In advance of tomorrow and next week's celebrations, I wanted to say:
A blessed Rosh Chodesh Tevet and a Happy New Year to all.
What perfect timing this year for our calendar to play out – as we get a new beginning in two ways. A new month promises great blessings each and every time one comes around. It is a time to close out the things from the previous month and lay claim to the new things Yahweh has in store for us for the year 2020.
This is also the time of year when many who celebrate a new start of their calendar will choose to rededicate their lives to greater accomplishments. Whether in business, personal life, health and fitness, or somewhere else, many choose this time of year for rededication – which is perfect for those of us who follow Yahweh’s calendar to share with those around us about Hanukkah.
We are just past the midway point of the holiday time as we will be lighting the fifth candle tonight in our hanukkaiah. What is Hanukkah all about? It is a time when warriors, The Maccabees, fought against all the evil forces who tried to come against Yahweh’s people. A small group stood against those evil force, and reclaimed the Temple of Yahweh that had been defiled and desecrated. Upon reclaiming, they relit the candles on the menorah, rebuilt, then rededicated the altar. They also rededicated their lives to following His principles and teachings, just as many will do at this time of year for themselves.
May you be blessed in your endeavors and promises to yourself and to Yahweh!
As a handy helper for those who will be working toward following the Feast Days in 2020, we have put together the list of Holy days we will be celebrating so that you can mark your calendars. We are attaching it below in a handy printable format so that you can print it out for your family.
If you prefer to print each month individually, we use the following resource to design the calendar to fit our needs:
Also, for an explanation as to why we prefer to follow the Hillel calendar, please see our book on the topic at:
A quick note here: Often the Hillel II calendar has extra days for certain Holy Days – they will list the celebrating of two days. For example, rather than one for the time of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), they list two days. Should this appear, we follow the Biblical teaching of the Hebrew date upon which it is supposed to fall, not the calendar dates. If we see this approaching, we will do our best to give you a heads up and quick explanation.
In 2020, it is our hope and prayer that many great and wonderful changes will be taking place in all our lives, just as it is our hope and prayer each and every day for the same.
May you be blessed.
NOTE: When the PDF opens, the blue links can be direct accessed to HebCal with more information regarding those calendar dates. The PDF can also be easily printed for your home display.
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Calendaring for 2020
When we look at what scriptures say about sexual immorality, we will see that the term often used in Greek is “porneia.” This Greek word is the origin of English words such as pornography or pornographic, which are very unmistakably defined in English speaking countries as sexually explicit acts and materials. Additionally, when exploring possible translations for “porneia” into English, we see terms like whoredom, fornication, and idolatry used. Words that fit right into the standard impression of pornography. All this added together creates a picture of what many would describe as compromising one’s sexual purity.
Many in modern society seem to feel morality is a very grey area, others feel it involves only premarital sexual relations, yet those who desire to stand with traditional morals see this as surrendering sexual purity at any level, including after marriage. One might ask here, after marriage couples have clearly had sexual relations, so what can then be surrendered?
Sexual impurity within marriage can happen when people stray from Biblical truth, and would involve selling off or sacrificing that which is supposed to remain sacred to the marital bed. Someone who goes outside of marriage to satisfy sexual desires of any kind is selling-off the intimate relationship which belongs solely between a husband and wife. The intimacy as Yahweh designed it to be – one man, one woman, one flesh. Sexual immorality would, therefore, be defined as any type of sexual expression outside of a Biblically defined marital relationship, which The Savior speaks of:
“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Matthew 19:4-5 KJV
What does scripture say about the consequences of sexual immorality? First, we need to look at
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Those who stray from Yahweh’s teachings on morality will not inherit the kingdom He has planned for the righteous. If our hope lies in being with Yahweh for eternity, then we ought to follow his counsel.
Now, some teachers teach that sexual immorality is a form of idolatry. In fact, we are one of those ministries who believe this can be shown in scriptures. “How is sexual immorality tied to idolatry,” you ask.
The scripture quoted above is from Paul, who issued this counsel during a time where pagan religions were still strong, and idol worship was very much a part of many people’s lives. History shows these pagan religions weren’t just continuing to attend temple worship for social aspects. These temples still very much included the worship of specific idols. A large part of that worship involved sexual immorality, temple prostitutes, as well as immoral acts committed in the names of their false gods.
Our bodies, as believers, are the temple of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of this, too:
“…don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own…” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 WEB
As the Temple for the Holy Spirit to indwell, we should not be using that temple to mimic acts of pagan religions. This would be sin. You can see how Yahweh feels about these acts: they are detestable and have eternal consequences. Continuing in this lifestyle would be dedicating your Temple to an idolatrous life and profaning Yahweh’s Holy Temple.
Jesus says to people in the Bible to go on their way, and sin no more. (John 8:11, John 5:14) At the Pool of Bethesda he adds a clause, “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14 KJV)
This is just one example of warning that is written for us in scriptures. Sexual immorality counsel in scripture is often accompanied by warnings which we should heed, just as the man at the Pool was told. (Rom 1:24, Gal 5:19-23, Eph 4:18-19).
There is irrefutable proof that sexual immorality renders one unfit to be in the presence of Yahweh. If what we seek is to be worthy of being in His presence always, we need to remove sexual sin and impurity from our lives, move away from any temptations, repent, and return to God’s design for intimacy.
Additional Scripture References:
“God gave them up [also] in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, to dishonour their bodies between themselves:” Romans 1:24 Darby Bible Translation
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:19-23 WEB
“…being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Eph 4:18-19
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December 2003 was a tough one. I remember when dad had called sometime around Thanksgiving that year. He was almost begging me to go to my sister’s in Ohio for Christmas that year. He kept insisting it was going to be his last. I don’t remember if I had ever given him an answer because I kept thinking that if I said no, maybe he would have more faith in Yahweh’s healing power and miracles. I always believed he would be healed of the disease that attacked him.
Then things changed. To be honest, I don’t even recall what day I received the phone call. I just know it was before December 24th. I know that he and mom were out picking up things for their trip from New York to Ohio, including, I believe, a Christmas tree.
Christmas was always a BIG DEAL to dad. From Yule logs in the fireplace (even when we lived in Tucson!) to presents and stockings, Dad was “all in” for Christmas. The tree was always very important to him, too. Our family did Christmas BIG.
Even when my kids were little, we did everything every other family did, and more! I learned as a young mom how to bake gingerbread and make gingerbread houses. I LOVED constructing and decorating them with all sorts of hand-made decorations, as well as all sorts of foil-wrapped candies. One of my favorite candies to use was always those spearmint leaves. They made adorable bushes around the houses, all topped with little plops of frosting snow. One year the kids and I made about 28 gingerbread houses all decorated to the hilt – we gave them out as gifts to youth leaders, teachers, music instructors, and close friends. It was such fun to give a hand-made gift from our hearts. The kids treasured that time we spent creating those gifts.
So, there we were in 2003, receiving the call none of us expected, and the kind of call everyone dreads. Especially around the holidays. Dad was in the hospital – in ICU. He had been battling against Hep-C for some time, as well as the attacks against his organs from that disease and the drugs to fight it. He had been fighting hard and fast. Yet, there he was, suddenly critically ill. My heart sank. But I packed, fully convinced this was just a quick trip, and that he would be JUST FINE. A short 24 hours later, we all knew better.
There we were, gathering as a family, getting ready to say goodbye. Those last hours were so hard, horribly painful, and yet so beautiful all rolled into one. A lot of the details escape me now, many just in a fog – probably my own way of not letting it stir in me the same hurt I felt back then. Yet there are other details that remain emblazoned upon my mind as if written in indelible ink forever. Things like walking into the hospital room and seeing my adorable just-turned-9 son, hands folded, kneeling in prayer by the bed-side of his precious grandfather while also singing Silent Night. The grampa who understood that little boy’s love for science and nature better than anyone on the planet; the grandpa who used to send him those colourful instructions for science experiments from the Sunday Funny papers.
How I rubbed my father’s arm, talking with him and praying for him, while with every single breath, he quietly called my mom’s name. Literally with every single breath, as if he had something of great importance to tell her. “Carol. . . Carol. . .Carol. . .” The worry I felt in my heart as I anxiously awaited the arrival of my two eldest who were driving to get there in the midst of the snowstorm that had crept in off Lake Erie.
I remember even praying for that snowstorm to hit the following day so that the kids could enjoy the sleds and hills near the cottage. I sat there talking with dad and saying how I KNEW he felt it was time to go home, I begged him to wait for the girls to get there to say goodbye, and I remember asking him, “Dad, it’s Christmas. If you could, give the kids one more gift before you leave us. Make it snow. . .” I KNOW my dad didn’t have the “power” to make it snow – I knew that was all up to God. Yet it was the simple thoughts and distractions I used to fill the final hours with my daddy.
Then, he breathed his last breath. I don’t recall what time it was. I just know it was December 24th, Christmas Eve, 2003. And the man the kids had always thought was their Santa Claus, had gone home to be with God. We awoke the next day, Christmas morning, deeply saddened and heartbroken, yet filled with such peace and joy at the same time. We needed to celebrate with the children who were excited about opening gifts, yet crying because Grampa wasn’t there. We needed to keep going because that is what he had wanted. In our hearts, we all knew that Christmas was the perfect time for him to go home – his favorite holiday. Yet we also wondered what the coming years would bring as the season approached each and every year. How would our hearts handle it?
The kids opened presents, and Justin got the sled he had been wanting. So, we bundled up and went next door to where mom and dad lived. There were BIG hills to sled down. We stayed out for what seemed like forever, having such a fun time! The rest of the day, we drank hot cocoa and reminisced about all the fun times he had with dad.
We all, even mom, went from laughing to crying to laughing again. We all knew that the next day, December 26th, we would be planning the funeral or memorial service. And we did just that. People came from all over to say their goodbyes. The funeral home was overflowing with people! So many that they couldn’t all fit for the memorial service. Many had to simply pay their respects and leave. The final words were spoken, then the veterans paid their tribute with Taps and the gun salute. And we all gathered Dad’s things and went to the dinner provided by the Tea Ladies in town. Then back to mom’s house.
The time flew by, we said our goodbyes, everyone went home. I stayed behind with mom for a bit extra. She had asked me to stay, and I was so glad I did. We got that chance we needed to create a new bond together, become adult friends, which we had not had time to do as yet. It was precious. When I finally went home, it was back to business and busy-ness of homeschooling, day trips, and living life.
There you have it – my Christmas story. You know, many people believe that Dad’s passing on Christmas Eve and the events around it are my reasons for why it was so “easy” to “give up” Christmas. I have even heard some in my own family make that claim out loud – that because dad died on Christmas Eve, I could just tuck it away and ignore the sadness that might creep in each holiday season. Yet that is not true at all. It wasn’t until about ten years later that I started to discover how I wanted to celebrate the biblical feasts instead of the typical holidays.
There were ten years of holidays where I dealt with my personal grief and mourning around the December holiday times. And to be completely honest, it was the memories of that Christmas Eve, the fun times as children, and the joys of raising my kids with the holiday traditions that make it HARDER, not easier to “Quit Christmas.” Yes, I said it – those memories tug at my heart-strings every year, even to this very day.
A friend recently said to me that these are the things that make it so difficult this time of year – that tempt us to return to Egypt. And that is so very true! Missing the traditions we created, that have become a part of our very being. The photographs of the children in their “jammies” Christmas morning, of Dad, dressed in his red Santa hat handing out gifts from under the tree. Precious memories, all of them, and yet also, TEMPTATIONS.
Having mushy feelings, missing those traditions and still aching for time with my dad, the memories of watching little Justin sing Silent Night and beg Abba not to take his Grampa. Those are not going to turn me away from what Abba wants for me – and that is to follow Him. When it all comes down to brass tacks: I want always to know that I am working toward being the best ME that Yahweh can mold me into. And if that means I have to sacrifice the typical holiday season for that which He has taught me is true and right, then so be it.
I don’t often bear my heart full-open, I don’t often put it out there on my sleeve for the world to see. Not because I don’t like to share, but simply because, when it comes down to fulfilling the calling that Yahweh has placed upon me, the teachings, messages, and blogs I share are not based on my emotions. They may come from my experiences in life but are based on biblical teachings and principles – messages that Yahweh would have me teach to those who are seeking.
I know deeply how it is not easy to give up something that is such a part of your past, your memories, your life. Yet who are we? Yeshua asked the rich young man to give up much; he asked Peter to give up a lot and follow him. He told several who were healed, to go and sin no more (John 8:11; John 5:14), fully giving up their former life and desires. Each of these was asked to give up something that meant “the world” to them. What are we each willing to give up for Him?
As he was going out into the way, one ran to him, knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder,' 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not give false testimony,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have observed all these things from my youth." Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross." But his face fell at that saying, and he went away sorrowful, for he was one who had great possessions. Mark 10:17-22
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22
I quit Christmas not to avoid the memories of my father dying – I quit Christmas for Yahweh. Because I still have those joy-filled precious memories of great times shared with family and friends, they are there and always will be a part of me.
It wasn't easy when Jim started to discover details about our traditional holidays - things which made us question if they were right to continue. The more he researched and shared with me, the more we felt led away from those events which had initially meant a lot to us.
In the end, we quit Christmas because there are countless reasons as to why it is not a biblical celebration, AND it is a time of year where a number of Yahweh’s commandments are broken by participating in the celebration. Over the next few weeks, I plan to expound upon these in a series of articles, but for now my prayer is that you will search your own heart regarding this holiday season. And discover for yourself: is this what Yahweh would have you do?
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I want to take a few minutes to talk with those who are struggling over what to do about the upcoming holiday season. Many people have been led to observe the Biblical feast days. Some of these believers may be in a marriage where their spouse does not agree. This can lead to conflict because of the pressure to follow holiday traditions which one spouse believes are no longer appropriate while the other believes these are not only appropriate but also testify of Yeshua. These traditions may include others such as family, friends, or the couple’s former church group, too.
When the topic of attending comes up, a Torah observant person may feel pushed to participate in things like: making handmade Christmas cards; decorating houses or churches; gifts or cookies made for prisoners, soldiers, the local shelter, retirement home, or hospital; cookie exchanges; caroling; dinners, parties, and gatherings; gift exchanges. All these are things a Torah observant person may find objectionable.
What can couples do?
Here are some ideas:
1) How about having a one-for-one exchange?
For every event the non-Christmas observing spouse agrees to go to, the Christmas-observing spouse would need to do something for them in exchange. The non-Christmas activity should NOT be something in the distant future, such as “I will go to that dinner party, if you agree to celebrate Passover with me.” Spring feasts are too distant and may lead to future conflict if the non-Torah spouse becomes unwilling to fulfill their end of the bargain. OR, if for some reason their job or other circumstance prevents them from being able to fulfill their side of the deal.
Instead, an exchange of item-for-item at this time of year: For example, If you go to the church cookie party, you could bring Hanukkah cookies to the event. If it is a cookie decorating party, bring snowflake cookies or Hanukkah cookies to decorate. You could discuss with the other decorators how Yeshua was in the Temple court on Chanukah DECLARING himself THE Living Water from which ALL who are thirsty come and drink. This could even lead in to how ALL biblical Feast Days pertain to Him.
What about starting a new tradition with those same friends? If you go to the event, how about creating a “Snowman Supper” after January first? Waiting until after the first, you are out of the typical holiday season, removing a lot of the pressure for gift giving, and the Christmas table-talk. You could serve homemade breads, soups, and other warm, wintery foods. Plus decorate the table with snowmen and snowballs, serve snowflake-shaped Pizelles for dessert sprinkled with “snow” (powdered sugar!), or an adorable snowman cake.
Do you find yourself agreeing to go to the fancy company dinner? In exchange your spouse could sit one evening with you to make Hanukkah cards at home which you deliver to a local Jewish home? Or hospital for Jewish patients? If you plan ahead to make plenty of Hanukkah cards, you could send some of these to the event where church members make Christmas cards for the prisoners & soldiers – not everyone in prison or the military is Christian. You also might enjoy sitting with the group making cards, and make Hanukkah cards right there along with them! It would open doors to discussing the history of Hanukkah – the story of the restoration and rededication of the Temple.
If the church or group balk at the idea of accepting your hand-made Hanukkah cards, saying they only want Christmas cards because they are trying to teach about Yeshua, I have a helpful hint for that, too. Your reply could easily and kindly be, “I thought maybe this would help you get the foot in the door. What a blessed way to impress upon the Torah observant people that you respect how much they love the Old Testament. Then we can go back and teach them about Christ as time goes on! I LOVE to share new ways to get Christ’s foot in the door!” What can they say to that! You are helping in the evangelistic effort that may end up helping spread His Word!
2) I would suggest that if you decide to go to any party at all, an adult dinner party is the best option to choose for your attendance. Why? Because it is ADULTS. The likelihood of there being things such as Santa are slimmer than if children are attending.
Also, you can steer the conversation toward common topics: business, the world (although politics ought to be avoided because you are trying to avoid conflict!), books you have read, movies, or your latest accomplishments. There are so many subjects which can be shared that steer away from the holiday – so much flexibility!
3) As the month goes on, continue to choose from your spouse’s Christmas list of events those LEAST tense or stressful (AKA offensive) to you and your beliefs.
While attending, maybe openly and kindly discuss Hanukkah and the other feasts you have celebrated, using ideas we mention above. Remember to only do this IF you can without causing conflict. The people your spouse works with or knows in church may not understand exactly why you are so "different." Please, steer away from any condemnation of Christmas at this time. From experience, I can attest to the fact that this never ends well!!! People are very attached to holiday traditions at this time and this is NOT the best time to address someone with how everything they are doing is “wrong” or “sin.”
4) I understand how difficult it is to push aside SOME of the traditions this time of year because they are so obvious. Like going to that dinner party – you may find you have to sit and stare at all the decor around you. The restaurant or venue will be decked to the hilt with all the trappings of the season. Trees, lights, mistletoe, ornaments, greenery, and more – this can be very difficult to ignore. Yet, let’s look at it this way: if you are traveling, get delayed on the road and need to eat food – won’t you need to stop SOMEWHERE to eat? Yes. For that, won’t you need to ignore all those things that surround you and accomplish the task? Look at the dinner party as a similar thing.
I believe the most difficult part may be the constant Christmas music – it will be playing all night & will NOT be all Christmas hymns. You will be hearing about sleigh bells ringing, Santa Claus, Snowmen, snowfall, chestnuts, and such. These songs are a big difficulty for me, especially while eating. So many preach “Jesus is the reason for the season!” While at the same time singing about grandma getting run over by a reindeer!
How can you tune this out? If you have ever had a young child take lessons to play an instrument, you are probably already very good at TUNING IT OUT! Think of that Christmas music from the perspective of your young child’s practice time that very first day!
Tuning it out will help you relax a bit so that you don’t end up having the music make a knot in your tummy resulting in not enjoying dinner at all.
For number 5, I want you to consider doing this:
5) Ask yourself: What was the defining thing for you “quitting Christmas?” Does your spouse TRULY understand that part of your heart? I ask this because I have learned that I don't always say things the best way for Jim to hear them. I think I have expressed it well, yet we have a glitch. I may need to rephrase things. You may believe you explained it so that they understand, but this may be a time to ask them why THEY think you gave it up. They may think that you simply “hate” all the “nonsense” that goes along with it: Santa, materialism, and lack of focus on the Saviour.
Give them a chance to explain their understanding of your feelings, and then gently discuss any reasons that weren’t clear for your not celebrating.
It may take time to work out a plan together, and a lot of patience on both parts. You also may not be comfortable with temporarily finding a middle ground, but for now, it may be the best option for your family and your marriage. Please remember to do all of this in prayer as well as prayers together. Ask Yahweh’s wisdom and discernment, as well as His blessing upon all your efforts.
The key for us as believers is: PLEASE do not allow a strong belief and desire to follow Yahweh bring up in your heart a venomous bite that causes lashing out or angrily expressing your new beliefs. Instead try, with all gentleness of heart, to explain you are trying to avoid what the Bible describes as sin. Yeshua did not want us to sin – how many times in scripture did he heal people and then command, “Now go and sin no more!” Try to explain this to your spouse with all the love of Yeshua overflowing from your heart.
I will say, of all the battles we fight against Egypt, I think CHRISTMAS is one of the toughest - it pulls on SO MANY of our hearts and our memories, especially childhood memories. . . A dear friend recently said to me, “That is EXACTLY the reason that everything about this holiday bothers me so deeply…It is a HUGE PULL ON MY SOUL to return to Egypt.” JUST LIKE Egypt pulled on the hearts of the Hebrews in the Exodus.
My prayer is that you can try standing your ground, yet also try to enjoy your spouse’s love and company. May you be able to impress upon them the depth of your commitment to both Yahweh and your marriage.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Christmas Conflict and Bringing Peace to the Home
In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:6-7 WEB
This summer, I pushed myself too hard one day in the garden. I am used to gardening for hours on end, but I didn’t realize just how hot and humid it was outside. I tried to push through what I was feeling, but that was a bad idea. I ended up giving myself heat exhaustion. After I healed from that stress, I found the rest of the summer I was much more susceptible to over-heating while gardening.
A few weeks later, I recognized that I was truly stressed over the fact that I was not doing as much gardening as I had on my to-do list. I was angry at myself, I was frustrated, and the result was me making myself very anxious trying to get everything accomplished in one day. Between ministry, college, and household tasks, the garden was just stirring up in me a lot of things I did not want in me, but also did not want to admit.
I recall how, when I was doing one task, I was fussing and fretting in the background of my mind about the things that were not getting done. The more I fussed and fretted, the more I made myself anxious. The more anxious I got, the more I made myself angry, and then the more I fussed and fretted. I put myself into an interesting conundrum. I was so worked up inside, that I honestly didn’t know how to make it stop.
One day following my daily personal prayer time, I got this idea. I know the idea didn’t come from myself; it was clearly of Yahweh. The Holy Spirit whispered in me to micromanage my life. Now to most people that would NOT make sense and would not be a positive thing to do. Yet I knew it was right for me. So, I sat down and let the ideas flow while I drank a cup of coffee.
I knew that each module of my college class took a certain amount of time daily, cooking supper takes a certain amount of time, and on and on. The gardening was the tough one. It was overwhelming as the produce started to come in and the weeds came up. It simply looked like hours and hours and hours!
I figured out that on cooler days I could garden for about 30-minute spurts before I needed to quit. Hot days were about 10-15 minutes at most. So, throughout the day, I split up the tasks that needed to get done into micro-tasks and scheduled them throughout the day. Sometimes doing such small tasks as picking green beans in the morning, cucumbers around noon, and pulling weeds in the afternoon or evening. I expected this to alleviate the anxiousness in my mind, but it didn’t seem to work.
I went to Yahweh in prayer and asked what I was doing wrong. Suddenly I recognized that I was still fretting while I was doing other tasks. If I was cooking, I was worrying about the garden, cleaning, laundry, etc. But then if I was doing the gardening, I was worrying about college, cooking or something else! I found that none of the tasks were getting fully done, done well, or even enjoyable anymore at all.
I was trying, but things were just not quality work like I was used to from myself. Then there was the day I got a “C” on one of my quizzes in my class. I had been so concerned about something else that my grade had literally suffered – I wasn’t paying careful attention to the questions and answers. Now there was clear evidence what I was doing in my mind was becoming a detriment.
I had to do something more. I realized that I needed to go beyond just scheduling the micro-tasks. I needed to learn to shut off my brain running in the background.
It’s kind of like your laptop computer. Have you noticed that sometimes things are truly whirling around in the background while you are trying to accomplish a task? And while you are trying to accomplish that task, those programs running in the background slow you down and sometimes even interfere with the program you are currently working in.
On a Windows computer, you go into your Task Manager and you click “End Task” on programs or apps that are running and slowing you down. That is what my brain was like this past summer. It had too many programs and APPs running in the background and my CPU was running at 100% plus!!! The result was the program I was working on at that moment, slowed down and suffered because of all that unnecessary background usage!
Now I know, when I start to get myself worked up like that, I need to stop, and click “End Task” on all those thoughts running in the background. I take quick notes if I need to of what needs to be done on those tasks so that I can remember later what to expect from that task. Then I walk away. Thoughts and concerns, everything needs to be shut off and focus back on the task which needs completing.
I know. . . you may be thinking it’s easier said than done. YES! It is sometimes, and I admit that. I still get myself worked up a bit – I did it last Friday in fact. Yet once I stopped and took a deep breath, wrote down what needed to get done, and worked on one thing at a time, while turning off the concern of all the other things, I was surprised at how quickly I completed everything on my list.
Some days I forget that when Yahweh tells us to worry for nothing, He really does mean for nothing.
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My Brain Is Like A CPU
First let me say, we are not a ministry who follows the rabbinic teachings regarding the Feast Days. We make them simple and Biblical. Or as Biblical as is humanly possible. We don’t teach that they are commandments required for your salvation, either. Yet we DO teach that, once saved, we should feel that change of heart in us that makes us desire to live as Yeshua lived, and that pull to follow the commandments Yahweh would have us follow. This process brings us to sanctification, where we will be living in such a way that others will see the fruit in our spirits and in our every action.
So how do we follow and celebrate the fall Feast days?
We teach each new family to start by reading up on calendaring. Our Parent Ministry, Shofar Productions has a free e-book on the topic. This e-book explains why we follow the Hillel II calendar for calculating the Feast days through the year. I will point out this one detail: the Hillel II calendar DOES tend to have set aside two days for some of the Feasts which are only commanded for one day. WE follow the Biblical teaching that these days are ONE day only.
The example of this for our fall Feast schedule this year is that Feast of Trumpets is from Sundown on Sunday, September 29 until Sundown on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. We are honoring the one-day celebration starting on Sunday September 29th at Sundown to Monday at Sundown as the Bible states. For all upcoming years, we will be calculating the Feast Days in this same way.
Many will follow the Jewish traditions for Rosh Hashanah, which include a lot of baked goods and pastries, a big feast dinner, apples dipped in honey, honey cake, pomegranates, matzah balls, and the list goes on and on! Often, these traditions vary from Jewish community to community, family to family. We do enjoy eating honey cake, which happens to be one of my husband’s favorite treats this time of year, as well as pomegranates if they are fresh and lots of apples. But we do not adhere to typical, traditional Jewish foods on the Feast Days, with the exception of those things that are commanded in scripture (such as unleavened bread during that Feast Time.)
We also enjoy a wonderful feast dinner for at least one of the evening meals – this year we will be doing that on Monday evening because I won’t have time Sunday to make the big feast.
The key to Feasts is: what does Yahweh say we should do on the Fall Feast days?
Let’s start with Yom Teruah, The Feast Of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year).
In Leviticus 23 we see the Feasts of Yahweh given to His people. Yahweh tells Moses to instruct the people on the Feast days. He covers the instructions that are given for the spring feasts as well as the fall feasts. Leviticus 23:24-25 talks specifically of the Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah:
"Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 'You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'"
From these verses we can summarize that on this Feast Day, back in the wilderness, Yahweh commanded Moses and the people to do the following things:
Set aside the first day of the seventh month
Honor it as a Shabbat
Include the blowing of trumpets as a remembrance, a memorial
Have a holy convocation – a reading or meeting, an assembly
Do no laborious work – none of your job
Present and offering by fire at the Temple
Additional scriptures on Yom Teruah are:
Numbers 29:1-6 And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.
Simply reiterates the timing
The Holy Convocation
No laborious work
Blowing of trumpets
Sacrifices for “sweet savor,” meat offering, sin offering to make atonement which are in addition to monthly offerings.
And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: 6Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. (KJV)
No servile/laborious work
Blowing of trumpets
Offerings at the Temple
Nehemiah 8:2-5 contains an example of the reading of The Word of Yahweh before an assembly of all who would listen:
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 6And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (KJV)
From all these examples, we can conclude that this is the basic list of things that were done on Yom Teruah in ancient times:
Set aside the first day of the seventh month for the Feast of Trumpets
Honor it as a Shabbat
Include the blowing of trumpets as a remembrance, a memorial
Have a holy convocation – a reading or meeting, an assembly
Do no laborious work – none of your job
Present an offering by fire at the Temple
Starting at the bottom of the list, we no longer offer sacrifices at the Temple, especially sin offerings. Yeshua was our ultimate sacrifice and the Temple sacrifices are no longer necessary for us to accomplish. In addition, we do not have an active Temple, Tabernacle, or Levitical Priesthood to bring the offerings to.
Is there a third Temple being considered and planned at this time? It appears to be, yes. Is it completed according to Yahweh’s instructions? No. Is there a possible Levitical priesthood organized? It appears to be, yes, but there is no Temple at which to sacrifice. In addition, we are not required to sacrifice at this time as Yeshua has suffered, bled and died for us. We accept Him and His sacrifice for us.
We can, for now, remove that from our list of what we are to do on this Feast. We COULD, however, still teach our children the importance of the ancient sacrifices. We can teach them why they were implemented, how they were done, what they were for. We may also have an opportunity to share this with other adults, such as family and friends.
We are left with honoring it as a Shabbat, blowing the Shofar in remembrance or memorial, and having an assembly - all to be done on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. This might be a good time to recognize that it DOES simplify life if we are all following the same calendar year to year.
When we are divided into many different calendars it becomes complicated for holding a meeting with others who are Torah Observant – if we each celebrate Feast days on different months, in different weeks, on different days, how can we demonstrate to Abba that we are holding a holy reading, meeting, or assembly? We can’t.
So how do WE celebrate Feast of Trumpets using the Biblical model?
We work from home. Jim is self-employed. We know that when the feast days are approaching, he has to ensure enough work is done in advance that he can take off for the Holy Days. This may be something you need to plan for as well. If you work OUTSIDE the home, is there a way you can plan for a personal day or vacation day on the Feast Days?
If not, there are great ideas in our article titled Torah Observance in the Military that can be applied for even the civilian workplace. Try your best to do as little strenuous work as possible, but also remember your responsibility to your boss and fellow employees.
We plan ahead to do no work around the home, either, unless it is an emergency situation. We set aside all yard work, gardening, home repairs, housework, etc. All those can easily be done on another day. We have had emergencies crop up before, and we have been put in a position even to help others. We had a neighbor’s water line in the yard break one year. Jim went over to offer his help as they hand dug the line. They didn’t need his help in the end because another neighbor came along with his large equipment and dug the line in a jiffy! Another example was one Sabbath or Feast Day when our dehumidifier in our old house suddenly sprung a leak and shot water 6 feet into the air in the basement. THAT needed fixed immediately!
Remember to be kind to yourself if things happen. Especially if you are new to Torah observance. Yahweh is SO loving and forgiving – we are in an age of grace where we are covered by Yeshua’s sacrifices.
To ensure we don’t have to work on Feast Days, we have a Prep Day all day before Sundown on the day it is going to start. For us this year, that would be Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. If there was any cleaning or laundry to be done, we would do that all before sundown. We would accomplish as much of the cooking and food preparation as possible on that Prep Day just as we would on a prep day before Shabbat.
I believe in demonstrating a practical application, so I will give you an idea of what we are going to do this year based on our menu:
Sunday: Dinner will be frozen pizzas and maybe a small side salad
Morning’s brunch: Quiche and coffee (me!) or hot herbal drink (Jim)
Snack – honey cake, apples and honey or natural peanut butter
Dinner: Backed Chicken, broccoli with cheese, baked potatoes
Sunday I will be preparing the whole chicken for Monday’s roasting in the oven. It will be oiled up with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs, placed into the baking dish, and covered in the fridge. On Monday, I will slide it into the oven uncovered and let the oven do the rest!
Sunday, too, the potatoes and broccoli will be washed. On Monday, the potatoes will be popped into the oven at the right time along with the chicken. The washed broccoli will be placed into a saucepan in the fridge. On Monday, all I will need to do is add water and steam, then strain, sprinkle with herbs and cheddar, and serve.
I also bake the quiche ahead of time on Sunday so that all we need to do on Monday is reheat it when we are ready to eat. All the advance preparation makes it easy for us to enjoy the day as a day of rest and remembrance.
As far as activities go:
Sunday night we will pray and praise, as well as blow the Shofars. As this is the close of the agricultural year and what is celebrated as a new beginning by many, we will be remembering this as well. It IS the first day of the month and a Rosh Chodesh, so we honor and respect this one as we do all Rashei Chodashim (plural for Rosh Chodesh). Every Rosh Chodesh we praise Yahweh for all the blessings He has given us in the previous month and praise Him for the blessings to come from the next one as well. So, we will include this as we get to celebrate a bit more than the usual start of the month – with a big Feast.
If our neighbors will tolerate it, we will blow shofars long and loud outside for a bit. Living in the Appalachian Mountains makes them sound really awesome sometimes, and it is something I look forward to this time of year. In the past, we have had a fire outside before sundown and enjoyed supper around the fire as we allowed it to burn out on its own. This year, we are under fire watches, so we will pass on that for the evening.
Don’t have a shofar? There are recordings on YouTube that you can use, or believe it or not, there are even APPS for your phone or tablet! Some can even be downloaded onto your computer, as well. Plug in a set of speakers and let it blow!
I believe that the most difficult part of Feast days can be the holy convocation – this would be an assembly or gathering of people where they share the reading, study, or discussion of The Word Of Yahweh. Many of us are “the only ones” in our area, family, or group of friends.
What can you do? Plan a special day with family or friends – invite them over to your home for the feast meal. You can use this time to share your meal with them – and if they are receptive to it, talk about why you are celebrating Yom Teruah this year. This last part, you might need to play by ear because some friends and family may not want to hear anything religious while others may not appreciate your decision to change holidays to Biblical holy days. Just remember to be kind and loving in your communications.
If you DO find you are alone, is there a favorite ministry you might enjoy listening to? Maybe there is a live broadcast available that you can be a part of. If you can't find something live to enjoy, gather your husband and children around and watch a video broadcast together. This is likely what Jim and I will be doing along with reading and studying.
Remember to close out your Feast of Trumpets with a closing prayer at Sundown on Monday. Is this commanded? Not according to the Bible. It is simply a gentle reminder and suggestion from us because it is a great time to spend some extra time in His presence. Thanking him for the blessed day you have been given, and praying He touch your heart as you approach the Day of Atonement coming up in just over a week.
I hope this helps everyone who is new to Torah and Fall Feasts and may even be a reminder to all those who have been doing it a while. Sometimes we need that gentle reminder that Yahweh didn’t make it difficult, and that the yoke is easy, and the burden truly is light. (Matthew 11:30)
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Yom Teruah For Beginners
I am often contemplative when Yahweh uses the same type of lesson repeatedly in my life. There always seems to be MORE that I am supposed to grasp. A great example of this is His use AGAIN of my planting seeds and His causing them to sprout sooner than directed on the packages. Yes, He did it again, and it is one that I did not deserve. At least not from my human perspective. Because life just throws you curves sometimes that take you down a different direction, I wasn’t diligent in my care of Yahweh’s previous blessings. And because of this, I wondered why He honestly bothered to bless me again. Let me explain. . .
In spring, I was so excited about this year’s garden because our soil was better prepared than last year, and we had worms galore thanks to Yahweh’s previous gift to our ground. I was filled with hope for a great harvest and wonderful vegetables all through summer. My mind was even excited about putting things up in the freezer for winter soups and stews.
When it came to starting seeds, I planted the various greens first, then a week or so later, I started beans, peas, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squashes. With college, ministry, and life, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the thought of having to plant all those seedlings once sprouted, yet still longed for the wonderful blessing of freshness from the garden.
Sadly, with it getting too hot too fast this spring, I fell very far behind on getting the greens into the ground. I got all the other plants in, some a bit later than they should have, but they were in and growing well. The greens, though, were still in starter pots come mid-July and they were strangling each other. Sadly, they finally ended up in a bucket full of old potting soil in the hopes that they will compost and help refurbish the soil for new plants next spring.
I was feeling somewhat ashamed one day while sitting on the back deck praying, looking over what a gift I felt I had disrespected. I believed I wasted a great blessing which we COULD have been enjoying at our dinner table. Or we could have been putting greens up in the freezer to use in the winter. At least I was trying to “reuse and recycle” them into new soil. It just didn’t seem to alleviate my guilt. I asked Yahweh to forgive me for being wasteful and hoped I would do better with the next batch. We tend to be harder on ourselves and much less forgiving of self than Yahweh is, but I tried to let it go.
Thursday, July 18th I decided it was time to start a new batch of greens for the fall. I read the packages all the time so that I know how long it will take and when to expect sprouts to appear. I made a note that they should be sprouting sometime midweek the next week. Shabbat morning, just two days later, I saw that the Romaine had already sprouted as did the peas and many of the bush and pole beans! By Sunday morning, the Romaine sprouts were already almost a full inch tall!
At first, I was excited and so very grateful. But then the guilt crept back in. I even found myself thinking, “Yahweh, why did you bless us so quickly with these sprouts after what I had done to your previous blessings?” I didn’t get an audible answer as I sometimes do. I simply felt a peace fill me up. A simple, quiet, loving peace that just testified that I had been forgiven when I asked. I felt humbled and knew that He had granted me this great blessing in spite of myself. And that I needed to try harder to care for them and get them into the ground as soon as they are strong enough to weather the elements. I also felt assured that we would continue to be greatly blessed from our garden, it felt as though it was a strong promise.
We often feel unworthy of His promises, don’t we? And yet He gives them so easily, so willingly.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.
Hebrews 8:12 WEB
…in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,… Ephesians 1:7 WEB
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People sometimes ask me, “Why do you get so many blessings???” It isn’t that we “get so many blessings” or that we “get” more than others do. It is, however, that I see God’s hand in almost everything in my life. Where others might see things as “good luck,” I see those as blessings from God. Where some may see fate or coincidence, I see Yahweh’s provision. Where it seems we have a windfall or good fortune, I see how Abba put everything into place to make things work for our benefit. Because of how I view things, it just seems Yahweh blesses us beyond measure.
This story is one of those examples.
A short time ago, I was not having the best week. I was frustrated, impatient, and just plain grumpy trying to deal with several worldly things at once. I had pretty much forgotten all about the shalom Yahweh wants us to have in our lives and in our hearts.
I had a lot to get done, was overwhelmed in my thinking and emotions, running behind on several tasks. That was the perfect moment for Yahweh to do something that truly got my attention. He showed me, for the second time in 18 months, that He can make things work despite ourselves. What did he do? Well, this may sound silly, but He taught me that sometimes the directions on the packet of seeds are merely a suggestion from mankind.
I first experienced this kind of miracle last year when we decided to fully trust Yahweh with our garden. In 2017 when we planted seeds to start our first garden, we only had about 40% germination for some reason. No matter how many times I re-started the seeds we had stored in the cupboard, we still only got about 40% growth. It was frustrating beyond measure.
As an experienced gardener, I thought I KNEW what I was doing – I followed all my years of “training” and still got the same results. On top of that, half of those seedlings died within a few days of sprouting. These were supposed to be “special” seeds – ones that were heirloom, specially chosen and packed for longer storage. Yet, it just seemed nothing I did worked. It was very frustrating.
In the spring of 2018, after the worm lesson, I decided we would pray specifically over the seeds after I planted them. I worked hard that day filling starter trays with soil and planting everything you can imagine, using the same seeds as the year before. I watered the soil, set the trays outside and prayed over them. I praised Yahweh for creating the plants, praised Him for being our Provider, and then simply ended the prayer with something somewhat flippant, along the lines of, “Well, Yahweh, they are in your hands now! We know you will bless these seeds to grow and provide!” It was sort of a haphazard remark, trusting yet wondering if it really would work.
Then, off I went to do household tasks, some college classes, and ministry. Several hours later, I felt an impression to go outside and see “how the seeds had grown.” Can you imagine how much I giggled inside at the impression that the seeds had grown already? “Yahweh, it has only been a few hours since I planted those seeds. The package says they will take at least 7 days before they germinate!” And that was in optimal conditions. Did a little doubt creep in? Yes, I admit it. I briefly wondered to myself if we even had any optimal conditions after the 2017 experience. Then, I got the impression again to go and look, much stronger this time. So, giggling on the inside and smiling on the outside with maybe a little bit of a subliminal eyeroll, I wandered outside to see what was going on.
I was shocked! About half of the seeds I had planted were already sprouting – just hours after I had planted them! I was so stunned I started to cry and shout at the same time! I called Jim to show him the miracle that had happened with the same old seeds! He could hardly believe that I had only planted them that very morning!
By the next morning, almost all the seeds I had started had already sprouted. Those from the day before had even grown at least a half inch overnight, and their stems were MUCH thicker and stronger than the seedlings from the previous year. You can imagine how much happy dancing I did out there on the deck – and PRAISE!!! Goodness did I praise!!!
Fast forward to Spring 2019
Sometimes we take for granted that a blessing which unfolded once will do the same thing next time it is needed. When we feel this way, we might get a little remiss in how we handle the situation. We just might think we don’t need to do much for it to plop in our laps, and maybe that will happen for some. I find, though, that my experience is, if I don’t bother to praise and thank Yahweh, some things might not come as quickly or as easily the next time.
So, there I was planting seeds for our garden and thinking of how miraculous Yahweh was with the seed sprouting before. I filled the pots, planted seeds, and watered well, knowing they would be blessed. I will admit that by the next morning, just short of 24 hours later, some of the seeds had sprouted, but nowhere near as many as the year before.
When I noticed this and realized that I had not done MY part – gratitude, praise and prayer, I immediately went about asking forgiveness and praising for the sprouts we had, plus thanking Yahweh immensely for the previous year’s sprouts, garden, produce, and blessings, then I politely and humbly asked for similar blessings this year. Imagine my surprise when by that day’s end, MORE sprouts were coming up! Within three days, Yahweh ensured that almost all the seeds had sprouted. We did have a few stubborn seed sets, the peppers for example, that held out and actually took 3 weeks to sprout, but over-all we had similar results as the year before. Swift sprouting AND excellent growth – providing us with strong, healthy plants to go into the garden. Praise Yahweh!
There was a new addition this year in the blessing category: as the plants went into the garden, many grew even more swiftly and larger than last year! What a wonder it was to watch as even the produce that started coming forth was larger and more plentiful at first. Some days we even joked that you could sit and watch the plants and produce grow inch by inch!
Sadly, something killed off all our zucchini plants early, so I started a new set of seeds in pots. THIS time I made sure to praise right away and thank Abba for his precious love for us and His provision. Within two days they had not only sprouted but were already about 2 inches tall! By day three from sprouting, they had started to develop their second set of leaves and were just about ready to go into the ground for a second round of squash to harvest. I gave them a little extra time, just in case – I wanted them to develop good, strong roots. Now we wait! They have just started blooming, and I have been praying for bees to do their work.
I do believe it is time for another shofar blowing as we praise in amazement at how wonderfully Yahweh works on His creations!
He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things, which your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21 WEB
Behold, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27 WEB
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The One About Yahweh Making Seeds Grow In Just One Day
I have mentioned before how I sometimes pray for even the little things. I have learned in life that little things often lead to BIG things. In return, the big things are often what end up fulfilling our needs and those of others. As a result, I have just gotten in the habit of asking Yahweh’s coverage in even the smallest of details, then letting Him guide and direct the results of those prayers.
This garden season I have been blessed three times with witness of how well this practice works, and how simple sometimes the blessings can be. Abba showed me this lesson in the way of blessing us with bees.
Whether sitting outside during personal prayer time or wandering first thing in the morning through the garden to see how things are growing, I often pay attention to who is visiting the yard. I see moths, butterflies, ants, and bees of many varieties wandering in and out of flowers accomplishing the pollination process. This year we have had a tremendous increase in the number of big butterflies, and even hummingbirds have happened in to help with the process. It is fascinating to watch as each one accomplishes their job in a different manner than the others, fulfilling our needs and their own at the same time.
Several times this year, though, I walked into the garden to notice almost complete silence. For someone so in tune with the sounds of the morning, it can stir a bit of concern inside because the result of no morning workers is that there will be less harvest. On those mornings, too, looking around I could see very little movement among the plants.
For a gardener, this can be a bit alarming – without a constant buzzing and flitting in and out, there will be no fruits of all our labors. I am always ready with my handy-dandy soft paintbrush to hand pollinate the bigger blossoms like squashes and pumpkins. But cucumber, tomato, pea, bean, and other smaller flowers are a bit tedious for me to do the entire garden. I NEED my helpers to do their daily job!
On those mornings when they were absent, it was strange when they had been there just the day before. There were plenty of blossoms, fresh water for them to drink, and no reason for the sudden disappearance. So, I turned to Yahweh, their Creator, and asked for His help. I prayed and praised and asked for the pollinators to return. Each time I did this, to my delight, by the next morning the garden was alive again with workers buzzing all around.
You could tell the difference, too, in the amount of produce and the shapes of some things, like the cucumbers. When Yahweh blessed the garden with lots of pollinators, you could see how cucumbers and zucchini were dramatically different – they were plump and full, plus much more likely to grow large in just a few days. With other produce, you can see a very clear difference, too, in the way things grow – several of the squash plants produce nice, large squash when the bees are busy, like the two big Cushaw we have. Those were pollinated on the best of days. The little ones came around on days when we didn’t have as many workers in the garden.
To me it is both impressive and intriguing to watch how Yahweh designed our world to work for us, or against us. I much prefer FOR us!!! So I will continue to pray for bees – we are also trying very hard to build our prayer garden up with lots of lovely perennial flower plants to draw even MORE bees next year. One day, maybe we can do our part, too by having beehives – one of Jim’s dreams is to be a beekeeper. THAT is a story for another day!
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The Summer Days I Prayed For Bees
I remember, when I was a little girl, sitting in the kitchen at “The Cottage” with Great Grandma working at the kitchen counter preparing all sorts of delicious things. Some memories are of her making oatmeal, bacon, and eggs for breakfast, while others are of her peeling potatoes, boiling and making them into potato salad for dinner later that night. Little things she said and did are etched in my memory, and I still call upon many to this day.
One of those memories is how she tried to use everything possible from the kitchen scraps to make something else. Over the years, I have tried to use those lessons to stretch the garden harvests and our nutritional intake as far as I can. Today I thought I would share with you one of the things I do every autumn. I know – it is not even officially here yet, but the ripening of the squashes in the garden has started which makes this the perfect time.
This morning I ran out and picked two small pie pumpkins, one for curing to use as décor during Sukkot in October, and the other to make something delicious for dessert tonight. I want to make sure I make the most out of every little blessing Yahweh has given us, so nothing but skins will end up in the trash today.
First, I cut and scraped out the pumpkin and placed into a large bowl, all the “guts,” as my dad used to call it! Seeds and strings. I placed the cut pumpkin pieces into a saucepan and set it aside. Then to the bowl of “guts,” I added a few cups of filtered water and swished it around, loosening all the seeds from the strings. I took the strings and plopped them into the pot with the pumpkin chunks.
Next, I strained the seed water INTO that same pot, NOT down the drain. That rinse water is packed full of yummy goodness to use during the winter. I placed the lid on the pumpkin pot and put it on the stove to cook. When done, I will scrape the pumpkin from the skin, puree and use in dessert for today. Normally, I take the pumpkin and freeze it into 2 Cup baggies or plastic dishes for baked treats or soups during the winter months.
The seeds? Well, normally I toss them with a tiny bit of olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and toast them in the oven until lightly brown and crispy. They make a great afternoon snack or a yummy sprinkle on salads. THIS batch though, is being dried and saved for next year’s garden.
The water I had left from steaming the pumpkin will also end up frozen as “pumpkin broth.” This makes a great starter for soups in the winter. Just add some salt and spices, some vegetables, or use the pumpkin/squash broths to make gravy or pot pie filling!
There you have it! Nothing tossed away except the skins. I will tell you, if we had the ability to have a compost heap, NOTHING would be wasted because the skins would end up there. Sadly, I am not comfortable here composting with bears being spotted in the area – I really don’t feel like encouraging large wildlife to wander into our yard!!!
I think Great Grandma would be proud of me for remembering the lessons she taught and for making the absolute best of Yahweh's provision.
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Waste Not, Want Not
This year’s garden has truly been filled with gifts, provisions and lessons we didn’t see coming. A beautiful visual lesson was shown to us recently. One where Yahweh arranged for us to receive little things so that they will produce greater blessings as time goes on. It involved a quick shopping trip for garden supplies.
Sometimes our budget just doesn’t allow for many extras, and we must choose which items of utmost importance will make the list. The trip a couple weeks ago was one of those shopping trips. I knew we had a set amount to get what we needed.
We had been having a lot of trouble in the raspberry bushes with Japanese beetles this year, and we hoped the store would still have traps in stock. Traps were on our list. Additionally, knowing that I wanted to start some cuttings, transplant three avocado trees for indoor growing, and start new seeds for late summer and fall harvest, I added one bag of soil and some fertilizer to help the heat-weary plants. I figured we would only be able to get small sizes of each and was prepared to buy whatever brands were left in stock. Late season garden shopping can be hit or miss. I also put a few additional “wants” at the bottom of the shopping list, just in case, then off we headed to the store. We prayed Yahweh would provide all our needs, and maybe even a few extras. I was hopeful!
When we arrived, Jim wanted to park on one side of the store, yet I felt strongly lead to park on the other side of the parking lot. He said he liked the right side better and preferred to park there, but I insisted on the other side. So, he drove to where I wanted to park. I then felt impressed to go through the garden department doors instead of the front so we could pick up the beetle trap, fertilizer, and soil first. That way we would know how much we had left for the “wants” list. Off we headed, grabbing a cart along the way.
I had planned on one smaller bag of potting soil that would be just enough for what I needed to do, costing around $5. As we approached the gates into the open-air garden section, imagine my surprise when there was a sign by some larger bags of soil. . . $2!! To be honest, I didn’t think the price was right. I thought maybe the “1” had fallen off and they hadn’t put it back yet. I asked a worker standing nearby if it was accurate. He confirmed the price, so we grabbed not one, but TWO bags of soil for less than the one small bag was supposed to cost. I was excited because now we had almost four times the potting soil I had intended to buy – and for less money! It gets even better: the soil on our “needs” list was just plain, generic potting soil - not organic. It also said it had no fertilizing additives in it at all. But the bags we were blessed with were organic potting soil enriched with organic fertilizer!
Although I was disappointed that there were no more beetle traps anywhere in the store, we were truly blessed to get that great deal on more and healthier soil than what we would have settled for. Inside, we also found a bag of fertilizer twice as big as our last purchase was, and it was half price! We were on a roll. Off we headed to the next department – office supplies. Next of our list was a pack of printer paper – again half price! We were already spending less than anticipated for more product. By this point I was about to embarrass Jim in the store by doing my “Happy Blessings Dance!” I opted to just wait until we got outside.
You might ask how all this happened for us.
There were just two simple things I did before we left for the store. The same thing I try to remember to do every time we go shopping:
1) I went online to check the prices and sizes of everything on the list so we had an idea of what we could afford.
Then. . .
2) I prayed and turned our entire shopping trip over to Yahweh, asking Him to provide for us as best He could. Especially for the garden so that we could grow more food AND have plenty to share with our friends. I also thanked Him for every time in the past He has blessed us on shopping trips. Praising him for the witness and testimony of provision that He has given us.
It doesn’t sound like much, yet that is all I do. Sometimes I have forgotten to pray and praise. There have even been times when I have been whiny and disrespectful to Yahweh. On those trips, I can testify that we have not been as wonderfully blessed. He ALWAYS blesses us, and I recognize those blessings everywhere in our lives. But I also recognize that when we are obedient, following His direction and doing His work properly, the blessings are always beyond measure.
Because of His great blessings from our shopping trip, I spent the next morning joyfully gardening indoors! I put on some music, took all our old seed-starter trays then started new batches of cucumbers, bush beans, pole beans, peas, and greens of every variety. I then transplanted our three indoor avocado trees into larger pots. Next I was able to trim and start 6 new coleus plants for our prayer garden, too. Here was the most amazing part: I barely used 2/3 of the first bag of potting soil. I even used some soil to put in the holes I dug in the prayer garden to plant the flowers we had been gifted weeks earlier. I would grab out handfuls of soil, and it seemed like Mary Poppins’ travel bag: never ending supplies!
Yahweh’s provisions stretched much farther than I asked for or anticipated. When I was finished with all that planting, tears welled up in my eyes at the blessings which had unfolded. We now have sprouts that need to find new places in the garden so that Yahweh’s blessings will not be wasted. We also have so many seedlings, we will be sharing them with our friends for their late summer plantings. A perfect demonstration of how Yahweh’s little things turned into greater blessings.
He IS an amazing Abba and a great miracle worker, when we let him.
Blessings and Shalom.
Colossians 3:17 KJV And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
James 1:17 WEB Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow.
Although we are not in The Land of promise, Yahweh has shown us that He still works as described in Deuteronomy 28:11 KJV “the LORD will make you plenteous for good, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground,…”
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Half Priced Blessings
Do You Thank Yahweh for Worms?
I do. As often as I can remember to do it, I praise Him for worms. I truly do.
I never thought I would be this grateful, this filled with praise, this excited for. . . WORMS. Yet I am.
Let me explain.
I am sure you already know, worms are important creatures in our world. They help get rid of biological “waste” and turn it into rich, wonderful soil. They work hard, and we don’t even have to compensate them for all that effort. They simply do what Yahweh designed them to do. That may be one reason to raise some praise for them, but we have extra reasons.
Three years ago, this past July 4th, we moved into our new home in the mountains. A quiet little street, in a tiny little town, with lots of amazing neighbors whom we have come to love. The yard was fairly plain, and no real gardens to mention. Just three short evergreens left growing along the front walkway, lots of wild black raspberries in the woods, and ferns running rampant under the front deck.
We were busy that the first summer getting settled in, and planting a vegetable garden was not even on my mind yet. As far as flower gardens, which I very much wanted, I tried to mark off a few little beds with stones I dug up all around the yard, and during my little explorations in our woods. Then from here and there in the yard, I moved a few wildflowers to the little beds I had created. Imagine my shock when most of what I planted died. Strange. I just decided that I would wait to put in a lot of effort until the following spring.
Trying to develop big flower beds was out of the question that first summer because of my timing. It was just too far into the growing season to plant; especially while we were still trying to get settled into our new life. I did peruse the yard to see if there were any other plants or wildflowers which I could transplant the following spring. I kept noticing that not much seemed to be growing anywhere except grass, those three small evergreens, and the woods. By fall, we got so busy with life that I didn’t think anything of it again for some time.
Fast forward to late Winter and early Spring 2017.
We decided that would be the spring we would grow our very first vegetable garden at our new home! Our budget was a bit tight, but we had a box of seeds in storage that we decided we would give a try. Armed with the seeds and an idea for a good place to start our garden, out of the way of mowing, I started preparing the area and sprouting seeds inside.
When I dug in the soil in the backyard, I thought it was odd that I saw no worms. My mind thought maybe they are just deeper. So, I dug deeper. No worms. The gardener in me said, THAT is not a good sign. . . You need worms to ensure the soil continues to refurbish itself, but not finding any worms at all in the soil, not even a few small ones, usually means the soil is not healthy.
Talking to our neighbors, I discovered the construction company who built our homes removed and hauled away all the lush, wonderful, healthy topsoil that would have been created by all the trees dropping leaves for decades. We were left with sandstone, gravel, and clay. I did the best I could with what we had. I will say that over time, we did get a few things from our garden that year. Sadly, though, we were not able to get the results we had hoped for in 2017.
A friend counseled me that one thing we were missing was – PRAYER. I prayed daily, yet I confess: I wasn’t specific about WHAT we needed in the garden. Plus, I admit that I spent more time whining and complaining about what was going wrong, rather than praising Yahweh for the things that went right. My friend told me that we needed to pray and praise over the soil, the yard, and even against the devourers which kept attacking.
She recommended we not wait until spring to pray and praise, but start early with our preparations and with our prayer and praise - start in the autumn, she counseled. We decided to start during our Sukkot that fall. Because we had no harvest of our own, we thought this would be the perfect time to prayer for better blessings the next year. And, with it being a feast, we wanted the NEXT Sukkot to be one where we could share the blessings of our harvest with our friends and neighbors, too. Each day that we prayed together, we prayed a specific list of blessings over the garden plots and yard – finishing the prayers with some good strong shofar blowing, then left the rest up to Yahweh.
Fast forward to 2018
After Sukkot 2017, we decided to create a new garden plot. I did the best with what we had to prepare raised beds using trees we cut from the woods, and I worked the soil to prepare it for spring planting. The trees I cut down were smaller, unhealthy clone trees from the woods which I cut to size, then used those to mark out four raised beds. Raking leaves and mixing with some grass clipping, I dressed the beds with a very THIN layer and hoped Yahweh could bless it all to decompose and fertilize during the winter.
When spring arrived, and I started digging the soil to turn it, I was convinced there would still be no worms. I remember thinking to myself: Same soil, same yard, same results. Right? I was mopey but started working. Well, imagine my surprise when I found not only worms but BIG worms! Good sized, fishing style worms – and they were all over the garden.
From where did they come? The leaves and grass I had hoped would decompose didn’t compost much over the winter. In fact, I had to move most of it out of the way to work the soil and loosen it up. They couldn’t be the reason. There could be only one explanation for all those worms: All our prayers!!! Yahweh literally blessed us with WORMS!!! Not just some worms, LOTS of worms! They weren’t just in the garden plots either. There were worms everywhere in our yard.
After putting our seedlings into the ground, we were amazed at how the plants grew much healthier than the year before - stronger, taller, thicker, and produced much, much more. We didn’t have to do a lot to care for the plants during the summer, either. We tended it with regular fertilizers, watering, weeding, and chasing away deer. But you could tell the difference between the sad little plants the year before and the lush, healthy plants in our new wormy garden!
I even recall crying out, “WE HAVE WORMS!” and doing a happy dance in the garden, completely unconcerned if neighbors would see me! I was filled to overflowing with gratitude and joy.
Fast forward to 2019
This year WE HAVE MORE WORMS than you can imagine! It wasn’t just a fluke – Yahweh blessed our garden plot with worms last year AND worms this year.
We know it wasn’t us – last fall and winter we again didn’t work that hard in the garden to replenish the soil, and we haven’t added anything from the store. We only added more of what we have around: additional lawn clippings and dry leaves, some old coffee grounds a friend gave us. We have tried to work all that in by hand as much as we could, but still, it just doesn’t explain the sudden appearance of worms last season, nor the major increase in them this season. Knowledge and experience tell me that a lot more composting and tilling needed to be accomplished for the soil to be that healthy for so many worms. Somehow Yahweh worked another miracle for us in the way of miraculously attracting or placing wonderful worms into our garden area to refurbish our soil.
I am going to keep on praising Yahweh for worms!
Lessons learned: PRAYER WORKS! Shofar blowing helps a lot! We DO have to do some work, too. We can’t just pray and sit back waiting for God to do it all – like drop blessings into our laps.
Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. Galatians 6:9 WEB
And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. Psalm 107:37 KJV
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 KJV
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD
most high. Pslam 7:17 KJV
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:20 KJV
Have I told you the one about Yahweh making seeds grow in a day?
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Praising Yahweh For Worms
Our house is a simple 3-bedroom rancher-style home where two of the rooms include larger windows with backyard views. One room we use as an office. The other we call “The Storeroom” – mainly because everything that doesn’t have a particular place ends up stored in there!
Both the office and Storeroom are blessed with a clear view of the entire vegetable garden. This vantage is perfect for less than lovely days. It makes it easy to peer out and see how things are growing. I love being able to wander into either room to take a peek at all that is happening. When the mustard plants were going to seed, I could watch the goldfinches steal seeds from us. If they caught me watching, they would either duck in amongst the big squash leaves or fly away into the treetops. I gather they didn’t realize I had left many of the seeds out there as a sort of “first fruits” offering, or our version of leaving the corners for “gleaning the fields.” I don’t mind helping Yahweh care for His creations; in fact, it brings me peace watching them. (Matthew 6:26)
Another sight to see is when I awake each morning around 630. Popping into one room or the other, I gaze at the beauty of the squash blossoms waving gently in the breeze. We have so many blooms this summer that it often appears the beds are more flowers than leaves. If only they could last more than a few hours, I know I would be picking bunches of blossoms and decorating every room with bouquets! But alas, they wither and flop just a few hours after the bees gather pollen and spread it around.
This afternoon was an unexpected delight, though. I received a surprise as I placed some new houseplants into the window of the storeroom. The two lovely spaghetti squashes I photographed the other day are now very visible through the window and can be seen hanging from under the big leaves! What a blessing! In just a couple of days, they have grown from just a bit bigger than a golf ball to larger than softballs! And tonight, when I went to show them to Jim, they had grown AGAIN! Our vegetables grow so quickly that you can almost sit and watch them grow. I have mentioned such growth to other gardeners and am often warned against putting too much hope in any tasty harvest when it is time to bring them to the table. I am told such swift growth will lead to bad fruit. Many wonder why the fruits are growing so swiftly. They just don’t understand – I water sensibly, fertilize when I remember, and the rest I leave to prayer. Then each time we pick vegetables, even in last year’s garden, they are large, absolutely delicious, and perfectly ripe.
Yahweh works miracles in our garden, and He answers prayers in ways many don’t believe possible. We often read in scripture how He will bless us and answers prayers, and in our hearts, we want to trust Him. Yet sometimes it seems this world sours our faith and convinces us we must do everything on our own. The world can lead us astray, convincing us that He does not answer our prayers, only answers some prayers “IF it is His will,” or if He does answer, it isn’t often what we want to hear or what we asked.
Our garden for the last few years has been a testimony, a physical witness to us of how Yahweh DOES answer prayers – even the little ones. Through the little answers, He sends our way, we are always blessed beyond measure.
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. Psalm 34:10
The “little blessings” of numerous blossoms bring extra squashes we get to share with those we love in our neighborhood. The volunteers that grow in the garden always bring us extra to store in the freezer for winter meals. Yahweh has resurrected cucumber plants attacked by deer who stripped them clean, and they should have died. The gifts He gives us demonstrate how Yahweh can be our provider in every way, even by making the fruits grow larger and faster so that we can start eating them sooner. Yahweh is our provider, a miraculous, amazing, loving and kind provider of so very much.
I am humbled by His gifts unfolding right in front of our eyes!
Scripture references (KJV):
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Matthew 6:26
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. Psalm 34:10
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A Room With A View
Late yesterday, I read this idea from an article required for one of my courses of study. The story wants you to picture yourself awakening in the morning with the sun rising in the west, instead of in the east — a land where water flows UP hill and not down. Your favorite food grows on every tree on this new planet – Like fully-made pizzas, hot and ready to eat! Wouldn’t that be an amazing place to live?
Then it asks you to think of the world we already live in, where the article claims there isn’t anything quite so spectacular happening. The author seems to believe that for some reason here, on earth, we are not amazed for any reason. We all take everything for granted and don’t see what surrounds us.
I must be one very strange human being, at least according to the author – an oddity to truly wonder at, or maybe even to wonder about. . .
Why? Because I awaken every morning and look outside in such awe and wonder.
I can recall so many funny little stories from growing up. Times when I would wander through the woods, stroll through the creek, or climb trees – and I would dig, delve or stare for hours at what was around us. I wasn’t a church-going child growing up in Ohio, yet the world was still so miraculous to me. I would try to tell my dad things all the time and sometimes I would tell him so much he would become over-whlemed. Those were the times I would hear, “Judith, please, Stop! Goodness, your imagination and fascination!”
Whether the sunrise is colourful or just plain & brightening, it amazes me how each one bursts with such peace and beauty. If it is cloudy or foggy, I am taken aback by the softness of the sounds, the strange stillness of the birds twittering and chirping. You can hear them in the mist, and yet their sounds are somehow softened, muffled or muted on dank mornings. If the sunrise brings a colourful morning, the sky is uniquely designed by the clouds, shadowy trees, and particles in the air. No two are ever alike. The same with sunsets. How can you NOT be astonished every single time?
I see butterflies, bumble-dy bees, birdies, and MOST bugs as such a blessing – a little note here: I must say mosquitos and gnats are NOT on the list of joyful creations for me! Yet, in spite of the pests, there is still so much pleasantness surrounding me. I am often mesmerized by His creation – while trying to ignore those certain annoyances!
Those who truly know me can testify that one of my favorite things to stare at is. . . Drum roll please. . . A Fibonacci in nature. They are everywhere. You cannot escape them – the interior of a snail shell, especially the Nautilus, for example. There are also pine cones, sunflowers, mums, dahlias, rose petals, lettuce, ferns before they uncurl, certain trees when looked at from above. Yahweh placed the Fibonacci everywhere!
Yet in class, my professor's words were, “For some reason, we are not amazed.”
Not amazed??? I AM – every single day!!!
I cannot fathom how anyone would not react to our earthly home as though it is that Pizza Tree Planet I first mentioned!!! Have we gotten so busy in our business, so overwhelmed by our technology that we cannot see the trees for the selfies in the forests?
My professor believes that everyone must be lacking amazement and he blames the adage that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” He believes everything is so familiar and repetitive that we all take it for granted and ignore it.
I guess, again, I see things very differently: No sunrise can ever be repeated. Snowflakes do not look the same as each other. No sunflower, rose, wildflower, tree, or animal is ever the same as the one seen before.
Using another adage: Stop and smell the roses, and look around you! Yahweh has given us all so very much for which we should praise Him. Don’t let this alleged familiarity dull your sense of wonder at His Blessed Creations.
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Familiarity Does Not Need To Breed Contempt
Random thought - I often see people post ribbons for awareness - one colour for fighting this disease, another colour for fighting that disease.
What if, instead, we decided to remember THE ribbon. . .
Number 15:38 KJV "...Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a RIBBAND OF BLUE:..."
These are tzitzit, some of you have seen Jim and I wearing them. They are a reminder of the Commandments of Yahweh, the same ones Yeshua followed and we follow as well.
These tassels appear again in the New Testament:
Matthew 9:20 - New Heart English Bibble And look, a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years came behind him, and touched the fringe of his garment;
What fringe? Yeshua's tassels which would have contained a ribband of blue, as described in Numbers 15.
We ought to use the ribbon Yeshua wore - tassels with a ribband of blue which Yahweh commanded us to wear, the ribbon which the woman with the issue of blood reached out for in the crowd.
Her faith led her to Him, her faith led her to go against the law of the day - she was forbidden to be out and about because she was bleeding, yet she reached out for Him.
She said to herself, “If only I touch His cloak, I will be healed.”
Matthew 9:22 YLT And Jesus having turned about, and having seen her, said, 'Be of good courage, daughter, thy faith hath saved thee,' and the woman was saved from that hour.
By the stripes Yeshua bore for us, we ARE HEALED - past tense, it is done (1 Peter 2:24). Our tassels are there to remind us of the commandments we choose to follow as an example of Christ. We want to emulate Him and His true character. They also can remind us of the sacrifice he has given for us, and that our faith has made us whole.
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Wear A Ribbon Of Support
Yesterday, while listening to several lectures for college, I needed a break. I sensed that instead of listening to the next one, I would rather read the transcript. These lectures were all on the topic of prayer – specifically unanswered prayer, and they were not terribly uplifting or encouraging. I found myself grateful that I read the last ones instead of listening to the audio. The sorrow the professor kept expressing in each progressive lecture was deeper and deeper and, honestly, very heartbreaking. You could feel the ache in the his words still filled with so much hurt which he still experiences years after the painful loss of a loved one.
He quoted from several raw chapters in scripture where the writer’s sorrow runs so deep you can almost feel it physically, too:
How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? forever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? Psalm 13: 1-2
But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee. LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me? Psalm 88:13-14
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! Habakkuk 1:2a
You couldn't help but see the sadness in these words, too, and wonder, what about all those "unanswered" prayers?
I was thinking on this while I cooked supper, and something occurred to me. As I tried to examine experiences through my whole life and the prayers I have sent heavenward during some of the most horrific times for our families, I cannot think of one single prayer that went UNanswered. Not one.
Then I said to myself, "Well, there was that time in high school I used to always use as an example of unanswered prayer - where I prayed and prayed for a new stereo, and it never came." I recalled how I kept waiting for it to just appear, maybe as a gift from my parents or grandparents - something "miraculous" to me. After all, I was getting good grades and working hard at my job. I wanted that stereo so badly. I guess thinking about it now - it was kind of silly and petty, to be honest. Yet in the mind of a teenager, it was very important.
I think now what a horrible example that was - I honestly believed for years as a young adult that it was an “unanswered prayer.” Yet looking back now, I recall other details: how I was given extra hours at work when someone had an emergency and needed extra time off – I made overtime which was very rare on my job for anyone, especially a teenager! I also was blessed by finding a better stereo than the one I wanted – for less than what I expected! I ended up buying it on a special sale, which left me with money left-over to spend on more records and cassette tapes. I went around telling everyone how "lucky" I was. . .Hmmm. . . Was it truly an unanswered prayer?
What about other times in my life when I thought my prayers went UNanswered?
Well, even when my dad was sick and dying in the hospital, many thought my prayers went unanswered. Yet, truth be told, they were not UNanswered. I recall riding from New Jersey to western New York, praying and praying and praying all the way to the hospital. Asking God to heal my daddy, give us a miracle!
My prayers of miracles, though, were not what was displayed. Hours after we arrived, Dad died.
And yet I know beyond a doubt that my prayers were not UNanswered. My prayer was not granted, true. Yet Yahweh DID answer my prayers. With a different answer than the one I wanted, expected, or hoped for, but he DID answer them. I can testify to you that my prayers WERE answered –all those hours that I spent praying, I KNEW they were answered; I FELT them answered; I HEARD them answered: Daddy was going Home.
I can also testify to you even to this day that I KNOW I received answer to prayer. The problem was, I did not like it, did not want it, and it hurt like heck. But you know what? Here’s the hardest part: God’s not Santa Claus where I can sit upon his knee and ask him for my wildest dreams, then find it wrapped in pretty paper, waiting for me to rip open the package in gleeful excitement. God’s not my personal Genie in a bottle, waiting to answer my every whim and wish the way I want it to be answered. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if we feel that way about Him when we pray to Him, though. We then get upset with Yahweh because he did not answer our prayers our way.
I kept praying for what I wanted, and I also kept brushing aside the feelings I had deep in my spirit that told me exactly what to expect. There are things in those hours before dad passed away that I did not want to face, and I did not take into consideration as I prayed:
- What of my dad’s prayers? As he lay in that bed, his physical body failing him, his body worn out, tired of fighting and weary, his brain barely functioning from the poisoning happening with the ammonia build up. WHAT WAS HE PRAYING FOR? He was tired, even before the emergency visit to the hospital – he was weary from his body being sick & weak, the physical pain, the depression from the drugs being used to kill the disease ravaging his system. He was tired.
- What of my mom’s prayers? She was so weary from seeing the man she had spent her whole life with, the man she fell madly in love with as a teenager and eloped so she could marry him. She was hurting so much from seeing his illness take every little bit of him away, piece by piece, all his suffering. The dreams they had of retiring and enjoying the cottage life in the woods – swept away by his sickness. What of her prayers?
Neither of my parents were believers and yet I know they were whispering things in their hearts as we all went through this together as a family. Dad, those last several hours, called mom’s name with every breath – as if he had something he HAD to tell her. He seemed relaxed, at peace, and I can’t help to wonder what he needed so deeply to say to her, yet couldn’t.
Still, there I was, thinking about how MY prayers “outranked” theirs.
And then, there I was almost 10 years later, going through the same things again. . . with my momma. Every phone call she talked of how weary she was, tired of the things going on in this world. I asked each time, “Can I pray with you mom?”
“Not yet, Judith. Not ready yet,” was all she would say. This time I didn’t pray for miracle healing – instead, I asked Yahweh to PLEASE fill my heart with what needed to be shared and said to my mom before she left this earth. PLEASE fill my mouth with the words she needed to hear of Him. He answered my prayers again – this time with the things I was truly asking for. I learned to put aside my personal wants and my wish list, and pray to help mom try to find her way back to Abba.
Abba is so loving, He is so very merciful, He is so very, very kind. And HE knows what is needed most of all. He makes a much better judge than I do, and I know that. Often times, we pray and we pray and we pray for what WE want, what will make life most comfortable for US. When we don’t get it, when our wish isn’t granted, we then get angry inside because of our UNanswered prayers.
Yet I wonder. . .if we each just took a moment or two to reflect – were those prayers truly UNANSWERED? Or, did we not like the answer we received?
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It’s that time of year again, and we seem to be surrounded by jack o’lanterns, witches, ghosts, demons, monsters, and various other representations of the American holiday which will happen on October 31st – Halloween.
Everywhere you look there are Halloween cereals, toaster pastries, cookies, cakes, treats, and candies at every counter or end cap at every store. You cannot avoid seeing these everywhere – even in commercials or on advertisements. When you drive to the gas station around the corner from your home, THERE IT IS! Someone’s yard filled with artificial grave markers, zombies, blow-ups, and such depicting the latest of Halloween hooplah. It might even be right at your neighbor’s house next door or across the street.
Even local churches are getting strongly involved with Halloween festivals and the well-known trunk-and-treat event where children are encouraged to dress up as families decorate the interiors of their vehicles with ghouls and goblins. Whether people are given the opportunity to dress up in what-ever-they-want costumes, or the church has decided on a policy of no “monsters, witches, or demons,” children and adults will be dressed up. Some will even make it appear to be a “holy” event by asking parents to have children only dress up as their favorite biblical character in the hopes of sterilizing the evil side of the holiday.
The big question, though, is this: What would Yahweh say?
I tell Jim all the time, “Sometimes I imagine Abba watching us, head in his hand, just shaking his head and wondering what on earth are my people thinking!”
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is not happy about believers following the pagan holiday of Halloween. And, I am sorry if it messes up someone’s plans, but let’s face it: Halloween is not a godly holiday. Period.
Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Dia de Muertos, All saints day – these are all celebrated at this time of year – the end of October. These events will be going on from October 31st to November 2 depending on which one is being celebrated. To be honest, it doesn’t matter which one you choose to honor; all are based on/come from the same historical background.
In ancient times, the Celts had a holiday at the end of their summer, celebrated at this time of year. Honored as a harvest festival, with some ghostly worship tossed in. History.com has a great article about it which goes into depth about the way it has changed over the years.
To summarize, the Celtic festival was when they believed the lines between the other world and this one were blurred, and the ghosts of the dead returned to the earth. These alleged ghosts would cause trouble all around the farms. At this time, too, their druid priests would feel it easier to predict the future because of the openness into the other realm. Many would attempt to consult the dead for information and ideas of how the future was going to play out for them, their families, farms, and friends.
They would put out the fires in their homes, light a bonfire on the hills, and participate in festive activities. These would include sacrifices of animals and harvested crops dedicated to their many gods. Also, they would wear costumes made up of animal heads and skins; some believed they did this to hide their true identities from the visiting spirits.
When the festivities ended, they would light a torch from the bonfire, and take it home to relight their hearth fires that were extinguished earlier. This relighting from the bonfire, they believed, helped them to ensure a blessed winter to come for their home and family. They believed it brought them great protection.
This holiday, over time, was combined with other pagan traditions by various religions and societies to become the different celebrations that many recognize today. It has also been expanded to include various forms of worship of the dead. All of which are spoken against in Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
These verses teach against witchcraft, divination, sorcery, conjuring, spells, fortune telling, omens, necromancy, and more. All of these mystical evils are incorporated into Halloween in some form or another. People dress as witches, warlocks, and wizards as they go about pretending to conjure up spells and charms, and even the simple phrase “trick or treat” implies a form of “charm” that unless someone grants a “wish” in the form of a treat, a trick of some sort will be played upon them or their household.
One of the biggest excuses for continuing this holiday in America is “It’s for the children.” I hear this every year from parents, grandparents, Church Sunday school leaders, pastors, and more. Don’t fool yourselves, please – it isn’t for the children.
It’s for the adults – why do I say this? Because it is easier on the grown-ups if they don’t make waves by saying no to the children. If we, as adults, as righteous parents or grandparents decided to stand against this event, we will make “waves” and likely cause conflict because it has been a part of family traditions around the globe for too long.
People will express frustration with you, and will often say, “It is JUST for the children!” Is it fun? Yes. Because we have made it fun - the kids get to choose a costume, play dress up, participate in parades and trick-or-treating, get lots of candies, and some will even have parties filled with fun activities like bobbing for apples, scavenger hunts, and contests.
Today, everything is white-washed to look safe and adorable – everything from vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and haunted houses; even Jack O’Lanterns and witches are made to look harmless and adorable. Just look around you in the stores and gift shops at the lovely decorations you can put up all around your house. Even lawn ornaments are made to look safe and silly.
It’s for the children because we have created it to be for the children. And sometimes I feel this concerns me more than the celebrations that take place. Why? Because we are to train up a child in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
Throughout scripture, we are warned against paganism and not just paganism, but witchcraft, necromancy, and so many other demonic belief systems. We are told point blank not to partake of them. Yahweh has warned us to be so very careful to stay focused on Him and His teachings.
If we are warned so strongly, and He tries to protect us, the adults, so fervently, why would we teach the opposite of His truths to our children, our grandchildren, and those who are our charges? Why would we sterilize the holiday’s evil traditions by making them appear cutesy and harmless when they blatantly go against scripture? Do we truly want our children to dabble in the occult and open themselves up to further teachings and influences? Do we want to introduce our children and teens to a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) through fright nights, haunted houses, ghost hunting, and haunted hayrides?
Our prayer is that what we have shared will help those who celebrate Halloween or a “cleaned up” version of Halloween to take a serious and prayerful look at avoiding this celebration in any form. If we want our children to be righteous, strong, faithful warriors in these last days, how can we expect that of them if we compromise and make evil appear good or introduce them to the occult?
We are warned in scripture that times will come when things are upside down. Isaiah 5:20 talks of woes:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (KJV)
Those who make Halloween look like it is nothing more than a harmless holiday are at risk of being people who call evil good, put darkness for light, and bitter for sweet. It is destructive enough when dabbled in, much worse if it is done in the name of Yahweh.
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Should Believers Celebrate Halloween or Trunk and Treat
One of our favorite topics is the scriptures – and we often get asked about the different translations that are available. There are older versions, such as the King James with its more formal English, as well as modern printings such as New Revised Standard Version (1989) and The One New Man Bible (2011). Each new translation or interpretation comes with its explanations of why it is the most accurate or best version available for studying Yahweh’s Word.
In our home library, we have several versions to reference, and each has served its purpose in our studies and in ministry. Each has specific elements that help us in very different ways – we have a parallel Bible, the 1611 King James Version, New King James, and many more.
Recently, I was asked several different questions about translations, and I felt that many could benefit from the answers we shared with this person. Here are some of their statements or questions.
1) “Some teachers claim that the Hebrew does not translate very well into English.”
If we are using modern English as an example, I would have to say this statement can be true. Over the last 150+ years, especially in America, the English language has changed dramatically. We have words that today mean something completely different than what they meant 100+ years ago. One that is easy to use as an example is the word “gay” – if you go to the 1828 Online Webster’s Dictionary, you can find that the definition used to mean “Merry; airy; jovial; sportive; frolicksome. It denotes more life and animation than cheerful.” That is not the modern definition of the term in our current dictionaries.
Let’s illustrate this from a scriptural perspective. The word Torah is a great example – many translate it to mean “law” – which from our more modern mindset gives the impression of a civil rule with a legal and binding consequence. We tend to interpret it as a statute or regulation recognized and enforced by a judicial decision. We also conclude that not following this “law” is equal to a “crime.”
That is not what Torah means, though. Studying the Hebrew word Torah will reveal that it means “teaching, directions, instructions.” The Torah is Yahweh's teachings which help us to hit the target or the mark. Getting that bull's eye helps our individual character to be more like Yeshua so that we can exemplify Him.
The definition of teaching or instruction is much different in our modern mindset than the word LAW.
Teaching is related more to educating and has less negativity attached to it than the word law. It is beneficial for you to put it in this perspective and to remove the stigma, anxiety, and intimidation attached to not following the Torah.
We have been actively encouraging people lately that they must understand WHAT Torah means, and that we do not follow the teachings in the Torah for our SALVATION - we have salvation through Yeshua alone.
2) Can we only get the true translation from the Hebrew and Greek?”have to disagree with this claim. With all the scholarly resources that we have available to study through the internet and libraries, we can easily get an accurate definition and translation very quickly by searching things out. BUT we must be WILLING to study and not take things at a glance or surface value. We need to be cautious about not applying our modern mindset to the scriptures.
I can demonstrate this modern mindset dilemma by sharing situations shared with me about Shabbat. Some sisters of faith get very hyper-literal when they read the scriptures about Sabbaths: “Thou shalt not work.”
Sadly, I see these sisters go to an extreme with “no work” because they see every single daily task as their “work” – they refuse to do anything during Shabbat or have their family do anything, including simple tasks of cleaning up after oneself. Then at Sundown, they are overburdened by the massive amounts of dishes, trash, and toys left all over the house. I had one sister contact me so upset by the stress that she was willing to give up Shabbat because it took her until the wee hours of the next night to clean up all the mess! After one particular Shabbat, she was up until almost 5 am doing dishes!!! My heart ached for her dilemma.
I told her that it could be as simple as having each child who is able, AND EACH ADULT, simply wash their own dish after using it, then reuse it for the next meal. Plus have the children put away what they had played with before taking out something new. When I said these things, she was horribly offended! I tried to explain to her about what scripture meant by “work,” I have not heard from her since. I guess she was offended by the idea that Shabbat was created for us and our rest and we weren’t created to suffer and be a slave to Shabbat.
We need to be willing to study beyond what we know, beyond what we perceive – sometimes that means delving into the historical details of the era, the lifestyles of people that are similar to how they would have lived during the Exodus – in this case, and even archaeology can help. I tried to share with this sweet sister that people during Exodus often did not even own individual dishes. Many families would make a large pot of soup, stew or porridge, then dip bread into the communal pot to eat – no utensils. Archaeologists have discovered many ancient households in the mid-East deserts who evidenced this kind of lifestyle. I share these examples often with sisters who are new to Torah in the hopes that I may be able to help them overcome the conflicts that arise from being too legalistic.
So, you see, the Torah is not as difficult as we often make it. We just need to be willing to look at things from many different sources to see the bigger picture.
3) “There are many translation errors in the Bible especially the NJKV.”
Are there discrepancies in translations? Yes, there are some verses in different translations that are not quite the same as in older texts such as the Septuagint. This can be especially true with a few of the more modern translations. We have seen some errors ourselves in a couple of versions that we have in print here at home. We have also seen some modern Hebrew Roots translations of scripture that have serious errors.
Some of these differences are easy to pick out. Like recently, when I saw a verse in Young's Literal Translation bible that made me giggle. The literal way it was translated into English made it sound like Yoda from Star Wars was reading scripture!!!
We do need to point out that there are also a few versions that are easier to understand because of how they are written. One example of this would be the NLT – it may not use a word for word Hebrew to English translation, and yet it carries forward the literal concept from the Hebrew to the English. Often this makes the content and context easier for people to understand.
4) “The Old Testament, or Tanakh was originally written in Hebrew, then translated into Greek and Latin.”
This is partially correct – it was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, not solely Hebrew. The Hebrew/Aramaic text found in our Bibles today was written around 1000 – 1100 AD (Masoretic text). Jewish scholars also translated an earlier Hebrew text into Greek around 300-200 BC, called the Septuagint. Then we have the Dead Sea scrolls Old Testament written in Hebrew and Aramaic. All three of these are pretty much in agreement with each other, proving the accuracy of the Old Testament. The Septuagint has other extra-biblical books added for history and commentary, but they are not scripture. The Catholic church claims them as scripture, but they are not. Even the Jews don’t count them as scripture. These books are called the Apocrypha. A good version of the Septuagint which we often use is the Apostolic Bible Polyglot available online at studybible.info.
5) “I automatically thought that the whole bible was originally written in Hebrew and then again translated into the Greek and Latin, THEN into English.”
A lot of people believe this, but it is not true. In fact, there are thousands of Greek texts of the New Testament that are much older than any that are claimed to exist in Hebrew. The oldest so far discovered or revealed in Hebrew is supposedly around 750-900 AD. Greek texts out-date these by quite a few centuries. Most of the so-called Hebrew texts of the New Testament are known by scholars and are likely just Hebrew translations of Latin or Greek texts. You may hear some people tell you the Peshitta (Syriac) New Testament is the original New Testament text, but that text is nothing more than a translation of the Greek text.
6) “I am surprised the New Testament was written in Greek. Why was it not written in the language of the authors who were all Jewish and must have spoken Hebrew at the time?”
Yes, people did speak Hebrew, but they also spoke Greek the most prominent language of the two would have been Greek. The areas where Yeshua traveled, where the apostles lived, and Paul taught were very Hellenized at this time. Let’s take Paul, for example. He was raised a Hebrew, a trained Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee, a Roman citizen, yet he was also very Greek. He talks in scripture of things like wrestling and racing, as well as other details which were very much a part of Greek influence in society.
Many of the towns the disciples went into after Yeshua’s death, places where they brought His teachings, were Greek communities. Many converts were Greek or spoke Greek. Many Jews lived in Greek-influenced countries and spoke Greek. So, you see, the influence was very strong on the culture. Paul, Timothy, and Titus were addressing issues and influences mentioned in the epistles that were creeping into the churches – these issues were leftovers of the Greek religions and cults that were prominent in those areas at the time.
7) “So, the New Testament, Brit Hadasha, was written only in Greek?”
There are some Hebrew texts that people claim they discovered, but many of these are flawed. One example we are familiar with is a Hebrew text which describes Yeshua having been hung by a noose on a rope, and not crucified. This is not what happened based on the countless examples of evidence for crucifixion. That is just one example of the falsehood hidden amongst these Hebrew writings.
Not many people are aware that there are enough New Testament scripture quotes from the early church writings (discussions, early historians, leaders, and theologians before 400 AD) that if someone took those extra-biblical writings and put them all together, an entire and complete copy of the New Testament could be easily constructed just from those early writings alone. This is a second witness to prove the accuracy of the Greek New Testament text.
A lot of people are making a big fuss over one Hebrew scholars claim of discovering “over 1000” alleged copies of Hebrew manuscripts with Yehovah written mostly during the middle ages or supposed New Testament text written in Hebrew. These “texts” are NOT an entire New Testament, but merely small sections which appear to be translated into Hebrew by rabbis.
In comparison, there are about 6,000 Greek New Testament copies written by the early church, as early as 200 AD - pre-dating the Hebrew-text claims. If you count very early copies of the Greek texts translated into Syriac, Coptic, Latin and other languages, then you have about 24,000 early texts. This is evidence that’s far superior to writings written by rabbis. These small pieces, partial pieces, or small segments of Hebrew writings from around 700 – 1,000 AD were used to attack believers in Yeshua and not written by believers in Yeshua.
Just so you know, we don’t actually have any originals written by the hand of the apostles, prophets, etc. However, we know the Bible is accurate because we have so many copies of biblical texts and witnesses that we can sort through variations of texts and come up with a consensus that verifies the truth.
Another note: There are times when you can’t use the biblical Hebrew OR Greek to help you understand a word because there is a term called an hapax legomenon: a term only used once in context. When these appear in the scriptures, finding an accurate interpretation or translation into English (or any other language) can be challenging. We need to research these words using other sources. Sometimes you can find them in literature from the period. When you see it in context like that, you can often get an idea of what is meant in English in the Bible.
These are the many reasons why we try to teach how very important it is to study things out with credible resources.
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Questions and Answers About the Bible
Let me begin by saying that I have learned over the years that discussing Easter or Christmas during the weeks before and shortly after those times – it’s never fruitful. It tends to cause contention and anger. It also sometimes makes those who believe in celebrating those days dig their heels in deep and become defensive about even the kindest of words. No matter how hard we try to explain the Biblical truth with kindness and love, it is not often taken very well. My prayer now is that people will just hear our explanation with an open heart and mind, and then test it for themselves in scripture.
That is why I am talking to you now – off-season, so to speak. First let me say, I am not trying to “convert” you or change your mind. If you personally choose to continue celebrating Easter or Christmas, that is your choice. I am just here to explain why we choose not to – for this conversation I am going to focus mostly on Easter, and yet Christmas is easily interchangeable with Easter.
A lot of family and friends ask (or wonder but don’t want to ask): why don’t you celebrate Easter any longer? Especially since we profess to be followers of the Bible and believe in Yeshua (Jesus) as our Messiah. We often get the question, “Are you Jewish now?” The real question I know people are asking is: are we practicing JUDAISM.
The answer to that question is: No. We have not converted to either Judaism or Messianic Judaism. Both of those religions are filled with many beautiful traditions, as are many Christian denominations. And yet, all forms of Judaism and all forms of Christianity are filled with false, man-made traditions that contradict the Bible. Many of these man-made traditions are just invented from nothing, while others are copied from pagan traditions.
Our reasons for not celebrating Easter can be summed up with a simple comparison because it boils down to the difference between:
A man-made holiday - Easter, Including Maundy Thursday and Lent
The God-made HOLY days - Spring Feasts - These include Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, then after counting 49 weeks, Shavuot (AKA Pentecost).
If you have run into others who believe similar to us, then you may have heard about all the pagan traditions tied to Easter. I could go into great detail on all of those, too, but I would rather show you from a biblical perspective as to why we choose to celebrate the Biblical Feast Days. So, for this conversation, let’s talk about what the Bible says bout Yahweh's Feasts.
Passover and Unleavened Bread are foreshadows of Christ. Yeshua celebrated Passover, he WAS the Passover Lamb. He was not the Easter Bunny. This may sound silly, and yet there are those who try to liken Yeshua to the Easter bunny.
The Easter Bunny was brought to the United States from, most likely, Germany sometime during the 1700’s. It is nothing more than a tradition to entertain children. Sadly, both the rabbit, an ancient sign of fertility, and the coloured eggs can be traced to deep pagan origins. They are not biblical symbols or scriptural “celebrations” in any way. In these modern times, people try to justify both as pretty and cute, even claiming they continue these traditions “for the children.” My question would be, what are you then teaching the children about pagan tradition versus biblical tradition?
Some believers and even churches have tried to rationalize Easter bunnies and eggs by likening them to Yeshua. Taking the characteristics of Yeshua and trying to correlate them with those of the bunny or the egg. For example, making the egg symbolize the empty tomb on resurrection day, or claiming it symbolizes the new life of Resurrection. The bunny is soft and gentle, just as Yeshua’s character is loving, kind and gentle. This is merely taking something unbiblical and applying attributes to it in an effort to justify using it for celebration and tradition.
The bunny, eggs and chocolate have become well-known symbols of Easter through commercialization over the last 60 years or so in the U.S. These have all but replaced Jesus in the Passover, crucifixion and resurrection celebration. All of the focus has been taken from Christ and placed on pagan symbols, then turned to allegedly symbolize Christ again. I would have to ask, are people trying to “make themselves feel better” by bringing the objects full circle to be “types of Christ” when they truly are not?
I am not fault finding here, I am merely asking you to think about it for a time and examine it from a biblical perspective, just as we have done for ourselves. We have been there and done that, too: We raised our children to participate in all those annual traditions, bought baskets and stuffed rabbits, even ate the Easter Ham. Something changed in us, though, when we started to study the scriptures more in depth together, and we recognized there were things that we had not seen before in scripture.
~~ Yahweh says in the Old Testament that we are to celebrate the feast days “forever” – believers claim that he does not change; He is the same yesterday today and forever. Yet then will claim He changed by saying He did not mean “forever”, and we are no longer obliged to follow the commandments of His Feast Days. Some proclaim, “the law is dead” and those commandments no longer apply. Yet, while loudly stating we no longer need to follow those commandments, they will declare we MUST follow others such as tithe, or the list of the Ten Commandments.
~~ We are taught that we should be following worldly, man-made traditions of Easter, instead of the biblical truths of Passover (Exodus 12 ), Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days (Exodus 12, Leviticus 23; Numbers 28; Deuteronomy 16), and First Fruits. These Holy Days happen in the Spring and are what ought to be honored in His name, as He tells us to do – NOT man-made traditions. Especially those which contain blatant pagan elements. We should even be counting the Omer for 49 days, finally finishing out with Shavuot (Pentecost – Leviticus 23) shortly before the summer season starts.
These are beautiful times of celebration, feasts, prayer, gatherings, and honoring Yahweh. Imagine taking His Word and implementing family events which include celebration, a HUGE dinner, socializing and even prayer while honoring Yahweh. You could attend “church,” also called assembly. The funny thing about all of this is that there are families doing these same activities on Easter Sunday – they go to church, then have a big feast together with family and sometimes friends. Many have prayer before they eat, and dedicate their meal to God, thanking Yeshua for His sacrifices for us. Sounds a lot like what we are commanded to do with His Feast Days.
Of course, Yeshua (Jesus) would NOT have been eating HAM – just to clarify that little detail. You see, Yeshua ate only clean meats (Leviticus 11) because he was Torah observant. And THAT is a topic for another day!
How we know what to do during the Holy days is simple - Scripture tells us how to celebrate each one. Now, I will say that many of the details we cannot do because they are to be done where Yahweh places His name, which in ancient times was the Temple. There are also things that are commanded to be done by Levite priests, which we do not currently have available to serve because there is no Temple, and there are details such as sacrifices which are no longer necessary because of Yeshua’s ultimate sacrifice. Yet scripture still tells us to honor the Feast Days in memorial.
What does it mean to honor them in memorial? It means we can do the best as we can to follow the commandments for the Feast Days and share those teachings with our families and friends. For example, the Passover and Unleavened Bread of the Exodus as commanded in chapter 12, verse 14 “This day shall be to you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh: throughout your generations you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.” (WEB) Do you see now why we choose to celebrate this time in honor of the sacrifices of Yeshua? We follow as many of the directions found in scripture as we can.
Here I would like to mention that for the Biblical Feast Days we follow the Hillel II calendar (The Hebrew Calendar). We have studied this topic of calendaring in depth and have published a free e-book on the topic that explains our reasons why. Yahweh has an order for things and a line of authority, and that includes the calendar. He has appointed people in the past to set those things in place, and the last calendar which His appointed authorities sanctioned is the Hillel II.
As the Feast Days fall on the calendar, we can incorporate these details in memorial celebrations:
For the Day of Passover:
- Clean out all the leaven from you home before sundown. (Exodus 12:15) There is a lot of tradition and confusion about what leaven is. It is yeast, yeast bread, or any foods that contain yeast. This would include sourdough. For more on this you can read our blog on TorahForWomen.com, titled “Pesach Panic!” It is actually very simple – just don’t bake or buy any yeast or products that use yeast shortly before and during Passover and Unleavened Bread.
There are a lot of man-made traditions wrapped around Passover, such as the Seder and Seder Plate, reading the Haggadah which contains the story of the Exodus, to give a few examples. This is merely tradition establish by the rabbis and Judaism. Most of these are not required or commanded, and most are not even in the bible.
In our home, we have an opening prayer which begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread, talk of the Exodus, and have a wonderful feast. Often the meal includes lamb, and always includes unleavened breads, and bitter herbs. Sometimes this unleavened bread IS manufactured matzah, other times we make traditional mid-East unleavened breads like lefse or naan, which go wonderfully with roasted lamb!
For Unleavened Bread:
- The first and seventh days are Sabbaths – holy convocations, where you should try to gather together with others and worship. This might be difficult if the days fall on weekdays and the rest of family and friends do not follow the Feast Days. You may need to find like minded people to celebrate with, and yet that too, can be difficult at times depending on where you live. We do the best we can and often find it is just the two of us. There are some congregations which broadcast online, and we have been known to participate with their assembly during the broadcasts.
- We are to do NO servile work – this means your job, and other work that your normally do. This would include yard work, house cleaning, laundry, and heavy work like this. You are allowed to cook on these two days, that which needs to be prepared so that feasts may be served.
- We are to eat unleavened bread for 7 days. Many believe you have to buy certified matzah from a certified Kosher manufacturer. Yet, honestly, there are so many wonderful recipes for different ethnic breads that are completely unleavened: naan, lefse breads, tortillas (the ones without yeast added!), as well as other varieties. You do not need to look for 1001 ways to serve matzah crackers for Passover – although you will find at least that many out there!
- Begin counting the omer: each day you simply call out how many days have passed as you approach day 50 and the Feast of Shavuot.
For First Fruits:
- There really are not any actions that we can do for this Feast because the act of waving the omer of harvest before Yahweh is to be done at the Temple. It is nice to remember this day, though, in honor of the time that His people entered the promised land. (Exodus 23:14-19; Leviticus 23) If you have a garden and are harvesting foods already from your garden by this time, it is especially nice to share the first fruits with others in your family or neighborhood, and to praise Yahweh for that blessing of fruits from your own soil and the literal fruits of your labors.
We simply acknowledge that it has taken place, and praise Yahweh for these blessings. First Fruits memorializes the time when Joshua entered the promised land with the Israelites and they were commanded to honor Yahweh with the first fruits of the land.
Shavuot is found in Deuteronomy 16:9-12, KJV Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.
The Bible does say that for three feasts a year the men are to travel to Jerusalem for these special times – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. This is not always feasible for every family – the financial burden can be overwhelming for someone who lives in the U.S. or another nation. The greatest blessing that we have been given is the gift of Yahweh’s grace upon us through Yeshua. We are not under the curse of the law (Deuteronomy 28:15-68), so in a case where we can not accomplish the commandments, we can ask for forgiveness and know that Yahweh is kind and loving. We are saved through Yeshua and through him alone – our works (following the commandments) do not grant us salvation. But, because we have been saved, we seek after holiness and want to follow his word which leads us to follow His commandments as a part of our journey.
This is usually about the time someone may ask, “Well, you say you won’t celebrate ‘man-made holidays,’ but do you still celebrate Memorial Day? Fourth of July? Mother’s and Father’s Days? Those are man-made celebrations too.” They are not wrong, Yes, these are man-made traditions and celebrations. The key difference between those man-made celebrations and the celebrations of Easter and even Christmas is that these two holidays are man-made traditions which contain pagan elements and are done in the name of Jesus, in honor of God. Those other holidays are NOT done in Yahweh’s name. For this we turn to the scriptures where Yahweh (God) Warned his people against doing what the pagans did and using it to honor HIS NAME.
Leviticus 18:1-5 WEB Yahweh said to Moses, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, 'I am Yahweh your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived: and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you; neither shall you walk in their statutes. You shall do my ordinances, and you shall keep my statutes, and walk in them: I am Yahweh your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances; which if a man does, he shall live in them: I am Yahweh.
You see, we are told to not worship Yahweh in the way the pagans did in ancient times, and the same applies to our own practices. We clearly should not be worshipping pagan items and doing it in His name. In addition, a sad example is how Easter has elements which have taken over the worship in so many families – they have become a form of idol. Many do not bother to go to church any more, and instead have egg hunts, ham dinners, and so many more activities riddled with traditions that are not of Yahweh. The Scriptures against idols are even more clear:
Romans 1:25 KJV Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
This is another big reason why we opt for Yahweh’s Holy Days rather than man-made holidays. We have been led to make this choice for ourselves for three reasons: Feast Days are commandments; we are told to honor them “forever” or for all our generations because Yahweh does not change; and because we are not to do pagan traditions in His name.
As far as the issue of idol worship, many will say that they don’t “worship” the bunny or the eggs, yet these have become the centerpiece of celebration for many years. I will just ask you at this time, please, take a close look at what is prominent in stores, businesses, your home and family during your Spring celebrations? Is it TRULY Yeshua, or is it eggs, baskets, ham, chocolate and rabbits?
It hasn’t always been an easy change for us, truthfully. It is difficult as others in family and many friends continue to follow their traditions, we do often feel left out and “abnormal.” It hurts, sometimes, too – what people say and do, and yet it all boils down to where our faith lies, where our devotion stands.
Joshua 24:15 WEB If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh."
Shalom. . .
History of the Easter bunny
Justifying Pagan Easter traditions
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Why We Don't Celebrate Easter and Christmas Anymore
The short answer to this is: No and no. Dying your hair is not against the scriptures, and dying hair is not a sin. We find nothing in scripture forbidding coloring hair for men or for women. Although there are a number of scriptures we can point to which discuss a woman’s appearance, nothing is specifically mentioned about dying the hair.
During ancient times, dying the hair did become popular in certain circles. In fact, there is evidence which shows that at one point it was a law in Rome that the prostitutes were to dye their hair blonde to set them apart from the rest of society. Interestingly enough, during that same period, blond hair became popular amongst both men and women as they tried to look more like those who were from what is now France and Germany. Black dyes became popular also, which included one method that involved fermenting leeches for several weeks in vinegar. This concoction was then applied to the hair and allowed to bake in by sitting in the sun for hours. Thankfully, modern dyes are more palatable.
Although many will say that because dying hair was known to have been done by the Romans and by the prostitutes, as Believers in Yahweh we should not colour our hair, there is nothing in scripture that directly forbids it. Nowhere in scripture are we commanded “Thou shalt not dye thy hair.” Our conclusion from scripture is that if someone chooses to colour their hair, it is their personal choice to do so.
I do want to say that there are some words of caution I would place here: take a bit of time and examine your reasons for wishing to do dye your hair. The reason I ask you to do this is simply because you will likely, at some point, be told that it is “vanity,” or that you are altering Yahweh’s creation. You may also be told that you need to “be happy with what Yahweh gave you.” All of these are valid points for you to explore, and they will give you a good opportunity to do a spiritual check-up. Yet we stand firm on the fact that dying your hair is your personal decision.
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Is It A Sin To Dye My Hair?
The simple answer to this question is: No. Preparation day, Day of Preparation, or Prep Day is NOT a commanded day that needs to be honored, memorialized, or dedicated to Yahweh according to scripture. Scripture does not say, “Thou shalt prepare on Preparation Day.”
But, the Sabbath is a commandment from Yahweh on which scripture says we are not to work. Yahweh commands that you should not do any servile work on the Sabbath which means none of your normal daily work or employment. The question is, though, what of someone who is not employed outside the home? What of those who are stay-at-home moms or dads? Should they put aside their daily “work” just as those who work outside the home do, or is their daily “work” not truly work?
Much of what needs to be done to get ready for a day of rest is laborious - there is the cooking, cleaning, lawn care, organizing, laundry, and more, especially for a larger family. Clearly, staying at home can be just as much work during your day and week as that of someone who is employed outside the home. Because of this, the daily tasks of a wife, mother, or father who is a home-keeper can be considered their daily WORK. Wouldn’t it truly be a blessing for the stay at home person to be able to not do any of that on Shabbat, to be able to truly rest? For that to happen, a home would need to be prepared for Shabbat in every way humanly possible. Thus the term “Preparation Day” is used for that day before Shabbat when all the work is done that will allow everyone in the family to rest on Shabbat (husband, wife, and children).
Now, although there is no specific commandment for a “Prep Day” in scripture, there are scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that show there is a need to be prepared for Sabbath, and, there are days of preparation that are mentioned in the bible. There are also specific preparations which are commanded at certain times.
Where? Well, let’s start with the Exodus.
1. Moses was told to have the people prepare for the Passover. Exodus 12 has many instructions that Moses was given by Yahweh for the Israelites so they would be ready for what was to come.
2. Moses was told to teach the people to prepare for the Sabbath by gathering enough manna on the sixth day to feed their household for two days. And we can see this in Exodus 16:22-23 WEB. It happened that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. He said to them, "This is that which Yahweh has spoken, 'Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.'" This is a great example of a weekly Sabbath Prep day in ancient times.
3. Before the Feast of Unleavened bread, we are commanded to prepare our homes by removing the leaven. Exodus 12:15
4. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the Gospels) all talk of the Day of Preparation before Yeshua’s crucifixion and death. By using these examples, it’s easy to see that it is important for our homes and all who live there to be ready to fulfill the weekly Sabbaths and Sabbaths which accompany the Feasts. Think of how much more restful your weekly Sabbath would be if you were able to truly rest and spend time with Yahweh and the Word, rather than be concerned for any of your family’s needs.
How can you do this? By following the example of what Yahweh commanded the Israelites to do in ancient times: Be prepared!
Now, many families believe that all of the preparations must be done on that day before the Sabbath. Have you ever found that it is difficult to get it all squeezed into that one day? I do – and there are only two of us! The challenge is even more complicated and exhausting for someone who has several children to tend to as well.
Here is what I do:
I learned a couple years ago: Winter is my enemy. The days are so very short. Some weeks, no matter what I do, it seems there are not enough hours in the day. With sunset coming at around 4:15 PM here in the mountains, winters taught me that we need to get as much done through the week as humanly possible. That is when I decided to make some changes to reduce the stress of trying to “do it all” before sundown on Friday.
Sunday and Thursday I try to get all the laundry done – washed, dried, folded and put away. I often will do dusting on these days, too, because laundry pretty much washes and dries itself. So while the machines are running I do other things to maximize the effort. This is also a great time to squeeze in some baking! Yum!
Tuesday and Wednesday I like to get as much of the dusting and bathroom cleaning accomplished as possible. A lot of times you can whip out a bathroom right before you jump in the shower. Then as you shower, you are rinsing down the stall so that it’s spotless! Mutli-tasking helps. I always try to accomplish room by room so that I know which rooms have been finished. Thursday I will vacuum the carpets, then sweep and mop the kitchen. This all helps me so that on Friday, pretty much all I have to do is cook, which I try to get done as quickly as possible so that I can run a quick broom or microfiber sweeper tool around to wipe away any final spills or messes I made that day. Then when sundown comes, I can breathe a sigh of relief and rest!
The week takes a bit more planning during gardening, harvest, and canning seasons. I still try to spread things out so that Friday is not packed so full that I am exhausted and can't enjoy time with my husband and relax in Yahweh's Shalom.
Often times I see sisters who get overly concerned about having to do it all on Prep Day before sunset. There is no way Jim and I could accomplish everything our home needs in 8 or so hours and cook all our Shabbat meals as well. If we find it challenging, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for a family to try and squeeze it all in before Sundown.
Doing things throughout the week also helps on those rare occasions when we have no choice but to run to town on Friday or deal with something when something throws us a curve. My hope is that this will give you some ideas on how to organize your week as well as explain more clearly about Prep Day, so that your Sabbath is more restful and peaceful.
PS: Jim wanted me to share his favorite tip to make Prep Day even easier for us (for ME!):
Make your Prep Day extra special by ordering your favorite takeout for Friday evening and Saturday meals. Buy your favorite snacks and drinks and enjoy the day. This eliminates cooking and clean-up, plus kids will look forward to Shabbat every week. This is a great way to build lasting family traditions. Rotate weekly. One week can be Pizza Friday, another can be tacos, and another BBQ Chicken Friday -- You get the idea. Cut down on the cooking and make Shabbat different from the rest of the days in the week. Just remember to purchase enough takeout and snacks for Friday evening and Saturday for lunch and dinner. Breakfast can be leftovers, hardboiled eggs, sandwiches, bagels, cold cereals, or something toasted, etc. You can adjust this idea to your families needs and abilities. Just a great way to give mom a break and not accumulate a lot of dishes for mom to wash after Shabbat.
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Is Preparation Day A Commandment
Not long ago, I was asked my thoughts on Herbert W. Armstrong and his teachings. I was honest and said that I knew little about him. He just is not someone I have cared to delve into. The few teachings I HAVE read of his had been provided by others, and honestly, I was not impressed.
What little I read of those writings sent to me, I could clearly tell that many of his ideas were against Yahweh;s Word. Yet, he was not something I felt impressed to teach about or against. I recognized that some people I know enjoy his writings, and just left it at that.
Over a very short time, though, the Armstrong topic became more of a challenge when a few people I know attempted to take advantage of my lack of knowledge about Armstrong, his teachings, and his prophecies. It was claimed that Armstrong had never prophesied about anything directly, that he merely speculated, and all his ideas were contingent upon something else happening or not happening. I was also told that what he had speculated about IS coming true. This last idea implied that he, therefore, was spot on – making him a legitimate prophet.
What little information I had at the time was basic, not studied out, and I truly was hoping that the others who were fighting for Armstrong would simply understand I did not wish to argue over him. It was clearly causing contention, and I did not want it to end that way. So I cleared my head and my pre-conceived notions, then I sought out a list of prophetic statements from Herbert W. Armstrong himself. Not his church, not others from his church, simply from him.
Sadly, the person fighting hardest for Armstrong and his teachings did not wish to give me time to study it out over a few weeks time to see if any of their defensive claims were accurate. After blocking me, I don’t know if they will see the result of my studies, yet I have definitely come to my own conclusions and opinions now on Herbert W. Armstrong. I can also provide the evidence to back it up.
~~ My Conclusion: Herbert W. Armstrong was a false prophet who made MANY false predictions and claimed to be prophesying in the name of Yeshua through the Holy Spirit.
1) In 1934 Herbert W. Armstrong stated that he used ancient dates to calculate that 1936 would bring an end to the Gentiles, as well as a continuation of the depression and war which would in turn lead to the Biblical heavenly signs appearing. He stated people could expect to see the sun and moon becoming dark, stars falling from the sky, AND we would see the Day of The Lord. (The Plain Truth, June-July, 1934; p. 5)
Clearly this did not happen in the time frame he predicted.
2) In 1939, Armstrong prophesied that the World War would continue and carry on through the Great Tribulation. Again he claimed there would be the heavenly signs, which he also believed in 1934 would happen shortly after 1936. Contradictory? Yes.
He continued by claiming that the plagues of the Day of the Lord would come and then the Second coming of Yeshua. He even went so far as to state that war could start within six weeks and that the second coming was just that close. (The Plain Truth, August, 1939; p. 6)
I don’t see anywhere in history showing that any of these signs happened. No evidence of The Great Tribulation, no heavenly signs, no plagues, and certainly Yeshua has not come again.
3) Another prediction from 1939, Armstrong Stated that Mussolini would fight Yeshua. (The Plain Truth, January, 1939)
This brings us directly to number 4:
4) Where in 1943 Armstrong claimed another would fight Yeshua – by this time history made it clear that Mussolini did not do it, otherwise why would Armstrong need to make his new prediction? This time claiming it was HITLER and the false prophet who would fight against Christ. (The Plain Truth, March-April, 1943; p. 6)
5) In 1962, Armstrong made claims that biblical prophecies for great famines would be coming true around 1970-72 because of drastic changes in weather. As a result of this great world-wide famine problem, disease and epidemics would take hold and that 1/3 of the United States and British nations would die. (The Plain Truth. February; 1962; pp. 5,7)
The 20th century was a time of great industrialization. Because of this, farming changed dramatically, as did ocean travel. These improvements resulted in greater crop success world-wide, and faster ways to get dry goods to nations who were suffering, the latter making it less likely for infestation during shipping. With all this increased crop and delivery yield as well as quality, the actual number of people affected by famine world-wide DECREASED, especially post-1960’s. Decrease in famine effects on nations and health caused decreased diseases which then decreased the number of deaths.
The BIGGEST falsehood in this prophecy, though, is the deaths of 1/3 of the U.S. and British populations. It DID NOT HAPPEN.
6) The final example is one that truly doesn’t need to be shown, except that we have already seen that he prophesied the second coming at least twice by 1967. Yet, he stated the great day of the eternal prophesied in Ezekiel would happen within 5 to 10 years from that time period. Again, look at history. Did it happen between 1972 and 1977? No. Give him the benefit of the doubt – maybe he was off a year or two either way – still nothing.
Scripture tells us if a person prophesy and it not come true, they are a false prophet.
Deuteronomy 18:22 “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously:”
There you have it – not one, not even two, but SIX examples of times when Armstrong claimed to be speaking on behalf of Yahweh delivering messages proclaiming things that never came to pass. I have read and studied these myself. There may be some on the list that supporters make claims are contingent upon other things happening, yet through my study of Armstrong’s publications, I see each of these as very clearly false.
My husband gave a great example the other night of his ability to make a flexible, contingent prophetic statement: Our car will drive to town this week. . . .IF I go outside and get behind the wheel. The car’s going to town is clearly dependent upon him getting inside, starting it up and driving away. Armstrong’s prophetic claims are not dependent or flexible. He used strong declarations and statements such as “will,” “IS going to (happen),” and “are going to (happen).” Many also contain statements such as “(this event will happen) which will lead to (these events taking place). Although this may appear to be contingent because for the second half to take place, the first has to as well. Yet, Armstrong repeatedly said that the first thing was a definite. That in itself removes the dependency.
There are plenty more prophetic claims that I could list to demonstrate how false Armstrong’s teachings are, but I would hope that would not be necessary after including six blunt false prophesies. Although I know there are many people who still follow him, my question to you would be “why?” When scripture clearly tells us not to follow false prophets.
1 John 4:1 WEB Beloved, don't believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
I am sorry that I lost a friend over this topic, but my prayer is that they will take this information to the source, study it out as I did – with an open mind and heart, and do as 1 John 4 recommends – TEST IT.
In any event, we are counselled that things like this may happen:
Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold.
Matthew 24:10,11,12 WEB
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My Thoughts On Herbert W. Armstrong
Recently Torah for Women was asked for suggestions on wearing tassels in a professional situation when having them hanging long is not possible. Many sisters work in offices that have strict dress codes. Although it might be possible for some to claim religious exemption and still attach their tzitzit dangling longer, this is not the case for every woman.
Because of this we asked our followers for suggestions on how to wear tzitzit, while still maintaining a professional and fashionable office style. These are some of the suggestions we received from the ladies who have also found themselves in this situation.
1) Pinning or gently attaching them to the inside of the waistband of skirts or pants.
2) Wearing a scarf with their business attire helps several ladies be fashionable and still wear tzitzit. Some wear the scarf as a belt around the waste, while others will wear it as an accessory around the neckline.
3) Make them short enough to be hidden under a blouse that is not tucked in.
If these options are not compliant with the office or work setting, the following ideas are more discreet and could also be used by those who must keep them hidden for safety purposes.
4) Pin them around the bottom band of the bra. They will be completely hidden but can still be a reminder to the ladies.
5) Because a woman's slip tends to be a bit shorter than a skirt tends to be, several women pin very small tzitzit to the hem of their slip, under their skirt. Another sister pins them to the waistband of the slip.
6) Attaching them in some way to the bottom edge of a camisole worn under a top or blouse. The camisole can be worn outside, untucked, or even tucked in and the tzitzit would be tucked inside the skirt or pants.
A truly great idea was suggested called “break away tzitzit.” One husband works in a situation where he would be at risk of injury if his tzitzit got caught in machinery. These break away tzitzit are attached around his belt using snaps, and when tugged on they will break off his belt, allowing him to ensure his own life and limb are not harmed. We truly love this idea for those who work in manufacturing settings!
We hope these ideas will help for those who are seeking innovative ideas to help follow Yahweh’s commandments in scripture. A special thank you to all the sisters who contributed with these great ideas. I know that I plan to use a few of them myself in the future.
Olive Tzitzit created and shared by Larry.
See the comment below for his testimony.
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Tzitzit in a Professional Setting
I have been into genealogy for a long time, trying to trace my family lineage. Sadly, circumstances beyond anyone’s control seem to have stalled a lot of my efforts and there is no way to find out exactly where some of my parent’s relatives came from. My mom’s side is the worst. I was told a sad story many years ago while interviewing someone about the records for the orphanage my grandfather’s father was in as a child. With such a small area to keep records in they used to burn records when they got to many. His birth certificate was in those records one year as they were burned and there is no current way to track down his information. On mom’s mother’s side, a lot of the records were destroyed in WWII. Her parents were from, according to family stories, somewhere in Hungary.
Well, Yahweh has a way of working all things out for our good and what he did a few years ago was miraculous.
I had talked with my mom several times about how I had left mainstream Christian denominations and was studying the bible more in depth. I had hoped to find where I belong in God’s earthly kingdom and how I truly believed. When it came to religious discussions, she did her best to politely listen, but mom was mad at God for a lot in life.
Four years ago, this month (February), mom went into the hospital for an emergency – something wasn’t right. She had stomach pains, and her heart rate was off. So, the doctor felt she should get some tests. When the tests came back, she and I cried together – doctor said she had cancer in her liver and it had spread to her colon. We explored a number of options, but mom just kept saying she was “tired and I just want to be done.” It hurt, but I understood. She was 73 and felt that she had lived long enough. Dad was gone, her mom was gone, and so many of her friends had died. She had already beat breast cancer years earlier, and she just didn’t want to fight any more.
Unhappily, we all accepted what was happening and decided to let mom do things her own way. That same year, 2014, I had decided to make some delicious, traditional Purim cookies for Jim and I to celebrate the holiday. I was on the phone with mom one day, and I felt a strange need to tell her I was baking "Purim cookies." She asked me what these cookies were all about – she wanted all the details. So, I told her about the Purim story, about Esther, Haman, the King, Mordecai. She listened as patiently as she always did when we talked Bible. Then I described the traditions for celebrating Purim and the Hamantashen, describing what they traditionally meant.
Suddenly she became excited and said, “My mother used to make me cookies like that every year when I was little!” She explained just how my grandma used to make them and said they were her favorite cookies! I said something about how it must have been at Christmas that grandma baked them because she used to bake so many different things for the holidays when we were little. Mom insisted that it was NOT at Christmas and it was NOT at Thanksgiving, either. She was adamant!
Mom explained that her mother baked her cookies just like Hamantashen, but she only baked them AFTER the typical American holiday season. She said her mother always said these cookies were special for “this time of year” and she always baked them sometime in February or March. Her mother never explained to her why “this time of year” was important, nor did grandma ever explain to my mom what was so special about the cookies. Grandma said her own mother had always made them yet didn’t explain why they were such an important family tradition. Mom just knew beyond doubt that her mother always baked the cookies sometime before my mom’s birthday in mid-March.
There were some differences between Grandma’s cookies and mine:
~ Mom called Grandma’s klotchkes. I have researched this term so many times but have not found a single recipe or reference to this spelling anywhere. The closest I can find is kolaches, which are very similar to Hamantashen. They have similar fillings but are a different shape. Mom was insistent on the spelling, though, and even said she would try to find her mother’s recipe. Sadly, mom got very sick too quickly and was never able to find it for me in her recipe box.
~ Grandma filled her cookies with poppy seed, apricot, or date fillings, while I much prefer date, fig, apricot, and raspberry jelly filled cookies.
~ My dough recipe is always citrus flavored with lemon or orange juice and natural oils, while grandma’s was more like a sugar cookie or almond flavored.
It was such fun listening to my mom who sounded like a little girl recalling how her mom baked cookies each year, filling the house with the smell of fresh baked sugary treats and yummy, homemade fillings. She reminisced about dipping her fingers in the fillings and snitching pieces of dough when her mom wasn’t looking. Talked of giggling and enjoying that time together and getting scolded when she got caught sneaking bites. She wished and wished that I could send her some cookies, and she imagined how she would just relish the flavor and savor every bite.
You know what I had to do, don’t you? Of course, I had to bake enough cookies for mom to enjoy some, too! I set to work making the pastry, homemade fillings, and baking cookies. I packed some very carefully into plastic tubs and tried to cushion them with paper towels inside the containers, so they wouldn’t jiggle and break. I wanted them to arrive as safely as possible, and then we mailed them.
I tracked the package and then called mom the day before they were to arrive and told her she had to go pick up the mail that next day. She asked why, and all I told her was I sent a little something. Even though she tried, I did my absolute best to not even hint what it was! I was so giddy with excitement and couldn’t wait for her to get her box.
In the meantime, Jim and I talked about the whole thing. Why would my grandmother, every year, bake a traditional Jewish Purim cookie around the time of year that Purim happens? Why would her mother teach her to make these cookies every year and why a family tradition? What made them so special for my mom’s family at “this time of year”? I then recalled how my grandmother used to use a lot of Yiddish phrases. I had realized that fact months earlier and had wondered why she knew them. Suddenly, it fit more into my family’s history than ever before. Little bits and pieces seemed to fall into place and we found ourselves asking, “Is my mom’s ancestry Hungarian Jewish???”
The next day I received the most precious phone call I had gotten in a long time. Mom was even more excited than before. She had opened her package and said she almost started to cry. My sister, who was visiting her, said mom opened the box and exclaimed, “OOOOOH! COOKIES!!!” And dove right in! Mom offered a cookie to my sister and niece who were both in the car with her, and they tried them but did not like them. Mom said, “So I told them, don’t you dare throw them away! Give them here! I will eat them!!! I will eat them all! And, Judith, I DID!!! I ate them every one of them!” Oh, my goodness I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. She bragged about how they melted in her mouth, reminded her of the ones she used to eat. They were so fresh and buttery. In spite of how she had been feeling, she was clearly happy!
Mom went on to tell me how they were perfect and tasted “wonderful.” They were exactly like she remembered from when she was a little child. She talked that day for the longest time about her childhood and about those cookies. Suddenly it occurred to me to talk to her, instead of from a religious perspective, but to tell her more about the Jewish Purim traditions to see if she recalled anything.
Mom didn’t recall anything about costumes or giving gifts of food. She didn’t recall a feast, special prayers or anything about the story of Esther. Yet she sure could remember those cookies and how important and special they were to her mother. She also recalled more Yiddish phrases than I remembered grandma saying. She told of her mother’s parents using Yiddish words and phrases all the time as she was growing up. I asked why they used them and how they knew so many of them. She honestly said she had never thought about it before – she had never asked.
I finally said something to her about how she and I have always wondered about her family history, and how she and I have never been able to find anything. I teased her about how many times she would call me after reading a new novel where she had seen a name similar to one of her parents’ last names. She would always exclaim, “JUDITH! I think we are (Irish, Italian, British, etc.)” She would then go on to explain how she saw a name in the novel that was similar. She would deduce how we must be that nationality. We would go online and search, and throw different spelling possibilities at each other, always to no avail. Each one simply leaving us still unsure of Grandma’s family history.
That is, until Purim 2014 when this cookie story erupted. I asked her, “Mom, do you think your mother might be Jewish? Hungarian Jewish?” She was quiet for a bit, but then she started to put other little memories together – most of them I forgot to write down. Looking back, I wish I had recorded them all. They are gone now unless Yahweh blesses me to recall them all and write them in my journals. All those little bits and pieces, alone, meant nothing all those years but, pieced together with the memory of cookies and all that Yiddish, clearly there is a history of Jewish tradition in our family.
After she and I talked that day, I searched to find information about Grandma's surname again. Nothing, as usual. But this time, I approached it from the angle of grandma’s parents being Jews who were fleeing Hungary. I discovered plenty of references which explained that during the era from the beginning of World War I to the end of World War II some Eastern European Jewish families changed their last names to more Gentile names. In addition to changing their name, some adopted a Catholic belief system in an effort to hide their Jewish ancestry and faith. Looking back at my mother’s family, she didn’t recall much about being taught the Catholic doctrines, and she didn’t have any understanding of the faith, but she did know her mother and grandparents claimed to be Catholic.
Suddenly, we both came to the same conclusion. Mom’s family were Hungarian Jews. There are too many coincidences for them to be coincidences, too many things that line up. I pray that one day we will be able to trace her family’s journey from Hungary to the United States through records and such that might not have been available in the past. Yahweh is good to us always, and He has already revealed so very much about my family.
Mom passed away that year, in July, 2014. I miss her greatly at certain times of the year. Purim seems to be the time I miss her most. The memory of her excitement over a simple box of cookies and the stories she told with such joy will be a treasured memory for years to come. I still don’t fully understand what exactly prompted me that one day to start telling her about the cookies and about Purim, but I thank Yahweh for inspiring me to do so. It gave us both such a giggle and such sweet memories.
I guess it was for such a time as this. . . . .
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The Day I Recognized My Family History
Not long ago, my husband asked me a thought provoking question on our way home from errands. As biblical teachers we often like to discuss stories and scenarios we see or hear, and go over hypotheticals, so that we are better prepared for times when people pose spontaneous questions to us. He asked me how I would respond to a story about a Torah observant minister. After hearing the story, my initial answer was that I would do what I always do. Yet I could not find a reason nor a way to scripturally defend my answer. His question made me really think because the example he gave made very clear sense at the time, but something felt “off” about what the minister had chosen. What the minister did was the opposite of what I knew in my spirit was right, yet I still could not come up with biblical proof to counter his decision and his scriptural justification. I was stumped.
So I spent some time thinking and praying about the example Jim had given me, along with his questions and BINGO! I had a response!
Here is the scenario Jim gave and the questions he asked me:
A minister shared a story about attending a function with several other ministers. The local ladies had fixed a big dinner for them, including a main dish which contained pork sausage. Because he followed a biblical diet of clean foods, he wondered if he should “show love” and eat the dish, or should he stand on principle by finding a kind way to follow his biblical dietary decision? This minister opted to “err on the side of love” and ate the dinner without a word.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33 KJV Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
The conclusion of the minister, based on these verses was that the commandment to love others “trumps” the food laws. His focus is on the section which says “Give none offence. . . “
My husband asked me what I felt about this and would I eat the main dish or not? Also, how would I counsel this person, based off their scriptural justification and their actions?
As I said before, my initial response was that I would NOT eat the dish. Yet no matter how hard I tried, other than explaining to him that I would find a kind way to get out of eating it, I could not find any strong reasons why I wouldn’t eat it. I also couldn’t find any good ways to say no because I would NOT want to offend anyone in any way. I knew that in not eating the dinner, I could run the risk of offending others, which I would never want to purposefully do. Yet, I also believe in standing firm on my faith as a living example.
During prayer, Yahweh impressed upon me what he would feel was right in this situation. It did not take long for me to come to my conclusion: YES! I would stand firm on my belief that I choose to eat a biblical diet. And NO, I would not eat the sausage dish.
Here are my reasons why:
1. The first thought that popped into my head is, why should there be any difference between a PHYSICAL reason to say no and a SPIRITUAL reason to say no? Here’s what I mean – imagine you had Celiac disease which had not yet witnessed a miraculous healing. Would you eat a pasta dish, bread and cakes they served and risk your own physical health simply to not offend the cooks? Better yet, what if they had made peanut butter sandwiches and you were allergic to peanuts?! Would you eat those sandwiches to not offend others, risking anaphylaxis and possibly death?
NO, you wouldn’t, nor would anyone cooking the food or serving your dinner expect you to eat it once they learned of your health situation. Yet we question it for spiritual reasons. We would not set aside our physical beliefs, why would we set aside our spiritual beliefs?
2. What love am I showing by not being an example of my beliefs? Yahweh has called us each to be an example of our faith and of the Word. By saying for months or years on end that I stand for a biblical eating plan, why would I sacrifice that example when served dinner that contains pork? Would it be LOVING for me to give the impression that I don’t practice what I preach? After eating that pork dish, one day in the future, those lovely ladies who fixed that dinner may be sitting in a conference or class where you are teaching on the topic of “clean meats.” How will they believe what you teach when you did not stand for what you claim to believe? Have you not made yourself into a hypocrite? Which would show more love for these sisters – a good example or a poor example, good fruit or bad fruit?
Galatians 6:3 WEB For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself..
Luke 12:2 WEB But there is nothing covered up, that will not be revealed, nor hidden, that will not be known.
3. I also question why anyone would be offended if what I said and did to apologize was done with such kindness and love, and without condemnation. My prayer would be that they would be kind and understanding in return and that, in standing up for my beliefs, they might see the Spirit in me.
Galatians 5:22-23 KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,...
Matthew 7:16 WEB By their fruits you will easily recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from brambles?
We must find a loving way to express to these beautiful sisters their work and service is appreciated, while at the same time standing firm on your beliefs and principles. It may take a few minutes of heartfelt prayer, asking Yahweh to fill your mouth with words of wisdom, but you CAN be an example for Yahweh – one who is filled with such love that it overflows and fills them with understanding. Before even approaching them, I would even pray for their hearts to be softened and opened to the words you share.
Looking at the same verses that the other minister used to justify his decision, you can see that it would clearly support my decision. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 KJV Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. I would eat and drink everything to the glory of Yahweh to ensure that I not offend them with a bad example of not standing up for my beliefs. For, if I am a bad example of my faith, clearly it might cause someone to stumble or find fault in me and could hinder their belief in Yahweh and cause them to question.
What a great testimony of truth you will be to others as they see you are willing to stand for what you believe! The witness you bear to them will stick with them for some time to come – my prayer is that it will be the most beautiful witness possible, a seed that will bring fruit in the life of others.
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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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