Why the Good Die and the Evil Live

One of the questions regarding the existence of God I often hear is “Why would God allow evil people to live long and thrive while so many good people die young?”

The answer I give isn’t hard to understand, but it’s a tough one to accept for a person who doesn’t have faith in God.

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

Before I give you my answer, I should say that I don’t have a lot of scripture to back this up and that it is based on my understanding of the nature of God.

I believe God has a purpose for everyone and a plan for their life. We are, each of us, allowed to do whatever we want to do so we can follow God’s plan for us or reject his plan and make our own. And even if we reject God’s plan for us, there is always an opportunity for us to change course, as I did when I was in my early 40s, which has led me to this ministry and writing the books I have written, and (best of all) by accepting God’s plan for me I was able to receive salvation and his Holy Spirit.

That is how I changed course, but most people do not accept God’s plan for them and do evil instead of good. So why does God allow that? It is because they still serve a purpose; what that purpose is we may not know or realize during our lifetime, but I believe, faithfully, that when someone refuses to do as God says, he will find a way to use their rejection of him to bring someone else closer to him.  We can see evidence of this in the Bible, many times when God used Pharaoh, the Philistines, and the kings of Assyria and Babylon to do evil things that brought the Israelites back to him.

So, if that explains why evil people are allowed to prosper, why do the good die so young, so often?

Again, I believe because God had a specific purpose and plan for them and once they have fulfilled that purpose, he calls them to their reward.

Remember, dying is only a sad thing for those of us left behind- for the ones who are saved by God’s grace and their belief in Messiah, they leave a fallen and cursed world to come into the eternal joy of God’s presence! Instead of being sad, we should rejoice in their victory.

But we are sad because we will miss them, and that is OK.

We all have a purpose and a part to play in God’s plan for humanity; often the ones who are godly suffer and die too soon while the ones who reject God, do evil, and abuse others are allowed to thrive and succeed in life.

This is where it becomes hard for those without faith or understanding of God to make sense of it all: the reason we are here, the reason for this existence, is to choose where we will spend eternity. Eternity is what matters, and God gives us enough time to choose where we will go after we die. That is why we often see good people die early- they’ve done what God wanted them to do.

The evil people get to live longer not as a reward, but because God is giving them extra time to change their decision.  That is part of what Grace is about- he will patiently allow evil people to continue in order to give them time to repent. God doesn’t want the evil to die in their sin (Ezekiel 18:23) so when we see evil thriving and think it unfair, in reality, they are doomed and running out of time to save themselves.

The answer to why evil people thrive and good people die young is that the evil ones need more time to repent, and the good ones have fulfilled their purpose and are receiving their reward of eternal joy.

When you think about it, the ones who die early have it better than the rest of us who have to stay behind and keep working.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, buy my books, and share these messages with others.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Does “Freedom in Christ” Really Mean?

I did a search on the Internet asking what freedom in Christ really means. Now, I know you can’t trust the Internet, but it does give us an idea of what others are being told.

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

One site said it means freedom from regulations and following rules. Another said it is freedom from being a slave to sin. Another said it was freedom to make our own choices (I thought we could do that anyway), and still, another said it is freedom to see things clearly.

The prevalent idea seems to be freedom from being under the curse of the law, which means freedom from sin since we are taught that Yeshua took our sins upon him when he was crucified.

All of these ideas have a grain of truth to them, but I think it is simpler than what they say. Yes, Yeshua made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins because he is the substitution for the animal we are commanded to bring to the temple in Jerusalem. God’s Torah states we cannot sacrifice to him anywhere other than where he places his name (Deuteronomy 12:13); when the temple was destroyed in 73 AD, Jews had no way to be forgiven of their sins.

Except through Messiah Yeshua.

Yeshua and his Disciples never taught that the freedom in Yeshua was the freedom to disobey. That is what the Enemy of God wants us to think; it is no different than the line he used on Eve (Genesis 3:4) when he told her, “you will surely not die“, and we all know how that turned out.  Anyone who teaches freedom in Christ means freedom from the law is working for the wrong guy.

I believe that the true freedom in Christ is simply and solely what the Bible tells us it is: freedom from the second death.

Isaiah 25:7-8 says:

On this mountain he will destroy the veil which covers the face of all peoples, the veil enshrouding all the nations.  He will swallow up death forever. Adonai Elohim will wipe away the tears from every face, and he will remove from all the earth the disgrace his people suffer.

which is referenced by Shaul in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 when he says:

When what decays puts on imperishability and what is mortal puts on immortality, then this passage in the Tanakh will be fulfilled: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and sin draws its power from the Torah; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah!

The freedom we have when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah is not so much freedom from our sins, but freedom from the spiritual consequences of our sins, which is the second death. All will die, and all will come before God for judgment. Those who do not have Yeshua as their Intercessor will have nothing more than their own righteousness to save them from eternal separation from God’s presence.

And we all know how righteous we are compared to what God wants from us: as Isaiah said, all our righteous deeds are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6.)

Yeshua did not free us from obedience to God; in fact, he reinforced everything that we are instructed to do in the Torah. What he did that was different was that he taught us the Remes, the deeper, spiritual understanding of the law.  The Pharisees only taught the P’shat, the literal meaning of the words, but Yeshua gave us a deeper, more spiritual and more intimate understanding of God’s instructions.

We still need to do as Yeshua did, which is to follow (to the best of our ability) the instructions God gave to all people that are in the Torah. We can’t be perfectly obedient, and that is why God sent the Messiah to us: through the Messiah, we can find freedom from the second death. We all sin and therefore we all deserve death, and ever since that day when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, without Yeshua, there is no forgiveness of sin.

The true meaning of freedom in Christ is that when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, we will be free from the spiritual consequences of our sins.

One last point and warning: being free from the spiritual consequence of our sins doesn’t mean we won’t suffer those consequences while we are still alive.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe if you haven’t done so, already. I welcome your comments and look forward to our next time together. Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How Should We Feel When Losing a Loved One?

The other day someone posted and asked, “How should a Believer handle the death of a parent?”

I am going to give my opinion, and if I think of a biblical passage I may use it, but for the most part, this is going to be more like an opinion piece than a message.

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

First off, when we are sad because someone who is close to us dies, it is a selfish thing. I have been to way too many funerals, and I don’t recall ever hearing anyone say how sad it is for the deceased person to be dead. We don’t cry because they are dead, we cry because we will no longer be able to have them in our lives.

Now, that probably isn’t a tremendously shocking or new revelation, so let’s add in the part about how a Believer should feel.

I believe that someone who knows the Lord and has accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah should be happy for the person who has died. They should celebrate that person’s death with thankfulness. Thankful for the presence they had in your life, and thankful for their (now) eternal presence with the Lord.

One exception to this is if the person who died was not saved. We can’t always know absolutely about the state of someone’s salvation because who knows what happens in those last seconds of life, between consciousness and death; but, in most cases, we can be pretty certain about whether or not they are saved.

Assuming that the deceased was saved, as a Believer we should put aside our own selfish desire to maintain the deceased’s presence in our lives and be thankful for the time we did have together. We should review the happy memories and joyfully remember things we did together.

Here is a biblical reference about how to approach the death of a loved one- do what Job did, and immediately give thanks to God. After all, God put you and that person together, so even though they are gone, you should be thankful for having known them.

It is normal to feel sad about the loss, but we should be able to overcome that sadness quickly if we concentrate on how happy they must be in the presence of God, Almighty, and seeing Yeshua face-to-face. Wow! Can you imagine how wonderful that must be?

Therefore, my response to the original question is that a Believer should be joyful when a loved one (who is saved) dies, and also feel thankful that you had that person in your life for as long as you did. Sadness will creep up on us because human nature is a selfish and self-centered thing, but the sadness can be replaced by joy when we think of their feelings instead of our own. That is something a Believer should be able to do for anyone, alive or dead, i.e. put someone else’s feelings ahead of our own.

For those who die and weren’t saved, but who we loved anyway, well…in that case, sadness probably is the proper feeling. Again, not so much for yourself, but for the one who has passed on and will have to face the final judgment without Yeshua as their intercessor. That is truly a sad thing.

Death is a part of life. In fact, life is really only a precursor to death. Think about it: we live for a relatively short time, but we are dead forever. When we think about that, we can answer another question, the age-old one, which is  “Why are we here?”

The answer is you are here to decide where you will spend eternity.

And since no one will never know how much time God will give them to make that decision, it is one that they should make as quickly as possible.

 

Thank you for being here and please don’t forget to subscribe.

I will be closing out the gofundme campaign to send Bibles, prayer shawls and other Bible study materials to three Messianic synagogues in Uganda by the end of next week. The link to donate is here:

Help Ugandan Messianic Synagogues 

So far I have barely enough to pay for the cost of mailing these things to them and will end up having to shorten their list of supplies, so if you haven’t donated, please give something. Every little bit helps, so please consider giving ten dollars, twenty, five, a thousand..whatever you feel led to give to help these newly Messianic people who want to know God better and learn to worship him as he said we should.

Thank you again for being here, share me out and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Let’s Talk End Times for a Moment

Thursday is usually a non-posting day for me, but after I did the Crossword Puzzle, Cryptogram, and finished reading the Comics (the only really worthwhile parts of the newspaper) I decided to check out the article about how some psychiatrists say that President Trump is exhibiting narcissistic, sociopathic behavior.

Last November I didn’t think Clinton or Trump were good choices, and the rest weren’t anything to “write home to Mommy” about, either. But I accepted what the country wanted. Of course, since last November all we have heard is that what we got is not what the country wanted but what Russia wanted. Oh wait! Maybe it isn’t what Russia wanted because both Clinton and Trump had secrets with Russia, or was that Obama? No, he was secretly a terrorist benefactor. Or was it…well, I am all confused now. Seems that the last couple of Presidents and presidential hopefuls are all in cahoots with someone, and all are working against the Constitution one way or another.

So I need to ask you: is this the sign of the times? Yeshua said that we know when the weather will be good or bad but we can’t read the sign of the times.

We have a political civil war raging, and racial hatred is rising at an alarming pace. Some of the country’s professional medical associations are now publicly discussing if the president is a narcissistic sociopath, and some of his own people are publicly saying they are concerned that Trump has full and unrestricted access to the nuclear codes, implying they think he might launch a nuclear attack against another country without consulting his Cabinet or Congress beforehand.

Sign of the times? So nu? … when do we start to hear people accusing Trump of being the Anti-Christ? Or has that already happened and I just haven’t heard it yet?

I have no answers, and I have no opinion on whether or not Trump is the Anti-Christ, or if he even wants to be (I doubt he does because I think he already considers taking that job as a step down from his current position.) I don’t have any answers, but I have absolutely no doubt that we are very close to entering the End Times, if not already in the initial phases.

The world is having climate issues (regardless of one’s position on Global Warming, the climate is worsening for whatever reason), hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and social unrest globally. Worldwide terrorism is rising at an alarming rate and the worst part of all this is that the world leaders are doing nothing to stop it. In fact, some are encouraging it by allowing immigrants into their country without concern for their own people’s safety!

Everyone today is a victim of one sort or another, and everything that is wrong is wrong because someone else made it that way. We are so irresponsible, individually, that when you buy a radio the warning label has to tell you not to use it in the bath or shower!  What’s up with that?

And the biggest sign I see is that while the world’s country’s are being attacked by Islamic terrorists from the inside, the United Nations constantly holds up Israel as the reason for this unrest. They accuse Israel of violating human rights, while at the same time ignoring the Arab diatribe about how Israel has no right to exist and all Jews should be killed. The world turns a blind eye to how the Arab countries teach their children (from kindergarten age and up) that it is not only legal and useful to kill Jews, but an honor, and the accelerating terrorism attacks throughout Europe and in America by Islamic terrorists is blamed on Israel!

The bible tells us that in the End Days the entire world will come against Israel; sign of the times?

I have to admit that I am scared. I am ready to fight for God, I am ready to suffer when I refuse to take the microchip, and I am ready to die today in order that I may live forever. I am ready, but I don’t want to see this happen to my loved ones. I don’t want to be separated from those I care about because they take the mark, and I know that most everyone in my life that I love or care about will be in that group. Anyone who says otherwise is putting blinders on their eyes. For me, one of the hardest things to live with is the knowledge that I will suffer, not so much physically as emotionally, when I see my loved ones come against me. And I know what they don’t; they are destroying their eternal soul, and while the suffering I go through is temporary, the suffering they will have to endure will be eternal. That tears me up inside, so I repress it and try to go on without thinking about it.

Sign of the times, my Brothers and Sisters…sign of the times.

I call on all Believers to go to Ephesians 6:10-18 and get into the habit of wearing your armor every day. Many are already used to wearing it, and for those that aren’t, it’s time.

Forget about Eschatological studies, forget about arguing who the Anti-Christ is or might be, and give up worrying about the fate of your loved ones because none of that will make any difference or help you. All that is left today, and going forward, is to wear the armor, double your efforts to show people how much better it is when you trust God instead of people (given the current political and social environment, we have a really good chance of people listening to us now) and prepare yourself for suffering.

Protect your heart, prepare your spirit, and toughen up!

Signs of the times.

 

Parashah Chaiyei Sarah (the Life of Sarah) Genesis 23-25

The end of the beginning, and the beginning of the promise happen in this Parashah. Abraham and Sarah, the beginning of the Jewish faith, both die in this parashah, and between the passing of Sarah and Abraham, Isaac is married to Rivkah (Rebekah) and it is through his progeny that we have the founding of both the 12 tribes of Israel and also the nations of the Arab people (In Gen. 25:23 God tells Rebakah she has two nations in her womb.)

The burial cave of Abraham is in Hebron, a very dangerous place for Jews to visit as the majority of Hebron is Arab controlled, with a few Jewish settlements. I have been told by people who have made multiple visits to Israel that, as sad as it is, a place so important to Judaism is so dangerous to see that most Jews going to Israel will not be able to visit it.

The Chumash (a “Chumash” is a commentary of the 5 books of Moses, the Torah, as well as the Haftarah readings.  The one I have is the Soncino edition, and was a present from my Reform Temple when I had my Bar Mitzvah) states that when Sarah died the blessings and pious customs of the Patriarch stopped, and were not re-initiated until Rebekah came into the tent. This is understandable because the wife is the one in charge of the household. The Father is the leader of the family, but the wife is, traditionally, the one who runs the house.

Here is an excerpt from the chabad.org website which describes the role of the Jewish wife (I bold printed explanations I have added):

She has been entrusted with, and is completely in charge of, the kashrut (ceremonial cleanliness) of the foods and beverages that come into her kitchen and appear on the dining table. She has been given the privilege of ushering in the holy Shabbat by lighting the candles on Friday, in ample time before sunset. Thus she actually and symbolically brightens up her home with peace and harmony and with the light of Torah and mitzvot (laws, as well as good deeds). It is largely in her merits that G-d (many Jews will not misuse God’s name, even in the spelling of it) bestows the blessing of true happiness on her husband and children and the entire household. This is the great task and mission which G–d gave to Jewish women – to observe and disseminate the observance of Taharat Hamishpachah (Laws of the Family) and of the other vital institutions of Jewish family life. For besides being the fundamental mitzvot and the cornerstone of the sanctity of Jewish family life, as well as relating to the well-being of the children in body and soul, these pervade and extend through all Jewish generations to eternity.

Too often we hear people tell of the misogyny of the bible, but in truth both in the New and Old Covenants, woman are respected and honored. The problem people have with the bible is the separation of the roles of men and women. That would be, in my opinion, like saying (I really don’t like sports analogies, but have to admit they often work really well) the pitcher of a baseball team should also play in the outfield, and the catcher should be allowed to pitch. If you are not familiar with baseball, this is a ridiculous thought, since each of these positions are unique in the skills needed. True, there may be someone talented enough to pitch well and play the outfield, but you can’t do both at the same time, or do both interchangeably and do each one well. The wife has her role, the husband his role, and when they work together they can achieve something impossible to achieve when everyone does the same thing- that is called synergy.  Synergy is defined as when the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

In my world, the world of technology, we need to have anti-virus programs to protect our data. However, if you have two anti-virus programs running simultaneously (both checking every single data stream, both reading through every file for something unusual, both tracking and dissecting every attempt to read or change anything on the hard drive), instead of having twice the efficiency, what happens is that you can’t get anything done! The computer resources are so over-worked that even opening a web site takes longer, editing a Word document takes a lifetime, and you end up with less productivity than if you had no anti-virus running at all. Now, if you have an anti-virus program and you supplement it with an anti-malware program, which doesn’t interfere with the anti-virus but adds to its effectiveness by checking things the anti-virus doesn’t, now you have a synergistic effect.

This is what we want in the Jewish home. Actually, in every home there should be the proper separation of roles that husband and wife play so they can show their children how well people can get along when they are different, have different things that they do, and work together as a team.

When Sarah died, a very important team member of the family was missing, so that role, that position on the field (so to speak), was left unoccupied. When Rivkah (Rebekah) joined the family (in Hebrew, family is “Mishpachah”) that role was again filled. Hence, the blessings that the wife provides within the family unit returned to Isaac and Abraham.

This is what is so wonderful about the bible- you read about Sarah dying and with the appropriate commentary and understanding of the cultural and historical context, you receive a message that is not directly given in the text. We read about Sarah’s death and then Isaac took his new wife into his mother’s tent, indicating that Rebekah took over the role of Sarah, and with that the family was once again made whole and the blessings available that are based on the role of the wife returned to the Patriarch.

How do you distribute the responsibilities in your home? Are they seen as a burden or as a blessing?  Does the husband help the wife and the wife help the husband, or do you both just do what you want to do? I clean the dishes because Donna usually does the cooking, and since I will be retiring at the end of this year I will be able to cook more often and when I do, Donna will clean up. Donna does most of the outside gardening, and I do most of the heavy lifting and work in the yard. We know that we each have our own duties to perform as a team, which doesn’t mean we always do the same things but that we do what we each need to do and work together to accomplish getting everything done; we each work within our best skill sets. It may not be “perfectly biblical” with regards to what we each do, but it is biblical in that we each have our own role to play and we are responsible to do what we are supposed to do for , as well as with, each other.

Don’t let the world’s view rule your life. The world says that everyone should be the same, everyone gets the same treatment, and that everyone should be allowed to do whatever they want to: C’mon, let’s get real!- having the right to do whatever you want to do doesn’t mean you have the ability.  The truth is that we are all different, blessed with talents that are meant to serve the Lord (not ourselves) and when we use the gifts God gave us to serve Him and each other, then we will live such a blessed existence that heaven will almost appear to be anti-climatic!

Treat each other with respect, work together to achieve synergy, do what you are supposed to do before you worry about what the other person is supposed to do, and if that person needs help, then help. Teamwork is not doing something for someone else, it is doing what you are supposed to do and then, if the other person needs help, supplementing their duties. That is how you achieve synergy, and I believe God wants us to be synergistic in our relationships with each other and with Him.

 

does God ever change His mind?

Let’s start by remembering who it is I am going to talk about: it’s God. The one and only, the Lord of lords and King of kings, the Everlasting, the One who created everything and everyone. He never slumbers nor does He ever sleep, He remembers, He knows, He is always present and ever lasting. He is the Eternal One.

He is also the same today, yesterday and tomorrow and whatever He wants to do, He does. Whatever He wants done, gets done, and whatever He says is absolutely absolute.

Got it? So, nu? With all that going for Him, does He ever change His mind? Does He say He will do something then decide not to do it? Does He say a thing will happen, but then prevent it? I have often said that what God says will happen is so certain that it is already history. Yet….

He told the Hebrews coming out of Egypt that He would bring them into a land filled with milk and honey, the land He promised Abraham, but they never entered it.

He told Moses He would destroy the Israelites in the desert, yet He didn’t. More than once.

He had Jonah tell the Ninevites they would be destroyed in 40 days, but they weren’t.

He told King Hezekiah (2 Kings, 20) that he was going to die, but instead He added 15 years to his life.

In each of these cases God told someone that He was going to do something, and it didn’t happen. It really does look like God changed His mind.

But He didn’t- what happened was that the conditions upon which God made the decision changed.

The Hebrews coming out of Egypt were brought to the land God promised, but they refused to go in.

God said He would destroy the Israelites and make a nation out of Moses, but Moses refused that option. God was ready, but Moses didn’t want to do it, so the conditions changed.

Nineveh repented of their evil and asked for forgiveness- up to then, they were rebellious and didn’t fear the Lord. They changed the condition of their hearts when they did T’shuvah (repentance), thereby changing the conditions on which God decided their fate.

Hezekiah cried bitter tears and prayed to God to spare him. God didn’t have Isaiah tell the king that God was going to kill him, just that he was going to die. But when Hezekiah cried to the Lord and reminded God (not that God forgot) about all the good he had done, God granted the prayer of the king to live. The king’s prayer to be cured changed the conditions of the situation.

I am sure there are other examples of when something in the bible makes it look like God changed His mind. I submit that God can change His mind, if He wants to. He is, after all, God, and can do whatever the heck He wants to. However, we have to remember that the timeline we live in has no effect or bearing on God- He is above all the laws of physics that we understand. So when God says He will do something, if the conditions for that decision remain unchanged, that something will be done. It may not be done in a straight, chronological line, but it will be done.

The Israelites did come into the land God promised; Nineveh was destroyed for it’s evil; Hezekiah did (eventually) die; and the best part is still yet to come- God will gather all His people from the four corners of the Earth and settle them back in Israel. In fact, that is happening as we speak. Today we see the promise of God’s regathering His people and judging of the nations coming true before our eyes.

We also saw God’s promise to send a Messiah come true, some 2,000 years ago, and that promise is just as alive and active today as it was then. Yeshua (Jesus) is alive, He sits at the right hand of God, and all who accept Him as their Messiah and do T’shuvah will be saved.

Although it seems somewhat contradictory, God’s decisions are based on the conditions at the time He announces them to us, but those conditions can change, henceforth the events based on them change. God doesn’t change, His decisions don’t change, but the conditions can change, causing new decisions to be made.

That means you can be an unrepentant sinner today and are (thereby) condemned to death, but any time you change the conditions of your heart, you change the conditions of God’s decision.

Think about that- you have the potential to change God’s decision! What an awesome thought. All you need to do to change God’s decision is change your attitude, your actions, your heart. If you are evil you are condemned to death, yet if you turn from your evil ways you will be saved. If you are a God-fearing person who decides to apostatize and turn your back on the Lord to do evil, then whatever righteous deeds you had performed will be forgotten and you will die in your sin (Ezekiel 3:20.)

God’s promises are absolute; what God says will happen, will happen; what God wants to be, is. The only thing that changes is you, is me, is us. If we change, then the conditions upon which God has said something will happen will change, and God will make a new decision based on the new conditions.

God’s plan for salvation is like a willow tree in the breeze: it stands firm and will not be moved, but it is able to sway with the wind and bend as it needs to.

God’s plan of salvation is like a ship sailing from one port to another: the beginning and the end are set and unmovable, but the ship may stop at different ports, tack against the wind, or sail around an obstacle while on it’s journey. Those on the ship can stay on board or leave anytime they want to, and those on the land can come aboard any time they want to. The captain has set the destination, and even though the course may be here and there, the ship will arrive where it is going to when the captain wants to be there.

God does not really change His mind, but when the conditions of His decision change He will re-evaluate the situation and make a new decision based on the new condition. You are in total control of the conditions of your life, so make it easy for God to decide to do good for you.

Finally! The long awaited sequel is out, “Son of…..

If you are a Baby-Boomer like me, you remember the great movies that had sequels. For my younger readers, that’s when you find out what happened after what you are watching. Today they’re all about prequels, finding out what happened before what you are watching occurred.

We had “Son of Kong”, “Son of Paleface”, “Son of Zorn”, “Tarzan Finds a Son”…movies that took the popularity of the original and continued the story line.

To me, that’s exactly what the New Covenant writings are all about. Growing up Jewish, all I ever heard about Jesus and the New Covenant was that Jesus was Jewish, a Rabbi, and he started a new religion called Catholicism. I was also told that the New Covenant is their bible, not ours. Oh, yes- and all the other Gentile religions came out of Catholicism.

Now I know the truth is very, very different. Nearly 20 years ago, when I first started to look for God and wanted to finally decide about what relationship, if any, I was going to have with Him, I researched for myself; I read the New Covenant (a Messianic version, which bold printed everything that was directly from the Old Covenant, so nearly every page had 1/3-1/2 of it bold printed), I talked to mature Christians who were open and knowledgeable about their Hebraic roots (thank the Lord He directed them to me), and eventually (after I decided to believe before I actually did believe) I learned the truth about who Jesus (His real name is Yeshua) was, and is, and who is the real creator of modern day Christianity.

Oh, in case you’re interested, Christianity as it is known and practiced today did not come from Jesus- it came from Constantine and the Council of Nicene.

The Old Covenant is all about God, really. Yes, we learn of the Jewish people, their good times and their bad; we also learn of the other people of those days. We read about the events that happened to both Jews and Gentiles, the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Shomron (Israel), the destruction of the first temple, exile to Babylon and the last king, Zedekiah, which was about 570 some-odd years before Yeshua. After him the only other major event, before the New Covenant events, was the Maccabees and the story of Hanukkah, about 400 years before Yeshua. This is where the OC ends, still waiting for the Messiah to come.

Despite all the events, peoples and kings, the one character in the Old Covenant that is steadily seen and heard throughout the book, who is the progenitor, hero, and star of the show, is God.

The New Covenant also mentions God throughout it, but the real star is Yeshua. Therefore, we could call the Old Covenant the “Story of God” and the New Covenant, “Son of God.”

Now the title to today’s post seems to make sense, doesn’t it?

Just like the old sequels, the first book introduces the hero and leaves us with a promise of more to come. The Messiah never appeared, although He had been mentioned and prophesied about throughout the book. With the NC, we have a culmination of writings about this guy Jesus who claimed to be the Messiah, and also said He was the Son of God.

And if you ask me, He did a pretty good job of proving that what He said was true!

“Jesus” was used for His name because the Greek’s had no reference for a name which meant “God’s salvation”, so they used Jesu, which means nothing in and of itself, but sounds like “Yeshua.” That’s right- “Jesus” is a Latin-ized version of a transliteration that has no etymological root.

The OC promised a Messiah to bring the Jewish people back to God, and also that the Jewish people would be a blessing to the world; eventually, the final promise is of paradise with all the nations of the world worshiping God. That is, worshiping God as He told us we should in the Torah. The NC is the continuation of that story, introducing the promised Messiah, showing how He proved who He was/is, and ending with a number of epilogues (the Epistles) that showed how the truth of Messiah was spread throughout the world. This book has no sequel because the end is eternity with God and Yeshua. All the bad guys are destroyed, the world is created anew, and those that have been faithful to the King have been rewarded with eternal peace and life forever in the presence of the King.

Nice ending; nice “Son of” sequel; all-around nice story. The best part of the whole thing is that it is real-life, and those who accept the truth of it are also part of the story, along with the Father and the Son, and we all end up in Paradise together.

 

 

after the storm

I live in Brevard County, Florida, so Matthew came through with a vengeance. However, God was good and protected us and most of the neighbors. A lot of tree debris, my screened in porch suffered a large branch falling on it and bending one of the main supports (Hello? USAA?), but other than that we had no real problems.

I am sooooo sore from moving everything that was on top of the plywood window covers, taking them out, putting them up, moving everything back so I could put the car in the garage, then taking them down, moving everything out of the way, putting them back in , ….well, you get the idea. Oh, wait! Then I had to collect all the debris, cut the big branches down to reasonable size, move it all to the street, bag up all the little stuff, and yesterday morning (before it got too hot) I was on the roof cleaning out the gutters.

Here’s what it did to the porch and the pile of leftovers all over the yard:

hurricane-matthew-damage                                                               hurricane-matthew-leftovers

 

I have been told that I look like I am only in my late 40’s (I sleep in the fridge- it helps a lot), but I am in my early 60’s and really feeling it today. Oy!

I am grateful to God for making this first hurricane we have gone through relatively easy on us, although Haiti, the Bahama’s, and sections of America have had terrible damage, and deaths have resulted. For those who say, ” Meh- this wasn’t so bad.” they should consider the people who are burying their loved ones and can’t even go home after the funeral, because they don’t have a home, anymore.

So why does God do this to people? Why do they have to die in a weather event? These are the questions we ask each other, and we ask of God, aren’t they?

“Why did You do this?”

I can only answer for myself, and this is my opinion only: it’s because God doesn’t see things the way we do.

We see barely past our own noses, for the most part- we are self-absorbed and self-centered. It’s what we are, it’s who we are, it’s what the world tells us to be. God, on the other hand, is all about His children and the salvation He has planned for us. God doesn’t see life as the whole and death as the end: He knows that there is eternity following life. He knows that what we have is only fleeting, a mist, a memory, grass that springs up in the morning and is dried out and burned at evening. God is looking at things from an eternal viewpoint, so when people die and property is destroyed, God sees that as we see a scratch: it is a little bothersome today but by tomorrow it will be past, and by next week we will have totally forgotten we ever had a scratch- as if it had never even happened.

Of course, to us having a loved one killed or our homes destroyed is more than a scratch, but as I said, that is from our perspective. Our perspective is too limited- to help us get past these kinds of traumatic events in our lives, we need to see from God’s perspective.

Try to remember that what we go through now will be nothing more than a memory, if even that, when we are in God’s presence for all eternity. I wrote a post a while ago called “SWISH“- So What, I‘m Saved: Hallelujah! If my house has damage, SWISH. If I have lost a loved one SWISH (although I agree that is really hard to SWISH by); if I have a lot of cleanup to do and I am sore, SWISH.

I don’t mean to minimize the extent of the pain, damage and cost of a hurricane, but I do want to try to minimize it’s effect on my spirit and my attitude. There are better things to come, better days ahead, and eternity in the presence of God which will be a  joy forever.

All I am saying is that in the midst of Tsouris, try to remember and focus on the future in Paradise. And if you don’t have that future, then ask God to help you attain it. The invitation is written with your name on it, all you have to do is accept it and show up wearing the proper clothes- humility, T’Shuvah (repentance) and thankfulness.

Parashah Nitzavim (standing) Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30

Moses foretells the future, and warns the people about turning from God to idols. He tells them that they are making a covenant with God not just for themselves, but for their descendants, as well. The world will offer them opportunity to turn from God, and if they do then all the curses of the book shall come down on them. Yet, after God has justifiably thrown them out of the land and ravaged the land, if they turn back to God with all their heart and soul, God will regather them from the farthest parts of the world and resettle them in the Land. The curses that fell on them will fall on their enemies and the people shall again find favor in God’s sight.

Finally, Moses tells them that these laws and commandments, which provide life, abundance and blessing, are not far away or hard to do; they are right there, in reach, and the offer God is making is life or death: life through obedience and death through rejection.

Moses suggests they choose life.

So, Nu? How much more can I say than what Moses has said? Here we are, again, a people blessed by God that are about to receive the greatest blessing that God has for us-life in a land of prosperity. And life forever after that. So what do we do?

We screw it all up. This generation that has seen so much makes the covenant and under Joshua, for the most part, this covenant is kept. But after Joshua dies, very quickly they devolve into a rabble of sinfulness- that is in the Book of Judges. Up and down, love the Lord then love the idols, in and out of sin and rebellion for generations. God raises a Judge to save, they do well under that Judge, the Judge dies and the people fall back into sin.

Today we see the prophetic promise of returning to the land that Moses told of coming to fruition. We see Israel being regathered, and the curses coming down on the nations. America isn’t being left out of those curses, either, because we have stopped being a godly country.

Moses said the people there were making a covenant, but also the people not there- in other words, the children and their children’s children were also to be under this covenant. I think that is where things went wrong.

When I read the bible it seems that for every generation that did well, the next one did poorly. One king does what is evil, the son does what is right, then his son does what is evil. And it seems that there is always some chametz (leaven, representing sin) left over from the evil generation that survives. Either the queen mother, or the wife of the past king, or a relationship with another evil king. The Northern tribes (Israel, later called Shomron, now referred to as the West Bank) never had a righteous king, but the Southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin had a number of “good” kings, whose children weren’t always the same.

My point is that we can’t really make a covenant for someone else. The baptism rights for babies today are, to me, a waste. First of all, I cannot see God sending an infant to hell because his or her parents failed to have a clergyman pour water on their head. Baptism is an outward expression of an inner desire, a desire to be cleansed of sin and turn to God. An infant can’t make that decision, and I think the history of the Jewish people proves that a child’s parents can’t make that decision, either. Godparents standing in for the child and making oaths of servitude to God are never going to be binding on the child because God gave us all Free Will. It is up to the child to make that decision, and only after the age of decision has been reached. Until the child is old enough to make up his (or her) own mind, that child is a child of God and will not be sent to eternal damnation in the event it dies.

That is my opinion- I have nothing in the bible to quote to you to prove it true, but everything I have read and feel and know about God tells me it must be so.

The best way for us to ensure the life (eternal) of our children is to be an example to them of God’s goodness and love, as well as demonstrating the truth regarding His promise of justice. God is all about love, and all about truth, and all about trust and all about faith. That means that as faithful as God is to forgive when someone truly does T’Shuvah (turn from sin), He is just as faithful to punish those who reject Him.

The world wants what it considers to be fair: “If I choose to love and obey You, then bless me. However, if I choose to ignore and reject You, then just leave me alone.” That’s what the world wants, but that isn’t how the game is played. God is supreme, whether or not someone wants to accept that is irrelevant. God reigns supreme: you obey and live or you reject and die: that’s how it is; that’s how He is; that’s why His name is “I am.”

We can’t choose for others, but we can be an example and a light to others. That’s how the covenant we make with God can be applied to others- through our example. It is up to them to choose for themselves.

That’s a hard word to hear, but the history of mankind and the stories in the bible, I believe, prove it to be true. We all are responsible to make up our own minds, and we all will be held accountable for our decisions. If someone else tells you what to do, and you do it, it is your decision to do it. It is your responsibility. Likewise, if you are told not to do something and you don’t, it is, again, ultimately your choice.

I often say that when you go before God, and we all will, and tell Him, “But that’s what the (fill in religious leader title) said I should do”, God will look gently and lovingly upon you and say, “I understand that, My child, but it is what I say that counts. Here’s some SPF 10,000 and a bottle of cold water; take the elevator to your left going down. Next?”

Every single day, from this moment forward, we each have before us the blessings and the curses, life and death- I have chosen life.

What is your choice?

 

 

Bad news is the news

Doctor to Patient: “I’ve got some bad news, and I’ve got some even worse news.”

Patient: “OK- so, what’s the bad news?”

Doctor: “Your test results are back and you have only 48 hours to live.”

Patient: “Yikes! If that’s the bad news, what could possibly be worse?”

Doctor: “I’ve been trying to reach you since yesterday.”

If you read the newspapers (and if you read this blog, you know that I don’t) it is pretty much all bad news. Death, crime, destruction (both natural and man-made), corruption. All bad news.

Why? The answer is simple: bad news sells. In all fairness, newspapers are not public service announcements, they are a business. And the way a business stays in business is by selling their product in such a way as to make a profit. If bad news sells, then put out bad news.

But why does bad news sell? Ah- as Shakespeare would say (and he did): There’s the rub!

I only wish I knew the answer.

I can guess the answer, and even if I am not correct, 100%, I ‘ll bet I am awfully close…..it’s because people want to feel better about themselves, and they do when they see others in worse condition. We are a competitive species, so we compare ourselves to others in order to see how well we “rate” in the world.

Is my car newer? Is my house bigger? Do I make more money? Am I prettier? Do I turn out more work? Is my grass greener? Is my hair nicer? Are my teeth whiter?

We need to compare ourselves to something, anything, in order to understand ourselves better and to find our place in the world. And here’s the kicker charge, Folks- der ain’t nuttin wrong widdat! It’s who and what we are- if not for a competitive spirit, there would be no progress, no improvement, no growth. It is our need to compare ourselves to others that drives us to improve ourselves and our society.

The question is: to whom should I compare myself?

In my opinion, the problem is that we compare ourselves to the world, to other people, and to what is expected by our society.

You may ask, “Yeah, so? What’s wrong with that?” What’s wrong with that is that people are stupid: self-centered, self-absorbed, hedonistic, and sinful from birth.

The world will do much better when we stop trying to beat out the next guy and just try to be more like the only guy we should emulate: Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus).

When we compare ourselves to other people we are working with a bad role model, so even all the wonderful things that have resulted from this competition- improvements in technology, medical care, science, etc.- are good, but came about in spite of ourselves, not because of what we intended.

Oh, yeah- there are many, many things that have improved our lives that were intended to do so, but overall when you start with hedonistic, self-absorbed beings what you get is a drive to be better than the other person for the sake of being better.  What we need is to stop trying to be better than the other person and concentrate on being a better “me.”

The only role model we should be looking to is Yeshua.

I believe when we compare ourselves to what God wants us to be we will have plenty of room for improvement. Don’t you worry about that! And, when we are driven to create, we will create for the betterment of society. And when we are driven to do something, it will be for someone else’s sake and not for our own fame. And when we give to others, it will be without concern for recompense because we will do it to glorify God, not us.

Then, maybe in this idealistic dream of mine, the newspapers will tell of the kitten that was saved, the way people worked together to prevent a tragedy; instead of focusing their report on the death and destruction from an earthquake, they will report that there was an earthquake and this is how people helped each other….

We all need role models, especially the children, because once you get to about 7 or 8 years old, most of what and who you are going to be is already formed. With good role models in our life we can become better people and be role models for others. Eventually the “chametz” (yeast, biblically representing sin) will be removed from the dough instead of the other way around. Shaul (Paul) said only a little chametz can leaven the whole batch of dough (Galatians 5:9) and the dough of this world is pretty well leavened, wouldn’t you say? But for purity, that which we present to the Lord, there must be no chametz in the bread:

Lev. 2:11– Every grain offering you bring to the LORD must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the LORD.

What we present to God, which should be our everyday thoughts, actions and words, should be matzo- unleavened bread worthy of presentation to God.

One of my favorite (and most often repeated) prayers to God is from two of David’s psalms:

Psalm 51:10– Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 19:14– May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

These prayers ask God to make me into what I really want to be: matzo presented to Him without chametz.

Forget reading the newspapers- they are full of dreck. Read the Bible, instead. A little Bible every day will work it’s way through you, and make you a better person. Compare yourself to God, to Yeshua, to what they want you to be and forget what the world has to offer you. It is fleeting, it is temporary, it is superficial.

The world is never going to have anything more than a finite effect on you and you on it, but what you do for God is eternal. And what God offers you is eternal, as well.

We all have the God-given right to make our own decisions, and that includes picking the role model we want to emulate. And don’t ever forget- we will all have to answer for who we chose to be like when we come before the Lord.

I suggest you chose well.