Let me start by saying this – and yes, this is going to sound rather blunt and direct, but it is time that it is said. Stop telling Christians and all Believers that they are hateful. Stop telling believers that they are not loving their neighbor and stop telling them that they are NOT following Yahweh’s commandment to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Because, honestly, unless you know the true nature and content of their heart and soul, you are NOT in the place to judge that in them.
I have been struggling with this article for almost 2 weeks, especially the title. Yet it came to me this morning, early, after reading a few more of these types of accusations against believers. Jim and I have gotten them ourselves – from friends, family and people we barely know. Why? For the same reason others are being called these horrible things - because we believe that closing down the country for an unlimited amount of time has become a disaster of grand proportions.
I have been wanting to say something for a few weeks – I have been hinting at it on my social media yet haven’t put it into much of a statement because I have been trying to weigh it all with scripture.
Now all the pieces are falling into place.
A little history to hopefully head off ad hominem attacks: I raised several immune challenged children into becoming healthy adults with no immune issues. My father was given HepC (1984) through blood transfusion during heart surgery. For the rest of his life he fought that virus, and sadly succumbed to it in 2003. During some of that battle he was also immune compromised due to the drug tests he was involved in while trying to fight the disease caused by the virus. I have fought immune issues on and off my whole life, which started when I was just about FIVE years old. We have elderly family members with health issues and challenges who are in the high-risk groups. Knowing all of this, I would hope and pray you can take a deep breath and see how deeply we, too, have a heart for those in risk groups.
Right now, we have adult children working as essential personnel in this. Two who are CNAs, one who is an EMT and dispatcher, an “in-law” who is a LEO, and a child who is a grocery store manager – ALL constantly exposed to YOU - the public. In addition, we know the science behind this virus and understand its transmission. So please, take that into consideration as you contemplate your reply to this article.
I just finished my last course for my Bachelor of Divinity Degree (BDiv). Until four weeks ago, I WAS planning to finish as a BDiv in Chaplaincy because I wanted to work as chaplain with my husband in Hospitals. My heart was pulled to work in the NICU’s at local hospitals. I was hoping to help my sweet elderly friend who LOVES to hold babies to get her chaplaincy certificate, too, so she could join me. We just wanted to hold those drug addicted babies and let them know they are loved – until they are healed or go home to God. I do not know if I want to go through with that now – because at this point, I don’t see hospitals opening up to our being able to serve as we see fit to do.
That is my heart and where it is at. . .
What pushed me to complete this article TODAY was a comment I read this morning from another person saying: “instead of just saying the words ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’ why aren’t people actually putting them to use.” This comment is often accompanied by “You don’t love your neighbor!”
But do you realize, using those partial scriptures that way they are taken completely out of context? How? Because they are spoken as one piece of the puzzle which is being used as a complete package to guilt and manipulate others into doing what “YOU” believe is right. Yet that may not be what everyone believes, and what “you” feel is right may not be what everyone is called to “do,” either.
The Bible says there are TWO great commandments, NOT ONE. The first commandment and greatest, is to love GOD with all our heart, mind and soul, THEN second, we are to love our neighbor. We are to love God first, and part of that love is living as He would have us live. We trust in Him to lead us to what is right and true. Part of that is loving our neighbor, yes, and part of loving a neighbor is loving them as Yeshua would have loved them while he walked the earth. How we treat them must be weighed against this principle. When we are loving our neighbor, then, we are loving Yahweh. Do you see how they work hand in hand?
Many still attempt to imply the only command, though, is to love our neighbor, but WE know there are TWO. Yeshua tells us in scripture, too, that there is still MORE because upon those two hang ALL OTHER COMMANDMENTS. Every single one of them. We often see people leave off that last part of the scriptures.
Now, what we see happening is people of all walks (believers and non-believers) counselling others to “do unto others,” while not recognizing the balance of Christ’s words.
Some of those words of Jesus:
Mark 9:36-37 WEB He took a little child, and set him in the midst of them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, doesn't receive me, but him who sent me."
Matthew 19:14 KJV - Jesus said, "Allow the little children, and do not forbid them to come to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to ones like these."
Matthew 25:44-45 KJV - “…Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or…sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
Matthew 18:5-6 Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.
To sum it all up, we must love our neighbor and love the little children. In doing so, we are loving God. When we do anything to those neighbors and children, whether good deeds or bad, it is as if we are doing it unto Yeshua, himself. So, as you weigh your actions in this situation, think of it that way. Everything you are doing; you are doing unto Yeshua.
If what we do causes them harm, or to be led away from Christ, then we are warned that it would be better to be cast in the sea with a millstone around our necks. Many will take this time to exclaim, “YES! SEE?! That is why you all need to stay home! So, you do not make them sick with the virus!” THAT is only one piece of the puzzle, again.
THIS is where it gets complicated for those of us who serve in the church whether in an official capacity as pastor, teacher, chaplain, youth leader, or as a member who wants to love their neighbor. If whatever we do in life, we do it to God, then I MUST weigh EVERY “love your neighbor” not against ONE PART OF ONE VERSE nor against one person’s opinion. I must weigh each one against ALL of the context of scripture.
I constantly hear people today accuse Believers of not loving their neighbor when they want the economy to reopen because “THEY” believe that ONLY those compromised or vulnerable to the virus must be guarded at this time. The problem comes when you force that opinion on others who believe they are led to be helping someone else or in a different way. This makes me ask one big question:
WHICH NEIGHBORS WOULD YOU HAVE ME LOVE?
WHICH of these neighbors should I choose?
-- The drug addicted babies I mentioned earlier in our local hospitals – their death rate and return to addiction rate increases dramatically without loving contact. We are denied that opportunity to help because chaplains can no longer go into many hospitals, programs have been put on hold.
-- MANY people – men, women, children, young adults, are all dying WITH NOONE THERE TO COMFORT THEM. No one to hold their hand – not even a loved one. It is our heart to be there when someone dies – especially considering eternity. Catholics in particular, believe it a sacrament to give/receive last rights. That is being DENIED across the country. Personal example of end of life prayers: Jim and I were there with his uncle who lived away from God for a long time. On his deathbed, he wanted forgiveness, wanted to repent – he wanted someone to hear him, he needed to know God was with him. We were privileged to be there to pray with him and help him accept Christ again into his life. We didn’t want that for US, didn’t do that for glory, we want this right for THEM, those who need it. To many people, it is the difference between Heaven and Hell. Fine – for those of you who don’t believe that, don’t. But to those that DO, it is valuable and necessary.
-- In one week alone, I was asked to pray for a little boy injured in a tornado – little man. He passed away of his injuries. NOONE was allowed to be with him. The day before that, a little 4 year old girl, health declined suddenly – diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. Her parents are denied visiting her. They are not even allowed to go to the floor and look through a window in the PICU to wave to her. These are just TWO examples of the HUNDREDS I am seeing daily.
Were YOU THERE when your children were sick??? I was – not for me, FOR THEM. They were frightened. Children don’t understand news reports and claims that this is necessary to “protect” them from a virus. They only register that mommy and daddy left them alone. AND, no chaplain to comfort the families in these situations. There have been times when people in hospitals have ASKED FOR CHAPLAINS and been denied.
-- The woman we saw in our local grocery with a massive tumor on her face, it grew that large, sadly, in just a few weeks. She was denied surgery at this point because it was considered “non-essential,” in spite of the fact it had been confirmed cancer through biopsy. She NEEDS it removed because it continues to grow, apparently quickly. We watched as another sweet sister stepped in and prayed for her, right there in the produce aisles! Praise Yahweh!
-- The man who, with his wife, are trying to help their neighbor (literal neighbor!) raise enough money to afford an attorney to fight the insurance company and coroner who declared her husband’s death corona. He was killed in a horrific accident at home. The insurance refuses to pay the life insurance because he “died during a government action.” And another family who has been given the same reply from insurance companies when the woman’s husband killed himself as his business folded, he could not get unemployment and he saw no other way out. He killed himself thinking he would leave behind that policy to help her and the kids.
-- The town in Tennessee where more people died of suicide in a week than did in the entire state from covid 19. Suicides and domestic violence have already been on the increase. In some areas dramatically. In discussing this issue with those we know personally in the first responder fields, domestic cases are not only increasing but increasing in level of violence. There appear to be more ambulance dispatches to domestics than before going on lockdown.
-- Or, the stay at home single moms who until this happened, were able to operate their small home businesses at farm markets, art markets, and craft fairs – fully supporting their families on what they make and sell. Sadly, they are now online trying to compete with millions of others trying to do the same things. Yet if they could just go back to work, they would be able to provide for their families.
Oh, maybe they should just go out and get a different job? Who will care for their children while they are working outside the home? This is why they built their home business to begin with.
And please, do not say, UNEMPLOYMENT!!! Yesterday, I listened to four nurses on the news talking about how they have been furloughed from hospitals in New York state. They applied for unemployment and have been told it could take WEEKS before they see it. Their governor recently told them to go out and get a job in essential services – they WERE in essential services to begin with.
Oh, no worries, they can survive off their stimulus money – no. Many work from home parents do not qualify for the first wave because they are 1099 employees. According to a lot of reports, they may be in the last round. So, it may be weeks before they see that money, too. Because of financial crisis at home, tens of thousands are flooding food banks, who are running out of food faster than they can get it in.
These are all REAL EXAMPLES, just a FEW of the lives touched or ruined by this shutdown. Every day I am seeing these through our women’s ministry – people asking for prayers, direction, wisdom, or help. The list is huge, but I just want to ask you again:
PLEASE TELL ME, which neighbor do YOU believe I should love???
To some of you, you believe that the only way we can be loving our neighbor is to abide by government rules, a quarantine and economic shutdown. But WE see that many would be helped by our communities being returned to normal ways of LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS, while others would be helped by simply being allowed to GO BACK TO WORK.
We keep being told: “Oh! YOU are just all about the money!!!!” I suppose, YES, it IS about the money, in the end, isn’t it? The money to be able to feed their families, the money to keep their homes. These aren’t RICH people. These are average people. THESE ARE OUR NEIGHBORS.
So please, the next time you open your mouth and are tempted to call out that believers are hateful, that we don’t love our neighbors, that we are not doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, PLEASE take a deep breath AND JUST STOP. Remember what I have shared here. PLEASE.
My hope is that you can see ANOTHER SIDE to this now, I truly pray that you can. . . .
Loving one’s neighbor NEVER means only love ONE GROUP of people. Sometimes, we have to truly be willing to weigh EVERYTHING in The Word of God properly. . . and it is a heavy burden to do so.
Blessings and Shalom.
Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 18:5-6 Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 22:36-40 says "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" He said to him, "'You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and first commandment. A second likewise is this, 'You are to love your neighbor as yourself.' The whole Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments."
Matthew 19:14 KJV - Jesus said, "Allow the little children, and do not forbid them to come to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to ones like these."
Matthew 25:44-45 KJV - “…Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or…sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
Romans 13:9 & 10a "…You are to love your neighbor as yourself." Love does not harm a neighbor… (New Heart Bible)
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Which Neighbor Would You Have Me Love
This was an interesting year (2020) for Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. You see, we had a double Sabbath this year based on the calendar and where the first day of Unleavened Bread fell in the week. The Feast began at sundown on Thursday and went until Sundown on Friday. Then, at sundown Friday the weekly Shabbat began.
There are times when this happens around other Feast Days, too. I love it because it is a great blessing when we are prepared for it and don’t allow it to stress us that there are two in a row. If you watch well in advance for this to happen, it can give you the opportunity to enjoy two days of rest and pure shalom in a row, basking in the presence of Yahweh. All it takes is being prepared.
In the scriptures we read about Unleavened Bread’s first and last days described as such, Exodus 12:16 KJV “And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.”
Here you can see that we are told to not do any work – which means our employment or regular job, but we can do that which is needed for meals. This shows on the first and seventh day of Unleavened Bread we are permitted to do some cooking so that everyone can eat. Friday, which is our normal Shabbat preparation day, we can cook for the Feast day if we like.
Now, because of how the commandments for Unleavened Bread are written, some will say you can only cook for the Feast day, and not for Sabbath meals. This would imply a direct rule to prepare for both days in advance. The only information to back this teaching up, though, is that of oral tradition. Yet it is something to be considered. Therefore, I suggest you cook the day before the Feast day’s Sabbath – and cook for BOTH DAYS. Or at least cook as much as you can for both days and store it for when meal-times come along. Please remember this is a suggestion, not a commandment or rule. Yet it is a reasonable conclusion based on the wording in scriptures for the Feast day, and in knowing that we are not allowed to cook on Shabbat.
A quick note here on another alternative that many do. They will cook for the Feast Day, yet FAST for the Sabbath. For Passover, they would cook for their big Pesach Feast which would be eaten on the first night of Unleavened Bread, and on Friday they would cook light and easy dishes during the day for their daily meals. Then a bigger meal for the dinner that ends the First day and ushers in the weekly Shabbat. All day Shabbat they will allow children to eat cold meals – such as cereals and sandwiches – and fast all day themselves. Many either cooking a meal after sundown, or not eating again until Sunday morning’s breakfast.
Personally, a large part of my daily job is household responsibilities and food preparation. When a Feast day comes along, even though we may be “allowed” to cook according to what scripture says, I choose NOT to cook so that I, too, may enjoy the rest and relaxation as well as the joy of Feast Days. I do not want to spend my day just busily finishing up making food for others to enjoy when I could be Feasting on His word and The Spirit along with those I love. Such a blessed time for us to shut off the rest of the world while we connect with Him.
This year, on Wednesday I prepared menu ideas and grocery lists so that we could make a quick run for a few last-minute items for the Feast. Then on Thursday, I prepared our large Passover Feast, as well as Friday’s brunch. Then I set to getting most of the meals done for Fridays Shabbat dinner and Saturday’s Shabbat Brunch and dinner. I planned and created meals that would be easily reheated or eaten cold. That way, my entire day of Holy Convocation could be spent as I wished.
As far as the house, all the cleaning was started the Sunday before the Feast Day as well. Starting well in advance meant everything was done by Thursday night at Sundown! The only thing we needed to consider was dishes that would accumulate during the Feast Day. We have no dishwasher, so we tried our best to use as few dishes as possible. Then simply washed what we used right away. Except for the pots and pans. Those I just put water in, set aside with a lid and would wash Saturday night or Sunday morning. Over the years I have heard a lot of sisters mention how much they enjoy a double Shabbat because, when they prepare ahead for the entire two days, they get to delight in their family with such wonderful peace – like a mini-vacation.
The Feast Days should not become a burden for us, nor should they be a point of deep worry. They should not turn into a legalistic day of rules and regulations that must be followed as a witness of compliance. They are to be memorials, holy convocations – done in memory of the events with which Yahweh blessed His people in ancient times. There are reminders in each and every Feast Day, and we ought to be able to set aside precious time to recognize and discover for ourselves and with friends or family exactly what those messages are. It will build our relationship with Yahweh and strengthen our faith in the journey upon which we have each ventured.
When the next double Sabbath comes along, I pray you will remember these suggestions to make your days precious in every way you desire.
Blessings and Shalom
For more ideas on that topic of clean-up and making Shabbat easier, please see our article titled:
A few additional ideas may be found in our article titled:
Why is now the time to start thinking of fall? Because you are thinking about spring gardening. Let me show you what I mean. . .
Last fall, I got the impression I needed to plan for spring planting. In answer to that prompting, I brought inside two Coleus plants and one nice geranium. I have nursed them all winter long and today I will be gathering cuttings from them to start spring flowers for our flower and prayer gardens. I also am taking cuttings of oregano and lemon balm. I planned to do this mainly to help reduce costs this coming springtime, that we would not need to buy any new plants.
And now look at what is happening in our nation – cities, towns, counties, states and individuals are deciding what you can and cannot buy, declaring things forbidden and non-essential. In fact, many places are either removing or roping off flowers, plants, seeds and things you will need to plant in your gardens. When I look back at the impressions I got in prayer, I can’t help to wonder if Yahweh was giving me a little heads-up. I am not quite certain. I AM, however, quite grateful that I listened because it will help us greatly. And I am already planning to do the same thing as summer rolls on and fall approaches.
I am preparing by looking at the seeds we have been able to buy, setting aside many for next year’s gardens. I have started seedlings to grow plants in as many places in the yard as I can – vegetables for the gardens, flower seeds friends have given me, and herbs so that we have a dual-purpose garden. We WILL beautify our yard; we WILL build our prayer garden; we WILL enjoy these great blessings; we WILL share our blessings as we can. I will keep hope in my heart that life will be restored as we knew it before, yet I won’t rely on the thought that next year will be different than it is at this moment. I will keep going as prompted in case we are not able to buy what we want when we want. I will plan to do as much as I can NOW for providing for the future flowers and plants.
So, what can YOU do?
Firstly, I suggest you buy a simple, inexpensive notebook (I like composition notebooks because the pages are sewn in). Label it as your garden notebook – you can keep a handwritten record of seeds, plants, and supplies.
I have also sketched a rough drawing of the gardens and marked where I planted specific perennials in the prayer garden. I did this because I have a bad habit of forgetting what is where! Now I know what to watch for in the spring – because I did this in the fall last year, I recognized the cute little lilac bushes we transferred last spring into the prayer gardens. They are putting out tiny leaves and have grown twice the size as they were last fall! I am excited – I know they will not bloom for another year or two, but they are easily found with my garden map, and I won’t accidentally pull them out or damage them.
That should be a testimony to you of the importance of keeping records!
Secondly, start planning and thinking with next year in mind. Familiarize yourself with what you can preserve as the seasons roll through. Can you save seeds or cuttings? Devise a system to trade seeds with friends and relatives, or on social media groups you join.
Thirdly, Can you split any plants that you already have outside and spread them to other areas of your yard? A favorite of mine are daylilies of any kind – they grow like weeds in many areas and the root ball can be split to spread around the yard.
Remember, too, to buy some envelopes for use as seed packets when your seed harvest comes in.
Ask yourself, are there any plants I can bring indoors in the fall either by harvesting cuttings or repotting? Make a list in your notebook and mark your calendar so you don’t forget to watch for cooler weather. You won’t want them damaged by an early frost. Some plants don’t come back from that shock. I always need to be careful with which ones I do this, so I don’t bring in spiders or aphids. If this is an issue for you as well, start studying now on how to transfer them indoors for your area and home.
Research, research, and more research! Now is the time to discover which plants are easily propagated by cuttings or root-tubers. If you CAN buy plants this spring, plan to buy those which will be easily propagated and “made new” for next year, or those which will easily and reliably reseed.
It may seem like a lot to think about, but now is the time, today is the day. That way, no matter what next year brings, you will be ten steps ahead of the game!
Garden blessings and much shalom!
Remember when you were younger and your parents would say, “Because I said so, that’s why!” Remember how much you hated those words? Well, hilariously, I found myself saying those basic words to another adult recently. We were asked why certain meats are “kosher,” and some are not. Suddenly I found myself blurting out loud, “Because God said so.” It felt funny as it rolled off the tongue, but in all honesty, that is the reason.
We can look at science and medicine for reasons why we shouldn't eat certain meats or could eat others, and we can analyze each and every form of meat out there on the market. We can address each one individually and say that pork is bad because there are articles and videos about worms in the meat. We can say Lobster is bad because it is a bottom feeder, feeding on garbage and dead animals in the ocean. Oysters, clams and other such organisms are bad for us because they filter garbage and toxins from the ocean waters. Vultures and crows because they are Yahweh’s cleaners of dead creatures. Our individual rationalization can go on and on.
My question to you would be, though, where did you get that information? From scientific studies done in modern times with modern equipment. Those things were NOT available to Moses when Yahweh gave the commandments to eat CLEAN meat and NOT eat unclean meat. God did not tell Moses, “Because one day science will show that there are worms and contaminants in those meats.”
Interestingly, I can show you that this scientific justification will never hold true if you were a hunter. Why? Because right now there are issues with many of what the Bible calls clean meats. For example, in some areas with deer – there is the wasting disease as well as tuberculosis. The same applies to some wild turkeys, yet both of these are clean meats. Now, due to these infections, scientific studies would declare these normally Biblically clean meats suddenly unclean. That is, IF we just rely on what science says. Please note that I am NOT telling you it is safe to eat meats infected with wasting disease, worms or TB! I am NOT – in fact, those should be avoided at all costs based on being contaminated.
So how do we know what healthy animals to eat and what ones NOT to eat and WHY?
The why is easy – and most of you will not like that answer. Because God said so. And it is that simple. Some meats are just plain not for human consumption, and Yahweh tells us which ones. Period. You know, we humans find it easy to believe that murder is wrong, because God said so. Adultery is wrong, because God said so. But when it comes to the desire of FOOD – many feel that God doesn’t seem to know what He is talking about.
WE believe however, that He DOES know what He is talking about, and we choose to follow His instructions for our bodies.
So, to answer the other question: where do we find WHICH meats are to be eaten and which ones are not? Well, common sense does play into this when we say never eat diseased meats. That should be obvious to us. And for the rest, it’s as easy as looking in the Bible. Leviticus 11 is very clear and in depth. In it, Yahweh lays out for you what He classifies as food (meat) and what He does not. Let’s take a look.
-- Whatever animals part the hoof (are cloven-footed), and chew the cud (11:3). Do you see how Yahweh gave you TWO qualifiers? These would include cows, buffalo, bison, deer, antelopes, gazelles, goats, and sheep. That is a wide variety of meat to choose from. Some of these may be difficult to buy in any local store or even at a rural butcher shop, but who knows what you can find in the wilderness. It almost makes me wish we had a ranch where we could have a little herd of each!
-- In case there were any questions, Verse 4 goes on to tell us what we should NOT eat. These are animals which may chew the cud, or they may have cloven hooves, yet they do not have BOTH qualifiers. For example, the camel, a coney (or hyrax), and rabbit (or hare) chew the cud but don’t have parted hooves.
For those who love their pulled pork and bacon, verse 7 explains why we do not eat PORK or anything to do with pork. This would include pickled pigs’ feet, bacon, pulled pork and even LARD. The pig has a split hoof, so it is cloven-footed, but it doesn't chew the cud.
-- What about seafood? Well, God is very specific there as well. In Leviticus 11:9 he starts by saying, 'These you may eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, that you may eat.”
So any fish or seafood we eat MUST have fins AND scales. Do crab, lobster, shrimp, muscles, clams or oysters have fins and scales? NO, but also in that category of unclean aquatic life would be seals, whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, eel, crocodiles and alligators, as well as octopus and squid. Yes, that means we even had to give up calamari!
There are a lot of types of fish left to eat, if you can find them wild caught, of course, that would be the best kind. Trout, Bass (lake and sea), flounder, salmon, anchovy, blue gill, cod, haddock, halibut, tuna, and the list could go on. Is this a little disappointing? Yes, to many it is because they have gotten so used to eating things like stuffed shrimp, clam chowder, crab legs or crab cakes, and lobster tail.
There is a way to satisfy the desire for delicious foods by taking regular fish and creating meals similar to what you had before. We have made a delicious cod chowder with lumps of cooked cod in it that was very much like a clam chowder, with creamy broth and potatoes, too. Crab cakes can be created using the same recipe you used before but substituting your favorite white fish for the crab.
-- We are then reminded that all those aquatic creatures who don't have fins and scales in the seas, rivers, and other waters are an abomination. They are not considered food to us.
-- What of poultry or fowl? Yahweh covers that as well. Verse 13 starts us off by saying which shall NOT be eaten: the eagle, vulture, black vulture, red kite, black kite, raven, horned owl, screech owl, gull, any kind of hawk, little owl, cormorant, great owl, white owl, desert owl, osprey, stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe, and the bat.
I have to giggle here because we have ravens or crows here that are bigger than a good-sized chicken! Jim and I always joke about not needing a chicken coup if we could only eat the crows! I saw one the other day I thought was as big as a small wild turkey hen! But, alas, they are unclean – and probably best because we see them in everyone’s garbage and stealing animal corpses from the streets!
-- This part grosses me out and I pray we never have to rely on this information, but it is a part of the Biblical diet. Verse 20 reminds us that all flying insects walking on all fours are an abomination. Yet there IS a list of creepy crawlers you may eat: any kind of locust, katydid, cricket, and grasshopper. I suppose if I were starving I wouldn’t balk as much as I do right now, yet I have decided I will just tuck this information aside for another decade or five.
- There are some creeping things which are unclean. And these might remind you of an open-air market in some foreign country where the cuisine is more unique than our own. Things such as weasel, rat, any kind of great lizard, gecko, monitor lizard, the wall lizard, skink, and the chameleon. We will also add salamanders here, although they also might fit into the category for aquatic life.
This is a rather extensive list that Yahweh has prepared for us to provide meat sources for the family. We can either choose to look at the plus side to this, and all the things we CAN eat, or we can look at the list as an invasion into our comfort zone and rebel against God's word. It is always your choice which direction you would go. That is between you and Him.
- I will note here that it is always a good idea to have two witnesses to scriptural teachings. For that we can attest to the fact that Deuteronomy 14 confirms what Yahweh wants us to consider clean meat (food) and that which He does not.
Before you get annoyed, know this: We have all been there asking “Are you sure that we are not to eat this meat or that food?” Yes, we are certain, and I get it – pork bacon is crispy and yummy. Crab and lobster are REALLY GOOD tasting. Especially dipped in deeply rich garlic butter. And yes, crabs and spaghetti or muscles are a tradition in many families – especially Mediterranean Families. Yet, you have to ask at some point in life, "am I going to go by my taste buds and traditions or am I going to go by what Yahweh has told me to do?" Many times, we believe we must follow CERTAIN commandments, and we are willing to do so. Like those which we openly recognize and don’t really impose upon our lives or desires. Those are usually the ones contained in the list of Ten Commandments with which we are most familiar.
Yet there are countless more instructions throughout His word that we ought to seek after simply because Yeshua said, “Come, Follow me.” That desire to follow Him should fill our hearts as we try to be like Him. Please remember that He did not tell us to come follow Him when it is comfortable for us to do so. In fact, it is often VERY uncomfortable, sometimes seriously inconvenient, maybe even emotionally painful to follow Him – just look at the rich young man who was told to give up all that he had – and he could not do it. Not even for Christ.
Leviticus 11 The clean meat verses
Deuteronomy 14:1-21 The clean meats verses
Matthew 19:16–30 The Rich Young Man
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Why Aren't Rabbits Biblically Clean?
This question is very easy to answer – no. We do not follow a strict Kosher diet.
You will often see us use the word “Kosher” because it sometimes makes it easier to explain things to our family and friends. We ARE trying to work our way away from using the term because it is clearly rabbinic in nature and does not describe our teachings exactly.
We believe in following the biblical diet as described by Yahweh in scriptures. Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 explain this very well. Rabbinic teachings, however, take things down a different road sometimes and allow certain ingredients that we would not consume ourselves.
Additionally, rabbinic teachings would include being very strict on not allowing foods to be cooked in the same pots as certain other foods. This is very restrictive, and in many homes or cultures, almost impossible to accomplish.
A final requirement of following a strict Kosher diet is that food preparation and other aspects must be approved by and/or blessed by the rabbi. Because we are not participants in, nor are we practicing Judaism, we do not follow this path either.
What we follow is, as I said, a Biblical diet. We believe that the Bible describes what is food and what is not food. This is especially important in the area of meats. Some things which have become extremely common in especially the American diet today, are things Yahweh labelled as “unclean” and also labelled “abominable.” One thought that often comes across my mind is that many Believers in Christ very openly believe certain behaviours to be abominable – such as those under Yahweh’s moral code: adultery, sexual immorality, pornography, etc. They also would believe that abuse of spouse or children would be abominable. But if you press them regarding the topic of certain meats being abominable, they will say Yahweh did away with that restriction or counsel. We can show through scripture that this is not the case.
Therefore, we choose to follow the descriptions of food as Yahweh designed them to be.
I hope this helps to clarify for you.
Blessings and Shalom.
For more information, please see our article titled "Why Aren't Rabbits Kosher?"
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Is Your Ministry a Kosher Ministry?
This message is designed to be a simple, practical application of the scriptures for the first two Biblical Feasts, which are also part of what are commonly called the Spring Feasts. We are going to show what is done and commanded in scriptures, and how we apply those in our lives and home. We hope this will help you to simplify your feasts and enjoy them in pure shalom that will fill you to over-flowing. This blog will speak on Passover and Unleavened Bread.
First, let me say, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread are TWO DIFFERENT EVENTS. We need to say that right off the bat because many people believe the entire upcoming Feast time is considered “Passover.” It is not. This is a tradition of Judaism. It also seems to make it easier for public calendaring, which you can see on the standard printed Gregorian calendars. In fact, there are THREE events coming up in this spring feast season and a fourth event coming up closer to the start of summer season here in the United States:
2) Feast of Unleavened Bread
3) First Fruits
4) Shavuot or Pentecost
We will be only covering the first two for now.
When we celebrate Passover and Unleavened Bread
We follow the Hillel 2 calendar. We believe that we are to be one body, and that is the biggest reason for following the current, standard Hebrew calendar. The majority of people who celebrate Pesach follow this calendar. For information as to more explanation why we do, you can read our free e-book on our parent ministry website at this link:
That being said, we then use what is written in Exodus 12. The calendar we use can be downloaded at www.hebcal.com and it will be marked with which Gregorian date of the year the 1st of Nisan occurs. From there we can follow the days mentioned in scripture.
For example, Exodus 12:6 says that the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew year (The Month of Nisan) would be the day that the lamb was killed during the years of sacrifice. It was killed at twilight, before sundown. Prepared, and roasted (verse 8). Then, after sundown on the 15th day of the month, the lamb was eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, leaving no leftovers.
Verse 11 in Exodus 12 says they ate with their loins girded (dressed to travel), shoes on, staff in hand. They ate quickly, didn’t dally or linger for too long. Thus, they would be ready to leave the moment Yahweh said they needed to load up and go, in haste.
Then they would be eating unleavened bread every day for six additional days – a total of seven days.
This takes the holy days from the 15th of Nisan to sundown on the 21st of Nisan. The first and seventh days both are holy days where no work is done except that which needs done for meals.
Pretty simple instructions which we can each use as a model for honoring this time of year. Verse 14 says we are to celebrate these feasts for a memorial. In addition to this, we are told three times to do it forever, verses 14, 17, and 24.
Exodus 12:7 describes what Yahweh’s people were to do after slaughtering the lamb: using hyssop as a paintbrush, brush blood on the lintels and doorposts of each home. This would mark their homes so that the angel of death would pass them by.
As a reminder to ourselves of the blood on the door posts from ancient times, we have a deep red fabric which we take and hang over the top (lintel) of the door frame of our front door. The sides of that fabric drape down the door posts on each side. I would love to hang this on the outside of our home, but we do this on the INSIDE because our home is white, and we don’t have a covered porch. I have had such difficulty with fabrics bleeding in the last 10-plus years even after being washed that I don’t want it dripping down the siding of the house! One day, I hope we can hang it on the inside for ourselves AND on the outside as a demonstration for others.
I have spoken with families over the years who do this, too. On their main entrance, and they do it on each bedroom door for the children, too. It gives the children a visual of how Yahweh’s people were protected and covered during that time of the Exodus when the angel of death came. This can be shared as an illustration of how Yahweh continues to protect YOUR children – giving personal experiences when He has done so for them during the year. As they grow up, they will have a witness of how Yahweh is there for them. He isn’t some vague provider in the shadows. This makes it real for our children and grandchildren.
You can even have them write them down in their journal – adding new experiences of protection and provision each year. If you have been helping them over the year to already write these down, you can use this time to sit and have them re-read these experiences out loud. This makes a great time for you to discuss with the kids all about the Exodus, too, as commanded in Exodus 12:26-27.
We have a walking stick we also place in the corner of our home by the front door.
Another item of décor we would like to have one day is a big stuffed lamb. A cute image of how the family had to care for that lamb, love it, feed it, and such before using it for the sacrifice for protection.
Cleaning out the Leaven
Many people start months before Passover cleaning out the leaven. They will begin cleaning out every nook and cranny of any place which might be hiding crumbs of leavened product. Some will even wash walls, ceilings and what not before Passover begins because they believe they must literally get out ALL the microscopic leaven, or yeast, from their homes.
Here’s the catch. It is impossible to get out all the yeast from ANY home, ever. It exists in our air, 24/7, 365. It’s just there. Is it a nice idea to do your spring cleaning this time of year? SURE! Why not? It’s spring! And with the nicer weather coming, it would be nice to start this lovely time with a sparkling clean home. But there isn’t a need to stress yourself over every tiny particle. There also is no commandment to sterilize your home of leaven.
What we do:
I have a fairly frugal mind-set. I have for a long time. I do not like to waste. I do not want to have to throw out food that contains yeast, if I can prevent it. So, any products which contain yeast as an ingredient, which is very few for us, we will use up throughout the week or two before the Holy Days begin. As an example of this, I had a bag of homemade breadcrumbs in the freezer which needed to get used right away. Last week we ate meatloaf and hamburgers. Each used a little of those breadcrumbs to hold them together. But we still had half a bag left! This week, two nights in a row we made meals with ground chicken – hamburgers again and Italian Wedding Soup which has little meatballs in it. Breadcrumbs are now gone.
Another thing we need to pay attention to in our home is we make a lot of our own homemade bread products which contain added yeast or homemade sourdough. Sourdough the old fashioned or ancient form of yeast which the commandment mentions as leaven. It needs to be gone. Before the last week before Passover, we use up the last batch of sourdough starter by making crackers, bagels, soft pretzels or any number of other delicious treats. Yes, it does seem we eat a lot of bread products before Passover – more than we normally eat the rest of the year!
During that last week before Passover, I also want to ensure we have gotten rid of any packaged yeast and will make something from that as well. We had hamburger buns this week and a loaf of bread last week. Still have two more packages left so I am considering making some bagels with some homemade cream cheese for Shabbat, and maybe a batch of soft pretzels on Sunday as a snack. Then I will make one more cruise through the cupboards, pantry, and freezers to make sure we got it all. And we are done.
Will we dust and vacuum and clean the house? Of course, we will. Wouldn’t we do that any time before a holiday or celebration? Yet it isn’t a stressful event for me because I take into consideration simply what Yahweh commanded his ancient people.
Now is a great time to mention those easy matzah crackers you can purchase in the grocery stores or online. They are wonderful, make life easy so that you don’t need to bake unleavened bread from scratch every single day. We buy some when we can find them and enjoy them with peanut butter, dips, spreads, etc. The question always arises about the label that says “Not Kosher For Passover.”
When these are labelled “Kosher for Passover” it simply means that a rabbi certified that one batch was made and baked before the 18 minute cutoff that they have declared is the time when the natural yeast starts to leaven the dough. We do not follow this rabbinic tradition. Yeast begins to multiply at different rates dependent upon conditions such as natural sugars in the flour, temperature, moisture levels, and such. This is merely a rabbinic rule or law and is not scriptural. You can buy whichever box you choose to.
Foods we serve for our feast:
- Lamb, when we can find it and afford it, otherwise we have some other delicious feast meat
- Charoset made from chopped apples and walnuts. Some also add wine and allow it to marinate over night. Other additions can be raisins or coconut.
- Unleavened bread, Matzah, lefse bread, na’an, tortillas, or other flatbread.
- Hummus with horseradish (which is a bitter herb), roasted peppers, garlic, and olive oil; goes GREAT with matzah or other unleavened breads.
- Bitter herbs – often these are any form of greens which can be picked or purchased. We currently have some delicious wild mustard greens growing in our garden. Some other suggestions would include:
Escarole Green onion
We do not kill our own lamb, we also do not eat a whole lamb because there are only two of us. We buy lamb cuts when we can find them, otherwise we have been known to cook Cornish hens, a whole chicken, even a turkey. Something special we might not cook very often through the year.
Activities we enjoy during the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
Other than the FIRST and SEVENTH days, we do continue working our jobs. The Bible commands these are two days of Holy Convocation. The only two days we take completely off from our work are those two days, UNLESS there is a Shabbat in there as well. Of course, we ALWAYS rest on Shabbat.
A few things we also enjoy doing together:
- Watching the old movie, The Ten Commandments. This is an annual tradition for us – although it contains some artistic license, it is still a fun thing we enjoy with some yummy snacks or treats.
- Watching “The Passion of the Christ”
- Reading about the Exodus as commanded in scripture. For this we also send text message reminders to our children about certain messages contained in the story. We cater these to their level of spirituality – our grown kids range from partial attendance in church to agnostics to world travelling missionaries. As our grandchildren grow, we treasure the times we will be able to share with them as well in this same fashion. When schedules permit, because none of our family celebrate the Feast days, we also call and talk of this time of year. We try to not be over-bearing or over-whelming in our conversations, simply try our best to share what we are doing.
A simple way to accomplish this would be to pray first, then call and somewhere in the conversation mention that you are having a feast that evening. We often get a reply something to the effect of, “Why? It isn’t Thanksgiving!” Just roll with it by replying, “No, it’s Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread so we are having a dinner like Moses did with HIS family when he left Egypt.” Sometimes this opens a door to talk more and remind them of our blessed time of year. . . other times it slams doors. Try to go with the flow and be loving and gentle.
Should we follow all the Jewish traditions for the Passover Seder?
Should you? This is a question that implies it is a command to do the Haggadah and the Seder plate with all its accoutrements. It is NOT. This is Jewish tradition. Might it be nice to do as a cultural experience? That is up to you as a family or individual to decide. We had done it before and shared it some of our family members. We choose not to any longer – it is not scriptural and much of it is related to tradition or Kabbalah. We do not follow nor recommend Kabbalah as it is mysticism.
There are MANY traditions for Passover that are merely that, traditions. This is why we have taken this message simply back to scripture and shared our own personal activities we do to keep us focused on the events of the ancient times.
Scriptures for additional reading:
Exodus Chapter 12
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I think I found it today – the kind of peace that has no explanation, given in a time when my head and heart should be in total upheaval, and yet, that shalom runs so deep you truly do not comprehend it.
It was supposed to be raining today – science predicted it would be storming for three days straight. Science was wrong again. It was SO lovely outside that I took some time out on the porch to enjoy my coffee in the warm sunshine. I guess you could say I was getting my morning vitamins! I let the sun drizzle warmth down on my face, eyes closed, just absorbing every sound of my world. It was so quiet.
As I stood leaning on the railing, the birds seemed silent at first. I put on my praise music and then, interestingly, the birds started singing with me! How beautiful it was that they joined in as the music filled our neighborhood. One little friend even skitted back and forth under the little shrubs along the front walk, singing and dashing from hiding place to hiding place. It seemed he was trying to go unnoticed, yet wanted me to hear and see him, all at the same time. I closed my eyes again to listen to the peace.
After a bit, I decided to just look out over our little piece of Heaven. The lawn was green, nothing exciting, just green grass – I noticed it was growing a bit more than we want right now – which means mowing season starts soon, yet otherwise all was normal.
Glancing up as a neighbor drove by, I waved, then suddenly felt an amazing happiness inside, so I even smiled a bigger smile than usual. As my gaze wandered back to our growing lawn, I noticed something had changed. I have seen it many times before when I needed a little “sign,” acknowledgement, or comfort from Yahweh. Occasionally, I have asked Yahweh to bring it, yet most times He must just hears my heart and delivers it on His own. Today was one of those days.
I had been praying over our children, especially those exposed to this virus situation, and praying in frustration about some things I see happening in our world with this pandemic issue. I had been asking for what to write, if He had any messages I need to pass along when I saw them.
What was it? Jewels and gemstones all over our yard. I haven’t seen them as often this last 12 months for some reason. But today, they were more abundant than I had EVER seen before.
In some spots it seemed as though Yahweh had sprinkled jewels in puddles and pools. Tiny gems, all about the size of a ¾ karat diamond. Not too big, not too small. Sparkling in almost every colour imaginable. I have tried many times to capture a photo of them, and whenever I do, they vanish! It makes me giggle – it is almost as if they are merely a message for me to see. Yet one I have shared before.
This time was unique in a couple of ways: there were no deep red garnets or rubies on the lawn, and there were no jewels on the little evergreens along the walkway. Just the grass was covered so greatly that it was almost as if every blade of grass was physically encrusted with gemstones! And oh! How they sparkled today!
It looked as though the lawn had been poured over with tourmaline, aquamarine, sapphires, zircon, diamonds, amethyst, peridot, emeralds and topaz gems in orange, gold and yellow. Each time I glanced at another place, the glistening multiplied. I could watch it physically change right before my eyes. My eyes darted from place to place and as they did, my entire body filled with peace, joy, hope, and a deep feeling, “All is well.” Tears welled up in my eyes and all I could muster was a whispered, Thank you, Yahweh. And sometimes today as I have thought about it, I am not sure I actually whispered it out loud.
I know, I know – they are merely raindrops or dewdrops hanging around. Yet that is not how they present themselves for me – they light up in the sunshine up here on our mountain top as if Yahweh has literally sprinkled gemstones on our lawn.
What is well? No specifics, just ALL is well. And I will trust in Him that this is the case. As I have done in the past. Because Yahweh made a promise to me through a dream where He was pouring gemstones from a velvet bag into my hands, those gemstones, His provision, never stopped coming, and my hands never filled up.
For now I am just going to close the day knowing that throughout every minute and hour of today, I have known that all is well, and I have been filled with that peace that surpasses ALL understanding. I pray you do as well.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
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Peace That Surpasses All Understanding
Eggplant Rollatini stuffed with homemade ricotta, or Farm Cheese - Delicious!
Fear is NOT of Yahweh, even in this panicked time of “pandemic.” We are not to worry, not to fear, not to panic. We are to think for a few moments: what was taught to Abraham who was forewarned about Sodom and Gomorrah; Noah who was told to build an ark to save his family; and Joseph who was warned to store up excess grains for the impending famine. These men were ready for what was about to happen and had great courage to follow through. If we listen to these historical events, we would be courageous and prepared, too.
Part of being prepared is knowing not just what to store away, burt to know what to do with what you have stored. I used to have friends who had a basement filled with foods they would "use in an emergency," yet if an emergency hit, they honestly had no idea what to do with 75 pounds of dried pinto beans and 50 pounds of powdered milk!
Being prepared for emergencies isn't just about store foods and personal items to keep you through troubled times. No, we need to know HOW to be prepared in our THINKING, too. Often that is the last place people look to, yet it should be the FIRST PLACE we should turn after we have turned to Yahweh.
Here’s what I mean: Over the decades I have regularly been asked, “WHY do you do everything that you do?” What people mean when they ask this is, why do you cook everything from scratch? Why have you ground your own flour? Why do you make raviolis from farm cheese which you make from the milk you buy from the store?
My initial answer is often, "BECAUSE I CAN!" I am not being snarky or rude here, but I do all these things because I am capable of making those things from scratch. In other words, I do them because I know how to. AND, the blessings of creating so much from scratch end up being SO many.
Firstly, it is SO much cheaper to cook from scratch. I will share with you about raviolis as an example. Often when we go to the store and price a bag of raviolis with ingredients close to what we would make at home – ones that don’t have fake ingredients or fillers – the price is insane compared to what I can make them for. If I buy a pack of 18-24 ravioli for $7.00 (gluten free options would be more costly), people might think that is decent. But if I MAKE a batch, I will end up with more than 24, likely around 50 ravioli the same size as in the purchased package.
This is enough for one dinner for two immediately and one dinner for two to be frozen for later, maybe even two meals! The cost for my making them?
The cost is amazing – I calculated it the other day using gluten-free flour, spinach, and homemade farm cheese from whole milk (which requires ¼ cup of vinegar and the milk).
Filling (Cheese and spinach)
Pinch Salt: $0.75
Total: $3.10 + water, electric and a pinch of salt = $3.50
If we only ended up with the same 24 ravioli as in the purchased bag, it would cost half my calculated price. The cost would be 1/4 to 1/2 what it costs as a frozen bag of product. Yes, it takes the investment of time. But I tend to use my time wisely. I listen to lectures from school, or uplifting music. I use the time to catch up on videos or audios for which I haven’t had time. Sometimes I make them while praying for our needs or those of our children and family. There are so many things I can multi-task with while I make raviolis. My time is neither wasted nor lost.
Secondly, I create from scratch because I KNOW that in a pinch, if the world goes to Hades in a hand basket as we have seen happening lately, with minimal ingredients we will be able to create the same kinds of foods we are accustomed to eating. We don’t need to just eat rice and beans.
This is EXTREMELY important to us. For a few reasons. It means we can store a lot of the basics and get farther in food supply than many others can. But even more than this, we have LIVED on instant foods before. In a financial pinch, we had to eat some food storage foods we bought as a package deal a few years ago. We ate them for almost 18 months. There were days when we ate that food and WERE NOT satiated. In other words, we ate our serving sizes according to package instructions, we felt FULL, yet still felt HUNGRY at the same time. It was very strange to me.
When I looked into why, without our realizing it, those foods we stored were filled with “empty” ingredients. What this means is that many of the ingredients had NO nutritional value to our bodies, and our bodies KNEW it. Our bodies were not satisfied and were begging for more! Making and eating more is a bad idea. Families store foods by number of servings so food will last a certain amount of time, and enough to cover the number of people in the home. If you have stored enough SERVINGS for one year, yet those servings are not nourishing your body, you are likely to eat more. The result is you reduce the amount of time your food storage will last. Additionally, lower nutrient foods will cause nutritional issues, leading to possible health issues.
Thirdly, we know exactly what ingredients go into each meal – no hidden surprises or having to look strange ingredients up. We don’t have to tolerate over-starching, over-salting, or over-sugaring our bodies with products containing hidden items. Many manufactured foods have vague ingredients, such as “natural flavorings.” Following a Biblically clean diet, we want to know that the ingredients we eat will pass muster with our Biblical principles.
Fourthly, I truly do enjoy cooking and creating foods. Jim does, too. In fact, he is much better at it than I am. Some people have that knack – where they can take herbs and spices and mix the right ones together to create a delicious meal. Jim is one of those people. While I, on the other hand, am great at baking. We make a great combo!
It is a great blessing to be able to tie all these things together for our benefit. During some really rough times, we have been left with only a few ingredients in the cupboard, yet Yahweh has blessed us with new recipes and ideas for delicious meals. Having that blessing of knowledge as things get wonky in the world brings us peace of mind. We don’t have to be concerned about whether or not we will eat because we can’t find a premade meal hiding in the pantry – Comfort comes from knowing we will be able to make something delicious AND nutritious from nothing.
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Why Do We Make Ravioli From Scratch?
I have been thinking and praying these last few days about how the world is reacting to this Covid-19 virus, and the announcements of various governments around the world. I have been listening and watching the reactions of people, both online and in the public as we have ventured out. I have been weighing these behaviours against The Word of Yahweh written for us to bring us through these days.
This is what occurs to me.
At one point I read a story of an elderly man, someone who has been through the Great Depression. Someone who knows what it is like to do without - bread shortages, flour and sugar rations, and other things which greatly affected their lives during that time. This man has “seen it all,” you could say. He went to the store and, with everyone else in line pushing overflowing carts of toilet paper, he just wanted 4-6 rolls to get him through the month. That was all. Just to get through the month. He asked the customer of one cart that was over-flowing if they would sacrifice just ONE package for him. NO. He approached others, and not one would give up a single pack of toilet paper for an elderly man. Not one. I wanted to throw up. Literally – my stomach got so knotted that I felt like throwing up.
Is this what we have come to in America? If so, then it is time for people to check their heart!!! Do you know what hurt the most? Watching people who under normal circumstances call themselves believers, but under THESE LAST FEW DAYS, threw all of their compassion three sheets to the wind??? Yes, I went there and made a toilet paper reference!
If anyone would have, even for a brief second, questioned or hesitated about giving toilet tissue to that man, CHECK YOUR HEART. I will go even better on this topic, if you take one stance here on social media and while talking with friends, then you act differently in public - Check your heart!
And remember these words and use them as your check list:
When you have hoarded things to yourself or caused another less-fortunate than you to go without, what you just did was as if we had done it to Yeshua!!! Literally.
In Matthew 25:40 WEB it pointedly states: "The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, YOU DID IT TO ME.” (CAPS added for emphasis)
I may have repeated myself, but my hope is to drive the point home. Sometimes, in front of others, we may behave or speak one way, yet act or react completely different in another setting. Because of that, NOW is the time to truly examine Yahweh’s truth, the whole truth in His words recorded from Genesis to Revelation. THIS is the time to find out, discover, and examine how well are we witnessing of Him in each aspect of life.
Remember those verses in the New Testament that say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” We hear them often as believers, don’t we? Well, let’s look a bit more closely at the words in Matthew 7:12 WEB “Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”
I love this version because it is very direct: whatever it is that you want people to do to you, go out and do it to them!!! As you venture out to the grocery store or bulk store, can you say that you did to others as you wish to be treated? Another way of saying this is: when those customers denied an elderly man a basic personal care need, they want to be denied basic personal care needs. People will deny this. Yet scripture testifies otherwise!!! Next time you act out - positive or negative - in public: Didn’t you just express to others that you want to be treated that same way? What way was that? Were YOU a good example of Yeshua? Of His teachings? Did YOU exemplify Christ? Or NOT?
How about Luke 6:31 WEB “As you would like people to do to you, DO EXACTLY SO TO THEM.” (CAPS added for emphasis). Ouch. We often use these words to scold others for how they treat us, but is that what it truly says? I sometimes see things a bit differently than the rest of the world – I see here that we’re being told to treat others EXACTLY how we would like them to “do so” unto us. So, when you are rude, are you expecting to be treated rudely? Angry – angrily? Lacking compassion and denying basic needs to others – you want others to deny basic needs then to you.
I know believers who have taken pride in screaming in the faces of store clerks, cussing at store workers, cursing at family members! Using this teaching, we should ask them when they brag about it or demonstrate this in front of us, “Did you just give permission for that person to scream and cuss in YOUR face?” Of course, they will say no, and likely claim the person deserved it or “had what was coming to them.” But if you show or recite either of those verses to that “believer,” I pray you can show them how they actually ARE giving that person permission to do the same to them.
Reversing the attention in those verses should be an attention-getter for EVERY believer. How YOU ACT TODAY, TOMORROW, NEXT WEEK during this entire man-made crisis is a statement of HOW YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO TREAT YOU.
If you hoard all the toilet paper to yourself, then that means you want people to withhold TP from you in an emergency. If you ensure you buy all the meat or milk, cereals or pasta, and do not share with the neighbor who didn’t make it to the store before the panic, then you are stating out loud that is how YOU want them to treat you in your time of lack! Have you ever thought of it that way? I have – many times. It is one of the “exercises” I use regularly to try and keep myself in check.
I have used this throughout my life. If I want others to backbite or gossip, lie, cheat, steal, and covet from me, then I will do the same to them. Yet I don’t want people to lie to or about me, covet, cheat or steal from me. And so, I try my best to not do those things to them.
That is what those words are there for in the scriptures – to help remind us of what NOT to be. Yet many don’t look at them from the other side. Most often we try to use those words to put OTHERS in check for how they are treating us or those around us.
Take the time, please, during this trial in our nations. And think about how you are treating others. Remember that old saying about walking a mile in their shoes? Now is the good time to start that. Some days it is as simple as asking yourself, if I were the store clerk, cashier or manager, or even the other customer: would I want those words coming out of someone’s mouth aimed at me? Would I want them to behave that way toward me?
NOW, apply this daily with friends and family AND those you don't even know.
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YOU Did This To Me
Sometimes we make Shabbat stressful on ourselves without intending to. During those moments, we are trying to not offend Yahweh, plus we want to avoid appearing to others like we are stepping away from our beliefs on keeping the day holy. When something throws us a curve, we can at times, feel an overwhelming, almost panic feeling inside. This was one of those times where it happened to me. Most of the time my head is clear, and I just roll with the flow as ideas pop into my head to overcome a curve thrown at me. Yet because of the outside drama taking place in the world this week, I think I was already a bit "en garde" inside when this happened.
Shabbat dinner was supposed to be one I could toss together after sundown by reheating the rice, then throwing veggies and pre-cooked meat into the frying pan. It required some work but was still an easy meal. Yet SOMEONE (ME, ME, ME!!!) forgot that we Sprang Forward earlier in the month, and now sundown is at SEVEN-30, and not six-30! I don’t like to eat too late in the evening, yet wasn’t comfortable cooking that much during Shabbat hours.
I had most of the ingredients ready to just toss into the skillet or wok, but there was still some cooking and preparing that would need to be done. Much more than I, personally, felt appropriate on Shabbat. On the other hand, if we waited for sundown, I knew we would be eating way too late in the day for my tastes.
With my mind already fuddled, I blurted out-loud my dilemma to Jim, and he very calmly said, “Just throw it all in a pan and stick it in the oven! Then just rinse the lettuce and it will be ready in no time!” I felt so silly – here I was worried about over-working, and it was so simple! I grabbed a casserole pan, dumped in the rice, piled on the meat and veggies, sprinkled soy sauce and sesame oil on, added a baking lid, then popped it in our toaster oven. Thirty minutes later it was ready to toss into the lettuce and eat our bulgogi dinner!
We need to remember to just take a breath and think at moments like this. And if we can’t, then turn to Yahweh and ask, or to our husband, maybe even a friend and run it by them, calmly. Ideas always come, whether through prayer or through another’s calm. Such a simple solution which provided peace for me to just enjoy the last little bit of Shabbat Shalom.
Maybe this idea will bless you with inspiration in your time of need.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Quick Shabbat Oops!
We hope you have taken the time to read the first in this series where we disccussed “halakha.” With that understanding, let’s explore and explain lashon hara.
Lashon hara is a Hebrew term that is considered halakha. Simply put, that means a behavior which rabbis determined is governed by their laws. Lashon hara is part of “Jewish ethics” and, when violated, is judged by the Jewish legal system.
Just as there is conflict with the definition of “halakha,” there is conflicting information about lashon hara.
1) Some believe lashon hara is simply telling any lie.
2) Some believe it to be the telling of stories that are the ruin of a reputation.
3) While still others believe it means when someone upsets you, and you declare they have offended you.
4) There are also people who believe it is ANY information spoken that might bring harm to another, true or false. In fact, some believe this includes speaking positive things about a friend or relative in front of the person’s enemy. Why? Well, it is beleived that this could tempt the enemy to commit some spoken offense against the person.
This has come about because, just as in halakha, Rabbis in different sects, orders, and communities have defined lashon hara according as they have been led. Here are just two examples:
A) To some, lashon hara is the truth spoken for a wrong purpose. Jewish law segregates truth spoken from lies spoken. Lies fall under the classification of defamation, and not lashon hara.
B) The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion, however, defines lashon hara as: “Every kind of trafficking in evil report or rumors—whether true or not—by carrying them from one person to another, or by relating unpleasant or harmful facts about another, is forbidden.”
There are many more examples we could draw from, too. But these two examples will give us some ideas of what could be considered against Jewish law. And using scripture we can also show that Yahweh would not approve of these actions, either:
- Trafficking – spreading reports in any way. Today this would include face-to-face conversation as well as telephone, social media, text message, etc. It is interesting to look up the definition of the word “trafficking” because it means to “deal or trade in something illegal.” When it comes to our words or stories spread, it makes it sound pretty covert, under-handed, and evil.
Leviticus 19:16a is an example of “trafficking.” “You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people.” This verse is a good visual of trafficking as it shows movement when it describes someone who will “go up and down.”
- Wrong purposes, evil speaking, or evil reports – Often there is negative motive behind the trafficking of stories. Negative motives (wrong purposes) include things like envy, jealousy, pride, greed, vengeance, bitter root, etc. These motives aer what lead to words spoken with evil intentsuch as negative speaking that taints a reputation.
Proverbs 28:25 WEB: “One who is greedy stirs up strife…”
Proverbs 21:24 WEB: “The proud and haughty man, "scoffer" is his name; he works in the arrogance of pride.”
James 3:16 KJV: “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
The bible is rife with examples of potential motives which people use to spread rumors against a
brother or sister.
- Tale-bearing – This includes idle talk, often sensationalized, or implied; meddlesome stories; tall tales, lies.
Proverbs 20:19 Douay Rheims: “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets; Therefore meddle not with him that openeth wide his lips.”
2 Thessalonians 3:11 Good News Translation: “We say this because we hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people's business.”
- Scandal-mongering – similar to tale-bearing, but more scandalous, implying a ruinous rumor. “I heard that man died suddenly. Maybe his wife was cheating on him, and he walked in on them together then had a heart attack!” The only truth in this statement is likely that the man died – the rest is scandalous speculation about alleged infidelity. This goes well with the scriptures about meddling and idleness listed under tale-bearing!
- Insinuation - That situation where someone sounding exasperated says, “Goodness! Don’t even ask me about what Susie did the other day!” Then leaving it to hang for minds to wander.
- Gossip – includes pretty much all of the above and anything even similar to all of the above!
We have all heard these verses in Proverbs 6:16-19 KJV which read “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Four out of the seven Yahweh feels are abominations fit into what we just described, don’t they?
There is another aspect I would like to bring up which is in addition to the person does the actual SPEAKING. Jewish law says that both the speaker and the HEARER are guilty of lashon hara. You may be exclaiming WHAT? HOW?? Well, this too is scriptural. Many people don’t believe or realize that sitting and listening to someone gossip makes us just as guilty as the person speaking it.
Proverbs 20:19 WEB: “He who goes about as a tale-bearer reveals secrets; therefore don't keep company with him who opens wide his lips.” The talebearer reveals the secrets, but we are not to keep company with those. We are to remove ourselves from that situation, from that immoral influence.
Proverbs 17:4 KJV: “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” OUCH! If we listen to those false lips, we become an evildoer, too. We will appear to be liars as we willingly listen to the “naughty tongue.” If we stick around to hear stories, while nodding our heads, we give the distinct impression we are in agreement with what they say. Should we speak against these stories later, this can make us appear hypocritical. Or worse, if we speak the rumors to others we literally become liars for sharing false information. Which brings us to the next scripture I would like to share.
Exodus 23:1 WEB: “You shall not spread a false report. Don't join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.” We must not listen to these stories and spread them, and we must not join forces with those who spoke first. Let’s be real with each other - when we hear one person speak about a situation, we are only hearing that one side. If we turn around and repeat only that side, we are not being honest. We have put ourselves, whether intentionally or not, in a position to be a malicious witness by speaking those stories as though they are truth.
1 Corinthians 15:33 WEB: “Don't be deceived! Evil companionships corrupt good morals." Also see the KJV translation: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Whether it is evil companionship or evil communication, it will corrupt our morals and our manners. We can be led astray – so we must be careful to not be deceived by these temptations.
We MUST be aware of our speech, and we must be aware of the situations we allow ourselves to be in. Scripture says there is the power of life and death in our tongue, in the words we speak. God hates gossip (tale-bearing) – He calls it an abomination. Speech is VERY powerful – it can make or break people’s spirits, emotions, testimony, even their character and reputation. Look at it this way, Yahweh spoke this world into existence! How powerful is that? So, do we need to be aware of our words and be cautious of what
So – can we say that rabbinic lashon hara is biblical?
With all this scriptural evidence we would have to say that yes, in principle, lashon hara is biblical. Yet, we would stand firm to say RABBINICAL LASHON HARA IS NOT a message that we teach. You are probably asking a big WHY? Well, we see issues with using lashon hara in our modern day.
A big issue is that lashon Hara is an official claim in Jewish law made against another person. Biblically speaking, the court of judgment that was set up was the Sanhedrin and was made up of 71 men who heard cases. These led to judgments. Once the Jewish people entered the era of the diaspora, though, they were often cut off from the Sanhedrin by distance. After that point, the decision was made to rely, instead, on a panel of three men when there was conflict that could not be settled. These three men could be three rabbis, or could be just three men the individual community believes are "wise."
This small board of three men who are determined wise enough to judge – this would be called a Beit Din. Yet this is Judaic law, not biblical law. In non-Jewish circles, where people are “Torah observant Christians,” they do not fall under the judgment of rabbis, or this council.
Who, then, makes the decisions in a case that involves a Non-Jew? With all the variations of Christianity and Torah observant communities, who decides right and wrong? It depends.
We recently saw a perfect example of who decides outside of rabbinics. A case came up in the Christian churches where a preacher/teacher was accused of grievous sin. The accusations went public and part of the concern was that there were untruths being spread. In Jewish circles, this would be a case of potential lashon hara. It took some time for those of similar faith to come together and examine the case. Eventually, a board was appointed to bring in an investigator and then hear evidence leading to a decision. This IS an option which can be used. Just as was done in biblical times when Moses called the Seventy. Yet even this can go awry.
A couple years ago, I witnessed one person very upset over the words of another on a social media group. The offended person claimed lashon hara SO vehemently that several other people got involved in the situation. Three men got together in the background, appointed themselves the three wisest men, and they made a judgment in this case. I honestly never stuck around long enough to see how it turned out. Neither did the accused – because it was clear that the “trial” was not fair, nor was it impartial as all three men were deeper friends with the offended. There appeared to be no chance of impartiality.
Another issue we have seen with lashon hara is the flexibility from order to order, sect to sect, community to community, etc., just as with the term halakha. In fact, in researching this topic, there are several websites which contain lists or descriptions of EXEMPTIONS for lashon hara. In other words, there are times when you CAN commit lashon hara and the rabbis will not punish you. In some cases, they believe lashon hara is a “mitzvot,” or commandment. In other words, you are commanded by the rabbinic laws to speak lashon hara, and the if you don't do it, a punishment can be issued.
A nut shell
Well, that is lashon hara in a nutshell. I may have left you with more questions than answers. The summary at this point is that lashon hara is a rabbinic term for what they decide is evil speaking, and it is governed by Jewish ethics and law.
As I said before, it is not a principle Torah For Women will teach. Here are our reasons why:
1) It falls under rabbinic rule. It is halakha – and therefore, must be tried and judged by rabbis or a council of wise, Jewish men. We are not under rabbinic rule.
2) Although based on Biblical principles, lashon hara is, in our assessment, too flexible in both deciding what is and is not “lawful,” and in deciding who hears the cases. These two show a lack of consistent and proper discernment as what is lawful and who hears cases can change with a change in popularity, as we explained briefly in our first article in the series.
3) Our biblical evidence shows that the principle goes along with Yahweh’s teachings. Therefore, since rabbis have decided that sometimes it is a “rabbinical commandment” (or mitzvah) to BREAK a commandment of Yahweh’s, we cannot support this thinking. There are rare circumstances when we may have to choose between two of Yahweh’s commandments, but we should never put ourselves in the position to choose between MAN’S religious “laws” and YAHWEH’S.
Yahweh’s Word is our final authority. Not Judaism. Not Christianity. Not MAN, no matter what man’s claim of authority over us.
In our next articles in this series, we will explain better Yahweh’s teachings on gossip, as well as go over some ideas in our modern society of what can be considered a violation of His teachings. We can also explore who judges us in these areas. We hope to also explain "conversation" well enough for you to feel comfortable when talking with friends and loved ones.
Jewish “Permission” to Commit Lashon Hara
Jewish Encyclopedia Link to Lashon Hara Article
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Lashon Hara - Part 2
Before reading this article, please understand this: I am a mother, a stepmother, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, and for over 25 years was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who also had kids in public school, too. My years of experience cover a broad range of areas which is best suited for another article where I can talk about it in depth. For now, I am showing you this to say, this isn’t a topic I address lightly. I DO, however, address it from a Biblical perspective. I pray you read to the end for the full perspective. So, let’s take a look.
I used the term a lot years and years ago, too. Domestic engineer. It is the term coined decades ago to put a spin on homemaker, or housewife. Somehow society decided being “JUST a stay at home mom” was not worthy or valuable compared to outside employment. Thus, women began to assign an official sounding title to their position as wife and mother.
When you look at books, blogs, and instructive articles from the job placement industry, the common description for “domestic engineer” is that it is “gender neutral,” politically correct, and implies “value not possessed” by the applicant. This last part is because the main focus is on the word “engineer.” You see, from a job placement perspective, stating you are an “engineer” implies a higher level of education in that specific field – as in tech school or college. When it comes to the other two phrases, “gender neutral” and politically correct, most women have probably never thought of “domestic engineer” as being either. Instead, many, including I, felt it added “value” to the years of being a mother and wife away from the professional workforce.
A question I asked myself here is: why do we, as wives and/or moms, feel the need to use a politically correct, gender neutral term which was coined just to make women appear more “worthy” or “valuable?” Aren’t we worthy and valuable just as we are? When I say this publicly, I tend to get a LOT of women riled up. That is not my intent, not at all. It is an honest question to ask yourselves.
I understand what drives us to do it: we feel belittled by the world for our contribution to society. We feel that we don’t get enough credit, recognition, or respect for our willingness to stay home and raise a responsible, respectable, resourceful, and wonderful family. Yet there is the other side of the coin, too, which was pointed out to me.
Have you ever thought what WORKING mothers think? It is an interesting perspective. I read the comments from about 20 working women who are also wives, mothers, and also several single mothers. They state they do the same things YOU do. They are homemakers, housekeepers, “chief cook and bottle washers.” They do laundry, balance check books, handle household expenses (pay the bills), help with homework, nurse illnesses and wounds, run errands, “soccer mom” and more, just like stay at home moms do. SOME homeschool their children with the help of a co-op or other relatives, too! PLUS, they work at a profession, sometimes in the home, sometimes outside the home. What do WE do that is any different from their efforts, they ask.
Another perspective is one my husband brought up to me – men don’t go to work and add job qualifications to their resume or work description when they become dads, buy a new home, and such. We don’t see men stating they are now lawn care specialists for doing yard work, or electrical engineers for replacing outlets, fuses or trouble shooting a blown circuit breaker.
I know my words by now are firing up a lot of ladies but, please, follow me out to the end.
Could we be exaggerating (puffing up) our title when we are claiming that normal everyday life experiences somehow qualify us for a loftier label? Moms and wives work hard – I know! I did. Still do, and it is just the two of us! I don’t even need to go into all the responsibilities we each have. There are countless blog articles out there that can sum all those up for us. But working moms/wives and all dads and husbands work hard, too!
Could one reason we feel under-valued be that we see so many articles talking about how much we should be paid based on all the jobs we do? In my lifetime I have heard income numbers ranging from $56,000 per year annual salary to $150,000 per year! When we hear that dollar amount put to our “position” as homemaker, it often makes us feel as though the world should appreciate wives and mothers more. And this can lead to our desiring a witty or clever title, rather than simply being content and pleased with who we truly are.
Putting a professional sounding label on our job because society, or even we, feel it needs to be painted as less “lowly” than another job gives the impression that we agree it is lowly, or of less value. It implies we believe the worldly portrayal that one group is more esteemed to God or society than another.
Remember, stay calm and keep reading! I am leading you somewhere. I promised we would be looking at this from a biblical perspective. So here we go.
We are IN the world because we are born into it, but we are not to be OF the world, are we?
In John 17:14-18 Jesus prays for the disciples and says, “I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world.”
We have His word to learn from, and we, too, have accepted Him as is described here. Yet still, just as then, the world works to demean us and often hates us because of what we stand for – especially traditional families as described in His Truth. So, we must ask ourselves, because we are not of this world, why do we desire a label which appears elevated in the world’s eyes? Why do we seek worldly esteem more than praise ourselves as the treasure Yahweh created us to be?
We are supposed to believe that Yahweh values us greatly, beyond measure and that he wants us to see ourselves that way, aren’t we? We are told in Luke 12:24b that we are to consider even the ravens, how he cares for them, and then, “how much more are ye better than the fowls?” (KJV) We should always remember we were created in His image. (Genesis 1:27)
I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well. Psalm 139:14 WEB
I ask, if these verses are how we are to see ourselves, then why do we give in to what the WORLD says about us? Why do we apply the same lack of value to our roles as parents, homemakers, aunts, uncles, neighbors, mentors as the world applies? Why have we allowed ourselves to fall into that same trap?
One thing I have realized over the years is this: the world chooses to devalue all of these influencers because often the world cannot see the “forward value” in what we do. They simply see us as “just raising kids,” yet those kids will one day be applying for jobs, going to college, volunteering, training others, and so much more. What we teach them now is immeasurable!
The world sees little value in the family these days, especially a traditional one. Let’s step up and show them the value. Show them WE value our roles as wives, mothers, aunts, mentors, neighbors and such.
I gave up calling myself a domestic engineer some time ago. Because I realized that I was a HOMEMAKER and that was what Yahweh called me to be. Although I am now called to ministry with my husband, I am still a homemaker, only now my home includes an extended family that one day will include spouses for ALL of our children as well as more grandchildren, and prayerfully – one day – even great grandchildren.
Proverbs 22:6 Tells us we are to train up children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it. Your responsibility as a mom, a wife, and a homemaker is GREAT in the sight of God! Even if you have no children of your own, you mentor through your loving example: your nieces, nephews, neighbor’s children, those in your Sunday school class, even children in your community – you are helping to train them to be the next generation of productive people. And for that, I am truly grateful. So should the world be!
One day, a new boss or professor will say, “WOW! That (Insert child’s name here!) is a great person, hard worker. He/she was raised right!” Whatever your job was in raising those new adults, your diligence and dedication will bring new light into the world.
Sisters, I hope that you have made it this far in the article. Because it is my hope that we will stop belittling our roles in life and see ourselves for who we truly are. Be proud of who you have become in raising your family. Be proud of how Yahweh sees you! Be proud to say that raising our next generation of leaders, executives, hard workers of every kind, moms and dads who also believe in their value and the value of others is worth more than words can say!
Don’t ever be ashamed of being a mom, an aunt, a mentor, a good example, a homemaker for the children of this world.
Be proud of your job! I am proud of you!!!!
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Am I A Domestic Engineer
(Note: CAPS added merely for emphasis)
The college where I attend right now is a Reformed theology college. Sometimes I take a little break from the lectures because it can get somewhat . . .sad, I guess you could say. An example of this is how much I am avoiding my Theology 2 course because the messages are so negative. So much of the negative we go through in life, many of my professors believe, Yahweh did it to us on purpose, and don't teach that it is a consequence of our fallen world in which we live or of decisions we might make. One of the big reasons why we don’t follow Reformed theology.
I have to say, because I sometimes may be a little extra aware of this kind of thinking, people say things that often catch my attention more than it might others. In listening to another person’s teachings recently, I was saddened to hear the man say that we don’t deserve Yahweh’s love. He believes that because “we are sinners,” we aren’t worthy of his love. I was pinched at my core with those words. Because, by that belief, then we will NEVER be worthy or deserving of all the love Yahweh showers down upon each and every one of us every single day.
We all make mistakes in life. We are likely to sin – sin is transgression of Yahweh’s teachings – which are based on LOVE. I sinned this week – getting angry at someone I love. But guess what? We worked it out, and through Yeshua’s teachings of grace, we both forgave each other. WHY?? BECAUSE BOTH OF US ARE DESERVING OF EACH OTHER’S LOVE. EACH OF US IS WORTHY OF THAT LOVE. Just as we are each worthy and deserving of Yahweh’s love.
What does it mean to be “worthy?” It simply means to have adequate character or value.
How about the word “deserving?” It means to be qualified for the reward or assistance of another, based on our character and qualities.
Jim pointed out to me – Genesis – we were created IN HIS IMAGE. You might ask what that has to do with this discussion. We are each created magnificently, beautifully, humbly, greatly, with goodness and joy, peace and power – it’s all there, somewhere inside each of us. Yahweh sees that in us.
No one sees our true qualities and character better than Yahweh. No one sees our true heart better than HE does. Only HE knows what is truly hidden deep down inside us. So only He can make that decision accurately of our worthiness or our being deserving of His love.
I wrote another article some time ago about being blessed in spite of myself. Let me share with you, this week was another of those times. In the midst of my personal conflict, in spite of our individual natures, Yahweh blessed me greatly – with a sweet sister in faith who prayed for me the perfect words I needed to hear. She didn’t even know all the details of what was going on, she just opened her heart, prayed for me and The Holy Spirit whispered to her what I needed to hear. How did I deserve that when I had sinned?
I was given a group of ladies who helped me on my page to find a product that I could use. They all jumped in so willingly, kindly, and openly to make suggestions I could study out for myself. So loving, so kind, and wonderfully helpful. THEN, Yahweh blessed me with a coupon in the mail for that kind of product for almost free which helps our budget out greatly!
And finally, without asking, a kind friend sent me a PM with ideas on how to make my new videos better. She also showed her husband, a retired IT guy, one of the videos and HE gave her ideas to pass on to me, too!!!
I had been asking Yahweh, “How am I going to do ALL THIS on my own??? I just don’t know Abba! Please, HELP ME!”
And, in spite of myself, He felt I was worthy of His great blessings and His great and wonderous love. Yahweh felt I had adequate character, value and was qualified for His assistance.
I am not saying we are ENTITLED to His great love, nor am I saying we are ENTITLED to His great blessings. Entitlement implies it is yours no matter what – a guaranteed benefit from Yahweh. And Biblically speaking, it is very clear that entitlement DOES NOT WORK. How many times did His people feel entitled only to lose their blessings? How many times did Yahweh WARN THEM not to become complacent, not to take for granted all the great and wonderous blessings He showers down upon them – out of love. The big examples are easy to see: The flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet there are others.
Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (WEB) Moses tells the people of Israel: It shall happen, if you shall listen diligently to my commandments which I command you this day, to love Yahweh your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, and your new wine, and your oil. I will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and the anger of Yahweh be kindled against you, and he shut up the sky, so that there shall be no rain, and the land shall not yield its fruit; and you perish quickly from off the good land which Yahweh gives you.
In Judges 6, the Midianites, Amalekites, and others constantly came against the Israelites, constantly ruining their crops, livestock, and destroying the land, making it impossible for Israel to thrive. When they cried unto Yahweh, this is what happened: It happened, when the children of Israel cried to Yahweh because of Midian, that Yahweh sent a prophet to the children of Israel: and he said to them, "Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, 'I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said to you, "I am Yahweh your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell." But you have not listened to my voice.'" (WEB Verses 7-10)
We cannot sit back and continue to sin expecting that He will just continue to grant us flowing blessings. Even as His people of old, if we disrespect His grace and love, EXPECTING it without recognizing Him, honoring Him, without praising Him, and without our own desire to change our hearts – we run the risk of experiencing what His people have in the past. Not as lightening bolts of punishment shot down upon us. Simply by the removal of His grace, protection, and provision until we awaken to the fact that WE need to change, to be more like Yeshua.
We should NEVER take for granted or minimize our responsibility to live as though we are worthy of all that He showers upon us. We should always recognize when we make mistakes that we need to repent, take it to Him, set it straight with Him and with whomever else, and we should be willing to work on that issue in our lives. To not repeat our same mistakes.
We have been given benefits by Him already, Psalm 103:1-11 reminds us to not forget those benefits and reminds us how great His love is: (WEB version)
“Praise Yahweh, my soul! All that is within me, praise his holy name!
Praise Yahweh, my soul, and don't forget all his benefits; who forgives all your sins; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your desire with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Yahweh executes righteous acts, and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the children of Israel.
Yahweh is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness.
He will not always accuse; neither will he stay angry forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor repaid us for our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his loving kindness toward those who fear him.”
We can also find encouragement in the words of Yeshua recorded in Luke 12:22-30 (WEB):
He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, don't be anxious for your life, what you will eat, nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they don't sow, they don't reap, they have no warehouse or barn, and God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds! Which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his height? 6If then you aren't able to do even the least things, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if this is how God clothes the grass in the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith? Don't seek what you will eat or what you will drink; neither be anxious. For the nations of the world seek after all of these things, but your Father knows that you need these things.
I pray you now see how YOU qualify for the reward and assistance of Yahweh, simply based on your character and qualities which He sees inside of you.
Blessings and shalom.
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Are You Worthy?
What is Lashon Hara?
The simple answer to this question is that Lashon Hara is a Halakah term for “evil speech” or “evil speaking.” To answer this more in depth, we should first define “halakha,” what makes something “halakha,” and is it different from a Biblical commandment.
I will try to make this as simple as possible, yet halakha truly can get very complicated. An example of this would be in defining the different levels or types of laws (mitzvot) that Jews have and practice. There are explicit (direct), implicit (implied), and deduced (reasoned out) commands. Plus, some are binding commands, and then again, some are not.
Complications also come in the variances of halakha and mitzvot from order to order and ethnicity to ethnicity. Jews are no longer simply one religious order. Just as Christian denominations have multiple divisions, Jews have political, cultural, and religious divisions, then there are subdivisions and micro-divisions within each of those as well.
Determining what halakha means to each group or individual could take quite a bit of time. For the sake of this explanation, we will keep it a bit more generalized.
What does Halakha mean?
According to Encyclopedia Britannica online, halakha “in Judaism, [is all] the laws and ordinances that have evolved since biblical times to regulate religious observances and the daily life and conduct of the Jewish people.”
What can we gather from this definition? Well, a few things.
1) Halakah is a term used in Judaism.
2) To some it is considered to be a complete accumulation of every Biblical commandment, and every ruling which has evolved out of rabbinic midrash since Biblical times. It also includes rules brought about through traditions. To others, it is simply all those laws and ordinances that have come about after Biblical times – coming from the midrash between rabbis as questions arose.
3) It is used to govern Jewish people, their religious ceremonies, rituals and practices. These include all daily activities and conduct of the Jewish people.
Another definition can be found at Jewfaq.org: “Halakha comes from three sources: from the Torah, from laws instituted by the rabbis and from long-standing customs. Halakha from any of these sources can be referred to as a mitzvah…” This definition is a contradiction, though, of scripture itself. The Torah explains we are not to add laws to or take laws away from scripture. Sadly, over time, many of the laws (commandments) instituted by rabbis or customs are now considered Jewish laws (commandments) and have been added to what Yahweh has commanded us to do. This is where the rabbinic division of binding, explicit, implicit, and deduced commandments comes in. It has created a great amount of flexibility in beliefs from one group of people to another.
An example of custom becoming commandment would be lighting Shabbat candles as a mitzvah (commandment), which is even one example JewFAQ brings up in the article on halakha which I reference. They claim lighting Shabbat candles as a mitzvah will increase your spirituality and relationship with Yahweh. Not only is there no commandment existing in scripture a for lighting Shabbat candles, but this a perfect example of a tradition or custom that was made into law by the rabbis. If a group believes candle lighting is binding, it becomes an addition to the Torah.
Much of what is considered now to be halakha comes from the oral traditions. Some oral traditions might be based on biblical traditions, while others can come from debates between rabbis, known as midrash. Many of these oral traditions are recorded in the Talmud. Yet, these types of decisions can also come from modern rabbis as they are confronted with questions based on our modern inventions or conditions.
Do you see how going in depth into this discussion could get time consuming or possibly even overwhelming?
For now you have a basic understanding of what halakha means: it is anything the rabbis have certified and declared as definitely a commandment. But the level of commandment may be flexible.
What makes something halakha?
Torah commandments, almost by complete default, are halakha, or certified by the rabbis as commandments. We accept and agree that Torah commandments are clearly commandments. Yahweh gave those commandments in the Torah, the people accepted them, they have been recorded for us to follow. Yeshua tells us that they are all hung upon the greatest two commandments: to love God and love our neighbor. In other words, to be loving to both Yahweh and our neighbors, we will follow those other commandments as they lead us to maintaining our change of heart.
Now, throughout the centuries, when there have been questions or conflicts in the community, often very specific ones regarding following Torah, those issues would be brought before the Sanhedrin or rabbis and cases would be heard. Those conflicts and questions often are the ones which fall into the “gray areas” surrounding each of Yahweh’s Torah commandments. They may include very specific detailed issues that are not covered by scripture. The leaders discuss and debate after hearing evidence. Then decisions are made. These decisions can be made law for the community, halakha.
According to Aish.com, there are two details that are important here. First, “…it was impossible to include every concluded case in the Oral Torah. It would also be impossible for the Sanhedrin to decide in every potential case. Therefore, God gave each qualified Torah scholar the right to decide questions of Torah law.” 
This means that, even in the Talmud, not every decision is recorded. And, even back then, not every case was heard because there was only so much time to hear cases. This gave special permission from the leadership to allow the local Torah scholars to make new laws at the local level.
Second, “When a community accepts a rabbi as their religious leader, his decisions are binding in all cases. The rabbi of a community may even reverse the decisions of his predecessors.”  These local rabbis are somewhat like our judges when they are appointed. They are given authority to make decisions on behalf of those in their community, and enact laws to help them govern their homes, families, and the community.
Just like our judges sometimes behave, rabbis, too, are often granted higher decision making “powers” based on their popularity. Picture our judges who side with one particular bias. You can pretty much guarantee they will always side in favor of that bias when cases come before them. When placing a judge in a higher court, that bias can become power if the local politicians want laws to lean a certain direction. The same can happen in communities with rabbis.
In fact, aish.com discusses the ways in which laws are passed and says,“...in a question of rabbinical law, the opinion of the greater authority is followed, whether it is stricter or more lenient. The religious leader with the largest following is always considered the greater authority.” (Italics and underline added for emphasis) However, if they enact some form of halakha (new law that needs enforcing), the community then is governed by the popular vote, not necessarily by the depth of right and wrong.
The conclusion then is that halakha is made when rabbis hear cases, discuss precedence, and come to legal decisions for their community. They can make new laws, change old laws, and add to existing laws. They also create laws which help to, in their opinions, fine tune or clarify Yahweh’s law written in the Torah.
Is halakha different from something biblically commanded?
Yes. . . and no. Because Yahweh’s commandments are included in those things which are considered halakha, Biblical and halakha are not necessarily different. Yet, because many new laws are added which are halakha, some halakha can be considered dramatically different from Biblical commandments. So, if we stop at those things which Yahweh commands, halakha would be fine. But because so much is added as commandments, it is something we need to be very cautious of. Lest we become legalistic.
Basically, Yahweh commanded us to do certain things in the Torah. We know that. Those are clear. But because there have been debates over the centuries regarding micro-details and variances, countless new laws have been added. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all the laws which the Jewish people follow.
Next we will explore what Lashon hara is.
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What Does Halakha Mean?
Have you seen them? You know – those posts where someone asks for prayers for a certain situation, then suddenly the entire thread is filled with medical advice, opinions, and treatments the requester needs to try. The entire conversation wanders away from the original appeal - PRAYERS.
We have witnessed this many times.
Over the years, it’s happened repeatedly after we petitioned prayers for people through our ministry page. Requests came in for babies diagnosed with critical illnesses, preemies, elderly, accident victims, cancer patients, emergencies and more. When prompted by Yahweh, sometimes we also post requests for our own family. The requests are always for prayer, not for medical advice.
Many times, though, strong opinions of some remedy that worked for one person or another is pushed, sometimes forcefully, then elevated above what the requester asked for: prayers. The most difficult time to watch this happen is when young parents have been given a critical diagnosis for their infant or toddler, and they are dealing with so many emotions, decisions, and pressures. From a ministry perspective, the last thing they need is to be told to use a remedy recommended on social media. What they need is “virtual hand-holding,” like a virtual hug, all wrapped up in compassion and comfort. They need prayers for Yahweh to fill them with courage, wisdom, and understanding, and they are seeking prayer warriors to stand with them.
Imagine, for a moment, the modern social media attitude applied to Yeshua’s ministry. He is called upon to heal someone, just as we pray to Yahweh now in our prayers. Yet, instead, everyone starts calling out their favorite home remedy, natural solution, or dietary change that will be the perfect healing answer to the ailment afflicting the sufferer. What just happened?
Well, Jesus walked into the room when called upon, reached out his hand to grant the miracle, yet humans invalidated the power of that great blessing. The impact of that moment was stolen in the blink of an eye, or you could say: the sound of a spoken word. Crushed is the chance for Yahweh to work in the lives of all those present, not just the person seeking healing, but every person there would have a witness of His great wonders. Instead, He is pushed aside, and the latest, greatest “perfect healer” is elevated above Him.
There is a time and a place for medical intervention, but when families post prayer requests, they generally already have that part well in place. Medical advice given amid prayer requests appears as the opposite of what was asked for.
Luke 11:10-11 KJV “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”
Families or individuals asking for prayer are like the son asking the father for bread and fish in these verses. Yet, the father, gives a stone and a serpent. Someone will say this does not apply and isn’t even the same. Yet it does, very well. The son needed something that would satisfy his great need: hunger. Yet the father gave him something that was not at all helpful at the time. And in fact, was of either no use (the stone), or might bite him on the hand, causing harm.
People are already surrounded by those who can address the medical needs – doctors, specialists, nurses, and such. You may disagree with their choices, you may believe there are “better ones” that you would choose in the same circumstances. Yet you are NOT in their circumstances. Instead, give them what they asked for, what will satisfy the hunger that they have at that moment. A spiritual hunger, a hunger for the body of Christ to stand with them in their time of need. Anything else merely comes across as a disruption or distraction as families attempt to maintain the spirit of the original post.
I recognize that many times people offer treatment ideas out of concern and sincerity. Put your emotions aside for a moment and recognize theirs. I respect the fact that many people choose natural remedies, treatments, and nutritional paths to heal or maintain their own and their family’s health. We have even used many ourselves over the years and continue to use them. Many have worked to help our bodies heal and to alleviate symptoms, yet we also use prayer. And when we ask for prayer, whether for ourselves, our family members, or those who Yahweh prompts us to ask prayer for, why not offer what is asked for: prayer.
I believe some of the greatest courses I have taken in college are those that help in dealing with people in a medical crisis. Some days I think that as believers, all ought to take classes on being better “listeners,” so that we are better able to handle social media situations such as these. Families are asking for spiritual guidance, direction, support, and encouragement. If we are better “listeners,” or readers in the case of social media, we will better serve both Yahweh and His people.
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Asking for Prayers
Yes, we have covered this before in one or two of our blogs, but it deserves repeating:
Shabbat is easier than many people make it.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn
of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 KJV
Sabbath is a topic that we get a lot of questions about – many of those questions are about what we are or are not “allowed” to do on Shabbat. We get a lot of questions about washing dishes or cleaning up after ourselves during the 24 hours of rest. Many believe it is a sin to wash dishes on Shabbat. Others claim they cannot wash dishes on Shabbat because they are homemakers and washing dishes is a part of their normal daily “job.”
Whatever your reason is, I always try to teach sisters to do this: Put yourself in their shoes. Whose shoes? The shoes of those in the Exodus. Or, I guess in their sandals! Take yourself back in time and think of what life was like way back then: a nomadic family with limited resources, limited supplies, and no cooler or travel grill. What would Miriam do???
During the Exodus, their lifestyle would have been one of living in their shelter out in the desert, cooking meals over open fires, grinding flour by hand – often with something like a mortar and pestle, no refrigeration, no cold cuts, no theroses, and no convenience store along the way. It would have been much more challenging than our lives are today when it comes to food preparation, serving, storage and clean-up.
Ask yourself: Would they have left dishes laying around the campfire or tent until after sundown the next day? Chances are, by morning, there might not be much left to clean up because leaving food scraps around the camp would encourage all kinds of critters to come and wash the dishes for them! They would have likely known that some things just must be done to prevent worse from happening.
So, like I said, put yourself in their sandals and think about cleaning up after yourselves. So many will ask, though: Should you and Could you do any of these things? We aren’t supposed to do work. So isn’t cleaning up after one’s self WORK? You will find, I am not a strong proponent of those who preach the long list of Sabbath restrictions often found in rabbinics, where it is recommended that you run a sink of water and let everything sit until the next evening.
I much prefer the instructions which encourage us to be sensible. Cleaning up after yourself is not work, it is practical and prudent. There is nothing wrong with washing up some of the dishes as you go through the day. Even some strict rabbinic believers will suggest setting aside 1 dish per person. Then, when that person is done eating, they simply wash their dish, rinse and set aside to dry for the next meal. Imagine how nice it would be after sundown if you did not have to clean 6 of everything times 3 meals!! We tend to do this and leave only the difficult dishes such as caked on foods or pots and pans. That is all we leave for later.
Take for example, this lesson we learned some time ago, thanks to two mice who decided to invade our home during the middle of an autumn week. We live in a woodsy area, and although our own yard is quite clear of trees, we do have woods in the back. Mice sneaking into the house in autumn is a common occurrence, unfortunately.
On mid-week that week, I noticed the mouse evidence in the kitchen and, as usual, was completely grossed out!!! Out came the SERIOUS cleaning supplies as I washed and sterilized every counter-top and rewashed all the dishes, pots, and flatware!
Not knowing if we had caught all the mice by Shabbat, it was clear that we were going to have to take extra measures this week for clean-up. I made sure that all the dishes were washed throughout prep-day, dried then put away. Normally a few may linger after preparation is finished, but not this week! I was serious about this: After I made our ice cream, I even stuck the ice cream tub into the refrigerator over-night on Thursday to allow it to completely thaw before washing it Friday and putting it back in the freezer. Normally I would leave it on the counter or in the sink to thaw – not this week!
Here’s the thing about mice: they have been around since the dawn of time. They are annoying and can carry illness and disease. They are NOT allowed in our home, especially the kitchen!
We tried to make as few dishes as possible for Shabbat dinner Friday evening, and as few pans as well. Then we washed them, and stuck them in the oven, microwave, cupboards, wherever they fit to ensure no one would be leaving trails that would need to be rewashed in the morning.
Now, we could either leave our dishes over-night and all day on Saturday in the sink allowing mice, if there were any left in the house, to get all over them, pooping and peeing as they go. Or we could be sensible, quickly wash, dry and put away the dishes we had used. We chose to clean-up as we went along, ensuring there would be no further contamination of the kitchen should any mice be left.
There are two other examples I can give. One that happened a few months ago, and one that just happened this past Shabbat.
Countless times I have heard people say, even if you spill or break something, you must just push it off to the side and not clean up anything until after Shabbat. Everything involved with cleaning up would be working on Sabbath.
I am not sure what I did that Saturday a few months back. I don’t honestly know how it happened, but it happened. One of my tempered glass bowls that I loved using for cooking and preparing foods was used as a serving bowl for something dry and was sitting on the island in the kitchen. Ever have one of those days when you just seem to be butter fingers? Yup! That was me. I picked up the bowl, and it just seemed to throw itself up in the air, bouncing from hand to hand until it slipped through my grip and went crashing to the floor in a million tiny shards. That glass flew into places I didn’t even know existed until they sparkled in the setting sun!
Now, according to some rabbis, we must just push it aside and keep on Shabbatin’!
No. Not this mess. There were micro-shards everywhere. On the floor, of course, but also on the stove, counters, island and believe it or not, I discovered a shard on top of the refrigerator the other day! It HAD to be cleaned up or someone could have been hurt.
We swept with a broom, mopped with a wet disposable mop, then vacuumed, just in case. There was no way that disaster could have been ignored.
This past weekend, picture this: Friday evening. Sun has set, Shabbat has been opened with prayers. Dinner is served, and we are going to eat on TV trays while watching a movie. As we go to settle in, I hear water running in the one bathroom and something does NOT sound right. I set my food down and wander in to discover the floor is flooded. The toilet sprung a leak.
I have read before, in a case like this, many suggest it is wrong to mop up the mess on Shabbat. Just toss towels into the water and leave it until morning. But we were concerned water may have leaked under the cabinets and into the wall between the bath and the office.
Here are the big questions:
Should we just toss towels in it, or wipe up all the water?
Should we fix the toilette leak? Or just turn it off and wait until the next evening?
In this case, I would mop up the water, tossing the towels into a basket or the tub and wait until we could put them in the washer. I am not going to wash the load until the next evening. There is no harm in leaving wet towels for a day. We did this and also turned on a fan to dry out the bathroom cabinets and wall, just in case.
As far as the toilet, I would weigh the options. Is it the only bathroom? If so, then it gets fixed as best as possible. Ideas for this could be to shut off the water to the toilet and, using a bucket, get water from the tub, pour it into the toilet after using it and allow that to flush the toilet.
If the leak is bad enough, it might require new parts which would need to be purchased immediately. We would do this with as little fuss as possible, making as few people work as possible. In this case, it could be considered an ox in the mire situation. If it continues to leak, it could make the entire bathroom need to be renovated. THIS is going to be a personal decision for each individual family to make. It is not up to us to find fault if they have the urgent need to accomplish this task. It is between them and Yahweh. Remember, too, that Shabbat is a day of rest. Having to deal with complaining children or family due to uncomfortable situations is NOT going to bring Shalom into the home, nor is it restful.
In our case, it is not the only bathroom we have. Additionally, the leak was from the valve inside the tank squirting up, hitting the lid and spewing out all over the floor. We could leave the lid off, and turn water on and off inside the tank if we needed the second bathroom for some reason. In the meantime, we could just use the other bathroom and work on it the next evening.
Urgencies and emergencies happen, and each family will need to weigh them for themselves. What their needs are, what they can successfully do without, and what will allow them to clear up the issue while not disturbing the desired shalom of Shabbat. Also, cleaning up after ourselves is not a bad thing to teach ourselves, our children and grandchildren.
I like to use this example when I explain cleaning up after one's self. Imagine Saturday morning, and I went to the library where I got out four books to read and study. I go through three of them and decide they won't work toward the idea I want to execute. So I leave them laying around, go back to the library and grab three more. Now I have seven books laying around. Yet if I had just grabbed those three I am not using, stuck them back on the shelf before grabbing the next ones, I would still only have half the mess. Makes sense, doesn't it? Children can learn this principle, too. If they are going back to their room for more books or toys, take the ones with them that they already have out. Simple. And it doesn't make it work, it just makes it sensible.
The Sabbath is to be a day of rest, yes, but it is not meant to be a day of mess making and laziness.
Blessings - Judith
"And these are they which are unclean unto you among the swarming things that swarm upon the earth: the weasel, and the mouse, and the great lizard after its kinds,..." Leviticus 11:29 JPS Tanakh
Bible references for touching unclean things, such as mice, their feces, and things they may have contaminated.
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Lessons From A Mouse In The House
As a new decade begins this coming week, I realized 2019 was the fifth anniversary of Torah For Women Ministries. In that time, we have evolved in ways that I never expected. From having been blessed in those years and led to move on a ridge in the Appalachians to recognizing what we are NOT identified as in the denominational quandary surrounding believers these last couple of years. We are a caterpillar emerging as a butterfly.
In recent weeks, we received several private messages asking, “What are you?!” While in posts and comments we have been labelled as being one belief system or another, all the while not knowing how to fully explain our faith base. People like words or terms they are familiar with. Yet there isn't one that sums us up completely. We KNOW who and what we are, we KNOW what we believe and how we act out our faith. Yet to explain it to Christians and other Torah observant families is sometimes difficult.
I realized this past week that we need to clarify. The major reason why it has been so challenging for me, personally, to explain is because of what everyone worries about these days: The NUMBERS.
Truth be told: my concern has been that the followers of Torah For Women Ministries will fall away, and we will lose the base of women whom Yahweh has blessed us to reach. This concern does not come from a desire within me to have large numbers as a tally or a score card. No, it comes from concern that, if we lose those followers, the number of sisters which we are blessed to touch will decrease and then, the number of families we can touch in this tumultuous time of immorality will shrink. The result could be that fewer families are led to His Truth.
Yahweh called me to teach those women and families of whom Paul spoke to Timothy. I have shared these verses countless times before. Yet the last few weeks, while struggling with a few personal things regarding people close to me, I have realized it is time to stand up and stand firm against this fallen world. If the numbers drop because of what I am about to say, then Yahweh will find other ways to testify to those sisters and families. I will have to accept, for now, it is not my calling to reach those who choose to leave, and that Abba will put someone else in their path to touch their hearts.
So here we go:
When did TFW come into existence?
In the late spring of 2014, Jim came to me and said he felt led that we should go into ministry together, and a few days later Shofar Productions Ministry was born. I kept praying to Yahweh to reveal to me what my role was to be in this journey; what responsibility was I to play in this new endeavor?
A couple of months later, I felt very strongly impressed that we needed a women’s ministry aspect and that I was to led this division within Shofar Productions Ministry. I mentioned this to Jim, and he said he had been waiting for me to come to him about this! He spent the next couple of months working on websites for both ministries. After completing Shofar’s, he focused on Torah For Women’s website and a day or two before my birthday at the end of October, 2014, the website was launched. TorahforWomen.com was officially “born.”
What is the main mission of Torah For Women Ministries?
Although the focal point Yahweh initially put upon my heart was 2 Timothy 3:6-7, and the need to help sisters of faith recognize when someone with false teachings of any kind is creeping into their homes, over time, verses 1-5 have clarified this goal. Therefore verses 1-7 have become extremely important to our women’s ministry as the moral and political path of our world has gone topsy-turvey, and as women of faith have begun to compromise even the most basic of commandments of Yahweh.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 KJV says “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
THIS is the vision Yahweh laid upon my heart 5 years ago, and it is coming to pass in our followers, my friends and even our families. As television, movies, and even social media invades our lives, compromising is running rampant. More and more people find themselves in positions to compromise their moral standards and say “What else can we do? We can't fight against what is happening!” But we CAN.
We can stand up. WE MUST STAND UP.
Lately, I witnessed a large number of sisters RISE UP against immoralities and cancel television services, movie services, internet programs, social media apps, and even more to protect their homes and families. I PRAISE YOU SISTERS!!! Thank you for being great examples of morality to your friends and families!!! KEEP IT UP!!! Those who are willing to stand their ground are the ones who are standing against what Paul warned would come in the last days. You are doing the very best to protect children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from the evils of this world! I am hugging you all!!! Warriors for Yahweh.
What “denomination” do you consider yourselves to be?
THIS is so complicated to answer. But there is one thing we know we ARE NOT:
We ARE NOT a Hebrew Roots ministry. There – I said it. Recently we have been accused of being Hebrew Roots, yet we do not call or considered ourselves Hebrew Roots. Why? Because that movement has been for some time, filled with anger, venom, and seriously false doctrines. It has gone down pathways we do not desire to be associated with in any way as those teachings and beliefs are NOT of Yahweh! We backed away from this pathway long before many others did because Yahweh led us away when we witnessed more and more strange doctrines creeping in and leading people astray.
In 2015, I did everything I could to scrub our women’s ministry of any and all ties to the Hebrew Roots Movement. If by chance you stumble across anything that leans on that movement, I would gratefully appreciate it brought to my attention, and I will review it as soon as possible.
What then do we consider ourselves to be? Well, we ARE Messianic, yet we don’t often use this term because it causes many to believe we follow all of the rabbinic traditions tied to Messianic Judaism. We believe the Bible reminds us of Yeshua’s words that the burden is easy, and the yoke is light. (Matthew 11:30) Many of the cultural traditions taught in a rabbinic path make applying His Truth very burdensome. So we stay away from those rituals that are not biblical.
We ARE Word of Faith, yet we DO NOT abide by the “send me your seed money so I can buy an airplane” doctrines many in that movement preach to their followers. Some teachers in this faith base have also gone the path of radical grace – where anything goes, the law is dead, and you will be forgiven. We believe that once we accept Yeshua as our savior, we are led to follow His path in life, and wish to live as an example of Him. Therefore, we are led to follow his teachings of: Love God, Love your neighbor, and Upon these two hang ALL the laws and teachings of the prophets of Yahweh. (Matthew 22:40) We believe Yahweh's promises in the Bible, His WORD, and with Faith we pray on those Words and believe that they apply in our daily lives. In upcoming blogs, I will be sharing some amazing examples of this from our own lives - living witnesses and testimonies of His Word.
We ARE Pentecostal, and believe in the indwelling of His Holy SPirit. Yet we have seen things claimed in recent years to be “moves of the Spirit” which Yahweh has testified to us are of the adversary. In fact, in one meeting we attended, I had a personal witness from the Holy Spirit that one woman seated near us was so filled with the adversary, I could not even be within 10-15 feet of her without being overwhelmed by the evil feelings oozing from within her. It took some time for that evil to disturb the pastor 30 or so feet away, yet he, too, witnessed what was in her and had her removed. Many then prayed with and for her against what was overtaking her. We do not believe all that takes place in His Name right now is of Him, yet we do believe in the Gifts of the Spirit; and they do exhibit themselves in the Body of the church.
We ARE Torah Observant – and many wonder what exactly this means. We follow the Feast Days written and commanded in the Bible, while NOT following those standard “Christian Holidays” many do in the name of Christ. We will go into that more specifically in a series of upcoming blogs.
What we DO follow:
Spring Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Shavuot
Fall Feasts: Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot
The Monthly Feasts of Rosh Chodesh which take place at the beginning of every Hebrew month (New Moon)
We celebrate Purim because of the preservation of the Jews through the story of Esther, and Hanukkah because of the restoration and rededication of the Temple. Had these not taken place, our Saviour, Yeshua, would not have come forth through the lineage of David. Yahweh ensured that would happen by having warriors rise up against the evil being exercised upon His people.
We eat a Biblical diet which means we do not eat unclean meats as explained by the Bible. (Leviticus 11) This means we avoid pork of any kind (YES! That means we don’t even eat pig bacon! LOL); we also do not eat rabbit, snake, alligator, shellfish, or any fish without fins and scales. Eating Biblically, to us, includes avoiding ingredients derived from these unclean meats as well. Oh, might I add here, we also avoid consuming anything that contains HUMAN ingredients – and YES, there are foods as well as supplements and medications which contain human ingredients.
So, in summary, we may sound complicated to define by a mere term or title. Jim and I have tried to put “a name” to what we are, and sometimes we joke that we are a “mouthful” – I came up with this:
“Pentecostal-Word-of-Faith-Torah-Observant-Believers-in-Yeshua!!!” Can you remember all that? It’s a lot.
Yet it describes pretty well who we are and what we believe. So, that is us, in a nutshell – a rather BIG nutshell, but a nutshell.
Where we are going this next year is to continue on the journey Yahweh started us on: we will continue teaching believers how to go back to the strong teachings of the bible. We are going to help you understand how to tie both the Old and New Testaments together in our modern times so that you will be able to stand up in love against all that you will be coming against. It is our prayer that you will stand with us and be blessed by the journey we are going on together. May the NEXT five years be overwhelmingly blessed
for us all!!!
We love you, Shalom.
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Re-introducing Torah For Women for 2020
In advance of tomorrow and next week's celebrations, I wanted to say:
A blessed Rosh Chodesh Tevet and a Happy New Year to all.
What perfect timing this year for our calendar to play out – as we get a new beginning in two ways. A new month promises great blessings each and every time one comes around. It is a time to close out the things from the previous month and lay claim to the new things Yahweh has in store for us for the year 2020.
This is also the time of year when many who celebrate a new start of their calendar will choose to rededicate their lives to greater accomplishments. Whether in business, personal life, health and fitness, or somewhere else, many choose this time of year for rededication – which is perfect for those of us who follow Yahweh’s calendar to share with those around us about Hanukkah.
We are just past the midway point of the holiday time as we will be lighting the fifth candle tonight in our hanukkaiah. What is Hanukkah all about? It is a time when warriors, The Maccabees, fought against all the evil forces who tried to come against Yahweh’s people. A small group stood against those evil force, and reclaimed the Temple of Yahweh that had been defiled and desecrated. Upon reclaiming, they relit the candles on the menorah, rebuilt, then rededicated the altar. They also rededicated their lives to following His principles and teachings, just as many will do at this time of year for themselves.
May you be blessed in your endeavors and promises to yourself and to Yahweh!
As a handy helper for those who will be working toward following the Feast Days in 2020, we have put together the list of Holy days we will be celebrating so that you can mark your calendars. We are attaching it below in a handy printable format so that you can print it out for your family.
If you prefer to print each month individually, we use the following resource to design the calendar to fit our needs:
Also, for an explanation as to why we prefer to follow the Hillel calendar, please see our book on the topic at:
A quick note here: Often the Hillel II calendar has extra days for certain Holy Days – they will list the celebrating of two days. For example, rather than one for the time of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), they list two days. Should this appear, we follow the Biblical teaching of the Hebrew date upon which it is supposed to fall, not the calendar dates. If we see this approaching, we will do our best to give you a heads up and quick explanation.
In 2020, it is our hope and prayer that many great and wonderful changes will be taking place in all our lives, just as it is our hope and prayer each and every day for the same.
May you be blessed.
NOTE: When the PDF opens, the blue links can be direct accessed to HebCal with more information regarding those calendar dates. The PDF can also be easily printed for your home display.
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Calendaring for 2020
When we look at what scriptures say about sexual immorality, we will see that the term often used in Greek is “porneia.” This Greek word is the origin of English words such as pornography or pornographic, which are very unmistakably defined in English speaking countries as sexually explicit acts and materials. Additionally, when exploring possible translations for “porneia” into English, we see terms like whoredom, fornication, and idolatry used. Words that fit right into the standard impression of pornography. All this added together creates a picture of what many would describe as compromising one’s sexual purity.
Many in modern society seem to feel morality is a very grey area, others feel it involves only premarital sexual relations, yet those who desire to stand with traditional morals see this as surrendering sexual purity at any level, including after marriage. One might ask here, after marriage couples have clearly had sexual relations, so what can then be surrendered?
Sexual impurity within marriage can happen when people stray from Biblical truth, and would involve selling off or sacrificing that which is supposed to remain sacred to the marital bed. Someone who goes outside of marriage to satisfy sexual desires of any kind is selling-off the intimate relationship which belongs solely between a husband and wife. The intimacy as Yahweh designed it to be – one man, one woman, one flesh. Sexual immorality would, therefore, be defined as any type of sexual expression outside of a Biblically defined marital relationship, which The Savior speaks of:
“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Matthew 19:4-5 KJV
What does scripture say about the consequences of sexual immorality? First, we need to look at
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Those who stray from Yahweh’s teachings on morality will not inherit the kingdom He has planned for the righteous. If our hope lies in being with Yahweh for eternity, then we ought to follow his counsel.
Now, some teachers teach that sexual immorality is a form of idolatry. In fact, we are one of those ministries who believe this can be shown in scriptures. “How is sexual immorality tied to idolatry,” you ask.
The scripture quoted above is from Paul, who issued this counsel during a time where pagan religions were still strong, and idol worship was very much a part of many people’s lives. History shows these pagan religions weren’t just continuing to attend temple worship for social aspects. These temples still very much included the worship of specific idols. A large part of that worship involved sexual immorality, temple prostitutes, as well as immoral acts committed in the names of their false gods.
Our bodies, as believers, are the temple of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of this, too:
“…don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own…” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 WEB
As the Temple for the Holy Spirit to indwell, we should not be using that temple to mimic acts of pagan religions. This would be sin. You can see how Yahweh feels about these acts: they are detestable and have eternal consequences. Continuing in this lifestyle would be dedicating your Temple to an idolatrous life and profaning Yahweh’s Holy Temple.
Jesus says to people in the Bible to go on their way, and sin no more. (John 8:11, John 5:14) At the Pool of Bethesda he adds a clause, “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14 KJV)
This is just one example of warning that is written for us in scriptures. Sexual immorality counsel in scripture is often accompanied by warnings which we should heed, just as the man at the Pool was told. (Rom 1:24, Gal 5:19-23, Eph 4:18-19).
There is irrefutable proof that sexual immorality renders one unfit to be in the presence of Yahweh. If what we seek is to be worthy of being in His presence always, we need to remove sexual sin and impurity from our lives, move away from any temptations, repent, and return to God’s design for intimacy.
Additional Scripture References:
“God gave them up [also] in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, to dishonour their bodies between themselves:” Romans 1:24 Darby Bible Translation
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:19-23 WEB
“…being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Eph 4:18-19
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December 2003 was a tough one. I remember when dad had called sometime around Thanksgiving that year. He was almost begging me to go to my sister’s in Ohio for Christmas that year. He kept insisting it was going to be his last. I don’t remember if I had ever given him an answer because I kept thinking that if I said no, maybe he would have more faith in Yahweh’s healing power and miracles. I always believed he would be healed of the disease that attacked him.
Then things changed. To be honest, I don’t even recall what day I received the phone call. I just know it was before December 24th. I know that he and mom were out picking up things for their trip from New York to Ohio, including, I believe, a Christmas tree.
Christmas was always a BIG DEAL to dad. From Yule logs in the fireplace (even when we lived in Tucson!) to presents and stockings, Dad was “all in” for Christmas. The tree was always very important to him, too. Our family did Christmas BIG.
Even when my kids were little, we did everything every other family did, and more! I learned as a young mom how to bake gingerbread and make gingerbread houses. I LOVED constructing and decorating them with all sorts of hand-made decorations, as well as all sorts of foil-wrapped candies. One of my favorite candies to use was always those spearmint leaves. They made adorable bushes around the houses, all topped with little plops of frosting snow. One year the kids and I made about 28 gingerbread houses all decorated to the hilt – we gave them out as gifts to youth leaders, teachers, music instructors, and close friends. It was such fun to give a hand-made gift from our hearts. The kids treasured that time we spent creating those gifts.
So, there we were in 2003, receiving the call none of us expected, and the kind of call everyone dreads. Especially around the holidays. Dad was in the hospital – in ICU. He had been battling against Hep-C for some time, as well as the attacks against his organs from that disease and the drugs to fight it. He had been fighting hard and fast. Yet, there he was, suddenly critically ill. My heart sank. But I packed, fully convinced this was just a quick trip, and that he would be JUST FINE. A short 24 hours later, we all knew better.
There we were, gathering as a family, getting ready to say goodbye. Those last hours were so hard, horribly painful, and yet so beautiful all rolled into one. A lot of the details escape me now, many just in a fog – probably my own way of not letting it stir in me the same hurt I felt back then. Yet there are other details that remain emblazoned upon my mind as if written in indelible ink forever. Things like walking into the hospital room and seeing my adorable just-turned-9 son, hands folded, kneeling in prayer by the bed-side of his precious grandfather while also singing Silent Night. The grampa who understood that little boy’s love for science and nature better than anyone on the planet; the grandpa who used to send him those colourful instructions for science experiments from the Sunday Funny papers.
How I rubbed my father’s arm, talking with him and praying for him, while with every single breath, he quietly called my mom’s name. Literally with every single breath, as if he had something of great importance to tell her. “Carol. . . Carol. . .Carol. . .” The worry I felt in my heart as I anxiously awaited the arrival of my two eldest who were driving to get there in the midst of the snowstorm that had crept in off Lake Erie.
I remember even praying for that snowstorm to hit the following day so that the kids could enjoy the sleds and hills near the cottage. I sat there talking with dad and saying how I KNEW he felt it was time to go home, I begged him to wait for the girls to get there to say goodbye, and I remember asking him, “Dad, it’s Christmas. If you could, give the kids one more gift before you leave us. Make it snow. . .” I KNOW my dad didn’t have the “power” to make it snow – I knew that was all up to God. Yet it was the simple thoughts and distractions I used to fill the final hours with my daddy.
Then, he breathed his last breath. I don’t recall what time it was. I just know it was December 24th, Christmas Eve, 2003. And the man the kids had always thought was their Santa Claus, had gone home to be with God. We awoke the next day, Christmas morning, deeply saddened and heartbroken, yet filled with such peace and joy at the same time. We needed to celebrate with the children who were excited about opening gifts, yet crying because Grampa wasn’t there. We needed to keep going because that is what he had wanted. In our hearts, we all knew that Christmas was the perfect time for him to go home – his favorite holiday. Yet we also wondered what the coming years would bring as the season approached each and every year. How would our hearts handle it?
The kids opened presents, and Justin got the sled he had been wanting. So, we bundled up and went next door to where mom and dad lived. There were BIG hills to sled down. We stayed out for what seemed like forever, having such a fun time! The rest of the day, we drank hot cocoa and reminisced about all the fun times he had with dad.
We all, even mom, went from laughing to crying to laughing again. We all knew that the next day, December 26th, we would be planning the funeral or memorial service. And we did just that. People came from all over to say their goodbyes. The funeral home was overflowing with people! So many that they couldn’t all fit for the memorial service. Many had to simply pay their respects and leave. The final words were spoken, then the veterans paid their tribute with Taps and the gun salute. And we all gathered Dad’s things and went to the dinner provided by the Tea Ladies in town. Then back to mom’s house.
The time flew by, we said our goodbyes, everyone went home. I stayed behind with mom for a bit extra. She had asked me to stay, and I was so glad I did. We got that chance we needed to create a new bond together, become adult friends, which we had not had time to do as yet. It was precious. When I finally went home, it was back to business and busy-ness of homeschooling, day trips, and living life.
There you have it – my Christmas story. You know, many people believe that Dad’s passing on Christmas Eve and the events around it are my reasons for why it was so “easy” to “give up” Christmas. I have even heard some in my own family make that claim out loud – that because dad died on Christmas Eve, I could just tuck it away and ignore the sadness that might creep in each holiday season. Yet that is not true at all. It wasn’t until about ten years later that I started to discover how I wanted to celebrate the biblical feasts instead of the typical holidays.
There were ten years of holidays where I dealt with my personal grief and mourning around the December holiday times. And to be completely honest, it was the memories of that Christmas Eve, the fun times as children, and the joys of raising my kids with the holiday traditions that make it HARDER, not easier to “Quit Christmas.” Yes, I said it – those memories tug at my heart-strings every year, even to this very day.
A friend recently said to me that these are the things that make it so difficult this time of year – that tempt us to return to Egypt. And that is so very true! Missing the traditions we created, that have become a part of our very being. The photographs of the children in their “jammies” Christmas morning, of Dad, dressed in his red Santa hat handing out gifts from under the tree. Precious memories, all of them, and yet also, TEMPTATIONS.
Having mushy feelings, missing those traditions and still aching for time with my dad, the memories of watching little Justin sing Silent Night and beg Abba not to take his Grampa. Those are not going to turn me away from what Abba wants for me – and that is to follow Him. When it all comes down to brass tacks: I want always to know that I am working toward being the best ME that Yahweh can mold me into. And if that means I have to sacrifice the typical holiday season for that which He has taught me is true and right, then so be it.
I don’t often bear my heart full-open, I don’t often put it out there on my sleeve for the world to see. Not because I don’t like to share, but simply because, when it comes down to fulfilling the calling that Yahweh has placed upon me, the teachings, messages, and blogs I share are not based on my emotions. They may come from my experiences in life but are based on biblical teachings and principles – messages that Yahweh would have me teach to those who are seeking.
I know deeply how it is not easy to give up something that is such a part of your past, your memories, your life. Yet who are we? Yeshua asked the rich young man to give up much; he asked Peter to give up a lot and follow him. He told several who were healed, to go and sin no more (John 8:11; John 5:14), fully giving up their former life and desires. Each of these was asked to give up something that meant “the world” to them. What are we each willing to give up for Him?
As he was going out into the way, one ran to him, knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder,' 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not give false testimony,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have observed all these things from my youth." Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross." But his face fell at that saying, and he went away sorrowful, for he was one who had great possessions. Mark 10:17-22
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22
I quit Christmas not to avoid the memories of my father dying – I quit Christmas for Yahweh. Because I still have those joy-filled precious memories of great times shared with family and friends, they are there and always will be a part of me.
It wasn't easy when Jim started to discover details about our traditional holidays - things which made us question if they were right to continue. The more he researched and shared with me, the more we felt led away from those events which had initially meant a lot to us.
In the end, we quit Christmas because there are countless reasons as to why it is not a biblical celebration, AND it is a time of year where a number of Yahweh’s commandments are broken by participating in the celebration. Over the next few weeks, I plan to expound upon these in a series of articles, but for now my prayer is that you will search your own heart regarding this holiday season. And discover for yourself: is this what Yahweh would have you do?
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I want to take a few minutes to talk with those who are struggling over what to do about the upcoming holiday season. Many people have been led to observe the Biblical feast days. Some of these believers may be in a marriage where their spouse does not agree. This can lead to conflict because of the pressure to follow holiday traditions which one spouse believes are no longer appropriate while the other believes these are not only appropriate but also testify of Yeshua. These traditions may include others such as family, friends, or the couple’s former church group, too.
When the topic of attending comes up, a Torah observant person may feel pushed to participate in things like: making handmade Christmas cards; decorating houses or churches; gifts or cookies made for prisoners, soldiers, the local shelter, retirement home, or hospital; cookie exchanges; caroling; dinners, parties, and gatherings; gift exchanges. All these are things a Torah observant person may find objectionable.
What can couples do?
Here are some ideas:
1) How about having a one-for-one exchange?
For every event the non-Christmas observing spouse agrees to go to, the Christmas-observing spouse would need to do something for them in exchange. The non-Christmas activity should NOT be something in the distant future, such as “I will go to that dinner party, if you agree to celebrate Passover with me.” Spring feasts are too distant and may lead to future conflict if the non-Torah spouse becomes unwilling to fulfill their end of the bargain. OR, if for some reason their job or other circumstance prevents them from being able to fulfill their side of the deal.
Instead, an exchange of item-for-item at this time of year: For example, If you go to the church cookie party, you could bring Hanukkah cookies to the event. If it is a cookie decorating party, bring snowflake cookies or Hanukkah cookies to decorate. You could discuss with the other decorators how Yeshua was in the Temple court on Chanukah DECLARING himself THE Living Water from which ALL who are thirsty come and drink. This could even lead in to how ALL biblical Feast Days pertain to Him.
What about starting a new tradition with those same friends? If you go to the event, how about creating a “Snowman Supper” after January first? Waiting until after the first, you are out of the typical holiday season, removing a lot of the pressure for gift giving, and the Christmas table-talk. You could serve homemade breads, soups, and other warm, wintery foods. Plus decorate the table with snowmen and snowballs, serve snowflake-shaped Pizelles for dessert sprinkled with “snow” (powdered sugar!), or an adorable snowman cake.
Do you find yourself agreeing to go to the fancy company dinner? In exchange your spouse could sit one evening with you to make Hanukkah cards at home which you deliver to a local Jewish home? Or hospital for Jewish patients? If you plan ahead to make plenty of Hanukkah cards, you could send some of these to the event where church members make Christmas cards for the prisoners & soldiers – not everyone in prison or the military is Christian. You also might enjoy sitting with the group making cards, and make Hanukkah cards right there along with them! It would open doors to discussing the history of Hanukkah – the story of the restoration and rededication of the Temple.
If the church or group balk at the idea of accepting your hand-made Hanukkah cards, saying they only want Christmas cards because they are trying to teach about Yeshua, I have a helpful hint for that, too. Your reply could easily and kindly be, “I thought maybe this would help you get the foot in the door. What a blessed way to impress upon the Torah observant people that you respect how much they love the Old Testament. Then we can go back and teach them about Christ as time goes on! I LOVE to share new ways to get Christ’s foot in the door!” What can they say to that! You are helping in the evangelistic effort that may end up helping spread His Word!
2) I would suggest that if you decide to go to any party at all, an adult dinner party is the best option to choose for your attendance. Why? Because it is ADULTS. The likelihood of there being things such as Santa are slimmer than if children are attending.
Also, you can steer the conversation toward common topics: business, the world (although politics ought to be avoided because you are trying to avoid conflict!), books you have read, movies, or your latest accomplishments. There are so many subjects which can be shared that steer away from the holiday – so much flexibility!
3) As the month goes on, continue to choose from your spouse’s Christmas list of events those LEAST tense or stressful (AKA offensive) to you and your beliefs.
While attending, maybe openly and kindly discuss Hanukkah and the other feasts you have celebrated, using ideas we mention above. Remember to only do this IF you can without causing conflict. The people your spouse works with or knows in church may not understand exactly why you are so "different." Please, steer away from any condemnation of Christmas at this time. From experience, I can attest to the fact that this never ends well!!! People are very attached to holiday traditions at this time and this is NOT the best time to address someone with how everything they are doing is “wrong” or “sin.”
4) I understand how difficult it is to push aside SOME of the traditions this time of year because they are so obvious. Like going to that dinner party – you may find you have to sit and stare at all the decor around you. The restaurant or venue will be decked to the hilt with all the trappings of the season. Trees, lights, mistletoe, ornaments, greenery, and more – this can be very difficult to ignore. Yet, let’s look at it this way: if you are traveling, get delayed on the road and need to eat food – won’t you need to stop SOMEWHERE to eat? Yes. For that, won’t you need to ignore all those things that surround you and accomplish the task? Look at the dinner party as a similar thing.
I believe the most difficult part may be the constant Christmas music – it will be playing all night & will NOT be all Christmas hymns. You will be hearing about sleigh bells ringing, Santa Claus, Snowmen, snowfall, chestnuts, and such. These songs are a big difficulty for me, especially while eating. So many preach “Jesus is the reason for the season!” While at the same time singing about grandma getting run over by a reindeer!
How can you tune this out? If you have ever had a young child take lessons to play an instrument, you are probably already very good at TUNING IT OUT! Think of that Christmas music from the perspective of your young child’s practice time that very first day!
Tuning it out will help you relax a bit so that you don’t end up having the music make a knot in your tummy resulting in not enjoying dinner at all.
For number 5, I want you to consider doing this:
5) Ask yourself: What was the defining thing for you “quitting Christmas?” Does your spouse TRULY understand that part of your heart? I ask this because I have learned that I don't always say things the best way for Jim to hear them. I think I have expressed it well, yet we have a glitch. I may need to rephrase things. You may believe you explained it so that they understand, but this may be a time to ask them why THEY think you gave it up. They may think that you simply “hate” all the “nonsense” that goes along with it: Santa, materialism, and lack of focus on the Saviour.
Give them a chance to explain their understanding of your feelings, and then gently discuss any reasons that weren’t clear for your not celebrating.
It may take time to work out a plan together, and a lot of patience on both parts. You also may not be comfortable with temporarily finding a middle ground, but for now, it may be the best option for your family and your marriage. Please remember to do all of this in prayer as well as prayers together. Ask Yahweh’s wisdom and discernment, as well as His blessing upon all your efforts.
The key for us as believers is: PLEASE do not allow a strong belief and desire to follow Yahweh bring up in your heart a venomous bite that causes lashing out or angrily expressing your new beliefs. Instead try, with all gentleness of heart, to explain you are trying to avoid what the Bible describes as sin. Yeshua did not want us to sin – how many times in scripture did he heal people and then command, “Now go and sin no more!” Try to explain this to your spouse with all the love of Yeshua overflowing from your heart.
I will say, of all the battles we fight against Egypt, I think CHRISTMAS is one of the toughest - it pulls on SO MANY of our hearts and our memories, especially childhood memories. . . A dear friend recently said to me, “That is EXACTLY the reason that everything about this holiday bothers me so deeply…It is a HUGE PULL ON MY SOUL to return to Egypt.” JUST LIKE Egypt pulled on the hearts of the Hebrews in the Exodus.
My prayer is that you can try standing your ground, yet also try to enjoy your spouse’s love and company. May you be able to impress upon them the depth of your commitment to both Yahweh and your marriage.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Christmas Conflict and Bringing Peace to the Home
In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:6-7 WEB
This summer, I pushed myself too hard one day in the garden. I am used to gardening for hours on end, but I didn’t realize just how hot and humid it was outside. I tried to push through what I was feeling, but that was a bad idea. I ended up giving myself heat exhaustion. After I healed from that stress, I found the rest of the summer I was much more susceptible to over-heating while gardening.
A few weeks later, I recognized that I was truly stressed over the fact that I was not doing as much gardening as I had on my to-do list. I was angry at myself, I was frustrated, and the result was me making myself very anxious trying to get everything accomplished in one day. Between ministry, college, and household tasks, the garden was just stirring up in me a lot of things I did not want in me, but also did not want to admit.
I recall how, when I was doing one task, I was fussing and fretting in the background of my mind about the things that were not getting done. The more I fussed and fretted, the more I made myself anxious. The more anxious I got, the more I made myself angry, and then the more I fussed and fretted. I put myself into an interesting conundrum. I was so worked up inside, that I honestly didn’t know how to make it stop.
One day following my daily personal prayer time, I got this idea. I know the idea didn’t come from myself; it was clearly of Yahweh. The Holy Spirit whispered in me to micromanage my life. Now to most people that would NOT make sense and would not be a positive thing to do. Yet I knew it was right for me. So, I sat down and let the ideas flow while I drank a cup of coffee.
I knew that each module of my college class took a certain amount of time daily, cooking supper takes a certain amount of time, and on and on. The gardening was the tough one. It was overwhelming as the produce started to come in and the weeds came up. It simply looked like hours and hours and hours!
I figured out that on cooler days I could garden for about 30-minute spurts before I needed to quit. Hot days were about 10-15 minutes at most. So, throughout the day, I split up the tasks that needed to get done into micro-tasks and scheduled them throughout the day. Sometimes doing such small tasks as picking green beans in the morning, cucumbers around noon, and pulling weeds in the afternoon or evening. I expected this to alleviate the anxiousness in my mind, but it didn’t seem to work.
I went to Yahweh in prayer and asked what I was doing wrong. Suddenly I recognized that I was still fretting while I was doing other tasks. If I was cooking, I was worrying about the garden, cleaning, laundry, etc. But then if I was doing the gardening, I was worrying about college, cooking or something else! I found that none of the tasks were getting fully done, done well, or even enjoyable anymore at all.
I was trying, but things were just not quality work like I was used to from myself. Then there was the day I got a “C” on one of my quizzes in my class. I had been so concerned about something else that my grade had literally suffered – I wasn’t paying careful attention to the questions and answers. Now there was clear evidence what I was doing in my mind was becoming a detriment.
I had to do something more. I realized that I needed to go beyond just scheduling the micro-tasks. I needed to learn to shut off my brain running in the background.
It’s kind of like your laptop computer. Have you noticed that sometimes things are truly whirling around in the background while you are trying to accomplish a task? And while you are trying to accomplish that task, those programs running in the background slow you down and sometimes even interfere with the program you are currently working in.
On a Windows computer, you go into your Task Manager and you click “End Task” on programs or apps that are running and slowing you down. That is what my brain was like this past summer. It had too many programs and APPs running in the background and my CPU was running at 100% plus!!! The result was the program I was working on at that moment, slowed down and suffered because of all that unnecessary background usage!
Now I know, when I start to get myself worked up like that, I need to stop, and click “End Task” on all those thoughts running in the background. I take quick notes if I need to of what needs to be done on those tasks so that I can remember later what to expect from that task. Then I walk away. Thoughts and concerns, everything needs to be shut off and focus back on the task which needs completing.
I know. . . you may be thinking it’s easier said than done. YES! It is sometimes, and I admit that. I still get myself worked up a bit – I did it last Friday in fact. Yet once I stopped and took a deep breath, wrote down what needed to get done, and worked on one thing at a time, while turning off the concern of all the other things, I was surprised at how quickly I completed everything on my list.
Some days I forget that when Yahweh tells us to worry for nothing, He really does mean for nothing.
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My Brain Is Like A CPU
First let me say, we are not a ministry who follows the rabbinic teachings regarding the Feast Days. We make them simple and Biblical. Or as Biblical as is humanly possible. We don’t teach that they are commandments required for your salvation, either. Yet we DO teach that, once saved, we should feel that change of heart in us that makes us desire to live as Yeshua lived, and that pull to follow the commandments Yahweh would have us follow. This process brings us to sanctification, where we will be living in such a way that others will see the fruit in our spirits and in our every action.
So how do we follow and celebrate the fall Feast days?
We teach each new family to start by reading up on calendaring. Our Parent Ministry, Shofar Productions has a free e-book on the topic. This e-book explains why we follow the Hillel II calendar for calculating the Feast days through the year. I will point out this one detail: the Hillel II calendar DOES tend to have set aside two days for some of the Feasts which are only commanded for one day. WE follow the Biblical teaching that these days are ONE day only.
The example of this for our fall Feast schedule this year is that Feast of Trumpets is from Sundown on Sunday, September 29 until Sundown on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. We are honoring the one-day celebration starting on Sunday September 29th at Sundown to Monday at Sundown as the Bible states. For all upcoming years, we will be calculating the Feast Days in this same way.
Many will follow the Jewish traditions for Rosh Hashanah, which include a lot of baked goods and pastries, a big feast dinner, apples dipped in honey, honey cake, pomegranates, matzah balls, and the list goes on and on! Often, these traditions vary from Jewish community to community, family to family. We do enjoy eating honey cake, which happens to be one of my husband’s favorite treats this time of year, as well as pomegranates if they are fresh and lots of apples. But we do not adhere to typical, traditional Jewish foods on the Feast Days, with the exception of those things that are commanded in scripture (such as unleavened bread during that Feast Time.)
We also enjoy a wonderful feast dinner for at least one of the evening meals – this year we will be doing that on Monday evening because I won’t have time Sunday to make the big feast.
The key to Feasts is: what does Yahweh say we should do on the Fall Feast days?
Let’s start with Yom Teruah, The Feast Of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year).
In Leviticus 23 we see the Feasts of Yahweh given to His people. Yahweh tells Moses to instruct the people on the Feast days. He covers the instructions that are given for the spring feasts as well as the fall feasts. Leviticus 23:24-25 talks specifically of the Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah:
"Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 'You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'"
From these verses we can summarize that on this Feast Day, back in the wilderness, Yahweh commanded Moses and the people to do the following things:
Set aside the first day of the seventh month
Honor it as a Shabbat
Include the blowing of trumpets as a remembrance, a memorial
Have a holy convocation – a reading or meeting, an assembly
Do no laborious work – none of your job
Present and offering by fire at the Temple
Additional scriptures on Yom Teruah are:
Numbers 29:1-6 And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.
Simply reiterates the timing
The Holy Convocation
No laborious work
Blowing of trumpets
Sacrifices for “sweet savor,” meat offering, sin offering to make atonement which are in addition to monthly offerings.
And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: 6Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. (KJV)
No servile/laborious work
Blowing of trumpets
Offerings at the Temple
Nehemiah 8:2-5 contains an example of the reading of The Word of Yahweh before an assembly of all who would listen:
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 6And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (KJV)
From all these examples, we can conclude that this is the basic list of things that were done on Yom Teruah in ancient times:
Set aside the first day of the seventh month for the Feast of Trumpets
Honor it as a Shabbat
Include the blowing of trumpets as a remembrance, a memorial
Have a holy convocation – a reading or meeting, an assembly
Do no laborious work – none of your job
Present an offering by fire at the Temple
Starting at the bottom of the list, we no longer offer sacrifices at the Temple, especially sin offerings. Yeshua was our ultimate sacrifice and the Temple sacrifices are no longer necessary for us to accomplish. In addition, we do not have an active Temple, Tabernacle, or Levitical Priesthood to bring the offerings to.
Is there a third Temple being considered and planned at this time? It appears to be, yes. Is it completed according to Yahweh’s instructions? No. Is there a possible Levitical priesthood organized? It appears to be, yes, but there is no Temple at which to sacrifice. In addition, we are not required to sacrifice at this time as Yeshua has suffered, bled and died for us. We accept Him and His sacrifice for us.
We can, for now, remove that from our list of what we are to do on this Feast. We COULD, however, still teach our children the importance of the ancient sacrifices. We can teach them why they were implemented, how they were done, what they were for. We may also have an opportunity to share this with other adults, such as family and friends.
We are left with honoring it as a Shabbat, blowing the Shofar in remembrance or memorial, and having an assembly - all to be done on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. This might be a good time to recognize that it DOES simplify life if we are all following the same calendar year to year.
When we are divided into many different calendars it becomes complicated for holding a meeting with others who are Torah Observant – if we each celebrate Feast days on different months, in different weeks, on different days, how can we demonstrate to Abba that we are holding a holy reading, meeting, or assembly? We can’t.
So how do WE celebrate Feast of Trumpets using the Biblical model?
We work from home. Jim is self-employed. We know that when the feast days are approaching, he has to ensure enough work is done in advance that he can take off for the Holy Days. This may be something you need to plan for as well. If you work OUTSIDE the home, is there a way you can plan for a personal day or vacation day on the Feast Days?
If not, there are great ideas in our article titled Torah Observance in the Military that can be applied for even the civilian workplace. Try your best to do as little strenuous work as possible, but also remember your responsibility to your boss and fellow employees.
We plan ahead to do no work around the home, either, unless it is an emergency situation. We set aside all yard work, gardening, home repairs, housework, etc. All those can easily be done on another day. We have had emergencies crop up before, and we have been put in a position even to help others. We had a neighbor’s water line in the yard break one year. Jim went over to offer his help as they hand dug the line. They didn’t need his help in the end because another neighbor came along with his large equipment and dug the line in a jiffy! Another example was one Sabbath or Feast Day when our dehumidifier in our old house suddenly sprung a leak and shot water 6 feet into the air in the basement. THAT needed fixed immediately!
Remember to be kind to yourself if things happen. Especially if you are new to Torah observance. Yahweh is SO loving and forgiving – we are in an age of grace where we are covered by Yeshua’s sacrifices.
To ensure we don’t have to work on Feast Days, we have a Prep Day all day before Sundown on the day it is going to start. For us this year, that would be Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. If there was any cleaning or laundry to be done, we would do that all before sundown. We would accomplish as much of the cooking and food preparation as possible on that Prep Day just as we would on a prep day before Shabbat.
I believe in demonstrating a practical application, so I will give you an idea of what we are going to do this year based on our menu:
Sunday: Dinner will be frozen pizzas and maybe a small side salad
Morning’s brunch: Quiche and coffee (me!) or hot herbal drink (Jim)
Snack – honey cake, apples and honey or natural peanut butter
Dinner: Backed Chicken, broccoli with cheese, baked potatoes
Sunday I will be preparing the whole chicken for Monday’s roasting in the oven. It will be oiled up with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs, placed into the baking dish, and covered in the fridge. On Monday, I will slide it into the oven uncovered and let the oven do the rest!
Sunday, too, the potatoes and broccoli will be washed. On Monday, the potatoes will be popped into the oven at the right time along with the chicken. The washed broccoli will be placed into a saucepan in the fridge. On Monday, all I will need to do is add water and steam, then strain, sprinkle with herbs and cheddar, and serve.
I also bake the quiche ahead of time on Sunday so that all we need to do on Monday is reheat it when we are ready to eat. All the advance preparation makes it easy for us to enjoy the day as a day of rest and remembrance.
As far as activities go:
Sunday night we will pray and praise, as well as blow the Shofars. As this is the close of the agricultural year and what is celebrated as a new beginning by many, we will be remembering this as well. It IS the first day of the month and a Rosh Chodesh, so we honor and respect this one as we do all Rashei Chodashim (plural for Rosh Chodesh). Every Rosh Chodesh we praise Yahweh for all the blessings He has given us in the previous month and praise Him for the blessings to come from the next one as well. So, we will include this as we get to celebrate a bit more than the usual start of the month – with a big Feast.
If our neighbors will tolerate it, we will blow shofars long and loud outside for a bit. Living in the Appalachian Mountains makes them sound really awesome sometimes, and it is something I look forward to this time of year. In the past, we have had a fire outside before sundown and enjoyed supper around the fire as we allowed it to burn out on its own. This year, we are under fire watches, so we will pass on that for the evening.
Don’t have a shofar? There are recordings on YouTube that you can use, or believe it or not, there are even APPS for your phone or tablet! Some can even be downloaded onto your computer, as well. Plug in a set of speakers and let it blow!
I believe that the most difficult part of Feast days can be the holy convocation – this would be an assembly or gathering of people where they share the reading, study, or discussion of The Word Of Yahweh. Many of us are “the only ones” in our area, family, or group of friends.
What can you do? Plan a special day with family or friends – invite them over to your home for the feast meal. You can use this time to share your meal with them – and if they are receptive to it, talk about why you are celebrating Yom Teruah this year. This last part, you might need to play by ear because some friends and family may not want to hear anything religious while others may not appreciate your decision to change holidays to Biblical holy days. Just remember to be kind and loving in your communications.
If you DO find you are alone, is there a favorite ministry you might enjoy listening to? Maybe there is a live broadcast available that you can be a part of. If you can't find something live to enjoy, gather your husband and children around and watch a video broadcast together. This is likely what Jim and I will be doing along with reading and studying.
Remember to close out your Feast of Trumpets with a closing prayer at Sundown on Monday. Is this commanded? Not according to the Bible. It is simply a gentle reminder and suggestion from us because it is a great time to spend some extra time in His presence. Thanking him for the blessed day you have been given, and praying He touch your heart as you approach the Day of Atonement coming up in just over a week.
I hope this helps everyone who is new to Torah and Fall Feasts and may even be a reminder to all those who have been doing it a while. Sometimes we need that gentle reminder that Yahweh didn’t make it difficult, and that the yoke is easy, and the burden truly is light. (Matthew 11:30)
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Yom Teruah For Beginners
I am often contemplative when Yahweh uses the same type of lesson repeatedly in my life. There always seems to be MORE that I am supposed to grasp. A great example of this is His use AGAIN of my planting seeds and His causing them to sprout sooner than directed on the packages. Yes, He did it again, and it is one that I did not deserve. At least not from my human perspective. Because life just throws you curves sometimes that take you down a different direction, I wasn’t diligent in my care of Yahweh’s previous blessings. And because of this, I wondered why He honestly bothered to bless me again. Let me explain. . .
In spring, I was so excited about this year’s garden because our soil was better prepared than last year, and we had worms galore thanks to Yahweh’s previous gift to our ground. I was filled with hope for a great harvest and wonderful vegetables all through summer. My mind was even excited about putting things up in the freezer for winter soups and stews.
When it came to starting seeds, I planted the various greens first, then a week or so later, I started beans, peas, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squashes. With college, ministry, and life, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the thought of having to plant all those seedlings once sprouted, yet still longed for the wonderful blessing of freshness from the garden.
Sadly, with it getting too hot too fast this spring, I fell very far behind on getting the greens into the ground. I got all the other plants in, some a bit later than they should have, but they were in and growing well. The greens, though, were still in starter pots come mid-July and they were strangling each other. Sadly, they finally ended up in a bucket full of old potting soil in the hopes that they will compost and help refurbish the soil for new plants next spring.
I was feeling somewhat ashamed one day while sitting on the back deck praying, looking over what a gift I felt I had disrespected. I believed I wasted a great blessing which we COULD have been enjoying at our dinner table. Or we could have been putting greens up in the freezer to use in the winter. At least I was trying to “reuse and recycle” them into new soil. It just didn’t seem to alleviate my guilt. I asked Yahweh to forgive me for being wasteful and hoped I would do better with the next batch. We tend to be harder on ourselves and much less forgiving of self than Yahweh is, but I tried to let it go.
Thursday, July 18th I decided it was time to start a new batch of greens for the fall. I read the packages all the time so that I know how long it will take and when to expect sprouts to appear. I made a note that they should be sprouting sometime midweek the next week. Shabbat morning, just two days later, I saw that the Romaine had already sprouted as did the peas and many of the bush and pole beans! By Sunday morning, the Romaine sprouts were already almost a full inch tall!
At first, I was excited and so very grateful. But then the guilt crept back in. I even found myself thinking, “Yahweh, why did you bless us so quickly with these sprouts after what I had done to your previous blessings?” I didn’t get an audible answer as I sometimes do. I simply felt a peace fill me up. A simple, quiet, loving peace that just testified that I had been forgiven when I asked. I felt humbled and knew that He had granted me this great blessing in spite of myself. And that I needed to try harder to care for them and get them into the ground as soon as they are strong enough to weather the elements. I also felt assured that we would continue to be greatly blessed from our garden, it felt as though it was a strong promise.
We often feel unworthy of His promises, don’t we? And yet He gives them so easily, so willingly.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.
Hebrews 8:12 WEB
…in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,… Ephesians 1:7 WEB
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People sometimes ask me, “Why do you get so many blessings???” It isn’t that we “get so many blessings” or that we “get” more than others do. It is, however, that I see God’s hand in almost everything in my life. Where others might see things as “good luck,” I see those as blessings from God. Where some may see fate or coincidence, I see Yahweh’s provision. Where it seems we have a windfall or good fortune, I see how Abba put everything into place to make things work for our benefit. Because of how I view things, it just seems Yahweh blesses us beyond measure.
This story is one of those examples.
A short time ago, I was not having the best week. I was frustrated, impatient, and just plain grumpy trying to deal with several worldly things at once. I had pretty much forgotten all about the shalom Yahweh wants us to have in our lives and in our hearts.
I had a lot to get done, was overwhelmed in my thinking and emotions, running behind on several tasks. That was the perfect moment for Yahweh to do something that truly got my attention. He showed me, for the second time in 18 months, that He can make things work despite ourselves. What did he do? Well, this may sound silly, but He taught me that sometimes the directions on the packet of seeds are merely a suggestion from mankind.
I first experienced this kind of miracle last year when we decided to fully trust Yahweh with our garden. In 2017 when we planted seeds to start our first garden, we only had about 40% germination for some reason. No matter how many times I re-started the seeds we had stored in the cupboard, we still only got about 40% growth. It was frustrating beyond measure.
As an experienced gardener, I thought I KNEW what I was doing – I followed all my years of “training” and still got the same results. On top of that, half of those seedlings died within a few days of sprouting. These were supposed to be “special” seeds – ones that were heirloom, specially chosen and packed for longer storage. Yet, it just seemed nothing I did worked. It was very frustrating.
In the spring of 2018, after the worm lesson, I decided we would pray specifically over the seeds after I planted them. I worked hard that day filling starter trays with soil and planting everything you can imagine, using the same seeds as the year before. I watered the soil, set the trays outside and prayed over them. I praised Yahweh for creating the plants, praised Him for being our Provider, and then simply ended the prayer with something somewhat flippant, along the lines of, “Well, Yahweh, they are in your hands now! We know you will bless these seeds to grow and provide!” It was sort of a haphazard remark, trusting yet wondering if it really would work.
Then, off I went to do household tasks, some college classes, and ministry. Several hours later, I felt an impression to go outside and see “how the seeds had grown.” Can you imagine how much I giggled inside at the impression that the seeds had grown already? “Yahweh, it has only been a few hours since I planted those seeds. The package says they will take at least 7 days before they germinate!” And that was in optimal conditions. Did a little doubt creep in? Yes, I admit it. I briefly wondered to myself if we even had any optimal conditions after the 2017 experience. Then, I got the impression again to go and look, much stronger this time. So, giggling on the inside and smiling on the outside with maybe a little bit of a subliminal eyeroll, I wandered outside to see what was going on.
I was shocked! About half of the seeds I had planted were already sprouting – just hours after I had planted them! I was so stunned I started to cry and shout at the same time! I called Jim to show him the miracle that had happened with the same old seeds! He could hardly believe that I had only planted them that very morning!
By the next morning, almost all the seeds I had started had already sprouted. Those from the day before had even grown at least a half inch overnight, and their stems were MUCH thicker and stronger than the seedlings from the previous year. You can imagine how much happy dancing I did out there on the deck – and PRAISE!!! Goodness did I praise!!!
Fast forward to Spring 2019
Sometimes we take for granted that a blessing which unfolded once will do the same thing next time it is needed. When we feel this way, we might get a little remiss in how we handle the situation. We just might think we don’t need to do much for it to plop in our laps, and maybe that will happen for some. I find, though, that my experience is, if I don’t bother to praise and thank Yahweh, some things might not come as quickly or as easily the next time.
So, there I was planting seeds for our garden and thinking of how miraculous Yahweh was with the seed sprouting before. I filled the pots, planted seeds, and watered well, knowing they would be blessed. I will admit that by the next morning, just short of 24 hours later, some of the seeds had sprouted, but nowhere near as many as the year before.
When I noticed this and realized that I had not done MY part – gratitude, praise and prayer, I immediately went about asking forgiveness and praising for the sprouts we had, plus thanking Yahweh immensely for the previous year’s sprouts, garden, produce, and blessings, then I politely and humbly asked for similar blessings this year. Imagine my surprise when by that day’s end, MORE sprouts were coming up! Within three days, Yahweh ensured that almost all the seeds had sprouted. We did have a few stubborn seed sets, the peppers for example, that held out and actually took 3 weeks to sprout, but over-all we had similar results as the year before. Swift sprouting AND excellent growth – providing us with strong, healthy plants to go into the garden. Praise Yahweh!
There was a new addition this year in the blessing category: as the plants went into the garden, many grew even more swiftly and larger than last year! What a wonder it was to watch as even the produce that started coming forth was larger and more plentiful at first. Some days we even joked that you could sit and watch the plants and produce grow inch by inch!
Sadly, something killed off all our zucchini plants early, so I started a new set of seeds in pots. THIS time I made sure to praise right away and thank Abba for his precious love for us and His provision. Within two days they had not only sprouted but were already about 2 inches tall! By day three from sprouting, they had started to develop their second set of leaves and were just about ready to go into the ground for a second round of squash to harvest. I gave them a little extra time, just in case – I wanted them to develop good, strong roots. Now we wait! They have just started blooming, and I have been praying for bees to do their work.
I do believe it is time for another shofar blowing as we praise in amazement at how wonderfully Yahweh works on His creations!
He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things, which your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21 WEB
Behold, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27 WEB
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The One About Yahweh Making Seeds Grow In Just One Day
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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