Don’t Misuse Your Memories

Huh? What do you mean? How can I misuse memories, since my memories are what they are?

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We all remember both happy and sad times, we remember those people who we have loved but are no longer with us, and there are even things we remember that we wish we could forget.

It is especially tough at this time of the year when the world (right or wrong) celebrates the traditional holidays. We remember times past and being with family and friends, but instead of feeling cheerful, so many people suffer from seasonal depression, and at this time of the year instead of joy and goodwill, we see depression and suicides rise at an alarming rate.

And why is that? This is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, yet suicides and depression are at their highest!

I believe part of the reason, if not the entire reason, is that people misuse their memories by making themselves sad over what isn’t anymore, instead of giving thanks for having been able to have those experiences.

Can you imagine how much someone who has been raised in a broken home, on welfare, with no hope and nothing but bad memories would give to have even one of your family get-together memories?

What would someone raised in a third world country who has dirt floors and lives hand-to-mouth every day be willing to do just to have your memory of a holiday dinner and opening presents?

Maybe as you are reading this you might be one of those who doesn’t have these happy memories; if so, please comment on this post to let those who have had them know what they would mean to you.

We are, by nature, self-absorbed and so when we lose a loved one, the first emotion we feel is sadness. Not for them- they are beyond pain or troubles- but for ourselves, because now we won’t have that person in our life anymore. And that’s not necessarily wrong; at least, not at first. But when their memory brings sadness to us instead of appreciation and joy that dishonors them because it creates a feeling within you that they wouldn’t want you to have.

Job set the example about how to handle disaster: when all that he owned, as well as all those whom he loved, were taken away in an instant, his first reaction was to thank God for being able to have had them in his life, at all. He said, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away: blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21). Notice how his first acknowledgment was that the Lord gave- that is what we need to focus on.

When we remember those who we have lost or good times that aren’t happening anymore, we need to be thankful for them and not sad that they are gone. When you really think about it, being sad about good things is silly, isn’t it? We should reflect on all the joy that God has provided for us, and even though we are sad, to a degree, that we can’t have that anymore, the fact that we allow it to ruin our day or our attitude is actually doing that memory, and all those who are part of it, a disservice.

When I die, if anyone cares and misses me, I would not want them to be sad when they think of me; rather, I would want them to be joyful and feel good because if I was alive, that is what I would want to do for them. I want to do more than just make people feel good now, while I am alive- I want the memory of my relationship with them to make them happy when I am not there. The best thing I can think of is when someone is sad, they remember me and our relationship together, and that makes them feel better.

I can’t think of a more wonderful legacy than one where the memory of being with me makes someone feel better.

So, for those of you out there who become sad at this time of the year because you remember the good times that you used to have, which (for whatever reason) you can’t have anymore, please take this advice: STOP IT!

Get your head on straight, remember the good times with joy and appreciation because you were blessed by God to have them! Just because things are different now, do not dishonor those who are missing, whether still alive or dead, by allowing your selfish and greedy feelings (which we all have) to sadden you.

How much enjoyment you get from a holiday season, of (for that matter) from life, itself, is entirely up to you. So don’t misuse your memories but appreciate them, savor them like a fine wine, and honor those who are no longer with you by letting the memory of being with them make you happy.

Life goes on, and when it comes down to it, it is better to remember than to be remembered.

Thank you for being here, please subscribe and share these messages with everyone you know to help this ministry grow. I never ask for money, but you could always buy my books. And remember that I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch haShem!

Do All Blessings Come from God?

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BTW…Fall is coming to Florida, so pretty soon I may have to go from muscle shits to T-shirts!  🙂

Now for today’s drash

We know that God loves to bless his children and that he rains on both the just and the unjust, alike (Matthew 5:4.) To me, that means even someone who rejects God will receive blessings from him, if for no other reason than God loves all his children.

Besides those blessings God gives to us simply because he loves us, we can earn blessings through obedience to his commandments (Deut. 28), which means that there is an awful lot of really nice stuff God has for all of us, and he never ever runs out of blessings for us.

But what about the Enemy, the Devil, that old lion HaSatan stalking each and every one of us, trying to place a wedge between us and God? Does he ever do nice things for people?

You bet he does!!

In fact, I believe that Satan gives more good things to people than he does bad things. Why? It’s because when we are given things we like, especially things that are worldly and appeal to our base nature, we become prideful and unappreciative. The Israelites in the desert are a perfect example of this, and for those who are not Jewish don’t think for a moment you are any better than they were. Even after 40 years of seeing bread fall from heaven, water come from rocks, clothes and shoes not worn from the rough terrain, having food and water supplied for over a million people (not to mention millions of animals) and yet, the moment they were had any trouble, they carped and complained and lost faith in the One who had been providing this all along.

They had the same attitude towards God that I used to hear when I was in Sales:

“I know you’ve been the best producer this branch has ever had, but what did you do for me today?” 

I believe that Satan gives many blessings so that when they are taken away, we will curse God. Look at the Bible verses that support this:

Job 2:9– His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Matthew 4:9Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “All this I will give You,” he said, “if You will fall down and worship me.”

Revelation 16:11– And the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness, and men began to gnaw their tongues in anguish and curse the God of heaven for their pains and sores; yet they did not repent of their deeds.

We know that Job did not fall victim to the Devil’s tricks, and neither did Yeshua. But we are told that in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) many will curse God for the pain and suffering they will be going through without realizing that this is as much a chance for them to be saved as it is having to suffer God’s just punishment for their sinfulness.

The Enemy knows that after being blessed with fleshly desires we not only get used to them, we think we deserve them. And when they are taken away, we feel rejected, unjustly punished and we take it out on the one who we think gave us these in the first place- God!  How many people who have been given blessings (Satanists notwithstanding) think that the Devil made it happen? Probably none. We blame the Devil for bad things happening in our lives, but not for the good things. And because we think God is blessing us, when the Devil takes away those things he gave us we don’t blame him- we blame God. We ask “Why?”; we look for reasons we are being punished;  we tend to get sad, melancholy and resentful, which results all too often in our rejecting God.

Can you see how by blessing us the Enemy can turn us against God?

So, nu?  How can I know who gave me the blessings I have? Actually, it’s not so hard to figure it out: if you are being obedient to God’s Torah you will receive blessings. That’s God’s promise, and all his promises are trustworthy. If you know that you are not obedient to Torah and yet, you are receiving blessings, then you have to ask yourself, “Who is giving me so many wonderful things for rejecting God’s commandments?” The answer is obvious, isn’t it? There is only one entity in the universe who will reward people for disobeying God.

One last note on this: if you are doing your best to obey the Torah and find yourself devoid of blessings, or at least having a lot of tsouris, then be happy for that. It means you have successfully rejected the Enemy’s attempt to seduce you and you are getting closer to God, which is why now he is attacking you. Maintain your faith and the blessings will come, eventually, just as they did for Job.

Blessings are able to be earned and also given freely by God to those who love him and show that love by obeying his commandments. If you know that you are disobedient to God’s commandments but have many blessings, you can be fairly certain those blessings are not from God.

This may sound like an oxymoron, but the Bible shows us it is true:

The Enemy gives us wonderful things to take us away from God; God takes away what we have in order to bring us back to him.

Always be certain your blessings are the ones earned through obedience.

Don’t Talk for God

I often read from postings on different discussion groups, Hebrew Roots, Messianic and Christian, of people telling others exactly what is right and wrong in God’s eyes.
Now, there are many things God tells us about Himself, but there are many things He doesn’t.
God gave us commandments, rulings, judgments and statutes (613, to be exact), but what about those things not mentioned? If God says to celebrate a certain festival, does that mean we cannot celebrate any other kind of festival? Too often I read people stating absolutely if it isn’t given by God, then whatever is man-made is wrong and against God.
My question is: “Who are we to decide what is God’s will?”

Parashah B’midbar (In the Wilderness) Numbers 1 – 4:20

In last week’s Parashah ( for 5/20/17, which was a double) we finished the book of Leviticus. That book was mostly legislative in nature, and now we start the book of Numbers, which is more historical. Throughout this book we will learn of the events that occurred while the Children of Israel spent 38 years wandering in the desert.

Numbers takes up where Exodus left off, which is the first day of the second month of the second year after leaving Egypt, when the Tabernacle of the Lord has been completed and is now in service. This parashah starts with a census God orders Moses to take, which identifies the numbers from each tribe of those over 20 and fit for military service. We see this type of census taken, with God’s approval (unlike the one David took in  1 Chronicles, 21) whenever the people needed to be prepared for war. The census did not include the Levites, who were counted separately, as their duties were not for war but service to God by being in charge of the Tabernacle. God also tells Moses which of the Levitical clans will be responsible for which parts of the Tabernacle, as well as the formation of the camp.

Here is a picture of how the encampment was configured:

 

This parashah doesn’t appear to have any really deep and spiritual messages, does it? I mean, all we are told is how many of each tribe there are, where they camp and how they are to march. We are also told which clan of Levi is responsible for which parts of the Tabernacle when on the march. There just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “meat” to this parashah.

Then, again, let’s look a little deeper and cheat a bit, by knowing what is to happen later.

Did you notice that the Kohathites were encamped next to, and marched alongside of, the Reubenites? Do you remember how Reuben had not received the rights of the Firstborn due to his sleeping with one of Israel’s concubines (Genesis 39:3-4), and that Korah also felt slighted because the Kohathites were not to perform the duties of the High Priest. So although we don’t see anything of particular importance in this parashah, by looking back to it later on we can see that the seeds of collusion and rebellion were planted when the tribes of Kohath and Reuben were made neighbors. Perhaps if they had been at opposite ends of the camp, they would not have come together in rebellion?

Certainly God would have known that this placement, which He decreed, would have resulted in the collusion between these men. And, that being a given, we would have to ask, “Why would God have done that?”

Good question. I think I have an answer, which is the same answer God gave to Job: we won’t always understand God’s plans or why He does what He does.

In the case of Job, God allowed all that suffering to show Satan that Job’s faith is greater than Satan’s attacks. Now, from Job’s viewpoint (as well as his friends) there could be no reason why these terrible things were happening, but in the end we learn that the real issue was between God and Satan, not between God and Job. God used Job to show Satan that strong faith in God is more powerful than anything Satan could do.

Perhaps the positioning of Korah and Dathan so close to each other was to test their faith, and if they failed that test (which they did), then to allow Moses and Aaron to be glorified and honored in the sight of all Israel, which is what happened. God used the evil these men intended against His servants to glorify Himself and show Moses and Aaron to be His chosen leaders (Numbers 17:5):

 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

The bible is one complete book, and even though we might not see what message there is for us in one part of it, when we look at it in its entirety, study it well enough to know what will happen and what has happened, then we can see that there is something for us to learn in every part of the book. Such as in this parashah, which on the surface seems to be a collection of names and numbers, but when looked at knowing the events that will later occur, we can see how God is setting the stage now to glorify Himself later.

This understanding of how God works should fortify our faith in God, and give us comfort during times of trials. Just because we may not see, here and now, what God has planned we can always know that He does have something planned. It just may not be time for whatever he has planned to happen, that’s all.

Take comfort in knowing that everything God does, He does with a plan to glorify His name and to establish His rule. When we accept that and work within it, we will be blessed and supported by God, just as Moses and Aaron were; when we work against what God decrees, we will suffer as Korah and his followers did.

We all follow someone, so take the lesson from today’s parashah when you choose whom to follow, that lesson being: look passed the obvious and ask the Ruach Ha Kodesh for insight so you can see not only what seeds are being sown, but what will grow from them.

Parashah Va-Arya (And He spoke) Exodus 6:2 – 9

Moses had just asked God why He didn’t free the Israelites as He said He would, and God answers that He will. He tells Moses that He is God, He will do what He said he will do, and He lays out the plan for redemption from slavery: God tells Moses what He will do, Moses tells Aaron to tell Pharaoh, and Pharaoh will ignore them.

The plagues come: the river turns to blood, then frogs, next gnats (at this plague the magicians cannot duplicate God’s work), then flies (at this point the land of Goshen is separated and protected whereas everyone else in Egypt is under the plague), next cattle blight, boils (now it’s not just the land and the animals, but the people are afflicted, too) and the last plague in this parashah is the hail that falls as hail from the sky but burns as fire on the ground. This last plague is the worst one yet because so far only animals have died, but now anyone caught in the hail will die. In fact, Moses warns Pharaoh to make sure his people know to protect their property and themselves by staying inside.

What is wonderful about this parashah is that God lays out a plan and works it to perfection. He starts off “Even-Steven” with the magicians, who duplicate the first three miraculous works (rod to snake, Nile to blood, and frogs). I believe this was to make sure everyone was on the same page, to to speak. Then, God upped the ante by creating gnats, which the magicians could not do. Next, he raised the bar with flies that attacked everyone except His people, Israel. Not only did God prove His power to create and destroy, but He also proved His power to save and protect- He attacked the Egyptians and in the very midst of them protected His people. The bar was raised even higher when God attacked the people of Egypt with boils, so badly so that even the magicians (who represented the religion and gods of Egypt) were so stricken they couldn’t even appear in court. The hail took it to a whole new level- now not just the land and the animals were dying, but the people who were caught in the hail died, too.

Except for the Hebrews living in Goshen.

And yet, with all these wondrous miracles, Pharaoh remained unmoved by the power of God.

Many people have a similar problem, which is that they fail to recognize and stand in awe of the miracles God performs, every day. It seems that Pharaoh was looking for reasons to diminish the wonder and awesomeness of God: when the magicians duplicated God’s miracles, Pharaoh brushed Moses and Aaron aside. When the other plagues hit, each time Pharaoh confessed his wrongdoing and conceded to allow the Jews to worship if Moses would only stop the plague. But when the plague stopped, he reneged.

Perhaps one reason he didn’t take these plagues seriously was because he thought that since Moses could turn them on and off, they weren’t so much. They were controllable, they were explainable, so they weren’t really such miraculous things. Maybe?

Today we see miracles everyday, everywhere, yet we don’t acknowledge them as such. Why? Because the new religion of the day, “Science”, can explain how it happens. Human pride and human arrogance makes us believe that if we understand how something works it isn’t a miracle, or even special. Understanding of how God’s miraculous wonders (i.e., life) work lessens God in our sight, and makes us less appreciative and respectful of Him.

There is a story about when the greatest scientists in the world gathered for a meeting to discuss all the advancements in science that have been made. They are talking about how, now that we have been able to map and read the entire human genome, we will soon be able to cure all diseases and infirmities, and how with cloning we will be able to make people in the image we want. They got to the point where they told God He wasn’t needed anymore. God asked them, “Do you think you can make a human being from a lump of clay?” The scientists discussed it and replied, “Yes. We believe we can.” God says, “OK- show me!” and they go out and pick up a large lump of clay. They are about to carry it into their lab when God says, “Oh, you can’t use that- that’s my clay. You have to make your own!”

Just because we can understand how a miracle works doesn’t make it any less of a miracle. For instance, Job 36:26-29 says:

How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out. 27 “He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streamsc28 the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind. 29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?

This verse shows that they understood water goes into the sky, is stored as clouds, then falls back to Earth. Even with this basic understanding of the process, the speaker is still in awe of the fact that it is done!  Today we really don’t understand it all that much better. We know about evaporation, water vapor, electromagnetic forces that cause lightning, the thunder is the rushing of wind back into the vacuum caused by the lightening, etc.  We understand it, we can even create it at will, but does that make it any less miraculous? We can understand it, we can re-create it, but we didn’t create it. We didn’t create any of this. Sure, we can create a lightning bolt, but that’s because we saw the original one and figured out how it can be done. But what about the One who created it first? What about the One who thought it first?

The Jews in the desert saw manna come from nowhere, they saw water come from rocks, birds come from far way and land at their feet. Their clothes didn’t wear out and their shoes survived walking in the hot, desert sands and rocks. A million or more people, not to mention many millions of animals- all fed and watered, surviving in the most desolate and unforgiving of environments anywhere in the world. And what did they do? They kvetched, over and over, about having to leave Egypt, where they seem to have forgotten how horrible their lives were.

We think that because we see something every day, or because we understand the process, the creator of those things is not so much. Yeah, you make fire fall from the sky but so can I with a plane and a napalm bomb. So what?

So this: God is the Creator and Controller of all things. What we copy, He created. What we try to understand, He originated. What we think we know how it works, He designed from scratch. What we try to manufacture with scientific tools, He made with a thought.

Don’t be a Pharaoh, be a Job. Remain totally awe-struck and appreciative of the miracles that God does, every day. Look for them- a flower opens in the morning and closes at night; the bees know how to dance and communicate better than the most accurate GPS; the surf knows just how far it can come into the land; the prey animals are born able to run within an hour and the predators take years to learn to hunt. There are miracles all around us, inside us, above and underneath us. There are miracles we have been allowed to understand and there are miracles we will never understand. Yet, they all are still miracles and the One who has created these is still totally awesome and powerful beyond any human understanding.

Don’t take God for granted.

That’s Not My Job

In the Gospels Yeshua tells us that if we so much as lust after someone with our eyes we have already committed adultery. That’s a tough lesson to listen to, especially in a world where we are constantly bombarded by sexual commercials and ads telling us how to be more attractive and showing off how attractive others are.

But there is a difference between looking at someone who you recognize as beautiful/handsome, and stripping them down with your eyes while imagining how the rest of it could go.

I thought I would try to do as Job said he did, i.e. make a covenant with my eyes not to look at any young girls. I asked God to help me overcome what I am as much conditioned to do as (maybe) sinfully want to do, and I asked Him again, and again, and again. I asked him to keep me from staring at beautiful women; in fact, I asked Him to take all sexual thoughts from me, completely.

Here is the answer He gave me:  “Not my job.”

HUH? Not your job? But, but, but…we are told that whatever we ask for we will receive, and that you answer prayers, and, and, and ..uh…uh…that when we ask in Yeshua’s name we will receive what we ask for. I want you to take this from me! I want to have clean thoughts only, I want to be acceptable before you always. You know, like David prayed in the Psalms: create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit in me, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart always be acceptable before thee.  Aren’t these good things to ask of you? Isn’t this the kind of prayer you will not just acknowledge but one that you want to hear? Whassup with this, “Not my job” thing?

That’s when God answered me, again. I didn’t hear some majestic voice thundering, and it wasn’t even a still, quiet voice. It was a thought that just came into my head: one so simple, one so truthful, and one so significant and demonstrative of God’s ways that I knew it wasn’t from my brain. God made me to understand His answer.

“It doesn’t work that way. I won’t just take this from you because then when you need to learn how to call on My Spirit to help you, you won’t know how to. Spiritual strength is like any other strength- it needs to be exercised to reach it’s full potential. If I just take away sin from someone, they won’t have the spiritual strength to stand up against the enemy when he comes at them.”

It’s like the parable Yeshua tells about the man cleansed of a demon, and after the demon roamed the earth he came back into the very same man because the house had been cleaned, but it was empty. The lesson is that when the man was made clean, he didn’t do anything to fill himself with God. He was cleansed without any actions of his own, and when the demon came back he had no defence against it. Similarly, just being made pure in thought by having God “rewire” my CPU won’t help me to keep it that way.

We all, each of us, have to go through the fire of purification. We have God there to help and guide us, and His Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) to comfort us as we struggle with ourselves, but in the end, it must be us, it must be you, it must be me who overcome the sin in ourselves.

Didn’t God tell Cain that sin crouches at his door and is waiting for him? And more than just that warning, God told Cain that he-Cain- must conquer it!

Right from the start we are told that we must conquer the sinfulness in us. God will help us, God will guide us, God will provide (and already has, in Messiah Yeshua) the means for us to be acceptable when we fail to overcome our sin. But, day to day, we each must work at strengthening our spiritual muscles so that we can overcome the sin in our lives and stand up to the enemy when he comes at us.

Ask God to strengthen you, to guide you, to send His Ruach to comfort and ease your pain, and continually thank him for Messiah Yeshua, who is the ultimate Get-Out-Of-Jail card for everyone who does T’shuvah in his or her own heart, then asks forgiveness from God in Yeshua’s name.

That is how it works.  We must first want to turn from our sins, then accept the grace God gave through His Messiah (Yeshua/Jesus) so we have forgiveness despite our own failure to be sinless, then after accepting Yeshua as our Messiah we can be given the Ruach HaKodesh to comfort, guide and help us through knowledge and understanding of God’s ways so that even though the journey is difficult, we will know the way to walk.

God will answer prayers, God is always there, and God wants us all to turn from our sin and live. He is clear about that throughout the bible. With God we are able to do this, but God is not an enabler- He will always help us, but we have to do it. He will guide us, but we have to walk. He will lift us up when we fall and help direct us to the right path, but we need to keep going.

When it comes to salvation, God has provided it.

When it comes to forgiveness of sins, Yeshua has provided it.

When it comes to overcoming the sin in ourselves, that’s not His job- it’s ours.

God Would be a lousy psychiatrist

Have you ever been to therapy? Not physical therapy, but emotional/mental therapy? I did when I was a kid, for about 6 months, and also when going through my divorce, for almost a year.

It did some good, but I have found that a loving partner, or even a good friend, can be just as helpful.

I respect the science of how the brain works, but I am not very happy with my experiences.

God is loving and compassionate, and he understands us better than any human could, right? I wouldn’t really expect anyone to disagree with that statement, and yet God doesn’t ask, “Why do feel that way?” He asks, “Why should you feel that way?” He doesn’t ask you to explain your feelings, He asks you to justify them.

Here are some questions that God has asked:

Where are you? Who told you that you were naked? What is this you have done? (Genesis 3)

Where is your brother Abel? What have you done? (Genesis 4)

Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? (2 Samuel 12)

Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? (Luke 22)

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9)

These are questions that are straightforward and don’t ask about how the person feels about what they have done, but asks the person to justify what they have done. God doesn’t want us to “work it out”, He wants us to do what is right. There is no, “I’m OK, you’re OK” ideology, there is no concern for how we feel about ourselves or what our parents did to us, or how society has changed us. It’s not about us, it’s about Him. When God is asking the questions we need to give Him answers, not excuses (Job 38:3), and we need to stand forth and “suck it up” when we do.

We are a world of victims, and it’s always the other one’s fault that I am the way I am or do the things I do. The system of political correctness and worrying about everyone’s feelings has destroyed truth. Really, it has- we can’t simply tell someone they have done a lousy job. If we do, we are accused of being discompassionate. Does God worry about that? Doesn’t God come right out and challenge us, in Ezekiel 18:25 , to face up to the fact that it is our way, the way of people, that is really unfair, and not God’s way which is unfair?  God has rules, He doesn’t want to hear our lame excuses. He knows we are weak and unable to do all that He commands of us, at least, not all at once and always. I think that we are all capable of doing everything that God wants of us, but not all the time and not all at once. We do right, we fall, we get up and do more right, we stumble, etc.

Because God is loving, compassionate and forgiving we continue to receive His help, His guidance and His patience. But we are still doing wrong, we are still responsible, and God will not accept excuses.  If we do not want to really stop sinning, God will know, and whether or not we “call on the name of the Lord”, if we don’t really care about doing T’Shuvah, we will not be accepted into His kingdom.

God is not a good psychiatrist because He doesn’t really care about how we feel, He just wants us to do what is right in His eyes. That is not to make Him feel better, it is so that we will live eternally. God has our best interests at His heart, and that is why He will not accept our excuses or care whether or not we feel a certain way about it. He will not guide us roundabout the truth or allow us to compromise His rules for our emotional satisfaction. God will simply say, “Not gonna happen your way. Here is the way it is done, here is how you are to act, don’t moan to me about it. Go tell yo mamma about your hurt feelings, and in the meantime- get with the program!”

I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone who is a therapist or counsellor or psychiatric professional- I am not really satisfied with what I have experienced and seen, but I am sure many, many people have been helped to lead a better life through proper therapy. This really isn’t about “dissing” the science or the practice- it is that when we come before God we must tell the truth about why we do what we do. We can’t blame anyone else, we can’t expect that having a “reason” for not doing what God says we should do will hold any water with Him, and we certainly shouldn’t accuse Him of having commandments and regulations  that aren’t valid anymore. And whatever you do, please don’t try to use that old, worn-out lie from the pit of Sheol that the Torah is only for Jews and you don’t have to obey it because you are saved by the blood of Jesus. News flash! Jesus didn’t die so you could keep sinning!

We need to stand up, be bold, not be afraid, and accept the consequences of what we do and say (or don’t do and don’t say.) God will ask questions and judge us, and He won’t care about our feelings.

We need to be as God tells us to be, in the Torah, through the Prophets, and through the teachings of Yeshua and His disciples (which are, for the record, completely in line with and do not in any way overrule the Torah.)  There are no excuses- yes, it is true we are incapable of being all God tells us to be all the time, but we can become better. We can be less of what we shouldn’t be and more of what we should be, and we can do that without excuses.

Stand up for the truth, and if you are concerned that the system of the world will not allow you to speak God’s truth, then speak God’s truth, anyway. Screw the world system- it’s done for, already. The world system is in a downward spiral, and it will not last; God’s system will last forever: it is all that there is, all there will be and all that matters, forever and ever, Amen!

Be (totally) truthful with yourself, be (compassionately) truthful with people, and be (absolutely) truthful with God. Yeshua told us that “The truth will set you free.” He was talking about the truth regarding God’s kingdom, but the truth of the matter is that truth, wherever and whenever it is told, will always set you free.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Just shoot me!! It seems like everyone brought back problems from their long weekend and they all are taking a long time to resolve.

To remind you, I am a Help Desk Tech and I thought yesterday was going OK, not too bad during the morning, then all of a sudden, late in the afternoon, I resolved one ticket and looked at my board and there were 7 new tickets. No way was I going to be able to get to them all today.

I remember years ago, when I was working in home remodeling as a Project Coordinator (the person who ordered the materials, assigned the crew to the job and scheduled it with the customer) that I was trying to learn how to rely on the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) for strength and endurance (emotional), and after asking God to teach me how to do that, my job responsibilities doubled, literally, overnight.

At first I reacted as a human, seeing only the “flesh” in that situation, and thought, “Somebody shoot me! NOW!” It wasn’t until a few days after this happened that I (finally) realized that this was the answer to my prayer. I asked God to teach me to rely on His spirit, and for that to happen I need to be in a place where my own strength will not be enough. I will need to be “up the creek without a paddle” because to fall into the hands of the Holy One of Israel, you need to be falling with nothing else to hold onto.

That’s how we humans are-always wanting to save ourselves, never wanting to admit that we can’t. It is a kind of conundrum, since self-preservation is a natural reaction whereas to call on God is something we have to think to do. For us, myself included, calling on God should be the first thing we do, but it seems to come in second or third when the chips are down. We seem, I seem, to always default to trying to figure it out on my own.

So, I asked God for help and He threw me into the fire. Thank you, Lord, for answering my prayer, even though it was a bit of a shocker. As many of us have learned, God always answers prayers, but rarely exactly the way we expect Him to and most often not when we want Him to.

I want to reconcile with my children and have done everything I know how to do, without doing what I know won’t work anyway, and I am in a place where I have only God to help me. I ask that He send them angels to guide them to Him, or to give them a spirit of curiosity to know what Dad’s side in this travesty is, or just to get us sending each other an occasional email. I just want them back in my life, and I want to be part, any part (other than the past) of their lives. I trust God to answer this prayer, but I don’t trust my kids to do their part.

You see, I believe that God will send angels, and that God will give them a spirit of curiosity, but each and every one of us has the free will God gave us to choose what we will do, and even though whatever God wants done will get done, God will not force someone to accept Him. And God will not force anyone to love anyone else.

God will lead us to water but He won’t make us drink- we have to choose to drink. And when we ask God for something in our lives, assuming that we ask for something that is righteous and in His will for us, He will be trustworthy and faithful to answer that prayer. So you better be ready, and looking for that answer.

I am careful, now, what I ask of God because I know the power of prayer and that God will do what is best for me, in the long run. That means it may not seem like the best for me when it happens. I ask for Him to show me, without doubt, like with Gideon and the fleece, what He wants of me. But it scares the heck out of me that when I hear that answer I won’t be strong enough to obey. So I also pray that when He does answer me, He will also make it so that I have the strength and faithfulness to do what He asks.

I know myself- if God wants me to do something that I will have to do without my wife, I don’t think I can. If He requires me to do something that means we have to move away from this house, I don’t think I can. I am not strong enough, faithful enough, and it scares me to death that I will finally hear, absolutely, what God wants of me and I will “pull a Jonah.”

That’s why I am careful what I ask for. I confess, and I hope you don’t think less of me, but I am still struggling to find the strength that Moshe found, that David lived, that Hosea showed and that the Talmudim of Yeshua had, which enabled them to suffer with dignity.

Yet, with all the fear and trembling I have when asking God to strengthen me, I still ask. That’s because, in the long run, it’s all about what He wants and it’s all about what He desires. It’s not about me, or Donna, or my family, or my job….He can replace all of that (as he did with Job.)  No, Steve- it’s not about what you want: it’s all about what He wants.

And to make it worse, even though I would like Him to wait until I feel ready, I know He knows better than me when I am ready and He will not give me anything I cannot handle.

That’s the scary part: I know no matter how impossible it seems, I have no excuse because when God is with me, who can be against me?

Truth is Simple

Walter Scott wrote a poem called Marmion and it was in that poem that he wrote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!”  It shows the fruitlessness of lying, but more than that: it shows how convoluted things become when we leave the truth.

One of the country’s greatest writers and humorists, Mark Twain, said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Let’s not forget what Yeshua said about the truth: the truth will set you free.

Truth is simple, and that’s the truth. Truth has no image to maintain, no “spin” is needed, but as with most things that are simple, the truth is often hard to take.

“Yes, those pants make your butt look bigger.” That’s the truth, but if you speak it, the truth is that you will be sleeping on the couch.

In fact, humans (at least in our society, it seems) are so averse to hearing the truth that if you say something that is truthful, such as telling someone who is doing a poor job at something (even if you are their supervisor and it is your responsibility to do so), if you just come out and tell them they are doing a lousy job, you are in trouble with HR. Not them; you! Because you told the truth, but you didn’t think about their feelings. How can we think about someone’s feelings, in a society where we are all victims, and still tell the truth?

If we “sugarcoat” the truth so much that it tastes good, then how much “good” can it really do?

The bottom line about truth, which it seems no one wants to hear, is that we are not really in total control or complete charge of ourselves. We never have been and we never will be. We are all interrelated, we cannot be without each other, and we cannot survive totally on our own.

As Yeshua said, we are all a slave to something: either a slave to God or a slave to sin. The only real freedom we have is to choose what we will be a slave to.

People want to hear what they want to hear. The truth is not something they want to hear, so the world tells us lies and teaches us to be liars. If someone looks silly in the clothes they have on, don’t say they look silly, tell them they look fine. If someone doesn’t do the job the way they are supposed to, don’t tell them, don’t fire them or pay them less. And don’t “upset” the poor workers- give them a raise just like the good workers get. And when someone says God doesn’t exist, or that His laws are done away with, don’t disagree with them and don’t tell them you believe He does exist and that His laws are still valid because you shouldn’t upset them.

I am not saying that we should talk to each other in a totally callous and unfeeling way, but we need to be truthful. We need to be able to tell the truth compassionately. If someone looks silly we should say that we don’t think the clothes they are wearing look right, and they would look better if they wore something that matched better. We don’t have to say they look silly, but we should say they would look better because what they are wearing doesn’t do them justice. That’s telling the truth in a compassionate way, don’t you think?

If someone is not doing their job correctly, we need to tell them, and we can do that simply by telling the truth: there is an accepted way of doing this job and you haven’t been following that process. Here is the way this is to be done and you need to do it this way. If you think you have a better way, great- talk to me about it and we will see if it can work, but in the meantime, you need to do it this way.

The ultimate truth is that God is in charge, that we can’t understand His ways, and that we need to trust Him to do what is best. That same truth continues: we don’t have control over what we don’t have control over. People are, for the most part, cruel, self-centered and sinful. Sorry, that’s the truth- the Bible is pretty clear on that, as is our own life experience. We have our occasional good ones, and I hope you are one of those, but we are sinful and our nature is to sin: we are sinful sinners, and the more readily we accept that truth, the easier it is to see how much we need Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to help us to overcome ourselves. That’s the only chance we have for being in God’s presence when all is done, and the best way to improve ourselves. You can’t change what you don’t know is wrong.

The ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself” is a call to truth. Know who you are, what you are capable of, and why you do what you do. I don’t think we need to go through years of psychoanalysis to do this, we just need to accept the truth unabashedly and with courage. Cowards hate the truth, hero’s seek it out. Which are you?

The truth is that the truth often sucks. That’s the way it is, and the truth is you can’t change that. To accept it is the first step on the path to peace, really. I am not saying to be apathetic, to be a fatalist and say that you can’t make any changes or do anything, or that everything happens because God is in charge and, thereby, blame the Lord for your own failures to act. I am asking you to remember that old adage about accepting what you can’t change, changing what you can, and knowing the difference.

Trying to do what we can’t do is frustrating and leads to anger and disappointment- those are the kinds of things that lead to the Dark Side. Anger, unforgiveness, frustration of wanting someone else to do what you think they should do and living with the fact that they won’t is the kind of mindset that will prevent you from doing what God wants, which is to forgive them and love them, anyway. When we learn to focus on what we can do and not obsess over what we can’t change we will be much happier, and set a better example of what God wants us to be.

The truth will set you free from frustration and disappointment, and when you are truthful in a compassionate way you can not only be free, but help others to be free, too.

And that, my friends, is the truth.