Born-Again Christians and Legalism Born Again

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First and foremost let me say that I am ecstatic to see more and more Christians wanting to know their Messiah and who he really is, and what he really taught. They are realizing that the Jesus they have been told about is not the Yeshua who lived, preached and taught from the Torah. This is a wonderful and prophetic happening and will lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy that one day all knees will bow and all tongues confess that Yeshua is Messiah; on that day we will all be one in Messiah, worshiping God as he said we should.

That being said, let me go a little further and point out that with this new-found love for their Hebraic roots and for Hebrew, both Modern and Paleo, I see a really upsetting dark cloud on the horizon. That cloud is a new form of the legalistic mentality that was prominent in the First Century, which both Yeshua and Shaul (Paul) were totally against.

Let’s get something else clear before we go on: “Legalism” is the system under which faith is not important or needed to gain salvation. Under a legalistic system (which is what the Pharisee’s taught) you can be saved ONLY by strict and complete adherence to the Torah, as well as the rabbinic traditions that the Pharisee’s added to one’s activities and worship. Again, so no one misunderstands: under the system of legalism, faith is not needed to be saved. All we need to attain salvation is absolute obedience to everything we are supposed to do stated in the Torah, as well as strict and total adherence to Halacha (Talmudic, or Oral Torah) requirements.

Now, on to today’s message.

I have been blogging for over 5 years, and am a member of a number of different “Christian” or “Messianic” discussion groups, and one of the most prevalent arguments that constantly comes up is how to pronounce God’s Holy name (called the Tetragrammaton), how it is spelled, how to pronounce the name of the Messiah and how these things are absolutely necessary to prevent one from being fooled by the Enemy and (even worse) to not call out to false gods.

In a word, these concerns are ridiculous! A bunch of drek that no ones who really knows the Lord would be worried about. God isn’t going to condemn someone to Sheol (hell) because they call out to Jesus, or when praying to God use the name Jehovah or Yahushua, or if they call Yeshua Yahshua. If the person praying is praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in their mind and heart, and invoking the name of the Son of God, the Messiah God sent to earth to save mankind, it doesn’t matter what name they use. God knows the heart and the mind of everyone, as does Yeshua, so believe me when I tell you they know who you are talking to.

Not only is the name issue important to these people, but I see other ridiculous issues- we should pray after we eat and not before because it is a commandment to thank God for our food only after we have eaten it. As such, they imply (or even state) that praying to God and thanking him for the food on our table BEFORE we eat is a sin! Imagine! Thanking God is a sin! Who woudda evah tought’ it?

This need to be absolutely accurate using God’s name, or taking one single sentence from the Torah (specifically, Deuteronomy 8:10) and expanding it out of context, to indicate that we must perform some physical act correctly or we cannot be saved is Legalism.

They may not say this that way, i.e. if we don’t pronounce God’s name correctly we won’t be saved, but the indication is clear- not doing this is a sin, and since we all know sin prevents us from being in God’s presence, well…you can all add, I’m sure.

I am concerned that the zealousness I see from a number of people for this minutia, this useless straining of gnats while swallowing a camel, is going to choke the seeds that were sown and are starting to grow, just as it did to the new Gentile converts to Judaism in the First Century.  This is why I call it a new form of Legalism, the same thing that Yeshua, Shaul, and the Disciples fought against when Yeshua’s ministry was first growing.  Once the Council of Nicene got in the picture, then this issue of new converts to Judaism being taught the wrong message was totally overridden by the separation of Yeshua’s followers from mainstream Judaism. Essentially, after Constantine, obedience to the Torah as necessary for salvation was no longer a concern for Christians.

For those of you who are reading this and thinking that I am wrong, so be it. If you really believe God will condemn me to hell for calling him Adonai, or God (many even think the word “God” is pagan!) then I can tell you right now, absolutely, you have no idea who God is or what he is about. I pray that one day he will open your eyes and minds to the truth that he is a forgiving and compassionate God, and not as thin-skinned as you seem to think he is.

“Legalism” is a tool that the Enemy can use to cause dissension and confusion within the body of Messiah. It was used thousands of years ago to dissuade new Believers from the truth and tie them up in traditions and activities that didn’t lead to salvation, and today it is still being used to do the same thing. Those who are adamant that God’s name is spelled or pronounced a certain way are leading us away from the truth of who and what God is, and not edifying anyone. Those who take one sentence out of context and imply that praying to God to thank him for our food before we eat is a sin are just being silly, and misinterpreting the Torah (which is the real sin.)

PLEASE!!!  Stop worrying about how to pronounce the name of God; stop worrying about when you are supposed to thank God (I can tell you absolutely that God will never, ever be upset with you when you thank him for his blessings and provisions); stop worrying about ancient Hebrew; stop worrying about minutia and insignificant details. What you should be worrying about, if you must worry about something, is being led off the path of true faith in God. Too much emphasis on detail and performance is going to lead you into a hole, and when you make it necessary for others they will fall into that hole, with you. God is compassionate and understanding, God is looking for faithful obedience and not proper grammar or pronunciation, God wants you to obey him with a contrite and humble heart, not puffed up pride from the study of ancient scrolls and a Gnostic attitude towards salvation.

We do not need to understand God or even understand his word to be saved- we only need to be like little children, obeying as best we can out of love for our Father. Faithful obedience to Torah is an act of love, a response of thankfulness and trust that God knows what is best for us.

I am not saying be totally ignorant, but instead read the Torah, ask the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide your understanding, and don’t get all tied up in minutia and details. Yeshua told us to love God and love each other is all we need to do.

I believe that studying the Bible is a wonderful thing, and should be a life-long activity. But- when it becomes more important to do every little thing, know every little detail, study every ancient manuscript and tell others they must do what you think is right otherwise they are in sin, you have gone too far. Once you place “doing because it says to” over “doing out of faithful desire to please”, you are legalistic.

I can’t speak for God, but I am pretty sure that so long as what we do, we do to please him and try to be in obedience, he will be pleased.

Talk in a Worldly Way About Unworldly Things

Before I was saved, one of the things that always turned me off, right away, to those “Born-Again” people was that they talked so “spiritually” about everything.

When you don’t have the Holy Spirit, you can’t relate to it, or to people who talk using spiritual terminology.

We need to take a lesson from Shaul (Paul), and talk to people in a way that they can relate to us if we want to be able to open their ears and minds to the truth of God’s plan of salvation.

Repentance Without Change is Nothing

How often do we hear preachers tell us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved? How many times have you heard missionaries tell you that Jesus died for your sins and once you accept Him, your sins are forever forgiven? How many people believe that by asking for forgiveness they are now set to go to heaven?

How many of you out there believe that anything I said above is true? If you do, please sit back, open your heart to the Holy Spirit and read on….WARNING: your comfort zone is about to be attacked.

Calling on the name of the Lord, accepting Yeshua (Jesus) and asking forgiveness from your sins in His name, repenting of sin (which is what this is all based on) is totally useless if you, yourself, do not change how you act from that moment onwards. You cannot be forgiven for sinning if you do not repent of sinning, and repentance means that you stop doing what you have been doing. That means changing how you act, changing what you think, and changing how you live your life.

Think about it: What if I stole from you, and then said I was sorry and won’t do it again? Later, I steal from you. Do you think that I really meant what I said when I promised not to steal anymore? If I continue to steal from you, then what you finally realize is that I am NOT repentant, that I am NOT sorry I stole, and that I am playing you for a sap.

God is not a sap. God is forgiving and compassionate and patient, but He is not stupid or easily (actually, I should say ever) fooled. He knows our heart, He knows out very essence, and when we ask for forgiveness, if we really don’t mean it, if we are just trying to get away with something, then He will know and He will not forgive.

Read the writings of the Prophets and see how God continually challenged the Children of Israel, in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, to truly repent, to change their ways. Read the book of Jonah- Nineveh did a real T’shuvah (turning from sin) and God recognized that, so they were not destroyed. Later, they went back to their sinful ways and eventually were used by God to punish the Northern Kingdom (who never even tried to repent), then they were also destroyed.

The way many missionaries and preachers gain congregants, and how they keep them, is to tell them what sounds good: “God will forgive you and God loves you just as you are.” Although these statements are true, they aren’t complete.

God does love you just as you are, but that doesn’t mean that He wants you to stay that way.

James tells us faith without works is dead, and that goes hand-in-hand with what I learned when I was a salesman, which is: people don’t mean what they say; they mean what they do. When we ask God to forgive us our sins, He is willing and desiring to do so, but He requires T’shuvah, which is demonstrated only through a change in our actions. Yes, God can see our heart, but that isn’t enough.

Forgiveness of sin is something that says more about God than it does about us, namely that He is wonderful, compassionate and forgiving, and when we talk about how Yeshua died so we can have a chance to live eternally in God’s presence, we are glorifying both Yeshua and God. And that is why we need to change what we do- repentance of our sins has to be shown by a change in our actions which glorifies the Lord.

We naturally will do and act the way we want to, so to change how we act we need to change who we are. People can’t do that, which is why we need the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, to indwell in us. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit we can change our words, thoughts and actions. That is what we mean when we say “die to self.”

I once read a self-help book that made a lot of sense to me: the basic premise is that we cannot change how we react to things, but we can change how we act. I was not a Believer then and was thinking simply in humanistic ways, but now that I understand better I see that this is how the Ruach can help. I am sinful from birth, and iniquity (tendency to sin) is something that is part of me- I cannot just make it go away. BUT- I can control it, and I can act in a way that will allow me to overrule my desire to sin. The Ruach is how I do that, and that is what you need to do, as well.

What I mean is this: I can never be sinless, but I can always sin less. I can sin less tomorrow than I did today, and I can do that through repentance (true repentance) by asking the Ruach to help me. And by surrendering to it. When I put my pride and stubborn heart in subjection to the Holy Spirit, then I will have a change of heart, and I will act differently. And my change will demonstrate not to God, but to the world, the truth of my repentance. Our repentance must be obvious to the world in order to glorify the Lord.

That is the essence of today’s message. When we repent and mean it, we will have to change how we act and what we say because the repentance must be obvious to the world- what we do and say as Believers is not to reflect on us, it is to reflect on God and glorify Him.

When we change our words and thoughts, we show the world that our repentance is genuine and that glorifies God. If we tell people we are saved but they see us acting the same way we always have, what are they going to think? I’ll tell what they are going to think- they are going to think that whole “God thing” is a bunch of hooey! We will not only have lied to God but will have defamed Him, trampled the blood of Messiah into the dirt, and possibly prevented someone from being saved from their sin.

That is not a good thing to do.

So, remember what David said in Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me.

And while we’re at it, my personal prayer is from Psalm 19: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Repentance must be real, it must be demonstrated through a change in your words and your actions.

Repentance that doesn’t change you is not repentance, and without repentance of sin there will not be forgiveness of sin.

Forgiveness is self-centered

We usually think of a person who is forgiving as a compassionate, selfless being who loves people more than him or her self.

Not really.

Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood emotions in the world; well, at least I think that. Why? Because we have been taught that it is important to forgive someone who has hurt you so that they can feel better when they apologize. We see forgiveness, often, as something we do for their sake, but the truth is that we need to be forgiving for our own sake.

God has commanded that we be forgiving of others; read Matthew 6:14

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

God is very clear, as Yeshua (Jesus) tells us, that we MUST forgive others their sins against us or we will not be forgiven.

The Lord’s Prayer that precedes this verse tells us we should pray for God to forgive us as we forgive others (And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors), which is a statement of quid pro quo. In other words, when we pray to God (in the way Yeshua told us we should) we are telling God that He should forgive us in the same way we forgive others. So, obviously, if we are unwilling to forgive others then we are telling God it is OK to treat us the same way, i.e., do not forgive us our sins against Him. 

Yowsa!! Does that mean that even a person who has been Born Again, who has asked for forgiveness from God through Messiah and received it, can still be treated as one who has not been forgiven when he or she comes before the Throne of Judgement?

Seems that way, doesn’t it? I believe we are being told that when we pray to God to treat us as we treat others (think about Leviticus 18:19), yet we are unforgiving, then He should not forgive us, either. And that doesn’t mean forgiveness is revocable, it simply means we have told God it is OK to treat us the same way we treat others.

And here’s another important aspect to this: it makes no difference, whatsoever, whether or not the sinner asks us for forgiveness.

Essentially, we are permitting God to ignore His promise of forgiveness because we, ourselves, have failed to be forgiving. God is not reneging on His promise, we are rejecting it.

Scary, isn’t it? So, now can you see why forgiveness is self-centered? The very foundation stone of our forgiveness by God is the forgiveness we extend to others. If we refuse to forgive, we will not be forgiven. And that makes sense, when you think of the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23-35.

Besides ensuring our own salvation, forgiving is the only way to release the pain. Understand, also, that when you forgive you don’t have to trust again- those are totally different things. Forgiveness is from God to us, and then from us to others, but trust is something that every individual has to earn.

This is also important to understand: your forgiveness of someone doesn’t make that person right with God, it makes YOU right with God. God is the only one (well, Yeshua also) who can forgive sin, and the sinner will have to ask for it from God, directly. If they repent and ask you to forgive them, it will make you both feel better, but overall it makes your relationship with God stronger and secures your salvation.

Forgiveness of others has nothing to do with the other person, and everything to do with you and your relationship with God, and will affect your salvation. So, Nu? -what could be more self-centered than that?

And you know what else? In this case, it’s OK to be self-centered.


Do you purr for God?

I have two cats, Shadow and Bowtie. Both males, both fixed (why do we say they are “fixed” when what we did is to make sure it doesn’t work anymore?), and both with different personalities. Shadow is an nudge, always crawling on the newspaper when we are reading it, always moaning at 0330 in the morning (it’s a miracle he is still alive!),  and Bowtie is the one who is the “good son”.

The other day I was petting Shadow and he started to purr. I did the same with Bowtie later in the day, and realized how often I do this. Yes, obviously they have me well trained, but here’s the interesting part: when I pet them and do good things for them, their purr tells me they appreciate what I am doing for them, and I start to purr. Not audibly, but in my heart. I like hearing them tell me how much they like what I do for them.

Then it struck me- God must also feel good when we tell and show Him how much we appreciate what He does for us.

I am not saying that God sees us as pets, but what He does for us is wonderful, and when we show that appreciation I just have to believe that he feels as good as I do, if not better, then when I hear Bowtie or Shadow purring as I do good things to them.

We don’t sacrifice lambs or bulls to show God our appreciation anymore because the Temple is gone, but we can sacrifice in other ways to show how thankful we are. We can sacrifice our time to help others through volunteering; we can sacrifice our income through charitable contributions to those organizations we know are really doing God’s work (so many charities seem to be doing good when you see their TV ads, but you need to be as wise as the Sages of old when giving to charities- make sure it is legit); we can also sacrifice our work time to be with family more often.

Yeshua told us that whatever we do to our brothers, we do to Him. And I don’t think He meant just fellow Believers; I think Yeshua and God want us to be kind and compassionate to anyone and everyone, whether they are a Believer or not.

So, nu? Do you purr for God? Do you show Him how much you appreciate all He has done, is doing, and has planned to do for you? It is all for your good, trust Him, and even when He throws you into the fire, it is to designed to make you (come out) more purified than before.

I challenge you all to think of one way you can “purr for God” today. Do something that you know will please the Lord- it doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be honest and heartfelt and thankful. God loves a cheerful giver, and He is pleased when we do what is right, so go out there and purr loud and strong for God today.

Parashah Tetzaveh (Thou shalt command) Exodus 27:20 – 30:10

The previous Parashah described the Tent of Meeting, or Tabernacle, and now we get to the regulations about those serving in the tent. Aaron and his sons were chosen by God to be His Cohen HaGadol, His High Priests, and only those who are direct descendants are to carry on in this office. The clothing they are to wear, the special things for the High Priest (Ephod, breastplate and mitre) and the sanctification ceremony are all outlined in great detail. The last thing mentioned is the altar and it’s manufacture.

The breastplate had  12 brilliant gems, one for each tribe of Israel with that tribe’s name engraved on it, and it was worn over the heart. In biblical psychology the heart is the seat of intellect, not feeling, so people who are “wise-hearted” are those God has given special knowledge to (Exodus 28:3).  The Urim and Thummim (light and perfection) are also to be in the breastplate and worn over the heart.

The breastplate is called the breastplate of judgement: the people and the means of judgement (Urim and Thummim) are to be close to the heart of the one who is God’s representative to the people. I believe that this demonstrates to us that God’s judgement is to be intellectually influenced. It is to be totally fair. Of course, I also have to ask myself where, if judgement is to be unemotional, does mercy fit in? Mercy is certainly not something that is a mathematical equation or something we can intellectualize. It is an emotional feeling; it stems from compassion and love.  Can these two things really exist together? I don’t know. God is fair, and He tempers His judgments with compassionate mercy, but (then, again) He has been awesome and totalitarian in many of His judgments. God has had entire nations and peoples completed destroyed. Frankly, I don’t know how this all works together, and I was thinking of just deleting this entire section, but it raises questions. I think questions before the Lord are good things, so I am leaving this here for you to think over, on your own, and to discuss with God. If you have an answer, or something to add, please comment so we can all discuss this. The topic is: how can God judge fairly and still have compassion and mercy?

One other thing I find interesting: the Urim and Thummim, which are mysterious (we don’t even know what they were) are used to determine God’s will. They may have been some kind of dice that were used for throwing lots. They are mentioned in some of the writings of the Prophets (Nevi’im) but pretty much by David’s time they are not mentioned any more in the Tanakh. These means of determining God’s will were obviously important during the time the people were in the desert, and under Joshua. As time went on, they became less important, and we also see as time went on the people got further and further away from God; eventually, we got so far away from Him that we were nearly destroyed.

With Yeshua, we have been reconciled with God and can (again) draw close to Him. So, will we again see the Urim and Thummim? I don’t think so, because what was used to determine God’s will is now not over our hearts, but inside our hearts. The Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, is how we can know God’s will for our lives. It is our Comforter, our Guardian, our own “Jiminy Cricket” keeping us on the straight and narrow. We don’t have to have a physical thing to help us understand what God wants for us anymore because we have His very Spirit living inside of us.

As we are told in Jeremiah 31:31:

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

The Urim and Thummim have been replaced by the Ruach HaKodesh as our means of understanding what God wants in our lives. For me, that underscores even more than usual the need for people to accept their Messiah, especially the Jewish people, because without accepting Yeshua as our Messiah we can’t receive the Ruach HaKodesh. Without the Ruach, we can’t know God’s will for our lives. It is all so clear: first, after Yeshua’s resurrection, the next major event is the destruction of the Temple. No longer can we bring our sin sacrifice to the Lord- Yeshua was the last and complete sacrifice for sin, and through His sacrifice we are now reconciled and cleansed before the Lord. With the destruction of the Temple we also lost forever the records of the lineage of the people to prove who is a true child of Israel, and more important than that, who can serve as Cohen Hagadol. And that’s because we don’t need that anymore: Yeshua is now the Cohen Hagadol for all eternity, and the separation between the Jew and the Gentile doesn’t exist in the body of Messiah (Galatians 3:28).

If we look at the history of the events that occurred before and after Yeshua’s appearance on Earth, we can see the logical progression of salvation, the gradual development of the plan for eternity. Today we see the regathering of the children of Israel back to the land of their fathers, and God’s judgment on the nations coming to fruition. Terrorism, El Nino, global warming, wars, diseases, and terrible earthquakes and Tsunami’s occurring all over the world. Do you think these are just coincidence? Yes, they have always been here but throughout the recorded history of these events today there are more of them, and they are becoming more fierce and regular.  Just because science says some of these are the result of man-made problems doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of God’s plan. Throughout the bible we see God had used people to accomplish His goals more often than by some miraculous divine intervention.

We are living in prophetic times, and we need to have the courage to tell people, whether they believe us or not, about Yeshua so that their blood is on their own head and not ours.

Ask God to show you what His plan is for you, listen to the Ruach HaKodesh in your heart, and take action. Don’t wait until the Groom arrives to fill your lamps with oil.

Don’t Crow: Show

Yeshua said this about the Pharisees in Matthew 6:16:

 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

How this bible quote fits into the rather terse topic is simple: it all comes down to what we do and not what we say. I’ve learned (you’ve heard me say this plenty of times, already) that people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do. And when you add to that old adage the worn-out cliche about not just talking the talk but walking the walk, the lesson about living our lives as we are told to do becomes so repetitive that we just don’t pay attention anymore.

It’s like when you get a small paper cut. It really huts when you get it, but then your brain adjusts to the neural stimuli and becomes ennured to the pain. Then, after a while, you do something like hit the exact spot where the cut is, or maybe get lemon juice in it, or after shave, and WOWSAH!! You remember you have a paper cut, in a big way.

We need to keep pouring lemon juice on where the holes would be if we had been the ones nailed to the tree. We need to constantly remind ourselves, but in different ways so we don’t become callous, that we need to live out our everyday existence in a way that glorifies God, that lets people see His spirit-led change of attitude, and His grace, His love and His compassionate forgiveness.

In Judaism we say that when we look at the Torah we should see a reflection of ourself. So, nu? What do you see when you look at the Torah (Bible)?  Do you see a bunch of fancy words that sound nice or do you see yourself?

What the statement Yeshua said (above) means is that we should not try to win the favor and respect of other people by making a show of our “holiness”, because even if we win their respect and favor, that is all we will get. The purpose of fasting is to get closer to God, to motivate Him to answer our prayers by demonstrating our desire for His help through self-sacrifice. If we really want people to see us and think of how “holy” we are, God will let us have that reward. And what He could have given us will be lost to us; God will step aside and let us have the reward we sought, which is not the reward we could have gotten from Him if we had really been looking to Him for acceptance.

No matter what you give up when you fast, the point is that it is to be between you and God- as Yeshua said (just before this verse) in Matthew 6:3, when giving to the poor (let’s expand that to doing any form of Tzedakah, or charity) that it should be done in secret, so that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. This is the same as when we fast: both charity and fasting should be done in secret.

It all boils down to live you life, every day, getting closer to God, and do it in such a way that you will not need to profess your beliefs because  your actions will demonstrate your beliefs.

The greatest compliment I ever received is when I have had someone say me, ” You’re born again, aren’t you?”  I am embarrassed to confess it has been so long since this happened I can’t remember the last time it did.

If you have to tell someone you are a Believer, you need to work at it harder.


Do You Believe, or Do You Just Agree?

What kind of a question is that? I think one that we need to think about.

I know many people who say they are a “Believer” but they make up their own rules, and they are more like a “Buffet Believer” than a Believer that obeys the Lord. I also know many people, all raised within one of the Christian religions, who say they believe in God and Jesus, and pass it off with as much enthusiasm as when they say they believe the Mets will win the pennant this year.

These people have been brought up being told that Jesus died for their sins, that they are going to heaven so long as they are “good” people (where ‘good’ is what the world says ‘good’ is), and although they all believe in Jesus they are anything but what we who have been “born again” would consider a Believer.

Even the demons believe in Jesus / Yeshua; in fact, they are the most stringent and trusting believers because they have met Him, they have seen His Father, they know His power and that’s why they shake from fear at the very mention of His name. I think the demons have a better chance of getting to Heaven than the vast majority of people I know who say they believe in Jesus.

This is because of the wrongful teachings that have been handed down over the centuries. Too many humans telling other humans what God wants us to do, what is the right way to worship, creating traditions that only enforce their power over others instead of truly bringing glory to God.

Here’s a list from Wikipedia of the different forms of Christian worship (I am presenting it as an example, not as a definite and complete listing):

Catholic Church

The Latin Church

Eastern Catholic Churches

Other churches and movements

Independent (self-identified as Catholic)

Eastern Orthodoxy

Eastern Orthodox Church

Oriental Orthodoxy

Church of the East

Medieval sects


Proto-Protestant Groups



Anglican Communion

Other Anglican Churches


Continental Reformed churches


Congregationalist Churches

Anabaptists and Schwarzenau Brethren

Plymouth Brethren and Free Evangelical Churches


Pietists and Holiness Churches


Spiritual Baptists

Apostolic Churches – Irvingites



Neo-Charismatic Churches

African Initiated Churches

Messianic Judaism \ Jewish Christians (Ed: really should be under Judaism) 

United and uniting churches

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement


Millerites and comparable groups

Adventist (Sunday observing)

Adventist (Seventh Day Sabbath/Saturday observing)

Church of God movements (Sunday observing)

Church of God movements (Seventh Day Sabbath/Saturday observing)

Sabbath-Keeping Movements, Separated from Adventists

Sacred Name groups

Movements not related to the Millerites but comparable to them

Sabbath-Keeping movements, predating the Millerites

Latter Day Saints

Oneness Pentecostalism

Unitarianism and Universalism

Bible Student groups


Christian Science

Other non-Trinitarians

New Thought

Esoteric Christianity

Racialist groups

Syncretistic religions incorporating elements of Christianity

Christian Movements

Internet Churches

LGBT-affirming Christian denominations

Interdenominational (ecumenical) churches and organizations

What’s with that? There is one God, and He gave us the Torah with the Mitzvot, Hukkim and Mishpatim (Laws, ordinances and regulations) and He said to obey these throughout all our generations. If these are the instructions directly from God, then how is it possible to have so many different groups of people worshipping the Lord in all these different ways?  Was God that confusing when He outlined the laws?

Moses said that to obey the Lord isn’t that hard: he said the laws aren’t so far from us that we need to send someone to get them or so high we couldn’t reach them. He also was adamant not to add to or take away from any of these laws, yet how can we have so many different means and ways of worshipping God, all with their own sets of “laws” if we never strayed from God’s Torah as He gave it to us?

Even the Jewish people, the ones that were given the Law and are the protectors and guardians of Torah, have 6 different sects that worship differently.

How can we know the difference between those that agree and those that truly believe? I guess the same way we know who to trust and who not to trust- by their fruit, by their ethics, by the way they live. People don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do, so are you a “believer” or just someone who repeats what you have been told, accepting things blindly because they are easy to live with?

Yakov (James) told us to be doers of the law and not just hearers of it. Decide if you really believe in Yeshua/Jesus; decide to accept the responsibility of knowing that He died so you can have a chance at salvation. The truth, Brothers and Sisters, is that you can’t make it on your own, and just because someone with a theological degree tells you the Spirit of God is in you and you are saved by the blood (after being able to answer three questions correctly) doesn’t mean you are a believer, or saved.

You need to decide that you are going to believe; you need to live your life showing that you are a believer by being a doer of the Word; you need to take possession of your salvation. You need to ask God for forgiveness: you, and only you because no one else can do it for you! If you just agree with what your Priest or Pastor or Rabbi, for that matter, has told you about salvation without deciding for yourself based on your own relationship with God, then you are a blind person being led by another blind person.

If you have decided to believe, halleluya! If you just agree, please please please get on the ball and make up your own mind!

Get real people- we’re talking about Eternity here!

To Do Things Right, It Must Be From God

Real simple: nothing of this world is righteous. The world is a cursed place, and therefor all that is of the world is born cursed.

We are a cursed species, and therefor what we create, perform and desire is from a cursed and sinful mentality.

Ouch! Have some more coffee, Steve, or maybe have less! What a way to start the morning.

Well, it is a rather stark and unhappy realization, but it is true. The Bible tells us the world was cursed, the Enemy was not thrown into Sheol but thrown down to the Earth, and we are told he is the Prince of the Air.

If the world is cursed, we are cursed, and the Enemy rules on Earth, what hope is there for us to do anything right?

My hope is in the Lord, He is my light and my salvation. David knew that some 2,800 years ago. And he was right, of course.

If we want to do something that is holy and righteous, we need it to stem not from us but from God. That comes from the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, that indwells us when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah and ask for God’s forgiveness through Yeshua.

I believe that God will forgive anyone who asks with a broken spirit and contrite heart, even if they are not a confirmed “Believer”. Why? Because that’s how God rolls- He loves all His children, and we are all His children, so He is willing to forgive. He tells us so in so many ways throughout the Tanakh.

But to receive the Holy Spirit we need to do more than be repentant- we need to do T’Shuvah (turn from sin) and accept the gift of Grace that is Yeshua Ha Mashiach. Then we can receive the Ruach and with the spirit of God inside us, we are able to overcome the cursed world, and our own sinful nature. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. Greater is that which is in me that that which is in the world.

I offer this simple thought this morning, which I also believe to be a simple truth: nothing that is from the world (flesh) is of God, and anything of God overcomes everything that is of the world.

The downside is when you do what is right in God’s eyes, the world rejects and hates you. Here’s the $64,000 question: who are you going to please? The world, which offers some immediate pleasures that result in separation from God and eternal suffering, or God, who offers peace, forgiveness and eternity in Paradise?

Ooh, that’s a tough one…how much time to I get to decide? You get until your last breath; do you know when that will be?

As you go forth today think of what I am saying, and see the world for what it is. It is God’s creation, it is beautiful and wondrous, and it is our home. It was created perfectly for us to live in, and we were given dominion over it.

And that’s where it got screwed up. When mankind was made manager the whole business went down the toilet.

Luckily, God is as good a plumber as anything else, and he provided the ultimate Rotor Rooter man- Yeshua. Yeshua went into the toilet, lived in it, overcame it, and emerged smelling like a rose. And He is standing there, plunger in hand, waiting for everyone else to grab hold and get pulled out.

After I die I will be pulled out of the toilet, not flushed down with what is all around me. And I will spend eternity with God and Yeshua.

You have a choice- get flushed down the toilet or call Rooter Rooter.

You Love Me? Really?

We all know that the Lord loves us. Whether or not we love Him, He loves us. His love is unconditional, it is forever, it is based on who He is and not who we are (thank God for that!), and it will cause Him to judge us fairly with mercy. Which we all need.

It is so much above human love, and so far beyond human understanding; how can any of us, really, associate with what He did when He sent His only son to die for us so that we could be close to Him. Something we could never have achieved on our own, even though it isn’t that hard. After all, Moshe told us that it isn’t so far away we need to send someone to get it for us, or so deep we can’t retrieve it, or so high above us we can’t reach it. It is right there, right in front of us.

But we can’t get hold of it, not a real good hold. So God did for us what we should have done for ourselves, at a great cost. Yeshua stripped His robes of righteousness and took on a mantle of flesh: filthy, dirty and mortal coverings that He wore just as the rest of us. Except despite this, He did not sin in the flesh that causes all the rest of us to sin. He survived unblemished, He showed us how to live, and He properly interpreted God’s word for us (which means Jesus/Yeshua did NOT create a new religion- those that followed after Constantine created a different religion, but Yeshua taught from the Tanakh and taught how to follow the Torah correctly.) Yeshua died so that I could live; so that you could live. It was, and is, a very personal thing.

Do you love the Lord? Most everyone I ever met who is Born Again says “YES!! Emphatically! Totally! Absolutely!”

I love God, too, but I don’t feel it.  I feel love for my wife. I feel love for my children (even though they have rejected me, so in that way I know a little about how God must feel), but I confess I don’t feel love for God- I know I have love for Him. Maybe because He is so wonderful, so far from me (in holiness, but not emotionally or relationship-wise), or maybe just because I am really selfish with using the word “love”, I don’t have the same emotional sense I feel with other humans. I love the Lord, and I am His bride (wow- to say such a thing in today’s world, and so close to election time, is scary) and those who read this most likely know the true meaning of that reference. But I just can’t honestly say I love God and feel it. I want to, I know I do, but I don’t feel it. I do feel unworthy, unresponsive, and undeserving of what He feels for me because I just don’t know how to return it. And I absolutely know that He deserves it.

Maybe my real problem is that I can’t separate the holy love I know for God from the romantic love I feel as a human. How many of you out there love someone because of how they make you feel? You feel whole, completed with the other person, right? My relationship with God has made me feel completed as a Jewish man, I feel that I have (finally) come full circle with God and we are on the same page, so to speak. My relationship is wonderful and fulfilling with the Lord- exactly what He planned when He sent Messiah. And more than anything or anyone else that ever was, God deserves my love. He has earned it because He gave me life, because of His sacrifice for me, through His devotion to me, through all He has done during my meager life that has protected me and kept me from harm, both physical and spiritual. God is worthy of my worship, my devotion, and more than anything, my love. He is worthy and deserving of everyone’s love.

However, I am not. That’s why I am confessing to you that I don’t “buy it” when a stranger, or even someone I worship with regularly and would call a friend or acquaintance, comes to me at the worship and says, “I love you, Brother!” I don’t doubt their sincerity, but I doubt they really love me. Not me. Maybe the spirit of God that they expect I should be housing? I could go along with that. But not me. They don’t know me. They haven’t seen me at my worst. They haven’t  heard the words I use when I am angry and frustrated (for me, those two emotions are so close together they are almost like Siamese Twins.) They haven’t heard my vengeful talk when I am wronged; I don’t take vengeance- that is for the Lord. But, I do plan it out for Him, now and then. They haven’t seen my evil twin, Skippy, at work when he locks me in the basement and takes over for me in real life, going to work and impersonating me. He angers the clients, makes trouble for the co-workers, he even gets my wife angry at him. It takes a lot to get Skippy to leave town; fortunately, he doesn’t get along with the Ruach HaKodesh so the closer I get to God the less often Skippy comes around.

But if you met Skippy, you certainly wouldn’t say to him, “I love you , Brother!” You would probably say something more like, “Oh Brother!”

I don’t tell people whom I don’t really know that I love them. I am not much of a hugger, either. I find it very impolite when someone hugs another person without asking permission. It isn’t their love for me that makes them want to hug me- it is their own desire to feel loved. They physically misuse my body, they assault me, in order to feel that they are loved. And if I should say, “I’m not really a hugger” their response more often than not is, “Well, I am.” and they proceed to violate my space, my body and my rights by hugging me. And if I should complain, guess who’s at fault? That’s right- they blame me for not loving as the Lord loves. They insult God’s love and cheapen what Yeshua did by ( as the psychologists call it) “projecting” their feelings at me instead of reflecting on what I said.

{By the way, to those who know me and those who worship with me, if you are thinking you should keep your distance don’t worry- I do hug people I feel comfortable with, and if you offer and I reply with a hug, it’s OK. If I should stick my hand out, that’s the signal that I am not comfortable enough yet. It’s not a rejection, it’s just caution on my part. Don’t stop asking, and please do not be upset or feel rejected if it isn’t time yet. It will be, eventually.}

You love me? Really? I don’t think so. I don’t think humans have that kind of love. Again, I don’t doubt your sincerity, and I appreciate your attempt  to be more like God, but love for others is worth a lot to me, and I don’t just throw it at the feet of anyone who says they are a child of God. It is like throwing pearls before swine, in my book. I pretty much start of with giving everyone the benefit of the doubt when I first meet them, or start to work with them, and I assume (and expect) they will be professional, dependable and trustworthy. I trust them and am looking forward to working with them, or knowing them as friends, whatever the relationship is supposed to be. It is up to them to give me cause to feel otherwise.

But it’s not like that with love. Love is something that the Bible teaches us we should have for each other. Love thy neighbor as thyself- Leviticus 19:18 (for those who don’t know this, when Yeshua gave us the “Golden Rule” He was quoting from Torah. There is nothing ‘New” in the New Covenant)- is the standard for all of us. Yeshua said the two most important commandments (in this order, by the way) are to love God, and love each other. He told His disciples that the way people will know they are His disciples is if they love each other. There is nothing but love in the life of a true Believer, a real worshipper of God. Shaul tells us, ultimately, no matter how many gifts he has been given, no matter how many talents he has, no matter how hard he works for the Lord, if he has not love, he has nothing.

I guess I am just a step or two above nothing. I have love, but I am selfish with it. I am too ensnared in the world, still, to separate the romantic version of love from the holy love that God feels for us. And, I am sorry to say, I don’t think I am that much different from most everyone else.  I believe that people cannot love the way God loves, but I do honor their attempt. That’s why when someone says they love me, I don’t argue with them. I may thank them, I most likely won’t say anything, and I guarantee I won’t say that I love them, too. I don’t know them that well, I am not that Godly, and I am certainly not that open with my feelings.

I hope you are different. I hope that some of you reading this will pity my weakness, my fleshly curse that prevents me from feeling love the way God does and keeps me chained to the emotional, romantic understanding of love that is a bane, in many ways, of humanity. Pray for me, if you will, and pray for yourself that you are really feeling the intercessory power that comes from truly loving as God does- not romantically, not selfishly, not humanly.

I doubt that I will ever feel that way, at least, not in this body. I do believe that once resurrected, I will be beyond the human level of emotions; I believe that we will all, those of us resurrected to the second life, no longer have emotional feelings as we do now. Our sense of love and emotional closeness to each other will be beyond the physical and it will be as God feels- love that is so powerful, so much a part of us that it is like breath, and as such we will be in total joy just being with each other.

I can hardly wait.