Why I Get Angry Playing Golf

Before I start today’s message I am excited that later today Donna and I will get to see Avengers: Endgame. I promise no spoilers in my next message.

 

 

Now for today’s message.

I play golf in a league on Monday (9 holes) and a full game (18 holes) on Wednesday. I get to play with the same guys on both days.  I too often get really angry with myself when I screw up a shot (or maybe more like two or three in a row) and would like to say that this explosive anger I demonstrate is not typical for me in the other areas of my life. Normally, I am pretty patient with most things. Golf, however, gets under my skin in an instant, and before I know it I am thrown out of the cart, and my evil, twin brother Skippy takes over my game.

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Shaul (Paul) tells us in Ephesians 4:26 that we should not sin in our anger. The anger he is talking about is not being pissed off when I follow a great drive with a duffed chip. That is not the kind of anger that Shaul was talking about; however, that doesn’t justify throwing a club, or (what I have forced myself to do instead of throwing the club) wham my golf bag with the club.

Yesterday I bought some cookies and placed them in a pocket of my golf bag for the turn-around. During the front nine, I got angry at messing up and swatted my bag a few times. When I went to eat the cookies, I discovered that I had smashed the cookies and now had a bag full of crumbs. Karma.

I have prayed, really I have, asking God to help me to take away this stupid, energy-wasting anger, but he hasn’t really done anything. Not that he should, because this is something that I do and therefore is something I need to stop doing. My golf buddies understand, and they are all much better at maintaining their composure than I am. That just makes me feel even worse about myself.

So why do I get so mad when the way I am playing golf is the way I should be playing golf? I mean, really- I am not on the PGA tour and never will be. I am a Bogie-plus golfer (that means I will normally score one or two strokes over the par for a hole), so my normal score for 18 holes is in the mid-nineties. Most of the time I will get mad, then relax, then get mad, then relax and do this during the game, and at the end find out my score was what it should be after 18 holes. It then I have to ask myself: what did I get so mad about? I played my normal game!

Here is where God helps me: he uses that still, quiet voice talking to me in the back of my head telling me the reason I get mad is that I am prideful. I think I should be a better golfer than I am, and I know I can be, so when I am not doing as well as I think I should, my pridefulness takes over and I get frustrated (at myself) and that results in anger.

Right now my friend Frank is bobbing his head up and down in agreement with me (aren’t you, Frank?)

So, nu?  Now that I know what the problem is, I should be able to fix it, right?  WRONG!!

Knowing what is wrong is a good start, but that is all it is- a good start. I know where to begin walking humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), but how far can I walk humbly before I backslide? With people I can go miles and miles…with golf, not much past the third hole!

Here’s the worst part…I know it is only a game! My life will not change if I score over 100, or if I score under 90. I’m sure if I don’t get mad my friends will feel less intimidated and I will feel much better if only I can get a handle on this anger thing. I do NOT want to manage it- I want it to go away, completely!

I always pray for self-control, and God keeps telling me this is something I need to learn on my own. I understand that- it isn’t that God isn’t willing to help me, but he won’t do it for me. God has taught me that I must find the strength to overcome my sinfulness, and I can do that by calling on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) NOT to change me, but to remind me I need to change and to warn me when I start to wander off the path of righteousness.

It all comes down to Free Will- our God-given right to choose. I can choose to get mad or I can choose not to get mad. God leads me, he shows me the way, he tells me how to act and instructs me what to do. But in the end, I am responsible for my actions and that is why God will not control me. The same goes for you.

Our God is a God of action: he wants us to walk with him not sit around waiting for him to do it for us. If I want to be less prideful I need to walk in humility- I need to keep myself in check, and I need to remember to work on it. God will help me by reminding me, by having people in my life help me, and by letting me screw up and embarrass myself so (maybe) I will think twice the next time before I do the same, stupid thing again.

I don’t think I am the only person with trouble managing anger in one way or another, and I am thankful that I lose control mostly only with my golf game.  But that is no excuse to allow it to continue.

What makes you angry? Is it godly or is it prideful? We all, each of us, need to ask ourselves this question when we feel the rage starting; and then we must try to stop it before it is noticeable. This is what I have to do more earnestly for myself, and I will still pray for God to help me.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just don’t get mad. If only it was really that easy.

Thank you for being here, please don’t forget to subscribe to this ministry, and use the link above to please subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.

I welcome comments, suggestions, and even disagreements- all I ask is that you be nice.

L’hitaot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Having Control Doesn’t Always Mean Being in Control

Sorry- no video today.

I have spent the majority of my working life in charge of people. Sometimes it was only a handful of people, like when I had 7 people working for me processing securities for a major New York City bank. We were responsible for making sure some $60 Billion every day went where it was supposed to go.  When I was in the Marine Corps I was a Company Executive Officer, and at that time I was responsible for 365 men and millions of dollars of equipment.  And over the years, I have had management positions in and out of sales and banking. I finished my last 10 years or so in IT and I was happily not in charge of anyone.

What does this have to do with today’s message? It is the important lesson I learned while managing others: even when you are in charge and in control of what happens, sometimes you have to give up control so that others can learn how to be in control.

I once asked God to remove any lustful thoughts from my mind. Now wait a minute! I wasn’t some sleazeball leering at every girl that walked by; really, I wasn’t. I was trying to not look at all- you know, do what Job said he did (Job 31:1.) And after praying for God to excise this part of my brain, the answer came to me as a small voice in the back of my head.

The answer was, “It doesn’t work that way.”

Huh? I am praying for something that is a righteous prayer, something that will help to make me holier and I am praying in the name of Yeshua ha Maschiach- I have filled in all the blanks, answered all the questions and even should get extra credit for using the Hebrew name! Why won’t you just do it?

Again, an answer came: “Because if I do it for you,  you won’t learn how to accomplish the hard things you need to do.”

God is in control of everything, but in this case, as with my own work experience, he ceded control to me. He left control up to me so that I could learn a valuable lesson- how to exercise and strengthen my self-control by listening to and obeying the Ruach Ha Kodesh.

There have been many people who reject God because of some trauma in their lives. They cannot reconcile that a loving, compassionate God would allow such bad things to happen to them. They do not understand that God’s love is not like human love. Most of the time human love is more destructive than helpful. We dote upon each other, we overly protect our children from emotional and physical pain. When parents do not teach their children the hard lessons of life they are not preparing them to survive in a fallen and cursed world. This is why there is such a feeling of victimization in the younger generations: “It’s not my fault”, “Society caused this”, or “My parents made me this way.” No accountability, no responsibility. And why is this? Because they were not given control of themselves and , more importantly, they were not held accountable for what they did or said.

God will cede control of events and action to humans so that we can learn for ourselves how to be in control. You cannot teach someone how to lead if you never put them in a position of leadership. And the hardest part of this is allowing them to screw it up. Even when you know what they are about to do will not work, you still have to let them make the mistake because that is really the only way humans learn. It is exceptionally rare when someone is wise enough and has enough emotional maturity to learn from someone else’s mistakes.

Suffering and emotional hurt is something we all will experience during our lifetime. I don’t believe we ever get over really painful events, but we can get past them. To do that we need to have inner strength, and that only comes from regularly being exposed to life. It’s like when you want to have bigger muscles so you lift weights and do so to the point where you actually destroy (traumatize) the muscle. As it recovers, it adds more of itself so that it is able to handle more stress in the future. That is why people who constantly use their muscles have big ones.

God is absolutely in charge of and capable of controlling everything that happens…but he allows us to be in control of things so we can grow, spiritually and emotionally, into strong leaders and self-controlled saints of the Most High.

Don’t immediately blame God for bad things that happen in your life; if what happens is a wonderful blessing, then you can give credit to God and you should thank him. The world will not bless you so when the bad stuff happens, well….just look at it as a learning experience and grow from it. Look to and call upon the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to give you strength and guidance to get by.

One last point: a good manager will allow his or her people to get themselves into trouble as a learning experience, but not so much trouble that they cannot be pulled out of it. Trust in God to know best how much control he will cede to you; he will test you through fire so that the dross will be burned away, and even though you may think the fire is too hot you can always call on God for help.

Just like in Matthew 14:28-31, when Yeshua was walking on the water:

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

God will show us what we are to do, let us try it and if (and when) we start to sink, he will rescue us. He will give control over to us so we can learn to be stronger and holier.

That’s what good parenting is all about.

 

 

Being in Control Doesn’t Mean You’re Controlling Everything

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

 

How often do we proclaim that God is in control?

How many times (you don’t really have to count) does the Bible tell us that God is in control?

Yet, it seems that too many times we see things happening in the world that would indicate God is not in control. We see good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good ones.  We see mass murders, crimes go unpunished, people in positions of authority abuse that authority and no one does anything about it.

The writer of the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) asked about these things as well, and his conclusion was that nothing really matters- all our efforts are as useless as chasing the wind. His final statement is that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

With all due respect to the writer of Kohelet, I have the answer to why it seems God is not in control:

Being in Control Doesn’t Mean You’re Controlling Everything

I was in the business world for some 40 plus years and most of that time was in control of something: my own office, a department, a number of different departments, and anywhere from 12 to over 350 people at one time or another. And what I learned from that is when you are the one in charge, to develop your people and give them the skills and understanding that they need to improve themselves, you sometimes have to leave them in control and let them screw up on their own.

Of course, you don’t let them screw up anything really important, or anything that would cause harm to themselves or others, but just let them have their way with the little things and give them the chance to swim, or sink.

And always be there to fish them out if they need you to.

With God and humanity, it is the same. God is in control of everything- there is nothing he cannot do or make happen. But just because he can make anything happen doesn’t mean he will make anything happen. He will often leave us to our own devices to allow us to learn the important lessons we need to learn.

What are those lessons? Well, for one, we need to learn to depend on God and not on our own strength. What better way to do that then leave us alone to totally mess things up to the point where we have to call on him for help?

Another lesson we need to learn is patience, as in waiting on God for justice. What better way to do that than to allow evil to propagate and let us see it happen?

I like to say, “Proverbs 20:22 tells us, ‘Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.‘, and sometimes God actually let’s us see that happen.”

One of the most important lessons we need to learn is about forgiveness. How can we learn that unless someone hurts us?

God is unquestionably able to control everything that happens everywhere, but he doesn’t. He controls everything by not controlling everything and allowing us to control those things that will lead us to better understand God, his ways and our role in his plan of salvation.

Don’t let yourself be fooled by those that argue because of all the evil and wrong done in the world God doesn’t exist because if he did, he would not allow it. They just don’t understand how it works. They are trying to box God into their own understanding and desires and that will never work. God is so far above us that we cannot even imagine or ever understand his ways, and we shouldn’t be able to.

I once read that a God who can be understood by the mind of Man is not worthy of the worship of Man. I totally agree.

I am not all that upset when I see the evil that is being done in the world, but it is not because I like or condone it. Just like you, I would love to see evil excised from our lives but it ain’t gonna happen until God is ready to take out his righteous vengeance on the nations.  My response to evil is not apathy, but trusting confidence that God will render justice when he is ready, and that his justice will be perfect.

I know that God will let me control whatever things he puts in my power to control, and as long as I try to let God lead me I know he is there waiting to catch me if (and when) I mess up.

 

Without God There Cannot Be Free Will

Free Will and Predestination are two of the topics that we hear about a lot in “religious” discussions. They are considered polar opposites, since one states we can make up our own minds and the other says we have no choices since everything that will happen throughout our life is already set in stone.

These discussions are usually between people who have one very important thing in common- they believe in God.

What about those that are unsure, or reject the existence of God? Many of the Atheists and Agnostics I have talked with seem to have the belief that they are in charge of their lives- no one makes them do anything, no superior entity or power rules their life. They are in charge of their destiny!

Let’s work with that idea for a moment: if there is no God, no all-powerful, all-knowing eternal presence in the Universe that created and formed everything, then where did it come from? It must have been created randomly, by trillions upon trillions of chaotic collisions between sub-atomic particles that, every now and then, resulted in some newly formed atom, which banged into another atom that was electrically compatible, which banged into another, until eventually there were enough compatible atoms to form something. A planet, a rock, flesh, whatever- eventually, out of total chaos, you get enough random collisions between enough things (let’s throw in some climatic events, just for fun) and Viola! We have the Universe as we know it today.

If this is how we were created, the universe and everything in it, all the life-forms, the stars, etc., then everything that is, or will happen, also has to result from the same process, right? That means there is no control at all, from the sub-atomic level all the way up to making personal choices. Everything that happens is from randomness, which excludes any means of control. Therefore, if someone rejects God, that person rejects (at the same time and for the same reason) the idea that they have Free Will, that they can control their life, or that they can form their own destiny. They can’t because everything that happens is based on a random event.

However, if we accept that there is a God, an all-powerful, all-knowing spiritual entity that created everything and is in total control, we can have Free Will. That’s because God makes the choices about what happen, and all He has to do is decide to allow us to have the right to decide what we will do. The good news for those that want to be in total control of their lives is this: God does give us Free Will. More than that, when we need or want something, and we ask God to help us, if what we want is keeping in His will for us then we have the most powerful ally anyone could ever want to help us get what we ask for. Isn’t that the epitome of self-control? To have the ability to get what you want? There isn’t anything that is or might ever be that God cannot give to you.

And because God grants you Free Will if you choose to reject Him, He will let you, although that means you will be left with no means of control over anything because God will not interfere with your life. Well, maybe that’s not exactly accurate…God will interfere, in a subtle way, to help you find Him and come to Him- but only of your own free will. He will send angels of mercy (human and spiritual) to help you when you are in need, or He will allow terrible things to occur when you go off in the wrong direction, to humble you to the point where your prideful desire to be in total control is weakened enough to seek out His help. He might block you to prevent you from doing harm to yourself, or He may allow it, but He will always intercede with opportunities for you to change your mind. It is sort of like He might give you a little nudge in the right direction, but He won’t grab you by the ear and pull you where you don’t really want to go.

So, there you have it. For those that want to be in charge of their own life and reject the belief in God or a supernatural power that controls everything, what I say to you is: “Good luck! Let me know how that works out for you.”

Actually, don’t bother letting me know because I know already how it will end up.

Hopefully, those that think they are in control and reject God will feel that nudge and accept the leadership of the Lord so that they can, through God’s total control, finally have real control of their life.

having control doesn’t mean being in control

Anyone who believes that God is the Supreme Being who created the Universe, and who created life on Earth, and who has done all the things we read about in the Bible doesn’t have any problem also believing that He is in charge of everything. Believers believe that God controls everything.

Or does He?

My answer is: no, He doesn’t. Not that He can’t, just simply that (I believe) often He just chooses not to.

You see, being in control of everything doesn’t mean that you are controlling everything.  The word we use for this phenomena is: delegation.

When we read the stories in 1 and 2 Kings we see how God uses other rulers, such as Pharaoh (a couple of them throughout the ages) and Nebuchadnezzar, for example, to be His means of punishing the Israelites for their rebellion and idol worship. God sent them, so He was in control, but He also punishes them afterwards for their unusually cruel, sadistic and self-centered actions when doing His work. So, if God is in total control all the time, and he sends “Nebbie” to kick Tzidkiyahu’s tuchas, why punish Nebbie for just doing what he was supposed to do?

According to the bible it was because of what Nebbie did that he wasn’t supposed to do, by (as I mentioned above) being extraordinarily cruel and later thinking himself higher than God. So God was in control of what He wanted to get done, but He delegated the means and ways of doing it to Nebuchadnezzar, who did what he wanted to and not what God sent him to do.

God was in control, in that He sent the army against Israel to punish them, but He wasn’t controlling what happened because He gave that control to Nebuchadnezzar.

We can see this in the story of Job: God delegated authority to Satan to do harm to Job, but He was still in control in that He limited what level of harm was allowed.

We see this in the story of Shaul ben Kish (Saul, the first King of Israel), in that God caused Saul to prophesy even when he was unwilling to do so, yet Shaul did many things wrong, which caused God to take control back and appoint David as King.

We see this in the story of Yeshua (Jesus) at the rock in Gethsemane,  who prayed that He be delivered (if possible) from what was going to happen to Him. God could easily have stopped that whole affair, but He delegated the authority to Pilate and allowed the slaughter of His son to take place. God had control over it all, but He let the people be in control of the events.

Jonah was called, then he took control and ran away; God took control back and sent a storm (which was destroying the ship.) Eventually, Jonah took back control of the situation and sacrificed himself to save the others on the ship. God took control and sent the fish to save Jonah, and left the rest up to Jonah. It was Jonah who ultimately made the decision to go to Nineveh- if not, he might still be there today, trying to get a good cell signal from the belly of that fish. God called Jonah, Jonah took control and fled, God took control back and sent the storm, Jonah took control back and saved the ship and crew, God controlled the fish to let Jonah think about it for three days. Again, God controlled events just enough to let Jonah decide; God gave Jonah control of his own decision.

How many times do we hear this question, “Why do bad things happen to good people, and how can God allow that to be?” The answer is because we live in a cursed world and bad things happen. God is in control; yet God has said He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, alike (Matthew 5:25.) He also said that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy (Exodus 33:19.) What that means (to me) is that God is in control but He chooses not to control everything that happens.

We have free will, mainly so that we can decide to worship God; if God controls our will, then we can’t choose to worship Him, and that is NOT what He wants from us. God will often (as we see above) control the periphery of our life, make things happen that lead us to a decision, but ultimately we are in control of what decision we make. Who knows how many people over the millennia God has called to do His work but at the last minute they decided not to. God could have made them, but He didn’t, and because He is in control, total control, He called someone else until the plan God had was accomplished. This is what Mordecai meant when he told Hadassah (Esther) in the Book of Esther 4:14:

 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish: and who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

This is the same position every one of us finds ourselves in, every moment of every day: maybe we are here for a purpose we aren’t aware of, and standing on the precipice of being able to do something wonderful that will, maybe one day, affect all mankind?

If only I knew what the heck that was!!

God is in control of everything, which is the very reason why He doesn’t have to control everything. Whatever He wants to happen will happen, but it is up to each of us to do our part of that plan, to meet and accept the calling God has for us. I don’t know what that is for me- maybe this blog? Maybe my book? Maybe my position at the Zionist Revival Center here in Melbourne? I really don’t know, but I am trying to keep my ears open and my eyes open to see and hear His calling on my life. I don’t want to “pull a Jonah” when the opportunity comes.

Do you see how God has influenced your life? The times He took control and the times He allowed you make your own choice? We can be confident that God’s plan for salvation is true and will be accomplished, in fact, already has been accomplished through Messiah Yeshua. We can also be confident that whatever God wants to happen will happen. The only thing we can’t have any real confidence in is ourselves, and you are the final ingredient in God’s recipe for the calling in your life.

Don’t screw up the stew- keep looking for the opportunities to do God’s work that He will place along the pathway as you walk through this life, and when you see them, choose to do God’s work. God is in control, and he is letting you control what you do.

Choose to do what pleases Him.

 

 

Why People Reject God

It’s all about control. Well, that’s what I believe. If you have a different reason click the Comment button and please share with us.

But it really is all about control. The world teaches us, from Day One, that we should take care of Numero Uno (this being a Messianic blog, I should use the term מספר אכד) and that we should be allowed to make our own choices. The world teaches us to learn to be self-sufficient and rely on no one but ourselves. The world teaches us that we can’t trust anyone.

God teaches us that we need to depend on Him. God teaches us that we should be trusting in Him and all our hope is in Him. God teaches us that we do have the right to make our own choices, but whereas the world teaches us to blame others for what we do, God tells us that we will be held responsible for what we do.

God gives us more control than the world does, in truth, because He is in total control of everything, and everything He does is for your own good. God always does what is best for us, even when we don’t want Him to. So, naturally, when we allow Him to be in control we have the only One who can control everything acting on our behalf.

God does what is best for you, and the world does what is best for the world.

Yeshua said that we all are slaves to something, and that no one can be slave to two masters. That’s what I mean when I say it is all about control- people reject God because they are told (and they want) to be in control of themselves. It is clear from the Bible that to accept God, accept Yeshua (Jesus) as your Messiah and to accept the Grace He provided to us we need to let God be in control. And that goes against everything that “humanity” teaches.

Yet, giving total control to God is the most sensible thing anyone can do. One person against the world is a losing proposition before it even gets off the table. And trusting people who only trust and care about themselves is like walking into traffic with your eyes closed. God, on the other hand, loves us more than we can love anything, and He is always there. The Lord never slumbers, He never sleeps, He is everywhere, all the time, and He can make anything happen with a thought. Yeshua told us (as do the Prophets) that God is a loving God whose love endures forever. That love is not for Himself, but for you and for me. He will do whatever needs to be done (and He can do whatever needs to be done!) to protect and help you. Even if that means giving you a good slap upside your head to get you back on the right track.

When it comes down to it, the choice we all have, and the one we all have to make whether we know we are making it or not, is to choose our Master: it will be God, or it will be the enemy of God, hidden to us in worldly desires and advice.

Know this: when you choose, if it ain’t God, it’s Satan. That is the truth that people reject as quickly and as adamantly as they reject God. They reject that God is in charge and they also reject that Satan is the only other option as a Master. They miss the boat and jump off the dock at the same time.

We do have a choice but there are only two choices: God or Satan. That’s what it boils down to.

I have chosen God and I love the way Joshua puts it to the people of Israel in Joshua 24:15:

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

I think this is how we should put it to everyone we minister to: you have a choice, and you are held responsible for that choice. The world teaches us to play the blame game, and that when we do something we shouldn’t it is society’s fault, or that someone should have done something to prevent it. God doesn’t fall for that line- you do it, it’s your fault. You don’t do it, it’s your fault. It’s not because of the way your parents raised you, it’s not because of the neighborhood you grew up in, and it’s not because of the government. They all can have a part in making the decisions you make, but you have to overcome the bad, you have to overcome the problems, and you have to make the right decisions because you are going to be held responsible at the last Judgement! 

So, make you decision because it is your choice. Choose the gods of your ancestors, choose the pantheon of gods in the world today (TV, sports, drugs, work, social media), or choose the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Remember it boils down to God or Satan: Satan wants your eternal soul to suffer with his, and God wants your eternal soul to enjoy Paradise with Him.

When you look at it that way, which is how it is, it makes you wonder why anyone would reject God.

It’s all about control.

There’s no such thing as “waiting in God’s will”

The great American humorist, Will Rogers, is known to have said:

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

The same is true when doing God’s will. God’s timing is perfect- no one ever really argues that point, but yet how many times do we hear someone (maybe even ourselves?) saying something to the effect of, “Well, I am pretty sure that is what God wants me to do but I am waiting for Him to tell me when to do it.”

Yeshua said that we know how to tell the signs of the weather but we don’t know how to read the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3).

When God gives you a calling, it isn’t for you to consider or to think about. It is a calling, it’s a thing to do, it is an action not a notification. If you are waiting for a sign when it should be done, you’ve already missed it: God doesn’t tell us to do something later.

When He told Abraham to leave Ur, it wasn’t for a later date. When He told Moses to go to Egypt, it wasn’t something for him do after the holidays. When God told Joshua to attack Jericho, he wasn’t supposed to send invitations. When God told Jeremiah to buy the field, He meant now.

The only thing that God delays is His judgement, and we should be very thankful for that delay. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really proven to make a difference. Shomron and Judea both had plenty of time to get their act together, but eventually all that extra time God gave them didn’t help.

The parashah this past Shabbat and for the next two Shabbatot covers the plagues upon Egypt. Last Shabbat Moses received his calling, and (as you probably know) he wasn’t too anxious to do it. He hemmed and hawed, and nearly got himself killed by God on the way to Egypt with his delaying. Moses certainly is an example of hearing God’s call and not heeding it right away. But, he did go, and although he had a slow and stumbling start, he continued to listen to God. And as he did more and more of what God directed him to do, he got stronger in his spirit and more confident in his ability to accomplish God’s plan. By the time Moses had been leading the people for years, he was strong in spirit, confident in his actions, and able to lead a multitude of people through a desert. Imagine: only a few years earlier he told God he wasn’t the man for the job. Guess God was right, after all. Duh!

Our God is a god of action, not a god of sitting around and waiting. As the title says, there is no such thing as waiting in God’s will- it is walking in God’s will; it is being in God’s will; we are to be acting in God’s will.  We are to be, to act, to walk, to serve…all of these are action verbs. We are not to be idle, or waiting, or planning, and we are certainly not supposed to be waiting for a sign when we hear God telling us what to do.

When God tells us to do something, He means NOW! The “sign” that God is ready to help us is that He has told us what to do. When God is ready to use us as His vessel, He will let us know what His will is. That’s when we do it. Not later, not when it is a better time (there’s no time like the present, right?) and not when we feel “ready” in our own timing.

I believe, and I will speak for myself here, that I am never going to be ready to do God’s will when I hear Him call me. I am just that confident in my own inability. But that’s OK. In fact, that is what it should be. Moses wasn’t ready, but he was divinely enabled when did as God directed. God’s the quarterback, God’s the pilot, God’s controlling what happens so we don’t need to ask for the fleece to be wet or dry, we just need to do what God tells us to do when we hear Him tell us to do it.

No one is ever really “ready” to do God’s will: are you? You may be willing to do it, you may want to do it, but are you ready? That would imply that you are already filled with all the spirit, the Ruach, that you need. When I read the bible, it seems to me that every disciple of God, from Abraham all the way to the 12 Talmudim of Yeshua, gained their spiritual strength after they started to do what God called them to do. Abraham lied about Sarah to protect his life- not very trusting of God, is it? And he did it twice! And so did Isaac. Jacob sent gifts to appease Esau. Moses needed Aaron to go with him. Gideon threw the fleece before the Lord. Saul hid when called to be anointed as king (Saul’s a good example of what happens when you constantly refuse to follow God’s calling), Elijah hid from Isabel and asked God to kill him, Jonah…well, we all know about Jonah. Kefa (Peter) walked on the water but immediately lost faith, Judas betrayed Yeshua, Shaul (Paul) had to get knocked off his “high horse” to see the truth.

All these biblical characters, all of which did great things when walking in God’s will, still all had to be discipled by God, they had to be taught to draw on His Ruach HaKodesh, they had to “learn the ropes”, so to speak, and none of that started until they began to walk in God’s will and do as He commanded them.

We will never be ready to do God’s calling in our life. God knows that, and I don’t really think He even wants us to be “ready” because He will teach us all we need to know. What God expects is that we are willing to go when called. And don’t worry about what to say (Luke 12:11), don’t worry about what to eat or wear or about where you will sleep (Psalm 37:25) and don’t worry about your safety (Psalm 118:6).

My biggest fear in my spiritual life is that I will hear God’s calling for me, clearly and undeniably, and I will fail to move. I will create excuses, as I already have in many ways, and I am most afraid that I may miss doing as He called me to do because I was waiting to be ready.

Do you remember reading in the bible about those people whom God called to do wondrous works in His name but didn’t? That’s right- there aren’t any. That’s the point!

God has a plan for all of us- listen for it, be willing to follow God’s lead, and don’t ever expect to be ready to do what He calls you to do. That’s what walking in faith is all about- we can’t see where we’re going, we don’t know what is waiting for us, and we know there isn’t anything we can do to control what is going to happen. But because God is calling us and leading us, we faithfully know that whatever is going to happen will be controlled by God.

As it says in Romans 8:31…if God is for us, who can be against us?

 

Parashah Noach (Noah) Genesis 6:9 – 11:32

Who hasn’t heard the story of “The Flood?” It has been told over and over, movies made about it (mostly dreck, stupid Hollywood fodder, fit only to be burned) and most every major civilization has a similar story. They have found evidence of a tremendously wide-spread flood in the Middle East (some 6 feet of clay layered at a level approximate to the time of the flood), and multiple sightings of an “ark” on Mt. Ararat.

Archeologists that search for the Ark are looking for it to prove the bible story to be true. They are like Indiana Jones, seeking the Ark of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail.

The world rejects God, and at the same time, it wants proof that He exists and that the bible is true. And what’s even scarier than that conundrum is that I understand why! It’s because we know that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn’t true. The truth about God, that He exists, that He is going to judge us all and that Yeshua is the Messiah He sent to allow us to escape the judgement we deserve and all we need to do is call on His name to be saved (of course, you still have to work at it), well…it just sounds all too good to be true.  Where’s the catch?

The catch is that although it is true salvation is yours simply for the asking, it is hard to keep.  It will require you to suffer, to lose friends, family and maybe even your life. You must devote yourself to changing your attitude and your actions, and you will be attacked by the enemy every time you draw closer to God. Your life will be more difficult, but with the help of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and the never-ending love and support of God to bring you through things, your life will be richer, more fulfilling and you will be blessed more than you could ever imagine. And even better, because you will have God’s spirit and a new outlook, you will receive and appreciate the blessings you get, which most people who don’t know the Lord can’t really understand, so they don’t feel the fullness of joy that God’s blessings bring. Oh, yes, there’s one more thing…salvation through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is the best retirement plan the universe offers.

So what value is there in proving the flood story to be true? As far as I am concerned, regarding salvation, proving the flood to be a real-life event will not matter at all. Oh, there may be a few people who will “convert” to some form of Born Again realization, but they are probably going to be like the good seed on poor soil. The word of God never returns void, but it does rebound off many ears that are clogged with self-importance and (even worse!) wrongful teachings (i.e., religion.)

Salvation comes one way- through faith. If we prove God exists, if He shows Himself in majesty and splendor, that won’t make a big difference.

“Oh my Gawd!! How can you say that, Steve? God’s majestic presence shown to the world won’t make a big difference? What are you- nuts? Of course it will! It will prove He exists! It will be on YouTube and Twitter! Fox News will even show the video at 6 and 10! The world will see it and believe. Halleluyah!!!”

No, it won’t. How can I say that, so assuredly? Because we’ve seen it already. It’s proven every day that God exists; just look around. The entire nation of Israel saw His majesty and power on Mt. Sinai, they saw His cloud by day and His fire at night, they were given manna from heaven, they saw water come from rocks, they saw Elijah call fire from the sky at Mt. Carmel, they saw David defeat Goliath, they saw the Maccabee’s defeat the best army in the world, they saw the Son of God do miracle after miracle, and they have seen miracles since.

And we still don’t believe. So if God came from heaven and landed right on top of Mt. Carmel, the world would reject Him, still. That’s not my opinion, that’s what it says in Revelations. The bowls of wrath will be poured out on the earth, and people will curse God. In a way, cursing God is (at least) some form of recognition that He might exist, isn’t it? But it’s not accepting Him.

The flood is a wonderful story and has great value for those of us who want to know God better, and the history of His intercession in the lives of His creation. We can talk about how this was the first time people saw rain, how before the flood we were all, men and animals, herbivores but after the flood carnivores came into existence. We can recognize that even before God gave us the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) they were known to people, and how even before God told us in Leviticus not to eat the blood because the life is in the blood, He told Noach not to eat blood. We can trace the generations to see how Ham, being cursed to serve his brothers (and Shem assigned as the leader) has fathered those nations that historically have been the sworn enemies of the descendants of Shem, rebelling against the curse of their father, Noah, by attacking and constantly (to this day still) trying to destroy those that they are to serve.

All of this is interesting stuff, and valuable in understanding where we came from, which explains why things are as they are today.  We are (the United States, that is) interfering in a sibling rivalry that dates back to the Flood. It is not going to get better, it is going to get worse, and the longer we stay involved the more we will end up having to either get out, altogether (which we won’t) or take sides (which we will.) And when I read Revelations it says the entire world will come against Israel in the end days, so I think we can guess which side the US will end up on.

If you follow this blog you know I almost never get “political”, and I am not really trying to be so now. I am just saying that even the US, a long-time friend of Israel, will end up doing what God has said will be done. And when everything that the bible says will happen, happens- many will not believe but, in fact, be turned away from God. That’s right- God’s tribulations will not make more Believers but it will turn those who Believe to apostasy. Again, this isn’t my opinion- Yeshua tells us this will happen: read 2 Timothy 3, read Matthew 24:10, read Revelations and the churches that Yeshua says are failing to do as they should, and how in the last days most will turn away from the faith. Not some, not a lot, but most (this word may be different than ‘most’, depending on which bible interpretation you have.)

Faith is what saves us, faith comes from God (that’s in the bible, too) but it is up to us to work at strengthening our faith. And that is easier than you might think- in the same way we can see the proof of God’s existence we can strengthen our faith- just look around, observe what happens in your life and the lives of others, be open to accept that miracles are all around us, that happenstance and random chance could not ever have resulted in the unbelievable diversity of life that we have here on Earth, and that believing in God and being a slave to Messiah is not a crutch or a cop-out, but the smartest and most ‘freeing’ thing that anyone can do.

People want to feel that they are in control of themselves. I think that is one of the main reasons they reject God- they don’t want to cede control. The sad truth is that they are not, never have been, and never will be in control.  No one human being is in total control of his or her life, but God is in control of everything. If you want to be in control of anything, then you need to be working for the one that controls everything.

I’d be happy if I could just control my hunger, and even better, my tongue. I’m making progress, and that is only because I am asking God to help me.

Who’s helping you stay in control? If it isn’t God, it’s the enemy.  Forget about controlling anything, and just give in to faithful obedience to God. When you try to control things, it always gets screwed up, doesn’t it? C’mon, be honest! You know that we mess things up, all the time. Heck- we’re human. Screwing up is almost the definition of humanity. But God? Well, He doesn’t screw anything up. He is always in control, He always will get what He wants done, done. He is totally flexible, and eternally forgiving and merciful.

Follow God, let Him take the reins, and just faithfully believe. Forget archaeological evidence, forget scientific proof, forget needing to show anyone undeniable evidence that God exists. It’s been done, it’s been shown, and it hasn’t changed anything. Been there, seen that, didn’t even buy the T-shirt!

Just let God be the Boss, do as He says to the best of your ability, and dedicate yourself to being more of what God wants you to be. That’s all you need to do, that’s all you need to “control”, that’s all you will ever need to worry about. And if you do, you will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination!

Without Faith There is Only Fear

Scientists who claim that all life was formed by an accident, some coincidence of a random mixing of elements and environment, believe they are right. And, as we have accidentally became more physiologically advanced, we have also been told there is no guidance to the Universe, only the random interactions of different events. Now, as a result of believing that our entire existence is random and accidental, despite being at our highest level of intellectual power, we treat the theory of evolution as a fact, we worship not the God who created us but the science He created, and we wonder why there is so much fear ,discomfort, depression, anxiety, feelings of uselessness and lack of hope in the world.

How can we be so smart, and so stupid, at the same time?

There is a simple, obvious and understandable reason for the fear so many people feel, along with the insatiable need to be in control: it’s because we, as a species, need to know there is someone in charge who can manage this thing we call “life” better than we can, and we are told that He doesn’t exist.

Growing up as children, we tested the limits of our acceptable behavior and the limits of our bodies. We intrinsically trusted our parents to watch over us and keep us from going too far. As a baby we would fall right off our father’s shoulders, and never think for a second about harming ourselves because there was no doubt he would catch us. That’s what is missing in the world today- no one trusts God to catch them. In fact, too many people don’t even think God is in charge, or even that He exists.

And way too many people just don’t care.

It comes down to this: if there is no control in the Universe, if God is not the designer, creator, ultimately in control and able to save us whatever happens, then all we have left is ourselves to fight the world. Alone, empty-handed, and incompetent. No wonder people all so scared they soil themselves. Or smoke, or drink to excess, or do drugs, and practice any and all forms of hedonism.

If you don’t know the Lord and you want to, He is waiting for you. God wants to forgive you but you have to want it, too. You have to be willing to stop trying to control the world around you and let God take control of you. Fight the world from inside out, not the other way around, and that means you need armor and guidance. Our perfect coach is the Comforter, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that you will receive when you truly ask for it and are willing to accept it. And once you have this, you will be able to use the armor against the world that God provides for you (the inventory list is in Ephesians 6:10.)

President Roosevelt (Franklin, not Teddy) said that only thing we need to fear is fear, itself. That is one way of looking at it, and it makes sense in a world without God. But in my world, God is the one I look to for protection and guidance and salvation, and He is more powerful than anything, so I am not afraid of “fear” because He gives me a spirit of victory.

We all know someone (probably a lot of someones) who are ruled by fear- fear of loss, fear of the world, fear of  terrorism, fear of the weather, fear of the stock market, fear of change…they run their lives not by going forth boldly in trust and faithfulness, but by tip-toeing around every little thing that happens. And running scared whenever they hear a noise.

Fear of harming ourselves is instinctive, and it can be a healthy constraint that shows respect for the one who made us and gave us life, which is too precious to throw away foolishly.  However, fear should be used constructively, it should help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and we must control it. We should not let it control us.

God is in charge: He will make sure that you don’t have to deal with anything that you cannot handle, and even if you fall, He is there to catch you and help you get back on track. I always believed that failing is necessary to succeed, and if someone has never failed or never fallen on their face, then they have never tried to be better.

When we have accepted God’s grace, know His Messiah, and am empowered by the Ruach living inside of us, we can face the world confidently knowing that the one who formed it is on our side.

Hey, it’s easy to win when you are on the side of the one who makes the rules.