How Do You Know Its Working?

I constantly try to spread the word about God, how he has positively influenced my life and what he expects of us. I try to teach people the difference between what God tells us and what religion tells us, and about the blessings we receive when we obey him. I have a website ministry, I blog, I have a Facebook page for my ministry, I have written books (no one buys) and I always try to fit something about God into nearly every conversation I have with strangers. It is like casting bait into the water: if I get a nibble, I slowly reel it in (continue the conversation) and hope to “land” someone. If the bait just sits untouched, I will cut that line, and cast it again some other time in a different location.

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

Yet, despite all that I do, day by day, I sometimes wonder if I am getting anything done at all. Do you ever feel that way? Do you question yourself about whether or not what you do to please God is enough? Have you asked yourself what else could you do? Have you ever asked yourself what else are you willing to do? (That’s a tough one to answer truthfully!)

I think it is healthy to ask these questions of ourselves on a constant basis because our life changes on a constant basis. The one thing no one should do is to harshly judge yourself or become depressed if you feel you aren’t doing what you should be doing. That is not helpful to the work we do to spread God’s kingdom.

It’s like my golf game. I enjoy the sport but allow myself to get too upset when I miss a shot. Sometimes I get so upset I end up missing the next shot because I am still teed-off (pardon the pun) about the last shot. That is just a useless expense of emotional energy. I really hate to admit this, but the other guys in my group are correct when they say if we aren’t playing in a league, just don’t keep the score and enjoy the game for what it is- a game. OY! Maybe one day I will finally learn that lesson.

If you feel like I do sometimes, and that “Is this really working?” attitude comes ’round knocking at your door, I think I have found a way to overcome it.

And it is the exact opposite of what I need to do for golf.

When you think you’re not getting anything accomplished, it’s time to start keeping score!

The last time I felt unsure if anything I was doing was really working to further God’s kingdom or to help people know the truth about God, about his word or his expectations, I sat down and thought about what I have done that has been successful. I actually came up with a few good things.

I have been asked to send my books (which I did) to a Messianic Bible study group in Uganda; my newest book is going to be used with a Facebook group that is going to start doing weekly Torah studies; I constantly receive “Likes” to the comments I make in “religious” discussion groups, which confirms that someone is learning something about God from me on a daily basis; I have friends and subscribers to my website and YouTube channel in Africa, India, Japan, Canada, and the USA.  I have over 190 Facebook friends, and most of them are not family or friends from my personal life but people who are interested in hearing what God gives me to say through my ministry. And some of them are becoming closer than just acquaintances.

So, when I started to keep score I realized I’m not doing too badly. In fact, I believe that what I am doing is working! And I know the best thing to do is trust God that he will make sure, sooner or later, if I continue to preach his word correctly and in a way that glorifies him, what I do will be effective. He tells us his word will never return void (Isaiah 55:11), so as long as I keep putting it out there, it will sprout roots and take hold in the good soil it finds.  I just need to be patiently trusting and continue to walk (or preach, as the case may be) in faith.

So, nu? As for you, keep up the good work you do for the Lord. He will encourage and support you so long as you do what you do for his glory. And it’s OK to keep score- everyone needs confirmation and a slap on the back, now and then.

And if you are sure you are doing what pleases the Lord, but no one else is willing to give you an “atta-boy!” or an “atta-girl!” your own arm is long enough to reach your back.

Thank you for your interest- please don’t hesitate to leave a comment (always be nice) or a confirmation that what I am doing is useful to you, and also please SUBSCRIBE in the right-hand margin. I would also ask that you use the link above to subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.

May your day be blessed and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

can’t we all just get along?

No. No, we can’t. We never have, we don’t, and we never will. Not even after Yeshua comes down from heaven, riding on the clouds, will we be able to get along with each other. Even after 1,000 years of Yeshua’s rule on Earth, we still won’t be able to get along with each other, as evidenced by the fact that after the 1,000 years the enemy will be freed from the pit and he (or she- let’s not be sexist about this) will be able to convince the majority of the world to battle against Yeshua.

Let’s get real, Folks- people have never gotten along. Cain killed Abel and there were only 4 people in the world! At the very beginning of mankind, 25% of the total population was murdered. Not the best way to start, wouldn’t you agree?  We have always been in conflict with each other- Ishmael was a man who would always be against other men, and have other men against him.

Genesis 16:12 – “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

What if that scripture verse means more than just being about Ishmael? What if Ishmael, a son of Abraham but not the son of the promise, represents the world, and Isaac, the one who is the son of the promise, represents those who accept God and His Messiah? Then we could say that the world of non-Believers (Ishmael and his brothers) will never be at peace or be able to “get along.” History has certainly proven that to be true.

The Lord has always commanded us to be holy, as He is holy, and to be holy means to be separated from the rest of the world. If we are to be separated, then (by definition) we cannot all get along with each other. We are not to intermarry, we are not to “hang out” together, we are not to allow their beliefs to influence ours.

Now, this doesn’t mean we can’t tolerate each other, or abide with each other, or even just not hate each other. We can deal with that- the love and compassion that we learn from God is what allows us to remain separated from non-Believers but still able to have relationships that are not aggressive. Love the sinner but hate the sin- that’s what we are taught, and to do that we need to be patient, understanding, and (for many of us) we need to remember that we were like them, once, too.

But we are not to be unevenly yoked. What does that mean, really? If someone is a Believer and married to another Believer, they are evenly yoked, right? Maybe not- what if one is walking the walk and the other is a professed Believer, but really doesn’t walk the walk, or live like a Believer should live? They are both “Believers”, in name, but not in real life. To me, that is unevenly yoked.

On the other hand, what if a Believer is married to someone who has not gotten down on their knees and said the “sinners prayer” thing- what if the other person has not read the bible or gone to “church” or do any of the normal things a “real” Believer does. Yet, that person is honest, does believe in God, does believe Yeshua (or Jesus) is the Messiah and died for their sins, and does, albeit reluctantly, recognize that he or she is a sinner and needs to be saved. What if that non-professed Believer, married to a professed Believer, lives the life a Believer should live? I would say they are evenly yoked.

Of course we can’t all get along. Sheesh! What if my god says to kill anyone who doesn’t believe in him? What if your god says that it doesn’t matter what anyone else believes? What if I don’t believe in any god or spiritual being, at all? What if I really just don’t care- my religion is hedonism, or evolution (that’s become almost a religion, hasn’t it?), or I’m some nut-case like Jim Jones or Father Divine? Can you get along with someone like that?

We are not meant to get along. Remember the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)? God purposefully confused the language and spread people all over the Earth so that they would not be able to get along. We are not meant to get along- it is evident throughout the bible and throughout history. We are a warring, prideful, selfish, grabbing and never-satisfied species. We were given the duty and the honor to tend for God’s creation and look what we’ve done to it- we’ve enslaved our fellow humans, hunted thousands of species to extinction, and are destroying the very planet we need to live on.

Man! This post is a real downer! Yes, it is- it is sad, it is depressing, and it is a real shame that it is also the truth.

So, nu? What do we do?  We find a Doctor of Proctology to extract our heads from where they are and place them back where they belong so we can start to do what is right for ourselves, our animals and our planet. We also wait: we wait for Yeshua to return. And while we’re waiting, we who are separated must stay separated, but also be very visible. We should continue to preach the Word, we should continue to be “fishers of men”, we must go into the darkness because we are the light (light is definitely separated from darkness) and we should continue to pray for strength and guidance from God, through His Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit.)

We can’t all get along; no matter what, there will always be one who just can’t handle peaceful relationships. It’s like a perfect Democracy- it can’t exist with more than 1 person. So we do the next best thing, we work with what we have as best as we can.

We will never be able to all get along, but each of us can try to be patient and understanding of others. Don’t hate because someone is different, don’t deny justice or opportunity because someone is different, and accept people for what and who they are, even if they are sinful. You can work with someone who is totally different than you are, so long as both of you are willing to put up with the other and both work to attain a similar goal. If that isn’t possible, then get away and try with someone or somewhere else.

We can’t all get along, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all work together. Accept differences, respect people’s right (God given right, that is) to make up their own minds, tell them what you believe but don’t try to ram it down their throat, and more than anything else show them what you believe by how you live your life.

We who are “Born Again” must live in the world, but we are no longer part of it. We are in a crowd of people yet separate from them, and we will not all get along with each other.

But living as God tells us to live, we can get along with most.

How to Feel Better

Dontcha hate the blues? Not the music genre, the feeling.

All humans get down-in-the-dumps sometimes. It might be the effect of the moon on us, maybe it’s a biorhythm down cycle, maybe it’s too little coffee, maybe it’s too much coffee. Maybe it’s stress from work or kids, or not having a job to go to, or not having kids you wanted. Maybe it’s really bad- a death of a loved one, a sudden tsuris in your life. Maybe you just feel like *&%#.

Whatever the reason, we all feel “blue” now and then. Some people have a real hard time with it, and others get over it quickly.

It is a very individual thing, but all agree it stinks.

There is a way to get over the blues. It isn’t from some hokey television infomercial, or best-selling Self Help book. It’s simple, it’s something anyone can do, and it always works.

It’s giving praise to God and worshipping Him with thankful prayer.

Whoa!! Stop the music!! Steve- you are talking about being sad, feeling blue, hate-the-world-and-everyone-in-it! And now you say, in the midst of that deep, dark funk I am supposed to be thankful? Vas bist du? Meshuggah?

No, I’m not crazy. Well, maybe…but not about this. Praising God and giving thanks to Him requires us to think about what we have to give thanks for. That takes emotional energy and concentration. That makes us think of something different than our meager and petty issues (because compared to Eternal joy in the presence of the Almighty, our current issues are just that- petty and meager) and gets us thinking about what we do have.

Praise has power that is hidden from us until we begin to use it. Praise reminds us of who we are- the children of the Almighty! Praise brings back to our minds all He has done in our lives, and the lives of others. When we praise the Lord we can’t help but become joyful, for His spirit is awakened in us as we call on His name in thanksgiving. The best way to get out of the dumps is to count your blessings, and that is a form of praise.

Praise is powerful. How? When you are as low as you think you could ever feel, do what I suggest- give praise to God. Thank Him for your salvation, think of all that Yeshua did so you can be with God eternally. Think of what the prophets did to try to save the people, think of the things you do have, of how God has interceded in your life. I guarantee if you sincerely think of all that God has done for you, of all He has planned for you, and how little whatever you are going through now will seem when you are with the Lord, you will start to feel better.

I am not saying what you are going through is nothing- please don’t think I am maligning how you feel. What I am trying to point out is that no matter how bad you feel, and I accept that you do feel bad and what you are going through is bad, it is still true that paise will make you feel better, and isn’t that a powerful thing?

To give thanks, to worship praise-fully, takes thought and effort. Especially when you feel bad. It redirects our self-pitying thoughts to worshipful thoughts. It transfixes our concentration to think of all God has done, and brings forward  thoughts of good things and joy, pushing back and out of the way the dark, mournful thoughts of depression. It removes us from ourselves and places us before the Throne of the King: in supplication we find ourselves in the blissful light of the Almighty instead of the dark and dank throes of remorsefulness. Prayer- thankful and praising prayer- lifts us up to the very feet of the Lord of Hosts, and we cannot feel blue when we are in the presence of the King of Kings.

Next time you are sad and forlorn, don’t sulk in self-pity. As the old song says, take the hand of the hand of the man who stilled the waters. Welcome Yeshua into your pity-party, take His hand (which is always opened to you) and let Him lead you out of the darkness and back into the light. Give praise to God, thank God for all you have, and when you are bathed in praise and worship, you won’t be wallowing in self-pity and remorse.

The next time depression knocks you down, let Yeshua lift you up.