prayer spam

When the Talmudim (Disciples/students) of Yeshua asked Him how they should pray, well….we all know His answer. But do we think about the line that goes, “Give us this day our daily bread…”? Do we think about what He might have meant by that?

Not the P’shat, which means the written word as it is written, but the Drash– the underlying, spiritual meaning.

I believe what Yeshua was saying was that when we pray, we need to ask only for what we need, then and there. Not for success in life, not for riches or fame, not for next week’s presentation to the Board, but for now. Right now, and only right now, and only what I need right now. I also think that God wants our prayers to go to Him, to the Father, to be delivered in the name of the Son. Not to the Son, not to a “Saint” who is supposed to, what? Intercede with Yeshua (Jesus) to intercede with God? Didn’t Yeshua say the ONLY way to the Father is through the Son (John 14:6)?

What does that mean? It means that our prayers are to be sent to the Father in the name of the Son, and not to the Son for Him to bring to the Father. When we pray to anyone, or anything (even worse!) other than God, Himself- God the Father, God the Creator, God the one and only and God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- then we are committing idolatry.

And when we pray to God, do we pray for what we need now, and only what we need now? I have heard people pray, and I believe their prayers are earnest, but they pray for the same thing over and over, they use “Father God” over, and over, and over- the way a “Valley Girl” uses the work “like”- until I have to think that God is saying to Himself, “All right, already- I know who I am! Just ask for what you want and leave all the ‘Father God this’ and ‘Father God that’ out of it! Oy!”

Don’t pray spam to God. He wants to hear from your heart. I have seen people pause during prayer and I can see them start to sweat trying to think of something else to say. If you have nothing more to say, than what you should say is: nothing more. Just stop. Just end the endless stream of useless words and catch-phrases that are supposed to make you sound like Solomon blessing the Temple. That was a long prayer, and it was a really good one. But long doesn’t mean better. How about Moses’ prayer (Numbers 12:13) when Miriam was struck by God with leprosy? Did he go on and on, or did he just say, “Oh Lord- please heal her!”

Moses found those 5 words to be as effective and meaningful as an entire thesis presented by a graduate student in Theology. God doesn’t just see the heart, He hears the heart.

We see someone who is homeless and downtrodden and (usually) think the worst, yet God sees Job during his trials of faith. We see someone who is mentally or physically challenged and thank God it isn’t us, and God sees a caring, faithful and compassionate person who is thankful that no one else they know has the same problems.

The words we use when we pray are not as important as the condition of our heart. When King David prayed for forgiveness in Psalm 51, he said that God will not despise a broken heart and a contrite spirit. It is the condition of our heart that generates prayer pleasing to the Lord; the fancy King James style words we use, the number of times we say “Oh Lord” or “Father God”, or the length of prayer is all totally meaningless. That is only pleasing to humans who know only what they see and hear. People only see the P’shat of the world, and not the Drash of humanity. I think people just pray “spam” when they use fancy words and long, poetic phrases meant to impress the people around them, and I just have to believe that God is thinking, “Your prayer is to Me, but I know the way you are praying is to impress those around you, so let them answer your prayer.”

Remember: when you pray, God already knows what you need. He knows what you want, He knows is best for you, and He will deliver it when He knows the time is right for you. What you say will not influence His decision but what you feel in your heart will.

When you pray remember the advice Yeshua gave His Talmudim in the Gospels- do not worry about what to say because the Ruach (Spirit) will give you what you need. Trust in the Spirit to guide your prayer and don’t pray from your mouth: pray from your heart.

 

 

What is your heart IQ?

Intelligence Quotient- that is what IQ means. The test given to assess the intelligence of a person is supposed to measure not just what they know but also their ability to learn. It is essentially your mental age divided by your chronological age, and measures not just what you know, but cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention and speed. It is used to determine one’s potential for success.

Let me tell you, though- intellect and intelligence are not always the same thing:  you could have the highest IQ ever yet act more irresponsibly and idiotically than someone with an average IQ. I am a living example of that.

What is interesting is that intelligence as a function of the brain is a modern thought. In ancient days, the center of intelligence, as well as emotions, was considered to be in the heart.

I have borrowed (and paraphrased) from jewishencyclopedia.com some of their definitions of the Judaic viewpoint of the heart:

It is the seat of the emotional and intellectual life. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. iv. 23), refers to the moral and spiritual as well as the physical life. Animals have simply a sentient heart without personal consciousness or reason.

The three special functions, knowing, feeling, and willing, ascribed by modern psychologists to the mind, were attributed to the heart by the Biblical writers.

In the Book of Daniel intellectual functions are ascribed not to the head only (Dan. ii. 28; iv. 2, 7, 10 [A. V. 5, 10, 13]; vii. 1, 15), but also to the heart (ib. ii. 30).

 The heart is the the seat of the physical organism,  as the seat of all morality and of all moral and spiritual functions

As in the Bible (Gen. vi. 5, viii. 21), the seat of good and evil impulses alike is neither the body nor the soul, but rather the heart (not, of course, the physical organ, but the willing and thinking self)

The heart is also the seat of feeling, of courage, of hatred, of pride, and of deceit. 

As the Seat of the Intellect and the Will: the Midrash renders “an understanding heart” by “wisdom”; and there it is said that God gives Solomon “wisdom and understanding.” 

According to modern science the brain is the center and originator of our emotions, our intelligence and our feelings. Yet, in Judaism (and Islam, too, from what I read) the heart is really the center of the emotional and mental activity.

How many times have we heard…”do what is in your head, not what is in your heart”? And just as often we have been told to do the converse of that statement.

In the bible, this question never appears because the heart is both the center of emotion and intelligence, so we really only need to do what is in our heart, and what should be in our heart is the Lord (D’varim/ Deuteronomy 6:5):

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

This commandment is repeated throughout the Gospels, as well, when the young Pharisee asks Yeshua (Jesus) what is the most important commandment.  The first thing we are to do is to love God with all our heart. I have also seen “with all your mind” added in some translations, which would then mean to love God with our heart, mind, soul and strength. In other words, we should love God intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically. 

As our love for God should grow with our understanding of Him, then since the heart is the center of understanding, it stands to reason that the more we love God, the “smarter” our heart will be, and the smarter our heart is the more we can love the Lord with all of it. 

Loving God more lets you become wiser, and becoming wiser lets you love God more- now that’s what I call a synergistic relationship! 

There are plenty of tests to determine our IQ from the modern version, but what test can we take to determine our H-IQ (heart IQ) ? Maybe we already know that answer: it would be in the way that we treat each other and how well we honor God through faithful obedience to His word (Torah) in our everyday lives.

Are you willing to take a H-IQ test? I can’t give it to you; this is a self-test. You need to honestly look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are measuring up, heart-wise, to what God expects of you. And don’t allow false modesty to interfere with an accurate rating- you could be in the top 10%. Is there a spiritual MENSA group out there? Yes, there is- I believe we call them “Saints.”

I am not talking about the Saints in Catholicism: I am talking about what the bible describes as a “saint”, which is one who is holy, one who is separated for God, and one who acts in accordance to God’s will and commandments (found in the Torah.) Shaul (Paul) wrote to “the saints” in many of his letters in the New Covenant, and in the Old Covenant the saints are referred to as the faithful people of the Lord over and over, in Psalms, Chronicles, Job, etc. 

A saint is not someone who the Pope says is a saint; a saint is anyone and everyone who is faithful to the Lord

Needless to say, saints have a really high H-IQ.

So what do you think your H-IQ is? Is it high enough for you? Is it high enough for God to be pleased with it?

The good thing about H-IQ is that you can constantly increase it, so why settle for having just another old, normal heart when you can be a Heart-Mensan?


Wanting what I do or doing what I want

It’s the dilemma that (I believe) all those who are Born Again suffer with: am I doing what I want to do to please God, or am I doing what I want to do because it pleases me?

Shaul (Paul- that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus) had this problem, too. He tells us about it in his letter to the Roman Believers (7:15):

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

The Talmud tells us we are all born with the yetzer hara (the evil inclination) and only years later does the yetzer hatov (the good inclination) develop. The yetzer hara can, when controlled by the yetzer hatov, be made useful for it is the desire to have things that are pleasing to us, and so having a spouse, a house, a job- all these can be attributed to the yetzer hara and, when controlled by the yetzer tov, these desires of our hedonistic hearts can be channeled into useful and Godly activities.

However, what we really need to do is that which is pleasing to God, and to know what that is is to first learn to not trust ourselves. We are, by nature, self-centered, self-important, self-absorbed and NOT self-controlled. That which is of us is not that which is of God; that which is of God (the Ruach HaKodesh) is in those of us who have accepted Messiah Yeshua and asked for the Spirit, which we must learn to listen to. It is the small, still voice of God that Elijah heard, and not the loud shouting of the yetzer hara that Ahab listened to.

The Ruach tells us what God wants us to do whereas the yetzer hara tells us what we want to do, which is to please our physical bodies, to be the center of all things and to have more toys than everyone else, no matter what it takes to get them.

The yetzer hatov is not, in my opinion, the same as the Ruach HaKodesh. The yetzer hatov is, in Freudian terms, the ego, controlling the basic, animal desire for self-gratification, which is the Id. The Ruach HaKodesh is more like the Superego, which deals with the morality of what we take (Id) or ask for (Ego) from the world.

I am not an expert in the field of  psychology, but I think the above simile is feasible as an example. We all want what we want- that is as primal as the need for self-preservation. Maslow (back to the Psych 101 class) had 10 levels of self actualization, which describes how he believes the human psyche works. We start at the very basic needs- food, water, shelter, and advance from physical needs, to safety, to love, to esteem, and finally to the highest levels where we have morality, understanding and acceptance.

The science of human psychology is fascinating, and having been in sales for a long time, I am glad that I have a fair understanding of human nature- it is essential to being a successful salesperson. But what really helps is to know the Lord, to know what He wants from us (that means to read the bible, duh!) and to have the Ruach HaKodesh to lead us. It’s OK if you have developed your Superego, if you are at the tenth level of self-actualization, if you have studied under the Guru, whatever- it’s all good to be a “humanly” moral and self-actualized person. But that isn’t someone with the spirit of God leading them. The Ruach will never lead you incorrectly, whereas human leadership is more based on what we want and what the world says you should be. It can’t be any other way: social morality is defined by the culture, right? It may be OK to cane a child in the Philippines for breaking the law, but not in the USA. Therefore, to be a morally upright person means to be in accordance with the moral and ethical norms of the society in which you live.

To be a godly person means to be within the moral and ethical norms of God’s word- the Torah. Human morality is based on your social or geographical environment, but God’s morality is based on what God says it is. It is universal. The bible tells us over and over what God wants of us; Old Covenant or New Covenant doesn’t matter- both are based on the Torah. Yeshua (Jesus) taught nothing but what is in the Torah, so the Torah is where we all need to start and where we all need to stay.

Religion is in the same category as social morality- each one is developed by people and each one has it’s own rules about right and wrong. The Torah is the foundation for all the Judeo-Christian religions, but so many different religions have built on the Torah in so many different ways that it is now buried under so many rules and canon that we don’t even see it anymore. Even within Judaism, the one religion that is closest to honoring the Torah as it was given to us by God, has almost over-ridden it with the Talmud, a document made by people. And there are 7 different forms of Judaism today: how can that be? One God, one Torah, but 7 ways to worship?

Oy! No wonder we’re all so screwed up!

The bottom line is the one that counts, right? So, nu? what’s the bottom line? It’s this:

God has no religion.

Read the bible, forget what religion tells you to do, and when you (if you haven’t yet) accept:

  1. that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised us;
  2. accept Him in your heart;
  3. ask God for forgiveness through the sacrificial atonement Yeshua completed for you;
  4. ask that the Comforter, the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, be given to you and indwell within you

then you will have the ability to know what to do and what not to do from God’s perspective (so long as you teach yourself to listen to the  Ruach.) 

In the meantime, try to live by this rule:

If the world likes it, most likely God doesn’t.

That’s easy enough to understand, isn’t it?

Parashah V’Yetze (he went out) Genesis 28:10 – 32:3

Another great story from the bible. Jacob goes to find a wife, sees and immediately falls in love with Rachel, the daughter of Laban. Laban, the head of the family, welcomes Jacob in and Jacob lives with them. Laban offers to pay Jacob for the help Jacob provides, and Jacob asks that his wages be Rachel, so Laban agrees to let Jacob work for him 7 years to “earn” Rachel. After 7 years Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah, then gives Rachel, too, but for 7 more years of labor. We saw Laban’s treachery when Eliazer wanted to take Rebekah back to Isaac, and now we see Laban is still a trickster. Next he makes a deal with Jacob to give Jacob the weakest sheep and goats, but Jacob turns the tables and ends up with the strongest of the herds and flocks. After 14 years the sons of Laban are angry with Jacob for having tricked their father, and Jacob hears of it and flees back to his father’s land, but is not fast enough. Laban catches up, and uses the fact that Rachel stole the family idols to accuse Jacob of the theft, but Rachel, a bit of a liar herself, hides the idols where Laban cannot look for them (under her saddle/chair, which she said she could not rise from because it was her time of Nidah, her menstrual period.)

So Laban can’t prove Jacob a thief, and they make a vow by a standing stone Laban sets up not to cross over to do harm to each other. I think that they hated each other and made this vow not to promise to visit each other peacefully, but really to say ,”You stay on your side and I’ll stay on my side, otherwise there will be trouble.”

The importance of taking the family idols was not because Rachel was an idol worshipper- the family idols were more than just religious: they represented the leadership and power of the one who owned them. The other family members would go to that person to ask them to pray for successful crops, for children, healing, whatever they needed. By stealing these idols Rachel was taking the inheritance she felt that she and her family were entitled to have.

So far in Genesis we have seen that from the very first humans created there has been treachery and sin in the world. God is perfect, but He doesn’t create perfection. That is not a mistake on His part, He did so to fulfill His plan. There is balance in the universe, and in human nature we all, like Shaul says, do what we don’t want to do and don’t do what we want to. In some they want to do evil more than they want to do good, and others do more good than evil. There is a wide bell curve with good and evil in each of us, no one being right in the middle, and very few at the extremes. Eve sinned and caused Adam to sin, Cain killed Abel,  Noah got drunk, Abraham pimped Sarah (twice!), Isaac pimped Rebekah, Jacob tricked Esau and his father, Laban tricked Jacob, Jacob tricked Laban back, and Rachel tricked Laban, too.

And these people are supposed to be the Patriarchs and Matriarchs we look up to? Yes, they are. Because, as I say above, we all have the desire and opportunity to sin, and we also have the desire and opportunity to do good. We see the great Patriarchs did sin, sure enough, but they also did good. And the good they did was far more valuable and faithful than whatever evil they performed. Some of what they did that we see as sinful was culturally acceptable, in many ways. Stealing the family idols was almost understandable, from Rachel’s viewpoint. Jacob didn’t really trick Laban into stealing the strongest of the animals, he used good husbandry methods and was successful because of what he did with what he had (and God, of course, was helping.)

None of us is perfect, and the parashah we read this Shabbat shows that. But, on the other hand, none of us is purely evil (well, in today’s world with the current events in France and Israel, maybe I shouldn’t be too sure of that) and what really matters is not so much what we do, but what we want to do.

I believe that we read enough times in the Bible where God says He sees the heart, and how the blood of bulls and goats means nothing to Him. God wants a broken spirit and a contrite heart to come before Him; just doing the letter of the Torah is not going to please God. Obedience is important, and even forced obedience is better than non-obedience. What God wants, and what He constantly tells us in the bible, is that He wants joyful obedience, faithful obedience, obedience that comes from love and awe, not from coercion or threat of punishment.

We all have good and bad, Yin and Yang, Yetzer Hara and Yetzer Tov. We all have free will and the right to make our own decisions about what we do. And all God wants of us is to worship Him as He said we should (that’s all in the Torah) and to do so in order that we may live. God wants a cheerful and willing worshipper, He wants our obedience to be labors of love, He wants us to treat each other with compassion and respect. He knows we are sinful in nature and desire. I think that’s why He is so pleased when even one person does what is right in His eyes, because He understands how hard it is for us to do so.

You are going to sin. You are going to do so, over and over, no matter how hard you try not to. The thing to remember is that although it is wrong to sin, when we do we can ask forgiveness and receive it when it is our heart’s true desire to want to stop.   God is not stupid or gullible, and if you sin because you want to and ask forgiveness while your heart is still desiring to sin, do you really think God will buy that? He sees your heart! He knows what you really want! The bible tells us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, and that is true; but, the underlying meaning is that the ones calling are not doing so just to save their butts from Sheol- they do so because they want to stop sinning! We should ask for more than just “Forgive me!”- it should be a call for “Forgive me, and help me to stop!” That is a call that demonstrates you are truly doing T’Shuvah in your heart, that you are turning from your sin, that you are trying to do what God wants and are not just sorry you sinned. You need to be rueful and feel totally distraught. Many people, I think you will agree, feel sorry they sinned not because of what they did,  but because they got caught. We need to be sorry for what we do to others that is hurtful and we need to feel terrible when we sin because no matter who we sin against, it is always first and foremost against God.

The enemy, HaSatan, wants you to feel so bad that you just give up trying to do right, so don’t fall for that. And don’t beat yourself up (well, maybe a little but not too much) when you keep doing the same sin over and over because your flesh is weak. It is your heart’s desire that is important.

I often say that before I was saved I was a sinner who rationalized my sins, and now I am a sinner who regrets my sins. That is the real difference- the feeling in my heart, the sadness in my soul when I sin, and the desire to stop doing wrong and to only do right.

We should look up to the people in the bible who are great leaders, righteous men and women, and recognize they are as weak and sinful as we are. Why? Because that gives us hope for ourselves: if Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah, Noah, Moses (he committed murder, remember?), if all these great leaders and godly people were just as sinful as I am, then I can also be a righteous and godly person despite my sin. I just need to have the right attitude, have a constant desire to do what God wants me to do, and constantly work at it.

If you take three steps forward and then backslide two steps, you are still one step closer to God. We do right, we do wrong, we walk straight paths, we swerve, we fall, and we get up.

What matters is that you stay the course, that you keep walking forward,  and that you keep improving. How fast or how slow is not important; what is important is that you keep improving.

Parashah Vayyera (And He Appeared) Genesis 18 – 22

Not much here- only the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, not to mention the Akedah, the binding of Isaac (traditionally read at Rosh HaShannah.)

There is also the second time Abraham “pimped” Sarah, when Abimelech took her to wife because Abraham (with Sarah’s agreement) said she was his sister, not his wife. Abimelech was the king of the Philistine city and his entire household was cursed with not bearing children because he took Sarah as wife.

There is so much written about the Akedah I am not even going to try to comment on it, but I do feel that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has a lesson for us, something more personal than the story we read.

The people living in these two towns were wholly and unashamedly depraved. The bible makes sure we know that both young and old, meaning everyone, was depraved and sinful. I am not surprised, though; after all, doesn’t the society create it’s own morals? If you were alone in the desert, wouldn’t you form your own ideas about right and wrong? Look at modern cultures: some drink coffee, some drink tea, some nap in the afternoon and some don’t nap at all. Some believe that salad should be after the main course and others eat it first. There are many, many different cultural mores and values, not just about food and work, but about childbirth, capital punishment, education of the young, just to name a few. Lot offered his virgin daughters to the mob of men so they can gang rape the girls instead raping the guests in his house, the cultural ideal at that time being that to protect and care for a traveler was of the utmost importance. The care of a stranger was more important than protecting your own daughters from sexual abuse. We see this cultural standard also in Judges, 19.

Our society today, right here in the good old U S of A, is becoming more and more like Sodom. In the days of Sodom, people learned about social mores by observing their neighbors. There was no Face Book, Twitter or NetFlix to see what was happening all over. But today? We can see depravity as acceptable everywhere, in the newspapers, on TV, on our phones, and even inside the house of worship! How many of you have heard of “churches” that are pro-abortion? Churches that are specifically for homosexual and trans-sexual people? Churches that are abusing children, both physically and sexually? Churches? Places of worship? That’s what they call themselves.

Have you ever watched the History or Discovery channel specials on anything biblical? They debunk God, almost making it seem that He is a myth. I have more often than not heard references to biblical stories and lessons as being nothing more than passed down myths. The narrator refers to the “writer of these stories” as having made them up from existing legends. They show many biblical “scholars” who talk about the truths that God gave us in His word with cynical, disrespectful terms, as if they were referring to some fictional novel. And when they have someone who speaks of the bible with reverence for God, they make him or her look like some idiot, whose opinion is childish and uneducated; essentially they make faith-based obedience look like some uneducated, sect-like conditioned thinking.

Halloween is tomorrow- we give the kids candy because if you give no treat your house gets tricked. We know that the small children don’t understand anything about what their costumes and that day really represent, so we (myself included) condone, as it is, the demonic foundation of this day because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of the small children.

And what effect does that have? It plants a new seed of Sodom. This is how societies become depraved: little by little, one small concession to the mob mentality after another, until you have God thrown out of the courtroom, out of the schools, and even out of the places of worship.

Anyone who says they worship God cannot also acknowledge as acceptable those things God says are not.

God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. We need to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, too- not the towns of millennia ago, but the sinfulness and depravity that exists in our own hearts. Yeshua said that which goes into the body doesn’t defile us, but that which comes out of the mouth is what defiles us (Matthew 15:11), so exorcise that which defiles you. The words we speak, especially in anger, are straight from our hearts. We later apologize, and say, “I didn’t really mean it”, but isn’t that a lie? If we didn’t mean it, we wouldn’t have said it! THAT is the truth- what we say in anger or under stress is what is in our hearts. When we lie to the one we said it to we are really lying to ourselves because no one wants to face the truth of what is in his or her defiling, evil heart.

The towns and people of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God, but we need to destroy the spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah in ourselves. When we call on the Holy Spirit we can get the spiritual strength to overpower our evil hearts. Eventually, the Torah will be written on our hearts, these hearts of stone will be replaced with hearts of flesh and we will be living Torahs, just as Yeshua is the living Torah.

Until that day, we need to work at destroying Sodom in us.