Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nothing New Under the Sun

The writer of Ecclesiastes made a very powerful statement, inspired actually, when he penned, Ecclesiastes 1:9  The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.  We can read since the beginning of recorded history, people have done what they want and tried to justify it.  If push comes to shove, and they get called out on it, as was the case for Adam and Eve, there's blame.  Blame is nothing more than denial of personal responsibility!  As we sit here watching our society crumble, who is responsible?  Blaming Washington DC obviously doesn't change life on a personal level.  Electing different representatives has not changed the course of this nation.

Sadly, it isn't just a political problem.  The big name preachers don't address sin.  Joel Osteen has been more verbal about his "stand of silence" regarding sin, but it's actually been going on my entire life.  I attended a Billy Graham "crusade," back in the 60's, and I don't like the word "crusade" used in conjunction with a religious event.  I think I was 9 at the time, so nobody asked my opinion . . .  Anyway, I remember the generalized message of "being born again," without reference to actual sin, other than "all have sinned."  I remember the "emotional charge" in the stadium.  Yes indeed we have all sinned, and one of the major sins most of are guilty of, is soft soaping the truth and/or pointing out the sin of others.

Years later, when that same organization was coming to a town in which I was a minister, I was asked to counsel those who came forward.  I was given the instructions of what to say, and what to do, and I simply stated, I can't in good conscience participate.  I could not take their name, for a mailing list, give them their "born again birthday" and send them back from where they had come.  It was specifically scripted and that was just not something I could do.  Since Franklin has taken the helm, he does seem much more vocal on social matters from a Scriptural perspective than his dad was.  I've also noticed Franklin isn't asked to speak as much as his father was.  Back to nothing new under the sun.  

Our society has openly rejected the Bible as a moral compass, much less the Word of the Almighty Creator, while religious leaders choose their words carefully, so as not to offend their supporters.  As a child I asked questions that were not answered, at the time.  As a child, I asked who changed G-d's day off?  Nobody told me the Pope did.  Later as a young teen I sat listening to very sordid details through a "prayer request" and asked later, "What's the difference between a prayer request and gossip?"  That continues to be a question . . . I ask myself regularly.   I give great consideration in sharing testimonies as well.  We've all heard at least one testimony in which the drama of the sin receives more focus, than Abba being glorified.  There's a great deal of victimization in testimonies as well, and "victory" is often measured by worldly standards.  

Once the "victory" is measured in worldly standards, tickling the itching ears usually follows, and that should not be.  

Life isn't about what we acquire and amass, or status we attain.  The true Good News of the Gospel must address sin, because salvation involves repentance.  To omit G-d's definition of sin as well as His expectations; is abject disrespect and displays a total disregard of the price Y'hshuwah paid to bring redemption.  The fact of the matter is stated in the last two verses of the same book quoted in the beginning of this article.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear G-d, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.  For G-d shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Foundation for Unity

Last week, we welcomed a new contributor to the Goshen Gazette in an article entitled, "Everything I Learned About Unity, I Learned From Pagans."  That article really got me thinking.  Of course, the festivals around the Middle Ages and Renaissance are truthfully thematic in content, away from our Creator, but the point was their unity in a common interest.  I then thought of the "grass roots" movements of the past few years, The Tea Party and the Occupy Movement.  Both claim to be comprised of many people from different walks of life, with a common purpose.  The Tea Party is obviously political, and the Occupy Movement is anti-Wall Street.  As I considered these three organized gatherings that inspire unity, a revelation occurred to me about the lack of unity amongst the people of G-d.  A light came on.  Perhaps this isn't news to many, but it was to me.

When G-d's people walk in unity, matters of eternal value transpire.

These other organizations and gatherings don't have any spiritual opposition!  There's no need for spiritual opposition, as there is no eternal value in the purpose.  I'm not suggesting those gatherings are evil, I'm just saying, the focus and purpose of these organizations are irrelevant in regard to eternity.

Sadly, however; the people of G-d have trouble with unity, because we allow so many divisive details to become priorities, and that has to change.  I've been given just a glimpse of what real unity is, and the three of us are nowhere close geographically, but this week, I had a taste, just a taste, of what YHWH has in mind, and it is good!  Psalms 34:8  O taste and see that YHWH is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.

I don't think the individuals will mind me using their names.  If next week's edition is shorter, you'll know they did.  (smile)  I shared with Beth this week, that not only is the round table ready for the five fold ministry, I now have five desks.  Each minister could have their own space to prepare their own projects.  That was the second click.  My light coming on this week, was sort of like a three way bulb, with every click of the switch, the light intensified.  In the conversation, she mentioned she had a myriad of office chairs . . . That's not to say, she and I are going to land in the same geographical location, but we could . . . The point being we were each offering what we had, for the general purpose, and the bigger point was, it wasn't the same thing.  The people of G-d seem to get bogged down in thinking unity has to be uniformity!  As our conversation continued, other things came up and we both voiced how much appreciation we have for the gifts and talents of others that we don't have.  Unity involves appreciation, rather than competition.  I realize tables and desks may not sound like a big deal, but I've been praying for five fold ministries to gather for several years now, and I believe they are beginning to do just that in many places.  A table and desk is part of the works of expressing my faith.  I don't want tables and desks to fall like manna!

The next click occurred when Gerry went storm chasing.  I always pray for him when he does this, but this time I prayed that he would clearly hear G-d.  I remember how I used to talk and listen for Abba when I drove regularly . . . not storm chasing, I assure you!  When he posted hearing, it clicked that (A) Abba had answered a prayer and (B) that prayer had been prayed in agreement, unbeknownst to both of us, at the time.

Just as with Beth, there was a "second witness" as Gerry wrote of his interests, I was reminded that YHWH puts the talents and interests in His people to be used by Him when He is first priority.  Matthew 6:33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  When I saw that Gerry had written about his love of photographing storms, I realized immediately, many of us are interested in weather, but not everyone has been given the talent to capture in a photograph, the majesty of our Creator, and not too many weather men can explain the science of weather from a Biblical perspective.

So, with all that enlightenment, I was here at the homestead killing dust bunnies.  I realized in my life, I was so focused on preparing for the bigger vision, I was allowing the immediate path to be cluttered, not with priorities, but non-priorities.  Rather than one priority, like Gerry was dealing with, I had eleventy-seven little bits of nonsense and non-priorities taking up space . . . The realization hit me like a ton of bricks.  When the five fold ministries gather, the mundane will still be necessary.  Dusting will still be important.  When the real gathering to work together happens, "communities" will be dwelling together.  We will no longer be in the formal living room where nothing goes on . . .

A Song of degrees of David.  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
The second chapter of Acts is exciting and of course I want to participate in a move of YHWH like that, but Acts 2 didn't happen until Acts 1 had taken place.  Unity isn't about all of us doing the same thing, and unity certainly isn't about gathering all the people who share the same gifts and strengths.  Unity certainly isn't about focusing on unity . . . Unity is about a group of individuals who want to be close and obedient to YHWH and bear witness of Y'hshuwah, who encourage each other and pray for each other, and are willing to share freely what they've been freely given.  Unity will take place when G-d's people make His presence in every aspect of our life, our first priority.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  Acts 2:1

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Touchy Subject

I realize many truly believe that our Creator uses modern medicine in healing.  To each his own on that . . . For some reason "doing what is right in our own eyes" and "following our heart:" modern medicine is rarely scrutinized as compromised faith.  "Come out from among them and be separate" is rarely applied to standing in full faith, without the wisdom of man, in regard to healing.

We are all given a measure of faith, so regardless of where you stand, be aware of some facts.  First and foremost our walk has to match our talk, spiritually speaking.  If you believe Adonai uses medicine in healing, then don't preach against it, but don't try to talk someone else out of their faith.  If you believe you are called to stand in full faith without medical intervention, then don't waiver and I'd recommend not "looking for evil,"  which is  . . . tests.

The simple fact of the matter is, modern medicine has the judicial power to supercede a person's choices at any point it is determined to be in a "person's best interests or that of a child" to take away their right to choose.  I've seen so many people say they are trusting YHWH Raphah and only using His created remedies, only to have tests run that will result in medical intervention.  Immediately then, the staunch conviction is questioned and often they submit to the compromise calling it the Will of the Father.

Somewhere in our fairly recent history, hospitals stopped being a place of care and recovery and became a place of a very short term stay for major invasive procedures, not to mention the dispensary for Big Pharma.  Recently, I was absolutely shocked when someone had surgery, then wasn't responding as the doctor's had predicted.  That wasn't the shocking part, as doctors are obviously fallible.   What transpired next, I found to be shocking.  In a matter of less than a week, this individual was actually transported FROM the hospital by ambulance!  Let that sink in for just a moment . . .

Obamacare as the Affordable Care Act is termed, may be the very thing that causes all of us to question where our faith actually lies.  If we are determined to place our faith in our Creator and His remedies, but we then decide we need to know what G-d knows, the ones performing the tests and reading the results may determine they know more than any of us.  If you are determined to stand on your faith, be assured we are here to offer encouragement and stand in agreement with you in prayer.

 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and YHWH shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  - James the brother of Messiah

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sin is Still Sin

Since the Creator of the universe changes not, that means His standards remain the same, and that also means His definition of sin has not changed.  Scripture is quite clear about how we are to conduct our relationships and control our sexuality.  I haven't committed all the sexual sins mentioned in Scripture, but I have surpassed the woman at the well in husbands.  We are also told, if we are guilty of one, we are guilty of them all.  That isn't license to go ahead and continue sinning!

I've been very disturbed by the number of synagogues and churches that are dropping the standard of open sexual sin.  There is a dangerous trend that is really leading many away from repentance, altogether.  So, although I haven't committed all the sexual sins mentioned in Scripture, I've committed enough of them to tell you, sexual sin "breeds" problems and bears consequences.  Social and religious compromise and acceptance won't bring positive change to society or religion.  Quite the contrary.  Most sexual sin was kept secret or "in the closet" because of shame.  It's normal to be ashamed of sin.  Actually, to be ashamed of sin, is the only way a person will repent.

As a child, I thought marriage looked pretty miserable.  So as an adult, I made sure there was an available exit, at the first sign of trouble.  I actually rationalized that a divorce was not "trapping" a man.  He was free to move on and so was I.  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9  I wasn't unfaithful in my marriages, but making vows with a possible exit strategy is not faithfulness.  I had commitment issues, and although psychology makes it sound palatable, maybe even provides a thin veil of victimhood, it was sin, plain and simple.  Romans tells us the wages of sin is death, and I can testify that the consequences of sin are not pretty.  Our society speaks of men having commitment issues, but I've never met a man with more commitment issues than I've demonstrated.

Point being, whether it's breaking the marriage covenant, cohabitating, homosexuality, cross dressing, or any other behavior forbidden in Scripture, it's sin and sin is a choice.  Justifying and rationalizing sinful choices deteriorates a society.  To say we're born a certain way or even conditioned in a way, often referred to as generational curses, is no excuse.  Behavior is a choice and we are all born into sin . . .  As we continue to socially rationalize sinful behavior, our society continues to reflect the choices each generation has made.
 Just as there should be no parade celebrating adultery, multiple divorces, or cohabitation, there should be no gay pride parade, either.  Truth be told, I wouldn't be interested in a silver or golden heterosexual anniversary parade, either.  But then, those who celebrate silver and golden heterosexual anniversaries usually share a life and a legacy that reflects more than any mere parade could acknowledge.  Sexuality has no place in parades, theme parks, or political agendas.  Surely everyone has more to offer society than their sexual preference.

Sadly, there are now generations who have been encouraged to be self-focused and self-satisfying, and introduced to sexuality when they are entirely too young, with complete disregard of the standard of our Creator.  Far beyond sad, even to the point of despicable is the fact that our society now actually exalts behavior that is in abject rebellion to the standard of our Creator.  

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool . . . Proverbs 28:26a

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What If?

I've been pondering a question for a decade now, and to be honest, I've been hesitant to actually share it, in concern of causing division.  All things considered, there are already plenty of topics doing just that, so I'm jumping on out with this.  Since Scripture doesn't tell us when Messiah was born, the conjecture lingers, still.  Most Bible scholars do concur that he was not born in December, and I would agree.  Of course, very few let that information stop them from the traditional "Christian" rituals of Christmas.

The rainy season in Israel, is basically between October and May, with some areas actually receiving snow, while other regions are arid.  Keep in mind, the arid regions indicate desert and would not be grazing land for the shepherds to be out with their flocks by night . . .  For years I maintained the "school of thought" that Messiah was born through Sukkot, some say the first day, circumcised on the last, but in the past couple of years, a fact lept off the page in Luke 2.  There was no room in the inn . . . Sukkot is camping week!  That should have been the week of empty inns.  Through Sukkot, there should have been a VACANCY Sign in every window of every Inn in Israel!

As I said, Scripture doesn't tell us, but I do have a personal experience that did plant the seed for this thought.  Ten years ago, I celebrated Shavu'ot at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.  The trip had been booked for a few months, and the reservations were made at that time.  When I arrived to check in, the man at the desk stated simply, "there's no room for you . . . "  I replied that I had made reservations in February, to which he replied, yes, I remember your name, and the other day, the reservation was cancelled.

Since I'd been traveling in Europe before reaching Israel, I asked him if he had any details as to the cancellation.  He smiled and said, "I do have a room, but it's many flights up from what was originally reserved."  With that, I immediately thought, 'HalleluYah!  An upper room for Shavu'ot!'  Wow!  I'd asked YHWH early in my service to Him if I could walk out the book of Acts, then before the trip, that had crossed my mind once again.  Looks like I was off to a great start!  The hotel was packed.  Every mayor of Israel was in the King David Hotel for Shavu'ot and I was blessed to be in an "upper room."  I could literally look over the city of Jerusalem from the balcony.

I've since heard and considered that Messiah may have been born at Passover, or week of Unleavened Bread.  I have no spiritual insight against that theory, but I do have practical knowledge that might offer a question to that timing.  Passover is in the early spring and that is also included in the rainy season as well as being the birthing season for livestock.  I have discovered through my homesteading years, that sheep will "drop" their offspring anywhere, in any weather.  They aren't bad mothers, but they don't seek shelter or safety in birthing their young.  The scent of blood in birthing and the passing of the placenta, not to mention the wandering curious newborns in an open field will certainly draw predators who are also trying to feed their young.  Out in the field by night, seems like an opportunity for the entire flock and shepherd to be preyed upon.  I've learned that it's safest to have the herd enclosed when the birthing time is imminent, then the young can be accounted for and the placentas can be disposed of, away from the herd.  Again, this is not doctrine, only experience . . .

  We read the book of Ruth, annually, in observance of Shavu'ot.  The book of Ruth is all about making a decision to seek the G-d of Israel, and of course points to the kinsman redeemer, who is a prototype of Messiah.  I do know for a fact, the Inns are full in Jerusalem, for Shavu'ot, and the days following the wheat harvest would be a great time to collect a tax!  The wheat harvest is when everything is growing in abundance, but after the initial harvest, a laid back season for growth.

Since the Torah was given to Moses at what was later to be known as Shavu'ot and the Holy Spirit was given on Shavu'ot, to write the Torah on our hearts; as well as provide the power to live Torah . . . Is it possible that the Messiah, who is Torah in the flesh, could have been born [given] on Shavu'ot?

Here is a link to check out the weather in Israel.