AT&T Recognizes Gay Marriages as a Viable Market

No video today. I have been gone for almost two weeks because I was on vacation (I don’t post on a public forum that I will not be home for a week.) The first week Donna and I were on an anniversary cruise, the second week I have been home suffering from a kidney stone that appeared the third day of the cruise (it didn’t ruin the cruise but it certainly placed a damper on it.) Today is the first day I feel better, after two operations over the past five days.

Watching TV last night I couldn’t believe what I saw.

I saw a commercial for AT&T services. It had a young female with short dark hair saying she was an “okay” babysitter. Her part was written so that she is a Bimbo, and the two parents are getting more and more concerned about leaving their children with her because she just doesn’t seem to know what she is doing. The point being that okay isn’t good enough, so we should use AT&T to get the most reliable service.

What does this have to do with my title? The two parents were both men.

Now, before anyone who is a member of the LGBTQ community comes down on me, I am not saying anything against you. In fact, I have often posted that homosexuality is as normal a part of society as anything else because it has been around as far back as the ancient world.

As a God-fearing man, I don’t condone or accept homosexuality and recognize it as a sinful lifestyle, but then again, so is lying, adultery and all the other sins people commit that are just as normal a part of our society.

I am writing about this because there are two messages here: one is obvious and the other is more subliminal.

First off, you need to understand that Sales and Marketing is not a social or economic science- it is based on the science of psychology. I was in Sales for over 15 years and I can tell you, absolutely, that it is based solely on psychological manipulation. To be a good salesperson or marketing professional you need to understand how people think, their basic nature and how to get them to tell you what they desire, even if they don’t really know what it is, themselves. In other words, you have to be able to make them believe that, on their own, they came to the answer you have given them.

Next, you need to also know that when a section of society is viewed by marketing professionals to have enough economic influence to be a target for their advertising, they will advertise directly to them.

Now, back to the messages: the obvious message is that AT&T’s marketing experts have determined the LGBTQ community has enough economic power to be addressed as a separate and unique market. For those people who are members of that community, this should be seen as a major feather in their cap, so to speak, because to some degree it shows they are an accepted member of our society.

The subliminal message that is of concern to me is the same exact thing: that this lifestyle is being shown to be as acceptable as the traditional heterosexual family unit. The subtle psychological manipulation is while people are consciously focused on the Bimbo babysitter, subliminally they are made to believe that a same-sex parent family unit is normal.

No matter how anyone feels about homosexuality, history has shown it to be a failure with regards to societal advancement. Look at Sodom, Gomorrah, ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and other nations throughout history that have had homosexuality as an accepted part of their society. Those that have survived until today are in ruins, and the others, well…they just aren’t here anymore.

How can there be gay Pastors marrying each other? Whoever heard of an LGBTQ church or Gay Christians, which is the epitome of an Oxymoron? And what about the traditional synagogues and churches who are supporting the LGBTQ community? One would think this couldn’t be, yet these things exist in our society, so what are we to do about it?

I don’t think there is anything we can do about it.  It is here, we don’t have to like it or accept it, but we do have to learn to live with it. It has been here since Day 1 and will not go away until the Messiah returns, the Apocalypse is over, the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, yadda-yadda-yadda. When God’s plan of salvation is complete, then this lifestyle will no longer exist. For those who are members of this community, all I can say is you still have time to reconsider.

There can be no argument that human sexuality is proven by science to be composed of both physical (hormonal) and psychological influences. With today’s technological advancements in medicine, anyone can choose to change their sexual orientation and even their physical gender. Even if one wants to argue there is no choice, there is the opportunity to make a choice.

So there you have it! Those of us who worship God as he says we should and have traditional, heterosexual relationships are going to have to get used to homosexual relationships. We don’t have to condone or like it, we can talk against it, but it will not go away. This is what the Bible says will happen, so in some way, I am willing to embrace it as a necessary part of the overall plan of salvation.

It is like the kidney stone I have been struggling with for nearly two weeks now. I drink water to clear out the system, knowing that evacuation of that water will be very painful, but I still drink more. I know that I have to deal with this and that it won’t go away until it goes away.

So, too, with the way the world is heading. Destruction is coming and the society we live in, as well as the political events happening all over the world, are telling us, absolutely, that the end is really getting close.

We all have free will to choose how we will live. I have made my choice, and you have to make yours. All I can say is that I hope you choose wisely.

 

There is a Fine Line Between Scare Tactics and Sugar-Coating Salvation

Like it or not, those of us who are to make disciples and be a light in the darkness have to realize we are Salespeople- selling the most important product that anyone could ever have: salvation and eternal joy.

It’s remarkable when you think of the benefits of this product, yet the vast majority of people either don’t want it or are willing to buy a “knock-off” (i.e., a religion that rejects God’s word) and they are happy with it. As Hosea said:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

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

The other day on Facebook a friend posted a beautiful message, all about God’s presence in our lives and how he protects us, loves us and wants the best for us. It talked of his ability to provide and his desire to save us. I replied that we need to also remember that he is our Judge and Jury, as well as Executioner and that these promises are not all that we have to look forward to. For those people who accept God and Messiah, there will be trouble and tribulation throughout their life. Following God has many advantages, but the very best of them we will not receive in this lifetime.

In my past, I was a professional salesman (for about 15 years) and I can tell you that to have a good sale, meaning one that will not cancel on you, you must be truthful and not give wrong expectations. You can’t make it sound like accepting God and Messiah will solve all your problems, nor should you use negative selling or scare tactics; these styles will never produce a “good” sale. Preaching “fire and brimstone” scare tactics might convince some people to accept Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah. In the same way, preaching that God loves you just as you are, you can be saved simply by asking for it and once saved you will receive all sorts of blessings will create unrealistic expectations, and that seed will be like the seed the weeds choked them or the birds came and ate (Matthew 13.)

To follow God faithfully we must also love him- you can’t scare people into loving someone; likewise, you will set them up for disappointment if you make salvation sound like heaven on earth. To put rose-colored glasses on unsuspecting and biblically ignorant people, convincing them that once they accept Yeshua they will be saved and blessed, is to send them into battle with a gun that has no bullets.

Following God is hard work- Yeshua didn’t say follow me and have it easy, he said we must carry our execution stake on our shoulders in order to follow him (Mark 8:34.) To obey God and follow Messiah means you might have to give up much: friends, family, sometimes your job, maybe even your life!

For those to whom we are preaching salvation, we must let them know, right at the start, that this is not going to be easy. That they will, over time, have to sacrifice things that they may not want to. We keep them interested in reminding them of the afterlife rewards, as well as the many blessings they can receive while alive. We shouldn’t sugar-coat what they are deciding to do, but we shouldn’t scare them to the point where they lose bowel control, either.

That is the thin line we must walk when we talk to non-believers about God and Messiah. We should be an example of the proper way to act towards God and each other, and we must also tell them that we are still human, frail and weak, and it is expected that we won’t always act in the godliest way; for example, the words I will probably be using when it takes me three strokes to get out of the stinking sand trap! Failing to be godly now and then doesn’t mean we aren’t trying, and this is one of the best things about God: he knows our heart, he forgives our failures and he strengthens us when we ask him to help us be better.

I always try to slide some hint or suggestion in a conversation that will let me see if there is a positive reaction from someone regarding God and the Bible. I might interject a biblical reference or repeat a proverb in a conversation and say I read it in a really good book. If they ask which book, I can then say it is in the Bible, and ask them if they have ever read it? There can be any number of ways to “test the waters” when conversing with someone to see if they are open to hearing about God without tackling them to the ground, sitting on them and asking, “Do you believe in God?”

I can tell you, absolutely, that approach will not work.

My suggestion is that you think of ways you are comfortable with when approaching people about God during a conversation that is subtle and non-threatening to them. Here are some examples of what I do:

  • I work a biblical story or proverb into the conversation and start it off with, “I read this in a book”, and if they ask what book, I tell them. Then I ask if they ever read the Bible?
  • I turn the conversation towards the current social unrest, and ask if they believe there are more problems coming in the future? Carefully I work in that the Bible has stated these sorts of things will happen and ask them if they believe the Bible or if they believe in God?
  • If someone asks advice, I give them a proverb or story from the Bible to justify my advice. I’ll then ask if they knew the Bible covers many inter-personal relationship issues.

These are just some ways I turn the conversation towards God, and I never, ever push myself on people. If they are interested, I go with the flow but slowly, and carefully. It is like walking on thin ice- if I put too much pressure on, I will fall through.

When someone talks only about how good God is and all the wonderful things he does for us, I feel bad for them and the people they are talking to because they are setting themselves up for disappointment; how often have you heard people reject God because he didn’t meet their expectations? That is what preaching only the “happy-happy” side of salvation does- it gets a lot of people to join in, but it also sets them up for disappointment and eventually doesn’t help them. On the other hand, preaching fire and brimstone only scares people, and that will also fail to help them.

There are many blessings awaiting those who love the Lord and accept Yeshua as their Messiah, both now and throughout eternity, but they come at a price. We like to say “salvation is a free gift from God”, but it really isn’t.  Oh yes- you can have it for the asking, but to keep it you will have to give up much.

We must never push people away from God, and it is just as important that we must never leave them with the wrong expectations. The saddest thing about missionary work is that when we fail to make the right impression, it isn’t we who suffer- it is those we are trying to help. If we leave a bad taste in their mouth regarding God or Messiah, we may end up causing them to lose any chance of salvation, or (at least) we might make it that much harder for the next person.

It’s a thin line we walk when trying to help people come to God.

 

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Thank you for your interest and please don’t hesitate to leave comments or suggestions (just be nice.)

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

One Way the Enemy Attacks

They say evil succeeds when good people do nothing about it. But what if the good people don’t even know there is evil being done?

Have you ever really watched and thought about some of the TV commercials we are saturated with?

We are being conditioned to accept as good that which is evil.

You don’t learn anything from winning

I like word puzzles. My mornings start with coffee, cryptograms, crosswords and other mind-exercising puzzles that involve wordplay.

This morning I did a cryptogram that was a quote from Nelson Mandela:

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

It reminded me of when I was a Sales Manager and teaching people how to sell. I used to say that is rare when you know what made the sale, but you always know where you lost it. The same held true when I was in High School and on the wrestling team. I always practiced wrestling with the heavy weights and the best wrestlers (of which I was not) on the team. I always lost to them, but it was good practice and taught me where my mistakes were being made.

When it comes to living a righteous life in an unrighteous world, we are going to have failures. Personal and financial failures, failures of faith, failure of judgement, failing to help others, and we will never stop failing in trying to do something, in some way, at some time.

As Mr. Mandela points out, it isn’t the successes that demonstrate the merit and strength of a person, it is the number of times they failed and then got back up and kept trying. Anyone, at any time, can succeed; it isn’t succeeding that is the real acid test of fortitude, it is how consistently you continue to try.

We have a great fail-safe system: it is called the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. We have a great coach- His name is Yeshua (Jesus) and He is always right there at our side, ready to help us up when we fall. And we have a tremendously wonderful prize to win- eternal joy and peace.

The best part is that to win all we have to do is finish. Just make it to the finish line (we call that “death”) still trying to do as God has told us we should do, still maintaining your faith (weak or strong, having faith is what saves us- works are only the evidence of our faith) and still trying to be an example of righteousness to the world.

So don’t be upset or depressed when you fail to live up to the standards God has set for us: no one can. If you start to feel like you can’t do this, you just don’t feel worthy, or that it isn’t really worth the effort, that is the Enemy, the Devil, trying to convince you of a lie. Don’t fall for it. When you feel like you have let the Lord down (and we all do, at one time or another) just remember that God is glad you still want to try; He is there to help you, He has provided the bible so you can review the game plans, and He is very forgiving of errors. Geeze- what a great coach, right?

The only time God will ever be upset or disappointed with you is if you should stop trying. Remember: failure is not when you don’t succeed- that is just a temporary roadblock- failure only happens when you stop trying.

 

 

Parashah V’yegash (and he approached) Genesis 44:18 – 47:27

Joseph has kept his true identity a secret from his brothers, and after setting up Benjamin to take the fall for robbing from him, Joseph now has them where they believe that Benjamin will be kept as a life-long slave to the Grand Vizier of Egypt, and this will just kill Israel.  Judah steps forth, as the guarantor for the boy, and offers a beautifully poignant plea on behalf of Benjamin, offering to give his own life in servitude if only Benjamin may be allowed to return to his father, or else the fact that Benjamin is being left in Egypt will kill their father.

At this point Joseph has heard enough, and is convinced of the truth of the T’shuvah (turning from sin) and repentance his brothers have done after the way they treated him as a child. He reveals who he really is to them, and immediately defers any fear of retribution they may have. He gives them assurance that he knows God was the one who placed him where he is so that he could save his family (reminds me of what Mordecai says to Hadassah/Esther, that maybe she was queen and in her position for such a time as they were going through.)

The brothers are overjoyed to see Joseph alive, and with Pharaoh’s approval and help, the entire family of Israel (67 in Canaan and 3 in Egypt, totaling 70) move to Goshen, and thus is planted the seed of a nation. This is why God tells Israel in a dream to go to Egypt, and foretells of the 400 years before they will be able to come back to the land God promised them.

There is so much to talk about regarding Joseph’s spiritual perception. Here is an innocent and God-fearing man who has been mistreated by family, unjustly accused by his master’s wife, forgotten by one who owed him a debt and unfairly jailed for years, yet when he has it in his power to revenge himself on those that caused it all to happen, he forgives and consoles them. He rightly (or better yet, righteously) accounts the events in his life that led to where he is as the work of God. He sees past the obvious and realizes the truth of the meaning of his life, his ups and downs, and all that has led to this moment.

We need to have revelation, just as Joseph did, as to what God is doing in our lives. Joseph’s brothers were blind to his true identity. To be fair, who would have expected to see your brother as Grand Vizier of Egypt when 13 years earlier he was sold into slavery? Yet, as an Egyptian, Joseph would have been clean shaven- no full beard (that a Hebrew would have) to hide his face. Even though it is 13 years later, his face would still be very recognizable, especially to his brothers. His voice should be very similar, also. Yet they didn’t recognize him at all- their expectations of who they were going to see blinded them to be able to see their very own brother, right there in front of them.

That is also what happened with Yeshua: the expectations the Jewish people had for their Messiah was that He would be a Rambo- someone who would lead them in gaining political freedom from Rome. Yeshua wasn’t here for that, and the Scriptures also were clear about the Messiah’s spiritual leadership. When it comes to prophecies about the regathering of the people to the land, it is always God that is the progenitor of that event. Yeshua didn’t meet their expectations, and as such many did not have revealed to them the truth of His ministry and what He was there to do.

When I was a salesman, I learned that perception is everything- once someone perceives the value to be greater than the cost, you have a sale. The value is built up by creating the expectation of the rewards the buyer will receive once they own this thing. When our expectations are unrealistic, due to marketing hype, our personal desire for what we want something to be, or just because we were told to expect something by someone else, there is often much disappointment when that “thing” doesn’t meet our expectations. When we have it and finally realize it is not what we expected, the truth is revealed; but, by then, it is too late.

The end times are very near- Yeshua told the people they could read the signs of the weather but not the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3), and He chided them for their blindness. It was their unrealistic expectations that blinded them, and we are going to be blinded, too, if we expect anything but what the bible tells us is going to happen.

Keep your eyes open for the unexpected- in fact, expect it! Shaul (Paul) tells us that the End Days will come upon us like a thief in the night (Thessalonians 5:2) and so we must always be watching. There are many parables Yeshua tells about being prepared and not knowing when He will return, but He does tell us what signs to look for.

You don’t need to look for Yeshua because His return will not be a secret one- He’ll be riding on the clouds, the entire sky will be filled with His presence. I don’t think you will need to strain to see that. But the Anti-Christ will be the exact opposite at the beginning- he will work secretly, in shadows and subversively until he comes to full power, so you need to watch for him, but maybe not for any one person. Look at the fruits, as Yeshua told us, because you can tell the good tree from the bad tree by the type and kind of fruit it produces. No one really knows who the Anti-Christ is, and as far as I am concerned, I don’t know if it is really just one person. The United Nations seems to be acting just as we would expect the enemy to act, yet it is not one person. If the UN is not the Anti-Christ, it is unquestionably one of the tools of the enemy. It’s fruit is rotten and full of worms.

The point today is this: look for the fruits, do not let yourself be blinded by human expectations or what you have been told by your religious leaders alone- read the bible, read Revelations (I don’t think anyone really can understand it, but it will help a lot just to be familiar with the process) and especially read what Yeshua tells us about the End Days. Knowledge is power, and as the old adage says, “Luck favor’s the prepared”, so make your own luck by knowing what to look for and not blinding yourself with unrealistic expectations. Perceive with spiritual eyes, ask the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to see for you so that you will not be like the blind man being led by another blind man, with the end result that they both fall into a hole.

Perception is everything- so be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves, let the Ruach guide your perception so that you will not be blinded by human expectations.

Know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em

I read Dear Amy this morning. As I have often mentioned, Dear Abby and Dear Amy provide wonderful fodder for this ministry because the people that write to them are so lost and confused about the relationships in their life, and almost never do I read a letter from a Believing person asking for advice. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because we have a better adviser to ask.

In any event, the letter this morning had to do with someone whose friend is emotionally unstable and despite being close for many years, the writer is concerned about her own health and how dealing with her friend is draining her. She wants to know how to break away without totally closing her friend out.

I feel the same way, often, about family and friends who are not Believers, who desperately need God in their lives, and whom I try to tell about God and about the wonderful peace I receive from knowing Him and having the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) in my life (despite the sad truth that I often fail to show this peacefulness, I DO have it.)

I try to tell people of God, I bring him up in conversation, even with clients (which is not always appropriate so I am very careful in how I do that) and I throw out my line with a little bait to see what I can catch.

What I do is simply add to the conversation something from the Bible, but I won’t say “The lord tells us this or that”; instead, I will lead off with, “I read this in a really good book about relationships, and the book said…..”. If they ask me the name of the book, then they have taken the bait. After I tell them it’s the Bible, and it was said by (whomever), I will follow up with , “Have you ever read the bible?”

This is an example of how I bring God into the conversation, slowly, deliberately, and with an open-ended aim: all I want to do is plant a seed. That is what the aim of today’s message is about: we need to plant a seed, we need to know when we can “hold ’em” (keep going on with the conversation) and know when to “fold ’em” (let it go if they don’t want to discuss it.)

People don’t like having something jammed down their throats, especially something as exotic tasting as spiritual things. They don’t want to hear that they are wrong in what they say and do, and that most everyone they know (friends, family and acquaintances) have all steered them in the wrong direction. Remember the old adage: birds of a feather flock together. That means people who aren’t “saved” won’t be hanging around with Believers. So, when we start to tell them about God, about the Torah and Yeshua, and what it means to be saved, and what it takes to stay saved, they are hearing the kind of stuff they have been ignoring their whole life.

And they don’t really want to hear it.

It is up to us to be patient, to understand what they are going through. I think the fact that so many Believers have been raised that way, or accepted Messiah at a young age, could make them poor missionaries simply because they can’t relate to what the people are going through when they hear the Good News.  I know what it is like to have people preach the Good News to me before I was saved by it- it was annoying. Because I spent so many years on the “outside”, I know when to hold and when to fold. And because I remember what it was like, I have the patience to allow them to accept what they will and reject what they need to.

And, yes- they NEED to reject what we tell them because if they don’t, they have to admit they have been lied to by everyone they have ever trusted and admired their whole life.

What we need to do is allow them the time they need to process that the people who have misled them have done so innocently, because they, too, were misled by those they trusted and admired. The incorrect teaching of the “Church” goes all the way back to Constantine in the Third Century CE. It’s been going on for quite a while.

When you talk to people about God, remember to say little and watch very, very carefully their response. You need to play your hand well, to watch what they discard and what they pick up, and (ultimately) when to call and when to fold.

Missionary work is not spiritual- it is sales. You have to ask what they feel they are missing, listen to what they think they want and make sure you only tell them what they need to hear, and it all starts with listening. Too often people go out there and just talk talk talk about God, without letting the other person tell them what they feel they need.

David says, in Psalm 38, that we should “taste and see that the Lord is good“; well, when you have something rammed down your throat you don’t get a chance to taste it. We need to let them savor the flavor of salvation, let them smell the steak sizzling on the grill, smell the bread fresh from the oven, let the aroma of peace and joy fill their nostrils to the point where they want more.

And when they ask, that’s the time we can, bite by bite, let them taste more of the Lord.

Most people will not make a leap of faith- they won’t go “all in” right away. They will make small bets, watch their cards and be very wary of the other players.  We need to deal honestly with them (pun intended) and go at their pace, not ours.

Offer, wait, watch, listen, and most important of all, be patient- those are tools you need in your creel when you go fishing for people. Also, know when to cut the line and re-bait your hook.

It’s not how big the fish is, but how many you end up catching.

 

WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF?

What is the greatest fear of all? It’s not really death, or pain, or suffering. The greatest fear of all is the fear of loss.

Everything someone is afraid of comes down to the loss of something: loss of life, loss of financial security, loss of friendship, loss of companionship, loss of job, loss, loss, loss. When I was in sales, I learned you don’t close the deal because someone wants what you offer as much as because they don’t want to lose the opportunity to get it at a good price, or to get it before it’s not available. Building urgency to buy is what we call it, but what it comes down to is fear of loss, the fear of losing the “deal.”

Being afraid isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing- fear of pain is what makes us cautious and helps to avoid hurting ourselves. Fear of financial loss is what directs our decisions in investing to use discretion. Fear of death is what keeps us from doing those stupid things you see on TV and YouTube.

And fear of the Lord is what makes us courageous enough to overcome the human, fleshly fears that plague us. Fear of the Lord is trusting in God, it is honoring Him by obeying His word, it is the confidence that we receive knowing that He is always faithful to those who are faithful to Him, and that, unlike human promises, God’s promises are so trustworthy and dependable that what He says He will do is already historic fact.

If you tell people you are Born Again but still allow fear to control your life, stop being afraid, already!

Cowardice is something to be ashamed of; fear is natural, and courage is the ability to overcome fear. We are all afraid of something, of losing something, and that is not the problem: that is being human. What we need to do is overcome that fear by trusting in God.

If you are afraid of dying, remember what Shaul (Paul) said in Philippians 1:21:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

He knew that death only meant coming into the Kingdom and attaining eternal joy and peace. Heck- he was more willing to die than to live.

By listening to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) we can show bravery and confidence, not so much in ourselves as our confidence in God. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we are told:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

That “sound mind” is what reminds us to listen to the spirit of victory we have . We can feel confident, also, in what we are guaranteed in 1 John 5:4:

…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Therefore, if you are ruled by your fears, your faith is weak and you do not honor God, or demonstrate the power and the strength God gives us. Shaul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

The bible is rife with expressions of bravery in the face of our human fears, and it all depends on our faith in God.

If you are afraid of what people will think of you (fear of loss of stature) then think about what God will think of you if you do things that are meant to please people and not to please Him. Now that is something to be afraid of! To upset and dishonor the Holy One of Israel; to dishonor the name of God by telling everyone you are Born Again, then showing them the fear and cowardice that they, the unsaved and faithless, have. To allow those who reject God to say, “What difference does it make if I believe or not- you’re no different than I am! I don’t see anything special in you.”

God is special; God is wonderful; God is great, powerful and those who have God in them are able to overcome the world. That which is in me is greater than that which is in the world (look that one up on your own) and when we demonstrate that to the world through our faithful courage and perseverance, we glorify God, Messiah Yeshua and His kingdom.

So, nu? Are you glorifying God or disgracing His name? Yeshua said when we see Him we see the Father- that is because He said what the Father told Him to say, He did what the Father wanted Him to do, and He did it fearlessly. Everything Yeshua did glorified His Father in heaven.

We can’t be the same way Yeshua was, but we can certainly be more like Him than like ourselves. And that is the testimony we show to the world about God.

God told Joshua to be brave and be bold because God was with him- that’s good advice for all of us.

 

Messianics 101: Approaching Jews about Jesus

First rule: don’t use the name “Jesus”- use “Yeshua.” The name “Jesus” brings up too many unwelcome memories to Jews, such as “Christ killer”. I grew up being called that by all the Catholic school kids. In the past decade or so Catholicism has “lightened up” on us Jews, but there is too much history to make a Jew comfortable with the name Jesus. And there are still many modern-day Christians who push Replacement Theology, which is an insult to God as much as it is to Jews. Even after understanding the truth of who Jesus is, knowing the Jewish Messiah Yeshua for nearly 20 years now, I am still uncomfortable with “Jesus.” And don’t even start me on the word “Christ!”

Second Rule: don’t quote from the New Covenant writings. Jews don’t believe it is Scripture, they have been told that Jesus created a new religion (that hates Jews) and the New Covenant is what He wrote (not true, of course, but that doesn’t really even matter.) You need to be totally familiar with the Messianic passages in the Tanakh. You also need to know more about the Tanakh than the Jewish person you are talking to, or at least enough to impress them that you have some knowledge of, and respect for, Judaism. The fact is, if you don’t know the Old Covenant and the Messianic scriptures that define who Yeshua is and what He will do, then you shouldn’t minister to anyone because you aren’t fully prepared. Counting on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is fine and useful and biblically sound, but you still need to know enough to talk to a Jew like a Jew if you want to get through to a Jew. Nu?

Third Rule: Don’t tell, ask. Believe me, when you start to talk to a Jew about Yeshua, and you talk about Isaiah 53, and Jeremiah 31:31 and Joel, and Zachariah, and all the other 144 or so Messianic passages in the Tanakh (and you should know what “Tanakh” means) you can tell a Jewish person all there is and when you think you’ve sold them, they’ll simply say they don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah, “Because He isn’t, that’s all!”  That’s what they have been taught for centuries; in fact, for more than two 2 millenniums. The best way (take it from an old “sales” pro) to make someone accept what you say against what they have been told is not to tell them why something is so. You start out by making them doubt what they think is the truth as maybe not really being all that true. “And how”, you may ask, “do I do that?” The answer is: you don’t tell, you ask.  Instead of telling them all the reasons you know why Yeshua (remember: we don’t use the “j-word”) is the Messiah, ask them why they think Yeshua is not the Messiah. I can almost guarantee that 99.9% of the time, the answer will be, “Because He’s not, that’s why.” And they answer that way because that is what they have been told is the truth by parents, by their Zayda and Bubbe, by their Rabbi, by everyone they know who is Jewish. He just isn’t, that’s all there is to it. Once you get to that point, you can then ask these questions, in this order:

  1. Do you think that recognizing the Messiah when He comes, no matter who he is, is important? (if they say no, don’t waste any more time on this one)

  2. When you have to make an important decision, do you feel better doing it with good information or by just blindly guessing? (again, if they say guessing is fine, move on)

  3. (If you make it to this question, here’s what you say next) Well, then I’m confused: You say you want good information yet you have nothing but, “Just because.” You are choosing your eternal future on no information instead of listening to good information. (Don’t pause to let them speak but go right into the kicker)…If I told you there are hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and are still 100% Jewish, practicing Judaism exactly as you do, holy days, Shabbat, Torah, everything exactly as you have been brought up doing, would you be interested in hearing  just a little more about Messianic Judaism?

These are the essential three steps to ministering to Jews. If the answer to that last question is, “Yes”, then you have planted a seed. Now you have to let it grow, at it’s own pace. Now you can tell them more about the Tanakh passages and, since they doubt what they knew to be true (which is, essentially, you can’t believe in Jesus and still be Jewish) and are open to the real truth, you can take the Tanakh passage and relate it directly to the New Covenant passage. And remember, also (this is VERY important) to point out that the New Covenant is NOT a new religion, Yeshua never taught against the Torah or Judaism, and that the New Covenant is the eye-witness account about a Jew, written by Jews, of what happened to Jews. That is also the description of the Old Covenant, isn’t it? Eye-witness account written by Jews of what happened to Jews.

If you can master these questions, and deliver them with the compassionate understanding that for thousands of years Jewish people have been told believing in Jesus is being a traitor to your family and to God, then you have a good chance of helping Jews to find and know their own Messiah.

If you “bible-pound” Jewish people with threats of hell and eternal damnation and quote from the New Covenant, you might as well “kick against the goads” and not even waste your breath. Being a Jew I can tell you this: Jews will not be able to accept the truth about who and what Yeshua is until they can get past all that they have been told He isn’t.

Here is an absolute truth: people believe only half of what you tell them, but 100% of what they say. You need to get them to doubt what they believe before you have a chance of them listening to what you have to tell them.

Get out of the way

We are usually all about ourselves. There are many more people in the world, at least in my experience, that would prefer to talk about their life and their ideas than listen to what others have to say.

I include myself in the talkers group.

When God speaks to Moses, and instructs him what to tell the people, it is all about Himself, too, but not the same as with us. We want people to acknowledge us, we want to feel liked, respected and wanted. We like the “ego rush” we get when we are authorized to tell someone what to do. But with God it’s not the same. He doesn’t need our approval, He is no respecter of persons, He doesn’t need to feel important, and He tells us that He is God, over and over, not to please Himself but to remind us of who He is.

We are created a little bit above the angels- we are the sons and daughters of the Almighty, but we are not Him! We are about ourselves for selfish reasons, and God is about Himself for selfless reasons- He reminds us of who He is so we will listen; He reminds us of who He is so we will pay attention; He reminds us of who He is so we can live!

When we talk about what we want, it is to please ourselves; when God tells us what He wants, it is to save our souls!

I don’t have enough room to quote everywhere God tells us that He is the Lord, and you don’t have enough time to read it all. The phrase “I am the Lord” and similar words are used throughout the Tanakh, mostly in the Torah (especially throughout Leviticus) and throughout the writings of the Prophets (Nevi’im).  In Leviticus it seems to follow almost every commandment and regulation, which makes sense- the Lord is telling us what to do and reinforcing just who it is telling us.

It is easier to make friends by listening than by talking. When I was in sales, the hardest thing for me to do was to listen, but a really good salesperson knows that when you listen to the customer they will tell you how to close them. You can’t really talk them into a sale, at least, not one that will “stick”. You need to listen in order to know what to say that will close them. The same thing is true when talking to people about God and trying to minister to them- we need to listen to people and tell all about God, not about ourselves.

Of course, you can talk about how in your life obeying God and accepting His Messiah has helped you, but when talking about how God can help them, you need to get out of the way. You need to be about God, how the peace you feel comes from His Ruach, about how the hope you have is from His promises, which historically have never failed to come about. And you need to ask the person about their needs.

Ask what is important to them, ask if they feel there is more to life, ask if they care about others, ask if they are certain of their beliefs. Ask, ask, ask…that is the only way you will learn about them.

And if you ask, they will tell. When they tell, you will know, and when you know (what is important to them) you will be able to show them how God can make what they really want to happen in their life come about.

If you want to bring people to God, get out of the way. When we talk all about what God has done for us the people we are talking to don’t care a rats’ butt about what God has done for us- but they do care about what God can do for them.  Tell them briefly how God has done something wonderful in your life (and I mean, briefly), then ask them if this is something they would like to have.

Ministry is sales, and what we “sell”  is salvation. God is the manufacturer, Yeshua is the delivery system, and we are the field reps. To get people to buy they have to want what the product can give them.

I was a very successful salesman when I was in that business because I wore a rubber band around my wrist. It was suggested to me by an excellent teacher- he said every time I feel like saying something I think is important I should pull on the rubber band and let it go. Ouch! The pain was to condition me to listen and not talk. Nowadays I don’t sell for a living, and I have upgraded the rubber band to a gold bracelet, but it is still on my wrist- I never take it off because it is a reminder to shut up and listen.

It is all about God and them, not about God and you. When you talk about God, keep focused on what they want and how God can make it happen.

 

 

You don’t have to believe to like the bible

Before I was saved I didn’t know the bible, at all. I knew what I had been told, or what I thought they had said, and that was it.

And that was not always correct, either. How many people do you think would say yes if you asked them, “Does the bible say, ‘God helps those that help themselves.'”?

We who know the bible know that this is not said anywhere in the bible; the truth we learn from the bible is that God helps those that ask Him for help.

So, what brought me to the Word of God? It wasn’t the spiritual stuff, it was the social stuff. It was the fact that I realized (and we have to make others realize this by exposing them to these facts) the bible held many wise sayings and useful rules for how to act in society. I realized that there was wisdom that was available for me without having to believe in God. There was truth and understanding about people and how they treated each other in the stories it has, and there is history (I am a lifelong student of history) that is fascinating. It is very hard to argue, with all the archeological evidence and artifacts found over the centuries, that the bible is not an accurate historical document.

All of these things got me interested in the bible as a book. I read it as I would any other saga, and I recognized it as a history of the human experience.

But then the Word of God got into me. The bible does say, in Isaiah 55:11:

“…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

The purpose of God’s word is to save us from ourselves, and it did that for me. I didn’t understand a lot of it, and what really helped me was to get my hands on a special type of bible- a messianic one. Being Jewish, the New Covenant writings were an anathema to me- I had been told by every Jew I ever knew, even ones that didn’t know the first thing about the bible, that Jesus was a Jew that turned against Judaism and created Christianity (what a crock that is, but even today it is accepted by most Jews as the truth.) And, as a student of history, I knew how well Christianity had treated the Jewish people over the millennia, so (naturally) I had no interest in anything Christian. However, the messianic version bold-printed every New Covenant reference to the Tanakh, and when I saw, page after page after page, that most of everything in the New Covenant came directly from the Old Covenant, I realized that (you’ve heard me say this before) there is nothing “new” in the New Covenant. It is a Jewish book!

So, nu? Let’s read our audience and ask only the questions we already know the answers to: let’s sell salvation the right way. If you are finding that your efforts to interest non-Believers is not working , stop telling them what you think is important and ask them what they think is important.  People only want to know what interests them, so with all there is in the bible you just have to be able to find something that is relevant to their interests.

That is how you get people to read the bible, or (at least) know something about it that is accurate. Just help them to understand that the bible is not just for believers, it is for everyone. The stories are the best stories that have ever been told (isn’t the Gospel called “The Greatest Story Ever Told?”), the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs is easy to read and necessary for any and all aspects of life, the mitzvot regarding how to treat each other in a society are the foundation for most every civilized country in the world. The history is fascinating.

All of this is in there, and you don’t need to believe in God to enjoy and learn from it. Even within the bible there is a book that never once mentions God. Not a word about Him, not even His name, only a reference to His ability to achieve His goals (if you aren’t sure which book, it’s the Book of Esther {Hadassah}.)

People are afraid of the bible, and I don’t blame them-after all, it does tell us that if we reject God we go to hell. But, other than that, as a book it makes you think, it is a real “page-turner” (in most places- I will admit that the genealogies and the first 8 chapters or so of Numbers is a drag) and it can be read only a chapter or two a day.

Get people to see the bible as more than a religious book, teach them that there is more to the bible than God-related things, and get them just interested enough to read it. Even just one book, or a story. Get their face in the book, and leave the rest to the book.

Isaiah knew what he was talking about. All we need to do is get someone curious enough to read something in the bible.

If you can do just that one thing, God will take it from there.