Do You Really Want to Risk His Wrath?

No video today.

I am a member of a number of Christian, Messianic or Hebraic Roots discussion groups. They all have value for learning and sharing ideas, yet it is a shame so many people within these groups undervalue themselves and others with their obnoxious and prideful statements. You can recognize them because when they are faced with opposite opinions they spit out a bunch of bible passages (taken out of context) and eventually end up calling the one(s) disputing with them pagans, Satanists or worse.

When people are discussing a topic and one of them ends up resorting to personal attacks and accusations, that indicates they are not able to adequately defend their position; it also demonstrates both emotional and spiritual immaturity.  Ask them to leave it at “You have your belief and I have mine, so let’s agree to disagree?” and they ignore you, continuing to force their ideas down your throat.

The real issue is pridefulness- those people are too prideful to accept that they may not be the only correct answer. As such they do not have the humility or respect for others to simple allow someone else to have their own belief. Worse than that, they use biblical passages to justify their accusatory and judgmental attitude. It’s always the same thing: God wants us to tell the truth, or God told me this is so, or God says we are to judge others.

They forget God said that we will be judged as we judge others. Oops- that could be a problem!

Whenever I see someone writing these sorts of things, even when they aren’t nasty but just stubbornly refusing to accept that anyone else may have another belief or idea that could also be correct, I think of Job and his friends. I assume we all know the book of Job well enough to recall that after his friends misjudged him because they thought they knew what God was all about, God was not too happy with them. This is what he told them (Job 42:7-9):

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has. So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the Lord commanded them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

Job’s friends had been telling Job all about how God works, what he wants, what he believes, what he knows…basically they were talking for God as if they knew him and what he thought. That is what got God so mad.

People who tell others absolutely that we need to use God’s holy name, how it is pronounced, what God wants us to do, what God told us isn’t important, why God made the rules he made, etc. all are doing exactly what Jobs friends did. I suspect, although I can’t say for certain, that God still isn’t too happy with people who do that. Since God tells us he doesn’t change it only seems logical that if Jobs’ friends ticked of the Lord with their assumptions about what he feels and thinks, people who tell others today what God feels and thinks would be in the same spot Job’s friends put themselves.

For the record, let me say there are many, many places in the bible where God tells us, absolutely, what he likes and dislikes, what he says is wrong and what he says is right, and these things we can state clearly are how God feels. He told us so.

My complaint (and concern) is for those people who assume they know what God wants and tell others what they should believe or do. I believe when they do that they are risking his wrath.

I would like to ask people to be polite and respectful of others. We can speak the truth with love and if we believe something absolutely but someone else doesn’t, then let’s justify our opinion without attacking their opinion. And never attack a person for what they believe. When I think someone is relating a misinterpretation of a biblical passage, I will say I believe what they have been taught is wrong and then I will interpret the passage the way I believe it should be done. I will also ask them to re-read it praying for holy spirit guidance. I won’t say they are wrong, but that they were taught incorrectly. This way they (hopefully) won’t take it as a personal attack. You can’t change someone’s mind, but you can punch holes in their argument with facts. Again, you can attack their position but do not attack them. And if they are adamant not to change their mind and start to get upset or hostile, then end it. Wipe the dust from your sandals and move on.

There is an old joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.

We can’t change someone’s beliefs or mind unless they are open to listening. If it becomes obvious that they aren’t going to change their mind, you’ve done all you can. Move on to the next subject. I have often just told people I won’t change my mind and I see they won’t change theirs, so let’s move on to something else. It’s sad that most of the time my respectful attempt to end the discussion reaches deaf ears.

Let’s end today’s message with a quote from Proverbs 12:15:

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

 

Being in Control Doesn’t Mean You’re Controlling Everything

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

 

How often do we proclaim that God is in control?

How many times (you don’t really have to count) does the Bible tell us that God is in control?

Yet, it seems that too many times we see things happening in the world that would indicate God is not in control. We see good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good ones.  We see mass murders, crimes go unpunished, people in positions of authority abuse that authority and no one does anything about it.

The writer of the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) asked about these things as well, and his conclusion was that nothing really matters- all our efforts are as useless as chasing the wind. His final statement is that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

With all due respect to the writer of Kohelet, I have the answer to why it seems God is not in control:

Being in Control Doesn’t Mean You’re Controlling Everything

I was in the business world for some 40 plus years and most of that time was in control of something: my own office, a department, a number of different departments, and anywhere from 12 to over 350 people at one time or another. And what I learned from that is when you are the one in charge, to develop your people and give them the skills and understanding that they need to improve themselves, you sometimes have to leave them in control and let them screw up on their own.

Of course, you don’t let them screw up anything really important, or anything that would cause harm to themselves or others, but just let them have their way with the little things and give them the chance to swim, or sink.

And always be there to fish them out if they need you to.

With God and humanity, it is the same. God is in control of everything- there is nothing he cannot do or make happen. But just because he can make anything happen doesn’t mean he will make anything happen. He will often leave us to our own devices to allow us to learn the important lessons we need to learn.

What are those lessons? Well, for one, we need to learn to depend on God and not on our own strength. What better way to do that then leave us alone to totally mess things up to the point where we have to call on him for help?

Another lesson we need to learn is patience, as in waiting on God for justice. What better way to do that than to allow evil to propagate and let us see it happen?

I like to say, “Proverbs 20:22 tells us, ‘Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.‘, and sometimes God actually let’s us see that happen.”

One of the most important lessons we need to learn is about forgiveness. How can we learn that unless someone hurts us?

God is unquestionably able to control everything that happens everywhere, but he doesn’t. He controls everything by not controlling everything and allowing us to control those things that will lead us to better understand God, his ways and our role in his plan of salvation.

Don’t let yourself be fooled by those that argue because of all the evil and wrong done in the world God doesn’t exist because if he did, he would not allow it. They just don’t understand how it works. They are trying to box God into their own understanding and desires and that will never work. God is so far above us that we cannot even imagine or ever understand his ways, and we shouldn’t be able to.

I once read that a God who can be understood by the mind of Man is not worthy of the worship of Man. I totally agree.

I am not all that upset when I see the evil that is being done in the world, but it is not because I like or condone it. Just like you, I would love to see evil excised from our lives but it ain’t gonna happen until God is ready to take out his righteous vengeance on the nations.  My response to evil is not apathy, but trusting confidence that God will render justice when he is ready, and that his justice will be perfect.

I know that God will let me control whatever things he puts in my power to control, and as long as I try to let God lead me I know he is there waiting to catch me if (and when) I mess up.

 

Give the Gift of Giving

Messiah did so much for us, didn’t He? He exchanged His royal robe of divinity to put on a stinking mantle of flesh; He left the idyllic heavens to come to a cursed earth; He lived a life of trouble (Isaiah 53) and knew all the strife, emotional pain and physical wants of a human being; and, finally, He submitted to indescribable pain and torture just to be nailed to a tree. All of that in order that we unworthy sinners may have a chance to escape eternal damnation, which we all deserve, anyway.

Yeshua (Jesus) is certainly one man who knew all about giving to others, because He did all that with no expectation of getting anything back. He gave all He had and it brings Him great joy to see us receive it.

We are told in Acts 20:35 that Yeshua said it is better to give than to receive, but when we receive something do we do so in a way that blesses the giver? What I mean is this: using myself as an example, I used to feel very guilty and obligated when anyone would do something nice for me, or give me something. That is a worldly viewpoint- give and then expect to get back. When we invite someone to a party, do we do so because we enjoy their company or because we expect they will invite us to their next party? When we give a gift at a party to the host (birthday, baby shower, etc.) do we do so with the expectation that they will give something back to us at our next event?

If so, then we are not giving, we are investing. We are spending our money and hoping to receive back something worth as much or more. How many times have you heard people complain that they give nice things to someone but get less than what they gave back when it’s their turn to receive? Hopefully you haven’t, which means you hang out with the right crowd, but I know there are people like that out there.

Yeshua tells us that when we are asked for something we should give, freely and without expectation of reward or return (Matthew 5:40-42):

And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

When I give something to someone, such as treat them to dinner, or give them a gift, I do so without wanting anything in return. That said, I do expect a nice “Thank you”, of course, but even if that is not given, it doesn’t change the fact that I wanted to give because I wanted to give. And when I give something, I do not want the recipient to feel obligated to return the favor. I want them to receive as happily as I give.

That is the giving the gift of giving- to let someone give to you freely and wholeheartedly without worrying that you will feel obligated by receiving it.

Yeshua gave all, we give (most of the time) what we can, and sometimes we give a lot (if you have kids you know what I mean), and when we do so without any expectation of return and without wanting anything back, giving only to please the receiver of our gift, then we are giving correctly.

Subsequently, if you feel really good inside when you give to someone, let the person who gives to you feel the same way. When you are given a gift, don’t refuse it, don’t say, “Oh- you shouldn’t have!” or indicate in any way that you feel obligated to return the favor or are concerned by receiving the gift. Accept it with great joy (even if it is one that you can’t bear to own) and thank the person.

You may ask me, “Steve- I understand what you are saying but what if the person giving me the gift expects something in return, like most people do?” Well, my answer is give them something, if you want to because you want to give it. Do not give them something as an obligation or because they expect something back- if they don’t give for ‘giving’s sake’ then that is their problem. Those who give to receive will learn fast enough that you are a giver without expectation of return, and a receiver without obligation to give something back.

I have found most of the time when you give to people without expectation of return, they sense it; it all depends on your attitude. I will tell people I treat or to whom I give a nice gift to please do not feel any obligation to return the favor because my joy comes from seeing them enjoying the gift.

This is what the bible says:

Proverbs 11:24-27- One person is generous and yet grows more wealthy, but another withholds more than he should and comes to poverty. A generous person will be enriched, and the one who provides water for others will himself be satisfied

Proverbs 23:6-8- Do not eat the food of a stingy person, do not crave his delicacies; for he is like someone calculating the cost in his mind. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you; you will vomit up the little bit you have eaten, and will have wasted your pleasant words.

2 Corinthians 9:7-10- You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.

Therefore, when you receive something from someone, whether its a gift, money, time, possession, love, whatever it is: do so without concern about returning it or feeling obligated. Appreciate their giving and bless them in allowing them to feel the wonderful joy of giving.

If you receive happily and thankfully, you will have given them the gift of giving.

 

Seek ye the things of heaven

Here’s another “winner” from the annuls of Dear Amy…. the woman writes how she is extremely happy with a husband who cares for her in every way, helps around the house, is loving, compassionate and considerate, EXCEPT (here it comes)- he doesn’t want her parents to pay for a big wedding.

They’re already married! They had a civil ceremony because at that time they couldn’t afford the big, glitzy wedding, which he is willing to do, once they save up their money. He wants to foot the bill himself and not have her parents pay for it. She is upset that he won’t let her parents pay for the big wedding she wants to have now.

OK- let me get this straight: you have a wonderful marriage with a wonderful mate, but without a “big” wedding ceremony you feel like you are missing out. Is that it? Do I have that right?

Really?

Yet, this is what America is all about now, isn’t it? Having the most, being the best, owning the biggest, more, more, more and… of what? More of what the moth eats? More of what the rust destroys? More of what will not work in a couple of years?  Do you really need to pay thousands of dollars for a dress that you will wear for a few hours then will end up encased in plastic, languishing in a trunk in the attic, never to be used again?

In his letter to them, Shaul (Paul) tells the Colossians that they should seek the things of heaven and not of earth (Chapter 3, verse 2); throughout the bible we are told of the need to be concentrating on God and godly things, such as love, compassion, honesty, trust, affection, long-suffering (read the fruits of the Spirit that Shaul talks about in Galatians 5:22-23) and faithfulness.

Here are a few out-takes from God’s Word that remind us about this:

Colossians 3:1 If you then be risen with Messiah, seek those things which are above, …

1 Chronicles 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise …

Psalm 91:14 Because he has set his love on me, therefore will I deliver him: …

Psalm 119:36,37 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

The things of God are eternal and the things of the world are temporary. Our lives are meant for one thing, and one thing only: to give us the time we need to make up our minds where we want to spend eternity.

That’s it, Folks- the answer to the question that has plagued Mankind ever since the first Philosopher asked, “What’s it all about?” is this:

You have been given this temporary existence to decide where you will spend eternity.

We need to get our heads back on our shoulders and thank the proctologist for his help in doing so. The things of this world are so much less important than the things that God wants us to have. Doesn’t Yeshua (Jesus) tell His disciples that they should look at how beautifully the flowers in the fields are dressed, and how God feeds every bird in the sky, so they shouldn’t worry about what they are to wear or eat (Matthew 6:28) because God knows all that they need and can provide it for them? We needn’t worry about the things of the world or desire them because they are a trap set by the evil one to detour us from our walk with God.

That doesn’t mean if you have been blessed (financially) to the point you can afford to buy a new BMW that you should get a used Tercel, instead. What it means is that if you have a used Tercel and it works, don’t set your eyes on having a new BMW that you can’t really afford just to have one. 

When I read that letter to Amy I immediately thought of the TV shows “Bridezilla” and “Say Yes to the Dress”, and how they show the absolute worst sides of humanity- vanity, selfishness, covetousness,  pridefulness, envy, boastfulness. These women wanted to have “the” wedding while wearing “the” dress. It was all about the show, and nothing at all to do with what marriage is really about. Marriage is about love, self-sacrifice, togetherness, compassion, respect, and a life together that is centered on God.

One of God’s great advantages is that He is already in the future looking back, so He knows where we are going and how we need to get there. We, on the other hand, are in a maze surrounded by tall walls of thick foliage and unable to know which way to go. Because God is far above, looking down, and can clearly see where every path leads we must trust in His eyes and not our own.

I believe we can also see backwards from the future.  For instance, do you ever consider when you are in a moment of frustration what you will feel like in 5 years from now about this very situation? How many things that had you fuming or frustrated or upset that happened years ago can now be recalled without emotional strife and becoming upset?

NOTE: if you can’t recall things that upset you long ago without becoming upset, you need to search this site for all the posts about “forgiveness” because you really need to get that down before you can do what I am asking of you now.

This is what we need to teach ourselves to do: at the moment someone says something that upsets you and you are all set to fire back at them- stop! Think about what will result when you let go the words that are already in your mouth (just dying to get out), and ask yourself  if, years later, you will be happy you said it or regret your actions? If you are even the slightest bit unsure how the future will see what you say now, then shut up!

Sounds easy…well, actually, it doesn’t sound easy, and the truth is that it’s even harder to do than it sounds. James 3:5-8 tells us that the tongue is nearly impossible to control, and Proverbs 16:32 tells us that the one who is able to control his (or her) anger is more powerful than one who can conquer a city (James repeated that message also in 1:19), so it is clear that this is something not just very hard to do, but has historically been a stumbling block in human relationships. Yet…just think how much better things would be if you could learn to do it, even a little bit, even just once in a while! I have taught myself that I need to proof-read my emails, and not just for spelling and grammar issues, but for “booby-traps”: things that may be saying something the wrong way or written in a derogatory manner that I will later regret having written. I have learned (most of the time but not always, I am ashamed to say) to delete the questionable sentences, or just not send the email at all. It has been very very hard to do that but I am learning to think “back in time” instead of being enslaved by what I am feeling “at this time.”

If there is a lesson in here anywhere, I think that is it- learn to think “back in time” so that you will be acting more from an eternal (i.e., godly) viewpoint than an immediate (i.e., human) viewpoint.

hands off = don’t care

Another gossip column rant this morning- this time it’s not Dear Abby, but Ask Amy (Donna likes to read the newspapers, and with two papers I get twice as many word puzzles.)

The question this morning was asking how tough a parent should be with activities such as having your children learn piano, get all A’s in school, etc. The parent writing was raised in a strict Asian family with very little “kid” time, and the other parent is (the writer says) a ‘hands-off’ type.

Amy did OK, and ended up saying kids have their friends, and if you’re the Mom or Dad, you are NOT one of their friends, you’re their parent- act like one!

Amen to that, Sister!

Hands off is not allowing your children to grow- it is removing accountability and preventing them from learning there are limitations in life and in relationships; it keeps them from being able to be aware, and respectful, of other people. Allowing children to be unaccountable for their actions and words (or lack thereof, if that is the case) is not helping them at all. Yes, there are times when we need to remember that they are just children, and still learning, but that doesn’t mean to allow them to ignore the consequences of what they do. It means we need to make them experience the consequences with mercy and patience. God is a great example of doing that, being understanding and merciful when He knows that is best, and striking you down when that is what is needed. And always, always, always willing and able to forgive.

I tried to be a parent to my children when I visited them; they are from my previous life, which ended in divorce, but I never left them- only their mother. However, since she was a ‘hands off, let’s be friends, you’re just children’ type of mother, who never felt responsible or accountable for anything she did or said, they were growing up the same way. Because I tried to be a parent, they now have rejected me and I am not allowed to be a part of their life. It’s been almost 4 years since I was able to talk or even email my son, and about 7 years with my daughter. My 4-6 hours with them every other Sunday or Saturday for over 20 years did not match up against the 24/7/365 teachings from their mother.

Here’s one example of how hands off is not helping the kids, at all:

I was with my children, Alexandra was about 8 and Bryce was about 3, and we were walking across the street. I held Alex’s hand and told her to look both ways for traffic to make sure it was safe, and her reply was that she didn’t have to look because I was the parent and I was supposed to make sure she is safe. Of course, that is an accurate statement- I am the parent, I am supposed to protect them, but that doesn’t remove her responsibility to protect herself. How will she learn to be a protective parent when she grows up if she isn’t taught this now? That was my argument- what happens when they become adults? If they are not taught how to be one, does it magically come to them in a flash the moment they turn 18? Maybe when they turn 21 they suddenly know what to do?

Proverbs tells us many things about disciplining our children, and how God disciplines us because He loves us. I am not saying a parent that is not a disciplinarian doesn’t love their children, or that one who is Machiavellian in their attitude is the most loving of all. What I am saying is that ‘hands off’ is the same as ‘I don’t care’, and children will pick up on that. Oh, believe-you-me, they know! If you don’t show concern and discipline for them, they will stretch that inch into a light year. Even if you are “strict”, they will still try to get away with as much as they can- that is what being a child is all about. To stretch the limits, to push to the edge, and further, until they are reeled in. It is a parents obligation to their child to teach them the ropes, so to speak, and that means how to tie things up and how not to get all tied up. A rope can lift you up or it can hang you: it all depends on knowing how to use it correctly.

I believe that the world is falling into satanic control, more and more each day. Look at the video games- violent, demonic, totally unconcerned for human rights or dignity. Look at the TV shows- sexual improprieties, killing, “justified” violence to each other, and just plain stupid…and I mean, REALLY stupid!

Look at the advertisements our children see on TV and in the magazines- people are sexual objects, products make you a better person, the more you have the more popular you will be. All focused on material items, which is all the enemy of God can offer. God doesn’t care about material things- He cares about our eternal soul.  Yeshua tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these other things (what we need to survive while alive) will be given to us.

If you have kids, I am happy for you. I know you may not always feel that way for yourself, but as someone who has lost his children to hatred and unforgiveness (for the record, I wasn’t “Mr. Right”, either. I was no “Father Knows Best”, believe me) you should be grateful for being able to raise your children.

So raise them correctly, teaching them with proper levels of discipline, always tempered with forgiveness, love, mercy and patience. And remember-like it or not, this IS how it is- you are their example. They will not accept “Do as I say and not as I do” because no one does! They will be like you because your are in their very DNA, and what is good about you they have, and what is bad about you they have, also. And they will also have what is uniquely theirs. Appreciate their uniqueness and help them learn to develop it.

Hand off is (and I won’t accept any argument to the contrary) no different than saying you don’t care. It is condemning them to death (that’s what Proverbs tells us happens if we don’t discipline our children), and what parent wants to do that?

 

What’s in a name?

The other day (June 2 , if you want to look it up) I was reading Dear Abby. As those of you who follow this blog (thank you so much for that- I really appreciate it) probably remember, I read her column to gain fodder for my rantings, and I was not disappointed with this one.

A person wrote and asked about the name, or descriptive title, of a unmarried man who is having an affair with a married woman. S/he said everyone knows that a woman would be called a “mistress”, and wanted to know what do you call a man in that position?

Here’s an old joke: “What is the definition of a mistress? Something between a mister and a mattress!”

Dear Abby took this one to heart, checked it out in the library, did her research, and came up with a few different names. But of all the names she came up with, what I noticed was the one name that was absent: adulterer.

I have to admit I was a little surprised- I believe Dear Abby has a good moral character and ethics, yet, here she has the opportunity to remind us that adultery is a sin and she lets it pass. She answered the question, and I am sure that she will defend her position (and it’s not really a bad defense) by stating it isn’t her job to judge, just to answer.

Although when you read her column, she judges often enough.

The bottom line is that she needs to maintain her readership, and when too many people are reminded too often that they are sinners, that what they do is wrong, that their problems stem more from their lack of respect for God and His laws than anything else, well- she’ll find herself losing popularity. Her columns are written to keep people reading them, and that is done by providing good advice and a daily dose of gossip.

Proverbs 18:8 says:

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.

Now, you may argue that when someone writes about themself it isn’t gossip, and many people are writing about their own problems, which more often than not is about or involves someone else. Names are not given, events are descriptive enough that people involved will probably guess it’s about them, but the truth is: this is a gossip column. People read it to hear about other people’s problems and to feel better about themselves. Sometimes it can serve a valuable service, the advice is often enough valid and useful, but when you strip off the pleasantries, it is a gossip column, and as such must appeal to the lowest and basest of human emotions- to watch (or in this case, hear about) the suffering of others.

I find myself asking, “Why?”: why doesn’t she ever recommend that someone go ask their Rabbi or Pastor or Priest for help? Then I remember about the New Jersey Rabbi who murdered his wife to be with his mistress (there’s that word again!), and the problems in the Catholic church with child abuse by the priests, and Jim Bakker, and…well, I guess she doesn’t suggest going to the clergy because they’ve had some really bad press lately.

The world is what she writes about, and the world is who she writes to, so it shouldn’t surprise us that her advice is “worldly”, not spiritual. Maybe we need to get someone out there who will write a spiritual column, someone who will tell people that their problems are because they have no love of God or respect for His laws. Even if you are an Atheist, you have to admit that the social and moral mores of the Bible are valid and, if followed, would make the world a much, much better place to live in.

If you know of such a column, please hit the reply button and share it with the rest of us.

We need to let the world know that what is in a name is the truth of the matter- names of people in the bible were more than just some fancy moniker- they were who the person was. And when we want to know what to call someone who is having an out of wedlock affair, there are two names for it: if one or both of them are married, the name is adulterer. If neither is married, the name is fornicator.

That’s it. Nothing else is truthful, everything else is some form of sugar-coating the truth.

Brothers and Sisters, we live in a world that is full of sin, and accepts it as the way to be. They have lived with the stench of sinfulness for so long that they think it smells nice. In fact, it is so bad that the world thinks we Believers stink! As Shaul tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:16:

To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.

That makes it even harder to get close enough to people to help them find their way to salvation- after all, who wants to be in an elevator with someone who hasn’t showered for a week?

Don’t let that stop you. You can cover the smell of salvation by talking to them in a language they understand, use the terminology of the world to help them forget about how you smell and to get them to listen. Then, slowly, with the gentleness of a dove and the cunning of a serpent, bring them into the light. They won’t know how bad they smell until they get a breath of fresh air, and the Ruach haKodesh is the freshest of air (Ruach, which we interpret as ‘spirit”, in Hebrew is actually the word for ‘wind’.)

I have nothing against Dear Abby, and I think she very often helps people. The problem is that she helps them in a worldly way and what they all really need is to know God’s way, if they want help that will save their souls.

The problem, I guess, is that saving souls doesn’t sell papers.

You can’t change the past

I know that sounds like a, “Duh! Really?” statement, but how many people do you know that seem to live in their past, always regretting things that can’t be changed?

I often review my life, and there are many, many, MANY things I would like to have done differently, and I confess that I am preaching to myself when I say that reliving past issues which cannot be changed is just plain stupid.

The emotional frustration that results from wanting something to be different, coupled with the sense of helplessness when you know that you can’t do anything about it, is maddening. It is a waste not only of time, but of emotional energy and it drains our spirits. It leaves us open to attack from the enemy, which is really not something we want to do.

So, nu? What is the answer? It is so simple to do, and so hard to do: just let it go.

“Sure, Steve- just ‘let it go’. Gee whiz, why didn’t I think of that?”

Yes, it is stating the obvious, but the obvious things in life are so often overlooked, aren’t they? We need to let it go, to give up trying to change what can’t be changed. For those rare cases where we may be able to get passed the past, to re-connect and start anew, we should be willing to apologize and/or forgive. That is the first step, then we can work towards building that relationship up again. Depending on the situation, it may never be the same relationship as before, but that may not be such a bad thing, after all. Some people change, some people don’t, and if you have one dynamic person with a static person, somethings gotta give, sooner or later.

God is wonderfully static- He is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. And what is really great about that is that God doesn’t have to change because He is perfect! We need to change because we aren’t perfect, and change can go in either direction: for the better, or for the worse. When something happens that changes a relationship in our life, whether we caused it or not, once done it can’t be undone. It can be worked around, it can be forgiven and forgotten, or it can cause pain and frustration for the rest of your life.

But you can’t change the past.

And it’s not just your choice- something that happens between two or more people cannot be overcome if even just one of the participants refuses to work towards repairing the rift. In that case, you move on. You allow them the right to choose how they want to live, you forgive them (to get rid of your pain- the only way to get past a hurt is to forgive) and you move on, keeping your eyes on the prize, calling on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to help you (remember- Yeshua called it the Comforter, so use it to comfort yourself) and praying for the other people involved.

I have found that no matter how badly someone has hurt me, when I pray for them it is easier to forgive them, and when I forgive them (even though I still have trouble getting totally over it) it is easier to let go. Try it- you’ll like it. It really works!

Letting go means forgiving: you may need to forgive the other person, or you may need to forgive yourself. Through forgiving you can let go of the pain, and when you pray for them you are doing what God wants you to do (Matthew 5:44, Proverbs 25:22), because God knows it will help you.

Those who can’t stop living in the past can’t have a fulfilling future- don’t drag your anchor all through life. Let it go, ask God for help, and move on. Salvation is just around the corner, so why are you still sitting there?

salvation received is not salvation guaranteed

Many people are taught that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. That’s accurate but not absolute.  God will forgive us if we ask for it, and prove we mean it by doing T’shuvah (turn from sin), which will be to live our life showing that we reject sin, accept Yeshua as our Savior and follow the leading of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as our guide and comforter.

Otherwise, the salvation God is willing to grant us will be lost- not taken away (no one can take away that which God has given you), but thrown away.

Let’s look at the warnings in the Bible about this:

Hebrews 6:4-6   For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

2 Peter 2:20-22  For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

James 5:19-20   My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Matthew 24:10  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other

These warnings against falling away from the truth and the way clearly state that these people had known the Lord and were “saved” but chose to return to their sinful life.

Too often people are taught that once you are saved, you are always saved. And that is true, but only from the perspective that God will forgive you when you ask in Yeshua’s name. But that is not the end of it- it is only the beginning. When a slate is wiped clean, there is nothing on it. But when we come before God we are not to come before Him empty handed (Exodus 23:15 and again in Deuteronomy 16:16). As such, the slate He has wiped clean with the blood of Messiah Yeshua better have some real good writing on it (i.e., works of faith) when we bring it back to the Lord at Judgment Day. Look to the parable of the servants given talents by their master (Matthew 25:14-30.) The one who did nothing with what he had been given was not allowed into the master’s joy- he was thrown out into the darkness.

Yes, we are saved when we call on the Lord, when we ask for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, and when we truly do T’shuvah. We are forgiven our sins, thus “saved” from them, but we are just starting the journey to salvation. It is a long and hard road, treacherous and difficult to stay on. And if we lose our way we may be lost, forever. The Ruach HaKodesh is our GPS system, but if we neglect the “Turn right in a quarter mile” when we hear it, often enough, we will become totally lost. And when that happens, as is human nature, we will deny it was our fault and blame the GPS for not giving us the right information.

What is your GPS? Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it a religious leader, like a Rabbi or Priest or Pastor? Is it some self-help guru? Is it a “fad” religion?  There is only one true, reliable and proven GPS for salvation: God’s Word. And I mean the entire bible, which is Genesis through Revelations. Heck- you should even take a look at the maps at the end, just to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Salvation is promised by God to those who ask for it, but it is then our job to use His gift, to give Him back more talents than He gave us, and to have useful writing on the slate He cleared when we come before Him. James said faith without works is dead (James 2:14) so don’t kill yourself right after God gives you back your life.

One last parable to show salvation received is not salvation guaranteed is the parable about the spirit that was removed and then returned with 7 other spirits (Luke 11:24); again this demonstrates, unquestionably, that a person who has been “cleansed” can still be made “dirty” again if that person just does nothing with the gift he or she has been given. So make sure that you write on your slate, that you invest your talents, that you do not leave your house empty- make sure you use the gift of salvation or you will find yourself in the same place those who we read about in Matthew 7:22-23.

Will Rogers once said:

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Please- don’t sit on your salvation.

Do sinners go to heaven?

I certainly hope so! If not, all of us are in BIG trouble!

The real question is: do unrepentant sinners go to heaven?  I think I can safely say the answer to that question is: NO! Not a chance. Not happening. Close the door on your way out.

Sin is part of our nature, it is the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination, we are all born with. Call it Original Sin, call it whatever you want to, but, as the Bard of Avon said, “What’s in a name?” Any way you look at it, we are, all of us, sinful in nature, sinful in actions and thoughts, and the only difference between me being a sinner before I was saved and me being a sinner now that I am saved is that now I am saved, AND (that’s a big “a-n-d”) I am repentant. I sin, but I don’t want to sin. My actions do not match my attitude.

Shaul said it in Romans 7:15 when he confessed, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

For those who have Yeshua Ha Maschiach at their side, as their Intercessor and Arbiter with the Lord when we come before Him at Judgment Day, we are saved from our sins when we repent of them and call upon His blood to cleanse us from them.

It is not the sin as much as it is the willful act of sinning which separates us from God.

God tells us through the Prophets, over and over, that He is more concerned with the desire of our hearts than He is for sacrifices.

Check out these few examples:

Isiah 1:11- 1:20, ” The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LordI have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings!  Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless;   plead the case of the widow. ‘Come now, let us settle the matter’, says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

1 Samuel 15:22,  “But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

Proverbs 21:3, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”

Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Get it? It’s all about obedience- not from fear of death or destruction, but from fear of the Lord, as in respect, honor, faithful trusting, and love. That is what God wants of us, that is what He desires, and that is the only thing that we can give Him. God owns everything there is in the Universe, and what isn’t here now He can create. What He can’t have without us giving it to Him is our love, our obedience and our trust. These are the really important things to God.

Accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah, as your Savior, confessing Him to be the Son of God, all that is good so long as you mean it.  And the only way to show you mean it is to change your behavior by changing your attitude. Only good trees provide good fruit, and your fruit better be good if you intend to present it to the Lord.

There is an old Jewish proverb: You can’t stop a bird from landing in a tree, but you can keep it from building a nest there. In other words, we will not be able to stop that initial reaction, that first thought, what we think at the first glance, but we can control what happens after that.

Yes, sinners go to heaven. And sinners that are really saved are changing their attitude. They are overcoming, slowly but surely, their Yetzer Hara and maturing and strengthening their Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination) so that their obedience to God’s Torah is from their heart.

God wants us to want to obey Him from desire to please Him. Yes, obedience brings blessings, and there ain’t nothing wrong with receiving blessings! But that’s not what it is really about.

God can have anything and everything He wants without anything from us, except our obedience and love. Tithe, do Tzedakah, give of your time to those in need and you are doing to God that which pleases Him.