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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Lowering Our Standards For Love
This is not a political statement of any kind. It is not intended to be political in any way. It is a God statement. Period.
Several years ago, Yahweh put the burden on my heart to teach women His truth. He blessed us to create Torah For Women ministry where we discuss and teach principles based on the bible. NOT on what mankind has taught about the scriptural writings for 2000 years. Often I find myself having to cover modern day issues from a biblical perspective because, let’s face it, not every micro detail in our modern society is covered in the scriptures. BUT the principles from scripture can be applied in our lives.
Last year, Yahweh placed another burden on my heart to re-focus Torah for Women to encourage women in avoiding false doctrines and teachings while seeking after Spiritual gifts. I also felt impressed upon to teach that they need to teach their children rightly to be able to defend the faith as they grow older. In all this, Yahweh kept leading me to the verse in 2 Timothy 3:6 -7 WEB “For some of these are people who creep into houses, and take captive gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Repeatedly, Yahweh has pushed that verse in front of me as a warning of what will, and is, happening amongst the women of faith.
A few months ago, He placed another burden on my heart for our youth and to pray diligently for our children. Children ages 8 to 30 have been led astray by so many influences in their lives, which is why women need to be strong, faithful teachers. From school teachers, club leaders, college professors, friend’s parents, friends and more, our young people have been influenced to forsake their morals, upbringing, righteousness, and faith in the name of “let’s all get along” and “we need to love everybody.” In the midst of all this, they have even been fooled into thinking that we need to give up our basic rights in an effort to “make everyone happy” and avoid “offending anyone.”
None of these principles are biblical. Not one. They all go against what the bible teaches, and although I could spend hours focusing on that topic alone it is not why I am here today writing this message. In fact, I did not expect to be writing this message at all. I did not want to speak about this, and I certainly did not want it to be a part of our ministry, but it must be. I must say what is on my heart – because this week during my personal prayer time Yahweh impressed upon me to speak up against what I see and hear happening with the youth who have been touched by this horrific shooting in Parkdale FL. Again, as I said, this is NOT a political message. It is a GOD message. Plain and simple.
On February 14, 2018 something terrible happened in Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkdale, FL. Something that changed thousands of lives forever. We all know the details, we all know the accusations and the stories coming out, so there is no need for me to go into details here, especially as they are still unfolding. What I will talk about today is simple: those children and adults whose hearts are so broken by what has happened that they have yelled out that they don’t want our prayers and sympathies. They don’t want our love and kindness. These people are calling out, “Where was God during all this?!” and “Why didn’t God stop this from happening?!”
Well, here is MY answer to those thoughts and questions:
I am sorry that you do not want my prayers. It breaks my heart that you do not want me to pray for your comfort, courage and strength. But, I am going to pray anyway. I will pray for solace in your grief, peace in your heart and in your community, for strength to get through, for love to prevail as people struggle with the trauma. I will pray for protection over each and every person touched by this and may there be no residual deaths from this incident. Suicide following such a traumatic event is a reality sometimes. I do NOT want that to be the case in your community.
Your anger, your hurt and bitterness, your pain and anguish, your heartsick words – all of that is perfectly understandable at this time, and it all only strikes a chord in me even deeper than before. It tells me that you, your families, friends, children, loved ones, all need our prayers so much more than we ever knew or imagined. You need deep, heartfelt intercessory prayers and prayers for supplication. I wish this never happened to you and your community. I can’t take it away, but I can still pray for you going forward and I will.
"It happened, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,” Nehemiah 1:4-6 WEB
I do not know your pain, I cannot imagine what you are going through, and I won’t pretend that I do. What I do hear, though, in those words and tears is that people don’t understand how this could happen if we have a loving God. I hear hearts crying out “why” and calling to be filled with understanding yet aren’t finding it. I don’t know that my words here today will bring understanding to anyone. But my hopes and prayers are that you will see God did not abandon you.
God WAS there that day in Parkland FL. God has been there for over a year. God was there when the first concerned teacher tried to get help for the young man. God was there when the first student felt impressed to report his odd behavior. God was there when he impressed upon so many people to report every incident with this young man. Students, teachers, administration, leaders, friends all reported different things that could have brought his problems to light and could have prevented this shooting from happening.
“MAN” was not there for this school and community – for at least a year prior to the shooting, and even on that very day. “Man” failed these children, teachers, and families, not God. “Man” did not listen to all the voices telling them what was happening. We cannot blame God for what man refused to do.
God was there on February 14th during the shooting, and he tried to clean up the mess that “Man” made when they didn’t listen. Just look at the selfless people, people of great character, He had in place that day:
~ The Geography teacher, Scott Beigel, who died after unlocking a door for students and getting them inside to protect them.
~ The coach, Aaron Feis, who ran toward the shooting and shielded students from bullets.
~ The young JROTC student who died holding the door so other students could run out to safety.
~ The two JROTC students who escorted several students back into a classroom and covered them with Kevlar panels, blockaded a door, and stood ready to take out the shooter if he attempted to enter the room.
~ The librarian whose friend had been through Sandy Hook and survived by helping people hide. Because of her friend’s story of survival, she knew just what to do, ushered kids inside, into a small area, hid them and turned off the lights.
~ The miraculous healing of those who were critically injured.
There are countless other stories that will come out over time of heroes and heroines who were willing to do whatever necessary that day for those around them. Where did these people get the courage, strength, selfless nature that they have inside them if not from how He created them? Each one was in the right place at the right time to help to care for those in need and to help minimize what could have been horrifically much worse because that young man was determined that day to kill.
God was there that day, in so many ways, and I will continue to pray to Him for all those involved. I will continue to pray that somehow, someway Yahweh can touch the hearts of those in the community to come to know Him even more than before. I will continue to pray that in spite of the political noise, all will learn to focus on everything Yahweh was able to do during the the tragedy, all he has done since, and all that He will keep doing.
You have our love and our prayers.
Shalom. . .
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God WAS There. . .
I would like to share a little bit of my heart with you today. A sister was feeling a bit confused recently, a bit melancholy over things from her past. After seeing something from her old church, it brought back happy memories which made her “pine” for the way things “used to be.” She even felt concerned about whether or not her Torah path was the right one. Two of her thoughts have stuck with me:
~ Seeing these things from the past “Makes me wish for a spiritual life without all this opposition.”
~ How can I know if my new path is right?
Have you ever felt that way? Felt as if everything you do meets great opposition from friends and family which makes you question deeply if you have made the right decision.
In this Torah walk, it seems like we are hit from all sides sometimes with people’s opinions of our choice to live more biblically centered, not just following man-made traditions. We can be told it is everything from wrong to stupid, or anything in between. Sometimes people are not kind, not by any means. We can try to be as gentle and loving in our new choices as Yeshua would have been, but some people just don’t like what we do, our strong faith, or who we have become.
Two of the roughest times of the year, in my opinion, are Christmas and Easter. America is SO used to celebrating these holidays as mega-events with gifts and parties, dinners and events. If you choose not to attend any of these events, you often are accused of not being “normal.” Have you ever had that moment at a family get together where everyone starts talking about their last big family holiday dinner together? Everyone is remembering that time when so-and-so said this, or such-and-such did that, laughing and joking, then someone looks at you, gets sullen faced and blurts out, “Oh, yeah. YOU weren’t there because YOU don’t celebrate Easter (or Christmas).” Then suddenly it seems the nature of the conversation has changed because “the weird one” is there. Does any of that seem or feel familiar?
It is difficult when we leave our old churches or former belief systems. Many of us feel that we have to give up EVERYTHING that is Godly from them, even the truths that we learned, just to cut ourselves off from the false doctrines. When we leave behind false teachings like Christmas and Easter, many often also toss out everything that was comfortable and often these are things we found joyful at one point in our lives. Then when we discover our love for the feast days and Sabbath, we feel happy yet also out of place. We want to share it with all our old friends and our family, and yet often they will not be a part of what we now know.
For me growing up, Christmas was THE holiday in my family. We did it big - Dad took us out into the woods, we picked and cut a tree, he put the lights on, we all sang carols and decorated it while we had cocoa and cookies. He lit a HUGE yule log in the old fireplace. Even when we moved to Tucson when I was a teen, he HAD to have a house with a fire place so he could light his yule log. Oh, my goodness! Some winters he lit that log, and we opened all the windows and turned on fans because it was so doggone hot! Dad loved Christmas traditions.
We baked cookies with mom for a month, delivered them to friends and relatives, and then between Christmas and New Years we had parties galore. Then there were the visits to every aunt, uncle, cousin, and friend of the family. It was a BIG deal, and a huge part of my memory.
When I had kids of my own, I started the same traditions, and then added our own. Every year we baked and decorated gingerbread houses and delivered them to friends. The season was SO packed full of activities – caroling, watching Christmas programs on TV, we even drove around the neighborhoods and looked at all the houses decorated with all the lights. I have SO many memories as a child, teen and mother with my own kids.
When we “gave up Christmas”, the first year was actually easiest for me. Family and friends just thought we were weird, going through a “phase.” The second one, not so much. By this time, some friends and family had become aggressive in their opinions and began pressuring us to celebrate Christmas, one even demanding that we be present at their event. The third year, it seemed the emotional manipulations really got hard and heavy. It felt as though some people were trying to say, “GEEZ! Aren’t you done with that phase now? Let’s get back to Christmas!” Now here we are years later, and this last two have been very hard.
I know that using the term “emotional manipulations” might set some people off, but that is exactly what happens. Some will pull out all the stops, using your memories from your childhood, your elderly Aunt Ethel, or any number of other strings to pull at your emotions with the hope of pressuring you into doing what they want from you. The good-old-fashioned guilt-trip.
At first, I thought maybe these last two holiday seasons were rougher because we moved away by ourselves, out of state. Yet that isn’t really it. It occurred to me that our moving didn’t affect how we look at Christmas, but it did affect how others look at us during the Christmas season. These last two years we have gotten an exorbitant amount of pressure to come “home” for the holiday. Even though we don’t celebrate it, the pressure seems to say, “This is what is easiest for all of us back here. We all think you need to come here to us because it is convenient for us.”
Sadly, this last Christmas, we even had a hurtful moment happen where a promise was made to us because family was all going to be together for a big family dinner. They were going to call so we could talk to everyone all at once. We waited and waited. Hours past, finally we called to ask if dinner was done yet. Only to learn that everyone had left hours earlier and when we questioned about the promise, we very sadly were told it shouldn’t matter because “YOU don’t celebrate Christmas.” It wasn’t Christmas that we wanted. It was to talk with everyone who was going to be there for dinner because that was the only time all year that everyone was together.
Suddenly it was as if we were being told that unless we follow everyone else in the family, we will be punished, ostracized, shunned. At that moment, I really started to question if we are right in our feelings about the holiday. Maybe we SHOULD just go back to celebrating it. Just Christmas. I found myself feeling just as my friend does – couldn’t we make it just family time together and it would be without all the opposition. . .I even asked myself, How could so much opposition be the right thing?
The more I prayed about it, the more it felt WRONG to celebrate Christmas. I was so very confused. I do miss all the smells, the songs, the fun with the kids, I miss going to historical towns and seeing the homes decorated, all the sights and sounds and smells. I miss it all so much sometimes I physically ACHE inside for those memories to be real again. Yet, even though I still miss it so very much, I can't bring myself to do it. Yahweh told us to not celebrate pagan things IN HIS NAME. And of all the American celebrations that we have, Easter and Christmas are the most pagan of them all and THEY ARE DONE IN HIS NAME. I can’t celebrate them. No matter how deep the emotions and memories run, I cannot do them.
It is SO ingrained in us, such a part of our memories, and we can all recall some truly blessed times wrapped up in that neat little package we call Christmas or Easter. But it all boils down to one question: is the doctrine correct? What is true? It isn't easy on our hearts sometimes to stay the line and follow the straight and narrow path but is it wrong or is it RIGHT to stay in Torah. THAT is the question you have to ask yourself.
Some days it will be difficult, other days it will hurt like heck, but I know deep in my spirit that following a Torah Observant lifestyle IS right.
Torah observance isn't the reason we follow Torah. In other words, we don’t follow Torah as a score-card, the legalistic way, putting every check mark in every box on our Feast Day check list. We don’t follow Torah because it is easy or for salvation. Yeshua is the reason we follow Torah. When we accept him, that is supposed to work a true and righteous change in our heart. That change is supposed to make us want to live like Yeshua - always loving, sometimes stern, sometimes heavy handed, but always kind. We don’t follow Torah to be better than someone else, or more righteous than another. We don't follow Torah to BE righteous. Once we accept Yeshua, we follow Torah BECAUSE we are righteous. It is a change of heart.
Would I be tempted to go back to Christmas again? Probably at some point. And as my friend feels pulled to return to her old church lifestyle, I asked myself if I would want to return, too, if I felt those same pulls that she does? Yes, I probably would. But would I go?
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My Thoughts On Christmas and Easter
Timothy 1:4 WEB “…neither to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which cause disputes, rather than God's stewardship, which is in faith—”
Titus 3:9 WEB “…but shun foolish questionings, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”
The apostle Paul was very concerned over the churches during his final years alive. He wrote several letters which were read to the assemblies, and in them he repeatedly stated many things that the membership was to avoid in their faith walk. 1 Timothy 1:4 and Titus 3:9 both talk of something we have seen happening over the last few years in modern religions – focus on endless genealogies.
In early times in the church, it seemed the focus was on the "endless genealogies" of Judaism, similar to those recorded in Genesis 4, 5 and 11. These are the chapters where we can read the genealogy of the ancient prophets, kings, and some that may lead to the lineage of Yeshua. Today, this warning from Paul has taken on a whole new meaning.
Right now there are preachers and teachers claiming a long list of those who are “more righteous” than others based on their genealogy. What do I mean by this? Search online or sit down and talk to anyone you know who is involved in a church, and you will find that many Christians believe they are more right with God based on their belief that the New Testament was written for them, and the Jews are the lesser of God’s people. You will find that Jews believe that they are the chosen ones because they were chosen in ancient times.
There will be religions who preach they are chosen because they are of the remnant of Ephraim and Manasseh, or those who believe they are Levite or Nazarite. What about the churches who preach they are the only ones righteous enough to get to Heaven, and if you aren’t in their membership lineage you will not be saved? We see people arguing over two house doctrines, and others who claim all modern religion is based on false teachings and deception.
Could this have been something Paul saw not only in the churches Timothy and Titus led, but also in the latter days? He did speak of the churches and the sins people would become involved in – 2 Timothy 3:1 talks of perilous times that will come in the last days, and of all the wickedness men and women will give in to. This includes the warning in 2 Timothy 3:6 which warns of women letting teachers into their homes, which will lead them astray with false teachings.
Paul’s warnings to Timothy and Titus included consequences for those who follow fables and endless genealogies: these people will cause much strife amongst Yahweh's people, and create disputes about everything - including the law. He then reminds us that these are unprofitable and vain.
Wow! Paul was very accurate about the issue of genealogies - as in the past, many today continue to fight for their privilege, authority, or “special designation” based on their lineage. This fascination with lineage causes conflict and battles to the point it turns people against each other. People who were friends for some time, or family members, will turn on those they care about just to argue over who is from what house, tribe, or nationality.
We have even heard of people who are trying to prove their lineage through DNA tests to show they are of a particular lineage for religious purposes. This was something I recently studied for a paper I was writing about Paul’s warnings to the churches of the last days. Many believe their genealogy is valuable proof and evidence to prove to others where they have come from – Again for religious purposes.
One example of this is within the Mormon church who believe you must discover as many relatives as possible so that you can “do their temple work” for them to help get them into what Mormon’s believe to be God’s highest kingdom in Heaven. They have dedicated entire caves to store microfiche copies of old records such as birth, marriage, and death records going back hundreds of years. Entire businesses have been built on searching your genealogical records or family history, and although it can be truly fun discovering where your ancestors might have came from, we should not preach that salvation is based on whether your genealogy “lines up” appropriately with a desired group of people from the past.
In recent years, we have seen more and more debates crop up about genealogies and ensuring your lineage is attached to a particular group of ancient people. As Paul predicted, these debates and conversations end in controversial speculations about who is more worthy of salvation, or who has more “right” to a position in Heaven. These arguments stop any possibility of “advancing God’s work,” because the focus becomes solely on heredity and “special position,” or status with God. As people expend their energy searching genealogical records. Instead of wasting their time on this pursuit, their time and energy should be directed toward getting to know their Saviour more deeply. They should be spending their time on learning to let the Spirit make changes on the inside with their character, thinking, emotions, attitude, love, flesh, desires, and relationships.
This abrupt halt in spiritual progression happens not just with the people who are debating geneologies, but also with those who witness the arguments and become confused about God’s intentions for his people. Many times, it appears that both sides of the debate may be scholarly, and yet, if they truly are well-versed, how can they have such differing views as to who is the “rightful” follower of Christ? How can both be right about “who gets into Heaven or who goes to Hell?” How can they read the scriptures and proclaim one race of people is more loved by God, or more righteous than others?
You see, people are often found chasing after their personal “lineage” as if it makes them more righteous or more “entitled” to salvation or God’s blessings fall on one race of people more than race. These and other arguments are heated discussions often found in the the Two House Theory, and lost tribes discussions – as in which “tribe” you rightfully come from, whether a lineage is of the family of Ephraim or Manassah, or do you identify with being a Nazarite or a Levite, or are you just a descendant of pagans. To many people, this information will decide whether you are a part of the wild olive tree, or the natural olive tree, forgetting that both are grafted together, or that one branch may be cut off just as easily as another if the fruit is bad. Some will claim only Jews are saved while others will believe only Gentiles, so people will spend countless hours trying to prove they are or are not something out of fear for their salvation, or out of fear of losing their salvation.
This world has become so scattered since the Tower of Babel that it is often difficult to confirm with great certainty exactly what lineage a person comes from. As debates heat up, so does the market for DNA or genealogical “proof.” As of this writing there are at least 3 companies who claim to currently provide the most “accurate” DNA test available on the open market. Yet these tests are far from perfect. One example of this would be the test results of the Dahm Triplets that was publicized early in 2017.
With modern DNA tests, unless you are willing to pay a lot of money for a high-tech study, accuracy of the results may be questionable. Let’s take a closer look at the Dahm family example:
The Dahm Triplets are identical triplets. Initial results showed them to be 100% identical, just as expected. Yet when the genealogical breakdown came in, the test results were less identical:
Erica showed 16% Irish/English; 22.3% French/German; 7.4% Scandinavian
Nicole showed 18% Irish/English; 11% French/German; 11.4% Scandinavian
Jaclyn was did not show Irish/English lineage like the others, but instead showed she was 18% French/German; and 7.4% Scandinavian
As you can see, they “lost” much of their “identical” nature as soon as the test was broken down to actual genetic history. How could this be possible when their initial DNA results said they were almost 100% identical? It simply shows that we currently cannot put perfect faith on this scientific testing to show what genealogy we come from. How much trust should you put in your own test results showing you are or are not from a certain lineage of people?
What about studying out your family history through records research and then coupling this with your DNA tests for more “proof?” For those who have studied their lineage out by searching through piles of records in old archives or through one of the online ancestry services, even this is not a perfect method of demonstrating one’s genealogy or lineage. Personal examples of these are within our own families.
Years ago, I input my mother’s family history to one of these online services. After a time, someone else had gone into my Grandfather’s records and changed all the information on his parents and siblings, because this other person claimed he had come from a completely different family, with completely different siblings. Although the parent’s names were almost identical, the children were not at all the same. Upon closer examination, the difference was noticed also with the middle names of the parents. BOTH father and mother had different middle names from my grandfather’s parents.
The problem we ran into was, when this other person tied their family line to mine, it added and deleted names and places from my grandfather’s lineage. Yet this was information for which I had documentation and proof from my extensive research that validated my original entries. Although this other family had similar first and last names of their relatives, they mistakenly thought they had found a connection, but their changes to my family records online made the genealogical connections between our families connected. Their mistake impacted my mother’s family records and it now showed my mother’s family came from a completely different place than they originally came from.
Sadly this was not the only example. My husband’s genealogical records were altered as well, with a similar thing happening to my father’s grandparents line. These are just three examples within our family. To top it off, trying to prove our original entries were valid with documents was futile, nothing was able to be changed back to the accurate information on the genealogical records. Should any of our children search their family history out, they will discover information that may appear true, and yet the information is completely false.
Paul said, “…Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work…” and he was spot on with this statement. If we spend all our time testing out these family lines, we might find we are related to the tribe of Judah, perhaps, or maybe the lineage of Moses. Maybe we can go back as far as Noah – whom we are all related to! Or maybe we will be orphans somewhere along the line with no proof of anything going back anywhere. It’s all futile!
If we spend all our time worrying about what lineage we are, where we come from by using this faulty process of DNA testing, and genealogical research, where will it get you in the end? Why would you do all this? Do you really think all this effort and research is going to make yourself “more worthy” in the eyes of God? How much time have you wasted on documentation, research, and testing just to prove something that means nothing at all concerning salvation? Instead, you could have spent your time teaching truth, preaching the Gospel message, and sharing God’s love with family members, neighbors, and the world who are still wandering around spiritually lost. This effort would have accomplished something of worth for the Kingdom of God. Will it matter to people what tribe you, or they come from in the end, or will it matter more if you show them the truth of God’s word and his plan of salvation in the Gospel?
If we invest our time on God’s word rather than man’s vain theories about genealogical status, or the false teaching of lineage-based salvation, how much more could we accomplish for his kingdom doing the things we were called to do?
Blessings and Shalom. . .
Rosen, Jeff & Bomin Lindsey “How well do home DNA kits really work? See identical triplets try three of them” The Today Show, December 1, 2017 www.today.com/health/are-home-dna-kits-accurate-identical-triplets-try-3-them-t119472; Accessed: January 4, 2018
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I am always grateful for the blessed people Yahweh places in my life to reinforce scriptural lessons. This spring was another one of those humble moments.
It was a lovely morning in spring-time where I had every intention of just taking time for myself to re-focus - outside in the warm sunshine & fresh mountain air. After so many days of clouds and rain, the sun was a welcome change. I fixed my coffee, grabbed both my nature journal and my prayer journal then sat out on the front steps. I had a few days that week where I wasn’t feeling quite so connected to Yahweh as I normally feel, and all my personal plans were to just sit and listen for His impressions to rain down on me.
The neighbor down the way was out mowing his lawn, but other than that, the world was miraculously quiet. Even his mower sounded oddly softer that morning than most mornings. And that was okay with me. I couldn’t seem to concentrate much on prayer time, but finally a wonderful relaxing song came on my tablet, and I closed my eyes. The next thing I knew, there was that mower sound, getting closer and closer and closer. I opened my eyes, and don’t you know it!!! There was the neighbor, mowing OUR lawn for us! He has done this several times for us since we moved in, and in fact, he had mowed our lawn all last summer and into the fall last year. He knew we were waiting on mower parts to arrive, which they did - finally - right before the snow hit late last fall! A little late, but we tucked them away and just had not taken the time in the spring yet to put the mower together.
Our lawn is not a small 1/4 acre city lot, but is over 3/4 an acre, with probably about 2/3 of that all out front. And the grass grows very quickly and thick here. This was no small feat he was undertaking as it had been over two weeks since his last service to us because of all the rain we have had. Knowing that we had not had time yet to repair our own mower, I was actually quite grateful for the sound of his during prayer time.
I watched as he mowed right across the front of the lawn, up the side, then pulled up right out front of the porch to stop and talk with me a bit. He surprised me when the first thing he said was the most heartfelt apology for disturbing my devotional time! I was so taken aback - first, because he recognized why I am often out front sitting in the sunshine, and second, because here he was doing us a service yet he was apologizing to ME! I could not thank him enough for the mowing, and he remarked how he was pleased with just a simple thank you. We got to talking for a bit, and he asked several questions just to catch up on things: if we had found a church or assembly to attend, where we were going if we had, how the ministry is doing, etc. All topics we had not been able to discuss over the cold winter months.
I had the opportunity to explain that we hadn’t found a church here yet, and I felt impressed to share with him how difficult it is for us to “fit in” with a particular denomination. I told him we are Torah observant, and he asked me to explain that. I talked about the Feast days, the Sabbath, the Torah. He asked what exactly the “Torah” was, so I explained the first five books of the Old Testament, and then about how we seem to fit along the lines of Torah Observant, Pentecostal, Word of Faith believers in Yahweh. He laughed then said, “Yup - ya’ll won’t fit in anywhere ‘round here!!! Not at all!” I laughed. He understood completely as we are in an area heavy with religions that are set in their ways, and who wouldn’t quite understand our Torah observance. They are lovely, kind and beautiful people, but a very heavy “The law is dead” community.
He did say, though, that he didn’t realize how much he and his wife seem to share similar beliefs as what my husband and I have. Things like the Old Testament is the foundation and the rest is built upon that; that the modern holidays have gotten away from what God would have us honor, as well as several other basic beliefs. He brought up again how they are still looking for a new place to worship because they just haven’t found where they feel ‘right’ either. This was something he had also mentioned when we first moved in almost 2 years ago.
We then talked about some of the blessings Yahweh has been working in his life. He talked of things he has been led to do, dreams that helped their family get through different challenges, impressions he gets while he prays and even answers to prayers he has gotten while riding his mower! He said how much he appreciates having the extra lawn to mow because it gives him extra quiet time to spend with God. I asked him if he writes any of those dreams and impressions down, along with the results that happen. Does he make a record for himself and family. He mentioned he used to, so I took the chance to share with him about my prayer journals. I encouraged him to write them down - record every one he can because one day they may come in handy for him, his wife, or the children.
After he started mowing again, I couldn’t help but think of how Yahweh blessed us both that day. How I needed to be encouraged by his visit and to see that there ARE people here who are seeking a more biblically centered life, and how our neighbor needed to be encouraged by the same things. I absolutely love when Abba moves in our lives like that. Some days it’s the littlest things that show how much He loves us.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Love your neighbor
This is a lengthy one, but it is a question that was brought to us a while ago by an active member of the US military. We wanted to do all that we could to cover as much as possible to help make their journey with Yahweh as peaceful as possible while fulfilling their responsibilities and commitment to their job.
Becoming Torah observant and committing to following the Sabbaths and Feast days can be complicated in our modern age, especially for those who work outside of the home. Rearranging a job or business can be very complicated for some. One group who is particularly challenged are Yahweh’s followers who hold a military position. Certain schedules are required by regulation and immovable depending on rank or duty assignment. What can you do to make life easier for yourself, so that you can better follow Yahweh’s commandments, the Sabbaths, and especially the feast days?
To be honest, the first thing you should address is your personal belief on the subject of calendaring. Calendaring amongst Torah observant individuals is a seriously hot topic as many people have their own opinions and thoughts on the matter. Yet, what is right and just from the perspective of the Word?
Our first suggestion would be to have you read and study our free book on calendaring. No matter what calendar you are currently following, you may not know this perspective on the subject which addresses it from solely a biblical perspective. We cover exactly who has the right to decide which calendar to follow. This free e-book gives a different and clear scriptural perspective that others don’t often take into consideration.
At Shofar Productions (The main ministry) and Torah For Women we follow the Hebrew calendar. This decision was based on the information discovered during our studies before publishing our free ebook on calendars.
For those in the military, following the Hebrew calendar will likely have many blessings that you may not have thought of before. The dates for Holy Days will be the traditional ones used by most Torah Observant people, as well as businesses, and even school systems for the biblical holidays. The US Military uses this calendar as well to establish the Hebrew Holy Days which many of the Torah observant staff will follow.
For example, although your immediate supervisor and/or commander may not be willing or able to give you all the Feast days off, following the Hebrew calendar MAY make it easier for you to arrange for leave on at least SOME of the Feast days because they will coincide with the standard calendar dates used by your unit.
A plus is that since these will also likely be the same dates that other TO individuals on base will follow, you may find some common ground. You may find it easier to identify families with home assemblies or some on base religious services for Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah for Jews), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and for the beginning of Sukkot. You may also discover that with Sukkot, a space may be set up somewhere on base or at base housing where families are meeting in Sukkahs.
How difficult it is to actually get this time off, may depend upon whether your commander is willing to respect your individual religious views. It may also be dependent upon how many Torah observant people are in your unit, or in your job position. It may also be dependent upon how critical your job is. Security or law enforcment duties as well as medical may be critical positions which may not be easily replaced. Especially if you are new at your duty station. There may be others who will be given leave ahead of your request based on seniority. If leave is not an option, there may be a way to work some of your schedule around so that you have off on at least some of the Holy days.
What Do I Do If I HAVE To Be On Duty During High Holy Days?
You do the best you can to follow Yahweh’s commandments and the biblical teachings.
I have learned over the years that there are times when we make things more stressful for ourselves by believing that we have to make every Feast day and Shabbat absolutely perfect. It is still my dream (Or maybe my fantasy!!!) that we will one day enjoy just ONE YEAR where every single Feast Day goes HALF-perfect!!! There are times, though, when something like an ox in the mire just happens to pop up at the wrong time.
Our experiences have always been memorable, and many we look back on now and laugh. There was the year we put up the Sukkah only to receive a hurricane warning!!! Thank goodness it down graded to a tropical storm, but my poor husband was awake around 3 AM one night and heard strange sounds outside. He ended up chasing the Sukkah across the yard in horrible winds while trying to roll up the fabric sides, and trying to tie it back down again!!! There was the year it was stormy every night and bitter cold the whole week which prevented us from using the Sukkah at all. Then last year when we were in our new home, on the mountain, in the woods in a new state. When neighbors warned us of having seen a bear in the area, we just looked at each other asking, “Do we WANT to put up the Sukkah and eat every night with a bear????” We set up a make-shift Sukkah inside. . . .We have the same look on our faces this year as we learned that the copperheads come out in the evening and eat the cicadas and locusts between now and Sukkot!!!! If the two bugs are not gone by then, do we want to set up the Sukkah and run that risk of dining with venomous snakes???
Experiences like these have helped me to study deeper and become much more focused on the meaning of EACH Feast Day. And to also study what we can accomplish in the diaspora. You see, we can spend so much time trying to follow the Feast Days to perfection that we forget to understand the reasons for them, the meaning in them, and the lesson Yahweh would have us learn through them. We also run the risk of over-burdening ourselves to the point of not finding Shalom in these blessed times. Because of this, we might need to take a step back and relax for a bit. Then, to help with this, ask yourself, from the scriptures, “what exactly is required of me for EACH Feast, and what are those things that cannot be fulfilled because we do not have a Temple?”
Those things that are required that you CAN fulfill are the things that you should do your best to accomplish. Make your list and explore ways that you can accomplish these to the best of your ability while still working your duty position.
The biggest detail for Feast days is that there are times when we are commanded not to work. Then there are a couple where we are to do “no servile work". Examples of the differences would be that on the Day of Atonement, for example, we are not supposed to work at all. Yet the First and Eighth days of Sukkot are Sabbaths on which we are allowed to cook.
If you end up having to work/be on duty during High Holy Days, you will just do the best that you can to honor those dates.
The first thing to do would be to pray for those times to be quiet times at work. Next, here are some Ideas to remove as much work as possible from your Shabbat and Feast routines:
-- prepare for foods early for these blessed dates. If you have a place to keep canned or prepackaged meals, grab foods that you can keep easily for the 24 hour Holy Day. If you normally eat at a cafeteria, grab foods that you can store easily for the amount of time you will have for the Holy days. Remember, there may be a couple of them coming up that go right from Holy Day into weekly Shabbat - so for these you may need to stock up for two full days!
If you have a refrigerator that you can use, whether in your dorm or in the duty station, this is a BIG plus and will help with meals. You can easily put pre-made sandwiches into the refrigerator for you Sabbaths, or even “plates” for reheating throughout the holy times.
-- Shine boots, prep uniforms, wash laundry, do everything that you can in advance of Sundown on the Holy day. Weekly Shabbat is a great time to practice this and get yourself into the habit so that you don’t do unnecessary work during the Feast times. The more preparation done in advance, the more free time you have with Yahweh during that day. If you have to work, you may find an extra 30 minutes or more in the morning to read, study or pray before reporting for work.
-- Include as much prayer and study time as you can on those days. Do you have a small set of scriptures for your pocket? Or an APP on your phone that has the scriptures? How about a small pocket notebook and pen or pencil? Set aside a small section of this notebook, pick a subject that has to do with your becoming closer to Yahweh, something you have been meaning to study for a long time, or that is directly related to the particular Feast Day, study that and take notes in your notebook.
-- Prayer time doesn’t need to be in a closet, or on your knees if that is impossible. Have dead time while on duty? Close your eyes, focus on something prayerful, and spend that time with Yahweh. If someone asks, just explain to them you are doing the best, while on duty, to honor your religious Holy Day of (Whatever day it is). This might surprise you - they may ask for more information.
Remember that little notebook you brought with you? Before you leave your quarters, why not write down a list of people you know are in need of prayer that day? Social media, online groups, your home assembly all will have people who are in need of prayer warriors. This quiet time would be a great time to bring out your little book and pray for those on your list.
-- Try not to shop, or visit any businesses for personal things on those days. Make sure you did everything humanly possible prior to the Shabbat or Feast day by running errands, shopping, banking, etc before the day is upon you. You may run into that rare occasion where the officer in charge at work wants you to run to the store for something. Is it a real necessity? Is there a way they can ask someone else? For this one, you may find yourself in a personal dilemma - you don’t want someone else to break the Sabbath or Holy Day, but you know you don’t want to either. Weigh your options and do everything you can to avoid having anyone run the errand that day.
-- When working, do your job the best you can and think of it this way: preservation of life is key. Is your career field one that is required for the preservation of life? Security forces, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, EMTs, Fire, they aren’t exempt from honoring the High Holy Days, but often on a High Holy Day do have to fulfill the need of preservation of life. This tends to fall into the “ox in the mire” category. If you feel impressed after working, kneel before Yahweh and ask him to forgive you for anything that you may have done that He might find offensive, and ask him to guide you to ideas to make it better next Sabbath or Feast Day.
Some military personnel who have written to us and others we have read have stated that they tend to use some of the following as guidelines in their decision making as well:
Mission critical - you may not be able to have off or to honor the day because you and your unit may have a specific mission. Especially in cases of deployment. In this case, explore ways that you can do the best you can in that situation.
The Greater Good - remember that your responsibility is for the greater good. Think of times in the scriptures where Yahweh’s people needed to be protected. Were there soldiers positioned at key points to ensure that protection? Did they take “time off”? One example to study out would be 2 Kings 11:5-9.
You are protecting the nation AND family - part of the responsibility of the military forces is to be there to protect and defend against enemies foreign and domestic. You are honoring your contract and obligation to do this.
-- I often wonder if, while being in the military, eating clean may be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish if you are required to eat at the (cafeteria) or other on-base facilities. You may be able to see that some items served are obviously unclean. Bacon, pork chops and such are clearly not clean, but what is hidden in the ingredients may not be as obvious. You will need to do your best to follow your biblical diet by avoiding those products.
In the end, are there some who decide that getting out of the military is their only option? Yes, some have chosen to do this. It is a personal decision based on your conviction and conscience. Something that you will need to weigh after careful study and prayer on the matter. If you choose to continue to serve, you at least have ideas and options to explore to help you keep your Holy days, while also fulfilling your duty.
From Torah For Women, we wish you well, and may Yahweh bless you with the safety and protection you need to continue to serve. Our prayers are with you. Blessings and shalom.
Do you have more ideas that you would add to these? Message us and let us know!
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Torah Observance in the Military
“You shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God seven days.”
Leviticus 23:40 WEB
As Sukkot approaches, it saddens me to see so many people who are on extremely tight budgets that would love to decorate yet haven’t the extra money to spend. Many of us are in the similar situations, where other things are higher on the priority list right now. Maybe this is the year that many may need to take a step back and ask themselves:
“What would Gramma do?”
In days of old, would Gramma or Great-gramma run to Target, Hobby Lobby or Wal-mart and grab things that were already made? How did they decorate before silk flowers and straw wreaths, potted mums and mini-hay bales? They used what they had.
Well, I thought I would share what happened to me the other night. It was another moment when Yahweh was so very good to us, even with the little things. Another lesson learned!
First let me say that I fully understand decorations do not make Sukkot one of Yahweh’s feast days. Yet it does bring us pleasure to have some beautiful harvest items to brighten the Sukkah and house, and it also creates an atmosphere of celebration. No matter how the weather has been, what decorations we have had up, or whether we have had visitors to feast with, Sukkot has been special, enjoyable, and a truly blessed time with my husband every single year. Yahweh has always provided for us, both physically and spiritually during this Feast as well as during all other Feast days.
That being said, I do truly enjoy decorating for fall and for Sukkot because autumn is one of the most colourful times of the year. Last year I loved the meme that said, “My favorite colour is October!" It fit so perfectly. As we go to the stores, I see all these lovely things for hanging or just setting around the house and Sukkah. So many bright colours - yellows, oranges, reds, burgundy, green!!! I enjoy looking at all the new creations and found myself wishing we could get just a few things this year. There just isn’t any extra for spending on new autumn decorations. Even our garden did not help with squash or pumpkins to set around. These just did not grow in our new garden this year.
Instead of the excitement I normally feel, this year I was feeling a bit surly because I just kept dwelling on the negatives - how we were going to have to just settle with what we already own. As I was getting ready for bed one night, I half hearted said in my mind, “I wish we could do some nice, new decorations like wreaths, sprays, and stuff.” Siiiiigh.
Suddenly I remembered all the acorns that are falling this year. I was wondering what I might be able to make from them. As I searched online, more and more ideas came to me using things that we have around our yard and woods! My mind flooded with ideas for grapevine wreaths, acorn wreaths, candle holders, and even sprays to hang up outside!
Suddenly I was excited again about autumn decorating. I was excited that we are going to have plenty of new things to put around the house, outside and in the Sukkah. I could hardly wait for morning to come so that I could run outside and find those grapevines I had cut in the spring, and get started. I wrote myself a note with all the cool ideas Yahweh inspired me to write, plus I saved photos from websites onto my tablet to use as reference for making our new decorations. I even wrote down that I was hoping to make four large wreaths and one small one from the grapevines.
I went outside and started gathering vines and whipped together the first wreath. It went together SO easily, much more than I recall doing it years ago. I gathered more and more vines from the wood pile, and sat down to drink my coffee and work some more. When I was done, I was truly blessed to have enough vines to make FIVE wreaths for our Sukkah. The funny part was that I had completely forgotten about what I had written the night before about wanting 4 large and one small wreath. Later, when I looked at my note to cross off finished tasks, I was astonished to read what I had written the night before was EXACTLY what I had been blessed with from our trimmings.
While outside, I also found some decorative grasses growing in a ditch. I am hoping to use those to add to at least one or two of the wreaths to decorate them nicely. I gathered goldenrod, rose hips, and branches from other bushes growing around the yard. I hung bunches of dried herbs, too, that will add a bit of texture and colour to the wreaths.
In addition, I have several sprays of silk autumn leaves and flowers that I can include to brighten them up, too. Next week I also will be trimming and drying more wildflowers I have found growing around the edges of the woods, around the street and in the field. Between all these ideas, we will be filling our Sukkah not only with beautiful decorations, but each will be a true testimony of how Yahweh is our provider, AND of how beautiful the harvest is all around us. Yahweh’s creations are so beautiful to look at and enjoy, if we just open our eyes and look.
Thank you, Yahweh, for even the LITTLE things in life.
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What Would Grandma Do?
I don’t normally do crafty items as a blog article, but this year so many we know are on tight budgets. I thought I would share some of my ideas to help you decorate for autumn and Sukkot.
For years I have been making fabric stuffed pumpkins to set around for decoration. Normally I run out to the store and buy fabric, bring it home to wash, dry, cut and sew. This year, I have been trying to do all that I can as inexpensively as possible.
I went through all of my old fabric scraps and found several pieces that are large enough to use to make pumpkins from. So many colours and patterns! And so very simple to make. For stems and tendrils I used an old brown paper bag and pipe cleaners. So far I have 18 pumpkins, with at least 3 more to finish before Sukkot! I may make more, depending on how much time I have to complete them AND how much stuffing I have to fill them all. To think, I just discovered an old curtain panel in autumn shades hidden in a box that would make two nice pumpkins if I cut it just right!
I thought I would share this idea with everyone along with a photograph of our “pumpkin patch,” to help encourage you to use items you may have laying around. You can easily create some great decorations that can be packed away and reused year after year.
A quick note about ours, though: although there may be ways that these can be created to be safe for outdoor use, ours are not. I will be watching the weather during Sukkot to make sure they are not damaged should bad weather creep in. I will need to bring them indoors at night, as well, because the dew has started collecting as the nighttime temperatures have gone down a bit.
It is nice to know that, with these little additions and our new grapevine wreaths and woodland sprays, the Sukkah will be all set for the feast. Yahweh has shown us once again that there is no need to spend a lot of money, and in fact, you may not have to spend ANY money to create a festive atmosphere for the Fall Feast days.
We would love to hear what fabulous ideas YOU came up with to decorate YOUR Tabernacle for the Feast?
Directions for The Stuffed Fabric Pumpkins
Skill level: Easy
All you will need is:
Fabric –you can buy remnants, or use scraps. Old shirts, jeans, sheets and even t-shirts can work
Stuffing – Polyester fiberfill, or if you want to recycle, use old shredded paper!
Brown paper – lunch bags, old grocery bags, or brown craft paper for stems
Pipe cleaners or paper ribbon for spirals
The common fabric sizes:
16 by 21 inches for tall, thin pumpkins
5 by 12 inches for TINY pumpkins
8 by 16 inches for small pumpkins
14 by 25 inches for a large pumpkins
14 by 32 inches for even larger pumpkins
Cut the fabric to size, leaving clean edges for sewing.
Step 1: For a short, plump pumpkin, match the short, cut edges together, with the RIGHT side of fabric on the inside, and pin. For the tall, thin pumpkin, match the long, cut edges, right side of fabric together, and pin. The wrong side, or inside of the fabric should be facing you.
Step 2: Stitch a 3/8 inch seam, along your pinned edge, forming a tube. Iron the seam flat and turn the tube right side out. There is no need to sew finished edges on the top and bottom unless the fabric frays easily.
Step 3: Gather the bottom edge with needle and thread, then pull closed and tie off tightly. Partially gather the top edge in the same way, but do not pull tightly. Loosely gather and leave a large enough hole to stuff the pumpkin.
Step 4: Stuff your pumpkin loosely, making sure that it is fully stuffed, but not over-stuffed.
Step 5: Pull the top threads tight to finish the gathering the same as the bottom then tie it shut.
Step 6: To create the pumpkin sections like a real pumpkin, you will need thick thread (embroidery or upholstery thread), or yarn. Thread a long needle with a long piece of thread, tie a knot in thread end. Run your needle through a small piece of the gathered fabric at the center of the bottom of the pumpkin, anchoring the knot. Wrapping the thread around the top of the pumpkin, go all the way around the pumpkin, meeting the thread again at the bottom, dividing it in half. Pull a little tight so that you have an impression in the pumpkin where the thread has sectioned it. Tie a quick knot around at the bottom to hold the thread in place. Turn the pumpkin ¼ to the right to create another section. Take the thread around the top, meeting again at the bottom, tie the thread again. This divides it into quarters. Turn the pumpkin to the right again about 1/8 of a turn, to the next section and repeat the process two more times, creating a total of eight sections when finished. Remember to tie at the bottom each time around to anchor the thread and help keep sections taut.
Step 7: For the stem, cut a small piece of brown paper - crumple it nicely to look rustic. Then roll it up to look like a stem, glue the edges together, and glue it to the top at the center. I use a warm glue gun for this. For added effect, pipe cleaners can be used to make spirals, which are glued where the stem meets the pumpkin.
A quick note: there may be ways that these can be created to be safe for leaving outdoors all the time, but we don’t. We bring ours in every night to avoid damage from dew or passing night-time showers. Treat your pumpkins accordingly. And ENJOY!
Another note about stuffing - Don’t have the extra money for a big bag or box of polyester fiber fill? How about a couple of old pillows that you were thinking of throwing out? Is the filling still good enough to use? OR - Remember your paper shredder - I discovered this wehn I ran out of stuffing and needed to finish filling some pumpkins and found that the shredder was packed full. It wasn’t as easy to shape as the polyester fiber fill but it worked!
“Sometimes I wonder if what I say to people about God reaches them. I get frustrated that I can't help them see and hear the messages from Yahweh. I don’t want to see them tossed aside, but I feel like I can’t ‘save’ them all. . .”
Have you ever felt this way about your friends and loved ones? On your journey, have you ever wondered why you can’t bring all the berries in from the harvest? I did too. I don’t anymore. I realized some time ago that I am not able to reach everyone. . .
Let me share another lesson from the blackberry patch.
Picking blackberries a couple weeks ago, I tried to reach excessively far to grab 5 or 6 huge, juicy, plump berries in the woods that were about 5 feet away from the edge of our fence. My arms are not even 3 feet long from shoulder to tip of the finger, so you can imagine stretching 5 feet was. . . .A HUGE STRETCH.
As I extended my body out as far as I could over the fence to grab them, balancing on one foot, I got prickled, poked and scratched all over my arm and stomach. Then suddenly, the fence bent a bit too much, almost gave way, and I nearly fell face first into who-knows-what at the base of the berry bushes just the other side of the fence. I am sure I would have found a lot more prickers on my way down to the ground had I not caught myself. I might have also snagged all those thorns the size of tiger claws on the locust trees that have started growing there. I don’t know if we have enough bandaids in the first aid kit for what could have happened. Thank Yahweh I was able to balance myself at the last moment and did not tumble into the briars.
Dejected yet determined (and yes, maybe a bit stubborn, too), I moved my way down the fence line a little bit, picked the berries I could easily reach, and then stretched again to try for a few that were just out of reach. I pulled and grabbed as much as I could but they were still just a few inches out of my grasp. Finally, I lunged just enough to grab the tip of the branch that held the berries I was after. I attempted to grab them, only to have them fall to the ground and disappear out of sight.
I hadn’t learned my lesson yet, so again I moved my way a little FURTHER down the fence, only to try the same thing with similar results: as I lunged toward the berries, I bumped a bigger branch which hit the branch I sought, sending all the ripe berries into the air. I tried to catch a couple in the berry bowl, missed horribly, and they fell to the ground beyond view and very much beyond reach. Thank Yahweh I did not lose the ones I had already harvested in this mêlée.
By this time, I was finally getting a bit wiser, and realized that I have to accept that I just will not get them all. I had to admit that there are just going to be times when, no matter how hard we try, we just will not be able to reach some of the berries on the vine. We can work, stretch, grab, pull, and even lunge, but some berries just don’t seem to want to end up in the berry bowl. No matter what.
There often comes a time when we have to recognize that there is only so much we can do, and that we might need to step back, and allow someone else to have those berries that are out of reach or that fall to the ground. There may be a different purpose for those berries for now. One that we can’t see because of our hope for what we want to come to pass.
You see, although YOU may not be able to reach them all, those berries that fall to the ground will land on soil. As in the parable of the sower, some will land on good ground, some bad. Some in fertile soil, some not. And although it may not be the perfect situation in your own eyes, some of the newly planted seeds from your adventure may sprout anew. In a couple of years, you may be able to pick berries from lovely new bushes that came from those seeds you helped plant. In the end, the berry patch will spread, grow, and reproduce even more sweet fruit to be plucked up by the gardener. It may take time, patience, and cultivation once you see the seeds sprouting, but for now it may also be time to walk away and let Yahweh do the work.
Will I still stretch, and try to reach those who are just out of reach? Yes, I will, yet I have also learned a broader lesson. That is to assess the circumstances and what may happen if I push too hard, stretch too far, or do something that risks sending all the seeds flying in different directions! At some point, I may have to weigh the options and see that there may be consequences to myself, to those close to me, or to those I am trying to bring in from the harvest. Consequences I may not be fully aware of initially. Then again, there are also just some berries that aren’t for me to harvest because I am not able reach them.
Blessings and Shalom.
Matthew 13:3b-8 WEB
"Behold, a farmer went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them. Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn't have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”
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Lessons From the Blackberry Patch - Lesson Two
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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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