The Spirit of Bilyam in the Modern Body of Messiah

In the book of B’midbar (Numbers), Chapter 22 tells us the story of how Balak, the son of the king of Moab, hired a man named Bilyam (Balaam is how most Christian Bibles spell it) to curse the Israelites, who have just defeated the Emori and now are on the border of his land.

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I think we all know the story: Balak sends messengers to summon Bilyam to curse the Israelites, God tells Bilyam not to go but he ends up going. An angel is sent to stop Bilyam but his ass continues to sidestep the angel until Bilyam gets so angry he beats the ass. That’s when the ass speaks to him and Bilyam sees the angel with drawn sword. God tells Bilyam to continue to go but say only what he is told to say, and Bilyam ends up blessing the people instead of cursing them.

Balak then sends Bilyam back to his own country and right after Bilyam leaves (Numbers 25) the people of God commit the sin of Ba’al-Peor. They were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to partake in their paganistic rituals and worship of the Moabite gods, which resulted in God’s anger being poured out on the Israelites in the form of a plague which took 24,000 lives.

Now, do you recall that even though Balak was infuriated with Bilyam, Bilyam gave Balak advice on how to get God to destroy his own people? No? Well, we are told about it in Numbers 31:16; that is when we find out the sin of Ba’al-Peor was the brainchild of Bilyam!

The Israelites had just defeated Midian and saved the women as spoils of war. Moses is infuriated with the leaders, saying (JPS Tanakh):

Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Bilyam, to revolt so as to break faith with the LORD in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.

Aha!! So, even though Bilyamblessed the people, he reverted back to his sorcerer ways and told Balak how he could get the people to make their own God curse them.

That brings me to today’s topic. The same thing that Bilyamdid which resulted in the people of God sinning, which forced God to punish them, is alive and well in the body of Messiah, today!

Anything that is done against the people of God we know originates with Satan, the enemy of God, and what Satan has done is cause dissent, arguing, pridefulness and personal attacks against each other to promulgate itself throughout the congregation of Believers in Messiah, causing them to sin. This sin that Satan introduces within the body of the Messiah weakens the entire body and will cause, just as the advice of Bilam did, God to take action against his own people.

So, nu? How has Satan done this terrible thing? He has introduced the idea that we need to know exactly how to pronounce God’s name and the idea of the Trinity. And just as the people sinned against God when the Moabite women seduced them into worshiping their gods, so, too, people within the congregations who argue and fight against each other about God’s name or whether or not Yeshua and God are the same or different cause God’s people to sin against God.

Please forgive this next statement, but I am sorry to say, these arguments never were an issue before Gentiles were grafted in. Jews have been substituting Adonai, HaShem, Elohim, and other names for God instead of pronouncing the Tetragrammaton for millennia, and God never once had a problem with that. Also, Jews knew of God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) since Day 1, but never ever thought it was the same exact entity as God, himself. And the Messiah was never, in the Jewish mindset, to be God.

This type of seduction into argumentation as a means of separating God’s people is not new: as far back as the early congregations formed by Shaul, he was warning his Gentile Believer congregations against arguing with each other. Here are a few examples:

2 Timothy 2:14Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

Philippians 2:14-15Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” 

Titus 3:2They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

1 Corinthians 3:3…That’s because you are still worldly. As long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, you are worldly and living by human standards, aren’t you?

Besides these warnings, we should also remember all of the warnings in the Book of Proverbs against useless arguing.

I have seen, as you have, so many times when people who are supposed to be Christian or Messianic argue about things that really have nothing at all to do with salvation or knowing God’s desires for us. They start off defending their position, then when the other person refuses to agree, they begin to argue, reverting to name-calling, judging the other person as unfit for God’s kingdom or heretical, calling them spiritually immature or a non-Believer, and eventually reverting to childish, insulting and degrading personal attacks.

These are sins against God. Every sin we commit is first and foremost a sin against God. King David knew this and said so in Psalm 51.

I am not exclusively blaming Gentile Believers for this problem, even though I do believe it started with Gentiles at the end of the first century thinking they can just change all of God’s rules. Today, I see this dissension from all Believers, whether Christian, Hebraic Roots, Messianic, or what-have-you. It is not righteousness that is behind this, but the spirit of Bilam infiltrating the body of Messiah.

The answer to this problem is actually not very complicated: focus on what saves, maintain a position of humility, don’t allow pridefulness to overcome you to the point where you find yourself insulting someone, and never, ever, ever let yourself be drawn into an argument when you can plainly see that the other person is not going to change their mind.

What I do is to state my case and if the other person is not open to even hearing it, which I know immediately because they don’t address my points but just repeat their side, then I simply tell them we must agree to disagree, and let God judge between us.

If that doesn’t stop them I will stop replying. And in most cases, since they really only want to hear themselves talk, my not being there doesn’t stop them. Eventually, I have to block them.

I do have discussions with people where we are at opposite ends of a topic, but we can discuss it without insults or arguments. These few and far between events are refreshing and renew my hope that we can allow God’s spirit to rule over our own sinful pride when dealing with each other.

Listen to someone as compassionately as you want them to talk to you and when you are in a discussion, always focus on what edifies. Insults, arguing for the sake of arguing, and personal attacks are prideful, unnecessary, and a sin. Follow the example of the archangel Michael (Jude 1:9) who was arguing with Satan but instead of condemning him said, “The Lord rebuke you!

God’s people should be an example of how God tells us to treat each other, and if you can’t be a good example, then at least don’t be a bad one.

Thank you for being here. Don’t forget to subscribe and share this message with others. I welcome comments, even if you have a different opinion, as long as we can discuss things in a godly way.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Something I Have Learned

Before I even start, let me say that this is what I have learned for myself- it may not be right for you. If, after reading this, you disagree with what I am saying because you feel differently, that’s OK. I am not telling anyone what they should do or how they should feel, I am simply sharing what is right for me and if it seems right for you, that’s great.

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Let me give you a little background: I have had a lot of experience in the Financial world, from retail banking to processing securities to insurance and even to estate planning. When I was selling Revocable Living Trusts, I used to tell this to my customers after they had purchased a trust as a way to prepare them for when their children tell them they have to cancel it. I would say:

…when your children were very young, they thought that you both knew everything about everything; when they became teenagers, they thought they knew everything about everything, and now that they are adults and you are senior citizens they think you don’t know anything about anything. But you do know what you are doing, and you have just made a good decision based on knowledge of what you have purchased, so hold fast to your decision.

This is what we in the Sales world call the “Cool Down”- it is absolutely necessary after a sale, especially for a big ticket item. It helps people to avoid making a real mistake, which is to cancel the deal simply because someone who doesn’t have any idea of what they are talking about only saw the dollar signs.

What’s all this got to do with God, the Bible, Yeshua or salvation? It lays the foundation for my message today, which is that most of the times what we believe about God and the Messiah is based on what someone tells us. And because this is about our eternal soul and where it will be, we need to discern what is good information and what information doesn’t help us at all.

Too many times I see people asking questions that lead us to nowhere, such as these actual conversations I have seen in discussion groups:

Who really wrote one of the Psalms?
What tribe am I from?
How do we pronounce the Tetragrammaton?
Is tithing only for a farmer?
When does the Sabbath really begin?
Why are pigs unclean and cows are not?

and other such questions.

I ask you- will knowing the answer to any of these questions save you from death? Will knowing the answers make you more “saved” than someone who doesn’t know the answer? Is anyone saved by knowledge alone?

Here is what I have learned from my 20+ years as a Believer: faith is not caring why something is the way it is but just accepting that it is that way. Knowledge is a two-edged sword: it can help us to better understand God, but the pursuit of in-depth knowledge to prove why something is what we are told will lead us away from faithful acceptance because “proof” is the antithesis of faith.

Here are the answers I have for the questions posed above:

It doesn’t matter who wrote the psalms, they are still beautiful, and those that are Messianic prophecies are still valid.

No one can really know what tribe they are from, and it doesn’t matter because salvation is not based on heritage.

It doesn’t matter how to pronounce God’s Holy Name because we are saved by faith, not pronunciation. Besides, God knows who we are talking to when we pray.

Tithing is giving back to God, no matter what type of income you have.

The Sabbath begins on Friday night, and the moon phase in Israel doesn’t matter so long as on Friday evening you rest until Saturday evening.

Pigs are unclean and cows are not because God said they were…period.

I don’t care to know every single little detail about the Bible or to know Paleo-Hebrew or to be an expert in biblical exegesis. I only want to know what I need to know, and when other people start to tell me I should learn more, I respectfully say, “Thank you for your concern, but I know enough: I know who God is, I know who Yeshua is, and I know that my salvation is secured because of my faith in them and my obedience to their instructions.”

For the record, I am not always obedient, but that is an entirely different topic.

I am not saying we shouldn’t study the Bible- we must! We need to know God’s word and God’s instructions so that we can do as he tells us we should and also to be able to recognize the Enemy when he comes. These are important things to know!

Everything else is, to me, just fluff. It won’t make me any more “saved” than you, special knowledge won’t make me more important in heaven (this is part of what Gnosticism teaches), but what it will do (and I have seen this happen too often) is lead people into arguments that result in pridefulness, sinful attacks against brothers and sisters in the Lord, and confusion.

Read the Bible, stay away from extra-biblical works, unless they are specifically useful in helping to understand the Bible, such as commentaries or reference materials like the Interlinear Bible or Strong’s Concordance. And talk with people about salvation-related topics, but only those things that edify and teach people what they need to know.

How will we know which topics are useful and which are not? Only by discernment, and that comes from God. So when you pray, ask for discernment, for wisdom, and for patience when dealing with those who just have to know everything. I often see topics on Facebook that in my opinion are just ridiculous, so I ignore them. I also have seen people start conversations just to be able to argue with others- they don’t even care what is true or valid or important, they just want to argue.

Finally, let’s all remember what we are told in Proverbs 6: 16-19. The writer (and No!-I don’t care who wrote it) is saying there are 7 things that the Lord detests, and the last one (in 6:19) is this:

“…and him who sows strife among brothers.”

I don’t want to be someone the Lord detests because I have caused strife among my brothers and sisters.

I am open to discuss anything, but if the topic won’t help to save anyone or leads into an argument, I will simply state the answer doesn’t matter to me. God gave us each free will to decide what we will believe and what we will do, and we all will be held accountable for our decisions, no matter why we made them.

And that is my number one reason for basing my faith on the KISS rule.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share this message with others.

I am also running a campaign to send Bibles and Bible study materials to three Messianic synagogues in rural Uganda- please check out my Gofundme campaign at this address:

Help Ugandan Synagogues.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

 

 

Do Bible Verses Really Prove Anything?

Based on the title of today’s message, I promise not to give one verse or quote from the Bible.

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There are many, many people who believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God. Yet, how can that be if there are literally dozens of different versions of the Bible and under the law of copyright, each version has to have a significant difference from the other versions?

Also, we have interpretations of the original Hebrew and Greek into many different languages, and we all know that there is no such thing as an exact translation from one language to another due to cultural and linguistic differences between the many different people of the world.

So, in light of these facts, how can we even think that what we are reading in our Bible (whichever version it may be) is truly infallible?

The truth is…it can’t be! After all, the Bible is just a book. It is not God, himself. It tells us about God, it tells us what God wants us to know, it even tells us how to live our lives in the way that pleases God, but it is not God. It is not infallible, and it is not exactly what he said, even when it is supposed to be a quote.

Now that I have angered a number of you who are absolutely fixated on the Bible as being the absolute, infallible word of God, let’s raise the bar on your frustration.

When someone tries to prove a position, spiritual, ceremonial or social, that is based on what is written in the Bible, their argument may not trustworthy. And I am not talking about just those arguments that I don’t agree with. Why do I say this? Because the way people use Bible verses to support their position is too often an improper use of biblical exegesis.

As an example of what I mean, let’s take two of the most hotly argued issues regarding the Bible: the Trinity and Mosaic Law.

There are many people who argue that the Bible tells us, absolutely, that God, Messiah and the Holy Spirit are three-in-one, all the same entity but appearing in different forms. Then again, there are just as many people who say the Bible tells us, absolutely, that God, Messiah and the Holy Spirit are separate and unique entities, that there is only One God, one Messiah who is not God, and the Holy Spirit. Both sides have biblical evidence that supports their argument, and often the Bible verses they use as support for each side of these polar opposite beliefs are the same verses!

As far as the “Law”, meaning the commandments given to Moses on the mountain which are written in the Torah, still being required for those who have accepted Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) as their Savior, there is the one side quoting from the New Covenant to show the law was done away with when Yeshua was crucified, and there are those who use quotes from the New Covenant to show that those who accept Yeshua are still required to obey God’s Torah.

Now…before you start to comment on which position is correct, please stop right there and remember this message is NOT about the Trinity or the Law- it is about the fact that Bible quotes cannot be trusted as absolute proof of a position. The reason why I say this should now be obvious: because the same verses can be used to support either side they can’t really support any side.

The reason this can be is because there is so much in the Bible, so many different messages and ideas and statements, that if I want to prove whatever I choose to believe in, if I take enough time, look long enough, and pull enough words and statements out of context, I can make the Bible “say” pretty much anything I want it to say.

So, nu?  If this is true, then how can anyone learn anything from the Bible? How can we use the Bible to show what God wants us to know and how he wants us to behave? How can we trust anything anyone tells us about God?

We do so by interpreting the Bible correctly. We use proper biblical exegesis, which is a combination of Circles of Context and Hermeneutics.

Circles of Context is the system where we take the word within the sentence, the sentence within the paragraph, the paragraph within the book, and the book within the entire Bible. We make sure that when we are reading or quoting anything from the Bible that the interpretation considers who is writing it and to whom is it addressed. We have to consider what the topic is; for instance, Shaul (Paul) wrote to the different Messianic congregations he formed that were having problems. Each letter he wrote was specifically meant to deal with that congregation’s problems, and so each letter is unique to that audience. What he wrote to the Jews in Rome has to be interpreted and understood using Jewish culture, linguistic, and religious context. On the other hand, the letter to the Galatians was to a congregation of mostly Gentiles in the process of converting to Judaism. In that case, Shaul wrote using a form of Greek logic and terms from the Septuagint because the Gentiles there would not understand the nuances and cultural mores of a Jewish argument.

Once we have reviewed the biblical passage in its full context, we also need to ensure it is hermeneutically validated. Hermeneutics, simply stated, is the idea that everything we find in the Bible will be consistent with everything else in the Bible. As such, what is said to be a sin in Genesis will still be considered a sin in Revelation; what Shaul says is in the Torah in his letter to the Philippians will be consistent with what Moses tells us is in the Torah in Exodus.

Just as we are told that God is the same then, now and always, hermeneutics uses this same idea to validate what we read in the Bible- the meaning of the passage we read here must be the same everywhere else in the book. The true word of God does not contramand itself.

When we read the Bible, we need to always use these two exegetical practices. We must consider the cultural and linguistic usage of the words and events we read about that were used at the time they were written. We cannot use current or modern definitions of words or, for that matter, current social and moral values for what was done in ancient days. We must accept what we read in the Bible from the viewpoint, morally, culturally and linguistically, of the people that lived back then. If we really want to understand what we read in the Bible, we need to transplant ourselves into the culture and walk a mile in the shoes, or sandals as the case may be, of the people at that time.

Can we trust the Bible? Yes, we can. We can trust what is in the Bible when we use the proper tools I have given you today. And always, ask God to show you what he wants you to see. There is a legitimate argument that God may give a different message or meaning to you than he will to me, even when we read the same passage. So long as what we each believe that passage to mean is contextually accurate and hermeneutically validated, we can both be right. For instance, some prophecies have dual-meanings, and if you see the current meaning and I see the future meaning, we are both saying something different about the same thing, and we are both correct.

I know this is confusing and may make some of you feel uneasy and doubtful. That is good! Never accept what anyone says as correct, not even me- always verify it for yourself in the Bible using the proper tools of interpretation. And always, always, always ask God for guidance and understanding.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch Ha Shem!

There’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Disagree

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When I was a “suit” working on Wall Street back in the 80’s, and you said I should be a Salesman working strictly on commission, I would have told you that you were NUTS!! Yet, as the old saying goes: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans; my plans were turned around and by 1992 I was working as a commission-only salesman, doing the hardest of all types of sales- in the home from a telemarketing lead. And God helped me by placing good trainers in my path so that after about 2 years in that field I was one of the top two salesmen in the country selling siding, windows, and kitchen refacing.

You may wonder what this has to do with the title of today’s message, and I’ll be happy to tell you how:

Nowhere, in all of my experience throughout three different career paths, did I learn as much about human nature and how to get my ideas across successfully to others then when I learned how to sell.

Selling is the “Poor Man’s” career in Psychology. It isn’t so much manipulation of people as it is getting them to reject their own pre-conceived ideas and actually listen and absorb what you are saying to them. They still get to make up their own minds, but a good salesman will do three things:

  1. Make them realize that what they think they want is not what they need;
  2. Show them that what he has is really what they need;
  3. Allow them to come to their own conclusion that what he has is not just what they need, but what they want.

People don’t buy what they need but they do buy what they want, and when we take this from the commercial applications to the spiritual, we need to be able to “sell” the idea that what they need and want is Messiah and obedience to God which must come about through proper interpretation of God’s Word. .

Now we get into the real meat of today’s message- how do we get past that first step in which we are disagreeing with their pre-conceived ideas without making them kick us out the door? I can tell you this, absolutely…it isn’t by slapping them in the face with the truth.

I am a member of half a dozen different “Christian” or “Messianic” discussion groups, and too often I run into people with ideas totally opposite to my understanding. And no matter what their ideas are, or mine (for that matter), if we cannot discuss or argue in a respectful and proper manner, then we achieve nothing. 

The proper way to disagree with someone is not to tell them they are wrong, and never, never, NEVER attack them on a personal level.  You can’t win someone over by insulting them (remember that old saw about how you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?) I am not saying you should agree with them or say something like “You might be right” if you really believe they are wrong, but disagree with them and do it with respect for their right to choose what they want to believe.

God has given each of us Free Will to choose, and when people tell me (as I often have to deal with) that I am wrong and I have to change, they are (in my opinion) abrogating my God-given right to choose.

NOTE: did you catch that style of disagreeing? Starting off with “in my opinion”, or “for me”, or even “what I have been taught…” is a way to disagree and get your opinion out there which will allow them to listen without feeling the need to defend themselves. Thats’ becasue the focus is on you, not them.

I will try to respectfully disagree with people without attacking them, although I might attack what they have been taught. When I do this I make sure that first I have a biblical reference to justify my position. I state how proper biblical interpretation must account for historical and linguistic context, hermeneutics, etc. in justifying my position, but I will not come right out and tell them they are wrong.

Having said that, there are times when I will be very straightforward and say they are wrong, but not in a way that blames them for being wrong. I will say that what they have been taught is wrong- attacking what they have been told without attacking them. I will say that they have been taught is a form of traditional doctrine, that what they have been told is not in compliance with the Bible (showing them the Bible reference), or some other means of demonstrating that what they are saying is not accurate but not saying that THEY are inaccurate.

At some point, usually after two or three back-and-forth discussions, if I can see that they are not ever going to even consider what I am saying, I ask them if we can just agree to disagree and let God judge between us. If the other side is spiritually and emotionally mature, we will end friends. But, unfortunately, too many times pridefulness overrules spirituality and the other side just can’t let it go. They will continue to post their side, and from the frustration that comes from my not bending to their will, they stop talking about the Bible and begin to attack me, personally. They call me spiritually empty, unknowing, ignorant, demonically possessed (yes, there have been people who have accused me of that), and any number of nasty, virile attacks against me. That is why God invented BLOCKING on Facebook.

When the discussion turns from your ideas and beliefs being argued to you being insulted and berated, it is time to shake the dust off your sandals and move on. Let them have the last word, you be the humble one and accept that you can’t make someone change their mind if they don’t want to.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

People are the same way. And remember: there is very little good soil out there to begin with, and we are just here to sow the seeds.

After having read this, if you disagree with me about any part of it, that’s OK- you have a right to! And if you agree with me, that’s much better, but the hard thing is not to just understand what I am saying but to actually use it in real life. When people are so passionate about what they believe that they can’t stand the thought of someone else not agreeing with them, the situation can become very tense and hurtful before you even know it is happening. Practice makes perfect, as with any skill, and if you find that your arguments keep falling on deaf ears, first I would suggest you verify that you are correct. Review your position with an open-minded approach and, if after doing so, you still believe your original position is the correct one but no one is listening to you, consider that you might need to change your method of argumentation.

No matter how “right” we may think we are, if we can’t get people to listen to us we might as well say nothing.

 

Is Jesus God? I Have the Definitive Answer!

I have heard people argue in person, in congregations, and on Face Book in different discussion groups whether or not Jesus (Yeshua) is God (the Father) or just the Messiah. Is He God? Is He just a human being? What does “God in the Flesh” really mean, anyway?

Before we get to what I consider the definitive answer to this unanswerable question, let’s review Bruck’s Acid Test Question for discussion topics:

How does this affect my salvation?

If I believe Yeshua is God, does that make me any more “saved” than someone who believes Yeshua is just the Messiah and a separate entity from God? Is believing in God the Father and Yeshua the Messiah as separate entities something that is dishonoring God? Will I not be saved if I only accept Yeshua as God’s son and the Messiah God promised?

If I believe Yeshua is not God the Father, am I rejecting God? If I believe Yeshua is God, why do I need to have faith in a messiah? If the Messiah is God, why do I need to identify Him as a Messiah? God is all I will need, right?  But if Yeshua is not God and I put my faith in Him as the means of my forgiveness, does that mean I am not saved?

If I have faith that Yeshua is the Messiah who provides forgiveness of sin, will it make any difference to my being forgiven whether Yeshua is God or not?

Do you see where I am going with this?

The definitive answer to the question, “Is Jesus God?” is this: It doesn’t matter!

No one can argue against the biblical fact that Yeshua lived a life and died. Even those who don’t accept Him as Messiah cannot really argue against the biblical and extra-biblical historical evidence of His life. And anyone who accepts Yeshua as their Messiah cannot argue that His sacrifice is what now provides for us the means to be forgiven of our sins (because with the Temple destroyed we have no place to offer sacrifice for sin, in accordance with Torah.)

So, whether or not Yeshua is God, He is (at least) Messiah, and it is our faith that through Yeshua we are saved. The faith in Yeshua that He is the Messiah and His sacrifice was for us, and also our faith in God that He will keep His promise to forgive those who ask for it, in Yeshua’s name. This is how we are saved: proclaiming faith that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised, that when we do T’shuvah (turn from sin) and ask God for forgiveness invoking the name of Yeshua, we will be forgiven. That is how salvation works.

So can you see that whether or not Yeshua is God doesn’t affect our salvation- we are covered one way or the other. That’s why it doesn’t really matter.

But let’s not stop now!

Ask yourself this: What value is the argument about Yeshua being God, or not being God, have to anyone? Who really benefits from this discussion? I’ll tell you who benefits from it- The enemy does!

What I have heard and seen when this topic comes up is, invariably, dissension, argumentation, dissonance, hatred, pridefulness and anger. All these emotions, especially when brothers and sisters in the Lord direct them at each other, serve only the enemy of God.  Yeshua said people will know we are His Disciples by how we love each other, but when this discussion comes up, love goes right out the window! Because any answer makes no difference to our salvation, this is a useless discussion that only causes strife every time it comes up, and as such serves no useful purpose in God’s kingdom or to a gathering of God’s people.

Whether or not Jesus is God doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is how we treat each other, how we maintain our focus on what is important and how we learn more about what God wants us to do for His kingdom and His glory. Now, I can’t talk for God, but I am willing to go out on a limb and say I really, really doubt God wants us to argue with each other about something that has nothing to do with salvation, spreading the word, making disciples or showing the peace and love that God has for everyone. Aren’t those things more important than a theological discussion about deity that doesn’t edify or help anyone?

Think about it.

Pride and Prejudice

No, I am not talking about the classic novel. Truth be told, I never read it.

I am talking about my experiences on different Face Book Discussion Groups. I have joined a few, mainly to get my name “out there” to generate interest in this ministry, my website, and (maybe?) sell a book or two. So far it has been more painful than useful.

I have been a member of one group that was supposed to be about the Torah, but instead ended up being all about Kabbalah and Talmud, almost totally Rabbinical-based. I was also on one that was titled in a way that made you think it had Messianic Jews and Messianic Christians in it, but that was not so, either.

In both these different groups I found opinions that were anywhere from banal to heretical, and it seems that 20% of the people in the group (based on the numbers of members) did 80% of the posting.

And much of what was posted was, at least for me, useless. I saw posts that were nothing more than a “copy and paste” from the bible, verse upon verse, different verses from different books tied together in a continuous diatribe, with no message, no drash- just copy and paste. Some people did find something edifying in those posts, so it did serve a purpose for some, but to me that is just a topographical, empty spiritual experience. I don’t need to be in a discussion group to read bible verses.

The real problem is the pridefulness I see in the members of these groups that makes them prejudice towards anyone that disagrees with them. I have seen abusive, degrading and distasteful language used against someone who just disagrees. I have been the butt of this, myself. I mentioned how I felt about the Zohar, the “bible” of Kabbalah on one site, and I was accused of being in league with HaSatan because by my not wanting to read it I was being willfully ignorant, which is a sin and therefor in league with the Devil.

Really? Not wanting to read something that I was taught Judaism (and this was supposedly a Torah based site) has historically considered heretical because I don’t want to expose myself to it, makes me a demon? This one person went as far as to say that Yeshua (Jesus) was Kabbalah and taught from that.  The Chasidic and Orthodox Jews believe Kabbalah was first introduced at Sinai and was part of the Oral Torah, which has become the Talmud. In other sources the origin of Kabbalah is 12th to 13th Century in Spain.

The point is not what Kabbalah is or isn’t, but that when someone disagrees with you and you find yourself attacking the person instead of the argument, then your pride has taken over and you’re showing signs of prejudice. The anger and frustration you feel is causing you to become aggressive and impolite, and that is directly from pridefulness.

When we recommend something, or suggest a way to do something, if the person we give that suggestion to decides not to do it, many of us feel that we have been insulted. “You asked me, and I told you- so why won’t you do it?” is the feeling we have. We forget it is very likely that what we suggested is not a good suggestion; maybe it isn’t right, or maybe the person knows that it is a good suggestion, but there are other factors we don’t know about (which the person does) which render the suggestion as inappropriate. If nothing else, when someone asks for an idea or suggestion that doesn’t mean they have to do what is suggested. It is not personal, it is not because they don’t like you or think less of you, it is just that they decided they don’t want to do what was suggested. They have that right.

So, when I said I didn’t want to read the Zohar because of what I had been taught about it, why did I have to be called “willfully ignorant”, or be told that I am in league with Satan, or that I am unable to make up my own mind and am “easily swayed”? Why?- because the people who I was having this discussion with are so prideful and defensive of their own beliefs that they have to attack and demean anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

And this wasn’t any one group- I have been in (and out) of about 5 groups, of which (so far) only two have been representative of what I would expect from a God-fearing group of people who believe in Yeshua, or are (for lack of a better term) “Christian” in their approach to people. And when I use the term “Christian” I mean what we would want “Christian” to mean.

So, now that that’s off my chest, what is the value of this little rant of mine? It is to remind everyone, including myself, that when we talk about God, Yeshua or the bible, we are representing that topic. In other words, if I say I believe in Yeshua and am talking with another person who doesn’t, when they disagree with me and I start to brow-beat them, call them insulting names and tell them they are doomed for hell and eternal destruction, what kind of image will that leave them about all Believers? I think we can agree that their perception of someone who is “Christian” or “Messianic” will not be a good one. When we talk about God, no matter how adamant the other person is in their opinion, let them be the one that is out of control and wildly defensive. Let them be the one to attack you and call you names or infer your lack of strength or wisdom. Let them be the one who leaves a bad taste in the mouth of all listening. In the meantime, you be compassionate, respectful and patient. If they become abusive, politely ask them to not attack you personally and stay on the topic. If they can’t, then politely excuse yourself. Let everyone who is listening see the peace and security you have in your belief- wildly defensive is saying I can’t be sure of what I am saying and anyone who doesn’t agree is weakening my faith, so I must destroy them. Quietly and calming explaining why you believe in something shows a deep and confident faith in the truth of what you are talking about.

We know who God is, we know who Yeshua is, and we know (or we should) from our experience with God and Yeshua that whether someone accepts or rejects, the truth is still the truth.  In the Trilogy of the Matrix, Morpheus talks about the prophecy of “The One.” His commanding officer says that not everyone believes as Morpheus does, to which Morpheus replies that his faith doesn’t require anyone else to believe as he does. Now that is a statement of faith!

So even if someone is bound for hell, just because it is the truth doesn’t mean you have to tell them- you certainly won’t gain anything from it with regards to changing their mind. And if someone is adamant God doesn’t exist, remember that they have a right to their opinion. God gave us all Free Will to choose or reject Him- you know God exists, so you don’t need their approval or agreement because God exists whether they believe it or not.

Too many people have a bad image of “Believers” because too many Believers have left that image with them by being so zealous that they actually do the opposite of what they want to do: instead of making people jealous of the peace the Ruach (Spirit) gives us and of the fearlessness we have knowing that God is on our side, they leave the impression that all “Bible-thumpers” are totally out of touch with reality, and the last thing anyone would want to do is become that way.

When we proclaim ourselves as followers of Messiah, everything we do and say is a reflection on Messiah. Everything. And when someone who has rejected God, and/or Yeshua , sees us act in a poor fashion, they will use that as a reason to continue to reject God and His Messiah. So instead of saving a soul, we are contributing to their death.

Think about that the next time you are in a discussion with someone trying to win their soul for Messiah.