Sunday, September 22, 2013

If It Could Be Done Wrong . . .

I wish I'd been a good example, all those years ago, but I do feel qualified to call myself an expert of what it is to be a horrible warning.  I think I've celebrated just about every religious tradition there is, while trying to celebrate something I thought was of G-d, and I was wrong.  Sadly, I juggled most of them simultaneously!  I've done everything from baking a birthday cake for Jesus on December 25, and taught my kids to do so, to finding every exotic nut on the planet to celebrate Tu B'Sh'vat.    Of course, I made prize winning Halloween costumes, no demonic ones, mind you!  I even went so far as to color the eggs after they were shelled when making "deviled eggs" for "Resurrection Sunday!"  Then there was the ever involved room mother, face painting as a buxom wench, at the school carnival with a Renaissance Festival theme, clueless as to what I was dabbling in.

If the wrong message could be sent, I've done it.  If the wrong day could be celebrated, I've done it.  If the right celebration could be observed wrong, I've done it.  If the truth could be wrapped in religious tradition, I'm sure I've experienced it, but I've been sorting for some time now, years in fact.  The non-Scriptural extras have been eliminated years ago.  Hopefully the unlearning of tradition is about completed.  True Scriptural observances, however; will be a lifetime of learning . . .

Years ago, my idea was, I knew I wasn't living right, but I tried my best to really be creative in my expression of these societal religious observances.  The religious traditions are so intertwined with only a fraction of a partial verse, I got lost, but very creative in my lack of direction.  I truly didn't know how offensive I was being to the Most High Elohim and His Son.  I've been to churches that have Santa visit after the Christmas show, and I've been to synagogue where the Rabbi shows up in costume the last Shabbat in October.  One of my daughters for years has wished folks a "Merry Chrismanukah."

I have come to realize, although some things are pagan tradition; in an agrarian society, some of the special dishes were simply made from items that were in abundance or ripe at that time.  I'm going to be so bold as to say, the advent of refrigeration and move away from agriculture, turned many of these practicalities in to just tradition.

Eggs are in abundance in the spring, thus; plentiful through the Week of Matzoh.  I still make "salad eggs" or "relish eggs" because they are delicious, but there's no dying, just a fun treat while eggs are in abundance before the hens begin brooding.  Due to eggs by the dozen, literally, I keep angel food cake on hand throughout that week.  Regardless of the number of guests, there is always angel food cake.  Now is it a tradition?  It may become one if my descendants continue it after I'm dead and gone without knowing the reason.  The reality is, it's a cake that contains no leavening and "cake" goes with special occasions in my kitchen.  The Feasts of YHWH are special occasions!  It's not a necessity, but I would hardly call it pagan heresy.

The tradition of dairy products through Shavu'ot has the same base.  The livestock have all given birth and the milk is flowing in top production.  As with eggs, refrigeration is an issue with dairy products.  I'm guessing milk was used in everything possible to prevent spoilage or waste.  Even with refrigeration, raw milk has a rapid expiration date!  Tradition?  It is now, that we are not an agrarian society . . .

As for the fall festivals.  Yes, I've had apples in my cake, the trees were loaded and they are ripe, and it's honey collection time.  I didn't dip any applies in honey this year, but I confess, I have in the past.  Moussaka is a favorite for Sukkot, and although my kids and grandkids don't like it, the aubergine is ripe and plentiful right now.  Moussaka for one is too much trouble, but I'm enjoying the aubergine, none the less through this feast.

I do not celebrate Halloween or American Thanksgiving, but when the pumpkins are ripe, I'll be making pumpkin butter and pumpkin soup.  My Granddaughter, Adeline, told me after tasting my pumpkin butter on Ritz crackers, I didn't need to make pumpkin pie any more!

It's been such a blessing to lay down so many useless traditions and rituals and to be forgiven for having ever done them!  I'm grateful for the grace our Heavenly Father extended to me through my years of presumptuous ignorance.  And I'm thankful for the truth, as well as the blessing to live an agrarian lifestyle.

To decorate evil doesn't make it good, but by that same token, it seems just as wrong to attach the heresy label to seasonal abundance.
 photo by Connie Evers

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Living the Bible

When I came to YHWH, it wasn't just one of those deals of "getting saved" and going back about my business.  When He came to me in that upper room, my life was changed forever; and by His power, I can follow Messiah.  So, when I asked to "live the Bible," the request seemed simple enough.  Everyone mentioned in the Bible managed to live what they did, before what they did was even written.  With the promises in writing and everything recorded, it should be easy . . .

My life is certainly simpler and calmer than it was before the Great Spirit of YHWH took up residence.  It's completely more ordered, following Messiah, than my own version of trial and error.  The fact that Messiah is Torah in the flesh makes it even simpler.  Not only do I have the illustration of His life recorded in the accounts of the Gospel, I have the written Instructions in Torah!  The only possible glitch, appears to be me.  In my zeal, I apparently overlooked some of the less than stellar details of these great people of G-d.

Moses spoke with YHWH and heard Him and I am blessed to have that relationship, as well, but . . . I also have, on occasion, Moses' frustration level and lack of patience, and I can murmur and complain, just like the Israelites in the wilderness.  The difference, Messiah has died and the power to overcome has been given.  I still struggle with surrender, sometimes, and unfortunately sometimes the resurrection power we talk about gets used on our flesh, rather than glorifying YHWH.

I remember when I realized, we do walk in resurrection power.  We need to refrain from resurrecting old thinking and old ways!

There are also amazing people of YHWH in Scripture for which everything didn't go just swimmingly, and they didn't do anything to cause it.  I've had that a time or two, but usually, I've played a part in the calamity and it's chastisement, rather than just a test, and even rarer, an attack of the adversary.  In "living the Bible" I've come face to face with some facts about these folks.  Take Abraham for instance.  While we all want YHWH to get our kids saved and make all of our own doings turn out happily ever after, the man YHWH called friend, is not only the Patriarch of the father of Israel, but also sired the father of Islam.

We all know about Job, and that wasn't the "living the Bible" I meant!  I'm very thankful I'm not sitting in ashes scraping sores.  YHWH has graciously protected me from my own zeal.  I do think we may very well live to experience what Daniel and his friends faced.  I know there'll be no salvation in compromise.  None of those guys saw the salvation of YHWH until they were fully in the dire situation.  Bible scholars say Jeremiah never saw a convert, but he sure sounded the warning.  Some of those prophets were asked to do some pretty strange things.

Ezekiel and his binding on each side . . . Clearly, I had no idea what I was asking when I asked to let me "live the Bible," but I was born on a date mentioned in Esther, born again through the week of Passover, and did receive the Holy Spirit in an upper room.  I've been forgiven and blessed beyond what I could ask or imagine, and by the death of Messiah, I am numbered in some pretty amazing company.   Considering the current headlines, I'm very thankful to be spared Isaiah's ministry!

At the same time spake YHWH by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.  And YHWH said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;  Isaiah 20:2, 3

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Teaching Our Children

Americans stood by complaining and blaming one woman for having prayer taken out of school in 1962 and apparently never considered the value of one voice for good, but left their children in the public school system, anyway.  With shootings, drugs, human secularism, and now other religions, or a-theist statements, it's time to take action?  Just what action should that be?  Should the ACLU storm the schools and say no Islam teaching in the name of atheism, because the Christians and Jews have pretty much gone along with the changes?  Or how about, no atheism statements because atheism is a belief system also?

We need to face the facts.  Those in power and even those of age, had other priorities in the 60's, like money and war.  I'll admit, my early adult years were a dismal failure and I certainly did my part to fail the next generation.  Oh, I made certain statements regarding the direction of the nation, but with no direction, myself, I could only point out the similarities to 1984 and Brave New World.  Pointing out the downward spiral is not the same thing as offering a solution!

I now want to sound the warning regarding Common Core Curriculum.  This is nothing more than turning the public school system into "youth camps" modeled after Germany in the 1930's.  It's been a slow and gradual decline, a slippery slope, if you will, but in fifty years, it has happened.  Moving the responsibility of education from the home to public schools was a detrimental move on our society in general, and every adult that participated bears some guilt.

For too many years, I've heard the discussion that G-d was taken out of the schools.  Well, who in their right mind talks about a belief in G-d, then sends their children into a place they believe is G-d forsaken?  I did it and I'm ashamed that I did it!  I failed in teaching the children in my charge the truth of G-d, and in that I failed in my responsibility as a parent.  I can't change that fact and I cannot repair the damage, but I can sound the warning to young parents now.

School began for me, the year after the SCOTUS made the decision in 1962 regarding formal prayer in school, which was incidentally the same year our President was shot and killed in Dallas.  There was no sex ed for kindergartners, but we still managed to have pregnant high schoolers, and gay boys.  I believe America managed a sexual revolution with no sex education in the public school system, at all!

To be honest, I'm not upset that there are not supposed to be religious values taught at school, but I do think that should include all religions and philosophies across the board.  I do, however; believe the absolute absence of values is a terrible thing to teach children.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  Torah of Holy Scripture

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Real Deal

I saw something that really caught my eye that reminded me of a sticky note I had on my first computer.  It was a paper sticky note.  I'm a writer and I can't give up paper . . . Every week, the new edition of the Goshen Gazette is originated in a spiral notebook, yet I digress.
The sticky note simply said:  The best sermon is a good example!

That thought has been on my mind a great deal these last few weeks as I go about my business.  Granted, it's not directly Scripture, and yet, it's the theme throughout the Book.  Y'hshuwah said, "follow me."  John penned, "If we say we love him, we should walk as he walked."  Paul, often times referred to his own example, both before and after meeting Messiah.  I think it's the social media that really started my contemplation on this subject.  It's easy to cut and paste a Bible verse, type in HalleluYah or Glory.  Amein, Truth, Word, thumbs up, hit the "like" button, have all been produced by my keyboard and thousands of others, but we don't really know what home lives are actually like.  I live in a very isolated part of the country, but I still interact with people, in person, and it's important that I am actually walking my talk, and that it begins in my heart, not put on like covering.  It's not only important to me, it's required by YHWH.  That is in Scripture:  Wherefore ADONAI said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:  Isaiah 29:13

Lip service is easy.  The children of Israel were managing that as they were heading into Babylonian captivity for idolatry.  I am still continuously stunned when I read swearing in social media.  I just can't believe anyone would take the time to type those, but that isn't what I'm really thinking about.  I read a lot about the fruit of the Spirit, I've written about it and even taught on the subject, but I'm not perfect.  It's easy to look at ourselves and see all the sinning around us that we're NOT doing!  Perhaps that's where ancient Israel was also.  As these end of days continue to unfold and we know there is coming another Babylon, it's time to take inventory.

First my check list of what I'm not doing . . . I don't have any household gods on display.  I don't use swear words.  I'm not shacking up with a man calling it "joined."  I'm not coveting, because I don't want any more stuff to have to keep track of!  I'm not stealing, and the list could go on and on about all the sinning I'm not doing, but eventually that list could end in pride.  Of course we know, most of us who are talking Torah aren't doing those things I listed above, but what does our witness show?

I don't think I have anything around my house that I value above YHWH, but what about something so simple as the way I spend my time?  Do I ignore things I should be tending to or entertain thoughts or conversations that should be put away?  Does HE come first, or is HE simply on my "to do" list?

It's easy to live a celibate or chaste life, but am I harboring unforgiveness, self pity, lust or covetousness in the process?  We may not physically lust after another person, but we can covet relationships.  It's included in Exodus 20!

Does my tone reflect my Savior, or do I sound harsh and uncaring without using swear words?  What about murmuring and complaining?   When I say, "Hello" and chat with the neighbors or in businesses, does my light shine or am I too busy?   Do I misrepresent my circumstances and make excuse?  Do I forfeit opportunities that might open doors to witness?

It's easy to establish a "religious reputation" as in Sabbath keeper, in real time and on social media; but do we actually keep the Sabbath as described here in Isaiah 58:13?  
If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of YHWH, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
To be perfectly honest, I don't think I'm on it for Shabbat, yet.  I am contemplative and I include that in something that needs to be set aside for Shabbat.  Everyone who knows me has made the comment, I'm always thinking.  The last couple of weeks, on Shabbat, I've become more aware of my thoughts that distract from YHWH and Shabbat.  They aren't wrong or evil, but they are inappropriate for Shabbat.  I don't need to stop thinking, I just need to set my thoughts on things above.

We can project any image we think we want to, but the real deal is what goes on when it's more than words. Our Creator looks upon the heart, and our actions speak louder than our words.