Why I Do This

In this ministry, I have been posting about 3 times a week for nearly 6 years now. I have added different categories, improved my website, created a Facebook page, purchased a video creation program (so people can either read or watch my messages), and written three books.  I also have started to add personal pictures and videos now and then.

If you prefer to watch a video (which is why I bought the app), click on this link: Watch the video.

I have not made money from any of this. Although the people who have bought and read my books have given me positive feedback, they are not making any professional authors shake in their boots. I doubt Oprah will ever recommend me. I do this because I have the same feeling that Jeremiah had (not that I could ever come close to the class he is in) in that I feel a need to announce to everyone what I believe to be correct information about God and his salvation through the Messiah.

I do not tell anyone what they should believe in or what they should do- that is totally their decision. All I want to do is make sure that whatever decision they make, they make it using good information.

It’s just like when I used to go to people’s homes from telemarketing leads to sell them siding or windows. That type of sale is called a One Call Close, but you actually need to “close” them three times:

  1. your first close is to get the homeowner to buy the idea that they should let you into the house;
  2. the second close is to get them to admit they would like to buy your product; and
  3. the final close is to get them to actually buy it.

When I was working on the first close, I very often was met with the statement,” If you are going to try to sell me something you might as well leave now. No matter what you say I am not buying anything today!” My answer was, “It’s your money- I won’t tell you how to use it. But let me ask you something: when you do buy something, do you buy it without any knowledge of what you are buying, or do you make an informed decision about what you buy?”

The answer was always that they make an informed decision- this is what we call asking a question to which you already know the answer.

So, once they answered me, I would say, “That’s the best way to buy something. All I want to do is give you the information you need to make an informed decision. What you do after that is up to you.”

I am not interested in telling people what to do, only giving them the correct information so they know what they are doing.

When we read the Bible, this is what God has always done. God has never dictated what we must do. What he has done is to tell us IF you do this I will bless you this way, and IF you don’t you will be punished this way. He gives us the information then tells us to choose life or death. He then recommends we choose life, i.e. to obey him.

In Deuteronomy 28, Moses states the blessings God promises for obedience to his instructions, as well as the curses for disobedience, and after telling all these things to the people, in Deuteronomy 30:19-20 Moses says:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I try to teach the truth about who God is and how “salvation” works. Most religions teach that God loves us and wants to bless us (which is all true) and that when we accept Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah we are “saved” from hell because he died for our sins. This is all true, but it isn’t the whole truth. They tell you when you faithfully accept Yeshua as your Messiah you are forgiven of your sins, but what they neglect to mention (what Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story”) is that without repentance, there cannot be forgiveness. God will not forgive someone who isn’t repentant. They also forget to remind us that the blessings God has for us are dependent upon our obedience-when we reject what God says we should do, we reject the blessings he wants to give us.

Here is what I have found to be a very hard thing for many people to grasp:

we are saved by our faith and not by what we do, but what we do shows how genuine our faith really is.

In other words, you can’t have your cake (constant, unrepentant sin) and eat it, too (still receive forgiveness.)

You can’t be a consistent, unrepentant sinner and receive forgiveness. Unfortunately, this is the message many religions teach.

God has no religion and his commandments, all of them, are for everyone. This is what I announce to the world, in different ways using different stories, so that people have the information they need to make the right decision about where they will spend eternity.

 

Thank you for being here; if you like what you hear please SUBSCRIBE using the button in the right-hand margin, and use the link above to subscribe to my Youtube channel, as well. Share me out, buy my books, help me get the information people need to know out to them.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Stuff Happens

Before we begin today’s message, let me get the administrative stuff out of the way:

Please, if you haven’t yet done so, SUBSCRIBE to this website by going to the right-hand margin and clicking on the SUBSCRIBE button. This way you will be notified when I post something. Also, if you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

 

This has been an interesting week: it started last Thursday night when Donna (my wife) broke a molar. The dentist couldn’t see her until yesterday, and fortunately, there was no pain.  The result is about $350 for a crown.

Next, the Saturday after she broke the molar we noticed the freezer wasn’t keeping things too cold, and by Sunday we knew that the fridge wasn’t working. Long story short, we couldn’t get anyone (after calling half a dozen appliance repairmen) to even look at it until the other day, and they need to order a part which, as I am writing this now on Friday morning (almost a week after the fridge died) we still don’t know if the part is even here. Yesterday Donna spent the whole morning throwing away who-knows-how-much money worth of food that we couldn’t use anymore because it had been defrosted and sitting unrefrigerated for days.  The repair will cost us somewhere around $350, as well, without even considering the cost of replacing the foodstuffs.

So, what do we do? Complain? There are many who would say they are “under attack” and try to figure out why God is punishing them.

“Oy! I’m on a fixed income and I just lost close to $1,000 by the time we replace the food! What did I do to deserve this?” 

Is that the right thing to do? If you’re asking me, I would say no. Are there times when we are under attack from the Enemy? I am sure there are- usually, when people first turn to God and Messiah they find troubles abound. That’s because the Enemy doesn’t care about people when they don’t care about God but once God becomes important to them, he attacks them to turn them back away from God. Think of the parable (drash) Yeshua told of the sower and the seeds in Matthew 13:18; the seed that was immediately eaten by the birds is similar to those who come to God and are quickly turned away.

I see this as what happens to you when you live in a fallen world. There are two kinds of gravity: the one in the physical world that is an attraction between objects, and a spiritual gravity, which is what attracts us to spiritual things. For instance, if I drop my cup of coffee, it falls to the ground and spills. I have a mess and, worse than that, no more coffee: that is the physical gravity we live with.

Now, if I find the iniquity in my inner being pulling me to, say, porn sites or to take advantage of someone so I can gain something of theirs, that is a gravity of the spiritual nature which attracts me to the Enemy. Or- I could feel the need to help someone in trouble, buy food for a homeless person on the street or donate to a godly cause, and that gravity is a spiritual gravity that attracts me to God.

Currently, I don’t feel under attack because we got hit with both physical and financial tsouris all within a few days. It is just the sort of stuff that happens in this plane of existence. We will get by, and here is what I do when this sort of thing happens that is the main message for today:

When (bad) stuff happens, I thank God for what we do have.

I thank God that we have the money to pay for these things, that we even have a refrigerator that we own. I thank God that we even had food to lose! I thank God that Donna wasn’t in pain and that the problem wasn’t worse than what it is.

And I could go on and on and on thanking God for what we DO have, instead of complaining about what we lost.

We live in a fallen and cursed world, which will never be kind or generous or even fair. That shouldn’t come as a surprise or a revelation to anyone. But what might surprise you is that when things get bad, when you have more tsouris than you can imagine, what will help you get through it is to thank God for what you do have. Just the act of making a list of the blessings you still have will reduce the impact of what you have lost.

And always, always, ALWAYS trust in God to provide: it may not be what you want, but it will always be exactly what you need.

So when bad things happen, make that list of the blessings you still have. Even when you lose something valuable to you, you can thank God for letting you have it for as long as you did.

No matter how terrible the tsouris you are going through when you make a list of the blessings you have received and still have I guarantee that you will begin to feel better.

Parashah Chayye Sarah (Life of Sarah) Genesis 23:1 – 25:18

In this parashah both Sarah and Abraham come to their deaths, and Isaac gets a wife. Abraham has told his servant to make sure that his son never goes back to the place where they came from, and this theme is repeated throughout the bible.
What’s so bad about going back to Egypt?

Your Salvation is Not in God’s Hands

Salvation is provided for you by God, and guaranteed to remain available to you by God, but your personal salvation is not in God’s hands- it is in your hands.

God has provided Messiah, and Messiah provided the means for us to be forgiven without the Temple ( the sin and guilt sacrifices had to be slaughtered in the courtyard of the Temple, so after it was destroyed there was no longer any place for us to sacrifice and be forgiven), so the only thing left with regard to our salvation is now in our hands.

We must be the ones to ask for it; we must do T’shuvah (repentance, literally “to turn” from sin), and we must maintain that attitude and demonstrate our true repentance by producing good fruits, which starts with observance and obedience to God’s will and commandments found in Torah and subsequent scripture. 

Too many people are taught that “once saved, always saved”, which implies that once you ask for forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrifice, then you have it always. No matter what you do or say or how you act, once saved…well, that ain’t the way it happens, Folks! Once saved, always saved AS LONG AS you continue to repent of your sins (which we will always do, no matter how hard we try not to) and AS LONG AS you continue to study the word, edify each other, love more than you did before and show everyone that God has changed you through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) by your actions and words. 

We must show that we are able to love more, forgive readily, glorify God, obey His word (all of it, from Genesis through Revelation), maintain an attitude of humility and servitude to God, constantly ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, and pray for the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us sin less. 

Not every one of us is going to be able to do every thing on that list, or all of it all at the same time, consistently, but these are the things we need to do. That’s a lot of things to do, and none of them are easy. It’s all up to you to demonstrate your obedience (to Torah), which includes your repentance (of your sins), through which you gain your justification (by Yeshua’s sacrifice), which provides your salvation (the Grace of God.)

The more you obey, the more blessings you get; the more you “die to self”, the more you can be filled with the Ruach haKodesh; the more you work at it, the more you will get from it. 

Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it? And why not? Salvation IS life, and our life on earth is designed for one purpose- we spend time here to choose where we spend eternity. 

And that, again, is totally up to you to decide for yourself. 

 

 

hating is easier than loving

They say good always triumphs over evil, and love conquers everything. I believe that both are true, but only in a spiritual sense: in the real world, I have seen that hate can be stronger than love and evil often wins out.

Sometimes evil does get what’s coming to it in the real world, but it always reaps the whirlwind in the afterlife.

I know people who can’t let go of their anger or hatred, and I can see it eating away their kishka’s (intestines) slowly. Hatred is a wormwood that infects the heart, and since (biblically) the heart is the source of intelligence, when we hate we not only damage relationships, but we get stupid, too!

Anger from pridefulness leads to hatred, unforgiveness feeds the hatred, and jealousy is (maybe) the worst form of hatred. And I believe (disagree if you want- that’s OK) that hatred is stronger than love in most people. To me, love is like clear, fresh water that extinguishes all anger and pride, whereas hatred is an all-consuming fire that is never satisfied and feeds on itself, never getting smaller and always growing stronger.

If we hate someone, usually they hate us back, but love is very often unrequited. In the long run, many more people love someone who doesn’t love them back, yet hatred will almost always return hatred. That’s how it feeds on itself. And hating is easy- very easy! To hate you only need to love yourself more than others, be prideful and unforgiving, and want everything to go your way. You see anyone and anything that prevents your desires from coming to fruition as the enemy. That is almost a description of human nature, isn’t it? Hating is a curse- not to the other person, but to the one who hates. Yet- we don’t care! Once we are in “hate mode”, we are gone! We lose control of our senses, our emotions, and we do and say things that will hurt ourselves and everyone around us. Hatred is death.

Love, on the other hand, is gentle, takes strength of character and humility, is forgiving and accepts everyone as they are, whether or not we agree with their choices. No mater what, we still love them. We know that they are children of God and if you love God, you have to love (at least, a little) His children.  I am not speaking about “hold me-kiss me-marry me”  love, but love in the spiritual sense.

Shaul (Paul) says in 1 Corinthians 13 that without love, he is nothing.  Hatred eats us alive, from the inside out, and then grows beyond us affecting everything and everyone we come into contact with. Well, love does the same thing, only it strengthens us from the inside out, and our love for others will also affect everyone and everything around us, but instead of burning and hurting (as hate does), love makes people feel better about themselves and the world. It may only last a moment with them, but it makes an impression. Even those that are consumed by hatred will be convicted by our loving example and will (probably) feel uncomfortable around us.

Hate is easy because it it fits well with our sinful personality. Love is hard because it takes self-sacrifice, forgiveness, and compassion- the exact opposite of what we call “human nature.”

“So, Mr. Cynical Steve, if you are so certain that hate is easier than love, and hatred is the norm, why even bother with love? How can we possibly attain it?” The answer is that God is able to show you how to love. God loved us all, even while we were sinners, enough to forgive us over and over, and finally to allow His only son to die so we could be saved. Yeshua loved us enough to give up, for all eternity, His divinity and take on a mantle of flesh so that He could die in order to save us from ourselves.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends .” (John 15:13)

This is the example we need to live up to, and with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) dwelling inside us, we are encouraged to love. Hatred is a fire; fire can be extinguished with water; Yeshua (Jesus) said He is the Living Water, and that is what we need so we can extinguish hatred and become free of the fire. The waters of the this world can run dry, but the Living Water is always available.

The easy way is usually not the best way, just like if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. We have to fight to be loving, we have to run the race with our eyes on the prize to keep hatred behind us, we have to be willing to sacrifice our pride, and we need to understand that even when others hurt us we have to love them back. None of these things are easy to do, and are even harder to maintain when we are in a relationship that feeds on anger and unforgiveness.

I read a book once called “The Dance of Anger” (by Harriet Lerner) which said that when two people are in a relationship that is fed by negative reinforcement and destructive, when one of the two try to change it, even when that change is beneficial and good, the other person will go out of their way to bring the relationship back into disharmony because it has become comfortable. In other words, if we argue all the time and I try to stop arguing, you will be the one who constantly tries to start an argument. Or, if you try to calm me and work with me, I will do everything I can to undermine your attempts at peace so we go back to hurting each other. I read that book in my previous life, when I was in a very bad marriage, and what the book says is true. I ate crow for months, and did everything I could to avoid arguments. I even accepted that my family, my friends, and everything I ever held dear to myself (including my morals) were wrong. Yet, whenever I tried to make the relationship better, she tried to bring it back to where it was. She wanted to vent, and the more she vented, the windier it got- there was no venting because the fire of hatred and unforgiveness is unquenchable.

The answer to hatred is that you need to just stop hating, i.e. remove the fuel: that is the only way to put out the fire. With humans it is very hard- nearly impossible, but with God, all things are possible..

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.

 

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

No, I am not going to review the story- who doesn’t know about “The Flood”?

Some interesting points:

  • Noah did not bring in all the animals two-by-two: he brought in the clean animals seven-by-seven, and the unclean two-by-two;
  • He first sent out a raven, which could have fed on any carrion left but not indicate if it was safe for them to leave the Ark, so later he sent a dove which only would feed on vegetation, indicating the waters had receded;
  • the rainbow wasn’t necessarily created after the flood, but it was now used to signify the covenant that God made with Noah;
  • before the Flood mankind ate only fruits and vegetables, but now mankind is allowed to eat meat, so long as there is no blood in the meat;
  • this was (probably) the very first time that rain fell on the earth, as we are told that the garden and the earth was watered by a mist in the morning.

When Noah was lying drunk and uncovered (Gen. 9:20-28), Ham (as described in the Chumash)  laughed about it with his brothers (was disrespectful) instead of covering his father, as his brothers did. The result is that Noah curses Canaan, the son of Ham, to be a slave to his brothers.

God, on the other hand, swore (Gen. 8:21-22) that He would never again hold the entire human race guilty of the sins of the individuals. Noah cursed Ham by cursing Ham’s son, and that curse was for all the generations of Ham. In a way, God relented of cursing the multitude for the sins of the individuals, but Noah cursed the multitude (all descendants) for the curse of an individual. To me, this shows that even a righteous man, which Noah was, will be less generous and merciful than God in his actions towards his fellow man (and woman.)

The final story of this parashah is the Tower of Babel, again a story that almost everyone knows. Just a single thought today on this: if the tower had been built as an alter to God, and not a means to show mankind’s strength, maybe God would have allowed it. The tower was built so that people could show their power and authority, and because it was a monument to mankind and not to God, that is the reason God did not allow it to be completed. If the tower had been built for the right reasons, and we continued to work together, a single humanity with a single voice and a single purpose that pleased the Lord, who knows what could have happened? Maybe there would not have been need for Messiah because we could have made our own paradise?

Naaahhhhh!! Couldn’t be- God tells us, in Gen. 8:21, that the heart of every man is evil from the start (it is called the Yetzer Hara, which means the evil inclination) and so God will just deal with each person in accordance to what they deserve.

It is a nice thought though, isn’t it? That of the world coming together, everyone working in unity for a common goal that is pleasing to the Lord, if only I could buy the world a Coke, and we could all sing in perfect harmony? Well, ….don’t hold your breath!

We are what we are, and during our life the goal should be to end up a better person than the one we started out as. We start off as sinners, born into a sinful world controlled by sinful people, and we have the one lifetime God gives us to get our act together. Shakespeare was right when he said all the world is a stage, and we are merely players; what you need to understand, what we all need to understand, is that the bible is the script God wrote for us, and we really need to read it if we want to know our lines!

Life is a dress rehearsal for eternity. We have seen God create mankind, destroy all of it (except for a remnant) and build an entire civilization, for a second chance. There will be one more great destruction, with one final rebuilding from the remnant that survive.

This play is almost ready for the opening night: we’ve had our read-through, we’ve been rehearsing for hundreds of generations, and who knows whether or not our generation will be the ones who get the curtain call?

Are you prepared to go on stage?

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.

 

 

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?

 

 

If you don’t believe , why get so mad?

Have you had the same experience I have had when talking to people about God who say they don’t believe in Him? I have found that they first get very edgy, and most of the time they will tell me they don’t want to talk about God, and sometimes they even get downright rude about it and verbally attack me as weak and foolish because I do believe.

Isn’t it strange? If you don’t believe in God, why be so defensive because I do? Why get stressed out and angry that someone else does believe? If I said my favorite baseball team was better than yours, you would argue for hours with all the stats and achievements of your team and it’s stars. You would argue all about how well the team works, it’s accomplishments, and maybe you would attack some of the people on my team, but mostly it’s all about why you love your team.

Yet when I tell you I believe in God, you attack me, you attack God, the bible, et.al..  But do you tell me why you don’t believe? Not a chance. The best I get is, “I just don’t believe, that’s all.”

So, again I ask, if you don’t believe, why get so hot about it?

The answer is simple and the non-believer (alleged, that is) will never admit why: it’s because, deep-down, they do believe. They are scared that God does exist, that what He says is true, that they are sinners, that what they have been told about God being the final judge and about Sheol (hell) is all true. They don’t want to go to hell, and they don’t want to change how they live, so they just stick their head in the sand and say it doesn’t exist.

Then, like someone putting ice down their back, we come along telling them about how God has shown Himself to be real and to exist through the many ways He has acted in our lives, and giving not just our testimony but the testimony of many others we have heard and seen. The truth about God is an attack against their fantasy, their protective wall that blocks out the truth of their sinfulness, lack of control, and the hopelessness of the fact that they are headed for destruction.

When you think about it, no wonder they attack us: professing our belief in God, or any reference to God that so much as implies He might exist, is a direct attack against their protective wall of lies, so it is only natural they would defend themselves by attacking us back.

These are the people living in the dark to whom we are supposed to be a light. The problem is when we start to show that light it hurts their eyes and makes them see, as the little child called out from the crowd, “But the Emperor has no clothes on!”

And they know they are the Emperor.

When we strip bare their lies and ignorance, what can they do other than attack us? In truth, we are attacking them and their beliefs  by professing our love and commitment to God.  Not that we do it on purpose, but from their point of view that’s exactly what we are doing. And so many Believers who try to minister to people don’t have the slightest idea of how to make an argument or sell anything, and they make it even harder for spiritually mature ministers to talk to these people. And yes, we are selling God. We are trying to get the world to invest in it’s own salvation when it rejects the idea that there is any need for salvation.

People only believe half of what you say, but they believe everything that they say. If you want to be a light to those in the darkness, you will never succeed by telling them how dark they are. You need to get them to tell you how dark they are. You need to get them to realize their system of beliefs, which is (basically) not to believe, is not justified. They won’t believe what you tell them so you need to get them to say it, themselves.

“How the heck can I do that?”, you may ask (I just did!): you do it by asking questions. Don’t tell them why you believe in God, ask them why they don’t. And when you get the answers, which are always (trust me, they always are) weak and unsupported by much more than “just because “,  you keep asking why. For instance:

“I know why I believe in God, would you tell me why you don’t?”

“I just don’t.”

“Then if I understand you correctly, you are saying  you don’t believe in God because you don’t want to?”

“Yes. I have the right to my opinion, don’t I?”

“Absolutely, everyone does. So, then, you don’t believe pretty much because you choose not to, right?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, so if you don’t believe because you choose not to, then God very well could exist, but you choose to reject that idea for yourself.”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“So you say God doesn’t exist but only because you don’t want to believe, which means you have no proof  that God doesn’t exist. I have no proof that He does, so  when it comes dowm to it, you say He doesn’t and I say He does, but neither of us can prove our point. Do you agree?”

“Yes.”

That puts us on equal footing, and the next step is to ask:

“If we both believe just because we choose to, doesn’t it make more sense to believe in something that is wonderful and has hope for the future than something that has no hope and can lead to nothing but living your whole life just to die?”

Silence.

That’s scripted, of course, and a real conversation may not take that exact course, but I hope you get the idea. We need to show that their rejection of the existence of God is not based on anything other than opinion, and opinions should be based on facts, yet there aren’t any. Just as we cannot prove, scientifically, that God does exist, they can’t prove He doesn’t. And accepting that there is a chance God does exist puts a little hole in their protective wall.

Once they admit their reason for not believing is based only on their choice not to believe, then you can offer, gently, why you do believe. One or two examples, something that made you absolutely certain God exists.

As for me, I tell how I felt His Ruach (Spirit) literally coming into my body when it happened. I had a totally physical and real-life experience. I have seen answers to prayers that are hard to explain away. I have heard the testimony of many people of miraculous events, healings, release from addictions, all very hard to explain away as just coincidence.

You can’t tell someone what they should believe, but you can tell them why you do. First, though, you have to get them to see their own reasons as weak and unsupported. And that has to be done patiently, gently and compassionately.

In the sales world, we learn that you never sell the quality of the steak: you sell the sizzle! Looking at a steak, reading the nutritional value, getting a good deal- none of that is why people buy a steak. They buy a steak because it tastes great and even more, because it sounds and smells absolutely wonderful when it is cooking. Just picture a steak on the grill, the browning of the fat as it is gently melting, the flames coming up around the edges, the aroma of the steak as it broils….

That’s what sells the steak- not how good it is, but how good it makes you feel.

God is good (all the time) and we love Him for who and what He is as much as what He has done for us. Well, maybe more for what He has done for us. That is why we need to get people who don’t believe to realize that their belief system has done absolutely nothing for them except suck out all the hope they could ever have in their life, and leave no hope for anything better after this life.

That is the selling point, that is what you need to bring them to realize: they choose to have no hope for no reason other than that’s what they choose. We choose to have hope in the resurrection and eternal joy, and if we want to believe that for no other reason that that’s what we choose to believe, then our belief that God exists is just as justified as their belief He doesn’t exist.

So the question is now, “Why would anyone choose to have no hope for anything wonderful in their life?”

If they don’t have a snappy comeback for that one, you are on your way to saving a soul.