Sunday, September 27, 2009


Here is a fine and ancient tradition which sadly goes awry all too often . In the Gaelic tongue of Ireland it was called Curadmír. In our common English, it is known as the Champion or Hero's portion.

Essentially, the individual who accomplished the most heroic feat out of the war band was given an additional allotment, and extra helping from the choicest meat and drink at the chieftain's table.

It was a noble plan, to award the finest and most accomplished for deeds well done. The concept is not without biblical precedent.
"Then Israel said to Joseph, 'Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. And I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow'" (Gen 48:21-22).

"But he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the first-born" (Deut 21:17).

"For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance" (Deut 32:9).

"Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua . . ." (Jos 15:13).
Where this notion seems to collapse, both the biblical idea as well as the Celtic practice, is that jealousies often quickly follow. The hero may have his portion, but many others feel slighted and succumb to envy. Jacob's son Joseph is a great example of someone favored by his father and by God, yet deeply resented by his brothers. The young hero David was persecuted by King Saul. Jesus' parable about the prodigal son (Luke 15:22-32) provides one more illustration.

In short, the "extra portion" has seen the rise of a type of class envy, with the masses deciding that what someone favored has been granted really isn't fair. It is — in its own way — what has plagued God's Chosen People throughout the ages as the Jewish nation has, in every generation, been prey for persecution and genocide. Why? For no other reason than they are the apple of God's eye (Zec 2:8).

Here is the takeaway value from this noble plan. 1) Award those who have achieved excellence. Acknowledge their deeds, with wisdom, judicious insight, and without favoritism. From spouse to child, sibling to co-worker, your praise will be as cool water to a parched throat to the one who receives such honor.

2) Do not envy those who have been chosen to receive honor. Celebrate with them and you will double the blessing of the "hero," for yourself, and likely gain a friend in the process. Covetousness does not become a noble man or woman. In fact, it is contrary to the noble-minded. Choose instead to celebrate and rejoice at others achievements.

3) If you are the champion being celebrated, receive your gifts and accolades with grace and humility. And should you find that you are honored too often, advise giving the portion to another well-deserving person who may know the joy and satisfaction of a job well done.

Awarding the Curadmír — the hero's portion — is a noble plan, and it can achieve valiant outcomes and blessings. If handled poorly, it can lead to disastrous ends, so use wisdom and prayer in your quest for what is right.

"A noble man devises noble plans; and by noble plans he stands."
– Isaiah 32:8

Saturday, September 19, 2009


In the Jewish calendar, today is Tishrei 1, 5770, or Rosh Hashanah. For many engaged in synagogue observance, Rosh Hashanah carries with it the overtone of God's Sovereignty, the time of year to overtly recognize that God is the King of kings (Rev 19:16).

Sovereignty is not talked about much in today's world, expect perhaps in the political area where national sovereignty is hotly debated. Those debates show that step-by-step, sovereignty is growing out of fashion. Even the British monarchy experiences resurgent movements to dethrone the Queen.

We as a people, particularly in the United States, are used to a degree of independent freedom. And yet even in our Declaration of Independence, when we asserted ourselves as a free people, there was — and continues to be — an acknowledgement of a higher authority:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God . . . .
This is no attempt to preach on politics, or the nation's founding documents. But it does serve to draw our attention that even when declaring freedom, there was and is an acknowledgment that there is yet a higher, Sovereign Power.

Drawing once again on the religious wisdom of our Jewish friends, countless of their prayers open with the eloquence, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe . . ." There is, within their community, a ceaseless reminder through their words and traditions of the Sovereignty of God.

So today, on this God-ordained day, let us too be reminded that our noble plans must yield to the Will of our Sovereign King.

"Kings will bring gifts to Thee" (Psalms 68:29b).

"A noble man devises noble plans; and by noble plans he stands."
– Isaiah 32:8

Sunday, September 6, 2009


We live in a world filled with limitless distractions: things that tug at our attention: news, sports, the Internet, books, urgent matters at work, urgent matters at home. And you don't have to have Attention Deficit Disorder to fall victim to the ceasless volleys sent to keep you from doing the "important" things in life.

Let's take a look at King's David's life:
Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem (2Sa 11:1-27).
If you go on to read the rest of the story, you know that this ultimately ends in deep turmoil for David and Bathsheba, and death for Uriah.

David's sin with Bathsheba could have been avoided if he had been doing what he was supposed to be doing: "in the spring, at the time when kings go out to do battle." The king was not supposed to have idle time on his hands. He let himself get distracted.

War is an ugly business, make no mistake. It's brutal. Perhaps David didn't want to face more of that trauma. Maybe he was sick of war. Nonetheless, it was his job — no one else's.

The sin that eternally marred David's reign could have been avoided entirely if he had stayed on target and done what kings were supposed to do. His inaction opened the door to transgression.

As you go about your noble plans, make sure that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing — even if it is distasteful. Don't let yourself get distracted. Don't let yourself fall prey to all the possibilities the world has to offer to derail you and keep you off plan. Ultimately, keeping your obligations as righteous men and women of God is much more fulfilling — but more than that — it's just the right thing to do.

(Painting of King David and Uriah by Richard Serrin)

"A noble man devises noble plans; and by noble plans he stands."
– Isaiah 32:8