is its own entire realm of social media. You can find a podcast on any subject, and thanks to feed readers (such as Google Reader – which is built into every Gmail account), you can have a collection of dozens, even hundreds of regularly updated podcasts on your favorite subjects.
So why is this such a cool thing? Consider that you are interested in pottery. A rather obscure interest in terms of the Internet, don’t you think? Well there are a number of pottery podcasts. If you have a computer in your home, you can listen to your favorite pottery podcasts and hear interviews with some of the worlds greatest potters while you are doing the dishes or exercising.
If you have any kind of Internet handheld device, you can listen to your favorite podcasts while you drive, walk, or work. I listen to podcasts often at my job, because I sit at a computer for the majority of the time. My Google reader is automatically collecting podcasts on dozens of topics that I have chosen, such as the music business, gardening, humor, fiction stories, genealogy, writing, news, photography, science, and as of today, dogs. That’s probably only half of the topics I do, and in each topic, I have numerous podcasts.
If you don’t know where to start, either Google search “podcast directories” or simply “pottery podcast” or whatever topic interests you. Google is pretty good at finding stuff like that. While your at it, start your own podcast. How? Google the words “how to make your own podcast.” It’s really easy.

So how about you? Any sites or Internet resources that have really impressed you?