Parashah Vayyera (And he appeared) Genesis 18 – 22

We begin with Abraham sitting under the terebinths just chilling out when three men (who are really angels) appear to him. He performs the usual act of kindness that was culturally expected of him, asking them to stay, wash their feet and giving them food and drink. After partaking of his hospitality, one of the three tells him that next year Sarah will have given birth to a boy. Sarah laughs (hence the name Yitzchak, which means “to laugh”) and as they leave one of them tells Abraham what is to happen to Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Abraham, thinking of Lot, pleads with the angel not to destroy the cities if there are but 50 righteous men found there, and the angel agrees. Abraham manages to negotiate down to saving the city for the sake of just 10 righteous men, but there weren’t even that many.

The angels find Lot and are invited to his house overnight, but the men of the city come to force the strangers to participate in homosexual sex  (hence the term “sodomize”), and to prevent that Lot offers his two virgin daughters instead. Before anything can happen, the men of the city are struck blind by the angels, who tell Lot to get out of Dodge now. Lot delays until the early morning and is forcibly taken out, with his daughters and his wife. The wife lags behind and looks back, which results in her being turned into a pillar of salt, while Lot escapes the destruction with his two daughters,

They live in a cave and the daughters get him drunk so that without his knowledge they sleep with him, one daughter one night and the other daughter a second night. They are each impregnated and their children give rise to two of the ancient enemies of Israel, the Ammonites and the Moabites.

Meanwhile, Abraham is moving on, as well, and settles near the kingdom of Abimelech.  As he had done in Egypt, he asks Sarah to pretend to be his sister and when Abimelech sees her, he takes her for himself as a wife. He never approaches her and God comes to him in a dream, warning him against doing anything to Sarah because she belongs to Abraham. God tells the king to have Abraham pray for him, and eventually, Abraham and Abimelech swear an oath of friendship and Abraham secures his rights to a well he dug, the Well of Seven (Beer-Sheva.)

The final chapter of this parashah is called the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. This is one of the earliest and best known Messianic references since Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son, indicating the future sacrifice of the Messiah by God. We all know the story: Abraham takes Isaac to a place God tells him about, which is Mount Moriah. Isaac is bound and placed on a pyre, and just as Abraham is about to kill him, an angel calls from heaven to stop. God tells Abraham that because of this act of faithful obedience, the promises he has made will be fulfilled. Abraham sees a ram stuck by its horns in a bush, and sacrifices that to God (which is why the ram’s horn is the preferred horn to be used for the Shofar.)

I am interested in the situation with Lot’s two daughters who escaped with him. We read in Genesis 19:14 that Lot went to his sons-in-law to ask them to join him in leaving the city, so it seems that Lot also had two married daughters. Sadly, they and their husbands did not take Lot seriously when he told them the city would be destroyed. Those daughters had become subjects of their environment, choosing to reject salvation in order to remain in the sinful city, despite the fact that their father told them of the coming destruction.

The two daughters who escaped with Lot performed a heinous act by seducing their own father in order to make sure that his bloodline continued. They were true “daughters of Sodom” and by their actions demonstrated not only were they comfortable with the sexual perversity of the place where they grew up but that they also had no faith in God.

Abraham was truly unique, growing up in a paganistic environment, yet knowing and believing in the one, true God. His environment didn’t affect his righteousness or his morals. However, even though Lot was raised by Abraham, a righteous man, Lot did not learn anything from Abraham. Abraham was humble and generous, but Lot was self-centered and selfish. We can see this when Abraham asked Lot to choose where he will settle, and Lot chose the best possible land, despite its proximity to the sinful city of Sodom.  Lot married into this culture and allowed his daughters to also marry into the culture of Sodom, whereas Abraham made Eliezer promise to get a wife for Isaac from his own people, even though it was a fair distance away (Genesis 25:20.)

Are we allowing our children to be influenced by their environment to the point where they might accept sin over our advice? Are we careful to watch what they see on TV and in the movies? To control which video games they play? To know who their friends are and what their parents are like?

I was not able to raise my children, who lived with their mother two states away. Although I tried to see them every weekend, I was unable to influence them because the few hours I spent with them couldn’t overcome the “24/7/365” their mother had with them. Eventually, because I tried to show them the right way to act and get them to know God, which was against what their mother had been doing, my efforts resulted in them cutting me out of their lives. Thanks be to God, I have reconciled with my son, but his older sister still has nothing to do with me, despite my earnest pleas in a letter to her every year on her birthday. And it kills me that I have not been able to save their eternal souls by teaching them how to overcome their environment.

I see young people today that are totally blinded by technology and trust what they are exposed to by the Internet and the media, which are tools of Satan. Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and that is how what our children see and hear every day is delivered to them. Too many parents today are more concerned about being a friend to their child than being a parent, and the Bible is clear that without proper discipline, a child will not be saved (Proverbs 23:14.)

You may say that in today’s world it is impossible to prevent a child from being exposed to the sins and perversity of the world, and you would be correct. So how do we keep them from being absorbed into this culture of corruption?

By example. Parents, uncles, aunt, grandparent, friend…whatever relationship you have with a child, you must be an example of righteousness. Even if you are fearful of losing that child’s love or companionship, you must present yourself as an example of proper moral and spiritual living. The Bible tells us that if we bring up a child in the way they should go, they will remain in it (Proverbs 22:6); personally, I find this not to be true in every case. I am sure Abraham was an excellent example to Lot, and we know how that turned out. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

You never really know in which way you are influencing a child until they grow up. I know many of the things I found uncomfortable and annoying about my parents ended up being good for me. And I didn’t realize this until I was fully grown, and appreciated it, even more, when I had children of my own.

Lot wasn’t a good example to his daughters, and what resulted from that was his children became sworn enemies of his uncle’s children. Eventually, the descendants of Lot (children raised to accept sinfulness) were destroyed by the descendants of Abraham (those raised to obey God.)

It’s never too late to start being righteous or to teach your children to obey God. I believe that the world is overpowering the youth of today, influencing them in a way that makes it very difficult for parents to fight against. When I was a child, we didn’t have anything that was as powerful an influence as the Internet, TV, movies and the media are today. The parents of today have an especially hard job when it comes to keeping their children “clean” because there is really no way, other than physical isolation, to prevent our kids from being exposed to the sinfulness of the world.

The only chance our children have is for us to be the kind of example that will shine so brightly and make such a lasting impression on them that even if they should stumble and fall victim to the world, they will always have in their memory the image of righteousness that might, one day, bring them out of the dark and back into the light.

Be the best example of righteousness you can be, keep vigilant, keep watching what they do, and keep praying to God for the spiritual and physical protection of your children. Just as Yeshua prepared and warned his Talmudim before sending them out into the world, we must do the same for our children.

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I wish you Shabbat shalom, and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

A Real Life Example of How Patient Prayer Works

If you have been to the About Steve page on my website you would have read that children have kicked me out of their lives, and how I have been praying fervently every day for reconciliation. I have always stated I know it is, ultimately, a choice my children have to make, and I appreciate and am thankful for whatever God can do to help them make that choice.

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I say it that way because I know God will not force someone to love or forgive- he will give us plenty of opportunities, he will send angels and people in our path to help steer us to that goal, but he will not force anyone to do something.

On each of the birthdays of my children, I send them a letter or email. My daughter doesn’t have an email address I know of, so I send her a letter, and my son has an email.  I sent my son his birthday greeting and (as usual) a request to please reconcile last October (2018). As always, I said a little prayer over that communique before I sent it.

Last week I was checking my email and guess what was there? That’s right- an email from my son saying all the things I had been praying he would say. We have exchanged some emails since then, I am getting caught up on what he has been doing (it has been nearly 6 years since we last spoke) and he seems to be much more open to having a relationship than ever before.

I will be taking this step-by-step because I don’t want to ruin things, again. I am pretty sure what I had done in the past to help alienate him, and although I was trying to do what I thought best for him, even at my own expense, clearly I could have done whatever it was I wanted to do in a better way. I will do my very best not to make that mistake again.

Even though we are not of the same belief regarding God and Messiah, he is willing to read my books which I am sending to him today.

So, prayer works! Not always the way you want it to, not always like you want it to, and almost never when you want it to, but overall….it works.

In fact, it works even on those who don’t necessarily believe in God, so long as the one praying does.

I am so happy that my son has returned to me that I had to share this today with you, as encouragement to all of you out there still waiting for an answer to your prayers. Be patient, keep on asking, and faithfully trust that even if you don’t see any results, God is working on it for you.

 

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Ha’azinu (Give ear) Deuteronomy 32

As we come to the final chapters of the Torah, we find Moses finishing his service to the nation of Israel (and to God) with a song,  just as he did after crossing the Red Sea, when he was just starting.

This “Song of Moses” is both a stern chastisement and a promise of hope for the future. He recounts how God has been faithful, loving and generous, forgiving over and over the sins of the child who was given everything and has shown only rebelliousness and rejection. Moses tells of the way God has taken care of Israel, and all Israel has done, in return, is reject and rebel.  Moses further tells them what will happen in the future, how their rebellion will be punished, but ends with the hope of salvation and, eventually, the promise that God’s loving presence will return once the nation returns to God.

There’s an old song called, “We Always Hurt the Ones We Love.” I often think how many times, over the millennia, have we hurt God. When I say “we”, I don’t mean Believers, or Jews, I mean “we”- i.e., everyone. Believers, non-Believers, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, New Wavers, Skin-heads, whatever and whomever; in other words, people. Just plain people, no matter what their spiritual beliefs.

All people are God’s children, and we all hurt Him when we reject Him. Really, no one likes being hated or rejected; no one likes having those they love turn their faces away as they approach. No one likes being told, “You have no place here!”; and when you think about it, that is exactly what this nation, America, has told God. We have told Him that He has no place in our schools, no place in our courts, and no place in our work areas.

If we, as simple human beings with limited capacity to love, don’t like these things, can you imagine how much it must hurt the Lord when He is the object of derision?

To be even more direct, when it comes to rejection of God and hurting Him by not obeying His laws and commandments, which He gave us so that we will live and be happy, I should be saying how I have hurt Him. Yes, we have, but I have, too. I have disobeyed, I have done wrong in His eyes, I have rejected Him, and I can’t feign ignorance because I do know better!

Through 40 years in the desert, the children of Israel had God with them always; a cloud by day and fire by night, feeding them, watching over them, yet all the time they kept ignoring Him. They took advantage of Him, they grew (as Moses says in his song) fat and kicking (to represent an over-fed ox that won’t take the yoke) and yet God still remained with them and took care of them.

I can understand how God must have felt because I have two children (from a previous life) that I visited when they were growing up and living with their mother. I drove from Philadelphia to Queens, NY every weekend at first,when they were just 6 and 1. Then, as they got older (and I got older, too) I went every other week, then eventually my daughter rejected me and, finally, after child support was over and my son was in college, he rejected me, too. This was, of course, partially my fault, but in honesty it was mostly their mother’s hatefulness that she force-fed them their whole lives, addicting them to ADHD drugs  (they were never diagnosed by a medical professional) and filling them up with half-truths and complete lies, using them as weapons to get back at me for leaving the marriage.

Despite the cruel, disrespectful and hateful things they constantly did and said to me, I still kept going back for more. Why? Because  I’m some sort of saint? No way. Because it made me feel good to be yelled at and insulted? I don’t think so. Maybe because there was a monetary reward for it? C’mon! I used to drive an extra hour or two just to avoid tolls when I first started seeing them, and when I did have some money I spent it on movies, or archery, or breakfast, or anything to get them out of the house (the mother never took them anywhere); we went to the City (New York City, of course) and visited museums, we went to parks, we went to events, etc., all of which cost money.

Never, ever did I get so much as a “Gee, thanks Dad! That was really fun!” Not even close. In fact, usually we ended up in an argument that was created long before I ever got there- they were primed and ready for me before I even picked them up.

So, nu? Why did I keep going back? I kept going back because they are my children and I love them. Even now, all I want is to be reconciled with them.

I am not telling you this for any pity or remorse- please, that is not the point. I have God, what else could I possibly need to give peacefulness to my soul? And I have forgiven them, mother and children, because that is what we are expected to do.

No, the point is that I can understand how God feels. Anyone, any of you reading this, who have ever loved and not had that love returned, knows (at least) a little bit how God feels when His loving kindness and compassion is returned with rejection.

And when we try to tell God how He is supposed to feel, such as people who say, “Oh, that’s OK because God will forgive me” or “It isn’t that important- God didn’t really mean that”  or even worse, “I don’t really believe in God: it’s all just a made-up story”, I can only imagine how much God wants to just shake them up a little; maybe throw some lightening, drop a fireball or two, possibly split the earth under their feet. You know, just a little wake-up call to let them know, “Hey- I am here, and I AM!”

But that’s not His style, and I can say that because He has shown us His ways throughout the Tanach. Yes, He has thrown fire now and then, and He has shown His majesty and power through miraculous events, but overall He has let others, humans, perform the work in order to have His plans come to fruition.

There are so many ways we can accept that God exists, everyday miracles we see all around us, but we refuse to accept the truth of His existence, and thereby, reject Him. That is what Moshe (Moses) is telling the Israelites in his song. And he calls heaven and earth as witnesses.

God is here; He always has been here, is here this very instant, and He will be here always. Here- just within reach, always reaching out to you, always wanting to be in communion with you, always willing to forgive you when you do T’shuvah (repent), always loving you with a love that is so complete and overwhelming that you can never fully grasp the depth of it.

That is what Moses is telling the people, and that is the hope we have, each of us, every day. God is not there- He is here! He has never left, and He will always be close enough to touch.

All we have to do is reach out.

Texas Supreme Court made the correct decision

WHAT??? Steve- are you saying that you are pro-abortion?

No. I am not for abortion- it is murder. What I am “for” is common sense, and to expect that a court of law in America is going to uphold a godly position is not sensible.

From a strictly “civil” point of view, it is illegal to force or coerce someone to make a decision that regards their individual rights. In America, like it or not, a woman has a legal right to have an abortion, within the limitations of the law. Those limitations are based partially upon the premise that the abortion does not risk the health of the mother. The Texas Supreme Court said the laws they ruled against were not designed to protect the health of the mother, but simply to make getting an abortion legally more difficult. That is a coercive measure which impede’s a woman’s personal rights, and it is illegal.

Again, from a strictly legal viewpoint, the court made the correct decision.

We, as Believers, cannot expect to have a government formed by humans to be a godly one. If you do, you’re a fool. In fact, as Believers, we should not want any man-made government; we don’t want a representative republic (that is we have in America-if you thought it was a democracy, technically it isn’t), we don’t want socialism, communism, despotism or dictatorships. What we want is a Theocracy- a government that is led by God.

After the Exodus, God ruled the people, with divinely appointed prophets to be His representatives on earth. God ruled through the Prophets, and we saw how He empowered them with miracles and wisdom. This is the Theocracy that all Believers should want and be waiting for.

When Yeshua returns to reign, we will have what we want.

But that is not what we have now, and don’t think that this is a recent event. Read 1st Samuel, Chapters 9 through 12. Samuel appoints a king, which is what the people have been craving. And in Chapter 12, after Saul is established as king and Samuel is ready to go the way of all things, he really lets the people have it. He tells them, in no uncertain terms, how horrendous a sin they have committed against God by asking for a king, and how they will suffer for putting a human over them instead of God.

Since then, history has proven Samuel correct.

In the meantime, we are bound by Torah, by Yeshua’s command, and by legal statute to honor and obey the existing government. All those in power are there by God’s approval, and they will perform His will, whether they know it or not, sooner or later. God’s plan is the one that will survive and be fulfilled.

If you are expecting the United States government, whether federal or civil (meaning state) to initiate and pass laws that are in accordance to God’s laws regarding the rights of the unborn, then all I can say to you is…get real, People!” Governments that are formed by humans will have human laws and be based on human desires and emotions. Godly things, you know, like compassion, respect for others, love, fairness to all, and respect for the Torah- those things have no place in human-formed government. Oh, yeah- we make a big stink about them, talk like we mean to have them and we are all about fair and just, but when it comes down to it, well…you decide. Do you think that our system of justice is honoring the Torah or ignoring it?

When the Jews came out of Egypt, totally under the command and totally obedient to God alone (well, maybe not totally but usually?), we enjoyed living under His sovereign rule and had His divine protection. During the times of the Judges (about 5 Centuries or so after Joshua died), the book of Judges tells us that men did whatever they saw as right. It wasn’t pretty.

Then, as I referenced above, Samuel is told by God to anoint Shaul (Saul) as king: this was the first step to kicking God out of our lives.

Moving forward a few thousands years, we have many religions, all trying to kill each other, and we have many states and countries with different forms of government. Those that said they were for God and wanted to do God’s will are represented by the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Nazi party (yes, the Nazi Party- the belt buckles of the Nazi uniform said, “Gott mit uns”, which translates to “God is with us.”)

Historically, governments that said they were godly were just the opposite.

Today we have kicked God pretty much out of everything- out of the schools (no prayer allowed), out of the courthouse (take those 10 Commandments down- they are religious and we have separated state from church) and out of our families. Today when Jews marry someone of a different religion, it is the Jew that is usually converting. The “Nuclear Family” has done just what nuclear devices are designed to do- blow up. Eating dinner together around the table and sharing the day’s activities is a past relic.

And, as the Texas Supreme Court has upheld, people can legally kill their children. It reminds me of God commanding us not to worship Molech: the sacrifice to Molech, a god of the Semites, was to throw a young child, alive, into the fire. We may not be throwing our children into the fire, but we aren’t that far off- we are still killing them, just sooner than the ancients did.

The world is godless, as it should be- that is, if you believe in what Revelations tells us will happen. I see such horror and destruction- not just of things and people, but of spirit, justice and compassion. Our children grow up stealing cars and murdering prostitutes on the way (video game) or destroying and killing in war (video games, again.) They see violence, satanic beings that are really “okay”, and sexual impropriety every day on the TV and in the movies, and they have become inured to the horror of it all.

They are being prepared for the enemy to rule them.

This is God’s plan, people- this is what is supposed to happen. It ain’t nice, it ain’t pretty, and it is going to get worse- MUCH worse: be prepared to be persecuted if you worship God.

Don’t expect to see justice and fair treatment in the world; at least, not the kind God wants.

The bowls are in the hands of the angels, and the seals are being torn off the scroll. We are going through it, we are about to experience it- can’t you see it coming?

The End Times prophecies aren’t prophecy any more- they are current events.

hands off = don’t care

Another gossip column rant this morning- this time it’s not Dear Abby, but Ask Amy (Donna likes to read the newspapers, and with two papers I get twice as many word puzzles.)

The question this morning was asking how tough a parent should be with activities such as having your children learn piano, get all A’s in school, etc. The parent writing was raised in a strict Asian family with very little “kid” time, and the other parent is (the writer says) a ‘hands-off’ type.

Amy did OK, and ended up saying kids have their friends, and if you’re the Mom or Dad, you are NOT one of their friends, you’re their parent- act like one!

Amen to that, Sister!

Hands off is not allowing your children to grow- it is removing accountability and preventing them from learning there are limitations in life and in relationships; it keeps them from being able to be aware, and respectful, of other people. Allowing children to be unaccountable for their actions and words (or lack thereof, if that is the case) is not helping them at all. Yes, there are times when we need to remember that they are just children, and still learning, but that doesn’t mean to allow them to ignore the consequences of what they do. It means we need to make them experience the consequences with mercy and patience. God is a great example of doing that, being understanding and merciful when He knows that is best, and striking you down when that is what is needed. And always, always, always willing and able to forgive.

I tried to be a parent to my children when I visited them; they are from my previous life, which ended in divorce, but I never left them- only their mother. However, since she was a ‘hands off, let’s be friends, you’re just children’ type of mother, who never felt responsible or accountable for anything she did or said, they were growing up the same way. Because I tried to be a parent, they now have rejected me and I am not allowed to be a part of their life. It’s been almost 4 years since I was able to talk or even email my son, and about 7 years with my daughter. My 4-6 hours with them every other Sunday or Saturday for over 20 years did not match up against the 24/7/365 teachings from their mother.

Here’s one example of how hands off is not helping the kids, at all:

I was with my children, Alexandra was about 8 and Bryce was about 3, and we were walking across the street. I held Alex’s hand and told her to look both ways for traffic to make sure it was safe, and her reply was that she didn’t have to look because I was the parent and I was supposed to make sure she is safe. Of course, that is an accurate statement- I am the parent, I am supposed to protect them, but that doesn’t remove her responsibility to protect herself. How will she learn to be a protective parent when she grows up if she isn’t taught this now? That was my argument- what happens when they become adults? If they are not taught how to be one, does it magically come to them in a flash the moment they turn 18? Maybe when they turn 21 they suddenly know what to do?

Proverbs tells us many things about disciplining our children, and how God disciplines us because He loves us. I am not saying a parent that is not a disciplinarian doesn’t love their children, or that one who is Machiavellian in their attitude is the most loving of all. What I am saying is that ‘hands off’ is the same as ‘I don’t care’, and children will pick up on that. Oh, believe-you-me, they know! If you don’t show concern and discipline for them, they will stretch that inch into a light year. Even if you are “strict”, they will still try to get away with as much as they can- that is what being a child is all about. To stretch the limits, to push to the edge, and further, until they are reeled in. It is a parents obligation to their child to teach them the ropes, so to speak, and that means how to tie things up and how not to get all tied up. A rope can lift you up or it can hang you: it all depends on knowing how to use it correctly.

I believe that the world is falling into satanic control, more and more each day. Look at the video games- violent, demonic, totally unconcerned for human rights or dignity. Look at the TV shows- sexual improprieties, killing, “justified” violence to each other, and just plain stupid…and I mean, REALLY stupid!

Look at the advertisements our children see on TV and in the magazines- people are sexual objects, products make you a better person, the more you have the more popular you will be. All focused on material items, which is all the enemy of God can offer. God doesn’t care about material things- He cares about our eternal soul.  Yeshua tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these other things (what we need to survive while alive) will be given to us.

If you have kids, I am happy for you. I know you may not always feel that way for yourself, but as someone who has lost his children to hatred and unforgiveness (for the record, I wasn’t “Mr. Right”, either. I was no “Father Knows Best”, believe me) you should be grateful for being able to raise your children.

So raise them correctly, teaching them with proper levels of discipline, always tempered with forgiveness, love, mercy and patience. And remember-like it or not, this IS how it is- you are their example. They will not accept “Do as I say and not as I do” because no one does! They will be like you because your are in their very DNA, and what is good about you they have, and what is bad about you they have, also. And they will also have what is uniquely theirs. Appreciate their uniqueness and help them learn to develop it.

Hand off is (and I won’t accept any argument to the contrary) no different than saying you don’t care. It is condemning them to death (that’s what Proverbs tells us happens if we don’t discipline our children), and what parent wants to do that?

 

Aspirin for the Soul

Is there anyone out there without some level of pain in their soul? I know the pain of missing my children, who have been torn from me by a hateful and unforgiving mother I divorced nearly a quarter of a century ago. I visited the children every weekend for the first couple of years (I lived a 1 1/2 hour drive away, if there was no NY traffic. And there’s no such thing as “no traffic” when talking about New York City), took them to the beach, to parks, to movies. I spent money I didn’t have at first, and when I did have money, I spent more of it on them. I did all I could to teach them to be self-aware, considerate and able to get along with others. It was all against what their mother had taught them, which was that they are the center of everything, they are just children so they aren’t responsible for themselves; if they have a reason ‘why’ that is a valid excuse so they don’t have to be responsible for what they do, don’t do, say or don’t say. And as soon as they reached majority, even though we still sent them money, they decided that they didn’t need to have me in their lives anymore. I was treating them as adults, not excusing them, and trying to get them to see how what they had been taught would make them outcasts. So I became the outcast.

It hurts. It has been nearly 4 years since my son disowned me, and about 7 for my daughter. She will be 29 next month, and he will be 24 in October. I still send them birthday cards, remind them how much I miss them and still love them, and ask for reconciliation. At whatever level they are comfortable with. I don’t know what is going on in their lives, and what really kills me is that I know, without a doubt, that if (God forbid) something serious happened, or even if they died, their mother wouldn’t even tell me.

That’s my biggest hurt, and it is a big one, isn’t it? Yet I go on. I don’t mope, I don’t complain (well, not nearly as much as I used to) and I tell you this now only to demonstrate that there is hope for those who have this kind of hurt.

It is the hope we have in Messiah, the knowledge that God loves everyone, and in the power of prayer.

I pray for my children, and I pray for their mother. Yes, I do, and I mean it, which surprised me more than anyone when I started doing it. That is the aspirin for our soul- forgiveness. The pain of being hurt is never going to go away if we review it, rehearse what we want to say to the person who has hurt us, and refuse to accept that they must be hurting, inside, even more than they hurt us to do such a terrible thing. That’s what really got me on the right track- when I thought about the pain she was going through, the hurt, the feeling of desertion and rejection, which is what I was doing. Yes- I was leaving her. I had many, many good reasons for doing that, and even though I was no longer in love with her, I still waited for two years before divorcing her, legally. That was time for her to do T’shuvah, to turn from her prideful hatred and decide which was more important- the marriage or her pridefulness.

We all know what decision she made.

So, what did I have left except the pain? I had more pain to come- constant berating by her every time I visited, my children repeating the foul accusations she made against me and my parents to my face when I was with them, and many other atrocities.

I am so grateful to God and the Ruach HaKodesh for teaching me that the only way to overcome the pain of this situation was to pray for them and forgive them, only after doing that could I ask His forgiveness for them.

Oh, now- don’t get the wrong idea. This wasn’t something that came to me right away: it took years and years for me to get to the point where I didn’t talk about it all the time to anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot. Then it took years after I was saved for me to realize that forgiveness was the only way to relieve the pain. The pain persists, so long as the reason for it persists, but forgiveness and prayer is how I deaden and dull the pain. It is my hope for the future and my trust in God to do all He will to help turn my children back to me (although I know that it has to be their decision), and when I think of the pain and suffering that her hatefulness has caused her, all her life, I can’t help but feel pity for my “ex”.  No matter how much she has hurt me, I have God and the promise of eternal joy to look forward to. When I think of what she has to look forward to, how can I not pity her and pray for her salvation?

Even Ebeneezer Scrooge would have removed some of the chain that Jacob Marley had to wear, if he could have.

Forgiveness is the only way to stop the pain that we have when someone hurts us.

Proverbs tells us to feed and give water to our enemies, David showed respect and forgiveness to King Saul, sparing his life even though he was trying to take David’s; Yeshua tells us to leave our gift at the alter if there is any animosity between us and someone else, and also that we should love our enemies.

And Yeshua also tells us, in Matthew 6:14-15, that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. That’s a hard word to hear, but it is essential we understand it. Forgiveness has nothing to do, really, with the person we forgive, and everything to do with our relationship with God. When anyone sins it is, first and foremost, a sin against God. David knew that and says so in Psalm 51. The person who sins against another is sinning against God. That needs to be worked out between them, and nothing we do will make much of a difference. God will not forgive them if they do not ask for it, no matter how often we ask for it.

So, then ,why should we ask for their forgiveness? Because it is important to maintain our proper relationship with God, that’s why. Because we need to forgive them to stop the pain, that’s why. Because we are commanded to forgive, that’s why!

To err is human; to forgive, divine. That is a truth that is not written in the bible, but is exactly what the bible teaches us.

We all have some pain- how can we possibly avoid it living in a cursed world?  So what? Pain is part of life: for a headache we take aspirin, for a backache we take Ibuprofen, and for the heartache of being sinned against, we take a daily dose of prayer with a glassful of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is aspirin for your soul, and prayer is the way to administer it. Pray for those who hate you, forgive those who sin against you, and you will survive the pain.

And besides that, you will please God, who will bless you for your obedience.

That’s a pretty good remedy: you forgive, which relieves the pain, and then you receive blessings from God.

 

Parashah Acarey Mot (After the death) Leviticus 16 – 18

After the death, as in, after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who came before the Lord with unknown fire, drunk and ambitious. They learned the hard way you shouldn’t “Drink and Daven!”

Chapter 16 deals with the preparation and ceremonies for Yom Kippur, specifically regarding the preparations and duties of the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol.) The other chapters deal with slaying of animals and improper relationships, specifically improper sexual relationships.

From Chapter 18 to the end of Leviticus must be read to understand the origins of all that Yeshua taught us. These chapters deal with relationships between each other, which (ultimately) affect our relationship with God, and cover both familial and social relationships.

Chapter 16 teaches us that we must prepare ourselves before coming to God by cleansing our own sin, and the sin within our household. Many, if not most, Believing families aren’t composed of generations of Believers on both sides, so (in reality) I feel safe in saying that we all have close family members and friends that do not share our beliefs. Maybe they go to church or synagogue every week, and observe their holidays, but they haven’t really accepted Yeshua as their Messiah or really done T’shuvah. Although we must clean ourselves of sin, we can’t just destroy every relationship we have with an unbelieving person; in fact, we should not disown them because they are living in darkness and we are supposed to be the light for them.

We can ‘clean our house’ by not condoning or enabling sin. If we have a child that rejects God, when in your house he or she must not blaspheme or insult God, and the rules you live by as a God-fearing person must be obeyed by everyone in your house. What someone does on their own, outside of your home, is their business; but, if they live in your house, while they are there they will honor your beliefs and not sin.

You want to do drugs, fornicate, drink to excess?  Go somewhere else to do it, and I refuse to help. If you get stuck somewhere, find your own way home. When you are in this house I will treat you well, but if you leave it to sin then find your own way back or sleep on the street.

This isn’t mamby-pampy love; if you are the type of parent who says about your child, “Not my Baby! My Baby is a good boy/girl” as the cops drag them away, you need to clean your house! Actually, you need to wake up and clean the sin out of your own heart!

Yeshua tells us, clearly, that family can get in the way of having a clean heart and house:

Luke 9:62-“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.

Luke 14:26- “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

Matthew 10:34-37- Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—36   a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

These are tough lessons for us, but necessary ones.

Look, I’m not telling you to divorce your spouse and kick your child out into the streets, then quit your job, tell all your non-Believing friends to hit the road and ask the Pastor if you can sleep in the sanctuary from now on. What I am saying is that you need to recognize the sin in yourself and your “house”, meaning the relationships in your life, whether they are intimate, familial or public and keep them as clean as you can. Do not sin, hate the sin but love the sinner, and make sure that everyone you know knows where you stand, which is on God’s side.

Joshua told the Israelites that he and his family will serve the Lord. Can you say the same thing? Maybe you can’t because not all of your family are saved, but you can keep your house clean by being the example that God wants you to be and not enabling or condoning sinfulness.

I lost my children to their mother’s unforgiveness, hatred and spite because I refused to allow my children (whether I was visiting them or they were visiting me) to do what was wrong, to be disrespectful to adults or God, and to act sinfully. Their mother didn’t care, and that didn’t make it any easier for me. I lost my children because of what she has done, and also because of what I did. But I know that what I did was right in God’s eyes, and although it hurts today (and always will) I can suffer with the loss because I want to be what God says we should be. I pray that one day God will send angels to show my children the truth and we will be reconciled, to each other and to God, so that we can be Mishpocha (family) centered on Adonai.

Being right is never easy and, since the world is wrong, being right also means being separated from the world.

You know what? Being holy also means to be separated from the world, so although it is tough, often lonely, usually persecuted one way or another, being holy is what we are supposed to be, and these chapters in Leviticus, from 18 to the end, tell us how to be holy.

If you think that the Old Covenant is not needed anymore because Yeshua is all we need, think again- these next chapters are, essentially, the main lessons that Yeshua taught.

John said that the Word became flesh- the only “word” was Torah, and the flesh it became is Yeshua. So, if Yeshua, being the Living Torah, is still alive then Torah is still alive.

Think about that the next time someone says the Old Covenant is only for Jews.

 

Parashah Tatzria (She Delivers) Leviticus 12 and 13

These two chapters continue in the sections of Leviticus that deal with cleanliness and uncleanliness. Chapter 11 started with food, Chapter 12 deals with the cleanliness of a woman after giving birth and Chapter 13 with skin disorders, specifically leprosy (in Hebrew it’s called Tza’arat.)

Chapter 12 says that a woman is unclean after giving birth just as she is considered unclean during her time of Niddah. Chapter 13 says that when someone is suspected of having Tza’arat, they must go to the Cohen to have him inspect it, he will determine if it is Tza’arat or not (the chapter outlines the diagnostic methods), then (if and) when the person is declared clean, what sacrifices are to be made to allow them back into the community and the Temple.

I am not going to discuss the specifics of what is discussed in these chapters because there is a more important issue that these mitzvot (laws) have generated over the centuries. That issue is about our questioning the reason for these laws. We ask why these laws are given; we ask if they are for health reasons (physical) or for religious reasons (ceremonial); we even ask if they are valid or necessary now that we have better standards of inspection for disease with regards to meat being sold and better methods of disinfection and disease control.

What I want to know is why?- why do we think we have the right to question God? What makes us think we can ask God “Why” He gives us laws, and even worse, question if God’s laws are really necessary or valid anymore.

I am not saying  we shouldn’t ever question God. That’s just silly. Job questioned God (of course, the answers fell on him like a ton of bricks, but he did get answers), Gideon questioned God, Moses questioned God, Abraham questioned God, ….get the point? The point is that all these great men questioned God, but not in a manner that raised doubts about whether or not God had the right to do what He did or whether or not what God said was valid or really necessary.

There are good questions for God, and there are bad ones. The good questions could be:

  1. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  2. What do you want from me? How can I better serve you?
  3. When will you answer my prayers?
  4. Who is the Messiah?

Then there are the bad questions:

  1. Why do I have to do this?
  2. Is this law really necessary anymore?
  3. Who are you to tell me I have to do this?
  4. If I am saved by the blood of Jesus why do I still have to obey these “ceremonial” laws?

Can you see the difference between these questions? If not I didn’t do a good job of giving examples- what I want to show is that we can question God about His plans and what He is doing and why He does things but when we question the validity of His laws or His authority to issue them, we are out of line.

Shaul (that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus who makes the tents) addressed this in his second letter to Timothy, 3:16:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

And in the Gospels, John 14:21  Yeshua tells us what it means to love Him:

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them

And Yeshua also told us in Matthew 24:35:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away

All these scriptures point to the fact that God doesn’t change, and His word doesn’t change, and if we love Him we will do as He says not because it’s healthy, or for some arcane religious ceremonial need, but because we love Him. We do what He tells us as a labor of love, not as a forced activity to prevent going to hell. We do what God says without questioning His authority or reasons for giving these laws to us because He is God and we are not; He’s the boos, He’s the Man! He’s the one who leads, we are the ones who follow.

Isaiah 45:9 also addresses this issue of wrongful questions to God :

Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’

We need to do what Yeshua said we should when He told us to change and become like little children, otherwise we will never enter the Kingdom of God (you can look this one up yourselves.) What He meant was that we need to accept, unquestioning and faithfully, what God tells us to do. How many times in the Tanakh do we read how Moses told the people to obey God to receive His blessings and life? Not just for them, but for their children, too!

I ask God a lot of questions, but I never ask Him to justify what He does or what He has told me I should do. That is just plain disrespectful, and certainly not faithful.

Do you love someone a lot? I mean, “fall down on your face and kiss the ground they walk on” love them? If you do, and they asked you to do something for them, would you ask them why you had to?

God gives us laws, regulations, ordinances and commandments- what’s the difference? Who cares? If you love Him and trust Him to tell you to do only what is good for you, then faithfully obey, do it as a labor of love, and trust that whether you can understand why God says to do something or not, He always tells us what to do because it is good for us.

Thessalonians 4:7-8  says this:

God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you

Question God all you want about how to do those things He says to do better; question God all you want in order to serve Him more completely; question God all you want to help better understand His plans for you. But don’t question His authority, don’t question the validity of His commandments, and certainly don’t question God’s right to tell us what we should do.

God is our Father, we are His children, and children should do as their parents tell them. Proverbs says that when we teach our children what to do they will always return to that path. Believe it when I tell you that God only wants what is best for His children, and show that trust and love by doing as He says without questioning why.

 

Bruck’s 3 Rules of Prayer

Everyone has rules, and I have my own rules for prayer.

Rule #1: God always hears your prayers.

There are places in the Bible where God says He will not hear us. For instance:

1 Samuel 8:18 (And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. KJV);

Isaiah 1:15 (When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. NIV);

Jeremiah 7:16 (So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. NIV)

But does this mean God doesn’t hear your prayers? I don’t think that is what He means- He always hears us, He is just not listening, as in paying attention.

He always hears us, but when we have rejected Him and have sinned so often and so purposefully that we have thrown a wedge between us and God, He will have no option but to ignore our pleas. Think of it this way- we are calling to Him, He hears us but holds up His mighty right arm to our face and says, “Speaketh thou to the hand!”

God always, always, always hears our prayers, but how he acts is His choice. Which brings us to the second rule.

Rule #2: God always answers your prayers.

And sometimes that answer is, “No.”  As above, God hears you, alright, but decides to answer with silence. Or maybe He will just say, “Nope! Ain’t gonna happen.” And at other times His answer will be “You got it, babe!” and that answer will be wonderful, confirming, and blissfully full of blessings. Or it may be something totally unexpected, which leads to the last rule of prayer.

Rule #3: The answer usually isn’t what you expect or when you expect it, but it will always be just what you need and just when you need it.

God knows what we need better than we do, better than we can, and better than we ever will. And because He is a loving and compassionate Father, Judge and Savior , He will provide not what we want (which is usually not good for us) but what we need. And whereas our timing is usually lousy, God’s timing is always perfect because He knows what will happen and when it will happen, so He can make things occur just when they should. We won’t always get what we want, and we rarely will get it when we want it, but we will have a much better batting average if we learn to pray more in line with God’s plan for us. Look at the prayers of Abraham, Moshe, the Prophets, Yeshua’s prayers and those of His Disciples: their prayers were answered not only when they were asked, but often exactly as they requested. That’s because they were praying for something that was within God’s plan. And yet, there were other prayers which were not answered as requested. Take Shaul as an example, in 2nd Corinthians 12:7:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Here is one good reason for us to expect God to decide what He will answer and when: God, and God alone, knows the best time to do something and the best time not to do anything, because it is all about Him. Shaul’s prayer was for himself, but God turned it into something that gave the glory where it belonged- to God.

God always hears, God always answers, and the answer is rarely what you expect or when you expect it. But it is always perfectly suited to help you and to glorify God. So, keep praying. Just because you don’t get the answer you want or expect doesn’t mean He didn’t answer you. It may be ,”Yes, but not yet”; it may be, “No. Now stop bothering me.”; and it may be, “As you request, it shall be done.”  And when we pray in Yeshua’s name we will receive what we ask for, SO LONG AS what we ask for is in God’s will and glorifies God. If you pray in Yeshua’s name to win the lottery, don’t be disappointed if you don’t, and don’t blame God. Winning the lottery isn’t what God is about. However, if you pray for salvation for yourself or someone else, God will listen, and He will answer.

I pray every day for the salvation and reconciliation of my children with God, and Donna and I, and that we will be a family centered on God. I know that God will answer my prayer by giving my children every possible opportunity to come to Him, but in the end, it is their choice. God will not force someone to ask for salvation. I pray in Yeshua’s name for the salvation of my wife and children, but they have to choose it. God will answer me, I faithfully trust that He will send angels of mercy to them, that He will make sure they have every opportunity to recognize Him, His work in their lives, and that He will protect them from evil, both physical and spiritual. And I know that He hears and He is answering this very moment, but since they have to choose, if they never come to salvation it is not because God didn’t hear and answer my prayer.

Make your prayers “God-worthy” by keeping them in line with God’s plan for you, as best as you understand what it is. And keep praying- you never know what the answer may be or when the answer will come, but if you pay as close attention to what God is doing in your life as you want Him to pay attention to your prayer, I believe that you will, eventually, see the answer.

Whatever it is.

Prophet or Psychic?

Necromancy is strictly forbidden by God. The dead are dead and we are to leave them alone. Remember how much trouble King Shaul got into when he called up the spirit of Shmuel? Not a very happy “seance reading” when the spirit you call up says that you will be joining it for dinner, is it?

Below is a list of Wikipedia’s definition of what “psychic powers” are composed of:

  • Apportation – Materialization, disappearance or teleportation of an object.
  • Aura reading – Perception of energy fields surrounding people, places and things.
  • Automatic Writing – Writing produced without conscious thought.
  • Astral or Mental Projection- An out-of-body in which an astral body becomes separate from the physical body.
  • Bilocation or multilocation – Being in multiple places at the same time.
  • Clairvoyance or Second Sight – Perception outside the known human senses.
  • Death-warning – A vision of a living person prior to his or her death.
  • Divination- Gaining insight into a situation, most commonly through a ritual
  • Dowsing- Ability to locate objects, sometimes using a tool called a dowsing rod.
  • Energy medicine- Healing by channeling a form of energy.
  • Faith healing- Diagnosing or curing diseases using religious devotion.
  • Levitation- Bodily levitation and flying.
  • Mediumship or channeling – Communicating with spirits.
  • Precognition, premonition and precognitive dreams – Perception of events before they happen.
  • Psychic surgery- Removal of diseased body tissue via an incision that heals immediately afterwards.
  • Psychokinesis or telekinesis – The ability to manipulate matter by the power of thought.
  • Psychometry or psychoscopy – Obtaining information about a person or object, usually by touching or concentrating on the object or a related object.
  • Pyrokinesis – Manipulation of fire.
  • Remote viewing – Gathering of information at a distance.
  • Retrocognition or post-cognition – Perception of past events.
  • Scrying- Use of an item to view events at a distance or in the future.
  • Telepathy- Transfer of thoughts or emotions in either direction.

There are 22 different psychic powers here. Some we read about in the Bible as being revelations from God, such as predicting the future (this is, in fact, one of the tests of whether or not someone is a true prophet), healing, and astral projection (being lifted up in the spirit, such as Daniel was.)

Talking to the dead is also included. On TV there is a show called the Long Island Medium, and she seems like a nice person, but her life is devoted to telling people that her psychic powers allow her to channel and talk to their dead loved ones. Are you wondering why am I concerned about a TV show with a lady who can talk to the dead?  After all, we also have ghost chasers and survival experts now searching for BigFoot (you would think searching for food would be hard enough!) on TV, so why worry about a medium?

It’s because I see this as just another “nail in the coffin” to Godly spirituality in our society. TV is so prevalent and consumes so much of our children’s time (and our own, as well), not to mention that humans will believe anything if they hear it said enough times, that whatever is heard or seen on TV is sure to become a fact to many people. Think about conversations you have with people- how many talk about a TV character as if it were a real person?

This TV medium, from the little I have caught having to watch the commercials, seems to always tell people exactly what they want to hear. I never see her say that, “Your Dad said he is glad that he is dead- now he doesn’t have to hear your whiney voice anymore.”, or “Your husband says he is in eternal suffering and can hardly wait for you to join him.” No…it seems that all she says to people is how their parents or friends loved them and are watching over them and are happy now. It’s all happy-happy, lovey-dovey heavenly stuff. But the Bible tells us differently, doesn’t it? Aren’t we told that only a few are chosen? That the gate is narrow? That there will only be a remnant? How is it that this medium only finds the few, happy and blessed people? If you were to say maybe she is in “touch” only with those that are in heaven, the ones that are Yeshua’s sheep, then why would those people, being followers of Yeshua, even allow her to contact them, since what she does is strictly forbidden by God?

The Bible is clear: a true prophet will tell us what God wants us to know. In my opinion, those who are psychically channelling the dead are telling us only what we want to hear, and doing that in order to get us to accept their sinfulness as proper and, thereby, trap us into sinning, also.

What God tells us is proper in His eyes almost always seems to be the opposite of what the world tells us we should do: God says love others and take care of them, the world says watch out first for Numero Uno. God says to worship Him and the world says to worship money, material things, sports stars, celebrities and fancy cars. God says to love one another in a holy and faithful way while the world says sex out of wedlock is not only acceptable, but practically expected.

All I am trying to say in this Drash is that you need to be aware of what is happening around you- be sensitive to your surroundings and don’t believe what you hear on TV or in the newspapers. And never, never, NEVER believe what someone tells you about God without checking it out in the Bible for yourself. I am amazed, although not surprised, at how lazy people are, even when it comes to their eternal soul. I mean, really? You are going to watch a TV show about who Jesus “really was” and take that as gospel instead of reading the real Gospel? Or see a movie that says Moses and Rameses were brothers? We really don’t know which Pharaoh was the one that ruled when Moshe went back to Egypt. In fact, Moshe was 80 years old when he went back and the average lifespan for a human back then was much less than that, so there is little reason to even think that the Pharaoh Moshe went to was the one he knew when growing up.

We need to be aware of what we are hearing, what we read, and especially what our children are exposed to. In order to make sure they grow up knowing what they need to know to protect them from falling into the traps of the Evil One, we need to know the truth, first, and we need to know what they are being told. The only way to get your kid to tell you about their day is to wait until they are adults (just joking): seriously, the way to get our kids to communicate with us is to communicate with them. Have dinner together without TV, without the I-Phone and without interruption. Talk to them as you would talk with another adult and allow them to talk as they feel comfortable (watching the language, of course) so they can feel that what they say is important to you. And it should be- they are telling you how to raise them, what to teach them and how to protect them. I think it is more important to listen than to speak when dealing with our children (not that I am any better at this than anyone else: in fact, my kids don’t even talk to me anymore.)

Salvation is from faith and trying to follow what God tells us to do; eternal suffering is from the Enemy telling us what everyone else is doing and that we should be like them. God on one side, Satan on the other, and us in the middle.

That’s why we need to watch every step we take and stay focused on the right path.