Under Attack: Good Thing or Bad Thing?

Are you under attack? Do you think the Enemy is trying to get you to do things that will separate you from God?

If so, that is actually a good thing, isn’t it? I mean, if you are getting so close to God that the Enemy sees that as a threat to him, then the attack means you are doing something right. Doesn’t it?

That may not help make things feel better, because an attack is, well, an attack. It’s never fun. But it does mean  you are on the right track.

I don’t feel like I’ve ever been attacked. Really. I often review myself and think, “Why am I so blessed? Why aren’t I going through real Tsouris?”  And the only answer I can come up with is that I am not getting any closer to God today than I was yesterday.

That’s not a good thing- that’s a bad thing. I am not growing, spiritually.

Maybe I am being blessed; so much so, in fact, that I am under the kippur (covering) of the Lord so that the Enemy can’t get to me. That sounds wonderful, but I really can’t see myself there. I just don’t! I still have wrongful thoughts, I look at pretty women just a little longer than I should (not that I lust with my eyes, I just, oh, let them linger there for an extra second or so), when I get frustrated I still spew forth a stream of expletives that can make the sailors blush (once a Marine, always a Marine- in both spirit and language), and I…well, let’s just say there are a few more items on the list. I like to joke that I don’t want to be perfect because of what happened to the last perfect Jewish boy. In truth, I can’t be perfect, and I would like to be closer to God than I am now. Even at the risk of coming under attack.

I guess I have to try harder. I have to work more at taking up my execution stake and following Yeshua more closely. I need to die more to self, to empty the sin from my soul so that there is more room for the Ruach HaKodesh to fill the space that is left there with His righteousness.

I know this sounds really stupid, but I kinda wish that I was under attack more. I would feel that I am doing something right. But let me also state that NOT being under attack is the preferred way to go through life, and being protected by God is better than anything there is.

So, Lord…if you’re reading this, and you are spreading your wings over me like a mother hen spreads her wings over her chicks, please don’t think I am ungrateful or that I don’t want to be here. What I want is to please you, to do what is right in your eyes. I want what David asked for: that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to thee, always.

If you are under attack, look to the Ruach for support and help, and recognize that the attack is not just because the Enemy has nothing else to do- it is because you are doing something worthy of attack. You are getting closer to God, and that is a good thing. Suffer through, for perseverance can build your faith and strengthen your spirit; that’s what Jimmy said, and he is right.

Of course, you may also be under the rod of God. Don’t forget we gain strength and comfort from His rod and His staff; the staff to gently lead us, and the rod when we refuse to listen. Being under attack may not always be the Enemy trying to separate you from God. It may be God trying to get you back on the right path. Either way, if you feel under attack take a really close look at yourself: if you know you are doing what God wants, it’s the Enemy, so stay the course. If you truthfully know you have wandered off the true way, it’s God wanting to direct you back, so get on track.

I don’t really want to be under attack, and I am happy and grateful if I can avoid it. Maybe God is protecting me, maybe the Enemy is waiting for a more opportune time. Remember Cain? God told him that sin is crouching at his door, as it is for all of us. Maybe the real attack is yet to come? Whatever. I am ready, and I think the best defence is a strong offence- believe me, no one is more offensive than me- so I will keep trying. I will continue to work to get closer to God, and to do what is right in His eyes.

Being under attack could be a good thing, it could be a good sign, but not being under attack is even better. I pray that no one reading this is under attack, and if so, won’t be for much longer. There is always hope in the Lord, and that is what the Enemy wants to take away from you. He cannot, nor can anyone, take away the promise of salvation, but we can throw it away, so when you are under attack hold tight to the Lord and His promises. That is your anchor.

Fight back, stay the course, win the ultimate laurel wreath. Attacks are bad things that represent a good thing- keep in mind the good thing is that you are getting closer to God and when you come through the fire you will be more refined, like much fine gold. The purer the gold, the less it tarnishes.

 

Two Taboos Too Many

What are the two taboos? Never discuss religion and politics, right? That’s what we are told, and it’s good advice.

The reason I say they are two too many is because when God created everything, His original plan was that there would be only one, non-taboo discussion: Him. The governmental system in the garden was God, the religion was God. That was it. A perfectly run, perfect example of Theocracy.

The de-evolution of this perfect government started with the invention of other gods (man-made, of course) which is what religion has become.

God has no religion. Gee…where have I heard that before?

Then the gods were not enough, so the system split into gods (religion) and human rulership, aka kings (politics), which further devolved the governmental system into the two taboos of today.

We will eventually get back to the perfect Theocracy that God intended, but that will have to wait until Yeshua returns and the Apocalypse is completed.

As the world falls deeper and deeper into revolution, disruption and civil disorder, helped by human intervention with the destruction of our ecosystem and habitats, I can only smile. Not that I enjoy the tsouris, but that I look forward to His return. And I know that won’t happen until things look their worst.

I hope anyone reading this, who is not absolutely sure where you will be after God drops the other shoe, will read some of the older entries in this ministry blog. Go to Category and (especially if you are Jewish) read some of the Jews and Jesus posts, then the Messianic 101 posts. I think that should give you some level of comfort when thinking about who Yeshua, the real Messiah of Israel is (vice that Aryan-looking guy with the blond hair, blue eyes and whose kingdom has been hell-bent on killing the Jews), and help you to understand how things got so separated.

I recommend that we stick to the two taboos, for the time being, and wait until they are one again. Then we won’t need to talk about politics and religion because, well…they won’t exist anymore. It will be just God.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait.

Be Intolerant To Tolerance

I have often said (and most likely will continue to do so) that whatever the “world” sees as correct and justified is most likely not so in God’s eyes.

Every day we see evil and wrong-doing, and most of the time we just look the other way. Is that wrong? From what I read in the Bible, it is. Does’t God tell us that if we see an enemy’s donkey under a load that is too much for it, we should help? Doesn’t Proverbs tell us to give our enemy food and water? Doesn’t Yeshua tell us to forgive someone not 7 times, but 70 times 7 times? Doesn’t the Bible command us to love our neighbor as ourself?

We also, way too often, are too afraid to speak out against what God says is wrong. We don’t want to appear “intolerant” or racist/homophobic/bigoted, or whatever other label someone wants to place on a person who simply disagrees with them.

If I say that a person who is homosexual is doing what the Bible says is wrong, I am accused of being homophobic and an intolerant bigot. If I say that a homosexual person is perfectly normal, acceptable, and that he or she is not sinning or doing anything wrong, I am looked upon by the world as  a tolerant and wonderful person. But in God’s eyes I am wrong.

For the record- I am not saying the KKK, the Aryan Nation, or any other violent and hate-crime related organization or member is acceptable or that hating someone for their color, religion, lifestyle choice or any other reason is OK. It is not. Don’t go off of the deep end here- I am talking about “socially acceptable” levels of disagreement and not violent or bigoted feelings and actions that are not biblically defined.

God is clear about homosexuality. It is a sin, but it is no more or less a sin than lying, since every sin is a sin. If I say I just don’t believe homosexuality is a correct way of life I am called all sorts of nasty names; however, if I say I am against lying I am perfectly alright. Why? Because the difference between whether I am a bigot or OK is what the world says I should accept. In God’s eyes, though, wrong is wrong.  God doesn’t really put sin in different categories: this one is a major sin, this is a minor sin, you need three of these to even count…violation of a single stroke in the Torah is a sin. Yes, there are sins that require death and sins that do not, but my point is that any sin separates us from God, and we should speak out against any and all sin. And do so remembering that we, also, are sinners.

I believe everyone has a right to choose what they will be and what they will do, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others. Be whatever you want to be, but don’t force it on me or demand I agree with you. Have you noticed how some people, no matter what their belief or position, will raise a holy stink about how they aren’t allowed to just be themselves, but when you disagree with their position they call you a bigot or some other nasty name? What hypocrites! They cry for their right to be what or who they are, and demand to be accepted when they make their own choice, but if you choose to disagree with them you are wrong! Being tolerant in the world means not just accepting a different lifestyle or belief, or religion, or color…it means you have to change your mind about it. The world says that tolerance means you not only have to live with it, but also accept it as correct and normal behavior, and you have to like it, too!

If I say I don’t believe that something is right, and won’t change my mind, I am wrong! I am intolerant, I am a bigot, I am not a good person.Well, then I guess, as far as the world is concerned, I am just that. Yes, I do not believe many of the things we see in our society are acceptable behavior, I do not believe they are healthy for the society, and I believe they are wrong. In God’s eyes, using the Bible as my guideline, they are wrongful acts and doing those things is committing a sin against God.

There! I said it. I am against the world.

Apathy is no better than intolerance, but at least when you don’t give a darn about anything, you are more likely to be accepted. Not caring is one step less annoying than having an opinion. However, as far as God is concerned (disagree if you want but you will be wrong…just joking) not doing the right thing in God’s eyes is the same as doing the wrong thing.

I guess this little rampage I am on is a pet peeve of mine, so please excuse me if I am talking more about what Steven feels today than (maybe) what God says. I do believe my minor rampage is still biblically accurate and appropriate, and if I am too much about my own opinion and getting away from what God teaches us, someone please let me know.

We who are professing to love the Lord, who say we believe in Yeshua as the Messiah and have accepted God’s Grace, and who have the Ruach HaKodesh living within us: we are the ones that are supposed to be separate from the world. And, as such, we need to have the strength and faith in God to voice our opinion when we see something that is against what God says. And we should do it when appropriate, and with loving compassion. Not agreeing with someone is no reason to accuse them of being anything but wrong in God’s eyes. Hate the sin, but love the sinner.

The Torah was given to Israel to separate them from the world. Within Torah the Levites are separated from the other tribes. The closer we get to God, the more separated we become from the world around us.

If the world says following God and proclaiming God’s Word is intolerant and bigoted, you can hang that sign on me. It may be just another type of big yellow Star of David that separates me from the rest of society, but if I must wear the Star, I will do it, proudly.

Yes, I am intolerant of sin. Yes, I will speak out to those who ask me what I believe exactly what the Bible says and what God demands, which is what I believe. Yes, I will call something that is defined in the Bible as a sin, a sin. Yes, I will not let someone, no matter who, that is doing wrong not be given the chance to know what God says so they might do T’Shuvah, and be saved.

No, I will not hate the sinner. I will hate only the sin. No, I will not attack or suggest harm should come to anyone who sins because that is God’s purview. Do not return evil for evil, but wait upon the Lord.  No, I will not walk by or look away when someone is doing wrong to another.

Shaul said that we live in the world but we are not part of the world. Not anymore. It is not easy; Yeshua said those that follow Him must pick up and carry their own execution stake every day. We must be dying to self, which means becoming more and more separated from the world. That means separated from what is comfortable, what has been pleasurable, from friends, from family, even from those closest to us, if it comes to that.

Tolerance and apathy are two sides of the same coin, and as a Believer we don’t want that coin in our pocket. As Yeshua said, give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and give unto God that which is God’s. Let what the world calls “tolerance” belong to the world, and let those who follow God be separated from it.

It’s Not Where It Is That Matters: It’s What It Says

How many people do you know that can quote chapter and verse from the Bible? In fact, can’t we all? Isn’t one of the basic training exercises for Bible study to remember a favorite quote or story, and where to find it?

If you read this blog regularly (and thank you, if you do!) you know that I rarely tell you where something is. That’s not because I don’t know, its because I believe two things:

1. Everyone needs to read the Bible, but the way it is taught is to tell you where the quote is from. Now why bother reading it, right? Telling you where to find it almost prevents you from looking for it, which keeps you away from the Bible. Making you look for it brings you closer to the Bible, and what God has for you in there won’t be found by someone else telling you what it says; and

2. It doesn’t matter where it says something in the Bible- what matters is that you know what God wants you to know.

Have you ever had a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness? If you want to talk to someone who knows where nearly every word of the Bible can be found, that’s the person you want to go to. Unfortunately, the ones I have talked to (even before I knew God) have little or no understanding of what they are quoting. If you ask them about it, they will tell you another quote. If you question them, they will tell you another quote. But they don’t understand the meaning.

I don’t want to insult any JW’s out there, but this is my experience, as well as the experience of other people, knowledgeable of the Bible, who I have talked to about this.

The blood of bulls and sheep is not what God wants. He doesn’t want the circumcision of the flesh without the circumcision of the heart. Yeshua did not teach anything new; in fact, as you have read and heard me say many times, there is nothing new in the New Covenant writings. Yeshua interpreted the Word correctly, which is why it was so powerful. He didn’t tell us where God’s messages and commandments were found, He told us what they really mean. He went beyond just repeating what God says, and transformed our understanding.

Yeshua showed us that performance of God’s commandments is necessary, but living them is what we should be doing. In other words, don’t just repeat what is in the Bible but live it.

That’s all I want to say. I know I usually ramble on a little more, but what else is there, really, to say?

Live the Word of God. The Word became flesh so we can know God better, and so we can be with God in the Olam Haba (World to Come.) God has something in His Word just for you, but if you don’t look for it you will never find it. Seek, and you shall find, and what you find will change your life and the life of others.

You can make a change in people’s lives, as well as your own, but not by sitting still and listening- you need to get off your tuchas and DO something! Reading the Bible is an easy way to start, and the best way.

So go read something now!

The Meaning of Life

Ah, yes…the quintessential question, the ultimate knowledge, what philosophers throughout time have sought to know.

And I am going to give it to you now…ready?

The meaning of life is….to prepare for death. That’s it. Nada mas. Nichts mehr. Yener iz gants!

God originally made us to worship Him and, more than just that, to be with Him. We have children for many reasons, but mostly they are a natural result of being in love. Be in love; make love; have kids. You don’t need to be a genius to figure that one out.

God had children, but since He is above humanity and is a Spirit, He didn’t need anyone else to help. Adam and Eve were His children, as we all are, and just as we want the best for our children, we want them protected from harm and to be with us forever, God was able to have that.

Until Adam and Eve screwed it up.

After the Fall we all lost our immortality, and the mortality rate got shorter and shorter. A few generations after the Flood it was down from hundreds of years to about 100. Today we are at about the same as it was in Moshe’s time; we get to live up to somewhere in the eighties. A nice number, if you’re talking about the weather, but not where we started.

Since eternity is no longer available to us during our “first” lifetime, we have to use the first lifetime to prepare for where we spend the second lifetime. That’s why I say the meaning of life is to decide where we will spend our second life, for all eternity.

Yeshua is the Messiah, and through Him we can repair the rift between us and God that the Fall began, and the rest of history has widened. There are many religions, none from God (remember that God has no religion- only His laws and regulations) so we need to spend our lifetime now figuring out what we will believe, who is the Messiah, and will we do as God wants or as the world wants.

In other words, whose slave will you be: slave to sin or slave to God? That’s the choice you have your entire lifetime, however long or short it may be, to determine.

Once we are in front of His throne, there is no going back. And there is no appeal process, either.

The real question isn’t, “What is the meaning of life?”; it’s, “How long will I live?” That will let you know when you need to make that important decision. Since none of us know when we will die, don’t you think you should make that decision as soon as possible?

There you have it, Brothers and Sisters: the meaning of life. Now that you know the answer, if you are reading this and you haven’t made your choice between the world and God, unless you know exactly when you are going to die, better get with the program and choose.

Who knows how much time you have left to decide?

To Do Things Right, It Must Be From God

Real simple: nothing of this world is righteous. The world is a cursed place, and therefor all that is of the world is born cursed.

We are a cursed species, and therefor what we create, perform and desire is from a cursed and sinful mentality.

Ouch! Have some more coffee, Steve, or maybe have less! What a way to start the morning.

Well, it is a rather stark and unhappy realization, but it is true. The Bible tells us the world was cursed, the Enemy was not thrown into Sheol but thrown down to the Earth, and we are told he is the Prince of the Air.

If the world is cursed, we are cursed, and the Enemy rules on Earth, what hope is there for us to do anything right?

My hope is in the Lord, He is my light and my salvation. David knew that some 2,800 years ago. And he was right, of course.

If we want to do something that is holy and righteous, we need it to stem not from us but from God. That comes from the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, that indwells us when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah and ask for God’s forgiveness through Yeshua.

I believe that God will forgive anyone who asks with a broken spirit and contrite heart, even if they are not a confirmed “Believer”. Why? Because that’s how God rolls- He loves all His children, and we are all His children, so He is willing to forgive. He tells us so in so many ways throughout the Tanakh.

But to receive the Holy Spirit we need to do more than be repentant- we need to do T’Shuvah (turn from sin) and accept the gift of Grace that is Yeshua Ha Mashiach. Then we can receive the Ruach and with the spirit of God inside us, we are able to overcome the cursed world, and our own sinful nature. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. Greater is that which is in me that that which is in the world.

I offer this simple thought this morning, which I also believe to be a simple truth: nothing that is from the world (flesh) is of God, and anything of God overcomes everything that is of the world.

The downside is when you do what is right in God’s eyes, the world rejects and hates you. Here’s the $64,000 question: who are you going to please? The world, which offers some immediate pleasures that result in separation from God and eternal suffering, or God, who offers peace, forgiveness and eternity in Paradise?

Ooh, that’s a tough one…how much time to I get to decide? You get until your last breath; do you know when that will be?

As you go forth today think of what I am saying, and see the world for what it is. It is God’s creation, it is beautiful and wondrous, and it is our home. It was created perfectly for us to live in, and we were given dominion over it.

And that’s where it got screwed up. When mankind was made manager the whole business went down the toilet.

Luckily, God is as good a plumber as anything else, and he provided the ultimate Rotor Rooter man- Yeshua. Yeshua went into the toilet, lived in it, overcame it, and emerged smelling like a rose. And He is standing there, plunger in hand, waiting for everyone else to grab hold and get pulled out.

After I die I will be pulled out of the toilet, not flushed down with what is all around me. And I will spend eternity with God and Yeshua.

You have a choice- get flushed down the toilet or call Rooter Rooter.

The Ultimate Anger Management Tool: Prayer

There are a number of things that just can’t be done in this life:

1. You can’t scratch your ear with your elbow;

2. You can’t make a leopard change its spots;

3. You can’t make the person ahead of you in line go faster; and

4. You can’t stay angry with someone when you pray for them.

I have a few people in my life that have not only worked hard to earn my anger, but no matter how many times I have tried to overcome their nastiness and bad manners, they always prove their extraordinary talent for obstinacy and spitefulness is more powerful than my meager attempts to ignore them.

That’s when I pray for them. Not always, mind you- I ain’t no saint; not by a long shot. But there are times when I remember the title of this blog and pray for them.

When you pray for someone you need to “get in their shoes” so that your prayer is appropriately aimed at helping them overcome the very thing that gets you so mad at them.

I have a previous life, with two children and an “ex” that has constantly, and consistently, overcome all my attempts to ignore and diffuse her spite, anger and hatred, which she has instilled in my children against me and my family members. I pray for the kids every day, waiting patiently and prayerfully for their reconciliation with me and their turning to God, in whichever order He thinks is best. And sometimes, I am happy to say, I remember to pray for her. Since the day we separated she refused to let us buy things for them and do things for them, insisting she get the money instead of the children getting the clothes , furniture, or whatever we wanted them to have. Over the years she had proven that giving her money is the same as throwing it away, so in the end, the kids have lost out. The worst part is that the kids think everything she has told them is true, and they actually are just as brainwashed as if they had been growing up in a cult. Someone that mean, that hateful, and so hurt that she will eat her own children in order to hurt me is so desperately in need of the love of God that I cannot possibly refuse to pray for her.

And during those 20 plus years of trying to overcome her, the courts were useless (the mother always wins unless she is a drug addict or something like that.) Now the kids are long past majority, and I am helpless. All I have left is prayer. I haven’t even talked to them for a few years now.

All of this kvetching is not to vent or ask for pity, but to give you an idea of the background, so that when I say I have plenty of ammunition for hating and being angry with someone, you can understand just how powerful prayer is, because when I pray for her and for them all I can feel is pity. The anger is gone, and a genuine desire for them to find forgiveness and peace, as I have, is paramount in my heart and spirit.

When I have one of those conversations (you know, the kind where you tell the person what you have always wanted to say and they listen attentively, because it’s all in your mind) and feel myself getting a little worked up, I can now (thanks to the Ruach inside me) stop because I realize what I should be doing is not “getting it off my chest” (which, by the way, never works- you don’t put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it) but placing it before God and asking His intervention. Not for retribution, or even the justice that is deserved, but for help. And not for me, but for her.

For this to work you have to really mean the prayer, and the way I do that is to recall what I have that she doesn’t. I have the Lord; I have Yeshua as my intercessor, and I have salvation with a guaranteed seat at the table. I have everything that is important in death (that’s not a typo- what is important in life is to make sure you know where you go when life is over. Life is short, death is forever, so I want what is important in death more than what is important in life. Don’t you?) and all she has is her hatred and anger. And that is useless to her; it brings no warmth, no love, and no satisfaction since she can’t hurt me anymore. She has used up all her cards, laid them out on the table, and the other players are already gone.

She has nothing. Even though she has the children, what she has taught them is to be self-centered and unappreciative of anything and everyone. She has not shown them how to be useful members of a relationship, how to love properly, how to be independant and self-assured. She has only taught them the way to grow old and alone, with no friends and no God. If they should ever come to their senses, she may lose them, leaving her absolutely nothing. I have already lost them, and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone. Not even her.

How can anyone be angry with someone so pitiful? And when I pray for her, and for my kids, I can feel the pain she feels. I can realize how hurt she is. I even feel (sometimes) useless and ashamed that I didn’t make more attempts than I did (and believe me, I made a lot of them) to apologize and help more. All I did is not relevant here, so please understand that I did a lot, travelled a lot, spent extra time and money trying to help them and be as close as one can be when two states away.

It is prayer that has helped me, too, to be less angry and vengeful. I know that God is a loving Father and a merciful Judge, but He is, when all is said and done, God. He will judge mercifully but fairly, and those that have come up short and rejected Him will get the short end of the stick and be, themselves, rejected by Him. Without a significant change in their lives, my ex and my children, blind leading the blind, will all fall into the pit and spend eternity in Sheol. I am not happy with that thought…not happy at all.

So I pray. I pray everyday for my children, and I pray now and then for her. As I said, I’m not a saint and do not pray for her as earnestly as I pray for my children. After all, it is anger management, not anger removal. I think it takes more than just prayer to remove the anger totally; prayer is just one of the tools God gives us to do that. There are still things, even from decades ago, that get under my skin, to to speak, and I try to release it all to the Lord, but I seem to have sticky fingers.

Maybe one day I will be cleansed enough by the Living Water, Yeshua Ha Mashiach, so that my fingers will no longer be sticky.

Are you still angry about something? Are you still feeling a need for justice and yes, wanting revenge? Or maybe just to see someone get their “comeuppance?” If you want to get over it, pray for them. Pray earnestly, pray as you know Yeshua would pray for them (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”), and if you are having a hard time with that, think about this: you get to be in Paradise forever, and they will be in eternal suffering with no chance for parole. Think about how close you came to their fate, how much better your position than theirs, and much more love you have in your life because you have the Lord, Yeshua and the Ruach HaKodesh. Think about all that you have and all that they don’t, and if you don’t feel pity and remorse for them, well, you should question your own salvation!

I don’t want to believe that anyone who knows the love of God, the suffering of Messiah and the forgiveness we have received could possibly want to deny that to anyone. No matter what they did.

Anger is not a sin, and Shaul tells us that we should not sin in our anger. Be angry if you are mistreated, misjudged, hurt and humiliated. It’s natural to be angry, just don’t sin in your anger. If you want to get rid of it, pray for the person who did it to you. Anger and vengeance are a wormwood that will eat you up from the inside out, so let God have it.

Proverbs says to not return evil for evil, but wait upon the Lord. It’s good advice. Pray for those that have hurt you and made you angry and you will see that it really is the ultimate anger management tool.

 

Why We Don’t Know How to Love

“Huh?  Why do you say we don’t know how to love, Steve? I love my spouse, I love my kids (most of the time), and I love and have loved many other people in my life. And, of course, I love the Lord!”

Good for you. But look at all the other people in the world that don’t know how to love. The terrorists can’t possibly love with all that hatred in their hearts. Oh, they may like, they may lust, they may even really adore, but I don’t believe they can possibly love, not like we learn from God, when they do such horrible things.

Read the Dear Abby, the Ask Amy, or whomever is the advice columnist in your local paper. I can’t count how many times I have read something along these lines:

I have been with this person for x years and s/he is hateful and cruel. I am yelled at for not doing anything, then yelled at for doing something wrong, even when it is exactly as they told me. I am scared of being hurt, he has had three affairs and drinks too much. She spends our money and I have seen her name on multiple dating sites. There are emails with co-workers that are sexually explicit. But they’re really a wonderful person and I love him/her. What do I do?

You are with someone who cheats, is brutish, scares you, is having affairs, keeps secrets, wastes your money and drinks too much, but you think they’re wonderful, love them and just don’t know what to do? OY!!

Look- love does not conquer all. To be in any relationship where you are considered second class and mistreated is not only a sin the other person commits against you, but is also a sin you commit against yourself! I am not saying to ditch your main squeeze at the first sign of trouble, and we are married for better or worse, but that doesn’t include debasement, infidelity, and abusiveness. These things need to be handled. Even Yeshua, who stood up for the sanctity and holiness of marriage, said that infidelity is a reason for divorce. And Shaul told us that if we are in a relationship that is unevenly yoked the Believer is allowed to leave, but only if the non-Believer wants that. He goes on further to say that they should stay together because the one may be saved by the other, but not if your safety is threatened.

This confusion about relationships, which is so prevalent it sends the love columnist’s kids through college, is rampant because reading the Bible is a rarity. God tells us how to treat each other, and through the writings of the Prophets and some of the Epistles of Shaul, we can see clearly how God loves us and how we should, thereby, love each other.

God’s love is unconditional, but not enabling. He will punish us when we are wrong and He will allow us to choose our own fate. He will protect and nourish us when we are faithful, and when we reject Him He will allow us to be on our own. But He still loves us and is always willing, and hopeful, that we will repent of our sins and turn back to Him.

The Torah shows us how God’s love is unconditional, but His blessings and presence are. We must obey and remain obedient in order to have His constant protection and blessing. Reading the book of Judges, as well as the writings of the Prophets, Kings and Chronicles shows us how God has constantly shown His love, yet allowed us to wander, to prostitute ourselves with other gods (have an affair), mistreat and berate Him (by rejecting His laws) and be abusive (taking His name in vain, choosing to work on His holy days, even watching football religiously but never attending services or reading His word.)

God loves us and wants to be with us, always. He wants us to bask in His glory and be joyful. He also provides everything we need for this to happen. Then He has to watch us throw it all in the garbage, curse Him, ignore Him, reject and even forget about Him, totally. There are many who don’t even believe He exists. Yet, He still loves us.

However, He isn’t writing to Dear Abby saying, “I have created them, I gave them the Earth and everything in it, which I created for them, and I have nurtured, protected and kept them alive for millennia, yet they don’t care a whit about me! All they want to do is what they want to do- I tell them how to be happy and they choose not to; I tell them how to treat others and they spit in my face; I tell them to keep away from the Enemy because he will lead them to ruin and they laugh at me and follow him gladly. I love them and show them my love, yet they have affairs with other gods, like money, professional sports, career activities, and they prostitute themselves with gluttony and avarice and fornication. I just don’t know what to do, Abby.”

What do you think she would say? I’ll bet that getting professional help will be in there, somewhere.

Here’s what I’d like to see them say: “READ THE BIBLE, YOU DUMMY!! Get to know what love is and what love is supposed to be, and then go find it. You can’t be loved until you learn how to love, so read about God and learn how to love so you won’t be saddled with some schmo like the one you have.”

We need to do everything we can to save our marriage, to work with our steady love interest, and to make the relationships in our life worthy of God’s blessing. But it takes two to tango, and if you are the one doing all the work, and the other side is just not caring at all about you, your feelings or you needs, you are not in a healthy, Godly relationship. If the other side is not willing to change or even try, you need to realize that, just as God allowed His loved people to wander off and nearly destroy themselves in order to come to their senses, you need to allow your other half to do the same. You need to talk, offer compromise, go to counseling, and try hard. If this is something the other side says he or she is willing to do, then be patient, show the truest form of loving in that you will abide by that person and help them, even if they are being somewhat cruel to you, and forgive them as long as they really want to change and ask for it.

If none of that is happening, though; if the other person is unwilling to try, unwilling to listen or care about you, and unwilling to love you as you should be loved, then let them do what they want to do, but let them do it on their own. The books I mention above show that God, despite His love for us, despite His unbelievable level of compassion and forgiveness, and despite His willingness to overlook our past and our many sins against Him, still underwent a series of “trial separations” from His people. He left His bride alone, naked and wallowing in her own vomit, exposed and ravaged by her enemies until she realized her wrongdoings and asked for forgiveness, promising to do as she should.

Then He gladly and joyfully accepted her back. Now that’s what love is.

In our relationship with God, we must be faithfully obedient, and in our relationship with each other, we must be loving, compassionate, forgiving and treat each other as we would want to be treated.

If you aren’t getting that in your relationship today, forget Dear Abby or Ask Amy and go to the Bible. See what God says, and bring that book to your other half. Follow what God does, what Shaul tells us love should be, and stand up for yourself.

I am not saying to call a divorce lawyer. I am saying we should all know what love is, as God tells us and not what people say. People are stupid, self-centered and sinful. People are obstinate, stiff-necked and selfish. People are always trying to get something for themselves, people are…well, they’re people!

As someone once told me: Humanity is a wonderful thing- it’s the people that ruin it.

Learn about how to love from the one who created it, who set the standards, and who is a constant source of renewal and strength: Adonai.

If you are looking for love and not finding it in your life or your relationship, stop looking around and start looking up. God is always there to show you how He loves you, and to give you the love you want. Once you have that, then you can go find it in the world because you will know what to look for.

The Torah is All We Need: Everything Else is Commentary

When Yeshua was asked what is the most important commandment of all, His answer was simple- Love the Lord and love each other; on these two commandments pivot all the writings and the Prophets.

Notice He didn’t say , “…and all the other stuff that will be added later.”

The Christian world has historically tried to get away from Torah. They have taught (what I should say is: mis-taught) that the Torah is done away with because Yeshua lived it perfectly. Oh, yeah- that makes sense: once something is done right we never have to do it that way again? Duh!!

The Torah is everything we need to know, and all the commandments we are to follow if we want to obey God the way He said we should. Like it or not, that’s the truth. Yeshua/Jesus had to die for our sins, which were the sins outlined and defined in the Torah. There was no other Bible then.

The fact that our sins are paid for is not license to continue sinning, and not doing what God told us to do in the Torah is still a sin. We still need to be forgiven, and if we don’t really want to stop and we don’t really care about what God said to do (as Christianity often teaches) then we are sinners that the blood of Messiah won’t clean.

That’s right- the Grace of God can cover any sin, but it will not cover a sin that is done over and over because the sinner doesn’t care about what God says.

Our human legal system is all screwed up when you consider that a criminal, one who acts outside the legal system and doesn’t care about what the laws are, often has more protection under those laws than the victim. We protect the guilty with the very laws the guilty reject.

Not so with God. His laws are for everyone, and when we reject His laws we are rejecting Him. He loves us and wants us to live, but He is also our Judge, Jury and Executioner so if we choose to ignore and reject His laws (thereby rejecting Him), those laws will not protect us. Reject God and you will be rejected- the Bible is clear on that point.

The Torah tells us 2 things: how to worship God and how to treat each other. Torah is just the first 5 books- the ones that Moshe wrote in accordance with what God told him to write- and all the books that come after the Torah are commentary. They show us how the Torah was used, and misused, by the people throughout the centuries. When the people did T’Shuvah and cried out to God, and meant it,  He provided them with a judge or a king that could protect them from their enemies. When they were sitting pretty, they went back to ignoring and rejecting God.

It is a cycle of rejection, suffering, coming to their senses and repenting, salvation, happiness, boredom, rejection, suffering, ….over and over. And here’s the kicker: after all the mistakes the Jewish people made between 1500 BCE and the time of Yeshua, since then the Christian world has not only made all the same mistakes, but they have brought it to a much higher level of rejection by making Yeshua their God and “the Father’ nothing more than a secondary thought. And teaching that the Torah, the very word of God and the Word that became the Flesh we know as Jesus, was done away with.

Consider this: if Jesus is the Word become flesh, and He said to do away with the Word, then isn’t He saying to ignore Him? Isn’t that a form of spiritual suicide? Does that make sense at all?

If the Torah was all Yeshua needed to teach about the Kingdom of God and the only set of laws and commandments He needed to follow to be an acceptable sacrifice, why do we need anything else? The New Covenant writings are comprised of the Gospels and the Epistles. The Gospels are historical in nature and the Epistles are clearly informative, outlining the details of how to live and treat each other and the proper way in which to worship God. If you read and interpret them carefully you will see that there is nothing “new” in the New Covenant writings- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Saul- they all wrote to the new Believers, a combination of Jewish people and pagans who were converting to Judaism, about how to live in accordance with the Torah.

Romans is a very misunderstood book. Shaul writes in it about the Torah and how it is to be reconciled with Yeshua’s teachings. The problem is that Shaul can’t say something straight out- too much education. He beats around the bush and talks in ways that are convoluted to the biblically uneducated. The result is that Romans has been historically quoted as a polemic against the Torah when it is, in fact, an apologetic. Shaul is talking in reverse- arguing about what he is trying to point out as wrong, and making a short, almost invisible statement at the end of a long argument that says, essentially, “NOT!” Read it, slowly and carefully, and you will see what I mean. In nearly every chapter he talks about how Yeshua overcame sin and how the Torah is fading away and how we are forgiven, and ends up with asking if that means the Torah is no longer valid, then says “God forbid!”

The Torah is God’s word. Moshe wrote down what God told Him to write down, which is all we need to know in order to properly worship God. That’s it. Das ist alles! Der ain’t no mo!!

Everything after the book of Deuteronomy is for us to read and understand as commentary, as “I have told you what you need to know and all the rest is to show you how lousy a job you have done with it.”  Love God and love each other: the Son of God told us that is all we need to do. If we do that, the rest falls into place all on it’s own.

BUT…you still need to read and know the entire Bible so we can learn from the mistakes of others, and that way we won’t make the same mistakes (yeah- like that’s going to happen! Good luck with that!)

At the end of Deuteronomy we are commanded not to add to or take away from anything in the book. The Torah is one book, with 5 separate sections. Even though we call them “books”, in the Torah the separation between chapters is almost invisible, and the separation between books is little more than extra space between the lines of writing. It is, when you look at it, a complete, harmonious, and homogenous writing. It is the singular and definitive methodology for worshipping God and for treating each other. It is, as I like to say, the ultimate Users Manual.

It is what God commands anyone and everyone who professes to worship Him how to worship Him and how to treat each other. It tells us we do not need anything else, and commands us to not require anything else. The Torah is complete: we need do no more than what is there, and no less than what it says.

In the end, we all need Yeshua’s sacrifice to atone for us because the one thing I think everyone will agree on is this: we are sinners.  We sin, we have sinned, we can’t stop sinning, and we will continue to do so. Individually and collectively. Yeshua died to give us a chance to escape the fate we all deserve and have earned for ourselves. The Grace of God is shown in His compassion and mercy, which is embodied by Messiah Yeshua. Those of us who have accepted (first) our own sinfulness and inability to stop committing sin, which has led us (next) to repentance and accepting the Grace of God through the sacrificial death of Yeshua, who we (finally) accept as the Messiah God promised, are saved from the judgement Torah requires.

That doesn’t mean the Torah is dead or meaningless. Being saved from our sins doesn’t give us license to continue sinning, and a sin is, by definition, doing something God says we shouldn’t do. It’s really quite simple: God says, “Do as I say because that is as I do. Be thou holy because I am holy.” He provided Yeshua because we can’t do as He says and we will never be as holy as He is.

God is the designer of the game; The Torah are the rules of the game.; Yeshua is our Get Out of Jail Free card.

Decide if you are going to play by the rules or not, and don’t let anyone else tell you what the rules are. Read them for yourself.

Don’t Ask To Be Forgiven If You Are Planning On Doing It Again

I was praying yesterday and, as usual, asked for forgiveness for sins I have committed. I like to first ask to be forgiven my sins, then I raise up those I love to be forgiven for what they do, especially Alex and Bryce, my children who have rejected me and don’t even know the Lord. I do it in this order because in the Torah the Cohen HaGadol (Head Priest) had to be cleansed first before he could act as intercessor for the people, so I ask to be cleansed before I intercede for those I pray for.

That’s when it hit me…I had done something that morning that is, by technical standards, a sinful act. It is not terrible; it’s one of those “minor” sins (if you will be kind enough to accept that term, even though we all know any sin is a sin) that I find myself doing on occasion because, well, I like it. As I was going to ask for forgiveness, the realization that I intend to do this again made me feel that I was wrong to ask God to forgive me.  To ask forgiveness for something that I do not want to stop doing, something for which I have not done T’Shuvah, seems wrong to me. It is like throwing the fleece before God. I mean, really…forgive me for this but I am going to do it again, so forgive me then, too. Is that right? Is it fair to ask God to forgive me for purposefully rejecting His instructions, especially when I fully intend to do it again?

I decided I was wrong on two counts- wrong for doing something that is not Godly and correct in His eyes, and even more wrong for asking Him to forgive me when I don’t intend to stop doing it.

I know, I know… now you all think I am less than what you hoped for. I have sinned, I sin and I will continue to sin (I sound like Caesar saying, “Veni, vidi, vici”) and that is why I think it is wrong of me to ask God to forgive me for this thing. I’m not perfect. I am getting better, but still, I am not perfect. I’m not bragging about it, and I am not beating myself up over it. I would like to be able to overcome this one little thing, but I haven’t, and that’s probably because I don’t want to stop.

After I felt that I shouldn’t ask forgiveness, I asked God to show me a sign (I was on a roll for doing wrong, wasn’t I?) The sign I asked for was to demonstrate His forgiveness by taking away all desire to do the thing I won’t ask forgiveness for. In other words, I feel unjustified to ask forgiveness for doing something I know I will purposefully do again, so I asked Him to show His forgiveness by taking away the desire to do this. Don’t just forgive me, but change me so I won’t need to ask forgiveness for this again. Rewire my brain to no longer be satisfied by this act, to no longer feel the need for the “worldly” satisfaction derived from this act.

Here’s the difference: I will ask for forgiveness for doing things I shouldn’t do and that I don’t want to do; for instance, using bad language, having mean thoughts, for being the sarcastic, cynical and attitudinal New Yorker I am at heart.  I won’t ask forgiveness for doing the things I shouldn’t do that I still want to do. Why? Because if I still want to do them I haven’t turned, I haven’t given them up, I haven’t chosen God’s way over my way. I don’t feel right in asking for forgiveness for doing something which I choose to not stop doing. It’s not fair to God, and I feel like it is stomping the blood of Messiah into the dirt. He suffered and died so that I can be forgiven, and if I ask for His blood covering for something that I choose to keep on doing, well, to me that would be more of a sin than the thing I actually am doing.

What do you think? If we choose, willingly and willfully, to perform an act which we know is sinful, whether it be eating ham, cursing out the neighbor, or as terrible as having an affair, and we know we will continue to do that, are we justified in asking for forgiveness? More than that, if we choose to continue to do it, will we be forgiven if we ask for it? Will God forgive something that we are NOT sincerely sorry about?

Yeshua said that if your brother asks to be forgiven, you should forgive him, not 7 times but 70 times 7 times. However, I have always thought the underlying assumption is that the brother asking for forgiveness is sorry for the sin he committed. If he isn’t sorry, if he isn’t truly doing T’Shuvah, then should/will he be forgiven?

There’s the parable that follows this about the servant who was forgiven a debt and refused to forgive the debt owed to him. For his unforgiveness his own debt was recalled against him. My interpretation of this parable is that the servant was sinfully selfish, in that (1) he borrowed a large sum he couldn’t pay back and (2) did not forgive a small debt that was owed to him. He did not do T’Shuvah from his sin, as demonstrated by his actions. And, not being repentant, his sin was laid back upon him. He wasn’t forgiven because he didn’t want to repent of his sin.

I will not ask forgiveness for things that I know I shouldn’t be doing but choose to continue to do, whatever they are. I will, however, ask God to help me do T’Shuvah, to give faith to my faithlessness, to strengthen me through the Ruach to not just overcome sin, but to hate it to the point where sinning is painful to me. Any sin. And if I ever reach that point, then and only then can I justly ask for forgiveness for a sin I keep committing.

I like to say that before I was saved I was a sinner who rationalized my sins, and now I am a sinner who regrets my sins. To all of you, and before God, here and now I confess: there are some sins I still choose to do.

The bottom line is we will be forgiven anything, over and over, when we are truly repentant, when we come before God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart, and when we choose to stop doing what it is we are doing. When I reach the point that Shaul reached, confessing he was a wretch because he did the things he didn’t want to do, and did not do the things he wanted to do, then and only then will I be able to ask forgiveness for anything and everything I do wrong.

I have a rather long and arduous journey ahead of me. What about you?