I have been thinking and praying these last few days about how the world is reacting to this Covid-19 virus, and the announcements of various governments around the world. I have been listening and watching the reactions of people, both online and in the public as we have ventured out. I have been weighing these behaviours against The Word of Yahweh written for us to bring us through these days.
This is what occurs to me.
At one point I read a story of an elderly man, someone who has been through the Great Depression. Someone who knows what it is like to do without - bread shortages, flour and sugar rations, and other things which greatly affected their lives during that time. This man has “seen it all,” you could say. He went to the store and, with everyone else in line pushing overflowing carts of toilet paper, he just wanted 4-6 rolls to get him through the month. That was all. Just to get through the month. He asked the customer of one cart that was over-flowing if they would sacrifice just ONE package for him. NO. He approached others, and not one would give up a single pack of toilet paper for an elderly man. Not one. I wanted to throw up. Literally – my stomach got so knotted that I felt like throwing up.
Is this what we have come to in America? If so, then it is time for people to check their heart!!! Do you know what hurt the most? Watching people who under normal circumstances call themselves believers, but under THESE LAST FEW DAYS, threw all of their compassion three sheets to the wind??? Yes, I went there and made a toilet paper reference!
If anyone would have, even for a brief second, questioned or hesitated about giving toilet tissue to that man, CHECK YOUR HEART. I will go even better on this topic, if you take one stance here on social media and while talking with friends, then you act differently in public - Check your heart!
And remember these words and use them as your check list:
When you have hoarded things to yourself or caused another less-fortunate than you to go without, what you just did was as if we had done it to Yeshua!!! Literally.
In Matthew 25:40 WEB it pointedly states: "The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, YOU DID IT TO ME.” (CAPS added for emphasis)
I may have repeated myself, but my hope is to drive the point home. Sometimes, in front of others, we may behave or speak one way, yet act or react completely different in another setting. Because of that, NOW is the time to truly examine Yahweh’s truth, the whole truth in His words recorded from Genesis to Revelation. THIS is the time to find out, discover, and examine how well are we witnessing of Him in each aspect of life.
Remember those verses in the New Testament that say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” We hear them often as believers, don’t we? Well, let’s look a bit more closely at the words in Matthew 7:12 WEB “Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”
I love this version because it is very direct: whatever it is that you want people to do to you, go out and do it to them!!! As you venture out to the grocery store or bulk store, can you say that you did to others as you wish to be treated? Another way of saying this is: when those customers denied an elderly man a basic personal care need, they want to be denied basic personal care needs. People will deny this. Yet scripture testifies otherwise!!! Next time you act out - positive or negative - in public: Didn’t you just express to others that you want to be treated that same way? What way was that? Were YOU a good example of Yeshua? Of His teachings? Did YOU exemplify Christ? Or NOT?
How about Luke 6:31 WEB “As you would like people to do to you, DO EXACTLY SO TO THEM.” (CAPS added for emphasis). Ouch. We often use these words to scold others for how they treat us, but is that what it truly says? I sometimes see things a bit differently than the rest of the world – I see here that we’re being told to treat others EXACTLY how we would like them to “do so” unto us. So, when you are rude, are you expecting to be treated rudely? Angry – angrily? Lacking compassion and denying basic needs to others – you want others to deny basic needs then to you.
I know believers who have taken pride in screaming in the faces of store clerks, cussing at store workers, cursing at family members! Using this teaching, we should ask them when they brag about it or demonstrate this in front of us, “Did you just give permission for that person to scream and cuss in YOUR face?” Of course, they will say no, and likely claim the person deserved it or “had what was coming to them.” But if you show or recite either of those verses to that “believer,” I pray you can show them how they actually ARE giving that person permission to do the same to them.
Reversing the attention in those verses should be an attention-getter for EVERY believer. How YOU ACT TODAY, TOMORROW, NEXT WEEK during this entire man-made crisis is a statement of HOW YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO TREAT YOU.
If you hoard all the toilet paper to yourself, then that means you want people to withhold TP from you in an emergency. If you ensure you buy all the meat or milk, cereals or pasta, and do not share with the neighbor who didn’t make it to the store before the panic, then you are stating out loud that is how YOU want them to treat you in your time of lack! Have you ever thought of it that way? I have – many times. It is one of the “exercises” I use regularly to try and keep myself in check.
I have used this throughout my life. If I want others to backbite or gossip, lie, cheat, steal, and covet from me, then I will do the same to them. Yet I don’t want people to lie to or about me, covet, cheat or steal from me. And so, I try my best to not do those things to them.
That is what those words are there for in the scriptures – to help remind us of what NOT to be. Yet many don’t look at them from the other side. Most often we try to use those words to put OTHERS in check for how they are treating us or those around us.
Take the time, please, during this trial in our nations. And think about how you are treating others. Remember that old saying about walking a mile in their shoes? Now is the good time to start that. Some days it is as simple as asking yourself, if I were the store clerk, cashier or manager, or even the other customer: would I want those words coming out of someone’s mouth aimed at me? Would I want them to behave that way toward me?
NOW, apply this daily with friends and family AND those you don't even know.
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YOU Did This To Me
Sometimes we make Shabbat stressful on ourselves without intending to. During those moments, we are trying to not offend Yahweh, plus we want to avoid appearing to others like we are stepping away from our beliefs on keeping the day holy. When something throws us a curve, we can at times, feel an overwhelming, almost panic feeling inside. This was one of those times where it happened to me. Most of the time my head is clear, and I just roll with the flow as ideas pop into my head to overcome a curve thrown at me. Yet because of the outside drama taking place in the world this week, I think I was already a bit "en garde" inside when this happened.
Shabbat dinner was supposed to be one I could toss together after sundown by reheating the rice, then throwing veggies and pre-cooked meat into the frying pan. It required some work but was still an easy meal. Yet SOMEONE (ME, ME, ME!!!) forgot that we Sprang Forward earlier in the month, and now sundown is at SEVEN-30, and not six-30! I don’t like to eat too late in the evening, yet wasn’t comfortable cooking that much during Shabbat hours.
I had most of the ingredients ready to just toss into the skillet or wok, but there was still some cooking and preparing that would need to be done. Much more than I, personally, felt appropriate on Shabbat. On the other hand, if we waited for sundown, I knew we would be eating way too late in the day for my tastes.
With my mind already fuddled, I blurted out-loud my dilemma to Jim, and he very calmly said, “Just throw it all in a pan and stick it in the oven! Then just rinse the lettuce and it will be ready in no time!” I felt so silly – here I was worried about over-working, and it was so simple! I grabbed a casserole pan, dumped in the rice, piled on the meat and veggies, sprinkled soy sauce and sesame oil on, added a baking lid, then popped it in our toaster oven. Thirty minutes later it was ready to toss into the lettuce and eat our bulgogi dinner!
We need to remember to just take a breath and think at moments like this. And if we can’t, then turn to Yahweh and ask, or to our husband, maybe even a friend and run it by them, calmly. Ideas always come, whether through prayer or through another’s calm. Such a simple solution which provided peace for me to just enjoy the last little bit of Shabbat Shalom.
Maybe this idea will bless you with inspiration in your time of need.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Quick Shabbat Oops!
We hope you have taken the time to read the first in this series where we disccussed “halakha.” With that understanding, let’s explore and explain lashon hara.
Lashon hara is a Hebrew term that is considered halakha. Simply put, that means a behavior which rabbis determined is governed by their laws. Lashon hara is part of “Jewish ethics” and, when violated, is judged by the Jewish legal system.
Just as there is conflict with the definition of “halakha,” there is conflicting information about lashon hara.
1) Some believe lashon hara is simply telling any lie.
2) Some believe it to be the telling of stories that are the ruin of a reputation.
3) While still others believe it means when someone upsets you, and you declare they have offended you.
4) There are also people who believe it is ANY information spoken that might bring harm to another, true or false. In fact, some believe this includes speaking positive things about a friend or relative in front of the person’s enemy. Why? Well, it is beleived that this could tempt the enemy to commit some spoken offense against the person.
This has come about because, just as in halakha, Rabbis in different sects, orders, and communities have defined lashon hara according as they have been led. Here are just two examples:
A) To some, lashon hara is the truth spoken for a wrong purpose. Jewish law segregates truth spoken from lies spoken. Lies fall under the classification of defamation, and not lashon hara.
B) The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion, however, defines lashon hara as: “Every kind of trafficking in evil report or rumors—whether true or not—by carrying them from one person to another, or by relating unpleasant or harmful facts about another, is forbidden.”
There are many more examples we could draw from, too. But these two examples will give us some ideas of what could be considered against Jewish law. And using scripture we can also show that Yahweh would not approve of these actions, either:
- Trafficking – spreading reports in any way. Today this would include face-to-face conversation as well as telephone, social media, text message, etc. It is interesting to look up the definition of the word “trafficking” because it means to “deal or trade in something illegal.” When it comes to our words or stories spread, it makes it sound pretty covert, under-handed, and evil.
Leviticus 19:16a is an example of “trafficking.” “You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people.” This verse is a good visual of trafficking as it shows movement when it describes someone who will “go up and down.”
- Wrong purposes, evil speaking, or evil reports – Often there is negative motive behind the trafficking of stories. Negative motives (wrong purposes) include things like envy, jealousy, pride, greed, vengeance, bitter root, etc. These motives aer what lead to words spoken with evil intentsuch as negative speaking that taints a reputation.
Proverbs 28:25 WEB: “One who is greedy stirs up strife…”
Proverbs 21:24 WEB: “The proud and haughty man, "scoffer" is his name; he works in the arrogance of pride.”
James 3:16 KJV: “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
The bible is rife with examples of potential motives which people use to spread rumors against a
brother or sister.
- Tale-bearing – This includes idle talk, often sensationalized, or implied; meddlesome stories; tall tales, lies.
Proverbs 20:19 Douay Rheims: “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets; Therefore meddle not with him that openeth wide his lips.”
2 Thessalonians 3:11 Good News Translation: “We say this because we hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people's business.”
- Scandal-mongering – similar to tale-bearing, but more scandalous, implying a ruinous rumor. “I heard that man died suddenly. Maybe his wife was cheating on him, and he walked in on them together then had a heart attack!” The only truth in this statement is likely that the man died – the rest is scandalous speculation about alleged infidelity. This goes well with the scriptures about meddling and idleness listed under tale-bearing!
- Insinuation - That situation where someone sounding exasperated says, “Goodness! Don’t even ask me about what Susie did the other day!” Then leaving it to hang for minds to wander.
- Gossip – includes pretty much all of the above and anything even similar to all of the above!
We have all heard these verses in Proverbs 6:16-19 KJV which read “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Four out of the seven Yahweh feels are abominations fit into what we just described, don’t they?
There is another aspect I would like to bring up which is in addition to the person does the actual SPEAKING. Jewish law says that both the speaker and the HEARER are guilty of lashon hara. You may be exclaiming WHAT? HOW?? Well, this too is scriptural. Many people don’t believe or realize that sitting and listening to someone gossip makes us just as guilty as the person speaking it.
Proverbs 20:19 WEB: “He who goes about as a tale-bearer reveals secrets; therefore don't keep company with him who opens wide his lips.” The talebearer reveals the secrets, but we are not to keep company with those. We are to remove ourselves from that situation, from that immoral influence.
Proverbs 17:4 KJV: “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” OUCH! If we listen to those false lips, we become an evildoer, too. We will appear to be liars as we willingly listen to the “naughty tongue.” If we stick around to hear stories, while nodding our heads, we give the distinct impression we are in agreement with what they say. Should we speak against these stories later, this can make us appear hypocritical. Or worse, if we speak the rumors to others we literally become liars for sharing false information. Which brings us to the next scripture I would like to share.
Exodus 23:1 WEB: “You shall not spread a false report. Don't join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.” We must not listen to these stories and spread them, and we must not join forces with those who spoke first. Let’s be real with each other - when we hear one person speak about a situation, we are only hearing that one side. If we turn around and repeat only that side, we are not being honest. We have put ourselves, whether intentionally or not, in a position to be a malicious witness by speaking those stories as though they are truth.
1 Corinthians 15:33 WEB: “Don't be deceived! Evil companionships corrupt good morals." Also see the KJV translation: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Whether it is evil companionship or evil communication, it will corrupt our morals and our manners. We can be led astray – so we must be careful to not be deceived by these temptations.
We MUST be aware of our speech, and we must be aware of the situations we allow ourselves to be in. Scripture says there is the power of life and death in our tongue, in the words we speak. God hates gossip (tale-bearing) – He calls it an abomination. Speech is VERY powerful – it can make or break people’s spirits, emotions, testimony, even their character and reputation. Look at it this way, Yahweh spoke this world into existence! How powerful is that? So, do we need to be aware of our words and be cautious of what
So – can we say that rabbinic lashon hara is biblical?
With all this scriptural evidence we would have to say that yes, in principle, lashon hara is biblical. Yet, we would stand firm to say RABBINICAL LASHON HARA IS NOT a message that we teach. You are probably asking a big WHY? Well, we see issues with using lashon hara in our modern day.
A big issue is that lashon Hara is an official claim in Jewish law made against another person. Biblically speaking, the court of judgment that was set up was the Sanhedrin and was made up of 71 men who heard cases. These led to judgments. Once the Jewish people entered the era of the diaspora, though, they were often cut off from the Sanhedrin by distance. After that point, the decision was made to rely, instead, on a panel of three men when there was conflict that could not be settled. These three men could be three rabbis, or could be just three men the individual community believes are "wise."
This small board of three men who are determined wise enough to judge – this would be called a Beit Din. Yet this is Judaic law, not biblical law. In non-Jewish circles, where people are “Torah observant Christians,” they do not fall under the judgment of rabbis, or this council.
Who, then, makes the decisions in a case that involves a Non-Jew? With all the variations of Christianity and Torah observant communities, who decides right and wrong? It depends.
We recently saw a perfect example of who decides outside of rabbinics. A case came up in the Christian churches where a preacher/teacher was accused of grievous sin. The accusations went public and part of the concern was that there were untruths being spread. In Jewish circles, this would be a case of potential lashon hara. It took some time for those of similar faith to come together and examine the case. Eventually, a board was appointed to bring in an investigator and then hear evidence leading to a decision. This IS an option which can be used. Just as was done in biblical times when Moses called the Seventy. Yet even this can go awry.
A couple years ago, I witnessed one person very upset over the words of another on a social media group. The offended person claimed lashon hara SO vehemently that several other people got involved in the situation. Three men got together in the background, appointed themselves the three wisest men, and they made a judgment in this case. I honestly never stuck around long enough to see how it turned out. Neither did the accused – because it was clear that the “trial” was not fair, nor was it impartial as all three men were deeper friends with the offended. There appeared to be no chance of impartiality.
Another issue we have seen with lashon hara is the flexibility from order to order, sect to sect, community to community, etc., just as with the term halakha. In fact, in researching this topic, there are several websites which contain lists or descriptions of EXEMPTIONS for lashon hara. In other words, there are times when you CAN commit lashon hara and the rabbis will not punish you. In some cases, they believe lashon hara is a “mitzvot,” or commandment. In other words, you are commanded by the rabbinic laws to speak lashon hara, and the if you don't do it, a punishment can be issued.
A nut shell
Well, that is lashon hara in a nutshell. I may have left you with more questions than answers. The summary at this point is that lashon hara is a rabbinic term for what they decide is evil speaking, and it is governed by Jewish ethics and law.
As I said before, it is not a principle Torah For Women will teach. Here are our reasons why:
1) It falls under rabbinic rule. It is halakha – and therefore, must be tried and judged by rabbis or a council of wise, Jewish men. We are not under rabbinic rule.
2) Although based on Biblical principles, lashon hara is, in our assessment, too flexible in both deciding what is and is not “lawful,” and in deciding who hears the cases. These two show a lack of consistent and proper discernment as what is lawful and who hears cases can change with a change in popularity, as we explained briefly in our first article in the series.
3) Our biblical evidence shows that the principle goes along with Yahweh’s teachings. Therefore, since rabbis have decided that sometimes it is a “rabbinical commandment” (or mitzvah) to BREAK a commandment of Yahweh’s, we cannot support this thinking. There are rare circumstances when we may have to choose between two of Yahweh’s commandments, but we should never put ourselves in the position to choose between MAN’S religious “laws” and YAHWEH’S.
Yahweh’s Word is our final authority. Not Judaism. Not Christianity. Not MAN, no matter what man’s claim of authority over us.
In our next articles in this series, we will explain better Yahweh’s teachings on gossip, as well as go over some ideas in our modern society of what can be considered a violation of His teachings. We can also explore who judges us in these areas. We hope to also explain "conversation" well enough for you to feel comfortable when talking with friends and loved ones.
Jewish “Permission” to Commit Lashon Hara
Jewish Encyclopedia Link to Lashon Hara Article
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Lashon Hara - Part 2
Before reading this article, please understand this: I am a mother, a stepmother, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, and for over 25 years was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who also had kids in public school, too. My years of experience cover a broad range of areas which is best suited for another article where I can talk about it in depth. For now, I am showing you this to say, this isn’t a topic I address lightly. I DO, however, address it from a Biblical perspective. I pray you read to the end for the full perspective. So, let’s take a look.
I used the term a lot years and years ago, too. Domestic engineer. It is the term coined decades ago to put a spin on homemaker, or housewife. Somehow society decided being “JUST a stay at home mom” was not worthy or valuable compared to outside employment. Thus, women began to assign an official sounding title to their position as wife and mother.
When you look at books, blogs, and instructive articles from the job placement industry, the common description for “domestic engineer” is that it is “gender neutral,” politically correct, and implies “value not possessed” by the applicant. This last part is because the main focus is on the word “engineer.” You see, from a job placement perspective, stating you are an “engineer” implies a higher level of education in that specific field – as in tech school or college. When it comes to the other two phrases, “gender neutral” and politically correct, most women have probably never thought of “domestic engineer” as being either. Instead, many, including I, felt it added “value” to the years of being a mother and wife away from the professional workforce.
A question I asked myself here is: why do we, as wives and/or moms, feel the need to use a politically correct, gender neutral term which was coined just to make women appear more “worthy” or “valuable?” Aren’t we worthy and valuable just as we are? When I say this publicly, I tend to get a LOT of women riled up. That is not my intent, not at all. It is an honest question to ask yourselves.
I understand what drives us to do it: we feel belittled by the world for our contribution to society. We feel that we don’t get enough credit, recognition, or respect for our willingness to stay home and raise a responsible, respectable, resourceful, and wonderful family. Yet there is the other side of the coin, too, which was pointed out to me.
Have you ever thought what WORKING mothers think? It is an interesting perspective. I read the comments from about 20 working women who are also wives, mothers, and also several single mothers. They state they do the same things YOU do. They are homemakers, housekeepers, “chief cook and bottle washers.” They do laundry, balance check books, handle household expenses (pay the bills), help with homework, nurse illnesses and wounds, run errands, “soccer mom” and more, just like stay at home moms do. SOME homeschool their children with the help of a co-op or other relatives, too! PLUS, they work at a profession, sometimes in the home, sometimes outside the home. What do WE do that is any different from their efforts, they ask.
Another perspective is one my husband brought up to me – men don’t go to work and add job qualifications to their resume or work description when they become dads, buy a new home, and such. We don’t see men stating they are now lawn care specialists for doing yard work, or electrical engineers for replacing outlets, fuses or trouble shooting a blown circuit breaker.
I know my words by now are firing up a lot of ladies but, please, follow me out to the end.
Could we be exaggerating (puffing up) our title when we are claiming that normal everyday life experiences somehow qualify us for a loftier label? Moms and wives work hard – I know! I did. Still do, and it is just the two of us! I don’t even need to go into all the responsibilities we each have. There are countless blog articles out there that can sum all those up for us. But working moms/wives and all dads and husbands work hard, too!
Could one reason we feel under-valued be that we see so many articles talking about how much we should be paid based on all the jobs we do? In my lifetime I have heard income numbers ranging from $56,000 per year annual salary to $150,000 per year! When we hear that dollar amount put to our “position” as homemaker, it often makes us feel as though the world should appreciate wives and mothers more. And this can lead to our desiring a witty or clever title, rather than simply being content and pleased with who we truly are.
Putting a professional sounding label on our job because society, or even we, feel it needs to be painted as less “lowly” than another job gives the impression that we agree it is lowly, or of less value. It implies we believe the worldly portrayal that one group is more esteemed to God or society than another.
Remember, stay calm and keep reading! I am leading you somewhere. I promised we would be looking at this from a biblical perspective. So here we go.
We are IN the world because we are born into it, but we are not to be OF the world, are we?
In John 17:14-18 Jesus prays for the disciples and says, “I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world.”
We have His word to learn from, and we, too, have accepted Him as is described here. Yet still, just as then, the world works to demean us and often hates us because of what we stand for – especially traditional families as described in His Truth. So, we must ask ourselves, because we are not of this world, why do we desire a label which appears elevated in the world’s eyes? Why do we seek worldly esteem more than praise ourselves as the treasure Yahweh created us to be?
We are supposed to believe that Yahweh values us greatly, beyond measure and that he wants us to see ourselves that way, aren’t we? We are told in Luke 12:24b that we are to consider even the ravens, how he cares for them, and then, “how much more are ye better than the fowls?” (KJV) We should always remember we were created in His image. (Genesis 1:27)
I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well. Psalm 139:14 WEB
I ask, if these verses are how we are to see ourselves, then why do we give in to what the WORLD says about us? Why do we apply the same lack of value to our roles as parents, homemakers, aunts, uncles, neighbors, mentors as the world applies? Why have we allowed ourselves to fall into that same trap?
One thing I have realized over the years is this: the world chooses to devalue all of these influencers because often the world cannot see the “forward value” in what we do. They simply see us as “just raising kids,” yet those kids will one day be applying for jobs, going to college, volunteering, training others, and so much more. What we teach them now is immeasurable!
The world sees little value in the family these days, especially a traditional one. Let’s step up and show them the value. Show them WE value our roles as wives, mothers, aunts, mentors, neighbors and such.
I gave up calling myself a domestic engineer some time ago. Because I realized that I was a HOMEMAKER and that was what Yahweh called me to be. Although I am now called to ministry with my husband, I am still a homemaker, only now my home includes an extended family that one day will include spouses for ALL of our children as well as more grandchildren, and prayerfully – one day – even great grandchildren.
Proverbs 22:6 Tells us we are to train up children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it. Your responsibility as a mom, a wife, and a homemaker is GREAT in the sight of God! Even if you have no children of your own, you mentor through your loving example: your nieces, nephews, neighbor’s children, those in your Sunday school class, even children in your community – you are helping to train them to be the next generation of productive people. And for that, I am truly grateful. So should the world be!
One day, a new boss or professor will say, “WOW! That (Insert child’s name here!) is a great person, hard worker. He/she was raised right!” Whatever your job was in raising those new adults, your diligence and dedication will bring new light into the world.
Sisters, I hope that you have made it this far in the article. Because it is my hope that we will stop belittling our roles in life and see ourselves for who we truly are. Be proud of who you have become in raising your family. Be proud of how Yahweh sees you! Be proud to say that raising our next generation of leaders, executives, hard workers of every kind, moms and dads who also believe in their value and the value of others is worth more than words can say!
Don’t ever be ashamed of being a mom, an aunt, a mentor, a good example, a homemaker for the children of this world.
Be proud of your job! I am proud of you!!!!
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Am I A Domestic Engineer
(Note: CAPS added merely for emphasis)
The college where I attend right now is a Reformed theology college. Sometimes I take a little break from the lectures because it can get somewhat . . .sad, I guess you could say. An example of this is how much I am avoiding my Theology 2 course because the messages are so negative. So much of the negative we go through in life, many of my professors believe, Yahweh did it to us on purpose, and don't teach that it is a consequence of our fallen world in which we live or of decisions we might make. One of the big reasons why we don’t follow Reformed theology.
I have to say, because I sometimes may be a little extra aware of this kind of thinking, people say things that often catch my attention more than it might others. In listening to another person’s teachings recently, I was saddened to hear the man say that we don’t deserve Yahweh’s love. He believes that because “we are sinners,” we aren’t worthy of his love. I was pinched at my core with those words. Because, by that belief, then we will NEVER be worthy or deserving of all the love Yahweh showers down upon each and every one of us every single day.
We all make mistakes in life. We are likely to sin – sin is transgression of Yahweh’s teachings – which are based on LOVE. I sinned this week – getting angry at someone I love. But guess what? We worked it out, and through Yeshua’s teachings of grace, we both forgave each other. WHY?? BECAUSE BOTH OF US ARE DESERVING OF EACH OTHER’S LOVE. EACH OF US IS WORTHY OF THAT LOVE. Just as we are each worthy and deserving of Yahweh’s love.
What does it mean to be “worthy?” It simply means to have adequate character or value.
How about the word “deserving?” It means to be qualified for the reward or assistance of another, based on our character and qualities.
Jim pointed out to me – Genesis – we were created IN HIS IMAGE. You might ask what that has to do with this discussion. We are each created magnificently, beautifully, humbly, greatly, with goodness and joy, peace and power – it’s all there, somewhere inside each of us. Yahweh sees that in us.
No one sees our true qualities and character better than Yahweh. No one sees our true heart better than HE does. Only HE knows what is truly hidden deep down inside us. So only He can make that decision accurately of our worthiness or our being deserving of His love.
I wrote another article some time ago about being blessed in spite of myself. Let me share with you, this week was another of those times. In the midst of my personal conflict, in spite of our individual natures, Yahweh blessed me greatly – with a sweet sister in faith who prayed for me the perfect words I needed to hear. She didn’t even know all the details of what was going on, she just opened her heart, prayed for me and The Holy Spirit whispered to her what I needed to hear. How did I deserve that when I had sinned?
I was given a group of ladies who helped me on my page to find a product that I could use. They all jumped in so willingly, kindly, and openly to make suggestions I could study out for myself. So loving, so kind, and wonderfully helpful. THEN, Yahweh blessed me with a coupon in the mail for that kind of product for almost free which helps our budget out greatly!
And finally, without asking, a kind friend sent me a PM with ideas on how to make my new videos better. She also showed her husband, a retired IT guy, one of the videos and HE gave her ideas to pass on to me, too!!!
I had been asking Yahweh, “How am I going to do ALL THIS on my own??? I just don’t know Abba! Please, HELP ME!”
And, in spite of myself, He felt I was worthy of His great blessings and His great and wonderous love. Yahweh felt I had adequate character, value and was qualified for His assistance.
I am not saying we are ENTITLED to His great love, nor am I saying we are ENTITLED to His great blessings. Entitlement implies it is yours no matter what – a guaranteed benefit from Yahweh. And Biblically speaking, it is very clear that entitlement DOES NOT WORK. How many times did His people feel entitled only to lose their blessings? How many times did Yahweh WARN THEM not to become complacent, not to take for granted all the great and wonderous blessings He showers down upon them – out of love. The big examples are easy to see: The flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet there are others.
Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (WEB) Moses tells the people of Israel: It shall happen, if you shall listen diligently to my commandments which I command you this day, to love Yahweh your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, and your new wine, and your oil. I will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and the anger of Yahweh be kindled against you, and he shut up the sky, so that there shall be no rain, and the land shall not yield its fruit; and you perish quickly from off the good land which Yahweh gives you.
In Judges 6, the Midianites, Amalekites, and others constantly came against the Israelites, constantly ruining their crops, livestock, and destroying the land, making it impossible for Israel to thrive. When they cried unto Yahweh, this is what happened: It happened, when the children of Israel cried to Yahweh because of Midian, that Yahweh sent a prophet to the children of Israel: and he said to them, "Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, 'I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said to you, "I am Yahweh your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell." But you have not listened to my voice.'" (WEB Verses 7-10)
We cannot sit back and continue to sin expecting that He will just continue to grant us flowing blessings. Even as His people of old, if we disrespect His grace and love, EXPECTING it without recognizing Him, honoring Him, without praising Him, and without our own desire to change our hearts – we run the risk of experiencing what His people have in the past. Not as lightening bolts of punishment shot down upon us. Simply by the removal of His grace, protection, and provision until we awaken to the fact that WE need to change, to be more like Yeshua.
We should NEVER take for granted or minimize our responsibility to live as though we are worthy of all that He showers upon us. We should always recognize when we make mistakes that we need to repent, take it to Him, set it straight with Him and with whomever else, and we should be willing to work on that issue in our lives. To not repeat our same mistakes.
We have been given benefits by Him already, Psalm 103:1-11 reminds us to not forget those benefits and reminds us how great His love is: (WEB version)
“Praise Yahweh, my soul! All that is within me, praise his holy name!
Praise Yahweh, my soul, and don't forget all his benefits; who forgives all your sins; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your desire with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Yahweh executes righteous acts, and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the children of Israel.
Yahweh is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness.
He will not always accuse; neither will he stay angry forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor repaid us for our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his loving kindness toward those who fear him.”
We can also find encouragement in the words of Yeshua recorded in Luke 12:22-30 (WEB):
He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, don't be anxious for your life, what you will eat, nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they don't sow, they don't reap, they have no warehouse or barn, and God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds! Which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his height? 6If then you aren't able to do even the least things, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if this is how God clothes the grass in the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith? Don't seek what you will eat or what you will drink; neither be anxious. For the nations of the world seek after all of these things, but your Father knows that you need these things.
I pray you now see how YOU qualify for the reward and assistance of Yahweh, simply based on your character and qualities which He sees inside of you.
Blessings and shalom.
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Are You Worthy?
What is Lashon Hara?
The simple answer to this question is that Lashon Hara is a Halakah term for “evil speech” or “evil speaking.” To answer this more in depth, we should first define “halakha,” what makes something “halakha,” and is it different from a Biblical commandment.
I will try to make this as simple as possible, yet halakha truly can get very complicated. An example of this would be in defining the different levels or types of laws (mitzvot) that Jews have and practice. There are explicit (direct), implicit (implied), and deduced (reasoned out) commands. Plus, some are binding commands, and then again, some are not.
Complications also come in the variances of halakha and mitzvot from order to order and ethnicity to ethnicity. Jews are no longer simply one religious order. Just as Christian denominations have multiple divisions, Jews have political, cultural, and religious divisions, then there are subdivisions and micro-divisions within each of those as well.
Determining what halakha means to each group or individual could take quite a bit of time. For the sake of this explanation, we will keep it a bit more generalized.
What does Halakha mean?
According to Encyclopedia Britannica online, halakha “in Judaism, [is all] the laws and ordinances that have evolved since biblical times to regulate religious observances and the daily life and conduct of the Jewish people.”
What can we gather from this definition? Well, a few things.
1) Halakah is a term used in Judaism.
2) To some it is considered to be a complete accumulation of every Biblical commandment, and every ruling which has evolved out of rabbinic midrash since Biblical times. It also includes rules brought about through traditions. To others, it is simply all those laws and ordinances that have come about after Biblical times – coming from the midrash between rabbis as questions arose.
3) It is used to govern Jewish people, their religious ceremonies, rituals and practices. These include all daily activities and conduct of the Jewish people.
Another definition can be found at Jewfaq.org: “Halakha comes from three sources: from the Torah, from laws instituted by the rabbis and from long-standing customs. Halakha from any of these sources can be referred to as a mitzvah…” This definition is a contradiction, though, of scripture itself. The Torah explains we are not to add laws to or take laws away from scripture. Sadly, over time, many of the laws (commandments) instituted by rabbis or customs are now considered Jewish laws (commandments) and have been added to what Yahweh has commanded us to do. This is where the rabbinic division of binding, explicit, implicit, and deduced commandments comes in. It has created a great amount of flexibility in beliefs from one group of people to another.
An example of custom becoming commandment would be lighting Shabbat candles as a mitzvah (commandment), which is even one example JewFAQ brings up in the article on halakha which I reference. They claim lighting Shabbat candles as a mitzvah will increase your spirituality and relationship with Yahweh. Not only is there no commandment existing in scripture a for lighting Shabbat candles, but this a perfect example of a tradition or custom that was made into law by the rabbis. If a group believes candle lighting is binding, it becomes an addition to the Torah.
Much of what is considered now to be halakha comes from the oral traditions. Some oral traditions might be based on biblical traditions, while others can come from debates between rabbis, known as midrash. Many of these oral traditions are recorded in the Talmud. Yet, these types of decisions can also come from modern rabbis as they are confronted with questions based on our modern inventions or conditions.
Do you see how going in depth into this discussion could get time consuming or possibly even overwhelming?
For now you have a basic understanding of what halakha means: it is anything the rabbis have certified and declared as definitely a commandment. But the level of commandment may be flexible.
What makes something halakha?
Torah commandments, almost by complete default, are halakha, or certified by the rabbis as commandments. We accept and agree that Torah commandments are clearly commandments. Yahweh gave those commandments in the Torah, the people accepted them, they have been recorded for us to follow. Yeshua tells us that they are all hung upon the greatest two commandments: to love God and love our neighbor. In other words, to be loving to both Yahweh and our neighbors, we will follow those other commandments as they lead us to maintaining our change of heart.
Now, throughout the centuries, when there have been questions or conflicts in the community, often very specific ones regarding following Torah, those issues would be brought before the Sanhedrin or rabbis and cases would be heard. Those conflicts and questions often are the ones which fall into the “gray areas” surrounding each of Yahweh’s Torah commandments. They may include very specific detailed issues that are not covered by scripture. The leaders discuss and debate after hearing evidence. Then decisions are made. These decisions can be made law for the community, halakha.
According to Aish.com, there are two details that are important here. First, “…it was impossible to include every concluded case in the Oral Torah. It would also be impossible for the Sanhedrin to decide in every potential case. Therefore, God gave each qualified Torah scholar the right to decide questions of Torah law.” 
This means that, even in the Talmud, not every decision is recorded. And, even back then, not every case was heard because there was only so much time to hear cases. This gave special permission from the leadership to allow the local Torah scholars to make new laws at the local level.
Second, “When a community accepts a rabbi as their religious leader, his decisions are binding in all cases. The rabbi of a community may even reverse the decisions of his predecessors.”  These local rabbis are somewhat like our judges when they are appointed. They are given authority to make decisions on behalf of those in their community, and enact laws to help them govern their homes, families, and the community.
Just like our judges sometimes behave, rabbis, too, are often granted higher decision making “powers” based on their popularity. Picture our judges who side with one particular bias. You can pretty much guarantee they will always side in favor of that bias when cases come before them. When placing a judge in a higher court, that bias can become power if the local politicians want laws to lean a certain direction. The same can happen in communities with rabbis.
In fact, aish.com discusses the ways in which laws are passed and says,“...in a question of rabbinical law, the opinion of the greater authority is followed, whether it is stricter or more lenient. The religious leader with the largest following is always considered the greater authority.” (Italics and underline added for emphasis) However, if they enact some form of halakha (new law that needs enforcing), the community then is governed by the popular vote, not necessarily by the depth of right and wrong.
The conclusion then is that halakha is made when rabbis hear cases, discuss precedence, and come to legal decisions for their community. They can make new laws, change old laws, and add to existing laws. They also create laws which help to, in their opinions, fine tune or clarify Yahweh’s law written in the Torah.
Is halakha different from something biblically commanded?
Yes. . . and no. Because Yahweh’s commandments are included in those things which are considered halakha, Biblical and halakha are not necessarily different. Yet, because many new laws are added which are halakha, some halakha can be considered dramatically different from Biblical commandments. So, if we stop at those things which Yahweh commands, halakha would be fine. But because so much is added as commandments, it is something we need to be very cautious of. Lest we become legalistic.
Basically, Yahweh commanded us to do certain things in the Torah. We know that. Those are clear. But because there have been debates over the centuries regarding micro-details and variances, countless new laws have been added. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all the laws which the Jewish people follow.
Next we will explore what Lashon hara is.
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What Does Halakha Mean?
Have you seen them? You know – those posts where someone asks for prayers for a certain situation, then suddenly the entire thread is filled with medical advice, opinions, and treatments the requester needs to try. The entire conversation wanders away from the original appeal - PRAYERS.
We have witnessed this many times.
Over the years, it’s happened repeatedly after we petitioned prayers for people through our ministry page. Requests came in for babies diagnosed with critical illnesses, preemies, elderly, accident victims, cancer patients, emergencies and more. When prompted by Yahweh, sometimes we also post requests for our own family. The requests are always for prayer, not for medical advice.
Many times, though, strong opinions of some remedy that worked for one person or another is pushed, sometimes forcefully, then elevated above what the requester asked for: prayers. The most difficult time to watch this happen is when young parents have been given a critical diagnosis for their infant or toddler, and they are dealing with so many emotions, decisions, and pressures. From a ministry perspective, the last thing they need is to be told to use a remedy recommended on social media. What they need is “virtual hand-holding,” like a virtual hug, all wrapped up in compassion and comfort. They need prayers for Yahweh to fill them with courage, wisdom, and understanding, and they are seeking prayer warriors to stand with them.
Imagine, for a moment, the modern social media attitude applied to Yeshua’s ministry. He is called upon to heal someone, just as we pray to Yahweh now in our prayers. Yet, instead, everyone starts calling out their favorite home remedy, natural solution, or dietary change that will be the perfect healing answer to the ailment afflicting the sufferer. What just happened?
Well, Jesus walked into the room when called upon, reached out his hand to grant the miracle, yet humans invalidated the power of that great blessing. The impact of that moment was stolen in the blink of an eye, or you could say: the sound of a spoken word. Crushed is the chance for Yahweh to work in the lives of all those present, not just the person seeking healing, but every person there would have a witness of His great wonders. Instead, He is pushed aside, and the latest, greatest “perfect healer” is elevated above Him.
There is a time and a place for medical intervention, but when families post prayer requests, they generally already have that part well in place. Medical advice given amid prayer requests appears as the opposite of what was asked for.
Luke 11:10-11 KJV “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”
Families or individuals asking for prayer are like the son asking the father for bread and fish in these verses. Yet, the father, gives a stone and a serpent. Someone will say this does not apply and isn’t even the same. Yet it does, very well. The son needed something that would satisfy his great need: hunger. Yet the father gave him something that was not at all helpful at the time. And in fact, was of either no use (the stone), or might bite him on the hand, causing harm.
People are already surrounded by those who can address the medical needs – doctors, specialists, nurses, and such. You may disagree with their choices, you may believe there are “better ones” that you would choose in the same circumstances. Yet you are NOT in their circumstances. Instead, give them what they asked for, what will satisfy the hunger that they have at that moment. A spiritual hunger, a hunger for the body of Christ to stand with them in their time of need. Anything else merely comes across as a disruption or distraction as families attempt to maintain the spirit of the original post.
I recognize that many times people offer treatment ideas out of concern and sincerity. Put your emotions aside for a moment and recognize theirs. I respect the fact that many people choose natural remedies, treatments, and nutritional paths to heal or maintain their own and their family’s health. We have even used many ourselves over the years and continue to use them. Many have worked to help our bodies heal and to alleviate symptoms, yet we also use prayer. And when we ask for prayer, whether for ourselves, our family members, or those who Yahweh prompts us to ask prayer for, why not offer what is asked for: prayer.
I believe some of the greatest courses I have taken in college are those that help in dealing with people in a medical crisis. Some days I think that as believers, all ought to take classes on being better “listeners,” so that we are better able to handle social media situations such as these. Families are asking for spiritual guidance, direction, support, and encouragement. If we are better “listeners,” or readers in the case of social media, we will better serve both Yahweh and His people.
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Asking for Prayers
Yes, we have covered this before in one or two of our blogs, but it deserves repeating:
Shabbat is easier than many people make it.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn
of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 KJV
Sabbath is a topic that we get a lot of questions about – many of those questions are about what we are or are not “allowed” to do on Shabbat. We get a lot of questions about washing dishes or cleaning up after ourselves during the 24 hours of rest. Many believe it is a sin to wash dishes on Shabbat. Others claim they cannot wash dishes on Shabbat because they are homemakers and washing dishes is a part of their normal daily “job.”
Whatever your reason is, I always try to teach sisters to do this: Put yourself in their shoes. Whose shoes? The shoes of those in the Exodus. Or, I guess in their sandals! Take yourself back in time and think of what life was like way back then: a nomadic family with limited resources, limited supplies, and no cooler or travel grill. What would Miriam do???
During the Exodus, their lifestyle would have been one of living in their shelter out in the desert, cooking meals over open fires, grinding flour by hand – often with something like a mortar and pestle, no refrigeration, no cold cuts, no theroses, and no convenience store along the way. It would have been much more challenging than our lives are today when it comes to food preparation, serving, storage and clean-up.
Ask yourself: Would they have left dishes laying around the campfire or tent until after sundown the next day? Chances are, by morning, there might not be much left to clean up because leaving food scraps around the camp would encourage all kinds of critters to come and wash the dishes for them! They would have likely known that some things just must be done to prevent worse from happening.
So, like I said, put yourself in their sandals and think about cleaning up after yourselves. So many will ask, though: Should you and Could you do any of these things? We aren’t supposed to do work. So isn’t cleaning up after one’s self WORK? You will find, I am not a strong proponent of those who preach the long list of Sabbath restrictions often found in rabbinics, where it is recommended that you run a sink of water and let everything sit until the next evening.
I much prefer the instructions which encourage us to be sensible. Cleaning up after yourself is not work, it is practical and prudent. There is nothing wrong with washing up some of the dishes as you go through the day. Even some strict rabbinic believers will suggest setting aside 1 dish per person. Then, when that person is done eating, they simply wash their dish, rinse and set aside to dry for the next meal. Imagine how nice it would be after sundown if you did not have to clean 6 of everything times 3 meals!! We tend to do this and leave only the difficult dishes such as caked on foods or pots and pans. That is all we leave for later.
Take for example, this lesson we learned some time ago, thanks to two mice who decided to invade our home during the middle of an autumn week. We live in a woodsy area, and although our own yard is quite clear of trees, we do have woods in the back. Mice sneaking into the house in autumn is a common occurrence, unfortunately.
On mid-week that week, I noticed the mouse evidence in the kitchen and, as usual, was completely grossed out!!! Out came the SERIOUS cleaning supplies as I washed and sterilized every counter-top and rewashed all the dishes, pots, and flatware!
Not knowing if we had caught all the mice by Shabbat, it was clear that we were going to have to take extra measures this week for clean-up. I made sure that all the dishes were washed throughout prep-day, dried then put away. Normally a few may linger after preparation is finished, but not this week! I was serious about this: After I made our ice cream, I even stuck the ice cream tub into the refrigerator over-night on Thursday to allow it to completely thaw before washing it Friday and putting it back in the freezer. Normally I would leave it on the counter or in the sink to thaw – not this week!
Here’s the thing about mice: they have been around since the dawn of time. They are annoying and can carry illness and disease. They are NOT allowed in our home, especially the kitchen!
We tried to make as few dishes as possible for Shabbat dinner Friday evening, and as few pans as well. Then we washed them, and stuck them in the oven, microwave, cupboards, wherever they fit to ensure no one would be leaving trails that would need to be rewashed in the morning.
Now, we could either leave our dishes over-night and all day on Saturday in the sink allowing mice, if there were any left in the house, to get all over them, pooping and peeing as they go. Or we could be sensible, quickly wash, dry and put away the dishes we had used. We chose to clean-up as we went along, ensuring there would be no further contamination of the kitchen should any mice be left.
There are two other examples I can give. One that happened a few months ago, and one that just happened this past Shabbat.
Countless times I have heard people say, even if you spill or break something, you must just push it off to the side and not clean up anything until after Shabbat. Everything involved with cleaning up would be working on Sabbath.
I am not sure what I did that Saturday a few months back. I don’t honestly know how it happened, but it happened. One of my tempered glass bowls that I loved using for cooking and preparing foods was used as a serving bowl for something dry and was sitting on the island in the kitchen. Ever have one of those days when you just seem to be butter fingers? Yup! That was me. I picked up the bowl, and it just seemed to throw itself up in the air, bouncing from hand to hand until it slipped through my grip and went crashing to the floor in a million tiny shards. That glass flew into places I didn’t even know existed until they sparkled in the setting sun!
Now, according to some rabbis, we must just push it aside and keep on Shabbatin’!
No. Not this mess. There were micro-shards everywhere. On the floor, of course, but also on the stove, counters, island and believe it or not, I discovered a shard on top of the refrigerator the other day! It HAD to be cleaned up or someone could have been hurt.
We swept with a broom, mopped with a wet disposable mop, then vacuumed, just in case. There was no way that disaster could have been ignored.
This past weekend, picture this: Friday evening. Sun has set, Shabbat has been opened with prayers. Dinner is served, and we are going to eat on TV trays while watching a movie. As we go to settle in, I hear water running in the one bathroom and something does NOT sound right. I set my food down and wander in to discover the floor is flooded. The toilet sprung a leak.
I have read before, in a case like this, many suggest it is wrong to mop up the mess on Shabbat. Just toss towels into the water and leave it until morning. But we were concerned water may have leaked under the cabinets and into the wall between the bath and the office.
Here are the big questions:
Should we just toss towels in it, or wipe up all the water?
Should we fix the toilette leak? Or just turn it off and wait until the next evening?
In this case, I would mop up the water, tossing the towels into a basket or the tub and wait until we could put them in the washer. I am not going to wash the load until the next evening. There is no harm in leaving wet towels for a day. We did this and also turned on a fan to dry out the bathroom cabinets and wall, just in case.
As far as the toilet, I would weigh the options. Is it the only bathroom? If so, then it gets fixed as best as possible. Ideas for this could be to shut off the water to the toilet and, using a bucket, get water from the tub, pour it into the toilet after using it and allow that to flush the toilet.
If the leak is bad enough, it might require new parts which would need to be purchased immediately. We would do this with as little fuss as possible, making as few people work as possible. In this case, it could be considered an ox in the mire situation. If it continues to leak, it could make the entire bathroom need to be renovated. THIS is going to be a personal decision for each individual family to make. It is not up to us to find fault if they have the urgent need to accomplish this task. It is between them and Yahweh. Remember, too, that Shabbat is a day of rest. Having to deal with complaining children or family due to uncomfortable situations is NOT going to bring Shalom into the home, nor is it restful.
In our case, it is not the only bathroom we have. Additionally, the leak was from the valve inside the tank squirting up, hitting the lid and spewing out all over the floor. We could leave the lid off, and turn water on and off inside the tank if we needed the second bathroom for some reason. In the meantime, we could just use the other bathroom and work on it the next evening.
Urgencies and emergencies happen, and each family will need to weigh them for themselves. What their needs are, what they can successfully do without, and what will allow them to clear up the issue while not disturbing the desired shalom of Shabbat. Also, cleaning up after ourselves is not a bad thing to teach ourselves, our children and grandchildren.
I like to use this example when I explain cleaning up after one's self. Imagine Saturday morning, and I went to the library where I got out four books to read and study. I go through three of them and decide they won't work toward the idea I want to execute. So I leave them laying around, go back to the library and grab three more. Now I have seven books laying around. Yet if I had just grabbed those three I am not using, stuck them back on the shelf before grabbing the next ones, I would still only have half the mess. Makes sense, doesn't it? Children can learn this principle, too. If they are going back to their room for more books or toys, take the ones with them that they already have out. Simple. And it doesn't make it work, it just makes it sensible.
The Sabbath is to be a day of rest, yes, but it is not meant to be a day of mess making and laziness.
Blessings - Judith
"And these are they which are unclean unto you among the swarming things that swarm upon the earth: the weasel, and the mouse, and the great lizard after its kinds,..." Leviticus 11:29 JPS Tanakh
Bible references for touching unclean things, such as mice, their feces, and things they may have contaminated.
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Lessons From A Mouse In The House
As a new decade begins this coming week, I realized 2019 was the fifth anniversary of Torah For Women Ministries. In that time, we have evolved in ways that I never expected. From having been blessed in those years and led to move on a ridge in the Appalachians to recognizing what we are NOT identified as in the denominational quandary surrounding believers these last couple of years. We are a caterpillar emerging as a butterfly.
In recent weeks, we received several private messages asking, “What are you?!” While in posts and comments we have been labelled as being one belief system or another, all the while not knowing how to fully explain our faith base. People like words or terms they are familiar with. Yet there isn't one that sums us up completely. We KNOW who and what we are, we KNOW what we believe and how we act out our faith. Yet to explain it to Christians and other Torah observant families is sometimes difficult.
I realized this past week that we need to clarify. The major reason why it has been so challenging for me, personally, to explain is because of what everyone worries about these days: The NUMBERS.
Truth be told: my concern has been that the followers of Torah For Women Ministries will fall away, and we will lose the base of women whom Yahweh has blessed us to reach. This concern does not come from a desire within me to have large numbers as a tally or a score card. No, it comes from concern that, if we lose those followers, the number of sisters which we are blessed to touch will decrease and then, the number of families we can touch in this tumultuous time of immorality will shrink. The result could be that fewer families are led to His Truth.
Yahweh called me to teach those women and families of whom Paul spoke to Timothy. I have shared these verses countless times before. Yet the last few weeks, while struggling with a few personal things regarding people close to me, I have realized it is time to stand up and stand firm against this fallen world. If the numbers drop because of what I am about to say, then Yahweh will find other ways to testify to those sisters and families. I will have to accept, for now, it is not my calling to reach those who choose to leave, and that Abba will put someone else in their path to touch their hearts.
So here we go:
When did TFW come into existence?
Sometime in 2014, Jim came to me and said he felt led that we should go into ministry together, and not long after Shofar Productions Ministry was born. I kept praying to Yahweh to reveal to me what my role was to be in this journey; what responsibility was I to play in this new endeavor?
Some months later, I felt very strongly impressed that we needed a women’s ministry aspect and that I was led to start this division within Shofar Productions Ministry. I mentioned it to Jim, and he said he had been waiting for me to come to him about this! He spent the next couple of months working on a website for a women's ministry. He worked hard focusing on Torah For Women’s website and a day or two before my birthday at the end of October, 2015, the website was launched. TorahforWomen.com was officially “born.”
What is the main mission of Torah For Women Ministries?
Although the focal point Yahweh initially put upon my heart was 2 Timothy 3:6-7, and the need to help sisters of faith recognize when someone with false teachings of any kind is creeping into their homes, over time, verses 1-5 have clarified this goal. Therefore verses 1-7 have become extremely important to our women’s ministry as the moral and political path of our world has gone topsy-turvey, and as women of faith have begun to compromise even the most basic of commandments of Yahweh.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 KJV says “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
THIS is the vision Yahweh laid upon my heart almost 5 years ago, and it is coming to pass in our followers, my friends and even our families. As television, movies, and even social media invades our lives, compromising is running rampant. More and more people find themselves in positions to compromise their moral standards and say “What else can we do? We can't fight against what is happening!” But we CAN.
We can stand up. WE MUST STAND UP.
Lately, I witnessed a large number of sisters RISE UP against immoralities and cancel television services, movie services, internet programs, social media apps, and even more to protect their homes and families. I PRAISE YOU SISTERS!!! Thank you for being great examples of morality to your friends and families!!! KEEP IT UP!!! Those who are willing to stand their ground are the ones who are standing against what Paul warned would come in the last days. You are doing the very best to protect children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from the evils of this world! I am hugging you all!!! Warriors for Yahweh.
What “denomination” do you consider yourselves to be?
THIS is so complicated to answer. But there is one thing we know we ARE NOT:
We ARE NOT a Hebrew Roots ministry. There – I said it. Recently we have been accused of being Hebrew Roots, yet we do not call or considered ourselves Hebrew Roots. Why? Because that movement has been for some time, filled with anger, venom, and seriously false doctrines. It has gone down pathways we do not desire to be associated with in any way as those teachings and beliefs are NOT of Yahweh! We backed away from this pathway long before many others did because Yahweh led us away when we witnessed more and more strange doctrines creeping in and leading people astray.
In 2015, I did everything I could to scrub our women’s ministry of any and all ties to the Hebrew Roots Movement. If by chance you stumble across anything that leans on that movement, I would gratefully appreciate it brought to my attention, and I will review it as soon as possible.
What then do we consider ourselves to be? Well, we ARE Messianic, yet we don’t often use this term because it causes many to believe we follow all of the rabbinic traditions tied to Messianic Judaism. We believe the Bible reminds us of Yeshua’s words that the burden is easy, and the yoke is light. (Matthew 11:30) Many of the cultural traditions taught in a rabbinic path make applying His Truth very burdensome. So we stay away from those rituals that are not biblical.
We ARE Word of Faith, yet we DO NOT abide by the “send me your seed money so I can buy an airplane” doctrines many in that movement preach to their followers. Some teachers in this faith base have also gone the path of radical grace – where anything goes, the law is dead, and you will be forgiven. We believe that once we accept Yeshua as our savior, we are led to follow His path in life, and wish to live as an example of Him. Therefore, we are led to follow his teachings of: Love God, Love your neighbor, and Upon these two hang ALL the laws and teachings of the prophets of Yahweh. (Matthew 22:40) We believe Yahweh's promises in the Bible, His WORD, and with Faith we pray on those Words and believe that they apply in our daily lives. In upcoming blogs, I will be sharing some amazing examples of this from our own lives - living witnesses and testimonies of His Word.
We ARE Pentecostal, and believe in the indwelling of His Holy SPirit. Yet we have seen things claimed in recent years to be “moves of the Spirit” which Yahweh has testified to us are of the adversary. In fact, in one meeting we attended, I had a personal witness from the Holy Spirit that one woman seated near us was so filled with the adversary, I could not even be within 10-15 feet of her without being overwhelmed by the evil feelings oozing from within her. It took some time for that evil to disturb the pastor 30 or so feet away, yet he, too, witnessed what was in her and had her removed. Many then prayed with and for her against what was overtaking her. We do not believe all that takes place in His Name right now is of Him, yet we do believe in the Gifts of the Spirit; and they do exhibit themselves in the Body of the church.
We ARE Torah Observant – and many wonder what exactly this means. We follow the Feast Days written and commanded in the Bible, while NOT following those standard “Christian Holidays” many do in the name of Christ. We will go into that more specifically in a series of upcoming blogs.
What we DO follow:
Spring Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Shavuot
Fall Feasts: Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot
The Monthly Feasts of Rosh Chodesh which take place at the beginning of every Hebrew month (New Moon)
We celebrate Purim because of the preservation of the Jews through the story of Esther, and Hanukkah because of the restoration and rededication of the Temple. Had these not taken place, our Saviour, Yeshua, would not have come forth through the lineage of David. Yahweh ensured that would happen by having warriors rise up against the evil being exercised upon His people.
We eat a Biblical diet which means we do not eat unclean meats as explained by the Bible. (Leviticus 11) This means we avoid pork of any kind (YES! That means we don’t even eat pig bacon! LOL); we also do not eat rabbit, snake, alligator, shellfish, or any fish without fins and scales. Eating Biblically, to us, includes avoiding ingredients derived from these unclean meats as well. Oh, might I add here, we also avoid consuming anything that contains HUMAN ingredients – and YES, there are foods as well as supplements and medications which contain human ingredients.
So, in summary, we may sound complicated to define by a mere term or title. Jim and I have tried to put “a name” to what we are, and sometimes we joke that we are a “mouthful” – I came up with this:
“Pentecostal-Word-of-Faith-Torah-Observant-Believers-in-Yeshua!!!” Can you remember all that? It’s a lot.
Yet it describes pretty well who we are and what we believe. So, that is us, in a nutshell – a rather BIG nutshell, but a nutshell.
Where we are going this next year is to continue on the journey Yahweh started us on: we will continue teaching believers how to go back to the strong teachings of the bible. We are going to help you understand how to tie both the Old and New Testaments together in our modern times so that you will be able to stand up in love against all that you will be coming against. It is our prayer that you will stand with us and be blessed by the journey we are going on together. May the NEXT five years be overwhelmingly blessed
for us all!!!
We love you, Shalom.
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Re-introducing Torah For Women for 2020
In advance of tomorrow and next week's celebrations, I wanted to say:
A blessed Rosh Chodesh Tevet and a Happy New Year to all.
What perfect timing this year for our calendar to play out – as we get a new beginning in two ways. A new month promises great blessings each and every time one comes around. It is a time to close out the things from the previous month and lay claim to the new things Yahweh has in store for us for the year 2020.
This is also the time of year when many who celebrate a new start of their calendar will choose to rededicate their lives to greater accomplishments. Whether in business, personal life, health and fitness, or somewhere else, many choose this time of year for rededication – which is perfect for those of us who follow Yahweh’s calendar to share with those around us about Hanukkah.
We are just past the midway point of the holiday time as we will be lighting the fifth candle tonight in our hanukkaiah. What is Hanukkah all about? It is a time when warriors, The Maccabees, fought against all the evil forces who tried to come against Yahweh’s people. A small group stood against those evil force, and reclaimed the Temple of Yahweh that had been defiled and desecrated. Upon reclaiming, they relit the candles on the menorah, rebuilt, then rededicated the altar. They also rededicated their lives to following His principles and teachings, just as many will do at this time of year for themselves.
May you be blessed in your endeavors and promises to yourself and to Yahweh!
As a handy helper for those who will be working toward following the Feast Days in 2020, we have put together the list of Holy days we will be celebrating so that you can mark your calendars. We are attaching it below in a handy printable format so that you can print it out for your family.
If you prefer to print each month individually, we use the following resource to design the calendar to fit our needs:
Also, for an explanation as to why we prefer to follow the Hillel calendar, please see our book on the topic at:
A quick note here: Often the Hillel II calendar has extra days for certain Holy Days – they will list the celebrating of two days. For example, rather than one for the time of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), they list two days. Should this appear, we follow the Biblical teaching of the Hebrew date upon which it is supposed to fall, not the calendar dates. If we see this approaching, we will do our best to give you a heads up and quick explanation.
In 2020, it is our hope and prayer that many great and wonderful changes will be taking place in all our lives, just as it is our hope and prayer each and every day for the same.
May you be blessed.
NOTE: When the PDF opens, the blue links can be direct accessed to HebCal with more information regarding those calendar dates. The PDF can also be easily printed for your home display.
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Calendaring for 2020
When we look at what scriptures say about sexual immorality, we will see that the term often used in Greek is “porneia.” This Greek word is the origin of English words such as pornography or pornographic, which are very unmistakably defined in English speaking countries as sexually explicit acts and materials. Additionally, when exploring possible translations for “porneia” into English, we see terms like whoredom, fornication, and idolatry used. Words that fit right into the standard impression of pornography. All this added together creates a picture of what many would describe as compromising one’s sexual purity.
Many in modern society seem to feel morality is a very grey area, others feel it involves only premarital sexual relations, yet those who desire to stand with traditional morals see this as surrendering sexual purity at any level, including after marriage. One might ask here, after marriage couples have clearly had sexual relations, so what can then be surrendered?
Sexual impurity within marriage can happen when people stray from Biblical truth, and would involve selling off or sacrificing that which is supposed to remain sacred to the marital bed. Someone who goes outside of marriage to satisfy sexual desires of any kind is selling-off the intimate relationship which belongs solely between a husband and wife. The intimacy as Yahweh designed it to be – one man, one woman, one flesh. Sexual immorality would, therefore, be defined as any type of sexual expression outside of a Biblically defined marital relationship, which The Savior speaks of:
“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Matthew 19:4-5 KJV
What does scripture say about the consequences of sexual immorality? First, we need to look at
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Those who stray from Yahweh’s teachings on morality will not inherit the kingdom He has planned for the righteous. If our hope lies in being with Yahweh for eternity, then we ought to follow his counsel.
Now, some teachers teach that sexual immorality is a form of idolatry. In fact, we are one of those ministries who believe this can be shown in scriptures. “How is sexual immorality tied to idolatry,” you ask.
The scripture quoted above is from Paul, who issued this counsel during a time where pagan religions were still strong, and idol worship was very much a part of many people’s lives. History shows these pagan religions weren’t just continuing to attend temple worship for social aspects. These temples still very much included the worship of specific idols. A large part of that worship involved sexual immorality, temple prostitutes, as well as immoral acts committed in the names of their false gods.
Our bodies, as believers, are the temple of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of this, too:
“…don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own…” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 WEB
As the Temple for the Holy Spirit to indwell, we should not be using that temple to mimic acts of pagan religions. This would be sin. You can see how Yahweh feels about these acts: they are detestable and have eternal consequences. Continuing in this lifestyle would be dedicating your Temple to an idolatrous life and profaning Yahweh’s Holy Temple.
Jesus says to people in the Bible to go on their way, and sin no more. (John 8:11, John 5:14) At the Pool of Bethesda he adds a clause, “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14 KJV)
This is just one example of warning that is written for us in scriptures. Sexual immorality counsel in scripture is often accompanied by warnings which we should heed, just as the man at the Pool was told. (Rom 1:24, Gal 5:19-23, Eph 4:18-19).
There is irrefutable proof that sexual immorality renders one unfit to be in the presence of Yahweh. If what we seek is to be worthy of being in His presence always, we need to remove sexual sin and impurity from our lives, move away from any temptations, repent, and return to God’s design for intimacy.
Additional Scripture References:
“God gave them up [also] in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, to dishonour their bodies between themselves:” Romans 1:24 Darby Bible Translation
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:19-23 WEB
“…being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Eph 4:18-19
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December 2003 was a tough one. I remember when dad had called sometime around Thanksgiving that year. He was almost begging me to go to my sister’s in Ohio for Christmas that year. He kept insisting it was going to be his last. I don’t remember if I had ever given him an answer because I kept thinking that if I said no, maybe he would have more faith in Yahweh’s healing power and miracles. I always believed he would be healed of the disease that attacked him.
Then things changed. To be honest, I don’t even recall what day I received the phone call. I just know it was before December 24th. I know that he and mom were out picking up things for their trip from New York to Ohio, including, I believe, a Christmas tree.
Christmas was always a BIG DEAL to dad. From Yule logs in the fireplace (even when we lived in Tucson!) to presents and stockings, Dad was “all in” for Christmas. The tree was always very important to him, too. Our family did Christmas BIG.
Even when my kids were little, we did everything every other family did, and more! I learned as a young mom how to bake gingerbread and make gingerbread houses. I LOVED constructing and decorating them with all sorts of hand-made decorations, as well as all sorts of foil-wrapped candies. One of my favorite candies to use was always those spearmint leaves. They made adorable bushes around the houses, all topped with little plops of frosting snow. One year the kids and I made about 28 gingerbread houses all decorated to the hilt – we gave them out as gifts to youth leaders, teachers, music instructors, and close friends. It was such fun to give a hand-made gift from our hearts. The kids treasured that time we spent creating those gifts.
So, there we were in 2003, receiving the call none of us expected, and the kind of call everyone dreads. Especially around the holidays. Dad was in the hospital – in ICU. He had been battling against Hep-C for some time, as well as the attacks against his organs from that disease and the drugs to fight it. He had been fighting hard and fast. Yet, there he was, suddenly critically ill. My heart sank. But I packed, fully convinced this was just a quick trip, and that he would be JUST FINE. A short 24 hours later, we all knew better.
There we were, gathering as a family, getting ready to say goodbye. Those last hours were so hard, horribly painful, and yet so beautiful all rolled into one. A lot of the details escape me now, many just in a fog – probably my own way of not letting it stir in me the same hurt I felt back then. Yet there are other details that remain emblazoned upon my mind as if written in indelible ink forever. Things like walking into the hospital room and seeing my adorable just-turned-9 son, hands folded, kneeling in prayer by the bed-side of his precious grandfather while also singing Silent Night. The grampa who understood that little boy’s love for science and nature better than anyone on the planet; the grandpa who used to send him those colourful instructions for science experiments from the Sunday Funny papers.
How I rubbed my father’s arm, talking with him and praying for him, while with every single breath, he quietly called my mom’s name. Literally with every single breath, as if he had something of great importance to tell her. “Carol. . . Carol. . .Carol. . .” The worry I felt in my heart as I anxiously awaited the arrival of my two eldest who were driving to get there in the midst of the snowstorm that had crept in off Lake Erie.
I remember even praying for that snowstorm to hit the following day so that the kids could enjoy the sleds and hills near the cottage. I sat there talking with dad and saying how I KNEW he felt it was time to go home, I begged him to wait for the girls to get there to say goodbye, and I remember asking him, “Dad, it’s Christmas. If you could, give the kids one more gift before you leave us. Make it snow. . .” I KNOW my dad didn’t have the “power” to make it snow – I knew that was all up to God. Yet it was the simple thoughts and distractions I used to fill the final hours with my daddy.
Then, he breathed his last breath. I don’t recall what time it was. I just know it was December 24th, Christmas Eve, 2003. And the man the kids had always thought was their Santa Claus, had gone home to be with God. We awoke the next day, Christmas morning, deeply saddened and heartbroken, yet filled with such peace and joy at the same time. We needed to celebrate with the children who were excited about opening gifts, yet crying because Grampa wasn’t there. We needed to keep going because that is what he had wanted. In our hearts, we all knew that Christmas was the perfect time for him to go home – his favorite holiday. Yet we also wondered what the coming years would bring as the season approached each and every year. How would our hearts handle it?
The kids opened presents, and Justin got the sled he had been wanting. So, we bundled up and went next door to where mom and dad lived. There were BIG hills to sled down. We stayed out for what seemed like forever, having such a fun time! The rest of the day, we drank hot cocoa and reminisced about all the fun times he had with dad.
We all, even mom, went from laughing to crying to laughing again. We all knew that the next day, December 26th, we would be planning the funeral or memorial service. And we did just that. People came from all over to say their goodbyes. The funeral home was overflowing with people! So many that they couldn’t all fit for the memorial service. Many had to simply pay their respects and leave. The final words were spoken, then the veterans paid their tribute with Taps and the gun salute. And we all gathered Dad’s things and went to the dinner provided by the Tea Ladies in town. Then back to mom’s house.
The time flew by, we said our goodbyes, everyone went home. I stayed behind with mom for a bit extra. She had asked me to stay, and I was so glad I did. We got that chance we needed to create a new bond together, become adult friends, which we had not had time to do as yet. It was precious. When I finally went home, it was back to business and busy-ness of homeschooling, day trips, and living life.
There you have it – my Christmas story. You know, many people believe that Dad’s passing on Christmas Eve and the events around it are my reasons for why it was so “easy” to “give up” Christmas. I have even heard some in my own family make that claim out loud – that because dad died on Christmas Eve, I could just tuck it away and ignore the sadness that might creep in each holiday season. Yet that is not true at all. It wasn’t until about ten years later that I started to discover how I wanted to celebrate the biblical feasts instead of the typical holidays.
There were ten years of holidays where I dealt with my personal grief and mourning around the December holiday times. And to be completely honest, it was the memories of that Christmas Eve, the fun times as children, and the joys of raising my kids with the holiday traditions that make it HARDER, not easier to “Quit Christmas.” Yes, I said it – those memories tug at my heart-strings every year, even to this very day.
A friend recently said to me that these are the things that make it so difficult this time of year – that tempt us to return to Egypt. And that is so very true! Missing the traditions we created, that have become a part of our very being. The photographs of the children in their “jammies” Christmas morning, of Dad, dressed in his red Santa hat handing out gifts from under the tree. Precious memories, all of them, and yet also, TEMPTATIONS.
Having mushy feelings, missing those traditions and still aching for time with my dad, the memories of watching little Justin sing Silent Night and beg Abba not to take his Grampa. Those are not going to turn me away from what Abba wants for me – and that is to follow Him. When it all comes down to brass tacks: I want always to know that I am working toward being the best ME that Yahweh can mold me into. And if that means I have to sacrifice the typical holiday season for that which He has taught me is true and right, then so be it.
I don’t often bear my heart full-open, I don’t often put it out there on my sleeve for the world to see. Not because I don’t like to share, but simply because, when it comes down to fulfilling the calling that Yahweh has placed upon me, the teachings, messages, and blogs I share are not based on my emotions. They may come from my experiences in life but are based on biblical teachings and principles – messages that Yahweh would have me teach to those who are seeking.
I know deeply how it is not easy to give up something that is such a part of your past, your memories, your life. Yet who are we? Yeshua asked the rich young man to give up much; he asked Peter to give up a lot and follow him. He told several who were healed, to go and sin no more (John 8:11; John 5:14), fully giving up their former life and desires. Each of these was asked to give up something that meant “the world” to them. What are we each willing to give up for Him?
As he was going out into the way, one ran to him, knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder,' 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not give false testimony,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have observed all these things from my youth." Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross." But his face fell at that saying, and he went away sorrowful, for he was one who had great possessions. Mark 10:17-22
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22
I quit Christmas not to avoid the memories of my father dying – I quit Christmas for Yahweh. Because I still have those joy-filled precious memories of great times shared with family and friends, they are there and always will be a part of me.
It wasn't easy when Jim started to discover details about our traditional holidays - things which made us question if they were right to continue. The more he researched and shared with me, the more we felt led away from those events which had initially meant a lot to us.
In the end, we quit Christmas because there are countless reasons as to why it is not a biblical celebration, AND it is a time of year where a number of Yahweh’s commandments are broken by participating in the celebration. Over the next few weeks, I plan to expound upon these in a series of articles, but for now my prayer is that you will search your own heart regarding this holiday season. And discover for yourself: is this what Yahweh would have you do?
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I want to take a few minutes to talk with those who are struggling over what to do about the upcoming holiday season. Many people have been led to observe the Biblical feast days. Some of these believers may be in a marriage where their spouse does not agree. This can lead to conflict because of the pressure to follow holiday traditions which one spouse believes are no longer appropriate while the other believes these are not only appropriate but also testify of Yeshua. These traditions may include others such as family, friends, or the couple’s former church group, too.
When the topic of attending comes up, a Torah observant person may feel pushed to participate in things like: making handmade Christmas cards; decorating houses or churches; gifts or cookies made for prisoners, soldiers, the local shelter, retirement home, or hospital; cookie exchanges; caroling; dinners, parties, and gatherings; gift exchanges. All these are things a Torah observant person may find objectionable.
What can couples do?
Here are some ideas:
1) How about having a one-for-one exchange?
For every event the non-Christmas observing spouse agrees to go to, the Christmas-observing spouse would need to do something for them in exchange. The non-Christmas activity should NOT be something in the distant future, such as “I will go to that dinner party, if you agree to celebrate Passover with me.” Spring feasts are too distant and may lead to future conflict if the non-Torah spouse becomes unwilling to fulfill their end of the bargain. OR, if for some reason their job or other circumstance prevents them from being able to fulfill their side of the deal.
Instead, an exchange of item-for-item at this time of year: For example, If you go to the church cookie party, you could bring Hanukkah cookies to the event. If it is a cookie decorating party, bring snowflake cookies or Hanukkah cookies to decorate. You could discuss with the other decorators how Yeshua was in the Temple court on Chanukah DECLARING himself THE Living Water from which ALL who are thirsty come and drink. This could even lead in to how ALL biblical Feast Days pertain to Him.
What about starting a new tradition with those same friends? If you go to the event, how about creating a “Snowman Supper” after January first? Waiting until after the first, you are out of the typical holiday season, removing a lot of the pressure for gift giving, and the Christmas table-talk. You could serve homemade breads, soups, and other warm, wintery foods. Plus decorate the table with snowmen and snowballs, serve snowflake-shaped Pizelles for dessert sprinkled with “snow” (powdered sugar!), or an adorable snowman cake.
Do you find yourself agreeing to go to the fancy company dinner? In exchange your spouse could sit one evening with you to make Hanukkah cards at home which you deliver to a local Jewish home? Or hospital for Jewish patients? If you plan ahead to make plenty of Hanukkah cards, you could send some of these to the event where church members make Christmas cards for the prisoners & soldiers – not everyone in prison or the military is Christian. You also might enjoy sitting with the group making cards, and make Hanukkah cards right there along with them! It would open doors to discussing the history of Hanukkah – the story of the restoration and rededication of the Temple.
If the church or group balk at the idea of accepting your hand-made Hanukkah cards, saying they only want Christmas cards because they are trying to teach about Yeshua, I have a helpful hint for that, too. Your reply could easily and kindly be, “I thought maybe this would help you get the foot in the door. What a blessed way to impress upon the Torah observant people that you respect how much they love the Old Testament. Then we can go back and teach them about Christ as time goes on! I LOVE to share new ways to get Christ’s foot in the door!” What can they say to that! You are helping in the evangelistic effort that may end up helping spread His Word!
2) I would suggest that if you decide to go to any party at all, an adult dinner party is the best option to choose for your attendance. Why? Because it is ADULTS. The likelihood of there being things such as Santa are slimmer than if children are attending.
Also, you can steer the conversation toward common topics: business, the world (although politics ought to be avoided because you are trying to avoid conflict!), books you have read, movies, or your latest accomplishments. There are so many subjects which can be shared that steer away from the holiday – so much flexibility!
3) As the month goes on, continue to choose from your spouse’s Christmas list of events those LEAST tense or stressful (AKA offensive) to you and your beliefs.
While attending, maybe openly and kindly discuss Hanukkah and the other feasts you have celebrated, using ideas we mention above. Remember to only do this IF you can without causing conflict. The people your spouse works with or knows in church may not understand exactly why you are so "different." Please, steer away from any condemnation of Christmas at this time. From experience, I can attest to the fact that this never ends well!!! People are very attached to holiday traditions at this time and this is NOT the best time to address someone with how everything they are doing is “wrong” or “sin.”
4) I understand how difficult it is to push aside SOME of the traditions this time of year because they are so obvious. Like going to that dinner party – you may find you have to sit and stare at all the decor around you. The restaurant or venue will be decked to the hilt with all the trappings of the season. Trees, lights, mistletoe, ornaments, greenery, and more – this can be very difficult to ignore. Yet, let’s look at it this way: if you are traveling, get delayed on the road and need to eat food – won’t you need to stop SOMEWHERE to eat? Yes. For that, won’t you need to ignore all those things that surround you and accomplish the task? Look at the dinner party as a similar thing.
I believe the most difficult part may be the constant Christmas music – it will be playing all night & will NOT be all Christmas hymns. You will be hearing about sleigh bells ringing, Santa Claus, Snowmen, snowfall, chestnuts, and such. These songs are a big difficulty for me, especially while eating. So many preach “Jesus is the reason for the season!” While at the same time singing about grandma getting run over by a reindeer!
How can you tune this out? If you have ever had a young child take lessons to play an instrument, you are probably already very good at TUNING IT OUT! Think of that Christmas music from the perspective of your young child’s practice time that very first day!
Tuning it out will help you relax a bit so that you don’t end up having the music make a knot in your tummy resulting in not enjoying dinner at all.
For number 5, I want you to consider doing this:
5) Ask yourself: What was the defining thing for you “quitting Christmas?” Does your spouse TRULY understand that part of your heart? I ask this because I have learned that I don't always say things the best way for Jim to hear them. I think I have expressed it well, yet we have a glitch. I may need to rephrase things. You may believe you explained it so that they understand, but this may be a time to ask them why THEY think you gave it up. They may think that you simply “hate” all the “nonsense” that goes along with it: Santa, materialism, and lack of focus on the Saviour.
Give them a chance to explain their understanding of your feelings, and then gently discuss any reasons that weren’t clear for your not celebrating.
It may take time to work out a plan together, and a lot of patience on both parts. You also may not be comfortable with temporarily finding a middle ground, but for now, it may be the best option for your family and your marriage. Please remember to do all of this in prayer as well as prayers together. Ask Yahweh’s wisdom and discernment, as well as His blessing upon all your efforts.
The key for us as believers is: PLEASE do not allow a strong belief and desire to follow Yahweh bring up in your heart a venomous bite that causes lashing out or angrily expressing your new beliefs. Instead try, with all gentleness of heart, to explain you are trying to avoid what the Bible describes as sin. Yeshua did not want us to sin – how many times in scripture did he heal people and then command, “Now go and sin no more!” Try to explain this to your spouse with all the love of Yeshua overflowing from your heart.
I will say, of all the battles we fight against Egypt, I think CHRISTMAS is one of the toughest - it pulls on SO MANY of our hearts and our memories, especially childhood memories. . . A dear friend recently said to me, “That is EXACTLY the reason that everything about this holiday bothers me so deeply…It is a HUGE PULL ON MY SOUL to return to Egypt.” JUST LIKE Egypt pulled on the hearts of the Hebrews in the Exodus.
My prayer is that you can try standing your ground, yet also try to enjoy your spouse’s love and company. May you be able to impress upon them the depth of your commitment to both Yahweh and your marriage.
Blessings and Shalom.
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Christmas Conflict and Bringing Peace to the Home
In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:6-7 WEB
This summer, I pushed myself too hard one day in the garden. I am used to gardening for hours on end, but I didn’t realize just how hot and humid it was outside. I tried to push through what I was feeling, but that was a bad idea. I ended up giving myself heat exhaustion. After I healed from that stress, I found the rest of the summer I was much more susceptible to over-heating while gardening.
A few weeks later, I recognized that I was truly stressed over the fact that I was not doing as much gardening as I had on my to-do list. I was angry at myself, I was frustrated, and the result was me making myself very anxious trying to get everything accomplished in one day. Between ministry, college, and household tasks, the garden was just stirring up in me a lot of things I did not want in me, but also did not want to admit.
I recall how, when I was doing one task, I was fussing and fretting in the background of my mind about the things that were not getting done. The more I fussed and fretted, the more I made myself anxious. The more anxious I got, the more I made myself angry, and then the more I fussed and fretted. I put myself into an interesting conundrum. I was so worked up inside, that I honestly didn’t know how to make it stop.
One day following my daily personal prayer time, I got this idea. I know the idea didn’t come from myself; it was clearly of Yahweh. The Holy Spirit whispered in me to micromanage my life. Now to most people that would NOT make sense and would not be a positive thing to do. Yet I knew it was right for me. So, I sat down and let the ideas flow while I drank a cup of coffee.
I knew that each module of my college class took a certain amount of time daily, cooking supper takes a certain amount of time, and on and on. The gardening was the tough one. It was overwhelming as the produce started to come in and the weeds came up. It simply looked like hours and hours and hours!
I figured out that on cooler days I could garden for about 30-minute spurts before I needed to quit. Hot days were about 10-15 minutes at most. So, throughout the day, I split up the tasks that needed to get done into micro-tasks and scheduled them throughout the day. Sometimes doing such small tasks as picking green beans in the morning, cucumbers around noon, and pulling weeds in the afternoon or evening. I expected this to alleviate the anxiousness in my mind, but it didn’t seem to work.
I went to Yahweh in prayer and asked what I was doing wrong. Suddenly I recognized that I was still fretting while I was doing other tasks. If I was cooking, I was worrying about the garden, cleaning, laundry, etc. But then if I was doing the gardening, I was worrying about college, cooking or something else! I found that none of the tasks were getting fully done, done well, or even enjoyable anymore at all.
I was trying, but things were just not quality work like I was used to from myself. Then there was the day I got a “C” on one of my quizzes in my class. I had been so concerned about something else that my grade had literally suffered – I wasn’t paying careful attention to the questions and answers. Now there was clear evidence what I was doing in my mind was becoming a detriment.
I had to do something more. I realized that I needed to go beyond just scheduling the micro-tasks. I needed to learn to shut off my brain running in the background.
It’s kind of like your laptop computer. Have you noticed that sometimes things are truly whirling around in the background while you are trying to accomplish a task? And while you are trying to accomplish that task, those programs running in the background slow you down and sometimes even interfere with the program you are currently working in.
On a Windows computer, you go into your Task Manager and you click “End Task” on programs or apps that are running and slowing you down. That is what my brain was like this past summer. It had too many programs and APPs running in the background and my CPU was running at 100% plus!!! The result was the program I was working on at that moment, slowed down and suffered because of all that unnecessary background usage!
Now I know, when I start to get myself worked up like that, I need to stop, and click “End Task” on all those thoughts running in the background. I take quick notes if I need to of what needs to be done on those tasks so that I can remember later what to expect from that task. Then I walk away. Thoughts and concerns, everything needs to be shut off and focus back on the task which needs completing.
I know. . . you may be thinking it’s easier said than done. YES! It is sometimes, and I admit that. I still get myself worked up a bit – I did it last Friday in fact. Yet once I stopped and took a deep breath, wrote down what needed to get done, and worked on one thing at a time, while turning off the concern of all the other things, I was surprised at how quickly I completed everything on my list.
Some days I forget that when Yahweh tells us to worry for nothing, He really does mean for nothing.
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My Brain Is Like A CPU
First let me say, we are not a ministry who follows the rabbinic teachings regarding the Feast Days. We make them simple and Biblical. Or as Biblical as is humanly possible. We don’t teach that they are commandments required for your salvation, either. Yet we DO teach that, once saved, we should feel that change of heart in us that makes us desire to live as Yeshua lived, and that pull to follow the commandments Yahweh would have us follow. This process brings us to sanctification, where we will be living in such a way that others will see the fruit in our spirits and in our every action.
So how do we follow and celebrate the fall Feast days?
We teach each new family to start by reading up on calendaring. Our Parent Ministry, Shofar Productions has a free e-book on the topic. This e-book explains why we follow the Hillel II calendar for calculating the Feast days through the year. I will point out this one detail: the Hillel II calendar DOES tend to have set aside two days for some of the Feasts which are only commanded for one day. WE follow the Biblical teaching that these days are ONE day only.
The example of this for our fall Feast schedule this year is that Feast of Trumpets is from Sundown on Sunday, September 29 until Sundown on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. We are honoring the one-day celebration starting on Sunday September 29th at Sundown to Monday at Sundown as the Bible states. For all upcoming years, we will be calculating the Feast Days in this same way.
Many will follow the Jewish traditions for Rosh Hashanah, which include a lot of baked goods and pastries, a big feast dinner, apples dipped in honey, honey cake, pomegranates, matzah balls, and the list goes on and on! Often, these traditions vary from Jewish community to community, family to family. We do enjoy eating honey cake, which happens to be one of my husband’s favorite treats this time of year, as well as pomegranates if they are fresh and lots of apples. But we do not adhere to typical, traditional Jewish foods on the Feast Days, with the exception of those things that are commanded in scripture (such as unleavened bread during that Feast Time.)
We also enjoy a wonderful feast dinner for at least one of the evening meals – this year we will be doing that on Monday evening because I won’t have time Sunday to make the big feast.
The key to Feasts is: what does Yahweh say we should do on the Fall Feast days?
Let’s start with Yom Teruah, The Feast Of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year).
In Leviticus 23 we see the Feasts of Yahweh given to His people. Yahweh tells Moses to instruct the people on the Feast days. He covers the instructions that are given for the spring feasts as well as the fall feasts. Leviticus 23:24-25 talks specifically of the Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah:
"Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 'You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.'"
From these verses we can summarize that on this Feast Day, back in the wilderness, Yahweh commanded Moses and the people to do the following things:
Set aside the first day of the seventh month
Honor it as a Shabbat
Include the blowing of trumpets as a remembrance, a memorial
Have a holy convocation – a reading or meeting, an assembly
Do no laborious work – none of your job
Present and offering by fire at the Temple
Additional scriptures on Yom Teruah are:
Numbers 29:1-6 And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.
Simply reiterates the timing
The Holy Convocation
No laborious work
Blowing of trumpets
Sacrifices for “sweet savor,” meat offering, sin offering to make atonement which are in addition to monthly offerings.
And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: 6Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. (KJV)
No servile/laborious work
Blowing of trumpets
Offerings at the Temple
Nehemiah 8:2-5 contains an example of the reading of The Word of Yahweh before an assembly of all who would listen:
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 6And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (KJV)
From all these examples, we can conclude that this is the basic list of things that were done on Yom Teruah in ancient times:
Set aside the first day of the seventh month for the Feast of Trumpets
Honor it as a Shabbat
Include the blowing of trumpets as a remembrance, a memorial
Have a holy convocation – a reading or meeting, an assembly
Do no laborious work – none of your job
Present an offering by fire at the Temple
Starting at the bottom of the list, we no longer offer sacrifices at the Temple, especially sin offerings. Yeshua was our ultimate sacrifice and the Temple sacrifices are no longer necessary for us to accomplish. In addition, we do not have an active Temple, Tabernacle, or Levitical Priesthood to bring the offerings to.
Is there a third Temple being considered and planned at this time? It appears to be, yes. Is it completed according to Yahweh’s instructions? No. Is there a possible Levitical priesthood organized? It appears to be, yes, but there is no Temple at which to sacrifice. In addition, we are not required to sacrifice at this time as Yeshua has suffered, bled and died for us. We accept Him and His sacrifice for us.
We can, for now, remove that from our list of what we are to do on this Feast. We COULD, however, still teach our children the importance of the ancient sacrifices. We can teach them why they were implemented, how they were done, what they were for. We may also have an opportunity to share this with other adults, such as family and friends.
We are left with honoring it as a Shabbat, blowing the Shofar in remembrance or memorial, and having an assembly - all to be done on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. This might be a good time to recognize that it DOES simplify life if we are all following the same calendar year to year.
When we are divided into many different calendars it becomes complicated for holding a meeting with others who are Torah Observant – if we each celebrate Feast days on different months, in different weeks, on different days, how can we demonstrate to Abba that we are holding a holy reading, meeting, or assembly? We can’t.
So how do WE celebrate Feast of Trumpets using the Biblical model?
We work from home. Jim is self-employed. We know that when the feast days are approaching, he has to ensure enough work is done in advance that he can take off for the Holy Days. This may be something you need to plan for as well. If you work OUTSIDE the home, is there a way you can plan for a personal day or vacation day on the Feast Days?
If not, there are great ideas in our article titled Torah Observance in the Military that can be applied for even the civilian workplace. Try your best to do as little strenuous work as possible, but also remember your responsibility to your boss and fellow employees.
We plan ahead to do no work around the home, either, unless it is an emergency situation. We set aside all yard work, gardening, home repairs, housework, etc. All those can easily be done on another day. We have had emergencies crop up before, and we have been put in a position even to help others. We had a neighbor’s water line in the yard break one year. Jim went over to offer his help as they hand dug the line. They didn’t need his help in the end because another neighbor came along with his large equipment and dug the line in a jiffy! Another example was one Sabbath or Feast Day when our dehumidifier in our old house suddenly sprung a leak and shot water 6 feet into the air in the basement. THAT needed fixed immediately!
Remember to be kind to yourself if things happen. Especially if you are new to Torah observance. Yahweh is SO loving and forgiving – we are in an age of grace where we are covered by Yeshua’s sacrifices.
To ensure we don’t have to work on Feast Days, we have a Prep Day all day before Sundown on the day it is going to start. For us this year, that would be Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. If there was any cleaning or laundry to be done, we would do that all before sundown. We would accomplish as much of the cooking and food preparation as possible on that Prep Day just as we would on a prep day before Shabbat.
I believe in demonstrating a practical application, so I will give you an idea of what we are going to do this year based on our menu:
Sunday: Dinner will be frozen pizzas and maybe a small side salad
Morning’s brunch: Quiche and coffee (me!) or hot herbal drink (Jim)
Snack – honey cake, apples and honey or natural peanut butter
Dinner: Backed Chicken, broccoli with cheese, baked potatoes
Sunday I will be preparing the whole chicken for Monday’s roasting in the oven. It will be oiled up with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs, placed into the baking dish, and covered in the fridge. On Monday, I will slide it into the oven uncovered and let the oven do the rest!
Sunday, too, the potatoes and broccoli will be washed. On Monday, the potatoes will be popped into the oven at the right time along with the chicken. The washed broccoli will be placed into a saucepan in the fridge. On Monday, all I will need to do is add water and steam, then strain, sprinkle with herbs and cheddar, and serve.
I also bake the quiche ahead of time on Sunday so that all we need to do on Monday is reheat it when we are ready to eat. All the advance preparation makes it easy for us to enjoy the day as a day of rest and remembrance.
As far as activities go:
Sunday night we will pray and praise, as well as blow the Shofars. As this is the close of the agricultural year and what is celebrated as a new beginning by many, we will be remembering this as well. It IS the first day of the month and a Rosh Chodesh, so we honor and respect this one as we do all Rashei Chodashim (plural for Rosh Chodesh). Every Rosh Chodesh we praise Yahweh for all the blessings He has given us in the previous month and praise Him for the blessings to come from the next one as well. So, we will include this as we get to celebrate a bit more than the usual start of the month – with a big Feast.
If our neighbors will tolerate it, we will blow shofars long and loud outside for a bit. Living in the Appalachian Mountains makes them sound really awesome sometimes, and it is something I look forward to this time of year. In the past, we have had a fire outside before sundown and enjoyed supper around the fire as we allowed it to burn out on its own. This year, we are under fire watches, so we will pass on that for the evening.
Don’t have a shofar? There are recordings on YouTube that you can use, or believe it or not, there are even APPS for your phone or tablet! Some can even be downloaded onto your computer, as well. Plug in a set of speakers and let it blow!
I believe that the most difficult part of Feast days can be the holy convocation – this would be an assembly or gathering of people where they share the reading, study, or discussion of The Word Of Yahweh. Many of us are “the only ones” in our area, family, or group of friends.
What can you do? Plan a special day with family or friends – invite them over to your home for the feast meal. You can use this time to share your meal with them – and if they are receptive to it, talk about why you are celebrating Yom Teruah this year. This last part, you might need to play by ear because some friends and family may not want to hear anything religious while others may not appreciate your decision to change holidays to Biblical holy days. Just remember to be kind and loving in your communications.
If you DO find you are alone, is there a favorite ministry you might enjoy listening to? Maybe there is a live broadcast available that you can be a part of. If you can't find something live to enjoy, gather your husband and children around and watch a video broadcast together. This is likely what Jim and I will be doing along with reading and studying.
Remember to close out your Feast of Trumpets with a closing prayer at Sundown on Monday. Is this commanded? Not according to the Bible. It is simply a gentle reminder and suggestion from us because it is a great time to spend some extra time in His presence. Thanking him for the blessed day you have been given, and praying He touch your heart as you approach the Day of Atonement coming up in just over a week.
I hope this helps everyone who is new to Torah and Fall Feasts and may even be a reminder to all those who have been doing it a while. Sometimes we need that gentle reminder that Yahweh didn’t make it difficult, and that the yoke is easy, and the burden truly is light. (Matthew 11:30)
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Yom Teruah For Beginners
I am often contemplative when Yahweh uses the same type of lesson repeatedly in my life. There always seems to be MORE that I am supposed to grasp. A great example of this is His use AGAIN of my planting seeds and His causing them to sprout sooner than directed on the packages. Yes, He did it again, and it is one that I did not deserve. At least not from my human perspective. Because life just throws you curves sometimes that take you down a different direction, I wasn’t diligent in my care of Yahweh’s previous blessings. And because of this, I wondered why He honestly bothered to bless me again. Let me explain. . .
In spring, I was so excited about this year’s garden because our soil was better prepared than last year, and we had worms galore thanks to Yahweh’s previous gift to our ground. I was filled with hope for a great harvest and wonderful vegetables all through summer. My mind was even excited about putting things up in the freezer for winter soups and stews.
When it came to starting seeds, I planted the various greens first, then a week or so later, I started beans, peas, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squashes. With college, ministry, and life, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the thought of having to plant all those seedlings once sprouted, yet still longed for the wonderful blessing of freshness from the garden.
Sadly, with it getting too hot too fast this spring, I fell very far behind on getting the greens into the ground. I got all the other plants in, some a bit later than they should have, but they were in and growing well. The greens, though, were still in starter pots come mid-July and they were strangling each other. Sadly, they finally ended up in a bucket full of old potting soil in the hopes that they will compost and help refurbish the soil for new plants next spring.
I was feeling somewhat ashamed one day while sitting on the back deck praying, looking over what a gift I felt I had disrespected. I believed I wasted a great blessing which we COULD have been enjoying at our dinner table. Or we could have been putting greens up in the freezer to use in the winter. At least I was trying to “reuse and recycle” them into new soil. It just didn’t seem to alleviate my guilt. I asked Yahweh to forgive me for being wasteful and hoped I would do better with the next batch. We tend to be harder on ourselves and much less forgiving of self than Yahweh is, but I tried to let it go.
Thursday, July 18th I decided it was time to start a new batch of greens for the fall. I read the packages all the time so that I know how long it will take and when to expect sprouts to appear. I made a note that they should be sprouting sometime midweek the next week. Shabbat morning, just two days later, I saw that the Romaine had already sprouted as did the peas and many of the bush and pole beans! By Sunday morning, the Romaine sprouts were already almost a full inch tall!
At first, I was excited and so very grateful. But then the guilt crept back in. I even found myself thinking, “Yahweh, why did you bless us so quickly with these sprouts after what I had done to your previous blessings?” I didn’t get an audible answer as I sometimes do. I simply felt a peace fill me up. A simple, quiet, loving peace that just testified that I had been forgiven when I asked. I felt humbled and knew that He had granted me this great blessing in spite of myself. And that I needed to try harder to care for them and get them into the ground as soon as they are strong enough to weather the elements. I also felt assured that we would continue to be greatly blessed from our garden, it felt as though it was a strong promise.
We often feel unworthy of His promises, don’t we? And yet He gives them so easily, so willingly.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.
Hebrews 8:12 WEB
…in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,… Ephesians 1:7 WEB
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People sometimes ask me, “Why do you get so many blessings???” It isn’t that we “get so many blessings” or that we “get” more than others do. It is, however, that I see God’s hand in almost everything in my life. Where others might see things as “good luck,” I see those as blessings from God. Where some may see fate or coincidence, I see Yahweh’s provision. Where it seems we have a windfall or good fortune, I see how Abba put everything into place to make things work for our benefit. Because of how I view things, it just seems Yahweh blesses us beyond measure.
This story is one of those examples.
A short time ago, I was not having the best week. I was frustrated, impatient, and just plain grumpy trying to deal with several worldly things at once. I had pretty much forgotten all about the shalom Yahweh wants us to have in our lives and in our hearts.
I had a lot to get done, was overwhelmed in my thinking and emotions, running behind on several tasks. That was the perfect moment for Yahweh to do something that truly got my attention. He showed me, for the second time in 18 months, that He can make things work despite ourselves. What did he do? Well, this may sound silly, but He taught me that sometimes the directions on the packet of seeds are merely a suggestion from mankind.
I first experienced this kind of miracle last year when we decided to fully trust Yahweh with our garden. In 2017 when we planted seeds to start our first garden, we only had about 40% germination for some reason. No matter how many times I re-started the seeds we had stored in the cupboard, we still only got about 40% growth. It was frustrating beyond measure.
As an experienced gardener, I thought I KNEW what I was doing – I followed all my years of “training” and still got the same results. On top of that, half of those seedlings died within a few days of sprouting. These were supposed to be “special” seeds – ones that were heirloom, specially chosen and packed for longer storage. Yet, it just seemed nothing I did worked. It was very frustrating.
In the spring of 2018, after the worm lesson, I decided we would pray specifically over the seeds after I planted them. I worked hard that day filling starter trays with soil and planting everything you can imagine, using the same seeds as the year before. I watered the soil, set the trays outside and prayed over them. I praised Yahweh for creating the plants, praised Him for being our Provider, and then simply ended the prayer with something somewhat flippant, along the lines of, “Well, Yahweh, they are in your hands now! We know you will bless these seeds to grow and provide!” It was sort of a haphazard remark, trusting yet wondering if it really would work.
Then, off I went to do household tasks, some college classes, and ministry. Several hours later, I felt an impression to go outside and see “how the seeds had grown.” Can you imagine how much I giggled inside at the impression that the seeds had grown already? “Yahweh, it has only been a few hours since I planted those seeds. The package says they will take at least 7 days before they germinate!” And that was in optimal conditions. Did a little doubt creep in? Yes, I admit it. I briefly wondered to myself if we even had any optimal conditions after the 2017 experience. Then, I got the impression again to go and look, much stronger this time. So, giggling on the inside and smiling on the outside with maybe a little bit of a subliminal eyeroll, I wandered outside to see what was going on.
I was shocked! About half of the seeds I had planted were already sprouting – just hours after I had planted them! I was so stunned I started to cry and shout at the same time! I called Jim to show him the miracle that had happened with the same old seeds! He could hardly believe that I had only planted them that very morning!
By the next morning, almost all the seeds I had started had already sprouted. Those from the day before had even grown at least a half inch overnight, and their stems were MUCH thicker and stronger than the seedlings from the previous year. You can imagine how much happy dancing I did out there on the deck – and PRAISE!!! Goodness did I praise!!!
Fast forward to Spring 2019
Sometimes we take for granted that a blessing which unfolded once will do the same thing next time it is needed. When we feel this way, we might get a little remiss in how we handle the situation. We just might think we don’t need to do much for it to plop in our laps, and maybe that will happen for some. I find, though, that my experience is, if I don’t bother to praise and thank Yahweh, some things might not come as quickly or as easily the next time.
So, there I was planting seeds for our garden and thinking of how miraculous Yahweh was with the seed sprouting before. I filled the pots, planted seeds, and watered well, knowing they would be blessed. I will admit that by the next morning, just short of 24 hours later, some of the seeds had sprouted, but nowhere near as many as the year before.
When I noticed this and realized that I had not done MY part – gratitude, praise and prayer, I immediately went about asking forgiveness and praising for the sprouts we had, plus thanking Yahweh immensely for the previous year’s sprouts, garden, produce, and blessings, then I politely and humbly asked for similar blessings this year. Imagine my surprise when by that day’s end, MORE sprouts were coming up! Within three days, Yahweh ensured that almost all the seeds had sprouted. We did have a few stubborn seed sets, the peppers for example, that held out and actually took 3 weeks to sprout, but over-all we had similar results as the year before. Swift sprouting AND excellent growth – providing us with strong, healthy plants to go into the garden. Praise Yahweh!
There was a new addition this year in the blessing category: as the plants went into the garden, many grew even more swiftly and larger than last year! What a wonder it was to watch as even the produce that started coming forth was larger and more plentiful at first. Some days we even joked that you could sit and watch the plants and produce grow inch by inch!
Sadly, something killed off all our zucchini plants early, so I started a new set of seeds in pots. THIS time I made sure to praise right away and thank Abba for his precious love for us and His provision. Within two days they had not only sprouted but were already about 2 inches tall! By day three from sprouting, they had started to develop their second set of leaves and were just about ready to go into the ground for a second round of squash to harvest. I gave them a little extra time, just in case – I wanted them to develop good, strong roots. Now we wait! They have just started blooming, and I have been praying for bees to do their work.
I do believe it is time for another shofar blowing as we praise in amazement at how wonderfully Yahweh works on His creations!
He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things, which your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21 WEB
Behold, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27 WEB
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The One About Yahweh Making Seeds Grow In Just One Day
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 ones, 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 feeling deeply 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 his words and the pain which still exists years after the mournful 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 KJV
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 KJV
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! Habakkuk 1:2a KJV
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 so that he did not hurt anymore. I wanted that disease to go away and prayed, "Abba, 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. Yet his condition continued to deteriorate. How, then, were my prayers answered? A part of my prayer was that I didn't want that disease to afflict him anymore, and I didn't want him to hurt anymore. Daddy was going Home.
I can testify to you even to this day that I KNOW I received answer to prayer. The problem was, I did not like nor want THAT answer, and it hurt like heck. But you know what? Here’s the hardest part people don't look at: 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 God 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, weary.
- What of my mom’s prayers? She was so drained 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.
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. I told Him if that meant she would be given more time on this earth, then please, heal her! 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, bearable for US. Then, 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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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.
Torah For Women
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