Another Catholic Church Scandal

No video today, and some of you may even have noticed this isn’t my usual day for posting. I had to write this because of what I read this morning in the paper. 

In the Florida Today paper there is a Catholic Priest who has been relieved of his flock pending investigation of sexual abuse when he was in a Pennsylvania diocese. 

It isn’t the sexual abuse I find disturbing, which it is, but the story about the way the visiting Priest addressed the congregation about it. 

Copying from what the paper reported, here is part of the Priest’s message:

“Our Mother (Mary) teaches us to pray in moments of desperation…in moments of need. “

He also said:

“Our Lady is a lady of hope…(God) will never abandon us, he’s never going to abandon this church…Mary help us, we are so lost…”

I read this and sighed because they are so lost.  Will God abandon those who have abandoned him? The Bible teaches us that when we reject God he will allow us to be on our own.  Did this priest pray to God for help? No, he didn’t. Did he pray to Jesus for help? No, he didn’t. Did he pray to someone that has no divinity, no authority, and who (in fact) Yeshua disowned before he died? 

YES- he did!! 

“Oh, wait a minute, Steve! When did Yeshua ever disown his own mother?” 

John tells us this happened in his Gospel, Chapter 19 verses 25-27:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”  (NIV)

Essentially, Yeshua separated himself from the last “human family” he had before becoming the sacrificial lamb for all humanity. 

So when this priest said they are lost, he was more correct than he knows. There is absolutely no place at all in the Bible where Mary teaches anyone, anything. He says “Our Lady is a lady of hope..”; what happened to Jesus? And where is God all this time? Is there more hope for us in Mary than in Yeshua or God? In fact, when he called out to Mary to help them, he showed anyone who knows the Bible just how lost they really are- the epitome of the blind leading the blind. He was blindly calling for spiritual help to someone who can’t help them, ignoring the only One who can help them! Then, in the same breath, he says that One (God) will never abandon them, even though they clearly have abandoned him by praying to a human being.

And the congregation was (typically) blindly following. The paper says the message was well received by many, giving them hope. Hope in what? Where do they place their hope? In Mary? 

What about Psalm 33:20-22? We are told:

We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.

Don’t they read the Psalms in the Catholic church? Aren’t the priests trained in the entire Bible? 

Let’s go to the New Covenant…doesn’t Yeshua tell us the ONLY way to the Father is through the son?

How can the Catholic church leadership have missed all of this?

I am not saying this just to pick on the Catholic Church, although I have to say they do make it very easy to do so. No! I am trying to get them to open their eyes. They say they want to know why they have had such T’souris in the past 10 or more years? Well, I think it started much earlier than the past few years or decades. I started when they rejected God and Yeshua (except through lip service during the Mass) and began praying to their Saints, who are nothing more than people. It began when they filled their sanctuaries with graven images, knelt before them, and prayed to them. This is idolatry and unacceptable to God. They abandoned the path that Yeshua told them to walk, which is the same path along on which the Disciples led the Gentiles who accepted Messiah in the First Century. 

Instead, the modern church is following the ways of Constantine and subtle forms of pagan worship he introduced into the Canon he established at the Council of Nicene in the Third Century, which is the foundation for the modern Catholic church, as well as most of Christianity. 

As we come closer to the End Days, we see many Christians beginning to recognize the veil that has been pulled over their eyes, and they are beginning to know Yeshua for who he really is. And in doing so they want to learn and follow Torah, which is what he taught. They are rejecting the Constantinian doctrines and coming back to the style of worship that God commanded of us all.

I pray this continues so that as the Christians come to know their Messiah for who he really is, then the Jews will see that Christianity is becoming more like what it was when it started, i.e. Torah honoring people who have faithfully accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to the world; to the Jew first, then to the nations. Perhaps when my Jewish brothers and sisters can see Gentiles who are praying to and worshiping God (alone) and honoring Torah, they will (finally) become jealous for their own Messiah. 

Pray for the Catholic church; but more importantly, pray for those 1.2 Billion or so Catholics throughout the world who are being led down the path to Sheol. Pray that their eyes open and their ears unclog so their hearts can become wise, and they can be saved before it is too late. 

Man oh man, do they ever need it! 

God’s Vineyard is Constantly Being Pruned

Pruning is when a secondary vine that is producing a lot of fruit is removed from the main vine and transplanted. Once transplanted, it becomes the main vine and (hopefully) produces more vines, all producing good fruit.

Sometimes when a vine doesn’t produce any fruit, or the fruit is substandard, it is pruned to allow the other vines to receive more nutrients from the main vine. The pruned vine may be transplanted to another main vine to see if it does better there, and if it doesn’t produce any fruit anymore it will be thrown into the fire and burned (read the parable found at Luke 13:6-8 about the fruit tree in the garden.)

In our lives we will be pruned, one way or the other, and possibly more than once. Sometimes we are cut off from our vine, and sometimes vines are cut off of us. Overall, pruning is not fun: it cause stress, anxiety and sadness. Our “comfort zone” is being reorganized, and no one likes it when that happens.

My congregation at the Hebraic Roots church I have been attending for 3 1/2 years (of which I am also a Council member and Officer) is undergoing pruning as I write this. I just changed the home page of our web site to reflect that there will no longer be any Shabbat services.  The Senior Pastor (and only one able to fill that position) is stepping down to pursue a theological Master’s Degree that his current employer is paying for, and he knows that working a full time job while pursuing an advanced degree will not leave the time he needs to perform his duties as a full time Pastor.  This is a hard decision for him, as he has been with this church for many years, but it is the right decision for him. The church attendance has also been steadily decreasing, tithes are not meeting expenses, and we haven’t met the requirements for being a sovereign church for (at least) 2 years. The Assembly of God Presbyter has been very kind in allowing us to continue as a Hebraic Roots church with Friday night services, but now we need to dissolve this church and return all the assets to the A of G for them to take charge. They have been very patient and helpful, and will  “re-boot” the church sometime in the immediate future, which will be a “standard” Assembly of God church with Sunday services.

We know we are being pruned, but who knows what, or who, is being pruned? Is the Senior Pastor being pruned to be more fruitful elsewhere? Is the incoming Pastor being pruned to be more fruitful here? Is this congregation being pruned because we haven’t been producing any fruit?

I really don’t know. I would like to think that we have been doing well and we are all, individually, being transplanted somewhere else to continue to do God’s calling in our lives. I think this place has done all  it was supposed to do in God’s plan, and as such now is being cut off. This is a hard thing to accept, but it is the most reasonable one given how the congregation has decreased, no new people are coming in, and our mission of training the Christian churches to know the Torah and their true calling in God’s plan of salvation just hasn’t been happening. However, over the 30 or so years this church has been here it has produced many new ministries that are still doing well, including a large Messianic Synagogue. We are a main vine that has been very fruitful over the years, and now I think we are just all used up.

The only vine that never dies and always produces good fruit is Yeshua.

I believe our Pastor will be more fruitful in his new pursuits, that I will be able to concentrate more on this on-line ministry (and with God’s help become more fruitful myself), and that the incoming Pastor will be given a new opportunity to fulfill his mission and calling for God.

When you are pruned, do not take it as a bad sign. You should, however, take a good look in the mirror and ask why this pruning is taking place. Be fair, be honest with yourself, and be hopeful because I believe as long as we have a heart for God and want to do His will, the pruning we go through, no matter how uncomfortable or even painful, will lead to more good fruit being produced. And, if the pruning is because we have failed to produce fruit, then so be it- we deserve to be pruned. It is then we need to repent, redirect ourselves to producing fruit, and if we do that God will transplant us. Maybe He is cutting us off from a comfort zone we don’t realize is not feeding us, and wants us to be grafted onto a more nutritious vine? You never know, so always try to be fruitful.

Pruning is not fun, it is not enjoyable, and it is most often not desired, but it is a necessary part of meeting God’s calling in our life.

The First Hurdle to Overcome When Talking to Jews About Yeshua

If you have ever tried to talk to a Jewish person about Jesus, you are already done. The moment you use the name “Jesus” pretty much any Jew you are talking to will be screaming, “Shields up, Scotty!!” because, to a Jew, Jesus is a Jew who betrayed Judaism and created his own religion, which has historically hated and persecuted Jews.

As I have talked about before (check out the blogs under the category “Jews and Jesus”), approaching a Jewish man or woman with the Good News is something that has to be done with total respect for, and only referencing, the Tanakh. Use “Yeshua” or “Messiah/Maschiach” when referencing Yeshua. Do not use the terms “Under the blood” or “Under the law” or even imply that Torah is not still valid and necessary, and do not, under any circumstances, use anything from the New Covenant writings to justify a position.

This teaching within Judaism, that Jesus created Christianity, is the major hurdle preventing Jews from even wanting to listen to anything about Jesus. And what makes this even more potent, as a wedge between Jews and Christians, is that Christians believe it, too! The fact is that Jesus did NOT create Christianity as it is practiced today. He did not create anything new, all He did was better define the existing laws in the Torah. Yeshua (let’s practice not using “Jesus”) did not change or delete or teach against anything in the Torah. Christianity teaches that He was the living Torah, that the Word became flesh (the only “word” at that time was the Torah) and that Yeshua lived a perfectly sinless life, which is why He was an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Christianity teaches and is based completely upon that truth: Yeshua was sinless. Yet, much of Christianity teaches that the Torah is no longer necessary; in other words, Christians are told to live and do what Yeshua did, but in the next breath they are told that they don’t have to obey Torah, which is what Yeshua did! Huh??  Do as Yeshua did, but don’t do what He did? The popular idea of living as Jesus did with the bracelet that has written on it, “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do) is creating a lie, because what Christianity teaches is “DDWJD” (Don’t Do What Jesus Did).

To be fair I should say, most of Christianity teaches this. There are the Messianic and Hebraic Roots Christian movements which are turning back to the roots of Christianity and accepting Yeshua as a Jew, and also accepting the Torah as a valid and necessary list of commandments that are, and always have been, as much a part of the New Covenant God made with us (through Yeshua) as the Old Covenant. Mosaic laws are still valid and need to be obeyed for blessings and to remain saved. Ignoring or rejecting Torah is rejecting God, and rejecting Messiah. We are told this in 1 John 2:4-6:

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word,love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

So, how do we overcome this hurdle? It ain’t gonna be easy, I can tell you that!

First, we should re-train the “Church” to recognize that being saved by Yeshua’s sacrifice does not mean they are no longer subject to the commandments in the Torah. We all need to recognize that the Torah is God’s commandments to the world, not just to Jews.

Second, the “Church” needs to understand that Constantine created modern day Christianity. Before then, there was growing political and social upheaval that caused the rift between Jews and followers of Messiah Yeshua (which was composed of Jews and Gentiles converting to Judaism.) Once the Christian world understands how and why the rift between Jews and Gentiles began, we can begin to overcome the wrongful, hateful and Satanic (yes, Satan is behind the split between Jews and Christians- no doubt about it!) teachings that came from the early “church elders.”

When I use the term “church elders” I am referring to Gentiles who took control of the early followers of Messiah. Even though there may have been thousands upon thousands of Jews that initially accepted Yeshua (and never, ever changed their Jewish lifestyle or worship), by the beginning of the Second Century people following “The Way” were being led by Gentile converts, and the majority of Messianic followers were Gentiles who had been converting from their pagan practices to Judaism. Those Gentile leaders did not want to get in any more trouble then they were already with Rome, so they began to separate themselves from the Jewish lifestyle and worship practices (if you read the letters from Shaul/Paul to his Messianic Communities, you can see between the lines that already they were beginning to fall away from Judaism in their worship and lifestyle, which is what he was trying to prevent.) In the same way Jeroboam separated Israel from Judea when he first took over the 10 Tribes that rebelled against Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, these elders became so passionate about no longer being associated with Judaism that they literally created a new religion, which Constantine made “official” at the Council of Nicene; those canon are the foundation for what we today call Christianity.

Finally, the third step in this process is to approach Jews with the truth about Yeshua: He was a Jew and is still a Jew, Torah is what He preached and followed and that He taught others to do so. His Disciples (use the term “Talmudim”, which means students) also lived a Jewish lifestyle, worshiped as Jews do, and taught others to do so. The early “church” was not a church at all, but made up of Messianic communities (use the term “Kehillot” (ka-hee-lote), which is Hebrew for communities) that were Jews who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and pagans converting to Judaism.

God willing, once we can get past the wrongful teachings, which are from Satan’s desire to weaken God’s union of those who follow the Messiah, we may then have our Jewish Brothers and Sisters give the order to “lower shields”, and communication can begin.

The truth WILL set you free, and it will also bring us into union as one new person, under Messiah, worshiping God and treating each other as God commanded us to do.



Parashah Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21-24

This parashah continues to teach the relationship between the Priests and the holy things, as well as rules regarding cleanliness when approaching, and appropriate condition of sacrificial animals for, the Altar.

Chapter 23 is the chapter that defines the Festivals of the Lord. These are the only Holy Days, as I define them, in all of Judaism or (frankly) any religion that professes to worship the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. All other days of celebration are holidays- meaning they are man-made, not God declared. That is my personal way of identifying the difference between, say, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah: the former is a Holy Day, the latter is a holiday.

What I want to talk about today is not the obvious “juicy” topic- Chapter 23-but one of the last lines in this parashah. The final verses recount a non-Israelite cursing God and being stoned to death for it, and God giving us the following commandment regarding how we are to administer justice in Leviticus 24:22:

“Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for the home-born; for I am the Lord your God” 

If you were to ask me what is the one, defining difference between Christianity and Judaism, with respect to the bible, I would answer with this verse. That’s because, as a general rule, Christianity has rejected their need to obey the Torah, citing the forgiveness given by Yeshua (Jesus) as over-riding the Torah.

There is a truthfulness to the statement that Yeshua is the means of our salvation; it is by forgiveness of our sins, which His sacrifice made possible.

But that doesn’t mean Torah is not important, valid or necessary anymore. Yeshua, Himself, confirmed Torah observance throughout His ministry and after every healing, and His Talmudim (Apostles and Disciples) that followed Him also confirmed Torah in their teachings. It has been the misinterpretations and wrongful teachings over the past 20 centuries that have caused such a rift between Christianity and Judaism with regard to the ways in which we are to worship God.

One rule for everyone, one law administered justly to everyone, whether a natural Jew, or a convert, or a non-Believer, or an agnostic, or a Satanist: all people are God’s children, and under God’s authority, and as such are to be treated the same with regards to the administration of God’s justice, which He defined and outlined in the Torah. And why should everyone be treated the same way?  Because “I am the Lord, your God“, meaning that there is one God, and what He says is right for someone, is right for everyone.

Obey the Torah, or not obey the Torah?: that is the question. The answer is: both. Huh? Both? מה עשה אתה אומר? (What did you say?)

Both, because we are all commanded to obey the Torah, but none of us can (completely) obey the Torah. As hard as we may try, still, we fail. That is when we sin (when we fail to obey, whether by attempting and failing, or by simply not even trying), and that is when the forgiveness for sinning (assuming you are repentant) is made available. It is available because God loves us all enough to want to forgive us, and Yeshua’s sacrifice made it possible to be forgiven without having to obey one part of the Torah; specifically speaking, the laws involving bringing our sacrifice to the Temple, which doesn’t exist anymore.

Yeshua told us that those who sin and teach others to sin would be better off if they threw a millstone around their necks and jumped in the river. I am sorry to say that teaching others to sin is exactly what “The Church” (meaning most of Christianity) has been doing since Constantine’s day. The prominent teaching that “Torah is for Jews and Christians have the Blood of Christ” is, essentially, teaching people to ignore the Torah. And the next step is to be unrepentant about ignoring the Torah.

Now, it’s bad enough to ignore God’s commandments, which is a sin, but to go as far as to teach to sin and not concern yourself about it?;  that it is OK to ignore God’s commands?; that you are going to heaven no matter what the Torah says? Well…woe be to you, Church Fathers, for you have sinned and caused others to sin. And when we sin and don’t care that we sinned, isn’t that is being unrepentant? And if you are unrepentant, do you really think you will be forgiven?

This is a scary thought for me, and I try to obey Torah. If you are reading this and have been taught to ignore Torah, then this thought should give you reason to change your underwear!

I am not saying everyone has to get circumcised, or start to eat according to Kashrut (Kosher) laws, or wear Tzit-tzit (although none of that would hurt anyone), but I am saying that we should realize God has told us how we all are supposed to live and worship Him, and that even if we do not follow all His commandments, we should try to. Eating ham will not send you to hell and refusing to eat ham will not guarantee heaven, whether you have accepted Yeshua or not. As I have said many times, Yeshua’s sacrifice has made forgiveness possible, but we have to be repentant, we have to perform T’shuvah, and for our repentance to mean anything we have to demonstrate it’s legitimacy through our good works. Obeying Torah as best we can is as good a “good work” as you can perform.

It boils down to this: one God with one set of laws for everyone; one Messiah providing the only means of salvation for everyone; and what you will do is your choice.

Just don’t forget that God will hold you, alone, responsible for your choices- “just following orders” will not count for anything come Judgment Day.

Parashah Ki Tesa (when you take) Exodus 30:11 – 34

Wow! This parashah is really full of such wonderful stuff: the formula for the incense, God giving the Torah to Moshe (twice, in fact), the sin of the Golden Calf, the sacrificial attitude of Moses, refusing to allow God to make a nation from himself so that the people survive (even asking God to blot him out with the people), Moses also begging God to travel with the people or leave them where they were, and finally we are told of the Divine attributes of God (in Judaism called the Imitation of God), which God, Himself, calls out as He passes by Moses.

With all of that, what shall I talk about today? None of it. I want to talk about something that is in-between the lines, something mentioned in the Chumash commentary but not mentioned directly in the Tanach.

What I am referring to is that when Moses left to go up the mountain to meet with the Lord, he left two people in charge (Exodus 24:14): Aaron and Hur. Aaron from the tribe of Levi and Hur from the tribe of Judah, yet when the story of the Golden Calf begins we only hear about Aaron. The Chumash explains the traditional belief is that Hur resisted the people’s wishes for an idol and was put to death by them. Seeing this, Aaron decided he better build the idol.

The Chumash states that Aaron’s deeds were not correct, but the “spin” they give is that he was stalling, hoping for Moses to come back in time to stop this. Another explanation is that Aaron was a man of peace, so seeing resistance as futile and fearing division within the tribes, he acquiesced to the demands of the people.

Really? So because Aaron was a man of peace, he ignored (in truth failed to perform) his duty as the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) and rejected the commandments God gave the people so that they wouldn’t fight among themselves? Sounds more to me like Aaron was interested in saving his own skin. Clearly, the idea of being a martyr did not appeal to him, whereas Hur became the first martyr in the bible.

Sidebar: it is usually taught that Stephan was the the first martyr mentioned in the bible , but when you consider the (Merriam-Webster) definition of the word:

A person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion.

when we talk about the first martyr mentioned in the bible, it seems Hur should hold that distinction.

Here is what I see- Moses, representing God’s ideal government of both religious (prophet) and civil (king) authority in one position (which is what we will have under the rule of Messiah), goes to commune with the King of kings, and leaves two people in charge. One whose authority is religious (Aaron, from the tribe of the priesthood) and one whose authority is civil (Hur, from the tribe of Judah: remember that Judah will hold the scepter until Messiah/Shiloh comes, which was the blessing that Israel gave on his deathbed in Genesis 49:10.) This is a precursor of the times at the end of the Prophets, when a king was requested who would rule separately from the Prophets (1 Samuel 10), setting the standard of separation of church and state that still exists today.

The authority of the prophets comes directly from God, and the authority of the king comes from the people. Oh, yes, we read how God told the prophets who they should anoint, but we see later that the kings set themselves up more often than a prophet did. And today the political power of nearly every single nation is from human choice, not Divine announcement.

I believe that the bible shows us (starting in this parashah) that civil authority is what the people prefer, and yet the best authority is the one God grants. Whenever we listen to humans instead of God, we reject God and fall into sin, and when the religious authority succumbs to the civil (as Aaron did), all hell breaks loose. We see this happen throughout the bible, and yet we never seem to learn. Even today we still have rejected God- He has been taken out of our courts, out of our schools, and replaced with political correctness under a one world court called the United Nations.

The ideal government God designed is the one that the enemy of God, the Son of Perdition, will establish. That is why, I believe, it will be so powerful and will only fall to the Divine intervention of God. The prophet-king government, a Theocracy, is what God wants on earth. We had it under Moses, and the first time we tried to break it up (in this parashah) we see that the government failed to function.

For you and I what this means is that we need to decide who we will follow- God or Man? Yeshua (Jesus) tells us to give unto Caesar what is his, so we pay our taxes (correctly!) and obey the laws of the country and municipality. But what we see from our religious leaders today is coming more and more under a civil dictate than what God says: in both Jewish and Gentile places of worship we see not just allowing some members to remain members even after professing they are homosexual, but support of that lifestyle as acceptable. We see churches and synagogues presenting their position for or against candidates for office. I agree we should support those politicians that are god-fearing, but we are supposed to accept that God is in charge and He will put in authority whomever He chooses- our political choices should be secret. After all, isn’t the right to a secret ballot one of the most important rights we have fought for? If we have shed blood so that we can vote for someone in secret, why then do we go around violating that secrecy by announcing who we will vote for and (even worse!) demanding to know from others who they will vote for?

We are just so wrong in everything we do, yet we continue to do wrong even in the face of history and seeing, over and over and over….and over…how when we reject God’s path we walk into a pile of manure.


Until we have that perfect, Divine government under Messiah, we will have to work within the political system we have. Historically, every attempt at returning to the Mosaic government has failed: the leaders of these attempts are called Dictators and Despots. That’s not the government God wants. So what we have to do is remember that we are to respect the government authority, and follow our leaders as long as they are following God’s design.

One day you may have to face that ultimate challenge, which is (essentially) to take the mark of the devil or refuse it; when that day comes, we all need to be ready to give our mortal life so that we can retain our immortal soul.

Glitter Ash Wednesday- really?

There was an article in our Florida Today newspaper the other day about churches adding purple glitter to the ashes for use on Ash Wednesday. Why? To show support for LGBT Christians.

LGBT Christians- that sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? According to the word of God, homosexuality and cross-dressing is an abomination.

Now, don’t go flying off the handle at me if you are an LGBT person- I am NOT homophobic: I have family members and friends who are Lesbian and Gay, and I love them, accept what they are doing as their choice (note that I say accept what they do as their choice, not that I accept what they do) and I have nothing against anyone who has that type of sexual preference. I just agree with God that it is not right.

Actually, because God sees any and all sin as sin, homosexuality is no different than lying, murder, adultery, etc., right? So, if we are going to show support for LGBT Christians (and the Jews are no different in this- there are relatively as many LGBT synagogues as there as churches), why not support murderers, rapists, child molesters, crooks, adulterers, embezzlers, and all people who perform any one of the plethora of sinful activities that humans do to each other?

What I believe is this: churches and synagogues should not demonstrate any kind of support for any sinful activity. For me, to add glitter to ashes to show support for homosexuality is no different than throwing those ashes back in God’s face and telling Him that what He says we should do is less important to us than what the world says we should do.

The two greatest commandments are to love God and love each other- it should be in that order! When we do things to be “politically correct” instead of to follow God’s commandments, we have already taken the first step to accepting the mark of the Beast. That’s right- when you start to act in ways that honor the opinion of this fallen and sinful world instead of standing against it and acting the way God said we should, then you have bowed to the enemy of God and are rebelling against the Almighty.

If you don’t like the sound of that- tough! The truth is there is no middle of the road with God: you are with Him or against Him, there is only black or white, evil or good, with no in-between. Again, if you don’t like that, tough luck, Buddy- that’s the way it is!

So if you do Ash Wednesday and your church has added glitter to some of the ashes, I suggest you find another church because when Yeshua returns, that place is going to be in trouble. The leadership of any church or synagogue that is openly accepting of any sinful activity is leading you away from proper worship of God and will be marked for destruction.

Strong words, I know, but I am for God and not for the world. To paraphrase a godly and righteous man, “As for me, I will serve the Lord ” (Joshua 24:15), and if that means any of my friends or family members will no longer have anything to do with me because I reject some of their lifestyle choices, then so be it (although I know that won’t happen because we have been through this already, and we respect each other’s right to an opinion, and we love each other even when we disagree- that is the correct way we serve God.)

No one who worships God is perfect;  we are all sinners who continue to sin. The real issue isn’t what that sin is, but whether or not we are repentant of it and wish to overcome it. I believe that is what separates the sinners who are forgiven from the sinners who aren’t forgiven- the ones who ask for forgiveness receive it. That is the simple and direct  way God works. If you are sinning (any sin) and you repent of it, then clearly you would not want to do that sin anymore because when we sin, it hurts God. Yes, it does- when you see someone you care for doing something that is hurtful to themself, don’t you feel bad?

If not, you’ve got bigger problems than I can help you with!

So, then, when God sees us hurting ourselves by rejecting His rules and commandments (which provide immortality and eternal joy), He is hurting, too. God is a better parent than any human could ever be, so if we are hurt seeing loved ones suffer, imagine how much more painful it must be to God to see us (literally and spiritually) killing ourselves.

Let me bring this down to a simple statement: if your place of worship supports sinfulness, leave it! If you don’t then you are the blind man being led by another blind man, and you will both fall into a hole (that leads directly to Sheol.)


Leaders need to lead

Isaiah says that we are all like sheep, easily led astray to do evil. We are also just plain, easily led stray.

People want to be led, not to lead. Oh, they want to be in charge, all right- everyone wants to be able to talk and have everyone else listen. But that sort of authority comes at a price- you have to be responsible for what they all do and for what happens when they do it. It’s all on your head when you are in charge.

I think that’s why people want to be led- no responsibility, no blame, no worries.

Also no hope, no control and nowhere to go but were you’re told to go.

There can not be a lot of leaders- we all know that old expression, “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, and we certainly don’t want our broth to spoil. But, we do need leadership in our lives, and in our churches and synagogues. Leadership is what moves us, what keeps us motivated, and what causes change.

Oy! Wait a minute! I am all for leaders moving and motivating us, but change? That’s a dirty word- I just want things to stay the same. I’m comfortable, I am happy, I know what to expect.

Do you know what the word is for something that doesn’t change? Stagnation.

Will Rogers once said that even if you are on the right track, if you just sit there you’re bound to get run over. Change is how we survive, and if the leadership isn’t willing to create change, then that church or synagogue is already an endangered species. And if there isn’t an inflow of new ideas and actions, it will become extinct.

Change is the main responsibility of leadership. Management and leadership are two sides of the same coin- but they are drastically different in their purpose. Leadership is moving, dynamic, and flexible whereas management is supposed to keep everything stable while the leadership is shaking everything up. It is a very special sort of dance, and when the partners are working together as a team, it is beautiful.

Is your church or synagogue changing? Is it growing? Is it offering you something exciting and new, while maintaining those things that shouldn’t change, such as worship, teaching the word and being responsive to the congregation? Not to forget missionary ministry. You can’t grow if you aren’t finding new members.

If not, then either offer yourself to help or find some place that does these things. If your leadership isn’t really leading, then it’s following. And since those who follow don’t ask questions, you might be being led into a hole. Remember that Yeshua told us when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a hole.

Keep your eyes open, be compassionate and understanding, but also be aware that if your leadership isn’t leading, then you need to get them on the ball or you need to go somewhere where there is leadership.

There is nothing wrong with questioning leadership. It is not disrespectful, it is not impudent; in fact, it is the responsibility of every member of an organization to keep their leadership in line and accountable.

Join in and help your leadership- there are plenty of sheep, so be a ram. At least, be a sheep that will question where you are being led.

When it comes down to it, we will all be held accountable for ourselves, and our decisions. If your decision is to let someone else make your decision, well, that’s still your decision. If that person makes the wrong decision, it’s your tuchas on the line, too!

Stagnation feels comfortable, but it is a slow death.


Sometimes you just wanna get away from it all

I was asked, and accepted, to be a member of the Board of Directors at the church where I worship. It’s a Christian church but they are a Hebraic roots movement, which is sort of the same as a Messianic Synagogue, except where Messianic Jews accept Yeshua as Messiah and remain Jewish, Hebraic Roots Movement is where Christians want to know more about their Jewish roots and they honor Torah, but are not “converting” to Judaism. I guess they’re two sides of the same coin.

In any event, I was asked to work on getting the website for the church upgraded, updated and , well…up. I did some research, we had a reference from someone in the Congregation who had personal experience and knew the person and after meeting with him I recommended we go with him. There are three others on the Board, two of which said they were fine with what I suggested and the amount, and the third said to not pay it all up front, which we decided was a good idea. I emailed the site host and made our offer, which he accepted and said he would send us an invoice and get started.

That’s when one of the members started to waver, asked questions about other costs, said he never agreed to an amount (that was never suggested), etc. Then he started to ask why we can’t use a free site, or a cheaper site. The last straw, for me, was when he said if we all don’t agree then we have to meet and hold a formal vote. I was told, before I joined, that we did not have to be unanimous, and the issue about having to have a meeting and a formal vote when one disagrees was never even suggested.

Well, I was fuming. I don’t like surprises, and I don’t like indecision. All I saw was cold feet, even though every point he made was valid and useful. The problem I had was that he didn’t make these until we started to move. Where was he, I was thinking, over the past two weeks of emails I had been sending? Why is he making all this fuss now, when everyone else (yes, all 3 of us) had decided to go ahead.

I don’t like that. The events and how they happened, as well as the emails (the last one I sent was so hot it had to be typed with an asbestos keyboard) finally resulted with our Pastor telling us to cool it, get back to being godly in our dealings and no more emails or texts. We need to be face-to-face now. And he was, of course, absolutely correct.

So, what was my tirade about? It’s wasn’t really about the person who was blocking movement (I don’t mean that to be a derogatory statement) and it wasn’t really about having to ask the vendor to hold up starting for a little bit. It wasn’t really about anyone being a bad guy; in fact, if there is a “bad guy” to this story, it’s me.

The level of my anger was not justified. I wasn’t angry because of his suggestions, which were fine, or because of his timing, which was very bad, but I was angry because of my own pride. I felt betrayed, misled and embarrassed: here I had been asked to get this done, something they had been wanting to do for a while, and after being tasked with this, putting in time to research, meet with the vendor, and email everyone with the results, I got approval from two and the third did not say “wait on this” , but the moment I said “Go!” I was grabbed by the nape of my neck and told, “STOP!!”

I believe that the way our third member handled this was wrong- but that is no excuse for me getting so angry as to even threaten to quit (I hadn’t even been to two meetings yet.) That sort of ultimatum (usually) is the result of pridefulness, which (I have said over and over) is the mother of all sins. My pride is what caused us to be shut down, email-wise, and my pride probably made what was just bad timing, and a minor delay, into a major event. I am sure that after we can review all the information I have since sent out, comparing cheap hosted sites against professionally constructed and hosted sites (which I, in my pridefulness, already knew about), we will continue to go forward with the vendor most of us agreed would be OK.

And I expect that, because we are (well, at least they are) godly men, we will get past this with nothing more than a sense of how we can better handle disagreements in the future.

In the meantime, I have to preach this Friday night at Shabbat services and I am preaching about loving each other as God loves us- pretty much what I wrote about for this past Monday’s posting. That was before I blew my top. Now I feel really bad about myself, I feel undeserving of going before a congregation, and I feel ashamed.

So, what should I do? I’ll tell what I should do- I should get over it and get moving, again. I fell down, so what? I am getting up again, I am going forward, I still feel that I wasn’t wrong in what I said but that I was wrong in how I said it (the story of my life!) I know it’s going to be OK,  but I won’t feel better until I apologize face-to-face, shake his hand and hug him, and hear that he has forgiven me.

In the meantime, I am not going to beat myself up. I made a mistake, that’s what we do, we humans. We make mistakes. And I know that he will forgive me because he is a man of God, a man who is spiritually mature, and a man I can trust. I am glad I know him.

I hope he can feel that way about me one day.

Pride is a horrible thing, and being a horrible thing, it makes us do horrible things.  I am prideful, and I am working on it, with the help of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

The most important lesson here is not so much to watch what we say (which we should) , or think before speaking (then shut up, anyway), but to know that we will fall, we will fail, and we will do it more than once. And after all that we must keep going and striving to improve. The Enemy wants me to feel bad, he wants me to call the Pastor and tell him I am not worthy to preach to anyone, and he wants me to quit being on the Board.

Sorry, Satan- I’m not falling for that. I will fall, but not for your line of fertilizer, Buddy-boy! I will keep at it; I will continue to preach because God has given me that gift (which has been confirmed to me by many) and I will stay on this Board because if they asked me to be on it, I should trust their judgment. They are more spiritually mature than I am. They can teach and develop me, and I can also help and enhance this Board because I am working on being better and God is behind me.

We all fall, we all do stupid things, and we all hurt someone or get hurt by someone. So what. Really- so what! I still have God, I still have Messiah, and I still have breath to praise Him and strength to keep trying to be better, for Him.

You never really fail at anything until you stop trying.

The 3 Biggest Lies about Jesus

Third Biggest Lie: If you are Jewish and you believe Jesus is the Messiah then you can’t be Jewish anymore.

That’s what I have been told, and not just by Jews but the Christian world teaches that, also. They don’t come right out and say it, but the teachings are based on misunderstanding of the letters from Paul (Shaul) to the Romans and Galatians, which have been used as a polemic against following the Torah when they are really an apologetic explaining why it is still absolutely necessary to follow the Torah. There are also many subtle anti-Semitic terms in the New Covenant writings, no matter whether it is King James, NIV, or whatever. Unless you have a Messianic New Covenant, the First Century Jews and Pagans who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised are called the “Church”- that is just not right. There was no “church”, at least not as we know the word to be used today. There were Jews and pagans becoming Jews. They met in groups and homes, and if we need to label them in any way, the best term would be Kahillot, the plural of the Hebrew word Kahal, which means congregation. The first century Jews who accepted Yeshua to be the true Messiah remained (and worshiped as) Jews. The pagans who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah of the Jews began to become Jewish, since there were no other religions. You were either a pagan of one sort or another, or a Jew. When you stopped being a pagan, you had no choice but to be a Jew. Duh! So, where did we go wrong? When did accepting the Jewish Messiah require converting to Christianity?  Sometime around the time when the second biggest lie started.

Second Biggest Lie: Jesus founded Christianity.

Jesus never founded Christianity. He preached only to Jews and used Torah as His only source. After the resurrection and the inclusion of the Gentiles into salvation (Acts 10) , as more and more Gentiles joined the movement it became (I believe) less and less attractive to the “everyday” Jewish person. After the suppression by Emperor Hadrian of the Bar Kochba revolt (132-136 AD) being Jewish meant being subject to persecution. If you were a Jew who accepted Yeshua or a Gentile who did the same thing, it was less “dangerous” to be Christian than Jewish.  Frankly speaking, the more Gentiles that accepted Yeshua the less appealing it became to Jews (my opinion) and the further from Torah they traveled (historical fact.) By the Third Century when Emperor Constantine had “legitimatized” Christianity (as it was being called then) and began to form doctrine and canon at the Council of Nicene, the schism was complete and Christianity was totally different from Judaism. The apple had fallen far from the tree.

Biggest Lie about Jesus: If you are a Christian the Torah is not applicable to you.

Acts, Galatians, and Romans are the three Epistles that (I believe) have damaged the truth about being a follower of Yeshua with regard to being responsible to follow the commandments and regulations found in the Torah. As we saw in the lie above, as more and more Gentiles entered the group of Jewish Believers, the Mosaic law became not a means of worshiping but a stumbling block. I mean, really- I want to be saved by this Yeshua you have told me about, but I have to let you cut what off my what? I would certainly have to think twice about that one. Especially because no one had invented Novocaine yet! Also, I have been eating anything I wanted to eat, and now I can’t eat any shellfish or pork?

I separate biblical Kosher from Rabbinical- biblical Kosher, as I call it, means essentially no pork or shellfish, but Rabbinical Kosher is keeping in alignment with what the Rabbi’s say: different dishes, no meat and dairy at all, and an entire host of rules and regulations that are hard and complicated to follow, even back then.

Even to be biblically Kosher was a big move and (again, this is just what I believe) these requirements were, for many, a deal-breaker. Clearly, strict and immediate adherence to Torah was a significant barrier, which is why in Acts 15 they reduced the requirements to be a new Believer to just the 4 rules about food and fornication. What people miss, though, is that they say these are just the initial requirements, and the next sentence states that they will be seeing the laws of Moses every day in the Temple. The clear meaning of that is that Torah will be taught to them, eventually. The “Christian world” has conveniently failed to mention that part.  Yeshua said, in Matthew 5:17, he did not come to change the laws. And when He said He came to fulfill them that meant, in the language of the day, that He was interpreting them correctly. Fulfilling a law doesn’t mean doing away with it: if that was true, when you next come to a stop sign or a red light and the car ahead of you comes to a full stop, you don’t need to. That car fulfilled the law so it is no longer valid.

Yeah, right- try that one on the cop when he is writing the ticket.

The truth is simple: Jesus, Yeshua, was Jewish and lived a Jewish lifestyle. In fact, His “claim to fame” is that He lived Torah exactly, perfectly, and as the sinless Lamb of God was acceptable as the sacrifice for sin for all mankind. If Yeshua did not live Torah perfectly, He was not sinless and was not an acceptable sacrifice. Simple. However, since He was raised, then He did live Torah perfectly.

The Christian world asks that the followers of Jesus live as Jesus lived and do as Jesus did. Then they tell you that Torah is only for Jews because Christians have Grace. Grace came from Torah, so without Torah there can be no Grace- that is the message Shaul was trying to get across in Romans.

What Jesus taught was to worship God not just in action but in mind and heart. Jesus was the living Word, and the only word was Torah- reject the Torah and you reject Jesus.

Stop living a lie and get with the program.

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

Who hasn’t heard the story of “The Flood?” It has been told over and over, movies made about it (mostly dreck, stupid Hollywood fodder, fit only to be burned) and most every major civilization has a similar story. They have found evidence of a tremendously wide-spread flood in the Middle East (some 6 feet of clay layered at a level approximate to the time of the flood), and multiple sightings of an “ark” on Mt. Ararat.

Archeologists that search for the Ark are looking for it to prove the bible story to be true. They are like Indiana Jones, seeking the Ark of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail.

The world rejects God, and at the same time, it wants proof that He exists and that the bible is true. And what’s even scarier than that conundrum is that I understand why! It’s because we know that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn’t true. The truth about God, that He exists, that He is going to judge us all and that Yeshua is the Messiah He sent to allow us to escape the judgement we deserve and all we need to do is call on His name to be saved (of course, you still have to work at it), well…it just sounds all too good to be true.  Where’s the catch?

The catch is that although it is true salvation is yours simply for the asking, it is hard to keep.  It will require you to suffer, to lose friends, family and maybe even your life. You must devote yourself to changing your attitude and your actions, and you will be attacked by the enemy every time you draw closer to God. Your life will be more difficult, but with the help of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and the never-ending love and support of God to bring you through things, your life will be richer, more fulfilling and you will be blessed more than you could ever imagine. And even better, because you will have God’s spirit and a new outlook, you will receive and appreciate the blessings you get, which most people who don’t know the Lord can’t really understand, so they don’t feel the fullness of joy that God’s blessings bring. Oh, yes, there’s one more thing…salvation through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is the best retirement plan the universe offers.

So what value is there in proving the flood story to be true? As far as I am concerned, regarding salvation, proving the flood to be a real-life event will not matter at all. Oh, there may be a few people who will “convert” to some form of Born Again realization, but they are probably going to be like the good seed on poor soil. The word of God never returns void, but it does rebound off many ears that are clogged with self-importance and (even worse!) wrongful teachings (i.e., religion.)

Salvation comes one way- through faith. If we prove God exists, if He shows Himself in majesty and splendor, that won’t make a big difference.

“Oh my Gawd!! How can you say that, Steve? God’s majestic presence shown to the world won’t make a big difference? What are you- nuts? Of course it will! It will prove He exists! It will be on YouTube and Twitter! Fox News will even show the video at 6 and 10! The world will see it and believe. Halleluyah!!!”

No, it won’t. How can I say that, so assuredly? Because we’ve seen it already. It’s proven every day that God exists; just look around. The entire nation of Israel saw His majesty and power on Mt. Sinai, they saw His cloud by day and His fire at night, they were given manna from heaven, they saw water come from rocks, they saw Elijah call fire from the sky at Mt. Carmel, they saw David defeat Goliath, they saw the Maccabee’s defeat the best army in the world, they saw the Son of God do miracle after miracle, and they have seen miracles since.

And we still don’t believe. So if God came from heaven and landed right on top of Mt. Carmel, the world would reject Him, still. That’s not my opinion, that’s what it says in Revelations. The bowls of wrath will be poured out on the earth, and people will curse God. In a way, cursing God is (at least) some form of recognition that He might exist, isn’t it? But it’s not accepting Him.

The flood is a wonderful story and has great value for those of us who want to know God better, and the history of His intercession in the lives of His creation. We can talk about how this was the first time people saw rain, how before the flood we were all, men and animals, herbivores but after the flood carnivores came into existence. We can recognize that even before God gave us the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) they were known to people, and how even before God told us in Leviticus not to eat the blood because the life is in the blood, He told Noach not to eat blood. We can trace the generations to see how Ham, being cursed to serve his brothers (and Shem assigned as the leader) has fathered those nations that historically have been the sworn enemies of the descendants of Shem, rebelling against the curse of their father, Noah, by attacking and constantly (to this day still) trying to destroy those that they are to serve.

All of this is interesting stuff, and valuable in understanding where we came from, which explains why things are as they are today.  We are (the United States, that is) interfering in a sibling rivalry that dates back to the Flood. It is not going to get better, it is going to get worse, and the longer we stay involved the more we will end up having to either get out, altogether (which we won’t) or take sides (which we will.) And when I read Revelations it says the entire world will come against Israel in the end days, so I think we can guess which side the US will end up on.

If you follow this blog you know I almost never get “political”, and I am not really trying to be so now. I am just saying that even the US, a long-time friend of Israel, will end up doing what God has said will be done. And when everything that the bible says will happen, happens- many will not believe but, in fact, be turned away from God. That’s right- God’s tribulations will not make more Believers but it will turn those who Believe to apostasy. Again, this isn’t my opinion- Yeshua tells us this will happen: read 2 Timothy 3, read Matthew 24:10, read Revelations and the churches that Yeshua says are failing to do as they should, and how in the last days most will turn away from the faith. Not some, not a lot, but most (this word may be different than ‘most’, depending on which bible interpretation you have.)

Faith is what saves us, faith comes from God (that’s in the bible, too) but it is up to us to work at strengthening our faith. And that is easier than you might think- in the same way we can see the proof of God’s existence we can strengthen our faith- just look around, observe what happens in your life and the lives of others, be open to accept that miracles are all around us, that happenstance and random chance could not ever have resulted in the unbelievable diversity of life that we have here on Earth, and that believing in God and being a slave to Messiah is not a crutch or a cop-out, but the smartest and most ‘freeing’ thing that anyone can do.

People want to feel that they are in control of themselves. I think that is one of the main reasons they reject God- they don’t want to cede control. The sad truth is that they are not, never have been, and never will be in control.  No one human being is in total control of his or her life, but God is in control of everything. If you want to be in control of anything, then you need to be working for the one that controls everything.

I’d be happy if I could just control my hunger, and even better, my tongue. I’m making progress, and that is only because I am asking God to help me.

Who’s helping you stay in control? If it isn’t God, it’s the enemy.  Forget about controlling anything, and just give in to faithful obedience to God. When you try to control things, it always gets screwed up, doesn’t it? C’mon, be honest! You know that we mess things up, all the time. Heck- we’re human. Screwing up is almost the definition of humanity. But God? Well, He doesn’t screw anything up. He is always in control, He always will get what He wants done, done. He is totally flexible, and eternally forgiving and merciful.

Follow God, let Him take the reins, and just faithfully believe. Forget archaeological evidence, forget scientific proof, forget needing to show anyone undeniable evidence that God exists. It’s been done, it’s been shown, and it hasn’t changed anything. Been there, seen that, didn’t even buy the T-shirt!

Just let God be the Boss, do as He says to the best of your ability, and dedicate yourself to being more of what God wants you to be. That’s all you need to do, that’s all you need to “control”, that’s all you will ever need to worry about. And if you do, you will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination!