A blog from a sweet sister, Tamara, who asked if we would share it with our followers. We are grateful to have been asked, and we pray you enjoy.
"Our family decided to watch Wonder Woman 84 the other day because we like Scifi and action films. We also think it’s pretty cool to watch a movie with an Israeli actress who had been in the IDF. As in all secular movies there were a couple of things I really didn’t care for but as with all things in life, chew the meat and spit out the bones.
Two major principles in this movie struck me as being so biblical.
First, Diana as a child is participating in these Olympic games and at one point she takes her eyes off the path in front of her to see where the other girls in the competition were and falls off her horse, who keeps trotting along without her and she also loses her bow. That right there speaks volumes. If you take your eye off the path in front of you to see where others are in comparison with you, you will lose your way. We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others but instead continue walking the path Yah has set out for us.
So when she falls off the horse she then has to try to figure out if she gives up or finds a way to continue somehow. She looks around her and lo and behold finds a shortcut. So without a second thought she takes the shortcut and is able to catch up to her horse and get back on and continue the race. But aha! She has lost her bow and is not able to mark her advancements on the marker up at the arena and the judges are taking note of this.
This girl is no doubt super strong, talented, and very intelligent and has a strong will to be a winner. I have to confess with some shame that I became fatigued just watching these ladies do these strenuous exercises. So, thanks to her strength and determination, not only does she make it back to the arena, but she comes in first. Just as she is about to go collect her prize one of the judges pulls her off her track and holds her back telling her that she took a short cut and cheated and therefore is not worthy of getting the prize!! Many tears and anger follow for the little girl who was so sure of her victory only to have it taken from her at the very last moment.
What a lesson. This reminds me of the verses:
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
I much fear many believers are taking short-cuts to do those things they think our Father wants; in other words, not obeying all of His word, all of His commandments but maybe they are out there helping the community, feeding the needy, even preaching salvation to the lost but taking no heed to try to figure out what Yah really wants from them, not trying to be completely obedient to His desires and then when they stand in front of the Great White Throne they will claim “But we were out there feeding the homeless, and preaching your Word” but He will say: “Yes, all those things are great but you never bothered to learn what I wanted of you, you took short-cuts and now you are not deserving of the prize. You did not stay on the competition path the whole way but instead did things your way and now you think that because you were creative and found another way to the finish line that you are worthy of praise!”
It is good to help the community, it is good to feed the homeless, to preach salvation, etc, etc but if we are not taking the time to figure out what His Word says as to how we are to live all areas of our lives then we will not make it to that first-place podium!!!
Another thing that powerfully called my attention was the whole concept of the wishes and how this stone would grant these wishes but with the condition that it would take your greatest treasure from you. In Diana’s case it was her strength and power. In the case of Barbara, it was her kindness, gentleness and sweetness and she became selfish and evil. Boy, again what a lesson. In this movie everyone was making these horribly selfish wishes, even one man desiring death to his wife at which point she has a massive heart attack and falls on the floor. But all these selfish desires were creating a horrible chaos in the world to the point where the whole world was about to be destroyed in a thermo-nuclear war.
Do you see it? Do you see how the majority of the world has put aside those things which are good, moral and ethical to follow their own selfish desires and how it has created much chaos in the world? It’s only when Wonder Woman pleads with the world through a television broadcast for them to put aside their selfish desires and to love that the world starts to go back to what it had been before. Yah is pleading with us every day to follow His Word that He designed to keep the chaos away from our lives, our family and household, and by extension the community and the world around us but the world has largely ignored His pleas and is now plagued with chaos.
If we had only followed His instructions written through the entire Bible (rules), we wouldn't be in this place. We wouldn’t be in a society that glorifies personal convenience even to the detriment of the lives of our unborn children, a society that is individualistic instead of focusing on the needs of the family structure as it is in so many other cultures world-wide, a society where children have been abandoned so women can be empowered and who end up in the legal system for the sake of women being in key positions in Fortune 500 companies.
Now please understand, there is a time and place for everything. There are seasons in our lives where we need to be home with our littles and there are seasons where our littles are not so little anymore and then we have more time for ministry. There are seasons where women are abandoned, and they have to work to provide for their family. We live in a fallen world, but I just wish the sexual revolution hadn’t happened and we lived in a more traditional society where women could be keepers of their homes and children, instead of being forced to work. I wish all women had a stronger support system around them made up of wise grandmas, aunts and sisters. But that’s not the world we live in and I fully understand that.
One concept that kept popping up in the movie was the concept of truth vs. lies. And that brings me back to what the Bible says about truth, that it will set us free. We find ourselves in a position of spiritual slavery because we did not recognize the truth, because we’ve bought into the lies that we have carried down from generation to generation and we refuse, as believers, to examine those lies, those traditions to see if they are truly the will of our Father because again, we are selfish. And in being selfish we are part of the chaos instead of being that light to the nations that we were called to be and we will be held accountable for it. You will especially be accountable for those truths that were told to you and you ignored because you had to have (insert those things you are not willing to give up not even for your Messiah), because you were more in love with those things that you were with your Messiah, with your God. It saddens me how I’ve tried to talk to several people about certain Torah principles and they’ve just said: I love God but don’t ask me to give up my (favorite things). And I just want to sit them down with one of those movies like the Passion of Christ, let them watch the scene of the crucifixion and then ask them: So you’re telling me Jesus went through this horrible, painful, gruesome, humiliating public execution so your sins could be forgiven and you could have access to eternal life, yet you can’t give up your favorite things? Why? Because it tastes good in your mouth? Because that activity is so much FUN, brings you temporary pleasure? Because it’s a tradition your family has observed for generations? Because you simply are a selfish human being who cares nothing, in the end, for what your Creator is asking of you and all you can focus on is the temporary pleasures of this life to the detriment of your eternal salvation????
I think we all need to watch this movie with an open mind and see the cautionary tale it portrays and apply it to the Biblical principles we are supposed to be living. I really think the writer and/or director of this movie was somewhat inspired by God to make a secular story but that is so full of biblical principles. Occasionally a story or movie comes along that even though it’s not “Christian” per se has some really exceptional values in it that we can all learn from and apply in our lives as well as the lives of our loved ones.
So what can we learn from WW84?
Tamara Blessing, guest blogger
NOTE: A special thank you to Tamara for asking to post this message on our ministry page. I was very moved by the way she and her husband, Jeff, used the secular movie to teach their family great lessons that can be carried for a lifetime. We pray that you will also be able to glean from this message as we have.
Blessings and shalom,
* This is to inform readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions
expressed belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website, our ministry, or its
affiliates, organizations, committees or other groups or individuals.
I recently made a post following the Christmas holiday, and just a day or two before “New Years Eve.”
My OP was simply, “Looks like our New Years Eve will be rainy and all the way into the New Years Day. We don't have big plans, just the two of us, maybe movies and some special treats after a nice take-home dinner we are going to grab from the same restaurant we bought gyros from (earlier in the week). Was a bit bothered by rainy days, but then I thought, Actually, that rain can just WASH AWAY 2020!!!! And start the new Gregorian year off clean and shiny, new!!!!”
This simple thought brought a number of questions through messenger about how our ministry feels about celebrating New Years on December 31st to January 1. This blog post is a summary of the thoughts I emailed out to answer basic questions. In this post, we are not going to get into the typical discussion about pagan elements, nor are we going to rant, “NO!!! Don’t celebrate!!! IT’S PAGAN!!” By now I would hope that you recognize the fact that we are not that kind of ministry.
Although there are days on the calendar which we do NOT celebrate because they DO have a strong pagan influence, such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter, the end of December New Years is not one we put in that same category.
First, we need to realize how the people of the world recognize A NUMBER of “New Years” throughout the year – many people don’t realize that. From a Biblical perspective, there is the new year that happens when Yom Teruah occurs in the fall. This is when the Hebrew Calendar changes the numerical designation for the year. It marks time. Then, there is the end of one and beginning of another agricultural year. There is the new year that is celebrated in the spring as well – which is described in Exodus 12. Another example would be how Americans (and much of the business world) respect the “new year” that happens at the end of the fiscal year. Which brings us, of course, to the typical New Years celebration everyone is most accustomed to: the end of one and the start of the next Gregorian calendar year. These are just a few of the examples that can be described.
Each of these “new years” serves a purpose.
As a gardener, I respect the agricultural year as it rolls through. The minute the harvest season is over, the soil needs to start being prepared for the next planting season. It is just something you do when you want to produce the best results.
As believers we honor the Biblical time markers with the spring and fall feasts. Both of which contain a “new year” memorial time.
And then, because we have owned our own businesses in the past as well as currently serving in our ministry, we MUST respect both the Gregorian AND fiscal calendars. In our ministry, this is what we would call teaching balance. Let me explain some critical details which a lot of people try to ignore when they go “all-in” trying to purge their lives of “pagan calendaring.”
#1) People operate on the Gregorian calendar – world-wide. It is a fact we HAVE to accept. We can’t just toss it aside. Businesses, banking, doctor appointments, paydays, work schedules, school schedules, sports, Shabbat meetings, pretty much everything in life uses this as the timekeeper. It is a convenience we are all accustomed to.
I have met people over the years who refuse to use the Gregorian calendar claiming it is pagan, therefore Yahweh would consider it sin to use it. Yet we literally cannot escape it. Imagine trying to call a doctor’s office and scheduling an appointment for the 18th day of the Hebrew month. Or worse, if you are a person who believes that the new year starts ONLY in spring and you try to schedule an appointment on the 18th day of the “fifth month.” Would you be scheduling your appointments on the SAME FIFTH MONTH? Not likely. It would be impossible to accomplish all the scheduling according to your personal calendar preference – you would eventually HAVE to point out what Gregorian date you need that appointment on.
Another reason we HAVE to live by the calendar the world is on – when we write out checks, make payments for bills, and when we sign legal documents, the list is endless. Using the Gregorian calendar makes it very easy to reconcile things, to be honest. This might be one of the correct ways in which we submit to governing authorities, as is described in Romans 13 and the principle of submitting to the governing authorities.
A moment here, too to point out how many don’t realize that the Hebrew calendar has paganism in it as well. Take for example the month of Tammuz. It is Babylonian and the name of a Pagan god. At some point, we have to reach a sensible position of BALANCE.
#2) When it comes to celebrating Biblical Feast Days, we personally follow the Hebrew calendar (Hillel II) for our Feast Days – except, as I have mentioned before, some Feasts are marked for two or three days (as per rabbinic tradition). We do not follow rabbinics when it comes to our beliefs. Many of their teachings are blatantly unbiblical. I discuss this in several different blog posts. We use the Biblical description for the proper dates to celebrate and mark our calendars accordingly. So, on those Feasts where the Hillel 2 may mark 2 days, we celebrate ONE day. We follow the BIBLE description on those days.
#3) When it comes to the Gregorian New Year celebrations, yes, some do have pagan traditions attached to them or are derived from pagan origins. Father Time and Baby New Year are a couple examples, while noise makers, are another. These are sometimes used by some cultures to chase away demons as we enter into a new and prayerfully prosperous year. We don’t do or participate in these celebrations in any way. We simply mark the change of one numeric year to another.
I can share with you what we have done in the past and do now to celebrate the change.
Examples: when we lived closer to family in NJ, we would gather together on NY Eve, have special foods that we each enjoy, usually a pot-luck sort of spread. Some years we had nothing but lots of snacks, others we had a dinner. And then play games together until midnight. Then we would wish everyone a blessed next year, and everyone would go home. Nothing big – those who were accustomed to saying “Happy New Year” would, we generally just wished blessings upon everyone for the upcoming 12 months. Our family is one of many mixed faiths, and this is what was best for us.
Now, living in the Appalachians, it is just the two of us. We use it as an evening to go out early, buy some nice take out that we don’t normally splurge on, something special to drink along with it (we don’t do sodas, so often flavored sparkling waters), and maybe a nice dessert if we are in the mood. We then enjoy dinner and a movie at home (Although sometimes we binge watch a show we want to catch up on). We do that until midnight, and then we tend to end up, for about an hour, fielding phone calls or texts from those same family members I mentioned above.
On a few rare years in the past, we enjoyed an evening just as I described, but with friends who live close. We don’t like to be on the mountain roads on certain nights. Hard enough driving in winter, let alone with drunks on the roads. So, we stay in our development. It doesn’t work out every year that we can spend it with friends, though.
This year, more than many in the past, has been a difficult one for the world, and in some ways for us personally. Yet right near the end of this year, we were blessed greatly with a change we didn’t see coming. Plus, in a short time we will be welcoming our newest grandbaby – sometime in January! We are celebrating MIRACLES and blessings right now!!! Our grandson is a miracle after 10 years of infertility for our daughter and Son-in-law. We have a lot to celebrate, many do, and even those who don’t feel it is the start of a new time period in which we can pray to Yahweh for opening of doors, for provision, protection, and even more.
We are not a ministry built on legalistic obedience which can get overwhelming. Yeshua told His followers that his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Our salvation is only through him, it is not gained by meticulously examining every micro detail of our lives by a “pagan” measuring stick. When we do this, we often lose the love and fruit of the Spirit He wants us to exhibit toward each other, and toward others.
Blessings and Shalom
Recently I got involved in a conversation that truly frustrated me. It was from a post and comments claiming that Jesus is the anti-Christ. Sadly, all the comments were condemning, judgmental, demeaning, and off-the-wall. I have said it before and I will say it again: this attitude is wholly and completely unBiblical.
It always starts with a question and then people rant back and forth about how the name Jesus is fake, how anyone who was saved in the name of Jesus was not properly saved, and the followed up by the fact that the speaker ends up elevating their testimony above that of others.
I always see such hate and pride in the threads, as well as a distinct lack of love. Each person acting as though they are next to perfect because of the way they believe, or the way they spell and pronounce their chosen name for our Messiah. Interestingly enough, they all speak loudly about how their chosen “name” is the ONLY right one. While at the same time, they respect each other’s decision to believe differently than they do, UNTIL someone says, “Well, I use the name Jesus!” Then the gloves come off and they come out fighting, sometimes even calling the “Jesus-speaker” horrid names or condemning them to Hell.
When I saw it crop up for about the 20th time in one week, I sat and posted one simple statement: "Oh my gosh.....This has to stop...... " That was all - and I meant it. I just didn’t have the energy to say anything more. It reminded me of Jesus telling the pharisees they made the teachings of Yahweh of no effect by their vain traditions and man made rules. I often don’t know if people realize how they sound when they do these things – when they place their-self as judge AND JURY over every soul based on a person's vocabulary. They seem to be saying, “I have a greater place in Heaven than YOU do because I say the name RIIIIIIIIGHT!” Right by the standards of WHOM, though?
There seems to be no compassion, no kindness anymore for others. Put aside the fact that there is plenty of evidence to show that in the ancient times, Yeshua’s name had been recorded as Iesus (Now pronounced Jesus). There is physical evidence which shows that the sound of the letter “J” is ancient as well. (LINK TO BOOK on the topic)
Being in a ministry that deals with SO MANY people of differing faiths all at once, having family and friends in SO MANY different places in spirituality, I can’t help to ask what Abba would think of me if I told people or even implied, “My loved ones just aren’t good enough for Yahweh” or “My loved ones just aren’t ‘there’ yet.” And all this based on speaking the right name V. the wrong one.
Many of my friends know that I have come out of Mormonism – a place were I spent 25 years of my life. I am quite familiar with belonging to a magic religion where you are “not good enough” unless you do and say things just right.
These groups where people go to try and learn “truth” have members who cannot even agree on spellings, pronunciations, or even names. Our article titled “The Name Game" is a perfect example of why we don’t get into that nonsense. And that includes against people who use the name Jesus. True confessions? Jim and I often use the name Jesus, too – in written form or as we speak.
When people find fault with one group of people because they don't liek the name they use for Our Saviour, but tolerate other spellings, it gives a hypocritical view of things, to say the least. But worse than that, if each of “you” on a group or page pronounce a different name or spelling of “The Name,” if you all can’t agree on one name within your little group, what right do you all have to judge others on their chosen name of reference? None.
So many people have been saved in the name of Jesus – now you want to tell them they are not really saved?
So many people have been healed in the name of Jesus – now you want to tell them they are not really healed? I have actually had this done – I have discussed some of the traumas my own children went through when they were very young and how they received healing and protection. When I have shared, I have actually had someone tell me those were not of Yahweh – they were from Satan.
Right now one of our girls is expecting her first child. Some 30 years ago, I was pregnant with her when my eldest came down with chicken pox, and then three weeks later, she was diagnosed with meningitis.
Her pediatrician was seriously concerned for her and drove from his house to the hospital in 15 minutes – it normally took about 30. He needed to do a spinal tap for final confirmation.
He never needed to – 24 hours later, she was 100% better and was released from the hospital. Her doctor looked at me and asked what I had done to her – I simple said, 'You’ll never believe me." He pressed me and I answered: "Prayed." Guess who I prayed to? Jesus. She is now 36 and momma to our eldest grandchild. No one can tell me Jesus doesn’t heal.
And that is just one example of many, many, MANY more!
How about a miracle of provision? Our neighbors our first Sukkot here. We had no money, not a dime, and no real food to speak of. I was SO UPSET, not knowing how we were going to eat, let alone feast. I prayed, and that afternoon, they called us and asked us over. They gave us SO MUCH FOOD. We had more than enough to eat and feast on until we got paid again. Did I pay attention what name I used when I prayed? No, I simply prayed. I may have said Abba or Father, Jesus or Yeshua. It didn’t matter – He heard my prayers and He blessed us greatly through the love and kindness of our dear friends.
Yesterday a friend summed it up to me while I was ranting. She said, “He more than knows when someone is calling on Him. Whether they pronounce it right or not.”
I try to liken it to this: When I was on a crowded beach or in a packed shopping mall with my kids, I would KNOW when they called out for me. I would. It wouldn’t matter how much noise was aroung, if they cried out using MOM, or MOMMY, or MOMMA, or MAAAAWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHHHHM!!!! In that long drawn out version. Or the worst one of all – the blood curdling scream. I WOULD KNOW THEM. And I would answer them.
Would I stand there and say, “NOPE! You didn’t call me by the right name!”
Let that sink in for a moment or two…What more, or less, would Yahweh do for me?…I call this “Parenting like Abba.” Because He was the perfect example of how we ought to parent and we can see his guidance and teaching in The Word. Goodness! He even put the people of the Exodus on restriction for FORTY YEARS!
I hope by now you get my point. By OUR fruit, they will know us. We can choose to incessantly condemn those we believe are “not there yet.” Or we can admit, maybe WE are the ones who aren’t really THERE yet. And work on OUR hearts and the REAL TRUTHS that need to be addressed and changed in us. While not worrying about whether someone else is crying out, Papa!; Abba; Yahweh; Elohim; Yehovah, Yeshua, Yehoshua, and such. Time to build our relationship, not just our vocabulary!!!
Blessings and shalom.
The other day I saw a pendant with a simple phrase on it, “I am enough.” I mentioned it to Jim and we talked about it. I loved the phrase because all my life I have questioned myself, beat myself down, and wondered when I would be “enough” in the eyes of others in my life. Jim said the phrase is too self-focused, and it should say Jesus is enough. And he isn’t wrong. We have to be careful not to elevate ourselves about Yahweh in our lives. We need to guard against ego and pride.
Yet, I understand the emotion behind the message very much because I have lived it.
I have been trying to think of a way to explain “I am enough” in a way that it doesn’t appear we toss Abba out of our lives and start thinking we are in control. I wanted to present the message that we don’t need to think ourselves of little worth. This morning an idea came to me about the potter’s clay.
But now, Yahweh, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 WEB
We are the work of his hands – He made us wonderfully and His works are marvelous! (Psalm 139:14) We should know this value in us. Yet the world beats us down and judges us harshly sometimes, and we then, often, turn that condemnation onto ourselves. We are often our worst judge, too. Yet if we just look at how He made us. We would see that “I am enough.”
Imagine Abba grabbing a lump of fresh clay, placing it on the potter’s wheel, spinning, crafting, molding and developing that clay into the most beautiful bowl, vase or pitcher. Throughout the process he sprinkles it with water, smoothing, carving, and working the clay. The process may take a short time or a long time, depending on the desired project. Once finished and fired, He will be able to use that pottery for the purposes He created it.
You see, He took the clay, not too little, not too much, just enough, and created each of us in His image. Then, throughout our lives, He forms us, shapes us, sculpts us into what He wants us to become. Yet He always started with “enough.”
Remember, YOU are that vase or pitcher, and you ARE enough. It doesn't mean you become stagnant. It doesn’t mean you are perfect. It doesn’t mean you can do as you please with the contents inside you. It means you will serve the purpose Yahweh created you to serve. You ARE enough. Now, allow Him to mold you, shape you, and use you for your true purpose in life.
Blessings and Shalom.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted… Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 KJV
Feeling oddly contemplative this Shabbat…happens sometimes. Especially when I am caught a bit off guard.
A few years ago I was asked to partner one day a week as a War Room Prayer warrior with another sister in faith on a radio broadcast. I was very nervous about doing it and honestly, didn’t feel “qualified.” I felt as though Yahweh wanted me to do it, but I had never done anything like that before. Jim was right there, too, encouraging me to do it. I gave in and said yes – to both Yahweh and the producer.
It was one of the moments in life I will always treasure. I have truly enjoyed working in a prayer ministry all these years, and pray more to come. It has been a great blessing in SO many ways. I cannot even begin to make a list of them all. Yet it has also brought me challenges.
Challenges are good, though, because they help us to grow. Sometimes, they help us to also make peace with or figure out things from the past. Prayer warrior has been all this to me.
I believe that the toughest challenge has been when a request is submitted, and the Holy Spirit testifies to my heart that what is asked is not what is going to happen. This most often comes about when someone is praying for miracle healing for a critically ill loved one.
Are there miracle healings taking place? YES! And in fact, I have witnessed SEVERAL of them in the few years I have been serving Yahweh. A sister who had stage four cancer and was told she would only have a short time to get her affairs in order. We prayed for her on War Room for healing, always as Yahweh has led us to pray. Suddenly her next tests came back almost completely clear of cancer. A few months later, she was declared cancer free! Someone else had submitted they were going in for surgery to remove tumors – over 14 of them from breast tissue. Surgery was in one week from when we were praying. Then, a praise report came in that, prior to surgery, doctors redid tests to ensure there weren’t more tumors, and discovered there were NO TUMORS AND NO EVIDENCE OF CANCER ANYWHERE! I literally jumped up and down squealing after that show ended! Miracles happen, and I have witnessed so many. Praise Yahweh!!!
Yet it isn’t always how we are led to pray. I recall one time the prayer request was for someone’s sibling. It involved a heart attack & the sibling was on life support. All they wanted was a miracle – she was not terribly old. I tried over and over to speak the words they wanted to hear. But Abba would not allow it. The Holy Spirit stopped me every time I opened my mouth.
When I finally followed what I was led to pray, a burden lifted from my heart and I felt an odd relief. While at the same time I felt sorrow. I found out the next day, she had passed away. Every word I had prayed was for peace and comfort in the family for whatever was to come. I felt even more relief that day for listening to the promptings and following His lead.
Oddly, I find myself in a similar situation now, today, only this time for my own family.
I have an aunt who is seriously ill – just a short time ago she was diagnosed with cancer. From what I have gathered it is impossible to treat. Then she developed another illness on top of that. Family, in reaching out to me, know of the experiences I have had through the War Room. I have spoken of them before. I have been asked to pray for MIRACLES because she is in need of great miracles.
I am uncomfortable and feeling awkward today – because, although I would love to speak a prayer out loud for a miracle and perfect healing, I am not at all lead that way. In fact, before I had any details on my aunt’s illnesses, I KNEW deep inside, she is going home.
I would love nothing more than to lift the burden of sorrow from my family members with a prayer speaking miracle healing. Yet not only is it not where I feel led, but I feel their needs as a family are deeply different than they have asked. As are the needs of my aunt – she is behaving as if there is something she needs to say to her loved ones, as if she is staying alive just long enough to accomplish one last thing. I saw similar in my own father near the end.
Because of our current medical environment, her family is not permitted to go see her, at all. THIS is my prayer for family right now. We have been less than human, less than kind, and so uncaring beyond measure as a nation toward our elderly and infirm. May God have mercy on us for what our authorities are doing – when we ought to be honoring and loving these people, it is forbidden.
My prayers for my aunt as I fell asleep last night were that her body does not do the things expected by doctors: that she NOT have a stroke or heart attack. How horribly painful that would be to her physical being in these last hours! Instead, I just asked Him, "please Abba, your will & purpose be done in her life. May she be able to speak the things she needs to family, and please take her home softly in her sleep."
As sorrow and sadness, mourning and grief attempt to overwhelm everyone, may Abba be with each one at this time. May He bring comfort, peace, and strength to go on.
Blessings and shalom.
You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. Job 14:5 NLT
"Father...yet not my will, but thine be done." Luke 22:42 Douay-Rheims Bible
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 KJV
Some time ago, we were asked for additional answers regarding our free e-book, “Should Women Keep Silent?” We felt it might be helpful to again share the link to this free e-book. Published in 2015, it discusses the claims many make about how women need to be silent in church. Clicking on the title will lead to a specific page where you can read the free e-book online, as well as find the new printable PDF for studying or sharing.
We hope this will be helpful for many as they explore the Word of Yahweh in scripture regarding women's roles in church, and in building better and stronger assemblies/congregations.
We also wanted to share some replies we had to those questions that were sent to us through email. We hope these will help.
1) 1st Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6-7 where Paul seems rather clear when discussing positions in a church organization. He does not seem to account for women in these church positions.
Reply: This is in regards to Paul saying "Husband of one wife...," and this question/topic comes up often. The claim is that, because Paul ONLY MENTIONS HUSBAND here, that this means only men can serve in certain positions in church. Specifically mentioned here is what is commonly translated as elder/overseer/bishop.
Titus 1:6-7 KJV If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
1 Timothy 3:2 KJV A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
We have to take into account WHO Paul was teaching at the time and the culture of the day. It honestly was not common at that time for women to have more than one husband, and yet there were situations where the reverse was true. It would not have been likely for Paul, because of culture, to counsel against women having more than one husband because there would not have been any need.
He DID counsel women on issues that they WERE exhibiting, however. An example of this would be where he counsels women to remarry if they are widowed young (1 Tim 5:11-14). He mentions WHY, too, because if they are not busy tending to their households and family, they will fall prey to the temptations of Satan, becoming gossiping busy-bodies. In turn, causing issues amongst the community. Throughout the bible we are counseled to NOT gossip – it is considered an abomination by Yahweh. This could lead women into serious sin issues.
Additionally, women are warned about false teachers and letting those doctrines into their homes – Paul even calls them “silly women” – 2 Tim 3:1-6 are great verses for women to study and be forewarned. Sadly, this is what we are seeing quite often in ministry now. Women who fall prey to THIS and MORE. You see, Paul was led to warn women against what would most likely lead them astray.
Men, however, were not warned as strongly about those things, yet were warned about what they tended to lean toward. In this case, one topic Paul mentioned more than once was polygamy. Historically, it was well-known some men married more than one wife. Paul felt it necessary to point out that a man who serves Yahweh in the church, needs to be the man of ONE wife, not a polygamist. Basically, he was saying, “If a polygamist is inquiring about serving as the leader or bishop of the church, he is NOT qualified.”
2) How do men and women serve together in the assembly/church? One message we received mentioned a husband and wife who see that each has gifts the Father gave them individually in church-life and in the raising of children. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and those come out as they work together in their home assembly.
Many couples/families belong to a very open fellowship group like this, where discussions and teachings are led by members, regardless of a presenter’s gender. They reached out to us, desiring a better understanding of what the biblical model looks like – open as they were experiencing, or more restrictive for women, as some profess.
Our Reply: We teach that the model exhibited in this study group IS the more biblical model. These families allow both genders to teach, as did Paul and others in scripture. You see this whenever you look at Paul and the women he acknowledges, Phoebe, for one, is recognized as being a deacon (diakonon). The only other use of this specific word (diakonon) in the New Testament is when Paul refers to Yeshua in Romans 15:8 as a servant. This clearly shows daikonon/servant as a gender-neutral term. Paul shows through this example and the others mentioned in the book that there IS female leadership in the churches.
This actually brings to my mind a husband/wife team example where the wife seems to “…have all the say while the husband takes the back seat to her leading.” This is a case someone may need to look at very cautiously. It MAY be a case of which Paul speaks AGAINST, where women are acting out inappropriately. If a woman becomes overbearing in ministry, strongly assumes the role of leader herself, and becomes one of those women who is controlling, domineering, or bossy, it could fall into the counsel which Paul felt he needed to give. This is where he says women being silent or asking their husbands at home, rather than speak up, loudly, at church, appearing to by unruly.
You see, at the time Paul was writing to the churches, the Diana Cult was running rampant still. Some were not willing to give that up, as you can see by the scripture: Acts 19:23-25. Demetrius speaks of how it will cost them a lot of money – their whole business is wrapped up in those statues! The women in that cult were VERY authoritative, domineering, controlling – and women at the time were used to having that control in religion. As they left that cult, and came to Yeshua’s teachings, it was something Paul HAD to discuss to ensure that Yahweh’s church did NOT go down that same road. The women needed to learn the submission that Paul speaks of.
We see women in our modern society doing these same things. Watch any women’s rally in Washington, DC and listen to the women who have made it their mission to destroy the literal “MANkind” in our nation!!! Men have become an evil fixture in our society, and it is a message created by wicked women.
Now I must say, too, the Biblicial submission I mentioned a moment ago is NOT the same as what we see in some churches today. It is NOT a heavy-handed control which appears as dictatorial, where the men literally rule, while women are dominated over. I will touch on that negativity in a moment.
There can be two different extremes which we may see in a meeting, women dominating, or men, yet neither is Biblical. In the case which may appear to be an authoritarian wife, a few leaders might need to sit and take a careful look at the couple where the husband appears to take a back seat. If it is NOT as Paul was warning against (domineering, overbearing, bossy wife trying to take control), it may be something completely beautiful and genuine.
The wife may have an actual calling to serve Yahweh! I know SEVERAL sisters of faith who have been called by Yahweh to be POWERFUL preachers, teachers, and leaders in their communities. They lead entire congregations – BIG ONES. And their husbands, however, choose to “take a back seat.” Not because the wives are negatively leading, but because the husbands are not called by Yahweh to the same ministry position as their wives. And yet they support their wives in their callings – completely and wholly.
We each may run into this in life, and we should use Paul’s counsel to take a careful look from a distance. Measure if THIS may be the situation, rather than it being a domineering woman.
3) What of a brother who appears “very controlling, authoritarian, and overly patriarchal?”
Our Reply: No, this is the other extreme I mentioned and it is not Biblically sound. Being a domineering husband is not the answer either. It becomes a situation that must be watched carefully because this may be a behaviour which extends into the home. It is my experience that in these cases, the men aren’t always receptive to receiving feedback. Especially by the kind of leader who may be able to use scripture to justify his entire thinking.
THIS is actually one of the things our women’s ministry was called to help address - the true Biblical balance in ministry and homes. We are fully aware that, these messages coming from a woman in ministry is even less tolerated. Therefore, my husband, James, has written or co-written all books on these topics. These free e-books are available on our website and we recommend couples read them. We believe they will help families, couples, and even ministries explore and test the doctrines around women in church, from solely a Biblical perspective.
I would invite everyone to read the first book mentioned at the beginning, “Should Women Keep Silent?” This should be followed up with our e-book titled “Women In Ministry.” These may include some material which is redundant, yet it will help strengthen the teaching and clarify many of Paul's words.
We also recommend couples read and study, “Answers For Men About Women” and “Should I Call My Husband Lord and Master?” Both of these books were specifically written by Jim from his perspective to help the brethren understand.
For quite some time, the church has relegated women to “the back seat,” so to speak, by using the words of Paul. But when you take them in context with the rest of the Bible and the historical evidence from that era, one cannot deny how Yahweh called WOMEN to serve. Sometimes it was simply because they had gifts which He needed to put forth at that time, and other times it was when men were not able or righteous to do what He needed to have done. Deborah is one example of the latter.
I hope these words help you and will clarify things.
Blessings - Judith Garton
Let’s take some time to discuss the most well used form of gossip in the millennium: social media!
But shun empty chatter, for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will consume like gangrene,
2 Timothy 2:16-17a
There are six things which Yahweh hates; yes, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness who utters lies, and he who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-17
I often look at things that happen on social media among adults and say to myself, “If this were two children or teens, we would call this bullying!” Yet because “WE” do it as adults, we just call it “posting.”
I was never on MySpace, and I didn’t join the newer versions of social media until 2011. I was a bit behind the times. When I first got “on board,” I did the same as many do, posting daily updates of things I am doing, sharing funny memes, videos of cats, and what not. After a while, though, you do find yourself getting into heated debates, conversations, and sometimes even arguments on posts. It is easy to get caught in the melee. And, admittedly, I did as well!
Over time I learned, as some do, that I didn’t enjoy THAT kind of atmosphere. Instead, I changed to only posting ministry posts, prayer requests, and certain personal shares I felt would be uplifting to others. In recent months, we have all gotten into sharing political posts and “lockdown” posts as we keep up with what is going on this presidential election year. And, true confession, much of these last two topics has NOT been positive.
Currently, there are more than 10 platforms you can use to reach others around the world. We won’t go into name dropping them all in this article because you already know who they are and are likely using several of them yourself. These platforms are a hotbed for sharing the latest “truth” to ensure it reaches around the globe. Yet, one has to ask, what IS truth when it comes to social media?
My husband shared a story just this morning of seeing a photo posted. When he right-clicked the photo to search the internet for the original, he discovered the photo was of something completely different than what was being claimed. Had he just shared, and continued to spread the lie, who would have known? So many already had. Do you see how easy it is to fall into just sharing something you see on the internet?
Yet we are warned – many times in scripture – to guard our tongues and watch our words. We have shown this and more through our free e-book, The Sin Of Gossip, through our podcast series of the same name, and through this series of articles you are reading right now. Our Part 3 goes into some real-life examples of the difference between simply sharing updates on family and friends, or falling into the slippery slope of gossip.
It used to be, for a story to make the rounds, you had to schedule time with friends either out and about, or at someone’s home, where you could sit and chit-chat about stories you had heard recently. Quilting bees, canning sessions, or coffee time with friends were all great opportunities to spread the gossip to others in your neighborhood or town. Today, however, we have invited the coffee klatch into our homes – in some cases, for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Social media gives a false sense of anonymity in many cases. You are “safe” and “secure” inside the walls of your own home. You can say what you want, when you want, and how you want, then think comfortably, “what repercussions will there be?!”
Sadly, though, in many cases, social media has become nothing more than the internet version of the “rag magazines” that still, in some stores, grace the front aisles along the cash registers. Social media is easily filled with lies, deceptions, exaggerations, half-truths, and more. Several times in recent weeks, believers have shared random posts on various platforms which I checked by simply searching online for the information. Sadly, many times I find out that the information is untrustworthy, distorted, exaggerated, or worse, blatant lies.
Worse than just sharing these things is when I mention to someone that they ought to pull that down. I always back my request up with some kind of counter evidence to show the truth. Yet time after time I am shocked at how many believers refuse to retract what they originally published or shared. I am taken aback by the lack of concern for another reputation or well-being.
As believers, we should have no part in these things.
These are all things we are counselled against in scripture.
Social media CAN be a good tool to use in our lives – it can be used to spread good news, share family histories and stories, find old friends, keep in touch with loved ones who live far away. It can be a means of getting the word out on political truth, emergency information, business updates, and ministry sharing. It CAN have great value to us if we use it properly. I would like to challenge each of us, going forward today, to guard our literal fingers and thoughts which we share on social media, just as we would guard our literal tongues when we are speaking out loud.
Even on social media, we should be willing to uphold the principles we portray as our witness in public and in family. It should be even stronger online – because what we say will likely be shared. And one day it MIGHT go “viral.” If it does, and is false, it becomes like a critical case of gangrene that spreads throughout the body.
Rather than speak lies, deceptions, speculations, we should be willing to speak what is stated in Philippians 4:8 (WEB): “…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Please, let’s remember not to just THINK On these things – let’s SPEAK on these things.
Over the years I have come to think of posting on social media in THIS way: If you would NOT shout it from the rooftops in the center of town over a loud speaker for ALL the town to hear, AND BE PROUD OF EACH WORD YOU HAVE SPOKEN, then you ought not put it on social media!
Blessings and Shalom!
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Some time ago I wrote an article titled Why Do We Make Ravioli From Scratch. In it, I sound a bit sassy at one point where I mention that I make homemade ravioli because I CAN. But there is MUCH more to it than that. It isn’t just because I know how, or that there is a cost savings. One day we may NEED to do it without running to the store to buy a bag of manufactured frozen ravioli, and it is a comfort to know I have it covered!
So many people believe that the grocery store will always be there for them to run to and grab the things they have come accustomed to eating. So many believe that there will not be sacrifice in the future when it comes to our family’s comfort foods. We have gotten so spoiled here in the United States and many other countries with on demand conveniences.
Yet this “thing” we have been going through these last several months - I PRAY has shown that things may not always be the same as they were before. It is hard to say what is in store with “this drama.” Will it ever go away under our current presidency? Will it make a come-back? Who knows. It may stay the same as now, go away completely, or more likely – become a strange “balance” in between two places.
I recall listening to my grandparents, great grandparents, and even my parents when I was little. They would recall stories of being young during The Great Depression and suffering/struggling with having food in the house. My grandfather talked often of how little men were paid for all their hard work – only to be able to afford ONE loaf of bread to share among the whole family for an entire week.
Recent months have brought up a lot of discussion on the Mark of the Beast which people will take just to be able to buy food. Haven’t we seen a practice version of this mentality by governments commanding citizens to place an object on their face or be denied food? We have friends and relatives who have even been denied access to medicine if they don’t follow these directives. We are in strange times.
Over the years I have watched many people take the stance that “preppers” are nutty – but we aren’t. Instead, many of us are preppers because we have “been there and done that” in life. When I was young, for example, I recall times when my dad was out of work, laid off. And we scraped by. Yet I also recall when we HAD to go on “food stamps” because we NEEDED to eat. Mom and dad had three of us girls then, our little sister hadn’t yet been born. We just needed that extra help. There was also the time in Tucson when dad and mom were both working but making minimum wage. It was tough times. What if they had some kind of food storage stocked up in their pantry or basement during those times?
Even in my own adult life, I can recall at least two times where financial issues caused me to need food storage for a time to feed my family. And now, in 2020, many people have discovered that maybe setting aside foods in the pantry isn’t such a crazy idea after all.
Still, the thoughts of many turn to prepared foods that they can stockpile in their freezers, fridges, and pantries. While my mentality has evolved into thinking of ingredients that can be used to make and create MANY things if emergency arises. In recent years, this thinking has spread from just food into other areas of our lives.
A thought came to me last year, for example, yet I never put it into practice until this week. In trying to clean out our storeroom, I decided that it would be a good day to work down the pile of “projects” I had created for myself and pushed aside. In that pile was an idea for making rags for my dry mop. Rags that can be used wet or dry – for dusting or mopping. Over the years I have been one of those wives, too, who got comfortable using disposable everything. Now, I do have to confess, I am NOT ready to use washable “toilet paper” (aka wash rags!) or reusable “paper towels” right now. But I have officially stopped using Swiffer products. Sorry, Swiffer! But you won’t be getting more $$$ from our home!
I have to make a note here, because there are some in my life who will read this article and claim I am just trying to make it sound better. Or that I just don’t want to admit we can’t afford to buy disposable wet or dry rags for the mops. They will say, “Mmmmm, Judi is just trying to make an excuse for the fact that they can’t afford to buy all those products.” Yes, our budget is tight. Yet not affording them is just NOT the case. In fact, if I want to buy disposable dust cloths, dry mop rags, and wet mop rags, I can and have! No problem. It is as easy as just tossing some into your cart at the store.
However, I have several reasons why I stopped and will not go back.
1) I no longer need to! And this is a big one. Since I now have an alternative, I just don’t need to any more!
2) I DO LOVE my environment!!! My world is so very precious and I appreciate so much of what Yahweh has given us! I will say that I am not one of those people who goes around sacrificing farms to save a slug. However, I AM one of those who tries to decrease the amount of waste we toss out each week.
If I buy disposable dust rags, floor rags, or wet mop rags, those ALL end up in a landfill SOMEWHERE. Or worse. They take up space as trash and contribute to the ruining of our environment, physically and chemically.
3) Although we COULD afford them, there are other items we would like to stock up on for our food storage that currently take precedence. One box of wet wipes for the mop handle costs us about $9.00 here. My brain works this way: $9 is equal to two weeks’ worth of chicken when it is on sale; 5 bags of frozen vegetables I can dehydrate; 5 gallons of milk; or ALL the dairy we eat in one week. Cost and effect analysis demonstrates that $9 will buy nourishment, while the other merely cleans the floors!
4) I choose not to waste my money on them when I can easily use a washable rag which may last years. It is easily tossed into my washer with the load of towels each week, too.
5) I get to choose what kinds of cleaners I use for which task at hand. The chemicals on some of the disposable rags are just not something I want in the home. Between the overwhelming fragrances and the chemicals which linger, it makes for a toxic indoor environment. There are a FEW chemical cleaners that I DO use in our house – but that is VERY limited to about three products because, no matter what I have tried, nothing works better than these three at the tasks they accomplish! Our home will be clean without risking toxic chemical sensitivity.
I can honestly say, as of this week, we will no longer need to buy those disposable rags again! I finally took the time to sew up some rags that will do both wet and dry. We had an old towel, not so old that it was falling apart. But old enough we don’t want to use it for showers. I measured, cut, stitched the edges, and set them aside for cleaning day. One day this past week, I decided it was the perfect day to try them to clean up the kitchen floor which was getting grungy from all my trapsing in and out from the garden.
I am SO HAPPY! I can honestly say that if things hit the fan again and stores are short on cleaning products, I can use these handy little mop rags to wash our vinyl floors, toss them in the washer, dry and set aside for the next time. They can also be used to dry dust the floors and are the perfect size for dusting shelves, frames, and such around the house! Additionally, they can be used to scrub the tubs AND, while on the Swiffer handle, DUSTING THE WALLS AND CEILING FANS!
I LOVE these silly things. I only whipped up two, but will be cutting more this week and sewing them up, too!
Are they perfect? Not quite – my design is flawed in that it doesn’t stay very tight on the ends of the mop head. So, there IS room for improvement – but I already have a few ideas on how to fix that problem, like adding elastic. Now it becomes a fun experiment to discover which design will work best. In the meantime, I keep adding to the list of things I can do with them and asking myself, “WHY, WHY, WHY did you put off making these for so long??????”
These beautiful rags worked wonderful getting up all the garden dirt. I only needed the two because they are reversible. Our kitchen is big - with a large open eat in area. When the rags get dirty, you can rinse them in a bucket of hot water, flip them over and use the other side. The terry cloth is nice because it makes a great scrubbing surface that gets into the nooks and crannies of our vinyl flooring. One day I pray to make some that LOOK nicer than these and will share photos - maybe even directions!
I believe, if we had hardwood floors as I did in one of my old houses, these would also be nice for dusting those and leaving them with a refreshed shine. The multipurpose nature of such a simple creation is a wonderful blessing to our home and our world.
As I develop these a bit more, maybe I can encourage you to make a change, too.
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Yesterday, Sunday, September 20, 2020 was such a nice day. . . it was cool outside, sunny, and the fresh, clean mountain air an amazing preview of the fall season.
Some say I have a weird way of seeing things in the world. I don’t know, I never thought it was that weird at all, just how I see things. I have this knack of recognizing blessings popping up all over the place, and I am not ashamed to recognize from where they came.
Like this morning, walking the yard with Jim I found two woolly bears cuddled up on the lawn trying to stay warm in this chilly air that has crept in. I snatched them up and tucked them away in a safe spot of the garden, so they don’t get stepped on by us or by deer. Or the beautiful bright, rusty orange butterfly that flew by the window a bit ago to distract me and make me smile. Things like that always make me happy, give me pause, and help me recognize the value of Yahweh’s blessings. Well, yesterday was one of those days when His blessings were blatantly undeniable.
We ran to pick up our grocery order and some fresh produce. For the afternoon, we planned to have a pizza for brunch and just get some things done. Several times over the past couple weeks, we drove past this nursery, and I had seen a HUGE box off at the end of the parking lot packed full of “dead mums.” I got the impression the second or third time seeing them that I should ask Jim to stop. I wanted to ask the owners if I could grab the “dead mums” and see if I could bring them to life in our prayer garden. But I never asked Jim, thinking he would think me weird. Not even sure why exactly I thought that, I ask him to do weird stuff all the time!
We drove by them a few more times over the next several days, but I never did ask him if we could stop. Well yesterday, as we drove past on the way TO the grocer, I saw that box was now over the top full of mums – white ones and yellow and they really didn’t look dead at all. I have been wanting to add some autumnal flowers to fill out the prayer garden especially before Sukkot. But by the time we got done, I had completely forgotten all about stopping. That is, until we were right on top of the nursery, and there was no way Jim could have stopped in time without causing an accident.
When we drove by, I looked and there were even MORE mums in that box!!! GOODNESS WAS IT FULL!!!
As we drove toward home, I felt foolish for not remembering, and even more foolish for not asking to stop. I felt this strong impression, ASK HIM TO STOP! I said, “No, he won’t want to turn around now - we are almost home.” Again, “ASK HIM TO STOP!” In my head I replied the same thing only to hear ONE MORE TIME – “ASK HIM TO STOP!!! NOW!!!” Sometimes that Voice can be very insistent!
Feeling a bit unsure, again not knowing why, I said, “Ummm, Jim, if I asked you to stop, turn around and go back to that nursery back there – would you go? You see they have this huge box of mums at the end of their parking lot that looks like they are just throwing away and I was. . . .” I don’t recall how far I got into that sentence before he was turning around and going back! I finished explaining to him I hoped they would give them to me for free. And as we drove back he said, "Doesn't hurt to ask!"
When we arrived, I asked a woman out front if we could have them. She actually giggled at my request, almost as if she was saying, “They will never come back to life, but go ahead!” But all she said out loud was, “Sure.” So, we did!!! Friends, these mums are HUGE. One had a tag in it that said $34.99! I was dumbstruck – they had no pots, just open root, but they were holding together pretty well because they had been pot bound. They were a bit dry, and some were broken a bit on the stems. Jim kept telling me we were full, but I kept giving him one more, one more, and another one! We came home with 6 or 7 HUGE plants. If they have them again next time we go by, we are going to stop and grab more!
I planted all but two later that afternoon, watered them well, prayed over them and put berry bags to protect them from the deer. I plan to drop the other two in the ground tomorrow, and then, several of the broken stems actually have root starts on them, so they will go into pots of their own! I don’t care if they grow big enough to go in the garden or not – they will decorate our Sukkah in a bit!!!
But wait – there is MORE!!!
While I planted, Jim was mowing the yard. We have some of the most precious neighbors – one who comes often to help mow for Jim because all we have for now is a push mower for this “almost 1 acre” lot of land. It’s good exercise, yes, but some days you just don’t want to! Jim was doing fine yesterday when someone ELSE came along – a DIFFERENT neighbor from up the road and around two corners. Not one of our close neighbors. We don’t even know why they were driving down our little dead end street.
Jim said they pulled up, and volunteered to drive their big mower over to mow our lawn for him! The husband said he remembers when HE had to mow THEIR big yard with nothing but a push mower. His wife jumped in and said, “We really would like to do this for you – our good deed for the day!” Then they drove off! Next thing we knew, here comes the husband, on his mower, driving down the street, pulls onto our lawn and whipped it out in no time flat!
Jim came up to me after the gentleman had gone and he said, “WOW!!! Isn’t this amazing???? What a DAY FILLED with blessings!!! FULL of them!!!” I said, IT SURE IS!!!
I hadn’t even had time yet to brag to him about all the blessings from the grocery store! I saved that for later. For now, we are just truly feeling humbled by all that Yahweh does for us – the little things and the big things. Feeling greatly blessed.
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I often see little and simple blessings in the strangest places. This is one of those times.
A few months ago, we took some money we had set aside and went to our favorite home supply stores in town. We had a list of items we needed for the yard – things we had to put off for some time because of our budget being so tight. Yet that day we were excited to be able to afford many of them. I put the list together in order of importance, figuring that as we worked our way down the list, if there were things we needed to put aside for another time, we would just do that.
One of the items on my list was a Yard Cart. I had my eye on one in particular which was available at our first stop. I had looked online which said there were plenty still in stock. It was built like a wheelbarrow, but instead of ONE wheel, it had two. I figured it would be easier for me to keep balanced.
When we were shopping, we discovered they were all out of yard carts. I was so very upset because online said they would have plenty, but Jim suggested we try another store, or two. Which we did. At the last store, he suggested we just get a wheelbarrow – he knew how desperately I needed something with wheels to work in all the gardens this year, including the prayer gardens and the woods. I was so annoyed at having to settle.
But then an almost audible voice said I was being stubborn! I was, too – but then, Jim found something else! He discovered this cute little yard cart that, if I settled on the wheelbarrow, I could afford to get BOTH items. The little yard cart was PERFECT for all my sheers, scissors, hand tools, and even had room for my jar of plant food, Sluggo, AND Epsom salts!!! It was light weight, washable, drained and dried quickly, and so much more.
Suddenly, I felt a little silly at balking over the wheelbarrow. Jim, I think, could tell that I wasn’t excited at first, so he tried to tell me we would keep looking. But now I insisted!!! I wanted BOTH items. So, we got them both! I LOVE my little yard cart – it holds SO MUCH. But the best part of that purchase came after my using the wheelbarrow for just about 2 weeks. Not only have I been able to move pounds and pounds of soil to fill garden beds and level the Prayer Garden area, but through using that simple little inexpensive yard tool, I noticed an issue with balance I was having has improved immensely! With only one wheel, I am forced to not overload the tub which treats my back well, while still giving me the lifting exercise I need for my arms and shoulders. Then as I walk away, the unstable nature of the one wheel, tests me and challenges me as I go over the bumps and lumps in the ground. I am so grateful to go for walks without feeling wobbly or off kilter. AND, this is much more fun than going to a gym.
I did NOT expect these blessing to happen! What a wonderful unexpected gift. Not only has my balance improved, but I am also losing a little bit of weight at a time, and I am building endurance back up to the heat and humidity. I still don't enjoy those two things, but I can work outside for longer periods than last year. My immune system is improving, too, with all that fresh air and exercise as well as just plain enjoying all that outdoorsy stuff. Which ALSO makes me feel better all around!
Blessings to overflowing - All from buying a wheelbarrow!
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Recently a question came up: Biblically speaking, are we responsible for another person’s feelings? In other words, do our actions play a role in how a person feels? Initially I was somewhat stumped by the question, because over the years, I have generally been taught that how I feel is exclusively my responsibility. My initial reply was actually somewhat guarded, and I did come up with a few examples of how one person’s behaviours MIGHT lead to another’s negative feelings. Yet I was not confident in my reply.
Often in the mornings while I am getting ready for the day, I pray while I work through my daily routine. This morning, I was drying my hair thinking about whether or not I am going to be able to get into the garden later today with this heat. . . .and also found myself praying the deer didn’t eat the flowers in the prayer garden over night! Just a bunch of typical random thoughts running around in my brain.
As I was going through the morning, when I noticed that still small voice saying to me, “They asked you about responsibility, isn’t Yahweh’s example enough?” I didn’t quite understand it at first, but then another whisper, “Think on Yahweh’s wrath and from where it came.” Suddenly I realized this whispering was in response to the question about feelings. As I realized that, a deep feeling of confirmation washed over me.
And so, I thought for a bit. Suddenly cases from scripture started to flow into my thoughts - situations where Yahweh’s wrath is kindled. Times when He has been brought to the point of executing consequences upon His people when their behaviors resulted in Yahweh feeling anger. I found myself seeing why I received that message in the morning of how His example needed my closer look. Each time God was angry it was because someone did something against Him, His counsel, His teachings, or His principles.
“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.”
Numbers 11:1 KJV
“For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” Deuteronomy 7:4 KJV
These are just two examples of how someone’s deeds, what they do and say, can stir emotions in another. Of course, we know that Yahweh is in many ways different than we are, and He even tells us: Don't seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God's wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord." Romans 12:19
Yahweh is patient with us as well as loving and very kind. He grants us chance after chance after chance, still forgiving us along the way. And we are to be an example of that forgiveness in our lives, forgiving others as often as offense happens. Yet there are times when our emotions, including anger, are righteous or justified. The question, I believe, isn’t whether someone else is responsible for our emotions, but are they responsible for our actions based on our emotions? And to this I have to say, NO. We may feel anger, hurt, frustration or any other in the range of emotions, but “they” are not responsible for what we do with those emotions. Instead, we must accept that even in the worst of hurt, WE are responsible for our ACTIONS when we allow ourselves to be overcome with emotions which lead to improper actions.
If we become violent, angry enough to exact vengeance, or react in any other way which goes against the teachings of Yahweh in scriptures, then we need to know that we have gone beyond our realm of authority. Arise, Yahweh, in your anger. Lift up yourself against the rage of my adversaries. Awake for me. You have commanded judgment. Psalm 7:6 WEB This is a perfect example of what we OUGHT to do with our negative emotions – give them over to Yahweh in prayer and turn to Him to handle the situation. We could, though, instead of praying He exact judgement or wrath upon someone, pray for Him to handle it completely, remove the feelings of vengeance from our hearts, and fill us with peace and knowledge that He’s got this!
Let’s go over a couple of examples of emotions we might feel based off of the actions of others:
Trust – When a couple marries, they have trust in each other. Certain things each does during the marriage can build that trust to make it stronger, or damage that trust to make it weaker. Are the spouses then responsible for the emotions each feels? Yes. I believe the worst-case scenario would be in the case of adultery. It is very difficult to rebuild trust after the sin of adultery is committed. If the offending spouse, for demonstration purposes only, the husband starts to mimic the untrustworthy behaviors seen before, the hurt spouse, in this case the wife, will likely again lose trust in her husband. This is an expected response to the husband’s actions. Do you see the responsibility here for how the wife feels?
Now if the wife takes that lack of trust and acts out in a way that violates Yahweh’s commandments, those actions would be all the responsibility of the offended wife. Those reactions may have been influenced by her husband’s actions, but she should have taken all negative feelings to Yahweh. If she was feeling the lack of trust lead her to vengeful pursuits, she needs to remember that vengeance is Yahweh’s. Staying true to Yahweh’s teachings is the path she should have taken.
Anger – in dealing with a situation involving a friend or family member, they commit sin against you in some way which results in your being angry at what they have done. This is not the first time this has happened, they have set a precedence, and you are weary of the cheating, stealing, lies, deception, or whatever the violation. You find yourself getting angry, fed up, frustrated.
What do you do with that anger in your heart? It MAY be justified, and I believe that you MUST take this to Yahweh – not to friends and family, to Yahweh. Only HE can tell you truly if you are justified. And only He can rebuke you when not. If justified, too, Yahweh is the only one who can help you remove any bitterness or vengeance from your heart.
Hurt – Sometimes people do things that hurt us, bring us pain, disappointment, anguish, distress, or sorrow. Sometimes, too, they repeatedly do these things so the hurt can be ongoing.
Remember that forgiveness is key. We are taught to forgive and how often.
“Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?"Jesus said to him, "I don't tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:21-22 World English Bible
Forgiveness, to go into depth, needs its OWN lesson on our ministry page – but simply put, we need to let go and forgive. Yet, sometimes we cannot place ourselves back in the company of those who are toxic to us or our families. Many will try to convince you that, even in these cases, part of your forgiving them is that you must let them back in. And you do not. Scripture tells us that there is a large group of offenders that we must avoid. One simple example is bad company corrupts good morals.
(Found in 1 Cor 15:33)
Sometimes our emotions come all rolled into one big package, too. Hurt, anger, lacking trust present simultaneously. Then because they are so powerful, they lead to feelings of vengeance. There are times when we may feel these feelings so deeply that we don’t catch ourselves before our heart feels vengeful. We MUST remember at this point that what happens next is ON US. If we act on that vengeance, we will need to repent and turn it all over to Yahweh.
Going out into the world, into our families, amongst our friends, we also need to see the OTHER side. When have YOU been responsible for how someone feels? Are there things you need to repent of and ask forgiveness for?
I am NOT saying that we are responsible for their bitter root, hate, vengeance, or anything taking place in their heart. Yet our actions may be the initial seed of hurt, anger, or distrust emotion which then sprouts and takes root into these other sinful actions. We ARE allowed to feel our emotions because often those are based on our experiences with a specific person. These are the negatives. And yet we also learned to LOVE because someone DOES SOMETHING or THINGS that make us feel that deep emotion, don’t we? In fact, we love because HE loved us first…..
So I would have to say yes, there IS biblical precedence for someone being responsible for HOW we feel. . .but we should hold ourselves responsible for what we DO with those emotions. Yet as we feel emotions, let us, be a better example by living as counseled in the Word:
1 Thes 5:15 KJV “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.”
Proverbs 20:22 World English Bible “Don't say, ‘I will pay back evil.’ Wait for Yahweh, and he will save you.”
Matthew 5:44 World English Bible “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,…”
Romans 12:9 World English Bible “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good.”
1 Peter 3:9 KJV Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Ephesians 4:26-27 New Heart English Bible "Be angry, but do not sin." Do not let the sun go down on your anger, neither give place to the devil (don’t let the devil get a grip).
Leviticus 19:18 World English Bible "'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.
Shalom - Judith
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This is a question we received recently and felt it best to answer on the website for those who may ask it in the future as well: “Why is your website ‘Torah for women’ and not ‘GOSPEL for women’?”
The simple answer is that we are a ministry which teaches how the whole word of God is for our instruction. You see, many of us have been taught over the years that the “law is dead,” therefore we don’t need to follow the law. We have even heard teachers who teach that the ten commandments are not needed in our day and age, and don’t need to be followed.
Imagine that! Messages like thou shalt not murder, shalt not commit adultery, shalt not steal, shalt not bear false witness or covet - these no longer apply in life. Imagine doing away with the principle of bringing a good name to your family by honoring your parents. Or we don’t need to honor or respect Yahweh, nor to respect His name by refraining from taking it in vain. We also do not need to honor the day He set aside for us to rest as He rested in creation. Well, if you look around the world, especially in the United States right now, we are experiencing the consequences of this and as scripture states: you reap what you sow.
Don't be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal 6:7-8 WEB
Because we have sown a lack of respect for Yahweh and His Words, we are reaping the consequences of having low or no conscience among our young adults and youth, even many older people. We are reaping violence and disrespect for authority because for decades people have been taught there is no moral code, no respect for human life, no true love for neighbors. We have sown abundantly in lies and false teachings, deleting portions of His word for our own convenience or comfort, sown in the flesh, only to lead to reaping corruption.
Because the law has not been important enough to families for decades, because these principles are done away with or called archaic, because we have taught entire generations that all they need to do is love their neighbor, while not teaching them how to do so, we are here, now.
The word of Yahweh is a whole package, and although there are aspects of it that are not required because of the grace of Yahweh and completed works of Yeshua, there are still strong principles and instructions we need to follow to fully live as Yeshua lived. There are things we need to choose to obey to BE the best person we can be. Without those teachings, we are not going to be able to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22, 23a WEB
Torah for Women Ministries does not teach that a believer must follow these laws or commandments to be given or granted salvation – you cannot earn your salvation as though it is a prize. It is only through the blood of Yeshua that we have gained that salvation. Yet once we accept that salvation into our lives, we should seek after those things which exemplify Christ. He taught those things through his ministry and life. That knowledge is contained throughout the Word of God, and we should be led to follow those words.
We should seek to learn all we can about those things which build in us a good character that witnesses of Him. To be able to exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control, we should be led to follow the commandments and live the Word of Yahweh.
Yeshua tells us, “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 KJV
Many believe that the Gospel of Yeshua is now ONLY these two commandments – love God and love your neighbor. They believe all we need do is those two, yet if I asked you to explain HOW you are to do those two things, you would need to make a list of tasks to do or characteristics to develop. Where would you find those items you put on your list? It is not all about what "feels good." It is about right and wrong, and making choices that will nourish the change in your heart.
How would I LOVE GOD or show that love for Him?
How would I love my neighbor or show that love for them?
Yeshua tells us how in Matthew 22, verse 40 because he says that upon those two greatest commandments hang ALL the law AND the prophets. For us to fulfill those two important commandments, we must learn the law and the writings of the prophets written in The Word.
So why are we TORAH for women and not “Gospel for Women”? Because we want sisters of faith to know and understand that there is much more to being a disciple of Christ than just the New Testament writings.
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You hear a lot about how the world is setting the stage for worldwide digital currency. And people are voicing their opinions strongly on all sides. Even Jim and I have our thoughts on the matter and are spending time accomplishing things we need to in our own home and lives preparing for this possibility. Yet, one thing we are hearing above all the standard din, is concern which could lead to fear. I keep asking people who bring it up, one key question:
Is it digital currency that is the issue or is it that you are concerned about taking the “Mark”?
I ask this because, let’s face it, for the last several decades we have ALL been using digital currency, whether we like it or not. Many will shout out that they have NOT been, that they have only been using cash everywhere. But I am almost certain that somehow, somewhere they have used digital currency in some way. Debit cards, credit cards and direct electronic payments have been going into and out of your bank accounts for years. You have been paying your bills online, too, or maybe YOU don’t pay them – instead your bank does it automatically.
We have been doing digital for some time. The latest conversations are that it is going to become a worldwide requirement. Is THAT a real concern? Yes – for a number of reasons. We have all seen how the Euro worked – it had its pros and cons, it worked in some areas, while not in others. And that was just one area of the world.
Even more than the Euro experience is how many people are concerned all this is a sign of the Mark of the Beast mentioned in scripture. It IS possible that what we see happening now is a precursor or a test of methods for making one type of payment work for all things we need.
Conspiracy theory? No, just taking into consideration all the that we see happening – the physical evidence happening all around us. For example, the US doing away with giving change in many stores and attaching that leftover money onto your store card or a gift card. Doing this puts you in the position of being pressured into only digital payments. At our local stores there are options to use now if you don’t have a debit or credit card you can attach a card or bank account to things such as Kroger Pay, Walmart Pay, Apple Pay, digital coin wallets. Even Paypal is taken at some of our dollar stores and other businesses. I am sure that other stores around the country are doing the same. Cash is definitely STRONGLY discouraged these days.
How about the example of masks? How many stores started to forbid people access to food and other needs unless you are wearing their mark of choice right now? You know what I mean – the mask. We and those we know have experienced it – even at a pharmacy to pick up necessary medications. How many people, if you don’t wear a mask, show their strong disdain, even hate, toward you as though you are committing some horrific sin or crime? Some smaller stores, too, WILL NOT do business with you unless you are wearing the mark of the mask.
I am sure you could add your own experiences to this short list. As the evidence piles up, we can see a definite pattern of strange events to make us think about the warnings in prophecy from scriptures. The key is, though, the difference between watching with caution and purpose, or allowing it to set fear in our hearts.
We shouldn’t fear what is happening – not at all. Haven’t we already known for years what will be coming from Yahweh’s word? Doesn’t He also counsel us that fear is not of Him, that it IS however from the Adversary? When we fear, we may place ourselves in a position to think less clearly and may make mistakes or missteps which throw us off the path Yahweh would have us take. So, let’s not walk in fear, and instead be attentive to what is going on around us. As we do, we may need to adjust aspects of our life to fit into what is happening.
For now, there are ways around the ever-changing rules for obtaining food and supplies. We need to seize these opportunities whenever they arise. Sales to stock up, produce markets to put up harvest for winter, assessing local businesses who are more willing to assist us in these strange times. Seek resources that will work with you and your family.
Although there are still shortages of some items and in some areas, and although prices are rising on some products in many areas, for now we still have fairly easy access to much of what we need. Much of what we are doing is definitely still digital in that we may have to order online, pay online, and delivery men bring it to our doors or we pick up at stores. Use them, now, because one day soon that may change.
Now is the time we need to make the effort through prayer and discussion with our spouse to decide what we are going to do if and when that change comes. There seems to be a lot of discussion in various circles including government, news sources, and religious circles, that at some point in the near future our US government may request or require that we be vaccinated for this virus, or be denied access to food and services. Some states governors have discussed not allowing people to get or renew driver’s licenses without proof of the vaccine.
We need to pay attention to these threats and prepare ourselves and our families, NOW. We need to have our backup plan in place. If you cannot buy food without a vaccine, what will you do? If your local government says you cannot make a payment on your property taxes without covid-proof, what will you do?
f you cannot buy gas for your car?
Do you have a back-up food supply? Or local food suppliers? Abilities to garden?
Do you have a back-up financial supply or method?
Do you have things stored that you can barter?
I pray, in all of this, we do not worry, we do not fear, yet we sensibly take the words from Proverbs to heart. Take precautions, for ourselves and as much as possible, for those we love.
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” (Proverbs 22:3 NLT, Reiterated in Proverbs 27:12)
Take comfort in His word, too……
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9 KJV
- Judith Garton
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To reach this point in our series, we pray that you have listened to or read Lashon Hara parts one and two. We also hope that you have an understanding as to why our ministry does not teach “lashon hara” as a principle. Whenever I say this to people, it gets an interesting reaction because some will believe that this means we will tolerate gossiping, lying, tale-bearing, rumors, and such. That statement is not at all true.
As we have stated before, we are a ministry who follows the teachings in the Word of God which include a Biblical diet, the seventh day Sabbath and the Biblical Feast Days. We follow BIBLICAL teachings, not denominational or rabbinic teachings. In several of our other teachings we share why true disciples are not under the rabbinic legal system, in spite of how many believe we should be. As a result, we do not place believers under the judgment category of lashon hara. We don't NEED that system because we are taught to judge in the scriptures by using the scriptures.
Scripture is filled with commandments, counsel, and historical examples which show us how to govern the words which come out of our mouths. There is no need to go to man-made rules, especially flawed rules, for insight on what is gossip and what is not. Over the years, many have come to us with examples from their own lives asking if they are gossip or not. They ask, "Is this conversation or that one sinful or not?"
My hope is this article will give you encouragement to enjoy conversations, while not weighing you down with legalistic rules and requirements. There should be a way to ease your mind so that you will feel comfortable with friends and relatives, while not breaking Yahweh’s commandments.
Please remember, as we have said in a number of our teachings, we do not believe that following commandments is done to earn salvation. Your salvation comes through Christ, alone. Yet once you are saved, you should seek to ascertain how all your ‘beliefs’ are supported by and line up with what Scripture actually instructs. You should be led to follow those things which make you a better witness of Yeshua’s character in you, and an example of righteousness.
Now, let’s move forward.
A quote from our Lashon Hara Part 2 article. “We MUST be aware of our speech. That is very clear. Power of life and death is in our tongue – in the words we speak. God hates gossip (tale-bearing) as much as He hates six other sins – He calls them abominations. Speech is VERY powerful – it can make or break people’s spirits, their emotions, their testimony. Let’s face it, 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 we speak? Yes.”
The big question then, from many who contact us is: what CAN we speak about other people, and yet ensure we avoid gossiping?
We spent a lot of time in the other two articles covering what we CANNOT say. What we can do and should be saying is all wrapped up in Philippians 4:8 where it says, Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.
How is that for a great description of what we should be speaking of others? True, honorable, just, pure, lovely, good reports, virtuous, and praise – THESE are the words which should come out of our mouths of others when we talk of them.
There are two things in Philippians 4 that often get people into trouble, though. Let’s go over these first: speaking words that they believe are TRUE and JUST. Many times our mouths and minds may believe what we are speaking is TRUTH or is JUST about someone because they have, in our opinion, wronged us. Or in the case of truth, sometimes what we are speaking IS the blatant truth, yet speaking it may not be good for building others up.
What do I mean by this? Well, imagine you saw an alcoholic uncle going into a liquor store one day while you were driving around town. You know that he had been going through a rehab program and had not been drinking for some time, but then you see “this.” Now, you go home, call one of his children or another relative and start speaking about how you saw him there, and HOW LONG he stayed in there. Details and stories like this spread like wildfire in families and even in communities. BUT: Do you know ALL the truth? I can honestly say, no, you do not. You might believe you have ENOUGH information or you have “all you need.” But WHY was he there? Often that key element is the one big question that deeply should be answered. Many people start speaking their truth, though, before they have THE WHOLE TRUTH.
What if you discover later that your Uncle stopped there to drop-off flyers for his rehab group hoping to help others suffering from alcoholism? What if his car broke down and he was in there calling for help? What if he is someone’s sponsor, and the store clerk or owner called him to come pick the person up because they are too drunk to drive home? Before speaking your first truth, one ought to find out THE WHOLE TRUTH. This could easily be accomplished by taking the time to call him, ask him, in all loving kindness, “Uncle, I was concerned today as I was driving to the store to do some shopping. I saw you going into Linda’s Liquors and I was just checking on you to see that everything is alright.” If you feel that you are not at the relationship level with him to make this phone call, it MIGHT be appropriate for you to talk with ONE OTHER PERSON who IS in that position. But choose this person carefully, wisely, and through deep prayer, and choose your words carefully, too. Lest it backfire and create a reputation of your uncle you hadn’t intended to create.
That is one example involving what is true and appears just. My prayer is that you will be able to apply this example to other times when you are tempted to share truth believing it is just and right to do so. We have to be VERY cautious with these two especially and must always take into account the balance of scripture. Examine your own heart, your reasons, your motives for speaking: jealousy? Pride? Anger? Fear or worry? All of these would not be of Yahweh, and are spoken against in scripture. So going back to Philippians 4:8, we need to ensure our heart’s purpose is something that falls into “whatever things are pure.”
This What If section is designed after questions we have gotten from sisters who have asked for help in their own conversations and relationships with loved ones.
-- What if: Your loved one calls and starts talking about another relative to you. How do I know if they are just catching me up on family business and blessings OR that they are gossiping and spreading rumors? Which way is OKAY and which way is NOT OKAY?
I find this is one of the easier ones and it doesn’t just apply to family, but also to friends. Someone calls you and says, “Oh, my goodness! I have to talk to you about Jane! You are NOT going to believe this!” These words could be warning signs right off the bat – your radar should be on right away. If these words are followed by, “She just bought a house in Nebraska! She, her husband and kids are all moving there right away. Her husband got a new job there as well.” And then your loved one or friend starts to share all the details, makes comments about how you guys all grew up together and you share old stories from your childhood and youth.
Gossip or sharing? Sharing.
Why? Because it doesn’t demean, smear a reputation, stir up controversy, spread negative reports of another in any way. It doesn’t have any wrong purpose behind it, no evil reports, no tale-bearing, lies, falsehoods, sensationalization, meddlesome stories, or tall tales. It meets none of these negatives which are mentioned in scripture, and instead completely meets the qualifications in Philippians. Your radar can go down at this point and you can be assured that sin is not a part of the conversation.
If, however the warning words are followed by your caller’s list of all the horrid things Jane did in a situation, things are leaning into the sin zone. You CAN turn this around by trying to counsel your caller that they ought to be talking to JANE about this. It would fit right into Matthew 18:15 WEB "If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother.”
If your loved one continues to complain and gossip, you can also give them additional counsel on how to handle the situation Biblically, but at some point you may need to state that you aren’t comfortable talking about Jane in this way. That you are concerned you both may head down the path of sin through gossip, back biting, and rumors. Then ask your loved one if you can talk about something else.
This may cause them to become angry with you – especially if you have been their listening ear in the past. In their anger, you may have to deal with backlash about how you didn’t have a problem with it in the past. I have faced this myself and have learned there is a simple reply, “I know I have. And I apologize for that, especially if I have led you astray in that respect. Please forgive me. I am making changes in my life and in my spiritual walk. I pray you can respect that change in me, and hope it will help us both in our relationship, too.” I will be honest, it could go either way at this point. Sometimes the other person is very understanding, other times, not so much.
When talking to others about friends or family, or when sitting in on a conversation, keep it positive, uplifting, and pure.
-- What if I am having a critical issue with my mother, father, sister, brother, in-laws, spouse, someone in family, and I WANT to be righteous and kind – all while feeling terribly hurt or frustrated with the situation, and needing someone to talk to for counsel?
This one is complicated because it can easily float right into gossip if you are not extremely careful. In your hurt and anger, you could easily stray from the true intent of your conversation, which should always be to come to some form of plan or solution to handle your initial conflict. Asking someone, a good friend, pastor, or mentor, for help in this situation also could cause this person to recall sorrowful memories of similar issues in their own life, leading them into gossip about their own loved ones. You will both need to be guarded in an effort to protect yourselves and each other from sin.
There are times, though, when we DO need help – we may feel as though we have done all that we can. Turning to someone who we value and asking for assistance can bring us peace and even new ideas on how to word something, how to address something, and even may bring rebuke to us that we need. There are times, even in my own life, where I have talked with a dear friend and they have been very direct and blunt with me. Pointing out to me what I need to change in myself. Times when I may have felt justified, yet was instead, self-centered and prideful. Let’s be ready to take that counsel – even if it comes in the form of reproof, correction, or rebuke!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (WEB)
In cases where we definitely do need to reach out to someone for help, we should first and foremost choose our confidant wisely and prayerfully. Use discernment and wisdom choosing someone who will not be a gossip when they leave your company. We should begin with prayer, if the situation allows for it, and ask for prayer when we finish. We should also go into it with an open heart and mind, as well as kindness and love.
We know that grudges, vengeance, unjust anger, gossip, backbiting, and other things that may occur during our conversations are all addressed in scripture. We don’t want to fall into those things, and we also want to be ready to do as is in Proverbs 19:20-21 Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end. There are many plans in a man's heart, but Yahweh's counsel will prevail. (WEB)
-- What if my friend starts talking to me about another friend? Is this wrong? If that friend is talking about it to look for a solution, is this acceptable?
Again, we need to use caution. If our friend who is talking is truly looking to make amends with the absent friend, then please! Do give advice on how to approach the situation from a Biblical perspective. You may also feel prompted that it is time to let the other friend alone for a time. No matter what has happened between you and the absent friend, this is not the time to feed any hurt or anger with something that may have happened to you with the absent friend. This would be crossing into gossip, back biting, and will only get out of control very quickly, leading you both into sin. This type of situation often happens when there are more than two people talking, too – you and friends are having coffee or lunch and before you know it, an absent party is brought up in a negative light.
Remembering what we discussed in the previous “What if” section, you CAN find a way to turn things around, or remove yourself completely from the situation.
-- What if I just want to sit and talk over coffee with a friend or loved one and catch up on life?
We need this. It’s just nice to have an outlet for bearing one’s soul; someone with whom you can share life’s goings-on, our own or those of others. Hurts, frustrations, disappointments, anxieties, joys, celebrations, inspirational moments, accomplishments, you just want to share them with others. When does “sharing” become inappropriate or self-seeking?
Let’s set the scene: Pretend for a moment that your having lunch with one group of friends and one of them remembers she needs to give you a heads up on the fact that another friend has moved in with her elderly mother. She shares how this friend lost her home to a fire. She shares emotions your other friend is going through, all the ups and downs with fire inspectors, adjusters, insurance companies. The challenges she is has in trying to find a new home. Your present friend is just letting you know what is going on. In case you wanted to help, a fund has been set up at the bank. She shares the address to mail in a check, or explains how you can mail something directly to your friend at her new address.
Next you guys start reminiscing about growing up together and how much fun it was. You share laughter, experiences, memories, and events that took place. This is similar to an example I used earlier. Everything is fine to this point – no gossip or back biting involved at all. Your whole group is enjoying catching up, while showing concern for your absent friend and the struggles they are going through. These kinds of conversations between relatives or friends are how we stay involved in other people’s lives. It is how we stay connected, show charity, be compassionate, love our neighbor.
In this day and age when we are so restricted on how we can spend physical time with our extended families, we need to know that these conversations are okay when they do happen. Even if we spend a little time sharing frustrations from the past, we can help others work through problems or emotions they are dealing with. We need this and are suppose to seek good counsel – scripture tells us this.
Proverbs 19:20 (KJV) Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
Proverbs 1:5 (New Heart English Bible) A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will attain to sound counsel.
Now, imagine suddenly, your friend begins to change the conversation to discussing how she was angry and hurt by something your absent friend did 20 years ago. She starts to talk about how rotten it was, how she has never been able to forget what happened. Then she starts to lure you into talking about other incidences where similar happened to YOU. She tries to draw you into the negative conversation and tries to lure you into saying nasty things about your cousin.
What do you think about this example?
Clearly the first part is NOT gossip – even if you are just going down memory lane and reminiscing, it is not gossip. You all simply want to help in what is happening to your other friend. How things have changed, and how she is doing. An update is not gossip.
A conversation, though, that transitions into negatively addressing events that should be long forgiven, this crosses into gossiping. Although it, too, simply may seem to be reminiscing, it also has conflict behind it. The absent friend isn’t there to share her side of the story, nor is she able to defend herself against what is being claimed. This is no longer just going down memory lane. The motive behind the second portion of the conversation is what clearly draws the line.
If the historical events weren’t brought into it, let’s remove that part of the conversation and instead imagine you transitioned from the initial update into complaining about your friend's life, how she has chosen to live it. It might have been easier to see the gossip starting. But because it was wiggled into memory lane, it may not be as obvious. These are times we just need to be ready for if we fall into sin. We have the blessing of grace and we can repent of such things.
What we need to do, is work diligently so we are able to find the righteous balance in these situations. If we use these examples that I have given as foundations for helping us analyze how we speak with and about others, we will prayerfully see a change in our conversations.
My hope is that this has helped you in identifying issues in how you speak, how to improve your conversations, ways you might find yourself getting stuck in gossiping situations, and given ideas on how to get yourself out. I pray we each remember that we want to be witnesses of Yeshua in our lives – and that we want those we come in contact with to see the fruits of the Spirit exemplified in us.
Will we be perfect? No – but we certainly can be working on being better.
Blessings and shalom.
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I love chamomile tea – it is such a blessing if my tummy hurts from stress, to calm my digestive system, and to relax me when I just need to relax. It also smells SOOOO LOVELY in my teacup. Last year for the very first time, I grew chamomile in the herb patch in the veggie garden. I was so pleased that it grew and I was even able to cut some to supplement our store bought teas for winter. It always felt satisfying when I could pull a little home-grown herb out of the freezer to enjoy in a cup.
THIS year my goal was to grow a huge patch of it and dry a ton, so we never had to buy it again at the store. I planted seeds in starter-packs, placed them in a sunny window and waited. All those seeds I planted only produced a few plants, maybe 5 or 6 total. Two in particular seemed to grow pretty large in the pots, and when they were ready, I helped them to adjust to the outdoors a few hours each day.
I picked a spot in the herb patch of the veggie garden and planted all 5-6 in a little circle, allowing them enough room to grow. Two survived. I was so very sad. I knew two would not be enough to grow a huge patch for winter teas. So, feeling disgruntled, I prayed over them in my dejected tone, and just hoped in my heart that Yahweh would bless us. My deep hope was to harvest for teas, plus gather enough seeds for next year’s attempt to grow a much bigger patch in the prayer garden.
As summer wore on, I watched those two survivors grow, and amazingly, they grew twice as large as last year’s plants. Finally a small flower head seemed to pop out of each plant. As they grew the stalk from the larger plant seemed to clearly tower over the littler fellow. Then it spread apart, and produced flowers – about TWENTY OF THEM!! The flowers bloomed beautifully, drawing plenty of bees to the garden. I decided, though, with only about 20 flowers, I wouldn’t save any for teas, but would let them go to seed and harvest those for next years planting. Maybe, I thought to myself, Yahweh would bless them to be so filled with seeds that I can attempt a second planting this year to harvest flowers for fall.
Next thing I knew that flower stalk had 40 flowers on it, then 60 flowers, and now I have lost count! There are plenty to harvest for seeds and some to harvest for teas! How two small plants, grew so large, then produced so much - I don’t know what happened other than Yahweh’s blessings! It just kept flowering and flowering and flowering and is still flowering here 4 weeks later. A completely different experience from last years crop.
I still didn’t pick any flowers for teas. But I plant to and maybe if more new plants come up, we will have more than enough THIS year to not have to buy from the store.
I am very excited at the seeds we have harvested – I have planted a patch of about 1 teaspoon of seeds directly around the two plants. Plus I have harvested at least 2 tablespoons of seeds for next year! I have so many seeds now I can grow a HUGE patch – or two maybe three or four patches of chamomile!
I am always amazed and ever grateful for how Yahweh opens up the flood gates to provide what we need and MORE! He is so good, ALL THE TIME. Praising Him as we enjoy the blessings. . .
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Right around the same time as the “pandemic” hit the United States, I decided I was taking a sort of break in things – I set aside much of the ministry, and seriously focused instead on gardening again. The lockdown, country, family, and other things I was dealing with only gave me encouragement that it was time for a little re-evaluation.
On my social media page there are several posts of all that I am trying to get accomplished outdoors during these weeks – hand-digging our front drainage ditch, replacing the front wooden walkway with stones from digging up the gardens, digging up the gardens and the woods to level and plant a much improved prayer garden, completing the trim around our firepit, planting the veggie garden, planting flowers in the prayer garden, and so many little things around the house, too.
During these adventures, I have been spending time talking with Yahweh about different things I needed to find peace in. In all things, He repeatedly has told me to turn things all over to HIM and let HIM fix them. That seems to be a challenge for all of us in these modern times. I cannot count how many times I have said, “Okay, Yahweh – it is YOURS.” Only to assume responsibility for it all again, placing the weight of it all back on my own shoulders.
Some days I just picture Yahweh sitting, face in hands and shaking his head at me while saying, “Child, you said you had given it all over to me.”
Recently, though, in an effort to truly find peace in turmoil, I have been working harder at “Letting go and letting God.” And it has been such a relief! I find there is release for myself as I surrender control of different conflicts, and there is freedom for so many others as Abba has full control over those situations. I constantly witness now how He brought about the plans He had for so many. Whenever I do something like this, I start to see how I have stood in the way of Yahweh many times.
The more things I have let go of, the more I have heard again the frequent whisperings of the Holy Spirit – even as I work. One example of this is Borage. Yes, the herb borage that grew in our garden last year.
I can almost see the confused looks on several faces.
Let me help untangle it all – Last year, I started borage seeds indoors, then planted the seedlings in the veggie garden to help protect the tomatoes from those wicked horned worms! Sadly, many were eaten by slugs, while others died, and I was left with only a few. The blessing was that it still worked wonderfully, and we only ever got ONE of those critters, which I caught and destroyed.
For some reason, I was never able to harvest any seeds from them last year’s borage and only had about 20 left from my seed packet. I tried planting a few, and they did not come up. I tried again a couple weeks ago, and none have sprouted yet. I am still praying over those that they will sprout for the Prayer Garden.
Now, in the meantime, while working in the prayer garden area clearing sections out, I have seen a number of hummingbird moths. They are the parents of the wicked horned worms! Although I love hummingbird moths because of their uniqueness, I have come to despise their children! I knew by seeing more adults, we might get more children! THIS was a warning sign. Needless to say, I became a bit concerned. In the evenings, I was searching online for deterrents for the caterpillar creatures because I didn’t have ANY Borage coming up as yet to protect our tomatoes. I know how quickly they can destroy a patch of tomatoes.
What I didn’t know was how Yahweh was working in the background.
You see, this weed came up in the garden just as I finished filling the second raised bed several weeks ago. I kept meaning to pull that annoying weed – it grew pretty large quite quickly. I may have even tried once (maybe twice!), and it would not let go of the soil. I told myself I would dig it up “later.” As it grew bigger, it became time to plant our tomato plants. I had planned to plant them in the THIRD BED, but it wasn’t anywhere near ready as yet because I hadn’t added soil. I thought I would just go ahead and put them in the third bed area anyway then add the additional soil as they grew.
I set to planting them and felt a VERY strong need to plant them directly in the center of the second bed instead, going from the middle, northward toward our strawberry bed. This area was JUST to the right of that annoying weed. So, I reached down to pull the weed and felt a distinct impression, “Don’t pull that weed.” You question it at moments like that – was that in my own mind? Hmmmm.
Again, “Don’t pull that weed. NOT YET.” Okay, I won’t. Then I got back to work planting tomatoes. I also planted peppers just to the left of those tomatoes. I reached down again to pull that weed, and felt a distinct impression, “Don’t pull that weed. Not yet.” I KNOW how I react, so I can attest to the fact that somewhere in all those direct statements I had to have asked, probably snarkily a few times, too: “WHY NOT????” No reply. But again, “Don’t pull that weed. Not yet.”
Yesterday, July 29, 2020 I went out into the garden and my eyes welled up with tears as I saw the slightest hint of blue on top of that weed. “Could it be?” I asked in my own mind, and yet I already KNEW it was. . . It is the biggest, most amazing borage plant I have ever seen in my life! It is easily about 18 inches across, with HUGE leaves. Even the young leaves are large!
Suddenly I thought of that scripture, “For I know the plans that I have for you,' says the LORD, 'plans for your welfare, and not for calamity, to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
He surely did know the plans He had for us – He knew that we might have an issue this year with those worms and He prepared a protective force to grow right where it needed to be. He also ensured by impressing upon me through the Holy Spirit when it came time to plant those tomatoes. He showed me how greatly He was watching for our welfare and the welfare of our plants, prayerfully preventing calamity. It very much did give me great hope and promise when I saw that bright flower opening up.
When I look at all the little pieces He had in place and all the warnings He gave me not to pull the plant – which I no longer call a weed! All along the way, He was instructing me:
- to listen to the Holy Spirit
- to be patient
- to trust in Him more
- to recognize all of those things had been lax in my heart due to the frustrations in life
- to know that He is caring for us in even the tiniest of ways
I am now learning all that borage is good for – and several of those things I need right now to help heal my body due to stress-induced issues I am experiencing. I am excited that Yahweh has thought, again, to bless us in spite of my humanness. He has watched over us greatly, and I could not be more humbled.
Except for the story of the chamomile. I’ll save that for another day. . .
Blessings and Shalom
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 KJV
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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
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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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