Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Motion of Devotion

Do you ever have that time in your walk following Y'hshuwah that regular devotion time just seems like a dry read?  I've had times, not often, thankfully, in which the words just sit there on the page, and I feel like I'm just going through the motion of devotion.  It was through this last episode that it occurred to me, this relationship with my Creator is real!  Sometimes in a relationship, we just do what we do, because it's what we do.  I'm not talking about ritual, I'm talking about simple courtesy.

Praying in the wee hours of the morning is what I've done for ages now.  I enjoy that very special time with Abba and Y'hshuwah.  It's a time that life is not pressing or stressing and I love watching the sunrise, knowing it is our Creator Who ordained it.  Sometimes I contemplate just what it might have been like that fourth day of creation.  I'm often reminded of David's words of praying in the night or tears upon his couch, knowing how real that has become in my life.  Sometimes the prayer time is very deep communion and other times, it's a discussion about people and events.  It's a conversation!  Other times, it's a simple "Good morning Abba!  Thank you for a great night's sleep . . . let's roll!"

I love reading my morning Torah portion, as well as a Scriptural passage YHWH leads, with a cup of coffee before going out to do chores.  It's as if the animals know, I'll be out about 30 minutes after the light comes on.  Even Velvet doesn't make a peep when she first sees the light come on in the nook.   When I do go out for chores, it seems there is always something on my mind to share with Abba or He reveals something to me.  I don't think that would happen, if I didn't arise early to seek Him.

I also have an early afternoon devotion time.  I'm learning the difference between ritual and divine appointment.  I know I hear Him at other times, when I keep the appointment times a priority.  There are times that we meet beyond my schedule, of course, but it's important to me, for Him to know meeting with Him is important!  Again, it's a relationship.  We don't always have great insight to share with our earthly families and friends, but we're there and we care!

Even when nothing leaps off the pages of my reading, I know it's important to read.  Even when no great Word of command or insight comes at time of prayer, I know it's important to pray.  Even when it's not a mountain top experience or a valley of shadow, I know He's there.  I've known far too many people who have to have the adrenaline pumping all the time in regard to our Heavenly Father, and I'm not saying He doesn't meet their need, I just know, that isn't how every day is for me.  Some days, even in the quiet, or even in what feels like just going through the motions, that time I take is still important to "be still know that He is G-d."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When Was Messiah Born?

I've lost count of the number of people who are celebrating Christmas, but state that they know he wasn't born then . . . I've tried to understand that logic for years, even throwing out every tradition of man, but a birthday cake, but it just won't work any more.  If we know he wasn't born on December 25, and most of Christianity will tell you that, then who or what really is the "reason for the season?"  I'm going to suggest it really is, just tradition!

Social media becomes a firestorm around any holiday, but it's wild and crazy right now, with posts and videos about the truth, and what's innocence in ignorance, and great bargains for those shopping . . . and the continuous random posts that pop up with pros and cons about it all.  I've happened on a couple of videos and articles, not arguing against Christmas or December 25, but rather offering their ideas about when Messiah was actually born.

First, let me say, Scripture doesn't give us a precise date, so anyone who states unequivocally that they know with absolute certainty, are claiming unauthorized authority.  I've heard the Feast of Tabernacle theory, in which he was born the first day and circumcised on the last day which would have been the eighth day.  Why would all the inns be full for Sukkot?  I've also considered Yom Teruah, in that is the first day of creation, the day Light was spoken, and he is the Light of the world.  Then there's the theory that since his death brought atonement, Day of Atonement isn't out of the realm of possibilities for his arrival to earth.

I viewed a video just the other day that stated he was born in the spring and also gave reasons.  I find it fascinating that most of the theories are based upon the shepherd's timing in the fields.  We are all pretty sure it wasn't in December, and this year has provided evidence for that reasoning.  Israel does have winter and out in the field by night in December would not be where shepherds or sheep are.  Upon listening to this teaching, then to have the same teaching sent again, I had to stop and consider.  Is this two witnesses, is this confirmation?  I didn't know because the first time I watch it, a thought came to me, so, I'll just throw it out here and continue to declare, it is His death we are to remember!

What if Messiah was born near Shavu'ot.  Bethlehem is only 5.5 miles from Jerusalem, so if there was no room in the Inn, which having been in Jerusalem for Shavu'ot and having heard the same statement, it would be very easy to be five miles out and still be "participating."  The city gets really crowded for Holy Days!  I also look at this from an economic standpoint, since Rome was collecting taxes.  Early spring is planting season, which would mean the tail end of last year's produce and men in the fields in early spring.  It seems that taking men from their fields and flocks at planting and lambing season might be economically counter productive for an Empire collecting taxes.

What really got me thinking about Shavu'ot was the timing of the giving of Torah, since Y'hshuwah is the Word in the flesh.  We know Torah was given just weeks after leaving Egypt at Passover.  We do know the Holy Spirit was given at Shavu'ot, after being promised by Y'hshuwah.  Could it be the presence of our Almighty Creator descends upon man in different form at the same season?  As I've already stated, Scripture doesn't specify, so I'm not going to say this is an absolute, it's only another theory among many.  We do know His death was at Passover and His resurrection was HaBikurrim.  It is His death and resurrection, we are to remember and proclaim!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  Holy Scripture

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saved Means When You Die, You Go to Heaven . . .

As a ten year old, when I asked, after baptism, "Now what do we do?," the words "go to heaven when you die" were absolutely discouraging!   By the time I was a confused fifteen year old, "when you die, you go to heaven, sounded like the plan to expedite!"  Nobody in Christendom ever repeated to me, the words of Messiah in Matthew 22:32b,  . . . G-d is not the G-d of the dead, but of the living.  Granted I had a Bible of my own, but that was in the day kids couldn't possibly know anything . . . except of course what they were told.

The principal of my Jr. High went to the same church, and he very succinctly explained there was a line between church and public place.  When the deacon is the principal, where do you go from there?  The pastor worked at the penitentiary and the public town pool was "too worldly," so the girl's class went swimming at the prison . . .  It's so easy to look back and see why it didn't make sense, but it's also very easy to remember that you couldn't ask why it didn't make sense.  Any questions along those lines were a lack of respect for elders or immaturity in your faith!

Faith is not opposed to reason and shame on the religious leaders that have taught that.  Many have!  Many still do.  Although, it's not really spoken as such, many religious leaders lead struggling, questioning congregants into self-condemnation for not getting on top of their struggles or for questioning G-d!  I don't think these individuals are questioning G-d, they are questioning those claiming to be speaking on His behalf.
So many seem to be struggling with unanswered questions and examples that make no sense, but still have the same promise . . . "when you die, you go to heaven . . ."  I truly think some of these individuals honestly believe this is their only choice.

Our younger generations have enough hopelessness with the direction of the world, we simply cannot offer them beliefs without reason, and hope only in death.

Come now, and let us reason together, says YHWH . . . Isaiah 1:18a

Sunday, December 8, 2013

An Observation

There really is no tangible reason, my mind made this connection, but it did and now I'll share.  The famous or infamous founder of TBN, Paul Crouch, died last week.  He was 79 years old and his ministry had been engulfed in controversy for years.  The commentary of the secularists regarding his prosperity message had died down years ago, but his teaching, televangelist lineup, and lifestyle remained quite controversial amongst the various Christian groups.  I realize some remained faithful, but many began to struggle.

On one of my social media feeds, a link to a religious video popped up and it was four young men singing "HalleluYah," acapella.  After enjoying that rendition and seeing the number of other artists who have recorded it, I of course had to hear Leonard do it . . . again.  I'm a big Leonard Cohen fan.  It was in that moment it occurred to me that Leonard is truly getting up there in age.  As it turns out, he and Paul Crouch were born in the same year and of course, both have entertained hundreds of thousands of people.  Two differences I noted.  Leonard Cohen doesn't spend his time begging for money, he just has a ticket charge, and although he's lived a rather adventurous lifestyle, Leonard Cohen is not surrounded by controversy.

It is my humble opinion that Leonard Cohen has put the word "HalleluYah" on more lips than the sages of ancient Israel and modern televangelists combined.

That song appears everywhere and I realize the argument could be offered that it is not said or sang with a proper heart . . .  and the prosperity bunch is teaching a proper heart?  How about the universalists?  Scripture says the Word of YHWH stands forever because He said it.
That undoubtedly stands, regardless of who repeats it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Who Wants What We Have?

As we read, write, speak, and post about our beliefs, do we share what we believe or what we don't believe or no longer believe?  As I read what I'm sure are well intentioned posts sharing newly discovered information, will readers receive the information that way?  Isn't it really about time what we believe really shows, by our actions and our speech?  We need to keep in mind, we've got nothing to offer people in what we don't do, but rather in what our Creator has done and what He sent His Son to do.

Y'hshuwah did not just come to die and be resurrected.  Although, without his death, we'd have no hope of redemption, and without his resurrection, we'd have no eternal hope, that was not his only purpose.  Matthew 5:17 tells us, he came not to do away with Torah, but to fulfill Torah.  He came to show us how to live in right relationship to our Creator!  He came to touch a lost and dying world and left his believers with the commission to do the same.  He came to illustrate the Instructions!

When we start reading the condemning posts, what hope is there in that?  I'm not even suggesting a "kumbaya it's all love and good" universal approach, I'm talking about a ministry that follows Y'hshuwah.  For those who have come out of staunch denominationalism, have we brought some of that spirit with us?  I won't do it here, but I can assure you, whether it's real time, mainstream media or social media, I could name names of people who do not present anything I want and do not demonstrate any way I'd like to be.

Here's just a few ideas.  I don't put a Christmas tree or exchange gifts, but I do bake a birthday cake, and even though Y'hshuwah and I both know it's not his birthday, I tell him on behalf of everyone who thinks He's the reason for the season, I think he deserves a cake.  It's not about preaching, it's not about teaching, it's about making my favorite dessert for Messiah, as reality is lost in tinsel and glitter in His Name.  I can tell you right now, it's not Scriptural, it's just what I do from my heart.  No tree, no gifts for anyone else, and no nativity scene, just a cake and song for Him from me.

This year I celebrated Hanukkah while many Americans were preparing pies the night before and again the next evening while many were sleeping off the tryptophan, as well as two since.  If it's not some sort of clue as to the misnomer of Thanksgiving, everyone I heard from was fixing ham for the occasion.   I haven't spun a dreydel this year and I stopped with the Hanukkah gifts a couple of years ago, after discovering the idea of Hanukkah gifts was just a merchandising ploy in America; a sort of Christmas knock-off.

I did see an anti-Hanukkah rant earlier this week about the Hanukkah Menorah having nine candles.  This individual was bantering about nothing in the Bible being in 9, everything was 7.   I do agree that days of the week and High Holy Days do number 7, according to my Bible, the fruits and gifts of the Spirit both number 9.  Hanukkah is the Feast of Dedication, so I see a correlation.   At any rate, a rant to unfriend him for all who would dare to disagree sounded so inviting to his beliefs . . . I do wish I could make the ellipses arch downward.

As for other holidays and beliefs, why don't we get really serious about how awesome our Creator is and how amazing His Son is.  If we are demonstrating the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, like Messiah did, we won't need to focus so much on what we don't believe.