Are you defragging your spiritual hard drive?

I am that guy you call when you don’t know why your computer isn’t doing what you expect it to do. One of my personal peeves is that people work with their computers all day, and it’s almost impossible to find a job, other than manual labor, that doesn’t require you to have a modicum of skills when operating a computer. Yet, all I hear all day long is, “I just don’t know anything about computers.”

You know to check the oil, water and tire pressure in your car, you know to oil the iron cooking pan, to change the filters in your air conditioning system (you should know these things, you know!), but people don’t know how to care for their computers! Think about it: you can take a bus to work if you don’t care for your car and if your pots and pans are rusty and filthy you can order food in, but if your computer isn’t working you can’t do your job. And what happens to people who don’t do their jobs? Do you think it’s important to know enough to (at least) maintain the computer in fairly good working order?

One of the things that is important to keeping the computer running well (not so much with Windows 7 and newer operating systems) is defragging the hard drive. All this is, essentially, is removing all the space between the bits of data (all zero’s and one’s) so that all the little bits line up neatly. This saves space and makes searching for the data faster.

So, nu? What’s any of this got to do with my spiritual life?

We hear so much stuff every day; there is so much information in the world, and so much of it is so easily absorbed through web sites, ebooks, radio, cable TV news that is 24/7. Yet, out of all this information, there is so very little of it which you can trust. We get all types of fertilizer coming into our brains, and to sort it all out is nearly impossible. We hear televangelists telling us to touch the screen so they can heal us, our own Rabbi’s, Pastors, Ministers and Priests telling us what we should believe because this is what our religion teaches us, and then we have the everyday people, telling us that these laws were for health reasons, those don’t count because the world is changed (although they forget that God doesn’t change), and the worst part is the Discovery Channel. Although Discovery, History and TLC are some of my favorite channels, I never watch anything they do regarding the Bible or religious history. That’s because they are TV, the air waves are controlled by the Enemy (he is called the Prince of the Air, remember?) and their point, always, is to make God seems like a fantasy, explaining away His wonderful works and interventions and making science the real cause for celebrity.

All of these bits and bytes of data going into our brains, every day. And we can’t really stop it, unless we wear blindfolds and stuff our ears with wax. That would give us some peace, but it makes getting anything done really, really hard to do.

That’s why we need to defrag our spiritual hard drive. We need to clean out and delete the stuff that is wasteful, not-edifying and confusing. Then, after a good clean up of the temp files and deleted items folder, we need to re-arrange the data that we want to keep. We do this by getting back to basics (hmmmm…nice title for a book- check out the one I wrote) and re-establishing our relationship with God by simply sitting, in a quiet place, turning off all the data-streaming drek in the area, and letting God come in and clean up our spiritual hard drive. Let the Ruach take over- you can pray, think of heaven, concentrate on your favorite scripture, meditate on His word (King David did that often) or (one of my favorites) create a list of all the things you are grateful to God for giving you. Start with your birth and work your way forward.

We need to keep it simple (the KISS Rule) when we worship. No fancy-schmancy prayers; get real, people- we don’t live in the 17th Century so don’t pray like you are reading from the Kings James Bible. How can you be pouring your heart out to the Lord when you need to concentrate on getting all the fancy words right? God sees the heart, He knows what we want and (thank God) He gives us what we need, so just let Him do what He does best. Let His shalom fill your soul.

Be careful, also, what you download. The best way to keep a computer running well is to “feed” it correctly- no viruses, no malware, be careful what you buy, and watch where you “surf.” Always have a good anti-virus running that keeps up to date. This translates, spiritually, into reading the Bible every day. The best antivirus, in this case ‘anti-Satan software’, is the Word of God.  Read it every day to keep your spiritual hard-drive clean. Be careful of what you download means when you are watching the TV specials or reading extra-Biblical books and magazines about where the Ark is, who Jesus really was, and all the other apparently useful shows to help us understand the truth about God and the Bible, be very cautious and wary. Never take what they say as valid or truthful, and check it out against the Bible. If there is archaeological proof, or at least evidence, of a biblical event, that is fine, but listen carefully. I have rarely gotten more than 10 minutes into one of these shows before I start to hear the message between the lines of script. That message is (almost) always that there is some physiological reason for the event, that science can explain it and their “experts” are almost always agnostic in their approach. The one or two “religious” people that will give glory to God are made to seem like fools. By the end of the show miracles and Glory to God are reduced to seismic events and explainable anomalies.

Science thinks that because it can explain something and understand how it happens that means God didn’t have anything to do with it. That’s something we have to overcome- the thinking that says if it can be explained it isn’t a miracle or a divine intervention. God created everything, including science. So why can’t He use what He created to intervene? How many cancer patients die after undergoing every known treatment type? Yet, others go into remission and the cancer never returns. They’re both humans, they’re both treated the same way, yet it works in one and not in the other. And no one can explain that, but no one sees the cure as a miracle. It’s science, it’s modern medicine, it’s explainable so it can’t be divine. Oy!

There is so much garbage, so many bits and bytes of data that we take in, without even knowing it is happening, and we need to defrag ourselves daily. Meditate, read the Word (best bet for success) and pray to God. Pray simply, pray honestly, and don’t try to be different than who you are when you pray. Just pray from your heart, do it without interruption, and get all those little zeros and ones in your spirit back in alignment.

Computers are binomial- it all boils down to a zero or a one. God is also binomial: it’s His way or the hell-way. Don’t let your spiritual hard drive become corrupted with the viruses and malware of the world; keep it defragged through prayer and keep it clean with a daily install and upgrade of God’s word. It’s the best anti-Satan software in the universe.

When poison tastes great

One of the biggest “problems” I have had when dealing with people is that I am too straight-forward. I have a hard time being what some would call “tactful.” I call it “sugar-coating.”

Of course, it is easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar, and over the years I have learned to think more about what I say before I say it. Maybe this book I read all the time (you know it) that tells me to treat others as I would want to be treated (actually, that is part of the problem- I would rather people just tell me what they think), how the tongue controls the entire body and it is full of evil, a well can’t give forth fresh and salt water at the same time, etc. is influencing me to be more compassionate in my treatment and dealings with others. I kind of hope so, but on the other hand (I’m Jewish, so there is always an ‘other hand’) I don’t want to get so nice and make everything so palatable that people want to hear what I have to say because it makes them feel good, and the point I am trying to make is lost in all the “sweetness.”

We need to tell the truth to each other, even if it may mean that their feelings get hurt or that they may not like us.

I’m not sure how to explain this correctly. Obviously, if we just tell people how we feel without any consideration for their feelings we won’t edify or help them. We’ll just piss them off and, since most people are more prideful than humble, the point will be missed, the relationship will be damaged (making any further help less likely) and the whole thing will have been a waste.

I pray that each time one of us feels led to ‘rebuke’ someone we are being led by the Ruach. The Bible does tell us, right where it says to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19), to rebuke your neighbor. That seems to be an oxymoron, but I see the same message- don’t let them hurt themselves. God tells the prophets if they don’t warn the people to turn from their sins then the blood of the people will be on the head of the prophet! That’s a hard word to hear, and a heavy burden to bear. God says in Ezekiel that He is not happy with the death of a sinner; indeed, He wishes that every sinner would turn from his sin and live. Proverbs tells us that if we don’t discipline our children we condemn them to death, and Shaul talks about how a loving Father will always discipline his children and that is why God will discipline us. Throughout the Bible God, Himself, is telling each one of us that we must, for love’s sake, rebuke our neighbor when they are doing something that is harmful to themselves, physically or spiritually.

Just like many other things in the Bible, God tells us what we should do, but doesn’t always supply the instructions telling us how to do it. Like the animal sacrifice: He tells us which animals are acceptable, what condition they should be in, what to do with the blood and the body parts, but not how we should kill them. The Talmud is good for many things, and one of those is for filling in the blanks, so to speak. For instance, it describes the manner in which to kill the sacrificial animal (it’s called Shechita.) I am not a student of the Talmud so I am not sure if it goes into detail about how to rebuke people, but something tells me it does, somewhere.

For those of us who are not Talmudic Talmudim (students, or Disciples), we need to think about what we are saying so that the truth is made plain.If we ‘sugar-coat’ the truth so much that it is tasty to the person, the point will not be made. In other words, poison tastes bad as a warning, and if the words we tell to others are so sweet that they enjoy them, well, the warning is missed.

In nature God has very clear signs of warning with regards to poisons. Poison Ivy is very easy to recognize, it is always three leaves and one of the very few plants (botanists and horticulturists please be kind if I am off a little here) that is very waxy looking. Many bugs that are poisonous to animals are very brightly colored. Warnings that not only protect the bugs life, but by their very nature of being a warning, they protect the life of the predator, too.

We need to protect people’s life by rebuking them when they are doing wrong, and we need to make sure it is loving and compassionate, but still has the bad taste of poison so that they know this is serious stuff and they can recognize the deadliness of what they are doing.

My fear is that in today’s world we are more concerned about how we say something than what we are saying. I know that is how it is, and it frustrates me because I am not tactful, I am not always able to get through to someone who is more concerned about their precious little feelings than they are about their eternal soul. See? Don’t I sound frustrated? I can only imagine how Jeremiah, or Elijah must have felt. Of course, when you can call fire from heaven on people, it does tend to get their attention. All I seem to get is their dander up. I am not against talking to each other compassionately, but I wish that people who want to be talked to nicely would take some responsibility to listen as compassionately as they want to be talked to. It’s all about MY feelings, how you talk to ME, and what I feel. No one seems to listen with compassion enough to hear the “hurt” in the other person’s voice.

Maybe the best thing is to show by example. I always tell people to just let me know what they are saying, or what I did. I hate, hate, HATE it when I am told, third-party, that something I said was inappropriate or hurtful to someone. Then when I ask to know what I said, and to whom, so I can apologize (that is definitely the Ruach in me, and not me, myself, wanting to apologize) I am told that I can’t be allowed to know who it is or what I said (because then I might guess who it was) because the person is afraid or doesn’t want to have a ‘confrontation’ with me. Well, if I have done something wrong, and I am not told what it was, and I am not given the chance to make it better, then why tell me? Telling me I did something wrong doesn’t help if I don’t know what I did wrong! It doesn’t edify me to know I hurt someone then not be allowed to rectify the situation; it just makes me frustrated and frightened because now I don’t know who I offended and now I am afraid to talk to anyone. This is not helpful or in any way bringing people together. It is not working towards communication, it is creating division.  And here’s the real kicker!: I see this all the time from Human Resources people. The very ones whose job it is to repair and inspire communication within the working environment, and what they are really doing in order to “protect” people is to foster division and discomfort between the employees. It’s come down to the first one to complain is the winner.

Hmmm…seems I am a little off topic. Obviously, I have some personal ‘issues’ with certain parts of the modern corporate environment, and I digress.

The Enemy loves it when people are more concerned about how others talk to them then with what they are saying. I am absolutely convinced that he is overjoyed at our current means of communicating to each other. Why? Because it is our obsession with how we talk and not what we say that gives him the opportunity to sweet-talk us all into apostasy and sin. He is a smooth talker, no doubt about that! As my wife would say, “He’s got the gift of the Blarney about him, he does, he does.” Actually, she’s Irish but doesn’t talk with a Brogue. I like to involve her now and then in these discussions because she does read them (Hello, Sweetheart!)

Back to Satan…if a rebuke is so sugar-coated that people actually like the taste, the message “You are taking poison and you need to stop taking it or it will kill you” is lost. A rebuke should sting, it should taste bad, and it should warn with the warnings poison has. The deadliest poison is the one you don’t know you’re taking, isn’t it? The one without odor or taste can be consumed over and over, and you won’t know you’ve been poisoned until you are dead. That’s what too much sweetness when rebuking will do- it will cover the bad taste of the poison so much that you don’t know you are killing yourself.

What are we left with? I hope you agree that there is a problem with how we communicate to each other today, that there is need to rebuke people that are killing themselves through sinfulness, and that we need to allow the Ruach to lead us in how we talk to each other when rebuking. If we are all on the same page here, I am sorry to confess that I don’t know what to tell you beyond that. I am the “don’t do as I do” type, not the “do as I do” kind. Shaul was able to tell many of the Messianic Congregations he helped to form that they should do as he does, because he did what we should be doing. I can’t say that because I am not doing what we should do.  I guess we all need to look to the Ruach to help us to save the eternal souls of those we deal with that need a good rebuke. Each one of us will have to do this in our own way, and each situation is unique.

I, myself, will do what I can as best as I can to help those that need to be saved from themselves. I will try to let the Ruach lead me in knowing when to rebuke, and when it isn’t necessary; sometimes you just need to move on and let it go. Sometimes you need to stop it dead in it’s tracks. I believe that only with trusting faithfulness, knowing what God wants of us, and asking the Ruach to take charge can I be able to rebuke correctly so that the poison is recognized, the feelings not hurt, and the love that I must have to care enough for someone to risk my relationship with them just to save their soul, will be appreciated.

Whew! I’m asking for a lot, ain’t I? Well, with God all things are possible, even to the point of me being nice to people.

Where do you go for answers?

When we are alive, we have questions. Some are easily answered, like a child asking their parents about things they see. Or, like a student asking the teacher to clarify a point about the lesson. Or like the questions I deal with every day as an IT support person. I remind people that “Google is our friend”, but they are usually too lazy to try to answer their own questions.

My life experience has shown me that people, in general, are too lazy to answer their own questions. They are especially stuck for an answer when the issue is not about something physical, like how to reset security on a browser window or how to take out a stain from a silk blouse, but is deeper and more metaphysical or spiritual. Like, “Who am I?”  “What is the meaning of life?”  “Does God exist?”  “Why did my loved one have to die?”  “How do I handle someone doing me harm?”  “How do I answer someone who I don’t like when they ask me to a party?”  “How do I deal with suffering?”

And where do they go?

They go to Miss Manners, they Ask Amy, they write to Dear Abby, they read their Zodiac, now they go to Google! They go almost anywhere else but the best source for answering all our questions, the Bible.

This is a really short and simple Drash today. It is so simple I almost feel guilty about not going on and on, but more often than not, the simple way is the best way.

If you are unsure about your situation in life, about God, about suffering in the world (yours or anyone else’s) and especially about whether or not Jesus (Yeshua) is the real Messiah, you need to go to the Manual. The ultimate, absolute Manual for Life and Afterlife called Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

That’s the place to go. What is really sad and often the case is that even the people who do believe in God, whether or not they accept Yeshua as the Messiah, will go somewhere other than the Bible. They go to their religious leaders, and that’s not really bad because they are, after all, teachers of God’s word and people we should go to for instruction. However, as I say in my book (you should buy it and read it) our leaders are just as much traditionalists as their leaders were, and with all due respect to their training and devotion, we should, each one of us, go to God, first. God first, then if we are still confused, let God work through someone we trust and know. God often intercedes by using other people that He sends into our life.

So, go to the source. Go to the one who has the answers to all your questions, even the questions you don’t know you have yet. If you need an answer, ask God.

Don’t be lazy, don’t be stupid sheep following blindly, and don’t be convinced that just because someone has some degree they really know what they are talking about. They might, but the bottom line is this: you are going to have to answer for what you do and say. God will not buy that you were just following orders: that didn’t hold water at Nuremberg,  and it won’t hold water at the Throne of Judgement, either.

You are responsible for yourself, so take charge of your afterlife and get the answers from the one who knows them: His name is God.

Reply to my post from yesterday

Thank you, John, for your interest and comments. I am replying here because I think the points you brought up are so important that I need to make sure they get a separate posting and not be hidden in a comment thread.

For those that didn’t see John’s comments, go to the post for yesterday, November 10, and scroll down.

Here is my answer to your counterpoints (good ones, and well made):

Your comments are the very reason I tell people to read the Bible for themselves- you point out that Yeshua did, indeed, give the authority (or so it seems) to the Disciples (except Thomas) to remit or forgive sins in John 20:19-24.I forgot about that part, and stand corrected. At least, in that there is a reference indicating authority over sins. I’m not quite ready to agree that this is absolutely for every “priest” to have. There is no reference that this authority was transferable. Your comment that it was thereby conferred to their successors is not specifically confirmed in the Bible. I learned a long time ago that when reading or interpreting the Bible one cannot make an argument from nothing. If Yeshua did give authority over forgiveness of sins to these men, He did not say it was transferable. If you would, please verify if there is anything else in the writings, either in the Gospels or the letters that follow, that specifically mentions these Elders transferring the authority over forgiveness of sins.

I read a few commentaries about this verse, and I have some questions. One is if Yeshua gave authority to forgive sins, and the same authority to not forgive sins, then is He saying that there are sins that can’t be forgiven? He did say that blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh is an unforgivable sin, but if say, Kefa (Peter) said someone was going to die in their sin, does that mean there are sins that the Grace of God cannot overcome? Isn’t that against what Shaul (Paul) says? Doesn’t he say (I believe this is in Romans) that as sin increases so too does Grace? Can a man state that a sin will not be forgiven, and then God has to abide by that? I agree that Yeshua did give more authority to the Disciples at that time than He did when He sent them out, but I don’t necessarily agree that they were allowed to forgive or to convict the sins of others. I believe (maybe only because I choose to) that what Yeshua was saying was that these men had the authority to identify sins, to hold people responsible for the sins they committed and accuse them of such, and to lead people to forgiveness when they ask for it, by praying to God for them. Hermeneutically,this makes sense since God often has asked others to pray on behalf of sinners. Abraham for Abimelech and Job for his friends, just to mention a couple of examples. I believe that is what Yeshua meant. No commentary, no “true” interpretation, just me, Steve, saying what I believe. No one has to agree.
Next: I am Messianic- thank you for noticing. I also believe that Yeshua was/is God in the flesh, but He was 100% human when He walked the Earth for those 30+ years. He was also 100% human when He died- if God dies, then raises Himself, big deal, right? I mean, after all- God can’t die. Something else God can’t do- He can’t sin or be associated with sin. But Yeshua took on the sin of the world, so how could He be God and take on sin? He had to be human.

Another question: did Yeshua come to Earth and do what He did to replace God? If you worship Yeshua as God, or even just pray to Yeshua for forgiveness, then you place Him between you and God. That’s the definition of idolatry, isn’t it? To have something that is between us and God?

Thirdly, Yeshua is the Messiah, yes? As such, His role (if you will) is to be the ultimate High Priest, in the manner of Melchizedek, forever. As High Priest, He intercedes between us and God. Not replacing God or coming between us by superseding God’s position, but interceding. The purpose for His “birth”, life, death and resurrection is to be the Messiah, and to rule the Earth. If we continue to worship Him as God, we are rejecting the whole reason He came to Earth, aren’t we? Unless you can show me the new Temple, the New Earth, and Messiah ruling the world from Jerusalem, His role is still the Messiah. When the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) have come and gone and we are all resurrected and the Enemy is in the Lake of Fire with all his pals, then, and only then, will we see what is what and who will be whom. For now, I still see Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah, the Saviour of the World, God’s son and God in the flesh but not the one, true, and only God. Dad is still Dad, and the Son is still the Son.

The Trinity exists and it is a Trinity- three in one, yes; three the same, yes; but three. I think the best example of this impossible to understand idea is ice in boiling water. You have a solid, a liquid and a gas- all three exactly the same at the atomic level, but in different forms physically. All three the exact same thing, but each one performing a different function. Ice to cool, water to slake thirst and cleanse, steam to heat up and provide power. All three the same exact thing, all three different in form and function. The function of Messiah, His “job”, if you will, was to bring the Good News of God’s salvation to the world and provide the means for everyone to be reconciled to God through the blood of His perfect sacrifice. After that His job is to intercede for us, to be our High Priest. Finally, His last position will be to rule the world. After the final battle, when all is done and we are all in the presence of God, well…I don’t know what Yeshua will do then. I don’t know what will happen to the Holy Spirit. Will they return to God? Once we are all perfect beings, will we need the Spirit or Yeshua? Will the ice and steam return to the Living Water and be one, again? Was it ever just One? Heck- I don’t know! The Bible doesn’t really help here, does it? John says there was the Word, and the Word became flesh. That implies a physiological change of existence. Something non-physical became physical, so can we assume or expect that when the plan of salvation is complete that things will go back to what they were? Again- I don’t know. Frankly, if I am there, I don’t care what happens. I’ll be there, and (for me) that’s all that matters.

One more final note, my new friend in the Lord: you say that Catholics don’t pray to statues. I have read some of the prayers that are directed to saints, and heard people pray TO Saint Peter, or pray TO Mother Mary. It makes no sense at all to “remember” a Saint when you are praying for something for yourself. And if the Saints don’t have special powers or authority, why is there an entire menu of things to pray for, each with it’s own Saint? Pray to Joseph for healing, pray to Mary to intercede with Yeshua, Pray to St. Jude for this, pray to St. Paul for that…c’mon, face it. Catholic people pray to the Saints.

The prayers of the saints, as mentioned in Revelations, is not the saints carrying the prayers of people to God- the context of that verse is that the saints (those who have died for Messiah and God- not the ones some Pope declared as a Saint) are sending God their own prayers. That’s why they ask, “How much longer?” Their prayers are for themselves. Yeshua said the only way to the Father is through the Son. “Only” doesn’t mean “only me, but you can also get to me through these others.” It means “only me.” Das ist alles! Nothing else, no interpretation, no malarkey about praying to others doesn’t affect the unique mediatorship of Christ (I saw that on a Catholic Answers web page.) Really? Praying to someone else doesn’t affect Yeshua’s unique position as the only path to God? How can something be unique if it is not singularly available? If I can pray to a saint, that does interfere with my prayer to Yeshua or to God. It is another level, an additional plea to another person.  I understand this is a doctrine of your faith, but it seems to be in direct conflict with what Yeshua said. I guess Jews could never make good Catholics: why pray retail to second-level saints when we can pray wholesale, right to God? It just don’t make sense! No-how, no-way.

God wants to hear our prayers, and He wants us to turn to Him for help. Not ourselves, not someone else, but to Him. That is clear throughout the Tanakh and the New Covenant. God is in charge, and He is the one to go to. Yeshua said when we look at Him we see the Father because He was the reflection of God’s holiness. Just as the Talmud says when we look in the Torah it should be a mirror in which we see ourselves. It is not literal, it is metaphoric. When Jeremiah told us about God’s New Covenant in 31:31 he was telling us that the Torah will be in our minds and written on our hearts- in other words, we will be living Torah, just as Yeshua. That’s why John said the Word became flesh- it is in keeping with Jewish thought about the Torah being a mirror.
One more, last, final note: you mention Paul writing about how no one is without sin. Not to pick on you, directly, but that is representative of the anti-Semitic attitude the Catholic church has had since day one! Paul did NOT say those things- he was quoting from David, Elijah and other prophets of the Old Covenant. That is the Catholic “uber-holy” mindset- they give all credit for God’s word to the New Covenant and are so adamant about not having any relationship or reference to the Jewish roots of Christianity that they plagiarize the word of God and associate all that he said in the Tanakh to being solely from the New Covenant. I don’t hate Catholics, but I have very little respect for the way the Catholic church has treated the Jewish people, and the very root of their “religion”. Yeshua said he won’t come back until Jerusalem (the Jewish people) say He is welcomed (I am paraphrasing) and Shaul confirms that by stating He won’t return until the full compliment of the Gentiles are brought into the kingdom, making the Jewish people jealous for their Messiah (implying the influx of Believing, or Messianic, Jews). The Catholic church is way, way behind a lot of the rest of Christianity in that they don’t want to recognize their Jewish roots. It is still as it has been: the Catholic church doesn’t want anything to do with the Jewish people, and they just don’t want Jews around, apparently. Convert them all to Catholicism, the only “true” religion. Until they get that rid of that ridiculous attitude, they are going to be unpleasantly surprised when the stuff hits the fan.

Was Peter really the first pope?

The Pope is supposed to be God’s representative on the Earth, and (also supposedly) infallible. And, as I understand it, this is from Matthew 16:18-19. This is where Yeshua tells Kefa (that would be Jesus and Peter) that he (Kefa) is the rock on which the “church” will be built, and whatever Kefa looses on Earth will be loosed in Heaven, and whatever Kefa binds on Earth will be bound in heaven.

It sounds like Yeshua was turning over the ministry, and more than that, giving Kefa even more authority than Yeshua had, Himself.

I have researched this passage  (briefly, I confess) and have gotten mostly the same results. It seems the general consensus is Yeshua was not telling Kefa that he will be in charge. Neither does the statement about things being loosed and bound mean that whatever decisions Kefa makes will be acknowledged and allowed in heaven. Actually, it is quite the opposite.  What the Greek meaning is, based on the way Greek is interpreted and the proper use of past and future tenses, is that Kefa is to make decisions that are based on what has already been bound or loosed in heaven, and that he is to continue those programs here on Earth.

Think about it, hermeneutically: Yeshua said that He couldn’t do anything that His Father in heaven did not approve, Yeshua did not change any of the laws in Torah, Yeshua said that when we pray we should ask that we be forgiven on Earth as it is in heaven, and there is nothing , anywhere, in the entire New Covenant writings that indicates, even hints at, the fact that Kefa was the sole authority for the Messianic Congregations.

And infallible? Didn’t Shaul set Kefa straight about treating Gentiles and Jews differently in Galatians?

Not to pick on the Catholic Church, although they do make it very easy to do so, but c’mon, Guys? There is no way, when interpreting the Greek correctly and looking at Yeshua’s ministry and all that He taught, and especially when you look at His relationship with the Father, that you can justify Yeshua giving Kefa all that authority, and especially the forgiveness of sin. Yeshua said that He, the Son of Man, had been given the authority to forgive sins, but he never, not even once, said that His Disciples could. He gave them authority over the demons and powers to cure diseases. In the NIV version it says, “…he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”

Nothing there about forgiving sins.

Who came up with this “pope” idea, anyway? I have read that Leo I is generally accepted as the one who organized the Petrine Doctrine. I don’t think it really matters whose idea it was, so far as which human being decided there should be a single authority figure within the Catholic church. What matters is that Yeshua did NOT make that decision, so it should not be done.

According to the Word of God, there is one Cohen HaGadol, or High Priest, and that person is to be a direct descendant of Aaron. The Tanakh tells us that the Mashiach (Messiah) will be a priest forever, as Melchizedek. One high priest, once and forever: that seems to be a clear statement that the Messiah will be the last high priest. If the Catholic church is to be built upon the teachings of Jesus, shouldn’t it respect, obey and and work within the parameters of what Jesus taught? If Jesus said He was the only way to the Father, why does the church pray to the saints? If God said not to have any graven images, of anything or anyone, why do Catholic churches look like an art museum devoted to statues? And if Yeshua said to Kefa that what he loosed or bound is to be what is loosed or bound in heaven, why did that get “turned-around” to make it seem that the ruler of Jesus’s church on Earth has the authority to make decisions that God has to obey? Isn’t God in charge?

If you are Catholic and you say you believe Jesus is your Saviour, you better start to bone up on what your Saviour taught. Get off the “just do as I tell you” wagon and start to find out the truth. Read the Bible, the WHOLE Bible, and get to know who the Messiah really is, from the guy who sent Him here. You won’t find that in the New Covenant because that story is about when He came. You need to find out who the Messiah is supposed to be and what He is supposed to do in the Tanakh. The B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant) relates that Yeshua was foretold about in the Torah and the Tanakh- it doesn’t go into detail. When you read the second volume of a two-volume story, the second volume is the continuation of the first one. You need to read the first one, first, to understand what the second one is about. I don’t know any Catholic (and I have known a few) that even thinks the “Jewish Bible” is important. Oh, yeah- a few may know what the Torah is, or heard of it, but they have been taught the same gibberish that the Jews have been taught- Jesus created a new religion.

That is a lie from the pit of he…well, actually it isn’t a lie from Hell. It originated right here on Earth. It originated by men, but the real idea came from Ha Satan. The separation of the believing Jews from the non-believing Jews in the first through third centuries is the greatest (in my opinion) counter-attack the Enemy has made. Yeshua won the battle, the war is over and all we have been doing for the past 2 Millennia is the mop-up work.  But the Enemy gained back a lot of ground by separating people from God through wrong teachings. It was a strong counter-attack, although it won’t win the war. That’s done and over. He loses, in the end.

As they say, the Kingdom of God has arrived, it just isn’t here, yet. In the meantime, be aware, keep alert, and for your soul’s sake, get your head on straight! Even those who are faithful, who know the proper teachings of Yeshua, who know the word of God and who are ready to serve the Lord as He said we should, will be turned in the end days. The Manual tells us- indeed, warns us- that most will be turned from the faith in the last days. Not some, not a few, not maybe a handful or two, but most. That means significantly more than half.

I will go out on a limb and say that there are many who already have been turned from the true faith. There are many today who think they are serving God but are serving the Enemy, instead. Those who have been taught wrong teachings, and teach them to others, are cursed by their own ignorance and laziness. That’s what I said- laziness! They refuse to learn on their own, to make the effort to know the truth as God wants them to know it, and prefer to just sit around and be told what to believe.

The Pope is not infallible, and he is not Divinely decreed to be the leader of the Church. Nothing against the Pope, himself, but it’s just not what Yeshua wanted. It is a religious thing, created by someone, not by God or by Yeshua. And the Church is full of heresy: they teach and promote idolatry by making their people pray to saints instead of God, they defile the house of God by filling it with graven images, they defile the altar by burying their dead under it and defile the sanctuary by bringing their dead right into it. Read the Tanakh- how did the ancient peoples of God desecrate the holy places of the pagans? They laid the bones of the dead on the altars. God has stated, clearly, that if you touch a dead person you become unclean, and anything associated with the dead is unclean. Yet in a church they carry their dead right up to the altar, bury them underneath it, and surround the house of God with the dead (ever see a church that didn’t have a cemetery right next to it?)

This may seem like an anti-Catholic rant, but it isn’t a hateful attack on the Catholic church. It is a warning. It is a man crying out in the digital desert- make straight your paths! Many Gentiles (not to mention the majority of the Jews, too-don’t even get me started on that!) may already be beyond hope, and those that honor the ways that dishonor God will be drawn down to Sheol with their leaders. It isn’t a good scenario, and I am sorrowful for these poor, lost sheep that have leaders who,they themselves, are so lost and mired in religion that they have all this knowledge, yet they don’t even know what they are doing.  I believe the vast majority of the priests and leaders of the Catholic church are God-fearing, wonderful people who have devoted their lives to serving the Lord. It’s just that they are blinded by centuries of man-made religious ideals and rules and traditions that have them walking straight to the Enemy’s doorstep and bowing down to him to take the mark, all the time thinking they are serving God.

The blind are leading the blind and they will all fall into a hole. I am not happy about that, and I don’ think God is happy about it, either.

GOD HAS NO RELIGION!! How many times do I have to say that? It’s just His rules, that’s all we need. For everyones sake, can’t we just follow those rules? The answer is NO! That’s why God sent Yeshua…because we can’t follow the simple rules He gave us. So nu? What do we do? We make up more rules, and then more rules about the rules, until the rules are ruling us and God has been shoved over to the sidelines.

OY!!  To paraphrase Shakespeare, “What fools we mortals be!”

Look, if you feel insulted, sorry, but it’s for your own good. The Prophets of old were never popular, and I am not writing this, today or any day, to be popular. I am writing this to save souls, to bring people closer to God, and to teach them to seek out the Lord, personally. Don’t take my word for it- take His! Read His word, let the Ruach guide you, and if you haven’t accepted Yeshua/Jesus as your Messiah because you want to, go to a Proctologist and get your head out of the place it’s in now and back on your shoulders because time’s running out!  Don’t think that just because someone who is in a position of religious authority tells you you are saved that you are. The only human who can save you is yourself- you need to ask God for forgiveness, to accept from God His gift of Grace made possible through the sacrificial death of Yeshua the Messiah, and do T’Shuvah in your heart so you can accept, because you want to ask for it, the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide you from now on. You need to be ready to change “for the God.” You don’t need to change overnight, you don’t need to be a “Holy” person like in the Old Covenant, you just need to become holier than you are now. You need to walk in the pathway God tells you, you need to do what God says to do and not just what people tell you He says you should do. And you won’t know what that is until you read His Manual for Salvation.

Get ready for the end, Brothers and Sisters, ’cause it’s a-comin soon. Don’t be left out in the cold.

Force-fed spirit

Have you ever seen a horse get a pill? They take a sort-of gun, stick it deep down the horse’s throat, put the pill inside and push a plunger that forces the pill down its gullet. It’s not very easy to do, and it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun for the horse, either.  I am willing to bet the more you do it, the less likely the horse will be willing to cooperate. And I guarantee he will hate that gun!

It is the same way with humans and religion. When we are brought up with religion as a part of our lives, it can be either an edifying and pleasant experience, or it can be a pain in the tuchas, generating resentment. I wanted to have a Bar Mitzvah, and I am appreciative that my parents went along with it, but they didn’t really care one way or the other. I know many Catholics who went to Catholic school, all the way through high school, and never learned one thing about God. They didn’t want to because it was force-fed to them. They read the Catechism, studied hard, and at their Confirmation, when the Priest told them they had the spirit of Christ in them, all they felt was relief that it was over.

I am sorry, but no one can tell you you have the spirit of God in you- you need to accept it yourself. You are saved by faith, not by giving the correct answer on a quiz.

How many of you know someone who has turned from God only because they had Him shoved down their throats from an early age? I met a woman once (and that was enough) who was raised Ultra-Orthodox, and as soon as she grew old enough to be on her own, she converted to become a Quaker. Then she started to find any other Jew-turned-Quaker person she could. I met her when I was leading the Shabbat services for an assisted living facility. I did a totally Jewish (i.e., non-Messianic) service and the funny thing is: there were only 1 or 2 Jewish people, and about 10-12 Gentiles attending. Yet, this “converted” woman raised a stink that I was teaching about Jesus and she insisted (now remember- she turned her back on Judaism and became a Quaker) that Jesus has nothing to do with Shabbat services. She even told me, after I confirmed that I was Messianic, that we were alike, both of us have given up our Judaism.

No, I didn’t hit her, although…..

It ended up that I stopped doing the services because the management was afraid of upsetting her. That’s what comes from force-feeding people religion. They grow up hating the religion, but still feeling tied to it, so they end up confused and bigoted. It turns them away from God.

Whether Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, whatever- when we raise our children we need to teach them about God, not about religion.  Remember: God has no religion, only people do. And look how we screw up everything we touch, so maybe it’s best to teach our kids about God and let them decide about religion on their own.

Yes- this is a somewhat radical thought. I confess I can’t give any experiential advice since I didn’t get to raise my children. All I can suggest is that they be taught the word of God, straight from the Bible. If you are a church-going worshipper, taking them along is necessary when they are too young to be on their own. But once they can be left at home, they should get to choose. It is important that the parents show them the “fun” side of worship, keep them involved in the congregational and social aspects of worship. If the place where you worship doesn’t have children-friendly activities, you should find another place.  It is important that children are raised with God representing fun and peacefulness. We need to fill them with the joy and wonder that David felt.

Of course, this means the parents have to know the Lord, intimately. Everyone of the people I know who is not “saved” is religious by practice, but they don’t practice their religion. They just go through the motions: go to services on Shabbat or Sunday, go to the main Holiday or Holy Day celebrations, write a check for what is comfortable (i.e., not tithing correctly, but tithing conveniently), follow the regulations they are comfortable with and find excuses to ignore the ones they don’t like. You know what I am talking about, don’t you?

And this isn’t just for non-Believers. Oh no! We all know some “Buffet Believers”, too.

The Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, is available to all of us. In the days before Yeshua, it was given and then taken back. Once the breach sin causes between God and people was repaired by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Ruach became available for us to have and keep. It is now a lifetime gift. We need to treat it with the respect and awe it deserves, and not hand it out like someone calling for the next deli customer:

“OK. Number 17- got your answers ready? Hello? Number 17?  Number 17!- speak up now or you will go to Hell!”

No, no,no…the giving of the Holy Spirit can only be from God. It always has been from God, and can only be from God. And only when someone of age asks for it. The Elders of the Messianic Community laid hands on people and they were given the Spirit, but it didn’t come from the Elders- it came from God! The Elders were nothing more than a conduit for the Spirit to transfer through. Just as the miracles that were done were from the power of God and not from the power of men, so ,too, the Spirit is transferred through us. It can be given directly from God, or through those God chooses to use. But it is ALWAYS from God. And we must want it.  We must ask for it; at least, if we want to keep it. There are some stories in the Bible when God did give His Ruach for a time, even though the people didn’t ask for it: for example, the few elders who refused to attend Moses’s meeting when he called for the 70 Elders and Shaul, the King, when he first was to be anointed.

But if we want to have God’s Holy Spirit in us forever, we must ask Him for it. It can’t be handed out like Halloween candy or grade school test papers. It is way too valuable to just throw to someone who may not even care about it and are just doing what they are doing because they are told they have to. That’s not how to teach others to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might.

Here’s the hardest part of all- the best way (I think) to teach our children, and anyone else (for that matter) about God’s wonderful peace and the joy of salvation, is to show them what it is. We need to be living water ourselves, and to demonstrate how accepting the Ruach has changed us for the better. How it has given us peace in a world full of disarray, how it holds us together during times when we just want to fall apart, and how it gives us hope for the future. I don’t see how anyone can feel peaceful when they think everything that exists, everything that has ever happened, and anything that might ever happen, is all by chance. No control, no plan, no way that anything you want will come to be except by luck. How can anyone live with that? No wonder they are so lost; in fact, they are so lost they think they know where they are. They think they are in control. It is the blind leading the blind.

Teach your kids, your friends and loved ones, even your enemies, about God by showing them what He has done for you. Make them jealous for His spirit, make them desire the peace you feel (which you need to show) and the joy you get when you worship. If they don’t go to worship, talk about it. Don’t ram it down their throat, just mention it in passing. And always find a way to bring God into the  conversation; gently, just as an aside (‘you know, there is a story about that I read in a book once….’ Don’t tell them it’s from the Bible until after you have told it. They will think it’s gossip and be all-attentive, so by the time you tell them the meaning and the source, God’s word will have been spread. And His word never returns void.)

OK, that is a little sneaky, but we are lambs in a fold of wolves- we need to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents (that’s from the Bible, you know. I’ll give you a hint- look for it in Mattitayu.)

This is a hard thing to do- live as God wants us to live. None of us do it totally correct. I confess I don’t do it well, at all. But I try, and I know that it does work sometimes. I am so totally blessed when someone asks me if I am a Believer because they noticed how I act. I am so proud of myself, and happy that I must be pleasing the Lord to get asked that question. Oh, Lord- if only I was asked that question daily! I am so sorry that I am not.

How do your kids feel about God? How do your friends, the ones that aren’t Believers, feel about God? Do they see Him in you?

Why God Blesses those who reject him

When I was a kid, in my early teens, I would curse God. I was depressed, feeling unloved, always angry…you know, those normal adolescent emotional waves of trauma that we all go through. And like many people who don’t understand God, I blamed Him. I had no idea that all the time I was cursing and blaming God for all the bad things in my life, He was gently leading me to Him, to salvation, and protecting me. Both physically and spiritually.

Eventually (it took nearly another 25 years) I found my way to Him. Now I understand better how the world works and how God works. Please don’t get me wrong- I do not understand all about how God works, I just understand it better than I used to.

And one thing I have learned, and truly believe, is that God’s love is totally absent of ego. Oh, He says He is a jealous God, and He is, but I do not believe it is the jealousy we feel, as humans. As a human, my jealousy is selfish, self-centered and (usually) leads to destructive behaviour, either against myself, the person I am jealous for, or both.

I believe (and I have to say this is not something I can quote from the Bible, so I am sharing just my belief) that God is totally focused on our well being. He cares for us so much that He loves and cares for us even when we reject Him for anything else, such as another god, another person, or Monday Night Football; whatever comes between us and God is an idol that separates us from all that God wants us to have. And that is what gets His goat. He is not jealous that we are not loving or worshipping Him for something else, He is jealous that we are not doing what is best for ourselves.

In other words, He is not selfishly angry that He is left out, He is un-selfishly angry that we are hurting ourselves.

Think of someone you love who constantly does things that are bad for him or her: drinking too much, using other drugs that are harmful, maybe never seeing a doctor, never exercising, eating too much, dating total jerks and users…whatever. It is harmful to them, and because you love them it burns you inside that they do this to themselves. And there’s usually little or nothing we can do about it.

It’s like the joke: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?    Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.”

When people don’t want to be better to themselves, we who love them have to sit on the sidelines and try to help when we can, suffering for them and with them, all the time feeling helpless and forlorn. That’s sort of how God feels when we reject Him.

In the real world, we can’t do anything to change a person’s behaviour if they don’t want to change. The best we can do is be a light for them, an example of what they can feel or be if they do change. And during this process of watching them destroy themselves, we will try to be supportive, try to direct them to the right path, then inevitably (often for our own protection) leave them to their own devices. Or vices, as the case may be.

That’s what God does. He will bless those who curse Him, He will protect them even when they tell Him to leave them alone. God loves us that much. Eventually, though, if someone totally rejects God, and does so long enough, God may just leave them alone. After all, His love is so great that He will do what we ask, even if it may hurt us. Being omniscient, maybe He knows when to leave us alone so that the world will beat us up so much we might finally look to Him for salvation instead of ourselves, or some other god or drug or social fad?  Maybe, maybe not.

I read how someone asked Billy Graham’s daughter how a good God could allow such evil in the world (I think this was after the Columbine murders) and she said, in brief, that we have asked God to leave our lives, to leave our government, and to leave our schools (thank you very much, Brown vs. the Board.) And, being the gentleman He is, He has. That’s why there is so much violence and evil in these places today.

I don’t need to go on about how God has helped, guided, protected and blessed me even as I was rejecting and cursing Him. I am certain that most of you can look back in your lives and remember a time when this was true for you, too. That’s why I don’t need to go into detail anymore than what I have already said.

The point is this: God’s love is so holy, so unselfish, so far beyond any love any human can generate, that He is happy to bless us when we reject Him, when we ignore His Torah, when we teach others to ignore His Torah, and even when we fervently deny the very truth of His existence. In the Manual the Lord says He will have mercy on those He will have mercy on , and not on those He will not. It also says He rains on the just and unjust, alike. God loves us all, and it doesn’t matter if we love Him back or not.

I remember hearing a story in Jewish lore, maybe it’s in the Talmud, but it goes this way:

After the Jewish people crossed the Red Sea, and as the waters were crushing in on the Egyptian soldiers, destroying the army of the Pharaoh, the angels in heaven wanted to sing for joy at the salvation of the Jewish people. But God said not to sing, and when they asked why not, His reply was, “Because my children are dying.” That’s how much He loves everyone.

Unrequited love is hard to live with- I am certain that all of you reading this have had to live through it at one time or another in your life.  I know, absolutely, that every parent has had to live through a time when their own children hated them. I myself have two children whom I  love and miss terribly. They have used me, taken me on an emotional roller-coaster ride and as each one reached maturity (legal maturity, not emotional) and received the inheritance from my parents they were due, they rejected me. It wasn’t even that much money, and they squandered it before it got warm in their hands. They were raised by their mother and it’s a long story; I think I can safely assume that I am not the only one who has such a story to tell. Yet, if they wanted to reconcile (which is my daily prayer) I would do so in a heartbeat, because my heart still beats for both of them. That will never change. And that’s why I think I can understand, to some degree, how God feels and why He still blesses those that hate Him.

That’s just how love works.

 

Heaven Can Wait

Do you look forward to going to heaven? Yeah, me too. Of course, you do know that we don’t get to be in heaven forever, right? After all, the heavens is where God lives, and the Manual tells us that after the End Days are completed and all has come to pass, the new Temple will be here on the new Earth, and we will each sit under our own fruit tree and enjoy the fruits of our labor in peace, forever. Israel is where we spend eternity.

For me, all that is anti-climatic. Yes, it’s true. As wonderful as God’s promise of eternal peace and joy in His presence is, what is really important to me is not the final destination but the possession of the ticket that gets me there.

Most of my life I had been searching for God. I wasn’t sure about His existence, and often I didn’t even want Him to exist. Mainly because I knew that that would mean I had to change, I would have to discipline and watch myself, be on guard every second for the rest of my life.

That doesn’t sound like a peaceful way to live.

But I didn’t understand that with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that ever-watchful lifestyle is easier. God’s very spirit is inside of me, slapping me upside the head whenever my natural tendencies want to show themselves. That makes it much, much easier to know when I am in need of guarding my tongue, as well as my attitude. And believe-you-me, as a native New Yorker, I got plenty of attitude, Buddy!

Now that I know the Lord, and that I have come to accept Messiah Yeshua as my Messiah, I am one of those that has done T’Shuvah (‘turned’ from my sin) and by calling on the name of the Lord, I am saved. That doesn’t mean I can go on sinning on purpose, or that I am not required to produce fruit to demonstrate and, quite frankly, prove I really meant it when I called on His name, but it does mean I have been given my ticket to Eternity.

I’ve got…my ticket to Paradise. Pack my bags, I’ll leave tonight. I’ve got…my ticket to Paradiiiiiise”  (my apologies , Mr. Money)

Do you have your ticket? Oh, yeah, heaven is gonna be absolutely fantastic! It will be beyond what any of us can imagine. It will be eternal joy, peace, and we will still be doing stuff but we will love doing it. We will get to worship God right to His face, we will be (I think) back to the simple, agrarian lifestyle that gives one so much pleasure in seeing what one’s work produces, then enjoying the tastes and pleasure that comes from eating the fruits of ones farming labors. You know, Thomas Jefferson (remember him?) said that farmers were God’s chosen people- he wasn’t talking against the Jews, he was just demonstrating how wonderful he believed farming was.

Whatever heaven will be like, for me heaven can wait. It is after-the-fact wonderful because the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, or ever will happen to me, is my salvation.

Note to Donna: I’m talking spiritually, Sweetheart. Of course, the best thing that ever happened to me or ever will in the physical world is you, Donna, my wife.

The greatest feeling I ever experienced was the moment I felt the Ruach HaKodesh enter me, and I have a constant reminder of it’s presence (meaning it keeps me in line all the time, because I need to be kept in line, all the time.)

So, as I said, heaven can wait because the most wonderful thing is that I am in! I have my irrevocable, guaranteed, no black-out date, fully redeemable and never-expiring ticket to eternity.

Does anything else really matter? If only I could keep in mind how insignificant and silly everything I am going through in this life will be once I turn in that ticket. That’s the real peace we get while we are still on Earth. Maybe that’s why Shaul said he knew how to be satisfied in every situation- he was able to stay focused on the future. He knew that nothing that happens here on Earth will matter or even be remembered, for all we know, once we are resurrected and with the Lord.

I think that’s the takeaway for today: if you’ve got your ticket, stay focused on that. You’re there, you’ve got your seat and nothing else from this point forward is as important as owning that ticket. The more fruit you produce, the better you can upgrade, but still- when all is said and done, you only need to remember that ticket and nothing the world throws at you should be so bad anymore. There is peace in knowing you are already there. Man-Oh-Manischewitz, life is really not a problem when you know that God’s got your back.

Does God have your back? As you are reading this can you say you are saved? If not, are you afraid of it? I was. But there is nothing better. The world stinks, and life is hard. Being saved won’t save you from life, only from death, and being saved can make life so much easier to live through. Read some more of this stuff in my older posts, read the Bible (that’s the best source), ask people you know who are Born Again (if you don’t know anyone like that, find someone. We’re all around), and start to think about your future. It’s not something that you can just do when you get the time because you don’t control time.

Waiting is stupid, so be smart. The journey isn’t short, but I believe the time is, so you need to get started now!

 

You Love Me? Really?

We all know that the Lord loves us. Whether or not we love Him, He loves us. His love is unconditional, it is forever, it is based on who He is and not who we are (thank God for that!), and it will cause Him to judge us fairly with mercy. Which we all need.

It is so much above human love, and so far beyond human understanding; how can any of us, really, associate with what He did when He sent His only son to die for us so that we could be close to Him. Something we could never have achieved on our own, even though it isn’t that hard. After all, Moshe told us that it isn’t so far away we need to send someone to get it for us, or so deep we can’t retrieve it, or so high above us we can’t reach it. It is right there, right in front of us.

But we can’t get hold of it, not a real good hold. So God did for us what we should have done for ourselves, at a great cost. Yeshua stripped His robes of righteousness and took on a mantle of flesh: filthy, dirty and mortal coverings that He wore just as the rest of us. Except despite this, He did not sin in the flesh that causes all the rest of us to sin. He survived unblemished, He showed us how to live, and He properly interpreted God’s word for us (which means Jesus/Yeshua did NOT create a new religion- those that followed after Constantine created a different religion, but Yeshua taught from the Tanakh and taught how to follow the Torah correctly.) Yeshua died so that I could live; so that you could live. It was, and is, a very personal thing.

Do you love the Lord? Most everyone I ever met who is Born Again says “YES!! Emphatically! Totally! Absolutely!”

I love God, too, but I don’t feel it.  I feel love for my wife. I feel love for my children (even though they have rejected me, so in that way I know a little about how God must feel), but I confess I don’t feel love for God- I know I have love for Him. Maybe because He is so wonderful, so far from me (in holiness, but not emotionally or relationship-wise), or maybe just because I am really selfish with using the word “love”, I don’t have the same emotional sense I feel with other humans. I love the Lord, and I am His bride (wow- to say such a thing in today’s world, and so close to election time, is scary) and those who read this most likely know the true meaning of that reference. But I just can’t honestly say I love God and feel it. I want to, I know I do, but I don’t feel it. I do feel unworthy, unresponsive, and undeserving of what He feels for me because I just don’t know how to return it. And I absolutely know that He deserves it.

Maybe my real problem is that I can’t separate the holy love I know for God from the romantic love I feel as a human. How many of you out there love someone because of how they make you feel? You feel whole, completed with the other person, right? My relationship with God has made me feel completed as a Jewish man, I feel that I have (finally) come full circle with God and we are on the same page, so to speak. My relationship is wonderful and fulfilling with the Lord- exactly what He planned when He sent Messiah. And more than anything or anyone else that ever was, God deserves my love. He has earned it because He gave me life, because of His sacrifice for me, through His devotion to me, through all He has done during my meager life that has protected me and kept me from harm, both physical and spiritual. God is worthy of my worship, my devotion, and more than anything, my love. He is worthy and deserving of everyone’s love.

However, I am not. That’s why I am confessing to you that I don’t “buy it” when a stranger, or even someone I worship with regularly and would call a friend or acquaintance, comes to me at the worship and says, “I love you, Brother!” I don’t doubt their sincerity, but I doubt they really love me. Not me. Maybe the spirit of God that they expect I should be housing? I could go along with that. But not me. They don’t know me. They haven’t seen me at my worst. They haven’t  heard the words I use when I am angry and frustrated (for me, those two emotions are so close together they are almost like Siamese Twins.) They haven’t heard my vengeful talk when I am wronged; I don’t take vengeance- that is for the Lord. But, I do plan it out for Him, now and then. They haven’t seen my evil twin, Skippy, at work when he locks me in the basement and takes over for me in real life, going to work and impersonating me. He angers the clients, makes trouble for the co-workers, he even gets my wife angry at him. It takes a lot to get Skippy to leave town; fortunately, he doesn’t get along with the Ruach HaKodesh so the closer I get to God the less often Skippy comes around.

But if you met Skippy, you certainly wouldn’t say to him, “I love you , Brother!” You would probably say something more like, “Oh Brother!”

I don’t tell people whom I don’t really know that I love them. I am not much of a hugger, either. I find it very impolite when someone hugs another person without asking permission. It isn’t their love for me that makes them want to hug me- it is their own desire to feel loved. They physically misuse my body, they assault me, in order to feel that they are loved. And if I should say, “I’m not really a hugger” their response more often than not is, “Well, I am.” and they proceed to violate my space, my body and my rights by hugging me. And if I should complain, guess who’s at fault? That’s right- they blame me for not loving as the Lord loves. They insult God’s love and cheapen what Yeshua did by ( as the psychologists call it) “projecting” their feelings at me instead of reflecting on what I said.

{By the way, to those who know me and those who worship with me, if you are thinking you should keep your distance don’t worry- I do hug people I feel comfortable with, and if you offer and I reply with a hug, it’s OK. If I should stick my hand out, that’s the signal that I am not comfortable enough yet. It’s not a rejection, it’s just caution on my part. Don’t stop asking, and please do not be upset or feel rejected if it isn’t time yet. It will be, eventually.}

You love me? Really? I don’t think so. I don’t think humans have that kind of love. Again, I don’t doubt your sincerity, and I appreciate your attempt  to be more like God, but love for others is worth a lot to me, and I don’t just throw it at the feet of anyone who says they are a child of God. It is like throwing pearls before swine, in my book. I pretty much start of with giving everyone the benefit of the doubt when I first meet them, or start to work with them, and I assume (and expect) they will be professional, dependable and trustworthy. I trust them and am looking forward to working with them, or knowing them as friends, whatever the relationship is supposed to be. It is up to them to give me cause to feel otherwise.

But it’s not like that with love. Love is something that the Bible teaches us we should have for each other. Love thy neighbor as thyself- Leviticus 19:18 (for those who don’t know this, when Yeshua gave us the “Golden Rule” He was quoting from Torah. There is nothing ‘New” in the New Covenant)- is the standard for all of us. Yeshua said the two most important commandments (in this order, by the way) are to love God, and love each other. He told His disciples that the way people will know they are His disciples is if they love each other. There is nothing but love in the life of a true Believer, a real worshipper of God. Shaul tells us, ultimately, no matter how many gifts he has been given, no matter how many talents he has, no matter how hard he works for the Lord, if he has not love, he has nothing.

I guess I am just a step or two above nothing. I have love, but I am selfish with it. I am too ensnared in the world, still, to separate the romantic version of love from the holy love that God feels for us. And, I am sorry to say, I don’t think I am that much different from most everyone else.  I believe that people cannot love the way God loves, but I do honor their attempt. That’s why when someone says they love me, I don’t argue with them. I may thank them, I most likely won’t say anything, and I guarantee I won’t say that I love them, too. I don’t know them that well, I am not that Godly, and I am certainly not that open with my feelings.

I hope you are different. I hope that some of you reading this will pity my weakness, my fleshly curse that prevents me from feeling love the way God does and keeps me chained to the emotional, romantic understanding of love that is a bane, in many ways, of humanity. Pray for me, if you will, and pray for yourself that you are really feeling the intercessory power that comes from truly loving as God does- not romantically, not selfishly, not humanly.

I doubt that I will ever feel that way, at least, not in this body. I do believe that once resurrected, I will be beyond the human level of emotions; I believe that we will all, those of us resurrected to the second life, no longer have emotional feelings as we do now. Our sense of love and emotional closeness to each other will be beyond the physical and it will be as God feels- love that is so powerful, so much a part of us that it is like breath, and as such we will be in total joy just being with each other.

I can hardly wait.

No Pain; No Gain

Having been very active in sports during High School, and throughout my life, I have a deep and intimate understanding of the title for today’s Drash.

It’s not wise to hurt yourself, but when you push your muscles to their limit, you will feel it over the next couple of days. It is a “good” hurt because, although having sore muscles does hurt, it represents that you have done a good job, you pushed yourself to the limits of your ability, and (so far as physical exercise is concerned) that means you will gain more muscle and endurance.

Real muscle grows when you destroy it. When you feel that “burn” and your muscle is “pumped”, the excess blood flow that causes that feeling is going there in order to help the destroyed tissue. The destroyed tissue isn’t just replaced; the body builds more tissue than there was originally. That is how body-builders get those large muscles (even without the ‘roids’). The constant destroying of muscle and careful rebuilding through proper diet and rest results in larger and stronger muscles, with greater endurance.

Faith is a spiritual muscle that we need to work with, every day. And, just like biceps, pecs and abs, we need to push it to it’s limits; indeed, we need to destroy it so that we can rebuild it to be stronger and more enduring. The way we exercise our faith is to live  in a way that pushes us to do more than we want to do. In other words, we need to force ourselves to get outside our spiritual comfort zone.

Get more involved in activities at the place where you worship, witness to friends and family, even strangers, more often. Risk their disapproval. Go on mission trips, help the homeless and needy, volunteer, just get off your butts and do something that takes faith. Pray more often (see my section on Prayer for some ideas about that), read the Bible more often, trust more often (oh, that is a hard one). And here’s the really difficult one: forgive more often, and more completely.

Exercise your faith by using it. I gave you some ideas above, but I don’t know what you need to do. I don’t know where your faith is weak…but you do. You know what makes you feel uncomfortable, you know what you don’t like to do, and you know what God is telling you to do. Finally: it’s all about you now.

Search your heart, seek those things that God tells us we should all be doing and that you know you don’t do, and do it!

That’s pushing your spiritual muscles to the limit. And just like the professionals, rest and eat properly. The proper diet is to read the Word of God (Man doesn’t live on bread alone but every word from the mouth of God) for food to nourish your spirit, and rest through intimate and private prayer time with the Lord. Prayer is refreshing to both your soul and your spirit, and even to your physical body.

So get on out there and work those spiritual muscles! Feel the burn, get pumped; Yeshua worked His spiritual muscles completely and showed us how we are to do it. Stop being a Weakling of Worship, and become a Schwarzenegger of Spirit!

Remember: Yeshua was the first one to say, “I’ll be back!”